Tuesday, September 5, 2017

resourcefulness~

Yours truly has unpublished hundreds of older posted dated from 2008 till 2011. I will need some time in filtering out post which are food reviews from rantings and events of my *ahem* personal life. To kickstart the repost unpublished/archived posts on food, here is one of the many which I handpicked so that I can entice somebody whom I know :)

When hunger strikes.... when the weather is too cruel to allow you to have a "blow water" yumchar sessions... when dinner don't seem to give that satisfaction.... Is instant noodles your convenient answer?
Tonight, we will learn a twist from your usual bowl of noodles. The major ingredients needed are resourcefulness and improvisation. I crave for something soupy due to the rainy evening. Something slightly fiery would be perfect. Saw this packet of Ibumie Har Mee flavour. Before getting the final product as per above, a list of preparation needed to be made, which includes:
1) Saute the prawns, preferably with some sambal tumis paste/chilli oil if available in your fridge.
2) Deep fry the shallots. Drain and use for garnishing.
3) Fry the fish cake and thinly slice it.
4) Thinly slice some pork, in my version, I used roast pork (siu yoke). Just improvise with whatever you deem fit.
5) Hard boil egg and thinly slice it.
6) Cook noodles and drain it.
7) Prepare broth using MSG/prawn flavour provided and chilli oil. You may further improve the version by frying the prawn shells and keeping the oil to drizzle over before serving
8) Arrange accordingly and pour steaming hot soup over.
9) Garnish with some greens (kuchai only available - preferably they use kangkung)
10) Have some extra chilli flakes from Dominoes? Add in for that extra kick!
There you have it. Late night hunger pangs cravings with a twist. =) PRAWN MEE SUPREME! (easily beat any versions served outside)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cheng Hwa Seafood Porridge, Nibong Tebal

Besides street food, the mainland of Penang promises good durians and also fresh seafood. On the way back Ipoh, a friend recommended to stop by Nibong Tebal for some seafood porridge. This hidden gem is a around five kilometers from the toll exit and it is somewhere among the village area. Search for Cheng Hwa Seafood porridge and you will get a lot reviews on this place. Some even uploaded photos of the menu here as well. And their iconic dish is....

Steamed lala is one of the entree to munch on while waiting for the porridge to arrive. The dish looks quite simple though with lemon juice, garlic, ginger and birds eye chilli for that added punch. The secret to this dish is always the freshness of the ingredients. The lala was cooked to the right degree without shrinking and it has a good texture. This is the medium portion at RM12 or RM14 if I am not mistaken.


The Fish Porridge is priced at RM6 per pax only. The portion shown in the picture is for 2 pax. The chunks of fish were fried before cooking it together in the porridge. Basically the porridge here refers to made to order “rice simmered into broth” versions. Hence, don’t expect starchy, translucent liquid with mushy grains porridge. The amount of fish exceeded my expectation for a RM12 price tag slapped on this bowl. Reasonably priced but the quality of the food exceed my expectation.

Due to limited command in Hokkien and also Mandarin, we signaled our intention in ordering a portion suitable for 3 pax. When the bowl of Crab Porridge arrived, we discovered that there are almost 3 pieces of crabs! Yours truly has eaten 2 claws and I think the rest of my friends dining along also had their fair share of the claws. While enjoying the natural sweetness from the porridge capturing the essence from the crustaceans, suddenly there was random thoughts of how much the bill will fetch considering there were almost 3 crabs served. These thought were brushed aside as not to spoil the sensation on indulging in sucking every morsel of flesh left and scrapping any roe from the shells. There were no muddy smell at all and the crab was indeed fresh. Ginger and coriander were used sparingly to mask any fishy smell but it was clearly unnecessary as the crabs were indeed fresh. Seasonal priced is the term used here, and this dish came to around RM60+, quite reasonably priced in view of having 3 fresh crabs cooked in it.

The Blanched Brown Cuttlefish bears no surprises as it a pale resemblance of the Sotong Kangkung, without the kangkung though. The sauce is a blend between a sweetish reddish sauce used in Chee Cheong Fun while the darker sauce is similar to the one used in Rojak (or to Penangites, its also their perennial sauce to go for along their the Chee Cheong Fun). The sprinkling of crushed nuts did not help much in elevating the taste of the dish. Despite priced reasonably at RM7, I suggest you skip this. The reason I reluctantly picked this was because they told me the Fried Mantis Prawns were “out of stock” or probably they just REFUSE to fry it due to brisk business and congested order queue from the kitchen area, as it seems that all fried finger food were not available that night.

Without my favourite mantis prawns, we picked the hand-made fish balls (RM7 for 10 pieces). As long as the items are “easily blanched” or “put in the steamer without much attention” cooking method, you will be assured they will “never be out of stock” unlike the “unfavourable reply” I got for the Fried Mantis Prawn. At this point of writing, do not take it as biased review though I sounded pissed for not getting my mantis prawns, but honestly speaking, the fish balls failed to shine as well. 

And to prove to you that I am ranting my frustration when I could not get my mantis prawns, I shall give them some due credit for this simple plate of greens.  Instead of drizzling shallots oil and soya sauce over blanched “Yao Mak” (Butterhead or Romaine Lettuce?), the gravy used was slightly thickened with cornstarch, which is lighter “Lor Mee” gravy and it is topped with some meat floss. What you get definitely exceed what you can get for RM5 nowadays. 

They have also Tomyam seafood noodles and other add-ons to be cooked together in your porridge like abalone slices, scallops, fish maw, etc. This map and photo of their shop name is obtained from their Facebook. They do accept reservations but let us all try to be courteous and punctual customers in returning the favour. Happy feasting! :)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

s.Wine, Paradigm Mall

S.Wine is another restaurant under the B.I.G. umbrella which also hosts brand names like Plan B, Ben’s Independent Grocer to name a few. Making their presence felt at Publika Shopping Mall and Tropicana City Mall, the latest addition this year is located in Paradigm Mall. The decoration and dining ambiance is quite similar to Plan B while the menu, as suggested by its name is comparable to the likes of Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf franchise, which coincidently meets head on with the former in Tropicana City Mall


The Fried Pork Burger (RM32) consists of a crumbed patty of minced pork meat fried to golden brown. While the breaded crust seems the be slightly dry, it served its purpose well in maintaining a juicy centre. The meat patty was not really spiced thus retaining its natural flavor from the minced meat. The toasted  brioche bun was slightly dry too hence diners will need to rely on the house-blended sauce and also the vege-slaw to overcome the dryness. Okay, I don't really think that's a brioche though, its just some dry burger buns with sesame sees of both colours, so they better be abit more truthful in their item description on their menu.

The Avocado Grilled Chicken Pasta (RM30) is a creamy alternative to those who fancy Cabonara-like pasta. Mashed avocado is pureed and mixed with cream to give a rich finish to the angel hair pasta. Served with small chunks of tender grilled chicken thigh which has a good smoky aroma, I will recommend this dish to be shared by at least two persons.

Like the name goes, have a pork-themed feast and pick another main dish from swine. The Chargrilled Jerk Pork Belly (RM30) was our pick and it comes in layers of alternating lean meat and fats. So health freaks will have a hard time separating the fatty layers from the lean. Thus I suggest that you share this dish among a group so that every single friend of yours will have a chance to carry the guiltiness of popping the whole cuts of fatty pork belly inside their mouths! Since we are talking about the fats, it is not really melt-in-your-mouth type but was slightly gelatanious, evident of the hours-long sous vide cooking style adopted prior to finishing it on a grill to get the charred bits. The meat is intensely flavoured with spices and condiments which bear an Asian twist, which is a little bit identical to satay – minus the turmeric. The sides of purple cabbage salad with lychee and pineapples serves as a refreshing tropical palate cleanser



The menu is more really extensive, having around just slightly over 30 items for the mains across few categories such as meat dishes, pasta, Asian cuisines (did anybody mentioned Bak Chor Mee, Nam Yue pork chops and Salted Eggs pork patties?) and sandwiches besides entrees and appetizers.They do have some house-baked pastries and cakes. During my visit, unfortunately, the draft beers were not available as the machine was not functioning. Draft beers are priced at 12 per half pint while bottled beers are from RM20 onwards. The portions were substantial but the items were honestly just above average considering there are so many dining options in Klang Valley. Not too bad but nothing really memorable. P/S: I would've sticked to some Mexican Fares and some cold draft beers in Chillis or TGIF if I know beer is not available that night

Friday, August 4, 2017

XLX Asia, Ipoh - Crayfish and a little bit more


Located at a intermediate corner shop nearby East Gate, there is this seafood themed restaurant among these "new shops". It shares the same road as Trio Cafe (I still have not try this Punjabi cuisine) and it is somewhere opposite GP Food Court. Opens only for dinner, welcome to XLX Asia!

 Their famous dish would definitely be Crayfish or literally translated as Little Lobster (Xiao Long Xia - thus the name XLX). I hope by now I have shed some light that crayfish is not a type of fish. It is actually a type of farmed freshwater lobsters also fondly known as Yabbies by the Americans and the most famous place if you google Crayfish is none other than Louisiana. Or perhaps the nearest place is your aquarium if you remember keeping similar species of such crustaceans inside your tank.

Price at RM55-57 for a medium portion, there are almost 16 crayfishes served for this price tag. For the Crayfirsh, there have two serving portions and four cooking methods. The traditional one is the dark soya sauce infused with garlic flavor. We had another portion of Salted Egg gravy which I believe is the one termed “Golden Sand”.

Eating the crayfish is much of a new experience to most but fret not as the friendly owner will be gleefully demonstrating on the proper way to deshell it. They provide disposable gloves for diners while they deshell the red crustacean. I prefer the salted egg gravy and I felt like ordering a bowl of white rice or fried mantou to mop the gravy clean. Overall, it was a new experience but to be honest, there is not much flesh after you deshell it. The flesh has texture which is similar to mantis prawns though.

The Rosemary Lamb Chops (RM28) arrived in big portions and the cuts were quite lean. Not bone dropping tender but again it requires some light chewing jaw exercise. A little meat tenderizer during the marinade stage could've solved the issue. Coupled with some broccoli and cauliflower, quarter slab of corn and some mashed potatoes, this appeared to be quite a wholesome meal on its own. And for light eaters, you could share this dish between two person by just complementing it with another salad perhaps.

For the white meat lovers or those who opt for a healthier pick, this is the Grilled Salmon with Peach Sauce would be probably your preference. I couldn't make much comment as I am never a fan of cooked salmon because I dislike the fishy smell from the skin. I only eat my salmon raw and usually in the form of sashimi.

Asking for first hand reviews prior to dining here, I have got two recommendations for the Roasted Pork Knuckle (RM45). And by the time this blog post is up, it will gladly be three as I do agree that it was properly done. With the skin crispy and crackling (do bear in mind that practice caution as certain portion of the skin may be a bit hard. This dish is definitely meant to be shared by at least two people. There is a serving of salad to balance out the guilt and some mashed potatoes for your carbo fix. There are to sauce to go along it - the brown sauce and also a pear/apple jam.

The Smoked Duck Salad (RM16) was good. Romaine lettuce and onions are generously drizzled with sesame dressing. The sesame dressing is more like vinaigrette based as opposed to typical creamy mayonnaise based. It has an appetizing roasted aroma with some sweetish and fruity taste thanks to the generous sprinkling of raisin which makes sure you finish your vegetables. With the slices of smoked duck and also quartets of hard boiled eggs, this is indeed a balanced meal for those on a diet.

As mentioned, there is actually options of white rice, fried rice and blanched vegetables (Chinese version in oil) for those who have Asian tastebud. Beer is reasonably priced here and so are other drinks. There is a "gold leaf" ice cream at RM12 which I have no idea what it is.... ShellOut is outdated now, so treat yourself to a new experience of munching on crayfish! :)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Champ Kitchen

I got to know about Champ Kitchen few months back. Having to see the price of their menu, I was a bit skeptical to try as it was relatively pricey in Ipoh and was doubtful was it any lackluster attempts which could not live up to expectations. After I did some research online, I discovered that they have an outlet in Kepong and was featured in Ho Chiak before, thus explaining the relatively “out of Ipoh price range”

Having twice Kenny Rogers meal in the gap of 3 days, I tried to avoid chicken and at the same time would prefer some porky goodness which I usually find my solitude in places like gastrobar like Berlin’s, Marganfield’s or Korean restaurant such as Doma, Daorae and Da Ohn Da to name a few. I was thinking; why not I just give this new place a try for dinner? 

The decor here is kept to the classic Chinese dining places back in the olden days - marble tables, wooden stools, "oil lamp" lights which resembles setting like an inn in those Chinese movies. And now, to the food review below!

The Pork Knuckle Rice Bowl (RM14.80) is slightly meatier but also comes with quite substantial layers of fat. The fat layer is almost melt-in-your-mouth degree, evidence of its acclaimed 72 hours preparation process. According to the description from the portraits and also the media coverage repeatedly highlighted on the TV screen, the slow cooking involves braising it under pressure with a recipe passed on for more than half a century old. The taste is more delicate rather than fully intensed stewed pork trotters version you find in Bak Kut Teh stalls whereby the latter uses heavier dosage of dark soya sauce, garlic, dried chili and seasoning like five spice powder. The one served in Champ Version boast of its tender and unique texture of both the lean layer and the fat layer, without an overpowering gravy.  

You would've noticed by now that almost all the individual rice bowl has an egg, a serving of mui choy (preserved vegetable) and a serving of ham choy (pickled/salted vegetable). The egg is not the hardboiled type as you would find in most other places but it has a runny molten yolk. The egg did not score the points by some who preferred the conventional type. To me the runny centre will be ideal if the rice is piping hot with lard - recreating the rustic recipe of artery-clogging "zhu yau lou fan" but alas the rice here is not hot enough when served. The second item, Pork Hind Rice Bowl (RM12.80 on its own) has lesser meat and its compensated with more gelatinous skin. Unless you opt for the RM15.80 version with additional portion of leaner pork slices as shown in this photo above.
The Pork Chop With Japanese Curry (RM15.80) was not so in place. The already tender stewed pork slices in herbal and soya taste did not really complement the additional gravy of the Japanese curry. The onshen egg is a standard accompaniment, but the pickled preserved vegetables is absent from this version.
If you need more carbohydrate, the White Rice is mildly transformed into revamped add-ons with the sprinkling of crispy fried pork lard and drizzled with lard oil. At RM3 per serving, the price is doubled compared to that of bowl of ordinary white rice; I feel that they could be a bit more generous in the crispy pork lard. After all, those who have done marketing often will clearly know that the cost of pork lard is very much low as it is an unwanted “by-product”.

The Plain Noodles (RM2.80) was indeed good, infused with a good fragrance of lard oil used while tossing the egg noodles. The texture was spot-on as it was neither overcooked not undercook and alkaline aftertaste was practically absent in every bite. However, if they could hold back a little from the dark soya sauce used, it would be near flawless. One step up the menu is the Pork Lard Noodles which is priced at RM6.80. Considering the premium of RM4 from the plain noodles, I think that would be a bit too pricey for just a small additional topping of fried lard.

Here is a snapshot of the menu. The individual rice bowl (or noodles meal) is the cheapest proxy to dine here if you would like to try more items. Being above RM10 for every single portion, it may be slightly pricier than what you would expect. But heck, a single serving of Bak Kut Teh alone also would be RM10, and if you add in yau char kwai, rice, additional fu chok or mushroom, it would be around RM15+ already. And judging by a better dining environment which is airconditioned, well, its up to you to define worth.

The bill for all the above plus 3 drinks came to RM57+. GST is already included and there is no service charge. Here is the "dishes" menu which could cause the addition impact to your budget. A small serving of claypot knuckle starts from RM48 and the large one cost RM78. Not to mention most of the other dishes are not that cheap either. Nevertheless, yours truly might wanna return to try the ala carte dishes this time.

Located at the same road as Good Times steamboat, Vnam Kitchen , Soon Fatt and Overseas restaurant in Greenhill, you either love it or loathe it (the slightly above Ipoh average pricing versus the love for pork). Hope this review will shed some light for those who have yet to try. Happy pigging :) oink~

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Da Ohn Da Korean Cuisine, Ipoh


Da Ohn Da has been in business for more than 2 years in an “ripe-for-harvest” environment whereby Korean cuisine is now accepted and gaining much popularity after all foundation works laid by Korean dramas and K-pop culture, not to mention the boom in the tourism industry.  While they have just opened their branch in the mainland of Penang, yours truly only sampled this place just last weekend after getting some positive comments from a friend or two.

The Bibimbap (RM17) comes with a well fried egg on top, unlike most version whereby a raw egg is broken on top of the steaming content beneath. So for those who went to Korea, I guess the raw egg “Cabonara-like” version seems to be the authentic one which requires one to mix it well before eating. Could the fully fried egg dished on top upon serving is improvised to cater to local taste buds which cannot accept the raw egg version? At Da Ohn Da, you are provided with the soya sauce and also the sweetish Bibimbap chilli sauce to add it according to your own preferred taste. Oh ya, there have the one with meat (chicken, beef or pork)at RM19 which I would recommend it. the meat sauce with gravy do enhance the overall dish a bit. Imagine the minced meat topping like u find in Hakka noodles.

There are six variants of banchans offered here. And from the photos posted on Facebook by other customers, it seems that they do not rotate their side dishes selection. You have the iconic kimchi, pickled zucchini, pickled beansprouts, fried anchovies, fried beancurd skin and spinach. The spinach and beansprout side dish is similar ingredients found inside your bowl of bibimbap


Same like the rules of most Korean BBQ chains around the neighbourhood, the minimum order for the BBQ meat on the grill is 2 portions. Here at Da Ohn Da, they tweaked the menu a little by displaying the price of 400g (which is already two portions). For RM56, one can choose or mix and match from the pork neck, pork belly, soya sauce marinaded pork belly and spicy chicken fillets. Lamb and beef are also available at a different price tag. 

They are using an electric grill just like most Korean BBQ in Ipoh. Unlike other places which use those thick 'stone' grill, the one here uses a thin grill plate there are open vents on the grill resulting into slightly charred and aromatic bits from the direct heat of the heating element. For the record, only Daorae is using a charcoal pit to barbecue the meat which gives it distinctive aroma. Overall, I find the dining experience acceptable, especially knowing the fact that it does not impose GST or service charge. And just like how a proper Korean restaurant operates, the rice tea is free flow and so are the side dishes. The bill comes up to RM75 for all these above and its good to feed 3 adults for lunch. And I will definitely come back to try their other stuffs :)