Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Healthy snack

Photo by ZABIDI TUSIN / THE STAR



Ali Omar, 78, scooping out freshly boiled buah jering at his stall in Kampung Bukit Besar, Kuala Terengganu.

The peeled fruit, which looks like a giant version of petai and shares the same texture, is normally eaten as an ulam (fresh salad) in the west coast of Malaysia. Over in the east coast, however, it is consumed as a cooked snack and Ali’s stall is a popular one in the Bukit Besar neighbourhood.

Popularly known as Pak Ali Jering, he has been selling the kuih for about 10 years now. As the fruit is naturally bitter and smelly, it requires the know-how to make it palatable and Pak Ali is not about to divulge his recipe. However, he reveals that he boils the fruit for 14 hours and serves it with fresh grated coconut. He sells the snack for RM2.50 a cup.

The locals believe that buah jering helps in treating high blood pressure and diabetes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fish Head Noodles Second To None

FOOD TRAIL
By SAM CHEONG


JUST when I thought I had seen them all, my colleague James Lam, an avid foodie, invited me to have lunch with him.

“Eh Sam ah, you free or not? We go to Jalan Kuchai Lama for makan?” he said. I needed no coaxing, it is always an honour to makan with Lam because he goes to great lengths for a decent meal.

Lam and I had earlier met over breakfast and our topic of conversation was ... what else, but food, glorious food!

After making the necessary arrangements, the man said he knew of a secret spot that served yee thau mai (fish head noodles). I had been alerted to many such makan places but, according to Lam, this was one of the “unspoilt” places that I must visit.


Yummy: The Udang Galah beehoon is a notch better than the fish head noodles.

“It’s not commercialised yet and very few food critics know of it. So, we must check it out before its prices go up — especially after a review is posted in the newspaper.”

So, we met up for lunch on a Friday. The place is about a 15-minute drive from Section 16 in Petaling Jaya. Lam manouvred his vehicle through a series of housing estates before we ended up at Jalan Lazat, which is located near Happy Garden in Old Klang Road.

To the uninitiated, this is one place at the fringe of the city centre where there are plenty of good makan places. I can go on and on about the food here, but this week’s pick is a yee thau mai stall at the Choy Kei coffee shop in Jalan Lazat.

If you are not familiar with the housing estates in Old Klang Road, finding this coffee shop can be a real adventure. The landmark here is a row of hawker stalls; Choy Kei is the last corner coffee shop if you are coming from the direction of Happy Garden.

This housing estate brought back plenty of memories of the time when I was a secondary school kid. This was the neighbourhood my friends and I visited when they first acquired their driving licences.

High school romance was blooming and if you were a schoolboy with wheels, your social circle expanded tremendously. And, during the Chinese New Year, there was no shortage of red packets when we went visiting around the area.

My first encounter with the good food here was some 18 years ago. I was introduced to a steamed fish head stall in Jalan Lazat and well, that was the first and last time I visited the place. So, Lam’s invitation held sort of a “Happy Garden revisited” nostalgia for me.

At Choy Kei, he wasted no time in ordering the yee thau mai.


Creamy and tasty: A small portion of Choy Kei’s fish head noodles.

Now, prices here are at a premium. For RM6.80, you get a bowl of fish head noodles with extras like the yee wat (fish paste) thrown in.

To my surprise, the noodle dishes can cost up to RM13.50. I asked the food handler what the extras were and he said: “Ah, for the highest price, you get halved udang galah and yee wat along with the fish head.”

I found his description satisfactory and when the noodles arrived, I found it to be one of the best fish head noodles I had tasted so far.

The gravy was creamy as expected, and the portion of noodles and fish head were generous, so there was hardly anything that I could complain about.

Lam also ordered the sang har mai (prawn beehoon), which was a notch better than the fish head beehoon.

I had fresh sauteed udang galah halves and the the prawn’s aromatic flavour blended with the evaporated milk gravy to give it oomph! At RM11.50 a helping, this is the second most expensive noodle dish in the house.

Now, the “secret” ingredient that made my yee thau mai experience at Choy Kei complete was the chee yau char (pork cracklings).

No other fish head beehoon stall can come close to what this coffee shop offers and so far, it is the top contender for the best yee thau mai in the Klang Valley.

I was also told by Lam that there is a dancing cook in this coffee shop. Ah, well, that will be my excuse for a follow-up visit to Choy Kei.

If you plan to head to Jalan Lazat, be sure to get there early as the coffee shop is usually packed during lunch hour.

The GPS coordinates for Choy Kei coffee shop are 3 4’ 35” N, 101 40’ 43” E. This time round, I will be a bit generous by including the map from my Nokia maps screenshot that cost me a bomb for your reference.

And lastly, the fish head beehoon is a lunchtime treat, so be advised on the timing, and to all you foodies out there — happy hunting!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Eating out

Popular Peking Duck



CHEF Wang Qiaoyu of Hilton Shanghai is back at Toh Yuen Chinese Restaurant in Hilton Petaling Jaya to cook his Peking Duck speciality. The promotion runs until April 15. Priced at RM108++ per bird, the Peking Duck is served in different styles. The skin is sliced thinly and wrapped with a specially-made pancake. The meat is then prepared into Stir Fried Diced Duck with Lettuce, Sauteed Shredded Duck Meat with Bean Sprouts, Stir Fried Duck with Bell Pepper in Black Bean Sauce and Wok Fried Noodles with Shredded Duck. The promotion also offers a seven-course set menu priced at RM106++ per person, featuring Peking Duck, Braised Shark’s Fin Soup with Eight Treasures and Fish Lips, Wok Fried Fresh Scallop and Prawns with XO Sauce, Steamed Red Garoupa with Light Soya Sauce, among others. For reservations, call 03-7955 9122 ext 4073/4.

F1-inspired dishes



WITH the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix season zooming into town, Spice of India at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is giving F1 fans another reason to celebrate, with an exclusive premium menu. Only from April 1 to 5, diners can enjoy an exclusive three-course meal featuring authentic Indian specialities for a one-time offer of RM89++ per person (minimum two pax) in conjunction with Pavilion Pit Stop. The meal flags off with Subzi Samosa and the delightfully light Mulligatawny Soup and continues with a medley of flavours like Chicken Tandoori, Rogan Josh and Bendi Masala, matched with either a serving of chawal or naan bread fresh from the tandoor. The meal ends on a sweet note with Mango Kulfi. For reservations, call 03-2143 3669.

Exhilarating F1 drinks



CATCH the action at Monkey Bar with a range of exciting concoctions specially created for all F1 fans. There is Sepang Corner that is concocted from vodka, vanilla syrup, fresh milk and peanut butter, which is hearty and flavourful with a punch to it. For coffee lovers, the Grandstand mix comes highly recommended. This aromatic brew has shots of freshly-brewed espresso, cinnamon, kahlua, gin and a citrus touch, thanks to addition of orange peel. For teetotallers, there is Sauber, which is made up of a combination of raspberry, blueberry and peach puree topped up with sweet soda and sprigs of mint leaves. For a refreshing change, Chequered Flag is the drink for you as the appetising mocktail contains pineapple, mango and calamansi juice, topped with juicy cherries for that extra bite. These April specials are priced at RM18++ for mocktails and RM25++ for cocktails. The outlet also serves mouth-watering snacks and bites and is well known for its pizzas and chicken wings. For reservations, call 03-4042 9888 ext 1027.

CAVA, 71 Jalan Bangkung, Bukit Bandaraya, KL (Tel: 03-2093 6637). Business Hrs: Mon-Sat, lunch (noon-3pm); dinner (6pm till late); Sun & Public Hols (6pm till late). Pork-free. Serves Catalonian-style cuisine, noted for its seafood and rice dishes. Expect good wines and an extensive tapas selection.

SAFFRON MEDITERRANEAN BISTRO, Unit 18 - G, Jalan Solaris 4, Solaris Mont’ Kiara, KL (Tel: 03-6203 0145). Business Hrs: Daily (11am-10pm). Serves Mediterranean cuisine with most of its dishes cooked with olive oil. Among the famous Mediterranean dishes are tapas, grilled and barbecued items and pasta. The flavours of Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean nations are available under one roof. Delicious breads are made in house, and served with a special dip.

BAR B.Q. PLAZA, Lot 338a, 1st Floor, Rainforest, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Bandar Utama, PJ (Tel: 03-7727 8148). Business Hrs: Daily (11am-10pm). Non-halal. A type of sauce sampled at a restaurant in Thailand led Bar B.Q Plaza’s owner to set up shop here. The sauce makes all the difference. Set lunch at RM9.90 on weekdays.

SPICE OF INDIA, Level 4, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, KL (Tel: 03-2164 9221). Business Hrs: Daily (11.30am-10.30pm). Pork-free. Spe­cialises in Northern and Southern Indian cuisine. Recommended dishes include Pomfret Tandoori, Leg of Lamb, Fish Head Curry, Lobster Tandoori and King Prawn Tandoori.

TAISHI TEPPANYAKI, Subang Business Centre, 34 Jalan USJ 9/5P (Tel: 03-8025 9603). Business Hrs: Tues-Sun, lunch (11.30am-3pm), dinner (6pm-10pm). Pork-free. Numerous teppanyaki sets, ranging in price from RM10.80 to RM24.80, complemented with homemade sauces. Four types of course meals at RM34.80 each.

CANTON FARE, 71G Jalan Medan Setia 1, Plaza Damansara, Bukit Damansara, KL (Tel: 03-2093 5279, 03-6203 0223 - Solaris Mont’ Kiara). Business hours: Daily (11.30am-3pm and 6pm-10.30pm). Non-halal. Cantonese cuisine served hot from the wok is available in a variety of cooking styles. Famous for its glistening barbecued pork, roasted pork, whole roasted goose, signature pork ribs and dishes cooked with crab meat with egg white.

CICCIO RISTORANTE BAR PIZZERIA, 15 Changkat Bukit Bintang, KL (Tel: 03-2141 8605). Business Hrs: Daily (5pm-12.30am). Kitchen closes at 10.30pm but pizza is available till midnight. Pork-free. A casual, intimate and inviting place with wood-fired gourmet pizzas, homemade pasta and steaks.

SURE PIZZA, P37, Plaza Damas Ground Floor, Hartamas Shopping Centre, Jalan Hartamas 1, KL (Tel: 03-6201 6014). Business Hrs: Daily (10am-10pm). Pork-free. Cosy Italian restaurant serving authentic Italian food and thin-crust pizzas. Deliveries confined to Plaza Damas.

DEPARTURE LOUNGE, B/G/20, Jalan PJU 1/43, Aman Suria, PJ (Tel: 03-7803 3418). Business Hrs: Mon-Sat (8am-7pm); Sun & Public Hols (10am-5pm). Pork-free. Offers hearty breakfast sets with three, five and seven items. Also has a small selection of salads, pasta and sandwiches. Serves various kinds of coffee using Illy beans from Italy.

FISHERMAN’S COVE, LG10, Feast Village, Starhill Gallery, 181 Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL (Tel: 03-2782 3848). Business Hrs: Daily (noon-1am). Halal. The restaurant is designed as a boathouse and is tastefully decorated with sails and lamps to re-create a fishing village. The focus is on seafood, prepared in an open kitchen.

EAT WORK SHOP, 9 Jalan Peguam U1/25, Glenmarie Business Park, Shah Alam (Tel: 03-5569 7763). Business Hrs: Mon-Sat (11am-11pm). Pork-free. Boasts a swanky and trendy minimalist d├ęcor. Australian-influenced cuisine with a touch of Asian flavours.

CHILI’S GRILL & BAR, Lot 346B, Level 3, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, KL (Tel: 03-2164 1400). Business Hrs: Sun-Thurs (11am-11pm); Fri, Sat & Public Hols (11am-midnight). Halal. Serves American and Mexican food with specialities homemade hi-fi bread and Multon Chocolate Brownie. Offers a great view of KLCC’s fountain.

Korean Flavours To Whet The Palate

By ESTHER CHANDRAN


SOME of us may have read fables on acorns and oak trees and know that the mighty oak grows from little acorns but there is definitely not an acorn in sight, here in the tropics.

So, when Mary Shin Mi Suk explained that the brownish jelly like dish among the Korean side dishes before us was made of acorn powder, our ears pricked up.


Wide variety: The assorted barbecue fare at Restaurant Kung Jung.

Since acorns are not available locally, Shin’s mother Kim Jong Oh and her sister Hyun Suk return to South Korea twice a year to get essential Korean ingredients like acorn and sesameleaves, cutlery and spices for their outlet.

“We buy organic Korean acorns that can cost up to RM200 per kg and it is very expensive, just like the sesame leaves,” said Shin.

Once we learnt of its price, we quickly cleaned up the plate so as not to be wasteful.

The not too bad tasting acorn jelly dish (Dotorimuk) topped with seaweed is relished with soya sauce.

Besides the acorn jelly, we had several other side dishes like potato salad, marinated cockles, stir fried anchovies, fresh kimchi, regular kimchi, seasoned tofu, stir fried fish, garlic sticks and seaweed for bites as we watched waiters prepare our barbecue stove with special non-smoke emanating Korean coal.

Kim served us two types of kimchi - fresh kimchi and the preserved one so we could distinguish between the two.


Hot bowl: The Dol Sot Bi Bim Bam is a rice dish with spinach, white cabbage, chilli powder and raw egg which is quickly mixed at the table so the egg cooks in the hot rice.

The vegetable texture of the former was firmer, its spices raw and vibrant as we alternated between the two tastes, growing fond of the fresh version with each renewed experience.

Kimchi, Mary said was made of vegetables (usually cabbage), chilli powder, salt and garlic.

“Back in South Korea at the onset of winter, we make a lot of kimchi and we bury the kimchi container into a big hole in the ground and the snow helps keep the vegetable cold while it ferments.

“Koreans say that kimchi prepared during this period is the best,” Shin said as she served us Korean Raspberry Wine, Gold Korean Plum Gold Wine and Soju.

Here’s some good news - the variety of side dishes change daily and are complimentary.

There was plenty of garlic on our table and I enjoy the pungent herb.

Shin said Koreans love garlic and that 80% of their dishes had garlic in them.

We were having the Modum Koo Ee (assorted grilled barbeque) that consisted of fresh spare ribs, fresh sirloin, marinated spare ribs, marinated rib eye, char broiled marinated cuttlefish, prawns and scallops.

While waiting for the stove to heat up, the kitchen served the familiar Korean-style Pancake (Pah Jeon) that was aromatic with scallion and seafood.

With hard to grip stainless steel chopsticks, the omelette pancake was delicious with or without its accompanying sauce.

As the restaurant caters to locals, don’t be surprised to see a sauce laden with chilli padi served alongside.

The Chab Chae is lightly stir fried potato noodles with assorted vegetables in light sweet soy sauce that resembles the local stir fried glass noodle dish.

The aroma of the barbecued items, grilled before us, wafted in the air.

The grilled fare, be it the marinated or unseasoned meats, were as good as they smelt.

At the end of our barbecue experience, Shin brought in bowls with more Korean food.

The cold buckwheat noodles (Mool Naeng Meon) is a serving of fine noodles with mustard and vinegar.

Although the noodles were nice, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea to have cold noodles shock my palate after the hot sizzling barbecue experience.

The other bowl (Dol Sot Bi Bim Bam) contained rice with spinach, white cabbage, chilli powder and raw egg which is quickly mixed at the table so the egg cooks in the hot rice.

The outlet, in its ninth year is a testament of Kim’s success after having lost her husband just three months after arriving in Malaysia 18 years ago.

“My father left Korea to join his Korean business partner here in Malaysia but sadly he died in an accident soon after we arrived here.

“My mother was a housewife then and with the little that she had, she opened a food stall called Ari Lang in Lot 10 selling Korean food.

“After two years, she sold the business and worked at the Halla Korean factory as its caterer before opening this restaurant in 2000,” Shin said.

Kim smiled and nodded her head throughout our conversation as she does not speak English.

Her eldest daughter Hyun Suk has been her right hand throughout the years, dealing with the administrative part of the business.

Besides Kim, the outlet also has executive chef Kim Guy Hyun to dish out the traditional Korean fare.

“Our restaurant is open 365 days a year and my mother is at the restaurant from as early as 9am to closing time so her customers are assured that she lends her personal touch to their food,” said Shin with a pleasant smile.

The outlet also serves Japanese cuisine for those who want a mix of Korean and Japanese.

RESTORAN KUNG JUNG (halal), Lot No 3.1, At PNB Darby Park, Jalan Binjai, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2166 7181) Business hours: noon to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm Monday to Saturday, 6pm to 10.30pm on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Always A Delight

By FARIDAH BEGUM


Soaked brown squid with water convolvulus in a sweet spicy sauce is a great appetiser.

Soaked brown squid is a delicacy that often innocently makes it way on to the dining table and steals the thunder from other dishes.

Often cooked in a spicy sambal and devoured with Nasi Lemak or plain rice, it is also a wonderful appetiser in the form of the Malaysian favourite, Sotong Kangkung. No food court or hawker joint is complete without this on the menu.

What must be right is the sauce, which is not unlike the sweet bean sauce that comes with your chee cheong fun and this version has either ground peanuts or lots of roasted sesame seeds.

The squid must also be done well. Sometimes, the squid can be a pure let-down, especially if it becomes soft and without bite.

Crunchy and thick, you are on your way to more than just a good plate of appetiser with the dish.

Apparently from reading about Malaysian food, we found that sotong kangkung is very popular in Sabah and Sarawak and they have a good number of stalls that sell this fare, although some have commented that it is a tad too sweet as compared to the ones in the Peninsular. Whatever, it is the tastebuds of individuals and different people will taste different degrees of sweetness and saltiness in the same plate of food.

While many have responded to our sms call last week, here are just a few good places to look for your sotong kangkung.


Sotong kangkung rebus: A delicious snack food.

At the Grace Point and Bukit Padang in Kota Kinabalu, the sotong kangkung comes highly recommended as the portions are generous and the sotong done just right to provide bulk and crunch. The kangkung or water convolvulus is also very fresh and blanched just enough to maintain a good crunch for vegetable lovers.

In Kuching Sarawak, the Kuching Open Air market also has a stall selling sotong kangkung and is said to be quite good too. The Hui Sin food court here also has a sotong kangkung stall that serves an authentic version of this simple fare and is said to come with a generous sprinkling of roughly ground peanuts.

In the Peninsular, sotong kangkung is a very popular evening and dinner dish among friends, hence it being more commonly sold at night than during the day.

In the north, specifically in Gurun, Kedah, Kedai Kopi New Light, which is opposite the Gurun Magistrate’s Court at 294, Main Street, the sotong kangkung is a must as it is said not only the sauce is good, it is the kangkung that makes all the difference!

At Madras Lane, well-known previously for the exotic meats that were sold here, there is a stall that serves a good sotong kangkung and assam laksa here.

The portions are big and is good to share, besides the gravy here, one of the most important components to hold the dish together, is very tasty, so say those who have gotten a taste of it as it is a non-halal stall.

The eat street on Jalan Sayur in Pudu, which was featured in last week’s Sunday Metro, also has a stall selling sotong kangkung and again, we are told that the dish has been constant in taste as the years evolved.

For those in Petaling Jaya, drop by Tony’s char kway teow at Store 1073, Uptown Hawker Stall in the Uptown Centre of Damansara Jaya, Petaling jaya, and here, you will find the sotong kangkung, although many say it tastes better when had with the char kway teow than on its own.

The Pantai Remis Kopitiam with origins from Perak at the IOI Mall in Puchong also has sotong kangkung on its menu and is said to be as good as those sold in the open air stalls.

Further south at the Neighbourhood Coffeeshop in Taman Equine, Seri Kembangan, one of the many stalls here sell sotong kangkung all day long and is said to be popular with the residents around.

Crossing the Selangor border and moving down south, a stop at the back alley on Jalan Bunga Raya will bring you to a stall that serves an authentic sotong kangkung, Malacca style.

Spicy and sweet with loads of brown squid, it is delicious and you may not want to share. Again, the sauce makes it good.

In Johor, at the Tepian Tebrau, most Johoreans get their sotong kangkung fix here, again with the sauce being the source of this enjoyment.

Sharing And Caring

Makan Makan
By FARIDAH BEGUM


It takes every individual to realise that they have to do their bit to keep society together.

LIVING in the city often makes us behave individualistic and the inborn traits of wanting to assist or gather friends and family together become a distant memory in our lives.

Looking back a decade or two ago, the society we live in today is far different from the one we had then.

Even the lessons learned in school are different already!

What happened to the lessons in giving a helping hand, a friend in need is a friend indeed and so many more phrases that we often had drilled into our heads in school.

Gone are the days, I think, when all of us would rally around friends, good times or bad times, get together and visit one’s home instead of making plans to meet at shopping malls such as these days.

We were often invited to meals at either homes, no matter how meagre the offerings.

It is rather sad that we do no more than argue over matters that don’t even cause a dent in our lives, or even allow political differences dictate who our friends are and who aren’t.

The thought, for some, may be a little mushy but hey, when all is said and done, who do you call for hope, encouragement and support when you know your life is somewhat hanging in the balance.

Friends and family are important components in our lives and we should never forget to give thanks for their presence. No matter how bad or how difficult life is, they will help you get back on your feet and give you the hand to help guide you out of your misery.

Right now, as we speak, there are many around us who could benefit from a simple smile and a good conversation from any of us. There are many friends who have lost their jobs and perhaps, in some cases, on the verge of losing the only source of income they have.

It would be good in our own way for the lucky ones to strike out and assist in any way possible. If you are cooking, why not share a dish or two of your meal with the neighbour who is going through some hard times.

Their thanks is reward enough and such good thoughts when collected make our lives happier and more fulfilling. Try it. This is not idle talk as I often do this and feel good about the positive vibes that I collect.

On a chirpier note, I would like to highlight an e-mail I received last week from G.S. Chng.

He said: “Hi, just to let you know I compile all your recipes and cook them for my wife. I find them easy for our hectic lifestyles where coming home in the evening means not cracking our heads on what to cook but we can just browse through the clippings. Great stuff! We are Malaysians after all and the foods just taste so Malaysian.”

Thank you, Chng, for your vote of confidence and for trying those recipes out.

Yes, life has become a little more hectic and despite the fact that we spend very little time at home, we still would like home-cooked meals on the table but in as little time as possible.

This week, I respond to Chng and many others who would like quick, cheap and nutritious meals.

Bon appetit to all, a great fortnight ahead and don’t forget to send over some food to your neighbour next door. Keep friendships going for a more peaceful and happier existence.

Faridah Begum believes life is about sharing and food is a great catalyst in this direction.



Sardine in a Real Hurry
Ingredients

1 can of sardines (425g)

3 tbsps tomato ketchup

2 large onions – cut into rings)

6 bird’s eye chillies

1 tablespoon cooking oil

Method

In a wok, heat the cooking oil, add the sardines and the tomato ketchup.

Let it cook on a medium flame.

Stir occasionally to prevent the sardine and gravy from burning and sticking to the wok.

When the sardines are cooked for about five to six minutes, put in the onions and chillies and let the dish to continue simmering until the onions are soft. Serve.

Simple Spinach
Ingredients

300g spinach – cut into 3cm lengths and washed

3 shallots – finely sliced

3 red chillies – broken into small pieces

1/2 tbsp cooking oil

Salt to taste

2 tbsps coconut cream – made up with water to make 1 cup of liquid

Method

In a wok, heat the cooking oil and saute the dried chillies and onions. When soft and fragrant, add the spinach and cover to let the vegetable soften. After a minute or two, add salt to taste and coconut milk. Cover and simmer for about five minutes. Dish out and serve.



Udang Masak Lemak
Ingredients

1kg tiger prawns – cleaned and deveined (preferably with the shell on)

Blend together:

6 shallots

2 clove garlic

1cm galangal

3 stalks lemongrass

8 bird’s eye chillies

2cm fresh turmeric

1 turmeric leave

3 pieces of dried tamarind rind (asam keping)

Salt to taste

3 cups thick coconut milk

1 cup water

Method

In a pot, place the blended ingredients, turmeric leave, coconut milk and water, with salt and dried tamarind pieces.

Cook over a low flame until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Stir for a few minutes.

When the mixture thickens a little, add the prawns. Switch off the flame once the prawns are cooked. Serve.

Old School Meals

Compiled by RENITA CHE WAN


THIS may not be the discovery of the year, but it may as well be the rediscovery of the year.

One rainy Saturday night, en route to Jalan Alor’s Wong Ah Wah in Kuala Lumpur for dinner with the gang, blogger qwazymonkey suddenly thought of Woo Lan Restaurant.


Tasty variety: The different dishes you can find at Woo Lan Restaurant.

To his surprise, none of his friends have ever been to (or heard of it for that matter) this legendary restaurant. So, they made a detour and headed for Brickfields.

Woo Lan, which is housed in a nice air-conditioned and brightly lit establishment, is tucked nicely in a quiet corner of Brickfields.

It wasn’t until a couple years back when qwazymonkey started getting his regular blind-massage therapies that he found this place again by chance.

“After a session, I was hungry and stepped into this place. I looked around and saw some rather familiar dishes. I happily ordered and ate. I’ve only returned once again for dinner out of laziness to go any where else after a massage,” he wrote.

Now his decision to dine at Woo Lan Restaurant was no mistake. He ordered everything that was recommended by the “Si Tau Poh”, and no matter how many dishes he ordered, the Fried Mee Suah is still a must.

“This has got to be one of my all-time favourite noodle dishes. I do miss it every now and then, but never really took the effort to get my butt here ever since I stopped my massage sessions.

“It’s a simple dish and subtle in presentation. But do not be fooled by its unappetising appearance. This signature dish is quite the con-artist. The flavourful combination of gluten starch, Chinese cabbage, pork, prawn, crunchy seaweed, fried egg that were held together by ‘some’ lard is just droolsome,” he added.

All in all the dinner was satisfying. He couldn’t agree more with his friend when she said that the place serves rather traditional village-tasting food and it’s not very often that he gets such cooking in this big city of ours.

Based on the taste of the food alone, they wouldn’t mind driving out of the way every now and then to savour some “good ol-skool” (old-school) dishes.

“Despite whatever I’ve said, do try the food there when you can. Just do not expect to pay the price of your neighbourhood Tai Chow.”

Woo Lan Restaurant is located at No.19, Jalan Scott, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur.

Fish On Your Plate

By FARIDAH BEGUM


You may not like fish but it’s a different story when you choose fish and chips.

I HATE fish.” Such is the common exclamation by most children whenever parents try to feed them this good nutritional piece of meat that contains some of the nutrients we need.

However, these battles come to a complete end when you serve fish and chips.


Yummy: Fish and Chips is a popular take-away food which originated in Britain.

In fact, when you take the children out to a restaurant that serves Western food, almost on a score of two to one, they would settle for fish and chips.

No, it is never the chips that is the drawing factor but rather the tart and sinfully looking tartare sauce that draws most appetites to fish and chips.

Its creamy and sourish taste tends to send most people eating up their meal and before they realise how they had spent the last five minutes totally in tune with their fish and chips and not with the conversation swirling around them, the fish is gone and so are the chips!

According to Wikipedia: “Fish and chips (sometimes written ‘fish ‘n’ chips’) is a popular take-away food which originated in the United Kingdom. It consists of deep-fried fish (traditionally cod, haddock or flounder) in batter or breadcrumbs with deep-fried chipped (slab-cut) potatoes.

“Popular tradition associates the dish with the United Kingdom; and fish and chips remains very popular in the United Kingdom and in areas colonised by people from the UK in the 19th century, such as Australia, New Zealand, and parts of North America (New England, the Pacific Northwest and Canada generally). Fish and chips also have considerable popularity in the Republic of Ireland, and South Africa. Establishments in Denmark and in some coastal towns in Norway serve fried fillets. In the Netherlands, the popular deep-fried, battered fillet dish called lekkerbek sometimes appears served with chips.

“The British usually serve thicker slabs of potato than the ‘french fries’ popularised by major multinational US hamburger-chains. In their homes or in non-chain restaurants, people in or from the USA may eat a thicker type of chip, called ‘home fries’ or ‘steak fries’.”

Fish and Chips is usually on the menu of most coffee houses and restaurants, especially those who serve both local and western cuisine.

If you are looking for some good old fish and chips, try Coliseum Cafe in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur, which serves authentic English fare.

One of the latest in the capital city is the dish’s namesake – The Magnificent Fish and Chips Bar at 28 Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur. True to its name, the place certainly lives up to its British attitude and it is definitely as noisy and brash as any English pub would get. Though a tad pricey, the fish and chips here is authentic with choices of barramundi, cod, dory and salmon for the meal.

The Fish & Co at Bangsar Village also serves a nice and crunchy fish and chips.

The Manhattan Fish Market, which has several outlets at Mid Valley Megamall, Alamanda Putrajaya, Subang Parade, Suria KLCC, Ikano Power Centre, Sogo Kuala Lumpur, Penang and even in Johor Baru, serves fresh and good seafood but the fish and chips is especially good here.

Outside of the Klang Valley, the Bayleaf Restaurant and Shahzan Inn in Kuantan both serve commendable Fish and Chips. At Bayleaf, the fish comes enclosed in a crunchy batter while the chips is your common shoe-string fries.

However, at Shahzan Inn, the fish and chips comes with two large fillets, enveloped in a thin and tasty batter while the chips are thick and soft inside. For indulgence, request for extra tartare sauce to eat with your chips.

If you are on a shoe-string budget and want to serve good fish and chips at home, shop at the frozen department of the supermarket for a choice of fish in batter by Gorton’s, an imported brand or go Malaysian with our Malaysian brand Pacific West, which has many varieties of fish in batter. A good try would be the Alaskan Pollock, which comes in a true British batter and tastes exactly how fish and chips ought to.

Whatever you choose, don’t forget to balance off your meal with some greens and lots of water to wash away the grease.

Splendid Spread

Street Food


PENANG
NEW LANE
Open 1pm-late. Traders’ day off varies but most close on Wednesdays

NEW Lane is one of the best places in town to get a feel of Penang’s grastronomic offerings. With about 40-odd stalls operating on both sides of the lane, the choices are seemingly endless – from noodles to satay, freshly made apom balik to piping hot kuih dadar. Take a walk around the stalls before making that difficult choice of what to eat.



Many come here for the intestine porridge or chee cheong chook. Pork intestines are marinated in sugar and sauces and then smoked before being deep fried. The crunchy, peppery intestines are served on mushy, smooth porridge with offal added. The only stall that offers this opens at 1pm, and the porridge usually runs out by 7pm.

Also good is the pork satay from the Satay & Ayam Panggang stall (opposite Maxim Cafe). The pork satay is succulent while the peanut sauce (tangy thanks to the addition of tamarind juice) will perk up your appetite for more!

Some stalls on New Lane open early in the afternoon, while most only start their business after 5pm.


KAMPUNG BARU, KUALA LUMPUR
Nasi Lemak Raja Abdullah
15, Jalan Raja Abdullah, Kg Baru
Open 7am-10pm. Closed during Raya

THE first thing you’ll sniff out at this 21-year-old stall is the aromatic rice, steamed in a wooden bucket with coconut milk and pandan leaves. Join the morning queue to pick what you fancy – chicken rendang, sambal sotong, etc.



The sambal ikan bilis here tends to be sweet rather than spicy. The deep-fried paru (beef lungs) are especially good, served with a mix of shredded deep-fried lemongrass, ginger and galangal. You’ll need to get here early if you’re after this dish, as it tends to run out quickly.

For lunch, a variety of dishes are served, including asam pedas and masak lemak cili api, as the owners hail from Malacca. In the evenings, nasi lemak is served from 5pm.


KOTA BARU
Yati Ayam Percik
847, Jalan Long Yunus (Jalan Pekeliling). Tel: 09-747 9867
Open Saturdays to Thursdays noon-11.30pm / Fridays 3-11.30pm

SURE, the ayam percik here is fantastic – but the nasi kerabu is simply to die for! Most folks swear by it. The fluffy rice comes with heaps of vegetables such as bean sprouts, finely cut cabbage and polygonum leaves, as well as budu (fermented anchovy sauce), kerisik, sambal and fish crackers. Mix it all together for a wonderful burst of flavours in your mouth.

There are three colours of rice available – white, yellow and blue. The daging bakar or roast beef is tender and aromatic. Kerutup ayam – a type of rendang synonymous with the East Coast – is another good choice; the chocolate-coloured kerutup is full of spices with a tinge of sweetness but isn’t spicy.

Pesto-Infused Dishes

By ESTHER CHANDRAN


ISN’T it amazing how the combination of the simplest of ingredients like pine nuts, basil, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and cheese makes a rather versatile sauce?

Ardent cooks would have recognised these as essential ingredients in making pesto — the likeable green sauce covered in olive oil that is excellent on toasted bruschetta, pizza or tossed in a dish of pasta.


Crunchy toast: Homemade bread with Feta Cheese and Black Olives is an ideal starter while waiting for your main course to arrive.

This flavoursome paste is also incredible when just a dollop is spread over barbecued meats and fish or grilled prawns and steak.

Or take it a step further and add a spoonful to mashed potatoes or baked ones and it is also a good accompaniment to scrambled eggs and omelette.

Whether you call it a paste or sauce, it originates in Genoa, Italy, deriving its name from the Latin root word pestle which means to crush or grind.

Of course, to make grass green pesto, fresh basil is a must.

And if you’re still scratching your head trying to figure out what it tastes like, perhaps the folk at Porto Romano might win you over with some of their new and likeable pesto favourites.


Canadian treat: Canadian oysters are served on a bed of ice with lemon wedges and the Porto Romano chilli sauce offering a spicy tangy taste to the freshly shucked oysters.

Owner Eddie Wong confesses his deep liking for pesto-infused dishes.

“For the longest time, I have wanted to include pesto dishes on the menu but all the ingredients required to make it are imported. Hence, costing was always a concern.

“But we decided to introduce pesto dishes because we knew our customers would take to them,” he said when dining at the dimly lit upper floor of the Mont Kiara outlet recently.

He said both the pesto dishes - Spaghetti with Pesto Sauce and Chicken Strips and Pizza with Pesto and Chicken had become fast favourites with those who had tried them.

Parmesan cheese, he said was the preferred cheese in the outlet’s pesto sauce.


Hearty oxtail: This Oxtail Soup is a new addition on the soup section at Porto Romano. It is robust in flavour as the tomato-based soup is aromatic and flavourful.

The spaghetti strands came coated with pesto in extra virgin olive oil and chicken strips proved to be the perfect choice as the additional flavour.

We were indeed merry when we bit into the thin crust pizza, sharing notes on the delightful effect of pesto against the famous Italian flat bread.

Another addition to Porto Romano’s plethora of dishes is the aromatic tomato-based and herb- flavoured Oxtail Soup.

It is as the menu says, hearty and homey because it was easy to get hooked to the succulent soup with each spoonful.

But before we got down to the heavyweights of the night, Wong and his wife Sonila Hajderasi pampered us with a serving of freshly shucked greyish white Canadian oysters priced at RM42+ per half dozen.

As six pieces would have been inadequate for our party of five, a dozen of those wonderful oceanic treasures nicely propped up on a bed of ice were placed before us.

Lemon wedges accompanied the serving of oysters which were good with a touch of tang and even better with a drop or two of homemade Porto Romano chilli sauce.

I knew that Wong would not be serving the Stinco d’Agnello - Lamb Shank, my personal favourite on the main course but would instead unveil a main course I had never tried before.

It turned out to be the Moussaka, a classic Mediterranean favourite that is best known in its Greek form.

Hajderasi, who is Albanian, is familiar with the dish as it is also part of her cuisine.

Bearing similarity to the Greek version, the Moussaka is a generous serving with minced lamb, eggplant, capsicum, onions, carrot and garlic with a layer of bechamel with cheese to hide its rough texture.

With all that carbohydrates and meat, the Sole Fish Fillet grilled and served with lemon butter sauce lightened our load a little.

Of course, a meal is not complete until dessert shows itself and our meal ended with a rich and heavy Tiramisu.

The many paintings on the walls are by Hajderasi’s father who spent his recent holiday in Malaysia painting familiar scenes back in Albania and those of neighbouring lands.

The Mont Kiara outlet is the recent addition to the Porto Romano family. The other outlets are in Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Ampwalk (relocated from City Square).

RISTORANTE PORTO ROMANO, K-1, Mont Kiara Banyan, 28, Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-6207 8171 - Mont Kiara, 03-2162 6799 - Ampwalk, 03-7710 0509 - Taman Tun Dr Ismail). Business hours: 11am to 11pm daily.