Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eddy's Cooking in Melbourne

We have just returned from Melbourne. We were there to help Crystal settle down in her Monash campus in Gippsland. The hospitality we received in Melbourne was awesome. Alan most graciously let us use his car - a Honda Accord Euro - great vehicle. Eddy and Bee were wonderful hosts. We had comfortable lodgings and marvelous meals and a wonderful time.

Eddy is a great cook. He enjoys doing it. He often cooks for his workmates. In the course of our week's stay, we relished many of his dishes. This posting is a tribute to his skills and hospitality.

On the second evening of our visit, he whipped up a storm of a meal. He had a few friends over and we had a whale of a time - not just the food but the very good company.

His master piece that evening was without doubt the sambal petai prawn. Yes, we had petai in Melbourne. The sambal was genuine and the petai were big and fresh. So were the prawns. Fabulous!

And the mussels. They were big and fresh and cooked in a very nice spicy sauce. Yummy.

The curry fish head was prepared by Joyce. The fish was very fresh.

This was the teriyaki chicken. 

And some deep fried mackerel to complete the meal. 

One morning we took it easy and slept in. When we got up in the late morning and Eddy was ready to cook us breakfast ala Penang. It was char koay teow. The koay teow was individually fried; with prawns, taugeh, egg and even chives. It was pity they do not have 'see hum' ( cockles) in Melbourne. It would had made his CKT perfect and complete. 

On another day, we were waiting for another friend Nee to go out for brunch. Eddy came back from morning marketing. "Why eat out?" he said. "I will cook Hainanese chicken rice." With a short time, our brunch was like this...
A plate of pan cham kai ((白斬雞)

Tau yew bak ( soy sauce pork) with some eggs.

And curry squid.

I forgot to take a close up of the rice. It was indeed Hainanese style - fluffy, aromatic and delicious. It was complete with the traditional garlic chili sauce and chicken soup. 

In Melbourne, it was home away from home. Thank you Eddy and Bee.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Breakfast at Antipodean

The word was familiar. I had seen it used before. But I had not the faintest idea which it meant. Checking my Macbook dictionary, Antipodean generally refers to the inhabitants of Australia and New Zealand. It is commonly used by people of the northern hemisphere. It is from the word "Antipode" which means the direct opposite of something (pole and antipode). To people in Europe and America, the southern countries of Australia and New Zealand are antipodes. Thus the Aussies and Kiwis are Antipodeans.

Antipodean is also a small chic restaurant in the swanky area of Bangsar. It is located along Jalan Telawi 2, which is right in the middle of this KL action scene. We went there for a morning meal at the prompting of SP who liked the breakfasts and coffee there. 

We found the place to be very pleasant. The furnishings were tastefully simple and the staffs were friendly. They have a large counter and kitchen at the back. The dining area was not that big and tables spilled outside to the five-foot walkway. But they very considerately arranged the tables so that there was still a unhindered passage-way for pedestrians. 

They even have a kid play room where they have toys neatly arranged (unreal) and a television set.

We asked for a menu. There wasn't any. Everything they had to offer was chalk written on the wall. Which was kind of inconvenient for we were seated at a table where we could not easily see the wall. We had to get off our seats and stepped back before we could read the long list. And if we needed time to decide on our choice, it imposed additional annoyance not only to ourselves but to other diners in the restaurant.

The choices were aplenty. They had nearly 20 different breakfasts plus some very interesting lunches and dinners like the Kiwi lamb burger (I have never tasted lamb burger before - sure would like to try) and Burmese chicken salad. But we were there for breakfast and it was breakfast we had. 

This was the Big Breakfast. It came with scrambled egg, mushroom, a slice of toasted brown bread, a small piece of hash brown and a choice of bacon or beef sausage. I opted for the bacon. The name given to it - Big Breakfast - was somewhat of a misnomer, for it was not that big. The serving of bacon was definitely inadequate. There were only 3 miserable slices - enough to tease my palate, not enough to sate it. The hash brown was also very meagre. And the toast - only one slice. But the scrambled egg and mushroom was generous; perhaps a little too much. The overall flavor was good. I specially like the scrambled egg. It was excellently prepared - great taste and nice texture. The bacon was delicious. They were lightly fried thick slices of lean meat. More, more!

I think I would had enjoyed this croissant with bacon and scrambled egg more. To start with, the serving of bacon was a lot more generous. And it had some nice fresh salad too.

The All-Day Breakfast was another delightful dish. There were the same scrambled egg and toast, a good serving of baked beans, grilled tomatoes and a choice of pork, beef or chicken sausage. The sausage was really very good. Unless you detest baked beans, I would recommend this to the Big Breakfast.

If you prefer a sweet breakfast, this serving of pancakes would perhaps be great. It was served with some fruits (banana, grapes, strawberries, etc) and a cup of butterscotch. I had a taste of the pancake. It was very well done. It had a nice soft texture and the flavor was excellent.

The Antipodean serves very good coffee. I enjoyed my normal long black. My wife's latte was more elaborately prepared.

They even do kopi-luwak. Luwak is the acclaimed Indonesian coffee that is the most expensive in the world. It is made from un-digested coffee beans extracted from the excrements of civet cats (musang). I have read so much about it but have yet to give it a try. At 40 bucks per shot, perhaps next time.

Breakfast at the Antipodean was good but not a wow. But I think we will return. There are a number of things I saw on the wall that interest me. And the luwak... For this, I will need some inspiration to pamper myself.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Taiping Lang

I will try my level best to be as objective as possible in this blog posting. For the subject belongs to the family of a very dear friend. Joyce and Alan live with their wonderful family in Geelong, Australia. Joyce has her roots in Taiping. Her sister Sun and husband Seng run a restaurant in Puchong appropriately named Taiping Lang. Lang in Hokkein means "people". 

"Taiping People" is located on Jalan Kenari 18B in Bandar Puchong Jaya. It is in a corner shop opposite a car park. The place has a charming rustic aura. On display are many old and almost antiquated artifacts and utensils that brought back much memories of my small-town childhood. I felt so very at home there.

They have an out-door dining area which is quiet and away from the crowd.

And a play area where the kids can do their social thing while the adults do theirs.

The restaurant serves home style Hokkein dishes, very heavily inclined to the nyonya way. The culinary brain behind this restaurant is Joyce's mum - known as Ah Mah to everybody. She single-handedly came up with the menu for the restaurant and until today is still actively involved in the kitchen. She apparently is like the executive chef, supervising and ensuring that the cooking is done just right and that the best ingredients are used. This is Joyce and her mum.

They take inspiration from Ah Mah's mother (Joyce's granny) who taught Ah Mah everything she knew.

Alan, Joyce and family were back for the CNY. We met up for a dinner. What better place than the Taiping Lang? Joining us was Eddy (also back from Melbourne), Gan and wife Daphne. 

The restaurant has a comprehensive menu, with a variety of set meals on different days of the week. The menu is in their website. The dishes are named in Hokkein - rightly so. I really cannot remember all the names of the dishes we had. We were too occupied chit-chatting and catching on old times, and I forgot to take note.

Dinner started with a clear herbal soup. It was served individually in mid-size bowls. The soup was good. It was adequately boiled. In Cantonese, we say it is 火.

Then it was acar for starter. Acar is the very popular Malaysian spicy pickled vege dish. The acar here was good though not exceptional. There was a pickled cucumber, long bean, cabbage, carrot, etc in a spicy sauce and a generous sprinkling of sesame.

The other starter was the salivating sambal served with raw cucumber, cabbage and okra (ladies finger). It's been a long long time since I ate sambal in this manner. My only complaint about this dish was the type of lime they provided. They used the small lime variety. I prefer the big green ones.

The Kali Kay (chicken curry) was rich in its curry flavor. It obviously was cooked with a good curry mix and adequate santan (coconut milk). I liked it.

The Bangkuang Cha (shredded jicama with cuttle-fish) looked small in portion. But it was very adequate. It was served and eaten wrapped in green salad (butterheads). Surprisingly missing was the sambal with which it is normally taken.

I think it was the Nyonya Che Kay (nyonya fried chicken). It was like the inchi kabin chicken. It was aromatic and well marinated. Very appetizing.

The next dish was probably the Buah Butai Hae. It was petai (smelly beans) cooked with prawns in assam curry. I liked this dish. Petai is one of my favorite nyonya food. The curry was strong and delicious. However the prawns were over-cooked. They are a bit hard.

I also liked the otak otak or Hu Pau. It was a fish paste in santan (coconut milk), flavored with basel leaves. The flavor was rich and tasty. Ah Mah makes really good otak otak.

I am not sure what this dish is called. Maybe it was the Bee Ba Special. It was braised pork in a rich soy sauce. The meat was tender, perhaps a bit too soft for my liking. I prefer pork with a bit more texture. But the flavor was wonderful. 

Again, I have to guess the name of the next dish. I think it was the Ba Kian. It was a deep fried meat spring roll. Yummy and very appetizing.

The Eu Chai  was a blanched butterhead lettuce. It was soaked with a nice soy sauce with plenty of deep fried garlic. 

This last dish has me stumped. I have no idea what it was. I did asked during the meal and was told it was chicken. But I cannot relate it to any the chicken dishes in the website menu. It was a semi-spicy fried something. Tasting it, I could not tell that it was chicken. But it was delicious. Whatever it was, it was an ingenious recipe. 

At the end of the meal, a plate of dip rojak was brought out. What a pleasant surprise. It normally would had been a starter. But it was a great ending for our meal. It also reminded me of the simple things I miss from our small towns days. There was jicama, cucumber and pineapple. The sauce was great. Small things, big joy.

For dessert, I opted for a hot bowl of bubur cha cha. It was superb. The bubur was richly santan. The flavor was most satisfying. I truly enjoyed it. 

Someone brought out a tub of kueh kapit. It certainly added to the CNY mood. 

What a dinner it was. Great and nostalgic food. And great and nostalgic company. The chit chat went into closing time. We were the last table to leave. And even though I am not a Taiping lang, I miss this small town feeling.