Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Precious Old China - Nyonya cuisine

My office is located near Petaling Street, and is a short walk away from one of my favourite restaurants, Old China Cafe. It's not so much the food that appeals to me, but the feeling that I get when I push open the swinging wooden doors and find myself in the dark mirrored room with old chinese music playing in the background and a rickety old table fan in the far corner of the room. Perhaps it will be the subject of a future restaurant review.

But for now, my review is on its sister restaurant, Precious Old China. Located in Central Market KL, it seems to target the tourists rather than locals. But since I am no expert on property markets and locations, I shall keep my two cents worth to myself. BUT if one thinks of restaurants in Central Market as overpriced tourist traps, then he will regret his decision for not giving Precious Old China a chance to prove itself.

We decided to go to Precious Old China last Saturday night. Precious Old China serves predominantly Nyonya (Straits Chinese) food. And at times like this, I claim my "chinese heritage" by saying that this type of cuisine is the stuff my grandma used to cook.

For starters, we decided on the Ju Hu Char and Pie Tee (top hats). Both these dishes have the same type of base, i.e. shredded sengkuang and dried shrimps. The Ju Hu Char has an added ingredient, i.e. dried cuttlefish. The Ju Hu Char was served with lettuce, where one can make cute little popiahs by wrapping the ingredients, and sambal belacan, in the lettuce. I thought it was great, but Gard and Olav found the smell of either the cuttlefish or the sambal a little overpowering. Something about the smell of a barn....? The top hats were also DIY and the outer layer was nice and crunchy.

For our main course, we ordered Kari Kapitan (Chicken), Beef Rendang and Sweet and Sour Fish (Olav's special request). The Kari Kapitan was rich and creamy, the beef rendang was tender and not too pedas, and the sweet and sour fish was up to Olav's expectations. :-) Yummy bario rice, naturally coloured with blue sweetpea flowers and cooked in santan (coconut milk), was served together with the dishes.

I love the decor at Precious Old China. Uncoordinated antique furnishings, glass chandeliers and huge vases add an opulent touch to the restaurant.

Further information can be found on the website:

After that very satisfying meal, we proceeded to SevenEightNine at the Ascott (see earlier review) and got ourselves drunk on cocktails.

Precious Old China

Restaurant & Bar, Lot 2, Mezzanine Floor, Central Market, Kuala Lumpur.

Reservation: 03-22737372

Fax: 03-22745687

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mei King Restaurant, Pudu

Friday afternoon, and the Makan Club was undecided about what to eat. We had eaten Lard Noodles several times. And fish head noodles. And Pudu siew yoke. And Salak South char siew. So with our eyes closed and a finger pointed to the computer monitor, the decision was made. Lam mee it would be.

To get to Mei King restaurant, one has to battle the jam near the Pudu market roundabout. The next obstacle is finding a car park near enough to the restaurant. We were lucky enough to find a car park in front of the restaurant - beginner's luck? :-) It wasn't our first time to the place, but it had certainly been awhile since we last ate there.

Of course, when one goes to Mei King, one has to order the....lam mee! Small bowl - RM5. Big bowl - RM6. Pretty Pui had the curry version which I'm going to order the next time I go there. One can actually smell the lemongrass in the curry.

In addition to the lam mee, we also ordered the fried sui kow, sotong balls and stuffed foo chuk. Pretty and Barbie both enjoyed the fried sui kow although they felt that it would have been better if it were served hot.

May King

38, Jalan Yew, Off Jalan Pudu, KL.

Tel: 03-92223740

9.30am - 6pm (Closed Mondays)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

SevenEightNine at The Ascott Kuala Lumpur

After dinner, we proceeded to 789 at The Ascott. The bartender, "James", was a lovely man. He seemed to like Olav a lot. The cocktails were great, although Gard seemed to think that the strawberry daiquiri lacked enough strawberries and had too much alcohol. I thought it was nicer than Sex On The Beach. The guys agreed that the Mojito was the best cocktail there. It was served with a sprig of lemongrass. Perfect.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'll lean on you and you lean on me and we'll be okay

P r e t t y P u i Ecstatic Eeyore

Bouncing Barbie Smokin' SOB

"The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward. Is not friendship divine in this?"- Henry David Thoreau

Friday, November 24, 2006

Age is just a number. Isn't it?

A young boy guessed my age to be 42.

My initial reaction was to be horrified. But now that I have had time to think about it, I shouldn't be shocked. I am not that far away from 42.

I look into the mirror for signs of wrinkles. I don't see any, but perhaps my failing eyesight is deceiving me.

My boobs are not sagging. Yet. It is a matter of time before they succumb to gravity.

I shall soon want to wear colours other than black to regain my lost youth.

My joints ache. I thought that the pain was due to a miniscule tear I got from a sports injury 6 years ago, but now I think it's just old age and rheumatism.

I live in an imaginary world where I am always 30. I should start socialising with real adults who discuss Tolstoy's War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Stan's Assam & Garam

UPDATE (4 June 2007): Regretfully, I just found out that Stan's has officially closed its doors. I've always loved the food at Stan's and am sad that I shall not get to enjoy their ayam minang and sambal udang petai anymore. Incidentally, if you scroll down, you will notice that I am not the chocolate durian virgin that I thought I was. As I was scrolling through my past posts, the picture of the chocolate durian cake at the bottom caught my eye. I realised that it was the same cake that I had blogged about on 16 May 2007. Upon conversing with Nigel from Just Heavenly Pleasures, he confirmed that they had been supplying cakes to Stan's. Small world, indeed. We were destined to meet. The chocolate durian cake was just the start to a lovely friendship.

Gard texted me a couple of days ago and asked if I'd like to join him and Olav for dinner. I figured that it would be a great idea as they would be going back to Norway on Friday and it would be my only opportunity to spend some time with my two favourite Norwegians (brownie points, brownie points!). There was a catch, though. They wanted to eat malay food.

Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike malay food. In fact, I'm a big fan of rendang tok, serunding and anything "lemak".

But ask any Malay if he knows of a good malay eatery, and he'd probably say nothing beats home-cooked food. Road-side stalls are aplenty, but presentable looking establishments sans the cheap plastic flowers and yellow plastic tablecloths are as rare as a soggy piece of siew yoke.

Anyhow, Botak Tim suggested Stan's. I googled Stan's, and some pretty good reviews turned up. Okaylah, I decided it was worthy of my Norwegian visitors.

Stan's is located at One Bangsar which comprises a cluster of well-landscaped bungalows-turned-eateries. I walked right past it at first, as a wall and a heavily foliaged tree were blocking the signboard. We eventually found it after making a phonecall to the establishment only to find out that we were standing right in front of it, and were quickly welcomed into the restaurant with its minimalist decor of dark wood surroundings and stone floor, the only trace of Malay being its wall decorations.

My normal grouse with Malaysian restaurants is the lack of a good service. How many times have we asked for recommendations of food only to be given a blank stare by a non-english speaking waiter? It was a pleasure to be approached by the manager, Clarice, who did an excellent job in not only describing the food to my non-Malaysian friends, but also in making informed recommendations to us on the different dishes that would complement each other. And we could tell that she was sincere about her recommendations as she did not push the expensive dishes to us.

So what did we end up ordering?

Clarice recommended the prawn sambal with petai. We decided on the larger portion which consisted of about 10 medium-sized very fresh prawns fried with lots of nice crunchy petai in a spicy (but not too hot) sambal. Despite my warning about the petai (specifically on the lingering "scent" in the sweat and urine hours after consumption), the Norwegians did justice to the dish. Olav gamefully finished the remaining petai on the plate, and I don't envy Gard, his roommate, that night. ;-)

Gard was in the mood for lamb, so we decided to go with a non-spicy lamb stew which was cooked in coconut sambal. We ordered a small portion of this dish. It looked rather nondescript in a pale brown rich santan sauce, but it tasted wonderful. I'm not a big fan of lamb, though, so Gard happily finished eating that dish!

Chicken was next on the list, and on the recommendation of Clarice, we ordered the Ayam (Chicken) Minang. Clarice gently warned us that it was rather spicy, but the guys asked her to bring it on!

We ordered a vegetable dish which consisted of 4 different kinds of vegetables in a sambal sauce. I'm not sure exactly which 4 vegetables...the beer was kicking in...but I remember seeing ladies fingers (okra) and four-angled beans!

The meal was served with steamed bario rice (see pic of Gard digging in).

We finished all the food, including the garnishing, but still had room for dessert. After all, a meal isn't complete if it isn't ended with something sweet to provide a contrast to the spiciness. I had heard of the chocolate durian cake at Stan's, so after dutifully warning the guys of the new smells that were going to emerge from the kitchen and my belly, I made my order.

Olav initially ordered the chocolate durian cake, but after my subtle warning, played it safe by getting the treacle pie. He didn't regret changing his mind, equating the durian to his smelly socks...or was it underwear?....too much talk about underwear that night, Olav!

Gard ordered the banana jaggery which was grilled bananas served with ice-cream.

In conclusion: The food was great, the visitors were happy, and the night was pleasant. Stan's completed the picture.

Stan's Assam & Garam

One Bangsar, Jalan Ara, Bangsar, KL


Breakfast: 9.30am to 11.30am (Deli only).

Lunch: Noon to 2.30pm (late lunch available at Deli)

Tea: 3.30 pm to 6pm (Deli only)

Dinner: 6.30pm to 10.30pm
(Pork Free)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Duck tales

UM study shows roast duck may lower cholesterol

PETALING JAYA: Research has shown that eating roast duck may actually promote lower cholesterol levels.

However, initial studies by Universiti Malaya (UM) have found that it is not the duck itself that possesses the attributes, but rather the reddish powder called propriety red yeast rice (PRYR) that is used in the seasoning of the duck.

The food condiment has been reported to be effective in reducing hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol), diabetes and other heart ailments.

PRYR, also known as Xuezhikang, is also used in tonic preparations and enhancing food textures in Asian dishes.

A big shout out to all ducks, and we hope to see you soon in Taman Connaught, Cheras! Quack you!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Welcome to the Church of the Holy Cabbage. Lettuce pray.

Smokin' SOB asked me a couple of days ago why there were only 2 or 3 different vegetable dishes in an indian mixed rice stall. Was it because indians don't enjoy their vegetables? Or was it just our minds telling us that vegetables are vegetables only when they are green and leafy and recognisable?

Having grown up in a home where eating was an art form, I never noticed the lack of vegetables. I remember mum forcing me to finish up the sawi, or else! (rotan hanging nearby).

So coming back to the question of vegetables, what do indians eat?? Popular indian vegetarian dishes include fried sliced eggplant, crispy bittergourd chips, dhall curry, vegetarian kurma, lentils and vegetable curry and tomato chutney. And this is in addition to the usual no-brainer stirfries (my only specialty in this fast-forward world :-)). What makes indian vegetarian dishes special is the addition of a multitude of spices to tempt the palate. I remember the fragrant smell of popping mustard seeds in the kuali mixed with garnishes of sliced onions, ginger and curry leaves as mum whipped up a seemingly simple looking vegetarian dish.

Which makes living in Malaysia really wonderful. The variety of styles of preparation, be it chinese or indian or malay or japanese, ensures that one never really gets bored of the selection of foods we have here.

The traumatic experience of my childhood has guaranteed my eternal hatred for sawi, but I will always appreciate the effort mum put into making her dishes more-than-edible. The secret ingredient? Love. Can't beat that.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

De Foodland Seafood Restaurant

What's with Malaysian establishments and their unimaginative names? La Cucur, De View, and now De Foodland.

Well, I'm certainly glad I don't judge a restaurant by its name. We decided to go there on a Friday night (3 November) on the recommendation of our worthy leader, Ecstatic Eeyore. Now, if you're the kind of KL-ite who only knows how to get to KLCC, Starhill Gallery, Lot 10, 1 Utama, Berjaya Times Square and Sunway Pyramid, I can guarantee that you will have some trouble locating the place. But then again, perhaps it was due to the fact that Eeyore, who was also the driver, decided to take us there using the scenic route, via Sri Hartamas and Mont Kiara and a huge indonesian settlement past the shiny roofs of Mont Kiara. To save you the hassle, here's the map:-

De Foodland doesn't look half bad. Corner shop occupying 2 lots, big green signboard, huge picture of crab above the big green signboard, white walls, white floors, lots of white lighting, relatively clean. Splashed on the walls is the restaurant's entire menu. Imagine crabs cooked in 31 different styles. Marmite crab, cantonese style steamed crab, light soya sauce crab, special taste (??) crab, black pepper crab, hot & spicy crab, sweet & sour crab, kam heong crab, black stout crab, kong pao crab, curry crab, pepper salt crab, stir fried crab, cheese crab, fragrant flower crab, pan fried crab, creamy mushroom crab, fermented black bean crab, creamy butter crab, mee hoon fried crab, nyonya crab, crispy butter crab, ginger & spring onion crab, steam crab with chinesewine, vietnamese style crab, claypot creamy crab with vermicelli, claypot drunken crab, steamed crab with yellow wine, claypot yellow wine crab, salted egg yolk crab and claypot tomyam crab. Whew! Try saying that in one breath. If you're successful, you can either audition for the opera - I hear they're looking for an aria singer who can hold her breath, or volunteer at the local swimming pool as a lifeguard. Anyway, back to the topic at hand, crab aficionados, Pretty Pui and Bouncing Barbie, were delirious. The four of us finally settled for 3 dishes of crabs - Creamy Butter Crabs, Crabs cooked in salted eggyolk and steamed crabs cooked in chinese wine - and Seafood Noodles.

(A word of caution: Despite having a professional photographer in our midst, these photographs were taken using the writer's cameraphone. Food may not look appetising due to the fact that these are pictures of the remnants, taken up close, to make them look like the entire dish. The Makan Club apologises for the photographs and looks forward to an invitation from the owners of De Foodland Seafood Restaurant for a free tasting session and we assure you that our photographs will look 300X more pleasing.)

The creamy butter crabs dish was a little different from those we had tasted in other restaurants, mostly due to the addition of ginger in the recipe. I would have enjoyed it more had I not formed certain expectations of the dish. But Eeyore, Pretty and Barbie will all attest to the fact that I was literally slurping up the sauce. Well....then again, I was slurping up all the sauces and soups...yummy!

If you like salted eggyolk, you will certainly enjoy the crabs cooked in salted eggyolk. This is a rather dry dish, but the chef was liberal with the salted eggyolk.

Pretty, Eeyore and Barbie all thought the steamed crabs cooked in chinese wine was the best of the lot. Consume it while it's still hot. The steamed crab flesh was fresh and sweet and the chinese wine was the perfect complement to the dish.

The 3 dishes of crabs cost us RM152, while the seafood noodles was RM20. The entire bill came to RM195.30. For four people, with an allocation of 1.5 crabs each, the bill was quite reasonable.

Would we go back there again? Certainly. I most definitely want to try the remaining 28 styles of preparation. But I'm not driving.

De Foodland Seafood Restaurant

No. 25 & 27, Jalan 3/62B, Bandar Sri Menjalara, 52200 Kuala Lumpur.
03-6274 4796/016-

Business Hours:

Tue - Fri 10.30am - 2.30pm, 4.30pm - 11.45pm

Sat/Sun/Public Holidays 10.30am - 11.45pm

Monday, November 06, 2006

In the beginning - He who eats alone chokes alone

There is a saying that goes "We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink". That has certainly not been too much of a chore for me as my "eating companions" literally appeared before my eyes at a time when I was wondering who my new friends would be during a time of change that took place some time in the middle of 2006. In addition to the faithful loyals, Pretty Pui and Bouncing Barbie, we met several chaps who shared the same passion for food as we did, people who carried out enigmatic discussions on the virtues of char siew with or without honey; people who believe that food is an important part of a balanced diet. :-)

Having established a Makan Club and having identified 80-odd eating places (I don't call them restaurants as some of them are merely wooden structures designed to prevent the bird-droppings from falling into that bowl of pan-mee), it seemed only appropriate to document our adventures and relive them every couple of months. Yes, I do have a memory of a goldfish (to quote Finding Nemo...a classic!), so this is for me and for everyone who suffers from Alzheimer's.