Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Secret

Psst, I have a secret to tell you. Yes, you! Come closer. Have a look at this:


Clockwise from top left: Durian Puff, Chee Cheong Fun, Xiao Long Bao, Steamed Egg Yolk Custard Bao, Seaweed Roll, Pork and Chinese Sausage Rolled in Beancurd Skin.
Yes it is as good as it looks. Yes there are many more. And yes, there are actually good dim sum in Klang Valley! (Thunder claps at a far distant for a dramatic effect)

This secret was actually revealed to me by my good buddy Y, this was how she said it “Have you tried the dim sum restaurant behind our house? No? You must! Damn on!” Yeah, that is practically what she had said, and for the record, she claims the expression ‘Damn on!’ as hers and she plan to advocate it to a point of becoming a common exclamation for anything that is real good. If you hear it anywhere else by anyone, remember you hear it here first with credit to Y, I did not want her to sue me for plagiarism.

So, I perked up immediately with interest as I have always been on the lookout for good dim sum around Klang Valley. Either I found those that are mediocre or lack of choices, or environment not as good enough and usually those good ones you got to pay through your nose, which of course I have yet to explore so I cannot comment if those are good enough. But for this secret that we found, the price was reasonable, the choices are amazing during the peak like weekend breakfast to late lunches or the urbanites favourite hip brunches, while the choices dwindled down to acceptable for the other times but all in all the quality remains, freshness secured somehow and the environment is comfortable with air-condition (crucial for the crazy Malaysia heat), spacious, and clean. Totally defying the usual dim sum haunt where people have to brace the heat, the humidity, the rowdy crowds, the tight spaces where servers try to navigate around tight spaces with huge tray of dim sum for people to choose.

On top of it all, the most important criteria for this place worthy of praise is its dim sum, of course (duh!). But it is definitely true; the dim sum makes this place worth to be the ‘secret’. Normally dim sum are made of two very key ingredients – pork and shrimp. Both of these are really fresh here, where the pork (suspected to have mixed with pork fat and beaten together to form the paste) always has what Asian like to call, the QQ texture (soft yet toothy), while the shrimp, minced or whole, are also springy and absent of any hint of staleness. Other than that, there also many more items worthy of trying over here, in variety from its steamed dumplings to steam bao to fried items to even the sweet stuff.

Clockwise from top left: Siu Mai, Fried Brinjal stuffed Fish Paste, Jin Tui, Crystal Shrimp Dumpling
My personal recommendations to try are first, the most ubiquitous dim sum around – Siu Mai (steamed pork dumpling). Oh boy, the Siu Mai over here is definitely superior to the usual, with the fresh pork and prawn mixed and wrapped together, it also has a pleasant flavouring that I couldn’t quite guess what of but happily chew away anyway. Give it a try and you shall know what I mean. Next on my list is the Chee Cheong Fun, also superior to many out there, as this one, the skin is as smooth as silk with good mixture of either prawn or Char Siew or both with a good dose of sauce. Another must try is the Scallop Har Gao, better than the more familiar Har Gao, this one has its specialty of fresh scallop along with prawn wrapped in crystal like skin. Besides that, from my numerous experiences at this place, those that I can remember as good on top of my head now are fried prawn dumpling, thai style beancurd and XO pork ribs. For sweet stuff to clean the palate, I highly recommend the durian puff which is real durian pulp wrapped with nest-like pastry and then deep fried till crispy, really a must for durian lover though these are usually only available during weekend and normally sold out by lunch time.

Before you rush out to this secret of ours, there are few things to take note of. If you go during the peak hours of the weekend where it is hip to have dim sum for brunches apparently, be prepared to wait for a table. They had set up a tent with chairs for people to wait outside the restaurant, so if you are prepared to wait in the heat and your tummy are not growling with hunger, then you can head there, give your name and wait for your turn to be called. Rest assured though once seated, you can start your feast right away as they have trays and trays of steaming hot and freshly fried dim sum circling around for people to take straightaway. On the other hand, if you go during non peak times, it is entirely different where you can walk in straight for a table but you had to order your food through the menu or memory and wait for the food to be prepared. As during non peak times, the food are ‘steamed to order’ and some made to order as well. Though some fried stuff are ready for choosing but it may not be as piping hot as it should be.

Now that the secret is out (though it may not seem like such a secret anymore judging from the crowd at peak times), what are you waiting for? Head out there now to have a fix of your dim sum, either be a hip urbanite and brace the crowd for your weekend brunches or when there are sudden pangs of cravings for little morsels of goodness; this secret place is sure to please.

Jin Xuan Hong Kong
59, 61 & 63, Jalan SS22/19,
Damansara Jaya,
47300 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor
03-7729 6866
Daily, 7.00am – 11.30pm
Branches:
Damansara Utama and Kuchai Entrepreneurs’ Park

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

TheQguides and Best Eats KL Launch

Remember my first ever event? Remember when finally this tham jiak came out from her hiding place? Yes, it was TheQguides first event, where they get to know us the Malaysian food bloggers. Since then it was loads of fun filled activities and truly chowtut events thanks to the lovely trio of TheQguides - Frat, Jek and Lisa! Since then I have to say it was truly a wonderful ride for me and I would also say that I have in fact grown not only in tham jiak wise but in terms of friends as well. There are truly many good people out there, in this case Malaysian food bloggers or lovers that not only share my passion in food but also my penchant for laughter, having good times and just living the life.



7 months since the first getting to know each other session, quite a number of food reviews invited by them and several bookings on TheQguides.com for me since then, TheQGuides finally had its official launch! It was held at the TwentyOne Kitchen and Bars and in collaboration with the Best Eats KL book launch as well. That night was a blast, grace by many people from the celebrities to the media and to food bloggers of course, which I hung out with. We were served free flow cocktails and wine plus canapes which I gladly oblige, and yes we the food bloggers did sneak out for a meal down the road, we could not resist, and then rejoin the party for all the fun again!


In short, go now to TheQguides.com, sign up if you haven’t and find out all it has to offer and next go out to the nearest bookstore and grab a copy of the Best Eats KL, it has all the scoops of what Malaysia culinary has to offer from your neigbourhood coffeeshop to the extreme fine dining!


By the way, at the launch, there was a competition which was a collaboration of both Frat Mustard and Aly who jointly wants to promote the Malaysian F&B scene and guess what, I won first prize! Yes, yours truly tham jiak won first prize and she could not wait to eat her way through it! A big thanks to Frat and Aly!


Photos credit to Frat Mustard (first picture) and Eric Cheong.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cyber Series 1: Dengkil Nasi Lemak

When I first found that I am going to shift to Cyberjaya for work, the infamous concrete jungle of Klang Valley about 30km from the heart of anywhere, the first thing that pops to my mind was “what am I going to eat for lunch!!??” Indeed it was a valid question, for both tham jiak or otherwise cause regardless, everybody needs to eat, and eating the same few things of mediocre taste for an extended amount of time does no good for the body and the mind. This for one I can be sure as I have consensus from my fellow Cyberions (this term coined by me makes us sounds like robots ain’t it?). But thankfully though, surrounding this concrete jungle are various good food places that are normally not that accessible to urbanites, such as Dengkil, Serdang, Seri Kembangan, Equine Park and the slightly more accessible Puchong.

“Fear not!” said a close colleague of mine, A (yes, she is that partner in crime that I grab out to my char siew endeavour), at that point in time she was both my ex and future colleague to be, how’s that for a complicated relationship? This is because we used to work together in a company, then I moved and so does she, and then a year later I am about to go to the company that she is currently working in, I believe there must be some secret forces pulling us together! To top up further on our interwoven lives, she is also from Taiping, but the similarities about stop there. So why did she so boldly told me not to worry, well this is because she had been living nearby the area for quite some time way back before, and later on has been working nearby till the year she is in the current company, so she does know all the nooks and crooks to take me around for good yet cheap food! Ah, so tham jiak is blessed in many ways, especially when it comes to food.

Therefore if you are ever in Cyberjaya during the day, or nature forbid might be even working in Cyberjaya, do not worry about what to have for lunch! That is if you are willing to drive out. Yes, regardless of which building you are in at the concrete jungle, good food mostly lie all around outside the perimeter of the said jungle, with exception of a few inside, which you would still need to travel in a car as nobody in the right mind would even brace the midday heat to walk around. This woe in Malaysia I shall put aside, as besides the crazy mad afternoon heat, Malaysia have some serious good food that is all worth the drive through the scorching sun for and the sweat soaking your cleanly pressed professional getup for too.

One of the good yet cheap food that A introduced to me, almost immediately when I was just recruited as Cyberion, which till now has been my cravings now and then if I am keen enough to drive a little further out, is the Chinese styled Nasi Lemak at Dengkil. Just about 10 minutes drive from Cyberjaya, this quaint little town is like a place as if stuck in a time warp. I am amazed to find such a town so close to the bustling cities, and I do wonder if the residence here feels that they were intruded after the build up of its neighbours Cyberjaya and Putrajaya or they enjoy the boost in their economy. Nevertheless, Dengkil boasts various eateries with old school style from stalls under zinc roof to shops that has stand the test of time. This particular place that I am about to introduce to you, which offers seriously addictive Nasi Lemak, is at a corner shop with extension outwards of zinc roof for more seating.


What is so good about this Chinese styled Nasi Lemak, and what do you mean by Chinese style? Well, first, the curry chicken that came with this dish is a Chinese version of curry chicken, which reminds me very much of my Pho Pho’s curry chicken where at that time when I was still a little tot and have yet to learn to take spicy food, I enjoyed this dish thoroughly for the tender chicken cooked to perfection in slightly spicy and rich coconut milky goodness that is full of spices. Then the sambal that served alongside is also very much Chinese, where you have onions cooked till the soft and nearly caramelized in the sambal, but amazingly, this is also not really spicy and in fact tinge with sweetness from the onions. Then throw in some good crunchy fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and roasted peanuts, halved hardboiled egg and sliced cucumbers, and you shall have the perfect simple and humble Nasi Lemak that makes one feel that they are eating at home.

Dengkil Nasi Lemak
Jalan Aman 1
Taman Emas,
43800 Dengkil,
Selangor

Garmin coordinates: N02 51.969 E101 40.410

Monday, October 05, 2009

One Night With

Once again Frat invited me for a food event (thanks Frat!), this time it is Asian Food Channel (AFC) premiering Chef Daniel Boulud’s documentary - ‘One Night in Singapore’.

I asked Frat that night in between the documentary, “Why is it one night in Singapore, when he is there for so many nights?”

He replied, after a pause, “Good question actually...”

Nevertheless, it was indeed a one night for me with Daniel Boulud, and a good one at that. Good one because I enjoyed meeting up with epicureans and bloggers alike, in fact I even finally, finally met Kenny for the first time (hi Kenny!), which was just awesome. It was also a good one because I thoroughly enjoyed the 1 hour show of Daniel Boulud showdown of “One night in Singapore” and then after that enjoyed a pretty good meal at Neo Global Tapas & Luxe Lounge.


But first who is Daniel Boulud, pardon me if you were to roll you eyes and think “duh, of course I know who is he”, but let me humour you as I have to admit I was not too sure who he is until this premier, and after that he had me, maybe not as much as Jamie, but he indeed had captured my interest to follow more closely to what he has to offer in the future on AFC. Short general bio-data is that he is a Chef-owner of ten-award winning restaurants and Feast & Fetes catering company. Hailing from France, he had expanded his culinary reach internationally, from Las Vegas to Beijing. He had a list of achievements in the culinary world with various awards, and to top it off he had himself authored six books and created his own television series – After Hours with Daniel. With such an impressive background, it was no wondered that AFC invited him for a special production in Singapore and I am glad they did because it indeed had further made Daniel’s presence felt In Southeast Asia, particularly now Malaysia.

Sadly that I do not have Astro at home, but I do enjoy AFC once in a while when I had the chance back in my hometown or at my sister’s place. I have always turn to this channel whenever I am surfing Astro and I would have been satisfied with just this one channel, back in my mind though I asked myself why didn’t we have this back when I had the luxury to enjoy TV. But anyway, kudos to Hian Goh and Maria Brown, managing directors and founders of AFC, for bringing Southeast Asia’s culinary exposure up on notch, it was about time for us as we all know that Southeast Asia boast one of the world’s best cuisine and to say that food is the centre of our daily lives would be an understatement.

So back to my one night with Daniel Boulud, where I had a chance to mingle a little with some Malaysian bloggers while being served with refreshing lemongrass and tamarind drinks, before we were ushered into the room to watch the one-hour long documentary that AFC had worked so hard to produce originally by themselves. It does seem a bit odd for me at first to sit together with a group of people to watch a show that would be on television soon, but after that I was so absorbed in the show; I totally forgot where I was. The documentary was quite exciting to watch, especially towards the end where it leads to the full fledge course that Daniel had worked so hard to prepared, definitely a show worth to catch on AFC if you have the chance.


After the show, we all then continued to mingle outside while we were served with food by Neo. Though there were a few hit and misses, I did actually enjoy my meal in an overall perspective. As they were still relatively new, and was sharing kitchen with their sister Tamarind Hills, I would certainly return again for a slow dinner to truly savour and review the food here, and to see if the atmosphere had improved as at that time it was pretty hot and stuffy. Till then, I shall now look for more chances to catch Daniel Boulud on screen, I believe he has so much more to offer and besides, Hian Goh said that he was truly a man with humility despite his huge achievements, how’s one not to like that?

For more info on Daniel Boulud and what AFC has to offer, check out www.asianfoodchannel.com

All pictures above are courtesy of the talented
Frat Mustard!
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