Thursday, August 29, 2013

Halal food : Chef Riz's Restaurant On The Table @ Publika

restoran anak chef wan
Dinner @ On The Table 

(Dear Readers: I think this restaurant is closed permanently, we went twice in the evening and it was closed and went again one more time during Deepavali holiday at around 6pm and it was still closed with lizard's droppings on its table near the entrance which means it has not opened for a long time though the signage and furnitures are still there. Sadness! We really miss this place, if anyone knows where we can get artisan bread as good or even better than On The Table, please leave a comment! Thanks!)

Somehow, somewhere.. I read about Chef Wan's son opening a restaurant called "On The Table" and during one of our drive back home from Publika, I saw a restaurant's sign with the exact name.. and I went.. "Eh?.. isn't that the restaurant that is supposedly owned by Chef Riz?" Do note that I said "supposedly" cos I can barely recall my sources... so I made a mental note to try it out should we sojourn to Publika again.

The chance came last week when the kids started asking to go to The Park at Publika, so I said we are going for dinner first before they get to play at the park. They surprisingly  agreed readily.

On The Table restaurant is at BLK A4, level UG1-08 which means we have to cross a few blocks and walk a bit down from where we parked (which is near the playground). A4 is waaaay at the end nearer to Kencana Petroleum side and with Publika's confusing stairs, level names and lack of signage, it was a wonder we managed to find On The Table without yours truly losing her temper and shooting her mouth off (which is quite often when I am lost and directions are unreliable). To make it simple, just head for "The Circle" take the escalator  down to UG1 and turn left, walk all the way in, you will see "Picknik" then at the end you will see "On The Table'.

We arrived at just before 8.00pm and the place was deserted (uh-oh) alarm bells started to ring but then we were really tired from walking and the kids were complaining that it's taking a looong time just to reach the restaurant, so we just went in instead of looking for another place to eat (actually, it's because we went two floors down instead of one, then had to pass a pub, climb up another flight of stairs before finding "On The Table". Had we passed from PickNik side, I would surely just say "Let's try PickNik instead".

We had high hopes for the restaurant even though it was empty.. cos hey.. it's helmed by a celebrity chef u know, you gotta have standards.. kind of like the halal option of Gordon Ramsay's or maybe Jamie Oliver.. but of course one can argue that the price doesn't justify our high expectations :) 

Since the price is not exorbitant, we lowered our expectation but were still kind of bummed out by the limited menu. After a few minutes contemplating, hubby went ahead with Salmon with white sauce and risotto while I asked for Lemon Zaatar Chicken (sounds sophisticated but its actually a blend of thyme, marjoram, oregano etc etc) but I asked for pilaf rice instead of mashed potatoes as side cos I was feeling quite hungry. For the kids we ordered, mushroom soup, carbonara and cheesy fries. 

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Mushroom Soup @ On The Table Restaurant

The mushroom soup came first and I go "Oh Yeah.. it's not cream of mushroom" I look at it sceptically a bit since the last time I tried something like this was at MeatWorks and totally didn't like MeatWorks' version. As for On The Table's mushroom soup, it was quite nice, not too much mushrooms and slightly runny but still nice. My son gave both the extra crispy garlic bread and the mushroom soup his seal of approval :)

Enjoying the crispy garlic bread dipped with mushroom soup at On The Table Restaurant

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Cheese Fries @ On the Table Restaurant

Next came the cheese fries, we were actually expecting just crispy fries with yummy cheese side dip, kind of like Tony Roma's style, we didn't know that it is actually more like a "coney dog" fries version (well.. the menu doesn't come with descriptions) This dish didn't go down well with us.. the fries were soggy from the minced meat sauce and I personally prefer more fiery sauce for pairing with fries, tomato based sauce is just so boring.

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Kids Carbonara @ On The Table Restaurant

The kids carbonara came with tempura fish instead of chicken since they ran out of chicken. The tempura fish was a delight, very crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It goes perfectly well with the creamy carbonara that was also very yummy. A decent dish and a winner with the kids as well.

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Hubby's main dish : Salmon with risotto
Hubby was in the mood for fish that night and was choosing between the only two choices available: Cod and Salmon. He asked the waiter which is the restaurant's speciality? and the waiter gave a ho-hum answer which wasn't very convincing, so hubby decided to stick to safe salmon. The salmon was a refreshing dish, it's taste is very light and pairs very well with the soft risotto. This dish is NOT for those who likes their food to be bursting with exciting flavours. 

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My main dish : Lemon Zaatar Chicken with pilaf rice

For myself, I was contemplating between Zaa'tar Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Kuzi Lamb With Pilaf Rice. I wasn't in the mood for lamb kuzi but wanted to eat rice and not mashed potatoes so I asked if they can accommodate my request for Zaatar Chicken with Pilaf Rice and they graciously granted my request :) Since I have never tasted Zaatar Chicken, I was a bit unsure if my zaatar chicken has been changed to kuzi chicken? Anyway don't really know how lamb kuzi taste like too.. But the chicken was quite interesting, very heavy with herbs and spices and a tad too big a serving for me. It was an ok but forgettable dish. Nothing particularly outstanding about the pilaf rice as well.

At the end of the meal, hubby ordered creme brulee (I think he was trying to be nice to me cos he is not a dessert person but I was already full from the meal). The creme brulee took quite some time to be prepared and is too runny and a bit too sweet for me. While the presentation was nice, the taste sure didn't impress. 

All in all, even though reviews for On The Table in some malay blogs give it the thumbs up (as theirs are mostly Ramadhan Buffet reviews of On The Table), some reviews in english by non-muslims (normal dining) basically sum it as a nice place to eat with affordable pricing with a few hit and misses with dishes offered. I should have read their reviews first I guess.. Oh well, for ourselves, given the restaurant's inconvenient location and limited menu, the dishes offered are not va-va-voom enough to entice us to come back anytime soon.


Ok... so we said we wont be coming back any time soon... but then... we tried PickNik.. and we weren't really impressed.. I mean.. just a few doors down, for about the same price and waay less crowd you get to eat a different kind of food not "comfort food" so.. yup we gave "On The Table" a second visit.

This time around we ordered:

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Artisan bread with condiments @ On The Table Publika

This was not my choice but hubby's, beats me why he ordered this but it was nice anyway (expensive though at RM33 - don't think we will order again- breads are soft and the condiments are the star of this appetiser, and they are: soft (whipped maybe?) butter served on a pretty shell, huge dollop of cream cheese, balsamic vinaigrette and basil something (I didn't catch the name). It was a nice refreshing but expensive dish.

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Baby rocket, steak and mango salad with korean dressing@ On The Table Publika (RM18)

Ok, so you can see that I am now on a salad craze (don't think it will last long though) and this one is simple but tasty. You got to mix all well to really enjoy this salad, the slightly bitter rocket with tender sliced medium-done beef steak with crunchy zesty mango and sweet and spicy dressing is quite novel too many. I don't know if this is an original creation or not but I do know that  I would love to recreate this at home :)

Hubby ordered Harissa Cod with Asparagus and Couscous, I didn't take a picture, it was an ok dish, but hubby said he preferred the salmon. I personally don't like cod and am staying away from eating salmon outside since I am not sure if the salmon are farmed or fresh from sea (I am thinking too much yes)

Kids ordered the same carbonara and you already know how we find that dish, this time around me and the two kiddos managed to share it together :)

So, there's room for dessert, yours truly chose chocolate fondant served with ice cream.

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The ice cream has slices of nuts inside and some kind of fruits that I can't guess that makes the very soft ice cream sweet and crunchy at the same time. The chocolate fondant (something like dominos lava cake) is a bit too gooey for me. I mean I like the gooey chcolatey taste but the cake part is too little and since the ice cream is also gooey I was a bit confused whether I should eat the fondant with the ice cream as topping OR the ice cream with the gooey chocolate as a topping.. nonetheless.. delicious!

Ok, so we are kind of wondering "apasal takde orang eh?" macam kesian gitu.. padahal picknik kat sebelah ber-table2 pengunjung.. standard dan harga pun lebih kurang je?...Am I missing something here? The last visit, we were the only customer that evening and they closed the restaurant right after we left, so sad!Walked past PickNik the place masih happening.. alamak.. macam mana ni? Boleh survive ke On The Table? On The Table has earned its place in one of our to-go restaurants and we would really be sad if it closes down due to slow demand. Come on guys! Go and check it out and give them your support! (eh I am not getting any monetary reward tau writing this post!)

Check Out My Other Posts:

picknik restaurant publika
PickNik by Chef Nik Michael
halal chinese seafood restaurant in kl
Halal Chinese - Mohammad Chow @ Damansara Perdana