Tuesday, 21 June 2016

If Pigs Could Fly


They would land in Damansara Uptown at Ampersand by Culinary Rebels. When I got wind that the new menu was being launched last Saturday, I quickly made reservations for table for two.

So I played "boss" and dragged my partner to Ampersand. He knows that dining at my favorite restaurant would keep me happy, so he just kwai kwai followed.


I had already done my homework. I checked their new menu on Facebook. The new menu is a welcome improvement of the old one.

Now there is more variety, though the choices in ribs and wings have been pruned down (two ribs and two wings were axed but with a new variant joining each category). There are 2 new additions to the pasta selection. Best of all, two new salads join the line up. Yay!

As usual, my partner left the ordering to me and I was more than happy to take charge. I ordered the Thai Basil Pasta  for him (Spaghetti/Thai Basil Pork/Sunny Side Up, RM16.90).


I love fried egg. The yolk was runny when my partner cut into it. But no photo because he was hollering for me to "ciak ciak mai take photo liao" (eat, eat, no more photos already) hee..hee...


I took some to sample. That's when I realized that there was not a single leaf of Thai basil in the pasta. Maybe they couldn't get Thai basil that day. Sometimes, these fresh herbs can be hard to come by unless if you plant them yourself. But still, my partner polished off his pasta with gusto. It was good, just not Thai.

My Citrus Salad (Greens/Cherry Tomatoes/Onion/Cucumber/Pork Rinds/Fried Pulled Pork/Citrus Honey Dressing, RM12.90) came looking very cheerful and healthy.


I love the dressing. So light and so refreshing. But...but...where is the pork rind and fried pulled pork? When I read the menu description, I was hopeful that this salad could be my main meal salad on evenings when I want to go low carb. 

Then the new wings to join the line up, Amoy Wings (Thai-Viet Marinade, RM16.00 for 4 wings) came to the table with a large stalk of serai (lemongrass).


The fragrance of lemongrass was very distinct but not overpowering. As I bit into the fragrant wings, I noted that all I could perceive was lemongrass. Then I thought how lovely if Thai Chili sauce was served with the wings. 


But no, the wings should stand on their own. This one needs a little extra something. I'm thinking garlic. And honey? Ah, what do I know about these things.

Then that thing I've been dreaming of was delivered to the table. I thought it was visually stunning. 


Here's a closer look. I chose the most flamboyant of the lot. The aptly named Rebellion (German Pork Belly/Chimichurri/Spiced Pine-Mango Chutney/Capsicum Berry Sauce/Salad/Flash Fried Cherry Tomatoes/Crunchy Caper, RM36.00)


One look at it and my partner remarked "That is not enough for you". Muahahaha!! Ignore him, OK? He is always concerned that I don't have enough to eat.

In fact he declined when I cut a piece for him but I insisted. I added on some Chimicurri and Capsicum Berry Sauce for him. As he chewed, he nodded his head in approval.

The Chimichurri. It was something foreign to me, heard of it but never tasted until now. Pungent. I loved it.

Chimichurri. The green stuff.
The Capsicum Berry Sauce looked like sambal belacan. Smoky with a slight hint of heat. I loved it too.


The Spiced Pine Mango Chutney paled in comparison. The taste left no impression on me, perhaps overshadowed by its stronger tasting companions.

The yellow bit on the right is the Spiced Pine Mango Chutney.
And now. The star of the show. The pork belly (weight give or take 350g). A slab of belly with a layer of fat. Mun would disapprove. 

Look at that layer of fat. Yes, I ate it.
If I am not wrong, this is cooked in a sous vide. 


It was way too soft for me. I would prefer the meat with more bite. Eaten on its own, the porky smell was quite distinct. That's where the Chimicurri and Capisicum Berry Sauce come in. Eaten together it made perfect sense. I'm sorry I was not thrilled with the pork belly. I would have preferred one that is roasted. 

But the plus point is that they were generous with the Chimichurri and Capsicum Berry Sauce and the accompanying salad too.

Then it was time for dessert, on the house. There were 3 to choose from and I picked the Gordy's Entrapment (Earl Grey Custard/Gula Melaka/Popcorn Dust/Bacon/Vanilla Ice Cream/Chocolate Ball/Crumb/Strawberry/Mint Leaves, RM16.00).


Is that pretty or what?


It wasn't too sweet. The taste of the custard was quite mild. I found the texture of the custard to be too thin, sort of a watery feel. Not the usual mouth feel of a custard.

The popcorn bits reminded me of styrofoam and I felt that it did not contribute significantly to the dessert. As for the Gula Melaka, it was not distinct at all.

The mint was a nice touch but I left it aside. My partner, being one not to waste, asked me why. Then he took some to chew and then rolled his eyes. hee..hee..hee...


The ice cream. My partner commented that he could detect icicles in the ice cream. I'll have to agree that the texture was not smooth and creamy as what we would expect with ice cream.

Well, it was an ambitious (and rebellious) take on the dessert and pork belly. I came away not totally awed but neither was I totally disappointed. What made my evening was the Citrus Salad. The rest could have been better.

I believe the new menu is still evolving and I will be back for the rest of the belly and other new offerings.

Thank you Ampersand for the complimentary dessert, the gesture was very much appreciated. I only wished I had chosen the B.E.N.J.I. You can never go wrong with chocolate.

24 comments:

  1. Too bad we different places, if not, can go food hunting, kakaka...

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    1. Ya lor, you can come with me jalan-jalan cari makan.

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  2. They're still apologetic and giving you complimentary dessert still? Haha! Popcorn tastes like styrofoam? Means "lau foong chor" coz it should be crunchy. If you can detect icicles in the ice cream, it means the ice cream has been frozen for too long. I'm sorry but the main dish (with 3 sauces) looks and sounds too muddled for me >.< I had a similar experience with the overly porky smell of pork in a porky place (will blog about that soon).

    If I had such an underwhelming dining experience, I probably wouldn't return. But I can certainly relate and understand why you would (and Ampersand is so lucky to have you as a customer). I have a family member who would return to the same place over and over again even if the food was just so-so coz she's made to feel welcomed there (I guess it's like the bar in the Cheers sitcom where everybody knows your name...kekeke!) :D

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    1. Oh no, that wasn't apologetic hah..hah..I think it is more of a promotion for the new menu. Also maybe because I have been going there so often and they want to reward me hee..hee...

      Well, I won't say that I was underwhelmed. My major issue was the belly being too soft. I get you when you say that it is muddled because the 3 sauces appear to be clashing. Maybe they are testing which one customers prefer, eh? But whatever it is, I felt that a roasted or grilled pork would be more suited in this creation.

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  3. Who cares about Mun? I totally approve of that portion of pork belly together with all those fats!

    Also... you like chimichurri huh? Lai, I intro to you a nice and authentic recipe by a lovely Argentinian lady:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2i3WszTV06M

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    1. Wow! Hold your horses there! I would totally approve you and PH and all fats lovers eating those fats, just that I would have scrapped it all off and not eat those fats myself but I would never, ever stop anyone from eating them if they love those fats, geddit? :D

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    2. Erhh, I guess PH should have written, RG's Mom would disapprove! ... and you would have to care then. ;p

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    3. RG : Hey, I like the lovely Argentinian lady. She is so perky and lively and I feel all excited about chimichurri just watching her. Thanks for the intro!

      Mun : I get you :) Just pulling your leg lah by mentioning you because I know you don't eat fats.

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  4. I prefer roasted pork belly too.. It's a bit too white and soft, I prefer to eat this in soup, boil this in soup, take it out, cut into pieces, dip into cili soya sauce. This is how I like.. But anyway, like RG, I sokong your pork belly dish! First time try, ok jugak la, everything must try, cannot say don't wana try.. But if the skin is roasted, will be better la..

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    1. In soup pun, I prefer not so soft. Hmmm..must try what you suggested. Sure sedap habis. Yup, must try at least once. I hope they change it to roasted punya.

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  5. i'm definitely eyeing the belly! 350 grammes sounds like it'd be a very satisfying portion that two light eaters could happily share :D

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    1. I'd like to know what you think once you have a chance to have a taste :)

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  6. Aiyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyo, who says I would disapprove? Of course I approve lah if fats lovers want to eat all the fats that they want but of course I myself won't eat the fatty bits lah though I will still eat the lean meat.

    So for your citrus salad, were there any pork rind and fried pulled pork hidden underneath the salad leaves?

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    1. hee..hee..hee...just kacau you lah..... No, there were none under the leaves. I ate the whole lot myself. It's a good salad, one that I would order again.

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    2. Hee..hee..hee.. you naughty girl, you... :D No pork rind and no fried pulled pork? Then why did they list the two items in the description of the citrus salad? Did you ask them? Maybe they forgot to put the two items in.

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    3. I think they may have forgotten. The menu is new and maybe the kitchen staff was kelam kabut or whatever and missed it.

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  7. Hahahaha, you read my mind again. I was about to ask you did you eat all, the whole layer of fats and you put there in the caption that you did. Preempt my question, again. So are you a soothsayer? ;p

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    1. You are always the curious one :)

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  8. I would prefer roasted pork belly and I would have eaten the fat together with the meat. Overall, it looks like a good meal and you enjoyed it very much. Ha ha I like the way your partner said this, "ciak ciak mai take photo liao".

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    1. hah.hah..he was a bit in a hurry to eat!

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  9. What a pity the pork was too soft, if not I would love that pork belly with all the fats

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    Replies
    1. Yah, hope that they will make adjustment.

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