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.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Three Nights, Three Wine Dinners - Stoked, Sapore and Nadodi

April 6th 2017

Wow…  three wine dinners on the bounce this week. Photos are a bit grim, having been taken with the Samsung. Getting a bit lazy to take the old Sony, and the big flash does annoy the table guests. But I think we still can see the dishes quite well - welcome to another slice of my food scribbles!

French Duck Breast - un peu froid
First off was a Banfi Wine Dinner at Stoked on Monday April 3rd. Second was the Amanti della Cucina Italiano at Sapore on Tuesday the 4th. And third was an IWFS food tasting at Nadodi on the Wednesday April 5th. It is now Thursday the 6th and I am pretty muzzy and fuzzed - that little tweaking behind the eyes that tells you "tonight you must take a night off the sauce". But then you remember you have a couple of half opened bottles in the fridge and you think "how to not finish them off?" We'll see - some of the wines don't do too well after a chilling in the fridge and grudgingly get poured down the sink - some not salvageable even by the little aerator thingy or blending with other half bottles in the fridge. Damn sad.

Iberico Presa - beaucoup froid!!
I digress. Castello Banfi at Stoked started well with a delightfully light and fruity fizz going with some raw fish and woody truffle canapes. The white was equally pleasant in a chugging cheery kind of way with just enough of a hint of character to pique the interest - quite unusual for Pinot Grigio in my experience. It also paired well with the sweet and tasty Prawns and Burrata Cheese - lovely combo this, and well zinged up by the sweet boozy vinaigrette. Two reds came out with the duck and the Bolgheri Rosso was lovely - medium lush and chewy fruit and tannin in a lovely even balance that had us buying another bottle for an end of the evening nightcap. Friendly prices too, though not for the long term - two years, maybe three, but lovely drinking now. The Chianti was a bit standard Banfi - lean and taut - whilst the Brunello was firm and full but frankly forgettable. Also got recognised by Banfi Regional Manager Guillaume Blanchard who was on hand to host and guide us all through the wines. Lenglui and I had attended a Banfi dinner some years back at Le Meridien when it used to have an Italian restaurant there. Better wines tonight than then. Far better. That previous one had frankly put me off Banfi wines - found them thin, fierce, and tight. Tonight it got redeemed. 

May and The Money
The Money and the Banker
Foodwise, the evening got a bit marred by two dishes coming out cold and needing to get sent back and, in the case of the main pork, needing to get replaced with beef as no more pork available. Not sure what went wrong, but all were full of apologies and an extra glass of the good stuff got poured to help recompense. Hmmm…   not sure what it is with Stoked - it has evenings that are total Brahma, and then it trips up with something like this. I think there were some new staff drafted who were perhaps not as fully trained as might have been hoped for. Chef Yau's fish dishes are pretty much always on point - the raw fish canapes and prawns were excellent - but somehow the meat dishes don't always seem to hit the mark for me. Sorry, but I never feel as stunned as I feel I should be. But then Chef Evert's meat at Soleil was similar, but eventually he started putting out some wonderful meat. I live in hope. 

Lenglui and new friends
120 Jalan Kasah, 
Medan Damansara, 
50490 Kuala Lumpur

Trio of Canap├ęs
Banfi Tener Brut NV

Tai Fish
Sweet Prawn, Burrata Cheese, Champagne & Honey Vinaigrette
Banfi San Angelo Toscana IGT 2014

French Duck Breast
Plum, Fennel, Blueberry Caramel Sauce
Banfi Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2013 
Banfi Aska Bolgheri DOC Rosso 2013

100% Acorn-Fed Iberico Presa
Portobello Mushroom, Pecorino Cheese, Edible Flowers
Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011

Coconut Sorbet
Coconut Water, Baked Banana, Coconut Chips

Coffee or Tea

Petits Fours

Sapore is a new kid on the block and the latest venture of Chef Federico. Cutting his teeth at Pietro and getting some chops at Marini's on 57, he is now going back to his roots and serving up some damn fine home style Italian cooking. From start to finish, the food was outstanding. We started with ham, mortadella, salami and the most amazing lardo that was total tongue zapping gangbusters with some salty oven baked bread. Next was a Wild Boar ragout with large tubes of Rigatoni pasta (some said a shade overboiled, but I found mine pretty much perfect) which was all taste and firm whack in the craw. The Suckling Pig was magnificent - tender, cooked, smelling and tasting of thyme and rosemary - fantastic. Roast potatoes could have been crisper (a shade mushy on the bite) but the pig…   I later noticed it was not on the menu so perhaps it is special order. Tiramisu dessert was damn near perfect - light, coffee, cream and cold. Belter.

We brought our own wines - a Vivo Prosecco and a 2013 Fontodi Chianti. Prosecco was pleasant, and kept quite cool in the IWFS Bag. The Chianti was a bit mean - thinnish fruit and prominent tannin. Austere would be a good word here. But the leftovers got blended with a roughish jammy leftover bordeaux at home to produce a half drinkable nightcap.

Sapore is well worth a return visit though be advised that unless you are desperately lucky, the parking in the area sucks. I ended up halfway down a dark road outside someone's large and well electrified house. Chef also does a 1.2kg Steak, so that sounds like a date with the Baron at some near future time.

Nadodi Maitre D' and friend
18 Persiaran Ampang, 
Desa Pahlawan, Ampang 
55000 KL
Tel +603 42666362
email: sapore18my@gmail.com

Antipasti tagliere
Mix of the best of Italian cold cut from parma , capocollo , salami , Lardo di collonata , mortadella , served with pickled vegetable

Rigatoni pasta with Tuscany style  and pecorino romano

Suckling pig porchetta style served with roasted potato

Home made vanilla gelato

Nadodi (which apparently is Hindi for "wanderer") is the latest place to take the premises that once housed the legendary Il Lido on Jalan Yap Kwan Seng. There have been a couple of attempts to kickstart subsequent eateries on the premises, though none seem to have taken hold. The Architect seems to think the Feng Shui there is not so good - it is muscled in on pretty much all sides by some bigass neighbours that tower above it. Whatever, some serious money has been spent on it, and it now sports a fine dining Indian Cuisine restaurant on Level One and a swanky bar on Level Two. 
Destroyed Staple - evaporated in a single bite

The menu blurb runs:
"Modernity and tradition go hand-in-hand at Nadodi. Our artisanal creations make creative use of exclusively sourced ingredients and specialty farmed produce to earn a place at our table, and on your plate. We harness completely contemporary techniques and retrofit an age old traditional recipe with modernity. This can result in surprising discoveries and an absolutely fresh perspective on familiar cuisine tropes that must be experienced."

Lactose Free - Fish Flakes and Sambol - two bites
So it was not Indian Fusion cuisine as someone along the line had told us. Some foodie friends had been under the impression that Nadodi was Indian Fusion cuisine - it is not; there is no other cuisine with which the recipes were fused. But one does need a bit of a sense of adventure to come here. And also to mentally get away from the mindset that sees Indian cuisine as the preserve of the roadside. But the rewards are very pleasant. It is indeed fine dining Indian cuisine with some lovely touches and delightful tastes.  The evening had been organised by the Doc with a view to hosting a future IWFS event there. And on this showing, it looks like it should happen soon. 

Out Of The Shell - Scallop and Foam
Alleppey Lobster and Coconut Crumble
We spent a short time at the upstairs bar with our glasses of bubbles, and gawping at the single Twin Tower we could see peeking behind one of the neighbours. This bar is beyond swanky - red and black and high end sofas with some open air space to listen to the low hum of the Jalan Ampang traffic. Tiger prints seem to abound, and there seems some association with a London club of the same name. It felt a bit overwhelming and macho, and I didn't feel quite comfortable (never quite seem to in these muscle bars) and was glad when we got called to dinner. Though the staff there were most friendly and accommodative. Paid RM53 for Lenglui's VAT (Vodka and Tonic - anyone remember Minder?).

We got sat in a private room that will take about 16 at a stretch and Maitre D' started us off with a nice bit of theatre whereby what looked like a large empty wall frame became a window into the kitchen. We were to have what was billed as the Six Mile Run - a six dish degustation of revisited Indian cuisine. The first two courses did not look promising in terms of diners feeling full at the end of it all - both were half bite size morsels of wonderful tastes and blends but frighteningly tiny. More than half the table thought we would be heading for Char Kwey Teow supper, which thinking was reinforced by dishes three and four - barely two bites apiece. But it all came together with dish five - basically Chicken Biryani with solid rice and amazing sauces. And second helpings of rice and sauce if needed. This brought it all together and laid the replete stomach foundation for dish six dessert which came across like creamy cold and crunchy cendol. 

Dravidian Nation - Chicken Biriyani and sauces - yum!
The quality of the food, its presentations and descriptions, the service of both food and wine were top class. Well worth a visit to impress friends and educate those who feel one should not pay top dollar for food you can get on the streets for a fraction of the cost. We paid RM200 for the six and I would definitely go back for a similar experience. Winewise, we had various Champagnes, a delightful SB from a new NZ vineyard discovered by The Money. The Architect brought a bottle of Pingus, there was a CdR to finish and I think a Bordeaux somewhere in the mix. And May brought a Rose, which was found to be perfect with much of the food, especially the lobster. 

Mind of a Coconut - sounds like some people I know...
Slight gripe on the parking - was told valet would be RM10 (I think only valet is possible - little to no parking anywhere near the place on the outside) but only got RM30 back from a fifty. Might have been a genuine mistake, but I was in a rush and only found out on getting home. Thinking on it, perhaps this is why the place cannot ever take off - there is no easy parking, and one thing that Malaysians DO tend to expect when it comes to eating is easy and free/cheap parking; if cannot park within ten yards of the eaterie then no matter how good the food they'll cold shoulder it. Maybe Nadodi should buy the chunk of land next door and build a car park - now THAT will make money. Maybe I should talk to the Architect...

The Ceramic Football of Biriyani
Lot 183 of, Jalan Mayang, Kampung Baru, 
50450 Kuala Lumpur, 
Open 6pm to 10pm
Tel: +603 21814334

Menu - The Six Mile Journey

Destroyed Staple

Lactose Free
Fish flakes, Sambol

Out of the Shell
Chettinad Scallops, Tamarind froth

Silence Of Our Lamb
Sous Vide Lamb, Curry Leaf Ash
Alleppey Lobsters
Poached Lobster Tails, Coconut Mango Crumble

Dravidian Nation
Country-chicken Biriyani, Silver Burst

Mind Of a Coconut
Cane Sugar, Sea Coconut