Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Caffe Bene - Redefining Cafes

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With an outlet popping up almost every minute around the world, Caffe Bene is definitely the pride of the Asian household names in the casual and favorite cafe category.
Originating from South Korea, the fast-growing chain outlet is gaining its base everywhere and in the hearts of many who have developed fondness for the unique healthy multigrain beverage, unique specialty shaved ices (bingsu), special brewed coffee and Belgian Liege waffles with various toppings.

I have not tried everything on their menu yet; probably not their coffee or misugaru (the healthy concoction of black sesame seeds, black bean, black and brown rice and barley creating that protein-rich mix) which many have raved about, but I did try their other two specialties.
It is interesting to note that the Misugaru beverage is Caffe Bene's signature differentiator that sets the coffee house chain apart from its other long-established and world-famous competitors such as Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Gloria Jeans, etc and is the brainchild of the cafe to attract the coffee lovers and health wannabes to their outlets, following their establishment.
The start of Caffe Bene was conceived by their CEO and owner, Sun-Kwon Kim who had traveled to Canada and noticed the popularity of the local coffee cafes and believed that he could bring that to his own turf and create a name that would hit it off, thus giving way to the birth of Caffe Bene; a name that sounded more European than Korean.
It was meant to be that way; as Bene is derived from an Italian word to bring the meaning of good and the name of the cafe was just modeled after the al-fresco style of the European cafes.

Their interesting beginning and the background of their fascinating brand name are not the only things to put to the success of their chain; as their menu proved its worth in capturing the attention of coffee/cafe lovers who wanted something more unique besides the usual offerings of coffee and tea.

The Bingsu is testament to the unique branding of the cafe, though it is not foreign to the South Koreans as this dessert is making its way to the cafes and on the palates of its fan base and Caffe Bene has introduced this popular dessert with her very own variants.
Pretty much shaved ice as the base ingredient but with a whole portion packed with varied ingredients to shake it off and crammed into a huge glass jar, this is something you can get away with stuffing yourself with sweet iced dessert while chilling out with a friend.
This may be something you need to share with someone if you want to enjoy or think that it's going to be a small serving, for it is far away from that perception.

The Green Tea Bingsu is delicately polished with shaved ice flavored with green tea and milk, laden heavily with red beans, almond flakes, hazelnuts and green tea ice cream.

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Green tea always is a perfect match for red bean, and that is no way to turn this down when you are deciding on the variants of bingsu they have; not that the other flavors of bingsu are not that good - but this should be one of the choices if you are ordering more than one.

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The portion easily fills more than one person; and the composition of the intense green tea along with all its accompanying ingredients just make this a winner.

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The famous Belgian Liege waffles somehow landed on the menu of this South Korean brand, although there is no wonder why and more than that, an excellent and wise choice due to the rising fame of the waffles themselves. It is a perfect treat and addition to any beverages menu and would definitely have many swooning over its crispy exterior yet soft taste paired with a good cup of beverage/dessert while relaxing in a comfy couch.

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Choose from the different flavors/toppings although the original would be a good option too if one is simply lost for choice.

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Waffles, is another hard to turn down and along with chilled dessert like the bingsu, it sounds like a perfect combination for an afternoon treat with the loved ones especially on a weekend.

I may not have tried everything on their menu, but I was told these were already halfway to the goodness offered by the cafe, and I could not agree more.

Whoever passed this off as just another ordinary coffee chain outlet, ought to rethink that and shaved ice dessert may have found their way into a different dimension with the Caffe Bene's version of the popular bingsu.

Another outlet is probably on its way in the world as I write this post, and any wonder why it's catapulting into the hearts of many faster than Cupid's arrow?
Take a step into cafe and say for yourself :-)


Note: I love the simple rustic and cosy interior of the cafe which just makes it comfortable and just perfect for chilling out with family and friends.

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*This is not a sponsored post/review and is purely based on my personal opinions*


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fish steamboat and Snakehead at Yap Yin & Bak Kut Teh

You are not reading the title wrongly; the fish and the pork (Bak Kut Teh) are in the same sentence, because the fish part is the signature dishes at this restaurant which also happens to serve Bak Kut Teh, as clarified in the name of the restaurant captured below.

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(And that, is why bloggers always take pictures of everything, it just saves us so much trouble in explaining and helped us in collecting these evidences; that we are not making things up, nor are we hallucinating).

(The Chinese name of the restaurant, just for further affirmation).
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Spot the line of people in the first picture?
Well, these are the patrons queueing for their tables, because this restaurant is famous and that fame alone is a standalone crowd magnet.

As a general rule, I do not like to queue for my food; sorry to say that even if it's famous because of various reasons, and one being dignity and another being, fame tends to get to people and sometimes, we as patrons get mistreated with expectations of these famous restauranteurs (well, not all, but some of them, and say that you agree with me if you have seen those ugly ones).

However, there are exceptions, and this being one of them, and of course, the parents factor.
That parental card gets me; my parents were raving so much about this place and that they are sure I would love it and they just want me to try it with them.
Since I am not the great daughter who spends all her time with the parents (and I need to repent so that I don't get sent straight to hell), I do oblige.

Yap Yin runs the restaurant in a very conventional way; like no prior reservations or phone bookings and all customers are attended in that first-come-first-serve basis.
Sounds a little inconvenient when we are all spoilt by the era of reservations and walking past queues, knowing you've got a table, and also, without reservations or even number cards to indicate your turns, we know that there are bound to be those dreadful lot, of queue-jumpers who just whizzed past like they owned the place or something.
(That also happens to be one of the reasons I just detest queues, and I resent queue-jumpers).

Not at Yap Yin; as I quickly learnt.
They may run it primitively, but they take their queues very seriously here and the amazing part, the folks here remember their customer's turn as they stand in queue or register at the counter.
The restaurant crew would attend to each of their customers by the turn of their arrival, and while waiting in the queue, they would hand us the menus for us to browse through and then take the orders so that they could place it in queue in the kitchen.

I am impressed.
You'd think they might make a mistake in the customers' turns, but no, they didn't.
They had such great memory skills that they'd make great students in History class, don't you think?

Of course, there are always those customers who would walk right in; yes, past the obvious queue and to the tables where the patrons are done eating and skulk behind them.
It would be common in other restaurants of course, but not here. They may demand to be seated, but still these crew would still explain to them courteously, and politely lead them to the end of the queue.
How gracious they are!

That probably explains the reason the returning customers and why people would be willing to queue for their food here.


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The restaurant, besides their Bak Kut Teh specialty (served in the mornings and for lunch), is famous for their signature Steamed Snakehead Murrel (or in local terms known as Ikan Haruan, or Sang Yu - popular among the Chinese for its auspicious meaning and its survival strength).
The fish is also known for its healing ability, and is typically served to patients healing from surgery wounds as a traditional remedy.

One can order the specialty dish, where the fish would be served in thinly sliced fillets steamed with soy sauce and sesame seed oil (usually found in Chinese confinement dishes), along with sliced ginger, fried shallots garnished with Chinese coriander leaves.
The dish goes by the number of pax, sized by the crew with the fitting size of the fish to feed the number of people at the table.

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The aromatic sesame seed oil is the secret to the success of the dish, complementing the burst of freshness with every bite of the tender fillets steamed to perfection.
I am not such a big fan of the sesame seed oil (it could give me allergies sometimes), but this was worth it.
Snakehead murals can be rather strong in the fish odor department, and the combination of the ingredients was an effective recipe to get rid of that fishy smell which could put many, including fish lovers at bay when it comes to this fish in particular.
The juicy freshness made up for this, but still, the unique flavor which came with the cooking and preparation of the dish justified the reason behind this being the star dish of the restaurant.

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The other unique thing is the fish steamboat offered here; and the base of the steamboat pot is gurgling with the fish-based stock, made from the bones and the remaining parts of the fish which did not make an appearance in the steamed fish. (if you have been wondering about the rest of the fish, since only the fillets were used)

One could opt to order this (or not), but I'd recommend it, and it's interesting that the steamboat could be part of the meal along with the rice and dishes.
A minimum of 2 pax is required to order this hotpot, and a set of hotpot items; including the raw fish fillets, fish balls, and silky smooth white bean curd served as part of the steamboat set.

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The Stir-fry Kangkung promised a kicking fiery taste with the spicy and flavorful tastes of the chili paste (look at the seeds appearing all over) seeping well into the crunchy stalks of the vegetable, and the leaves are just soaking in all that juices from the paste.

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The other dish to highlight, and my personal second star dish would be this Deep fried Mantis Prawns with dried chills (Kung Pow style).

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This is one of my favorite dish and they made it so good here; with the larger-than-usual sized mantis prawns and they deep cum stir fry the prawns to maintain that moist in the flesh and at the same time, maintaining a light crisp on the exterior.
These are just mantis prawns that are made for perfection, and the Lea Perrins sauce was in the right amount to make that perfect blend of a not-too-thick-yet-not-too-watery gravy for this.
Definitely one of the best versions of Kung Pow Mantis Prawns I have tried.

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I can definitely see the reason behind Yap Yin's popularity.

Reasonable prices, great service (prompt, attentive and efficient), and the luscious food (almost everything we ordered was lip smacking good).

What is there not to like about the restaurant?

It's time for me to plan for my next visit to Yap Yin again, these post and photos are bringing the memories of the great tastes back!

Address:
1231, Jalan Sekolah, Seri Kembangan New Village, 43300 Seri Kembangan, Selangor


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