Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fai Kee Fish Head Noodles & Hawker Gems at Medan Selera Stadium

Fai Kee is a familiar name when it comes to fish head noodles. Besides the outlet in Greentown, they are operating a branch in Medan Selera Stadium for breakfast until lunch period. For RM6.00 you get fish head in a sourish and piquant broth flavoured with preserved vegetables, tomatoes, sour plum and ginger. Somehow the version in Ipoh has mimicked the KLites way of cooking by incorporating evaporated milk into the broth, resulting into a slightly milkier and murkier broth.

Besides fish head beehoon, they also can whip up a tummy warming bowl of congee. They are various type of congee namely pork with century egg, pork with mixed offal, fish slices, etc. The one in this photo is the Mixed Pig Offal Congee. (loosely translation of Chu Chap Chuk) I made a mistake placing order for this as the only attractive part about this congee is the fried small intestines. Yes, I do not really take pork liver, kidney, lungs, coagulated pig’s blood, etc.

Next, we have the stadium tau fu far which has a myriad of choices – namely the honeydew soya milk, black soya milk, tau fu far with glutinous rice ball. The tau fu far is still slightly inferior when compared with Funny Mountain, perhaps the latter scored in terms of the fragrant sugar syrup.

Besides all this, the other row houses Seng Loong fried noodles, which I don’t really fancy it because he only give me one(1) piece of prawn on my whole plate of RM3.50 fried noodles!!!. Can u imagine that? My friend who ate fried noodles got 2 pieces but smaller sized prawn. Lousy fella! Boycott!!!!

The mamak stall nearby Seng Loong and the famous Min Chee Wan Tan mee also serves decent roti canai if you can endure the wait of about at least 10 minutes? The roti canai dough is prepared and given a good work out creating thin and light and crispy roti canai! Top it up with some Ais Kacang perhaps for a good lunch. This would be a good place for a lunch if you are tired of the chap fan nearby you office! =)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Indulgence Restaurant and Living, Ipoh

I'm suddenly running out of new spots to explore in Ipoh. Having some craving for good Tiramisu and the coincidence of spotting some old photos in my camera, I realized these photos have not been up yet. This post will be about an afternoon tea in Indulgence Restaurant and Living, Ipoh.

Yes, I have blogged about this place and its few main course before during my boss's treat for appreciation of the Annual Dinner Committee last year. And this time, this post will be featuring items which I pay using my own money instead. So happen I remembered on that afternoon, the main dining area was closed because somebody booked that place for some private wedding function.

Indulgence is one of the pioneer in "fine dining" in Ipoh. But for those who have really tried or read about reviews on real fine dining in KL, Indulgence would most probably categorized as semi-fine dining only at most. Sidetracking a bit, few days ago, a Director of an food and beverage group emailed me to enquire about Ipohian preference/acceptability over casual dining and wine bar. I'm deeply honoured that after years of blogging, simple acts of contacting me really motivates me to further embark on this gastronomical journey. Perhaps, he will invite me to do a private food tasting/soft launch review of this place? =)

Ok lets come back to the 2nd review of Indulgence. To be honest, I do not really like coming to places like this. Especially when I'm driving just a Saga. Feels inferior. Nevertheless, just wanna bring my parents to experience what is the hype about Indulgence is all about. Just once maybe. JUST ONCE only.

And afternoon tea would be cheaper. At least I will be rest assured the bill would be definitely below RM100. Beverages here mostly range from RM6-RM10. The photo above features the Iced Coffee and Hot  Latte. Both average in terms of looks and taste. Looks like cup and saucer used in mamak outlets right? :p

This is the Hot Lemon Tea served with brown sugar. Hmm... fine dining? More like casual dining to me in terms of how they serve their beverages. I find Bread, Expresso, Dessert (B.E.D.) triumphs in their hot beverages presentation in terms of coffee art. Maybe I dont drive a Mercedes, BMW, Audi... and my mom don't carry an LV handbag, my dad don't look like a rich Datuk, so no coffee art for me lar? >.<  This explains why I don't like going to these places. Mostly double standard service.

Tiramisu (RM16 if I'm not mistaken) here is abit over rated. They proudly said they used mascarpon cheese but somehow I felt that the whole Tiramisu is a mess and the espresso used to dip the sponge fingers is more like long black to me. Yes, abit too watery. You can see water dripping out of the layers. The cheese used is light but somehow it didnt complemented the other ingredients well. In simple, its a bit "dilute/too light" in taste and will not leave a fond memory in your tastebud. I've tasted way better ones elswhere. The one worth mentioning is the one from Italianese in KL. My colleagues said the one in Spaghetti Sweet Tea Cafe (SSTC) and the previous ItaliaMia (before the mat salleh chef sold off the shop) are noteworthy ones in Ipoh.

This is a slice of Moist Chocolate Cake. Nothing really special. The cocoa used didnt give chocolate lovers they satisfaction they are craving for. I was expecting something richer and more potent instead.

This is the Butter Bread Pudding. A personal favourite of mine. Not many cafes in Ipoh serve this. Prior to serving, it is reheated thus giving a warm and moist centre. Best eaten with some vanilla sauce to ensure every mouthful is lightly creamy and chocolatey as well.

Another chocolate affair in my list. They serve different brownies (mostly ranging at average RM7 per slice) - This one is the one with Apple Cinnamon Brownies. Caramelized apples with the significant presence of cinnamon really gave the conventional brownies its own distinctive taste. I would anytime prefer this than the monotonous tasting Moist Chocolate Cake.

Oh, this is a very special pastry/bread/cake. Priced at RM5/piece, if I'm not mistaken, its called a "Tea Cake". Tastewise, its a bit bland, but the texture is indeed unique. Its like a cross between the Chinese Cruellers (Yau Char Guai) and sourdough bread. In simple, its a bit chewy (light QQ mouthfeel) but has quite dry crumbs. I do not really fancy it but it was indeed something out of the ordinary. Oh yeah, by now, you would have noticed that strawberries are over used as decorative topping here...

Hence I would like to dedicate the Chocolate Eclair (no signs of strawberries here) picture to wish one of my blog reader a Blessed Birthday!! Yes, this tiny morsel is 100% chocolatey from the inside out. The choux pastry, which is light with a crisp has a hollow centre pumped with chocolate custard filling and further topped with sugar glazed and chocolate drizzle. There are some chocolate coated puffs to make this dessert most pleasing to any chocolate lovers/sweet tooth.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Aroi, Thai Steamboat, Bercham

Talk about steamboat, I'm not sure how many of you remember Aroi in Bercham. (Aroi means "delicious" in Thai) Yes, this is one of the leaders in steamboat before MovenPeak, Good Times, 2+1 was even born. I remember patronizing Aroi when I was still in primary school. And if I'm not mistaken, it will be their 20th year in business next year. Looking back at the individual hot pot and the complimentary egg on the egg stand really brings back fond memories.

Things hasn't changed much, except for the prices obviously which has seen to have taken significant increase. Well over a span of a decade, I think its okay since I last came here. But service wise, there was also a significant increase.... AN INCREASE OF SNOBBISHNESS! The lady boss is always having his butt stick to the chair when I need help with adjusting the level of the flame and showed me an ignorant "black face". The young boy also showed a face when we were placing our orders, which invites a big tight slap on his face. It somehow spoil the mood of dining for the night. Sorry, I do not need condiments like garlic, birds eye chilli, chilli sauce and the nutty sesame oil paste anymore. Their attitude towards serving customer already left a SOUR DINING EXPERIENCE!

I will give an unbiased review on the food quality and taste and my judgement wont be affected by their horrific service (hopefully). This is their Special Choice (RM26.80 per serving) - which normally can feed 1 big eater. Seems pricey but you really get back your worth of food - 4 fresh tiger prawns, clams, cockles, 3 fish slices (I believe its snapper, as long as its NOT Dory, then I'm cool with it), some squid, some brown cuttlefish, a piece of mussel, fish maw and an identified premium abalone lookalike-clam. Yes, you get REAL meat instead of just frozen meatballs. But they do throw in a piece or two of fishballs, meatballs, enoki, and fishcake roll to ensure you are full.

Here is a video showing how fresh the tiger prawns are! They are still alive and kicking from your plate to the hotpot! You can choose between their signature Tom Yam paste soup base or a clear broth with garlic oil.

This is the Special Fried Mix Stuff (RM15.50) which comes with 2 tiger prawns, 2 pieces of pandan chicken, a piece each of fried dumpling, friend wantan, beanskin cracker, assorted yong tau fu like stuffed eggplant, stuffed long beans, acar and stuffed tau fu pok. Basically the whole plate is ready to eat without cooking it in the pot. There is another version which pairs this palate with a serving of pineapple fried rice. That combo is priced at RM20.50. Unless you are starving, I suggest you do without the rice as 1 serving of noodles is complimentary for every person dining (rather than every set ordered)

This is the Fried Mix Stuff Set (RM8). Similar to the photo above minus the 2 fried tiger prawns, pandan chicken and acar, making this palate totally similar to what you will pick in a Yong Tau Fu stall. The assorted stuffs in general are not bad and I love their fried oval dumplings and fried wantan a lot!

They have side orders/ala carte items too in the menu. Yes, if the personal sets doesn't seem to attract you, you might wanna make and match and pick those favourite items of yours. Else, you can top up a serving of lamb (RM7.50 for small serving if I remembered correctly)

3 of us seems not full. Or we were just like hungry ghosts on the prowl on a raining Friday evening. After all, its over a working week, we tend to over order.... We had another set to be shared - the Chicken Set (11.50) which has boneless chicken thigh, some fish balls, meat balls, stuffed taufu, enoki mushroom and greens.

 This 2 photos are grabbed from my FB friend Angeline's account. (Blogger etiquette to give credit to the owner of the photos if they are not yours) You can have a rough idea of the price of the side items and the personal sets.

So, will buffet steamboat your cup of tea or ala carte ones? I really do miss the non-eat-all-you-can style which I had in my childhood days - I remember one in Fair Park, one in old town area (same row with Kong Heng) and Kao Lee steamboat. So for Aroi being the unique concept ones in the business, I would say their food quality is fresh and worthy ingredients - though some might argue that with this price, one can opt for buffet eat all you can type (The bill came to RM86 for 3 person). Except for the price issue and the unfriendly or rather COCKY service, you can give Aroi a try.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sushi Zento, Festival Walk. Ipoh

Be warned, Japanese cuisine F&B proprietors, there is a new kid in town! Sushi Zento was just opened on 1st November in Festival Walk, the colourful row of shops in Bandar Medan Ipoh. This new outlet will send shivers to the spine to once dominating famous names like Akamomiji, Kizuna and the latest addition Hokkaido. I'm not sure about you, but have you ever wondering why Japanese restaurants like to mushroom around this area? o.O As mentioned in my previous blog posts, I think there are nearly 10 Japanese restaurants around the vicinity of 2km radius >.<

Well, what makes Sushi Zento different from the rest? I was surprised to be greeted by a kaiten belt as I expected this to be a prime/premier Japanese restaurant from its exterior decor. After flipping through the menu, I found out that they are under the same management as Azuma, which I tried in Queensbay Mall, Penang.

 A Sushi Bar with the display of their freshest sashimi - This is the sashimi chef at work. Interior is really cosy with all the tables are somehow one way or another by the side of the conveyor belt.

The interior decor - Staff were polite and friendly and very attentive indeed. Before I move on to review their food, I must commend their attentive service and they kept on refilling my tea from time to time despite the crowd was building up. Learn that, Sushi King! Yes, the place was full by 7pm+ as this place could accomodate around at the most.... say 30 tables?

 I decided to go with the Sashimi To Tempura Set (RM42) because I can try two of their core areas at one go! There are other cheaper sets like Chicken Teriyaka, Grilled Mackarel which  ranges from RM22 but can go up to RM60 for premium grilled cod and unagi sets. Each set comes with a salad, chawanmushi, fruits, rice, and miso soup. I must make special mention on the rice, its really sticky & starchy Japanese rice and those normal white rice in Chinese restaurant! I feel they really do mean business in giving you as authentic ingredients as possible here.

The sashimi is uber fresh! The last time I ate so fresh sashimi was during Oh!Sushi opening week. The Japanese restaurants in Ipoh couldn't really match it! The fish slices did its chemistry upon touching your tongue and with some light mouth work, you can feel it melting in your mouth without any icy bits or deterioration to their texture. 3 pieces each of Salmon, White Tuna and Red Tuna. From this sample palate, I give an A for their sashimi skills and freshness/quality as well.

The tempura also fared quite well. Lightly battered and evenly coated, it is both presentable and also tasty. The dipping broth is a bit salty to my liking but that's not a big issue as both the vegetables and prawns have given their testimonial over this area! Very good!

 This is the Kyushu Ramen (RM18)- belly pork slices served with hand made noodles in a cloudy miso based broth with stewed egg (RM2.50 on ala carte order), fish cake, seaweed and vegetables.The noodles are springy but the soup is not really to my liking, abit too murky and salty.

Did I mention pork? Yeshhh... Finally, a Japanese restaurant which serves pork! Sometimes I'm really disappointed to hear a new Japanese restaurant opened but its still pork-free. Come one, it takes more than being pork free to attract the Muslim customers. You need to be Halal certified and trust me, that was one my job scope to maintain a Halal certification and system, its a real pain in the ass sometimes. Sometimes, I really feel that you just focus on your core customers and have a wide array of food options (pork!) to get that real authentic feel.

And I have been deprived of having real belly pork in my Ramen. I'm sick of just choosing between Tempura or Beef Udon/Ramen. So, thank goodness Sushi Zento has came to their senses to give us pure Japanese cuisine and satisfy our pork cravings! Look at the translucent fatty layer, isn't it............ lovely?

With pork in the menu, you can rest assured to be served Kusyiyaki instead of just Yakitori (Grilled chicken Skewers). In the photo are the Chicken Meatballs (RM6) and Grilled Bacon wrapped Asparagus (RM8). Chicken meatballs has the right degree of mouthfeel, as in you know you are eating real chicken meat and not the smooth and juicy texture like nuggets/sausages. Coated with teriyaki sauce, I find this to be good accompaniment to your white rice. The bacon tasted a bit like ham but it was great combination with the crunchy asparagus. There are ones wrapped over cherry tomatoes and Yakitori with leek, grilled beef with enoki mushroom, grilled shitake mushrooms, to name a few.

Done with the seafood, raw fish and pork, lets evaluate how well they execute the red meats. They serve Kobe Beef (RM180 for 200g, Marbling Grade 5) although its not in the menu. Do I look like a rich customer since the friendly manageress decided to recommend it to me? Hehe... I opted for a less expensive dish - Teppan Gyuniku Hire (Hot plate Premium Beef Cuts) for RM48. Served with a side of stir fried mixed cabbage with beansprouts, I request for Medium but the beef turned out to be Medium-Well Done instead. No complaints as it was still juicy and tender with pales of reddish centre. Far from melt in your mouth, just above average. Nothing really spectacular about this dish.

Since the Teppanyaki does not come with rice, you are recommended to top up with a serving of fried rice. There are few options available. I tried the Nameko Yaki Meshi (Mushroom Fried Rice - RM6) which turns out to be very well executed. The grains were fluffy and light without being too oily. Very nicely done! I think I will try their Garlic Fried Rice (RM5) on the next visit. Or maybe the Beef Fried Rice (RM10) or the recommended Pork Belly Fried Rice (RM10)

 Okay, my pit was kinda bottomless that night, I couldn't help but to order one unit of handroll. The California Roll (RM4.50) was too mainstream so I decided to try the Soft Shell Crab Temaki (RM6), its the moniker of this blog after all. The soft shell crab was not VERY crispy as it it lightly doused with Teriyaki Sauce to bring a savoury touch. The one thing I wanna commend it the seaweed used was indeed fresh and crispy. Many restaurants serve you handroll with soggy/soft seaweed which need you to rip them off. The one here will have you bite off till the bottom tip with a slight crisp. Freshness and quality are really well looked after here.

 Currently, there are having some opening promotion with 20% on all items on their conveyor belt. So perhaps you guys would like to make use of this offer and save the ala carte for next time? I did grab a plate or two from the conveyor belt to fill up the empty spaces in my stomach.

The mochis - how could I resist them to put a sweet end to this enticing meal... Was really filled and enjoyed the 1 1/2 hour meal. Bill came to RM170 for 3 people. Well, it depends on what you order actually, you may say its expensive but from the menu, this is averagely priced Japanese restaurants. Sashimi ranges from RM20-35 on standard items, Unagi Kabayaki at RM35, Teppanyaki and Sets at RM20+ and noodles around RM20, I think Hokkaido and the other Japanese restaurants also are in this price range.

Like I said, its very subjective whether to judge its expensive or not. If you order their seasonal prices lobsters or Oysters or the Kobe Beef, of course you will be paying a hefty amount. Yes, the lobsters are alive and swimming. I was busy body-ing when the Head Chef is teaching the staff to handle the lobsters in a correct manner. Lobsters must NOT be transferred directly to the water tank upon their supply delivery. They should be dipped partially on the tails and legs to acclimatize with the water temperature to avoid any temperature related phobia. Geez, I learned something new for being a passerby.

There you go, a detailed and well rounded review on this new place. We came in 3 person and have a limited budget, so this was the best I can cover on most areas of their menu. But I definitely will be coming back again, this time to try slightly less expensive items. Or anybody would like to partner me to share the bill and try the Kobe Beef or Lobster Sashimi? :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Black Ball, Ipoh.

Just as I noticed ShareTea has opened its branch in GreenTown, Blackball out of nowhere also joined in the league to smash the dominance of Chatime in Ipoh. Chatime has opened its 4th outlet in Well, it’s about time as Each A Cup and the pirated SnowDream failed in being a formidable match. BlackBall is a combination of Taiwanese desserts and also their signature pearl drinks. That means double the carcinogenic risk since you have both choices under the same roof.

I had their recommended Black Ball dessert – which has items like Taro Balls, cubes of real yam, sweet potato, black pearls, grass jelly, red bean. You can have it in 3 options - HOT, COLD, ICE. I'm not sure the exact difference of the 3 as the cashier is not friendly at all. He is giving you a stern look and expect you to place your orders and not ask any questions. So much for hospitality huh? Let's see how long this fame could last him...

3Q Passion Fruit Green Tea is a similar drink I had it in KL. It has 3 “toppings” – black pearls, aloe vera and jelly. I had my Winter Melon Tea with Jade Jelly. The jelly is surprisingly sourish, a bit similar to the yellow jelly used in Wan Tau Long (Ai Yee Ice/Ai Yuk Bing). It was somehow quite refreshing and a good thirst quencher as it is not from those milky or sweet series of drinks
 Drinks here are mostly in 700cc size (big cup) ranging from RM4.90 onwards. Desserts are RM6.90 onwards per bowl. You can opt for additional topping from RM1 per portion. Another copy cat of Snowflakes I reckon. The "UFO" beeps when your order is ready. No newer idea?? > <