Friday, July 30, 2010

So long and farewell: Lots of Cravings is going out of town

As i type this, i have just woken up, packed up and ready to go (except that i can't seem to find my iPod Touch for some reason).

Go where? Lots of Cravings is going down under to Melbourne.

Stay tune for more local food action before transiting to a whole new array of Australian cuisine.

Ciao.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Max! Kitchen and Wines Lunch @ Jalan Inai, Bukit Bintang


You didn't think that my farewell meal series would have ended so prematurely after an Indian meal and a Potluck party, would you?

Well, here you go, another meal for the road.

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Now if one must be refreshed as to how i got the inspiration to start this blog and more particularly how i coined the title "Lots of Cravings", i got from a secretary i befriended at my workplace. She was heavily pregnant when we became lunch buddies, and if you haven't figured it by now, she had to satisfy many "cravings" before she went to labour. You should have seen the joy after each lunch session.

Hence Lots of Cravings.

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Fast forward, Lots of Cravings continues, she has gone on to be pregnant again and Max Kitchen and Wines has moved to a new sparkling place at Jalan Inai where it doubles up as a furniture showroom.

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Now the last time i went to Max Kitchen on a weekend, i was told that there was no set lunch much to the dismay of my wallet. This time around, we were greeted with a set lunch menu which gives you the choice of salad or soup and duck or fish for RM25 excluding service charge. Desserts is an extra RM14-15 and Coffee is RM8.


As usual, you will get their signature bread to be dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The key difference here is that the balsamic vinegar has been reduced to a sweet thick texture, which is very much different from the norm italian style.


The Salad was a simple one, with Feta cheese, olives, assorted vegetables and a light balsamic vinegar dressing. 


Don't want to feel like a rabbit? Have a pea soup that is flavoured with ham. I always thought that Max Kitchen was a "no pork" place, so the question now is, was it really beef ham?


Both of us thought that the duck sounded more appetising over the Dory but if you are looking for a substantial portion that will put you into sleep after lunch, don't look here. We had slices of smoked duck breast which had the texture of ham (not a bad thing) served with a mushroom ragout, the sauce is similar to what you may find in his mains served during dinner. Light and refreshing, i would say.


Now if one thing Max Kitchen seems to lack the oomph, it is the desserts. The brownie seem to lack the texture of a brownie, rather it tasted like a normal sponge cake, even the sauce and fruits, not to mention the ice-cream managed to save this rather disastrous dish.

Overall, looking for a nice place to catch up over lunch, for under RM30 excluding dessert and coffee, Max Kitchen is really the place to go to. 

Address and contact details:

Lot 32, Jalan Jati,
Off Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-21429720

Opens daily from 11am to 11pm

I know this is not Halal certified because of alcohol but i really don't remember it serving pork

Turn into Jalan Inai (the road opposite Ritz Carlton) and it is right at the end of the street. If you look carefully, there are signboards along the way to the restaurant.

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. It is one of those places that can blow your mind off provided if you have a bigger wallet for it, otherwise the simpler lunch set shows glimpses of what Max can offer, a pity about the dessert.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hot Can Cafe Latte, Hot Chocolate or Mocha, anyone?


Instant hot drink anyone? Now, to be very honest with you, i was skeptical even after witnessing how it all worked. In fact i was mesmerized by how a can could warm up by itself by shaking it for a good 30 seconds, releasing some steam along the way as a by-product. It is even eco-friendly, in times when green is the new black or white.


So why was i skeptical?

In truth, why would anyone pay RM8-10 (depending on which supermarket you buy it from) for a can that turns into a hot drink, in a weather that is sickeningly hot? 

1. Convenience. Find yourself in the middle of night looking for something warm to drink before going to bed? Take a can, avoid all the hassle of going into the kitchen.  

2. Just plain lazy.

The simple technology that they have put into the product is awesome and double that, the drink is halal and 100% made in Malaysia.

Taste wise, it is still lacking compared to more established products like Milo or Nescafe. The flavours are slightly mild and not overly sweet, although i would have liked it to be a thicker consistency especially when it comes to hot chocolate.
Find yourself in the jungle at night, freezing? Or this time next week, i am going to find myself in an average temperature of 10 degrees and less during the night, i seriously wouldn't mind an instant hot can.


Don't pull the trigger first.

At the bottom of the can, press hard, break the seal and shake the can till steam comes out.

 Once the indicator shows it is hot enough to drink, Enjoy.


Thanks to Dato' Kenneth Kolb for inventing the drink, if you like it oh so much.

Now dear Hot Can, do you mind if you can go back to R&D and make some hot soup or better yet, Cold Can?

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Thank you Mongoose Publishing for the kind invite to allow me to witness myself such an amazing product.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunda Kelapa @ Mercure Conventional Centre Ancol, Jakarta


When a few of my friends continued to blog about our Jakarta adventure recently, i realised i left out probably the most epic dinner we had before we left the country. After a long day at the Garuda Training Centre, which was probably as long of a time we spent on the roads; we were all dead tired, starving and our bums could not stand another minute in a car.

The solution? We dress up and eat in the hotel. Thankfully the coffee house does have a comprehensive menu serving a whole load of local delights and had an aesthetically pleasing ambience. 


 Sunda Kelapa, the place was called.

 

When a basket of bread is placed in front of you of butter, you can't refuse.
 

I had this Tahu Telur Surabaya dish, the first time here and i must say i really like the simplicity of the ingredients thrown in and mixed together with a peanut sauce. Essentially an omelette with pieces of taufu thrown in and topped with peanuts, tauge and other unidentified "flying" vegetables.

The Gado Gado was very appetising and served beyond it's purpose for preparing our stomachs for the main course. The sweet yet spicy kick got us digging into their generous portion, really quickly.


An international cuisine coffee house has to serve beyond their local delights and our dear "western" palate of the group ordered their grilled prawns sitting on a dollop of mayonnaise.  No complaints.


They also did a very nice smoked salmon sandwich but really, you should just leave the sandwiches and eat the local delights they have.


 While all the appetiser action was going on, we had to get a cooling drink and we got a really "big" jug of beer. Just look at the size compared to the salt container.

When all the mains arrived, the only thing that we were worried about was finishing.


 Just in case, you wanted to be a little different and try something beyond my recommendation of trying local (i know you would), there is a Tom Yum soup if you like that. I know it had quite a kick and had plenty of seafood in there.


Soto Tangkar Betawi - Spicy creamy beef rib soup. Meant to be a match made in heaven with rice, strong flavours from all that floating chilli and really, it was more of a stew than soup.


 Tongseng Kambing Cakrawala - Spicy lamb stew. Now that i look back at the description, could it have been the other way around? Although i really doubted that the above could possibly be beef. Who knows? If you do end up here and order the two, correct me if i am wrong!


The Ikan Bakar Jimbaran - Grilled Baby Snapper or an other fish based on availability. I couldn't take more than a bite of this because anymore and the button of my pants would have popped. Although i really liked this, judging from the bite. 


 All of the above are served with rice, just in case you wanted to know.


Unless you wanted to be different, order their Nasi Goreng Sunda Kelapa which comes with satay and prawns. This, i never got to try but if my memory serves me correctly, once upon a time when i was studying at Taylors Business School, an Indonesian auntie ran a small cafe and served the most awesome sambal fried rice, spicy till you tear but it was with the most flavour. I sincerely hoped it would have been the same.

Eating out at the Hotel, promises a bit of everything and of course, hygiene. I am quite surprised that the food was all delicious although i would have never known since it was a virgin experience with the local cuisine. So if you happen to find yourself in Ancol, not wanting to pay this ridiculous RM10 toll (one way) when you exit and when you re-enter the area, stay in and eat.

Price are slightly more expensive but if you convert back to Ringgit Malaysia with drinks, we spent RM60 per pax, really a sneeze for some. 

Located at the Ground Floor of Mercure Conventional Centre Hotel at Ancol, Jakarta.

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Decent local fare in a hotel setting.

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Once again thanks to Garuda Indonesia Malaysia for hosting the trip to Jakarta and Mercure Group for hosting the hotels throughout our stay.

Friday, July 23, 2010

If you had one thing to eat in Malaysia, what would it be?


In this time and era, the number of students going overseas to study and working people migrating out of this country is possibly more than you can ever imagine.

Those days, only the privileged ones get to go overseas, provided that they are either very smart so that they can get a scholarship or their family was outrageously rich.

Nowadays? Any Tom, Dick and Harry can score 9A's with their eyes closed, yet unable to speak a string of sentences of proper English can go overseas to study. As for working professionals, you got those people like me, wanting to get outside of their comfort zone to try something new.

Beside all that rambling which is obviously being a replacement for a food review (i am absolutely reviewed-out, i need to breathe), herein is the magical question to my readers before the weekend looms.

"If you had one thing to eat in the next 7 days before you fly out of this country (could be Malaysia or any other), what would it be?"

Would it be the ever so famous roti canai? nasi lemak? chicken rice? all the chinese pork dishes that you can think of? or will it be the banana leaf rice, mee mamak and fried chicken?


Since i was flipping through my Flickr photos, i think i wouldn't mind another meal of Rojak, chinese style. The sweet sauce flavoured with prawn paste and chilli wrapped into an assortment of fresh fruits.

 

Can anyone tell me if we can get Prawn Mee or as the people in Penang call it "Hokkien Mee" in Melbourne? I certainly hope so, if not i have to stuff myself with another bowl before i leave.

Either that or i hope that Little Penang seriously think of opening a franchise in Melbourne, which is by the way where i ate the above. Still not bad after opening all these years, a favourite haunt since our high school days. Deserve a 3.5 star out of 5 stars, a nice place to bring your foreign friends to, clean and yet familiarly authentic.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chutney Mary @ Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar


I have a few friends who can never be tasked to order food, if 

1. You are on a diet; or
2. You are on a budget; or
3. You do not like to waste food.
As you guessed right, they tend to order a lot and not necessary pay for everything or eat very much. Undeniably though, if you do fall under such a category, you are born to be a food blogger.

How do i know? I witness a food blogger in action just the other week at another catch-up / farewell session. Although, things were slight different because

1. I wasn't on a diet, i mean i never was, don't trust me if i tell you i am on a diet because i haven't lost weight for 4 years.
2. I was in for a treat.
3. Since i wasn't on a diet, i could continue to live the motto "Don't waste your food".

Who was i eating with? Ciki from the famous CumidanCiki.com and coincidentally her cousin Nigel from Just Heavenly.

So how did i know this two? I still remember coming across Ciki's website one fine day and like everyone gorgeous, Ah Pa later invited her to one of his memorable booze parties, in the course learn that she was related to Nigel and voila, the rest is history. As for Nigel, who doesn't know Nigel?

Oh wait, where were we for food? Chutney Mary, of course. On the street of Telawi 2, it doesn't stand out amongst the endless boutiques selling lady clothes but once you step into the place, you appreciate the white cave-like walls before you are seated down to be reminded where you are. 

Instead of pappadums, we are served a cracker-like with a spicy tinge. I prefer my pappadum. 

 
Dipped into either a mint dip or a mango chutney.

Once you are biting into it, you would have either ordered and began to wait in anticipation or instead be lost in the pages of northern indian delights.


We started off with something fried, i usually order the bhajis or the pakoras but i thought the lady fingers might be refreshing. Cut into shreds, you don't get any of the gumminess, however you can't really taste any flavours except for the batter. I would have liked it sliced horizontally.  


 In any Northern Indian restaurant i go to, a must order is the Butter Chicken. Here i am glad to say, they do a decent version, my own qualm is that there were only a few pieces of chicken, not all drumstick of course and could have been more creamier.


I have learnt that in terms of spicyness, Vindaloo is the spiciest as it goes. Somehow or rather, this was rather tame or mild, judging from my pre-conception. Either that, it is the lesser amount of chillies used in Northern Indian cuisine. Slight fiery sauce with lamb cubes, this called for carbohydrates.


Another dish that i must order, whether in a group of 2 or 20 is the Palak Paneer, basically cheese cubes cooked in mashed spinach. I must have said this before, i wonder why i don't have Popeye's biceps from eating this, should i have it more often? 

 Tandoori chicken is another staple dish that you can get everywhere but you will be pleasantly surprised at their version. Succulent pieces of chicken, even after a round in the tandoor oven.
With so much dishes that all call for carbohydrates, you didn't think we would not order any right? Accompanying everything, we had the plain briyani rice. What i sometime like about rice done indian style, is the fragrance of the distinct grain instead of mush alike in a very good Chinese fried rice.

Rice is not enough, you will be a fool not to order some naan too as their versions are not overly oily and yet flavourful like their garlic version.

Now if you think the above was more than enough for 3 people, we still had desserts.

Firstly, either a Bru coffee or a Masala Tea to calm down the senses.


 The Gajjar Halwa; shredded carrots with loads of other sweetening ingredients like ghee, sugar and almonds. 

 

 If you want some sinful ice-cream, you got to eat the kulfi, pistachio flavoured. Essentially made up from condensed milk and cream, this contains that much fat that it takes a long while before this baby melts. 


Perhaps the only bad dish really of the meal, the gulab jamun looked small, had no bite and were terribly sweet. 

All in all, a good place for Northern Indian cuisine and prices are well, slightly above average. The mains are about RM15-20 a portion and the whole meal worked out to be around RM60 per pax but that is really pushing the normal limits of eating. 

If i were you also, i spend the extra money to park inside Bangsar Village instead of circling around for free parking. 

As for my lunch companions? Priceless.

Address and contact details:

No. 21-G, Jalan Telawi 2
Bangsar
Kuala Lumpur

(Opposite of La Bodega)
 
Tel: 03-2282 9923 
 
Pork free
Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Another place to jot down when i need to satisfy my Northen Indian food cravings although i hear i can get more potent stuff down under.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The See Ya later Mate Partay @ Fatboybakes


I wanted to leave the best for last. 

I suppose as usual, i am never really patient enough.

So i will skip right through to the most recent farewell session i had with the people that have kept me blogging about food till this very day. 

Pronounced as The "See Ya Later Mate Partay" for Nipple Joe, this was the farewell with the food bloggers.

Most of them go way back to 2007. I still remember that night when i first met this crazy bunch of people (in a fun way) and that it never crossed my mind that they would become such good friends. Over the course of 4 years; countless parties, lunches and dinners, even a food trip!, laughter and joy, this is one bunch of people that i will never forget.

Yes, these are also the very bunch of people who have given me a nickname that you may have randomly chance across it on the comment boxes or twitter. Maybe a story for another day.

Before i let the pictures flow through, the food pictures of all the wonderful stuff we had during tea, I would like to thank Cheng Yi a.k.a Fatboybakes or Ah Pa for being the gracious host as he always is. To be so nice of him to host my farewell tea party at his place, may i add. Always will be remembered for stuffing his camera down my shirt, his booze parties and his legendary cakes and so much more that it may take awhile to write it all down.

To all those bloggers that attended; Meena, U Mei, Nic, Jon, Way Cheng, Jek and Aly, thank you so much for coming on such short notice, the pleasure has been all mine in getting to know each of you and may the food blogging continue! Of course, not to say that you all are any least important than Ah Pa because he has more lines written about him comparably. Just to make it more equal, i enjoyed whether it was the food trip, the many meals together or just plain gossip!

To the rest of the friends who fell under the category of non bloggers, if we don't catch up via blogs, there's always Facebook or you can always come visit in Melbourne!

Even though it was meant to be tea time, food bloggers being food bloggers will indulge at any time of the day so it wasn't your everyday tea time.


Braised pork ("ter eu bak") was cooked by Nic's mom. The layers of fat made it so irresistible, i had to slap my hand to make myself stop!

 

Way Cheng's Thai inspired Pomelo Salad was lovely to balance all the heavy stuff we had. The sweet fruit and the tangy dressing.
 

Jon bought some Ah Khai's Char Siew which are chopped into chunks like how the Hong Kong people do it. Pick the right piece with the fats and you will shoot up into heaven.

 

Cheng Yi strikes again with this Mushroom and Luncheon Meat Quiche with Filo Pastry. The key is in the luncheon meat.  Available for order i presume.

 d

Accompanying the Quiche, a western-like rojak salad or if you like a pineapple, cucumber and apple salad with a peanut dressing. Refreshing.


 We also had some duck from Sunrise, best to consume on the spot but hey, no complaints because Kat managed to take away while we enjoy the cooling air-con.

Not to mention:

Ciki bought fried rice for us to eat all the above with! 
Chian Tyng got us the curry puffs and the sesame balls with red bean filling from Mr Chiam at Brickfields.
Karen made some fragant portobello mushroom pate with crackers.

For some reason, probably gluttony, my camera failed to register any memory of taking pictures of it. 

 

For sweets, the scones are gorgeous with cream and jam, courtesy of the host again. Probably about the only thing that really was meant for "tea time".


Some Big Apple "Sushi Donuts". They looked so cute but man there were sweet with a chocolate filling too.


Unlike most parties, this was rather mild, we ended the evening with a bottle of champagne i bought from the airport. Not a bad recommendation for USD 40 i think. Of course there were some single malt whisky action going on, as usual.


There were a load more pictures i took with the gang, not in my camera sadly except for this one.

With that, till we meet again.

PS: The venue is not exactly open to public. Members only.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Delicious @ Bangsar Village 2


There is something about food at Delicious. It is not particularly outstanding or the most creative in the world but like it or not they have the ability to attract long queues, whether it is a weekday or weekend especially during meal times. 

I suppose half the people or more who comes into Delicious, go in without a preconception that they will be served mind blowing food. Instead, as i have mentioned before, some places can simply just bloom because of the concept and the branding. Especially in an upmarket place in Bangsar, Delicious have positioned it to be the perfect place where the tai tai and Datins or the younger working crowd can have a meal or chill out. 

Despite being one who don't like to "fall in the trap" to go to places that focuses on things beside their food, one of my earliest catch up session before i am to leave the town for good was at Delicious. 

That being said, the food isn't all that bad but it isn't all that expensive either. The added plus point is the huge variety of dishes too that are all prepared with a certain quality.


You can have spaghetti aglio olio. A simple recipe that one would have to try very hard to get it wrong, boil pasta, toss with olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes.

 You could also have the recent US of A promotions where they have attempted to bring to shores some classic american dishes like the BBQ ribs. I must say that they did this really well, full of smokey BBQ flavour served with cooling coleslaw and fries.

 

 Looking for a snack to share? Try the fried mushrooms, i must say there were absolutely gorgeous, the thing you should order if you want something fried. 

 

 From pasta to ribs, they also do a very decent Hainanese chicken chop. A huge portion of chicken chop battered with flour and egg served with a tomato based sauce. This is again the item to call for if you want something fried or if you want a wholesome dish.

 

They do serve some local flavours too as you see an interpretation of their fish head noodles minus the fish head with the replacement of fish fillet. Looks too healthy too me but Niki didn't seem to have too much problems finishing up everything.

 
Our dear adik Hanis needs her rice so with that she ordered a steamed chicken which came in a pool of black sauce. I don't know what she thought about it but i rather dig into my chicken chop by the picture.

So if you want a place to hang out in Bangsar or Dua Annexe or Marcs Residence or Mid Valley or 1 Utama, you know you have Delicious to trust for some decent grub.
Located at the above shopping complexes and condominiums.

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Nothing too fancy but not too shabby either. 

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Catching up with the Chomel gang (labelled Chomel because it was apparently the most overused phrase throughout the trip) that went with me to Jakarta was certainly nothing short of fun as we talked about highlights of the trip over and over. One just need to imagine lots of laughter till cheeks were aching. I am glad to say that we have all kept in touch, one way or the other after the trip and i regard the whole crew as my good friends. It is a pity we couldn't have hanged out a bit longer in good old Malaysia before i go off to Melbourne.

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Stay tune for the rest of the week, as i run through my farewell and catch up sessions and reminisce how i got to know each separate group and individual. Time to emo.