Monday, February 28, 2011

Qi Yuan - a new spot for some light dim sums???

Time to evaluate another outlet which serves Xiao Long Bao. These cuties contain meat and broth in a dumpling. Having thinner skins, the ones in Qi Yuan is slightly better than the ones from Dragon-One. The soupy broth came in a considerable amount and was still hot. Slurp in caution while enjoying this!

Though its a shop with cooking theme of Sze Chuan and Cantonese (Kwong Tung) cuisine (thus the theme of "chuan kwong"), it does not fare less in the dim sum selections. You can find familiar dishes like the Har Guen (Prawn Roll) and Carrot Cake. Most dim sum will cost around RM3-RM4. The carrot cake here had a nice texture but could do better with some dried shrimps/ sausages.

Compared to the prawn roll, the Prawn and Scallop Dumpling did not fare as good in terms of crunchiness of the prawns. Most likely affected by the konyaku-like skin, I believe the moisture entrapped inside and the starchiness of the flour used caused the filling to be slightly messy. Though priced reasonably (RM4.50, if i remembered correctly), you can skip this. The Pork Dumpling in Chilli Oil came in 6 bite sized pieces, enough for you to sample it. Passable but nothing to shout about.

For less than RM4 (forgot the price, maybe RM3.70), you get 3 pieces of Char Siu Bao in a steamer basket. The skin of the pau is soft and fluffy, but the slight drawback was I tasted a mild chlorine like smell, probably due to the type of flour used? The filling could be more flavourful as I still get to taste a mild porkish odour of the meat.

Initially thought it was a dessert, The Pandan Leaves Dumpling (forgot the actual name and the price) turned out to be a savoury dish. Instead of having pandan kaya or dessicated coconut as the filling, it encases preserved salted vegetables and meat floss!!! It was indeed a surprise as I thought to end the meal with some desserts already by then.

A cross between savoury and dessert, the Lau Shar Pau is actually a Lai Yao Bao (Corn Custard Bun) with a twist. Incorporating salted egg yolk as partner, the filling turned out to be a winning combination! Best taken when hot, break the bun to check out the oozing filling! Do not scald your tongue in the process. This item would draw me back wanting for more! Perhaps the whole basket for myself! ^^

Another dessert - their Egg Tarts came in 3 but in really small size! Compare with the 50 cents coin by the side. The filling was not too my liking as it did not have the wobbly like egg custard. The "yellower" than normal custard did not ring my bell. Perhaps the flaky pastry did its trick in gaining some consolation marks!

Being a dessert fan myself, I needed some time to choose among some noteworthy desserts being offered. Sorry to the black glutinous dessert, mango pudding, mango sago, coconut sorbet on strawberries, I chose the Mixed Fruit Jelly (RM3.80). With bits of mango, strawberries and watermelon on top of jelly, which I reckon is aloevera flavoured, this is indeed a refreshing dessert. The price is also very reasonable.

Besides all light items, Qi Yuan offers choices of hand stretched noodles. Mostly served as dry version, expect familiar types like the Dan Dan noodles, chilli oil noodles and minced meat noodles. There is also a soup version of beef noodles! Overall, I'm quite satisfied with the food here. I would definitely come for more, provided they are more serious with their business hours. My first attempt during CNY failed as they opened half day without really notifying on the door, which I believe it did made many others disappointed. After this blog post visit, I again knocked on an empty shop to find it closed on a Sunday at lunchtime!!! Though Motormouth's post previously reported their business hours to be from 7am to 8pm, I made a phone call recently before going there, only to be informed their business hours now is only until 3pm. Good that I was not disappointed again after travelling from home to Greentown purposely for this. So, only can try it on weekends for working people.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Weng Seng Seafood Restaurant, hidden gem in Gunung Rapat

My aunty from Shah Alam came to Ipoh just last weekend and gave us a treat. One of my relatives suggested to go all the way to the slight outskirts of town for a dinner. I've no idea and have not heard of this place before. Weng Seng Seafood restaurant is a hidden gem somewhere near Kek Lok Toong. I'm not acquainted with that area despite staying in Ipoh all my life.

To suit my grandma, a tau fu dish was ordered. Kwai Fei Tau Fu, or fondly translated to Queen's Tau Fu by the restaurant, they boast this among their signature dishes on their menu board. Tastewise, there was nothing really special but the tau fu itself is indeed velvety and eggy. A simple "ching" dish for the older folks I reckon.

Another dish featured in the menu is the Indonesian Seafood Claypot. "Swimming" gloriously in the kunyit curry gravy which just had a degree of mild spiciness, one can get generous portions of fish fillets, brown sotongs and prawns with ladies fingers as their "lifeguards". This dish will certainly get you having another helping of white rice!

I'm never a big fan of poached chicken, other than the chicken from Ngar Choy Kai. Ayam Kampung flesh is never my cup of tea. Though the abalone does attract me to grab along one small piece of chicken to accompany the pricey sea mollusk, I didn't go for a second piece. In addition to the chewy flesh, I noticed a faint chicken odour. >.<

Thankfully something more fragrant cleared the potential lost of appetite after biting to the chicken in the form of Nestum Sotong. This time, white squid was used unlike the brown ones used in the curry. The Nestum was given a slight grinding treatment, making it to finer particles, as if breadcrumbs were used to coat the sotongs. Help yourself to the curry leaves too which add a slight crunch and aroma to every bite!

Amidst the fried stuff, dig into another claypot dish in the form of Salted Fish Pork Belly. The Ham Yu Fah Lam Bou here is nicely executed as I like the pork belly to be as thin as possible. The gravy should ideally be sufficient to caramelize the meat and not drench it. This dish is indeed robust in flavour and yes, pork belly with the right amount of fatty layers FTW!!!!

Oh, I missed the photos of our source of fibre, but the vegetables didn't made its mark in my memory. Lastly, we had the steamed tilapia with black beans. I could accept this way of cooking but the amount of black bean used is abit too much. Be moderate with the toppings as it may overshadow the flesh of this fish. Under the right amount, it will be a good complement to the rather bland taste of tilapia flesh. I'm quite satisfied with the meal, and the table of 10 people cost less than RM200. Oh, I've just found out that this place has been in business and reviewed 5 years go. Check out Citygal's review here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Lai I (eeeeee....)

Ah, I'm so captivated by this photograph as soon as I was handed the menu in A Lai I. Look at the amount of fish roe used as the topping of the sushi cake! Well, for RM80, it might be pricey to some as you are mostly getting sushi rice. On the other side of this laminated sheet it shows A Lai I are constantly creating new dishes to appease the customers. There is a Bento/Set Menu and an ala carte menu. Let's see what I've picked managed to gave A Lai I a good first impression since it's my first time here despite this place is quite established.

However, there were some slight problems with the service here. The first to arrive on my table was the Gyu Tataaki Teriyaki with Vegetables (RM20). I was totally turned off when a stir fry dish was the first in line ahead of my sashimi and appetizers. Tastewise, it was just so-so and did not live up to the hefty price tag.

As if stir fry items were not enough to kill your tastebuds, the next in the line was the Fried Mini Crabs (RM8.80). I threw away the receipt so I can't provide the actual name and price of this dish. However the crunchiness and addictiveness of this dish was very vivid in my mind! It's a slight detour from your conventional fried soft shell crab. These miniature crabs does not have much flesh, thus giving the extra crunch to every bite!

Next, the sushi arrived. You may order one unit of the sushi instead of coming in pairs, a common practice in many Japanese restaurants in Ipoh. I had the generic ones, baby Tako, seasoned jelly fish and seasoned scallops. Each piece is priced at RM2.80. There are more expensive ones among the list but I could not recall were there any sea urchin and tuna belly (toro) sushis. 20 minutes have passed since I placed my order and there was no sign of my salmon yet. That was why I was lazy to snap a picture of the California Roll (RM5), though the roll was freshly and nicely wrapped. The seaweed was still crunchy and they used the avocado instead of Tamago.

And finally, my salmon came!!! After a long wait and I knew the order was totally wrong, I was so annoyed, I even voice it out to the boss. He just nonchalantly said "oh i forgot this item at 1st". Common, you are charging a premium for your food. It's not like you are selling Japanese Food in Wooley Food Centre or Pusat Makanan Bercham Emas. How could one forget the golden rule in Japanese food of serving in order is vital for one to get the fullest of the food. From raw to cooked. From the less flavourful to the most robust in flavour. Even in sashimi, it could be down in detail to eating the lighter colour to heavier in colour. Though the Salmon Roll with Fish Roe (RM18) was a good dish, the improper serving order killed off part of the fun. To be fair, I must commend this dish is good with the fish roe giving a good crunch every time you bite into some.

Overall, the food is quite okay but its slightly more expensive than Akamomiji and Kizuna. Being one of the early Japanese restaurants in Bandar Baru Medan, the interior maybe abit shabby and does not cater to private conversation. The distance from table to table is too near. Will I return? Most likely no. =D

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

9 Big Ghost Banquet in a Chemor traditional home~

It was my first time driving to Chemor motivated by visiting a colleague's house and also good food! Chinese New Year season has dampened a bit but all was not gone! The journey was well rewarded with my colleague's parents cooking a storm whole day for dishes fit for a banquet. Yup, we nicknamed it "9 Big Ghost" (literally in Cantonese)

Enter the Little Ghost of home made Yee Sang! Say no to artificial colouring and preservatives and hello to healthy vegetables and fruits, namely cabbage, turnips, carrots and cucumbers. The fish is substituted with mandarin oranges, which made close resemblance to salmon slices! Topped with crushed nuts and fried nga ku bits, the home made yee sang is ready for tossing after drizzled generously with oil and plum sauce! Refreshing and different from the generic versions in restaurants and supermarkets!

A good appetizer fit to be a main course for light eaters, the 2nd Ghost was the Fried Stuffed Chicken Wings. Coated with crumbs instead of batter, the crispy and juicy chicken wings houses glutinous rice with bits of sauteed mushrooms, garlic and carrots. I seldom get to try this dish. In fact, this is my first time??? Skilfully and meticulously done, this dish it fit for the Four Season platter in restaurants! =D

Next, a larger chicken dish. Poached Kampung Chicken. The meat is firm but more on the chewy side. This may not be everyone's cup of tea as you might have good exercise of the jaw. But the firm flesh does have a distinctive flavour in a special way.

Enter one of the most sinful ghost of the 9. Stewed Pork with Yam (Wu Tau Kau Yuk). Using roast pork, it has the signature 3 layer of skin, fat and meat! Part of me was craving for slurping the whole piece down my throw while the other part was playing the guilt card of separating the gelatinous fatty layer.

Take a break, chew on some brocolli and snow peas to ease of the guiltiness of indulgence! While doing so, entice your tastebuds with some braised sea cucumber and mushrooms! Totally way better than the ones I had in Ipoh Hometown restaurant, the sea cucumber has the melt in your mouth feel. Well, we were indeed blessed to be served a premium grade of sea cucumber nicknamed "Ju Por Sum", a expensive variant. We don't nickname it the 9 Big Ghost Banquet for nothing right? =D

If you still haven't feel the cholesterol laden guilt, continue to indulge in Pan Fried Soya Sauce Prawns. The prawns may not be the very large size, but you can taste the passion of the person who cook this dish. Really very home made taste yet full of "wok hei" ala restaurant styled cooking.

Uncle and Aunty had some plain rice in the cooker but we did not touch a single grain at all. Enter the next ghost in the form of Steamed Glutinous Rice with.... pineapples???? Haha, definitely out of the norm. Well, you do get bites of sausages and mushrooms here and there.

Save the best for the last. This "Sek Pan" was very fresh. I was told that Uncle purposely got this fish from the Pasir Pinji market! Upon sufficient steaming, not too much or less, the flesh was firm and came off the bones easily. Yummyyyy~

Oh, the last and 9th ghost was the Fruit Enzyme wine.... which haunts my tastebuds! =p Hehehehhee... so much for the Gou Dai Guai feast. Looking forward for next year's menu!!!!