Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fullwealth Seafood Restaurant

Considering the stiff competition from AsiaAir, I thought MAS has ventured into the food and beverage industry. And it would not come as a surprise because I see tour buses packing the front of Fullwealth on a regular basis. I wished it was true. Hey, we need some creativity in order to survive in this tough business (and every other business too), ok?

Now why on earth would we want to eat in a tourist spot, you ask.

Simply because it is a good restaurant. A long standing one at that. Those who had stayed long enough in Kepong will recognise Fullwealth as one of the hot favourites for weddings and birthdays since the eighties. The last time I was here was when my cousin got married in the early nineties. Her children are now in college, I think.

A little too late (this post) but happiness runs all year round and it should be shared. Another yu sang before the next Chinese New Year. Not extraordinary but for a taste of what yu sang has been like for the past 20 years, this is a good choice. That translates into a no-frills toss of dense sweet/sour plum sauce, crackers, assorted colourful vegetables and carp. Salmon came into the scene much later, I believe.

Here’s wishing everyone a stable year ahead.

It was towards the end of the Chinese New Year celebration and they were still eager to boost their specials. You know, dried oysters, black moss, abalone and everything else that rhymes with all things auspicious (literally). We went for the usuals instead. One of them was the Red Wine Pork Ribs which did come with a taste of red wine. If you have been eating dai chow for a long time, you would have realised that all those Guinness/Marmite/red wine/teriyaki ribs taste alike. It’s due to the lack of those aforementioned ingredients and the overdose of caramelised sugar, which made the sauce tasting sweet and nothing else. So, this was quite good. Huge pieces of pork as well.

Ok, I could not resist putting up a sexier shot of the pork.

I am still wondering about the Deep-Fried Cod with Sautéed Onions. Cods are cool for its milky taste and when eaten with the slightly charred, crunchy sweet onions, good stuff. However, adding a sauce that came between Worcestershire and oyster was just too confusing. Ok, the others loved it. And I have been labelled as a purist, which is not true.

Oh-oh-oh, the chicken. The crispy, salty Roasted Chicken. Wonderfully aromatic and tenderly roasted, lip-smacking. Perhaps the chicken pieces were rather hugely cut, bite sizes would have been appreciated. Dip it into the condiment that made mostly of salt for a surge in blood pressure (euphoria, in other words).

A lunar birthday celebration is never complete without the order of longevity noodles. To be consumed at the length it was served, the noodle was well cooked. Fulllwealth’s version was soupy and came with plenty ingredients like pork. Those who like their noodles dry, oil, aromatic (hokkien mee!) will not like this version but if mild is wild for you, then this will be a good choice. Eat it with lots of pickled green chilies.

Surprise came in form of a cake from Miki Ojisan. Instead of the signature cheese, they went for buttercake. Simplistic and subtle, it was good. I should introduce them to the array of cakes from the incredible FatBoybakes.

At RM187 for 5 pax, it was definitely on the expensive side but then again, it was during the Chinese New Year period. We were lucky to be able to get the only few tables left that night, as the rest were fully booked.

Perhaps we should check out this place again, on a normal, clear sky day.

How about today?

Fullwealth Seafood Restaurant
No. 38/40, Jalan Ambong Kanan 2
Kepong Baru
52100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 62524966/62524977/62524988

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OUTBACK Steakhouse @ Millenia Walk

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil,
You'll come a-waltzing matilda with me.

There came a-waltzing time when the world was crumbling down and the people were hungry and poor. In the heart of town, a Tasmanian girl was in search of coins for exchange of a slice of bread. To her surprise, a kind man presented her with a piece of paper. It was a ticket. She read the words, told her other poor friend whom was also in search of fortune on the west side of town and together, they embarked on a journey to the great outback.

Along the way, they talked about their expectations of the outback. How exciting, how blessed, how they would stuff themselves silly with food. The friend sang with glee knowing that he will have a chance to eat cow meat.

Complimentary Bushman Bread – sweet and fluffy, it was really good!

Pan-seared Darling Point Crab Cakes (S$14.90) - Juicy, flaky crabcakes served with a mild remoulade sauce.

Grilled fish marsala (S$26.90) – 225 gms of dory fish served with a flavourful cream based spinach/mushroom marsala sauce and vegetables as side.

Outback Sirloin (S$27.90) - 8 ounce of seared, juicy, grain-fed center-cut.

The outback was a happy and friendly place. They were glad the children had fun and gave them another ticket, singing you'll come a waltzing matilda with me.

No, this was not near the billabong.

On the way back, the Tasmanian girl found something amusing. She counted her coins and bought herself a cup of paradise. It was very different from the outback and she seemed to enjoy it more.

Happy, they both went a-waltzing back to the harsh reality of recession.

OUTBACK Steakhouse
Millenia Walk
9 Raffles Boulevard
Singapore 039596 (next to Conrad Hotel)
Tel: (+65) 8837 3242

Friday, February 20, 2009


Most of the time, I don't ask why I was brought to a certain restaurant or stall to eat. I'm sure my parents find them to be of a certain standard (as in taste and not ambiance and class, which we really don't care much) before suggesting it to the spoilt (as in the tastebuds) son.

I vaguely remember dining here although I do pass by this area quite often. The restaurant itself is of an interesting proportion, almost like a slice of pie (yes!), and looked more like a rusty zinc-roofed coffee shop that serves breakfast in the morning and perhaps, just beer at night to the old folks who live nearby.

Things got a little interesting when the boss came to take our order and dad started to talk to him. Apparently, this restaurant has been around for more than 50 years. Back in the olden days, this was like the place to be for lunches and dinners. The owner of this restaurant, whom was also the father of the current boss, used to play soccer with the uncles in my neighbourhood! Now, I was more intrigued in their conversation rather than the food. Things have not changed much since then. It is still packed during lunch hours but the dinner crowd has thinned. We didn't ask why but judging from the number of commercial buildings surrounding this restaurant, it was quite obvious dinners are often catered to the residents in the neighbourhood, which is rather scare as most houses made way for the development of this area.

And that's not a bad thing, if you ask me. With a smaller crowd, one is able to absorb in the history of this place. The interior is still very much similar to those old coffee shops in Chinatown and the signboard bearing the name of this restaurant still stands tall, overlooking the busy Jalan Ipoh.

Although they've stepped up to the game by coming up with dishes to suit the younger tastebuds, we went for their good old signature dishes instead. Okay, it was dad's idea to go classic.

It came piping hot and the aroma of the mashed salted fish was simply wonderful. The continuous heat supplied by the claypot ensured that the aroma is not lost and that's great. There's something about that acquired taste (and smell) of salted fish that makes it appetizing. The pork belly, coated with a nice, thick layer of soya sauce was well-cooked and delicious. Some dried chillies were added for heat as well. I had a crazy thought of mixing my bowl of white rice into the claypot and just have it all to myself because white rice and this dish make a perfect pair, definitely.

I remember a fish dish. Deep-fried that resulted in a crispy skin and flaky white meat. But I can't seem to recall the type. Most probably a siakap. But it was the soya sauce that got me excited. So, what makes a good soya sauce dressing for fried fish? It has to be re-cooked with piping hot oil and fried garlic. There should be enough sweetness in it to give a good contrast to the saltiness of the sauce. And yes, this one was just everything I imagined. Nice.

When the boss suggested spinach with superior soup, I rolled my eyes in my mind. Yes, it's definitely achievable. Anyway, it was a signature dish that was greatly misunderstood on my part. The fact is, it was not so much about the spinach but the soup itself. One sip and you'll taste the richness of the soup. Not surprising as it does come with three types of eggs, namely century, salted and well, normal chicken eggs. To add more flavours and textures, there were button mushrooms, shitakes, chinese ham and anchovies. A bowl packed with flavours, this. As I looked around, this dish was on every table! They don't call this a signature for nothing.

Dad had to order the classic of the classics; fried prawns with yam sticks. Perhaps for diversity in texture and taste, the combination was interesting but the batter was rather generic and reminded me of those pre-packed Kentucky powder we use for deep frying. In other words, overspiced. But that's just my opinion as some like them with lots of five spice powder. Dad also said that the yam sticks used to be finer.

Another good dish was the stir-fried black pepper pork slices. Combined with healthy portions of onion and scallion, the dish was a good go with white rice. I think I must have had two bowls of rice, at that point. The aroma of black pepper was evident and the pork slices were smooth. Okay, I like this dish.

Some would have noticed that I rant about Hokkien mee all the time and how people just don't cook them like they used to. I bring this thought with me everytime I visit a new dai chow restaurant. So, with about 0.5% storage capacity left and the fact that this is an old skool Chinese restaurant, I requested for Hokkien mee, hoping to find a taste that was lost since my primary school days. It passed the test on multiple levels, for example; dryness, colour, his royal lardness, ingredients and chilli paste. But it was the slightly milder taste that lowered the score but still, very much better than those restaurants that serve wet Hokkien mee which I always think is misunderstood for Hainanese mee.

I should mention that the chilli paste was absolutely flavoursome. Authentic enough, it was re-fried with the addition of dried shrimps for that savoury taste, unlike those that serve cold chilli paste off the plastic bags.

How often do we see complimentary desserts these days in dai chow restaurants? This one even made coconut and mango jellies, which I thought were optimally sweet and tasty.

I believe I'm the third generation in my family to have dined here. I can't remember the first time I was here, maybe because I was too young and too into the western fried chicken restaurant somewhere along the road but it was a good revisit and it did spark off a new dai chow interest in me. When you have traveled too far and have eaten too much of those sushis and steaks, it's good to go back to your roots and enjoy what you've subconsciously missed; a bowl of warm, white rice with your favourite stir-fried dishes.

More of yesterday once more, please!

4A, Batu 4 1/2
Jalan Ipoh
51200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 6258 5309 / (+6012) 306 2628

Click here for the map.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tell-A-Tale (Part 30): The Black Cat & Bacon Rolls

In Haruki Murakami’s stories, the black cats are wise. They are able to communicate with human as well. There’s something in the eyes of the black cats that makes them somehow haunting, like owls. At times, when I see a black cat, I stare into their eyes and try to communicate. I am a Murakami fan, you see. No luck so far.

I usually meet black cats during the nocturnal hours. Perhaps it’s just me overreacting to these usual encounters, as some friends said. Like how I am always able to catch 4:44 pm on my watch.

Returning from the pasar malam last Sunday night, I was still trying to get rid of the smell of the stinky tofu from my mind when a black cat jumped out of nowhere as I opened my front gate. More angry than shocked, I stamped the cement floor, sending it running for its life. I was very close to flying my slipper at it, even.

It was a really huge black cat, somehow well maintained too. I was not able to catch its eyes though. It also wore bells on its neck, sort of like Doraemon’s. It didn’t occur to me that perhaps the black cat was trying to tell me something or lead me to a place were lost cats can be found. I don’t blame myself as the last time I touched my Kafka On The Shore was like, two years ago?

The incident haunted me for awhile. Not so much on imaging that perhaps the cat was trying to make acquaintance but the stream of bad luck that may follow. Superstition runs in our blood, like it or not. It doesn’t help much if you are a follower of AXN Beyond’s programmes.

In Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat, an impulsive act of hanging a sagacious, black feline on the tree by a man has led to a chain of frightening events, including the murder of the man’s wife as she tried to stop him from killing another similar black cat. He was later hung after the police found the decaying body of his wife, hidden behind the new layer of wall. It was that similar black cat, with its cries, that alerted the police as it was walled alive, together with the decomposing wife.

Looking back, I can’t imagine the consequences I’d face had I flew my slipper at that cat. Perhaps it would have appeared in my worst of nightmares, scratching my face with its wolverine-like claws and as I die of excessive bleeding, it says "Don’t you dare mess around with us pussies".

Well, something did happen. I baked a couple of bacon rolls using the dough from the samsa recipe and it turned out quite alright. But when I took a bite the morning after the encounter with the cat, it was surprisingly bad. The texture was harder than I expected and the bacon was tasteless. Perhaps I kneaded too long. Or the quarter cup more of water that was poured into the dough. Or maybe I should have used butter instead of canola oil. And the fatty type of bacon instead as it is more flavourful?

But the biggest question is, how could the rolls have turned from alright to bad overnight?

It’s the cat.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Inspired by the recent memes that are taking the cyberworld (Facebook in particular) by storm, here are my answers to one that was forwarded to me. The meme’s title is, "Things you do in a typical Japanese restaurant".

Now, you don’t have to forward this to anyone just because you want to know them better. The best way to know someone is to ask them out for a makan session in, well, a Japanese restaurant perhaps? Still, memes are thoughtful, no doubt. But I prefer the makan session. Haha!

Here goes.

1) I start with ocha.

When in Japanese restaurants, one of the things that I pay attention to is the ocha that’s being served. That first sip of the warm, slightly acidic taste with a wisp of chlorophyll, to me, is important as it excites the tastebuds and gets the appetite going. It doesn’t even matter if it’s one of those sachets, provided the taste is good.

Waraku de Gohan, they make their own green tea bags. The taste was mild, unfortunately.

2) I open all the jars to see what’s inside.

When it comes to condiments, Japanese restaurants tend to provide the most basic of flavours like katsuobushi, wasabi, aonori, shoyu, goma and beni shoga. This is perhaps inspired by their au naturale lifestyle.

3) I will play with the condiments if I am bored.

It is only in the Kansai region that I’ve tried the best okonomiyaki and takoyaki. What’s interesting about these egg-based snacks is that extrapolation of the usual omelettes by adding different types of ingredients such as leek, pork and cabbage. And of course, it won’t be complete without the sourish/salty caramel-like sauce that binds all the flavours into one. Much like what mayonnaise does to burgers, sans the milky flavour.

4) I take 30 shots of each dish that’s being served, much to friends' delight.

Asparagus Nikumaki (bacon wrapped asparagus) - S$5.80

Simply grilled perhaps with just a dash of salt (or none), there’s still something about bacon and asparagus that makes them delicious as one. Those complementing flavours of the savoury bacon and the sweet asparagus, perhaps?. Grilling means a certain level of aroma (from the char) is expected and combined with a squeeze of lemon juice, it’s very attractive.

The highlight of Waraku’s version was the well-cooked texture.

5) I remind myself that I’m here to eat.

Temari Sushi - S$14.80

Temaris are balls of rice topped with fresh slices of sake, maguro and tako, among others. Besides being ergonomically designed to fit in one’s mouth at one go, there’s really not much difference between this and the usual sushi. Chicken rice balls come to mind.

Ergonomics should combine with economics in order to create the perfect temaris that are easy in the mouth and on the wallet as well. In other words, thicker slices of sake and maguro, please.

6) I see the light and I start to eat (friends are happy at this point).

Ton Pei Yaki (omelette With pork) - S$9.80

Okonomiyakis are usually stuffed with a healthy amount of cabbage, scallion, onion and meat. The crunchiness of the vegetables goes well with the smooth layer of fried egg. Coupled with the sauces and heat, the vegetables also offer a hint of sweetness and some moisture.

Omitting the vegetables, this was as basic as it could be. The pork slices were tasty nevertheless.

7) And eat more. And more. And more.

Yakisoba - S$12.80

Yaki means burn or roast or bake in Japanese. In other words, cook. The stir-fried soba retains its heat from the teppan and is prevented from burning with layering of the aluminum sheet.

Nothing can go wrong with a plate of fried noodles, be it soba or udon. The interesting part of this version is the usage of nori strips and bonito flakes as toppings for that extra flavour. Extra shine comes from the extra oil.

8) I drink more ocha, burp a bit to clear the esophagus and every tunnel along the way before chomping more food.

Wagyu Rib Eye Steak - S$16.80

Oh, say no more of this beautiful baby. Like foie gras, the name itself is a testament of everything delicious. There are many ways of eating this piece of beauty and one of the best is of course, by searing it, followed by a good bake in the oven.

The slices were moist, tasty and rather soft, complete with fried slices of garlic. Simply wonderful. I doubt it was baked though, because it is afterall, teppanyaki that we are talking about here.

9) I leave the desserts to the sweeties as I plan for another wagyu steak.

Maccha Monaka - S$3.80

You start with a hot cup of ocha and you end with a sweet, cold taste of match. How ideal is that? Too bad for the rather generic matcha ice cream though. Expecting a denser version, it came rather hard for an ice cream. Maybe it was taken right out of the freezer? The shell was crispy.

10) I like to look around, hoping to spot Japanese diners because it assures me of the food quality.

Ok, so I lied about the meme. No one sent me this (no that it exists in the first place). It was just something I thought of while writing this post and surfing the internet at the same time.

One thing’s for real though. This is a typical Japanese restaurant.

51, Cuppage Road
Starhub Centre
Tel: (+65) 67211123

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tell-A-Tale (Part 29): The World According To Samsa

Imagine friends calling you up to say that they just lost their jobs. As much as you want to console them with the nicest things there are like "come, let's go for a good bak chor mee" or "drinks on me tonight", there's something damn intimidating about the whole situation. I guess millions of people out there feel the same way as more and more companies downsize to save what's left of the crumbling economy pie. There's nothing much that you can do really, but to persevere and well, seek options.

I chanced upon samsa while reading about streetfood in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Assuming"stan"ly, it should be pretty huge in Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan as well. Similar to the Indian samosa or the Portugese chamuça, this usually tetrahedral snack consists of a layer of pastry filled with a variety of ingredients including minced mutton and potatoes. Not fried, a samsa is usually baked as it sticks to the side of a kiln, much like how naan is cooked. The dough has a glutinous texture (think bread) thanks to the addition of yeast. I have also read of doughs made of just flour and oil.

Not so much about the therapeutic effect of cooking and well, mostly of wanting to try out something new, I've decided to make some. And then, came the next question. What kind of feeling, I mean filling, should I use?

Close enough.

Here's what I did:

Double-boiled 7 slices of processed cheddar cheese. As the cheese melted, I heated the wok, added 5 tablespoons of oil, threw in 4 large onions (sliced) and stirred until softened. The thin strips of 150 grams of smoked back bacon and some sugar followed. Just as the edges browned, in came about RM1.50 of coarsely chopped spinach. I continued stirring until the spinach was sufficiently reduced before pouring in the molten cheese to be mixed with the onions/bacon/spinach combination. Freshly ground black pepper was added just before storage.

Next, I mixed 400 grams of plain flour, 1/2 tablespoon of dry instant yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar/salt each, 1/2 cup of canola oil and 1/2 cup of water. Kneaded the dough for about 15 minutes and left it to rest (covered) for 10 minutes. Preferences of shapes and sizes are very personal I think and feeling rather self-indulging that day, I attempted the tetrahedrons. After glazing the skin with beaten egg, the samsas baked in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes.

The bread was alright but still far from perfection, of course. Best eaten while still hot as the cheese is in its gooey state.

The samsa, to me, is one versatile snack that comes in many shapes and fillings. Sardine sambal, bacon rolls, herbed garlic butter, sun-dried tomatoes, char siew, I can go on and on.

As I share this thought I had while making the snack with you, I am also reminding myself that like samsa, life should be of versatility and flavours. Come good or bad times, keep trying new things for you may just find another flavour that satisfies you even more. Some filling of green fibres will do you good after the endless days of minced mutton.

Be positive and with a sprinkling of faith, you'll be on your way to a fluffier and more delicious samsa.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Peninsular Restaurant

Now I really have to agree that eating is an educational experience. The walls were covered with printed words of wisdom. In two languages at that! Not a bad idea if you ask me. Think of it as a reflection before, during and after a meal. Certainly makes the meal more meaningful, doesn't it?

Another revelation that dawned upon me recently was the difference in the dai chow scene. I remember those days of sambal belacan kangkung, sweet and sour pork and hotplate tofu. Order these dishes now and chances are you'll either be mistaken for someone who has lived abroad for a very long time or just simply a sentimental person. Ok, maybe not that serious lah. But yes, these days, we are blessed with the creative minds of dai chow cooks and dinners of dishes previously available solely at renowned restaurants (and at a fraction of their prices as well).

I should have taken more pictures of those words. Who knows if one of those phrases touches the cores of our icy cold urban hearts, right? But can you blame this helpless me when a boiling pot of fishhead beehoon bared itself in all its steamy, milky glory and accessorized with a good choice of flavourful ingredients like preserved vegetables, tomatoes and coriander? Or a sexy plate of crispy, salted egg yolks coated fried pork strips sitting invitingly across the table, waiting to be devoured by the hungriest of beasts? The pork looked so golden, it could have easily slotted itself into any Chinese New Year menu by changing its name to something like Golden Nuggets of Happiness or Drops of Fortune God’s Tears of Joy. Move along now, expensive hairy bushes of moss and dried oysters.

The day I heard about this dish called the Flying Fox of the Snow Mountain, I knew I had to try it. There’s something about the names of Chinese dishes that pushes you to the edge of your wildest fantasies. Imagine how funny it would have sounded if this was served in a French restaurant. Le renard de vol de la montagne de neige, anyone? Here, it is simply known as baked salted tilapia fish. Moisture was very much retained, despite the coating of salt. As for the taste, pretty bland. And that’s when the tangy, spicy chopped garlic and chilli condiment kicked in, giving it the much needed zing.

This is one piece of Mongolian meat (no pun intended) that I’ll remember for a long time. There was a nice smoky flavour to it and combined with a dash of pepper and crunchy onion slices, I thought it was delicious. Smooth (not the overly starched kind of smooth) pieces of pork as well. For some historical and cultural reasons, it reminded me of bulgogi.

Served last, the complimentary pickled pineapple slices were nice. When you get caught between the moon and New York City, you fall in love. But in the case of the pineapple, I can’t seem to decide if it was more of an appetizer or a dessert, so I just took the last piece of the Mongolian meat to fall in love.

We had more fun reading the prints than gossiping during dinner. Hey, that's another revelation as well. And am proud of it!

At a reasonable price (RM116 for a table of 6 adults), this is indeed a good peninsular.

Peninsular Restaurant
No. 2A, Jalan Bullion Mewah 8
Taman Bullion Mewah
68100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6012-692 4371 (Lily Tan)

Do click here for the map.