Thursday, March 27, 2014

ARE YOU A HOTTIE? OR A COOL CHARACTER?

In the Chinese food scheme of things, you're either yin or yang. How do you tell which category are you? Maybe this colourful chart will help to determine if you're a hottie or a cool cat...just remember you're special in the huge tapestry of life.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

GET CRACKING AT CRAB FACTORY

Searing hot, tart and salty accents raced across our tongues and caused us to break out into a sweat the minute we had a dose of the Death Valley hot sauce. Just the vapours emanating from the bag of steamed prawns in that lethal sauce alone left our eyes tearing and throats rasping.
 
But that is exactly what made getting down and dirty at PJ's latest crab restaurant - Crab Factory Original Louisiana Boil such fun. Forget about dining utensils and tableware; brace yourselves for a fun albeit messy hands-on affair with back-to-basic serving style i.e. pour the food out onto plastic sheet-covered tables.
No need to mind your Ps and Qs here as the Crab Factory invites you to embrace the no-frills simplicity yet unrestrained robustness of Creole and Cajun cooking where casual backyard seafood boils are the norm rather than the exception.
 
This novel dining experience from Louisiana - the home of Jazz and Blues struck such a resonant chord with T.Y. Ooi and her pals after their adventurous road trip to the U.S. that they decided to replicate it for fellow Malaysians. Decked in industrial chic elements and rustic wood accents, the brightly-lit restaurant evokes a laidback casualness that puts diners instantly at ease.
While perusing the menu, nibble on irresistible starters such as crispy House Fried Baby Squid (available in Garlic or Cajun flavours, RM10.90) and Southern Chicken Wings (Garlic or Cajun). Both are incredibly addictive thanks to their crunchy batter coating that's either garlicky or zingy hot.
 
 
I can't put my finger on it but there's something about Gumbo that I like. Laden with rice, beans, corn, shredded chicken and sausage, the heartwarming Southern broth had me slurping up to the last spoonful.
If you have kids in tow, the Pollock Fish Fingers with Garlic Fries would be a surefire hit. Bite into the light batter coating and be rewarded with sweet, flaky white fish that went like a dream with the house made mayo dip.
 
 
Conversation literally ceased the minute we were inundated by bags of king crabs, yabbies, meat crabs, Japanese snails, prawns and mussels in quick succession. Steamed with different house sauces: zesty lemon pepper, garlic butter or Southern hot sauce, each of us inevitably found a variant or two that hit the spot. There's no charge for mild or medium hot sauce while the O'ly Crab or Death Valley hot version will incur a token charge of RM5.
 
The dining experience was unabashedly fun with everyone throwing caution to the wind and getting their hands dirty in their concentrated attempts to crack, pry open and extract the sweet, chunky morsels from shells and carapaces.
 
According to Ooi, she sources and imports the seafood for Crab Factory from different countries to ensure maximum freshness. "Depending on your choice of seafood, the items are charged according to prevailing market prices. These are listed on our menu boards for easy reference."
 
Regardless of the seafood you choose, Ooi recommends substantiating each order with some 'bag buddies' (RM4-RM7.90): chicken sausages, potatoes, corn cob and button, king or enoki mushrooms.
Crab Factory is worth a visit for those who wants a change from local seafood preparations.

CRAB FACTORY ORIGINAL LOUISIANA BOIL, 21, Jalan SS2/64, 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tel: 03-7865 5850. Business hours: Mon, Wed & Thurs: 3pm - 11pm, Fri, Sat &Sun: 11am - 11pm. Close on Tuesdays.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

MALIQA'S LATEST MED-LEY

In Persian, maliqa means queen consort. It's also the name of a Mediterranean restaurant tucked away in a quiet nook of Bukit Damansara owned by Syed Salehuddin Wafa (he's one of half of the winning duo in 'The Apartment' reality TV show) and Izzy Ani Arope with several close buddies.
Opened about one and a half years ago, the restaurant has grown from strength-to-strength; a constant magnet for those seeking hearty Turkish, Greek or Italian specialities to satisfy their tastebuds. This is evident from the additional tables in the main dining area and by the owners' admission, the cosy lounge cum dining room upstairs catering is already quite a hit with big dining parties.
The menu has also undergone some changes from our last visit (over a year ago). With a new chef at the helm, we discover some unexpected gems while popular mainstays such as Moussaka (RM23.90) has been retained. I still recall that seamless collusion of cheesy and meaty layers with slightly charred eggplant slices.
On this visit, the curtain-raiser came in the form of Salmon Bruschetta (RM12.90) - toasted baguette slices topped with diced tomato and olives, and smoked salmon. We loved the intermingling of flavours and textures that built up our anticipation of the other dishes to come.
Luckily, the soulfully delicious Seafood Soup (RM10.90) didn't disappoint. Brimming with bright, sunny accents that are synonymous with the Mediterranean coast, we lapped up every spoonful of the tangy, creamy tomato-based broth spiked with paprika amidst succulent mouthfuls of mussel, calamari and fish.
Another deep-sea treasure that kept us riveted was the Baked Mussels & Cheese (RM26.90 half dozen). Served on the half shell and smothered with melted cheese, the tender, chewy mussels bestowed unexpected bursts of subtle sweetness and brininess on the palate from the inclusion of diced red capsicum and black olives.
The 'less is more' approach won the day for the Mushroom Risotto. Although one of the simplest and plainer dishes, we were smitten by the grains' soft, creamy but slightly nutty texture and rich, woody nuances.
A little acidity went a long way in raising the Salmon Steak with Lemon Cream Sauce (RM43.90) to notable heights. Cooked to blush-pink tenderness, the naturally oily fish went like a dream with the accompanying sauce.
Red meat lovers would enjoy Lamb Shank with Tomato Cream Sauce (RM39.90). The mildly gamey meat was suffused with deep-seated flavours and that degree of tenderness that held its own without it disintegrating at the prodding of our forks.
Regular crowd favourites such as Roast Chicken with Mushroom or Black Pepper Sauce (RM23.90), and the Maliqa House Steak (RM46.90) remained in the current menu; samplings of  both instantly reinforced their perennial popularity.
Dessert choices are rather limited. If Apple Crumble (RM8.90) and Tiramisu (RM8.90) don't appeal to you, the only alternative left is ice cream or you could check what is the day's dessert offering. A negligible shortcoming compared to the more than ample main offerings that await you at Maliqa.

Maliqa, 49, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Plaza Damansara, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2095 0002

Friday, March 21, 2014

SAFETY FIRST (UPDATED)




Don't know about you but I'm an avid traveller. Naturally changing times mean our travel habits are also transforming. Nowadays I find it hard to disconnect from the slew of gadgets I tote around especially if it's a working trip.


While I'm more vigilant when I'm out and about on my daily routine, staying safe online is a different kettle of fish all together. But thanks to some useful and timely tips from Norton by Symantec, I'm relooking at ways to stay safe online during my travels.


As a frequent user of the internet and various apps downloaded into my BB, I find these handy hints listed by Norton by Symantec worth sharing:

·       Secure our mobile device and tabletEnsure our mobile devices and portable tablets have Internet security software before we travel. A comprehensive security solution for all our gadgets such as Norton 360 Multi-Device from Norton by Symantec can prevent possible online fraud and stop strangers from using our precious gadgets in case of loss or theft. It will also detect and eliminate mobile threats, block unwanted calls and texts, and provides anti-phishing web protection at airports and other risky public Wi-Fi areas.

·       Mind our settingsSet any Bluetooth devices to "hidden" instead of "discoverable". Better still turn OFF the Bluetooth function and disable geo-tracking on smartphones.

·       Reset passwordsUse strong passwords on all mobile devices, laptops, and tablets.  Remind family members to do the same. Also, change your network configuration to manually select any wireless network that it joins instead of automatic selection.

·       Back up!Before you leave, remember to back up your files, programmes and your personal data.

·       Share with caution Avoid sharing actual holiday dates, places, and time with friends and family on social media and/or online as criminals always look for such information to locate your house and steal from you. Better to be safe than sorry so remember to be cautious when talking about your holiday plans online.


·       Beware of fake promotions – Be careful when clicking on travel promotions and offers for flight or hotel booking as they might be disguised to look like trusted and reputable brands to steal your personal information.


·       Avoid online financial or important transactions Complete all your financial transactions before you depart. Avoid entering user names and passwords on a busy, crowded, and unsecured airport Internet. Always assume your Wi-Fi connection, particularly at the airport, is vulnerable. Limit email and IM to casual communication.

·       Remind your kids Teach your kids about smart and safe Internet use in public places. Tell them to be wary of anyone sitting too close and  ensure they NEVER share their user names and passwords. Insist on them sticking to off-line games and videos instead of online activities especially at the airport or other crowded public places.

·       Stay alert“Shoulder surfers” are crooks that zoom in on people who are so absorbed in online activity that they won’t notice someone else 'memorising' their passwords and other information that's being keyed in.

These identity thieves hang around airports, hotel lobbies, crowded bars or restaurants – anywhere where you might be mindlessly surfing the Internet.  Be aware of your surroundings!   If you can read the magazine of someone seated nearby, they can probably read your laptop or tablet screen too. Why not buy an affordable privacy screen as a great in-flight option? They’re sold at most stationery shops.


·       Turn off file sharingIf you have highly sensitive, confidential or personal data, consider storing it elsewhere. Always turn off file sharing at airports and crowded public places.

So what's the solution for intrepid travellers like us? This is where the latest Norton 360 Multi-Device from Norton by Symantec comes in handy. Designed for compatibility with the new features of Windows 8.1, the Norton 360 Multi-Device software is a single licence that protects up to five different devices: PCs, Mac, iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones or tablets.

The latest version of Norton 360 Multi-Device is priced at RM189 and provides one year of protection for up to three devices. Now available for purchase in Malaysia through various retailers and online at http://malaysia.norton.com.

WIN A FREE COPY OF 
NORTON 360 MULTI-DEVICE!


I'd love to hear from you! What are YOUR best tips on staying safe online 
The three (3) best answers will each receive a copy of Norton 360 Multi Device (worth RM249 each). Each copy of Norton 360 Multi Device provides one year of protection for up to five devices just for you! Share your tips in the Comment Box or email: alice12134@gmail.com before 1 April 2014. Winners will be notified by email.

 * * * * *
Congratulations to Lina for being the FIRST winner! 
Remember - you can still share YOUR TIPS to win
a copy of Norton 360 Multi Device software!

Here are LINA's enlightening tips for staying safe online. 

  1. Install a good antivirus software and make sure it is updated with the latest databases.
  2. Use a password that contains a variety of letters, numbers and symbols and change it regularly.
  3. Visit websites by typing the URL into the address bar, do not follow links. This simple action can help to prevent visiting a fake or malicious website. 
  4. If there is no padlock in the browser window or ‘https://’ at the beginning of the web address to signify that it is using a secure link, do not enter personal information on the site.
  5. Protect computers with firewalls. It reduces threats from hackers by filtering out potentially dangerous data and preventing unauthorized access.
  6. Use Wi-Fi safely with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  7. Do not open email from unknown sources. Some files transport and distribute viruses and other programs that can permanently destroy files and damage computers.
  8. Disconnect from the Internet when not in use. Turning off the Internet makes sure that someone else on the Internet can't enter your computer and cause harm.
  9. Do not be tempted to download programs or apps that are not from a trusted source, as they could contain malwares.
  10. Review all requests for permissions access carefully when installing applications.
  11. Treat all Wi-Fi links with suspicion. It could be a bogus link that has been set up by a cybercriminal that’s trying to capture valuable, personal information from unsuspecting users.
  12. Always log out of sites before closing the browser.