Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Food and Tea Restaurant - Jusco Kepong

Food and Tea Hong Kong Restaurant was full from the 12:30 to 2:30pm. A surprise esp. when it was the weekday after the long holiday. Kepong purchasing power is increasing and businesses should note. Surprising me, Jusco here at lunch looks more active than Puchong's Jusco. Both were the backwaters of KL less than 20 years ago.

I was catching up with an old colleague and food choice was random. As long as we can hold a decent conversation. All the seats are heavily padded and there are many cubicles. Some decent privacy is afforded to guests. It was neat but I can't say that for the staff. Service was poor and most practiced a form of tunnel vision ignoring customers legitimate signals. Service staff must have peripheral vision.

The food taste was above average and the menu boasts of something different from the usual Hong Kong Char Chan Teng besides plenty of pork dishes. We enjoyed our lunch and the talk and later adjourned to Starbucks for a drink to continue.

Starbucks in Kepong! Politicians and government agencies used the Starbucks as a rule of thumb to measured the economic well-being of each city in North America. The more doesn't only mean the merrier but also richer! More bang for the bucks!

I like the rice which was cooked with less than the usual. It came out firmer (hard) and full-bodied. It was grainy goodness. Hope this is standard practice.I was told this Claypot chicken was good stuff.
My braised beef was tender. Radish was done right - firm with a slight crunch. Some of the tendons were way too soft for my liking. Tasted 5-spices. Thumbs up.
I avoid cofffee and is now a tea convert. My Chai Latte was aromatic but there was still room for improvement as I prefer a stronger cuppa. This was better than the one I had in Coffe Bean, Ampang Point last week.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pan Heong -- Over-rated?

My last 4 trips to Pan Heong were an exercise in futility. Seeing the hungry horde milling in front of the shop, sent the shivers down my spine. A hungry man is an angry man! I beat a hasty retreat without even stopping my car. My perseverance paid off and I was lucky on my 5th trip. In my first 2 eating trips I did not get to eat their redoubtable Sang Har Noodles. So I had to have this.We ordered Sang Har Wat Tan Hor (Fresh Water Prawns with Flat Rice Noodles Cantonese-style). The noodles had good wok hei. The gravy had the right consistency and a nice amount of the slippery half-cooked egg whites. Any Cantonese would be proud of this piece of good cooking and right timing. The 2 big prawns were symmetrically cut into 2 half along the length of their body. Their bright red roes had coloured the rich eggy gravy, orange. One of the prawn was slightly on the soft side indicating a lack of top-level freshness while the other was premium and succulent. Sang Har orders will only be delivered with a minimum of 2 prawns. Price - RM36.00. Rating 7/10.
Another perennial favourite is Frog Porridge. The frog was big and meaty which was good in terms of chewability, texture and body. There were times I got small slivers of meat from tiny underweight frogs. The feel good factor was when I have plenty to chew on. But the downside was these were not from the paddy fields but rather the farmed variety thus the taste was rather flat.

Onward to the porridge - it was average and bland (seems to be a recurring theme one way or another of the food I ordered). I thought some stock will be used in the preparation of the porridge to bath the broken grains of cereals with savoury sweetness. There was no ginger strips too. Sigh! A sign of short-cuts or cost-cutting? Or were they over-confident in the frog imparting its essence into the medium it was cooked in? If this was, it failed. So I have to resort to flavouring it with soy sauce. In my previous visit I found the pork ribs porridge equally bland. In my first visit I had better experience. RM15.50 for 2 pax order. Rating 5.5/10.

Interestingly, on checking other tables I observed there was claypot porridge! Why mine was delivered in a melamine bowl? These folks in my observation were ordering normal wat tan hor and other noodles. These fares may have made the name for Pan Heong in times past under the tree serving the working class and the SME bosses in Batu Caves. I thought they were the regular clientele and know best. The expensive embellishments and fancy concoction were added into the menu to satisfy the over-stimulated outsider's tongue! In any case this warrants more inquiries and a more cautious approach in my ordering the next time round!And finally my Nam Yue Pork Belly came. Piping hot and a crackling outer layer of thin nam yue flavoured batter. The layered fat was present. But then the word average came into play again. The taste has a weak and ambiguous nam yue taste. Marination was short therefore penetration was millimetres deep. Where was the nam yue? Seriously I couldn't tell. I had better tasting ones from my regular Chap Fan store. However, credit must be given as the meat was top of the line. RM11.00. Rating 5.5/10)

Over-rated? I think so for now until my next visit. I will try to order like a true Batu Caves resident and see what happen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wall Street 2 - Remembering Sept 08 (Part 2 of 3)

Watch Michael Douglas aka Gordon Gekko says, "Greed for lack of a better word is good, greed is right, greed works..... It may not depict the Stock Exchange but certainly some of those involved in its trading.

Humankind had evolved from the nomadic hunters/gatherers into civilised settlements producing a stable basket of food. Harvesting surpluses (due to efficiencies and economies of scale) they created the market and started bartering and selling and buying. Imagine those markets along the Silk Road or the Fertile Crescent sandwiched by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers! I love going to the markets of the countries I visit. It gets my fingers on the pulse of the nation. These markets later developed into the stock exchanges of today. Wall Street perhaps is the most famous.

In capitalistic societies a stock exchange is a must for investments (big and small) to flow in and out. Its capitalism life-blood. There is nothing wrong with markets. Its in how it is regulated with some hindsight and foresight as well as the will to enforce these regulations. However it can never be perfect. Temptations to steal from companies and the marketplace are strong. Passing off sub-primes to the unsuspecting by masking it with new packaging was just last September news but its impact still reverberate through the economic structure of the world.

Remember the movie named Wall Street released in 1987 where Michael Douglas won an Oscar for Best Actor? How about Gordon Gekko played by Douglas? Gekko was a loose representation of Ivan Boesky who was convicted for share-trading fraud in 1987 and Michael Milken the junk bond king (a kind of sub-prime) who was indicted with 98 counts of fraud and racketeering in 1989. At the height of Boesky's skills he amassed a fortune of USD200 million and appear in Time magazine! The long arms of regulatory enforcement may have purged and frightened the living day lights of that generation. It was good!

But a short decade plus later history repeated itself in cooking up the books and insider trading. Greed and its minions have a short memory. The Enrons, Tyco, Worldcom and Waksal wiped out billions of dollars and thousands lost their jobs. The perpetrators went to jail. The Regulatory was doing their job. It was good.

Then in a short half-decade greed has mutated into something much more sinister - resulting in September 2008 financial meltdown. And then to cap it off the Madoff's scam came to to the fore. Greed has given the Regulatory the slip once again and it won't be the last. Washington wanted adult supervision for Wall Street. Will new pre-emptive laws treat greed? I doubt so.

We may have a chance to re-live September 2008 ala Hollywood-style. Next year in April, the sequel to Wall Street the movie, will be released. Dubbed Wall Street 2, it is in production now. Douglas will reprise his role as Gekko. Will there be another memorable line? Like, "Greed is good, but don't get caught!"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story - Remembering September 2008 (Part 1 of 3)

Michael Moore's new movie title (watch the Trailer on Youtube - over 1/2 mil views) is not as innocent as it seems. This is no love story. It is to be expected as he is known for his wacky approach in telling a story on his own terms. His other movies include Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko and Bowling for Columbine in which he won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for in 2002.

“Capitalism: A Love Story,” just premiered at the Venice film festival on the 6th of September and will be released 2nd October. The movie placed in its context no doubt is a very hard dig at the collapsed of Fannie Mae, Lehman, AIG etc on September 2008. According to Reuters the main thrust of the story is "capitalism is evil".

It detailed Moore's attack on the "capitalist system, arguing that it benefits the rich and condemns millions to poverty. The bad guys in Moore’s mind are big banks and hedge funds which “gambled” investors’ money in complex derivatives that few, if any, really understood and which belonged in the casino. Meanwhile, large companies have been prepared to lay off thousands of staff despite boasting record profits."

What is "capitalism"? A common definition I learned in school declared, "Capitalism is a system, individuals and firms have the right to own and use wealth to earn income and to sell and purchase labor for wages with little or no government control. The function of regulating the economy is then achieved mainly through the operation of market forces where prices and profit dictate where and how resources are used and allocated."
The world has been enamoured by capitalism for more than 200 years since the collapse of feudalism. Some may argue it goes back even further. John Locke first advanced the term "property" (where capitalism may be able to trace its roots) indicating that it is a natural right of the subjects and the government cannot dispose of that property arbitrarily.

Those who watch (many of us) Hollywood movies/TV we will encounter this scene at least once. A snarling man with a shotgun hissing meancingly, "Get off my property!" And mind you "property" is not just physical and material stuff! It also applies to the intangibles! Patents, individuality, thoughts, beliefs, ambitions ....
Needless to say many of us are born, bred and full-blooded capitalist and by extension believe in the reward for our work (physical or knowledge). And by further extension a proponent of free trade and free market. We believe in competition and markets forces of demand and supply.

But then this capitalistic ideology that had served the modern man so well has been de-stablilised. The statistics seem showed the disparity between the rich and the poor is widening. The powerful capitalist seems to be unrestrained. Even former President George W. Bush had asked business leaders to define the government rather than the other way round.

And the Michael Moore's in many of the "victims" demanded action. The balancing act is on. President Bush intervened at the very last quarter of his term letting Lehman died a painful death (many Singapore and Hong Kong investors were stuck with useless investments) while AIG was too big to be allowed to collapse. New slogans were borne in that moment of crisis: "Wall St. needs adult supervision" and the bailout created cries of the ordinary suffering folks that "Its the Main St. that needs help not Wall St." And that's where Michael Moore took umbrage. This will be one explosive expose!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kopitiam Done Right - Pappa Rich @ Aman Puri, Kepong

Updated: 31st Dec '09, Please check out my post on Pappa Rich Bandar Sri Damansara.

I am impressed at the offerings of Pappa Rich Kopitiam. This Aman Puri corner-lot branch was opened 2 months ago and its still packed. A nicely constructed sweeping staircase with wrought iron railings brings any overflow from the front of the shop into the 1st floor. Thoughtfully custom built with the customers in mind! Besides the good design they manage also to capture the essence and the true spirit of the kopitiam of yesteryears. Rich beverages. Flavourful and quality food. Fresh as can be servings. But most of all, attentive waiting staff. Food is prepared from two good-sized open and one closed kitchens. Bread was toasted on a stainless grill over charcoal embers. There is also a huge oven. Another section is the steamer where bread and vegetarian dim sum are prepared. The other open kitchen housed the beverages dept. Noodles and other food I believed are prepared from the closed kitchen.

With all these high points be prepared for some downsides. Customers have to pay for the good quality menu by having smaller portions. The meal is also costlier due to better ambiance, interior and better than the usual kopitiam's furniture and fittings.

However, the coup de grace may be its integrated design from the operational area to the floor giving it a relax and aesthetically pleasing feel of a higher-end kopitiam. The management has a good thing coming and I hope they will maintain the momentum and will not compromised on service and quality.

Go for a cuppa and enjoy!

Steamed buns with kaya and butter. Good quality but was stingy with the kaya and butter portions. RM3.80. All prices 5% service charge. No Gov tax.
Nasi Lemak. Egg was done right. White was firm and broke easily to the bite. The yolk was soft and again - firm. The drumstick was flavourful and the curry and spices shone through! Very good curry. Good peanuts. Crunchy and lightly salted anchovies. A big plus as I have to endure many a salty ones. The fragrant rice, nasi, was done just right, fluffy and all. Downside - small portions in the chicken and rice. The sambal is slightly burnt but I can attest to their claims that is was not too spicy. It was also not sweetened:-) I disliked those sugared sambal. RM8.90.
Fried Rice. The chicken wing had a crispy skin and taste good. Again the sambal which will go very well with the rice if not for the slight burnt smell. RM8.90.
The Open Kitchen. Modern, thoughtful, spacious, steam wafting, cups kept hot for that nostalgic cup of hot beverage.
Cham. I eschewed coffee but indulged in this for old time's sake. Rich quality. Slightly salted coffee to remove the bitter edge. One of the better coffee/tea concoction. RM2.80.
Very good Iced Cappucino. Did not stinge on its ingredients but be prepared to pay for it. RM6.50.
Pappa Rich Koptiam has 18 outlets and counting.

Address of Aman Puri outlet:

No. 3-1A, Block 3,
Jalan D2/2,
Desa Aman Puri Kepong,
52100 Kuala Lumpur.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All things Nyonya @ Familiar Faces Nyonya Restaurant - Seri Petaling, KL

Since my March 25th visit I have been back another 2-3 times. I thought it the good food I had enjoyed warranted another "revisit" post on my part. This eatery may have a humble look but it majors big-time in taste; the strong, deep-fried, spicy, piquant, tart, sour and hot. Do not go there for Cantonese subtle types. You will be disappointed.

Total Bill for 8: RM128 plus tea.
Get the Map here.

"Hoi Tai Kai" Fish - Teochew-style. This big-eye and mouth fish has firm and dense meat. Never flaky though. Sour and savoury style match this fish. In fact I had this fish deep-fried and banana leaf BBQed before. The meat stands out and was never overtaken by any of the sauces.
Chicken Fillet with turmeric, curry leaves and onion. Curry leaves interacted well with the turmeric marinated chicken. Onions gave the crunchy feel. Satisfying and filling.
Vegetarian Curry. Since we have fish we did not ask for Fish Head. The aroma and taste were appetising but was not overwhelming.
Paku leaves' chlorophyll and the versatile belacan work hand in glove titillating the palate. Good texture vege with few fibres as it comes from the shoot of the ferns. A safe bet if one do not want a fibrous encounter in vegetables.
Claypot Tofu with needle mushrooms. This subtle in taste dish was an appendage, I reckon. Probably prefer a seafood deep-fried tofu. It's better in the taste and smell department.Omelette to round up the meal.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Good Food in Old District @ Petaling Kam Kee Seafood - Petaling Garden, PJ

Beautifully done soft tofu with a crisp crust, slightly chewy skin and very soft custard-like inside. Topped with lots of minced pork sans the oil. Lovely start to a simple and good meal.

I have several hot spots for food in Gasing area. Living there for a couple of years got me acquainted with Raju, Lotus, Grand City, Krishnan (new owner now), Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun, Country Kitchen and a host of coffee shops and 'Tai Chows'.

Petaling Garden is as old as Petaing Jaya. The shops being parked very near to the affluent Sect 5's bungalows and the PJ new town business district have its high points. Even Sri Paandi has opened up a huge branch in Petaling Garden not too long ago. I would say they are the smartest looking restaurant around.

Back to Petaling Kam Kee Seafood. A typical "Tai Chow" and a good one a that. Quick service, neat presentation, niftily cooked food and cheap prices. No complaints. Four of us went there for a quick lunch after a meeting.
Steam Grass Carp Tail (Wand Yee Mei) in ginger paste. Aromatic and spicy as good ginger was used. Woke-up the senses.Sweet Potato Leaves for the final flourish. Total - RM48 plus pot of tea.Address: 9 and 10, Jln 5/44.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Captain Muthu's Banana Leaf Rice @Thurkah - Taman Melawati, Ulu Klang

He was proud of his food and would prowl around his restaurant like a captain he was. ""No MSG", "All authentic spices" and "How is the food?""as he inquired from me. But that was in the 80's. He must be in his late 60's or early 70's by now! No I did not meet the good soldier when having this meal and was not up to it to check with those at the cashier. They may be his children/in-laws.

The food is mostly good and the shop has expanded another by another lot, half for an air-con section the other half for South Asian products. This post is for nostalgia's sake. The smell of mustard seed and its oil that is uncommon in Mamak and Malay food brings back good memories. And BTW this may be the only Indian Banana Leaf Rice in Ulu Klang area.

It is still located at the oldest section (facing to MRR 2 and nearest to the traffic lights cross junction) of Taman Melawati commercial area where all the action once was but now attracting the old timer looking for something comforting and familiar. Business Card right at the end of this post.
My favourite mutton curry was a tad too salty. But the meat was tender.Trip curry. This is good intaste and texture. I half expected it to be chewy but it turned out easy on my jaws.
Deep-fried when ordered the Tenggiri and Kembong was fresh with no 'stale fish' smell. The meat was succulent and the fish taste good as it was well-marinated.Another good-looking deep-fried piece of chicken. Tender as can be with the tumeric spice shining through through our taste-buds.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Marche Movenpick @ Curve and Marche et Halles Notre Dame, Versailles

The "Marche" scene (market in French) in Movenpick @ The Curve was a pretty sight to behold especially set inside the restaurant. The restaurant revolved around this market where fresh produce can be ordered in different sizes (different prices). Just get the passport (given at the door) ready to be stamped and will be charged accordingly (applicable to ala carte). They have buffet offer now at RM45++ per head excluding drinks.

The Marche was spacious all round with about a 7 feet walkway! Lots of footage was invested to give an authentic French market feel. Having been to Paris and Versailles and walked their marche this gives me some good vibes. Space, space and space.

I whipped out my phone camera to shoot a few scenes. Sad to say I was stopped politely from taking more. This was the first time, I was stopped since I started blogging 1 1/2 years ago and I thought of asking for the manager to get permission but thought otherwise. I had 2 shots and it was sufficient. Check out Bangsar-Babe recent post.The Beef Stew was heavy and strong with herbs and tomatoes. Gave a huge wallop! If you like it strong this will be good. Seeing how thick it was I took half a portion.Various fresh vegetables in salad, tossed and stir-fried! Ingredients were sufficiently generous.Swiss Rosti. Potatoes strips pan cooked and served with a dollop of sour cream. I thought the sour cream could have been concoted better. Too light.Beef Steak was fresh. The medium done pan cooked beef came oozing blood when pressed down. It came with mushroom and black pepper sauces. Mustard and other condiments were available.
Lamb Chop was fresh but the all important mint sauce was average. No goosebumps. The mint sauce had a bit too much vinegar for my liking. I prefer the pungency to come from the mint.Salmon Fillet was flaky and expected to be so. Run of the mill and I like it a a good squeeze of the lemon. Sausages and Cod Fillet. Sausages (2 variesties) were of good quality. I for one do not like too much of it but took a liking for it but alas I was at the tailend of the meal. The cod was pan fried and it was a waste to me as all fresh cod should be steamed Cantonese style! Mussels and fresh prawn were available and so were a varieties of pasta, pizza, crepes, pastry, ice-cream etc.

Marche et Halles Notre Dame (Versailles Open Market), FRANCE


Fat Tire Bike Tours conducted us from Paris to Versailles. It work best with independent travellers. We rode out from their Paris office to the RER train station and board with our bikes (Yes, bikes are allowed on the train) to Versailles. The guide was a professional and fun to be with and so were the nearly 25 of us forming a mini United Nations!

We stopped over at Marche Notre Dame in Versailles to stock up on baguettes, cheeses, ham, pate, foie gras (yes!) etc for a picnic at the Royal Palace Garden by the lake in Versailles! Fantastic varieties and all kinds of produce (fresh and cooked) were available.
Check out the bike. Superb ride with a very comfy saddle. My wife and son enjoyed it and we rode a total of 15 kilometers on it! Duration of tour was 8 hours.
Click to enlarge this pic to check out the company's name and the bike. I can vouch for that this was the most comfortable bike I have ridden and carried. In and out of the station's staircases!Versailles is famous for the Royal Palace that come together with a huge man-made lake and beautiful landscape garden. During the reign of King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antionette Versailles was at its opulent and luxurious best setting itself up for a violent end during the French revolution.Marie Antionette Little Village. Pastoral and quaint with postcard perfect scenery!