Friday, May 29, 2009

Con Job of a Meal

House of Zen's My Cuisine
39 & 41 Jalan Puteri 1/4
Bandar Puteri Puchong
47100 Puchong

I read about this place recently in one of the blogs which gave a good review of it. It seems they have this All-You-Can-Eat promotion for RM28.80 per head and the food was rated as "good". So, since I was in the vicinity of Puchong the other day with some colleagues, this was the choice for our lunch (even though I had wanted to go back to Kong Sai Chicken Rice!!).

When we stepped into the restaurant... well, it looked pretty encouraging... water-cascading-wall, wine chiller, cute little oval-shaped sauce plate...

1st disappointment of the day: found out that the All-You-Can-Eat-for-RM28.80 promo is only for Dinner!

Okayyy... nevertheless, we decided to go for their Set Lunch and for 3 of us, we took their 4 Dishes + Soup + Dessert set which they told us would just work out to RM14.80 per person. Right... and we can choose from a selection of different soups and dishes on their menu.

Coincidentally all 3 of us opted for their Spicy Sour Soup (Szechuan-style) simply because the other 2 soup choices they had were definitely not attractive. Soup was served in individual bowls and while not spectacular, it was quite flavourful. OK - so far so good...

Next, the waiter carried 3 plates of the Prawn Dish we ordered to our table... and I was thinking "wow, not bad, 3 separate plates for us worrr". Boy - was I wrong! 2 of those plates were meant for other tables and the guy plonked only this one plate for us...

The prawns were soft, limp (definitely stale!) and were coated in some kinda pathetic mayo/starchy sauce... and just look at the size and portion!
Our vege dish was this...

...and the chicken dish...
and the Steamed Fish Fillet - cheap doryfish slices which had too much cornflour smacked into them, with slices of totally-tasteless boiled "kai choy" and black fungus strewn at the sides. We had to dip these into the chillipadi-soyasauce before they were sad.

All the kedekut miserly portions of food were served on small 6"x6" square plates and these are meant for 3 people!So that's the 2nd till 5th disappointments of the day!

So, what was dessert??

The only consolation from the tasteless watermelon was that they were served on the biggest plate of the meal! (if you can call that a "consolation")

Wait...if you think that was the end of our ordeal... here's the "best" part. In their promo menu, it's clearly stated "In this set lunch, drinks will be discounted 30%". So all 3 of us ordered chinese tea... and they served us a pot of that.

But lo and behold - they charged us RM15 for the chinese tea! (it wasn't even any fancy tea, ok! just tikuanyin regular tea). So when we queried the 30% discount for drinks, they told us that "chinese tea is not drinks"! Yeah, you go figure, man!
I don't know what chinese tea is classified as then??

Don't you think that if they classify chinese tea as "Main Course"or whatever, they should at least have informed the customers that the 30% discount does not apply?? Blardy cons!

This was truly one of the most disappointing meals I've ever had. The miserly portions, the mediocre taste, the poor-quality ingredients used and the chinese tea incident... I think it's very bad to con customers with these masquerading as their so-called good-value lunch set promotions!

Now, I really do not like to post bad reviews because I was taught that if you have nothing good to say, then don't say anything. Times are bad, yeah...but then, I really beh-tahan how some restaurants can come up with such scams and I just had to have my say here!

I do not mind paying premium prices for premium food - but this was really a con job, period.

My rating - you seriously wanna know my rating?? My friend Z said to be kind to them - give them a 3/10 la - and that's just for their speed in clearing our used plates! So, my rating system says "below 5": you better stay at home & eat maggi mee, ok!

P/S: I still wanna go get my Kong Sai fix!!! Anyone wanna join me?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chicken Rice @ Loke Yun

Restoran Loke Yun
158 Jalan Besar

It's a burning-hot sultry Sunday afternoon. What's the next best thing to do, besides curling up in your cool air-cond room, pull the curtains and hibernate?

Go out on a food-hunting trip, of course!! Especially when you get to meet & make friends with fellow bloggers!

That was exactly what I did. The temperature yesterday must been easily exceeding 30 degrees... yet, together with NomadGourmand, Unkaleong and Horng, we made our way to Ampang New Village in search of "The Best Poached Chicken Rice 2008" recipient - Restoran Loke Yun!

Located along Jalan Besar ... which was such a busy street even on a Sunday, we were very lucky to get a parking space right in front of the restaurant!

Do take note that there're a few chicken rice shops along this row - don't go into the wrong one, like what Nomad and I did... LOL! (she ran into the shop next to Loke Yun and I followed suit, haha!) Just make sure you go into the shop with the big red lanterns hanging in front of it, OK!

Having read FoodPOI's review of this place, I was full of anticipation of the poached chicken. Orders were quickly taken and before very long, these were served...

*Rice - fluffy and suitably fragrant with the requisite ginger flavour
*Beansprouts - a tad over-blanched (I like my taugeh super-crunchy!)
*Soup - disappointingly tasteless. Definitely canNOT measure up to Yat Yeh Hing's!
*Chilli sauce( a bit too watery), blended ginger dip - unlimited supply

We had one half of their Corn-fed Chicken ("choi yin kai") - this plate of succulent shiny-yellow-skinned chopped poultry doused with light soya sauce was placed on our table. The meat was more chewy and had a stronger chicken flavour compared to the "regular chicken". I definitely preferred this.

The difference between this "regular chicken" and its more glamorous counterpart above - the skin's paler in colour and the meat was less chewy, softer... and lesser "chicken taste"...
Being spareparts lovers, we had to have this plate of chicken intestines, gizzards and liver, too. You can see the intestines have been given some kinda "polishing" (some skillful treatment there!) to render them almost translucent, shiny smooth yet gave a good bite as they slither down your throat...

The four of us definitely did justice to the meal... and the bill came up to RM60 including drinks...

Poached chicken (corn-fed & normal-fed ones) all hung up exhibiting their naked glory...
Personally, I would say the food's decent & affordable ... there are better Chicken Rice places nearer to my side of town, hehe - check out this and this.

But... the company for this meal was great and that's what made this outing (all the way to Ampang!) memorable - it was nice meeting you guys - Nomad, Unkaleong and Horng! :-))

My rating: 6.5/10

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shanghai - Day 5

On our 2nd last day in Shanghai, we decided to pay a visit to my Shanghai office which had just been relocated to a spanking new building on Jiangsu Road. After a quick tour round the brand new office and some simple breakfast there, we proceeded to do some shopping at the Pearl Market in Hongchiao. It’s a cosy little mall which sells lots of local products, not only pearls.

By lunch time we were quite famished and we eagerly went off to lunch with several of my Shanghai colleagues at the Merrylin Restaurant located near to the office, ie Jiangsu Road. It seems Merrylin is a popular chain of restaurants in Shanghai and they have quite a number of outlets there.

I apologise for some of the photos which are a bit blurry - the restaurant’s lightings were not very bright and we were seated in a dark corner. By the time we reached the restaurant with my colleague, Sundae, my other colleagues had already ordered the dishes - authentic Shanghainese fare which they wanted us to try!

Slices of Bittergourd and Cucumber prettily arranged with flowers! The gourd and cucumber had been slightly pickled in a mild brine to remove the tartness so they tasted fresh and crunchy without the greeny bitter tastes. Both these vegetables are good to cool your body down.

Oh my… these raw Tiger Prawns (almost-sashimi style) were absolutely delicious! They had been soaked in Chinese wine and sweet plum juice. When you bite into these delightful morsels, the fresh prawns were bursting with the wine and plum flavours - divine!

These Crispily-fried Fish (don’t ask me the name!) were DL’s favourite! They disintegrated immediately in your mouth - bones and all!

Presentation-wise, these scored lots of points! They were just Boiled Shrimps clinging onto pieces of cucumber, topped with mayo and crowned with bright orange fish roe… very similar to the Shrimp Salad we have here.

Next were the Hot Dishes

Ahhh… what have we here?! This was something my Shanghai colleagues insisted we must try! In case you can’t make out what the somewhat-blurry pic depicted, these were Duck Jaws! Yes, the lower half of the duck’s head! The beaks were wrapped in aluminium foil for the eater’s easy handling. The duck jaws were very well marinated and deep-fried - you can actually eat up the whole piece - bones, cartilage, beak and all! The more you chew, the more you could taste the fragrance of the sweetish spicy marinade of spices that had gone into the jaws.

These lightly-saute’ed Asparagus were drenched in a creamy rich topping of crab meat and roe - so sinfully decadent, I tell you! But it was oh-so-yummy!

This next dish of orangey-brown chunks was actually Braised Pork with Beancurd. Many Shanghainese dishes are in this colour as they have been cooked in their unique blend of soy sauce, sugar and vinegar - no colouring added. The tender meat had totally absorbed all the flavours - indeed, this was a robust dish that would have seen many bowls of rice downed!

This was supposed to be another “vege” dish but as you can see, the thin slices of pork belly quite overwhelmed the leek & capsicum and thus rendered this a rather porky item! We were already quite satiated by the Braised Pork by this time so we picked out all the vegetables from here and left the meat alone, hehe

Now, in case you think these glistening plump chunks were meat, you are wrong! They’re actually fish! Some kinda fatty eel-like fish - very tender and succulent, again cooked in the typical Shanghainese style.

After all the above dishes, I was already totally stuffed and had no more tummy space for even a sesame seed! However, my hosts insisted on ordering 2 types of Shanghainese desserts for us and these arrived at our tables…

These 2 were like some kinda fluffy marshmallow with creamy custard inside. The other plate had these huge fried spheres - like the Indian puri but these were sweet. They were kinda like fried balloons - all air inside the crispy skin!

After that satisfying lunch, accompanied by my very experienced and eloquent “tour guide” colleague, Bill, we went to the city centre for some last-minute shopping and sightseeing. Dinner on our last night in Shanghai was in a restaurant in the Super Brands Mall near The Bund.

Bill suggested trying more Hangzhou cuisine and so we found ourselves in a very busy and popular restaurant in the mall. Although the restaurant was almost full, service was very courteous and super fast!

First to arrive were the Cold Dishes

This beautiful pagoda-like creation was actually slices of Pickled Radish piled and arranged so nicely and precariously on a plate. The radish slices were sweet and tangy retaining much of its original flavour - really “opened up” your appetite!

These delightful cubes of Pumpkin were sweet and refreshing… a great contrast to the rich and savoury dishes to follow!

According to Bill, this next cold dish is very popular and its name loosely translated from Mandarin meant something like “wife cooking loving dish for husband”! (yeah, you go figure!) It was a combination of beancurd cubes, black fungus, peanuts and mushrooms cooked in a sweet tangy spicy sauce.

Hot Dishes

Simple Stir-fry Celery with Beancurd Strips as our vege dish.

As it was a chilly night, Bill ordered this Fish Broth. Slices of thick fresh white fish cooked in a sourish spicy soup with pickled veg (“kiam chye”) and tomatoes - yummy and so comforting to warm up our tummies!

See how fresh the fish were??

We each had a piece of this quaint Glutinuous Rice Siew-mai. Soft fluffy chewy rice encasing some meat inside - nice!

Last but not least… the must-have Tung Po Pork! According to Bill, the pork had been so skillfully cooked that the fatty part would “look like fatty, taste like fatty but will not feel like fatty!” True enough… when you bite into these meltingly tender pork, you don’t get that “jelak” fatty-pork feeling at all! They were served in individual cute little claypots big enough to hold just exactly 2 pieces of bite-size pork!

After dinner, we took a short walk to The Bund, which was just behind the mall. It was lovely to just hang out there in the chilly night and watch the boats with colourful lights speeding across the river...
We were told that Shanghai by day looks like a black & white TV but at night, it is a Colour TV!
How apt that description is... as you can see from these night scenes of The Bund - taken by my little humble point-n-shoot digital camera...
The 2 spheres of the Pearl Tower can change colours one, you know...

So... that was the final night in Shanghai for this trip.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time for Salad

This is what I have for lunch most days now... especially if I have had Village Park Nasi Lemak for breakfast!

Just toss together some butterheads, cherry tomatoes and zucchini with these delicious Sesame Salad Dressing from Zanmai...
They have a few varieties of Sesame Dressing - but I love their No-Oil Soya & Creamy versions. I combine both types and pour over the vegetables and you'd be surprised how refreshing & filling a lunch that can be!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nasi Lemak @ Village Park

Village Park Restaurant
5 Jalan SS21/37
Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 77107860

Ever since the Fried Chillies' award given to Village Park for being the "Best Nasi Lemak in Klang Valley", there had been lots of reviews about this place. With so many raving write-ups about them, I knew it would be a matter of time before I make my way there.

So this morning was the "right" time. "Right" because I had a chauffeur in LL to drive me to work and this place is actually quite close to where I work. It's a good thing we went there early (about 7.30am) because this place is just about the most-jammed-up location in Damansara Uptown - you can never find a decent parking space if you come any later. It's crowded at any time of the day, don't even talk about peak hours, ok!

Even at that early hour, the place was already bustling busy - customers had already taken up all the tables placed outside at the 5-foot-way and there were even 3 tables there with "Reserved" signs placed on them! Talk about being popular, man!

Their signature dish - Nasi Lemak with Fried Chicken (RM6.80). As you can see, the piece of whole chicken thigh (and they don't come in any other chicken parts) clearly outsized the rice portion. If you're a rice lover, you better order "nasi tambah" ok! The rice was suitably fluffy and santanny-fragrant ... and that's important for good nasi lemak, as we all know. Peanuts and ikan bilis were fresh & crispy - another plus point. Slices of cucumber were also freshly cut and crunchy (i hate those dried & stale almost-rubbery ones that some cheap joints pass off on their nasi lemak!). OK, so far so good. Now about the fried chicken... I found it a tad too dry (overfried perhaps?) and it could do with a bit more of kunyit for that "ooomph" I associate with "ayam goreng berempah".

Oh...what about the sambal? Well, it looked red & fiery but actually taste-wise, it was quite bland - I prefer my sambal to have a bit of kick!

On the way in I saw some yummy-looking Rendang so we ordered a plate of Fried Meehoon to go with it. That was a good decision because the Beef Rendang turned out to be absolutely delicious! The meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender and every fibre was infused with the lovely spices and must have been simmered slowly in coconut milk - a winner in my book! This totally made up for the somewhat-disappointing fried chicken, I must say.

Just look at the huge pile of gargantuan fried chicken thighs!
Even at that early hour in the morning, there were already lots of dishes, including various malay kuehs, all ready for serving...
I can imagine the long queues at this place come lunch time...!
My rating: 7/10 - go for the Beef Rendang!

Read what others say about this place: NomadGourmand, Jules