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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Just One Food - Momiji Manju

Recently, I had the privilege of trying some cake-like snacks from the Land of the Rising Sun.  Initially, I didn't know what they were as I've not eaten them before, so I googled for information online.

I typed "maple leaf like Japanese cake" into the search engine and found out that these snacks are actually called Momiji Manju (momiji meaning maple leaf).  This maple leaf-shaped little cake is a signature snack of the Hiroshima prefecture.

The little cakes are made from a castella-type dough of wheat, eggs, sugar and honey, something like an egg-based sponge cake.  They come with different sweet fillings (made from soy beans) that have been made into a bean paste.  I had the opportunity to try four flavours.

The first one was the traditional and most common filling of Red Bean Jam (or paste).  I also tried the Red Bean & Sweet Potato Jam filling (no photo of this one) which tasted very much like purple sweet potato.

I love all the flavours but I have to say these two were my favourites.  The fillings weren't overly sweet.  I love these cakes...they're nice and soft and the fillings are absolutely delicious! ^o^

They're made in cute maple leaf-shaped aluminium moulds, almost similar to how we would make our Kuih Bahulu.

The third flavour was Mikan (Mandarin) Bean Jam.  Although there was a hint of citrus, the filling tasted like a sweet potato filling.

The size of a Momiji Manju is very small (probably about 2 inches wide) which you can finish in two bites or one if you really wanted to.

These little pastries have a rather short shelf life.  They usually need to be consumed in about a week.  I can easily eat ten of these at one go....probably more!  I love them!! ^_*

The final flavour I tried was the Custard Cream.  Again, the texture was like some sort of sweet potato and not creamy custard-like.

Taste-wise, I'd said it's a bit similar to those Japanese sweet pancakes, dorayaki, for lack of a better comparison, though the dorayaki is more fluffy like a pancake as opposed to the cake-like texture of the Momiji Manju.

Each Momiji Manju cost around 85 yen (approximately RM3+) which makes it quite expensive for this one-to-two-bite mini cake.  But when they're delectable, they're worth every cent! ;P

Besides the traditional red bean paste, they come in many other flavours like green tea, yam, black sesame, cream cheese, chocolate cream, lemon, strawberry, just to name a few.  It seems there are at least 30 types of fillings nowadays (and also deep-fried versions).

If you find yourself in Hiroshima prefecture, especially in Miyajima Island (where they're freshly made), and don't know what to buy as souvenirs for your family and friends back home.....buy these!!  They make the best souvenirs ever.  What's better than a 'souvenir' that you can eat (hehe!)....and your friends and family will love you for it! ;D

Hmmm, I wonder if these Momiji Manju are sold here.  It's probably difficult to import them in because of their relatively short shelf life. :'(

Friday, 23 June 2017

Acme Bar & Coffee @ Pavilion Elite

When the first outlet opened in The Troika (Persiaran KLCC), I had wanted to try but never gotten round to doing it until the latest Acme Bar & Coffee @ Pavilion Elite opened a few months ago.

So I chose this venue for my next meet-up with some friends.  I've never been to the one in Persiaran KLCC, so I don't know how the interior compares but it seems like they stuck to the same colour scheme of dark tones of black, brown and grey (from the photos I saw online).  I absolutely adored the alluring setting, warmth and romantic ambience of this one with beautiful fresh flowers and candles on the tables.

Loved the touch of greenery too at the entrance and the calming water fountain in the passageway leading into the cafe.  A popular spot to pose for photos amongst the green foliage, I'm sure.

For starters, we went with the Tuna Poke @ RM29 featuring layers of corn salsa, fresh avocado cubes and raw tuna cubes in a wafu vinaigrette.  It was finished with some crunchy tapioca and taro chips and super crisp deep-fried herbs for a bit of texture.

Eaten with a fresh squeeze of lime, I loved the appetiser for its refreshing and light nuances.  A great starter, no doubt, which succeeded in getting our appetites going for the dishes to follow.

For mains, we had our all-time favourite pizza of Aloha Pizzadillas @ RM33 filled with chunks of smoked turkey breast, pineapple, onion and green peppers with mozzarella cheese and a herb cream sauce.

The thin and crisp pizza aimed to please the young ones at the table...and it succeeded in that respect! ^_~

I appreciated that it came topped with lots of arugula for that little bit of added freshness.

Good enough for sharing between two persons (or three not-too-hungry people), the Sea-to-Land Sharing Platter @ RM99 was ideal for our small group.  The sharing platter serves as a great introduction to some of their main dishes by offering diners a chance to taste a bit of everything! ^.^

This sea-to-land platter starts with three types of protein consisting of lamb cutlets, blackened salmon and grilled lime chicken.  The blackened salmon, adequately seasoned with spices, was tender and moist.  For a non-lover of lamb, I found these lamb cutlets to be tender and tasty with none of that gamey flavour that I dislike.  Even the simple chicken breast was well executed with a superb lime seasoning and that nice grilled flavour with a tinge of tartness...loved it! :)

A fresh tomato salad, delicious corn salsa, crunchy asian slaw (of white and purple cabbage) and crispy garlic tortillas round up the other components of the platter.  The very refreshing and appetising corn salsa with juicy corn kernels, tiny cubes of tomato and green bell peppers, bits of olive and pomegranate seeds was the standout for me.

We also ordered a side dish of freshly fried Shoestring Fries @ RM15 which turned out pretty addictive with its finger-licking spiced seasoning that even the children couldn't resist.

To end on a sweet note, we had their most sought after dessert, the sizzling brownie, but this time a Sizzling Coconut Nangka Brownie @ RM19 served with a gula melaka sauce.

The coconut brownie with a nangka (jackfruit) ice cream arrived atop a hot plate.  The pouring of the gula melaka sauce will provide further sweetness to the downright oh-so-divine coconut brownie.  Although I didn't want to pour in all the gula melaka (for lesser sweetness) but, in the end, I had to as the sauce would sizzle and evaporate very quickly on the hot plate, so eating it immediately is of the essence.

I loved the contrast of the cold ice cream against the sizzling hot coconut brownie.  The gula melaka sauce was needed to lubricate the brownie which will develop a crusty bottom because of the hot plate.....so good! ^o^  If I were to just have the coconut brownie on its own, with its robust coconut flavour, I'd be greatly satisfied just the same.

For more desserts, you can head to the counter for a choice of their displayed cakes, other sweet offerings or petit-fours.

The drinks are quite expensive here (with most of them costing between RM15 - RM19), so we ordered only two to share (or you could just stick to water that's offered to mitigate your dinner bill!).  We only tried one coffee and that was their Iced Latte @ RM17.

The other was the Cranberry Lychee @ RM15 which was a sweet concoction of cranberry, pineapple juice, lychee and rose syrup.  Definitely for those who love their drinks sweet.  Looking at how expensive the drinks were, it didn't quite satisfy in the end.

My Personal Opinion

Although prices are on the higher end, especially the drinks, the place offers a good creative mix of local, western, Japanese, Thai and Mediterranean flavours.

More importantly, I did enjoy the food I had here which I found to be distinctively pleasurable and well executed.  The Sea-to-Land Platter is a great sharing platter that is sure to please with the grilled lime chicken and blackened salmon being my favourites.  Also, not-to-be-missed is the utterly divine Sizzling Coconut Nangka Brownie.

The romantic vibe of the place makes it a perfect setting to take your better half on date nights or for special occasions...or simply to have a good meal in a gorgeous environment.  Would I be back?  Certainly, without a shadow of a doubt! ^_~

Acme Bar & Coffee
Lot 3.100.00 Level 3
Pavilion Elite Kuala Lumpur
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2110 3373

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

My 2017 Ramadan Loot @ Pandan Indah

This year I started hitting my Ramadan trail a bit later than usual (a week and a half later to be exact) and that's because I was unfortunate enough to fall sick at the start of Ramadan...haiz! :'(  

Again, the first thing we went looking for this year was the utterly delicious and crispy Cucur Udang @ RM5 and I was glad to find the price unchanged for 3 years...yay!  What can I say, I've been hooked to these fried prawn fritters, served with kuah kacang (peanut sauce) or chilli sauce, from the very first time I tasted them.

We could have eaten this every day...but we shouldn't, of course, but we ate it enough times...hehe! :D  The stall owner now recognises us as I told him that his is the best cucur udang I've had.  Although it's called cucur udang, it was more like cucur bawang since there were hardly any prawns but at that price, there's no cause for complaint.

Nasi Lemak is my next favourite thing since I can't find them in the mornings for breakfast during the fasting month.  Unfortunately, this year we found only two stalls selling them at the bazaar.  I tried one stall....and that was it, I didn't need to try any other.  The stall is new and this was their first time here (when I asked). They come from a restaurant in Taman Dagang.

I was hooked on their Nasi Lemak Biasa (Plain Nasi Lemak) @ RM1 a packet from the get-go.  Although the packet of nasi lemak was very small (and you could finish it in a few spoonfuls), it did have a sizeable wedge of hard-boiled egg, a delicious sambal and some crispy, good tasting ikan bilis (fried anchovies).  In this day and age of ever increasing food prices, it's truly amazing to still find something for RM1! ^_^

I liked the nasi lemak so much, it was one of my most visited stalls this Ramadan.  I absolutely loved the Nasi Lemak Kerang @ RM5 (the cockles itself cost RM4).  This is not done sambal-style but more like rendang-style with the perfumy smell and taste of kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.

On another occasion, I had the Nasi Lemak with Ayam Goreng Berempah @ RM4.50 (the spiced fried chicken cost RM3.50 a piece).  This was a good tasting ayam goreng berempah.

Last year, we could hardly find any satay stalls...I think there were only two but this year there were at least 5 - 6 stalls.  We didn't know which ones will be good, so we just went for one that appealed to us visually.  The satay (chicken or beef) we bought was sold at RM0.70 a stick but it was just so-so.

We also found the same stall selling our much loved Fried Chicken Wantan @ RM2 for 5 pcs and Fried Popiah also @ RM2 for 5 pcs (I didn't think it was possible to find a kuih for under RM0.50 nowadays!).

I'm not sure why the fried popiah is cheaper this year (I remember buying it for RM0.70 per pc last year).  But then I only bought two last year, maybe this was a 'group' offer.  We also noticed that the kuih truck we patronised last year was a no-show this year.

The famous Tepung Pelita @ RM3 for 6 pcs from the same stall this year was a bit too sweet for me though the santan was thick and fragrant.  I think this will be the last year I'm buying this kuih as it has been getting sweeter by the year.

I saw a new stall selling Pulut Panggang @ RM0.50/pc but this ready-made "pulut" (glutinous rice), that has already been "panggang" (barbequed) over an open flame, was twiced cooked, fried again in a little oil on an iron plate.  This one tasted very nice as it had more of that charred flavour.

Mee Goreng @ RM3.50.....

...and Nasi Goreng Pattaya @ RM4.50 from the same stall last year though this was more of a nasi goreng kampung wrapped in omelette instead.  Just passable as tummy fillers.

This year, I tried some soup noodles.  The Bihun Sup @ RM4 hardly had any ingredients.....

...and the Mee Rebus also @ RM4 was very watery and tasted like a curry.  These were a total waste of money...and stomach space.

Then there was this truck doing a roaring business of Nasi Ayam Goreng Kunyit @ RM5.  There was a perpetual queue for this rice served with turmeric (kunyit) fried chicken and vegetables.  But the queue moves pretty fast as they've a well organised service line...one scoops the rice, another scoops the protein, one pour the black sauce and sambal and the final person collects the money.

Besides chicken, you can also opt for squid, Nasi Sotong Goreng Kunyit @ RM7.  The rice comes with vegetables of long beans, carrots and onions cooked by dropping them into the same hot oil used for frying the proteins.

There's also a prawn option, the Nasi Udang Goreng Kunyit @ RM7.50 and a beef option (which was chewy). The 3 options of chicken, squid and prawns were good but if I had to pick, it'd be the udang for it's crispiness and value-for-money with 5 pcs of good-sized prawns.  Only complaint is the rice could be of better quality.  The rice is finished with a drizzle of black sauce and a fresh sambal.

I didn't know how hot the fresh sambal would be so I asked for it to be packed separately only to realise later that I had to pay RM1 for it.  That was a blessing in disguise as the sambal was really, really fiery! O_o Although it set my mouth on fire, the rice wouldn't be the same nor taste as good without the sambal...so, bring on the heat! ;)  Although RM1 is a negligible sum to pay, I felt I was shortchanged.  I don't think it was right to charge me for the tiny container of sambal (which was good for 3 portions) since no sambal was poured into the 3 packets of rice I bought.  I just wanted it separated so that I can control how much spiciness I could tolerate.  If I already had sambal in the rice and asked for more sambal, at least then they have the right to ask me to pay for the extra sambal.  I suppose I could have reasoned with them regarding the charge but I didn't want to hold up the line nor cause a scene over a mere RM1!

I didn't realise until later (when I took note of the truck) that I was eating the popular Mat Rock Ayam Goreng Kunyit that operates a few food trucks in and around the city.  That means I can still eat this (after Ramadan) since they operate a restaurant near us.  But remember, if you don't want to pay extra for the sambal, make sure you don't ask for it to be packed separately.

This was just a small selection of my Ramadan 'loot' this year (you may wish to check out my loot in 2016 and 2015 in the links provided).  With just a few days before Ramadan comes to a close, many stalls have already called it a day (those that made enough money, I presume) and the bazaar is slowly winding down.  Looks like I'll see you next year then! ^o^

Monday, 19 June 2017

#ewew cooks Spam & Potato Hash with a Chinese Twist

In the western world, this dish would be called Spam & Potato Hash, a breakfast casserole cooked in a cast iron skillet.  Add an egg or two and you have a lovely breakfast dish to start off your morning.

But I don't have a cast iron skillet...and a good Spam & Potato Hash needs the high heat of a cast iron skillet to get them cubes of deliciousness well caramelised and crusty.  So, I took inspiration from this dish and put my spin on this popular breakfast staple and made Spam & Potato Hash with a Chinese Twist. ^.^

For this simple and easy-to-cook dish, all the ingredients you'll need are two potatoes, two eggs, half a can of luncheon meat (or spam) and a bunch of green beans.

You start by dicing the half can of spam into small cubes and pan-fry them in a non-stick pan until they're slightly browned on most sides.  You may lightly oil the pan although there's no necessity as the spam will ooze out oil when you fry them.

Next, you do the same with the diced potatoes by frying them in shallow oil until soft and browned.

Then, just heat some oil and crack two eggs directly into the pan.  Season with salt and pepper and stir them briskly around the pan, making sure that they're well browned with crispy edges.

Finally, saute the green beans that have been cut into 1-inch lengths in some oil.  Do not add any water as you don't want them to steam.  You want them to blister and develop a nice char (which will take a while).  Add some chopped garlic when the beans are almost done.

Once the french beans have softened, throw back in the earlier pre-cooked spam, potatoes and egg...and mix everything together.  Drizzle in enough oyster sauce until you're satisfied with the savouriness of the dish.

And here's my take on Spam & Potato Hash with a Chinese Twist that goes very well with steamed rice.

I don't think I've come across anyone cooking this dish (this way before), so maybe I can claim I created it....*wink wink*...which didn't take much doing actually! :P

I just threw in four of our favourite foodstuff into a pan and let it work its magic.  In fact, no magic needed when you have spam, eggs, potatoes....staples in any pantry.  You just need french beans...and voila....you have yourself a truly yummy one-dish meal that's complete with meat, eggs, carbs and veggie all-in-one.  Now this is a dish that will please the younglings, I bet! ^o^

And in case you have leftovers (which will be a rarity) but in the remote chance that you do, just toss them in with your leftover rice....and you got yourself a lovely fried rice.  I suppose you can substitute spam with ham in this dish but anything ham can do, spam can do better! ^_~

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