Wednesday, 16 August 2017

#ewew cooks Teriyaki Chicken Don

When eating in a Japanese restaurant, Teriyaki Chicken Don is one of those dishes on the menu that's delicious to eat yet won't cost a bomb.

And that's the reason why it's one of our usual things to order at a Japanese restaurant when we're looking for a budget meal.

It also happens to be a dish that can be replicated at home without too much of a hassle.  I would choose to cook this when I'm looking to have a simple dinner that involves the least amount of washing up! ;)

You start by marinating the deboned chicken leg.  You can cook as many chicken legs as you long as they fit into one tray in your oven...and you just have to increase the marinade proportionately, of course. Marinade for a good two hours (or overnight).  Please note that this is a rather wet marinade as we'd want a bit that teriyaki sauce to pour over the rice.

Marinade for each boneless chicken leg:

1/2 tbsp Japanese soy
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp olive oil (+ 1/2 tbsp drizzled on the chicken leg just before it goes into the oven)
1/2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Obviously, the marinade above isn't your typical Japanese Teriyaki Chicken recipe but a bit of a fusion.  I make do with whatever I have in the kitchen as there's no point to buy or stock up stuff that I don't often cook with as it'll go to waste later.  Based on the marinade, I substituted mirin and sake with Chinese rice wine, used honey instead of sugar, and added a bit of Chinese and western influence with the rest of the marinade ingredients.

Bake at 200°C for 25 - 30 minutes.  Pour in all the balance marinade liquid as this will act as the sauce for the teriyaki chicken.

It should look a nice golden brown (like this) when it's ready.....and a bit of charring won't hurt either! ^.^

Slice the chicken and pour all the liquid juices that are left in the tray onto the chicken.  The tender and juicy chicken thighs, partnered with a sweet-salty teriyaki sauce, should easily please.

Serve it with plain rice (or Japanese rice) topped with crispy garlic chips and you have yourself a bowl of tasty homemade Teriyaki Chicken Don.  Feel free to add some crunchy slices of Japanese cucumber if you need an element of vegetable in your meal.

It goes just as well with Garlic Fried Rice....but that would involve more cooking and washing up now, wouldn't it? :P  I usually have it with a fried egg and some sauteed vegetables to make it a complete meal.

Amp up the flavours of your plain-looking white rice with a generous sprinkling of furikake and it'll taste even more awesome! ^o^

It'd be easier to substitute tamago with a fried egg (which I do since I don't know how to make nor would I go to the trouble of making tamago) and include some veggies for a bit of a Japanese-Chinese fusion sort of meal.

Now who wouldn't want a complete sumptuous meal like that at home which not only looks visually appealing....but followed up with a promising taste too! ^_~

Monday, 14 August 2017

Meng Kee Peking Duck @ Glenmarie, Shah Alam

We were in the vicinity of Port Klang recently to attend the Feast of St Anne as we have done so annually.  By the time mass ended, it was close to noon and since we didn't have any breakfast before that, we decided to head somewhere near for our breakfast cum lunch.  We stopped by at Meng Kee Peking Duck @ Glenmarie, Shah Alam.

Meng Kee Peking Duck is part of a trio of restaurants (under the same ownership) that includes Meng Kee Char Siew (opposite) and Meng Kee Wantan Mee (two shops away).  The last time I was at Meng Kee Wantan Mee, I found out that we could cross order some dishes from Meng Kee Peking Duck (but not the other way round, it seems).  When I noticed fried rice leaving the kitchen towards Meng Kee Wantan Mee next door, I wanted to order that only to be told that I can't.  Even though the fried rice is cooked at Meng Kee Peking Duck's kitchen, we can't order it if it's not on their menu which makes no sense, if you ask me, but who am I to argue if that's how it works.

Well, if you don't know what their specialty is, all you need is to take a look at their canopy.  So, we were left with ordering stir-fry dishes since we weren't in the mood for Peking Duck or steamed (song) fish head which they recommended.

We had Pork Ribs in Peking Sauce (M) @ RM30 which is basically pork ribs drenched in some kind of sticky sweetish sauce that was almost similar to marmite pork ribs.  The price is a bit steep for the portion but, at least, the ribs were very meaty.  Overall, a decent dish.

The Salted Egg Yolk Mantis Prawns (M) also @ RM30 were very crunchy and fragrant with the crisp curry leaves and red bird's eye chillies.  It was delicious as they were very well coated in salted egg yolk.  Mantis prawns are quite ugly-looking creatures in their shell (to me) but once de-shelled and fried, they're yum! ;)

We also had the Prawn Omelette (M) @ RM14.  It's a simple omelette dish which came with good-sized but crunchy (not in a good way) prawns.

The final dish that the four of us shared was the Belacan with 4 Types of Vegetables (M) @ RM16.  This one gets my approval as it came with four-angle beans (and not stinky beans) apart from the usual long beans, ladies fingers and eggplant.

My Personal Opinion

A possible place for stir-fry dishes if you happen to be in the vicinity but don't need to come all the way here just for it as the taste is not above and beyond the many better tai chow places out there.

Restoran Meng Kee Peking Duck
27 Jalan Juruaudit U1/37
Hicom Glenmarie Industrial Park
40150 Shah Alam
Tel: 019-379 3629

Thursday, 10 August 2017

6 Places for Belly-Good Big Breakfasts

These are some of my favourite places for the BBBs (Best Big Breakfasts) ^_~  Or, in my context, the Belly-Good Big Breakfasts I've had the pleasure of eating over the years.  And the benchmark?  Hopefully perfectly cooked eggs and preferably house-made sausages! ^_~

Big Breakfasts are one of the most ordered breakfast dishes in any breakfast/brunch cafes (if it's on the menu) as they appeal to all ages! ;)  I think it has such a drawing power because it really appeals to many local who wouldn't want bacon, sausages, eggs, mushrooms and more on their breakfast plate? It's an all-rounded breakfast dish where you can sink your teeth into a bit of everything....and that sounds mighty fine to a lot of people.

So, here's my list of favourite places for some Belly-Good Big no particular order :)

Let's begin with the one that started it all...Antipodean's Big Breakfast.  There was no way I could list my favourite big breakfasts and not include my very first good one (who can't remember their 'firsts' *wink wink*).   Although it's been more than 3 years, I can still remember the smoky, salty, delicious pork (and beef) sausages that first 'caught' my taste buds.

Loved how Yellow Brick Road elevated simple baked beans in their Big Breakfast Bash.  The unique addition of grilled sweet potatoes was a nice touch and finished with a beautiful presentation in a pan.  Bring your appetite! ^.^

Sunny side up eggs cooked just right.  Good spicy Italian chicken sausage.  Crisp toasted bread with French butter seals the deal in La Casa's One Pan Breakfast.

Awesome 'bursting with flavour' pork sausage.....sooooooooo good!  Crispy bacon...double the pleasure ;)  Stunningly fluffy and creamy scrambled eggs.  Juicy vine tomatoes.  There's nothing I didn't like in Ra.Ft's 'All in One' Breakfast.  Every bite is worth the calories! ^o^

Amazing house-made chicken sausage complemented by charred cherry tomatoes and a sweet corn relish.  Perfectly cooked poached eggs.  Common Man's Full Breakfast is full on! ;)

Table 9 Cafe & Kitchen @ Bangsar

Table 9's Breakfast gets my vote for the creamy scrambled eggs and fluffy french toast.  Loved that there's an option to substitute normal toast with french toast for a nominal fee.  Get ready to eat! ^_^

For me, a big breakfast is an insight to the cafe's food and, depending on how successful that dish is, it gives me an inkling as to just how much I might like the food.  If my memory serves me right, I've not liked a big breakfast at a cafe and not liked the rest of their far! ;P

This list of BBBs is by no means exhaustive...they're just a few of my favourites.  I'm sure there'll be further additions to this list and more excellent big breakfasts waiting to be discovered and devoured in the months ahead.

These places may be worth your while to seek out if you have a thing for big breakfasts.  Belly-good, I tell ya! ^_~

Monday, 7 August 2017

BBQ Garden Restaurant @ Cheras Business Centre

The attraction of smoky grilled meat and seafood on a stick brought us to BBQ Garden Restaurant @ Cheras Business Centre one dinner night.

The place is a simple, no frills restaurant.  It's not even air-conditioned but offers barbequed meat and seafood you don't need to grill yourself...which is music to my ears.

You can order individual skewers of meat from chicken to beef, duck, lamb and pork belly or seafood such as tiger prawns, squid, oysters, scallops and mackerel saury pike.  There are also vegetable options like green beans, enoki mushrooms, Chinese chives, corn, eggplant, baby cabbage and green chillies to bean curd, potatoes and buns.

We decided to go with the YY Big Platter @ RM45.90 which offered greater value and a bit of everything with a combo of 6 meats/seafood and 3 types of vegetables.  The skewers came in twos or fours which is ideal for sharing between two (you can also add on rice for a more filling meal).  All the meats and prawns were marinated in the same spice mix and were very spicy.  In fact, it had a bit of that raw spice taste that I don't really like.

The Big Platter came with two Chicken Wings which were perfectly grilled to the right deliciousness.  The crispy edges of the chicken wings were immensely fragrant and a delight to eat.  I thought the chicken wing was the only meat that absorbed the marinade the best and didn't taste as spicy as some of the other things on the platter.

The Grilled Pork Belly skewers, with the desired caramelisation, remained juicy and really fragrant around the edges.  It would have been better if it didn't taste so spicy.

The Grilled Chicken Fillet skewers I didn't care as much for as they were very dry and, of course, spicy.

The Grilled Tiger Prawns were fresh but there wasn't much 'penetrated' flavour in the flesh once they were de-shelled since the spice mix clung onto the shells.  The Taiwan Sausages offered a bit of sweetness and some respite from all the heat in the other meats.

The Grilled Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms sounded like a dynamite combo but the bacon turned out to be soft (instead of crisp) probably due to the release of water from the mushrooms.

Grilled Vegetables of Corn and Green Beans together with Grilled Enoki Mushrooms round up the YY Big Platter.  I thought the fiery spices overpowered the natural sweetness of the vegetables.

On top of all that spiciness, you're given a chilli dip to spice up your skewered meats even more.....that's spicy on spicy!  I had to call for additional mineral water (with lots of ice) to put out the fire in my mouth! O_o

Now you would think that spicy is the only option for the skewered meats but apparently it wasn't.  And that brings me to my side story.

#Side Story 1

Although I did see an option for spicy or honey at the bottom of the menu for the individual skewers but it wasn't stated on the Big Platter and I promptly forgot all about it when I placed the order.

When I went to look at the menu to make additional orders, the guy at the counter (I think he's the owner) asked me if I wanted spicy or not spicy.  That's when I went, "Huh, got not spicy?" (in Cantonese lah).  I said to him that I wasn't told that by the guy who took my initial orders.  He further said that I could also ask for a mixture of spicy and non-spicy for my skewers.  What the hell!! :>(  Was that so difficult for the server to ask me?  There were only two options for God's sake.  Isn't it presumptuous of him to think everyone would want spicy and can take that level of heat?  He can't assume that I've been there before....and, as a first timer, I wouldn't know the options available to me.  (Even when ordering a RM6.50 bowl of curry mee at Jia Li Mian, I was promptly told that they have two types of curry mee...on each visit!).  At that point, the owner looked non-apologetic and also seemed to be not too concerned that his staff flubbed up.  Brushing that aside, I went ahead to make my additional orders.

Since we enjoyed the pork belly the most, I made an additional order for individual skewers of Grilled Pork Belly @ RM10.90 (5 sticks).  This time, knowing that there's an option for non-spicy, I went with that.  This was so much better as you can taste the fragrant pork belly without the spiciness drowning the natural taste.

I also asked for an additional order of Grilled Green Beans @ RM5 (3 sticks) and (again) requested for non-spicy of course.  Finally, I can taste the green beans without the spiciness overtaking my taste buds.  Note that the green beans are listed as long beans in the menu.  For me, I find RM5 for the green beans (or any of the other vegetables for that matter) rather expensive since you're effectively getting the equivalent of 6 pieces of green beans that have been cut into halves (wow, just imagine their profit margin for this....absolutely ridiculous)!  And they obviously know that we have to at least order some vegetables to go with this all-meat affair.

And you would think that that's the end of the story.  Not quite.

#Side Story 2

On reaching home, some two hours later, I happen to look at the receipt and realised that we were charged for two items that we didn't consume.  Since the wrongly charged amount came up to about 30% of our total bill, I thought it was sizeable enough to return to get a refund.  Actually, I was more 'motivated' to return to highlight that a mistake was made than to get my refund of RM21.

On reaching there, what transpired wasn't something I expected.  On seeing (and recognising) me, the owner got up from a table (outside) together with a pregnant lady (whom I'm assuming is his wife).  I explained to him that I was overcharged for two items I didn't get.  His initial demeanour that surprised me was one of disbelief (you'd think I'd drive all the way back here just to claim RM21 if it wasn't true?).

He proceeded to check the order chits which was fine by me.  He showed me my order chit and said, "See, you did order these two items."  That was when it all came back to me...yes, we did write down those two orders (for individual skewers) before we realised the big platter offered a better value and decided to cancel the individual skewers.

We subsequently cancelled those two orders by crossing it out.  I told him what was there not to understand with a horizontal line crossing out each order.  I said obviously your kitchen understood the order chit since we weren't served those two orders.  At this point, he got a little worked up but I was more appalled at what came out of his mouth next...he said I should have checked the bill! O_o

Now how is it that a mistake made by him suddenly becomes my fault! @_@  Yes, I could have checked the bill but I certainly can't be faulted if I didn't coz if I was billed correctly in the first place, I wouldn't have needed to check the bill.  I said, "You made the mistake but now you want to put the blame on me?".  There were some raised voices and, in the end, he did refund me but at no time did he offer me an apology nor admit he made a mistake.

My Personal Opinion

The fact that the owner wasn't even apologetic tells me a lot...and if that's how he wants to conduct his business, he can very well do without my business.  I'm sure he couldn't care less if he had one less customer.

As for the food, the taste was just one note...overly spicy with everything marinated in the same spice mix or non-spicy with only salt and pepper.  It's so spicy, it numbs your taste buds and you can't taste much of anything else after that.  Plus, there's only one dip...and (no prize for guessing) it's also one-dimensional...super spicy.  So, if you have a low tolerance for heat, you only have one option here.  And the other choice of honey is only recommended for certain skewers.

Even if the food was great (and it clearly wasn't), there's no way I will go back there, nay, hell no! Was that explicit enough? >:(  In this day and age, customer-friendly service matters and I can very well take my hard-earned money and spend it elsewhere.  It obviously doesn't matter one bit to him...well, good his longevity in this business with an attitude like that! :P

BBQ Garden Restaurant
68-0-9 Jalan 5/101c
Cheras Business Centre
56000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-9133 6280

Friday, 4 August 2017

Acme Bar & Coffee @ Pavilion Elite

After a positive dining experience with friends and loving the ambience, I returned 4 weeks later to Acme Bar & Coffee @ Pavilion Elite, this time with family.

I came back to eat the very two things I enjoyed the most on my last visit here (but minus the amazing dessert of Sizzling Coconut Nangka Brownie).

To start the ball rolling, we had the Octopus Carpaccio @ RM27 featuring Australian octopus with dry capers, salted egg and salmon roe in a raspberry-strawberry soy vinaigrette.

The fresh and tender slices of octopus, the added crunch from the thinly shredded cucumber, all the components worked well together to bring a harmonious and terrifically balanced flavour of salty, sour and sweet to make this a truly refreshing starter.

The raspberry-strawberry soy vinaigrette was an uplifting dressing guaranteed to wake up your taste buds. Taken in one bite with a bit of was fresh, it was delicious, it was perfect! ^o^

Our next sharing plate was the Salted Egg Yolk Chicken Strips @ RM23 comprising of fried chicken strips in a salted egg yolk coating.  The battered chicken strips with its generous salted egg yolk coating were utterly crispy and pleasurable.

The taste and aroma is further heightened by the crisped up curry leaves and just the right amount of heat from the red bird's eye chillies.  What can we say, we love our salted egg yolk in anything! ;)

Since I enjoyed the blackened salmon in the Sea-to-Land Sharing Platter I had the last time, our first order of main was the you-guessed-it-right Blackened Salmon Steak @ RM59 with cajun spice and caramelised spicy miso.

Served with an avocado and pineapple salsa, juicy cherry tomatoes, some fresh greens and a piece of garlic baguette, the salmon was perfectly cooked and still pinkish in the middle.

Loved the creamy avocado mash but would have appreciated the use of fresh pineapple chunks in the salsa instead of tinned ones which tasted artificially sweeter than juicy fresh ones.

The other protein I had a taste of in the Sea-to-Land Sharing Platter and liked a lot was the grilled lime chicken which can be found in the Spring Noodle Bowl @ RM35, so I had to have that.  It's a bowl of e-fu noodles with grilled lime chicken, avocado slices, quail eggs, spiral vegetable curls of cucumber and carrot, cherry tomatoes, corn salsa (with small cubes of green bell peppers, tomatoes and olives) and some pickled ginger with a chilli oil and soy sauce at the bottom.

Absolutely adored the zesty, tangy flavours of lime in the grilled lime chicken (not sure what the topping on the chicken was made up of but the savouriness of it went rather well with the chicken).

I'm not sure if we were supposed to toss everything together but I didn't as I thought that some of the ingredients would probably taste weird if tossed together with the noodles (like the avocado and pickled ginger).  The egg and vegetables would probably be good tossed with the noodles, maybe even the corn salsa and cherry tomatoes.  So, I ate the components separately and it was nice that way.  The avocado was the only odd component I found in the dish as the creaminess of it didn't sync with the rest of the ingredients IMHO.

Loved the slightly chewy and spongy texture of the noodles and was pleasantly surprised just how good the flavours of the sauce for the noodles were.  A pleasing balance of saltiness with a hint of spiciness....just delish! ;)

Our drinks of Twinings English Breakfast Tea @ RM11 and Shaken Honey Lemon @ RM17 of honey with fresh lemon and lime.

Drinks are pretty expensive here with iced drinks costing between RM17 - RM19 and hot drinks between RM9 - RM15.  There's always complimentary water which we were served promptly once seated (but that wasn't the case on my first trip here though...I had to ask).

My Personal Opinion

Although I've read some negative reviews of this place, I have to say I was pretty pleased with both the food and service on my two visits except for the overpriced drinks that didn't impress.

The Spring Noodle Bowl wasn't something I thought I would enjoy but I did!  Try the blackened salmon steak and grilled lime chicken or a bit of both in the Sea-to-Land Sharing Platter.  Both starters I had (from the Raw Bar section of the menu) I liked too (and you will too if you enjoy tangy flavours).

This was a place where the ratings weren't very flattering and yet it turned out better than I had hoped (in fact, even better than some I tried with higher ratings)...go figure! ^_~  So, don't take anyone's word for it...always try it out at least once (or twice in my case) to find out for yourself.

Acme Bar & Coffee
Lot 3.100.00 Level 3
Pavilion Elite Kuala Lumpur
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2110 3373

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

How to make Perfectly Golden Fried Garlic

Freshly fried minced garlic is an essential staple in many Chinese households (or at least in my household) we can use it in so many ways.

It's the basic aromatics and base (sometimes together with shallots and ginger) for any Chinese cooking.

It's especially handy to have in our kitchen whenever we make fried or steamed fish and oyster vegetables. Or simply, we need it in all our stir-fry dishes or just about any cooked dish as a matter of fact.

So, making a fresh batch of fried garlic when I'm out is of great importance.  It saves me the time of chopping fresh garlic each time I cook.  But, more importantly, I need it to sprinkle over my instant noodles, fried rice, porridge, soups, sometimes even over plain rice, if I feel like it.

You may think making perfectly golden fried garlic is easy.....well, it's not! :P  It takes practice to get it perfect.  I had to try quite a few times to get it right.  So, let me share with you my tips on how to get it right.

With any fried garlic recipe, you start with chopped garlic....easy-peasy, right? ;)  Not quite...coz you need one that's not too fine and not too chunky.

#Tip 1 - The chopped garlic has to be just the right size...too fine and it'll burn very quickly...and too chunky, it'll not brown evenly.

I used to use an electric chopper to do the job but soon realised that my fried garlic tend to stick to the pan during the frying process.  This (I believe) is due to the fact that the resulting blitzed garlic tends to be mushy and wet thus making it sticky when fried.

#Tip 2 - Chop the garlic the traditional way for best hand!  Ok-lah, not quite by hand entirely (too much work) but by using a hand-operated gadget (like the one I have) that won't result in mushy chopped garlic.  But if you don't have a gadget you can rely on to do this, then chopping by hand the traditional way will be best way to go about it.

Just press the plunger and chop until you reach your desired size...the more you press the plunger, the finer the chop.  Since this chopper is small, I break up one whole bulb of garlic into two portions to chop to allow more room for the garlic to move about.

I always open up the see-through container at the bottom to check if the garlic has reached the desired size I want and because it's done manually, I'm in control of how fine I want my chopped garlic to be.  This contraption (I have to say) is one of my better buys in terms of kitchen tools.

Now that you've gotten your chopped garlic ready, it's time to fry up these babies.  This is also not as easy as it seems.  I failed a couple of times to get the right browning, so let me share with you my boo-boos in the hope you'll get it right the first time.

#Tip 3 - The oil mustn't be too hot (use just enough oil to cover the garlic), otherwise the garlic will burn instantly around the outer ring of your small pan before the rest gets browned.  It's better for the oil to be not hot enough than too hot.

#Tip 4 - Stir the chopped garlic continuously (and turn the heat to medium-low heat as soon as the garlic goes in).  This will ensure even browning as the garlic bits around the outer ring (where the temperature is the hottest) will brown faster than the rest...and you don't want that (aka uneven browning)!

#Tip 5 - Take the fried garlic off the heat the moment it starts to brown.  And not a moment later.....sooner rather than later!  This takes a bit of practice (by eyeballing it) to determine when exactly it's considered starting to brown.

That's because the garlic will continue to cook in the residual heat even after it has been dished up.  Leave it out to cool for the next 5 - 10 minutes and it'll turn into a perfect golden brown as it cools.  If you take it out only after it has achieved the desired browning, it'll be too late as it'll be too far browned when cooled (and that has happened to me before).

Of course, taking the fried garlic off the heat at the right moment isn't the easiest to judge.  So, my advice is to take it out sooner rather than later.  If you find that it's not browned enough (after it has cooled which I've also experienced before), you can still make it right by putting it back into the pan and heating it up again but you can't save it once it has gone too far browned.

Practice makes perfect...and soon you'll be able to judge exactly when is the right time to take it out. ^_~

Sometimes, the simplest thing to make look simple enough but turns out to be not so simple after all.  So I hope these little tips I've shared will help you achieve the much wanted perfectly golden fried garlic each and every time you make it! ^o^

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