Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dog Unleashed Again

The Ikea hot dog is finally available again after so many months of disappearance. I wonder why.

They probably ran out of pickle relish because someone overlooked the inventory and therefore, needed some time to ferment a new batch.


The thing I like most about this self service meal package is the pickle relish. And I get to put as much minced pickle and onions, mustard and ketchup to my dawg., The rest of the edible canine are standard issue. They should probably increase the size of that long thing between the buns, make it thicker and tastier.  Maybe put some black pepper or cheese in it.

The buns could also use some up-sizing; make it a little tougher.  It's too thin, soft and flimsy to hold the dog and the condiments.  It also gets soggy with the juice from the relish, mustard and the occasional chili sauce.  That's one of the reason I skip the chili. It doesn't really give the extra kick, just more sweetness which already comes with the pickle relish.  I'd really appreciate some dried chili sprinkles though. That would be nice.

On second thought, that would also mean a higher price. Two bucks is a reasonable price for this light snack. Add  to that refills after refills of free coffee or soda and I'll go woof! And from the looks of my mustard stained shirt, people would think that a dog ran into me. 

Down mustard! Good boy.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Laksa Sarawak @ Secret Recipe

I was at One Utama for lunch break a few days ago when I walked pass Secret Recipe.  The sinful image of a piece of cake for desert suddenly smeared my thoughts and I found myself seated at a table with the entrance view. How weak!

As I waited for the menu I checked out their Pocket Savers offer; a good deal I believe.

And then came the menu. I quickly browsed through the list and to my surprise, Sarawak Laksa was in at RM16.90.  Pricey but I guess that's their price range for such dish; noodles in soups.

As a curious Sarawakian, I opted to pay an extra RM6.90 just to sample their version of Sarawak Laksa.  Who knows, it could be the real deal.  On the other hand, it could also be a once in a lifetime experience, meaning I'll never order it ever again.

It took a while for my laksa to get to my table so I played around with my Olympus mju840.  The only thing that caught my attention were the packs of sugar, which reminded me of a story about shit.  Curious? Read the story here.

When my laksa finally arrived, the first impression was really dull, save for a familiar laksa aroma.  I was expecting a reddish gravy  but all I could see was bee hoon masak lemak with bean sprouts and coriander leaves.

And where are my prawns?  Oh well, so much for high expectations. Or maybe they're hidden underneath that creamy soup. Note to those who wish to serve Sarawak Laksa; DO NOT HIDE your prawns if you have any because your guests will know that you screwed up the serving sequence.  Seriously, life is more than just bean sprouts, my dear tow keh.

I tasted the sambal belachan and it was quite okay; tasted a bit like sambal nasi lemak because it's kinda sweet and sour.  But I was disapointed with the lime given to me.  It's tiny!  I sadly dumped all the sambal in my bowl and squeezed every ounce of lime juice out of the poor S.O.A.B. and started mixing my bowl.  Guess what, even the sambal couldn't bring cheer to my bowl.  Dull.

As I dug around my meal I discovered that the chicken meat didn't come in shreds but julienne; like chicken sticks the size of shoe string fries. Bummer!  And since when does a bowl of Sarawak Laksa has half sliced deep fried tofu?  I'll tell you when; ever since Laksa Shack thought it'd be easier to standardize the condiments in their menu.  Even the gravy has the same consistency; thick as home made mushroom soup (not Campbell's) but without much coconut milk aroma. They probably used thick cream for the texture.

I guess Secret Recipe's menu developers decided to introduce Sarawak Laksa based on Laksa Shack's product.  Ask any Sarawakian and they'll tell you Shack's laksa is an utter disgrace to Sarawak Laksa.

Anyway, I finally found my prawns.  All three of them.  I sank my teeth into one of the fat and firm prawn meat and felt the crunch, but where's the prawn taste?  Dammit!  I kept missing something.  First were the prawns, then when I finally found them, the taste was missing...!  WTF!

Okay, stay calm... Let's eat already.  The rice vermicelli looks like the thick type, which is normally used back home.  But the texture just wasn't right.  It felt like the noodle used in Assam Laksa, only smaller.

Man, this is just wrong, I told myself but kept eating.  Can't let that sixteen ninety go to waste.  Food is still food.

The only thing that kept me going was the thought of a sinful desert. A chocolate mud pie to be exact. Now that's compensation at it's best.

As I smeared the chocolate mud in my mouth cavity, I thought long and deep about my lunch catastrophe. This absolute failure by Secret Recipe should remain forever as a secret entity.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Huge Swedish Wiener, Hot Chick and Sexy Princess

The best thing about dining at Ikea is the free daily coffee I get as their 'friends' member. So whenever I feel like having refill after refill of caffeine with my Swedish lunch, I simply take that 5 minutes drive from Damansara Utama toMutiara Damansara.

Ooh those savoury meatballs, so synonymous with Ikea Malaysia, maybe Ikea Anywhere, so tasty some say it's nasty; because ten is never enough! Cranberry jam never tasted so good with the brown sauce and generous sized fries, as big as a ten year old's fingers. The cranberry jam is like sweet chili sauce minus the heat.

And then there's the BBQ whole chicken leg with fries.  The BBQ gravy complements the chicken real well, although I prefer my BBQ chicken, well, BBQ'ed instead of roasted (and only then compensated with BBQ sauce, plastic don't you think?).

Smoke'em will ya!

And who can ever hide a grin or a giggle when carrying a plate with two long sausages sticking out like sore thumbs? Try carrying two plates and pretend you don't hear people whisper "ooh, you love your wieners don'cha" complete with a naughty grin.  Oh heck, maybe it's just me then. I hear things.

Oh, the mashed potato and coleslaw was standard issue by the way.
Princess for desert anyone? Dig in then. This is princess cake, I think.  It's suspiciously green with streaks of chocolate sauce looking like a smile, or cleavage, depending on which angle you look at it.  Looks kinda oily too.  As you fork your was through the green casing, you'll see white velvety cream, soft like tiramisu, sweet like 'I love you'.

When you've had too much caffeine, simply use your coffee cup to drain the soda selection.

Lunch done!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Laksa Sarawak at Pucuk Ubi

I finally made my way to the recently relocated Restoran Pucuk Ubi in Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara in PJU6, Petaling Jaya .  I knew about the relocation from Tho Xin Yee of The Star in her article Ambassadors of Sarawak. Click the picture below to read about it.

Although I knew the restaurant shifted to Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara, I didn't know the exact location. I wanted to go to their previous location in TTDI plaza one fine day, to see if there was a new address to redirect customers to their new place; that day never came.

Fortunately, Jason, one of the staff messaged me on facebook and gave me the address.  So without wasting any time I went there the next day.  The location is rather secluded; it's like an unknown patch in the vicinity of Damansara Utama and Bandar Utama despite being neighbor with Center Point Bandar Utama, Uptown and One Utama.  The place looks promising though, with several developments taking place and a number of apartments and condos nearby.


Without wasting time I ordered Sarawak Laksa.

The broth was very thick and dense.  Which is both good and bad because a laksa broth that can stand out in thick coconut milk means the good 'sambal' is prepared properly.  The bad part is the cholesterol kills, if taken frequently of course.  I thought the aroma could be stronger though, if possible, coming from the kitchen as well.  Now that's a laksa trait.  The exotically seductive scent should dance its way out of the kitchen straight to diners nose, like a sexy belly dancer approaching a delighted audience, all eager and with arms (and legs) wide open. 

Ok, let's snap out of that mental imagery shall we.

I got three medium sized prawns in my bowl.  The sambal was quite spicy with distinctive belacan taste.  I could use two or three limes though, cos I like my laksa a little sour than usual.  Helps break the fats they say; not sure how accurate it is but it sure taste great with more lime.  

Then there were the chicken and omelet strips, bean sprouts and parsley leaves.  Personally, I prefer to have chinese coriander leaves instead of the parsley leaves.  Where laksa is concerned, the strong (pungent to some) flavor of coriander leaves beats the good looks of parsley everytime.  The coriander complements the broth and the whole package in general.  I prefer chopped coriander so the flavor is uniformly infused into the broth and every mouthful contains bits of coriander, ready to burst its flavor with every bite.

And here's a little secret for those wanting to brew their own broth.  Drop the peeled prawn shell into the boiling broth and let it cook together with the laksa paste.  And boil the chicken meat in there as well.  Hmm... my aunt will kill me for this.  

Oh, one more thing, don't trust the sambal label when it says to cook in boiling water for 20 or 30 minutes; some even say 5 minutes, can you believe that?!.  As with some things, the longer the better; maybe the whole morning; that's how my mom used to do it when we were little.  We used to have laksa as a grand Sunday event, after church the whole family would go to the morning market and get all the ingredients.  Then we would all chip in with the preparations.  Sometimes we only get to have lunch at 3pm, but the preparation was always half the pleasure of a laksa day. 

Whole lot of laksa love.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Three Layer Tea aka Teh 'C' Peng Special

I love this drink!  It's called Three Layer Iced Tea, also known as Teh 'C' Peng Special.  For some, it's Sarawak Three Layer Iced Tea.  As far as I know, 'C' stands for 'cair', a malay word referring to 'susu cair'; the evaporated milk, as opposed to the condensed milk, referred to as 'susu pekat'.  Of course some articles explain that 'C' refers to 'Carnation', the brand of the evaporated milk.

The word 'peng' comes from the Hokien dialect which means iced.  Some Sarawakians also use 'peng' to refer to 'turned turtle' in car accidents.  Don't ask me why.  Maybe 'peng' came from the sound that follows, like 'kapow' or 'bang' or 'boom', big badda boom!

Ok, enough with the sound effect.

I'm not very sure if this drink originated from Sarawak but it is very popular there.
.Ok, I Googled (after one hour of research and distraction), some swear its Sarawak, Kuching to be specific.  At a 7th mile coffee shop called 7th Mile Food Court.

Before my research and distraction I was pretty sure the drink is poured starting from the top layer downward, i.e. starting with the tea, then the evaporated milk and finally the palm sugar, due to the different density of the ingredients.  Palm sugar being the most dense is poured last, after the evaporated milk and tea. However, all of the articles I found about this drink (maybe I haven't seen'em all) say the preparation starts with palm sugar poured in over ice cubes first, then the evaporated milk followed by the tea; all with slow pouring motion to avoid mixing of the layers, hence the three layers. But hey, what does it matter when you have to stir for a thorough mix before consumption. 

But hey again, it does matters when you have '3 Layer Tea' in your menu.  Nuff said.

I've tried to recreate this drink only to fail time and again.  It's not the layers that bugs me the most.  You see, the palm sugar I used is actually 'gula melaka' found here in the KL.  They come in dark brown cylindrical shape, about the size of a kopitiam coffee cup and they're usually hollow in the middle.  Back in Sarawak people use 'gula apong'; essentially palm sugar but prepared differently, and it taste different as well. Some call the palm sugar 'gula atap', which I'm pretty surre its the same thing, or maybe I'm completely wrong.  It's been a long while since I 'balik kampung' you see.

Fortunately, thanks to several articles I Googled, the palm syrup is conveniently packed and sold in grocery stores and supermarkets.  Now if I could only recall seeing them here in KL before.

Nope, not in KL.  Apparently, this product is only available in Sarawak.  One of the manufacturers, in fact, the only manufacturer I found listed on the net is Leaves Food Industries. Maybe it's time I give them a call, because to me, the most important ingredient in Teh 'C' Peng Special is the palm sugar. It gives the drink that smoky coconut flavor which people so love about the drink.  The taste is like a cross between chendol and iced tea., Well, maybe if you pour milk tea over the chendol juice, you'd get the same taste.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What kind of fish head do you serve?

The famous kind.

This fish head noodle outlet is a branch of the famous one in Jalan Alor.  How do we know it's famous? Well, because the name says so.  It's located at 73, Jalan SS21/60, Damansara Utama, PJ.


I had the fresh fish head noodle instead of the fried. I like my fish fresh. As I dug and ploughed through my bowl, I discovered huge chunks of fish meat.  As much as the vermicelli noodle. I even had my very own fish eye. How delightful!  Most of the fish meat have skin and fat around it too, so it's excellent by me.  The creamy soup is standard fare and the spicy sambal belacan is fair.
Oh, and I had the most sour Sour Plum with Limau Kasturi drink I've ever tasted.  Maybe it was necessary for the fishy after-meal smell.It was a good meal at a good price. 

I don't mind calling it famous at all. The shop was half full with people at 3pm, way after lunch hours.