Thursday, January 31, 2013

Luwak Coffee - Civet Cat Poop Coffee

The favourite beverage for many was smooth with no bitter taste. This was no ordinary coffee. But one that has passed through the alimentary and digestive canals of the civet cat. The interactions with the stomach enzymes may have removed the bitter taste.

I normally do not take coffee as each time I drink, it gives me a huge wallop on my head. The headaches can last for 3 days. But I ventured to risk a it as this opportunity (with a few cups) was too good to pass. Mercifully no headaches assault came!

I was in a village cooperative that produce the dreaded and loved (depending on the sensitivity) gourmet and expensive beverage. The cats are supposed to pick up the best beans which is an acceptable rule of thumb.The same goes to bats and squirrels. However, these cats were in confinement and were fed with quality Arabica beans. Arabica beans were planted at only 1000m above sea level. It is considered the best beans. Robusta beans are not used as it is of poorer quality. In fact it was mentioned that the civets will turn their nose up at these beans.

Finally, before we jumped into the ethical debate on this practice the cooperative has set up standards of practices and cleanliness as well as the duration of confinement for these creatures. However, this may not provide scant comfort for animal lovers as being caged is still being caged.

 My cuppa and cuppa and cuppa!
Arabica trees.
 Ripened and juicy coffee beans. So inviting!
The civet cat. The debate on ethics again is a hot topic as regards to these cats being imprisoned in the cage. The co-operatives will set these cats free after 2 years.
The poops after collection. It will be thoroughly washed. Any beans with cracked skin will be removed as this will fail the test on cleanliness.
Removing the outer skin. The light colour skin was removed exposing the darker colour interior. It was done by running a flat piece of wood over the beans on a wire mesh tray.
 The washed seeds with skin intact not removed (lower tray) and with skin removed (upper tray).
 The village co-operative's ladies working hard to process the beans.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yat Dim Sum Yi - Medan Putra Business Centre, Bandar Menjalara, Kepong

I have some set ways when it comes to having DimSum. It is acquired after having my years of eating dim sum in Ipoh. It is also closest to fine dining 30-40 years ago.

1. It is a breakfast or brunch thing.
2. The acid test will be how they fare in using this trio of meat: pork in Siew Mai, fish in fish balls and YTF and prawn in Har Kao.
3. Dim Sum must be piping hot and pastries should be kept warm.
4. Do not go for strange concoctions. Usually disappointment.
5. Those with strong flavours should be ordered last like chicken feet.
6. Pastries should also be eaten towards the end.

Finally I found a place to have reasonably good Dim Sum near home. Here goes.

1. Air:con: Yes
2. MSG: The least so far compared to others
3. Parking: Sometimes a bit challenged as have to complete with many residents and also lots of eateries nearby.
4. Ambiance: 5/10
5. Food: 7/10
6. Peculiarities for this style: Food came piping hot even those the YTF and Woo Kok (Yam).
7. Price: 6.5/10
8. Verdict: Good to eat 1-2 times a week
9. Service: Attentive and fast

Har Kao. Generous amount of fresh, firm prawns bound together with minuscule amount of starch. The skin was thin. Passed the acid test for prawn usage.
 Yong Lieu. The fish paste was excellent. Firm and elastic. Did not breakup like those with lots of flour as substitute. The fish may not be of those really sweet type but I was glad they did not sweetened it with MSG. Passed the acid test for fish usage.
 Siew Mai. The meat was springy, meaty, well marinated and bursting with flavours. The pork did not give off that smell characteristic of a lack of freshness. Passed the acid test for pork usage.
Fish Maw Dumpling in Superior Soup. First of all the soup was excellent with anchovies as the base. Can really smell it! The ingredients was fresh. I was surprised.
 Fish Maw Dumpling to go with Ginger in Hwei Tiaw Wine. Fresh approach.
Siu Loong Pao. As good as it can get. The skin was strong enough yet not too thick. The chef has a way of tying it up at the top so that you can pick it up using the chopsticks without hassles.
Char Siew Pau. Dough was a bit too fluffy for me. I prefer those with denser dough. The marinated meat was good and went well with the carbs. 6.5/10
Phoenix Claws. Usually the taste is very salty and sweet. Glad they controlled the sweetness and saltiness.
 Steamed Spare-Ribs. Well done! Just nice, piping hot, smooth and tender meat.
Vegetarian Dim Sum. Strange concoction.
Woo Kok. The yam shined through and the BBQ pork was not able to overwhelmed the creamy taste of yam.
Address: 57,59, Jalan 1/62D, Medan Putra Business Centre, Bandar Menjalara, Kepong
Tel: 03-62761232

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

IKOI Japanese Restaurant (the best so far) - Hotel Miramar, Singapore

Shall I expose my lack of depth on Japanese food in Malaysia? Or really I may have eaten enough to give a you a run for your money. Still most the Japanese sashimi can be good but it is also dependent on where, when you eat and how much was paid.

It may also be boiled down to the day the cargo arrived and how narrow was the gap between then and when it was placed on the plate.

Have you eaten so good a platter of sashimi that you long to get back to have another go? Not in Malaysia so far.

IKOI was packed to the rafters. Advance booking a must. The service is good despite the horde of hungry souls. Plates and bowls flew out of the kitchen. Ordering can be a bit of a challenge but still you get through the the waiting staff and the food will be on table in a jiffy.

Being buffet we just ordered our favourites again and again and again. Howzat! Licence to order.

My favourite platter of sashimi. Tuna, Yellowtail, Salmon and Sword. Freshness you can taste right to the edge of my tongue while sitting glue to my seat eating and ordering. Total cost for 4 pax: SGD178.

Now I am thinking, Japan, here I come!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sam Yu Seafood Restaurant - SS 3/35, Taman Universiti

This is one of my favourite Tai Chow. Probably better in terms of physical facilities as  it has a proper air-con section. The food is imaginative. Almost fusion. Where to find spare-ribs caramelised with blueberry sauce? You get the run of the mill types in the usual hangouts with the occasional flair but using mostly Asian ingredients.

We have ordered their 3 favourites as well as also their signature dishes.

Food: 7/10
Ambiance: 6.5/10
Price: 6.5/10
Parking: Can be a bit challenging during the usual hours
Verdict: Can go over for lunch every now and then

Spare-ribs in Blueberry Sauce. Excellent taste if only they could get better cuts of the spare-ribs. Certain morsels can be challenging to eat without smearing sauces all over the mouth unless you use the fork and knife.
Tofu in Pumpkin Gravy. Another crowd pleaser with the gravy subtle taste so good to drink (oops) or mixed with the rice for the carbs-eater. Pumpkin is pretty neutral with some sweetness besides. Adds to the savoury character of the dish. And the creamy tofu paired with the gravy is certainly a good match.
Another excellent comfort food. Fish Fillet with Meehoon. The rice and the deep-fried fish fillet is a good combination like the Fish Head MeeHoon. I think frying these together gives it a stronger taste with the wok-hei lending to the effects. Another signature dish.
And finally our fish with curry sauces. A tradition of having a whole fish on the table. A better choice may be steamed fish. I have eaten their Wan Yee (freshwater) with ginger paste. Excellent. This one is just average.

Address: 32, Jalan SS 3/35, Taman Universiti, 47300, PJ
Tel: 03-78751197

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chatterbox Hainanese Chicken Rice - Mandarin Orchard, Singapore

Well the supposed Chicken Rice that made Singapore famous for its chicken rice was right at our door step. Chatterbox is in Mandarin Orchard and its central location helps us get everywhere.

We heard a fair bit of its SGD26 chicken rice and decided to give a go. But after the fact our Singaporean friend told us that the original chef has striked out on his own and open a stall in a hawker centre selling his chicken rice at SGD6 per plate.

Verdict: Over-rated
Portion: Bigger than normal (double serving as for the chicken)
Ambiance: 8/10
Price: 4/10
Visit again: Not in the near future

Looking beyond the chicken, there were the condiments. A trio of chilli, ginger and black sauce. Well I thought the I have had better in Jalan Gasing. The chicken meat portion was huge. You can eat till full. The customary taste for chicken rice is all there from the light soy sauce, sesame oil, some hint of Chinese wine. The meat is pretty ordinary but the quality is unquestionable.

But overall I think I will have got my money's worth if I have gotten the 'thigh'. The fillet was thick, texture was rough. Thigh would be tender and smooth. But then I did not manage to check with them whether they are sticking with fillet only.
The Chicken Rice Set.
 The cut.
 Condiments "three musketeers."
 Always the rice contrast to what we have in KL brings to mind the benefits of a free port.
 Signature Dish.

Yi Liang Kunming Pine Roasted Duck - Kunming China

Ducks were everywhere, the roasted one I meant. They have their live ducks but tucked away in ponds away from tourists' eyes. The locals speak fondly of their ducks for they make good meat and also money. With AirAsia flying to Kunming there will be many Malaysians with adventure in the hearts, willing to risk the trip to visit their natural wonders, lakes, flowers, golf courses and cool climes the whole year round.

This was my 3rd trip since 1995. Times have changed and the city has expanded in all directions. I got another chance to go to the Shilin Stone Forest after a lapse of 17 years. That's a long time in Chinese years esp with their great leap forward. I will blog on this trip maybe later.

Yi Liang is not far from the Stone Forest so a trip to the famous duck restaurant is very viable. I ate this duck 17 years ago after doggy bagged it at a road side roaster. The duck was infused with pine fragrance from pine branches and needles. It has a distinctive fragrance makes it the first choice when it comes to fowls.

Beijing duck. More famous cousin.

Cucumber and spring onions to go with the duck.
And onions and other condiments to go with the duck.
Goat cheese anyone. China Fetta.
Meat duck. As described, really good. Well raosted. Meat was sweet without the gamey taste. Had 3 birds.
Three layer pork. Cold dish. Really spicy. Yunnanese cuisine shows no mercy when it comes to hot peppers.
 Fungus with world famous peppercorn. It was really tart with lots of vinegar and hot (very).
Same vege dish like back home.

Token beef dish.

 Chicken Soup with history of filial piety. Reduced to 2nd fiddle compared to the ducks.
 AND...ducks everywhere.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Miss Ellie (English) Tea House - Taman Melawati Foothills

Miss Ellie Tea House affords a relax and carefree outing to catch with up friends or just some solitude for self-rejuvenation. The dining is calming and unpretentious with a warm and homely feel. There is even a sofa set where one can twiddle their thumbs, get their orders taken while waiting for a table if you happen to be caught out.

Food - 7half/10
Ambiance and Practicality - 7/10
Price - 6/10
Parking - Plenteous
Locating - Out of the beaten tracks (Google first before going or use GPS)
Service - 7/10
Novelty - 8/10 (like where are going get such a English Tea House - not in a million miles!)
Menu - A little short but I believe there a building it up.
Type - Mother (Nancy - not short on culinary skills herself esp on westerns)) and Son (Justin - Australia trained). Team with aunt and brother helping out.
Surprise Factor - Watch out for a rich and creamy array of wonderful cakes and pastries baked in no particular order everyday! You could wait and die in anticipation.

My Australian beef casserole, buttered mash, vegetables & fresh bread roll. Tender so tender that you will not need to 'floss' your teeth for the first time ever after having beef! Subtle aromas but never overwhelming allowing the herbs and meaty flavours to intermingle.ashed potatoes has a generous butter input and bread was fresh and home-bake. Dislike those factory-made ones.
Fresh pair of scones, served with cream & strawberry jam. Some of the best scones. Not too moist that some made it to pander to Malaysian palate. Hard enough to gives body and texture. Good with excellent milder version of cream and jam. Good enough to just entice you there just for tea.
Pandan panna cotta, gula Melaka & strawberry. My first introduction. Really creamy, gelatinous and sweet as a dessert should. Definitely better than any To Fu Far. The dessert can maintain its form yet was so soft almost too delicate and fragile. My favourite and must order.
And some tea to complete the meal!
Address: 7, Jalan H3, Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 0341620113
Opening: Tue - Sat: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Cash Only