Review: Wing Wing @ Pavilion KL – Korean Fried Chicken From The UK

Update: This restaurant is permanently closed. 

There’s a new Korean fried chicken joint in town – and it’s now my new favourite place for fried chicken! Hailing from the UK, Wing Wing enters the arena with an outlet in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, dishing out fresh, juicy fried chicken with some pretty interesting flavours.

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Already a cult favourite in its homeland, Wing Wing is a fusion of edgy London street culture, the pop of Asian spice and the European passion for pure quality ingredients. The outlet on Pavilion KL’s sixth floor is bright and cheerful, with funky colours, patterns and decor geared towards youth.

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There are currently three flavours available on the menu – the conventional soy garlic, spicy and something rather unusual – liquorice. Licquorice is an ancient Mediterranean herb used in food and medicine for thousands of years. You might have seen it in the form of candy in the UK, where it is quite popular. You can opt to order the standard wings and drummettes (set of six, 12 or 18), or drumsticks (3, 6 or 9 pieces). Each set can be upgraded to include fries and bottomless drink.

WW Chicken Wings & Drumettes Combo

Now I’ve had my fair share of Korean fried chicken, and different places do it differently. Wing Wing’s appeal lies in the chicken’s freshness, as the meat is delivered to the outlet each morning, then marinated, battered and hand-brushed with premium ingredients ie French flour and natural spices, before they are deep fried to order. The hand brushing technique creates a thin layer of coating over the basic marination, so you get a thin, crackly and almost transparent crust that envelops the juicy meat within. While all the flavours are great, I personally like the licquorice because it has this great, herbal-like flavour with a sweet aftertaste. The spicy will satisfy spice lovers as it packs quite a punch.

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If you prefer something healthier (ahem), opt for the salad which comes with generous chunks of boneless chicken meat on a bed of lettuce and dressing.

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For a hearty bite to-go, Wing Wing also offers chicken wraps – a tortilla stuffed full with fried chicken strips and vegetables.

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Another one of their signature items is the Chicken Katsu Bao – an interesting fusion of Asian flavours. There’s the lightly fried Chinese mantao bun, paired with tender crispy chicken within and a hefty dollop of kimchi slaw. The flavours are well balanced, with the slight sweetness/savoury flavour of the chicken + the tangy, sourness/creaminess of the kimchi slaw.

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Got a sweet tooth? Fret not – Wing Wing offers a couple of dessert items as well, such as the Hot Bao Nuts (stuffed with ingredients such as Banana Caramel; Pineapple, etc.) and ice cream sundaes.

Prices for the chicken items start from RM15.90 onwards.

WING WING MALAYSIA

Lot 6.01.01, Level 6, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Phone: 03-21103525

Business hours: 10AM – 10PM (daily)

*Photos not watermarked courtesy of Wing Wing Malaysia/Suppagood PR

Cheap Dimsum! @ Seng Dimsum, Betong, Thailand

Google ‘breakfast in Betong‘, and chances are you’ll be directed to Seng Dimsum, a Chinese establishment in the centre of town (near the clocktower) that serves cheap dimsum. Back in the days it used to be RM1 per plate (!! ) but with inflation and increasing costs, they now cost 20baht (RM2.55)… which is still cheap, considering most places in Kuala Lumpur serve upwards of RM6.

Signboard in Chinese and Thai. I am unable to read both. Lol

Dining area is your typical Chinese resto setting and can easily seat 100 people or more. Unlike traditional Malaysian style dimsum where some auntie will be pushing a cartload of goodies to your table, here it’s all self-service.

The dimsum plates were placed on ice. Some were familiar (the usual fishpaste, siew mai, etc) but there were also other types that weren’t common in Malaysia, like the stuffed pork paste in mushroom, the mini veggie combos, fish slices. Select the ones you prefer and hand them over to the staff who will steam it fresh and take it to your table after.

Buns, dumplings, the usual suspects.

  

At the front was where all the steaming was done. I think this was partly for visuals – aside from the fragrant aroma of food being cooked, there’s also the steam wafting out to entice passers-by.

To the left was the chee cheong fun (rolled rice flour noodles) which we didn’t order.

Dimsum must always be accompanied by a pot of hot Chinese tea. 🙂

We were feeling a bit peckish, so got 12 plates to share between the our of us. The portions were smaller than those in Malaysia, but then again, it’s only 20baht. I liked the siumai (pork dumplings with wonton skin) and the one with century egg. Tastewise, everything was quite tasty but I wouldn’t say it’s the best dimsum I’ve had. Still great value for money though!

SENG DIMSUM, BETONG 

410, Amphoe Betong, Chang Wat Yala 95110, Thailand

Open for breakfast

 

Review: The Cafe that was a Brothel – Merchant’s Lane, Petaling Street Kuala Lumpur

I admit it. Despite this being a (mostly) food blog, I’m not the most up-to-date when it comes to food trends or new cafe openings – there always seems to be new ones mushrooming up somewhere or other, and not enough days to try them out (not to mention… not kind on the wallet. lol). 😀

So even though I’ve heard many good things about Merchant’s Lane in Petaling Street, it wasn’t until last week that I got to visit the place with N. It was an awesome experience – not just because of its nostalgic, atmospheric vibe, but also coz of the food and service.

There are no visible signboards proclaiming their location. Instead, we had to hunt for the cafe entrance, which was shielded by a bamboo shade in front of Kiat Leong Stationery and Trading. There we found green doors, and a narrow stairway leading up to the second floor.

The stairway was bathed in a sleazy red light – perhaps a throwback to the days when the place used to be a brothel. Walls were intentionally left chipped and flaking, with posters plastered over for events, open-mic nights and other artsy happenings galore. We got there around 1-ish and there was a short line, but we got a table for two fairly quickly.

Old school/vintage paraphernalia decorated the shelves, along with artsy items that would satisfy any hipster’s wet dream.

The main dining area was spacious and airy, with a high sloping ceiling and plenty of natural light filtering from above. Rattan chairs, paired with stainless steel tables and the blotchy concrete walls created a nice blend of modern and nostalgic, of industrial meets old-school charm.

Restaurant is popular with the urban crowd; mostly young, but also families.

Orders are made at the counter, where they have shelves lined with teas and coffees. Loved the fluorescent lights within the caged counter top design.

While waiting for our food to arrive, I did some snooping around. 😀 Haven’t seen these calendars in a long time.

Like most pre-war buildings, the space is longer than it seems, belying its external appearance. Beyond the main dining area is an outdoor patio (smoking) with several more tables and lots of shrubbery. Bunches of dried herbs and bulbs hang from the wooden beams, while a faded wall that would have looked ugly on its own is spruced up with vintage posters and flower garlands.

At the very back is a cosy nook, with incense coils acting as ceiling decorations, and large tapestries featuring vivid and colourful flower paintings. Old school wall-mounted fans spun around lazily as guests engaged in intimate conversation, snuggled on low rattan chairs. It was less crowded and noisy in this space: I can imagine spending a whole afternoon here having a cuppa with friends or the s/0.

   

Merchant’s Lane definitely scores points for ambience, but it would be poor fare if the food didn’t live up to expectations.

Thankfully, the few items we tried were satisfactory, with some clear winners. My hot Rose Honey Milk (RM12) looked too pretty for consumption : the bed of flower petals scattered over the froth was like an exquisite work of art. Finally took a sip and was pleased; milky with just a hint of honey sweetness, complemented by the subtle fragrance of flowers.

N tried their signature Hongkie Beef Stew (RM22), which is slow cooked Cantonese beef with mash and gravy. This was well done: the beef was tender and flaked apart easily, while the mash on the bottom was smooth and creamy. The sauce on first try tasted good, but after a bit it got too sweet for my liking. Could have done with a bit more texture, but overall, still a decent dish.

The Italian Chow Mein (RM21)  was a fusion of east and west: stir fried pasta with chicken Rendang. I liked the al-dente texture of the noodles, and the slightly spicy Rendang sauce with tomato (not spicy enough imo!). Again, first few bites were good but it tasted increasingly sweet towards the end for some reason. Wouldn’t say it’s the best pasta I’ve ever had, but I’d still give it a 7.5/10.

To round off the meal, we ordered the cheekily-named Better than Sex (RM18) – four thick rolls of Pandan flavoured roti jala with melted cheese, served with signature kaya toast ice cream and drizzled over with gula melaka sauce, a handful of almonds and slices of strawberry.

THIS.

The roti jala was soft and fluffy, perfect to go with the sweetish-salty ice cream and the gooey cheese. Almonds added a much needed crunch, and the thick, caramel-ly gula melaka brought everything together in perfect harmony. A good dessert to say the least!

Is Merchant’s Lane worth visiting? 

Yes, especially if you love cosy little hole-in-the-wall nooks and too-good-to-eat-looking dishes.

Food: 7.5/10 (9/10 for the dessert!)

Service: 8/10 (fast and friendly)

Ambience: 9/10 (-1 point because a bit crowded/noisy on weekends)

 

MERCHANT’S LANE 

First Floor, 150, Jalan Petaling, Off Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur.
Opening hours: (daily) 12PM – 8PM

 

 

Porridge Time, IOI Mall Puchong

[Update] This outlet is permanently closed.

In the West you have pizza places; in Malaysia we have porridge joints. One great place to get a porridge fix is at Porridge Time, which has branches in malls all over the country. Serving hearty and delicious porridge, the outlets are no-frills and the items are affordable, considering the air-conditioned setting.

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The nearest outlet to my house is at IOI Mall in Puchong, tucked within a quiet corner on the ground floor. It can be hard to miss, so just look out Papa John’s Pizza/Seoul Garden BBQ and you’ll find the resto, all decked out in red.

I like the one topped with deep fried pieces of pork intestine (above). The flavour is a little gamey, but the innards are super crunchy and addictive.

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Porridge is best eaten with deep fried crullers. Cut into small pieces, you dip them into the porridge where they soak up the broth.

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Something less fatty.

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“Teng Zai” porridge, so called because it used to be sold on little boats. This dish was popular in Hong Kong back in the day. The version here has crab meat sticks, seaweed and peanuts, garnished with spring onions and ginger.

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Enjoy with seasonings such as pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil.

PORRIDGE TIME 

Lot EG12, IOI Mall, Jalan Puchong, Bandar Puchong Jaya,
47100 Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia
 +60 12-286 8992
Open daily: 11AM–10PM

French Food in KL @ 2OX Bistro and Bar, The Row

You don’t have to go to France: let France come to you. At 2OX Bistro and Bar along The Row@Jalan Doraisamy, KL, one can find authentic staples common in every French household – just like how Maman used to make them.

Head chef Thierry Le Baut, who has over 16 years of experience in cooking French cuisine and has been in Malaysia for the last three years, explained that there was no ‘fusion’ or tweaking of flavours to suit local tastes. If you’re having a rilette or a pate here in 20X, rest assured that it’ll taste the same as it does in France. This is probably one of the reasons why the resto is so popular with expats.

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When we came by for lunch, the place was quite empty. Clean and comfy, the decor was modern but cosy, with a bar area and a skylight which allowed sunlight to filter in.

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Chef Thierry was super friendly, and we talked about his travels around the world, learning about the cuisines in each country. He says he was inspired by his mother’s cooking when coming up with the menu for 2OX.

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For appetisers, we started off with the Pate de Maman (RM40) or Mother’s Pate. Presented on a wooden board, there was a thick slab of pate – a mix of minced meat, fat, liver and herbs such as onion, garlic and parsley. The mix of fat and lean gave it an amazing texture and flavour that was both juicy and salty,perfectly complemented by the sour, tangy pickles and crunchy crackers.

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The Duck Rilette (RM38) came in a little glass jar, and sides similar to the pate, namely crackers, salad and pickled items. This was, Thierry professed, one of his favourite dishes. Hard to make, since it requires the meat to be cured, salted, cooked over low heat, shredded and raked before blending. The duck was mixed with pork for a fatter, melt-in-the-mouth taste that melted on our tongues.

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This.

This is everything. You’d think : salad? psh. But this was in a class of its own.

Dubbed Toasted Goat’s Cheese with Tomatoes and Walnuts (RM38), the dish was made up of fresh spinach leaves topped with two slabs of slightly-melted goat cheese. Unlike conventional cow cheese, these had a sweeter and stronger flavour with a creamy, tart aftertaste. The walnuts and ham lent it extra texture and flavour. Definitely get this if you’re at 2OX!

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The Fusilli Pasta with Rocket Salad, Tomatoes, Peanuts and Pesto (RM22) felt wholesome, as there were slices of tomato, peanuts and creamy pesto sauce. Felt that it needed a bit more salt though.

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Another must-have is the house signature dish – Beef Oyster Blade (RM88). Cooked for seven hours in low temperature, the meat was so tender it literally fell apart with just a gentle slice from the knife; and the meat melted inside the mouth like butter.

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The Chicken a La Basquaise (RM55): huge portion enough for two, served piping hot with tender meat and veggies, soaking in its own juices

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To wrap up the meal, we went for desserts, and they were equally as good as the earlier dishes. The Lemon Tart Meringue Everinne (RM15) had a nice fluffy layer on top with swirls of brown coming out of the sweet, snowy white meringue, while the bottom was a base of sour lemon curd. When scooping both up in the same spoonful, one can feel the sweet and sour dancing on your tastebuds.

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My personal favourite was the Dark Chocolate Mousse (RM15) because it wasn’t too sweet as chocolate desserts are apt to be. Thick, rich and creamy, it also had a smattering of crunchy chopped nuts on top.

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Last but definitely not least, a French classic: the Creme Brulee (RM15).Torched to create a crinkly caramelised crust on top, the creme brulee was soft, bouncy and full of eggy flavour at the bottom.

We thoroughly enjoyed our food and the experience at 2OX. Might be a bit hard on your pocket as the mains are all RM50++ and above, but I think it would be a great place for celebrations or just to indulge in some real French food once in awhile. There is also a three course set meal for RM88+. Service is prompt, professional and it gives you the feeling of fine dining at relatively affordable prices.

2OX FRENCH BISTRO AND BAR
56, The Row, Jalan Doraisamy,
Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2692 2233
Business hours: 12pm – 12am (daily)

Melt in the Mouth Roast Meats at Char Siew Yoong, Cheras KL

I woke up feeling like death warmed over this morning. I don’t know if it’s because I slept late last night, or my body just decided to tell me that it was growing old, but I had a massive, throbbing headache. The initial plan was to just lie in and let it subside, but at the mention of roast pork my ears perked up and I managed to drag myself out of bed to join my family for lunch. In my books, one must either be chronically ill or dying to ever say no to a nice slab of charsiew or crispy siew yuk. 

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It was a relatively long drive (about 45mins) to Restoran Char Siew Yoong in the city center. Tucked in a quiet alley along Old Pudu, Cheras, visitors will be greeted by rows and rows of glistening roast pork bellies hanging in the front, where the chefs chop and butcher up pieces of meat to be served to patrons on the inside.

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Comfy, air-conditioned and no-frills, typical Chinese restaurant setting.

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First up, we ordered two double-boiled soups – black bean and lou wong gua (old cucumber soup). Double boiling is a Chinese cooking method where the soups are placed in a jar and the jar is then boiled inside a bigger pot. This technique seals in all the flavours, making it rich and hearty.

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Time to try out the star attraction – charsiew! This roast meat is very popular all around the world where there are Chinese communities, and can either be either with rice, noodles or stuffed into buns. The meat is seasoned with honey, five-spice powder, fermented bean curd, dark soy sauce and a mix of other ingredients before roasting over with maltose for a sweet, caramel-ly taste.

The version here lived up to its reputation on many online blogs and some newspapers – sweet and glazed, with a melt-in-the-mouth texture. Definitely one of the best charsiews that I’ve ever tasted and highly recommended! Instead of drowning it in sauce, the folks at Char Siew Yoong let the meat do the talking: but if you want more sauce, you can always request it from the staff and they’ll gladly provide you with a bowl of sweetish glaze.

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We also had their siew yuk, which is also roast pork belly but with a dryer texture and crackly skin. Just looking at the beautiful layers of fat and lean meat is enough to make any pork lover drool. The skin was very crispy and crunched loudly when eaten, while the pink, lean part was salty goodness. It could have done with more flavour though, but overall, still a very good siew yuk. 

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Rm18 and Rm19 respectively; portion for four persons.

Char Siew Yoong is easily one of the best places for roast pork in KL, as far as my knowledge goes, but feel free to recommend me other places to try! 🙂

CHAR SIEW YOONG

23, Jalan Pudu Ulu, 56100 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 6012-213 7163

Opening hours: 10am – 5pm, closed once a fortnight on Thursdays