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In the quiet streets with old bungalows off Imbi is the newly opened Levain Boulangerie Patisserie, a warm and lovely boulangerie (French-style bakery) café where you can easily spend hours sipping on a cup of coffee.

Levain is exceptionally different to other bakeries, Levain bakes all day in a traditional stone oven which impart a unique flavor and texture to their breads and pastries.

It was a Sunday morning, as I walked in, I was immediately enticed by the delicious smells of fresh bread wafting in the air. Most of the tables were occupied and I was surprised to see many local Chinese here instead of expats, considering that Levain only offers breads, pastries, cakes and some pasta.

Levain strives to create a relaxing elegant atmosphere of a neo-colonial French house. Housed in a renovated million dollar cozy bungalow with high ceilings and classy decor, it's a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city life.

With an outdoor side patio that matches the historic charm of the bungalow.

I was put into a daze by the sights of the tempting varieties of buns and pastries. Unfortunately, I was stopped by a strict-looking cashier girl from taking pictures of the pastries. No reasons were given and I've no idea why!? But they can't stop me from taking the pictures of the pastries that I've paid for right? :P

Sadly, you can't see the stone oven in action, but I'm sure it's probably "hiding" somewhere behind all these modern electrical ovens.

Turkey ham and eggs (RM 3.20), soft bun topped with turkey ham, scrambled eggs and melted cheese - it's definitely my favorite amongst all! The best thing I like about Levain is that you can always request them to re-heat back the pastries into the oven.

Kinoko mushroom crispy pizza (RM 4.80), thin crust pizza with sliced tomatoes, kinoko mushroom and mozzarella cheese. I personally love most of their crispy thin crust pizza, bought some home and re-heat it back into the oven before serving - it makes a huge difference!

Olive chicken ham crispy pizza (RM 4.80), thin crust pizza with chicken ham, sliced tomato, non-pitted olives and mozzarella cheese. It'll be better with the pitted olives instead.

Mushroom and turkey crispy pizza (RM 4.80), thin crust pizza with turkey ham, sliced tomato, mushroom and mozzarella cheese.

Seafood pasta (RM 9.90), served with angel hair pasta in thick creamy seafood sauce, prawns, tiny squids and scallops slices, and accompanied with fresh greens and slices of crunchy bread. It tasted great but the portion was small, the sauce was too thick and I wasn't a fan of angel hair - I personally prefer the normal thicker spaghetti in such creamy sauce.

Potato bolognaise crust pie (RM 3.90), a rich pie with potato crust and tomato bolognaise meat sauce in it.

Chocolate coronet (RM 3), with cone-shaped soft bread filled with a soft chocolate custard.

Beef curry donut (RM 3.80), one of the best must-try pastry in Levain!

Real thick curry sauce oozing out from the soft donut. The beef was very tender and the curry sauce was really good!

Dry curry pasta (RM 9.90), it wasn't too bad at all, the curry sauce was just nice for the pasta and not overly spicy type.

Finish off with a swirling little heart, nothing is quite as relaxing as a rich, steaming cup of frothy creamy cappuccino (RM 6.90).

Verdict: Even though Levain is located on a multi-million dollars plot of bungalow land with posh classy looking decor and French atmosphere, don't fret, their price is relatively reasonable. It'll definitely be one of the boulangerie that I'll visit often with so many more pastry varieties and gorgeous-looking cakes to try still!

No. 7, Jalan Delima,
Off Jalan Imbi,
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2142 6611
Business Hours: Opens daily from 8:00am - 8:00pm
Pork Free: Yes
GPS: 3.146097, 101.720443

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Thai Fried Rice @ Section 17, PJ

On 7/24/2010 01:17:00 PM 8 comments
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I've been living in Section 17, PJ for many years and I essentially grew up eating Thai fried rice from this particular aunty from Thailand for more than 15 years!

She was previously stationed at Restoran Say Huat and only recent years, she has opened up another stall in Restoran Jackson (right opposite of Say Huat). The stall in Say Huat is taken care by her husband, both serving the same Thai fried rice. However, I'd still personally prefer her fried rice more.

Since moving to Restoran Jackson, she has extended the menu to offer more varieties. Even so, I'll just stick to my usual Thai fried rice, it'll never go wrong...

The recommended Thai fried rice (RM 5 for small, RM 6 for big), served with marinated chicken gravy, fresh onions, sliced omelette (substituted with fried egg on this day, probably ran out of sliced omelette) and topped with chopped scallions. The portions were generous and humongous for this price! This big portion Thai fried rice for RM 6 was really BIG enough for two.

Requested for another plate and mixed them all up, see how BIG it was, totally worth it! The secret to the fried rice is to mix the marinated chicken gravy, the chili sauce, the fresh onions and the fried rice together. The slight sweetness of the marinated chicken gravy, the spiciness of the chili sauce and the pleasing wok hei fragrance on the rice - it's simply irresistible!

Pineapple fried rice (RM 5), the classic signature dish of Thailand but without the pineapple basket gimmick that will likely to cost you more! The fresh pineapple added such an unexpected sweetness to the dish that really balanced up with the curry powder. While the curry powder brought out the color of the fried rice and gave a special fragrance to this flavorful dish.

Spicy petai fried rice (RM 6), with fresh big petai (stink bean), shrimps, onions and chili. It did not disappoint but it wasn't that superb either, I'm just biased and hooked with the Thai fried rice only!

Verdict: I've never gotten bored of it and I have it almost every week without fail. It's value for money, tasty and it's like my staple food for the past 15 years!

May 16, 2011: Aunty no longer serves her signature Thai fried rice and switched it with other varieties. It was due to the drop of sales at her husband's stall right across and she decided to give up the exclusivity to him. I was extremely sad to hear that but this could be a bad move too.

Aug 2011: Yay! Aunty's Thai fried rice is back!

Changmai Food, Restoran Jackson
Jalan 17/27,
Petaling Jaya
Business Hours: Opens daily from 11am - 3pm and 5pm - 9pm
Pork Free: No
GPS: 3.128839, 101.634392

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Meatworks is a unique concept restaurant blending a full-blown Restaurant, Butchery, Deli and MeatStudio under a single roof. MeatWorks opened its door in May this year and located in Solaris Mont Kiara, just directly across of Cold Storage.

Run by a very young team headed by executive director Izzana Salleh, 23, who is also an executive director of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) - an element of the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the NFC was part of the solution to address the food crisis, especially the shortage of beef in the country. With their farm located in Gemas, Negeri Sembilan, it is a farm to fork business.

The interior of the restaurant was very inviting, it was all cozy, classic looking with orange rustic brick wall filled with vintage artworks framed and hung along the wall.

Stacked on a double storey shop, MeatWorks has a seating capacity of up to 200.

Meatworks is a totally 100% halal joint, not even a single drip of alcohol in their menu. You must be wondering, serving quality steaks but without red wine?! No worries though, Cold Storage is just across the street, you can bring in your own alcohol with a RM 10/bottle corkage charge.

On the first floor, you'll have the Meat Studio and the open terrace Deli - perfect place for cozy private functions and cooking classes with MeatWorks professional chefs.

It's all about freshness. Walk into this beeftopia and be spoilt for the choices of fresh and aged meat at their Butchery section, all made and bred locally within Malaysia.

Going through the full halal MeatWorks menu.

As you can see from their menu, no alcohol drinks served, instead of Bloody Mary, you'll have the Virgin Mary. Their drinks are pretty expensive and we didn't know they do serve complimentary drinking water. We ended up with the peach syrup (RM 10.50), basically made of peach syrup and soda water, and Virgin Pina Colada (RM 15), it tasted weird without Malibu.

Fondant potatoes (RM 12), sautéed unpeeled potato wedges with corned beef silverside.

I just can't imagine visiting MeatWorks and not having beef steak at all. Ain't happening to me for sure! The waitress recommended us the beef fillet 220g (RM 59), apparently it's the most tender cut of the beef. I was disappointed for not getting the creamed potato mash as shown in their menu, gotten sick of the same potato wedges again.

Perfect beef fillet cooked to medium doneness, it was indeed very tender, pinkish and juicy! Lightly seasoned with brown sauce served on the side, a good steak like this doesn't need to be drowned in sauce. However, some might think it's bland without the sauce, but a good steak is actually best taken without any sauce, so you can actually savor the taste of the meat.

4 racks of milk-fed lamb (RM 55), a young lamb typically 4 to 6 weeks old, fed only on their mother's milk before ended up on this plate. The flavor and texture of milk-fed lamb is generally much finer and tender than the older lamb. You don't really get much lamb flavor from this young lamb, whereas when the sheep ages the meat becomes tougher and stronger in flavor. Most people don't like the strong, gamy flavor, but I do!

It caught me off guard when the waitress asked for the lamb's doneness, do people actually eat medium-rare lamb? Anyway, I requested it to be medium-well, but somehow, it ended up looking pretty rare to me. It was barely tasteful, felt like there wasn't any seasonings or marination at all, either that or it was meant to be cooked this way?

For something a little less meaty, you'll have few choices of sandwiches to pick from. One of it, Philly cheese steak sandwich (RM 24), with thin slices of sirloin steak topped with melted cheese, caramelized onions and wrapped in a soft sandwich bun.

MeatWorks club sandwich (RM 25), with layers of smoked chicken and seared corned silverside topped with age cheddar, Philadelphia creamed cheese, jalapeños, a fried egg and tomato slices.

Verdict: Expensive! Don't bother at all, if you're not a meat/beef lovers or if you're into strong tasting food. Most of the meats we had were cooked with very very light seasoning and marination (or maybe non at all!). Probably so that you can actually savor the taste of the meat (I guessed!). However, I do like their concept of selling fresh halal cut meats, all made and bred locally within Malaysia, I'm sure this will be a popular place for the wealthy Muslim. So, support lah the Malaysian cows!

2G 3A, Jalan Solaris 5, Block H,
Solaris Mont Kiara,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-6203 0871
Business Hours: Opens daily from 12:00pm - 12:00am
Pork Free: Yes
GPS: 3.175910, 101.659734

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