The atmosphere was quite frenetic. It was one of those times when it felt like you had to squeeze toothpaste back into the tube. So many people to meet, so little time.
Poor Fredo. He must have felt some nerves.
After all, it's not every day that you have over 60 food bloggers in your establishment. Knowing that each one will write something about your place. And your food.
Mind you, he seemed to be handling the pressure well. I was really proud of him. We know Fredo and it's a measure of who he is and where he comes from that he doubled as a waiter that night. ;-)
Sandias' ambiance is carefully crafted to make it a comfortable, casual experience. And in that, it achieved it in spades.
Everyone - all the food bloggers - was in fine form. Bumping into old friends, introducing yourself as your blog name, then your real name. Some even asked to be referred to by their blog name and when they told you their real name, they had - half jokingly - hoped you would forget it after your 4th glass of martell in as many minutes. Isn't that true, Xiao Long Bao? ;-)
Somehow or other, I had managed to score myself a place in the light. Literally.
I was sitting under a spotlight and the reflection off the top of my head must have been blinding to those on my table. Sorry lah , Char Siew Bao, Jackson, Xiao Long Bao, Joe, Fatboybakes (he's not fat, only modest...well, somewhat! hehehe >;-) ), Vincent, and of course, the redoubtable boo_licious who organised this. Many thanks boo, and I didn't mean to spoil the surprise honest! ;-) I'm just a nosy parker who doesn't like to be kept in the dark. (Boo wouldn't tell me her name and I had to do quite a bit of poking around to find out. Eventually, someone blurted out her name not knowing I wasn't supposed to know. *rubs hands together in glee* bwahaha)
Our table had great service, the martell girl who was helping us, Julia, was very sweet, and of course, Fredo was taking care of us, like the good restaurateur he is. Thanks babe. I had heard of patchy service on the other tables, but being in the service industry, consistency is a tough thing to achieve. I hope the others who had a less than optimal experience would give Sandias another chance. It was an unusual night after all.
With regard to the food however, I've had Patrick's best. And this wasn't it. While I understand the problems associated with set menus to a particular price point, some of the items could have been better.
Taquitos Fritos (Tah-kee-toes Free-toes)
Deep fried Taquitos (corn tortillas) wrapped with chicken and served with sour cream and salsa
I enjoyed this dish the most. It was a touch greasy but I attribute this to the corn tortillas (tor-tee-yas) which are like sponges. I've also got a sneaky suspicion that the oil was a little cool and therefore they just slurped up the oil and held it.
The difference in textures, the crunch of the taquitos, the full bodied savoury chunks of chicken, the herby salsa and the piquant, cool sour cream all added up to one great little bite.
Pollo a la Castellana (Poh-yo a la Cast-te-yah-na)
LOVED the rice. I'm wondering if the rice was given a quick stir fry in a little oil before being cooked. It had that slightly sticky rice texture and consistency. Flavour from the cooking stock was good as well.
The chicken was good. A nice balance of flavours and the sauce went a way to ensuring that the breast meat wasn't too dry. There was also chicken leg which many western chefs are embracing for the simple reason that it does not dry out. About bloody time too.
The vegetable side dish was not to my liking. I felt it was Greasy, stringy, and some pieces were not identifiable and not in a good way either. Twice I had to remove bits from my mouth because it felt like I was chewing the string of celery. The tough bits.
Postre Helado de Limon
I've had Patrick's other desserts and this was not stellar either. The flavours were not well melded and the texture was not quite dry. The scoop of citrus ice cream on the side was good though.
Two dishes I tried on the side. Stole a bit of Jackson's actually. :-)
Sopa de Calabaza Con Salsa with pico de gallo (peeko de gah-yo)
Pumpkin squash soup with salsa. Jackson opted for this. Rather nice. But with the intensity of flavours that I'm used to, you would need a sweeter pumpkin or a stronger stock to make it fabulous. The texture was lovely. Coarse enough to be rustic but smooth enough to have some sophistication. The pico de gallo added interest.
Pescado a la Veracruzana
If you're not a fan of olives then you wouldn't have liked this one. The fish was fresh and delicate but I felt the olives combined with the tomatoes was too strong a flavour. Local tomatoes are extremely acidic and so this dish, in my opinion came out unbalanced. Too sour, and too strong on the olives.
While the food was alright, the star attraction of the evening was really meeting all the food bloggers. Unfortunately, with 60 people, it's tough to meet and chat with everyone on a more involved basis. So, it was a bit like speed dating. "Hello, how do you? What do you do? Oh, and hello, how do you do? What do you do?" Sort of thing.
Adly from friedchillies.com was very sweet. He distributed AND autographed his tome on food for anyone who asked. Am waiting for him to become famous and auction the book on Ebay. ;-)
In any case, after Sandias, we decided to adjourn to The Attic for the "after party." An intrepid few (11) made the gargantuan trek of 5 mins by car and sat down for another bout of jawing. To tempt people to come, I'd snagged a Choc & Cheese from the shop and from all reports people enjoyed it very much.
Thanks again boo and thanks all for a great time.
Lastly, I would like to encourage everyone to visit Sandias and give it a go. While our experience on THAT NIGHT was less than optimal, I've been there on other nights and I know that the food and service is there can be very very good.
44 Plaza Damansara
Jalan Medan Setia 2
Kuala Lumpur 50490
Tel: +60 3 2095 8431
Fax: +60 3 2095 8502