Friday, 31 October 2014

Millenium Eighty-Six @ Paramount Garden

The last time I've been to this coffee shop was (probably) about 2 years ago to try a supposedly legendary "ngau lam meen" (beef brisket noodles) that was highly recommended by a reputable food writer of the Star papers which turned out just 'so-so' for me.

Recently, I made a return trip to Restoran Millenium Eighty-Six @ Paramount Garden for a late breakfast. Parking is a breeze here as the coffee shop is not as crowded as the more well known O & S.  When I walked in, I was thinking about what I was going to eat and, taking a look around, I noticed that almost all the tables were ordering from one stall (located towards the back of the coffee shop).

You know the saying, "when in Rome, do like the Romans do"....and so, if you don't know what's good to eat, just follow the masses...and most of them seem to order the Fried Noodles, be it Hokkien or Cantonese style, including "Sang Har Meen" (Freshwater Prawn Noodles), Fish Head Noodles and Steamed Fish.  In fact, I didn't notice anyone having the beef brisket noodles :(

We went with an order of Fried Pan Mee 'Hokkien Style' @ RM13 (2 pax portion).  It is a cross between "Pan Mee" (a type of flat flour noodle) and "Hokkien Mee" ie. they use pan mee (as the noodles) and fry it "Hokkien Style".  The handmade noodles (from kneaded flour) had just the right texture, not too mushy, after being fried with pork, prawns, fish cake, "choy sum" (Chinese flowering cabbage) and Chinese round cabbage.  The black gravy may seem a bit much in the pic but it wasn't.  As you know, pan mee is nothing but a flour-based noodle and, as such, needs a lot of help in the 'flavour department' so that it doesn't taste bland.  Just stir the noodles around and, before you know, it will soak up all the saucy goodness and there won't be a drop left after you've finished eating.

This was one good 2-in-1 combo of "Pan Mee" cooked "Hokkien Mee" style and we were pleasantly surprised at how good it was.  If you like Pan Mee and Hokkien Mee, you're going to love this to bits....and the only bit missing...needs a little bit more "chee yau char" (fried pork lard bits) if you ask me!

If you love ginger (like me), you'll hail this ginger, garlic and bird's eye chilli dip with open arms...perfect to go with your Fried Pan Mee and also Steamed Fish Head!

Next up, I just had to order the Steamed Fish Head @ RM14 (1 pax portion) because the smell of rice wine was intoxicating when I first entered the restaurant (at first, I thought someone was selling "kai chau" aka rice wine chicken).  The Steamed Fish Head version here is not the usual one that's done with a soya sauce base.  Instead, the fish head pieces are steamed with cubes of silken tofu, shredded ginger, rice wine, and topped with a sprinkling of chopped spring onions and "daun sup" (Chinese celery) and (sometimes) it comes with "yin sai" (Chinese coriander) and sliced red chillies.

The rice wine (which was just right, not too intense) and the finely julienned ginger brought out the really fresh flavours of the fish head pieces.  They use "sek pan yue" (garoupa) and I wished there were more fleshy parts (but I know that's impossible since it's a fish head after all).

Some of the garoupa fish head I've eaten in the past comes with a tinge of fishiness but the ones here were extremely fresh and the ginger infused rice wine broth was good to the last drop!

Realising that their fish head was so fresh, I knew that I had to come back and try their fish head noodles and I did....but how that turned out was quite another story altogether.  On my next visit, I ordered one Fried Pan Mee and one "Yue Tao Mai" (Fish Head Bihun) with fried fish (since their fish head bihun also comes in the fresh fish version).  What I got was Fried Pan Mee with fried fish (instead of the usual pork and prawns) coz they associated my request for fried fish for my fish head noodles with the fried pan mee as well.  I thought that was an honest mistake...a miscommunication which I accepted.

However, my fish head bihun turned out to be Fried Fish Head (with Pan Mee instead) @ RM7.  I only realised that it was pan mee at the bottom after we had paid for the noodles.  I then decided to check with the stall owner if I had indeed ordered it correctly.  I told them that I ordered Yue Tao Mai and wouldn't that mean it comes with "mai fun" (bihun) and they said yes.  They admitted their mistake but asked me profusely to accept it (try it, you'll like it, they say).  I didn't have the heart to ask them to replace it.

Although I do like pan mee, I only like the spaghetti-shaped or fettuccine-shaped ones and not those hand torn ones which I find too thick (though theirs were quite thin) and doughy.  On hindsight, I should have asked for a replacement coz, after taking a mouthful, I realised I really didn't like it at all.  On seeing this, my husband ordered another bowl and told them to get it right this time.

Finally, my correct bowl of Fish Head Noodles @ RM7 arrived with thick rice vermicelli and fried fish head pieces.  The fish head noodles here is also different from the norm in that it doesn't come in a milky broth filled with salted vegetables, tomatoes and ginger.  Instead, it comes in a clear broth with "bayam" (spinach), yin sai and daun sup.  You also get the same fresh ginger, garlic and chillies dip with this.

If you like a broth that's ever so delicate and subtle in flavour, you'll definitely enjoy this version because the broth is so clear that many will find it too bland (but not me).  I really like the fact that the clear broth showcases the super fresh fish even more.  Of course, I ate up all the fish from the other discarded bowl as well (there were just 4 pcs after all...the more, the merrier)!

Although I was hoping that they would extend me a gesture (of a discount for my second bowl of noodles) since they screwed up my order in the first place but.....fat hopes!!  Hawkers these days are so focussed on making a profit that they forget all about courtesy and service....and that's really sad.

Among the many stalls here, there's also a chicken and a duck rice stall (2 separate stalls) which opens much later in the morning.  I decided to "tapau" (pack) this Roast Chicken Rice @ RM5 but it was just ordinary.

And so was the packed Braised Duck Rice ("lou ngap farn") @ RM6.  The duck was ok but the chilli dip didn't cut it for me.  This stall also sells other braised stuff like pig parts (like the head, ears and mouth, if you're into that kind of stuff...eww), tofu and eggs in a dark sauce.

On my last visit here, I noticed a Penang Lobak stall manned by an old lady (she's probably in her 80's).  You could see an old, discoloured and tattered newspaper cutting hanging proudly at her stall.  I assume she's famous for something (as I don't read Chinese) based on the newspaper article.  The yam cake looked nice and so I packed some home.  [#Note: She told me that neither her children nor her grandchildren want to carry on her 'trade' and, once she 'retires', that would be the end of the stall...which is a shame (but we see that happening so often now).  She actually retired some time ago but her customers kept asking her to come back.]

This was the Steamed Yam Cake @ RM3 (RM1.50 for a fairly large pc) that I packed.  This turned out to be one of the best yam cake I've had.  It was loaded with yam (and not flour) and was really soft.  Also, it came sprinkled with lots of dried shrimps and fried shallots...yum!

What took it over the edge for me was the chilli sauce though her "teem cheong" (sweet black sauce) was not too bad either.  The chilli sauce was very tangy (I think I tasted a hint of orange juice in the mix) and packed a punch!

My Personal Opinion

If you like things "ching" (very subtle in flavour) and fresh "sek pan yue" is on your list of favourite things to eat, then you should head here to either have it steamed in a rice wine broth or have them in a bowl of fish head noodles (fresh or fried version).

I absolutely loved the steamed fish and I may have just found a new fish head noodles that I really like!

The various fried noodles (by the same stall) are also very decent.  So, just come and order everything from this one stall, run by 3 guys (brothers?), and you won't be disappointed but they're not open for dinner though.

Also, don't forget the yam cake from the nice old it while you can before she 'retires'...for good!!

Restoran Millenium Eighty-Six
13 Jalan 20/22
Paramount Garden
46300 Petaling Jaya

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

#ewew cooks (Kim Gary Inspired) Borsch Soup

When I eat at Kim Gary, their set meals usually come with a soup and drink and the soup of choice (for me) has always been the Borsch Soup.  But this is not your typical Russian Borsch Soup which I understand is predominantly made with beetroot and served with sour cream (I googled).

Anyway, I still like this slightly tangy tomato-based soup with loads of vegetables.  The one I'm trying to replicate here is Kim Gary's version (or localised version, I presume)...I hope you like it!


10 pcs pork ribs
1 small carrot
1 stalk celery
1 large red onion
1/4 of a small cabbage
5 tbsp tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper


Trim off any excess fat on the pork ribs.
Dice up all the vegetables (I buy US celery and Australian tomatoes just because they keep longer in the fridge).


Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and sear your pork ribs for about 2 mins.  Once you get a nice colour on your ribs, flip them over and sear the other side for a further 2 mins.

Add in all your diced vegetables (except the cabbage) and sautéed for 1 - 2 mins.

You can now add the 2 1/2 cups of water.  Do not worry about the brown bits that are stuck to the bottom of your pan, coz once you deglaze your pan with water, the brown bits add further depth to your broth.

Once your soup comes up to the boiling point, turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 mins.

After that, add in your cabbage.  I add this last as cabbage takes a shorter time to soften than the other vegetables (but if you like your cabbage really soft, you can put in all your vegetables at one's up to you).  Simmer for a further 15 mins.

In the last 5 mins, add in 5 tbsp tomato sauce of your choice (feel free to add more if you want it more 'tomatoey').  I use Alce Nero Organic Tomato Sauce with Basil which I find is not as acidic as some tomato sauce out it comes with basil flavour...and we all know basil and tomato goes well together. 

Season your (almost) ready soup with salt and black pepper to taste.

This was Kim Gary's actual Borsch Soup.....which looked a bit more reddish!

And this was my attempt at making (Kim Gary's) Borsch Soup!  Mine was...close enough (in my books) and heartier as it was packed with a lot more ingredients.  This easy-to-make Borsch Soup is one you can make at home anytime of the day (or night)......and it just takes 30 mins (of simmering away)!
It's beautifully tangy, slightly sweet, it's warm and comforting.....and a welcomed companion on a cold, rainy day!

Serves 2 - 3 as a soup starter (or 1 as a light meal)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Just One Food - Soursop or Sweetsop?

I was at my neighbourhood morning market (the other day) when I chanced upon this fruit.....a fruit that I don't usually see selling much these days. 
Back in those days, in my aunty's "kampung" (village), you can find it growing abundantly on trees and we would, as a kid, pluck it off the trees and bury them in (uncooked) rice to hasten the ripening process.  Now, I have to pay RM3 for one.
I've always known this fruit as "ho mou lau lin" (direct translation: English durian) or otherwise known as "durian belanda" in Malay.
(Pic from Wikipedia)
All this while I thought it was called soursop in English until I googled it recently and most of the pics turned out like the ones above.  It has a somewhat spiny, prickly skin compared to the one I know.
(Pic from Wikipedia)
I soon realised that the one I've been eating is actually known a sweetsop or sugar apple in English (or buah nona in Malay).  The sweetsop (sometimes also called custard apple) is actually a relative of the soursop.  It is smaller in size and has no soft spikes.  Like the soursop, it has a sweet, delicious and creamy white flesh and black seeds.
(Pic courtesy of
My son loves to drink soursop juice but has never seen the fruit itself.  Why they call it soursop, when the flesh is sweet, baffles me.  Soursop is good as a drink, ice cream or sorbet.

So, when I bought this sweetsop from the market, I told him that this is the fruit of the soursop juice you like so much...I guess I was wrong!!  The juice that we've been drinking is probably soursop juice (though it tastes exactly like sweetsop) but the fruit I've been eating is definitely a sweetsop!
So, it looks like I've learned something new.....a soursop and a sweetsop is two different things...did you know?  (Or is it just me...not knowledgeable enough)  The thing I've been calling a soursop all this while was actually a sweetsop :D !!  I absolutely love to eat sweetsop and the only thing that's stopping me is it takes a bit of effort to eat it, but (then again), no gain, I suppose ;)
It's funny, how in our quest for food, we learn a thing or two along the way.....and that's wonderful.  I guess life is a journey of learning!

Soursop or Sweetsop....whatever you want to call it, I like them both :-)

Friday, 24 October 2014

Sitka @ Damansara Heights

Sitka @ Damansara Heights is an intimate, 40-seater neighbourhood restaurant situated in the 30-year old shop lots of Jalan Batai...

.....and, so the exterior (and surroundings) is not exactly aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, I must say (coz when my friends and I were there last Saturday, there was a lot of construction going on).
But, once inside, the interior exudes a casual yet edgy dining environment with a predominantly black (and slightly white) décor.  Ooo...I love baby's breath....and this jar of fresh baby's breath flowers (so simple and pretty) was a nice contrast to the black furniture and surroundings.
This restaurant is about combining traditional ingredients with modern's about preparing good food with fresh produce and it can't get any fresher than local produce (much like the market trend of farm-to-table concept, I guess).  As the ingredients (where possible) are sourced locally, eating here means we're supporting our local producers and small farms....and that's a good thing ;)

And since we were in a group and were sharing the food, we requested for individual plates and were given these.  I absolutely love these metal 'old school' and rustic (I remember eating off these type of plates when I was a kid.  In fact, my mother-in-law still have some these old-fashioned plates).

The service staff brings the menu to you once you're seated but, when you're ready to order, you do so at the counter (and pay there as well)...maybe they want to tempt you with their array of cakes at the counter :D!  This service concept may not sit well with some people but I think it's acceptable since they (currently) do not impose service charge or govt tax.

We started our lunch with an order of salad, the Mango with Charred Red Onion @ RM20 with an additional 63-degree egg @ RM4.  [#Tip: A 63 degree egg is an egg cooked in its shell in a water bath that is kept at a constant 63 degrees Celcius for about an hour.]  This salad came with mango cubes, charred red onions, baby spinach, chopped red chillies and couscous, and some fresh herbs of cilantro and green onions.  Prick the yolk and the flawlessly cooked 63-degree egg will ooze a creamy dimension to your crisp salad.

The dressing is so light and subtle, my friends couldn't even taste any dressing.  This will appear very bland in taste for those who like big bold flavours but heavenly to those who like the fresh ingredients (to stand out) with minimal dressing.  Unfortunately, I was the only one who enjoyed this and I practically had to eat the whole salad by myself (I've been wanting to try couscous for a while now and, I must say, I liked it).  [#Note: I probably chose a salad with the least 'unfamiliar' ingredients (like couscous), coz the other salads have more funky stuff like beetroot, hummus, millet, quinoa that we're not used to eating...what to do, we've hardly seen or eaten these ingredients (what we call salads here are just a bunch of lettuce thrown together).]
The Fish Tacos @ RM21 came with a piece of tempura coated, fried local fish fillet with apple slaw, thinly sliced radish and shredded purple cabbage, in a smoked red pepper aioli (which resembled and tasted quite similar to cocktail sauce), and served in a soft taco shell with a side of salad.
Just hold the taco with your hands and take a bite of everything...the crispy tempura fish, coupled with the crunchy apple, radish and cabbage, within a soft, fresh, homemade tortilla and creamy aioli makes it a helluva good bite!  [#Note: They also have beef, lamb and mushroom tacos.]
This dish was served with a side salad (that looked more familiar) of shredded iceberg lettuce, very fine shreds of carrot, some mango cubes, couscous and a pc of roasted beet on top (I think coz I didn't eat it).  I'm not sure if there was any dressing on the salad and (if there was) it was so light until you couldn't taste it at all or figure out what the dressing was.

We sampled the Buttermilk Fried Chicken @ RM23 next which was also served with a side salad.  The half spring chicken (cut into 2 pcs), seasoned with honey and thyme, was probably soaked in buttermilk (which helped tenderise the chicken) before deep frying.

You can definitely taste the honey and thyme in the battered chicken.  The fragrance of the thyme and sweetness of the honey made it taste really good and flavourful.  The exterior of the chicken was fried till very crunchy while the inside remained tender and moist.  However, I found the crunchy batter a bit hard (and greasy but forgivable...what do you expect, it's fried chicken after all) but the batter didn't adhere very well to the was falling apart as we were cutting into the chicken.

It was also served with a side salad.
We also ordered the Steamed Bao Platter @ RM30 which consisted of 3 "baos" (steamed buns), one with soft shell crab, the other with fried chicken and the final one with Korean brisket.

This first one was a soft shell crab bao with pickled cucumber, cilantro and tamarind sauce.  Although most reviews rave about this one, the taste of the soft shell crab didn't quite come through (for me) + the battered crab wasn't crispy :(

The second was a fried chicken bao with shredded purple cabbage, green onion and sriracha aioli.  This is similar in taste to our Fried Chicken order earlier.  The texture (crunchiness of the fried chicken and cabbage) and taste (of the spicy sriracha aioli) complemented each other well and made this the best tasting one of the 3 (in my opinion).

The last one was a Korean brisket bao with green onion and kimchi.  The beef brisket was tender and the kimchi provided a spicy-sourish component to the dish.

I've seen some reviews that say the desserts here (cakes and pastries) are really good, so we made sure we left some stomach space for them.  My friends and I tried 2 of them but I wasn't super impressed though.

The first one was the Raspberry Pound Cake @ RM12.  It's like a butter cake, with a crumble on top, plus raspberries infused in between the cake.  It was ok although I found the texture of the cake to be a bit crumbly.

The other cake we tried was the Chocolate Mousse Meringue with Raspberries @ RM15.  I certainly liked this better than the other cake.  The raspberries brought a zesty-tangy flavour to the somewhat rich chocolate layers with a crunch and sweetness from the meringue on the side.  Only disappointment was the chocolate layer on was kinda 'elastic' (with a consistency like chewing gum) and you can't quite cut through it with a fork.

The drinks we ordered for our lunch were pretty decent.

Tea Soda @ RM10 (Top Left)
Iced Latte @ RM11 (Bottom Left)
Iced Mocha @ RM12 (Top Right)
Hot Cappuccino @ RM10 (Bottom Right)
My Personal Opinion

Overall, the food is good but different.  When I say different, I mean it's not the usual fare we find at most western-type eateries (where flavours have been 'localised', so to speak).  I especially liked the salads and tacos...and their dinner menu sounds really interesting!  [#Note: The restaurant is not open for dinner (it closes at 6pm daily) but their dinner service (which they aptly refer to as Test Kitchen) is available on Fridays and Saturdays.]

If you want something that's not the run-of-the-mill western-type food, you can certainly give this restaurant a try.  It will certainly appeal to those looking for healthy alternatives and those who appreciate fresh ingredients, clean taste without 'over-the-top' punchy flavours =)

This place is worth a visit....coz, at the same time, you'll be supporting sustainable food practices and local producers!

Sitka Restaurant
8-5 Jalan Batai
Damansara Heights
50490 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2011 1117

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