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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Just One Food - Cucur Udang

Continuing along my ramadhan happy trail, this is yet another favourite of mine (and my son's too)....."Cucur Udang" (Prawn Fritters)!  It's a common tea time kuih among Malaysians.  This snack is very versatile and some have even found its way into rojak, mi goreng mamak, mi rebus and pasembur, to name a few.
 
You'd usually find these sold at roadside stalls, "pasar malam" (night markets) and ramadhan bazaars.  There're many types of cucur available from cucur udang to cucur ikan bilis, cucur bawang and cucur jagung or even a combination of any one of these ingredients.  Essentially, the key ingredients of any cucur udang would be the prawns (of course), onions and "kucai" (Chinese chives).  Some variations will have carrots, bean sprouts or even sweet corn added.  The yellow hue from the fritters is the result of the use of "kunyit" (turmeric) powder.
 
There are many stalls selling this delicacy at the ramadhan bazaar here but I think I've finally found a really good one.  I'm not sure how many pieces of cucur udang goes into one packet (coz they were already all cut up and packed) but they're sold @ RM5 a packet.  Each packet comes with some cut up pieces of fried tofu and cucumber to make it a complete meal.
 
I like these ones coz they're loaded with Chinese chives and sliced onions...two very important elements in a cucur udang.  The Chinese chives give it that extra fragrant smell and taste while the onions offer sweetness to this fried snack.
 
I was also told that they use the (more expensive) small white shrimps (with shells on) in their mix although finding some may prove to be a bit of a treasure hunt....but just know that they're in there somewhere! :D
 
Look at just how crispy the exterior is...and the abundance of kucai!  This is one where you don't get an overly spongy texture due to an overload of flour batter but a rather soft and savoury interior.  Absolute yumzzz!! 
 
The cucur udang is served with two types of dip here (usually you get one or the other)....a "kuah kacang" (peanut sauce) and a spicy-sweet chili sauce.  The kuah kacang is pretty similar to the ones you eat with satay.  Both dips complement the prawn fritters very well.
 
I'm going to miss this cucur udang once ramadhan is over coz I've not found better ones elsewhere.
 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Sushi Mentai @ Pandan Indah

I think I might have just found the cheapest sushi!!!  A relatively cheap sushi chain, with about 20 outlets nationwide (in Klang Valley, Seremban and Johor with one coming up in Penang in July 2015), just opened up in my neighbourhood recently.....it's Sushi Mentai @ Pandan Indah.  When I say cheap.....I really mean cheap!  I don't think there's a cheaper sushi franchise than this.  There are just two prices...RM1.80 (for yellow plates) and RM2.80 (for red plates)!  That's it!!  Is that cheap or what....I think a plate of sushi easily costs at least RM3 with most priced around RM4 - RM6. 
 
But, having said that, due to the prices of the sushi, you know you just can't expect really good quality sushi....it's just mission impossible! :(  But, it's great for those staying in the area looking for some fuss-free cheap sushi as an 'eat out' option.  So, if you keep your expectations low....you'll do just fine here.

The sushi belt here is loaded with all types of sushi plates most of the time, especially if you get here for an early dinner.  If you find the sushi belt a bit empty, it's because the workers can't keep up with the replenishing fast enough and not because of anything else (in such cases, you can order them from the menu).
 
Let me show you some of the RM2.80 plates of sushi I had.  As these are 'nothing to shout about' but plain old edible sushi (some, at least), I'll just show you the pics of the sushi with a two-word comment...some don't warrant more than that.  Those with no comments mean they're in a 'just so-so' category! :D

Salmon Mentai (yes, definitely)

Another version of the Salmon Sushi, this one with skin on and a dollop of mayo
(prefer the one with mentai)

Yet another version of Salmon Mentai with Beancurd that has a piece of salmon with torched mentai in a beancurd boat filled with sushi rice and fried tempura crispy bits (if you get them just after they were made)...definitely recommended!

Another type of Salmon Mentai where the salmon is wrapped all around the rice
(for sure)

Ebi (Shrimp) Mentai (highly recommended)

Crabmeat Mentai (recommended) as this one tasted fresher than those usual processed crab sticks

Unagi Sushi (of course)

Salmon Mayo

Hotate (Scallop) Mentai

Chuka Hotate (recommended)

(Fake) Sharksfin Sushi

Octopus Sushi (very chewy, can skip)

Chicken Karaage Sushi (don't bother)

Tempura Prawn with Beancurd (good value)

Crumbed Prawn with Tamago (it wasn't crunchy, probably on the sushi belt for too long)

Tuna & Beancurd Mentai (yes, their tuna seemed to have improved on a recent visit)

Japanese Potato Salad (for a combination of fluffy mashed potatoes, with some chunky bits, topped with ebiko)

And the best thing is, these RM2.80 plates are still priced the same, with or without mentaiko...now how great is that :)  No prizes for guessing which plate I'll go for! ;D

Fried/Torched Salmon Bones (hell yeah)

On a recent revisit, I found these on the conveyor belt...Salmon Bones that have been fried and grilled.  What an ingenious way not to waste the bones (after the good parts of the salmon have been sliced off).  Real fans of fish would relish at the opportunity to devour any bits of flesh left on the bones.  These were leftover bits of flesh still attached to the fins, belly, spine, tail, etc.

These bits of flesh that have been fried were absolutely fragrant, then grilled (or torched) to give it that extra smoky flavour, tossed in a sweet-salty teriyaki sauce and (finally) finished with a sprinkle of white and black sesame seeds for even more fragrance.  I was willing to overlook the fact that they were a bit oily coz they were so good...and grabbed a second plate as soon as I finished the first! ;D

And here were some of the RM1.80 plates....

Tamago Mentai (yes, approved)

Tuna Mayo (hell no)
 
On a recent visit, I noticed that that they've changed the type of tuna they were using as it looked different from the one above.  This Tuna Sushi had bits of chopped onion in them and tasted better than before and were, at least, more edible.

Takoyaki Octopus (order them when you don't see it on the belt and you'll get freshly fried ones)

Chuka Idako (Baby Octopus)
 
Inari (Beancurd) Mentai
 
The not-so-plus points...the presentation could be better, the sushi rice could be more compact, the seaweed more crisp while some of the sushi toppings could do with better flavours.
 
As for the condiments, the pickled ginger is passable...just a bit more tart than usual but still ok.  The Japanese soy wasn't of a good quality...it was very salty, so be careful not to over dip.  One way to balance out the saltiness is to mix it with some sweet sauce. 

We also tried a couple of a la carte menu items like this one, the Salmon Mentaiyaki @ RM14.80, but the salmon was a bit dry and the mentaiko wasn't as luscious.

This was the Tendon @ RM12.80 which was made up of tempura prawns (2 pcs) and tempura vegetables (of eggplant, okra, green bell pepper, pumpkin, yam and sweet potato) with rice. The tempura prawns were ok but the vegetables were not soft enough.  The tempura coating was nothing like the light and crispy versions I've had as the one here is thick but (luckily) it was crispy.  At this price, the bowl of tendon was rather substantial and filling on its own and a value-for-money dish (if you can get past the thick tempura coating).

The Chawanmushi @ RM3.80 was filled with a piece of fish cake, chicken, crab stick, gingko nut and some slices of shiitake mushrooms.  The consistency and flavour was acceptable.
 
The drinks are very cheap as well:
 
Green Tea @ RM1 (refillable)
Orange Juice @ RM3 (not the fresh kind, of course)
 
My Personal Opinion
 
If you can accept the taste of pre-prepared sushi from Aeon, then these will be acceptable to you.  Just think of it being freshly made for you on the spot, 'torching' it for you for that extra smoky flavour and adding mentaiko on top...all at a price that's just a tad higher than Jusco's!  Worth it?  For sure! 
 
Otherwise, where can one eat like 10 plates of sushi and walk out (fully satiated) for about RM25....and that, to me, is one helluva bargain, (so) I'm willing to sacrifice a bit on the flavour department (sometimes).  I'd recommend that you stick to just sushi here as their other Japanese offerings (in their a la carte menu) are not that well executed (and the orders take a while to arrive).  And, if they're able to keep up the standards, they'll be here for the long haul...I've been a regular since.

I think this sushi chain is able to offer edible sushi at low prices by keeping its overhead costs low, opening (mostly) in housing areas (and not leading malls) where the rent is cheaper and there's hardly any competition.  Since opening more than two months ago, they've been enjoying full crowds daily, even on weekdays.  That goes to show people do...and will embrace cheap but edible sushi ;)  Just don't compare it with those higher priced sushi chains...and you'll be alright!

Sushi Mentai
No 9-G Jalan Perubatan 2
Pandan Indah
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2856 0385
 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Fatbaby @ Subang Jaya

After our late brunch @ Morningwood, we proceeded to our next destination for a very late lunch of....drum roll, please...ice cream!!  Oh yeah, ice cream for lunch!  I've heard a lot about Fatbaby's ice cream and had been wanting to try for a while now.  And so, we found ourselves at the doorstep of Fatbaby Ice Cream @ Subang Jaya.

A little history on Fatbaby......founded by Hui Ming, an actuary turned ice cream maker, in 2013.  They make all their ice cream bases from scratch with the freshest and finest ingredients with no artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives.  Everything that goes into their ice cream is made in-house...and that is what is so great about their all-natural homemade ice creams!

The one in SS15 is their scoop shop but their 100ml pots of ice cream are also available from various cafes and restaurants in the Klang Valley (including Ipoh and Penang).  In fact, quite a few of these trendy cafes use their ice creams in their dessert menu too.  You'll be surprised at just how many cafes are actually doing that.  You may just have eaten Fatbaby's ice cream and not know! ;D

You can ask for a sample taste test (which they'll gladly offer you anyway) before deciding which flavours you want.  On any given weekend, they would usually have about 12 flavours on offer (the menu rotates on a weekly basis).  We started with a classic all-time favourite....Vanilla @ RM8 for a single scoop (RM13 for a double scoop).

They use real vanilla beans for their vanilla ice cream...Madagascar vanilla beans to be exact (not vanilla extracts).  [#Note: From their website, these Madagascar beans have been described as the Queen of vanilla beans.  They scrape all the seeds out and infuse the beans and seeds in their milk and cream mixture overnight to fully extract all the vanilla flavour.  They also use homemade vanilla sugar to double up the vanilla goodness.]  You can see specks of the real vanilla beans all over the ice cream.  It was pure creamy goodness....loved it! :)

Our next flavour, selected by a member of my 'eating party', was the Hazelnut Chocolate @ RM8 for a single scoop. 

The silky smooth, nutty, chocolaty flavour went down well with my friends (or those who like anything nutty and everything chocolaty)!

Fatbaby also offers their ice cream on waffles...a Waffle + Single Scoop is RM12 while a Waffle + Double Scoop costs RM17 or, if you have a big party of ice cream lovers, you can get stuffed (literally) with a Get Stuffed (of 5 scoops of ice cream & 2 waffles) @ RM38. 

So, for our final selection, we went with a Double Scoop Waffle @ RM17 topped with two scoops of ice cream, banana slices and finished with a drizzle of Fatbaby's signature salted caramel sauce.  The waffle was pretty good...with a nice crisp exterior.

For our choice of ice cream flavours, our first selection was Honey I'm Home which is one of their more popular flavours laced with their homemade honeycomb and dark chocolate bits.  If you happen to bite into the pieces of honeycomb, you get a crunch and a sticky-gooey-sweet texture that may prove a tad sweet for some taste buds.  But those who love the sweetness of honeycombs would embrace this.

We went with Lemon Blueberry as our second choice.   Omg, this was absolutely awesome....definitely my favourite flavour of the four we tried!  If you love the sweetness + tartness of blueberries....you've gotta try this.  If you love the fresh, sour and citrusy taste of lemon, you must try this.  In fact, if you have a love for all things tangy, zesty, citrusy with hints of brightness and freshness...then you must have this!  Great for those who don't like their ice creams sweet =)

For a value deal, go for their Classic Trifeca Sundae at RM20 with 3 scoops of ice cream featuring classic flavours of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate (but no swaps allowed), topped with banana slices, crumble pieces and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce. 

You can wash down your ice creams with fresh juices by Smooshies or help yourself to the plain water provided.  Or, if you want even more ice cream, you can have a float with your favourite ice cream dunked in a choice of Coke, Sprite or Root Beer...simple (yet sinful) pleasures!

My Personal Opinion

For me, I loved, loved, loved the blueberry one with a tinge of lemony flavour for a tangy, fresh flavour.  I guess, along those lines, I would probably enjoy those with anything 'berry' like raspberry, strawberry and blackberry.

Their sign at the front says it all...."We make ice cream, 'nuff said"....and they really do make awesome ice creams!  These delectable light-textured treats make you keep wanting more! ;)

If you haven't had Fatbaby's luscious and decadent ice cream...you gotta try.....and soon!!

Fatbaby Ice Cream
47 Jalan SS15/4B
Subang Jaya
47500 Petaling Jaya
Selangor

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Just One Food - Tepung Pelita

It's the month of Ramadhan.....and I like it!  Coz that's when I can indulge in all kinds of yummy snacks and food sold at the ramadhan bazaar in my neighbourhood.
 
This post will be the first (of a few) showcasing some of my favourite food from the Ramadhan bazaar in Pandan Indah.  So, first up, I'd like to share with you one of my favourite Malay kuih....and that is the Tepung Pelita...or is it Kuih Tako?  For now, let's just call it Tepung Pelita since that's what their banner says!
 
The confusion with these two kuihs is because they both look exactly the same.  A little research online yielded the following information:
 
The Tepung Pelita has a white layer on top made of creamy, salty "santan" (coconut milk) mixed with rice flour and a pinch of salt.  The green bottom layer is made with rice flour, juice from "pandan" (screwpine) leaves and sugar (but no water chestnuts).  They're steamed in moulds made from banana leaves.
 
On the other hand, the Kuih Tako is made with a top layer of white Hoen Kwe (or mung bean) flour, santan and a pinch of salt while the bottom layer is made from green Hoen Kwe flour, sugar and chopped bits of water chestnuts.  Some recipes substitute the water chestnuts with jicama (aka Chinese turnip or "sengkuang") but it won't taste as good as sengkuang lacks sweetness compared to water chestnuts.  The kuihs are steamed in moulds made from pandan leaves.
 
Now you see why there's a confusion....they're almost identical!  This Tepung Pelita retails @ RM0.50 a piece and these ones from my neighbourhood's ramadhan bazaar are really good.  The stall focusses on selling only just this one kuih...they can afford to as they're so popular that long queues form every day.  They're probably the busiest stall here but service is very fast and the queue moves quickly and orderly.
 
I love the creamy, slight salty santan top with the not overly sweet but fragrant taste of pandan and the crunchy texture of the bits of chestnuts in the bottom layer (though I wished that there were more chestnut bits...there used to be more).
 
I find the texture of Tepung Pelita softer than Kuih Tako...and breaks apart easily when you spoon it.  It's even better eaten chilled.....yum! ;-)

So, who cares what they're called...you can call it whatever you want....Tepung Pelita or Kuih Tako....as long as they taste good!  You can make a Tepung Pelita and put chestnuts in them (like a Kuih Tako)...and still call them Tepung Pelita like this stall did! :D
 
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