Monday, November 30, 2009

Well, I lied, I took pictures in Adelaide, after all

I suppose the handphone is handy after all.

Late in the night, right smack in the city of Adelaide, as the shiny lights did its thing, my stomach became grumpy. I would have walked across the street, below the lights and ordered a whopper with real bacon, but no, how could i?

Instead, we drove to O Connell Street to Blue and White Cafe where we indulge in the classic AB, a brilliant creation for the drunk and sober. This definitely bought back the memories of the past where i first ate this a good 7 years ago.

A mix of lamb kebab meat over fried, garlic, bbq, tomato and abit of chilli sauce which has gained so much reputation that it is featured on Wikipedia!

Oh so yum and so exclusive to Adelaide.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Twitter or blogging?

Once upon a time, blogging was the big hit (probably still is).

However blogging required obviously time, pictures, lots of words (well more than 140 characters in any case) and some editing.

Posting a post was almost like a special occasion.

Then came twittering, to be able to say a thought on your mind almost spontaneously. You could do a mini post a hundred donkey quotes or updates about your silly self or on the meals you eat. Heck people post pictures on twitter too (god, i don't how to do that to save my life).

But now, i can't decide. What would it be?

Twitter vs Blogging?

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It is very obvious that i have a lack of pictures in my picture database and im deciding to do a twitter-like post, just to pass time.

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Happy Long Weekend to the people of Malaysia. If people ask me what i like about my home country, the next best thing after food is the public holidays!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Blog turns an ancient 3 years old

Its funny how awhile ago, everyone celebrated their blog's birthday and it reminded me that i should celebrate mine too.

So 2 weeks ago, i started to remind myself everytime i stare at my blog to double check when i wrote my first post and to make sure i tell everyone that this blog had turned 3 years old.

Then i realised that today is already the 23 November 2009.

My blog has just turned 3 years and 1 day old.

Im late i suppose, well i suppose i have got a reason after all; im ancient.

I am back.

Its funny how every holiday as far as i can remember since i bought my DSLR, would involve lugging the camera bag around and giving me aching shoulders by the end of the trip.

I must admit that with a DSLR you get moments down on pictures to revisit, but the whole point is to enjoy first hand and not from the pictures. Alot of memory is lost between the moments where you have to say "eh wait, let me take picture first".

This time around, i decided that the camera and shoulder will get to rest.

I must say holidaying without a DSLR gives you a totally different experience. I can walk down the streets without saying i need to stop to take out the camera. I don't have to find restaurants with good lighting and the need to snap away.

I don't have to cover my camera bag when the ocassional drizzle starts.

I can just blend in to the crowd that i used to be among just a few years ago.

All in all a good short deja vu trip.

Now, back to work.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Leonardo's @ Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar

Living true to my blog's name, i often have cravings despite the copious amounts of food i stuff myself with (throughout the weekends). After the recent crave for fish head noodles which eventually resulted in eating a bowl of it every weekend for 3 weekends, it was pork knuckles.

So it was, google and blogs, your best friend when it comes to finding food.

Leonardo's it was.

The concept is really very simple. A cosy restaurant with a minimalist approach; the most obvious being the brick walls. Another floor houses what they call it; a wine loft. As simple as that and the name of the restaurant coincides with the famous Da Vinci (i would think the resemblance stops there, unless the menu is what he use to eat).

Another restaurant under the same group as Cava, Opus and Moxie, with the major difference of serving pork! After visiting the trio, it was time to get my taste buds to try Leonardo's cuisine.

Before the pork knuckle, the starters.

Complimentary whole grain bread. Just the right kind of carbs which came with olive oil and vinegar. It will always be the topic of debate; butter or this?

The mushroom soup was excellent. With chunks of mushrooms and what tasted like garlic croutons and truffle oil, a brilliant starter for that rainy night.

A very creative name was given to this dish but bluntly put it is a iberico pork nugget / mini cutlet. The meat was tender which went well with the beet root sauce and onion marmalade on top.

It took awhile but man it was worth it. Crisp skin and tender meat. As we dug in, we were surprised with a stuffing of some herbs and bacon, it was truly magical. The portion was so huge that two people could barely finish this, leaving the bread untouched.

Accompanied with some pickles, mustard, apple sauce (delicious!) and mushroom sauce.

A lot more on the menu namely their infamous bak kut teh and hokkien mee meant for people who had their fair share of single malt whisky to sober up before they leave the place.

I can safely say the craving is now gone, phew.

Address and contact details:

61-1 and 61-2, Jalan Bangkung,
Bukit Bandaraya, 59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03.2096 2226

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars minus the pork nuggets. The Knuckle is a firm favourite and i like to chill here especially on a Sunday night with a glass of wine minus the crowd (better if i don't have to work the next day).

PS: Will be away on a short trip, see you guys and girls on Monday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Market food @ Jalan Pasar, Penang

Are you a morning person?

Ultimately if you have to wake up for a 9am-5pm job, inevitably you got to be a morning person. For the rest out there, don't even bother leaving comments because i despise you (just kidding).

On many ocassions i find myself sleeping through mornings during the weekends, however there are always the one in a blue moon days where i find myself waking up slightly later than i usually would on a working day.

One of these days has got to be when you are in Penang.

Going through the day market at coincidentally Jalan Pasar on a Saturday morning is virtually unheard of from me. Somehow i went with the flow and man, we went with the flow when it came to eating.

I have heard numerous versions of this kuih's name, last i heard it was Dai Gao Meen.

Looks like Char Kuey Teow, smells like it (without the cockles) but is not Char Kuey Teow. Its Char Tao Kuey?

Something Zhap (which means mixed), i remember numerous body parts from the pig.

Was this Mee Jawa?

This version of Kuey Teow Th'ng had some pork slices but the broth was evidently not the same as pork noodles.

Fresh curry puffs that no one can resist.

Just look at the filling!

The market was obviously entertaining to say the least for people who dream at this time of the morning. In fact reminds me of the time where i used to accompany my mom to the market during my university holidays.

I think i still prefer to sleep in.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ping Hooi Coffeeshop @ Penang

Despite the trip to Penang being a good 4 months ago, the experience has been inked into the brain so that the automatic reply to someone who announces that they are going to Penang is "Good luck, sure gain weight one la"

The only thing worth doing in Penang is to eat.

Eating alot is probably an understatement.

Imagine the 6 meals a day rule, times two (number of meals and portion of meals) and that pretty much sums up the new rule of thumb when one visits Penang.

I remember blogging about Ping Hooi Coffeeshop and their char kuey teow. What people didn't know then was that char kuey teow was like an amuse bouche.

There were mains too.

Everyone loves fried food and Penang does it well with their local "lor bak". The additional items is their fried sting ray and some kind of lean pork.

Some soupy to continue, their kuey teow th'ng. Duck broth in smooth kuey teow, something quite rare in KL.

If you thought that miserable amount of meat was enough for us in that bowl of noodles, you are wrong. Succulent pieces of duck breast meat with a gravy was ordered to go with it.

Yeah, that about right, before the next meal.

Address:

Ping Hooi Coffee shop
Corner junction of Lebuh Melayu and Lebuh Carnarvon (Carnarvon Street)

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Go for the CKT and Lor Bak. If you still have space, go for the kuey teow th'ng.

Now you know why i will tell people "Good luck, sure gain weight one la"

Not surprisingly, i haven't been back to Penang.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fatty Frog Porridge @ OUG, Old Klang Road

I have found another place that the Girlfriend loves.

Apparently the name isn't quite as flattering though, 肥佬田鸡粥 is translated to Fatty Man Frog Porridge stall.

PS: Its cheap and affordable especially since it is after all the economic downturn despite the good rebounding news.

After reading Food-4-Thot and subsequently how TheStar picked it up, one rainy Saturday evening, we decided to go find the porridge stall. At the same row as Stevens Corner, the coffee shop is at the "real corner" of the street.

Right in front of the coffee shop, you will be greeted by the stall, pots of porridge and frog legs cooked to order. Just the thought makes me drool eventhough porridge is about the most basic food one can find, heck its even known as the poor man meal.


The porridge is done just the way i like it. Thick and gooey from the hours of cooking, unlike the Teo Chew version where their porridge looks like a bowl of rice and water. The chunks of fish was fresh, de-boned and had a meaty texture. Century egg is optional but advised. In addition to their fish porridge, there is also the lean pork (tenderised) with salted and century egg, oyster, prawns and frog legs too.

Their Kung Pou Frog Legs appear to be their signature dish and after all the rounds of TV shows praising this dish in Singapore, i finally got to taste the idea and eureka! The sauce mixed brilliantly with the porridge and frog legs? Well, extra protein going into the meal is always welcomed. I spied many tables ordering this to go with rice too (i mean why not, unless you have banned rice from your diet like garlic and vampires)

A pot of fish porridge with century egg and a pot of kung pou frog legs (both for 1 pax) for RM24.

I also read that the fish head was another awesome catch. The tricky thing though is that theres a stall that just sell fish head in front of the coffee shop (next to the porridge stall) but if you are seated inside, theres also a "dai chow" that coincidentally sold fish head when i asked.

Despite not getting the real deal, the fish head was good on a rainy night. The concoction of minced ginger on smooth fish head meat ended the meal brilliantly. (RM17)

Address:
Jalan Hujan Rahmat Dua,
OUG, Jalan Kelang Lama
58200, Kuala Lumpur

On the same row as Steven's Corner

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars (I have been hitting the jackpot with good food recently). On days when you just want to dig into some really comforting carbs i.e rice, try it with porridge. The filling bowl of porridge with a variety of ingredients and the frog legs definitely makes me want to go back again, and this time try the apparently original fish head stall. I hope this place closes late because it would be a great spot for supper too!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mezze @ Jalan Kasah, Medan Damansara

Ask me what Mediterranean food is and to be honest with you, i really don't know how to answer you.

However, ask me to wikipedia it and you would probably also never realise Mediterranean food actually covers food from so many countries:

Europe - Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and Turkey
Asia: Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine
Africa - Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco

Literally flavours from everywhere.


Where can one get a taste of that in Malaysia? Probably plenty of places or next to nil but i do know that Mezze, the latest restaurant to open at the rows of Jalan Kasah would fit the bill.

Serving modern mediterranean cuisine in a casual bistro environment, this should turn out to be quite a gem, suitable for a casual date or a gathering among friends.


We started out with some drinks; cocktails, beer and wine. The highlight i must say is the house red wine, a Heartland Stickleback Red at RM75 a bottle. Value for money and very palatable unlike most house wines which are rather hard to swallow.

Starters

Mezze flat bread & dips - Harissa and Walnut and Feta (RM 9.50). Home made dips that vary day to day and warm bread starts the meal.

Zucchini Fritters (RM 11.50) - Zucchini, fetta and fresh herb fritters on a bed of confit cherry tomatoes and wild rocket. Brilliant dish for a vegetarian as it is filling but if you don't fancy something too goey, skip this.

Duck & Chicken Spring Rolls (RM13.50) - Spring roll of pulled confit duck, shredded chicken, feta and mushoom with a green chilli jam. Looks rather familiar but the packed contents shows that you can cook an asian item rather differently and still make it taste good. Paired with a brilliant sauce.

Lamb Cutlet (RM28) - Chargrilled coriander mint and honey soaked cutlets. Despite big eyes around the table, i have no problems with this rather hearty portion as a starter.

Duck Liver Pate (RM13.50) - A smooth pate with Pedro Ximenez, mixed herb salad, fennel marmalade. I am sold, a must order.

Pancetta & Prawn Tempura (RM15.50) - Pancetta wrapped prawn in tempura batter with wasabi aioli. Richard Brewer, the head chef has his likes for asian flavours as he pairs wasabi and fries his prawns tempura style yet uses pancetta, a very european delicacy.

Mains

Rib Eye Steak (RM 65) - Black angus rib eye, sauteed potatoes, asparagus and sweet shallot with a sherry beef reduction. Well executed and i would probably order this again, if i come back.

Braised Beef Shank Pappardelle (RM32.50) - ragout of braised shank with fresh fat ribbon pasta. Usually a rich sauce is required for this kinda of pasta and the ragout delivers. Maybe if the shank was shredded even finer, every spoonful of pasta would get accompanied by the tender flesh.

Lamb Pilaf Pie (RM23) - lamb cooked gently with aromatic spices layered with basmatic rice, baked under a crust and a side of raita. Fluffy rice and the spices is what i would identify as mediterranean.


Ballotine of Lamb (RM42) - boneless babyjoint of leg marinated in tagine spices and wrapped around fresh soft herbs, preserved lemon, olives and artichokes, chargrilled and served on a bed of tunisian cous cous. Another favourite among the table, succulent lamb with a whole load of flavour going on in the dish.

Guisado Alicante (RM28) - saffron broth of calamari, mussels and fish, choriso sausage and chilli. Brilliant for a raining night, comforting food at its best.

Steamed Mussels (RM22.50) - steamed with tamarind, lemon grass, ginger, chilli and honey. More asian than mediterranean but still the chef pulls it off well. However, the main is best shared among a few rather than eat a whole bowl of mussels as your primary dish.

Barbequed Spatchcock Chicken (RM28) - grilled spring chicken, potatoes and a burnt aubergine salsa. The whole dish again bursts with flavour with a whole load of roasted shallots. The use of spring chicken versus chicken breasts is a plus point.

Chilli Shrimp Spaghetti (RM29.50) - pasta of shrimp, fennel, tomato and shallot. Loads of fresh prawns makes this dish a rather safe and familiar one for both the diner and the chef.

Overall, the food were all well executed with a variety of flavours that teases the palate. A pity the camera died upon me when desserts were served. Highlights from dessert include an off the menu cake that had toffee, caramel and nuts served with vanilla ice cream and the homemade brownie.

Thank you Jek from the Qguides.com for the invite and Perin Petrus and Richard for being the gracious hosts.

Address and contact details:

No. 132, Jalan Kasah, Medan Damansara
50490 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03-20950122

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Truly enjoyed the concept and the food. If only, there can be more carpark along Jalan Kasah.

PS: Looking back at the pictures, i dare say my mojo is back!

Friday, November 6, 2009

What is the big deal about GST, in the eye of a foodie?

What is the really big deal about GST? (in the foodie world)

Recently, our dear Prime Minister sneaked a paragraph in the budget speech about the dreaded GST.

Newspapers columns complained and complained. What? Service tax, service charge and now GST?

Matter of fact, i was listening to BFM and the interviewer asked, how would GST affect your business? (the interviewee was the MD of ChasWood Resources, operator of TGIF, Italiannies, Laundry and etc etc)

It is apparent even the interviewers have the lack of knowledge of GST (imagine the man on the streets!) because one would know what the obvious answer, if they had a clue what GST is all about.

So just in case, any readers out there wanting to carry a banner around the street telling people how bad GST is because it might increase the prices of food, think twice after you read on.

The current situation

In our restaurant bill, the components are as follows:

Food - RM XX
Service tax (5%, if restaurant income more than RM3 million) - RM XX
Service charge (10% appears to be the industry norm) - RM XX

Total - RM XXX

Now, service tax is the "tax" that the restaurants collect and pay the government.

Now, service charge goes into the pockets of the restaurants and if they are generous, they fork out some for their staff.

Come, GST..(which replaces Service Tax, dear interviewer, just in case you didn't know you made a blunder on radio)

Food - RM XX
GST (X%) - RM XX
Service charge (X%) - RM XX
Total - RM XXX

On first sight, GST does not make a difference to you and i, unless the rate is more than 5%. Apparently the figures flying around is 4% (although feng shui wise, i don't think it is such an "ong" number, but i will stick with 4 if they decide to go with 8%)

Go one step further, certain items like soft drinks are currently subject to sales tax of 10% and you pay service tax of 5% on it, how about when GST comes in?

Sales tax regime

Bill to Restaurant

Price - RM 10
Sales tax (10%) - RM 1
Total - RM 11

Bill to Customer

Price - RM 11 + 20% margin
Service tax (5%) - 66 cents
Total = RM 13.86

GST regime (which replaces sales tax and service tax)

Bill to restaurant

Price - RM 10
GST (5%) - RM 0.50
Total - RM 10.50

(BUT, restaurant puts the 50 cents back in their pockets, due to an unique way how GST works)

Bill to customer

Price - RM 10 + 20% margin
GST (5%) - RM 0.60
Total RM 12.60

Wait a minute, RM 13.86 versus RM12.60?

Conclusion: Shouldn't GST actually make dining outside cheaper?? So i say, bring it on!

Disclaimer: The above is a very simple layman explanation as to how GST in its many magical ways can bring good to us. However that being said, not all items are subject to the current sales tax and service tax but when GST comes in, a bigger basket of items will be subject to tax. In the eyes of a foodie however, eating outside food should be cheaper, if not the same!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The London Restaurant @ Good Hope Building, Nathan Road, Hong Kong

I am obviously quite desperate to find content to blog despite in the words of Austin Powers, "lost my mojo" in taking pictures and eating at new places.

In fact it has been so long that my camera died on me at the shot of the last main. Lesson learnt; when Canon 400D says theres 2 bars out of 3 bars, dont believe what you see, chances are it just dies without seeing it drop to 1 bar.

So since it will take awhile to get the mojo back, i have been efficiently filtering pictures from Penang, Krabi and even Hong Kong (back in May) and i have once again rise from the dead with some unpublished photos.

Back in May, when the metabolism rate was still well and the gym sessions frequent, meals in Hong Kong was a constant chore but a chore that you wouldnt mind doing every day as opposed to mopping the floor or going to work.

So on one of the random meals after breakfast and before lunch, we decided we had stomach for dim sum, so dim sum it would be. Not just any dim sum place but one that the man on the street would visit on a weekend. Old school mix with weathered interior is probably the words that comes to mind.

I rather not comment about flavours as i have not the slightest clue as to how this would taste like after eating this 6 months ago.

Just enjoy the pictures.

Good old char siew pao.

Spring Rolls

The Gung Tong Gao, basically the most expensive dumpling on the menu

Har Gao and Siu Mai

Yong Tau Foo?

Salad Prawns, Radish Cake and Fried Chee Cheong Fun

Egg Tart

Good old steam chee cheong fun

In addition to how the place looked, the food tasted the same too. Good old hong kong dim sum, theres not much finesse in the food, just good solid morsels vs. the dainty ones we are used to. Abit like our Foo San in Ipoh (10 years ago, i can't vouch for it now because i haven't been there in yonks), where you get a hearty breakfast.

Read the chopstick for more information.

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. Nothing too fancy but just a meal for a normal day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bellini Italian Restaurant @ Amari Vogue, Krabi

One thing i noticed thats lacking around the internet is the equivalent food blogs in "touristy destinations" i.e. Krabi.

Trying to find comforting reviews from reliable sources is like finding crab dropping on the beach.

It doesn't help that civilisation is also half an hour away from where you stay, so hotel food is like a good friend that you can depend on, anytime of the day.

So without any reviews at hand, we decided to dine by the beach at the Bellini, the hotel italian restaurant (not very thai for a thai trip, but oh well).

The advantage of going to a hotel during low season, the whole place to yourself!

A spring roll as an "amushe bouche"

Antipasto Bellini; which came with prosciutto, parma ham, mussels, cheese and etc. Tasted alright, but for 530 baht, the prices are what you would expect to pay in a proper restaurant in KL.

I couldnt resist when i saw risotto on the menu. Alas, the saffron rice was bland and the sausage seemed abit generic. Paying 400 baht for this was disappointing.

The salmon squid ink pasta was lovely. Creamy and seasoned well, the Girlfriend finished it up quick.

The Gelato won us over. At a buy 1 free 1 offer (80 baht per scoop), this was cheap and so sinful. Kept thinking about their ice-cream throughout the stay and one can imagine how many scoops we had.

Located in Amari Vogue Krabi

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. The menu looked brilliant and helmed by a foreigner too (not sure whether hes italian though) but the food we ordered were ok, did spot a steak with foie gras but we had no space left.