Showcasing cherished kampung classics that crisscross peninsular Malaysia, Rasadesa's cooking is fit for kings and kenduris, from Negeri Sembilan's itik salai masak lemak cili api (RM28; meaty smoked duck in spicy-milky gravy, aromatically simmered with turmeric and daun asam gelugur) to Kelantan's kerutup udang galah (RM30; a giant fleshy freshwater prawn, saturated in a richly sweet-savoury concentrated curry).
The food conveys a robust sense of time-honoured tradition, living up to what the restaurant's name evokes. Other offerings span Malacca's asam pedas ikan pari, Pahang's patin masak tempoyak with timun tua, and Terengganu's nasi dagang with gulai ikan tongkol.
Don't skip the kitchen-made sambals (RM3 each) - the unmistakably pungent sambal belacan, the creamy-like-mayo sambal tempoyak with a potently fermented durian kick, and the sambal budu cili padi with a fieriness that lingers on the palate.
Service is warm and efficient at this bright, cheerful restaurant.
Rasadesa No 47, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, Damansara Heights, 50490 Kuala Lumpur Open Mon-Wed, 11am-5pm; Thur-Sat, 11am-3pm, 630-10pm. Tel: 012-260-6433 This post first appeared on eatdrinkkl.com
Considered Brunei's national dish (but also available across Sabah and Sarawak), ambuyat might be an acquired taste, a starchy substance extracted from the pith of the sago palm's trunk. Roll the ambuyat around a pair of prongs, then dunk it into a sauce that balances out its blandness - in Bandar Seri Begawan, we had it with a tempoyak-tinged dip, punchy and pungent, surrounded by a slew of classically prepared meat, fish and vegetables.
Don Martin tries to transform dim sum from teahouse treat to pub-grub pleasure; the restaurant remains open till past midnight, so you can continue munching on shrimp siu mai (RM6.50) and century egg dumplings (RM5.50) long after sunset, washing these plump, steaming-hot snacks down with cider and beer.
Ideal for late-night owls who can't wake up early enough for dim sum brunches, the selection covers all the familiar favourites, from har gao to char siu bao, lo mai gai to chee cheong fun, reputedly by the Yun Lai Dim Sum Group that operates more than a dozen eateries mainly in Johor.
Don Martin Dim Sum Bar 4, Jalan SS 2/63, SS2, Petaling Jaya, 47300 Petaling Jaya. Open Tues-Sun, 11am-2am. Tel: 012-722-5575 This post first appeared on eatdrinkkl.com
Munich flocks to the sprawling headquarters of Europe's biggest delicatessen business for cold cuts, chocolates, cakes, cheeses and more - even if you're not buying, it's worth browsing at the three-century-old Alois Dallmayr before taking in the sights at the Marienplatz square, preferably from the sky.
Penang-raised restaurateur Emily Chen opened her first steakhouse in the English city of Derby in 2008; a dozen years later, the KL chapter of Emily's Steakhouse promises solid steaks in the city centre, a companion venue to another recently launched outpost in George Town.
Char-grilled beef is the speciality; the Australian Angus rib eye clocks in at RM88 for a 340-gram serving. We ordered ours blue, seared for 30 seconds for extra-rare primal pleasure, smooth and succulent. Steaks come with hearty servings of salad, peas and addictive house-made fries, but it's also worth adding on Emily's flagship onion rings, presented in chunky pyramids.
All in all, a worthwhile spot for steak, featuring fair prices for well-executed food, plus warm, obliging service in a cosy setting that blends a bit of Britain with a modicum of Malaysia for a winning combination.
Ground Floor, Faber Imperial Court, Off Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. Adjacent to Sheraton Imperial Hotel.
Shopping for sweets? We've come to the right city - Bologna is a treasure trove of sugar-loving spots, including historically significant venues like Majani, which has been selling chocolates in the heart of Bologna for more than two centuries (since 1796, in fact!) ...
... and Paolo Atti, a bakery first founded in 1880 ...
... and contemporary businesses such as Cremeria Funivia, where the fun flavours carry names like Contessa and Leonardo, promising intriguing combinations like mascarpone with melted chocolate or pine nut cream with baked pine nuts.
The Sultanate specialises in a distinctive diversity of Russian and Mongolian cuisine, plus a splash of Middle Eastern fare. Traditional broths might be the ideal introduction - Solyanka is the soul-warming, spicy-sour Russian soup, robust with smoked beef sausage slices, pickled cucumbers, olives and tomatoes (RM25), while the Guriltai Shol offers a taste of Ulaan Baatar, made textured with handmade noodles and lamb (RM32). The rest of the menu is peppered with everything from blinis (Soviet-style pancakes) to khorkhog (Mongolia's classic barbecue).
The Sultanate is an independently run restaurant tucked inside Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel.
The Sultanate Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 12pm-12am. Tel: 013-425-6892 This post first appeared on eatdrinkkl.com
Tucked along Bologna's main morning market, Bar Ferri represents Italian street food in its gluttonous glory; it's no surprise that 'Bologna The Fat' is one of this city's nicknames; this is, after all, the capital of Italy's northern Emilia-Romagna region, which prides itself on promising some of the country's best cuisine.
Try the fried bread with Parma ham and salami, washed down with the region's own semi-sparkling Lambrusco.
With Japanese wagyu and Australian Hereford beef beckoning from the menu, Plato seeks to be a sanctuary for steak. The Japanese wagyu rib eye (listed here as A4 or A5) is indisputably decadent from the first bite, juicy and fatty, with the minimum 200-gram portion proving sufficient for two to share (RM260).
Plato Grill & Steak
33, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, 50450 Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm. Tel: 03-2181-3231
Real Penang lives up to its name in every respect: Run by Bukit Mertajam-born Steven Chong and his wife, Jocelyn, this restaurant promises recipes that generations of families know well and hold close to their hearts, particularly Penang Peranakans.
Real Penang is the realisation of a dream that Steven harboured throughout four decades of working in the corporate field - a man who loves cooking for his family and friends, he has long wanted to open his own restaurant. Now that they're retired and their children are completely grown, Steven and Jocelyn are pouring their passion into this labour of love.
Family breeds familiarity: Steven is a skilled cook in his own right - since he was 10, he remembers working in his parents' kitchen, learning everything from peeling onions to making curry pastes for their household meals. His childhood memories also include countless trips to the wet market, cementing his knowledge of how to pick prime produce.
While Real Penang offers a handful of hawker specialities linked to the northern island, such as char kuey teow and prawn mee, its top temptations are hearty classics that two or more persons can share. Everything we sampled was classified as a Small serving but could easily feed a few persons; Medium and Large portions are also available.
Start with a platter of cherished staples - jiu hu char and lo bak (RM20). The stir-fried jicama has a lovely depth of flavour, courtesy of dried scallops, while the five-spice pork rolls seem sufficiently fragrant and flavoursome to satisfy a Nyonya matriarch. Real Penang strives to make as much as possible from scratch in its own kitchen, including the crisp, not-too-thick pai tee shells and the accompanying sambal belacan.
Real Penang takes plenty of pride in its fish head curry (RM42), velvety and aromatic, with all the natural allure of lengkuas, lemongrass and garlic, beautifully spiced but not too fiery. The star is a sizably fleshy grouper head, moist and flaky (Steven personally purchases the fish at 3am from the Selayang market, securing the top-tier catch of the day), surrounded by okra, eggplant, tofu and more, a complete communal meal with steamed rice. Savour it with mui heong - fermented salted fish - for briny resonance that complements the curry.
Real Penang's tau eu bak - the beloved braised pork in soy sauce (RM22) - is as traditional as it gets, cooked to a preparation that was first perfected by Steven's great-grandmother a full century ago. Steven carefully chooses the cuts, marbled with extra fat, boiled whole for three to four hours, sliced into portions later to preserve the flavour. The result is a lusciously tender, clean-tasting braise, in thick chunks that you can sink your teeth into, certain to be polished clean off the platter, complete with a boiled egg and mushrooms.
Petai prawns (RM24) might be a familiar sight, but Real Penang springs a special surprise by mixing in crunchy pork lard for a crispy textural enhancement that also bolsters the overall dynamics of flavour, again the result of Steven's experimentation with recipes.
Alongside the a la carte menu, all-day set meals are ideal for busy-bee workers, with the likes of chicken rice, char siew rice, curry chicken rice, and rice with pork in special sauce, at only RM8.90 per plate, underscoring Real Penang's honest prices.
House-made cendol with Malacca-sourced palm sugar and freshly squeezed coconut milk is the perfect cooling conclusion to this meal, rich in santan but not sugar (RM4.80). And there's still much more to try for future visits, from kari kapitan to chicken pongteh, braised pork knuckle with sweet-sour-spicy sauce to mui choy kau yoke, dry-fried bak kut teh to spinach with three types of egg yolk.
All in all, Real Penang is a genuine hidden gem, not as noticeable as many of Publika's other restaurants but well worth the spotlight, with offerings of warmth, personality and heart. Many thanks to the team here for having us.
Real Penang A2-1-6, Solaris Dutamas (Outside Publika), 50480 Kuala Lumpur. Daily 1130am-3pm, 6pm-10pm. Tel: 03-64115283 This post first appeared on eatdrinkkl.com