Monday, April 30, 2012

Egg Tarts and layered crusts

(From the previous post)
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The egg tarts we packed from our dim sum breakfast, were a delight to my hubby especially, who is a big fan of egg tarts and likes to try out egg tarts with a reputation.

The egg tarts may look like most egg tarts which one can get from almost anywhere, but the layered crisps of the crust is one of art and culinary expertise.

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Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing I was once told by many that a good and traditional egg tart depends on really, the crust itself.
It is a skill to make the thin layers of pastries and then pile them above each other.
The egg pudding must be yellow and soft yet sweet in taste accompanied by the light fluffy layers of the crispy base.
I am not sure how true this attributes to judging the quality of an egg tart, but I definitely agree that the light, crispy, and layered crust is no easy feat.
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It must be light, soft, yet maintaining the crisp texture to maintain the crunchy taste but at the same time, to be able to hold the weight of the dense texture of the steamed egg pudding.

This egg tart definitely has it all; according to hubby, and definitely one of the better ones he had tried.
So, the verdict?
I am bookmarking the dim sum restaurant for my future visits to Hawaii, or O'ahu for that matter :-)

Any other tip you have to share on what makes the best egg tarts?;)

Chinese Dim Sum in O'ahu

If you were to read any guide on what to eat in Hawaii, you may find that Chinese food tops the list of the most recommended for visitors to this state.
Although I initially laughed at the idea of traveling for more than a few thousand miles to enjoy something I have or can easily find in my homeland, I still could not resist trying out the cuisine at some of the restaurants/cafes.

When I was in Chinatown, I was having a hard time deciding between the number of Chinese restaurants available in this place as most of them were crowded.
However, one particularly crowded restaurant within the Cultural Plaza caught my attention and I came back the next day early in the morning for breakfast.

Tai Pan Dim Sum restaurant
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A good thing that I was early too, as I was able to get a good spot and enjoy the full attention of the serving waitress, who was actually a Hongkie.
I did most of the ordering as I conversed with her in Cantonese, and even asked for her recommendations.
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It is not hard though, as their large menus are displayed and the waitress is ready to explain the dim sum available for selection.

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Also, like most of the dim sum restaurants in my country, there are ordering cards available for the servers to keep track of the types and number of the dim sum ordered by each table/customer.
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We did not have to wait long as we were served almost immediately after our orders were taken, or as soon as the waitress left our table.
The prices of the dim sum are similar to back home; except that over here, I would have take the currency conversion rate into consideration of course, and that makes it three times the price at home!
That sounds really expensive, honestly, for at the multiplication of the price, I could have had three different types of dim sum already for the price of this one basket here.

I was cleared of my doubts when the bamboo baskets holding my dim sum were put down on my table.
Alright, first, the size of the baskets were definitely superior to those I have seen in my country, and the size/portion of the dim sum; also seemed enlarged.

Fresh prawn dumplings with fish roe (Har Mai) - USD$2.80
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The freshwater prawns used were just so good; large in size, juicy and succulent in taste.
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Prawn Dumplings
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Chives with prawn dumplings
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Steamed BBQ pork buns
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The portions proved to be more than enough for the both of us, but the most important part is how we enjoyed the dim sum.

It's good, I tell you, in fact, it has been some time since I have had dim sum of such quality; which could probably be that from a renowned Chinese restaurant with a hefty price to pay back at home.
Yes, I fell in love with the prawn dumplings; which was probably one of the best I have tried so far, and I am really picky with the way my prawn dumplings should be like.
The dim sum here definitely got my stamp of approval!
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My cup of tea, without any question :)

We were stuffed but happy when we left the restaurant.

Oh, not without a bag of freshly baked traditional egg tarts to take away, as hubby is a fan of these yellow delights.
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To be continued with the egg tarts....

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gourmet and Budget can go together

Food can be expensive in Hawaii, really, and I am sure most of the Americans who hail from the mainland would agree with me.
The expenses spent on the food could be really alarming if we were to splurge on every meal while we were there.
Of course, when we are traveling; especially on honeymoon, we should just splurge and immerse ourselves in the luxury. After all, it is once in a lifetime...right?

However, I can't help when my frugal side kicks in once in a while although I appreciate hubby making the best of the whole trip.
While we were shopping for water and some canned drinks for our road trip, I found gourmet food like these at a budget friendly price!
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Sweet chili glazed salmon steak (USD$4.99)

Look at the juicy and delicious portion of the salmon steak!
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Although it cost less than 5USD, I was impressed with the portion and also the taste of the salmon fillet which definitely surpassed the standards of its price.
I am sure it is easy to make for most of you awesome chefs out there, but seriously, do you need to make this at home when it is so reasonably priced and at a good portion too out there?
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Chicken Breast Fillet, priced at around USD$5.99
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Chicken Pie, around the same price range
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Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing It is a rather fortunate thing to stumble upon great finds like these once in a while when you are traveling, don't you think? (be it budget or luxury travel)
One could never turn good prices or food away and I can see why these grocery chains are making it big in the country
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It was a good thing I went in to load up on our drinks, or I would never find these!

I hope you are also lucky when you travel, and may you discover budget friendly food like these too!
Do tell me about your story:)

Have a great weekend people!:)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's Cha Time!

Chatime is here in Penang, and in case you are not aware, this is not a local drinks outlet but rather, an international chain setting their mark almost everywhere.

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The cover atop each of their plastic-sealed cups reveal the locations where they conquered around the world, pretty impressive I tell you.

The international chain, selling mainly drinks or tea-based concoctions, smoothies, fresh juices, is traced to originate from Taiwan, the land where the famous bubble pearl tea drink began its legacy.
Ever since, there is just no end to stalls, shops and cafes all promoting this popular drink which just took the world by a surprising storm. Almost everyone tried the bubble pearl tea drink at least once in their lifetime, and I think there are more than half of the population who even admitted to being addicted to the drink.

What's the secret?
Is it in the ingredients of the tea?
Is it the art of the making of the drink?
Is it the coolness of the drink and to join in the popularity?
Or is it just simply because of the delicious taste of the pearls included in the drink?

Don't ask me, because I can tell you that I don't know, though I can't deny the attraction of the bubbly drink and the chewy pearls; which are actually made of tapioca flour into cute little balls thrown into the drink.

Chatime is quickly making its mark in Malaysia too; and when it arrived on the shores of Penang, the locals wasted no time in making sure the shop is running in business as long queues crowd the shop at any moment of the day.

I took a longer time to finally try some of their drinks, and the following are the few I have tried, along with my family:)

Passion Fruit QQ (MYR5.90)
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Fragrant with the sweet scent of the passion fruit, the drink was quite refreshing albeit a little too sweet for my liking.

Banana with Pearl Milk Tea (MYR5.90) is not something of my liking, no particular reason.
Just simply, not my cup of tea..or milk tea.
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I can't remember the name for this one; but of the fresh milk tea category
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Most of the prices are standardized at MYR5.90, and there was this one drink which I loved very much and have tried once at a Japanese restaurant, and I was delighted to find it here too, and at a cheaper price!
Sorry, there is no photo of it as I totally forgot about it when I got the drink.
(It shows how much I love the drink!)

Have you gone for your own Chatime yet? (a typical saying to ask about "Have you had your tea yet?")

I think this will be a place for me to hang out and enjoy the drinks from time to time...

Official Website here

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fit for the sick

I am sorry that I have been away for more than a week now; abandoning my blog for so long.
I have not been on a vacation, gosh, I really wished I was enjoying the beautiful scenery before my eyes instead of the four walls surrounding me.
Perhaps, in a strange way, it is considered a form of vacation, but a sick vacation.
Sad to say, I was down with the cold and fever which was rather bad and required bed rest and medication for the past one week.

It started with the sore throat, and then fever for the first two days, followed by a nasty cold and trailed by an extremely annoying cough.
Yes, it was THAT bad...

I wished I could log in to my social networks to write/update but I was just too tired and I was forbidden to do anything else but rest properly to ensure speedy recovery.
A good thing too, for it lasted more than a week, and took two visits to different doctors to help rid of the powerful virus.

As I slowly recover from my cough and the dry spell in the throat, I am also returning to my blog with more and more backdated posts.
After a week, I will start with some photos of the food which I had and prepared by a caring woman whom I call mother now (MIL).
Words are not really needed for this post which I meant as more of a picture-based.

Steamed garoupa fillet with spring onions and fishballs in soy sauce
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Stir-fried French beans with sliced carrots and beancurd
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Steamed vegetables
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Stir-fried Kale greens with carrots
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As you can see, most of the food are definitely of steamed or plain sauce nature due to my throat and cough.
It was only as I was on the road to recovery that I get dishes which are lightly fried or slightly more variety.

Fried fish cooked with soy sauce and fermented beans
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I was even surprised with the varieties of fishballs in steamboat style during the weekend, guess it must be a little treat after a week of medication!:)

Fishballs in a hot pot with plain soup
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I am glad I am finally recovering, although the throat is starting to feel a little dry again and I am making sure that the sore throat will not recur, ever!

To all of you out there, the weather can be rather unpredictable of late, so the best way is to prevent from getting ill.
Therefore, drink LOTS of water, get enough of sleep every night and eat healthy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fish Tacos and a Burrito

The tropical weather in Hawaii just reminds me of our very own sun and rain all year round back here at home, albeit a little cooler since we were there during their 'winter' season.
It leaves little to wonder the crowded population in the island of Oahu, which is just brimming with a myriad of ethnicities living in this place; bringing colors and life to the local culture and making it different from the other American states.

The mix and blend of the different cultures translate to one thing; variety of food!
Yes, eating in Hawaii is not an issue at all as one can choose from across the globe; from local American to Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Mexican, and anything you want, really!

We tried to stick to the local flavors as much as possible, and my hubby, who was almost at home at the States, recommended some tacos for lunch when we passed by the Fish Tacos in Honolulu.

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One thing I noticed is the difference in the drinks and beverages system in the States compared to back home; whereby one orders the drink from the counter and is then given an empty cup based on the size ordered.
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With that cup in hand, one proceeds to the drinks machine and fills according to the type of drinks/beverage ordered; unsupervised.
I am impressed with the trust that is instilled in the customers and also the independence incorporated in the system here.

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It is probably no big deal but there is much to admire about the widely publicized liberty in the United States and I have also observed that most of the customers go back for refills (which is allowed, of course), but they fill from the beverage they ordered and not going in a soft drink frenzy; filling from each and every type.
(Of course, that would not be really healthy nor can one easily consume all in a gulp anyway in that short time inside the restaurant).

The highlight here is definitely the fish tacos; after all, what would one order/expect when walking into a restaurant named Fish Tacos?
We ordered a plate of tacos; and definitely went easy with the spicy factor!
I love the simple presentation of the tacos; but do no be fooled for underneath the folds packs a fiery punch of flavors!

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Served with a generous serving of tomato salsa and fresh cabbage leaves atop the dough of the bread, the lime must be squeezed for its juice adds that simply must-have zesty flavor to the enhance the taste of the taco combo.

The fish, is not forgotten for it was just succulent and juicy amidst the flavorful tastes of the salsa combined with the vegetables and the dough. It was just fried to perfection; and was even hot when I took my first bite!

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The way to eat this?
Just grab both ends of the dough and push all of them into your mouth; but slowly and carefully though.
Warning: It can be rather messy and tough for those with small openings for a mouth; but as long as you get a taste with all of it in one bite, you are good to go:)

Hubby is a burrito fan and he decided to show his loyalty by ordering a chicken burrito in the Fish Taco restaurant. Yeah, he can be a joker sometimes:p
He, takes pride in trying the different types of burrito and sampling some of the unique food around whenever we go travel, and he's a good sampler for me sometimes too;)

The burrito was rather large in size, and to me, it was like a giant roll, waiting to be dissected!

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If you think that it is the same way to consume this burrito; by stuffing the whole roll into the mouth, then I'd advise to think again because this needs a little more work to enjoy the sight of what is inside before gobbling everything at one go or it would definitely be a waste!

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Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing This is definitely not easy on the spicy factor, and the chicken meat were finely chopped and marinated with a hot and spicy gravy before being served and stuffed with fresh lettuce leaves.

It was a lovely choice for lunch, and I am looking forward to more tacos in the future too; good and fishy ones like these, if you please :)

Baby Back Ribs at Hawaiian Chili's

I am sharing food-related posts now from my actual honeymoon; which we postponed to early this year, and yes, we went to Hawaii :)
Read about some of the places I have posted so far, and stay tune to the amazing sceneries and stories as I reveal more on the trip which took place in the island of Oahu; Honolulu and the famous Waikiki ;)
Bishop Museum
Iolani Palace
King Kamehameha I Statue

Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing We dined at Chili's on our first night upon arrival after doing some shopping; as hubby relives his memories of the succulent pork ribs which are of reputable fame in this American chain restaurant. While most people would not want to visit restaurants or eating outlets available in their home countries and would rather try out the local flavors, we made it a point to try out the food served at some of those famous chain restaurants in their home base.
After all, when you are in America, eat like the Americans!
Furthermore, the baby back ribs are not available in our country due to the pork-free regulation in some of the restaurants, to respect the different cultures we have in the country.

The interior of Chili's in the Waikele outlet is exactly like that of all their other outlets around the world; as it incorporates the 'copy exactly' concept in their outlet design.

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The restaurant was crowded as it was the peak dinner hour and the place was filled with people from the local community and also tourists hailing from different parts of the world; all gathering in this one restaurant to get that bite of the local American taste.

Even the menu was exactly like what we have back home; although there were some which were only offered here locally.
Keeping in mind of the large American servings and as we were also stuffed from our snacks earlier, we opted for a customized combo plate.

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Choices are not too bad, and the prices were quite reasonable too.

Our custom combo of the Baby Back Ribs and Grilled Salmon with Garlic and Herbs (USD$24.99)

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Fresh and crunchy green broccoli and soft mashed potato topped with spring onions were served as the accompanying dishes to this plate.

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The baby back ribs; with its aromatic barbecued sauce and lightly crisp roasted texture testifies to the reason this is simply one of Chili's pride.
I am definitely not exaggerating when I say that almost every diner that night had a plate of this on their table.
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If you are not much of a ribs person, then the grilled salmon is just tantalizing to the taste buds.
The large size of the salmon steak was not to be dismissed for the taste of the lightly grilled flesh and the aroma was just tantalizing to whet one's appetite.

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I wish I could say that we managed to try out the dessert; but we were just quite stuffed at the end of the dinner and as it was getting late and we were just tired, that was the only thing we tried on our first night.

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Stay tune to my travel food diary..enjoy the journey ;)