Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Empress Cafe, The Curve

I remember an outlet named Bayou in Mont Kiara. It used to be rather well-known when Mont Kiara and its surrounding area (Desa Hartamas) started getting popular. Some of their better-known dishes were Vietnamese Beef Noodles and Nasi Dagang (or was it Nasi Bokhari) but I remember being bowed over by their Embuk, which was similar to a wet popiah. To my dismay, the outlet later closed down.

However, not too long ago, I read that they re-emerged under a different name, Empress Cafe at The Curve. The first thing that came to mind was to go and have their Embuk again.
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Interior of Empress Cafe

Their menu is rather extensive with offerings of local, Asian and Western dishes. After ordering, we were served a very nice warm soft bun with butter. So old-school ya?!
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I went straight for their Embuk which I have been craving for.
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Embuk (aka Popiah)
Stuffed to the brim with ingredients, I like it a lot (ya, I like my popiahs to be really fat!) although I wasn't as awed by it as I used to be. Maybe it's because since then, I also found other similar "fat" popiahs at less than half the price...

My lunch partner ordered a more hearty meal, the Kampung Fried Rice.
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Yummy Kampung Fried Rice
It looked very appetizing topped with a perfectly fried egg not to mention the fried rice had a very nice colour (yes, the colour does matter in determining a good fried rice). I stole a few bites and although I am no fan of fried rice, I really have to give my thumbs up for it! Accompanied with their addictive sambal chili, each bite was simply a delight!

We were given some complimentary desserts after the meal. There's no name for this dessert. Just some sweet red bean paste encassed in a puff pastry served with some chilled heavy custard. Although simple, it was rather good and I enjoyed it.
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Complimentary dessert - Red Bean in Puff Pastry

On my way out, I spied some traditional coconut candies on their counter top. I remember as a child, I used to be fond of this Indian sweet so I bought some.
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Traditional coconut candies
The coconut candies were quite a delight! No doubt it was sweet (as expected) but not intolerably so. Best savoured in small bites though.

Empress Cafe
Groundfloor, The Curve
Mutiara Damansara

Monday, September 24, 2007

Quick & Easy! Chocolate Almond Cream Cake

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My darling Julius turned 2 months not a couple of weeks back. I suddenly felt the urge to bake to mark the occassion so I baked a really quick and easy simple Chocolate Almond Cream Cake. But poor Julius, he won't be getting any of it (I didn't want to encourage him to have a sweet-tooth although his mistress is already one). Chocolates are bad for dogs anyway...

To make the cake, combine 2 cups of water, 600g of sugar, 35g cocoa powder, 1t baking soda and 250g chopped butter in a heavy-bottom pot and heat without boiling till all the sugar is dissolved. Then, bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for about 5 mins. Turn off heat and let it cool a bit. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in about 450g of sifted self-raising flour and 4 eggs. Beat till mixture is smooth. Pour into a greased and lined 8" pan and bake at 175c for about 45-50 mins or when cake is done when tested with skewer. Cover top with foil if it browns too fast. Cool for about 5 mins in pan before removing it and transferring to the rack to cool completely before frosting. Once completely cooled, slice into 2 layers before sandwiching them with buttercream.
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For the buttercream, beat 125g softenend butter, 125g margarine and 80g icing sugar together till light and fluffy. Add in about 100g melted cooking chocolate (cooled) and mix till even. Frost cake and sprinkle with chocolate rice and toasted almond flakes.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Izzi Damansara Uptown

My friend and I were at Izzi, Damansara Uptown recently to take advantage of the HSBC Special Promotion (which ends on 18th Sep.) in conjunction with their opening whereby cardholders are entitled to 75% discount of the total bill for every spending above RM100 per bill.

Initially, we didn't know that the minimum spending has to be RM100 per bill in order to be entitled to the discount. So we had to literally racked our mind to order more food than usual or choose the pricier items in the menu.... (kiasu but so what...)

It turned out we need not worry, the portions weren't large at all. I am not sure if what we had that night was their standard serving size or whether did they downsize the dishes in view of the 75% discount. But if it is the former, I have to say that their serving size might be too small for what they are charging for it given the fact that this is not a fine-dining restaurant.

Back to their food, this was what we ended up ordering:
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Caesar Salad (1/2 portion - RM12.80) with Grilled Chicken (add RM6.80)
The chicken looks dry in the picture, right? Well, it was. Dry and tasteless. Shouldn't have added the chicken. The salad was nothing to shout about. Just average although it comes with 2 salted anchovies.

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Deep-fried Calamari Rings (RM13.80)
Batter was not crispy enough. Calamaris were slightly too chewy and rubbery. Not much taste but thank goodness for the chilli sauce.

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Roasted Imported Steak with Ratatouille Pasta with Balsamico Sauce (RM36.80)
We asked for medium done. Eee.., so not impressed with this dish. I have never seen such as thin slice of steak except maybe at kopitiam that serves western food. Looks more like a pan-fried pork chop and the pasta tasted like a chinese-style fried mee with chopped vegetables.

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Pizza Marinara (Regular: RM27.80)
This was not too bad. At least the seafood, tomato sauce and cheese tasted fresh. Regular is actually an 8-inch pizza. Not generous with the seafood too.

My review sounds pretty bleak so far, no? Well, all's not lost. Thank goodness for desserts. They have quite a selection of delicious-looking desserts on display in a glass counter. Initially we only wanted to order one but yielded to temptation since most of them looked so yummy!

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Sweet Pleasure (I love this dessert after tasting it at Bakerzin and later at where it originated from, Pierre Hermé in Paris where it was known as Plaisir Sucré). Their version, with the layers of hazelnut dacqouise and praline, milk chocolate ganache, milk chocolate with whipped cream in between layers of thin sheets of chocolate, still managed to satisfy my sweet tooth although not as refined as its more famous predecessors.

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I forgot what this was called. But it has layers of chocolate mousse flavoured with Earl Grey tea with a raspberry syrup center on a light layer of chocolate sponge and coated with dark chocolate.
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Not bad too with the light hint of Earl Grey.

The total bill came up to about RM50 (after 75% discount) for all the above inclusive of 2 bottomless Cokes. For this price, the meal was rather a bargain despite its less-than-impressive main meals. But without the discount, I would not plan to return although I might make an exception for their desserts....

IZZI Italian & Asian Cuisine
Damansara Uptown (2 doors away from HSBC and Starbucks)
Telephone and Delivery : +603 77290855

Julius' 1st Outing and A Reunion

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Read about his first outing and his first reunion with his brother Caesar here.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Som Tum & Thai Salad in USJ Summit

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Som tum (classic green papaya Thai salad)
I have a thing for som tum (classic green papaya Thai salad). In Bangkok, it's so easy to find a good one since they are like a staple to them. Just like our nasi lemak. Sadly in KL, it's not so easy to find good som tum.

However, recently I have found 2 which were pretty good for a "Made in Malaysia" version.
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First one is a "no-name" restaurant on the first floor (or was it the 2nd?) in Summit USJ (use the escalator nearest to Black Canyon which is located on Ground Floor. It is located very near to the escalator) . Not sure if I can even call it a restaurant, it looks more like a food court. There's no proper signage except a banner that says "Thai Food". They have quite a selection of hawker-styled Thai food. This place is pretty hidden in a corner. In fact, I only discovered it by chance. When I was there, business was rather slow although it was during lunch time on a weekend. Probably due to the fact that not many people could have known about their presence.

Food here seems pretty authentic. Anyhow, my eyes were drawn to the som tum making station and I quickly ordered one (see pic above) and it was pretty good. The salad (RM4) here was well-seasoned and well-pounded and topped with generous sprinkles of crunchy anchovies and roasted peanuts. It packed quite a punch too even for me who loves spicy stuff and can usually tolerate high level of spiciness. My lips were pretty numbed after finishing the salad. But one can always asks the waiter to adjust the level of spiciness according to your preference.
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Sweet mango with pandan-flavaoured sticky rice
To help reduce my "flaming lips" from consuming the som tum, I ordered the sweet mango with pandan-flavaoured sticky rice. It looked yummy but eeew..., bad choice. The mango was definitely not sweet. And I suspected that the coconut milk that they lathered on the dessert wasn't so fresh either. I couldn't tolerate more than a couple of mouthfuls.

In the same shopping complex, you can find Black Canyon (located on Ground Floor). If you have been to Bangkok, you will know that Black Canyon is pretty popular there and they have outlets all over the city. Over there, I like their version of pad thai very much. Over here, it is their Spicy Tuna Salad.
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Spicy Tuna Salad
It tastes like som tum but without the green papaya and other vege. Only chunks of tuna and baby onions with lemongrass in a spicy and tangy light dressing. Very refreshing and very appetizing! Serving size is not consistent though. And sometimes they served this with more leafy salad greens on the side, other time, it's just ONE leaf (the picture in their menu portrayed otherwise). Sometimes, they serve this with whole raw baby chilli (cili padi) on the side, and other times, just a few stalks of dried chilli. But taste wise, it has been pretty consistent so far. Very nice indeed!
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Iced Black Canyon Coffee
They have a pretty comprehensive coffee menu as well. Their coffees are not bad too.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What's new with little Julius?

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If you have been wandering how's little Julius doing, go take a peek here: