Saturday, December 6, 2008

Improvised Green Chicken Curry (Recipes)

Ever thought of making your own green curry? That thought came across my mind many times and I did actually put them into motion. Nonetheless I failed miserably because I just couldn't get the spices right. This whole idea of exploring with different spices, sauces and ingredients which sounded wonderful at that time spelt trouble in the kitchen. It was also hard work mind you; with the grinding, pestling of lemon grass, chillies, coriander etc. Finally, I decided instead of taking the road travelled by the few; instead of reinventing the wheel; why not try out some of the spices off the shelves? Why not end the misery now and move on? I did just that without any hesitation!

The game plan is dead simple. All you need is to go to your nearest hypermarket and purchase the green curry spices from One Fine Spice. I chose them because they marketed themselves as using natural ingredients and without any mono sodium glutamate or preservatives. Additionally,I bought some chicken and brinjal or egg plant to make the curry as authentic as possible but hey, it's parts like these where you need to improvise. If you feel like beef or lamb works for you, feel free to change. And may I remind you too that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to cook this especially you do not have to deal with the spices any more. Just add in the spices into a cooking pot and pour in some water and coconut milk to help thicken the gravy. Let it simmer away for 10 minutes and add in the brinjal and meat. Continue to stir for another 10 minutes and you are all set.

I finally triumph over my nemesis! It feels great!

Finally, a piece of advice. If you do have any intention of making your own green curry from scratch, think more than twice before you set out for the kitchen. The pay off may not reflect the amount of work invested and the results may not be desirable. Sometimes.... just sometimes, it does pay to stick to the path travelled most.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

JL Steamboat Restaurant (Georgetown)

One of our favourite restaurants for steamboat has to be JL Steamboat Restaurant. The food is great considering it's a buffet concept, the location is convenient as it's located at Nagore Road with plenty of car park at New World Park and more importantly, it's a all-you-can eat buffet at RM 19.90 nett per adult and RM 12.90 nett per kid /senior citizen. With such a bargain like this, it's no surprise that this place is quite pack especially during weekends.

For those of you who wants to get your bearing correct before making a trip here, JL Steamboat Restaurant is located next to Sugar Dynasty which itself is just opposite the well known Continental Bakery. Just to point out an interesting fact about JL Restaurant. As advertised on the bill board, the novelty of JL Steamboat is that you can customise the buffet to your own preference or personal taste. After all, it's a buffet and you can choose what to include in your pot.

Watch out for the grill section located outside the restaurant as this is the highlight of the dinning experience.

The restaurant itself isn't big and is broken into two sections. The first section has limited dining space as it includes the buffet area. The second portion on the other hand, offers a more comfortable sitting arrangement and quiet atmosphere since it's located at the far section of the restaurant.

So, how does the buffet concept works in JL Restaurant? Firstly, you need to order your steamboat soup or stock to cook your items. The steamboat stock comes in a few variety -chicken, fish, tom yam or herbal. You can request up to two choices of stock of your preference since the pot itself can be separated into half. Once you have done that, you are all set and the fun begins. The buffet itself offers a huge range of items from different types of meat, vegetables to a full range of seafood including oysters. For more novelty items like fish maw, mutton, sea cucumber, kwai fei abalone or Australian scallops, these can be requested as side orders.

Besides steamboat, JL Steamboat Restaurant also has a grill section which dish out an assorted grilled items from prawn mantis, pandan chicken and other types of meat and seafood. Unlike the buffet section which is self service, the grilled items need to be ordered at the grill section. Upon ready, they will be served to your table.

Other selections offered in the buffet may include appetisers like belacan chicken, fried rice or noodles and finally a section for desserts.

All in all, it was a great dinning experience considering the fact that the price was reasonable and the food was good by buffet standards. If you have a huge appetite to fill up, the JL Steamboat Restaurant is worth paying a visit. For details for JL Restaurants, see below:

Name: JL Steamboat
Address: 25 & 27 Jalan Nagore, 10500 Penang
Tel: 04-2101122
Business hours: 5pm-11pm (Weekdays); 12pm-3pm & 5pm-11pm (Weekends)
Special promotion: Ladies Night Every Thursday - RM 17.90 nett per person

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Soon Lai Seafood Restaurant (Greenlane)

If you need to look for a good seafood restaurant in Greenlane, look no further! I recommend that you try Soon Lai Seafood Restaurant. It's located along Lebuhraya Gelugur just opposite the play ground. For those of you who are not too familiar with the area, the seafood restaurant is located not too far away from the Olympic College or the KFC outlet at Batu Lanchang. An immediate observation indicates that Soon Lai is as mytical as it's surrounding. It's layout does not portray a proper seafood restaurant but more of a chu char outlet. Additionally, if you are looking for the fish tanks to see where the fish comes from, don't bother. There aren't any on display. And the fact that it's located in a residential area doesn't help either since it does not give anyone the impression that this place serves good seafood.

An evening shot of Soon Lai Seafood Restaurant.

We come here regularly every week so we are accustom to the choices available. However, let me suggest this. If you are looking for a great meal, you definitely need to try the crab. Everyone comes here for the crab so you shouldn't miss this out. While you can order just steamed crabs, the black pepper or spicy chili gravy that goes with the crab are other good options to consider. Having said this, for those more cost conscious, the har kor or prawn mantis is a good alternative to the crabs or prawns. They are deep fried and then cooked with either sweet and sour or black pepper sauce.

Another recommendation would be to try the sting ray which is usually cooked a few ways. They can be grilled on banana leaves and marinated with curry spices or steamed and served with the special thick spicy black sauce. Either way, they are both worth trying.

Our other normal dish would be the belacan chicken which goes down well with the kids. They usually finish well ahead than the rest of the other dishes.

One of their speciality is also the stir fried brinjal. The one shown below comes cooked in curry spices, shallots, chillies and shrimps. On most occasions, the portion served were rather small. Nonetheless, the wonderful taste makes up for the earlier short comings.

I normally like to have soup to go with the other dishes. So if you are a soup person like me, go for the spinach soup that's complemented with century old egg and shrimps. It's one of the few places that serves as good a dish besides Teik Seng.

Other dishes that you might want to try include; spring rolls, fried egg with seafood or bean curd with mix vegetables and pork.

All in all, you won't be disappointed with what you order. Soon Lai Seafood Restaurant is definitely a well balance seafood restaurant which serves good food at reasonable price for the portion you get. For details of the restaurant, please see below:

Soon Lai Seafood Restaurant
15, Lintang Batu, Greenlane
11600, Penang
Tel: 04-6589799
Business hours: 6 pm -12 am (open daily)

For more details, call Lau Keng Soon at 016-441366 or Fong Mee Chiew at 012-4773063.

Yaw's Roast and Grill Western Food At Gerbang Midlands (Georgetown)

If you have been in Penang long enough, you would probably be familiar with Top Top Snack Bar and Restaurant. It was previously located in Pulau Tikus and is considered one of the best restaurants serving western food. Of course, that was back in the 80s. However, the restaurant has long been relocated and is now operating from the owner's home at Gerbang Midlands. While it's smack in the heart of a residential area, Top Top or Yaw's Roast And Grill Restaurant as it is called now, isn't too difficult to find. As you approach Gerbang Midlands during the evening, look for the house at the junction and just follow the crowd. There is a good chance they are heading to Yaw's Roast and Grill for to satisfy their appetite for Western food. Alternatively, if you happen to be in the area in the early part of the day, you cant miss the sound of the meat being bash with a meat tenderising hammer. No wonder Uncle Yaw look so fit for his age!

The last time I was there was ages ago. I vowed not to dine there again due to their bad service. They have missed my orders several times and the typical waiting time is usually forty to sixty minutes. And that is if you are lucky! Nonetheless, I decided to give Yaw Roast and Grill restaurant a second chance. After all, the public and the MCA delegates had given the scandalous Health Minister; Dr.Chua Soi Lek their votes to represent them, so why not Yaw's Grill?

I noticed there were several changes to the restaurant. The service was extraordinarily better than it was before. Our orders were promptly taken and the garlic bread and drinks were served shortly. The former was complimentary and to my surprise, they were rather soft. The only thing that would add to the pleasant experience is a hot bowl of soup (Borsh preferably) to complement the garlic bread.

We didn't have to wait long for the main course. We ordered the Bombay chicken, chicken chop (see insert below for pictures) and the fish and chips. Having said this, I can't really comment much about the chicken chop and Bombay chicken as they were quite ordinary. They just do not have the omph to garner extra millage. This is such a pale comparison to the reputation that Top Top (Yaw's Grill) has built over the years.

However, all is not lost for Uncle Yaw. The fish and chips did spark a glitter of hope. The batter itself was somewhat reminiscent of what you might get from the fish and chips shop in the UK. Additionally, the extra lime did add an extra fresh and sharp taste to the already enjoyable flavours.

Besides the usual suspects (of your western food), Yaw's Roas and Grill do offer pies and puff as well. I believe during their glitter years, they used to be their top sellers. Perhaps, I might just pop over again in future just to get acquainted with their pies.

For those of you wanting to break the routine of dinning the same place, do give Yaw's Roast and Grill Restaurant a try. You never know. It might work for you.

Yaw's Roast and Grill (Top Top)
1 Gerbang Midlands
04-2276272 / 012-4848178
Open from Tuesday to Sunday (Close on Monday)
Operational hours: 5.30-11pm

Monday, October 27, 2008

Breakfast At Eng Loh Coffee Shop (Georgetown)

One of my all time favourite coffee shop in Georgetown has to be the Eng Loh coffee shop. WhenI was working in town, I use to frequent this coffee shop. It's located at the financial center where all the major banks are located ergo it's just convenient to pop by for lunch on the way to the banks. As for the exact location, Eng Loh is located at the end of Church Street. It's partly a budget hotel as well as a kopitiam (coffee shop) on the ground floor. While it has only a few stalls, all of them are really good. And I mean really good. I get to the juicy part later on.

This kopitiam probably serves one of the best teh peng and kopi peng in town. It definitely score points for presentation as it comes with quite an interesting contrast of colours. You can immediately see two distinctive layers. For example for the kopi peng, the milk sits on top of the thick coffee layer and gives it some life to the coffee. I normally have two rounds of the refreshing teh peng or kopi peng when ever I eat here. Just simply cannot resists it! You will also be quick to notice the uncle who serves the beverages - he has got a pony tail which is rather flamboyant for his age! Cool dude.

This is the kopi peng kau kau. Wa liou. I already gulped my own saliva while I'm writing this.

The wantan mee stall is the main attraction in the mornings. It offers an amazing variety of noodles with different add ons- chicken curry, mushroom chicken, drunken chicken, Hakka dried fungus, normal wantan and also dry hor fun.

The hor fun is quite a treat as it comes with not only the usual fried wantan but also some char siew and marinated pork. The hor fun is also delicate which makes it even more pleasant to eat.

This is the mushroom noodles with meat. Equally wonderful.

Another one of my other favourite stall has to be the chicken rice. You really have to try this as the aroma from the rice is simply tantalising. I believe some amount of butter is added in to give it a distinctive buttery fragrance. Additionally, the chicken is also well roasted and flavourful as butter is used to marinate it to give it and added dimension to the flavour. The uncle who operates usually don't start selling until after 11am so do make sure you time yourself well if you really want to try the chicken rice.

For those not wanting a heavy breakfast, the coffee shop operator also serves toasted bread and Western breakfast. There are 13 options for you to choose from so for those with an indecisive mind, this could spell delay in breakfast. We decided on the American breakfast set for the kids while we adults tried out the roti Taiwan. It's basically toasted bread cover in peanut butter and top up with peanuts. This roti Taiwan somehow didnt knock our socks off. We still prefer the roti bakar or toasted bread from Toh Soon along Kimberly Street.

Another good stall to try must is the one that sells home cook Indian food. This stall serves both vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes and they also do out door catering too. It's quite popular especially lunch time when you see a lot people stopping by either to dine in or ta pau.

Finally, the char koay teow is also quite good too but I decided that I wont push my stomach that day. Sadly, I have no pictures to show you but do take my word for it. It's also quite good in it's on way. I used to whack the chicken rice to be followed by the char koay teow but that's another story liau. For those of you interested to make a trip down there, please find the full address to Eng Loh below:

Name: Eng Loh
Address: Jalan Gereja / Church Street, Penang
Opening hours: 8am-3pm (close every Sundays)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Goreng Pisang At Free School Road (Greenlane)'s finally great to be back in Penang after close to 3 weeks of constant travelling outside of Malaysia. Needless to say , i'm dying for Penang food especially the goreng pisang (banana fritters) stall along Free School Road. It's probably one of the few stalls in town that serves the best goreng pisang.

As far as I can remember, the goreng pisang stall has been around for a long time even way back during my schooling days. I would always make my way through the side entrance after the extra curriculum activities and head down the road just for the goreng pisang. Till today, the stall remains unchanged except for the fact that the business is now run by the son. Besides goreng pisang, you can find other yummy fried snacks like tnee kueh (glutinous cake), potatoes, tapioca rolls, yam and also curry puffs. Lastly, the goreng pisang stall is open from noon to 5pm from Monday till Saturday.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Vegetarian Lunch At Nine Emperor Gods Festival (Georgetown)

Most Taoists in Malaysia will be currently celebrating the Nine Emperor God festival. The festival is celebrated by by all Taoists around the world on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese calender. The Nine Emperor Gods festival or Kow Ong Yah as it is called in Hokkien signifies the return from heaven to earth of the Nine Emperor spirits whom are associated to health, wealth and prosperity. It is claimed that during this festival there will be rain throughout the 9 days of celebration. Well..almost. It rained for the first 6 days in Penang and as mysterious as it is, the tap suddenly went dry today.

Another interesting aspect about the Nine Emperor God festival is that all devotees need to observe a strict vegetarian diet for nine days. This means no meat or meat related products as well as dairy products such as eggs or milk. For those devotees who follow strictly by the book, they even have to use special cooking and eating utensils to prevent contamination with meat or meat related products. While it is encouraged to do the whole nine yards, a lot of Taoists now only observe vegetarian for the 1, 2, 3,5 and 9 days.

I was at Madras Lane this morning to catch the celebration in full swing. Vegetarian stalls these days offer a lot of variety of dishes of which some look and even taste like meat. I took a couple of shots of this stall as they had the most selection of vegetarian dishes to offer.

Just to see how it taste like, I ordered some rice followed by 2 pieces of vegetarian fish, char siew and some vegetables. They tasted quite nice although the texture definitely isn't the same as the real deal. It's also a lot more expensive than eating your usual economy rice as most vegetarian vendors are trying to rake in as much profit as they can during the nine days celebration.

I like the vegetarian roasted duck except that they tend to be too oily. I realise that those food that are bad for your health always taste so much better.

There is even a vegetarian satay stall catering to those who miss their daily diet of chicken satay. It tastes very much like real satay although it is made of vegetarian ingredients.

I even saw a vegetarian goreng pisang stall up ahead. Hmm. I wonder if this is comparable to the one at Free School Road.

As I walked further up the end of Madras Lane, I caught a couple of stalls selling vegetarian snacks and desserts like curry puffs, char siew pau, pork floss bun, pizza, sesame ball and many more.

Honestly, I like to believe I can go vegetarian the whole day but I'm already starting to hear my stomach growling and protesting at me. It's a good thing that rules are meant to be broken as I am definitely going straight to the nearest McDonald's outlet for dinner tonight.