Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dad's Birthday celebration at Daorae~

Perhaps you might be thinking. What?! Now only Daorae is being reviewed? It's more than half a year! Or nearing a year. Well, the fact that I haven't tried Daorae until now is because it's ain't cheap. And most of my potential makan partners have already tried it at least once with their family or other friends. Well, looks like I have to try it with my family as well.

Upon entering the Tatami dining area, I saw this framed poster! Well, its a Korean BBQ restaurant. What do you expect. At least the side dishes are more easily recognizable compared to the members of Super Junior.

Ginseng, Korea's pride! A whole cabinet on display but definitely not for sale.

There are a few private rooms available. This are can sit around 20 people. Just right for a private function. I noticed there are other smaller tatami rooms too.

Else, head to the public dinning area. Choose to be seated in chairs....

... or on the floor. We were ushered to this tatami area. Guests must remove their shoes to step into this area. Well lit and spacious, there are many tables in this area.

Occupying almost an area of about 6-8 shoplots (3-4 on the left and right, inclusive of the walkway) Daorae is situated on the 1st floor of De Garden at one far corner of the building. In addition to the exorbitant rent, a huge lump were invested in fixing the exhaust vents and the charcoal grill stove. The exhaust system were proven to be very strong to ensure that the smell on your clothes were kept to the bare minimum.

Seaweed Soup. Its slightly different compared to Japanese Miso soup. It has a slight resemblance to the Chinese Choy Kon (Sun Dried Vege) Soup. Not salty at all but it has an appetizing umami trait which is a good kick start to a hearty meal ahead.

Uploaded in a random order, here comes the Macaroni Salad. Lightly dressed with mayonnaise with carrot and cucumber strips. This is a side order you will look forward to if you are not really full from the BBQ meat.

Tamago (Thick Omellete Slices) - a item which is very familiar in Japanese Cuisine. A piece or two would be great. And it provides an extra layer to be wrapped in the lettuce roll later. Read on.
Egg custard (Chawan mushi ala Korea) - velvety smooth - make sure you finish while its still hot.

Pickled.......... erm Cucumber? Seriously no idea. I just had one cube and it was abit hard. Prefer the Kim Chi than this.

Cockles in spicy and sourish sauce. I didn't try this AT ALL! I don't really take this mollusc. Am a bit paranoid of food poisoning if this is not handled/cooked properly.

Potato Balls. Again similar to the Croquette but this paled in comparison because it is already cold and slightly soggy. I mean, fried things should be best eaten fresh upon frying. Else, try a piece or two just to fill up your stomach.

Ermm... Beansprout. Wonder is was blanched or sauteed. But the fragrance of the sesame oil is imminent. The bean sprout is a bit overdone if you are a firm believer that taugeh should be at its juicy best! Else, its a great munch ni between savouring your meat.

Ahhhhh.... KIMCHI. How could a meal in a Korean restaurant be incomplete with this side dish. Cabbage is pickled alongside garlic, chilli, onions and in some version fruits. Unrefined sesame oil and unpasteurized vinegar are highly recommended to be used to preserve this dish and it brings health benefits from the good fatty acids components. Kimchi is said to be an anti oxidant and it lowers the cholesterol level too. Besides that, it is said to promotes good intestinal health from the good bacteria (Forgot those name, please refer to Vitagen advertisement =p). If you can't be bothered by the health facts, just remember this: KIMCHI is a staple food of the Korean community. It's convenient, can multitask in many dishes and can be kept in the fridge for weeks without any chemical preservatives!

It's so unfair, Kimchi got all the limelight in the long paragraph before and nobody care to elaborate much on the pickled eggplants with capsicum. =S

Even the spinach got more recognition. Its the only GREEN and UNPRESERVED one among the banchan(s). Providing the necessary fibre for the meal, we could not help but asked for refill twice for the spinach which was not overdone or too old. The young to the toothless senior citizens would be able to chew it, less to mention the lightly flavoured oil dressing in tossing up this vege side dish

This is when the banchan mostly occupied most of the space on our table. Our table were abit too small. Bear in mind the mains have not made their entries yet.

Furthermore every person is served with dipping sauces for the BBQ meat. There is the salt infused oil. some sweet sauce and fermented bean paste which was very mild spicy.

Without waiting long, the waiter came with a small cauldron of glowing red charcoal to fill in beneath the hot plate. Sometimes I wonder, although the prices of food here is slightly above your normal restaurant, one must bear in mind the operation cost and the decor/renovation. Take for example, there is must be charcoal ready throughout their business hours. And the charcoal must be maintained at the "just right" amber state

Food here are grilled by their own staff. So make sure no impatient smart alecs grabbing a piece directly from the grill as it may not be cooked to the desired level. Let the waiter/staff do the cooking. They will dish up the cooked meat, cut it into bit sized pieces (if necessary) and serve it in a separate bowl for the customers. This is a portion of Woo Sam Kyup (RM45) which is thin slices of marbled beef without marinade....

... and it turns out to this! I choose the plain version for me beef as I would like savour its original and natural flavour. At first, dad thought this was pork as it looked abit like bacon. Tastewise, it was not really flvaoured. The bovine essence was not strongly present. I expected a more robust beefy taste.

This is the Daeji Gal-bi (RM28) which is pork ribs in sweet sauce marinade. Though it says RIBS, but the meat were actually boneless. This dish really gets my thumbs up. The meat was marinaded well from the inside out~ Juicy and yet flavourful, similar to the sweet sauce used in marinading Char Siu. The grilled garlic and caramelized onions is a MUST to be fitted into your lettuce-meat wrap

Dak Gal-bi (RM28)- boneless lean chicken meat marinaded in a spicy sauce. I do not really like this dish as the sauce did not really penetrate into the meat. More like a "make up", in other words, just on surface. Furthermore, I find the chicken meat not firm and was abit.... soft because of over marinade or has the chicken been frozen for quite some time. Hmmm... No wonder the pork occupies nearly 2 pages, the beef 2 pages too while the chicken/lamb and squid were all squeezed into 1 single page in the menu. Looks like their forte is red meat, particularly prime cuts of beef (which don't come cheap, mostly around RM60-75 for premium portions)

Knowing that meat alone wont be able to satiate our hunger during dinner time. We tried a noodle dish called Janchi-Gook-su (RM18). In a nutshell, it is actually wheat noodles simmered in broth with seafood. Nothing really spectacular for this dish but it's a fresh alternative to your Nabe Udon in Japs places.

Soon-dubu-jjigae (RM18) was actually a spicy soup/broth/stew like which has tofu, vegetables and some seafood in it. You can opt for other versions with beef or pork belly. Served in a bowl on top of a stone plate, you are assured of hot and pipping soup for every spoonful. I ordered this dish as I'm always curious on how the characters in Korean series slurp their meal out loud when enjoying this. Comes with a bowl of white rice, I too imitated how the Koreans eat. =p

Yes, this is the bowl of rice which came long with soupy dishes. Upon ala carte ordering, it is charged at RM5 a bowl!!! Yes, this is one of the fact known to me which made me procrastinating to give Daorae a try. At first, I did not noticed the rice since it was nicely served in a stainless steel bowl. I enquired the waiter about the rice which never came along with the soup. The waiter came with the bowl of rice later...

Little did I know that the bowl of rice was on the table all this while. Lets play a short game to test your eyesight. Noticed in the picture the one with the yellow circle was the "untouched, unseen" bowl of rice. If I did not tell you that there were 2 bowls of rice, you would've missed it out too in the beginning, just like me. I mean which so many items on the table, what can you expect rite? =p
All in all, the meal was a fresh experience for us. My whole family, me inclusive, have not tried Korean Cuisine before. Though I would prefer Japanese cuisine (at this rate, I can have a decent meal in Hokkaido), I don't mind coming back to try other stuffs once in a blue moon. During its opening, I read from a couple of blog complementing the good and friendly service but my dining experience was just quite mediocre. We did not even get the complimentary Korean savoury pancake if they feel that "you have ordered exceedingly" beyond their expectation. The total damage was RM151, still not qualified for the pancake mer? Anyway, I hope it was an eye opening experience for dad, at least to certain extend, it was for me =)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

my VAIO~

Make. Believe. Their tagline. Buy. Believe. My tagline. RM3k is not a small amount considering its use for the purchase for a laptop. But it's a price paid mostly for branding and exclusiveness. My first laptop was from the Acer Aspire series in which it was spoilt after 2-3 years of usage. The hinge was broken and later on motherboard fried when nearing the completion of its 3rd year of service to me. I don't think I was a rough master as the Compaq CQ40 served me well past its 3rd year mark but I think its time to get a new one. After all, there is tax exemption of RM3k for purchasing personal computer once in 3 years. I mean, if its time to change, why not? Rather than entering the pockets of corrupted officials.

I just got this Vaio C Series laptop on 8/8, an auspicious day! Upon opening the case, there is the Vaio laptop (of course), battery charger with 3 different pin plugs, spec sheet, warranty guide and a quick start up guide. The "guide" was brief indeed as it shows the parts name and how to power up and backup your lappie. Rest assured that the complete manual is pre loaded in your laptop. =)

I chose the neon green colour. Among the C series, there are white, black, pink, orange and green. There are 2 latest colours of red and blue to the series but somehow its either down to choose between orange and green for its outstanding light reflective index of the material used to produce its body.

A full picture of this laptop. 14 inch screen weighing at approximately 2.4kg with the battery. Well, I chose this over the Acer Time Line X series intel i3 processor 13 inch model which was lighter and thinner @RM1999. But sorry to say, I'm doubtful over Acer's durability. Hence, I decided to try out Sony's Vaio.

Got this from Sony Centre in Kinta City. Comes with an additional warranty and a free Vaio bacpack. And... a pretty salesgirl which gave me very good attention and professional in promoting the products. No, the girl is not a free gift, but part of the service =)

Coming back to the lappie, it has an Intel i5 processor 2.3 GHz, with the turbo boost technology to 2.9GHz when you are multitasking. 4GB of RAM should be enough for you to run Windows 7 Premium with the Aero functions and a few gadgets at the side. 500GB of hard disk should be sufficient, and it has a spindle speed of 7200rpm instead of the usual 5400rpm, bridging the gap between the performance of a laptop to one of a powerhouse desktop.

Other than netbooks and entree level lappies, most of the lappies nowadays would come with a graphic card. my Vaio C series has a built in Intel HD graphics for balanced and normal usage. Once a programme such a games start to load, you can configure for performance priority and thats where the dedicated 1GB of video memory from the ATI Radeon chip kicks in!

Vaio does have its own software which offer updates online. The ASSIST button will initiate a user friendly rescue attempt to backup your system, reformat, etc. Upon pressing, the WEB button also launches a internet browser without booting up Windows. Once Wifi is already activated and in range, you can start surfing the web within 5 seconds! That's almost on par with the boot up time for the Mac! Though only web browsing can be done (no MSN, no adjusting volume, brightness, etc...) its a very useful button to me to like check up football scores the night before when I have a few spare minutes before going to work. Both ASSIST and WEB button can be activated when the system is shutdown. The customizable VAIO button is a shortcut key for your media gallery and other Vaio softwares like Vaio Gate, etc.

It comes with a HD 1.3MP effective pixels webcam, ideal for Skype conversation. Although the slow internet connection at home maybe a deterrence for high definition video calls, but it might come in handy sometimes elsewhere. The webcam also serves its purpose in the hand gesture media selection. Browsing and selecting songs, pictures, videos without the click of the mouse by swiping your hands mid air left and right. It's not really a practical feature, but perhaps they wanna give you a sample on how Playstation Move and Eye Toy works.

The light emitting material is not meant to be misunderstood as glow in the dark material. It only displays its strength when under proper lighting. When the surrounding is dark, something else will take on the centre stage, just like the picture below.

Yup, the illuminated keyboard strikes out when the surrounding is dark. The light sensor triggers the backlit keyboard in dim conditions like a typical setting in a coffee house. I might wanna disable the function if I'm running on battery. The 6 cell battery should last you around 2-3 hours of usage unless you are running power draining programs.

So there is it, a brief but comprehensive review on my new laptop. Why not a Mac Book Air with that price? Perhaps I want something exclusive. Everybody else owns an Iphone or Macbook in one way or another. Yeah, I'm glad to be a proud owner of something sharp in colour. So far so good with my new toy, Vaio C series =)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chocolate Galore

Bought this for a surprise gift for dad. A compensation for him being left alone at home for 3 days 2 nights as me and mom went to visit my aunty in KL and proceeded to Genting. TOBLERONE Fruit and Nut 400g is indeed a rare sight. Despite the price tag of RM40.90, I decided to give dad a treat. It may not be worth that price since the plain milk choc and white choc bar of 400g cost less than RM30. For the exclusivity, I think its worth a try... Still have not tried it yet. Hopefully its good. =)

The whole collection of chocolates in my house now. The Old Jamaica Rum and Raisin cost me RM19.90 now. Is really overpriced! A year or two ago, I got it for RM15.90 only. The cravings is too great to be satiated. Have to fork up a few more bucks to have a taste of alcoholic cocoa taste melting inside your mouth. And I miss Bounty too!!! Got a small bar at RM6 - 3 small pieces. Too bad, no Milky Way sold. Hoping that Jun Yen and Joanne will bring me some nice chocs from Australia when they are back end of this year =)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fong Lye, Gardens, Midvalley

Just before boarding the train back to Ipoh, I manage to squeeze in time for a meal in MV. Since aunty is tagging along, I thought of giving her a treat. Well, there are not many Chinese food available. Well it has to be xiao long baos.... or.... Fong Lye. Since I haven't try the latter, I decided to give it a shot!

Taiwan Deep Fried Chicken (RM9.30). Categorized under the appetizer section in the menu, I thought this will be a good munch while waiting for our mains. Gosh, I was totally wrong as the portion were enough to be bits and bites for almost 5 people! The portion is indeed generous and with a bowl of rice, it could simply feed 2 small eaters. Despite using chicken breast, the meat was absolutely succulent and juicy. The thin flour coating was well enhanced with a slight peppery and aromatic taste which surely will tickle your tastebuds and ask for more. We kept on crunching on the crispy exterior as the moist meat could have filled a considerable amount in your stomach.

Mistake #2. This again is not an appetizer but more of a light meal on itself. Taiwan Glutinous Rice Sausage (RM9.30). In the Chinese name, its called "Tai Cheong Bao Sai Cheong" literally translated into Big Sausage Wrap Small Sausage. The "smaller sausage" was a slightly different type of Taiwan sausage. Usually sausages incorporate grinded meat and fats but the version here uses shredded lean meat similar from the chunks of bak kut teh. Not really well marinaded with the condiments like five spice powder, the sausage is not too appetizing to my liking. The "bigger sausage" is actually glutinous rice filled inside a sausage skin. Lightly stuffed with preserved vegetables, the glutinous rice is passable but not moist and soft enough. If my tastebuds serves me accurately, the meat floss used is not from chicken nor pork, but from dried shrimps. You can taste the faint "fishy" smell, hence I guess the floss must be from the sea instead of poultry derivatives.

Taiwanese Pig Intestines Mee Sua (RM11.80). Mee Sua served in a starchy gravy along side slightly chewy pig intestines. I heard its a common dish in Taiwan but the famous Shilin Snacks franchise kiosk nationwide diluted its authenticity by substituting pork intestines with shredded chicken and oysters. Thank goodness for Fong Lye!

Set meals are reasonably priced here. Well, it doesn't come cheap but for the ambiance and variety of stuffs in the set, its worth it. This is the Minced Meat Sauce Noodle Set (RM17.80). A bowl of fine pan mee like noodles is doused with a thick and meaty sauce. Just like spaghetti Chinese-fied. You can find cubes of beancurd among the minced meat. Both were stewed until it locks the flavours of the sauce. The julienned cucumbers was there to counter the saltiness of the sauce. Towards the end, the sauce is abit overpowering when you are running low on noodles.

Every set meal will come with a platter with sides of seasoned jellyfish, seasoned bean curd salad and fried fritter. The seasoned jellyfish is crunchy and really did its part well in kick starting taste buds. The middle appetizer is actually tau kua mixed with wood fungus and shredded chicken and cabbage. The fried fritter contains a filling similar to a creme style of corn, best eaten upon serving as the cold filling will cause the fritter to be soggy. Besides these, you get a serving of doubled boiled soup. The soup has a full bodied aroma although the ingredients seems simple - "fun kok", red dates and pork.

I had the Stewed Beef in Hot Pot Set (RM19.80) The beef cuts are tender and succulent with good ratio of lean meat and tendon. The jelly like tendon is the best part and it really melts in your mouth. Another proof the stew is very well done is the radish and carrots also can easily melt in your mouth. The gravy is hearty and well flavoured with the essence/stock from the beef itself. Goes along very well with the white rice. I'm very satisfied with the food here. Now, the decision on where to dine in Midvalley when I drop by KL is even tougher with an addition of worthy option in the name of Fong Lye. =D