Thursday, June 18, 2015

Franco @ 1Utama

From top left clockwise: Lobster bisque pasta, signature French toast, spaghetti yumeina, macha souffle, squid ink rice.
Where I work, management has given each team a quarterly budget, to be used as an incentive to bring everyone out for a good makan session, and just get away from the office for a while. This quarter, just before the fasting month kicked in, I brought this incentive up to my team and said "Let's go MAKAN!"

We decided to head to Franco @ 1Utama (formerly known as Miam Mian), a French-Japanese cafe with a charming ambiance and fusion food. Reading the reviews online also helped us decide on the location.

The lobster bisque pasta was delicious, flavourful and seasoned nicely. Did you say lobster? GST-exempt?! That's not lobster meat on top of the pasta, that's just one large tiger prawn. The other pasta dishes we had were also quite unique in its flavour, although I found the tomato based pastas a little sweet for my liking. The squid ink rice was rather different, wasn't sure what sort of rice they used to make the dish. Good thing I wasn't wearing black that day.

For dessert, I ordered their signature French toast and macha souffle, and both didn't disappoint. I especially liked the macha souffle, left a really warm feeling in my tummy.

The overall experience in Franco is good, though I have to caution you, the prices there are a little on the steep side for pastas (RM 25 and above). The lobster bisque paste was RM 38++, and desserts were above RM12. Fortunately, they too offer lunch sets on weekdays to attract the working crowd, and at RM19.90++ for the lunch set (one main + one drink), I think that's pretty decent considering the rise in living cost these days (that's another story altogether).

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Salmon Teriyaki

We've had the opportunity to buy a whole salmon from the newly opened Village Grocer @ Atria, Damansara Jaya. We couldn't resist the promotional price they were offering (whole fish for RM35.90/kilo), so we whacked one large fish back home. We had requested they fillet the whole fish for us, which makes for easier storage and cooking! I'm going to share a salmon teriyaki recipe, which I learnt from Gordon Ramsay.

Salmon fillet for two
2cm ginger finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbps soy sauce
1.5 tbps maple syrup (I didn't have maple syrup with me, so I used honey)
1 tbps mirin
Some olive oil

In a bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, maple syrup/honey and mirin together. This is going to be your teriyaki marinade. Clean and pat dry the salmon fillet, and place them into a deep dish. Pour the marinade over and cover with cling wrap, marinate for up to two hours (or at least 20mins). I had  marinated it overnight, Which got me a little worried as I was worried if the fish might get too salty overnight. It didn't taste salty, but I think the next time I cook this dish, I'll marinate it for 2 hours max to try how the flavour would be like.

In a pan, heat up some olive oil and when the oil is hot enough, place the salmon skin side down onto the pan and sear it. After a few minutes, pour the remaining marinade on top and allow the salmon to cook until it's opaque halfway. Flip it over and cook for a few more minutes until the fish is done. Serve with a hot bowl of rice and some vegetables.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Risotto with Pork Broth, Bacon, Mushrooms and Carrots

Image from Google
Do you like risotto? We like it, and I used to buy the pre-pack risottos from the supermarket. The ones where the rice is already parboiled, and all you add is just water, and stir it for about 15mins for the rice to fully cook. The brand Scotti is easily found in major supermarket chains, and I used to buy them whenever I felt like having risotto at home. One day I decided to make risotto from scratch, you know, experimenting in the kitchen. Since learning about making risotto from scratch, I have not bought a ready mix :P

Arborio rice is unlike your usual white jasmine rice. It is an Italian short grain rice, and you don't have to rinse it because you will wash of the starch, and you will want that starch when making risotto. Riso means rice in Italian. If you're not into starchy rice, you can substitute arborio rice with brown rice.

1 cup arboria rice (for two pax)
1 tbps butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced.
1 medium size yellow onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
2 slices of bacon, cut into smaller bits
4-5 shiitake mushrooms, diced (or use white/swiss brown mushrooms)
1 litre pork broth (I used Knorr pork cubes. You can use any kind of broth)

Pan fry the bacon, then set aside.
Heat up some butter and olive oil in a deep pan or glass pot. Add the garlic and onions and saute until fragrant. Then add the arborio rice, be sure to stir it to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom. Add a cup of white wine here if you wish, but I didn't have any white wine when I was making this dish, so I skipped it. Keep stirring the rice to allow it to absorb all that butter olive oil garlic essence for a few minutes. Then, spoon a ladle of broth into the rice, and keep stirring it. When the rice is looking dry, add another ladle of broth. The rice will take 20-30 minutes cook, hence the occasional stirring. When the rice is near done, add the carrots and mushrooms, and a sprinkle of black pepper to taste. Dish and serve.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Honey Soy Sauce Chicken Wings

Yes it's been a while since my last recipe post, I've been busy and lazy, neglecting my blog yes I know. I'll make it up to you by sharing this honey soy sauce chicken wings recipe, because it's just so easy and yummy to make! credits to Rasa Malaysia.

5 pcs chicken wings (split into two: wings and drummet - you get 10pcs after splitting them, good for two pax)

1 tbps soy sauce
1 tbps rice wine
1/4 tbps sesame oil
1 inch ginger, finely minced
A dash of white pepper

Glaze (cook the glaze until the liquid thickens)
1.5 tbps honey
1 tbps soy sauce
1/2 tbps mirin
1/2 rice wine

Pat dry the chicken wings and marinade them at least 30 minutes or overnight. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C for 20 minutes, lay the chicken wings onto an oven proof tray . Bake the wings for 10mins, then brush the glaze on them to continue baking for another 10mins. Continue this step until the chicken wings are a little charred (not burnt). Remove from the oven and sprinkle white sesame seeds on top for garnishing.

If you don't want to use the oven for this recipe, you can pan fry the wings until golden brown. Set the wings aside, and in another clean pan, heat up the glaze until it thickens. As the sauce thickens, place back the wings into the pan and coat evenly. Sprinkle white sesame seeds on the wings and serve.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mi Fit Band

I've gotten my hands on some wearable technology, surprised hubby with one set too :P At RM 59 per band, the Mi Band worth discovering and giving the product a shot, kan?

Depression Is Real - RIP Madison Holleran

I came across this line while reading an article this morning, and it rang a huge bell in my head, that this statement carries so much truth in it.
Everyone presents an edited version of life on social media. People share moments that reflect an ideal life, an ideal self.
If the article is too long for you to read, I'll give you a quick summary. Madison is a very pretty college student, who seems to have everything running smoothly in her life. Her struggles in college began to show via her photos and interaction with her family. Despite the pictures she shared on social media, Madison is going through a tough time fitting in, trying to find her place in college and society. Things got so overwhelming, and at 19 years old, she jumped from the 9th floor of a parking garage in downtown Philadelphia.

Madison's last Instagram photo, posted an hour before she took her own life.
I can fully comprehend the struggles Madison was going through. When a person is suffering from depression, everything seems to be in 50 shades of grey (and I don't mean that damn book). You have so much pent up frustration and fear, that when you want to bring it out, and nobody seems to be able to understand you.

People start judging you when you try to pour your fears out. They might say things like "You're thinking too much.", or "You'll get over it."

Depression is not something you switch on and off. To some, depression may seem like a form of mental disorder. I see depression as an overwhelming feeling of sadness and helplessness that could drive a person suffering from it, down a vortex of dark despair. And because people with depression fear being judged by the world, most will mask their sadness and despair with happy faces and pictures. Until everything is too late.

I took about 8-9 months to fully get myself out of depression, which I slipped into after my third miscarriage back in 2012. I spiraled down the ugly vortex of hopelessness, of blame and pain. Many ugly words were said to me (which didn't help the situation at all), and all I felt was, I wanted to die. The turning point came when my mind started having fleeting thoughts about suicide. The thoughts shook me, made me jump out of my skin. I didn't think I would ever have the words suicide cross my mind. I had always thought people who commit suicide were selfish people, leaving their loved ones behind to deal with the pain and sadness. I stand corrected.

Things have improved a lot since I stepped out from the deep hole, I'm feeling a lot better about myself and of my life. I do hope the world and society will take more heed into looking at symptoms of depression in a person, it's not about pumping a patient with anti-depressants (they don't work shit). Depression is real, and with the world going more topsy turvy, we can expect to see a lot more cases in the near future.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Thinking Of You

I'm suddenly missing of three of you so badly. My thoughts turn to you when I least expect it, and sometimes the feeling is just so overwhelming, that tears start to well up in my eyes and I would just start sobbing. 

Not a day goes by that I do not think about the three of you. I would sometimes ask myself, how different would our lives be had either one of you, or all three of you, are alive today with us. Sometimes I would wonder, are you happy? Are you well taken care of? Have you found each other? Are you loved?

I know these questions are futile, but one can't help but wonder at times. I'm sorry I cannot be there to watch you grow. I'm sorry I cannot be there to cuddle and hold you when you're afraid of the dark. I'm sorry I cannot be there to take you to kindergarten or to walk to you to school, or take you to the play ground and watch you swing as high as you can to reach the skies. I'm sorry if my body wasn't able to sustain you long enough for you come into this world, I tried. I'm sorry if you're angry with me, I'm sorry you didn't choose me. I hope that wherever the three of you are, I want you to know that I hope that the three of you have found loving homes, and will always, always be happy. I love you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Robata Monkey @ Jaya One

For our 10th ROM anniversary this year, I suggested to hubby we head over to this new Japanese establishment in Jaya One for some grilled seafood.  From the same people behind Kissaten @ Jaya One, now they bring you Robata Monkey. This is an excerpt from the Facebook page:
Robata Monkey is a robatayaki style izakaya. We serve a careful selection of local & imported Japanese fresh seafood, juicy meats & seasonal vegetables grilled over an OPEN SANDPIT HEARTH. This cooking method is keeping with the traditional robatayaki style, which originated in rustic farmhouses throughout Sendai.
And yes, this is the actual sandpit with my salmon belly cooking there. I was standing behind the counter and I could feel the intense heat from the sandpit already, so you might not want to sit at the counter lest your mascara stands melting while you wait for your meal.

Let's go to the food. During lunch they have a selection of set lunches which will go down well for the working class around Jaya One, as it provides you with a full bento lunch set for a reasonable price. If you are more adventurous, go for their ala carte stuff.

As their menu says, Robata Monkey specializes in izakaya style, which in Japan means small establishments which serve you small bites and beer to go along with the food. Except for this case in Robata Monkey, you can opt for full bento sets when available (and the sets are generous).

Clockwise from left: Tune cheeks (sushi), sabayaki bento lunch set, ebi tempura, kakiage tempura (mixed vegetables tempura), grilled salmon belly, grilled unagi.

Price point is slightly on the higher side (unagi is RM 48), but the food quality does make splurging once a while worth it. Our total bill came up to about RM 130 for all you just saw in the picture above.

Monday, March 16, 2015

In Stitches

Updating the blog with a story about stitches.

So hubby was in the kitchen cutting up a watermelon, while I was in the living room - When suddenly, I heard a loud clang, like some metal had just hit the floor. The loud clang was followed by a loud groan of pain. I rushed into the kitchen and discovered my husband was sitting on the floor, holding on to his right foot and was using a kitchen towel to clutch onto his right foot. And there was some blood splatter on the floor.

First response: Get the knife out of the way and get the first aid kit from the cabinet.
Second response: OH SHIT! (this was after seeing the blood on the floor - I didn't faint, I'm fine with blood)

I grabbed more kitchen towels and handed them to hubby, as he sat there applying pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. He kept reassuring me he was alright (which I'm sure he was, but still!). As I picked up the knife I saw that there was a bit of blood at the tip, which meant as the knife fell, the sharp end probably cut his foot as the knife landed on the floor.

I dropped the knife into the kitchen sink, grabbed more kitchen towels and proceeded to clean the floor. Then I rummaged through the first aid kit to see if there was any anti-septic cream or yellow solution to clean the wound. I did have a cream but it had expired. So I got some yellow solution from my next door neighbour. As we cleaned the wound and applied the solution, I unrolled some gauze and tape and wrapped my husband's leg with them. I wanted to take him to a nearby clinic or maybe the nearby hospital emergency ward, but he said he was OK and there was no need for that (it was rather late at night).

The next morning we woke up early and checked the wound, which was a little swollen around the area of the cut, but showed no signs of infection(which is good news!). I decided to take hubby to our regular GP in Damansara Uptown anyway, to get things checked out. There was no infection, but because the knife did cut a little bit of a small vein on the foot, so doctor needed to stitch things up and also have hubby a tetanus jab just in case (3 stitches). Poor boy was in agony each time the nurse cleaned the wound with the alcohol swab. Stitches will be removed in 10 days time, and he has to go back for a checkup in a few days. He's going to limping for a few days at least, no badminton or sports until full recovery in a couple of weeks.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sabah Kampung Beef Noodles (Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap) @ Kota Damansara

Ngiu Chap from Sabah Kampung Beef Noodles @ Kota Damansara

If you've been to Kota Kinabalu, you might have had a taste of one of the local favourites before: ngiu chap. Essentially it is a bowl of hearty beef broth with noodles with beef stew, beef tripe, all things beef lah.

We were introduced to this hearty bowl several years ago during one of our many trips to Sabah, and love every mouthful of it. Problem was, we don't have it back in KL. So when I first heard of this place in Damansara Perdana, I consulted a friend living at that area, this which he replied it was only so-so by his standard. Instead, he advised me to go to Kota Damansara to get my fix of ngiu chap.

The location of Sabah Kampung Beef Noodles is not hard to find. It's currently occupying a corner shop lot right opposite PappaRich, easy enough to find. Parking might prove to be more a headache, as Kota Damansara is a crowded area, so be prepared walk a bit. I was around that area on fine Sunday to see my optician, so I suggested to hubby to try this ngiu chap place.
This huge bowl of ngiu chap from Sabah Kampung Beef Noodles (Kah Hiang Ngiu Chap) cost RM13.90, and you get a generous bowl of awesomeness. Pick your noodle of choice (lai fun, yellow noodles, kuey teow, mihun), and patiently wait for your bowl to come to you. Generous portions of beef stew, beef tripe, beef slices and some beef balls make this hearty bowl of goodness. The beef broth is flavourful (we didn't feel very thirsty after eating it, so it's a good sign the restaurant probably didn't load on MSG so much), and the beef stew was tender to the bite. And to be honest, I couldn't finish the noodles, I think I left half a portion of noodles in my bowl after eating all that meat!

They also have an option of the same item without the noodles, but that will set you back RM 16.90. How come, you ask? This is because the soup version comes with 11 different beef items, where else this bowl of ngiu chap only had 4 items in it (beef stew, beef tripe, beef slices and beef balls). I prefer the beef balls from Soong Kee SS2, it's much springier than the ones at Sabah Kampung.

So, if you're craving for some good ol' ngiu chap, look no further, now you can get it right here in Petaling Jaya. Don't forget to try the ngiu chap with their Kah Hiong chilli paste, it's really spicy! And I was told Sabah Kampung has a branch in Puchong too.