Friday, January 24, 2014

A Year ago...counting the savory blessings

I have so many backdated posts, but I have so many new upcoming posts as well. While I still continue to filter most of my posts due to their interesting factor, I also had to go through the quality of the photos I had. You see, in the past year, I was too busy traveling for work and most of the time, I relied only on my trustworthy smartphones. That wasn't all, I rarely had time to really spend a lot of time on my photography skills and all I did was just snap and shoot when it came. (Sometimes, I don't even take the photos - yes, I was in a hurry most of the time, and I had an extremely hectic schedule which frequently left me feeling tired).

Anyway, I am sure the quality of the photos are evident in my recent posts, and I guess many may have thought I have deteriorated in my standards - which is not wrong, at all. I wasn't really a pro photographer to begin with, but the photos just did not turn as attractive anymore and I truly apologize for that. What with the blog down for a year and then when she comes back, the photos are just crap - that's just really great for a comeback, huh? I apologize again, and I promise that I will try to scrap those photos from being shared here to avoid those blurry pics. Rather, I would like to focus more on the posts and the newer ones to keep you guys updated on my life.
Let the bygones be bygones~

However, while I want to move on with the newer posts and my more recent adventures, I did dig up some old pics from the last year which were quite interesting, albeit the quality of the photos (again, sorry for that!) which I thought I would like to share just for the fun of reminiscing and nostalgia.
Hope you won't mind, and do enjoy this post as one quick walk down my memory lane from 2012-2013~ It is a way to list down all the memorable savory treats I have had from the year before; all the blessings in the food diary of this picky eater =)

I promise to post better quality photos soon and will make up for all the lost time *winks* ;-)

Jan 2013 - Had these cute little bunch of cookies from my close girl friend who tied the knot at the end of 2012 and being a new wife, she was enjoying experiments in the kitchen, and most importantly developing that relationship with her oven. Whatever it was, I was just so touched with this little array of cookies, courtesy of this awesome friend!~
It was supposed to be a CNY batch of cookies, but it served well as a birthday treat too!~

Feb 2013 - CNY with the Poon Choy (literally means bucketful of food/vegetables). It was the first time we had this as a family on the 2nd day that I returned home to my family.
(According to the Chinese customs, married women usually return to their maiden homes only on the 2nd day of the Chinese New Year as the eve and the 1st day are reserved for the in-laws; or her husband's family).
To be honest, I was never that into the notion of Poon Choy as I just thought it was just too much food at a go, and unappealing. However, gone were the days when the cuisine was just piling on all the types of vegetables to serve a crowd (or perhaps a village?) as the modern version of this is just a luxurious presentation of decadence; not to mention opulence as ingredients now include prawns, fish maw, abalone, scallops, sea cucumber, mushrooms, fortune bags, pork and such, all served with a tasty bowl of soup which was probably boiled for hours before serving.
Needless to say, this did not come cheap either.
(Well, that's the Chinese way of celebration; luxury to usher in more fortune and luck and wealth for the year) - not sure whether I quite agree but then again, it is the culture after all.

Vietnamese Healthy Yee Sang - Another round of Chinese New Year celebration with the family was with an interesting yee sang which was based on fresh fruits and vegetables with generous thick slices of salmon to top it off. I think it cost about MYR60++ but it was a delightful toast to prosperity and a rather refreshing idea!

The following are not in any sequential or chronological order in which they appeared, as they were just bits and pieces from the past.  I will let the photos do the talking~

Spicy Seafood Sukiyaki - Tried this at one of those sushi joints (I just adore Japanese food and it seems like last year was full of them!) It was spicy, yet flavorful - just Japanese food with that spicy mix of Malaysian flavor in it. Perhaps it has been localized to suit the feisty taste buds of the Malaysians who just can't get enough kick of spices in their food.
(Not me though, I am not one for spicy food *blushes*)

Homecooked Grilled Salmon - This is just awesome, my mum just grilled them with a little bit of butter for that gourmet taste (LOL!) and it just turned out yummylicious *thumbs up*
Just writing this post makes me recall the taste and now the craving is kicking in...owhhh...

Homemade Aiyu Jelly - This is something which I like really much, and while many think this originated from Taiwan, this is actually our local fruit/dessert which was not really popularized in her own turf. Anyway, in my humble opinion, nothing beats our local version in terms of the quality and also the taste of this jelly/drink!

Double Catfish Dish
The reason this was called a double catfish was the interesting part of their presentation; in which they will weigh and serve you a whole catfish in two different styles. The fish fillets will be stir-fried according to the style you like. The remaining of what's left of the fish and the bones would then be cooked in a soup with vegetables.
It was a pretty good idea to not waste any part of the fish, and yet get the worth of the price of the fish you paid for (and mutes the thoughts of some who wonders on what happened to the rest of the fish? LOL)
There will be a better version of this if I visit the restaurant another time ;-)

Kimchi pancake - Besides Japanese, I remembered craving for Korean food quite frequently last year and the result? Frequented a few of my personal favorite Korean joints besides discovering a couple of new ones too.
Somehow, this was one tasty and flavorful pancake to relish and it just makes one want to reach for another piece. I know I did!

Homemade Banana Cake 
No, my mum didn't make this, but this was bought from a market from a woman who makes them for a living. She was experimenting to bake fresh banana cakes/breads with real bananas instead of relying too much on the food additives and flavors and it came out good. It was not too bad, and as it was homemade, it was not that easy to find the same version.
However, I did manage to find another stall which sells, which left me wondering, was it homemade or manufacturing? Or perhaps the recipe for this banana bread has spread to many bakers?
I know many baker bloggers who are equally creative in making their own versions of the banana bread but most of you are too far away from me! =(
I will first learn to try not to burn down kitchen before attempting to bake? ;-P

Tortoise-shaped cakes - filled with red bean paste. These were just adorable, and tasty too!
Mum was just so fascinated with them, and can't blame her as the cakes were just such eye candies with their clearly defined lines of a tortoise shell.

Sweet Japanese potato soup 
Mum wanted to get the sweet Japanese potatoes which were orange in color, but she picked the wrong one and the dessert soup just turned out purple!
It was not a bad mistake either, as it was just picture perfect!
A rather unique and interesting mistake, if I may say so~

Mung Bean ice dessert - Had the chance to enjoy this dessert before the shop closes down.
It was sad really, as the shop earlier closed down the year before then came back to action but then they are now closed for good due to the poor response from the local neighborhood.
I am gonna miss my mung bean ice dessert~

Mini dorayaki pancakes - It is getting hard to find dorayaki these days from where I am and it was by chance that I stumbled upon these while on my weekend strolls in the mall.
While they look adorable, I am sorry to say the tastes don't match the appearances!
Too bad, so I will still continue my hunt for good dorayaki pancakes~

Sashimi Salad - Oh ya, this is like, my new favorite these days and sadly, not many Japanese sushi joints serve them or as good as this one! I might share them in my newer posts, so stay tune for this to make its appearance again ;-)

Freshly squeezed juices 
Hubby got a new juicer and he was trying out different juices. I am simple; just give me my fruit juices and I am a happy woman =)

Hunted for a pomelo following my previous post/adventure with the flavorful pomelo salad, and glad it wasn't too hard of a journey though I was surprised by the rates the prices of pomelo have gone up these days. Perhaps I have been conned too?
I remembered telling the guy that I do not want such yellowish pomelo; but he guaranteed that it would be sweet. Anyway, turns out he was right - he's the expert.

There are more on the list; but I have just tried to minimalize as much as possible by just selecting the more memorable ones (also better photo quality ones - can't believe how 'unemotional' my pictures have become; guess that's what happens when one just shoot and go, without that thought and feeling in check).

Still, it was a rather eventful and joyful year and I have learnt a lot of things along the way; while discovering myself as well.
I have just gotten back from a short break, and will be posting more on my blogs with the updates and adventures I had. Also, isn't the scent of CNY in the air already?
Be ready for more food, travel and life sharing stories on the way!~

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Next UP! Spicy Pomelo Salad

Malaysians are a spicy lot, and I mean it with a zest! If you have noticed, most of the local Malaysian cuisines have been heavily influenced with the use of spices and can range from mild to the type that can send one jumping off the chair; or shooting off to the skies (literally so).
It is also a blessing that our cuisines have assimilated into the variety of flavors borne from the intermarrying trends of the multi-racial culture we have in the country; yet at the same time uniquely distinguished to reflect each of their own identity.
That being said, it does not mean that all Malaysians are immune to the spicy tastes in the flavors of their food; there are always exceptions (like myself, humbly so), and it is only fair to say that hot and spicy is no longer an exotic trend in the country but rather, a norm infused with the everyday dishes served at the table.
Some, as I know, don't go by without one spicy food (at minimum) a day and some even proclaim that they breathe 'spicy food', such was the importance of these spicy food in the local cuisines here.

With such a huge population lusting after the spicy cuisines, it is not surprising to see many eateries popping up to serve their very own homemade dishes to tempt the cravings of the hungry patrons, and especially popular is the cuisine from our neighboring country; Thailand. It is really a familiar face to spot in our local eateries; Thai themed restaurants are just making their homes here, with the warm welcome from our fellow countrymen and it is no wonder too, with their tantalizingly tasty (and spicy) food which just warms our souls (oh ya, warm to the max!)

Spotted a side stall or a rather humble abode of this Thai restaurant; which was running more on a fast food mode of operation and just my kind of place for lunch with my parents while beating the crazy crowd at the ever busy Gardens mall on a typical weekend.

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Tomyam noodles - choice of hor fun (smooth flat rice noodles)

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Fiery colored and the hor fun was smooth; paired with the flavorful tastes from the tomyam soup and the generous servings of fresh shrimps, squids and oyster mushrooms, this was a delightful bowl of comfort - especially on rainy days.

Green curry with roasted chicken rice

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Fried Fish cakes
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The highlight of the post is this following dish which took me by surprise; as I was quite intrigued by the sound of it when I saw it on the menu.
While most Thai restaurants serve the signature mango salad and raw papaya salad, I was surprised that this outlet offers one more on the list; pomelo salad.

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While it was rather pricey, the taste from this refreshing mix of the citrus fruit with fried shallots and grounded nuts with lime was just appetizing! Somehow I love the combination :-)
(Forgive the sudden appearance of the prawn; it was from the tomyam soup and it just ended up looking so forlorn there. It may have lost its way and ended up in the wrong place. Hey prawn, go back to your bowl of tomyam soup so you may swim, you're not supposed to be on land, let alone next to a hill!)

I would love to try to make this at home someday; while I can't really cook yet (yes, still), salads are still manageable - so share with me any good (and please make them easy) recipes for salads ;-)

This made me crave for pomelo, and sent me pomelo hunting for weeks!~
I have had my pomelo fix, thank goodness though I would never refuse a good share of pomelo fruit again if any!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Reliving old times in new Coliseum

A new location, but an old familiar place from the early days in downtown KL city has emerged in the urban area of PJ and with a bigger space to its turf, Coliseum appears to many as the new spot for dining with family, friends, and even colleagues (due to its location in the suburban development with giant names establishing their offices and plants in the midst of the booming residential and commercial area).
At a glance, Coliseum may even appear to be another posh dining place and may even ward off the budget savvy but the refurbishment of this outlet tones down on that impression to give off the neighborhood friendly vibe to welcome their patrons from all walks of life (and ages too!)

Bright with its fresh coat of white paint and the unmistakable colors of black frame linings and its red bold words spelling Coliseum, the new outlet presents a sharper and slightly upscale image of modern day dining.
A step into the cafe-restaurant was like a step into the past, with a little more edge in its interior but still maintaining the humble ambiance from the old days and the signature style of their early beginnings.
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Initially a cafe then restaurant, Coliseum still very much remains the same in her own ways; serving the finest from their kitchen and delighting their regular patrons from the past or who have come to know about the place by the word of mouth from their family and friends.
Such was the reputation of a humble cafe which is now a prominent name in the industry and still fondly remembered by most of their fans for their tastes of home infused with the local flavors.

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A cup of coffee was brewed to the thick Hainanese taste

Coliseum was well known for its western colonial theme; infused with the local Hainanese flavors as it was fondly known, and probably originally so, as a Hainanese cafe restaurant. The stories from this cafe is almost synonymous with the history of the city of Kuala Lumpur herself; from the first and foremost outlet in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. I remembered hearing praises and memories of dining in this cafe-restaurant which just spelt that growing familiarity with the name itself until this very day.

It was a delight that they have another outlet now in the bustling neighborhood of Petaling Jaya; and even more so, right in the new commercial building of Jaya 33. Taking a step back into the past in the tiled and black and white background was indeed a nostalgic experience.

Garden Green Salad
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Set Lunch of the Day (only available on weekdays)

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Grilled Perch fish served with salad and mashed potatoes

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For a local flavor, Hainanese fried meehoon was quite tantalizing to the taste buds too~
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Tale as old as time, and a song as old as rhyme, there are just some which are evergreen classics and will never age...

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Sunday, January 05, 2014

A Vegan Affair

If you are a vegetarian and you happen to be in Malaysia, you are in for a treat. Choices are varied and the flavors are just bursting from the creativity from the local vendors serving these good food in restaurants, stalls or anywhere that you see a vegetarian shop. The colors and the uniqueness from the creative dishes are such popping eye candies that lure even the regular meat lovers to consider being a convert once in a while.
While it depends on the location in which you are in at the time (there may be challenges in availability of vegetarian outlets in certain states), generally it is still a relatively vegetarian-friendly country.
Perhaps it is fair to say that Penang; the little island with a big tourism reputation on the western coast of the Peninsular hosts a number of vegetarian restaurants and eateries.

Due to the population of the Chinese folks here, the vegetarian cuisine here is heavily influenced by the exotic style of cooking mixed with the local flavors from the island favorites. Indian vegetarian can be found here too, if you are looking for the Indian style of vegetarian.
However, you should try out the Chinese vegetarian which just tempts you with the various innovations in their dishes while attempting to substitute the usual meat or non vegan fare with their unique choices of mock options created using simple plant-based ingredients such as mushrooms, seaweed and perhaps a little wheat or gluten occasionally.

Vegetarian choices can be so alluring in their imitation of the usual meaty fare that you might even forget you are actually on a vegan meal.

Take for instance, this tempting bowl of vegetarian Tomyam noodles served with mock shrimps, fish balls, and fish fillets all made with probably flour or a little gluten.

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Fragrant flavors from the natural aromatic lemongrass, tamarind and the usual spices just makes this such an irresistible mouthful; sending shouts of excitement from the spicy hot soup.
Perfect during the cold weather (it tends to be rainy on some days here)

Braised fried fish fillets with special black pepper and mushroom sauce
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The fish fillets were made of the dried soy sheets and wrapped with the seaweed; and appears to be slightly covered by the generously sliced mushrooms.

What do you make of these?
Sweet and sour braised mock pork ribs

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The use of wheat flour/gluten lends these a chewy and crunchy texture; in emulating the actual tastes from the real ribs?

This was from one of the Chinese vegetarian specialized restaurant I visited last year, and there are many more such restaurants on the island which I look forward to visiting, for I am a fan and a vegan wannabe myself :-)

How are the vegan choices in your country/place?
Do they have dishes like these, or they are unique in their own ways?
I would love to explore vegan choices in other countries too~

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Supper Indulgence (Who says you can't eat before bedtime?)

(Image-laden post: Please make sure you have a high-speed internet, and healthy with no risk of overindulgence. Not for the faint-hearted or overly health conscious/strict dieters)

This is a post that many health practitioners, dietitians, nutritionists and all health coaches would frown upon, and I can imagine the shocked expressions at the photos on display, and the vigorous shaking of heads in major disapproval at the bold (and perhaps insanely so) act of having a huge meal at late night.
I believe most of us have heard of the ode that food is forbidden after eight or at least 2-4 hours before bedtime (though there are also medical sources negating this); in general, the reason for the food abstinence before bed is to allow proper digestion to take place before sleep and that the major digestive organs get to rest (instead of working their intestines out, pun intended).

While it is a general rule of thumb, but there are still exceptions, of course; I mean, there are people who probably didn't even have time to grab a bite (or even breathe) throughout the whole day, and by the time they are supposed to sit down for their meal, they are not allowed to, because of a rule that they are not allowed to eat late at night? I don't think they are in a hurry in getting to bed; if they have loads of things to do during the day and barely had time to eat, I doubt they would get to rest so quickly (or so, in my thoughts).
I have been through crazy times like these; I am sure we all have been - the crazy deadlines, the back-to-back meetings, and then the neverending list of things to do (by the day) and the phone just keeps ringing!
A day made to torture and squeeze every ounce of your energy; I can say.
Such was an exception when I was rushing through my day before making my way to the city for a business meeting, and I made the trip after finishing all my things to do on hand and immediately after my last meeting of the day, and arriving in the city past 9 at night.
Traffic was still bad; you would think we would have beaten the rush hour traffic by arriving at such an hour, but no, there are just workaholics in our likes who probably shared the same thought (and curses) to leave the office at that hour and yet get stuck in the major traffic jam. Just great, and to make things worse, it was raining cats and dogs at that very point of time.

Now, while I am a lover of the drops of rain from the skies, I don't welcome these hard pattering raindrops when driving after a hard and long day at work and still barely making it through the traffic.
Thank God that it was not such a long distance to my hotel; and I reached there shortly after entering the city - of course, with some serious navigation and a little madness through the pool of cars honking madly at each other like they were saying Hello, Give way to me first!
Yeah, I finally arrived at the hotel....and I was calmed by the warmth and cosy room greeting me in return. Hey, that is the very least I can expect from a five star hotel in the city, and I have no complaints.

Only thing is, hunger strikes...and at that hour (almost 10pm when I settled down), the picture of being hungry, tired and oh, feeling cold (it was still raining out there) was not at all pleasant.
I could've ordered room service I suppose, but I didn't want to, and thank goodness the city was where I grew up in and I quickly made my way to the inviting restaurants within walking distance from the hotel.

While most restaurants would be making arrangements to call it a day, this is one Japanese restaurant which does not only close at that hour, but instead happily calling the shots for supper.
Oh, and you get special discounts too for flashing them an app you installed on your smartphone (hehe, the smart me :-)

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This Japanese restaurant is no stranger to most of the hippy KL city dwellers; with its first introduction to a massive buffet spread in the bustling city and with them being one of the first to do supper buffets, I am sure they are remembered, all the time.
Jogoya, located on the upper floor of the prestigious luxury shopping mall, Starhill, is a crowd magnet and if you think I am a late diner, I was quickly reassured that I was not alone with the crowd still eating their hearts out in the restaurant at that hour.
Oh, a quick observation also told me that there were so many young people there, and even ladies (most men would call body-conscious with their slim and enviable figures) did not seem to be bothered by the fact that they were dining into the late hours, defying all the laws of maintaining a perfect figure and health.
(Or maybe that was the new secret to slimming? LOL)

Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing Whatever, I was looking forward to a good meal after a long and crazy day and some time alone with my hubby, and then, I was awestruck by the buffet spread.
Maybe dumbfounded even, when I saw the amount of food and varieties available, that I almost lost my mind for a moment as I did not even know, where do I begin with my pick!
Writing does no justice, so I will let the photos give you the idea~

From the Appetizers/Starters
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The Sushi section was running low
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Braised section
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I just think these little soup bowls are so adorable, with their lids on :-)

Main courses
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Make 'em cook/grill for you!
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Teppanyaki Section
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Drinks, beverages, juices, cocktails and mocktails
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From the local delights to fruits, sweet cakes/tarts/pastries and even sweet Oriental soup desserts -almost everything you can or can't think of.
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Oh Look, they even have waffles and pancakes, DIY style and the Ice-cream counter is just next to it~

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Pastries too, are not missed in this buffet party...

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What a feast it was that night, with practically endless choices for supper that one could almost go berserk and forgotten all the commandments of healthy eating (what were they anyway?)

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Buddha jumped over the wall; oh ya, definitely jumped~
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Steamed fish (not a huge portion)
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Stir-fry big fat juicy scallops with asparagus 
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I love these little salads~
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This is the kind of seaweed I could have all day
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Sweet macha with red azuki beans pudding
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Chilled coconut juice
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Sweet snow fungus with red dates and gingko in soup for dessert
Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing With such an indulging feast, it was worth the whole day's hard work and tiring journey and this certainly brings a new meaning to "Sing for your supper", doesn't it?
Needless to say, I was a happy camper that night.
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Warning: Not for the faint-hearted and do not do this on a regular basis...or you can, at your own risk!

Prices differ based on their hours (lunch, dinner, supper); but generally MYR70-80++ per pax.
Prices may have changed since my last visit though, I am not sure.

What was your most sinful treat or meal for supper/before bedtime?
I would love to hear, and it has gotta beat this....*grins*