Friday, May 30, 2014

Sweet Comforts of Home at Sweet Temptations Dessert House(Sweet-i)

Sweet Temptations is just the perfect name for a dessert house; serving a variety of alluring home cooked style Chinese desserts, all designed with nourishment in mind.
The Chinese emphasize on the balance of yin and yang in almost every aspects of their life; from living to medicine and definitely even in the food and drink they consume on a daily basis.
The Yin and Yang balances the overall body system; and there should never be too much of 'hot' or 'cold' elements unless intended for specific purposes or it will lose the balance in the nutritional concept.

Sweet Temptations Dessert House, also known as Sweet-i, serves traditional Chinese desserts with the nutritional concepts in mind. Besides the familiar favorites of red bean soup, mung bean soup, gingko with barley and bean curd sheets, there are also contemporary styled desserts which combined both traditions and trends to entice the venturing taste buds of the younger generation.
The list of their desserts is long; offering a wide variety to those with a sweet tooth.

Run by a couple, this dessert house initially started out as a roadside stall located in the neighborhood of Sungai Dua; opposite the Tesco Extra area. Their business was good back then, and flourished well that they decided to relocate their business to a shophouse in that same area.
I have known this couple since them, and they were such a friendly and hardworking pair, and I remembered how kindly they would treat me every time I drop by for a visit and take away my much-needed sweet nourishing dessert soup from them.

I have been a fan since then, and I am pleased that they have again grown their business to such fame today that many bloggers have only praises for them in their reviews.
It was indeed comforting that the couple still recognizes me that day when I walked into their shop, and welcomed me with such a warm smile. It is also good to see that they are now running the place with their children and the place has such a homey ambiance; which made perfect sense since they are now residing in a terrace house lot whereby they use the car porch area and the living hall for their business purpose.

They have now added chilled desserts and also glutinous rice balls (tang yuan) to their already varied existing menu, and the glutinous rice balls seem to be popular among the crowd.
There is also the option of having shaved ice with their chilled desserts in their own version of iced desserts which can be a rather refreshing choice for those who wants a cooler option for their desserts.

One of my personal and regular favorites is this Six Treasures Sweet Soup (MYR3.50)
A combination of snow fungus, longan, gingko nuts, lotus seeds, jelly and almond nuts (which I would usually prefer to omit since I am not fond of it), this is indeed a comforting treat with the mildly sweet base of Loh Han Guo soup.

Gingko Nut with Barley in soy milk
For those who prefer the traditional styled desserts, this is a simple, fuss free and light option which brings back the familiar tastes of home as it warms the heart.

Apricot with Golden Pear Soup is another rejuvenating bowl of warm soup; with the lightly ripe tastes of the fruit slices alternating with the sweet soup, it was rather appetizing and at the same time, flavorsome in its unique tastes.

Sea Bird's Nest with lily bulbs, snow fungus and red dates
This is a nourishing one and recommended for women, and is a seasonal dessert; mostly on Saturdays.

The quality of their desserts are definitely as good as I remembered, and this is definitely a place that I would be frequenting for a taste of home and for that warmth for the heart.

With the tagline "Sweetness in the heart" (directly translated from Chinese), Sweet Temptations Dessert House has definitely captured and melted the hearts of many with their traditional home styled desserts.
They are located in a terrace house in Jalan Nipah, Taman Lip Sin.
Turn left into a junction after the Super Tanker Food Court and go straight until you see the house on your right with the sign.

"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" - Casablanca 
(And mine with Sweet Temptations has already started a long long time ago~)

There is definitely going to be revisits and more postings on this dessert house...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Feast your way through Asia at Tao Authentic Asian Cuisine

Growing up in this part of the world has honed our taste buds to be receptive to the local flavors and basics of rice, spices, varieties/styles of preparation; all bundled in that colorful package known as the Asian cuisine.
While it may be perceived as exotic and even adventurous by some, it is this array of multi-ethnic and cross cultural favorites which makes the cuisine so unique with its very own proud identity; loved and admired by many all over the world. Asia is truly a melting pot of cultures and the blending of the different tastes inherited from the long history dating to centuries ago led to the birth of an interesting yet diversified collection of flavors; influenced by the intermingling of the cultures yet distinctive to their origins.
It will take an entire dictionary to describe all about Asian cuisine, and one could also experience the different types of cuisines as one travels across each Asian country in this large continent.

Tao Authentic Asian Cuisine attempts to bring most, if not all, of the heterogenous tastes from these countries; mainly Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese under its elaborate menu in a typical order-to-serve buffet style.

The restaurant embarked on this bold and ambitious journey to fulfill the cravings of the food lovers stuck in that dilemma of their choice of cuisine for a meal by bringing them all together for their patrons to enjoy the flavors of their favorite Asian food just with the flip of the menu page.

Focusing on the quality of the food rather than the price, Tao Authentic Asian Cuisine strives with that notion to bring the best to their customers in a comfortable and exclusive environment.

The interior and exterior design of the upscale restaurant is inspired by the harmonious elements in the Asian culture and exudes a rather zen-like atmosphere when one steps into the place.

How it works?
Select anything from the menu (yes, anything), and as many as you can eat/finish and the waiter will place your order to be sent to the kitchen; just like in any normal restaurant.
However, it is important to note that there should not be wastage of food; mainly for reasons of avoiding gluttony and the restaurant helps to remind you of this by imposing a charge for every 100g of food gone to waste (a standard rule applied in most buffet restaurants).

Waiting time varies based on the crowd (there's always a crowd anyway), and the restaurant took note of this by preparing a simple buffet area serving starters and appetizers; ranging from fresh salads, fruits, cold cuts, and cocktails.

Fruit Cocktail (non-alcoholic)

Cold Cuts of Abalone

Baked scallops with spicy mayonnaise (Japanese style)
Juicy scallops seared with the rich mayonnaise flavor and hints of spicy is an exciting dish to entice the taste buds for more food to come.

Grilled Unagi (eel) with Teriyaki sauce

This is one of my personal favorites; the Deep fried Tiger Prawns topped with cheese.
The succulent and fresh tastes of the medium-sized prawns were well-maintained underneath that light coat of batter which just crackles with that crisp sound when you bite into it, and the rich and creamy cheese added to the allure of the texture of this dish.
I am not a fan of cheesy things, but with a light touch of this to the dry crispy batter, it just enhanced (or literally enriched) the taste of the battered prawns.

Thai Fish Cakes was remodeled to a new level with this unique rendition from Tao; and I was surprised that these were really enjoyable to the extent that it was addictive.
Unlike the usual mash of fish paste, this was a firmer version but yet chewy and bouncy as though it was a mix of fish paste and fish ball. The addition of pounded coriander leaves hidden in the mix made it even more memorable to the taste buds. My only advice is to have it when it is served hot, or it tends to become a little firmer after a while.

Taiwanese Style Deep Fried Salt and Pepper Mantis Prawns
This was slightly more salty to my liking, and perhaps a little dry but it was still a chewy crunch and something to snack on while waiting for the rest of the dishes to be served.

Deep Fried Soft Shell Crabs

Enjoy thick slabs of salmon sashimi (raw salmon); and yes, these are slabs, not slices.

California Temaki

The list of items to try is varied and offers a variety to satisfy those with a fondness of diversity in their meals and there is just so much to try, so a huge appetite is definitely advised when visiting this restaurant.

Tao Authentic Asian Cuisine currently has 3 outlets; since the opening of its first outlet in Penang in 2006. Today, they have 2 outlets in Penang; Penang Times Square and Juru Autocity and they have also expanded to an outlet in Kota Damansara.

The buffet (lunch) costs MYR56.00++ per pax and lunch starts from 12.00noon until 3.00pm while dinner is from 6.00pm-10.00pm.

Tao Authentic Asian Cuisine has definitely introduced a concept of dining which pleases the roving taste buds of the locals and at the same time, fulfills the cravings for those who would love to have it all of Asia at the same time and from the crowds gathering at their outlets, they have definitely found their success in this bold yet refreshing concept.
They have definitely helped to save many trips to the different countries when one can just have most of the local favorites popular of each cuisine right here.

(This is not a sponsored post and all tastes are based on personal opinions of author and may differ from one to another individual).

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Making them Fishy at Blue Reef Fish and Chips

Blue Reef Fish and Chips, located in the trendy seafront retail marina of Penang; Straits Quay, is a much-talked about eatery around here. Known for its delicious and affordable servings of the good old traditional fish and chips, Blue Reef had the crowd well under its wing with their great reputation.

Initially situated in the tranquil neighborhood of Lembah Permai, the fish and chips outlet rose to fame almost instantly in its early days of operations; attracting the local islanders to their humble outlet especially on weekends. Their move to Straits Quay was by far another a wise choice; with the chic environment also the great ambiance with their location facing the tranquil seafront to give their patrons that dining-by-the-sea feeling in this bold and captivating concept of the seafront retail marina, which also happened to be the first of its kind in Penang.

Choose from their two signature styles of preparing the fish and chips; the traditional beer batter or the bread crumb to coat the fish of your choice (select from a variety of fish available on their menu).

The portions here may seem large for one with a petite appetite, and one could often opt for sharing from their list of Platters for Two.

Seafood Galore (Threadfin) for MYR41.00
Traditional Beer Batter coated thread fin fillet served with a tempting combination of scallops, prawns, calamari rings, salad and chips.

Truly, it was a galore of fresh, juicy and succulent prawns, scallops and gigantic calamari rings which did well to excite one's senses and set the mood for an enjoyable meal. The thread fin fillet was tender and tastes well with the light coat of beer batter wrapping the moist and luscious flesh of the fish.

Besides the traditional fish and chips, if you are into the fish or seafood but not in the mood for deep frying, go for their other styles of preparation such as grilled, poached, or even steamed; the Asian style. Yes, Blue Reef offers all the varieties of preparing their seafood that one can think of and even to the extent of localizing the tastes for their local patrons.

Poached Platter (Barramundi) for MYR46.00
This will be a much lighter option for those into a fuss free and simple tastes of fresh seafood with a zest of lemon juice for an extra refreshing taste.

Besides the traditional fish and chips and seafood platter, or their list of main courses, there are also varieties of salad greens, soups and also mouth-watering appetizers/starters for one to enjoy along with their meal.

Breaded Calamari (MYR12.00)

Enjoy chewing on these larger-than-usual calamari rings which are bouncy in texture that makes one indulge in more than intended. We enjoyed the tasty batter and the appetizing platter while taking note to save space for the mains before they arrive; or just simply, request for them to be served at the same time if you want, to be adventurous once in a while!

I would recommend this Seafood Chowder (MYR13.00), which is just soaking with goodness and generously hiding the large chunky sizes of seafood in the bowl.

This is surprisingly a pleasant and light tasting soup; which was not too creamy nor overly rich that could cloy one's simple taste buds. I am not really a fan of thick and creamy soups and this one is just the right potion to capture my tastes.

For a refreshing companion, we enjoyed the lovely and fruity scent of the Iced Peach Tea (MYR5.00)

One can choose to dine in their air-conditioned space of the outlet or go al-fresco style facing the seafront with the gorgeous view of the beautiful yachts parked by the quay, as though one is in the Fish Market in Australia (Fremantle Fish Market, one of my favorite places for Fish and Chips).

One can also enjoy a romantic stroll to enjoy the atmospheric seafront environment with the sea breeze.

Fish and chips may be well-known in our Australian and English counterparts; with their traditional recipes courting food lovers all over the world and also the fish markets are by far, attractive points.

Now, one does not need to go far or even board the plane to enjoy such an environment or even the fish and chips as we already have them here, right in our own backyard.

Blue Reef Fish and Chips has definitely lived up to that expectation with their fish and chips and topped it perfectly with the idyllic setting and picturesque seafront.
English and Australians may be proud of their fish and chips; touted as the best in the world, but Blue Reef is definitely not far behind in making that mark either and the best is, it is right here, making it possible for us to be able to enjoy good ol' fish and chips in the comforts of our own home environment~

Thursday, May 22, 2014

An Evening with Seafood at Hai Boey

Literally translated to the "End of the Sea" in the local dialect of Hokkien (common language spoken on the island of Penang), Hai Boey Seafood Restaurant is a resident seafood eatery located at the far end of the coast of Teluk Kumbar; a district located between Bayan Lepas and Balik Pulau in Penang.

It has been a few years since I was first here, and my recent visit to this restaurant was indeed a far cry from its heydays during my first visit. The restaurant has fully developed into a systematic and organized outlet, with well-planned facilities for the convenience of the customers and also the efficient system in which the dining orders were taken. I have to commend their ordering system which was well-thought of; with the waiters/waitresses attending to each customer with a PDA in hand and keying in the orders to be sent directly to the kitchen. Of course, this has been practiced in many restaurants for some time now, but I really mean it when I say that their system works quite the way it was intended to, or at least when I was there.
It is also worth mentioning that the restaurant's kitchen was lined with a team of chefs; in a count exceeding five, all busily tossing and frying at their woks and pans to cook for their customers.
Then there is the serving team, who pushes metal carts around (like in a dim sum restaurant) with all the ready-to-serve dishes to multiple tables at the same time. This whole scenario really sped up the entire process from the ordering to the serving, and keeps their customers happy, which is key to their success.

One of the house specialty as recommended by the waitress is this Braised Prawns with Hor Fun (Thin and Flat broad  rice noodles) (明虾河粉)(MYR26.00)

The thick sweet and sourish flavored gravy enriched with the addition of generous amounts of stalks of spring onions and slices of ginger added to the relishing factor of the dish. Of course, the star of this is definitely the fresh and succulent prawns, which were well-sliced to permeate its natural sweetness and juicy taste, and along with hor fun, it is an appetizing combination which makes this an indefinite memorable dish. Truly, this is a specialty here worth the recommendation.

Having used to the usual style of Kung pow mantis prawns, I was enticed by the mention of their other styles to prepare the mantis prawns which was quite distinct from the regular cooking methods in most restaurants.
Kerabu Mantis Prawns (MYR12.00) is an interesting palate teaser with a burst of sourish spicy mix  to complement the dry crisp taste of the deep fried mantis prawns, which, was tender and squeaks with a juicy flavor inside.

This has totally recreated and rebuffed the regular styles of serving mantis prawns, as it introduces a more refreshing and exciting sensation to the tender tastes of mantis prawns. I might try another style on my next visit, as I hear they have other creative cooking styles for this tantalizing sea creature.

If you are bored of the usual stir fried lala (clams) or the steamed style in superior stock, look forward to the way they spice up the dish with this slightly spicy yet flavorful
Steamed Lala with Sour Plum and Chilies (MYR12.00)

The flavorful yet light broth is really enticing to the taste buds, and the addition of garlic and coriander leaves just elevates to the appeal of the dish, and the clams were really fresh and juicy to begin with that it was just the perfect marriage for the fresh sea ingredients and the accompanying cooking ingredients.

The restaurant is fond of serving their fish in clay pots, which they will always recommend to their customers as one of their regular serving styles.
Claypot steamed Red Snapper (MYR40.00) 
(~MYR7 per 100g)

Coriander leaves are served separately, for folks who are not fond of the addition of them beforehand.
It is indeed a thoughtful move, as I do know of many who would shy away from this and it is often a love-or-hate relationship most have with them.

The fish was cut up into large chunks to fit them into the clay pot; and it did seem a little queer though that the fish seemed to be a little uneven on the portion and I believed it was one-sided.

The texture of the fish was smooth and well-immersed in the light tastes of the soy sauce which gave it that extra flavor on top of its natural sweetness owed to the freshness of the fish.

Stir-fry Baby Bok Choy (Siu Bak Choy) (MYR8.00) with garlic was a simple yet healthy finish to the above seafood fare.
The soft and crunchy texture of the vegetable accompanied by the garlic and simple broth made this a light option away from the flavored dishes we had.

Sour Ambra plum juice which comes in bottles are perfect for larger groups.
Priced at MYR12.00 per bottle, it did come across as a little pricey compared to the usual but the juice was rich with the flavors of the fruit combination, giving it that less than the usual diluted tastes we get at some of the places out there.

Compared to my last visit here, I would say the quality has improved in terms of the food and also the overall system in place here.
It is definitely another reason to indulge in seafood when you have interesting places like these, and on an island known as a food paradise.

There are ample parking space for the cars, and the restaurant has even organized their parking lots by stilts to guide their customers to a well-arranged layout on their premises.
It seems that they kept everything in order here, and nothing seems to miss their mind.

With the typical setting of the countryside in the background and the seafront dining before the you, it is definitely an authentic island environment to enjoy your seafood in much more atmospheric style.