Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hawker fare in Ipoh

From The NST

John Tiong

Ipoh is a food paradise. JOHN TIONG checks out two places that offer a large selection of local delights and a sampling of international dishes

Yong tau foo is Yeoh’s forte

IF you are in Ipoh and hungry, check out Wooley Food Court or the Gourmet Square in Jalan Lengkok Canning as both places offer a large selection of local delights. They are just a few minutes walk from each other.

While the Wooley Food Court features over 20 stalls offering local fare such as yong tau foo, chicken rice, Indian curry rice and laksa, Gourmet Square has a stretch of some 50 covered stalls with a more international flavour, from pizza and spaghetti to Hong Kong dim sum, Sichuan noodles, Taiwan braised noodles, tom yam and other Thai specialties.

Local cuisine includes the famous Ipoh kai see hor fan (shredded chicken noodles), bean sprout chicken and rice, pan mee, lobak and fried oysters. Malay favourites such as nasi pandan and nasi kunyit as well as nonya kuih are also available.

Wooley has a few stalls serving yong tau foo. One stall worth visiting is Yeoh Kee Kim’s.

Good Food, Good Prices

At Yeoh Kee Kim’s stall, you can have soft and flavourful yong tau foo with a large choice of stuffed vegetables such as brinjal, chilies and lady fingers at 50 sen a piece. He also has minced ikan parang or red snapper rolled in kailan.

Yeoh’s most original creation is three-in-one rolls in which he mixes chicken with fish and prawn. These are priced at one ringgit each. Fu chuk (beancurd sheets), fish rolls, fish biscuits and chicken rolls are the other attractions.

The yong tau foo and other items are served fried or with soup. You can also have kuey teow, bihun, loh shi fun or other side orders.

Yeoh says he uses only ikan parang and red snapper for the stuffing. He does not mix the fish with other ingredients as practised by some hawkers.

“In this competitive business, it is important to make sure your food tastes good. That will get the customers coming back,” says Yeoh who has been in the business for 20 years.

Yeoh also makes his own chili sauce which he says is very important. “It is the chili sauce that ultimately brings out the flavour of the yong tau foo.”

Yeoh’s stall opens from 11am to 6pm. Gourmet Square opens only from 6pm till late at night.

Another place in Ipoh that offers a delicious kai see hor fan is the Restoran Hotel Embassy in Jalan C.M. Yusof in the city centre. The soup is tasty and it comes with a generous helping of kai see (shredded chicken) and bean sprouts — at coffeeshop prices of about RM3.


From The Star

Preserving culture and tradition through unique snack


THE croquette, which is a snack with meat or vegetable base encased with breadcrumbs and deep-fried, may be a French invention.

This is how we do it: (right) Serena making the croquettes with her daughter Renita’s help.

But over the years, through colonisation, word of mouth and cultural influence, the recipe has spread to many countries.

The ingredients have gone through many changes thanks to the different countries that adapted the recipe to its convenience.

At Serena Djatnika’s home, the snack is made during major or minor celebrations, or sometimes just for tea.

Djatnika, an Indonesian who is married to a Malaysian, said, the croquette was brought to Indonesia during the Dutch colonisation and ever since had become part of Indonesian cuisine.

“It had probably started off with the Indonesians working in Dutch kitchens. They picked up the recipe from them and it had stayed over the years because it’s good.

“In my family, we have had the recipe for years; handed down from generation to generation.

“I learnt the recipe from my mother,” said Djatnika who lives at Taman Aman, Petaling Jaya with her husband and four children.

The retired businesswoman said that her early exposure to making the croquettes was when she helped out her maids at the kitchen.

“My father was with the foreign ministry and we used to travel from country to country. So when we had parties, I helped out in the kitchen and that's how I remember making the croquettes,” she said adding that she has yet to come across croquettes or anyone making it in Malaysia.

Simple yet delicious, the dish is made from finely minced chicken, canned mushrooms and onions.

The best combination: The croquettes are usually eaten with gherkin mustard.

Other ingredients include flour, ideal milk, full cream milk, powdered nutmeg, salt, pepper, and Lea & Perrins (L&P) Sauce.

Chicken, mushrooms and onions are fried in butter, then salt and pepper is added and finally the L&P sauce.

Separately, the flour is roasted slowly and milk is added. Once the mixture is blended well, the chicken combination is added and mixed well with some nutmeg.

Ready for action: Dipped in egg, the croquettes are coated with bread crumbs before they are fried.

Using hands, cylinders of about 8cm long are formed with the dough, then each cylinder dipped in egg whites and coated in breadcrumbs before they are deep-fried.

“It is served with pickle made from mustard and gherkins,” she said when StarMetro visited her home for a cooking demonstration.

Helping Djatnika was her daughter Renita Che Wan who had also learnt the recipe from her mother.

Renita said, she and her sister picked up the recipe from their mother when they were teenagers.

“The tradition has to carry on. If my mother didn't make the effort to learn the recipe from my grandmother, it wouldn't have come to me,” said Renita.

The other snack: Pastels, the Indonesian version of curry puffs with beef and egg filling.

Served along with the croquettes was another Indonesian traditional tea-time treat called Pastel - something like curry puff, but only with finely chopped beef, carrot and green beans filling.

“Curry puffs are on the spicier side, the Pastel is a little sweeter because comparatively, Indonesian cuisine is milder,” explained Djatnika as she served us some Indonesian tea.

The 39 Restaurant, KL

From The Star

All for the love of mum

Stylish: Chef Ashar with a plate of Nasi Daging, served contemporary style.

HIS love for his late mother is the main thing in chef Ashar Daud's mind when he is preparing the spread of modern Malay delicacies for The 39 Restaurant in PNB Darby Park.

“I miss my mother,” said the soft-spoken 35-year-old from Kelantan. “I think the dishes she cooked were the most tasty in the world. I don't think I have managed to re-create the lovely flavours, but I have given my best and will work harder in time to come.”

Most of the dishes, which feature traditional goodness in contemporary presentations, are prepared to the recipes of his mother who passed away two years ago.

Ashar has 17 years of experience in Western cuisine to help him conceptualise the menu of modern Malay cuisine that has replaced the restaurant's fusion selections.

“I'd always had the basics of Malay cooking, but had seldom applied them before my mother passed away, even though I loved Malay food,” he reminisced, with a tinge of sadness in his tone.

New look: The Lompat Tikam dessert, served with palm sugar and coconut milk, takes on a modern appearance.

He shared the stories behind some of the dishes, which obviously are the recommended ones.

Gulai Kampung Ayam (Village-style Curry Chicken) reminds him of the Hari Raya he celebrated with his mother.

“I am from a poor family. My mother would slaughter the kampung chicken we reared behind our house only when it was Hari Raya, and she would put many ingredients into the cauldron to cook the dish,” he recalled.

He said Pindang Lautan soup was derived from another “pauper's delight”.

“We could not afford a refrigerator in those days, so my mother would cook fish with salt, tamarind and galangal, and we could keep the dish for two or three days,” he said.

As its name suggests, Ren-dang Warisan (Heritage Ren-dang) is made to a recipe pass-ed down the generations. “Un-like other cuisine, Malay food does not have standard recipes. Rendang, for instance, is different in every state.

“My family recipe does not use spices because we feel that they will overwhelm the flavours of lemongrass, turmeric and other ingredients,” Ashar said.

Wife's creation: Daud uses his wife's recipe when it comes to Cucur Udang.

While his mother is irreplaceable, the other woman in his life has a special place in his heart, too, and Cucur Udang (deep-fried prawns), among others, is prepared to his wife's recipe.

“My neighbour, who is an old man, once requested specifically for my wife's Cucur Udang when he was ill. I was curious so I tasted it, and found that it was really good. “I don't know where she learnt it from, but I guess having a picky husband helps her improve her cooking skills,” he said.

The restaurant that overlooks the city's skyline serves a la carte and buffet meals.

Ashar has given “crazy names” to the dishes and invites diners to have fun figuring out how they would taste.

For example, Kasih Menanti (Love Awaiting) is a dessert made of durian paste and glutinous rice and there are options like Tiga Dara (Three Maidens), Teruna Kampung (Young Man from the Village) and Dusun Pak Mat (Pak Mat's Orchard) to titillate your taste buds and imagination.

THE 39 RESTAURANT, PNB Darby Park Execu-tive Suites, 10, Jalan Bin-jai, Kuala Lumpur (Tel: 03-7490 3939). Business hours: Daily, noon to 3pm (lunch); 6.30pm to 11.30pm (dinner). Closed on Sun-days.

Banquet, Bangsar

Grand banquet

Get ready for a good blend of stylish setting and unpretentious selection of dishes.


1F-28 Bangsar Village II
2 Jalan Telawi Satu
Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (03) 2282 3228


Spicy: The Prawn Noodle has the strong taste of prawn.

What happens when a talented cook and a creative designer join forces? The answer is, a banquet of good food served in a stylish setting. In an outlet named – what else? – Banquet.

It is the latest brainchild of Ben Yeong and Toto Ooi who also own chic Parisian-style eatery, Café Café at Jalan Maharajalela in Kuala Lumpur. We stumbled upon Banquet when we went to check out the newly-opened Bangsar Village 2. The eatery’s pristine white ambience is saved from being cold and clinical, thanks to clever accents such as classy chandeliers and beautiful hand-painted black and white Moroccan-patterned tiles. Its spacious rectangular dining space has a nice outdoorsy feel about it, furnished with comfortable white wicker chairs and marble dining tables in addition to the rows of potted fir trees that demarcate the area.

To reflect the outlet’s colour scheme, the service team is immaculately garbed in white uniforms. It certainly gives us the impression that we are being waited on hand and foot by a battalion of professional cooking experts.

Despite its rather highbrow setting, the menu turns out to be surprisingly down-to-earth, consisting of both Asian and Continental specialities. Chef Yeong has ensured Banquet’s sizeable selection remains rooted in tradition but with a contemporary presentation.

Clipped: These aromatic Chicken Wings are crunchy.
“Even our European-style salads, appetisers and mains will strike a chord with local tastebuds especially Malaysians who are intrepid travellers, said Yeong.

A fine example is the luxurious Pan-Seared Foie Gras. Served with olive oil and fruity apple reduction, this sensational treat is memorable for its light crispiness on the outside while remaining supremely smooth inside. No self-respecting escargot fan should miss the Baked Escargots with Anchovy Garlic Butter. The anchovy-infused butter spread generously on crisp bread slices alone is worth sacrificing your low-fat diet for.

Good salads are hard to come by in KL but I can vouch for the outlet’s imaginative creation of Wild Rocket, Parmigiano, Sliced Pear and Roasted Pine Nuts drizzled with Foie Gras Reduction. With such distinct flavours and textures, it is a clever way of seducing diners into going green.

Deep-fried chicken wings are always a popular choice with Malaysians and we anticipate Banquet’s Aromatic Chicken Wings will enjoy flyaway success. Thanks to its batter concoction that includes ground-salted fish, the juicy wings are not only crunchy but also imbued with an unusual brininess.

All good restaurants should have a unique dish that defines it. In Banquet’s case, the Pasta with Sun-dried Tomato and Duck Skin Croutons fits the bill. Yeong was inspired by an unforgettable peasant dish when he was touring France years ago, “It was a provincial delicacy where they serve fresh slices of baguette together with a huge pot of duck lard. I finally thought of this dish after wracking my brain on what to do with the leftover duck skin from our duck confit.”

He decided to deep-fry the chopped duck skin until crisp and toss them with pasta, olive oil and sun-dried tomato. The simple approach worked like a dream.

Lending a subtle yet well-rounded gamey aftertaste to the pasta, the crispy bits of duck skin emphasises the sun-dried tomato’s delicate piquancy. In turn, the latter tempers the dish’s cloying richness.

Perennial Asian one-dish meals are deftly prepared too. Our vote goes to the Prawn Noodles, which has all the requisite flavours nicely balanced – spicy but with prawn sweetness. According to Ooi, the recipe comes from one of his relatives who runs her own prawn noodles shop back home in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. Served with decent size prawns, blanched beansprouts, sliced chicken and hard-boiled egg, it has quickly emerged as one of the hot favourites amongst Banquet regulars. My only beef is the absence of crispy fried shallots to give the dish that finishing touch.

Luckily, I was appeased by the delectable Mee Jawa, a rare find in new hip joints around Bangsar. I devoured the delicious noodles covered in mildly spicy sweet potato and crab gravy accompanied by sliced fritters and fried beancurd, crunchy flour cracker, prawns and beansprouts.

Classy: Banquet has a white stately interior.

Thai food fans will probably like the Wok-fried Rice Vermicelli for its spicy-tangy nuances. Another tantalising option is the Kedah-style Asam Laksa. Yeong remarked, “The sourish broth is less fishy compared to the Penang version but we are delighted it has become quite a crowd puller.”

No banquet is ever complete without dessert, so don’t miss the outlet’s decadent creations. Good things come to those who wait and, believe me, it’s worth the 15- minute-wait for the Classic Chocolate Cake at Banquet. Here, the melted chocolate with a molten centre is infused with white truffles or peanut butter. The truffle-accented version is to-die-for even though it costs the earth at RM40 a pop.

Equally notable is the Lemon Tart and Tiramisu. The former tastes like a burst of sunshine on your palate whilst the latter is a fabulous ‘pick me up’ thanks to its dulcet smoothness.

Overall, Banquet is well worth a visit if you want a mixture of local and Western fare. Service is prompt and prices reasonable for the quality you are getting.

So go ahead and have a feast at Banquet.

Golden BBQ Steamboat Restaurant, Penang

The key to good steamboat

PENANG folk are famous for recognising a good deal when they see one – especially when it comes to matters of the stomach.

And wallet-conscious gourmands would surely agree that they have found the perfect place in Golden BBQ Steamboat Restaurant.

Wide array: An assortment of food to go into
the pot or grill.

This eat-all-you-can buffet-style fusion restaurant, run by partners Joseph Yeong and Dennis Lim, occupies three lots of the heritage buildings along Nagore Road. This place offers its customers both outdoor and indoor seating options and exudes a welcoming, communal and festive air.

The steamboat set comes with a pot for the soup and a circular grill.

Some steamboat pots come in two halves so that you can choose to dip your sticks into either the clear soup, or the super-spicy Tom Yam soup for which Golden BBQ Steamboat has become famous for.

Diners are truly spoilt for choice, with a plethora of barbecue and steamboat food items to choose from. One will find at least four or five different varieties of marinated beef, fish and chicken; and a grand selection of assorted fruits de la mer. On certain “lucky” days, value for money pickings also include mantis prawns, better known in the Hokkien as heh-kor. A free flow of different types of drinks are also available.

There are also no artificial food enhancers that go into the making of the soups. Yeong reveals without hesitation that, “It’s no secret recipe, we just use lots of fresh ingredients, and put many different types of vegetables into making the stock, with lots of corn included.” Indeed, one can taste the unadulterated flavours that are satisfyingly delicious in their own right.

Come join in: Yeong (left) demonstrating how to cook it right.

A local Penang boy himself, Yeong believes Golden BBQ Steamboat has continued to attract diners because of its authentic food offerings. Golden BBQ Steamboat Restaurant is open from 4.30pm to 11pm daily, except for the first Monday of each month.

For more information, check out the restaurant’s website at .

List of Makan Places

From The Star

A taste of porridge

THE Benteng Coffee House at Quality Hotel City Centre is now offering its Teow Chew Porridge buffet from Monday to Saturday for those who enjoy supper.

The buffet offers rice porridge with condiments like Black Bean Fish, Soya Sauce Chicken Teow Chew, Assam Kembong Fish, Egg with Choy Po, Salted Egg, Salted Fish, Pickle Lettuce, Fried Peanut, Fried Shallots, Spring Onions, Chakoi, Braised Salted Vegetable and lots more.

The buffet is available from 10.30pm to 2am, priced at RM9.90++ per person. Call 03-2693 9233 ext 8023.

Middle Eastern fare

Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur is presenting the exotic cuisine of the Middle East at Planters’ Inn.

The Arabic specialties will feature a healthy combination of herbs and spices.

Chefs have prepared well-loved offerings like Hummus, Taboleh, Fatoush, Magdous, Mojhalil, Dajaj Ala El-fahm, Fasolia Nashfah Bil-lahim, Molokhia Bil-jambari, Khodar Mishakel, Kofta Bil-tahina, Samk Ma Khodra and Roz Shakriah.

For desserts, there’s Baklava, Bashusah, Sharin, Khoshaf and Fawakh to name a few.

The buffet lunch is priced at RM69++ while dinner is at RM79++.

Call 03-2148 2322 ext 3820/ 3821

Thorny delights

Crown Princess Kuala Lumpur has durians for diners at Spring Garden Chinese Restaurant.

The Durian Egg Tart and Durian Pancake are available for eat in or take away, priced at RM10++ per serving.

The tart shells are filled with durian custard while the pancake is filled with lovely durian filling. Call 03-2162 5522 ext 5511.

PINK LOTUS VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT, 32 Batu 5, Jalan Ipoh, KL (Tel: 03-6258 9618/016-274 1190 (Cheng). Business Hrs: Daily, lunch (10.30am-3pm); dinner (5.30pm-11pm). Halal. Ingredients used in the vegetarian dishes are guaranteed of quality and nutritional values. The mock fish is made of fuchok, seaweed and taufu.

SODA CAFE, Lot PT4512, Jalan 23/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, KL (Tel: 03-6201 4029). Business Hrs: Weekdays (11am-midnight); Weekends & Public Hols (11am-1am). A lifestyle café blending food and fashion. Catch fashion shows on the telly or attend the many fashion-related activities.

HIDEKI JAPANESE RESTAURANT, One Bangsar, 63B Jalan Ara, Bangsar Baru, KL. (Tel: 2282 1111) Business Hrs: Daily, lunch (noon-2.30p); dinner (6:30-10.30pm). Offers a unique menu of over 200 dishes created by its master chef complemented with a fine selection of sake, shochu and wine. Weekend Buffet Lunch on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. Daily Set Lunch and Set Dinner available. Private rooms available for corporate or private functions.

LUDHIANA STATION, 28 Jalan Telawi Dua, Bangsar Baru, KL (Tel: 03-2287 1359). Business Hrs: Daily (8am-midnight). A spacious outlet with a large open kitchen. Serves traditional Punjabi cuisine alongside Western and fusion favourites. Breakfast available.

ZOHARA’S RESTAURANT, 9137 Jalan Bandar 4, Taman Melawati, KL (Tel: 03-4106 9137). Business Hrs: Daily, lunch (11am-3pm); dinner (6pm-11pm). Specialises in Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Signature dishes are Mulligatawny Dum Briyani Mutton/Chicken and Sultani Murgh Massalam.

LUCA’S PIZZA RESTAURANT, G02 & G03, Ground Floor, Wisma diCor, Jalan SS17/1A, Subang Jaya (Tel: 03-5631 0505). Business Hrs: Daily (noon-10pm). Halal. Authentic Italian pizza made with imported ingredients. The 37.5cm pizzas with eight different toppings are sold whole or as quarters. Delivers to offices and residences within the area.

ITALIANNIES, F355, First Floor, Rainforest (New Wing), 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Bandar Utama, KL (Tel: 03-7727 1399). Business Hrs: Mon-Fri (11am-11pm); Sat & Sun (10.30am-11.30pm). Halal. Italiannies quaint ambience is conducive for conversations over traditional Italian fare.

D’ FORTUNE WESTERN CUISINE & CAFE, 83 Jalan Radin Tengah, Bandar Sri Petaling, KL (Tel: 03-9058 7851). Business Hrs: Mon-Fri (11.30am-11.30pm); Sat & Sun (11.30am-midnight). Brings to mind scenes of cowboy movies of yesteryear. D’Fortune offers Western cuisine with a local twist like the D’ Fortune Seafood Spaghetti with Cili Padi. Features a different set lunch menu each day.

WENDY’S BISTRO, 20 Jalan PJS8/18, Dataran Sunway Mentari, PJ (Tel: 03-5630 1699). Business Hrs: Daily (11am-11pm). Non-Halal. Incorporates a deli and bar with an extensive menu to boot. Popular for its variety of pork dishes.

BAKERZIN, G-312, Ground Floor Highstreet, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Bandar Utama, PJ (Tel: 03-7729 4493). Business Hrs: Daily (10am-11pm). Halal. Styled after a French teahouse and offers Warm Chocolate Cake Strawberry Shortcake and Creme Brulee. There are breads, soups, salads and sandwiches too.

FOOD FOUNDRY BG-8, Happy Mansion, Jalan 17/13, Section 17, PJ (Tel: 03-7955 3855/03-7955 3885). Business Hrs: Daily (11.30am-10pm). Pork-free. The ideal place for a quiet lunch or afternoon tea. Western, Italian and local delights with top points awarded for the Mille Crepe Cake, made of layers of custard-filled pancakes.

RESTORAN KING CRAB, 103-105 Jalan SS25/2, Taman Mewah Jaya, PJ (Tel: 03-7808 2388). Business Hrs: Daily (11am-2.30pm); dinner (6pm-11pm). Non-Halal. Extremely popular so getting a table requires some waiting time. Some dishes need pre-ordering.

ROYAL CHINA BUKIT BINTANG, 239 1st Floor, Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL (Tel: 03-2142 2625). Business Hrs: Mon-Sat, lunch (11.30am-2.30pm); dinner (6.30pm-10.30pm). Sun & Public Hols, breakfast/lunch (10am-2.30pm); dinner (6.30pm-10.30pm). Non-Halal. Known for its unique Thai-Chinese seafood dishes like Baked Lobster with Butter Thai-Style, Baked Crab with Vermicelli in Claypot and Thai Shark’s Fin Soup.

SAYANG RECIPE, 4 Lorong Ara Kiri 3, Lucky Garden, Bangsar, KL (Tel: 03-2094 0662). Business Hrs: Tues-Sun, lunch (11.30am-2.30pm); dinner (6pm-10pm). Pork-free. Serves traditional Penang Nyonya fare based on recipes handed down the generations.

SRI NYONYA RESTAURANT, 14 Jalan 22/49, PJ (Tel: 03-7875 1031). Business Hrs: Tues-Sun, lunch (12.30pm-2.30pm); dinner (6.30pm-9.30pm). Pork-free. The owners’ family recipes like the Sri Nyonya Fried Chicken and Perut Ikan span four generations. Set Lunch available from Tuesday to Friday at RM10nett per person.

H&H RESTAURANT, 31, Jalan SS21/37, Damansara Utama (Uptown), PJ (Tel: 03-7728 5459). Business Hrs: Daily, lunch (11.30am-2.30pm); dinner (5.30pm-9.30pm). Halal. It enjoys a simple decor with basic lighting and neatly arranged red-topped dining tables with a family theme. Food is cooked according to customers’ preference. Also serves noodles and Western dishes, which are prepared to order. Set menus available. Does catering service for all types of functions.

NEW TASTE STEAMBOAT RESTAURANT, 24 Jalan Siput Akek, Taman Billion, Cheras, KL (Tel: 012-386 2855/016-432 2296). Business Hrs: Nightly (6pm-midnight). Non-Halal. Its speciality is steamboat made with bak kut teh, a soup-base flavoured with 15 herbs and spices. Servings come with a variety of seafood, vegetables and other dishes served with homemade dipping sauces.

AI KOPITIAM, 8 Jalan Serunai 1, Taman Klang Jaya, Klang (Tel: 016-348 8633). Business Hrs: Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun (11am-10.30pm). Pork- & Beef-free. Typical coffee shop with large menu featuring local and Asian dishes.

KAFE SAKURA KRISTAL, 301 Jalan Bandar 11, Taman Melawati, KL (Tel: 03-4108 5897). Business Hrs: Mon–Sat (noon-1am); Sunday (4pm-midnight). Halal. Asian, Thai, Western and Malaysian cuisine with enough options for vegetarians too.

THE RANCH CAFÉ, 14 Jalan Anggerik Vanilla Y 31/Y, Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam (Tel: 03-5122 7706). Business Hrs: Mon–Sat (11am-11pm); Sun & Public Hols (6pm-11pm). Halal. Western food and a segment on Mexican favourites with house specials like Tacos and Sizzling Beef Fajitas.

DECANTER 3, 5 Jalan 17/56, PJ (Tel: 03-7968 1300). Business Hrs: Mon-Sat (noon-midnight) / 7 Jalan Setiakasih 5, Bukit Damansara, KL (Tel: 03-2095 2507) / Decanter Too, Prisma Ville Business Centre, Jalan 19/70A, Sri Hartamas, KL (Tel: 03-6203 5448). Business Hrs: Daily (noon-midnight). Halal. Great ambience, prompt service and ample parking. Choose from over 80 Western and local favourites. Popular for its Oxtail Stew and Penang Assam Laksa.

Tsingtao Beer

From The Star

Getting global recognition

Tsingtao Beer Museum

FOR a long time, Tsingtao's status as the world's top-selling Chinese beer was somewhat hollow because it had gained little acceptance outside China. However, things have changed in the five decades since it began its journey to go international.

Now that it has a toehold in foreign markets, Tsingtao Brewery Co Ltd, based in Qingdao in Shandong province, can now press on for a bigger slice of the pie, particularly in the United States.

Li: Our emphasis is still on the domestic market but our export market remains firm

Says international headquarters vice-general manager Chu Liangjing: “Our priority is to expand our market share to the middle-income group.

“We have enjoyed tremendous success in the US as our beer is sold in many restaurants and outlets. We are now set to carry out a campaign called 'Out of Chinatown To Downtown'.”

Over the decades, he adds, the company has worked extensively with marketing agents and restaurant and supermarket operators to promote and market Tsingtao Lager in the US.

Tsingtao Brewery chief brewmaster Fan Wei says overseas consumers have a good impression of Tsingtao beer and it has become a brand synonymous with the Chinese.

He recalls: “While in the US, I heard a New Yorker saying, 'Tsingtao beer – China's beer' to a Chinese man when they met. I can see that it has a good reputation in the US.

“Tsingtao Brewery must continue to expand and grow as we have a rich history of more than 100 years. We are paving the way for the next 100 years.”

Fan says the company will build on its domination of the domestic market and at the same time, promote the brand internationally.

“We'll continue to improve our management, production, marketing, technical skills and network. Our mission is to use our enthusiasm to brew the beer preferred by our costumers,” he adds.

During the German colonial period (1897-1914) in China, Qingdao – one of the 14 major coastal cities in China – became an important wharf. The Germans have left their mark on the city, and this goes beyond the architecture.

In 1903, the German settlers founded the brewery. Tsingtao Brewery is today funded by the Chinese government and international investors, but it maintains the recipe of its founders.

The old factory in No. 56 Dengzhou Road has been turned into the Tsingtao Beer Museum, where visitors can learn more about the history and production process of the brewery.

“The German influence has taken root in Qingdao. Their brewing and production methods are still evident in our brewery,” says Fan. Much of the machinery and equipment are still imported from Germany.

Tsingtao Brewery imports raw materials from France, Canada and Australia. Fan explains: “This is not to say materials from China are not good. This is simply because the supply from China cannot meet the demand of both the domestic and international markets.

“The Chinese beer industry is growing fast. Beer production in China made up about 14% of the world's total last year. Chinese brewers produced 34 million tonnes of beer, making China the world's largest beer producer. So, when supply cannot meet our needs, we have to import from elsewhere.”

He adds that the domestic supply of raw materials can only cater for 40% of the domestic market's demand. The brewery buys materials from suppliers who can fulfil its needs and offer the best deals.

He notes that there had been revolutionary changes to the company's brewing recipes since 1903 to suit the consumers' preference for light beer.

“The younger generation prefer milder beer and if we produced beer with typical strong German beer, I don't think they would love it. This has affected the sales of German beer in China,” he says, adding that the brewery still produces strong beers for the international market.

Asked about quality control and the spate of negative reports on Chinese products of late, Fan says: “We've exported our beer overseas for so many years and gone through the strenuous tests globally.

“We turn our anxiety into confidence. We have to meet over 1,000 different standards used across the industry. With such standards and our own quality control, I'm upbeat about our overseas sales.”

The brewery began to export its beer to the Britain in 1954 before entering the American beer market in 1972. The beer is now available in more than 70 countries and is the largest beer producer in China.

Tsingtao Brewery operates more than 40 breweries and malt plants in 18 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in China, but none overseas. The company was listed in Hong Kong and Shanghai at the same time in 1993. Even though the company has been exporting its beer abroad over the decades, it has yet to invest heavily in any expansion programme outside China.

But now, the company plans to intensify its global marketing and branding campaign. Says Tsingtao Brewery chairman Li Guirong: “Our emphasis is still on the domestic market but our export market remains firm.

“The Chinese market has a big potential and we should put in more efforts to do well in China but I have not given up on the overseas market.”

He adds that the company is studying various ways to bolster its position internationally, such as by setting up factories and diversifying its production abroad.

In the last five years, Tsingtao Brewery has recorded a two-digit annual growth rate in terms of profits and output volume. The company focuses on the integration of its management and production.

Says Li: “We didn't have any big investment in the past five years. Last year, we had a total gross value of 11bil yuan and a sales volume of 4.5 million tonnes, compared with 8.6 billion yuan and 2.5 million tonnes in 2001.

“You can see we still have some progress even though we didn't invest much.”

“At the end of last year, the board of directors made a decision to move ahead with new strategies, following our results for the last five years. By the end of this year or early next year, we will have the capacity to invest in new factories.”

Li predicts that the growth rate of the company in years to come will surpass that of the past five years. “We expect a 15% to 20% growth rate every year.”

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bite into history

From The Star

At last count, there were more than 100 stalls and restaurants in the country that are over 50 years old, with a handful over a hundred years old, and a dozen edging towards the century marker.

Most of them are trading the same food that they started the stall with, or are carrying on their forefathers’ trade. These dishes have withstood the test of time, and many of them have become famous for the excellent quality of their food.

They have become a part of Malaysia’s culinary heritage, gastronomic bastions proudly weathering the years and changing lifestyles.

Visit these old favourites not just for their culinary offerings, but also for the history that each serves up.

Uniquely flavoured and prepared: The Kimberley Street char kway teow.

Kimberley Street char kway teow
  • A stall outside Kedai Kopi Sin Guat Keong Comer of Kimberley Street and Cintra Street

    One of Penang’s hottest woks, the secret to the longevity of this char kway teow stall lies in the seafood-infused oil that owner Lean Joo Suan uses to fry the flat rice noodles over a charcoal fire. He has been serving up the tasty noodles for the past 51 years.

    Lebuh Carnarvon lorbak

  • Kedai Kopi Seng Thor, 160, Lebuh Carnarvon

    Friendly owner Bor Choo Kooi is proud of the fact that he has been peddling his lorbak, wrapped in banana leaves for a better aroma, since pre-Merdeka days.

    Ever since 1955, his now weathered pushcart has been parked outside the same coffee shop every day, come rain or shine, except during Chinese festival days. Today, business is as brisk as it has ever been.

    Argyll Road roti canai

  • Sheikh Usman Gerai Roti Canai, 67, Argyll Road

    This tiny blue stall sits in the shade of a large pokok sena, and has been both a landmark and a favourite breakfast place for many Penangites since it opened on this road 51 years ago.

    It has plenty of charm and a laid-back, somewhat rustic ambience to it, which draws an eclectic crowd of all races, ages and social backgrounds to enjoy a morning meal of fluffy roti canai (made with two eggs) and some spicy curry.


    Hainanese fare

  • Hai Kee Kedai Kopi Dan Makanan, 80, Jalan Pekan Melayu

    This 72-year-old restaurant is located in a pre-war shophouse with narrow, rickety stairs and creaky floorboards to complete the look.

    The kitchen is equipped with traditional charcoal stoves, and spices and chillies are pounded in a stone mortar and pestle.

    The restaurant was founded by Cheah It Ling’s father. Cheah and his siblings took over the restaurant a few years ago and have no plans to modernise the antique kitchen, insisting that food cooked with these traditional implements taste better. His many loyal regulars – who come here for the traditional kopitiam fare like chicken chop and asam fish – would doubtless agree.

    Hameediyah’s murtabak

  • Hameediyah Restaurant, 164-A, Campbell Street

    This narrow, family-owned restaurant on Campbell Street is over a century old and one of the oldest coffee shops on the island. It wears its age well and has even installed air-conditioning for patrons who want to beat the heat. It is whispered to serve the best murtabak in the country, the meat nicely flavoured with spices and enveloped in a thin, crispy roti.

    Bangkok Lane mee goreng

  • Seng Lee Coffee Shop, 270, Jalan Burma

    Even though this stall is on Jalan Burma, it is known as the “Bangkok Lane mee goreng” . . . because it faces that lane.

    Is this the birthplace of mee goreng? We cannot say for sure but Penangites do not dispute the claim that the stall is the first on the island to sell the Mamak fried noodles, a petty trade which has been in Mahboob Zakaria’s family for 81 years, and started by his father.

    The friendly man speaks Hokkien like a native and is quite the showman, swirling the wok furiously for the entertainment of patrons who line up for his tasty noodles.

    Padang Brown popiah

  • A stall at Padang Brown, Jalan Johor

    The late K. Sulaiman set up this stall here 51 years ago. His simple popiah became so famous over time that he counted members of royalty and VIPs among his customers.

    Originally from Tamil Nadu in southern India, Sulaiman was a dock worker before he ventured into the popiah business, spurred on by his own love for eating the fresh spring rolls!

    He passed away in June 2006, and the stall is now run by his family.

    Majestic rojak

  • New World Cafe, 10, Swatow Lane

    This is Penang’s most famous fruit rojak stall. Before moving to this coffee shop, it operated outside the now-defunct Majestic theatre.

    It was started over 65 years ago by Loh Moon Kan’s mother. Today, he helps his wife Helen Cheah at the stall. His mother’s original recipe for the thick, gooey sauce remains a closely-guarded secret.

    Moh Teng Pheow Nonya kuih

  • 53, Muntri Street

    In the kitchen of the kuih shop run by the Mook family, trays jostle for space with the steamers and huge woks used to cook the traditional cakes and filling for curry puffs.

    The scene hasn’t changed for the past 60 years; these kuih are well-known, and sold all over the island.

    Until 30 years ago, itinerant hawkers were plying the streets carrying the kuih in two trays balanced on opposite ends of a wooden pole (kandar).

    FMS Bar & Restaurant

  • 2, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah (Brewster Road)

    Many claim that this is the oldest bar operating in Malaysia, complete with an antique decor that has survived the ravages of time.

    It is housed in a building built at the turn of the 20th century, and became a bar and restaurant in 1906.

    FMS stands for “Federated Malay States”, a union of states under British administration, one of which was Perak. In its heyday, this colonial institution was frequented by planters and traders, and was a favourite after-match hangout for sportsmen. Today, it remains popular with townfolk.

    Curry mee near the police station (ma ta lui kari meen)

  • Restoran Xin Quan Fang, 174, Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah, Ipoh

    This 60-year-old stall is always called the “curry mee near the police station”. It has moved from its original location, but the new place is just a few doors away, so the nickname still applies. Kok Tong Choon now runs the stall, after inheriting it from his mother. He uses her original recipe, admitting to have tweaked it slightly.

    Yin Yau Kui Hakka Mee

  • 153, Jalan Sultan Iskandar, Ipoh

    In his Chinese village, Foo Yee Hing learned to prepare a dish of Hakka-noodles and meatballs. According to him, the dish was so widespread there that “everybody knew how to prepare it”. He started this stall 51 years ago after moving to Malaysia. This famous Ipoh Hakka mee stall is now run by his three grandsons.

    Just the sight of the nasi ganja makes you drool.

    Nasi ganja
  • Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah, Yong Suan Coffee Shop, 2, Jalan Yang Kalsom, Ipoh

    Now 51 years old, this was the first nasi kandar business to open in town. It is currently run by the founder’s grandson Ahmad Haris; his grandfather originally peddled his rice and curries door to door.

    The nasi kandar is affectionately referred to as “nasi ganja”, thanks to the very addictive sambal accompaniment and deep-fried ayam merah.

    Ipoh white coffee

  • Sin Yoon Loong, 15A, Jalan Bandar Timah, Ipoh

    Ipoh’s famous white coffee kopitiam was opened in 1937. Sin Yoon Loong is located in a part of town known as “old town”, and is always busy. The white coffee is made from beans roasted with margarine but without sugar, giving it a lighter shade.

    Sin Yoon Loong’s coffee is “pulled’’ teh tarik-style, which gives it a lovely, foamy head. Ipoh white coffee has become a much-franchised product around the country but nothing can replicate the experience of having a cup of coffee in this atmospheric kopitiam, permeating with the aroma of roasting coffee.

    Heng Kee claypot chicken rice

  • Wing Loke Yuen coffee shop, 123, Jalan Idris, Kampar

    The origins of the famous claypot chicken rice dish can be traced to this stall in a corner coffee shop, started by owner Lai Lie Kong’s father 51 years ago. As is tradition, the rice is cooked on a charcoal stove. Unlike other dark, soy sauce-doused versions, the fragrant, fluffy rice of the original is white.

    Bismillah Restoran

  • 138, Jalan Taming Sari, Taiping

    Bismillah Eating Shop opened its doors in 1900, and is the oldest restaurant in Taiping and probably the country. It’s famous for its tender beef rendang and fluffy roti canai.

    The pakcik who makes roti here still makes it on a marble table, a rare sight nowadays. The rendang is different from those found elsewhere, and is worth the journey from wherever you are. It must be the country’s best-kept secret.


    Bak kut teh below the bridge

  • Kedai Makanan Seng Huat, 9, Jalan Besar, Klang

    People either refer to this place as the “bak kut teh under the bridge” or “the bak kut teh next to the police station”.

    It’s one of two outlets embroiled in the long drawn-out debate over who is the original inventor of the dish.

    This outlet is 61 years old, and run by the third generation of the Lee family. The herbal soup here is thick, yet light on the palate, and well-infused with herbal flavours.

    The original bak kut teh is always served in small, shallow bowls, not claypots, and with a choice of meats and innards only.


    Yut Kee Restaurant

  • 35, Jalan Dang Wangi

    An old-fashioned Hainanese kopitiam, Yut Kee is affectionately viewed as an integral part of the capital’s history by its many regulars who come here to enjoy pork chops drenched in gravy and accompanied by roti babi.

    It’s over 70 years old, and wonderfully atmospheric with its dark wooden chairs, marble-top tables and peeling paint.

    Jack Lee owns and runs the shop with his family; he inherited it from his father, a Hainan immigrant who opened the shop in 1928. A framed portrait of the elder Lee takes pride of place on one of the walls.

    Coliseum Cafe & Hotel

  • 98-100, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman

    Step into the Coliseum and you are immediately transported to the colonial days. This Kuala Lumpur institution was opened in 1921 and remains a legend to this day.

    It was once the haunt of the British and affluent locals who sipped gin and tonics in the planter’s bar on the ground floor or enjoyed sizzling steaks and chicken chops which the restaurant still serves to this day.

    As the country headed towards independence, the upstairs rooms of the hotel were often occupied by prominent politicians such as the first Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

    Sek Yuen

  • 313-1 & 315, Jalan Pudu

    Looking more like an association house than a restaurant, Sek Yuen is 58 years old and was one of KL’s premier Chinese restaurants in its heyday, a favourite for wedding banquets in particular.

    Should you venture into the kitchen, you’ll see lots of chopped wood stacked in a neat pile because the cooking is still done on wood stoves. There is no menu here but regulars know the good stuff by heart, such as the pipa duck and steamed chicken doused in soy sauce.

    Petaling Street porridge

  • Kedai Hon Kee, Jalan Hang Lekir

    This stall operates out of a small alcove and has been dishing out bowls of steamy porridge for the past 60 years. It’s especially popular with traders in the area. The stall is run by Herbert Wong, a third generation trader.

    Soong Kee Beef Noodles

  • 3, Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin

    Opened in 1945, Soong Kee is regarded as the beef ball noodle pioneer in Kuala Lumpur. This famous outlet, which occupies an old corner shop, draws a huge crowd daily. Once rather run-down, it was given a face-lift and air-conditioning recently.

    Lien Bee Hokkien Mee

  • Lorong 1, Jalan Cheng Lock (behind Lai Foong Restaurant)

    Located in a tiny alcove behind the coffee shop, this shop is run by the founder’s grandson, Kua Choon Chuan. His grandfather started the business in 1946 and he is continuing the tradition of frying the noodles over a charcoal fire. Diners enjoy their Hokkien mee in the lane next to the stall.


    Seremban beef noodles

  • Stall 748, Pasar Besar Seremban, Jalan Pasar, Seremban

    Even folks from KL think nothing of making the drive here to enjoy the beef noodles at the stall run by Goh Chuen Mei. It was started over 60 years ago by her father, Goh Hian Hai. The beef noodles are cooked according to her father’s recipe, brought over from his Hainanese village of Haikou when he immigrated here.


    Capitol Satay Celup

  • 41, Lorong Bukit Cina

    Satay celup is a dish peculiar to Malacca, and is believed to have originated at the now-defunct Capitol theatre.

    That was over 60 years ago. Today, it is owned and run by Low Yong Cheng, a third generation member of the family.

    Satay celup’s popularity rests on the thick, spiced sauce which the meat is dipped into, a recipe handed down by Low’s grandfather.


    Kedai Roti & Kek Hiap Joo

  • 13, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Johor Baru

    The scene has changed very little at this old-world bakery since it opened 90 years ago. A wood-fired oven is still used for baking, and regulars attuned to the baking schedule queue up outside for piping hot bread, coconut buns and banana cake. Latecomers have to return later, when the next batch is baked.

    The pressure for this bakery to relocate is great as it is sitting on prime land. When that day comes, it will be a great loss to food lovers. The owners said the oven, made from red bricks, is special and can’t be replicated.

    “The bakery cannot be relocated, it will end here if the shop is demolished,” said a family member who helps run the shop.

    Kluang Train Station canteen

  • Jalan Station, Kluang

    Opened in the 1940s, this is the most famous train station canteen in the country. Jack Lim is the third generation to take charge of this remarkable canteen, housed in a wooden building with wired windows and a whiteboard where Lim writes his quote of the day. The fare has always been the same: kopi and charcoal-toasted bread slathered with home-made kaya and butter, curry puffs and nasi lemak bungkus.


    Tong Nam Bee

  • 55, Jalan Tun Razak, Raub

    More than 50 years old, this Hainanese kopitiam has been a hub for local townfolk since it opened in the sleepy town. There’s a real old-world feel to it, furnished as it was with marble-topped kopitiam tables and dark wooden chairs and cabinets. Tong Nam Bee is located in a row of pre-war shophouses.


    Kedai Kopi White House

  • 1329-L, Jalan Sultanah Zainab, Kota Baru

    The White House, facing the state mosque, is a Kelantanese landmark.

    This Hainanese-run coffee shop predates the country’s independence. It’s a quaint shop seating only about 25 people, but is considered the place for coffee and toast in Kota Baru, and is a popular night-time hangout.

    In addition to the regular kopitiam fare, they have East Coast specialties such as nasi tumpang, compressed rice with serunding, and either prawn sambal or masak lemak.


    Kemaman coffee

  • Kedai Kopi Hai Peng, 3753, Jalan Sulaiman, Kemaman

    This coffee shop helped put Kemaman on the map, thanks to its brand of Hainanese coffee. Wong Sang Hai opened the kopitiam in 1935 when he first arrived here from Hainan. It is now managed by his daughter, Elaine Wong, who expanded the menu to offer Vietnamese coffee and ice-blended drinks. It remains a hub for locals and travellers to this day.


    Mengatal curry and kaya puffs

  • Kedai Kopi Kheun Nam Hin, Lot 7, Blok G, Mengatal New Township, Menggatal

    The original shop, founded over 50 years ago, was located near the Menggatal bus station. The business relocated to this new spot nearby after the original burnt down. It’s owned by Hainanese Johnny Wong and his family, who jealously guard their recipes for the popular flaky curry and kaya puffs sold here.


    Teochew temple yong tau foo and pork satay

  • A stall at the Teochew Temple Carpenter Street, Kuching

    This family-owned stall has been here for over 50 years and business continues to boom. Along with the rest of the stalls here, the pork satay and yong tau foo stall was once in the temple courtyard but were recently relocated just across the road.

  • Jelly Mooncakes

    From The Star

    Game for jelly mooncakes?

    WHILE big commercial mooncake makers introduce new flavours using less-traditional ingredients like cheese, chocolate, raspberry, mango, strawberry, coffee and butter, a baking and cookery teacher in Penang is making them out of jelly.

    Amy Tan, who teaches cooking and baking at her home at Jalan Lim Lean Teng, is busy making ‘icy cold’ mooncakes which are free of meat and egg for this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival.

    Tan, who has over 20 years of experience in baking these festive delicacies, said her cold mooncakes come in a variety of flavours, including dragon fruit, mango, honeydew, water chestnut, soya bean, red bean, cendol and chocolate.

    When cut open, the centre of the mooncake will reveal a fake egg yolk, which is actually made of carrot.

    “We use only fruits, beans and vegetables to make these jelly mooncakes.

    “The carrot is prepared first to make the yolk. Then the fruit is blended to pre- pare the filling. We later mix them with jelly powder, agar-agar powder and sugar but that depends on the recipe,” she explained.

    Festive creations: Tan with her colourful mooncakes and other delights.

    The idea of making jelly mooncakes came to her after a friend introduced her to the recipe she had found on the Internet.

    “I tried making the mooncakes but they came out too soft and turned watery after a short while. So I made some changes to the recipe,” said the 41-year-old Tan, who has been teaching cooking and baking for over 10 years.

    Tan, who learnt mooncake making from her husband’s relative many years ago, said that she would be busy making mooncakes when the festival draws nearer.

    “We only use natural ingredients like fruits and beans to make the jelly mooncakes. As they will not last long, we will be making them a week before the festival,” she said.

    Tan also has her own Ping Pei (snow skin) mooncakes, which are rather unusual as they come in the shape of small colourful fishes.

    “We use glutinous flour, oil and icing sugar to make the snow skin, and pandan and lotus paste for the filling. For the fishes’ eyes, we use chocolate chips.

    “These refrigerated ‘mooncakes' are rather special because of their size, shape and bright colours. We also make round ping pei mooncakes that look like the traditional ones, only with many colours,” she said.

    Other than these special delights, Tan makes more than 10 other types of mooncakes. She bakes Teowchew Mooncakes, Shanghai Mooncakes, ang kong ngah pneah (literally means doll biscuit) and traditional mooncakes, just to name a few.

    She explained that each type was made using different ingredients and has different fillings.

    “For example, traditional mooncakes are filled with bean paste and lotus paste,” she said.

    The Chinese Mooncake Festival falls on every 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This year, it falls on Sept 25.

    Tai Cheong Bakery, Hong Kong

    From The Star

    The perfect tart

    Soft on the inside: The egg tarts made at Tai Cheong Bakery are legendary.

    Made with the same dedication for over half a century, the egg tarts – as well as the other tasty baked offerings — at Tai Cheong Bakery in Central has created a legendary Hong Kong tea-time story.

    Amidst the snaking alleyways and cobblestone paths at Lyndhurst Terrace in Hong Kong, you're bound to find something great to eat at every corner. A sushi bar, a pizzeria, a Chinese medicine hall, Indian eateries, stalls selling roasted duck, freshly blended fruit juices, fried fish balls and tau fu far, and even a Russian restaurant — all peacefully co-existing like a well-run mini United Nations, catering to every tastebud and budget. At a particular bakery on the same street, it’s not uncommon to discover people queuing up every day — to get a taste of Au Yeung Tin-yun’s fabled egg tarts as well as an assortment of other baked delicacies.

    Tai Cheong Bakery is a Hong Kong institution of over half a century, which is also the same length of time Au Yeung has been in the trade. He has brought smiles to the faces of Hong Kongers, young and old, as well as a certain former Governor, Chris Patten. In fact, Patten, having been introduced to Tai Cheong’s tarts by his chauffeur, would eventually become the bakery’s staunchest fan. For a while, the bakery’s most popular item was affectionately known as “Chris Tart.”

    So what makes the tarts so special? “Let me ask you one thing. Is your mother’s cooking better than yours?” Au Yeung quizzes me. Naturally, my answer is in the affirmative. “There you go. It’s as simple as that. Both of you use the same ingredients, but there’s something that makes her cooking better, right? Well, it’s the same with my tarts,” he says with a modest smile.

    “The kinds of eggs we use also make a big difference. Chinese eggs have a stickier texture than Malaysian ones, which is why it’s hard to replicate (the taste of) my tarts,” explains Au Yeung. He should know what he’s talking about having spent the last 58 years perfecting the art of creating the humble yet sublime egg tart.

    Perfect to take away, the egg tarts (RM1.60 each) stay fresh for three days. All you need to do is reheat them in the toaster or rice cooker. But when savoured straight from the oven and washed down with a cup of Earl Grey or café latte, the tarts taste the best.

    Originally known as the custard tart, which was heavier and richer in taste, the Hong Kong egg tart evolved in very much the same way the city did, with a recipe based on Chinese zeal and Western methods. With its golden yellow centre and flanked by butter pastry that doesn’t flake, the tarts are believed to have been brought to Hong Kong by immigrants from Guangzhou in the 1940s.

    But, there’s also a contention that the Chinese adapted the British egg tart to suit local tastes. And in the absence of cheese, the simple egg tart, by the inventiveness, determination and creativity of people like Au Yeung, was able to claim its rightful place as Made with the same dedication for over half a century, the egg tarts – as well as the other tasty baked offerings — at Tai Cheong Bakery in Central has created a legendary Hong Kong tea-time story.

    Hong Kong’s pastry of choice — undoubtedly a hit during Sunday morning dim sum with the family or as a weekday afternoon treat.

    Tai Cheong’s cookie crust egg tarts might be the most famous item sold at the bakery, but the sugar puffs (RM1.60 each) come a close second. “Our egg tarts are the biggest sellers. At the shop in Central, we sell around 2,800 every day. Our second biggest sellers are the sugar puffs. Our sales average around 1,000 per day,” says Au Yeung.

    Looking very much like sugarcoated profiteroles, they were invented by Au Yeung who spent several years as a pastry chef at one of Hong Kong’s top hotels.

    Tai Cheong Bakery

    Made from deep fried dough, the puffs wouldn’t look out of place at a French patisserie, but after a taste, you’ll know that they’re a Chinese creation. While profiteroles might have a soft texture, Tai Cheong’s sugar puffs are crisp and crunchy, and you’re bound to eat more than one.

    The same goes for the coconut puffs (RM1.60 each). Perfect weekend tea-time treats, the offerings from Tai Cheong have the irresistible knack of ruining the best laid diet plans — a sentiment that Au Yeung echoes:

    “I tell my customers that my tarts won’t make them fat as the pastry is light. They’re good for people who want to lose weight,” he says before breaking into one of his trademark grins.

    35, Lyndhurst Terrace,
    Central, Hong Kong
    Tel: (+852) 2544 3475

    Loke Yun Ampang Restaurant

    From The Star

    Lessons learnt from father contributes to restaurant's success

    One of the best in town: The Loke Yun Ampang restaurant in Pekan Ampang.

    Good food, cleanliness and excellent service secured Phang Kee Kim the 'King of Hainanese Chicken Rice' award. Phang who runs the Loke Yun Ampang restaurant, was given the title by Guang Ming Daily in July.

    “When my father passed down the business to me, he said we have to treat customers well to make sure they keep coming back. He also stressed the importance of cleanliness when running a business, from the front of the shop all the way to the back,” said Phang.

    His father Phang Kwi learnt how to make Hainanese chicken rice when he worked at the Kim Hing coffee shop in Jalan Tun H.S, Lee, then known as Jalan Bandar.

    The senior Phang then decided to open his own chicken rice stall in 1971 in Pekan Ampang.

    “When we were younger, my sister and I would help out at the shop. After I got married, he handed the business over to me and we've been running the business since,” said the 42-year-old Phang.

    His sister Phang Kim Lian, 48, said they used fresh raw ingredients to ensure the taste and quality of the food were never compromised.

    “We get the chickens from a supplier who already knows our requirements as his father used to supply chickens to our father,” said Kim Lian.

    A family recipe: Phang chopping the Hainanese steamed chicken into smaller pieces.

    “My brother sells vegetables and we buy it from him so he makes sure we get the best produce,” said Phang's wife Kareen Lim, 38.

    Besides the usual steamed Hainanese chicken dish, they also serve a variety of side dishes like steamed vegetables, braised chicken feet, chicken intestines and fishballs.

    Customers can opt for the regular steamed chicken or village (free range) chicken.

    “We have regular customers who frequent our restaurant every week. Some of them used to come with their parents during my father's time and now they are bringing their own children to eat our chicken rice,” said Phang.

  • Loke Yun Ampang Restaurant is located at 158, Jalan Besar, Ampang, Selangor (near the Ampang Jaya traffic police station). Telephone: 03-4291 9884. Business hours: Mondays to Sundays, 10.30am to 3pm and 5.30pm to 8.30pm.
  • Boer Goat Junction, Petaling Jaya

    From The Star

    Goodness, the Boer goat

    Care for some chevon, cabrito or capretto?

    FORGET everything you’ve been taught about mutton. Contrary to what we have been told at school, goat meat is not mutton. Lamb meat is.

    Goat meat is actually known as chevon, cabrito or capretto – depending on the ages of the goats when they are slaughtered.

    And did you know that compared to other meat like beef, poultry and pork, goat meat is extra lean, with 3g of fat or sometimes less, and has less than 2g of saturated fat?

    Eating healthy: A Boer goat munching on the Napier grass at the organic farm in Tapah.

    This is especially true of Boer goat meat. Production of the Boer goat meat was developed in South Africa in the early 1900s. The word “Boer” actually means “farmer” in Dutch. Because of the manner in which they are reared, Boer goats provide meat that is naturally lean and nutritious.

    Not only is it an excellent source of protein and iron, Boer goat meat also has higher potassium content, with a low sodium level.

    A place that rears Boer goats is the 20-acre Highland Organic Boer Farm in Tapah, Perak. It is managed by Majestic Nature Boer Farm Sdn Bhd.

    The farm rears over 2,000 Boer goats which are put on a strict 100% organic diet.

    They are fed naturally grown Napier grass to ensure that they receive the optimal intake of fibre and protein.

    Apart from that, they also consume clean mineral water that comes from the same source that feeds the Lata Kinjang waterfall near the farm. Considering all the above factors, this probably explains why Boer goat meat is much healthier than other red meat.

    According to Majestic Nature Boer Farm managing director Yeow Joo Kwang, the Highland Organic Boer Farm provides a clean and dry environment that is crucial for the healthy growth of the Boer goats.

    Fried Goat Meat in Pepper Sauce

    Therefore, all the essential amino acids are present in the goat meat, with no hormonal, chemical or bacterial contamination.

    Even the American Heart Association recommends the goat meat to those who suffer from heart-related problems, as the meat is high in protein, with a healthy fat ratio.

    Sunday Metro was invited for a tour of the farm recently.

    Coincidentally, celebrity chefs Ismail and Florence Tan were among the invited guests as well.

    “When I first tried the Boer meat, it was a thrilling experience as it didn’t release some foul odour compared to other meat,” says Chef Ismail.

    Gulai Kambing Berempah

    “We didn’t have to marinate the meat that long either and, amazingly, it is much more tender,” says Chef Florence.

    To add to the excitement, both the chefs surprised the guests by serving six different dishes of Boer meat.

    On the menu were the Mint Nutty Salad, Shepherd’s Pie, Goat Meat Cumin Rice, Fried Goat Meat in Pepper Sauce, Gulai Kambing Berempah and Goat Varuval.

    “We each came prepared with a recipe for the public to try out at home,” says Chef Ismail, adding that the step-by-step recipe is simple and anyone can try it at home.

    “The Boer goat meat is so yummy that I even serve them in my restaurant,” adds Chef Ismail.

    Yeow says that the problem most Malaysians face is that they do not know where to get the Boer goat meat.

    If you would like to get your hands on Boer goat meat, Majestic Nature Boer Farm will open a special shop called Boer Goat Junction next month.

    The shop will be located at No.43, Jalan SS21/60, Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya.

    Roti Canai, Malacca

    Flipping good roti canai

    Two brothers in Malacca draw the crowds to their family warung with their dough stunts.

    FOR a small wooden warung (food outlet) without any signboard indicating what type of food is offered, the place must have its very own reasons for seeing huge crowds almost every day.

    Fondly known as the “Roti Terbang Kampung Enam”, this outlet features ‘flying’ roti canai as a daily happening, which is probably also the major attraction at the always-packed warung.

    From a young boy who used to see his father kneading and tossing the roti canai dough, Mezan Md Said had never reckoned he would take up the act and later became so serious about it that he made it his source of livelihood.

    “I first tossed a roti canai when I was 10. From then, I used to help around at my father’s warung and he taught me more about making roti canai as I grew up. When I was 15, I successfully did my first ‘flying’ roti canai,” Mezan recalls.

    Thrills and spills: Mezan Md Said strutting his stuff at his Roti Terbang Kampung Enam stall.

    Often addressed as the ‘sifu’ of roti canai among his regulars, the 28-year-old says that the warung was started more than 20 years ago during his father’s time.

    “Due to road widening and my father’s demise five years ago, we shifted to this new premises,” he says, when interviewed at his warung recently.

    With the help of his family members, especially his younger brother, Shamsul, 25, Mezan inherited the warung and continued running the family business.

    Every day, their routine starts with getting the necessary food ingredients from the market before they knead the flour and prepare other dishes.

    “More than 10kg of flour and 150 eggs are needed every day,” says Shamsul, who also picked up the act of ‘flying’ roti canai from his brother.

    Instead of using a machine, the duo take turns to knead the flour into some 300 balls of dough, all painstakingly by hand.

    According to Mezan, their handmade dough is special and different from others’.

    “Because of our family secret recipe, our roti canai can be tossed wider and made thinner,” says Mezan, adding that their dough’s freshness lasts longer too.

    Coming in as the first runner-up in the National Roti Canai Challenge two years ago has brought more fame and fortune to the family business. And, word-of-mouth advertising among the patrons helped promote their speciality to others.

    “We have many customers who keep coming back. They also bring their friends here,” says Mezan, adding that a customer once came all the way from Penang just for his roti canai.

    “Most of our customers are often astonished to see us spin, twirl and throw the roti canai dough to each other.

    “They enjoy the stunts so much that they are often awed and they applaud enthusiastically. To us, their response is simply flattering,” quips Mezan, after another round of their ‘flying’ roti canai show at the warung.

    Billy Soh, who has frequented the place for more than 10 years, says the roti canai tastes different from that of others.

    As for Chu Yeuan Ling, 24, tasting their speciality Roti Jepun is a thumbs-up experience, as the filling and texture are “so yummy and creamy”.

    Other than the ‘flying’ roti canai, the place also serves nasi lemak, fried rice and noodles, along with other dishes such as ayam rendang, sambal sotong and curry mutton, all home-cooked.

    The warung is located right opposite the ‘Under 1 Roof’ showroom at Kampung Enam along Jalan Bachang in Malacca. It is open from 7pm to 3am daily except on Sundays.

    Hokkien Mee

    From The Star

    Catch the supper action

    The Hokkien Mee has a great following and many would argue that their favourite haunt serves the best.

    WITH noodles coated in thick dark soya sauce and topped with a generous helping of fried lard, the Hokkien Mee is a great dish for friends and family to enjoy together.

    There are actually two versions of this noodle dish, which is cooked in Fujian style, brought over by the immigrants of the Fujian province in southeastern China.

    One is the Hokkien Char, which is the fried version that is popular nationwide and in Singapore, while the one that the Penangites rave about is a soupier version, riddled with prawns, and aptly known as Hokkien hae mee.

    While the fried version in the Klang Valley and the rest of the country uses a fat yellow noodle, the Penang and Singapore version uses egg noodles and rice noodles.

    The Penang version is served with a fragrant stock made of fresh shrimp shells and dried prawns, and in some instances pork bones are also added in to flavour it.

    The noodles are served with prawns, leafy greens, pork ribs, fish cake, a sprinkle of spring onions and deep-fried shallots and a dash of fresh lime, served with sliced red chillies, light soya sauce and a shrimp paste dip or sambal.

    Tantalising fare: Yap Kim whipping up his popular Hokkien Mee at the Fatty stall in Sun Yen Restaurant in Petaling Jaya.

    The once-upon-a-time piece de resistance was the small cubes of fried pork fat that provided the crunch but it is now only added on request due to health concerns.

    This is the popular Hokkien hae mee in Penang. A popular haunt is Super Hokkien Mee at the Kedai Kopi Super Café, 3, Jalan Rangoon.

    Due to its popularity, it is advisable to bring along some reading materials as you could wait up to 30 minutes before your order arrives, especially on weekends.

    Do come early though as closing time is 11am but by 10am, the last bowl may have been served.

    Another good traditional Penang hae mee can be found at the last noodle stall in Pasar Awam Seri Bandar, Jalan Heng Choon Thian in Bukit Mertajam. Closed from Sundays to Tuesdays, this is a father-to-daughter business, where Tan Poh Choo has faithfully kept to her late father’s secret recipe for more than 30 years.

    In Alor Star, Kedah, Kedai Makanan Lam Chuan serves a good Penang version of the Hokkien Mee for a reasonable RM2 per serving. The outlet is in Jalan Putera, opposite Jalan Pintu Sepuluh, open from 7am to 1pm and closed on Saturdays.

    In Kuala Lumpur, where the fried version of Hokkien Mee reigns, one can have the Penang version at Restoran Rocky at 15 Jalan Telawi 5, Bangsar Baru.

    The Klang Valley version, which is fried and comes out with a delicious aroma that wafts from wok to table, makes one hungry just imagining the luscious thick and dark sauce coating the fat yellow noodles and seafood, pork meat and liver, and a generous spray of cubes of fried pork fat, when requested.

    A popular supper option in the Klang Valley, it has a great following and many would argue that their favourite haunt serves the best.

    Among the good haunts is Restoran AhWa at 66, Jalan 14/48 (directly behind the Shell station in Jalan 222).

    It comes highly recommended. Even foreigners make a beeline for AhWa’s great Hokkien char where service is fast and food is tasty, although they have stopped frying this supper fare over the charcoal stove a long time ago.

    Jackson Mee, or better known as Fatty stall at the Sun Yen Restaurant in Jalan 17/38, Section 17, Petaling Jaya, is also touted as one of the better Hokkien char outlets.

    Yap Kim, 63, who started frying noodles for a living since he was 16, has been perfecting on his own style for the past 47 years and still makes his tasty and well-flavoured Hokkien char on a charcoal stove. Open between noon and 2pm and again from 5.30pm to 9.30pm daily except Mondays.

    Other notable places where the Hokkien char is worth a mention are Mun Wah Hokkien Mee at 155, Jalan Maharajalela, and Lien Bee Hokkien Mee at Jalan Cheng Lock (behind Lai Foong Restaurant).

    In Jalan Petaling or Chinatown, is Restoran Kim Lian Kee, where the Hokkien char tastes as good as the traditional one that is cooked over the hot charcoal stove fire. If you want Kim Lian Kee’s traditional Hokkien char, then cross the road to where the original stall is and be transported back in time.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    MIYAKO Japanese Restaurant, Sheraton Subang Hotel & Towers

    From The NST

    Oishi dishes by the pool


    Cosy ambience, great service and delicious Japanese food. What more can one ask for? SAM CHEONG lets you in on a gem of a restaurant in Subang Jaya.

    MIYAKO Japanese restaurant at the Sheraton Subang Hotel and Towers in SS12/1 is one of Subang Jaya’s best-kept secrets. Now, if you haven’t been to Sheraton, it won’t be easy to locate the restaurant because it’s a building by itself.

    From the lobby, all you need to do is to find the swimming pool. The restaurant is located just next to it.

    What I like about this place is the warm and cosy atmosphere. It’s also very quiet which makes it an excellent place to entertain guests.

    Opened in 1998, Miyako is listed in a guide book compiled by a local lifestyle magazine featuring 2007’s best restaurants.

    I was ushered into the sashimi room where a good selection of cold dishes (picture) was served for the lunch buffet.

    At RM70 (excluding service charge and tax), there’s a good selection of hot and cold dishes.

    In fact, there are more than 30 dishes to pick from, including sushi, sashimi, Japanese starters, fried dishes (like tempura and agemono) and soup.

    The buffet, a daily feature at Miyako, is one of the best to be found in Subang Jaya. I was impressed with the generous portions as well as the freshness of the food.

    When it came to the cold dishes, I zeroed in on the sashimi (sliced raw portions of fresh fish and seafood) set.

    When it comes to raw slices, you have two choices. First, it’s the sashimi moriawase ‘ni-jyo’ (assorted sliced fish freshly imported from Japan). It costs RM265.00++.

    The other option is sashimi moriawase ‘ichi-jyo’ (sliced assorted local and imported raw fish) at RM159.00++.

    So, how did the raw slices fare? Only one word can describe it: Oishi! (tasty!). The sliced portions are thick, juicy and succulent.

    A standalone dish, the sashimi should go down well with a cold glass of sake (Japanese rice wine). I had mine with hot green tea.

    The Miyako special roll is also highly recommended. If you are a rice and sushi lover, this is for you.

    Quality ingredients such as fresh avocado slices, deep-fried soft-shelled crabs, grilled unagi (Japanese eel) and tempura shrimp are used. In fact, it’s a meal by itself. Don’t be fooled by its unassuming appearance. Three pieces of this highly enriched roll will stuff you to the gills!

    At RM60++ a plate, this is also one of the restaurant’s signature dishes.

    Lunch buffet aside, there’s also a good selection of a’la carte dishes, including noodles, steamed dishes and deep-fried stuff.

    Service is prompt, with the waitresses being very courteous.

    For beer drinkers, there is the beer brunch buffet. This Sunday-only special offers free-flow draught beer from 11.30am to 2.30pm.

    It’s priced at RM118++. Non-drinkers can also enjoy the good food here at RM85++ per head.