Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Local aka Hock Hin, SS19

The more generous locals I eat with, the more familiar I become with the hidden nooks and foreign suburbs in the Klang Valley. Subang is one area of this gradual induction.

One work evening, a new eating companion gently held my hand as I ventured into this area, which holds its own in the BKT league and its many good eats to cater for its thriving population.

Hock Hin, said companion's family favourite dai chow in SS19 was to be this evening's introduction to Subang.

The Claypot pork with salted fish was lovely, spicy and hit the sodium notes perfectly. Or not so perfect for me perhaps, since I had chosen to abstain from rice this evening. Still, I dug in with nary a care.

Nothing shouted "Welcome to Subang!" like the glazed, hypnotic goodness of these Marmite chicken drumsticks! I polished about three of these darlings with much relish!

Equally gratifying were the plentiful sticks of chicken satay from lone kakak operating the stall in the same kopitiam.

To square off all that pork & poultry, a simple dish of stir-fried French beans with garlic. These crunchy greens are so easy to eat - even though it was a touch more grease than required for a vegetable dish, it was hard to keep away.

Hock Hin is situated on Jalan SS19/6. They have another air-conditioned shoplot a few doors down from the open-air coffee shop, for those who wilt in tropical evening weather.

Subang, I'll be coming back for more!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Burning for the Burn at Santai, TTDI

Deepavali AM: Fresh off another gregarious Friday evening at Sid's, a few of us set off on the utterly unreaslistic hunt for banana leaf rice, neglectful of the fact that the Festival of Light is in fact, a significant day for our Hindu brothers and sisters that warrants a real holiday.

Seeing that I was going to be in TTDI for a couple of property viewings (yes, yes, STILL STILL viewing), the girls decided to hotfoot over to the area for lunch. With BLR fail inevitable, Eevon suggested Santai for tomyam.

We decided on splitting a few dishes among the four of us. The portions had arrived looking somewhat on the small side, but transpired to be just nice once we tucked in. The Sambal Kangkung featured some tasty, plump and fresh shrimps but I would have liked it a little spicier. The right level of BURN is an absolute necessary element for hangover sustenance.

The meal centrepiece arrived shortly after. We ordered the Tomyam Campur and they weren't kidding about the Campur bit - seafood, chicken, beef slices?! I don't believe I've ever seen beef used in tomyam. This was a lovely sweet broth, but once again, not enough BURN for me.

If Petai is on the menu, I cannot possibly ignore it. We chose Sambal petai with prawns and again, it arrived generously a prosperous serving of juicy prawns. Crazy burn factor still missing though.

Ayam Goreng Kunyit was a bit of a miss for me. The chicken slices were a wee bit too dry and I thought the punch from turmeric, surely one of the most interesting spice to be paired with chicken, fell short.

We also ordered these very stoic-looking squid fritters, with batter making up about 80% of the dish. Good when in the mood for that munching on greasy carbs.

Once the empty plates were cleared, post-script of last night's conversation ensued for another couple of good lazy hours. The other three ordered the Ais kacang (although they were told that Santai was out of gula melaka that morning). I was told it was delightful, the gula melaka barely missed.

I had intended to stick to my usual no-dessert position but I was drawn to the tubs of Creme Caramel sitting in the fridge and snagged myself one, about an hour after lunch. I think it would have been better if it had been turned upside down but not complaining, no siree!

This version of creme caramel held its own, considering I ate it straight out of the tub with a plastic spoon. Loved the look of congealed caramel at the bottom of the tub. Ahh, the golden elixir of joy! Not even the fact my hangover burn quota didn't get filled could contain my delight!

Santai is very affordable and very dependable Malay dining. It is no substitute for the BLR burn on hangover mornings but it guarantees a good, solid meal.

Located at Persiaran Zaaba, next to .99 Steak & Chops in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, it frequently enjoys high traffic of families, yuppies and demi-celebs hiding behind oversized sunnies and acne-ridden teenagers whiling away afternoons over cans of Coke and ais limau.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Birthday Treats, Courtesy of Joshua's First!

Baby Joshua turned the grand old age of one recently and we were lucky to snag an invite to the chowdown, as part of the 70-odd party guests. I can't think of gathering any more than 10 people I would want around me at ANY age; Joshua is set for a life of immense popularity. We had heard so much about the cooking prowess of my Boss' mom or Joshua's grandmother, so we weren't about to let up on this opportunity to sample.

I arrived that evening after a rather eventful Saturday afternoon, quite, quite famished. Nevertheless, I managed to contain myself and idled with workmates, recapping our respective Friday evenings while waiting to eat. There were plenty, including a lovely fresh mushroom salad, pasta, fried spring rolls & money bags but I got barely decent shots of those.

To start, we queued eagerly like school kids at the school canteen for Boss' mom' to dish up individual portions of her uber-spicy, uber-lemak Thai laksa. Practically frothing with fish! I especially liked the sturdier version of Thai rice noodles used.

My workmates had shamelessly grabbed the table strategically located nearest to the roast leg of lamb station outside. Now I understand this not because I don't do lamb, but they assured me I was losing out big, BIG time.

They ooh'ed and aah'ed over how excellent and flavoursome it was while I sniffed and pretended not to care. They helped themselves to seconds, thirds, fourths with little inhibition. Not exactly a shy lot, this bunch.

I was bowled over by the crazy good satay, the product of one rather reputable stall in Bangsar. It was a touch sweeter than I was used to but there was no denying this was applause-worthy.

Encik Zul usually works his grilling magic behind TMC. He can be contacted for catering at +6016 204 1566.

Boss' mom also whipped up a very gorgeous Nyonya curry chicken, served with nasi kunyit. I couldn't shove this down then but meekly requested to take home the curry when it became apparent that there were plenty of leftovers as the evening wore on. It provided me with some three solid, tasty meals for the following week.

Thank you for having us over and feeding us, ML! Hope it was a wonderful first of many birthdays to come for the very loved Joshua!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

One For The Road, Kavitha's, off Jln Gasing

With the remnants of Raya-induced misbehaviour slowly dwindling to a heartbreaking stop, so begins the onset of a period of solid work and discipline, right up until year end. But before that, I had to make one last hungover pit stop at Kavitha's in Taman Petaling, off Jalan Gasing.

Had spied Kavitha's when we were in the area not too long ago for Khun Thai, and had subsequently heard raves from other bloggers and BLR lovers alike.

We had been warned about the atrocious service here so we arrived with a good measure of patience and good faith. It took the staff a full 20 minutes before they leisurely laid on our tables the banana leaves, and a further 15 minutes to dish up the rice and the sides.

Now we weren't 100% sure what this was - one of the staff, who looked like he'd been smoking a lil' something something, said it was "perut ayam" but Fat Tulip who finished this all by himself said it tasted more fish than chicken. Can anyone enlighten?

Spicy shrimps - these were just okay. I'm not crazy about the sweetness of the sauce, especially when served stone cold.

Their Chilli chicken worked for me - chicken was fresh, nice mix of breast and thigh meat, all coated very nicely with the pungent, extra spicy dressing.

Last to arrive were the crunchies - poppadum, stuffed chillies and rather lacklustre version of fried bitter gourd.

The best thing about Kavitha's though was the basic vegetarian set itself. The combination of its extra-rich gravies, generous serving of 3 types of vegetables, chutney and sambal was a beaut! The result was almost not entirely classic BLR; it had a whiff of nasi kandar, especially in the thickness of its fish gravy. One could happily tuck into this minus any of the side dishes and go to war (or period of hard slog & moderation) quite, quite charged.

While the service was dire despite the place being only half-filled, and the side dishes just adequate, I'd be back in a heartbeat for the very exceptional basic vegetarian set.

Until then, let's soldier on, troopers!

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Here's looking at you, Fat Kid", hollers Popeye's, Mid Valley

I've often been known to pooh-pooh fast food, asserting preference instead on the plethora of tastier, cheaper and often more nutritious finds that we are fortunate to find in our great, invasion-friendly motherland.

I am, however, not always this way. Deep inside me seethes an ongoing battle between my present-day disposition and the pervading shadow of the insecure, overweight and defeatist kid of yesteryears, who preys on the comforts of deep-fried junk.

Some days, the fat kid wins. Such as this harried working day, walking past the mint Popeye's outlet on Mid Valley's LG floor.

Vicky W goes for the 3-piece Chicken Tenders & Biscuit. All batter, not much flavour, she says. The biscuit is extremely agreeable though, even beyond whiny adolescent's tastebuds. Soft, savoury, more dense and less buttery than a scone. For a couple more of this, being in frequent company of last few standing kids to be picked for P.E. teams don't seem so bad!

The set comes with coleslaw & mash. Draws inevitable comparison to Colonel Sanders' version and Popeye's wins hands down.

Mash with gravy that's more chicken than the chicken tenders themselves. It's the kinda quiet triumph that the fat kid sometimes enjoys from busting clownish moves on the dance hall at the social and making the cool kids laugh.

I settle for the Chicken Sandwich, which at least offers some token slices of tomatoes and lettuce in between power-packed grease and carbs. OK, not the best the fat kid has had (and she has had MANY such burgers) but it isn't too bad either, given the other choices in the area.

The Cajun Fries are extra crispy and very tasty, sealing the deal and grease quota for weeks. The sort of thing that makes one forget the horrible awkwardness of the first slow dance with boy crush (Where do the arms go, the fat kid wails, round the waist or round the neck?)

I hear the Fish tenders are something else here and I am tempted. With this in the vicinity of work, I suspect Fat Kid will have more internal battle victories in coming days.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Pride of Sarawak... is Fried Chicken! Or at least at Rajah Brooke Cafe, Kuchai Lama

Despite the proximity of Kuchai Lama to my neighbourhood, I had not ventured to seek out the thriving neighbourhood of a great many food digs until one fine afternoon, when steadfast eating buddy Fat Tulip suggested driving to check out Rajah Brooke Cafe.

Rajah Brooke Cafe specializes in Sarawakian favourites with highly coveted Sarawakian gems like Laksa and Kolo Mee featured prominently on the menu.

He decided on Tomato Mee which came looking like a redder version of Jawa Mee with crunchy noodles. Tasted a-OK, nothing phenomenal. Except maybe the scary fuchsia tint on the char siew.

I went for the Nasi Padungan and asked for the steamed chicken drumstick to be substituted with the fried Santubung chicken, smartest thing to do ever. The chicken arrived as everything fried chicken should aspire to be - crisp, moist and quite simply, very tasty. Those who do not want to order the rice dish can also get this separately as a side dish.

My aversion to the combination of butter and rice kinda killed my enjoyment of this dish though. About halfway through blissfully chomping the fluffy, fragrant rice without giving thought to the butter factor, Fat Tulip pointed out that the rice served was in fact, not white but butter rice. I pretty much dropped my cutlery right then and there.

The otak-otak was a sore disappointment though. Rubbery and featherweight, the serving of six slices offered nothing to the meal.

After downing his noodles, Fat Tulip decided to go for the kill and order the Kung Pao Pig Stomach and rice. He enjoyed it enough but I found the sweetness of the dish off tangent.

Rajah Brooke Special - like cendol, but not really. Bleh. Say no to condensed milk!

Meal was a very manageable RM40. Service was efficient and we got our orders after a relatively short wait time. Can't size up the claim of Best Sarawakian food in town though, as it's an under-explored brand of cuisine for me. I'd come back to give the Sarawak Laksa and Kolo mee a go, and another side order of that Santubung Fried Chicken.

Definitely keen to explore more of the area. Even spied a newish Pan Heong outlet. Anyone has a clue whether this is offspring of the eminent Pan Heong in Batu Caves?

Kuchai Entrepreneurs Park
19 Jalan Kuchai Maju 8
Off Jalan Kuchai Lama
03-7983 3264