EAT: The Han Room, The Gardens

Hi, it’s another food post! /waves

(Not sure how I feel about my blog being so food-centric… Maybe I’ll do some makeup reviews after this to keep things fresh)

Been having finals, so I haven’t been blogging… I’ve got so many backlog posts now, it’s kinda daunting. :X

I had lunch with my mom just the other day at The Han Room, The Gardens Mall. It’s a fairly new establishment just across from Fresca, serving up traditional and fusion chinese food. When we arrived, it was crazy packed because of their dim sum lunch service – had to wait ages for a table to free up! Make a reservation before you head over to avoid the wait.

The Han Room’s dim sum service is the type that goes around in categorical push carts, which you’re meant to flag down and pick your dim sum from, or tick off of a paper menu. So it’s not the made-to-order type. Even so, the dim sum here was (mostly) piping hot and freshly-made.

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For starters, si cap pai guat (RM9)! Generous chunks of bite-sized spare ribs, more meat than bone, but not a single black bean in sight. They’ve added pumpkin cubes instead, but it pales in comparison to fermenty beany goodness.

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Fish balls (RM8). These are the starchier, spongier kind. Well made, but nothing remarkable.

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Beancurd rolls in a spicy sauce (RM9). These are filled with minced pork, mushrooms and veges. This was average-tasting, rather much like soggy spring rolls, and too sweet imo. Not something I’d order again.

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Inside view!

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Har gou (RM9)! Whole shrimp wrapped in paper-thin, gelatinous flour skins. The quintessential dim sum dish ahh. This one actually arrived at our table cold and with a hole (a freaking hole!!) in one of the skins, so we asked for a replacement. T_T The har gou here was yummy, but nothing spectacular.

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Salad prawns; crispy deep-fried beancurd rolls stuffed with marinated whole shrimp (RM10). Actually, why do people call this salad prawns? It doesn’t have any salad in, on or beside it. :-/ This was really yummy regardless. The rolls were light and not oily, and the shrimp were juicy and flavourful mmm. Particularly tasty with the accompanying mayonnaise!

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Baked seafood in a crabshell with cheese (RM16). This was so disappointing, I could cry. T_T We actually saw a nearby table order this and it looked super noms. We thought it was actual crab! Covered in cheese! WHO COULD RESIST, YOU TELL ME. We asked a waitress if it was crab and she said yes, so we ordered one. It’s actually just a mixture of itty gritty seafood bits with what seems like ham and mushrooms and daikon, in a creamy sauce; not unlike the filling they put in pot pies. More importantly, not crab.

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That’s what it looks like inside. I couldn’t even eat any of it, I was so saddened. T___T

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Pei tan ham tan ji yuk chuk (RM10). Pork congee with century egg, salted egg, scallions and yau char kuey (‘chinese crullers’ in english). This was another miscommunication error: we’d requested for those deep-fried pork intestines (sounds gross haha but omg I love it!!), but ended up receiving minced pork instead. /fail The congee was also on the watery side and not very smooth. I like my congee tasting like it was pulsed in a food processor heh. Passable.

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Roasted pigeon (RM55). Roasted to perfection with a crisp skin and tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat. I’m not a big fan of the stuff, the meat is too liver-y for my liking, but I could eat it. Ma loved it though! Justifies paying so much for such a tiny bird I guess lol.

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Another shot, because the head is both fascinating and extremely mortifying hahaha.

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Meat shot! Excuse my gross plate heh. I think they don’t change your plates here at The Han Room.

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This funky-looking thing is not a meringue lololol. It’s a baked fresh scallop (RM14). The frothy white mass on top of it is whipped egg white (not very tasty, but at least it looked pretty)!

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This is what it looks like under all the fluffy egg drama haha. It’s actually covered in warm, yummy, gooey cheese! *angels singing*

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Inside the cheesiness is one scallop and some shimeji mushrooms. The scallop was kinda sad and didn’t seem very fresh, but I still enjoyed this a lot because CHEESE AND MUSHROOMS! ♡

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Moving on to desserts now: chilled mango and avocado cream with sago (RM8). Okay wait, let this be clear to all: I’m a sucker for presentation. I have a tendency to pick food items that look cute or artsy in the menu photos. And this yin-yang shaped cream dessert is so cute. How does it taste? Slightly sourish, slightly sweet. Overall ,yummy and refreshing.

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It’s a pretty shallow-dished dessert, suitable for one person or two to share.

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Durian pudding (RM9). I was actually eager to have durian pancakes after the dim sum (I love the kickass ones at Lai Po Heen in Mandarin Oriental) but The Han Room only does a durian pudding, so why not? This pudding was surprisingly good – it had the slippery texture of tau fu fah (tofu pudding) but was much richer and creamier. The durian taste wasn’t overbearing and there was no smell, either; perfect for those who love durian but can’t stand the stench of it!

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It looks pretty cute, too! It was served in a glass cone, propped over a tiny fishbowl of dry ice. I love these things!

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This dessert was also pretty small, perfect for one or two people to share.

Verdict: The Han Room is quite a nice place to have a meal with friends and family. The restaurant captain was attentive and courteous, but I’d say the normal wait staff weren’t very good with communicating, judging by how they funked up some of our orders. The place was really packed for the dim sum service though, so I imagine that service would be much better on quieter days or during their dinner service.

Hit this place up if you’re looking to impress a client or someone special! The prices aren’t cheap, but I reckon it’s somewhat worth it.

The Han Room
G-243 & 246, Ground Floor,
The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley City,
59200 Kuala Lumpur

Call: 03-2284 8833

More info on the Oriental Group of restaurants here!

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EAT: Hokkaido Ichiba, The Gardens

Hi! I’m on my third post! *chuffed*

So today I’m going to review Hokkaido Ichiba @ The Gardens Mall. When I’m in the mood to nom some maki and tori karaage at Gardens, it’s a pretty easy decision for me: either Yuzu or Hokkaido Ichiba. Other sushi joints (*cough*SUSHI ZANMAI*cough*) can get obscenely crowded (even at non-peak hours wtf!) so I don’t mind paying a tad more for a peaceful meal where I’m not rushed out of my seat.

We decided to have dinner at Hokkaido Ichiba a few nights ago, so here are the photos!

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First up is the Hama Sashimi Moriawase (RM45), a five-variety platter consisting of thick slabs of salmon, tuna, arrowjack, scallops and octopus. Honestly, this was a letdown! The salmon and scallops were deliciously smooth, but everything else required repeated dunking in soy sauce. The tuna wasn’t thawed properly and had an “icy” taste to it. The octopus was too chewy and rather dry – I still dream about the orgasmic octopus sashimi that I had at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. I suppose nothing in KL could ever compare to that!

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Next was the Hotate Mentaiyaki (RM26); grilled scallops and shimeji mushrooms dressed with a thick mentaiko mayo sauce. This was passable, but the sauce was too smokey and overbearing, even for a mentaiko lover like me. :( The version served at Rakuzen is much lighter and more flavourful, mmm.

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California Maki (RM16, 6 pcs); rolls stuffed with meaty crab sticks, avocado chunks, crisp lettuce and seaweed before the whole thing is coated in yummy flying fish roe. A good choice! Ingredients were really fresh and I felt so healthy eating this lol.

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Tempura Moriawase (RM23), a staple order at every japanese joint! The batter was wonderfully light and crisp, and they give you a good mixture of prawns, pumpkin chunks, veggies and mushrooms. Yummers.

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Nankotsu Karaage (RM16); bite-size pieces of fried chicken cartilage!! Possibly the best snack food ever. O_O The chicken was not oily at all (air fried, maybe?) and the meat was juicy, flavourful, tender… With a piece of yummy crunchy tendon in the middle! I’m in love. Dip in the accompanying mayo and squeeze a bit of lemon on for maximum mouth pleasure. Highly recommended.

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Natto Maki (RM5, 6 pcs). Not a big fan of sushi, but I’ve wanted to try this since blogger Cheesie is always raving about natto. And… natto tastes freaking gross leh!! It’s Japanese fermented soybeans, but it’s nothing like the Indonesian variety, tempeh, that I’m shamelessly addicted to. Natto is really, really pungent. Rebecca commented that it tastes like chow tofu hahaha. I couldn’t tahan, wanted to throw up omg ☆〜(ゝ。∂)

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Verdict: Natto isn’t for everybody. Sample at your own risk!

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Kaisen Chahan (RM13); seafood fried rice. This is passable – no wok taste, but that’s common in nicer airconditioned eateries. The seafood tasted like it was of the frozen variety, disappointingly.

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Shishamo (RM9); grilled pregnant little fishies bursting with yummy eggs! I’m guilty of ordering shishamo whenever I see it on the menu. The one at Hokkaido Ichiba was well-grilled with a subtly smokey aftertaste, but no bitterness. So good, I could nom it all day!

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Chicken Katsujyu Zen (RM28): A bento rice set with egg and a fried chicken cutlet. Good as comfort food! It comes with miso soup, pickled appetisers, chawan mushi and sliced fruits (unpictured).

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The bento portions are pretty big, so stick to a la carte if you’re a small eater, or want better variety.

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Mixed Kinoko platter (RM13); enoki, oyster, shimeji, eryngii and shiitake mushrooms infused with garlic. This was a winner! I love me some shrooms, especially if they come in sample-size varieties. The only fault I could find was that the dish wasn’t evenly garnished – some parts had an overpoweringly garlicky taste, while others didn’t taste of garlic at all.

Overall, Hokkaido Ichiba is a good place to have a meal if you’re looking for somewhere well-decorated and generally havoc-free. I feel that the quality of the food has deteriorated over the years, but it’s still better than some other sushi joints. Avoid coming here during peak hours if you don’t fancy waiting in line for a table, but even that clears up pretty fast.

This place and Sushi Zanmai are actually owned by the same company, so you may recognise several things on the menu. Prices are higher than those at Zanmai’s, though. I think it’s justifiable because you get much better ambience and service, and that’s always a plus!

Hokkaido Ichiba
T-201, 3rd Floor,
The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley City,
59200 Kuala Lumpur

Call: 03-2283 1060

EAT: Fresca Mexican Kitchen & Bar, The Gardens

Second post, whee!

Dearest darling Waichi recently came home from abroad for a few weeks, so she, Abigail and I decided to do some bonding over movies and mexican food. A pretty great combo, no?! *dance*

We watched Oz: The Great and Powerful (it was an alright film; kind of a let-down for me, I was expecting much better) before having dinner at Fresca in The Gardens Mall. It was pretty empty for a weekend – there were only two or three other tables besides ours, but then service was quick, so no complaints there!

Forewarning: Fresca is dimly-lit… Good for ambience, but not conducive to taking clear food shots lol.

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We started off with the Tacos Ensenadas (RM19), which are beer-battered fish tacos topped with homemade coleslaw. The fish was flavourful and the tacos itself were daintily small – perfect appetiser size, imo. Soft flour wraps were used, instead of the traditional crisp corn shells, but I think it complemented the fish better than the shell versions would have.

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Next came the Chicken Fajitas (RM35); chunks of succulent chicken slices grilled with bell peppers and onions, served in a sizzling hot plate. This dish comes with a side of flour tortillas and three house dips: pico de gallo, guacamole and a spicy chipotle dip. The fajitas were really good! The chicken meat was tender and juicy, and the dips all lent great flavour to the dish. Highly recommended. I’m hoping to try their beef fajitas on my next visit! For those who can’t decide, Fresca also has mixed chicken/beef fajitas for RM43, so you can sample both. :)

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My fajita handiwork lololol

For drinks, we sampled the Frozen Strawberry Margarita, and two Aguas Frescas (traditional mexican flavoured waters): hibiscus with cranberry, and rice with cinnamon. The margarita was a real crowd-pleaser – the bartender certainly didn’t skimp on the alcohol, and the drink went down smoothly with a delightfully fruity taste. On the other hand, the aguas frescas had… interesting flavours. Not exactly to our tastes, but still very refreshing. Perhaps other people will find them more enjoyable. Verdict: we’ll stick to a round of margaritas to quench our thirst for our next visit!

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Frozen Strawberry Margarita

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Aguas Frescas, rice and cinnamon flavoured

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Aguas Frescas, hibiscus and cranberry flavoured

We had a pleasant dinner at Fresca. Ambience was great; the restaurant is nice and cosy, and ultimately clean. The staff are efficient and friendly, and the food here is moderately-priced but of good quality.

Overall, if you’re looking for a restaurant that serves delicious mexican food in a cosy atmosphere, then you should check out Fresca to satisfy those cravings!

Fresca Mexican Kitchen & Bar
Lot G-242 A, Ground Floor,
The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley City,
59200 Kuala Lumpur

Call: 03-2201 2893
More info on their facebook page here!

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