Monday, November 27, 2006

Restoran Ketam Steamboat Seafood

Whoops.. I am soo very sorry. I have such serious deadlines that I could not even spare some time during meals to write about my favourite topic. But alas.. a breather. And what would I like to share? Steamboat!
I am sure you've seen it somewhere (ie Hong Kong triad gang movie? No?). But the way people of different culture and family upbringing would result in differring methods of enjoying this meal. I have seen "gwei lou" (caucasions lah*) throwing everything into the boiling soup including noodles, eggs and all. Er... My sister suggest you eat instant noodles better than wasting the wonders of steamboat. I have also seen some families that throw in the noodles first, and eat the meat and veges later (kinda spoils the soup, don't you think?). Anyway, I am not teaching you how to eat, just sharing my thoughts about how people eat. But let's talk about Restoran Ketam Steamboat Seafood.

Malay-English Translation
Restoran - Restaurant
Ketam - Crab

Location: Bukit Menjalara, Kepong, Selangor
Food rating: Good!

Now, first of all.. Do not be mistaken that you boil crab in the steamboat. You can do that, but it is very difficult to eat it while it is piping hot from the pot. Ketam here refers to a place called Pulau Ketam, which is an island well known for its fishing village and seeaaaffooooddd.
That aside, steamboat alone cannot attract customers. You will need sauce. Specifically, chilli sauce. Good chilli sauce enhance the steamboat experience. Close your eyes and try imagine this. You are at a very cold place. Your hands and body are cold. Then there is this hot pot with soup and all sorts of vege and meat. You pick one up (probably a thin slice of beef that is just cooked perfectly) and you dip it into the creamy aromatic sauce and slurp them all in, meat and sauce and let the aroma weld up in your mouth. Oh heaven!
Anyway, back to this steamboat thingy, the concept is quite similar to fondue. But instead of thick sauce like chocolate or cheese, we have clear soup as base. And in Hong Kong it is usually clear soup and Taiwan/China you may have "ma la" which literally means numbing spicy. We have everything here in Malaysia. We have clear soup, herbal soup, tom yum (thai spicy soup), "ma la", and evern creamy satay sauce (which they call "celup"). This restoran ketam offers you clear or tom yum soup, you can have both (half soup and half tom yum separated like the photo above.
If you have good chilli sauce like this shop does is usually good enough, but if you coupled that with good soup, then the steamboat will be superb. Unfortunately it is kinda difficult to find such great combination. Some shop do not even have that both. For this Restoran Ketam, the sauce is really fragrant and spicy. Though the soup is just ok, the sauce help make up the rest.
The veges and meats given is also fresh, but I still prefer more fresh meats than process emats like this restaurant does. But overall it is fairly good ler...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Red Hot Curry Noodles - Kedai Makan Chuan Fatt

Spicy! Some say a must in their meals, some say never in their lifetime and some say love it but can't live with it. It can either be a love or hate relationship, or it can be love+hate relationship. I am featuring one famous dish that can be spicy, mildly spicy or extremly spicy - curry mee/noodles!
Curry was introduced by Indians meaning spiced gravy. But I remember reading somewhere that the English claimed the word "curry" came from them. ("Yeah sure, in actual fact, the pyramids were built by the English too. Don't you know that? You poor soul, so lost!") Well, whatever it is, I thank the inventor of curries, because without them, we won't be able to experience such complicated relationship other than "love" :P
Anyway, curry mee in Malaysia has so many different variation that I can't seem to determine which is the best. They are all my favourites! But of course, I think best curry mee is from Ipoh. Amongst the different variation of curry mee (we have coconut milk curry with chicken and "Tau Hu Pok" - KL style; or curry minus the milk with "Char Siew", "Siew Yok" and prawns - one of Ipoh style, or dry curry with "Char Siew" & chicken - two of Ipoh style; or coconut milk curry with prawns, "sotong", "kerang" and "Huik" - Penang style, etc etc etc) this is one that I suggest you don't miss if you like spicy and fried chicken.

Malay-English Translation
Sotong - Squid (yellowish type, not calamari)
Kerang - Cockles
Kedai - Shop
Makan - Eat/Eatery

Cantonese-English Translation
Tau Fu Pok - Fried beancurd with hollow fillings (Hokkien called it Tau Hu Pok)
Char Siew - sweet bbq pork (literally forked/skewered burn/bbq)
Siew Yok - crispy skinned bbq pork (literally burn/bbq meat)

Hokkien-English Translation
Huik - Blood hardened to jelly like (not my cup of blood, if u know what I mean)

Location : Pasir Puteh, Ipoh, Perak.
Food rating : Nyum X 2!

This shop is another evolution of Hainanese coffee shop in Ipoh. They have been operating this curry mee joint since the past 3 generations (at least), and we are the 2nd generation still loyally going back for more everytime we are in Ipoh. What do they offer? Curry mee (the coconut milk type, but more spicy than usual) whether in soup or dry (mix of dark & light soy sauce and little bit of curry), with accompaniments of fragrantly fried chicken/pork. In actual fact, they also have sourish dry curry chicken as accompaniments, but I still like the fried chicken the best.

This round, I ordered dry curry "Lou Shee Fun" (short-translucent rice noodles). The best part about this is that, even the dry curry is spicy and fragrant. It is not like those you find in other places. The noodles itself is nothing special. For this shop, it is simply the curry. They belong to thick coconut milk curry (but spicier version).
And another thing, I find soaking the fried chicken with the curry gravy is...heavenly! Try it.

Note: Nyum Nyum is just my way of saying tasty

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Restoran Ful Lai [Dim Sum Shop]

Hello, hello! Like the new look? It is not something original though, I have yet to learn how to create my own web page, so for the time being, hope this new look will suffice.

Ahh.. Let's talk about Dim Sum today. Dim Sum (點心 pinyin dĭan xīn - literally, "touch the heart", "dotted heart", or "to order to one's heart's content") are little snacks for chinese. They are usually served in delicate portion where you can pop the whole piece of snack at one shot. Each dish usually serve 3-4 pieces. For greedy people like me, I usually ordered till my table is full

Many many sources have revealed that Dim Sum evolved from teahouses' snacks that were used to position along the Silk Road. Initially only tea and "Pau" or "Man Thou" (both meant steamed bun) were served to business travellers that stopped by for rest, but as economical and cultural borders dissolved, Dim Sum transcended all boundaries and mushroomed all over the world today. Dim Sum nowadays has sooo... many types that if I were to list down all of them, then this blog will never be published (which is one of the reason that this blog is late, would you believe me? hehe..). But as I review Dim Sum in Malaysia, I will reveal to you as much variety as I could taste on. Let's start with the basics this round.

Location: Bukit Menjalara, Kepong, KL
Food rating : Nyum nyum (good)

The few basics that all Dim Sum shops should have is "Char Siew Pau", "Lo Mai Kai", "Chee Cheong Fun", "Har Gau", "Siew Mai" and "Yu Dan". Ok ok, no worries, the Cantonese-English translation is right below:
Char Siew Pau - Steamed bun with BBQ pork filling
Lo Mai Gai - Steamed glutinous rice with chicken
Chee Cheong Fun - Steamed rice noodles with a choice of prawn or char siew filling
Har Gau - Steamed prawn wrapped in translucent rice-flour skin
Siew Mai - Steamed pork+prawn wrapped in wan ton skin
Yu Dan - Steamed fishball

Wherever I go, I never missed any of these. But it is not easy to find a good Dim Sum restaurant that could serve all the above as evenly tasty. They are either good at Char Siew Pau (like the one in Jalan Ipoh) or some other specific menu. So far, this is the only shop I think offers all treats as good as one another.
I never like Char Siew Pau with thick skin and little filling, as they are too dry and tend to get stuck at my throat. This shop offers balanced skin and filling, and the BBQ pork is very fragrant with 5 spice powder, that is not over-powering.

A lot of Lo Mai Gai in KL is mass-produced, hence they tend to lose freshness when consumed. I believe this shop prepares its own Lo Mai Gai because you can tell if it is fresh, as the glutinous rice is not too soft or too sticky. And again, the spices in this dish is not over-powering with Shao Xing wine.

Har Gau & Siew Mai in KL is really miserable until I found this shop. The usual fair are mostly stuffed with pork (cheaper) or small prawns (again, cheaper), whereas this shop served them in larger prawns that are fairly fresh. Another reason why most shops replace prawns with pork is because you can easily tell a prawn's Dim Sum is fresh or not. I applaud this shop for its chivalrous attempt. (It sounded serious, right? But it is not easy to do what they do.)

The Chee Cheong Fun is ok. Though the rice noodles are a bit too soft, the filling is generous. And the Yu Dan is not too soft or too bouncy (which might mean too much Salicyclic Acid that is harmful to human) or smell too fishy (which might mean not fresh or low quality fish used).
So if you are like me, longing to find some good Dim Sum in KL, this place is recommendable.

By the way, Dim Sum always goes with Chinese Tea. It helps to relief our stomach after we torture it with plates after plates of Dim Sum. And if you sometimes wonder why the elders tend to knock on the table when you pour them a cup of tea, it is not because they are ordering you to pour the tea, but they are thanking you in casual manner. This goes back to Qing Dynasty in the olden China where Qian Long (a Chinese Emperor) went for a secret excursion. This is not usual in the olden days as emperors do not leave their palace. The emperor poured tea for his subordinates (which was an honour) and the subordinates could not kneel down to express their gratitude to the emperor (it is a secret journey, remember?). So what the subordinates did was to bend both the 2nd and third finger and knock on the table to signify their gratitude to the emperor. It became a culture to thank your host when they pour the tea for you until today.
Right... I shall spice things up a bit in the next blog. See you then!