Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Favourite 'Good Eats' of 2018

It's been a week since my last post...have you missed me? ;)  No?!!  Well, as I bid farewell to 2018 and say hello to 2019, it's customary for me to do a round up post of some of my favourite good eats of 2018.  You can check out my previous 2017 list here.

A magical place (that's in disguise as a beautiful cafe ^_~) for great coffees and some good foie gras.  You'd want to sit...and linger.

Rest assured that you'll be in capable hands here.  This has to go down as one of the most memorable and enjoyable (new) dining experience I had last year...and it also happened to be my first tomahawk experience.  Now, who wouldn't want to eat this more often but we all know how expensive they can be (prices are even scarier if they're wagyu tomahawks...let's not even go there)! :P

But the one here is at least affordably-priced and of a good quality for the price paid too.  Respectably executed.  Beautifully seared.  Awesome taste.  I'm drooling over this stunningly succulent piece of meat as I'm writing this.  Just look at can anyone resist that? ^o^

But they aren't just about the tomahawk here....their other dishes like parmesan cauliflower, fried calamari, salted egg custard prawns, soy glazed chicken wings and grilled Portuguese chicken & dirty rice are worthy of mention too.

Bonta Bonta, J's Gate Dining @ Lot 10 Shopping Centre

If eel rice bowls is your weakness (as it is mine), this place offers irreproachably tender-sweet unagi with a smoky finish for one of the best value unagi you're going to find.

Satisfy your curiosity with an Iberico pork-focussed menu with some tasty starters and sides.  Finish on a sweet note with the decadent Chocolate Mousse and Lemon Meringue Pie.  Plus you'll be glad to know that kids eat for free here.

A great venue for family dinners, if you can stand the heat, that won't burn a hole in your pocket.  Choose from pork to chicken to beef to seafood and indulge in a hot sizzling 'affair'.  Must not forget an order of the Spicy Rice Balls...and guess what?  You don't really have to make them into balls! :P

Skive is a worthy destination if you intend to play hooky...haha! :D  Portions here are build to feed an army (ok-lah, maybe not quite an army) but certainly big enough for two, maybe even this immensely fragrant, evenly browned Whole Spring Ayam Berempah.  Bring your appetite, people.

Plus there are various house-made breads, home-made cakes and house-churned ice cream for those times in-between...washed down with coffees, tea or even sodas.

Bait @ Bangsar

This was the most impressive Seafood Aglio-Olio I've had with super fresh seafood and kitchen-made pasta (there's nothing like freshly made pasta).  I took the would too.  This was my other favourite meal of 2018. ^.^

Delirium Cafe @ Suria KLCC

The place really beckons you to sit and relax with a beer in hand.  I guess if you're a beer drinker, you may be in a state of delirium after a couple of imported Belgium craft beers.  But I wouldn't know (since I don't drink beer) but the lunch sets are pretty delirious too, especially the Skillet Beef Aglio Olio.

One of my favourite go-to places for simple, fuss-free and very affordable Japanese food.  Simply put, I've enjoyed almost everything I've eaten here...from comforting and hearty rice bowls of beef tongue, mentai-seared tamago and unagi to mentaiko fries to butter-garlic clams.

Steaks & Lobsters @ Desa Sri Hartamas

Always a good choice for steaks (and sometimes lobsters too) but, if you have the cash to splash, get the wagyu instead.  And not to mention, all sides are absolutely delicious...and refillable...which is a rarity! ^_~

Maven Coffee Store @ Taman Shamelin Perkasa

This final destination sneaked into the list, not because of its splendid food, but because of its splendid coffees that's nearest to me where parking is plenty and free.

The list isn't long (as my makan escapades have slowed down considerably the past year since I met up with my makan gang a lot less)....and some were repeated places (of course) which I enjoyed eating repeatedly nonetheless.  And, for the first time, there will be no separate sweet eats list as I'm trying (or hoping) to 'extract' my sweet tooth...perhaps not entirely sugarless but at least a sugar less diet....kekeke! ^_~

Monday, 14 January 2019

The time has come.....

It's a brand new year...and I was hoping the 3-week 'hiatus' I took would rejuvenate my writing passion and fatigue...but it hasn't...instead I've enjoyed the 'freedom' it brought.  It reaffirmed my decision to go ahead with that little announcement I mentioned in my last blogpost of 2018.

So, after over 700 food posts of which there were more than 100 cooking posts, a couple of posts about my always-up-to-mischief cat, a couple of fun posts and a couple of non-food related posts, 2019 marks the beginning of the final leg of my blogging journey.....

When I first started this blog in December 2013, I knew it had to end sometime...and I think the time has slow down the blog and eventually bring it to a close.

My initial target when I first started this blog was to reach 500 posts or 5 years, whichever came first...and obviously I got to my primary target of 500 posts first (after 3+ years).  As of December 2018I've also met my secondary target of blogging for at least 5 years....which seems like an eternity for me (and that's why I have great admiration for those who have been at it for more than 10 years putting out daily blogposts).  Now that I've reached my third (and final) milestone of surpassing one million pageviews (yup, a paltry one million hits which isn't much of a motivation but, if it's of any consolation, at least it was achieved with a low blogging frequency, with no footprint on any other social media platforms and without having to network with many blogs to drive traffic), I've achieved all I could achieve and wanted to achieve with this blog and I can deservedly hang up my boots and call it a day. ;P  

It was my passion for writing (and wanting to share honest food reviews) that kept me going but, like everything else, passion diminishes over time, priorities change...people move on....c'est la vie!  I guess it's difficult to stay motivated to write (plus the pageviews aren't exactly encouraging!) when the blog's objective is neither to make serious money nor eat for free.  I'm probably one of the very few blogs out there who don't do paid reviews or accept invited reviews.  My writing style (from day one) has always been blatantly honest as I write from the heart with a no-holds barred attitude.  But boredom and writing fatigue has started to creep in and I feel utterly lazy to write these days.  When the writing begins to feel more like a chore than fun, that's when I know I've had enough.  I think I may have lost that loving writing feeling, now it's gone, gone, gone...hopefully not completely. >_<

After trying so many new eating places, some of which were a complete waste of time, not to mention a waste of money, I'm growing tired of it all and yearn to eat regularly at the few places that I've grown to love (which I know is good)...and eating the same old, same old food that breeds familiarity, comfort and joy.  Plus, it's boring for me to write (and for you to read) about the same places...or the same food.

The slowdown had already begun since the middle of last year as I prepared to wind down the blog which will eventually culminate to a complete stop one day (when that day will be, your guess is as good as mine).

The thing I'll miss most is the banter with some of the great people I've met online (not that I have many) who visit my blog regularly and leave positive (sometimes funny) comments which I love reading (though I probably won't be replying to them as often from now on).

What I take away from my blogging is that I've learned to eat some things that I never would have tried if not for the purpose of writing this food blog, so I'm grateful for that.  I've also learned a lot more about food from the guru-s of the few blogs I follow (the ones that I earnestly want to follow to learn about food, new restaurant openings, writing, cooking and travel).  I am and will still be a fan of these blogs and will continue to read all your posts (maybe just not leaving comments as often).

It's been great while it lasted...and I've enjoyed every second of it.  There had been fun moments...some inspiring moments (when the restaurants liked my write-ups and deemed them worthy to be shared on their Facebook)...and certainly some moments to remember (of some very good dining experiences with my makan kaki-s).

I feel that the timing is right as I envisage less makan sessions in the foreseeable future...and even lesser new places to write about.  Even though I'm taking a step back, it could be the start of a long goodbye (or maybe a short one)...we'll see.  I probably won't retire permanently or disappear completely as it'll be difficult to abandon totally something that has been a part of me for the last 5 years.  When my hands get itchy, you may see a random post here and there from me...never say, check this space from time to time (if you're still a fan).  From now on, I'll blog only when I want to or when I feel like writing...with no pressure or fixed schedules.

Your support is greatly appreciated.
I guess I'll see you when I see you!

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Mama Love (Pork Noodles & Curry Mee) @ Cheras

I've been hearing how good the pork noodles at this place, Mama Love Restaurant @ Cheras, is.  Some would even go as far as to say it's the best pork noodles in KL.  Well, after hearing such comments, it was only a matter of time before I finally made my way here to give it a try.

The restaurant itself isn't very big but luckily there's a covered walkway beside their corner lot premises where the seating could house a lot more customers.

If you're a first-timer, it may be a bit intimidating as you don't know the system for queuing and ordering. Since most blogs didn't explain this or didn't explain it thoroughly enough, I will attempt to do so here, so that you wouldn't be as lost as I were in my maiden visit.

You must first take a number (that's impaled on a spike at the table of a lady taking orders) and wait for your number to be called.  You will then present yourself to her (when she calls your number) to make your orders.  You have to know what they sell as there will be no menu for you to refer to.  She will hand you back copies of the order chits (separate chits for noodles, drinks and tapau) and when your number is called (for the second time), you will be seated.  You return your number, pass the staff your order chit or chits and your food will arrive shortly.

While waiting for your food to arrive, you will see a staff going round the tables offering a plate of snacks made up of fried beancurd sheets or fish cake.  Take a plate of either or a combination of both @ RM5 (considered expensive for the measly portion) only if you need to keep your mouth occupied until the noodles arrive.  Otherwise, no big loss if you don't as the fried items aren't really crispy (since they have been pre-fried ahead) nor particularly tasty.

Of course we were here for what else but the pork noodles @ RM7 a bowl fully loaded with the usual porky ingredients of minced pork, lean pork slices, pork ball, liver and intestine.

Don't forget to ask for pork lards crisps if you enjoy eating them (like I do) as they're only served when you request for it at the table.  They're super fresh and super crispy! ^.^  But if you don't know it's available and don't ask...they don't give! ;P

In fact you can request for more (it's free) if you want more (and not 'shy' to ask for more).  I saw two customers helping themselves to handling the refill themselves! :D  But they run out pretty fast...I was there on another Sunday and they said they were all out....and it was barely 11am! >.<

I have to say that their minced pork patties are huge...and lots of it too though they can be a bit fatty at times plus they felt like they weren't seasoned at all.

The lean pork slices were also cooked just as they were...without anything being done to it...not mixed with a cornflour slurry that would have made them just a tad more smooth and tender to the bite.

I initially thought there weren't any pork intestines until I found them 'buried' at the bottom of the bowl. Don't expect the pork liver to be barely cooked (and slightly bloody) as they were well cooked through.  I think this is because the porky ingredients were probably cooked in large batches (and not individually per bowl basis) seeing just how fast the noodles are churned out for the vast crowd.

The clear (not cloudy) pork broth was good with a savoury and slightly sweet flavour. ^.^  The clear broth was probably due to the fact that the lean pork slices were not coated in a cornflour slurry which would have made the broth cloudy.  There's also no vegetables except for some chopped spring onions.  I actually prefer this as I feel vegetables can sometimes change the taste profile of the soup.

You have the option of dry noodles (like what my family likes) if you're not into the soup version.  The sauce, with a hint of lard oil, for the dry noodles was satisfactory too (but the soup version is better). Caution!!  Big portion!  Stick to yee mee (where the size of the noodle is already predetermined), otherwise small-eaters may not even be able to finish a small bowl as the portion for small here is even bigger than big at some places.

My spouse was taken aback by the very generous amounts of minced pork in his bowl (he always ask for only minced pork as he likes it that way).  Just look at the abundant minced pork patties...I can already see more than 10 pieces floating on top of the bowl.

Both the Kopi-O-Ping & Kopi-Ping @ RM2.50 here are also of a more than adequate standard.

Curry mee is also offered here (I realised that only after I saw it on someone else's table) but I hardly saw anyone order curry mee.  I guess not many dare to order curry mee since their speciality is pork noodles.  So, I guess I'll volunteer as a guinea pig to give you guys a review (since I can't find a proper review of it online either) if the curry mee here is worth your while.

The Curry Mee @ RM7.50 was just as gigantic as the bowl of pork noodles, filled to the brim with 3 pieces of tender chicken (curry chicken style, not poached chicken), crispy fried beancurd sheets, taufu pok slices, long beans and potatoes but no cockles (I'm not sure if, by default, there aren't any or you have to make a special request for it).  There was also no separate sambal given to tweak the spiciness level.

Fans of potatoes in a curry will be happy.  I was surprised myself to find potatoes ingredient not usually found in curry mee.  Those who like their food in generous portions, this bowl has it.  The way the beancurd sheets, beancurd puffs and potatoes are cut, they're meant for giants....everything comes in large size here! O_o

When the bowl of curry mee arrived, I was already sold by the first impression.  The curry broth had an admirable savoury taste with a hint of sweetness from the potatoes.  Even though the taste of santan could be a little stronger, the broth which was of medium thickness was still creamy enough as a result of the potatoes in the curry.   Who would have thought we could find a rather respectable bowl of curry mee in a shop famous for their pork noodles.

My Personal Opinion

The pork noodles here are undeniably good but even more so, it's fantastic value as the porky ingredients are really generous.  It clearly deserves a place in my top ten list of best pork noodles for the quantity of liew you get for RM7.

Maybe not among my very top favourites as I felt the bowl of noodles was not individually prepared and some of the porky ingredients could have been cooked in advance as they seemed to be well cooked through.  Then again, I shouldn't expect the noodles to be cooked bowl by bowl seeing it'd be impossible to manage with the sheer crowd that they have.  The surprise for me was that I would find a very decent bowl of curry mee at the same place.

Don't be discouraged by the crowd or long queue at peak times as the wait is totally tolerable (it won't take very long as the numbers move very fast).  I've been back for the pork noodles...and I know I'll be back for the curry mee too! ^o^

Mama Love Restaurant
No 17-1 Jalan Tun Perak 2
Taman Tun Perak
43200 Cheras
Tel: 03-8958 7571

Monday, 7 January 2019

Canton Kitchen @ Sunway Velocity

My spouse had dined in this place before at another branch with his colleagues and since he found the food to be alright, he suggested we have dinner there one evening.  I wanted to try Canton Kitchen @ Sunway Velocity when I read about it on mimi's dining room back in 2017 (ya, I know, that's quite a while back but I never gotten round to it until now).

The restaurant (founded in 1988) hails from Bukit Tinggi in Pahang and specialises in Bentong ginger cuisine and hand-planted vegetables (which you can purchase at the restaurant as well).  The restaurant was running full when we were there for dinner over the weekend but our wait for a table took no more than 5 minutes and food arrived pretty fast too (photo was taken on another day when it was not so hectic).  

Being a ginger specialist, you're bound to find lots of steam fish with ginger paste on the menu with choices of tapah, tilapia, garoupa and patin (of course other styles are also available like sweet & sour, curry and deep-fried).

We started with the Stir-Fried Crispy Pork Belly @ RM22.90 (for small, RM45.80 big) with onions in a savoury-sticky-sweet sauce and some shredded purple cabbage and carrot on the side.  The thinly sliced pork belly was fried till lightly crisp and the sauce was on the sweet side.  There were as much onions as there were pork belly. :P

The Fried Prawn with Salted Egg Yolk @ RM28.90 (for small, RM57.80 big, there's also a version with squid) besides boasting of a robust salted egg yolk flavour, with fragrant undertones from the fried curry leaves, also had a lot of inherent sweetness in it.  The prawns, though few in numbers, were of a decent size...and were tasty enough, just wished the sauce wasn't as sweet.

Next, we ordered the Thai-Style Fried Fish Cake @ RM16.90 served with a fiery minced bird's eye chilli dip. You can probably skip this and order it at a proper Thai restaurant instead for a better rendition.

We also had their Signature Homemade Beancurd @ RM18.90 (for small, RM37.80 big) that featured a piece of fried taufu topped with chopped long beans and salted pickled radish.  Loved the silky-smooth fried taufu but the soy sauce underneath was too salty for my taste buds.  It could do without another dimension of saltiness because of the presence of the salted pickled radish already.

The fragrant, crunchy French Beans with Dried Shrimps @ RM15.90 (for small, RM31.80 big) is a vegetable dish we have loved since Esquire Kitchen and Din Tai Fung days though the one by Esquire Kitchen is made with minced pork and cha choy for a tastier result.

Rice is reasonably priced at RM2 a bowl (I have to say the blue serving plates and bowls are rather lovely).

I had the zesty Ambarella Juice with Sour Plum @ RM7.90 but there are plenty of hot teas to choose from to sooth your body from Chinese teas to flower teas, kumquat to lemongrass, Bentong ginger to herbal teas.  Water is chargeable at RM1 a glass.

My Personal Opinion

Many view the prices here as on the pricey side and I can certainly relate to that coz they come in really small portions.  I think one person (with an average appetite) can easily handle two dishes, so you'll need to allocate at least two dishes per person when having a meal here.

But if price is an issue, there are plenty of other cheaper options such as their signature set meals at around RM25 per set which comes with a main, 3 side dishes, soup and rice.  Otherwise be prepared to spend in the region of RM50 per person if you go a la carte.

Some of the dishes I've tried seems to have either too salty or too sweet nuances, perhaps a bit too one-dimensional (but those liking robust flavours will find them suitable to their palate).

The food is decent enough to warrant a revisit at times when I want to eat something different from our usual haunts but probably won't go actively seeking it and make it a regular haunt.

I know, I know...I should have tried some of their dishes with Bentong ginger (like their best seller, Mihun with Ginger Wine Chicken, or at least a steam fish dish with ginger).  After all, it's their speciality but since my family dislikes (bordering on hate) ginger, rice wine and steam chance.  If I want to eat this, I need to come here with a ginger and rice wine kaki...kekeke! ^_~

Canton Kitchen
2-04 & 2-05 2nd Floor
Sunway Velocity Mall
Lingkaran SV Sunway Velocity
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2712 3066

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Grandmother Chicken Rice @ Pandan Jaya

Farewell 2018, Hello 2019!...and a happy new year to everyone!  So, how was your Christmas celebrations and year end festivities?  Did you partake in the must-have traditional turkey? ;)

We our usual venue...and, for some reason, I was just focussed on eating turkey this year with roasted potatoes and vegetables, served with brown jus and cranberry sauce, that I pretty much ignored the rest of the buffet.  Ok, ok, I did have a bit of something roast beef with mushroom sauce and sauteed onions, baked fish with pineapples in citrus sauce, fried spaghetti with sauteed mushrooms, onions & herbs, stir-fry black pepper beef, mushroom soup...I think that was about it.

But each time I got to the turkey, it was already cut up (they went through quite a few that day) until I got lucky and found an intact turkey to photograph....kekeke! :D

Now, back to another kind of fowl!  I was alerted to this place near me, Grandmother Chicken Rice @ Pandan Jaya, after reading about it from a blog I stalk (!)...hehe, I'm a stalker.

Now I don't usually get the chance to visit poached chicken rice specialists as my family isn't keen on poached chicken.  The only reason I could visit this one was because I was alerted to the fact that there's curry mee on the menu too.

Looking at the menu, I was happy to see they had lots more to offer besides poached chicken.   They have other roasted meats (char siew, siew yuk, duck & roast chicken), Ipoh chicken sar hor fun, Penang prawn mee, fish ball soup and vegetables like bean sprouts and spicy & sour vegetable.

We wanted siew yuk rice but it wasn't available yet when we were there, so we had the Char Siew Rice @ RM7 instead.  The char siew was tender but I won't go as far to say it had a melt-in-the-mouth texture.  It also had less of that caramelised outer layer except for the edges...and the sauce didn't impress.

The rice, however, I loved as it had a good dose of chicken flavour in it.  As for the dips consisting of fresh chillies and ginger paste, I can't quite remember what it tasted like (at the point of writing since this was eaten last year).  Well, if they weren't memorable (though I do remember the chilli condiment tasted better than the ginger paste), it could only mean they weren't particularly outstanding. ^_~

The soup, I remember, had a distinct taste of peanuts in it (something like lotus root & peanut soup).  It was subtle and nice.

Now this was the reason why I could visit this chicken rice shop as I wanted to try the Chicken Curry Mee @ RM6.80 (and my husband can have it too since he's not into poached chicken).

The bowl was filled with poached chicken (of course), beancurd puffs, taugeh (beansprouts) and a generous amount of, albeit slightly smallish, sihum (cockles).  I guess I should have made a specific request for the cut of chicken I wanted and was unlucky to get some bony parts of the wing.  The chicken was not particularly wat like some of the smooth poached chicken I've eaten in some curry mee.

But the most disappointing aspect was the broth....look at how watery it is (and the sambal didn't help either).  And to add to that, it was devoid of santan flavour...or any flavour for that matter. >_<

Of course one can't leave this place without trying the Kampong Chicken Rice @ RM8 (if I remember correctly, prices differ depending on the part you choose).  After all, this is their speciality...grandmother's chicken rice (and we can't argue with grandmother, can we?).

The poached chicken ultimately impressed.  It's the single best item I've eaten here.  The chicken was irreproachably tender with a good flavour in the meat but probably not as smooth as some wat kai because of how lean the meat is.  Even the skin is devoid of fat and (for once) I didn't have to discard it (I could actually eat it...and enjoy it) ^o^  If you like chicken without any fat, then the one here is perfect for you.

Noticing that the Iced White Coffee came without much foam on the top, I wasn't expecting it to be any good.  It tasted somewhat diluted...and it's the packet-kind (although I've drank some prepackaged ones that were really good).

My Personal Opinion

I'm afraid Sean was right...the curry mee here wouldn't rank among my top favourites...heck, it wouldn't even rank among my lesser favourites....wuahahahaha! :P

Since neither the char siew nor the curry mee impressed, my husband will be reluctant to make a second trip here.  But the chicken rice definitely deserves a revisit (listen to grandmother, she's always right!).  I guess I'll have to tapau if I want to eat this chicken rice again (which I do). 

Grandmother Chicken Rice
No 22-G Jalan Pandan 3/2
Pandan Jaya
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 010-266 9668

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