Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sweet sweet Mid-Autumn Festival

For those who have been to my apt., they often wonder why I have 2 fridges (and my apt. is not that big). My answer to them - one is for storage for meat/egg/veggie and some "smell" stuff. The other fridge is to store soft drinks and fresh fruits and sweets. No matter how good the big fridge is said to be with this or that function, I still prefer to separate "smell" stuff from the others, not even mention about the so-called "inter-infectious" gems from raw food to cooked food...etc.

So this Fall, my fridge has been stuffed with various sweets in addition to my mini-7/11 drink variety. Thanks so much for my friends who have been so thoughtful. The stock can last for a year at least... :)

1/2. Moon cake by my most favourite hotel Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (China House). After I took this photo, I took one immediately. I am a bit surprised that they did it with some "smooth" texture (油水). Most moon cakes I found outside of HK are generally quite dry due to the process of stir and mix. Why moon cake is that expensive is on how the Chef stir and mix the lotus seed paste. The chef needs to add the oil in it little by little and stir and mix it for a long time to make it silky smooth.

3/4. My friend in Taipei sent over this nice gift to me for the Mid-Autumn Festival. I can say she is very warm-hearted (In Mandarin, we call it 窩心). She even mix it half and half with the Green bean pastry and pineapple pie - so thoughtful. It's very nice. :)

5/6. these choco. travelled more than 10,000 miles. Carrying them is not easy and I was so surprised to see these "small" giftssss.... The photos shown above is just only 1/10th of the "small" giftsss.
7. the Leonidas chocolate is awesome!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flower Trump 花滿樓, Lynhurst Terrace 擺花街, Central, Hong Kong

The first time I tried at this Shanghai/Zi Chuan/Beijing cuisine restuarant was almost 7-8 years ago. Their wonton chicken soup is superb. The drunken chicken is one of the best I have ever tried and our friend Madam Fa who can't drink even took all the chilled wine sauce with the chicken; so you would know how good it is. The shop has now expanded another 2 branches in Tsimshatsui and Mongkok, but I still visited the original shop at Lynhurst Terrace in Central.

1. the table ware. 2. the shop inside.
3. my favourite wonton chicken soup - in a nice pumpkin shape pot - good for six person portion but I normally took 3 bowls (half of it). 4. the soup - see the white soup base. I can tell they use quite a lot China Golden Ham, chicken, pork. It contrasts the sweet taste of the veggie.

5. not too many people take the boiled stuff but I love it so much and no need to dip any soy sauce. If the soup is nice, the boiled stuff is also nice as it's soaked in the soup. 6. the free appetitzer - bean sprout with beancurd. Quite nice too.

7. Siu Lon Bao - pretty nice. 8. stir fried pork in seafood sauce in sesame "pocket" pastry. This dish is a bit too oily and also a bit too sweet and doesn't have the seafood sauce taste. Quite disappointed with this one.
9. Stir fried mixed mushroom/veggie on winter melon - very refreshing veggie dish. 10. free dessert - yellow bean coconut chilled cake (馬豆糕) - this one meant so much to me as it's the first chilled cake I made when I was 14 or 15. I almost lost my memory of how to make this one. However, that one I made was still in my memory as my sisters took them all which was already a nice gift to me.
11. Stanley Street - the renowned Mak Um Kee Wonton noodle shop is still here. This street has quite many nice restaurants developed, e.g. Nha Trang 芽莊, Dumpling Garden 餃子園, and the Wong Fu noodle and another nice curry restaurant....etc. Don't know why they first started with a small shop but then expanded out of this street and more and more....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The East - Hotel in Taikooshing, Hong Kong

Witnessed this brand new hotel called "the East" being born - on the right hand side of the below photo. This area at first was the indoor supermarket for Taikooshing but somehow the shoppers prefer the open area market and later on it was torn down and until now there came a new hotel run by Swire. It's going to be opened in January, 2010. Shall keep an eye on it.

Noodle & Congee (元朗學記), Food Republic, Taikooshing, Hong Kong

OK, another noted outlet at this food republic. At first when it was opened, I believe due to some cooking machine or utensils restriction, their noodle is not that good as the one in Yuen Long. So today I felt like a congee and tried it. Found out they used the old method of "high heat" congee boiling. Nowadays many shops talk about the pasty texture (綿) but the original Cantonese congee should be with some cracked rice in the congee as this way you can taste the "rice" aroma. Quite many disregarded the "rice" aroma and just put salt, soy sauce to make it "taste". Then they tend to the "pasty" texture which is usually stirred up by some rice flour and it's the fastest way to make it done and look like the congee is well boiled.

1. the classic preserved thousand year egg and salty pork congee - pretty good! 2. the shop at Republic.

Bafang Dumpling 八方餃子 , Food Republic, City Plaza, Taikooshing, Hong Kong

The food court of Taikooshing Food Repulic has been re-phrasing its food outlets. I believe the Swire management must have noted something wrong with the renovated food court back in 4-5 years ago. This dumpling chain store has been growing quite fast in Hong Kong, with its first few shops in Mongkok and Prince Edward. Quality wise, it's at average, but considering they serve you hot and freshly made dumpling - this is a plus!

1. the basic Beijing dumpling with vinegar. 2. the shop at Food Republic

My cooking - dried mushroom sauted with chicken wings and preserved veggie pork patty

1. dried mushroom sauted with chicken wings. Why sauted? Cooking chicken wings for a long time will make it a bit mashy. I don't recommend cooking chicken for a long time over 20-30 minutes for a whole or 10-15 minutes for parts. However, dried mushroom should be shimmered for quite a long time. So how these can go with each other? So I would first pan fry the chicken wing (after marinating with some sea salt and a very light touch of wine - to take out the frozen smell.), until it's brown. Use a non-sticky pan and you don't need to put oil for the pan frying. After a while the chicken wing will release some oil back to the pan. So leave that chicken oil on the pan and put some garlic and ginger in it and get it burnt. So before doing this, soak the dried mushroom (best to use the smaller "flower" dried mushroom - 花菇). The smaller one is easier for being soaked and it gives a good aroma of dried mushroom. The bigger one is good for double boiling and for longer time of cooking. So the first round of soaked water should be drained away and rinse it again and soak for the 2nd time. Then drain the mushroom and keep that 2nd round of soaked water. Cut out the stem part and put some sugar, very small amount of cornstarch to marinate the soaked mushroom. This way is to get the mushroom texture better and besides to absorb a sweeter taste. Dried mushroom easily absorb salty taste; so this method is to avoid the mushroom getting salty. Then put the marinated mushroom in the pan and stir fry it a bit. Put some wine but meanwhile put the 2nd round soaked mushroom water in it (this is a very quick step - but better not put the wine into the water. It needs to be wine first and right in a second put the water. This way it will give a nice aroma of wine while it wouldn't lose the wine aroma immediately when putting water in a second afterwards. Then put a very tiny yellow rock sugar in it and some oyster sauce to shimmer the mushroom for at least 10 minutes. Then put back the chicken wings in the pan and cover it for a few more minutes. So no need to thicken the sauce as the chicken's wing collagen and the mushroom's cornstarch will have a sort of thickening after cooking for a few minutes. Then put some sesame oil on finishing the dish.

2. Preserved veggie meat patty 梅菜蒸肉餅. So this is a very home dish for many HK people. I chose the sweeter preserved veggie. Soak the veggie in water for 10 minutes and rinse it thouroughly. Then chopped it as tiny as possible. So for the ground pork, you can either chop it by yourself or have it ground on the butcher's table. Of course, hand-chopping is better. However, if you don't have time, the machine-ground pork is still ok but the key point should be with your hand to mix the ground pork and chopped veggie. You need to stir/massage the ground pork with the chopped veggie well until you feel the patty is sticky enough. Why hand-chopping is better is because of this "sticky" texture. So you can still make it by stirring/massaging it well. So I would put some yellow wine, sugar, soy sauce, white pepper, sesame oil, cornstarch into this process of stirring/massaging. Recommended by my grand mom, I steam the patty over the steamed rice. When the rice cooker is to release some steam, you just place a stand on it and put the dish of patty on it, and let it steam in the rice cooker. This way the patty will absorb the rice aroma. At least I can still recall my grand mom. recipe from this. Not because I listened to her. It's because it saved my time for going out. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

more from Madam Kwan's, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Was driven to try Madam Kwan's again last night and glad that tried more food from this popular Malaysian restaurant.

1. Ipoh soup noodle - worth a try as it combines the shrimp and chicken taste in the soup. 2. stir fried choy sum in garlic. I noticed the Chef used an old method of stir frying choy sum and I think it's almost gone in most Cantonese restaurant in HK except my favourite Kum Fat in Tong Tai Street of Shaukiwan (where the street is famous for the fish ball noodle soup in Shaukiwan) and some seafood restaurants in Lamma Island or Cheng Chau...etc. (those fishing village area), which still practise this kind of original stir-frying choy sum. First, the choy sum got in a quick boiling in the boiled water (what we called frying water) for about 20-30 seconds. This way, the choy sum will be cooked more balanced. Then put the choy sum at a quick stir frying at ultra high heat with garlic or ginger and round it up with a chicken broth.

3. Campur - ice bed over corn, red bean, green stuff...etc. I am not too sure but the red syrup seems to be a "rose" flavour syrup. Quite refreshing. 4. Chendol - out of curiosity of why SS enjoys this dessert so much and kept re-ordering at Grey Hound. Now I know why and this one is even more attractive. They use caramel syrup which goes with the coconut milk. Must try at Madam Kwan's.
5. mixed Chendol.

Old Town Coffee, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The brand isn't any stranger to those HK people who often browse at supermarkets in Hong Kong. This can be called as local style cappuccino. It is quite strong and in fact the use of thicker cream and condensed milk is quite similar to the one of Vietnamese coffee. So you need to have a strong stomach.

1. the shop at Pavillions.

2. this one is called Nan Yang Kafi (南洋咖啡). For those who have watched our old time Cantonese black and white movies, you would have come accross the name Nan Yang (South Sea) - which is widely referred to Singapore and Malaysia. What about An Nam (安南) & (婆羅乃) - those mean Vietnam and Borneo (or Brunei more specifically). Quite a few nights ago my iTunes came up with the old song by 潘秀瓊 "在那遙遠的印度尼西亞,有一個美麗的地方叫峇里島....". In fact, our older generations did know the way how to chill out at that era, and how we would have some traces of those cultural reflections all over SE Asia. 3. this drink is blueberry yoghurt shake - so to calm down my stomach a bit.

at food court, KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Passed by the food court and got told to try the below 2 icy desserts.

1. dried lychee with herbal jelly and sugar winter melon - the shop mixed and matched all the ingredients. 2. jelly with sea coconut on ice. The lime somehow reminded me of the famous Taiwanese dessert "Ai Yue Ice" (愛玉冰).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dynasty Chinese restaurant, Renaissance KL, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

When I looked at my window outside from my hotel (Maya), I often got to see this Renaissance Hotel (used to be New World) and realised I forgot making use of my Marriott Gold card (BTW, JW Mariott on Bukit Bintang has outsourced most of the restaurants to their annexed shopping mall Star Hill. The only restaurant you can have the dining benefit is just the Shanghai Restaurant inside the Marriott main building.). So passed by it and originally planned for the int'l buffet but felt a bit too much from the buffet for the past week (almost 3 times already plus the breakfast buffet for the past 2 mornings.). So the dimsum buffet by Dynasty Chinese restaurant got in my eye sight and it's just RM28++. However, when I checked with Dynasty, the waitress told me the gold card can't be used without even checking on it. Later on, when I spoke this to my local friend, I got told that it's simply because the waitress didn't feel like checking on it as it would cost her some checking. So when we tried to order 2 different kinds of tea, then she said "then you need to pay an extra cost for 1 more person.". When the bill came, it showed there was still an extra cost for 1 more person. Though it's not that much (RM5), it told that waitress was either unwilling or lazy to check it. Anyway, I have been a bit too much busy and didn't feel like bothering with this kind of things until I got back to the hotel and re-think the whole thing again.

OK, back to the food, I think it's a bit unfair if I take the original Cantonese cuisine taste to comment. Just like when I am in Cannes and forced to go with my Chinese business associate to sample a sweet and sour dish at Euro 30 but it turned out the one by Panda Express from LA is already 10 times better than that one I paid for Euro 30. So I then re-calibrate my tasting and checking on the below:
1/2. the restaurant inside.
3. the dining ware. 4. pickled ginger/thousand year egg/jelly fish - quite average. The jelly fish was a bit over-cooked but the good thing is that it's rinsed well - at least it's not with any sand.
5. deep fried wonton - pretty good and they freshly made it, which is already a good mark. 6. deep fried (marinated with shrimp paste) chicken wings. So putting aside the taste of shrimp paste, this one is very nice - the final step of the frying being dried and crispy is done well. To me, the shrimp paste is a bit smelly but I think it's the local taste as like I told you the lasak's shrimp taste is a bit smelly to me.

7. ok - the flour base is nicely done for this BBQ pork bun. The bun was broken out enough to show the BBQ pork, though the BBQ pork is a bit dry. 8. Siu Mai (pork dumpling) - pretty good and very fresh ingredients.

9. Har Gau (Shrimp dumpling) - this one is beyond my expectation - the dumpling's skin is nicely made - not mashy and a bit chewy but not too hard. 10. Chicken with ham/mushroom/taro dumpling (雞札). Supposed this one should be with a ham slice, mushroom slice, taro slice and being tied up by a beancurd sheet. This one is just steamed chicken with mushroom. The taste is average.

11. Hot and Spicy soup - if we don't refer it to the renowned hot and spicy soup and take it as a sweet and sour soup, then it's ok, taste-wise. 12. I don't know what the fish patty is and it's a bit smelly. Supposed this one should be put inside the green bell pepper.

13. Cheong Fun with BBQ pork - the Cheong Fun itself is ok but the sauce is a bit too sweet. 14. pork knuckle and egg with ginger in black sweet vinegar. Very disappointing. Let's say if the Chef can't get the Chinese black sweet vinegar (八珍甜醋), then he should at least thicken the sauce with the collagen of the pork knuckle and the sliced cane sugar and one to two star anises. This one is without any vinegar taste and not even with any ginger aroma.

15. Cheong Fun with Chinese doughnut inside - quite average. 16. Chinese jelly but I don't know what this taste is from....

17. Longan with sea coconut - though I don't like this dessert, if the dessert should be served chilled, then it should be chilled enough, so this one saved a mark on it. It's very chilled.