"Authentic French breads!"
If there’s one thing I miss about being in Paris it’s waking up early in the morning and walking over to the bakery for some fresh baked goodies. Each time I go I have to buy more than one baguette because I will always eat at least half of a baguette on the walk back to the apartment. It is absolutely impossible to resist warm crusty bread fresh out of the oven. Living here though, there has always been a bit of frustration on my end as it’s been a struggle to find good bread (correction, good French bread). That is till I found Tommy Le Baker.
Tommy lived in France for 10 years where he picked up certifications in pastry, confections, chocolates, and finally breads. For 2 years he worked as a private caterer in France producing desserts, eventually he travelled around the country to wheat mills, bakeries, and communal ovens to learn more about bread making. It was here that he picked up his incredible skills and decided to open up a little café just off of Jalan Ipoh.
Tommy hard at work in his kitchen More »
"A simple rice-sambal-egg affair..."
Everyone has an opinion as to what constitutes a truly excellent nasi lemak. Some swear by the infusion of ginger and whole black peppercorns in the santan used to cook the rice; some like their sambal to be tongue-burningly hot, whilst others favor the sweeter, mellower kind; there are nasi lemak fans who stack their plates with various lauk, and then there are the purists who only want the quattro of ikan bilis, fried peanuts, cucumbers and eggs. So let's not get started as to what makes a perfect
nasi lemak because it'll be a never-ending debate with too many voices. What I want to do now to simply point you to a fine example of the breed: the nasi lemak at "Nasi Lemak Atan", and if there's one thing I'm very certain of, it's the fact that for most Malaysians, there is ALWAYS time for some nasi lemak, come rain or shine, night or day.
In a part of KL I like to call Old KL
(you know, the KL before there was KLCC and Pavilion) is a stall I discovered by accident one late night some time ago. As it turns out, this stall has been in operation since the 1970s. It was kinda dark and bare-boned, with tables and chairs, a food counter and nothing else. A single painted sign said "Nasi Lemak Atan", and on that food counter were stacks of freshly packed nasi lemak and plenty of lauk to choose from. Now a more recent visit has shown some changes; the sign is now blinking LEDs, and the stall now has a roof, with much better lighting to boot. The eponymous Atan is no more, and the stall is now run by his son, Helmi. The place opens at 6pm everyday and operates to 5am; unsurprisingly, the bulk of the customers are hungry night-hawks wanting a relatively cheap meal after a night out.
Here, the nasi lemak is freshly packed in the familiar old newspaper and banana leaf combo right in front of your eyes, and you get to choose how many packets you want using plastic baskets. Then you make your way down the food counter to choose the various lauk on offer. On any given day, expect to find several varieties of sambal such as sotong, ikan bilis and kerang. In addition to beef rendang, there's also sambal goreng featuring beef lungs and chicken gizzards, gulai ayam, and of course the ever-popular telur mata and ayam goreng. More »
"Porcine and divine..."
If you’re familiar with the story of the Three Little Pigs you’ll know that when he arrived at the house made of bricks the story went something like this: “Let me in, let me in,” cried the wolf. “Or I’ll huff and I’ll puff till I blow your house in!” “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin,” said the three little pigs. So he huffed and puffed and huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow the third pig’s house down. And the pigs lived happily ever after.
At Hoofed however, though it’s made of bricks and even has a dome ceiling made of bricks, the wolf must have found a way in because this is one porkified menu. Pigs here are served up on a wooden board for dinner. It is also a chilled out spot that is a great place to kick back with friends and indulge in a great meal.
"We wanted to create something with a neighbourhood feel that serves good food and wine and we wanted to focus mainly on pork because there aren't many restaurants that have an almost full pork menu. We have a whole theme surrounding it with the decor including pictures of pigs," says Ernest Ong, one of the owners of Hoofed. "We chose this area because we run Tom, Dick and Harry's downstairs which is a pub concept and it was convenient to use the second floor for something else." More »
As evidenced by last year's Favourite 50 list, we here at FriedChillies really love our simple fried fish and white rice. We don't need much else, maybe a dip or a sauce, a stray vegetable or two. For a while, the world is at peace and life looks just that little bit better. Now there's a boisterous little stall in a quiet food court that's feeding our love for this humble fare, and it packs a pretty powerful punch.
Bawal Power has been operating in the Kota Damansara food court for about four years now. Opened up by passionate foodie friends including Emri Shamreza and Bob Kuman (they're famous entertainers too!), it has since expanded to Uptown Damansara and Ampang Jaya. So why Bawal Power? Because their main dish is nasi bawal, a well-known Penang dish consisting of a plate of hot white rice and deliciously crispy-fluffy pomfret. These friends realized that no one in the Klang Valley was really selling their favourite meal and decided to start a business to bring nasi bawal to us lucky KL-ites.
"Eyes and cheeks are the best bit..."
Artfully tucked into an alley, Big Tree Lin Kee is not the easiest place to find. Right after you drive past the turn-off into Jalan Waras 3, you’ll see a big yellow sign written in Chinese with a big arrow pointing right into the alley. Follow it up the road and pray hard for an empty parking spot. Then grab a seat and get ready for one of the best steamed fish you’ll ever have in the Klang Valley. Big Tree Lin Kee have been around for about 7 years. Named after the matriarch of the family, Lin, their steamed haruan fish heads are the major star attraction here. Haruan has wonderfully smooth and soft flesh characteristic of river fish. It’s also relatively cheap and good for you, as it’s a popular pantang and post-op meal option.
The most popular ways to have it here are either with the brown fermented bean sauce (cheong cheng) or with minced ginger. We ordered both, along with a whole host of other dishes.
The soup arrived first, a deliciously herby watercress soup. Red dates or jujube fruit gave it textural interest, while the chunks of pork give the soup its body. The stir-fried kangkung belacan here is one of the best we’ve had – fresh, crunchy, with just the right amount of kick from the belacan and the chillies. The stir-fried sweet potato leaves were also fresh, if not a touch bland. The tofu was a quick favourite as its crunchy-on-the-outside-smooth-on-the-inside texture won us over with subtle hints of seafood and vegetables studded into the tofu.
"Banana leaf wrapped goodies..."
Nasi Lemak Marvellous in Bukit Indah is known for their teensy packages of this Malaysian favourite. Tiny in stature but huge in popularity this family-run business is helmed by Pakcik Abu and his wife Makcik Yasimah. His wife does most of the cooking while Pak Abu and his son manage the restaurant. They started with a small stall in 1997 and relocated to their current location in 2003. Most people opt to tapau their Nasi Lemak for small gatherings or to eat at home. One guy even ordered 200 packs for an event. I prefer to dine in. Their packs are so cute that I finish my first one in a couple of minutes. Rule of thumb is 2 packs per person and you eat them on their own or with the lauk. I definitely recommend the latter. In my opinion, it's the lauk at Marvellous that sets them apart from other nasi lemak joints that I frequent.
The taste of the nasi lemak here is similar to what you probably ate in your school canteen. Sambal is mild and rice is infused with a hint of coconut. This is fine by me because the accompanying dishes are the ones that seal the deal. The best lauks here are the Ayam Masak Merah and an unnamed beef dish which is like a hybrid of dendeng and rendang. (When I asked Makcik Yasimah for the name of the beef dish, she just said,"Takde nama. Ni resipi bantai jer."- "I don't have a name for this dish, it's a recipe I got when I just mixed random stuff together.") So the beef dish for the purpose of this review should be dubbed Daging Bantai Jer
. Other lauks sold here are paru, sambal sotong and fried chicken.
"A beautifully cooked piece of meat!"
Good news! I can now tick ‘eat steak in a swamp’ off my to-do list. It was a rather pleasant experience, and one I wouldn’t mind going through again. Good food in a good place; that’s hard to beat. So, steak in a swamp: done! But let’s back up. No, I wasn’t actually in a swamp. That’d be weird. It just so happens ‘Toowoomba’ means swamp in native Australian Aborigine, as the poster on the wall says. And instead of a wet bog with mosquitoes flying around, Toowoomba Meats and Deli is perhaps one of the nicest looking places you can go today to enjoy a steak.
Toowoomba Meats and Delis is a steak-house owned by Perfect Fresh and Frozen, a local purveyor of meats, mostly imported from Australia. Their schtick is that all of their products are guaranteed Halal from reliable sources. Toowoomba is apparently their latest restaurant, situated in the brand new Platinum Mondrian commercial building along Jalan Genting Klang. It’s easy to spot from the main road; a few steps away from Overtime Sports Bar. If you’re wondering what kind of place it is, think Las Vacas or Ayers Rock; it’s essentially a meat shop that cooks for you.
The first thing that struck me as I stepped in with my colleague was just how clean and bright everything is. This led to a very cheerful, friendly atmosphere. There weren’t that many people around the day I visited, maybe it’s because of how new the place is. The restaurant is furnished with wooden furniture and decorated with high-contrast posters that mostly talk about meat. As with a lot of modern restaurants, the kitchen is visible to see behind glass panels. You can actually watch the chefs cook your food there and then. Of course, there’s the ice-box and meat-case where a selection of high-quality beef and lamb, all Australian and Halal, is ready for you to buy. The ice-box also contains seafood products such as salmon.