October 23, 2012

Spasso... Milano Italian Cuisine

The first time we walked right up to the door and took a peek.  It was empty...no tables were occupied. We decided to go somewhere else to eat. The second time around we walked straight inside. Actually, we have already decided on the place after hearing a few recommendations from friends. I liked what I saw the minute we walked inside...Spasso, an Italian restaurant located in Straits Quay.
As we took our seats, I could not help telling the men (with me) that the place looked sparkling. All so beautiful…done in simple design with a theme of white and stainless steel. I loved the way the tables were positioned. They were quite apart from each other. It was something I always preferred in a restaurant. For me, that gives 'privacy' in dining.
The appetiser we had was a plate of Bruschetta Al Pomodoro (RM18.80). It was a plate of toasted focaccia bread topped with tomato, garlic, basil and extra virgin olive oil. It would be nothing spectacular if not for the focaccia bread. That, I have to say was a good slice of bread.
Porcini mushroom soup
After much debating, (we could not make up our minds), we settled on a bowl of porcini mushroom (RM18.80) soup. I could smell the nice aroma of the soup as the waiter placed the bowl on our table.  I took a scoop of the soup. Woo, it had a lot of substance in that it was creamy and thick with chopped porcini mushrooms. The soup had a nutty-woodsy and sweet taste. I took another spoonful and decided I did not like the overpowering taste of the mushrooms and white truffle oil (drizzled on top). The other two loved the soup and kept telling me that it was Italian soup 'for real'. 
Chicken Valdostana
A plate of Chicken Valdostana (chicken escalope topped with baked chicken ham and Fontana cheese-RM38.80) and a plate of Chicken Picata (Pan-fried chicken fillet coated with egg and Parmesan cheese-RM28.80) were our next orders.
Chicken Picata
The Chicken Valdostana was just 'so-so' was hubby's remarks. I had a piece and could not agree more. Maybe as Malaysians, we need something stronger.  Italian cooking would be bland compared to our curries. (LOL). I asked hubby to add the condiments from the little containers. Shredded cheese, salt and chilli pepper. The Chicken Picata was not too bad. I thought they were like mini omelettes. The capers sprinkled on the top of the pieces added extra flavour. The pasta aglio olio (pasta tossed in virgin olive oil, garlic and ground chilli pepper) was a good combination. Had it been in any form, I think we would be 'jelak'. Do not judge the portion served as little.  The three of us could not finish off the pasta. 
The stand out of the whole meal (main course) was without a doubt the Pizza Margherita (RM26.80). It looked different from what we had in Italy but the taste was awesome. Being wood fried; the pizza had a smoky, woodsy taste. The basil used was fresh and fragrant. The tomatoes tasted juicy and sweet and lastly...lots of mozzarella. The pizza dough was equally good. It was light and not rubbery in bite. 
A cup of Tiramisu
Spasso serve very nice desserts. We had the Tiramisu (RM18.80) and Panna Cotta (RM14.80). The tiramisu deliciously melted in my mouth. I attest... the taste was awesome.  The Panna Cotta also deserved two thumbs up. It was slightly wobbly, creamy and good to the last lick. In fact, both deserts were licked clean.
Panna Cotta
Affogato-RM12.80
The Affogato (espresso with vanilla gelato/ice cream) and Cappuccino were both good coffee.  There was no scrimping here. The coffee was aromatic and thick (not liquid).
Cappuccino-RM12.80
Spasso has quite a wide selection of other Italian food. Ravioli, spaghetti, etc. There is also quite a wide selection of pizza. We agreed that the staff were friendly and helpful. The chef, an Italian even came out to bid us good bye and good night as we walked to the exit.:o) 
SPASSO MILANO ITALIAN CUISINE, Lot 3C-G-2, Block C, Ground Floor, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong.  Business Hours: 12 noon-11:00pm. Tel: 604 8912888. **10% Service Charge and 6% Government Tax.

October 10, 2012

Las Carretas...Mexican

"Are both of you game for Mexican food?" was BB's question when asked what he would like to have for dinner. Where I was concerned, I was not game for anything except the bed. We have been on the road since 10 am on that day. We were caught in the heavy traffic in KL. Bumper to bumper driving that was how bad it was. If that was not enough, we spent almost two hours trying to locate our hotel. We checked into the hotel and before I could, climbed into bed for a short nap it was time for dinner.
 
The restaurant was only a 20 minutes drive from BB's apartment but all thanks to a GPS gadget that knows no shortcut route; we took an hour to reach. Las Carretas is a nice restaurant that serves Mexican food such as Burritos, Quesadillas, Enchilada and many more. The place looked colourful. The displayed wine bottles, candles and other cheesy chintzy items looked cluttered but done in a beautiful manner. There are even plastic palm trees to give that tropical feeling. 
 
Whilst we sat talking and waiting for our food, a basket with tortilla chips and salsa arrived (FOC). A piece of chip and a dip into the salsa...oohlala, the dip was delicious and so was the chip. There was enough jalapeno, tomato and it had a tinge of smoky flavour. 
El Presidente (RM25.50)
Our drinks arrived shortly. According to BB, this place served very good margarita. Hubby took a sip and agreed with him.
The glass of Pina Colada (RM16.90) had all three of us disappointed. The coconut used was not of the fresh kind and it tasted ‘old and oily’. However, we have no complaint as to the rum used. It was good and enough. A glass of iced lemon tea (RM5.50) was what I had solely to myself. That was what I needed badly.
As BB bit into his burrito (RM25.90), he raved that there was nowhere else in Kuala Lumpur that served burrito like Las Carretas. As I watched him cut and chew each piece, I have to agree that it must be tasty. I am not a beef person so I took nothing from his plate.
To go with his Burrito BB added an extra order of guacamole dip (RM3). I was slowly nodding off waiting for my food but at his insistence, I took a chip and dipped into the dip. "Holy mole", this is guacamole is heavenly.  There was lots of avocado, enough onions, garlic and tomatoes. Then there was this extra ingredient. "There, there I told you so, it is good!" BB piped in. Hubby mumbled (he had some tortilla chips in his mouth) an agreement. Do try this dip if you happen to drop by this restaurant.
Hubby had a plate of braised lamb shank served with pasta (RM39.90). He cut a small piece for me to taste. The meat was so tender and well seasoned there really was no need for the sauce that came with it. The sauce was good though...peppery, BBQ flavoured sauce with some herbs.
I had a plate of Salchicha de Pollo (RM27.90).  It was a plate of sausages with some sauce. I thought the taste of the sauce dribbled over the sausages tasted like the sauce on hubby's plate. The sausages had me disappointed. I would expect some gourmet sausages served but it was not to be. They tasted like the frankfurters I bought from the supermarket. I ate only the salad and the chips. The rest, I handed them over to the other two sitting across me. :o)
I forgot to check their business hours but I know that it closes at 10:30pm. The location of Las Carretas : 29 Jalan USJ 10/1F, Subang Jaya, Selangor. Tel: 03-5637 3058. It is in TAIPAN, USJ. The road in front of Las Carretas is a one-way street.**10% Service Charge & 6% Government Tax.

September 22, 2012

Western Spices...@ Green Hall

It was an impromptu visit to Western Spices as the restaurant we had wanted to visit was not accessible (road closed). This premise used to house Spice & Rice then Straits Kitchen Restaurant and now Western Spices
 
As we stepped into the restaurant, the first thing I did was check to see if I am appropriately dressed. The interior was not all chandeliers but it exudes a kind of classy look.  The chairs had drapes of brown and beige right to the ground level. Never mind that we were not properly attired (there was no dress code); all the same the waiter/waitress were courteous. A waiter handed us the menus. There are lamb, chicken, beef, fish, duck and pasta.   I noticed there are even vegetarian dishes listed.
 
 After browsing through, both of us opted for the set-dinner.  It was a five-course set. 
A plate of nachos with homemade salsa was the starter.  I forgot to ask if the nachos were homemade.  It tasted like packet ones but both of us enjoyed the crunchy bites just as well, dipped in the delightful salsa. 
Next was a bowl of yellow coloured soup.  I loved the presentation of the soup with the cream on top. The yellow colour and creamy taste had both of us actually saying the same thing...pumpkin soup on our first mouthful. A second mouthful had me wondering. A check with the waiter told us that it was potato and onion soup.  A good combination, the soup was delicious.
The plate of Stinco di Agnello-RM68.90 (2 hours oven braised lamb shank served with vegetables and mashed potato) that arrived soon after we finished our soup looked mouth watering.  True to its looks, that piece of lamb shank was tantalizing.  It lifted easily off the bone, was tender and juicy with a homemade sauce fragrant with herbs. I noticed that the chef used many kinds of herbs in his cooking.
The plate of Grilled Salmon fillet (RM59.90) came served with homemade tomato sauce, mashed potato and vegetables.  The fillet came well seasoned, not over grilled and fresh.  Dipping a cut piece into the homemade sauce was divine.  There was also something different and extra.  Another pleasing addition was a piece of crispy salmon skin.  
Sean Ooi--performs on Tuesdays
There are also live performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.  That sets for a very nice dining ambience.
A slice of cake arrived as dessert. I would say a generous slice considering that it was a set meal. I paid little attention to the taste of the cake. (The pianist was playing beautiful songs and I was engrossed with the music.)  All I remembered was it was a pillowy mousse cake. It must have been nice or I/we would have complained.  
:o)
If you like food that is European, Italian, Steakhouse, British. etc...then visit WESTERN SPICES, No. 1 Green Hall, 10200 Penang. Tel: 04-2611 553. H/P No: 012-7903318/0127993318. Person/s to contact: Nick Lau/Ally Tan Business Hours: 11:30 am-11:00pm.  High Tea time: 3:00pm-5:30 pm.
**6% Government Service Tax & 5% Service Charge. 

September 11, 2012

Bella Marino @ Straits Quay

Bella Marino Ristorante & Pizzeria...one of the many restaurants found in Straits Quay.  The restaurant looked neat and it had a Christmas theme (so I thought) being done up in the colours of the flag of Italy. I was not the only one with that thought as a young boy behind me started singing 'Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells', as he followed us into the restaurant with his parents. His sister sang 'We wish you a Merry Christmas'. I had to stifle a laugh. They both sounded so cute.
The first thing I ranted when we were seated was how close the tables were placed. I think we would have knocked elbows had there been other diners at the next table.  
 
Bella Marino serves Italian food as informed by the staff.  The menu has Bruschetta, Frittura D calamari (squid fritters), Pasta, and Risotto, fish, and meat and poultry dishes. Pizzas are also available.
We settled for the Set Meal after browsing through the menu.  The Spigola Croccanti Fritti Ana Puttanesca (Crispy friend marinated whole Sea Bass Puttanesca style-RM65)) was not available as in finished.  Therefore, we both ordered the same...Spalla D'Agnello Arrosto (sliced marinated roast lamb shoulder served with BBQ sauce (RM49.90).  Both of us enjoyed the pumpkin soup.  It was thick (not runny) and rich with cream.
The plate of sliced roast lamb shoulder arrived and had a good aroma.  As I put a piece of the lamb with some BBQ sauce, I thought it tasted similar to a few other places that served Western style food.  Was it not supposed to be Italian food? Anyway, we enjoyed the lamb.  It was tasty and tender. The gravy had a generous supply of sliced mushrooms, full with flavour and not too peppery. A big blob of mashed potato was 'hidden' under the pieces of lamb.  The only disappointment with the lamb was there was too much fat. By the time I finished the plate of meat, there was a heap of fats by the side. I would say it was equal amount of fats and meat. Even hubby lamented that the lamb had too much fat (even though he had always love his lamb with fats).
For dessert, we were served each a slice of tiramisu. The sight of the slice made me salivate. I love tiramisu.  It was quite good.  It melted in my mouth. However, I could not detect the ladyfingers. It was only when we turned a little of the cake over did we noticed the paper-thin layer of ladyfinger.  That did not make me happy.  In addition, the rum and espresso was not there (maybe the cocoa powder overpowered the amount used).  It came with the set meal so we thought that we should not expect too much. 
 
We decided to indulge a little more by ordering a helping of Panna Cotta (RM10.90).  The Panna Cotta was below my expectation.  It was too hard though it was creamy.  The generous portion of the lingonberry confiture (I think it was lingonberry) sort of made up for the texture of this dessert. 
The coffee ended our meal on a happier note.  It was a good cup of Tonino Lamborghini. The Set Meal for the above (minus the panna cotta) cost us RM49.90/pax.
**10% SERVICE CHARGE & 6% GOVERNMENT TAX.