Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mooncakes From Ti Chen, Saujana Resort

One of the most wonderful things about living in this melting pot of cultures is the continuous and never ending stream of festivities and the foods associated with them.  I mean, if you lived in say, a Caucasian country, the highlight of the year might be ... Christmas? or a thanksgiving turkey, but in Malaysia,.... beginning of the year, we have the endless yee sang promos... quickly followed by easter offerings, usually in the form of high teas, and chocolate eggs, then the dumpling festivals, and depending when Ramadhan strikes, the endless Iftar buffets, followed by Aidil Fitri, then we have the mooncake festival.  But of course in between times, there'll be all sorts of other non festive promos, because let's face it, eating is our national pastime, only next to shopping.

Barely have the gates of Hades closed, and the hungry ghost festival over, (apparently some vagrants are still wandering around), that the appearance of the ubiquitous mooncake makes its presence felt.  Gone are the days when mooncakes were made either from lotus paste, red bean paste, or nuts, the main variation being the number of yolks.  These days, every imaginable filling fills these skins, be they baked or snow skinned.  Someone should have a nasi lemak mooncake soon, afterall, the egg yolk would be the perfect complement.

A lazy hot Saturday afternoon in Ti Chen, Saujana Hotel (but at the Club annex) introducing their range of mooncakes, and a quick workshop demonstrating how to make the snow skinned mooncakes.

Almond with black sesame paste mooncake....

Golden Mixed Nut Mooncake

Low Sugar White Lotus Single Yolk Mooncake....Sigh, whatever happened to double yolks.  Nevertheless , this traditional mooncake remains my all time favourite.

Jade Custard Mooncake

All laid out for the demonstration, Chef Yaw Kim Yew, had crafted the mooncake to represent 3 unique symbolic shapes in accordance to Chinese folklore...and I did  not know this before.
The heart shaped mooncake represents the myth of the Old Man and The Moon, ...who has the prestigious job of keeping a book of records with the names of all newborns and their future partners.  Boy, would I love to sneak a preview into THIS book.  Wonder if it's online now.

The other shape is the Oval Mooncake, with the legend of The Lady of the Moon, who stole and consumed an immortality pill from her husband the Great General Hou Yi.  Poor lady, stuck up there all this while until she was discovered by Neil Armstrong in 1969.

The round mooncake symbolizes the Chinese revolt against Mongolian rule with the hidden messages in the mooncake.  This is the story we're most familar with.

The heart shaped Almond With Black Sesame Paste.  Love the combination actually, black sesame is an ideal filling.

Green tea with Citrus Red Bean, almost quite traditional with the red bean, and the slight bitterness of the green tea complements the sweet filling.

Of course, in demos, the Chefs make the process look as easy as opening a can of soup.  Toss the snow skin powder, add liquid, knead, and voila, you have the snow skin...ready for immediate use.

You basically roll out the skin, add your filling of choice, plop it into the mould.....

Give it one fell press, to flatten the mooncake into the mould and fill it up, ....

And with one deliberate thud, invert the mould, and tah dah, moon cake is made.

In case you missed that, again, fill filling into snow paste skin, place in mould, flatten,

Plop it out... tah dah...

Riotous applause...

And Chef Yaw Kim Yew proudly poses with his gorgeous heart shaped almond black sesame mooncake.

For the chocolate lovers, the German Blackforest Mooncake is a must...

..... as is the Durian Custard Mooncake, which will give shivers of pleasure to the durian lovers, and send non durian lovers screaming into the sunset.

Priced at RM19-23 each for the baked skin and RM18-RM22 for the snow skin, SGCC members get 20% off, Lifestyle by Saujana Members get 15% as do CIMB Card members.

The workshop was followed by a delectable lunch, as one does not survive on mooncake alone.

Luscious prawn dumplings, with fresh crunchy prawns...

My favourite, deep fried beancurd roll with cheese...such a great marriage of ingredients from east and west.  Melt in the mouth cheese and crispy foo choke... best!

Wok Fried Radish cake with seafood

Deep fried prawn roll with Jackfruit... most novel, and a great combination, if you like jackfruit, which I do.  The light crispy wrapping, the sweetness of the fruit, and the prawn... a lovely menage a trois.

Steamed Chicken Siew Mai...actually these halal restaurant chefs have almost mastered the art of making pork free dim sum, I'd say.  I almost could not tell the difference. Almost...

Steamed glutinous rice with chicken... aka Loh Mai Kai... rice was nice and grainy, not mushy and stodgy.

But the piece de resistance would have to be these pan fried chicken buns.  Absolutely to die for.  A lightly fried bread dough, enveloping delicious bao type filling, sooo sooo delicious!
Ti Chen
Saujana Hotel, Saujana Resort
Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS
40150 Selangor Darul Ehsan
Tel: 03-7843 1234

Monday, August 18, 2014

Simply D, Nusentral

Brainchild of my favourite British chef residing on our shores, Simply D is Steve Allen's newest concept in dining.  Located in the swanky Nusentral Mall, anyone plying the route passing Aloft would be blind not to notice the very catchy exterior of Simply D as you veer the corner on the road.

The cheery exterior which is highly visible from the road after ALOFT....

The media invite clashed with another event I had so I felt quite morose, but fortunately, once again, Makan Fairy Godmother came to the rescue, and with one fell swoop and wave of her wand, presto, we were rescheduled for another day.

The concept is really quite simple.  According to the press release, it's meant to be a compact version of Delicious (yes, did I mention they are from one and the same family? The Delicious group),  concentrating on bestselling items.

Basically, diners can choose from a variety of soups, and noodles, which results in so many possibilities.  Let's see, if you're a stats student, you might be able to figure out the possible permutations, (and that excludes the ADD ONS), and seeing as to how I only got a "terminating pass" in my 2nd year stats class, I'd off hand say that the number of permutations would be 11x7 = 77.....

Not quite something for the indecisive I can foresee.  Fortunately, I usually can zero in on exactly what I want, by simple process of elimination of things that I know for sure I don't want.  More women should learn to think and reason like me.

The charming Steve Allen, the Chief Executive Officer of the Delicious Group. Being CEO, it's a rare treat these days to be able to actually sample his cooking directly.  Sigh. If you are observant enough, you'd notice that the spiral words in the backdrop are actually a carbonara recipe.

Anyway, to order, one goes to the counter, and orders, I can foresee the potential problems of me losing my patience standing behind indecisive customers... I mean, how does one choose from these soups or sauce..

There's a

  • Carbonara
  • Dry Tossed Sambal
  • Simply D Laksa
  • Chilli Chicken Pastamee 
  • Vietnames Salmon Pho
  • Beef short ribs herbal soup
  • Salted Egg pumpkin
  • Roasted Garlic & Sundried Tomato Aglio Olio
  • Teriyaki Salmon
  • Sweet Basil & Cashew Nut Pesto
  • Spiced Red Pepper and Tomato

and a choice of
Linguine, Angelhair, Spaghettini, Flat White Noodles, Fusili, Soba Noodles, Yellow Mee....

with a further choice of add ons of
Chargrilled chiken, ikan bilis, grilled lamb kofta, shaved parmesan, smoked salmon, spicy chicken sausage and tea egg!!!

Anyway, since there were only 3 of us, it would not have been possible to try too many items although that still didn't stop Samantha Sam, the Assistant GM of Marketing & PR of the Delicious Group, from going overboard and ordering WAYYY too much food.

They take pains NOT to overtly name the dishes after popular and established street food names, to avoid any preconceived expectations, but you can more or less guess the inspiration of each dish.  This chilli chicken "pastamee" , with the bits of crispy ikan bilis, that lovely chilli oil paste, and the runny egg is a dead ringer for pan mee, and the choice of linguine as the accompanying noodle is actually a rather natural choice.
This was my choice, Beef Short Ribs Herbal Soup which Samantha recommended be paired with Soba Noodles.  The soup is of course, Beef Kut Teh in disguise, a combination that actually works well, which now makes me wonder, why not more people make Beef Kut Teh, which could possibly be a hit with the non pork eating community.

I loved the herbally flavour and the firm texture of the soba, which I think was buckwheat.  I'd definitely go for the broth again!

This is my 2nd favourite, Salted Egg Pumpkin with Fusili.  So much so I replicated the sauce at a dinner the following weekend.  The added curry leaves chops through the richness of the yolk and the mushrooms give added texture.

A clearer view of the Carbonara recipe.  Incidentally, Malaysians being the boring old farts that they are, ...Carbonara is one of the MOST popular sauces in this whole shebang.  How sad is that!

Vietnamese Salmon Pho, with flate white noodles, aka KUEH TEOW, ...okay, I have to state here, that some things should not venture too far from it's original, such as the stock for Pho.  I did not like the cooked salmon in the soup, and thought secretly (ok, maybe not that secretly) that they should have stuck to the usual Beef Pho.  Maybe after such an outcry from MFG and me, they might consider beefing it up.  Otherwise, the texture of the noodles, and flavour of the soup, was very good.

Caesar Salad With Tea Egg... the Caesar salad is conventional enough, and the tea egg gives it that slight herbal tinge, but not very noticeably.  I wouldn't mind if they had those Japanese boiled eggs, where the yolks are still golden and runny, but the whites cooked.

The 100% Beef Burger, ( I guess in this day and age of processed food, one has to specify that it IS 100% Beef and not a combo of horse and what not), which actually was rather good, although at a glance, it might look dry and tough.

A throwback to the retro days when ice cream sandwiches were all the rage.  The ice cream itself was tangy and refreshing, more a yoghurt like texture rather than creamy, which gives the illusion of being more healthy.

Love the casualness of this place and the very novel idea of the food and drink combinations. Yes, you can do the same for drinks, choose a style, and choose a flavour, and I had the peach tangerine iced tea, which was marvellously refreshing.

Oh, and as a parting thought, if you add the add ons in the permutations and allow any number of add ons in any combination, apparently the formula for number of possible outcomes is 11x7x(77). (Special thanks to my Actuary friend who works nearby there, for the formula)..which totals 63.4 million combinations. 

Lot G9, Nusentral Mall.