Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gnocchi with Burnt Butter, Mushrooms, Sage and Truffle Oil & Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

truffle oil blessed gnocchi & supremely rich gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce

From the streets of Brickfields, let's have something different today - some Italian gnocchi. Every time I visit Dish @ Dua Residency, it is not only about dining there, but stocking up the pantry at home since delicious ingredients is next door and they often have gourmet items not usually found in other places. Like this wonderful gnocchi from Rustichella D'Abruzzo (RM17.90 for 500g), one of my favourite brands of pasta. While there were no English words on the packet, I roughly could make out it was made from potatoes and best of all, gluten-free! I know, I should be making my gnocchi from scratch but honestly, when my weekends end up being as crowded as my weekdays, reaching for the instant stuff is a great idea.

1. french truffle oil that smells heavenly, 2. we did get some healthy greens in there, 3. gooey sticky gorgonzola sauce, 4. close up of gnocchi that kinda resembles larvae worms

Instructions were a little vague on the packet, hence I just threw caution in the wind and just boiled water, chucked a few inside and let it float on top. I reckon, that would mean it will be ready to eat and I was right. Deciding to experiment, I made one version similar to what is served in Dish - with burnt butter, mushrooms, sage and annointed with truffle oil. It was extremely easy that one didn't even need measurements or a recipe, just toss in butter, cook chopped button mushrooms and sage until the butter turns slightly brown. I tossed the cooked gnocchi in the melted butter concoction and let it cook a bit to get the flavours in. Then it was drizzled with a little truffle oil that made the simple dish taste heavenly!

The second experiment wasn't too successful in terms of taste - mixing it with a very strong gorgonzola cheese, which I melted and added a little cream. It was way too rich tasting that didn't make it everyone's favourite. Definitely only for those who enjoy super strong cheesey flavours. Nevertheless, I reckon I'm hooked on the butter, mushrooms, sage and truffle oil version and wouldn't mind making it again and again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Brickfields Food Crawl - Banana leaf rice, pork noodles, ais kacang, goreng pisang & kuih bakul

Banana leaf rice fueled Lewis Hamilton's win in Singapore GP - oops, wrong headline, it's just Splashie Boy enjoying Moorthy's banana leaf rice in Mayflower

Brickfields may be well known for its Indian food, located at every street corner in a form of humble stalls covered with zinc roofs or flashy looking restaurants with familiar names like Gopala or even Gandhi. Spend some time here, dig a little deeper and you will find that Brickfields is way beyond that.

Peter's pork noodles is one helluva popular stall here; be prepared to wait

The place seems to be a hive of religious activities with the large Buddhist temple facing the river and a Chinese temple right smack in the busy shops boasting red lanterns on one side and carved roofs on the other side. Everything is a contrast here; a stately looking church next to a ramshackle Indian temple where people are celebrating a wedding. One glaring contrast are the brothels disguised as discreet looking wooden covered shops manned by either a pimp or a female mama-san. One guesses, there are all kinds of believers who seek different kinds of penance here.

Prepping up Peter's pork noodles is akin to a military march; organised and precise

Not being very religious nor in the need for that kind of solace, both of us wandered the streets here to seek a little consolation for our tummies. Mayflower's coffeeshop is a charming contrast. On the first look, it is just a normal coffeeshop with people sitting down slurping down noodles but observe a little longer and you will find banana leaves intermingling with bowls of pork noodles on long tables.

After the fiery onslaught of banana leaf rice, cool down with a colourful shaved ice treat

Originally located at the Peking Hotel, Moorthys or Mathais' banana leaf rice is one of our favourite places for banana leaf rice. Introduced to us by a very good Indian friend, he called this his ultimate banana leaf rice, without any of those frills you get at the more commercial shops. Zoom in on his mutton curry (the dry one with loads of spices) and his famous thick fried fish. I also liked his fish cutlet, shaped like a large fishball packed with fish, potatoes and chillies.

batter heaven

If you have loads of space within the tummy (I didn't though!), there's also the famous Peter's pork noodles. While I didn't get to taste his heavenly soup, I did manage to snap loads of pictures of the stall. There's a certain military precision on how the stall is organised - kinda like a factory production line. Make your order, take a number and they'll clip that on the bowl you order. One fella doles out the noodles you order into bowls, adds the topping or poached egg, while the master of the stall mans the large metal pots bubbling away.

the making of the oh so humble! yet divine kuih bakul

A pre-prepared porcine broth (with a huge ham bone) is ladled in the large metal pot to be boiled. Once bubbles start to emerge, in goes the pork slices, liver slices and minced pork to cook. Time is of the essence here, hence once the pork broth is ready, it is quickly ladled into the ready bowls.

basket delivery

After a bout of fiery spices, the best way to cool down is with a little ais kacang next to the 7-11. Also popular for their coconut water, they do a unique ais kacang here topped with fresh coconut flesh. Sadly, the coconuts were too young this time round, hence we just had the normal version. Tables and chairs are not many (2 to be precise) and when the rain starts, you find a few of us huddled under the umbrella for shelter.

quick, quick...customers waiting!

After the cool respite, it was time to join the queue across the road for a little snack of kuih bakul, goreng pisang (banana fritters) and curry puffs. The 27-year old stall has many fans, hence be prepared to wait for your order. While waiting, observe the unusual way, they have organised their way of working. Since space is a constraint on the sidewalk, they prep the food items at a nearby shophouse (above the newsagent). An intercom connected with crude wires at the stall, passes the message up about the additional orders and they use a basket to bring down the goods from the first floor. It is a sight to behold especially when they break into a run carting curry puffs or prepped up slices of yam, sweet potato and nien koh to make kuih bakul.

curry puffs fresh & crisp from their hot oil bath

Mr. Chiam who runs the stall with his son seems to follow a routinue, dipping the bananas, kuih bakul slices into a deep clay bowl filled with runny batter. Once coated, it quickly enters the hot bubbling oil. He seems to know when it is ready, checking the golden brownness and picking it from the hot oil to the wire rack to cool down. His son, follows a strict rule - he does not give you the piping hot fritters from the oil. It needs to be cooled down for some time on the wire rack, before it can be packed in plastic bags lined with white paper. That's probably why these fritters don't taste too oily and soften as fast as the other places.

waiting is needed here as they take pride in getting their products right

There's even a method on how he fries his curry puffs - placing it on a round rack and submerging it in the hot oil. When he brings it out from the hot oil, the golden brown and fat curry puffs with layers and layers are a sight to behold. Tastewise, you ask? Simply divine and gorgeous that one had to eat it piping hot in the car risking crumbs all over the black interior. Best of all, I had some leftover at night and they still tasted great. So next time, if you're visiting Kuala Lumpur, drop by here and do a mini food crawl around this area to discover tummy satisfying goodies. For more pictures, see my Flickr set.

Moorthy's Banana Leaf Rice & Peter's Pork Noodles
May Flower Seafood Restaurant & Food Court
144A, Jalan Vivekananda
Off Jln Brickfields

Banana leaf rice is pork free but not the noodles. To get here, look for B'Sentral behind the main road, the shop is located next to it and the carpark. The food court is below and accessible from the carpark. Banana leaf rice stall is at the end with Peter's pork noodles next to it.

Ah Keong's Ais Kacang/Coconut Water Stall
Jalan Padang Belia
Opposite 7-11 & YMCA

Pork free. Also sells coconut water, cendol. Open from 10am to 7pm. Previous blog post is

Mr. Chiam's Pisang Goreng Stall
Corner coffeeshop opposite entrance to YMCA

Pork free. Open from 12.30 to 6.30. Call the number in the picture, if you want to order extra.

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Porridge @ Low Yau Kee, Jalan Tun Siew Sin, Kuala Lumpur

stacks of raw fish (wan yue) slices ready to be dunked in hot porridge

One often seem to gravitate to the old & familiar nowadays, probably due to the huge comfort factors they deliver. Somehow, those new and glittery food outlets may look great on the outside but when it hits the tummy (where it matters most!) - it's just downhill all the way.

cholestrol bad but damn tasty chee chap chok (pork intestines porridge)

Eateries like Low Yau Kee that boast a 40 year plus legacy of churning out silky smooth porridge and poached chicken just hit the jackpot (and tummy) more often vs these new contenders. Once thought to be lost and gone with the wind, this roadside stall returned to business, beginning this year with a couple of tweaks and improvements, which I absolutely love.

1. Smooth as the baby's bottom, 2. old is gold here, 3. chunky & homemade tasting minced pork balls, 4. everything's prepped up to go

For a longest time ever, eating at this stall meant you had to dine al-fresco - on the sidewalk with the rain pounding on one side and smokey buses (where's RTD when you need them?) zooming past with horns blaring. Some claimed that's part of the old world charm of this stall, with the buses adding a touch of carbon to your food that made it tastier. For me, I reckon I can do without all these, "added charms" !!

smooth chicken with a bite to it

Hence I was so happy to discover they now share the same premises with Soong Kee. This means, you can dine in the relative comfort of an air-conditioned building (far far away from the rainstorms and carbon!). Best of all, you get two meals for one, since you can also indulge in Soong Kee's famous springy beef ball noodles (sadly not as tasty compared to before but at least the MSG levels have dropped to healthier levels).

So what are you waiting for - just jump into the car and indulge in one of the smoothest ever & tummy warming porridge in town coupled with the incredibly good poached chicken. Or go for the sinfully good (but cholestrol unkind) deep fried intestines with the chunky minced pork balls. If you're looking for a healthier alternative, zoom in on the raw fish slices you mix with your hot porridge to cook them. There's still one problem though - no parking near the stall, but then I guess no one's perfect, right?

Low Yau Kee Porridge
In front of Soong Kee Restaurant
3, Jln Tun Tan Siew Sin (Off Jln Silang)
Kuala Lumpur

Non Halal. Open from 5 to 9pm. Closed on Sundays. For the previous write-up, click this link.

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mooncakes for Mid Autumn Festival - Snowskin mooncakes and packaging

Mandarin Oriental's mini mooncakes with their trademark fan

This should be my last post on mooncakes until I get my batch of jelly mooncakes. Hope all these posts have been informative to everyone. This year's sample size is quite small - limited to a few hotels. Hopefully next year one can cover more of the traditional shops selling mooncakes.

I love the Shangri-la's cute mooncake boxes with the folds. Dragon-I has similar ones except theirs are all golden colour

Nowadays mooncakes are often given as gifts hence I love looking out for the nice and interesting ways they present them. This year, the one that impressed me the most was Shangri-La's packaging. If you buy 6 pieces, you get a lovely hexagonal magenta box decorated with peonies and butterflies. My favourite bit were the boxes the mooncakes were placed in, with these folds that you can open up like flaps and fold back again by pressing the gold parts down. Not sure if it is a new trend but Dragon-I also had a similar design for their boxes, except theirs was all golden with a patterned design.

I love the wordings on Mandarin Oriental's box

Mandarin Oriental's box looked very regal with a round wooden carving. The picture of the carving is quite cute, as it depicts a couple in a pavilion carrying lanterns (maybe in some reference to how mooncake festival was one of those days in ancient China, where couples could meet) and a rabbit at the side. I also liked the wordings they had on the box, one from Confucius and another one from the hotel asking you to share and give. For corporate orders the boxes can also be customised, as samples are placed at the front of their restaurant. The same logo is also printed on their smaller mooncake boxes.

the many faces of mooncake boxes

Westin's packaging was the most modern looking with pictures of flowers - a lily for their bigger one and this dandelion in full bloom. Chynna's boxes are all lantern red. If you buy more mooncakes, they come in a tall box with shelves for the various flavours. Tai Zi Heen's box is quite adorable with a flap in the middle. For bigger orders, they even throw in free Chinese tea leaves in metal boxes. Dynasty's box features their trademark lady. She's also found in all their plates in the restaurant.

Tai Zi Heen's offerings, the bright blue one is filled with gummy bears

After going through seven hotel's offerings, if price is not an issue, Shang Palace's selections have my thumbs up. The packaging is lovely and the mooncakes taste fantastic albeit with a very pricey tag. While the white truffle scented mooncake is my absolute favourite, I also loved their coconut mooncake (reminds me of eating fresh and fluffy coconut candy!) and the cranberry paste version, where the tangy cranberries balance out the sweet lotus paste perfectly. Colours here are also kept subtle and natural.

Dynasty's offerings - light pink one has champagne and a chocolate truffle in the middle

If I wanted my mooncake to be very different, I would zoom in on Mandarin Oriental's chocolate covered mooncakes. However, I didn't think very much of their snowskin offerings and preferred the chocolate ganache ones instead. Their box is also quite unique and great to keep after the festival is over.

Dynasty's green tea mooncake was a little too oily for my liking

Li Yen's offerings are also top-notch with all their selections scoring high with us. While the selection is very small, they have maintained their standards well throughout the years making them a firm favourite every year. The packaging, which I didn't snap a picture of is in a metal box. A little old fashioned but nevertheless still quite pretty.

Westin's selection: green apple with cranberries & oats, sesame paste with peanuts, nutella with chocolate crunch and strawberry cheesecake with condensened milk

Westin's offerings were a marred I felt by their very soft snowskin texture. Nevertheless their durian mooncake was simply heavenly since it was all durian and not mixed with lotus paste compared to the other hotels. Tai Zi Heen's offerings were generally not too bad either, with some winners like their coffee and brownie with whisky offerings. Chynna's offerings were a little offputting with their very strong colours but the golden treasure with the tiramisu centre was very nice. Not sure what happened with Dynasty's offerings but they seemed to all suffer from a case of too much oil that affected the inside of their mooncakes.

Mid Valley's mooncake fair was made up of nostalgic sketches on cardboard

We were in Mid Valley yesterday and stumbled upon the mooncake fair and there were loads of different places to choose from: Westin, Shang Palace, Dynasty, Chynna, Purple Cane, Tai Thong, Haagen Dazs, Nikko Hotel and Concorde Hotel. There were also Doramemon shaped mooncakes. One unusual stall called Fruit Story was selling the never seen before large Teochew mooncake - flat and shaped like a large chapati baked in a charcoal oven. It had a stuffing akin to loh poh paeng. The stall was also selling fruits like yam and pomelo. Over in Isetan, they have Mandarin Oriental, Prince Hotel, Purple Cane selling their mooncakes. Unusual ones were Bonton selling mooncakes made from olive oil and another unknown company selling mooncakes made from seaweed. They taste like jelly mooncakes with a nicer texture and less sugar. Pretty nice to eat (I bought the pumpkin one to taste) but quite pricey at RM9.50 each.

Hope you will all enjoy the Mid Autumn Festival - remember to gather with family & friends that night to savour the moon & pretty lanterns, loads of mooncakes and Chinese tea (or wine according to Sean from Eat Drink KL).

The list of mooncakes and tasting notes:

Snowskin fruits

1. Westin KL Hotel, mini green apple with cranberries and oats (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM13) -
this combination reminded me of cereal but I found it too sweet and very rich tasting.

2. Westin KL Hotel, mini strawberry cheesecake with condensed milk (Size of 4x2.5cm for RM13) - very mild strawberry taste and too soft skin.

3. Shang Palace, Shangri-la KL Hotel, mini snowskin with lotus paste and cranberry (Size of 5x2.5cm for RM12) - the cranberry taste was quite natural and its slightly tangy taste balanced out the sweet lotus paste well. Comes in a sweet pink colour that looked very natural.

4. Tai Zi Heen, Prince KL Hotel, mini snowskin with mango cheesecake (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM12) - very soft inside that was cloyingly sweet.
5. Tai Zi Heen, Prince KL Hotel, mini snowskin with strawberry custard and aloe vera (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM11) - the aloe vera centre was a little too hard and not much taste.

Snowskin nuts

1. Westin KL Hotel, mini snowskin black sesame paste with peanuts (Size of 4x2.5cm for RM13) - the snowskin was the right texture. Liked the not-too-sweet sesame paste with the crunchy peanuts in the centre.

2. Westin KL Hotel, mini snowskin nutella with chocolate crunch (Size of 4x2.5cm for RM13) - very soft skin but quite aromatic filling.

3. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake with pistachio and custard (Size of 4x2cm for RM10.5) - the pistachio tastes quite artificial.

Snow skin pandan

1. Shang Palace, Shangri-la KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake with pandan (Size of 5x2.5cm for RM13) - more subtle taste of pandan is used here.

2. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake with pandan (Size of 4x2cm for RM10.50) - the pandan taste is very artificial and quite strong.

Snow skin green tea

1. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake with green tea essence and almonds (Size of 4x2cm for RM10.50) - subtle green tea flavour with a nice bite to it.

2. Dynasty, Renaissance KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake with green tea with walnut (Size of
4.5x2.5cm for RM9.45) - paste was a little too oily and green tea aroma was not very strong.

Snow skin coconut

1. Shang Palace, Shangri-la KL Hotel, mini snowskin crunchy coconut with honeycomb custard (Size of 5x2.5cm for RM22) - filled with fluffy coconut that reminded me of coconut candy. Not much taste of honeycomb though.

Snow skin coffee

1. Tai Zi Heen, Prince KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake with white coffee and macadamia nuts (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM12) - lovely aroma of coffee with the crunchy nuts, also not very sweet tasting making it easy to consume. A favourite after their famous chocolate whiskey mooncake.

Snow skin others

1. Tai Zi Heen, Prince KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake with vanilla custard and gummi bears (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM11) - sweet with not much flavour, the gummi bears add a chewy bite to the soft mooncake.

2. Dynasty, Renaissance KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake with osmanthus and longan (Size of 4.5x2.5cm for RM9.45) - a little overpowering the osmanthus fragrance.

3. Dynasty, Renaissance KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake egg custard (Size of 4.5x2.5cm for RM9.45) - taste is sweet with not much aroma.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Portuguese Food & Pork Burgers @ Cristang, Section 8, Petaling Jaya

Devils on horseback aka bacon wrapped asparagus served with a red wine reduction

Cristang seems to be hogging the limelight at the moment (pun completely intended) - at least once a week, either a friend, a blogger or even someone I've only met once or twice, will bring up the restaurant's name. Hence, one night after a very bad day at work struggling with strange requests from our superiors that had us questioning their sanity and ours, a group of us gathered here to seek solace for our souls (and tummy).

the porky burgers are excellent here, eat it all just like a sloppy Joe

Delving into Cristang's menu, you will find all kinds of bacon and pork dishes that will make any porcine lover's heart beat faster. Even the simple fried rice is given a double porky dose - fried bacon and lap cheong. There's also Western styled dishes like pastas in the menu.

we love you, Mr. Ham Bone Ambila and want to take you home anytime

A lot has been raved and blogged about their pork burgers - juicy handmade patties served with homemade chili con carne. Each one of them come with uncomplicated labels ranging from P1 to P7, with a variety of toppings and fillings. A little bird known as Eat Drink KL updated me last Friday, that the range has just been expanded to P8 and P9 based on the Korean bulgogi. When our P7 burger came, it resembled more like a Sloppy Joe with a generous topping of chili con carne. We had gone for the petai (stinkbean) version and expected it within the chili con carne topping but was pleasantly surprised to find it nestled within the juicy patty. Incredibly satisfying, the burger was given the thumbs up by all of us. The sides of fries and the cajun prawn was average tasting, being overshadowed by the awesome burger.

1. eggplant topped with tiny shrimp, 2. babi pongteh, 3. pork vindaloo

Of course, when it comes to Portuguese food, one must order their curries inspired by their colonial ancestors. Instead of going for the famous Devil or Debal curry, we aimed high with the ham bone ambila, babi pongteh and a pork vindaloo. Eaten with loads of hot white rice, the winner of the night was the smoky taste and I-can't-get-enough-of ham bone ambila. It was so incredibly good, very more-ish and extremely tummy satisfying, my friend S had to order two more portions for her family and a friend. Another winner for us that gave a slow burn to the tongue was the pork vindaloo, a more-ish dish we ate with a relish. However not everything won us over, as the babi pongteh fell very short of our expectations with the thin sauce and lack of taste. The eggplant served with crispy teeny weeny prawns was a nice contrast of textures but tasted mediocre only.

ordinary yet comforting butter cake anglaise

For desserts, feeling very lost we asked the owner to recommend his specialty, which he told us was the butter cake anglaise. Supposedly pan fried, the butter cake didn't yield much of a crust but nevertheless it was still very nice and soft. Drizzled with strawberry sauce and served with vanilla ice cream, the dessert may not win you over for originality but was very comforting to eat. We also tried the banana chocolate crepe, quite a nice and simple dessert. After that extremely porky meal, we all felt so much better. I guess it is true - anything porcine does heal your soul and make life a little better. Wonder if they'll convert that into a miracle pill?

Cristang Restaurant
Unit B-G-19
8 Avenue
Jalan Jernih (8/1)
Petaling Jaya

Tel No: 03-7956 7877

(Non Halal. Place is open for lunch and dinner. Do check with them as they have special discounts for certain days. To get here, from PJ Hilton from the highway, turn right at the first traffic light after Syed Restaurant. Go straight until end of the road, past the shops and take a right turn, go straight and make the first right turn into a commercial building known as 8 Avenue. Drive down and you will see Cristang on your right hand side.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

Other reviews:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mooncakes for Mid Autumn Festival - Chocolate Mooncakes and Luxury Mooncakes

Chynna's red lantern mooncake

Time to stock up those mooncakes as the festival is just round the corner - October 3rd to be exact. Most of the shopping malls have started selling mooncakes - Isetan, Mid Valley and 1 Utama are a few you can visit for a varied selection. Today it is a luscious collection of chocolate mooncakes (covered and chocolate flavoured) and mooncakes using deluxe ingredients. There's also quite a lot of overlapping of categories, as most of the chocolate filled mooncakes also include liquors or alcohol.

Blue moon was introduced last year by Chynna

Nowadays with our more sophisticated palate, you find an array of interesting flavoured mooncakes that use luxury ingredients like champagne, liquors, birds nest and even the highly sought after truffle. These decadent ingredients add a flair to the traditional mooncakes, making them pretty unique. Some times the combination of flavours work so well, you kinda keep craving for them throughout the mooncake season. Occasionally, even though they come with a hefty price tag, the flavours just don't meld together. Nevertheless, these mooncakes always make great gifts since they're so pretty especially when they're presented in those unique boxes.

the very aromatic winner - the Golden Treasure made with Kahlua and tiramisu paste

Let's start with the chocolate mooncakes. Chocoholics will love Lai Poh Heen from Mandarin Oriental's spin on chocolate mooncakes where instead of using snow skin, they use real chocolate as the skin with a ganache centre. The taste of these mooncakes reminds one of a chocolate bar with different fillings. Under that catergory, Lai Poh Heen has 4 kinds: milk chocolate with peanut butter crunch and raspberry center, white chocolate with pineapple jelly and ganache, white chocolate mooncake with calamansi ganache and their best seller, the dark chocolate with durian ganache.

Chocolate covered mooncakes - simply delish!

I didn't manage to try the durian one since it was sold out. The durian and the peanut butter crunch version are previous year's specialties while this year, the new flavours are the pineapple jelly and calamansi ganache. Using white chocolate, which is usually sweeter, the chefs have paired it with more tangy flavours from the pineapple jelly and calamansi ganache. While the calamansi ganache gives a refreshing taste, which we thoroughly enjoyed, we found the pineapple jelly version to be a little insipid in taste. The peanut butter crunch version was gorgeous, reminding me a little of a Ferrero Rocher with its crunchiness. The raspberry center was meant to counteract the sweet flavours but for me, it didn't seem to do that job as the flavours weren't intense enough. Not many hotels do the chocolate covered versions but Theobroma Chocolate lounge does have their own version.

the divine Ms. Truffle Chocolate Macadamia mooncake from Shang Palace - my ultimate favourite

For the chocolate filled mooncakes, this is a tough one as there's a lot of overlapping with the luxe category as most of them also use some form of alcohol. If we just compare the ones with chocolate and alcohol, my favourite would be Tai Zi Heen, Prince Hotel's bittersweet chocolate with whiskey. The chocolate used is very aromatic with just a hint of alcohol.

a perennial favourite - the Moet Chandon scented mooncake from Li Yen

Last but not least, comes the deluxe ingredients category. My ultimate favourite and definitely the best mooncake for this year is Shang Palace's snow skin white truffle chocolate with macadamia and caramel crunch. The chocolate is not too sweet and I just love the crunchy macadamia bits. Best of all, is the fragrance of the white truffle. Simply heavenly! If you had to spend all your monies on, do it on this one. One word of advice though, don't leave it for too long in the fridge, as the truffle aroma is lost after a few days, once it is cut.

The other favourite is Chynna's Golden Treasure - white snowskin dusted with gold edible dust filled with a very aromatic tiramisu paste scented with Kahlua. The shimmering gold colour can be slightly offputting for the health conscious but the filling is gorgeous and aromatic. Another favourite is Li Yen's mini Moet & Chandon champagne snowskin mooncake. You can really smell the champagne and the quality of the snowskin is also very good - just the right amount of softness with a little bite. I liked how salted egg yolk was also added within to counterbalance the sweet lotus paste.

For more on each of the different categories and the tasting notes, see below. More pictures of the mooncakes can be found in my Flickr set.

Chocolate Mooncakes

Chocolate covered mooncakes

1. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel, milk chocolate mooncake with peanut butter crunch and raspberry center (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM19.95) - reminds one of Ferrero Rocher with the crunchy bits. The raspberry jelly center was not aromatic enough though.

2. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel, white chocolate mooncake with pineapple jelly and ganache (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM19.95) - pineapply jelly is not tangy enough to balance the sweet taste of the white chocolate.

3. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel, white chocolate mooncake with calamansi ganache (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM19.95) - love the tangy flavour of the calamansi ganache that balances out the sweet white chocolate shell.

Chocolate Filled Mooncakes

1. Tai Zi Heen, Prince KL Hotel, mini snowskin mooncake with bittersweet chocolate and whiskey (Size of 4.5x2cm for RM15 - lovely chocolate aroma, not too sweet with just a hint of alcohol.

2. Dynasty, Renaissance KL Hotel, mini almond mocha chocolate mooncake (Size of 4.5x2.5cm for RM9.45) - very soft snowskin and centre. Almost gooey taste with very little chocolate aroma.

3. Westin KL Hotel, mini snowskin Baileys coffee chocolate with macadamia nuts (Size of 4x3cm for RM13) - snowskin shell is very soft and the aroma of chocolate and Baileys is not very distinct.

4. Chynna, Hilton KL Hotel, Baileys chocolate with sunflower seed (Size of 5.5x3cm for RM13.65) - incredibly rich and overpowering taste. Very mild Baileys aroma.

Luxury Mooncakes

1. Li Yen, Ritz Carlton KL Hotel, mini Moet & Chandon champagne snowskin mooncake (Size of 4.5x2.5cm for RM8.50) - lovely snowskin texture with a champagne aroma. Not overly sweet as matched with salted egg yolk.

2. Chynna, Hilton KL Hotel, raise the red lantern which is made from snow skin kirsch lotus paste and raspberry (Size of 5.5x3cm for RM13.65) - the skin is a startling bright red, which probably indicates quite a lot of red colouring was used. Not so good for those who are health conscious. Raspberry taste is not very distinct.

3. Chynna, Hilton KL Hotel, blue moon which is made from snow skin amaretto paste with blueberry cheese feuillantine (Size of 5.5x3cm for RM13.65) - again the blue colouring may be offputting for some. The blueberry cheese is quite a nice combination but not exceptionally aromatic.

4. Chynna, Hilton KL Hotel, golden treasure which is made fromed gold dusted snow skin with kahlua and tiramisu paste (Size of 5.5x3cm for RM13.65) - very aromatic and the snowskin texture is not too soft. The favourite of all the Chynna's mooncakes eaten.

5. Shang Palace, Shangri-La KL Hotel, snow skin white truffle chocolate with macadamia and caramel crunch (Size of 5x2.5cm for RM24) - one of the best ever with the hint of truffles, the macadamia crunch and the aromatic chocolate. Definitely the most luxurious mooncake ever.

6. Shang Palace, Shangri-La KL Hotel, snow skin birds nest with custard (Size of 5x2.5cm for RM22) - bird nest is placed in the middle of the mooncake. Nothing special as the birds nest has not much aroma, just the jelly like texture.

7. Dynasty, Rennaisance KL Hotel, snow skin lotus paste champagne truffle raisin mooncake (Size of 4.5x2.5cm for RM10.5) - the truffle within is a chocolate truffle placed as a center. Nice champagne aroma but the snowskin is a little too soft. No raisins though.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Penang Specialties @ Cempaka Village, Aman Suria, Petaling Jaya

flavourful Hokkien prawn mee (RM4.50)

Thanks to a friend of mine, I discovered this newly opened place (about 2 months ago). This "economy" restaurant that serves all kinds of Penang specialties is owned by the people who used to run Molly's Place at Damansara Kim. They relocated along the busy Aman Suria road that leads to Sunway Mas with a new concept - less formal and offering cheaper meals.

assam laksa (RM4.50) was tasty but a little watered down

This place is a boon to the office workers here, who crowd the place during lunch time. You have a choice of one dish meals ranging from Hokkien or prawn mee, assam laksa, fried rice on the menu. Alternatively you can select at the counter, what to eat with your nasi lemak - chicken rendang, sotong and etc. A variety of Chinese home cooked dishes are also available, which you can pick and choose to eat with plain rice - economy rice style.

one of the few places in town to get the prawn paste chee cheong fun (RM2.60)

Desserts are in the form of different kinds of tong sui - bubur cha cha, fu chok yee mai (barley), mak chok (wheat), red bean, black glutinous rice and etc. There's also nonya kueh and snacks like cucur udang, lor bak koh, yau char kuai available at the counter.

yam cake (RM1) and nasi lemak with chicken rendang and petai prawns (RM7)

The food here is priced like a hawker stall but served in a much nicer and cleaner environment, making it a favourite "cheap and cheerful" place to dine. Tastewise, I would say for the price, it is very decent. I especially liked the flavourful prawn mee served with an aromatic prawn and pork ribs broth. The assam laksa was a little watered down (especially since I recently ate Rice Cafe's super thick version) but I felt it had the right balance of spicy, tangy and sweet here, hence you'll end up filling your tummy with the broth accompanying the noodles.

bubur cha cha (RM2.50)

Nasi lemak was also pretty good and I especially liked the chicken rendang, cooked with lemongrass. The sambal served on the side didn't have much kick to it though. The yam cake, sadly was a little dry but I did like the cucur udang and the very aromatic lor bak koh. The tong sui was average with the best tasting to be the mak chok (wheat for RM1.80) out of the 3 tong suis I have tried. Not a fan of red bean and black glutinous rice, hence I didn't give that a try. Last but not least, the prawn paste chee cheong fun was pretty decent but not up to the incredible standards in Penang, as the sauce lacked the overwhelming taste of prawn paste. If you're in the neighbourhood, drop by this place for a little Penang touch at a price that won't hurt your pocket. Service is also fast and friendly, hence you won't be short of time during a busy lunch time.

Cempaka Village
D-G-31, Jalan PJU 1/45
Aman Suria
Petaling Jaya

Tel: 03-7880 8891

(Non Halal. On the main road that connects between Aman Suria and Sunway Mas, same row as Thyme Bakery and opposite Toyota's showroom and the New Man's offices. Open from 8am to 8pm. Closed on alternate Mondays. For more information on the menu and prices, see their facebook page.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Mooncakes for Mid Autumn Festival - Traditional lotus paste with single egg yolk

Li Yen's white lotus paste with single salted egg yolk

This Mid Autumn Festival, I decided to go all out and feature mooncakes in a huge way. Hence this coming week, I thought it'll be nice to do comparisons of various places' mooncakes and see how they fare, when pitched together. Since there's loads of choices out there, my selection is based on a few hotels (I thought these should be on one level playing field) since comparing them to restaurants or even mooncake companies would be a little unfair.

Westin's lotus version with single salted egg yolk - a little dry on the edges

Honestly I ain't big on mooncakes and prefer the more modernised mini snowskin versions or just the traditional lotus paste version with a salted egg yolk encased within. For me, a good traditional mooncake is not overly sweet, has a good mix of oil to prevent drying out but is not so soggy it gives you oily stains with a nice balance of flavours between the savoury salted egg yolk within and the sweet lotus paste around it. Other little factors also matter, like how thin or thick is the skin and the aroma of lotus paste used.

Chynna's version - uncut and whole

Generally, traditional mooncakes come in almost the same size. For the range we tested, the sizes varied from 7.5x3.5cm to 6x2.5cm. See below for the comparison. Most of the ones we taste tested, there's little variations except the Westin's lotus paste with salted egg yolk mooncake (all the others were white lotus paste) that stood out for its extremely dry interior indicating not enough oil was used when making the mooncake. There was also an uneven thickness of the skin. Maybe Westin is much better in doing the more unusual flavours as I did manage to try their very unique green tea lemon zing (green tea skin with bits of lemon within a lotus paste centre) and that was lovely - subtle green tea taste with the tangy lemony bits cutting through the sweetness and most importantly, a softer skin and texture.

Tai Zi Heen's mooncake is moulded beautifully

Our favourite out of the lot was Li Yen's version. While it was almost the same quality as the other places, what made it stood out of the rest was the paste used was fragrant and not overly sweet. The skin was also soft and had just the right amount of thickness. I loved the bits of kuaci you could find within.

Lai Poh Heen's distinctive fan logo on their mooncake

Dynasty's version didn't fare too well either, and was also a little dry within. For more on tasting notes, see below. Hope that this comparison will make it easier for you to purchase mooncakes and look out below for the shootout between the durian snowskin mooncakes.

1. Li Yen, Ritz-Carlton KL Hotel (Size of 7.5x3cm for RM17) - soft skin with kuaci bits within, aromatic lotus paste with not too sweet taste.

2. Chynna, Hilton KL Hotel (Size of 6x3.5cm for RM13.65) - salted egg yolk is a little hard, has a thin skin and is not overly sweet. Contains kuaci within.

3. Westin KL Hotel (Size of 7.5x3cm for RM18) - thickness of skin is uneven and the skin is way too dry indicating not enough oil is used. Lotus paste has no fragrance and is dry. Contains kuaci within.

4. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel (Size of 7.5x3.5cm for RM21) - soft skin with a not too sweet lotus paste.

5. Tai Zi Heen, Prince KL Hotel (Size of 7.5x3.5cm for RM21) - soft skin with a not overly sweet lotus paste with kuaci.

6. Dynasty, Renaissance KL Hotel (Size of 6x2.5cm for RM16.275) - a little dry within indicating not enough oil, lotus paste has little aroma. A little mishapen.

* Prices are inclusive of service tax.

Mooncakes for Mid Autumn Festival - Durian Snowskin Mooncake

the shoot out between the 5 mooncakes - from anti-clockwise and on top, 1. Shang Palace, 2. Li Yen, 3. Westin, 4. Lai Poh Heen, 5. Dynasty

No mooncake festival will be complete without a little touch of local flavour. Feared by some for its pungent taste but revered by many for its creaminess, the durian or its more lofty title as "king of the fruits" is a popular flavour in snowskin mooncakes. Durian paste is mixed with lotus paste and encased in snowskin that is usually left plain or even flavoured with a little durian. Lai Poh Heen at Mandarin Oriental Hotel also does a divine sounding chocolate encased mooncake filled with durian ganache. Sadly, I didn't get an opportunity to sample it, since it was sold out the day I did my mooncake shopping. Having eaten the delectable pairing of chocolate and durian, I can imagine it to be a match made in heaven - the bitter taste of cocoa balancing out the creaminess of the durian.

the very fragrant Westin durian fantasy

Visually the assortment of durian snowskin mooncakes are in the natural white colour or yellow ranging from a lemon yellow to the palest yellow. Dynasty and Lai Poh Heen kept theirs natural white, while the others are in various shades of yellow.

a little too much oil

The snowskin mooncakes from Dynasty seem to be suffering from one major problem that marred the taste of their selection - the paste is not cooked enough or left for too long until it is too oily once you cut them. Weirdly enough, their durian mooncake hardly tasted like durian at the first bite that I thought the counter staff had mixed up my order. Later, after leaving it in the fridge for one day, did the durian flavour seem to develop.

In terms of taste, we were pleasantly surprised that the Westin's durian fantasy, which didn't appeal to me visually with its pale lemon yellow snowskin was the most fragrant. This could be because, unlike the other mooncakes that mixed durian flesh with lotus paste, their version only contained durian, custard powder, eggs, butter, milk powder, cream and flour as ingredients. However, we didn't quite like the soft texture of the snowskin - a quality that seemed to be prevalent in almost all of the Westin snowskin mooncakes.

For the others who mixed lotus paste with durian flesh, we felt the Shang Palace's version was a nice proportion, giving it a distinct durian taste yet not overpowering so to scare off your next blind date. Lai Poh Heen - famous for their durian pancakes delivered a pretty meek durian snowskin mooncake that would please someone like Bobby Chinn (who hates durian!) to bits. Similarly Li Yen's version is also very mild.

In terms of size, Shang Palace's version is the largest and the most pricey, selling at RM14 while Lai Poh Heen's version was the super mini of the whole lot. In conclusion, I would say - go for the Westin version if you absolutely love just durian and don't mind a very soft skin but Shang Palace wins my vote for the overall durian mooncake with lotus paste, with the right texture of snowskin.

Detailed below are the sizes and prices for the various mooncakes compared. Note that all prices are inclusive of service tax and these mooncakes can be obtained at the various hotels:

1. Shang Palace, Shangri-la KL Hotel - Size of 5x2.5cm for RM14
2. Dynasty, Renaissance Hotel - Size of 4.5x2.5cm for RM10.5
3. Li Yen, Ritz Carlton KL Hotel - Size of 4.5x2.5cm for RM8.5
4. Westin KL Hotel - Size of 4x2.5cm for RM13
5. Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental KL Hotel - Size of 4x2cm for RM11.55

*All these snowskin mooncakes are pork free

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ramadan Bazaar 2009 @ Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya

looks more like art deco painting

Kelana Jaya is always an old favourite of mine, with familiar stalls I often zoom in to and buy stuff from. A must is always the laksam here - gorgeous thick rolls of rice flour noodles with the creamy fish gravy with a dash of sambal and a sprinkle of bean sprouts for crunch.

various types of jellies made from milk and fruits

This year, familiar faces are around - the ever talktative satar fella, selling his wares and the colourful agar agar stall. They seem to have outdone themselves this year with loads of colours and unusual flavours - spotted a milk version with biscuits on top and etc. One evident change this year, the stall owners have invested in labels, which tell you what each item easily without waiting for them to serve you.

honey chicken wings on the hot grill

There was also an Uncle Bob's fried chicken stall, with a persistent jingle, telling you Uncle Bob was very delicious. Gave it a try and to be honest, it was very dissapointing. While they may have all the items to make the same kind of fried chicken, the skills to get it crispy weren't there (I reckon the lady overfried the chicken as it was chewy vs crispy!).

1. salted fish fried rice presented in an unusual manner, 2 4-angled beans kerabu with perut, 3. ikan bakar requests, 4. botok-botok

This is one of the few places you'll find packets of fish wrapped in large banana leaves smothered with herbs that is known as botok-botok. There's also two stalls this year selling the Jawa specialty of Nasi Ambeng - all wrapped up in a large parcel with chicken, rice, fried beehoon, coconut floss or serunding and fried tempeh.

sambal stuffed cencaru on the grill

The regular cencaru stuffed sambal lady was there selling her fish in various sizes. One stall definitely grabbed my attention, right in front of the street - they were selling various kinds of kerabu or salads - one made from pegaga or pennywort, daun selom, paku pakis or ferntops and green mangoes.

1. pizza is even available, 2. roti goreng, 3. nasi ambeng

The kek batik and creme caramel people were around as usual but business seems to be less vibrant compared to last year. Some stalls were very enterprising selling all kinds of wares including that must-have car accessory with the moving flower in a pot. Have been told you can get that dirt cheap in places like Wisma GM, Chow Kit where they sell it in bulk for a fraction of a price it is sold in stalls everywhere.

chicken satay

There were quite a few satay stalls around, ayam percik and one ayam golek fella. Not sure if it is the same fella last year but this one has upgraded his equipment to those covered glass versions.

the making of popiah basah FAM

One particular stall had me fascinated with their popiah line up, while another had curry leaves placed everywhere. Seems it is to ward off the flies that were persistent here.

onde onde ready to go

The onde onde stall was also around, where they'll make it on the spot. One particular stall selling fried rice and noodles, had an enterprising way to announce to the world it was selling salted fish fried rice - they placed the salted fish on the rice as a decoration.

pulut panggang needs time to grill on the hot fire

This will most probably be my last Ramadan bazaar post. Don't have much time to drive around and look for others during the weekday. I guess if I do find others worthwhile snapping pictures of, these will be posted up in Flickr. Reckon some of you will also be fed up with too many bazaars. For the detailed pictures for this bazaar, see
my Flickr set.
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