It’s good to see that people in Klang Valley are embracing the cafe culture, which is something I really miss about Melbourne. I had a latte habit for many years and had to stop because the coffee here was simply not up to scratch. But fret not, because now that the competition is so fierce, it’s only going to get better. Well, introducing Mono Coffee, a third wave coffee shop that is designed to serve artisan and creative cooking. Freshly landed in Publika just a month ago, Mono Coffee has a vision to create a comfortable place for coffee lovers to stop by and enjoy a cuppa.
We were fortunate enough to be invited to celebrate the Grand Opening and we also got a little taste of what they had to offer. It was a casual affair, and the event kicked off with a demonstration that included an introduction session to the beans they use. Some of the guests also got to try making their own latte art.
Of course, what’s a Grand opening without a traditional ribbon cutting ceremony? Founder & Group CEO Matthew Chong did the honour, while all of us cheered on.
What’s a visit to a coffee place without trying their coffee right? Risking staying up all night (usually I only do caffeine beverages during the day), I ordered a flat white.
Their own house-blend named “Monian” is mainly from a house blend of 3 prestigious kinds of green coffee beans: Brazil Yellow Bourbon, Guatemala Antigua and Sumatra Lintong. I’m not coffee connoisseur and can’t tell you the tasting notes off my hand but I give you an idea: Ahhh! The familiar taste of my past came lurking back *shivers* (I guess I can get used to this again).
But what really sealed the deal would be the food of course. The styles of food here are veered toward Western cafe food with a bit of creative touch. You’ll find common breakfast item given a Mono twist, thanks to the innovative Kitchen team.
So here are some of the dishes that were served during the evening:
Love the pretty colours of the dish and the clean elegant presentation. Essentially a Chicken and Beans salad; it’s dressed simply (love the citrus note) but seasoned well. I love the salty bursts of the feta cheese, and good to have the textural contrast for a little bit of fun factor too.
The Beef and Hash Benedicts looked tempting with corned beef, grated potato, poached egg, pea sprout and spiced hollandaise sauce; though we didn’t actually get to try this dish (definitely during my next visit).
The “Stack it” consists of pancakes with beef bacon, cherry tomatoes, maple syrup and a peanut butter based sauce. The combination of sweet and savoury is very appealing indeed.
Pasta Alla Mono caters for the vegetarians, with al dente pasta seasoned liberally with extra virgin olive oil, topped with grilled vegetables, a generous sprinkling of arugula, sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinegar. It’s pleasant enough to eat, although some might find it on the oily side.
Thank you Mono Coffee for the invitation, looking forward to a nice brunch session soon!
I have fond memories of The Westin as we’ve performed there a few times, but this was the first time I ever dined properly at one of their award winning restaurants, Prego. Prego serves authentic Italian food, and recently acquired a new Chef. Chef Vincenzo Sirna literally just arrived on our soil couple of weeks ago and so far, we like what he has to offer.
It’s not often I get to indulge in a Sunday Bubbly Brunch as I usually prefer to lie in bed until late after few nights of gigs. But with this spread I would have been kicking myself if I had missed this. Bubbalicious has always been widely popular and this year it’s back better and bubblier! First and foremost, let’s start with some free-flow Moet & Chandon:
The buffet is divided into few sections: antipastos & salads, Seafood counter, Cheese counter, main courses located outside, and of course dessert counter. The Chefs will also deliver freshly baked wood fired pizzas, handmade Italian Pastas and Risottos to the table through out the brunch. You are going to be bombarded with lots of food pictures, so I shall keep my words short and sweet. First the antipastos and salads (at least the memorable ones because there are way too many of them):
You see even as a buffet spread, good quality ingredients are used. I love the extra creamy buffalo mozzarella with the sweet tangy tomato.
As I love my raw beef, this gets a big thumbs up.
Great for the non-meat eaters.
Like a upgraded version of potato salad with an ocean’s touch. I had some extra servings.
The Chicken pieces were surprisingly tender and I love the simplicity of this.
My favourite vegetable gets the royal treatment with some herbs, breadcrumbs and cheese. So good!
And Frank went nuts with these beets (get it?).
Almost too pretty to eat, but I ate one anyway.
I almost squealed in delight seeing this. Give me liver!
And if you like cured meat, there are plenty choices.
Served with somem shaved galia and cantaloupe melon if you like the sweet and savoury pairing.
My happiness on a plate.
The highlight for me would be the Smoked Whole Salmon.
Intimidating looking it might be, but be rewarded with ultra tender flesh and its irresistible natural sweetness. I had A LOT of extras, couldn’t help it.
My second favourite would of course be the fresh seafood on offer.
And Frank dived straight into the Cheese counter.
I mean, look at that Fontina!
Of course even as a mild lactose intolerant person I had to try a bit and this has such robust flavours, hits you straight in the face. Great stuff.
Lots of people were queueing up for this and the chef busied himself wrapping the eggs in cling form and poaching them.
Let me tell you I didn’t only have 4 oysters. No wonder I had a food coma after.
If you spot some Risotto coming your way, do not miss out.
Hands down one of the best risottos I’ve had in KL (Favola is similar in standards), so creamy, rich and unapologetically cloying (this time in a good way), made better with truffle oil. I had seconds. Sorry not sorry. Umei very kindly pointed out that this HAS carbs, but such good carbs are forgiven in my diet.
There are a few types of Pizzas available including a couple of meatless varieties, but we requested for a meaty one, so this gorgeous thing arrived on our table tantalizing all our taste buds. It is delicious indeed with perfect crispy crust. Hmm gluten you say? Cheat day lah! My eczema can come back for one day for all I care.
Outside, there is a grill section with a whole lamb, sausages, rib eye steaks, tiger prawns; and main courses like Duck Confit (which is unusual for a buffet), Grilled vegetables, Salmon etc. I was so full I didn’t even manage any of them except for a small bite of duck confit. And that was pretty decent too.
Last but not least, if you still have any space in your stomach, either reserve it for the alcohol or enjoy some desserts prepared by Pastry Chef Michelle Low. She might as well be Italian because her tiramisu and cannoli is out of this world.
If you love Italian food, I’ll say you’ll be very happy with the selections. Otherwise, there’s always free flow Moët and Chandon, that in itself is worth the price tag. Oh speaking of price tag, the Food & Champagne package goes for RM338.00++/person, and includes free flow of Moët and Chandon champagne, red wine, white wine, draught beer, soft drinks, chilled juices. If you prefer to just go for some wine or beer, it’s priced at RM276++/person. Food alone, it’s RM148++/Person.
The dining scene in KL has changed so much over the 3 years I’ve been here. I remember when I first arrived I was complaining about the lack of decent brunch spots, but over the past year or so the concept of “all-day-breakfast” has been lovingly embraced by the F&B industry and consumers. Truly, there’s nothing better than sleeping in past noon (although this is my regular sleeping pattern anyway) and then slowly drag yourself to a nice cafe and indulge in egg dishes, accompanied by caffeine juice of your choice.
So when Ante Kitchen & Bar introduced their Brunch menu (and when I saw the pictures on Cheng Yi’s facebook) I told myself I must not procrastinate anymore and check this much talked-about dining spot out. An invitation via Chris came at the perfect time too and all week I was thinking about that deep-fried poached egg (you’ll see it later). Saturday is technically still my “work” day, but that didn’t stop me from getting a piece of bacon action with my fellow foodies.
The interior of Ante Kitchen & Bar is fairly minimalist with that industrial look. There wasn’t a lot of natural light the way we visited, maybe owing to the weather and the fact that their had their blinds down. Luckily for me I’m surrounded by people who regularly brings LED light for reviews, so my photos are saved. Alright, let’s get started with the food, for there are A LOT of dishes to cover.
The salads were brought to our table first. First, the Caesar Salad; pretty standard affair with lettuce, croutons, egg, parmesan, bacon bits finished with house-made Caesar dressing. I actually have a soft spot for Caesar Salad because of… well, bacon. And this was a pretty decent version with a rich dressing.
The Garden duck salad is a popular dish with generous serving of smoked duck slices accompanied by cherry tomatoes, lettuce, chopped cashews and interestingly grilled marinated watermelon. It’s topped with a brandy orange dressing to freshen everything up. I’d gladly eat this again.
Chicken nuggets are common enough but have you ever had Pork Nuggets? Surprisingly a moreish treat as the meat is moist and flavoursome.
Next, the dish I’ve been lusting for: Deep Fried Soft Poached Egg. Just look at this beauty.
The egg has been gently poached, delicately breaded, deep fried till golden, then perched on top of several slices of bacon and roasted onions on buttered English muffin, served with Hollandaise sauce on the side. It’s truly a sight to behold. All of us couldn’t wait to get a shot of the Yolkporn.
To be honest, I would prefer them to use higher quality eggs (pale yellow yolks can be a put off at times) but in fairness this dish is well executed. I found the Hollandaise to be decent, although considering there’s already bacon in the dish, I can do without the extra calories too. I’m happy enough with the contrasting texture of the breaded exterior and the soft melting egg white.
Moving right along, we have the Baked Eggs in Cocotte, another of my favourite brunch items. Here the eggs are baked along with a tangy stew of spiced tomato puree, chorizo sausages, and parmesan cheese. One taste and you get that intense smokiness from the sausages. The egg yolks were a little over done because we took time taking photos, but I was happily dipping the toasted baguette into the tomato mixture.
The Croque Madame was clearly the crowd favourite. Thickly sliced milk toast stuffed with bacon, topped with wine-infused cheese, then with a egg baked into the middle. Sinful, rich to the point of cloying, almost. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Those with a hearty appetite can opt for the English Big Breakfast, consisting of baked eggs, bratwurst sausage, bacon, sautéed button mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, baked beans and milk toast. I didn’t get to try this so can’t really comment.
What I did try though, was the Gnocchi Napoli, which at the moment looks like the only vegetarian dish on the brunch menu. At least I know I can bring Frank over next time. The Gnocchi are not shaped like the traditional form; rather, they look like the Hakka dish “Abacus Seeds”. They have been boiled to perfection then topped with a rich tomato sauce enriched with a bit of cream, parmesan cheese and rocket. The texture of the Potato dumplings are perfect, and I love the piquancy in the tomato sauce.
The Rosti and Bratwurst was another dish I missed out, simply because I wanted to reserve some space for the pastas.
Speaking of pastas, check out The Real Carbonara. If you don’t like creamy dishes, this is definitely not for you. But Carbonara lovers rejoice! This has to be one of the best version I’ve tried in KL. It comes with generous serving of streaky bacon, mushrooms, a super rich cream sauce, then topped with more crispy bacon bits, parmesan and parsley. It’s so deliciously rich I don’t think I can polish a whole portion on my own without going into a food coma.
Or you can go for a lighter but no less tasty Caramelised Garlic Olio, which comes with Streaky pork bacon, button mushrooms sautéed in olive oil and a dash of white wine, garnished with crunchy caramelised garlic.
Sandwich lovers should give The Ultimate Pork Belly Sandwich a go. The serving is huge, I shall warn you beforehand, and the filling is absolutely decadent with tender pork belly, crunchy pork ear confit, tomato salsa and rocket (they really love their rocket, don’t they). This is served with a salad salad and fries as well.
I’m a fan of offal, so the confit of pork ears doesn’t induce any panic in me. It has a fascinating texture, a bit gelatinous, a bit crispy (when you get the cartilage), perfectly fried. But I have to say because it’s deep fried, it’s a little richer than what you might expect. Perfect beer food though.
Just when we thought we can finally stop eating (occupational hazard, I tell you), we were told the desserts were coming! *Gasp* Even though I’m not the type with second stomach for dessert, I had to oblige so I can report to you… right? 😉
Bread & Butter Pudding here is executed well, with slightly crispy edges and soft custardy centre, a pleasant cinnamon scent, and topped with a generous scoop of ice-cream. Comforting dessert for sure.
But what really stood out was the humble Apple Crumble, with deliciously golden crumble, soft cooked chopped apples and also just enough cinnamon hit. The serving is huge though so be sure to share this with someone.
So there you go! I’m glad that a pig out session (quite literally too) doesn’t happen that often otherwise I would probably be a few dress sizes bigger now. Thank you Nigel for the invitation and we are definitely coming back for more (this time just one dish each, haha).
The Brunch Menu is available everyday from 11am to 4pm.
Ante Kitchen and Bar
Solaris Dutamas 1
Jalan Dutamas 1,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Phone:03-6206 3364 (Reservation is encouraged)
Hours: Open daily 7:00 – 10:30 pm
So the story began when I got a shock stepping on a weighing scale in my Hong Kong hotel room. I won’t tell you what it was, but safe to say it’s the highest since 2005. But of course I have already noticed that most of my dresses are getting too tight for the last couple of months. The reason: I have not been watching my diet and have definitely been eating out too much.
I have also been suffering eczema for half my life, but the latest flare up on my right ring finger has been there for almost 6 months with vigilant corticosteroids use. To the point that I have to consciously hide the finger whenever a photo is taken. My nail bed is also affected as a result. I have read about the possibility of gluten and dairy causing allergies symptoms such as eczema, and this motivated me to research the Paleo diet (also called a Primal Diet). There are people who swear by the diet, not only for weight loss reason, but also for a myriad of health benefits.
So what is Paleo diet (Paleolithic Diet), you might ask. Well back in the caveman days, us homo sapiens lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and generally ate meat, seafood, vegetables, nuts and fruits. The agriculture revolution has totally changed the way we eat and we now find grains everywhere: bread, noodles, pasta, rice, cereals, etc etc. It is believed that many people are still gluten intolerant as grains are actually ‘new’ to our diet. Gluten intolerance can manifest itself in many ways, varying in severity. Animals back in the days were not domesticated, so the cavemen/cavewomen did not consume dairy regularly. Refined sugars and processed food were definitely not part of our ancestral diet.
As for legumes; well it’s a little more complicated, but basically they contains Phytic acid that prevent us from absorbing the nutrients from our food (like grains and pseudograins). They also contain a type of carbohydrate called galaco-ligosaccharides that can cause unpleasant digestive problems for some people, especially people who already have IBS or similar digestive problems (another tick for me as I suffer from IBS sometimes).
All grains (rice, noodles, bread, pasta, corn etc etc)
Legumes (beans, peas, etc. Note that this also include peanuts and soy)
Dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt)
Refined sugar (Honey is allowed in small amount)
Potatoes (but sweet potato is ok)
Refined vegetable oil
Basically, a typical Paleo meal consists of protein (eggs, meat, fish etc) with plenty of vegetables. Nuts should be occasional snacks. There’s absolutely no need to starve myself, which is great. I’ve had fun coming up with tasty paleo dishes and most of them are pretty straightforward and simple. Today, I had this frittata for lunch.
Frittata is perfect for days when you want a quick and nutritious meal but too lazy to go out for groceries. You can use pretty much any vegetables in your fridge. You can even add bacon (yes bacon is allowed on Paleo diet, rejoice!), or salmon, to bulk up the protein content. Today, I had mushrooms, zucchini and capsicum in my frittata. I have also made it with pumpkin, eggplant, leeks, spinach and cherry tomatoes. As for the cooking time? It’s no more than 20 minutes!
Mushrooms, Zucchini and Capsicum Frittata
5-6 Mushrooms (I used button mushrooms, you can use any type), sliced
Half zucchini, grated (or roughly chopped). Squeeze out the liquid if you grate it
Half Red capsicum, roughly chopped
1 clove of Garlic, minced
1 quarter of Onion, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of Paprika
Pinch of Cumin
Salad leaves to garnish
Wedge of lemon
Heat olive oil and teaspoon of butter in pan and first saute the onion until translucent. Add mushrooms, capsicum and minced garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add spices, followed by zucchini.
Preheat the oven to 180C, top heat only.
Meanwhile beat 2 eggs together and season with salt and pepper. When the vegetables are ready, transfer to a small cast iron pan (you can also use a large ramekin or round baking dish), return to heat and pour over the egg. Distribute the vegetables evenly and cook for about 1 minute or 2 until the bottom of the frittata has set.
Put the frittata into the oven and grill for 5-8 minutes until the top is slightly golden brown. Let cool slightly, garnish with salad leaves and squeeze the lemon juice over the leaves.
Simple technique, simple ingredients, yet the result is delicious and nourishing. Try this at home if you feel like pampering your body.
Paleo diet doesn’t have to be boring, that’s for sure. I aim to do this for at least a month. I can tell you that after just 3 days, my finger has already started to heal. It’s now looking almost normal again. Should have tried this ages ago!
More recipes to come and feel free to suggest dishes for me to cook. It’s going to be fun selecting things to eat whenever I’m out dining, hehe.
Celestial Court has been voted the Best Chinese food in Klang Valley more than once, and it’s really not surprising at all. It’s even more well-known for its offering of creative Dim Sum. Chef Ken Liew, described as person with an inquisitive mind, always eager to learn new things and thus benefiting all diners visiting Celestial Court. Best thing yet, he makes no compromise when it comes to fresh ingredients (especially seafood), so the quality of dim sum is guaranteed.
Well, here’s a piece of good news for Dim Sum lovers: Celestial Court now offers an “All-You-Can-Eat Dim Sum” special available until the end of the year. With over 70 dishes, you can literally eat til you drop. The gracious Shirley from Sheraton Hotel extended an invite for me to join a bunch of foodies for dim sum last Sunday. Having heard raving reviews about Celestial Court, of course I couldn’t say no. Hado say I was a little naughty because I was still recovering from my bronchitis, but a little bit of soup should help prep my throat for the abuse er…eating.
Indeed, we started our meal with a comforting bowl of Double Boiled Chicken Soup. The herbs kept well in the background and my soul felt instantly nourished. Cordycep flowers are used in the soup which gives a delicate flavour, the medicinal benefits include immunity boosting and kidney strengthening properties.
You can tell that Chef Ken takes his craft seriously, down to the little details in presentation. If I had a bigger stomach I would have gone for second or even third serving of this gorgeous dumpling with chili oil. I love the slight kick and the tang complementing the soft dumpling.
This is yet another pretty little dish with my favourite food colour. Perfectly thin skin with juicy, fresh prawns. The coriander brought a lovely herbaceous note. No extra chili sauce or soy sauce needed.
Squid ink may be overused of late but here it’s definitely appropriate. The star of the show should be that giant piece of whole scallop, but the mini abalone brought lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ too.
I had once doubted pork free dim sum, but Celestial Court has proved me wrong. Even the Chicken Siew Mai tasted pretty good. I suspect the presence of fresh seafood provided plenty of umami flavours and contributed to the slightly chewy texture.
Serving deep fried wanton with fruit salad is pretty creative. Although the ‘skin’ was a little difficult to bite in due to the thickness.
I’m a sucker for shanghai soup dumpling and this version comes with a small bowl of soup, the more the merrier right? Love the delicate skin and the slurp-worthy chicken broth. But the filling wasn’t too memorable for me, perhaps I was started to get really stuffed by that point.
This is another crafty dish with explosion of flavours. It’s not often I come across any Chinese dim sum dish using thousand island dressing, but it worked quite well with the crispy exterior and the delicious squid mousse.
I was surprised to taste cheese when I bit into this. Another fusion dish done right and it was strangely addictive. I enjoyed the crispy bean curd skin too.
The “All You Can Eat” menu also includes other mouth-watering a la carte delights, prepared by Chef Vincent Loo. Here are more prawns, fried to perfection and coated with mayo, sesame and nutmeg. Sweet, savoury and creamy, a rather unique combination. Would be lovely paired with rice. Yum.
I was actually preparing to wave my white flag but lo and behold, this beautiful roast duck landed on our table and I couldn’t resist a bite. The meat was definitely juicy and tender but I would have preferred the skin to be crispier.
Could I handle anymore prawns? Answer is no. So I picked some of the veges instead. The sauce is more sweet and sour than hot bean though.
When this dish was brought to our table, a lovely aroma hit our nose. The combination thinly battered chicken with that tangy, sweet and spicy sauce worked well. Quite refreshing actually.
When I saw the huge plate of noodles, I was rather intimidated. I told the group I was going to have just one strand of noodles, and I ended up eating quite a few more strands. Haha! I simply cannot resist good noodles. Ee Fu noodles are very suitable for braising as they don’t soften and get mushy after prolonged cooking. Here, each strand of noodles absorbed the gravy and the result was absolutely delicious. I did avoid the chicken as I found it unnecessary. In fact, I went home and replicated a vegetarian version. I might put up a recipe here soon.
I had to activate my emergency stomach space for dessert, for the Chilled mango cream with pearl sago was calling my name.
Look at the bright side; it’s almost all liquid right? This was nearly pure mango, with intense flavours and refreshing chill.
Just to balance the heatiness of the mango, my throat also told me to try a small bowl of the chilled sea coconut with snow fungus. Delicious.
Picture purely for illustration purpose as I seriously could not fit anymore food in. But I did watch a fellow lunch companion darting out to get a second bun.
The dessert buffet section also features a variety of cakes, I was happy just looking at them.
Celestial Court, Level 3, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur,
Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2717 9900 ext 6988
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Business hours: Lunch, Mon to Sat, noon to 2.30pm;
Sun and public holidays, 10.00am to 2.30pm.
Dinner, daily, 6.30pm to 10.30pm.
If you think Mediteca sounds familiar, it’s because it’s managed by the Island Group Hospitality company which has once managed the Nero Group restaurants. Medi stands for Meditarranean, so you’ll expect various Southern European cuisine, and best still, the whole menu is dotted with porky delights. That’s right, they have only recently relaunched the menu and I’d say that is a great move.
Last Saturday, we had the pleasure to sample their brand new Brunch menu. Every Saturday, there will be a different Mediterranean theme for diners to relish. There’s a salad bar, all-you-can-eat cold cuts and cheese and various desserts for you to choose from. You get to choose your main course from 5 options and load yourself up with bottomless Ice Lemon Tea. Sounds like a great deal? All for only RM58++. Probably one of the most reasonably priced brunch with the quality of food they are serving. So, while my mum and sister were sweating it out in Italy that weekend (I’m totally not jealous, really!), we had our Italian themed brunch buffet to distract myself.
Walking in the restaurant blessed with plenty of sunlight, this promptly took our attention. The industrial slicer is specially imported to produce super thinly sliced cured meat. Trust me, it makes a huge difference when the cold cuts are thin enough to melt in your mouth. Speaking of which, here’s our plate of delightful cold cuts and cheese.
Ahh…. I can munch on these all days. Especially the prosciutto (somewhere in the middle). The chorizo is the real deal too, with lovely smokiness from the paprika. These are all imported of course, so quality is guaranteed.
They have a range of pickles and jam made in-house, and you can pair them however you want. I love the quince jam with the soft cheese, and the onion jam with prosciutto.
Of course, if you feel that the amount of cholesterol is catching up on you, feel free to grab some colourful salad to offset the richness. Hehe.
But I was a little naughty and went straight for the mozzarella. Mmm. That was good.
Whenever I see homemade pasta on the menu I’d have to order it. I’ve always believed that all Italian/Mediterranean restaurants should make their own pasta because it’s so simple, and far more superior in taste. I have fond memory of the good old Napoletana Ragu so this was an obvious choice for me.
As expected the sauce was packed with sweet essence of swine and the tang from tomato, with just enough herbaceous note to freshen it up. The pasta was cooked perfectly. Comfort food definitely. My only regret is I didn’t finish that plate of pasta (was a little too eager on the cold cuts), I’m still thinking about it now.
Poesy went for the Pork Burger (because the very attractive looking Lasagna Pesta with Clams had sold out, damn), and this beauty was propped on our table. It has very simple toppings. Just Tomato, Lettuce and some melted Mozzarella, and there wasn’t any relish or sauce. But then a very clever waitress pointed us to the various pickles and jam. Aha! Perfect to pair with the pork burger. We might have added some extra cheese to buff it up. Ahem.
The patty itself is a little thin, but has good flavours. Not complaining though because we already had plenty of meat beforehand.
I am a very bad girl (or good?) because I didn’t try the desserts! In retrospects these chocolate pots looked quite good and so did the lemon tart.
Apart from the food, we also really enjoyed the Ice Lemon “Tea”. It’s more like a citrusy blend with a hint of passionfruit in it, very thirst quenching. Poesy had about the whole jug of it. I had quite a few myself.
I like the simple decor with plenty of wooden furniture. It’s casual yet stylish and the ambience was pretty good with easy listening chill-out music soft enough for us to yak through the whole afternoon. We were there for almost 4 hours! No wonder the whole jug of tea. An afternoon well spent, I must say.
I had a peek of their ala carte menu and I know that we’ll be back there soon. I heard tomorrow is going to be Greek themed, so if you are into Greek food do take the opportunity to check it out. Also and by the way, kids below 12 years old get to eat for free! Makes this a perfect place for family day out, don’t you think?
My love for pastry can be tracked all the way back to my Uni days (that sure seems really long ago now…. almost 6 years!). I love all kinds: sweet/savoury tarts, pies, curry puffs, croissants. And it didn’t take me long to start making my own tarts and pies. But back in the days, I used to buy a lot of shortcrust pastry or puff pastry from supermarkets (Pampas brand, anyone?). It’s easy to bake a whole tray of ‘fun-sized’ pastries for parties and pot-luck dinners. Who would have thought and few years down the track I would ditch the store-bought ones for homemade version? I think I still owe it to Nutriplus Baking Competition for taking me out of my comfort zone.
I make quiches at least 2-3 times a month, to the point that I will no longer need to refer to any recipes for perfect portions of pastry vs filling. And of course, the most popular quiche would be the bacon and mushroom version. I’ve made them for all my Plateculture guests (with the exception of the recent Chinese dinner where I made lemon tarts instead — still tarts!), and they are always gone pretty quickly. The beauty about mini quiches is that you get more balance filling: pastry ratio and not to mention they look prettier too. With healthy dose of bacon, even real men would eat these (except for Frank la he’s almost vegetarian anyway).
Generally, if I have guests over for weekend brunch, I would make the crust the night before and line the cases, with ample time for the dough to chill/freeze and lock in all that goodness. That way, the tart shells will never shrink (even store-bought version would shrink if you don’t treat them this way). For mini quiches this size I use my cupcake pans (which explains the slightly irregular edges), time to invest in pretty mini tart pans I guess.
Bacon and Mushroom Mini Quiches (makes exactly 6 cupcake sized quiches)
120g All Purpose Flour
50g Almond meal
75g Kerrygold Irish Butter (the only brand I use, ever), cut into cubes
Pinch of salt (less if the butter is already salted)
40g Cheddar Cheese (Parmesan works too but you might need a bit more water)
2-3 tablespoons Ice Water
2 strips of Bacon, finely chopped (you can of course use more but you’d have to reduce the salt level in your egg mixture)
100g Button Mushrooms, finely chopped
Quarter Onion, finely chopped
Splash of milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/3 Cup of Cheese (I used a mixture of Parmesan and Cheddar)
To make the pastry, place both flour, almond meal in a large bowl, rub the butter cubes into the flour and stirring in the cheese with sufficient cold water to mix to a firm dough. Flatten to disc, wrapped in cling film and leave in fridge for 30 minutes.
Divide the pastry dough into 6 equal pieces and press the pastry into the cupcake pans and gently push up the edge. Trim the edge and prick the base all over with a fork. Leave them in the freezer until you are ready to use. Preheat the oven to 180C.
To make the filling, saute onion until translucent, then add bacon and mushrooms and cook until golden brown. Set aside. Mix 2 eggs with cream, milk, salt and pepper.
Prebake the tart cases for 10 minutes with baking weight (beans, rice, even coins can work), remove and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 150°C. Distribute the bacon/mushrooms/onion mixture evenly then add 3 tablespoons each of the egg mixture (until almost full), topped with pinch of cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until set. Cool to room temperature before serving.
Not too difficult right? These mini quiches are great for any occasion: brunch, afternoon tea, dinner, finger food at parties. Make your own soon! You can always substitute with other ingredients. Spinach works really well, bits of chorizo sausages would be fabulous too. Impress your guests soon.
For a vegetarian version, you can also refer to this recipe (full-sized quiche too). Or you can skip the egg mixture and do this instead.
Picture this: One fine day, I’m consulting patients in my private clinic. After the last patient has left, I drove to my own restaurant where I’ll watch over my team of fabulous Chefs putting together beautiful dishes and if I feel like it, I put on the apron and make a few dishes too. When the dinner guests are deep into their conversations and hopefully enjoying the food, my band appears and we performed a few tunes together.
Ok, that might be a little too idealistic and knowing me, I’d probably be running around like a headless chook juggling all of these. But that won’t be far off from my dream. As of now, I’ve taken yet another step forward and the time has come for me to start hosting dinners (and brunches) at my place.
PlateCulture is an exciting new platform to connect all foodies alike. Without the need to actually own a restaurant, home cooks can now open their dining rooms for guests. I feel that it’s quite safe to do this via an agency (if you will) like this because it provides an extra safety net for us. As a guest, you’ll be able to communicate with the hosts prior to booking to specify any dietary requirements or even request dishes (at least with me you can).
Most of the Chinese recipes come from my grandmother and my mother, with strong Teochew and Foochow (and Sarawakian) influence. Depending on the number of guests the number of dishes will vary. You will be able to request dishes like Sarawak Laksa too. Vegetarian option is possible but I don’t do ‘mock meat’ dishes.
Guests are allowed to bring wine or beer to the dinner, but responsible drinking is very much encouraged.
To improve your dining experience, it’s advisable that you let me know if there’s anything you won’t be comfortable eating, as well as your tolerance for spice. All dishes are for sharing and only brown rice will be served.
Introducing the Weekend Brunch menu:
I like sleeping in during weekends (although with this project I might have to do less of that) and hate it when the brunch places stop serving breakfast items after certain time (2pm-3pm for most places as far as I’m aware). At my place, you can have breakfast anytime of the day! Woke up after 4pm? No problem. But be sure to book ahead so I have the ingredients to prepare your dishes.
Expect dishes that you can find in most Melbourne cafés: Baked eggs, Smashed Avocado on toast (homemade), Quiches, other egg dishes. If you want a more substantial meal though, you can also choose to book for dinner where I’ll be cooking a 3 course dinner for you. The main course can be anything from Salmon to Beef Stew. Once again, it will help if I know what you normal like to eat.
Remember the cheesecake in jars? Here’s another version:
Desserts are only available on dinner menu (applicable to Chinese and Western), and they will usually be healthier compared to store bought because I prefer to use less salt. After all, I’m not exactly a fat chef so you won’t need to feel too guilty after dining at my place.
Many have actually asked for the recipe for the cheesecake so here it is!
Rosewater Cheesecake with Strawberry Jam
60g of Marie Biscuits (about 9 pieces)
50g Butter, melted 250g Philadelphia Cream Cheese
100ml Thickened Cream
2 drops of Rosewater
Half a pod of Vanilla Beans, scrapped
1/4 Cup Sugar (more if you prefer sweeter, taste before you chill it)
30-40ml Hot Water
Half a packet of Gelatine, about one teaspoon
1 punnet Strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Crush the biscuits in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin, and then pour in the melted butter and mix well. Lay a couple of spoonfuls into individual jars and lightly press down.
Add cream cheese, cream, rosewater, vanilla beans, sugar in the blend and blend until smooth. Sprinkle gelatine in a bowl of hot water and mix well with a fork. Add to the cheese mixture and blend for a few more seconds. Pour the mixture into the jar evenly and chill for at least 3-4 hours.
To make the strawberry jam, hulled and cut the strawberries into halves or quarters depending on size, add to a saucepan with sugar and lemon juice. Cook on medium heat until the liquid turned into gel form (it will form a coat on the back of your spoon). Let cool completely and chill in the fridge until ready to use. Assemble just before serving.
My Chinese dinner menu is priced very reasonably at RM30 per head, and so is the Weekend Brunch menu. The Western dinner is RM50 per head (you can book this through the Weekend Brunch link). Click on the direct links to book your spots. Minimum 2 pax.
Solaris Dutamas is fast becoming a hot spot for all foodies alike. Be it Tapas, Eggy Breakfasts, Pizzas, Burgers, Sushi, Vegetarian delights, Hokkien Mee, Cakes, Roti Canai; If you crave for something, chances are you are going to find it there. If you manage to figure your way around the buildings, that is. Solaris Dutamas/Publika can be quite a maze at times. There are now two all day Dim Sum restaurants there too, one being the pork free New Shanghai Legend and the latest addition with plenty of oinking: Imperial Pot.
No, the name does not imply some marijuana for the Royalty (although wouldn’t that be interesting?), it simply refers to their signature “Teapot Soup”.
The soup is served with a tiny teacup so it’s recommended that you down in one. All the soup were cooked with care (made fresh everyday) and the pots are packed with ingredients. My favourite is the Herbal Pork Soup that is incredibly aromatic with warming properties.
With all that soup to pique our appetite, we were then served with the first dim sum item, which was rather unique with a Japanese twist.
Nestled in a fluffy puff pastry case, the unagi delivered a burst of flavours. I would prefer the puff pastry to be slightly crispier but that’s not a big issue.
This is another Japanese inspired dish, and I ain’t going to complain about it. I’ve done this at home a few times and they are always a huge hit. Steaming it makes the bacon all tender and lovely. Besides mushrooms, they also added pork ‘paste’ within the roll for that extra meatiness. Delicious.
This is the first time I’ve seen Bah Kut Teh broth used in soup dumplings and I think it’s a great combination. I just wish there was more broth in it and the skin to be a bit thinner, then they will be just perfect.
These might be better named as Dalmation Dumplings but people might get the wrong idea (only a very very minority of Chinese eat dogs, ok?). I’m not a huge fan of Har Kau in general so it didn’t wow me much. However the texture of the filling was good.
The current trend is to put bamboo charcoal powder in absolutely everything. I prefer this than the one before (so following the black trend does work), but I think it would be nice if the skin was coloured with squid ink instead. At least it will bring the extra ocean flavour to the prawn filling.
Lookie another one with charcoal powder. But these Egg custard buns were beyond fantastic. Imagine the piping hot salted egg runny custard bursting out when you tear the bun open.
Oh my. This is almost obscene, in a very, very good way. These babies are right on the money.
These super cute oinky buns literally paled in comparison as the filling was a bit drier and one-dimensional in taste. I suggest for them to just fill these with the same custard as above.
I always love to order Cheong Fun whenever I’m having Dim Sum and who can resist this sexy looking Char Leong (ie Cheong Fun filled with Chinese Crullers), especially when they were topped with the umami pork floss? I enjoyed this tremendously.
I didn’t get to try this one as they were gone too quickly.
The all important greens for the vege intake, and they do these quite well. I think I had at least half the plate of this.
Here comes another highlight of the day. It’s no secret that I love avocado and this is such a refreshing way to enjoy the nutritious fruit. Here the avocado is mashed, seasoned (sweet), wrapped in Kataifi pastry and deep fried. Be careful as they come piping hot. Consume too quickly and you’ll risk losing the skin on the roof of your mouth. Personally I think this is their best dish and must try if you are a first timer… heck, everytime, even.
I believe you can coat most things in salted egg yolk and they will taste amazing. Prawn lovers will enjoy this and I like getting the yolk bits off the shell. This is part of their dinner menu.
A simple is nice to finish off a rather heavy meal. They don’t have my favourite Mango pudding so this was served to us. I find the texture to be on the gritty side (just need to pass through the cheese cloth another time I guess) and there’s a peculiar sourish after taste to it. But ginger syrup is fantastic. Hopefully they can improve this as I do love a good Tau Foo Fah.
Will I go back again? Definitely for the Deep fried avocado and Lau Sar Buns. They also offer a variety of main dishes with reasonable prices.
A1-UG1-03 Solaris Dutamas (facing the main road, same side as Papparich/Nasi Kandar Bestari/Edo Ichi but a floor up),
Simplot, the major potato grower, manufacturer and supplier in the world is holding a cooking competition for food bloggers in Malaysia. The rules are simple: we have to use any of the Simplot hashbrown products in a recipe and then blog about it. It’s also a bonus to use any of the Leggo’s sauces to make the recipe more interesting. The main criterias for the judging process is 1. Ease of Preparation and 2. Creativity.
I had a few days to ponder on the recipe and I decided to stick with what I love to eat that is also easy enough to make. We often see Hash browns being thrown on a plate as a big fry up breakfast and it can get rather boring. Well, my favourite breakfast (you might already know this) is something that’s packed with vegetables but also tastes amazing: Baked Eggs. Not only it’s visually appealing, it’s also fun to eat.
Of course, instead of serving it with toast, I used the mini hash browns to scoop up the delicious sauce. This also means I get to utilize a Leggo’s sauce in my recipe for the base. Strangely enough, someone must have stocked up all the pasta sauces because my local grocer only seems to have one variety left: The Napoletana. Luckily it’s versatile enough for me to play with.
This will be a picture-heavy blog because we are required to use step-by-step pictures and it certainly wasn’t easy for me to cook and take pictures at the same time without getting the camera dirty. So I guess I’ll skip my rambling and present to you my creation for this challenge:
Ingredients (serves 2):
12 Simplot Mini Hash Browns
Half an onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
Half a zucchini, cut into small dice
Half a capsicum, cut into small dice
Leggo’s Napoletana Sauce
Handful fresh Parsley, chopped finely
1/2 teaspon Dried Oregano
1 Egg per person (or more if you prefer)
Handful Shredded Cheese (Mozzarella is perfect)
Preheat oven to 180C, arrange the Simplot Mini Hash Browns on a baking tray lined with baking sheet. Baked for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Get all the vegetables prepped. You want the zucchini and capsicum to be about the same size.
Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons of Olive oil. Add onion and cook until soft, then throw in the minced garlic.
Continue to stir for a minute or two until onion is starting to brown. Then add zucchini and capsicum.
Cook for about 15 minutes until vegetables are soft, then add about half a jar of the Leggo’s sauce (about 300g). Basically just enough to cover the vegetables.
Add fresh parsley and dried oregano and cook for a few minutes more. Check for seasoning (I found mine already salty enough so I didn’t add anything else but a pinch of sugar). Turn off the heat.
Fill a mini cast iron skillet with the vegetable mixture, making an indentation in the middle. Crack an egg into a ramekin and carefully lower it into the indentation. Do the same for the other portion.
Sprinkle on some cheese. And bake in 180C oven for about 15-20 minutes until the egg is just set. Sprinkle more fresh parsley on top and serve with the mini hash browns. Consume immediately for the best runny egg yolk.
I took a little too longer taking pictures so had let the egg to continue cooking in the skillet. So unfortunately no eggporn shot this time, but you can always take a look at my previous posts.
This is the first time I’ve ever use a ready made sauce for baked eggs and I’m not surprised that it was a much quicker process and just as tasty as the made-from-scratch version. I polished the whole thing within 15 minutes.