Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Monthly Archives / June 2011

A few weeks ago I was invited to the launch of a brand new restaurant at Putrajaya Marriott Hotel – Zest.

The restaurant promises a “refreshing food scape of international and local favorites with the highest standards in culinary presentation” and is also a result of renovation work that lasted 6 months and some 10 million ringgit. For an all-day-dining restaurant, that’s a pretty hefty sum I’ll say.

the opening ceremony of Zest
the opening of Zest by Y.A.M. Tunku Naquiyuddin ibni Tuanku Ja’afar

The opening ceremony was done with great fanfare, with Y.A.M. Tunku Naquiyuddin ibni Tuanku Ja’afar doing the honor.

I was so happy looking at the balloons carrying Zest’s logo to flying up, for that signifies the wait is over and my stomach can finally have something other than beer and peanuts at the waiting lounge.

cold dishes include prawns, smoked salmon, cold cuts
cold dishes include prawns, smoked salmon, cold cuts

When the curtain dropped, we walked briskly (but still have to be behind the Tunku …) to our assigned table, I put down everything except the camera and went straight to work.

Snapping photos were my secondary task, the first was to fill up the plate, I was starving, and I wanted to eat everything!

lamb, baked oyster, scallops, and more
roast lamb, baked oyster, scallops, and more

Zest has 4 different islands/kitchens serving a host of different cuisines. These kitchens are situated within the dining room space so you can see that the food did not come out from some mystery back room.

There are foods you typically find in most all-day-dining restaurants such as cold cuts, prawns, salmon, raw oysters, mussels and so forth, but they also have quite a bit of those that are slightly less common.

giant grouper, various types of pasta, roast beef
giant grouper, various types of pasta, roast beef

For example, look at this giant grouper that was at least my weight. Cut into tiny pieces, steamed, and served in a little silver spoon, now that is not something you see everyday.

spicy ox tail soup, nasi beriyani, pulut kunyit
spicy ox tail soup, nasi beriyani, pulut kunyit

Zest is not pretentious, they describe their kitchen staff as a “team of talented Malaysian chefs” and this reflects on their dishes. You find plenty of local food prepared with high quality ingredients. One of my favorites of the night was the ox tail soup curry, and I hazard to say that it was the best ox tail soup I’ve had.

fruit basket, bread, seafood salad
fruit basket, bread, seafood salad

One thing you don’t find at Zest is Japanese food. There’s no sashimi, no sushi, no cute little chawamushi or teppanyaki. I don’t miss it though, I prefer my Japanese food from dedicated Japanese restaurants anyway, and there is already plenty of others to choose from here.

spoilt for choices when it comes to desserts
spoilt for choices when it comes to desserts

The desserts at Zest, if you would just one of each item available, there will be no room left for appetizer or main course. The variety is pretty intimidating and should make anyone with sweet tooth very happy.

Ultimately I think Zest is a pretty good no-nonsense all-day-dining restaurant with a price tag that is quite reasonable. As for the RM 10 million renovation, well.. it is nice but RM 10 million nice? That will depend on your taste.

Haze and KY, and some of the stuff we ate at Zest, Marriott Putrajaya
Haze and KY, and some of the stuff we ate at Zest, Marriott Putrajaya

Meals at Zest are served as follows:

  • buffet breakfast @ RM48++ (6:30am – 10:30am)
  • buffet lunch @ RM72++ (12pm – 2pm)
  • buffet dinner @ RM 82++ (6:30pm – 10:30pm)
  • weekend brunch @ RM 55++ (12pm – 4pm)

There’s also ala carte menu available all day.

map to marriott putrajaya

Zest at Marriott Putrajaya
IOI Resort, 62505 Putrajaya
GPS: 2.969784, 101.707993
Tel: 03-8949 8888

A few months ago Haze and I were at Segambut looking for an ATM machine, we arrived at RHB bank at Jalan Segambut Tengah and parked the car just in front of Kedai Makanan Hoi Kee.

Sitting just outside the kopitiam there was an uncle busy deep frying some sort of meat with irresistible aroma. I walked over to find out what he was doing, it was a Sunday.

restaurant Hoi Kee at Segambut
restaurant Hoi Kee at Segambut

“Oh, this pork belly, for nasi lemak and we’re open from Monday to Saturday for breakfast and lunch”

And the good uncle gave us each a piece of that pork belly to chew on. The memory of that piece of pork belly deep fried with 5 spice (from what I can tell) and god knows what other spices was so awesome I knew I just had to visit the stall to taste the nasi lemak for sure.

glorious nasi lemak with pork belly
glorious nasi lemak with pork belly

I’ve since been to the same kopitiam 2 more times but missed out the nasi lemak (finished, had very curry mee instead, will blog about that eventually). But last week, on the 3rd try, I finally got it!

The nasi lemak with pork “set” comes with 2 pieces of the pork belly, some silver fish (instead of ikan bilis), a quarter hard boiled egg, kang kung, sambal with shallots, cucumber, and of course, that fragrant coconut rice. The whole thing was about RM 5 or so.

and I finished everything, clean.
and I finished everything, clean

Was it good? Absolutely.

Would I go back again? For sure!

Another pork nasi lemak can be found at PJ’s 6-10 Nasi Lemak and Grill, but they are very different though.

map to Hoi Kee at Segambut

Kedai Kopi & Makanan Hoi Kee
No. 2, Jalan Segambut Tengah,
Segambut, 51200 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.18564, 101.67633

It just occured to me that half of June has passed and there isn’t a cooking post for the month yet. So lets get back to the plan of writing at least 2-3 recipes every month on this blog. After all not everyone can visit those restaurants, but cooking can be done at every home!

ikan kembung with petai
ikan kembung with petai

Today’s recipe will be tumeric marinated ikan kembung with stir fried petai. This isn’t exactly a recipe from anywhere but rather a combination that I made up when ingredients at hand.

As it turned out, the dish wasn’t too shabby at all, anyone who loves petai and some good old fashion fried kampung fish should find this palatable.

marinate ikan kembung with tumeric powder and salt
marinate ikan kembung with tumeric powder and salt

Alright, here are the ingredients, they’re easy enough to be obtained from any wet market.

  • 6 small to medium ikan kembung (mackerel)
  • 2 table spoon tumeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 20-30 petai (according to liking)
  • 6-8 chili padi (slice in halves)
  • garlic & ginger (slices)

remove center stem from petai to prevent that bitter taste
remove center stem from petai to prevent that bitter taste

Instructions for the fish:

  • clean and make sure fish is dry (to prevent splashing oil)
  • rub the fish with generous amount of tumeric powder, and some salt
  • heat up oil in frying pan to medium heat
  • fry fish for about 5-8 minutes per side
  • remove fish and place on plate

pan fry fish in oil, then stir fry petai with chili padi, garlic, ginger
pan fry fish in oil, then stir fry petai with chili padi, garlic, ginger

And here’s the preperation method for the petai:

  • before even frying fish, prepare petai by removing the center stem to ensure no bitter taste
  • after fish is done, remove all but 2 tablespoon of oil in frying pan
  • stir fry garlic, ginger, petai, and chili padi all at the same time in medium heat until fragrant (3-4 minutes)
  • serve on top of kembung, and you are done!

The result is a dish that should stand up to scruitiny by any kampung aunties and perhaps pontential mother in laws. Good luck!


Xperia Play review photo

In another news, for those of you who’ve been waiting for the perfect device that combines communication, multimedia, and gaming, the wait is over. Sony Ericsson Xperia Play has landed.

This baby is the PlayStation™ Certified Android smartphone. Playing games with full touchscreen phones like Xperia Arc is fun, but it is a whole different level of fun when you have dedicated D pad and physical keys.

You can get this phone via Celcom for as low as RM 848 with Celcom Exec plans. Do check out Celcom website for more.

Good char kuih teow is harder to come by in KL than honest salesmen, but as with them salesmen, every once in a while you do find one that aren’t part of the rule.

I’m still looking for that elusive salesman, but for char kuih teow, there is the stall at Win Heng Seng kopitiam at Jalan Imbi.

Win Heng Seng kopitiam also have a good dry yong tau foo
Win Heng Seng kopitiam also have a good dry yong tau foo

If you recall from earlier post, this Win Heng Seng kopitiam is the very same one that also has the really awesome pork noodle.

So anyway, I had 3 pieces of yong tau foo (RM 2.40) as appetizer while waiting for the char kuih teow (which tends to be a bit busy). The yong tau foo actually turned out pretty good. It was the type without soup, but soaked in chili and sweet sauce and topped with sesame. Delightful.

the char kuih teow, was really awesome except for the smallish prawns
the char kuih teow, was really awesome except for the smallish prawns

Then of course, came the char kuih teow. The fatter type of flat noodle is used here, it had a good dose of “wok hei” going on. There were the usual beans spouts, blood cockles, those bits of “choi pou” (salted vege), and a couple smallish prawns you can’t exactly see.

While the prawns certainly did not impress, the taste of this char kuih teow was very good. So good that I don’t mind the lack of giant shrimps. It was a tad oily, a tad sinful, a tad salty, but exactly what a good plate char kuih teow should tastes like.

I am missing it already.

map to restaurant Win Heng Seng

Other good char kuih teow in Klang Valley includes Robert’s at Seksyen 17,  Lau Wan (halal) and Aunty Gemuk (halal) at Kelana Jaya

Restaurant Win Heng Seng
Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.145479, 101.715087

my Giant mountain bike
my little Giant mt. bike – Terrago Team

In another news, I recently bought a mountain bike in order to burn all those foods that try to find their way to stay around my waist. It’s a Taiwanese bicycle with Japanese parts built in Malaysia.

Got the bike off a nice Malay chap from Shah Alam who was kind enough to transport it all the way to my house. I’m now waiting for a phone mount so that I can record some rides with Endomondo. Cycled to futsal last week and well, I survived. 😀

In case you haven’t read about it, here’s a story of how I hit a car’s side view mirror with a bicycle back in my high school days

When I first heard about My Elephant sometimes last year (or 2 years ago?), I’ve been telling myself to pay a visit. But for some reasons that did not happen until just a couple weeks ago, and boy I wished I had done it way earlier. This place really lives up to all the hype circulating online.

My Elephant Thai restaurant at PJ Seksyen 17
My Elephant Thai restaurant at PJ Seksyen 17

My Elephant is situated at Happy Mansion, on the ground floor of the first of three really old school apartment blocks. The restaurant really does not fit in to the area, but that only adds to its charm. This is just a block from Food Foundary, a place that serves really good mille crepe.

We went at on a Wednesday night, and even then the place was packed with diners. A good sign, the three of us were seated, and then we made our orders. The restaurant is air conditioned, comfortable, and decorated with little ornaments and drawings that looks to be from Chatuchak, but not in a good way.

fish cake, seafood tomyam, brown rice, deep fried chicken
fish cake, seafood tomyam, brown rice, deep fried chicken

We ordered 5 dishes, and had brown rice to go with. I usually dislike brown rice (RM 3/pax), but over here they are rather fragrant and adds to the overall flavor when eaten with the other dishes.

The fish cake (RM 8) was slightly salty and not hiding any Thai “flavors”, a good dish to start.

When in a Thai restaurant, a must-order is usually the tomyam, and over here they serve up a pretty mean bowl. While not overly spicy, the seafood tomyam (RM 20) we was packed with mushroom, prawns, squid and more.

The deep fried chicken (RM 15) is my favorite dish of the evening. They were cut in small chunks with plenty of crispy skin accompanying each piece, and together with strong marinate and curry leaves, man, you have to really try it to realize that deep fried chicken can be this good. I like this more than KFC, and that is saying a lot, I love my KFC.

paku pakis, gai tod gratiam prik thai duck salad
paku pakis, gai tod gratiam prik thai duck salad

The vegetable dish I ordered was paku pakis (fern, RM 15). I first tried fern at Lala Chong with cheesie and instantly loved it. The version here is even better, *yums*

Our last dish was Thai duck salad (gai tod gratiam prik, RM 15). A pretty typical Thai style salad that is sour, spicy, and work your tongue to its limit. We liked it too.

map to My Elephant at Seksyen 17

If you love Thai food and haven’t tried My Elephant yet, pay a visit. For weekends it is advisable to call for booking though.

Remember, consumption of awesome Thai food will leave you wanting more 2 days later, when you feel them coming out. 😛

Block C-G4, Happy Mansion,
Jalan 17/13, Seksyen 17,
46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.122486, 101.634747
Tel: 0 10-220 1283