Saturday, June 23, 2007

Random Blog

Phew! Weekend at last!

I have been busy (what's new?)... from preparing my presentation for pre-budget meeting in Bintan, traveling to Singapore and Bintan, meeting up friends from uni who were back from Beijing for a short bit, spending time with mom, bros, sistas, nieces and nephews, spending time with Barry and Claudia (will update some stuffs on our plans later), catching up with girlfriend Amy in Singapore, eating ba chang to catching up on work. Lots more to do... esp. since traveling to Paris/Brussels early July is in the cards.

Anyway, highlights :

1. Porridge buffet at Orchard Hotel Singapore courtesy of Amy - if you read my blog regularly, you would know that I am a fan of the humble porridge. There were plain porridge, sweet potato porridge, brown rice porridge and made-to-order fish porridge while I was there.

They have everything imaginable to go with porridge : blanched vegetables with garlic oil, 5-spice braised intestine and chicken, braised pork, drunken chicken, fried salted veg, Szechuan veg, dried anchovies, dace with black beans, preserved olive leaves, bamboo shoots and so on... truly a refreshing meal.

2. When I found a tick on Claudia after an outing : Barry, the good papa said sternly to our little girl "if you are bringing friends home, you have to ask first". Claudia just sat and stared at him while being lectured. Made me laugh.

3. My mom's ba chang. Everybody who had it said it was her best ba chang yet this year. I am not biased just because my mom made the ba changs. These are claims by non-family members. And my mom made 2 batches due to popular demand.

She said they were good because she never held back from putting lots of goodies like chestnuts, dried mushroom, dried shrimps, shallots and just minimal 3-layer pork. She is right. Very rare to see 4 chestnuts in a ba chang.
4. Grilled seafood (fish, scallops, shrimps, squids) in Bintan served with 12 kinds of dip - sambal, green sambal, bird's eye chilli (BEC) in fish sauce, BEC in dark soya sauce, BEC in light soya sauce, BEC in sesame oil with shallots, BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, chilli sauce and I honestly can't remember...

We rounded off the meal with panna cotta. If only the relaxing sunset scene with palm trees on the dessert plate was true of my week in Bintan.... budget preparation ALWAYS gives me zits. Sucks.
5. Bought 60ml Coco Chanel Mademoiselle EDT at a very very very special price from DFS courtesy of Amy... I could have picked more than 1 bottle of perfume from Burberry and Bulgari and Gucci stuffs but restrained myself as I had just went crazy at Zara and on books the week before. Also, have just opened a new bottle of Gucci Envy. But, I did add some eye colour and mascara from Clinique to the shopping basket at Changi Airport. I needed therapy... retail therapy... Singapore is a dangerous place. ... and I have no loyalty to a scent. LOL!

6. Had "Buddha/Monk jumped over the wall" at Eden KLIA while waiting for my flight - I love this soup!

7. Barry made pasta and Italian seasoning Shake and Bake chicken for dinner when I got home from Singapore AND washed the dishes. 2 thumbs up! I am one heck of a lucky girl.

8. Last and definitely not least, nephew Soen Aik got offer to do Med. at University of Michigan.

Oh, and I got sea-sick in the ferry to Bintan.. it could be lack of sleep, empty stomach (left hotel at ungodly 7.30am to go to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal!) or just sitting at the wrong location in the ferry. I took the advice to sit at portside, all the way behind just before the return trip to Singapore. And I felt so much better!

Last night, we went out to Chilli's because Tim, a friend of ours was totally craving it. We ordered nachos (with additional of guacamole and jalapenos pour moi) and wings (too bad not blue cheese dressing, only ranch - but still good) as appetisers and the boys ordered the burgers and I had the lamb shank (I exchanged with Barry halfway through it as I couldn't possibly eat lamb without Dijon mustard). After dinner, we went to Dome for a shot of Expreski. It was definitely in excess. We could feel the meal till this morning.

Apart from that, the usual eating but nothing worth mentioning esp. since I didn't take pictures lest the boss thinks that I will leave to be a chef... Haha!

Today, I worked a little in the am, had peanut butter sandwich with strawberry yogurt drink and 2 ba changs and am now relaxing. Will have a sweet navel orange later. Pure bliss.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Home-cooked Comfort Food

Too much eating out makes me crave Asian-style home-cooked meals...

Some of the comfort stuffs I made this week are :
1. Hairy Gourd with Yong Tow Foo soup
2. Okra Stirfried with Bird's Eye Chilli and Dried Anchovies
3. Stirfried Broccoli with Pork Slices

Will try to post some pics the next time I cook any of these.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pacifica Grill - Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Today was the last day of Oil and Gas Asia 2007 (OGA 2007) Exhibition at KL Convention Centre and I managed to squeeze in some time to visit. I also made plans to meet up with 3 major clients for lunch. We went to Pacifica Grill, Mandarin Oriental Hotel which was just next door to KL Convention Centre.

We were given complimentary signature bread - warm and crisp-on-the-outside multi-grain bread. They have dried apricots in them too, giving the bread a slight tang.
We were asked to choose other breads from the bread basket - I picked the sesame soft roll but forgot to eat it. I was paying a lot of attention to the discussion that I wasn't focusing on the food. So bad.... I did finish my slice of the multi-grain bread though.
Crustacean Soup (RM42.00) - So light and delicious!! Yea, am partial to soups. As the conversation became less serious, I could put a bit of focus back onto my lunch.
Green Salad (RM48.00) - The vegetarian-on-Friday-client liked this - look at the generous shavings of cheese! - it also has cucumber spaghetti under the salad.
1/2 Boston Lobster (RM138.00) - who doesn't like lobster? It was done just right - still juicy and soft and the flesh thoroughly pre-separated for me so that I didn't have to battle with the shell. I didn't like the asparagus/pomelo soupy thingy in the shot-like glass... the pomelo made it bitter.... and the crackers were pretty tasteless and no longer crispy...likely there for decor only.
Polenta with yam frites (RM48.00) - for the vegetarian-on-Friday-client. She finished this except for some of the yam fries.
Griled Halibut with Unagi Ravioli (RM84.00) - said the ravioli was tasteless - fish was wiped clean but the pasta left behind. Client said fish was fresh. Chicken Supreme (RM88.00) - The client liked the chicken but apparently she is not a fan of zucchini - see the yellow and green zucchini weave to cover the chicken?
Complimentary sweets - mainly chocolates
I would say Pacifica Grill's service was excellent but price was way too high (like 2 Perrier+3 Evian for RM60 before tax and service charge! - after all, its a hotel restaurant.... ) for most of its offerings.

I remember its food was much better when I went there in January this year. If we didn't need the peace and quiet, I would have picked somewhere else but alas! it was Friday and there was an exhibition going on, so KLCC was totally packed with people at lunch time.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ninja Jones - Northpoint, Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur

California Roll (RM14.00) - avocado was creamy as it should be and the rolls were fine.
Dynamite Roll (RM22.00) - slightly spicy with fresh tuna and some crispy fried tempura batter chips to add some crunch to the rolls.
Salmon Zukushi (RM38.00) - salmon sashimi, salmon belly sashimi and salmon roe (ikura) - kinda difficult to eat the roe on its own without rice as salmon roe are salty. The salmon and salmon belly sushi were fresh.
Shuriken No. 1 Special (RM16/pc) - snapper wrapped crabmeat and avocado - this is a delicious crabcake with a twist (the snapper) - a tad too pricey though... it's so tiny... Tori Teriyaki (RM16.00) - lean chicken with a slight crisp, just the way I like!
Wagyu Ishiyaki Steak (RM52.00) - Hot Stone Seared Wagyu Steak - so soft and fragrant - watch the steak on the hot stone and make sure it's not overdone.
Eringi Ninniku Shoyu Grill (RM15.00) - Sliced Eringi Mushroom doused with shoyu and sake and then Grilled on the table
Close-up of the Eringi Mushroom Slices
King Prawn Roll (RM32.00) - it was just ok. Nothing spectacular.

One thing about the rolls though is that they are generally generous with filling and rice is just minimal to hold the good stuffs together.

Ninja Jones scored well in terms of the ambience (imagine male service staff in Ninja outfits complete with covered faces, huge selection of seats - from the usual dining area to the sushi bar and private rooms, great washrooms!) and food presentation.

Service was good since every staff was very attentive though most were inexperienced. Thumbs up for their efforts.

Food was generally good and depending on how you look at it, the menu can be overwhelming as it was extensive or it could be a welcome if you like variety. If you like wagyu beef, this is the place to be. On Japanese alcoholic drinks, they also have a lot to offer but we didn't have any this time.

Ninja Jones Japanese Restaurant
A-G-5, Ground Floor, Northpoint, Mid valley City,
No.1 Medan Syed Putra Utara,
59200 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel : +603 2288 1646

Koo Kuih

Koo Kuih are turtle/tortoise shaped Chinese/Nyonya confectionary. They come in green, red, yellow, pink or even black colour skins. Those in red are usually given out to friends and relatives during a baby's full moon (1 month old) along with hard boiled eggs which are dyed red.

There are a few recipes online but I am putting a link to this recipe. See some pictures here.

The filling can be of green beans (both sweet or savoury) paste, coconut or peanuts/sugar mixture. I believe they are even available in lotus seed paste or red bean paste.

Anyway, my all-time favourite is the pandan (green version) filled with green/mung beans paste ones from Lulu Kuih Nyonya. They have stalls in most major shopping malls. They are very generous with the filling and the skin soft and thin.

I also like their siew paus. Of course, I like the Seremban siew paus better but the ones from Lulu Kuih Nyonya are not bad when there is a crave. I find the pastry from Lulu to be thicker and firmer which is OK if one prefers pastry to the filling.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Max! Kitchen and Wines, Kuala Lumpur

The last time we went out with beautiful and very nice couple, Sunny & Irene was in February this year. Man, that was long!

So, we finally went out for makan last night at Max! Kitchen and Wines - it was a nightmare going through the traffic in KL esp. on Saturday night - it took us over an hour from Bangsar to Tengkat Tong Shin!

THANKFULLY, we had their complimentary warm bread (with olive oil which I believe was herbed + balsamic vinegar to dip) while waiting for our food to come.

And the food was great enough to make up for the hour-long traffic agony. We (actually, more of the boys) decided on a bottle of Argentinian Malbec which went especially well with the meat main courses we ordered.

Appetiser : Yabbies Tail in a creamy sauce with lots of chunky mushroom (I can have just this for dinner - but need 20 plates! If you love mushroom soup and crayfish or lobster, you would love this!) Ask for another platter of bread to soak up the creamy goodness of the sauce.
Appetiser : Pan-seared scallops with balsamic vinegar/olive oil and Mojama with a little side salad. Imagine four fat, succulent juicy scallops topped with sliced cured tuna drizzled with just the right amount of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.... Yum! Burst of briney, sweet and tangy flavours all at the same time.
Irene and Barry went for Shiraz Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek with Mushroom Ragout served with Polenta - the creamy polenta served as a good base for the melt-in-the-mouth Wagyu beef cheek slices as it soaked up the mushroom-generous sauce. Oh, so GOOD!!!
Sunny's choice of Lamb Cutlets with mint sauce and polenta - Sunny ordered medium and he got his medium at Max! And this is hard to achieve in a lot of places. Kudos to Max! I opted for Roast Duck - I believe it shared the same sauce as Wagyu beef cheek dish and I can't complain cos the mushroom sauce paired very well with the juicy duck. The polenta provided some "fill" to the delicately sliced duck.

Presentation for food was simple with just some sprouts - and that was all that was needed, really. The food itself was good enough to stand on its own. No-frills-goodness.

Max himself came out to bid us goodbye and we managed to have a little chat with the man himself.

Next time, I will order the yabbies (maybe 2 portions?) and wagyu beef cheek again.... (drools).

Sunny wanted Segafredo smoothies and coffee to end the evening but alas! we found out that the 2 outlets at Bukit Bintang had closed down. So, we had gelato and smoothies at Lecka Lecka (the one that offers shisha smoking session).

Four of us apres dinner.....

Max! Kitchen & Wines
27 Tengkat Tong Shin
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 03-2141 8115

Friday, June 08, 2007

Just Heavenly - Durian Chocolate Cake

I have been craving durian products. I just had Durian Bavarois from Isthmus last Wednesday and earlier this week, I placed an order for a Durian Chocolate Cake from Just Heavenly. A whole 9 inch cake! Sigh, food cravings make me do weird things.

My first experience with cakes from Just Heavenly was last year at Barry's clinic's first birthday bash. It was so delicious and as far as I know, everybody who had it, loved it! It even had the clinic logo on it. And no, it wasn't with durians.
Am just showing 2 pictures of the "uncut" Durian Chocolate cake for a start as I will slice it tomorrow at mom's (durian smell is quite the lethal weapon if used against Barry). I was told that once cut, it has to be finished within a day.... so, I just have to be patient and wait till tomorrow to share with the rest of the clan. They so love durians!

This morning, I got a call from Just Heavenly to ask if I want a normal or chilli glaze.... hmm... chilli+durian+chocolate?.... i was curious yet a bit skeptical but went ahead with chilli glaze anyways. I won't know if I don't try. Besides, I was informed that chilli glaze was what they used on the little ones that they sell at their Damansara Heights' outlet.

The dark beauty of a cake is now sitting lonely in the spare fridge before judgement day.
I observed a few things from this chocolate durian cake makan (eating) session.

1. Some like durian more than chocolate and vice versa - I saw the exchange of plates between my sis and her daughter halfway through their cake - my niece loved the chocolate cake part while my sis loved the durian filling/mousse of the cake more.

2. The "older generation in the family heart durians while within the "younger" generation, about 50-50. Half of them love durian while the other half totally cannot stand it.

3. In the "younger" generation that dislikes durians, majority of them are the boys.

4. The "younger" generation generally prefers chocolate cake.

5. Also, of the "younger" generation that loved the durian part, they were the really young ones (aged 5 to 8) who probably are not too conscious of the smell.

6. The chilli taste was not obvious; only my spice-sensitive nice detected it and did not finish her slice.

Nonetheless, whole cake was wiped clean yesterday - the general comments were the very kaw (strong) chocolate and durians = real stuffs, very rich and a few said too sweet. And that's because we are generally not sweet-toothed.

See the durian flesh in the picture below? Really potent durian taste and smell that can only be from real durian flesh.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Isthmus, Kuala Lumpur

A few months back, I made my first attempt to dine at Isthmus, Kuala Lumpur. But as luck would have it, we couldn't make it. Since then, lots of things happened and the idea of having a meal at Isthmus was shelved until today.

Anyway, to cut the long story short, I made reservation for dinner today and was I glad I finally did! The ambience was great, tasteful decor and excellent service.

We were given a table by the glass window. With soft music in the background to help us escape from the day's stress, we watched the heavy traffic of Mid Valley city below us. We were glad to take refuge in the peaceful atmosphere of the restaurant which itself was a balm.

Oh, I didn't say about the food? They were of quality ingedients and very well put together.

Let's see what we had....

Wow Platter - combination of their appetiser offerings - I will explain a little bit more at the close-up pictures with the help of explanation from their website - the little glass bowl on the left of the Perrier bottle is the garlic oil glaze for the blue-coloured dumplings on the plate.

Lotus Blue Dumplings - lotus shaped dumplings (dyed with natural extract of bunga telang/clitoria (yea, it really is the name!)/butterfly pea flower) filled with caramelised minced chicken. Scoop glaze over when ready to eat. It is best eaten when warm as recommended by the well-trained service staff. So, we dug into these pretty blue jewels first (AFTER the photo which they graciously allowed us to take, of course). Mmmmm, delicious esp. with the garlic!

It is just amazing how delicately these were made esp. the skin! A masterpiece by itself.

Salmon Gravlax - I am not a big fan of cured fish/meats but these are just so wonderfully made - tasted light and it has no fishy smell. And the dressing went very well with it. Just look at the lovely pink of the salmon flesh contrasting against the cool greens.
Simply Avocado - The webite description read "Tempura-fried avocado rolls wrapped in thin slices of eggplant with a rice almond batter. This is served with a tangy jade green sesame coriander puree. "

I would just call them Rolls to Die For! Well, I am an avocado lover - you are reading someone who orders avocado tempura maki at Zen Restaurant, Sunway Pyramid at EVERY visit and can finish off a whole bowl of guacamole.

The superthin eggplant was a superb idea - it holds the avocado yet thin enough not to overpower the creaminess of avocado. And the light, crispy batter lent the balance to the softness of the avocado and eggplant.

And the sauce? The tangi-ness of it worked and-in-hand with the batter to balance the sweetness and creaminess of the avocado.

These rolls elevated my love for avocados many, many notches higher. Puy Lentil Cutlets (can't recall actual name) - Puy lentil is also known as poor man's caviar or caviar of lentils. This dish did live up to its name. I like!! esp. with the mildly spicy sauce. Again, the light touch was evident in the texture of lentil and the batter. It's texture was fine and not grainy as one would expect from lentils.

Oyster shoots with Stolichnaya vodka - we are not true blue vodka lovers but the beauty of these for us is they cleanse the palate since we had them last among the other appetiser on the platter. A nice round-up, I would say.
Foie Gras from their tapas menu - how can I resist my favourite food of all time? I would have preferred them less well-done but it was still delicious nonetheless.
Memory of Soup Kambing - Lamb shank cooked in spiced stock followed by braising in spiced tomato stew. The presentation made the dish looked like the head of a goat/calf...

I was expecting it to be tender to the point of the meat separating itself from the bone but this wasn't though it had a very nice aroma to it. Soak up the gravy with the bread and both your tastebuds and tummy will thank you for it. Chocolate Cherry Pudding - warm and rich! The tangy cherry did help to cut the richness (and psychologically reduced the guilt of indulging, probably?)
Durian Bavarois - Ahhh.... heaven for durian lovers! Fatal, if otherwise. A potent concotion that is chockful of quality durian. No skimping on this expensive fruit here. It was like eating durian flesh by itself! Indulge without the hassle of having to attack the thorny armour of the King of Fruits himself.

(Barry just read my draft.... and went 'Eeew, even this picture stinks!!!')... Oh well, one (wo)man's food is another (wo)man's poison; so the saying goes.... It was a wonderful dining experience which warrants another visit soon.

Isthmus, Kuala Lumpur
Unit B-G-3 Ground Floor, Northpoint, Mid Valley City,
No. 1 Medan Syed Putra Utara
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 03-2282 8112
Opens Mon - Sat : 12 to 3pm; 6pm till late.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Xin Cuisine Restaurant, Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur

I popped into Christy's office last Friday at lunch time and we hopped over, across the street, to Xin Cuisine Restaurant at Concorde Hotel for dim sum. I haven't had dim sum in ages!

Normally, I would have them at Eden Restaurant, KL International Airport just before my flights but recently I had been taking early morning flights and there simply wasn't enough time to even swallow some slippery smooth cheong fun (rice noodle rolls).

Personally, I prefer fried/baked dim sum to the steamed stuffs. For a start, we ordered a pot of hot Chinese tea (I think it was cha wang). Below are the stuffs we had (our bellies were very full since the portions were big).

Taro Croquette or taro root dumpling - Wu gok/woo kok - these are my all time favs. I love taro! See the fluffy taro covering the delicious filling of minced meat and seasoning? Barbequed pork rice noodle rolls - Char Siu Cheong Fun - Silky smooth, not too soft, not too firm - just right and with a sprinkling of green onions and char siu aplenty.
Beancurd Skin Rolls - San Juk Guen Radish Cake - Lo Bak Go - Another one of my favs - the radish cake cubes were just right in texture with loads of crunchy bean sprouts and chives and quite jumbo prawns. A bit on the oily side though. It has a little bit of spiciness to it but I should have asked for cut bird eyes' chillies with soya sauce to go with it (the staff were busy and we were in a hurry to get back to work). Sadly, no room in tummy to finish this off...
We also had a bowl of meat congee - I like! cos it has slivers of century egg in it. The congee was smooth and thick - very fragrant from well-seasoned pork and either you-hate-it-or-like-it taste of century egg (for most/some people, century egg can be very intimidating).