Restaurant Discovery #14: Smack Lobster, London (TBT)



This is a throwback post. Oh how I wish I’m still in London. 

Smack Lobster Roll Deli is the baby of the famous Burger & Lobster. I have yet to try those burgers but I heard only good things. Plus the amount of people that queue up in the cold proves it. Then I heard that Smack Lobster is a lot better and cheaper. 

After a long day of shopping in Oxford Street, I dragged my boyfriend to try this low priced shellfish on a bun. As you walked in, there’s a wall with the menu on it. The menu is short and straight to the point. They offer lobster roll 4 ways – Happy Ending, California, Seven Samurai and the Mexican. 

We both ordered the California roll (£9.00) and loved it. The lobster fillings were served in a lightly toasted brioche bun that was soft with buttery crunch. The filling was generous and well flavoured with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, avocado mayo with lime.

However, the star of the night for me was the side order of Courgette Fries (£3.60). The deep fried courgette was crunchy on the outside with the Japanese styled breadcrumbs and soft on the inside but still have a bite to it. It was seasoned well and was also sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. We were tempted to order a second serving of it. 

The chowder (£3.60) was velvety with chunks of lobster. It needed a bit more salt but after a small packet of table salt, it was delicious. In the cold winter night, it was perfect like a warm hug in a bowl. 

It is the perfect spot for a quick meal before, during or after shopping or a night out in the busy oxford street. Just a stone away from selfridges. The service is fast and there’s ample seating space or you can have a fuss free lobster for take away. 

Smack Lobster Roll Deli:

26-28 Binney Street

Mayfair, London 

W1K 5BN

Good luck! 

Love, 

A

Cafe discovery #13: Sangkaya Nuts About Coconuts @ Ampang Point

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I was drooling all over the place when my Instagram feed was mostly pictures of this beauty back in December 2014 when I was in London. I searched high and low for something similar in London just to ease the cravings but to no avail. When I got back in Kuala Lumpur, I was drowned by work and I got sick but the cravings were still there.

Finally a few weeks back, my mum and I got a taste of this kick-ass coconut ice-cream. To say that it was delicious is an understatement. It was everything I imagined it to be and more. Made purely from coconut milk, it is super creamy without any sickening after taste. The toppings help to add texture and it includes toasted desiccated coconut, oats, corns and peanuts. For four mini scoops of ice-cream in the husk of a young coconut with any 3 toppings, it will cost you RM9.90. If you dig deep, you will get some sweet coconut flesh to enjoy. This is the ice-cream for those chronic die-hard coconut ice-cream fans like me.  This, satisfied my cravings.

Sangkaya Nuts About Coconuts
Lot FM11 Ground Floor,
Ampang Point Shopping Centre,
Jalan Memanda 3,
68000 Ampang
Selangor

Good luck!

Love,
A

Restaurant Discovery #12: The Breakfast Club – Soho, London

I was in London to celebrate christmas and new year with my boyfriend. Before I left Malaysia, I made a list of all the places I wanted to dine in and of course The Breakfast Club was on the list. Jetlag and all, I dragged my poor boyfriend to Soho to have Sunday brunch at The Breakfast Club.

I had heard wonderful things about this place. So it was expected for it to be full. But we were  not expecting a lengthy, slow-moving queue of people. We stuck out the queue in the cold Sunday morning for around 1 hour and 15 minutes and I must say, it was worth it. My boyfriend is not one to queue for anything, but we went to The Breakfast Club 3 times in the 2 weeks that I was there. Need I say more?

The inside of the eatery had a vibe of the 1985 film of the same name (which I am a massive fan of). The brick walls were covered with polaroids and drawings. Chic mismatched chairs and wooden tables crowd a very small space which made moving around a bit of a task. Once seated, we were provided with a menu with a range of breakfast options.

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I am not a “pig” eater. So no sausages, ham, chorizo, bacon… Non of that. With that in view, I wasn’t expecting much when it comes to breakfast as it is always the fry up that gets the thumbs up. But I was very much impressed with the Eggs Royale (£9.20) which is smoked salmon on toasted english muffins with hollandaise sauce. The eggs were beautifully poached with runny yolk and the hollandaise sauce was just the perfect consistency. I also ordered a side of the Home-style Fried Potatoes (£2.50) and the Portobello Mushroom (£1.50). I was obsessed with the potatoes. The seasoning of it was just delicious with a strong taste of rosemary. It had crispy skin and it was soft and fluffy on the inside. I know it says its fried potatoes, but it tasted like it was roasted potatoes. IN LOVE!

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On our second trip, I had the Veggie Breakfast Burrito (£8.50). I am a fan of mexican food, especially nachos, fajitas and burritos. This breakfast burrito was all kinds of good it made me consider converting to vegetarian. It did not have meat but it did not lack flavour. The veggies were sauteed with some kind of spicy special sauce and it made everything in the wrap taste wonderful. I am not a fan of onions or bell peppers, but this was on another level. The scramble eggs inside was just the right consistency, the guacamole was delicious. It was nothing complicated but the faultless assembly of quality ingredients made it a favourite.

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The third trip, I had to order the Veggie Breakfast Burrito again since it was so delicious the first time, and my boyfriend and I decided to share the Pancake and Berries (£8.50). Their pancake was doused in maple syrup but not too much to saturate the fluffy pancake. The vanilla cream was the perfect balance of creamy and sweet and berries added the tartness the dish needed. It was no other than perfection.

For those meat eaters that loves a fry up, my boyfriend’s favourite was the Chorizo Hashbrowns (£9.20). He mentioned that the Chorizo was strong in flavour but very delicious. And like me, he absolutely loved the home-style fried potatoes it came with. The plate was full of flavour he said.  A successful modern twist to a fry up. Twice out of the three trips we made to the Breakfast Club, he ordered this dish.

The service was fast with a genuine smile. The friendly staffs did not chased us out and seemed unfazed by the popularity of their small place. Aware of the hungry people queueing in the cold outside, we did not linger overly long once we were finished. Every time we stepped out the cafe with a full stomach we whisper to ourselves, “the queue was worth it”.

Ambience: 7 out of 10
Food: 8 out of 10
Service: 8 out of 10
Price: £

The Breakfast Club, Soho
33 D’Arblay Street
London
W1F 8EU

020 7434 2571

Good luck!

Love,
A

Restaurant Discovery #11: Acme Bar & Coffee @ Jalan Binjai

My visit to Acme Bar & Coffee is long overdue. The first time I went, the waiting time for a table for 2 was 45 minutes so my friend and I decided to skip it. Only last week I manage to finally try the dishes at this “the talk of town” restaurant.

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Acme Bar & Coffee is located at Troika, Jalan Binjai. The whole design of the restaurant is very contemporary but cosy. They have only launched their winter menu and so the restaurant was decorated very christmas-sy which I absolutely adore. It’s never too early to start getting excited for christmas! I had to make a reservation to avoid waiting for a table again and I was glad that they do take reservation.

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The winter menu looked great. They had a mixture of everything. I was spoilt for choice, I did not know what to order. In the end, for my starter, I had the Mozzarella Berries Burrata (RM35.00). It is a beautiful tiny serving of fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, sake cherry tomatoes, berries, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. A gorgeous modern twist to a classic Caprese Salad. I truly enjoyed this dish. The balsamic vinegar was reduced to the perfect consistency, it was sweet but still holds its tartness. The sake cherry tomatoes had a similar taste to sundried tomatoes but very juicy and plump. The star of the dish had to be the fresh clean-flavoured mozzarella. It was just beautiful. Definitely worth the money!

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My friend was raving about the Strawberry, Pamelo & Rocket Salad (RM25.00) which she has previously ordered and so she ordered it again. The salad was a funny one to be in a winter menu as I thought it was the perfect summer salad. It was fresh, tangy, sweet and very citrusy which the kind of taste that does not belong in winter. The combination of flavour of the fruits and rockets were beautifully combined with the balsamic vinaigrette.

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For my main course, I ordered the Baby Lobster Fettuccine (RM35.00). Most restaurant when they do fusion, they shy away from the variety of flavours and play it safe. This dish impressed me because it shows that the chef is confident in his mixture of flavours that you taste each and every one of the ingredient. You can smell the beautiful saffron in the sauce that coats the perfectly cooked fettuccine. The taste of turmeric doesn’t overpower the other flavours of the dish and you still get the beautiful smell and taste of thyme in the cream sauce. The lobster was sweet and juicy, the beans and asparagus still had a bit of crunch to them. I had no trouble finishing this bowl of delicious pasta. The flavours were combined amazingly.

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My friend ordered the Aloha Pizzadillas (RM33.00) for her main course and I had a few slices of the pizza. The base was not the usual thin crust pizza base but they used a pitta bread instead which made it so much lighter and I must say to my surprise, I much prefer it on this base. Instead of using the traditional tomato sauce, they used herbs cream sauce which was delicious. The smoke turkey breast was not dry although they were teared into small pieces. The pineapple was sweet and juicy, rockets added freshness to the pizza and the generous amount of cheese on the pizza was what made it even more delicious than what it already was.

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After we were done with our main courses, we decided to order the Patate Fritte (RM25.00) which was chips in a form of balls. It was crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The curry leaves didn’t do much to the flavours. It came with a chilli mayo on the side for dipping and it was nice. Perfect for a snack while we continue chatting and gossiping.

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Although I am not a fan of all things chocolate, I had to give their infamous Sizzling Brownie & Oreo Ice-Cream (RM19.00). As the waiter walked on to our table with the pipping hot sizzling bowl with a piece of brownie in it, I got worried because all I could smell was something burning. It was fun watching  waiter pour the chocolate sauce and it started sizzling and bubbling away. The brownie was not too chocolate-ty which I like and it had bits of nuts in it. The oreo ice-cream was dreamy. It was what made the dish truly special.

Overall, I am very impressed with Acme Bar & Coffee. It lived up to the hype and I can see that I will be visiting this restaurant regularly. The service is fast with friendly staffs, the food is on point and the deco is just beautiful. Although when I was there, they had problem with their air conditioner so it was pretty annoying having a massive fan in front of us.Hopefully they have fixed that problem by now.

Ambience: 8 out of 10
Food: 8 out of 10
Service: 8 out of 10
Price: $$

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Acme Bar and Coffee (ABC)
Ground Floor at The Troika,
19 Persiaran KLCC,
50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

+60 3-2162 2288 

Good luck!

Love,
A

Restaurant Discovery #10: Metal Box @ Empire Damansara

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“People think they can open a fancy, cool looking restaurant, serves below average food and charge us ridiculous amount of money for it and call it a good business” was what my dad said after we left Metal Box for my sister’s birthday dinner last week.  And I have to agree.

Metal Box is a new trendy eatery that is located at a new mall/office space in Damansara. When you walk in, you get the whole industrial, minimal but cool deco going on. It was a saturday night and I was expecting a full house since I have heard raving reviews about this place. It was not as busy as I was expecting.

The menu was small but still ambitious serving mostly western food. There were only 5 pasta dishes, 5 mains and the rest were appetisers and side dishes. Even that, on a saturday night at around 8pm,  a couple of the main dishes were “unavailable”. Nothing annoys me more when I’m all set to order and the waiter says what I wanted is currently unavailable. I would’ve appreciated a little heads up before I look at the menu and made up my mind what I wanted so I wouldn’t be disappointed.

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I wanted the Steak A La Minute and much to my annoyance, it was unavailable. So instead I opted for the Smokey Chiken Pesto (RM18.90). The portion was tiny. It was literally pasta with pesto sauce and smoke chicken. Nothing else. The pesto sauce was runny and and lack basil flavour. There was definitely more pine nuts than basil leaves in the pesto. The sauce was so runny it did not stick to the pasta so I had to ask for extra parmesan cheese. The pasta was al dente but lack seasoning. However, the smoke chicken was slightly salty so I’m guessing that is why they didn’t season the rest of the dish. I was expecting something more than just a green pasta with chicken. At least some mushrooms.

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My parents ordered the Orange Swimmer (RM33.90) even though my mum actually wanted their My Last Barn which is a half spring chicken but that was also unavailable. The Orange Swimmer was described as “pan-seared marinated salmon steak paired with tempura avocado and gnocchi, dressed in homemade vierge sauce & red wine glaze”. Firstly, as you can see from the picture, it is not a salmon steak. More like half a salmon steak. It is tiny for the price which explains my dad’s statement in the beginning. Tempura avocado is too out of the box that it did not work. Avocado is creamy in texture and taste. To fry it, made it soggier and the taste was not right. Gnocchi was too soft it melts in your mouth without any bite to it and the vierge sauce with red wine glaze was overwhelmingly bitter. Non of the ingredients on the plate work well together. It was too ambitious and too much going on in a plate.

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Vegetarian Aglio Olio (RM15.90) was what my sister’s boyfriend ordered. I get that Aglio Olio means garlic and oil, but there were too many roughly chopped garlic that you will end up biting a big piece of garlic with every mouthful of pasta. The bell peppers that was in the pasta over powered the whole dish. All you could taste was the bell peppers until you take a bite of the garlic. Other than that it was decent.

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My sister’s friend also joined us for dinner that night and ordered the Beef Ragout Pasta (RM18.90). On the menu it wrote “signature” on the side of the dish so I was expecting a lot when I had a taste of this dish. The sauce was again too runny it did not stick to the pasta. The Australian striploin was a waste of good piece of meat as it was so dry that it actually tasted like it had a chicken liver texture. The mushroom added an extra umph of flavour to the sauce but there was nothing special about it for it to be their signature dish.

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The birthday girl ordered the Seafood Marinara (RM24.90) and was happy when she saw the size of the prawn that was on the dish. 2 pieces of prawns and 3 tempura calamari to me does not scream seafood. There should be more creatures of the sea on that plate for that price. The marinara sauce was average. It could do a few more minutes on the stove to intensify the tomato flavour but other than that the tomato sauce was decent.

We were thinking of ordering dessert but after everyone being not very impressed with their mains, we decided to skip dessert and make our way home.

Ambience: 6 out of 10
Food: 3 out of 10
Service: 7 out of 10
Price: $$

Metal Box Restaurant & Cafe
G12, Empire Damansara,
Damansara Perdana,
Petaling Jaya, Selangor

 

Good luck!

Love,
A

This is the end…

Day 100: Reasons why everyone should work in a restaurant at least once. 

Instead of talking about what I had for dinner on the 100th day of my Happy days food version challenge, I want to tell you something about myself. When I was reading Law in UK, I worked in a well established Malaysian restaurant in London part-time and full-time during term break. My experience there shaped who I am today. This is the reason why I think everyone should experience working in a restaurant at least once in their life time.

1. Self-respect: I remember feeling like a complete worthless servant when a customer literally snapped his finger to call for me. Slouching on his chair snapping his finger as I walked away from another table. To avoid being in serious trouble, I could only smile and ask what I can help him with. Your self-respect is challenged nightly when you work in a restaurant. You learn that there will always be people who will make you feel bad about yourself like those who belittle you and talk down to you. Self respect is about learning to look past all that bullshit and learn that those people and their opinion of you does not matter. You know you better than anyone else.

2. Manners: Working in a restaurant helps me appreciate good manners. A simple please and thank you will suffice. I feel happy when customers treat me like a human being. When they acknowledge that I am a human being, not a robot that is there to serve them food. I was not particularly rude, but my manners were rather slacking before I worked in a restaurant. Now, whenever I dine out, I never fail to thank my waiters and say please whenever I am ordering. I apologise a lot more when I feel like I am troubling them. Most time than not, I would eat what was given to me rather than returning it to the kitchen unless it was not edible. From my observations, Malaysian tends to be rude to their waiters. We don’t practice saying “please” and “thank you” here and that frustrates me. Most times when they are ordering, they will say “give me…” instead of “can I please have…”. I think little changes like that can help make people’s day. I know it made my day when I have polite customers.

3. Patience: As you all know, diners can sometimes be a pain in the ass. Some are just impatient brats, others trying to impress their company. Being patient with disrespectful strangers might just be the most useful skills I have learnt. Being able to put aside personal preferences in order to get the job done, takes a lot of effort. But patient is a virtue. You will learn that quickly working in a restaurant.

4. Wait to be seated: I try to make reservation whenever I can. Especially when I am dining with 4 or more people. It makes it a lot easier for everyone. I also learnt that you should wait to be seated. No matter if there is a sign that says “please wait to be seated” or not. ALWAYS WAIT TO BE SEATED! That restaurant might look empty, but all the seats might already be reserved. It is good manners to wait to be seated.

5. Tipping: It is not the culture in Malaysia to tip. But I always try to tip whenever I am dining in a restaurant. Even my dad made it a habit to tip now because he saw how hard I work when I was a waitress and a good tip always makes me happy. Those who makes ridiculous request and withhold a good tip deserves to be publicly shame! Tipping no matter how little is a sign of appreciation. You might not enjoy the food, but remember that the waiter tried their best to make your dining experience a good one.

6. Do not go into a restaurant unless it is open for another hour: I used to hate customers that comes in 15 minutes before the restaurant closes and stay on for another hour or so. Not cool! Usually restaurants take last orders 30 minutes before it closes. When you do come at that time, please remember that the staffs have a home to go to after a long shift. We can’t kick you out, so just have some respect to leave when the restaurant is closed.

7. Friends for life: When working in a restaurant, you are completely you – very open, unfiltered version of yourself. You go behind the bar and bitch about the customers, eat untouched plate of food that they returned to the kitchen without shame, you no longer care about being professional. The friends you make working in a restaurant last for years because you got to know the stripped down version of them. I ended up with 2 sisters and a 3 years and still counting boyfriend after working in that restaurant.

Just remember diners, no matter who you are, please be nice to your waiter. It is true when they say “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person”. The way you treat your waiter reveals a lot about your character. I have served a successful lawyer, a royal family, a famous designer and they are all nice to their waiter. Those who came in and demand a seat saying “do you know who I am?” is a nobody to me. How much money you make means nothing if you have no manners. It does not cost a penny to be nice.

Good luck!

Love,

A

Cafe Discovery #9: Lapis @ Wangsa Maju

Day 99: Lapis @ Wangsa Maju

My family and I went to Lapis cafe today for dinner. Lapis means layers in Malay. I was told that the menu was rather limited and that it is a cafe not a restaurant. The decor is very “hipsteresque” which I like. Very modern and cute. Definitely an instagramable spot.

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The menu only had 10 main dishes, a couple of sides and kids food and a few drinks. Very limited. They also do daily specials and today, it was “pulled” lamb sandwich (RM 18.00). Of course I ordered that as my main dish. Service was quick and it arrived rather fast. They buttered up a cut of french bread and had a few thinly sliced lettuce and a generous amount of shredded lamb meat in between the bread. It came with chips, garlic aioli and a runny chilli vinaigrette. The chips were decent. Really thick cut, soft on the inside chips. Garlic aioli I found really garlicky and the runny chilli vinaigrette was strange. It had a really strong vinegar smell and taste. I don’t know whether to have that with the lamb sandwich or the chips. It definitely didn’t go with the sandwich. Neither was it any better with the chips. The lamb sandwich was dry. There was nothing interesting about it. The lamb smells and it had no taste. It would’ve help if it had a barbecue sauce or caramelised onion or even pickles to help give it taste and not leave it so dry.

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My sister ordered the Creamy Fusilli (RM16.00) which was basically fusilli in a bowl of mushroom soup.  It was literally just garlic, onion, cream, thyme and a few slices of button mushroom. It was well seasoned and the sauce was nice. The sauce was just too runny to be a pasta sauce. Runnier than a bowl of mushroom soup. Some parmesan cheese would’ve help to thicken the sauce and make it stick to the pasta.The fusilli was over cooked – you don’t have to chew it anymore, it just melts in your mouth. Since the sauce was too runny, the fusilli ended up tasteless and tasted separate from the sauce. It was a disappointment really.

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Usually cafes like this, they concentrate on their coffee and desserts. Since I don’t drink coffee, I had to try their dessert. I ordered the carrot cake and it was a tiny portion. It definitely was an awesome slice of cake. The creme cheese frosting was smooth and not too salty. The frosting and cake ratio was perfect. The carrot cake was moist and it was not over powered by the spices. Walnut was in the cake too and it added texture. It was beautiful.

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My sister ordered a banana flavoured whoopie pie (RM2.50). I’ve never tried a whoopie pie before. But I know it’s traditionally a tiny sponge cake with icing in between. Their whoopie pie was dense probably because of the banana flavour. I’m not too sure. It was nice and moist and not too sweet. I can taste a little bit of nuts in the cake, probably walnuts. It was decent but the carrot cake was definitely a winner.

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The service was fast and waiters were all attentive to the customers. However, I was pretty concern when I saw all the waiters with long hair, men and women, not tying their hair serving customers with food. I don’t think thats proper. Thats just my opinion. Lapis is a nice cafe for when you want to grab a quick bite or to catch up with friends over coffee and cake. It is a really pretty cafe. I adore the decor.

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Ambiance: 7 out of 10
Food: 5 out 10
Service: 6 out of 10
Price: $$

Cafe Lapis
No.3, Jalan Wangsa Delima 1A
Seksyen 5 Wangsa Maju
53300 Kuala Lumpur
Tel:  03-4141 8297

Good luck!

Love,
A