Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Euro Deli

Euro Deli - ah, this is our favorite meat place. We "discovered" Euro Deli a few years ago at their Damansara Kim outlet. And it has been our meat haunt since.

This small chain has 3 restaurants and several retail outlets selling Swiss and German delicatessens such as sausages, ham, bacon and everything sinful. Their Damansara Kim restaurant located on Jalan SS20/11 in PJ, used to be a small humble single-shoplot joint. It had a complete makeover. It is now a lot bigger and with a much better dining ambiance, a new set of staff and a new menu.

And it is immensely popular. It was fortunate that I had presence of mind to make prior reservations. When we arrived, our table at a nice location was duly allocated with my name on it. As we settled down, we observed several groups coming in, only to leave because there were no tables for them.

This place is a paradise for meat lovers. Their specialties are pork and sausages. But they also have lamb and a limited choice of pastas.

After we made our order, bread was served. I have to mention about their bread. It was a soft roll baked with some herbs. They were hot (apparently re-heated) when they arrived at our table. The rolls were very aromatic and went perfectly with the accompanying butter.

We started our meal with a plate of potato skins, baked with bacon and cheese. It certainly was not the archetypal prelude of what the restaurant had to offer, for the skins were really not that very good. I tasted a substantial amount of potato on the skins and that very much concealed the flavor of the beacon and cheese.

Our first entree was the roast pork belly. Awesome. It was served with mashed potato, red cabbage and a mushroom sauce. The meat was tender and succulent. There wasn't too much fat on it. The potato was so fine and creamy. Very delicious indeed.

Next was the roast pork knuckle. Another magnificent plate. It also came with mashed potato and mushroom sauce, but instead of red cabbage there was sauerkraut. Compared with the roast belly, the meat of the knuckle was somewhat dry. To me the best part was the skin. The knuckle was roasted to a perfect crispy skin that was so wonderful to the mouth. The sauerkraut was perhaps an acquired taste. I thought it went well with the meat, but my family did not like it.

We had a combo plate of 3 sausages. We could pick our sausages and we opted for a German pepper, an Emmenthaler and a farmer bratwurst. The sausages were served with sauerkraut, egg salad, a sauce and some mustard. Of the three, I liked the German pepper sausage best. Euro Deli is well known for its sausages. I would recommend that you try them if you are there.

All these were lubricated down with a nice German Franziskaner beer....

And some refreshing concentrated mango juice.

The cream caramel was a welcome respite of a dessert after the heavy and serious meats.

We were totally stuffed. But if you still haven't had enough, you could always buy some sausages, hams and bacon back. Euro Deli has a good variety of meats which are available at the restaurant itself. The sausages are mostly vacuum packed and can be kept for quite a long in the freezer.

The place also sells some imported European delicacies including the nice herbal soft rolls that I had earlier mentioned.

Great place, no?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Not so grand and imperial

Not too long after the opening of the Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang Jaya, my wife and I were wandering around the place looking for dinner. Most of the makan places are located on the lower ground floor. It was very crowded and in spite of the many dining outlets, we were at a loss where to eat as most outlets were just branches of makan places that we had been in other locations. We finally ended in the Grand Imperial Kitchen, one of the places there that we had not experienced before.

The place was rather small and narrow, but was quite tastefully furnished. There was a glassed enclosure at the back that constituted the kitchen.

They serve rice and noodles. On this particular day, we decided on a normal rice meal. As a start, we asked for our usual pot of Chinese tea - tei guan yin (铁觀音). But they did not serve tea in pots, only in glasses, which was odd for an establishment that professes to be so imperially Chinese.

We ordered 4 dishes - seemed like a lot for 2 persons. But the dishes were very small. The hot dishes came in clay pots. Do not be fooled by my pictures below. The clay pots were tiny. I have never seen such small clay pots. I do not know where they get them.

Our first dish was a braised duck in ginger. We had a few pieces of duck meat in an very oily sauce that was rather salty. The flavor was not too bad. But I felt the meat was over done. It was soft to the point of being mushy and that killed the distinctive flavor and texture of duck meat.

Next was the ginger chicken in wine (黄酒鸡). It looked weird. I have never seen wine chicken like this. Like the duck, it had too much oil. I did not enjoy it. I much prefer my own version of the ginger chicken in glutinous rice wine. 

The vegetable pot was somewhat better. It was a potpourri of Chinese cabbage, mushroom, tung fun (冬粉), black fungus (云耳), tofu and others. It was watered-down version of my late mother's recipe. Still I quite liked it.

Lastly we had a plate of siu yuk (燒肉). It was rather fat and very salty. The taste was ordinary.

After our meal, we asked for desserts. They did not have any to offer. Another imperial shortfall. We had to be contented to seep our tea and go elsewhere for some tong sui (糖水).

The Grand Imperial had nothing to live up to its name. The place was too small and the food was nothing to shout about. According to their website, they have other outlets in Bangsar, Sri Hartamas and 19 USJ City Mall. All their other outlets are restaurants. Only this in Empire is a "Kitchen". I guess we really cannot complain too much. That is to be expected when eating in the Emperor's cookhouse.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Original Old Town

Old Town White Coffee is a tremendously successful kopitiam franchise chain in Malaysia. It is now almost synonymous with MacDonald in outlets coverage and popularity. Per its website, as of July 2010, the chain has 166 outlets in Malaysia and Singapore. And I believe it is still growing.

This enormous success story has a very humble beginning. Old town obviously has an Ipoh origin for only in Ipoh do they have new and old towns (which Ipoh folks still fondly refer to), separated by the Kinta River.  While we were there recently, we stumbled on an almost dilapidated coffee shop which is the birth place of the famed OTWC chain.

The name of this coffee shop is Nam Heong (南香). It is located on at the end of a row of shops, at the junction of Jalan Bandar Timah and Persiaran Bandar Timah, in (but of course) old town Ipoh. 

We were initially unsure if this was actually the birth place of OTWC. We asked the lady boss and she very enthusiastically confirmed that OTWC indeed had its beginning in Nam Heong and that it was started by a nephew or some other relative of hers - I don't remember. We had found the genesis of this successful kopitiam chain.

Perhaps the guy with the former PM is the nephew or some-other-relative...

Unlike its 166 off-springs, you cannot afford to go slow-slow in this coffee joint. This is one place you want to quickly have your cuppa and makan, and then disappear. It is crowded, messy and noisy. The place is apparently so popular that you need to scramble for a table. The tables spill outside to the five-foot ways behind the shop.

Being the original white coffee place, I had to go for just that. And being a hot day, I ordered a cold one. It wasn't good. I had tasted a lot better white coffee in KL and PJ. I need not come to Ipoh for this.

Like all coffee shops, there were several food stalls selling various makan - char koay teow (炒粿條), curry mee (咖哩麵) , Ipoh sar hor fun (沙河粉), etc - the normal coffee shop stuff.

Outside the shop was a pancake stall. It was very popular. My wife had to wait quite awhile for her pancakes. But I guess it was a wait in vain for the pancakes were just ordinary. Nothing fantastic.

There was also a dim sum (点心) stall. We had some egg tart and a (Chinese) chicken pastry from the stall. Both were great. So good that we tar pau (打包) several boxes of them to take home.

The Ipoh sar hor fun (沙河粉) looked ordinary. I did not taste it so I am not able to say how it tasted like.

The char koay teow was quite good. Very aromatic. I liked it.

Finally, the bowl of pork porridge was also quite flavorful. It looked plain but the taste was good.

The original Old Town White Coffee, like its 166 off-springs, was no big deal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yee Fatt Curry Mee

Ipoh is famed for its good food. One favorite among Ipoh folks is curry noodles. There are so many places in this clean city that offer good tasty curry mee. One such place is Yee Fatt (怡发) Kopitiam. It is located in Jalan Kampar at the round-about connecting Jalan Tokong, Jalan Kampar and Jalan Permaisuri Bainun - opposite the Methodist Girls' School.

The place is very popular. It is almost always full. The coffee shop serves a variety of local makan, but looking around the tables, it was very obvious that most people were there for the curry mee.

The noodles were prepared at a stall at the front of the shop. I asked the stall keeper if I could take some shots of his business. He was most obliging. In spite of his busy schedule, he managed a smile for me.

You could have your curry noodles wet or dry. The dry version is actually kon lo (干捞) with a thick curry gravy over it.

My bowl of wet curry mee came with curry chicken, bits of char siew (叉烧) and siew yuk (燒肉), topped with some mint leaves. A thick layer of curry oil floated on the surface.

The dry (kon lo 干捞) noodles was similar with a thick curry gravy concealing almost everything in the plate.

I did not like the curry mee. I found the curry flavor too strong. The spices they used were over-powering. The flavor was there, but there was too much of it in one bowl. There appeared to be an excessive use of lengkuas (a type of ginger). It masked the taste and flavor of everything else. There was also too much oil in the curry. We had to spoon out the oil to make it more palatable. The surplus that did not make it to our arteries was this much...

After a couple of mouthfuls, I declared that the sisters in SEA Park PJ make better curry mee. Except for my wife, the kins in my party initially differed. But before the meal was done, they gradually began to agree with my verdict.

We also ordered a plate of taugeh (bean sprouts) to supplement our noodles. Like all taugehs in Ipoh, they were wonderful. Fat and stubby, they were so fresh and delicious.

Besides the curry noodles, we also had some side orders, The wu kok (芋角) - a yam pastry with meat fillings - was served in a plate of 3 pieces. Very ordinary.

Likewise, the loh mai kai (糯米鸡) was also nothing to shout about.

My personal experience with the curry mee was not positive. But that does not necessarily mean that the curry noodles there is inferior. The large patronage in the shop attested to the real possibility I might be wrong. I guess it is a matter of taste and preferences. Certainly the shop is worth a visit and it is your decision to make whether to agree with the large number of Ipoh folks or with this outsider palate of mine.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Fatty Crab

I do not remember when it was that I last step foot into Fatty Crab. It must had been at least 15 years ago. Fatty Crab is an old restaurant on Jalan SS24/13 in Taman Megah, PJ. It probably started in the late 80s or early 90s.

I remember it as a very popular crab restaurant, where there were long lines of queuing crowds waiting for tables. After nearly 15 years, the same queue greeted us when we went there for dinner one Saturday evening. We waited about 15 mins for a table. I guess we were lucky as we were only a threesome and a small table happened to be available.

The place appeared not to have change one bit. The same set up, same decor, same crowd, same tables and chairs and most of all, the same menu.

Actually they do not have a menu. They serve a very limited selection and had been like this since the 80s or 90s. They have 2 types of crabs (chili or steamed), one type of fish (steamed red snapper Teochew style), one type of prawn (steamed), fried rice, fried chicken wings, satay and toast. That is all. They don't have any thing else. No vege, no noodle, no nothing.

We started our meal with some chicken wings. They had a distinct curry powder flavor. Not too bad. Quite ordinary and, believe it or not, they were actually the dish that I enjoyed most that evening. The rest to come were big disappointments.

After the chicken wings and while waiting for our other dishes to arrive, I ordered some satays. They were pieces of soggy meats on sticks. The sauce was dilute and tasteless. Boo... Nonsense.

The chili crab was a big let down. The biggest flaw was that the crab was not even fresh. The flesh was not firm and was soft and powdery. When eating crabs, freshness is primary. For a establishment serving almost exclusively crabs, it was totally not acceptable. We were there for crabs. Real good solid crabs. Not some semi fresh crustaceans that had seen better days. I really did not enjoy it at all.

I enjoyed dipping toasted breads into the sauce more. But we were not there for the toasts!

The fried rice was another disappointment. I used to like the fried rice there. I remember there were lots of crispy fried ikan bilis in the rice. I did not find a single fish that night. The rice was rather soggy and tasteless.

Our last dish was the steamed prawn. I wasn't even sure if the prawns were fresh. The meat was firm and not fishy. But they lacked the sweetness of fresh prawns. I found the whole dish rather bland. It was a dish to be eaten, not enjoyed.

The whole dining experience was a big disappointment that evening. I simply could not understand why so many people actually queue to eat there. For me, I think I know why I did not return there for the past 15 years. I would not be surprised if it is another 15 before I next step foot into Fatty Crab again.