Friday, 29 January 2016

What's with Cats.....and Boxes!

Chinese New Year is barely two weeks away...and as we pick up momentum in our final preparations, let's not forget Cookie who feels he deserves his 'spot in the limelight' amidst all the, here's one on him.

I'm sure many of us have seen extremely cute pictures of cats in boxes or funny YouTube videos of cats.....and boxes!  What's up with that?  Why do cats love boxes so much?

Although we may not fully understand or know why our feline friends love boxes, there are a few theories.

1)  it helps them keep warm
2)  it reduces their stress levels
3)  it makes them feel secure
4)  it offers them a place to hide
5)  it offers a safe place for them to nap without being disturbed
6)  they treat it like a toy
7)  they love the smell of cardboard
8)  they like to scratch stuff and a cardboard box is a perfect medium for scratching
9)  and, last but not least, they're basically just curious creatures

Whether it's large boxes, small boxes, irregularly shaped boxes or even just items that look like boxes, it doesn't matter as they can't resist squeezing into them.  So, to prove this theory right, I did a couple of experiments (over a period of time, of course) for your enjoyment of Cookie's antics! ;)

#1 - first cardboard box (from Urban Stove)! :D

#2 - Hey, it makes a nice, cozy hideout (if I can just get in there)

#3 - Whatcha looking at?  Leave me alone with my box.

#4 - Gimme a minute....I swear I can fit into this small box!
(the principle with cardboard boxes is...."if it fits, he'll sit in it")

#5 - I'm almost there....I just need to suck my ass in! ;)
(and "if it doesn't fit, he'll still sit in it")

#6 - Yippee, my first designer box (what can I say, I'm a high-maintenance cat!)

#7 - I'm liking the bright red already...hehe ;p

#8 - Go away...I'm comfortable in this paper bag too, ok!

#9 - Ah, perfect fit...and stop looking at my butt, will you? >.<

#10 - Eh, the printer cover also look like a box....also "boleh"...peekaboo!!

#11 - Finally, apart from boxes, me like drawers too :)

As you can see (depicted in this pic), cats are basically "kepochi" (aka busybodies), they'll jump into cupboards and drawers when you open them...

.....and just about any box-like thing.

So, there you have's true...cats do love boxes! :D

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Det Station @ Ampang

I read about this nasi lemak place from HungryGoWhere's Top 10 Must-Try Nasi Lemak in KL (dated 2 June 2015).  You could say that I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there's one near where I stay (in an adjacent housing area actually).

So, we ventured to Det Station @ Ampang one morning to try out this nasi lemak.  It looks like any typical Malay warung (with a mostly Malay clientele).  They offer burgers, their version of "char kway teow", numerous "lauk" or rice dishes and nasi lemak, of course.

Det Station's nasi lemak is pretty simple (and their no. 1 attraction) have it either plain, with egg or fried chicken...and that's it!  At least those were the handful of items available in the morning when we were there around 10am.  Perhaps, later in the day, more dishes would be available as we saw some of the dishes coming out while we were still eating.

This was the Nasi Lemak Telur @ RM3 which is a plate of plain nasi lemak with a fried egg...this is as simple as it gets!  You can taste (and smell) the hint of ginger in the coconut milk-infused rice (the rice was a tad soft).  The generous pool of sambal was sweet and spicy (I wished it was less sweet though).

Or go with their famous and good value Nasi Lemak Ayam Berempah @ RM5.50 which comes with a piece of fried, crunchy chicken in a spice-marinated batter.  It was nicely crisp on the outside with moist, tender meat.  It was a decent piece of fried chicken...although it looked more like the usual "ayam goreng" (fried chicken) than the "ayam berempah" (spiced fried chicken) that I'm more accustomed to! ;)

Alternatively, you can have the Nasi Lemak Ayam with Telur @ RM6.70 (inclusive of an add-on fried egg @ RM1.20).  Let's just say it's difficult to fall 'head over heels' in love with a nasi lemak that doesn't feature a host of other sides like beef or chicken rendang and sambal "sotong" (squid) or "kerang" (cockles)....unless these weren't ready yet as we didn't see any.

Iced Teh Tarik @ RM1.80 (not bad)

My Personal Opinion

I find this to be a just ok nasi lemak.....and probably would not find its way into my top ten list of must-try nasi lemak!  Maybe it's because of the very limited choice of lauk.  If there's a positive, it'd be the very reasonable price for a large piece of decent fried chicken.

Although there was a mention of a must-try "sambal ikan keli" (catfish cooked in chilli paste) by HungryGoWhere and "ikan cencaru sumbat" (torpedo scad stuffed with sambal) by Motormouth from Ipoh, I didn't get to taste those as they weren't available when I was there. 

If you're not too choosy, it still makes for a quick and cheap breakfast.

Restoran Det Station
No 19 Jalan Avenue 3
Avenue Ampang
68000 Ampang
Tel: 018-368 9971

Monday, 25 January 2016

#ewew makes Dried Fish Fillet Snacks

It was last year when I first saw some blogs making this dried fish fillet snacks (yeah, I know I'm "slow" as it has been done some years back already) but I knew that I wanted to attempt it the following year.

So, this is the following year.....and I'm attempting it!  Little did I know how labour intensive it was going to be as the blogs (those that I read anyway) didn't highlight this point! >.<  I guess that's why people don't make this to sell as it just wouldn't be profitable enough since it's too time consuming.

And so, yours truly went to the nearest supermarket in my neighbourhood and bought these Dahfa Dried Fish Fillet (120g) at a promotional price of RM5.88 a pack.

Back home, I got down to business and tried to tie the dried fish fillet as best I could.  Most of the blogs said to start with 3 strands....and so I did.

But after a few failed attempts on the way it should be tied (shown in the blogs) was too difficult for me, I tried to just knot it but found that the fragile fish strips easily broke apart when I tried to do that (even though I used as little force as I could).  

Finally, I decided to just fold 3 strands into half and used another strand to tie the strands loosely together (don't try to make a tight knot).  You have to be very delicate and use as little force as possible in the process, otherwise the strands will break apart.

After one painstaking hour, this was what I got....about half of the packet done! O_o  OMG, what a lot of hard work!  Why didn't any blog forewarn me to the difficult task at hand or that it'd be so time consuming! :(

As I was already tired from all the tying, I decided to fry these first.  Make sure the oil is not too hot.  I threw them in, flipped them over once (since I didn't use much oil) and fished them out immediately....and all this have to be done in a window that's just mere seconds....probably no more than 5!  So, you have to be very quick, otherwise you'd be dealing with a lot of burnt snacks.

Fish them out and drain on paper towels.  When you first take them out, they'll be limp but let it cool and they'll crisp up can see some overly browned ones on the top! >.<

I was able to fill 1 1/2 small containers with half a pack of dried fish snacks since they need to be loosely packed.  Even at the point of packing, you have to be very gentle or risk smashing them to pieces!

The second half of the pack took me only half the time (30 minutes) to complete (a definite improvement). Eh, that's not too bad...a lot quicker than I thought, I must be getting the hang of it.

For this half, I decided to bake it instead (as some blogs did too).  I layed it on a tray (with baking paper underneath) and baked it at 150C for 7 minutes (some blogs say to bake it at 140C for 10 - 15 minutes).

Since all ovens' temperatures may differ slightly from one another, use the timing suitable for you to achieve the desired browning (just watch your first batch to find the optimum timing) and take it out once slightly brown.

I was able to fill a medium-sized container with this half of the snacks.  So, I guess one packet of dried fish fillet snacks will probably fill up two medium-sized containers....not bad at RM3 a can with a lot of work...but ultimately a cheap snack for Chinese New Year! ;D  Was it worth the hard work?  Yes!!

What's the best thing about these snacks?  They're super, super crispy...both versions!  But I'd have to say the ones fried in oil has a more "hiong" (fragrant) taste but they're also more oily.  As for the baked ones, the faint taste of the dried fish fillet comes through a bit more.  My spouse likes the fried preference.....the baked ones...somewhat healthier snack and a lot less work compared to frying!

However, I also found out another thing about these snacks....and that they're meant for your own consumption only.  Why?  Coz 1) they're so time consuming to make and 2) they're so fragile (because of their super crispiness), you can't gift them to someone coz you can't transport them anywhere as they'll break up and disintegrate from all the moving and bumping along the way (unless you hold on to it with your dear life throughout your "balik kampong" journey)! :p

So, think carefully if you want to make these dried fish fillet snacks for your family's own consumption over the festive's a lot of work.....but it's also very good.  Excuse me while I go make some more! ;D

Friday, 22 January 2016

Tonkatsu by Wa Kitchen @ Pavilion

Tonkatsu by Wa Kitchen @ Pavilion, touted as the first tonkatsu outlet in Malaysia, has been around for about 4 years now.  Even though I frequent Pavilion quite a bit, this place seemed to have eluded me thus far coz, each time I'm here, I've been attracted to other options available here. 

But a recent post on the place by ccfoodtravel reminded me that I should finally give this place a visit.  I do eat fried food every now and then but not entirely fond of an entire meal made up of fried food though. 

Once seated and our orders made, you'd find these condiments (along with a mini pestle and mortar) on the table.  So, while you wait for your food to arrive, you can start making your dipping sauce first.  For the uninitiated, they may not know what to do with these condiments if they're eating here for the first time, so I'll show you (in fact, I didn't know what that bottle of oil/sauce-like thing was for).

I put a few spoonsful of roasted sesame seeds into the mini pestle and grind them finely (into a paste) or coarsely as you wish (I like it slightly coarse).  You can smell the fragrance when you crush the sesame seeds.

Next, I added the tonkatsu sauce (which is kind of similar to a thick Japanese Worcestershire sauce) with a sweet-salty-tangy taste to the crushed sesame seeds...and the sauce should be done.

But then the resulting sauce looked a bit thick to me and, when I noticed a bottle of 'something' on the table (it tasted like flavoured oil), I decided to add that to my sauce to thin it out a bit (maybe it's not meant for this but who says I can't be different, eh?).  Final result....perfecto...and my sauce is ready! ;)

Most of the meals are offered in sets and since its namesake is tonkatsu (which means pork cutlet), it makes sense that our first order was Set 3, the Hire Katsu + Ubi Furai Zen @ RM36.  It was made up of breaded pork fillet cutlet and prawn served with sliced cabbage, tofu, pickled vegetables, pork and vegetable miso soup, rice and a tartar sauce (made with some pickled relish, probably gherkins, and chopped parsley).  [#Tip: If you want just pork, Set 4 of Hire Katsu + Rosu Katsu Zen @ RM34 offers both the pork fillet and pork loin cutlets.]

I was delighted with the two rather huge prawns on the plate.  No complaints there as they were fresh...and, well.....huge! 

The breaded pork fillets that were dredged lightly in flour, dipped in beaten egg and coated with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) had a good crunch on the outside.  I felt the pork was tender enough to the bite but the crumbed pieces definitely benefitted from a squeeze of lemon.

Of course the set comes with generous helpings of tofu, pickled vegetables, miso soup and rice.  The agedashi tofu, served chilled, also provided some freshness to the otherwise predominantly fried meal.  You'll be assured of leaving here with full tummies as the cabbage, miso soup and rice come with unlimited refills.

The set also came with a helping of shredded cabbage...I've not seen cabbage julienned so finely...I liked that they had an enjoyable crunch and was great paired with the tartar sauce (but since that wasn't quite enough), I added a few dashes of that flavoured oil over the balance cabbage and it tasted a lot nicer.   

Our other order was Set 11, the Seafood Furai Zen @ RM48, which featured a piece of breaded salmon, oyster and scallop each with two (big) prawns.

It came with the same condiments as the set above.  You'd also find a dollop of something yellow on the plate which I suspect to be either mustard or wasabi (and since I hate both, I stayed clear of it).

Again, the seafood was expertly fried at the right temperature to render it not oily.  The salmon was nice and flaky, the oyster bursting with juices, the scallop soft and moist and the prawn fresh and crunchy.  Of the four, I probably enjoyed the oyster the most because of the juiciness.

The condiment of miso soup looked like just any miso soup (I had before) but was pleasantly surprised when I found quite a bit of ingredients in it.  The soup had bits of pork, shiitake mushrooms, daikon and some kind of gelatin sheets...nice!

Our drinks of Mango Juice @ RM7 and
Iced Green Tea @ RM4 (which is refillable as well)

My Personal Opinion

This meal is great for heavy-eaters as they can have their appetites fully satisfied with refills of rice, soup and vegetables to their hearts content.  For me, I couldn't even finish my portion of rice, soup and vegetables that came with the set (let alone ask for refills).  [#Note: But I did see families on the tables to my right and left (with children) asking for refills of rice, soup and vegetables when they shared the mains with their children. Some might see this as taking advantage of the deal and feel that it's not the right thing to do....but I'm alright with it (as long as they don't overdo it and stick to just one refill).  After all, what can they do if their children can't finish a main on his or her own.  I think restaurants these days will exercise discretion and allow for some flexibility.]

There will be some who would feel that the pork and seafood are on the dry side coz, halfway through the meal, I did feel that way too but I don't think I'd put the blame on the proteins though.  To me, it was the dryness of the breadcrumbs coating that made me feel that way.  The thick crispy breadcrumb coating is nothing like the light tempura batter (which I prefer) but I can see this appealing to the young who'd like anything fried and everything crumbed! ;D

Another thing that I picked up was that the pork and seafood came off as very under-seasoned, bordering on bland.  I'm not sure if they were even marinated with salt and pepper.....maybe they were deliberately left unseasoned.  That's why you have to eat it with the tonkatsu sauce, otherwise it'll be totally bland tasting. 

Would I come back for more?  Probably.....but not anytime soon!  This fully fried (and dry) meal will last me a long while.

Tonkatsu by Wa Kitchen
Lot 6.12.00 Level 6 Pavilion KL
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2144 2992

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