Sunday, 18 April 2010

Food Review: Chef Diary

I find that when things happen, it happens. I was not working for a while and were working on small photo jobs on and off to keep me busy and creatively intrigued. And I was in the midst of a job interview during that time. I got a call to revamp a blog for one restaurant as well as the job at the same time. Talk about timing? Actually i got the revamp job for the blog first so i consider them my lucky charm in some ways.  So guess what? I am now writing from Manila on this particular blog review for a restaurant in KL. UNFORTUNATELY. I did not bring my camera to Manila ( regret, regret ) so don't expect any balut pictures coming from me. Don't expect me to try that either. Probably i will do some N97 blogging pics.

But before i left KL, I was invited by the people of Chef Diary to try some of the food there. I must admit i like the food here. Rarely there is a place where the food is good and the place is nice and quiet, when you can relax, eat and chat.

I got to know the people who own this place a little bit better. Turns out the place is owned by 4 people who are quite passionate about the restaurant as well as the quality of food that is served to the customers. And have pretty food to boot. One of the objectives of getting to try the food is also to let me understand what makes up the good food as well as ... indulge my fussy palate as well.  Though i must admit I was apprehensive they will serve me Foie Grais. No offence, but i feel i don't enjoy that as much as Mashi does as Foie Gras is not really my favourite food! I will let her guess blog the next time i go to Chef Diary and Foie grais is served.

Since this is mainly a Spanish restaurant, naturally tapas is some of the items served that night. Koreans have banchan, Japanese their Izakaya, the Spanish have their tapas but it is quite different. They have a mixture of cold as well as hot food and cheese is a common ingredient in tapas. Tapas traditionally in Spain is eaten mostly standing up. People talk, chat and eat tapas while catching up with the day's activities.


First up on the tapas - Anchovies and Mango Salsa. Normally, anchovies are associated with such words - smelly, salty and pizza (?). However, i was quite surprised to see a pale looking anchovies. And one bite of this, i was pleasantly surprised. No super saltiness typical of Anchovies but a more sublime taste and the taste was further enhanced by the mango salsa. I like the way they serve this on chinese soup spoons, it's pretty at the same time functional. I did some check and found that expensive Spanish anchovies are normally not as salty as the other anchovies. I would love to eat this again, and possibly another spoon of this dish. Sometimes it amazes me how people pair up


We had a serving of soup called Zarzuela. Actually i googled the word and turns out it means Spanish drama. But it looks nothing like this! Zarzuela is actually a spanish seafood soup. Chef's diary serves up the soup with a lot of fresh seafood, look at the picture above. The soup has a tomato base and i thought there was some bean like or rice like thing at the bottom. It is not tremendously sour like some tomato soups are but it is refreshingly tangy. This makes a good starter to any meal. 

Another tapas served is the Oxtail in Madeira wine.  Madeira wine is from Portugal and added with the oxtail, gives the dish a strong flavor. There is no gamey smell here but the wine adds additional flavor to this meaty dish. Plus, the meat was extremely tender and literally melts in your mouth. The cook tells me that long hours was used to stew the oxtail till it is tender. The sauce taste extremely well with bread as well.. So save some of the bread served before the meal to wipe the bread up.
Next up is this ever pretty dish, Prawn Romesco with Manchego cheese and Asparagus. Manchego is actually goat cheese and i think it is infused in the romesco sauce itself. This gives the dish a tangy hint in terms of taste.

I am not sure if the next dish was was something we missed out in the last outing, but if i recall, this is one of the one and only scallop tapas dish, i could remember. I will scrap the comment on scallop wings :) but i love the simple taste of this dish.  And this is no tiny scallop, it's quite a large size scallop and you actually can get a more fulfilling bit of the scallop.  If you are wondering by now how many people are eating with me, it's 4 persons. There is more dishes coming up after this.

Fancy some meatballs? Meatballs is a popular tapas choice in a lot of Spanish restaurants. This is lamb in arabiatta sauce, which is a spicy tomato sauce. Many people avoid lamb due to the smell, but in this case there is none and the meat is tender. The mince meat is actually minced by the chef himself, as sometimes if you purchase pre-minced meat, they contain a lot of fillers such as skin and also cartilage to add body to the mince. Only thing was this was a tad bit salty, otherwise it is a tasty dish.

I am always a big fan of vegetables or fruits. Keep you clean inside and balances out strong taste.  So, i was pleased when they brought out a salad for us to try. The last time i was here, i had the crab salad, this time it is Hickory Smoke duck salad with quail eggs. I love the thin duck slices and the smell of the hickory is awesome. I know now why some barbecue chefs love adding hickory wood in their food because of the smell.  I do love the salads here because it is interestingly refreshing and not like the standard run of the mill garden salad.

Finally one mains came out which is a pasta dish called Iced Capellini. Never heard of  iced pasta? Well this is your first time as well as mine! Only other place i have eaten cold noodles is Soba or Korean noodles. This is the first time done for European pasta! Where is the ice? Look closely at the photograph.

Can't see it? Check out this second picture.The ice at the bottom right corner. This sauce is gazpacho sauce and if on a hot day, this makes an excellent dish. Though you must eat it the minute the dish arrives as the ice will melt and sort of waters down the sauce. It's quite a nice taste and don't mind ordering again the next time. 

Just when i thought i could not eat any more .... there were 2 desserts. The chef insists we should try this. Now the desserts are not really Spanish but a mix of different parts of Europe. One of the ones we tried which is distinctly Italian is panna cotta.  I normally don't order this as a few restaurants have not done this well before. But this was quite a surprise for me. And this truly a girl's dessert because of the very fragrant Vanilla Beans on the top of the panna cotta! The panna cotta was smooth as a baby's skin. I do recommend you give this a try if you are here in Chef Diary.


This is another version of the flourless cake which is the orange version. The orange has been boiled for many hours and mixed with hazelnut get that texture for the cake. If you are not a chocolate fan, than this cake is a good choice for you. By the little fruit there is actually edible ( and not found in your local supermarket, it's imported in - reminds me of the Japanese Lantern flower ), but is very sour on the first bite but has  a sweetest after taste. Yes.I tried the small fruit as well. Curiosity killed the cat.


Anyway i was totally stuffed that day, much thanks to my lovely hosts for the lovely meal and company. Folks,  do make sure you try this place out for dinner or for lunch.

Those interested in the location, check out the below:

Restaurant Chef Diary ( www )
26-G, Medan Setia 2
Plaza Damansara, Bukit Damansara
Tel: +60(0)3 2095 0305

Closed Sundays and Saturday Lunch. For large crowds, do make a booking ahead.


  1. @Uli: next round come and try :) be my guest for the next session.
    @That's ron: Thanks... it is yummy!

  2. what a great blog! you take really good pictures~

  3. @mr pineapple: Thanks a lot :) and thanks for dropping by

  4. hey, interested to come over for DiGi WWWOW Internet For All Awards launch on the 24 March 2012?



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