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

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Family for Comfort

It is crazy. Almost every time my family and I went to One Utama for dinner, we will end up inevitably in Vietnam kitchen. We would always start with some wishful thinking, saying let's go dinner in One Utama. Why? Oh we want to watch movie after or there is something to buy or it is raining, are the usual reasons for a family, especially one with a baby boy (which always serve as the ultimate reason/excuse to everything including being fashionably late).

Sighing, I would then pretend and ask "But where would we eat?"

My dad would pretend to answer "Oh don't know yet?"

As if on cue, I would answer "Alright, we'll see then", with a resign note.

We would then try to act oblivion and with hope that when we get there we will decide on somewhere ‘else’ to eat but in the end we would somehow, someway we would decide on good old Vietnam Kitchen. Not that it is a bad thing because due to the numerous times that we have dined there, it has somehow became a sort of comfort food for us family. It invokes the sort of sense of security where you know what you would be getting anyway and what you would want to order without having to rack your head over the menu with. And almost always that you know what to expect out of the meal. With this, we have somehow minus out the angst that sometimes come with eating out, which instead let’s us focus on the gathering of family aspect itself. Moreover nowayears, with the new addition to the family, we do indeed need a lot of extra focus; it is quite amazing how a little package can bring so much more to what there already is.

It is true that sometimes, something that we have so much off we would actually overlook, thus you can see why the lack of pictures for this place that I have been more times than any other places that I have reviewed here. Nevertheless the food is enough to comfort no matter how many times we have been there. Though I must say it used to be better, bigger portions and better fried spring rolls, but still it is worth to go for affordable Vietnamese food or if you and your family have no idea where to go and need some kind of fall-back plan to keep the peace.

Vietnamese Bun
If I am ever going for a single dish for myself, I would always go for the Vietnamese bun that I find oh so light and easy to eat. It is almost like an Asian noodle salad, rice vermicelli served on a bed of fresh sliced greens (normally cucumber and carrot), topped with either grilled chicken or pork, herbs, bean sprouts and roasted peanuts. This Vietnam Kitchen version comes with sliced fried spring rolls too. Then it is served with the Vietnamese popular condiment - Nuoc cham (fish sauce mix with lemon, garlic, vinegar, sugar and chili), for you to drizzle over the dish generously. Ah, just describing it makes me want to go get one of these refreshing dish for this hot day.

Pork ball noodle soup and Beef noodle soup
My dad on the other hand would always go for his soupy goodness, sometimes my brother in law will follow suit, which is the pork ball noodles, which comes with smooth rice noodles and clear but flavourful soup. Meanwhile, though my dad being a non-fan of beef, there is also the famous Vietnamese beef noodle soup here. It may not be the best of its kind but for the variety that this restaurant is serving, it is good enough for its kind. It is the usual famous Vietnamese noodle soup with thick broth and smooth noodles.

Vietnam Kitchen House Platter

House platter
Besides that though we almost always order the house platter which is a somewhat like my Vietnamese bun but deconstructed and with addition of more meats like grilled shrimp wrap around sugar cane and meatballs. Also it comes with fresh big greens and rojak-like dark sauce for use to roll the fillings together in a rice paper. Yes, it is kind of like the Vietnamese version of our popiah.

Set menu/dishes and
There were few times that we had ordered from set menu before when we are eating in larger crowd but I personally think that the ala-carte dishes are better.

All in all, after the meal each time, everyone would be happy and then get on with their reason for being there, but one thing to give warning to if you are in a similar situation like mine is, do not start walking around with a toddler to entertain him for you might succumb to his/her seemingly innocent big brown eyes which sparkles at a certain thing which would end up with you having a lighter wallet. You have been warned, bout the toddler of course and not the meal, do try it if you are ever in One Utama and like us have no idea on where to eat in there.

Bandar Utama Shopping Centre
S312 2th Floor Highstreet,
1 Utama Shopping Centre
Bandar Utama Damansara
47800 Petaling Jaya
0377241336

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Newember

N is for November. N is for new.

How apt. Cause November is when I need to start anew. A good friend hybrid this name for me when I wrote that November = new, and then told me I should so write a post on it, which I totally agree. This would be the month of renewal for me, the month where I put back the scattered train coaches back onto the tracks. The rail is still going, the journey have not ended. The destination is important but after all, it is the journey that counts.

New is a very positive word. New signifies birth, like a new born child crying when it got to this world in shock and then marvel at all the sights, sounds and smells around him. From then on a child will grow with curiosity where everything is like anew, everything is exciting, everything seem like a big opportunity for exploration. When was the last time you see things from the eyes of a child?

November - autumn, fall, rainy and cooling, depending on where you are in this world. The old would have to go before the new can come in. November had always been a quiet month for me, it is neither the end yet, no that’s for December, but yet it is definitely neither the beginning of the last quarter of the year. It is normally the month where people take the last opportunity to mellow a little, slack a little and wait for the holidays to come. It is just like how in autumn the trees shed the leaves; here human will shed their burdens. As for me, I am throwing in spring for this autumn. I would shed the leaves and grow new flowers. Flowers bring joy.

Life is a long road of journey, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers.

****

There was a period of time when I had to take care of my dad after his heart operation and I must say cooking for him at that time is definitely mind-boggling. There are many food restrictions, some medically so and some motherly so. Yes my mother in all her Chinese ways manage to come up with lots of things that a person recovering from operation should not consume, never mind that I insist on a scientific explanation, her because-I-say-so shoots every logic into oblivion.

So armed with limited choices, and after rounds of cooking the usual home cooked Chinese food, I was thinking to cook something new, something that I totally pick out of the air for him. Yes new is the theme we are talking about here. Somehow, with whatever I can forage in my sister’s kitchen and what I had bought beforehand, I manage to whip up a Hainanese inspired pork chop.

I must say though this recipe is the typical example of Chinese cooking, it’s a little bit of this, a dash of that, a sprinkle of those and many, many finger dipping tasting into the hot sauce to come up with the right taste, so all the best if you are to attempt this and may you whip up a pork chop ala your own. So do read the following recipe as a gauge on how you may approach this and you go from there. Let your creative taste buds take charge!


Pork Chop ala Rokh

Ingredients
2-3 pork shoulder in slices
1 big onion
3-4 cloves of garlics

Sauce mix
Lots of splashes of soy sauce
Dash of sesame oil
Few dashes of rice wine
2-3 tbsps of tomato sauce
Mix water to taste

Punch the pork shoulder till soft and tender
Marinade with salt, pepper and mixed spice
Cut big yellow onion and few cloves of garlic into slices
Then mix for the sauce: Soy sauce and rice vinegar (few big splashes), sesame oil (few small splash) and tomato sauce (about 2 tbsps) and water add to taste
Pour in some olive oil and then pan fry the pork chop till no longer pink on both sides. Set aside
Using the same pan, throw in the sliced onions and cook till caramelize, add some olive oil if needed. (Do make sure it is nicely browned and caramelized as this would make or break the dish, google for some instructions if you’re unsure)
Next throw in the sliced garlic and stir fry some more till the aroma fills your nose
Then pour in the sauce mix and bring to boil, at same time start dipping, tasting and add on stuff if needed
Turn off the fire and pour the sauce over the cooked pork chop and voila!

****

Yes I know that newember have come and gone, but why is this post only up in January? Let’s just say in my time of recuperating and time of renewal, I kept this post aside as quite a sacred thought to myself. Now that I have been renewed, I find it liberating to post it up. Do not let my idea of renewal be constraint to November, as I believe many of us takes January for this wonderful ritual. We all need it once in a while, so what’s your renewal for 2011?
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