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When it comes to steaks, quality of cut is often directly correlated with satisfaction in eating them, and unfortunately, so is the asking price. To “solve” this problem, sous vide is often the most recommended solution – cook the beef in a slow and controlled temperature, and you’ll get almost any cut to be tender.

Sounds good, right? But here’s the catch – sous vide machines can be very pricey, and I’m not about to spend upwards of RM 1,000 – 2,000 without really knowing what I get myself into.

Enter McGyver inspired cooler-box sous vide solution. (well, I actually read this from another website)

all you need is a thermometer and a cooler box
all you need is a thermometer and a cooler box

For this method, you only need the following 3 crucial items

  • cooler box
  • ziplock bag (freezer type recommended as they’re usually stronger)
  • cooking thermometer

Now let’s look at how to make your own sous vide beef & chicken.

sous vide steak, medium rare, done in an hour or so
sous vide steak, medium rare, done in an hour or so

Instructions:

  • season your meat with salt and pepper, or any other desired seasoning
  • place them in zip lock bags
  • prepare hot water 2-3 Celsius above your desired internal temperature for the meat (example: slightly less than 60 C for medium rare beef, 75-80 Celsius for chicken)
  • lower the meat-bags and shake off excess air pockets before zip locking it
  • monitor every half an hour, if temperature drop below desired level, add hot water to bring it up
  • let the meat cook for an hour or two, depending on the thickness

sous vide chicken breast is surprisingly good on salad
sous vide chicken breast is surprisingly good on salad

  • use the thermometer to ensure that internal meat temperature is appropriate
  • for beef, heat up skillet (I use an IKEA one) to high temperature, then sear for a minute on each side before serving, a blow torch will do similar wonder for chicken breasts
  • add your side dishes, and eat away!

The results we got were amazing. Relatively cheap cuts of grass fed beef had the texture not entirely unlike tenderloin, and for the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed chicken breasts as it came out succulent and moist.

Will do it again!

On our trip to London, we were lucky enough that accommodation was arranged at Dorsett at Sheperd’s Bush located about half an hour from Heathrow Airport by taxi, and only some 10 stops from the heart of the city via the tube on central line.

Dorsett Hotel at Sheperd's Bush, London
Dorsett Hotel at Sheperd’s Bush, London

The hotel has some 300 rooms separated in eight floors. The design is a mix of contemporary British style with Chinese influence, pretty interesting. Right in front of the hotel is a park, with Sheperd’s Bush tube station about 5 minutes away on foot, and conveniently, Westfield (as we found out later, the largest mall in London), less than 10 minutes away.

our suite on the 8th floor, Dorsett Sheperd's Bush
our suite on the 8th floor, Dorsett Sheperd’s Bush

Though we booked the deluxe room, the hotel was kind enough to bump us up to their suite. This was like the business class of hotel room that comes with all the bells & whistles – there’s a full master bedroom, a separate seating area to entertain guests, a “living room” with 42″ TV & sofa, as well as a nice bath tub and shower facilities.

Other convenience such as a work desk, mini fridge, iron board, hair dryer, bathrobes, and even small bottles of wine & sparkling water are included too.

executive lounge & the gym at Dorsett Sheperd's Bush
executive lounge & the gym at Dorsett Sheperd’s Bush

There’s also a gym, meeting room, spa (unfortunately we didn’t get to try), business center, and access to the executive lounge if you stay in the suite or executive guestroom.

Best of all, to me personally anyway, is that the hotel also has SUPER FAST wireless internet connection. I did a speed test and got something like 700 MB/s download speed – definitely first world connectivity.

English breakfast at the hotel
English breakfast at the hotel, we have bacon!

Like most hotels, Dorsett Sheperd’s Bush serves continental English breakfast daily. While the buffet spread isn’t particularly huge, the quality of food made up for it. The bread & pastries were all so delicious (must be the butter & flour they use?), and I also particularly like the bacon and those pork sausages, so yummy.

"Pictures" restaurant on the ground floor
“Pictures” restaurant on the ground floor

The hotel has three restaurants on the ground floor, on the second night, we had our dinner at Pictures, their all-day dining brasserie style restaurant with European menu.

The restaurant was tastefully decorated, and got its’ name from the building’s previous role as a theater. There’s even pictures of classic movie stars on the wall, pretty neat isn’t it?

crayfish cocktail & crispy calamari as our starters
crayfish cocktail & crispy calamari as our starters

To start, we had crayfish cocktail and the hotel manager’s recommendation – crispy calamari as our starters.

The mixture of fresh water crayfish and avocado was somewhat interesting, as most savory but cold dish tend to give. I think it’ll be great to have it as a filling in a sandwich too.

The calamari however, was excellent! I’ve never had fried calamari in coriander dressing, but the recipe turned out to be sophisticated and beautiful. I certainly would want to try to make this at home one of these days, you don’t even need mayonnaise or beer to enjoy this, no wonder it’s one of their best sellers.

21 day aged 6 oz Scotch fillet
21 day aged 6 oz Scotch fillet 

For mains, I had the 21 day aged 6 oz Scotch fillet, while Haze went for the 28 day dry aged cattleman’s 8oz striploin. Both dishes came with portobello mushroom, cherry vine tomato, and skinny fries.

While wagyu and kobe is all the rage these days, I still enjoy my proper aged beef, and they were very well executed here – tender, juicy, and full of flavor, can’t ask for more.

we enjoyed our stay at Dorsett Sheperd's Bush, thank you for the lovely time
we enjoyed our stay at Dorsett Sheperd’s Bush, thank you for the lovely time

We enjoyed our 3 nights at Dorsett, and if you head to London for business or leisure, this place should be in your short list.

Note: This UK – Malaysia Influencer Exchange programme was organised by Malaysia Airlines.
However, opinions are of my own. Malaysia Airlines flies between London and Kuala Lumpur
twice a day on the A380. There are 8 seats in the First Class, 66 in Business Class and 420
in Economy. Make your flight reservations today on www.malaysiaairlines.com.

Every once in a while, I get invited to one of these fancy dinners that I imagined myself being a part of when I was working as a casual worker at a five star hotel in my high school days.

I thought that it’d be pretty awesome sitting down having a number of different courses of almost bite size food served in plates that are unnecessarily large, and wouldn’t it be even more cool if they have different drinks for each dish?!

That’d really be living the life, won’t it?

Senja at Saujana Hotel
A Premium Wine Affair, Senja at Saujana Hotel

Well, last Friday was one of such days, and yes, that’s another teenage-hood dream come true moment (though not the first time).

I was invited to “A premier Wine Affair of the Saujana Hotels & Resorts Wine Collection“, a private event hosted by the Saujana to unveil its new wine collection.

Charcoal's Australian Chef Robert Johnston
Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston

The wines were specifically made from Frankland Estate, Margaret River, Western Australia, a well-renowned winery with an approach to winemaking that values the importance of soil and environment.

In the kitchen was Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston who prepared a distinctive five course menu to pair with the wines for a night of, well, wine and dine.

By the way, you can only get these wines from The Saujana

Note: Instead of paraphrasing the note and pretend that I know exactly how to describe these wonderful wines, I’m going to include the tasting note here verbatim, and by the way, most media/writers do get tasting notes for wine/whisky, we can’t magically come up with fantastic descriptions that are all pretty much the same.

lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly
lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly

After socializing a bit with the crowd, we sat down and dinner began, our first dish was the lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly to be paired with Souvignon Blanc Semillon 2014. Refreshing and easy on the palette.

Tasting note: On the nose it shows exotic fruit aromas, lychee, mango, rose, quince and spices. On the palate it exudes a powerful, burst of fruit, flattering and round with lightly spicy finishing. 

poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea
poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea

Second course was poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea. Paired with Chardonnay 2013, Miles from Nowhere.

The shitake tea makes an interesting base with its slightly bitter after taste, reminding me of chicken essence in a way. Crispy noodle provided interesting texture to the otherwise quite muted poached chicken. Very Asian-ish.

Tasting note: Butterscotch and ripe stone fruit flavours, with a rich and luscious creamy mouth feel. A complex wine with a spicy oak finish

char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple and radish, balsamic reduction
char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple & radish, balsamic reduction

Third dish was char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple and radish, balsamic reduction. Paired with Merlot 2014.

Really love the duck breast with the hint of charred taste. The Merlot carries mulberry and red plum fruit aromas, a touch of earthy complexity that went well with duck.

Tasting notes: Medium ruby red in colour. Alluring strawberry, mulberry and red plum fruit aromas with subtle hint of French oak spice and a touch of earthy complexity.

Black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto, oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce
black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto,
oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce

The main dish was black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto, oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce. Paired with Cabernet Souvignon 2012. While the Wagyu from Hanaya a couple days ago was heaven, I still enjoy Angus beef with its more profound texture.

Tasting notes: A powerful yet elegant wine. Soft and rich with full body. Well rounded tannins on the palate with concentrates fruit flavours and provides a great length on the finish.

Coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili
coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili

Coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili as dessert to end the night. Good food with excellent company, what a great way to start the weekends.

great company and awesome food with delectable wines
great company and awesome food with delectable wines

The other wines we tried were  Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014 from Grape Expectations Estate, Margaret River, and Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc from Frankland Estate.

map to Saujana Kuala Lumpur

Address:
Senja
Saujana Golf & Country Club,
Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS,
40150 Selangor
GPS3.106865, 101.575285
Tel03-7846 1466
emailinfo@thesaujana.com

I actually first got to know about Suzi’s Corner from Time Out KL food awards in 2011 when it was nominated for the “best of steak” category, and that was when it piqued my interest, a cheap steak place that is recognized to be one of the bests in town among the big boys? I gotta try this.

Suzi's Corner at Ampang (opposite Ampang Point)
Suzi’s Corner at Ampang (opposite Ampang Point)

Sure enough, it then took me another two years or so before I found myself wandering around Ampang on the motorcycle trying to figure out a place for dinner before futsal session with my colleague.

Steak isn’t exactly the perfect meal before a cardio heavy sports, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

tenderloin under RM 40, served on a hot plate
tenderloin under RM 40, served on a hot plate

Suzi’s Corner is actually a food court, and within it, Steak Hut is the stall that offers somewhat localized Western food. Among the dishes to choose from are lamb chops (RM22), grilled salmon (RM21), chicken chop (RM14), and more.

For a steak lover though, I just had to go with the tenderloin. At RM 34, it’ll be a miracle to find a cheaper version anywhere else.

I'd advise to not have the hot plate, or put the beef aside
I’d advise to not have the hot plate, or put the beef aside

I ordered the beef at medium rare, but what came was probably closer to medium. By default, the beef here is served on a hot plate (Malaysians love hot plate), so that probably contributed partly to the meat being slightly overcooked for my liking. I’ll order it rare and to be served on regular plate next round.

A side of fries, bun with butter, and some steamed vegetable came with the dish to complete the meal. Overall it was definitely worth the asking price, and I would not hesitate to go there again.

Is it super awesome beef? No, but Suzi’s Corner definitely manage to satisfy the craving for red meat, at least for a few days. 🙂

map to Suzi's corner

Address:
Suzi’s Corner
213/26 Jalan Ampang Batu 4 1/2,
Jalan Ulu Kelang,
68000 Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.158677, 101.748378
Tel: 03-4256 6720
Hours6pm to 11pm, closed on T uesdays

For the forth article of the buka puasa buffet 2014 series, lets go to Jalan Yap Kwan Seng for a positively meaty Ramadan buffet at Las Vacas meat shop.

For those who aren’t familiar with Las Vacas, they have several branches in Klang Valley, including one at Kelana Jaya and another at Mont Kiara that even serves breakfast.

Las Vacas Meat Shop at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
Las Vacas Meat Shop at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

The branch at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng is Las Vacas’ latest and biggest, so naturally it is most suited as a location to offer their buffet dinner for this fasting month. Parking is plenty and free, while the location is quite suitable for those who work in the city and decide to buka puasa before heading home.

The buffet is priced at RM100++ for adults and RM50++ for children aged 12 years and under, and served from 6.30pm – 10.00pm, 8th July 2014 to 27th July 2014.

canapes, salad, kuih, salad, and drinks
canapes, salad, kuih, salad, and drinks

If you compared to the offerings from hotels, the buffet spread here isn’t particularly impressive in terms of size, tho there are certainly enough variety to provide a more than balanced meal. However, you don’t come to Las Vacas to have 300 different dishes, you come here because of the meat.

Anyway, starting with appetizers and desserts, there a selection of canapes and salads, including smoked beef with mustadard, tuna mayo egg, teriyaki, black olive tapenade, chicken with creamy pesto, smoked turkey salad with balsamic, salad with beef strips, girlled begetables and red cabbage slaws and so forth.

There are also some traditional kuih as well.

nasi hujan panas, ayam masak merah, spaghetti with mushroom, tempura, sayur campur masak lemak putih
nasi hujan panas, ayam masak merah, spaghetti with mushroom,
tempura, sayur campur masak lemak putih

For main, you can find classics such as nasi hujan panas (the version here was very good!), nasi minyak, nasi tomato, beef rendang, ayam masak merah, ikan bakar, ayam pedas, and more.

Australian steaks, New Zealand lamb, burger patties, and sausages
Australian steaks, New Zealand lamb, burger patties, and sausages

Then, we get to the real reason why you would come to Las Vacas for buka puasa – the all-you-can-eat Australian steaks and New Zealand lamb! There’s also burger patties and sausages too if you prefer a little bit of variety.

be sure to ask for how well you want the meat to be done
be sure to ask for how well you want the meat to be done

For someone who likes my steak medium rare, I find the preparation served here slightly too cooked, perhaps it is to cater for the general public. Luckily, you can always tell the chefs to prepare the beef at your preferred “doneness” and they’ll be more than happy to comply.

Las Vacas also stock some pretty delicious French and whole grain mustard that goes very well with the meat.

Haze, Suan, Horng, & KY at Las Vacas Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
Haze, Suan, Horng, & KY at Las Vacas Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

On Friday and Saturda, there will also be traditional Malay performances to compliment your meal. As with many other places, imported dates from Middle East is available to provide a “proper” way to break fast. The restaurant also have an in-house surau for your convenience.

All other ala-carte menu item will still be available for order as usual during this period.

direction to Las Vacas meat shop, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

Address:
Las Vacas Meat Shop
No. 33, Lot 5, Ground Floor,
Wisma Winbond,
Jalan Yap Kwan Seng,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.162898, 101.714842
Tel03-2181 5586

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