Monday, February 12, 2018

4Play Seafood & Co.

Seems that December / January is when I receive food review invitations. Why? No idea, but I am always gladly surprised to find random emails with such invites in my mailbox. Who wouldn't be, right? We are Malaysians, we are motivated by food! :D

This time, I received an invitation from a new place in Publika called 4Play Seafood & Co. How could I not invite friends when friends are allowed? The first person I thought of was my review makan kaki, Alicia. And then, it was Li Xin, who coincidentally was back from Melbourne for her summer break. Thought that I'd kill two birds with one stone to catch up with her before she flies back Down Under. I rang a few others, too, but they all had prior commitments. My phone conversation with Kenny, in particular, was rather hilarious. When he asked the name of the establishment, I simply replied, "4Play". He laughed because it sounded like something else... 😆

We chose a dinner slot to be there. The traffic was not horrendous but it was slow-moving from where Li Xin and I were coming from. Thankfully, she was okay to drive me because well, you know, it is rather hard to drive with a fractured right foot. We met Alicia there, who had no problems finding the place. Yours truly here hardly goes to Publika so it was a bit of a challenge and it didn't help that they are partially hidden by a huge pillar. We found the place nonetheless so all good.

Chef Desmond came out of the kitchen to quickly exchange pleasantries and then we were promptly served by the friendly waitstaff. One good thing about reviews is that we needn't crack our heads on what to choose from the menu, as they would have a pre-planned menu for us.

We were started off with a plate of Wild Mushroom Soup (RM20), a plate of shiitake, oyster and white button mushrooms simmered in a rich cream broth and drizzled with truffle oil. We appreciated that they used real mushrooms and with the accompanying basket of garlic bread, we felt that we were off to a good start.

Thankfully, there was only one plate of Seafood Cioppino (RM26) and not three, unlike the mushroom one because otherwise, I think we'd have too much liquid in our tummies to fit in anything else. On the menu, the description of this dish was clams, prawns, squid and mussels slowly simmered in a herbed tomato broth. Ah, okay, so cioppino meant soup and when we looked up Wikipedia, it is actually an American-Italian fish stew originating from San Fran. 

It definitely had all the described ingredients but while we thought it was well-presented, it was a little too salty to our liking. We wondered if this was meant to be eaten with bread, as on its own, it had a rather strong taste.

An adorable plate of Chilli Padi and Honey Chicken Wing (RM25) followed. We agreed that if we were to order a la carte, this would be one that would catch our attention on the menu. It simply was just deep-fried chicken wing dipped in a chilli padi and honey sauce. This was easily the star of the night. The chicken skin was crispy, it smelt fragrant and the sauce was addictive. 

When the following three dishes were served, we noticed how generous they were with their portions.  The following three were Golden Salted Egg Yolk dishes and we were served all three meat choices of chicken (RM25), prawn (RM28) and calamari (RM25).

They weren't too bad, plenty of flavour but we were not really able to taste the salted egg yolk. We could taste plenty of everything else, though and they were well-battered. Not bad, not bad.

Perhaps we were comparing the taste to more Chinese-style cooking, you know, where in Chinese restaurants you'd be able to taste the salted egg yolk to the extent of feeling your cholesterol levels spike.

I found the Creamy Spinach Stuffed Mushroom (RM22) interesting, as I have not had this combination before. However, if you are not a spinach or mushroom fan, this is not for you. Trying this made me wonder if it would work with cheese instead of cream, if I were to try making this at home.

Served in a black hotpot was the Clams (500g) in Creamy Butter Chilli and Curry Leaves flavour (RM30). We could imagine how tasty the gravy would be after being kept in the fridge overnight. Ooh, just imagine dipping bread into it... yums!

Another show-stealer was the claypot of Spicy Prawns (RM28), a serving of deep-fried tiger prawns served with their homemade sauce. The sauce was the secret to it being delicious - a little bit of sweet, sour, spicy and salty that made it really addictive. 

Alicia's favourite was the Crab (500g) in Salted Egg Yolk flavour (RM75). Served piping hot, it lip-smacking good but she wondered why it did not have much meat. Again, comparing to Chinese restaurants where crabs have plenty of meat. I am not a crab person so I left this to her judgement.

One that is not for people who cannot take spiciness is the Mussels (500g) in Spicy Chilli (RM35) flavour. I enjoyed this but after a few shells, the spiciness really kicked in. Li Xin and Alicia didn't think it was too spicy, though, so I guess it was just me.

And how could we end a meal without dessert? Dessert is always the first thing I look at when I browse a menu. We all went, "Ooh..." when the waiter placed the plate of Choco Molten Lava Cake (RM21) on the table. Crossing our fingers for the chocolate to flow out like volcano lava, we were not disappointed. It was good on its own, we thought the caramel syrup on the side was not necessary.

We were so well-fed that we could barely move at the end of the meal! We had to pack some of the dishes to bring home, too. Look at the flatlay of what we had, and this was not even everything! A little scary for just three girls, eh? ;)

As we were walking out, one of their waitstaff informed me that if readers mention my blog, they would give a 10% discount. So do pay them a visit and when better than during the upcoming CNY break?

A big shoutout to the management and staff of 4Play for the plentiful meal and all the best!

4Play Seafood & Co.
A1-G2-07, Jalan Dutamas 1, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: +603 6211 9908

Sunday, May 28, 2017

M Boutique Hotel

The picturesque drive from Penang Island to one of the cleanest cities in Malaysia helped keep all of us in the car awake. Well, not just the scenery but also the crazy nonsensical jokes we kept making throughout the journey. We were so tired from laughing but as we drove up to the eye-catching structure that the GPS was directing us to, we perked up.

In huge letters standing atop its roof, M Boutique Hotel is hard to miss. I also liked the facade of red bricks because I thought it added character to the place without being too bold. It looked charming even at dusk, when we arrived, all tired and hungry.

All we could think of was to check-in and to find some grub. Thankfully, the check-in process was a rather breezy one handled by a friendly young lady. I appreciated how their staff comprises mainly youth, giving the people of this "try this first, if I like it I stay, if not I move on" age group a chance, instead of the more commonly held practice of hiring "more matured and experienced" workers. Whether it is a better practice, well, that is not for me to judge.

I liked the access cards to the rooms. It has their motto of "Come as Strangers, Leave as Friends", a concept I am rather familiar with now, after this many years abroad.

When we headed to the above levels to throw leave our luggage in our rooms before heading out for dinner, I was looking forward to seeing what our rooms would look like because I felt that to convert what originally were five shophouses into a boutique hotel of 93 rooms was no easy feat. 

*knock knock on door as sign of respect to possible "others" in the room, swipe access card and step into the room*

First thought: Not bad woh... and can I say that I liked the bathroom most? I liked the black and white colour theme and the simple yet sleek layout that maximised the compact size of the room.

The room itself attempted a rustic theme. I did not dislike it but I did not like it heaps, either. 

I mean, it was okay la... and although I did not understand why we needed a bed with posts, I thought it would come in handy when we needed more space to hang bigger items (e.g. towels). 

Erm, but, we... were too short... LOL!

*a couple of hours later*

I could not wait till the next morning to take photos of the lobby area. I started by taking shots from the outside, of the bright neon lights from their own custom boutique, M Shop...

... and the warmer hues of the reception area, which also was decorated with many potted plants...

From what I gather, almost everything we could see in the hotel were made and sourced locally. In other words, it is like a showcase of local craft people and resources.

I particularly the huge chest of drawers that held our keys/access cards and perhaps other documents. Do they not remind you of those drawers that you see in traditional Chinese medicine shops? 

I wonder if they really were once used to store Chinese herbs and what not, or did they commission a carpenter to build one that looked exactly like it? And those jars... yes, normally they would contain a dainty but expensive piece of root that we know as ginseng in a body of normally yellow in colour liquid. But these, we were allowed to open to grab as many Hacks lollies to our hearts' content.

2 Hala Datuk 5, 31650 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 5 255 5566, Fax: +60 5 255 1666