Thursday, June 19, 2008

Looking at Neem - The Star

Ancient remedy for healthy skin in the new millennium.

THE ancients, as well as modern science, acknowledge neem, also known as nimba or margosa, as a powerful healing herb with diverse applications.

Described in Ayurvedic texts as sarva roga nivarini – that which keeps all diseases at bay, or arishtha – reliever of disease – neem has been used in the Ayurvedic tradition for thousands of years to maintain health.

The roots, bark, gum, leaves, fruit, seed kernels and seed oil are all used in therapeutic preparations for both internal and topical use.

Neem and skin diseases

This remarkable tree has over 135 biological compounds – making it effective for a wide range of ailments. The neem leaf is renowned for having an almost magical effect on the skin. It works as an antifungal, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.

A neem sapling ... The roots, bark, gum, leaves, fruit, seed kernels and seed oil of neem are all used in therapeutic preparations for both internal and topical use.

Like the leaves, the oil (obtained by crushing neem seeds) is used for skin problems.

Neem preparations are reportedly efficacious against a variety of skin diseases, septic sores, and infected burns. Neem is toxic to several fungi that attack humans, including the causes of athlete’s foot and ringworm. It ca be used against candida, which cause yeast infections and thrush.

Experiments with smallpox, chicken pox, and fowl pox show that although neem does not cure these diseases, it is effective for purposes of prevention.

According to a report from the National Research Council’s Ad Hoc Panel of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development, neem preparations from the leaves or oils can be used as general antiseptics. Because neem contains antibacterial properties, it is highly effective in treating epidermal conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema and other persistent skin problems.

It is also used for treating septic sores, infected burns, scrofula, indolent ulcers and ringworm.

Even many medical practitioners believe that smallpox, chicken pox and warts can be treated with a paste of neem leaves – usually rubbed directly on the infected skin.

Stubborn warts can be cleared up when a high-quality neem product is used. Unlike synthetic chemicals that often produce side effects such as rashes, allergic reactions, or redness, neem doesn’t seem to have any of these side-effects.

Early Ayurvedic practitioners believed high sugar levels in the body caused skin disease. Neem’s bitter quality was considered to counteract the sweetness.

Indians historically bathed in neem leaves steeped in hot water. This is still a common procedure for curing skin ailments or allergic reactions.

Neem oil can help with the symptoms of psoriasis. The oil moisturises and protects the skin while healing the lesions, scaling and irritation.

Experiments have shown that patients with psoriasis who have taken neem leaf orally, combined with trpical treatment with neem extracts and neem seed oil, achieve results at least as positive as those who use coal tar and cortisone, the more traditional treatments.

Coal tar products are messy and smelly and cortisone can thin the skin when used repeatedly. Neem has neither side effect.

It can be used for extended periods of time without any side effects, is easy to apply and is relatively inexpensive.

This article is courtesy of Pharmaniaga. For more information, e-mail The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Steak, lobster and pasta to thrill taste buds - The Star

Jun 17, 2008 By OH ING YEEN

Cosy: The cosy ambience of the outlet invites diners to unwind.

REGULAR patrons of the San Francisco Steakhouse in Summit USJ who were dismayed when the outlet closed, will be happy to know that it has shifted to Jaya Square in SS17/2.

Located next to the New Pantai Expressway (NPE), it is easily accessible and there is ample parking space. The outlet sports a San Francisco-themed interior, reflecting the city after which the steakhouse is named, with a cosy ambience.

With its tagline 'Where steak lovers call home', diners need look no further for tender and succulent steaks. Steak lovers can choose from juicy prime steaks of Angus beef or Australian Wagyu beef. Known for its marbling that gives rise to its “melt in the mouth” texture, the Wagyu beef is a popular choice.

Homemade Egg Pasta: Vongole Spaghetti is a perfect choice for those who like clams.

This branch is the first to feature the Homemade Egg Pasta, prepared under the supervision of executive chef Federico Michieletto. It is available only in the Jaya Square branch but will soon be available at all outlets. Diners can select from Spaghettoni Chitarra, Tagliatelle, and Handcut Pappardelle and six styles of preparation.

The highly recommended Aglio Olio style is a simple yet tasty combination of pasta, virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley and chilli to add a hint of spiciness.

If you like clams, try the Vongole style (vongole is Italian for “clams”), prepared with fresh clams sautéed in extra virgin oil with garlic, chilli and parsley.

Juicy prime steaks: Patrons can choose from Australian Wagyu beef or Angus beef.

Other options include Chicken Mushroom Alfredo, Beef Bolognese, Carbonara, and Cheese Maccheroni.

Diners can choose to start the meal with the flavourful Onion Soup, garnished with cheese croutons, that absorb the taste of sliced onion gently cooked in chicken consommé.

The Golden Gate Burger is a popular choice among young adults. The juicy grilled beef patty served in a bun with cheese and onion, comes with baked beans, coleslaw and French fries.

Sweet ending: Banana Tart with Chocolate Ice Cream and Vanilla Sauce, made from fresh bananas.

Seafood lovers can opt for the Boston Live Lobster. Whether grilled with garlic butter, broiled with spicy sauce or baked Thermidor style, is bound to satisfy your cravings for fresh lobster.

To end the meal on a sweet note, diners can choose from an array of delectable cakes, including the Almond Tiramisu, Cheese Cake and Chocolate Brownie A La Mode.

SAN FRANCISCO STEAKHOUSE, Ground Floor, Lot 7343, 5517/2, Subang Jaya, Selangor (Tel: 03-5635 3338). Business hours: Daily, noon to midnight. For more info, browse

Monday, June 2, 2008

A day at Durian-lover's paradise

If you are a durian fan and want to experience a different kind of durian tasting, then Bao Sheng Durian Farm in Sungai Pinang may be your dream destination.

Eat dim sum to your heart’s content without breaking the bank

The Star - Jun 2, 2008 By THO XIN YI

THE trick in making dim sum is to be innovative and creative, yet not losing the traditional touches.

Chef Yau Kim Yew of Golden Phoenix Restaurant in Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur takes great pleasure in inventing unique dim sum.

“I love to create and improve on different types of dim sum, and I enjoy the wonderful sense of accomplishment when my customers like what I have made,” he said.

Innovative chef: Chef Yau with the dim sum he created.

Possibly the youngest dim sum chef working in the Kuala Lumpur hotels, Yau started to learn the tricks of the trade at the age of 19.

“I entered this line of work out of my passion for indulging in dim sum. I worked in restaurants before I joined hotels, and became a chef at 27,” said the 29-year-old.

Yau has introduced some new dishes in the recently revamped dim sum menu and topping the list are Deep Fried Seafood Banana Rolls with Wasabi Sauce and Deep Fried Prawns with Cheese.

The Deep Fried dim sum: (From top) Deep Fried Prawns with Cheese, Pan Fried Minced Pork Meat Buns with Vegetables and Deep Fried Seafood Banana Rolls with Wasabi Sauce.

As its name suggests, the first item contains seafood, banana and wasabi – an unusual combination indeed.

“When fried, the banana is very aromatic and the wasabi adds a mild spicy flavour,” said Yau.

He assured diners that the Deep Fried Prawns with Cheese was not too cheesy as only a small portion of mozzarella cheese was added to the paste, before it was coated with cubed breadcrumbs and deep-fried in hot oil until the dim sum was crispy.

Meanwhile, the Pan Fried Minced Pork Meat Buns with Vegetables is a Shanghai-style dim sum item with pork, spring onion, ginger and pok choy.

Natural colour: Shredded red cabbage is visible in this Steamed Prawn Dumpling, adding some colour to the otherwise plain dim sum.

“It is steamed before being pan-fried to bring out its aroma,” Yau said, adding that all flour used in making dim sum was imported from Hong Kong to ensure the smooth texture of the buns.

Diners who do not fancy fried dim sum can opt for the 14 types of steamed dim sum available in the menu.

“In other restaurants, the prawn dumpling often contains mushrooms, but I add vegetables in our Steamed Prawn Dumplings with Red Cabbage. The appealing colour of this dim sum is natural, coming from the vegetables,” said Yau.

Another unique creation by Yau is the Steamed Sand Buns of Golden Phoenix.

The paste in the bun is made of salted egg yolk, milk powder and milk. When served, the paste that oozes from the soft bun is smooth and piping hot.

The Steamed Octopus and Prawn Dumpling is a fusion of Japanese and Chinese fare.

Fusion fare: The Japanese-inspired Steamed Octopus and Prawn Dumpling.

“I feel that the Japanese and the Chinese share a similar eating culture and thus the ingredients can be mixed and matched to bring about optimum results,” he said.

For dessert, Yau recommends Chilled Aloe with Butter Paste and Chilled Mango Pancakes.

“The former features aloe vera cubes served in blended avocado. We do not add sugar to it so the sweetness is all natural, from the fruits in this dessert,” he said.

As for the Chilled Mango Pancakes, the choice of mango is important.

“We import the mangoes from either India or Sri Lanka as these mangoes are very aromatic,” Yau explained.

Currently, there is a Yum Ley Sek (eat all you can) dim sum promotion until year-end.

Diners can order any steamed and deep-fried dim sum, congee and rice flour rolls. The promotion also includes three types of dessert chosen by the restaurant.

Priced at RM48++ per adult and RM24++ per child, the promotion is only available on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

Reservations are preferred.

GOLDEN PHOENIX, Hotel Equatorial, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur (Tel: 03-2161 7777 ext 8223). Dim sum is available from noon to 2.30pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and from 11am to 2.30pm on Sundays and public holidays. Non-halal.