Tuesday, February 27, 2007

GOOD COOKING AT ZUHO


Slurpilicious Freshwater Prawns in Special Sauce


Loh Mein with Freshwater Prawns & Crabmeat


Nyonya Sambal Fried Cincaru & Okra


Perk up the palate with Fried Kway Teow with Black
Pepper Beef




Hearty, rustic Fish Head Meehoon


Crispy Deep Fried Fish Fillet with Barreto Sauce


Few foodies can resist Sang Har Meen or stir-fried noodles with freshwater prawns. This dish reigns supreme amongst the many hawkers’ dishes available and the only one that can get away with restaurant's pricing!

Now there's a new eatery in Taman Tun Dr Ismail that prides itself in dishing up some freshwater prawn dishes, whether on their own or with noodles or rice. Its house speciality of Freshwater Prawn and Crab Meat Loh Mein (RM25 for regular, RM45 for large portion) is an extremely indulgent offering (forget about cholesterol counting for once).

Braised in a rich, eggy sauce with two big, succulent freshwater prawns, the fat yellow Hokkien noodles tasted out of this world with a dash of vinegar in it. Devour the noodles whilst they are still piping hot though. Otherwise, you'd end up with an unappetising congealed dish as they cool. I'm dying to sample their Freshwater Prawn Braised Yee Mee, Freshwater Prawn Wanton Mee in Fragrant Soup and Freshwater Prawn Meehoon in Nyonya-style Soup.

I have had better Fish Head Meehoon (RM8 – regular, RM13 – large) elsewhere but honestly, Zuho's version is as decent as they come. I prefer lai fun or thick rice noodles for this particular dish but to each her own I guess. What stood out was the fleshy chunks of deep-fried fish head and delicious sweet-tangy soup that has generous slices of hum choi or salted mustard, tomato wedges, sliced ginger and chopped spring onion in it.

The scrumptious Venison Fried Rice Nyonya-style (RM13 – regular, RM22 – large) fares better with me. Who can resist fluffy rice stir-fried with thin slices of venison, aromatic shredded kaffir lime leaves and local spices? I can only presume the Anchovy or Salted Fish Fried Rice, Beef Fried Rice Yong Chow Style and Crab Meat Fried Rice taste equally arresting.

If you like Hong Kong-style korn chau hor or dry-fried flat rice noodles, resident chef, S H Lim or Uncle Lim as he is known amongst staff and customers, executes this with panache. The Black Pepper Beef Fried Kway Teow (RM8 – regular, RM13 –large) remains slippery smooth, nicely separate and fully imbued with the robust nuances of freshly ground black pepper and sliced beef.

For all the farn tung (die-hard rice eaters) out there, Zuho's small selection of home-style dishes make perfect accompaniments to have with plain white rice. One of their specialities is Deep-fried Fish Fillet in Barreto Sauce (RM8 – regular, RM13 – large), a Filipina-inspired dish that comprised crispy, boneless pieces of fish fillet eaten with a tantalisingly sweet, sour and mildly spicy dip that has sesame seeds and chopped coriander in it.

Har loke, a classic prawn dish for many major Chinese festivals, is superbly replicated here. Its Freshwater Prawns Fried in Chef’s Special Sauce (RM30 – regular, RM45 – large) beg to be eaten with your hands to fully appreciate the dark, glistening and full-bodied sauce made from chopped garlic, red chilli, coriander, ginger, Worchestershire sauce, thick soya sauce and spring onions.

Chilli fiends will get fired up over the Nyonya Sambal Cencaru Fish (RM8 – regular, RM13 – large) as the ground chilli paste for this packs quite a wallop. The Kunyit Chicken (RM13 – regular, RM20 – large) and Stir-fried Chicken with Salted Fish (RM13 – regular, RM20 – large) come highly recommended as well.

A surprisingly good Melaka Nyonya Cendol (RM4) consisting of thick, caramelised gula Melaka (palm sugar) syrup, rich coconut milk and short, fat and soft jade-green cendol strands is the perfect conclusion to your meal at Zuho.

With its modern, spartan decor and quick, amicable service, Zuho is definitely worth the (reasonable) prices it is charging.

Zuho (pork-free)
44 Jalan Datuk Sulaiman
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 012-238 8135/016-600 3389

Business hours – Tues-Sun 11.00 am – 3.00 pm, 6.00 pm – 10.30 pm

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

NEW YEAR WISHES

Been missing in action for some time due to an unbelievably hectic last quarter in 2006. The last quake which disrupted the Net access didn't help either.

Anyway another year beckons with more great dining experiences await! Believe it or not, eating well can be a vice...but heck, it's a blessed task that yours truly will undertake with no qualms whatsoever. 2006 has been a fair year filled with more fabulous food than mediocre eats so overall, it was memorable in its own way.

For those who have been following my food treks, thank you for your support. Stick around and I'd clue you in on what's hot on the dining scene in 2007. Now let the feast begin!

A TOSS UP FOR GOOD THINGS TO COME


Get fresh - and enjoy a fruitful start to the Lunar New Year!


Imagine you're participating in Fear Factor...

'Bean' there? Such luxurious smoothness on the palate

Roast pork - not! It's crispy chicken skin with prawn paste & nuts

Har har - prawns to usher in joyous laughter

It is believed that yee sang or Chinese raw fish salad was invented some 1,500 years ago during the Song dynasty. Traditionally consumed on the seventh day of the Lunar New Year to mark the birthday of mankind, this humble dish has come a long way from its ancient origins. Come every Chinese New Year, local Chinese chefs will vie to bring fresh interpretations to this colourful salad. Over at the Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant at Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur, Chef Chew Chee Keong decides to make it a fruitful head start to the Lunar New Year celebrations with his Tropical Fresh Fruits Yee Sang.

In addition to the mounds of assorted pickles, vegetables and deep-fried flour crisps, Chef Chew has included shredded kiwifruit, dragon fruit, strawberries, honey rose apples, snow pear, young mango, pomelo and rock melon to this ubiquitous festive delight.

Diners can inject ‘liveliness’, ‘abundance’ and 'good fortune' to their order with shark’s fin, pacific clams, soft shell crab or yellow fin tuna, abalone, salmon or jellyfish. They even have a choice of different sauces – Fruity Sour Plum Sauce, Sour Plum with Wasabi Sauce, Spicy Thai Chilli Plum Sauce or plain Plum Sauce. The end result will be a light, tantalising salad redolent with a whole gamut of tangy, zesty, sweet and tart flavours without any cloying aftertaste.

There's nothing like some Sichuanese spices to set jaded palates alight. The Crispy Prawn with Spicy Bean Paste is guaranteed to leave your tongue tingling from its crunchy, spicy outer crust whilst the crustaceans remain deliciously succulent inside. But don't worry, you can always t
empering things down with Crispy Stuffed Chicken with Prawn and Shark’s Fin Paste and Deluxe Nut Coating. Looking deceptively like roast pork from afar, this scrumptious speciality proves memorable for its varied textural contrasts and delicate nuances. A robust chilli dip served on the side helps to give extra bite to these springy slices.

Shaped like mini gold ingots, the Homemade Green Puree Beancurd with Seafood and Scallops is distinctive for its top coating of jade green, blended seaweed. The silky smooth beancurd pieces are the perfect foil to emphasise the fresh scallop and minced seafood's inherent sweetness.

The typical Sichuanese delicacy of Fried Spicy Fish Fillet Sautéed with Sichuan Peppercorns is unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry. Unlike the 'in your face'
spicy tartness of Thai tom yum, its fiery-hued broth is potent enough to give chilli lovers an instant ‘high’ with its ma la (numbing spiciness) flavour.

For the first time ever, those on a vegetarian diet can also look forward to a sumptuous feast at Si Chuan Dou Hua as Chef Chew has thoughtfully came up with a special Vegetarian Set Menu that will enable them to partake in the festive feasting. One of the specialities, Stir-fried Mixed Fresh Mushrooms with Seven Spices is something that will appeal to even non-vegetarians and diners who want a change from the normally indulgent fare served during this festive season.

All the dishes mentioned are from the different set menus available. The Feast of Abundance is tailored for two persons at RM98++ and at RM318++ for a table of six. For 10 persons or more, choose from its Feast of Prosperity, Fortune, Health and Wealth set menu or Vegetarian Set at RM638++ per table. Small portions of Yee Sang are priced from RM38++ onwards while large portions are priced from RM68++ onwards.

Go on, it is time to go the whole hog at the Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur for a fruitful Chinese New Year.

SI CHUAN DOU HUA RESTAURANT (pork-free)
Lower Lobby
Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Reservations: 2711 1199/2782 8303

AN ITALIAN SOJOURN


Bacco's cosy & intimate setting

Elegant Italian decor by Datin Burna Mirri

Italian carnival favourite, Frappe

Bewitching Fish Dish

Something to stew over!

Omelette with a difference

Less is more with these Mini Pizzas

Light yet tasty Mozzarella Sandwich

Antipasti to kick start dinner

For those in the know, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng is a food haven in its own right. The entire stretch of road boasts of Nyonya, Japanese, European, Indian, Chinese steamboat and Penang nasi kandar outlets so diners are truly spoilt for choice. However, few are aware of a splendid Italian restaurant tucked away in one of the quieter lanes known as Jalan Liew Weng Chee.

Named after the Italian god of wine, Bacco, this understated restaurant is owned by architect Datuk Luciano Mirri and his interior designer wife, Burna who have made Malaysia their home for the last 22 years. Their eatery prides itself on serving rustic home-style Italian dishes that are rarely found elsewhere.

The inimitable style and creative handiwork of Datin Burna Mirri are evident in the hand-sewn table cloths and curtains, and sponge-painted walls within Bacco. Oriental and European antiques, paintings and furniture further enhanced the classic, homely ambience.

Chef Michele Dal Cero from Verona, Italy displays an uncanny flair for staying true to his Italian roots despite this being his first stint in the Far East and having to be mindful of local dietary sensitivities. Antipasti (appetizers) is a must here to start off your meal. We enjoyed sliced marinated mushroom, pickled red cabbage, zucchini, red and green peppers, a creamy tuna spread, olives and sun-dried tomatoes with the two types of breads – onion and truffle and another flavoured with chopped olives.

Italy’s simple, provincial-style cooking is best reflected in Frittata Ai Funghi Con Patate Alla Bacco or Bacco-style Mushroom Omelette with Potatoes. Special mention must be made of the accompanying sauce of boiled egg yolk blended with anchovies, extra virgin olive oil, thyme, lemon juice and salt.

Chef Dal Cero gets back to basics with his Mini Pizzas with a single ingredient to top each miniature dough disc – chopped tomato, olives or grated cheese. It is a great way to savour the pizza’s delightfully light texture and unadulterated flavour of each topping.

The Involtino Di Sogliola Con Salmone (Witch Fillet Roll with Salmon Garnished with Smoked Salmon) is as bewitching as its name. It is hard to fault this dish of baked sole fillet rolled and stuffed with fresh salmon and chopped romaine lettuce, complemented by a dainty roll of smoked salmon. The composition of subtle nuances and myriad textures proved the chef’s consummate skills.

A scrumptious creation served with a distinctive anchovy-caper sauce, the delicious pan-fried Mozzarella la Carrozza mini sandwich would captivate any discerning cheese lovers. Lightly covered in egg batter, it oozed with melted, piquant cheese in the centre.

La Padella Del Pescatore made us felt as if we were dining at an Italian friend’s villa in the Roman countryside. A hearty stew of fish, prawns, squid and mussels, the ingredients are first sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and cooked with chopped fresh tomatoes, garlic, white wine, chili, fresh herbs and black pepper. The deliciously sweet broth, tinged with the faintest hint of tanginess, is best enjoyed with crusty sliced baguette.

A traditional carnival fried pastry known as Frappe gave us another rare glimpse into Italy. Also known as Cenci in Tuscany, Chiacchiere in Lombardy, Crostoli in Venice and Bugie in Genoa, the rectangular paper-thin, deep-fried pastry are served with a dusting of icing sugar. At Bacco, this delightful creation comes with ice-cream and a little warmer of melted chocolate which you can drizzle onto the crispy pastry. The perennial favourite, tiramisu, is also available although this being an alcohol-free version, it may be a tad tame for those who used to the original recipe.

Thanks to Bacco’s niche set-up, service is cordial and impeccable. Bigger groups of eight persons or more should ideally notify outlet manager, Ahmad Radhi Abdul Shukor ahead of time so that the team is prepared to cope with service delivery and food quality.

Datuk Mirri explained, “Good food takes time to prepare. Ample notice is necessary for our kitchen team to plan and work their magic. For our best dishes, the ingredients need to be freshly sourced and everything made from scratch. Some specialities need more than four hours of preparation to a full day’s work. Advance reservations minimize the customers’ waiting time in between courses and this maximizes their dining experience with us. So it’s a win-win situation for both.”

For those yearning for an Italian gastronomic sojourn, Bacco is well worth the trip.

BACCO (pork free)
5 Jalan Liew Weng Chee
Off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 21711190

Business hours – Lunch Monday to Friday 12 noon to 2.30 pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday 7.00 pm to 10.30 pm
Closed on Sundays