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.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Gin Shui Tei

Nestled in the Tropicana Golf & Country Club in Petaling Jaya is a popular Japanese restaurant. I had heard about it lot of times but had not got the occasion to try it. Until our cousin Chew invited us to dinner one Friday evening.

I was not in best of shape and had to be in a hospital. But I did not want to miss out on the dinner. So I asked my doc for leave. With a catheter attached to my hand and amidst curious looks from other diners, I joined my siblings, cousin and spouses for a sumptuous Japanese dinner at the Gin Shui Tei.

The place seemed a bit old but by no means run down. The decor was somewhat outdated. I guess they had been around for quite awhile. And perhaps it was time for a little make-over.

Our party of 7 came well prepared with the booze. We had Japanese sake and red wines.

This Japanese bottle even had gold flakes in it.

In my condition, I did not touch a drop. Docilely, I stuck to green tea.

The meal as normal, started with a couple of salads. Both were basically the same. One had a mixture of nuts...

While the other came with crispy ikan bilis and a dash of red roe. The dressing was a sweet sourish Japanese. They were very good.

We also had some edamame for starters.

Two large servings of sashimi then appeared on our table. They were glorious. There were salmon, tuna, mackerel, yellow fin and a large clam. Every bit was superbly fresh. Including the wasabi that sensationally cleared my nose. I had never had so much sashimi in a single meal.

What do you call a Gyudon without the rice? This was our next dish. It was dish of sliced beef cooked in a sweet soy sauce with onion. The meat was deliciously tender.

Cousin Chew ordered 2 servings of sukiyaki - beef for everybody, and considerately chicken for my non-beef eating wife. Sukiyaki has never been my favourite Japanese fare. Like in all Japanese places, I found the soup somewhat sweet and too ajinomoto.

The salmon heads were heavenly. They were salt baked and amazingly fresh. The meat flaked out was we picked on them. I worked on the soft tissue and fish fat - with no sense of guilt as it was Omega-3. A real joy.

Tempuras appear to be a must in any Japanese meal. And the assortment that was served did not disappoint. The batter maintained its crispiness even after a long time on the table. The prawn particularly was tastefully succulent.

To top it all up, each of us was served a bowl of this delicious garlic fried rice. I marvel at the manner the Japanese do their fried rice. Each grain was by itself. They did not stick to each other. The flavour of the garlic was subtle. Somehow their fried rice is delightfully different.

Dessert was green tea ice cream with red bean paste. This ender is very typically Japanese. Yet I enjoy it each time.

It was a heavy meal of quality Japanese delicacies. In my condition, I probably shouldn't had eaten so much. And it must had costed our cousin Chew a small fortune. In all, it was a most satisfying evening for me, even though at the end of it, I had to return to my crummy hospital room.