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 Kuala Lumpur. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kuala Lumpur. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Time Out KL Food Awards 2010

I’ve always believe that good food establishments will last through the onslaught of economics as we all no matter what needs to eat, some of us wants to eat (yes, like me). We all have our own personal favourites for certain dish or certain cuisine. There are always the go-to restaurants when the cravings strike or when we need to entertain. There are also some place where it had swept us off our feet yet we know we can only go back once in a while, like playing a nice flirting game. Regardless of which, we always have our own love affairs with food and what’s the better way to show appreciation to them than having them crown with award as best in the country?

The coveted magazine Time Out KL (TOKL) is currently having their annual food awards, whereby thousands of KL-ites get to choose their favourite restaurants according to categories; this year in 2010 they have split it into 13 categories. Nominating has started and will end by September 16th with open fields where you can fill in whatever restaurants you want to and they will do the shortlisting for us. Then polls will be re-open in October 1st for us to vote the shortlisted ones in two stages and then onward to the eventual winner. 

So head on here to the Time Out KL Food awards and submit your favourite restaurants. My trick is to write in the first thought that came to mind cause if I tried to compare with another, my head will burst. After all I am tham jiak.  Fret not if you could not submit all the fields as it is not mandatory so just key in your favourites and cross your fingers. Hopefully by awarding our favourites they will stay in business long for us to continue to savour the food and satisfy our cravings. 

As TOKL says, every vote counts and this is the only food awards in Kuala Lumpur which are free and fair and voted by YOU, the citizens of KL. May the best restaurants win!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Prime Time, Ladies

The Lady in Red
She is the one who you would find packing three suitcases for a one week trip. Someone who would packed in lots of shopping of books and clothes, and sneaked in bottles and packs of chilli paste, spices and what-nots from Malaysia and then get slapped with huge amount for overweight baggage back to Jakarta. She would be the one who knows the best of quality, the right and appropriate thing to do at a time and she makes her decision firm and fast. She is one awesome clear and wonder woman I must say.

The Lady in Green
She is the sweet and lovely lady who will always ever so gently take you into her arms to comfort you in times when you were bawling like a baby. She would be the one listening to you when you need to talk or sometimes cajole you into sharing your heart out in order for her to understand you more. She would always be the one who took effort to keep in touch and to bring everyone together. She is the one who would always ask for your updates and genuinely care for you.

The Lady in Yellow
A no nonsense and down to earth girl, she pursues what she thinks is best and then excel in it. Perseverance and loyalty is her middle name, she works at things single-mindedly without fail be it work or personal. Nevertheless, since when we were still young and in our diapers running around our nanny’s home, she had always have a soft spot for me, letting me do what I want, getting into trouble yet still protect me from harm and even my nanny’s wrath sometimes. She is the best person to go to for a girls' day in.

The Lady in Black
The naughty one and the one who is never on time would be what you use to describe her. She is the one who would make the rest of the ladies to shake their head. She would be the one who would steal a cookie from the jar and forgot to wipe her mouth clean and the rest would process to laugh it off and help her clean it while rolling the eyes. Yes she was the one that feel so blessed to have the three ladies in her life.

The Ladies Meats are not the Men’s Poison
Most recently, the ladies except for the one in yellow, got to meet up after a long time. And it has been a really long time. This time, the ladies in green and black manage took this as an excuse for another extreme fine dining (the first with the lady in yellow), this time we go from middle eastern belly dancers to meat, meat, meat and just meat. Yes you heard it right, meat. Did I mention bloody and juicy?

Oh yes. I am talking about really fine good and dandy red perfectly cooked to medium rare of a perfectly fresh and juicy Wagyu beef. After the lady in black, which you all would have guessed by now is me, hem and haw, and hem and haw some more, over all the amazingly looking menu of red meats, I was pretty sure I would have want to try all if my wallet and waistline had permitted, but in the end I chose her ribeye meat of Australian Certified Wagyu Beef/Kobe Style. This was one of the best steaks I have ever eaten, and yes what a bold statement but true one to make. Not to mention at the same time we keep washing the meat down with the nicely paired pinot noir. Let us all smack lips in unison now.

To go with our meats, we all have the same array of side dishes. There was the baked honey cinnamon pumpkin wedges which I must say was my favourite, the honey was simply divine, not overtly sweet yet have this strong scent of sweetness that almost make me thought that it was sweet potato instead. Another top favourite of the sides coming in closely was the charcoal grilled Australian Portobello mushrooms with its smoky flavour mixed with its moist and strong mushroom taste. The only thing that would make this even better would be to top it with some caviar. Then there was also the creamy spinach with garlic which is unique and I didn’t know that spinach can go so well with cream and so now I do. Also at meantime, we have the luxury to also accompany our meats with specially concocted sauces, served in copper pots (which I simply love), that is the truffle sauce and wild mixed mushroom sauce. . 



While waiting for our meats, we had start to work up the appetite with some refreshing dishes like Classic Caesar salad and I must say this one holds true to its name of classis, simple and nicely mixed together with only the core ingredients of this famous salad, definitely make me rethink again how I have been misjudging it all these while. Another was the prawn and avocado with special sauce which was pleasant to the palate. The lady in red also wanted to have some soup to line the stomach for the onslaught of meats to come thus the order for the rich lobster bisque that came with a baked puff pastry top that makes one feel the joy of cracking it to get to the delicious orangey goodness inside.

Since at same time, prime was having a limited feature of Blackmore Wagyu beef, that are apparently prize as one of the finest meat, the lady in green suggested to order it and we definitely was glad she did. We had it ala salad style in order not to fill us up as we all each have individual servings of more meat. One bite into the soft buttery meat have me wishing we should have ordered more from this fine selection and who cares if we have more of other great meats too? In this matter, the more the merrier quote rings so true.

Not to forget, with honourable mentions, are the awesome hearty breads – wholesome walnut bread and enticing black pepper crusted elemental cheese bread, I was torn between the two and end up just helping myself to loads of both of them. This helps with the accompanying special homemade butter spreads of few versions – spicy, black pepper and plain. I believe they will rotate the flavours of these now and then. But I must say, the plain one won me over with its supreme real butter taste with real buttery texture, are such things even possible for a butter? Yes I think it does.

We started pleasantly and then climax at the supreme meats, the lady in red showed that she enjoyed her Australian black angus gourmet ribeye very much to, we will know end with a sweet note, or maybe few notes. My favourite was actually the simplest down to earth dessert of rich hot chocolate cake which came with chocolate sauce and the really smooth and rich stracciatella ice cream which I believe brought this dessert up into the sky. Then there was the everyone’s favourite of pecan mud pie with chocolate sauce which have a nice mix of ice cream with cake, pecans and biscuit crusts. Lastly was the crepe suzette with preserved orange zest which was good but I would have love more kick as I am more of a booze person, still it was alright.

The Ladies Palette of Colours
Mixing the ladies together will always produce loads of colourful antics. You will see them painting many canvases of wonderful memories. They already have a gallery full of colourful arts that depicts their adventures and love, especially for the ladies in green and black which virtually grew up with the rest of them. We are who we are because of them in some ways and we truly appreciate it. Most of all we must not forget the queen lady who brought us all together (two which she brought into this world), which is my nanny. I love you ladies!



Prime, Le Meridien
Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Kuala Lumpur 50470
Malaysia
603 2263 7888

Monday, August 02, 2010

Good Food, Great Company

Planning a holiday is no easy feat, what more planning a budget holiday. But a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do, and so she had been buried in planning for holiday. Don’t envy her, instead go out and plan your holiday now! Besides that, I had been settling back down in Malaysia, after my short but great stint in Manila, though I would say settling down had been amazingly quite smooth, it is almost as if I had never left. But I did, because I can remember vividly my wonderful time in Manila, it’s like a happy and adventurous chapter in the journey of my life, which I would say have warrant another post, or many posts on another day! For those my dear reader, I am sorry that you would wait cause now the focus is that tham jiak is back in town and being blessed that she is, not shortly after she got back she had been invited to a wonderful food review! This time she gets to dine with duo Frat and FBB, and at same time she finally got to meet the famous Aly. Nothing beats a nice dinner with a nice group of people.

So on with the food review of today, we started off nicely with garlic bread. I for one have never been really crazy about garlic bread, especially those dried hard ones with some miserable hint of garlic, but for this one, Monte’s did it really well. The bread was soft with crunch at the right parts and it has been generously lather with creamy garlicky butter. It is good enough to even eat it on its own, which I nearly did finish it till I hear there are soups coming, so I restrain to leave a bit for sake of dipping, I just like the act of it, for sheer habit or what not but I do. The soups came and did not disappoint in the dunking part, especially for the Oxtail soup that was really flavourful albeit a bit on salty side (but be forewarned I have low tolerance for sweet or salty either way) and as for the carrot pumpkin soup it was creamy and with subtle taste of both.

Then on came the appetizers to whet our appetite of course, I was already gearing up for more after a good dose of garlic bread. The escargot turned out to be good, kind of a pleasant surprise as I had few bad ones before, though I wouldn’t say that this was utterly authentic but it was whetting my palate for sure. Then next was the Juice Scallop and living up to its description, it was juicy and oh so tender. Though I would prefer to have more flavourful sauce, the pumpkin puree that they were resting on was alright with complementing texture.

After that came my new found favourite dish to eat nowadays – salad, and yes I am on a diet so there, but this one is not your ordinary salad per say. This one is a warm salad, with nicely cooked prawns, eggplants and topped with fresh cherry tomatoes and some greens. Certainly a nice twist to my usual cold salad repertoire though I wouldn’t say it was my favourite.  

Finally then came the real deal, our main course to fill up the remaining space of our stomach (not inclusive of the special compartment for dessert of course, who among you dare to say that you can be so full from food you cannot fit in dessert anymore).  First up was one of the two favourite of the lot that we had which was the pan-seared cod. I may be bias because I was always a fish lover, but still I must this one is really delicious, as the cod is fresh, cooked just right and the sauce was a flavourful companion. The next favourite, though I cannot decide which I liked more was the 8 hrs lamb, and as the name says, it was carefully braised for 8 hours in a special sauce and thus producing a dish where the meat is about to fall off itself and which literarily melts in your mouth, no kidding! I must say this is definitely one dish I would recommend to order if you are ever at Monte’s.

The rest of the main meal were the spaghetti marinara which was a classic dish that we all know but I would say that I like this version much, mushroom chicken which was served with herb rice and was indeed really paired well together thus not a surprise that this was one of the bestselling lunch dish due to its value in money while filling one up for the day and lastly the prawn and fish combo which I only manage to get hold of some big prawns that were freshly grilled.

With the stomach now filled up nicely, now came the part to fill up the secret compartment that was always reserved for desserts!  We had classic desserts which always seem to please many people for generations like bread and butter pudding, Hershey’s chocolate cake and carrot cake. I must say though the bread and butter pudding looks quite dry at first, it turned out that those thick dry crusts are the key part of this dish that gave it an interesting mix of flavour and texture, salty and crunchy in contrast to the rest of the sweet and fluffiness. While the chocolate cake (something I find hardest to take picture of next to a slab of steak) didn’t wow, it also didn’t disappoint and would certainly fulfill any chocolate lover (yes I am one) in need of a fix. The carrot cake was what I normally would make at home, crumbly and moist but most importantly not overly sweet, which of course please me very much and which also spur me to make one myself soon, though the icing was not the cheesy type that I would have preferred as the perfect pairing.

Oh and I just realize we have another mini secret compartment that was always there to be filled up with after meal drinks don’t we? Normally I love to wash down with a nice cup of coffee (if it is still early in the day as I have a coffee curfew so that I wouldn’t stay up late into the night) else tea or even alcohol will have to do. For this time, Susan Lee, Monte’s owner insisted that we tried a new special drink that she had discovered by chance – Green Tea Café Latte, which of course pique my interest as I am an avid fan of coffee and green tea! Who would have known these two can go so well together, kind of remind me of my favourite ‘cham’ (local coffee and tea mix) but with a Japanese twist instead! Certainly a good drink to end the meal and it was well worth breaking my curfew for.

Well who would have known then, tuck in a cozy little corner of the Bangsar Shopping Centre (BSC) would be a family sort of restaurant that would certainly have something for every members of every age. I would say, with its new chic décor, it also in some ways to penetrate into the younger market where it can be a nice meal reunion or celebration of sorts place. Did I also mentioned really value for money? Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Bangsar Shopping Centre,
F112, 1st Floor, West Wing 
03-2094 1112

Fellow tham jiak kaki reviews:

P/S: Much thanks to Susan for being such a gracious host, Dinesh and FBB for the invite, Frat and Aly for the lovely company.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Tale of Tutti 'Chocolatey'


I went up the stairs of a shop lot somewhere in TTDI, in hopes to do threading which is most likely the only single girly-pampering thing that I do, and only to be met with a locked gate. Then it hit me, a distant memory of the last round I was there, the lady mentioned that they would be shifting, but for me the life of me I could not remember where she said exactly but it is suppose to be somewhere in vicinity of TTDI. So I walked down and head directly across the road with a spring in my step. How come? Because I am heading towards dessert that would at least dampen the disappointment in my heart. 


3 minutes earlier
I was driving slowly passing through the road where the TTDI pasar (market) stalls had started their business really early of the day, it was barely evening yet. I was looking left and right, trying to keep myself entertained while I crawled across the street, maneuvering skilfully around the flocks of people that were walking around mindlessly. Then suddenly a bright little shop caught my eye and my heart leap to my throat, Tutti Frutti! There was a sudden flashback.

Few weeks earlier
I scroll through the post about Tutti Frutti in TTDi at masak-masak and think to myself, finally a frozen yogurt chain in Malaysia (again?). This shop is at least somewhere I can relate to and might be able to go when there is a chance. So I happily note it down in my tham jiak memory, salivating at the thought but right after forgot about it as usual. I actually do have an extremely long list of food to try in this part of the memory.

Back to the Moment
Apprehensively I push open the glass door, to be greeted by a clean white interior and few industrial looking silver ‘machines’ and a counter embedded with containers that holds many goodies and delights. So I walked over, looked at the available toppings, zooming in straight on M&M lookalikes and then a lady came over to greet me and sort of explain to me shyly while I listen shyly so you see, so I was even more apprehensive when I approach the huge industrial frozen yogurt dispenser. I pick up the paper cup in oppose to the plastic one because partly because of the cute red printing but mainly it is because it is much bigger. Bigger cup more yogurt! So firstly I pull the lever, too soft and the shy lady ask me to pull harder, so I did and to my delight it start squirting out McD ice cream look alike, and being first time I sort of stopped too late and got huge amount of the original flavour. Oh yes, I picked that besides the choices of probably 6/8, flavours  few that I can remember are original, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and kiwi. Naturally I picked chocolate (my favourite!) for the next flavour, you can mix as many as you like as they charge by weight, so less chocolate this time as I got better control of the machine, and then head on to the toppings counter. Next I pop in M&M’s lookalikes and some mini versions of Coco Pops, ah I should have made this a chocolate indulgence but oh well. Then I placed it less apprehensively onto the weighing scale by the cashier and was guessing the price in my mind when I was told - RM12.50! (priced at RM5.30/100 grams)


And oh boy, the chocolate was oh-so-good, chocolatey, creamy and smooth; you would not believe you are eating yogurt (healthy one at it)! And not to mention my chocolate toppings! But the original though was bit disappointing, not as smooth, sort of tangy, it was good but not addictive enough. I wished I had more of the chocolate and less of this, but I may be biased here, I am a chocoholic. Though I must say the selections of topping is quite limited and unappealing, especially the ‘fruits’ one as it is mainly cocktail look alike, and the gummy bears do look less fresh and sticking to each other. I might give this outlet another chance again even though the price is a bit steep, if not for the toppings then definitely for the chocolate yogurt! Of course the sort of M&M’s and mini coco pops are also good sinful additions that calls for me!

Tutti Frutti (same row as KFC)
11, Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 3,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail,
60000 Kuala Lumpur.
037725 2101
11am-11pm (if I am not mistaken)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Lamb Affair

Quite a while ago, I dined once at Dubrovnik, on a company’s dinner and did not quite enjoy myself with the food served. Either we had all ordered wrongly, or that night the Chef has an off day or they were still new just then, the food did not quite live up to the expectation, especially at the price it was offered in. Thereafter, I have not return to the restaurant again. Then one fine day, I got invited by Frat and Alice George Communication to have a food review at Dubrovnik. My eyes perk up, memory flashes back to my old encounter and then decided to forget that and goes for a fresh start. After all, everyone deserves a second chance. And true enough, this was a deserving one.


Before I head on to talk about the food, let me explain a little of what Dubrovnik is, it is the only Croatian restaurant in Malaysia, named after a city and brought to you by Chef Zoran who has since moved to Malaysia since 12 years ago. Chef Zoran takes pride in making his own pasta and bread and even have a wood fire oven in the kitchen! The restaurant boasts clean and simple design, with clear lighting and plain white and dark bluish grey theme.


So back to the food! At this round of food review, as later also explained by the Chef, is that they are trying to showcase lamb, and how it can be cooked in many ways while holding true to Croatian style of cooking. We are served lamb in many forms from bare baked lamb to lamb baked in cheese to even lamb burger. Are you feeling hungry already? But before that, let us start with some carbs to line the stomach first. We were served with two hand-made pastas in completely different form and sauces.



From left: Spaghetti Ala Buzara and Prawn Orzo


I simply love the Prawn Orzo, because of the pasta. “It is not rice-pasta, it is pasta shaped in form of rice” I keep hearing it from Dina, General Manager of Dubrovnik and daughter of Chef Zoran, as we unassuming bloggers keep saying “oh it is rice pasta” whenever one asks another what is it. Anyway, I digress, this dish is amazing. The pasta shaped like rice is slight chewy yet with bite in small forms, it was in fact a delight to eat and not to mention the sauce complements it really well along with lovely big fresh prawns. Ah, I wish to eat this again! Dina was asking whether it is alright to put this on the menu (it was a new creation), and all of us reply with a resounding ‘YES!’ The spaghetti ala Buzara was quite good as well with lashings of olive oil, garlic and parsley, just that the Prawn Orzo got the bigger limelight.



Anyway on to the real limelight of the night that is the lamb, the lamb and the lamb. Yes you heard me right, the lamb! First up was the Lamb Peka, where the lamb was present at its most naked glory. The lamb is seasoned with pepper and salt and some special Croatian spice mix call Vegeta (mentioned in the brief recipe provided to us) and then placed on top of potatoes, carrots and celery and then slowly baked in the wood fire oven covered by an iron bell. Just writing the recipe makes me want to eat it again, though I must say the lamb was slightly on the salty side, other than that it would have been great! Then onslaught to the next lamb, which is lamb buried in mounts of cheese and tomato sauce and baked till it is all soft and ready to melt in your mouth – Lamb Goulash.



And it was oh so good, actually my favourite lamb (yes, of ALL the lambs) of the night, soft, tender, smooth, with the lamb taste still very strong through the rich sauce! Though I do wish I had better companions to eat with this rich dish or maybe to have a bread to mop up all the saucy goodness. After that came the youngest, or rather cutest lamb of all that is the Lamb Burgers. I just can’t help but smile at the plateful of mini burgers huddle together on a plate.


Smile!


So cute but still we need to eat it right, and chomp it down I did. It was good burgers I say! Love the mini buns which were like home made style, and the lamb was flavourful and good (though after a while it was slightly too salty again) and with the surprise feta cheese in the middle was a good finishing touch to this miniature delight. After when all was devoured and we rest a while chit-chatting, Frat nudge me and whispered “Do you want to have another burger?” My eyes lifted and look at them beckoning at me, so I whispered back excitedly “Yes sure!” So he took one of the babies and passed to me, everyone asked “Whoa, how many you had?” I answered cheekily “Just one and a half”, as my first one I shared with Ruth because I was afraid there weren’t enough to pass around (ok, I admit I was not sure if it would be good and I want to save my tummy for the rest of the food, ahem) but since it was good and we have more than enough left, I have another again. Besides, Frat offered me.


From Left: Cream Spinach, Sautéed Mushrooms, Baked Potatoes with Cheese and Spices, Sautéed Spinach with more Mushrooms


Along with the lamb, lamb and lamb, we also have some side dishes to go along with it. All of them were alright, not screaming creation, and truly just as sidelines. Among all the best were the baked potatoes, mainly for the flavourful crunchy cheese bits on the top. Then finally before we end the meal, Chef Zoran came out to meet us in person, gave a little speech and then proceeds to showcase the preparation of a dessert for us – Crepe Suzette. Just then I thought of my colleague who not too long ago asked me (yes, he found out this that I was tham jiak) where to get good crepe suzette in Malaysia, and so I look on with interest to find out if the one here would be good. I love the idea that Chef Zoran lavishly pour in the liquors of Cointreau and Brandy. When he pours in the alcohol everyone holds their breath for the flambé and boy, was it fiery! Though at that time the preparation seemed really simple but indeed I can see that the crepe has been prepared beforehand and to know cooking each crepe perfectly would have been time consuming. I enjoyed my crepe suzette very much, partly thanks to the generous liquors but also for the fresh and strong zest of orange that were added. (yoohoo, colleague reader of mine, yes you can come here to answer your cravings for crepe suzette!)



Ending with a sweet note, overall individual dishes as it came, I would recommend you to try out the Prawn Orzo (if it gets onto the menu), all the lambs – Lamb Peka, Lamb Goulash and Lamb Burgers, and ask for some bread or something light to accompany, call some good wine or cocktails, and then end with a sweet note of Crepe Suzette. Lovely! So if ever you decide to splurge and to taste Croatian food, do give Dubrovnik a try.

Restaurant Dubrovnik

J-0G-14,
2 Jalan Solaris, Mont Kiara,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tues-Sun 11.30am - 11.30pm

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.
03-77107860
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:
FatBoyBakes
Boo-licious
Mr. Cheong
Nigel
Frat Mustard

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.

Al-Nafourah
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...?”

“Erm...”

“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
* Malaysia * Good Food * Recipes * Travel *Reviews * Asia *