Saturday, December 27, 2008

‘Lucky’ wild boars a tourism sensation - Star

Dec 27, 2008 By RASLAN BAHAROM

AN Indian temple near Zenith Park in Taiping has turned into a night safari of sorts, attracting hundreds of visitors nightly.

The star attraction is not some prized animals but wild boars which temple visitors claim are bringing them good luck.

Although aggressive by nature, the animals seem to have become quite domesticated and are allowing visitors to caress them.

Some visitors claim to have struck a small fortune at four-digit outlets while others claim that sufferers of incurable illnesses have been cured after stroking the animals.

Visitors stroking the wild boars for good luck.

Temple volunteer N. Mogan, 45, said ever since the wild boars began frequenting the fringes of the temple in April, the number of nightly visitors had swelled especially on weekends and public holidays.

The boars usually turn up at the temple grounds when the bells toll to mark the time for evening prayers at about 7.30pm.

“Previously only a few wild boars turned up but lately, it is common to see about 30 of them,” says Mogan, a tow truck driver.

Star attraction: These wild boars are a major draw for visitors from as far as Singapore and Taiwan.

He often goes to the temple in the daytime to cook the boars’ favourite meal — rice with canned sardines.

“We don’t charge the visitors any fee but those who want to donate can buy the cooked rice at RM1 per packet to feed the animals,” he said.

The collection was for the temple’s coffers, he said.

He said some visitors came back to offer donations to the temple after their wishes were fulfilled.

Some even came in chartered buses from as far away as Singapore and Thailand.

Mogan making broth with sardines for visitors to feed the boars at a fee.

“We have also received visits by priests from Thailand,” he added.

Mogan said so far, no one had been gored by the animals as most of the boars appeared to have adapted to human presence

After a hearty meal, some of the young animals do take a nap before heading back to their jungle hideout before dawn.

Mogan said the temple had not received any complaints about the presence of the wild boars.

A nearby temple is also cashing in on the sensation by charging RM2 for each vehicle parked within its compound.

Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks director Shabrina Mohd Shariff said the department would look into the issue once a public complaint was lodged.

“If there is a complaint, I will send my officers there to investigate,” she said. Although wild boars were protected species, she said the department did issue hunting licences 14A (for hunting of game animals) and 19A (for consumption, medicinal purposes or selling of game animals) as there was an “over-population” of wild boars in Perak.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mum’s recipes draw the crowd - Star


THE first thing that diners notice about the Special Butterworth Curry Mee at Lemon Grass Cafe & Restaurant is its pale, milky soup.

One cannot help but wonder if the curry mee is hot enough as the dish offered at other outlets is usually a striking red colour.

As if reading our minds, restaurant owner Desmond Teoh passed us a small jar of chilli paste and said: “Add this into the soup. Put more if you want your curry mee to be spicier.”

The Special Butterworth Curry Mee is served with a small jar of chilli paste for diners to adjust the spiciness to their own taste.

The colour of the soup changed instantly as we stirred the paste into the bowl.

The flavourful and aromatic mee, laden with a healthy amount of prawns, tofu pok, long beans, squid and cockles, is a special recipe of Teoh’s mum Ng Nga.

Because of her passion for cooking, Ng opened a coffee shop in Butterworth about five years ago where she served her special curry mee.

“Making the paste alone takes almost half a day. I grind shallots, chillies, garlic and other ingredients together and fry the mixture for hours.

“I’ve also cut down on the amount of santan used in the soup,” Ng, who is in her 60s, said.

A taste of Penang fare: Assam Laksa (top) and Butterworth Special Fried Rice

The dish was a hit in Butterworth and six months ago, Teoh decided to bring the dish to the Klang Valley, along with Assam Laksa, Butterworth Special Fried Rice, Sambal Udang Rice with Boiled Ladies’ Finger and Lobak.

“I have brought Penang here!” he quipped.

Some of the ingredients are brought from Penang to ensure the quality.

“We found that some things here just don’t taste the same; one example is the belacan used in our Butterworth Special Fried Rice.

“We tried the local belacan but still felt that the Penang product smells much nicer,” Teoh said.

Ng is now in stationed in Lemon Grass, where she helps out with the daily running of the restaurant.

As she is very particular about the freshness of the ingredients, customers need not worry about the strong fishy smell of the Assam Laksa.

Packs a wallop: The Sambal Udang Rice with Boiled Ladies Finger uses only springy fresh prawns.

“Unlike some who use canned fish, we use fresh ikan kembong from the market,” Teoh said.

The cooked-to-order Sambal Udang Rice with Boiled Ladies Finger caters for diners who crave for hot food.

The springy prawns, coated with the spicy sambal sauce, were not too harsh on the palate, but beware, they left a burning sensation in the stomach.

The slightly sweet Lobak, with bits of vegetables in it, makes a good side dish.

“To make sure that the Lobak is tender, we use only chicken drumstick to make it,” Teoh said.

While desserts like green and red bean soup are in the dessert section of the menu, it is the Kaya Butter Char Kuey that makes an interesting option.

The yau char kuay (Chinese crullers), drizzled with butter, is served with a dollop of kaya.

Set lunch, priced below RM8.50, is also available, with over 10 choices that include Hokkien Mee, Seafood Sang Mee and Lala Fried Meehoon.

LEMON GRASS CAFE & RESTAURANT, 41, Jalan Vanilla Anggerik X31/X, Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam (Tel: 03-5122 4128). Business hours: Daily, 11.30am to 9.30pm. Closed on Wed. Pork-free.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thunder soup - Star


MY grand-aunt used to cook this Hakka dish called Lui Cha or Thunder Soup for me when I was a little girl. Now that I am overseas, I would like to learn how to cook it for my family. – Loo Yen Peng

Try this recipe for thunder.

The array of accompaniments that goes into Lui Cha.

Lui Cha

* 4 pieces firm bean curd (tau kon), diced
* 100g dried shrimps, soaked, rinsed and chopped
* 200g sweet potato leaves, finely shredded
* 200g long beans, diced
* 200g onion, diced
* 200g dried radish (choy po), soaked for 20–25 minutes, minced
* 150g sweet bean curd (thim fu chok), shredded
* 200g leek
* 2–3 tbsp oil
* 2–3 tbsp sesame oil

(For the soup)

* 250g polygonum leaves
* 80g mint leaves
* 1 tbsp green tea leaves
* 250ml superior soup stock


* ½ tsp chicken stock granules
* ½ tsp salt

Deep-fry bean curd in hot oil until fragrant. Drain well.

Heat oil and sesame oil in a clean wok and fry shrimps until fragrant and crispy. Dish out and set aside. Add a little more oil and sesame oil to the wok and stir-fry the rest of the ingredients separately. Toss and fry until fragrant. Dish out and put into separate bowls.

To prepare the soup: Blend polygonum leaves, mint leaves and tea leaves in a food processor, adding a little boiled water gradually. Pour in superior stock to mix and blend for a minute. Pour out the blended ingredients into a non-stick saucepan. Bring to a low simmering boil for a while.

To serve: Put a ladleful of hot cooked rice into a serving bowl. Top with a little of each of the prepared ingredients. Pour over 2 tablespoons of soup. Serve immediately.

MY son loves pasta carbonara. Can you share with me a recipe for this dish? – Mrs Ariana Leong

Here’s one for your boy.

Pasta Carbonara spaghetti with bacon slices and parmesan cheese.

Pasta Carbonara

* 300g spaghetti
* 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* 3 cloves garlic, crushed
* 5 rashers bacon, chopped
* 300ml fresh milk
* 2 eggs
* ½ cup grated Parmesan


* 3 stalks spring onion, chopped
* 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Cook spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Heat olive oil in a non-stick saucepan and sauté garlic and bacon until golden and fragrant.

Beat eggs and milk until well combined. Drain the pasta and put back into the saucepan. Add milk and egg mixture and toss well. Transfer garlic and bacon mixture to the spaghetti. Add Parmesan and mix in garnishes. Season with salt and pepper. Dish out and serve immediately.

MY children have taken to having barbecue parties at home and they love to roast potatoes over the pit. What are the ways to do it well? – Magdelene Teoh

Here’s how you can have your potatoes done BBQ-style.

Baked potatoes, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

BBQ Potatoes

* 4-5 large potatoes
* 2-2½ tbsp olive oil
* Some mayonnaise, cheese, sour cream, butter or tuna as a filling
* A large piece of tin foil

Wash the potatoes well and prick with a sharp knife, then brush with olive oil. Wrap the potatoes in foil. Put the packet on the barbecue pit for about 1–1½ hours. Turn occasionally then unwrap the packet and make a cross-cut through the potatoes.

Serve as an accompaniment to your barbecue meat or seafood. Spoon sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese, tuna or butter on the top of the potatoes.

Happy hours chicken rice at RM2 - NST

IPOH: Dec 9, 2008 By Jaspal

Just visit Tan Leong Hin's chicken rice stall at the junction of Jalan Ali Pitchay and Jalan Yang Kalsom here to get a plate for RM2.
Tan sells his chicken rice at RM2 per plate or packet from 4pm to 6pm daily.

"I don't make a profit selling chicken at RM2, but neither do I make a loss.

"I think this is what people call a win-win situation. I keep my customers and they enjoy cheap food for a certain period every day."

The 33-year-old starts his business at 10am but sells his chicken rice at RM2.50.
"Every businessman needs to make a profit, but not too much, and not now when more people are eating at home because of the economic downturn."

Tan, helped by his Vietnamese girlfriend, Tran Ngu-yen, 25, said the RM2 plate contained the same portion as the RM2.50 plate.

"Tarak kurang punya. Tak mahu tipu sama orang (Same portions. I do not cheat anyone)."

Before moving to Jalan Yang Kalsom, he sold chicken rice at several spots here and sometimes sold it at RM2.80.

He moved to the present location for a larger customer base and was able to reduce his price to RM2.50 during peak hours.

He said he enjoyed brisk business, selling between 20 and 30 birds daily.

"Before moving to Jalan Yang Kalsom, I sold only 10 chickens a day.

"Since moving here, business has been good.

"I could have still charged RM2.80, considering that other chicken rice sellers in the area charge between RM3 and RM4, but I decided not to make too much profit.

"Ultimately, an affordable price is what customers look for when eating out. So RM2.50 is reasonable."

He can charge RM2 in the evening because he collects the birds from his supplier in Jelapang himself.

"Since I live in Jelapang, I do the collecting myself. This saves me 30 sen per bird, and I also save on fuel costs."

He added that his customers would also buy vegetable dishes, sold at 70 sen per serving, to go with their chicken rice.

However, he said, despite the RM2 price in the evenings, most of his customers visited his stall between 10am and 4pm.

The latecomers are students or elderly folk who either take lunch late or dinner early.

He said he sold eight birds during the discount period, which he dubbed his "happy hours".

One person who enjoys Tan's happy hours is Grace Nandini, a 37-year-old insurance company clerk who has been a regular since the RM2 stall opened eight months ago.

"Where can anyone get chicken rice for RM2 nowadays?

"For me, this is a deal not to be missed.

"I don't mind coming here to eat because it is still fresh compared with some sellers who refrigerate their unsold stock to sell at a higher price the next day."

Grace's sentiment was shared by Hock San, 44, a tow-truck driver who comes to Tan's stall about 5pm because of the nature of his work.

"Since I run around a lot, I drop by to have a bite before moving about again. The RM2 tag is another reason I come here to eat."

Tan hopes to repeat his RM2 chicken rice success by opening another outlet here, and is in discussion with a restaurant owner near the Tasek industrial area to rent a space for his stall.

"I am thinking about the price to charge during peak hours but the RM2 rate will be maintained two hours before closing.

"It helps me to sell everything I have prepared for the day, and I am also providing a way to eat chicken rice at a cheap price.

"I think I am also helping the country," he says with a smile before going back to serving his customers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thousands at riverfront project launch to see Michelle Yeoh - Star

IPOH: Oct 28, 2008

Thousands thronged the launch of the Kinta Riverfront project here mainly to catch a glimpse of international star Datuk Michelle Yeoh.

The arrival of the Ipoh-born former Bond girl sparked off a chain of bright flashes from cameras as Yeoh was escorted to the grand event held on Deepavali eve.

Welcoming her were Morubina Group of Companies managing director Ting Sing Yiew and state senior executive councillor Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham.

Yeoh, who launched the project with Ngeh, lauded the project, adding that she hoped more people would come forward to develop the state together with the Government.

She said the days when tin miners were the main economic force for Perak were long gone and the tourism industry should be the foremost for the growth of the state.

Grand entrance: Yeoh walking to the stage at the launch of the project in Ipoh on the eve of Deepavali. With her are her father Datuk Yeoh Kian Teik (in front of her), mother Datin Janet Yeoh (behind her), and Morubina Group of Companies managing director Ting Sing Yiew (behind Kian Teik).

Yeoh said there should be more proper facilities like five-star hotels to accommodate tourists, adding: “When we bring our friends here, we need proper five-star hotels to accommodate them.

“We can’t just ask them to visit for the day and go off somewhere else. We want them to stay and enjoy because there’s so much to do in Ipoh,” she said.

Ngeh stressed that the state government would welcome local investors who want to bring prosperity to the state.

The RM200mil Kinta Riverfront project, which runs along 1.2km stretch on both sides of the Kinta River, will feature the city’s first five-star hotel and service suites.

Replicas of the world’s famous bridges, bazaars, shops and mini theme parks were also planned in the project, which is expected to be completed within two years.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Putting the roar back in Ipoh - Star


With hidden treasures such as food, interesting sites and colourful goings-on, Ipoh promises to be a place you just want to stop at a bit longer.

Ipoh seems to have it all. Yet somehow it doesn’t quite make it on everyone’s “must-visit’’ list.

There has been talk of revitalising the city for some time now. But until things get up and going, Ipoh is like a race-horse that keeps running but never crosses the finish line.

In synch: Dragon dance is an integral part of the Nine Emperor Gods festival which is celebrated with gusto in Ipoh. – CHING TECK HUAT

The problem can’t be the food. I asked my doctor, who’s from Ipoh, about the town specialty? He drew me a rough map to two exceptional “makan” shops - Lou Wong and Foh San.

Taugeh (bean sprouts) chicken is a favourite of Chinese cuisine connoisseurs and Restoran Lou Wong Taugeh Ayam Kuetiau in the town centre serves the real McCoy. Lou, (pronounced “Lo” which means “old”, an affectionate reference to Mr. Wong’s restaurant which has stood the test of time. The outlet which has been around for 51 years and dispatches something like 140 chickens a day is practically an institution in itself. Half a chicken, a heaping plate of succulent bean sprouts (taugeh) drizzled with aromatic black sesame oil and a steaming bowl of soup with fish and pork balls cost only RM17.

Just a stone’s throw away is Foh San, a venerable dim sum restaurant set in an old building which also houses the Perak Chinese Amateur Dramatic (sic) Association. People tell us their dim sum is sold out before noon.

Then there is the legendary Ipoh White Coffee, which has as many taste variations to it as there are coffee shops who serve it. But there’s no mistaking who’s the king of the coffee bean hill there. Only the grubby-looking Sin Yuan Loong pulls them in like no other.

Nevertheless, we still get the impression that Ipoh is more for Ipohites and that taugeh chicken and white coffee may have brought Ipoh to the rest of Malaysia but not the rest of Malaysia to Ipoh.

A must-try: Lou Wong Taugeh chicken.

Shopping isn’t a problem. You have the landmark Ipoh Parade, Greentown Mall, Yik Foong Complex and The Store. Hotels are good, clean and cheap. We stayed at the Regalodge, which has all the trappings of a three-star hotel - free Wifi access, stocked-up fridge, long bath and get this - a 37” Sharp LCD TV in every cosy room. A double room set us back by only RM116, with local buffet breakfast thrown in. There are also at least four hospitals, 12 schools, three colleges including a medical college, a library, two museums and a lovely park (Seenivasagam Park).

Then there are the cave temples Sam Poh Tong and Kek Lok Tong, which have been tour highlights for decades.

Despite it all, there’s definitely something missing. Ipoh, the third largest city in Malaysia (after KL and Penang) falls behind even Johor Baru in terms of dynamism and visitor traffic.

So what’s there in Ipoh to keep them coming?

Maybe it needs a good shot in the arm. like the parade of the Nine Emperor Gods festival. We arrived just in time to witness it.

There were prancing Chinese lions, serpentine mythical dragons slicing through the air, processions of flower and lantern-bedecked floats with participants throwing sweets or handing out “tortoise” buns (red buns shaped like tortoises) to spectators, traditional dances and marching brass bands.

There were wildly rocking sedan chairs upon which were seated “dieties”. The weight of their spiritual power was said to be so great that the sedan bearers were swinging and swaying as though the chairs themselves had come alive.

There were Chingay performers struggling to balance massive flagpoles alternatively on foreheads and open jaws and Indian drummers. There was also a Hindu devotee pulling a chariot with hooks enmeshed in his back. Call it what you will. A parade. A procession. A carnival even. It was spectacular.

If it carries on in this scale every year, it could become an international tourist event.

The festival culminated in the fire-walk on the night of the ninth day. Only devotees who were spiritually cleansed - strict vegetarian diet, no smoking, drinking and gambling for nine days - could undertake the bare-footed walk over the pit of smouldering coal. If your tootsies get burnt, it means you’ve been cheating. (That’s the spiritual explanation of the day.)

The Birch Memorial Clock Tower built at the turn of the century.

Meanwhile, between now and the next Kow Wong Yeh or Nine Emperor Gods festival, perhaps the town council could place historical attractions under its protection. We visited Birch Memorial Clock Tower at Jalan Datoh Sagor. I read somewhere that Datoh Sagor was among a trio who assassinated Birch in 1875. Birch may have been a nasty fellow and asked for it but I think the memorial tower in his name deserves better.

None of the four faces of the clock was working and someone had dumped a broken deckchair on the platform. Unveiled in 1909, the Victorian clock tower, with its captivating murals is history worth preserving.

Other colonial buildings fared a little better. The front half of the City Hall building has just been repainted. The Railway Station cum Heritage Hotel could do with a little more work. The grounds on which the war memorial is situated, however, is picturesque and perfectly kept.

The city road signs too are uni-directional at T-junctions and crossroads. Guessing or taking a blind shot at what the other road is can be a wearisome game for outsiders. Ipoh has a historical past. It is a shame to let it fade away. The old names of city roads if shown alongside the new ones, would certainly stir interest in Ipoh’s beginnings. Appreciation starts with knowing the city’s roots.

I believe Ipoh has the right ingredients for a revival, it just has to work on its formula.

The article is written in the spirit of Visit Malaysia every year. The writer believes unbiased, constructive comments will only spur Ipoh and its town council to greater heights.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fine dining in cosy ambience - Star


IF you have a penchant for fine dining, you will be delighted with Impiana Casuarina hotel’s newest outlet in Ipoh.

Called The Bistro, it offers fine dining in a casual and relaxed atmosphere, complete with excellent service, live music and most of all, excellent food.

It is a place where anyone would feel comfortable and at home, whether you are dressed casually in smart attire or ready for a wild party or an elegant and romantic dinner. It is the place to indulge in a full course meal or just to sip refreshing drinks, mocktails and wine.

As for the menu, you will find it is a delectable and delightful combination of the best of Asian and Western cuisine €“ now popularly known in the culinary world as fusion.

As for their full four-course meal, you can start with the masterpiece called Angel Hair Crispy Tiger Prawn. But before that, there is chicken with mayo salsa.

The prawns are fried in crispy batter and surrounded by a myriad of tastes including mayo ginger, creamy and rich avocado salsa, wasabi dressing and tobikko caviar. Sounds confusing, but the combination of tastes is something you simply have to experience to understand.

The second course is wild mushroom soup topped with coconut snow, namely a dollop of coconut cream, which somehow lent a special aftertaste to the creamy soup which is also complemented by sprigs of coriander.

For fish lovers: Teriyaki Glazed Salmon Fillet.

Already more than half full and with the experience of a fusion of tantalising tastes, there is still the main course to come. For this, you can choose a medium chargrilled fillet mignon steak. The meal comes dressed with a rich sauce, with a side of garlic potato gnocchi, asparagus spears and herb glaze.

The potato gnocchi is simply mouth-wateringly rich and creamy and the meat done to perfection with its juices intact to give you that original flavour enhanced by the sauce.

And of course, no four course meal is complete without desert which is in the form of a chocolate truffle blakey with sabayon sauce, berry compote and tuille.

Their signature concoction €“ Dragon Frizz €“ is an award winning mocktail at the prestigious Salon Culinaire Malaysia 2007 competition.

Other tantalising dishes from the menu include Cutlet of Lamb Rack, Glazed Salmon Fillet and Prune and Pistachio Pudding.

Although an upmarket higher end dining outlet, the prices are nevertheless considered reasonable, especially for a hotel-based eatery.

The Bistro is open from Mondays to Saturdays with lunch hours from 12pm to 3pm, and dinner is served between 7pm to 11pm.

For reservation, call the hotel at 05-2555555.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lailatul’s kuih bahulu going like hot cakes - Star


Housewife Lailatul Mohd Noor’s kuih bahulu is in such great demand that she has been forced to stop accepting orders for Hari Raya.

Since last Sunday, she has been churning out 3,000 pieces of the Raya favourite daily — an astounding feat for one person. She uses 300 eggs, and 10kg each of flour and sugar in a day.

“I start at 4am and finish at around midnight each day, resting only during buka puasa times, all for the sake of making some extra money for Raya.

“Sometimes, my son and daughter help me with the packing,” she said while removing trays of freshly baked kuih bahulu from a modest-looking oven in her home in Jelapang here.

Hot demand: Lailatul packing the freshly baked kuih bahulu at her home in Jelapang yesterday

Lailatul’s customers come from as far as Kuala Kangsar and Kuala Lumpur.

“They are mostly regulars who have been buying from me the seven years I’ve been baking at home,” said Lailatul, 42, who had been making the cake since she was a teenager.

Sold as Laili World Bahulu, her kuih bahulu are also available at selected shops in the city on normal days.

Asked what was so special about her kuih bahulu, Lailatul said:

“I’ve been told by customers that my kuih bahulu is more traditional compared with others and that they like it because I do not use any baking powder.”

Lailatul can be contacted at 019-3759449.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nature’s miracle enzyme - Star

Sept 2, 2008 By WINNIE YEOH

CHIN Choon Sin, 70, who had severe diabetic sore feet, is thankful someone introduced him to eco-enzyme, which is also known as garbage enzyme.

“I was so helpless at that time as my feet has become dark with infections. Even the doctor had given up but I knew I had to try something to save my feet,” he said.

Chin is able to walk today as his wounds have dried up and the energetic elder was seen promoting the use of eco-enzyme during a talk held in conjunction with the Drainage Cleanliness Campaign held at the Dewan Rakyat Pasar Pagi, Tanjung Bungah, Penang yesterday.

The campaign was organised by the Pe- nang Sudarshan Kriya Organisation and Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu.

Eco-friendly enzyme:Pouring eco-enzyme into drians can help save the environment as it neutralises the chemicals inside them

Convinced user:Chin showing the wound on his leg that has healed with the help of eco-enzyme.

Cheap and practical:Dr Oon demonstrating how eco-enzyme can be used to clean vegetables.

“I was like them, very doubtful at first and wondered how could some stinky muddy water save me but after three weeks of dipping my feet in it, my wounds started to heal!” he exclaimed excitedly.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who attended the campaign, said he first heard of the use of enzyme during the state assembly when Teh talked about recycling and promoting a green environment in the state.

“I didn’t really know what it was but I’m very interested with it. Now that I have a better idea of it and I hope more people will become aware of its benefit and start making it on their own at home,” he said.

He also said the state government in its first budget would implement several environmental measures to transform Penang into a green state.

Lim has also given the organisation permission to enter Pulau Burung to carry out cleanliness activity by pouring the eco-enzyme into rivers there.

Eco-enzyme is made from the fermentation for three weeks of leftover vegetables and fruit wastes. One has to mix one part of brown sugar with 10 parts of water, depending on the size of container used.

It can be added into shampoo, dish wash, laundry detergent as well as mixed with water for gardening and farming.

Eco-enzyme advocate Dr Joean Oon said: “The enzyme will neutralise the chemicals in our drainage systems and save the environment.

“We can reduce kitchen waste and that means less waste will be sent to the landfill.”

Lim later poured bottles of eco-enzyme into the drains at the market and distributed some bottles to hawkers there.

Those who attended the event were each presented with a bottle, a free container and brown sugar. They were also taught how to create their own eco-enzyme at home.

For details, contact 04-8901279.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nature getaway - Star

Aug 10, 2008 By SYLVIA LOOI

The Belum-Temenggor Rainforest, one of the oldest rainforests in the world, is the ideal area to commune with nature.

FOR those looking for to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, the Belum-Temenggor Rainforest in Hulu Perak is the place to head to.

The 130-million-year-old forest, which has been divided into Upper Belum (to the north) and the Temenggor Forest Reserve (to the south), following the construction of the East-West Highway linking Ipoh to the East Coast, is home to more than 100 species of exotic mammals.

A view of the refurbished Belum Rainforest Resort located at Pulau Banding.

Among them are the Asian elephant, Malayan tiger, leopard, sun bear, Sumatran rhinoceros and Malayan tapir. Ten hornbill species can also be found within the forest complex, including the endangered plain-pouched hornbill.

For those who are enticed by exotic plants, there are also places to catch glimpses of flora such as the rafflesia.

Nature lovers can also opt to put up in the newly refurbished Belum Rainforest Resort. The resort, located on Pulau Banding, was recently opened by the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah. The resort can help organise trips into the jungle as well as sightseeing opportunities.

The Belum Rainforest Resort offers visitors a means to a step back into nature. The resort is located next to the Belum-Temenggor Rainforest in Hulu Perak.

To get there from Kuala Lumpur, take the North-South Expressway heading north towards Ipoh.

Take the Kuala Kangsar exit and head towards Grik, bypassing the town of Lenggong. This will lead you to Pulau Banding.

The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Pulau Banding can take five hours or more, depending on the number of stopovers.

The bridge linking to the Belum Rainforest Resort on Pulau Banding in Hulu Perak.

For trips to Upper Belum, permits are required from the state’s park, police and army. No photos are allowed at the camp. A copy of the MyKad is required for Malaysians while foreigners need to submit a copy of their passport with full details. It takes at least a week to get these permits through the resort.

For details, call the resort at 05-791 6800 or log on to

Cheap eats in Cheras - Star

Aug 10, 2008 Compiled by RENITA CHE WAN

BLOGGER Ipohwav3 thought he’d round up all his friends, including avid food blogger J2Kfm, for dinner in Cheras. Earlier, his boss had brought food from a restaurant for lunch and everyone at the office seemed so impressed that Ipohwav3 decided to head to that outlet with his friends.

“At first, we all thought that Eiffel Restaurant & Dessert House served only Western dishes, but that’s not the case.

Thai Style Fish Fillet

“It serves mostly simple Chinese and Teochew dishes with a twist (although we never really get the Teochew feel, but nevermind that).

“We definitely liked the Thai Style Fish Fillet which was lightly battered, deep fried and tossed with tangy spicy Thai sauce, onion and cucumber.

“My boss and I had eaten the Salted Egg Fried Rice before and so I ordered it again. But this time, it failed to impress us,” wrote the blogger.

“The salted egg yolk (flavour) was mild and by the time we dug in, it was a little cold.

“Luckily, the Money Bags dish was still as good as I remembered it to be.

“They used seasoned minced fish paste with some chopped spring onions and wolfberries; all wrapped with thin wantan skin, deep fried and served on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce and wolfberries.

“There were several new dishes on the menu so we decided to give some of them a try.

“First on the list was the Lemongrass Chicken Pan Mee and it made me want to have Vietnamese-style pan mee.”

Money Bags

The blogger wrote the pan mee served was the dry version, the “hand-torn type” with delicious chunks of tender chicken infused with lemon grass, onion, spring onion and crushed peanuts in a dark, sticky dark sauce.

“The Crabmeat Pan Mee was also the ‘hand-torn type’ style, cooked in a chicken broth with cornflour (resembling shark’s fin soup consistency), egg, prawns, fish fillets, crabmeat sticks, spring onions, parsley and fish roe but somehow, it wasn’t that good.

“It was quite bland and the broth was a little too thick for my liking.

“As the name of the restaurant implies, crushed ice desserts are available so I settled for my old favourite Ais Kacang with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

“My friends had the Ice Mango Milk, Ice Blended Soursop and Mint Chocolate Milk Shake.

“The best part of the whole dinner was when the bill came! It didn’t even reach RM100 for the five of us – reasonable!

Eiffel Restaurant & Dessert House is located at 159, Jalan Lanchang, Taman Seri Bahtera, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. Blog address:
Ads by Google

Bak kut teh central - Star

Aug 10, 2008 Story and photos by GRACE CHEN

There is one street in the Klang Valley along which as many as eight bak kut teh vendors congregate to ply their trade.

AHH! There is just no mistaking the heady aroma of bak kut teh (pork rib soup).

This rejuvenating herbaceous brew is an all time classic.

One area which is famed for bak kut teh is Jalan Kelang Lama in Kuala Lumpur where there are eight stalls along the road. The set up is often in a coffee shop or a five foot way, and often, the stall is always surrounded by giant stainless steel pots, all boiling away, with the aromatic whiffs of this traditional pork meat soup escaping in the steam.

So, what goes into the bak kut teh soup?

According to Wong Khon Chong, 56, who runs Ah Wang Bak Kut Teh at 4½ mile, the stock for his bak kut teh is made up of no less than 13 types of Chinese herbs.

Bak kut teh vendor Wong Khon Chong uses 13 Chinese herbs for his concoction.

These herbs are then blended in different proportions. And in upholding tradition, Wong credits another bak kut teh ‘sifu’ Teh Kim Loong, 56, for teaching him how to prepare the herbal concoction. Teh, is the bak kut teh chef for Yan Yan Restaurant.

But bear in mind that this is not the standard recipe as every bak kut teh stall has its own variation.

Kong Tuck Hung Hong, 63, who has been operating for 30 years from a stall at the five foot way of the Kee Hin tyre shop in Jalan Teluk Gadong, which is off Jalan Kelang Lama.

“I only have star anise, cinnamon, Kum Chou and garlic in my soup. I don’t put in things like Dong Quai and Suk Tei because it will blacken the soup and make it very ‘heaty’.

“I prefer serving a clear, ‘cooling’ stock,” said Kong, who runs the stall with his 31-year-old son.

And though there may be personal preferences with regards to the herb issue, all agree that about five hours of boiling time is needed for the herbs to impart their flavour to the soup.

Next, come the pork cuts and another one hour of cooking is needed to ensure that the herbs are given time to seep into the meat.

And the variation of dishes that can come from a presumably simple bak kut teh meal is all up to a cook’s imagination.

Wong, for example, offers a full range of all the prime pork cuts, plus the perennial favourites like intestines, stomach and other offal. He also offers side dishes of steamed vegetables and chicken in a ginger wine soup, plus steamed Song fish head, which is also popular with his customers.

And not to be outdone, Foong Kin Fatt, 49, the owner of Yan Yan Restaurant, has a bak kut teh dish called ‘Sang Kuat Poh’ which are fresh pork cuts cooked to order.

“This is made fresh and the soup is not unlike that of a superior stock which is clearer and sweeter. It takes one hour to make and you have to call in advance for this dish,” said Foong.

Interestingly, Tee of Yan Yan’s, who has worked in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong would point out that the bak kut teh recipe may well be a Malaysian invention which originated from Klang about 50 years ago.

“I believe that it was the fishermen who invented this dish because they were always exposed to wet conditions.

“Hence, they looked for a way to invigo­rate themselves by drinking a combination of herbs and that must have been how they stumbled upon this concoction,” surmised Tee.

And though he agrees that the popularity of bak kut teh has spread to as far as Thailand, Singapore and China, he strongly believes that they are but generics of the Malaysian version.

For enquiries, call Ah Wong Bak Kut Teh at 014-3344334 and Yan Yan Restaurant at 03-79845972. To locate Kong’s bak kut teh stall, look out for Kee Hin tyre shop on your left as you enter Jalan Kelang Lama as you’re coming in from the Mid Valley Mega Mall direction.


>Mo Sang Koh BKT in Klang: 1) Jln Chan Ah Choo Pandamaran, 2) Per Raja Muda Musa 3) Berkeley Gdn (near the famous pan mee) KA

>Tian sang bak kut teh, jalan rasah, seremban

>Best Bak kut teh must be Teow Chew Bak Kut Teh in Taman Merdeka, Melaka, just in front of caltex. U can see lotsa japanese expats here. Full house every noon. ~babadaniel

>Green house penang bak kut teh, hoo liao.... T.Montana

>Yeo’s bakuteh no:106-108, jalan sultan, segamat, johor

>Hong Bee Bak Kut Teh, No. 613, Bt. 3 3/4 Off Jln. Ipoh, 51200 Kuala Lumpur. (near Mutiara Complex)

Sweet temptations - Star

Aug 10, 2008 By RENITA CHE WAN
Photos by UU BAN

Accepting a challenge from her spouse, Jesslyn Goh has set up dessert outlets and is determined to expand within the Klang Valley.

IN a bid to bring her husband back to Malaysia, Jesslyn Goh vowed that by the end of next year, she would open up several dessert outlets in the Klang Valley.

One of the popular dessert dishes at Snowy Healthy Dessert Home is the Hasmar with Coconut Juice in Papaya.

Her husband, who is Hong Kong national told her that the only way to get him to reside in Malaysia was if she could set up five outlets of her Snowy Healthy Dessert Home within two years.

Married for six years, the 27-year-old is determined to win the challenge and has since opened up two outlets: one in Mid Valley Mega Mall and the other in Sunway Pyramid within the course of only a year.

“I understand why he wants me to go through all this.

“But I appreciate the fact that he would still consider moving here if I successfully set up another three more outlets,” said Goh. She met her husband while studying Mass Communications at what was then Limkokwing college. After dating for about a year, she decided to move to Hong Kong with him and a few months after that, they were married.

“I stayed there for close to four years, working with California Fitness in the Human Resource Depart­ment,” she said.

“One day, I was supposed to meet my husband but he was too caught up with work, so I thought I’d wait for him at one of the dessert parlours.

“It was then that I realised that in Hong Kong, desserts play a really big role in their lives. Over there, a plate of dessert is free after every meal in every restaurant.

“You can see about 100 ­dessert shops if you walk along the long stretch of shop lots at the popular places.”

Inspired by this, Goh had the idea to one day open such a business back in Malaysia. Opportunity knocked when she was offered the post of country manager of California Fitness in Malaysia.

“I immediately took the job offer because I missed Kuala Lumpur so much and couldn’t wait to move back to Malaysia.

The Kiwi Cup Sago.

“However, my husband refused to move back with me, saying that he was already too comfortable in Hong Kong.

“I couldn’t pass up this opportunity and told him I’d move anyway and hoped that he would come after me soon and that’s when he came up with the challenge,” explains Goh.

Snowy Healthy Dessert Home offers a wide variety of snowy drinks which combine mixed fresh fruits, aloe jelly and bird’s nest. The desserts have no artificial flavours, and are made without the use of powders or purées, according to Goh.

There is the Honey, Aloe Vera, Kiwi, Water Melon, Coconut, Hasma, Ginseng, Mango, Papaya and Apple snowy drinks. There’s also the cup sago, fresh juices, special stewed drinks and fresh mixed fruit platters.

Apart from the desserts, the outlet also serves local and Western-style food but the highlight is obviously the scrumptious desserts.

You might think that the bird’s nest drinks are going to put a dent in your wallet but that is not the case here at Snowy Healthy Dessert Home.

“My family owns a bird’s nest business in several towns in the country like in Ipoh and Johor.

“So I am able to sell the drinks at a much cheaper price compared to my competitors,” she said.

Mango Sherbet and Black Glutinous Rice with Coconut Milk.

There are 60 items on the menu, including the main meal dishes and most of them are creatively crafted by Goh herself.

“My intention was to target the younger generation aged between 16 and 23, but surprisingly, I get a lot of the older generation who are more health conscious.

“The drinks are 100% without artificial flavouring substances and without white sugar. I use only brown sugar in my drinks and dishes.”

Goh mentioned that she is hoping to open outlets in Sungai Wang Plaza, Kuala Lumpur, as well as Cineleisure and The Curve in Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to sample her tasty desserts, check out her shop at Sunway Pyramid, located on the First Floor in the Asian Avenue section. Goh can be contacted at 03-5632 8831.

Bountiful harvest

Aug 10, 2008 By CLARA CHOOI
Photos by LEW YONG KAN

During durian season, the sleepy towns of Lenggong and Gerik spring to life as fruit vendors line the streets with their haul of the season’s tropical fruits.

IT is that time of the year again when scores of makeshift stalls crowd the roadsides, all packed with mountains of South-East Asia’s King of Fruits – durians.

Recognisable both by sight and smell, these spiky, dark-green goodies need no introduction to Malaysians.

In fact, those who wait in anticipation every season would know that this year’s harvest bears fruit that tastes even better, thanks to favourable weather conditions during cultivation.

Farmer Chin Chan, 59, showing the thick, yellow pulp of the durians at his home in Lenggong.

And of course, often going hand-in-hand with these succulent delights are some of the other famous tropical fruits like the dukong, mangosteens and rambutans.

In the usually quiet towns of Lenggong and Gerik in northern Perak, the fruit season is the one time in the year when the pace picks up as fruit vendors flock to the open streets to set up shop.

At Osman Baba’s 4.6ha orchard in Gerik, the output of his over-80 durian trees fill up almost five lorries of durians daily, with each lorry carrying over 1,500 fruits.

At cost price, his durians are often sold at RM4 per kilo to dealers, who would in turn mark the price up further when selling to vendors or customers.

“This is really a great season for the durians. Here in Gerik especially, the durians are well sought after as they are grown on hilly terrain,” he said.

Osman added that the durians from Gerik were often supplied to vendors and dealers from as far as Penang, Ipoh and even Kuala Lumpur.

“Many people do not know about how good the durians in Lenggong and Gerik are. We are often forgotten because these towns are small and obscure.

“But if you really come out here and try for yourself, you’ll realise that some of the best durians can be found in any orchard in our towns,” he said.

True enough, almost every single fruit Osman opened during our tasting session was heavenly.

His best fruits were mostly thick-pulped, as creamy as ice cream and left a sweet aftertaste.

In fact, the pulp is so rich and creamy that it is near impossible to finish one whole fruit in one sitting.

“I have a few types of durian grades. But the most common ones that I grow are the D24 and the D88 durians,” he said.

Such clones, and ones like the D26, are the thicker-pulped types of durians, much unlike the smaller, sweeter kampung durians.

“It depends on your taste buds of course, but in general, people like the fleshy durians.

“With those, one fruit is good enough for two or three persons!” said Osman.

Many others, he added, love the Raja Kunyit variety of durians, which are also thick-fleshed and are usually a brilliant shade of yellow, as its name suggests.

“The Raja Kunyit breed is a favourite, of course. The pulp has a very strong, power-packed taste that hits all your taste buds at once,” said Osman.

Unfortunately, the Raja Kunyit durians from Osman’s orchard were still on the trees during our binge session.

Farmer Chan Ong @ Chan Onn, 61, inspecting the ripeness of dukong grown in his home compound in Lenggong.

Besides durians, Osman also has a fair number of mangosteen and dukong trees at his orchard.

“Usually, during the durian season in the months of June and July, the mangosteens and dukongs are also ready for harvest.

“This is why these fruits are often sold at the same time, along with rambutans.

“Of course, many people like to eat mangosteens after eating durians because it cools one’s body down,” he said.

Like his durians, Osman’s mangosteens and dukongs are equally good.

“I believe the one reason why my fruits are often good is because of the maintenance of my orchard.

“I make sure that I pamper my fruit trees with the right kind of soil and I keep the place spick and span. I think this helps,” he said.

In fact, Osman is so proud of his orchard that throughout the season, he brings in large groups of his buddies from all over to feast beneath a man-made tree house located amidst his fruit trees.

During a certain time of day, the orchard becomes almost postcard-perfect; the afternoon sunlight filters through the trees, bathing everything in a golden sheen.

The air there is often cool due to the high altitude and at every interval, one would hear the distinct “thump” of a durian falling from a distant tree.

Just be careful where you tread – a durian on the head could definitely prove fatal indeed!

In Lenggong, those who know of brothers Chan Ong @ Chan Onn, 61, and Chin Chan, 59, and their “special” varieties of durians, often flock to their orchard during the harvest season. This is because the brothers are known to grow only the best varieties – those which they have sampled from all over and brought home to plant. This also applies to their dukongs, rambutans and cempedaks.

Even the dukong and rambutan trees grown at their single-storey home in town produce good fruits.

But do not ask them the names of those varieties for the duo would not be able to answer you.

The sweet and sour taste of the mangosteens are also a firm Malaysian favourite.

“All I can say is that our dukongs are juicier than other types.

“As for our durians, I don’t know what names they have. All I know is that they are the best and those who buy from us know it too,” says Ong.

Any doubts can be removed with a just one bite of any one of their durians.

Ong’s durians are a myriad of different varieties – one fruit has a thick and yellow pulp, another is so pale it is almost off-white while the others are the common pale yellow with tiny whitish seeds.

However, the one thing they all have in common is this; they are all succulent and juicy, with an abundance of soft flesh that wrinkles when their surfaces are pressed and they all taste even creamier than ice cream.

In fact, Ong’s durians are so good that they could fetch a high price of up to RM25 or RM30 per fruit at the stalls.

Buying it directly from him at the town centre however would cost about RM15 or so, depending on the size of the fruit.

Of course, if you’re too lazy to drive out that far just to buy durians and don’t want stink up your car interior when you transport the fruits back, you could settle for the closest roadside stall in your neighbourhood.

And if the vendor tells you his fruits are from Lenggong or Gerik, then brace yourself for an unforgettable durian experience!

At Osman Baba’s orchard in Gerik, a day’s harvest of durians can fill up to five lorries daily, with each carrying about 1,500 fruits.

Here are a few helpful tips on how to choose durians:

1. Make sure the fruits are unopened before taking a close whiff . The good ones usually emanate an extremely strong, pungent scent.

2. Shake the fruit gently. If you hear the sound of something soft thudding against something soft that sounds like “gloog, gloog gloog”, chances are, the durians are ripe.

3. Sweep your nails against the surface of the durian skin and listen for a hollow sound.

4. Durians do not necessarily have to be heavy to be tasty. The smaller, lighter ones could be equally as good as those with thick pulp .

5. If the vendor makes the effort to prise the durians open for you, select the ones that have a wrinkled layer of skin on the pulp

6 . To prise open a durian, look for its opening point that resembles a pathway or a visible line amongst the durian’s thorns that will begin from the bottom of the fruit. The line is usually visible when you see two rows of thorns growing towards one another.

7 . Make a small incision in the centremost point at the bottom of the fruit with a knife. Twisting the knife around will help you find that opening point.

8. To get rid of the pungent durian scent in your car or house, simply place charcoal or slices of bread at selected locations. Within a day or two, the smell should be gone.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wine blogger shares tips on getting the best - Star


CREATING symphonies with spirits is what Ron Khoo does best. No, he’s not a medium, instead he is involved in wine, and lots of it.

Being a wine importer, distributor and retailer, the 34-year-old entrepreneur not only owns two IT companies and a recording studio, but is also the proud owner of several Wine Cellar and Tasting Room outlets.

Khoo is also an avid blogger.

When I was invited to sample some of his wines and the exquisite dishes whipped up by his chef, I got to know him and we became friends.

According to him, his first foray into the blogging world was about five months ago when he set up, a place for him to share his experiences with wine, food and travel.

The expert: Ron Khoo holding a glass of Soave in a winery in Valpolicella, Italy.

One of the most distinctive features of his blog is an introduction to matching wine and Asian cuisines, a rather extraordinary and refreshing concept.

There’s even a section on his blog called Your Matching Experiences where readers are invited to share their views on interesting food and wine pairings.

“Eventually, I want my blog to become a virtual database of my wine knowledge. It will have a listing of the thousands of wines I’ve tasted, my wine tasting ideas, my wine education series, my food and wine matching recommendations and stories of my overseas wine travels.

“This will also act as my own resource centre where I can log in from anywhere in the world to access information about a certain wine I’ve tasted and want to recall at that moment,” he said.

Khoo admitted that blogging had made it easier to update friends, colleagues and associates on what he was doing.

“I used to e-mail the same stuff to many people when they asked me. Now, I just point them to the URL. I’ve also learnt to become more observant when I travel and when I experience new things.

“I’ve also met new people from the blogging community and it’s interesting to have cross discussions on each other’s blog,” he said.

An evening out with Khoo is intriguing — dining at roadside food stalls with two tall glasses and a bottle of Nivole Moscato d’Asti (which, by the way, is my favourite wine) is definitely an experience to savour. It is also almost guaranteed to attract stares from those sitting at tables around you.

Like most wine lovers, Khoo’s affair with wine began when he was in his early twenties.

“The first time I had wine was in university — one of those living skills you pick up other than the academic ones. Of course, it started with the cheap 99 pence stuff at the local supermarket as we just could not afford to buy good quality wines.

“Eventually, we graduated to £2.99 wines,” he said.

It was not long before Khoo met a few people with similar interests and he began a business venture into the wine industry, setting up shop and bringing in a first shipment of wines. So far, Khoo has tasted thousands of wines from different parts of the world. His two favourite wines are the Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Trocken­bee­re­nauslese 2001 and the Domaine Dujac Morey St. Denis 1976.

I asked him to share an interesting fact about wine that not many people would know and he said he could share the story of an obscure grape called the Saperavi used by Georgian winemakers to make a sweet red but he felt it was only meaningless trivie.

“One thing important to remember is that each wine has its own ageing capability bell curve. It doesn’t always mean the older the wine, the better so don’t age a wine unless you know it’s worth it. Always ask the person you bought it from. They should know,” Khoo said.

Apart from wine, Khoo is also into fast cars, golf and photography and he also enjoys spending time with his wife and two dogs whenever he can. As a parting note, Khoo said the best wines to go with a lighter style of Bak Kut Teh would be the Cava from Spain or a light-medium bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

Taste Secrets: French Crêpe - Star

Culinary trainer Jean-Michel Fraisse from The French Culinary School in Asia demonstrates how to prepare the classic French crêpe.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The best beef balls by far - The Star


CECIL Street – or See See Kai in Cantonese – is a name you will not find on today's map because it has been renamed Jalan Hang Lekiu.

It is one place in the city centre that is rich and colourful with history. Many of the buildings here were built at the turn of the last century and certain parts of it are still standing – a legacy of the migrant Chinese architecture of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Its association with Chee Cheong Kai or Petaling Street in Chinatown made it a tourist attraction, which is heavily promoted abroad.

So, when it comes to food, Cecil Street would hardly disappoint you. As for me, the street brings back many sweet memories of school days in my teenage years.

Tourist trap: Cecil Street, which is now known as Jalan Hang Lekiu, is an endearing destination for tourists from all over the world

I remember my aunt Lorraine used to pack lunch from some of the makan places here back in the mid-70s – and some of the well-known eateries in the city centre are found here.

So, first off, I would like to start with the much-hyped and talked-about Koon Kee noodle shop. It is not hard to locate this eatery because it was widely publicised by the local and foreign media.

To give you a better picture, the shop is in the centre row opposite Petaling Street's Hong Leong Bank. Now, this particular makan place is said to be pricey.

I found the allegations baseless because the bad rap was made good by the shop's offering of excellent food. For RM4 a plate, you can hardly complain.

So, to sample the legendary Koon Kee wantan noodles, I roped in my regular makan kaki C.M. Khor, who is familiar with the history of Cecil Street.

“Eh, Sam, this place still hasn't lost its touch lah! The char siew is as good as I first tasted it back in the mid-60s,” he said. The shop, he added, is now in the hands of the second-generation.

As for the generous portion and the juicy and succulent char siew, I recall my aunt packing mar meen (double helping) from Koon Kee as her lunch treat for the whole Cheong clan back when she was working in a multinational company in Brickfields.

Apart from wantan noodles, Koon Kee also serves rice and its famed swey kow (meat dumplings). But, since I had plans to sample another legendary food stall in the neighbourhood, I gave that a pass.

For RM11.40 (two single-helping plates of wantan noodles and two drinks), the Koon Kee experience was money well spent. My follow-up trip would be a session to sample its swey kow.

Now, many of the good makan places in Cecil Street have relocated. One of them was Lee Thong Kee chicken hor fun that shifted to Jalan Tun H.S. Lee.

If you love lorng-yuk (barbecued pork jerky), the Kiew brothers are found here. They occupy a pre-war shop house and if you follow your sense of smell, it would lead you right to it.

One of my favourite Chinese confectionery shops here is Fung Wong biscuit, which is well known among the old-school city dwellers.

Here, you can find some of the best Chinese pastries like the char siew sou, tan tart (egg tart) and kaya kok (kaya puff). Prices are also very reasonable and folks who know this place would usually pack plenty of biscuits and pastries for takeaway.

Moving on, one of my favourite beef noodles stalls is found here in Cecil Street. Housed in what was previously a pre-war shop house, Kiew Yee ngau chap fun is a makan place that has stood the test of time.

Healthy business: The late breakfast crowd at Koon Kee noodle shop in Cecil Street.

As I recall, my aunt used to take me for lunch in this particular outlet back in the mid-70s. Now it is manned by the owner's son, who can be seen preparing his orders at a stall at the far left corner in Tang's food centre.

It is no mistake that the same fella, who is in his mid-50s, is now the man in charge. You can savour the ngau chap meen (beef offal noodles) either in soup or in dry gravy.

At RM6 a bowl, prices were inflated but the saving grace here is the good taste and reasonable portion. Kiew Yee noodle stall is one of the very few beef noodle sellers in the city that can give you a good portion of tender beef fillet with your order.

Now, if I may add, the stall's hand-made beef balls are so springy, I would say that they are the best I have ever tasted and so far, no makan place has come close.

Here in Cecil Street, you can find food from dawn to dusk. There is simply too much to cover and well, it seems that I may have left out the famous porridge next to Koon Kee and the Hokkien mee seller next to it.

But rest assured, I will cover these, especially for you, my readers out there, in my next “Samo super supper special food trail”.

To get there, hop onto an LRT and get off at the Pasar Seni station. Cecil Street is about a 10-minute walk from there. And, for those who have a cell-phone navigate by voice GPS system, key in the following coordinates: Koon Kee (Long N 03 08” 669', Lat E 101 41” 879'), Tang's Food Centre – Kiew Yee beef noodles (Long N 03 08” 669', Lat E 101 41” 880').

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sample European cuisine with emphasis on Croatian treats - The Star


WALKING into the Dubrovnik restaurant is like entering the historical city itself.

The restaurant at Solaris Mont Kiara is owner Zoran Djumic's memory of Croatia as the family replicated the famed city by emphasising some of its charm, notably the white walls.

His daughter Dina, who is the general manager, says the family hoped to introduce Croatia and promote her people, culture and food to their customers.

Mouth-watering: The Lamb Croatia, a lamb steak dish lavish with green pepper sauce accompanied by mint flavoured green peas and pommes dauphine.

The republic's patron, St. Blaise or Sveti Vlaho as referred to by the locals is visible on the glass panels that front the outlet with the crest of Dubrovnik sharing a spot. The crest is also stamped on the cover of the plum red menu.

Dubrovnik has been called a Croatian restaurant but Dina corrects this perception, saying it serves European food with emphasis on Croatian favourites.

Not knowing what to expect at a Croatian-European outlet, we asked Dina and her friend Bruna Kobescak to walk us through the dishes.

White charm: Dubrovnik is elegant in white serving European and Croatian favourites.

On the menu, the appetiser section lists out a variety of soup and cheese offerings.

We had the Appetiser Platter that consisted of Strukli, Suppli and Palacinke, which are traditionally Croatian.

The Strukli is a likeable starter – a fresh cheese dumpling pan fried with breadcrumbs and served with sour cream while the Palacinke is crepes filled with cream cheese and baked.

The cheese for both these appetisers are made at the outlet so it is guaranteed to be fresh and flavourful.

There’s an Italian influence in the brown and round Suppli as these fried rice balls have mozzarella as an added ingredient.

With Italy, a close neighbour across the Adriatic Sea, it became evident why some of the dishes that rolled out of the kitchen looked very familiar.

The Calzone – the huge folded pizza was our first main course.

Packed with either beef or chicken salami, the calzone is handsomely flavoured with tomato, mushrooms, mozzarella and oregano.

Quickly looking through the menu, I caught sight of a list of pastas – Gnocchi alla Gorgonzola, Gnocchi Pomodoro, Pasta Spalato, Seafood Fettucini, Tagliatelle al’amatriciana and Carbonara.

“All the pastas here are freshly made and served with our homemade sauces,” Dina said.

Then Dina pointed to the wood-burning oven in the kitchen where the outlet's famed pizzas were baked.

Apple treat: The Apple Pita (creamy apple filling in thin crispy dough) is a traditional Croatian favourite.

She explained that the food of the Italians was also familiar to Croatians, as pastas, pizzas and breads had become part of their lifestyle.

A typical Croatian meal would be the Cevapi and Djuvedj, which translates to mean grilled meat with fragrant rice.

The Cevapi (meat) is styled like a kebab, only that the meat is not fashioned unto skewers but moulded by hand to look like sausages.

This simple grilled meat seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper is dished up with a lovely serving of rice, with eggplant, tomato, capsicum, celery and onions offering a good combination of taste and colour.

On the side, a spicy Croatian vegetable salsa accompanies the rice and meat presentation.

Authentic: The Appetiser Platter that consisted of Strukli, Suppli and Palacinke is traditionally Croatian.

Another Croatian dish is the Chicken Agram with chicken breast filled with scrambled eggs and fresh spices, served with chips and mixed salad.

The Lamb Croatia, a lamb steak dish lavish with green pepper sauce accompanied by mint flavoured green peas and pommes dauphine is appropriate for the not so adventurous as it borders on familiarity. It is after all, a steak!

Dina said some of the Croatian dishes required a day’s advance notice for preparation like Peka, Tartar Beefsteak and Sarma.

The Peka is described as a preparation of meat, seafood and vegetables under an iron bell, cooked in a wood-burning oven while the Tartar Beefsteak is grated raw beef that gets tossed with 12 spices at your table. Interesting!

The Sarma lends a little sour taste on the palate as minced beef with rice, rolled in sour cabbage leaf is served with gravy and mashed potatoes.

Dig in: A typical Croatian meal would be the Cevapi and Djuvedj with flavourful rice and minced meat sausages relished with Croatian vegetable salsa.

Once the Croatian chef’s creations have been dealt with, the French chef works his spell rolling out mouth-watering desserts to entice customers.

The traditional Croatian favourite Ragusa Caramelo (layered caramel cake) is a delightful introduction to Croatian sweets while the traditional Apple Pita (creamy apple filling in thin crispy dough) teases the palate further.

The Stef’s Chocolate Cake – chocolate mousse cake perfectly combined with amarena cherry is another satisfying end.

RESTAURANT DUBROVNIK, J-OG-14, Solaris Mont Kiara, 2, Jalan Solaris, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-6203 6780). Business hours: 11.30am to 11pm daily except Mondays.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Honeymoon bliss - The Star

Jul 6 - Compiled by FARIDAH BEGUM

Honeymooning domestically is just as good as doing so abroad.

Bukit Tinggi, Pahang

None can compare to the French influenced Colmar Tropicale, which is only about an hour’s drive from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur and boasts of not just a setting but the ambience is not unlike the real towns of France that it emulates. Perfect for a weekend or just a short honeymoon, it is sure to appeal to the hearts of newly-weds for a repeated honeymoon trip.

Cameron Highlands, Pahang

The highlands offer honeymooning couples a great English setting. Not having to fork out thousands to get to the outskirts of London, you can enjoy afternoon tea, cool weather and many cold evenings together with good steamboats and Continental meals at most restaurants here.

The Andaman, Langkawi, Kedah

Situated in the picturesque Datai Bay, honeymooning couples will find the tranquillity a great help in keeping the romance burning. Lots to do with the natural setting such as bird watching, sunsets and even a round of golf if either one or both are enthusiasts.

Serai di Lanjut, Pahang

If a timeless holiday is on the cards, then this place is just right. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life coupled with the slow and easy pace here, one can just stretch out on the white sandy beaches for hours on end or play a round of golf or even go river fishing.

Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu

Many couples have met on scuba diving trips and this can account for quite a percentage of marriages. It is only right and perhaps understandable if they choose to go on a scuba diving honeymoon, especially where they first met. Pulau Perhentian may be the place or even a good alternative. Known as one of the best diving posts in the country, Pulau Perhentian is actually made up of two islands, namely Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil.

Pangkor Island Resort, Pangkor, Perak

Look forward to sunset cruises, traditional Malay massages and lots of time together in the beautiful resort that was voted the best in the West Coast. With a private beach exclusively for guests of the resort, you can plan many outdoor activities such as jungle trekking, archery, parasailing and cycling.

Permai Rainforest Resort, Kuching, Sarawak

If your wish is to have a taste of everything, then this is the perfect getaway for you. You get a package of the sun, sea, beach, mountains, waterfalls and modern facilities all in one place. Just 30 minutes from Kuching, you will want for nothing except more time to do all the things you want together as a couple, and more.

Tanjong Jara, Terengganu

Noted for its pristine turquoise waters and its hidden location, there are lots that a honeymooning couple can do here. For one, it boasts of a good spa, just right for a couple that has gone through the mill with the preparation of the wedding and the crush of relatives. It also provides the couple a chance to be just by themselves and enjoy their newly entwined lives together.

Pulai Springs Desaru, Johor

Designed like an ancient Malay palace, Pulai Springs is on one of the unspoilt beaches south of the East Coast in the peninsula. Like most resorts, it promises the excitement of a beach resort yet maintains a calm and serene atmosphere that is conducive for honeymooning and gives couples time to acquaint themselves further besides enjoying the array of activities available here such as golf and jungle trekking, and with an untouched forest that casts a romantic glow in the evenings.

Nexus Resort Karambunai, Sabah

Winner of many prestigious awards, this place has been described as heaven on earth with its natural setting and the numerous activities that come with it. A lagoon park fulfils one’s desires of water games and the 30ha nature park within the resort gives honeymooning couples hours of trekking together.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Beef noodles, just as you like it - The Star

Jul 3, 2008

THREE things come to mind when I recall the good old days of Foch Avenue, which has been renamed Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, after the founding father of the Malayan Chinese Association (now the Malaysian Chinese Association).

Still made by hand: Shin Kee is one of the few makan places around the business district that offers hand-made noodles.

First, the “Wild West” era, when phai kia (bad hats) roamed freely along the five-foot-way, terrorising secondary school students by mugging them in broad daylight.

A few of my schoolmates fell victim to such muggers and it was not until the late 80s that crime prevention rounds were intensified by the cops to deter the rising crime rate.

Kids were fearful of getting mugged while they waited for their buses at the bus stand located in front of the old Standard Chartered Bank in this area.

Thugs and misadventures aside, the next thing that came to mind was the second-hand bookstores that dotted this busy main road.
Busy area: The intersection of Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Jalan Tun H.S. Lee.

I used to sell my old Beano, Dandy and 2000AD comics for pocket money to a newsvendor who set up shop next to the Standard Chartered Bank here.

It justified spending 30 sen on the bus ride and a trip to the Rex cinema at Jalan Sultan where, for RM1.60, one could enjoy a movie in the comfort of a first-class seat.

But, it was the third and most memorable thing that got me coming back to Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock – the good food – and this can be found at Lai Foong coffee shop.

If you grew up in the city, this is one makan place that needs no introduction. Lai Foong began its business more than half a century ago.

Today, it is still going strong. What I like about eating in this coffee shop is the no-frills selection of rice and noodle dishes. And one of the most famous stalls in this eatery is the ngau chap meen (beef noodles).

After 51 years, the quality and portion is still as good. When it comes to pricing, I would say that the fare is decent and the portion, generous.

Tasty and unique: Shin Kee's beef noodles.

A bowl of beef noodles costs RM5 for a small helping and RM6 for a bigger helping, for those with a large appetite. Now, if you ask the seasoned folks who eat here, they would recommend a “customised” bowl of beef noodles.

For me, the thrill here is to ask for the ngau peen or bull's penis. This special dish can cost RM12 or more, depending on the choice morsels that you add.

And, since the “extra” special ingredient is not always available, not every beef noodle lover would get an order of bull's penis. I was told that you have to go early or call the stall owner to book your additional serving of the bull's pride.

So, how does it compare with the mamak's sup torpedo? Well, there are differences. The sup torpedo version is rather crunchy while Lai Foong's ngau peen is tender.

No drop in quality: Lai Foong's beef koay teow has retained its quality and taste after all these years.

Whichever way you look at it, it will take plenty of guts to munch down an exotic dish such as this. Bull's penis aside, there are some really good stalls at Lai Foong.

But, before you embark on your journey to this coffee shop, let me remind you that parking lots around this central business district are limited.

Not only that; the makan place is usually packed during lunch hour – so, if you want to enjoy your noodles, the best thing to do is to get there early.

The kai fan (chicken rice) came highly recommended and if you love Chinese confectionery and pastries, there is the Tong Kee stall that sells them.

For your late tea session, my recommendation would be the sesame crackers and butter buns. You cannot go wrong with this combination.

And, while we are on the subject of beef noodles, there is another makan place opposite Lai Foong coffee shop called Shin Kee beef noodle specialist.

It is easy to locate this eatery because it is a corner lot and it is perpetually crowded. I discovered this noodle shop when I made my way to a bank here to pay the instalment on my car loan.

I learnt that the noodles at this shop are hand-made and each bowl costs RM6 (small) and RM8 (large). You can ask for beef balls or ngau chap (beef offal).

Service is prompt and with the good tasting noodles, the makan experience here is pretty pleasant. The shop is open from 10am to 5pm and is closed on Wednesdays.

To get to Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, you can take an LRT ride to the Pasar Seni station and take an eight–minute walk. Major bus companies also ply this route and the nearest stops are at the Central Market and Kota Raya complex.