Friday, 29 May 2015

KyoChon 1991 @ Pavilion

Since opening its first store in 1991, KyoChon has been voted Best Fried Chicken by South Koreans for 13 consecutive years and many accolades later, this brand of fried chicken finally arrived at our shores in 2013 with its first outlet in One Utama Shopping Centre.  With numerous outlets in USA, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines, this fried chicken has certainly taken the world by storm.

Since the opening of its third branch early this year (closer to home), which is touted as the biggest outlet among all its branches worldwide, there was no reason not to pay KyoChon 1991 @ Pavilion a visit to try their Korean Fried a friend of mine insisted that I try! :-D

KyoChon 1991 has 3 types of fried chicken to offer....the original soy series, red series or honey series.  The chicken pieces are cooked in a double-frying method which renders it super crispy and not greasy.  The fried chicken pieces are then tossed in a glaze or sauce (just like how they would do buffalo wings, I guess).

First of all, let's get a couple of facts (or claims) out of the way...which they so proudly display on their (paper) table mat.

Fact 1 - They don't serve fast food fried chicken but freshly fried to order chicken, so be prepared to wait for at least 15 minutes.
Fact 2 - Their chickens are free of antibiotics and growth hormones, and they're chilled, not frozen, for a fresher taste.
Fact 3 - They don't use MSG, preservatives or artificial colouring in any of their sauces or seasonings.
Fact 4 - They use canola oil for frying which is lower in cholesterol and a healthier option.
Fact 5 - Their double-frying technique ensures less grease and more taste.

This was Set A (for 1 pax) @ RM24.90 from their set meals menu.  You get 8 Wingettes & Drumettes (a choice of original or red or both) with steamed rice, salad, soup and drink (a choice of yuza or plum tea).  I obviously went for both flavours.

This is the original soy flavour (4 pcs) which I separated immediately so that the flavours don't mingle with one another.  The batter is crispy and the natural garlic soy glaze is quite subtle.  So, those wanting a punchier flavour and more savouriness in their chicken would surely welcome a bit more saltiness.  But I definitely approve the clean and subtle taste.  The chicken remained remarkably moist and tender while the outside coating was crispy.  You can taste the freshness of the oil used to fry the chicken.

The balance 4 pieces of chicken was from the red series....this is the fiery one!  They were a tad like western buffalo wings where it's fried and tossed in some 'kick ass' hot sauce.  I found the batter for this one to be less crispy, which is understandably so, coz the wings have been drowned in a sweet and spicy sauce made from fresh red peppers.  Those who like a bit of spice in their lives *wink wink* and a more punchy in-your-face kind of flavour would definitely prefer this one. 

Amidst many blogs mentioning that it's super hot, I had doubts initially about trying thinking it would be fiery blow-the-roof-off-my-mouth hot...and it was not!  It was still spicy but not hot until you have to down 2 to 3 glasses of water kind-of-hot.  The first few bites will make you feel like it's burning your tongue but persevere with a few more bites and the intensity will lessen and you'll be alright after that.  I actually downed two pieces without even having to take a sip of my drink.  This is more in the wheelhouse of those who are used to (or likes) spicy food but some may find them 'too hot to handle'!

Since this was a set meal, it came with steamed rice which you can upgrade to Garlic Fried Rice for an additional RM2...and, of course, I did.  The garlic rice was somewhat salty with lots of fragrance from the fried garlic bits...definitely worth to upgrade!  Or add on an additional fried egg for an extra RM1.
Even though it's just salad, they don't give you some crappy "sudah layu" (wilted) salad leaves...this one was fresh and crisp with a reddish dressing that tasted like plums or berries.  It was tangy and refreshing...and (I think) sorely needed when you're having an all meat meal. 
Even the complimentary soup was a cut above the rest (to me).  It had a very clear and subtle flavour of a well strained stock...nothing like those cheapskate soups we get in a lot of places.  The very thinly sliced spring onions added further finesse to the simple soup.
For drinks, you get a choice of yuza or plum tea and I chose the Natural Sparkling Yuza Fruit Tea (which on its own costs RM6.90).  It tasted like a cross between a lemon and an orange (and slightly fizzy) to me.  Very refreshing we do need a little bit of zestiness when confronted with so much meat or in case we need it douse out the flames in our mouth from the fiery chicken.  And since they claim that it doesn't have any colouring or added sugar, we can safely drink to our hearts content! ;D

Their set menu is available all day and they also have lunch sets (that are only available from 11am to 3pm).  But if none of those catches your fancy, you can order from their a la carte menu (which I did) and I was served with this complimentary pickled radish.  The slight tartness of the crunchy radish brings a much needed fresh note to your palate when you're indulging in so much fried food.

I went with an a la carte order of Regular Honey Wingettes & Drumettes (8 pcs) @ RM18 (medium is 12 pcs for RM24 and Large is 20 pcs for RM39.50) since the set meals don't offer the honey option.  This was just so that I can taste all 3 flavours and compare.

You know that the chicken is freshly cooked when it arrives at your table piping hot!  The first thing that hits you is the wonderful aroma of the fried chicken doused in a sweet and all-natural honey sauce.  I would say that the coating for the honey series was the crunchiest of the three.  The skin was so crunchy and yet sticky sweet (but not overly sweet) that it was simply divine!  The wingettes and drumettes were utterly succulent.  This, I believe, will be the absolute favourite of young children (and many adults too) because of its crunchy and sweet texture.

And they're even thoughtful enough to provide you with a container for your that's service for you! ;)

The Mixed Berries Drink @ RM8.90 was a mixture of blackberries, blueberries and blackcurrant.  It tasted grape-like with some crushed berries at the bottom...a refreshing thirst quencher is always welcomed.

After tasting all three flavours available for their fried chicken, I wanted to try their SalSal Strips as well.  So, I packed some for home (together with an extra order of Garlic Fried Rice @ RM5.90) and it came in a paper bag that looked more like I had a shopping item in there than food (I haven't the faintest idea why they would want to put his face on the bag instead of an enticing picture of their fried chicken...I guess they want to get their money's worth for engaging him as the "face of KyoChon") :D

This was the Regular Salsal Strips (8 pcs) @ RM20 (I took one out to taste).  These were boneless chicken breast strips coated in a special rice batter.  The coating of the rice crispies were alright but the chicken breasts, though thoroughly tender, was bland.  This was one thing you can't eat just on its own as it had no flavour whatsoever. 

It needed help (big-time) from the 3 dipping sauces available of Jambalaya, Honey Mustard or Red.  For the regular portion, you can choose 2 of the 3 dipping sauces and I went with Jambalaya and Honey Mustard (since Red would probably be something similar to the Red Fried Chicken which I already had).  The Jambalaya sauce tasted like some kind of a barbeque sauce and, although I hate mustard, the honey mustard was not as pungent as I envisaged.  However, both sauces still missed the mark for me.
My Personal Opinion
This KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) simply annihilated the other (used to be "finger lickin' good" but is now "sogood") KFC!  Okay, okay, it's not fair to compare the two since this is premium priced chicken.  I would gladly pay this premium price in the blink of an eye! :D  But, I would just stick with the fried chicken and stay away from anything SalSal :'(

Of the three flavours, if your criteria is crunchy, then go for the honey option.  If it's savoury (but with subtle saltiness) you want, choose original soy.  And if you like it hot, then the obvious choice of red will serve you well.  For the masses, honey will probably be the no. 1 choice and original being the least popular.  For my personal preference, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I like original soy first, honey a very close second and red a distant third.  That's because I don't want something so overly spicy until it numbs my taste buds for anything else after that.  Plus, I believe fried chicken should always be savoury (first) and not sweet.  I enjoyed the subtle savouriness of the original option and the crunchiness of the honey if they could marry the two, then that would be my most ideal fried chicken....kekeke...but, for now, I'll just have both! ;D

Now, if only they have an option for all three parts of the chicken (drumstick, wing and drumette) in all three flavours (original, honey and spicy) on one plate, that will be the most ideal plate (I think) for many people.

Seriously, I've not tasted fried chicken this good (or 'healthy' *wink*) for a while now and I can understand why this tagline is on their serviettes...."chicken like you've never had before".....and I agree wholeheartedly!

I'm not into Korean dramas (or the Korean superstar heart-throb either), K-pop or even Kimchi....but this Korean fried chicken......I likey! ;)

Kyochon 1991
Lot 1.54 - 1.58 Level 1
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 012-611 9435

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

#ewew cooks Indian-Style Fish Curry

If I want to eat an Indian-style fish curry, my best bet would be to go to a mamak or nasi kandar restaurant....and order it!

I can't imagine cooking this Indian-Style Fish Curry as I know next to nothing about making curries....until I discovered Kampong Kravers ready-made curry pastes in various flavours like chicken, beef, mutton, squid, shrimp, fish, dhal and sambal...and the latest "hot bilis" is selling very well apparently.
So, when I was buying some curry puffs the other day, I took a chance and bought one of their ready-to-cook curry pastes.  Please note that these are not your typical Malay or Chinese-style curries but more of an Indian Nasi Kandar-style curry.  For me, when it comes to Indian-style curries, I like only two and dhal (for Malay-style curries, I like it done with chicken, beef or squid and for Chinese-style curries, I like chicken with potatoes or prawns with pineapple).
Eliminating dhal (which I usually eat with roti canai only), I went ahead and bought the Malaysian Fish Curry Paste (Kari Ikan Nasi Kandar Malaysia) @ RM12.90 (RM13.70 inclusive of GST) for a 250g pack.
First, prep your vegetables of brinjal (1/2 a medium-sized one), okra (about 7 pcs cut into half), cabbage (1/4 and cut into smaller pieces), tomatoes (about 8 cherry tomatoes which I find are sweeter, leave whole) and tau fu pok (about 6 pcs cut into half).
You can use any type of fish you want, I used "kau yue" (otherwise known as ikan tenggiri or Spanish mackerel).  [#Tip: Although it's known locally as ikan tenggiri, the "kau yue" (don't know if there's another name for it) that I buy is quite different from those sold at mamak and Chinese mixed rice stalls which I find to be utterly dry and hard.  This (typically more expensive) "kau yue", on the other hand, is not as dry.]
I fried one of them just so that I have one fried and one non-fried in the curry to see which one tastes better.
Empty the sachet of curry paste into a pan.  Do not be unduly worried about the oil coz, after everything is cooked, the oil is hardly noticeable.  The instructions on the packet say to add in 250ml hot water...I just added water since we're going to bring the curry to a boil anyway.
Then, I threw in the brinjal and okra since they take the longest time to soften.  Cook that for about 10 minutes.
Next, add in the cabbage and tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.  At this point, I realised that the water was not enough and added another 200ml (coz I threw in a lot of vegetables).  [#Tip: If you want a more concentrated flavour, don't be so greedy and throw in so much vegetables.]
Then, add the fried and fresh fish and the tau fu pok and let it cook for a further 3 minutes.  [#Tip: I think I'll omit the tau fu pok next time as it didn't quite seem like an Indian curry with it.]  Season with salt and sugar to your personal taste (or as per packet instructions).
Finally, add in 50ml santan (coconut milk) as suggested (but I added in 100ml coz I like it creamy) and let it simmer for the final 2 minutes.  [#Tip: If you can, use freshly squeezed santan (rather than those from a box/can) as it's a lot more fragrant (nowadays it's so convenient, you can buy them already squeezed).]  It should take more or less 20 - 25 minutes from start to finish (excluding the frying of the fish, of course) depending on how soft you like your vegetables.
Here's my 'cheat' Indian-Style Fish Curry that's ready to serve (which is sufficient for 2 - 3 pax...not everything is on the plate).  [#Note: The packet instructions say "serves 4 - 6 persons" way (not with 250ml water), maybe 4 persons (with double the amount of water).]

I must say the curry tasted a lot like those from the mamak fact, it was even better than some I had at those restaurants.  You can taste the freshly blended spices and chillies, there were even curry leaves in the paste.

This is the fried fish version with plain rice served 'tiffin style'....actually I'm gonna save this for later!

And this is the fresh fish version with plain rice (which I'm going to attack now)'s certainly good enough for so little effort.  Now, if only I had some "papadums".....;p

I certainly didn't think I would ever be making a fish curry that looked even remotely authentic ;)  Of course it's never going to be as good as the real ones (those pastes pounded from scratch) but, for people who don't know how to make from scratch, these ready-made pastes are a godsent!

So, the next time you "krave" for some fish curry, nasi kandar style, go to Kampong Kravers and get a pack coz it's so easy to replicate it at home....straight from a box!
P/S:  Both fish versions were good although I'm leaning more towards the fried fish version (which need a little bit more work) but if you're not up for it, then go with the fresh fish version.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Karipap by Kampong Kravers

We drifted into Kampong Kravers after our initial meal at a restaurant here ended on a 'not-so-fulfilled' note.

Kampong Kravers is well known, first and foremost, for its premium spiral "karipaps" or curry puffs and they now offer 14 savoury and sweet curry puff flavours.  The savoury ones include staples like chicken, beef, mutton masala, sambal ikan bilis (spicy anchovies), spicy tuna, sardine, mushroom mayo and sweet potato.  The sweet ones are pineapple, kaya (coconut custard), peanut butter, durian, cempedak and apple custard.

Their signature regular spiral curry puff retails at RM2.20/pc or RM4.90 for 3 pcs.  Based on that price, it's a no-brainer how many puffs one should buy.  I bought one chicken, one ikan bilis and one sardine. 

At about RM1.70 a pc, the curry puff is not very big but the puff pastry was flaky and crispy with a fair amount of filling.  Although the price may seem more premium for a curry puff of that size, knowing that they are freshly made daily with no added preservatives, colouring or MSG and that the oils are trans-fat and cholesterol-free makes the price more acceptable.  Taste-wise, I did like the curry puffs which had a more authentic kampong-style taste to it, like one you'd buy from your neighbourhood "warong" (food stall)...only pricier!  

If these ones are too small for your liking, they do have bigger XL sized ones.  On a recent visit, I got myself some large ones.  This was the XL size chicken with egg and mutton masala @ RM5.20 for two (RM3.10 for one) inclusive of GST.  The puff pastry was extremely flaky and crispy if eaten within the hour.

I think the XL sized ones are better to eat as they seem to contain a sizeable amount of filling.  You can taste the chicken and potatoes in small chunks (instead of all mushed up), with a piece of hard boiled egg inside (though the whites were a tad hard), and a bit of heat in the filling.  The mutton masala puff was alright but I definitely preferred the chicken over the mutton one.

They also sell frozen curry puffs (in a box of 10) which you can take home to fry or bake. 

Other than the curry puffs, I bought a packet of Nasi Kukus Basmati @ RM3.60.  It was nicely packed in a paper cup container.  Their nasi lemak is made with basmati rice for a healthier and tastier version (plus it's more suitable for diabetics compared to regular white rice).  I definitely enjoyed the rice which was fragrant and fluffy with nicely separated grains. 

The fried ikan bilis and ground nuts were fresh and crispy.  It came with half a hard boiled egg and slices of cucumber.  The sambal was quite nice but rather spicy and oily.  The reason could be that they put too much sambal in for so little rice.  I would have preferred a lot less (sambal and oil)...I scooped most of it away :(

I like the fact that their products are nicely packed in environment-friendly paper boxes, containers and bags.  So, I'm ok with the slightly more premium prices based on their packaging and presentation.

They also offer cream puffs in a few different flavours but I think I'll stick to what they do best...and that's their curry puffs! ;)

Besides curry puffs, their other major product line is their curry pastes in flavours of chicken, beef, mutton, squid, shrimp, fish, dhal and sambal....and the latest is "hot bilis" which (apparently) is selling very well.  I did buy one to try...but that will be another story for another day! ;D

In case you "krave" for these puffs and want to give them a try, Kampong Kravers can be found in kiosks and cafes in some of the leading malls like Nu Sentral, Pavilion KL, Lot 10 Hutong, Empire Subang, IOI City Mall and its home café in Damansara Kim ;)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Wondermilk @ Publika

Ting!'s Round 3.......
After Rounds 1 & 2 at Yellow Brick Road and Bxie Blonde...and a short stroll around Publika, my friends and I found ourselves looking for our third pit stop for the day.  We drifted into a little quaint shop called Wondermilk Café @ Publika for an icy cold drink!
Their menu spans all day breakfasts to sandwiches, burgers, salads, pastas....and cupcakes, of course.  Their drinks include coffees, teas, iced sodas, wondercoolers and no prizes for guessing which is their house drink...their signature wondermilk in flavours of vanilla, caramel and butterscotch to name a few (but I don't do milk, so none for me, thank you).
But Wondermilk is probably best known for designer cupcakes and these were some I spotted at the counter...Strawberry Dream, Cookies + Cream Dream, Chocolate Marshmallow Surprise, Chocolate Cheese Surprise, Chocolate Chip, Oh My Chocolate, Blueberry Cheese, Kiss Cheese, Superainbow, Carrot Top and Royal Vanilla.  Also spotted (near the counter) were cakes in a jar....Rainbow in a Jar and Velvet in a Jar @ RM15 a jar. 
Special occasion cupcakes are also available for pre-order.  There's no denying that they make some of the most beautiful cupcakes around.
Also spotted on sale were cookies like Pineapple Cheese Bar @ RM12, Arabian Meltaways, Koko Fudge, Koko Toffee Nut, Koko Polka Chips and Choco Dots @ RM10 each.

You'll be dazzled by the delectable range (they all look so pretty) and it will be difficult to decide which one you want.  We grabbed a few cupcakes....

Royal Vanilla @ RM4.50
(the prettiest of the three but the frosting was way too sweet, though the kids would surely adore this)
Kiss Cheese @ RM4.50
(if you like just cheese, you'll be quite happy with this one)
Blueberry Cheese @ RM4.50
(For me, this was the best tasting of the three because of the zesty blueberry topping as it needed something fruity to cut through the cheese)
The cupcakes were alright (from the few that I've tasted), nothing spectacular.  This was one case of it not tasting as good as it looked.  And, for the price of RM4.50 a cupcake, I must say it was rather small in size.
Of course, we needed more refreshing (and cold) drinks for the hot afternoon.
Blackcurrant (Iced Soda) @ RM10
Lemon Crush (Wondercooler) @ RM11.90
(a mixture of lemon syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice)
Minty Lime Chiller (Wondercooler) @  RM11.90
(a concoction of fresh lime & mint leaves)
The drinks from the Wondercooler section weren't as wonder-ful as we had hoped coz they were missing a more concentrated flavour!

Ting!.....and Round 3 was (unfortunately) the knockout round!  We can't eat or drink anymore...we're done! ;D

My Personal Opinion

The one thing going for them is probably the charming décor and ambience of the place that appeals to family with young children.  The children's play area enables mommies to have a leisurely meal while still keeping a watchful eye over their kids.

A good hangout place, I suppose, for girly girls who need a dose of beautiful and colourful things in their lives every now and a pretty little cupcake? ;)
Wondermilk Cafe
7A & 8A Level G2 Ground Floor
Publika Shopping Gallery
Jalan Dutamas 1
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-6211 1092
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