Thursday, 31 January 2019

Dai Cha Dim @ Pavilion

While looking through Pavilion's directory for a place to eat, I came upon a new eatery, Dai Cha Dim @ Pavilion, that was opened in mid-November 2018.

Noting that they were located on the sixth floor, we took the lift and it's situated just round the corner from the lift, next to Putien and Din Tai Fung, if that makes it easier for you to locate.

From the menu, this dai cha dim (loosely translated as big tea shop) seems to offer cha chan teng delights such as BBQ meats, noodles, steamed & plated rice, a small selection of dim sum & porridge, double-boiled soups and individual dishes to pair with rice.

Noodles with BBQ meats of char siu, siu yuk, chicken, duck and wonton and steamed & plated rice with Hakka-style char yoke (braised pork belly), luncheon meat, black vinegar pork trotters, sweet & sour pork, minced pork & salted fish and more...all screams comfort food! ;)

Since it was in-between breakfast and lunch, I wanted something light and went with the Shrimp Roe & Wonton Noodles @ RM15.30.  First impression when it arrived was that it looked exactly like Mak's Chee prawn roe noodles except this one had a tad less shrimp roe and the noodles were served cut in half (have no idea why it's served like that).  The texture of the noodles was da bomb...thin, springy and wonderfully firm, just like Mak's Chee, only a bit less fragrant because of a lesser quantity of shrimp roe.

But the one thing I did like that Mak's Chee prawn roe noodles didn't have was the inclusion of pork lard in the noodles...and they were super crispy and extremely delicious.  This was one of the freshest pork lard I've ever, so pleasurable! ^o^

The soup wontons had a thicker skin and the prawn filling wasn't as plump if compared to Mak's Chee which were definitely better.  I don't see whole prawns in the filling but minced prawns (and perhaps some minced pork in the mix?).

The soup base of this one was certainly one up on Mak's Chee in terms of flavour.  I like this soup as it tastes much closer to our local tastebuds.

The Char Siu & Wonton Noodles Soup @ RM15.30 comes with thick cut char siu slices with wontons and greens in the same soup base.

The char siew was very commendable too with a nicely charred skin, a good ratio of fat to lean cut and fall-apart tender meat.

Typical of any cha chan teng, you're bound to find milk tea on the menu like this Dai Cha Dim Ice Bath Bottled Milk Tea @ RM7.80.  This one was pretty decent though you might want to skip the Ipoh White Coffee (Cold) @ RM6.50.

As usual with these places, orders are made through an order chit.  There are plenty of condiments on the table like a dried sambal, pickled green chillies, chilli sauce and both dark and light soy to amp up the taste of your noodles and rice dishes if you need it.  The condiments available reveal that it's more suited to our local tastebuds.

Check out a more recent post on the place here.

My Personal Opinion

Although the place seems to offer cha chan teng cuisine with its obvious Hong Kong-style noodles but yet there also seems to be a mix of our local Chinese cuisine in the likes of char siu, Hakka char yoke, black vinegar pork trotters and others.

I think if you like a bit of both, you can find it here but be prepared to spend more than what you'd pay at our local roasted meat stalls as prices are along the lines of say Din Tai Fung, Mak's Chee and the now closed, Starz Kitchen in Pavilion.

I know I've only tried two of their noodle dishes but I enjoyed them tremendously, so I know for sure that I'll be back to try more, perhaps some of their rice dishes on my next visit.

Dai Cha Dim
Lot 6.01.03 Level 6
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2148 8108

Chinese New Year is just round the corner, so let me be the first
to wish you abundant wealth and good health in the coming year!

Monday, 28 January 2019

Favourite 'Budget Eats' of 2018

Since announcing my retirement and acknowledging that I will be blogging less frequently, I've come to realise something I've always suspected to be true...and that is...pageviews are directly related to how frequent one put out blogposts.  I know that for a fact now as I've seen my daily visit stats drop drastically (by half) of what it used to be now that I'm writing only one (maybe two) posts a week.  That's to be expected and it makes complete sense...coz why would one need to visit my blog if there are no new posts to read...haha! :P  Oh well, if it drops any further, that could be just the motivation I need to stop writing altogether. ^_~

Anyway, let's get back to my post for today.  Budget eats nowadays are confined mostly to food you'd find in coffee shops or some modern food courts in shopping malls.  Something most of us will be looking forward to in 2019 with rising costs of living.  Here's a round up (in chronological order) of some of my favourite budget eats in 2018.

Ok, ok, so they use canned sardines (!) but even then they still tasted better than some popular food chains that specialise in assam laksa.  I like it coz the broth isn't too sour.

The Fish Bowl @ Pavilion

Many of us have grown to love poke bowls for its fresh ingredients and light taste that's both appetising and healthy.

Boon Signature Roast Pork @ Damansara Jaya

The siew yuk here is melt-in-the-mouth tender (a term more often used to describe char siew than siew yuk) with a super crunchy skin.  Though it isn't one of my favourite siew yuk because of the overly soft texture and strong hint of black pepper, the place still got on the list because of its Iberico siew yuk that I liked for the leaner cut, tender texture and flavour of the meat (though some will probably disagree at this even being considered a cheap eat...kekeke!).

Red Leaf @ Jalan Loke Yew

This prawn mee is a great find for all prawn mee lovers.  The sweet-tasting broth and fresh, good-sized, sweet sea prawns set them apart from all other prawn mee stalls.  But this shop also turned up two surprises in the form of Penang char kway teow and fried rice that's full of wok hei.

Mak's Chee @ Pavilion Elite

If you love fragrant dry prawn roe, then you must try the noodles here tossed with just that...absolutely umami-licioius! ;)  While you're at it, don't forget the reassuringly fresh, firm, juicy and sweet-tasting sea prawn wontons.  But the gem turned out to be their Cursory Rice which ended up to be the single most satisfying carb-loaded comfort dish I ate this year (you'll be glad to know that the latest version, instead of just plain rice, has the rice tossed in pork lard, soy sauce and chopped spring onions...mmm, even better).

Malaysia Boleh! @ Shoppes at Four Seasons Place

It's my favoured modern food court in the city.  Why?  Well, because it houses my no. 1 favourite curry laksa (that moved here from Imbi), that's why.  Besides that, it also offers various other yummy eats (in a clean and comfortable environment) like fried Hokkien mee, Ipoh bean sprout chicken rice, Penang fried carrot cake, char kway teow, Penang fried oyster and more.

Liang Sandwich Bar @ Sunway Velocity

I didn't think I would enjoy this snack as chain-style restaurants and food don't usually appeal to me...but I did.  The scallion pancake (or sandwich as it's called) is a different take on our traditional roti canai...better-tasting and less greasy.  It comes with various fillings (and sauces) but I only like the basic scallion one....nothing else.

Madras Lane @ Petaling Street

I purposely came here to try the third stall's (from the entrance) curry mee after learning that theirs made it to Lonely Planet's Ultimate Eatlist at number 2...and it was certainly decent, just not my number 1.  The yong tau foo turned out to be more than satisfying too.

Spag & Ju's @ Sunway Velocity

This place was the coming together of two food trucks each specialising in spaghetti and juices.  A humble and value-for-money meal of chicken chop (with either spaghetti or mashed potatoes in black pepper sauce) done right is what you should go for here (in fact, it's the only thing you should go for here).

Keng Nam Hai @ Kepong

It was the hua diao lala beehoon that first enticed me here.  Thick beehoon, fresh lala, flavourful broth with hints of rice wine and good!  And then I discovered that they also have one of the best tasting curry mee, certainly a worth adversary to my no. 1 favourite. ^_~

These were just some of the cheap eats I ate in 2018 (you can check out my previous cheap eats list in 2017 here).  With ever increasing prices slowly creeping up on us, any budget eats are surely welcome in 2019.

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

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