Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Halal Food : Dinner @ PickNik, Publika

chef nik masterchef malaysia
Chef Nik Michael's restaurant at Publika :PickNik

Note to readers: PickNik restaurant arm has closed down since Feb 2016. 

Ok.. after trying out Chef Riz's restaurant On The Table that is just a few doors down from PickNik at Publika Mall, we make it a point to try out PickNik by Chef Nik Michael since the place is always filled with patrons in comparison to the quieter On The Table. PickNik must be much better than On The Table if you judge by the crowd, we assumed. 

PickNik has a very open and friendly vibe to it and the menu also offers western, a few asian and fusion dishes. Which is great since kiddo no 2 favorite dish is rice, sadly kiddo no 1's fave which is mee goreng mama is not on the menu but at least they serve carbonara here. I was quite excited before coming to try out the desserts since I saw on a few sites the sinful pictures of the glorious desserts served at PickNik but somehow on that day itself, I wasn't feeling very hungry and hence didn't order any.  

PickNik's tagline is "comfort food" and yup that is exactly what they serve, so if you are expecting high end dishes.. head to "On The Table" at the end of the row :p and we have no objections against comfort food just that when the price is about the same as the dishes served at "On The Table" it does set one thinking.

picknik restaurant publika
Watercress Salad @ Chef Nik Michael's restaurant - PickNik @ Publika Mall

Since I wasn't really in the mood for eating, I just ordered a salad as I haven't been eating a lot of greens lately. PickNik offers crispy watercress salad with thinly sliced sweet pear and strawberries (tasted a bit tart but then again it's difficult to get sweet strawberries in Malaysia)dressed with a sauce that was very delicious but I can't put my finger on and garnished with toasted sliced almonds. I love this salad!  

halal food blog
Nasi Lemak @ Chef Nik Michael's restaurant: PickNik

"Nasi Lemak Basic" (RM12) for kiddo, we have to add on a chicken (RM8) and since I am sharing with him, I thought maybe I should take the extra rice (RM5). Turns out I shouldn't have ordered the extra rice cos the rice portion is huge. 

the huge portion of extra rice! lain kali tak payah order extra..

The nasi lemak is fragrant since it is served on a banana leaf, but lacks the "ka-pow" that one would expect from a MasterChef hehe. boiled egg is also nicely done with no green edges around the yolk that is a sure sign of being over-done. The sambal sigh.. leave much to be desired..  there is nothing wrong with it just that I expected much more..  I guess.. it all tasted just normal... too normal with oversized portions that's it.. like "Teh Tarik Place" normal you know?

restaurant with kids meal publika
Kids Carbonara @ Chef Nik Michael's restaurant ; PickNik

Kids carbonara with turkey ham was small in size (perfect for one child) and pretty much very basic and tasted average. But since we also ordered kids carbonara at On The Table previously (which costed about the same and sufficed for two kids instead of one with mushroom, bacon and chicken fingers AND tasted waaay nicer) Picknik's kids carbonara didn't get our favor that evening. 

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Delicious lamb chops at Chef Nik Michael's restaurant PickNik @ Publika Mall

Hubby ordered korean lamb chops, this is a fusion dish -I think- tender lamb chops that was also juicy and not fatty. yummy! paired with a sauce that has a korean touch (a bit of sweet, sour and spicy) very nice twist and served with a good portion of greens which I guess is spinach. Hubby (who is not a leafy vegy enthusiast) says the pairing of lamb chops and spinach is weird but I find it to be in perfect sync.. kind of like eating a bibimbap where you have the beef, the chilli paste and the saute vegetables but with lamb chops instead and no rice :p

picnic restaurant chef nik
Dinner @ Chef Nik Michael's restaurant: PickNik - Tempura Prawns

Side dish was tempura prawns, presentation lacks finesse and the taste fails to impress. Again mediocrity at its best. 

For drinks, we ordered lemon tea for the kids (I think it's home brewed, tasted quite ok not too strong) and teh tarik (less sweet) for me and hubby. Unfortunately the teh tarik disappoints.. too milky and sweet.. hmph.. where oh where can I get teh tarik with strong tea taste and just the right hint of milk and sugar without being overbearingly sweet? aaahhh.. 

Ok, so wrapping it up, we like the watercress salad and I like the korean lambchops.. the rest just didn't inspire us much. If you have been to PickNik or frequent it but have never heard of On The Table at the end of the row, do yourself a favor and check it out too.. who knows you might also like it. Oh, but best to read up on others' reviews on it first to know which dish fares well and which didn't quite make it yet. :)

Second Visit to Chef Nik Michael's Restaurant PickNik:

Since, this post has been garnering quite a number of read daily, I thought I owe it to the readers and Chef Nik to give PickNik another try since the first visit didn't really leave much impression on me and hubby. 

This time around we decided to order items on the menu that are under the chef's recommendation. So we ordered:

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Salmon Rocket Mango Salad - Quite a nice combination of crunchy rocket and almond slice, sweet mango and vinaigrette (I think that was the salad dressing) but the cheese slices (the white thing in the bowl) doesn't really go with the salad in my opinion, maybe a different kind of cheese in smaller size would be more suitable and the raw salmon didn't quite thrill me as I am not a fan of raw fish.

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French Onion Soup With Cheesy Bread: This is our first time tasting french onion soup and to tell you the truth, other than the pretty cheesy bread, the soup didn't excite us at all. Very oily in my opinion and I can't taste the beef broth that much. This is one soup we will not be ordering again. 

chef nik restoran

Fat Tuesday Chicken: A big fat portion of chicken (which is too huge for me to finish up on my own as it is pure meat) stuffed with maybe 2 small shrimps then breaded and fried and topped with a buttery sauce and served with yellow rice and pan fried vegetables on the side. 

The chicken is too much for me and tasted ordinary, the buttery sauce is overpowering but I guess when you mix it with the bland yellow rice, the taste kind of even out. I like the combination of orange with the sauce as the zesty orange makes the sauce more tolerable, too bad there are only 3 slices of oranges that came with the fat chicken. Again, to me, for this to be a chef recommended dish, it still lacks the "Oh-My-God-I-am-in-Heaven" punch. 

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Salted Caramel Brownie: We made it a point to try out one dessert and this one came recommended. Ho-hum.. what do I say? It's ok I guess.. I am not a fan of salted caramel but I can eat this dessert. The brownie though is just average, not very chewy or chocolatey but edible enough. A bit of disappointment for me though since I am a dessert person especially anything chocolate. And I was expecting something like Swensen's (Singapore not KL outlets) Walnut Rocky Road kind of sinful delight so I guess that's why I am just ok with the dish and not blown away by the Salted Caramel Brownie :( 

halal ice cream singapore
This is what Swensen's Rocky Road Brownie looks like

So, the second visit to PickNik is over and done with and I still stick to my previous opinion with regards to this restaurant. Comfort food that is good enough for casual dinner but definitely not for a gastronomic experience. I would assume that most people who frequent here do so more for the environment rather than the culinary wonder. The place got a good vibe and decent crowd, it would really be great if Chef Nik Michael can bring up the food standard a few more notches. 

Third Visit on 01 April 2014: 

We haven't been to Publika for dinner lately and that evening hubby wanted to eat On The Table, we arrived at 5 mins before 8pm and On The Table was closed! The only other alternative since we didn't want to walk far was of course Pick Nik. Usually, the place would have at least 3 tables filled at around 8pm and crowded by 9pm but that evening at just before 8pm there was not a single customer. Hubby looked at me and said "You think that you have something to do with this?" "I'm like waaaaaat? I'm not that popularlah.. but Oh My God I feel bad if it's really partly because of this review..."

Sitting down at the table, I noticed that they have added new items on their menu.. so, hubby ordered chicken wings and garlic prawns (for my no 2), turkey carbonara (for no 1) watercress salad for me and Pan Seared Salmon for himself.

The chicken wings was delicious, some parts were a bit charred and some drumlets were not so cooked on the inside but the ones that was done well was very nice, sweet and juicy, perfect for appetisers. I tried to guess the seasonings but failed! *sorry* that yellow sauce.. I can't put my finger to it (a classic sign that I have not been cooking much lately) I think it's honey mustard but I could be wrong..God I don't even remember what thousand island dressing taste like!

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Garlic Prawns - just because my no 2 love chicken and prawns. The Garlic Prawns taste more like some sort of bolognese sauce to me but still it was a simple and comforting food.

picknik publika solaris

Dish of that evening was Pan Seared Salmon, this dish might just be the reason if I come back to PickNik Restaurant again. Pan Seared Salmon crispy on the outside, tender but perfectly cooked on the inside, paired with buttered french beans, cherry tomatoes and sweet broiled (I am assuming) potatoes on a bed of lemon butter sauce. I love it!

halal western restaurant publika solaris

Great Job Chef Nik Michaels and team for updating the menu and introducing some finger licking additions. We wish you to continually raise the food standard in your restaurant and may you prosper well :P

For those searching for the recipe for Chef Nik Michaels Pan-Seared Salmon.. I did a little googling and I think this recipe might be helpful as a basis but you have to adjust a bit to imitate the taste of PickNik's Salmon. (Maybe If I have the time, I'll try the recipe in July - yes I am busy till then :P )

PickNik's address is at:

Publika Mall, Solaris Dutamas
Block A4, level UG1 - 05

Opens: 11am - 11pm
Tel: 03-64116499

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