Monday, December 29, 2014

Takio Ikayaki: Taiwanese Giant Squid Galore


Taiwan Street Snacks in Malaysia






Taiwan is famous for their street food snacks and I have seen many times in tv food shows that one of popular Taiwan street snacks happens to be the giant whole squid that is deep fried and also served in many other various flavours. And yet, I have not tasted one till recently.


A friend recommended that I try Takio Ikayaki at Berjaya Time Sqare recently. Takio Ikayaki is a popular franchaise that sells Taiwanese street snack focusing on the giant squid and stuffed fresh squid with Spanish seafood baked rice. Takio is highly popular all over Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai and Guangzhou while it only started in Malaysia in 2011. In fact, it is the only Taiwan chain in Malaysia selling this specialty Taiwan seafood street food.

Takio Ikayaki takes on the kiosk structure and has kiosk in Klang Valley, Penang and Perak currently. Since their speciality focus on Taiwan street food, most customers do take-away rather than dine-in. I visited one of their kiosks in Berjaya Times Square with my family one Sunday and enjoyed a quick snacking by their small dine-in counter beside the kiosk.


We checked out their menu and saw offerings of giant squids prepared few ways, BBQ shrimp and soft shell crab. The menu is small but sufficient in terms of street food snacks. Located at the 3rd floor in Tiny Taipei, Takio Ikayaki was pretty much bustling with business as many make quick stops for these gargantuan squids the Sunday morning that I was there.


There are basically five signature snack items at Takio with another two additional options of rice bowl and drinks. There are also some special sauces available to go with the seafood snacks. We quickly ordered some Ice Lemon Tea while we waited for our snacks.


There was a big tray of fresh squid that was being prepared by the staff and I just couldn’t help stare in awe. These are like the biggest squids I have ever seen.


Here’s another photo of their staff cutting up the giant squid after being cooked. Besides squid, there is shrimp and soft shell crab too.






Our first snack arrive, looking pretty delectable since I happen to like squid tentacles very much, more so than the squid body as I like the chewy texture of the tentacles. The Golden Squid Head is perfectly encrusted in a golden crispy batter. Light sprinklings of seasoning on the tentacles are the unique peppery flavours that most Taiwanese deep fried food is seasoned with. One gets a strong and robust peppery savory flavour when munching on these tentacles. This one is very enjoyable for the price of RM6.50 ala carte.


Next up, what I came for specifically, was the Deep Fried 25cm Squid. Not that I was measuring but the size of the giant squid is mind-boggling at sight. It’s bigger than my hand. There is a lot of crunchy and chewy textures so be prepare to get some jaw exercise. The flavours echo the tentacles. One can have these spicy or non-spicy. The body of the squid is pretty thick and has a good firm bite while the tentacles have more of a chewy note. It makes good snacking if you are a fan of squid and is priced at RM8.50 each a la carte or RM10.90 each set.


The next squid dish was Ikameshi, fresh squid stuffed with Spanish seafood baked rice, crumbed, deep fried and served with various sauces. We tried two sauces of Honey Mustard and Chili Tomato plus a plain Original one without any sauce.


These look like fat tornado or submarine at sight. It’s utterly cute and stuffed to the max. Out of the three, I like the Honey Mustard sauce as there is a nice balance of sweet and mustard notes that went well with the crispy squid and savory rice stuffing. The rice stuffing is a bit soft for my liking but it is nevertheless pretty much decent when savored together with the squid and sauce.



The Chili Tomato is average with a sweet and spicy note while the Original one without sauce was a tad dry. In my opinion, the Ikameshi taste better with sauces. These are RM8.90 a la carte or RM10.90 as a set.







BBQ Lazy Shrimp was coined that name because one can eat the whole shrimp without any peeling of its shells. These shrimps are not big in size and are nicely grilled with a sweet and sticky savory sauce.


I did enjoy the flavours of the smoky sauce on the shrimp. The shrimp itself is also nicely sweet and crunchy. One gets four for RM5.90 a la carte or RM7.90 each set.






The fifth snack is the Thai Style Soft Shell Crab, crumbed and deep fried with a drizzle of Thai chili sauce. A whole piece of soft shell crab goes for RM12.90 each and RM14.90 with set.







For a fuller note, there are two rice bowl options of Squid Head Value Bowl and Lazy Shrimp Value Bowl which has the squid tentacles or BBQ Lazy Shrimp on rice and served with a spicy soy sauce. These are RM6.50 a la carte or RM8.90 per set. The set option for all includes a drink available on that day.






Takio Ikayaki signatures make great snacking! The best part is you don’t have to travel all the way to Taiwan for a taste of the giant squid and stuffed squid, simply check out Takio Ikayaki at any of their outlets…



TAKIO IKAYAKI


Branches:
Klang Valley
One City Mall: B-1A(M)-11, 1A, Mezzanine Floor
Aeon One Utama: Ground Floor
Times Square: 3rd Floor TinyTaipei

Penang
Sunway Carnival Mall: LG-K8
Aeon Queensbay: Ground Floor
Aeon Bkt.Mertajam: Ground Floor

Perak
Aeon Taiping: Ground Floor



Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gangnam 88: Gangnam Style Korean Cuisine


Modern and Trendy Fusion Korean Food

I love Korean cuisine. The mere mentioned of Korean cuisine immediately gets my adrenalin going at the thoughts of sizzling barbeque meats on grill pans, spicy Kimchi, assorted banchans, hot Kimchi soup and seafood pancake! In fact, I confess that I eat Korean food a few times a month. In addition, my neighborhood is filled with loads of Korean restaurants. Most of them offer the usual Korean cuisine but they all do have their own specialties.






Gangnam 88 is one of the Korean restaurants I often patronized. While most Korean restaurants are more traditional, Gangnam 88 takes Korean cuisine into our modern world. Serving up Gangnam style dishes, Gangnam 88 also creates a modern design restaurant focusing on all the famous Korean pop stars in the entertainment world. Walking into Gangnam 88, one will be immediately attracted to stylish interior filled with lots of wood. Posters of K-Pop stars are placed all over while hanging tvs are playing Korean music videos. Its loud, its fun and best of all, the place sure smells pretty delicious!


Gangnam 88’s menu offers a good sizeable variety of Korean dishes to cater to everyone. Besides traditional BBQ dishes, Gangnam 88 also offers unique dishes that are a take on the modern cuisine of today’s times in Korea. A recent visit to Gangnam 88 at their second outlet in Sunway Giza Mall, I was happy to see that this outlet has a larger seating capacity and is also very spacious. The walls are all decked out in K-Pop stars with the most famous one Mr. PSY that literally took the word Gangnam to new heights.

We didn’t go our usual menu route that evening. Instead we opted for dishes we usually don’t order on the recommendation of the owner. Since I love Kimchi so much, we decided on a Kimchi stew and more kimchi dishes that are perfect for a rainy night.






I had Korean citrus Soda and my other half had Milkshake.


Our banchans arrived, served on colorful plates. Though the choices are not as many as others, these were decent. I got my favorite Kimchi and Seaweed. My little one loved the egg coated tofu, little pancakes and the sausage with crab stick banchan. These are refillable so ask for more but remember to save room for your main dishes.






Kimchi Pork Roll Soup (RM44.80+) was first to arrive. I really like that Koreans serve all their soups and stews piping hot or on the portable stove. This one resembles the kimchi ji gae which I love but has added ingredients like cabbage stuffed pork roll, sliced pork belly, mung bean noodles, king mushrooms, spring onions and chilies in addition to the usual kimchi and tofu.


We let the pot simmer till its boiling and then lower the heat to let it subside to a gentle simmer. The staff helped us cut the cabbage rolls into two for easier enjoyment.


This stew is so awesome in my books. Spicy, tangy and piquant, the lightly thick soup is very comforting and satisfying. I can feel the light burn of spiciness but that’s what a good kimchi soup is, just enough spicy heat to make one feel a little sweat. The cabbage pork roll is gorgeously tender and flavourful. The rest of the ingredients are a perfect combo as well, making it a complete dish on its own with meat, vegetables and noodle. I enjoyed this dish with rice a lot. There is something so comforting and homemade about this dish that I could go on eating them…


I have just found a new favorite dish to be added to my Korean favorite dishes! Super yum…






Next, we had Tofu Kimchi (RM39.80+) which we were recommended to savor with the Makgeoli (RM25.00+).


A mount of kimchi sautéed with pork is accompanied by long cuts of fresh tofu sprinkled with black sesame seeds. The kimchi pork has a robust and spicy note as well. The flavours are intense so the fresh tofu will ease down the spicy, sweet and savory flavours of the kimchi and pork. I had read somewhere that this is a famous Korean anju (drinking dish) hence that’s why we had our dish with the chilled Korean rice wine.


The rice wine is pretty potent (in my books) with a good hint of sweetness and light tang. I like that we were given small gold metal bowls to drink the Makgeoli… makes me feel so Korean for some reason… lol…






We had a non-spicy dish of Carbonara Chicken (RM39.80+) for my little one. This fusion dish was a take on the classic Italian dish but this one has chicken and onions cooked in the carbonara cream sauce. Served on a sizzling platter to keep the creamy dish warm, its not too bad. It is very creamy and there is a touch of sweetness to the overall flavours. I like the chicken and onion combination with the cream. My little enjoyed this since he likes creamy sauce dishes.


We also tried the Bap Burger (RM19.90), a seaweed rice burger stuffed with bits of meat and vegetables with a sweet and sour sauce. This one is yummy. Simple but I like the rice and seaweed together with all the rest of the ingredients.


I had to order the Korean Potato Noodle Soup (forgot the price tag for this dish) for my little one because he prefers noodles over rice. This dish came in cloudy and hearty chicken stock broth with lots of vegetables, egg and a soft noodle made from potato flour. It’s simple but I really enjoy the noodles as it is so slippery smooth and soft. My little one likes this a lot too.


Gangnam 88 strives to be different. The menu offers lots of fusion and trendy dishes like BBQ, Beer Can Chicken, Jeongol, Jokbal and other exciting dishes. It’s a fun place to eat and be seen, especially if you are a Korean fan like me!



GANGNAM 88

Sunway Giza Mall
No. 2, Jalan PJU 5/14, PJU5, Kota Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
 Tel: +603-61516488

Business Hour: 10.00am – 1.00am daily

Solaris Mont Kiara
No. 1-1, Jalan Solaris 3, Solaris Mont Kiara
Off Jalan Duta Kiara, Mont Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: +603-62065888

Business Hour:
Mon – Thu: 10.00am – 1.00am
Fri – Sun: 10.00am – 6.00pm & 10.00pm – 1.00am



Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Cooking with PHILIPS and Chef Zam


Cooking with PHILIPS Airfryer and Pressure Cooker






T’was the week before Christmas and when I had received an invitation to attend a Christmas Cooking workshop by PHILIPS, it was like receiving an early Christmas present that had me jumping with joy! I have always loved to cook besides just eating. Cooking always relaxes me. My after fruits of labor, when savored by others, always never fail to give me much satisfaction. To be able to put food on the table to me is a blessing in many ways. However, having a full-time job, a blogger cum writer and a little one to take care, time is never my best friend. And so cooking becomes less as sometimes it can be a long process, of course depending on what you cook.


I have been a loyal follower of PHILIPS for a while. After joining two competitions by PHILIPS and other product, I am very pleased with PHILIPS cooking gadgets and have found that they are of great help when it comes to whipping up a meal for my family. They certainly make cooking so much easier, faster and healthier too. Having also been to their previous workshop here, I was already as excited as I can be for another sharing cooking workshop, this round themed ‘Christmas Cooking with PHILIPS and Chef Zam’.


I have met Chef Zam on several occasions and he was also one of the judges in the last PHILIPS competition I joined a few months ago. A charismatic chef, Chef Zam is likeable and funny. Minutes into the workshop held at Silverspoon International College and every one of us were already at ease and joking with him like we have known him for ages. The focus of the workshop was recipes sharing session using PHILIPS Airfryer and PHILIPS Electric Pressure Cooker in preparing several easy and fast recipes for the festive holiday seasons.

The workshop took off with Chef Zam briefing us our recipes for the day and also going through the ingredients and overall process. We were set to whip up Ayam Percik, Chicken Risotto, Cretan Kaltsounia and Banana Nutella Spring Roll using both PHILIPS Airfryer and PHILIPS Electric Pressure Cooker. Chef Zam then proceeds to give us his cooking demo before we all had our own hands on for the recipes.


Cooking for Chef Zam is fun, in fact he makes it fun and easy. Of course the PHILIPS electrical cooking appliance is the main reason why cooking can be fun and easy as well. Here are the recipes and notes that I have taken down for all four recipes that are just so simple to make for the festive holiday seasons. I paired up with Kylie Wenn and her little prince on our hands on session. It was great meeting her and others…






AYAM PERCIK

Who says one can’t have a Christmas meal with a Malaysian authentic and classic dish of Ayam Percik? It makes a great change instead of turkey, especially for those who do not have a large party. Plus, one can always tweak the recipe to a Western inspired chicken once you grab the basics of using the PHILIPS Airfryer.


Ayam Percik varies in color and flavour depending on the origins of the country. We were told by Chef Zam that the Kelantan version has a whitish hue as it does not have chilies in the spices while the Terengganu version has the bright orange red hue due to the addition of chilies. We are making the Terengganu version in the workshop.


Our Ayam Percik is so juicy and flavourful. I never thought I can airfry a whole chicken in 30 minutes but I can now with PHILIPS Airfryer. This is also healthier as I barely used any oil in the marinade.


Ayam Percik Recipe

Ingredients:
For sauce (Ingredients A):
9 cloves of red shallot               }
1 clove of white garlic               } blended
½ inch ginger                           }
2 tbsp chili pepper
2 cups of thick santan                                                                                                 
¼ tbsp of fenugreek (halba)
3 lemongrass (serai) stalks       } crushed
Shrimp paste (Belacan)
Salt and sugar for taste
½ cup of water
Cooking oil for sauté

Marinating the Chicken (Ingredients B):
1 whole chicken (under 1kg to be able to fit into the airfryer)
4 cloves of red onions               }
1 clove of white onion               }
1 inch ginger                            } blended
1 lemongrass (serai) stalk        }
½ tbsp coriander powder
½ tbsp cumin powder


Instructions:
1.   Heat up PHILIPS Air Fryer with the Double-Layer Tray.
2.   Mix and marinate chicken with ingredients B for 20 minutes in the fridge.
3.   Then, using Philips Air Fryer, bake chicken for 25 minutes at 180°C. (timing depends on the size of the chicken so reduce or increase accordingly)
4.   For the sauce, sauté blended ingredients with shrimp paste and chilli pepper until there is a fragrant smell. Stir evenly before adding water.
5.   Add in santan and fenugreek, while stirring evenly.
6.   Add in lemongrass.
7.   Add salt and sugar for taste.
8.   Sauté sauce for 20 – 30 minutes over low heat until thick and color has deepened into a rich orange hue.
9.   Once done, pour sauce over baked chicken and bake for another 10 minutes, and it’s ready to serve.
10. Leftover Percik sauce can also be served poured over the finished chicken or served on the side.

*Tips:
·   Do not marinade the chicken more than 30 minutes as it will breakdown the enzymes of the protein and make the chicken too soft.
·   For every ½ kg chicken, allow 20 to 25 minutes for cooking time.
·   For another version of the sauce, pour in the blended spices together with santan and a little water and heat up on slow heat till the sauce thickens and the oil surface. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and seasoned well.
·   We actually ladled the Percik sauce over the chicken, baked it for 10 minutes and repeat this process one more time for added richness.






CHICKEN RISOTTO

We love our rice, or at least I do, and so when I saw that the next recipe was going to be Chicken Risotto cooked in PHILIPS Pressure Cooker, it sure sounds easy since I know we can just put in all the ingredients and let the pressure cooker work its magic.


Though it doesn’t resemble a risotto fully, the rice is decently delicious. There should be a bit more liquid just like a risotto. The overall flavours have a comfort note and the dish is hearty and filled with protein, carb and nutrients from all the ingredients. It’s an easy one pot wonder dish that can be ready on the table in less than 30 minutes with all the prep and cooking time.


Chicken Risotto Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups Arborio rice
2 chicken thigh pieces (diced or sliced into pieces)
1.1 liter vegetable or chicken stock (else use 1 cube chicken stock & water)
2 tbsp olive oil
80g unsalted butter
2 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cloves garlic (finely crushed)
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
700g Swiss brown mushrooms (sliced)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ tbsp. cumin powder
Salt and Pepper to season
Basil leaves for garnishing

Instrustions:
1.   Using PHILIPS pressure cooker, heat up olive oil and 1/3 of the butter.
2.   Add chopped garlic and cook for 20 seconds.
3.   Combine chopped onions and cumin powder and allow to cook for a minute till soft.
4.   Add in the chicken to brown it, then add in mushrooms, followed by rice and stir well.
5.   Add in vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
6.   Close pressure cooker lid, bring it to pressure and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes.
7.   Remove from heat and release the pressure.
8.   Stir in basil leaves and baby spinach and cover back the lid to let the greens wilt for a few minutes. The heat from the rice should cook the greens.
9.   Stir in remaining butter and parmesan cheese and serve.






CRETAN KALTSOUNIA AND BANANA NUTELLA SPRING ROLL

Desserts are always a favorite during festive seasons. The following desserts are super easy to make and uses PHILIPS Airfryer for a healthier and faster touch. These are sure crowd-pleasers because when we all tasted them fresh off the airfryer, these were super addictive and gone within minutes.


The first dessert is Cretan Kaltsounia, a baked ricotta tart from Crete, Greece. Chef Zam uses filo pastry instead of tart shells for the dessert. There are also various fillings available but the more classic one uses ricotta cheese. The second dessert is Banana Nutella Spring Roll, another great dessert using only four ingredients. Banana and chocolate combo always works like a charm.


Cretan Kaltsounia Recipe

Ingredients:
For Pastry Wrap:
10 sheets of filo pastry (cut into a width of 2 to 3 inches)
200g melted butter

For Filling
500g Ricotta cheese or Mizithra cheese
2 eggs
Drizzle of honey

For Topping
1 cup coarse sugar
½ cup of water
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp of toasted sesame

Instructions:
1.   Boiled sugar and cinnamon stick in water until reduced to a thick consistency. Set aside to chill.
2.   To make the filling, mix cheese and egg with honey until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
3.   Brush each filo pastry sheets with melted butter generously and layer it with another filo pastry on top. Repeat this process till you get at least 3 to 4 layers of filo pastry all neatly brushed and covered with melted butter.
4.   Place one table spoon of filling on each cut pieces of layered filo pastry and fold into a triangle.
5.   Repeat the process to used up all the filo pastry and filling.
6.   At this point, one can freeze up the pastry till it is needed or simply airfry it.
7.   Heat up PHILIPS Airfryer at 180 degree celsuis for 5 minutes and airfry the kaltshounia for 8 minutes or until golden brown.
8.   Sprinkle sesame and drizzle with topping of sugar syrup before serving.


Banana Nutella Spring Roll Recipe

Ingredients:
1 package frozen filo pastry (cut into small square pieces)
6 small banana (preferably pisang emas, peeled and sliced into half length)
1 cup Nutella
1 cup peanut butter
¼ cup melted butter
Vanilla ice cream (optional for serving)

Instructions:
1.   Spread 1 layer of filo pastry on a damp towel and brush with melted butter.
2.   Put another layer of filo pastry on top of the first layer and repeat the process until 5 to 6 layers.
3.   Place one peeled and sliced banana on it and top with 1 teaspoon each of Nutella and peanut butter.
4.   Fold the sides and roll it securely like a spring toll.
5.   Brush with more melted butter all over the roll and repeat the process until done.
6.   Preheat PHILIPS Airfryer at 180 degrees Celsius for 5 minutes.
7.   Arrange the rolls in the frying basket and airfry for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden brown and flaky.
8.   Remove the spring rolls and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.




It was certainly another fruitful and interesting cooking workshop by PHILIPS. Here are out fruits of labor together with other groups.







Group photo with Chef ZAM







Thanks to PHILIPS for the Christmas cooking workshop with Chef Zam! With PHILIPS Airfryer, I can now roast a chicken in half an hour and make Chicken Risotto in PHILIPS Pressure Cooker faster and easier.

For more information, check out the Philips Home Living at their Facebook: www.facebook.com/PhilipsHomeLiving.my & Website: www.philips.com.my



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