October 31, 2012

Yamagoya Ramen, SetiaWalk @Puchong: The 1st Original Kyushu Ramen in Malaysia

It’s a Big Ramen Player in Japan!

Serving Hakata-style ramen, Yamagoya Ramen has landed on our Malaysian shores! With a staggering 22 types of ramens in Japan, Hakata-style ramen is characterized by its thin ramen noodles served in a milky white thick broth named Tonkotsu. Hakata ramen is usually savor with condiments like pickled red ginger called benishoga, spicy pickled mustard greens called karashi takana and sesame seeds to differentiate itself from other types of ramen.

Proud to be the first to serve Kyushu ramen, Yamagoya Ramen now has two branches at Solaris Dutamas and SetiaWalk in Puchong. Our foodies congregated at the latest outlet SetiaWalk for a taste of Yamagoya’s Hakata-style ramen. Echoing its original outlet in Solaris Dutamas, Yamagoya Ramen is dressed up with signature red, black and dark wood. Ambience is comfortable for diners to enjoy some slurping sensation. There is even a private room in the restaurant.

The open kitchen allows some curious folks a peek at some ramen action while the long bar is filled with sake, syochu and condiments. I like how the warm yellow lighting echoed the dark street alleys of Japan where these ramen kiosks would hang out dishing out piping hot bowls of noodles to diners.

As mentioned, it’s not Hakata-style without its distinctive pickled red ginger, pickled mustard green and sesame seeds.

Since there were so many of us, we practically ate the whole menu of ramens and some sides!

If I have to rave at one particular side dish, Fried Chicken (RM11) was The One! It’s a very common dish but the chook was just Perfect… golden crisp with juicy tender meat, rendering a luscious salty note.  Using only dark meat, we could not get enough of this. It took four plates of chicken to satisfy our addiction and yet we craved for more…

The Fried Chicken didn’t need anything else… mayo or cabbage… reorder please!

Gyoza (RM11) was sufficiently good. Pan fried to crisp one side while nicely steamed on the other, the little potstickers were stuffed with moist minced meat filling. One of the better ones I had…

Then it’s on to the journey of paying homage to the ramen, Yamagoya Ramen.  As always, there will be a star, a signature, a masterpiece to show off. In this case, it happens to be Mukashi Special Ramen (RM24) where a little of everything goes on the house made noodles. You get the must-have pork Cha Siu, soy sauced egg, shredded black wood ear, braised bamboo shoot, seaweed, blanched bean sprouts and scallion. All these are nicely arranged and swimming in a bowl of cloudy rich broth boiled for hours to show the love of porky bones.

Ah yes… it is due to those hours of simmering loads of primarily pork bones to expel its rich bone marrow goodness into the much loved broth. A few sips leave a sticky sweetness on one’s lips. Well how about the ramen? House made on daily basis, the thin noodles are boiled quickly before being dunk into the broth to seep up the goodness. Sufficient again but to my preference of taste, I actually prefer a thicker noodle for more bite. In fact, it was the broth that stole the show here at Yamagoya Ramen.

Most of the other variation of ramen uses the same broth, much to my happiness. Carnivores would be please to go straight for the pure meat Char Siu Ramen (RM24). The pork Char Siu is on a thinner cut but is beautifully soft and melt-in-the-mouth upon a bite. Six pieces, all show downed in a circle for maximized pork effect. Need a little change? Yamagoya also serves order of side Pork Char Siu (RM11) or Char Siu Rice (RM11).

The Koreans are everywhere, even at Yamagoya Ramen. Making its presence is the ever famous Korean Kim Chi in Kim Chi Ramen (RM22). Pumping up the broth to a tangy and spicy affair, I adored this. The broth is just nicely balanced for a spicy fanatic foodie like me. In fact, I believed I hogged this bowl that night… oops… now the secret is out to who ate all the Kim Chi Ramen!

Miso Ramen (RM24) is dedicated to those who love the taste of miso. I thought it was a bit salty with the addition of the miso paste but flavor notes are comforting from its fermented bean paste.

Another hottie on the list, Spicy Tobanjan Ramen (RM22) is served with a side of dark fiery dollop of Tobanjan chili. Non-spicy foodies beware… the spicy chili really kicks up the spicy level. One can adjust accordingly since the chili is on the side. Me? I polished off this chili and asked for another one.

Classic Yamagoya Ramen (RM19) is served with Takana Pickles (RM3) as an add-on. The spicy pickled mustard provided another variation of flavors to the noodles. I added a little pickled red ginger and some crushed sesame seeds to this for extra taste. Nothing impressive as I simply prefer other ramens over this one.

If there is a ramen that fits the word Panache, it would have to be the reckless courage of flavors in Black Garlic Ramen (RM22). The broth is darkly colored from the roasted black garlic, ensuring that its robust garlic flavor is presence at first sip. I detected a smoky taste in the extra creamy and extra garlicy sensation in this one. This is the one that got the most attention and the most ravings from others that night. In fact, they fought over this till they forgot the Kimchi Ramen… J

I never had ramen fried so it is my virgin taste of Yaki Ramen (RM15). Simply stir-fried with lots of vegetables, the ramen is fairly on the sweeter note probably due to the cabbage. Good effort for the dish despite its simplicity.

If any of your diners are not into Ramen, fear not! They can order the Fried Rice (RM10).

Yamagoya Soy Sauced Egg (RM4) was executed to near precision that night. The soft silky egg yolk still has a bit of wobbling goodness. I hope they can maintain the consistency for this egg because it’s a crucial element in my ramen book. Yum!

A delightful dinner warmed the tummy with soothing rich broths. Yamagoya Ramen shined in the broth department with a well-balanced broth, rich enough to make me satiated while not overly salty. As with most ramens, you need to slurp up this bowl fast because once the broth gets cold, it can a bit oily in the mouth. Yamagoya Ramen also practices the ‘kaedama’ system where one can order extra servings of ramen at RM4 to add on to the broth. Other dishes in the menu are Pork Katsu (RM18), Katsu Curry (RM30) and Rice Ball (RM5) which will be available soon in this branch. Make sure to order the Fried Chicken and hog it to yourself!


SetiaWalk, Puchong
C-8-G, Block C, Setiawalk,
Persiaran Wawasan, Pusat Bandar Puchong,
47160 Puchong, Selangor.
Tel: +(6016) 291 7775 / +(6012) 306 7552

Publika, Solaris Dutamas
A2-G2-8, Solaris Dutamas,
No.1, Jalan Dutamas 1,
50480 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel/Fax: +(603) 6206 2220

October 30, 2012

Ah Lye Curry Fish Head Restaurant, SS19, Subang: Super Shiok Curry Found Here!

Always Stick To What You Do Best!

To be honest, restaurants or cafes should take the words ‘Less is More’ seriously!  When will some places learned that ‘More’ doesn’t always work?

Stick to what you know best and make sure to do them well is what Ah Lye Curry Fish Head does in the hidden housing neighborhood in SS19, Subang Jaya. Ah Lye was so well hidden and yet not really to many others until I was graciously invited by a lovely couple whom I met while dining out to this restaurant. Maria, the missus, is really sweet and said we need to try this restaurant for its infamous curry fish head, thus we assembled our bellies one fine evening in Subang Jaya!

Ah Lye Curry Fish Head has been around since 2000 and is open by Taiping-ians, occupying a shop lot in SS19’s housing area. Menu is very simple and minimal. Décor almost bare but clean and service is family-oriented with some helpers. Good news to diners that there is air-conditioned to ensure one doesn’t sweat it out while enjoying piping hot curries!

Upon arrival, the order was already locked in as we sat down to enjoy the company of Maria and her lovely family. I can see lots of tables occupied with families enjoying the dishes whole-heartedly. From the kitchen, I started to drool at the aroma of spices wafting through the whole restaurant. Dishes arrived promptly as soon as we told the wait staff to start the meal!

Serving home cooked dishes, the first to arrive was Beansprout with Salted Fish. Sufficiently executed with a good crunch of beansprouts and little crispy bits of salted fish to entice the aromatic ‘Kiam Hu’ fetish! Garlic, prawns and spring onion also made its presence. Ok-lah… I like this just because it reminded me of my mom’s version… J

The star of Ah Lye Curry Fish Head came bubbling in a claypot. The claypot seemed to be holding a vast amount of ingredients swimming ferociously in the curry. I could tell the curry is creamy at a glance. A good color of the curry signified a liberal amount of spices was used and the thickness of the curry is another good sign. Brimming with ladies’ fingers, eggplant, bean curd puff and pieces of fish head, the aroma is intoxicating in a very good way!

Ladling copious amounts of gravy onto my rice, I was well awarded with luscious, creamy, spicy and tangy flavors. Gelatinous skin of garoupa fish head is meant for fish head lovers while I simply prefer the meat of the fish. Despite the minimal fish meat, I was truly happy and satiated with the gravy and the vegetables alone. My other companions seemed to enjoy sucking the life out of the fish heads though. Heck, omit the fish head for all I care… lol… or maybe I should ask the owners if they would cooked up the curry with the body of the fish instead of the head?? J

What I like is the surprising hint of tangy flavor in the creamy curry. Again, I guess this led back to memories of my mother’s version so I concluded that memories are responsible for my preference of taste. If I wasn’t trying to be polite, I would indeed hog the whole pot of gravy to myself!

Another house signature and a dish which I practically see at almost every table is the Stuffed Bean Curd Sheet (‘Fu Chuk’) or at least that’s what I think it’s called since I didn’t see the menu. Decent with a stuffing of minced meat and other unidentified minced vegetables, it was nicely fired without being greasy. A little sweet and a little savory, this is sure to be a hit with the younger ones.

Unpretentious and simple, we also enjoyed Steamed Bean curd with Fried Shallots. Utterly basic ingredients and whipped up in an effortless cooking method, this was the only dish that didn’t really shout out to me that night. No complaints but nothing in the wow factor either.

Kang Kung Belachan is one of the most ordered and available dish almost everywhere in Malaysia. It’s a dish that is simple but really requires a good dosage of pungent spicy sambal belachan to give one a good kick of flavors! The dish is very well cooked at Ah Lye, rendering a good breath of wok with tender shoots of the water spinach is nicely sauced up. Spicy and robust, the flavors are moreish and addictive.

We hit the home run that meal with another signature of Ah Lye’s Asam Prawns! Good sizes with hard shells, the crustaceans were coated in the most delectable sour sweet tamarind sauce. Sticky goodness with loads of tangy sauce that makes me want to lick the prawns as clean as it can be, the sauce is what makes this dish its signature. I believed I also kept going back to the plate to scrape the sauce for my rice!

While other dishes fair mediocre, Ah Lye Curry Fish Head warrants a visit for its signature of Curry Fish Head and Asam Prawns alone! I heard that there is another signature Salt-Baked Chicken which they ran out that night. Despite the hidden location, word of mouth is enough to make this place extremely busy each day according to Maria. I would certainly come back for the Fish Head Curry and Asam Prawns as both dishes has etched a warm and delicious memory in my senses that night, not to mention the lovely company with Maria and her family! Go early and do call in advance since there is no fix day the restaurant is closed for business…

Thank you Maria and Family for your warm hospitality and the sumptuous meal!

No.28, SS19/1G
47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor
Tel: 603-56380468 / 603-56349692

Business Hour: 12pm-3pm (Lunch) & 5pm-10pm (Dinner)

GPS Coordinates: 3.0758887 101.5754559 (N03° 4.5533', E101° 34.5274')

October 29, 2012

Think Out of the Shell Cookbook Volume II Launch and The NutriPlus Pastry Competition

A New Cookbook & A Pastry Competition!

Think Out of the Shell Cookbook Volume II Launch

An obsession with cookbooks, I am always hungry for more. When Quay Po Cooks extended an invitation to the launch of Think Out of the Shell Cookbook Volume II Launch, I immediately agree with excitement. A big Thank You to Quay Po for the invite! I have already owned the Think Out of the Shell Volume I, so it’s without any doubt that I must have Volume II.

The cookbook is a collection of recipes with bakers from all over together in partnership with NutriPlus and published by My Nourishment Sdn. Bhd. Featuring 11 bakers and a hoard of their recipes, there is a little something of everything baked from the heart!

Arriving early, I managed to check out some of the goodies on display for sampling by the enthusiast bakers. From breads, to cakes, pastries and more, everything dessert and bread is a sight to behold.

Rainforest Bakery by brothers, Jesse & Jerry

Hagen’s Bake & Brew by Michael Lemke

Jenni’s Homemade Cakes & Bakery by Jenni Khoo

Biz Café by Clement Lim

Charco Restaurant & Grill by Alan Ooi

Thyme Bakery & Café by Chui Ping

pH Pastryhouse by Tan Joe Lee

Haute Food by Li Goh

Babycakes Sweet Shoppe by Nicole Goh

Ecole de Patisserie by Kenny Lim

The event kicked off with a speech from NutriPlus Management and followed by the launched of the Think Out of the Shell Volume II by NutriPlus Management, Jaya Jusco and the Bakers!

The NutriPlus Pastry Competition

A Think Out of the Shell Baking Challenge organized by NutriPlus for all home cooks and bakers enthusiast! The competition takes place five days from October 26th Saturday to October 31st Wednesday a Aeon One Utama. The mission of this challenge is to provide an opportunity to home bakers to showcase and share their passion with the public.

You may want to check out the live competition at Aeon One Utama concourse area at the scheduled dates to see the participants bake off among each other!

A few of the participants were present and they are Yee Ling, Shannon, Treedson, Fan, Kelly and Aris. Do check out the Think Out of the Shell Facebook for other participants. Good Luck to All of Them!

I caught up with two judges of the completion that day. Quay Po Cooks, aka Veronica Davis, is the author of Quay Po Cooks, who won hearts of everyone for her genuine love for her family, friends and her love of food! Her blog is a journey of joy and sharing, reflecting what the French like to call the "joie de vivre" (joy of living). Her wish is to inspire those who do not know how to cook or bake to do so. She has tested and tasted 300 over recipes of which, many were featured in the Asian Food Channel (Official) Facebook page.

Chef Niklesh Sharma of the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia was once the executive pastry chef of the Renaissance KL. An award-winning and highly experienced chef, he has a strong base in hotel development and pastry kitchen upgrades

For more information about the cookbook, this is for sale at major bookstores, and the Pastry Competition, check out the Facebook and Website!

*More pictures at my Facebook @ChasingFoodDreams