Tourism Malaysia

Riverside rustic Italian

Truth or myth: Don’t flip the Simply Roasted 7-star Seabass over when one side has been eaten; just remove the bone.Truth or myth: Don’t flip the Simply Roasted 7-star Seabass over when one side has been eaten; just remove the bone.

Satisfying, New York-style dining – in Shanghai.

NO wonder the expats here look so self-satisfied.� The Lord Restrain leaned back in his low chair in the “farm chic� loft at Mercato, located on Shanghai’s Bund.

“I would be, too, if I could come here to eat every day,� he declared, while scanning the large, open dining space. Here, reclaimed wood and warm leather tones complement exposed steel, iron and glass, and wonderful cuisine.

On a chilly Saturday evening in January, it was certainly an inviting venue and was filling up fast by 7pm.

Hardly surprising, then, that without reservations we couldn’t get a Mercato table at celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s recently opened restaurant. The famed three-Michelin-star chef already had a presence in the building with his fine dining namesake restaurant, Jean-Georges. So we took the window table offered near the bar, and with a not-too-restricted view of the world-famous waterway.

“The most excellent starters in decades,â€? proclaimed the Lord, not leaving a single crumb on his plate. I had to agree. The Housemade Ricotta with Cranberry Compote, Olive Oil and Grilled Bread (78 renminbi/RM38.20) was not what we expected; it looked simple and, well … rustic. But the light and creamy ring of delicately flavoured ricotta topped with the delectable cranberry cooked slowly with sugar brought a luscious combination of tastes and textures with each consecutive mouthful.

The Wood-oven Roasted Asparagus Fontina and Prosciutto (88 renminbi/RM43) that followed the cranberry carnival was no less impressive. The lightly grilled greens wrapped in soft slices of prosciutto were crunchy, yet moist. Slathered in olive oil, all it needed for a sharp tang was the juice of a lemon, and a wedge was already waiting.

The Lord is a big fan of Italian food and so, with a wood-fire oven adding warmth to an already agreeable dining room, we could not help but pick the Spicy Pork Sausage, Kale and Pecorino Pizza (118 renminbi/RM57.70). And our rustic pizza did not disappoint.

This house speciality was generously topped with sausage slices and kale, while the thin-crust pizza was surprisingly chewy and charmingly charred in spots. The blend of parmesan, mozzarella and pecorina cheeses artfully married their flavours, resulting in a comfortingly creative taste.

Aided by glasses of Italian white, generous and chilled just right, the evening was just beginning. The moneyed mélange of Shanghai, both local and expatriate, were in evidence as they came for an evening of bonhomie with partners, friends and families. Noted the Lord Restrain, “Elitist, ostentatious fine-dining restaurants should be replaced by places like this.â€? “Like what?â€? I asked. He pondered and proclaimed: “Casual … chic … really good food.â€?

By this time, the Simply Roasted 7-star Seabass (38 renminbi/RM18.60 per 100g) had arrived. Before I could even set my wine glass down, the top half of the roasted fish was gone.

“Should I turn over the fish?� I asked, with more than a hint of sarcasm.

“No!â€? He confided in me: “I was told by many Chinese friends over dinner that I should take the bone out, and not turn the fish over, especially if we are near a port. So that the fishermen’s boats will not turn over.â€? He paused and looked at me: “A myth, maybe?â€? Err …

The Spicy Pork Sausage, Kale and Pecorino Pizza is the house speciality atMercato.The Spicy Pork Sausage, Kale and Pecorino Pizza is the house speciality at

Roasted with sage, rosemary, tomato and lemon, the bass stewing in its hot sauce was uncomplicated and light. The clear sauce, with tangy hints of lemon, offered a bracing piquancy to complement the fresh fish.

Chef Vongerichten’s signature flair for balancing flavours and textures was at work here. The flesh, very lightly battered in a crispy shell, slipped easily off the bone and soon the fish had slipped easily off the plate, too. “The tomatoes are a little burnt …â€? the Lord announced as he popped another wedge into his mouth,â€?… but very juicy.â€?

Since the menu consists of Coastal Italian Cuisine, we decided to end our meal with a trusty Tiramisu (58 renminbi/RM28.40). This proved a wise choice, as the serving was more than enough for two, even two with such a pronounced sweet tooth. After such a great introduction to taste and texture, unfortunately, the tiramisu didn’t live up to our expectations. Not only was it stark and understated, the base was slightly dry and it was difficult to finish.

Nevertheless, the disappointing dessert did not detract us from our thoroughly enjoyable evening. Great restaurant ambience, stunning views of night-time soaring skyscrapers overlooking and reflected in the shimmering river. Moreover, I was rather pleased as I had only taken one bite of the dessert and left the rest to the Lord, who was eating it with much restraint.

“This is very relaxing,� said the Lord, slumping back in his chair, his mustard sweater contrasting pleasantly with the chair’s lime green upholstery. “You won’t feel that way when the bill arrives,� I replied. With two glasses of wine, fish weighed by the gram and two excellent coffees, the evening set us back almost RM500.

But Lord Restrain now looked pretty self-satisfied to me. As if to confirm, he leaned back in his low chair in Mercato’s loft, and muttered: “Ve-e-ery satisfying.�

Tourism Malaysia

London Town @ Publika – Dining With Moola

October 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm

History buffs would know that one of the oldest surviving cities in the world is London, with an uninterrupted history stretching two thousand years. Others would recognise London as the capital of the United Kingdom, and the centrepiece of the great British Empire. To me, London represents all that, but more importantly, London means fish and chips and the English breakfast.

It might not be in London, but London Town serves up authentic London grub

But like Mohammad and the mountain, I do not have to go to London to enjoy great London fare. I just need to drop by London Town at Publika. London Town is a chic and modern casual dining spot, and at the time of my visit, still in what I call, ‘the experimental stage’. It has a laid back atmosphere, and embodies the ‘New Britain’ feel, the upscale, chic and trendy vibe synonymous with 21st century British lifestyle. My visit to London Town was Moola, the first ever homegrown Cash-Back Lifestyle programme by ICT Utopia, and I was joined with Miss Kelly Chin of Miss Sunshine that afternoon. Want to know whether she liked London Town? Check out her article at her blog right here!

Miss Kelly Chin was kind enough to accompany us to London Town

The man behind London Town, Nima Naserbakht, a Londoner of Iranian descent

Owner Nima Naserbakht, a Londoner of Iranian descent, is proud of his British roots and of British grub. Like the latest generation of Londoners, he believes in practicality where food is concerned – good quality at affordable prices, great tastes that are authentically London, with a slight local twist when needed. The great British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver would agree with Nima, I think, and approve of London Town as well. The restaurant is unpretentious, even understated. In its own way, it represents an ‘experiment in dining’, constantly evolving as it grows. What remains constant of course, is the great dishes that London Town serves up daily.

The simple chic and modern atmosphere of London Town

Old is Gold. Classic English Breakfast.

First up would be the All Day English Breakfast. Yes, you don’t need to wake up before the sun is high in the sky for this lovely fare. Simple classic English fare, it has toast, sausages, eggs sunny side up, beef bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans. Yes, it’s good.

The Aglio Olio – a pasta with a spicy kick

London Town also serves the standard ‘European’ dishes that most Malaysians have come to expect from a ‘Western’ themed outlet. While the dishes might be standard, the taste and quality is way above par. We had a very ‘standard’ simple pasta dish, Aglio Olio, which came with mushrooms and a slight dusting of chilli flakes. The result is a great refreshing dish that leaves a slight spicy lingering taste.

The London Town Fish and Chips – a true London experience

Next up is London Town’s Fish and Chips, a dish born and made famous on the wharves of London. The dish is served with customary tartar sauce and mushy green peas, which taste really good. The fish and chips? Simply superb authentic London fare.

London Town Special Fried Steak Role, a crispy and tender tasty dish

Fish and chips isn’t the only thing that London Town is good at, and we sampled two mains that proved that beyond a doubt. The first was the London Town Special Fried Steak Role, twin steak rolls served with asparagus and the Chicken Chop, a lovely well prepared piece of chicken served with great tasting brown sauce. Both dishes were served on a bed of mash potatoes.

Chicken Chop – a simple name for a superb dish

What modern restaurant would go without having a burger in the menu? London Town’s burgers don’t disappoint, and we were lucky enough to sample the Waterloo Beef Burger. Everyone agreed that it was really good, especially the beef patty. Juicy and tasty, it makes other burgers pale in comparison.

Waterloo Beef Burger. Great beef patty

When it comes to drinks and desserts, London Town’s no slouch. We tried several milkshakes, but my favourite still remains the Oreo Royal Milkshake, a sinfully sweet chocolate delight made with oreos of course!

Oreo Royal Milkshake and the Latte

So the next time you’re craving for something British or English, remember, you don’t have to go to London, just drop by London Town at Publika!

Great ambience, great price – London Town

This Dining With Moola experience is courtesy of Moola, the first-ever Cash-Back Lifestyle Programme specially designed for shoppers to enjoy free shopping, great savings and best deals in town. Moola leverages on cutting-edge technology of mobile application that utilises QR code technology for all interactions; from member registration, Moola accumulation and redemption, to the actual shopping.

It is completely hassle-free; no administrative effort; no joining fee; no cards; and comes with even greater flexibility for shoppers to enjoy the variety of rewards for redemption. Visit for more information!

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