Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Vegetarian Sushi @ Shiang Hai Vegetarian Restaurant

Living close to Bandar Sunway, I have actually passed by this restaurant countless of times but frankl, it had never crossed my mind to give it a try until I saw an episode on 8TV's HoChiak! featuring their special vegetarian sushi. With the extra "special effects" thrown in (as seen on TV), the sushi looked absolutely enticing! And hence I resolved that a visit to Shiang Hai is a must! And I had; in fact a few times since.

A small dish of green apple slices with an unidentified topping (I think it might be their homemade vegetarian meat floss) are usually served as appetizer. Being both sweet and sour at the same time, it was a perfect appetizer.

Their vegetarian sushi was what enticed me to visit in the first place and I was pleased to see 2 pages of their menu being dedicated to it. Most of them are nicely named but by now, I have forgotten them. So I could only show their pictures...

Vegetarian Sushi with bean sprout (refer to picture on top). Rolled in what looked like a very thin "popia" skin, it tasted very green, very healthy. Dressed in their own homemade mayonaise-like dressing, it was yummy too.
But I would suggest that you love bean sprouts in the first place before trying it. I did, and even then I too, felt that it was a "little bit too green" towards the last couple of pieces.

This variation is highly likeable. Basically the same except the bean sprouts are replaced with shredded jicama (sengkuang) and added with vegetarian meat floss. Topped with the same addictive dressing , it was absolutely delicious!

This is quite similar to the above except it doesn't have green vegetables and it was rolled in "cheong fun" skin. Not as good as the above.

I think this was my least favourite among the other sushi I have tried so far at Shiang Hai. Basically sushi rice in bean curd skin, it was very ordinary although not in an unpleasant sort of way.

Besides the sushi, other dishes that I have tried at this outlet before include their thick and creamy Pumpkin Soup. Thumbs up to this one!

Deep Fried Shredded Pumpkin. Not bad but tasted rather like goreng ubi.

Nice yam cake. Loaded with chunks of yam, just the way I like it!

The Red Bean soup (tongshui). Not just red beans, it is also boiled with black beans and some other ingredients. A nice change from the plain old red bean tongshui.

The restaurant also has quite an extensive list of power juices named after all the zodiac signs. Some of them are rather uncommon such as this one which is a combination of orange juice with kale (I think). Do not balk at this combination, you will be surprise that it tasted very good!

Vegetarian sushis aren't the only stuff they serve. In fact, their menu is pretty comprehensive that include dishes that you could order with rice as well as individual single-serving meals. But for me, I will always go back for more of their healthy and yummy vegetarian sushi.

Shiang Hai Vegetarian Restaurant
(Facing the main road, across from Sunway Pyramid. Same row but towards the other end from McDonalds. A couple of shoplots away from the corner car showroom (I think it is MAZDA).
40-1, Ground Floor, Mentari Plaza,
Jalan PJS 8/2, Bandar Sunway,
Tel : 03 5621 1016

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Authentic Northern Indian Delights @ Khaana Peena

One of the highlights of being a foodie is the enthusiasm to try different types of cuisine. Speaking of which, it has been quite a long time since I last savored Northern Indian cuisine. Hence, the timing was spot-on when I was invited by FoodStreet for a food review at Khaana Peena in Mont Kiara, that specializes in authentic Northern Indian cuisine.

The interior of the restaurant is tastefully decorated, with lots of wood and open space. My lunch date and I opted to dine alfresco at the patio outside since it was a pleasant and rather breezy Saturday afternoon. The sounds of water cascading from the Balinese fountain in the background further enhanced the rather calming and relaxing ambience.

I took time to admire the artfully-crafted menu (which by the way is amazingly extensive). I admire the fact that the proprietress, Madam Deepanjali through her menu, tries to provide diners with a deeper insight into the rich culture of India as depicted in the beautiful and enchanting photographs pictured alongside each page.

Dishes in Khaana Peena focus on ayurvedic properties which are known to promote cooking and eating for greater balance, better health and bliss. Hence, it is not surprising that a variety of dishes are healthy and low-fat. Freshness is the key word here. Everything is prepared fresh ala minute including the staple complimentary starter, the pappadum. Super light and ultra crispy, we have no doubt over their claim.
Clockwise from top left: Fresh pappadums, Stuffed Naan with Minced Lamb, Stuffed Naan with Cottage Cheese, Stuffed Naan with Dried Fruits

Northern Indian dishes are usually distinguished by the generous use of milk, cottage cheese, ghee, yoghurt as well as lentils. One of my favourite Northern Indian dish is the Palak Paneer. The creamy spinach gravy with cubes of homemade cottage cheese goes perfect with fluffy naan or rice. The naans that we had were stuffed with 3 types of mouth-watering fillings; minced lamb, cottage cheese and the dried fruits, with the last (which tasted slightly sweetish) being my favourite. The stuffed naans are great with the thicker curries and gravies but they are also as delicious when eaten on its own especially when they are still warm. We were also served with a generous portion of Vegetables Pulao. A marvelous blend of exotic Indian herbs and mixed vegetables makes this preparation a rice lovers delight.
Clockwise from Top-Left: Vegetables Pulao, Palak Paneer, Murg Makhawala, Navratan Korma
Aside from Palak Paneer, another dish that goes very well with naan and rice is the Navratan Korma, which is basically a rich cashew nut gravy cooked with nine different types of vegetables. For a meat option, a recommended dish is the aromatic Murg Makhawala, a thick curry-like dish with pieces of tandoori chicken cooked in creamy sauce with hints of masala.

Other Northern Indian cuisine staples include the tandoori meats and kebabs. At Khaana Peena, a wide selection is offered.
Clockwise from Top-Left: Murg Afghani, Garlic Chicken Tikka, Reshmi Kebab, Gobi Aloo
For a slightly different twist to the standard tandoori chicken, the Murg Afghani is recommended. Ginger garlic paste is added to chicken marination before being grilled to perfection. The meat is quite juicy, tender and mildly spiced enough to allow the natural taste of the meat to come through.
Juicy and tender Murg Afghani
In contrast, the paler-looking Garlic Chicken Tikka which is essentially cubed boneless chicken grilled in medium hot tandoor has a subdued taste of smoky charcoal flavour that seeped into the meat while cooking in the hot tandoor oven. For something light, a suitable but no less deserving alternative is the Reshmi Kebab. The extra smooth kebab is made from chicken mince that is delicately flavoured with pepper and rolled along the length of the skewer. Too much meat? Then one must not miss the all-popular Gobi Aloo, a dish that needs no introduction I reckon. Made with cauliflower and potatoes that are cooked with a enticing blend of spices, it was delicious vegetarian dish.

Left to Right: Creamy Mango Lassi and Milky Chai Masala
We finished off the very enjoyable and fulfilling meal with the cool and refreshing, yet utterly delicious Mango Lassi. One can also opt for a hot cup of aromatic Masala Chai Tea which will be perfect for winding down. For the coffee aficionados, it is also interesting to note that Khaana Peena serves a rather broad selection of coffee beverages (I counted 18 of them).

Other than ala carte, the restaurant is currently running some very affordable breakfast sets and set lunches promotions. Prices start from just RM8 for breakfast sets and RM11 for set lunches.

This is a food review invitation by FoodStreet Malaysia. Click here for link to article posted on FoodStreet website.

Khanna Peena
E-1-4/ E-1-5 Plaza Mont’ Kiara,
2 Jalan Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur.
(Tel) 03 62013355 (Fax) 03 62018777

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Steamed Fish Head in Paramount

Steamed Fish Head in Claypot
One of my regular haunts during lunchtime for a venue that is close to my office; and when I am in the mood for fish head. I am not sure the exact name of this restaurant but if I am not mistaken, it is called Paramount Fish Head Restaurant. It used to be called something else but I think there was a change of owner. Anyway, this place is located opposite Giant in Paramount and so it's pretty easy to locate.

The default order is usually Steamed Ginger Fish Head (which is pretty good, by the way) but on this day, we decided to ask the "si tao poh" (lady boss) for her recommendation. She recommended their Steamed Fish Head in Claypot. I reckoned that it must be good for I saw the dish on quite a number of tables so we went along with her recommendation.
When it arrived, it looked promising. It's not too different from the Steamed Ginger version. The paste on top of the fish with its gorgeous green hue tasted like a mix of pounded ginger, garlic and spring onion or maybe cilantro.
Whatever it is, it paired perfectly with the fish head. I guessed that the fish was also steamed with a dash of wine which resulted in an absolutely delicious and tummy-warming soup (or stock) at the bottom of the dish. I was slurping it all up non-stop. The fish was also fresh; its flesh tender yet firm, and sweet too.

A side dish of vegetables is usually ordered to accompany the fish head. In this case, we ordered "Sin Kong Tau Foo" (Stir-fried beancurd with assorted vegetables in thick gravy).
"Sin Kong Tau Foo" (Stir-fried beancurd with assorted vegetables in thick gravy).

Prices are pretty reasonable too. The total bill for the above dishes, and 2 plates of plain rice and drinks was around RM34. Not bad for a healthy, wholesome and satisfying lunch, eh?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cafe Lavista - A nice change from the hustle and bustle of KL centre

When I read that dining at Café Lavista at Hotel Equatorial Bangi-Putrajaya promises a refreshing change from the usual maddening and crowded KL city centre, I accepted FoodStreet’s invite to a food review there without further hesitation. Having said that, my friend and I nearly changed our minds when I ended up driving in circles trying to locate the resort (it being only my 2nd time to Bangi and its surrounding area) but all doubts were erased when I saw the view that greeted me when I stepped into the restaurant.

Anti-Clockwise from Top-Left: KL skyline at dusk as viewed from the balcony; alfresco dining area; Interior of Café Lavista

It was dusk then. The twinkling lights of the distant KL skyline that can be seen from the balcony outside awed me. Sitting at the breezy terrace alfresco dining area with glasses of Ginger Blues cocktail* (ginger ale, lemon. Cointreau) and Spring Fever mocktail* (mango, orange and lime) in our hands, it was a perfect chilling-out moment.

Special Cocktail & Mocktail of the month (July): Ginger Blues & Spring Fever (*Not part of the buffet)

However, the moment was interrupted by our growling stomachs as delicious whiffs of food drifted by. We eagerly trudged back into the café-restaurant, which features a bright, spacious yet cozy ambience, with individual live-action cooking stations.

Arrays of both local and international cuisines awaited us. We started with the salad bar and fresh seafood bar. The former featured a variety of assorted fresh vegetables with various types of dressing as well as a selection of hot & cold starters. The seafood bar is an obvious popular section with patrons. The fresh seafood was very fresh indeed. There was also a selection of smoked seafood, which I was rather fond of.
Food from Fresh Seafood Bar
My friend who preferred cooked seafood busied herself with the baked and grilled varieties such as the Baked Half-shelled Mussels, Spicy Crabs and even Seafood Tempura.
Cooked Seafood (anti-clockwise from Top-Left): Crab Salad, Baked Half-shelled Mussel, Spicy Crab and Seafood Tempura

Assorted appetizers and starters

Over at the Italian section, I was delighted to see a wood-fire oven there. I tried their chef’s creation pizza, and it was pretty delectable. Ingredients were also laid out on the counter for DIY pasta. Not only that, I was taken with their bread station with many tempting choices of bread nicely arranged on wooden shelves.
Anti-Clockwise From Top-Left: Wood-fire oven for pizza, Delightful assorted bread, DIY Pasta Section, Yorkshire Pudding

Over at the Western section, the special of that night was the fabulous Roasted Australian Leg of Lamb served with the usual trimmings such as roasted potatoes, sweet corn-on-the-cobs, as well as green peas and carrots. Not really a fan roasted meats, I was won over with the tender and moist lamb meat perfectly paired with the accompanying gravy and sauces. Other notable dishes I managed to try from this section include Grilled Beef Steak (rather good!), Pan-fried Cilantro Seabass and the Stuffed Bell Pepper with Minced Chicken. For something a little different in buffet spreads, freshly grilled tortillas with fillings of your choice were also available!
My favourites from the Western Section (anti-clockwise from top-left): Roasted Australian Leg of Lamb, Grilled Beef Steak, Cilantro Seabass, and Stuffed Bell Pepper with Minced Chicken

Moving on to Asian and Local sections. There were quite a few selection at the Chinese and Malay section. I tried the Deep-fried Dory in Black Bean Sauce which to me was pretty ordinary. The chicken and beef satays however were a different story. They grilled meat were juicy and succulent and the peanut gravy was very delicious indeed. My only qualm was the ones that I had very a little cold but one could always request for freshly-grilled ones, I reckon. Aside from that, pots of curries and other traditional dishes lined the counter at the Indian section. I indulged myself in my favourites such as Palak Paneer, Chicken Tandoori and naans.
Offerings from the Asian station (anti-clockwise from top-left): Spicy Lamb & Potato Stew, Pots of curries & Indian dishes, Satay, Deep-fried Fish in Black Bean Sauce

We were truly stuffed by now by how could we leave without sampling the irresistible-desserts section? Unfortunately, we were told that their chocolate fountains were down that night, but this was quickly made-up by the bountiful offerings of other tempting dessert creations gorgeously displayed. We were spoiled with choices…! Not to be missed include the “teppan-styled” ice-cream loaded and freshly-made crepes topped with ice-cream.
Desserts! Desserts! Desserts!
I liked the Zucotta (a dome-shaped cake with a combination of chocolate, almond and whipped cream) and Chocolate Mousse Slice with its rich chocolate flavour and silky texture. Of course, there were many other choices available. However, I was pretty disappointed with the dainty looking local kuehs. Most of them were too hard from over-exposure to air. Photobucket
Fresh-cut fruits
Even the fruits bar looked so delectable with the beautiful carvings of the fruits.

Overall, we enjoyed dining at Café Lavista with its cheery and warm interior, panoramic view outside and wide selections of food. Buffet dinner is priced at RM68++. Breakfast, Hi-Tea (Sat) and Brunch (Sun) Buffet is also available and priced at RM42++ while Lunch Buffet is RM52++. Children (age 4 to 12) gets 50% discount.

Café Lavista
Hotel Equatorial Bangi-Putrajaya
Tel: 03-82102222 (ext.1111)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Miele Guide

What is the Miele Guide, you wonder? Read below for the answer (which I received from them in my mailbox).
The Miele Guide
The Miele Guide is an exciting, new and truly unique Asian restaurant guide. The Guide is set to become the newest and most respected standard by which restaurants in Asia are judged. Written by food lovers who know and love Asia, The Miele Guide will rank and profile restaurants across the region’s major cities in a slim, indispensable volume.Unlike most guides, there will be no arbitrary, secretive selection procedures. Instead, an initial list of restaurants has been shortlisted by 84 of Asia’s most respected food journalists. The restaurants that make it to the guide are decided by people like you and me via online voting. From 15 May to 31 July 2008, we have invited the public to cast their votes via our website Voters can vote for restaurants that are already shortlisted or can nominate restaurants not yet on the list. In July, a Special Jury of foodies and F&B professionals will also cast their votes. The results from these two polls will then be tallied and confirmed by our in-house team in August.The Miele Guide 2008/09 edition will be released and distributed internationally at the end of October 2008.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Kissaten @ Jaya One

My favourite dessert at Kissaten
When I first saw the beautiful photography in this blog post, I thought a visit is a must. An opportunity came about when a group of friends were looking for a place to celebrate a birthday recently.

It being my first visit to Jaya One, it took me awhile, a few confusing turns and a couple of frantic calls to locate the restaurant. I was late and most of the main courses had been served. I just took a few bites here and a few bites there and only managed to capture a shot of my own order, the Kissaten Pork Tamago Burger. I am such a suckle for delicious-looking poached eggs and if you are too, I bet you would fall in love with the photos in their menu.
Kissaten Pork Tamago Burger
However, for me, the photography held more promise and anticipation than the actual presentation. Th softly poached egg (1/2 egg) was still good but the entire burger (or should I say sandwich was slightly on the dry and bland side. The patty itself was sandwiched between 2 slices of wholemeal bread (similar to commercial brands). The patty was thick, egg and vege were fresh but that's it. After a couple of bites, I had to request for some sauce to go with it.
Some other dishes were more successful in my eyes. I like the No.1 Char Siew Pizza and their snack plate Cheese Balls. Katsu Don and Tangy Duck Spaghetti were not as appealing in taste. As for beverages, they serve quite a variety of coffee, beers, juices and mocktails. I enjoyed my Iced Ginger Honey drink a lot.

Desserts were memorable for me. Highly recommended by the staff is their No. 1 Baked Cheese Cake.
No. 1 Baked Cheese Cake
It looks ordinary but after a taste, it's not hard to see why it deserved such a prestigious title in their menu. ;-p Light and souffle-like, it was very delicious indeed.

I have a "thang" for pumpkins so I was delighted to see Pumpkin Cream with Vanilla Ice-cream listed in their menu.
Pumpkin Cream with Vanilla Ice-cream
The dessert was alright but I have to confess that I had higher expectations of it. Mixed with the vanilla ice-cream, it tasted more like sweet corn cream rather than pumpkin to me. My favourite dessert of that night has to be their Rich Choco Pudding.
Rich Choco Pudding
Strangely, some of my friends didn't like it at all saying that the texture and taste were "a bit strange" but I thought the pudding which was sublime in taste and velvety in texture, was absolutely gorgeous!

Service although polite, was rather slow that night. Then again, we were quite a big group and the restaurant could also probably be facing some common teething problems being just recently opened. Ambience was airy and comfortable but location was a bit obscure. Pricing is moderate ranging from RM6.90 for the cheeseballs, RM10.90 for the burger to RM23.90 for the pizza (size similar to a personal pan pizza) and beyond . Desserts were priced between RM7.90 to 9.90. Set breakfasts and set lunches are also available with prices starting above RM10, I think.

Host unlimited photos at for FREE!
Image borrowed from their website.
KISSATEN Coffee and Restaurant
L12A-1-1, Palm Square JAYA ONE
Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya, SEL.
Tel: 03 - 7954 1990f
Opening hours: 8am - 10pm daily

**Click here for link to this article published in The Sunday Star (Meto Section) on 20 July, 2008.