Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Little Sifu Famous Roast Meat @ Pandan Indah

Like in any housing areas, you're bound to find numerous roasted meat stalls and it's no different in my neighbourhood as roasted meat is a common and popular lunch time meal (sometimes even for breakfast) for many just like "chap fan" (mixed rice).

Finding one stall that does all types of roasted meat equally well is easier said than done as most of the stalls are usually good at one or two types only.  But that was until I found Restoran Little Sifu Famous Roast Meat @ Pandan Indah, a relatively newer shop (on its own) compared to the others here (which are usually a stall inside a coffee shop).

It's an unpretentious single shoplot, so seats may be difficult to come by during peak lunch hour but they're open from morning.  Service can be a bit trying during peak times (with lots of takeaways) as the owner practically does almost everything himself.

Start with the best thing in the house and that is their "Siew Yoke" Rice @ RM6.  Their roasted pork comes with a crispy crackling and the meat is flavourful with a nice balance of saltiness to it.

Check out the glorious crackling :)

My advice is to eat it there to get the optimum taste of the crispiness, otherwise the crackling will turn soft if you pack it to be eaten later.

Coming in a clear second for me is their Poached Chicken Rice @ RM7.50...with added chicken liver which is a must, for me! ;)  They use "choi yin kai" (kampong chicken) here, so the meat has a lot more flavour.  Left to steep in chicken broth and cooked to perfection, it yielded tender, moist and juicy meat....and this is one where I don't mind devouring the skin as well.

Third on the list is their "Char Siew" Rice @ RM6 though my family members would probably say it deserves the coveted second place.  The barbequed pork has a nice caramelisation on the outside with a good ratio of fat-to-lean (even if you didn't specify the cut you want)....absolutely scrumptious!

Or, if you're greedy you can't decide, get a combination of Char Siew & Siew Yoke Rice @ RM7.50.

And, finally, coming in at the back of the pack is their Roasted Duck Rice @ RM6 and the owner seems to have forgotten to give me breast meat.  When it comes to duck, I prefer breast meat...the only time I'd eat breast actually coz those with bones hardly got enough meat on them.
Ahh.....this time I got the cut I wanted!  This may not be among the better roast ducks I've had but it's still decent as a choice here.

Rounding up with their Roasted Chicken Rice (with liver again) @ RM6.30.  This is what happens when the place is super busy, everything gets splattered on the plate and they forget to give you the cut you requested (yikes, I got some pieces of chicken breast!) >_<

If you think you've experienced different prices when you eat in and takeaway, you're indeed right.  This is my packed Roasted Chicken Rice with Liver @ RM6.60.  The owner charges 30 cents more for the new plastic box...well, that's thanks to our government for imposing this but not imposing stricter rules to hawkers to not pass on the cost to us.  Although I'm all for recyclable packaging that's environment-friendly, I can't help but note that this results in a 5% increase in our food prices already (based on a packet at RM6) come next year (when it becomes mandatory) and I'm sure we'll still have to contend with rising prices in food next year! >:( I guess this is a good time as any to bring our lunch boxes with us whenever we go out.

As with any roasted meat stall, you have to start off with a flavourful chicken-infused rice and a good fresh and tangy chilli sauce and I'm glad to report that both are done well here.

Even the soup I like, clear and tasty.

Side orders of silken tofu and bean sprouts are also available.  I liked that my order of Blanched Bean Sprouts @ RM4 (this is small but sufficient for two) were those fat, crunchy Ipoh-type ones topped with lots of freshly fried minced garlic and spring onions.

The Soya Sauce Silken Tofu @ RM6 with lots of fragrant fried minced garlic makes a nice side dish too. Looking at the ridges on the side of the tofu block, I believe this is store-bought silken tofu that's just drizzled with their decent ready-made soya sauce (used for their roasted meats).

They also started to offer wantan mee with any roasted meat (if you need something other than rice) which is great for breakfast since the shop opens for business early.

This coffee shop also serves a Kopi-O Ping (Iced Black Coffee) @ RM1.80 that I enjoy.

There's only one other stall here selling pork noodles...nothing you should be concerned with as their presence here is just to provide a choice for customers who don't feel like eating rice.

My Personal Opinion

I remember the owner telling me he used to work in the roasted meat stall next door until he decided to set up shop himself.  Looks like this "little sifu" (as in the name of the shop) learned from the master and added on a "little kungfu" himself to enhance the recipe further to make it even better...hehe! :D  But there are still lots of people flocking to the one next door (in Thong Kee Kopitiam) not knowing that this is the better one.

It's now the first choice roasted meat stall for me and my family in our neightbourhood.  You can't go wrong with any one of the five choices here.

Restoran Little Sifu Famous Roast Meat
No 21 Jalan Pandan Indah 1/23E
Pandan Indah
55100 Kuala Lumpur

Monday, 28 November 2016

#ewew makes Salt-&-Pepper Crispy Chicken Skin

I've seen contestants making crispy chicken skin countless times on Masterchef Australia when they wanted to have a crispy element on their dish.  And it's always the same, just put them between two sheet pans and shove it into the oven.

It looked simple enough for me to attempt.  But that was a cooking show and they didn't show us how it was actually done or, more precisely, how long it needs in the oven.  I had to google "how to make crispy chicken skin" and most of the results say to bake at 180°C or 190°C for 40 minutes to an hour.  So, here comes my attempt at making Salt-&-Pepper Crispy Chicken Skin.

To prep the skin, just make sure you scrape off any visible fat from the underside of the skin.

To be successful at this, you have to start with dry skin.  The dryer the skin, the crispier it will be when cooked.  After defrosting the chicken skin (from two whole chicken breasts), I used a paper towel to dab dry the skin as much as possible.

I then laid it on a paper towel to absorb whatever moisture there is from the chicken skin.  I popped it back in the fridge until I'm ready to cook (leaving it in the fridge uncovered dries it out further).

But I took one more step to ensure the skin was dry by taking it out of the fridge (about half an hour before) and putting it on the table under a fan to (kind of) blow dry the chicken skin.  Think of it like how they'd hang and fan-dry a duck or chicken before roasting to achieve crispy skin.....same concept! ;)

Lay the skins on a sheet of baking paper on top of a baking tray.  Season generously with salt and freshly cracked black pepper as it needs to be slightly salty.

Then put another piece of baking paper on top and use another baking tray to press down on top.  This is to prevent the skin from curling.

I decided to bake at 200°C oven and it was ready in 30 minutes.  As you can see, the chicken skin oozes out a fair bit of oil.

So, I would suggest that you let the chicken skin drain on a paper napkin for a while...or, better still, use a tissue and lightly dab on the skin to remove the excess oil (if you can't wait to eat it, that is!).

My Salt-&-Pepper Crispy Chicken Skin look good or what? ;)  You can certainly amp it up or play around with other seasonings like paprika, garlic powder or whatever flavour pleases you.

Look just how thin & crispy it is...great on its own as a snack :)  I've even seen a recipe that asks you to serve the (broken-up) crisps with fried garlic chips, some lime zest and a light drizzle of honey (sounds good too!).

Some parts of the skin is so thin that it's almost see-through!  You can use it as a garnish to provide that crispy element to your dish.

The skins can be baked a few hours ahead.  They managed to stay crispy even two hours later when I had some leftovers, otherwise store in an airtight container.

It's salty, crispy goodness in a bite!  And it's ok to be a little 'naughty'...sometimes! ;)

The crispy chicken skin works even better with Aglio Olio Spaghetti =)

Just crush the chicken skin into smaller bits.....and "tabur" (sprinkle) on your aglio olio (ratio of one skin per plate of pasta is quite adequate).

Who needs bacon.....

....when you have crispy chicken skin! ;D

I used to throw away the skin when I bought chicken breast (for Cookie) but now that I've been successful in making crispy chicken skins, I guess I'll have to reconsider before throwing them away now.

So, enjoy.....take a walk on the wild side...come know you want one! ^_*

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Kobe Grand @ Jalan Ampang

I've been wanting to try kobe beef for the longest time (and a special occasion was just the excuse I needed) but I still had to muster enough 'courage' to do it.  Ok, I can feel some of you rolling your eyes already...what courage?  It's not like she had to eat bugs or something nasty like that.  Well, my definition of 'courage' here simply meant I had to summon enough courage to PAY for it! :D

I was contemplating between Torii (I've seen many recent reviews praising their Kobe beef to the skies) and this place...and finally decided on The Kobe Grand @ Jalan Ampang because of it's closer proximity to where we stay + I thought if they named it Kobe, that must be their speciality.  And the recent change of name from The Kobe to The Kobe Grand means they better bring I'm allowed to have great expectations! ^_*

Right after we placed our orders and our drinks arrived, we were each given a complimentary chawanmushi. It was just a plain egg custard but something to warm our tummies while we wait for our food.

Our first order of the evening was the Kiri Kiri Kara Maki @ RM26.90 which featured enoki mushroom tempura rice roll topped with spicy minced salmon.  [#P/S: I'm not sure why I was charged RM26.90 when the menu price was stated as RM24.90.  I only realised when I was writing this post (and checked against the receipt).]

The enoki mushroom taste wasn't apparent as I tasted more of the crispy tempura bits.  Presentation could be better (the last piece actually fell down) and the sushi rice could be a bit more compact.

The Salmon Ikura Don @ RM38.90 of vinegared rice topped with salmon sashimi and ikura (salmon roe) was served with two pieces of tamago (Japanese rolled omelette) together with pickled ginger and wasabi in the bowl (which I didn't appreciate).  I would have preferred the ginger and wasabi to be served separately (coz not everyone likes wasabi).

The salmon was fresh with a nice marbling but was presented thinly sliced and in a larger piece here (I personally prefer them to be a thicker cut).  The ikura was nice and juicy but not quite bursting with juices like some I've had before.

We also had an order of Garlic Fried Rice @ RM9.90 which arrived topped with some crispy garlic chips and chopped spring onions.  I was pleased with the portion, taste and texture of this fried rice...nicely done :)

Of course, I came here for one intention and one intention only....and that was to try the Kobe beef!  Looking at the menu, I saw that it was priced @ RM238.90/100g and they do it in three ways (teppanyaki, stone grilled or garlic butter grilled).  I chose teppanyaki and what happened next wasn't what I expected.  The waitress then said that I have a choice of two sizes...either 150g or 160g! @_@  Now why didn't they put that in the menu in the first place by stating that a minimum order of 150g is required (I would have preferred to know that upfront, don't you?  Coz we're paying a princely sum for it, it's not something cheap, you know).  By then, it was too late, you've already made an order and it'd be too embarrassing to back out.  I also question as to why the other size is 160g coz it makes no sense as just 10g more is negligible (can you actually cut a piece of meat from the same block of beef that's just 10g more?  I highly doubt it.)  It was like they insincerely offered you two sizes to choose from but actually just wanted you to order a minimum 150g...that's how it looked to me.

It took a while for my Kobe beef to be served and the waitress came bearing this...something for you while you wait, she said.  Seriously?  It was three sticks of cucumber with miso paste! O_o  I think they can do better than three cheap sticks of cucumber, don't you agree?  They'd be better off not offering anything as it made me think more lowly of them.

Frustrations aside, my order of Kobe Beef (150g) @ RM358.35 finally arrived with some grilled vegetables and condiments of garlic chips, dried wakami seaweed (I think) and wasabi.

I was in for another rude shock.  I requested for my beef to be done medium rare and it didn't look like it was cooked to that doneness at all.  I immediately got the attention of a server and asked him, "Does that look like medium rare to you?"  Of course his answer would be yes.  When he realised I wasn't convinced, he asked if I'd like to speak to the chef.  Of course I would.  I told the chef that the beef is overcooked which he, of course, denied didn't admit.  At that point, I realised that it'd be pointless to continue with my stand.

I decided to flip over more pieces to confirm my suspicion....there, you be the judge.  Does that look like medium rare to you?  If you ask me, it's more like medium well! >:(  I wasn't so much as disappointed with the taste (I believe it was still a good quality piece of Kobe steak, tender with a fatty, well-marbled texture), I was more disappointed with the cooking of it.  I know it could have been so much better if it was executed to exactly how I preferred to eat it...after all, we paid freakin' close to RM360 for it! T_T

Not wanting to admit the beef was overcooked so that they don't have to replace it tells me that they're not looking to sustain a long term business in today's consumer-driven world.  They would rather not make a loss on this one case than to ensure they have a happy customer.  Well, you know what they say...a happy customer tells a friend, an unhappy customer tells the world (more so with the advent of social media these days)! XD

I often hear people describe Kobe as "the meat literally melts in your mouth"...but this was far from it! :'(  I'm not sure if I was pissed off already as it wasn't executed the way I wanted it, so I didn't quite get the "it's so awesome" feeling.

Just look at the streak of fat going down the side! O_o  Each time I put a piece of it in my mouth I could feel the lingering taste of oil in and around my mouth.

Even the side of grilled vegetables was not properly executed.  The onion and pumpkin (though soft) had a very oily feel to it, suffering from the fate of being cooked with too much butter.  The eryngii, on the other hand, wasn't soft enough rendering it chewy.  I practically left these untouched other than the cherry tomatoes that offered me a juicy respite and the much needed acidity to cut through all that oiliness and richness.

The waitress (who attended to our orders) came by (just as we were finishing our meal) to ask if we would like some ice cream (on the house) to which I politely declined as I told her we were too full already.  She also asked us how the meal was to which I told her that it was fine except that they overcooked the beef.  She still brought us the complimentary ice cream anyway (I don't know, maybe she felt apologetic on the execution of the beef).

When she brought the ice cream, the chef came over to say that the offer of ice cream is his way of apologising for the cooking of the beef.  I didn't think it was very sincere as it was an afterthought (he didn't realise that the waitress had already offered me the complimentary ice cream earlier)! >.<  Even so, vanilla ice cream?  Not even a house-made matcha or sesame ice cream?  For all I know, the vanilla ice cream could be store-bought! >:(  Again, I saw it as a misstep in service.

Our refreshing juices of Daidaiiro (orange-carrot-apple) @ RM13.90 and Aka (pineapple-apple-pen-watermelon) @ RM13.90 also.

I can see why they wouldn't want to refire another piece of beef for me as the whole time I was there, it was just us and another table (and the place has a large capacity).  Even the outdoor poolside seating was devoid of customers and part of it seems to have closed.  The grilled skewers are no longer on the menu and has been replaced by a Poolside DIY Teppanyaki.

My Personal Opinion

To say that my first taste of Kobe isn't all that I expected it to be would be an understatement.  

I've always heard of people saying that you haven't had the best beef if you haven't tried Kobe.  And so I tried it....and it didn't give me the "cinderella moment" know, the one with birds singing around it did when I had my first taste of foie gras and uni! ^o^

I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to have it again coz of the price factor + I fear that I may not actually like Kobe beef or if this first experience ruined it for me because of subpar cooking.

My next sentence will probably make die-hard Kobe lovers think I'm a nut case...but I'm going to go out on a limb and say it....I think I prefer good grade Wagyu over Kobe! ^.^  I think it's a case of Kobe beef being too intensely marbled for me (and the fat has a bit more of a chew and not as soft as Wagyu).

I'm not sure if the taste of Kobe wasn't as awesome as I had hoped because of the poor execution or that Kobe beef itself didn't suit my taste buds.  I'm not sure I'd want to try Kobe again for fear that I may end up paying my (or someone else's) hard-earned money for something that I actually don't enjoy.  But one thing I'm sure....if I do try Kobe beef again, it certainly won't be at Kobe Grand, Ampang...there was nothing grand about their Kobe beef! :P

The Kobe Grand
No 347 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-4266 6262

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