Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Dim Sum Reunion at Man Fu Yuan!

Years ago, a few of us had a dim sum marathon of sorts when we were invited to join Cuisine & Wine Asia for a string of dim sum meals. So when Jackson sent an email for a reunion, this cow was moore than happy to go! :)

Our dim sum reunion was a mini one as not all could make it. Nonetheless it was fun to enjoy dim sum with the rest of the guys including Aromacookery and Camemberu! I was also very happy they selected Man Fu Yuan as I had tasty memoories of our dim sum meal there.

Beginning with the front most item in the above photo, the Glutinous Rice Dumpling, Traditional Style (aka Hum Sui Kok; $5.20 for 3 pieces) was one of my favourites during the first visit and while the shape has changed now, I am happy to report it is still delicious! Sadly, not many places serve this dim sum item anymore.

For a crispy, spicy treat, try the Chilli Crab Spring Roll ($6.80 for 3 pieces). It packs quite a bit of heat and when combined with the heat from being freshly-fried, it can be quite shiok. :p

I found the Crystal Dumpling with Pumpkin & Chicken ($5.20 for 3 pieces) to be nice with a gooey exterior and sweet pumpkin and minced chicken stuffing.

Fried Carrot Cake with Eggs & Beansprouts in XO Sauce ($18 per serving) featured soft carrot cake with a pleasant gentle flavour of radish, crunchy beansprouts and a fragrant XO sauce.

I also enjoyed the "Jing Quan" Dumpling ($6.80 for 3 pieces) with its meaty interior, rustic knobbly folds and piquant, spicy vinegar sauce. 

The Rice Roll with Barbequed Pork ($8.80 per serving) was unfortunately a little lacklustre with smooth rice rolls but lacking the roasted aroma and flavour from the char siew.

Oh should look towards the good...and the very good... the Shark's Cartilage Soup with Fish Maw ($28 per serving). This was another dish I remembered with fond memoories. Rich, milky, full of the goodness (and collagen! Hello tai tai!) of boiling shark's cartilage and other dried goodies like dried scallops. :) 

A perennial dim sum favourite, the Prawn Dumpling (aka Har Gao; $6.80 for 3 pieces) was pretty good too. Fresh tasting, succulent prawns wrapped in a skin that was a tad thick but still ok.

For an interesting version of the usual siew mai, opt for the Minced Pork Dumpling with Quail Egg ($6.80 for 3 pieces). The quail egg added an enjoyable touch which reminded me of many egg and meat combinations like in big pau and even curry puff.

Speaking of big pau, the Chef's Signature Big Bun ($6.80) can be a one-dish meal in itself! Check out the size of this giant by comparing it to the metal spoon next to the basket. Tear open the pau to reveal hidden goodies like roast pork, chestnut, duck, chicken and an egg.

Fish-lovers should try the Steamed Live Garoupa with Black Bean Sauce ($15 per 100g). A lovely black bean sauce that packed a savoury, salty punch beckoned for rice. This medium-sized fish of about 600g ensured that its flesh wasn't tough.

Look familiar? Yup, we enjoyed the Hum Sui Kok so much that we had second rounds! Moohehehe. Aromacookery missed this the last time so we had to "make up" for it. LOL.

Here's a peak inside the fried triangular ball. The filling of minced pork and chives was scrumptious! The exterior of chewy glutinous rice was fried to a golden brown and was a pleasure to bite into. 

Tired of the usual custard bun? Check out the Deep Fried Custard Bun ($12 for 6). Think of fried mantou (ala chilli crab) with a creamy, hot, savoury-sweet custard core. The steamed version was also good. 

Being the mooncake season, we had some too. LOL. I didn't quite like the thin pasty skin of both the snowskin variants here- Green Tea Paste with Dragonball Jasmine, and Mao Shan Wang, though the former had a nice green tea flavour while the latter had a power durian filling mixed with coconut cream for a luscious effect.  

And what's dim sum without tea? Dim sum lor. The aged pu-er (left) and their signature 5 elements tea (right) make good accompaniments to the dim sum.

It was another enjoyable session and I can't believe it's been 3 years! Thanks to Jackson of Cuisine & Wine Asia, and Rachel and Teresa of Intercontinental for hosting this hungry cow.

Man Fu Yuan
2nd Floor
Intercontinental Hotel
Tel: 6825 1062
Opens: 11.45am to 3.30pm; 6.30pm to 10.30pm

Chew On This: Check out my first visit 3 years ago during the dim sum marathon!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dinner at Keropok Man's

After a Saturday moo-rning of iFly, weFly and also got iFry (Moohehehe), I took a nap at home before heading off to Keropok Man's and Momo's place for dinner.

This foodie couple were so secretive that dinner menu was kept a top-secret. Telling me probably meant that they would have to kill me. LOL.

When we arrived, they put out the first dish- a healthy starter of sliced tomatoes, kiwi and buffalo mozzarella tofu in a light oriental sesame dressing. Apparently Keropok Man had a stash of Zespri kiwis and so came up with this dish. ;)

But the piece de resistance was an aromatic bubbling pot of beef ragu. Carrots, onions, celery, red wine & beef = happiness. YAY! Oh wait, maybe they really would have had to kill me for dinner. Moohahaha!

Spoon some ragout over fat ribbons of pappardelle and I am in a happy place. "Spagh Bol" has that certain magic effect on me. :)

There was also a pork version but my personal preference was the beef one. Yep, call me bias in supporting my own kind!

A bottle of Ruinart that was flown from Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and that has a special significance to the couple was popped and enjoyed. Thanks for sharing the joy.

For dessert, they made homemade ice cream which was eggy, rich and unctuous.

Then we had a surprise round 2 desserts with Lavender Cookies courtesy of Keropok Man's sis! Slightly chewy butter cookies with a pleasant lavender flavour. The pink Himalayan salt sprinkled on top was a nice savoury touch but a tad intense with the large crystals of salt.

I like dinners like this. Simple, from the heart, tasty, homely and with foodie company. Thank you, Keropok Man and Momo for having us over for dinner! :)

Chew On This: Cos it's priceless.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Beef Soup- Round 2 Lunch

When the bowl of fish soup wasn't enough, I stood by the beef soup stall staring at it. Moohaha. How to say no to the auntie who asked me for my order?

The Beef Soup with Tendons ($3) was very good value for money with a generous serving of sliced beef and 3 small pieces of tendons considering the later usually costs moore. The soup was relatively tasty and sweet with a slight herbal touch and lots of beef protein precipitates. Don't forget the chilli sauce- adds a nice spicy zing. :)

Teochew Beef Kway Teow
Amoy Street Hawker Centre

Chew On This: early as they do not open in the evenings.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mooing Over Mooncakes

Dear Chang Er,

How on earth do you keep your figure and beauty with all the mooncakes? Oh wait a minute. You're not on earth. Not fair! LOL. Moo-deration is key as always I guess.

Anyway it's the time of the year when mooncakes make their appearance touting traditional favourites alongside new flavours. Yes, folks it's Mooncake Festival Mid Autumn Festival. Corporations dole out big budgets for mooncakes gifts to build rapport with clients while family and friends buy boxes of these once-a-year treats to express well wishes and to please sweet tooth teeth. ;)

Here's a look at what mooncakes this cow has been nibbling on:

A beautiful purple box inspired by the elegance of cheongsum housed A Selection of Baked Mooncakes ($58 for 4 pieces) from the Fairmont Singapore's Szechuan Court.

I have halved them for your viewing pleasure. Moohehe. The new flavour this year, which coincidentally also turned out to be moo favourite flavour, was the Ying Yang Delight- Black & White Sesame in White Lotus Paste. Loved the nutty, natural flavour from the black and white sesame seeds. :)

The other mooncakes were:
- Double Yolk in White Lotus Paste
- Baked Mooncake with Roasted Pinenuts in White Lotus Paste
- Peach-shaped with Single Yolk & Macadamia Nuts in White Lotus Paste

Overall, I found these mooncakes to be less oily and would appeal to those who prefer less grease.   

Szechuan Court also had a box of Selection of Mini Snowskin Mooncakes ($56 for 4 pieces). Which is what flavour?
Yellow- Mini Snowskin Champagne Truffle & Chocolate Ganache
Orange- Mini Snowskin Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate *new*
Green- Mini Snowskin Pandan with Macadamia Nuts
White- Mini Snowskin Rum & Raisin Chocolate Truffle

I enjoyed the yellow and orange ones the most. Moohehe.

Chang Er, if there are angry birds flying around your celestial palace, you might want to check out the Angry Birds mooncakes from Szechuan Court too! Moohaha.

 Mandarin Orchard's Mandarin Court has the Assorted Baked Mooncake Selection ($58 for 4 pieces):
- Baked Mooncake with Mixed Nuts and (interestingly) Jamon Iberico
- Baked Mooncake with Double Yolk and White Lotus Paste
- Baked Mooncake with Single Yolk and White Lotus Paste
- Baked Mooncake with Macadamia Nuts and Low Sugar White Lotus Paste

Traditional options with just a bit of modern twists that I reckon moost traditional palates would be pleased with.

One of the prettiest snowskin mooncakes was from Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium's Xin Cuisine ($48 for 6 pieces). I had a box featuring each of their 6 snowskin variants (from top to bottom in above photo):
- Mini Snowskin Mooncake with Black Truffle, Walnut & White Lotus Seed Paste *new*
- Mini Snowskin Peranakan Mooncake with Durian Paste
- Mini Snowskin Mooncake with Soursop & Chocolate Crunch *new*
- Mini Snowskin Mooncake with Lavender Chocolate & Chempedak Lotus Paste *new*
- Mini Snowskin Mooncake with Champagne Chocolate & Pandan Lotus Paste
- Mini Snowskin Mooncake with Rum and Raisin Chocolate & Chinese Dates Paste *new*

While I didn't find the soursop one to my personal liking, I like the interesting flavour combinations of floral lavender and fragrant chempedak, and Champagne, chocolate and pandan. Durian lovers would enjoy the rich, creamy durian paste of the blue Peranakan mooncake. A smile and a childhood flashback mooment happened when I tasted the one with Chinese dates. :)

Xin Cuisine can even offer a choice of 2 wines to pair with the mooncakes. I tried the Riondo Prosecco DOC which was a slightly fizzy white wine with delicate floral and mineral notes. Very clean and would make a good pairing with many snowskin mooncakes. 

Thanks to the respective hotels for the above mooncakes.
Happy Mid Autumn Festival, folks!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Makankakis Spicing it up @ Si Chuan Dou Hua

Blame it on The Noose (an awesome TV show!) that now each time I hear "Si Chuan", Lulu comes to mind. Moohahaha.

Photo from xinmsn.

As per monthly tradition, the makankakis descended upon the month's chosen venue. This time it was Si Chuan Dou Hua @ PARKROYAL Hotel on Kitchener Road.

Dinner kicked off to a start with the Cold Appetiser Combination (Roasted Duck, Chilled Chicken with Spicy Bean Paste, Mushroom with Wasabi, Crispy Roast Pork, Preserved Fungus with Chilli Padi). Certainly a nice variety of food to whet the appetite. I particularly enjoyed the Chilled Chicken with Spicy Bean Paste (in the bowl) with its robust flavours of cumin, coriander seed, fennel and bean paste. While not searingly spicy, it's enough to make my mouth water even as I am typing this. :p

The next to arrive was the Double-boiled Shark Cartilage Soup. It was slightly milky but I found it a bit bland.

That's alright because the Stir-fried Prawns with XO Sauce, Garlic & Almond Flakes rocked. The savoury notes of the prawn shell and XO sauce mingled with the aromatics of garlic, dried chilli and roasted almond. This would make Cereal Prawns seem like a kiddo dish. Moohehe.

I also enjoyed the Steamed Pating Fish in Cantonese Shunde Style. The fatty freshwater fish was tender, cooked nicely and had a light tasty broth from the strips of tomatoes, tofu, black mushrooms, spring onions, pork belly and preserved vegetables.

Then the bomb arrived.

The Combination of Roasted Crispy Chicken & Chong Qing Diced Chicken with Dried Chilli were both chicken dishes but all that separated plain chicken and pain chicken was the wall of sliced cucumbers. LOL. The Chong Qing Diced Chicken with Dried Chilli was so spicy and numbing yet painfully delicious at the same time, it was cruel. Most of the people at the table took a bite and pushed the rest a side, scrambling for fire hydrants orders of iced water, black vinegar and sugar to soothe the damage.

This cow was breaking out in sweat but couldn't help himself. I had to go for a few moore pieces. Damn those intense, aromatic spices!  

Braised Homemade Beancurd with Pork Belly was such a comfort after the chicken dish from hell. Its softness, oiliness and balance of sweetness and sharpness tapered the heat very well moo thought.

Stir-fried Mee Sua in Village Style. To be honest, I couldn't quite remember much about this dish. I think my taste buds were still reeling from the Chong Qing chicken.

Homemade Beancurd with Wolfberries was a good way to end the meal. The brown syrup had a bit more depth and the beancurd was smooth with none of that Lao Ban pudding-like version.

The other dessert of Honeycomb Cake with Chrysanthemum was also very good. Thick blocks of chewy kueh with a bit of an airy structure provided a satisfying bite. It was not too sweet too. :)

For such a dinner, it was kinda tricky to pair with wines. But being 酒鬼, we had to have some. Moohehe.

I think the fresh, fruity, slightly oaked Chilean Santiago Chardonnay 2008 ($25; order from thehungrycow) was a good match to the first few dishes. The Solemma Rosso 2009 ($42; order from thehungrycow), an IGT of about 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot, is a light to medium bodied red with fresh cherry and blackberries and a touch of spice. Its relatively soft tannins meant it didn't clash with the spicy flavours from the food. The other wine we had was an aged Brand's Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 that had rich black fruits with a bit of mint and earthiness.

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant
PARKROYAL Hotel on Kitchener Road (other branches at Top of UOB Plaza, PARKROYAL on Beach Road, KL and Tokyo)
181 Kitchener Road
Tel: 6428 3170

Chew On This: Dim sum fans, check out their Nostalgic Dim Sum Buffet Feast at $25++/pax that apparently has well-loved dishes from the bygone era. Now until 30 Sept.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

An Enjoyable Chop Chop Dim Sum Lunch

It was a Sunday and we were rushing to Xin Cuisine for dim sum lunch after church service. Rushing on a Sunday and for dim sum was no fun but we had to because their last order was at 2.30pm. But I am glad we did as it turned out to be a rather enjoyable albeit chop chop kali pok dim sum meal. It was my first time ordering everything at one go for dim sum. Moohehe.

The Minced Pork & Century Egg Porridge ($4.20/person) was tasty with a smooth, pleasantly gooey congee and crispy fried crackers. My parents came back a week later to have this again!

Pan-Fried Radish Cake with Waxed Meat ($4.20 for 3) turned out nicely decent- soft radish cake topped with a small mound of fragrant XO sauce.

They were out of Har Gao but good thing there was still Siew Mai ($4.50 for 3) which was meaty, juicy and with a balanced pork flavour. Check out the good amount of fish roe. :)

How to say no to smooth sheets of steamed rice flour wrapped around prawns and doused in a light savoury sauce? The Prawns Rice Flour Roll ($5.50) was interestingly stuffed with chye sim together with the prawns. Usually the greens are served on the side. 

I like the Steamed Chicken's Feet ($4.20). The sauce was a tad oily but well flavoured with black beans, garlic and pepper which permeated the chicken's feet.

To end the chop chop dim sum lunch, we had the Egg Tarts with Bird's Nest ($6 for 3). These were small, warm tartlets with a nice savoury-sweet contrast between the pastry and the custard. Very moreish!

Being spiritually fed, enjoying the comforts of dim sum with loved ones and sipping on Chrysanthemum-Pu Er tea was a great way to spend the Sunday. Weekends, please faster come back! Moohahaha.

Xin Cuisine 
Level 4
Holiday Inn Atrium
Tel: 6731 7173

Note: Dim sum is available daily. Last order is at 2.30pm.

Chew On This: Besides their regular dim sum offerings, Xin Cuisine also has "daily specials". Unfortunately I found the two items that I tried to be ordinary and yes, they are priced higher.

Fried Whitebait ($10) was coated in a pretty thick flour batter. A sprinkling of fried garlic was a fragrant touch but somehow also made me rather thirsty. 

I preferred the Jelly Fish ($10) which was springy and spicy.