Monday, January 26, 2015

Gyukingu Japanese BBQ

It was cousin Chew's birthday and he asked us out for dinner. Rightfully we should had treated the birthday boy to the meal. But he was the host instead, the reason being we had no idea that it was his day.  He asked us out and we gladly went along.

The place he took us to was a Japanese BBQ restaurant in Kota Damansara. Known as Gyukingu (牛大王 or Beef King), it is located on the first floor above the Al Rajhi Bank on Jalan PJU 5/17.

They have a bull head for their identity. It was Christmas season (last December) and the happy bespectacled bull wore a red cap. I wonder why restaurants use such motifs as they their trademarks - smiling bull and elated chicken - when they are the ones being eaten!

Inside, the restaurant belied its small insignificant entrance. It was a large place, nicely furnished with tables, cubicles and private dining rooms.

And a large, well stocked bar.

We were led to a private room. It was dining tatami style. sitting on the floor. Thankfully they had a recess under the table and was not so taxing on our old stiff legs. The room was small and windowless, and the walls and ceiling were painted black. Fortunately we had good company and conversations to distract us from the surrounding. Otherwise it was like sitting in a prison cell and could be very stifling and claustrophobic.

We had to remove our shoes before we enter our room. And when I came out to relieve myself, I could not find them (they apparently kept them in a hidden rack) and I had to tread barefooted to the loo.

The menu was tantalising.

This Christmas offer that included Wagyu beef, Okinawa bacon and a bottle of red wine for 4 to 6 persons was very reasonably priced at just RM388++.

While cousin Chew selected the meats, we waited for the wine to breathe.

His choice was breathtaking. There was a variety of seasoned beef...

And marinated pork..

Grilled over a coal fire...

And eaten with fresh salads.

Thoroughly delicious.

The Wagyu beef deserved a special mention. It was exceptional. I could see why it was so prized. It was so tender and succulent, almost melting in the mouth.

We had some fresh scallops too.

Carefully grilling them to ensure they are not overdone.

Besides the self-grills, we also had some side dishes. Like this good size squid. It was done by the chef and was so fresh and succulent. Very good indeed.

Bowls or garlic fried rice and miso soup for each of us.

And even some Korean fare - bibimbap and kimchi.

Dessert was sesame ice cream which to me was rather unusual in flavour. I really do not think sesame is a good ingredient for ice cream.

I preferred the yuzu (a Japanese sour citrus) sherbert.

It was an awesome meal. Cousin Chew's dinners have always been elaborate affairs. This certainly was no exception. Happy birthday again, Chew.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Pepper Pork Chop

It's been quite a while since I last featured a recipe in my blog. Today I share with you on how to do an awesome pepper pork chop.

We start with some nice pork steaks. I think best part of the pig for chops is the shoulder. The pork shoulder steaks pictured below were from Jaya Grocer (non-halal section). They were fresh, nicely cut and reasonably priced.

First, we brine the meat. Brining is soaking the meat in salt water. It is an important process in my recipe and unless we do it properly, the chops will not turn out as juicy and delicious. We prepare the brine solution with 3 tablespoons of salt in 3 cups of water. You can use any kind of salt - cooking salt, table salt or coarse sea salt. Immerse the meat in the salt water and keep it in the fridge for about 4 hours. It is important to keep the meat refrigerated during the entire brining process.

At the end of the 4 hours, remove the meat from the brine. After the brining, the meat is redder in colour and firmer in texture.

Do not wash the meat. Sprinkle ground black pepper on both sides of the meat. Then return the meat  into the fridge for another hour. This seasons the meat and allows it to dry.

After an hour, the meat is ready to cook. Pre-heat the oven to a temperature of 200 degrees Celsius.

In the mean time, heat up a wok or pan at medium flame. Put in a scoop of butter.

Lightly fry the meat in butter for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Until it is like so.

The meat is then cooked in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

The outcome is a gorgeous juicy chop.

This is a bottle of peppercorn sauce that Alan bought for me from Australia. It is fabulous and suitable for all kinds of meats and fish. We probably won't find it in Malaysia. You could use any other black pepper sauce to your liking.

We have the chops with some salads and fries. My wife loved the meal. It was the first time I had seen her finish such a big piece of meat.

The "secret" in this recipe is the brining. It provides the necessary moisture to the meat to make it juicy and succulent. The salt made it so flavourful, yet not the least salty. The recipe is simple and the reward is absolutely delicious. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Yun Lai Huat Dim Sum

Niu Ze Xui (牛車水) or NZX is a failed shopping mall in Ara Damansara. It started with a bang 3 to 4 years ago, but it fizzled out. As it was very near to where we live, my wife and I used to frequent the place. The problem with this mall was that it was not air-conditioned. It could be quite warm and stuffy there. Malaysians love air-con and perhaps that was one reason why this mall did not make it.

Today the mall is in a sorry state. The walkways are empty. The shops are empty. Some areas are starting to show signs of neglect and rot.

Surrounding the mall are many shops and offices. Many of them thrive in spite of the gloom inside. In fact it is often difficult to find a place to park. There is an basement parking. But it is shady and they charge RM2 per entry. People avoid it.

One of the shops that thrive is a dim sum restaurant - Yun Lai Huat. It really is not a great place. But dim sum is a popular food. And being the only one in Ara Damansara, it appeared to do a reasonably good business.

We have eaten there a number of times. And each time, it was a crowd.

Their tables spill to the five foot way and into the empty mall.

Their dim sum selection is not fantastic. The usual stuffs - nothing out of the ordinary. Prices are not that cheap - comparable to other more established dim sum restaurants.

I was quite pissed off once. I asked a waiter for refill of water for our tea. He very rudely and loudly told me to do it myself, pointing to a hot water boiler nearby. Later I told off the boss. He did not apologise and gave me the excuse on the shortage of workers, and that his workers would refill if they were free. I had to tell him that his man was standing idle when I requested for the refill.

Now to the food. The dim sum were not extraordinary. Quality was mediocre and the flavour, so so. One notch below places like Jin Xuan Hong Kong in PJ Uptown.

The porridge was too thick and mushy.

They serve noodles as well. Perhaps the saving grace. The texture of the noodles was nicely al dente.

Yun Lai Huat is perhaps living proof that a successful restaurant need not necessarily have the best food and the best service. It perhaps has a lot to do in being at the right place selling the food that people want. That actually had been the reason that we had repeatedly gone back to the place in spite of the mediocre food quality and tea refill fiasco. We balked at the thought of driving all the way to Jin Xuan in Uptown PJ, and having to hunt for a parking space or to wait in queue for a table.