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Friday, 24 March 2017

Bentoya @ Sunway Velocity

This was my first trip to Sunway Velocity Mall since it opened in December last year even though it's very close to where I live.  First impression.....meh! >_<  There are some malls you'll like instantly...and there are those that you won't...and this mall was one of those (the latter, I mean).

The parking is really huge and confusing but, luckily, they provide this extra service of ferrying you to and from your car (for people who get lost or parked too far away from the entrances to the mall) in some kind of golf buggy! ;)

Although there are a lot of eating places here, a look at their directory will soon reveal that most are the same old, same old places you'd find in other shopping malls...and, worst still, you'd probably have eaten in at least half of them already.  Nothing stood out, none excited me...and that's not a very good start.

If you're looking for some premium eateries or new and exciting dining options, you'll be sorely disappointed as there aren't very many.  In  the end, we settled for Bentoya @ Sunway Velocity as our first eating stop here. The place is quite small, so expect small tables and cramped spaces.

From the name of the place, it's quite obvious what their signature offering here is.....it's called Bento...Ya! ;P

So our first order was the Curry Soft Shell Crab Bento @ RM26 that comes with a fried soft shell crab (of course), Japanese curry, edamame, kimuchi (Japanese kimchi) and an egg.

There's nothing to fault the crispy fried soft shell crab as it was a pretty huge one with a fair bit of roe too.  I absolutely adore soft shell crab.  Who wouldn't? ;)  It's a crab with no shells to get at...and you can devour the entire thing with ease! ^.^

I guess, besides the soft shell crab, I was attracted by the Japanese curry which I've never ordered at a Japanese restaurant before and I thought it was high time I tried.  The first thing that hit me was the flavour of curry powder (a bit like Indian curry but a lot milder) followed by the thickness of the curry like the texture of a roux or some kind of stew.  The cooked down potatoes and carrots probably added to the thickness of the curry and brought some sweetness with it too.  If you like curries to be slightly on the sweet side and not spicy at all, then you'd probably enjoy Japanese curries.  I didn't particularly like it but I didn't dislike it either. I wouldn't jump at ordering it again if I see it on the menu...once in a while is alright!  I guess nothing can beat my love for our local curry that's savoury, spicy and laden with coconut milk yumminess.

An egg (with a soft, almost runny yolk), edamame and kimuchi rounds up the bento.  I don't eat Korean kimchi (coz I dislike it immensely), so this Japanese version of kimchi is wasted on me (I'd rather have any other Japanese pickled vegetable).

#Side Story:
I actually don't eat bentos all that much coz I'm freaked out by the idea that the bento box may not be cleaned properly.  Especially so when confronted with some unsightly bento boxes that are tarnished or have seen better days.  I, myself, have tupperwares that are compartmentalised which I use to "tapau" chap fan where you get the benefit of separating your rice from all your dishes.  The problem was, when it came to washing, the nooks and crannies of the compartments are very difficult to clean.  Most times, I have to wash it at least three times (or more) just to get all the oil stains out...and I know restaurants won't bother when they're very busy.  That's why I have this phobia of eating out of bento boxes...haha! ;P  But this bento place is fairly new, so the boxes would at least be in better shape now than later.

We also had a Salmon Teppanyaki @ RM28 with stir-fried vegetables and sweet corn.  When it arrived though, it didn't look like the picture in the menu at all.  That one showed a whole piece (as in one piece!) of a fairly thick cut of salmon.  What we got instead were three thin slices of salmon.  Of course, in terms of value, we weren't shortchanged...three thin slices for one thick cut.  Only problem was, thin slices of salmon also meant they'd be overcooked and dry.

The price is inclusive of a serving of miso soup and rice.

Drinks of Pineapple Juice @ RM8 and Iced White Coffee @ RM10.

Besides bento boxes and teppanyaki, they serve ramen too...and there's a very spicy one called Hell Ramen (RM23).  But inflicting 'torture' on myself isn't my idea of fun or a good eat...hell no! :O  Be warned that the place is a bit stuffy, so eating a spicy (and hot) ramen may not be the wisest decision! ;)

My Personal Opinion

With over 40 varieties of bento at affordable prices (and many of them costing under RM30), I'm sure you'll be able to find one that suits you.  

Taste-wise, it wasn't half bad, just quite ordinary, so leave your high expectations at the door.  But it should still suffice if you're looking for a quick meal of bento with a bit of everything.

For me, I'll probably not be back for a long while as it wasn't enticing enough.  If I'm at this mall again, I'd want to try something else! ^_~

Bentoya
4-03 Sunway Velocity Mall
Lingkaran SV Sunway Velocity
55100 Kuala Lumpur

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Secret Garden #6 - Watering Can

Oh dear, looks like I've neglected my colouring for a while as it has been 3 months since my last piece, Wishing Well.  Since I enjoyed the free-hand aspect of that non-symmetrical piece, I chose another similar non-symmetrical artwork to colour next.

Blank Canvas

Work in Progress #1

Work in Progress #2

Work in Progress #3

Since it's about a Watering Can, I thought I'd keep it simple and go with two primary colours....shades of blue (to depict water) and shades of green (for the leaves).

Work in Progress #4

Since the whole piece uses predominantly just two colours, I made sure I coloured the some of the insects and flowers in brighter colours to add a splash of colour to the piece to make it pop....just a little! ^.^

And my second non-symmetrical piece called Watering Can is completed!

Hmmm....this isn't my finest hour, erm, I mean finest piece! :'(  I think I've put my pencils down for far too long...and lost a bit of inspiration, perhaps? >_<

 Well, I better scurry along to my next piece then! *_~

Monday, 20 March 2017

#ewew cooks Seared Scallops & Sugar Snap Peas in Salted Egg Yolk Sauce

After cooking Seared Scallops & Prawns in Garlic Butter the other day, I still had half the scallops left which I didn't want to keep for too long so as to ensure it's eaten at its optimum freshness.  Though these were frozen scallops, they tasted decently fresh with no fishy smell whatsoever.

So, I thought I'd make Seared Scallops & Sugar Snap Peas in Salted Egg Yolk Sauce.  Initially, I wanted to pair it with grilled asparagus as we all know that scallops and asparagus is a classic combo but when I saw how costly one packet of thick asparagus (about 10 stalks) was (they were RM23!) and pencil thin ones just won't do, I decided to look for an alternative.

The dish was inspired by what I had at WhupWhup (that cost RM35 a year ago) which I remembered enjoying very much.  I googled for recipes on how to make the salted egg yolk sauce and realised it was actually quite simple...you just need salted egg yolks, cream or milk and sugar.

Ingredients:

10 scallops
2 salted egg yolks
1 packet sugar snap peas (about 20)
2 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp water
A little flour (for dredging)
Salt & freshly cracked black pepper
A pinch of sugar
Olive oil (for frying)

Preparation:

Wash the scallops and pat them really dry (don't bother with removing the adductor muscles).  Place them on a paper towel and keep them refrigerated until you're ready to cook.

Prep the sugar snap peas as you would french beans by discarding the stem end and removing the string from each sugar snap pea.

Crack the salted eggs and make sure you discard all the whites.  The whites will be sticky, so your hands will be the best tool to pull them away from the yolks.

Method:

Cook the salted egg yolks by steaming them for about 10 minutes.

Mash them up as finely as you can with a fork.  The end result will be a sauce that's more coarse.  If you want a smoother sauce (like a puree), you can blitz it up in a blender (you might want to do that if you're serving it to guests).

Blanch the sugar snap peas in salted boiling water for no more than a minute.  This will ensure it stays crunchy to the bite.  Fish them out and sprinkle some salt and black pepper over them.

Season the scallops with salt and freshly cracked black pepper (at the very last second) just before they go into the pan.  

Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat to sear the scallops.  This time, I decided to dredge the top and bottom of each scallop with a light dusting of flour.  Don't crowd the scallops in the pan otherwise they'll end up steaming instead of searing.  Fry them in batches if you have to if you're using a small pan (like I did).  Flip them over once you see a nice golden crust developing.  It should take about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes on each side. It's better to under cook the scallops as overcooking will make them rubbery.  

Because some browned bits had formed at the bottom of the pan, I decided to rinse the pan and scrape away those bits (lesson learnt from past experience) if I want my sauce to look good.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and 2 tbsp of butter into the pan over low heat as we want the butter to just melt, not brown.

Once the butter has melted, add in the mashed egg yolks and stir.  At this point, most recipes would ask you to add milk or cream (but since I have neither and I don't do dairy), I added 2 tbsp of water instead to thin out the sauce just a little.

Sprinkle a pinch of sugar to add a hint of sweetness to the sauce.  The salted egg yolks are plenty salty, so I don't think any salt is needed (though some might beg to differ, so it's your preference if you want to add a pinch).  Keep stirring until you see the sauce bubbling and that's when you know it's ready.

Time to plate up.  Spoon a dollop of sauce for each of the scallop to sit in, interspersed with the blanched sugar snap peas.  And there you have it....my Seared Scallops & Sugar Snap Peas in Salted Egg Yolk Sauce.

It looks not bad I have to say but I was itching to make a prettier presentation...like a restaurant-quality one, so I dabbled with it and came up with this.

Can, ah?  Did I put my knowledge (from watching all those cooking competitions like Masterchef and Top Chef) to good use?....hahaha! :D  And one of the latest trends is for the sauce to be smeared (which I didn't do a very good job of) and for the food to occupy just one side of the plate! ;)

The juicy and slightly sweet scallops tasted great eaten with the rich and creamy salted egg yolk sauce.  The sauce may look a bit coarse and grainy but it tastes fantastic (+ I kinda appreciate a bit of texture in my sauce).  For better presentation, you may want to puree it for a smoother consistency.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well the salted egg yolk sauce turned out...and how easy it was to make it. I'm already thinking of more dishes I can make with this sauce.

I noticed that the scallops developed a really nice crisp crust this time because of the light dredging of flour. It also didn't stick to the pan so I was able to get a nice sear and I could taste the lovely grilled flavour too.

Pairing it with a cheaper alternative of sugar snap peas works just as well.  They not only brought some colour to the dish but provided the crunchy element and fulfilled the necessary 'green' component of the dish as well.

Scallops are actually quite easy to prepare.  And you don't have to make a complicated sauce.  Simply seared in olive oil (and finished with some butter), it'll taste great with a squeeze of lemon.

One word.....yum!  Just look at that scallop (up close and personal).....can anything be more delectable?  I wonder if I'd be lucky enough to get more scallops in the future as a gift. Praying hard, fingers & toes crossed? ^_~

Serves 2 (as a starter) or 1 (as a light meal)

Friday, 17 March 2017

Flingstones @ Subang Jaya

After a few satisfying visits in the past (some of which I wrote about here), it was back again to Flingstones @ Subang Jaya for our brunch venue of choice one late Sunday morning with family.  Walking in, the interior looks a bit more cramped than I remembered because it looked as if more tables have been added, so business must be good.

A quick glance at the menu revealed that there hasn't been a major uplift in terms of new dishes in their (now laminated) menu though there has been an uplift in prices in most of the dishes!  All the previous favourites are still there with just a few very minor additions.

Our first order of the morning was the Big Bang Breakfast @ RM28 that came fully-loaded with three strips of pork bacon, a giant sausage, two cooked eggs (scrambled or sunny side up), sauteed mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, two pieces of crispy hash browns (in replacement of the potato rosti previously), baked beans (taken up a notch) cooked with onions, fresh greens and a slice of toast.

Now this big breakfast platter is big on variety...and even bigger on value.  It's built for one-very-hungry person or two-light-eaters can share which will warrant no complaints from any diner.  Absolutely loved the well-browned bacon, perfectly cooked scrambled eggs, sauteed mushrooms and cooked beans.  It still remains as one my top favoured big breakfast platters till today.

Next came the Babi Fried Rice @ RM20 which smelled of fragrant "wok hei" and filled with three types of porkilicious stuff of "chu ya char" (crispy pork lard bits), two long strips of pork bacon and "lap cheong" (Chinese dried sausage) bits.  The only difference was this....my favourite century egg was missing and its place just an ordinary (and cheaper) fried egg...and, worse still, it came with an increased price! >.<

As if there weren't enough carbs for the day, we went for even more carbs with the Porky Fat Rice XL @ RM23 which contained "not too lemak" coconut milk infused carbs (of course) and mama's rempah pork belly with condiments of hard-boiled egg, crispy ikan bilis, kacang, sauteed kangkung, fresh cucumber slices and their signature oink-oink sambal.  Can it hold a candle to (say) the more authentic Malay-style nasi lemak? Certainly not...but, then again, you wouldn't have been able to have it with pork either, so.... ;)

Our final dish of Babi Berempah Pasta @ RM25 is probably one of their new additions as I didn't see it on the menu the last time I was there.  It featured spaghetti served with pork belly berempah topped with tobiko and a side of mango salsa.  

The babi berempah is the exact same one you'd get with the Porky Fat Rice, so I wouldn't label this one as something totally new on the menu but just a variation of what they have.  This time, however, I noticed that the pork belly wasn't quite the thickly cut ones we had previously but a much thinner cut (that was so lean, it didn't even look like pork belly) thereby rendering the meat drier and a little tougher.  No mention was made of the sauce (in the menu) but it tasted something like a spiced up Thousand Island sauce to me.

If you're wondering where's the mango salsa (that was stated in their menu), I was too.  We (unfortunately) didn't get a mango salsa but what I felt was a cheaper alternative of a tomato and onion salsa.  Actually, I'm not an advocate of restaurants changing or substituting an ingredient on the dish (than what was originally listed in the menu) as it makes me feel that I'm getting something inferior or a cheaper alternative.  After all, it's the restaurant's responsibility to get their ingredients prepped (correctly) and ready to go when their doors open and, in this case, mango is not an ingredient that's hard to get, so I don't see why it has to be substituted. Unfortunately, this scenario is nothing new as I've experienced this many times.  If it's an imported ingredient that's difficult to get here, I'd probably be more understanding but I also think restaurants need to learn common courtesy to (at least) let us know, apologise or ask if we'd mind when they plan to replace a certain ingredient.  That way we won't feel like we were 'shortchanged'! >_<

We like the coffees here.....and our usual would be Iced Hazelnut Latte @ RM15 and Iced Latte @ RM13.

My Personal Opinion

I'm glad they've kept up with the taste of the food (the Big Bang Breakfast is still banging) as the place still delivers for us in that respect although there were a couple of dishes (with increased prices) that came with some minor 'enhancements' which I wasn't exactly fond of and weren't necessarily for the better unfortunately (in my opinion).

I guess we can't run away from price hikes as things are getting more expensive by the day.  Overall, the prices here have increased by about 10% - 20% since my last visit.  A consolation, at least, is that this place continues to not charge the 10% + 6% although, if you look at it from another angle, the 16% is now factored into the increased prices already! :P

Flingstones Cafe
24 Jalan SS15/8
47500 Subang Jaya
Selangor
Tel: 03-5879 9468

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Just One Food - Nyonya Acar Fish

Every time we eat at Yut Kee @ Jalan Kamunting, there's always a queuing system (for your table) where you leave your name at the counter (with the owner's son), state the number of persons dining and wait for your name to be called.

So, while waiting, I sometimes wander around and there's this stall outside Yut Kee where I've noticed an elderly lady selling foodstuff.  One day, out of curiosity, I dropped by her stall just to see what she has to offer.

You'll see some newspaper clippings (in Chinese) hung around her stall and, judging from the pictures, I assume she must be well-known for her glutinous rice dumplings (or "chung").  Even her name card bears the picture of a dumpling! ^_*

So, I bought some to try.  Her "Chung" or Glutinous Rice Dumpling cost RM6 a piece.  Her chung is more nyonya style with no beans, bits of dried prawns, mushroom, salted egg yolk (which wasn't top quality), pork belly and a tiny piece of dried scallop.

Though the glutinous rice was soft, it seemed a lot starchier probably because it felt very compact without any beans.  I'd say this is just an edible chung as I've had the privilege of eating better rice dumplings than this.

But then the "Acar Hu" (Nyonya Acar Fish/Nyonya Pickled Fish) @ RM12, which caught my attention, was a different story altogether.  I can't remember if my mom ever made this acar fish (she probably did but then I probably wouldn't like this kind of sour dishes when I was young) but I certainly remember eating these small fishes fried till crispy perfection (and devouring everything from head to tail).  It's sad that we don't see this sold, make this or get to eat this often enough these days and by that I mean delicious, simple, deep-fried crispy small fishes that evoke memories of our childhood.  I guess as our standard of living goes up, cheap fishes like these have become a 'tradition' of the past in a time where everyone (children especially) favour the less bones, thick cuts and easy-to-eat fish fillet.

Anyway, back to this...this dish is usually made with "chee ya hu"/ikan belanak/silver mullet though it can be substituted with some other types of fish too.  Some use small fourfinger threadfin/ikan senangin/"ma yau" or mackerel/kembong.

One packet of Nyonya Acar Fish has 4 whole fish (sometimes 5 depending on the size of the fish) and this looks like mullet to me.

I googled how this dish was made though I've never attempted to make it myself.  Too much work, I'd rather just buy it....haha! :D

The acar fish is made by first deep-frying the fish until golden and crispy.

Then turmeric is fried with oil until the oil becomes yellow (and the turmeric discarded).  Ginger, garlic, onions and red and green chillies are then added to the oil and fried till fragrant.  I especially liked the garlic slices and crisp fried ginger. ^.^

Finally water, Chinese rice vinegar and seasoning are added and brought to a boil.  This sauce is then poured over fish and left to pickle overnight in the marinade.

According to the lady seller, it actually tastes better as time goes by and I can certainly understand why as the flavours come together the longer it sits in the marinade.  I can eat this with just plain rice and I'd be very happy! ;)

If you enjoy things sourish and don't mind fish with bones, you may like this.  Actually, the fish is fried till so crispy that almost everything is edible (except the centre bone) though it may not seem to taste all that crispy since it's been steeping in acar sauce.

The other foodstuff I noticed at her stall were "acar kiam hoo" (acar ikan masin/pickled salted fish), bottled cincalok, sambal belacan, dried shrimp sambal and some others.

She also sells kuih kosui rolled in freshly grated coconut.  Hers are brown in colour, so they're gula melaka-flavoured (this kuih also comes in green for pandan-flavoured ones).

So, the next time you head to Yut Kee for a dose of Hainanese chicken chop, you might just want to check out the stall outside.  I've bought this Nyonya Acar Fish twice already...and enjoyed it both times (though it was better the first time, maybe because of the deep-fried ginger and the fish was more well-fried...hehe!) ^o^

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