It’s that time of year again, when we take a look back at what went into our stomachs. Compiling a list of the best restaurants and eateries we sat down to in 2014 is a bit daunting even though we have not been eating out as much as we want to be. However as we read through our one-year worth of blog posts and reviews, some places definitely stood out.
We came out with a TOP 10 list that consists of a good mix of Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish, Malaysian, Chinese and Thai restaurants. There are the restaurants that we have personally visited for the past 12 months, and have been keep going back ever since.
We assemble it in chronological order, so there isn’t any top to bottom ranking.
Gyukingu Japanese BBQ
Gyukingu Japanese BBQ claims itself as the best Yakiniku BBQ restaurant in Malaysia and it is probably true. Beef is Gyukingu’s forte, as they serve beef with all kinds of breedings and feedings from different regions in Japan. However, pork and chicken can also be added to the same wire mesh grill, and internal organs are also much favoured.
There are two important points when it comes to the top yakiniku experience. The first is of course, the quality of the ingredients. The second is the way of grilling the meat. Gyukingu Japanese BBQ succeeds in these factors as it carries some of the best slabs of meat around, and their wait staffs are always there to help to grill. Remember to try out Gyukingu’s version of ox tongue – so springy yet juicy and succulent. They also carry Saga Beef that is recognized as one of the best brands in Japan, ranking with Matsuzaka Beef and Kobe Beef. The tender meat has fine marbling and the fats that melt in mouth.
Gyukingu Japanese BBQ
Address: 28-2, Jalan PJU 5/17, Kota Damansara (above Al-Rajhi bank).
Hours: Opens daily from 10.30am to 3.00pm, 4.30pm to 10.30pm
Kompassion in Damansara Kim is a brain child of executive chef Kom and the team behind My Elephant. Unlike its sister’s restaurants, KomPassion offers diners authentic and pork heavy Northern Thai cuisines with some fusion elements. Expect to see some brilliant ideas such as pork satay with kimchi, soft shell crab salad and otak-otak lasagna here.
One of their star dishes is the moist and tender pork satays served with an exotic looking dipping sauce. The satays have a nice fat-to-meat ratio, resulting in a perfect level of juiciness. The most expensive dish on the menu is the double cooked pork belly and soft shell crab with cucumber salad (RM65), but it is also our favourite dish to order here. The pork belly is perfect in every way – juicy, melt-in-the- mouth meat and dreamy, crispy crackling. The topping of a creamy and thick concoction of green curry sauce is definitely the cream of the crop. Fried till crispy and non-oily on the outside, the soft shell crab is still moist and juicy on the inside. Crunchy vegetables and ground peanuts make an exuberant base for these delicate soft-shell crabs.
It is best to come in a group to split the bill as a meal for two here can easily cost RM100. Remember to wash down the spice after your meal with a bowl of red ruby dessert served with coconut gelato.
KomPassion Thai Fusion
Address: 5, Jalan SS20/11, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya
Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 11.30am – 3.30pm; 6pm – 10.30pm
When we are asked about restaurants that are sure to impress a date, very often we find ourselves suggesting Maison Francaise. Certain restaurants may have great ambiance but they do not please the palate or fill the belly. However, Maisson Francaise fits the bill in every aspect. With its shiny white interiors, a sun-drenched patio, and beautiful art pieces, they are definitely our favourite French restaurant in town.
It is definitely an old favourite but recently, Maison Francaise’s brilliant new chef, chef Thierry, has injected a breath of fresh air to the restaurant. His foei gras terrine with cucumber jelly is a must try. The presentation was exquisite, almost too beautiful to eat and the addition of cucumber jelly gave it a refreshing touch. The mascarpone quenelle, diced apples, and caramel sauce complemented the dish perfectly – sweet and savoury at the same time. We also love his home made smoke Norwegian salmon.
Address: 5 Jalan Changkat Kia Peng, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +60 3 2144 1474
Hours: Mon – Sun: 11:00am – 11.30pm (10:30pm last order)
High Tea, Sat & Sun : 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Hola Barcelona! Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar that specializes in Catalan cuisine has opened its door in Bangsar recently. Head by expat chef David Caral, a Barcelona native with short stints in El Cerdo and Circus, as well as manager Jorge Fernandez from Spain; they take pride In Catalan cooking and hope to introduce this unique cuisine to Malaysians.
It is recommended to start your meal with the cured meat platter that consists of Jamon Iberico, Jamon Serrano, Lomo Iberico,Chorizo Iberico and Fuet served with olives and reganas bread. The cured meat served is of good quality. Even the marinated Spanish olives, is plump and juicy, with some mild herbs and spices taste. The Spanish-style garlic prawns and grilled squid with garlic and parsley sauce are also highly recommended. I don’t always eat squids, but when I do, I like them tender, and this dish delivers it in spades. Everyone raves about the paella. Mercat Barcelona’s paella is meant for sharing, between 2 to 3 pax and a minimum waiting time of 20 minutes is required.
Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar
Address: 51, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur.
Hours: Closed Mondays; currently open for dinner Tues-Fri, all day from lunch on weekends.
Restaurant Pak Thong serves the best Chinese food because the owner, Kau Kiah only gets the freshest supply from the wet market stalls next door.
Pak Thong’s most outstanding dish – stewed pork is simply out of this world. The pork belly is so soft and tender, and the fat melts in mouth with each bite. The ginger fried rice is a popular item to order here – full of “wok hei” and topped with a generous amount of crispy and aromatic shredded ginger. Not many Chinese restaurants in KL serve big sized crabs so when you are here, remember to ask for the XL size ones. The steam crab is one of the best crab dishes that we have ever had in KL. The crabs have plenty of really sweet and juicy flesh. We enjoy having the gravy with steam egg white as it absorbs the crab’s juice during the steaming process. The siong tong lala too, is utterly delicious. Pak Thong uses plenty of basil leaves in the superior soup infused with Chinese wine.
However, we will have to warn you about the restaurant’s surrounding as it is located right next to the wet market. Remember to ask for a table in the air-conditioned section.
Restaurant Pak Thong
Address: Kepong Baru Market, Jalan Ambong Kanan 1, Off Jalan Ambong, Kepong Baru, Kuala Lumpur, Kepong, 52100
Tel: 016-296 8700 (Kau Kiah)
Hours: 11.30am till dinner, daily
Its serious monkey business in Robata Monkey, a robatayaki style izakaya. Robatayaki is a technique in Japanese cuisine where food is grilled over an open sandpit hearth in front of the customer. Coupled with its wide array of local & imported Japanese fresh seafood, juicy meats & seasonal vegetables grilled; Robaya Monkey is definitely a heaven for seafood lovers.
Try the Ichiyaboshi (Salt Dried Saba Fish, RM 60). The salt dried saba fish here is prepared in traditional Japanese method to retain its juiciness. We have tried many saba in many Japanese restaurants before, but nothing beats this. The flesh retains its moisture and the salt dried method boosted the umami and flavor of the fish.
Robata Monkey’s selection of alcohol is also sizable, spanning the spectrum of liquors from beers, to sake to shoju and cocktails.
Address: L-12A-G, Palm Square, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Telephone: +603-7932 5168
Hours: Opens daily from 5pm to 12 mid night
Sae Ma Eul Korean BBQ
Sae Ma Eul exudes a casual vibe, from the exposed brick walls and extensive dark wood, to the stainless steel tables and cute comic strips on the wall, illustrating the 101s of perfecting barbecued meat. Do order the BBQ set meal (RM55) that caters to 2–3 pax and comes with sliced pork belly, pork shoulder, and grilled baby octopus.
The baby octopus has incredible flavours and it is pleasantly chewy but not tough. The special marinade gives it a sweet and spicy flavour – very addictive! Choirutan Jumoekbab (spicy rice ball, RM20) is another must-order item here. The rice dish comes with a pair of disposable gloves, as patrons are required to shape the rice balls themselves. Grill the rice balls over the charcoal fire and the result? Crispy, almost burnt rice crust that gives way to fluffy white rice when you bite into them. It is truly, a fantastic invention.
Sae Ma Eul Korean BBQ
Address: No1, GF 1-1,1-2,1-3,Jalan Solaris 4, Solaris MontKiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: 016- 209 2100
Hours: Business hour: 3pm to 2am. Closed on the last Monday of every month
Sitka is an intimate, 40-seater neighbourhood café cum eatery in Damansara Heights. Its simple two-page menu is inspired by the food scenes of Copenhagen, Barcelona, and London. The menu is constantly evolving, depending on the availability of ingredients and the chef’s new ideas. I like how Sitka sources and uses local produce wherever possible.
For breakfast, our favourite is the braised brisket and sweet potato hash with 63 degree egg. The brisket is so tender that it falls apart when we carve it. The breakfast taco too, is lovely. The texture is a half-crunchy, half-squishy combo due to the scrambled egg and various chopped vegetables in it. The melting oozing cheese is holding everything together and the delicious salsa sauce just jazz up the flavours.
Sitka is not your ordinary café; the food here is lip-smackingly good. The price is a bit on the high side but you get what you pay for.
Address: 8-5 Jalan Batai, Damansara Heights, 50490, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +60 32011 1117
Hours: Open daily from 9am to 6pm
Ask any KLite where to get good roti canai and they will most probably point you to Raju’s or Valentine Roti. We tried both and we like Valentine Roti better.
Located opposite Wisma Celcom at Jalan Semarak, Valentine Roti is a no-frills roadside stall that has been around for almost two decades. You cannot miss the bright yellow signboard that claims it serves the best roti canai in town. The paper thin roti kosong garing is incredibly light and crispy. It is almost grease-free and the roti remain flaky even after I dip it onto the dhal, sambal ikan bilis and curry sauce served on the side. It is so good that we usually order three to four pieces.
Address: No. 1, Jalan Semarak, 54000 Kuala Lumpur (Opposite Wisma Celcom)
Hours: Mon – Sat 4pm – 2am (Closed on Sundays)
Way Modern Chinois
Way Modern Chinois at Damansara Heights is a classy and sensual avant-garde modern cuisine restaurant specializing in contemporary Chinese / Asian cuisine.
In Mandarin, Way means “unique” or “one and only”. From it’s unique entrance of a lift door which opens and transports the dinner to a world of exquisite indulgence, down to the menu which features many modern contemporary dishes and unique infusion of cocktails.
The menu features some interesting items such as the Waterless Chicken Soup. Served in espresso cups, the waterlesss chicken soup is a labour of love from the slow double boiling of free range chickens and not using even a drip of water. Kids and even adults will squeal looking at the porcupine shaped wagyu buns, Gold Rose Wanton and Pac Man Dumplings. Truffle Roasted Duck is the piece de resistane here. Marinated with truffle sauce, double roasted with truffle oil and topped with truffle slices; this dish is a pure indulgence for truffle lovers. This dish needs to be pre-ordered 24 hours in advanced, so be sure to order early.
Way Modern Chinois
Address: G-1, Work @ Clearwater, Jalan Changkat Semantan, Damansara Heights, 50490 Kuala Lumpur
Hours: Opens Monday-Saturday, 12noon to 3pm, 6pm to 1030pm.