Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Affordable Thai at I'm Spicy @ Jln 17/45, PJ

I'm Spicy is quite a catchy name for a Thai eatery. This place serves Thai street food as their signboard says but of course they do serve dishes like steamed fish and curry. Tucked in a quiet corner of a row of shophouses at Seksyen 17 PJ, it's actually located on the same row as Kanna Curry House which is just behind Lisa De Inn at the Rothman Roundabout (technically, it's no longer a roundabout because it has turned into a traffic light juntion). Opened for nearly 9 months, I can't believe I have not realised its existence even when I went to Kanna to have my banana leave rice!

This place gives me a very pleasant and carefree feeling due to the space and bareness of the restaurant. I don't have to dress up to dine here and it's cosy enough for me to feel comfortable. It's air conditioned for diners' comfort due to the spicy nature of the food that might cause uncontrollable perspiration.

I'm Spicy House Drink - RM6/glass RM15/jug
An aperitif to the dinner. It has pandan, lemongrass and mint leaves blended together with ice!

Pomelo Salad (Yam Soh Oh) RM25

This salad consists of fresh pomelo, thin julienne of carrots, green apples, cucumbers, served with fried squids and slices of lotus root and then tossed with a chilli paste with crushed peanuts. While I really love the fact that the pomelo is sweet and not sour, the chilli paste/sauce tends to be too little and thus not all the salad will be tossed evenly with the sauce. It's indeed a very refreshing appetiser. However, the plate is too small for a "lou sang" action!

After some refreshing aperitif, it's time for some fine scotch whisky, which is afterall the "water of life" and a good digestive. We are trying a new bottle during this dinner and it's no less a Glenlivet 21 years old. Although I haven't drank much of Glenlivet, this bottle is indeed a pleasurable one. It has a nice amber colour with a nose of oak, wood and fruity notes. It's a full-bodied whisky with spicy tones, nuts and chocolate. It's quite complex but not too overpowering. Perfect for an evening drink.

Tom Yam Prawn/Seafood (RM18 for small and RM30 for big)

For the Tom Yam, there is also a choice of clear or thick soup. You can also choose if you want seafood or chicken. We had both that night, 1 pot of chicken and the other a seafood tom yam. At the same time, you can also request for the level of spiciness depending on your preference or if you want to take up a spicy challenge.

Steamed Tilapia with Lime & Garlic Sauce RM45

Green Curry RM18 (2pax) & RM24 (4pax)

For the same price, you can choose if you want a green or red curry version with pork or chicken. This dish comes with a generous portion of meat and mushrooms and it's flavourful and not too spicy since we asked for a spiciness rating of 2.

Red Sauce Chicken Wings RM18

These chicken wings are marinated in their own recipe of herbs and spices and then deep fried. The fried chicken was not too oily and the taste of herbs and spices isn't too overpowering as well.

Stir Fried Thai Basil Pork RM18

I would have like this if it's a bit more spicy. While the minced pork is very nice with the fragrant basil leaves, it's a bit too sweet for my liking. Next time, I will increase the spiciness rating for this dish!

Grilled Pork Skewers (Mu Bhlng) RM18

Since they called themselves Thai street food, they bound to have some of the street dishes in their menu. This is the Thai version of satay. It's lean pork that is marinated with galangal, lemongrass and garlic and then chargrilled. It's served with a Thai sauce called Nahm Jim Jeaw which is a type of spicy dipping sauce. For those who doesn't like fatty pork, this would be perfect. Try to eat it while it's still warm.

Deep Fried Chicken Skin RM12

If there's one dish that you have to order here, I'll love to recommend the deep fried chicken skin. I know it sounds like having a cardiac arrest by ordering something so high in cholesterol and unhealthy but it's worth gaining some for this dish. It's so crispy, you'll forget you're snacking on chicken skin. It beats Lays potato chips anytime and it makes a good snack to go with the Singha or the whisky!

Red Ruby RM7

After almost a dozen dishes, we came to the end of the dinner - the eating but not the drinking! It was time for dessert and how could I not order a serving of my favourite Tub Tim Krob (Red Ruby). It's actually diced water chestnuts dipped into tapioca flour and served with a sweet coconut syrup and some jackfruit slices. This one here does it differently. They added some yam cubes and corn which gives it a crunchy texture. Interesting and worth trying too.

After the dessert, some of my friends went and play chess at one corner which they do provide and then the rest of us continued drinking and smoke some Partagas outside the restaurant. It's a nice place to hang out for dinner as they are ample parking space at night and it's cooling too. If you wish to bring your own bottle, it's RM15 corkage but they don't have proper whisky glasses. I think it makes a great place to dine if you want a good and affordable Thai dining.

I'm Spicy
1A, Jalan 17/45,
46400 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel: +603-79542281

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Les Deux Salons @ London

One is really spoilt for choice when it comes to dining in London. There's so many good restaurants and you'll have to scratch your head if you only have 2 nights there. On the first night, I didn't feel well and ended up spending my dinner time at the hotel room and ate the instant noodle that I lug around in my bag for the past 1 week. I decide not to bring it back to KL. Yeah, that's super duper foolish to bring instant noodles to a city filled with so many restaurants.

I had a long list of restaurants to try as recommended by friends but in the end, Les Deux Salons was chosen as "the dinner place" for my last night there. I had a little adventure while locating this restaurant. I got off from the train at Leicester Square and begin my quest to locate this street using a map and asking for directions. After getting nowhere after 20 mins, I decided to take a cab. I hailed a cab, got into in and asked the driver to take me to this restaurant and he looked at me and said "Miss, it's just down the road from here". My faced turned pink, apologized and I walked down the road. Well it's not exactly DOWN THE ROAD because I had to make a left turn and then another right turn after some distance! But I managed to find it!

This is the 3rd venture of Michelin starred duo - Anthony Demetre and Will Smith who has already impressed London diners with Wild Honey and Arbutus. Les Deux Salons occupies a big, two-floor building just off Trafalgar Square. It has a private dining space upstairs which is quieter and a noisier, buzzier, more brasserie-ish downstairs. It gives me a very lively Parisian brasserie feel and you might think that you're in Paris while dining here.

Hand-chopped Scottish beef tartare £8.95
It's a wonderful piece of meat that had been chopped so finely but I am not a big fan of beef tartare and I think I'll never learn to love it too.

Brouilly Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Dubost, Beaujolais 2010 £40

Wines here are so cheap (that's provided you stop converting all the pounds to ringgit). Even if you get a 30 quid bottle, it still tastes better than some of the RM300 wines we get at the posh restaurants here. This is a very nice bottle with spice-laden notes and cherry fruits.

A unique feature of their wine list is that all the wines are available by carafe (250ml). This allows diners the opportunity to sample several wines throughout their meal and even allowing them to be adventurous in exploring the different wine labels.

Pork cheeks, autumn vegetables,
honey & sherry vinegar £17.50

I asked the waiter to recommend and he was telling me that their slow cooked beef was really beautiful but in the end I opted for a plate of pork cheeks. I've tried numerous beef cheeks but pork cheeks sounds interesting and rare. It's indeed very good. The cheeks are tender and smooth and with the sherry vinegar, it's just delicious!

Shoulder of Welsh lamb ‘Navarin’,
white beans & parsley £17.95

Spinach & Potatoes as sides £3.95

This is really a wonderful restaurant. Although its white table cloths would make you think that it's a high end fine dining restaurant, surprisingly the prices here won't really make you wince too much when you get the bill. I think it's a great restaurant, cosy, lively and delicious offerings.

Les Deux Salons
40-42 William IV Street London
United Kingdom
Tel: +4420 7420 205

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

La Maison Kopi Luwak @ Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta

I was preparing to leave Plaza Indonesia to head back to Four Seasons Hotel to check out when I caught a glimpse of this cafe at the corner diagonally opposite Mango. I knew I wanted to try this at least once and thus I asked Hue Gee to give this cafe a try. What attracted me was the name of this cafe - "La Maison Kopi Luwak" because I haven't really given a chance to savour one of the most expensive coffee in the world.

Back in 2009, I wrote about this coffee called Kopi Luwak here and I cringed at the thought of forking a small fortune for just a cup of coffee. Afterall, why are we paying gold to drink shit right? That's right, the coffee is really made from coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) or other civets and then the beans inside pass through their system undigested. While the bean is in its stomach, it undergoes chemical treatments and fermentations. The bean finishes its journey through the digestive system, and exits. The still-intact beans are collected and cleaned, then roasted and grounded just like any other coffee.

One small cafe, the Heritage Tea Rooms, in the hills outside Townsville in Australia, has Kopi Luwak coffee on the menu at US$33.00 per cup, selling approximately four cups a week, which has gained nationwide Australian press. However, I spotted this one here in Jakarta selling at USD$8 a cup or Rp 82,500 in their local currency. That is just about RM24 a cup and it's definitely worth a try. Afterall, RM24 would just get you 2 tall coffee at Starbucks.

The coffee powder comes in individual packs and they each comes with a nice cloth bag. A porcelain cup with gold rims and cover is used to depict its luxurious experience and the waitress makes the coffee right before your eyes. She first opens the pack and passes on for me to have a nose of the aroma. It's aromatic, nutty and earthy. Then she pours the coffee powder into the porcelain cup, adds 150ml water and then covers it for 2 minutes to brew.

As you can see, the colour is not really black or the darkest brown. It's brownish and thick. Mine has quite some amount of sediments and I think the 150ml water was a bit too little because I feel that it's too overwhelming in its taste and texture. I wasn't sure if all Kopi Luwak tastes like that but I certainly felt that USD$8 a cup won't get you good Kopi Luwak. The taste is earthy and bitter, almost like ginseng but with coffee aromas.

I don't believe that this is authentic Kopi Luwak as I know that nowadays the coffee beans are from civets that are kept and fed with berries instead of collecting the beans from the wild civets that fed on wild berries. Isn't it true that only the wild civets would be able to choose the berries they would want to consume and thus producing a better quality of beans?

Anyways, Hue Gee wasn't interested with coffee. She had a Rum & Raisin instead but I suspect there wasn't any much rum in that drink. All I can taste is caramel and sweetness. She had a taste of my Kopi Luwak but ended up having a stomach upset. I guess afterall, it's still an acquired taste.

But still, I think the person who came out with this way of appreciating coffee was brilliant. I can't believe someone out there would actually pick up the animal's feces and made good money with it! Cherry popped for Kopi Luwak!

La Maison Kopi Luwak
Lot E11, Level 2,
Plaza Indonesia
Tel: +6221- 299 23548

Adhikarya Dewangga

Photo by Arselan

In Sanskrit, it means "great work" or "masterpiece" from beautiful cloths (mahakarya dari kain yang indah). That's the theme of the recent fashion show held by Lina and Lim H at Four Seasons Hotel in Kuningan Jakarta on last Friday the 17th. And that was also the reason why I had to fly to Jakarta on Friday morning at 7am, taking the earliest flight on Air Asia to show some support to my dear friend from college whom is now a fashion designer.

Hue Gee, Lim & Me

Lim has always been fashionable and little do I know that he had teamed up with his sister, Lina to come up with such wonderful batik wear. I could still remember us studying together at our degree programme but I didn't know that one day, this classmate of mine would have his own fashion label and his debut fashion show in Jakarta today. An invitation to such an important event in my friend's life is not to be missed.

His sister Lina started designing in 2009 after finishing her studies at Raffles in Singapore. After his study, he also returned to Jakarta and there's where his interest in fashion designing begins. Lim creates the menswear and Lina designs the female gowns. People in Jakarta wears batik and it can be seen almost everywhere. They even have batik dresses, shirts and evening gowns. Once, my gf almost mistaken a guy in batik shirt to be a waiter. Instead, he's actually a customer. Lol...

Lim and his sister wants to have a modern batik line of clothes where everyone who adorns batik feels special and unique. Most of the batik dresses and shirts looks like they are mass-produced and that is not fashionable! For the past 3 years, they have been receiving orders to design wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses and evening wear. It's a good start and this fashion show of 23 designs has received good reviews from the press and guests attending the show.

His fashion show was indeed unique. It was simple, sleek and effective. There were even surprises underneath some lucky chairs where he give away batik bags and accessories to the guests.

The show lasts for 20 minutes and after that, everyone had a good dinner at the hotel and some photo sessions with Lina and Lim. And you know what happened? Of all the events I went to, I actually ended up wearing the same dress as Lim's other sister! He was so cute by texting me "Eilinggggg did you wear the same dress as my sister?" and I said yes! He then told Hue Gee that he knew that my dress is from Zara. Haha... what a joke. Next time, never wear any Zara dress for events as many people would have bought the same dress and colour! Lol..

Lim & Lina looking happy

It was also Lim's birthday and one of the staff brought a cake to the stage after the show ended and even his parents were up on stage to embrace him. At the same time, they presented him with a mock key and I wonder if it's a key to a house or car?!! I asked him the next morning we had breakfast and he answered...

a jet maybe?!!

Lol... Anyways, this guy is truly hardworking and he's early to rise and early to bed. Can you imagine he buzzed me and asked my gf and I to have breakfast at 8am?!! Who the hell wakes up at 8am to have breakfast at a hotel (and it's Four Seasons for God's sake) on a weekend?!! Well, eventually we did wake up and arrived at the breakfast table earlier than him.

Keep a lookout for these two talented young siblings as they might be on their way to our shores for their next fashion show stop!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I was in Jakarta!

I was in Jakarta for the weekend. Come to think of it, it never crossed my mine that I would be visiting this city anytime soon, not especially if it's my own trip. Well, so what brought me here? If it's not because of a dear friend, I wouldn't fly here for 1 night and having to take AirAsia because that's the most economical way to do so. He's having his debut fashion show and I have to come to show my support for him. I'll leave the fashion talk for my next post.

Air Asia has its own budget terminal which is Terminal 3 and it's new and modern unlike Terminal 1 & 2. When arrived at the T3, there's only 2 immigration counters opened, resulting in a long queue. I have done my research about taking taxi in Jakarta because you won't want to get yourself into trouble here. The only taxi a tourist should take should be from the Blue Bird Group which includes Blue Bird & Pusaka taxis which are economical and Silver Bird if you want an executive taxi. If you can't find any Blue Bird taxis, just take the free shuttle service to T1 or T2 arrival area to take the taxi.

Staying at Four Seasons Hotel

The trip from the airport to our hotel at Four Seasons in Kuningan took almost an 1 hour and a little bit more due to traffic congestion. Make sure you have enough cash for the taxi because there's a charge of Rp 10,500 for toll and a fare of Rp 120,500. Don't forget to prepare Rp 150,000 for airport tax on the return trip! It's very kind of my friend to put us up at such a beautiful hotel. I love the rooms because it's cosy and the beds are heavenly. Both of us almost didn't want to leave the beds alone and she even suggested that she would transport the bed back if there's such thing as a Doraemon magic door!

One unique thing we noticed about the buses here is that these are no ordinary buses. Look at the doors, it's too high for anyone to get onto it and thus, look at the bus stands! It's not on ground level but it's located on a higher platform. From what I knew, this is a shuttle for some areas and then they also do have the normal buses for other areas.

Living the Jakarta life

But, to live the high life of Jakarta, we decided to treat ourselves to a posh taxi. No, we did not come in those two white Porsche Panamera but we took a Silver Bird which is a Merz E Class taxi to Plaza Indonesia which is just opposite Grand Indonesia, the two shopping malls. The Blue Bird has a fare that starts at Rp 9,000 and the Silver Bird starts at Rp 15,000. A 10 minute taxi trip on a Blue Bird will cost around Rp 12,000 and the Silver Bird around Rp 25,000.

Honestly, with those prices, I can now declare Malaysia taxis are way too shitty. The taxis in Jakarta are at least a Toyota Vios, just like Bangkok and even taxis in Manila is better than our Protons! There's no price haggling with the Blue Bird taxis and the drivers don't stink.

The malls in Jakarta are pretty big too. The one we went to on the 1st day is called Grand Idonesia and as its name suggests, it's pretty grand with all the big names like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. It's as big as our Mid Valley but the number of shops is just 1/3 of our mall. The place is spacious and there's even a big fountain in the mall. The restaurant area is very well decorated and it looks like a dreamland castle with trees and stone walkways.

For lunch, Hue Gee and me went to the food court called Food Louve at Grand Indonesia and I wanted to try some local food. After staring at the menu for the longest time, I decided to go for the Ayam Penyet which is a local Indonesian cuisine consists of a spicy, crispy fried and smashed chicken served with a variety of greens, sambal belacan and white rice. I wanted to see the difference between the ones I had in KL and here in Jakarta. Actually I don't think there's any big difference except that the chicken here tend to be smaller. heheh...

Well, I don't really love Jakarta but I'll say it's not too bad either when compared to KL. One thing though, it's quite difficult to get a taxi from the mall. But on the good side, there's always a doorman at the mall to help you hail a taxi and open the doors. I love the service and the spaciousness of the malls. It's nice not to be stepping on each others toes when shopping on weekends.

More stories to come...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Surprise Dinner with Chef for Hire

I was in for a treat in Singapore! It's not just any dinner but this one here is really something special. Ervin arranged a surprise belated birthday dinner for me right at Chef Ryan Hong's pad. For those who are from the republic, you might know him for his fame as the Chef for Hire on Channel 5. Afterall, he's one of the first chef on that channel and he is a private chef that one can hire to cook up a dinner right at the comfort of your own home. However, he's no ordinary private chef because his clientele list will awe you and he's pretty choosy too.

I was really looking forward to dinner, simply because it's a new experience to be dining at the chef's place and there's some wines that I look forward to savour. One of them was the Jacques Selosse Initiale. Having tasted the Version Originale a couple of months ago (here), I can't right forget about Anselme's wines. This Initiale Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut is the entry level champagne compared to its bigger and more refine brother, the V.O.. Ervin asked me not to put too high hopes on this bottle as I've already tasted the best.

This is another 100% chardonnay and the dosage is about 5-6g/l and a total of 33,000 bottles are produced yearly which constitutes two thirds of the wines produced at his vinery. It's also an indication that you're more likely to find Initiale in the market compared to Substance or even the V.O.. We had this to go with the appetiser. On the nose, you can get a nutty and citrus bouquet. And when it touches your palate, there's honey, vanilla, nuts, lemon, peach and flowery notes. The texture is smooth and it does have a good finish. If you can wait, I think this bottle would be better in a few more years to come.

The first dish that the Ryan whipped up after we had a few glasses of Initiale was the Proscuitto with the jelly from the cherry tomatoes, olive and garlic oil, balsamic vinegar and some rocket leaves. It's funny how a simple dish like this can taste so good. A little lemon juice is used to give the dish a lift in flavours! He told us that he improvises with what he has left in the fridge and never be too critical about having a certain ingredient if you don't have it.

While we were waiting for the 2nd dish, we could smell the pork collar roasting in the oven. It smelled so good - a combination of roast and sweet flavours. Ryan is really swift. He can wash dishes, talk, make jokes and cook all by himself without us helping. Next up, we had a generous portion of fusilli mixed with his special tomato-based-sauce, chopped rocket leaves and topped with a spoonful of black tobiko (flying fish roe coloured with squid ink). I was surprised that a spoonful of that would make the pasta dish tasted different due to the salty and umami taste. At the same time, he did also share the secrets to cooking an al dente pasta. Hmm.. that's a very good tip but I can't share it because that will be my weapon to cooking a perfect pasta.

The last dish we had that night was also the highlight of the dinner as he has been roasting this slab of pork collar for hours. It's not easy to get a pork collar but if you do have it, try to treat it with utmost respect. The meat at the collar is not only tender, it's robust in flavours and so juicy! Ryan had done a good job in roasting this with a normal oven. I thought a chef like him will have super duper high-tech kitchen gadgets but he didn't have any of it. Now, I think I can cook like him too! Lol..

The colour of the wines we had that night somehow are all in this yellow, golden and amber hues. It was very kind of him to share some of his vintage cigars with us and then some of this 97 Riesling from Franz Kunstler. He told us that it's worth thousands of dollars and so I didn't waste even a single drop of it. It's refreshing to drink sweet wines once in a while and for a moment, I thought this bottle here tasted better than the Chateau Y'quem 2001 I had last year! Hehe...

But that's not all the fun. The best part of the dinner is to play with both his dogs. They are just so super lovely!

Their names are so cute. Don't you think so? This Patchy loves it so much when I stroked him while he laid flat on the floor and Lulu has her tongue sticking out all the time. I wished they were my dogs! Patchy loves to play the throw and fetch with the blue soft toy. In fact, the toy is so wet with all his saliva and he doesn't let go knowing that I like to snatch the toy away from him. This is too cute!!

I really had a good time there! Thanks to Ervin & Chef Ryan!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

UniFi Nightmare!!

On Friday, a group of UniFi people came to my house to install the WIRED high speed broadband (HSBB) service, an upgrade from my Streamyx. I wasn't around as I had to work but Mom was in. What I thought would be a joy turned out to be a nightmare. First of all, they come in a group of 6-8 people. And I thought it's very unprofessional not to tell the user that they will send so many people as I know it's dangerous to be home alone especially a lady with so many strangers in the house. They could have told us that there will be so many people coming and at least we can arrange to have 2 people at home.

Then, they wanted to drill a hole from the kitchen wall to the computer room. Mom had earlier discuss with them on the place to drill. To her horror, when she came into the room, the hole was drilled at another location! Imagine this senario at your house. What would you do? I think I would scream at them!

After they have completed their job, Mom gave them some Mandarin oranges and also my bowl of chocolates full of Snickers, Dove, Galaxy and M&M's! Not only they are not grateful, they even make me lose my Smartag. My Smartag was left on the chair at the living hall because my car was at the workshop and Mom noticed my Smartag was gone after the installation. She tried to call me immediately and asked if I took it but unfortunately I was at a meeting and didn't answer the call. When I called back after 20 mins, they have gone and so is my Smartag with RM43 pre loaded in the Touch N Go card!!!

Mom called Unifi and lodged a complaint. A lady calls back after 3 hours and told her that she will investigate. After another hour, she called back and passed the call to the Installation Supervisor and he said that he asked his staff and none of them took it. Duh!! If I steal something, do you think I should admit it? What kind of answer is that? Is this answer acceptable to anyone who lose something after buying a service from your company? Then Mom even asked them if they will take any action if I were to make it known to the public through social media and also to the press. The lady said, "it's your choice." And so my choice is to share my experience with all of you.

After this incident, not only Mom has to waste money and energy making the calls, I had to buy a new Smartag and Touch N Go. I spent RM120 buying a new Smartag, RM10 on Tounch N Go new card and also another RM30 for credit on top of the hundreds which I need to pay for the Unifi service. Where is the justice?

I felt so angry and disappointed with the company. Not only they have a incompetent customer service department, they may have also hired dishonest staff which users like us may fall prey to. It's just a Smartag for my case but who knows other people might have similar stories. I have written to The Star about this and hopefully they can share it at the Letters column. This serves as a warning to others to keep a watchful eye should they want to install anything at their homes. Trust no stranger. Now, should a police report be made on cases like this?

A police report has been made finally!

The reason is not for me to take action against TM but to serve as a warning to others. Yes, these people might be contractors hired by the company but it's unfair for them to send irresponsible and dishonest people to carry out the job.

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