Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Recipe: Cream Cheese Dip with LINGHAM Chili Sauce



We’re almost at the end of 2017! Time to put on the thinking cap and prepare for the many celebrations of the festivals to come. Who doesn’t love parties? Besides loving the idea of parties, I love to be able to cook and also enjoy these festive parties with family and friends. In fact, it’s the perfect excuse to celebrate the season with good food and great company…

I was surfing the web for some ideas when I came across a very simple recipe using sweet chili sauce for a dip. Needless to say, the first thought that came to my mind was my all-time-favorite LINGHAM’s Chili Sauce. The ever versatile chili sauce is always available in my pantry. Now with the various flavours, it’s easy to use LINGHAM to whip up a dish as always.


Every party should have a dip! It’s one of the greatest appetizer that never fails to attract me when I am at a party. Usually served with a few textural ingredients to accompany the dip, it makes such an attractive as well as pretty platter every time on the table. Dips should be relatively easy to make and can be prepared in advance to save time for a party.

Since I enjoy cheeses of all sort, I decided to put a twist to this Cream Cheese Dip with LINGHAM Chili Garlic Sauce. Not only is this dip so easy to make, one can make this in advance and keep it chilled in the fridge till serving time. It barely took me 5 minutes to whip this up and serve it will some of my favorite chips, fruits and vegetables.


I used LINGHAM Chili Garlic Sauce this round because I like to add a bit of garlicky depth to my dip. Works out perfect as LINGHAM Chili Garlic Sauce has just the right balance of sweetness coupled with subtle garlic notes to give this dip a moreish note.

This is really one of the easiest recipe ever for a party and makes an impressive presentation. The creamy and luscious dip goes especially well with crisp green apple slices and toast. It has a savory and sweet flavour with light hint of heat and garlicky note. Even my little boy enjoyed this a lot despite the little heat and couldn’t help but to keep going back for more dip with nachos chips. I hope you enjoy this recipe, even if its not for a party…


CREAM CHEESE DIP WITH LINGHAM CHILI GARLIC SAUCE

Ingredients
250gm        Cream Cheese
¼ cup          LINGHAM Chili Garlic Sauce
2-3 stalks    Green Onions (chopped finely)
½                Lemon (squeeze juice)
1 Tbsp         Sour Cream (optional)
         
Serving Ingredients
Cracker or Toast
Nacho Chips
Apple
Cucumber
Cherry Tomatoes

Method
Leave the cream cheese to soften at room temperature.
Place cream cheese, sour cream, chopped spring onion and LINGHAM Chilli sauce in a bowl.
Add in lemon juice and mix well until combined.
Transfer to a bowl and serve chilled with the serving ingredients.


Extra Notes and Tips
  • Sour Cream is optional but I find it lightens up the heavy cream cheese
  • Substitute the spring onions with other fresh herbs like coriander, chives or even dill
  • Try different range of LINGHAM’s Chili Sauce – Original, Thai, Sriracha, Extra Hot
  • Serve with potato chips, vegetable chips, bell pepper, celery, broccoli, carrots and more







Saturday, November 11, 2017

An Viet @ Sunway Pyramid



New Vietnamese Street Food Menu


Food has always been consistently delicious at Ăn Viet! Being an ardent fan of Vietnamese cuisine and also having been on a foodie trip to Ho Chi Minh City, I always patronized Ăn Viet whenever I am in Mid Valley area since its first outlet opening. Now with two additional outlets in Sunway Pyramid and another one in Penang at Gurney Plaza, Vietnamese foodie fans can get their fix at different locations easily.


Ăn Viet not only serves authentic Vietnamese cuisine set with a touch of modernity of presentation but also serves as a platform to minimize global food wastage to encourage everyone to play a part in reducing food waste. Ăn Viet or ‘Eat Viet’ also contributes to a social cause by donating RM0.10 to Food Aid Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that collects and distributes food to those in need, when each diner finishes his or her entire meal.


The Vietnamese restaurant is owned by a passionate dynamic duo husband and   wife team, William and Caren, who takes their food very seriously thus going all out in making sure Ăn Viet is as authentic as can be and cooked with quality and fresh ingredients. Together with Hanoi Vietnamese Chef Nguyen Kim Tuyen, Ăn Viet’s menu is filled with lots of scrumptious classic street food from the streets of Vietnam.

We are back for a taste of their new menu, jazzed up with improved recipes as well as new additions of Vietnamese delights. At their Sunway Pyramid outlet, Ăn Viet has pots of basil placed on all tables, allowing diners to pluck and wash their own basil to be added to their hot bowls of noodles. A plus point again here since diners only consumed what they need and the rest of the basil is environmentally kept to avoid wastage since fresh herbs do not keep well once it is harvested.


Besides the must-have Cả Phệ Sữa - Vietnamese Drip Coffee with Condensed Milk (RM7.90 | RM8.90) or Cả Phệ Trững - Vietnamese Drip Coffee with Egg (RM9.90), one simply must try their Xả Gừng Nóng Đá – Lemongrass & Ginger Drink (Hot cup – RM7.90) and Nước Chanh & Chanh Xả Kem – Lime Juice with Lemongrass Lime Sorbet (RM10.90).


It is almost obligatory to start a Vietnamese meal with fresh or fried spring rolls. Ăn Viet version of Chả Giò – Deep Fried Spring Roll (RM7.90) is sufficiently satisfying, each mouthful crispy and moreish. Served in a cute steel basket and Ăn Viet’s house made nước chấm made from imported premium fish sauce, these rolls are sure crowd pleasers.


The Vietnamese gets really creative with their classic rice paper in their dishes. Rice paper are practically a staple ingredient everywhere in the country. We’re glad that Ăn Viet is introducing Bánh Tráng Trộn – Rice Paper Green Mango Salad (RM13.90) to our palates. Hardly seen in all the Vietnamese restaurants here, the dish deserves more credit with its burst of sweet, savory, spicy and sour flavours. Not only is the rice paper salad delicious, it is colorful as well full of textures.


We also like the concept of having to pour in as much dressing as we like and give the whole bottle a good dose of shake to mix it all up. Pour the salad into the bowl provided for easy consumption. The rice paper softens a little from the dressing to blend in together with all the other ingredients. Quail eggs are so yummy in this salad.


The more familiar Chạo Tôm – Grilled Sugarcane Prawn (RM11.90) appeared with a side of nước chấm. Batons of sugarcane wrapped with minced prawn paste makes divine bites of appetizers with its soft crustacean sweetness.


One of my most memorable street food in HCMC was a very moreish and simple grilled rice paper snack. Ăn Viet’s Bánh Tráng Nướng – Grilled Rice Paper with Minced Pork (RM9.90) really reminded me of how delicious this street snack was. Crispy grilled rice paper pancake filled with juicy moreish bits of minced pork is a must-order!


We like how Ăn Viet takes their customer feedbacks and improved their version of Phở Bò Đặc Biệt – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Special (Ala carte – RM23.90 | Set meal – RM27.90). A glorious bowl of deep golden beefy broth, aromatically spiced up and filled with slices of beef, beef brisket, shank, tripe, tendon and beef balls as well as rice noodles.


A side of crunchy beansprouts, a bowl of yu tiao lime wedge, chili sauce and a bowl of water to wash your freshly picked basil leaves, one can jazz up their own bowl of pho to their liking. The broth is beautiful in flavours. Just the right balance of beefy goodness with subtle hints of spice, I happily slurped my bowl of pho with much satisfaction.


If beef is not to your preference, the Bún Sườn – Vietnamese Vermicelli Soup with Pork Rib & Bamboo Shoot (Ala carte – 19.90 | Set meal – 23.90) is just as delicious if not better. There is soft nuances of sweetness in the meaty broth along with tender pork ribs and crispy bamboo shoots along with thin rice noodles that made this bowl so satisfying.


There’s also a dry noodle of Bún Gà – Grilled Lemongrass Chicken with Vermicelli (Ala carte – RM16.90 | Set meal – RM20.90). Soft thin rice noodles are crowned with smoky chargrilled chicken marinated with lots of lemongrass, lettuce, fried shallots, crushed peanuts and a side of classic fish sauce dressing. Expect lots of umami flavours with lots of textures in this noodle. It’s practically a staple in the streets of Vietnam with each one having their own version.


If there is one unique dish to try at Ăn Viet, its Chả Cá Lã Vọng – Hanoian Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill (Ala carte – RM23.90 | Set meal – RM27.90)! This Hanoian style fish is beautifully tinted with fresh turmeric and scented with lots of fresh dill. Heated on a portable stove, the fish is usually enjoyed with fresh rice noodles and fish sauce dressing as well.


Enjoy the fish on a small helping of rice noodles along with some fish sauce dressing and fresh herbs for the full flavour experience. The fish is nicely firm and tender with piquant hints and sweet notes from onions. The aniseed aroma of the dill really brought out freshness in the dish which I enjoyed very much.


If you still have not tried another Vietnamese classic dish of pork cooked in coconut juice, you should. Ăn Viet’s Lợn kho Nước Dừa  – Braised Pork Belly in Coconut Juice (Ala carte – RM17.90 | With rice – RM19.90 |Set meal – RM23.90) epitomized the wondrous pairing of pork belly with coconut juice. Leaning towards the natural sweetness of coconut, the melt-in-the-mouth pork belly has just the right amount of sublime savory notes that goes so well with steamed rice. One also gets a braised egg thrown in for extra pleasure.


Bánh Mì– Dậu Phụ Với Pate Nằm (Chay) – Vietnamese Baguette with Tofu Patty & Mushroom Pate (RM14.90) proves that some vegetarian dish is so good, one won’t even miss the meat. Very tasty with a delicate earthy mushroom note, the crispy baguette also has lots of crunch factor from fresh veggies that made this sandwich a delicious one.


End your meal at Ăn Viet with their housemade Caramel Pudding (RM6.90). If there is one word to sum up this dessert, it would be divine! Rich and luscious soft egg custard with glorious caramel is so good, sharing is not recommended!

Ăn Viet has really brought more Vietnamese dishes to our shores. All dishes are made from scratch and dishes here are always consistently good. The set meals are value-for-money, especially if you’re a big eater opting for more variety in your meal. Now if only Ăn Viet opens nearer to my house, I would be enjoying more yummy Vietnamese dishes daily.



ĂN VIET @ SUNWAY PYRAMID
LG2 127A, Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall,
No. 3, Jalan PJS 11/15,
Bandar Sunway,
47500 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +603 5611 2226

ĂN VIET @ THE GARDENS MALL, MID VALLEY
LG-203B, The Gardens Mall
Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City,
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2201 1191

ĂN VIET @ GURNEY PLAZA, PENANG
B1-32S, Gurney Plaza,
170, Persiaran Gurney,
10250 Penang
Tel: +604 293 3481


Business Hours:
Mondays – Fridays 11am – 10pm (last order at 9.45pm)
Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays 10am – 10pm (last order at 9.45pm)


Friday, November 3, 2017

Chapters Urban Bistro @ Empire Damansara



Bistro with a Soul!



Foodies will be pleased to hang out at Chapters Urban Bistro for eclectic grub and drinks! Located in Empire Damansara, Chapters Urban Bistro has been operating for the last 8 months, serving up an array of comfort food made even better by their cocktail master.



We adored the bistro the moment we walked in! The smart casual ambiance, flanked by a large mural of a sultry gal as well as humour-ology food words on the chalkboard wall oozed with charm. Diners can also opt to dine al fresco at both front and back of the bistro.



The outdoor bar and dining area has a rustic industrial mode for much needed casual relaxation. Head on to the next level of the bistro for a game of pool or simply some private functions your company. Chapters Urban Bistro seemed to have covered it all with their plan.



The kitchen is helmed by Chef Vicneswara Thenamirtham, who when asked what he likes to eat, replied with anything that relates to comfort food. Hence the menu at Chapters is a posh mix of cuisines from all over the world, inserted with a few local dishes as well.

But before we began any meal, we were told that their cocktail master has prepared new signature cocktails at Chapters. Our giggle juice were definitely crowd pleasers with one strong enough to knock some socks off!


Clockwise from top left: Cub Royale Mocktail (RM12), Lychee Martini (RM28), Emperor Sirk (RM34) & Jazz Jager (RM28)

Take on the Emperor Sirk, a bold concoction of gin, Kahlua and Campari finished with an orange twist that is strong enough to make your day end a lot happier. For ladies, the Lychee Martini and Jazz Jager are sure hits with their fruity sweetness.



Tuck into these glorious Posh Bass Sliders (RM24) with cocktails or beer. Local crispy sea bass seasoned with generous spices, slapped between mini buttery brioche buns, greens and basil pine nut aioli summed up this starter. While this sliders looked ordinary, the flavours are amazingly awesome. The spices really elevated the sliders deliciously.


The Moroccan Lamb Meatballs (RM26), made from scratch, were moist, plump with robust flavours and satisfyingly comfort food at its best. Served with a dollop of yoghurt and two thick toasted slices of sourdough bread, this is irresistibly yummy! The spices elevated the whole dish of meatballs and chunky tomato sauce beautifully.


For salad fix, opt for the Marinated Mango & Avocado (RM18) that is not only colorful and pretty at sight but taste fruity and creamy. Sweet mango flesh, luscious avocado, toasty almond flakes on a bed of crisp greens and finished with honey lemon vinaigrette, the salad is light with a healthy goodness.


Chef Vic takes on a healthy twist for his Grilled Fish & Chunk Chips (RM34) in honor of the classic fish and chips. By now, we are in agreement that he masters the balances of spices very well. Using a blend of Spanish smoked paprika, cumin,, dried mustard and fresh herbs to spiced up the fish before finishing it on the grill, the fish is cooked beautifully. It may looked a tad on the dark side but rest assured, the fish was not burnt but rather smoky and sumptuous. Along with seasoned steak chips and garlic aioli, this twist is a sure crowd pleaser.


The Charbroiled Leg of Lamb (RM52) epitomized a Sunday meat roast with vegetables except this one is jazzed up with brown butter, rosemary ad some spices. Served with charred brussel sprouts and crispy crushed potatoes as well as some carrots, the dish makes a well-balanced meal.


Another fish dish drool worthy of an order is the Spiced Grilled Salmon & Pesto Conchiglie (RM36). Pan seared salmon topped with mango salsa on a bed of nutty and aromatic pesto pasta shells was a match made in heaven. Another comfort dish that warrants a reorder to cure any blues away…


Hot from their stone oven, the thin crusty Salmon & Alfredo Pizza (RM28) was decent and nicely topped with flaked cherry wood smoked salmon, capers, red onions and wild arugula on warm homemade alfredo sauce.


There was only two local dishes on the menu and we cannot help but to order the Mutton Tossed Basmati (RM28). It was probably the Malaysian soul in us that had us enjoying the robust flavours of tender mutton braised and cooked with basmathi rice, spices, curry leaves and more. Finished with cashew nuts, dried raisins, fresh coriander, cucumber raita and crispy pappadums, the dish is profoundly satisfying.


We like the fact that the Mamak Mee Goreng (RM26) came with large prawns and squid to justify its price. Chapter’s homemade secret mee mamak sauce infused the noodles well. A generous squeeze of lime worked its magic in boosting this noodle nicely with a hit of tang.


While the bistro don’t have much dessert choices on their menu, we were pleased with their housemade Salted Caramel Cheesecake (RM18). Familiar flavours of sweetness and lusciousness are elevated by the light addition of salt for a touch of sublime notes.

Reasons to visit Chapters Urban Bistro? Pub grub soul food with awesome drinks and a cool ambiance…



CHAPTERS URBAN BISTRO
G13, Empire Damansara,
Jalan PJU 8/8A,
Damansara Perdana,
47820 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: +60 3-7732 9484


Business Hours:
Daily 8am to 12am


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Silka Johor Bahru


Great Value Hotel in JB!

We are constantly looking for an adventure… and there is no better place to look for one than our very own country! When several foodie friends suggested a makan trip over a weekend down south, it was an easy and unanimous decision right from the start.


Our 3D2N foodie excursion had us staying at Silka Johor Bahru with the gang. The hotel’s location was a good start in our plan. The value international chain 3 star hotel in Johor Bahru has 252 well-appointed rooms that features various rooms to cater to families, business travelers as well as value-conscious travelers like us.

Silka Johor Bahru is located near Jusco Tebrau City and is less than 20 minutes from Johor Bahru city centre and Woodlands (Singapore border). It is also only 35 minutes away from LEGOLAND® Malaysia theme park as well as Johor Premium Outlets (JPO), making it the perfect value hotel for shopping and entertainment for everyone.


We arrived Friday early evening and checked in quickly without any hassle. The lobby was decent and spacious despite it being small. At sight, one can see pretty much what the hotel has to offer. The hotel’s dining scene is also visible at the lobby and there is even a snack bar that offers something light and easy for hungry diners.



By the lift, there are several vending machines, great for hungry midnight snacking!


We checked into our Silka Suite Friday evening and was pretty satisfied at first sight. For a 3 star hotel, we certainly like what we saw in terms of spaciousness and cleanliness. The suite is has a separate bedroom and living room with two bathrooms. Our bedroom has a king size bed while the living room has a sofa bed.



While it’s nothing fancy or the latest design, the room offers simplicity and comfort. Everything is spick and span. There’s a vanity cum desk area as well as a low cabinet for luggage. Spaciousness really elevated the comfort element in this suite.


The room also includes a full length mirror, an open wardrobe with ironing board, hair dryer, bedroom slippers and laundry services.




The bathroom is equipped with rain shower head as well as the usual bathroom amenities. The fact that this has two bathrooms means we can have our own privacy too.



The living room is also simple and decent. It does have a bit of retro feel but we really didn’t mind because it was clean and bright, making it easy on the eye. One gets the usual complimentary fruit basket as well as some sweets too.



Besides our room, we also got a sneak peek at some of the other types of rooms available at Silka Johor Bahru. Basically the rooms are all designed in the same theme throughout the hotel. The only difference is the space and bed requirements to cater to different needs for the rooms.


 


Family Suite has one king bed and two single beds in two rooms, perfect for family stay while offering privacy as well.



Superior Twin is offers minimalist with 2 single beds.



If you are looking for something basic and comfy for overnight rest, the Standard King (windowless) is another option worth considering too.


An evening stroll before dinner led us to some of their facilities such as the Ballroom, Gymnasium, and the Swimming Pool.



Located at the building next to the hotel, the swimming pool was really nice. Spacious and set with a view of the evening’s majestic dark midnight blue skyline, the pool looks gorgeously inviting.




We then proceed to an evening of deliciousness with Chef Lizam’s signature dishes at Checkers Café. Seated in the Kapitan Corner’s alfresco area for the evening, it was a feast of seafood with Chef Lizam’s Mee Kawah!




Chef’s own family recipe, it is a great dish for special occasions or celebrative events as it makes an impressive seafood dish. Loaded with freshwater prawns, crab and mussels, the springy noodles and the gravy is deliciously piquant and moreish. It has a well-balance tangy note that beckons one to enjoy the gravy tremendously.


Besides the Mee Kawah we also tried Oxtail Asam Pedas and Sup Tulang. Both dishes guarantee flavours of comfort with a redolent hit of spices. These are available on the menu in Checkers Café.



For a bit of Western touch, there is also a list of pizzas. Our Meat Mania Pizza is pretty loaded with lots of toppings set on thin crispy crust.


After our dinner and a short stroll, we ended up visiting D’Bar for a nightcap while some opted to play pool for some entertainment.


We turned in for the night, only to wake up for early breakfast since we had an agenda to check out some of JB’s eateries and some sightseeing. Breakfast is pretty good at Silka Johor Bahru with a good list of local and international breakfast favorites.


One can get your eggs prepared several ways just by ordering since these are prepared fresh-upon order. There’s the usual porridge fried noodles, English breakfast, chicken curry and rice, fresh juices, fruits and more.



After our outing, we return to the hotel to enjoy the gorgeous swimming pool we saw in the evening. The pool looks even better in daylight!




It is a very large pool and is also a smaller one for privacy with Jacuzzi pump set with a backdrop of waterfall. We loved how beautiful the design of the swimming pool that is set with plush greenery as well as a backdrop of other buildings.



Needless to say, my little didn’t really want to leave the swimming pool since he had so much fun there!



SIlka Johor Bahru turned out better than we expected. While it’s nothing fancy, plus points goes to the spacious suite we had as well as the food and facilities. It’s a decent value-for-money place to stay as the hotel is pretty near to quite a few famous tourist sites and also near the crossway to Singapore. I would certainly return if I am ever in JB looking for a decent value hotel.


SILKA JOHOR BAHRU
Lot 101375, Jalan Masai Lama,
Mukim Plentong,
81750 Johor Bahru
Tel: +607-360 1000



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