Friday, October 27, 2006

Sick As A Dog

All the late nights in Phuket wore my poor body down. Damn, I'm getting old. Three nights of partying, boom! I'm sick! Well, I was already feeling like I was coming down with something the week before I left. It was definitely the haze because when I was in Phuket, I felt so much better. Here are a couple of pictures of my congee lunch. Choy poh omelette, stir-fried lettuce gems and mmmmmui choy kow yoke. Wobbly, glistening, mouth-watering layers of fat. Mmmuuahhhhh... Its meals like these that make being sick almost a good thing. Am off to London tomorrow. Yay! Unfortunately will not have access to computer so will have to compile and collate all the lip-smacking experiences onto paper. Thank goodness I still know how to wield a pen. Barely. Bye bye for now blog!

Hungry For You

After reading Raffles' tale of terror, I decided to write my own too. Please excuse all the grammatical errors.
“I really think we should get out and get another tuk-tuk”, Rafs slurs loudly as we jostle about in the back of the truck-turned taxi. A little while ago, our driver had pulled over sharply and demanded more money than was agreed initially.
“You give me 1000 baht. Layan very far. You give me 1000 baht. Ok.” The street lamp formed a halo on his greasy face. We argued and after much haggling, he got back into the taxi unhappily. The deal had turned sour and he had now pulled over to pick up a friend.

“This looks really dodgy. We really need to get out. They are going to rape us”, Rafs continues. I look through the partition and see the two Thai men eyeing us through the rear view mirror. They laugh. I agree with Rafs, they were up to no good. We stop the taxi and walk away feeling we just narrowly avoided hell. On the main street were lines of tuk-tuks waiting for passengers but in our drunken state and new found paranoia, all the drivers looked like rapists and serial killers. Our resort was far away and tucked deep into the hills. No one would find our bodies.

“Let’s go in that one.” Rafs points to a small man taking a long drag on his cigarette. He was leaning against his tuk-tuk talking to his wife who was peeling lotus seeds with a paring knife in the passenger seat. Twenty minutes later, the lights of Patong were a blur in the distance.

“You have been married long time?” Rafs shouts. The wind whips our hair in our face.
“Yes. Long time. Twenty years. We three children. You married?” The wife asks in return. And the small talk continues as we ride deeper into the hills.
“Where you from?” The man asks.
“We’re Malaysian,” we answer proudly.
“Ah Malaysia! We want to try-” he answers.
“Pardon? I can’t hear you. The wind. Very loud,” Rafs shouts once more. There was no answer. The loud engine and increasing fatigue ends our conversation. We turn into a long stretch of dirt road. Shadows fall away from the path as drive by.

“Why are we slowing down?” I ask, "Are you lost?" The driver stops completely now. The green light in the tuk-tuk cast a ghostly shadow around us. I can just make out the silhouette of a padi field. Our resort was close. The engine cuts off and the silence becomes unbearably loud. The man comes round to the back where we sit. I see Rafs open her mouth and a look of terror twists on her face. I feel a sharp burning pain and hot wetness on my neck. She screams and I turn to see the wife standing behind me with a bloodied paring knife.
“We want to eat Malaysia long time. Malaysia hard to get. Only many farang. Farang no taste good. You look nice,” the man whispers as he brings a long parang down to the back of Rafs head.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Do!

The skies were dark and streaked with flashes of light and claps of thunder. The wedding was about to begin. So it was with much drama that the bride rolled up in her orchid festooned buggy as the rest of us cowered under the marquee. It was certainly dramatic. With each sentence delivered by the minister, the rain came down heavier as if to emphasise the seriousness of matrimony. It was hilarious but it was also so noisy I had to strain my ears to listen. Good thing there was a hard copy on the chair. Everyone got wet and all the ladies got their toes soaked in mud. I also left my shoe behind several times. It was so wet and muddy! Fortunately as the service ended, the rain let up. We moved to the pavilion where dinner and drinks were set up. We were on the Bradshaw, Jones, York & Hobbs table (I'm soooo Ms York!). Homo and his peeps were on the Ewings. Before we sat down to dinner, we all lit our flower floats, made a wish and sent it off in the water. The deck was really slippery, I was concentrating so hard on not falling into the water that I nearly forgot my wish. Sweet Thing came to the rescue, holding my camera and stopping me from doing the splits and ripping my dress in two. All eyes were on ST and Rafs as they main mata with each other. Actually, it could've been just all the alcohol they had consumed and were struggling to keep their eyes focused. So intense!

The first two courses on the menu were not very well thought out simply because it guaranteed it was full of anti-pulling ingredients such as raw onion, garlic and cumin! Waaaah! Run away while you can! First course was lobster cerviche which completely ruined the lobster. All I could taste was garlic, garlic and garlic! Pong! Second course was some pretentious thyme-scented beef tea or somefink like dat. It had an overpowering taste of cumin, definitely not thyme! I think I was the only one who noticed though because everybody else was already on their tenth glass of wine while I was still on my first. I really enjoyed my barley risotto with caramelised onions. I did feel a bit like a horse nibbling away at my grains but it was so refreshingly clean tasting compared to the previous two. I finished everything! I'm glad I ordered the rack of lamb for my main course because the cod was sugary sweet! It was rather odd. My lamb was juicy and tender! I wanted to pick it up and gnaw away but felt it would be very un-Charlotte of me to do so. For dessert, there was a lovely coffee ice cream with white chocolate charlotte. The ice cream was nice but the charlotte tasted waxy. The party carried on til about 1ish. Considering it started at 5pm, I would say it was pretty good. As usual, the Malaysians (us lah) were the last to leave! Kuching and Will decided that it was impossible to drink the bar after all. What a lovely wedding. Oh and the cake was divine! One of the better chocolate cakes I have tasted in a while! Light in texture, rich & chocolatey in taste. Really wish I had left more room in my dress for expansion. I could barely sit!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Last night on the tuk tuk ride, I was inspired to spin tales of horror and gore by the inky blackness that enveloped us all the way back to the resort. They must’ve been quite good because I gave Rafs goosebumps. It also helped that our resort really did look haunted and deserted. So we were relieved to find that there were other people at breakfast the next morning. No breakfast buffer at this resort, but you can choose between the continental, local and American set. Being the hogs that we are, we ordered the American of course. Fruit, koko crunch, eggs, bacon, ham, sausages, croissant and coffee. What a nice start to the day!

The sun was blazing when we went to meet Kuching and Will for lunch at Patong. Will was having a massage so we took the opportunity to wander around. It has changed so much. It has been close to 9 years since my last trip. There were parts that were rebuilt after the tsunami. Much bigger and cleaner. It’s still sleazy of course. When we were weaving through the lanes, we came across many bars with sun-burnt kwai lohs with paunches slumped over the bar while tiny Thai women in hot pants and platform heels flicked their hair and danced around them. Same ol’, same ol’.

Will was done and we all met up at Family restaurant. He had ordered grilled tiger prawns, panaeng pork, mussaman chicken, som tam, green curry beef, tom yum and curry crabs. Sounds like a lot for 4 people right? We finished it all! There was nothing left. It’s the sun I tell you! The heat burns up all the fat, therefore need to ingest more fat! Yeah right. We were supposed to meet Ads for sunset drinks at 360 bar.

Unfortunately for us, the sun sets early and quickly in Phuket! We missed it so we went drinking at Laguna instead. It was quiet for a Friday night. We ended up having dinner next door of the pub, Tawai. The tom yum was much nicer than at lunch. This was nice and sour and spicy. We had panaeng pork again because its Will’s favourite. Overall the food was very nice and the owner was a friendly sort. Although I was convinced he was high on something. He gave us a round of grappa and a ride back to our hotel. Good service or wot?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Love You Long Time

Can’t believe I am back from my trip already. The four days in Phuket passed by in a heart beat. I went up to attend a wedding of an old friend from Oz at the Banyan Tree. It is such a chore flying Air Asia. Sure the bus ride is cheaper than the KLIA express but it also takes twice as long. After finding out the bus leaves frequently, we went off in search of food. We ended up in Kenny Rogers as a tribute to our Kuching friend who would visit turn up at KR every Sunday for her Sunday roast. For rm13.99 you get a quarter roast chicken, choice of 3 side dishes and a muffin. I chose the coleslaw, garden salad and mac & cheese. The coleslaw was nice and crisp but the mac & cheese was disappointing. I was really looking forward to the thick, bright orange cheese sauce but all I got was watery macaroni. The muffin was pretty awful too. When did they change from the corn muffin? Well, I don’t think I will be going back to KR for a long time. We arrived at LCC an hour before the flight. Not surprisingly, our flight was delayed. On the plane, while I was having a nap, Homo ordered a nasi lemak and I woke up just in time to have a bite of rice and peanuts. Not bad for airplane food.

Felt like it took forever to get to our little resort on Layan Beach. The cabbie got lost but we got there in the end, in one piece but a little car sick. Our room had a nice view of the sea but we barely had time to rest because we had to go meet the bride and girls for dinner at Lim’s. Forty minutes later, we arrived at Holiday Inn in Patong to meet Kuching and Will for a drink. We were so late for dinner! Typical Malaysians! The Holiday Inn had been revamped as it was one of the many hotels hit by the Tsunami. It was definitely not what I was expecting from the Holiday Inn! So trendy and gaya! Lim’s is a small restaurant run by a gay couple. It’s also part art gallery and they make delicious cocktails. It was great catching up with my friends I haven’t seen in years as well as meeting new ones. I have to say, I also felt old. These are some people I met when I was fifteen. Mags, the maid of honour, did a fantastic job of ordering a seemingly endless supply of salads, curries and stir-frys. I was ready to burst and looked forward to nothing more than to lie down and fall asleep.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Death by Teppanyaki

I really like the foie gras with wintermelon and tofu salad at Zipangu. And since I hadn't ordered either last Friday, I knew I was setting myself up for disappointment. I was surprised that they were not full. I figured there would be heaps of people breaking fast. Mum and I were craving for teppanyaki and we reallu should've gone to Equatorial because at Zipangu they like to jazz up their teppanyaki with bread crumbs and sweet butter sauces. The oyster teppanyaki came off tasting like slimey giant or chien. Gross! I took a photo of my foie gras fried rice which was not as nice as the one at Noble House but it looked very pretty sitting in the lacquer bowl. It was a disappointing meal and mum and I both agreed that it even with the discount card, it was complete waste of time and money.

Oriental Cravings

Every Sunday after our climb, Rafs and I look forward to having lunch at Oriental Cravings. Previously we had always gone to Delicious or Dragon I but a couple of months back my sister asked us to meet her there for lunch. We have been back almost every week since. Whats not to like right? Simple home cooking and they serve pork. We usually have a bowl of seafood noodles each and pork curry with toast to share. I love the seafood noodles for the pork-filled fish balls. They say they don't use msg but I suspect they do. Especially in their soup noodles. I always find my throat a little dry after but its tolerable. As for the pork curry, its typical Chinese-style curry. Very light on the spices and more lemak than anything. Oh what better way to enjoy it than dunking toasted white bread to soak up all the oil. Lurveleeee. The deepfried tofu with minced pork is also very nice. Crisp on the outside but still soft and smooth on the inside. Haven't tried many other things on the menu because we always ask for the daily specials. There was one time when they had pork rib and ham choy curry. Wow, that was really nice. It was not as rich as their usual curry and the ham choy rounded up the flavours nicely. I don't have a picture of the food but I have a picture of my nephew on that fateful day when we first pledged our love for seafood noodles!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Forgive Me Father...

It is always nice to meet someone new, even nicer when he turns out to be a fellow food blogger! Last night we celebrated Dearie Boss' birthday at Neroteca. I must warn you to look away now if you are squeamish about seeing faces on things you eat. Also if you are prone to fawning over puppies and all thing cute and small. Sis and I ordered a suckling pig for the celebration and I'm no expert on suckling pigs but I am pretty sure that piglet was underage. I felt like some paedophile with very bad intentions when the tiny little piglet was placed before us. I felt ill. However, I had to remind myself that letting the pig grow a little more only to be eaten was just as cruel. So stop being a hypocrite and eat it already! All guilt melted away like fat on a grill after I took the first bite. Anything that tastes this good was meant to be eaten. Really! Is it obvious that I'm still trying to justify murdering a baby??
Fellow blogger Fat Boy brought a lemon meringue pie, one of the many, many lovely cakes he bakes. Don't you just love a man who can cook? It had just the right amount of sweetness and the meringue was so light and fluffy. I can't wait to try his other cakes!

Monday, October 09, 2006

All Aboard, Next Stop - Union Square

The second wave of weddings is happening to friends in my social circle now. I remember the first frenzy of weddings back in 1999 to 2001. It was literally one after the other. And I’m pretty sure it was the same for other people I didn’t know around my age. Then there were the rest of us who stayed behind, still partying, discovering ourselves, searching for other halves, not really too concerned at then the next boat would be coming to ferry us off to happily-ever-after. I have three weddings to attend between October – January. Quite a few considering most are married by now. As more and more of us get on that boat, the fewer of us there are standing at the dock.

I was at the first of three last Saturday. It was a grand affair at Sunway Lagoon Hotel. Any couple who has done their research will know that it must be a "super size me" grande affair as there are only a few ballrooms in KL that will fit more than 1000. Considering how many tables there were, they did a good job in making it feel cosy. It was a winter-themed wedding and large screens showed slides of snow-capped mountains, snow, snow and more snow. One of the first things I did after we sat down was to look study the menu. I already told Raffleesia that I would kill myself if I saw broccoli and mushrooms in starchy oyster sauce on the menu. I realised that there was a very high chance that I may indeed have to throw myself over that gawdawful lion-sphinx thing. Fortunately I was wrong! We had the 3 seasons (maybe they skipped winter!) to start. Lobster in mayonnaise (You can never go wrong with these two ingredients!), smoked abalone and some deep-fried fu chook rolls. Second course was a double-boiled herbal chicken soup which I had a spoonful off. It was very tasty which gave me reason to suspect that it may have been seasoned with msg. We were then treated to a “special presentation” on the 8 large screens. It was hilarious seeing my old friend in his skinny teenage days. He ain’t so skinny now.

Rafs and I wanted to wander to the other side of the ballroom where some of our other friends were. Where all the smug-marrieds were seated. We were placed on the “random” table. Single, unmarried, divorced dan lain-lain. But we couldn’t leave until we had the butter-fried cod! We know our priorites! I loved the chicken! I don’t know what the hell it was. It was coated with “golden sand”. What the?! I think it must’ve been a mix of paprika, salt & sugar granules. Anyway, it was very tasty. The cod was bad. They overcooked it and made the cod taste tough and leathery. What a waste. So after that disappointing dish, we waded through the hundreds of table, stopping every now and then when accosted by uncles and aunties with the usual “When is your turn?”, “Why you lost weight?” and “Why you put on weight?” All of us “young” people gathered at the foyer where Mr.Viva Yong was getting everyone to gulp down they’re drinks as usual. It was surreal catching up with all those who had caught the first boat. They all have kids, the wives still look great but the husbands are suffering from middle-age spread. After a couple of drinks we went back in to have our salted egg encrusted scallops and yuen yong fried rice. The scallops were divine! Salted egg is the best! Makes everything taste so rich and creamy. Dessert was hundred year happy union (literally translated!) with an added twist - peanut and sesame filled glutinous rice balls in the soup. Nice! They also served us petit fours. The green tea crusted jasmine flavoured chocolate was interesting! The first bite was shockingly bitter as the green tea powder coats your tongue and chokes you. Lethal stuff! But once you get past the shock, it was a very nice piece of chocolate. There were so many left. I hate seeing chocolate go to waste but what could I do? My handbag was far too small to ta pow.
After all the "adults" left, all of us put on our party hats and carried on in a very mild and civilised manner befitting of...well, adults. Sigh, I feel old.

Friday, October 06, 2006

As Time Goes By

Writing about Relish has forced my brain to regurgitate forgotten memories. The constant change in this city blurs my memory. And every time I tell myself to try to remember, I almost always forget as I get caught up with catching up, with myself, my friends, my family, work... It has certainly helped to have written journals for the most part of my life. I have endless pages of cringe-worthy, side-splitting and sometimes scandalous material to keep me company on rainy days. There were so many restaurants and bars that I have forgotten about. And all the silly things I used to get up to with my friends. What happened? Responsibilites and bills kicked in I suppose.

I remember when Bangsar happened and Alexis opened. We were there almost every night as we were back for summer hols. We didn't know it at the time but café culture was about to take off. I remember Ruiz, Coast and Wagamama's. That was the year after I came back to KL for good. That was when Edwinomoto had his friend visit from Germany and everybody was drooling over him while we slurped our udons at Wagamama's. There was Moussandra which was located on Jalan P. Ramlee at the time. Moussaka and paté. Yummy! There was also Citron at Filmnet and 255 (both on Jalan Ampang, next to British High Comm). 255 was a lovely fusion restaurant. The best 5-bean soup I ever had. It was perhaps not the best location at the time.

The next big haunt was probably Soho Grappa back in 2000. There were many, many dinners and on one occassion, a friend announced she was getting married! Just like that, over dinner. Friends broke up, several got married and we gave up on food so it seems, according to my writings. Sometime in middle of 2000, we were drinking instead of eating. Seems like we were shuttling from Echo to Bali to Barbarran to Rush to Movement every weekend. Consistently throughout the year, Citron on Persiaran Stonor was a regular hang out. That same year in October was when I saw a 4-figure food bill for the first time in my life. I was so confused I asked Edwinomoto if the amount, “1343” was actually the time. It was Kingfisher for Grumpy’s birthday and a friend had ordered snowcrab thinking it was 29.00. What he didn’t notice was the “per 100gm” next to the price. The crab was huge! His crab alone almost took up half the bill. That was the mother of all dinners. We still tease him about it today.

If I remember correctly, the first restaurant to open on Changkat Bukit Bintang was La Maschere - an Italian restaurant with a small theatre space upstairs. It was doing well until one of the partners ran off with all the money. It was quite the scandal. Little Havana opened shortly after across the road. After La Maschere closed, it became Liquid Kitty for awhile. Yes, the name says it all! Lame… Le Bouchon has obviously got the winning formula as the French restaurant has been in existence since 2002. I remember Long Island Tea Café(?). I remember walking down to get an iced tea during the nationwide blackout. They moved across the road to save rent. The place just wasn’t the same after that and became more like a dingy backpacker hangout. Not long after, they closed. There was also a Chinese restaurant called Six Yums that served up fantastic home-cooked dishes. It was cheap and cheerful, and they had the best sweet and sour pork and butter lai liu ha. Sadly it shut sometime in mid 2002. It became a greek-looking café for awhile. Now it is Ole Café. Next to it Deutsche Haus came to stay. As did Green Man. There was Le Bernardin which lasted longer than expected. It is now Al Bait. There was Euro that lasted for quite a while too and it is now Rouge. Noitatpmet which was Tempation spelt backwards (hardy har har) was a disaster. It became Aquavit and now it is Pampas. My favourite Indian for the most of 2003 Moghul House, is no longer. The partners parted, Copper Chimney came to be and Moghul was kicked over to Tengkat Tong Shin. Sadly, it didn’t survive for very long over there.

On the opposite side of the road, things didn’t change very much. In December 2001, Frangipani opened. Followed closely by Ciccio Pasticcio. Or were they first? Bom Brazil has lasted far longer than anyone expected it too. Kudos to them. I’m quite sure I’ve forgotten quite a few things. Feel free to jog my memory! Meanwhile, I look forward to reading my old journals tonight.

Update - Rouge and Copper Chimney are both closed now. Guess there will be new food reviews soon!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Relish The Thought

It was only a matter of time when somebody would open up a gourmet burger place. Just over 3 weeks old now, Relish is the latest restaurant to join the cosy Changkat Bukit Bintang neighbourhood. It has taken over Wine Cottage's lot on the corner between Pampas (formerly Aquavit) and Ceylon Bar (formerly Zino's). Its like a grand scale of musical chairs except with restaurants. Relish borders on being chi chi but thanks to the friendly staff, it becomes a whole lot less pretentious. Who ever heard of friendly wait staff in a posh restaurant? Blasphemous! The decor is minimalistic white with pretty chandeliers hovering over the bar. Upstairs, beautiful deco-esque chandeliers hang from the ceiling and sexy red sofas await the blessed behinds of people who prefer to drink. Good luck with coming down the steep and narrow staircase on teethering stilettos!
My homo and I were pleased that there were 2 different sizes for the burgers. It was in ounces which totally messed with our metric minds. So we did what we had to and ordered the bigger of the two which was a 10 oz. 6 oz just sounded so tiny. I ordered the Aussie-inspired burger which had fried egg, beef bacon, beetroot and pineapple. Homo ordered the smokey bbq. The burger was definitely meaty and moist but it lacked that smokey charred flavour that I love. I aslo felt the homemade tomato relish was just dismal. This one tasted like squashed fresh tomatoes. Disappointing. Its hard for me not to compare this burger to what I had in GBK in London. Except it was real bacon, the beetroot was sweet and the tomato relish was super nice! Homo really enjoyed his burger. I think his bbq sauce gave it the burger the smokey flavour that was missing. Right now the menu is still quite small. I guess they are still testing their customer's tastes. I would still go again. I have faith in the owner and I'm sure they will improve as time goes by. I'm off to London soon, can't wait to eat visit all the gourmet burger places. Yum!

The "P" Word

"When you first walk into Neroteca you would be forgiven for mistaking that you just walked into a delicatessen in New York or Rome. There are huge windows that let in natural light and shelves that stretch from floor to ceiling stacked with wine, water and all things Italian. Strings of air-dried sausages adorn the bar counter and what I like most of all is the heady aroma of freshly baked bread and unmistakable smokiness of grilled pork. The menu is comprehensive with a good selection of hearty soups, salads and sandwiches. The servings are generous and the flavours robust. Enjoy a hearty cagliata soup of red lentils and cotechino sausages or a plate of parma ham with rockmelon while you relax with your friends over a bottle of prosecco. And if you think a salad is not a meal, think again. The Piemontese salad has romaine lettuce, slices of grilled marinated chicken, mushroom trifolati (mushroom sautéed and steeped in oil, garlic and parsley), slivers of semi-dried parma ham, tomatoes, grilled vegetables and parmesan cheese tossed in a creamy caper vinaigrette. Never have I had a more satisfying salad. The philosophy here is simple, to serve up no-frills rustic Italian home cooking. And the best part about this place is that you can pick up all sorts of goodies for a meal for one to a slap-up dinner party. "
Excerpt from review for a local mag which is yet to be published. Pay me already!