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Christmas ideas: Ikea Gift Card

Its Christmas round the corner. And for many its the time of the year that one scratches the head silly to figure out what to buy.

Admittedly, I am one of them as I believe that gifts are not meant to lavish. It is the thought that counts. The value is beyond dollars and cents. I remember a friend whose family celebrated with practical gifts for everyone. A simple deodorant to a makeup remover sufficed for the family. No one broke their piggybanks for Christmas.

This should kick off the first of many posts on some possible Christmas ideas. And my very first gift idea (because I received my Christmas gift really early from the kind folks at IKEA) is an IKEA Gift Card. These gift cards can be loaded with a value of RM50 to RM1,000. And what makes it perfect is because its accepted at IKEA, the Restaurant and also the Swedish Market which pretty much means the whole of IKEA at Mutiara Damansara outlet.

Choose from the 6 designs...and I like the one that I have the most...the red cuddling hearts:D
For more information...hop over to their website:

Authentic Taiwanese ~ Tai Zi Heen, Prince Hotel and Residence KL

Everyone's talking about Taiwan. Everyone's going to Taiwan. And until I make my trip to Taiwan next year, I'll contend myself with some Taiwanese cuisine prepared by Executive Chef Wang who's flew in from Taipei Garden Hotel.
I sat next to Sabri and this darling always ensures that I am well fed (very literally he will be placing servings and servings of food onto my plate before I can even finish up...). Oh...Tai Zi Heen is pork free making it one of my fave places for Chinese food with my Muslim pals.

The first dish of Dried Daikon Radish Omelet has always been a comfort food for me on days that I am unwell. Still not feeling the top of the world after my recent fever, this omelette has been very appetising. I wished I had a bowl of hot porridge to go with the omelette. The omelette is nicely fried outside but remains soft inside with a subtle radish (choi poh) flavour. It was not overpowering as the daikon radish has been preserved for merely 3 months.
Another brilliant mouth watering dish was the Traditional 3 Cup Chicken or better known as San Bei Ji. The name is because there are 3 cups of very precious ingredients that must be used for this dish. A cup of rice wine, a cup of back sesame oil and a cup of soya sauce cooked with the chicken witha dditional ingredients including basil, ginger and garlic. Chef Wang explained the art of cooking this dish, a play of timing. Certainly it was one of the best 3 Cup Chicken that I have tasted for ages. The chicken was tender and the aromatic gravy that coated every piece of chicken was just right.
The Vegetable and Seafood Soup looked a tad plain. Plain as it looked, this was one pot of goodness. Each piece of vegetables was soft and not mushy. Every mouthful is rich and soothing with the rich flavours of seafood, mushroom and the chinese cabbage (wong la pak). We are told that this is a famous Taiwanese dish that is served in many restaurants and cafes. And during winter, I can imagine the comfort that this simple dish gave its diners. Apparently many Chinese love this hot claypot dish with the company of good wine and good company...
rather clear but super rich broth with the goodness of the vegetables & seafood
I love glutinous rice and I also love crabs. The Steamed Glutinous Rice Topped with Crab Meat had the table going ooohhh and ahhhhhh when it arrive. A delectable vibrant orange of the crabs sitting over a bed of fluffy and fragrant glutinous rice, it was quite a sight. The rice was light with a subtle taste of the crab juice ~ just perfect! And every bite of the firm sweet flesh of the crab...this dish is quite a winner in its own right!
yummeh!

This sinful picture...it all went into my stomach.
Am glad that my cholesterol level has yet to sky rocket:P
Confession: I did not try the last dish of Stir Fried Shark's Fin with Whipped Eggs as I have stopped eating shark's fin. It did look very inviting with its sunny yellow egg with bits of mushrooms and vegetables...however I stick to my principal.
The initial menu listed Traditional Pineapple Cakes for our dessert. However, we were in for a treat as Executive Chef Wang treated us to 2 more desserts of Sun Cake and Beef Tongue Cake.
Beef tongue? Merryn was a wee worried when she heard Beef Tongue Cake 牛舌饼. Her fear was uncalled for as there is zero percent of anything called beef tongue in the list of ingredients. Its merely called Beef Tongue Cake because it does apparently look like a beef tongue (oblong and flat). This is a famous pastry in Yilan and is made of a few layers of pastry. Sweet and fragrant, I enjoyed the Beef Tongue Cake with cups of hot chinese tea. An obviously I was so busy enjoying my biscuits that I forgot to take pictures. Pictures here are courtesy of Merryn:D
The Sun Cake 太阳饼 is is round and has a filling of malt sugar. The filling is not overly sweet and in encased in a pastry that flakes as soon as you bite. It'll be good to eat this over a plate least you end up with a messy dining table like I did.
And of course, sticking to the menu, we had our Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes. The sweet pineapple filling is quite tedious to make and requires a certain special pineapple variant. Thus Executive Chef Wang had them made in Taiwan and brought them in with him. The pastry is made at Tai Zi Heen's kitchen and the man himself demonstarted how it was done.
Taste wise? It was so yummy that our table finished 2 plates of the awesome cakes. Buttery and rich outside while the filling is fragrant with the the juicy sweetish sour pineapple. This is one item I wish we could find on a regular basis... lovely if I could have it for the coming Chinese New Year too!
Tai Zi Heen
Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur
T: +603 2170 8888

My Teochew Affair

The only teochew food that I know has been Teochew porridge, Teochew steamed fish and the yam dessert Ornee. A lovely dining experience at Zuan Yuan - a pork free restaurant in One World Hotel introduced me to many more Teochew yummies.

After my previous dining experience of dumplings and Hong Kong dishes at Zuan Yuan, I am certainly looking forward to be amazed by Chef Michael's culinary skills. Rather hungry I couldn't wait to start in dinner but was asked to savour and enjoy my cup of tea first. Certainly every reason to enjoy my cup of tea as Zuan Yuan carries a rather good selection of chinese tea.
The first dish arrives in what I normally describe as Yin & Yang. The Duo Combination Teochew Style Steamed & Fried Fen Guo are dumplings stuffed with water chestnut, dried shrimp, carrots, mushrooms, peanuts & chives. A bite of the steamed feels a little like the Hokkien Char Kueh.
I personally prefer the steamed fen guo with its smooth translucent skin.

A delicious and wholesome bite of flavourful vegetables.
The fried version.
I gave the second course of Braised Shark's Fin with Crab Claw and Scallop a miss as I've stopped eating shark's fin. This dish came with a small portion of lightly blanched bean sprouts which was crunchy and refreshing. I passed Xiang my bowl of soup and this boy happily drank it all.
Add the bean sprouts into the soup for extra bite and flavour.
The Deep Fried Teochew Shi Liu Guo is such a pretty dish. It arrived like a petite golden bag. A clever play of bean curd skin with a filling of mince meat, water chestnut, coriander and mushrooms, this dish went well with the sour plum sauce that was served on the side.
My favourite dish for the night was definitely the Steamed Leather jacket Fish with Garlic, Ginger & Teochew Sauce. Steamed just right, the fish was tender and juicy. Lightly spicy with finely chopped garlic and ginger and a little bit of cili padi (bird's eye chilli), I ate every morsel of the dish (leaving the plate almost clean).
I wasn't sure what was olive vegetable all about. The only olive I knew was the olives we ate and also olive oil. Whatever it is, the Fried Rice with Olive Vegetable was absolutely yummy. Fluffy rice with egg, broccoli stem, pickled olive vegetables and minced chicken, this is a must have if you're a rice lover.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pigpigscorner/4662490371/ is a link of the preserved olive vegetables that you may find at the supermarket shelves.

The Braised Rice Noodle with Assorted Seafood did look a little like Cantonese Fried Rice Noodles. A delightful assortment of seafood including dried sole fish, fish and prawn in an egg based sauce, this is very appetising.
I am all too glad that dessert was one of my fave chinese dessert Ornee or Sweetened Yam Paste. Traditionally this is a very rich and sweet dessert with lard. Chef Michael made it light, creamy with a very refreshing citrus syrup. Pumpkin and soft gingko biloba add colour to this purplish dish and gave it a slightly nutty taste too.
Zuan Yuan Chinese Restaurant
One World Hotel
+603 7681 1159
~.~
We've decided to check out yet another Chinese wine after an awesome experience with Poon Choi. At 60% alcohol, this tasted a little like Japanese Sake and is quite lovely when drank hot. Obviously there weren't many drinkers that night and I am wondering how it would taste if I used it to make the Italian Winter Chocolate cocktail that I love so much...
our chinese wine experiment with a good chinese dinner
Chef Michael




Fisherman's Fridays

Fisherman's Friday? It sure sounds like a seafood lovers' kind of Friday.

I hop over to Zest at Putrajaya Marriott Hotel. Traffic is good with the highways leading to the hotel, so I am a contented girl. I get even more contented when I see the selection of seafood. And its buffet spread. Its not all about quantity, we're talking quality too OK? So let's start...

Cold seafood is always a welcoming sight...

Salmon

Scallop

Succulent prawns


Clam and crabstick salad

Oysters ~ my fave!

Seafood terrine
I love salads and its always good to have our salads with some seafood for additional flavour and nutrition:D

Of course eating a vegetarian salad is also good. Select from the assortment of salad dressing...or play around and make your own ceasar salad.

Eat you vegetables!

Ceasar salad makes eating vegetables easier...
Have some cheese...



Like some warm seafood? The chefs prepare it on the spot and you can choose from from the different type of sauces available. I loved the kicap with cili padi (soy sauce with bird's eye chilli) that goes so well with most of the seafood.
the little green bowls has an assortment of sauces for your choice of seafood

simple kembung (scomber) good on its own or dip it into the kicap cili padi

ikan selar kuning (yellow tail scad)

crabs

squid

tiger prawns
mussels & scallops

assortment of clams
This seafood escape continues with another whole selection of local favourites.

kong poh (love the generous use of paprika with cashew nuts) squids

stir fried cabbage with dried shrimps
sweet & spicy crab. this is awesome "finger food" when we chatted after dinner

curry fish head

not exactly seafood but these are wonderful acar


fried sotong ball

These prawns were addictive the chilly leaves.
How about a bowl of noodles? Yes, a bowl of noodles and select your own choice of seafood (of course). This is actually rather good as the soup is rather sweet with the goodness of your chosen seafood.
Or choose some Indian food which I was quite glad to have as well. The naans are lovely. Dishes are all cooked tandoor style. Oh...nasi beriani and fish curry is a must try when you swing by.

they say "come eat us"
brocolli
squid

fish head

these papadams were addictive and made yet another great post dinner chat "finger food"
The pasta station in Zest is worth visiting if you love pastas.

more seafood galore or you may opt for it plain

seafood paella
Dessert is a whole section on its own. And frankly if you love sweet stuff, this is your wonderland. Local or western and my faves were the ice kacang and its condiments. Ok confession time...I didn't just use the regular condiments for ais kacang because I hopped over to the ice cream section and took spoonfuls of pistachios and almonds for my ais kacang. And obviously I added one of my favourite chocolate wafers from childhood time as well.

ais kacang bar

the base of my ais kacang
ais kacang with added chocolate wafer, pistachios and almonds. yummeh!




jello galore


ice cream

bubur cacar is a must try...

love this old fashion chocolate wafers. good to eat on its own or decorate your ais kacang as i did:P

sweet and pretty

this fish shaped cake looked so cute... I didn't have the heart to cut her up or eat her:P

So if you crave seafood and wish to have a satisfying buffet head down to:
ZEST
Putrajaya Marriott Hotel & Spa
IOI Resort, 62502, Putrajaya
Malaysia
T: +603 8949 8888 ext. 1888
F: +603 8949 8999
www.marriot.com/kulpg
www.facebook.com/marriottputrajaya
Fisherman Fridays is available on every Friday night for buffet dinner effective November
2011 priced at RM88++ per adult and RM53++ per child.

~.~




the many rounds that went into the tummy.
(at least the ones I remembered that cameras were for photography and not decorations on tables) *burp*