Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Tale of Three KL Steaks - Soleil, Chambers and Lucky Bo

July 29 (Soleil), August 5 (Chambers), August 14 (Lucky Bo) 2016

This was originally to be a tale of two steaks comparing Soleil and Chambers, but then walking past the Lucky Bo en route to one of the other eateries on the Bangkung Row, the Tomahawk Steak was spotted on the menu and reservations made almost immediately.

Lenglui and I like our steak. We have had some amazing chunks of beef both in Malaysia and on our travels, and they do take up quite a lot of my fantastic food memories. Porterhouse and Wolfgang's in New York, House of Prime Rib in San Francisco, Canlis in Seattle, Chez Paul in Paris, Charolais Beef in Beaune, and the greasy midnight specials of my youth at the El Greco and Clifton Street in Cardiff. More locally, we have enjoyed great steaks at Prime in Le Meridien, the Prime in the Bangkok Hilton, Florentine Beefsteak at Osteria RealBlue in Publika, and brilliant Rib Eye at the Mortons and Wolfgang Puck in Singapore. There are a few other places in KL whose names presently elude me, and most of which have either now sadly closed down or their prices have gone astronomical and beyond which I prefer not to bear. Up until about 6 months ago, it was increasingly difficult to find a "great" steak in Kuala Lumpur. Lots of good ones, but very few that elevated themselves into the "great" category.

Then, for some reason, the "Tomahawk" steak became incredibly popular almost overnight. Served with the meat still attached to the long rib, it quickly became de rigeur to be offered at many restaurants who until that time had done little in the way of decent meat. The margins must be good. Also, the bone makes for a good souvenir, and the number of foodie friends who seem to have recently become dog owners has increased dramatically. 

Tomahawk Steak at Soleil. Looks Wagyu, tastes... can't remember...
We had had the Tomahawk at Soleil previously on two reasonably recent occasions and it was stunning. They do it with a beef equivalent of Chee Hor Jiak - those little deep fried chunks of fat you get with Chinese Pork noodles like Hokkien Fried Mee. Except these puppies were deep fried chunks of beef fat rather than pork fat. Darn tasty and a great textural bite to ease the passage of the meat. 

Soleil Sides - crunchy beans and somewhat stodgy spuds
Our friend the Rubber Baron also likes a steak with a good bottle of Red, so he and his dear lady joined us at the Soleil. We shared some starters, and friend Lucy had the Turbot whilst he, Lenglui and I ripped into the steak. The Rubber Baron brought a 2006 Dominus and I brought a 2007 Joseph Phelps Cabernet. Both were silky, rich, full bodied and stunningly wonderful, the Phelps taking it for me on the night with smooth tasty mouth exploding fruit and immense silk on the tannins. 2007 was a belter of a year in the Napa - all the wines we have had from this vintage have been stellar. Dominus was still too young. They didn't charge us corkage.

Spaghetti and Crunchy Beef Fat - O Lordy Lordy...
When the meat came, the Baron asked for some spaghetti and promptly mixed all the fried fat and bits into it which became total genius - carbo and fat with crunch and bite which all together felt like a blast from Gabriel's trumpet - repent and believe in the truth that is laid before ye! If St Peter has a restaurant I hope it serves this as an entree, though the anorak wardens at the Gate would probably deem it too sinful to serve. Wonderful wonderful. 

Soleil Cheese Platter and Bone to Go
Whilst the Soleil preparation and presentation and wine service were at their excellent best, regret to report that the meat on this occasion felt a bit forgettable. Not sure why, just not nearly as memorable as previous. This last time out also felt a bit of a whack in the wallet. Two shared starters, turbot for one and steak for four with an excellent cheese platter to finish came out at nearly RM1600 total for four. I guess the meat was wagyu; it was over RM1000 for 1.3kg of the meat. Service charge alone was over RM200. Hmmm…  Bit below par and didn't quite feel value on this occasion. 

Soleil Apple Crumble
In contrast, the T-Bone at Chambers was full of taste, aided by a spoon of ash woody black salt to bring out its delightful best. In addition, the sides of French Fries were crisp and full bodied, the spinach was freshly delicate and rich in serious iron, add the fact that no corkage got charged because we got recognised by the Sommelier as regulars (outstanding!!), and the whole thing (courtesty of a Hilton card membership) came in at under RM200 (under the Card, one person in your group gets to dine for free; so three people, only pay for two). We shared a 500g T-Bone (RM248) and sides which proved enough. A beautiful steak, perfectly done, with superb accompaniments and some excellent service from all the staff. Chef Marc came out to say hello and accepted a glass of our 1997 Clerc Milon. All in all, another hugely memorable evening at the Chambers. Definitely would go back on this form. Silly, silly price for two people. And the ambience of the Chambers is classic upmarket New York compared to the low key subdued continental Brasserie feel of the Soleil - more breezy than easy, though conversation can get a bit difficult - ask for a table near the kitchen. 

[Sidenote - Lenglui and I have been off and on Hilton Card holders over the years.The reason we let it lapse was the idiotic car park charges that kept getting imposed. Now with Hilton there is flat rate with the rubber chop. Seems someone finally listened. The card is not a bad deal for two who like to eat there. Which we do - the Iketeru Japanese Teppanyaki beef and fish are consistently good and with a bottle of Sake makes for a good night. The Graze is…  okay, but now with Chambers there is a serious contender to the Prime in the next door Le Meridien. Given that the carpark charges there remain (to my knowledge) fierce, going for steak at the Chambers is now a no brainer.]

Lucky Bo interior
As said, Lucky Bo was a chance meeting on the way to eat the Guinness Stew at the neighbouring Jarrod and Rawlins. Lots of glass frontage with somewhat subdued lighting that made the menu a bit tough to read. Though our table friend Rose was able to call out the dishes for us. 

Charcuterie Platter - hmm...
We started with a fairly forgettable Charcuterie platter of mediocre cheeses and what could only be described as Iberico Duck shavings - had the oily and greasy texture of Iberico Ham but was apparently duck. Tasty, but barely enough on the plate to satisfy. The toasted wholewheat bread ahead of the platter was good, though perhaps a dint of French butter rather than the standard Balsamic and Olive Oil from BIG or wherever might add a classy touch. FBQ added a side of onion rings which came out in a conical tower and actually looked quite phallic. Yeah okay, maybe it is the mind it goes into, and no one else commented on the…  engorged visual aspect, but first thing I saw was virile and penile, especially with the, er, crowning glory. Definitely a candidate for being haramised at some of the more sensitive eateries. Or at least toned down on the visual side. But kudos to the creative mind behind it.  Tastewise they were okay, but maybe needed a shade more defrosting. Either that or hotter oil. 

The phallic Onion Ring Tower
The Lucky Bo meat was classic Angus medium rare, seared with loads of salt which made for a very tasty chunk of bone-in to share among the four of us. Nice touches with the broccoli and chunky roast potato and roasted garlic and lemon adds on the wooden platter. Texas Ranger had ordered a pricey Malbec to match but it had all got drunk by the time the meat hit the table. So rather than fork out for another, I brought out a 2010 Alles de Cantermerle brought for the nonce and the heck with the RM60 the corkage. The darling Rose came on her own to tell us no corkage would get imposed as we had already bought one from the wine list! And she brought out fresh glasses for the new wine! Put the Lucky Bo way up the rankings with this. Actually, Rose our wine and food waiter was outstanding - she always kept an eye on the glasses and food and was unfailingly helpful throughout the evening. Worth to visit Lucky Bo to get served by her alone.  The Malbec was muy macho, tasting a bit like dusty pine needles with a big whack of beautifully blended dark plum and rich chewy tannins. The Alles de Cantemerle was softer, though with enough oomph to ease the meat without overwhelming and make for a most pleasant food partner. Good wine, this one - maybe can keep for a while, but is drinking very nicely now. 

The Lucky Bo Tomahawk - good solid meat
Total for four was RM900 inclusive of the RM250 Malbec and RM130 GST and service charge. Ambience borders on French bistro, cafe style tables with tablecloths, fair glassware, but sat near the door meant we got regularly blasted by the warm Bangkung Row evening air every time someone came in or out (which was quite often - seating was also available outside). On our Sunday, it was full with two Birthday celebrations and a family with a small child whose mother kept adding to the door opening on too many occasions for comfort. Still don't understand why parents need to bring almost new born children to a noisy restaurant. Is it a bonding thing? Though our little cherub was delightfully silent through the night, notwithstanding the noise being made by our Birthday neighbours. Lucky Bo seems indeed to have luck and looks like it is flourishing - hopefully it has ditched the jinx that seemed to bedevil its previous incarnations as a seafood restaurant (Four Seas), a modern European style eaterie (Madisons) and (if I remember correctly) a halal Chinese cuisine hangout somewhere in between the two. 

Leonardo's Chocolate Lava - so sinful
The desserts looked a bit sad so at the suggestion of the FBQ we opted to go to Leonardo's upstairs and next door for their Chocolate Lava dessert which was absolutely magnificent with an Espresso - all rich thick gooey bitter chocolate sauce and creamy ice cream with little dabs of mango and strawberry sauce. Another one for the Pearly Gates Restaurant. 

Tastewise and everything else wise, Chambers completely knocked it out of the park. The range of salts to taste, excellently charred and seasoned meat, brilliant sides and superb service and under RM200 for the two of us. Unmitigated Bargain of the Decade and darn straight we be back soon. Lucky Bo was fair value and worth a return visit when the need to whack a large chunk of the Angus is felt by a group. As for Soleil, I don't think we'll be back there before they move - there did feel a slight slip somewhere. See what happens when they move to the new place. 

Soleil Restaurant
Business Hours
12.00 Noon - 2.30 pm | 6.30 pm - 10.30 pm (last order) | Off Day - Sunday
Address : Ground Floor, 22A, Jalan 17/54, Seksyen 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.
GL +603 7932 5989 | F +603 7932 0877 | HP +6012 612 5989
E enquiries@soleil.my

Chambers Bar and Grill
Open Daily Mon - Sat 12.00 to 2.30pm, 8.30pm to 10.30pm
KL Hilton Hotel
3 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur 50470, Malaysia
+603 2264 2264

Lucky Bo
Business Hours
Daily 11am to 4pm, 6pm to 11.00pm
65 Jalan Bangkung
Bukit Bandaraya, Bangsar
59100 Kuala Lumpur
+603 2092 1222
Lucky Bo exterior in Bangsar


  1. At Singapore's Bistecca, one of my favourite places for bistecca alla fiorentina, 1.1 kgs of F1 Wagyu goes for SGD 188. So Soleil is basically 67% more expensive for no real good reason, despite the fact that business overheads down here are significantly higher. No wonder Evert's waiving your corkage!

    1. Ya, this kind of charging feels a bit of a scalping. Must try Bistecca on the next visit. Cheers J!

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