Friday, 30 June 2017

Chequers Cafe @ Taman Tun Dr Ismail

After our dinner at Kompassion II (or K2), my friends and I proceeded to another place in the area, Chequers Cafe @ Taman Tun Dr Ismail, for some dessert waffles and coffee.

Chequers Cafe, opened in late 2014, specialises in both sweet and savoury waffles.  Well, you can get just about anything on top of a waffle here.  But the menu has since expanded to include comfort food like corn dogs, burgers, pastas and pizzas.

Looking at the menu, I got distracted a bit (before getting to the waffles) and ordered a light snack of Corn Dogs @ RM16 yielding 4 sticks of cornmeal battered chicken (or you could opt for beef) hot dogs.  Nothing exciting but kids will lap up any kind of hot dogs.

Next was a snack of Chilli Poppers @ RM10 and this one was clearly for the adults.  These were tuna filled, batter coated green chilli peppers fried till crispy.  Not to worry, these chilli peppers aren't fiery hot but they're very addictive.  I could have easily popped a few more of these poppers in my mouth! ;)

We wanted to try a savoury waffle and went with the Moo Moo @ RM30 which is their signature waffle burger with Australian beef patty, beef bacon, cheddar cheese, raisin slaw, pickled radish and their homemade berry barbecue sauce.  The waffle burger was served with a side of fries.

Unfortunately, the beef patty and the housemade berry barbecue sauce was far from delicious.  Other savoury waffles include grilled or fried chicken, pulled BBQ beef ribs, Mexican chicken and a vegetarian version as well.

For our sweet waffle, we decided to go with the Build Your Own Waffle option where you can choose exactly what you want to go with your waffle.  The total cost of our waffle came up to RM24 (RM11 + RM5 + RM4 + RM4) which wasn't all that cheap, come to think of it.

Step 1 - Choose Your Waffle with a choice of seven flavours (Original, Cinnamon, Mixed Berries, Chocolate Chip, Coconut & Banana, Vanilla & White Chocolate and Cheese) at RM9 - RM11.  We chose Coconut & Banana.

Step 2 - Pick Your Toppings from caramelised almonds, banana, beef bacon, whipped cream, mixed fruits or ice cream (vanilla, chocolate chip, chocolate mint, raspberry, coffee and coconut) at RM2 - RM6.  We chose mixed fruits with vanilla and raspberry ice cream.

Step 3 - Choose Your Sauce (your choice of one complimentary sauce from berry compote, chocolate, passion fruit or honey mint).  We chose chocolate (for the kids).  All waffles come with a side of butter and maple syrup already.

The waffle was nice and really crisp around the edges and I enjoyed the freshness of the chunks of mango, strawberry, kiwifruit and what looked like glazed peaches.  I just didn't like either of the ice cream which was too sweet for me.

Our second sweet waffle was the Deconstructed Tiramisu @ RM18 with mascarpone cheese topped with sliced strawberries, chocolate shavings and a shot of espresso.

Pour the espresso into the mascarpone and just dunk the cut up waffle sticks into the mix and enjoy.  I liked the contrast the bitter espresso brought to the sweet waffle sticks.  For some reason, I found that this waffle seems to be the fluffiest of the three we tried, maybe because it was cut up into sticks rendering each piece crisp on the edges but soft on the inside...mmm! ^o^

Regrettably, their coffees of Hot Cappuccino @ RM10 and Hot Latte @ RM10 weren't a favourite as they were just.....meh!

The Iced Chocolate @ RM13 tasted like a watered down Milo...only worse! :(

We also ordered a Chequers speciality, James Paradise @ RM11 made up of a concoction of mint, lemongrass, lime and ginger ale.  I can't say it left an impression but I know it won't take you to paradise and! ;D

My Personal Opinion

I think the sweet waffles were more successful and I definitely preferred the sweet ones over the savoury one that we tried.  Also, I think I'll do without the add-on condiments (except maybe the fresh fruits) if there's a next time.  If I had to choose again, I'd stick to a flavoured waffle with just a side of butter and maple syrup...and nothing else.

Although I've only tried the waffles and some snacks, it didn't excite my palate enough to say I want to try more.  Their signature savoury waffle may be called Moo Moo.....but I think I'll just on along and graze somewhere else instead!  Perhaps their new menu of hot food will fare better but I didn't try any, so I wouldn't be able to offer any insight into that.

Chequers Cafe
153 Jalan Aminuddin Baki
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-7733 3068

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Just One Food - Momiji Manju

Recently, I had the privilege of trying some cake-like snacks from the Land of the Rising Sun.  Initially, I didn't know what they were as I've not eaten them before, so I googled for information online.

I typed "maple leaf like Japanese cake" into the search engine and found out that these snacks are actually called Momiji Manju (momiji meaning maple leaf).  This maple leaf-shaped little cake is a signature snack of the Hiroshima prefecture.

The little cakes are made from a castella-type dough of wheat, eggs, sugar and honey, something like an egg-based sponge cake.  They come with different sweet fillings (made from soy beans) that have been made into a bean paste.  I had the opportunity to try four flavours.

The first one was the traditional and most common filling of Red Bean Jam (or paste).  I also tried the Red Bean & Sweet Potato Jam filling (no photo of this one) which tasted very much like purple sweet potato.

I love all the flavours but I have to say these two were my favourites.  The fillings weren't overly sweet.  I love these cakes...they're nice and soft and the fillings are absolutely delicious! ^o^

They're made in cute maple leaf-shaped aluminium moulds, almost similar to how we would make our Kuih Bahulu.

The third flavour was Mikan (Mandarin) Bean Jam.  Although there was a hint of citrus, the filling tasted like a sweet potato filling.

The size of a Momiji Manju is very small (probably about 2 inches wide) which you can finish in two bites or one if you really wanted to.

These little pastries have a rather short shelf life.  They usually need to be consumed in about a week.  I can easily eat ten of these at one go....probably more!  I love them!! ^_*

The final flavour I tried was the Custard Cream.  Again, the texture was like some sort of sweet potato and not creamy custard-like.

Taste-wise, I'd said it's a bit similar to those Japanese sweet pancakes, dorayaki, for lack of a better comparison, though the dorayaki is more fluffy like a pancake as opposed to the cake-like texture of the Momiji Manju.

Each Momiji Manju cost around 85 yen (approximately RM3+) which makes it quite expensive for this one-to-two-bite mini cake.  But when they're delectable, they're worth every cent! ;P

Besides the traditional red bean paste, they come in many other flavours like green tea, yam, black sesame, cream cheese, chocolate cream, lemon, strawberry, just to name a few.  It seems there are at least 30 types of fillings nowadays (and also deep-fried versions).

If you find yourself in Hiroshima prefecture, especially in Miyajima Island (where they're freshly made), and don't know what to buy as souvenirs for your family and friends back these!!  They make the best souvenirs ever.  What's better than a 'souvenir' that you can eat (hehe!)....and your friends and family will love you for it! ;D

Hmmm, I wonder if these Momiji Manju are sold here.  It's probably difficult to import them in because of their relatively short shelf life. :'(

Friday, 23 June 2017

Acme Bar & Coffee @ Pavilion Elite

When the first outlet opened in The Troika (Persiaran KLCC), I had wanted to try but never gotten round to doing it until the latest Acme Bar & Coffee @ Pavilion Elite opened a few months ago.

So I chose this venue for my next meet-up with some friends.  I've never been to the one in Persiaran KLCC, so I don't know how the interior compares but it seems like they stuck to the same colour scheme of dark tones of black, brown and grey (from the photos I saw online).  I absolutely adored the alluring setting, warmth and romantic ambience of this one with beautiful fresh flowers and candles on the tables.

Loved the touch of greenery too at the entrance and the calming water fountain in the passageway leading into the cafe.  A popular spot to pose for photos amongst the green foliage, I'm sure.

For starters, we went with the Tuna Poke @ RM29 featuring layers of corn salsa, fresh avocado cubes and raw tuna cubes in a wafu vinaigrette.  It was finished with some crunchy tapioca and taro chips and super crisp deep-fried herbs for a bit of texture.

Eaten with a fresh squeeze of lime, I loved the appetiser for its refreshing and light nuances.  A great starter, no doubt, which succeeded in getting our appetites going for the dishes to follow.

For mains, we had our all-time favourite pizza of Aloha Pizzadillas @ RM33 filled with chunks of smoked turkey breast, pineapple, onion and green peppers with mozzarella cheese and a herb cream sauce.

The thin and crisp pizza aimed to please the young ones at the table...and it succeeded in that respect! ^_~

I appreciated that it came topped with lots of arugula for that little bit of added freshness.

Good enough for sharing between two persons (or three not-too-hungry people), the Sea-to-Land Sharing Platter @ RM99 was ideal for our small group.  The sharing platter serves as a great introduction to some of their main dishes by offering diners a chance to taste a bit of everything! ^.^

This sea-to-land platter starts with three types of protein consisting of lamb cutlets, blackened salmon and grilled lime chicken.  The blackened salmon, adequately seasoned with spices, was tender and moist.  For a non-lover of lamb, I found these lamb cutlets to be tender and tasty with none of that gamey flavour that I dislike.  Even the simple chicken breast was well executed with a superb lime seasoning and that nice grilled flavour with a tinge of tartness...loved it! :)

A fresh tomato salad, delicious corn salsa, crunchy asian slaw (of white and purple cabbage) and crispy garlic tortillas round up the other components of the platter.  The very refreshing and appetising corn salsa with juicy corn kernels, tiny cubes of tomato and green bell peppers, bits of olive and pomegranate seeds was the standout for me.

We also ordered a side dish of freshly fried Shoestring Fries @ RM15 which turned out pretty addictive with its finger-licking spiced seasoning that even the children couldn't resist.

To end on a sweet note, we had their most sought after dessert, the sizzling brownie, but this time a Sizzling Coconut Nangka Brownie @ RM19 served with a gula melaka sauce.

The coconut brownie with a nangka (jackfruit) ice cream arrived atop a hot plate.  The pouring of the gula melaka sauce will provide further sweetness to the downright oh-so-divine coconut brownie.  Although I didn't want to pour in all the gula melaka (for lesser sweetness) but, in the end, I had to as the sauce would sizzle and evaporate very quickly on the hot plate, so eating it immediately is of the essence.

I loved the contrast of the cold ice cream against the sizzling hot coconut brownie.  The gula melaka sauce was needed to lubricate the brownie which will develop a crusty bottom because of the hot good! ^o^  If I were to just have the coconut brownie on its own, with its robust coconut flavour, I'd be greatly satisfied just the same.

For more desserts, you can head to the counter for a choice of their displayed cakes, other sweet offerings or petit-fours.

The drinks are quite expensive here (with most of them costing between RM15 - RM19), so we ordered only two to share (or you could just stick to water that's offered to mitigate your dinner bill!).  We only tried one coffee and that was their Iced Latte @ RM17.

The other was the Cranberry Lychee @ RM15 which was a sweet concoction of cranberry, pineapple juice, lychee and rose syrup.  Definitely for those who love their drinks sweet.  Looking at how expensive the drinks were, it didn't quite satisfy in the end.

My Personal Opinion

Although prices are on the higher end, especially the drinks, the place offers a good creative mix of local, western, Japanese, Thai and Mediterranean flavours.

More importantly, I did enjoy the food I had here which I found to be distinctively pleasurable and well executed.  The Sea-to-Land Platter is a great sharing platter that is sure to please with the grilled lime chicken and blackened salmon being my favourites.  Also, not-to-be-missed is the utterly divine Sizzling Coconut Nangka Brownie.

The romantic vibe of the place makes it a perfect setting to take your better half on date nights or for special occasions...or simply to have a good meal in a gorgeous environment.  Would I be back?  Certainly, without a shadow of a doubt! ^_~

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, 21 June 2017

My 2017 Ramadan Loot @ Pandan Indah

This year I started hitting my Ramadan trail a bit later than usual (a week and a half later to be exact) and that's because I was unfortunate enough to fall sick at the start of Ramadan...haiz! :'(  

Again, the first thing we went looking for this year was the utterly delicious and crispy Cucur Udang @ RM5 and I was glad to find the price unchanged for 3 years...yay!  What can I say, I've been hooked to these fried prawn fritters, served with kuah kacang (peanut sauce) or chilli sauce, from the very first time I tasted them.

We could have eaten this every day...but we shouldn't, of course, but we ate it enough times...hehe! :D  The stall owner now recognises us as I told him that his is the best cucur udang I've had.  Although it's called cucur udang, it was more like cucur bawang since there were hardly any prawns but at that price, there's no cause for complaint.

Nasi Lemak is my next favourite thing since I can't find them in the mornings for breakfast during the fasting month.  Unfortunately, this year we found only two stalls selling them at the bazaar.  I tried one stall....and that was it, I didn't need to try any other.  The stall is new and this was their first time here (when I asked). They come from a restaurant in Taman Dagang.

I was hooked on their Nasi Lemak Biasa (Plain Nasi Lemak) @ RM1 a packet from the get-go.  Although the packet of nasi lemak was very small (and you could finish it in a few spoonfuls), it did have a sizeable wedge of hard-boiled egg, a delicious sambal and some crispy, good tasting ikan bilis (fried anchovies).  In this day and age of ever increasing food prices, it's truly amazing to still find something for RM1! ^_^

I liked the nasi lemak so much, it was one of my most visited stalls this Ramadan.  I absolutely loved the Nasi Lemak Kerang @ RM5 (the cockles itself cost RM4).  This is not done sambal-style but more like rendang-style with the perfumy smell and taste of kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.

On another occasion, I had the Nasi Lemak with Ayam Goreng Berempah @ RM4.50 (the spiced fried chicken cost RM3.50 a piece).  This was a good tasting ayam goreng berempah.

Last year, we could hardly find any satay stalls...I think there were only two but this year there were at least 5 - 6 stalls.  We didn't know which ones will be good, so we just went for one that appealed to us visually. The satay (chicken or beef) we bought was sold at RM0.70 a stick but it was just so-so.

We also found the same stall selling our much loved Fried Chicken Wantan @ RM2 for 5 pcs and Fried Popiah also @ RM2 for 5 pcs (I didn't think it was possible to find a kuih for under RM0.50 nowadays!).

I'm not sure why the fried popiah is cheaper this year (I remember buying it for RM0.70 per pc last year).  But then I only bought two last year, maybe this was a 'group' offer.  We also noticed that the kuih truck we patronised last year was a no-show this year.

The famous Tepung Pelita @ RM3 for 6 pcs from the same stall this year was a bit too sweet for me though the santan was thick and fragrant.  I think this will be the last year I'm buying this kuih as it has been getting sweeter by the year.

I saw a new stall selling Pulut Panggang @ RM0.50/pc but this ready-made "pulut" (glutinous rice), that has already been "panggang" (barbequed) over an open flame, was twiced cooked, fried again in a little oil on an iron plate.  This one tasted very nice as it had more of that charred flavour.

Mee Goreng @ RM3.50.....

...and Nasi Goreng Pattaya @ RM4.50 from the same stall last year though this was more of a nasi goreng kampung wrapped in omelette instead.  Just passable as tummy fillers.

This year, I tried some soup noodles.  The Bihun Sup @ RM4 hardly had any ingredients.....

...and the Mee Rebus also @ RM4 was very watery and tasted like a curry.  These were a total waste of money...and stomach space.

Then there was this truck doing a roaring business of Nasi Ayam Goreng Kunyit @ RM5.  There was a perpetual queue for this rice served with turmeric (kunyit) fried chicken and vegetables.  But the queue moves pretty fast as they've a well organised service scoops the rice, another scoops the protein, one pour the black sauce and sambal and the final person collects the money.

Besides chicken, you can also opt for squid, Nasi Sotong Goreng Kunyit @ RM7.  The rice comes with vegetables of long beans, carrots and onions cooked by dropping them into the same hot oil used for frying the proteins.

There's also a prawn option, the Nasi Udang Goreng Kunyit @ RM7.50 and a beef option (which was chewy). The 3 options of chicken, squid and prawns were good but if I had to pick, it'd be the udang for it's crispiness and value-for-money with 5 pcs of good-sized prawns.  Only complaint is the rice could be of better quality. The rice is finished with a drizzle of black sauce and a fresh sambal.

I didn't know how hot the fresh sambal would be so I asked for it to be packed separately only to realise later that I had to pay RM1 for it.  That was a blessing in disguise as the sambal was really, really fiery! O_o Although it set my mouth on fire, the rice wouldn't be the same nor taste as good without the, bring on the heat! ;)  Although RM1 is a negligible sum to pay, I felt I was shortchanged.  I don't think it was right to charge me for the tiny container of sambal (which was good for 3 portions) since no sambal was poured into the 3 packets of rice I bought.  I just wanted it separated so that I can control how much spiciness I could tolerate.  If I already had sambal in the rice and asked for more sambal, at least then they have the right to ask me to pay for the extra sambal.  I suppose I could have reasoned with them regarding the charge but I didn't want to hold up the line nor cause a scene over a mere RM1!

I didn't realise until later (when I took note of the truck) that I was eating the popular Mat Rock Ayam Goreng Kunyit that operates a few food trucks in and around the city.  That means I can still eat this (after Ramadan) since they operate a restaurant near us.  But remember, if you don't want to pay extra for the sambal, make sure you don't ask for it to be packed separately.

This was just a small selection of my Ramadan 'loot' this year (you may wish to check out my loot in 2016 and 2015 in the links provided).  With just a few days before Ramadan comes to a close, many stalls have already called it a day (those that made enough money, I presume) and the bazaar is slowly winding down.  Looks like I'll see you next year then! ^o^

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