Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lyrical Lemongrass' Diary - 24 Hours of Indulgence

riseaboveFriday. 27 April.

7.45pm (15 minutes after arrival time for 1st ever food bloggers' gathering at Sandias, Damansara Heights)

Late!!! SMSes lambasted me from all directions.


No carpark! I drove past Sandias and saw lots of beautiful people.


Threw car on an illegal yellow line, jumped out and did the 100m dash to Sandias. I was too dishevelled to feel jittery, but butterflies came back as I made it past the front entrance. Nigel spotted me first and greeted me with a loud yell and a big warm hug which immediately melted my fears. Makan kakis, WMW, Precious Pea, Boo_licious and FatBoyBakes appeared soon after so I knew I was in familiar territory. I also managed to locate my Shah Alam makan kaki, Riz, and his friend, Adly from FriedChillies. Citygal kept to her perfume promise, while Jackson kept to his....other....promise. I shall never wash my cheek again.


Started warming up. Thanks Martell and Kenny Mah for constantly replenishing the fluid supply on our table. SC and SF seemed totally entertained by the banter (which progressively became louder and sillier with more Martell) going on in our little corner. The conversation was so loud that I had a hard time hearing Mei Yen, Bob (Mei Yen's fiance) and Tim at the other end of the table. No, it wasn't because my ears needed cleaning.

Between 8.30pm and hmmmm....11.00pm?

Ate a bit and photographed a bit. These are some of the pics I took (staying true to the code of ethics, I didn't photograph faces of food bloggers!):-

Serious foodblogger Tim from 3-meals nursing his Martell.

The very sweet SC from Food4Thot enjoying her Taquitos Fritos.

The whacky Riz Ainuddin from The Connoisseur in Me with his Postre Helado de Limon.

Kenny's lovely dinner date, Nisa, proudly displaying her Pollo a la Castellana.

Kenny Mah dipping his tortilla.

A very happy Jackson from Living in Food Heaven.


Left for The Attic, feeling a little hungry, but looking forward to the choc & cheese cake from Just Heavenly promised by Nigel.

nigel's cake
Perfection in a slice. I relished every bite.

12.00 midnight

As the hours went by, the night grew a lot more decadent. My code of conduct at The Attic does not allow me to elaborate further.


Left The Attic in an intoxicated state, thanks to a sensational cocktail - In Bed with KC (or is that Casey?). Who would have thought Tabasco sauce could do more than make Mary all bloody? Ask for that cocktail the next time you're at The Attic. If you're a masochist. It burns.


Jumped into bed.

Saturday. 28 April.


Woke up with a hangover.


Met up with Jason, WMW and Precious Pea for lunch. Made a pit stop at Precious Pea's place to see her new prized possession. Pumpkin is hyperactive and absolutely adorable!


Baby walrus or dog? You decide.


Made our way to Kin Kin Restaurant for their famous pan mee. By this time, everyone was ravenous, having skipped breakfast to pig out in the afternoon. The pan mee was worth the wait.

I must be a masochist. Why else would I continue eating the chilli despite seeing warning signals - burning throat, beads of sweat forming on my nose, tears torrentially pouring down my face?


Being the gluttons that we are, we made our way to Nam Chuan in Lucky Garden, Bangsar for a second round of food. Parked car, illegally, on yellow line near the roundabout at Lucky Garden.

sarawak laksa
Sarawak laksa.

hakka abacus seeds
Hakka Abacus Seeds.

Char koay teow.

At this point, Nigel graced us with his presence.


Reminded food bloggers that we were attending "Readings" at Seksan's in Lucky Garden which was scheduled to start at 3.30pm.

3.30pm (scheduled start time for "Readings")

Made frantic call to Kenny Mah to find out where in the world Seksan's was.


Parked car, illegally, behind someone's house, thereby effectively blocking the entire back alley. Greeted by the man himself, posing in his free Martell Rise Above T-shirt from the night before.

Ladies and gentlemen, to vote for contestant No. 9 in Who Wants To Be The Most Diversified Jack-Of-All-Trades-Master-Of-ALL, dial 1800--12345. Call charges will be RM25.47 for each vote that you make. All proceeds will go to the Foundation For The Hungry Food Bloggers Who Also Need Yoga Lessons Desperately.


Kenny went up first with his reading of I Am Woman, Is This Missing You and Only The Greatest Gets To Go. Wow!! Wow!!! Wow!!!!! Picture's a bit blur. I had the cheap seat.

Jerome Kugan went up next. His heart wrenching renditions inspired WMW to start singing about food throughout our journey back. I think she deserves a spot in the next Readings session. Can Sharon Bakar please take note? TQ. :-)

By this time, having had quite a big dose of intellectual nourishment, we were feeling hungry and ready for dessert, so we hopped and skipped away to my car as we headed to our next destination.


Home is where the heart is, and boy, were we at Home! Bakerzin at Bangsar Village.





Rushed frantically home. I was meeting my family members at 7.30pm for a night of culture.


Dang. We got our meeting place all wrong. They were waiting for us 25km away from where we were. So we agreed to meet up at MATIC instead.



Dance begins. Peace and quiet for 2 hours.

Note: Complete food reviews will follow in due course. This is just a teaser. I am still a food blogger at heart although I am contemplating moving to the dark side.

Other reviews:-

Friday, April 27, 2007

Lawanya food stall, Brickfields

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that the allure of Brickfields is its people. Beaming, chipper faces. People who recognise you because you haunt the indian stall while pigging out on nasi lemak and tea with gusto. And if you don't turn up to work for a week, they notice your absence. These are the newspaper vendors, the malay mixed rice stall owner, the parking meter attendant, the driver to the boss of the company two doors away......and they're all friends. People with faces and lives. You can tell that I miss them a lot, and sometimes, I sneak away to be alone in Brickfields and in my solitude because I miss them and the environment so much, and despite having been away for so long, they still recognise me and chat with me and ask if my family's okay.

I have been procrastinating about writing this post for a very long time. Among all the indian food places I have been to, this little stall nestled in a lane off Scott Road in Brickfields serves, in my opinion, the best south indian food. When I used to be in Brickfields, I frequented this food stall at least twice a week over several years. My hesitation in writing about this place stems from the fact that I am somewhat unconfident that my writing may not do justice to the delectable food that can be found at this tiny little stall.

Set up in 1984, Mrs Chellam has been running this stall for 24 years. Her husband pops by sometimes, but most of the time she singlehandedly manages this stall. Business must have certainly been good as she also operates a food catering business which was formed in 1992. Sometimes, on weekends, I see her and her assistants laboriously peeling onions and garlic and chopping up huge amounts of ingredients in kaleidoscopic hues in preparation for a wedding or a similarly grandiose event.

Every stall has its speciality. At this place, it is the chicken varuval that makes people return in throngs. The chicken pieces are fried with an assortment of condiments and spices until the sauce is dry and thick. The secret to getting the lovely flavour is the use of evaporated milk instead of coconut milk to thicken the sauce. The sensation of eating these delectable pieces of chicken is like an explosion of flavours from the different ingredients, from the caramelised onions to the aromatic cumin to the fiery chilli.

Almost as good is the mutton curry with its thick sauce made of a blend of ginger, onions and garlic. The meat is tender and imbued with the flavour of all the spices.

fried fish
Fried fish is an option for those who don't care much for mutton or chicken. In addition to the meats, there is also a good selection of vegetables, from stir-fried mixed vegetables to deep-fried crunchy bittergourd.

This place is open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays only.

No. 4, Lorong Scott, Brickfields, 50470 KL.
Tel: 03-2274 9234
HP: 016-221 8074

Monday, April 23, 2007

Vintry, Damansara Heights

Saturday night.


I had just come home.

Exhausted, after a long day, I threw my car keys on the table.

"There's no dinner!", I yelled from downstairs.

All I heard was the TV blasting at 150 decibels, way past the threshold of pain.

"I'm not cooking! I'm too tired!", I yelled again to get his attention.

Still no response. He was definitely engrossed in the football game.

I crawled upstairs. "There's no food", I said. Then in a moment of weakness, a wave of compassion hit me. "I'll take you out for dinner. My treat."

That last remark got The Bald Eagle's attention. "I'll have to be back by 9.55pm. Liverpool's playing", he said.

"Sure!", I replied. Dinner at the nearby mamak stall wouldn't take long. "Let's go now."

As I was driving out of Bukit Jelutong, I casually asked The Bald Eagle to decide where to eat.

"Vintry", he said.

"Vintry? In Damansara Heights??", I asked incredulously. "But we're not even properly dressed to eat anywhere other than at a mamak stall!"

I was dressed in the same rags that I was wearing the whole day, while he was in board shorts and T-shirt.

"It's okay. It's a neighbourhood restaurant anyway", came his smug reply.


I obliged because I was still feeling guilty about not providing food on the table.

cabernet sauvignon
Fifteen minutes later, we were parked in front of Vintry. We turned up with no reservations, and were shown to the only available table. I love the dark shadowy ambience at Vintry with a few lamps placed in strategic spots to enable people to see their food. It was so dark that no one could see how sorry looking we were.

I had been on a food crawl with a few bloggers (WMW, Precious Pea and Boo_licious) earlier in the day, and was stuffed after eating 1/4 duck with a plate of rice, ice cream and some fancy drink and char siew after that. And that was after eating curry chee cheong fun for breakfast. So understandably, I wanted something light for dinner.

pork burger 2
The spirit was willing but the flesh was certainly weak. Unlike The Bald Eagle, who exercised restraint by ordering a plate of Korean fried noodles, I gave in to my desires and ordered a pork burger with blue cheese. The burger was huge! The thick patty, sitting on a bed of lettuce, was made with ground pork meat that was really delicious, and it was topped with a piquant blue cheese dressing that enhanced the flavour of the pork. They went so well together. A solitary slice of overfried bacon was thrown in, almost like an afterthought, which I thought the burger could have done without. Raw sliced onions completed the picture. All these were sandwiched in between toasted buns scattered with sesame seeds.

korean noodles
The Bald Eagle's Korean fried noodles with caramelised roasted pork looked very much like a plate of instant noodles (maggi goreng). The noodles were, nevertheless, springy, and the star attraction in that dish was the roast pork, fried with soy sauce until caramelised, and served on top of the noodles.

board games
It was a very satisfying meal and a nice end to a hectic day. We made it back on time to watch Liverpool play. And he footed the bill. Sweet.

Other reviews:-
130, Jalan Kasah, Damansara Heights, KL.
Tel: 03-2094 8262

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wong Kee, Pudu - Siew Yoke

siu yoke
The object of my dreams.

The subject of my fantasies.

The reason for my constant ramblings in my drunken stupor.

Behold the siew yoke. With its crisp, thin, roasted, golden skin over layers of lean meat and fat, very much like a layer cake, it synergises into an explosion of salty porcine goodness as it instantly melts in your mouth and gets digested.

No other siew yoke (roasted pork) I've ever tasted comes close to the siew yoke at Wong Kee, and if you are willing to wait to be served and tolerate a little rudeness, you will be rewarded for your patience.

Along with the siew yoke, we ordered a plate of roast duck for a complete carbon-infused meal. While the meat was tender, it was nevertheless rather fatty, dripping in oil and tasted a little salty. Its redeeming quality was the deliciously crispy skin, and for that, I forgave its minor deficiencies.

The meal for 3, together with drinks, cost us RM59.

Other reviews:

Restaurant Wong Kee

No. 30, Jalan Nyonya, Off Jalan Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2145 2512

Operating hours: 11.30am - 2.30pm (Closed on Sundays)

Note: If you want to be guaranteed of eating this delectable meal of siew yoke, do go there early as they run out of the meat way before closing time. In such cases, do check out the other foods in the area, namely Yap Hup Kee yong tau foo and Tong Kee egg tarts, all within walking distance from each other.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My Omakase Initiation at Iketeru

In 1991, I learnt my first Japanese phrase: Itadakimasu (let's eat). I had not tried a morsel of Japanese food then, but I was quick to learn the useful phrases. My friends didn't understand why I would wish Itadakimasu upon eating my roti canai at the mamak stall. But somehow, that phrase stayed with me and I felt that it was a good start to a meal, somewhat like saying a prayer.

I learnt a few more Japanese phrases since then, at least enough to get by when the Bald Eagle and I went to Japan in 2005 to watch Liverpool play in the FIFA Club World Championship where, being the groupies that we were, we stalked the Liverpool FC players at their hotel, with SLR cameras in tow like paparazzi. Sao Paulo won that year, and instead of sulking like little children who were deprived of their favourite candy, we gyrated to the samba beat with the Brazilian supporters on the streets of Tokyo.

I soon became obsessed with all things Japanese, from cutesy objects to delectable Japanese cuisine. Unfortunately, as much as I enjoy Japanese food, I was never inquisitive enough about delving deeper into what I was eating and why I was eating it. So my visits to Japanese restaurants were usually about the same predictable food that I had always been eating for so many years. Not that it's a bad thing. After all, why get scientific? If I like tuna belly sashimi, why should I try anything else? Again, I was demonstrating my same predictable boring nature of not having a curiosity for something new.

My interest was piqued when I hooked up with another blogger and we agreed to dine at Iketeru. Iketeru has a special Omakase menu that changes every month. Omakase literally means "entrusting". At some restaurants, when one orders an Omakase, one basically leaves it to the chef to determine the entire menu. In Iketeru, however, a couple of sets are predetermined by the chef, but what one is assured of is the use of the freshest seasonal ingredients available.

Spring in Japan is associated with the prolific blooming of cherry blossoms (sakura). And so, with the advent of Spring, our menu was tailored towards the sakura and other seasonal produce available in Spring. My Suzu order, at RM290++, was a 9-course meal.

My appetiser consisted of 3 items. The boiled rape blossom (a popular springtime ingredient) with mustard sauce did not have the sharp flavour that I expected to taste but it was a good start to the meal as it was fresh and crunchy. I liked the chilled egg custard which looked very much like tofu, but had a slight taste of sesame in it. The smoothness was very much like tofu although it wasn't as light in texture. What was undoubtedly my favourite for the night was the marinated firefly squid. The firefly squid is the smallest of all squids and has thousands of light-producing organs. The light emitted from the squid is said to either protect itself from predators or attract its prey. These seasonal creatures, when captured by fishermen, are immediately thrown into a concoction of sake, mirin and soy sauce and pickled. I think it's the ultimate way to go - dying from being drunk in a pool of alcohol! The squid had a nice bite to it and upon puncturing it with my molars, I felt a squirt of salty juices fill my mouth. It was absolutely lovely.

A clear soup of bamboo shoots and seaweed was served next. It tasted delicious in its simplicity.

I had barely started on my soup when my next course arrived. The sashimi platter prettily displayed four types of sashimi: tuna belly, king clam, firefly squid and raw sea bream wrapped with sea urchin. The tuna belly was firm enough in texture and sufficiently fatty.

the one that got away

The firefly squid in this instance was not the marinated kind as described earlier, hence the freshness of its flavour was accentuated by the aftertaste of the sea rather than the sake/mirin/soy sauce combo. The raw sea bream wrapped with sea urchin was interesting; the filling was creamy and mushy while the "wrapping" had a nice bite to it. The filling literally oozed out into my mouth as I bit into this unusual sashimi.

simmered bamboo shoot, sea bream roe and japanese yam in bonito sauce
Next up was the simmered dish of bamboo shoot, sea bream roe and japanese yam in bonito sauce. The seasonal vegetables were a little too soft for my liking. I certainly didn't expect the sea bream roe to look like a hard piece of sponge, and unfortunately, the taste was forgettable too.

grilled trout with teriyaki sauce, baby octopus and assorted vegetables
The grilled dish was more exciting. Beautifully presented on a long plate, the baby octopus was nice and chewy while the grilled trout with teriyaki sauce was firm to the touch and tasted wonderful in its sweet marinade. There were a couple of skewered balls, one fish and the other, crabmeat that were quite unlike the fishball which we are all familiar with. Instead, the texture of these balls were less springy while the ingredients seemed to indicate that more fish/crabmeat was used as compared to the conventional chinese fishball. I enjoyed the diced mixed vegetables with what tasted like cubed squid in a creamy green sauce that was both sweet and refreshing.

By this time, I was already feeling rather full and welcomed the distraction provided by a kindly Australian gentleman next to our table who thought Henry and I were both food writers (we immediately corrected him, of course, by letting him know that we were bloggers). I suppose the cameras and the boisterous food talk gave us away!

I am not a big fan of tempura, but I ate it anyway because mum always said vegetables were good for me. The next dishes of claypot rice cooked with bamboo shoot and miso soup were downed without much thought as I was already feeling my food coming up my throat and out of my nostrils at that point. Thankfully, Henry was kind enough to help me out.

japanese pastry
I regained my appetite when dessert was served. Sliced fresh fruit accompanied a single piece of pastry filled with red bean paste. A sakura leaf, soaked and dried, wrapped the confection. The taste was exquisite as I bit into the soft pastry.

Chef Ricky
Towards the later part of the night, as the crowd thinned, Chef Ricky was able to pry himself away from the kitchen to share some of his knowledge with us. I left that evening with a sprig of sakura from Chef Ricky, my head crammed with information, and my belly filled with the best japanese meal I had ever tasted. Will I go back to old favourites again? Possibly. But I shall open up my mind to the unknown as I dream of firefly squids, lit up in all their glory and dancing in the darkness of the night to the sounds of Brahm and Vivaldi.

Other reviews:
The Other Blog

KL Hilton
Sentral, KL.
Tel: 03-2264 2264/Fax: 03-2264 2266

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Marmalade, Bangsar Village II

marmalade cafe
From the enchanting, mysterious darkness of Chynna, we move on to illumination. This is Marmalade at Bangsar Village II. A cheerful brightness greeted us as we entered Marmalade for our Sunday brunch after doing my weekly grocery shopping at The Village Grocer. A whole side of the cafe is panelled from floor to ceiling with glass windows allowing Malaysia's pride, sunny skies, to show off its hues of blue, white and yellow. The walls, floors and furnishings are bathed in warm sunlight. This is the place to go for a lift of spirits.

The Bald Eagle and I opted for the brunch menu. He wanted a hearty breakfast, as all real men do so that they can show off their eating abilities and flex their muscles at the same time. How do they flex their muscles, you ask? Have you seen how they slice their sausage (no pun intended), sleeves rolled up, with biceps and triceps bulging? Or how the squareness of their jaws move as they chew their bacon slowly with a "come hither" look?


brekkie set at marmalade cafe
Anyway, this is his Brekkie set. Hearty and satisfying.

corn bread set at marmalade cafe

I, on the other hand, have a liking for corn bread, so I ordered the Corn bread set. The meal came in the form of a sandwich with slices of bacon (beef bacon?) in between the bread and an egg on top. The bread, served hot, was rich in taste and fluffy in texture, with whole corn kernels visible in the bread, and I must say that this is the best corn bread I have ever tasted. I didn't care much for the baked beans (which seems to be the norm, and which I find quite unimaginative, whenever one asks for an english breakfast), but what I absolutely loved was the avocado salad on the side. The diced avocado had been tossed in freshly squeezed ginger juice, butter and a sprinkling of ground pepper to create a sweet, tangy flavour that was just so refreshing.

Brunch sets, which come with coffee, tea or juice, are priced at approximately RM20.

Other reviews:-

1F-18, First Floor, Bangsar Village II,
No.1, Jalan Telawi Dua, Bangsar Baru,
59100 KL.
Tel: 03-2282 8301

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday Discovery at Chynna, KL Hilton

Today, Chynna introduced a special dinner menu called Sunday Discovery. The menu lists out certain dim sum and à la carte dinner items at half portions (equivalent to half price). This is especially wonderful news for people like me as I normally dine with smaller groups (translated: 2 people) on weekends. It is also good strategy on the part of Chynna which recognises that the crowd is the smallest on Sundays and this new promotion will thus encourage more people, especially couples, to dine out on a Sunday night.

Chynna serves Cantonese style cuisine which has been somewhat Malaysianised to suit local tastebuds. As such, a number of the dishes can be rather spicy.

fried cod with thousand island sauce
Having tried their dim sum before, we decided to try the other items on the à la carte Sunday Discovery menu. The crispy canadian cod fish with chilled icelandic sauce was actually fish fillets, deep fried, and then tossed in a thousand island sauce. What I liked about the sauce was the fact that it was rather crunchy due to the addition of finely chopped celery and garlic. Minced chilli added some oomph to the sauce and made it very tasty. I understand why cod is better served deep fried, as it is impossible to get fresh cod here, but the texture of the flesh loses its smoothness when it is deep fried. The assistant manager of Chynna, however, assured us that if we wanted it steamed, Chynna had a claypot steamed version of cod which was quite good.

claypot chicken

claypot chicken
We liked the stewed claypot chicken with peanuts in XO sauce and garlic. The sauce, in this instance was rather smooth and garlicky, albeit a little mild in flavour, and the chicken pieces had fully absorbed the flavours of the sauce.

scallops with hongkong kailan
The dish of stir-fried Australian scallops in XO sauce was originally supposed to be served with broccoli, but they had run out of broccoli and offered us a replacement of Hong Kong kailan instead. Feeling quite accommodating that evening, we agreed. The Bald Eagle thought the kailan was nice and crunchy but I found it a little overcooked. The scallops and mushrooms went well with the XO sauce which was apparently the chef's secret recipe. I liked the fact that the XO sauce had identifiable pieces of shredded dried scallops, dried prawns, garlic and chilli.

Mint lamb
What was undoubtedly the best dish of the evening for me was the sautéed sliced lamb. Soft, tender and smooth (or in the words of the Bald Eagle, melt-in-your-mouth), the lamb did not have the strong smell that is normally associated with lamb/mutton. The sauce complemented the lamb perfectly - made of mint leaves, garlic, onions and chillies, it had the right amount of spiciness without overpowering the rest of the flavours. Sprinkled with sesame seeds, this dish was perfect.

fried seafood noodles
The fried noodles dish with scallops and prawns was very good and sufficiently charred. At RM20, it was good value.

The entire meal came up to approximately RM160 (before Diamond privilege discounts!). The most expensive dishes were the cod fish and scallop with kailan at RM32 each.

I love the ambience at Chynna and we were served by knowledgeable, articulate and attentive waiters. What a wonderful end to the weekend!

Other reviews:-
Chynna at the KL Hilton
No. 3, Jalan Stesen Sentral
50470 KL
Tel: 03-2264 2264

Incidentally, KL Hilton is having the La Dolce Vita, An Italian Affair promo, from the 19th to the 29th of April, 2007. Lots of guest chefs, workshops, etc. Looks interesting. Anyone interested in joining me? :-)