Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tea Time with Kah Woh @ Beacon Point

 I have not been so politically aware or inclined until recently. BERSIH, Black Rally, ceramahs, operasi tahan at polling stations, I've tried them! The sad part was I did not made up my mind to volunteer to be a PACA (Polling Agent, Counting Agent) this election. Anyway, here is another FISRT in my life! To have an informal meet up with my State Assemblyman. It's not a first time experience for me, but for the Canning State Assemblyman, Wong Kah Woh himself as well.

 Let me give a brief introduction of him. As mentioned, he defended the Canning state seat which he won in the 12th General Elections in 2008. A Universiti Islam Antarabangsa graduate, he has a Law Degree under his sleeve and he is a practising lawyer on top his responsibility in the arena of politics. Happily married and at the age of 33, this man is full of gusto and vibrancy! Yes, he can get fired up and move the crowd in ceramahs yet he can still enjoy a light moment with a small crowd in the cafe, which comprised mostly young voters. Besides opinions and views on politics, the 20+ of us were given a chance to briefly feel the hectic life of a young politician.

 I purposely took leave from work today and it was totally worth it to go up close and personal with a passionate young politician, which so happen shares the same Alma Mater as me. All of us were treated to cheese cakes and a hot cup of coffee/tea or fruit juice. Everybody got a random flavour - I think mine is the Baked New York Cheesecake

On a seperate occasion, I had their Irish Coffee Cheesecake and Blueberry Cheesecake. Really love their Irish Coffee Cheesecake. I am a sucker for alcohol though a minute amount only is incorporated here but the bittersweet aftertaste of the creamy cheese layer is truly memorable!

I wished to snap a picture with him but a bit shy to do so. Hehehehe... Unlike other fan girls. At least an autographed bookmark as souvenir will do. Before leaving, he posted a question to us instead to answer - what makes us stay or what makes us do not want to stay in Ipoh. Looks like its a unanimous decision that graduates are being paid peanuts, considering cost of living is no longer low (petrol, cars, property, food, etc) but I do believe most of us who chose to stay back do agree that Ipoh life is not found elsewhere. A relaxing and enjoyable life in a city branded as "a place for the old and retired".

 I think the two way conversation made us know each other better and also inspired both sides to play a better role in society. This is our first gathering but I'm sure it wont be our last. Hopefully the next time around, we can organize a visit to the State Assembly Building or the Parliament :) Remember, you can't avoid politics even you think it is "dirty". Sitting on the fence and being reluctant to vote because both sides are not perfect ain't bring you anywhere. Evil rejoices when the righteous and just chose to be silent. And mind you, 95% of Mariaville's Saluran 7 have sent you a very resounding voice on what the next generation wants - a cleaner and better Malaysia (besides cheap and tasty delights for my blog) :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Deli, Impiana Hotel Ipoh

Hi everybody, hows your long weekend? Kicking off Sunday night blues prior to working Monday, I will bring to your attention one of the hidden gem which I only known about it recently. Yup, I'm sure the Palong Coffeehouse is more well known for their buffets when it comes to dining options in Impiana Hotel (formerly known as Royal Casuarina). I'm sure when I mention The Bistro, it does ring the bell too, after all, I did a review of The Bistro not long ago. And today, I'm gonna do a short write up on the bakery inside Impiana known as The Deli.

Something special worth mentioning is they have a daily promotion of 50% off all sliced cakes and pastry after 8pm. Having said that, there is no discount on sandwiches, whole cakes and drinks of course. You can opt for dining in or take away. Not many sliced cakes to choose from during my visit on a Tuesday night.

Sliced cake is priced at RM9 nett. That will be RM4.50 per slice after the 8pm discount. This is the Black Forest Cake. Despite being on display for few days (I suspect its a good way to get rid of the whole cakes to ensure a healthy and fresh cycle of cakes here), the cake is still moist and I really love the cherries which is sandwiched between the layers. They didn't go overboard with the cream, which makes the whole mouth feel very appealing... Do consider picking this.

This is the Chocolate Moist Cake which is sadly... not very moist already. I would suggest that you avoid this or perhaps it has been in place for more than a couple of days. The chocolate layer on the top has kinda "dried up" and the cake layers beneath is no longer moist. A bit jelak though its just a relatively small slice.

As I mentioned, the pastries are included in the 50% discount. Normal priced at RM8, the Apple Danish is RM4 after discount which is quite a steal. After reheating in the mircrowave, the pastry is not as flaky as the fresher ones in other bakeries but the tangy filling is still piping hot. Generous portion of apple cubes induced with cinnamon. Not too bad actually... Well, they do serve Chicken Pies and Beef Pies if you wish to go for something savoury besides sweet pastries.

As I mentioned, drinks ARE excluded from the 50% promo. Feeling a bit paiseh for 3 glasses of sky juice, I decided to give a shot to the Ice Blended Mocha (RM15). In the end it turns out that this beverage is more expensive than 3 portions of cakes/pastries altogether (RM13). So peeps, I suggest you takeaway the cakes if you are on a budget.

Else, order a drink which cost at least RM10 and take your own sweet time chatting in an environment which is quite quiet and have some privacy if you are going for a date perhaps? If you are looking for a some live band performance, do drop by The Bistro a lot away. It depends very much on who are you dining with right? Till then, enjoy your gastronomic experience! Cheers!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Madam Kwan's Cuisine, Pavillion, Bukit Bintang.

I was wondering all this while - Why would one pay almost RM20 for a plate of nasi lemak? Every time I'm making a trip down KL, I will try my best to avoid such places serving normal hawker food in a cosy environment, charging near exorbitant prices few times the normal street price. Perhaps KL-ites do have the spending power unlike those working in Ipoh. For a "kampung-boy" like me, it seems like in Pavillion, besides fast food, I think you do not have much choices of "affordable restaurants". Hence, my friend asked me to give Madam Kwan's a shot to gain some input for my blog.

Before we move on to the food, lets me give some brief facts about Madam Kwan's. Established in 1999, they now have 7 outlets in Malaysia and from their Facebook fan page - they have outlet in Vivo City Singapore as well. Just in case anyone of you are just like me wondering who is Madam Kwan or does she exist in real person, sources from Jobstreet advertisement is... SHE DOES!!! 

And she is almost 75 years old!! The photo above is obtained from Madam Kwan's Restaurants Facebook fanpage. Salute her for doing her part to ward of phantom voters :)

It was just 6pm but you can see the restaurant is nearly full- After all, this is KL and it is Sunday! 80% of items in the menu are local delights whereby they do slot in some snacking delights, western chicken chops/fish and chips and not to mention Chinese "dai chow" styled dishes paired with white rice. For the drinks section, I tried to stay away from soft drinks, fruit juices and ice lemon tea, picking the Sago with Gula Melaka for my "drink".

There's one item in the menu which caught my attention - Nasi Bojari (about RM24+) (an Indonesian dish apparently originated from the royalty's kitchen, comprising spiced rice alongside beef rendang, assam curry prawns, fried spiced chicken (ayam goreng berempah), hard boiled egg, tomato slices, sambal and cucumber). But since it's my maiden visit here, I decided to go for the norm - their very own Nasi Lemak! Being awarded "Best Nasi Lemak" by Ng Yen Yen Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia, I'm curious to know how justified it is for this title... and the price tag of RM16.90. Besides fragrant coconut milk steamed rice, you get a generous portion of sambal ikan bilis which is not tongue numbing, but its spiciness is quite balanced with a hint of sweetness. If all else fails, get help from the few slices of cucumber or that hard boiled egg. What's interesting about this Nasi Lemak is not its curry chicken - which I feel was fairly above average, but its DRIED SHRIMP FLOSS. Rest assured this is not the spicy version which is normally a filling in those miniature spring rolls. There is also a small serving of acar which I felt it was quite good at a commercialized scale.

My partner in crime had her choice of Prawn Mee (RM14.90). From the appearance it emits a commanding presence to salivate every mouth and growl every stomach. Portion is quite substantial for RM14.90 (since generic outlets like PapaRich and Oldtown White Coffee also offer their premium ones at RM10+). I tasted the soup and yes, it may not be as good as the famous hawker versions but it is up to standard.

The Char Kuay Teow (RM14.90 too if I remembered correctly) gave me a surprise! Looks like the one executing this dish is no foreign worker as you can feel the "wok hei" and the slightly charred bits of the flat noodles. They are quite generous too with the squid, prawns and cockles. Similar to  the prawn noodles, the outcome was above expectation for a non-hawker environment and cooking style.

Remember the Sago with Gula Melaka (RM5.90) earlier? The gula melaka does deserve special mention. Not overwhelmingly sweet, you can go generous with the palm syrup to be poured into your bowl of coconut milk. This dessert is best eaten upon serving, while everything is still chilled. I wanted to try their 'Banana Fritters with Gula Melaka and Vanilla Ice Cream' but we were too full already and we have a train to catch. That sums up my Genting-KL trip and yeah... finally I joined the bandwagon by paying RM20 (including tax) for a plate of nasi lemak. Unlike other KL-ites, too bad, I'm not a convert/fan of Madam Kwan's. Anyway, I will consider giving another visit just to try their Nasi Bojari :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lot 10 Street Food

We managed to reach KL earlier than expected! And for today, our destination is the heart of KL City itself, Bukit Bintang area. Besides shopping (window shopping for me), we made a quick stop at the food court called Lot 10 Hutong. Hutong is a concept which assembles all the famous street food in KL and Klang Valley, in which most of them has a historic establishment with at least a few decades of experiences under their sleeves.

This one even boast its history traced to post World War II. Yup, this is the shop I decided to try since I wanted to avoid those manned by Burmese. Yup, those Char Kuay Teow are done by foreign workers. I mean, what is the point if you are operating under a famed banner if the skills are not well honed. I prefer sticking to those "pre-cooked" stuffs eg, Roasted Duck rice, Curry Noodles, etc.

And yeah, I decided to have this! This set of springy egg noodles topped with minced meat is good to be eaten on its own! Normally you will bundle it up with a bowl of beef balls or mixed beef soup. A regular set costs RM8.50 which comes with a bowl of noodles and a choice of EITHER beef balls only or mixed beef soup. In this photo, its a full set costing you RM10.50 for your boost of fibre in the form of extra balanced vegetables in oyster sauce and also a cup of Chinese tea.

The beef soup contains various parts of the bovine - edible ones of course - from the tongues to the brisket and also few slices of the loin. You get 2 pieces of beef balls too. This is indeed a better bet compared to the beef balls soup only in the photo earlier. However things are not perfect here. The soup is obviously a peppery-MSG laden broth which pale in comparison to the top-notched versions in Ipoh. You should get a hearty broth with a slight tinge of herbs if its a good bowl of beef soup. So, you can blame us to stereotype that KL-ites only eat to fill their stomachs in their hectic and packed daily routine unlike us Ipohians whom are generally picky and demand a higher standard of food taste and quality.

On the other hand, this is the pork noodles which comprise pork sausages, minced pork and pork meatballs. The pork sausages are similar to those "Siu Cheong" in your roasted duck rice shops. The minced pork is just as flavourful as the typical Char Cheong Mein toppings or Hakka noodles toppings. The pork meatballs are smooth and bouncy at the same time. Its texture may not appease to certain people as some might prefer to have some "coarse meat" feel but the meatballs are formed from a very smooth paste!

I remember my love at first "sight" when tasting this noodles in 3JC outlet at the lower concourse area in Low Yat Plaza. And after that, its very disturbing to know how come Ipoh, a town famous for its hawker food does not have this dish in the list? Yup, I do agree this dish is "founded" on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, but its still sad to say the hidden gems like these are not exposed to other cities. Talk about "culture exchange", wouldn't it be great? But again, its these "local specialties" which motivates us floggers to explore beyond our geographic boundaries. Until then, cheers to midweek! :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Morning Breakfast @ The Bakery, Highlands Hotel

Even with the assistance of Panadol Soluble, I think I just managed to catch only 6 hours of sleep the night before. I couldn't help but to feel blur and stoned the next morning. We decided to leave Genting Highlands earlier so that we will have more time to shop in KL later and the other reason was to avoid the crowd in the Genting Skyway as experienced the day before. Having not much choices of food for breakfast here, we opted for a quick breakfast in The Bakery, Highlands Hotel.

Turkey Ham with Onion Quiche (RM7.80) served with a side of greens lightly drizzled with balsamic vinegar dressing. The quiche is somehow below average - more like eating custard/pudding as the egg proportion was too dominant as one could barely feel the creaminess/milkiness of the cheese and cream/milk. The absence of herbs made this a monotonous affair and I really need to depended on the salad dressing to make it more palatable. Isn't it pathetic for a bakery of a 5-star hotel to serve this quality of food?

A friend of mine recommended a bakery here (which I believe to be this one) which serves good premium sandwiches. I think I should give her a piece of my mind for recommendation. This is a Turkey Ham Croissant which is price around RM7-8.

Scones WITHOUT fresh cream and strawberry jam! Damn! It's like eating Satay without peanut sauce and Chicken Rice without the ginger chili sauce! The scone is crumbly but it was far from the ones tried in Camerons. Perhaps reheating could do some justice? A disappointing morsel here for the price of RM3.50.

The Hot Chocolate (its supposed to be a Melting Pot inspired drink) was actually warmed milk with cubes of chocolate dunked into it. Unable to melt and be homogenized, it somehow turned out to be sort of a Milk Shake instead. Good for being adventurous if you picked this drink, anyhow it rewards your curiosity compared to the generic Hot Lemon Tea which I ordered. For RM7.90, I could see the Liption tea bag with a few slices of lemon. Not a pleasant breakfast experience, at least we kissed the cold weather goodbye for this alfresco dining experience and made our way to KL to continue our shopping... and food hunting!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Spice Garden, Highlands Hotel, Genting Highlands.

Wow, it was a horrendous way uphill to Genting Highlands. After our lunch and first round of shopping in Midvalley, we took the Genting bus from Sentral. The heavy downpour didn't slow the journey but the standstill queue at the Genting Skyway was the test which can easily flare up the most patient soul. There were many tourist, mainly from China which are from tour groups causing the beeline to form till the lower floor. With the company of my 2 mates, we filled up the one and half hour wait with gossips and cock talking. Ironically, the check in First World hotel which used to have at least an hour's wait is now reduced to one and a half minute instead thanks to the kiosks check-in system.

Upon checking in, we just went straight to bed for nap before deciding on what to have for dinner. We later found out that the Be A Star Karaoke was no longer in business, the Vietnam and Mexican cuisine at the Venice walk in the middle of First World Plaza was no longer operating as well. Not fond of having fast food which is priced at least 50% extra, we decided to give the Indian cuisine a try.

Surprisingly, despite having some awards under their belt, there was only 3 or 4 tables only when we dined in throughout the night from 8:30pm onwards till 10pm.

We also discovered some momentos from famous Bollywood stars, in which I only can identify one of them - Amitabh Bacham who dined here before. Well actually these were not the main reason we dined here. We prefer something spicy for the cold weather as it was just 19 degrees that night. Furthermore, they are offering a good set deal for 2 person at RM100 with a few courses.

For drinks we can choose 2 items from a few choices of soups, mango lassi, ice lemon tea and massala tea. We choose the mushroom soup and it tasted very rich in milk/yoghurt instead of cream. Its totally different from those cream of mushroom soup you get in Western cuisine places.

While waiting for our main to arrive, we were served complimentary papadam together with assorted vegetables with mint chutney as dip. It turns out that the cucumbers and tomatoes were good as palate cleanser to the meaty affair which awaits us.

The entree - Chicken Tikka, Mutton Seekh and Fish Tikka Curry - 2 pieces each. Well we did not expect the appetiser platter to be quite huge in portion. This could be a main dish on its own and we ordered an additional ala carte serving of Tandoori Chicken. Tastewise, all were acceptable except the mutton has a faint gamey smell despite being heavily marinaded in spices and condiments.

According to the menu, its written ASSORTED BREAD. But we were given just one flavour - its garlic naan, lightly buttered and sprinkled with parsley if I'm not mistaken? The naan here has a slight chewy texture but was not too thick. One can easily go for a few slices and still go for a helping of the rice later...

And now, let the mains make their glorious entry! Clockwise from top: Assorted Vegetables with Cottage Cheese, Curry Fish, Cooked Yellow Lentils (dhall) and Mutton Rogan Josh. The curry fish is cooked with milk/yoghurt instead of coconut milk, so some might be so accustomed to this type of cooking. The lentils make good accompaniment to the naan bread but its good to eat it on its own too. The mutton is quite robust in flavour... a bit too salty to my liking. Rest assured that after this meal, it will keep you warm enough to roam the outdoor of Genting Highlands.

As mentioned earlier, the additional serving of Chicken Massala (RM26.90) wasn't really necessary. We were a bit jelak from all the carnivorous affair. The chicken meat is tender but I prefer them to grill it a bit more to give the charred ends. Now, I'm craving for the platter of vegetables just now after all this meat...

Briyani and plain basmati rice is too mainstream, so it led us to pick the Zeera Rice (Cumin Seed Rice). Its not as heavy as the briyani but it was not as plain like white rice. The cumin seeds made the rice more aromatic and complemented well with an addition of curry gravy. This dish was indeed a rare find and it was our first time trying it... and I loved it!

The meal set meal above was priced at RM100 (2pax). The total bill came to slightly more than RM150 for 3 of us, with an ala carte serving of Tandoori Chicken and Iced Lemon Tea (RM7.90) and Government Tax + Service Charge. Ambiance wise, they are far behind Tandoor Grill, Ipoh or even Pakeeze. Being long in business, I think they should refurbish their interior a bit. Well, not much complaints, since its at THIS price IN Genting. Oh, by the way, those are Shisha (assorted flavours - content imported form the UAE). Next post: more KL food! :)