Sunday, May 25, 2008

Oriental Spoon @ Sooka Sentral, KL Sentral

We all know KL Sentral as the transport hub of KL with the twin proud towers of KL Hilton and Le Meridien. In our minds, there are always throngs of people looking like ants from top floor, walking in and out, around and about catching the LRT or KTM and the "incredibly profitable KLIA Express".

Naturally, the worse fear came true when the office moved into the area. In the mornings and afternoons, the place is packed with people with different motives.

At night and during the weekend? It looks like a dead cowboy town. Simply put, KL Sentral is your XXL ordinary office block where people work and then head back home.

That sheer fact has deterred many decent f&b eateries from opening in this area, obviously leading to the detriment of my sanity.

Living on either fast food in the day and when late nights command, ordering more fast food, has either got people packing up lunch or running crazy around the office lobby screaming for food.

That was when these people decide to build Sooka Sentral (a stone throw away from KL Sentral and Plaza Sentral), a food heaven for the office people and roped in the Bangsar Seafood people who came up with the concept of Oriental Spoon.

Delicious braised peanuts for starters

What we had always lacked when we moved in was a decent place for a corporate or group lunch. Back in Sime Darby, Maju Palace was a stone throw away serving halal Chinese food to cater for our multi racial group lunches and our slightly stingy bosses who wanted grand and lavish meals without burning their pants.

I can safely say Oriental Spoon have saved our day with its corny but true tag line "Wholesomely oriental" .

Having tried the place several times during lunch, i received the al-mighty empress's baker invitation to take a look there during Dinner. I mean why not? I had not experience a decent nourishing dinner in this area before. I mean was it even open for dinner?

Housed in a building with a name funnier then Mr Bean, Sooka Sentral.

Apparently not a soul in sight when i arrived at 7pm, do people in Sentral have no need for dinner? After a brief introduction, the Boss of Oriental Spoon asked the same question too!

As a last resort, attempting to be like a fairy tale movie, one can take your date out here for dining by calling before 7pm to make a booking (so they wont close by 8pm) and have a 50-60% chance to have the whole restaurant by yourselves! Now isn't that sweet?

Now two things wondered up my little accessible head, was the empty crowd caused by crap food or bad access?

Lets deal with matter no. 1, food.

The key to the MENU

Familiar to their dim sum, we were laid out "freshly made dim sum made at a ungodly hour between 5pm - 7pm". I guess the saying "fresh dim sum is only available in the mornings" is nothing but a myth.

Laid out pipping hot with steam rising and fogging our lenses on the way up, everyone agreed and some can swear that this was GOOD for being tasty and creative. With the no-pork barrier, succulent lamb ribs were used with a base of white raddish to soak up all the sauces.

If theres one dim sum you are safe to try in a halal dim sum eatery, it is the prawn dumpling (har kau). Generous juicy prawns encased in what i learnt was arrowhead flour. Amazing how some people go to the extent to know what a har kau is made up of?

The prawn cheong fun was swiftly demolished in a matter of minutes after i savoured my first or was it second bite? As opposed to the quantity vs quality theory, thin cheong fun is what you want instead of chomping through clumps of flour and that was what i got.

What can i say about yam dumplings except that the Guangzhou chef was on a roll tonight and dished out near-perfect dim sum all the way. Not feeling overly oily when you bite through and once the bite is through, the fragant filling welcomes you like a warm kiss.

The carrot cakes greeted us with a whiff of something dreadfully familiar but one could not pinpoint till it reaches the mouth. With the addition of bonito flakes, this suddenly turned into a staple chinese dim sum dish to a fusion i-dunno-what-i-am dish in a good way. The bonito flakes gave it the dish a new dimension indeed.

The Lotus Root Puff. Raved around the crowd, the rich buttery pastry felt a bit on the "jelak" and "oily" side for me. Shaped like a lotus root, with pieces of lotus root and chicken meat inside, i am almost certain that my life would be endangered for calling this too "rich".

Another item on the menu is the braised beef brisket. The wholesome sauce "no pun intended" had some chilli oil for the extra kick but what remained to be seen and tasted was after it was thrown into the pressure cooker overnight. Alas, i did not get the chance to visit the day after for this small pot of RM5.

If the Dim Sum si fu felt that he didnt do his best, he had to step a gear up and show off his culinary skills to make these.

These cute little buddies filled with black sesame paste.

Looks like he really enjoyed it, big TIME!

We ended the dim sum session with some custard buns and glutinous rice balls which were again very delicious.

After a satisfactory round 1, came round 2.

Oriental Spoon has been toying with the idea of fine dining Chinese cuisine where it is no longer the traditional big plate in the middle of the table, but serving individual portions like a western meal. The trio of meat and the duo of prawns were served to showcase the modern techniques in plating and flavours.

Their take on the Combination Platter that one would get in a set dinner: The Venison basket, the Sotong Ball and the Bamboo fungus roll. This tasted as good as it looked although the Sotong seemed abit out of place with its forgettable texture.

Their duo of Prawns started off with the Lychee Prawn was sweet and sour, crunchy and full of bite.

Ending with a salad prawn, de-shelled in the middle, with a salad of fruits. Ohh, if there was one thing i would complain is the FIXED AMOUNT that one can have. Well, i take it as a good way to control my food intake.

By now, we were stuffed and puffed and because some of our dear guests unexpectedly falling sick and dropping like bowling pins, we continue to savour some more culinary delights.

The scary Deep Fried Garoupa with flavoured meat sauce. Fried till the bones turned crunchy with no evidence of dripping oil, the sauce turned the dish suddenly got me craving for white rice. Very appetising indeed despite the button on the pants waiting to pop any second.

Just when the blood pressure was rocketing sky high and on the journey to a popped artery, this dish showed up. At Rm55/kg, this salted egg yolk Crab was as sinful as meeting the Devil, himself. After rounds of estimations, we thought this dish would easily take at least a dozen of salted egg yolks to churn out this result. Rich and evenly coated all around, the meat was firm and pity i had to stop at one claw.

When we finally saw greens, we all smiled in glee, something to balance the qi. The crunchy lotus roots, black fungus and sweet peas were great to enjoy eventhough by now i could barely stand up without toppling over.

By now, issue 1 was definitely out of the question. The food was definitely above average and something that you really cant get in the area except if you are willing to pay an arm and a leg in Hilton.

Issue 2, bad access? There is plentiful of parking within the complex at RM4 an entry, cheaper then the hotels.

So what is the underlying problem causing empty crowds every day after the sun is down?

Well after consuming alll that amount of food, i am clueless as ever, but if you are keen to find out, why dont you give them a call and drop by there for dinner one night and let me know why? You can also call me too, for i am only a 3 minute walk away.

Prices for dim sum range from RM 5- 12 and people working around Sentral gets free delivery with orders above RM 20. Ala carte dishes ranges from RM10- RM48 and they are currently doing set meals from 2 pax right up to 10 pax.

Address and contact details:

1st floor, Sooka Sentral, Jalan Stesen Sentral 5, 50470, KL
Opening hours: (Mon – Sunday) 11.30 am – 8.00 pm
(Dim sum is served until 5 pm)

Tel: 03-2261 3222

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. If theres one idea that has popped up, it is dinner here on a Friday night to escape the horrific traffic jam in the area or dim sum during the weekends when the lunch crowd is small. The food is generally above average and the ambience is spot on for corporate lunch and dinners


New Kid on the Blog said...

huh?? open up to 8pm only?? that's why what you call it a dead cowboy town?!

Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy said...

Cool write up bro! ;-) And I look REALLY scary. Shit! ;-) hahahaha

ms. lili@ said...

i thought the dim sums there are not nice at all.. i mean, compared to the very few places i've been brought to la by them colleagues.

i like their ala-carte menu though.. the kuewtiow & mee -- not bad at all albeit pricey.

anyway, yeah i was actually quite surprised that Sooka Sentral closed quite early at night. been to Sushi King at about 8.30pm once, they were about to close shop already. what a bummer eyh? guess the night owls have not much of a choice when it comes to food. *siGh*

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

new kid: well so do u hav the guts to venture to the dead cowboy town to eat? haha

nigel: hahaha..all in the acting..all in the acting..

lilia: well..nxt time u knw wat to do..u arm urself with ME to dim sum there..n i hope to not disappoint with the choice selection..this place is meant to help out the night owls..but someone has to start rite?

Simon Seow said...

This reminds me of a dim sum i had in Singapore that I haven't start to write yet. Argh.. so many back logs.

mh said...

1) Nigel, your friend there do look kinda scary. I wouldn't dare touch wateva food that he's eyeing.... :P. Looks very territorial...but I don't blame him!! Its food we are talking about rite??

2) I'm still skeptical...its good ar the dim sum? I think Maju Palace (from our old office) was pretty alright for non-halal dim sum. Is this something like maju palace or better??? But the porcupine ...damn cute!! blog gave me indigestion (yeah..shudn't read ur blog when I'm damn full , after a huge meal.....)

Henry Yeo said...

dim sum in the evening...ever heard of personalized service?

Kok said...

I made the wrong move. I shouldn't visit your blog when I'm hungry... *sigh* Now, I don't have anything to fill my stomach... Arhhh...torturing!

leo said...

hahah good one again! the dim sum looks ravishing..

BTW, har gau skin is made with wheat starch (wheat flour with the gluten removed or "tang meen fun")..

It's 7.31am and you made me hungry for dim sum.. dammit!

team bsg said...

Probably it hasn't done its homework on
1 promoting itself ( awareness ), maybe the place is just associated as a Business Centre with nothing to eat one ? so people never thought of coming here
2 Giving an outwardly "expensive" perception to would be patrons by the locality and even weird sounding name ?
3 nearest competition already established ,conveniently and good enough to preempt ppl bothering to try something new?

solution ? EASY ! get more food bloggers to eat here ! yes...even team bsg !

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

henry yeo: well what can i say? anywayz for u guys..its unfortunately till 5..

kok: at 3am? of course u would be hungry!

leo: interestingly i seriously i have no idea..somehow some1 suggested arrowhead flour and i wont even debate haha..thanks for the tip!

teambsg: looks like i was way obvious! come lets jom

CUMI & CIKI said...

erm... as in spooning??!! lol.. great shots .. just the thing i need... good local food!

Nic (KHKL) said...

carrot cake + bonito flakes? interesting....

pic of that those custard buns? fantastic...

"i am only a 3 minute walk away" u said? creative...

Seaqueen said...

Wow. I like the Lotus Root puff. So cute...too cute to be eaten. Really admire you. You really can eat that much huh.. Did you managed to eat all these dishes??

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

c&c: my did spoon bcome spooning !!! well too much boozing in LA?

nic: u knw..i AM REALLY 3 minutes away..not instant noodles u knw..

seaqueen: well i had a bite of everything i suppose..kekekeke...

Kenny Mah said...

Good gosh... that's a fearsome shot of Nigel! Where are the ones where he is all soft, cute and cuddly-wuddly? Lol.

mimid3vils said...

look at the salted eggs sauce, 1 claw is enuff for u?

Henry Yeo said...

you sure you want to play our boardgames? glad to oblige. and when are you passing me your contact number?

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

kennymah: hahah soft n cuddly?? how can he be soft n cuddly when he was being protective of his porcupine bun? keke

mimi: i would love more..but at this was a point of no return..couldnt do it..haha

henry: arr..u dun hav my number? interesting..pass it to u on sure u hav my msn.. no?

Tummythoz said...

Nigel does look scary.
Err where to park-ar? Should I just stick to the lrt?
Another thing, any idea why the name 'Sooka'?

wmw said...

hahah...first came the porcupine shot and then Nigel's face! What a shock, changing my mood from "!!!!!!!" LOL!

-kent- f0 粉肠 said...

porcupine stuff was so cute, and custard bun was always my favourite...


"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

tummythoz: car park rite under the restaurant for rm4 per entry..sooka = stylish way of suka? maybe?

wmw: well contrast shots haha..

kent: it is really cute isnt?

NekoHime said...

not bad for a halal place - did you try their fried radish cake? Yumz!! i can't complain lah since we plaza sentral people find places like this heaven sent!

Henry Yeo said...

no. just send it to my facebook inbox.

tigerfish said...

I like it when dim-sum is served all day since the morning hour window is so short! Too bad, not many restaurants do least in my knowledge.

QuaChee said...

enjoyed seeing yr photos... and the hamster like cake? :)

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

nekohime: you working around the area too?? should have called u..

henry: will do will do..

tigerfish: well its a morning routine so its hard to get it beyond the afternoon..

quachee: thanks!

ling239 said...

by looking at the name i tot they belong to the Oriental group...
but u mention Bangsar Seafood...

sc said...

the dim sum looks pretty..with all the garnishing some more :). forgotten that your office is so very near, i'll know who to call when i wanna try this next time ;p

Seaqueen said...

And still maintain your weight?? Gotta share some of your secret then. Hahhah!!!

Precious Pea said...

What's with Nigel???

Sigh.....i missed all those great looking food.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

pp: he was guarding his porcupine bun very closely..haha

seaqueen: hahah work hard in gym..very hard..

sc: waiting for ur call..u got my hp number?

ling239: i thought so too..but its confirmed that they r opened by Bangsar Seafood

wcheryl said...

Great post! I'll try out the food soon :D Poor KLIA Express.. it's like a ghost train, I wonder how they're going to survive since the new Putrajaya link is open! We can reach KLIA sooner by taking bus/ taxi compared to.. KLIA "Express"! Poor thing..:P

Zulkefli said...

in response to tummythoz, I was told by a friend worrking there, the name sooka originating from the work "suka" means "like". To make the name stylo, suka is spell as "SOOKA"....hmmm..quite a creative group of people managing and developing the center...... I wonder whats else will come out from them...