Saturday, June 25, 2011

Secret Recipe's Lamb Shank - noteworthy of praise, or otherwise?

This dish carries the Best Lamb Stew Award 2001”. Does it justify the title. I was and always will be a skeptic on franchised chain stores. Besides fast food, I always doubt the quality control of the food when it comes to franchising. Different shops will have a variance in taste, most of the time, intentionally occur during preparation of food. at RM24.90, the portion is commendable. The slight drawback would be the 20 mins wait for this dish! And upon the first bite, the meat was just 'lukewarm'. Perhaps the thawing was not done properly or food reheated using microwave tasted just like this! Even the mashed potato and the gravy are cold. Things could have been much better if the staffs were passionate about serving the best possible to the customers. If the lamb shank is not properly prepared/reheated yet, then don't scoop the mash potato on the plate so fast! Now this is what I mentioned earlier, the problem about franchise. Sigh...

This is the Chicken Cordon Bleu. I wondered if they changed the recipe to it. The chicken fillet looks so much browner compared to the picture. If I'm not mistaken, few years back, I remember eating one which is breaded and golden brown, just like the appearance of a typical Chicken Maryland. Could it be they have altered the coating or its way past the mark the oil used for frying should be changed? Tastewise, still passable, the chicken meat is tender with generous amount of cheese oozing out. Ham is used in the version here, which I prefer to sausage. Another noteworthy one is Moven Peak - their portion is humongous with creamy Cabonara-like gravy! deadly!

This is a snapshot of my all time favourite Chocolate Indulgence. Alternating layers of white chocolate and dark chocolate cream on dark chocolate sponge base coated in velvety smooth melted chocolate finish! Ok, to be fair, SR still serves good cakes!

I gave the benefit of the doubt to the Cake Of The Month. They are currently promoting (this was in May) the Chocolate Berry Cheesecake! Raspberry jam is glazed on the surface as well as in the middle of the two layers of cream cheese! The thin layer of chocolate on the top escalated the richness of this cake. Portion of this slice is way smaller compared to those cake which incorporate a lot of cream in it. But its totally satisfying and comforting! Perhaps, the reason we head to Secret Recipe should just best maintained as "cakes only". =)

Tong Shui Kai - when hunger pangs strikes!

Tong Shui Kai has never been my top picks for a light/late night meal. Firstly the jaga kereta nuisance really pisses me off. Before you even start eating, your car "feeds" for RM1 at least. Secondly, unless you are a regular, you wouldn't know which shop serves the better/best dessert or noodles. I observed a general repetition of this pattern: wantan mee, drinks stall, chee cheong fun/ curry mee, fried noodles, drinks stall, wan tan mee. Clusters of these stalls form a "zone" and bear in mind that you are not allowed to order from the wantan mee from another zone to be bought over to your place. If the tables nearby your favourite wantan mee stall is full, tough luck, go sit in another zone and hope the other wantan mee stall can satisfy your cravings. This is another reason I do not fancy eating here as there is no full liberty of choice! What if my preferred drinks stall is in this zone and my fave noodles stall is somewhere further away?

But should you be okay with the few annoyance mentioned, then let's dig into what Tong Shui Kai has to offer. The repeating patterns of drink stalls do not have a single one which stands out. Each promising you wide selection of hot and cold desserts. I would not go for Coca Cola if I were you. Choose from the Peanut Paste Dessert, Red Bean, Pak Kor Yee Mai, Momo Cha Cha, Lin Chee Kang, Ais Kacang and their Mixed Fruit Ice (fondly known as Chap Gor Bing), just to name a few. I had the Mixed Fruit Ice with a scoop of Ice Cream (RM4). You get generous portions of watermelons and honeydew melon balls, mangoes, jackfruit strips, lychees coupled with peanuts for the extra crunch. The rose syrup normally used in Ais Kacang provided an extra fruity kick to this thirst quenching dessert. Look at the contrasting colour hues. Don't you wanna dig into it too? =)

Some friends ordered the Liew Fun in curry soup. Wow, look at that layer of curry oil. Tempting isn't it. But far from deadly though for those who have an affinity towards spicy stuffs. One friend had his Chee Cheong Fun fix. You can only find the winning combination of curry+mushroom gravy in Ipoh! Yes, nowhere else will have the curry pig skin and the minced pork mushroom sauce combination for you Chee Cheong Fun. Stalls out of Ipoh or Perak would have their own interpretation of having the thick black sweet sauce instead of the dark red "tim cheung" fondly drizzled in the Ipoh version. No compromise when it comes to pork skin curry and mushroom gravy! RaaaaRRwRrssS!

This time around, I managed to try the beef noodles which some people claimed to be quite tasty. For RM4 a bowl with noodles, you get some meat and tripes. Hmm... I was digging around for the tongue part, which is my fave. The beef is tender and the soup is hearty from the bovine goodness but still lacked some kick. The beef balls are 50 cents per unit and they are far from expectation. The bounciness is there but lacked some characteristic beefy aroma. The version here paled into comparison compared to Restoran Hollywood in Canning Garden. The soup from the Canning Garden stall is much more robust with some faint hints of Chinese herbs such as red dates and white raddish (lobak). The breakdown of the body parts of the cow is much evenly distributed having more tendons and tongues! yummy! To summarise my food experience in Tong Shui Kai, just another row of food stalls, but just be there for the hype if your friends from elsewhere insist to have a look =)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stiawan Church Camp......... and a food trail

Took 3 days off work to attend a church camp in Stiawan during the mid term school holidays. I couldn't recall when was the last time I went to Stiawan. However I do have vivid recollections of me going to Teluk Batik when I was a kid. More than 15 years later, I guess I wouldn't have taken a dip into the water ever again. Be it the pollution and/or jellyfish scare. Well, I think there is more plastic bags/litter than jellyfish though =p

Stiawan famous dish - Red Wine Chicken. Couple it with their Mi Sua, which is also a local product. They are many shop which offer this Foo Chow's prideful dish. But do to transportation constraint, I only managed to try the one opposite Flamingo Hotel. Personally I don't really dig into this dish. At least for this stall. Its really a lackluster effort using frozen chicken. For 3 bowls on my table, 3 bowls also used the drumstick!! The red wine is not potent enough to mask the frozen stench of the chicken. Tastewise, I find the red wine is actually something similar to fermented bean paste. Hmm.... this version failed big time. My friend who is supposed to be a local recommended this shop summore. Watlar, total disappointment! Where is the muk yi (wood ear fungus) in my bowl of bloody soupy mi sua???

Ok, so Red Wine Mi Sua is a definitely NOT my cup of tea. Lets see how the famous cendol in front of the Indian temple fare. You can see flocks of customers filling up the limited seats, hence many will opt to bungkus.

But nothing beats the experience to savour it first hand upon preparation. The cendol is plump and have the right texture. Slurps down your throat well. Coupled with the kidney beans and glutinous rice, you will get something to bite on as the sugary gula melaka and coconut milk cools you down on a hot day! Simple as it seems, I dare not say its the clear cut best, but indeed a step above the rest!

There! See how famous JAMES CENDOL is! That's the Royal Highness Sultan of Perak in some banquet/open house event!

And something which made my food hunt satisfying. If nothing else in Stiawan captures your heart, I bet this biscuit will do the trick. Its called Kong Biang, an unleavened pastry baked in a clay oven just like how Naan/Hong Peah are made! I heard that it has different fillings but most of it are savoury.

My friend bought the one with chopped onions! Totally addictive stuff! Best eaten fresh and while its hot, the pastry was cracklingggg and damn! Its DAMN GOOD! I wished I could try the one with pork filling, something like Char Siu. Wow, that would be heavenly!!!! I wanted to buy some back on the last day but we did not make any stop along shops which sell this pastry. Too bad... =(

There goes the food trail.... These are some snapshot from the Camp. Beach games @ Teluk Batik. Trust me, the water and beach is damn dirty....

The worship team during sessions. I think we will be publishing our second album soon. Working on the songs and more than halfway there! =)

Went exploring Lumut and saw this interesting burger stall. I wonder any jampi are used. Serbuk cili Setan Merah???? LOL....

Ah.... last but not least. The products from the sea. Satay fish, Satay cuttlefish, Dried cuttlefish rolls, sheets, wateva, Satay jellyfish. Banyaknye jenis. Don't get mislead by the packaging size. After all its just a SHEET of cuttlefish. Though its written 120g, the packet of sugar and salt hidden beneath the sheets of cuttlefish contributed to a significant amount to the packing weight, not the mention the aluminum packaging and the plastic casing. The "loot" from the picture is almost RM50! and gone within 2 nights back home!

There, if I were to visit Stiawan/Lumut again, I will definitely hunt for the Kong Biang again. AND get a local friend to bring us to Kampung Koh for seafood. You need a local, or somebody who speaks Mandarin. Less you wanna get overcharged for the food. Hehe.... Till then, have a great Friday ahead!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

INDULGENCE.... and my first Macaron experience

Procrastination has affected my blogging qualities recently. Be prepared for a photo blog posting this time as I could not recall much details of every item. But this post promise you a myriad of items, especially a dessert spree at the end. I proudly present to you.... INDULGENCE!

Without further delay, let's move straight into the food (in random order). This is their cabonara - served with calamari and chicken ham and olives. The portion is kinda big but I did not manage to try it. Or put it this way, I'm NOT THAT close with everybody in my table to prick into his/her food, especially HER food, and especially those who are higher ranking than me. =p

This is the Wild Mushroom soup. It is very thick indeed. Served in a big coffee cup, the girls did not manage to finish up this RM15 per bowl of soup!

Another snap shot of the complimentary bread. Coarse airhole but it gave a good bite when served warm and fresh on our tables with the butter.

Pretty ladies with their iced coffee. Pretty chicks get free treats easily huh? Just joking.

For the main coarse, one female colleague ordered the lamb tenderloin rack! Wow!!! I wondered if she saw that coming, I mean, the need to cast aside the feminine side temporarily to enjoy every scrap of meat from the bone. The portion may look abit dainty, but the sides of wedges, poached vegetables will get your stomach filled in no time.

I had the Grain Fed Beef Tenderloin, which is quite similar with the lamb rack in terms of way of cooking and accompanying sides. I requested my tenderloin to be medium done as I do not fancy medium rare. The surface of the meat is well seared, resulting to an impermeable layer which lock the moisture inside so the meat maintained to be juicy inside. I have to commend the ability to prepare it according to the customer's preference as I enjoy sinking my teeth to the meat, just like an Earth's core. Hard on the outside and towards the centre which is slightly raw, its like melting in your mouth.

One of my male colleagues ordered the Chicken Roulade. The version in Indulgence is creatively served in a chopping board. Chicken thigh meat is skewered on a chopstick alternately with potatoes and tomatoes. And as if they are worried you are not full, they even serve you another serving of roasted potatoes on the side and a bowl of greens for good measure! The tangy sauce (supposed to be a derivative of concentrated orange juice) is meant for the salad more than the meat itself.... I think.

Some roasted spring chicken. Got feedback bout the taste being a little "sou" (milky). Well, I kinda expected the way of cooking to be "hostile" to tastebuds which are acquainted with chinese cooking. Taste aside, I think all of us agree that the presentation is indeed creative and artistic, totally live up the the title of one of the best "fine dining selection in Ipoh".

Seriously, for Ipoh, it ranks at the top. Though some may argue that its still in the baby steps of fine dining cuisines, probably in the league of SEMI fine dining compared to the top notches ferom KL and Penang. This is some breaded fish fillets. 3 small pieces. But too many roasted potatoes were served along it. 6 pieces of potatoes. If we are paying nearly RM50 for a main course, please give us our money's worth la

And as I promised, the DESSERT SPREE! The first item to kick start the heaven for the sweet toothed is the Tiramisu (RM14). The Tiramisu here is light and not overly creamy - a good sign that Mascarpone Cheese is used. The sponge layer is thoroughly soaked with expresso but no hint of liquor is spotted since Indulgence is HALAL pork free. I've still yet to taste a Tiramisu worthy enough. Or perhaps its still my personal preference of Italianese's version? Hmmm...

Chocolate tart with full raspberry on top! I had one piece in a single bit! The berry bursted into a very fruity sensation to contrast the rich chocolatey filling! The desserts here are great, except for the price. Imagine rolling a RM5 note, stuff in your mouth and swallow it at one go. =p

This is the Creme Brulee Cheese Tart. Strawberries not included. =p Nothing really special. Just order for fun so reach the quota of amount boss pledged to treat us.

This is the.............. dunno wat cheesecake already. I think its Lemon cheesecake. But I remember it has a double digit price tag. =p

Macarons!!! Priced at RM6.50 each (!!!!). Yes, almost doubled the price of those sold in famous bakeries in KL (like Levain...) I had the Pistachio, Ghana Chocolate and Lemon. Oh, this is my first time having Macarons. Yes, finally the wait is over, without needing to travel far nor fork out a single cent. Warned by friends that it is very sweet, I agree to that. And its best eaten with a cup of tea, preferably unsweetened and without creamer. Good Macarons should have a light and thin shell which breaks easily. I have no benchmark to compare as this is my first Macaron treat. So take it as a pass until I tried better ones in KL.

The Creme Brulee. You might wonder Egg Custard only ma, go Thean Chun and eat la! Well, its different. In Than Chun its called "Dun Dan". In Indulgence its called Creme Brulee. Different wan. You dabao egg custard over to Indulgence and eat, automatically it will be called Creme Brulee. Get the jist? =p

This is one of the many Chocolate Brownies available. I think my colleagues went for something more conventional, just plain chocolate brownies, though there are many derivatives such as Apple Cinnamon, Figs and Dates, etc. Brownies is just passable, abit dried up. I prefer those doused with melted chocolate to give in the moisture.

Macarons in all glory on display! The limited flavours still lie inferior compared to the myriad of colours you see from the shelves of Levain.

Some strawberry shortcake???

Many types of cookies, chocolates and muffins available too to accompany your favourite afternoon cuppa.

The wine cabinet.

Decors on display


This is an unfinished post. Bear with it. I will finish up elaborating on the last few pictures. I will post this up temporarily without any colours/fonts highlights. Well, with all those photos, you would've found your self indulgence in Indulgence rite? Needless for my text. =)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Euro House, a place to chill to end a lousy week at work perhaps?

This is the night where I lay my hands (literally) on the Xbox Kinect for the first time! Well, I thought I could try the Dance Central game but they only had the basic sports bundled games. Okay, lets move on to the food and atmosphere in Euro House.

Euro House is at the premise formerly occupied by Breeze Cafe, opposite Dewan Chin Woo, near Methodist Girl School and behind Ritz Kowloon Hotel. Well, this is blog post will have photos from 3 cameras! As you notice the vast difference in photo quality between 2 DSLRs and my puny Nikon digital camera.

We arrived in here shortly before 7pm whereby there were only a few tables being occupied. You may opt to choose to sit in the bar counter, squarish dining tables with normal height, tables with abnormal height (which we did, with the chairs with higher legs) or laze cosily at the cushioned chairs for those in bigger groups.

Happy Hour is from 5-9pm daily, including weekends. I did not enquire about the validity on public holidays/weekends but it's good news for the working strata to unwind on a Friday evening (provided you have a five day job!). Draft beer (only Carlsberg) is priced at RM8 per glass (half pint) and RM16 for a full pint. Well, why bother taking a full pint? Split it into 2 rounds so that your beer is always chilled, unless you wanna brag about how macho you are taking a gigantic glass. Jug is at RM36 and a whole tower is RM70. There is also Stouts from RM10 per glass. German lager beers are also available.

Before we review the food, I shall applaud the addition of a new DSLR owner in our clan. Yes, the previous 2 photos were taken with her camera And this photo was taken with my new Nikon camera. Sad huh? o.O

I decided to grab Evonne's photos rather than using mine. This is one of the appetizers ordered. Grilled Enoki with Bacon! Yes, BACON! The substantial ingredient popularised by the carnivorous freaks from EpicMealTime (google them or watch them in Youtube). The smoky aroma of bacon coupled with the chewy mouthfeel from the Enoki mushrooms will kick start your appetite.... and also makes a good partnership with the booze!

Next we had the Quasidallas. Quasidalla is actually a tortilla flatbread encasing fillings like cheese (compulsory) and other ingredients like tomatoes, onions and sour cream. Some version does include salsa and avocado. The one in Euro House is fine tuned to suit local tastebuds - being a simpler version which is similar to the Twister Wrap from KFC. It is toasted to have a crispy skin and with the melted cheese oozing out. A light snack and thumbs up to accompany your beer!

Having the sudden explainable craving for smoked salmon, we are spoilt to choose between the salad or the pasta. Ok, finally we decided to give the Smoked Salmon Pasta with Dill Herbs a shot. The portion is not very big, but they are quite generous with the salmon. The pasta is lightly tossed in oil and herbs. It's abit bland on its own but went well with the salmon which was abit on the salty and smoky side if eaten by itself

On the other hand, the Cabonara with Bacon is a very rich and creamy pasta. Maybe I'm budak kampung, but this is the first time having a Cabonara with the raw eggs served separately and unmixed. Yes, you will need to mix it on your own. Its abit geli-ish to some as some might dislike the smell from the raw eggs. Besides that, its also a food safety concern as eggs are sensitive food and bacteria can grow rapidly on the nutrient rich content. Well, if the cream cheese sauce is hot enough, it would be okay by the time the egg is mixed in to get a partially cooked egg-cream-cheese emulsion. If you have overcame the phobia of eating "raw eggs", then you will enjoy this dish with bacon bits and mushrooms which are so tantilizing to the tastebuds! Though the portion is not that big, its advisable not to whack a whole plate of Cabonara on your own. =p

Besides appetizers and pastas, there also serve chops and steaks but with limited choices. We chose the Chicken Chop with Parmesan Cheese but it came out to be not palatable at all. Thats the only flaw of the night, quite a significant one though. The chicken meat have an unbearable stench and it must have been frozen for quite some time. I am very particular on the freshness of meat used as each time I tasted frozen meat, it will make me lose my appetite and wanna puke. Presentation wise, its above satisfactory with mashed potatoes and boiled vegetables - cauliflower, broccoli and carrots with a good brown sauce. Encrusting it with baked/partially melted & cumbly parmesan cheese is creative. Well, if only they did not compromise with the freshness of meat used...

Food wise, I find it to be slightly better than Berlin Beer House. On my second visit with my family, I again ordered the Quasidalla and Enoki with Bacon. Together with a platter of Lamb Cuts, my parents nod in agreement the light food here is not bad.

Oh, finally, a shot from my own camera in which I can boast about its quality! =) The half pint glass and the full pint glass of beer...

The entrance of Euro House. On my second visit tonight, surprisingly there were alot of family having their meals here. Perhaps its a weekend as during weekdays (my 1st visit on a Friday evening) there were more working adults. I'm sure gonna return in the future to chill out with my friends. Oh, and did I mention that the waitress here is kinda cun? The girl next door type.... Awwwww.... ♥~