Thursday, June 26, 2014

Eating one's soul out at Souled Out, Sri Hartamas


It has been a long time since I have been back to this restaurant, which has been and still is one of the most happening eatery in the heart of the upscale Desa Sri Hartamas.

Souled Out Sri Harts, as they are fondly referred to (pet reference to their first and flagship outlet here) remains steady as one of the pulse for the hip night life in the area for more than a decade now, and they have recently expanded their business with their latest outlet in Ampang.

I have yet to visit their new outlet, and it is still to the original outlet that I return (possibly for that dear sense of familiarity?)
The place was clearly decked in the recent fervor of the ongoing World Cup 2014 with the different country flags waving from the ceilings and attires of the servers.




Dragonfly is the pride here; and I remembered myself ordering this exact same drink on my first visit here.
The bold combination of mixing red dragon fruit, watermelon, strawberry puree, lychee syrup, and fresh lemon juice gives the drink a rather revitalizing fruity taste with a slight chill as one takes a sip of this vibrant juice. It can appear to be a little sweet at first, followed by the thrilling sensation as the variety of the fruits takes charge of the taste buds, sending signals of uniqueness from their individual tastes yet stirring that imagination of the drinker in figuring out the types of fruits involved in the making of this drink. It indeed sends one on an enjoyable ride, and it is fitting that the menu describes it as one that will send one 'flitting' happily like a dragonfly

Sizzling Chicken Chop (MYR25) is a new item on their menu.
Served on a sizzling hot plate; hence the name, the chicken fillet is grilled with mushrooms, roast potatoes, sautéed panache vegetables, and slightly grilled romaine lettuce.


Pan Seared Grouper (MYR28) 
Grilled grouper fish fillet over mixed Cajun pasta, topped with roasted sliced cherry tomato, zucchini ribbons and pepper remains my personal favorite every time I am here, and it is no surprise this is the exact same item I ordered on my last visit. (I will give it up to try others, someday)

However, I was a little disappointed this round, as the grouper fillet spent a longer time over the grill than intended, and was slightly amiss in the tender department in its usually smooth flesh.
I missed that taste from my first visit; whereby the grouper fillet was just lightly heated on the grill, and the juicy flesh was just temptingly luscious with every bite; a sensation that one is treated with a fresh catch directly from the sea and cooked almost instantly.
I am sure this is just a mild inconsistency, and I am sure this will be fixed, for I still look forward to having this on my next visit.


The restaurant is heading for renovation and it was a good time for me to drop by to relive the old face of Souled Out before it goes under the drill, and I am guessing that by the time I return for the next visit, it will be an all brand-new Souled Out.

Looking forward to more goodies and eating our souls out again, real soon~



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Authentic Taiwanese spread at Kocha

Kocha Taiwanese restaurant is one of my personal favorite restaurants; and is one of the rare ones which serve authentic Taiwanese cuisine.
Well, there is not many to begin with; as I have mentioned in my previous post on Taiwanese food, this is one restaurant which has persisted and gone through the test of time over the years on this world-renowned touristy island and I have been a regular since its early days.
In fact, I have posted on my personal dining experiences more than once; with my usual favorites which, to be honest, remained consistent.
It either means I am just a boring person, or naturally faithful and confident in my own personal preferences of tastes and I am nodding my head vigorously at the latter.

Tucked along the busy, traffic-congested one-way street of Burmah Road which is home to many famous eateries such as Apong Guan, Him Heang, and many more, Kocha is unmistakably striking with its bright green neon lights signboard with red letterings spelling the restaurant's name placed high above and easily visible to commuters on the road.
The restaurant is located at the corner of the junction right after Hotel 1926 on your left, and there is ample parking space in the premises.

Sounds of flowing water and a large wooden table on the outer compound of the restaurant gives you an early idea of the restaurant, and step in to admire the dimly lit environment graced with the neon lights from the bright aquariums with colorful fishes, wooden furnitures, and interesting ornaments on display.
Be enthralled by the sights that behold your sight, and take a seat to enjoy the overall ambiance which   focuses on the balance of the elements inspired by the notion of Asian Feng Shui.



The authenticity of their Taiwanese offerings begin with their owner; who is a Taiwanese himself, and prides in their fresh ingredients and recipes; with most of them being imported from Taiwan directly. In fact, their menu boasts of a large variety of beverages and food which are found in the country of origin, and over the years they have expanded to include more home made offerings such as pineapple cakes and their very own developed recipes.

Taiwanese love their bubbly teas; complete with milk and pearls and the list they have here, while not extensive will still make you indecisive on which to have as everything sounds so interesting.


You will never go wrong with the traditional Taiwanese Bubble Milk Tea
Choose from their variety of flavored milk tea, and their list of additional toppings with a minimum extra charge.


If you are not into milk tea or anything frothy, then the Taiwanese favorite Plum Green Tea (MYR5.90) is simply irresistibly addictive.
I simply could not get enough of this ever since I tried it, and also when I was in Taiwan, and I have been hooked ever since; ordering nothing else but this drink every single time I dine here.


The refreshing tastes of the icy cold juice with that light sweet sourish note flavored with the preserved plums leaves a soothing sensation with the slight grassy hint from the green tea at the end.
This is truly an invigorating drink, and one that can make you longing for seconds after gushing them down your throat. Trust me, you will not stop at one sip.

Spicy Seafood Noodles (MYR16.90) is one of our personal favorites; simply for its mildly spiced hot soup laced with red chilies and spices. Served with fried fish fillets, prawn, meat ball, crab ball, cuttlefish, scallop along with their homemade noodles and garnished with romaine lettuce and coriander leaves, this is definitely a flavorful and light appetite teaser for any seafood or noodle lover.

I have always loved to start with this Salmon Roll (MYR11.90) which is a delectable choice to stimulate one's appetite with its fishy savory taste; beginning from the lightly roasted to crisp seaweed  outer layer tenderly smothered by the chewy fish paste before being rolled in layers alternately to hug its assorted filling of salmon fillet and paste, sliced cucumber.
Dip in the thousand island dressing or opt for chili sauce to enjoy each mouthful of temptation from this appetizing dish which is just simply addictive (at least it was for me!)




For a filling option complete with that palatable Asian style serving of staple rice, go for this
Steamed Cod Fish Set (MYR26.90) which comes with a drink (the Bubble Milk Tea), the Taiwanese style rice with minced pork, soup, vegetables, fruits, dessert (slice of cake) and the main course itself (of course).


Taiwanese favorite rice with minced pork and gravy done right here with their own style.


There are also other ways of serving the Cod Fish; Deep Fried and Five Flavored, but nothing beats the succulent and juicy bites from the silky smooth cod fish which just sends the taste buds to the nines. I am not sure about you, I may be biased in my very own fondness of this exquisite fish which is just nothing short of ordinary.

The light-sized cod fish fillet was steamed to perfection to retain its moist and tenderness, served with soy sauce and silky white tofu, completed with the garnishing of coriander leaves, finely chopped spring onions and red chilies.

The desserts may vary; though most often are found in the form of an adorably-sized sponge cake and of late, this matcha sponge cake topped with matcha cream and red bean is their trending as the dessert served with their sets.


To spice up the meal a little more, go for an ala carte and indulge in the Sweet and Sour Squids (MYR13.90).
Deep fried to golden brown and extreme crisp; the squids are still oozing with its natural juicy tastes on the inside and coupled with the spicy sweet alternating with sourish vinegar taste sauce, this is exotic and flavorful as an ala carte side to complement the meal or even good on its own to nibble on while engaging in a lively banter with friends.


These are just my personal regular favorites and I have more to share, which keeps me returning to this restaurant after so many years.

They have also opened another outlet at Penang Times Square, besides this main/original outlet on Burmah Road.

I cannot speak for anyone else, but for that authentic tastes of Taiwanese food, Kocha definitely did the trick to keep me in their spell!~

*Kocha, or Kochabi translates to means traditional tastes in local dialect/Hokkien*

*This is not a sponsored post and is based on my personal tastes and opinions, and may differ from one individual to another*

Monday, June 16, 2014

Relishing Comforts of Home at Siang Pin

Everyone has that favorite or familiar family eatery which they frequent religiously when dining out with the clan. It could even be more than one place where there is just something to please everyone's taste buds; from the young to the old; everyone could definitely find that dish they agree with.

Chu Char (in Hokkien) or Tai Chow (in Cantonese) are the regular terms used to describe modest Chinese eateries whipping up those regular habitual dishes from the home kitchen, and is popular among families on weekends or those days when mothers are not in that usual cooking mood.
Typically run by families as well, these simple concept restaurants aspire to serve and satisfy those home-cooked food cravings with the basic dishes while occasionally highlighting their specialty dishes handcrafted by their own resident chefs.
They may be miniscule compared to the star-studded restaurants and hotels out there, but their allure lies in the simplicity and that close-to-home comfort feeling they bring to connect to the families looking for a moderate and fuss free meal with an ordinary price tag.

Siang Pin Restaurant is one of such place, having been in their location for years; serving the local neighborhoods along the coastal drive of Tanjung Bungah area in Penang.
I have previously blogged about this place twice (here and here), and that is proof enough of our sentiments towards this old-time favorite on the island.


This humble eatery offers a rather extensive menu; covering almost every basic category and styles of cooking one's mind could conjure of and occasionally introducing a dish or two concocted from their resident chefs.

One of their most loved and recommended is this star; Curry Fish Head (Market price)
One can opt to enjoy either the fish head or just purely the fish fillets; which are both equally satisfying as the main attraction lies in the aromatic and exotic flavors of the curry broth.
Spiced with rich Kerala-style curry ingredients, teamed with cubed tomatoes, thickly sliced onions and okra with the final touch of cumin leaves garnishing the top makes this a clear winner as it makes it way to almost every single table in the restaurant.


It is impossible not to fall for the relishing tastes of this bowl of curry; even for a non-spicy food person like me, and the very sight of its bright orangey-red colors accompanied by the seductive aroma of the curry spices are sure signs to entrap one's attention and stirring that appetite almost instantaneously.
The fish used here is the garoupa, which is one of their recommended fish and could be slightly higher in price; based on their market price although one can expect a range of MYR25-50 for their fish head curry over here.
Garoupa are naturally smooth in texture, and was a perfect complement to balance the piquant tastes emitted from the combinations in the curry with its silky and tender flesh.


The first taste of the broth will get you hooked, and before you know it, you will probably be scooping spoonfuls of the gravy onto your white rice to enjoy its taste which will never seem enough.
Yes, it is addictive and it leaves little to wonder why this dish is so favored among the regulars to the restaurant who are mostly drawn to this dish as their main reason of visit.


Kung Pow Mantis Prawns is my personal favorite, as evidently seen in most of my posts.
The dried red chilies and slices of onions paired with the thick viscid Lea Perrins sauce gave the mild flavored (or even flavorless) wobbly texture of the mantis prawns that boost of enriching tastes.


This is one of my personal favorites to order when I dine at Chinese or seafood restaurants, and to date, this is still one of the places which made it to my favorite with their light crispy texture (not overly crispy) on the outer and maintaining that fresh fleshy taste of the prawns on the inside.


Stir-fry Kangkung with belacan (Stir-fry water spinach/water convulses leaves with dried shrimp paste) is another local favorite as the simplicity of the dish brings the tastes so close to home.


Slightly spicy, the crunchy and definitely juicy vegetable is a great ally to the pungent flavors of the belacan, and throw in a couple of luscious prawns and you have yourself a mesmerizing dish right before you.
Fondly known as Kangkung Belacan, this is clearly a Malaysian favorite and one of the most memorable dishes which is almost always on every restaurant's menu.


Moving away from the hot and spicy dishes, there are also other delicious offerings which go lighter on both the taste buds and of course, the tummies.

Braised Fish Fillets and Tofu with Mixed Vegetables served in a clay pot is a dish which immediately puts one in that comfort zone with its simple presentation and unpretentious appearance.
Well-seasoned fish fillets coated with a thin layer of flour braised with lush amounts of vegetables in the form of leeks, carrots, napa cabbage, onions, spring onions, garlic and button mushrooms are harmonized with the soft neutral tastes of the silky bean curd, finished with the light starchy texture of the broth. It was the idea of a comfort food, and the clay pot brought that well-intended meaning of the warmth of the dish; in both temperature and tastes savored from every serving.


Kids would enjoy the appetizing tastes of this Sweet and Sour Fish Fillets 
Fish fillets are seasonal items, depending on the market, and I am a fan of the flavorsome tastes resulting from the intermarrying of the simple ketchup with the brood of vegetables; namely cubed tomatoes, capsicum, onions, cucumber and pineapple.
It just reminds me of my childhood with the delightful tastes; which I am pretty sure every child would enjoy. It would be like turning down sweets or any child's favorite food for one to resist this yummy dish packed with enticing flavors.



Champagne Pork Ribs is one of their highlighted dish for Father's Day yesterday, and it was highly recommended by the owner, being an occasional/seasonal dish.
While the name sounded like it was upgraded with the glamorous festive bubbly, the tastes was merely and creatively emulated with the fizzy tastes of a sparkly to give it that same sensation from the celebrated wine.


This place is located along the row of shophouses facing the Tanjung Bungah market and the bus station, and right before the post office.
Keep to your left after the Paradise Hotel stretch (on your right) as you head towards Tanjung Bungah , and turn to your left after the second traffic light after this hotel area. It is along the row with Maxim's Bakery and a pharmacy.

It can get crowded especially on weekends, so do be there earlier to enjoy your meal without being harassed by the large crowds or the incessant noise surrounding you as the place fills up with people.

Prices are on the average range; though some may be according to the market price trends so do check with them when you place your order.
Generally a pleasant place to dine in, and is definitely one of those homey close to comfort abodes for many craving that sensuous tastes of home cooking.

Siang Pin truly delivers the comforts of home in their very own way~

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Everyday is a Friday at TGI Fridays

I Love Fridays, and who doesn't anyway?
Fridays are emblematic of weekends, or the break at the end of the week, which many look forward to after a full week of five working/schooling days.
In short, Fridays are synonymous with the word 'holidays', and for that very reason is sufficient to justify its popularity through the years and among the majority (at the very least).

The person who came up with a restaurant named after the fabulous factor of Fridays must have idolized, or even obsessed with the best day of the week that it was deemed proper to only have a restaurant in its honor and for the purpose of celebration (woohoo!). However, that is not quite the story behind the beginnings of this restaurant.

P1360634_Fotor Alan Stillman, is the founder of this chain restaurant named TGI Fridays; when he started the very first outlet in New York in the year 1965.
Fascinating though, the notion of the restaurant started as a way for him to meet and to get to know the population of the women with whom he shared his neighborhood; comprising mostly of high profile occupations such as air stewardesses, runway models, secretaries, among many other single women in different career streams. During that time, Alan Stillman wanted a place for people to hang out as there were none, and while his original concept was still more inclined towards the male dominant interests in the cocktails and guys-drinking environment, he then proceeded to establish a brand new environment (though he had no experience whatsoever in business) for young people of certain ages (between the early twenties to the mid thirties which he claimed were the neglected target group for the bars and pubs at that time) with a starting capital of $10,000 as he purchased a local pub in the area; The Good Tavern.

The name TGI Fridays was conceived by Stillman himself, following his years in the university; after the popularized expression of 'Thank God It's Friday!'. The first restaurant was opened; conceptualized on serving good old American and bar food, along with a variety of cocktails and beverages suited for chilling out.
What started out as a simple idea of a hangout place for the specific age range, probably would have stunned the founder, Alan Stillman himself as the restaurant boomed into a fast-growing American bar-restaurant chain which came out as one of the top and most popular in America and also around the world today.


TGI Fridays is definitely popular and easily recognized by its iconic red and white stripes, wooden floors and tables, and the jovial 90s-style interior design centering on the famous icons from America clearly depicted in the overall concept of the restaurant.


The chain restaurant stands out unmistakably with these striking elements forming its identity; and is everyone's favorite restaurant to enjoy a good meal and celebration.
(* TGI Fridays is also known for their extraordinary and exceptionally lively way of celebrating birthdays where the birthday celebrant would be made to stand on the table while the servers gather; and sometimes along with the restaurant crowd to sing the Birthday song while presenting the cake to the celebrant.*)

The restaurant took the local Malaysians by storm when it first landed here, and today the growing numbers of its branch outlets around the country attests to its popularity here as well.
It has been a while since I have been to TGI Fridays, though I have had in on my mind for some time and finally, I visited for some good Fridays' dosage of happiness.

While most of the restaurant's decor are centered on the iconic red and white stripes and the wooden furnishings along with the bar rails, what differs is perhaps the touch of the 90s' interior where each of their outlet personalized with their very own favorite icons to establish their very own character and identity.



Strawberry Surprise (MYR8.90) is a refreshing and juicy combination of strawberries, pineapple and apple juices mixed together giving that light pleasantly sweet fruity scent over the slush of ice.
A delightful drink for those who favor fruity flavors over carbonated drinks and with a very light note of sweetness in the taste.


Buffalo Wings (MYR17.90)
(New York-style chicken wings marinated in our own spicy sauce, then deep-fried. Served with crisp celery sticks and tangy Bleu cheese dressing).
This is one of their recommended starter; and also a rather popular one.

I was craving for salmon again lately, and it was a good thing that one of the new items on their menu is this Salmon with Tomato Basil Salsa (MYR44.90), which is a sense-invigorating toss of tropical tastes enhanced with a light squeeze of that lemon juice over the tender flesh of the pan grilled salmon.


The crisp outer of the salmon was a stark contrast with the juicy flesh of the fish on the inner part was a perfect match to satiate that salmon-invoking craving, and the lively mix of freshly chopped broccoli, cherry tomatoes, onions drenched with the exciting sourish basil salsa sauce is a sublime companion to the omega-rich fish. The fresh French beans and broccoli as the sides added to the pleasure of the health-conscious.


If you are in the mood for dessert, well, TGI Fridays do offer a modest selection of indulgent treats which are pretty impressive for a chain restaurant.
Take for instance the Molten Chocolate Cake (MYR18.90); which is a heavenly thrill for the chocolate lovers.


Albeit a little pricey, the portion was much to speak for to justify the price tag and one can have the choice to have it served with freshly whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream; of which we chose the latter.


The name Molten chocolate is derived from the nature of the cake which was designed in a mound style holding its contents of rich, dark chocolate sauce oozing in a lava-like style when one presses the fork to the center. Chocolate lovers would know to enjoy this decadent creation; and would be taken on a thrilling sensation with each taste of the creamy luxe of the thick chocolate secretion melting  with a slight bitter end in their mouth; a true testament of the natural characteristics of dark chocolate.
(I have learnt to make this Molten Chocolate Cake before, and though I am not a chocolate fan, I have tried one of the best of this from a luxury resort chef).
This version is yet the best we have tried, but definitely a very impressive and close effort from a chain restaurant to rival that of a renowned designer chef.



We have enjoyed a hearty meal at TGI Fridays along with the attentive service from their friendly servers.
The menu is still good, offering many others we have yet to try and also the brand new items which were added since the last time I was here, so it is definitely not going to be my last visit here and it is good news that Penang is now home to two TGI Fridays outlets; Queensbay Mall and Gurney Paragon.

Looking at the growing popularity and increasing number of outlets, I am sure Alan Stillman would be proud today~

At TGI Fridays, every day is indeed a Friday! :-D

TGI Fridays Gurney Paragon 


*This is not a sponsored post, and is based on my personal visit and experiences. Opinions may differ according to individuals. *