Monday, December 31, 2007

Dainty Hill For Layyydies


Ok, I have to admit that I am already getting a little bored by the dining choices at Pavilion. Well maybe bored is not the right word. Its more restless than anything. Sometimes I just don't know what I feel like eating because and that is when I want nothing more than a bowl of comfort ala Dontaku. I'm still feeling a llittle sad and sore that Dontaku is no longer. Although I have heard that they have relocated to Midvalley. Thats as good as closed since I only go to Midvalley if I absolutely have to. Last Thursday after some ocha at Ochacha, we spotted two restaurants tucked away in a corner on the 6th Floor. Partly blocked by Big Apples Donuts, all I could see was char chan teng. That was enough to get me excited. Finally something fun and tacky. But while walking there, I was distracted by the restaurant, Dain Ti Hill, next to it which looked like a Japanese restaurant with its faux food display. I saw "pork" and what looked like a katsudon on the menu and the rest is history.

After we sat down I realise that it wasn't quite a Japanese restaurant. While the menu looks Japanese enough, I realise it might be a Taiwanese interpretation of Japanese. I have since seen their advertisement in the newspapers and they describe themselves first and foremost as "fine dining from the Tang Dynasty" and secondly as a modern fusion Chinese restaurant. Hmmm. Are you as confused as I am? I'm not sure which dishes were from the Tang Dynasty and since I did not live in that era nor am I an expert on Chinese cuisine, I will have to assume that it must be the vinegar. They have vinegar in almost everything and they even have it in their beverage list. We were not fans of their cucumber salad which was overpowered by the taste of vinegar. I did not like they way they cooked the spinach either. It had a slimey texture to it. The maki that we ordered sounded too tacky to miss. It was filled with crab stick, pork floss, rockmelon amongst other things and was heavily coated with mayo, mustard and cheese sauce. Crazeee! It tasted okay. There was too much rice and it was missing punch. First of all we couldn't even find the pork floss. I think there may have been just one single strand! Secondly with all the sauce on top, the filling was just secondary. Hot Mouse didn't really like his black pepper and garlic beef. It was quite tasty but the meat was pe
rhaps not very fresh.

But hey, I don't care because I loved my pseudo katsudon! Instead of being coated in batter, this pork cutlet was dipped in a semi-sweet batter that reminded me of pisang goreng. Through the entire meal, the batter remained crisp. Now thats a good babi goreng. I love the added flavour of shiitake and the rice was soaked with gravy and egg. Delicious! Hunky didn't really like it. He felt it was a tad sweet and too junky for him. All the better for me! Lastly, Hunky's chocolate frappe dessert (glorified ice blended chocolate in a martini glass) provided a nice refreshing finish to a thoroughly satisfying meal.

Dain Ti Hill is located on 6th Floor of Pavilion near TGIF. Dinner came up to RM125 incl. one soft drink and an extra portion of pork chop rice.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dragon-I-Am-Legend

 
If you didn't find me in Bangsar the past few weeks, you would've found me at my new playground Pavilion. Its not that I particularly enjoy hanging out in shopping malls but those darn Christmas carols and sparkly decorations make me want to buy, buy, buy! Tis the season to be spending, tralalala... When I wasn't buying presents, I would eat at a different restaurant each time. Last week some friends and I dined at Dragon-I before watching I Am Legend at the rather swanky looking GSC. The menu remains the same but I did manage to try a dish that I have never tried before which was the deep fried chicken cubes with dried chilli. I love the presentation and the colours seem to come alive. The fumes packed a punch too as we wriggled our nose as a result of the pungent chillies. I liked the dish. It was like popcorn chicken bits- very tasty and highly addictive. I ordered my usual wanton soup which arrived lukewarm. I would've preferred it piping hot as the air conditioning in Pavilion makes London seem warm. The siew long pau is still the same. Big and juicy but I think I've gotten over the whole dumpling thing. I also liked the stir-fried kai lan. I liked that it still had some bite to it and not dripping with oil. (Notice I'm still in full Christmas spirit with the red chillies and green veg)

The highlight of the evening was the egg tarts at John King. I thought I had these famous tarts from Hong Kong but evidently I was mistaken. The ones I tried was from Wellington Street and believe me when I tell you that they were not worth the walk. These ones at John King cost RM1.20 per tart. Fortunately one is really all you need as the flaky crust and smooth egg filling is richly satisfying. I also like the faint peanut taste in the crust and the mildly sweet filling. Gawd, I am sounding more and more auntie-like these days. Can't seem to stomach sugary sweet things anymore. Hey Ma, look at me! I'm all grown up! As for the movie, I thought the first half of the movie was great. It was eerie and depressing but then it went all Hollywood and down the drain. Shame really. 

Dragon-I and John King can be found around Food Republic in Pavilion.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, lalalalalala... I'm bad with lyrics but that has got to be one of my favourite carols apart from Mariah's All I Want For Christmas. I love this time of the year. If tis the season to be jolly and all fat people are jolly, its double the jollinity with a capital J! I think I've put on a kilo or two from Christmas Eve dinner at Hunky's and the big feast at lunch today. Last night we started off with a lovely tomato soup that had just a hint of cream so it wasn't too filling nor rich. Then it was roast beef with bernaise, roast potatoes, snow peas and pickled cucumbers. I helped myself to two portions. The potatoes were so moist and flavourful from all the beef fat, mmmm! I liked the cucumber pickle which help balance the richness of the beef. To top it off, we had a traditional rice pudding dessert with a hot cherry compote. My gawd, it was so rich. At the same time I couldn't stop eating the darn thing! And just when I thought I could eat no more, Aunty brought out (my favourite) her fruitcake in a biscuit and chocolate eclairs. The biscuit is basically a very thin and crisp biscuit with candied orange peel, nuts, fruit and spice. "Ugh", my stomach groaned as I continued stuffing my face.

This morning when I woke up, my stomach was no flatter than it had been the night before! And the only thing I could think of was, "Oh no, how am I going to eat some more today?" I busied myself with roasting vegetables and making the sauce for my homemade gnocchi. I made a tomato cream sauce with a good swig of brandy. I had also made chicken liver pate the day before. It was quite a fire hazard as I watched the saucepan of brandy catch fire. Oh the smell was lovely! Thyme, onions, bay leaf and brandy bubbling away. It definitely put me in a festive mood! There were presents, tears from children who had misplaced presents, food, food and more food. My mother's roast pork with pineapple sauce and mushroom sauce was a hit as usual. The turkey from Larisata was devoured within two hours. For dessert Cuz brought my favourite peanut butter cake from Le Meridien and Sis had made a delicious fruit cake which she has been lovingly dousing with alcohol for the past six months. I normally don't like fruit cake but I really liked the one this year as it had just the right amount of sweetness for me. As the day went on, people started to leave until there was just six of us. Rain started falling and the heat gave way to a cool evening. Some napped, the rest of continued talking and eating in between. Merry Christmas eveyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Roti Babi At Last!

You know how some people have a list of things to before they die? On mine was "try roti babi". It was just one of those things I took for granted because, well, its so nearby and it will always be there right? Kind of like my list of places to visit in Malaysia, namely Taman Negara and Sipadan. Anyway last Sunday, Cuz and I resumed our Cousin's Day after a long absence. Our visit to Bisou was thwarted by the fact that they had changed their opening times. They are now closed on Sundays and open on Mondays. It was a blessing in disguise as I suddenly remembered Yut Kee! It was crowded as expected with, strangely enough, a lot of people who looked like they just went jogging. Is there a jogging path around the area that I am not aware of? Is this another thing I need to add to my list? Yut Kee is a charming coffee shop. Faded photographs adorn weathered walls and furniture older than my parents still stand proudly among more recent purchases.

I ordered the roti babi while Cuz ordered hoi lam mai fun. She was a little disappointed when it arrived as it was not drowning in chup as she expected. Still, it was tasty. Really tasty if you know what I mean. It couldn't have been that bad because I wasn't all that thirsty after. I love mee hoon anyway. I haven't met a plate of mee hoon I didn't like. My roti babi arrived swiftly. It was lightly fried (yea who am I kidding?!) and the surface was golden and crisp. It was not oily at all which was surprising. It was interesting. There were slivers of pork, strips of Chinese sausage and even the odd piece of crab meat. Crab and pork is a wonderful combination! Even better with a dash of worcestershire! As much as I enjoyed it, its not something I see myself eating very often. Theres just something rather it that suggests "HEART ATTACK"! Perhaps thats why people jog before they eat. Ahhhh....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Never As A Dress, Better As A Curtain, Best As A Cake

What am I talking about? Red Velvet of course. Velvet in any shade as a garment went out of fashion as soon as everyone realised it was just about as flattering as shiny lycra. *Ahem*, I loved velvet in the 90's. I once, and only once, bought a rather form-fitting midnight blue velvet dress from Oasis/Warehouse/something like that. My god, looking back at the pictures - why didn't anyone tell me I looked like a seal!!! Actually, hand me some chopsticks and I could've passed for a walrus! Anyway, back to the cake. I first had Red Velvet cake in an overpriced bakery in Notting Hill back in 2004. (If you have trouble looking for the shop, look out for yummy mummies tripping over themselves to buy GBP1.30 cupcakes.) My sister was raving on and on about it so I had to try it. I didn't really see what the big deal was. I mean the colour provided shock factor and the creamy white icing was a starck contrast, strip away the slightly Christmasy feel and you'll be left with a weak tasting fluffy chocolate sponge with lots of colouring! Hunky baulked at the hefty price of GBP5.95 per slice. He refused to try it on principle that he was buying into that whole "Notting Hill bullshit". Well, more for me! It was a nice enough cake and the slice lasted three days. I like to average out the cost! Nah, I just couldn't bring myself to eat so much colouring at one go. Whether natural or otherwise. 

Anyway, if you would like to try this cake for yourself, you don't need to go to Notting Hill. At a fraction of the price, you may now enjoy a gorgeous red velvet cake (with cream cheese frosting) at Heavenly Pleasures. And while you are there, you might want to pick up some Christmas goodies. I love the stollen. There are cookies and mince pies, they even have panettone which is basically the Italian's version of Christmas pudding minus the stodginess. Go check it out!
Panettone - fresh from the oven!
Heavenly Pleasures is located at Plaza Damansara. For more details visit Just Heavenly

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crystal Jade at Pavilion

Boy I really enjoyed my dim sum lunch yesterday. After weeks of burgers, salads and such, these delicate morsels literally "touched my heart". I arranged to meet Hunky there and brought my nephew, Lamb, along with me. The little bugger is on school holidays and had wreaking havoc at home. I am basically the only person in the house he doesn't try to mess around with. So he was on his best behaviour when we arrived at the rapidly filling up Crystal Jade at Pavilion.

The waitress so happened to walk by with a tray of freshly baked char siu soh just as we sat down. I didn't think he would like it but it soon vanished! The pastry was flaky and warm. The exterior was lightly sprinkled with pork floss. It didn't add nor detract from the taste. The filling was nothing out of the ordinary but it a good balance between sweet and savoury. The both of them liked it so much we ordered a second portion. I've never seen the boy eat so much!

The har gow was chopped up pieces of prawn wrapped in a translucent skin. It was not too tasty which was great because it meant that there no/little msg. It was springy in texture which is always a good thing. The deep fried prawn dumpling with mayo was crispy and not oily. Thumbs up for not reeking of stale oil! The best dish of the day for me was the hor yip fahn. Very nice! Fragrant, moist and flavourful. I've been having trouble remembering where I had good hor yip fahn last. I was embarassingly insistent at Li Yen during my last visit. I suddenly remember it was in Hong Kong! Duh... We also had char siu cheong fun which was not quite as delicate as I would've liked it to be but it was tasty nonetheless. I didn't try the char siu pau as I sacrificed my portion for Lamb. Judging from this picture, I think he had a jolly good time. We will be returning for more dim sum! Bill came up to RM62.45

Other reviews - Boolicious

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ooohpuma!

I have an addictive personality. That is not to say that you can't get enough of me once you get to know me. Although that may be true, I'm really too modest to admit it. What I mean to say is that I tend to get completely blind-sided by my desire to obtain something whether bag, man or food. Its a trait I inherited from my late-father. I remember we would go through weeks, literally weeks, of eating the same darn thing. One time it was peking duck in Tong Shin, another time it was prawns in Cheras, then grilled squid in Pudu and even todhi from Seremban.

So it was no surprise that I was hooked from the first time I tried uppuma at the canteen at work several years back. It was curiousity that made me try this stodgy thing that looked suspiciously like baby food. One bitten, I was smitten! I love the flavour of mustard seeds and onions coming through with each bite. And the buttery aromatic taste of ghee hit me like a hazy spell. It was a bit of a love-hate relationship by the end of it. I loved eating it but hated putting on weight. I had to have it everyday. I would even ask the canteen lady in the morning if she would be making it in the afternoon. She also made fantastic curry puffs but thats another story. After I left work, I actually lost 2kgs just from not eating uppuma and all the other tea time treats. Or maybe I was just heartbroken that I couldn't have uppuma anymore.
I didn't actively search for it as I visited mamaks less and less over the years. However, recently work has brought me to Bangsar every (freaking) day. And I have since discovered uppuma at Nirvana Maju. Imagine, it was right under my nose all this time! I've had maggi goreng, masala thosai and nasi lemak but it never occured to me to order uppuma. Anyway, it was one of those days when we had to meet in Bangsar for breakfast. For no other explanation except that it was indeed a sign from heaven, I asked for uppuma. Ten minutes later, my long lost love arrived on a banana leaf. It was possibly even nicer than the one at the canteen simply because this one had the added flavour of curry leaves. It added a new dimension to this simple sugee (semolina) dish. Anyway, I've tested the consistency over the past couple of months. It tastes best in the mornings (before 9am) when its fresh and warm. I made the mistake of ordering it once near lunch time. The texture felt like it had been reheated in the mircowave. The dahl is also lovely and thick at Nirvana, as is their coconut chutney. RM3 (RM1 for teh halia) vs RM9 for once cup of Starbucks coffee. No contest really.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Secret

Everyone has a secret. Some are more explosive than others. Mine is a secret so sacred and wonderful that I feel the need to share it. I belong in a cult. Every year a small number of chosen elite meet with our leader, simply known as Mrs H. It is the highest honour a member can hope to achieve. To be hand picked, oh, the joy at the golden promises that awaits! This year was no different. The newly refurbished HQ was even more intimate than the previous location. The three of us who were chosen knew that it was going to be a very special occasion indeed. The skies were grey at noon when we arrived. Ms O came to greet us. I had brought a sacrificial durian cheesecake for Mrs H. The creamy beast appeases Mrs H and I knew I would be well looked after.

So this is my big secret, gathering to eat the best nasi lemak in town. This photo does not do it justice as it was taken in great haste, I feared my rival Mr C was about to finish all the sardine sambal before I could try it! The fluffy coconut rice is perfectly cook with just a hint of pandan. I love eating it with the sweet and spicy anchovy sambal, crunchy peanuts and crispy anchovies. And who knew sardine could taste so lovely in a sambal? This particular one is more tomato based with barely any chilli in it. Mrs H also made her signature mini pegedil. That picture may look like a small serving but I had three helpings. I only stopped because everyone had stopped. I didn't want to look like the biggest glutton at the table! I could've kept eating and eating. I guess what makes this nasi lemak special for me is because Mrs H only makes it once a year and I feel very lucky to be invited.

Thank you Mrs H for the lovely meal!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Hunky

I've been waiting for a nice cool day to attempt my portugese egg tarts. Yesterday afternoon was perfect. Didn't it feel like London? It was all grey by 2pm. Anyway, I had made the egg mixture the night before with cream, eggs and vanilla pod. It was so delicious I wanted to just eat it on its own. I restrained and left the mixture to cool. Today, I watched the oven in horror. I think I made a grave error with the puff pastry as the oil from the pastry bubbled away, "deep-frying" my custard filling in the process! What the?! The recipe said I had to roll it up and flatten it out but I was told by a friend that you aren't suppose to roll out puff pastry. Sigh. Anyway, the result was soggy, oily pastry filled with delicious custard. What a shame. I tried to crisp up the pastry by putting them back into the oven again. It was a little better but I am too put off by the oil to eat the rest. Will definitely try it again rolling up the pastry this time.

I also baked a chocolate pavlova for Hunky's birthday. Sigh, if only sponge cakes were as easy to bake! I'd rather bake 10 pavlovas at one go than to make a sponge cake again. Click here for the recipe from The Domestic Goddess herself. I would advice for anyone attempting the recipe to reduce the sugar a little. It was just a little too sweet despite the cream and tart strawberries. I also only baked it for 40 minutes so the centre was like gooey marshmallow. Simply divine! I just had a slice for breakfast!

We had a small dinner at home for Hunky. Sis made beef wellington. She has made a vow to keep making it until she gets it as perfect as Gordon Ramsay's, much to Hunky's delight. I made my usual fabulous roast potatoes baked with bacon fat instead of the usual duck fat and buttered brussel sprouts with crispy bacon. We were all so full and happy that by 10:30, we were all ready to pass out. Ah, I had the best sleep ever!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sesame + Soy = Fusion at G Hotel

I have so many entries to catch up on but I can hardly spare the time. Right now, I'm taking a break as I to retreat to my happy place. No, I'm not at Overseas devouring char siu. Okay, second happy place, reminiscing about food. I just realised I've only posted one entry from my Penang trip. When I read about the G Hotel in a design magazine, I was impressed by the contemporary design of the lobby with its sleek designer furniture decorating a long rectangular space. I had also heard many good things about their fusion restaurant Sesame + Soy. If the hotel itself was anything to go by, I should've lowered my expectations for the restaurant. The picture is beautiful from far, up close you notice the details are missing. I for one, have a problem swimming in a pool that overlooks a construction site. Correction, where a constuction site overlooks the swimming pool. My first impression was already tainted when they couldn't find my reservation and then the room wasn't ready. It took almost 3/4 of an hour to check-in. We checked out the next day and moved to a less styled, more substance kind of hotel. However, if your idea of a holiday is shopping then by all means, G Hotel would be perfect. Its located right next to Gurney Plaza and you can have your Starbucks, McD's, cinema, F.O.S, Chilli's and other things you might be missing from Kuala Lumpur. Before we left, we dined at Sesame + Soy. Sesame offers a Chinese fusion menu while Soy (dinner only) is a fine dining Chinese restaurant.

Hunky ordered a fresh spring rolls with duck and mango chilli chutney which was a little on the bland side. We only ordered it because of the chutney but guess what? Its not a chutney when you have chopped mango swimming in bottled Thai chilli sauce. I supposedly had corn chowder with sesame crusted chicken. If I wanted Campbell's can soup, I would've bought one from the supermarket next door. Where is the corn? It was more like cream of cream soup. However, the sesame crusted chicken was fragrant and tasty. Hah, its all coming back to me now.

My grilled coffee and cocoa pork ribs sounded a lot more interesting than it tasted. First of all, it ain't grilled. It was definitely fried. Secondly, the sauce was too subtle and undefined. I think they should've gone all out with a strong and bittersweet sauce instead of an apologetic version which ended up tasting like mild kicap pekat. It was tender and tasty but not what I expected. The garlic fried rice was superb tho. Hunky's roasted belly pork spaghetti is the most popular item on the menu. I can see why. Siew yoke low meen instead of siew yoke fahn. Simple dish guaranteed to sell. The belly pork was very good. Warm and tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. After the slightly disappointing starter and main course, we had hoped dessert save the meal. It wasn't wow enough to save the say but it was pretty good. Gula melaka creme brulee with coconut ice cream. The creme brulee was lovely and smooth with a hint of gula melaka. Very nice. The coconut ice cream was a little overwhelming for me.

Would I go again? There are so many other fantastic things to eat and if I wanted fine dining, I would stay in KL so I doubt I would. Having said that, do try their set lunch at RM22++. The friends who recommended the restuarant both had their set menu on separate occasions. So, maybe the magic lies in the set. Also, you get a 15% discount with HSBC card. We paid RM78 for our meal with the discount.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Feasting Festival

What a night! I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival gala launch. And if you think the event's name is a mouthful, it was nothing compared to what was hidden behind the ballroom doors at One Hotel in Bandar Utama. Over 2000 people turned up for the event, 30 restaurants participated with over 90 courses in one glorious night. I was incredibly tempted to wear elasticated pants but the dress code stated "Evening Gown". Good thing I ignored it as I would've been hideously overdressed. People sure have a strange idea of what an evening gown should be. We were kept waiting for over an hour as the guest of honour was late as usual. People were puffing on cigars and chugging down the free booze.

Finally the doors to the ballroom were open and all the kiasu people rushed forward to get in. Shameless! It was certainly festive as all the chefs from the participating restaurants danced to the beat of beating saucepans and pots up on stage. My friend and I made our way to the far side of the ballroom where there wasn't as many people. Turned out to be Senses, Chynna and Iketeru from Hilton. The first thing I picked up from the dozens of canapes before me was chocolate mousse from Senses (bottom left). It had an incredibly light and velvety texture but the taste was out of this world. Intense without being overpowering. Served with a mound of what looked like chocolatey gravel which added a lovely crunch to the soft mousse. (bottom right, chilled scallops with mayonaise)We then went over to Lafite and sampled a foie gras and... Well, I'm not sure what it was! It was like eating foie gras sandwiched between two delicately crisp gingerbread cookies. Interesting. The cheese flavoured marshmallow bordered on being a little nauseating. Thankfully, it was a very small piece. It was like eating Japanese cheesecake but sweeter. I also tried a pearl oyster which was actually a small bead of oyster essence placed in an oyster shell. It may have looked interesting but it tasted like salty fishy water. The rest of the night was a bit of a blur as we sampled, slurped, tasted and gorged on canape after canape. There were quite a few Chinese restaurants and they all offered almost the same thing, prawns and scallops. Boring. Funnily enough, what really stood out was Novotel's Chinese Muslim restaurant. I loved their cold chicken with jellyfish. Very tasty! We also fell in love with Qba's chocolate and jalapeno truffles. Absolutely sinful! The jalapeno added a really nice kick to the dark velvety chocolate.Above left, one of the many Chinese restaurants. Right, lovely mouth-wateringly tender lamb from Sagar

While everyone tried to out do each other with their fancy booths and food presentation, the clear winner for the evening for me and my friend was Chalet, Hotel Equatorial. They were the only people who served warm food in miniature portion. They served hot soup in a mini bun bowl but the roast beef! Ah the roast beef... It was perfectly cooked, rare in the middle, and served with caramelised shallots and mushroom gravy. Divine! I hope I get invited again next year and I'll remember to wear sensible shoes and a dress with pockets so I don't need to carry my handbag!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Some Hot Stove Lovin'

No, its not a Halloween monster. Those are my lamingtons!

The weather has been cold, wet and drab. Hang on, am I back in London? It sure feels like it. I like nothing more than to curl up in bed listening to the sound of rain beating on the roof. It's also the perfect weather for making pastry. I don't have a air-conditioned kitchen so handling pastry is tricky and usually done on a cool night. I had my heart set on making portugese egg tarts this weekend but what did I do? I forgot to buy puff pastry and couldn't be arsed going out again. Feeling slightly deflated, I came across Bill Granger's recipe for lamingtons instead. I love lamingtons. I could eat half a dozen of these fluffy sponges. Its the simplicity that I love. Well also when you cut them open, they look like those 80's Colgate advertisements, you know, the one with the chalk? I also like Dolly Mixture for this same reason. I bought a bag recently hoping to rekindle some childhood memories but they are well and truly nasty. I am sure they did not taste as synthetic as they do now. Anyway, the fluffy sponge squares are dipped lightly in chocolate and sprinkled with grated coconut. Simple but tricky! I have not made a single successful sponge. Oh wait, just one I think. I find sponges more temperamental than any souffle or pavlova. This time was no exception, the sponge was a little tough but at least it was tasty. I was so disappointed by them that I wasn't really paying attention when it was time to dip them in chocolate. The result was a rather messy and wet looking lamington! Oh well...

For dinner, I made Nigel Slater's zucchini cakes with dill and feta, mashed potato, bangers from Rawlin's and caramelised onions. The zucchini cakes were a hit. I actually thought the dill was overpowering. I know why my family liked it, because they were fried! They usually run away at my attempts to cook healthily. For the bangers, instead of frying the onions like I usually do, I decided to bake them with some sugar and balsamic vinegar. It was a nice change but not necessarily better. We ended the night with my luscious chocolate chip cookies which are so rich and heavy that I can only eat one! On a separate note, Hunky has recently acquired a new item to his list of recipes - Gordon Ramsay's Lemon Tart. Gone are the days where he would "cook" me fajitas from El Paso for dinner. I now enjoy various risottos and the occasional lemon tart. It is simply divine! The pastry was crisp like a deliciously fresh biscuit and the lemon curd was only just set and perfectly tart! Mmmm....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Journey Home

It has been so blissfully quiet in the city as city dwellers return home for the holidays. Couple of weeks before the traffic on the roads started, I took the opportunity to journey back to Ipoh; the hometown of my parents, home to the most beautiful women and more importantly ngah choy kai (bean sprout chicken). I am grateful for the NKVE which makes the journey much easier but this time round, I found myself reminiscing about the slow and windy drive on the old roads through dusty old towns. Its been awhile since I had a chicken biscuit from Bidor. I always prefered the ones at Kampar but obviously no one else feels the same way. Not so pleasant memories of second-hand smoke and Tom Jones also cropped up in between. I was incredibly hungry by the time I had finish imaginary eating over 1 hour and 45 minutes. We headed straight into old town. For the first time it struck me as odd that my favourite coffee shop , Tien Chun, served custard. Not custard like Bird’s Eye or Ambrosia but crème caramel. How random!

I found myself really enjoying my kai si hor fun. Funnily enough, I never really liked this particular one but father and grandfather used to frequent this place so I never stopped to question. Just like how I never questioned why the “chicken” satay here tasted so different from everywhere else. You know it was only about 10 years ago that I found out it was pork? This is one time when I prefer chicken over pork. Anyway, for awhile I stopped coming here to eat because I found I always felt queasy after. This time was no exception but I found it tasted better than I remembered. This is the original kai si hor fun for me after all. Old Town White Coffee is a good substitute but is a substitute no less. The noodles are smoother than a baby’s bottom and the broth sweeter than a lover’s promise. We also had the customary satay, popiah and chee cheong fun. I am carrying on a family tradition after all. We finish lunch with a plate of chilled custard. It is still as egg-y as always. I still don’t like it but I eat it anyway for old times sake. It just wouldn’t feel right ending the meal without it. I order 6 more to bring with us and we head home with our tray of wobbly custards in tow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rolling With The Sushi

I like Pavilion. When it was coming up, I thought “Why on earth do we need another shopping mall?” Well, I still believe we don’t need it but it is quite fun to have around especially now that my favourite KLCC has become too cramped with people of late. Pavilion is so shiny and new. I love the drama-rama staircase leading down to the concourse and the overall spacious feel to the place. All my favourite shops are there including Kiehl's! And one more reason to visit, my favourite sushi bar from London, Yo! Sushi. Its certainly not as trendy and clubby, flashback to robotic trolleys and strobe lights in Portland Street, but the menu is equally as expensive and creative with tonnes of variety to suit almost everyone.

Anything worth eating is over RM8 per plate, and you only get two pieces of futomaki on each plate. Seeing that I am *ahem* Head Of Maki, I took the liberty of sampling an array of makis for research. We ordered a few makis and a salad to begin with. The food was a little slow but we busied ourselves figuring out the dishes as they rolled by on the conveyer belt and watched with wonder as the chefs perilously chop all kinds of vegetables at lighting speed. We picked up a spicy chicken katsu (above right) but it tasted suspiciously like pork. Talk about wishful thinking. It was very tasty and I love the unmistakable breaded texture of the fried chicken.

Next was crispy duck and moromi miso maki (above left). The duck was tasty but it definitely was not crispy despite being freshly wrapped in its rice cocoon. Cuz liked it very much because of the salty sweet brown rice miso sauce. I left her to it while I devoured the sesame seared salmon (above middle) which was barely seared and more like sesame crusted salmon sashimi. Very fragrant and I like the crunchy texture of the sesame with the tender salmon.

Salmon dragon roll (below left) was the clear winner of the day. It was filled with crabstick, avocado, shichimi (chilli powder) and topped with a fat slice of salmon sashimi. The combination may not be new or exciting but it was remarkably fresh which really made the difference. The first runner up was the soft shell crab with yuzu tobiko (below middle) with sweet chilli mayonnaise. We loved the Japanese pickles which lent a crunchy texture and salty sweet taste to the yummy roll. We also tried their sesame salmon salad (below right) with gently poached gai lan, bean sprouts and sesame dressing. It was super chilled and lovely on a hot day.

The last dish we had was takoyaki. I never really understood what the big fuss was about. I might as well dip some doughnuts into mayonnaise. This deep fried carbohydrate ball had a minuscule piece of octopus in the middle and was spiked with a fruity katsu sauce, red ginger, mayo and bonito flakes. Cuz felt there wasn’t enough mayo and I have to agree with her. I mean its just not junky enough without the mayo. I just thought it was a bit pointless and I'd rather save the calories as there are so many other more exciting dishes to try.

There are assorted ramens which look slurpishly delicious from RM10-14 in dashi miso broth for those of you who prefer a hot meal. Miso soup and green tea are priced at rm5 per bowl but you are entitled to unlimited refills. Do go check it out if you are feeling extravagant and rich. Our meal cost RM90! Yo! Sushi is located on the lower ground floor next to Food Republic.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Reunion

The heavens parted and light shone from above to reveal the gift from above.

I've been spending a lot of time in Bangsar recently and have taken the opportunity to try every single restaurant at Bangsar Village. Apart from Suchan and coffee bars, I think I've done them all. And I wonder why I have trouble buttoning up my jeans. I've always felt that Bangsar has lost the plot somewhat with the emergence of bar after bar in the past 10 years, the food quality started to suffer and apparently there was also shortage of fabric as skirts started getting shorter and shorter. I am not a big drinker and tend to stay far, far away from smokey night spots. Then came Bangsar Village and it breathed new life and fresh air into the area. Still, there maybe a lot of mediocre bistros and chi-chi cafes but proper restaurants are hard to come by in Bangsar.

Especially a good Chinese restaurant. There were rumous of Dragon-i opening but in the end it was the people from Yi Garden in Bangsar Shopping Centre that secured a coveted spot in Bangsar Village 2. It seems restaurants only get more designed with designer names to match. Reunion is such a place. Spot lights cast a halo upon the surface of each table while the surrounding area is saturated in shadow across dark wooden floors. Certainly not Chinese in the traditional sense. Where is the red, gold and bright fluorescent lights? We were served the customary boiled peanuts and an additional spicy pickled lotus root.

The lunch menu looked promising the moment we noticed the char siu, siew yoke and yue chee on the menu. There was a good variety of one-plate dishes for singletons and many choices on the ala carte for the more hungry. I decided to order a simple dish of char siu & wanton noodles. I figured if they can't get their char siu right, I would never come back again anyway. Lucky for me, it was pretty darn beautiful. It was a little more fatty to what I would've prefered but my, it melted like butter in my mouth. The wantons resembled small prawns bricks. A little too coarse and dense for my liking. The noodles were springy but a little too tasty if you know what I mean. It was a tad heavy on the msg but I've had worse. Sis, who did not partake in the pork and msg that day, returned with the family for dinner. They were not impressed and said the food was a mere "okay" which means they will never go again. Usually my family will go on and on about what a fantastic meal I missed. I'll probably go back and try their other lunch specials despite the msg. Its just comforting to know I can tuck into some char siu if I ever start to feel faint in Bangsar.

Reunion is located on the third floor of Bangsar Village 2. Expect to pay around RM20++ per person for lunch.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ba Da Bing!

Digging through my pictures I discovered I forgot to blog about a charming little cafe I visited in Kuching called Bing!. It was "handed-down" to my good friend Sabby by one of her friends who was the original owner of the place. I recall broken threads of the story behind the name. I think it was something to do with Friends, the tv series. Self-explanatory really unless you are not a fan of the hit show. Bing! is not quite Central Perk but it has a warm and welcoming feel when you walk into the place. Low sofas you never want to get up from dominate the front while the smokers get to sit out back and listen to the sounds of trickling water. Wish there were more places like this in KL instead of the usual crappy coffee chains. The coffee is good and the chocolate tiramisu took me by surprise. I am pretty jaded when it comes to tiramisu. Its been so done to death that I can't help but yawn everytime I see it on the menu. You know its bloody commercial when Wall's latest ice-cream is "tira-miss you". Barf! Still, Sabby was creator of this alcohol-free (ironic really when she is not alcohol-free 70% of the time) and chocolatey version so I had to give it a try. It wasn't quite tiramisu in the traditional sense but a light and tasty cake nonetheless. It was lovely with the hot cup of smooth and aromatic coffee. Did I mention they also have wireless? So do drop by the next time you are in Kuching. Bing! is located at 84 Jalan Pandungan, Chinatown. Daily from 10am-midnight.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Taste of El Bulli via Lafite

I really liked Ratatouille the movie. Food is always an evocative subject matter for me. To see the colours and details on big screen was inspiring and heart warming to say the least. I especially love the jaded food critic Anton Ego. I can relate to this funny man. In the movie, Anton imparts some wise words, "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new". Which brings me to my question, has anyone been to El Bulli? I want to taste the new version of the old and vice versa. I want my taste buds to wake up once more.

I know a couple who were lucky, or patient, enough to secure a reservation albeit 2 years in advance. They said it was exciting for the first few courses but the novelty soon wore off as the courses became a regurgitation of the same basic principles. Unfortunately I won't know for myself as I am a subscriber to instant gratification so I won't be putting my name down. Besides, it seems a little extravagant to fly somewhere for a meal. Fortunately for us mere mortals, we can now try a slice of El Bulli via Kevin Cherkas in Lafite, Shangri-la Hotel.

I can't say I was expecting much as it would be hard to anticipate the unusual. Actually I lie, of course there were expectations. For one thing, it is Lafite. Malaysia's first fine dining restaurant. And two, this chef has trained under the genius Adrian Ferria himself. So yes, I expect to be wowed. So while I am excited by Kevin Cherkas, I am also acutely aware that I have little faith in hotel restaurants. Upon walking in, we were greeted by what can only be described as a perspex carousel mounted with a lot of fancy danfangle accompanying a plethora of canapes. Talk about mouthful. We were seated and asked to pick our main course. We decided that one of us should try Kevin's signature dish which was a miso cod. It sounded so 90's to me but I thought it maybe a different interpretation based on his knowledge from El Bulli. I made Hunky order it while I ordered the shepherd's pie with wagyu beef, onion caramel and mash.

The carousel was colourful and held so much promise as I studied each little canapé of a starter. There were shotglasses of pink and tangerine froth which turned out to be just guava and orange juice with froth on top. Was it meant to clean your palate? And not even freshly squeezed. Leftovers from the buffet breakfast? There was sliced roast chicken with tomato compote and banana. I’m sorry to say, chicken will always taste like chicken, banana or not. Seared tuna slices with pineapple. Dry and forgettable. Sesame-crusted watermelon teriyaki which I nearly overlooked because I thought it was some sort of classy bengka ubi. Fresh and delicious. Apricot compote with cheese mousse. Rich and intense. Buns filled with what tasted like minced chicken with a thick peanut butter sauce. Was he channeling Nigella? Asparagus salad with mayo and grapefruit. Crisp and clean. A truffle flavoured egg sandwiched carefully wrapped with thin slices of salmon. Cleverly presented and tasty, good trick to stop the bread from drying out. Poached prawn with an extremely tangy broth. Mouth-puckeringly good. A mussel and prawn skewer served with a separate dropper filled with sweet chilli sauce. Less show, more bang please. It was a good assortment of canapés but I didn’t come to eat ordinary canapés. Has Kevin’s artistic license been revoked by the management? Or is it just my jaded taste buds speaking?

Our main course arrived swiftly. It is stated very clearly in the menu that the maximum wait for the main course is 10 minutes. My shepherd's pie was beautiful. It was simple, rustic and the meat was absolutely breathtaking. I only managed half of it as it was so rich. Hunky’s cod on the other hand left me less than impressed. It was slightly overcooked and bland. Shocking really. The simple steamed one upstairs at Shang Palace would’ve been miles better.

I am convinced dessert was not prepared by Kevin because there was something about it that screamed "Buffet!". We didn’t get a choice of dessert which was unfortunate because it was far too heavy after that main course. There was a dark chocolate souffle which was neither light nor airy. A "warm" creme brulee which the wait staff tried to bullshit me about. A super velvety chocolate mousse. And my favourite of the plate, a dense chocolate tart with whole hazelnuts. Dessert did not sit well with the wagyu. Overall, I would give the food a 7/10. I have no doubt Kevin can cook, if only the management would just him do his thang. So my first foray to the world of molecular gastronomy was a tad disappointing. It wasn't what I was expecting which was a new representation of the old and familiar.

What was truly unacceptable was the level of service. The wait staff we had did not have a clue about the dishes. The explanations should’ve been so well rehearsed that he would've anticipated my questions. Besides, I wasn’t asking anything unreasonable. I simply enquired about the lamb loin main course. I wanted to how the corn was prepared. If He said “Two types of preparation. Er…Ah…Its like ah…I also don’t know how to explain it to you”. If you are going to be clever and place "cornX2" on the menu, the least you could do is to brief your staff properly. And another waiter told me that the creme brulee was mango pudding. Really, need I say more? At RM68++, I'd rather pay a little more and head on over to Cilantro's for their super popular lunch (available only on Fridays, wait list approx. 2 weeks). Maybe Air Asia will be flying to Europe in two years, maybe I should make a reservation.

For a more pleasant take, visit FatBoy's blog.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Catching Up

I know I keep saying this but honestly! Time really does fly! Has it really been over two weeks since my last post? I've just been busy catching up with friends who were visiting. One of them, Deng, is moving to NY with her hubby. So over the past couple of weeks, we've been trying to cram as much eating time possible as she doesn't know when she will be back next. Deng is a huge fan of all things chicken. Fried chicken, KFC, chicken rice, salted chicken and more. One of her all-time favourite haunt is Madam Kwan's for their nasi bojari. I've been to MK twice in a week. Thats more than I've ever been in the past year. Come to think of it, the last time was when she last visited! I don't have anything against MK. Its convenient, relatively cheap and fast. But with so many other new and better restaurants, it has fallen off my restaurant radar. The nasi bojari is still very good. The chicken is always perfectly seasoned and crispy. The beef rendang is so tender that it just falls apart like candy floss. The prawn sambal is still the weakest of the three, tasting more like water than prawn. I just remembered why I stopped going. There was one time when we were being bitten to death by mosquitos. When we asked the staff to do something about it, they plonked a can of Shelltox on the table and walked away. What the?!

I also met up with Hot Mouse at Marmalade. He felt like cupcake being the big girl that he is. I keep forgetting about this cafe. Its a charming little place for mums with kids. Which probably explains why I never think about going to this cafe. I love the mural especially the chick on roller blades. I can imagine kids must love it even more. We both ordered watermelon juice with mint and lime. And we shared one large peanut butter cupcake and two small ones. We both love the soft and fluffy texture of the small cupcakes. I could've easily popped 10 into my mouth. The peanut butter failed to impressed. The texture was a tad dry and coarse. For the sake of research (yea right), we ordered one more cupcake. It was a lemon cupcake with lemon frosting. The texture was soft and fluffy but the taste of lemon was too subtle for me. The bill came up to under RM30 which was surprising. The drinks must've been about RM10++ each which meant that the cupcakes came up to less than RM7. Gasp! Is that possible?! What is more shocking that I find myself thinking how cheap that is.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fukuya Revisited

Tonight I had the priviledge of dining with the company of blogosphere's most luscious women -Boolicious, Lyrical Lemongrass and BabeKL. We gathered at Fukuya for BabeKL's initiation to JFKA and my belated birthday celebration. Over a 6-course Kaiseiki dinner, we mulled over ingredients, nibbled (yes, nibbled because FOUR of us shared ONE kaiseiki set) at our food and caught up with food gossip. I won't blog about Fukuya again as I'm sure the other three luscious creatures will be updating their blogs soon enough. Instead, I just want to thank them for a wonderful dinner and getting a lovely moist chocolate cake from Just Heavenly. I loved the slight citrus tang in the icing. We were also given a scoop of macha ice cream. At least I think it was complimentary? It was very creamy with just a hint of green tea. I'm not a fan of green tea ice cream anymore. I think I overdosed on those numerous occasions where I used to gorge myself at Japanese buffets. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

Thank you LL for the lovely pair of earrings. Boolicious has promised me cupcakes which I dreamt about. What more could a girl ask for? I am one happy and lucky girl... Oh, and for all things mochi, macha and ocha, please refer to our newly appointed Head of Chi-cha-cha, BabeKL!


Monday, September 03, 2007

Super Supper

My best friend from school, Hogey, is visiting from Oz. She is getting married in March next year and I am to be bridesmaid for the fourth time. Luckily, I'm not the superstitious sort. I would even go as far to say that I deliberately seek out opportunities to challenge it. Hit me with a number 4 baby, yea! Is that a ladder I'm walking under? Yea, I love living dangerously. Rebel without a cause, yup thats me. You know, sometimes when I'm feeling especially adventurous, I even venture out of my comfort zone and agree to have dinner in obscure places like Peejay. Tonight was such a night. Technically it wasn't quite PJ, not in the chaotic and irrational town planning sense. It was really TTDI, at the shop lots near Damansara Specialist Centre. It was pissing down and we had a interesting ride in the Kelisa. That car was not built to be driven on highways when it is raining. Still, we made it in one piece to Super Tanker. Yes, that is the name of the Chinese restaurant. Hey, theres De Foodland, Elegant Inn, so why not Super Tanker?!

It was brimming with families halfway through dinner when we arrived at 8:30pm. CW had done the ordering as she frequents this restaurant. She said that this was one of the better Chinese restaurants in the area. The food here is definitely tasty and reminiscent of homecooking. The special of the night was stewed pork ribs with potatoes. It arrived in a claypot and tasted like something my mum would make at home. Intensely comforting, the meat was tender and the soft floury potatoes made me want to curl up my feet and go to sleep. The fried chicken was tender and crispy. It came with a cuttlefish-infused sauce with chilli, mint and onions. Fantastic with white rice. The steamed garoupa fillets were slightly overcooked and tasted very faintly of mud. Some pieces tasted better than others though. I really loved the caramelised prawns! It was sweet, salty and springy all at once. The other dish which I thought was very good was the tofu. It was layered with fish cake and I don't even like fish cake! Somehow this particular dish worked for me. The springy texture of the fish cake was perfect when combined with the soft tofu. Topped with crispy shallots and thick soy sauce, it was a dish I wanted to eat over and over again. Oh, the claypot salted fish and belly pork slices was fantastic! It was salty and spicy with just a hint of mandarin peel. Think it might be better than Overseas! I had to stop myself from ordering a second bowl of rice. All that lovely gravy, sigh...

We also had kangkong belacan which I did not get around to trying. I just don't enjoy eating it anymore. There was also squid stir-fried with salted egg yolk. It was a little oily and not as fragrant as it should've been. It was quite a lot of food but at the same time I wasn't bursting at the seam. The bill came up to be quite expensive because of the prawns and fish. It was RM290 (RM130 for the fish and prawns) including two beers, orange juice and coke. I guess I would go back again when I'm in the neighbourhood again. It was a pleasant change to Overseas. Ah, but no char siu!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sizzling September

I couldn't have picked a better day to have friends over for a barbecue. The sky was as blue as Siti's contact lenses. At some point the day it did start to feel rather hot and still but all the better for drinking ice cold Pimm's and vodka jelly shots. Even more perfect still for Nigella's watermelon and feta salad. I've been wanting to try this salad ever since I watched her make it on tv. The fusion of ingredients piqued my interest. And the best part is that its dead easy. Simply toss cubed watermelon, crumbled feta, finely sliced red onions, flat leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped black olives and mint together with the juice of 2-3 limes. I used limau kasturi instead which is not as sharp as lime. She also adds olive oil but there really isn't any need. It was just perfect! It was tangy, sweet, juicy, herbaceous and refreshing. Perfect for a hot summers day.

We also had sausages, smokey bbq beef kebabs, honey & mustard chicken kebabs, tamarind prawns and grilled brandied pineapples. I bought the sausages from Fogal in Plaza Damas. They were almost sold out when I went to buy them on Wednesday. Guess everybody was preparing for the long weekend. I managed to get hold of some Italian sausages and chicken sausages. The Italian sausages were a combination of pork and beef and they had a lovely and spicy aroma to them. The chicken sausages were not very good. The ones from Rawlins is much better. These were very dry and full of bread crumbs. It was disappointing especially since I paid so much for them.

We ended the evening with a super rich peanut butter cake from Le Meridien. Its creamy and crispy all at once. Oh it was so good but I struggled to finish my tiny slice. Must try if you are a peanut butter fan. Anyway, its late and I've been awake for far too long. I had a lovely day and received many wonderful presents from my dear friends. Thank you for your thoughtful sms, you know who you are. I have some cake left which I will be eating for breakfast. Mmmm...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another SoHo

Last weekend Rafs and I found out we are no longer the spring chickens that we thought we were. Unwilling to admit we were sick, we tried climbing an overhang and both ended up with a sprained shoulder instead. There are times when I really feel my arm might just pop out of my shoulder as I tend to hyperextend as a result of bad climbing mixed with laziness. Anyway, feeling like we really needed a treat, we wandered over the far end of the old wing towards One World Hotel and ended up at SoHo for dim sum. I wonder if they are the same people behind Bread Story since the sign board also reads "by Jun".

There is only one word that can describe this place appropriately – bright! The sparse white interior spruced with black lacquer and glass is brightened further by the floor to ceiling windows. It was already 2:30 when we sat down to lunch so we were not surprised to find it only half full. We were given some carrot and cucumber sticks and deep fried wanton skins to munch on while we waited for our dim sum to arrive. The cheong fun was a real winner and was devoured in less than 2 minutes. The rice flour noodle was smooth and delicate. The filling was fu chuk and prawn and we loved the crispy texture of the fu chuk interrupting the soft texture of noodle and prawn. Very good. Our only complain was it was too small a serving. But then again, we are known to be gluttons.
The chilli salt squid came in battered pieces topped with crunchy and spicy garlic-ky bits. Added calories without the added satisfaction as the batter was neither tasty nor crispy. The squid was very tender and tasty and could've done without the batter. We weren't sure what the spicy bits were but it had the fabulously fake taste of Maggi seasoning! Next up was har gow. While the prawns were fresh and plump, the skin was disappointingly thick and stodgy. As were the prawn and chive dumplings. We all really enjoyed the pan-fried turnip cake with the spicy dip. It was fragrant and you could still feel the texture of grated turnip. The prawn and salad pastry was also very good! But then again, I am also a sucker for mayonaise. It was supercrispy and the mayonaise just oozed out of these babies. All in all a very satisfying lunch apart from the mui choy porridge. The consistency of the porridge was like a rice paste and the mui choy tasted a lot like seaweed. The travesty of it all was the pork slices. They were lean and not stewed together with the mui choy! Gasp!

Total bill was RM110.40 including a pot of chrysanthemum tea.