Thursday, 30 August 2012

Ipoh Chicken with Beansprout @ Ong Kee Restaurant, Ipoh

The Hari Raya holidays are here again and it's time for a short road-trip (and not to forget, contributing to the traffic jam).  This time, we're heading up north to Ipoh.

Any trip to Ipoh is never complete if you have not tried the famous chicken with beansprouts (芽菜雞), more commonly known as taugeh ayam.  So, it is definitely a must to visit Ong Kee Restaurant @ Ipoh for this popular dish.

Recommended as one of the best few serving chicken with beansprouts, the restaurant was already fully packed by dinner time.  Given that we had a very large group, we were pretty lucky that we didn't need to wait very long to get two large tables.

The chicken is cooked perfectly well and it is still very juicy & succulent.  It feels like it melts in your mouth.  Okay, I am exaggerating a bit, but it tasted very good that I can't help wanting more after each bite.  The soy sauce that accompanied the chicken is sweet and tasty - a perfect combination, without overwhelming the flavour of the chicken.  It would have tasted perfect if it was eaten with rice (which we didn't order since they ran out of the oil rice, of which after 10 mins, was re-stocked again, ish!).  The only setback is that I find it a bit too oily as they have drizzled a bit too much oil over the chicken.  Nevertheless, still good.

The beansprouts, on the hand hand, is very crunchy and given its chubby, short shape, I could stuff a spoonful of these beansprouts into my mouth with ease.  Very different from the usual beansprouts as this is more juicy and have a better texture.

Interestingly, no matter where you go, it seems like these two are always served - pork balls & fish balls.  Oh, I love the pork balls but what actually did caught my attention was the chicken soup they served in.  The soup is so flavourful.  Words can't really describe how nice & tasty it is.  It is as though they have used hundreds of chicken to boil down to this one bowl of hot-piping soup.  Plus, I can confirm that no MSG has come into the picture.  It is the best.

Not too forget is the Ipoh Sar Hor-fun (怡保沙河粉).  The flat rice noodle is also served in the same chicken soup.  A good soup will bring out the best of any noodle and this is no exception.  I love the noodles as they are not too oily and very translucent.

The whole package was a to-die-for experience.  Such simple dishes, yet so heavenly.

Being the first time visiting Ipoh, I really had no idea initially why there is this big fuss over Ipoh's chicken rice. Come on, a chicken rice is just chicken rice, and you can find it almost everywhere, so what's so special?  But after experiencing it myself, it totally changed my perception.  This chicken rice is really good - so good that you will want more of it.  Too bad I need almost 2 hours drive to get hold of this wonderful meal.  So, looks like I will need to dream about it first until the next trip up to Ipoh.

(You won't miss it, it is just diagonally across Lou Wong Restaurant.  If you want an air-conditioned dining experience, then just head to Lou Wong's neighbour, Onn Kee Restaurant.  Both Ong Kee & Onn Kee are owned by the same owner but the latter is a more-newly opened branch)

Ong Kee Restaurant
Jalan Yau Tet Sin,
30300 Ipoh, Perak

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Black Tea Roses Mooncake @ Purple Cane

It's that time of the year again where mooncakes are now seen almost everywhere, where bakeries and restaurants have already filled their shelves with this traditional delicacy.  This sweet pastry is a must at every Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节), or commonly known as the Mooncake festival.

Purple Cane, a popular tea house in Malaysia, offers a range of tea-infused mooncakes.  As this is something new to us, we decided to try one before actually buying a whole lot.  As recommended by the saleslady, we bought the Black Tea Rose Lotus Paste Mooncake (RM 8.70).

The pastry crust of the mooncake was added with ground black tea leaves while the lotus paste is infused with fragrant rose petals.  As you slowly sample the mooncake, you can savour the delicate and flavourful lotus paste.  The fragrance of the rose is not too strong until it overwhelms the lotus paste.  My parents really loved it, and so did we.

Purple Cane's tea mooncake is very suitable for those who are health-concious as it is not too sweet and not oily.  Add a pot of freshly brewed tea and it will be a perfect match.

A very unique thing about Purple Cane's mooncake is the way the mooncake is packaged.  Packed in a plastic, microvable container, the packaging is very cute.  It is very convenient, and definitely a good, hygienic way to store any leftovers (which I doubt there will be any) without having to scramble around to search for one.

The only setback is that the mooncake is a bit tiny than usual.  Weighing only 100g, you'll most likely able to make 6 slices only.

But despite that, I still prefer Purple Cane's mooncake given the quality that it offers.  As this is a once a year affair, why not just splurge a little bit for your loved ones to enjoy this healthier delicacy while slowly sipping hot tea under the full moon.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Italian Tiramisu @ Spaghetti Sweet Tea Cafe, Ipoh

If you were trying to look for this Italian restaurant, it will definitely be quite a challenge.  With no clear signage, you will need a very good eyesight to spot the small signage bearing the SSTC - the short name for Spaghetti Sweet Tea Cafe @ Ipoh.

We came here (highly recommended by our friend cum "tour-guide") for the Italian Tiramisu (RM 18), SSTC's signature.  This "pick-me-up" espresso-based dessert was definitely not a let-down because it actually tasted different, not your usual tiramisu.  It had kept to the tradition whereby the ladyfingers (sweet sponge cakes) were soaked in espresso and layered with mascarpone cheese, topped generously with cocoa powder.

However, I find the tiramisu slightly lacking the intensity of the espresso, and for a coffee dessert, this is a bit disappointing.  Luckily, the mascarpone cheese manage to save the dessert.  I love the mascarpone cheese - light and fluffy - truly the star ingredient of this dessert.  It is also not to sweet, a lovely dessert.

While the tiramisu is nice, but if you ask me, for that price, I felt it was a bit on the high side, especially for Ipoh's standard.  Given that they used imported ingredients to make this tiramisu, maybe it is justified.  You will need to try it for yourself to judge if it is worth it or not.

But despite that, they do serve a nice range of drinks.  The one that caught my attention on the drinks menu is the hot Wild Berries tea from Naturalis.  We first came across Naturalis Wild Berry tea at one of the restaurants in Citta Mall, Ara Damansara, and ever since then, both KS and I are hooked to this fruity berry tea.  Never thought we can find this lovely beverage all the way in Ipoh.  A perfect beverage to end the sweet experience at SSTC.

Spaghetti Sweet Tea Cafe
19A, Jalan Medan Ipoh 1E
Medan Ipoh Bistari
31400 Ipoh
Tel: 05-5488832

Sunday, 12 August 2012

DIY: Home-made Blueberry Ice Cream (Philadelphia-style)

Philadelphia-style or American-style ice cream is an egg-free ice cream.  As no cooking is actually required, this style is more foolproof as it calls for lesser and simpler steps, unlike the custard-based ice cream which required handling of eggs.  Having a lighter texture and a more delicate flavour, this eggless ice cream is highly recommended for fruity flavours.


Home-made Blueberry Ice Cream (Philadelphia-style)
Makes about 1 litre

400ml heavy cream (commonly known as whipping cream)
200ml milk
1 tsp of vanilla extract
125g blueberries
10ml lemon juice
150g brown sugar

1.  Combine the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl.  Mash the blueberries with a fork until it is well-combined to get a heavenly syrup.

2.  In another bigger bowl, combine the heavy cream and milk.  I added some of the bigger chunks of the blueberries (especially the skin) into the milk mixture and using the hand-blender, I blended it until smooth (and at the same time, incorporate air into the mixture).

3.  Then, combine the remaining blueberries mixture and mix well.

4.  Place the ice cream mixture into the refrigerator to chill for a few hours.  Note this is a very important step because if the mixture is not cold enough, it wouldn't churn very well.  (This was where my mistake was).

5.  Once you're pretty comfortable that the mixture is cold enough, pour it into the ice cream maker.

6.  Process it according to the manufacturer's instructions, which may take approximately 30 minutes to churn.  The end product will look like a soft-serve ice cream.  But even if it turns out watery/softer than expected, don't worry.  It doesn't mean that it is a failure.

7.  Scoop the ice cream into a freezer-safe container (or any recycled ice cream container) and pop it into the freezer for at least 2-3 hours and it should harden perfectly.

8.  Before serving, let it thaw for a few minutes so that it is easier to scoop it.


This simple ice cream is very easy to make.  Being the very first attempt at making ice cream and having some setbacks here and there, I am very pleased with the results.  Although it turned out slightly icy, but the creamy, milky texture is there.  It tasted light and the blueberries shined perfectly nice (the lemon juice did a good job to bring out the fruitiness).

And the satisfying part is, after the second day, the 1-litre ice cream is finished :)

Time to plan the next ice cream!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Korean Food @ The Street Cafe, Sunway Pyramid

Tuck deep inside the Asian Avenue, Sunway Pyramid, you can find a very nice casual cafe serving yummy-licious Korean street food - The Street Cafe.

Okay, I know it has been there for a very long time and it did took me quite a while to actually bring myself to try a meal here.  Seriously, I'm truly missing out so much because the food here is really nice!  I can't believe it took me so long.

Their tagline "The Best Korean Street Food" is definitely no lie, at least in my opinion.

Korean food.  When this first come into my mind, I'll definitely say Korean BBQ or maybe its more famous dish, kimchi.  Of course, there are the other more commonly seen dishes like bulgogi and japchae.  But the menu has always been focusing on the BBQ dishes.

So, when I opened The Street Cafe's menu (KS & I were still deliberating whether we should u-turn back to the earlier cafes until we stopped here), I was quickly hooked to it.  There's so many types of dishes on the menu, and it was so colourful.  It just made me wanna sit down and continue reading the menu.

They serve a variety of dishes - bibimbap, ramyun, lunch box (this is really cute, served in real lunch boxes), toboki, raboki, buchingae and the list goes on.  If you're feeling hungry, you can order the Combo Sets, which looks pretty huge, with a main dish served with either a kimchi soup or kimbab.

As the names were a bit quite unfamiliar to us and there were too many to choose from, we decided to stick to the "Highly Recommended" and "Must Try!" indicators on the menu.

Jajangmyeon (RM12.90) tagged with "Highly Recommended".

Now, if you have watched enough Korean dramas, you would noticed this dish often being mentioned.  To be honest, I have never come across one and had no idea how it looked like or tasted.  To me, Jajangmyeon sounded very close to the Chinese ZhaJiangmian (炸酱面) and suspected it may actually be the same thing.

Well, in fact, the Korean version is really an adaption of the Chinese dish, introduced into Korea by the Chinese migrant.  In a way, it is very similar but then again, it is also very different.  The key ingredient that makes it different is the base of the sauce.  In the Chinese version, yellow soybean paste is used for the sauce but in the Korean version, black bean soy paste is used instead.

If you like food that are on the sweeter side, you'll like this dish as it does taste a bit like honey BBQ sauce or maybe the Japanese curry.  Served with pieces of grilled chicken (which tasted very like teriyaki chicken), shredded vegetables, sweetcorn kernels and cubed carrots,  the thick wheat noodles are covered with thick and dark sauce, that makes you feel like slurping the noodles like spaghetti.  It may not look very appealing, but it does taste nice.

Kimchi Buchimgae (RM 13.90) tagged with "Must Try!".

This Korean-style pizza, or more commonly known as Korean pancake, is so beautifully laid out, with a lot of spicy kimchi spread all over it.  Similar to a regular-sized pizza, it had a lot of toppings and the texture of the pancake gave that lovely gooey texture, just as though there was cheese.

I do admit it is slightly oily, but the flavour is tremendously good.  The spicy kimchi that have been used is very flavourful and gave just enough taste for the pancake.  The base of the pancake, on the other hand, had just the right level of thickness - thick enough to feel the pancake, thin enough to make you feel like having more.  It tasted so good that you don't even need the dipping sauce.  As an in-between snack, this would be a perfect treat.  I would definitely come back for the buchimgae again.

They always say the best indicator of whether the place is whipping up nice dishes is to see the level of crowd relatively to its neighbours.  Well, for The Street Cafe, that is really true!

The Street Cafe
Lot 197 Asian Avenue
First Floor
Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall
Petaling Jaya

Saturday, 4 August 2012

DIY: Quick Salad with Stone-Ground Mustard Dressing

Salad is a very inexpensive feel-good meal if you made it on your own.  Because there is no standard rule, you can mix-and-match whatever that goes into your salad - cold salad or warm salad, vegetables salad or fruit salad, with rice/pasta or without - the choice is limitless.

After watching too many TV cooking programs, I just felt like making my own salad for lunch, from scratch (too many theories, but no actual practical experience).


Quick Salad with Stone-Ground Mustard Dressing

Lettuce - Any variety.  I have used red sails lettuce
Cherry tomatoes - Love those crunchiness & sourness.  Felt like grapes.

Organic stone-grounded mustard
Or any other varities of mustard.  I chose stone grounded as I prefer the texture of the coarse mustard, giving a bit more spiciness.
There's a variety of vinegar you can use - distilled vinegar, apple cider, champagne vinegar.  Or, if you prefer natural fruitiness instead, you can replace with any accidic fruits like lemon, lime, orange etc.  I didn't add any since the mustard already has added vinegar in it.
Sesame oil
Olive oil was omitted as I didn't have them ready at home.  But according to a study, since you need to have some oil in order for efficient absorption of the nutrients from the greens, I had replaced it with some sesame oil - a little touch of Chinese taste.
Brown sugar/honey - Just to balance out the acidity
Salt & black pepper to taste
Water - Add according to how watery you like your dressing

Sunflower seeds, toasted with some salt & sugar for taste

All these are prepared well in advance, placing the salad in different containers with the dressing kept in separate tightly-lid containers.  When it's time to eat, you can add more ingredients to go along with your salad for some protein.  Possible suggestions:
>  A hard-boiled egg
>  Thinly sliced omellette (pan-fried without oil, obviously)
>  Cooked meat, shredded (left-overs from previous meal - no more worries of food wastage)

They taste superb!  This is my first time actually making my own salad from scratch (because I was lazy enough previously to buy read-made dressings from the supermarket aisle), and it have given me the confidence to add more of this to my diet.

A good way to introduce more greens to your diet in a more fun & interesting way.


If you want to be very health-concious, I strongly advise to stay away from ready-made dressings.

To make them easily accepted by the general market, these dressings are usually loaded with a lot of fat, sugar & salt.  Even if it claims to be "99% fat free", do not be fooled because for some components to be removed from the equation, they will need to be replaced with other (possibly more unhealthy) ingredients & chemicals.

But if you have no choice & insist on ready-made dressings, then do make a habit to go through the labels first before dropping it into your shopping basket.  As advised by Michael Pollan (author of the best-seller In Defense of Food), if you can't pronounce the ingredients or do not know what it is, very likely those are chemically-induced ingredients and it is advisable to stay away from these.  Why buy something that you don't what they have put in.

Another plus-point of self-made dressing is that you have full control of what you add to/minus from your dressing and personlize it to your liking.  The very same dressing can be transformed to a whole new level by just slightly tweeking the recipe.  Isn't that fun?

Friday, 3 August 2012

Pork Noodles @ Jalan Mesu

Please click here to read more about the review of this stall

As I am cutting down on the more unhealthy food (which means no curry noodles for anytime to soon), I ordered the pork noodles.

While this bowl of pork noodles may not have anything extraordinary to boast about, I love their pork balls - huge & meaty!  The soup, on the other hand, does not have any pork taste, so it does not make it a real pork noodles - it tasted more like ikan bilis soup.  Nevertheless, the soup is still nice & light, topped with fragrant sesame oil.

Breakfast @ T-Break

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day since a nice,satisfying breakfast will bring you a-feel-good feeling for the rest of the day.  Never underestimate the power of good, proper breakfast.

Today, I decided to treat myself to a nice breakfast @ T-Break Cafe, Wisma Antarabangsa since it is the end of the working week (Hooray!  Weekends are here at last!).  On days when I managed to reach KL earlier, I would definitely come here for my first meal of the day.

GIven that I am not very hungry, I decided to go for the Half-boiled Eggs with Panini Toast Breakfast Set (RM 5.50) accompanied by a cup freshly-brewed coffee (or an alternate choice - Twinnings English Breakfast tea).  If you felt that black coffee/English Breakast tea is not your cup of tea, then you can opt to upgrade to other coffee beverages at a charge.

It is such a simple yet complete, satisfying meal.  The bread, either soaked in the egg or spread with butter and jam, is just so nice.  The strawberry jam can be substituted for pandan kaya, which I find it quite nice - the level of sweetness & consistency is just right.

If I was not rushing to clock in, I would have sat down longer to enjoy my cup of coffee & munch on the buttery almond-shortbread cookie.  I always look forward to the cookies that they serve together with the coffee/tea - love the fragance of the butter.

They serve a variety of breakfast sets - from a light set to a complete Big Breakfast set, from local breakfast to Western breakfast.

Another breakfast set, Egg on Toast (RM 5.50) - scrambled eggs served with Panini Toast.

T-Break Cafe
Kompleks Antarabangsa,
Lot G22, Ground Floor,
Jalan Sultan Ismail,
50250 Kuala Lumpur.
(only open on working weekdays from 7.30am)