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Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Bo All Day Dining @ The Linc KL

It has been a week since the Movement Control Order was enforced in an effort to stem out the deadly Covid-19 virus that has engulfed the world.  All of us are looking forward to the MCO being lifted so that we can get back some normalcy in our lives.  But as days pass without a significant drop in cases, the possibility of the MCO being lifted seems remote.  Chances are we'd probably see an extension of the dreaded MCO. Looks like I (and my family) have to endure more of my cooking!  I miss dining out...haiz! :'( 

So, let's reminisce what it felt like eating out...which seems like a distant past now.  We were at Bo All Day Dining @ The Linc KL...not recently (of course) but during the Christmas period with family members for a celebration of some sort.  I thought I wasn't going to write about this dining experience since I've already written a post on the place before...but the rather encouraging pageviews for the earlier post made me change my mind and convinced me otherwise.

When we were given the menu for our orders, we realised it wasn't their usual menu but a condensed one.  I guess the restaurant went with a condensed menu to limit the choices to allow the kitchen to focus on less dishes to better manage the crowd of diners expected over the super busy Christmas & New Year period. Some restaurants do that, so it's best to check before you head out to a restaurant during such periods...but it was too late for us, we came in three separate cars and we had already paid parking fees x 3...and were already seated at their signature 'bird cage' dining table by then. >_<

Since this was my sister-in-law's treat, I'm not exactly sure about the prices (as I also can't remember some of them) + some of the dishes on their condensed menu also showcased a different pricing for the festive period.  So, the prices you see here are taken off their menu in their Facebook which may not necessarily be the correct prices on that day.

Let's begin with the Truffle Fries @ RM22 (festive price was RM33 if I remembered correctly) with a light sprinkle of truffle shavings and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  This was one expensive fries just because of the truffle shavings (which looked like finely crushed seaweed!) but it was so scant you can hardly taste truffles at all.

The first time I was here I really wanted to try their signature roast chicken but it was sold out.  I wasn't going to miss out on their signature dish this time.  We ordered the Bo's Signature Rotisserie Roast Chicken @ RM75 (festive price was something like RM89 or RM98).  A whole chicken ideally can feed up to four smallish eaters but two with a ferrocious appetite can also devour it easily.

I suppose the increased pricing is warranted for this dish since it came with four sides instead of the usual two deli side salads.  There were thick-cut fries and an orecchiette (or sea shell-shaped) pasta with apples and little cubes of feta cheese (which I thought were tofu cubes initially) tossed in mayo.

There was also a coleslaw of fresh greens of purple cabbage, carrot, arugula & salad leaves and white rice with a sprinkle of fried shallots on top.

For the sauces, there were chicken jus (in the little pitcher), basil mint pestogarlic aioli and a final one that tasted like mushroom sauce.

Their roast chicken, supposedly brined and air dried for 24 hours before being slow roasted in their rotisserie oven, was tender though not particularly outstanding in taste.  You need to eat it with the chicken jus for a tastier bite.

The Smoked Duck Spaghetti @ RM34 had tender, smoked duck slices with sun-dried tomatoes, caramelised onions and fresh arugula.  The flavour of this one was quite nice and the the fresh arugula was a welcome addition to provide some freshness to the dish.

The Beef Ragu Pasta @ RM32 was ok with bits of beef in a classic tomato sauce.  The spiral-shaped pasta, like fusilli (not tagliatelle as per their menu), was the perfect vehicle to trap the meat sauce in its grooves. What's with the thick slices of grana padano? >_<  Shouldn't they be thin savings of cheese for a better bite? My sister-in-law left them on the plate.

The Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pizza @ RM35 was supposed to have Jamaican jerk flavours of sweet and spicy Caribbean sauce with jerk chicken, onion, red and green capsicum, coriander and mozzarella but it tasted like an ordinary tomato-based pizza and the toppings were a bit scant.  It did come with a nice char on the pizza though since they're cooked in a wood-fired oven.  I think, because this was served last, it got cold before we got to it, so it was the least appreciated dish of all.

I remember liking the Pan-Seared Red Snapper on an earlier visit, so I chose the Jerk Spiced Malabar Red Snapper @ RM48 (RM53 festive price, this price I remembered clearly as it was my dish.  It was served with some spice-tinged, lightly roasted vegetables of broccoli, cauliflower, okra and cloud ear fungus.

If the red snapper fillets were indeed marinated in jerk spices, it was hardly noticeable but the fish texture was still very tender and flaky.  The sauce (which I believe was some kind of a turmeric-infused cream sauce based on the colour) ended up to be the star component which brought the whole dish together as the sauce was commendable.  The dish I ordered turned out to be my favourite of the night (and luckily so since three of us chose the same dish).

My Personal Opinion

I'm glad I finally got to try their signature rotisserie chicken which turned out satisfyingly tender, decently juicy though not particularly outstanding.  I was hoping for a bit more charring on the skin to bring out its smoky flavour and the chicken needed the chicken jus to bring out its flavour as it was under-seasoned.

But the two red snapper dishes (I had on both visits) are probably the ones I wouldn't mind having again, one for its fresh and citrusy flavours, the other for its bright, appealing sauce.

The gorgeous interior is undeniable, possibly even a little intimate, with great spots for photos, but it can be a little cold, so make sure you dress suitably for this purpose.

Bo All Day Dining
Lot 1-10 & 1-11 The Linc
No 360 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 017-211 2842

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

#ewew cooks Braised Nam Yue Pork Ribs with White Radish

Remember I once said that cooking for a Chinese New Year reunion makan is not the right time to dabble in a dish that you've not cooked before in case it doesn't turn out as expected.  Well, I didn't heed my own advice...and did that this year.

I got the inspiration to cook this dish of Braised Nam Yue Pork Ribs with White Radish from an episode of Home Dining that I watched, the recipe which I tweaked and simplified, of course.  White radish goes by many names....daikon, pak lo bak, Chinese radish, white carrot, icicle radish or Chinese turnip...and nam yue is red fermented bean curd.

Ingredients:

1 kg pork ribs, yields about 10 - 12 pcs cut into 3-inch lengths
3 pcs of red fermented bean curd cubes, mashed with 3 tbsp of the liquid 
1 large radish, roughly cut into pieces
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
2 red chillies, deseeded & sliced
10 dried mini scallops, soaked in a little water
10 cloves of garlic, peeled but leave whole
A knob of ginger, sliced thickly
Sesame oil, for searing the ribs

Preparation:

Mash 3 pcs of red fermented bean curd cubes together with 3 tbsp of the reddish liquid.  These fermented bean curd cubes are salty in nature, so I started with 3 pcs (as they looked like rather big pieces to me) since we don't know how salty they are.  It's always good to start with less and tweak it later coz once it's too salty, it's too far gone and will be difficult to turn it around.

Rub the pork ribs with this paste and leave it to marinate for a few hours (or overnight) in the fridge to infuse the flavours into the meat.

Get ready the rest of the ingredients of radish, onions, tomatoes, dried scallops, garlic, ginger and chillies.

Method:

Saute the whole garlic cloves (don't worry, these will break down through braising later) and thick slices of ginger (to be fished out later when the dish is done) in some sesame oil till fragrant.

Add the marinated pork ribs to sear lightly.  The cook actually used anka which is some kind of homemade red yeast wine I was made to understand.  It looked a lot like nam yue (to me), so I substituted the ingredient and used that instead.

Add all the other ingredients in....radish, tomatoes, onions, chillies and the dried mini scallops (together with the water that the scallops were soaked in).  Pour the rest of the marinade (left from marinating the ribs) in as well.  Top up the pot with water to at least submerge the ribs (I added about 300 ml).  You can use some Shaoxing wine if you like it a little boozy, after all the chef used beer for the braising liquid + the red fermented bean paste also contains hints of rice wine.  Do note that there'll be a bit of scum from the pork ribs once the pot starts boiling since the ribs weren't steeped in hot water beforehand.  You can choose to skim it off or not be bothered at all as it'll be hardly noticeable because it's a sauce and not a soup.

Braise everything for 50 minutes to 1 hour (stirring once in a while) until the sauce thickens and ribs and radish are relatively soft.  I followed the chef and put everything in all at once but forgot that he cooked it for only half an hour.  I braised mine for longer (as I'm paranoid that the ribs will not be tender enough), so the radish became soft after half an hour of cook time.  I'd recommend that you either put the radish in later (if you wish to braise your ribs for longer) or cut them up into bigger chunks (a point to remember when I cook this again).  I had no choice but to fish out the radish chunks first (to be added back later) so that they don't go overly soft (though I don't mind them that way either).

By the end of the cooking, the sauce would have reduced and thickened (check that the seasoning is right at this point by adding salt or more nam yue).  I like mine a little less salty, so the seasoning was just right.  The garlic cloves were terrifically softened though they still held their shape.  I couldn't help but use my spatula to mash them up...ooo, garlicky goodness! ^.^

And this was my first attempt at making Braised Nam Yue Pork Ribs with White Radish.  I think it was pretty successful other than the boo-boo of adding the radish too early.  The pork ribs were really tender and if you enjoy the flavours of nam yue (in dishes like fried nam yue pork belly, nam yue fried chicken or loh hon chai), this would most likely appeal to you too.

I love the extremely soft radish chunks even more than the ribs...but that's just me coz radish is one of the things I love to eat especially if they're braised in stews (beef & radish stew comes to mind) or in soups (like radish & carrot soup with white peppercorns). ^o^

The sauce was sufficiently thick and exceptionally moreish.  I wasn't expecting the sauce to thicken so nicely but the softened onions and mashed garlic together with the disintegrated tomatoes and dried scallops contributed to the sauce thickening to a great extent.  Sauces thickened by natural ingredients (and not the use of starch of some sort) are always more pleasant to eat.

My Braised Nam Yue Pork Ribs with White Radish in my easy-to-transport and keep-warm pot, packed and ready for transportation to my sister-in-law's house.

Also ready to go were my roasted chicken wingettes.....

.....and drumettes.  And these were my two contributed dishes for this year's reunion makan.

This is a good dish to cook for Chinese New Year because of the symbolic reddish colour due to the use of red fermented bean curd.  It's easy to cook as it's pretty much a one-pot dish.  It keeps really well (in fact the flavours improve over time), so it can be made ahead of time and carried to your makan venue and reheated (good as a potluck contribution too).

This recipe is a keeper.  The next time I cook this again, maybe I could make it an even more complete all-in-one meal by throwing in some extra ingredients like dried Chinese mushrooms and hard-boiled eggs.  Sounds good, eh? ^_~

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Hee Lai Ton @ Shaw Parade

We were invited to a celebration of some sort by a cousin (on my husband's side) which fell during Chinese New Year (CNY), so it was a double celebration or, more specifically, a 2-in-1 kind of makan.

I've been to Hee Lai Ton @ Shaw Parade before but it has been for dim sum in the mornings only...and I remember it to be good.  So, this was the first time I'm trying their CNY set meals.  Since this was an invite, I may not have gotten the names of the dishes 100% right though I did see a leaflet showing the various CNY set meals at their front desk (but our host did chop and change some of the dishes in the menu).

As with any CNY meal, it always starts with...what else.....but a Yee Sang dish, of course....and this was a Salmon Yee Sang.

I noticed a pair of extra long chopsticks on the table for the tossing ritual....oh, how nice.  I've never been presented with exceptionally long chopsticks just for tossing yee sang, so it was extra useful for that purpose.

Toss, toss, toss.....to wealth and prosperity for the coming year :)

The next two dishes arrived simultaneously right after we were done with the yee sang....a soup and a plate of Spanish Iberico pork chops with a side dish of ice plant.

The soup (which was apportioned for us) I believe was the Four Treasures Soup since it contained at least four treasures...of silkie (or black) chicken, mini abalone, dried scallops and Chinese mushrooms together with dried Chinese cabbage.  This soup was excellent...I absolutely loved the depth of flavour + it didn't have those herbal undertones that you'd associate with most silkie chicken soups.  It was one of the better soups I've had in a long time.  I had my husband's portion too since he doesn't like soups and maybe even an extra bowl...who's counting? ^o^  I didn't care if I'd be too full for the other dishes.

The Spanish Iberico Pork Chop were mostly tender slices of pork with a peppery hint in its seasoning.  It was topped with some kind of sauce that looked like gremolata.  Some of the fatty parts were slightly chewy though.  There's also a special house-made chilli sauce if you wish to dip your pork in for a bit of spice and tang.

The pork chop was served with a salad of (Crystalline) Ice Plant along with fresh cherry tomatoes in roasted sesame dressing.  It's probably so named because of its frosted look...especially the ice crystals on the stems.  I've heard of this ice vegetable before (which is quite the rage now) but this was my first time having it.  It was served chilled and had a crunchy and juicy bite to it.  So refreshing....loved it to bits!  And the bowl looked like it was made from some kind of dough...and can be eaten.  Not that anyone tried. :D

Next up was the fish dish.  I'm not sure exactly what fish it was as the waitress uttered it in Chinese...but I only managed to 'catch' two of the three words...loong and pan, so I assumed it was dragon tiger grouper. But the name on the menu was Steamed Brown Marbled Grouper with Black Fungus & Beancurd Sheet in Superior Soy SauceI read somewhere that the dragon tiger grouper is a cross between the giant grouper and the brown marbled grouper.  Groupers are one of the most difficult to differentiate as there are so many hybrids being farmed in Malaysia.  Like any grouper, it has sweet, firm flesh with a delicate texture. The collagen-rich skin though was a tad too thick for my liking (even if it's supposed to do wonders for my skin)! ;D  And, surprise, surprise, the fish was served already cut up too (just like in phonghong's reunion dinner)...maybe because the skin may be difficult to get at.

I believe this was their Signature Prawn with Garlic (since the only other prawn dish on the menus was Ying Yang Prawns which would be prawns done two ways).  The sauce coating the pan-fried prawns was very tasty...lightly creamy, mildly sweet, slightly garlicky and tangy which made sucking the prawn heads that much more moreish.  It was a bit unusual to find the prawns served on a bed of fries though for a Chinese-style dish.  I suppose it's better to have prawns sitting on something you can eat other than something decorative in nature.

The vegetable component of our meal was a simple stir-fry of Baby Bok Choy Stir-Fry in Superior Stock. What elevated this simple bok choy dish, with garlic slices, dried prawns and dried wolfberries, was the accompanying stock that came with the vegetable.  The flavourful stock was delicious enough for you to want to drink it like soup.

As with any Chinese meal, it usually ends with rice and I was glad our host replaced it with something other than waxed meat rice (which was on all the set menus).  I will call this Seafood Fried Rice with Ebiko since the fried rice had prawns and crab meat in it.  This was an excellent fried rice because the rice was well fried and then there was the burst of crunch provided by the ebiko but as I took more spoonfuls of the rice, I realised the crunch came from something more.  Initially, I thought it was those tiny fried silver fish but it didn't have that saltish aftertaste.  It was only when writing this (and taking a closer look at the photo I took, the lights were too dim at the restaurant) that I realised they were some kind of crispy puffed rice. That crunchy texture made the fried rice so much more scrumptious.  I'd usually be full by the time the rice dish emerges but I wasn't going to give up on this delicious fried rice...I had seconds...hee..hee. ^.^

A sweet ending of Chilled Sea Coconut with Longan & Peach Gum ended our meal on a high.  I'm usually not a fan of a chilled sea coconut dessert but I did enjoy the inclusion of peach gum (with a jelly-like consistency that's actually the resin secreted from the bark of the Chinese peach tree) in this tong sui.

Of course, let's not forget a little one's first birthday, we had a chocolaty cake...what else but a Mickey Mouse cake in the Year of the Rat.

My Personal Opinion

Hee Lai Ton is a long established name that's probably more well-known to the older generation before us. Judging from the crowd, it's obvious their reputation (and taste) has not faded over the years (though, at times, their service may be slightly wanting).  We occupied a private room with two tables and we didn't experience any lack of service that day.

There wasn't a dish I didn't like...but my favourite dish had to be the Four Treasures Soup (I've not had soup that good for a long time) followed by the fried rice and steamed fish...and the ice plant too.

The place may be an old classic (so look beyond the old-fashioned decor and ambience) but they still dish out good food.  Certainly wouldn't mind returning for more meals! ^.^

Hee Lai Ton Restaurant (Pudu)
3rd Floor Shaw Parade
Jalan Changkat Thambi Dollah
Off Jalan Pudu
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2148 8666

Monday, 17 February 2020

A Reunion At Home

For the second year in a row, we had a home-cooked reunion lunch at one of my sisters-in-law's house and brought my mother-in-law from the nursing home to join in the festivities.

Last year, I cooked five dishes but since my sister-in-law made three (and added one more later) this, I was only required to contribute two this year.  So, here were the dishes that graced our reunion table that afternoon....everything from chicken to duck, pork to prawns, mushrooms to vegetables.

#1 - Yee Sang

In conjunction with any CNY celebrations, it's common to see Yee Sang making an appearance.  It's always a good omen to start with a toss to prosperity for the coming year.

So, lo hei....or toss as high as you can while uttering auspicious wishes for good luck and fortune ahead! ^_~

#2 - Roast Chicken Wings

When you see a dish of Roast Chicken Wings, it has my name all over it.  It's a sweat-free and fail-proof dish that I've made many times...and, most importantly, it uses the oven...so, no splattering of any kind and with very little cleaning to do...ah, my kind of dish to make! ;)

It's just a matter of changing up the seasoning for a different taste.  This year I went with a more western approach using garlic & black pepper seasoning, paprika, cayenne pepper and chilli flakes.  I cut them into drumettes and wingettes (and discarded the tips) for easier eating.

#3 - Lou Ngap

My sister-in-law made lou ngap (braised or stewed duck) to take to her husband's family but took out a small portion for our lunch.  This, I believe, is quite a tedious dish to prepare...and I wouldn't know where to start. It's a dish that can be prepared ahead as the longer it sits, the flavours get even better.

#4 - Braised Nam Yue Pork Ribs with White Radish

It isn't very wise to attempt something new for CNY, something you've not cooked before, in case the dish doesn't turn out as expected.  But I went against my own advice and attempted a new dish I've never cooked before of Braised Nam Yue (Fermented Beancurd Paste) Pork ribs with White Radish after watching a cooking show.  Luckily, nothing untoward happened during the cooking of the dish and I thought the reddish colour of the dish with its auspicious undertones makes it ideal for CNY.

#5 - Soy Sauce Prawns

This next dish of prawns, I'm not sure exactly what seasoning was used....perhaps we can call it my sister-in-law's version of Soy Sauce Prawns.  There was a lot of fragrant shallots on top.  My only disappointment...the heads were missing...but that's where all the flavours congregate! >_<  This dish is somewhat similar to the prawn dish I cooked for last year's reunion dinner.

#6 - Braised Mushrooms with Fish Maw, Dried Scallops & Hoe See

She also made her signature Braised Mushrooms with Fish Maw, Dried Scallops & Hoe See (Dried Oysters), a dish she cooks almost every CNY.  Personally, I don't add dried oysters to my braised mushroom dish as I'm not a fan of it + too much of it can sometimes overpower the taste of the mushrooms as they're like sponges that soak up all flavours.

#7 - Jiu Hu Char with Sang Choy

The vegetable dish of Stir-Fried Jicama with Carrot & Dried Cuttlefish (Jiu Hu Char) was served with sang choy (lettuce), another vegetable with prosperous connotations for CNY.  You can eat the jiu hu char on its own or  eat it wrapped in lettuce.  This was my favourite dish of the four (she cooked) for the vast amounts of crispy cuttlefish used (there was so much of it that the dish resembled meehoon...*wink wink*).

So that was what we had for our reunion lunch at home.  How was your CNY feast this year?  Eat in or eat out.....or a little of both?  Either way, I'm sure it was good....food always tastes better when eaten in the company of family and friends. ^_~

This was one year that even if you don't cook, there's no problem of finding food...only thing you might have to pay extra for it.  I was quite surprised just how soon the restaurants and coffee shops were open...some as early as the second day of CNY while most would open by the third day.  This is something unheard of years ago.  Gone are the days when they would close for at least a week to 10 days (there were some who would even close for the entire 15 days).  With trying business times ahead, many can't afford to stay close and need every last bit of profit to tide them over projected weak business conditions and escalating costs.

And if they open during the festive season, they can make a killing.  We found Madam Leow open on the second day and they charged an additional 10% on their prices.  Eating at Kanna Curry House (though they didn't raise prices) turned out to be a mistake as service suffered big time.  They were so crowded that tables filled onto the walkway.  Some of the eateries in my neighbourhood even upped their prices by RM1 for a bowl of noodles!  What to do...we have to endure it once a year. >:(

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