Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Review: Paradiso, Taman Danau Desa

Restaurant: Paradiso
Address: 5-0-2, Jln 3/109F, Danau Business Centre, Taman Danau Desa, KL
Tel: 603 7981 9996
Cuisine: Italian
Other reviews: Fried chillies
Verdict: Home-cooked Italian cooking, dont expect anything fancy

This has been my local Italian joint for more than 10 years. Paradiso was one of the first few shops to open in Danau Business Centre. I remember this because the whole family was happy to have a greater variety of restaurants in our taman so of course we had to try it out.

What I like about the place is the ambience - it feels like you're in the home of an Italian, especially since the whole place is run by one! They've been here since Day 1 and I remember how young the daughters were when they'd first arrived. Now, they're all grown up (and so have I!).

Another big plus for me is of course the convenience since it's just a stone's throw from my home.

Food-wise, my siblings, Rommel and I all like the mushroom risotto which is sinfully rich (think cream and butter). At one point, they used oyster mushrooms (which are one of the cheapest options around) but during dinner last Monday, they've improved the risotto by using button and portobello mushrooms.

Rommel and I also had a pizza (I can't remember for the life of me now what the name of the pizza was but it had beef pepperoni and turkey ham on it). Not a very big portion so it was just nice for the 2 of us. I won't say it's the best pizza I've had (I prefer the ones in Shook!, Starhill and in Telawi Street Bistro, Bangsar). But you can just feel the "love" that was put into making it.

We both had Iced Lemon Tea for drinks which wasn't very nice, to be frank. But the drinks are decently priced and if in doubt, you can't really go wrong with canned drinks.

The thing is, this place has survived all these years, has never been super packed but consistently had at least 2-3 tables each time we go there. I think its customers are mostly the local Taman Desa crowd (have bumped into neighbours and church members there).

Similar restaurants are the Pizza Uno chain perhaps, although I have only tried that once and didn't think it was that good, rather disappointing considering all the hype about it. I even got my dad to try the Pizza Uno in Puchong during one of his lunches and never heard the end of it from him about how he didn't like it.

So, I'm not sure if I would recommend this to someone living far away. But, I'll definitely go back there, especially on weekday nights when I feel like eating out instead of getting Evelyn to cook. If you want typical, home-cooked Italian food, this is where I go to for mine.


P/S: Shen, it's Ascension Thursday tmrw so remember to go for Mass. Day of obligation!
It's also Labour Day in Malaysia tmrw. Yippee... I need to catch up on sleep!

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Climate Change Week

Just back from the Malaysian premiere of The 11th Hour, a film about global warming produced and narrated by Leonardo Dicaprio.

Climate Change Week 2008 in Malaysia has been organised by YTL Corp, and so my mom got some invites to attend this premiere. *click here for details on Climate Change Week*

Incidentally, Rommel and I watched Al Gore's The Inconvenient Truth over the weekend, which I feel made The 11th Hour more meaningful. The main difference was that Al Gore's presentation had a lot more facts, more data and charts... something I am very much used to, being a research analyst.

But both films complement each other as The 11th Hour was more pictorial and had a lot of quotes from various scientists and activists. I would recommend watching The Inconvenient Truth first then The 11th Hour as the story flows better that way.

At the end of it, I have to ask myself... What do I get from all this? What is the point of watching all these films, commending these people for their efforts, and then going back to my same wasteful, highly energy inefficient life.

That's what I need to sleep on tonight. Ta... It's midnight here. Work tmrw..

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Reviews: Ume-Tei Japanese and Bubba Gump; Champs and Restoran Overseas

We tried 2 new places this weekend (Ume-Tei and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co).. and went to 2 firm favourites (Champs and Restoran Overseas).

Restaurant: Ume-Tei Japanese Restaurant
Address: 3rd Floor, Amcorp Mall, Persiaran Barat, off Jln Timur, PJ
Tel: 603-79541397
Verdict: Value for money.

Rommel and I went for 11.30am Mass at SFX and were scheduled to pick my mom up at 3pm from church (they had a 2-day GSS this weekend). So what to do for about 2hrs? Rommel came up with the Amcorp Mall idea to check out the flea market. Something we've been meaning to do but just never got round to it.

So anyway, we'd read about this Japanese restaurant in Amcorp in the papers so figured we shd go look for it.

At first impression, this place is pretty nondescript, nothing really special but it does give off a homey type of vibes, similar to the little ramen shops I'd been to in Japan with the family. But we still went in anyway. What's the worst that can happen, right? You'll never know until you try.

I took the Ramen set which cost RM18. Really value for money! My set included:
1) the ramen - which was a decent size, had some chicken ham, crab sticks, ample veg and seaweed. Tasty soup but I detected quite a bit of MSG.
2) rice - which you can choose between the garlic fried rice or just white rice. We took the fried rice. Not very good but still addictive.
3) Chicken katsu - crispy and nice. Came with a side of salad and potato salad in small but adequate portions.
4) the usual pickles and cut fruit.

Rommel took the nigiri sushi set costing RM27. He's actually seen the a la carte sushi platter which was RM53 but the lady boss was honest enough to say they didnt have the belly tuna today so they weren't serving that. They also have a cheaper option where some of the sushi is from local fish and another even cheaper option with all just local fish. The set comes with miso shiru, chawan mushi, pickles and fruit.

Verdict: We decided that the place was worth a visit should we step into Amcorp during the day again. But maybe not a place to bring my dear ol' fussy dad. We've put it in the same category as Kajitsu Nihon Ryori and the Japanese restaurant in Faber Towers, both in Taman Desa, KL. Which therefore means, I'd just stick to these 2 places since they're in my neighbourhood.

Restaurant: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co
Location: The Curve, Mutiara Damansara.
(Sorry no contact details. I took a menu/pamphlet which I thought had their contacts but it turns out, it's only a list of their menu. But I'm sure you wont have trouble looking for it in the Curve. It's across from Marche, upstairs.)
Verdict: Wont be going back anytime soon.

The restaurant's theme is basically the Forrest Gump movie, very American - read big portions and cheesy tag lines. In the same category as TGIFs and Chillis (although Rommel and I vote that nothing beats Chillis!).

I got all excited after seeing an article on it in Friday's Star. So off we went that night itself.

We ordered the Cajun Shrimp and the New England Clam Chowder for starters. The shrimp were pretty small (but not as pathetic as the ones we get in the UK!) and I think it was too buttery and salty. The clam chowder tasted like it was one of those instant packet ones and you just add some extra clams and diced veg into it.

For the main course, we took Mama's Southern Fried Chicken and Bubba's After the Storm "Bucket of Boat Trash".

The chicken was not too bad, I suppose. An overdose of mashed potatoes though and they even put the gravy on top of the chicken. I dont know if this is how it's usually served, but I prefer my fried chicken without the sauce.

The "Bucket" consisted of deep fried shrimp, lobster tail (which were actually those mini yabbie lobsters, like the ones they serve in Max) and baramundi. Served with fries. It was alright but again, with everything deep fried, not the healthiest of options.

Enough said. I dont think we'll be going back anytime in the near future.

Restaurant: Champs
Location: Centrepoint, Bandar Utama

We had dinner with the parents and some friends. 12 of us in total so luckily Aunty RubyAnn and Uncle Max know the owner. And someone had thought to book the table beforehand. Cos when we got there, it was super super packed!! I think it was partially because there was a Chelsea vs Man U game on so some ppl were there to watch the game.

Champs is pretty much your neighbourhood pub serving superb food.. and a decent pint.

My fav there is the char kuey teow. Stir fried to perfection with slices of Chinese sausage and a touch of fried lard to finish. YUM.... I seem to always order that whenever I go and I constantly have cravings for it (like now).

Champs is also famous for its Ipoh hor fun, its Hokkien mee (Black Worm Noodles in the menu) and its grilled baby back pork ribs (yes you read that right. I was so happy I found a place that sold proper pork ribs, as opposed to the beef ribs we have to live with in most restaurants here.). I remember my brother once ordered the Mee Mamak which was not too bad too.

The new item on the menu was the fish head soup noodles. My dad had tried it previously and said it wasn't that good but my mom ordered it anyway and I must say I like it! Peppery and not too much ideal milk... only thing was there wasn't enough noodles.

Always a favourite local pub in my books. I ended the night with a nice refreshing Hoegaarden. (Hey, you can't go into a pub, watch football and not have beer!)

Restaurant: Overseas at Armada, PJ
Verdict: Best for steam fish

Sunday night's dinner venue. My dad defrosted the tail end of a grouper Uncle Loh gave us. He said, for such a fine piece of fish, we had to bring it to the chef at Overseas in Armada because his style of cooking such fish was unbeatable. And I agree, whole-heartedly.

We had the fish blanched in oil and then steamed... to perfection. I think this method of cooking is called "yau tzam wat" (sorry am really bad with Cantonese pronounciations although I really am trying to learn to speak the language)

Also ordered the sliced pork belly with salted fish in claypot. My sister's favourite so since I was talking to her while on the way there, she requested that we ate it on her behalf.

And the homemade taufu with "sing kua" veggie. My brother's favourite - he can eat a bowl of rice with just this dish alone.

And some chicken herbal soup which was the only option they had left for the night. Not bad. I always like soup.

And my favourite veggie - "dau miu" in Canto or "dou miao" in Mandarin. It's so difficult to get it in Malaysia. I ask for this dish at every Chinese restaurant we go to but rarely ever get it. We had it stir fried with garlic and strips of Chinese ham.

What was really funny was that one of the managers came over to talk to us and started commenting on the fish, trying to act like he knew a lot. Then my dad said, actually, we brought the fish, it's not from your kitchen. Then my dad started rattling off names of some managers who used to be at the Armada Overseas but have since been transferred around to the other outlets. Then the chef himself came out to say hi and said the fish was a really good piece. I guess the manager must have been new and maybe thought we didn't know better about the fish we were eating.

Anyway, that was it... Another weekend of feasting. and another weekend before my diet ever starts. Muahaha...

Friday, 25 April 2008

OMG I bought more yarn

I know I know.. I've got loads to do at work.. I need to study for my exam... and so what on earth am I doing shopping online?!?!?

This is a rather prevailing trend in my family. When we are stressed, we shop. It happens with my mom and I see it happening to my sis and I.

(Shen, don't lie. I used to see the whole stream of emails from Ebay saying "You have bidded for XXXX" and "You have won XXXX". Just because I dont get those emails now doesnt mean we dont know how much you're buying over there!!)

So I happily come into office today, happy because it's a Friday and because I had my day planned out. Get the daily stuff done, finish and send out the end of week stuff, work on one financial model in the morning, do a little studying in the afternoon, pack up and go home early so that I can miss the jam and studying again at night. Simple.

Then my fingers got itchy and decided to click on a few knitting blogs. And I remembered the Plucky Knitter blog... she sells these really gorgeous yarn too so I thought I could buy some to try them out. I tried last week but somehow it didnt work so I decided to try again...

And bought 4 balls of yarn (at about US$20-25 a ball).. :D

I must say, HSBC is getting super duper efficient - they called me to confirm just as I was printing out my receipt!

Total cost was US$105.25 including shipping. I've figured that not only is it slightly cheaper buying online as opposed to the Sg Wang shop, it's also much cheaper buying from US sites with the weak dollar. The British pound is still going strong which makes it a pain everytime I convert it back to ringgit!

And to make me feel even happier, the yarn I bought from Jimmy Beans Wool should be on its way here!

In case you're wondering why the sudden urge to buy yarn, it's because I came across one blog a while where the person had a whole glass case FULL of yarn she hadn't used. And lots of WIPs too. So I figured that there is no such thing as too much yarn.

Here's how Im justifying my impulse purchase: My mom has her collection of bags, shoes, jewelry and clothes. My dad has his collection of wine and fancy Chinese herbs (Shen I will call you and tell you what Pa did last Sunday and how much he SPENT! Makes me feel a lot less guilty about buying things). Shen, you have your kimono collection. Patty has his music and games collection. So mine shall be yarn and moisturisers.

If you did not already know, my nickname at boarding school was Moisturiser Queen. I had, and still have, a whole collection of moisturisers. I love trying different types - face or body. Which reminds me, I have been meaning to do a review on beauty products.. Like what's the best day moisturiser, best sunscreen, best shower gel etc.. Coming soon..

Ta for now!

p/s: Shen, did you check out the link for that Chocolate Museum in Barcelona? I've also found a yarn shop not very far from our hotel. Muahaha...

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Random childhood pics

I was just noticing that I haven't posted pictures in a while. And I happened to have some of my childhood pics on softcopy. Super...

My toy room in all its glory. It has since been converted into our family prayer room..
Great memories playing and taking naps in here. I think I was about 4-5 yrs old.

I think we were on holiday somewhere near a beach.. But I cant remember where. Just thought this was a cute picture of me spying on my dad sleeping. Me aged 3..

Myself, aged 2, with my cousin Adrian, aged 6 six. Again, we were on some family holiday by the beach.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Knit update: I've finally bought yarn online!

Okay I know that you must think I live in the Stone Age or something since I've never bought yarn online. I just dont know why I haven't to be honest.

When I was in London, I did buy clothes online from Boden and surfed on eBay for interesting things. But since coming back to KL, just never did.. Of course it didn't help that internet at home was super-duper slow so I just didn't bother to log on!

Anyway, I bought I think 15 balls of yarn from Jimmy Beans Wool (one of the yarns I wanted initially was sold out so I changed to a different colour). I cant remember how much it all costs now and I haven't received the final bill from them. But I'm happy... Can't wait to get them. Hurray!

I also went back to Lily Handicraft in Sg Wang Plaza (I blogged about it previously) and bought yarn to make a scarf for my colleague Ellie.. She like wearing black most of the time in the office but I didn't want to give her something in that colour... yet I wanted something that she can use regularly.. The lady at Lily Handicraft suggested this lovely brown baby wool yarn, costing RM35.90 per ball. In fact, there was quite a selection of colours but I thought the brown was a really rich colour and would go well with pretty much any outfit.

I decided to do a simple lace knit, the same one I used for Suen's scarf but minus the border. And it's on a much tighter gauge so the pattern really shows up nicely. I must say, this yarn is one of the softest I have ever knitted with... so nice!! I've actually brought it to office. No, I wont knit in the office but instead, I'll knit on the way home while stuck in the jam... Multi-tasking I say. So if you see a mad woman knitting furiously at the traffic lights, it most likely will be me!

Okay, lunch break over... Ta~

p/s: Shen I have bad news.... or rather... traumatic news for myself. I went to the supermarket in Pavilion just now and passed by the place where Paul was supposed to open. They've changed it to another shop... Corningware I think. *sob* and I was so hoping that Paul was going to open and I can pig out on macaroons and tarts. :'(

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Recipe: Super easy cottage pie

It's Sunday evening. You're dreading work tmrw and want to have a stress free night in preparation for the week. And then you have to cook dinner...

That was pretty much how this evening went for me. And since I felt like eating ragu sauce, just thought it'll be great to make cottage pie today.

I apologise though because I didn't exactly measure the ingredients.. Just threw everything in and hoped for the best!

First, dice one large onion, a few cloves of garlic, 2 carrots and 2-3 stalks of celery.
Also, preheat a fan oven to 220'C.
Heat olive oil in a large pan - medium heat, throw in the onion and garlic and let them sweat for 5 mins.
Then, add in the carrots and celery and cook for another 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
Next, add in minced beef (or lamb) and stir until the meat is browned. (I have not noted how much meat to add in because I'd bought too little of the meat. But what turned out was a more veggie-based and healthier meal.)
Then, stir in a large jar of pasta sauce, some bay leaves, oregano (or just use one of those mixed herb combos for convenience).
Let the sauce cook for about 5 mins if you like your veggies with a bit of a crunch, longer if you want them softer. The recipes I've looked at had the sauce simmering from a range of 20mins to 1hr. There must be a reason for this but I like my veg to still contain its nutrients rather than an unnutrious blob of mush..
Pour the sauce into an oven-proof pan.
Next, peel some potatoes and grate them. Sprinkle salt over it to prevent from browning and stir in melted butter and pepper for taste. Immediately spread this over the sauce and smooth the top. Add a dash of olive oil on the top, if you like. The recipe I followed said to use an oil spray but I didn't have one at hand so I just drizzled the oil.
Bake in the oven for about 20mins until the top is crisp and brown and the sides are bubbling.

My mistake with this was to grated the potatoes early on. The salt extracts the moisture from the potatoes, making it a soggy, discoloured mush. Even after baking it, the colour still looked a little off. But, Rommel said it tasted good and gave it a thumbs-up!

Now all I need to do is tweak the grated potato topping.

*Hint 1: You can use mashed potatoes of course but this is more work... boiling the potatoes, peeling them, mashing etc.. If you're in a rush, this is quick and easy-peasy.
*Hint 2: The ragu sauce is pretty much a base for loads of dishes. You can eat it with a variety of carbs - pasta, rice, pita bread. I'd initially wanted to pair with my wild grain organic rice I'd bought a few weeks back but changed my mind in the end.
*Hint 3: If cooking for 1-2 ppl, you can make the sauce in a large batch and freeze/refridgerate half of the sauce to use another day.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Knit update: I'm back in the game!

After a long hiatus, I've picked up my crochet hook again and completed a project last night.

It started over the weekend... in the car on the way to Damai Laut in Lumut to be exact. I had ripped out my nice fuzzy and oversized hat and wanted to make a shawl out of the yarn. Of course, with only 3 balls on the uber-soft alpaca yarn, a shawl I could not make. I tried incorporating some of my Rowan Biggy yarn but I didn't like the feeling of it rubbing against my cheeks so I ripped everything out again and started over.

So I decided to make a skinny scarf. But less than halfway through, I was already running out of yarn. This was where I was last night. Sitting in front of the telly watching the results show for American Idol, I stitched up the edges of the scarf to make a nice small bag, crocheted the handles and braided some leftover yarn to make string.

Ta-dah! One bag done. I still have a little bit of yarn left so I might just make a mobile phone cover as well. A mini project for tonight perhaps?

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Happy 17th Fatteh!

After all my blabbing in this morning's post, I'd forgotten to wish my brother Happy Birthday!

He turns 17 today.

I'll most probably try to call this evening when it shd be his lunchtime over in England.

I can't say go buy whatever present you want cos you've already done that (a Rambo-type knife and a ridiculously expensive binoculars).

And Ma is thinking of buying you a new camera and iPod to replace the ones you ruined by falling in the river.

So I suppose it's fair to say I dont have to buy you a present. And not to mention I knitted you a cap because you complained it gets really cold in winter.

Spoiled brat.


Bimbo talk time

This week feels so very very long. Time just drags on... Yes, it's one of those weeks.

I sit here today, wearing a lilac Alain Figaret shirt (bought a couple of months back from Gardens), my new Trucco black slacks and a cheapo but comfy pair of shoes I got at the Weld last month. Paired with our dark lilac Bottega Venetta pleated bag. How mundane.

Yesterday, I wore my white jacket from Blum in Singapore, pair with my new Trucco skirt (moss green with pink flowers) and Itto Otto pink flats. Paired with our Prada moss green bag.

I think yesterday seemed like a happier day just from what I wore. I suppose what you wear can really make a difference in our moods (the bimbo in me is talking here).

Now the analyst in me is talking... What is the common item in my 2 outfits?


Yes I have pretty much bought out whatever I liked from the Spring/Summer 08 season and my mom bought the remaining stuff if they were what she liked. So, there isn't much left in the shop for us to buy unless they bring in more new things that we like soon. How upsetting.

It doesnt help that this season's selection in Massimo Dutti, Zara, MNG, Coast and Ted Baker are not really my type.

And the most disappointing: Reiss. Honestly, I absolutely LOVE the brand. One of their Covent Garden outlets was a convenient 5 mins walk from my flat so it was a regular haunt of mine. And their skirts are always flattering for women with more curves than the skinnies of Malaysia (i.e. ppl like my sister and I). So when I saw that Reiss was opening at the Pavilion, I jumped for joy as that meant I wouldn't have to shop online or wait until my next London trip ever again!

Then the great disappointment came when I saw the first collection. Firstly, most of the things were old stuff. Then, out of all things they had last season (which I checked out in London last September), they brought the worst/ugliest items possible. It didn't help that orientation of the shop was not very nice either. Nor were the staff.

I get even more worked up talking about TopShop!

I love TopShop Oxford St.. ONLY the Oxford St store! 4 floors of great clothes and cheap prices (okay cheap in pounds but not quite so once converted back to RM). Am missing TopShop Unique, the vintage clothes and the abundant accessories. . Not available in TopShop Malaysia of course.

Okay enough venting... I shall be going back to London soon so all will be well, shopping-wise.

LV's new stuff
Speaking of shopping, Shen, Ma and I picked up her new custom-made LV bag yesterday! I cant remember what it's called now but it's basically a Speedy in the normal monogram which you personally choose what colour do you want as a strip in the middle of the bag. And then you also choose your initials that you want printed on. Ma thought of using "P.C." for our initials so that we can use it but then decided to use her own instead. (After all, it's her bag!).

The custom-made bag is by invitation only, ordered direct from Paris and our bag is the number 200-something one made in the whole world! Cool...

And LV has a new range out called the Tahitian. All beachy looking bags, shoes, scarf and they even have the beach towel!! Pa would think we're mad if we bought that! Anyway, we got one of the bags, the mint green one. I wanted either the pink or the lilac but we already have so many bags in those colours! I think it's so new that I cant find it online! But I did find the one we pre-ordered in Singapore and I collected in Jan. *click here*

Nigella's Living Kitchen collection
Since we are on the topic of shopping, here is what I noticed on Nigella's website yesterday! Hot red measuring cups, mixing bowls and service hands!! Shen, hurry and go buy them all for me! Actually, no... I think I'll buy them and get them sent to your flat. That way, you can use them for now and when I get there, I'll bring them back!

I checked the prices on to compare with the stuff we bought in Heals on Tottenham Court Rd last yr and they're the same. So we might as well just buy them now, get them sent to your doorstep and we saved ourselves a trip to Tott Ct Rd.

What say you, Shen? Shall we buy? Am also thinking of getting the mini colander, the piglets, the measuring jug... everything really!!

Okay... that's it... My headache still hasn't gone away... Ta..

Monday, 14 April 2008

Reviews: It's been CRABBY

Wow... seafood overload this weekend. No, actually these past few weeks!!

Sad times...
And it all started one faithful weekday at our shop in Kuchai. Say goodbye to it because Tian Tian Hot Wok Food closes for good tomorrow, 15th April. Not because they were not doing well but in fact, it's been doing very well... The owners are tired and have decided to call it quits after 10 years..

Saying bye to my favourite hot and sour crabs:

... to Happy times

Of course, in Malaysia, there are always alternatives. So when my colleagues talked about going for a little "makan" trip to have crabs, I jumped at it!

We ended up at Tak Fok Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant in Kepong. We were actually torn between this place and another called De Foodland but the reviews on De Foodland weren't very promising... so we chose Tak Fok.

Restaurant: Tak Fok Hong Kong Seafood
Address: No. 2-2A, Jalan Desa 1/3, Desa Aman Puri, 52100 Kepong
Tel: 603 - 6272 3346

Yes it's cheap at RM18/kg of crabs. But as how I always say, what you pay is what you get. And there was a catch to it too.. To get the RM18/kg, for every kg of crab, you had to order one dish (it can be a fried rice, veg, squid... whatever's on the menu). If you wanted just the crabs, it would me RM26/kg.

Our total bill ended up to RM236.. so it was around RM33 per person.

The crabs lacked quality.. they were not sweet, rather small and some tasted spoilt so I had to spit it out. The cooking styles were decent yet nothing spectacular. One surprise was the deep fried mantou... which was nice and crispy.. Prolly loaded with oil!

I probably won't be going back there to eat, especially since it's all the way in Kepong. Just not worth the trip.

Above: Hot and sour crabs
Below: Kam Heong crabs

Above: The salted egg coated crabs - the best of the lot for me.
Below: Despite the complaints, the 6 crab-eaters finished 5 kgs of crabs..

... and then even Happier times

Our trip to Damai Laut this weekend was more of a foodie weekend. Yes, Ma and Rommel had "team-building" stuff to with their office so Pa and I made plans to eat!

First up was on the way there. Saturday morning, left the house at almost 9am, got to Kampung Cina at around 11.30am. Directions on how to get there... Take the North-South highway up North from KL, turn off the highway at the Bidor interchange and follow the trunk route towards Lumut. I apologise for not being able to remember at which km was the Kampung Cina turning but once you turn left into Kampung Cina from the trunk road, watch out for the sign below on your right:

My mom, dad and cousins remembered this restaurant called "Amu" and we found the original "Amu" deep inside Kampung Cina, passing the Catholic church there. We got there, saw that there was absolutely no customers, got back into our cars and drove back out. We had also seen another "Amu" on the left hand side after turning off the trunk road so we thought of heading there. But on the way, we saw that Villa seemed to have quite a number of ppl and so we went there instead. First rule when looking for food in an unfamiliar place... go where the crowds are.

Above: Fook chow hong zhao min sin (red wine noodles). I have been having a serious craving for this for ages!! My maternal grandma used to make the wine herself and she cooked this dish to perfection!! This was my grandfather's favourite dish, so much so that even at the 7th day prayer meet after his passing, my grandma made this dish for all of us in memory of him.

The one here of course could not compare to granny's cooking but the noodles were home made, fresh and it was a welcome treat for me!

Below: the rest of the grub.
Steamed grouper, stir fried sotong with chilli, super crispy o chien, stir fried bitter gourd with scrambled eggs, steamed crabs with rice wine and butter prawns. Only 1 word is needed... YUM. A far cry it was, the quality of the crabs compared to the previous night's dinner at Tak Fok.

Then the finale... Simple boiled snails with a chilli dipping sauce. These were snapped up so quickly by everyone that I had to rush to take a picture!

Sunday luncheon

On the way back from Damai Laut, we headed to Slim River to eat at this nondescript restaurant that serves good fish. In fact, I think this is about the only restaurant where I am willing to eat fresh water fish. There is another place in Kuala Lipis that serves wild river patin and the chef cooks for the Sultan of Pahang apparently. But I'll leave that story for another day.

So anyway, from the N-S highway, turnoff at Slim River. When you get into town, turn left at the traffic lights and watch out for Restoran Fook Seng on your right. It's a corner coffee shop, rather run down looking.

For more details on how to get there, *click here*.

Below: We had the pak su kong fish cooked in their famous claypot dish style. The piece de resistance was the orange peel which was unique and brought out the flavours of the fish. Since there was only 4 of us, we just had a small fish.. Still, it was fresh and good!

When we first came to this place, it was to eat the tapah fish, also cooked in the same manner. That was actually what I had in mind when I said I wanted to come back here.

It was a simple lunch affair, with pucuk paku stir fried with belacan.

And steamed prawns with egg white and a hint of rice wine.

Diet? What diet??

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Knit update - Shawl turned to snood, may turn into scarf

Yes, I seem to have been blogging mostly about food and totally forgotten about knitting. But I realise that I have my moods for these things. Perhaps it's because when I bake something, in an hour or so, I end up with a tray of muffins or cupcakes which I can happily share with everyone.

On the other hand, it takes me much longer to knit or crochet something, unless of course it's a small project like a hat or scarf. I guess I like fast results. That'll explain why diets and exercise never work in my "attempt" to lose weight. I give up after, like a day or two.

1) Shawl turned to snood, may turn into scarf
Anyway, a quick update: what I have done is ripped out my first shawl attempt (which was ripped from my first hat attempt). The problem is I have such lovely Debbie Bliss alpaca yarn and I don't want to waste it. And I could only buy 3 balls of it (that was all the shop had).

I started on a snood, mixing the lovely yarn with Rowan's Biggy yarn but the Rowan yarn is too itchy for my skin so I'm now thinking of ripping that one too and starting over. Maybe I'll just have to settle for a small scarf cos that yarn is really super soft and feels superb against my skin.

2) Knitting shops in London, here I come
In preparation of my trip back to London in June (I know its 2 months away but I can't wait!), I decided to check out if there are any interesting yarn shops.

This is what I found:

- Spitting Yarn: this site gives a list of yarn shops around London, their weblinks and contact details too!

- All the Fun of the Fair: Cool looking shop, in an excellent location on Kingly St. I really wonder why I never saw it before when I was there. Perhaps I was always around Kingly St at night, at the clubs nearby. Hehe.. Not exactly the time you'd be looking for yarn shops!

- I Knit: In Waterloo area so hopefully nearby to my sister's place. Shen, check out the map and let me know if it's easy to get there from your flat..

- Loop: I absolutely love the pictures on this website!! And it's in Islington, near your school Shen!! Go check it out for me!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

My accident-prone brother

After returning to Concord from a week's stay in London, my brother spent the remaining of his half term at Lake District, a popular holiday site in the UK.

There, he fell into a river fully-clothed and got all his electronics ruined. Hahaha... Now he's left alone and abandoned by his trusty iPod, camera and phone.

The only means of contacting the fellah is via email.

Here's his email to Shen telling her of his troubles:

The trip was great fun and everything, lots of beautiful sights, picturesque villages, wildlife blah blah blah...

Yesterday (i.e. Saturday) we went to a place called Aira Force Falls to go for a walk over the hills and, of course, see the waterfalls. Towards the end of the walk, we got to the falls and started to relax, having lunch an everything by the river. Suddenly, I found myself swimming, fully clothed, in a river. Fell in lol. Was sitting close to the edge and as was about to go get lunch, feet slipped on the slippery slate rocks and went into the river. Got pulled downstream for a few meters before stopping myself and looking up to see two of my friends joining me in the river as well hahah. We got pulled out in the end by some passer-bys (before going over the 8 foot falls, thankfully) and we were all smiling and laughing about it soon enough.

So that all worked out fine. Except when i tried all my electronics, my camera was dead, iPod's dead, and my phone's acting all funny, so can't use it and that's why i'm sending this e-mail instead. Just got back to Concord now, but not sure what to do. No phone to contact anyone at home, and even if I do, what do i say? :P ma n pa are so gonna kill me over this lol. At least 500 pounds worth of electronics spoilt there. And another thing to make it worse, i'm running low on cash again lol.

Hope your luck in London has been better than mine up North here.

Your bro,

Fatty, yes Ma and Pa know about it now. Shen forwarded your email to all of us. Muahahaha... How much money do you need me to send over to you?
And your phone has insurance, I'm very sure I paid for it!!

I was just thinking about it really... I've always been the one who gets injured or falls into something. Like the time I fell into the River Jordan while in Israel... It was really shallow water though so I just ended up with a sprained ankle and wet shoes. Hey, at least I can say my feet got baptised in the River Jordan!

Or the time I almost fell of the edge of the Grand Canyon. I was 12, was playing along the edges while our tour guide was busy explaining stuff.. and somehow I almost slipped.. Saw the rocks fall all the way down.

Or the time we had a snowball fight on the top of Mount Titlis in Switzerland. I was 13, we were again on a tour and there were a bunch of ppl my age. We decided to have a snowball fight and crossed the makeshift border that was set up. Again, another close call that would have seen me tumbling off the side of the mountain and rolling up into one giant snowball.

Yes I was a clumsy kid. Have stitches on my head and chin to prove it!


Monday, 7 April 2008

Recipe: Blueberry muffins

Here you go, Shen... Here's the blueberry muffin recipe you asked for. Oh guess what! I think I've found Bisquick in Bangsar Village. But I didn't buy it though. Next time..

Btw, I'm feeling irritable. And annoyed. It could be due to the headache I've been having since this morning. Or multiple sneezing fits I've been getting into. Or the scratchy cough that also sends me into wheezing fits.

Yup I'm sick. But will try to sleep it off and make it to the office tmrw. We'll see how I feel when I wake up. I blame my colleague Gerald cos he got sick first! :p

Blueberry muffins:

125g caster sugar (although I reduce this to 100g if making for my dad since he doesn't like it too sweet)
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
265g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 lightly beaten eggs
225ml milk (I either use half milk, half water or just substitute the milk with water because I find the muffins are too dense if milk is used. This is also based on feedback from my tasters - the colleagues.)
115g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla essence
225g fresh or thawed frozen blueberries (can be replaced with blackberries, raspberries or quartered strawberries)

Preheat oven to 200'C.

In one bowl, stir the sugar, lemon zest, flour and baking powder with a spoon.

In a larger mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla with an electric whisk until smooth. (Now, I never used a mixer simply cos I dont have a proper one. It's a great way to destress though so I don't mind. It's good to be slightly ambidextrous too so I can use my right hand when the left gets tired.)

Add the dry ingredients and stir until the blueberries are just combined. Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cases or into a greased muffin tin.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove tin from oven and cool for 5 minutes. (Lesson: I once left the muffins in the tin for about 10 minutes which was a mistake because they ended up being too soggy. I'd advice to remove the muffins as soon as the temperature cools a little.)

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Restaurant review: Sao Nam, Tengkat Tong Shin, KL

Restaurant: Sao Nam
Place: 25, Tengkat Tong Shin, KL
Tel: 03-2144 1225/8225
Other outlet: Lot P-36, 2nd Flr, Sri Hartamas Shopping Centre, Plaza Damas.
Tel: 03-6201 0225
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Verdict: I'm going back for more!

Now, I have read various reviews and heard from various people about Sao Nam. And mostly, it's been good. I've also walked past it many many times as it's right next to Max Fine Wine and Dine.

The parents were free for dinner tonight and my dad felt like eating Vietnamese food. We had to decide between Viet Passion in Chulan Square and Sao Nam. I voted for Sao Nam simply because I've heard more people talk about it. But, not to worry, we'll visit Viet Passion one day to compare.

For starters, we ordered goi cuon (fresh prawn spring roll), banh xeo (vietnamese crispy pancake) and goi buoi (pomelo salad).

The goi cuon came first and was served with hoisin sauce. The prawns were fresh and veg were still crunchy.

I loved the banh xeo. I'd already read about this dish in Bobby Chinn's Wild, Wild East book so when I saw it on the menu, I knew I had to order it! The portion was really huge and served with lettuce leaves which we used to wrap the banh xeo in together with mint and basil leaves, and the dipping sauce.

The goi buoi was refreshing, served with prawns as well. We wanted to try the goi mang cut (mangosteen and prawn salad) which was one of Sao Nam's award winning dishes apparently but that wasn't available.

Then we each ordered a type of noodles.

Dad of course had the mandatory pho bo (beef noodle soup), his benchmark for Vietnamese cuisine. He loved it, said the beef was of really good quality and he pretty much finished off the whole bowl!

I tried some and sadly, I didn't quite enjoy it as much. Perhaps it was because I had the other noodles first which had a much stronger taste and therefore the pho bo seemed more bland in comparison.

The best pho bo I have had was in Dallas, Texas 9 years ago. Uncle Wai Keong and family were living there for a couple of years and they took us to try this Vietnamese restaurant there. Really good beef and superb stock. A close second is Pho 2000, near the Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City. This place has pictures of Bill Clinton eating there when he visited the city. I think we ate at this restaurant everyday when we were there. Of course, it was really convenient as it was around the corner from our hotel.

Mom had the lac xa (Vietnamese laksa) which was a dry version, instead of the soup ones we have in Malaysia. I didn't particularly like this either but again, that could be because it tasted milder than my noodles.

I had the bun thit nuong (grilled lemongrass chicken noodle salad). Rather sweet for my dad's liking but tasted really good to me! You can also have it with beef instead of the chicken.

Rommel had the canh chua ca (fish noodle soup). I really liked the soup stock so I kept drinking it. My only vice was that they used fresh water fish - I'm just iffy about fresh water fish but at least nowadays I will still eat it. When I was younger, I'd just spit it out and refuse to touch the dish thereafter.

We also ordered a ca noung pate (grill fish wrap in pate) simply because its picture looked really good. Rommel and I are not fans of chicken liver but we couldn't really detect the liver taste in this dish. I got a hint that they had used fresh water fish, but this was not very strong.

We got greedy... So even though we were all absolutely stuffed, we still ordered dessert. My dad wanted the che ba ba (the Vietnamese version of bubur chacha) which came in a rather pathetic looking and really small bowl. Not much bigger that the bowl used to serve the dipping sauces. But then we found that it was really sweet and any more than that amount would have ruined it.

Another dessert that looked interesting was the kem chuoi (banana freeze). "Ripe banana, coconut milk with grated coconut and peanuts. Frozen and served with chocolate topping." Went exceptionally well with the cup of Vietnamese coffee we each had.

Sorry I didnt take pictures tonight. The lighting was rather dim and so I knew the pictures most likely would not have come out nice. But, you can view most of the dishes on Sao Nam's website (link as above). We pretty much ordered based on how the food looked in the pictures.

Note: Sao Nam has a whole section dedicated to vegetarian food so it's great for Sunaina. Must tell her when she gets back from Sydney!

Restaurant review: The Daily Grind, Bangsar Village

Restaurant: The Daily Grind
Place: Bangsar Village (it took over the Vietnamese restaurant opposite the organic shop)

I've been wanting to try this place out for ages and finally, a couple of weeks ago, we did.

Verdict: Yummy, great burgers, exceptionally good ketchup (and I usually dislike ketchup). Will go back for more!

First up, my mom's mushroom soup, served with garlic bread. Mom said it's much creamier than mine but nice too.

Next, Rommel's Japanese Yodel Burger.
Description from the menu: A fondue sauce, porcini mushroom & portobello tempura.

Next, my dad's Classic Cheese Burger. Description: Two thick slices of cheddar, homemade ketchup, mustard mix, toasted bun.

And finally, my foie gras burger. Description: Diced foie gras-filled beef patty with onions, cranberry jam and balsamic palm sugar glaze. YUMMMMM...

Note: The Daily Grind also serves 2 types of veg burgers. I've made it a point to hunt for more places which have a decent vegetarian selection since my colleague Sunaina is one. The only place that we've previously found to have veg burgers was Hard Rock Cafe.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Foodie pics from March

I have just realised that I didn't post up these pics... and that they've been sitting in the pink laptop all this while.

Just got back from dinner at "our shop" in Kuchai. No we do not run the shop but we own the whole shoplot and have been leasing the ground floor out to Tian Tian Hot Wok Seafood for the past 10+ years. Their business is good, food is great.. typical Chinese "tai chow" stuff. Fabulous chilli crabs. Great la-la.

But this time we were there for another reason, they're closing... for good. Not because of anything really, just that they've been doing it for so many years and that they're just really tired from it all. Their last day is 15th April, following which we have new tenants moving in - selling Hakka yong tau fu.

The new tenant apparently already has 12 outlets around Klang Valley and our shop will be their 13th one. We're quite happy with that as most of our cars have 1s and 3s in the number plates. Will have to go try once they've opened and will definitely write a review!

So anyway, here are random food pics from this past month..

First up, this is my dad's char yuk with wantan mee, made for the RCIA folks who came over to help out with the candles and other things for the Easter baptism. This was served with Mom's pork stomach with pepper soup.

Next is my roast chicken from this Sunday. Marinated with mixed herbs from a bottle. I find it so convenient to just plonk a dollop of butter and a handful of the herbs on the chicken and smother. Then I inserted 2 slices of lemons under the skin of the chicken breast, squirted some lemon juice on the top and then stuffed the remaining part of the lemon in the cavity. No salt was necessary as I used salted butter and the mixed herbs thing had some salt in it too.

We also had cod fish for Sunday lunch. Pa pan fried it until crisp, then sprinkled salt and pepper on top. Simple and yummy.

Next are my muffin/cupcake attempts over the past couple of weeks. First here is my cheese and herb muffin which was a bit too salty. My mistake, I used salted butter. But hey, they looked not bad!

Next are my cornmeal muffins, from a pre-mix packet. Super easy, healthy and totally organic.

And finally, my successful blueberry muffins. I'm so happy I finally got the recipe, the oven temperature, the portions... all perfect! :) The very next day, I made another batch but substituted the blueberries with strawberries. Tasted great too!

Strawberries and freshly whipped cream, anyone?

I was bored one day while waiting for something in the oven to get baked... So I took a picture of my new skirt, bought at Club Med... totally beachy floor-length silk skirt. I call it my happy boho skirt.

As I said, I was waiting for whatever it was that was baking in the oven... Here's a pic of my dad's wine collection with me in the reflection. Shen, Pa is taking over the main fridge in the dry kitchen again.. My milk, Baileys and Sheridan have been moved to make way for his wine.

One randon meal attempt - hotpot with fishballs, prawn balls, tofu, veg and organic buckwheat millet noodles. Simple Sunday lunch.

And finally, my second tiramisu attempt. Was a bit too watery still this time and I've amended the recipe again so that it's not too watery now.

So, that's all... Good night!