Archive for June, 2009

Peaceful weekend

It was a quiet weekend of discovering old favourites.

Old favourite lamb nasi briyani from Insan’s Cafe. Haven’t visited this cafe since Asrul left, he will be happy to know that the lamb is still tender and flavourful.

Window shopping in the city. Thought of Andy when I saw this new transformers display, Jan, does Andy want a Transformer hoodie?

Good Fortune is doing  a whole roast duck for $15 deal from 5 – 6pm every Thursday. Anyone want to share duck?

My favourite Bin bin rice crackers are now available in Perth, I thought it was myth! Now Hieng Chiong won’t have to send them over from Kuching (^__^), now if only kolo mee was available in Perth.

I had a craving to cook up a storm in the kitchen this weekend. I was actually thinking of cooking Malaysian curry chicken but was too late for the butchers. So I made do with wrapping prawn wontons.

Prawn wontons with my favourite spring onion, ginger and vinegar dressing. This will also be lunch tomorrow.

Spurred by my friend Shirley’s announcement that she was flying to Kuching for our dear friends Linglang and Fung’s wedding, I had another look at flight prices and was amazed at the cheap prices. Immediately I dismissed important matters such as obtaining leave approval or spending most of the weekend in the airport, in my mind, I was already chomping down smooth, fragrant and tender Hainan chicken rice, window shopping in Orchard Road, walking in Kenyalang, spending precious hours with my parents and brother , chatting away with Shirley,YW and most importantly, witnessing LL and Fung walking down the wedding aisle.

Then the words ‘airport tax’ appeared on the screen and brought me crashing down to reality. SIGHHHHHHHH. (T________T). Maybe I’ll win the $90 million lotto this Tuesday. Really, I’m not greedy, $1 million will do.

*Fail* Jamie Oliver Sticky Chicken became Kecap Manis Honey chicken

This dish took ages to cook, first I bunged everything in the oven and waited for the said 35 minutes. 45 minutes later, the bone still wouldn’t pull away from the chicken like Jamie promised. Must be he has a super duper oven. So I got impatient and just took it out to grill (instead of bbq).

Earlier on I substituted lemon with lime (forgot to buy lemons), err, the end result, lime and lemon are really quite different. And I was too lazy to bash up the garlic cloves etc. so I made my own marinade with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), oyster sauce,  honey and Worcestershire sauce and basted the chicken with it.

End result?

Jamie Oliver western style bbq chicken became Daitaoha Malaysian style grilled chicken. It actually tasted not bad, only so not Jamie Oliver. On another note, it was my ex manager’s last day at work today, really quite sad since he was my first real boss and a very nice and supportive one as well. He left me his brand new chair and some good books! Sigh, I will miss him.

Oh yes! My blog will feature a new regular, Xian Zhang, Jo’s bf is flying to Perth tonight and he will be here for the next few years for studies. Exciting or not? So I have to go to bed now because his flight is at midnight.

Jamie’s recipe below:

Best barbecued sticky chicken with lemon and garlic

Ingredients

• 8 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on, preferably free range or organic
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• olive oil
• 1 bulb of garlic, whole
• 2 lemons
• 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, tied together
a good handful of rocket or pea shoots, washed and spun-dry

Method

Get your barbecue on about an hour before you want to cook and preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

Season the chicken well with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil. Get a big double layer of tin foil and pop the thighs in the middle with the bulb of garlic. Chop one of your lemons in half and pop this in too. Wrap the chicken up then put your foil parcel on a baking tray and into the hot oven for 35 minutes until the chicken pulls away easily from the bone – if you have to tug at it it’s not ready, so pop it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so.

When done, carefully take the chicken out off the oven and unwrap it. By this time your barbecue should be at the perfect temperature – a good medium heat – so get your chicken on to start charring.

While this is happening, get on with your sticky glaze. Carefully, clove by clove, squeeze the sweet roasted garlic out of its papery skin into a pestle and mortar. Carefully squeeze in the juice of your roasted lemon halves too. Give this a good bash up and season with salt and pepper then add a good lug of olive oil and mix until you have a thick paste. Now squeeze in the juice of the other lemon so you get 2 levels of lemon flavour – one sweet and roasted, the other fresh and zingy.

Use your rosemary sprigs to brush the paste onto the chicken, basting and turning for about 10 minutes so you are building up a lovely layer of sticky garlicky sweetness and a wonderful golden brown colour.

Once you’re happy with the chicken, use tongs to move it to a nice platter then top with the rocket or pea shoots and any remaining marinade and tuck in!

Sometimes you just need a pie

Tuesday lunch bento was ’empty your fridge’ salad made out of leftovers in the fridge.

Included tofu, crabsticks, bamboo shoots and teriyaki fish with sesame, lime and fish sauce dressing. Quite good eaten straightaway but not great for the day after.

I always try to prepare Jo’s lunch bento on Wednesdays because she has to go to work straight after.

Her lunch bento was stir-fried five spice honey chicken and mixed vegetables with rice.

Luckily I didn’t have to do the ‘A week of my life’ meme this week. Because the weather had been horrible of late, rainy, gloomy, dark and wet. I shiver when I go out and I shiver when I go home. I don’t know why I used to say I like winter, winter is horrible!

It doesn’t help that I’ve been leaving the office later and later. Usually I am the only one left with all the big bosses around. Sometimes I think to myself ‘what the hell am I doing here? I’m just a minion!’  I think I haven’t seen the sun all week (T____T).

Today it was another late workday. By the time I got out of the building it was pitch dark and drizzling. Two blocks before I reached my bus stop, I saw my bus rolling down the terrace. To run or not to run? I ended up running after the bus in the rain while trying to keep my shoes from falling off (for some reason they’re so loose lately). I collapsed on the bus seat, panting and thinking ‘there’s got to be a better life than this’ (ya, can swim 100 laps but can’t sprint two blocks, I’m so unfit).

While walking home from the bus stop, I wondered what to cook for dinner. The supermarket and veg shop was closed, any meat in the freezer would be rock hard. Then Jo called my mobile ‘where are you?’ ‘Err walking home on the road’ ‘Oh I’m at the lights waiting for you, scared you walk home in the dark alone’ ‘But doesn’t it defeat the purpose when you’re there alone?! Dangerous for you also what!’ ‘No, I’m at the lights, lots of cars!’ *slap forehead* Sigh, still it was very sweet of her but please hor Jo, wait for me at home!

So I decided to reward both of us for walking in the rain and said ‘Let’s buy takeaway for dinner’. We were deciding between kebabs and Subway. Guess what we had in the end? Jesters pie!

Jo’s Footy pie which is chunks of lean beef with bacon and mushrooms topped with tasty cheese. Looked very nice and oozy.

Mine was a special and not on their normal menu! It’s a Peri Peri pie which had chicken chunks, potato and carrots in a slightly spicy peri-peri sauce. Not bad but then I don’t really like potatoes in pie. Still, the puff pastry was very yummy and it was fun having a pie for a change.

Btw, I’ve added a new ‘sometimes you just need a’ category in my list, it’s for those posts where I succumb to temptation and just think ‘what the heck, sometimes you just need a …’ so far I’ve had curry, sushi and pie (^__^). Once I’ve decided on the ratings system I will put it up on my About page.

Haha, I just had a chat with my mum, we were gossing about the latest tvb dramas and she said  ‘Eh, that drama is REALLY HORRIBLE!!’ Then she said ‘You must watch it!’ I started laughing and said ‘ how come you say it’s really horible then you ask me to watch it?!’ She said ‘because you must watch it to see how horrible it is mah!’ My mum very cute hor Y(^___^)Y.

Daitaoha ratings

You know, this rating food and service thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be!

But I would like to remain consistent and at least have an idea what each rating scale stands for. How like this?

Should it be

  • 10 – out of this world
  • 9 – excellent
  • 8 – very good
  • 7 – good, recommended
  • 6  – fair
  • 5 – average
  • 4 – below average
  • 3 – poor
  • 2-  bad
  • 1 – send me to the hospital ?

Or what? I don’t know! Quick Jan and other foodies, help me out here.

The Left Bank @ Fremantle

While blogging about our Freo day out yesterday, I realised that I’ve yet to blog about the Freo food laden day that we had when Jan and Andy were in town. I’ll wait till I’m given the ok to put up their funny photos, but first, I want to blog about our dinner that night at The Left Bank. Even though it was quite some time ago, I think the Left Bank is deserving of a review, so Jan and Jo, try to help out with the description of the food hor!

One of the must trys for Jan and Andy in Perth was the seafood in Perth. Therefore, I did a bit of research and came up with the usual suspects such as Kailis Brothers, Bluewater Grill, Red Herring etc. I even downloaded the menus in advance to peruse the menu items. In the end, I decided on The Left Bank because

  1. both H and I had entertainment cards which gave us a great one main course get another main free deal (which meant we could get 4 mains and only pay for 2! This deal is still on for the 09/10 card*looks at Jason and Wendy*
  2. great reviews
  3. nice views and conveniently located in Fremantle

The Left Bank boasts a pictureque location right by the Swan River, the ground level of the historical building houses the cafe which hosts gigs and has a more casual feel. A stairway leads to the upper level of the restaurant which has a more formal candlelit setting. Even though we were quite early, the cafe was already doing a roaring business with lots of noisy chatter and Friday night after work drinks. It was quite amazing that the noise level did not reach the restaurant level at all and it was peaceful and quiet upstairs.

Before I start on the food, I should mention that most of these nice photos are taken by Jan with her DSLR, it makes me want to get a DSLR too, but I doubt I could take such nice pictures anyway.

First main was the rump (or was it sirloin steak?) steak with pancetta and leek potato cake, tomatoes, asparagus and red wine glaze ($36.00). We asked for the steak to be medium rare but it came out more medium. Otherwise, the steak was delicious and everything else tasted good too.

The star of the night was the seafood platters (we ordered two!) which came with oysters, smoked salmon, prawns, a bowl of chilli mussels, calamari and barramundi fillets ($39.50 for a seafood platter for one).  Probably one of the best and most affordable seafood platters I’ve had in Perth, the oysters were very fresh, the prawns sweet, and the chilli mussel sauce while not spicy, was drinkable good. I think the calamari was probably our least favourite of the lot, but the fish.. the fish was very very good. This is taking into account that we just had fish and chips at Cicerellos in the afternoon. Beautifully batterd, a wonderful fragrance of good olive oil, the barramundi fillets were great.

We were wanting something different and not overly heavy so opted for the Coconut King Prawns (usually an entree) for our other main. The prawns came with mango chutney and a tomato, cucumber and peanut salad ($31.00). It was actually a good choice because the prawns were not heavy with a slight coconuty taste and the salad was very light and refreshing. Nice.

We were really quite full and wondering whether to skip dessert. But there’s always a different stomach for desserts so we shared an orange creme brulee (can’t really remember the name). The brulee wasn’t fantastic but I always like custardy brulee texture so I still liked it.

Overall I was glad I chose The Left Bank, I’m not sure we would have enjoyed ourselves if we were in an overly posh and super expensive restaurant, the Left Bank offers an in between setting, great and affordable seafood. I definitely want to return for their Wednesday ‘buy a seafood platter for two (usually $67.0) but pay for a seafood platter for one ($39.50)’ deal (cafe only). Anyone want to go?

Daitaoha ratings:

Food 7/10

Service 6.5/10 daitaohas

p.s I’ve adopted Jan’s suggested and changed my rating system to 10 daitaohas instead.

The Left Bank Restaurant
15 Riverside Road
East Fremantle 6158
Tel: 9319 1315


A Week of My Life: Day 7 Sunday

I can’t believe it’s the last of A Week of My Life posts.

Day 7 was a Fremantle (Freo) day. For those that haven’t been to Perth, Fremantle is a port city in Perth famous for its fishing boat harbour, markets and the popular fish and chips.

Most of the group were the same bunch from the night before, but this time the brothers, Calv and Eugene came along as well. It was a big group!

All tourists go to Freo for their fish and chips, but we were there for the yummy ramen. There is a tiny Japanese (as in can only seat 10 people max kind of tiny) ramen stall inside the Fremantle market. I think I discovered the ramen 2 to 3 years back and introduced it to my friends. Word of the good ramen must have spread because the once quiet stall is now so bustling with business that we were told it was a ONE HOUR wait for our bowls of ramen. Still, the rest of the guys were happy to wait so we put in our orders and proceeded to walk around the market.

There was an amazing buttery smell pervading the narrow halls of the markets and we finally found the culprit, freshly popped sweet popcorn. We tried some and it tasted like the sweet popcorn that we get in the cinemas in Malaysia, only even more buttery. I was tempted to buy a box but  somehow I associate popcorn with movies, it just didn’t feel right to eat popcorn without watching something on screen. I wish they sold sweet popcorn in Perth cinemas, instead we get lousy dry and salty popcorn (T___T).

I wanted to get these cool wooden electric guitar models for my father. But was a bit shy to ask ‘do you have Deep Purple’s lead guitarist’s guitar?’

Pretty colourful Japanese lanterns.

I like the fresh fruit and veg section of the market, I know people must think I’m apple mad, but really, these organic apples looked so beautiful, I’d never seen such pretty apples before, instead of the usual glossy and shiny red and yellows, the apples were dusty pink and rosy red. I’m sure they must taste good.

It was 3pm (we got to Freo close to 2pm) before the guys finally sat down for their noodles, they were positively starving. From left to right, Jason, Ming Xian, Richard and Eugene. Amazingly they were all classmates or schoolmates at some point in high school, I guess high school mates are really friends for life eh?

The other side of the bench was Wendy and the two brothers, Xinlong and Xinchen.

Calv’s fried chicken soy based ramen.

Almost everyone had the soft pork ramen with the tender fat and lean pork slices, so much for swine flu. Since I didn’t have any ramen, I was told the broth wasn’t as flavourful as usual, but still pretty good. Some of the guys drained the broth to the last drop.

My tako balls which were quite nice, but I wish they had aanori on them. They came out piping hot so I have a bit of a sore throat now. To tell the truth, I was quite disappointed with the ramen stall, maybe they’re not coping with the added load of customers, but an hour for a ramen is really too much, plus their cashier was getting stressed out and shooing people out of the shop quite rudely.It’s still the best ramen in Perth so far, but I’m not sure I would be so eager to return again.

Back outside, it was sunny but still chilly. The weather forecast says that it’s a minimum of 2 degrees tomorrow, I can already picture myself shivering and blowing out puffs of frosty air at the bus stop in the morning.

We should have been cradling cups of hot chocolate, but instead we stopped by the Little Creatures brewery for some beer. In my case, it was their cider with a cute name Pipsqueak, it tasted a bit like champagne and was light and bubbly. I couldn’t finish my midi (is it called midi?) and passed it on to Xinlong.

Even though we had such a late lunch, the guys were hungry again! So we went next door for … fish and chips. I opted to sit out but snapped a photo of Min Xian’s seafood chowder which looked warm and creamy, with a hunk of bread, it seemed like a great choice for winter. Jan, don’t you think it looks different from the seafood chowder you had last time? But it’s from the same restaurant!

Ta-dah! The end of Day 7 and thus concluding my A Week of My Life posts. It actually turned out a lot more fun than I thought and I had fun sharing my week with my friends and especially my family. It was even nicer reading and commenting on my sisters’ and Heri’s posts, I felt like for a brief week, I shared a bit of their lives. So thanks for the suggestion Jan, I think it was a fantastic idea. Let’s do it again next year!

A Week of My Life : Day 6 Saturday

It’s 1.30am and I’m really sleepy! Still, I will try to give a good update of what happened today because Saturdays are always fun.

The sun came out for a short while today, but there were puddles everywhere so it was a sneaker sort of day. Jo and I set out to the city to meet Gill for lunch.

Since we were there early, Jo and I walked around the city and shopped a bit. I was glad that we managed to accidentally attend the No Deaths in Custody rally for Mr Ward, a well respected Aboriginal community leader who literally cooked to death in a van while being transported to the Perth prison from remote WA. It’s tragic that this sort of thing can happen in a so-called multicultural harmonious society like Australia, I guess racism is very much alive no matter where you are.

I took this picture for Jan because I know she likes pies. They had a wide selection of pies at the Trackside Bakery in the train station.

Because we didn’t know whether Gill would make it for Assam Laksa in time, Jo and I decided to go to our favourite Manise for empek empek instead.

Some day I will blog properly about Manise and give it a real review, but imagine it’s a cold rainy winter day, you spread oodles of numbing lips spicy sambal belachan over your plate of steamed rice and dig into hot, crispy deep fried slices of fish cake drenched with a light addictive sweet sauce.

Between mouthfuls of fiery sambal belachan laden rice, you eat slivers of succulent grilled fish drenched topped with fresh, crunchy bits of tomatoes and aromatic shallots and drizzled with sweet kecap manis sauce. Every now and then, you dip your morsels of fish into the gorgeous sambal belachan. Your lips start to throb so you gulp down huge quantities of cool, refreshing sweet iced tea to quench the fire within. So good you know?

When we were almost done with our fantastic lunch, Gill popped up and delighted Jo by ordering another empek-empek. Both of them are such Manise and empek-empek veterans that the owner of Manise came to sit with them and they had a great long chat about how Manise started (the owner is an Indonesian Chinese, his in-laws used to open a Chinese restaurant in Indonesia and passed their cooking skills to their daughter. The owner’s wife does all the cooking in Manise) and the uncle’s history. I was impressed when the uncle said he recognises Jo coz she comes here all the time, the funny thing is, Jo always goes with Gill but the uncle doesn’t remember Gill. I think it’s Jo’s wide and hopeful eyes and her ‘Uncle, is there empek-empek today?’ plea.

While Jo and Gill were chatting away, I left Manise to pick up some cheap fruit and veg from my new favourite market stall. This  fruit and veg stall’s Italian staff attract their customers by yelling ‘DOLLAR A BAG!!!! DOLLAR A BAG!!!’ continuously. Vocally, they’re hard to miss. Today the Italian owner (the guy in the picture with the afro haircut, I like his tomato shirt don’t you?) greeted me witha friendly ‘Hello darling, how are you today? Today apples very good!’

Now you know the secret to my never ending supply of apples. They’re really a dollar a bag, so cheap!

I rushed home to prepare tonight’s dinner and also Jo’s sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. Dinner was teriyaki chicken udon with cabbage and carrots.

Jo’s sandwiches for tomorrow. I prepared lots for her so that she will be able  to share with her boss and colleagues (one of them being Gill, in fact, that’s how they met). I made three kinds of sandwiches, egg mayo, tomato and lettuce sandwiches, tuna salad sandwiches and teriyaki chicken and avocado sandwiches. I wonder which one Jo will like best?

I met up with Jason, Wendy and Bryan for dinner at Ipoh Garden in Applecross where they had the popular fried chicken. This fried chicken always gives me a sore throat because it’s always straight out of the fryer and piping hot. Jason and Wendy introduced me to their friends Ming Xian and Richard who are actually from my high school in Kuching, such a small world.  I was especially pleased to finally talk to Ming Xian whom I’ve been bumping into at venues all around Perth for the past few years. We always nod at each other in the ‘I think I know you from somewhere but where?’ way but before today had never spoken to each other before.

Later Adrian joined us and had this yummy looking fish beehoon soup.

From left to right, Ming Xian, Richard, Wendy, Jason, Brio and Adrian.

After that we headed to Dome’s for coffees, Ming Xian moonlights as a coffee barista during the weekends (his normal job is doing some medical scientific thing in the hospital) so we were shooting him with coffee questions all night. He said that my latte was done well because the froth was smooth and had a glossy effect, and he was right, it was very nice.

We were the last ones to leave the cafe close to midnight so it was a great night of chatting and meeting new friends. Especially one who felt more like an old friend. So sad that Saturday is over, but there’s still Sunday left, and the last of our a week of my life posts.


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