Tuesday, June 29, 2010

M = Macaron

deep purple macarons - lavender coloured blackberry macaron from Whisk, followed by deep purple cassis macaron from Nathalie's Gourmet Studio

These dainty French confections made from finely ground almonds and eggwhites seem to be slowly taking over KL with their sweet chewy centres. While we seem to be still languishing in the cupcake craze (doncha hate those artificial tasting frostings!) something that has been over and done with overseas, I for one welcome this new trend. Hopefully as time goes by, more and more people will be coming up with their own versions, including innovative flavours. Maybe a teh tarik or a milky tea macaron, a pandan and gula melaka version, one with a birds nest custard as a filling or how about a savoury one like a sambal macaron, based on the same concept like the infamous Pierre Herme ketchup macaron. I guess any flavour is possible.

macarons are often in various rainbow shades and flavours

In Pierre Herme's Chocolate Desserts cookbook, he describes the perfect macaron to be one with a smooth texture and domed on top (made when you mix the eggwhites with the dry ingredients when some air is knocked out), soft and chewy inside (a trait of perfection) and just a little ragged around the bottoms, where the cookies form a bumpy circlet that is referred to as "the foot". Ideally, once the macaron is filled with ganache, it should be chilled and served the next day, so it softens a little.

Laduree's famous macarons, this version is from Harrods London

While the ones we have here aren't up to the class of Laduree or Pierre Herme, they're pretty decent ones, considering you don't need to fly to get a bite of them. Here's a round-up on places where you can indulge your sweet tooth on these delicate babies without forking monies out for an air ticket to France, London, Hong Kong, Japan and etc. For a whole lot of macarons, see
the Flickr set.

Babycakes Sweet Shoppe

colours seem to be dull for these macarons

Finding these macarons can be a little quest of its own, since I'm not familiar with the new G City Hotel located within G Tower. They're at the most unlikely place - sold within a florist well tucked away in one corner of the building (if you come through from the main entrance, on the right hand side). I first heard about babycakes from
Klue - those fellas whom I go-to-for the latest in town.

these can be a little imperfect though and flat versus domed

It seems these dainty sweeties aren't baked by the florists (two sisters) but it has been sub-contracted to a baker, who produces them every two days. There's various flavours - salted caramel, sesame, green tea, red velvet with nutella, dark chocolate, lemon and etc - all kept in a chiller. Appearance-wise, these are flatter and a little larger than the rest. Out of all the bake shops, this is the only outlet that with a few imperfect shells (probably from transportation from the baker to the shop I reckon). While they have a satisfying crunch when chilled sufficiently, I had varying opinions about their fillings. The salted caramel was amazingly good and the Japanese green tea had a satisfying bitterness to it but I wasn't too impressed with the other flavours. At RM2.20 per macaron, they're decently priced and packed in a pretty black and gold box. However, getting a perfect looking one to give as gifts may be difficult as I felt they didn't have the smooth domed tops and "feet", a perfect macaron should have. The colours also are dull compared to the rainbow colours of the other macarons.

Babycakes Sweet Shoppe
G-02A, Ground Floor
G City Hotel
199 Jalan Tun Razak
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 012-2190069. Open from 10am to 6pm. Closed on Sundays.

Nathalie's Gourmet Studio

a box of technicolour goodies

Nathalie's seem to have set the bar for the macarons, being one of the first to make it readily available in stand-alone bakeries or cafes versus hotel outlets (I think Bakerzin sold them before but they're gone already from KL). Already infamous in the Klang Valley for her macaron classes at the Cooking House, Desa Sri Hartamas and now located at her own gourmet studio, I reckon within a year from now after more people learn how to tackle this "difficult-to-make" sweet indulgence, we will see more places popping up.

colourful caterpillar

The colours are bright and there are loads of variety - a mind-boggling treasure trove of rainbows and flavours. At the moment, there are about 16 flavours are available - cassis, passionfruit, caramel, nougat, praline, framboise, rose litchi or lychee, chocolate, noix de coco (coconut), black sesame, fraise, pistachio, citron, citron vert, vanilla and etc. My favourites are the more tart ones, as the macarons can be toothachingly sweet here. The macarons are baked in house and on a daily to alternate day basis, depending on each of the flavours. Even though they are the priciest macarons around town at RM4.40++ each, these are perfectly dome shaped and smooth with chewy centres and a distinct looking "foot" at the bottom. They come in a clear plastic box, which is tied with a ribbon, making it an attractive present for friends.

Nathalie's Gourmet Studio
Unit A4-01-5
Solaris Dutamas
Jalan Dutamas 1
Kuala Lumpur


(Open from 10am to 6pm. Closed on Sundays.)

Whisk Expresso Bar + Bake Shop

the tiniest macarons around

This cute and cosy place is fast becoming my regular hangout place for their sweet treats (I heart their carrot and red velvet cakes). Occasionally it'll be their fresh-from-the-oven pizza topped with a simplest of ingredients but made with lots of love. I've yet to sample their bagel and cheese, which I have also heard good things about. The baker gals and their mother also express a love for Laduree's macarons, hence their version of dainty confections on display under a glass dome.

pretty macarons in a row

Baked on a daily basis, these ones go for RM2 a piece and are slightly smaller than Nathalie's version. They tend to sell out pretty fast so get them early in the day. Unlike the other shops, this one is kept unchilled thus they can be quite chewy in the middle and soft on the top. Throw them in the chiller for a while and the top develops a crunchy shell.

They also have fun flavours like a blue coloured peanut butter, a pale green pistachio version, a rose variety. There are various flavours available but on one particular day, I managed to get a cheery lemon meringue, pink strawberry, lavender blackberry, caramel and chocolate flavours. While I loved the crisp shell and the "foot" of the macarons, I didn't quite like the fillings as some were way too sweet with no clear distinctive flavour for me.

Whisk Expresso Bar + Bar Shop
LG 03A, Empire Shopping Gallery
Subang Jaya

Open from 10am to 10pm daily. For more information, see their
Facebook page and follow them on Twitter.

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, June 28, 2010

Dining Out @ Tang Pin Kitchen, SS2, Petaling Jaya

green comfort in a bowl - celery mee for RM6.50

A few years back when I first stumbled on the Tang House of Fishball, I was enthusiastic as the food felt like what my mother would cook at home - bouncy natural tasting fishballs, clear soups, fish cakes and etc. Blink a few years away (four to be exact) and it looks like the general public has been very receptive to their food as they now have expanded to six outlets peppered all around the Klang Valley.

frothy hainan tea

I must admit I never tire of eating that simple fare and I'll end up eating at the same Seapark outlet I first discovered four years ago. Through time, the menu has been tweaked to cater to the public's taste. At this particular outlet, their latest one you find old favourites here - celery mee, mee pok, porridge, fishballs, yong tau foo stuffed with fishpaste, fishcakes, fishballs and etc here. However, it also holds one particular item that is not served in the other outlets.

simple yet so tasty sweet and spicy pork belly slices (RM8)

Discovered by my mother who is often the know-all person on what's happening in Petaling Jaya, she raved on about this particular dish that perked my curiousity on a Saturday afternoon. Strangely enough, there are two outlets back to back to each other (even though it has a different name) but there are slight differences to the menu and the restaurant environment. The more packed and familiar Restoran Tien Pin is not air-conditioned while the newer outlet Tang Pin Kitchen has an air-conditioned area.

too sweet a dessert for me - ginger tea dumplings

My bowl of celery noodles was incredibily satisfying - bouncy noodles tinged green with fishballs, thinly sliced fishcakes, little Gem lettuces and surprise surprise, Foochow fishballs stuffed with minced meat within. However the star of my lunch was the simple sweet and spicy pork - cold thinly sliced pork belly slices served with a flavour-packed dip. Concocted by the owner, this dip was slightly tangy (we reckon a little sour plum juice since its a little too mild to be vinegar) and comes with finely chopped coriander, garlic and chillies that adds a teeny weeny kick to the sauce. Simply yums!

Everything was washed down with the Hainan Tea (RM3.50), which came with a frothy head. My only gripe was it didn't taste hot enough. I wasn't too enthusiastic about their ginger tea dumplings either - they must use a pre-made ginger syrup to mix the broth as it was toothachingly sweet that I could only manage a few mouthfuls with my black sesame paste stuffed dumplings. Never mind, next time I'll know better and go for something safer like fu chok yee mai (barley).

Tang Pin Kitchen
No. 24, Jalan SS2/24
Petaling Jaya

(Non Halal. Open from 11am to 11pm daily. This outlet is under the Tang House of Fishball group. They also have another outlet at the shophouse at the back street called Restoran Tien Pin. The restaurant is on the same row of shophouses like Eng Seng Hin Electrical, New Formosa, Nyonya Restaurant and etc. 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.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Northern Indian Food @ Chutney Mary, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur

the pot of goodness - fluffy briyani rice with a touch of aromatic spices
It has been a while since I've indulged in Northern Indian food. Weirdly enough, it's one of those cuisines I absolutely love (something I picked up during my university days in England) but don't seem to eat it often enough. I put it down to the fact the food can be just too filling for dinner and when the two of us dine out, we seem to prefer lighter alternatives like Japanese food.
cute crackers, tangy dips, lovely table settings

While this place is not new (reviews seem to hark back to 2007), I admit I never noticed it until that day we visited. See, the problem with me is whenever I'm in Bangsar, I only zoom in on Village Grocer for my grocery shopping.

palak paneer, butter chicken and prawn curry at the back, faux jewels on the tablecloth, garlic naan
While this place may not be bustling with people (have you noticed how deadly silent the dining scene has been recently? I wonder if this is a sign of the dwindling economy?), I do love their chic decor. Tables are given a bright pink sizzle with runners boasting the restaurant's name and colourful glass shaped jewels. Pink seems to be a beloved colour, as you get that same splash of colour in their toilet facilities including a unique pink coloured sink! All around the place, you see touches of Indian elements - not overwhelmingly so that you don't feel like it has been overdone. My only gripe - they definitely need to republish their menu since it's dog eared and torn in certain places.

Once our orders are placed, food arrives quickly. If you're curious about their cooking methods, you can peek through their open kitchen covered with a glass window to see what is happening. For starters, our crackers came with two types of dips - a mint flavoured one and a mango chutney that tasted homemade and less tangy compared to the bottled variety. The briyani rice (RM9.90) is heavenly - each fluffy grain emitting a lovely aroma of spices that I kept digging into the small pot for more. As Northern Indian curries are rich and creamy, we only sampled their Malabar prawn curry (RM21.90), the butter chicken or murgh hava-mahal (RM18.90) together with one of my must-haves, the palak paneer (RM13.90). I quickly became a fan of their gorgeous butter chicken, a dish rich with flavour and a thick creamy mouth texture. Even the palak paneer, a common dish found in almost all Northern Indian restaurants tasted different as I could actually identify the thick cubes of cottage cheese. My least favourite were the prawn curry since it didn't seem to stand out much compared to the other dishes. The garlic naan (RM5.90) was also nice and fluffy even though they were quite mild with the garlic. We ended our lovely meal with a pot of masala tea (RM11.80 for 2).

I reckon I'll be back for more, as the food definitely perks my interest. I also loved how they beautifully present their food - in copper pots that keeps it warm, a lovely floral clay pot for our briyani rice and even the usual hum-drum flat crackers were given a pyramid shape. Also spotted on their menu - romali bread, a favourite of mine made with no oil as they cook it at the back of the wok.

Chutney Mary
No. 21-G, Jalan Telawi 2
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2282 9923

(Pork free. This place is on the same road as Planters Jim and La Bodega. It is further up from Woods Macrobiotics. Open from 11am until late. 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.

Other review:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Australian Dairy Company @ Parkes Street, Jordan, Kowloon

the unmistakable frontage, milk bottles from Kowloon dairy
Dining in Hong Kong means cha chan teng food or coffee shop places, kinda like our equivalent of kopitiam here. This is where the masses eat since it offers the best value for their money. While one would usually dismiss these meals to mean inferior quality, in Hong Kong this is not the case as they uphold their standards.

food is served quickly while piping hot

Packed with people at all times, the Australian Dairy Company in Jordan often comes up tops in most restaurant guides - in the
WOM Hong Kong guide I bought and from what I read it is also highly rated by openrice, Hong Kong's public forum.

milky ice tea

Established about 30 years ago, this ever-busy place churns out the same stuff it has being doing since day one. Like all other cha chan tengs, there seems to be an element of East meets West here - macaroni soup (made with Campbells chicken soup as spied from the kitchen supplies) with ham, scrambled eggs amid wobbly soft steamed milk puddings.

serious coffee business, cramped and packed with people, busy busy delivering drinks

Everyone goes for the set - piping hot macaroni soup with ham, a drink and a sandwich with ham or eggs. Since I had an earlier meal, I only opted for the scrambled eggs sandwich and a drink, raising the eyebrows of the waiter who thought I was weird for not going for the set.

smooth egg white milk pudding

Service is super fast as food keeps emerging piping hot from a small kitchen. You have men in white coats moving quickly around the service counter to deliver the food as fast as possible, so their turnover of customers is increased.

signboards jostle for your attention on Parkes Street
I share a table with a mother and son who looks like he just came from school in his uniform. My scrambled eggs may look ordinary but it was fluffy with just a bit of buttery taste to give it flavour. Best eaten between the two slices of pillow soft white bread that it is served with. I also loved my milk and egg white pudding - soft and wobbly it was just the perfect ending for me. Now I know why there's even a Facebook page paying tribute to this chan teng's wonderful attributes (at last count, about 9155 fans have signed up so far).

Australian Dairy Company
47-49, Parkes Street

Tel: 2730-1356

(Non Halal. Open from 7.30am to 11pm daily. To get here, take the Jordan MTR to reach Parkes Street. For more pictures, see
my Flickr set.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dining Out @ Chong Fatt Seafood Restaurant, Jalan Selatan, Off Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur

stare me down - Thai BBQ crab on a charcoal grill

I often wonder if life is driven by an invisible hand...and how sometimes events seems to collide. The reason why I was pondering on this was just before I went to this restaurant, I got an email from Denis -a blog reader from Australia who was asking me about Teochew Restaurant in Pudu. A faithful customer of the old school place, he was wondering what happened to it. Sadly, I had to break the news to him that they closed for business after Chinese New Year. The one bright spark was the restaurant's former chefs are still in town and working at various restaurants like Chong Fatt. Sadly there is no Teochew dim sum though, which was what Denis wanted as he's a dim sum addict.

good for you crispies....made from fish scales

Nevertheless dinner at Chong Fatt was literally a discovery for my tummy - partaking in some very unusual items like fish scales(!) and duck brain. This particular place that operates in a spacious grounds with ample parking space, is famous for their fresh seafood that is plucked from a row of aquariums. Right next to the Chinese restaurant, there is a more casual dining spot also owned by them, where Thai BBQ dishes and steamboat are available till 2am. The Thai BBQ section has a Thai chef presiding over it, which reminds me a little of Nong & Jimmy minus the yau char kwai with bright green kaya. Here you can pick and select your seafood - crabs, prawns, squid, clams, chicken, lamb and etc, to be grilled on the hot coals.

duck brain = bird brain or foie gras for the poor, the succulent Sichuan tea smoked duck

Our tummies were first soothed by bowls of the cong zao fish bone and chicken soup (RM13.80 per bowl) - a broth packed with flavour from cordycep flower, ginseng, red dates, black spring chicken and chunks of deep-fried garoupa fish bones. So full of flavour from being double boiled for six hours, I was slowly sipping this down and relishing every spoonful that I could see I was the last one to finish.

ikan kelah fish swimming in the tank, steamed and ready to be eaten, the flavour packed fish bone and chicken soup

Filled with the warmth from my soup, I tackled the next dish - braised till tender goose web with an abalone (RM20 per serving) nestled on top of it. A little bit of squid paste held the tender abalone in place. I loved the sauce that had absorbed all the yummy flavours and wished I had bread to mop up the lovely sauce. Next it was the fish scales looking more like deep fried crackers tossed in a salt and pepper mixture with chillies and spring onions. It took us a while to guess but it turned out to be the large scales of a river fish - ikan kelah (RM12.80 per 100g) that I had earlier snapped a picture of it. Subsequently, the steamed fish came lightly anointed with soy sauce - simply sublime stuff steamed to perfection as the fish flesh was tender with just a little Omega 9 oil.

tender braised goose web with abalone

The food kept rolling in....including a large platter of Sichuan tea smoked duck (RM35 for half, RM65 for whole) that had been boiled in a herbal broth to infuse it with flavour, smoked with a mixture of tea leaves, rice and sugar, and subsequently deep fried to give it a crispy skin. Even though I was getting quite full by then, I couldn't resist taking a few pieces of the duck as it was succulent and infused with the lovely tea flavour. I was then persuaded to try the duck brain - seems it is the prized part. That definitely perked my interest and I gave it a nibble. Hmmm, kinda tastes like goose liver - tender and soft. There's not much to go around though, as it's just a small piece (literally the bird brain!). I nibble the other parts of the head and it's packed with flavour. The next thing I know, I'm a convert and I can confirm that the duck head is definitely the best part!!

Thai BBQ prawns from the platter

We also got to sample the Thai chef's specialties, as we were served a Thai BBQ platter (RM50) - grilled lamb, chicken, prawns and squid, which was accompanied with four types of chilli sauce. Everything tasted good but my favourite was the lamb - tender and flavourful even without a dip of my favourite green chilli and lime sauce.

the unusual combo of pumpkin, bean sprouts, salted vegetable, bitter gourd and chillies

Next it was a spicy and slightly sweet honey sauce prawns with yellow ginger sauce (RM18 for 100g). The spicy creamy sauce would have gone well with a bowl of hot rice. Only one dish failed to impress - the kaw yoke or pork belly slices with peanuts as it lacked any flavour. Last but not least, it was an unusual vegetable dish - a combo of pumpkin slices, bean sprouts, thinly sliced bitter gourd and salted vegetable (RM15); all fried with spicy red bird-eye chillies and chillies. Slightly crunchy and soft from the pumpkin slices, it was a refreshing dish with a little spicy kick from the chillies. We finally ended our feast with dessert in the form of double boiled hasma with sugarcane (RM10 per serving) - a pleasant concoction to sooth the full tummies.
Chong Fatt Seafood Garden
Lot 208, PT48, Jalan Selatan
Off Jalan Imbi
Kuala Lumpur

Tel:03-2141 1969/2141 1662
(Non Halal. Place is open daily until 2am. For the detailed location map, see my Flickr set that also has more pictures and details of the dishes.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Penang Curry Mee @ Restoran OK, SS2, Petaling Jaya

mix the sambal in to give kick to your curry mee

This must be the most elusive stall I have been pursuing for a long time. I was once told about the existence of this place and forewarned about the difficulty in getting a bowl of curry mee here. Seems it only opens for business from 7.30 to 8am and by 9.30am, they are already scraping the last bits of their daily curry broth.

vegetables are healthy for you

Maybe I was in denial as I never believed the urban legend and used to drop by way beyond 9.30am to test it out. The many times I visited, I turned up with nothing as the stall would have closed for business. I was still happy to visit as I loved the
Lui cha here. The enterprising owner would come up with various types - eat it with crispy fried noodles, with healthier brown rice and the latest version I came across, all wrapped up in a cheong fun or rice flour roll. Priced at RM2.50 a roll, it was a little pricey but yummy stuff indeed with loads of greens within.

crispy popiah

Another stall that kept be occupied was the crispy popiah place that bore a striking resemblance to what is served at Sisters Popiah. This stall wasn't as nice as the Sisters but was pretty passable and decent.

I finally struck lottery one day, as I just managed to make it by 9.30 am (I'm not much of an early riser!) and after begging for a bowl, I finally got a taste of the infamous curry mee with the characteristic mild curry flavour topped with cockles, tofu puffs, blood cubes and brown cuttlefish. I've been hankering for a porky version of Penang styled curry mee for quite some time, especially since I found out Lorong Seratus Tahun has stopped serving their version with blood cubes since they have gone "pork free". This version passed muster for that day but didn't wow my tastebuds to sing, hallelujah!! I wonder whether I got short changed since it was literally the scrap of the barrel. Nevertheless, I shall attempt again to return for an earlier bowl. Now who is going to give me an early wake up call for me to reach there by 8am!!

Restoran OK
Jalan SS2/10
Petaling Jaya

(Non Halal. Restaurant also sells amazingly good wantan noodles with siu kau, Sarawak noodles and venture here at night for the Teochew braised duck.)

*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.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Hong Kong market walkabout

colourful corn

How do you know if you're a true foodie? One indication would be that you head towards the local markets to check out what is happening. It was a rule my dad used to practice all the time - the moment he arrived in any strange foreign place, he will always check out the market, no matter what time it would be.

chopping spring onions, carrots in attention

The market is literally the heart and soul of the locals. You learn so much just from walking through the market, picking up clues on what people's preferences are.

my durian

In Hong Kong for instance, they may not produce any (or very little) vegetables, fruits and livestock since it is a small country but they definitely import in the best and the most fresh items from all over the place. I reckon that explains why the simplest chan teng food tastes a thousand times better in Hong Kong as the quality and freshness of their produce makes a big difference.

fish that is so fresh it is still moving

Freshness is utmost for them especially when it comes to their fish. Unlike Malaysia, where we seem to buy our fish dead, here they only buy "live fish" that are still swimming around albeit in shallow makeshift aquariums. You see them knocking the fish senseless with a heavy wooden bat, slaughtering it so quickly that by the time, you're choosing the fish, the gills is still moving with its last breath. Ruthless but this means it is super fresh.

crabs, razor clams and geoduck

It is also interesting to see how prized the fish head is versus the other parts of the body. Seems the fish head is favoured by them as it is used to make soup - one of the Hong Kong people's daily must-haves. That is why you also see mountains of roots as these are used to add a sweet flavour to the broth that they consider as a health tonic.

braised pigeons

Now I know why durian pancakes are a staple in Hong Kong's dessert places as they really love their thorny fruit. You find them milling around the king of fruits, selecting which one to buy to bring home. Seems they only get the Thai version - the ones we often dismiss with disdain since it is too sweet for us. Mangosteens are even available as I discover that hail from the tropical weather Hainan island.

all things soy - silky soft tau fu fah, old style green tiles, their version of yong tau foo, wobbly tofu

No one goes hungry at the markets - you get all kinds of cooked food too at stalls around the place. Stop by for a refreshing drink or wobbly soft tau fu fah, freshly made at the back of the stall. I absolutely love the fresh soy bean milk, served piping hot and brimming with soy goodness. At this simple stall decked in green tiles, they sell all kinds of soy bean products - fermented bean curd dotted with red bits, stuffed tofu with fish paste, silky soft tau fu fah which you eat with a sprinkle of yellow sugar, wobbly and soft tofu and etc. Don't forget the iconic red lanterns - they're all over the place and like my friend J says it gives the food an undeniable warmth that makes it more attractive.

siu yoke to take home

If you want something more substantial, they also have an array of braised items - goose, pigeon and any part of the goose or pig for you to choose from. Roast meats are also available for you to chop and take home. You will definitely never go hungry here!!

Wet Market

(Just off Mongkok's goldfish markets and around Tung Choi and Nelson Streets. For more pictures, see my Flickr set. Thanks to J for bringing me around these markets!)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Yau Char Kwai @ Stall in front of Restaurant Lim Mee Yoke, SS2, Petaling Jaya

glorious golden crullers

Don't you just love it when you stumble onto new discoveries? This place may not be new to most PJ folks but for me on an early Saturday morning it felt that way. I've heard quite a lot about this legendary stall that served one of the best ever yau char kwai in town but since breakfast is never my forte (I'm too much of a night owl), I've not ventured around this place in the mornings.

expanding in the oil, long chopsticks and pressing the dough together

By chance I stumbled onto the hordes of people patiently gathered around this stall. The crowd looked interesting hence I joined them as I was curious why everyone was willing to wait 15-30 minutes for the yau char kwai. The small consolation of waiting forever for your food. You get to compensate by observing how it is done.

stretching it out just before it is slipped into the hot oil

Even though this stall owner makes other varieties: dough wrapped with a thick slab of glutinous rice, with red bean, sprinkled with five spice powder, everyone asks for their yau char kwai and is willing to sacrifice precious time for it. Regulars will just fill up the exercise book, the stall owner's wife keeps track of the orders.

For his work, everything is prepped up ahead. For instance the dough is packed in plastic boxes that he can reach out for whenever he makes a fresh batch. The oil used to fry the fritters is also fresh and golden in colour, unlike those who recycle the oil a million times till it blackens. It is interesting to see how he treats the yau char kwai's dough a little differently - kneading it one more time with flour before leaving it to rest under a specially designed compartment with a stainless steel lid.

Once rested, he stretched it into a long piece of dough, flattens it, scatters a little sesame seed, and starts to divide them by cutting it into even pieces. Then he reaches out for a long thin metal rod. With deft fingers, he places one cut piece of dough on top of another to overlap. A quick press with the metal rod onto the dough makes an indentation. He then proceeds to stretch the dough with two hands and drops it into the hot oil. It puffs up to form those crullers we call yau char kwai. The two pieces are stuck together, puffing up and turning golden brown in the hot oil. Continous turning by a long chopsticks see these fritters get evenly cooked into a beautiful golden brown colour.

Well worth the wait, each piece is crunchy on the outside, soft inside and light. I can imagine this will be great with a bowl of piping hot soy bean milk or plain porridge. If you're a crispy dough addict, head over here as this may just be the best ones in the town.

Yau Char Kwai Stall
In front of Lim Mee Yoke (or the magazine shop next to it)
Jalan SS2/6
Petaling Jaya

(Pork free. Available from 9am to 12 noon and night time too. For a load 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.

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Other reviews:

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hong Kong 2010

Hong Kong's tram or "ding ding" - diorama style

Based on the comments I've been receiving, I guess all of you are eager to see what I did in Hong Kong. It's been a slow process of running through the pictures, editing and resizing them that I have been dreading doing the blog posts. To appease all of you, I've decided to compromise and use a summary format (kinda like a preview on what is to come further) I read from
kampungboycitygal - the food bloggers I referred to for my Hong Kong eats. Thanks to their informative site, I learnt about openrice, a popular food forum there. I was also very fortunate to have a great foodie visiting Hong Kong at the same time, the very informative Jeanette Han (J) from Elegant Inn in Menara Hap Seng who also took me around. On to the food we go!

1. Tsim Sha Tsui

sweet lollipops, dining with a view - the Hong Kong island view with the IFC tower

My hotel was at the very picture perfect Victoria Harbour and right next door to the deluxe-label laden Harbourcity. The moment we arrived in Hong Kong, it was afternoon tea at the two Michelin star Cucina restaurant (Sixth Floor, Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Harbour City, Tel:2113 0808) - literally dining with a view. Homemade marshmallows and luscious strawberry lollipops, thick sandwiches, light scones with clotted cream, a to-die-for chocolate mousse cake perked up the day.

curry fishballs, Roll's black sesame and light and fluffy eggy sponge cakes cooked a la minute

Dining around here was a mish-mash of snacks that I inevitably found. I made a beeline for Tak Fat Beef Balls (Temporary Hawker Stalls, Haiphong Road that is opposite Langham Hotel) , located at a temporary food court that looked so out of place amid the snazzy designer labels. Beef balls were good and as described in previous blogs, very bouncy and firm. On one night, I wander up Canton Road and discover a sweet heaven of sorts - The Sweet Dynasty (Ground Floor, 100, Canton Road, Tel:2199 7799) that serves tong sui, dim sum and etc. Loads of endorsements from Chua Lam for this place. The tau fu fah is super smooth while the mango pancakes is filled with pillowy soft whipped cream and chunks of sweet mango.

Mille feuille, matcha cake and the popular Hong Kong dessert of mango pancakes

I so wanted to try everything yet I felt a little lost since I'm not so familiar with the Kowloon side having only stayed in Hong Kong island before. Following open rice's suggestions, I managed to find ever so popular Roll (A1, G/F Granville House, 41 C-D Granville Road, Tel: 2191 9212). This place was also featured in
CNNgo. Available in two sizes (large and small), I thought the black sesame roll just didn't pack a punch or was worth my walk to look for this place.

the view from my hotel room (diorama style), creme brulee and bouncy beef balls at Tak Fat

Instead I end up being more excited over curry fishballs I spot along Granville Road and those iconic eggy biscuits I have often seen in my TVB dramas. My French fascination continued with a visit to
Jean-Paul Lafayet for their rich tasting creme brulee, the matcha cake and mille feuille that came recommended by open rice.

2. Jordan

fluffy scrambled eggs

I guess you can't go to Hong Kong and not eat their char chan teng food - a kinda Chinese spin on Western fare. At the very popular Australian Dairy Co (47-49 Parkes Street, Tel: 2730-1356), the place is packed with people eating their set meals. Macaroni soup (made from Campbells canned soup) is popular here as everyone has a bowl in front of them. I love the silky egg white custard they have that melts in my mouth while I observe the going ons and their super fast service.

3. Mong Kok

MRT sign, Polo Buns and milk tea.

Another must-have is the Polo buns from Kam Wah Cafe & Bakery (GF, 47 Bute Street, MRT exit Prince Edward B2 Tel: 23926830) that J brings me for a quick morning breakfast. Buns come out piping hot from the oven so eat them quickly with a dash of rich smooth milk tea. You can order breakfast of noodles with sausage and eggs that you mix together.

all dressed up and no where to go - salt baked chooks

Next it was the ultimate foodie heaven - a walk through the wet markets of Hong Kong. Near the goldfish market, everything is super fresh right down to the poor fish that gets sliced so quickly, its gills are still pumping away even it has been decapitated like Anne Boleyn. I stop by some tau fu fah and find it fascinating how Thai durians are so popular in Hong Kong.

4. Sheung Wan

cold crab to start with

We cross over to Hong Kong island to try old style Chiu Chow dishes at Sheung Hing Chiu Chow Restaurant (33 Queen's Road West, Tel: 2544 8776). Well known as the rich man's canteen, it is rumoured that late at night you can see Rolls Royces and other premier cars parked at the kerb of the restaurant. I didn't see any of those but was well satisifed with the food especially the cold crab dipped with vinegar, the sinfully good braised goose with liver and many more dishes.

5. Lan Kwai Fong and Central

the stall, tong sui and my favourite glutinous rice balls

Going around the Mid-Levels, I'm introduced to the new hip place to hang out aka Soho while Lan Kwai Fong seems to attract a tourist clientele who hang out in front of the 7-Eleven for cheap booze. There are small stalls tucked within the mod places and at one place, we drop by for tong sui and a glutinous rice ball dessert that I loved. A little hot, it is best eaten rolled with the sugar and coconut mixture served on the side. I also get to try the unusual seaweed with green bean tong sui.

diorama Mid Levels

I have fun snapping pictures from on top creating the toy model-like effect on the place. Later in the week, I end up around here as I'm meeting an old friend over tea at Cafe De Coral. The place serves reasonable food. I also visit Peking Garden at Pacific Place, to meet up relatives and eat one yummy Peking duck.

6. Causeway Bay

porky delights, busy busy busy, the glutinous rice rolls

In my earlier visits to Hong Kong, Causeway Bay was my hangout. Going back after so many years kinda made me realised how things remain relatively the same - the crowds around Sogo especially when there's a sale and the famous pedestrian crossing. J brings me to a wonderful Japanese place, Iroha (2/F, Jardine Center, 50 Jardine's Bazaar, Tel: 2882 9877)well tucked in a building that serves value for money lunch sets with to-die-for meats that you grill on a hot stove. I spot unusual sticky rice buns at the nearby shop. These rolls seem to start out with yau char kwai stuffed with pork floss and is dressed or literally wrapped with glutinous rice. There's not much taste to it but it makes a great substantial brekkie especially with a piping hot soybean milk. Sadly I don't see my old hangouts with the char leong and cheong fun.
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