Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Visiting UK from Malaysia? Do it now!

According to this article, from next year, Malaysians will probably require to apply for a visa before visitng the UK, at the price of RM1200.

RM1,200 !!!!

That's almost as much as the return fare for KL to London, althought it wuld have to be an AirAsia promo fare! Still, it is a lot of money and is sure to put many people off. So, if you have any plans to visit the UK, do it now!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Museo del Jamon, Madrid, Spain

Back in June this year, we paid a fleeting visit to Madrid, the capital of Spain. We saw lots of memorable sights and ate some truly amazing food. One of the highlights was at this location, just around the corner from our hotel, near Puerto del Sol, the heart of the city - similar to Piccadilly Circus in London.

The Museo del Jamon (translated - museum of ham) is a chain of restaurants in Madrid and specialised in the obvious, but they were served mainly as starters, which we skipped. Yes, I know, it was like going to A&W and not having the root beer, but we noticed that their portions of main courses were really big and thought we did not have room for starters as well.

They sell ham by the joints and during the day, act as a market where people come in the droves to buy the ham which they are famous for. However, there is a bar downstairs and restaurant upstairs where punters would enjoy their wide variety of popular Spanish dishes. Standing while eating did not appear to be a problem for the Spanish, but we chose to go upstairs to the seating area.

All over the restaurant, there were joints of ham hung up on the wall for sale. Surprisingly, they did not smell at all.

We only had two dishes ... this roast half chicken with chips was the smallest portion they had. Dont let the bland looking chicken fool you - it had the best tasting and crispiest chicken skin I ever tasted! I do not know what they used to marinate this, but I have never tasted chicken like this anywhere else outside Spain. Seems like this is the normal way they do a roast chicken in Spain, as I have tasted similar chickens elsewhere in the city.

And the highlight of the meal was this crispy battered mixed seafood platter. It was huge and only cost about 12 euros. It consisted of prawns, whitebait, squid, some whitefsh chunks (cod?) and pink fish chunks (cant be salmon as they were too small - the chunks were half the fish). Dont let the blandness of the picture fool you - everything was so crispy that I ate the prawns whole, including the shell! And you could literally taste the freshness in the fishes - I have never tasted squid as tender as what was serverd here! I still dream of this dish today and if I am in Madrid again, this is the first place I would dine at!

Museo del Jamon
Carrera de San Jerónimo, 6
nearest metro: Puerta del Sol

Monday, 7 December 2009

Siu Yook ( Crispy Roast Pork ) - disastrous results!

Ok, so I thought it would be a good idea to try to make siu yook last night.
Bought a rolled joint of belly pork and started my attempt, with great anticipation.

Mistake number one:
When I unrolled the joint and undid the strings, I noticed that the skin had been scored.

Oh well, never mind.. maybe it wont matter.
So I pierce lots holes on the skin with a sharp knife and blanched the skin.
Then I marinated it with rice wine, salt, pepper and 5 spice powder and leave it to dry for a couple of hours.

So, I popped it into the oven for 1 hr ... hmm... skin still has not risen. As the rest of the pork was cooked, I put the skin towards the grill. After a few mins, it started to char and burn, but the skin still has not risen!

Ok, decided to give up.
When I tried to cut it, it was so tough my knife would not go through the skin! So, unfortunately, it had to go into the bin!

Better luck next time, I hope! Any tips would be greatly welcomed!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Duck King, Jaya One, PJ

Met up with three local bloggers, hairyberry, lyrical lemongrass and GFAB on my last visit to KL back in July and we spent an afternoon in a couple of restaurants for an extended makan session. It was something I was not very used to as my afternoon meals tended to be very small (a maggi mee would be too much) as a full stomach in the afternoon makes me sleepy in the office.

This venue was the second one we visited.

The deep freid chee cheong fun below was a new experience. Good idea and well executed. Taste was rather good too but I got the feeling that this dish was created to shift the steamed ccf from earlier in the day that failed to sell.
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This steamed bun was also something new to me. The filling was made from some egg custard and salted egg yolk mixture. Had an unusual taste when I first bit into it but quickly acquired a taste for it by the time I had finished it.
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This is their signature dish and it did not disappoint. The roast duck had a lovely crispy skin and succulent meat underneath. What I have noticed however, was that most roast duck dishes in KL was made with lean ducks or maybe that is how the ducks are locally. Personally, I prefer the fatter ducks that we get in the UK where the skin is slightly thicker which, when roasted correctly, makes it more satisfying to bite into the skin. Also a fatter duck means the meat is less dry in the breast area.

And here is the close up from a breast piece. If I remember, I will try and get a picture of a local piece of roast duck in the future and you can see a much thicker layer of fat under the skin.
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Duck King
Jaya One
Jalan Universiti
Petaling Jaya

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Takeaway Singapore Noodles

This was a takeaway I had last night. So why bother to blog about this. Well, I had to "warn" others about this place as I was a very disappointed customer who will not be going to this place again. It was my first and last visit!

Firstly, I had to wait 20 minutes for my single item order. I could have cooked this quicker! And there were only two customers in front of me.
Then, when I got it, I noticed how small the portion was .. you can see in the picture as I had a ruler next to it. I had to go out and buy another snack after this.
The £5 I paid for this was money BADLY spent!
The taste was average.... had I got enough and not had to wait that long, I would have returned, but not now!

Is this how they treat a first time customer??
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The location:

Chinese Express (formerly Fu Kuei Chinese Takeaway)
10 Lower Monton Road,
M30 0NX

Friday, 13 November 2009

Some Assorted Photos

Its been awhile since my last posting. My photos are scattered over a few different PCs and laptops and whenever I think of updating this blog, I find that I do not have the photos I want to upload on the pc I am using. So, until I get myself organised, I will upload a few of the older and random pics I have on this pc. Some may have uploaded before, but disappeared when the image host disappeared. I will be back soon with some proper decent blogs.

Spicy Grilled Tilapia - marinated with curry paste and coconut milk.

Malaysian Chicken Curry

BBQ Squid with corn on cob in Portugal

On a beach (Teluk Ketapang) in Pangkor Island in August 2009

Sweet Honey Mangoes from Pakistan (but bought in the UK!)

A Malaysian Restaurant in Dublin which we did not eat at because its so expensive!

Stewed Pig's Stomach - yummy!!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Nasi Lemak

In the few weeks since I came back from Malaysia, I found myself craving for Malaysian food. This always happens after every visit. So, I guess this is one of the easiest dishes to replicate accurately, anywhere in the world.

To prepare:

Boil it in coconut milk, pandan leaves (I used essence which I brought back from my hols!) and a pinch of salt.

Blended red chillies, shallots, garlic, belacan (prawn paste), and tamarind juice.

Soak some ikan bilis (dried anchovies) in warm water for 2 hours, then dry and fry till crispy. Remove.

Fry onions till brown, add sambal and continue frying till fragrant. Add the anchovies and salt and sugar to taste.

Serve with boiled egg (like I did) and roasted groundnuts and cucumber (like I didn't!)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Hokkien Mee at Section 20, PJ

Location: Restoran Millenium Eighty Six
Section 20, Taman Paramount, Petaling Jaya.
I don't know the exact road, but its a cornershop opposite the entrance of Giant supermarket.

Those old enough to remember will know that Hokkien mee used to come with squid and more meat / prawns that the ones you tend to get today. Since the mid 90s, I have found that the quality of this dish around KL and PJ has detriorated somewhat, and most of the regular vendors sold soggy noodles with very little meat and prawns in it. And more importantly, my favourite ingredient, the squid slices, seem to have diesppeared completely from the dish. Even the pieces of fried pork fat seem to have been reduced over the years.

I was reminiscing about this dish with an old school friend when he told me of this restaurant that cooked this dish the "old style", ie. with charcoal fire and with lots of meat, prawns, squid and pork fat. So off we went to savour it, and I was not disappointed at all! I'm afraid that the photo does not do it justice, but that's due to my lack of photography skills. The noodles had just the right texture and right amount of sauce and lots of pork fat pieces... which I left, but it was important to flavour the dish. Overall a very satisfying meal and worth another visit on my next trip to Malaysia.

We also had this Cantonese fried crispy noodle dish, which was very nice too. Again, it had lots of ingredients and not full of sauce like many other places.

To finish off the evening, we ordered some satay which was average but still very satisfying. I think this seller bought his satay from a bulk dealer as I have had identical tasting satay at many other places in PJ.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Whitney Houston - New ALbum - I Look To You

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Released 19/10/2009

When I heard about this new album being released, I looked forward to the new tracks from my favourite singer from the 80s and 90s. She looked absolutely radiant on the cover of the album. However, upon first listen, I was truly shocked!
What happened to the silky smooth yet so powerful and soulful vocals which she was so well known for??
I have never heard an artiste deteriorate so much in such a short time ... just compare this title track from her latest album:

to her 1998 album, My Love Is your Love...

it sounds like she has aged 40 years since that album!

While the songs in the latest album sounded well crafted and contemporary, they are simply not the Whitney we know from the past.
Even this big ballad, I didn't know my own strength, penned by the legendary Diane Warren, was poorly executed.

She now clearly struggles to hit the high notes, resulting the song being sung in no more than two octaves, which is a huge departure from the days when she had a five octave range.

So, is this the end of the Whitney we know from the past? Somehow, I feel it is going to be almost impossible to recover from her vocal deterioration, especially as she is also advancing in years. Let's hope I am wrong.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Jai Hind Indian Restaurant, KL

This was the only not-nearby place I went to TWICE, during my 3 week visit to Malaysia earlier this month. Despite the variety of good food available all over the place in KL, I had to pay a second visit to this rather humble, run down establishment at Jalan Melayu, off Jalan Masjid India ( aka "Little India" ) in KL. It is located just 50m from the Masjid Jamek LRT station.

Although "Indian food" is widely available in KL, most of them are actually Malaysian - Indian food. Most would associate Roti Canai as being "Indian" but I doubt if you can find this bread easily all over India. The Jai Hind serves authentic North Indian food, a cuisine I have got accustomed to over the last 25 years in the UK where good Indian food is readily available in all big cities.

It was lunchtime and we were not very hungry due to a heavy breakfast. However, the sight of a person turning out fresh naan breads at the entrace of this restaurant enticed us in.

For me, a well baked fresh naan takes a lot of beating. And Jai Hind did not disappoint. The bread was served fresh from the tandoor oven and you pick your accompanying meat/veg/sauce from about 20 dishes available.

On this occassion, I had a keema curry ( coarsely minced lean goat meat with potatoes) and a chana curry (chick peas). Wish I had a bigger appetite as the food was absolutely delicious! Same style as what I have had for many years in the UK, except twice as good! The naan looked plain and boring but it was sheer perfection with a crispy outer layer and fluffy on the inside. We ordered another
one just to eat on its own. 2 x this platter, together with a couple of cups of tea, cost RM16. Ok, not the cheapest Indian food in KL, but not dear either, especially for the quality.

On a separate visit, we had a cauliflower potato curry, just to see how it compares to the best cauliflower potato curry in the world (IMO!) from Yadgar Cafe in Manchester. Amazingly, it tasted almost identical! How likely is that?!
This place is a must-visit for all lovers of Indian food, but be warned that, on a hot afternoon, the heat in the place is almost unbearable. Half the fans are not working and if you have the misfortune of sitting near the two ovens making naan and chapattis, the discomfort could kill your appetite!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Hawker centre, ss2 PJ.

My last visit to Malaysia may have only been 9 months ago, but still long enough for me to miss the food here, especially the hawker fare. So, on one of the first nights of this trip, I paid a visit to the hawker centre in SS2, also known as Wai Sik Kai (greedy street). Could not decide what to eat, so ordered a bit of everything ... well, more than just a "bit". But as it was cheap and the value of the sterling had appreciated against the ringgit over the last few months, I thought I'd indulge in this little feast pictured below.

I have no idea as to the name of the stalls we bought from, so as a guide, the first picture here is a grill fish (ikan bakar) vendor. All the food was bought at or around his stall.

This sambal fried pea in pods (or directly translated from Chinese, four angled peas ) were average, from the said grill fish stall. The sauce lacked sweetness and the peas were not crunchy fresh. But as he made this as a special request ( these peas are normally only used as a side garnish ), he is excused!

This char siu in Chicken Rice was also average. Char siu tasted very generic, but can't really expect too much for rm4!

Kam Heong lala from a neighbouring grill fish seller was quite good. You can always tell where was not enough of it to go round!

Pineapple fried rice from the thai food stall was also ok only! A bit too sweet and soggy, but I am happy with the amount of ingredients in it, especially the large prawns.

Prawn noodles were the best! IT was as good as any I have ever tasted and I look forward to having this again when I get the chance to go there again.

Razor clams in belacan from the same grill fish seller has a lovely tasting spicy sauce, but somehow, I felt there were more shells than actual meat!

This wat tan hor is not even worth mentioning! Rather below average.

After the meal we had a walk around the pasar malam and had some cempedak goreng ( jackfruit fritter) from this fella!

Overall a very satisfying evening's dining!

Friday, 31 July 2009

Seen these for sale in the market

After a few days in KL, I have had a few culinary experiences worth adding to this blog. However, something I saw yesterday made me wonder, and although it may be related to food in Malaysia, I really hope it is not!

Doing the tourist thing yesterday, I walked along Petaling Street to take in the sights and street food and being hassled by store keepers whenever I even glanced for a micro second at their wares. Halfway down the street, I saw a discreet dark alley, with no signboards, drawing my curiosity. Well, as the saying goes, it killed the cat, but this could be true in the literal sense. This place turned out to be a wet market, like any other in Malaysia. However, I noticed that one stall had these two caged cats on display. They were adult cats and not particularly cute. So I cant see why anyone would be interested in them....... unless they were for, like everything else being sold here, food. They looked quite well fed too, which further backed up this idea.

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So, can anyone reading this clear this up for me.... are these cats sold for food? If so, have you ever tasted them, and is there a restaurant that serves them?

I would not consciousely eat a feline creature, but if someone tells me it is a "must try" delicacy, then I may approach it with an open mind!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Restaurant Greenview, Section 19, PJ

Can't believe its time for another visit to Malaysia already! I haven't even finished blogging about my last one yet! Thanks to Air Asia, travelling to KL from the UK has been made a lot more affordable this year. Even though I am from Manchester, it is still worth the trouble of driving 4 hours to London, paying to park the car for the duration of the holiday. Ok.. I have not actually flown with Air Asia before, but I am really hoping I wont regret the experience. More to come in the coming days!

This is a restaurant known to many PJ residents for its seafood. Located just off the roundabout where the factories of the Rothmans and Sin Chew Jit Poh factories .... hmm.. dunno if these places still exist today.

Always seem to be crowded on a Saturday night but we got there quite late and managed to get a table quickly.

Despite specialising in seafood, they do do a really good roast suckling pig. This half piglet came to around rm70.

I have no idea what this is called! It was made with a deep fried battered yam basket with stir fried chicken, mushrooms, cashews and veg inside it. Looks nicer than it taste, unfortunately. Not bad, just not outstanding.

Their fried ho fun with white fish slices was very good. Gravy was smooth and thick and yummy! I was not able to re-create this at home!

And this is their trademark dish - Sang Har Meen - or prawn fried noodles. Really rich tasting gravy with lage fresh prawns cooked just right. Noodles were fried to just the right level of crispiness too.

Soor, I got no prices for this visit as I did not pay for it. Anyway, I am sure I will be going there again in the next couple of weeks, so I will make a not of the prices this time.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Making the perfect Cantonese fried ho fun (rice stick) dish at home!

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This is a favourite of my wife's. Whenever we eat out, whether it be in the UK or when visiting Malaysia, she always asks for Cantonese Fried Ho Fun. It is actually quite easy to make at home. Only problem is that you need a tiny handful of a lot of ingredients to make it an interesting dish and as a result, I can only make this when I have enough leftovers accumulated in the freezer.

This dish consist of prawns, pork slices, char siu, fishballs, squid and pak choy.

It needs to be fried separately:

The fresh noodles (ho fun / rice stick) is tossed into a hot well greased wok, or a less greased non stick pan, then fried with a bit of light soy and sweet soy sauce. Keep sprinking it with water to ensure they stay separate, till lightly charred. If they start sticking together, then you have overcooked it. This is the most important part of the dish to get right and if you get it wrong, the whole dish will not taste right!

Then put the noodles aside.

To cook the sauce... you have to adjust the cooking method according to how hot you can get your wok. Assuming you are doing this at home and your wok does not achieve "wok hei"....

I first brown some garlic and ginger, then add all the ingredients except the pork. Fry lightly then remove.

Next, I brown more ginger and garlic and add marined pork slices. Add bones too if you have any. When they are fragrant, add chicken stock (enough to cover your noodles) and bring to boil. Add rice wine, oyster sauce, salt and sugar into it. This will take awhile to heat up if cooking at home, so it is like stewing the pork, hence why you add the bones. When the mixture starts bubbling add cornstarch to thicken. Then add the rest of the cooked ingredients and remove from heat within 1 minute. Add egg white for Malaysian style "wat tan hor" or leave as it is. I did not add the egg white cuz I dont want to waste the yolk!

Then, just pour over the noodles, remove bones and serve.

If your cooker is hot enough to heat up the stock within seconds, you do not need to cook this part separately. Just add everything in and fry them, add cornstatch and pour onto noodles.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Michael Jackson is not dead!

Here are 10 reasons why Michael Jackson might have faked his death.

1. Obvious! He was unable to fulfil his commitment to the 50 London dates but still needed to pocket the money.

2. He needed a boost in the sales of his music to pay off his debts.

3. Does Joe Jackson (his dad) look like a father grieving for a deceased son?

4. He was getting death threats from loan sharks for debts he was unable to pay.

5. His face has fallen apart so badly he can no longer face the public.

6. Nobody can really identify whose body it was. MJ never appeared in public without makeup and prosthetic face parts.

7. Clips of his rehearsal from the night before did not show a man who had eaten nothing but pills.

8. The real MJ has disappeared from public view in 1990. We have been seeing an imposter all these years. Hence the child abuse issues, and also this one can't sing! Listen to his public performances between 1988 and 1992 and look at the pics below. Clearly not the same person. Anyone can learn to dance like him, but not sing!


9. He was facing a new set of child abuse allegations. He neither had the money nor the will to fight anymore and knew he would not get away with it a third time.

10. Many major celebrities who died in the US had an open casket. Think Elvis, and James Brown. Why cant we see MJ's body? His face would certainly not look any different to whenhe was alive. What was (not) there to hide?

10th july 2009

Another bit about point 8 above:

Compare the singing of the song Human Nature in a 1987 and 1992 concert. He does not sound like the same person. The one in 1992 can hardly sing! I can sing better that this imposter!



Friday, 3 July 2009

Tandoori Chicken

Summer is here and its barbeque time! I love having a bbq because it is the only time I get to cook certain dishes that cannot be reproduced properly in the kitchen.

Here is an internationally famous dish eaten all over the world. In the past, I have tried making the marinade from scratch, but it does not beat this cheap 69p pack from the Indian grocer down the road. In fact, this is so good, it's easily as good as the average takeaway in the UK or the roadside tandoori chicken sellers in KL. Only downside is that I would not have used any red colouring if I had mixed it myself.

The main ingredients are simple:
Plain yoghurt and this pack of tandoori mix.

Mix it with lime juice. oil and kewra water (I think this is pandan essence) and marinate chicken for at least 4 hours.

After that, cook it in grill, oven or barbeque fire.

Then serve!