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.