Thursday, March 31, 2011

Melaka Trip Part 5: Nadeje Patisserie Cafe, Melaka Raya, Melaka

Before The Unc left for Melaka, I gave him specific instructions to buy some mille crêpe from Nadeje Patisserie Cafe for me if he had the time. Fortunately for me, him and his mates made a quick detour to Melaka Raya just before they made their way back to KL.

You're coming home with me tonight

Nadeje in Melaka Raya

Mille crêpe, also called thousand layer cake is a French cake made of many crêpe layers. Each cake at Nadeje has around 18 t0 20 layers and everything is made by hand and hand-layered. When The Unc arrived at the shop, he called to ask how many slices of cakes I wanted. Because they would only get back around midnight and the lady in the shop said that the cake would not keep, I just told him to get 1 slice for me to sample.

We went for their bestseller, the Original flavour. The mille crêpe consists of homemade custard cream with Tahitian Vanilla Beans mixed with fresh cream and topped with caramel. Rich in taste and light in texture, I fell in love as soon as I took my first bite. It was smooth, fluffy and absolutely luscious! I regretted immediately not getting a few more slices.

Simply heavenly

My only consolation is that one of their competitors currently supply to several coffee outlets in KL and also deliver to KL addresses.

Opening times: 12pm - 10pm. Closed on Mondays.

Price: RM8.50 per slice.

Location: Nadeje Patisserie Cafe, Taman Melaka Raya, G-23 & 25, Jalan PM 4, Plazza Mahkota,75000 Melaka.

Tel : 06-283 8750

GPS Coordinates: 2.189539, 102.246419

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Melaka Trip Part 4: Coconut Shake @ Klebang, Melaka

Despite raining the night before, the weather was having serious mood swings, hitting us with sweltering heat during the day that made sweat drip from our foreheads from just sitting around doing nothing. We were given 2 choices for a late lunch and we opted for the exotic sounding Warong Coconut Shake. Personally, I have never heard of the drink before but I have been told it is pretty popular around these parts. Apparently, many "imitation" stalls have been set up but none have succeeded in replicating the original taste and flavour of this particular stall.

The famous coconut shake drink

Yet again having locals bring us around was a plus point. The stall was located by the roadside nearby a Caltex petrol station, somewhere we would have had some difficulty locating had we been here on our own. The stall has all sorts of kuih muih, nasi lemak and mee goreng but the main star was their coconut shake (RM1.50). Every customer had a coconut shake drink to themself. There was a long queue forming at the coconut shake station for takeaways. The coconut shake is made(from what I observed) by blending together coconut water, grated coconut flesh, and soda water. There is also a 'special' version (RM2.00) on offer, which includes an additional scoop of Walls ice-cream to top off the shake.

The drink was amazingly refreshing and the pieces of coconut flesh provided a nice crunch to a creamy and delicious shake. It was definitely the perfect thirst-quencher, something you will definitely not tire of drinking!

As far as food goes they do have a rather tasty nasi lemak, fragrant and accompanied by a nice sambal. There are also various curry puffs on offer (sardines, potatoes, coconut), tofu filled with vegetables, and I even spotted something resembling a chocolate muffin and also some sausage filled rolls. The folk here operate based on trust, so we had to keep track of the number of kuihs we took for the bill later on.

Nasi Lemak


We stepped in with sweaty foreheads and blurry minds but left the stall with renewed vigor for the day ahead!

Service: Coconut shake delivery is prompt, food is self-service.

Price: Cheap. RM 25 for 5 persons.

Location: Warong Coconut Shake Klebang Besar, Along Jalan Klebang Besar, next to Caltex Petrol Station, 75200 Melaka.

GPS Coordinates: 2.21551, 102.206132

Join their Facebook page here.

*This is a guest post by The Unc.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Makan Kitchen, Doubletree by Hilton, Kuala Lumpur

Doubletree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur opened in August 2010, and Makan Kitchen is their 350-seat signature restaurant located on the 11th floor featuring 6 local Malaysian cuisines such as Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kristang (Portugese-Malaccan), Nyonya and Ibanese.

In December 2010 (yes sorry, I know this post is very outdated), Doubletree by Hilton posted a promotion for their Facebook fans, whereby fans got to enjoy 50% off the lunch or dinner buffet price. Since I have been wanting to try the Full Makan Kitchen Experience Buffet here, this was an offer too good to be missed. It was a breeze making a reservation over the phone and on the morning itself, we received an sms confirming our reservation.

Reception counter

Reception decor

Juice bar

When we arrived at Makan Kitchen, we were greeted by smiles from their waiting staff and escorted to our table next to the Malay interactive kitchen with a view of the hotel pool and KLCC Twin Towers. There are different sections in the restaurant with slightly different decor, but all done in good taste. There were also a few semi-private rooms if you prefer a little more privacy.

We had a direct view of the KLCC Petronas Twin Towers

Hotel pool

Restaurant Interior

Service was exemplary; the waiting staff were very friendly, courteous and always made sure our glasses were filled. When they saw that we had a child with us, they quickly brought out a special kids cutlery set for Baby C. The kitchen staff were also very friendly, taking time to explain certain dishes to us when we enquired. I strongly recommend doing a tour of all three interactive kitchens to take in the smell and sight of the vast variety food on offer here.

Out of all the kitchens, our favorite has to be the Indian kitchen. Almost everything we ate from this station was very tasty. Malaysian Indian food is influenced by Northern and Southern Indian cuisine. Do try the tandoori chicken and the many curries on offer. Soak up the curry with some fluffy naan bread. The lamb briyani was also very good. The kitchen staff recommended the saute snake gourd with Indian spices to us, a type of vegetable that resembled the loofah gourd in texture. We also grabbed some mini popaddoms to munch on.

Kristang or Portugese-Malaccan cuisine is also featured in the Indian Kitchen. One of the most famous Kristang dishes is Curry Debal or Devil chicken curry, which we tried. Be warned that this curry is on the spicier side due to the use of fiery hot dried chillies.

A little bit of everything :)

Another cuisine featured in the Indian Kitchen is Ibanese. Actually, I think the only Ibanese dish on offer that afternoon was the pansuh manuk, a traditional Ibanese dish served during Gawai festivals. The lemongrass and coconut infused chicken is cooked using a bamboo stem over a special grill. I was quite excited to try this as I have read about it in other blogs and it sounded interesting. Although I have not tried the real thing from Sarawak, I am pretty sure it was not supposed to taste like this - the broth was extremely salty and I could only manage a couple of sips before I gave up.

The Malay Kitchen offers the largest selection of food here. The best thing from this kitchen was definitely the satay, which is freshly cooked at the live cooking station. On top of being succulent and tender, the meat was fragrant from the marination of lemongrass and tumeric, hence we didn't hesitate going back for seconds. We also sampled the Ikan Bakar, grilled fish on banana leaf and served with a spicy tamarind dip. The Ikan Pari (stingray) was a little tough in texture and another unidentified smaller fish was too bony. The rendang and sotong sambal is worth a mention.

Excellent satay, served with peanut sauce, ketupat, cucumber and onions.

Ikan Bakar, grilled at the live cooking station

Ulam , some pickled vegetables and noodles counter

Apam balik, a traditional Malay peanut pancake

There is also a noodles counter, whereby you can choose from various ingredients on display. Let the station chef know what type of noodles and soup (choose from Sarawak laksa, beef or chicken broth) you would like and they will cook it for you.

Baby C's loh shu fun with beef broth

Our encounter with the Chinese kitchen was the most disappointing. We sampled some dim sum, and because it was left to cook on the steamer baskets for long periods of time, the skin has turned mushy. I tried a char siew chicken pau (steamed BBQ bun) and the skin was sticky and damp. The roast duck, char siew chicken and roast chicken was just so-so. The other buffet offerings did not look very appetizing as they were mostly massacred by the time we got there.

Dim sum and roast meats

Chicken char siew pau

I was intrigued as to what "local flavoured" ice creams were being served here, but was told that there were only vanilla and yam ice-cream available. I was expecting more exotic flavours. We also sampled a wide range of Malay, Chinese and Nyonya kuihs. The Malay and Nyonya kuihs were quite decent, although the same cannot be said of the Chinese ones. We were surprised to see Western desserts here, but oh, what a lovely surprise it was! I especially loved the chocolate brownies and the chocolate cups filled with chocolate mousse. We kept going back for more of the chocolate cups.

Yam and vanilla ice cream

Traditional Malay and Nyonya kuih

Nicely presented on traditional three-tier stands

Malay kuih and mochi

Chinese desserts

Western desserts

Yummy chocolate brownies

Our favorite chocolate cup dessert

Verdict: This buffet is suitable for diners wanting to try a little bit of everything from local Malaysian cuisine in a fine setting. We found the Indian Kitchen's food to be outstanding.

Pork free.

Opening times: Lunch 12.00pm - 2.30pm; Dinner 6.30pm - 10.30pm

Service: Excellent.

Price: RM59+ for adult, RM29.50+ for kids under 12 (Lunch); RM79+ for adult, RM39.50 for kids under 12 (Dinner). However with the 50% offer, we only paid RM59+ for 2 adults and kids under 3 eat for free. A la carte menu is also available.

Parking: Since most hotels offer a parking rebate for their dining customers, we asked hotel reception if it was applicable here. She told us that it was a flat rate of RM10, but when we came to paying at the parking exit counter, the attendant charged us the hourly rates as our ticket did not have the hotel stamp. The difference was minimal, but this situation irked me a little because the reception did not follow through her job properly.

Location: Makan Kitchen, Doubletree by Hilton, The Intermark, 182 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: 03-2172 7272

GPS Coordinates: 3.161620, 101.719670


Join their Facebook page here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I cooked: Risotto ai Funghi

Just before The Unc came back from Germany, I was lamenting about how difficult it was to find risotto rice in KL, having looked in several major supermarkets*. I asked if he could bring a pack back and we could experiment cooking it in the kitchen. He bought a pack of Giuliano Tartufi Riso Carnaroli al Tartufo (approx €9), which is carnaroli rice with dried summer truffles (Tuber aestivum Vitt). Giuliano Tartufi is an Italian brand specialising in all things truffles. When I opened the pack of rice, the scent of truffles filled our kitchen and was absolutely heavenly.

Bits of heaven in our carnaroli

When it comes to picking your risotto rice, it boils down to personal preference. Choose from Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Padano, Roma, or Vialone Nano. Compared to normal rice that we Asians eat, these rice varieties have the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch and hence producing a stickier product. Carnaroli and Vialone Nano are considered the best (and most expensive) varieties.

One of the important components in cooking a risotto is the stock. The risotto is to be cooked in the stock until a creamy consistency is obtained. You can either make your own stock or buy ready-made stock cubes/sachets. The stock may be meat, vegetable or fish based. We chose to make our own chicken stock from scratch as ready made stocks (especially the cheaper cube types) can sometimes be overly salty.

Making risotto is fairly straight forward but requires a lot of patience. And a strong hand for constant stirring during the cooking process. We decided to keep our risotto simple and just use oyster mushrooms, Parmesan and parsley for some colour. The risotto rice should be cooked til it is rich, creamy and al dente.

I guess it is this labour of love which makes the risotto taste so damn fine. Buon appetito!

Homemade Risotto Ai Funghi
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 - 40 minutes (does not include time for making stock)
Serves 4

350g carnaroli rice
1.5l of chicken stock
220g oyster mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp of olive oil
30g butter
4-5 shallots, finely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
40-45g Parmesan cheese
Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For chicken stock
2l cold water
2 chicken thighs
1 carrot, cut in thick chunks
1 onion, halved
Parsley, finely chopped

1. For the chicken stock, bring the water to the boil in a large pot and then add the chicken thighs and simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Add the carrot, onion and parsley and simmer for a further hour. Remember not to cut the vegetables too thinly as you do not want them to "mash up" in your stock. Strain and continue simmering while cooking the risotto.

2. In a large non-stick pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute the mushroom on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until cooked/softened. Season with salt, remove from heat and set aside.

3. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and the butter in the same pan on a medium heat, then add the shallots and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes until browned.

4. Add the carnaroli rice and stir the rice well, making sure that the grains are coated with the olive oil/butter until slightly translucent. This process is called tostatura. It helps the rice absorb the stock later.

5. Turn the heat down to medium low, and add enough stock to cover the risotto. Keep stirring the risotto constantly as stirring massages the starch molecules out of the rice, hence creating a rich, creamy texture.

Keep stirring and stirring

6. Allow the stock to be absorbed before adding more stock to the rice. Keep adding small amounts of stock to the rice until the rice is soft but still has a bite to it (al dente). The pack actually suggests cooking time of 20 minutes but for us to get to the al dente stage took about 30 minutes. Taste the risotto rice occasionally to check if it's ready. If you run out of stock before your rice is ready, you can add boiling water as a substitute for the stock.

7. When the rice is ready, add the cooked mushroom and Parmesan. Stir to mix the Parmesan well into the rice (the mantecatura process). Season with salt and remove from heat. Add the freshly chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Here you go, a plate of creamy, oozy risotto ai funghi! Delizioso!

Cooked to perfection

*Since then I have managed to find arborio and carnaroli for sale at Village Grocer, Bangsar Village. Will definitely be cooking this again soon!
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