JOM MAKAN! Life's A Feast

Friday, July 24, 2015


Dunno what to eat this summer? In Japan, eel’s the reigning summertime fave, highly prized as a stamina-boosting food says Chef Ricky Kamiishi. At Iketeru, he proffers a sumptuous seven-course Unagi Set Menu (RM350nett per person) and also a special Unagi à la carte menu which runs until 31 July 2015.

Delivered twice weekly from the Miyazaki prefecture - an area renowned for premium unagi – in Kyushu island, the unagi is sought-after as the eels from here are more tender with desirable marbling (fat).

Chef Ricky Kamiishi stays true to traditional cooking methods cherished by the Japanese hence you’d find specialities like Unajyu, grilled eel basted with a sweet sauce laid atop rice or Nagoya-style Unagi Hitsumabushi which renders the eel skin is crispy and enticingly aromatic, among others.

At the preview, we sampled delicate portions of Uzaku – grilled eel with an appetising salad of cucumber and wakame seaweed macerated with vinegar sauce (mixed with a little dashi or bonito stock), flecked with sesame seeds. A refreshing yet ethereally light curtain-raiser to prime one’s palate.

The set also includes eel ‘dumpling’ (a delightful spongy-light combination of tofu, fishcake and vegetable) simmered with bonito sauce, topped with curly slivers of negi (Japanese leek).

Another pillow-soft creation is Japanese omelette with eel (top most pix) – the tamagoyaki’s wondrous fluffy lightness enrobing an exquisitely flavoured slice of eel in its centre.  

Pink pickled ginger stems appear alongside Unagi Shirayaki – a deceptively pared-down dish which involved the eel being steamed with sake before it is grilled with a touch of salt. The eel’s inherent sweetness is discernible when you bite into it.

We love the toasty accent of the maki roll wrapped with bamboo leaf; the slightly sticky rice acting as a clear canvas to capture and show the eel’s natural deliciousness at its best.

The chef has also rustled up a new a la carte selection starting this month. Among them is broiled salmon carpaccio-style, a simple but superbly delectable delicacy that allows you to savour the salmon belly’s voluptuous richness.

Teppanyaki grilled lamb rack looks set to be another surefire hit with diners. Using prime meat from Australian lamb rack, the dish is teppan-cooked to perfection, complemented by plump black mushroom, lightly charred broccoli florets and crispy deep-fried garlic flakes on the side.

Those partial to steamed offerings may prefer steamed cod with rice wine – a sublime combination of sweet cod, silky beancurd, buna shimeiji mushrooms and Japanese spinach; stimulating the tastebuds with its impossibly coy flavours and varying textures.
New dessert choices include vanilla wrapped mocha, chocolate and cheese ice cream…again the treats are mildly sweet to satisfy one’s sweet tooth without going overboard.

For reservations at Iketeru, call tel:03 2264 2596 or visit for more information.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Hello Panda! Chengdu's the cradle of panda-monium

Before I set foot in Chengdu, I know next to nothing about the city. Then I found these  
5 interesting facts:
·Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province;
·It is the home of the world famous giant pandas;
·The city was founded some 2,400 years ago by the first Chinese emperor;
·It is known as ‘Tian Fu Zhi Guo’ (Heavenly State in Chinese) thanks to its fertile land and abundant natural resources;
·Sited on the western edge of the Sichuan Basin, it is a strategic political, commercial and military hub.
Here’s a quick guide on what to eat, play & buy in Chengdu from my recent visit courtesy of Dorsett Grand Chengdu and AirAsia X.


‘Chuan cai’ – Sichuanese food rules the roost in Chengdu. Brace yourself for an epic showcase of assertive, feisty flavours unleashed through liberal use of the lethal Sichuan peppercorns and chillies in all shades, shapes and forms: fresh, dried, salted, pickled, etc in the wide repertoire of native specialities.
Most of us would have sampled one time or another famed Sichuanese fare such as Mapo (pockmarked granny) tofu, ma la (tongue-numbing) hot pot, dan dan (shoulder pole) noodle and fish-fragrant aubergines among others. When we sat down to a typical banquet in Chengdu, an overwhelming 30 or more dishes appeared; dazzling us with a cornucopia of colours, tastes, textures and culinary techniques.
Xiao cherh – snacks, munchies and tidbits such as spiced beef jerky, stuffed dumplings and glutinous rice balls also abound throughout every nook and corner of the city. They go splendidly with Chengdu’s drink of choice – tea…again available in hot, cold, plain, sweeten or different guises.

5 Recommended Dining Havens in Chengdu


We dined like emperors and empresses of yore; savouring an extravagant banquet of refined Sichuanese and Cantonese signature dishes. 
Some of the raveworthy picks include fried wagyu beef with herbs, pan-fried gooseliver with oats, braised sea cucumber with millet, cucumber rolls with jellyfish and stewed morel with beancurd in superior soup. Every dish was artfully prepared and the resto’s gracious service team took Asian hospitality to new heights.
Level 6, Dorsett Grand Chengdu, 168 Xi Yulong Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu. 
Tel: +86 28 8332 8666
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Restaurateur David Hong and wife cook up a storm of regional Chinese dishes touched with subtle fusion influences and lots of TLC at their homely speakeasy restaurant. Expect plenty of culinary surprises as the ever-changing menu depends on the freshest seasonal produce David buys from the local market. 

During our visit, we feasted on Tibetan-style cilantro stems and leek with shredded rabbit meat; glass noodles with walnut stems, spring onion, sesame oil and wasabi; some fine-fleshed crucian fish in a basin of soy sauce, spring onion, chopped chillies, chives and wood fungus; and deep-fried shredded potato dressed with honey and apple cider vinegar. The couple’s conviviality ensured we arrived as strangers but parted as friends.
No.19-7, Hongqiang Alley, Qingyang District, Chengdu. Tel: +86 159 2881 4110
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An unbeatable hot pot dining experience befitting the US First Lady Michelle Obama is good enough for us. Every table has a central hot pot which is filled with opaque herb and chilli stock or fiery-red, mouth-numbing broth or half and half, depending on preference. 


Select your choice of paper-thin meat slices, fresh seafood, vegetables, beancurd and noodles from the menu and you’re good to go. Simply dunk the ingredients in once the soup comes to boil and sample the delicious morsels at your own pace. 

Courtyard 2/3, Jinli Phase 2, No 231, Wuhouci Street, Chengdu. Tel: +86 28 8559 1111
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It is unthinkable to dine here without tasting the outlet’s classic tongue-tingling ma po tofu (pockmarked grandmother’s beancurd) which is a cut above the rest. Timeless Sichuanese delicacies such as grilled beef ribs, kung pao chicken, twice-cooked pork and tea-smoked duck await should you wish to go the whole hog.   
No. 197, West Yulong Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu. Tel: +86 28 8674 3889
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Brace yourself for a fast and furious pile-up of hot and cold appetisers, mains and dessert once you’re seated. The assorted starters consist of the weird and wonderful: chicken feet with assorted pickles, squid with baby corn, carrot and Sichuanese vegetable strips in piquant dressing, and green soyabeans salad

Robust, piquant mains of red-cooked beef with bamboo shoot, shredded chicken with chilli and pork-filled dumplings paved the way for sweet endings in the form of steamed rice meal cakes with brown sugar filling and sweet glutinous rice balls among others.  

Corner Chengshou Street &Liangshen Alley, Tianfu Square Area, Chengdu. 
Tel: +86 28 8666 6947
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COMING UP: PART 3 - Must Visit Attractions & Where To Shop in Chengdu