Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing Everyone A Merry & Joyous Christmas!

It's my most favourite time of the year again.... It's Christmas time! So what have you got planned? Any "chestnuts roasting on open fire" and "Jack Frost nipping at your nose"? Over here, you would probably see the former being roasted by a roadside seller using charcoal over a big wok anywhere and the only "Jack Frost" nipping at your nose is probably from the blast of chilly cold air-cond. Anyhow, now matter where you are, Christmas is as lovely anyway so long it already happened in your heart.

So here's wishing everyone a truly wonderful and blessed Christmas!

Christmas, a time for sharing and a time for giving gifts,
But most importantly, it is a time for remembering the greatest gift ever given,

And here's the recipe to the wonderful flourless chocolate cupcakes you see above. Especially good when served warm with cold ice-cream but just as delectable simply topped with macadamia nuts or frosted with chocolate ganache.

Easy Flourless Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
(Makes apx. 10 cupcakes)
100g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1/2c + 1/4c sugar (increase if choc is bitter)
1+3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 175c. Grease muffin pans and dust generously with extra sifted cocoa powder (if you find that you are using a lot, take some from the portion allocated above in the ingredients).
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a medium bowl set over a simmering pot of water, or zap in microwave for a quick fix. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla, eggs and cocoa. Mix well.
Pour into muffin pans and bake for 15-16mins or until done. Cool in pans for 5 mins before turning them out to be cooled completely on wire racks. If you are frosting, make sure the cakes are completely cooled before frosting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nero Teca - My Favourite Place for Long & Lazy Brunches

My ideal place to have long brunches or lunches. Good food, great stock of vino, cozy ambience and great company - nothing could be better...

I love their complimentary focaccia. Either dipped with a good balsamic vinegar in olive oil or with salted anchovies and some whole olives.

I am usually spoilt for choice when it comes to picking something from their menu. But the first thing I look at is their weekly special menu. Usually something different and usually never tasted anything but good. But there are several tried-and-tested dishes that I usually go for such as the hearty Bruschetta Speciale (chicken, spinach, sundried tomatoes and melted goat cheese); Romagnola (open piadina bread with parma ham and buffalo mozzarella); the lovely and bright Genovese Salad (mesclun and rocket salad with chili mustard, asparagus, prawns, roast capsicum, smoked salmon, codfish, tuna and cherry tomatoes) or if I can make it in time before their breakfast hour ends, their Tonica breakfast set that comes with espresso, apple and celery juice, two fried eggs with mushroom, rocket salad and parmesan cheese. Simple ingredients but brings about delicate flavors that are both exquisitely light and balanced

Not to be missed are their selection of desserts. They do one of the better "tiramisu" in town as well as a very good panna cotta. And for coffee drinkers, their coffee is excellent, from the simple black coffee to latte.

Nero Teca (
Ground floor, Somerset
8 Lorong Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03/2070 0530

Friday, November 28, 2008

D'Empire Brasserie @ Solaris Mont Kiara

Pan-seared Canadian Cod
Nestled in the maze of pubs, cafes and eateries within Solaris Mont Kiara is this rather cozy corner bistro-like restaurant serving basically European/Italian fare. Twas was a friend's birthday and there was a big group of us. A variety of dishes were ordered although unfortunately, I only managed to take pictures of those that were within my vicinity.

Some starters were ordered but I was a little late and forgot what was served. However I do remember their personal pizzas were really good. Laddened with hearty ingredients with a thin and somewhat crispy base, it was how I like my pizza to be (sorry, no pic). The same thing can't be said about the soup that we ordered though. I couldn't really remember whether was it seafood minestrone or seafood chowder.
Seafood minestrone or seafood chowder? Presentation was better and not as above, we redistributed it into smaller bowls, hence the "messy rim".
I was expecting a thick type of soup for it was mentioned in the menu that it came with some bread. As a matter of fact, the soup was rather thin and lacked of flavour despite the rather generous seafood given. There was also no bread in sight but we did not pursue the matter as we were given an additional complimentary small bowl of the soup (sucker for free stuff, lol). Also, I doubt the bread would help the rather 'thin' soup much.

For my main, I ordered their special of the day which was not on their menu, Pan-seared Canadian Cod (apx. RM60 / pictured above). How was it? To be frank, it's rather easy not to go wrong with a good piece of cod as most of its flavour comes from its thick and creamy flesh. However, my main was just slightly overcooked and there wasn't anything partcularly exciting about the way it was cooked or the accompanying condiments. Overall, it was still decent
Seafood Pasta done aglio olio style
2 types of pastas were also ordered, one is seafood and the other is spicy sausage (or something that sounds similar). Both are done aglio olio style. My friends who ordered did not have any complaints. I stole a few bites and find it slightly too bland, even for an aglio olio style pasta. Also, the addition of chinese parsley seems a bit out of place, rendering the dish to taste like noodles cooked chinese-style.
Spicy Sausage Pasta done aglio olio style
Desserts were nothing to shout about (hence no photo too) and I would give it a miss although I wouldn't mind returning for their yummy pizzas.

D'Empire Brasserie
22 Ground Floor,
Jalan Solaris 4, Solaris Mont Kiara,
Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 603- 6203 6887

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Opera Cake "Wannabe"

Chocolate Opera Wannabe Cake
This is a cheater's guide to making an Opera Cake. In fact, I wouldn't really call it a classic Opera Cake. A more apt description would be "Chocolate Opera Wannabe Cake". Well, when time and ingredients do not permit one to bake an almond sponge base, one would have to make do with a normal plain sponge. Here's what I did:

Slice the baked and cooled sponge cake into a few layers, and spread a layer of Baileys-flavoured chocolate hazelnut buttercream. Chill it for awhile then top with a layer of chocolate ganache. Chill again till the chocolate ganache hardens. Repeat the above. On impromptu, I also added a generous sprinkle of crushed peanuts and biscuit crumbs in between the layers to make up for the feeling of a "slightly crunchy almond sponge cake". Once done, frost and decorate the cake with leftover buttercream, chocolate ganache and biscuit crumbs.
Chocolate Opera Wannabe Cake

The cake (sans baking time) and frostings took me a matter of minutes to prepare. The frosting and decorating? A matter of hours, no thanks to clumsy and amateurish fingers as well as unco-operative hot and humid weather.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lunching @ Koryo-Won Korean Restaurant, Suria KLCC

One fine afternoon, a few old friends and I made plans to lunch in KLCC. Usually, I tend to think that the dining options at KLCC are not what I would call “exciting”. However, a friend suggested a “new Korean place” that according to her, had just opened not too long ago at KLCC so we decided to give it a go.
Upon arrival, the “new Korean place” turned out to be Koryo-won, not exactly a new place as there’s one (not sure if it’s still around) that had been around for a long time just across the road.
Browsing through the menu, I could see standard Korean fare. As it was lunch, some set lunches options were also available. In the habit of sharing food, we ordered a few dishes.
Banchans (mini appetizers)
A customary prelude to most Korean meal is the serving of a variety of banchans (mini appetizers). This is one of my favourite parts of a Korean meal; and the fact that since most restaurants generously offer “free refills” too. Not so for this restaurant however. I couldn’t recall what we were told but after having 3 refills (not 3 rounds), we were told we couldn’t have any more unless we pay for it. I think the reason had got something to do with the number of ala-carte main dishes that we ordered. Nonetheless, we weren’t too pleased with their reasoning, nor the manner we were told.

Beef Bulgogi
The Beef Bulgogi was alright. Tender thin slices of grilled beef fillet in saltish-sweetish sauce, it tasted best when paired with plain white rice.

Kimchi Chigae
Another favourite dish of mine and which I usually ordered at Korean restaurants is the Kimchi Chigae which is some sort of a spicy vegetables stewed in kimchi broth. The serving size of this is really miniscule (the photo you see above is misleading as it's just a close-up) although not uncommon. Again, it tasted just mediocre. It just didn’t have the right “zing” for us.

Bibimbap in Hot Stone Bowl
I love Bibimbaps! There is something about tossing plain white rice with a variety condiments topped with a raw egg in the sweetish spicy bean sauce that proves to be really addictive! Even better is having it in a hot stone bowl. The slightly charred rice at the bottom of the bowl provides a delicious crunch.

Aside from the above, a friend who came later ordered their beef bulgogi set lunch which came served in a bento box not unlike what you see (here) except for the fact that it is almost 3x the price as compared to the latter. (eeks!) Then again, this is in KLCC-lah so one can hardly expect the price to be cheap. Still, I find paying RM8 for a glass of cold green tea to be too much although it came with free refills (however it seeems like they refill the glass with just plain water).

Also, we were less than amused with their service. We weren’t in the mood to put up with sulky waiters and waitresses who bordered on being rude. During the course of our lunch, one waitress actually broke something twice, one of it being rather near to our table with nary an apology. Geez! No prize in guessing that we would definitely not be in a hurry for a revisit!

Koryo-Won Korean Restaurant
Level 4 Ramlee Mall (418/419)

Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre
Tel: 603- 2171 2189/ 603- 2166 6189

Link to this article published in Sunday Star, Metro 11-01-2009

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Korean Street Food @ Ccozi & Friends

Yummy Tuna Kimchi Rice Balls (RM8.00)
Truth to be told, I love street food/snacks. When travelling, put me in an area lined wth local street food and I will be extremely delighted. Similarly, I was delighted to have discovered this little outlet that specializes in Korean street food. Nestled in the maze-like Asian Avenue in Sunway Pyramid, it is not exactly easy to find. I could only describe its location as being somewhere on the 'right-hand side', in the 'middle' of the avenue.

The outlet itself is rather small, more like a stall. There are a few small tables with "not exactly comfortable" bar stools. It is hard to imagine how a group bigger than 3-4 persons could dine there comfortably.

Ccozi & Friends offer quite a variety of light eats ranging from various meat skewers, ddok bok ki (korean sliced rice cakes), stuffed rice balls, student lunch boxes served in metal tins, noodles and meals in hot stone bowls. The Tuna Kimchi Rice Balls (pictured above) that we ordered were delicious! I wasn't really expecting that I would like it so much but tuna flakes in slightly spicy kimchi sauce rolled together with the fluffy and slightly moist rice proved to be a delectable combination!

Grilled Chicken Bulgalbi (Korean BBQ Sauce) RM4.50
The Grilled Chicken Bulgalbi (Korean BBQ Sauce) skewers tasted as good as it looked in their menu although I would have preferred it to be served to us in skewer stick as seen in their menu rather than just serve the meat pieces on a plate minus the skewer stick. I reckon the latter is more convenient for the patrons but it just didn't look so good"lah". Fortunately, the chicken was delicious. Juicy, slightly smokey and really flavourful!

Delicious Ddok Bok Ki (korean rice sticks) (RM8 - 9.50)
Ever since I keep seeing the ddok bok ki (korean rice sticks) in korean dramas, I have been curious as to how they actually tasted for they sure look yummy drenched in the vibrant red sauce. So we ordered a plate of ddok bok ki with vegetables to share. Indeed it did not disappoint. The ddok bok ki was not unlike our cheongfun except that it has a thicker and more chewy bite to it. Together with the slightly sweet and spicy sauce, every bite was delicious!

One of us also ordered their hotstone bibimbap. I didn't try so couldn't comment on it. But it didn't really look that irresistable, for otherwise I would not be able to resist trying, would I?

Ccozi & Friends
First Floor, Asian Avenue
Sunway Pyramid
Link to this article published in Sunday Metro, The Star on 30 Nov 2008
Other reviews:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Assam Laksa with a Twist (Well Cook Gourmet)

Ever heard of "assam laksa goreng" (fried assam laksa)? I haven't till I read it here. I thought to myself, "how unique and innovative"; and since I stay in the same area there is no reason not to satisfy my curiosity.
And this is how it looked like. Loaded with generous servings of shredded chicken, cucumber, pineapple and shallots, and topped with natural taste enhancers such as torch flower (bunga kantan), mint leaves and a squeeze of lime, the dish was appetizing and well-flavoured. However, it reminded me of a spiced-up and more tangy version of mee goreng. I thought the absence of the two most important ingredients; chunks of fish meat and har koh (prawn paste) automatically disqualifies it from being called assam laksa, fried or otherwise.

The outlet also serves quite a decent version of popiah. The popiah was fat and juicy, and generously loaded with fillings. Although not the best that I have tasted (still prefer SS2 Sakura popiah), it was decent enough. However, I thought it is rather expensive at RM2.50 for one roll or RM4.50 for 2 rolls.

Restaurant Well Cook Gourmet
74, Jalan SS 14/2, Subang Jaya
(along the same road as the famous nasi lemak stall in the corner kopitiam)
Open from 12pm - 9pm

Other reviews:
KampungBoy Citygal

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Favourite Moist Chocolate Cake (No-bake)

Moist Chocolate Cake topped with dark chocolate fudge
Rich and luscious, moist yet fluffy; these are the words to describe my favourite chocolate cake. Not only mine, but my family's too. Best of all, the recipe is really simple and easy. It requires no baking, but is steamed instead. Therefore, it is also suitable for those who do not have an oven. And if you do not have a mixer, no worries. Just boil and stir. Too good to be true? Try it yourself and you shall see...

Recipe for Steamed Moist Chocolate Cake
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup good quality cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter (250g)
¾ tsp instant coffee powder

3 large eggs (lightly beaten)
½ cup condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla extract (vanilla essence will do)
1 ¼ cup plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Mix A together and cook over low fire until sugar is completely melted. Stir constantly to prevent burned bottom. Set aside to cool.
Mix A and B together until well-blended.
Sift C together and add into the mixed liquid mixture. Mix well until there are no lumps of flour to be seen.
Pour into a greased 8" (and lined) round pan and steam over high heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Check for doneness by inserting a skewer into center of cake.

Cool in pan for 5 mins. Remove from pan carefully and let cool completely on rack.
Serve plain or with chocolate fudge. Cake is also suitable for frosting.
*Recipe courtesy of my SIL.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Set Menu @ Celestial Court, Imperial Hotel KL

Recently, my friends and I found ourselves back at the opulent Celestial Court again to sample their newly introduced set menu, thanks to the invitation from FoodStreet. Named Ying, Yang and Jing respectively, each of the set menu came with a carefully selected set of 8 to 9 dishes. Pricing per pax starts from RM98++(Ying), RM128++(Yang) and RM158++(Jing) with a minimum of 6 pax. As there were only 4 of us that night, we were served with a selection of 5 dishes from all 3 of the set menus.

Braised Shredded Abalone with Dried Scallop and Roasted Duck Meat
Starting with Braised Shredded Abalone with Dried Scallop and Roasted Duck Meat (from the Ying menu), the thick soup was tasty albeit a tad salty for our liking with a somewhat strong medicinal aroma (although not in a bad way), probably from the chinese herbs used in creating this tummy-warming soup.

Roasted Baby Duckling
Next to arrive was the Roasted Baby Duckling (from the Ying menu). To be honest, as far as I could remember, that was my first time having baby duckling although to me, I would have said that it's roasted pigeon if I didn't know better.
Anyhow, the roasted duckling was exactly how it should be; glossy thin skin fried till delicately crispy, with juicy sweet flesh within. The melting tenderness of the fatty parts would surely be a delight to those who knew how to enjoy it.

Stir-fried Prawn Roasted Minced Garlic
Easily the most popular dish of the night was the Stir-fried Prawn Roasted Minced Garlic (from the Jing menu). Big fat de-shelled prawns tumbled with lots of fragrant roasted minced garlic. The jumbo-sized prawns were sweet and bouncy yet firm to bite, indicating the freshness of the seafood. A definite hit for us!

Braised Vermicelli with Seafood
The Braised Vermicelli with Seafood (from the Yang menu) was a delicious jumble of seafood tossed amongst noodles and leafy vegetables. This noodle dish was generous with the fresh assorted seafood, if just a tad salty.

Double Boiled Snow Fungus with Sea Coconut and Lotus Seed
The Double Boiled Snow Fungus with Sea Coconut and Lotus Seed (from the Jing menu) provided a sweet ending to our meal. Although served warm, the nutritious sweet soup was cooling and refreshing although we would have liked it more if it was a little bit less sweet.

It was a delight to see that the restaurant currently offers a 50% discount for senior citizens as I am pretty sure my parents would have enjoyed the menu under the luxurious ambience of Celestial Court. In addition, diners who ordered the set menu will also receive complimentary parking.

Celestial Court
Hotel Imperial Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Phone 60 3 2717 9900

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pan Mee Triology (Face To Face, Home Recipe, Sec.14 Medan Selera)

Recognize this?
The potent yet vital ingredient for a decent chilli pan mee, popularized by the much-talked-about Kin Kin in KL and made available almost everywhere by Face To Face chain of outlets that specializes in various styles of pan mee.
I don't think I would bother ordering the classic soup pan mee at Face To Face. But their version of chilli pan mee is not bad. It is actually dry pan mee in dark sauce topped with a poached egg, some minced meat and fried anchovies. 4 types of chilli are available at every table.
Pick your choice, generously sprinkle onto your pan mee, burst the yolk, give it a swirl and slurp it all up. Oishi!!!

A colleague introduced me to this stall in the Section 14 Medan Selera in PJ. She told me they sell a decent pan mee. I gave it a try one day and find their classic pan mee in soup to be mediocre. It's not that it wasn't delicious, but defintely nothing to remember by.

Another time, I decided to give Home Recipe kopitiam (which was located next to the famous Paramount Garden pan mee shop) a try after I saw their rather huge banner advertising their home-cooked style pan mee. I was thinking, if they dared to put up such a big advertisement just right outside their restaurant which is located next to a "always crowded famous pan mee shop", it must at least be something, right?
If I am not mistaken, a standard bowl costs slightly more expensive than average pan mee sold at kopitiam. However, it was a rather big serving and loaded with ingredients. I pretty much remembered that the pan mee was rather obviously outnumbered by the vegetables and other stuff. In fact, after I'd finished eating all the pan mee, the bowl was still swimming with loads of ingredients. I would say it was a pretty decent bowl of pan mee although I think it could be better if they reduce or eliminate the use of garlic (or was it shallot?) oil in their soup. Too garlicky for my liking...

Where to find:-
Face To Face (various outlets in Klang Valley, including SS15 Subang Jaya).
Medan Selera Section 14, PJ.
Home Recipe, Sea Park, PJ. (Updated 21/11/2008: Outlet closed.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quest Accomplished! Fatty Pan Mee (Mee Hoon Kueh), Klang

Fatty Pan Mee, Taman Berkeley, Klang
Being a fan of pan mee, it has been on my mind for quite a long while (a couple of years) to try the much raved "famous mee hoon kueh (pan mee)" in Taman Berkeley, Klang. So what stopped me before? It's the location. Although staying in Subang, Klang is as alien to me as Mars. Without a real-life guide, I don't trust myself in not getting lost armed with just some verbal directions. But this was then. Some kind souls had since taken the trouble to post some direction map on the net and lately, I have managed to venture in and out of Klang a couple of times successfully and that boost my confidence a fair bit.
So on one fine afternoon, with a printed map and some very precise verbal directions, I finally set on this much-awaited quest together with two other pan mee fans. Surprisingly, it wasn't hard to locate the place. In fact it was rather easy-peasy; and left me feeling kind of foolish over my previous apprehensions.
Where the action is.
The shop iteself it rather small and "old" and is a little less clean that I would have cared for. As it was slightly before 12 noon, there was a couple of small tables still available. Two of us ordered the classic pan mee in soup with additional poached egg while another asked for added vegetables. Waiting time was tolerable, about 15 minutes (which was nothing compared to what I had to endure here).

So, how did it fare?
Hand-shredded pan mee in soup with additional poached egg (that is hidden from view).
I like the hand-shredded dough very much. Although hand-shredded, the thickness level was evenly thin with just the right bite to it. But that's the best feature of this pan mee. The soup base, although light tasting (not so oily) could be better with a more enhanced aroma and taste of the all-important anchovy stock. The standard serving without additional vegetables only came with a mere 2 stalks of leafy vegetables. But my biggest disappointment has to be the accompanying chilli. The only type provided is cut chilli that you drench in soy sauce. My must-have is those pounded cili padi type which I feel, when made very well could elevate a sub-standard pan mee to "star" status. All in all, it is one of the better ones around town but to me, also belongs to the category "trying once is enough" and not something that I would travel all the way to Klang for.

Stay tuned for more adventures of pan mee...

PS on Notebook Status: Notebook is still in workshop. This post is posted via a temporary notebook and photos are courtesy of my friend, Ann.
PPS: Directions given in "Comments"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Temporary Break

Poor notebook has been sent to the workshop and left me feeling "handicapped" for the past few days. Without it, I realized how much my life actually revolves around it, particularly when I am at work. On the other hand, no other better excuse to slow things down and take life easier at the workplace (heehee). Boss asked me to get a new one but after considering his suggestions, "no siree, thanks but no thanks." I rather stick to my old and faithful notebook. Hence, I have to stop blogging for a bit until my notebook is once again up and running in one piece. Hopefully it will not be too long.

Till later....

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Kitchen Experiments Update: Part 1 (Cooking)

This blog was initially started to keep track of my baking/cooking experiments, a hobby that I picked up about 3 yeas ago. In those days, I was baking non-stop almost every other day if not everday, until the intervention of my mother who told me that she couldn't sleep at night because the smell of baking that permeated the air and seeped into her bedroom was distracting her from falling asleep (on weekdays, I could only bake after 9pm). Nowadays, my baking/cooking posts had become almost none-existent. But anyway, here are 2 fairly recent cooking experiments (fairly in a sense that it occurred this year, not last).

I am not a fan of noodles in general, but I do like cold noodle dishes quite a lot, the Japanese cold soba or cha soba included. This noodle dish always seems to me as being pretty simple so I thought to myself why not recreate it at home. So here is my first try (pictured above and recipe below) and I am proud to say that it was a success. Don't worry about cooking too much. Noodles and broth can be kept in the fridge for a few days and can be conveniently consumed straight from the fridge. I usually pack them for lunch at work.

Easy Japanese Cold Soba Recipe (based on recipe found here)
200g soba
Optional: sesame oil and toasted black sesame seeds
Cook soba in boiling water for about 4 mins or until al-dente. Drain and immediately put the noodles under cold running water (or plunge them into ice cold water). Drain (give it a slight toss in the colander) and chill them in the fridge.
Optional: For a smoother taste, you can toss with a few drops of sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds.
Dipping Sauce/Broth
° Some dried kelps (look like large dried tea leaves in dry form and green algae-like/gelatinous sheets when soaked in water)
° 2 pcs dried Chinese mushroom (rinsed with water to remove dirt)
° 2 small pcs of ginger (sliced thinly to about about 1 inch in length)
° 375ml water
° 1T sugar or more (
according to taste)
° 2T (30ml) light Japanese soy sauce
° 1T (15ml) Chinese rice wine or use 2T mirin if this is available

Boil water with the dried kelps, mushroom and ginger. Lower fire and add in sugar, soy sauce and rice wine. Let it simmer for a minute. If not sweet enough at this stage, add a little bit more sugar. Strain the liquid into a bowl and let it chill in the fridge. You can slice the leftover mushroom and dried kelps into thin slices to be used as condiments later.

Garnishing (to serve): Spring onion (chopped thinly), toasted sesame seeds, mushroom and dried kelp slices (leftovers from cooking the broth), shredded roasted seaweed (nori) and wasabi paste. You can also add some cubed soft tofu for added protein.

Another time, I was in possession of a bottle of home-made Chinese rice wine, courtesy of a colleague. She even gave me a simple and easy recipe to cook Rice Wine Ginger Chicken. I tried the recipe and sure enough, it was easy and most importantly, the dish tasted great. The best part is obviously the broth. *slurps* Here's her recipe.
Home-cooked Chinese Rice Wine Ginger Chicken Recipe
1 chicken chopped into pieces (preferably free-range with head, feet and skin removed)
1 palm size "Bentong" old ginger (peeled and julienned)
Some dried chinese wood (black) fungus, pre-soaked
1/2 to 1 bottle of Chinese rice wine
1+1/2 bowl of water (not rice bowl but those slightly larger than rice bowl, think size of normal serving of asam laksa at kopitiam)
Seasoning: salt, sugar and sesame oil
1. Dry fry the chopped chicken to remove moisture. Careful not to cook it. Remove and set aside.
2. In a clean wok, stir fry ginger in a little corn oil until fragrant (slightly golden brown) or until crispy (this is even more fragrant but maybe more heaty).
3. Add in wood fungus and stir fry a little.
4. Add chicken and stir fry until chicken is just cooked.
5. Add water and bring to boil. Lower fire and add in rice wine.
6. Simmer for about 5 mins. Lastly add a little sugar, salt and sesame oil (optional) to achieve preferred taste.

- For better taste, it is important to use good quality "Bentong" ginger. If you do not want the dish to be "too fiery" in taste, reduce or halved the ginger portion but you should be aware that ginger is what will make or break this dish.
- Frozen chicken can also be used. Thaw thoroughly. Also note that they cook faster than free-range chicken so be careful not to overcook.
- You can adjust the qty of rice wine used. Don't worry, the alcohol effect will evaporate during the cooking process so do not worry about getting drunk from this dish. If you do prefer a milder wine taste, you can reduce the portion by half.

Look out for Part 2 of Kitchen Experiments Update (baking & desserts)

Set Lunch @ Korea House, SS2

One of the better lunch deals around this area. Starting from RM9.90 only per person (there are other pricier options), the varieties available are surprisingly quite a few.

I opted for a grilled fish set. Served in a bento box, it came together with a few side dishes such as the essential kimchi, slices of egg pancake, and other assorted vegetables-based appetizers.

I like the sauce that came with the grilled fish. Sweet-ish and slightly spicy, it was really appetizing. The fish itself was ok, no apparent fishy taste to it but boy, there was like a thousand small bones in the fish. It was annoying to keep having to pick the bones out from my mouth although I already tried to pick them out from the flesh before eating it. Really, really annoying....

My lunch partner chose the fried chicken option (or was it fried pork?). Anyhow, it was delicious. The batter was quite similar to "tempura" batter, being fluffy and crispy at the same time yet surprisingly, greaseless.
Edited: I think this dish is called Sweet Marinated Pork on the menu.

We were also served complimentary soup as starter as well as a dessert at the end of the meal. The complimentary soup was a simple and nourishing seaweed soup. I like! I can' really say the same for the dessert though. It was some kind of chilled ginger-based tongshui (sweet broth) but was too sweet for my tastebud.

Overall, I would still recommend this place for lunch. Their set lunches are a bargain, rice tea is complimentary and service was not bad too. Oh, I should also mention that all sets come with a bowl of rice.

Korea House
SS2, Petaling Jaya.
(Same row as Teapot Cafe, near the police station)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Haikara-Style Cafe & Bakery , Subang Jaya

Further down the block from Ben&Nick's is a little Japanese-styled cafe and bakery named Haikara. Small and quaint, and with the occassional delicious whiffs of something delicious being baked, one would immediately find the ambience cozy. The outlet was quiet on a late Sunday afternoon (probably because they were about to close for the day) except for a few patrons reading Japanese magazines and comics (which are provided for free reading) while sipping their coffee accompanied by yummy-looking pastries from their cake counter, which to my delight reminded me of those that I liked so much in Tokyo. In other words, petite in size with a touch of French-influence.

Their menu appeared to be rather simple. Most were westernized Japanese-cafe fare such as pastas (they serve Mentaiko Pasta here by the way), Japanese curries, salads, and light bites like sandwiches and Japanese croquettes.

I ordered a home-made daifuku or mochi that were displayed in their pastry corner for I was feeling rather famished and needed something to fill my tummy before the main meal arrive. I was a little let-down though. Costing RM2 a piece, the filling was too sweet (although most azuki paste tend to taste overly sweet) . It was not bad but I smugly told my friend that I prefer my own version like here and here. *lol*

Our sets came with complimentary soup and salad. The salad was typical Japanese-style garden salad. Crisp and fresh cucumber, tomatoes and shredded cabbage lightly dressed in creamy dressing.

The complimentary soup was rather special. When it first arrived, for a moment I thought it was a hot beverage. It looked more like hot water with bits of green herbs floating that a proper soup. See how clear it was:
Despite our initial doubts, it tasted pretty good. Simple uncomplicated flavours that spelt "comfort food". And what more, it was virtually grease-free.

My friend order their Japanese Curry with Rice set. One can also opt for Japanese Curry with Pasta or with Chicken Katsu . Nevertheless, both of us were rather surprised to see that it was what it was. The curry was plain with a few chunks of onions and potatoes but contained absolutely no meat. Portion of rice and curry sauce given were pretty generous but we reckon for the price (it was close to about twenty ringgit, if I remember correctly) there ought to be at least some scattered pieces in the curry instead of "nasi kari Jepun kosong". Fortunately, our initial disappointment quickly evaporated after a couple of spoonfuls of the curry. It was really good! Thank goodness they didn't use those ready-made boxed curry mix. It may looks simple but it tasted as if it was painstakingly made with much attention. Thumbs up!

I ordered the Chicken Korokke set which came with 3 pieces of croquettes lightly drizzled with tonkatsu sauce, a side salad and 2 soft bread rolls. No complains here. The salad was fresh and the bread rolls were soft and buttery. But of course, the highlight was obviously the croquettes. The freshly deep-fried chicken and potato patties were crispy without being oily. The fry technique is impressively dry and greaseless, leaving only crispy satisfaction. And the meat-to-potato ratio was very well-balanced. I am not a fan of korokke but I have to say I enjoyed this dish very much.

Full or not, I had already made up my mind earlier that desserts were a must! There were a few enticing selections displayed on their cake counter including a few varieties of eclairs and cake rolls. I ordered a Caramel Eclair (by the way it was the slimmest eclair that I have ever seen) and a slice of Matcha Cake Roll with a mochi center. The eclair was irresistable.
The cake roll was slightly on the dry side but it had a rich matcha flavour (not those that tasted like 'imitation') while the mochi center was quite a lovely surprise.

Although I didn't order any, there is quite an extensive selection of Japanese gourmet coffee and tea served here. A few varieties of soft and buttery bread and buns are sold here too. This outlet seems to be run by a Japanese family. Service, although not the most efficient was informal and warm.

Haikara-Style Cafe & Bakery
E-Tiara GF Jalan SS16/1, Subang Jaya (next to Carrefour)
03-5630 0743