Buka Puasa @ Paya Serai, Hilton PJ : A Taste of Kampung

Buka Puasa, which means literarily ‘to open the fast’, is done in the month of Ramadhan. Malaysia, has a big percentage of people who are Islam that observes this fasting in the day and break their fast at Maghrib (sunset) prayer time. Being part of this multi-cultural country, the rest of us non-Muslims couldn’t help but also join in the feast that comes with the buka puasa. These elaborate meals are mostly for the community to get together and nurture fellowship. In Malaysia it also tops to nurture the sense of Muhibbah (living in harmony) between all of us. Here for the elaborate meals we can have from the roadside Bazaar Ramadhan (local food market that only opens during these times) to restaurants featuring various promotions to fine dining and buffets that cater specially for this. At these times the feasting was great as various hard to get authentic local dishes will gather in one or few places for us to savour.

Therefore when I was invited to have a Ramadhan buffet review in Paya Serai, Hilton PJ, I knew I would be in for a great feast and thus accepted eagerly. Boy was I right! The buffet spread headed by Chef Noor Hisham definitely did not disappoint as it offers extravagant spread of over 100 local and international cuisines. Apparently it changes every week but at the time that I went is enough for me to think that I covered most of the important dishes in Malaysia. As I walk from the buffet line inside to the outside where they had set up mini stalls, nicely decorated with kampung (village) style and serving local delights had me gush with excitement, mentally noting to taste everything, well almost.

As I was taking pictures earlier before the buka puasa starts, a man was curious to why I was doing the picture shootings thus I explained that I am a food blogger here for review. Then straight away he gushes on with the reason why he came here for buka puasa and it had been one of his favourite choices because here is where you can find the real authentic taste of Malay food. He added that you may find the same dishes in other buffets but none can compare to the real taste here and to top it off the variety we can find here as well. Being suddenly really tham jiak and focusing on what I would eat soon I actually forgot to ask the name of this young man that gave me the secret information, thus I hope if you are reading this and you recognise your praises do drop a comment here!

Buka Puasa @ Paya Serai, Hilton PJ
Buka Puasa @ Paya Serai, Hilton PJ

Armed with this new information, I resolved to taste all the local Malay dishes above anything else. Here you would be able to get all the authentic kampung dishes in one place! I started with the scrumptious appetisers of Buah Jeruk, Acar Rampai, Kerabu Pucuk Ubi, Kerabu Nangka, Taufu Sumbat and Sup Ekor. I am totally a fan of all these acar and kerabu dishes, which are sweet, sour and slightly spicy, it is a delight to the tongue, truly something Malaysian. Honorouble mentioned also goes to the Sup Ekor (oxtail soup) that was so rich and flavourful, I just had to lap it all up.

Main Course, Buka Puasa @ Paya Serai, Hilton PJ
Main Course, Buka Puasa @ Paya Serai, Hilton PJ

For the main course I zoomed in on all the Malays dishes again, ranging of Nasi Lemak with sambal sotongbeef rendang, ikan masak lemak (fish curry), assam prawns, lemang, serunding daging (dried beef flakes), kacang botol and satay. At the ‘live action’ stalls that I mentioned, you get chefs cooking and serving you freshly made food Kambing Panggang, Roti Jala, Putu Piring, and Murtabak. Here notably with tham jiak stars was the nasi lemak with sambal sotong (spicy squid) as the sambal was really good and the sotong cook till tender, it was almost perfect except the absence of wrapping in banana leaves. Another noted was the roti jala was done really well too, I had second helpings of it. The satay (barbecued meat on stick) were tender yet crunchy on the outside got the thumbs up from me.

Dessert, Buka Puasa @ Paya Serai, Hilton PJ
Dessert, Buka Puasa @ Paya Serai, Hilton PJ

At the end for dessert, time for me to open up the other section of my stomach, we had so many local choices again like Bubur Pengat Pisang, Bubur Durian and many more Buburs in a row, freshly made Apam Balik, Tapai Ubi and Malay Kuihs. From here I must say I love the Pengat Pisang which was not overtly sweet as the usual that I found and the texture of it was just right, and the Bubur Durian, which was also not too sweet and with the pungent taste of this king of fruits that doesn’t overpower but it doesn’t hide as well. A second helping of this Bubur Durian seals my kampung feast of tonight nicely.

Thanks again to Frat and the lovely ladies of Zest PJ for the invite to this wonderful Ramadhan buffet. Indeed it was a scrumptious meal and it made this tham jiak very happy to be able to taste so many authentic Malay dishes at one go. For those who would also want to buka puasa here or just to join in the fellowship as well, here are the information:

First 3-days of Ramadhan
Adult: RM75++
Child (below 12 years old): RM45++
The next one-week
Adult: RM99++
Child (below 12 years old): RM59++

The following weeks
Adult: RM109++
Child (below 12 years old): RM69++

More information at Zest PJ

Paya Serai
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat,
46200 Petaling Jaya,
Malaysia
603 7955 9122 extn. 4260/1

Chow-what? Chowtut!

Chow what? You heard me right, chowTUT! When I first heard of this word I thought, chow as in a meal and tut as in censored where you’re suppose to insert profanities here. So what is there to swear about food? Oh my, trust me, after the chowtut session, you would start swearing too, for being condemned to your chair permanently, or at least for a significant amount of time.

But by the definition of the originators, Integricity employees, here is the real meaning behind Chowtut:

CHOWTUT [chow-tut]
– noun / verb
An excessive dose, especially of food or alcoholic beverage
“Wahhh! Last night I chowtut at Changkat!”
“That fella sleeping la… he chowtut for lunch”

In short according to Frat, it is “The ultimate smorgasbord of orgasmic-tut (real censoring here)-fingerlickin’good-auntieonemoreplate food all in one place… at the same time.”

So the very lucky people of the Integricity, would have a quarterly chowtut on good foods from various, and various is by the meaning of nearly all over Klang Valley, in one place – their office. How is that? Early before the traffic of long Friday lunches are out in our lazy Malaysian afternoon, few designated employees don their sunglasses, zip up their jackets and rev up their super bikes (exaggeration alerted), and zoom off to their respective assignments of various eateries, from nearby Uptown to TTDI to Bangsar and all the way to the heart of KL – Tengkat Tong Shin and also span out to even Batu Caves, just to pack their said important orders and then brace the starting-to-form-traffic back to the office.

After that scene I was stuck. You see, this tham jiak here took for granted that she could reach the food haven in 30 minutes (she forgot it’s a Malaysian Friday!) and so she had to crawl through the traffic, staying cool with promises to self of many good food to come. She was already forming the heart-stopping-artery-clogging spread of food in her mind and boy, when she arrived, she found herself reliving her imaginations, albeit a bit massacred. You see, upon arriving fashionably late of 30 minutes, the wonderful spread has already been butchered to near oblivion, so no acceptable pictures could be captured but fret not (pun intended), her trusted friend Frat shall supply her with drool-worthy pictures, taken by him plus stolen from his friend, Nigel. Without further hesitation, tham jiak threw her belonging away and start digging in, before all there was nothing left!

She bit her tongue, “mmm, where to start”

Somebody whispered behind her ear “you got to get the char siew, it is reaallllyy good, and it is nearly finished!”. A hand from somewhere, just like an angel, points towards the said precious meats. She zoomed right on it and grabbed a few, nearly all but conscience got the better of her, then she bit into the juicy meat and she was at a sudden revelation – the feast had finally begun!

Char Siew Wantan Mee @ 747 Kopitiam (SFS), PJ
Char Siew Wantan Mee @ 747 Kopitiam (SFS), PJ

747 Kopitiam (SFS)
Jalan PJU 1/3C,
Sunway Mas Commercial Centre.

Next on her plate was this unassuming looking noodle, but not to be misled by its looks, it was really more-ish kind of tasty! The mee mamak was special in its way, sort of fried with a Chinese flare but in a good way. Then on the other hand there was the undisputable Sang Har Hor Fun, with huge freshwater prawns on top of soupy flat rice noodles, it was as good as it looks, on contrary you can judge this book by its cover! Time to head all the way to Batu Caves for lunch one of these days! Maybe on another long lazy Friday lunch, any takers?

Sang Har Hor Fun @ Pan Heong Restaurant, Batu Caves
Sang Har Hor Fun @ Pan Heong Restaurant, Batu Caves

Pan Heong Restaurant
No 2, Jln Medan Batu Caves 2,
Batu Caves, Selangor
03-6187 7430
8 am- 3:30pm

While deciding to pour more good stuff onto the plate or not, tham jiak just had to sit down and start devouring first. Then suddenly she saw right in front of her, the golden buttery squid, she just had to poke one and put it into her mouth, and oh my, was it good – crispy then chewy at the same time all creamy and buttery, ah, such bliss. Also from this restaurant that she have blogged before was the fried pork yee mee (egg noodles), which tasted sinfully good, just slightly on bitter side though.

Buttery Squid and Fried Pork Yee Mee @ Mama’s Kitchen, TTDI, KL
Buttery Squid and Fried Pork Yee Mee @ Mama’s Kitchen, TTDI, KL

Mama’s Kitchen,
48, Jln Datuk Sulaiman,
TTDI, 60000 KL
03-7729 3030l

Then she saw Jek, who is happily biting on his deep fried chicken, the tham jiak just had to have one too! She had these before, nicely fried with secret (as she cannot name what are they, she just know their good) spices and was glad to have them again in free-flow sort of way. She ate one. Finished everything else, and took another one again. Then she rested, or rather her tummy did, and then she had another one of these. Yes, it was that addictive!

Fried Chicken @ Village Park Restaurant, Damansara Uptown, PJ
Fried Chicken @ Village Park Restaurant, Damansara Uptown, PJ

Village Park Restaurant
5, Jalan SS21/37,
Damansara Utama,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
03-77107860
7 am to 8pm daily,
7 am to 6 pm on Sunday/Public Holiday

Then finally, she stood up from the remnants of her food on the plate to go get the rest of the soupy goodness. She found a cute orange bowl, thankfully, and heads on to get her fair share of our very own famous Malaysian dish – bak kut teh. Ah, as FBB say, can’t go wrong with this one from Teluk Pulai, and also thanks to boo for going all the way to get it and then even sponsor it! Some say she had just bought a permanent ticket to all future chowtuts at Integricity, I better think of my ticket for the next one, wouldn’t want to miss it!

Teluk Pulai Bak Kut Teh @ Klang
Teluk Pulai Bak Kut Teh @ Klang
Krispy Kreme @ Malaysia
Krispy Kreme @ Malaysia

Last but not least, some sweetness to end a meal (or was it multiple meals in one sitting?), there were doughnuts! Though she would love to have the chocolatey creamy one that Jek ate or rather lap up, those were so popular she was just left with either the plain or the chocolate glaze, she had to go for chocolate, you know her the chocoholic!

Krispy Kreme
Midvalley or Berjaya Times Square

Oh yes, that is Frat with the doughnuts, she suspected he was guarding the chocolatey creamy ones for his master Jek, ah he forgot about her on this one! Maybe this can be an excuse for tham jiak to make him give her a ticket for the next chowtut. Now after having a session of her first chowtut, this tham jiak totally understand now the meaning of “An excessive dose, especially of food or alcoholic beverage” and totally up for the next round of chowtut!

PS: Pictures are courtesy of Frat and Nigel

PPS: Fellow chowtutties (term from lemongrass) blogs on this:

FatBoyBakes

Boo-licious

Mr. Cheong

Nigel

Frat Mustard

Best Nasi Lemak @ Port Dickson : Of Black Sea and Fatty Rice

I mentioned that I had a weekend getaway last month, taking advantage of the long weekend where everyone seems to be on holidays which are from Christmas to New Year’s day. I took two days off in between and voila, I have a break of 6 days consecutively (including weekends). So a bunch of us took the opportunity and brave the traffic and the crowd to Port Dickson, down south in Negeri Sembilan, not for the beach but just for the sake of getting out of the city.

Why not the beach? Oh well Port Dickson is a famous beach side stop for most locals in KL and its neighbouring towns, so much so that now it is to the brink of I-would-not-swim-in-it-for-the-life-of-me level. Anyhow, as it is just an hour drive from the city, many still return there for a short urban escape. There are still some preserved beaches by resorts that are still beautiful; I had a team building once from my previous company at one of the posh resorts where the sands are still soft and the sea is still blue. For most of the other commercial hotels though, the sands are black and the sea is of deep murky all-sorts-of-color, and that is when I have not even talk about the common beach yet. Let’s not go there, literary or not. So if you ever plan to come to Malaysia and her beach, try Pulau Redang instead; I went there for a holiday once and I felt that I had been to a place where people featured in postcards. Its difference with Port Dickson was like heaven and hell. It does no justice to Malaysia tourism if you come to Port Dickson for the beach. Let Port Dickson stay as our locals’ desperate getaways or just lazy holidays.

Since it is non-touristy like, there are still many locals that are still around, who should be smart enough to stay out of the beach. So early in the morning, J and I walked out of our Glory Beach Resort, down the street to the nearby shop houses in search for food. Beside the main road, before the shop houses, we found a stall selling our Malaysian most famous breakfast, Nasi Lemak (fatty rice), which is actually rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves and usually served with sambal! The stall was run by a little family of grandmother, daughter and son. I was so excited to have this food find, as it is rare for us to eat at these kinds of stalls, where the food is home made by a grandmother through her years of well experienced cooking. The food would be true Negeri Sembilan (the state) style, untainted by advancement or fusion of any kind. This would be just the way I like it.

Nasi Lemak Stall @ Port Dickson
Nasi Lemak Stall @ Port Dickson

I ordered Nasi Lemak with something very similar to Ayam Masak Merah (red cooked chicken) which is actually chicken cooked with chilli and tomato. The rice is fluffy, not superbly lemak (fatty from the coconut milk) yet still very aromatic of coconut and pandan leaves. The sambal was really spicy; a great kick for a chili lover like me and the chicken was fantastic. I am not kidding you here. It had been such a long time since I get to eat good home cooked Malay food.

Best Nasi Lemak @ Port Dickson
Best Nasi Lemak @ Port Dickson
Nasi Lemak with Rendang @ Port Dickson
Nasi Lemak with Rendang @ Port Dickson

As for J, he ordered the same as mine with extra of Beef Rendang. Oh wow, a taste at his rendang and I instantly regretted not ordering it as well. It was thick, full of spices and with that something extra I could not seem to identify. So I stole a few more spoonfuls and then I bit into it, cockles! Yes, this rendang is cooked with cockles and I was surprised it went so well with the rendang as well as the chicken. Whether this is the Negeri Sembilan style, or south style, I wouldn’t care less now as I know where to find it the next time. Or maybe I can use this idea if I ever cook up another beef rendang.

Kopi Tarik @ Nasi Lemak Stall, Port Dickson
Kopi Tarik @ Nasi Lemak Stall, Port Dickson

Finally we finished off with a nice kopi tarik, prepared the same was as the ubiquitous teh tarik, where the hot drink is poured from cup to cup, pulling (tarik) it really high each time, to cool the hot drink to the right temperature while creating a frothy drink. We had this courtesy from the ‘son’. Certainly different from the usual Chinese coffee shop taste, but still gives a good kick and a nice variety to my usual coffee regime.

Ah, then with our empty tummy filled, and having our fast broken, we walked back cheerily to our resort.

The stall by the road side,
Before the Glory Beach Resort
Batu 2, Jalan Seremban
Tanjung Gemok
7100 Port Dickson
Negeri Sembilan
West Malaysia

Malaysian National Dish?

L came again and saved this blog of mine from mediocrity. I always longed to cook, experiment and blog again but I guess time is not on my side. Besides, food for the week had practically been ‘ta-pau’ed (packed) from my cousin’s housewarming since Sunday. (Yes, we packed a huge amount of leftovers). Then there was some little cooking here and there. I made cheese steak and oyster tomato soup for Valentine, but was too tired and did not have the time to take picture. The steak was good; I planned to do it again one day and then blog about it.

Well, as for now, enjoy another round of L’s eating adventure about a very popular dish, char kuey teow (stir-fried flat noodles), which is known to be the best in Penang, hers is a lightly revamped version being a wet one. Sounds kinky eh?

Sany Café

Sany Café @ Penang
Sany Café @ Penang

The debate raged on which food we should proudly proclaim as the Malaysian national food. The nominees had been roti canainasi lemak and char kuey teow. All three nominees are distinctively Malaysian, each one originated from the three main races in Malaysia, with roti canai an identity to the Indians, nasi lemak, an original Malay cooking and the hot from the wok, char kuey teow of the Chinese. What truly make these food truly Malaysian is that it is consumed by all races and that recipes had assimilated among the people here, sometimes giving a new breath into the menu altogether.

Sany Café, located in Jalan Sungai Dua, right opposite USM is a popular restaurant among students here. Everyone seems to only come here for the char kuey teow or more popularly known as ‘Kuey Teow Basah (wet)’. I was introduced to it late last year when my friends and I went there for supper. I though the dish was like any other kuey teow served in soup, but I was surprised to find out, it is actually char kuey teow served with a lot of gravy.

I was since hooked and always went back for more. Patrons may need to order the large one as the regular one is always too little to satisfy your taste buds and what more, after a long day of classes, you would need more of this delicious dish.

Kuey teow basah is pretty much like the usual Chinese char kuey teow which is usually fried with eggs, bean sprouts, cockles and prawns. The crucial difference is that, like its name, it is served soaking wet with its gravy. People told me, that what makes it so sinfully delicious is that instead of using plain water for its gravy, the cook uses the water that the prawn comes soaked in. It does sound unhygienic, but hey, that’s perhaps the whole selling point of kuey teow basah.

Being Malaysian is truly a blessing. Because when cultures assimilate, the food just always turns out better.

Sany Café
Jalan Sungai Dua,
(Opposite USM)
11700, Gelugor
Penang

Char Kuey Teow Basah @ Sany Café, Penang
Char Kuey Teow Basah @ Sany Café, Penang

Char Kuey Teow (Stir-fried flat noodles)

I noticed I had not been sharing enough recipes nowadays, and so I thought of putting a char kuey teow recipe up, which I always wanted to try but have yet to. Take note that this is the usual dry version, unlike the one L had reviewd. This is from Gina, founder of Kitchen Capers, and I’m sure, since it’s from her, it is going to turn out well and be really delicious. By the way, I heard that the real secret to a tasty plate of char kuey teow is by using lard oil and adding pork lard. It lends a delicious crunch and a distinct taste! I will try it once I have the time. In the meantime, if you did, let me know alright?

Ingredients:
1 kg kuey teow (white, flat noodles)
300 g bean sprouts
200 g tiger prawns
200 g chicken fillet (parboiled in hot water, shredded)
2 stalks of spring onions, chopped (white part only)

2 tbsp Sweet Black Sauce
1 tbsp Fish sauce (or Light Soya Sauce)
1 tbsp Dark Soya sauce

5 tbsp corn oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
200 g fresh cockles (optional, if unavailable in your country)

Method:
In a wok, heat 1 tbsp corn oil and add garlic to stir fry.
Mix all the sauces together.
Add to the noodles and stir well to mix.
Add remaining 4 tbsp of corn oil to stir.
Add prawns and chicken, bean sprouts.
Add 20 ml water and spring onions. Stir to mix.
Lastly, add fresh cockles and briefly stir for about 2 mins.
Turn off fire.

Serve hot to 4-6 people