Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grand Palace @ Pavilion - not so grand after all

It's true that not every one of our dining experiences always turned out good.  That's life, isn't it?  You get some good and definitely some bad as well.  Most times when I encountered a bad dining experience, be it at a roadside stall or in a 5-star establishment, I seldom blog about it.  Like what I've always been taught: if you have nothing good to say, then don't say anything.  The not-so-pleasant factors could be bad food, been made to wait too long for service, bad attitude from the staff, unreasonable prices, dirty premise etc etc.  Usually if it's just one of these, well.... I tend to forgive and forget.  At most, I avoid going back to that place again.

However, if it's a combination of several factors, then I feel I should express my frustrations.  More so when a restaurant brands itself as "grand"... as in the Grand Palace at Pavilion.  Not only "grand", but "palace" somemore!  So isn't it only natural that its customers should have some expectations from such a restaurant? Located on the 6th Floor of Pavilion (I heard that floor is reserved for the "higher end" outlets), we headed to this restaurant one late Sunday morning, looking forward to fill our tummies with some dim-sum.


As it was still pretty early, the place wasn't busy - maybe about 6-7 tables were occupied.  Once seated, we were served this plate of appetizer... strips of cold chicken breast meat slathered with mayonnaise, sitting on some limp shreds of cucumber.  Not very impressive.  The breast meat strips were tasteless & hard - possibly stripped from leftover chicken?


We quickly marked the dim-sum items of our choice (selections were pretty limited actually) and waited for our food.  After about 15 minutes' wait, these appeared on our table...

Gr Palace Pavillion

As we were ravenous, those plates were emptied quickly.  I would say none made a big impact on me - the Cha-siu Pau and Woh Tip (fried dumpling) were just OK.  The Chee Cheong Fun was served without the requisite sambal - we actually had to request for that!  The Steamed Fishballs were... forgettable.

After the 1st 4 dishes, service slowed down.  So I took a walk to check out some huge pots of food laid out at one end of the restaurant... and this was what I found...

Gr Palace Pavillion-1

Yes, the pots of food, some half-filled, were presented in that manner - they looked like leftovers from some event the day before??  Isn't it appalling?

The next few dishes of dim-sum appeared...

Gr Palace Pavillion-2

More sloppiness - just look at that plate of Braised Chicken Feet.  That little pot of Curry Pigskin + Fishballs took the prize for "Most Tasteless Dish" of the day.  The fishballs tasted like they came from a long-frozen pack from the supermarket.

The Steamed Pork Ribs with Bittergourd and Fried Springrolls were possibly the only 2 dishes we enjoyed... because after these, everything went downhill.

Gr Palace Pavillion-3

LL had ordered a plate of Wantan Mee with Pig Foreshank (pork trotters) because according to him, dim-sum are for wimpy eaters - he needed something more sustainable.  So we waited.... and waited.... and waited for the noodles.  We reminded 3 different staff about this order. 

When there was still no sign of our wantan mee, after 40 minutes, I snapped a photo of these staff - apparently they were responsible for the noodles because we saw the 3 service staff going over to them each time we reminded them....


Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the elusive plate of Wantan Mee with Pig Foreshank were brought out...


"Sloppy" was really the theme for the day.  Family & friends who have eaten at my house will know that I will never EVER serve any food without first wiping clean the sides of the plate/bowl.  So how can a supposedly-high-end restaurant allow their food to be served like that??!  I hate sloppiness.

It was darn disappointing to find that the noodles were lukewarm, the pig foreshank were also just lukewarm, hard & chewy... but the worst part was the accompanying bowl of soup...


... which was not even lukewarm - it was cold!  Cold soup in a chinese restaurant is akin to a crime.  What more can I say?

By this time, all we wanted to do was to get out of the place.  We cancelled the dessert and called for the bill...


I noted that all the dim-sum items were listed in Chinese only but for a few "regular items", there was English translation.  When I asked the service staff why there was no English translation for the dim-sum items, her flippant reply was "oh it's like that la".  Strange - only the dim-sum items can't be translated, it seems.

So, just a little warning here:  if you don't read Chinese, you won't really know if you have been billed correctly for your dim-sum at this place.

As we made our way out, we were completely ignored by the few staff milling around the entrance ... no nods, no smiles and certainly no "thank you, please come again". 

Well, that's fine because I don't think we want to go there again anyway. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Marbled Angkoos

I know the past few posts here had been focusing on stuff that I made/baked.  When the cooking/baking bug bites me, it's always like this!  Sometimes when I don't have the inclination or too lazy, I can stay off baking/cooking/making stuff for weeks and weeks... but when the mood hits, this is what happens!

So, for the sake of my good friend, Xara, I'm putting this up for her :-)) 

I made these a few weeks ago when I was playing around with all the lovely colours I got from natural ingredients.


I took pinches of various coloured doughs, put them all together and came out with these crazy hues!



I think I have posted about how all the various colours were derived: green from pandan, purple from sweet potatoes, pink from beetroot and how about the YELLOW?


That bright butter-yellow came from pumpkins!  

Don't you think the yellow spot really brightens up the angkoos?


I had great fun making and photographing these...


Xara, I hope you like them as much as I enjoyed making them :-D


So, which is your favourite one from this platter?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Mid Autumn Festival! Moonies Galore!

Tomorrow is the 15th day of the 8th month, according to the Chinese lunar calendar and that's when the Chinese (and probably also all other races here in Malaysia - we are 1Malaysia, right!) celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival.  It originated from farmers, back more than 3,000 years ago, celebrating the end of their summer harvest and it seems on this date, the summer moon is at its roundest, fullest and brightest.  Traditional foods for this celebration are of course, the mooncakes (how come we have square mooncakes?!) and pomeloes.  Of course, as in all Chinese celebrations, there are many legends and myths associated with the Mid Autumn Festival, aka Moon Festival aka Lantern Festival.

Anyway, continuing from my previous post, I did say I was going to experiment and try to improve on my 1st attempt at making the mini moonies.  Well, experiment I certainly did, last weekend!  I tried to improvise on the traditional basic recipe for Ping Pei Mooncakes and I'm glad to say the results were ... well, better!


I managed to make the dough a bit more smoother and pliable so that it won't break or crack when I stretch it thinner...



I got this purplish colour from... what else, but the ever-popular purple sweet potatoes!


I know that looked kinda pinkish... but it's not, it's purple! 

The pink one looks like this... the natural colouring from beetroot juice!


And then I also tried adding some pumpkin and I got this really lovely yellow ...


I was advised by GFAD to get the plunger moulds as they will yield mooncakes with very sharp pattern lines.  However, I am soooo late in making these moonies (like, in the final week before the festival!) that when I went to a few shops to hunt for the plungers, I got the same reply from the shopkeepers: "Aiyorrr... now only you want to buy ahh?  Long time also sold out oredi!"  So, finally in one obscure shop I managed to get this ONE plunger mould... but then the pattern hardly looks like a mooncake, does it?!


Hehe, it looks more like a cookie than anything else!

Ohh... this is also new... the chocolate moonie...


LL said it tasted like an unbaked chocolate brownie :-P

The refreshing pandan...


... flavoured and coloured from the juice of many blended pandan leaves!

Mini Moonies V2

So what kinda fillings are inside them?

Mini Moonies V2-1

Well, it ranged from chocolate pistachio (see those green chopped pistachios?), to redbean + cranberries (those red bits in the yellow moonie), to lotus rum raisin (in the purple moonie) and of course, plain pandan for the green ones.  And all have melon seeds - I love melon seeds!  The thing with pingpei moonies is that you have to cut them when they are really cold (and they warm up very fast in room temperature!) so that you can get clean lines.  Well, you can see that I didn't really do that, judging from the clumsy cut lines above, hahaha!


So... I ended up with quite a number of these moonies.  I packed them up in boxes and gave them away!


I was totally over-zealous in buying ingredients for my Mooncake Project and even after making all those moonies above, I still had loads of stuff left.  So ... Sunday saw me busy with these...


Yeah, Shanghai Mooncakes!


These were pretty easy to make, actually!  And they are much bigger than the mini moonies, of course... so in no time at all the rest of the ingredients were duly used up!


I incorporated these into the Shanghai Mooncakes.... glorious globes of bright orangey salted eggyolks!


The fillings... redbean + cranberries and lotus rum raisin... with melon seeds and the cholesterol globe...:-D

Shanghai Mooncakes

I packed them up in boxes and they looked almost-professional, hehe!


I gave one box to my boss... and he was actually quite dumb-founded! (or was that "sceptical"?!)  He asked whether I made the box too and I was tempted to say "yes" but then "honesty is the best policy", right.... so I had to tell him "no, sir, I bought the box for RM2".  Between you and I, I think he was more impressed with the box ;-))

Oh... I almost forgot, I attempted making the "Gong Zhai Peng" or Moon Festival Cutey Biscuits as Babe in the City_KL calls them!  The recipe is also from Babe - thanks Babe!  I only had the fish mould, no piggy or any other animal.  Well, fish is good, fish brings prosperity, so fish is fine with me... until I learn how to mould those piggy heads free-hand from Babe!  I think if I tried doing that, I'd probably end up with some unrecognizable alien-looking creature nobody has ever seen.  So, OK, I will stick to my cutey fishes, for now.


So, on that cutey note, I wish all of you a HAPPY MID AUTUMN FESTIVAL!

Friday, September 17, 2010

My little Moonies

Inspired by the many beautiful photos put up by fellow food bloggers in their blogs, I decided to try my hand at making some "ping pei" (snowskin) mooncakes.  I'm not much of a mooncake fan so that's why I opted to try making some mini ones.  Being small, mini mooncakes are not that "jelak" and I do think they look cuter too!

Ping pei moonies are not that difficult to make, actually.  It's the same principle and procedure as making Angkoos!  Furthermore, there is no cooking or steaming required... so it's really easier than making angkoos, hehe!  I prefer making the ping pei moonies and not the baked version because for ping pei, I can actually try making a variety of colours and fillings too.  The pastel shades are so pretty, don't you think?


So, yesterday being a public holiday and I had no plans to go anywhere, I gathered all the necessary stuff and spent a couple of hours trying to make these moonies.


This was the very first time I ever made any mooncake, haha!  Yes, I know they look kinda amateurish... much can be improved!


I only experimented with 2 colours yesterday... all from natural ingredients!


For the green ones, I used freshly-made pandan juice and the filling was pandan lotus paste.  For the pink ones, I used beetroot juice and filled them with redbean paste.  Just a small of amount of beetroot juice is enough to give this lovely pink shade!  Oh, I also added in generous amounts of melon seeds into the filling to give it that extra crunch and bite!

I ended up with more than 70 pieces of these in my fridge.  Besides giving some to my neighbours, what I did was pack them into individual plastic containers like these (of course nothing as fancy as those you can get from the restaurants or hotels!) and I gave them out to my colleagues this morning!



Reading masak-masak's blog has inspired me to try other variations... and that's going to be my project this weekend!  Hey Boo, thank you for all the great photos and ideas!


I have a few ideas in my mind already and I can't wait to work on them :-))


And, of course, I'm gonna try to improve on the moonies - appearance, taste and all!  Watch out for Version 2, coming soon ;-)

Anyone willing to be my "guinea pigs" out there? :-D

Monday, September 13, 2010

KK Mayflower Seafood

When we first moved to Kota Kemuning more than 3 years ago, it was still a relatively quiet and peaceful suburb.  We love it for the tree-lined wide roads that were a breeze to drive on.  Everywhere you turn, there are matured trees and lush greenery.  The commercial area in the Anggerik Vanilla precinct wasn't too crowded and you can easily get parking even right in front of the banks!  Well, 3 years down the road and the place has now become a bit more congested.  With a medical centre and a Carrefour being opened in the area, traffic has definitely increased.  What's more, there's now even a constant traffic jam during peak hours at the first roundabout - times have certainly changed!

Businesses in the Anggerik Vanilla area (just after the McDonald's) have come and go.  There're always new shops coming up or changing hands... but maybe not as bad as Taipan USJ, yet.  Recently, there's this new restaurant which opened up in a corner lot that has been drawing the crowds.  Yep, it's the KK Mayflower Seafood Restaurant.  Obviously the "KK" here stands for Kota Kemuning and not Kota Kinabalu!

The star attraction here for us is their Crabs.  There're not that many restaurants in KK here that serve fresh crabs, so you can understand why Mayflower has now become our favourite haunt whenever we get the crabby urges!

Their Black Pepper Butter Crabs remain a firm favourite with us...


As you can see, their crabs are huge and were definitely moving about in their baskets before they were cooked and served - superfresh!  The use of black pepper is a touch of genius because this adds so much flavour and aroma to the crustaceans.  Believe me when I tell you that this is a finger-lickin dish.


We also tried their Salted Eggyolk Crabs... thick cluster of cholesterol-laden yolks clinging to every inch of the crabs.  A tad on the dry side... it would have been better if there's a teeny bit of gravy.

Mayflower KK

The Sweet & Sour Crabs were just, well... sweet and sour.  Good for those who like mopping up the sauce with toasts and such.


I still prefer their Black Pepper Butter version, hehe!  Price of crabs is in the region of RM35-38 per kg.

One dish which we kept ordering repeatedly is their Oatmeal Squids (RM12)...



It looks very similar to the fried butter version... but in this case, somehow the oatmeal does wonders with its added crunch and taste.  We can munch this happily on its own.

If you love your rice, then you would love their Claypot Curry Fish-head because this is one dish that will make you refill your rice - the curry is very addictive!  What I love most about this is that the pot comes filled with an assortment of vegetables too, almost to the brim!  You don't really need to order another vegetable dish actually.


But if you really must have a vegetable dish, then I would recommend this... Pucuk Paku with Belacan (RM12)!


... or Braised Eggplant with Minced Pork (RM10) ...


Actually those 2 dishes are not a good idea if you are trying to avoid carbs (like rice) because they will definitely have you telling the waitress "kah farn!" (more rice please!).  Well, don't say I didn't warn you!

If you have more people dining with you, perhaps you may want to try their Yam Basket - I love the soft powdery texture of the yam!


We tried their Taufu (beancurd) Soup done the poor-man-version of sharksfin soup.  I found it a bit starchy but then sharksfin soup is supposed to be like that, right?  Save the sharks, have some taufu instead!


Like I said earlier, this place packs in the crowd and it gets worse during weekends.  The noise level in the place can get to eardrum-piercing levels, so it's advisable to get there either very early or later after the crowd has dispersed.

KK Mayflower Seafood Restaurant
2G Jalan Anggerik Vanilla V/31V
Kota Kemuning
40460 Shah Alam
Tel: 012-928-0860 (Sam Tee)