Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Casa Latina @ Persiaran Ampang

Arepas & empanadas, chupe & ceviche, moqueca & milanesa: Casa Latina, a new Venezuelan-run restaurant, champions the lively flavours of Caracas, Brasilia & Bogota in a calm corner of KL; it's the second South American eatery to open in our city this year, three months after El Maiz, in a welcome awakening of a richly nuanced collection of cuisines in Malaysia.

For the complete Casa Latina experience, it's currently best to come on weekends, when chef-founder Tamara & her team roll out an extensive menu that hopscotches from Brazilian-style fish cooked with coconut cream & annatto red oil to Peruvian prawn-&-potato soup.

From Mondays through Fridays, the selection is comparatively compact, though there's still more than enough for a table to share. We'll never say no to arepas - Casa Latina serves no fewer than five varieties of these griddled corn flour patties, plumply stuffed with, say, chicken, avocados, mayo & green pea sprouts, for a sink-your-teeth-into-this substitute for regular ol' sandwiches (RM12). Empanadas come in a choice of wheat flour, green plantain dough, corn meal dough or tapioca dough; each piece of pastry is packed with possibilities like beef, peas & olives, conveying a heady punch of savouriness, harmonised with kitchen-made salsas & sauces (RM6 each).

The cooking channels honest, home-made sensibilities, not intimidatingly unfamiliar for Malaysian taste buds. Arroz chaufa is fried rice that illuminates the influence of Chinese immigrants on Peruvian cuisine; it's a safe, inoffensive recipe (RM20). For something that blends Venezuelan and Malaysian inspirations, check out Casa Latina's take on asado negro, featuring beef caramelised with chocolate sauce & gula Melaka, striking up deep, dark dimensions of flavour (RM28).

There's a second component to Casa Latina, which also calls itself a 'cacao lab.' The venue takes pride in its own hot chocolate & mousse, both smooth & sultry, robust & pure, as well as pralines made in collaboration with Malaysian brand Chocolate Concierge, relying mainly on cacao from Malaysia, South America & Africa, with fillings that span South American guavas, dates & cheese, coconut, passion fruit & more; if you have chocolate-loving friends, take them here. And if you linger long enough, Casa Latina's amiable New Zealand-born manager Nic might bring you a sharply balanced shot of ginger-infused espresso that could be the most memorable coffee you'll try this month. There's a nice confluence of cultures here that makes Casa Latina a restaurant to bookmark.

Casa Latina
20, Persiaran Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Open Sun-Thurs, 9am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 9am-1030pm. Tel: 03-4265-2332

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DP Ice Cream Gula Apong @ Kampung Baru

Kuching's gula apong ice cream is now available in the heart of KL - made with nipah palm sugar, these soft serves are mellow & mild, reasonably smooth & natural-tasting, more than faintly evocative of gula melaka. A basic cone costs only RM2, but it's worth splurging on a RM6 large serving that's generously showered with gula apong syrup, crushed Oreos & nuts. This is DP Ice Cream Gula Apong's first peninsular outpost following seven branches in Sarawak, & we wouldn't mind seeing more.

DP Ice Cream Gula Apong
57B-4, Jalan Daud, Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Opposite parking lot of Hospital Pakar Al Islam. Open 12pm-11pm, except Mondays.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Shinobi no Sato @ Japan

This peaceful park near Mount Fuji makes for a pleasant place to stroll & savour a bit of hot & cold - yaki dango skewered rice flour dumplings soaked in soy sauce & chestnut-flavoured soft serve ice cream.


Haka Moi @ Cheras

This new Hakka kopitiam specialises in salt-baked chicken, with the free-range meat exhibiting the smooth, tender & delicately flavoured hallmarks of this widely beloved recipe (RM3.50 per 100 grams). Come for the chicken, stay for the Hakka mee, which conveys all the essential mince & crunch (RM4.50), the yong tau foo (RM1.80 per piece, with options like brinjal, bitter gourd & chilli) & house-made pork balls with salted fish & dried cuttlefish, quite textured & tasty (RM4 for three pieces in broth).

For fans of curry mee, RM10 gets you a fully loaded portion served in two bowls, packed with fried pork belly, prawns, cockles, clams, pork skin, intestines, long beans, bean curd & mint, certain to banish hunger pangs. If you need even more cockles in your life (really, we all do), the stir-fried cockles with salted veggies (RM15) prove as competently executed as everything here.

Haka Moi
4, Jalan Kaskas, Taman Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 8am-10pm. Tel: 016-331-1079

Stay up to date: The Eat Drink KL newsletter is sent by email to subscribers every Monday; it's the Klang Valley's foremost weekly round-up of new restaurant openings, F&B promotions & other tasty tidbits. Subscribe to Eat Drink KL Weekly for free via this following link: https://confirmsubscription.com/h/d/5106C196432BB23D