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 Scouring for Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scouring for Food. Show all posts

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Taste of Kampung

Buka Puasa, which means literarily ‘to open the fast’, is done in the month of Ramadhan. Malaysia, has a big percentage of people who are Islam that observes this fasting in the day and break their fast at Maghrib (sunset) prayer time. Being part of this multi-cultural country, the rest of us non-Muslims couldn’t help but also join in the feast that comes with the buka puasa. These elaborate meals are mostly for the community to get together and nurture fellowship. In Malaysia it also tops to nurture the sense of Muhibbah (living in harmony) between all of us. Here for the elaborate meals we can have from the roadside Bazaar Ramadhan (local food market that only opens during these times) to restaurants featuring various promotions to fine dining and buffets that cater specially for this. At these times the feasting was great as various hard to get authentic local dishes will gather in one or few places for us to savour.

Therefore when I was invited to have a Ramadhan buffet review in Paya Serai, Hilton PJ, I knew I would be in for a great feast and thus accepted eagerly. Boy was I right! The buffet spread headed by Chef Noor Hisham definitely did not disappoint as it offers extravagant spread of over 100 local and international cuisines. Apparently it changes every week but at the time that I went is enough for me to think that I covered most of the important dishes in Malaysia. As I walk from the buffet line inside to the outside where they had set up mini stalls, nicely decorated with kampung (village) style and serving local delights had me gush with excitement, mentally noting to taste everything, well almost.

As I was taking pictures earlier before the buka puasa starts, a man was curious to why I was doing the picture shootings thus I explained that I am a food blogger here for review. Then straight away he gushes on with the reason why he came here for buka puasa and it had been one of his favourite choices because here is where you can find the real authentic taste of Malay food. He added that you may find the same dishes in other buffets but none can compare to the real taste here and to top it off the variety we can find here as well. Being suddenly really tham jiak and focusing on what I would eat soon I actually forgot to ask the name of this young man that gave me the secret information, thus I hope if you are reading this and you recognise your praises do drop a comment here!

Armed with this new information, I resolved to taste all the local Malay dishes above anything else. Here you would be able to get all the authentic kampung dishes in one place! I started with the scrumptious appetisers of Buah Jeruk, Acar Rampai, Kerabu Pucuk Ubi, Kerabu Nangka, Taufu Sumbat and Sup Ekor. I am totally a fan of all these acar and kerabu dishes, which are sweet, sour and slightly spicy, it is a delight to the tongue, truly something Malaysian. Honorouble mentioned also goes to the Sup Ekor (oxtail soup) that was so rich and flavourful, I just had to lap it all up.

For the main course I zoomed in on all the Malays dishes again, ranging of Nasi Lemak with sambal sotong, beef rendang, ikan masak lemak (fish curry), assam prawns, lemang, serunding daging (dried beef flakes), kacang botol and satay. At the ‘live action’ stalls that I mentioned, you get chefs cooking and serving you freshly made food Kambing Panggang, Roti Jala, Putu Piring, and Murtabak. Here notably with tham jiak stars was the nasi lemak with sambal sotong (spicy squid) as the sambal was really good and the sotong cook till tender, it was almost perfect except the absence of wrapping in banana leaves. Another noted was the roti jala was done really well too, I had second helpings of it. The satay (barbecued meat on stick) were tender yet crunchy on the outside got the thumbs up from me.


At the end for dessert, time for me to open up the other section of my stomach, we had so many local choices again like Bubur Pengat Pisang, Bubur Durian and many more Buburs in a row, freshly made Apam Balik, Tapai Ubi and Malay Kuihs. From here I must say I love the Pengat Pisang which was not overtly sweet as the usual that I found and the texture of it was just right, and the Bubur Durian, which was also not too sweet and with the pungent taste of this king of fruits that doesn’t overpower but it doesn’t hide as well. A second helping of this Bubur Durian seals my kampung feast of tonight nicely.

Thanks again to Frat and the lovely ladies of Zest PJ for the invite to this wonderful Ramadhan buffet. Indeed it was a scrumptious meal and it made this tham jiak very happy to be able to taste so many authentic Malay dishes at one go. For those who would also want to buka puasa here or just to join in the fellowship as well, here are the information:

First 3-days of Ramadhan
Adult: RM75++
Child (below 12 years old): RM45++
The next one-week
Adult: RM99++
Child (below 12 years old): RM59++
The following weeks
Adult: RM109++
Child (below 12 years old): RM69++

More information at Zest PJ

Paya Serai
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat,
46200 Petaling Jaya,
Malaysia
603 7955 9122 extn. 4260/1

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.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Chill at Uncle Chilli's

If you're looking for a place to chill with good booze and music, yet still have a hearty meal, Uncle Chilli's is the place for you. I came here once when we had the previous food review Toh Yuen, which has to-die-for Chinese food and if you have not read about that yet you must here, and that time I had a had a great time, performances were great and drinks kept on coming! But it had never occur to me that one can have a complete meal right at this place itself while still enjoying the drinks, the atmosphere and the crowds.


I must say it is a bold concept by the Hilton PJ folks, but the bold achieves great things right, so hopefully this concept works out. I had a great time there and had been thinking of right occasions to bring my friends as well. This is the kind of place where you just want to go for a good meal, have a good chat and then continue to party without adjourning to elsewhere. Beware though if you plan for a quiet night of talking, you would need to leave at night before the live performance starts.

So with bold concept of the place comes bold concept of food? Not quite so but I must say I totally enjoy the unpretentious and hearty meal that they offered here in Uncle Chili’s. We started off with Caesar salad, I for one was never really a fan of this salad, but this one here has the right balance on balance of creaminess yet fresh, but I think the winner was the perfectly cooked egg, just the right softness with slightly gooey yolk, ah who would have thought the best food in life is one of the most basic one at that, and it could only have been better if it was a perfectly poached egg instead. Hah, pardon me.


Then on came the Crab Bisque, such indulgence for an appetizer, but nonetheless it was delightfully rich, creamy and smooth to the palate. I would definitely order this if I come again, only that this time I might request for less salt.


Then came the excruciating decision making part, where we had to decide between seemingly delicious mains – Uncle Chili’s burger with guacamole and spicy salsa (just typing this makes me want to have it now) or Tomato glazed black cod with seared scallop in saffron broth (sounds truly elegant and inviting) or braised lamb shank with onion confit (definitely sounds like comfort food to me). So after gnawing and gnawing on my fingernails, I came to conclusion to go for the black cod, but of course after we had a compromise with the rest to order burger and lamb shank for sharing. Ah, how apt, this tham jiak was excited at the prospect of trying everything!

But first with her choice, she was very please indeed, as it was definitely the best of the three, at least for her, as the saffron scented broth was really flavourful while the cod and the seared scallop was exquisitely soft yet toothy. The beans were also a clever addition to the texture dimension of the entire dish.


As for the rest of the mains, the Uncle Chili’s burger holds true to its name for being a signature dish, standing tall and wide, it holds promises of huge juicy meat patty with loads of generous filling squeezed in between it. The fries were also addictively good as it were crisp and nearly devoid of oil. Though I must say I would have preferred better kick of salsa and guacamole, the main star as we can quite see was actually the burger itself.


Besides that, the lamb shank was good, as the meat was soft and juicy while swimming in a good measure of broth. The sunny side up egg gave it a little perk too.


Of course then, after a full and satisfying meal, will then come the next favourite moment for this tham jiak – the dessert! I find it that, no matter how full one can be from all the food, there is always a spare room in there that has the space for desserts. Is it only me or is it so for everyone else as well? I hope you would agree cause it would be quite a shame to miss the dessert here as the one we had was pretty good. Nicely assembled was the warm chocolate pudding with amarulla pudding, which is topped with a peanut butter crunch and then piled on with macadamia nut ice cream. Is your mouth watering yet? The whole assemble was cleverly thought out, with enough crunch, slightly warm creaminess and chocolatey sweetness atop with some cold ice cream.


So there goes, a nice dessert to end a nice meal of the night which was started with some nice appetizers, but of course the most important of all, was accompanied by a nice bunch of people to make it a truly enjoyable dinner. Once again thanks to the lovely people in theQguides.com and Zest PJ for having this tham jiak enjoy another wonderful meal at Hilton PJ.

Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat,
46200 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor, Malaysia
Menu

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)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Cyber Series 2: Hot, Hot Dengkil Chilli Fish


Me, becoming a spicy eater
Once upon a time (was it that long ago?) when I was still a little kid and growing up in Taiping, I used to be one of those Malaysians that people would say to “What! You cannot eat spicy ah? How to be Malaysian like that?” So sheepishly I would smile and then continue with whatever I am eating. But now, after intensive trainings due to my tham jiak-ness where I would brace myself to eat spicy food just because I want to try it or I like to eat it so I have to feast with tears welling in my eyes, nose sniffing all the way while mouth keep opening and closing like a fish out of the water, and then further more I add in gung-ho when eating out with A and M during our Bangkok working days, I want to show I can devour all things spicy in Thai and boy do the Thais know their chillies, I became one of those who can eat nearly all levels of spiciness without subjecting to tears and rushing for a gulp water.

Spicing up work-life in Cyberjaya
As I mentioned about A and M, they were actually my ex-colleagues from the heydays of Bangkok traveling, the time I learn up the skills that had so far determined my path in my career, and also apparently the time I sharpen my skills of ‘spicy eating’, and then after that we three have parted in our own ways while still keeping in touch and somehow after that as fate has it, we three united once again in, of all places, Cyberjaya, where A became my colleague once more while M became a ‘neighbour’. So naturally we three goes out for feasting again, like how we did in Bangkok, and my tham jiak-ness is definitely nothing foreign to them at all after witnessing my eagerness and passion in surfing, noting down and going all around for food. Before I join the Cyberions, A and M have been quite a while at that location, therefore sparing me of all the hard work of hunting for good food and solving the ultimate question of what to eat in Cyberjaya!

A name in context
There is one story though that I think worth mentioning in this post due to its appropriateness of the context and story wise. During our time in Bangkok, there was once we were out eating with a client, a Thai guy and he called my name as such “lah cheeelll”, which amused them immensely as A thinks that it sounds like him calling me la jiao (chilli in Mandarin) and thus the name was coined to me. After numerous times of calling me la jiao, soon it morphed into once a while calling me by the name lat jiew (chilli in Cantonese) because we normally converse in Cantonese.



Finally, the hot, hot chilli fish!
Therefore, A happily said one day when we were heading out to lunch “lat jiew, I am taking you to eat lat jiew yu (chilli fish)”, while snickering away. Yes I may be rolling my eyes at the lameness of the joke but secretly my heart skip a bit at the exciting thought of eating both of my favourite things together – chilli and fish. This particular dish, when mention with chilli, it truly meant chilli whereby you will be presented with kon chin ma yau (fried threadfin fish till dry) swimming (pun not intended) in a thick slightly sweetish sauce that is laden with loads of chilli padi (bird eye’s chilli) and red chilli sliced thinly. Just looking at it may make a non spicy eater seized up, but don’t let the mini chillies deter you, this dish is in fact not really spicy, just with hint of it and it goes really well with the dark sweetish sauce and superbly crispy fish. Although I must admit that I have long since surpass even my own expectation of my ability to eat spicy stuff, where nowadays I can eat hot dishes without breaking a sweat while people around me had started imitating the ‘fish out of the water’. Nevertheless, trust me on this fish, it was so worth the spiciness if you’re afraid and I have seen even M, the one we used to laughed at for not being able to take spicy food, enjoys this dish happily.





And the lesser accompaniments
Also for this place you may ordered the usual Chinese eatery dishes of stir fry vegetables, my favourite would usually be the cheng chao fan shu yip (clear stir fry sweet potato leaves), but once we were recommended to try their steamed beancurd embedded with fishballs on a bed of lettuce leaves, something special but not what I really like, especially that I have a high standard when it comes to fish balls, they have to be rich in taste of fresh fish. The rest of the dishes I tried were mostly home cooked style, the ku lou yok (sweet sour pork) does not make the cut for being too floury and sweet, but thankfully the stir fry pork with ginger was good with real home made feel.

Burp, Dengkil rocks!
So it seems Dengkil boasts many good foods, like the nasi lemak that I talked about, if you know where to look. Lucky me to have A and M showing me around, so now I passed on yet another humble and assuming yet amazingly delicious food to you who may scratched your head on what to have for lunch or dinner if you are a Cyberion or just happen to be around the neighbourhood of Cyberjaya or Putrajaya.

Restaurant Sin Ki
Jalan Besar,
43800 Dengkil,
Selangor

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Taste of Happiness and Freedom

Every animal has its place in this world. Every animal has its right to live. So does a chicken. If needed to be bred for food, then at least they should be bred humanely. Free range is the way to go, where the chickens are free to roam the plains and live the way they would want to live, well yes in certain confined parameters, but who doesn’t live in such parameters, even us do. Anyway back to the chicken, so have you ever thought about those chickens cooped up in a tiny cage barely enough for them to stand straight all their live and then slaughtered for food? How can one eat an unhappy chicken? In fact does the chicken even know it is living? In light of current movements where we start to understand where our food comes from, and we start to care where and how it comes to right in our plates, then definitely we need to know that even if those we consume are in the food chain and in course with nature, we should at least have done that in most humane way as possible. Even animals killed another animal with grace (mostly), and so we should likewise have done the same, be it we hunt them or more ubiquitously now in modern times where we rear them.

So here I introduce to you about a company called Sunshine Chicken (how apt!) with a heart that owns a 15 acre farm up in the highlands of the outskirts of Kuala Lipis, Pahang. Although a fairly new company, they had definitely started on the right foot in my own humble opinion, where they retain a sort of kampung (village) environment of lush green fields and fresh clean air as their setting for free range chicken farming. Here is sort of like chicken utopia, where they are allowed to live almost freely as animal. According to Sunshine Chicken, “Happy Chickens makes tasty chickens! Stress free means toxins free, makes our chickens taste more like chickens and less like something manufactured. “ . Also one key point to note was that they fed their chickens the natural ma cho, which literary translates as horse grass, it is well known in our Chinese community for its good natural properties. Even at home, J’s mum plant ma cho for own consumption, where she would boil the stalk parts for a refreshing drink! It tasted like light sugar cane water minus the whole load of sweetness. If you think this has already been special enough, wait till you hear about the castrated chickens. That’s right, castrated, and which they are also known as a Capon. According to my favourite information site online, the Wikipedia, the castration produces a unique type of poultry meat where the male would accumulate more body fat and in overall often to have more tender, juice and flavourful meat in comparison to a normal chicken.


Being a tham jiak, and having a huge good bunch of foodie friends, allowed me to explore this wonderful happy and fatty too in some, chickens, where indeed it was seriously tastier, I kid you not. Thanks to Babe in City - KL and Gerald, who organized this great outing and for inviting me to it. As we can read at babe’s blog, we all have gathered at Kedai Makanan Chef Tam in Selayang, I got there easily thanks to my GPS. Here we were served with both the aforementioned special chickens. We had the ma cho kai roasted deep fried and then hung to dry. Indeed such a unique preparation that had most of us thought roasted, no wonder it had such crispy skin yet do not taste oily at all! Thumbs up to the chef! As for the capon, we had it at its natural best, where it was just simply steamed with some salt – steamed yim kai. And for this, I may so attest to what had been explained by dear Wikipedia, it has a superb texture which is toothy yet juicy! With accompaniment of the minced ginger that pack a punch and a flavourful soft rice that was cooked with the steamed chicken broth, I swear I could eat just these as a meal itself!


But apart from the chicken being the main thing of the entire affair, somehow the seafood does take a piece of their own 15 minutes of fame. With fresh seafood sourcing directly from their famous neighbour Jin Chwan Seafood Garden, we get to eat the fresh, plump and creamy oyster which was one of those rare ones that does not have the sang mei (the sort of metallic taste that you get when eating seafood that are not fresh). We also had the steamed Garoupa from Sabah which was in another of Chinese simplicity to present the best out of the fresh fish.


Also to accompany our meal, and also to probably clean our palate from all those indulging food, we have the tofu and the stir fried green vegetable. I really liked the tofu where it was fried to create a ‘casing’ that gave a light crunch before you get to the smooth silky part. I truly enjoy this humble dish, which may actually be not so humble anymore judging the skill needed to prepare it.


This meal has truly been eye opening, I learnt a lot that when one cares where does the food comes from, be it free ranged animals to live fresh seafood, it does wonders to the end product of the dish. Like the philosophy I hold to when it comes to cooking, get the best and freshest ingredient, half the job has already been done to make the dish good even before you cook it. Therefore, try free range chicken if you want to cook up a feast, you may get them from Sunshine Chicken through these places or contact Gerald if needed. As for those who would like to savour them with skills of a chef, I would certainly recommend you to try out Chef Tam’s.

Kedai Makanan Chef Tam
6A Jalan Bidara 2/4,
Taman Bidara, Selayang.
603 6138 8751
12pm-3pm, 6pm11pm

Jin Chwan Seafood Garden
9 Jalan 2/4,
Taman Bidara, Selayang
603 6138 2633
Business Hours:
8am-10pm

45-2, 2nd Floor, Jalan Menara Gading 1,
Medan Connaught
56000 Kuala Lumpur
6039102 3950

Here are some of the lucky tham jiaks at that time:

Friday, December 11, 2009

And the Duck Goes

Best duck in Klang Valley? Possibly. Best duck in PJ? Most likely. Best duck in Seapark? Definitely! One day I had a chance to be around my favourite PJ area and so caught up with fellow housemate to eat duck at the famous Sunrise restaurant


For this place it is better to be early than be sorry. Once long ago, (did I say long?), when I was still in university, my friends and I had eagerly went there bout ‘normal’ lunch time, before 1pm and was told that all has been sold off. I was like ‘What!” and stared at the rows of duck hanging still at the stall and then I sweep the entire restaurant in seconds to be greeted by tables empty of ducks and patrons anticipating hungrily. So we shrug and left in disappointment. But after that I did have a chance to try it once or twice when I am ever early enough to catch the bird, literary. 


So this time imagine my delight when we were seated promptly and then ordered half a duck for both of us, my eyes bulging at the thought of it but who cares, I am ready to take on the challenge. Just when the duck came and is laid in front of us, crispy sin glistening atop tender juicy looking duck meats, all doubts went out the window. I am ready to devour it clean!




What makes this one of the best duck in town? One, as I heard from friends that are generally more sensitive to eating duck due to its ‘gamey’ texture and taste, they said that the ones over here are overall less rubbery and lighter in taste yet manage to retain the unique taste of duck. How does one began to describe the taste of duck? As for me, the tham jiak, I am all for either end of duck spectrum, but for this one, I absolutely love the juicy meat, rare in ducks, and crispy skin. Just look at the skin again! The sauce that comes with it also complements the crispy duck very well, definitely a dish that helps one finish up the entire plate of rice. Burp!
Now what are you waiting for? Go out there and get the possibly best duck in town!

Sunrise Restaurant
31, Jalan 21/1

Sea Park
46300 Petaling Jaya
Selangor
03-7876 9689

Daily except Mondays, 11.30am till sold out

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
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