Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / cheesie

If you were to tell me 10 years ago that salad can make a healthy, hearty, and really delicious meal, I’d only believe you 1/3. After all, salad are for girls who wants to look demure and polite having meal in public, right?

Well, Chai Bar proved me wrong.

Chai Bar at Oasis Square, Ara Damansara
Chai Bar at Oasis Square, Ara Damansara

One of the Chai Bar’s co-owner, Dennis, is a close friend of Haze. So to be honest, we’ve heard of the concept and already been to the pre-tasting events before the restaurant was even opened.

It was a concept that isn’t completely new, salad bars such as these are already quite popular in Singapore and other countries.

salad isn't just lettuce with thousand island sauce
salad isn’t just lettuce with thousand island sauce

The concept is simple, choose from some 70 different ingredients such as freshly washed and cut vegetables to beans, cheeses, nuts, pickles, and roasted vegetables. Plus, you also get to add smoked salmon, shrimp, poached chicken or grilled beef (just in case you think salad is only all about greens). To complete the meal, pick from some 15 different dressings.

Voila, you have yourself an awesome healthy meal.

chicken rice, superfood, steakhouse, sombrero
chicken rice, superfood, steakhouse, sombrero

For the review session we tried 7 different salads with some from their “fab 10” selections, basically ten different mixes of salad for those who doesn’t want to scratch their heads choosing your own combination from 70 different ingredients. These salads are priced from RM 16-20, a very good value for what you get in my opinion.

Chicken rice came with spinach, red rice, onions, cucumber, bean sprouts & poached chicken and dressed with Sesame Soy. Here the chicken is cooked sous vide so even though it’s breast meat (my least favorite but healthiest option), it was still very juicy and rather delicious.

Superfood had mixed leaves with sweet potatoes, beets, avocado, dried cranberries, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds & quinoa dressed in peanut sauce. A mixture of all the healthy ingredients you can think of. Very nice texture to munch on.

Steakhouse is a salad for the men, I mean, steak, kan? Baby spinach with baby potatoes, tomato, caramelised onions & grilled beef. I like the dressing in this one – blue cheese! If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, you can always opt for another dressing.

If you like a little bit of Mexican, try Sombrero. Mixed lettuce with 3-bean mix, corn, tomatoes, onions, mixed peppers, cheddar cheese, tortilla chips & grilled beef. This salad is dressed with avocado and topped with salsa.

bibimbap, caesar, california girls
bibimbap, caesar, california girls

Fancy Korean style salad? Baby spinach with red rice, cucumber, carrot, mushrooms, bean sprouts, hard boiled egg and grilled beef. Sweet Gochujang. Sprinkles of kimchi makes for a bowl of Bibimbap.

Caesar, the most common of all salad, turned out to be our favorite. The sous vide chicken that’s lightly grilled was superb, and the Green Goddess dressing compliments romaine lettuce, croutons, onions, hard boiled egg, beef bacon, Parmesan cheese and grilled chicken really well.

According to Dennis, California Girls is one of the most popular salads with the ladies. A bowl that’s inspired by Japanese cuisine, with mixed lettuce, red rice, avocado, carrot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled egg, pickled seaweed & kaori-hako. Wasabi Mayo. Dusted with roasted seaweed and ebiko. I thought the ebiko was a really nice touch.

refreshing drinks at Chai Bar
refreshing drinks at Chai Bar

Juices goes for RM 7.50 and smoothies RM 8.50. We had kaffir lemonade, watermelon & mint, and of course I went for avocado. They complements the food well, and I think make for good afternoon “snacks” on their own too.

KY, Haze, Dennis (co-owner), Cheesie & Junya
KY, Haze, Dennis (co-owner), Cheesie & Junya

Chai Bar is really a trailblazer for salad in this side of Klang Valley, I really hope they thrive and open up more restaurants, and hopefully one near my workplace. Good job Dennis!

map to Oasis, Ara Damansara

Chai Bar
G31, Oasis Village
Oasis Square Ara Damansara, 

2, Jalan PJU 1A/7A, Petaling Jaya
GPS: 3.114834, 101.574750
Tel03-7832 3138

First of all, let me get the most important message across.

On the 18th March 2013, head to any one of the over five thousand participating McDonald’s across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa and you’ll get to enjoy the biggest regional breakfast giveaway in conjunction with National Breakfast Day.

In Malaysia, each of the 222 McDonald’s Breakfast Restaurants will offer FREE Egg McMuffin to the first 1,000 customers from 7am to 10am on Monday (18/3/2013). So wake up and grab yours, don’t miss out!

McDonald's on a Sunday morning, Egg McMuffin, coffee, and hash brown
McDonald’s on a Sunday morning, Egg McMuffin, coffee, and hash brown

Last Sunday I was joined by Cheesie, Huai Bin, Nazwan, Cik Epal, and some of our fellow readers for a meal of McDonald’s wholesome breakfast and a kitchen tour at McDonald’s outlet at Sri Damansara.

We started the day with an Egg McMuffin, coffee, and piping hot hash brown. If your Sunday, or in fact any other day does not start out with a wholesome breakfast, then you are missing out the most important meal of the day, I previously wrote about the importance of breakfast in “Lets talk about breakfast” post.

some of my readers brought their kids for the kitchen tour, too cute
some of my readers brought their kids for the kitchen tour, too cute

It was pretty awesome to be meeting some of my reader’s kids at the event. Kristen’s husband brought his cute daughter, and Mycelt came with two kids too. Thank you for coming!

The 50 odd strong crowd were then separated into a few batches for the McDonald’s kitchen tour.

one of the most efficient and cleanest kitchen anywhere
one of the most efficient and cleanest kitchen anywhere

Little known fact – my first ever real job was being an employee at McDonald’s right after my PMR examination, it was a valuable experience and I learned a lot from the job.

So to me, the kitchen tour is a little bit like a homecoming event after some 20 years absent from being in one. I was impressed to see that they have managed to make the place even cleaner and more efficient than it already was from years ago.

Employees who handle food must thoroughly wash their hands and wear gloves while cooking. Food are made to order, with only the patties and eggs being prepared minutes prior and kept in what they called universal holding cabinet. So the Cheeseburger or Egg McMuffins you order is as fresh as it gets.

reliving the days when I was a McDonald's employee almost 20 years ago
reliving the days when I was a McDonald’s employee almost 20 years ago

On Sunday, I also had a chance to put my long forgotten skills into use once again. While it took me probably around a minute to get it done, seasoned employees get it done in seconds. Their efficiency is impressive, and the whole kitchen is kept spotlessly clean, I need to adopt the same mentality at my own kitchen.

and here's a group photo, smile!
and here’s a group photo, smile!

We had a great time with breakfast and kitchen tour at McDonald’s, and I certainly hope the kids enjoyed themselves (especially going into the giant freezer). Thank you to those who came and I hope you had a great time.

So don’t forget to head to a McDonald’s this 18th March, 2013 and get your free Egg McMuffins to kickstart your workweek! Click on National Breakfast Day to learn more.

Ahhh, bak kut teh, one of my favorite Malaysian foods, so much so that there’s a category on this blog for it. Last weekends I had the privilege of having two bak kut teh brunch in a row, and the second one was this place that I haven’t been before, an old school establishment by the name of Restoran Chow Kiat, at Klang of course.

Chow Kiat bak kut teh at Klang, can't get any more old school than this
Chow Kiat bak kut teh at Klang, can’t get any more old school than this

We met at Ken Rimba (more on that in upcoming post) on Sunday morning and Sam Tan, the executive director of KEN Holding Bhd brought us here to share one of his favorite bak kut teh outlets.

It was only 9:30 am and the place was packed. According to Sam, by 10:30 am or so, some of the better cuts would be unavailable already. While the premise sells bak kut teh in the morning as well as at night, they are run by different operators. The morning session that we tried is said to be the more superior.

steaming pot of bak kut teh, I was sold when I saw this
steaming pot of bak kut teh, I was sold when I saw this

The bak kut teh here is as old school as they come.

There’s no clay pot, no vegetable, no pepper soup, extra mushroom, or any of those other options that purists tend to label as “gimmicks”. Just pure unadulterated bowls of pork (or chicken legs, the little known ingredients in Klang bak kut teh) with just enough of those thick herbal soup.

The only non meat dish you can order is yao char kuay, and to be honest it is pretty average here.

choose your favorite part, finish your bowl of meat, or share with friends
choose your favorite part, finish your bowl of meat, or share with friends

The meat and soup tho, was excellent!

Pork cooked to perfection and so soft you can pry it off the bones just by using your spoon, and the fats? Oh my, they are so flavorful it’s a sin not to have. The soup is thick, packed with herbal goodness, and unlike the similarly styled (and equally delicious) Mo Sang Kor bak kut teh, you can ask for extra soup.

KY, Cheesie, Kampung Boy & City Gal

Choices of meat includes ribs, big bone, small bones, “kawan” (this with plenty of fats, super delicious), stomach, intestine, lean meat, and more. If you love bak kut teh, this is definitely one place to check out. Prices are similar to other establishments around the area.

location map of Chow Kiat bak kut teh, Klang

Restoran Chow Kiat
Jalan Kapar, Kawasan 18,
41400 Klang, Selangor

GPS: 3.05049, 101.448263

Restoran Chow Kiat

Several weeks ago we were invited to Private Kitchen at Damansara Uptown. From the outside, this looks to be a very modest little restaurant not unlike many other eateries at the area – air conditioned, clean, and with a contemporary furnishing that seems to focus on function than pure aesthetics.

Private Kitchen at PJ Uptown
Private Kitchen at PJ Uptown

This is, however, not just another local restaurant. The kitchen is led by Chef Lam Fai, an experienced Hong Kong chef who was trained both in Western and traditional Hong Kong cuisine, and it is this unique background of Chef Lam that results in some rather creative dishes we sampled during this food review session.

While waiting for food to be served, we snacked off long spring roll with shrimp paste (RM 10). The taste of shrimp paste is not unlike shrimp balls, and the deep fried spring roll skin gives it some crunchiness. A different interpretation of spring roll, easy to eat off your fingers, and I believe, would make excellent beer food.

beef with strawberry sauce, shredded chicken and cucumber, soup of the day
beef with strawberry sauce, shredded chicken and cucumber, soup of the day

Our first dish then, was shredded chicken with Private Kitchen “ma la” sauce (RM 12). The shredded chicken sits atop cucumber that’s seasoned with vinegar, a decent cold dish to prepare the stomach, but not one that I’m overly impressed with though.

Like any Chinese/HK restaurant, soup is a must in any meal. The soup of the day was carrot & radish with lean meat soup (RM 6). Very homey, flavorful, and certainly excellent value for money for this type of setting.

Then came one of my favorite dishes of the night – stir-fried prime beef fillet in strawberry & black pepper sauce (RM 28). According to the chef, the beef is prepared and tenderized using Western cuisine techniques, and he chose strawberry to add a different dimension to this black pepper beef dish after some experiments (Chef Lam jokingly said that banana wasn’t a good idea). The result was excellent, if you are “elite” and like to dismiss fusion food, this dish may very well change your stance.

HK style ginger chicken, panfried pork chop with lemongrass
HK style ginger chicken, panfried pork chop with lemongrass

Hong Kong style sand ginger chicken (RM 25 for half bird) went through some half a day’s work of preparation (boiling in broth, preparing the skin with a bit of turmeric for that color, etc) and was delicious and smooth. I especially enjoy the ginger + spring onion sauce that came with this dish.

The next dish looks almost like mantis prawns, but was actually strips of pan-fried pork chop with lemongrass (RM 25). The pork carries pretty strong lemongrass and ginger taste, and tasted pretty decent with chili sauce, but I thought is one of the weaker dishes in this session.

typhoon shelter tiger prawn, sauteed Chinese chives with pork belly in XO sauce
typhoon shelter tiger prawn, sauteed Chinese chives with pork belly in XO sauce

No HK cuisine is complete without typhoon shelter dishes, and at Private Kitchen, we were served typhoon shelter tiger prawn (RM 38). The preparation method was as I remembered the last time I had typhoon shelter crab at Causeway Bay Spicy Crab at Hartamas – plenty of garlic and chili, the aroma was superb, and the prawns did not disappoint. Now I wonder if this would be a good way to prepare squid, hmm.

Sauteed Chinese chives with pork belly in XO sauce (RM18) was our token vegetable dish, even though there’s pork belly in it. I thought it was slightly sinful, but pretty tasty though.

amaranth with minced chicken in superior soup, Portuguese style fried rice
amaranth with minced chicken in superior soup, Portuguese style fried rice

Another soupy vegetable dish that we had was amaranth with minced chicken in superior soup (RM 16). Most of us would recognize it by the common name Chinese spinach. This is another very homey type of dish, a comfort food.

The Portuguese style fried rice with braised pork belly & seafood (RM 16) wasn’t a dish that looked very good in its presentation, it was sorta brownish overall with little color contrast, but don’t let the apparence fools you. The fried rice was very flavorful, and with prawns, squid, and pork belly, they didn’t skimp on ingredients at all. I had a bowl even though I was already stuffed by then, highly recommended.

deep-fried pork ribs with special salad sauce, typhoon shelter noodles with pork chop
deep-fried pork ribs with special salad sauce, typhoon shelter noodles with pork chop

The deep-fried pork ribs with special salad sauce (RM32) is another unique fusion food by Chef Lam that works well. The ribs were tender and juicy, and the slightly sourish and fruity salad sauce, while a bit unorthodox, worked well in this instance. I really enjoyed it too.

Our last “extra” dish of the night was a bowl of typhoon shelter noodles with pork chop in chili & garlic soup (RM15). This is a dish fit for single person consumption and comes with a generous portion of pork chop and the noodle in a soup that has some kick. I tried a spoonful (was stuffed already), and from what I could tell it was pretty decent.

Cheesie, chef Lam Fai, Suanie, Joyce, Dennis & Evelyn, Haze
Cheesie, chef Lam Fai, Suanie, Joyce, KY, Dennis & Evelyn, Haze

Most of the dishes we had at Private Kitchen were pretty consistent and for the lack of a better description – tasty. The prices are reasonable as well. The only downside of the place is, well, the location and challenging parking situation at times. Saying that this place is sort of a poor-man’s Elegant Inn would not be incorrect. Worth visiting though, for sure.

map to Private Kitchen restaurant at PJ Uptown

Private Kitchen Hong Kong Cuisine
103 Jalan SS21/37
Damansara Utama (Uptown) 
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.13451, 101.62378
Tel: 03-7728 8399
Hours: 11:30 am – 3 pm, 6 pm – 10 pm, closed on Mondays

Private Kitchen

When it comes to Penang food, laksa is always one of the first dishes to be mentioned (especially by girls, I don’t know why), and when it comes to laksa for many Penangites, the best laksa on the island is this little stall located all the way at the other side of the island at Balik Pulau’s Nan Guang kopitiam.

some say this is the holy grail of all asam laksa
some say this is the holy grail of all asam laksa

This place too has been around for a while, my first visit there was when I was a little boy probably close to 25-30 years ago. Going to Balik Pulau from my grandma’s place at weld quay was a pretty long journey then, before the relatively recent improved road system, but it did not deter my aunts & grandma then.

When you want your laksa, you find a way.

two "normal" asam laksa, and one "lemak" version
two “normal” asam laksa, and one “lemak” version

On our last visit back to Penang for Tim & Audrey’s wedding, we took the opportunity to take an hour’s drive (traffic…) to Balik Pulau for some laksa goodness.

While it wasn’t RM 0.80 a bowl anymore (they are RM 3.00 per bowl now), the laksa still tasted as good as it was. Other than the “standard” asam laksa with plenty of vegetable, cucumber, mint, and fish meat laden asam soup, they also serve a different variant – the “lemak” laksa.

The laksa lemak tastes closer to Nyonya laksa, with added santan (coconut milk) in the fish-based gravy to give it a richer taste that is slightly less sourish than asam version. It was a little different, and I really liked it.

Cheesie, Haze, Li Ling, Michael, and I, we drove almost an hour for this
Cheesie, Haze, Li Ling, Michael, and I, we drove almost an hour for this

When you go to Penang, always try to make sure laksa is your last meal, and bring a cooler too. That way you can buy some to go for later consumption in KL (or wherever you’re from), and they make excellent gifts too (my braces dentist was overjoyed). Soup, vege+noodle, and the prawn paste is always separated for tapao too, very convenient.

map to asam laksa at Balik Pulau

Nan Guang kopitiam
67, Jalan Balik Pulau,
11000, Balik Pulau, Penang
GPS: 5.351844, 100.235845
Tel: 012-428 6235

Laksa at Nan Guang kopitiam