Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.
Showing posts with label Klang Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Klang Valley. Show all posts

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Chow-what? Chowtut!

Chow what? You heard me right, chowTUT! When I first heard of this word I thought, chow as in a meal and tut as in censored where you’re suppose to insert profanities here. So what is there to swear about food? Oh my, trust me, after the chowtut session, you would start swearing too, for being condemned to your chair permanently, or at least for a significant amount of time.

But by the definition of the originators, Integricity employees, here is the real meaning behind Chowtut:

CHOWTUT [chow-tut]
- noun / verb
An excessive dose, especially of food or alcoholic beverage
"Wahhh! Last night I chowtut at Changkat!"
"That fella sleeping la... he chowtut for lunch"
In short according to Frat, it is “The ultimate smorgasbord of orgasmic-tut (real censoring here)-fingerlickin'good-auntieonemoreplate food all in one place... at the same time.”

So the very lucky people of the Integricity, would have a quarterly chowtut on good foods from various, and various is by the meaning of nearly all over Klang Valley, in one place – their office. How is that? Early before the traffic of long Friday lunches are out in our lazy Malaysian afternoon, few designated employees don their sunglasses, zip up their jackets and rev up their super bikes (exaggeration alerted), and zoom off to their respective assignments of various eateries, from nearby Uptown to TTDI to Bangsar and all the way to the heart of KL – Tengkat Tong Shin and also span out to even Batu Caves, just to pack their said important orders and then brace the starting-to-form-traffic back to the office.

After that scene I was stuck. You see, this tham jiak here took for granted that she could reach the food haven in 30 minutes (she forgot it’s a Malaysian Friday!) and so she had to crawl through the traffic, staying cool with promises to self of many good food to come. She was already forming the heart-stopping-artery-clogging spread of food in her mind and boy, when she arrived, she found herself reliving her imaginations, albeit a bit massacred. You see, upon arriving fashionably late of 30 minutes, the wonderful spread has already been butchered to near oblivion, so no acceptable pictures could be captured but fret not (pun intended), her trusted friend Frat shall supply her with drool-worthy pictures, taken by him plus stolen from his friend, Nigel. Without further hesitation, tham jiak threw her belonging away and start digging in, before all there was nothing left!

She bit her tongue, “mmm, where to start”

Somebody whispered behind her ear “you got to get the char siew, it is reaallllyy good, and it is nearly finished!”. A hand from somewhere, just like an angel, points towards the said precious meats. She zoomed right on it and grabbed a few, nearly all but conscience got the better of her, then she bit into the juicy meat and she was at a sudden revelation – the feast had finally begun!

747 Kopitiam (SFS)
Jalan PJU 1/3C,
Sunway Mas Commercial Centre.

Next on her plate was this unassuming looking noodle, but not to be misled by its looks, it was really more-ish kind of tasty! The mee mamak was special in its way, sort of fried with a Chinese flare but in a good way. Then on the other hand there was the undisputable Sang Har Hor Fun, with huge freshwater prawns on top of soupy flat rice noodles, it was as good as it looks, on contrary you can judge this book by its cover! Time to head all the way to Batu Caves for lunch one of these days! Maybe on another long lazy Friday lunch, any takers?

Pan Heong Restoran
No 2, Jln Medan Batu Caves 2,
Batu Caves, Selangor
03-6187 7430
8 am- 3:30pm

While deciding to pour more good stuff onto the plate or not, tham jiak just had to sit down and start devouring first. Then suddenly she saw right in front of her, the golden buttery squid, she just had to poke one and put it into her mouth, and oh my, was it good – crispy then chewy at the same time all creamy and buttery, ah, such bliss. Also from this restaurant that she have blogged before was the fried pork yee mee (egg noodles), which tasted sinfully good, just slightly on bitter side though.

Mama’s Kitchen,
48, Jln Datuk Sulaiman,
TTDI, 60000 KL
03-7729 3030l

Then she saw Jek, who is happily biting on his deep fried chicken, the tham jiak just had to have one too! She had these before, nicely fried with secret (as she cannot name what are they, she just know their good) spices and was glad to have them again in free-flow sort of way. She ate one. Finished everything else, and took another one again. Then she rested, or rather her tummy did, and then she had another one of these. Yes, it was that addictive!

Village Park Restaurant
5, Jalan SS21/37,
Damansara Utama,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
7 am to 8pm daily,
7 am to 6 pm on Sunday/Public Holiday

Then finally, she stood up from the remnants of her food on the plate to go get the rest of the soupy goodness. She found a cute orange bowl, thankfully, and heads on to get her fair share of our very own famous Malaysian dish - bak kut teh. Ah, as FBB say, can’t go wrong with this one from Teluk Pulai, and also thanks to boo for going all the way to get it and then even sponsor it! Some say she had just bought a permanent ticket to all future chowtuts at Integricity, I better think of my ticket for the next one, wouldn’t want to miss it!

Last but not least, some sweetness to end a meal (or was it multiple meals in one sitting?), there were doughnuts! Though she would love to have the chocolatey creamy one that Jek ate or rather lap up, those were so popular she was just left with either the plain or the chocolate glaze, she had to go for chocolate, you know her the chocoholic!

Krispy Kreme
Midvalley or Berjaya Times Square

Oh yes, that is Frat with the doughnuts, she suspected he was guarding the chocolatey creamy ones for his master Jek, ah he forgot about her on this one! Maybe this can be an excuse for tham jiak to make him give her a ticket for the next chowtut. Now after having a session of her first chowtut, this tham jiak totally understand now the meaning of “An excessive dose, especially of food or alcoholic beverage” and totally up for the next round of chowtut!

PS: Pictures are courtesy of Frat and Nigel

PPS: Fellow chowtutties (term from lemongrass) blogs on this:
Mr. Cheong
Frat Mustard

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

True Blues and Some New Twists

Once again Frat from had invited me and a partner of my choice this time, to another food tasting, which is at the no-stranger to many PJ folks – Hilton PJ. Gosh, I have just told a friend today, I am one lucky tham jiak girl, when she asked me to tea today and brought me fresh lou por peng all the way from Hong Kong to share, ah the wonders of being tham jiak and honest about it, and having a blog to shout about it helps too, which then brought me to this superbly delicious food tasting. Does this anyway connects?

Anyway, rushing all the way from work in the concrete jungle, I, once again famously arrived a tad late, where everyone are already seated with their partners, with Jek standing out front about to start his speech. Shyly, I sat down with my partner, Q, and then we were introduced to, which is a blog for the restaurants and bars for the Hilton PJ – Paya Serai, Toh Yuen, Genji, Caffe Cino and Uncle Chilli’s. I absolutely enjoy the site, I found myself browsing the various posts with delight and could not help eyeing the promotions page like a hawk, while planning out how to maximise it with my upcoming plans! So what are you waiting for? Head over to to further learn more of what it is and interact with other epicureans in Malaysia!

After that we all had a round of drawing lots to see where each of us would head out to fill our tummies! I was the end of the round and the final lot was Toh Yuen! At first my heart skipped a beat, I was actually hoping for Genji, as probably I was in hankering for Japanese at that time, but oh boy, shall I now dare to say I totally am glad I drew Toh Yuen after the dining experience! You may further read on to see what the hype is all about, this time I have both Q’s and my inflated tummy to testify! Before heading out to our respective restaurants, we bloggers also have a chance to get acquainted with, which I have actually booked through it few times before, where we booked then and there for our respective dining restaurants for two on the all new Do check out the new awesome beta site and what new stuffs it had to offer now.

So now back to the food! Q and I headed excitedly towards Toh Yuen, where we were then escorted into an exotic location, well sort of, since we were lead to the far end corner of the restaurant, way across from the other food blogger, vkeong who took the other corner. We felt like we are in some secret mission, but technically it is actually due to fact that these places have the best lighting, though mine do still need bit more lighting and more space. We need to take good pictures for our readers no? Once seated, we ordered our tea first, before perusing on the extensive menu, and when I say extensive, I meant seriously elaborated choices of Cantonese fare (with some other clans thrown in). Have I mentioned before I love Cantonese food? Though a Hokkien, I totally adore Cantonese way of cooking simply, retaining the food natural flavours while complementing each other perfectly. Ah, don’t get me started on it or it will be way too long post, you can actually read more about it in my tribute to Ah Ma, my true validation to the best of Cantonese fare, which now Toh Yuen comes in a close second! While I was looking at the menu panicking as I seem to want everything from it, Toh Yuen’s Executive Sous Chef, Frederick Kho, came to introduce himself, and then kindly help nudge us to decide on what to order. Then we are all set! I was so giddy with excitement.

While we were still fidgeting over the menu, tea had been served to us and I must say they taste as good as they look. It is light on palate but strong in the smell and flavours department. First up was our Norwegian Salmon Roll, which is kind of a twist to the usual Cantonese cooking. The salmon was still all soft and juicy, not to mention oh so fresh, while the external crispy deep-fried wrap gave completes the whole texture of this dish. In sum, it is appealing to the palate, definitely a good starter to fire up all the tham jiak-ness.

Then next up was the Shark Fin’s Dumpling in Superior soup, personally recommended by Chef Kho, which now I personally recommend to you! The soup is slightly sweet with all the goodness of Cantonese secret to soup making. The dumpling was a unique touch to the otherwise normal soup, though I don’t mind as Cantonese soup has always been really flavourful regardless, though there was a hint of fishiness, I do enjoy this creation of Toh Yuen’s.

We have another true blue Cantonese fare, which is simply Sautéed Fresh Scallops with Fresh Lily Bulbs. This dish is the testimonial to the art of simple cooking of Cantonese where they retain the natural goodness of the scallops. But this dish had an extra twist to the otherwise probably plainer Cantonese style, which is the asparagus that were cooked with some spiciness. Overall, I love the fresh scallops while the asparagus were just alright.

Chef Kho also recommended another dish for us, which he said is a special creation of the restaurant, the Pan Fried Lamb Chop in Mongolian style. Though bit reluctant at first, as my heart is with the Cantonese fare, I gave in and ordered this for new tastes, and I did regret it at all. Definitely something unique, and sort of fusion in some ways, I found the lamb cooked just oh-so-right and the sauce, I must say the sauce is the secret and it was. When Chef Kho came in between our meals, I asked him what went into the sauce and for a moment, something flickered in his eyes, nothing evil alright, but yes, he did then say “it is a secret recipe!” and then he laughed, and then we laughed (no we all are not drunk!) and then he proceed to explain briefly that it is a mayo-based sauce, much to my surprise as I would never have guessed that. Hats off to the chef for this Mongolian inspired creation!

Next dish was actually chosen by Q, she loves tofu and so the Pi Pa Braised Beancurd with Vegetable beckons to her and she must order it and I was glad she did. This tofu dish is certainly unique and I would say a lot of hard work had been put in to make this dish. First look it was sort of like just deep fried tofu but after a bite, you found it was not as simple as such. The tofu inside was all loose and soft, and how can that be? Well they were finely chopped in uniform sizes, put together with some special technique, and then only deep fried, and I must mention the slightly crunchy skin is also full of flavours of spices and herbs. A must try!

And now, come to the star dish of the day, the Peking Duck! I have to say, it is the best Peking duck I had before (I might not have tried enough out there but enough to proclaim as such)! Earlier, the nice people of, told us that we must try the Peking Duck, and that message had been ingrained in me, a tham jiak instinct I would say. Then later at the restaurant, I was deeply disappointed as the restaurant only offers whole duck and I keep staring at it, imagine me n Q devouring the whole duck! So started the war of my rational mind against my tham jiak feelings, where we ended up not ordering the first round. Later on though, my mind came up with a good idea, the wonders of it when you really want something, that is to share with vkeong, and being such a nice guy, he accepted the invitation! Thanks vkeong! So with that, Q and I get to enjoy this wonderful dish. As Chef Kho said, earlier the master was here to make this delicacy in Malaysia, and then they had learned the art from him, where now we are tasting the results! All I can say is that the duck skin was really crispy and flavourful, wrapped snugly in soft Chinese pancake and then drizzle over with the special sauce, I have to use special as it is the important element of this dish and it was just like how the traditional sauce should be but yet still very distinct from the usual ones out there. The wrapped duck skin-pancake is really good, and it is best to also add in more mouthfuls of the remaining sinful crispy duck skin. Ah, bliss! To say this is a recommended dish from me is an understatement! After that the duck meat was sliced and then stir fried with noodles for us, which was quite good.

Now it is time to end this elaborate Chinese course meal, you all must be wondering how in the world can two girls be finishing all that? Oh yes we did, and we can because the food were great! Chef Kho came at the end of our meal and was pleasantly surprise to see us polishing off the dishes. We have to blush with apparent shyness, but deep down, we were secretly really proud about it and were indeed glad to be able to enjoy such a good meal. Not to fret as our aching tummy can be easily cured by ordering dessert! Oh yes, we manage still fit in another dessert, where we share the Chilled Fresh Fruit with Sago and Mango, which was just the cure right light ending to this heavy meal.

Q and I indeed had a really wonderful dining experience here, the service was exceptionally good, tea refilled all the time, food allowed for me to take pictures first before serving, but of course you would say that because I am in a food review, but this just goes to show how tentative they would be on customers’ specific needs. The interior gave one the feeling of dining in a high class ancient palace with some modern touch. So do give Toh Yuen a try, if you are ever out to look for true goodness of Cantonese fare, which Toh Yuen did not fail my expectation of it, while also wants to try some twist of new creations, which I would say they are creative in this as well. So do not just listen to me rave about Cantonese cooking, go try it out and let me know what you think, or rather taste!

Toh Yuen, Hilton PJ

No. 2, Jalan Barat
Petaling Jaya
Daily noon-2pm, 7.00pm-10.30pm
Sunday Dim Sum brunch 11am-3pm

Review of Toh Yuen by my Peking-Duck-sharing-partners - vkeong here.
Reviews of other restaurants in Hilton PJ by fellow tham jiak mates here:
The Ruthless Eaters - Genji
Pillow Talk with Bangsar-Babe - Paya Serai

P/S: After that we all met up at Uncle Chillis downstairs, all the good stuff can be read over at dear Frat Mustard, as there is where he partied out while waiting for us to join him!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Refresh Your Soul

It is amazing that how sometimes when one opens up to new people, they found new friends. Once when I finally got myself out of behind this anonymous blog and joined a food event by, I met several fun people, including Babe, Ruth and most recently Bangsar-babe. Wow, sounds like girl-power to me, but no we have a guy, his name is Jek and most recent as well, he introduced us to his new colleague, Frat, the Marketing Head of Don’t ask me who he is and where he comes from, you can find it out here, and no, the one you see at the site is not who you think it is. So one fine day, Frat asked me to go for tasting on SOULed OUT’s new refreshed menu and boy, was I excited!

Our Malaysia’s homegrown SOULed OUT had always been a place which I associated with fun and happy times. This is because I had loads of memories with this place which I held dearly. I remember the first time that I ever been to SOULed OUT was years ago, with my aunty and cousins, plus my roommate, Y. Y and I had actually traveled really far, in last minute notice from my cousin, just to get there because before this, one of my cousin had actually sung praises to the Carbonara at this place as if it is the one, so with all the heart of ‘tham jiak-ness’, Y and I flew there just in time to join them and ordered the Carbonara of course! I must say our craving indeed have been answered, it was creamy and utterly satisfying! At that time we also get to enjoy a dance show, I am not sure if they still have it now, but when I said years ago, I seriously meant years ago. Then the next few times I went was actually for few of my good friends’ birthdays, many of them really memorable as SOULed OUT has always make sure that every birthday is celebrated with style, whereby the crews will come and sing a song for the birthday girl/boy, which they made to be stand out in some ways, and then after that they would take a picture for us and then print out directly with inclusion into a card for us to bring home, which I find as a really thoughtful gesture. Come to think of it, I had actually celebrated four! 1984s birthdays there as well as for a university friend. Besides that I actually went there twice for two separate companies’ team outing, oh my, so it seems SOULed OUT is the place for celebration, chilling and connecting after all!

Anyway, back to the topic, what is this Refreshed Menu all about then? It is some way like this, as I understand of it, that people like me, who had been an old patron of SOULed OUT, found that some of their ol’ favourite dishes had been taken out from the menu as time goes by and as the restaurant evolves, so they had been giving feedback to have their dishes back!
“We always do our best to live up to our customers’ expectations, and after 13 years the expectations get even higher. We want our customers to feel like they are family at SOULed OUT when they come here. We encourage them to be able to share their suggestions openly with us. Which is why we have decided to bring back the Good Old Favourites by popular demand of our loyal customers!” said Fred Choo, Founder of SOULed OUT.
Well, without further ado, let’s proceed to the food, those favourites of many that now had been brought back for all to enjoy, which I, the lucky tham jiak girl, along with the other epicureans, get to enjoy in order to bring you our views and perspectives.

The first ol’ favourite dish that was served to us was the Sizzling Lamb Cutlet, which as its named was burning with goodness, hot tender meat which was marinated in Indian herbs and spices, served with a choice of naan (Indian flat bread)/rice/chips, special spinach dip and papadum. These were actually few of those lambs that I have which was not cooked to the point of the need to exercise your jaws to exhaustion. We also had the naan and it was as usual nicely soft and chewy; SOULed OUT has always been famous for its Indian fare, and naan had always been its strength from my previous experiences.

Then next on the line was another favourite brought back to the scene which is the Hokkien Mee (Chinese stir fried thick yellow noodles). When I first heard from Fanny, the propaganda pixie (yes, this is her role as stated in the card and as affirmed by her) of SOULed OUT that there would be Hokkien Mee, I raised my eyebrows in surprise and sceptism! There I was imagining Hokkien Mee best to be made in a wok over charcoal fire beside the road in a rundown Chinese restaurant, with loads of lard, pork and prawn thrown in! But let’s take this image and give it a twist, substituting with chicken slices, but still with loads of prawn, this Hokkien Mee was indeed tasty in its own way, full of the wok hei goodness. Give it a try whenever you have a hankering for some hawker fare yet still want to dine in style with your fellow companions.

From the stir fry department, we also have another ol’ favourite, which was the Singapore Fried Meehoon. Though I must honestly say this was not one of the best that I have, it was quite alright though.

Another noodle came up with the tag of ol’ favourites, it seemed that we Malaysians do love our noodles, and this one is the infamous Claypot Lou Shi Fun. This dish, which was the rice noodle in form of rat tailed, totally submerge in dark sauce with chickens slices and mushroom, was actually fine by its own right It may not beat some of the hawkers well known for it, but it was good enough to satisfy one’s craving for it.

The family of SOULed OUT had also demanded the return of the Chicken Ala Vietnam, which was my first time trying and I found it simply delicious. The chicken was chockfull of exotic Vietnamese spices and cooked to the right juiciness. This would be one dish that I would recommend to try.

One of the dishes that I do not agree with the faithful patrons was the Roast Beef Baguette, though not too bad, I did not find it anything spectacular. The chips though was crunchily addictive, which I happily helped myself to finish it.

Besides having the chance to taste all their comebacks dishes, we were also introduced with their spanking new ones. One of them is Koay Teow Beef Tausi, which was flat rice noodles cooked in tausi (fermented black beans) gravy with beef slices. It was a unique dish, which I find quite palatable, worth a try if you have the chance.

The second new dish was Pan Seared Grouper, which was grilled grouper fish fillet with Cajun spice, served over pasta, which I find a bit bland, not one that I thoroughly enjoy, as compared to the rest.

One more new dish that I had the pleasure to try was the new BBQ Chicken pizza! I have always loved the pizza at SOULed OUT, when it was first introduced and I tried it, I fell in love instantly as it was totally authentic with wood fire oven and the crust was how I always imagine it should be, thin, chewy yet crunchy at the right places. This new toppings was enjoyable, especially if you love BBQ sauce.

But this new pizza definitely could not beat the all time favourite Sake San pizza (salmon slivers, roe, cherry tomatoes, lolorosso with Japanese mayo and wasabi), which had coincidently been my all time favourite as well, where I had ordered in numerous occasions. Totally messy and finger-licking good, we even joked that it should be one dish you not have on your first date, but definitely one you should have many dates after that!

Then finally, we end the night with a sweet note, with the Praline Chocolate Mousse, Lava Cake and Pannacotta. I totally fell for the Lava Cake (too bad no picture though), which was an all time favourite, which would be one of mine now, warm gooey chocolate cake with the creamy vanilla ice cream, it was heavenly. One bite into it and I told Ruth that I shall not be returning it with an evil smile, but of course I did, good things are meant to be shared! As for the praline, it was new to the menu, albeit over-chilled, it was certainly spoon-licking good!

That’s it for the refreshed menu; I had sincerely thoroughly enjoyed some of the dishes, so it seems that the loyal patrons do know what they are demanding for! Whether you are the family of SOULed OUT or you have yet to be, you should head there now to satisfy your cravings for the former or to pique your taste buds for the latter, they would certainly welcome you to the family if you want to be in.

No.20 Jalan 30/70A, 
Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 KL.
03 2300 1955 (Reservations); 03 2300 1929 (General) Fax: 03 23001989
Monday – Friday: 12noon- 3pm
Everyday & Public Holidays: 6pm – 1am
Happy Hours: 12noon-3pm and 6pm-9pm

Note: All pictures are courtesy of Jek Tan of
(Yes, this tham jiak had rushed there after work and did not bring a camera!)

Other reviews by fellow tham jiak mates:
The Ruthless Eaters
Pillow Talk with Bangsar-Babe

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Extreme Fine Dining

It came and gone, the highlight of current year, the reunion of sorts with my ‘other’ family, in a span of 16 days which seemed like 16 minutes. Time flies when you are having fun, is the age old adage that sadly, is true. On cheery note though, we had amazing fun! CS, SH and RH flew here from UK and we had a short stint before gathering again all in Taiping along with CC who flew from Jakarta. What a reunion! We had a great time in Taiping, altogether another post soon, I hope, to pitch for you to visit my dear old town, which I recently discovered, can actually be so much fun!

What is this ‘other’ family anyway? Pretty hard for me to explain, as oftentimes when I do, people will roll their eyes up trying to understand the whole picture. CS, CC and SH is actually the children of my Lai Ma (which I had talked about several times) and of Lai Pa (which often times people will chimed in “lai-what?”, which then I had to explain that they are my Nanny and her husband) and then proceed to continues, so that’s why I usually refer to them as Kai Jie (god-sisters) and Kai Kor (god-brother) as they are indeed more than just friends, and I could not think of any other way to express them. Are your eyes looking at the ceiling yet?

We had such great times and spent about 80% of it eating (I swear this is so true, spurring CC to message CS all the way from Jakarta (as she flew home a week earlier), “oh gosh, all my clothes felt tighter already!”, and so you can imagine the rest of us with one more week of indulgences here in Klang Valley! Oh yes, indeed we enjoyed our tham jiak-ness, maybe this is the real reason why they are my ‘other’ family. At the end of our indulgence, U (my youngest Kai Jie who I mentioned before was also the other girl that my Lai Ma takes care of along with me (oh no, this ‘other’ family business is getting more complicated), with her ever thoughtfulness, arranged a night for all of us to enjoy extreme fine dining.

Why extreme? Imagine a beautifully decorated canopy with plush couch and cushions, with romantic lighting around a round table generously spread with amazing sumptuous exotic cuisine (exotic here by means for us Malaysian (where some stays in UK) eating Middle Eastern food) accompanied by flowing sparkling champagne while a sexy belly dancer mesmerizes you with her moves. So tell me, are you excited yet?

Here I am to introduce you to Middle Eastern fine dining that indeed entices me in many ways, after the delicious food of course, and it did help that I had great companies with me, those are priceless. I haven’t had much experiences in Middle Eastern fares, therefore could not compare the tastes nor prices with what I had, but as I know this indeed may be a bit heavy on the wallet (we are talking about fine dining here after all) and the tastes did suit me well and fulfilled what I had always imagine Middle Eastern fares should be from my food reading experiences.

We started our meal with Mezzeh (similar to appetizer) where it is an elaborate spread of small and tasty dishes to kick start our palate. We had the must-have hummus (pureed chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste) and lemon juice), which I found really good, as I judge against what I made for last year’s party, this one here definitely had extra hidden spices (guessing here) that I could not quite put my finger one (maybe I should do more researching and tinkering, and if I do come up with a hummus on par to this, I shall definitely share it here with you all). Another dip was the Labneh be Toom (creamy cheese, dried mint and garlic), which was sinfully delicious.

The next Mezzehs is Fattoush salad (vegetables, fried pita bread, sumac), which I find refreshing and surprisingly reminded me of Chilli’s Quesadilla salad (with crisp tortilla bread) but definitely different in tastes. Then I just had to order Tabbouleh (yes I have read about it countless times on the net, and I am a food geek as such) and enjoyed it thoroughly the way I imagine I would, after all I love parsley. We also ordered Muhammarah (thanks to me again, and I guess I do not need to explain why), which is actually breadcrumbs with crushed walnuts, olive oil and spices, just describing it made me want to eat it again, this was my favourite Mezzeh of the night! We also had, quite a mouthful, Zeytinyagli Biber Dolmasi, which is basically stuffed green bell pepper with rice and raisins and olive oil, which I find just alright. All these were accompanied by the platter of flat bread which was just right - soft and light to complement the Mezzehs, serving as real good wraps to hold the bountiful spread together.

Alright now on to the main dishes, what, you say you are already ‘full’ reading about all the Mezzehs? I thought we were just cleaning the palate, eh, well I was pretty full by now and I guess it was the plan as we just ordered to main dishes to share among ourselves. One which is a full platter of kebabs called Mashawi Mix Grill which consists of Lahem Meshwi (grilled beef), Lamb Kofta (grilled lamb with parsley and onions) and Shish Tawouk (grilled chicken breast). All in all I enjoyed the lamb kofta the most, featuring Middle Eastern grill at its best, the other two were just your typical kebabs suited to Malaysian taste.

Next we order something from the sea, which is the Cod Fish Pilaki, which is cod fish cooked in Turkish style with vegetable ragout. The cod fish as usual was soft and ‘creamy’, judging it does taste fresh, and the vegetable ragout complements it well enough. It was a tad too small for us to share, so we just had a bite each. I do like it though that it was served in a tagine dish, the lid open to unveil your meal in front of you.

Lastly, we end our meal with some Middle Eastern desserts, what there is still more, you ask? Oh yes, we do need something to seal all those goodness in right, and what more with more goodness of course! We all ordered something each and taste of each other’s dessert. From left was the Deep-fried Kunafah roll with Saffron ice cream (which tasted really exotic and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but not the Kunafah though), Cinnamon Pancake with cream and crunched nuts (the pancakes were surprisingly really soft and ever so lightly hold in the cream and nuts, definitely a light and refreshing dessert), and Mixed Nuts Pastille (crispy filo pastry stuffed with pistachio and hazelnuts) (which is steal a bite from SH, it was good but I am a nut lover so...). CS and me each ordered ice creams, which was Almond and Honey and Fresh Mint, they were good but not really something you expect from a Middle Eastern restaurant, so oh well, we do make wrong choices when we were filled to the brim.

Do go as soon as you can, if not now, to try this Middle Eastern fare (if price is not an issue), as there were rumours that it is closing down soon to make way for an Italian restaurant (I agreed with Lemongrass who mentioned “don’t we have enough of those already?”). If you need to know more before flying there straightaway, you can read some not bad reviews around, and then decide if you want to have Middle Eastern fine dining before the only choice left in Malaysia is Italian.

Le Meridien Hotel KL
Level 8, Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur,
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur.
603- 22637888

Note: I do really love Italian fares too, in case it came across as if I don’t, just that sometimes we do need some variety when it comes to food and especially for someone who is tham jiak.

Monday, March 09, 2009

In Praise of Pork – Char Siew

WARNING: Extremely non-Halal

As I am a true Chinese at heart, it was definitely filled with love for all things pork. Pork has been such a centrefold in Chinese cuisine, so much so, none can truly said they had fully tasted Chinese food without sampling its myriads of pork dishes. Just to name a few famous ones are the Char Siew (sweet barbecued pork), Siew Yok (roasted pork), dim sum (all pork varieties), braised pork, pork ribs, pork chop, minced pork atop many dishes, lap cheong (pork sausage), ham and oh so much more. How can I sing praises to good old pork? One way is to present all its glory in series of posts dedicated to it, that's how.

One best way, in my humble opinion, to present pork in all its glory is by singing praises of the caramelized skin to good combination of fat and juicy lean meat with charred skin for the extra texture, mother of all pork – Char Siew. Usually good Char Siew restaurant would ask you to pick between lean, medium or fat meat, which naturally, J and I would pick medium, for me the lean meat lover (oh pork aficionados do not look at me with that eye) and J the ones who revel in the full fat glory.

When I did a quick search in trusty Google for the ‘best char siew’ in KL and guess what, I was returned with pages of Meng Kee Char Siew in Jalan Alor. And yes I had to agree with Mr. Google here, the best Char Siew I have ever had was at this place. Thanks to a makan-kaki (fellow food-lover), JC (I am apparently running out of initials here for my anonymous friends, and why are there so many Js around?) , who very much likes to message me during Friday morning like this:

“Tham Jiak! Where are you going for lunch today?”
(For the uninitiated, Friday lunches are the epitome of all weekday’s lunches as it usually spans for officially 2 hours (technically more with excuses of traveling) for our fellow Islam friends to do their Friday prayers).

“Er, not sure yet...”

“Tham Jiak wor, how can...?”


“Come find me I bring you to THE Char Siew place!”

At this point the picture of sweet juicy BBQ pork invades my mind and I can even begin to taste it in my mouth (he brought me there once during my free and happy days in KLCC) and so my hand shift to auto-mode, typing furiously at the keyboard:

“Whoa, ok-ok, let’s go!”

It doesn’t matter that I worked about 50km away from THE Char Siew place. It also doesn’t matter that I had to pass two tolls to get there as soon as possible to bite into the said juicy meat. So I grab an unassuming fellow colleague, A, who is also a friend of his and well understanding to our Tham Jiak-ness, flew us at max speed there, while on the way having JC calling us in 10 minutes interval asking where we are, which I can only answer randomly reading out of signboards, which we both doubt he knows where but it is so obvious that he needs to have his Char Siew fix soon, and seating there waiting among tables of it, bathing in its lovely aroma is not helping.

About ages later, we got there, and once we sat down and before we can even utter finish “yau fan (oily rice), our table is filled with a big plate of Char Siew and some other lesser accompaniments like bean sprouts, steamed chicken, pork innards and Siew Yok (roasted pork) which could not quite match to its sister pork. The Char Siew here is arguably the best, with the sticky (yet not stick-to-teeth kind) skin, with slight tinge of sweetness, juicy sweet meat and with the right combination of fat and lean meat. Oh boy, thinking of it now makes me want to fly there again on next week’s Friday lunch.

Meng Kee Char Siew
13 Tengkat Tong Shin,
Kuala Lumpur
11.00am - 2.00pm
Closed on Sunday

But of course not all the time I am so adventurous and crazy as such to travel the distance, yes not even for my beloved Char Siew, and that though had my cravings crying at times during the weekend, was then finally answered by a new found place right in Petaling Jaya itself, what more a few stone’s throw from my place – Famous Seremban Favourites restaurant! Many bloggers had already sing praises to its Char Siew, and I had been hankering to go for a while, and finally one day, it was J itself that initiated for us to go there as he had a recommendation from a fellow colleague, have I not mentioned that this place was famous?

So we head there in glee one Saturday noon, and were immediately greeted by rows of yummy looking Char Siew hanging at the stall. But do not try to head to the stall and order like the usual hawker ways, the ordering is apparently restricted to boss, which is frantically trying to serve everyone by taking orders and claiming the bill all at once. To be honest, at times it was a bit frustrating trying to flag him down to get orders and also to pay up. If you are willing to stand the slow service and have an arm that does not tire from waving and with a heart steeled with love for Char Siew, then I definitely recommend this place for PJ folks who want to enjoy a good yummy Char Siew.

The skin is definitely charred to perfection, too sticky at times, and could be quite sweet so do be careful of dousing on the extra Char Siew sauce, combination of fat and lean meat which we ordered are the just right and juicy with the so famously quoted melt-in-your-mouth sensation. J and I had few times re-ordered in one seating as we could not seem to have enough of the Char Siew, which brings more pain to both parties due to the slow service and lack of help. Thus on subsequent visits, we tried to cover everything in one order. Also take note that they run out of Char Siew real quickly, once we arrive slightly after one and got disappointed as it had ran out and we had to make do by eating the other usual lesser accompaniments of steamed chicken, siu kao (this was not bad actually with generous filling), Hakka mee (worth a mention that it was among the best in PJ) and kon-lo lou shi fun (dry toss rat-tail noodle).

Famous Seremban Favourites
80-1 (Ground Floor), Jalan PJU 1/3B,
Sunway Mas Commercial Centre,
Petaling Jaya
7.30am - 5.30pm
Closed on the Tuesday

As for the last place worth a mention was actually the Char Siew in Restaurant Overseas, which I had a chance to try in a recent visit for a Chinese New Year dinner with fellow ex-colleagues at its Jaya One branch. I was seemingly excited for this dish, amidst all the other delicious sounding orders, and my heart nearly stopped when the waitress return to say that the roast pork we ordered ran out of...Siew Yok, oh no problem then, please bring the a plate FULL of Char Siew.

Picture courtesy of AC (once again I ran out of initials)

It was indeed a blessing in disguise, the Char Siew was also delicious with slight mixture of fat to its juicy lean meat, charred skin and not the sweet kind yet still retain the pork’s natural sweetness. I would have come back again for its Char Siew but I could not say the same for the rest of the dishes, thus finding it hard to warrant a revisit. If I ever get to have a nice sit-down dinner again at this place, I would certainly order a plate full of Char Siew again.

Restaurant Overseas
Jaya One
Petaling Jaya
603-7956 9911
11.30am - 2.30pm, 5.30pm - 10.30pm
Other Branches

There you all have it, the best of the best Char Siews in KL and PJ, recommended by this Tham Jiak. If any of you do have any other good recommendations for Char Siew do let me know! I am more the willing to indulge in more! Praise to the pork!

Note: Click on the resturant names for the map

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Western Food Nostalgia

I remembered that when I was young, the word ‘western food’ is a luxury itself. Just a note though for that tender age, my meaning of western food covers every other food that is not Asian, may not be accurate in terms of culinary but bear with this little kid alright. So my sister and I always pester for the luxurious western food, much to the chagrin of my parents, especially my daddy who if you give him a table spread with Chinese dishes, he is a happy man. So when can we ever get to eat luxuriously? Only on special occasions like mother’s day (a very good reason to celebrate for our mummy, ah, even when young we were smart enough to make it as if the reason is for my mummy and not our tummy). Our ‘western’ feast would usually be at Panorama, Taiping one and only famous ‘western’ restaurant, at that time. Our version of ‘western food’ mainly consists of fish and chips, chicken chop (I have to admit this restaurant makes a really good one) and mushroom soup, thanks to the limited choices in the menu.

Then one day my ingenious dad thought of a place to bring us to, when our whining for ‘western food’ got over to his head, that is a Chinese, yes noted Chinese hawker restaurant, that has a stall that served ‘western food’ and another stall serving Chinese food – char kuey teow,. So then, if ever we need to satisfy our cravings, our parents can savour the char kuey teow while sis and I have our chicken chop and fish and chips. How’s that? Later on, my dad took us to another western food stall at hawker center (a famous hawker eatery in Taiping with various stalls), where he claim that the cook is from Panorama itself, that came out to open his own business, a friend of my dad (did I mention that almost everyone in Taiping is his friend?). We were so happy to be able to enjoy Panorama western food there, not because it is cheaper by margin (that is for my dad to be happy about), but because it means more frequency of this treat for us while there are so many other stalls for my parents to choose from!

So after I came over to KL, that is how generally the story of my life would lead to, if you are a regular reader you would notice, I too would look out for ‘western food’. But of course in the meantime, I found out that there is much more to fish and chips or chicken chop or mushroom soup, but somehow I feel I would need a quick fix at some Chinese restaurant for ‘western food’. After 4 years of searching from KL to PJ (after moving over), I finally found the place, thanks to my dear J who introduce the place to me, at the heart of PJ itself, just a stone’s throw away from our place, SS3 western food, oh yes, the stall even name itself western food.

This place brings me back the reminiscence of those days I had western food with my family on a ‘normal’ day. Even the old-style tomato and chili ketchup here reminds me of the good ol’ days – the squeeze bottle style.

Once seated, you will be served promptly with a basket of generously buttered garlic bread. Naturally I ordered mushroom soup as a starter. This version of can-mushroom-soup style has some extra mushrooms chunks in it for some toothy feel and light enough without tasting watered down. It is also especially good to dunk in your bread into this one. These pair are entertaining enough while waiting for your main dish.

Then for J, being a big eater that he is, he would always order the mixed grill, consisting of fried fish, sausage, grilled lamb and chicken chop, serve with fried, mixed vegetables (diced corn, peas and carrot) and some sliced cucumber and tomatoes plus lettuce. This would certainly satisfy a ravenous boy while enough for me to pick on too.

For me, I would usually go for fish, now since older and had tasted better real fish and chips elsewhere, I seldom order it anymore, and thus I ordered the fish fillet in special sauce. It is actually dory fish fillet doused in some white sauce that I can’t really make out the ingredients, but I remembered that it was ok. It was also served with the same side dishes as the mixed grill.

I had also tried a few other dishes here (I don’t know where the other pictures have gone, I vividly remembering taking so many times, J even questioned me what were the differences, ha-ha), but anyway, I recalled that the chicken chop with garlic sauce was good but the grilled salmon was not that good as it was not that fresh, and the beef stew which I tried once was not bad, but I always somehow goes back to mushroom soup (for old time’s sake).

Come to think of it, it has been sometime since I revisit this good ol’ place, time for me to pester J for my ‘luxurious western food’, but this one I would not need an excuse of a special occasion or choices of Chinese food!

Restaurant Hup Soon
Jalan SS 3/29
47300 PJ
Jalan 3/29, SS3 Kelana Jaya
47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
4:30pm - late. Close on Tuesdays.
3°5'43"N 101°36'40"E

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bitter Come Back

Psst, has it been more than a month? Oh it is? Oh gosh, what excuse do would I have this time? What, none that could be sufficient you say? What bout it is the holidays? No? What bout it is the Olympic times? No? What bout it is my birthday? Phew, so that is reason enough? I nearly thought it would not and that would have greatly disappointed me.

So yeah, it’s the time of the year again, where as I mentioned just last year, would be time where families and friends get together with me to catch up and help me say good bye to tears and happiness of the past year and hello to more life to come. I have so much up my sleeves, life to live, goals to achieve and dreams to chase. First I have to have it all planned. Time and life seem to slip past me in tiptoes.

Recently J and I had finally ventured out again to a new eatery which we meant to try everytime we drove pass it but never did. Yes it is so near to where we live and besides, the name of the shop is does pick on one’s curiosity. It is called ‘Fu Kua Restaurant’ which means ‘Bittergourd Restaurant’ and yes, the notorious bitter vegetable that half the population love and the other loathe.

I still remember well on how my love affair with fu kua (bittergourd) started. Once my Ah Ma learnt this new dish, fried egg with bittergourd (chow fu kua tan) from a relative, she started to make it frequently whenever she got her hands on fu kua. It is like the style of your regular omelettewith onions, but sans onions and with fu kua sliced really thin (and amazingly uniformed,
if you know my Ah Ma). I. Hated. It. Yes, I did. First I shunned away from the dish entirely, then out of tham jiak-ness, I tore out bits and parts of the egg that are not attached to fu kua and eat it. Then next time when this dish came on the menu again, I did the same, where soon I started to tear of eggs that have some fu kua bits stuck to it and eventually I started to eat the fu kua with the egg. What happen? Well let’s just say I have eased myself into eating fu kua with egg. From then on, there was no turning back. I started even to eat other fu kua dishes and have ever since asked myself why have I deprived myself for so long. Of course up till now, my absolute favourite fu kua dish was still my Ah Ma’s fu kua tan, which sadly I cannot find anywhere else; maybe I should try replicating it.

Anyway, back to the fu kua restaurant. Guess what? Since the first time we tried this restaurant, it had been a love at first meal, and we have been back for four times, yes four, in the past few weeks. Why? This is because the food is yummy, and not to mention healthy and the services is quick and attentive. On all occasions they have not fail to deliver as expected. Oh ya, and the prices are reasonable too for its portions. Even J, the ever food and service critic, has given a thumb up to this place, now that is rare. It had became one of our we-will-definitely-come-back place. How can I not blog about it then? So to follow would be the galore of fu kua dishes for you from all of our occasions eating there.

This dish is our must have where we ordered at every occasion we are there, the fu kua tong (bittergourd soup). It comes with thin slices of fu kua (yes, uniformed and I am that detail) and pork slices, pork meatballs, chicken slices, ginger slices and tomatoes. I also taste that the soup base does have dried ikan bilis (anchovies).

Then the next dish was chow fu kua with taucu yu. It is a popular way that fu kua is prepared, where usually with chicken, but this one is with fish slices. Yummy as its counter part but with an extra bonus of soft meat.

We had also once ordered pork feet fu kua and was surprised by it. It is your usual stewed pork feet but this one added with the ubiquitous taucu to go with your huge slices of fu kua. Something different but I would not say the best. But beware, this one came in quite a huge portion, even when we ordered only for two.

I also could not resist ordering fu kua tan on the first occasion, but was slightly disappointed as it was not prepared my Ah Ma’s omelette style which I had been hoping for. Nevertheless, it was also good the way it is, if not better.

Then besides having meal with rice, they also have fried noodles dishes with yes, fu kua even! So we had tried both their fried tong fun (a kind of rice noodle) with fu kua and I would say it’s the usual dried style, just that it had been added with fu kua as ingredient.

But the other noodle which we had tried, fried kuey teow with fu kua and taucu was definitely different from your usual kon chao hor (fried kuey teow wet style). It was yummy and worth a try.

Before you start thinking that this restuarant has only all things fu kua, you are wrong. They do have many other Chinese dishes that does not have fu kua, some seem pretty interesting as well, so we did try a few. One which is new to us but surprisingly crunchy and delicious was the ham yu chao kai (fried chicken with salted fish). It came with chicken fried in salted fish batter and curry leaves, thus have the chicken with salty and deliciously crispy skins. A must try if you want something other than fu kua.

There was also once we ordered their chiu pai tau fu (house brand tofu) which was actually your usual block of local tofu but this version is fried and then top with minced pork sauce.

Oh yea, to end the meal, you just must have the fu kua drink. Yes I said fu kua drink. I ordered the first time anxiously and was surprisingly blown off by the taste. Its amazing. But do remember to first stir the honey at the bottom thoroughly to mix with your fu kua before drinking else it would be bitterly tasteless (if there is such thing). there is also a dried sour plum inside with the drink. It is a really special concoction that has me ordering every time I’m there.

Go on and be adventurous, and try this fu kua restaurant. Even a friend of mine, who was not that into fu kua, told me she found the dishes here to her liking. The place here prepared the fu kua in style that is not really bitter, most likely they have it soaked several times as how my Ah Ma had told me she does to take away some bitterness.

So there you have it, a seriously bitter post which is actually about something really delicious

Fu Kua Restaurant
Unit 19,
Jalan SS23/15,
Taman S.E.A.,
47400, Petaling Jaya
11am to 3pm and 5.30pm to 11pm
N3 06.931 E101 36.748

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