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Tag / spring roll

Got bored with the Vietnamese Street Food series yet? Well, there’s more!

In this installment we’re checking out Gỏi cuốn, or Vietnamese Spring Roll.

Che Minh Khai, one of the many eateries near our Airbnb
Che Minh Khai, one of the many eateries near our Airbnb 

Contrary to popular belief, spring roll isn’t served only during spring. You can actually get them all throughout the year.. (OK I made that up).

Vietnamese spring roll is quite a fair bit different from its Chinese counter part of the same name, with some saying origin started from Vietnam, while others believe it was the Chinese who came up with the dish first. In any case, the ingredients are a fair bit different.

gui cuon, or Vietnamese spring role, with dipping sauce
gui cuon, or Vietnamese spring role, with dipping sauce

Vietnamese spring roll is made up from rice paper as the wrapper, with pork slices, shrimp, rice noodle, green onion, and and generous amount of vegetable. It is often served fresh and at room temperature. A type of peanut sauce is usually served as the accompanying condiment.

dip & bite, can you see the ingredients?
dip & bite, can you see the ingredients?

If you try this at HCMC from one of the restaurants typically frequent by the locals, you can expect to pay about 5,000 VND for each piece. 2-3 pieces should suffice for light breakfast.

map to che minh khai restaurant, Saigon

Address:
Che Minh Khai
18A/16 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS10.786134, 106.700463
Tel: +8408-3825 6432
Hours: 7am to 8pm

A couple weeks ago I went back to Penang for a short stay, while I usually take every chance possible to catch up with Penang street foods, this time I decided to try something slightly different by going to the Hainanese Delights restaurant within 1926 Heritage Hotel on Burma Road (where I also spent the night, but that’ll be on another post)

chicken curry kapitan at Hainanese Delights, 1926 Heritage Hotel
chicken curry kapitan at Hainanese Delights, 1926 Heritage Hotel

The restaurant is actually operated by my friend’s dad since about 4-5 years ago. A true blue Hainanese family who follows the traditional recipes of the forefathers.

For the four of us, we started out with the chicken curry kapitan (RM 15) with some “Bengali roti”, the traditional Indian bread that’s has a crispy brown crust but super fluffy inside. The chicken peels off the bones easily, and the curry kapitan carries an intense flavor that goes very well with the equally fragrant bread, I can imagine having this as a great breakfast.

braised lamb with lady's fingers, lorbak & spring roll
braised lamb with lady’s fingers, lorbak & spring roll

Penang lorbak, or lohbak (RM 5.50 per roll) is usually made with pork, but as this is a pork free restaurant, they substitute it with chicken. I must admit that I had my doubts at first, but they’ve really done a fine job with the poultry and the result is a version of lorbak that live up to the reputation.

The spring roll (RM 5.50 per roll) here is another one of their best sellers, stuffed with crab meat and other ingredients. Dipping it with their specially mixed lea & perrins sauce that carries a hint of mustard resulting in a pretty complex and rather delicious appetiser that’s unlike your normal run off the mill spring rolls. This is something I’ll definitely order again.

Braised lamb with lady’s fingers (RM 20) consists of 5 slabs of tender New Zealand lamb covered in brown sauce that goes perfectly with those steamed okra. You can have it with some steamed rice, or perhaps, beer?

assam prawns, Hainanese fried mee
assam prawns, Hainanese fried mee

Assam prawns (RM 7.00 each, min 4) is more of a Nyonya dish than Hainanese (I cooked this too), but the chef did a fine job preparing this dish, though I thought it would be great if they serve it with some sambal.

Lastly, we also tried the Hainanese fried mee (RM 8.90) from the kitchen. A dish that can definitely stand on its own with a combination of vegetables, chicken, prawns, and a side of sambal with a kick.

These were just a small sample of what is offered at Hainanese Delights, other dishes include lobster thermidor, crab mornay, Hainanese mushroom soup, inchee kay bin, yam duck, lamb stew, lamb curry, and of course, their pretty famous Hainanese chicken rice (which I had to forgo trying due to schedule). I’m going to bring mom here next time I’m back!

wenqi and her pastries, tianchad & gf, KY & wenqi
wenqi and her awesome cakes, tianchad & gf, KY & wenqi

We ended the night with some cookies and cheese cakes made by WenQi. These are some really delicious cakes made with quality ingredients, and she is starting to sell them at the restaurant and on her own as well. Will update this space when that is ready!

Thank you WenQi and see you again!

map to 1926 Heritage Hotel, Penang

Address:
Hainanese Delights
1926 Heritage Hotel
227 Jalan Burma,
10050 Georgetown, Penang
GPS: 5.42415, 100.32063
Tel04-228 1926

Popiah, or commonly known as fresh spring rolls in most other parts of the world, has always been one of my favorite breakfast dishes. It’s easy to eat, contains an assortment of vegetables, usually pretty economical, and doesn’t take a long time to chew down.

It is a dish that is pretty common in Penang, but unfortunately, good ones are hard to come by in Klang Valley, so I was pretty happy when I finally sampled from this one from Imbi market.

the pohpiah stall at Imbi market
the poppiah stall at Imbi market

Sister’s Crispy Popiah is situated some 10 meters away from the famous Ah Weng Koh Haianese Tea. It has been operating at the same spot for years, and business in the morning is rather good. There’s almost always a small queue right in front of the stall, behind the operator that always move in a super brisk pace.

two pieces of pohpiah at RM 4.40

two pieces of pohpiah at RM 4.40

A single serving goes for RM 2.20, one is never enough as the only dish, but suffice as a side dish if you have something else to go along with, like a plate of wantan mee or some breakfast toasts for example.

Other than the popiah skin, chili paste (optional), and sweet sauce, there are at least five other ingredients packed into this spring roll, including sengkuang (yambean), cucumber, carrot, and some absolutely fantastic crispy bits (I have no idea what they are).

goes well with toast and Hainanese tea too
goes well with toast and Hainanese tea too

The normal serving is a little on the drier side, but if you prefer to just ask, you can have it with a bit of those sengkuang soup to wet them as well (which is closer to Penang style). The popiah skin holds up well while not being too thick, the mixture of crispy ingredients and really soft, well cooked sengkuang makes for a well balanced contrasting texture that I really like.

A pair of popiah for breakfast? I can do it this any day.

map to Imbi Market (Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang)

Address:
Sisters Crispy Popiah
Imbi Market (Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang)
Jalan Melati, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.14340, 101.71664
Hours: breakfast and brunch

A couple weekends ago we were invited to the opening of Royal Flush Chinese Restaurant, the latest venture from the group behind Tom Dick and Harry, Hoofed, and Ali, Muthu, and Ah Hock.

Located at the relatively new Oasis Square at Ara Damansara, Royal Flush sits within a  grand three story building that could easily be mistaken as a shrine or palace. The interior lived up to the positive first impression of the building from the outside, it is beautifully furnished with what you’d expect from a classy Chinese eatery.

Royal Flush Chinese Restaurant at Oasis, Ara Damansara
Royal Flush Chinese Restaurant at Oasis, Ara Damansara

Five private rooms sits above the common dining hall on the ground floor, and there’s an outdoor rooftop moonlit garden as well. I was well impressed of the ambiance the place.

crispy spring rolls
crispy spring rolls

We were first treated with some tidbits before dinner officially kicks off. The crispy spring rolls tastefully presented on a bed of sprouts, it was crunchy on the outside and moist within, we made quick work of them with ice cold beer.

cucumber with pork floss and chestnut, "twin cold combination"
cucumber with pork floss and chestnut, “twin cold combination”

Cucumber with chestnut and pork floss probably took a hint from Japanese cuisine with it’s sushi-like presentation, but tasted distinctively Chinese. Combination of meat with the freshness of cucumber and the crunchy chestnuts worked well.

After these two dishes, our dinner from the 9-course Chinese New Year menu officially starts.

First to be served was “twin cold combination“. The oyster shot was delicious – fresh juicy oyster in a special light sauce that has Japanese soya sauce, lemon, and other touches in it’s list of ingredients. The shellfish, on the other hand, is served with kiwi fruits and tomato. I liked the seafood but am allergic to kiwi, so perhaps missing from the total experience.

dimsum combination, grilled scallop bacon
dimsum combination, grilled cod fish, grilled scallop bacon

The second dish was dimsum combination, with xiao long bao, fish ball, and siu mai. These measures up to some of the better dimsum dishes I tried.

Cod fish is one of my favorite seafood, and the execution from the chef in this grilled cod fish dish did not disappoint. The exterior lightly charred with a taste of honey, it was exquisite and delicious.

Grilled bacon scallop had it’s origin from pigs in blanket, with the scallops successfully elevate the status and sophistication of this otherwise simple dish. A couple grilled ginko nuts were served on the side to provide some balance.

grilled pork ribs
grilled pork ribs

The third grilled (and final) grilled dish was the grilled pork ribs. It was sweet, succulent, and would certainly please any pork loving diner. While the dishes might not look heavy, we were starting to get a little bit full by this dish.

asparagus, abalone fried rice
asparagus, abalone fried rice

A simple dish of asparagus with bonito flakes provides the comfort to your mom that something green is consumed, and the main dishes is capped off with abalone fried rice that’s served with a beautiful whole scallop in the middle. Of course, there was no way I was going to waste this, it was soft, succulent, and how abalone should taste like.

doubled boiled bird's nest, KY & Haze
doubled boiled bird’s nest, KY & Haze

The two desserts served together in this RM 1,200 CNY set menu (for 10 pax) were double boiled bird’s nest and crystal peanut dumpling. Dinner was well satisfying with very good food and excellent company, if I had to nitpick, the only criticism I can think of would be the lack of traditional soup in the CNY menu. Then again, you can always order that separately

Royal Flush promises a wide variety of other dishes – including geoduck, suckling pigs, yee sang, and more, many of these would be bold and modern interpretation of traditional dishes, while others, closer to the origin. If the quality is consistent to what we experienced over this review session, Royal Flush would be a force to reckon with in the higher end Chinese cuisine market.

map to Oasis, Ara Damansara

Address:
The Royal Flush
Central Piazza, Oasis Square Ara Damansara,
2, Jalan PJU 1A/7A, Petaling Jaya
GPS: 3.11352, 101.574612
Tel012-211 7810, 016-2912 737, 012-299- 7598

The Royal Flush

Last Monday I took a day off to take advantage of the Tuesday holiday for a pro-longed weekends (man I can get used of that 3 day work week) and attended a cooking demo at Le Meridien KL.

It was part of the “Experience Vietnam” promotion at Latest Recipe that runs from 16-22 May, 2011. Three chefs from Sheraton Saigon  – Chef Tran Cong Tien, Chef Nguyen Thi Duy and Chef Bui Van Tien Dong flew all the way here to KL to infuse the restaurant with some true blue (or red?) Vietnamese cuisine, and of course, to share a few recipe with us.

vietnamese girls serving spring roll
yes, these are real Vietnamese ladies too.

I’ve always been a fan of Vietnamese food ever since the university days in the States, and having traveled to Saigon for 9 times over the last 7-8 years or so, this brand of South East Asian cuisine isn’t exactly very foreign for me.

Yet, this is the first time I learn how to make a real Vietnamese Sping roll. It turned out to be really simple, you can source all the ingredients locally and make yourself some authentic Vietnamese spring rolls too!

making a vietnamese spring roll
making a vietnamese spring roll

Here’s the ingredients to make 20 spring rolls:

  • 20 pieces of rice papers
  • 80 grams of lettuce
  • 25 grams of your favourite Vietnamese herbs (basil and chives usually)
  • 70 grams of carrot, sliced in strips
  • 200 grams of fresh rice vermicelli (they use the thick version, i think mee hun might work too?)
  • 20 pieces of blanched prawns, peeled & halved

Then the ingredients for dipping sauce

  • 50 grams of tamarind pulp
  • 50 ml of hot water
  • 40 grams of dried mung bean
  • 60 ml of tepid water
  • 200 grams of preserved soya bean
  • 50 ml of corn oil (or any cooking oil)
  • 10 grams of chopped garlic
  • 60 grams of sugar

we got our hands dirty, and our cooking skills upgraded :D
Kim and I got our hands dirty, and our cooking skills upgraded 😀

The steps in making the Vietnamese spring roll is surprisingly easy:

  • wet the rice paper on one side with hand, but careful not to drench it
  • apply a piece of lettuce, then 2 basil leaves, a few strips of carrot, then some noodle
  • next fold the rice paper from both sides, then roll up from bottom until you just cover the ingredients
  • at this point put 2 pieces of shrimp on top, a piece of chives, and continue to roll the spring roll till complete

The last step separated out for mainly aesthetic purposes, so you can clearly see the shrimps through the translucent rice paper. Brilliant, I always wonder how they made it that way. Now I know. 😀

chef Tran Cong Tien and team making Bo La Lot
chef Tran Cong Tien and team making Bo La Lot (beef in fragrant leaves)

While you can consume the spring roll as is, they are best served with the soya bean dipping sauce, and here’s how you make them:

  • Stir in tamarind pulp in 50 ml of hot water, then strain through a fine sieve and set aside.
  • Steam the mung beans with 60 ml of water for about 20 minutes then blend together with the steaming water to form smooth paste. Set aside.
  • Blend the soya bean into a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • Next, heat up the oil in a pan, sautee the garlics till golden and throw in tamarind pulp paste, mung beans paste and soya bean paste. Stir till combined.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes till mixture thickens.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool down before storing in fridge. This dipping sauce can be kept for up to a week

Cheo Troai Noouc (the dessert), Haze, Chef Antoine, Ciki
Cheo Troai Noouc (the dessert), Haze, Chef Antoine, Ciki

The good chefs from Vietnam also taught us how to make one of the most iconic Vietnamese food – Bo La Lot (grilled beef in fragrant leaves), and the dessert by the name of Cheo Troai Noouc (sticky rice dumpling with green bean filling and ginger syrup). I didn’t get a chance to try how to make those, but perhaps one day!

map to Le Meridien at KL Sentral

Address:
Le Meridien
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7888

On an unrelated note, there’s a great deal over at MilkADeal that shouldn’t be missed! Xiao Fei Yang steamboat for RM 40 instead of RM 107.80 and good for 4 pax to enjoy!

xiao fei yang at MilkADeal

The deal includes a dry pot of fish ball, pork intestines, deep fried pig skin, pig stomach, fried fish maw, foo chuk, vegetables + 4 boiled rice. You can check out my review of Xiao Fei Yang at the Pudu branch. This deal is for their newer Damansara Utama branch. Head over to check out the deal and grab it before it expires on midnight of 25 May, 2011!

Address:
No:40G & 42G, Jalan SS21/62,
Damansara Utama, Kuala Lumpur