Friday, May 30, 2008

Lunch @ Precious Pea's

Post-Wesak Day.

In my next life, if I ever get reincarnated in a non-human form (thanks to my impressive repertoire of committed sins), I wish to return as a man's best friend. Like Pea or Pumpkin. Ok, I prefer Pumpkin because he has a longer tongue. Well, Pea gets it up rather well too!

Ok, that is sooooo besides the point. Imagine being blessed with a loving couple. And roaming about a garden full of lovely sights such as


and this

and this.

Or spending the afternoons in the living room, lying on the floor and chillin' as his Jie Jie fills the room with the tranquilizing sounds of the guzheng.

*Bark, Bark*

And the gorgeous lunches she prepares.

Like this one which took place a few weeks back. With a menu consisted of the infamous Roasted Pork Belly, Black Vinegar Pig Trotters, Yong Tou Foo, Curry Chicken, Stir-Fried Vegetables, Steamed Tou Foo With Ginger & Preserved Vegetables and a Roasted Duck courtesy of Joe, it was very much complete.

As I am now speaking in the context of a man's best friend, I can only wish for pieces of delicacies the guests carelessly drop on the floor for a taste. No chance, as food bloggers are very much meticulous eaters. The fact is, the pork belly screamed deliciousness with its crunchy skin, the sweet/sour trotters were soft (with all those collagen content) and the curry chicken was spicy with a nice thick gravy. Not forgetting the colourful vegetables, the firm handmade yong tou foo fishpaste, the savoury local tou foo with a crunch (from the preserved vegetables and ginger) and that well-spiced roasted duck.

And her wonderful friends' wonderful desserts. Like the savoury Yorkshire Pudding dusted with icing sugar & laced with honey, that creative Riesling Jello and the soft Cream Puff With Lemon Custard Filling courtesy of Nigel and Allan. And that moist, juicy Pear And Ginger Upside Down Pudding from FatBoyBakes, which went very well with a double dose of Bulla.

A glimpse of the life of a lovely couple and their beloved doggies. Under the roof of their warm, loving home. With Wii.

Ah, how I envy them Pea and Pumpkin.

Thanks for the lovely lunch, Precious Pea Jie Jie and Gor Gor.

*Bark, Bark*

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Impromptu Tea With Bubbly @ FatBoyBakes'

Over an SMS, I was informed of tea with his non-blogging friends (and am honoured to be included in the fabulous guestlist). But the bubbling bubbly was certainly unexpected.

Having reluctantly turned down a previous invitation (due to geographical reasons), I made it a point to attend this one as I know how fun and tantalising FatBoyBakes' parties can be. I was so looking forward to it!!!

....*crickets chirping*....

It was rather quiet at first, as the guests settled at the dining table. I for one, was part of the silence as I studied the menu and hanky-pankied with my beloved other half. My D40X.

Then, the first bottle of prosecco rolled out. Followed by the second bottle. And the third bottle....then all hell broke loose. And we pay thousands of ringgits/dollars for enlightening companies to conduct those icebreaking sessions. Next time, just get booze-lah! Ok, perhaps booze is a little too unrefined in the case of prosecco. Afterall, we shouldn't really equate FHM to Botticelli's Birth Of Venus, should we? Ok, vino then.

I apologise for the rather insensitive booze digression and more importantly, the fact that I've not unrolled the scrumptious menu FatBoyBakes had created for us that day.

Let's start with the savouries, shall we?

Nigella Express Quesadillas. With ham, cheese and jalapeños wrapped in pieces of tortilla, the quesadillas were delicious. The rich cheese contrasted the hot, tangy pickled jalapeños nicely. Loved the soft wrap as well.

Cream Cheese Spirals. The pastry was light and buttery, but not the point of being too oily. Filling consisted of cream cheese coated bacon bits and coriander. The touch of chopped coriander was thoughtful as it accessorized the rich filling with its scent.

Chinese Rice Dumplings. The dark, Hokkien-style dumplings were flavourful and packed with ingredients such as chestnuts, salted eggs and chicken meat (if I recall correctly). And the group unanimously declared our love for rice dumplings, with lard. Oh, there was the alkaline water type as well. Lovely. Thanks, Paprika!

And the sweets. Oh, them lovely sweets from the fabulous baker.

Homemade Scones. Light and slightly crumbly, the halved, “buttermilk”ly aromatic scones provided a nice palette to splotch on a heavy dose of jam and double cream to mesmerise the palate. Ok, corny pun that was. Jam came in form of Four Fruits from St. Dalfour. Merci, Lemongrass!

Orange Mocha Chocolate Brownie. How thoughtful of the host to show me an example of a perfect brownie (he was unaware of my ‘touched-for-the-very-first-time’ version back then). The perfect brownie was optimally moist and soft. The icing was bittersweet and rich. And it made mine, well, like being touched for the very first time lor. It’s not about the tools. The key is experience, which I certainly lack.

Lemon Tart. I’m not a tart person (really) but I must say it was one of the tartest of tarts I’ve ever had. In a good way, of course. A taste of the custard filling revealed an explosion of zest of lotsa-lotsa lemon. It would have cost a bomb to have this at some starry, 'haute'r than thou cafes.

The jokes and well, more jokes accompanied the setting sun. Just when I thought we were done with the sparkling vino (I lost count of the bottles we had), came the grandest brut of them all. Oui, une bouteille de Moët & Chandon! Followed by more jokes. What a fantastic way to end the night!

And so it was. A great party at FatBoyBakes'.

Thank you for the lovely meal and above all, the jokes and laughters! I’m actually surprised I can recall the taste of the food I had as after the XXXXXXth glass of prosecco, I was already having an out-of-body experience.

*burp, burp*

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Palate Palette

The vibes were right,
it’s about time, quite.
Twice postponed,
this colourful lunch, we owned.


..... 20 minutes had passed and I still can’t get the next verse right in my head. I’m officially stuck. Impossible! I have all the right elements; a recent visit to a reading session at Seksan’s, a woman who has been a source of inspiration and a restaurant that screams colours.

What went wrong?!!

I need a drink. I remember the Golden Margarita we had that day. Yupe, that one with a sweet and sour pineapple taste. I still think it’s a lady’s drink: the shape of the glass, the way it is held, the rimming of the salt, the vibrant colour. Not quite a potent tequila/Galliano concoction but still, it humoured us.

It's already way past dinnertime but the thought of that petite bun makes me hungry again. Served warm, the slightly glutinous texture was wonderful. The crispy skin was thoughtful and I can still remember the scent that reminded me of a fresh bake.

And the Shrimp and Avocado Salad is perhaps one of the most photographed dishes at Palate Palette. With main ingredients (forming the shape of an igloo) like shrimp and avocado, the right word to describe the salad would be, rich. The use of crispy lettuce as a wrap gives an interestingly complementary texture.

Something smelt rather interesting as we discussed world politics. No, it was not a whiff of lemongrass. But apparently, of garlic. With pieces of bite-sized onion, it scented the potato mash rather pungently. A dig into the casserole revealed a mildly flavoured filling consisted of minced, braised oxtail with vegetables such as onion and carrot. Creatively simple (substitution of lamb/turkey with oxtail), hearty and could do without the accompanying mushroom sauce, this Oxtail Shepherd's Pie, I reckon.

Like the compulsory American Idol dinner or (for the unfortunate ones) supper on Wednesday/Thursday nights, the Petite Green Tea Mille Feuille is a must-try dessert here, at this restaurant. Break the layers with all your heart (as if to show your disapproval of DC's win) before taking a bite of the crispy pastry/smooth green tea paste combo. The buttery aroma of the pastry complemented the bow-shaped sweet paste (like the Archuleta/One Republic performance) while the raspberry coulis gave a touch of zing.

As I try to recall the topics covered, fragments of the attentive service, the culture-shocking hairy matter, the colourful deco and the endless shots (in vain) of the Cappuccino Crush With Hazelnut Monin Syrup come to mind.

And I as continue to recall and force myself to rhyme, I realise that I'm done with this post already. And am pretty happy about it (self-inflicted indulgence, as usual, LOL!).

Perhaps inspiration does not always translate into rhymes and reasons. Being inspired is already something to be thankful for.

Palate Palette
21, Jalan Mesui, Off Jalan Nagasari
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : (+603) 21422148
Website :

Golden Margarita - RM 20
Oxtail Shepherd’s Pie - RM18
Shrimp and Avocado Salad - RM18
Petite Green Tea Mille Feuille - RM13
Cappuccino Crush with Hazelnut Monin Syrup - RM11

Other reviews:
Lyrical Lemongrass
Lotsofcravings Joe

My 8 Habits, My Virginal Tag

(For Imbi & Itchy)

- My 8 Habits, My Virginal Tag -

I love a traffic jam
As much as smoked ham
When no one’s looking
I’ll continue singing.

Escargots are lovely
I love scooping the flesh
Nose digging is heavenly
Beats having a potato mash.

My crunchy little finger’s nail
Sharp and long in scale
When I hear not a word you say
Into my ear it’ll sail.

Plucking grapes in Bordeaux
A dream I should follow
Plucking my goatee hair
It’s pleasure beyond compare.

Brownies are delicious
I can take thirteen pieces
Fourteen is too much
And I’m superstitious.

After a busy day
And a rich parfait
With my working attire
I zzzz away.

Buffets are a blessing
With salmon and herring
But wastage is condemning
And I’ll be cursing.

79.657657657% cooked and tender
1.465421327 grams of pepper
24 degrees glass of water
100% obsessive compulsive disorder.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tell-A-Tale (Part 10): Virginal Orange Mocha Brownies

I wouldn't say my tools are huge. Nor would I consider them puny. For my virginal do, I hope to fully utilise whatever I own for my chastity is afterall, at stake here. I sought the oracle for guidance and he bestowed upon me a (what he called) fool-proof recipe. And that marked the beginning of my first baking experience, with my first cake mixer.

I shall not re-post the full recipe here as I followed it to a tee. Ok, being a defiant student (as I always have been, even back in kindergarten), I did alter a bit here and there. For example, I :-

1) used aluminum foil instead of baking paper (where got time to find this kinda thing??)
2) used 5 eggs instead of 4 (I thought the batter looked too stiff with 4)
3) omitted the vanilla essence/extract (because I could only find the perisa tiruan type...yucks!)
4) used 6 tablespoons of cognac instead of 2 (which made my frosting too diluted, bad mistake)
5) double-boiled my chocolate frosting instead of zapping it (because I don't have a microwave oven)

I used both the systematic and scientific approaches for my baking. Everything was laid in front of me before I started the mixing process. The recipe was right next to the cake mixer. And of course, I preheated the oven. Everything went rather smoothly.

Until the batter began to take its form. Looking at my aluminum tray, I thought it was too big for that amount of batter. I panicked. Gone was systematic. Leaving the mixer to entertain the batter, I looked up and down for a container of a more suitable size. And all I found was this casserole. I quickly washed it and was ready to pour in the mixture. Right then, scientific gave me a good slap on the face. Ceramic vs metal? Heat transfer?? Engineer??? Duh???? With no other alternatives, I poured the batter (and my guts) into the tray. And surprisingly, it fitted okay. And into the oven it went. Setting the timer to 30 minutes, I whistled a tune and started clearing the table. And guess what I found? A bag of chocolate buttons which was meant to be IN the batter. At that point, I could only laugh at myself. And continued to whistle.

The frosting turned out rather well until the AA me decided to jazz things up abit by increasing the dosage of the cognac. The result? A way diluted frosting. And there was no more chocolate. As I am writing this, I wonder why didn't I think of using the chocolate buttons to thicken the frosting???

Ok, the brownie baked rather well and after cooling it for 10 minutes, I poured the "frosting" on top of it. I waited for it to cool and harden. How long it took? 3 hours only. Did I not let the brownie cool long enough?

I was pretty anxious as I cut my first brownie. My first bake. It is going to be edible? Will the excess liquor soak up the filling by now already? Will the on-looking eyes burst into a big laughter? Will my baking chastity be wasted on a brownie?

Cutting was easy as the filling was kept intact. I took my first bite.

And it was good. I mean it! The subtle taste of the orange rind/juice really made it special. It was rather moist and soft as well. The only down side being the hardened frosting. But the scent of the cognac was alluring. Despite some stains and silly mistakes, I thought my virginal do was quite satisfying. And friends & family loved it. The brownie, I mean. A happy outcome that also marks my 100th post (not that it is of any significance-lah).

So, thanks a lot, FatBoyBakes for the recipe. Will be digging for more, o' oracular one!

For the complete recipe, please click here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant

Chen Huang Temple.
Within the vicinity of the nine-cornered bridge at Yuyuan Garden.
26th year of the Qing Dynasty

The steamed soup bun was created (or so the restaurant claimed).


I like this feeling. Of warping back in time for a taste of history. It is like listening to Jay Chou's (周杰倫) haunting Blue And White Porcelain (青花瓷). A masterpiece perpetually engraved on the beautiful body of a centuries-old vase. A timeless beauty, laced with bars of mesmerising contemporary melodies.

As assuring as the masterpieces by the dynamic duo of Jay Chou and Vincent Fang (方文山), I was very much looking forward to an encounter with the legendary Nan Xiang Steamed Soup Bun.

Served piping hot, the Steamed Soup Bun With Shrimp And Pork Filling (S$7.80 - 6 pcs) was flavourful. Thanks to the sweetness of the shrimps. As the orifice expanded, the flavourful melted gelatin oozed from within the skin, releasing a sweet/savoury taste of pork. Above average, yes. But not top notch as the skin was rather thick. Centuries old porcelains or not, I still prefer my Crystal Jade, the restaurant.

With such rich colours, I thought the Shanghai Fried Rice (S$7.00) was a sight to behold. Taste-wise, like a filler in an album, it was absolutely uninspiring. Think dark soya sauce, scrambled eggs and chopped scallion. Only. I'm sure there's more to Shanghainese fried rice than this. Well, hot and spicy, at least. Like those feisty, fair as snow Shanghainese maidens.

The Chilled Tofu With Preserved Vegetable (S$4.20) was a suitable side dish to complement the fried rice, we thought. The silken tofu was soft and has a rich soya flavour. The preserved vegetable was rather bland. A better crunch would have been appreciated as well. The dressing? A chili oil and soya-based sauce combination, simply.

A signature dish, the King Size Steamed Soup Bun With Crab Roe Stufing (S$6.80 - per serving) was not as generous as I imagined it would be. Slightly smaller than my fist, it was. With basically just soup and minimal solids, a large straw was all it took to extract the so-called treasure encapsulated by the thick bun skin. The soup (with bits of carrot, lard and meat) was rather salty. I also walloped the skin, cursing the thickness with every chew. Only to find out later from Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations that the skin was not meant to be consumed. My sejarah dunia (world history) textbook did not prepare me for this, I'm afraid.

Just as the dishes were as strange and uninspiring as Cowboy On The Run (牛仔很忙), came a dainty Hair Like Snow (发如雪) to save the day. The Steamed Bun With Glutinous Rice (S$4.20 - 3 pcs) was quite interesting albeit again, the rather thick skin. The simple glutinous rice was soft and flavourful. Honestly, I could do without the skin. Oh, throw in some dried shrimp chili paste as well.

The steamed buns were above average, yes. But if this whole meal was a reflection of a century-old oriental taste, we would have sung our Chrysanthemum Flower Bed (菊花台) long time ago.

OK, moving on to some Eason Chan (陳奕迅) ballads now.

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant
200 Victoria Street
#02-53 Bugis Junction
Singapore 188024
Tel: (+65)6835 7577

Other review:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tell-A-Tale (Part 9): A life? Or just alive?

An impromptu act.

An unimpressive lunch? A tad too salty dinner?

How about NO lunch? NO dinner? NO breakfast?
NO water? NO home? NO family?

Of unheard cries.

The numbers are staggering and still rising.
The people affected by Cyclone Nargis and the Sichuan Earthquake.
They need our help, despite whatever man-made politics involved.

Count our blessings.
Give what you can.
Bring back a smile.

For information on the cyclone and earthquake, check out these links:
Cyclone Nargis
Sichuan Earthquake

As this is a spontaneous post, I do not have time to gather information.
Here are a few links I managed to find, if you want to make a contribution.

Redcross (Singapore)
Tel: (+65) 6334-9152/53
Mercy (Malaysia)
Tel: (+603) 4256 9999

I’m sure there are many other relief efforts near you which you can contribute to. Choose one. You still have choices.

56: Life is given to us, we earn it by giving it.
(Stray Birds, Rabindranath Tagore)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tell-A-Tale (Part 8): Emak...Nasi Lemak...Gempak...

Who is your favourite chef in the whole wide world?
I am sure you have one.

I am no food critic, nor am I qualified to be one.
But to me, a good chef should fit a stringent set of criteria.

Let me describe my favourite chef and the set she owns.
Through one of her pièce de résistance, the Nasi Lemak.

* Individuality *

An ability to distinguish oneself from the mainstream yet maintaining a high level of taste that impresses tastebuds of many.

* Nutritionist *

Nutritious food need not always be boring. Think silky smooth steamed eggplants/okra, sweet/sour ripe pineapple pieces and crunchy, cooling cucumber cuts. And tell me you are not salivating already.

* Creativity *

Manipulation of the abundance of flavours, textures and scents. Addition of crispy salted fish to an already tantalizing ensemble. Exudation of a mild, appetising aroma. Stimulation of the senses.

* Perfectionistic *

An enhancement that distinguishes the inspired from the required. Like the use of smaller, crunchy anchovies for a more subtle flavour and refined texture. Not forgetting peanuts. Roasted.

* Holistic *

Completing completeness. A side meat to fill the missing gap between the fluffy brown rice and a rich sauce/sambal that comes in form of turmeric powder-marinated fried kampung (free range) chicken.

* Attitude *

Best represented by a bowl of spicy, real spicy sambal. Accessorized by a combustion of tang from the tamarind slices & juice, sweetness & crunch from the onions, savouriness of the anchovies and fragrance of the torch ginger bud (bunga kantan). Fiery and leaves one sweating buckets and teary-eyed. Move along now, Spice Girls.

* Passion & Dedication *

The urge to achieve the ultimate culinary experience. To create a dish of utmost satisfaction. Like a plate of perfect nasi lemak.

* TLC *
Like creating this feast for her family on the day of her own celebration. A celebration of overpriced carnations, overcrowded restaurants and overhyped perfumes. "Things are getting expensive. And you'll never know what kinda food they’ve stocked up for the weekend crowd. Especially this weekend". (An educationist as well).

For all the criteria mentioned above (and a prized possession of -10 Michelin stars), she is absolutely my favourite chef of all time. And I am ever grateful for that.

I am sure many of you will agree.

Before you start calling me Si Tenggang or Anti-Confucianism for allowing my favourite chef to heave over dinner last Sunday night, I should mention that I did take her out for dim sum that particular morning. And her comment on the food? !@#$#%&;;%! I don't call her my Gordon Ramsay for nothing.

Friday, May 9, 2008


We left with almost resonating burps. The folks were happy. That was all that mattered that Saturday night. Champs really delivered. In huge portions.

As we leave, I managed to really observe the surrounding for the first time that night. A rather ordinary pub with tables and chairs spilling out of the restaurant. The CTVs were displaying ESPN’s highlight of the latest soccer matches. Hordes of families slurping gigantic bowls of noodles. Adults’ cacklings versus children’s clatterings of utensils. Boys watching the screens while their girls watched over them, in annoyance. Ambiance.

It was the last dish to be served as it needed 25 minutes to cook. The Pork Baby Back Ribs (half rack (500 g above) - RM38) was every bit worth the wait. Grilled to perfection, the meat was slightly charred, tender and succulent. The most exciting part being the sweet/savoury marinate. I thought there was a hint of essence of rose (typically used in Chinese cooking for the aroma and as a tenderizer). Or was it the caramelized glaze? Anyhow, it tasted wonderful. There were also sides of corn and broccoli.

A slight disappointment, the New Zealand Chilled Lamb Rack (480 g raw - RM45) was. Though the meat was tender, sweet and succulent, there was a slight generic frozen smell that can be found in most lamb chops. Still, the meat was above average as compared to many wannabe-grillers out there. Oh, their mint sauce was dense, sour and a must to go with the lamb.

Tickled by curiosity (or si fart hunt - itchy a** in Cantonese), we ordered the Vongole Pasta (RM21). Although the ingredients for this dish included fresh shitake mushroom, shrimps, bacon, coriander, shallots and dried chillies, the ensemble was rather bland. Perhaps there was a lack in seasoning. The choice of seafood was nonetheless, fresh. We'll stick to the recommended dishes the next time.

'Damn Shiok' Hokkien Prawn Mee (RM18.90)! Convinced by the name (and the price), I was damn looking forward to a damn good bowl of prawn mee. The broth was dense and burst with the flavour (and aroma) of a truckload of cooked prawns. The pork was soft and flavourful while the vegetables (water spinach/convulvus and beansprouts) provided a nice crunch. I loved the garnishing which consisted of crunchy fried shallots and...thinly sliced lard! And the large prawns placed on top of the noodle were just a tip of the iceberg. Dig deeper and you'll find a whole chunk of peeled shrimps! Damn shiok indeed!

A Babitarian needed his dose of pork. So, he ordered the infamous Chee Yok Fun (pork noodles) at RM16.90. WHAT, you said? Uh huh. And was it worth the hard-earned ringgits? UH HUH! The soup was rich and every sip oozed the sweet and savoury essence of the adorable animal. The amount of pork included in the dish was staggering. Dig into the dish and you'll most probably find more pork than the noodles itself (circa pre price hikes of everything under the sun). I hope they still maintain this fantastic ratio. Babitarians will be happy to know that it also comes with a huge amount of crunchy intestines and fried lard bits. Porkilicous!

The rather unadventurous folks of mine opted for the Kampung Nasi Lemak (RM17.90). We had both the chicken and beef rendang versions. The rice was served piping hot and was fluffy as well. The chicken was rather unremarkable but the ribeye strips (of South American origin, they claimed) were surprisingly good. The meat was tender and the coating curry was packed with the richness of coconut milk, the spiciness of chillies and aroma of the kafir lime leaves/lemongrass/turmeric/onions/garlic mixture. My folks, my Gordon Ramsays were right (this time).

Over the phone @ 7.15 pm:

Condemner: Wei, I just passed Canton-i. Champ’s is in the old wing, right?
Condemnee: (o_O)!!! Where are you now?
Condemner: One Utama lah!
Condemnee: I never said it is in One Utama.
Condemner: (-_-)!!!
Condemnee: It’s at Centrepoint, Bandar Utama lah!
Condemner-turned-condemnee: Ok.
Condemnee-turned-condemner: Sleeping ar?

It was rather embarrassing how we reached Champs at a late (well, to the poor old folks, at least) dinnertime of 8.00 pm, I must say.

And we arrived...with “famished” written all over our poor faces that night. My fault.

Champ's Restaurant
Lot F10, 1st Floor
Centrepoint, Lebuh Bandar Utama
Bandar Utama,
Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: (+603) 7722 5800

Other reviews:
Daily Rantings
Cumi & Ciki