Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Eating Out : Jakarta, Indonesia - March 2007

I am beginning to sound like a broken tape recorder.... busy, busy, busy is my chant these days.... Lots happening at home and at work - trying my best to juggle things -cooking and eating are the 2 major activities which worked wonders in helping me to

Am looking forward to go back to painting - have left it for 15 years!

Anyway, another late post here - on Jakarta trip 2 weeks back.

As luck would have it, my colleague and I were moved out of the newly renovated Nikko Hotel to Mandarin Oriental Hotel as they had a fire 2 days before we arrived and water connection and etc were not in order. I don't know if I should be happy with it or not - Mandarin Oriental Jakarta is pretty tired in terms of decor - in need of renovation....

As it was late, we settled for dinner at one of the hotel restaurants - Zigolini

Beef Carpaccio for my colleague
Seared Scallpos with Bacon and Haricot Vert (french beans) for me
Ricotta filled ravioli for me (too heavy, only finished 1 out of the 3)

Our dinner at Zigolini was acceptable but nothing to shout about.

My more memorable meal apart from my all-time favourite Nasi Padang Sari Bundo (very near to Aryaduta Hotel) is Nan Xiang Steamed Bun Restaurant at Senayan City Mall.

Crispy Roast Duck with Mantou - extremely light crispy skin with tender meat with the right hint of saltiness - I dare say that this is the best roast duck I have had ever!
Hairy crab xiao long baos - picture is blurry but you can see the how moist these dumplings are. Best xiao long bao I have had ever!

We tried the la mian too but since I am not into carbohydrate food group, I can't really recall how they were.

I did miss out on Bakmi Solo's (a chain of restaurants run by wife of a client) Iga Bakar (Roast Ribs) and Bogor Cafe's Sup Buntut (Oxtail Soup)at Hotel Borobodur this time. **I find Sup Buntut from Hotel Elmi in Surabaya to be better **

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Claudia Spayed - Part III

Claudia recovered fast from ovariohysterectomy - we are so glad. And best of all, no behavioural change at all after her surgery - she is still as spunky as ever - and having also lost her 2 baby premolars just before surgery (at age of almost 6!), her appetite is now BIG!

So, I am a happy momma - baby's eating and playing well.

Here are some pictures taken after her surgery. Don't let the sleepy face fool you - she is bratty!

Post-surgery : 5th day
Post-surgery : 5th day (we gave her the nickname of "Storm trooper" because of her helmet-like hair)
Post-surgery : 12th day
Post-surgery : 12th day

A haircut is on her agenda....

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Greek Shrimp with Feta

I chanced upon this recipe while brwosing around for seafood recipes - kinda tired of the usual chicken and beef. I don't normally cook seafood at home as I do not get the chance to go to the market often to guarantee superfresh sea produce...

Anyway, I managed to go to the night market last Sunday at 4pm! And for once I could get really fresh shrimps because I was superearly. And I bought a nice half-baguette from Hiestand just in the afternoon too! So, a shrimp stew was just right for the stuffs I had in hand.

Here is the recipe from Beyond Salmon :

Serves 4

1-1/2 Lb medium shrimp, peeled and tails removed (I "deveined" the shrimps too)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbsp finely minced oregano
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (used canned whole tomatoes as I didn't have diced ones on hand)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Minced parsley for garnish (omitted since Barry and I are not into parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place shrimp in a bowl of iced, salted water (1 Tbsp kosher salt per quart of water) and let brine while preparing the sauce.

Set a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add olive oil, onions, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook stirring occasionally until onions are tender and golden, about 15 minutes.

Add garlic and oregano and stir until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and wine, turn up the heat and bring to a simmer. When the sauce starts to bubble, return to medium-low heat and cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Remove shrimp from the brine and dry on paper towels. Season with pepper and place on top of the sauce in one layer (don't mix). Sprinkle the feta on top. Cover, turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook just until shrimp turn pink, 2-3 minutes.

Take off heat, sprinkle with parsley (omitted) and serve with good crusty bread.

Verdict : We wiped our bowls clean! Yummy!! Besides, it's hard to fault especially since I love shrimps and feta cheese.

Japan - Quick Lunch and Izakaya...

When I travel for work, lunch is always a quick one. One example is the below : Spaghetti with mussels in uni (sea urchin) sauce topped with spring onions and nori seaweed - it was fresh, light and good enough to sustain us till dinner which were almost always too much.... One complaint about Japanese food is the high level of sodium. For dinner on the 3rd night, we were invited to an izakaya... I thought for once dinner wasn't going to end because of the amount of food that kept coming....
Pork on skewer dipped in black sesame
Starter - baby squid with seaweed, hiyayakko (tofu), salad with mini shrimps
Tempura - see the brownish "salt"?
There were also soba..... and fruits.... Burrrrp!!

Benkei, Nihonbashi, Tokyo for Tempura

Tempura dinner at Benkei - one of the most amazing tempuras I have had ever!

We were seated at the 2nd floor at one of their semi-circle counters.

According the little leaflet given out by the restaurant (the one for foreigners like me comes with a keychain in the shape of an ebi tempura!), tempura was brought to Japan from Europe in the 16th century!

There are 2 ways to enjoy tempura as explained in th leaflet :
1. With sauce (I am more familiar with this) - Mix the grated daikon (radish) into the sauce. Dip tempura in the sauce briefly before eating.
2. With salt & lemon - A dash of salt (Japanese style which is a bit brownish in colour) and lemon squeezed onto the hot tempura - simple yet the taste was amazing! Simply out of this world!

As a start, we ordered drinks. We started with Yebisu beer followed by cold sake probably because we were having hot fried food and the room was warm from the hot oil...

My sake - less dry and much, much smaller bottle than what the others had.... Didn't finish it though.
Starter - I love the kidney beans!
A small portion of sashimi
Sarada (salad)

The tempura chef at work
Some of the tempuras I had... it was not easy to take pictures with nice presentation. They were fried and served in order - it was not easy to refrain oneself from picking up the crisp light batter coated yummies and eat as soon as they were out from the oil and placed onto the paper-lined plate
Anago (sea eel) - May not score well in the looks factor but it was so delicious!
Pickles - yum!

Rice in soup with nori (seaweed)
Fresh fruits - so pretty!

Worth going back again next time but then again, there are so many good eats in Japan serving really fresh food especially seafood.... one can be too spoilt for choice.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Yamato Restaurant, Ginza, Tokyo

My colleague (from Shanghai) and I arrived our hotel at 9.30pm as the queue at immigration was long (2 flights arriving from China at nearly the same time as the flight I was on) and the bus ride from Narita airport was an hour....we were hungry...

We were recommended to a place pretty far away for food at that hour. We decided to look around the hotel area to try our luck... It's not easy, mind you.... to find someone who understands English....

Anyway, luck was on our side and we found this pork place called Yamato 5 minutes before 10pm. At first, we were given menu in Japanese and we were pointing at pictures to quickly order before kitchen closes at 10pm.... And we assumed by the waitress' sign language that they were either the tail, the heart, the lung, the stomach or you know what I am trying to say...

Good thing one waitress ran in with the English menu and the moment we saw shabu-shabu, we ordered it... and Kirin beer, of course!

Complimentary starter : pork balls in soya sauce gravy to slow down the stomach's protests...

The extras : Tofu, minced pork, mushrooms, leeks, bread and cabbages.... to further enhance the flavour of the soup in the large, heavy claypot...
The star of the meal : delicate pink, thinly sliced pork with just the right amount of fat.... didn't take long to cook this in the sweet simmering broth.... just perfect for a very hungry me...
The result : a hot pot that made me a happy woman...
I just realised that the address on the business card is in Japanese... the only English word on it is Yamato.... Well, at least you know that they are authentic Japanese - I didn't see any foreigners that night and it was packed though near closing...

Anyway, they have 2 branches and here are the numbers :

+813 5159 9751 and +813 3574 9751

Inflight Food : Malaysia Airlines KLIA-Narita & Narita-KLIA Sector

I usually do not eat much plane food preferring to eat before flying. After a decade of plane food, the smell of the food being warmed makes my head spin sometimes... At one time, I could even recite the menu without looking at it....However, the Japan sector is one exception and of course, the better one being from Japan to Kuala Lumpur...

I was preoccupied with work when I was flying to Japan and didn't bother with pictures... I started with the "customary" beef and chicken satay with nasi himpit and cucumber cubes.. skipped the onions just in case...

And I wanted the Japanese appetizer but was told that they have ran out of it.... so, I skipped appetizer and went straight for the main meal. I was in too good a mood to think too much about service onboard Malaysia Airlines as I had just secured my second Japanese order this year.... ;o)

Here is my main course, unagi kabayaki downed with Vincent Sauvestre Chablis 2005.... finished off with Haagen Daz vanilla ice-cream...

I was more observant on the flight home as it was after all, Friday.... And appetite was bigger... Satay again - now you know why I called it "customary"... It's in every Biz class flight as far as I could remember... And I still leave the onions behind.... My choice of aperitif : Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Brut 2002. They are very generous with the alcohol... filling it to the brim every time they walk past....
My Japanese appetizer!!!

Cold soba... not really into this but without the raw quail's egg, I can stomach it...
I love pickles!!!
The main course - beef... description of food in the menu below.... I didn't finish main course this time... Like I said, I can't eat too much plane food.... it's either mains or appies...
Dessert - wagashi filled with lotus paste.... so pretty... so tasty too... love them! And I had a little tub of Haagen Daz ice-cream again... my 2nd fave after Ben and Jerry's choc banana...

Grilled Mutsu Fish (Background) and Shrimp Mousseline (Foreground) served just before landing as snack.. I didn't try the pizza...and I noticed that it was the least favourite among the passengers on the flight which I took.. The mutsu fish was very delicate in texture and the mousseline was ok... tasted like yong tow foo...

Lafite at Shangri-la Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Am back from travelling. Good thing Bangkok trip postponed to next month... at least I get to stay at home for a week before going to Taiwan...

Lots of outstanding posts... and today, I am suffering from a bout of post diarrhoea... so, here goes...

Lafite is (or was rather) way up there in my choice of restaurants until I re-visited on 12 Feb 2007.... I should have trusted my instincts better when I saw "instant noodles" on the menu... Instead I brushed it aside and thot that they were just playing down an exquisite dish....

Prices have gone down (according to the chef de cuisine who came out to meet us, the restaurant is now full even on week days)... well, it's a no-brainer to figure out why...

I was very disappointed by the end of dinner.. well, even after appetizer.... apparently, the chef de cuisine is a new one... from Canada... I certainly will not be back until there is a new chef...

We had pan seared foie gras for appetizer... it's fine dining, so I kept my camera... but being so disappointed after, I just snapped away...

Main course of seared scallops - OVERDONE!!! Unacceptable for a restaurant of this calibre.. My boss asked if that was the solar system... I wasn't in the mood for humour...
His main course of lobster in macaroni.... He said it was acceptable..
My dessert - I tried to be safe by ordering fresh fruits... It came with a frothy sauce.. later I found out that the chef de cuisine is great at using stuffs like nitrogen and what not to create bubbles, sprays and "Breakfast" like the dessert below... It's actually a dessert with the "yolk" created from peach sauce (I think) which was cryogenically treated....

I have to give him credit for creativity but food sux...

Lafite used to give beautifully created petit fours at the end of meal... this time we had cotton candy sprayed with raspberry sauce hanging on a mini brown plastic tree in a pot filled with Smarties or M & M's (I couldn't even be bothered to look).. It was totally amateurish... I might as well go to McD for dinner and finish off with a candy bar from 7-11....

With all the gases used in the food preparation, I felt quite sick that night.... food did not stay overnight in my tummy....

Saving grace were the wines we ordered - the Sauternes (Chateau Broustet 2eme Classe Barsac 2000) and Beaune Montagne St. Desire...

Disclaimer : This is solely my opinion based on my own experience which may differ from the opinion of others.