Memory Makers at Traders Hotel

Traders Hotel carries a lot of fun memories for me, from the time I was still a tourist til now. And it’s fitting that they have recently launched a selection of new flavours called “Memory Makers”, a series of new dishes and drinks created based on guests preferences over time. The Memory Makers are made to leave a lasting impression in terms of flavours, presentation and the experience the evoke. We were invited to dine at Gobo Upstairs couple of weeks back and safe to say it was a memorable meal indeed.

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First up, let me just say that if you are into theatrical displays, this meal will certainly wow you. Our starter was “Mushroom Tea” (RM35), a slate with a few pieces of salted tempura oyster mushrooms, a glass with mixed mushrooms (let’s pretend my glass was dry for a sec) and a teapot containing the “tea”….

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Which was then poured into the glass. The broth is infused with wild mushrooms, as you can imagine. Despite its light-ish appearance it’s definitely flavourful, and if I hadn’t practised restraint I can easily have that whole pot over the course of the meal. Then again I’m just a sucker for good soup.

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The tempura mushrooms were seasoned perfectly too, and the bits of sea salt, pink peppercorn and herbs help lifted the flavours.

Gobo Upstairs is as meaty as it comes, and it’s nice for them to offer a Three Meat Platter (RM250) for 2 so you get a nice variety of tastes in one meal.

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The steaks and fine cuts are of course the mainstay and here we get a tenderloin served with Pumpkin Puree and chunky fries. Cooked to medium rare, the steak is tasty enough on its own, but who can pass up the wonderfully done Bordelaise sauce, served in a syringe for the fun factor?

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I don’t even normally order Lamb Rack but this cutlet actually won my heart. So tender and flavourful, none of that gamey taste I dislike. That artichoke and coriander pesto is amazing I want to steal the recipe. Of course, it’s accompanying rosemary sauce (also in a syringe) is excellent too.

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Surprisingly, the poultry was really well done too, with juicy flesh and crispy skin which packs plenty of flavours.

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The dish that could really become an icon is the Nasi Lemak 2.0. Sure, you can get nasi lemak anywhere but if you want it fancy this is the place to go. Especially if you want to introduce this to friends from other countries. It’s like the famous Chicken Rice at Chatterbox, Mandarin Oriental Singapore, but even prettier.

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The usual suspects are all present, with an upgrade: Rice steamed with coconut water and milk in the coconut shell itself, which means you can scoop up the coconut flesh as well. You get a choice of Chicken Rendang or Fried Spiced Chicken, Prawn Sambal with succulent prawns, and the usual sides. If I have just one suggestion to improve the dish, I’d prefer to swap the hard-boiled egg to just slightly underdone for that glorious yolkporn. For RM35 nett, I think this is definitely worth the price tag and experience.

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Now we move on to the desserts!

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This is the Cherry Bomm (RM30). I’ve seen a lot of people sharing videos of this, and now we can finally get it in KL!

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The round sphere is made with white chocolate. You pour the dark chocolate over it and viola! The shell melts to reveal the treat within.

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Ours looked more like the crumbling tower of Piza. This is fitting for the most serious chocolate lovers.

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Le Bon Vivant Ice Kepal (RM20) is inspired by the local Ice Kepal treat that many will recall from their childhood days in the 70s and 80s. Topped with raspberries and drenched with syrup, the surprise twist is the ice cream core beneath the layer of shaved ice. I think I might be a little too young to remember this though.

There are also 2 cocktails from SkyBar we tried.

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Sky 33 (RM35), a fruity concoction with fresh apples, kiwi juice, a hint of kaffir lime leaves muddled with vodka on ice. Cubes of kiwi vodka jelly for that added kick. This was delicious in a dangerous way.

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Picking up from the existing signature cocktail, this improved Selangor Sling (RM48) is slung with Tanqueray gin, hibiscus syrup, Elder flower syrup, pineapple juice, a dash of absinthe, shaken and top with a roselle flower. I actually liked this better, though it is rather potent and might send you into a daze pretty quickly. Especially if you manage to finish the whole Memory Makers’ menu.

TRADERS HOTEL KUALA LUMPUR
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2332-9888
Fax: 03-2332-2666
email: thkl@tradershotels.com
website: http://www.tradershotels.com

 

 

Blue House Steamboat Restaurant

Taking over the locally well-known Damansara Village Steamboat Restaurant (owned by Patrick Teoh), is Blue House Steamboat Restaurant. The change of ownership occurred somewhere around late last year when the lease ended for Damansara Village. Signboard’s swapped to a bright blue one, the interior refreshed (part of it rebuilt), but the attraction is still Seafood, prepared in the freshest way possible. New kitchen team has Cantonese cuisine as their forte, and the menu here is big, including steamboat and non-steamboat options.

We visited Blue House on their Grand Opening night, having done their soft launch for a couple of weeks prior. It was a rainy evening, no less, which makes for a pleasant dining experience when it comes to open air restaurant like this one. We took our time to ponder over the menu and decided we would go for their Signature Big Bowl Fish, along with 2 other small dishes.

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For our appetiser, the “Crystal Chicken” with Cordyceps Flower (Quarter Portion for RM19). I guess they used Village Chicken, for it’s slightly firmer flesh. The skin is lovely aromatic from the herbs and I enjoyed chewing on the cordyceps flowers (which is actually a type of mushroom).

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Kevin ordered the Salt and Pepper Tofu (RM8.80) because he’s partial to that stuff, and this is executed well. Perfectly crispy and well-seasoned, what’s more to ask?

Now, the picture of the Big Bowl Fish on their menu does not do justice at all to this dish. To be fair the staff did warn us that the portion is big, and half a fish (RM88) should be sufficient for 3-4 people, but we sure didn’t expect such a massive bowl!

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Actually, the word bowl is misleading. We got a basin full of soup with premium ingredients.

Let’s take a closer look.  photo P1210318.jpg

I think this was my first encounter with 鲩鱼, which according to my research is a type of Grass Carp, a freshwater fish native to Eastern Asia. Here, the fish is simply boiled in the stock. The flesh is lovely soft when it’s cooked perfectly, but do turn a little stringy when overcooked. Those who are not used to freshwater fish might be deterred from the distinctive muddy taste as well, though it wasn’t too evident in this case, as I imagine very fresh fish was used.

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Other accompanying ingredients include Prawns, Squid, Clams, Fish balls, Tofu, Daikon Radish, Leek, Preserved Vegetable, just to name a few. And the resulting soup is so full of the natural sweetness of the ingredients combined, I was slurping up bowls after bowls. But even that, 3 of us were struggling already halfway through. We were told that if we wanted we could order some more ingredients to add to the soup. Imagine a side of noodles to soak up that lovely broth! Next time we come here, I’m rounding up a bigger group for sure.

This sure was a memorable meal and we will not hesitate to return for another visit.

Blue House Steamboat Restaurant

1067, Jalan Jenjarum, Off Jalan 23/10,
Taman Sea, 47400 Petaling Jaya.
03-7887 6066
Opening hours: 11am to 3pm, 5pm-11pm daily

Si Chuan Dou Hua Chinese New Year Menu, PARKROYAL Kuala Lumpur

Si Chuan Dou Hua at PARKROYAL Kuala Lumpur is gearing up to usher in the year of the monkey and the team led by Chef Foong Koon Sang has put together a variety of set menus of Yee Sang for diners to swing to a Prosperous New Year. There are 8 menus in total starting from RM388nett for 2 person to RM2188 for 10, so there’s something to suit every budget.

The menu we had the pleasure to sample was RM1988 for 10, so you can imagine the feast we had! Of course, with most Chinese New Year menu, we started with Yee Sang.

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We had the Prosperity Sliced Abalone Yee Sang, which comes with plenty of fresh ingredients.

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As usual, we muttered all sorts of auspicious wishes. More money, more job opportunities, more happiness and most importantly good health for 2016.

A soup course is to me, the most important part of the dinner and usually for Chinese New Year, really expensive ingredients go into this course. At Si Chuan Dou Hua, they still serve Shark Fin. Personally I don’t eat it due to ethical reasons, and diners may be pleased to know that you can swap your soup course too.

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Double-boiled Shark’s Fin Soup with Dried Scallop, Sea Cucumber, Bamboo Piths and Ginseng is definitely nourishing, but the Shark’s Fin free option is equally luxurious.

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The 8 Treasure Soup with Seafood comes in a delightful green hue thanks to the addition of Spinach. Little bits of scallop, crab, prawn and more, encased in slightly thickened soup, this is full of umami flavours and definitely satisfying.

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Fish signifies abudance so it’s important to eat plenty of them for Chinese New Year. This Tiger Garoupa here is simply steamed and served with Superior Soy Sauce. I love the super tender flesh of the fish, and with such supreme quality, nothing more than a dash of soy to complement the sweetness of the fish.
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The Steamed Village Chicken with Chinese Herb was hands down our favourite of the night. The Chicken has just a slight bit of chew, and the skin has absorbed the lovely aroma of Dong Guai. My favourite was the broth, so rich and intense and nourishing. I think we will steal this idea for our reunion dinner.

 

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A prawn dish is also commonly served during Chinese New Year because Prawn is pronounced as “Ha” in Cantonese, so this dish signifies plenty of laughters and happiness for the new year. The Prawns here are deshelled, and coated in a sweet and tangy sauce, not unlike those of Sweet and Sour, but a touch more umami.

Important to note that even though Si Chuan Dou Hua serves Szechuan cuisine, the CNY menu is veered towards Cantonese instead for some reason.

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The next course was the Braised Vegetables with Sea Cucumber Dried Scallop, Sliced Abalone, and Dried Oyster. Seems to be a standard dish for any CNY banquet, it’s enjoyable if you love these lux ingredients. For me, it was a good opportunity to fulfill my vegetable intake.

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The carb option at Si Chuan Dou Hua this year features this impressive looking Fried Rice with Black Mushroom and Smoked Duck. This is very well done, and totally irresistible as Kevin and I both tucked in double portions.

Our menu ended with double desserts, and the first was the Chilled Grapefruit Sago which was perfect to balance the richness of the meal.

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Filled with bits of fruits and sago, the grapefruit and mango cream is delightful to savour.

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And if you can fill yourself with more food, these deep fried nian gao with yam will sure end your dinner with a good note.

The 8 Set Menus (including a Vegetarian set) is available from 18th January to 22 February. Besides the above, Chef Foong has also crafted two ‘Poon Choy 7-Course Feast’ set menus which will be complemented by six other courses including a Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang or Wealth Sliced Abalone Yee Sang.Available from 1 January to 22 February, the sets are priced at RM418 nett for 2 to 5 persons and RM988 nett for 6 to 10 persons.

Celebrate Chinese New Year at Chatz Brasserie with a buffet lunch and buffet dinner on 7, 8 and 9 February from 12.30pm to 4.00pm and 6.30pm to 10.30pm. All buffets include unlimited flow of juices and soft drinks.

Buffet Lunch – RM88 nett for 1 person, RM160 nett for 2 persons, RM232 nett for 3 persons, RM308 nett for 4 persons and a savings of 20% for 5 to 10 persons.

Buffet Dinner – RM138 nett for 1 person, RM248 nett for 2 persons, RM358 nett for 3 persons, RM468 nett for 4 persons and a savings of 20% for 5 to 10 persons.

For reservations or enquiries, please call +603 2147 0088 or email douhua.prkul@parkroyalhotels.com

SI CHUAN DOU HUA RESTAURANT
PARKROYAL Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail,
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2147 0088
Website: www.sichuandouhua.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Parkroyalkualalumpur

R.AGE Food Fight: Ayam Masak Merah with Cauli “Nasi Tomato”

What’s red in colour, delicious, and also uniquely Malaysian? Ayam Masak Merah, a Kedahan dish commonly seen at Hari Raya Celebration and Malay Weddings, of course. Do you know what else is red and Malaysian? Red Palm oil, which is the star of the day in this blog post. Needless to say, I decided to cook this dish because I was inspired by the colour, but it also happens to be one of my favourite Malaysian dishes, due to its rich aroma, and a nice balance of savoury note, sweetness, richness, piquancy and just enough heat to tickle your system.

Did you know that Malaysia is the world’s second largest producer of Palm oil? Interestingly enough most of it is exported and we don’t really see a lot of Palm oil used in cooking locally. It’s not that Palm oil is not good for us, in fact, it’s high in antioxidants, which is responsible for combating free radical damage. It also has virtually no cholesterol, just like another super cousin of it, the coconut oil. It has its signature red hue due to high level of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to Vitamin A (the Vitamin that’s good for our eyes), and it’s also high in Vitamin E. In short, it comes with pretty attractive health benefits, but of course as with all fats, consuming in moderation is key.

Ayam Masak Merah with Cauli-Nasi Tomato

This recipe is super nontraditional as I’m adding my own twist to it. For example, a good amount of recipes calls for canned tomato soup for the gravy, and I’ve opted for canned tomatoes instead for a fresher taste. I’ve also added lemongrass in the spice paste for an extra depth of aroma. Ayam Masak Merah is commonly paired with Nasi Tomato, and I’ve done my own interpretation of a low carb substitute using Caulifower instead. Although this means that I can’t cook it the traditional way infusing milk, spices and tomatoes slowly into the grains, but nothing a good dose of gravy over won’t fix, right? This way, you even get your vegetable quota sorted. By the way, it’s also Gluten-free and Paleo friendly, how about that?

The cooking process is a little complicated, and involves deep frying (*gasp*) as this is the way we can keep the chicken juicy with a nice firm texture. You might also work up a sweat if you don’t have a fancy food processor (which I don’t), but with the end result this delicious, I can assure you it’s all worth the effort. Now let’s get cooking! To make this a little extra special, I shall include a full cooking video for your viewing pleasure.

Ayam Masak Merah (Malay Red Cooked Chicken) with Cauli-Nasi Tomato

Ingredients:
Spice Paste:
5-6 Shallots
3 Red Chili (or more if you like it spicier)
1 thumb sized Ginger
5-6 cloves of Garlic
1 Stalk Lemongrass

Spices (roast in pan beforehand):
2 Star Anise
3-4 Cloves
1 stick of Cinnamon

500g Chicken Drumsticks (or any other part you like)
1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1 canned Tomatoes
300ml Coconut Milk
Palm Oil

Cauli Nasi Tomato
Half head of Cauliflower
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 tablespoon Ketchup

First, to make the spice paste. Place everything in food processor/blender/pestle & mortar/or anything that can chop things into small pieces and process til fine. I had to make do with a smaller device on the day of filming the cooking video so my spice paste isn’t as paste-y as it should be. But well, still tasty! Set aside until needed.

Then we move on to deep fry the chicken. The Chicken drumsticks need to be marinated with turmeric and salt for at least half an hour. Fill a pot with Palm oil (great choice for deep frying because of the high smoke point), and when it’s hot enough (you can test it with a wooden chopstick, if it bubbles up it’s ready) add the chicken pieces to deep fry until they are starting to take on a glorious colour. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

Pour most of the oil out leaving around 3 tablespoons, and add in the spice paste to stir fry. You want to cook until it’s nice and fragrant and starting to split from the oil. Then add in the canned tomatoes (I’ve actually used my hand to squeeze the tomatoes into smaller pieces, you can also use a blender for this job), followed by the roasted spices and coconut milk. Mix everything well, and add the chicken drumsticks. Turn the heat to medium low and simmer for about 30-40 minutes until chicken is fully cooked and the sauce is nice and thick. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and sugar if needed.

While the chicken is cooking, we can prepare the Cauli “Nasi Tomato”. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, and use a blender/food processor to pulse a few times until the cauliflower become rice grain like (do not over process!). Heat the pan with Palm oil, and add the cauliflower rice, follow by tomato paste. Cook for 3-4 minutes until cauliflower is softened. Serve hot.

To assemble, place the cauli rice (using a bowl to mold if you want it nicely shaped) onto a plate, then pick your drumstick, making sure you also get plenty of that nice gravy on. Garnish with sliced tomatoes, some coriander and serve with achar if you like.

I love everything about this dish: the vibrant colours, the addictive gravy, succulent chicken, piquant cauli rice (with the added bonus of health), and the fact that the goodness of Palm oil is fully utilised. I hope you get to try this dish at home too, as it will sure impress your taste buds, and your family/friends.

Mono Coffee @ Publika Solaris Dutamas

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.

Demo Session run by their barista

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.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

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.

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:

Pods & Chicken Salad (RM16)

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.

Beef & Hashed “Benedicts” (RM 17)

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).

Stack it (RM14)

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.

Our cute little tasting platter.
Pasta Alla Mono

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.

With the MHB Girls.

Thank you Mono Coffee for the invitation, looking forward to a nice brunch session soon!

MONO Coffee
A2-G2-3A Publika Shopping Gallery
Jalan Dutamas 1
Solaris Dutamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-6206 5239
FaceBook: www.facebook.com/monocoffee.my
Website: monocoffee.co

KLGCC’s Fiery Friday Poolside BBQ Fiesta

If you fancy spending some quality time with your friends or family by the poolside, sipping beer/wine/beverage of your choice while enjoying a range of delectable BBQ spread, you should absolutely check out the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC)’s poolside party, now on every Friday evening.

Gorgeous pool!

In conjunction with the Interntional Women’s Day, KLGCC organised a special Fiery Friday Poolside BBQ Fiesta and I was honoured to receive an invitation to attend the party. As it was a special night, there were a few treats for the guests. But of course, let’s take a look at the awesome spread first. I shall start with the meat choices; after all, BBQ is the star attraction here.

Chef Arnold Kwok, Executive Chef of KLGCC has led his team to create many mouth-watering delights. And I was even more impressed to find out that most of these things are Paleo friendly, using premium ingredients and mostly fit with clean eating principles. In fact Chef Arnold spotted me and told me I would have plenty of choices there, as we talked about my diet choice. He was right!

To whet our appetite, Chef Arnold also created an interesting welcome drink:

Spicy Passion Mocktail, with chili flakes for extra kick! It’s very thirst quenching indeed.

 

The Meats:

Garlic Marinated Australian Chilled Beef Striploin, served with Chimichurri Sauce
Sesame Soy Australian Beef Short Ribs, served with Garlic Chili Sauce.

 

Missed out the picture of the Whole Spit Lamb though.

Chicken Leg Golek Bumbu Cabai, served with Sweet Calamansi Chili Sauce, Fans of Chicken Breasts can opt for the Grilled Balsamic Chicken Breast instead.
Beef and Chicken Satay
Chicken Sausage and Apple Yakitori

The Seafood:

Charcoal Smoked Fresh Salmon with Dill, served with Cucumber Yogurt Mint and Cilantro King Mackerel, served with Lemon Wedges Grilled Spicy Garlic Butter Shrimps, Lemon Wedges
Garlic Butter Shrimps

 

Snapper Tikka, served with Coconut Chutney Braai and Apricot Chili Jam
Griddle Squid Aglio Olio, Tomato Salsa

Interestingly, all of the meat and seafood is paired with their individual sauce, gotta love the attention to details here.

To fulfill the vegetable quota, here are some of the Starters and Salads (listed in the order of my own preferences):

Coconut Milk Frittata
Raw Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad, looks exactly like something I always make at home!
Cucumber with Jicama, Almonds and Sesame Salad
Sweet Potato Salad with Pumpkin Seed and Egg
Potato Salad

Of course, what I ate for the evening. Brace yourself because I think I did overeat… just a little.

The Starter Plate.

I enjoyed all the salads and loved the frittata. I say the even if you don’t eat meat, you’ll be very happy here too. If you absolutely must eat starch, there is a lovely looking steamed multigrain rice, and potatoes cooked in various styles.

Seafood Plate.

The Salmon is amazing! Exquisitely soft with the distinctive aroma of dill, made even better with the cucumber yoghurt.

The everything else plate.

I was most impressed with how everything was cooked well, and for someone who doesn’t like much of red meat, I sure ate enough Iron for that night. The Striploin with chimicurri sauce is my favourite, and I didn’t even mind the lamb (usually too gamey for me). The Squid, on the other hand, was super popular that night. Not surprising though because it’s so tender, and seasoned perfectly. Yum.

I will admit that I sample a little bit of desserts too, how can you not when the dessert spread looks like this?

Sweet Heaven right here.

Food aside, we were entertained by DJ Patricia K, who was also Emcee for the night.

Looking beautiful as always.

And there was a special performance by KLGCC’s in-house band Acoustic Fourplay, a versatile band which has been in the scene for a long time. Being the daredevil I am, I went and have a chat with the boys and found out we do have some mutual friends (even my own band member, haha KL is too damn small).

Acoustic Fourplay

These boys are good! We were thoroughly entertained and towards the end I was invited to sing a couple of songs too. That was fun.

The Poolside BBQ buffet fiesta will be available every Friday, starting from 6.30pm onwards, priced at RM75nett per adult (non-member); RM60nett (member); RM37.50nett per child (non-member) and RM30nett (member). Children under 6 years old dines for free.

As a promotion, diners are able to purchase a bottle of Carlsberg beer and get one FREE, at only RM22.15nett per bottle. To avoid disappointment, early booking is advisable. For further enquiries, call+603 2011 9187 / 9189 or visit klgcc.com to gain insights on KLGCC’s latest happenings.

Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC)
No. 10, Jalan 1/70D,
Off Jalan Bukit Kiara,
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-2011 9188
Fax: 603-2011 9288

Coco Ichibanya, 1 Utama

[Advertorial]

If you have been following this blog for a while, you might have noticed that I really love Japanese food. And the beauty of Japanese food is that it is so diverse, I could be craving sashimi one day, and ramen the next. But the ultimate Japanese comfort food for me would have to be Japanese curry (to be specific Katsu Curry Don). This was one of the first dishes I’ve ever ordered in a Japanese restaurant and forgive me if I sound like a broken record: I used to have it on a regular basis during my student days (dude, I’m starting to sound like an Obasan).

Anyway, imagine my excitement when I heard that one of the biggest Japanese Curry House is opening its first branch in Malaysia. That’s right, Coco Ichibanya already has 1,350 restaurants in Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, North America, and Singapore. It’s truly the McDonald’s of Japanese Curry!

I was delighted of course to attend Coco Ichibanya’s launch night at 1 Utama early March along with Malaysia’s Hottest Bloggers. It was a glammed up event with appearance of local celebrities too.

Amber Chia, Gary Yap, Orange, and Julie Woon.
The Gorgeous Debbie Goh.

The tagline of Coco Ichibanya is “The Tastiness You Can Choose”, as customers can customise their meal based on their preferences. You can choose the spiciness of the curry (mild, signature original flavour, and spiciness of level 1 to 5), toppings you like, and even the amount of rice.

There is a selection of over 30 meat and seafood to choose from chicken, beef, pork, prawns, clams and more, and some are paired with toppings such as egg, corn and croquettes. So if you really love Japanese curry, you can technically have all different combinations for a few month consecutively! Not to mention the more fusion dishes such are curry meat sauce atop spaghetti, curry gratin and more. If curry rice isn’t your thing, fear not. There are other non curry based dishes such are creamy pasta, salads, and soups too.

On the launch night, we were treated to some tasting portions of the dishes.

Fried Chicken Curry
Salmon Cream Croquette Curry
Fried Shrimp Curry

Though my favourite of the night would have to be this one:

Lightly-Crisped Chicken Curry

Almost all the proteins were fried in batter, although they weren’t greasy as I would have expected. The lightly-crisped chicken stood out though as it has the best texture and also I could actually taste the chicken (juice and tender as a plus). As for the curry sauce, most of them were served with level one curry which is not spicy at all (at least to me), but I still love similar taste of the curry. There were some level 3 and level 5 curry sauce ‘shots’ going around and well, no prize guessing which one I like! Level 5 packs plenty of heat and I would gladly tackle it any given day, but if I want to take it easy, then I would probably go for level 3 or 4. But what really caught my attention is this:

Pickle heaven!

Usually when I eat Japanese curry, it’s often served with only a few pieces of pickled radish and often they look quite processed. I have to portion it properly with the meat and rice, not a problem here! These are freshly made and unlimited! A match made in heaven with the curry sauce, I can foresee myself coming here whenever I have a craving.

What is the difference between Japanese curry and say, Malaysian curry you may ask? Interestingly enough, Japanese curry is actually more Western influenced, as the technique involves first making a “roux” out of butter and flour, like the French technique of cooking soup (that’s why the gravy is nice and thick). Then, curry spices are added and to infuse some sweetness, vegetables like onions and carrots forms the basic flavour profile and fruits like apples are often included as well.

Here are some of the dishes available at Coco Ichibanya (in the order of my own preference, hah!):

Pork Cutlet Omelette Curry – RM26.00

Is there any question? Omurice plus Katsu Curry wins hands down of course! I mean, just look at this:

Come to mama!

I can just imagine the crunch of the pork cutlet, the silky smooth omelet paired with the curry sauce, comfort food for sure.

Grilled Spinach, Bacon and Corn Curry – RM20.00

I would give this a go because it has Bacon and Spinach. Maybe as an extra topping to my Omu-Katsu-Curry Rice.

Seafood Spaghetti – RM22.00

If for whatever reason you come to a Japanese Curry House and don’t want to have neither curry or rice, this could be your choice (maybe you are not a fan, but your girlfriend is).

There are also a few meat-free options, including a very lovely looking Eggplant curry. For your vegetarian partner or friend.

The CoCo ICHIBANYA branch in 1 Utama seats a maximum of 65 persons in the 128 square meters restaurant which exudes a casual, friendly and unpretentious ambience. Folks in Penang, look out for the second outlet which will be opening in Queensbay Mall soon.

Of course, there are some obligatory group photos:

With Tim, Jia Yeen and Kate
With Jia Yeen, Kate, Sharon and Stephanie. Outfit Proudly Not Sponsored by Zalora.

So, I need a date to Coco Ichibanya soon, who wants to come with me?

Photo credit to Andy Kho (those without watermark are mine).

CoCo ICHIBANYA is located at:
Lot LG 333A, Lower Ground (New Wing),
1 Utama Shopping Centre,
Bandar Utama,
47800 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor.
Telephone: 03-7732-8937

Operating Hours: Daily from 10.00am to 10.00pm

CoCo ICHIBANYA is a restaurant chain owned by Fuji Group, the company of Fuji Japanese Restaurant in Thailand, and for more information, head over to http://www.ichibanya.co.jp/english/index.html

Bella Unwind NTV7 Apperance #3: All About Coffee

Following my last cooking demonstration on Bella Unwind NTV7, I didn’t expect to get another invitation so soon to cook another dish for Bella Unwind. This time the theme is Coffee, so the production team has suggested that I cook a savoury dish with coffee. After digging my brain for recipes, I decided to do a Coffee Brined Chicken pairing with a no-brainer: Cauliflower Rice. I will get to the recipe later, but here are some photos from the filming at NTV7 Studio.

Setting my station for the demo.

The host for the day was Elaine Daly who has that pregnancy radiance.

Here’s me with my nervous smile. Hah

We chatted about the benefits of using coffee in cooking, and also how to properly infuse coffee flavour without rendering the dish a bitter mess. She even managed to put me on the spot so I had to sing a little bit (without properly warming up my voice…. eeps! Should be more prepared next time).

Lookie! It’s the Philips AirFryer!

The studio has a fully equipped kitchen, but frying the chicken on pan might create a little too much smoke, so I decided to bring my airfryer along for a no-mess cooking process. The cooking itself was really simple. All I needed to do was combine prepped ingredients together while waiting for the chicken to cook itself in the airfryer, then it was time to plate!

Ready to serve!

If you love the aroma of coffee, then you will enjoy this dish. The Chicken breast was bathed in the coffee mixture overnight, so the aroma really penetrated all the way. The accompanying spices add more depth to it, and the addition of sugar balances the bitterness of coffee. Of course, the brine contains salt, so this creates a balance of taste all round. It takes only about 15 minutes to put together, perfect for those with a busy lifestyle. Furthermore, this dish is Low-carb, High Protein, Paleo Friendly and Gluten Free!

I don’t have a clear close-up picture of my dish, so I took some screen caps:

Juicy Coffee Tinted Chicken Breast

If only you can smell this!

Tada! Plating a bit cacat because le nervous. But still a colourful dish.

2 Chicken Breasts
1 Shot Espresso
1 Star Anise
1 Stick Cinnamon
Pinch of Black Peppercorns, smashed
Pinch of Chili Flakes
3 Tablespoons salt
1 Teaspoon Sugar
Water (enough to cover chicken breasts)

Combine all the brining ingredients and submerge the chicken breasts in the liquid, store in the fridge overnight.

Before cooking, make sure it’s out of the fridge for at least an hour. Prep the airfryer, and set to 180degree Celsius heat. Place the chicken breast into the grill pan or basket and cook for suffficient time until just done (1 for 12 minutes, 2 for 15 minutes). If you are not using an airfryer, you can just use a frying pan and cook for roughly 5 minutes each side, depending on the size of the breasts. Set aside and rest for 2 minutes before cutting.

Cauliflower “Couscous”
200g Cauliflower, florets only
1 Small Cucumber
Handful of Cherry Tomatoes
Juice of Half Lemon
Pinch of Salt
Handful of Parsley, chopped

Blitz the cauliflower florets in a blender of food processor until rice like. You can use this raw, or cook for a minute or two to take the raw edge off. I lightly fry it with olive oil for about 2 minutes this time. Set aside until needed.

Slice the cucumber thinly, and cut the cherry tomatoes in half.

To assemble, combine cauli’rice’, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley. Sprinkle over the salt, and squeeze the lemon juice over, stir to combine. Place the sliced chicken breast on top and you are ready to serve! Enjoy this warm or room temperature.

Thank you Bella NTV7 for inviting me! I hope to do more cooking demos for you in the near future. Always a good way to challenge myself this way, and also it really does take time to get used to live TV: no room for mistakes. If you are interested to watch the program, feel free to head to http://tonton.com.my to search for the 26th Feb Episode (I just watched it and I still looked silly…. must just be my normal persona).

During the same episode Louise from Claire Organics demonstrated a few beauty tricks using ground coffee, and she was kind enough to give me some of her products. Do check out their facebook page, they have a wide range of skincare products using natural ingredients and everything is 100% chemical free. Thanks so much, I am now a fan!

Chinese New Year menu at China Treasures, KLGCC

I go to Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club on a weekly basis because I perform every Thursday (and sometimes other nights too) at one of their dining outlets, Connoisseurs Lounge & Restaurant. From time to time my band also gets invited to perform at special occasions such at CIMB Classics several moons ago. Needless to say, this is almost like a second home to me. There are several restaurants covering different cuisines at KLGCC, and you might be surprised to find out that these are all open to the public (just remember to keep up with the dresscode).

I received an invitation to dine at China Treasures and sample their Chinese New Year menu. Initially I had invited my keyboardist Vicky to come along to just eat, but as luck would have it, I received a call to replace the band that night. So as workaholics we are, we decided to do both anyway. It was my first time stepping into China Treasures and it is everything I expected: sophisticated, elegant but not over the top. The ambience is welcoming and non-pretentious. We left ourselves on the capable hands of Chef Eddie Chua and let’s take a look at the food.

Yee Sang

The Yee Sang at China Treasures is kept relatively traditional with Salmon. There are also other options such at Abalone too. After the usual chanting of auspicious phrases, we tossed our Yee Sang with gusto!

More money, more gigs, let’s make a new album!

Various forms of seafood soup is always present during Chinese New Year feast and here we were treated to a Crab Meat Soup with Braised Seafood.

Brimming with goodies!

Letting the natural sweetness of the seafood comes through, this is made perfect with just a tiny splash of vinegar. Of course everyone has their own preference but this is good enough for me to finish.

Crispy Roast Chicken prepared Two Ways

Well this is probably the most interesting dish of the night. The rectangle you see is actually fish cake wrapped with crispy chicken skin. There are almond flakes too, on the other side. Taste wise, you can tell the freshest fish is used and I just love the fun textural contrast with the smooth paste and crispy skin. Brilliant! In the middle was some black bean chicken presented in a fried vermicelli basket. It was tasty, but nothing to shout about.

Home style Steam White Cod

The cod is merely steamed to perfected and seasoned with premium soy sauce, placed on a bed of sauteed mushrooms, dressed with the usual spring onion, chili and coriander. Might be simple, but the taste is textbook perfect. Needless to say, it was the most popular dish of the night.

Braised Sea Moss Oyster Rolls with Sliced Abalone and Wheat Gluten.

Almost every restaurant serves this dish for their Chinese New Year menu. Why Broccoli? It isn’t really a Chinese vegetable to begin with. But anyway, I wouldn’t say no to some healthy greens. The Oyster rolls themselves are tasty though, with substantial pieces of whole dried oysters encased with fish paste.

Sauted Crystal Prawns with Hot & Sour Sauce.

The Chinese direct translation for this dish is actually Prawns with “Strange taste”, haha. I guess that probably would scare a few people. But strange taste it was not, the hot and sour (and slightly sweet) notes would appeal to many. Bonus for perfectly cooked prawns with its bouncy texture.

X.O Fried Rice with Seafood

X.O. sauce is always good with carbs and here the fried rice is made decadent with the addition of scallops. Very hearty.

Hot Soy Bean with White Fungus, Lotus Seed and Ginkgo Nuts.

Finishing our feast on a sweet note, the soy bean we were told is homemade. I can’t say I have had this preparation before, although white fungus is commonly seen in Chinese sweet tong sui. This is as comforting as it sounds and nourishing too, especially for us women.

The CNY set menu is available now until the 8th of March. Options of 6 pax and 10 pax, pricing ranges from RM1102.88 to the most premium Wealth Prosperity menu at RM4740.88. Place your reservation now for a wonderful gathering with your loved ones.

China Treasures:
Monday – Sunday
11:30am – 2:30pm
6:30pm – 10:30pm
+603-2093 4688
Email: chinatreasures.klgcc@simedarby.com

Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC)
No. 10, Jalan 1/70D,
Off Jalan Bukit Kiara,
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-2011 9188
Fax: 603-2011 9288

Paleo Chicken Stew

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, and I do apologize. Like I mentioned in my last post for Fish stew, I went through a phase cooking various types of stew. And of these, Chicken appeared the most often. Even though I have kitchen gadget (looking at you, Mr Pressure Cooker) that can save me a lot of time, I still prefer the traditional method of slowly searing the chicken, and then slowly simmer it to extract flavours proper from all the ingredients. I guess I’ve mentioned it previous this is rather therapeutic for me, especially when I’m on a day off after a few shows in a row. Even better when the result looks like this:

Paleo Chicken Stew

There are many variations you can make with a chicken stew, and I usually just dig out whatever I have in my fridge. The basic mirepoix (carrot, celery and onion) is quite essential in this recipe, but the rest of the vegetables can be anything: zucchini, capsicum, green beans, eggplant, tomato; whatever rocks your boat. Tesco delivery sent me a massive bag of garlic the other day, so I decided to throw 2 whole garlic (merely cut in half lengthways) in my stew. If that scares you, let me reassure you that after cooking for a long time, garlic becomes super mushy and sweet. It also lends the same sweetness into the broth. Really delicious stuff.

Kelly Style Paleo Chicken Stew Recipe:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks Celery, cut into bite-size pieces
1 Carrot, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces
3 strips Streaky Bacon, sliced
1 small Onion, chopped
2 Whole Garlic, cut into halves (of course, feel free to cut the amount)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
200ml Chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Paprika
500g Chicken Drumsticks (about 6)
2 Tomatoes, diced
100g Green Beans, cut into 2 inch piece
1 teaspoon tapioca starch (Optional, can use Potato starch too or just add Plain flour in the beginning)
Handful of Parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat a non-stick pan and sear the chicken drumsticks until brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add olive oil and sauté celery, carrot, onion for few minutes, then add the garlic, followed by dried oregano, paprika, tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf and chicken stock. Bring to simmer and put the chicken drumsticks back in. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the cooking liquid has reduced to a stew consistency, add green beans, remove the bay leaf, and cook for further 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. And as an optional step thicken with some tapioca starch mixed with water. Serve warm as it is, or with bread (rice is good too, if you swing that way).

Mmmm so good!

The reason I love using drumsticks for this is that it’s super forgiving and super easy to achieve tenderness. You can of course use thighs too which is about the same, and if you use chicken breasts, cut the cooking time so it doesn’t go stringy. Love the natural sweetness extracted from all the vegetables, and the slight tang from the tomatoes. The tender chicken and mushy garlic is so comforting, while the green beans provided a much needed crunch.

Nom!

I enjoyed mine as it is, but feel free to pair yours with bread, rice, or even pasta! It’s as versatile as it can get. Ok, now I must sign off and get practising for my next show!