Friday, February 29, 2008

Hong Kee Tim Sum Restaurant

Changes are for the better, I always say.

How can the beauty of spring be enjoyed if winter’s snow would not go away? Okay, we live in a springless, snowless, humid, sticky, gaseous society but I'm sure you know what I mean lar.

So, instead of frowning over the moving-on of the beloved dainty dim sum called Xiu Long Bao, a group of fellow dim sums.....

....I mean food bloggers, gathered to celebrate this joyous occasion.

Hong Kee was the choice. Great, I said. The endless praises for the Sang Chow Lor Mai Fun or fried glutinous rice got me really interested in this otherwise out-of-my-radar dim sum restaurant. And did it live up to my sexpectation? Well, yes. Though slightly undercooked, the rice was a celebration of all wonderful flavours. The sweetness of the lap cheong (waxed sausage), the aromatic scrambled omelette, the piquant scallions, the inevitable MSG and most importantly, the fragrant, heavy dose of oil. Lardy lard. A sinful, smooth indulgence.

Imagine Heidi Klum in a 2-piece Victoria Secret. Now, put on her a puffy winter jacket (no skin exposed). I'm not sure if any guy will call this picturesque, but the Kai Wor Pau was certainly not my idea of a creative dim sum. It was basically an elaborated lor mai kai (glutinous rice with chicken) covered with a thick layer of steamed bun skin. The skin was dry too.

I like the egg tart for 2 reasons. One, for being an aftermath relief and two, it was good. The filling was sweet with a hint of egginess while the pastry skin was crisp and not dramatically oily. Giselle Bunchen it was not but could still pass for a feature in Sports Illustrated.

The Crispy Pancake With Lotus Paste Filling was generically good as the filling was optimally sweet while the skin was crispy. With a description like that, I could not think of a supermodel that I could relate to.

The Steamed Glutinous Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaves was quite tasty as there was good resonance between the blandness of the rice and the savouriness of the filling, which included pork and shitake mushroom. Unlike the fried version, the rice came warm and soft. Love the fragrance of the steamed lotus leaves. An oriental touch. A Maggie Q.

The other typical dim sums (served in bamboo steamers) tasted rather generic. The consolation being the freshness of the ingredients. No strange taste nor texture detected.

And there were desserts. Sid’s macaroons were a nice twist to the dim sums. The first thing that caught my attention was the size of the macaroons. Huge. There were many flavours to choose from. Even green tea. I had the one with chocolate and crushed peanuts. The shell was slightly crisp and light while the filling was dense and sweet. Thanks, Sid.

The celebration ended with goodbyes and promises of trips down south.

Here’s wishing XLB every success and joy in the roaring city.
Enjoy the change for an opportunity like this does not come by often.

Especially today, this date.

Hong Kee Tim Sum Restaurant
No 18 & 20
Jalan SS22/25
Damansara Jaya
47400 Petaling Jaya.
Tel: 012-6069787

Check out these links for more information on Hong Kee:
Precious Pea
Lyrical Lemongrass

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Restoran Sate Kajang Hj. Samuri

Hello batcha,

Welcome back to KL!
You look so different now! Perhaps staying in Burberryland has preppified you.
And that little accent.
Yenna, mike?
Well, who can blame you? It's been almost six years since you touched down at Heathrow to further your study while I traveled south to work in a factory.

You must be feeling jetlagged right now but we have no time to waste. We are hungry and in need of some real Malaysian food. Kudos to Toni and Wan for the great suggestion.

The dipping is nice, isn't it? A rich, dense and sweet peanut sauce, complete with tiny, nutty bits. And that spicy sambal topping to perk up the tastebuds. The hungry us keep on stirring and tasting the mixture. Just like how I think our conversation is going.

The sides; typical nasi impit and cucumber. Are you surprised that I actually take pictures of the food? Well, I'm a food blogger now. Don't be afraid. I am still me. Nothing has changed except an expanding waistline and larger eye bags. When I'm gone, the other two will surely bitch about it. The waitings, the interruptions, the comments. But they are still cool. We are still cool.

When was the last time you had satay? Heck, I should ask myself that question too. When was the last time Robbie Williams had a real great hit? The colours look good, don't you agree? Unlike those we had before. With a bowl of the sauce in hand, we are ready.

The Beef Satay is tender and juicy. A rather generous cut, I’d say. The sweetness of the marinate’s just right for me. Nicely spiced too. The slightly charred edges indicate that the grilling process is well-controlled. Dipping is optional at this point.

Have you noticed something different? The Chicken Satay consists of only lean meat. Do we ever get this kind of proportion anymore? Similar to the beef version, the meat is tender while the marinate is again, sweet. Syiok!

I’m heading south again in a few hours. We still have so much updating to be done. On your new projects, your life, your newfound interests. Well, your weekend friend will be back soon and hopefully, we’ll do that over dim sum at Jalan Ipoh. Just like those days, after grooving to those Ghetto beats. Or Bronx? Like I know the difference, haha!

Great seeing you again!

Yours truly…


But we couldn't make it for the dim sum.
And yesterday’s Oscar reminded me of you again lar, batcha.
Wishing you success in your career!

Restoran Sate Kajang Hj. Samuri
Lot 1,2,3, Tingkat Bawah & Tingkat 2
Bangunan Dato' Nazir, Jalan Kelab
43000 Kajang, Selangor Darul Ehsan
Tel: (+603) 8737 1853

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tell-A-Tale (Part 6): Life Is...A Weekend Extravaganza

What's life?

A Chinese New Year weekend turned retrospective as he contemplated on the meaning of life, inspired by the significant events leading to the brand new year.

Life is...bittersweet

The weekend took off with a brunch at Marmalade. They ordered all their favourites like the infamous carrot cake and homemade teas while he tested the Spaghetti With Smoked Salmon. The dishes were good, as usual. Everything went so well...until the staff came by with a lovely "no photography of the food allowed" greeting. So, as much as he'd love to visualise his joy, especially of that new found dish, he was left utterly disappointed. Anyway, the spaghetti was fantastic! The salmon was cooked just pinkishly right while the warm cream cheese sauce was rich and ever flavourful with each bite. Sad, isn't it?

Acceptance is about letting go.

Life is...full of surprises

Who would have thought a lion dance was going to start moments after the bittersweet brunch. Not just any lion dance, but a performance by the world-renowned, made-in-Malaysia Kun Seng Keng troupe. The crowd was left spellbound. Here are some highlights.

Of agility, coordination, grandeur and speed.

Almost a love story.

A change of scene.

The funky and harmless Qilin (Chinese Unicorn) took centrestage.

Whose your daddy now? Say my name! Say my name!

Surprises, take it with open arms (and enjoy it, truly).

Life is...pursuing completeness

What is completeness? A reunion dinner of friends and family, filled with love and of course, good food. The venue was his staple Taman Batu Restaurant. The turnout, 24 pax. The food; abundant, delicious and warm. Here are some interesting dishes that completed the night.

The no-frills, flavoursome, colourful Yu Sang.

The crispy-skinned Suckling Pig.

The textural and aromatic Fish Meat Filled Chicken Skin.

The rich and prosperous Braised Pig Trotter.

The sweet/savoury, crispy Deep-Fried Prawns With Salted Egg.

Completeness never felt so full.

Life is...hopeful

Like the break of dawn. Like that beautiful Sunday morning. Hoping the first meal of the day would be the best. Hoping the revisit to Marco Polo would be worthwhile. Hoping the rest could wake up in time. Here are some of the hope-turned-delicious dim sums.

Not a dim sum, but the freshest, most refined and most flavourful Yu Sang he had this year.

The beautiful blend of textures and tastes in the Fried Radish Carrot Cake.

The tender bites of the simple Fish Paste.

The ubiquitous yet wonderfully flavoured Char Siu Bao.

The soft and warm Glutinous Rice With Chicken

When there's a purpose, there's hope.

That was the last Chinese New Year weekend for the year.
But seemed like a lesson of a lifetime.
Life is certainly...a weekend extravaganza.
Of wonderful colours and flavours.
If you want it to be...

Still in time to wish you a wonderful Chap Goh Meh.
Hope you had a fruitful new year celebration this year.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Banquet (revisited)

Fourth day of Chinese New Year.

Do we ever get enough auspicious wishes?
Or those indigestible prosperous dishes?
Overpriced dinners of Chinese fare?
Stocked-up unfresh meat to spare?


I needed a break.
I craved for luxury in peace.
I wanted to know what I eat.
And the usual price of it...

Since Marmalade was closed
Banquet then, I supposed
An unconvincing first visit
I was doubtful, I admit...

Burgundy Cheek of Wagyu (RM69)
Cheek of marbled wagyu, stewed in full bodied red wine for 5 hours. The beef melts in your mouth. Finished in red wine reduction, and mashed potato flavoured with white truffles.

Soft, rich and sweet
A wonderous piece of meat
The words were real
It was the real deal...

I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. I absolutely loved it.

Tiramisu (RM18)
No description on the menu.

Thunderous amount of brandy
Rich layers of mascarpone
Soft as clouds you see
Sweet as her lips can be.

First bite. First bite. You had me at first bite.

I adored their Euro delights
But not their Asian rewrites
Bidding farewell to the magic
Recharged for more CNY bites...

1F-28, Bangsar Village II
2, Jalan Telawi Satu
Bangsar Baru
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 2282 3228

Friday, February 15, 2008

Marco Polo Restaurant Sdn. Bhd.

It almost felt like a wedding of an arranged marriage.

The anxiety, the anticipation, the obligation, the exhilaration and of course, the hefty cost. He cropped his hair and had on a clean, white shirt. His family was there. Just an hour away... He was prepared for the big day. He ignited the engine and hoped for the best. Then, he felt a tap on his shoulder. “Are you sure of this?” she whispered. His world came to a pause. She knew it all. He’s been talking about this new-found love of his for sometime now, unawarely. He got introduced by his blogging friends. It felt good. And real. “It’s not too late to change your mind. Chynna can wait”, she said. He was torn. But he must decide. Now.

Traffic was clear on the third day of the lunar new year. Stepping into the restaurant, he was greeted by the typical oriental sounds of Chinese restaurants, before the smiling staff. Dim sum carts were making turns like tuk-tuks on the busy streets of Bangkok. The drivers, mostly ladies, donned a regal black and gold uniform. Perhaps they were late. At 10.30 am, the crowd was thinner than expected.

They started off with the Salmon Yee Sang (RM38 for half portion). The captain was there to assist in the preparation. Each addition of ingredients into the dish was accompanied by an auspicious wish. How interesting. First bite revealed a rather bland taste. By the second bite, the flavours began to communicate. The finely crushed peanuts and sesame seeds were aromatic and crunchy. The pickled ginger and shallots gave a rather sharp taste while the jellyfish provided crunch sans the polymeric taste. The plum sauce was subtlely sweet, which was much appreciated. Pepper and five-spice powder were optimally used too. At first glance, the salmon looked promisingly fresh, judging from the bright hue. And it certainly was. May he add generous portion and thick slices too. A much loved, much refined Yee Sang.

Next, dim sum time. As they planned to have noodles later, the selection was down to only a few dishes in bamboo steamers. The Chicken And Shrimp Dumpling resembled a typical siew mai (pork dumpling), minus the lard. Firm and savoury, it was alright. He could not figure out the topping though. Roe? Salted egg yolk? Or dyed sago seeds?

The Steamed Pork Ribs was given a Chinese New Year twist as it was herbalised (with angelica roots and wolfberries) and topped with black sea moss. A strange cross between bak kut teh (herbal soup pork) and braised pork. He preferred the common version.

No one shied away from the quintessential Char Siew Bao (barbequed pork bun) as it was very flavourful. Unlike the normal dyed red, diced chunky meat version, the flaky meat filling was finely minced and well-marinated with a sweet/savoury soya sauce mixture. Bun-wise, warm and fluffy. A second order of this was placed. It was that good.

The Stir-Fried Radish Cake did not fair as superlative as the buns. Quality was maintained as it was neither too salty nor bland. There were also generous amounts of choi poh (preserved white radish), beansprouts, chives and scrambled egg thrown into the dish. He thought the lap cheong (waxed sausages) was a nice addition.

He was always sceptical about his Chee Cheong Fun (rolled rice flour lasagne with char siew). It's going to be either too thick or too soft or just plain bland. None of the above, surprisingly. The skin was thin enough to melt yet firm enough to be gripped. With a hint of rice fragrance to boost too. The soya sauce amplified the taste of the dish but char siew (or shrimp) was optional, he though. He loved it.

A signature dish, the Braised Egg Noodle With Siakap (barramundi) closed the brunch. The noodle was crispy while the slices of fish were firm and fresh. The starch/egg sauce was optimally salted. Greens were aplenty too. An average dish with very generous amount of ingredients. If only there was enough wok hei (char flavour).

An old-school dim sum experience that he sorely misses. There were traces of answers to his earlier questions too. No fancy fusion, just good old traditional dainties to touch the heart. With a bill summing up to about RM152 for 5 pax (peak season, mind you) and absolutely impeccable service, he was more than happy with his choice.

Pleasurable guilt at its best. He made his choice. But was it the right choice? Could things have been better if he chose Chynna instead? For now, he doesn’t know nor does he even care for love is blind and it should stay that way. What's really important is that it touches the heart, like those morsels. As for Chynna…he’ll keep in touch.

Marco Polo Restaurant Sdn. Bhd.
1st Floor, Wisma Lim Foo Yong
Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: (+603) 2142 5595, (+603) 2141 2233

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kedai Makanan Kar Hee (Sin Kar Hee)

These days, everything is about convenience, isn’t it? Internet banking, liposuction, online shopping, cable programmes recorder, PDA integrated mobile phones, Xpress boarding…as long as you’ve got the dough, you’ve got convenience. Life in the fast lane can’t get any faster than this, provided you don’t crash and burn, that is.

Heck, even the usual day-long reunion dinners (preparations included) have been conveniently reduced to a 2 hours hassle-free dinner at restaurants which are kind enough to open on reunion’s day to satisfy you speedsters. Not that I’m complaining though. Think of a joyful day without bickering on whose doing the dishes, swearing of the little ones while folding back the endless collapsible chairs and those dreadful whispers of whose dish was the yuckiest. This is real, people, unlike those syrup-glazed reunion advertisements you see on television. Yes, reality bites.

This year, the senate (those with the dough power, actually) has again unanimously voted for a hassle-free dinner away from home. Hooray! No more tasteless sweet and sour pork from Aunt No. XXX or Aunt No. YYY’s oily curry.

Sin Kar Hee was the choice. A first for me. There are 3 restaurants on the same row of shops bearing very similar names. I wonder why. Apparently, this specific restaurant is famous for its (very) affordable price tag and commendable food. Judging from the overflowing number of reserved red-clothed tables, I was quite sure there’ll be havoc no matter how heavily armoured this restaurant was. Thank goodness the rascals were punctual (me included) and we started feasting at 6.00 pm sharp before everyone else.

The Yu Sang (raw fish salad) got the ball rolling. Kiasuism galore as everyone tried to toss higher than the rest while yelling auspicious phrases like (loosely translated), “toss higher, prosperity more”, “business good like dragon” and “ascending with every step”. Whatever happened to “heal the world”? The salad was generic at best, with the sweet plum sauce dominating the overall taste. Textures were aplenty, from the crunchiness of the crushed peanuts to the crispness of the crackers to the softness of the fish.

The Deep-Fried Beancurd With Thai Sauce somehow resembled a rojak sans shrimp paste. Instead, a sweet and sour Thai sauce was used to dress the crunchy pieces of beancurd. Crushed peanuts and sliced onions added both flavour and texture. A simple dish that appealed to the little ones.

I enjoyed Kar Hee's version of Braised Pig Trotter. The skin was smooth and soft while the meat was tender and flaky. The savoury braising sauce was minimally sweet and was not overpowered by the five-spice powder. My only complaint being the slightly starchy sauce.

Despite the plentiful ingredients, I thought the Braised Seafood In Claypot was unexciting to say the least. The prawns were fresh but the sea cucumber was quite hard. Braised? Hmmm...The sauce was a mere starch and oyster sauce mixture.

Next on the menu was the Steamed Chicken. Frozen chicken it was not, the meat was tender and quite flavourful. The warm juice from the chicken tasted savoury and sweet. A good accompaniment to the untouched bowl of white rice. I wished there was a shallots/sesame oil/soya sauce/cilantro dipping to go with it though.

The dinner gained momentum as the Steamed Hybrid Fish was served. A new Taiwanese breed of river carp (wan yu) and bighead carp (song yu) combined, the restaurant claimed. Cooked just right, the meat was flaky and smooth. The sauce was a typical diluted minced garlic/ginger paste, which provided a sharp and flavourful twist to the rather bland freshwater meat. The only downside being the countless amount of Y-shaped bones.

Greens-wise, there was the generic Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts. The sprouts were well-cooked but lacked in that fried garlic flavour and wok hei (slightly char flavour). We also had Stir-Fried Bittergourd With Scrambled Eggs. Albeit the slight over-saltiness of the sauce, the addition of eggs added a wonderful aroma to the dish. No picture of the bittergourd as the rascals weren't that camera-tolerant. Food-blogging friends, go get your baseball bats!

Did I mention the greens were the finale for the evening? Well, technically yes. But I guess laughters and teasings were really taxing and we ended up ordering an additional signature dish of Kar Hee's to make up for energy lost. The Steamed Frog Legs With Chinese Wine. Served piping hot, the meat was tender, succulent and sweet. Infusion of the sweet wine added another dimension to the dish. Best consumed while hot. Portion was humongous, by the way.

Overall, the dishes were commendable. Exquisite they were not, but definitely good tai chow (stir-fried dishes). With that many auspicious ingredients (prawns, fish, chicken), a bill summing up to only about RM830 for two tables (of 12 pax each), including a few bottles of Heineken, and endless laughters, there was not much that I can complain about, really.

The rest proceeded to desserts at a relative's house while I rushed to my second appointment. Talk about the fast lane, huh? I was on overdrive that night.

Kedai Makanan Kar Hee
No. 28, Jalan Manjoi
Taman Kok Lian
51200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 6253 1240, (+6019) 277 4003, (+6012) 338 0469

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tell-A-Tale (Part 5): A Young Rascal’s Lunar New Year

Everyone was busy preparing brunch
But I was watching the holiday cartoons on TV

Mum insisted on being vegetarian on the first day
.....ok, mum.
But I sneaked out the leftover roasted pork
.....from yesterday’s reunion feast.

I gave my best greeting, my most sincere smile
But I was really hoping for the ang pow.

No gambling was allowed
But I won some (play with the younger ones, they are easier)

I told Grandpa I’ll stay at home
And promised Grandma I’ll visit
But I scurried out for movies and fastfood…with the rascal cousins.

Dinner was the same old withered vegetables
But I was already full with fries and burgers.

Dad yelled at me for finishing the arrowhead crisps
But I blamed my visiting friends instead.

I will stay far far away from the fireworks, I promise!
But I was the one to ignite the firecrackers.

Everyone was fast asleep
But I was still counting my ang pow money.

Long gone are those good old days
But I’ll remember every moment…always

There won’t be much this year,
But the old rascals will still be up to no good, I fear.

Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful Lunar New Year, wherever you are.

Pic (1) : The Curve, Mutiara Damansara
Pic (2) & (3): NiuZeXui, Ara Damansara