Friday, 27 December 2013

Morning All Day @ That Latte Place, Persiaran Ritchie, Ampang

What do you do when you happen to have a few hours break in between appointments in KL and you just do not feel like doing anything where the crowd is?  The solution - head to a cafe.  Not just any cafe, but one where you will feel like you're on a relaxing vacation.

Just a 10-minute drive from KLCC, welcome to That Latte Place @ Persiaran Ritchie, Ampang.

Once a home to Artisan Roast Coffee, this semi-alfresco cafe serves decent all-day breakfast menu and some memorable coffee.  With the help of the trusty GPS, it's actually not very difficult to find this cafe.  It may not look like it's the right place from the outside, but do trust your instincts, because this small down-to-earth cafe is hidden within the compound of Yayasan Seni Berdaftar.

As we arrived pretty late in the morning, the cafe was quite empty (but the crowd soon gathers when it strikes 12).  First thing first, head straight to the counter to make your order.

While the menu is pretty limited but if what you need is a good, wholesome breakfast, it has all the choices you need.  Egg enthusiasts would love That Latte Place - their poached eggs seem to be pretty commentable among foodies.

As for us, we decided for the most luxurious possible breakfast on their menu - Hearty Breakfast (RM 17.90).  Well, I do go weak whenever it comes to hash brown, so it was a pretty simple choice.  Comes with two chicken sausages, a hash brown, scrambled eggs with mushroom on a thick homemade toast served with tomatoes, baked potatoes and baked beans, this is actually quite a big portion with lots of good stuff.

The most memorable item as well as the one with the most flavour is, surprisingly, the baked potatoes.  It is well-seasoned and cooked with perfection - soft on the inside with a nice crispy texture on the outside.  The toast is also nice and fluffy but sadly, the scrambled egg was lacking a bit of taste (salt, I think).  Otherwise, I would give a big thumbs-up for this breakfast dish.

The only setback is that this cafe doesn't serve pork.  American breakfast without good old bacon is just like coffee without sugar, like scones without butter & jam (You get what I mean?)

We also ordered their daily special promo - three assorted danishes with a choice of latte or cappuccino - for only RM 15.  That's really quite a good deal!

The danishes turn out to be raisin danish, chocolate danish and pineapple custard danish.  Looks good, actually but I find them a little too dry and flaky on the outside (you should see the mess we made while trying to get a bite of these danishes).  Taste-wise is okay, though - would have preferred if they had taken one extra step to warm the danishes.

I came to know about That Latte Place because of my brother, who gave a very positive feedback of the Affogato (RM 6) - a shot of hot espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, topped with chocolate flakes.  I must say, this is one of the best affogato I have ever found in KL.  It's a thick, creamy caffeinated concoction that you'll never forget.

Despite the semi-alfresco setting, you don't have to worry much about the heat because surprisingly, it's very cooling, with light natural breeze and lots of shades from the thick, luscious landscapes around the compound.

To be honest, food was nothing fantastically out of the ordinary.  But packaged with the environment that That Latte Place offers, it is something that will definitely top my favourite list.  Spending your time here is as though there's a special force that slows down time - a moment where you paused to be mindful of the details of nature and leave behind all the worries from your daily hectic life.

However, apparently (according to most bloggers), the waiting time is actually quite long.  Maybe it was the relaxing and serene ambiance or we just visited during the less crowded time, because it didn't actually feel very long to us.  So, on the caution side, maybe just consider the possibility of a long wait when deciding to drop by here for a meal.

That Latte Place
Yayasan Seni Berdaftar
333, Persiaran Ritchie
Off Jalan Ritchie
55000 Kuala Lumpur

GPS:  3.159108, 101.74026

Opening Hours: 8 am - 5 pm
Closed on Monday

Butter + Beans at Seventeen @ Happy Mansion, Seksyen 17

When KS was struggling to decide a place in PJ to meet up with his friend for a drink, I happily suggested Butter + Beans at Seventeen @ Happy Mansion as it seems to be receiving quite a lot of good reviews.

Situated among the shops below the old but well-kept apartments in Happy Mansion, it is hard to believe that an area like this keeps one of the best most talked-about cafes.

Looking at the chalk-drawn menu on the wall (which also displays a huge portrait of a friendly bear), choices at Butter & Beans are pretty limited, with most standard espresso-based beverages plus a selection of bread and pastries of the day to choose from to go with your drink.

KS ordered the Americano (RM 6), which has quite a fruity aftertaste with a medium body.  I think the ratio of water and espresso is just right, without over-diluting the fragrance of the espresso.

I was quite happy with my cup of cappuccino (RM 9), although it was just slightly below my expectations.  It has a smooth and creamy texture but flavour is slightly mild.  (I'm sorry, but I realized I've recently outgrown my taste for milky, caffeinated beverages)  

After chatting a while, we began to feel hungry (it's almost dinner time) and especially sitting right in front of the pastries display the whole time, I really couldn't resist staring and drooling for just one slice of the beautiful pastries.  I must say, their pastries are selling like hot cakes and are fast vanishing from the display.

We had the Blueberry danish (RM 5), a buttery, fragrant danish with creamy custard and sweet blueberries.  I love the custard as it give a nice moisture and sweetness to the danish.  Blueberries were quite unnoticeable behind the custard and truthfully, with or without them, it wouldn't have made much of a difference.  Although it's nice but slightly on the pricier side.

But what I love the most is defiinitely the ambiance of this cafe.  Butter + Beans feels like your neighbourhood cafe, with very friendly service and approachable attitude.

However, Butter + Beans is a very small cafe and could barely accommodate any more than 10 person inside the air-conditioned cafe.  So, if you're thinking of doing a large gathering of friends/family, you may want to seriously rethink your choice of venue as larger tables are very rare, mostly being outside the cafe.

Despite the extremely small space, never did we feel over-crowded or uncomfortable.  In fact, it was just the opposite.  We continued chatting for over 2 hours while we slowly enjoyed our coffee and snacks until it's time for dinner.

Butter + Beans has definitely made to my favourite cafes to visit.

Butter + Beans at Seventeen
BG-1, Happy Mansion
Jalan 17/1
Petaling Jaya

GPS:  3.123129,101.63461

Opens:  Daily - 8.30 am to 8.30 pm

Old-school Vegetarian @ Organic Leaf Restaurant, Section 17 PJ

When I first looked at the menu of Organic Leaf Restaurant @ Section 17, Petaling Jaya, I was confused and almost stunned to see the words "fish"," chicken", "beef" and "mutton" listed because I clearly remembered entering a vegetarian restaurant.  After (shyly) confirming with KS that those are indeed mock meat, I laughed hilariously.  Well, guess it has been a very long time since I stepped into a Chinese vegetarian restaurant.  

(To me, vegetarian means accepting that whatever you eat is not meat and so, I find it very weird as to why we still need to fool ourselves that those are "meat".  Well...)

First up was the Crispy Fish Cutlet with Dried Chillies (RM 14.80).  Having eaten some delicious mock fish meat at Simple Life, I was very keen to order "fish" again.  This dish definitely lived up to my expectations.

The "skin", made from seaweed, was chewy while the "meat" has a slight firm texture, giving the impression of a real fish fillet.  The gravy was kung-po style, with a mild heat.  It's not too oily and it's pretty appetizing.  Portion was quite reasonable.

Another dish we ordered is the Braised Eggplant with Soy Beans (RM 13.80).  It was slightly disappointing as it was not as fragrant as expected.  There were a little too much of lemongrass and curry leaves, which somehow masked the flavour of the soy beans. On top of that, the eggplant were irregularly cut in length and so, some pieces were under-cooked.  Portion-wise, it was relatively small.

For drinks, I ordered Homemade Ginger Tea (RM 3.80).  It has a very strong ginger taste, which is pretty good to dispel wind from the body, but a little more sugar would have done a great job to tone down the spiciness and make it more pleasant.

In my opinion, Organic Leaf Restaurant is okay for some decent home-cook, Chinese-style vegetarian food, with a slightly modern and homey ambiance.

Parking should not be an issue, but unfortunately, it's located at quite an isolated corner of PJ and hence, can be a little quiet at night.  Not sure if the nearby police station would help give some assurance, though, but with the recent alarming crime rates, it would be good to stay alert if you're visiting here at night.

Organic Leaf Restaurant
No 3, Jalan 17/45
Section 17
46400 Petaling Jaya

GPS:  3.118817,101.629645

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A Japanese High Tea Affair @ Kissaten, Jaya One

After months of full-force preparation for my examination, I can finally be back to writing about the things I love - food & eating!

To celebrate that, KS brought me to a Japanese-style high tea at Kissaten @ Jaya One.  I always know Kissaten for its Teriyaki Pork Burger and Char Siew Pizza, but never did I know they do serve high tea too.  So, being a fan of all things called high tea, I had to try it, which turned out to be a worthy experience.

For only RM 58++, this entitles two person to a variety of Japanese-infused sweet and savoury treats, accompanied by a choice of two beverages (coffee, tea or milk-based drink).  For this price, it seems pretty reasonable.

The bottom tray (clockwise):  Tamago Sushi Sandwich, Salmon Sushi Sandwich, Smoked Duck with Bacon, Pork Belly Bruschetta, Tsukune Meat Balls with Teriyaki Sauce & Tuna Tart.

The upper tray:  Poppy Passion Jelly, Rosella Jelly, Mocha Butter Cupcake, Japanese Cheese Cake, Coffee Panna Cotta, Green Tea Parfait & Eggmushi.

Time to taste!

I started off with the mini Tuna Tart.  The buttery tart shell is filled with a lot of tuna mayonnaise, which is very light in taste.  What I liked about the tuna mayonnaise is that although it has been mashed and combined, you can still feel some chunkiness in the tuna mix and hence, the natural sweetness & juiciness of the tuna meat.  It just makes you feel like you're eating some real, fresh food.

While I was eating the Salmon Sushi Sandwich, which I find has nothing much to shout about, I was distracted by KS who keeps telling me how nice the Tsukune Meat Balls are.  Tried it myself and I totally agree - it was really good.  Looked ordinary and a little unappealingly dry, these handmade meat balls are very juicy with a lovely, crispy crust on the outside.  Drizzled with their sweet BBQ-like teriyaki sauce, they make a lovely yummy snack.

The Tamago Sushi Sandwich, like the salmon sandwich, was also mediocre.  I think it could be partly because we started off with the more flavourful treats first, which sort of spoiled our expectations for the remaining ones.

For the Smoked Duck with Melon, unfortunately, we have a pretty weird feeling to it - not because it tasted bad.  Something seems to be missing, but we just can't pinpoint what it is.  Somehow, the smoked duck just didn't really blend well with the sweet honeydew and the overall combination was a bit too wet.  They are good on its own though, but definitely not as a pair.  

Then comes the Pork Belly Bruschetta - thinly sliced pork belly dressed with a fragrant sesame-based sauce topped on a toasted sliced baguette.  Oh, I love the complexity of the flavours in the sauce - a bit of saltiness and acidity, with a final kick of the nuttiness.

I think the most interesting piece of the whole afternoon tea set that will catch almost anyone's attention would be these cute and adorable savoury egg custard served in eggshells.  Eggmushi, they call it - well, technically, you can't call them chawanmushi when they are not steamed in a tea bowl.  They may be tiny and have very simple ingredients (only egg and mushrooms) but they are bursting with flavours.  Although the texture was far from silky, every spoon of the juicy egg custard was so good.  Wish there were more of it.

After finishing a series of savoury treats, we started off the sweet treats with the refreshing Poppy Passion Jellies and Rosella Jellies.  Served on mini cupcake cases, these tiny jellies generally are not very sweet while the fragrance of the ingredients they have put into (the passion fruit and rose petals) gave a nice palate cleansing effect.  For me, between the two, that hint of tanginess in the passion fruit jelly was my favourite.

Green Tea Butter Cupcake - I love this piece of dessert the most.  From the top, it looks like any ordinary butter cake, but as you eat into the cupcake, you'll discover the hidden green-coloured portion, which has been combined with green tea.  A good butter cupcake, I must say.

If you're a big fan of green tea, then you should not miss the Green Tea Parfait.  This smooth, creamy dessert is heavily flavoured with a lot of green tea powder and hence, there is a slight hint of bitterness.  But I liked it, very much.  It's like a concentrated dose of green tea essence, spoon after spoon.

Another dessert is the Coffee Panna Cotta topped with some crumbles.  As opposed to the intense flavour of the green tea parfait, this is slightly less outstanding due to the mild coffee flavour.  It is still nice, though.

Then, lastly is the Japanese Cheese Cake.  I'm not sure if it was because I was already full to the brim, but the taste of the cheese in my mouth somehow turned me off completely.  However, judging from KS expression after he had his first bite of the cheesecake, I was pretty sure it was good.  Definitely very cheesy.

For drinks, I went with a hot cup of Matcha Au Lait - a light milk flavoured with green tea powder.  I quite love this green tea milk as it is not too creamy or powdery and very gentle on the taste-buds (and my digestion).  Plus, there is a hint of sweetness that is just not too overbearing.  Some may find it a bit diluted, but for me, it was just nice.

KS ordered coffee instead.  I barely had much of the drink as KS was very quick in finishing the coffee.  Based on just one sip, the coffee is not too bad - quite bitter at first sip but soon leaves, in my opinion, a nice nutty aftertaste.

Overall, I will give my thumbs up for this Japanese high tea at Kissaten because they looked fantastically appealing and tasted great.  Well, at least, they did a real good job in brushing away my post-exam blues.

L12A-1-1, Palm Square
Jaya One
Jalan Universiti 
46200 Petaling Jaya

Sunday, 11 August 2013


Unfortunately, foodjourney4me will be taking a break from blogging lengthy write-ups on food due to some not-really-unforseen commitments.

Good news, I'll be back by October to clear all the backlogs.

In the meantime, there's always twitter or instagram for quick mini-reviews :)


Monday, 24 June 2013

Classy Old Vietnam Dining @ Highway 4 Restaurant & Bar, Hanoi

At the northeast of the Hoan Kiem Lake, just minutes away from the popular Thang Long Puppet theater, lies a stylish restaurant that specializes in Vietnamese cuisine from the northern mountains, as well as brewing many unique Vietnamese liqueurs.  That is also how Highway 4 Restaurant & Bar @ Old Quarters, Hanoi got its name, based on one of Vietnam's most important network of routes linking the major urban centers throughout the northern mountainous regions - Highway #4.

Although popular among locals and foreigners for its Vietnamese alcoholic experience, we came to Highway 4 Restaurant for another different highlight.  A contemporary take on a classic Vietnamese street snack - spring rolls.

One of their signature dish, Nem Cha Xa Lo4, which translates to Highway 4's catfish spring roll.  The deep-fried catfish and herbs are topped with mayonnaise before being wrapped in soaked rice paper and served with wasabi soy dipping sauce.  The catfish was deliciously fresh and sweet, with the herbs giving a nice hint of fresh aromatic flavour.  Unfortunately, there was not a lot of vegetables to go with it and hence, we find it slightly oily.  Nevertheless, it was a great appetizer.

The sauce, which looked like a lot like the sweet soy sauce you have alongside dim sum, is indeed packed with a lot of wasabi.  Please be mindful of the first dip or else you will be stunned for a moment.  I actually knew about the existence of the wasabi from my research on the internet, but no one highlighted that it was actually camouflaged inside the dipping sauce.  Well, now we know.

Next are our mains.

The first was the Com Rang Xa Lo4, i.e. Highway 4's Special Fried Rice.  Despite the name, it was an ordinary plate of fried rice that is flavourful but just lacking some saltiness (wouldn't it be great if there was nuoc cham to go with it).  But, even when cold (we packed it back to hotel to finish), it was still fragrant.  Overall, not the best, but decent.

The next, which was KS's choice, was the Mien Xao Heo, i.e. Glass Noodles sauteed with Pork (You can go with beef too, but we just had too much beef already).  Vietnamese are really good with fried glass noodles and so, for this plate of noodles, it was very fragrant and delicious.  Packed with a lot of black pepper, it was spicy.  Unfortunately, it was also very oily.

Highway 4 is a good place for hotpot and drinking.  With a well-designed interior that highlights a modern interpretation of the old Vietnamese design with a touch of classy ambiance, it was a beautiful place to rest your tired feet.  For a moment, it felt as though we entered into another world where working Hanoi adults gather for a happy hour session, filled with laughter and chattering.  Love it!

Definitely not the place for some complete privacy as you dine because you'll be sitting in traditional Vietnamese seating with long communal tables.  But, hey, it is very comfortable and at the same time, indirectly joining into your neighbour's fun party.  Also, despite the hot, humid weather outside, it was very well-ventilated inside and hence, it was cooling.

The staff here generally can speak moderate level of English, so there is really not much of an issue in terms of communication.  Service was very good and polite.

Highly recommended for a place to chill although slightly on the expensive side if compared to the outside street-food choices.  But, for us, it was an experience well-spent.

Highway 4 Restaurant & Bar
5 Hang Tre Street
Old Quarters, Hanoi

Time-out Session @ Coffee Famille, Kota Damansara

Once again, we are back to Coffee Famille @ Kota Damansara, this time to meet up with a close friend of KS.  We had been telling him how good this place is and it got him very interested, so much so that he kept insisting that we gather here for a drink.  Well, finally after all the pestering,  we are at Coffee Famille.

As it was a very hot afternoon, especially right after attending an outdoor wedding lunch at a park, I just have to order a cold drink to cool down - Ice Drip Coffee (RM 18).  Firstly, it looks so adorable that it was served in a cocktail-like glass on top of a pot full of iced water.  As for the coffee, it was medium-bodied, with a very light texture as well as having a nice chocolate aftertaste (milk chocolate, to be specific).  The bitterness is pretty mild even when chilled.  I think I just found a coffee that I will keep coming back for.

KS, who was on a slightly more adventurous mode, ordered the Sumatra Mandeling (RM 16).  It sort of didn't turned as he expected and joked that it tasted like Nescafe, which has a very earthy and raw taste similar to dirt.

In my opinion, it has an aftertaste similar to guava - a very mild fruity sweetness right at the very end.  And , it was not too acidic.  Flavour-wise, it was pretty flat throughout the journey and didn't have the roller-coaster effect according to KS.  Think he is already accustomed to the complex flavours of the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.  Well, not really the kind of taste that we prefer but taste is a very subjective thing.

For desserts, there was no tiramisu for this week unfortunately.  Instead, we chose the warm, classic chocolate cake (RM 12).  The moist, dense cake has quite a rich chocolate flavour but I find the icing on the top was just slightly on the sweeter side, especially right after sipping strong, bitter coffee.  The tiramisu is still the best.  Cheesecake the next time, maybe?

Oh, can't wait to be back again for another caffeine adventure ;-)

Coffee Famille
6-G, Garden Wing
Sunsuria Avenue
Persiaran Mahogani
PJU5 Kota Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya

GPS:  3.154654,101.58997

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Brunch @ Crave Cafe, Ara Damansara

Initially, we wanted to have brunch at Mr & Ms Cafe, but unfortunately, because it was closed for a private function to celebrate their official opening, we headed to their neighbour instead - Crave Cafe @ Ara Damansara, a cosy Australian-style cafe.  This alternative was not too bad.

They do serve a few breakfast sets (RM 10) that comes with a complimentary glass of juice.  But if u want some caffeine to lift your mood for the day, you can always go for an upgrade to some selected espresso beverages for just an additional RM 5.

I had the Egg and Bacon on Toast with guava juice.  It is a pretty standard breakfast set with two sunny-side up eggs and two strips of beef bacon with toasted wholemeal bread and butter.  I find the set slightly dry but generally, it is okay and not oily.  The egg was cooked very nicely with runny yolks.

The guava juice, the kind you usually find in supermarkets, was a bit too diluted, unfortunately.

KS ordered the Breakfast BLT Sandwiches and opted to upgrade the drink to a cup of cappuccino.  His wholemeal sandwich, with beef bacon, lettuce and tomato topped with mayonnaise, was quite delicious and moist.  Definitely more appealing than my choice.  Plus, there was a big dose of fresh salad on the side to satisfy your daily intake of greens.

The cappuccino was not an exceptionally memorable cup of coffee but still considered reasonable in terms of aroma, although I find the flavour a tad too mild.  The foam that defines the cappuccino was kinda missing and the consistency is slightly on the thin side.  Maybe the quality was a bit off for that morning.

If you're expecting some really good coffee, then this may not be the place you would want to consider highly of (except if you're eyeing on the coffee beans from Toby's Estate of Australia, which Crave Cafe serves).

But, if you're looking for somewhere to chill and fill your stomach with decent, reasonable food and drinks, then Crave Cafe would be a very good choice.  It has a very simple but super cosy setting with comfortable sofas and fantastic air-circulation.  Not to forget, fast and good WiFi connection.

Crave Cafe
BG-03, Oasis Square
Ara Damansara
47301 Petaling Jaya