Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Seoul Kool

There is a reason why people choose to work in the city.

Even at 9.30 pm, we were still able to secure the Set Meal A (S$34 nett, two pax), which consisted of a soup and a rice dish. For the soup, it was Chicken With Ginseng. The crunchy, chopped leeks gave the soup a nice zing. Stuffed with ingredients like glutinous rice and herbs, the chicken was a substantial meal by itself. The Bibimbap with pork was tasty, thanks to the sweet and salty gochujang. More namul would have been appreciated, though. There were refillable, complimentary starters as well. I thought the lotus root slices soaked in orange juice were refreshing. The mashed potato salad was good too. And there was the ubiquitous kimchi, the Korean achar.

Add another S$6 for two desserts to complete the meal. We had the Obak Creme Brulee, a pumpkin puree topped with caramelized sugar and Kimchi Mousse, based with a vanilla sponge and sandwiched between two pieces of ginger macaron. The creme brulee was mediocre while the kimchi mousse was, well, of an acquired taste. I will stick to my Coke.

That's the joy of working in the city. There is always a something waiting for you, come day or night; good food to prepare you for the OTs, a swanky club to destress on Ladies' Night or simply, a new movie when the schedule permits. The only thing you will wish for is another twenty four hours to a day.

Seoul Kool
Icon Village #01-12
12 Gopeng Street
Singapore 078877
Tel: (+65) 6327 7761


Whether you are working in the city or miles away from civilisation (like myself), here's wishing you a fantastic long weekend.


Friday, April 24, 2009


To me, April is best remembered as the time for cherry blossom in Japan. Until today, the sights of streets lined with blooming sakuras in Osaka and Kyoto are still vividly pictured in my mind. And it is only complete with sake in hand. Japanese beers are good as well. Ah, those good old days of April’s snow.

So, let’s celebrate the beautiful season with a Japanese food post, shall we?

We were there on a Saturday night, Lyrical Lemongrass and I. After the heavy downpour earlier, it felt cooler than usual. At the not-so-late hours of the night, the wet streets of Solaris were surprisingly quiet, except for the Ole Ole Bali stretch. I would not have known the existence of this restaurant if not for Lemongrass. Why? Firstly, the location is rather obscure. Secondly, Solaris is, in every sense, far from this little Pluto of me. Believe me, we took quite a while to find it.

A young girl greeted us, as we checked out the menu. She was enthusiastically flipping the pages and at the same time, briefed us on some of the dishes on the menu. And she said there were specials as well. Specials? This, we have got to check out.

She led us into the elevator, which took us to first floor, where Akari was located. Come to think of it, the whole experience of meeting the young girl on a dark, chilly night was pretty interesting, wasn’t it? In the world of Haruki Murakami’s novels, she might be one of the messengers whom was tasked to lead us into a fourth dimension where anything is possible. We could have witnessed flocks of flying, talking black crows. Or be confined in the television tube of our own lives forever.

Well, Akari’s interior was rather surreal, actually. The music, mostly J-Pop.

Gyu Tataki Salad. This was one of the specials that night. Specials meant a less costly price tag. That night, it was RM18 for a plate of well-seared beef steak tossed with crispy greens and black vinegar.

Inaniwa Udon (RM23) is my favourite Japanese noodle as it is smoother and more refined than the usually thick udon, soba and ramen. Here, it was complemented with the ubiquitous ground radish, toasted sesame seeds, chopped scallion and soy sauce, which resulted in a good burst of flavours.

Ebi Mayo (RM20) tasted very much similar to the Chinese butter prawns. A special that night as well.

I have no freaking idea what Cyatapira means. Initially, images of arthropods crashed my mind. It must have been a katagana-ed word, I guess. Anyway, the Cyatapira Maki (RM25) was rather good as it was topped with pieces of unagi. Were those traces of avocado I saw beneath the layer of eel? They must have been, as they were green in colour. And if they really were, more would have been greatly appreciated. Nothing beats the substantial creaminess of avocado to go with one’s maki.

Mentaiko Tofu (RM10) was another special that night. Mentaiko goes well with everything bland (relatively) as it is briny and aromatic. Here, it was paired with soya sauce, bonito flakes and tofu for a taste of simple deliciousness.

They mentioned the use of cili padi in the Akari Maki (RM24), if I recall correctly. It was that very ingredient that piqued our curiosity. Then, it came as a salmon rice roll with, disappointingly, not the faintest hint of heat. At that point, I do not think the sake had taken effect on us just yet. Hmmm.....

The Cha-Soba (RM21) came with a quail egg. That was assuring for it would definitely add smoothness and a raw, rich taste to the soy sauce dip. Firm and slithery, it was nice.

A J-restaurant with J-prices and J-service. A nice place to chill out as well.

Today marks the beginning of the last weekend of April. By now, the cherry blossoms should be making their way to the northern parts of Japan. Most of the ones at central Honshu must have perished, and it will take another twelve months before they appear again.

As for me, I will always cherish those hanami days. Let me end this post with a line from the song called Pergi (go in Malay) from Talentime.

Biarlah kenangan berbunga di ranting usia.

(Loosely translated as: Let memories blossom on the twigs of age).

Kimochi neh?

Akari Japanese Kitchen Bar
19-1, Jalan Solaris 4
Solaris Mont’ Kiara
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 6203 6885

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Turning into Dunlop Street from Jalan Besar, the atmosphere took a dip from the bustling main road to a relatively calm one-way street. That night, at the early hour of ten, we were accompanied by the sounds of prayers transmitted from the historic Masjid Abdul Gaffoor. Donned in majestic yellow and green, the mosque was a sight to behold. The magnitude of it might not be startling but the features were everything beautiful. A visit during daytime is a must, I promised myself.

Along the way, there were backpacker lodges and budget hotels with their bright, colourful signboards. And we found a good number of Indian restaurants, serving dishes of different origins; South, North and Indian Muslim. I might have just found my shangri-la.

We were already veering towards the heart of Little India. I must admit that I was slightly lost in the energetic, amplified beats of Indian music blaring from the shops and the newfound excitement for the eateries that surrounded me.

And then, there was Zsofis.

The vibe was right that night, the moment I heard Feist’s One Evening.

And Coldplay’s God Put A Smile Upon Your Face.

The bar was gradually filled with patrons as the hours went on. Tourists, locals and us; all in search of a good time on a Saturday night. We started off with beers. I like mine dark and malty. Erdinger Dunkel and Guiness Stout seemed like good choices. Hoegaarden offered the forbidden fruit, De Verboden Vrucht (Le Fruit Defendu) which came with, yes, a potent, fruity flavour. The tequila and vodka shots followed. And the greeting of a dear old friend, the long island tea.

Each drink came with a free tapas serving. Towards the end of the night, we had sampled about seven or eight of them. Sweet and spicy Spanish salami slices, fiery hot chilli buffalo wings, crispy Calamares Rebozados (deep-fried squid rings), rich Huevos Rellenos con Alcaparras (halved eggs stuffed with cream, capers and topped with caviar), savoury Brochetas de Esparragos y Bacon (bacon wrapped asparagus) and tasty Croquetas de Queso con Jamon (potato fritters with ham and cheese), among others.

They said that one should not drink on an empty stomach. I absolutely agree, especially when the tapas are delicious.

I would love to meet Zsofis, the Spanish lass whom had inspired the opening of this tapas bar. She must have been a lover of good music and good food. I am almost certain that she is as bubbly and interesting as the owner, Janice.

From our strategic seats, we were able to observe the activities that were taking place in the bar. And yet, all I could do was immerse in the cool selection of music that crossed between pop, indie and fun. None of that torchy stuff to fire up the already hot, transition days to the months of dry spell ahead.

I wanted to leave a word or two on the blackboard before calling it a night but gave up in the end, for the crapulous state of mine did not permit the flow of a good line to compliment the awesome tapas bar they called Zsofis.


68 Dunlop Street
Singapore 209396
Tel: (+65) 6297 5875
Mobile: (+65) 84284284

Friday, April 17, 2009


Fried Hokkien Noodles (RM26.80)

Deep-fried Yam Puff (RM6.80)

Siu Mai (RM7.80)

Vietnamese Egg Roll (RM8.80)

Deep-fried Glutinous Dumpling (RM6.80)

BBQ Pork Puff (RM15.60)

Pu Er Tea (RM15.20 for 3)

The reflective façade, the contemporary oriental interior, the Delicious food; it was all about quiet, dark sublimity. Reunion has definitely brought another dimension to dim sums; refinement. There was the impeccable BBQ Pork Puff glazed to shiny, syrupy goodness and the inclusion of slices of century egg and ginger in the Vietnamese Roll. The batter of the deep-fried dishes was crisply light and aromatic. Every made-to-order (I believe) serving of dim sum was well-detailed with the essentials (note the Chives Dumpling), hence the rich flavours. Lard galore in the plate of Hokkien Mee, their signature dish. Nothing can go wrong when you combine the aroma and smoothness of molten lard with fresh, salty chilli paste, strands of egg noodle and sweet, dark soy sauce. It was definitely above average, almost on the verge of championing the Hokkien Mee of 2009 (for me) but the lack of wok hei and sweet taste of fried shallot pulled it down a notch. Nevertheless, it was still very much wonderful. Prices are equivalent to those of hotels and fine-dines. But to indulge in a weekend of holy lardness and refined dim sum is a getaway we should offer ourselves, once in awhile.

2nd floor
Bangsar Village 2
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 22873770

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tell-A-Tale (Part 35): Hot, Hot FriedChillies’ AFA, Pannaz and Om.

Pannaz was buzzing with journalists, guests, awards recipients and food enthusiasts when Lyrical Lemongrass and I arrived. Looking at the meticulous coordination; from the elegant decorative pieces to the menu cards to the goodie bags to the projector, I knew it was going to be a night to remember.

It was FriedChillies’s first Annual Foodster’s Awards where foodies get to vote for their favourite local stalls and restaurants of different food categories. It was an appreciation towards the existence of tastes that are close to us and the people behind these delicious, local fares. And that, to me, is already a celebration itself. I mean, how often do we see an awards party of this magnitude and grandeur that acknowledges the hours of hardwork put in by the cooks just to earn your few ringgits (or lesser, even) from, say a bowl of appetizing assam laksa? To me, they are undoubtedly the unsung heroes of the city’s foodscape.

The programs for the night included an impressive opening speech by Adly (FriedChillies’ CEO) which almost had me dashing to Nam Chuan for a bowl of Sarawak laksa, creative video presentations, a groovy acoustic performance by SlowJaxx and of course, a taste of Pannaz.

There were hors d'oeuvres (including an interesting duet of watermelon and sun-dried tomatoes), bowls of full-bodied mushroom soup, mains (I had a fantastic piece of lamb with brown sauce) and desserts consisted of sweet bread-alike, ice cream and chocolate cake.

Here is the list of winners with their respective addresses and GPS coordinates (taken from FriedChillies’ website):

For Best Roti Canai :Raju Restaurant
No. 27, Jalan Cantik, Petaling Jaya
N 03.10159 E101.65385

For Best Assam Laksa : O & S Laksa
39, Jalan 20/14, Paramount Gardens Petaling Jaya
N 3.10783 E101.62499

For Best Banana Leaf Rice : Kanna Curry House
No. 29 Jalan 17/45, Petaling Jaya
N 3.11974 E101.62978

For Best Chicken Rice :Hainanese Chicken Rice
73, Jln. SS22/23, Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya
N 3.12595 E101.61618

For Best Crabs : Fatty Crab
No 2, Jln SS 24/13 , Taman Megah, Petaling Jaya
N 3.11482 E101.61254

For Best Char Koay Teow : Aunty Gemok
Restoran Jamal Mohamed No. 24, Jalan SS5A/9 Petaling Jaya
N 3.09526 E101.60546

For Best Satay : Satay Samuri Taman Melawati
Jalan Melati Utama 4, Melati Utama, Setapak
N 3.13505 E101.62370

For Best Nasi Lemak : Village Park
5, Jalan SS21/37, Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya
N 3.13774 E101.62318

For Best Street Burger : Burger OM
In Front of 7-11, Off Lorong Kolam Air Lama, Ampang
N 3.16063 E101.78560

For Best Kopitiam : Yut Kee Coffeeshop
35, Jalan Dang Wangi, Kuala Lumpur
N 3.15705 E101.70001

Going through the winner’s list, I realized that I have only tried the satay. Yes, I have committed a huge food crime. Kuala Lumpur’s supreme foodcourt should imprison me for life! I should be barred from entering the city! The winners should throw rotten eggs at me!

Okay, food dramas aside, something interesting did happen.

“Let’s have a burger crawl tonight,” said the excited Boolicious, as we watched the video of the making of a piece of culinary art by OM Burger (winner of the best street burger).

"Very good idea lah!"

It was somewhere before midnight when we reached OM Burger. Thanks to Riz (FriedChillies’ creative director), we managed to get there within approximately twenty minutes as opposed to days if we were unguided.

We had company that night. Lots of it, to be precise. They were the ancient meteorologists. And by their staggering number, a heavy downpour was to be expected later that night.

The stall was unlit. This was to prevent the flying ants from fluttering anywhere near the food. But the convenient store behind it was not so lucky. The ants had already built a kingdom in it. Many died along the way, in search of light and warmth. If I may say, the flying ants added to the whole local makan experience.

They called it the Sloppy Burger. Despite the name, it was everything flavourful and fun. Take a bite to understand that the egg wrapping the piece of meat is cooked to moist perfection while the molten cheddar and sauces add to the euphoric burst of flavours. Sloppy? I call this modern art.

Too bad the crawl came to an unexpectedly early end as the second stop (burger with apple slices!) was closed that day. Nevertheless, we all went home happy and full.

Today, I looked at my calendar and realised that the last few days of Week 15 were spent celebrating all things local. I managed to catch the incredible Talentime, had a fantastic plate of fatty char siew at a wet market, went for an amazing awards party honouring local food (thank you, FriedChillies!) followed by a superb street burger and was caught in the jam from Sungai Wang all the way to Jalan Tun Razak (and beyond).

Definitely a cool weekend to remember.


Do check out FriedChillies’ excellent website here.

Lyrical Lemongrass wrote about the event here.

Click here for Cumi & Ciki’s take.

More details on Pannaz the restaurant here.

Information on Talentime, the local movie directed by the awesome Yasmin Ahmad can be found here.

There's a song called Pergi from Talentime which I thought was fantastic. Click here for a listen.

And here is the English version, sung by Pete Teo.

Coming soon:

Posts from Kenny Mah, Boolicious and thenomadGourmand.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ken Noodle House

Like flatulence, the weather is still as unpredictable as two months ago when I had dinner with Keropokman and his brother at Noodle House Ken (the name must have been translated directly from Japanese). On that day, we were supposed to meet up with other bloggers for dinner but the plan was cancelled, no thanks to the treacherous rain. Since I had a good few hours to go before leaving for KL, I decided to brave the rain and met up with Keropokman whom was stuck in the jam for more than an hour, if I recall correctly. His brother and I reached much earlier as we were already in town. His text message to his brother (whom I have not met before) was clear.

Look for the Chinese Tok Janggut.

Or something like that.

The noodle house reminded me of those smoky, micro eateries in Japan where salarymen hang out after a day’s work. There will be beers, newspapers, magazines, J-tapas, tobacco and some enkas. No one smoked here though.

This has got to be one of the most famous ramen shops in Singapore. I’ve read some really good things about the ramen here and on that rather cold day, I thought a bowl of steaming hot broth and delicious Japanese noodles would be great.

Miso Ramen (S$12)

Kimuchi Ramen (S$12)

Hiyashi Chuka or Cold Noodle (S$12)

Char Siew (S$5)

Gyoza (S$5)

I like my ramen curly and smooth. And the broth has got to be high on salt and fat. And if one can confuse me with the magical touch of MSG, that’s fine too (because we can start to order Japanese beer!). Ken’s Miso Ramen to me, was alright. The miso broth was tasty but I would have preferred a much denser version. I tried a spoonful of the Kimuchi soup. It was spicily good and slightly sourish. As for the cold noodle, the sesame sauce was aromatic but again, too mild for me. The almost lean char siew came slightly tough but the sweet teriyaki-like dressing and crunchy leeks were good complements. The gyoza got my vote for its taste. Like Chinese dumplings, a slight addition of chopped onion or scallion or chives really gives it an edge.

Ken’s not too bad, in my humble opinion. But to compare it with the rest of the ramens I’ve tried here, Miharu still tops. Oh, and the new Yoshimaru’s tonkotsu ramen is not far behind either. I shall blog about that in the near future!

Ah, a bowl of steaming hot soup noodle on a cold, rainy day...

Noodle House Ken
150 Orchard Road
Orchard Plaza
Tel: (+65) 6235-5540

Check out Keropokman’s review here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Nasi Lemak @ CT Roses

Isn’t it a wonder how we find ourselves trying to read at the strangest of places? But when time is at your own disposal, you often find yourself letting go of the world around you and well, just fall into a deep sleep instead. It comes quite naturally these days, given our self-inflicted hectic lifestyles. Reading will be the last thing on your mind. Well, my mind, at least. Now, I can only afford to read on those insomniac nights, when everything else (including songs from System Of A Down) fails to warp me into dreamland.

There came a chilling Saturday night when all we wanted was a solid, affordable supper before crawling back to our respective beds to die and be resurrected at eleven or twelve in the afternoon the next day. Now that, my friends, is THE fantasy weekend.

So there we were, drowned by a rambunctious crowd, mostly soccer fans who came much earlier to watch the match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield. Or was it Newcastle United and Everton?

Outside, the street was dark and quiet. The neon lights that formed the name of the restaurant were unlit. Perhaps the only trail that could lead one to the entrance was the impressive number of cars parked coherently along Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman. Unless you are a local, one would not have figured that this semi-roofed enclosure offers a good, or some might say the best nasi lemak in Kampung Baru.

I vaguely remembered this place being located opposite Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa. Their fading yellow signboard had never failed to distract me from my conversations as we strolled along Jalan Raja Muda Musa. That night, as we passed by the same place, I realised that it has been replaced by a convenience stall. My buddies said that it was never in this part of Kampung Baru to begin with. So, were they wrong or has the lack of sleep added to the seriousness of my hallucinations?

Back at CT Roses, the queue to choose the dishes was rather long. It's self-service here. A quick five minutes later, our trays were filled with a few packets of nasi lemak and some side dishes to go with it. The selection of side dishes offered was a colourful blend of red rendangs, green vegetables, turmeric-coloured lemak dishes and golden brown deep-fries. Absolutely appetising.

We loved the beef rendang here, which was surprising as the appearance certainly didn't do it justice. The bolognaise sauce resemblance was not very convincing but I changed my mind instantly as I took a bite. The meat was very soft and flaky. The caramelised gravy was a flavourful mixture of lemongrass, turmeric and chillies; the fundamentals of a rendang. Simple and most delicious.

The paru (cow's lungs) here was very well done too. Tender and slightly smoky, it definitely went well with the nasi lemak.

Which brings us to the compulsory highlight (compulsory because I loved the rendang more), CT Roses' nasi lemak. What makes a good nasi lemak? To me, it's the sambal. And I like mine salty, spicy and slightly sour (if that is possible). It has to come with lots of onions for that sweetness and crunch. Their version was slightly sweet and spicy. Not too bad, honestly. The gone cold rice was still fluffy of course, thanks to the coconut milk. To me, it was a good nasi lemak that didn't go beyond average.

And we ended with some pucuk paku goreng which was fantastic. I enjoyed the sweetness of the leaves very much. Oh, the fibres were good help too! Again, simplicity at its best.

As we sipped our cups of tea, we realised how close we were to the Twin Towers. And that view of the towers, was our dessert before calling it a night.

I had a really good sleep that night.

Nasi Lemak CT Roses
Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman
Kampung Baru
Kuala Lumpur

Check out Boolicious' review here.