Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cagayan's @ Centre Point, 1 Utama

Sighting me at the Bandar Utama area is a rare sight. Although claiming to be the new Damansara area and wanting to become another "city" within Kuala Lumpur, i have to resort to paying exorbitant amounts of toll and petrol to get here.

Therefore, if you have a look at what i have eaten in the past god knows when, you will have to squint hard to find any food sourced from Bandar Utama.

Like an aimless soul, we were armed with a less then detailed map to Aman Suria looking for char siew but somehow (don't ask me how), we ended in front of Centre Point.

Actually more like i missed a turning and said "Sod it, we are going to Centre Point".

Housing so many raved about restaurants but situated in the middle of nowhere, Cagayan's we went.

Reading through the menu, we understood that the place served Filipino cuisine but was probably confused and decided that they should serve Japanese too. If you look at the people helming the restaurant and kitchen, i think the best bet is what they do best; Filipino food!

They have a variety of classic dishes that you eat with rice that are quite decent value for money (less than RM15) or if you want to be like me, you go for the piggie ribs! (RM35.90 for 6 huge ones).

I suppose in Philippines, they drink green tea? Nevertheless for RM2.90 free flow, ok la, i suppose. Nowadays gas cost more, takes more effort to boil water and make ice too!

We started off with a mixed vegetable dish that consisted of the weirdest combination of greens and yellows i.e. pumpkin, kangkung, long beans, brinjal, lady fingers and bittergourd. Mixed with strips of pork and their version of "shrimp paste" which is on the salty side, this was nice.

The Enoki mushrooms wrapped with bacon was delicious on its own. No dip was given or required, the saltiness of the bacon and the juices from the layer of fat plus the crunchiness of the mushrooms makes this the "Dish that you can never screw up".

The Pork Binagoongan (I think), deep fried pork belly, tomatoes, onions with shrimp paste was brilliant served with rice. Slightly tangy, sweet and salty, ohh la la, the taste buds were working overtime!

The reason i was called here for; The Pork Ribs (original). 6 huge bountiful ribs that had meat peeling off faster then you can say "Thank You". The meat was "melt in your mouth" soft and required little or almost no chewing. Served with mash potatoes and coleslaw, this is one of the dishes that makes me go Oink Oink and come back again to this place out of town.

Address and contact details:

G107-108 Centrepoint Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama
Opening Hours: Daily, 11.30am-10pm

Phone: 03-77241022

Non Halal (obviously)

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. The Ribs is a must and a return. You can even spot Philipinos around here, and i assure you this is not the spot for the maids.

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Need to seriously get my head down and do my assignment, lets see if i can squeeze in any posts, if not have fun for the rest of the week!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Have you been eating out less often?

Don't lie, tell me the truth.

Despite prices of fuel spiralling the prices of every other commodity up; have you been eating out like you used to? Or have you been sane enough to realise, that your wallet can't take you to the places that you always visit?

Or is it me; despite heading towards the path of accountancy, i can't even get my debits and credits to balance?

Oh, Gloomy weather, can you brighten up with a nice fat bonus and increment?

I am finding myself, starring at an empty wallet and yet, planning for nice dinners every weekend and yet on that very day, i am looking for cheaper alternatives.

How about you fellows?

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On another note, any Australians out there who read my blog and know abit about their personal tax system? Need help in my Tax assignment!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oriental Spoon II Dinner @ Sooka Sentral

After seeing the Jeckyll and Hyde of Oriental Spoon (the special invite and the horrendous dim sum buffet), lets take a deep breath and take a look at the incognito dinner review, which was ages ago during Fathers Day.

Armed with a small treasure chest of a couple hundred dollars, where could one go and celebrate on that day without fighting at the entrance and facing slow service and cold food? Although almost contradictingly that i had to face the same situation that fateful Sunday morning, we had exactly the perfect evening in whereelse but Oriental Spoon.

Yes, still new to the world of F&B, it almost seemed that the restaurant was just opened for us. At 6.30pm, not a single soul but just us. Almost felt like the Kings and Queens.

The menu seemed limited, perhaps emphasising that quality plays a bigger role then quantity or it could mean that they just do not have a crowd big enough to stock so many materials and risk having to throw them all away.

Still, we managed to go through the whole menu with the help of yes, contradicting once again, a Malay lady captain. At times, this is the kind of world i want to live in, where people do not care what religion you are so long as you do a good job. Briefly, with the help of a menu and surprisingly English explanations of what was on offer, we decided on 6 dishes.

No complaints about the home-made tau fu with "seng kua" or some i-dont-care-loo fah gourd, the flavours were spot on and the smooth consistency was nice. The downside was we had 10 fellows including 3 kids who eat tau foo like no tommorow sharing 6 pieces. Could they have suggested a double portion perhaps?

A whole chicken done two styles, roast and thai style chicken. Again nothing wrong, the food was actually pretty decent. The funny thing is the captain had the brains to suggest half a chicken to 10 hungry guests but oh well, she was looking after my wallet.

The Venison done XO Style was so succulent. The meat was tender and require not more then 2-3 bites before it slithered down the throat. The sauce was neither too salty or bland with spot on flavours. Now, why couldn't they have kept to such quality during my dim sum visit?

A simple mixed vegetable stir fry to keep the fibres coming and let the digestion system work properly.

The pot of mushrooms and sea cucumbers was awesome. The flavour was so intense, maybe with the help of oyster sauce but i was vowed by the sauce. Only qualm and it appeared throughout the whole dinner is the portions. Could it not be adjusted to the people on the table?

A nice big Patin fish weighing over a 1kg, was the only dish that came proportionate for everyone. More then enough to go around and it was steamed beautifully.

The cost of the whole meal? RM300plus, a hefty price tag indeed for what appeared to be above average food. At times, where everyone is cutting down on luxurious eating, i am not too sure who would want to come and eat dinner here, although the spot on flavours did get compliments from the Parents.

Address:

1st floor, Sooka Sentral, Jalan Stesen Sentral 5, 50470, KL
Opening hours: (Mon – Sunday) 11.30 am – 8.00 pm
(Dim sum is served until 5 pm)

Tel: 03-2261 3222

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. The hefty price tags and the small expensive bowls of rice can be quite deterring but all this is a small price to pay if you want a quiet place to have a meal especially if it was still that quiet back in Fathers Day.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Apartment @ The Curve

I once talked to a friend about the rise and fall of restaurants. The make or break in the culinary world and the picky palates of Malaysians.

Surprisingly we both agree that the biggest factor (other then good food, of course) is the concept.

Branding has just got on to a new level; even fashion conscious people are heading towards "branded" restaurants even if the food is crap, service is bad and burns a hole in the wallet.

One such brilliant example is The Apartment.

A one of its kind concept, a restaurant with themes taken out from his/her apartment. Kinky enough that people accepted the fact that they would dine in the toilets and showers, make a mess in their reading room, but it was raved upon.

A genius concept?

What happened to the most important factor; the food? Despite less then encouraging reviews from the friendly blogging world, i mean who wouldn't trust their palates? Well then again, who wouldn't want to be branded cool and hip by dining at one of the "talk of the town" restaurants inspired by the chef who insist that cooking involves your hands and just your hands; Jamie Oliver?

So it was.


The place where the most confusing fusion food was served. The fact was flavours were falling out down from the sky and the chef appeared to pray hard and see if it worked. I mean those people with the perfect hourglass figures or guys with a shirt about the rip; do they even eat proper food? Unless you call salad and a plate full of steamed protein; edible food.

The concept continues with an unique way of displaying the menu.

Ok, maybe i am feeling sour and being mean, but lets start.

The Eggplant (I remembered another fancier name was being used, because someone asked what it was, ar yes, aubergine) cooked with tomato paste (aka Parmagiana style). The least favourite i think, because it was left untouched. Somehow the water contents of the eggplant seemed a bit out of place when you bite into with cheese and tomato.

My favourite, the Liver Pate with a nice spot of jam on the side. Brilliantly down without the strong aftertaste of liver that causes some people to regurgitate.

A squid salad that was Thai inspired but it didn't make me swoon over it like Pad Thai.

The Beef Carpaccio was served fusion style with the shreds of Ginger. Admittedly it was seared perfectly leaving a nice red raw middle.

The Pesto Mushrooms seemed like a dish i could make and i am dead serious. In fact it tasted similar to what i did that day with Pesto sauce in the fridge and some mushrooms about to go bad. Stuff it in the fridge, i was just missing pine nuts. Definitely something for mushroom lovers.

Another thai inspired mango and duck salad. This was surprisingly refreshing and nice.

Ok, the starters were edgy but showed some sort of promise. Lets take a look at mains.

The English Lamb Curry with a dollop of Creme Fraiche. Our friend quietly slurped up the whole bowl quietly and didn't make any sounds that i could hear. Promising perhaps?

My original choice but for the sake of photography, it is strictly forbidden to call for two of the same dish. The lamb shank looked huge but the comment was the sauce was too sweet. Was he the only one?

Something is telling my sweet cravings has been passed on to the chef as the chicken with walnuts and peaches tasted sweet too! Furthermore, the noticeable pattern of lukewarm mash potatoes wasn't exactly a pleasant sight.

My duck was meant to be served with a berry sauce that was not only sweet but had a very sharp tinge. It totally overpowered the gamey taste of my duck which i adore. Kudos for the huge portion cause usually the norm portion is a deboned piece of duck breast.

The prawns were quite generous and huge. Maybe by then my tongue was already numbed by sweetness caused when i tried the prawns, i was like oh ok, prawns!

Needless to say, we didn't think desserts was necessary.

Address and contact details:

The Apartment
G72-74 and 152
Ground Floor and First Floor
Western Courtyard, The Curve
Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya
Tel No: 03-77278330

Halal!

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. A case of being fancy over practicality, just like buying a shirt one size too small but it makes you look like an aging Elvis, so you buy it and bear in mind, people make this kind of mistake more then once. Exactly my sentiments about this place, i should not go but i may end just going again.

After all, who doesn't want to be cool?


Friday, July 18, 2008

Not in the mood for a full review, just yet..

I usually feel very strong and stand by my opinions on food that i eat especially if a mini debate ensues (and no, i don't plan to talk about petrol and Anwar).

So in the situation where the food is exceptionally good for me and a friend questions with doubt, i take on the challenge to find out why.

Thus i stepped into Oriental Spoon on a nice quiet Sunday, to find a lady telling they are fully booked and another lady telling me, there is a table after all.

Ok, maybe not the best day for good service but then again, we were dining there with no crowd the last two times (the dinner review up soon, i promise).

So what was on offer today?

Dim Sum Buffet for RM18.80+, what brilliance. If memory was to serve me correctly, the black sesame paste oozing out from the cute porcupine bun, juicy halal siu mai and yummy lamb ribs, this would be a steal, wouldn't it?

BUT, what i saw was a quality fit for who? Someone who could afford only RM18.80 is it?

Fair enough, the items on the menu was limited but if you believe in quality over quantity, have a look above. Not only that, there were plenty more issues:

With waitresses randomly walking out with dim sum and letting people take what they want is seriously flawed. The direction they walked was random, and no one seem to care that they may have missed out on certain tables. Having to scream for the waiter was resorted especially since the ambience screams "classy".

Fried dim sum was consistently being served with steamed dim sum nowhere to be seen. If it is the tactic to fill people up with oily items and load them up with carbohydrates, then i am very disappointed.

I realise that the steamed dim sum included har gau, siu mai, ribs and buns. Could we do with maybe 1 or 2 more variety of steam dumplings?

When the har gau and siu mai didnt come out fast enough, bamboo baskets were abandoned, steamed in batches and carried out in plates. If you were given the last two or three plates, it was barely lukewarm when served.

Porcupine buns had an almost non-existent layer of black sesame paste as a filling.

That pot of beef tendons was laden with oil.

If the lady had not told me that they were initially fully booked, i wouldn't have been so mad. Expecting a full crowd and yet insufficient food was prepared, is not what you would expect. Looking into the open kitchen, the steamer was barely at full capacity, with the chef busily making har gau while the deep friers were constantly dishing up the fried stuff.

Who would want to try your ala carte dim sum after this kind of quality?

Utterly disappointed and if my readers had gone for the buffet after hearing the name of Oriental Spoon from me, i am sorry.

Still want to try? Offer till August available during weekends.

Trust me and go for the ala carte dim sum menu or their dinner menu (as i said, dinner review coming up, incognito).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I want to travel around the world

(Picture taken with my new lens; heck it is so easy to use but somehow got to play with the lighting abit more then usual)

*EMO* post

Do you want to travel? I mean, who wouldn't?

After travelling so much last year, this year seemed so dismal and dull with nothing to look forward to. Except for the trip to Bangkok and a small one planned (surprise in September), i did my calculations with the annual leave i got, and its game over till end of the year.

Looking forward to the my next quota of annual leave next year.

Shanghai, France and New York, when will i see you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ee Cuisine @ Eastin Hotel

Remember the Chef interview? After a "lengthy" and heavy session of knowing a ton of terminology only understandable by chefs, we sat down and proceeded to try their dim sum range.

Boasting the fact that the hotel owner is a true China man, Ee Cuisine is one of the rare hotel high end chinese restaurants to serve non-halal food. Apparently, the idea of halal dim sum doesn't seat very well with him.

So looks like i am not alone but i can't demand the restaurant to throw in some minced pork in my siu mai as i wish.

Something that stands out in Eastin Hotel is the way the ordering is made. Although the dim sum is steamed upon order, there is also a visual menu and the help of a waiter/waitress throughout the ordering process. Take a look at what i mean.

Choose which you would like to put in your stomach, i say all, if i could!

First up the line was a scallop dumpling with a generous dose of prawn roe. Huge chunks of prawns with scallops makes this a favourite among any seafood lover.

With no barrier from using pork, the Chef cleverly rolled bacon around a prawn dumpling and laden it with a savoury almost BBQ-like sauce. Tremendously good and if voted one of the most creative and delicious dim sum dish that i tried. Will come back to savour this again, definitely.

Like a small boy asking for candy, i got my wish when i complained that we rarely see Char Leung on the dim sum menu. Could such a dish be possibly so hard to digest for Malaysians? Apparently not. Problem was, the yao char kuey was deep fried to a crisp and wasn't chewy but instead crumble when you bite into it. The thin layer of cheong fun though was well done.

The dumpling served here was quite nice, nothing wrong but nothing out of the moon.

As if rubbing into the other hotel's face, that Eastin serves pork, the piggie bun is said to be a hit among many children. The cute artwork on the red bean bun was a delight to see, let alone pop it in your mouth to savour the sweet red bean paste.

The thin egg roll was wrapped around a huge fresh prawn paste with the tail intact. The sauce seemed abit like a bernaise sauce but i am pretty sure, egg yolks were inside there, somewhere.

To finish it off,

A "Kao Choi" filling in a glutinous ball. What is usually served pan fried or steamed but with a wanton wrapping, this is definitely the signs of the chef working his creativity and getting out of the usual dim sum affair.

The Fish Paste and the Chilli sauce ended the meal.

Man, was i full. Although the meal was complimentary but the prices are around RM7-RM15 per basket, the norm for hotel dim sum.

Address and contact details:
Eastin Hotel, 13, Section 16/11, Jalan Damansara, 46350
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
03-76651111

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Although at first we dismiss the food as normal hotel chinese dim sum, the more i thought about the bacon dumpling, the more i thought the dim sum was actually pretty palatable and good enough to return. The only thing is the opening hours are 11.30am, i am not mistaken which is quite late for dim sum because dim sum is really meant for breakfast, isn't?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Are you a flower person?

Blame it on the culture that we practice, the prices of flowers and the profit hungry traders that tries to make their retirement fund during Valentines.

How often do you buy/receive flowers?

Is it me or do you get people shaking their head when you approach the florist to buy a nice bunch of flowers and whispering starting almost immediately as you walk past them with the nice rosy petals shining with their glorious colours.

Even back in University days, visiting the florist was a chore. The time you go out to buy the flowers, the path you take and the entrance to take when you walk back to your room. Almost immediate gossip will flow like the river if you are sighted with bouquet of flowers.

Back in Malaysia? the sight of a decent florist is rare and the fact that flowers are being bought only for certain occasion makes you look like an alien in the crowd carrying around flowers.

Or is it just the ego in me to buy flowers for your loved one? The macho man inside me carrying sissy looking flowers walking around the shopping mall? Or that i rather buy not one but several bowls of wanton mee or bak kut teh instead of seeing the petals whitter away after a few days?

I wonder and I ponder.

The Man who told me where to get this flowers for RM16 and the flowers of course.

Wishing you an early Monday blues. Damn the internet, when are my pictures going to load?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Something i did @ Eastin Ee Cuisine last weekend

Very often, we take these people for granted; the people who slog through hours of prep work and an intense moment to create that special dish that you wanted with a snap of the fingers.

When it comes up to our expectations, we nod with approval and get on with the rest of the dish. If it falls below the expectations of the gods in heaven because you have been getting wet dreams at the thought of that dish (picture foie gras and melting wagyu beef), you curse the hell out of the chef because you paid a bomb for nothing.

To learn how they cope with such stress and maybe appreciate this group of people, i took the opportunity via Foodstreet to meet up with the Executive Chef of Ee Cuisine to have a few words. To be honest, i had jotted questions down in English to only realise that he wasn't exactly very well versed in the Queen's English. Cantonese yes, but if you ask me to translate those questions i had in mind and be the active one in the conversation; that, was a tough one. At that point, i wonder if i can survive in Hong Kong with my half past six cantonese.

So like a cat talking to a dog, with the dog shaking his head due to the complex language spoken by the cat, i managed to come up with an interview. Enjoy, while my stupid internet connection tries to wake up from its slumber dream and actually start uploading my pictures.

One or two minor details have yet to be confirmed with the PR Manager and yes, take note, this is the journalist in me, proper sentence structure and a typical article to prove i can write.

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My experiences with chefs are almost non-existent. At most during on a quiet dinner, they may come out to ask how the food was, shake my hand and they whizz off to the kitchen. How they inspire themselves to come out with such a culinary experience or how they think, was something that i would always like to know but have never got to known.

So to be shaking hands with Chef Woo Chee Mun and having the chance to chat with him and getting to know him a little bit better, was a chance of a lifetime.

Chef Woo Chee Mun or as he prefers to be called Chef Mun, is a man of few words but possesses a mind that is constantly full of ideas for his new dishes to excite his customers’ palate.

Having worked for over 25 years as a Chef and as one of the pioneer chefs at Ee Cuisine when it first opened doors 10 years ago, Chef Mun is certainly not short on experience.

Chef Mun first started off his career in Malaysia under guidance of a Hong Kong chef before his cooking journey took him to Hong Kong for training and Singapore to gain experience before being handpicked to take on the role of Head Chef of Ee Cuisine.

Ever since taking helm of Ee Cuisine, Chef Mun has been enjoying himself as he constantly faces the challenge to think on his feet to come up with new dishes to vow and impress. So how does he do it so naturally all these years?

As he explains, one of his inspirations is going back to the roots of Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine and tweaking the subtle flavours to suit the spicier and stronger palates of the local crowd.

“As we all know, Hong Kong flavours are subtle and to some, bland. Malaysian fellows like us eat chilli like tomorrow, so i have to strike a balance between authenticity and suiting what Malaysians eat.

When asked what he likes to eat, the answer is heading back to basic and simple dishes. This angle has given him inspiration to creating new dishes by trying to present it with a twist. Not only limiting himself to Cantonese cuisine, his free time has taken him to try out places of different cuisine based on his friend’s recommendations, reading recipe books and magazines before heading back to his kitchen to experiment with different flavours and techniques.

Given the trend of fusion cuisine and mixing western and eastern ingredients together, his adapting and creativity skills is evident from their rotating dim sum menu which boasts items like a bacon wrapped steamed prawn dumpling with a tangy BBQ influenced sauce to one of his best selling signature dish in 2003; the oven baked pork ribs with tong kwai.

A proud man of all his creations, it is almost impossible to single out his favourite creation over the 10 years and as such Ee Cuisine has made available their best selling dish from 1998-2008 to celebrate Eastin 10th anniversary ranging from Peking Duck to Marble Goby Fish head Vermicelli Soup.

At the moment, he seats proud with his Gui Fei Chicken named after the famous China Beauty; Yang Gui Fei. If the dish is already looking this good, one can only imagine how good looking Yang Gui Fei would have been those days.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Chiaroscuro II @ Jalan Bedara

The answer is a 16-hour roasted pork cheek served with grandma vegetables and cherry tomato wild rocket salad.

The occasion? Do you need one?

Well that night we were being very logical, celebrating for a proper reason and indulging in a good meal to celebrate a friend's birthday.

We even had a menu, just for her. The freshly baked bread that was served played an important role in the appetizers that came rolling out in huge portions to share.

The Grilled Octopus "Bruschetta" was chewy and the lemon gave it a nice refreshing zest to it.

The sauteed clams venetian style, got us all drooling with the generous amounts of white wine used to cook this simple dish. Coupled with the huge chunks of white bread, soaking up the sauce with the seafood essence on one hand, and the other hand scooping the huge clams up, what more can you ask for?

Just when you thought you need a break from the bread, the thinly shaved mixed selections of cold cuts including parma ham, salami and etc served with rock melon and pineapple, got us reaching for the bread again.

The pickles was at the extremely sour side and mainly left untouched, although after a piece, you do feel perked up and energized to charge at more food.

Almost hitting a roadblock, with the mains yet to come, we were impressed with the portions served. After all, it is meant to be fine dining no? Well Andrea and Carol wanted us to feel like we were having a nice homey italian meal, food more then enough to go around and lots of chit chatting with red wine to match.

So when the Duet of Pasta came, some put on a brave face as they knew the roast cheeks was tempting them while crackling in the oven.

The first of the two, home made hand cut black ink taglierini with cherry tomato and cuttle fish ragout. The tangy tomatoes was the dominant flavour without the evident paste to go with it. I found it refreshing before digging into the ravioli.

The crabmeat ravioli on the other hand was heavier in flavour with mascarpone cheese sauce. Topped with chives and keta caviar, although the crab meat did not really shine, i could only imagine what i would do with the sauce; more bread!

Of course, another photo to end the happy ending.

By the end of the meal, we were all happy and jolly, stuffed to the brim and had plenty more to take away which ended in my bagels the following day.

Definitely a place to hold a function, whether for a group of 4 or in our case 14.

Kudos to Carol for helping me out come up with a menu and getting everything sorted out magically.

Address and contact details:

Refer to my first visit

My rating definitely stays at 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Did i mention that all the food was RM80 nett? Of course per pax lar.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Something says that i am not done with pork, just yet.


Its been awhile since i done a preview, but thought with 5 minutes of spare time, this is about the best thing to do.

What pork dish did i eat last week? Take a guess? a wild guess? Not as straightforward as it looks.