Friday, April 30, 2010

Betty's Midwest Kitchen @ Aman Suria

There are plenty of restaurants at the Aman Suria precinct or so it seems. Just totally out of the way for someone who stays on the other side of the world, the only time i have been around is at the mamak after attempting to play tennis at Tropicana.

So it was again to my surprise that from Saujana, according to the GPS, Aman Suria is only 2.8km away! Wow, what a surprise but frankly i can never trust the information because it seemed much further away than 2.8km.

Well the next question was what to eat at Aman Suria? The latest hype i suppose is to eat at Betty's Midwest Kitchen.

An effort to bring some old American classic pork dishes into Malaysia.

Blame the weather, the lemonade was cool and refreshing but my poor Root beer was just not icy cold enough but tasted good. Make sure you tell them you want it real cold.

The Soup of the Week, a chicken onion soup. Mild unlike french onion, the large croutons were clumsy and soggy. A bad idea but the soup and garlic bread was wholesome.

The baby back ribs, despite the dry looks was very tender and a nudge using the fork would do the trick of getting the meat from the bone. Had a very smokey flavour too.

The pulled pork burger also tasted very good. The sauce is somewhat like our A&W coney dog (which is a good thing) served with again very tender pork and onions. Don't wait too long to finish this off as the bun can get very soggy.

The Boston Butt was actually grilled pork shoulder almost seemed tough compared to the 1st two dishes but by no means was it piece of cardboard. It didn't have the texture of a pork chop which i would have liked but it was more flakey like. The mash potatoes and peas were good but the sauce (from the picture) was dreadfully oily.

I have heard that meatloaf is another dish to try and who wouldn't want some country fried chicken? Maybe a next time?

For desserts,

The apple crumble that was well, ok. Served with two generous scoops of ice-cream and for RM8, no one can really complain (except it would have been better with Haagen Daz, of course).

Bread and butter pudding with ice cream. Another so so dessert that didn't exactly wow us.

Prices though are very decent, a main meal costing between RM12 - RM 30 and a meal per person would cost around RM30 per pax, certainly more affordable than shopping centre meals but just as tasty. However a few hours after the meal, i felt really thirsty, a sign of too much loving MSG?

Address and contact details:

A-G-40, Jalan PJU 1/43,
Aman Suria, Damansara,
Petaling Jaya.
(Closed on Mondays)

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars. It is another one of these places that offers decent food with some hits and misses but a refreshing change as a neighbourhood restaurant with family members running it opposed to foreign labour.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ding Tai Fung @ Sogo, ZhongXiao Fu Xing, Taipei

I have been meaning to write about this awhile ago but put it on the shelf when i was actually invited to sample Ding Tai Fung delights at Pavilion after coming back from Taiwan shortly. However timing and stomach space being an issue, that hasn't realised and i thought i might as well finish off writing about Taiwanese food.

Ding Tai Fung is famous for serving Shanghainese food especially for their xiao long baos, and should be no secret that it hails from Taiwan. It's ironic how a taiwanese can so famous for cooking a cuisine that techincally don't belong to them. Even in Shanghai, Ding Tai Fung is preferred to by many as there literally an empire built upon a recipe of xiao long baos as well as their other dishes.

So it was a case of putting on the most particular taste bud as we visit their Zhong Xiao branch for a very early dinner.

Even at like 4pm, queue is like 10-15 minutes long. While waiting, tick what you want and the order is already in the kitchen. This probably cuts down the waiting time and optimises the turnaround time.

The decor and layout is pretty standard and i think it is probably almost protocol to have the same kind of furniture and feel. The waitresses obviously looks prettier and we find that in general the mandarin spoken by taiwanese is far gentler and sweet compared to chinese from mainland China.

As usual i was craving for beef (minus the noodles). The portion was meagre but the soup was spot on as i almost polished the bowl.

I love my drunken chicken and this bird here was well ok. The wine was very strong and fragant but i don't think the bird was drunk enough.

If some of my trips have taught me a lesson, it is the lesson to eat as much fibre to avoid constipation and bloating from overeating. This vegetable is plainly called "A" Vegetable, probably a local breed as the texture and taste was something i never encountered before. However, very enjoyable, sweet and slightly crunchy.

What we came for, the xiao long baos. To be very honest with you, it is comparable with what we get in Malaysia and that means quality control must be very strict. However, i can say the crab meat xiao long bao was far better, probably due to the access of seafood compared to other countries, sweet and totally set the bar compared to the pork version.

So there you have it, is it really far greater in Taiwan? Not really.

Prices are comparable after conversion.


Inside Sogo, ZhongXiao FuXing MRT Station

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. People have commented what will it take to for me to give 5 stars? Maybe if i was served the crab xiao long bao only, if i didn't have to queue up, didn't have problem finding the place but really, is there a nirvana of a restaurant out there? Ding Tai Fung in Taipei is as usual, well made delights, similar to what you can get in Malaysia but maybe if we had more people there to try more dishes, it could have been 4 stars.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Beef Noodles @ Taipei International Airport

Despite hearing plenty of praise for KLIA, our Malaysian airport and pride, i can't seem to find any interesting restaurants in there. You have the standard coffee and fast food chain and if i am not mistaken, an Eden.

I don't think i ever had a meal in KLIA to be honest.

Well in the Taipei airport, i didn't put too much hope. Deep down i regretted not having more beef noodles that the first meal we had (which is by the way another story, if i remember) so when we were wondering how to spend the rest of our NT dollars, we stumbled upon a place that sells beef noodles!

Apparently this "kitchen" is opened by one of the larger hotel chains; Grand Formosa. Prices dont come cheap as a simple noodle set starts from RM30 onwards.

Almost like how some koreans eat, with a few side dishes. The egg (at the end) seem to be a common thing with their version done with quail egg a very famous souvenir to buy back. However, not many in office had the guts to give it a try as it sits there.

You can either have a pork chop, fried.

Or the classic Beef Noodles. Not too bad since it was airport food but prices are steep.

At least it meant not having to eat food from Air Asia, not the greatest way to spend your calories.


Taipei Airport, Terminal 2 (or the terminal where you fly Air Asia)

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. A better option compared to Air Asia food obviously.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kansai @ NZX Ara Damansara

Remind me for those familiar with the Ara Damansara area but wasn't there a time when there was this cool hip place called Niu ZeXui 牛车水 or to be as cooler known as NZX? I remember radio ads talking about this place day and night as if it was a place for pilgrimage.

Fast forward, we were playing with the GPS and realised that it could find restaurants nearby the area i.e. Saujana where it popped up Niu Ze Xui which was 2 km away.

Well, no hesitation in finally seeing the hyped up place.

Although driving through; what seemed like low cost housing and a near desserted commercial area wasn't what i had in mind.

Almost no restaurants left, there even had a coffee place with furniture and equipment and all, just left closed. All you could find was a Full House, the place where you find decor plays a bigger part than food, Daorae, not surprised since there are literally opened everywhere and a humble looking Japanese restaurant called Kansai.

Not surprisingly they had two occupied tables on the other side on a Sunday night. Since we had to rush back home because AAM was coming to save the Wife's car battery, we "tapau'ed".

The Soft Shell Crab Salad with Ebiko and Sliced Cucumbers. Plentiful of ebiko i must say but all i tasted was fried flour rather than crab.

The Chicken Katsudon was actually not too bad.

Unagidon was rough on the edges as the eel tasted rather dry.

After putting my order down, i realised that the place was abit quiet to expect fresh sashimi. Luckily with no expectations, the serving was rather generous and decent (no stomache for me, the next day).

Prices are around RM15-25 range for a dish with rice, probably more if you order anything more exclusive. Googled the place and realised that since opening they have been running a 10% discount promotion till now!

So if you find yourself stuck in the Ara Damansara area, daring enough to drive to almost desserted town, wanting to eat Japanese food, its an option. Otherwise, Subang is 5 minute drive away and has a whole street of Japanese dining.

Address and contact:
KG-08 Block STK, No 2, jalan PJU1A/41B
Pusat Dagangan NZX, Ara Jaya, 47301 PJ
Tel : 7883 0138

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. You pay for what you get, value japanese food. Pray the place actually stays alive.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

China Treasures @ Sime Darby Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur

Given a choice, i prefer my chinese food, non halal. Well it is a personal preference.

However being in a 1Malaysia environment, there are certain limitations when it comes to eating chinese food i.e. trying to find a good halal chinese restaurant.

Hotels are definitely an option but prices are well, you get the picture.

Another option is the Sime Darby Convention Centre which doubles up as a place to hold functions, conferences as well house two restaurants, Halia and China Treasures, halal obviously.

How does the food hold up though?

When you are given the option to have peeled or unpeeled prawns, it automatically means bonus points. This was done in a fruit sauce but had a savoury hint of salted egg yolk though, can't remember the name of style but try asking "the one with fruits and peanuts?"

Peking Duck done two style, pancakes and noodles. Pancakes were nicely done, noodles were soggy from braising so those who are fans of al-dente carbs wont like this.

Black pepper beef was also well coated with sauce, did i mention tender too? Whether natural or man made, i didn't care because it was a decent dish.

Some of their dishes are individually served which is the new trend of chinese cuisine, almost like a degustation menu i.e. soup, meats, vegetables, carbs, desserts and etc. The Homemade beancurd came with a few strands of mushroom and a generic starchy oyster sauce (not to say it is bad).

The fish was most unfortunately over steamed and took too long to be individually served, rendering it cold as well. If anything, i think the fish should be first placed in front of the guests then ask if they would like it individually served. Serving behind the scenes, only make guests wonder what in the world you are doing to the fish especially this wasn't a cheap fish.

I do vaguely remember a few more dishes like the vegetables and dessert but can't seem to find it on Flickr. Blame the unstable connection when i upload batches of pictures onto Flickr and i don't check.

Another qualm with service is that there are TOO slow. Yes, business lunches are meant to be slow but not for normal working people who have an hour at most. We waited close to 30 minutes to be told that no one ask them to serve the food and typically waited quite a bit in between the dishes. I have also heard of blunders in the bill where they charge extra, not just abit but something in the tune of 40% because of an "error". On another ocassion when we had dim sum, the service was ok and the food was ok since you have to forgive them for not being able to use pork, amongst other things.

If you have no choice for a halal chinese restaurant for a business lunch or celebration, do try to book their private rooms; good ambience and comfortable.

Prices are typically RM70-RM100 per pax, cheaper if you have dim sum.

Address and contact details:

1A, Bukit Kiara 1, 60000 Bukit Kiara, KL

Tel: 603 2089 3788

Verdict: Out of two times, i think the score would be 3 stars, otherwise for the experience above, 2.5 stars out of 5 stars. Not a place i go if i had a choice, naturally.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Häagen-Dazs Sushi Platter @ Solaris Mont Kiara

Fancy a scoop of Häagen-Dazs in the form of something slightly more exotic?

How about in the form of hand crafted sushi?

Like most handcrafted sushi out there, a platter of 4 pieces or more will set you back a few of your hard earned money and this costs RM35++. What you get is the awesome use of sweet flavours like vanila, chocolate and macademia nut brittle and tangy flavours of strawberries, mango and kiwi as well as texture wise with the generous use of macademia nuts.

Rather "gimmicky" but it shows that there should be no boundaries to serve ice cream. Rather enjoyable to share with a few friends.

Pair it with a nice glass of coffee as well while you enjoy their rather comfortable ambience upstairs, comfy sofas and free wifi. Ask them to omit the cinammon powder on the top of the foam.

If you havent had enough, you can give the "Sweet Romance" a call, vanilla and white chocolate, a real sweet dessert for those who wants a sugar high.

Fancy anything else? Hop by and be fascinated at their menu titled "A Journey Of Indulgence".

Thank You Regina and Joelle from Pat-Lin Communications and the friendly representatives for the invite.

What i got to say though, with the addition of quality ice-cream, their coffee is much more worthwhile than our coffee chains and the place is so rather inviting to sit down, chit chat and catch up with some friends.

A new place to spend a few hours on a hot afternoon, definitely.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Breakfast in Taipei and Kaohsiung

In Malaysia, our local breakfast ranges from nasi lemak, roti canai, thosai, teh tarik and the list goes on.

In Hong Kong, the most famous thing for breakfast to some (at least me) is dim sum.

In Taiwan, well it is something different.

The norm usually involves a soya bean drink (either sweet or salty) and either one of the following:

(a) a flat bread ("hou bing") which you can have a filling of yau char kuey (fried crullers or "you tiao") or an omelette (to order say "hou bing jia dan")
(b) dan bing which looks like our local roti canai with eggs.

Know how to say the above and i guarantee you wont go starving in any breakfast place you land on in Taipei. In addition, there are a range of dumplings and buns ready to go, so just point away!

There is a famous breakfast place, famous for the long queues called Fu Hang Dou Jiang.

To get here, hop on the Blue Line MRT to Shandao Temple Station and take Exit 5. Enter the building on your right and proceed to 2nd Floor. The place opens from as early as 5.30am till sold out.

Our queue time was approximately 40 minutes and man, we were starving at the end.

The flat bread is done using a "tandoori like oven".

Quick quick, dig in! Although quite bland, the warm bread plus the soya bean does works wonder as the carbs keeps you fueled up for all the walking.

Another close up.

One of the random items i pointed at.

Soya bean, there is the sweet ("tien") and the savoury ("xian"). The savoury one involves putting vinegar (i think) into soya bean which curdles into a bean curd like. Sounds unappetising but definitely most delightful.

Another meal at Yong He Dou Jiang (an apparently famous name) nearby our hotel at the Taipei Main Station yield us something different.

All the goodies made upon order.

A Yang Chung Mien Bao Jia Dan (onion flavoured bread with omelette). Soft and fluffly.

Roti Canai in Taipei? I wonder who copied who?

Soya Bean is a must.

Kaohsiung is no different as we had another typical breakfast meal.

This place is famous for their black soya bean.

A vegetable bun, the result from pointing.

Another Dan Bing with the addition of sweet corn ("yu mi"). Apparently in the south, you eat it with a sweet sauce as well.

Look Ma, I am black! (again)

Lets hope if you end up in Taipei, looking for breakfast, you will know what to order! As far as i know, theres also glutinous rice with you tiao which we didn't manage to eat, didn't want to get indigestion, do we?

Did i not mention that items usually don't exceed NT40 to NT50 (RM4 - RM5)?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ji Jia Zhuang 雞家莊 @ Taipei, Taiwan

I cant believe it has almost been a month since we flew off to Taipei for our DIY trip. A reader mentioned when i was going to show the "fresh meat" of Taipei and today i present you the freshest chickens one can find; purebred free range chickens to be exact.

Ji Jia Zhuang is somewhat a symbol from all the articles you can get from Google. Known to some as the place to go when you are in Taipei, the decor is old school and littered with lots of cocks and chicken art pieces. However after being in the restaurant for a little less than an hour, i noticed that the ratio of tourists vs. locals seem to be close to 3 to 1.

Obviously a hot favourite among the Japanese.

Well, prices are not cheap but lets see if the chickens are really that good.

The Three Savoury Chicken; Black Chicken, Steam Chicken and Roast Chicken (NT420). Texture wise you can taste that the chicken are indeed free range with the bite it comes with. The black chicken is indeed black as seen below.

"Look Mom, i am black!"

Pair it with their Chicken Rice (cooked with chicken broth), NT 30 per bowl, you have one of the best chicken rice meals ever. However their chilli and ginger sauces are quite weak and unlike what you can get in Malaysia.

Coming all the way from Malaysia, you wouldn't expect us to stop here and so we soldiered on.

The pork ribs looked wonderful on the menu and so we ordered. It tasted somewhat familiar like a sweet and sour sauce and i suppose we could have gone for something more authentic (NT 300++)

The white bittergourd is a must order, stir fried with black bean sauce. Not overly bitter, soft and slightly chewy, the white variety is supposedly very common in Taiwan. (NT200-300?)

For desserts, one must try the Custard pudding served with plum tea. I have read online that they give it complimentary eventhough on the menu it is NT120 per plate. Funny thing is when we ordered one, they gave us one free on the house, well for the price we paid, the sweet smooth custard is similar and can compete with what you get in Ipoh. The Taro Balls had a savoury filling and unless you like savoury desserts, skip this.

Overall, a tourist restaurant to go to but i am sure locals do eventually make their way here for some good chicken loving.

Address and contact details:

55, ZhangChun Rd
(02) 2581-5954
Hours: 11 am-10 pm

Best way to get here is to use Google Map and type in
"雞家莊Address:‎" and you will do fine. Nearest MRT station is Zhongshan and depending on the exit you get out, it is a 10 minute walk.

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. One should really get a crowd here and try more of the dishes. Tourist friendly (eventhough not much English speaking but Japanese speaking waitresses) and the place gives the impression that this is somewhat a Taipei icon to visit.