Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival Lunch (at home)

Since I will be working in Singapore during the Mid-Autumn Festival, we had an early celebration last Sunday afternoon before I board on my (almost) weekly bus back to Singapore.

There was no moon (since it was afternoon) but we had a great spread of home-made delicacies for lunch. It sure beats dining out!

We started off with a herbal soup. Among the ingredients in the soup included chicken, pork, longan, Chinese ham and ginseng. The soup was clear and left a slight bitter aftertaste. A very good start!

As per any Chinese festival meal, steamed chicken is a MUST. We had a kampung chicken (chicken that runs around freely and fed with natural food) and it was well cooked. The juice from the chicken tasted sweet and slightly salty (just nice) and the meat was tender and full of chicken flavour, unlike those frozen chicken where the meat tastes like stale fish (I’m having goosebumps thinking about it). A soya sauce and shallots dipping complimented the chicken very well.

Another traditional dish presented on the table was the siu yoke or roasted pork belly. This winning combination of crispy skin (after reheating in the oven) plus salted meat plus the smell and taste of lard really works everytime. The price of siu yoke usually hikes up during Chinese festivals; therefore, we really treasure this dish.

We also had braised spare ribs and chicken feet with shitake mushroom. I love the chicken feet for its soft texture and wonderful aroma (thanks to the deep frying process). The spare ribs and mushrooms were cooked just right. A taste of the sauce revealed a well combined flavour between the mushrooms, ribs and garlic.

For the greens, we had stir-fried chive buds with siu yoke, carrots and garlic (no onions, though). The buds were cooked well but since the taste was bland as compared to the other major dishes, it attracted no one (what a waste!).

I should not leave out Mum’s special sambal ikan bilis (ground chili paste with anchovies). The sambal, infused with tumeric, garlic, onion and tamarind created an explosion of flavours. The slightly tangy taste was a real appetizer! I think this was the dish that killed other dishes. Definitely a potent underdog.

At the end of the lunch, there was no more room for desserts (mooncakes). But I couldn’t help but be awed by the packaging design of some mooncake makers these days. Take Hei Yue Thong, for example. The box came in the form of a lantern. I wonder if the cost of the mooncake is actually lower than the lantern.

Here’s wishing everyone a belated blessed Mid-Autumn Festival (I'm writing this on the 17th day of the Lunar Calendar). Hope you guys had eaten some great mooncakes!

Alexis @ Great Eastern Mall

We’ve heard and read so much about Alexis at Great Eastern Mall (Ampang). People have been raving on the good food, the fantastic gigs and the cool ambience. So, with high expectations, Anthony, Azuan and I decided to spend a night of good food and fine music at Alexis last Saturday.

We reached about 10 pm and the place was already packed to the brim. All managers and waiters were so busy serving that we had to literally grab one and asked for our reserved table. It seemed that there were NO tables available and the manager (I think) advised us to take a seat at the bar while waiting for a table. At this point, we were quite confused because we have already made a reservation?? OK, we were 30 minutes late but we did call earlier to extend the reservation and they obliged. Gosh.

Call it “luck”, but we managed to get a table after 10 minutes of confusion. And guess where the table was? The far end corner and perhaps furthest table from the stage! That means we will watch the performance from a TV. Quite displeased we were but since we came here to have fun, we endured.

We were really hungry that night (after a good foot reflexology session at Jalan Alor) and hurriedly placed our orders. The drinks came 15 minutes later. We had Lime Juice (RM11.50), Apple Juice (RM11.50) and Iced Lemon Tea (RM10.50). By the way, the waitress informed us that the infamous Tiramisu had been sold out!

The first dish arrived was Alexis’ Club Sandwich (RM18.00). Anthony complimented on the taste but said it was quite ordinary. The filling for the sandwich included hard-boiled eggs, crisphead lettuce, ham and bacon. Each half of the sandwich was pinned with an olive (aesthetic purpose, I guess). Sides consisted of shoestring fries and garden salad.

I went for the Duck Confit which came looking rather appetizing. The confit was placed on top of a bed of baby spinach and was surrounded by slices of orange. The meat was quite tender and the saltiness of the confit was controlled just right. The orange could have been riper, though. The baby spinach with balsamic vinegar dressing provided a good texture and taste to the dish. A good combination.

Next came the desserts. At this point, Anthony and I were still furious about the Tiramisu. We ordered the Chocolate Moist (RM10.00) and Cream Italian Cake (RM10.00).

The Cream Italian Cake was texturally soft. I am guessing walnuts were used in the cake as it did provide an extra kick to the otherwise uninteresting cake. The cream and nuts coating provided a nice flavour to the cake. Poppy seeds were found in the cake too. Not too bad, but still not as good as the Tiramisu.

The Chocolate Moist was quite ordinary to say the least. Rich cocoa cream coated and sandwiched between the really moist chocolate cake. The taste was rich but there was nothing outstanding about it. I was expecting a little more from Alexis since this is THE place for good desserts. Again, why isn’t there enough Tiramisu?!

On the show, the guest performer was Janice Yap. To be honest, I have not heard of her before but Azuan informed me that she is quite a famous celebrity. An award-winning musician, an actress and a TV presenter. Her repertoire for the night ranged from her own compositions to contemporary pop songs like Yellow (Coldplay) and Stay (Lisa Loeb) to R&B numbers like If I Ain’t Got You (Alicia Keys). As we sat too far from the stage, we couldn’t really concentrate on the performance and started to entertain ourselves by taking crazy pictures. What a waste. Anyhow, I thought her performance was OK despite a few glitches here and there. Her Mandarin tunes were quite enthralling too, to me at least. The band was alright and the chorus guy (sorry, I forgot his name) sounded great.

What could have been an entertaining night turned out to be quite a disappointment. I love Alexis’ music+dining concept but felt the execution was not done well. I don’t know much about the concept behind the interior design or the restrictions that the bistro has but why not design a dining hall that ensures all diners are able to watch the show from all corners (unless you want to dine al-fresco, of course)? A great place to dine and hang out but be ready for chaos. Unless you reserve or walk in much earlier before the show starts. We will definitely try the other Alexis at Bangsar Shopping Complex for the Tiramisu and for a less chaotic experience.

Do check out more on Alexis and the performances at this website:

Marmalade Kafe @ Bangsar Village 2

This was my third visit to Marmalade. The last two visits were quite pleasant and the quality of the food was consistent too. The decor was ever cheerful and minimally comforting. A quick browse through the food list showed no change in the menu (not that it's a bad thing, though) since my last visit 5 months ago.

I was there for lunch with Cousin Tony and his girlfriend. We decided to settle in Marmalade after a 30 minutes survey of the restaurants in Bangsar Village 2. No particular reason, just based on instinct.

After being seated, we quickly placed our orders. For drinks, we ordered the Iced Lemon Tea (RM6), Honey Latte (RM8.00) and Chocolate Mint Shake (RM10.00).

It didn't take long before the first dish arrived. The spaghetti bolognese (RM19.00). This was not one of Marmalade's signature dish but nevertheless, looked potentially delicious. Generous portion of spaghetti drenched in bolognese sauce and topped with Marmalade's signature alfalfa sprouts. The spaghetti was cooked al dente but the bolognese sauce was rather bland. Perhaps it was due to the lack of MSG since Marmalade promotes healthy comfort food. Since Tony's girlfriend couldn't finish the dish, we concluded that it was not that delicious after all. Looks can be deceiving, ya?!

Next came the Adventure of Arabia (RM17), which consisted of 2 pieces of lamb kofta, 2 halves of pita bread, greens and slices of tomato. The dressing included mint sauce and hummus. One bite into the kofta revealed a dry and hard texture. This was quite disappointing as I was expecting something more tender. The taste, on the other hand, was quite good though. The mutton tasted really fresh and aromatic. The dressings tasted quite alright. If not for the hardness of the kofta, I would have recommended this dish to everyone!

As for me, I went for the safest and most filling dish, the Moroccan Lamb Shank (RM22). This dish never failed to impress as it was always well-spiced, accompanied by lots of vegetables and most of all, filling. The lamb shank was again, tender. I'm guessing it was braised in the tomato-base sauce for a good amount of time. The sauce was rich on spices including cardamom seeds, which provided a hint of freshness into the slightly tangy sauce. Choice of accompanying vegetables was great too! Salad greens, broccoli and potatoes complimented the sauce well. The only complain I had about this dish was the rice. It was hard and almost undercooked. The sauce helped to soften the rice but still, I felt it was hard. Despite that, the dish was again, a winner as compared to the other 2 dishes.

This time around, we didn't order any dessert as we had to rush home for another appointment. But from my previous visits, I must say that Marmalade's Carrot Cake is a really wonderful creation. The generous portion of nuts used provides a wonderful texture and the candied orange peel gives a wonderful aroma and flavour.

Marmalade is a good place for comfort food, but I would say the best bets are the signature dishes. I have yet to try their famous quiche and will do so when I long for healthy comfort food in the future.

Marmalade Kafe
Lot 1F-18, 1st Floor,Bangsar Village II,
2, Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru,
59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +603-22828301

Alexis (Tiramisu)

Yes, it's the infamous Tiramisu from Alexis. I didn't know that Alexis serves good desserts until I read some reviews from other Malaysian floggers. I have yet to make contact with them but I'll do it real soon.

Since I was tasked to get a birthday cake for Aunt Yvonne, I wanted to get something avant garde. Something new (for my family and I) and interestingly delicious. The first cake that came to my mind was Alexis' Tiramisu.

I ordered the cake via telephone (it actually worked!) and got it picked up at Bangsar Shopping Centre a few hours before dinner.

The first impression of the cake was how fragrant the nuts were when we opened the lid of the box. With that, I already knew that I was heading for something really good.

Everyone enjoyed the cake and concluded that it was very well done but was a tad too sweet. I thought the sweetness level was just right.

Since I was busy playing around with my camera, I didn't really have time to analyse the cake and therefore, decided to "ta pau" or pack an extra slice for breakfast later.

And I'm glad I did because it tasted even better in the morning. Here's my "2-cents worth" analysis.

Unlike other Tiramisus, this one was coated with a layer of caramelized mixed nuts (almond and peanuts). A very good contrast to the rich inner layers of the Tiramisu.

Below the layer of caramelized nuts was the sponge cake dipped in coffee and cognac. The smell and taste of both the coffee and cognac was mild but still significant. The sponge cake was also not too moist nor soft. Great texture. Compared to the first piece I had the night before, this piece tasted more flavourful. Deeper infusion of liquor and coffee, perhaps?

Sandwiched between the layers of sponge cake were chocolate flakes mixed with mascarpone. The tangy flavour of the mascarpone blended well into the whole Tiramisu ensemble.

Overall, a very good buy (2.2 kg - RM115.50, tax included) and tasted like a little piece of Heaven. Definitely the best Tiramisu I've tried so far. I also read from other blogs that the Tiramisu was supplied by Suchan. Will definitely visit Suchan to confirm this.

There are not many dishes (in this case, desserts) that leave a lingering taste on your mind after awhile but as I write this post (about 2 weeks later), I am still salivating, thinking about the cake. Enough said. Better check whose birthday is coming up next!

Check out this website for more information on Alexis.

Steamboat (at home)

A day after Jacky Cheung's concert, a steamboat dinner was organized, in conjunction with Aunt Yvonne's upcoming birthday. The other reason was to "officiate" the can of abalone which I bought during Chinese New Year (can't wait to try).

I was really looking forward to this dinner as we seldom frequent steamboat restaurants and the fact that family-style steamboats usually boast minimum usage of MSG and fresher ingredients. Let's not forget unlimited helpings too!

For the soup base, the main ingredients were chicken and pig bones, which are the fundamentals for a rich-flavoured soup.

As for the ingredients for the steamboat (besides abalone), we added in crabs, meatballs (MSG-filled but still an all-time favourite!), oyster mushroom, dried beancurd skin, fish, Chinese cabbage, vermicelli, quail eggs, beancurd, wantons, prawns and the list goes on and on.

The soup tasted really sweet and clear, thanks to the addition of seafood such as crabs and prawns. A topping of cilantro and spring onions added extra flavour and texture to the soup. All ingredients were cooked just right (under Mum's watchful eyes).

I must compliment Mum on the wonderful wantons. The poached prawns wrapped in wanton skin exhibited a firm and juicy filling within a smooth layer of wanton skin. No MSG, no artificial flavouring. Nice! I usually help Mum to wrap the filling but since I was busy experimenting my camera, Mum had to do it herself.

Apart from the steamboat, I was also really looking forward to the roasted duck. Cousin Andy bought this in PJ (I must get the address from him) and according to him, this is a bestseller and is usually sold out within a few hours of sale. The fragrant skin was not charred and the meat was absolutely tender (a teenage duckling, perhaps?). The duck taste was retained (no much herb infusion) and usage of salt was optimum. A little inappropriate for a steamboat dinner but still, an outstanding winner!

After the wonderful dinner, we had a birthday cake (Tiramisu) for dessert. Guess where did I buy that cake? Read the next post to find out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Year of Jacky Cheung World Tour (Malaysia) 2007

Those who fed on Cantopop in the 80's and 90's will agree that the name Jacky Cheung is synonymous with great love ballads and powerful vocals. As for me, I have never been a Jacky Cheung fan. Perhaps it's the run-of-the-mill compositions or just me seeking unexplored musical boundaries. But every time you go for your karaoke session, you can't help but belt out a Jacky number.

On the 14th of September, I came back to KL to "worship" the God of Song with 2 faithful Jacky Cheung fans, Jason and Maverick. These 2 guys have been fans since we were in secondary school! It's not just a concert for us, but also a time for reunion and celebration of those school days gone by.

From the explosive (yes, pyrotechnics included) first song, 爱火花 to emotional finale of 祝福, the Year of Jacky Cheung World Tour (Malaysia) 2007 (学友光年世界马来西亚巡回演唱会 2007) at the Bukit Jalil Outdoor Stadium had been an entertaining and wonderful trip down memory lane. The God of Song has proven once again that he is still a professional performer and above all, an exceptional vocalist despite his recuperation from a cold and sore throat. He actually cancelled his last 2 shows in Hong Kong prior to this concert.

The concert was in typical Jacky fashion. Each segment started with a few fast-paced songs such as 饿狼传说 and 屈到病. Despite his age, this legendary singer can still sway and sing with such conviction. The young singers should learn a thing or two from this guy. The endings were filled with lots of signature tunes such as 吻别, 只愿一生爱一人, 每天爱你多一些, 遥远的她 (classic!) and 离开以后. This is the part that got the crowd going crazy. The big screens displaying lyrics of some famous songs assisted the crowd in some "unofficial" sing-along sessions. Well, most the fans already knew the songs by heart. The guys behind me knew. Wait, so did the girl next to me and the group in front of me. My cousins (who bought different seats of different prices, depending on their level of admiration for Jacky) reported the same situation. That means the whole stadium (30,000 people) was in fact singing along with him. Wow!

This concert also showed a more personal side of Jacky where he sang a few songs (from his Life is Like A Dream album) written by himself, explaining details of each song before he started to sing. 摇摇 was a lullaby for his first daughter, 讲你知 was for his wife, 给朋友 for his deceased friends and 在你身邊 for his second daughter. What I enjoyed most about this segment was the part where he urged the audience to adapt a more positive outlook on life. Now that's rare in a concert.

The musical segment (a combination of the 雪.狼.湖 musical and the movie, 如果·愛) to me was quite inappropriate (Jason shared the same view). Despite the good settings and vocals, I feel that a concert should remain as a concert. A theatrical concept with his signature tunes is fine, but a musical by itself will only distract the flow of the concert. Anyway, the plot was quite simple. Guy fell in love, got ditched, struggled to win back Girl, got ditched again. At this point, I must mention that the digital backdrop was amazing! We are guessing it's a LCD screen!

An encore was expected but the length and choice of songs were really surprising. According to a radio broadcast, about 95% of the audience stayed back for the encore! The length (a whopping 11 songs!) was mostly due to the overwhelming response from the audience. KL has always been a favourite leg of his concerts because fans here are warm, supportive and interactive. They even braved the rain in the earlier part of the concert! Songs sung included 心如刀割, 我真的受伤(my K-favourite), 情书, 李香兰 (surprise), 等你等到我心痛, 暗恋你(surprise, surprise), 蓝雨 and 月半弯, Each song was responded with thunderous applause from the audience. Everyone was singing along to most of the songs too, much to Jacky's delight.

The concert (which started at 8.45 pm) ended slightly after 12.00 am with Jacky (whom reportedly shed a tear due to the overwhelming support from the audience) descending from the stage.

Despite the below par sound system, there's basically not much to complain about the concert. A concert of great songs and good vocals is hard to come by these days. Whats even harder is a chance to reminisce those good old days of Cantopop with your long-time friends.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Oriental Pavilion

Dim Sum has always been a favourite of mine since my younger days. Maybe it's due to my Cantonese background. Or perhaps the sight of those morsels are just too irresistible. These days, a dim sum session is a good opportunity to catch up with friends and relatives.

Cousin Tony gave everyone a surprise by coming back to KL from the UK for his term break and so, a small dim sum gathering among a few close cousins was held. Cousin Andy suggested Oriental Pavilion at Jaya 33. Another food review on my blog?! I'm a happy man.

I'm not very familiar with restaurants in this part of PJ but knowing that it is under the management of the Oriental Group of Restaurants, I know I'm heading for some visually appealing food and great interior design as I have been to other restaurants under the same management, i.e. Noble House (off Jalan Tun Razak), The Oriental (Section 14, PJ) and Maju Palace (Jalan Sultan Ismail). Taste-wise, well, let's just analyse on a case-to-case basis.

That Sunday morning was really packed and we waited for at least 15 minutes to get a good table. Once seated, we headed to the samples section to order some side dishes, which will be cooked by the chefs a la minute (ok, perhaps a la tenths of minutes, judging from the piles of order sheets on the table). We chose the fried horseradish carrot cake, pig trotters in black vinegar sauce and roasted pork belly.

In the meantime, we ordered some traditional "must-have"s including siew mai (pork dumpling), har gau (prawn dumpling), gow choi gau (chive dumpling), chee cheong fun (flat and broad rice flour noodles with prawns in sweet soya sauce) and char siew bao (steamed buns with roasted lean pork filling). The steamed buns were fluffy, complete with well-marinated pork filling. The dumplings were expectedly firm in texture and the ingredients used were fresh.

The pig trotters in black vinegar sauce was a tad too sweet for me but was compensated by the tenderness of the meat. The fried savoury horseradish cake was also firm in texture but lacked the fragrance of the horseradish.

It has been a tradition for my family to order other non-dim sum dishes from the a la carte menu to complete any dim sum brunch. One of our favourites is the wat dan hor (fried flat rice flour noodle in egg sauce). This restaurant's version was commendable as the sauce was not too diluted nor too gluey (good control of starch). The fragrance of the fried noodles, due to the wok hei (additional heat), added extra flavour to the dish. Preserved green chillies as condiment provided such a good contrasting taste to this dish.

We also ordered the pork ribs (which was served individually). The meat was tender but the sauce was a tad too predictable for me. I could taste the presence of chili sauce and that was not very inspiring, I must say. Perhaps a red wine reduced sauce could have brought another dimension to this dish. Until today, I still can't get the concept behind the presentation of this dish. There's something pretentious about it, I feel.

We ended the brunch with 2 typical dim sum desserts. The ji ma joe (toasted sesame seeds coated glutinous rice skin with lotus paste filling) was dry and hard while the filling was quite bland. The egg tarts were even more disappointing as the fragrance of freshly baked egg filling was missing. The small portions and the overpowering of the custard filling left this otherwise great dessert much to be desired.

The bill came up to about RM220 (6 persons). Thanks, Andy!

There were some hits and misses in this dim sum session but given the good ambience and service, this is not a bad place to spend your weekend afternoon with friends and family. Oriental Pavilion tried to inject a sense of modernity into traditional Chinese cuisine (as with many other Chinese restaurants) but no matter how diversified your concept may be, good quality food should always be prioritized.

P/S: I forgot to order loh mai gai (glutinous rice with chicken meat)!

Oriental Pavilion,
Lot P104, 1st Floor, Jaya 33,
No. 3, Jalan Semangat, Section 13,
46100 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: 03-79569288

ABC Mydin Food Corner

After a great night in the city, hung pangs hit again! So, we headed to ABC Mydin Food Corner at Bandar Seri Mahkota. There’s no particular reason why we chose this Mamak (Indian-Muslim) stall for our late night supper. Just a place to hang out when we visit friends staying in the Cheras (Sungai Long) area. In fact, I try to have Mamak food each time I return to KL because this is really comfort food at its cheapest (unless you go for mutton soup or western food, of course) and is definitely a great place to have long chats without having to spend RM20 (or above) on a cuppa and designer cakes. And they open 24/7 too!

There were no surprises in our drinks selection as we went for our usuals, Teh-O-Ais-Kosong (unsweetened iced tea), Limau Ais (iced lime juice) and Horlicks Kosong Panas (hot unsweetened Horlicks).

Azuan ordered Indo-Mie Goreng (poached instant noodles mixed with dark soya sauce and flavouring) with Mata Kerbau (sunny-side up egg) which got my eyes all rolled up. I mean, I could have made this in my house. But comfort food is, again, comfort food. Therefore, not much comment on the generic taste.

I had the Kuey Tiau & Bee Hoon Goreng (fried flat rice flour noodle & vermicelli) which turned out to be quite bland. The chili sauce, lime juice and fried shallots didn’t help much in adding extra flavours to the dish. It also lacked in dark soya sauce. For my next visit, I think I will stick to my beloved Maggi Goreng (fried instant noodles) instead.

Anthony’s Cheese and Garlic Naan Bread looked quite interesting as a generous serving of chopped garlic covered the top surface of the naan. Cheddar cheese was found embedded in the naan itself. The taste was similar to that of garlic bread minus the fragrance of the sesame. The naan itself was quite fluffy, as compared to some Mamak joints that serve the hard type. The curries for dipping were quite flavourful and spicy. I love curries but somehow, I felt curries and cheeses are of 2 different polarities and don’t really blend well.

The total price came up to RM15 and Azuan paid for it (thanks!). We were too tired to breakdown the prices and just left it as it was.

Overall, an ordinary Mamak joint for a quick snack and a cup of tea. I am still searching for the best Maggi Goreng in KL!

ABC Mydin Food Corner
Bandar Seri Mahkota, Sungai Long,
Cheras, Selangor
(Sorry for the incomplete address. This place is very near Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)).

Banquet @ Bangsar Village 2

My first KL restaurant post! This is pretty exciting as one of the main purposes of this blog is to review restaurants and interesting food that KL (my hometown) has to offer. I must say I'm being a little biased when I chose to review the Banquet as it is one of the most talked-about restaurants recently (similar to the Marutama-Singapore post). Nevertheless, the review will still be very objective.

It was a rather tiresome evening (after the FRIM trail) but I was game for a great time and a good meal with my long-time buddies, Anthony and Azuan. I suggested the Banquet for the reason mentioned above and also the fact that we have already tried Delicious (Bangsar Village 1) and Marmalade. We chose to sit inside the restaurant (the smoking area), not because we intend to smoke, but the awkardness of being watched while we eat in the open (yes, we are a paranoid bunch).

I browsed through the whole menu in a split second (for formality sake) as I have already decided on my main course weeks before tonight's dinner. Yes, it's the infamous Oven Baked Butter Fish wih Honey Mustard Sauce (RM25). Anthony ordered the Mango Salad (RM13) and Penang Prawn Noodle (RM16) while Azuan chose Mee Jawa (RM16).

The Mango Salad arrived after 10 minutes, looking appetising with its bright yellow/green shredded mango flesh. The lime dressing provided an exotic flavour to the salad while the anchovies and peanuts gave extra texture to the dish. I sensed a hint of lemongrass in this dish but couldn't find it in the salad. It was a good starter but personally, I would have preferred a more refined salad, i.e. finer shreds and peanuts.

The generous portion of Mee Jawa was up next. The noodles was cooked just right but the sauce did not taste as good as it looked. It was quite diluted and lacked in the rich taste that Mee Jawa usually exhibits. Perhaps more roasted peanuts in the sauce will do the trick. The overall taste was alright, but I was expecting more from the Banquet, in terms of taste and creativity.

When the Prawn Noodles arrived, I thought it was a bowl of Assam Laksa! But the prawns by the side had convinced me that there was no mistake in the order. The colour of the broth looked amazingly rich. I wished I could say the same about the taste but it was quite bland despite the fragrant prawn oil infusion in the broth. I have tasted some really good Penang prawn noodle before, but this was just average in comparison. Again, I was expecting more from the Banquet.

And finally, the dish that had received raving reviews arrived. By the way, the cooking time for this dish is 20 minutes. The first impression I had was the choice of side dishes. Garden salad with balsamic vinegar was fine but I thought the chickpea and potato salad was a bit of an understatement. Since the mustard sauce is expected to be rich, a good contrasting taste in the side dish would have been fantastic. The fish, on the other hand, came in a huge portion and cooked perfectly well. The honey mustard sauce was expectedly rich/sweet and blended well with the fish. A dash of black pepper would have enhanced the flavour of this dish.

Overall, the dishes were visually appetising but unfortunately, not the taste. The Banquet had shown versatility in terms of menu and their effort for promoting authenticity in local dishes should be applauded but since this is the sister of another well-known establishment (Cafe Cafe) which I have yet to try, I was expecting a cut above some average cafes offering the same dishes. Service was excellent, by the way.

1F-28, Bangsar Village 2,
2, Jalan Telawi Satu,
Kuala Lumpur.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM)

Finally, the mid-semester break is here (1 week)! There were just too much going-ons in the past two weeks that I am so excited to post. Lets start with my visit to the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) in Kepong 2 Saturdays ago.

Visiting this place has always been on my wishlist but there's always "more" exciting urban activities to participate in such as karaoke sessions and movies (sigh).

Anyway, I was there with my long-time buddy, Jason on 2 missions:
(1) To test my first DSLR (Nikon D40X).
(2) To explore more interesting places in the city.

We arrived in the late afternoon, around 3 pm. The entrance fee was RM6.00/car. After a briefing by the guide in the information office, we embarked on the shortest trail available, the Keruing Trail (which will usually take about 30 minutes to complete, if you don't lose you way). There were a few interesting trails but since we planned to leave by 5 pm, the Keruing Trail seemed to be the obvious choice.

The first plant that greeted us at the "entrance" was the "tallest bamboo plant in the world", according to the guide. I'm not really sure about this but it sure looked tall!

The main attraction of the trail was the "WOW" spot (it was written on the map). This was the spot where the treetops resembled fragments of land. What an amazing view! Scientifically, this is a survival technique where each tree is able to secure it's fair share of sunshine. Makes me wonder whether we, as human, can live harmoniously in a fair and square habitat (society), just like those trees. Perhaps we should learn a thing or two from Nature.

By the time we returned to the starting point, it was already 4 pm, thanks to long but fruitless photography session I was having along the trail. (Sorry about that, Jason)

On the way to the carpark, I couldn't help but be amazed but some attractive and colourful plants (to me, at least) that I just had to snap some shots.

The first mission failed as my shots were just so-so. I will try to improve my photography skills with more posts (especially on food!). The second mission was accomplished. What a great excursion FRIM had turned out to be! The scenery, the plants and the animals (saw a squirrel!) were quite amazing. This is THE place for an educational outing and for urbanites, a place to unwind and just absorb in the sights and sounds of nature. By the way, FRIM has a museum and other interesting sites too!

One thing left me confused was the popularity of this place. Why aren't we promoting this as a major tourist attraction? Perhaps I went at a wrong time (will try to be there much earlier the next time), but all I saw were a few tourists (in fact, only 2 couples) and some joggers. . Kuala Lumpur is not just a city, you know. And this place is able to give tourists a preview of our beautiful tropical rainforest, before heading for the real deal at Taman Negara. With better facilities and heavier promotion, I don't see why this place can't be developed into a great tourist spot. As much as I respect nature, I don't think by bringing in more tourists will contaminate this wonderful place.

Will definitely be back for the other trails and more well-equipped too. Jason came with bermudas and sandals while moi was in shorts and pumps. And we totally ignored the warning about leeches! What a crazy and adventurous bunch we were!

Do check out this website (it's a very slow one) for more information on this place.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Coffee Club @ Holland Village

After leaving Chong Pang, we've decided to spend some time catching up on each other's life and of course, to satisfy our craving for something sweet (since we forgot to redeem the ice cream). So, we headed towards Holland Village and after browsing through a few cafes, decided to land in Coffee Club.
Jeremy and Jacq opted for the infamous Muddy Mud Pie while I'd decided to try out the Hazelnut Nougat Parfait.

The Muddy Mud Pie arrived first and looked divine, as usual. The best thing about Coffee Club's mud pie is that good contrast in taste between the slightly bitter taste of the cocoa powder layer below the pie and sweetness of the chocolate filling.

My parfait was visually appetising and tasted good as well. The taste of caramelized hazelnut in the nougat was well defined. The texture of the nougat was soft and light, making it a joyful experience with every bite. I enjoyed the orange tuile as it provided a refreshing taste to the nutty nougat. I scraped off every drop of the caramel sauce around the parfait (which I'm not sure if it was for aesthetic reasons) as it went really well with the crushed hazelnuts. I'm not a fan of Coffee Club's desserts but this ensemble has definitely got it goin' on for me.

A good chat with good desserts. What a great way to end the weekend.
By the way, service was very attentive too.

Coffee Club - Holland Village
48A Lorong Mambong
Singapore 277686
Phone: 6466 0296