Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Banana Leaf Rice @ Devi's Corner, Bangsar


Too much Chinese food with all the celebrations?

How about a little spice, rice and a real banana leaf to entice you to carbo heaven?

I was rather surprised the other day when someone told me they had the best ever banana leaf rice at Devi's Corner.


Hence one lazy weekend, I decided to take the risk...and descended into food coma brought on by the excessive rice, meat and vegetables consumed in one go.

Located on the upstairs section, obviously everyone else in town was in the know versus moi since the place was packed to the brim.

We slot ourselves in between families waiting to be served. Service is a tad slow but we get going with our "real" banana leaf (no fake paper stuff as served in Kanna Curry House).


Plop comes the piping hot white rice...shaped in a carbo mountain with a snowy peak.

Next the vegetables and condiments.. it all goes down and the other half whispers to me..."they serve five items here instead of the usual three."

I nod in slow agreement as I notice this place definitely does not stint on portions as my cucumbers in yoghurt, deep-fried bittergourd, curry vegetables and etc could have kept my tummy happy for the whole weekend.


Then came the curries - dhals, chicken, fish and who can resist, the crab one that I relished each rich coconut milk laden spoonful of it with my rice.

They also had mutton curry, which must be highly sought after as the Indian family of five boys next to me were all ordering this.

Hmmm...next time I must order the mutton I made a mental note to myself.


We add fried chicken called Chicken 65 or was it 69?

God knows what it's real number but who cares since it's tender and delicious with a reddish coating.

Equally good was the deep fried sotong glistening with a yellow tinge from the heavy hand of turmeric and their scattering of curry leaves.

The jaws get cracking on the crunchy pappadums and they even gave us dessert - multi coloured bhindi, fried dough bits that look like tiny teardrops.

One can't help but rub the tummy in satisfaction as the spices gently burn inside.

Ahhh...such satisfaction as you amble down the stairs and into an afternoon nap at home.

This is truly the best way to enjoy a lazy Malaysian weekend.

Devi's Corner
14 Jalan Telawi 4

Tel: 03-2282 7591

(Halal. Banana leaf rice is available during lunchtime and upstairs. For more pictures, see my Flickr set.)

*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.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Antoinette @ Mandarin Gallery, Singapore


Gong Xi Fa Cai everyone.

How has the Water Dragon been treating you so far?

I kinda feel like Stella who lost her groove as my zeal to blog is a little waning...but like all good people, I better get back in the saddle quickly or else, I reckon I will be fined again for blog abandonment issues.

I'm clearing the mountain of backlog...including posts I had from last year during a whirlwind trip to Singapore. Since half of the family is there, usually time is devoted to them but I do manage to sneak some time out to check out this place Antoinette.

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The French may turn up their noses to this Laduree doppelganger-like cafe but it seems this place is so hot that you need to queue for at least 30 minutes or more to score a table here (they don't take reservations here unlike their other outlet). Designed like a French boudoir with a matte gold ceiling, chandeliers and black and white sketches, it makes a pleasant place to partake a cuppa provided you have ounces of patience for the long wait.

One thing you will notice is the clientele is predominantly female with a scattering of faithful boyfriends or hubbies in tow. And...maybe because I was there just before Xmas, they were all dressed to kill for tea for major camwhoring sessions. Singaporeans, please enlighten me..is that the norm and they follow Tokyo where the girls like to dress up for tea sessions?


Since the tummy was rather full from lunch, I settled for French Toast with salty caramel.

Made from rich buttery brioche, this came with a vanilla seed studded whipped cream. I rather enjoyed this - mopping the decadent caramel with just the right hint of saltiness with my fluffy butter laden bread.

All around me, most people were ordering the breakfast items - all day breakfast choices with eggs,  24 hour baguettes, blinis (not shaped like small ones it seems but pancake sized) and eggs including an Egg Florentine. Another popular choice seemed to be pasta with egg, club sandwiches. The Queen of France may turn in her grave though as there's burgers in the menu. Maybe she can be appeased with sweet and savoury crepes or better still...her favourite cake.

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In front of the restaurant stands an enticing array of sweet treats - Religieuse of caramel with fleur de sel (Looking prim with her nun's wimpole), Saint Honore L'Amour topped with a red rose petal, mont blancs (chestnuts mountains), Le Royale with its dark chocolate cloak, and etc. There are also an array of jewel-like macarons. On the side table, are the meringues, kouglof,  caneles and etc to tempt you. So much to choose from, I can image those who love sweets will go crazy here.

I settle for the namesake, Antoinette. It is essentially a milk chocolate mousse infused with Earl Grey tea with a chocolate sponge cake and a bit of crunch within. On its own, it can be rather rich but pop the berry on top and a dribble of raspberry sauce seems to balance out the decadent chocolate goodness with a hit of tanginess.

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In addition, I did pack some macarons home that I almost forgot. The baby blue boxes even resemble Laduree with their gold twirls on the side...just that it is not in pastel green. In general, the macarons were generously filled with ganache but flavours were a little on the artificial side I felt. Moreover, if you spot the pictures, the shells seem to have a grainy texture.

To sum it up, I guess this is your next best thing without flying to gay Paree for the real thing. Service is efficient and brisk. This happens to be part of Pang Kok Keong's sweet empire. Formerly from Les Amis and the man behind the Canele, this Parisian themed patisserie joins his Pique Nique, a laid back diner.

Mandarin Gallery
Orchard Road

Tel: 02- 6836 9527

(Non Halal. Open from 11am to 10pm daily. Only walk-ins so line up at the door for a table. Original outlet is at Penhas Road in Lavender. Also has places in Palais Rennaissance and Scarlette Hotel. For more pictures, see the Flickr set.)

*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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chinese New Year 2012 @ Gu Yue Tien, Chulan Square, Kuala Lumpur

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When it comes to innovative and great tasting food, Gu Yu Tien trumps everyone in the market.

This year, their Chinese New Year offerings is a balance of old favourites (as many of their clientele can't do without) and something to summon the dragon, their Dragon Fish Yee Sang (RM98++ for 10 persons).

While Gu Yu Tien still maintain their healthy outlook for their yearly offering of the prosperity yee sang (green coral lettuce, golden raisins, pears, pomelo sacs, salmon sashimi, sesame seeds, strawberry sauce and crunchy "pok chui" crackers), this year sees the addition of these dragon like fishes. These sharp toothed sea fishes add a nice crunchy taste to the whole festivities.

Toss them around and they look like dragons flying in the sky, an auspicious way to usher in the new lunar year.


Nowadays with the outcry of cruelty to sharks, restaurants are saying no to the Chinese delicacy.

Gu Yue Tien tries to balance between the old and the new, offering the two varieties, one with and without.

However, a taste of this sumptuous thick seafood broth filled with crab roe, crab meat, prawn, scallop, squid and tofu cubes will make anyone happy (including those old folks) that they won't nag when they  don't see those forbidden fins.

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A must-have when you dine here is the superb salt baked Spanish Iberico spare ribs.

It is so finger licking good that you won't mind getting your hands dirty to eat every small morsel of the delicious meat.


I do love my Hunan food hence I was a little surprised to see Chef Frankie unveil these spicy dishes.

I've always pegged him as a Cantonese guy but he showed today his breadth of skills (seems he is also well versed with Shanghainese and Szechuan dishes).

Rather than any old steamed fish, he marries the Western favourite aka the halibut fish with a spicy chillies and garlic topping.

The fish flesh is perfectly steamed until it becomes a creamy texture with its omega rich oil content. The  not overly spicy but well balanced chopped red chillies and garlic complement the whole dish so well that you end up lapping every delicious bit.

I've always loved the steamed fish here and for those who prefer more delicate flavours, you can opt instead for their steamed australia jade perch fish with light soy sauce. Another omega oil rich fish, the flesh is silky smooth especially when dipped in their aromatic but not overpowering sauce.


While Chef Frankie is open to all types of Chinese food, he prefers to keep his Szechuan dishes to a lower spice level for it to reveal its many layers of flavours.

For instance, he ingeniously pairs the classic Szechuan Ma Po Tofu (named after this pockmarked lady, claims the legend) with these silky smooth noodles. The flavours in this dish is incredibly controlled for you pick up its subtle nuances - the bean paste used in the sauce, each niblet of the minced meat, the silky tofu cubes and the chopped chillies. The slight spicy taste is rather appetizing too that seems to warrant seconds even though you are full to the brim.


From the fieriness, we cool down with the aromatic Chinese almonds cream. Boasting a strong flavour of the Chinese almonds (which are in truth apricot kernels), this was lusciously smooth. Chopped fruits add a textural contrast while the scoop of vanilla ice cream gives it a creamy cool edge.


Specially for the festive season and a must to keep those reporting Kitchen Gods abay from spreading nasty rumours about you, is the traditional nian gao.

Usually pan fried, Gu Yue Tien also does the steamed version that gives it a soft melt in the mouth texture that is seasoned with salt and rolled in fresh coconut shreds. A much healthier and unusual version compared to the pan fried one. While most of the Chinese New Year sets they have feature the pan fried nian gao, you can request for this healthier version if you like.

For the festive season, the restaurant has various menus to cater to your needs. Prices start from RM738++ to RM3,999++ for ten persons. They also cater to small parties (minimum two persons) so check out their offerings. (I will place the scanned menus in my Flickr set later in the day).

Gu Yue Tien
Lot B5-A, Chulan Square
92 Jalan Raja Chulan
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2148 0808

(Non Halal. Restaurant closed only on the first day of Chinese New Year but open throughout the celebrations. For more pictures, see the Flickr set.)

*This is an invited review by the owner.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chinese New Year 2012 @ Chef Choi Restaurant, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur

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Tis the season for yee sang, the colourful salad that rings in our prosperity wishes.

Recently, we rolled off the celebrations with dinner at Chef Choi. It was actually more of a dinner to celebrate a friend's return from Europe and the USA with lots of goodies for us to savour.

Since the festive season was just round the corner, we also indulged in the festive goodies such as the yee sang. The version was very much the traditional one with the crunchy yam shreds, ocean trout sashimi and a drench of their yummy plum sauce.

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Another festive must have is the lap mei fan and Chef Choi's version is a teensy weensy healthier with the use of low GI basmati rice instead of the normal white rice. While it means you sacrifice the crust, this version mean you can finish your rice happily after a full meal. The waxed meats are superb including the famous goose liver sausages from Hong Kong's Yung Kee. Surprisingly locally made lap cheong is used and it is just as good as the Hong Kong versions.


There was also a lot more indulging that night including this melt in the mouth braised pork shoulder served together with all those yummy Chinese New Year goodies such as mushrooms, fatt choy, dried oysters and fresh scallops.


We ate our greens in the form of braised wah wah choy with dried scallops dutifully as we knew more rich crazy carbs was coming our way. This braised dish is always a big favourite of mine that I often have second helpings of the smooth cabbage with the broth and dried scallops.


This was simply gorgeous - the special fried glutinous rice with Hong Kong goose liver sausage. If I wasn't so full from my lap mei fan, I would have eaten loads of this. The sausage adds a nice rich taste to the rice as each nibble bursts into a umami fat laden explosion in the mouth. Since we could not finish this, takeaways were packed and people were eyeing this for their supper or breakfast the next day.

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Finally desserts to end the magnificent meal - the traditional crispy Chinese New Year cake with yam encased in a crispy batter and the very not traditional tiramisu. The tiramisu is simply gorgeous and very light tasting since beaten egg whites are folded to lighten the mascarpone cheese.

So much indulging with great food....thus the best thing of these festivals.

Chef Choi Restaurant
159, Jalan Ampang
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2163 5866

(Non Halal. For more details on the Chinese New Year set menus, see the Flickr set that also contains more pictures.)

*The meal was part of a private dinner between friends where the host paid for the meal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chinese New Year 2012 @ Elegant Inn, Menara Hap Seng, Kuala Lumpur

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Toss your way to prosperity.....the Year of Dragon is just round the corner.

It feels like just yesterday that New Year zipped past us and now another big celebration is due on the horizon. I must admit I'm not ready for the celebrations. Nevertheless, there's no way to stop time from ticking away so the best thing is to make it a great celebration.


Elegant Inn is often our de facto choice for family dinners hence it was cool to get a preview of their Chinese New Year offerings. Makes planning for that all important reunion meal so much easier.

At the Hong Kong centric restaurant, even their yee sang is different - a combination of three items to make it even more bountiful - salmon, clams and crunchy jellyfish. Keeping health in mind and taste, their prosperity dish does not contain a single strand of pickled vegetable or deep fried shredded yam. Instead it is all vegetables - a medley of turnip, pear, radish, carrots, maybe just one pickled leek, pomelo, cucumber and ginger. There is also the must-haves aka the pok pok chui or crackers with a sprinkle of pepper, salt, oil, plum sauce and a generous sprinkle of coarsely ground peanuts.

The wait staff in Elegant Inn add a touch of specialty to the yearly affair by adding auspicious sayings. All the better I reckon to toss and lo sang away to good health, prosperity and whatever our heart wishes.


Once the salad is finished down to its last crunchy cracker, we enjoy a "simple" starter - crunchy salt and pepper coated oyster mushrooms paired with decadent smoked egg topped with a piece of pan fried foie gras.

Prawns are a must for the occasion since they signify happiness. You will be happy to get these sea based crustaceans lovingly coated in a light wine sauce. Believe me, the sauce is finger licking good that I ended up even chewing on the shells for every drop of its delicious sauce.


Next comes an interesting dish, a play of textures in the mouth and of course, the flavours. Nicknamed the crunchy Chinese sandwich, this was a layered beauty. First layer enclosing it was a pillow soft bun, followed by a crispy chicken skin lightly touched with prawn paste that sandwiches a crunchy soybean skin nacho. Lastly a piece of Chinese ham completes this delectable sandwich that you has you clamoring for more.


The piece de resistance was the old fashioned braised pork cartilage rib slow cooked for four hours to fork tender meat and soft bone. The green radish and carrot balances out the rich taste of the dish that you wish you had a bowl of rice to soak up every drop of that delectable liquid.


One must not forget Elegant Inn's infamous lap mei fan. The waxed meats are all handpicked from Hong Kong with a rice that is cooked to fluffy perfection with just a teeny weeny crust at the bottom.


My personal favourite was the simmered Chinese cabbage with Japanese dried scallops and HK dried prawns. The vegetable is cooked till tender and infused with the lovely aroma from the dried seafood that I had to have seconds of this dish.


Like a person once told me before, dessert is reserved for a second stomach. Not sure if this is a true since I don't think we have the anatomy of a cow that boasts of multiple stomachs.

However, when it comes to sweets, we seem to always find a way to consume it including such seasonal items like the New Year cake or ning ko. Elegant Inn's version is just pan fried till it becomes a soft delectable gooey cake with crispy sides. They also make their own hazelnut cookies that have a simple yet alluring taste. Pair this with a lovely red bean paste with black glutinous rice.


Last but not least, a meal is never complete at Elegant Inn without my favourite dessert, their fluffy Ma Lai Koh or steamed cake. The pillow soft steamed cakes are gorgeous and always a must order for the family.

I reckon this meal at Elegant Inn has sealed the deal on where we'll be eating reunion dinner soon. How about you? Where will dinner be? Homeward bound or out at the restaurant for the celebrations.

Elegant Inn
Second Floor
Podium Block
Menara Hap Seng
Jalan P Ramlee
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2070 9399

(Non Halal. For the festive season, there are also a variety of Chinese New Year menus starting from RM1, 088 for 10 persons. Enquire within for the full set meal details.)

*This meal was an invited one. For more pictures and the set menus, see the Flickr set.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Kuala Lumpur Frozen Treats - Gelato and Sorbet Popsicles


Happy 2012. The long silence was a well deserved break from blogging. Blame it on work, a lot of partying, general laziness to even start the Mac every night or maybe just the rain....or the lack of it?

Am back with the first post for the year (pats her own back with a smug smile) with new fangled popsicles crafted from gelato and sorbet. Just think of it as upgrading the "ais krim potong" we all grew up with. These modern sticks are said to be made from all natural ingredients that gives it a creamier bite that beats those commercial sticks filled with palm oil or non dairy elements hands down.

As usual, our city is always a follower versus a trend setter and these gelato popsicles first made waves in New York since 2010. Last year, Singapore joined the pop (pun intended) line up too. Unlike those generic over the counter ice cream popsicles, these lickable portable babies pack more intense flavour as you slowly savour each bite of the popsicle.

Here is my initial look at what Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya is offering. With this sweltering heat or what we know as the "Chinese New Year" weather, who knows.....this craze may just spread all over to Malaysia faster than Chatime's expansion....

G Stick, Ben's General Store, Publika, Solaris Dutamas

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Housed within BIG, that glorious supermarket packed with goodies everyone wants to get their hands on, G Stick claims to serve gelato sticks made from homemade all natural ice creams and sorbets. Each stick is priced at RM8.90. They carry fruit based flavours such as mango, raspberry or even those mixed with yoghurt to give it a creamier aftertaste with less calories. There are some classic gelato flavours like pistachio, chocolate hazelnut and unusual festive ones like chestnut and Christmas pudding. Even the Japanese black sesame is available here.

In addition, you can also select gelato sticks dipped with various "additions". These range from a sinful dark chocolate coating, chopped pistachio nuts and even marshmallows for the rocky road version. Rather than the usual candy bar look, they even do enticing heart shapes.

I sampled the pistachio decadently half covered with dark chocolate with a sprinkle of pistachio nuts. It has a dense creamy texture with a strong natural pistachio flavour. Since it was eaten in an air conditioned area, the gelato stick didn't melt as fast. It only ended a quick demise because I miscalculated how much weight on one side the chocolate coated one would have as I ate through the gelato side.

The downside I reckon would be that the sticks don't move that fast out of the store so freshness could possibly be slightly compromised. After one week of observing the place, I still see the same line of flavours. Nevertheless, a big thumbs up for the G sticks as I really feel I'm eating creamy gelato as I leave it to melt a bit. If I wasn't watching what I ate in anticipation of the Chinese New Year feasting, I'll grab a popsicle everytime I visit BIG.

Gelato Di Bruno, Candylicious, Suria KLCC

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Gelato Di Bruno is housed within every dentist's nightmare aka Candylicious. The place serves a few varieties of gelatos - a variety of different flavours in the traditional manner and also in the stick form. There's a few offerings - the cutesy gelato stick for RM9, the cookie lollipop for RM12 and the sorbet lolly (price is around RM9 if I am not mistaken).

The gelato stick looked more like a cake pop on a small popsicle stick since it was just a teeny weeny scoop of gelato coated with pink, white and dark chocolate and sprinked with chocolate sprinkles or even stars. There's different flavours such as tiramisu, chocolate and vanilla. While the gelato is nice and creamy, I didn't like its taste since the chocolate has a rather fake and sweet flavour. The cookie lollipop looked like a bigger version of the gelato stick.

Not determined on just leaving after sampling the teeny weeny gelato stick, I sampled the sorbet lolly. They had flavours such as mango and raspberry. Luckily I gave it a try as it was excellent. Packed with lots of fruity flavours, the popsicle was very refreshing and extremely moreish. I can envision me polishing a few sticks especially since its a fruit based lolly, it must be healthier right?

Stickhouse, Sunway Pyramid, Petaling Jaya

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In terms of perfect placing, one must admit that Stickhouse has it down pat down....right in front of the ice skating rink at LG2, Sunway Pyramid. There's no end of stream of kids clamouring for a gelato stick here. Moreover, that smooth span of ice with the skaters twirling around always seem to start the cravings for something cold.

This Phillipines based franchise has a mammoth variety of flavours that they break down to classic (RM6.90) and premium (RM8.90) flavours. They also offer mini versions at RM4.90 such as the tangy lemon, creamy milk and everyone's all time, chocolate. The Classic flavours range from the fruity green apple, pineapple, orange, watermelon and the creamier flavours like yoghurt and vanilla. Premium flavours include hazelnut, soy, coffee, milk, grape, mango, strawberry and kiwi.

You also have the option to dip your popsicle in chocolate (a choice of white, dark or milk that varies depending on availability) for an extra RM1. Chopped nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios can also be added for another extra RM1.

I managed to taste the rich hazelnut or Giandula dipped in dark chocolate with a hazelnut topping. The taste is definitely above par from the commercial ones. However in comparison with the G Stick, I felt the taste wasn't as creamy or intense. Stickhouse claims in their brochures that everything is made from 100% natural ingredients. These include a vegetable fibre called inulina that helps increase the absorption of calcium, aids digestion and reduces cholestrol, sodium caseinate that is a protein from milk. Egg white is also added to help to blend air in the mixture while carob bean flour is used as a natural stabilizer to prevent the ice cream from melting too fast. The popsicles also contain fructose, that is low glycemic.

The stall also runs special promotions like their Dip n' Top Friday (which is today, yay!) where you answer a trivia question to qualify for a free chocolate dip and topping. Their second outlet is at Ara Damansara's Citta Mall, Lot G-K07. Next one currently in the pipeline is located at Publika, Solaris Dutamas. To keep in touch with the Stickhouse people, surf their Facebook page.

For more pictures, see the Flickr Set.

Happy Popping. For first timers, just go pop the cherry and have a gelato stick as there's nothing like a cool lolly to beat the heat.
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