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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Monthly Archives / June 2013

Last weekend I attended the 2013 Shell Helix D-Academy defensive driving course, a program that involves a lot of practicals and not just the typical “drive around the city and explain what you see” kinda deal.

The 1-day program is separated into classroom and several practical sessions. I just want to share a little on what I learned and urge that if you are a daily driver, try to get yourself into one of these, or any defensive driving classes for that matter in the interest of self improvement. No matter how well we think we are as a driver (and that everyone else is an idiot on the road), there’re always things we can learn when it comes to  safer driving.

Shell Helix D-Academy defensive driving course at MAEPS
Shell Helix D-Academy defensive driving course at MAEPS

In the classroom session conducted by Harvinder Singh of Paultan.org, we were taught the proper seating positions, ways to avoid obstacles, and technologies such as ABS, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), and even safety tips for female drivers.

During the practical, we covered several topics:

Seating Position: the correct seating position is one that allows you to rest the wrist on the top of the steering wheel while seated relatively upright, and be able to depress the brake fully while not having your leg fully straighten. Adjust the steering wheel and/or the seat to achieve this.

Steering Wheel Position: always keep the hands on 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock position, and use the hand-over-hand method while turning the wheels. This will ensure the fastest response in obstacle avoidance while maintaining proper control at all time.

Hyundai Veloster and i10 are among the cars we used
Hyundai Veloster and i10 are among the cars we used

Understeering and Oversteering: In this two part practical, we learned how to handle the front-wheel drive car (in this case, the Hyundai i10) while understeering or oversteering incidences occur. For the most part, taking the foot off the gas and blipping the brakes a little while steering to the right direction will fix the problem. We also tried the same exercised with the Elantra and experienced how the ESC system helps in these situations.

Obstacle Avoidance: Drive the car at a certain speed, and make a quick left and right turn to avoid obstacle on the road (a cone in this case), this exercise demonstrated the advantage of proper steering method to the fullest extend.

Steering During Emergency Brake: In this exercise, we had to apply the brake fully while avoiding the obstacle. This showcases that modern cars equipped with ABS and its ability to steer under hard braking. The video above is a failed attempt (slow steering response)

Slalom Course: Finally, a slalom course that allowed us to put everything that we learned into use. We did a practice run and a couple timed run on the Hyundai Veloster. Most everyone managed to improve their time on the second run, it was like a mini Gymkhana competition, it was fun!

At the end of the day, we each received a completion certificate and a bottle of 4 liter Shell Helix Ultra 5W-40 fully synthetic engine oil. I’d say that was a very fruitful Saturday!

__________________________

with Charly Boorman, Freedom Riders Asia. I won a LEGO set too

In a separate event by Shell Lubricants division a couple months ago, I got to meet the host of Freedom Riders Asia, Charley Brooman, live in person. The six episod program takes the audience across 6 different countries in Asia while on two wheels. The countries are Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Vietnam and Thailand.

The program airs on STAR Sports channel.

The name Kampachi is not foreign to fans of Japanese cuisine in Malaysia, especially to those who gravitates towards the higher end establishments. Starting as restaurants within Equatorial hotels, the Kampachi brand now spread outside from its confine and can be found at several other locations.

The latest branch being at Plaza 33 in Petaling Jaya, and we were lucky enough to to sample the food and drinks at this fine restaurant a couple weeks ago in a private food review session with a few other like minded bloggers.

Kampachi at Jaya 33, check out the sake ball
Kampachi at Jaya 33, check out the sake ball

Right by the side of the restaurant main door hung a ball of something that can be easily assumed as a hive of geometrically evolved species of bee, but is in fact, a “sake ball”. A ball made of cedar twigs traditionally hung over the door of sake breweries to signify new arrival of (high quality) sake to customers.

Appropriate here as Kampachi prides itself in stocking one of the largest selections of Japanese sake, including some hard to find “cult” sakes from exceptional breweries that are made available in Malaysia exclusively by Kampachi.

open kitchen concept, with plenty of wine and sake
open kitchen concept, with plenty of wine and sake

Kampachi has certainly spent a lot of effort in creating a very striking interior of the 198 person capacity  restaurant. A lot of traditional Japanese materials, such Japanese paper, imported floor and wall tiles, and more are applied in a contemporary way to make up a sophisticated and modern look.

I especially like the bamboo seating pods that can seat maybe up to 5-6 person that can be rotated for added privacy.

In the interest of not bothering paying customers with camera flash & loud chatters, we had the session in one of the three private rooms. Interestingly, these rooms come with a private sushi kitchen of sort, concealed by a movable panel that kinda reminds me of those cabinets that conceal TVs in the 80s.

shima aji sashimi (raw striped jack)
shima aji sashimi (raw striped jack)

Our review session was of the omakase meal (priced at RM 220), which means “I’ll leave it to you”, or degustation menu in Japanese. Typically you get the freshest seasonal ingredients and chef’s favourite dishes this way.

Our first dish was the Shima Aji Sashimi, or raw Striped Jack.

Chef Looi, who carved the fish right before our eyes behind that private kitchen, told us that the very fish beautifully presented to us was still in Japan the very same morning.

To describe the fish as merely “fresh” would be an understatement. I can’t criticise any aspect of the sashimi – taste, fat content, and visual appeal were all simply spot on.

the sashimi, shake kawa salad (green vege with crispy salmon skin & salmon roe)
the sashimi, shake kawa salad (green vege with crispy salmon skin & salmon roe)

Cold sake is dispense from a special holder that keeps ice separate as to not dilute the drinks. While the mechanism is visually similar to milking a cow, you don’t need to squeeze or suck, just a gentle tap will do.

Our second dish was Shake Kawa Salad, green vegetable with crispy salmon skin and salmon roe. I particularly like the very thinly sliced crispy salmon skin, made available from the 2-3 whole salmon consumed here each day.

wagyu teppanyaki (grilled Australian wagyu beef)
wagyu teppanyaki (grilled Australian wagyu beef)

Before continuing with more seafood, we were served with Wagyu Teppanyaki, the beef sourced from Australia, grilled medium rare, and served with the unique Kampachi truffle sauce.

The sauce is a blend of Tosa Shoyu and mushroom broth with a hint of black truffle and olive oil. I usually don’t have my beef with any condiment, but this sauce managed to make it just that much better. My only complain is that they don’t sell the sauce in bottles.

unfiltered sake, ankimo beko an (pan-seared anglerfish liver with simmered radish)
unfiltered sake, ankimo beko an (pan-seared angler fish liver with simmered radish)

In French cuisine, foie gras often signifies luxury, and in Japanese food, the equivalent would be Angler fish liver, or Ankimo Beko An.

The liver makes up quite a large part of the fish, has a very rich texture. Simmered radish is used to expertly mask any fishy taste the liver might carry to balance this unique ingredient. This was the 3rd time I had ankimo, first was in Vietnam, and second at Hokkaido Ichiba restaurant.

Following the cold sake, we were served warm, unfiltered sake. The milky color is pretty unique for usually clear looking sake, and yet was definitely smooth and leave a feeling of warmth and comfort in the stomach.

aburi sushi (seared sushi) - anago (conger eel), shake harasu (salmon belly), hotate (scallop)
aburi sushi (seared sushi) – anago (conger eel), shake harasu (salmon belly), hotate (scallop)
miso soup with striped jack bones

What’s a omakase dinner without sushi?

Three types of Aburi Sushi (seared sushi) were chosen for the night – Anago (conger eel), Shake Harasu (salmon belly), and Hotate (scallop). Each were seared just very lightly and still partially raw at the bottom, the first time I tried sushi prepared this way and I liked it.

Miso soup was made with the bones from our first dish, and the striped jack definitely contributed to the extra sophistication in the soup that would have been quite boring otherwise.

garlic fried rice, Japanese peach, and ciki
garlic fried rice, Japanese peach, and ciki enjoy the fruits

We specially asked for garlic fried rice just cause Ciki needed some carb for her half marathon preparation, and I was glad to go along with one as well. Most definitely the best garlic fried rice I’ve had, it’s hard to explain, there weren’t any magical ingredients, just plain old rice, garlic, eggs, and such. Execution was the key, great job by the chefs.

Instead of fancy desserts, we had a couple slices of Japanese peach.

These fruits were priced at RM 66 per peach, and “WHAT?!!!??” was my initial reaction. Then I took a bite, and it was a realization and instant understanding on why and how a fruit barely the size of my fist can cost more than 4 hours of solid domestic housework. You get what you paid for, it was excellent and now I’m staring at this piece of apple on my desk while writing this and dreading it.

Haze, KY, and our parting drinks - sake bomb
Haze, KY, and our parting drinks – sake bomb

As for drinks, we started out with the pink colored cocktail – Blushing Maiko (trainee Geisha) to get us started prior to dinner.

After the cold and warm sake, it was a mixture of green tea with Hakushu Single Malt Whisky, interpretation of Baileys the Japanese way perhaps?

We concluded the night with Sake Bomb – shot glasses of sake lined up atop beer glasses and knocked down with Domino effects, it was quite a show and I suspect the bartender has done this a hundred times probably with water and tea before perfecting the skill. We were well impressed, and of course, had one for the road.

It was a great dinner, and I want to go back.

P/S: The famous Kampachi Sunday Buffet is back and now available exclusively at the Plaza 33 outlet, priced at RM 118++ for adults and RM 68++ for children below 10.

Map to Jaya 33, Petaling Jaya

Address:
Kampachi
P1-02, First Floor
Plaza 33 
Jalan Kemajuan, Seksyen 13
Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.10988, 101.63787
Tel : 03-7931 6938
Emailkampachi@equatorial.com
Hours: 12-3pm  for lunch, 6-11pm for dinner

If you’ve been following my instagram or facebook page, you’ll know that Imbi morning market is fast becoming one of my favourite breakfast places lately.

Imbi market, while situated just off Jalan Imbi, is actually officially named Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang by DBKL. The place is a patch of land seemingly stuck in a time capsule, oblivious to the surrounding development that makes up the rest of the golden triangle area.

Ah Weng Koh at Imbi market (Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang)
Ah Weng Koh at Imbi market (Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang)

There are quite a few hawker stalls and coffee shops/shacks within Imbi market, almost all operates from as early as seven in the morning till almost noon. It is a breakfast and brunch place, trying to catch lunch by 12:30 pm here and you won’t be terribly lucky, I’ve tried.

The busiest place at the whole market is right at Ah Weng Koh Hainan Tea.

one of the best Hainanese tea there is
one of the best Hainanese tea, Malaysian style breakfast with egg, bread, and coffee/tea

Finding an empty table here can sometimes be quite a challenge, and table sharing is a norm. Once you’re seated, wave frantically and hopefully one of the two or three serves will notice and take your orders.

If it’s your first time, try their signature Hainanese tea, you can have it either hot or cold and neither version would disappoint. The milk tea is well smooth and full of flavor, with a layer of tiny bubbles on top that make it looks as pleasing as it tastes. Those foam doesn’t just belong to cappuccino I guess.

have your  bread steamed or toast, and crack the eggs yourself
have your  bread steamed or toast, and crack the eggs yourself

Other than drinks, they also serve classic Malaysian breakfasts of boiled eggs and bread. The eggs come in a big stainless steel cup with hot water, and if you want it half boiled, fish them out after 5 minutes. Want it a little more cooked? Just wait for an additional 1-2 minutes.

As for bread, you can choose from Bengali bread or normal buns and have them either steamed or toasted. A slice of frozen butter and some kaya accompanies is served as a side for steamed bread, but already applied for toast.

check out my helmet hair
check out my helmet hair, cheers!

With the current development of KL International Financial District, it is unsure that Imbi market will be left untouched in it’s current form. For now, the place is still happily buzzing along in the mornings while construction work is being done a stone’s throw away.

I hope this place stays.

map to Imbi Market (Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang)

Address:
Ah Weng Koh Hainan Tea
Imbi Market (Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang)
Jalan Melati, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.14340, 101.71664
Hours: breakfast and brunch

A couple weeks ago we were invited to have a food review session at KL Hilton’s Graze, the new restaurant that take over the spot previously held by Senses.

While Graze unmistakeably exudes the same class and standard fitting for the Hilton name, the restaurant is now a lot more approachable to common people with its unpretentious setting and more rational price tags.

Graze at Hilton, taking over Senses, chef Michael Elfwing
Graze at Hilton, taking over Senses, chef Michael Elfwing

Senses enjoyed a pretty successful tenure under Chef Michael Elfwing, but over the years it sort of evolved into a restaurant where most only go there for special occasions. The molecular gastronomy dishes were great, but the cost of ingredients often mean higher price tag on the menu.

At Graze, the menu comprises of classic Western dishes that emphasize on fresh ingredients and seasonal produce. Chicken liver parfait instead of foie gras and suddenly it’s RM 28 instead of some RM 60+. Dishes here are meant for sharing as well, and the atmosphere of a warm and casual group dinner is much encouraged. There is no need to play dress up either.

bread, calamari fritti, smooth chicken liver parfait
bread, calamari fritti, smooth chicken liver parfait

We sampled quite a selection of appetizers and main dishes for the session, and in the interest of readability I’m going to just list them here.

Calamari Fritti – flash fried squid (RM 28). Crispy on the outside while fresh and juicy inside, perfect with the accompanying mayo that is slightly tangy.  Goes well with wine, but I wished we had beer for this.

Smooth Chicken Liver Parfait (RM 28). Really the best chicken pate I tried, it’s called a parfait here thanks to the layer of fat surrounding the liver, served with caramelized apple jam and toasted baguette.

mimolette cheese souffle with raisins & pine nuts, pissaladiere tart with olives and anchovies
mimolette cheese soufflé with raisins & pine nuts, pissaladiere tart with olives and anchovies

Mimolette Cheese Soufflé with Raisins & Pine Nuts (RM 28). Melt in your mouth goodness. Gotta eat this within 5-10 minutes while it’s all puffed up and fluffy.

Pissaladiere Tart with Olives and Anchovies (RM 28). Very similar to pizzas except the absence of tomatoes in the list of ingredients. Great for sharing, and I like the fact that care is taken in the arrangement of raisins to ensure there’s one in every slice.

onion soup, petit baguette layered with gruyere cheese, goat cheese beignets with sweet millet & garden salad
onion soup, petit baguette layered with gruyere cheese,
goat’s cheese beignets with sweet millet & garden salad

Onion Soup, Petit Baguette layered with Gruyère Cheese (RM 18). One of the three choices of  soups at Graze, rich, creamy, and with the proper amount of cheese. Can’t find fault with this.

Goat’s Cheese Beignets with Sweet Millet & Garden Salad (RM 25) – The texture is almost not entirely unlike cream puff, but instead of cream this oozes out goat’s cheese instead. Very rich and packs a punch to the taste bud, the garden salad barely enough to neutralize those cheesy taste, I’m not complaining at all.

steak tartare with hand cut fries, onion jam, tasted sour dough bread
steak tartare with hand cut fries, onion jam, tasted sour dough bread

Steak Tartare with Hand Cut Fries, Onion Jam, Toasted Sour Dough Bread (RM42) – The priciest of all appetizers in the menu, but the portion’s really big enough to serve this as a main dish, or at least to be shared between 2-3 person. The dish was beautiful and the beef delicious, it was a shame I can’t have more of it due to all the other dishes yet to be tasted in this review.

roast chicken with garlic & thyme, prime rib steak
roast chicken with garlic & thyme, prime rib steak

After the 6 appetizers (that’s all of them available in the menu) and one soup, it was time to move onto the main dishes. Prices of rice & pastas are at RM 33, with other main courses from RM 38 onwards.

Roast Chicken with Garlic & Thyme, Ruby Roseval Potatoes & Button Mushrooms (RM 42). Half a chicken served on a beautiful pan, just about as unpretentious as it gets. The poultry looked good and tasted even better, remember to eat the garlic too!

Prime Rib Steak (350 gram, RM 188). The most expensive item on the entire menu, for the budget concious there are cheaper options of tenderloin (150g RM 64, 200g RM 74), T-bone steak (300g RM 98), NY cut Sirloin (160g RM 64, 220g RM 74). While it isn’t as fancy as Wagyu, the beef was prepared perfectly and tasted every bit a good prime rib steak should.  I like how bare it was as well, without any sauces that gets in the way of a piece of great tasting beef.

slow cooked dorper lamb shoulder, moussaka - baked lamb & aubergine
slow cooked dorper lamb shoulder, moussaka – baked lamb & aubergine

Slow Cooked Dorper Lamb Shoulder & Grilled Rack with Parsley Mashed Potatoes (RM 58). Tender, juicy, and I must say, quite a large portion of lamb shoulder as well. This dish should satisfy those who likes lamb, but isn’t exactly special in comparison with other dishes.

Moussaka – Baked Lamb & Aubergine (RM 38). One of the cheapest options in the menu, but certainly doesn’t lack any omph. It tasted a bit like lasagne without the pasta, and I find myself enjoying the combination of lamb and eggplant in this dish.

tortellini of potato & fontina with sauteed escargot & baby spinach, bouillabaisse, sea bream, snapper & lobster with toasted baguette & rouille, grilled snapper
tortellini of potato & fontina with sauteed escargot & baby spinach,
bouillabaisse, sea bream, snapper & lobster with toasted baguette & rouille,
grilled snapper, carper butter, haricot vert & la ratte potatoes

Tortellini of Potato & Fontina with sautéed Escargot & Baby Spinach (RM 33). Generous portions of escargot and those delicious tortellini of potato with Fontina cheese made for a great combination. If you like escargot for appetizer and pasta for main, this can substitute both and pass with flying colors.

Bouillabaisse, Sea Bream, Snapper & Lobster with Toasted Baguette & Rouille (RM 92). A traditional fish stew recipe from south-eastern France, this is one of the more luxurious main dish on the menu, and that is probably due to the addition of lobster in the list of ingredients. Definitely delicious.

Grilled Snapper, Caper Butter, Haricot Vert & La Ratte Potatoes (RM 58). A healthy choice for those who like seafood with minimal fuss. The fish tasted fresh, and condiments matched well.

warm tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream, Graze chocolate tart, lemon tart with fresh berries, cheese
warm tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream, Graze chocolate tart, lemon tart with fresh berries

Before the end of the night, we also sampled the three different tarts available at Graze (all priced at RM 18). The warm tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream, Graze chocolate tart, lemon tart with fresh berries. My favourite was the warm tarte tatin, which was like a better version of apple pie, and quite impartial with the other choices. Then again, I’m not a huge fan of desserts.

For those who likes to end their meal with cheese, for RM 45 you get access to the selection of cheese from the cheese wall. I’m out of the league when it comes to naming them, but they are delicious and together with a cup of hot coffee, makes for a perfect conclusion to an awesome dinner.

Address:
Graze
3 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.135331, 101.685762
Tel: 03-2264 2592
Hours12.00pm – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm

What if I told you that you could help under privileged children in every single state in Malaysia just by moving yourself?

healthy lifestyle, on the move
of course, there’s always health benefits to be had too

Yep, this is exactly the movement Rexona is creating.

Rexona is creating a movement where women are encouraged to participate by walking, running, or various other activities to contribute to social cause which Rexona will fund and support once the target is met. You contribute with sweat, Rexona turn it to donations.

This is Rexona MOVE.

Rexona MOVE, traversing across the country
Rexona MOVE, traversing across the country

It is simple to participate.

First, go to Google Play or iTune AppStore and download the Rexona MOVE application to your Android of iOS devices. Install and connect it to your facebook account. This takes maybe a minute or two.

shopping is also among the activities, now you have no excuses
shopping is also among the activities, now you have no excuses

To participate, simply click Start and choose an activity from the list. There’s badminton, basketball, cycling, dancing, indoor running, rollerblade, running, shopping, skipping, volleyball, walking, and others.

Yes, shopping is an activity you can choose, now there’s no excuse.

and I walked more than 1 KM to lunch
and I walked more than 1 KM to lunch

If you choose walking, for example, the application will activate the phone’s GPS and track how long you’ve walked. Each session is then captured and submitted to the movement.

The goal is capture a total of 10,695 KM, the distance to traverse entire Malaysia.

it's a baby step, but it helps
it’s a baby step, but it helps

So I purposely walked a little further for lunch just to test this application. The distance from my office to Imbi wet market turned out to be around 1.3 KM each way, and the application worked well even when the phone is tucked inside my jean’s pocket.

That session got me a “baby steps” badge, I’ll just need a bit more to get to the next level.

It’s a fun and easy way to contribute, you don’t need to be an athlete or a very active sports person to participate. So get moving and start helping. In the mean time, Rexona deodorants will help give you the confidence to handle these activities and whatever else that’s thrown to you during the day.

Great news, due to tremendous support, we’ve actually exceeded the targeted 10695 kilometers! To those who have contributed to this, thank you, and keep it up and do not stop moving as the more you move the more good you do.

To those who has just heard of this, get starting. 😀