October 28, 2011

The Tranquerah, Red Carpet Avenue@ Encorp Strand: Authentic Malacca Nyonya Cuisine!

As I attended the launch of Red Carpet Avenue at Encorp Strand last month, I also had the honor to chow down at a new Malaccan Nyonya restaurant, The Tranquerah, located smacked in avenue itself!

Most of you folks would know that Nyonya cuisine is sectioned into north and south, hence the cuisine has differences in the dishes depending on which part of Nyonya heritage one is from. As I was from the northern side, Penang, I have not really tasted much of the south Nyonya heritage. So I was truly excited to savor what Malacca Nyonya cuisine brings to the table!

Well news is already out… The Tranquerah is partly owned by our dashing actor, Alan Yun and I also found out that the recipes are from none other than our famous chef Florence Tan!

Here is a lovely picture of a younger Florence dress in a pretty frock!

As soon as I walked into the restaurant, the décor had me at hello! Gosh, it was charming as the whole place had a very modern contemporary design but if you looked closely, the décor is actually derived from pieces of antique from the Nyonya heritage in Malacca!

Quite amazing as I could see old wooden doors and window panes, odds and ends of the tables and chairs, gorgeous hues of colors that really bring an authenticity to the whole restaurant!

I spied old batik printing molds melded to the wall… what a gorgeous piece of modern art and yet truly charming!

Another jewel found sitting on the window edge was a very old wooden mold for ‘Angku Kuih’… J

Loads of knick knacks from the Nyonya household added the rustic charm to the whole place. See this chair made from an old biscuit tin? Gosh… I loved it so much I wanna bring it home with me.

Alrighty… let’s check out the food!

A sourish Asam Jawa Juice to kick off the dinner.

First up to whet our appetites was a plate of very delectable looking Pie Tee… crispy top hat shells filled to the brim with cooked jicama and other vegetables. Crispy, sweet and full of the jicama flavor, our foodie gang ended up fighting for this!!

Ayam Pongteh is chicken cooked in fermented bean paste, mushroom and potatoes. The version here is lovely as it had a beautiful balance of salty and sweet taste from the soybean paste and gula Melaka. There is a pork version of this Nyonya stew too. The gravy is thick and goes really well with rice.

Almost all of the Nyonya dishes need this to boost up the flavors. Sambal Belachan is a significant benchmark for Nyonya cuisine and the one here certainly passed with flying colors. A good sambal needs a fairly strong hint of belachan and this one has a great aroma with a good spicy bite!

One of my favorite Nyonya dish is Sambal Udang Petai. Auntie Florence’s recipe is delicious! Sweet, spicy and a hint of sour, the sambal gravy was truly scrumptious and I scraped the plate clean for its gravy. There were plenty juicy prawns with the stinky beans and onions. My only gripe is I would love a bit more gravy for this… J

Another favorite dish of mine is Kangkung Belachan. If my mom makes this dish, I will gladly enjoy this with rice alone. The kangkung belachan has good pungent flavors of shallots, chili and belachan with a nice wok flavor.

I like the taste of the sweet Honey Crispy Sotong. It was not overly sweet and there is a lovely aroma of the caramelized sugar to this. The squid texture was a bit hard in my opinion but that is easily remedied as we provided our feedback to the kitchen staff. This dish also makes a good snack as munchies!!

Inche Kabin is another signature Nyonya dish and the dish relies heavily in a great spice seasoning to bring out the taste of this dish. The chicken was exceptionally fragrant with its spice marinade and coupled with the aroma of garlic, onions, lemongrass and curry leaves, it was a bomb!! A stellar dish for the young and the old… J

My ultimate favorite dish of the night was the Nyonya Curry Chicken. Although the others thought this dish was too spicy, I adored it as the spice flavors was fabulous. The curry was thick, creamy and chocked full of tender chicken and potatoes. I had to suppress the urge to order another bowl of rice just to savor more of this delectable curry. Do tell the staff to reduce the heat if you are not a fan of spicy taste. This is a must order for me!!

When the Ikan Cincaru Sumbat came, everyone scrambled for a whiff of this dish. Two huge Cincaru fish came fried to crisp and cramped with loads of sambal chili paste. The flesh of the fish was firm and moist while the chili paste had an amazing aroma of spice and chili. Our gang loved this to bits and polished this off with great speed.

One of our lovely foodie, Nyonya Merryn, had to have her favorite Cincalok Omelette. A simple dish that boast of strong savory flavors, the omelette also had a nice mixed of shredded vegetables to provide some textures. Although the omelette was a bit salty, probably due to the cincalok, I thought the dish went well with rice to counter the saltiness. Cincalok is a pink fermented sauce made from fermenting miniscule shrimps called ‘geragau’.  I was told by Merryn to squeeze some calamansi juice for extra kick!

Our last dish to go with our rice was the Ayam Sioh which was highly recommended by Alan himself. The dish had a thick gravy base and tasted slightly sweet and tangy with a good flavor of spices. If only I wasn’t filled up with rice and curry, I would have gladly savored this dish with pleasure.

We finished off with some delectable Nyonya Kuihs such as Seri Muka, Angku, Kuih Bingka, Kuih Lapis and some coconut coated Ondeh Ondeh! The kuihs were so vibrant in color and sweet in flavors. A nice sweet ending to our meal!

We also celebrated the lovely Emily Lim’s belated birthday on that day! She was so pretty dressed in Nyonya kebaya and heels.

BBO made her a gorgeous fashonista cake in the form of an LV hangbag! Uber cute and pretty…. J

Here’s a picture of Emily with her LV cake!

Malacca Nyonya cuisine does have a slight difference compared to my northern heritage. Despite the slight difference, the authenticity and flavors were just as amazing. Food here is fresh and flavorful with loads of spice and aroma to entice me for a return. I already spied the Ikan Masak Kuah Lada and Itik Tim for my next order!

Great food with a gorgeous ambience, The Tranquerah is already visited by lots of other foodies who seek true Malacca Nyonya cuisine. With Auntie Florence’s recipe, one can definitely look forward to sumptuous southern Nyonya cuisine.

The Tranquerah
62A-G, Red Carpet Avenue
Encorp Strand, Jalan PJU5/22
Kota Damansara, 47810, Petaling Jaya
Tel: 603 – 6142 4106

*Psst… Alan hangs out at The Tranquerah quite often so if you like a glimpse of the charming man himself, do bring your camera!

October 26, 2011

The Patio Bar & Lounge, First World Plaza@ Genting Highland: Loving Oktoberfest 2011!

Zicke-Zacke-Zicke-Zacke Hoy, Hoy, Hoy!

October is the month of the infamous Oktoberfest Festival, celebrated worldwide by folks glugging down loads of beer, bratwursts, pork knuckles and entertained by traditional German Oom-pah Band with adorable Bavarian ambassadors!

Actually, Oktoberfest is wedding celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Over the years… somehow after one beer to another, the festival is now highly popular where friends and families gather to enjoy some of the best beers brewed by worldwide breweries! J

Guinness Anchor Berhad (GAB), the leading beer and stout company in Malaysia, returned in its fourth year running of the annual Oktoberfest festival in Malaysia, with a bigger selection of iconic beers which include one of the official Munich Oktoberfest beers, Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier, as well as plenty of fun-filled and exciting parties, special promotions and events throughout the month of October.

My family and I were present at Genting Highland one weekend and joined the celebration at The Patio Bar & Lounge, First World Plaza. And what a night it is! Check out the awesome night filled with lots of music and laughter, beers and sausages, games and prizes… J

Beer lovers attending the GAB Oktoberfest party at Patio Bar & Lounge, Genting Highlands were treated to not just one, but two nights of fun-packed activities, an array of delectable German-infused food and a vast selection of beers such as the award-winning Tiger, Guinness, Heineken, Anchor, Kilkenny, Strongbow and Paulaner.

From left to right: Hopf Ice Wheat Beer, 111 Zwickl Beer & Paulaner Oktoberfest Beer.

We even had the three special beers brought in by GAB especially for Oktoberfest! My favorite of the three was the Hopf Ice Wheat Beer that uses ice conditioned wheat where excess water from the wheat is extracted through freezing, giving more depth to the flavour and body. Truly unique, crisp and clean aftertaste, it is easy to drink and refreshing! 111 Zwickl Beer, an unfiltered beer, possesses sparkling full-bodied and full-flavoured characteristics, and has a mild yeasty flavour. Last but not least, Paulaner Oktoberfest Beer has a rich malty aroma and a smooth full bodied flavour.

Our food for the night was fabulous! Absolutely in love with the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and Sausages… chomp, chomp, chomp!

What’s an Oktoberfest without these pretty Bavarian ambassadors dressed in Dirndl costumes?

Our Oom-pah Band by ‘Die Dorf Fest Kapelle' showing off their masterpieces!

That night was fabulous!

Besides the traditional Oom-pah Band performance, other traditional German games such as the Chicken Dance, yodeling, and “Masskrugstemmen” – the beer stein holding competition, kept the crowd highly entertained throughout the night. Patrons were seen enjoying themselves while toasting loudly to the traditional Oktoberfest cheer Eins, zwei, drei, g'suffa; Zicke-Zacke-Zicke-Zacke Hoy, Hoy, Hoy!”

Here comes a favourite part of the night… Sausage Eating Competition!! The women took a gentler route but the men devised techniques for the win by breaking the long sausages into few short ones for faster consumption… Can you guess who won the women and men category individually? J

“With our diverse portfolio of award winning beers, we are in the best position to offer our consumers a bigger Oktoberfest Festival this year,” Ms Yap Swee Leng, Marketing Director of GAB said. “GAB strongly believes in providing value added drinking experiences to our consumers through multiple engagement platforms such as Oktoberfest, St. Patrick’s Day and Arthur’s Day and we are proud that these three international events have now become permanent fixtures in Malaysia’s event calendar,” she added.

Huge thanks to GAB for bringing in a festival of fun-filled laughters, beers and food, new friendships and even a little romance!! J

Folks… sing and drink merrily but make sure to plan ahead for your trip home! GAB promotes sensible drinking!!

For more information on GAB Oktoberfest celebration parties and promotions, kindly visit our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/OktoberfestMY.

*Thanks to Sharon, Sid and Patio for the glorious night!!

October 24, 2011

Restaurant Mei Six Hin, Prima Sri Gombak: I Am Back for Poon Choi!

Our foodie gang gathered one lovely Sunday to celebrate our passion for Poon Choi at one of our favorite foodie hunt, Restaurant Mei Six Hin at Prima Sri Gombak. Mei Sin Hin is helmed by our favorite Chef Steven Cheng and his wife, Winnie, serving sumptuous Chinese cuisine with a creative flair!

Restaurant Mei Six Hin features a minimal décor ambience but I love some of the little extra touch of the bling that was displayed in the restaurant. Read about my previous visit here.

This time around, Sidney, our fearless foodie, bestowed two bottles of authentic aged Chinese wine for our lovely meal. Fairly new to the Chinese wine, we were all excited to dive back into our roots for a taste of our Chinese heritage.

While waiting for the pot of treasures, we checked out the first Chinese wine, ‘Kuei Hua Chen Chiew’ by Hong Wan Shou, a product of Zhejiang, China containing 14% alchohol.

The wine had a medium amber color and smells really fragrant from the combination of flowers in bud and grapes used to brew the wine. Flavor wise, the wine is mellow, sweet and quite smooth to the mouth. I would say that this is more for ladies as it has a sweet and delicate tone to the overall taste. This wine has a shelf life of 2 years only.

Our delectable pot of the house special Poon Choi arrived in a huge claypot sitting on top of a portable stove. The anticipation of feasting this with great friends on a lovely weekend was priceless! J

As soon as the lid was lifted, everyone went… Wahhhh! The house Poon Choi (RM268 – 10 people) was an impressive sight of precious meat and seafood neatly cuddled by a ring of emerald green broccolis! My sense of smell kicked in and I could smell the aroma of luxurious braised sauce interplay with roasted meats and the essence of seafood. I salivate immediately but as usual, we let our passion kicked in for photography before we dive into this treasure pot!

Let’s do a quick check on what treasure we found in the Poon Choi!

Crispy thick pieces of Roast Pork… this was gone in a blink of an eye! J

Dark caramelized Roast Duck, juicy and tender, was full of flavors with a hint of herbs in its marinade.

Steamed Chicken was flavored with a nice balance of salt and light Chinese wine.

Scallop pieces cooked in a savory and slightly sweet sauce was delicate and delicious. Give me scallop anytime and I am a happy camper!

A row of Sweet and Spicy Prawns made some of our foodie friends really happy! The sweet and savory sauce with a hint of chili was delicious and we thoroughly enjoy sucking every bit of the juices from the prawn shells.

Sea Cucumber was braised till tender in the lovely braising sauce. There were also lots of other goodies beneath the Poon Choi such as fish maw, dried oysters, pork trotters and mushrooms. The sauce from beneath the Poon Choi was so flavorful from all the essence of the meat and seafood and I happily doused my rice with it. The braised pork trotter was simply finger-licking good till I forgot to take a picture of it! J

Abalone slices was decent since we only opted for the regular Poon Choi.

For the luxurious version of the real McCoy abalone, check out the Special Poon Choi priced at RM250 (small) and RM500 (large). Our Poon Choi is certainly plenty for 10 people and we had leftover to take home since we had to save our stomach for other additional dishes.

Bottom’s up from everyone… Yum Seng!!

We switched to our second Chinese wine, an Aged Shao Xing Rice Wine that has a history of over 2400 years old from China! This is one of the oldest Chinese wines according to the label and has won as many as six international awards. The wine is traditionally process using white glutinous rice, quality oats and natural water, therefore has some sediments to the end of the bottle.

With 16.5% alchohol content, the wine has a clear deep yellow with a smooth and aromatic finish. Fragrant and fairly bodied, the wine is said to encourage blood circulation, encourage appetite and rejuvenate the body as its health benefits. Unlike some wines, this one also only has an 18 months shelf life… so make sure to enjoy it once it’s purchased!

Besides the treasure pot, we also indulged in a very heavenly plate of Pork Ribs with Italian Sauce (RM 18/30/45). The pork pieces were tender-li-cious and coated with a sweet and savory sauce perfumed with Italian herbs. The dish is a truly must with rice for me as it is comfort food at its best.

Garoupa Rolls in Supreme Broth (RM18/30) was sliced garoupa wrapped with snow peas, steamed and dressed with a golden supreme sauce. Gentle flavors shone in this dish with the fresh sweet slices of the fish. The dish is suitable for kids and elderly who prefer healthy and delicate food.

I had the Stir Fried Asparagus with Lily Bulb, Pine Nuts and Macadamia (RM12/18/25) before and this round was just as good as the previous. Full of refreshing textures and the nuts provide a good aroma and flavoring to the vegetables.

We also sampled Chef Steven’s special concoction of Lotus Leaf Steamed Chicken and Ham (RM18) which he uses lotus leaf to wrapped marinated chicken, mushroom and bits of ham before steaming it.

The dish was reminisce of the paper wrapped chicken but had a better aroma and flavor from the lotus leaf and bits of ham. Juicy and moist, the chicken was quite delightful as a snack!

By now, we were all stuffed but when the aromatic Shanghai Style Dried Chili Chicken (RM 15/20/30) arrived, we all happily chomped on this with delight. Bite size chicken pieces was so fragrant from its marinade and crispy on the outside but moist on the inside. The dish had a very delicious wok scent coupled with the dried chili and onions which lends the addictive aroma to the overall. A Must order from Mei Six Hin!!

Our final dish was a signature dish from Chef Steven in the form of Salt-Baked Tilapia Fish (RM25 & above). The dish was named ‘Suet San Fei Wu’ after a famous legend as the fish was covered purely in salt and baked resembling a white snow mountain. My friends had savored this before and insisted that we have to try this dish.

Chef Steven was kind enough to show us how we eat this dish by removing the salt crust gently from the fish.

The flesh of the fish was so delicate and yet, it had a good flavoring of the salt among other hidden flavors in the fish. The hint of sweetness from the fish portrayed its freshness and we found the fish to be stuffed with a mixture of chili, ginger and garlic to enhance this further. Do order this in advance else there is a waiting time for this special dish as it requires gentle heat to slowly baked the fish!

Chef Steven has done it again with an array of scrumptious dishes and his mouth-watering Poon Choi. The flavors were nicely controlled and most of his dishes are enjoyable with rice on a daily basis. Price is decent considering the portion and quality served.

Looking for comfort food with a modern touch? Check out Mei Six Hin Restaurant for an enjoyable meal with Chef Steven’s appealing dishes!

Another truly Priceless day with great food and awesome friends!

Restaurant Mei Six Hin
NO.G-62, Jalan Prima SG 3/1,
Prima Sri Gombak,
68100 Selangor.
Tel No012-359 3109 (Steven) / 017-279 9927 (Winnie)

*Thanks to Chef Steven & Sidney for the awesome lunch!