June 10, 2013

House of Udang Galah (H.U.G) @ Hutton Lane

Brought my family for a belated Mother's Day dinner last Saturday, as I've been wanting to bring them here for quite some time now.

Upon glancing through their extensive menu, we finally decided with....

Udang Galah in Chef Specialty Lime Sauce (RM82.50 for 550gm)

I saw a lot of positive remarks on this type of preparation and how much emphasis H.U.G. gave in promoting this as well; and indeed this was a fabulous dish as the fresh water prawns were super fresh, with the deep flavors of H.U.G's signature Lime sauce infused within it well. The sauce was spicy, sourish and refreshing all in one go. Highly recommended and thumbs up!

Cod Fish Steamed with Sugarcane (RM 45 for 300gm)

My dad commented how much he liked all the parsley leaves spread on top of every dish that was served; the Cod was fresh and steamed just nicely. The black fungus was well done and gave it a different twist to this dish. One thing clever that my mom also complimented was the way small pieces of sugar cane were used to expel the fish smell of the Cod.

Braised Homemade Bean Curd With Shiitake Mushroom and Green Vegetable (RM 15 for Small) 

The flavor of this dish was more subtle compared to the first 2 but it was exactly what we were looking for - the right balance between strong aromatic flavors as opposed to a more toned down and delicate one. I was quite amused to find the big sized Enoki mushrooms and I enjoyed the chewy textures alongside the soft Tofu.

Kai Lan with Fish Sole (RM 15 for small)

If the Kai Lan were to be fresh we would definitely enjoy this dish much better as the flavor was there. The fish soles will be more chewable if they were cut into smaller pieces.

Minced Ginger Sauce Boiled Chicken (RM 25 for half bird)

This dish was recommended by the staff however fell short of our expectations, not because it did not taste good; but because we were used to my mom's version which has an ass-kicking ginger and garlic sauce. The sauce here was on the mild side and did not have strong ginger and garlic aroma. Having said that, this may be more suited to general palates since not everyone fancies strong ginger taste. One thing to note was the fact that this dish took a long time to be served.

Probably due to our numerous feedback (more like complaints haha) on the slow arrival of the chichen dish, we had the luxury of enjoying this fusion dessert containing white fungus and mandarin orange slices as a courtesy. The dessert was a sweet ending to a pleasant meal.

Our meal came up to RM 212 with the main contributors being the fresh water prawn and Cod dish.

Another thing to commend was the excellent service given by the staff, as we see all the tables being visited by at least 2-3 staff - most probably the manager or marketing manager. I also had the privilege to meet the Executive Chef Wang himself and thanked him for all the great culinary experience.

We were also informed by the manager that they have a display of all the Seafood produce within its premises, as well as the upper floor which can cater for private functions up to 13 tables (if I remember correctly). Definitely a place worth considering to have private parties or gathering.

In all, my mom gave very good feedback on the good flavours expressed in each of the dishes - if my mom says good it's definitely good as she always feel her dishes are the best in class :)

I would definitely want to make a revisit to try out the extensive array of fresh water prawns cooking variations, including Western style, as well as some interesting dishes as detailed in their menu.

House of Udang Galah
203 A&B, Hutton Lane, Georgetown
10050 Penang, Malaysia.
GPS: 5.421989,100.32699
Tel: (604)-226-4380
Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday
1100 to 1500 hour
1800 to 2300 hour

June 2, 2013

Five27 @ Straits Quay

Had a girls' night out here on Thursday night where we ordered some of Five27's signature Nordic-inspired dishes but were not really impressed.

First up, we were served complimentary baked bread with flavored butter.

This was very good as the bread was soft and naturally sweet, along with the nicely flavored butter complementing it well.

We wanted to fully enjoy our girls' night out with some form of alcohol/liquor, and asked one of the girl staff if it is still Happy Hour, but was given a blunt "I don't know". So I looked at her and asked "Well can you go and find out?" Then only the girl went and asked and told us Happy Hour had ended. After much deliberation, we ended up choosing the Cornellana House Red wine that was recommended by another slightly more experienced staff. Strange enough, we were only informed about "Ladies' Night" when we were paying our bill hence the wine cost us RM 57 instead of RM 75

Then our supposedly 'real food' came

Lightly Salt Cured Salmon (RM 45)
This was served in a honey and dill mustard sauce

I think the biggest mistake made with this dish was the sheer size of the plate that it was served on. It made the salmon fillet looked real small (it was not big to start with) and the most important honey dill and mustard sauce was too scattered that it was hard for us to ensure we had our salmon with it when we eat it.

Nonetheless, all 3 of us agreed that this was one of the best Salmon we had. It was very nicely cooked and just nice when it came to our tongues.When we cut it open, we could still see the Salmon layers clearly and each mouthful was equally flavorful and evenly cooked, maintaining its flavour. We tasted some sweetness to the salmon, but not sure where those sweetness came from, considering that this was salt cured.

This salmon dish was served with baby potatoes and balsamic caramelized onion on the side, this was something not very usual but did not wow us. The taste was just normal.

Then came the Slow Cooked Lamb (RM 48) which was served with mojo rojo sauce (mixed sauces), creamed potato and artichoke, citrus apple salad.

When this dish came we were amused by the red artichoke and thought it was 'sambal' :) The tenderness of the lamb was no doubt a pleasure, however the taste had paled in comparison with its texture. The bed of potato was not too bad and the red artichoke definitely gave a unique 'twist' to this dish.

Finally our last main course came : Shitake Mushroom Lasagna (RM 36)

The presentation looked good, however the actual taste did not reflect the same. The filo pastry was fairly hard and overly chewy in texture, and the truffle taste was too overpowering at the same time.

After working half way through our 3 main courses, we felt the food to fall short on our belly, so we decided to go for one of the item listed under "Chef Recommendations" - Trio of Handsome Sausages (Lamb, Pork and Beef) (RM 40) 

We made a request to only have 1 Lamb and 2 Pork sausages but was given response that the trio sausages 'come in one single pack' (in other words not customizable), so we went on with it as I could have the beef sausage while my 2 pals can have the Lamb and Pork.When the dish came we asked the staff which one was the Beef but none of them could tell, not even after they asked the supposedly chef (or Sous Chef) to come out and identify. This was really terrible as it is a simple sign that none of their people even 'know' the food they were serving to the customers. I had to end up trying out a bit of all 3 of the sausages just to tell which one was the beef.

All the sausages did not taste good at all, despite the fact that they were prettily decorated with flower petals (which I thought was weird). The only consolation to this dish was the Garlic Aioli and also the potato salad which was nice and had a sense of crunchiness with the presence of nuts.   Our total bill came up to RM262.15 - which was super expensive and not value for money considering the quality and portion of the food as well as the service provided.   In all, we could conclude that only the complimentary bread and the Lightly Salt Sured Salmon were worthwhile indulging here at Five27. Hopefully Five27 can further improve on the level of knowledge within the staff/chef to know their food or their service offerings when responding to customer questions.

May 26, 2013

Invited Review : Healthy Eating Workshop @ That Little Wine Bar

I was enticed to participate in this workshop as the invitation sounded too good to be missed. Imagine : How much do we know and understand about the food that we put into our mouths day in and out? 

This workshop was hosted by none other than Chef Tommes, the owner and Chef of That Little Wine Bar and Irrawaddy Fine Foods. I must say it was a very informative and enjoyable 2 hours plus that I had in a long time.
To start off, Chef Tommes was punctual in starting the workshop, something that I too am quite particular of (time). Tommes then proceeded to hit the punchline of "What is considered food and what does food mean to us?"

Throughout the workshop, Chef shared with us about how our body manages the food we eat, how to select fresh ingredients, what are good food and how to make them or where to get them.

We learnt how our body reacts to Sugar, Salt and Fat. For example, the reason we get addicted to food is because of the Salt (NaCl) content, not Sugar actually. However, sweetness is the one triggering happiness.

Why do people get diabetic? That's due to prolonged effect of Insulin pump over-working and ends up giving up its ability to get Glucose out of the blood stream to places the body needs it. As we all know, too much sugar results in Obesity because excess Sugar becomes Fat.  

If diabetic folks were to go on a 3 weeks diet consuming raw vegetables with minimum amount of carbohydrate, they will actually become diabetic-free after which! Which makes us wonder what carbohydrate can do, and why we should keep an eye on its intake.

Everything with starch contains sugar and sugar gives us energy. Glucose or Fructose (from fruits), on the other hand, also gives us sugar, but it goes into the blood stream much faster and in turn exits from the blood stream much faster compared to Sugar as well. 

Many people may also have a perception that they will be able to slim down or lose weight by skipping breakfast, which is a completely wrong theory. The only effect that skipping breakfast will take is GAINING weight. So remember peeps! Always have a good and healthy breakfast every morning!

Chef also shared with us that our body can only digest either Magnesium or Calcium at any one time. The best time to be consuming Magnesium is during early morning as a kick-start to our brain. Good sources of Magnesium include green vegetables like Broccoli. Calcium, on the other hand, can ideally be consumed before bedtime as it helps to make us feel tired for a better sleep. 

Sometimes, we love to patronize Seafood Restaurants and choose the fish right from the tank itself to be assured of its freshness - however such fresh fishes often than not still contain protein which are harder for our body to digest. The protein from a decomposed fish are easier for our body to digest so we are actually better off to get our protein from fishes bought from wet markets.

Speaking of fish, Tommes continued to share about the higher fat content contained in deep sea fishes such as Tuna, Cod (black, white, silver) and Salmon; whereas local fishes are warm mater fishes which contain lesser amount of fat; naturally due to the warm water that they inhabit in not requiring too much fat to keep them warm.

As for shopping for food in Supermarket, the rule of thumb is to always go for those with more 'humble' packaging instead of those 'loud' ones, and avoid those containing artificial sweetening. 

Tommes also answered some questions raised by the participants e.g. how to tell if an egg is still good for consumption? The older an egg gets, the more air gets inside the egg so we can easily tell if a egg had gone bad - just try to put it inside a bowl of water - if it floats on top of it, please chuck it in the bin as it had gone bad. 

Another guide on oil is that the less taste it has - the better the oil is, e.g. grape seed oil. If we were to opt for vegetable oil - go for those which is derived from one type of vegetable, instead of many different vegetables.

Chef prepared a couple of Real Food for us to sample and enjoy:-

Strawberry Marmalade on Home-made Bread

Strawberry marmalde was thick and the only sweetness stemmed from the strawberries themselves. The bread looked plain but tasted light - simple delights

Oat Cookies

These babies were simply marvelous - flavorful yet original - goodness assured.
Glutton-free Sausages

These sausages were not overly springy but had good tastes to them. Most importantly, they are healthy version to the ones easily found in the market today.

Chef Tommes in action (no, he's not part of the food served :P)

Fresh O.J. (Orange Juice) - sugar-free

Only one word to describe - Refreshing.

The workshop session ended with a very good Food for Thought from Chef Tommes: Always eat following the rule of Sustenance vs. Enjoyment. We should follow a good ratio of eating for Sustenance and splurge once in a while on eating for Enjoyment.