Sunday, December 14, 2014

Oriental Pavilion Revisited

The last time I dined at the Oriental Pavilion in Jaya 33, was at a wedding more than 3 years ago. Since then the couple have probably become parents and I had not returned. Until about a couple of months back - for a birthday celebration.

I looked forward to going there again. I knew we were in for a sumptuous meal. And we was not disappointed.

The place had not changed very much. The decor and furnishings were the same. It was still a very nice up-market Chinese restaurant. We were a party of about 20 people and had 2 tables booked into a private room. It was very conducive for pre dinner chats and socialising.

The tables were set for fine dining. It was very elegant.

Most Chinese restaurants offer peanuts for pre-meal munch. This place provided sambal long beans. They were delicious.

The appetisers were individually served and gracefully presented. The first of the hors d'oeuvre was a braised scallop in a mayo sauce with trims of salad and fried lotus root. In the middle was a succulent shrimp in a mango dip. On the right was half a soft shell crab deep fried in a batter. All three were exquisitely delicious. I took my time to savour them.

The soup was also individually served. It was uniquely and ingeniously presented in teapots. It was a chicken soup with fish maw, conpoy (dried scallop - 乾瑤柱) and other goodies. We had the soup in teacups. It suited me well because I prefer slurping soup from a bowl (or cup in this case) instead of a spoon. It was piping hot and so very tasty.

I do not know what they call this dish. It was a deep fried chicken topped with a mixture of deep fried minced crisps. I cannot tell what was in the mixture, but it tasted very nice with the chicken.

The grilled pork rib was succulent and tender, done with a caramelised soya sauce. It was marvellously prepared.

The cod fish was very fresh. It was pan fried with teriyaki sauce with an orange flavour, accompanied with some diced fresh shallots. The generous portion of the fish was presented in a large bamboo leave inside an orange dug-out. It was superb. I have never tasted a fish prepared in this manner. Such innovation.

The highlight of the meal was this abalone plate. Each diner was served with a mid size abalone. In the dish were also broccoli and mushroom, and soya skin wraps. In the wraps was a mixture of lotus seed, water chestnut, carrot, herbs and other goodies. The whole dish was a treat. Without doubt, it was the abalone I relished most.

In the Chinese tradition, noodles signify longevity and is normally served during birthday meals. This noodle was very nice but in the midst of so many wonderful dishes, it was quite ordinary.

This cheese sponge cake was made by our cousin Fong. I had always enjoyed her fluffy cheese cake. I particularly like the semi burnt cheese at the top of it.

I believe she also made this delicious cendol jelly - complete with gula melaka and santan.

Together with bowls of red bean broth, dessert was complete.

Oriental Pavilion - nice place, awesome food and prices to match.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Onde Onde

The onde onde is a popular Malaysian kueh that takes the form of bite-size pandan balls with brown sugar (gula melaka) inside and shredded coconut on the outside. It is a delightful snack. A bite on one produces a sweet squirt of gula melaka into the mouth and the coconut makes it a really delicious treat indeed.

This makan place in the Citta Mall adopts it as its name to reflect its Malaysian flavours.

Located on the ground floor of the mall in Ara Damansara, P.J. it is essentially an open restaurant serving breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

We first patronised the place several months ago when it had just started business. It was quite small and quiet then. 

And then its popularity picked up. They added more tables and their dining area expanded. But it apparently was not quite enough. We wanted to have dinner there after a movie at the mall one evening. We had to turn away because of a long queue waiting for vacant tables.

Now, let's have a look at some of their fares. First, the nasi lemak. I guess this all time favourite is a must in any Malaysian restaurant worth its salt. The nasi lemak here was delicious and complete - coconut flavoured rice, sambal, peanuts and ikan bilis, rembah deep fried chicken thigh, hard boiled egg, some salad and some crispy keropok.

Mee siam is another popular Malaysian dish. The fried mee-hoon was deliciously done and was served with a nice curry chicken.

This was another version of mee siam, with a variety of condiments - shredded chicken, omelet strips, peanuts, shredded cucumber, carrot, onion, pineapple and a couple of shrimps. When the condiments were mixed and tossed with the mee-hoon, it turned out to be a credible meal.

The mee curry was somewhat lacking. The curry just did not have the oomph.

This rather confused looking dish was char koay teow with duck egg. It certainly did not look very appetising. But the flavour was not bad at all. Not quite the Penang standard but better than a lot of char okay teows that I have had in the Klang valley.

The fruit rojak was not bad too. The sauce was good. The ground peanut sprinkling was adequate. I particularly like the keropok they had included. It made the rojak a lot more interesting.

This is a different kind of rojak - the pasembur. I had wanted to try it on our first 2 visits to the restaurant. But we were apparently too early. They only start preparing the pasembur around lunch time. When I finally got to eat it, I was disappointed. The all important deep fried stuffs in the pasembur were not up to standard. They were soft and soggy - not at all crunchy that they should be. Also they shredded the cucumber and sengkuang (jicama) too thinly. The sauce was okay, in fact quite good. It was the main ingredients that were disappointing.

They serve a variety of kuih muih. Their onde onde pictured above definitely lived up to the name of the restaurant.

And yes, roti kaya too. Prepared in the traditional coffee shop way.

They have a lot of other Malaysian favourites - laksa, Ipoh sar hor fun, hokkein prawn noodles, fish ball noodles, satay, ice kacang and so on and so on.

Onde onde is not the place for Malaysian holy grails. Some of the dishes we tasted were good. Some were mediocre. And some like the pasembur were disappointing. But their variety was impressive. It certainly is worth a visit.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Chicken Cuisine Noodle House

In most coffee shops we find a main proprietor running the shop, selling coffee, tea and other beverages. He/she rents out space in his shop to various food stalls and the combination provide a good selection of makan makan. The coffee shop I feature today has the same set up, with one difference. All the stalls in this coffee shop belong to the shop boss. None of the stalls is rented out.

Chicken Cuisine Noodle House is an unique coffee shop, not only in name but also in its set up. It is owned by this gentleman and his wife, assisted by a large team of Burmese workers. His chatty and friendly wife who was rather camera shy and refused to be photographed, told me she did not even know how workers they had. The workers are everywhere. There is no differentiation of work as every food stall belong to the same boss. And I could see the workers were all very busy, hardworking and knew exactly what to do.

My wife and I frequent this place for breakfasts. It is quite a big coffee shop, occupying 3 shop lots on Jalan Pekedai U1/36 in the Hicom-Glenmarie Industrial Park of Shah Alam.

The variety of food they serve is amazing, considering that they are all prepared by the boss and his wife. Of course they have workers. But these foreign workers don't just churn out the food. They need to be taught and supervised.

They have the so-called "chup fun" (杂饭 or mixed rice) with a good selection of meats, vegetables and everything.

The ever popular chicken rice.

This is their nasi lemak stall, which also serve mee siam with delicious selection of chicken, prawn, squid, pork and other good stuffs.

Wanton noodles (雲吞麵) and Hakka noodles (客家麵). The Hakka noodles came with selection of meat balls in a soup.

Pork noodles, pan mee (板麺), yee mee (伊麺) mee suah (麺线)...

The curry mee here is really very good. The curry is rich but not too much santan (coconut milk).

I love their chee cheong fun (猪肠粉). Wrapped in it is a mixture of sengkuang (jicama) and dried shrimps. It is delicious. This chee cheong fun is a must-try if you ever get there.

Their yam cake (芋头糕) is equally good. It is soft and yummy.

Their char koay teow (炒粿條) is unfortunately not great.

There are a lot more in this diverse eating place. Not forgetting the beverages and desserts.

I was curious how they managed to prepare all these in time for breakfast business. The boss lady told me that she and her husband and all their workers start work each morning at 4.00am to prepare the foods. And then open for business for a good part of the day. With such long hours, the workers still seemed like a happy hardworking lot. I awed at this boss couple. Not only were they able to come out such a variety of food each day, they were also able to motivate their workers. Production and human managers from all over can certainly take a page from their books.