Monday, November 30, 2009

Delicious Test Menu, Dua Annex

Lately, for me culinary experiences, all good things seem to come from The Lord, and Marian Eu Hooi Khaw. I got an invite recently, for a food sampling of the proposed new menu for Delicious.

Ah, 7.50, I beat the KL Jam by making a few smart detours, and taking the back lanes to emerge on the right side of Jalan Tun Razak. I have to say that after all these years, the lighted up Twin Towers is a spectacular sight, juxtaposed against the naked dark sky.

Of all the Delicious outlets, the one at Dua Annex is my favourite. Although the one at Bangsar Village is nearest to me, it strikes me as one of those places people go to be seen, and me being shy as I am, shy away from places like that unless I have no choice. I meet Poh Lin, the Marketing Boss of Delicious, whom I have also met at JHP's baking class last year. (Her tongue is featured in that post)

After the cursory hallos with our fellow diners, we start with a lovely starter of deep fried shrimp, that called out for a beer. However, I had no drinking company, so had to content myself with water.

An amazing garlic bread with an even more amazing tomato salsa. Very good.

Deep Fried calamari with Tom Yam dip was a winner. The dip was absolutely gorgeous. Bunga Kantan in a thick mayonaisse cum thousand island dressing kind of combination. Lovely.

French Fries Doused With Truffle Oil. I personally would have preferred it without the parmesan cheese that was scattered on top, tilting the entire dish to the salty side, and fries are usually already salty on its own. It also overpowered the subtle truffle oil, which really should be the star of this dish. Fries, truffles, heck, you cant really go wrong.

I have always been intrigued by the concept of the peanut butter banana sandwich, which Nigella Lawson, my goddess, demonstrated in one of her programs, inspired by the King himself, Elvis Presley. Apparently it was one of his favourites. I remember her frying the bread in liberal doses of butter, in a combination that looked shockingly unhealthy but divinely tasty all at once. This version seemed a bit healthier, as the bread wasn't swimming in butter.

Brioche wrapped in beef bacon (my hand quivers whenever I type those words.....bbbbeeef bacon...stammmering)....and perfectly done half boiled eggs. Oh, in case you hadn't figured it out, this was the "Breakfast" portion of the tasting menu. But who eats half boiled eggs in those elegant little egg stands??? Aiyo, I like my eggs in a bowl, with soya sauce and pepper. You're meant to dip (I think) the brioche into the eggs, in polite movements.

Croissant, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. I could easily have this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The creamy scrambled eggs, still runny, but not yolky, despite its sunshine yellow appearance.

We move on to the Salads.

Trio of Japanese salad. For the health enthusiast, the slimy seaweed offers lots of nutritional benefits. It was a tad fishy for me, and the taste of raw seaweed made me feel like a dugong grazing in the grassy waters of the South China Sea, just before being mowed down by errant motorboats.

Crabmeat tart. Absolutely loved the buttery pastry encasing the tart. The crabmeat was a bit overpowered by the eggy filling.

For those who don't like the taste of crab, but enjoy its complex texture, then this tart would be crab nirvana, as there is barely a hint of crabbiness or marine life.

Someone said they saw the Macdonalds delivery guy at the door. Kidding. The fish burger, which originally Abby kept saying, Chicken Burger...and all of us were looking at the menu perplexed. The Pescatarian (not Presbyterian) American couple next to me were thinking, Oh no, yet another inedible item for them. (Unless some of my half past six pescatarian friends who dont mind meat tainted food, this couple are stricter, and declined to partake of dishes that had been tainted with meat). Turns out, Abby was confused, and it was actually butterfish.

Portobello Burger, for the vegetarians, and pescatarians. As long as there is a meat eating bone left in me, I doubt this will rank high on my "must order" list.

Cross section of the butterfish burger.

Sour Plum Fizzy. Frozen asam boi in sprite. Interesting, but a bit too sweet for me.

Lamb kebabs With Yoghurt sauce, and mediterranean salad.

Wagyu Rump with three dipping sauces, Bernaise, Mushroom Reduction, and one other. As my beef palate has forever been spoilt by Michael Elfwing in the Senses lunch, I think I am unqualified to comment on any beef dish from thence forth and forevermore.

Oxtail Meehoon. A local version of what seemed to be a combination of the Vietnamese pho, and our local soup ekor, with hints of a chinese herbal soup, with chinese wolfenberries, and star anise. The garlic chilli sauce, with hints of fish sauce, added kick to the dish.

Balinese Chicken With Rice. Apparently this is a family favourite with the Delicious owners, and they have kindly offered it to the world.

Gravy Boat anchors over the Hainanese chicken chop. Mention hainanese chicken chop, and straightaway memories of Yut Kee, Coliseum and all the other old hainanese and now defunct establishments come to mind. They might be better off not making any Hainanese reference to the Chicken Chop, or just call it Delicious Chicken Chop, as it sets all kinds of expectations.

One of my favourite dishes of the night. Tuna meatballs with Pesto pasta. Yummy. The texture of the meatballs was interesting, without being dry, or bland, as tuna can sometimes be. The pasta and sauce were a marriage made in heaven. This I could eat a whole plate.

The other pasta.....with beef bacon, and a tomato based creamy sauce, which I found too rich. But if you're into rich pastas, hey, knock yourself out with this dish.

The two prominent ladies at the helm of delicious. Abby and May. Lovely bubbly fun.

Baked Cherry Chocolate cake, rich moist chocolate with a dark cherries somewhere inside.

Macadamia caramel cheesecake, which the Pescatarian Americans loved, but I found too sweet.

My favourite dessert, the coconut cake, LOVELLLY light layers of ethereal sponge, with layers of gelatinized coconut water I think, in between and smothered with a generous layer of fresh cream, coated in fresh grated coconut, not dessicated. Light, refreshing, and a MUST order for me.

The boys proceeded to strip the cake.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Felda Hotsprings, Sungkai, And Pusing Public Redux

As we've established, overseas holidays in Spain, or dinner in Hanoi are out of the question when you are a mere mortal raising a brood of four. Not that I would trade them for the world. Anyway, as necessity in the mother of invention, or innovation, we are always on the look out for CHEAP affordable and value for money holidays. Hence, thank God for AirAsia, or we'd not have stepped out of the country in the last 6 years.

School holidays are always an exciting time. The thought of having breakfast with the kids at our regular kopitiams, the incessant noise, the fighting for computer time, etc. This year, for the long holidays, we decided to explore some Cuti cuti Malaysia destinations, and remembered reading about the Sg Klah Felda Hotsprings in the NST some time ago. But like all MALAYSIA BOLEH things, there was NO phone number, no contact, nothing at all, to show us where this veritable Garden of Eden lay. So, thank goodness for the internet.

Actually, surprisingly, the Felda Hotsprings have an impressive website, and really, you gotta hand it to these people, they are genuinely friendly. "Oh, book sahaja, tak payah kredit kad, bila datang aje bayar la". (oh, just go ahead and book. No need for credit card details. Pay when you get hear) Now, no commercial chinkie operation will let you get away with that. On airasia, you change your flight because you have a flatulence attack oso they will whack you with a surcharge.

Anyway, being the perenial skeptic, I lowered my expectations to the lowest possible bar on the rung, although instinctively, I knew it was probably good. RM180 nett per night, for room and breakfast! Bonus! When we reached, wife found flyer that said, weekday special, RM150 net per night, for room, breakfast AND DINNER! WOW!

The torrential monsoons were upon us when we arrived, but that didnt stop me from being impressed already! The rooms were very nice. Large, spacious, clean, decent bathrooms, AND, free extra mattress thrown in for our fellow rakyat who have an average of 8 kids per family. Mind you, my brood of 4 already reaped the benefit from the extra mattress. Nooo, we did not take just one room.

The sprawling grounds, nestled in what must have been an oil palm estate, boasts 64 rooms, several villas (self contained, with kitchen and 3 bedrooms, which were fully booked, despite the RM800 per day price tag), a gorgeous spa village, with private hotspring pools, for those who do not wish to mingle with the rabble, family spa pools, RM75 for 8 people, therapeutic pools, reflexology paths with rivulets of hot spring water, one HUMONGOUS olympic sized hot spring pool, and one HUMONGOUS cold water pool with mountain spring water. Think of bathing in a large pool of Evian....except spoilt by the thronging masses of fully clothed people. Again, there is a choice, you can opt for exclusive family spas. Me, I am a rakyat and proud of it, so had no qualms basking in the public pools. (also a cheapskate la. Not gonna pay RM25 per person for a private hot pool when its free elsewhere).

The rooms. Clean and large.

The Large Hot Springs Pool

Can see the steam rising in the background. Water from the hotsprings are channelled here.

The water source.

This picture is not doctored. The steam around the area is that misty! Those kids are walking along the reflexology path.

Smaller therapy pools, ranging from 35-40C.

The cold water mountain springs pool with slides and fountains.

The modern chalet style rooms.

The SPA village.

If this was a vineyard in Tuscany, the price would be how much in Euro? All we need now is for palm wine that can be sold at a premium.

The fully clothed masses in the pools.

There are some springs that are so hot, 100C you can boil an egg.

The boiled egg. Very tasty. Just a tip. Next time bring your own eggs, and soya sauce, and disposable bowls. Nothing like gorgeous half boiled eggs cooked by Mother Nature's Hot Spring Water.

After the Hotsprings, we proceeded to Ipoh, but not before stopping for lunch at Bidor.

Freshly baked chicken biscuits are absolutely gorgeous and addictive. Not cheap. RM3 for a bag of 8 or 10. But it can be whacked in one go, easily. The aroma is really fantastic, despite the absence of lard.

Trust the Chinese to animalise everything.

Mushu? Wushu anyone?

I celebrated my 43rd (ARGH!!!!!!) birthday in Pusing Public, Ipoh, with a fabulous dinner, courtesy of my dear brother in law.
I didn't know this the first time round, but this time, we found out that this was actually an EUNUCK, ie, castrated chicken. Eunuch Cluck. No wonder it was sooo tasty.

This amazing pomfret is cooked two ways. Fried on one side, and steamed on the other. I've seen those filleted fish, where the flesh is steamed, but the bones deep fried. But this is somethign else. Fried on one side, and steamed on the other! HOW? !!!!

The lovely sang meen. Very nice, crispy, doused in gravy which makes it chewy all again.

Amongst the many greeting I got, a few asked, "Who is baking your birthday cake, FBB?". Her name apparently is Josephine, or Jo's workers did it. The tiramisu, which wife bought from a trendy cafe in Ipoh, costs RM110. Isnt that like the GDP of Ipoh? Exorbitant, even by KL standards. Circumferenced with non dairy cream for that pure white effect. Son remarked on the absence of booze.

Thanks everyone for the birthday greetings!!!

How to get to the hotsprings: Up the north south highway, turn off at Sungkai toll before Bidor. However, if need to eat at Bidor, its only 13km away. After the Sungkai toll, turn left, follow the signs. 1km from the turn, turn left again. It is SURPRISINGLY WELL SIGN POSTED, and anyone with half an eye couldnt miss it.