Friday, 27 May 2011

Friendscino @ Damansara Perdana

Located in Damansara Perdana, Friendscino is a family pub restaurant. When we were there two weeks ago, there were several families with children in tow.

Board games for the whole family are available on the mahogany shelf

This guy can really croon

Hubby had bought a 4-course dinner package from one of those online prepaid promotions for RM27 each. It was really value for money. They did not shortchange on the quality of the food at all.

The Ceasar Salad with cheese was creamy and has a strong cheese flavour. Yummy.

Next came the wild mushroom soup. I enjoyed the home-made soup to the last drop, and putting the chutney on the garlic bread was an ingenious idea. The sweet and tangy chutney went very well with the garlic bread.

The Norwegian salmon was grilled to perfection. It was accompanied with baked baby potatoes, sauerkraut, sweet peas, brocolli and the barbecue sauce had a slight tang of chutney, too. Two thumbs up.

The bread and butter pudding with ice cream and raspberry sauce was not too sweet. It was just right for me, and acceptable by diabetic hubby. Although he did say that his blood sugar has probably spiked.

They didn't have wine on the menu so I opted for a glass of Pina Colado. I almost didn't get that, as they had run out of coconut milk, but before I could make up my mind what to order instead, one of the staff came up to our table to say they could rush out to get the coconut milk if I really want Pina Colado. Yes, I do, thank you.  :)

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Cameron Highlands Apples

You would be forgiven if you thought "Oh no, she got conned again with another dodgy apple from Cameron Highlands" (see Conned - Hybrid Guava-Apple It Is Not). Forgiven, but wrong.  

My first thought when I walked into a farm and saw these plants was "What are these? Eggplants??" I wasn't alone in thinking that. A woman very authoritatively told her husband and kids that those were definitely eggplants. However, I wasn't as hundred percent sure as she was. And hubby was certain those were not eggplants. So I went and asked one of the farmhands. He said those were apples. Apples?? Yes, Cameron Highlands' very own apples. Are they sour or sweet? Sweet. They taste like honeydew. Ohhh.....

The farmhand said all the riped ones had been plucked. Being someone who loved to try new things, I didn't want to go home without getting some. After badgering him, he said if I saw any that was yellow with red stripes, I could pluck those. But I'd have to keep them in room temperature for about two days for them to completely ripen, otherwise they won't taste good.

 Nope, not ripe for plucking

Ready to be plucked, and should ripen in two days

We only managed to find six apples that could be plucked. I guess there must have been a lot of tourists that visited during the May 1st holiday, as this is not the peak season. 

Today, three of the apples ripened and they exuded a rich honeydew smell. After chilling them in the fridge for a few hours, we sank our teeth into them. And......they were wonderful. Very juicy, juicier than regular honeydew, and sweet, those apples taste exactly like honeydew. The skin was a little funny, though. Felt like plastic. I couldn't peel them with a peeler, but after I had cut them, I could peel it off by pulling at the edge and dragging it off in one neat tug. Another hybrid??!! But the farmhand did NOT say it's a hybrid apple-honeydew......

The apples were very juicy and sweet

"Riped" pak choy for picking

Didn't pick any cherry tomatoes as those that were riped were too tiny while the decent sized ones were not ready for picking

The sunflowers were not for sale and signs were posted prominently forbidding picking of the flowers
Bigger than my head -- I took a photo standing next to it to compare who has a bigger head and the sunflower won hands down

Friday, 20 May 2011

Jasmine Cafe @ Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands

Located along the main road at Tanah Rata, Jasmine Cafe was touted as the best Western food in Cameron Highlands. It has been around since the early 1990s and supposedly opens till late as the outlet has a liquor license and was supposed to be a place to hangout at night (Cameron Highlands does not have a nightlife).

Imagine our surprise when it started rolling down its shutters at five minutes to nine (8.55pm) when we were there. Not that we had planned to hang out there, but still, we wondered if 9pm is considered late hours by Cameron's standard. Here, in KL, if you close at midnight, it's considered early.

Anyway, we had already finished our dinner and were already out of the premises, so we have no complaints with their extremely early closing hours.

Their smoked duck was touted as one of their specialties, so we ordered that.

While the meat was tender and juicy, the high sodium level put me off completely. I thought I had eaten a teaspoon of salt instead of duck. Hubby, who has a higher tolerance for salty food, was asked to help finished it. Even he could not finish the duck, that was how salty it was. 

When we paid the bill, we gave our feedback to the proprietor, and he seemed surprised that we found it too salty. I suppose his sodium-tolerance is even higher than hubby's.

The beef fillet was alright, done medium-rare, the way we liked it. But it could have been better if they had used a less chewy and fibrous part of the cow.

The only saving grace is the tomato soup which we both ordered a bowl each. 

Overall, we were disappointed in Jasmine Cafe. The proprietor, who is also the chef, is supposed to have learned the art of cooking in Europe. Yet, what we had was subpar quality.

Related topics:
Where to eat at Cameron Highlands
The Best Scones in Cameron Highlands
Charcoal Steamboat @ Restaurant Kwan Kee

Charcoal Steamboat @ Restaurant Kwan Kee

Steamboat, or Chinese hot pot, is a meal eaten in China in winter months, and is a tradition carried over to Malaysia when our ancestors migrated here. It is also claimed, but not verified, that the steamboat actually originated from the Mongolians. 

Today, in KL, the traditional coal-heated steamboat has been replaced by gas or electric cookers. That said, in Cameron Highlands, it is still available in some restaurants in Brinchang. One of them is Restaurant Kwan Kee.

The steam rising from the hot pot - we chose the herbal soup base

The long funnel attached to the steamboat acts as a chimney for the fire, without which the fire would be crackling up and above the pot. It looks much more interesting than the gas or electric steamboats we see in KL. 

But there is a reason why people switched from the traditional charcoal steamboat --- there is no control over the fire. You can't turn the fire up or down as you like. The soup dries really fast and the proprietor has to keep asking their staff to add soup to our pot.

The raw ingredients waiting to be cooked by hubby

Hubby did the cooking whenever we have steamboats or barbecues outside. I believe in letting the poor man have a chance at playing the cook. Yes, I don't let him cook at home. My kitchen looks like both a tornado and tsunami has invaded it if I let him cook. And I have no desire to clean up the tornado and tsunami aftermaths. No thank you, sirree.

Related topics:
Where to eat at Cameron Highlands
Jasmine Cafe @ Tanah Rata
The Best Scones in Cameron Highlands

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Best Scones in Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands is known for three things --- strawberries, tea and scones. But not all scones are made equal. There are scones and then there are scones.

And when it comes to the topic of scones, I believe I am quite an expert on the subject. Besides having lived in the UK for some time, and making regular day trips to the Isle of Wight, Brighton or Devon just to have their world-famous scones with cream and jam, I also had two housemates who made scones for tea all the time: one from Canada who made the American version and one very English girl who made the English cream scones. So, I know the difference between a real English scone and an American one.

Having tried the scones at various places like Cameron Valley Bharat Cafe, Bala's Chalet, Smokehouse, The Lord's Cafe (formerly known as T-Cafe) and Cameronian Inn, I must say the best English scones award in Malaysia, if there is one, should go to.....Cameronian Inn.

Located behind the Agro Bank and Maybank at Tanah Rata, Cameronian Inn is a nondescript but charming little backpackers' lodge. The scones are made by the proprietor's wife, and they are the soft & fluffy types that English scones are famous for. The other scones at those places I mentioned above are soft, but crispy on the outside and crumbly on the inside, more like the American scones that are sometimes called biscuits.

They have a smaller version of the scones, which is good for diabetics who shouldn't be eating scones

On the first day we arrived at Cameron, I was gluttony and ordered a banana and honey pancake plus two regular-sized scones for tea. Their pancake was not as good as their scones, the dough was a little 'heavy'. 

On our second day, we had scones for dessert after our lunch, and had scones again for tea at four-ish in the afternoon. On our last day, we decided that we should not have any more scones, as the refined carbo plus the cream and jam might have spiked up hubby's blood glucose too much for comfort. 

As I type this, I'm playing with the idea of baking my own scones again, but hubby was not keen. He said my scones didn't taste half as good as the not-so-good ones let alone Cameronian Inn's. I know, I'm not talented in the kitchen, what a bummer!

Related topics:
Where To Eat At Cameron Highlands
Charcoal Steamboat @ Restaurant Kwan Kee
Jasmine Cafe @ Tanah Rata

Thursday, 5 May 2011

eGarden Recipe Cafe @ SSTwo Mall

For those who are diabetic, and are on a very limited variety special diet, and has problems eating out, good news is around the corner. eGarden Recipe Cafe, a new outlet at the equally new SSTwo Mall, caters to the health-conscious, vegetarian and diabetic-diet group.

eGarden Recipe Cafe started in Melaka, and their first outlet in KL is at Solaris Mont Kiara. This is their second outlet outside of their home state. Their tagline is "It's Almost Home" and boasts of a homely feel environment.

They serve brown rice, brown rice beehoon, brown rice ramen, brown rice mee sua, and uses only brown sugar and olive oil in the cooking. For those who do not like brown rice, they can opt for basmathi rice. They also use only deep ocean fish high in protein, and salmon dominates the menu. No msg, colouring or preservatives are used either. All sauces are home-made.

The menu is a diabetic, vegetarian and health-conscious's gourmet delight

Hubby ordered the Salmon Fish Fillet Soup with Brown Rice Bee Hoon while I ordered the Grilled Salmon with Spaghetti Tomato Concasse, Healthy Salad & Fruit set.

Salmon Fish Fillet Soup with Brown Rice Bee Hoon - RM14.90

I'm not sure why it is called Salmon Fish Fillet Soup when the salmon is grilled separately and not added into the soup. The soup has an extremely clear flavour, without any fish taste. It's definitely your Yee Tau Mai (Fish Head/Fillet Beehoon) without the fish. The soup was cooked with ginger, salted vegetable and tomatoes. I found it too bland. But hubby loved it. Ever since he got used to eating food without salt and flavouring spices, he found those cooked the ordinary way to be too overwhelming, and likes those that are bland. He calls it "subtle" while I call it "sick man's food".

Grilled Salmon with Spaghetti Tomato Concasse, Healthy Salad & Fruit set - RM24.90

You have three choices for the sauce on the grilled salmon. They are: King Sauce, Miso Sauce and Japanese BBQ Sauce. I opted for the third on the list. My verdict?? The salmon was superb, while the spaghetti was done just the way I like it - al dente. The tomato concasse tastes great, too, with a fresh tomato sourish flavour. I didn't like the salad, though. It came in a peculiarly sweet vinegarish sauce.

Organic Beans Tong Sui - RM4.90

We decided that we have enough room for a dessert, and ordered the Organic Beans Tong Sui to share, which turns out to be a combination of red kidney beans, red beans and black glutinous rice. It was not sweet at all, and is just perfect. We both loved it.

We're glad we stumbled upon this cafe. It's definitely going to be one of regular our hang-outs.

LG-55, SSTwo Mall
Jalan SS 2/72
Petaling Jaya

Monday, 2 May 2011

Chocolate Lounge @ The Curve

After spending an entire day at The Curve and Ikano (hubby needed more T-shirts while I needed a pair of Nike shoes as my 10-year old pair fell apart at the gym the other day), we were bushed and decided to have our dinner at The Curve.

We were walking to Bubba Gump when a menu displayed outside Chocolate Lounge stopped me in my tracks. Spaghetti in Pesto sauce screamed a picture. A dish I can't turn down. I love pesto sauce, especially when it comes with pine nuts and almond flakes. Or at least, that's what the description was. And it was only RM19.90, and came with either tea or coffee. Without a second thought, I stepped inside Chocolate Lounge and forgot all about going to Bubba Gump.

Chocolate Lounge is an eatery outlet that 'specializes' in chocolates. They have a few outlets in KL and PJ. There are various types of chocolate bars and chocolate cakes at the counter. But they are not just a chocolate house. They also offer main courses.

Hubby ordered the Spaghetti Olio-olio, and a cup of coffee while I had Spaghetti Al Pesto and a cup of tea, both at RM19.90 each. 

Hubby's Olio-olio was great. It was neither oily nor spicy, and the seafood was fresh. It had a subtle taste, and was not overwhelming like some other Olio-olio that we once had somewhere.

My Al Pesto. See the layer of oil at the bottom? They were definitely generous with the Extra Virgin Oil when they made the pesto sauce. But that's fine, extra virgin oil is healthy, so no complaints from me in that department. The shitake mushrooms and chicken cubes went well with the pesto sauce, I must say, even though I'm not a great fan of chicken. However, there were no pine nuts nor almond flakes. Oops, sorry, they lied....the description was for the non-promotional price, at RM22.90, without any of the beverages, which would have cost RM9 each. Considering that I had thoroughly enjoyed my meal I could overlook that little misrepresentation. Yum-yum.

Fruit-Land @ Ikano

Not long ago, a new eatery outlet opened at Ikano. It has a windmill at its entrance, and pictures of shaved ice with various types of fruits were displayed on the wall. Other than that, it didn't make much of an impression on me.

However, this afternoon, as we were walking past the shop (on the way to Ikea), there was a huge banner showing a rather tempting picture of a Tempura Fish and Chips. It was unhealthy and a definite no-no for hubby, but we decided to try it anyway as it is just too difficult to find anything to eat outside nowadays, with hubby's special needs diet. 

Before we placed our order, we asked what kind of fish they have. Ikan Merah was the reply. Fine, as long as it's not Dory. It turned out that it was the WORST Fish and Chips we had ever had. 

First, it was a frozen tempura fish which the staff heated up in an inferior quality oil. It had one of those very thick oil taste, and the tempura batter, since it was a frozen product, had a rather weird floury flavour. 

Second, the fish itself did not taste like a fish. It had no flavour at all. And the staff's favourite response to any queries was: "tempura fish is from supplier". I suppose they were trying to tell me that the poor quality of the tempura fish should be laid squarely at the supplier's door, and they are not to be blamed?!!

Third, the chips. Surely this can't be laid at the supplier's door, too? I am sure the supplier did not leave them with an instruction to be over-generous with the salt when they're adding it to the chips??!!

Needless to say, we asked for the bill after a couple of mouthfuls. I know it's not good to waste food, especially when we ate only less than a quarter of it, but it was really not edible. Seriously. We were puzzled at why they had such a crowd, and a number of the customers were ordering the same tempura fish and chips, too. Could it be that they love frozen tempura heated up in poor quality oil, and extremely salty chips??

And the staff didn't even try to compensate us. At Sushi King, when we were served with an extremely poor quality food, they asked us if we would like to replace with another order of a different item, and when we declined and asked for the bill, they gave us a discount, without our asking for it. That is what I call excellent customer service. Make your customer happy, and they'll return. We are never going to go back to Fruit-Land. It's a waste of RM34.40. We paid an additional RM10 more in the evening, and got a more satisfying meal for RM44.40 at Chocolate Lounge.