Friday, August 31, 2007

Bijou, Mont Kiara

coffee cupcake

The buildup towards Merdeka Day has been amazing. Through publications and exhibitions, one can almost feel like one were there when Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaimed Independence to the nation, his fist raised and his voice filled with emotion.

Happy 50th Birthday, Malaysia!

lemon poppyseed cake
bijou bijou bijou bijou

The holidays are perfect for catching up with old friends. I can't think of a better way to enjoy the day than to spend it with two of my oldest (literally!) friends from school, Yvonne and Rachael. I can't say that I've kept in touch with many friends from school, having left school half a lifetime ago, but those who are still in my life are dear to me. I remember, in the days before email, Yvonne and I used to write to each other during the school holidays, and we'd create little booklets out of our letters and illustrate the pages, sometimes creating secret pages to hide clues and presents for each other. Perhaps that is how creativity is born and moulded; imagination is a wonderful tool in the days before home computers and electronic gadgets. Lest I sound like Fatboybakes and his favourite "Young people nowadays.." lament (hehe!), I should state here that I welcome technology, but children should really be exposed to more educational activities. Hmmm. Maybe I am beginning to sound like FBB after all. *gulp*

Bijou is great for an intimate get-together like ours. The term child-friendly absolutely applies to this place as there is a little playground for the kids, while the restrooms have diaper changing facilities and diapers to boot. To keep the children busy while mummies and daddies get a chance to catch up with each other, there are papers and colouring pencils for the kids to doodle away. And what better way to keep a child busy than to give her balloons!

almond brownie
bijou bijou

The decor is clean and breezy. The predominant colours of pink and orange prevailed in the colours of the cushions, balloons, pictures and even the flowers on the table.

We caught up with each other over tea and cakes. The cakes were, without a doubt, marvelous. The almond brownie (RM8) was chocolatey and dense, while the lemon poppyseed cake (RM10) with the cream cheese frosting was very moist and tasty. Both cakes were not overly sweet either. Little Amanda had the coffee cupcake (RM5).

Bald Eagle and Amanda Bijou
Ground Floor, Damai Sari,
Mont Kiara Damai,
3 Jalan Kiara 2, Mont Kiara,
50480 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-6201 2131

For map, click here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Birthday dinner at Max! Kitchen & Wines - Degustation Menu

I turned 29 on Monday.


Bald Eagle called me on Monday afternoon with a simple message. "Meet me at Max's at 8.15pm." I was elated!

I knew it would be no simple dinner. When a chef is given a free rein over the menu, one can expect only the best.

It was a 10-course meal that was designed to please.

feta cheese and tomatoes smoked salmon and spanish octopus Beef bresola

Our first course of smoked salmon came with feta cheese and tomatoes on a bed of chopped spanish octopus, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I love how Max combined the different ingredients to create interesting flavours. The combination of salty, pungent, sweet and sour with the different textures was amazing. The second course of beef bresola (thin slices of cured, seasoned beef) was served together with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes in olive oil. Again, the combination of flavours were wonderful and I felt a sense of excitement, almost like opening christmas presents to see what Santa (in this case, Max) had put into my Christmas stocking!

scallop with sundried tuna on pesto sauce and scallop with pernod sauce

scallops tuna loin wrapped with spanish chilli yabby

The third course was undoubtedly Bald Eagle's favourite dish. The dish was creatively presented; one scallop, lightly grilled, with a sliver of sundried tuna inserted into it, and served with pesto sauce, and the other scallop served with pernod sauce with chopped vegetables. It was a difficult task deciding which one I preferred between the two, and really, there wasn't any reason to choose one, was there?

The fourth course was my favourite. Tuna loin wrapped in spanish chili with tomato clam sauce. The tuna loin was lightly seared so it was cooked on the outside while the inside was still red and juicy. It was my first time trying the spanish chili and I loved the intense sour taste (from the pickling) which combined well with the tuna. I wouldn't have thought that a creamy sauce would have gone well with the tart flavour of the chili, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the flavours blended with each other.

The grilled yabby was laced with old sherry which again, lent a slightly tart flavour to the dish. I would have loved to try more of it as there was only so much flesh in one yabby. Maybe next time.

smoked duck chicken breast grilled lamb

There was more meat to chew on in the sixth course - smoked duck with yellow oyster mushrooms. The meat was not tough, as how duck sometimes tends to be. The seventh course of chicken breast was served with stewed vegetables - I remember eating bellpeppers and tomatoes - and this was served with a lovely garlicky sauce. The vampires would have stayed away from me. At this point, I was beginning to feel rather bloated, but like a woman in lust, I was unable to say "stop". And so the waiters brought out the eighth course - grilled lamb with cannellini beans. The beans are similar in size to kidney beans, but they are white in colour and a popular ingredient in Italian cuisine.

And then came out the ninth course. The dish that made me weep tears of happiness. Wagyu beef cheeks served on mashed potatoes. Simply divine.

chocolate souffle, kataifi pastry and vanilla ice cream chocolate souffle birthday cake

The final course was the dessert which consisted of warm chocolate souffle, kataifi pastry and lovely vanilla icecream. I amazed myself by finishing up everything. I suppose one doesn't have to try very hard when there's good food around!

And to top it all off, what's a birthday without a birthday cake eh? (courtesy of Max)

birthday bouquet It's been a lovely birthday week, so far, thanks to so many wonderful people. Bald Eagle, for the beautiful flowers and a delicious dinner so lovingly planned, my dear friend, Kenny Mah, for the wonderful collection of 4 pieces of writings, Bouncing Barbie for the yummy Japanese lunch at Mizu (you know what I like, girl!), all the sweet little presents from friends, so thoughtfully chosen, and the wishes..those wonderful SMSes (yes Robert, you're the first!), emails and calls from you, dear friends and readers....I'm such a lucky girl. And I'm really happy. :-)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Let the Celebrations Begin: Ma Maison - Home Sweet Home

Ma MaisonMa MaisonOur French friend, Olivier, loves the food at Ma Maison and frequents the restaurant quite often with his wife. We're not surprised, actually. For a restaurant that has been operating since 1995, it has certainly sustained well and is still drawing in the crowds. And why not? All the key ingredients are there. Bald Eagle and I like this restaurant for several reasons.

Firstly, the service is excellent. Walking into the restaurant, one is greeted like an old friend by the proprietor, Bertrand J. Langlet. Contrary to what they say about the French (hehe), there are no airs about this one. It is a typical French kiss-kiss/Malaysian welcome.

Cheese on bread

Secondly, the food is great! More on this one later.

Thirdly, one can get a set lunch, everyday except Tuesday (closed), for just RM28! This includes a free flow selection from the salad buffet counter and a main course.

Salad buffet at Ma Maison spinach and cheese on bread aubergine

cheese and tomato on bread pate on garlic bread Salad buffet at Ma Maison

Talking about the salad buffet, there is a fantastic array to choose from. Cheeses, olives, pate, pastas, salads, breads.......such a pleasing selection! And my favourite? Grilled aubergine....lightly grilled so that the outer skin is a slight crisp and the insides retain its mushiness with a sprinkle of salt to enhance its flavour. So wonderful! And even simple recipes like the potato and egg salads taste great due to the attention that goes into them. Today, I must have taken at least three helpings from the salad buffet as I couldn't get enough of everything.

roasted chicken with tarragon

For the mains, Bald Eagle's choice of roasted chicken with tarragon was exquisite, with the flesh cooked just right, staying firm to the touch and infused with the flavours of the herbs.

salmon au gratin

I loved the Salmon au Gratin. The cheesy sauce was mixed with chopped seafood - mussels and prawns - and drizzled over the salmon, moist and perfectly cooked. Both mains were served with a selection of blanched vegetables and baked sliced potatoes, arranged prettily around the floral plates.

If you're visiting this restaurant, do note that they accept only cash.

Ma MaisonMa Maison French Restaurant
32, Persiaran Ampang,
55000 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-4256 5410

Closed Tuesdays.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Red Ginger, Mid Valley North Point


Red GingerI first stepped foot into Red Ginger at the Plaza Damansara outlet in May 2007 when my dear friend from cyberspace, Msiagirl, and I met for the very first time. It was a friendship that was headed in the right direction, and when we met up, there was only a very comfortable familiarity and a lot of excited twitters between two very old birds!

"Metaphorically, my life was rich with new experience like reading poetry in Malaysia, a country I had exiled myself from for so long. I was attending with my new blogger friends, another rich and rewarding experience: new kindred is a rare and valuable thing, and here it was in abundance where I never knew it could be found." From Msiagirl: Let Me Eat Cake

I should have blogged about this experience then, but somehow, I got caught up in my day-to-day affairs and only now have time to kick back my shoes, push back the stray hairs that fall on my face, turn off the music and enjoy the silence in which such memories permeate.

"Tucked in my chair at Marmalade - light and open to the sun - Kenny and Spiffy before me and Lyrical Lemongrass at my side, where she had been all day; well, we ate cake. I finally and truly felt at home. Eating cake that evening was the perfect experience. A coming together. An alchemy. We picked up the threads of our blogs and we smoothly turned them into real and very truthful people. We laughed and told each other lots of truthful things and all it made was a good difference. Kenny was burning bright with adrenalin, tired from his move and working so much, he still made some time to come out. Spiffy had a sore throat and felt ill with flu and I said have honey, have honey and we all worried about her getting home to rest. Lyrical Lemongrass had ferried me everywhere, gone to blogger's breakfasts and lunches with openminded aplomb, for she is a formidable writer and reader too. Here I was among them, drunk on cake and companionship." From Msiagirl: Let Me Eat Cake II

We had started the day together by being late for the Breakfast Club (true to my style), followed by lunch at Red Ginger (with Xeus, Eric and Spiffy), desserts at Just Heavenly Pleasures, Readings at Seksans, tea at Marmalade and finally dinner at Umai-ya. A lot of food was consumed, but that is how Malaysians are. Our lives are intertwined on food. When a special visitor announces his intention to visit, we immediately think of the best restaurant to entertain our friend. Get the food organised first, we say, and everything else falls into place.

nasi lemak prawn fritters sang har curry noodles

And that was how I first discover Red Ginger.

"I will take this day and store it in my jewel box." From Msiagirl: Kenny, Reads, Leaves

As I have.


Red Ginger Red Ginger

Elizabeth ChenI am glad for that first experience at Red Ginger, because it gave me a basis for comparison. Elizabeth Chen, the proprietor of Red Ginger, had invited several food bloggers to sample her menu at the recently opened outlet at Mid Valley North Point. I noticed that the menu was identical to the one at Plaza Damansara, but Elizabeth was quick to point out that she had just introduced several new dishes, not on the previous menu, which were to be enjoyed with rice.

stirfried beef chicken cooked in wine

The beef, stir-fried with black pepper, were cut into thin slices and quickly blanched in oil before being stirfried, thus retaining its juiciness. Being a fan of chinese herbal preparations, I enjoyed the steamed chicken cooked with wine, dates and wolfberry. Despite the saltiness of the sauce, I couldn't resist helping myself to several more pieces of chicken as I found that the flesh had fully absorbed the flavours of the ingredients, resulting in a natural sweetness of the flesh while still remaining firm to the touch.

pomelo salad
chicken lobak stuffed yau char koay

Of all the starters, I enjoyed the fruit rojak (RM7.80) the most. What made it special was the sauce which had the right amount of prawn paste and a very nice consistency. The dish also had a generous amount of chopped peanuts thrown in. The stuffed yau char kwai (chinese crullers) (RM5.50) was special. It contained an aromatic fish paste filling and was drizzled with mayonnaise. I found the chicken lobak (RM8.90) rather salty and was unable to enjoy more than one piece, while the pomelo salad (RM8.80) tossed with fried shallots, chopped peanuts and fried grated coconut was refreshing, albeit a little mild in flavour (probably lacking in sweetness?). The otak-otak (steamed fish paste in banana leaf) (RM9.50) made with dory fish was surprisingly firm in texture and very tasty too.

hor fun soup
curry noodles hor fun soup

One would think that at this point, Elizabeth would have stopped serving us, but as it turned out, we weren't even halfway through our meal yet. The generous lady brought out the mains next. My personal favourite was the Ipoh hor fun (RM13.80). The noodles were very smooth and complemented the soup stock, wonderful in its multitude of flavours. The laksa lemak (RM11.80) won top marks for the generous portion of cockles (and what is laksa without cockles anyway!), which still retained its juiciness (translated: bloodiness) despite being dunked into the hot curry. Some may find the curry a little too creamy (and it certainly was very thick), but I say, to each his own.

fried rice Sang har dry curry noodles

The Red Ginger fried rice (RM14.90) contained raisins and salted fish, and I can see how these two ingredients complemented the entire dish as the combination of sweet and salty and spicy came together very well. Eating the dry curry sang har noodles (RM23.90) was a treat. I had tried it before, and I can vouch that the taste is the same, whether or not one pays or gets the food for free! The fried koay teow (RM13.90) in Red Ginger is no ordinary fried koay teow. This one is fried kam heong style with a certain amount of spiciness together with curry leaves, bell peppers and bean sprouts.

kasturi pomelo drinkWe downed the food with lots of very refreshing, tangy kasturi pomelo (RM7.50) drinks.

Red Ginger (Mid Valley)
Block A, Mezzanine Floor, Northpoint Offices
Mid Valley City, KL

Tel: 03-2287 0890

Red Ginger (Plaza Damansara)
Medan Setia 2, Plaza Damansara
Bukit Damansara, KL

Tel: 03-2095 3118

Closed Sundays.