Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ero...Oops, I mean Exotic

It's nice when a name, so simple, yet so ....EXOTIC, conjures up images in your mind, and sets a certain level of expectation. A few months ago, Fratmustard used the excuse of a food review at Exotic, in Changkat Bukit Bintang, (which doesn't exist) to plan a surprise birthday party for me. He along with 20 or so others. Conned big time, I was.

Turns out, there really was a food review waiting for us at the real Exotic, tucked away in a corner shop at Desa Sri Hartamas....just across from Finnegans, actually. Courtesy of the Q guides and of course, the very friendly proprietress, Jesse. I really did not know what to expect, and I found out that like a lot of things in life, when one has no expectations, one is pleasantly surprised. Frat's alter ego and Aly of Red FM were having a puff at the entrance, when I arrived. We decided that it would nicer to sit outdoors, in a semi alfresco setting, which is where most of the crowd was. An obnoxious little kid came up to Aly and told her, "You Cannot Smoke", leaving as of us gaping speechless. Speechless coz she wasnt even smoking at the time. Kids!

That is Lemongrass straddling monkey's tongue. As in, a stalk of.....
And straddling the two glass is Frat, the Colossus of Rhodes.

The Exotic combination starter platter, which comprised Fresh Prawn Roll, Vietnamese Spring Roll (Prawn), Thai Fish Cake, Thai Treasure Bag, Mango Salad. The mango salad was lovely and tangy, the prawn roll was nice and crunchy, and the fish cake was authentic. RM22. But I am not sure if our portions were the standard size. If so, very reasonable!

Check out the mutant gigantic mint leaves. I've only ever seen the shrivelled ones here.... apparently they get it through a special supplier. I love mint leaves, and the mint and basil combination to eat the spring roll really gives the combination a lovely exotic flavour...excuse the pun.

Vietnamese Crepes, made from yellow bean flour, something like mung bean. At first we were wondering if it was a giant omelette, (like the giant mint leaves), but no. Actually its a crispy crepe...the texture is like the crispy apam. With chicken and bean sprouts within. Very addictive and went well with the beer.


Dips In Vinegar Broth...an Exotic Steamboat, so to speak. I think it has Vietnamese origins. The raw stuff is dipped into the vinegared broth in a pot over a flame, (the same pot that called the kettle black), and is then skillfully rolled up in a rice paper sheet, much like how we roll our popiahs. But finer. After a couple of attempts by ... cant recall who, that look like condoms stuffed with elephants, Monkey took over the rolling, and produced perfect rolls.

Grilled Beef Around Lemongrass Stick.... Personally, this I think was my favourite. The beef was tender, and flavoursome, and it was easy to eat. Like a beef lollipop.

Fried Rice in Young Coconut. Fluffy rice, fried to near perfection, and then served in a young coconut. Can't get more exotic than that. Well, its either a pineapple or a coconut.

Cambodian Grilled Squid. Oh, this dish was also very good. Against the backdrop of two swans carved from some vegetable... the squid's texture was perfect, and the marinate made it a perfect pairing with the beer as well.

Cambodian Stewed Fish in Young Coconut. This was probably my least favourite. I think the fish used was Catfish.

Almost like the Thai version of Tup Tim Krup. No complaints here. Frat's alter ego was saying the best version he ever had was in the Carrefour in Bangkok.... really ah? Yoo hoo, Unkaleong, can you verify this?

Frat behind the bush, with the two caramelised banana fritters.

Tapioca Cakes.... at first we thought it was mango puddings.


Well, you know, when you are with good company, half the battle is won, and food usually DOES taste better with good company. I was rather pleased with the meal, and would certainly like to revisit the place incognito, to see if it IS always that good. I hope it is! The full menu can be found here.

Thanks Jess, Fratmustard and Lisa of theQguides.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pan Heong With the Pantheon of Gods & Goddesses

As mystical and elusive as the gods that reside on Mt Olympus, a trip to Pan Heong somehow always failed to materialize, until one day, the Goddess herself, Boolicious of Masak Masak, decided to intervene and snapped her fingers, and lo and behold, and outing was organised in less than 5 minutes.

The way we rendezvous-ed to form a convoy heading to Pan Heong makes you think it's located in an orang asli settlement in the foothills of the Titiwangsa range.... actually, its VERY easy to find. Turn off to the Batu Caves/Kuantan road from Jln Kuching, take the first left after the huge elevated roundabout, and left again. The chinese school is the landmark.

We are amongst celebrities..... Lil Chef, from Senses, KL Hilton (Frat's and my idol and hero), Aly, his other half, from Red FM, fasting growing English language station in Malaysia, and of course, no need for introductions, the Queen of the DSLR....who incidentally has her own blog post pasted up on the walls of Pan Heong. That's like having your painting in the sistine chapel.

The Youth of Today.

Monkey indulges in a supersized Jam Tart which Boolicious brought back from Singapore. They were delightfully buttery, with pastry that crumbles in the mouth.

This is some potato leaf vegetable dish. Aisehman, how to be food blogger like this? Can't even describe the vegetables correctly. I think its called Fan Shue Yip....literally, potato leaves. It has a lovely slim texture, and enough chlorophyll to make you want to go into the sun and photosynthesize.

Aren't we lucky to have such lovely ladies (or girls) to serve us? Lovely century egg and fish congee, which is one of their signatures. Smooth texture like a baby's bottom.

Actually, the century egg was surprisingly good quality. Our local century eggs somehow usually lack that rich, gooey yolks that the Hong Kong ones have. Maybe Hong Kong/China ducks lay golden eggs. Our local yolks are usually hard and tasteless. The one in the congee was well, not as good as the Hong Kong ones, but better than most local ones.

The MUCH famed and hyped about Sang Har noodle. (Freshwater Noodle). The twist is they use kueh teow instead of sang mee. I myself am an ardent Sang Mee fan, but this kueh teow option was very palatable indeed. Lovely silky smooth rice noodles slithering down the throat coupled with that rich prawny roe gravy. Divine!

Kau Yoke Meehoon. It's like that Mui Choi Kau Yoke dish, except with mee hoon, without the mui choi. (its a fatty pork with preserved vegetables dish). Very good, and we were bemoaning the fact that there was only one plate. That was duly rectified.

Nam Yue Pork. Deep fried filleted pork in a preserved bean coating. Lovely and crisp, the kind of food that goes well with booze. Which we thankfully had. A couple of bottles of Savignon Blanc made for a lovely nap after lunch.

Mee Mamak, in a chinese tai chow. 1 Malaysia!!!! However, they should leave the mee mamaks to the mamaks... it was okay in itself, if you do not compare, but as far as Mee Mamak goes, I think the resemblance was about as much as me and Jet Li. The similarity stopped at the Yellow.

Encore plate of the Kau Yuk meehoon.

Two satisfied children.

So, is it worth the hype? Well, the food is good, no doubt about it. I would definitely go back again at the soonest opportunity. Go early, coz it was packed, and without our Goddess's influence, I wonder if we would've gotten a seat at all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We Live In Eggs citing Times

Humpty Dumpty sat in the mall
Thinking life would be just a ball
Then all these people
With hammer and chisel
Cracked him and broke him in front of all.

And all the kings horses and all the king's men, couldn't give a toss.

Poor Humpty, if that was indeed what happened. But don't worry, no eggs were harmed in the production of this blog.

You see, a few months back, Ryan Khang of the Cooking House and My Nourishment magazine, asked if I would be interested in contributing a few recipes for this collaboration cookbook between Nutriplus and a few regular chefs who taught in Cooking House. I represent the "non-chef" category, much like the laity and the clergy. Celibacy not being my thing, I clearly am the laity. So, I thought, why not, afterall, it will be decades before I finally realise my dream of appearing in print, in a cookbook.

Time flies by in the blink of an eye, and before you know it, the book has been gestated and it was birthing time. Or in this case, hatching time.

Ta-dah, the unveiling of the book, which sat within the giant egg. Hypothetically, if the egg came from a bird, you'd be looking at a Garuda or Pterodactyl. (yes yes, I know they're not birds).

One of the contributing chefs was Medal Winning International Pastry Chef, Leslie Teong, who wins medals the way Pete Sampras wins Grand Slam titles.

A rather pleasant unexpected visitor. Who actually came to see one of the other contributors, Swee San, that sultry looking pastry chef.

Ryan and Gina. Gina is my Magimix see foo. This woman makes cooking and baking look so simple. Of course, it isnt THAT simple.

Anyway, Leslie, the celeb chef, was rather chuffed to meet our delectable Su. ;) Apparently he is her idol as well.

The book is available as far as I know, for now, in front of the Jusco Supermarket in Mid Valley Megamall, at the Nutriplus booth. It is selling for RM70, (hard cover la), but if you buy RM30 worth of Nutriplus products, you can buy the book for RM35. Makes sense to buy the products.

There is also a series of baking demos by all the contributors of the book at the booth, over the next two weekends.

Special thanks to Ryan, Edyth and Mei Kei of the Cooking House for always being so supportive and letting me be a part of this fun project.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sungai Gabai Waterfall, Lui Cafe, Hulu Langat

It's difficult to believe that within less than an hour of leaving your home in KL, you can be in a different world altogether. Heck, on a weekday, 45 minutes barely lets you reach Midvalley Megamall from a short stretch, say from PJ Hilton.

When my cell group (home group sounds less cell-tic) member suggested a waterfall trip to Sg Gabai, inwardly, I groaned. Early morning, jostling with the hoi polloi to get a decent spot, driving to God knows where.....however, for the sake of camaraderie, and esprit de corps, I complied, meekly, like a lamb led to the slaughter.

Older son was kicking up a big fuss, being awakened from his weekend slumber, and having had a late night the night before didn't help. However, his younger two siblings were far better behaved and obediently got dressed, albeit drowsily.

It's been years since I've been to these parts. GFAD (Girl from Abu Dhabi) mentioned she remembers camping at the foot of Gunung Nuang, in her pre-sex days. (quoted verbatim). It must have been pretty untainted then. The area, I mean. Hulu Langat. Verdant tropical jungles, lots of bush, lots of trails, clear waterfalls. Untainted.

To my surprise, Sg Gabai was actually very clean, despite the thronging masses, ranging from the photographic society of Petaling Jaya, to families who build full fledged fires to cook a full fledged meal, from peeling potatoes, and slaughtering chickens in situ. (okay, maybe not, but sure seemed like it).

Ah, Sunday morning with nature. I can imagine AWHIFFOFLEMONGRASS shuddering in horror at the very idea. Nothing like a good trek in the morning, to perk up one's sagging spirits, and butt.

You know, you do not need to spend an arm and a leg bringing kids abroad for holidays. One reason why I am reluctant to send my kids to private schools are the expecations for holidays. No stamping of passport, no boarding pass, no holiday. Throw them in a stream, and watch them derive the same pleasure as they would get by going to Disneyland.

Nothing like a packet of warm nasi lemak after a dip in the icy cold waters.

A godmother and her goddaughter.

The place also boast a menagerie of fauna....from Daddy Long Legs, to pretty butterflies.

The simple pleasures of life.... only cost RM1.

Blood brothers.

Sharing is caring.

After the waterfalls, we stopped over at my friend's cafe, CAFE LUI, which is along the Sg Gabai road, just after Sungai Lui, or thereabouts. It is actually a private homestead, with the Cafe at the front.

Apart from the Cafe, they also have a Kelah farm. Kelah is an expensive eating fish....apparently up to several hundred bucks a kilo.

The milos are served with style...a sprinkle of milo powder over the ice....on a sweltering hot day....bliss.

Drinks are named after famous Malaccan heroes, from Hang Jebat to Hang Lipo. (not Liposuction)

My watermelon fizz was an oasis in the desert....

Delicious home made mee rebus!!!! Gorgeous gravy, with delectable condiments, and yellow noodles. YUMMMY!!!

The kiddo's fish and chips.

Look at that delicious mee rebus!!!!!
Well, if going to Sg Gabai or are in the vicinity of Hulu Langat, do drop by at this cosy cafe. It opens only on weekends.

Yeah, so, moral of the story, you can have a jolly good time at minimal cost. Kids do not need to be pampered in 5 star hotels. Let them rough it out a bit. Bring them on Cuti Cuti Malaysia.

The kids are already asking when they can go to the waterfall again!