Monday, 30 July 2018

Just One Food - Winter Melon Wife Cake (from Hong Kong)

I absolutely love this traditional Hong Kong delicacy they call "Wife or Sweetheart cake" or "Lo Por Paeng". There are many different versions/stories on the origins of these Wife cakes if you google it.

This Wife cake is made up of a thin crust of flaky pastry with a candied winter melon filling.  I'm not sure what else goes into the making of this filling but may contain white sesame seeds, almond paste, glutinous rice flour, desiccated coconut and/or vanilla.

You can find these sold by some biscuit shops locally, some of which I've tried but they aren't quite as delicious as the ones from Hong Kong.  These soft and flaky pastries are very popular in Hong Kong.

I first ate these Hong Kong ones when my previous employer brought them back for his staff during his business trips to Hong Kong.  I ate them many times and recall that they had very flaky crusts so much so that the pastry would crumble in your hands as soon as you lift them up.

I thought they were very good then until I was introduced to the ones made by Kee Wah Bakery (also from Hong Kong).  They were even better! ^o^

Of course, they're very good....was there any doubt since they've been churning out these goodies since 1938! O_o

The sweetened winter melon paste was absolutely gorgeous...not too sweet, just, so delectable! ^o^

My neighbour's son would gift them to me when he returns to Malaysia for holidays (via Hong Kong enroute to visit his wife's parents)...and he has bought them twice for me thus far.  They have a very short shelf life (about 4 days) since they're freshly baked without preservatives.

There are 8 pieces in one box....and since I wasn't able to finish them (before expiry date), I had to give some away.

Even then I still couldn't finish them in time (as I limit myself to eating only one a day) and that was when I noticed some instructions on the bottom of the box.  I may not read Chinese but I certainly knew what I could do with it.  So, I stashed the last two pastries in the fridge.

And proceeded to reheat them (the next day) as per instructions.  I didn't put it in the oven to bake at 180°C but just put it in my toaster oven to reheat for about 5 minutes.

Guess what?  They turned out even better.  The flaky pastry, through the reheating process, came out all crisped up and smelling even more fragrant.  Now that I know it can be stored (for an extended period of time) in the fridge and reheated without the taste being compromised, the next time I was gifted these, I wasn't about to share....wuahahahaha! :D

I find that this candied winter melon paste isn't very sweet, compared to some of the ones I've eaten before, and that's why I like it so much.  I usually try to stay away from sweet stuff...but this one, I'll make an's that good! ^.^

If you happen to visit Hong Kong (for pleasure or business) and you want to bring home some 'souvenirs' for family, friends or colleagues, you may want to consider this.  I think it'll be a good choice...and they will surely thank you (I know I would) for giving them a delicious 'souvenir' that they can eat....rather than one of those crappy keychains...wakakakaka! ;D

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Malaysia Boleh! 2 @ Shoppes at Four Seasons Place

Since reconnecting with my favourite curry laksa on our last visit here, we've been back to Malaysia Boleh! @ Shoppes at Four Seasons Place more frequently to have our curry fix.

Love those cute hanging lights that look like chicken coops and decor of various bird cages hanging from the ceiling.

It's difficult to come here and not be tempted to have my no. 1 favourite curry laksa each and every time....but try out some of the other stalls, I must.

One of my first picks was the (Te Qi) Ipoh Buntong Bean Sprout Chicken stall as I got to see what they were serving first hand since they were just next to the Jalan Imbi Ah Yen Curry Mee.

What I saw was enough to convince me to try.  A plate of chicken rice costs between RM8 - RM12 depending on the cut of chicken you want.  If you want a bigger portion, you can order a whole chicken (RM60), half chicken (RM32), 1/4 chicken-upper (RM16) or 1/4 chicken-lower.  Since this is "nga choy kai", obviously "nga choy" (beansprouts) will be offered as a side dish.

We went for the Quarter Chicken (Lower) @ RM18 served with crunchy Japanese cucumber and Chinese coriander with a light drizzle of soy+garlic oil+fried garlic bits.  The poached chicken was irreproachably smooth, absolutely tender and garlicky fragrant.  I found myself eating the skin (which I don't normally do) coz it was really smooth without any fats.  Some might find the prices a bit steep but this is "choy yin kai", so the premium prices seem justified.

I had the poached chicken with an additional order of chicken rice @ RM2.  The rice (slightly broken) was alright but I loved the serving of the fresh chillies+garlic dip and minced fresh ginger that came with it.  The ginger paste here takes on a darker colour as I believe this one has been cooked down due to the layer of oil surrounding it.  It's less pungent than the usual fresh ginger mince but still very tasty.

In my first visit to Malaysia Boleh!, I noticed a guy that looked like he was running the place.  He looked familiar to me and I asked the curry laksa lady if he's the char kway teow fella from Mei Sin...and she says he is (I actually bumped into him at another coffee shop, Kedai Kopi Yuyi in Pudu, where he moved to briefly, and left the running of the original stall in Mei Sin to his son).  I did speak to him later and he told me that he takes charge of the food (while another takes care of the premises) he owns one of the stalls here.

And that stall is obviously (Yong Kee) Char Kuay Tiao, so I ordered a plate of Char Kway Teow @ RM9 (the regular portion was rather small and gets you two prawns only, RM12 for large).  He has tasked the frying of the noodles to someone else, of course, but it's still a pretty decent plate of CKT with a bit of "wok hei" going on.  Personally, I prefer his 'touch' (maybe it's just in my head).  The other thing I noticed was that there weren't any cockles! >_<

The Penang Fried Oyster @ RM12 (regular, RM15 for large), fried with egg and green onions in a tapioca starch slurry, seems to be well-received by many but I found the oysters smallish (either that or there weren't enough of them) and not quite bursting with juices when I bit into them.  The tapioca starch slurry wasn't thin enough to be cooked till crispy and ended up slightly gooey.

The Penang Fried Carrot Cake @ RM8 (regular, RM10 for large) was more than decent with crunchy beansprouts and cooked with two eggs (yes, two!).  The "chai tao kway" was nicely soft and well fried with crusty bits around the edges.  I certainly wouldn't mind a bit more "wok hei" and caramelisation.

On one of our visits, I decided to try the Penang Hokkien (aka Prawn) Mee @ RM10 since it's one of my favourite soup-type noodles to eat.  They were quite generous with the prawn broth so much so that the ingredients were submerged in the broth.  I had to do a little 're-arrangement' for the photo op so that the ingredients can be visible.

The bowl came filled with the usual ingredients of prawns, half a hard-boiled egg, lean pork slices, fried shallots, kangkung and beansprouts (they forgot that I asked for the beansprouts to be omitted).  They aren't very good at customising what you want or remembering your specific request.

The broth (this was after I added two dollops of sambal in it) turned out better than I expected...full of prawn shells flavour and (as you can see) with a fairly thick consistency (unlike some of the clearer and lighter broths I've had at some places).  The taste of the broth was more savoury than sweet (so it will be preferred by those who like the soup base savoury).  Perhaps one thing that could be improved would be a bit more of that lovely prawn oil in the broth.  Luckily, the broth was good as the prawns weren't.  They were those translucent type with a crunchy texture (of frozen prawns) which I don't favour as much + they were missing the inherent sweetness of sea prawns that I love.

Of course, no trip here is ever complete without an order of Ah Yen's Jalan Imbi Curry Mee @ RM9 that never fails to impress.  Again, there was no bloody "see hum" (pun intended). >_<  I now wonder if Malaysia Boleh! is a cockles-free place...yikes & booooo!....since there weren't any in the curry laksa or the char kway teow! T_T

My Personal Opinion

Some are bound to say that prices are on the higher side compared to hawker stalls.  Of course it will but I think a satisfying meal + drink for just under RM15 is more than reasonable for the dining comfort, cleanliness and convenience (not to mention the background music) that we get to enjoy! ;)

The hawker fare here (at least the ones I've tried so far) can certainly hold their own compared to some of the real hawker stalls out there.  Personal favourites this round were the prawn mee, Ipoh beansprout chicken and fried carrot cake.  Definitely a worthwhile place to eat if you're working in the vicinity or just in the vicinity.

Malaysia Boleh! (Food Court)
B1-01B Shoppes at Four Seasons Place
145 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur

Monday, 23 July 2018

Liang Sandwich Bar @ Sunway Velocity

It was in one of my trips to this mall that I chanced upon Liang Sandwich Bar @ Sunway Velocity (their 8th outlet) which has been opened for just a month (since 9 June 2018) when I visited.

I guess I was first attracted to the food kiosk by the horde of customers surrounding the stall.

Curious, I just had to join the crowd to see what it was about.  As I inched nearer, I was confronted with the life-sized poster of celebrity Jay Chou, presumably the brand ambassador for Liang Sandwich Bar.  Ah, now I understand why this stall intrigued people.

As I approached, I noticed that a staff member was frying up what looked like roti canai to me on an electric grill behind a glass enclosure.  I later found out that they're actually a spin on the Taiwanese traditional onion pancake.

The staff (aka the 'cook') would tear off these frozen-like discs or pancakes sandwiched between two sheets of plastic (much like one would unveil a Ramly burger).

These are then placed on an electric grill to cook and fluff up (or rehydrate as you will).  It was amazing to see just how quickly these frozen discs fluff up to become a roti canai.

The grill can take up to 10 pancakes at a time....and they're flipped continuously throughout the cooking process to get the desired browning and fluffiness.

Once they're nicely browned, the 'cook' will proceed to fluff them with a pair of tongs and metal spatula.  The resulting sandwich, or shall I say a roti canai lookalike, is similar to one that has been fluffed up with both hands much like how a roti canai man in a mamak stall will do it.

And that essentially is what this Liang Sandwich Bar is all about....churning out takeaway sandwiches that you can eat on the go, like you would a burrito or taco.

The so-called sandwich is folded into half and put in a small paper bag that can be easily grasped by hand and eaten on the go since there's no option for dine-in at the kiosk.

I think they called it a sandwich because you can choose to have the basic pancake with a number of fillings thus making it more like a sandwich.  There are a total of ten options which include:

  • Scallions Sandwich (RM3.90), the most basic one
  • Scallions Sandwich with Egg (RM4.90)
  • Cheese & Egg Sandwich (RM6.90)
  • Chicken Ham & Egg Sandwich (RM6.90)
  • Mushroom & Egg Sandwich (RM6.90)
  • Tuna Mayo Sandwich (RM7.90)
  • Chicken Floss Sandwich (RM7.90)
  • Sambal Ikan Bilis Sandwich (RM7.90)
  • Chicken Patty Sandwich (RM8.90)
  • Chicken Bolognese Sandwich (RM8.90) - Jay Chou's choice

But, after taking a look at the possible fillings on site, most of which are processed food, I don't think I'd want any of the fillings.

Other than the basic scallion sandwich, the rest comes with an option to choose the sauce (maximum of two sauces) of your choice from cheese, mayonnaise, chili, black pepper, mustard, tomato or liang sauce (Jay Chou's choice).  I've no idea what liang sauce is.

I ordered the most basic one to start, the Scallions Sandwich @ RM3.90, as I wanted to taste the original scallion pancake.  Just make your orders at the cashier after which your receipt will contain an order number...then wait for the order to come up on the screen to collect your sandwiches.  So far, I've experienced a wait of between 10 - 20 minutes for my order to be fulfilled.

It tasted exactly like a roti canai....only better-tasting and less greasy...and with one subtle difference...the taste of scallions.  The layers of dough imparted a thin, crispy and fluffy texture unlike the doughy and sometimes overly greasy roti canaiThis is one roti that's delicious without the need for it to be eaten with a curry...hehe! ;D  The sandwich remained crisp even after I reached home and eaten more than half an hour later.

It also had this delicious aroma of scallions which was immediately prominent once you get a whiff of the pancake.  I loved the onion-y flavour that the scallions in the pancake imparted, so obviously you have to be a fan of this onion-like flavour in order to love this.  I also like the fact that this pancake isn't greasy as I didn't see any oil used in the cooking of it (although the flat grill did have some oil marks which I believe came from the process of rehydrating the pancake itself).

The next time I was in Sunway Velocity, I grabbed the Scallions Sandwich with Egg @ RM4.90 as it'd be a take on roti telur (I thought) which happens to be a favourite of mine.

They make this by pouring in a ladle of beaten egg onto the grill and then putting the already fluffed up pancake on top of it, so this was different from a roti telur which encases the egg inside the roti.

They asked what sauce (a maximum of two) I would like with my sandwich and I went with black pepper coz the rest of the sauces weren't all that interesting and I didn't know what liang sauce was.

In hindsight, I shouldn't have asked for any sauce as it made the crisp roti canai wet and soggy.  So, if I were to have it again, I'd definitely omit the sauce.  Even the egg made the roti lose a bit of that crispiness and, because of that, I don't think I'd enjoy one with fillings and sauce.

As to how crispy and fluffy your sandwich will turn out to be very much depends on the 'cook' that day as I felt mine wasn't as crispy and fluffy when I had it the second time round.  That's because I noticed the 'cook' turning and flipping it constantly on my first visit which I didn't see a different 'cook' do as constantly on my second visit.

My Personal Opinion

With its origins from Taiwan, this food franchise seems to have made its debut in Malaysia a few months ago without much fanfare (compared to some other franchises).

With more outlets scheduled to open in various shopping malls in KL like Pavilion (this outlet just opened last week) and Mid Valley, Penang and Johor, I (personally) believe this snack chain will do well since roti canai appeal to many Malaysian palettes as they're so widely eaten here.

After tasting this sandwich, which is predominantly a roti canai that isn't greasy, I'll never look at a roti canai quite the same way again!  I'd certainly prefer a non-greasy over a greasy one made with lots of unhealthy ghee.  Plus this one also has a more crispy and fluffy texture.  My choice, over and over again, would be the basic scallions pancake for its original taste and its ability to retain the crispiness and fluffiness.

If you can get past paying RM3.90 (maybe considered expensive by some) for a roti canai 'impersonator' (kekeke!) but with the added taste of scallions, then by all means do give this a try. Those who crave for a roti canai (but can't have it too often) now have an option of a better-tasting, non-greasy roti canai over an unhealthy one.  Now who wouldn't want that! ^_~

Liang Sandwich Bar
Lot B-47D Sunway Velocity
Lingkaran SV
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 012-283 0228

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Osaka Kitchen, J's Gate Dining @ Lot 10 Shopping Centre

J's Gate Dining in Lot 10 Shopping Centre now houses 16 speciality restaurants on one floor (with one casualty so far, Tokyo Obanzai Hachi).  I've visited two of them, Bonta Bonta and Kaisen Don Kinme and end up liking both.

The latest to open (a little over a month ago) is Osaka Kitchen, J's Gate Dining @ Lot 10 Shopping Centre (which we've been looking forward to), specialising in teppanyaki and okonomiyaki cooked on an iron griddle in front of diners.

Since we're here for the teppanyaki, let's start with that.  You can choose from either chicken (RM37), pork (RM42) or beef teppanyaki (I didn't see a seafood choice) but the surprising thing though was that the various teppanyaki choices all come in a set course.  You can't order just the meat and have it commonly served with rice and vegetables like in most teppanyaki joints I've been to.

For the beef course, there's a choice of Beef Rump Steak (RM80) or Beef Sirloin Steak (RM160).  I also saw a note at the bottom detailing the additional cost for the Japanese Beef Sirloin Steak (+RM80) and Japanese Beef Fillet Steak (+RM140) which would mean that the prices will be jacked up to RM240 or RM300 (yikes!) if you want Japanese beef (so I'm assuming the earlier two choices are Australian beef perhaps?).

Haiz, all so expensive, I had to settle for the cheapest option, the Beef Rump Steak Course @ RM80.  Funny thing was, the server didn't ask me how I want my beef done.  I'm not sure if it's an error on her part or they actually don't give you a choice on how you like it cooked.  She said they usually cook it to medium before I asked if I could have it medium rare and then she said it's cooked between medium rare to medium (it felt like she was just pacifying and/or accommodating me by including the words 'medium rare' in her sentence) :P

Since my beef rump steak comes in a set meal, the course began with the appetiser which turned out to be a fresh salad.

It had crunchy lettuce, shredded cabbage, capsicum slivers and cherry tomatoes topped with some tiny crispy silver fish in a light shoyu dressing.  Very refreshing starter.

Next to arrive was the Japanese Omelette with Pork Belly.  This was basically just a fluffy omelette wrapped with finely chopped pork belly.

Served with a drizzle of mayonnaise and a sprinkling of aonori (green seaweed flakes) in a slightly sweetish teriyaki-like (okonomiyaki?) sauce, it was temptingly tasty. ^o^

Then we were served the Seared Specialty Sesame Tofu.  Don't be fooled by the word 'tofu' as it was unlike the texture of tofu I was expecting.  The texture caught me completely off-guard.

It had a lightly seared outer layer that was fragrant but it was very wobbly and gooey with a chewy, flour-y taste.  It was like I was eating an extremely soft version of radish cake (or mochi).  It had this gel-like consistency that I found unpleasant (though I've read reviews raving about this dish).  Maybe I was supposed to eat it with the wasabi (but I don't eat wasabi!) to cut through that gummy texture.

The Grilled Avocado with Melted Cheese was next.  The way they cook this is they sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of an avocado slice.  They let it cook on the teppanyaki grill (covered) until the cheese melts and forms a crisp layer of cheese (those that fell off the avocado and onto the grill).  It's finished with a sprinkling of aonori.

Well, if you like cheese and you like'll like this.  It's a simple rendition of soft, creamy avocado and cheese with a few cheesy crisps.  Again, not my favourite (since I'm not a cheese person) + it also felt rich as it was creamy (cheese) on creamy (avocado).

Finally, it was time for the main, the Beef Rump Steak was served with some garlic crisps, fried pea shoots and a dipping sauce (of probably soy, mirin and grated daikon) that's somewhat similar to those served with tempura.

I've turned one of the pieces around so that you can judge the doneness.  As you can see, it was just a little pink in the centre, so it was much more medium than it was medium rare although it did have that perfect searing on the outside.  Because it was cooked more than I would have liked, perhaps that contributed to the meat being not as tender but still came off pleasantly tasty and I enjoyed the pea shoots very much (there was so little of it though)! ^.^

In the end, I was glad that I didn't choose the more expensive beef cuts since we don't have a choice on how we want our meat done.  I hope this was not a case of the server (who served us) not doing her job properly! >_<  Anyway, do make a request for your choice of doneness (when you eat here) just to be sure.

Our other main was the Okonomi-yaki Course @ RM45 that offers the same courses as the one before but only the pork okonomiyaki is available for the set meal.  If ordered as a stand-alone dish, you have a choice of pork (RM23), pork & squid (RM29), mixed with pork, squid & prawn (RM32) and Osaka Kitchen's special with pork, squid, prawn, beef & avocado (RM40).

Okonomiyaki is basically a Japanese-style savoury pancake made from flour, eggs, cabbage and Japanese yam with various toppings.  It's then drizzled with generous amounts of Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce (a mix of soy sauce, ketchup and Worchestershire sauce) and finished with an equally generous sprinkling of aonori and katsuobushi (bonito flakes).

This was my first time trying okonomiyaki, so I didn't know what to expect.  First mouthful, it tasted very similar to takoyaki to me but I'd rather have takoyaki than this okonomiyaki coz then it'll be stuffed with my favourite baby octopus.  I felt that it had too much batter and not enough filling.

Maybe it's because this one is a pork version which I didn't fancy.  Perhaps, a seafood version with either prawns, octopus, squid or scallops may be more my cup of tea.  Besides okonomi-yaki, they also offer yaki-soba (though it wasn't available yet on our visit).

To end our meal, the dessert of the day was ice cream (as told by the server) and we were asked to make a choice between matcha, vanilla or yuzu.  We picked vanilla.....

......and yuzu.  Let's just say the ice cream was more icy than creamy! >.<  The yuzu one tasted more like a sorbet.

The best part about the dessert were the pretty transparent plates they came in...haha! :D

Though the staff were courteous and proactive (refilling our green tea and clearing our finished plates), they were also very flustered with their service.  Some of the issues were....1) the various courses did not come in sequence (as per the menu), 2) we had to remind them of one forgotten course, 3) they brought us one course twice and 4) one of the mains (the okonomiyaki) arrived after the first two courses!

I think they have to rethink their execution...and soon.  They need to find a better system to execute the various courses to know who got what.  Perhaps, they should consider sending out all four small dishes at once (in one tray) instead of course by course.  That way, there will be no confusion as to which courses have been fulfilled for which diner.  And once the diner has finished all his four starters, they only need to follow up on the main and the dessert.

My Personal Opinion

The teppanyaki didn't impress as much as I thought it would.  Not having a say in the meat doneness, I can just as easily go to Tamaruya Meat Master (also at Lot 10) and have my fill of beef done exactly to my liking....with bigger portions and cheaper prices too (and what I pay goes directly into the amount of meat and not get 'wasted' on side dishes that I could do without (since I ended up liking only two out of the four courses).

As for the okonomiyaki, it too didn't turn out to be the tasty treat that I was expecting.  Hmmm, I'm not sure if I'll be back.  I mean I know I'll be back to J's Gate Dining, I'm just not sure if I'll return to this particular restaurant.  If I do return (and that's a big maybe), it'll be for the teppanyaki, not the okonomiyaki! ;)

Osaka Kitchen, J's Gate Dining
Unit Level 4
Lot 10 Shopping Centre
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2110 3591

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