Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

IMG_3323 bamboo charcoal bread

So proud of my wife on her first attempt of the homemade bamboo charcoal bread!

Health benefits aside, the savoury bread is soft and slightly moist with a hint of sweetness that goes perfectly well with a freshly-brewed Nescafe Gold cuppa.

Now that’s what I call, a delightful Friday morning bliss.

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What a day to start the week as I received an authentic Japanese Yoku Moku box of confectionery from a Wesley Methodist Church member to thank me for the Cantata photos I took in Sibu during last Christmas. Thank you, my friend.

Living up to its reputation, the first piece of the Pleine lune cookie I tasted melted in my mouth, :-).

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Last Tuesday evening I drove across the border to Seria to visit my photographer friend Jan Shim. As I was craving for Japanese food, we agreed to rendezvous at the popular Japanese eatery Kaizen Sushi.

2009.11.11 048 As the eatery is situated on the 1st floor, lanterns are hung down from the staircase ceiling.

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A shot at the sushi train with focus on the backdrop.

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Jan ordered sashimi.

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I ordered ebi tempura.

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Tori teri don.

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Another fav of mine – softshell crab tempura.

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Salmon skin.

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The top-notch Bruneian photographer was definitely enjoying the dinner, :p.

Overall we had a good time with Gavin joining us for drinks. What did we talk about throughout dinner? Photography, of course! :p

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Generally I don’t review on eateries simply because there are already so many good food writers out there, :).

However being a food enthusiast, I sometimes find hard to resist not to write when dining becomes such a pleasant experience.

My recent Brunei trip (Aug 12-14).

Among Bruneians, Excapade Sushi is a popular Japanese food establishment with a number of outlets. It is a fact that many Mirians travel across the border just to satisfy their cravings for Japanese cuisines at its Kuala Belait branch.

When my sis-in-law informed me about Excapade Sushi’s latest outlet at Kiulap 2, it took little persuasion to have dinner there because I am a great fan of Japanese food, :).

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The frontage is cosy and pleasing to the eye.

As a paying patron, I take into account the following criteria when rating any eatery: food, service, interior layout, ambience and price. For instance, when the food is awesome but the service is poor, I would still give it a lower rating. For easy marking, I always like to apply the Michelin Guide:

One Star - A very good restaurant in its category
Two Stars – Excellent cooking, worth a detour
Three Stars – Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey

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My friend Chea ordered the food with the waitress writing on a Wi-fi PDA. I found that this expedited the ordering process from table to kitchen.

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Hot water is conveniently available from the tap at the Sushi train that adjoins our table. Two thumbs up for form and function!

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Small detail matters; the tissue box is hidden under our dining table to free clutter on table top! What a creative way!

What we ordered

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Within five minutes after our order, the Ebi Tempura arrived! I’m impressed! Must be the working of Wi-fi PDA, and the efficient chefs of course! The prawns were crispy and not over-fried. (B$10)

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Next came the Salmon Sashimi – no need for me to tell you how delicious it was! Just let your eyes feast at the photo, haha! (B$15)

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I have a weakness for Nama Kani Tempura aka soft shell crabs. It’s easier to eat if you split it into two. (B$10)

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I ordered these Sushi rolls on a red plate. (B$3.80)

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The grilled Shishamo was flavoursome and exciting. (B$4)

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Beef Teppanyaki – the beef was chunky and succulent, and complemented the fresh vegetables beautifully. (B$10)

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What a feast – we had to be insane to order so much food!

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At the rear was the open concept kitchen. The exhaust ventilation was so effective that my sensitive nose couldn’t smell any fumes.

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Here we were, sitting at the first table from the entrance. You can see beauty in the simplicity of the Zen-themed design where the lights are bright enough and the walls decorated with contemporary art drawings.

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Some of the friendly staff posing for a snap.

My verdict:
Over the years I have patronized three out of the five outlets of Excapade Sushi and I must say I had the best time at their latest restaurant. The ambience was nice with the tables and seats ideally arranged for maximum capacity without compromising privacy. I found our conversation was not obtrusive to our neighbouring table of patrons and vice versa. How should I describe? I felt good while dining and that good feeling came from 1) comfortable seating, 2) the service was attentive without being overly obsequious and 3) the food was reasonably good, the servings were adequate. In the end, we had to struggle to finish the food!

Chea beat me to the cashier (thanks my friend for the dinner)! I took a look at the bill – total B$51.10 after membership discount of 10%. That was a sumptuous meal for three. Was it full value for money? A definite yes and I would be going back again in the future. I won’t hesitate to recommend it to people who are looking for a good night out without having to dig deep into their pockets.

I would give Excapade Sushi Kiulap 2 a Michelin One Star, :).

Excapade Sushi
Unit 1 & 2, Block A, Regency Square
Kg. Kiulap, Bandar Seri Begawan
Tel +673 2234011, Hp +673 8759866
Opens daily 11:00am – 2:30pm, 6:00pm – 10:30pm

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An informal dinner was hosted at a leading hotel by the LCEC (Local Church Executive Committee) of Gan En Church when the SCAC President Rev. Dr. Su Chii Ann arrived in Miri on last Saturday evening.

Among those who also present were LCEC members and Pastor Chan Jing Mei of Tudan Methodist Church, Ting Kong Yu the Lay Leader of Miri District Methodist Churches and Rev. Esther Law, District Superintendent of Miri District Methodist Churches.

On the following day, President Rev. Dr. Su’s itinerary was to officiate the groundbreaking ceremony of Gan En Church’s proposed building extension.

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Group photo taken at the hotel’s restaurant.

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2009.06.03 104b
Nostalgia swept over us as my wife and I recently patronized this old Liang Yew coffeeshop which is situated opposite Masland Methodist Church Sibu. The last time we were there for their famous kolo mee was in the 80s. Nothing much has changed; except the boss and I have aged, :).

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2009.05.26 009.a
Bak Chang is meat rice dumpling in the Hokkien dialect.

Have you ever seen a RM3.50 bak chang in Miri? Well I saw it (see photo) at the coffeeshop near my office yesterday morning. Curious, I asked why the price was such and the waitress justified by saying it was bigger than the normal ones and stuffed with salty duck egg.  Ah, I was not convinced.

Gone are the days when bak changs were available just once a year. We could only enjoy zongzi on the days before the Duanwu Jie. I can still remember Mom buying lotus leaves and straws a couple of weeks beforehand. Mom would always wrapped two versions; the meat and the red beans. As kids we loved to eat the red beans type by dipping it into a bowl of white sugar. Such thrilling feeling now remains a distant memory (and yes, my two sons won’t be able to understand it) as rice dumplings are available everyday in the market, haha!

During my early working years in Brunei, it dawned upon me that the Cantonese and the Hokkiens are master chefs when it comes to making bak chang. Even as I write now my taste buds begin to crave for Mrs. Tan’s (my Brunei buddy’s wife) homemade rice dumplings filled with skinless mung beans, mushroom slice, salted duck egg, chestnut, dried shrimps and belly pork. As to date, I have yet to savour a more mouthwatering bak chang better than hers!

Oh yes, just in case you want to know, Duanwu Jie is tomorrow (Thu, May 28). It’s always on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese Lunar calendar. Have a nice dinner tomorrow night if you are celebrating, :).

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On Easter morning we attended the church service at Bukit Panjang (very near the famous Trinity Theological College). The English service is housed in an auditorium (seating capacity 300-400 pax, my personal guesstimate) and therefore the acoustics are excellent. The Pastor-in-charge, Rev. Poh Heow Lee was very warm in welcoming us.  Being an Easter Sunday, there was a special presentation by three children (narration) and choir accompaniment. Yes, they were awesome, :).

This photo was taken without a flash. Focal length – 28mm. Exposure time – 1/40s. Aperture F2.8. ISO 200. WB – Auto. Canon EOS 50D.

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We also met up with my wife’s friend from Sibu (working in Singapore for years now) for lunch at Swensen’s in West Mall, Bukit Batok. They have known each other since their student days in Manchester, UK.

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Both of them ordered Pan Fried Salmon. My wife commented that it tasted mediocre and a bit on the dry side. The restaurant’s kitchen exhaust system was bad and the smell of “fried oil” was everywhere. The waiter who attended to our table also didn’t know what the “Soup of the day” was and had to refer when I asked him. But I was surprised at the good number of patrons they had – maybe the selling point lies in its reasonable pricing? But I can safely say it would be our first and last visit to that outlet.

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I like this photo very much, :). Taken at my sister’s place (foyer entrance).

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Outside the box block. Hardly any blue sky on that morning.

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This photo was taken along the walkway to the swimming pool. I love the natural colours in the background!

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Lunch at Lavender’s (Senai Airport) on the day returning to Miri.

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My personal experience with food eateries at Malaysian airports has not been encouraging. I still remember being “slaughtered” by a small kiosk operator at KLIA selling teh tarik at RM5 for a small cup. Comparing apple with apple, Lavender Cake and Bistro Cafe deserves much praise – it’s a success story from Johore! I find that the prices are very reasonable though the cafe is located at airport premises.

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I ordered this Half-Spring Chicken. Cost – RM11.90. Well-marinated, crispy on the outside and juicy inside – this was one of the best fried chicken I ever tasted! Highly recommended for those who love fried foods, :).

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Ops, I hope the above pic doesn’t make you crave for food now, :).

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Over the Easter weekend my wife and I took a short break in Singapore. We managed to meet up with our old friends HP and his wife for lunch. HP recommended dim sum at Crystal Jade Palace, Ngee Ann City. We were not disappointed!

Before lunch, I visited my latest favourite shop to pick up some items. I was amazed that a camera shop consistently has a traffic flow of customers like what a mini-mart has!

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We arrived at Ngee Ann City before 12:30pm. There was a small crowd outside the restaurant on queue. I went to take a number. HP and his wife arrived shortly thereafter. All in all, we waited for about 40 mins for a table. But it was worth every sec!

HP and his wife.

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The ladies (my sis, my wife and HP’s wife).

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I haven’t been taking pictures of food dishes for some time now. This round I found it difficult to resist. Though I’m not a food blogger, I shall try my best to describe how I felt about the food, :). Please feel free to comment on what I’ve posted, :).

The Appetizer – pickles!

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BBQ Pork Pastry – It was a delight to look at as well as savory when I sank my first bite into the small, fluffy puff. Very delicious!

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Century Egg with Meat Congee. Very good – not too watery, not too salty. A dash of sesame oil was aptly added.

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Chee Cheong Fun with Prawns – This was by far the best steamed rice rolls I’ve ever tasted! The texture was smooth and the thickness was just right. The sauce was mild yet tasteful. No overcooked prawns (this is a tricky part when cooking prawns).

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Steamed Minced Pork Dumpling (Shanghai-style) – Aka Xiao Long Bao, it was the best I’ve ever tasted (also the smallest size). The most special part was the broth inside the dumpling; I had to be careful not to “burn” my tongue as I bit into it. The feeling? It was sensational to taste the explosive combination of broth, skin and filling! No wonder I couldn’t take a clear picture of it after tasting, haha!

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Steamed Pork Dumplings “Siew Mai” – HP’s wife is an expert when it comes to fine dining. She seems to know what dishes to order! Again the dumplings overwhelmed me – I was surprised it was juicy inside because I’ve never tasted anything like it before! 100 marks!

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Steamed Assorted Mushroom Dumpling – This was new for me. Very delicious!

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Deep Fried Yam Dumpling – My wife’s favourite! Ichiban!

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Roast Pork - While we were waiting for a table, I cast my eyes at the roast meats display. No way could I resist not ordering the roast pork! We were not disppointed – it was the perfect cut and roast; not too lean, not too fat.

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Though the queues may be long during lunch or dining hours, I still say it is worthwhile waiting. On top of that, the service was good and the ambience was nice. Unlike in many Chinese restaurants, we couldn’t smell the “fried oil floating in the air” as we enjoyed our meal. Most of all, the price was reasonable. Of the 17 dishes and Chinese tea we ordered, the bill came up to less than S$100!

Thanks to HP and his wife for the lovely lunch treat!

On a personal note, if I could I would give Crystal Jade Palace a “Michelin” 1 Star, :).

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chap goh meh + birthday

Today is Chap Goh Mei and also the 21st birthday of our youngest son. We had a double celebration with a simple and happy meal at home.

Earlier in the morning I went to buy roast duck from my favourite shop in Pelita Commercial Centre. I’ve been a loyal customer of Seng Kee for the past ten years.

I like this out-of-focus and over-exposed image, xD. No need to be perfect all the time, haha!

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What about this one to whet your appetite? Making you drool? You must be hungry now…

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The boss was so busy with customers queuing up that he ignored me taking the pics. I would highly recommend this shop; it’s also very popular among Bruneians too. The people are friendly; the pricing is fair and the meats are juicy, tender and well-caramelized.

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I like this B & W photo of the boss in action! xD

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Happy birthday Abel! We love you so much! May God bless and keep you always! Abel was amused by the size of the birthday cake, xD.

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For tonight’s meal, the menu was:

Traditional birthday Mee Suah with hard boiled eggs and chicken soup
Boneless Roast Duck
Broccoli with seafood and button mushrooms
Stewed duck wings with feet
Fried Kway Tiaw

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So how was your Chap Goh Meh? Love to hear from you! xD

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