Sunday, July 28, 2013


The modern metropolis that's Guangzhou - gateway to Greater China
Come August 2013 those residing in Guangzhou, China will have a chance to enjoy fried Hokkien mee, chicken rice and other typical Malaysian hawker's fare with the opening of Lot 10 Hutong Guangzhou.
Chua Lam with Angel Wong - emcee for the Lot 10 Hutong PC
Renowned celebrity food critic, author, TV producer and media host Chua Lam - Lot 10 Hutong’s International Brand Ambassador even flew in to Kuala Lumpur recently to announce the globalization of Hutong in Guangzhou, China in conjunction with the opening of “Layumcha” from Hong Kong and Tai Lei Loi Kei from Macau at Lot 10 Hutong KL.

According to Tan Sri Dr Francis Yeoh CBE (2nd from right), managing director of YTL Corporation Berhad, the debut of Hutong Guangzhou will serve as a catalyst for the brand to conquer Greater China as the Chinese's growing appetite for its unique Nanyang heritage cuisine.

Headed by Mr Ralph Hu, Zhujiang New Town Development is the new CBD and financial center of Guangzhou, China’s third largest city after Beijing and Shanghai. An ultra modern megapolis with a population of over 104.4 million people, Guangzhou is the region’s gateway into China.  

Chua Lam explained that “Hutong - situated on level one in the Fuli Yingxin Building - is directly accessible from the main entrance. Its modern, designer chic space will feature 19 Malaysian heritage brands spread over 2095 square meters. On the upper level, the Tsai Lan (or Chua Lam) City of Fusion Foods will offer premium gourmet delights, dry and wet food from Hong Kong and Taiwan.”
YTL Group Managing Director, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh and Executive Chairman,Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay

Tan Sri Francis Yeoh said “After being away across the Nanyang for centuries, we have not forgotten our cultural and culinary roots. Today, we are proud to bring the culinary legacies of Nanyang’s best comfort food to share with folks, friends and fellow countrymen back to our homeland.”
Crowd puller...the new Tai Lei Loi Kei Macau Pork Bun outlet at Lot 10 Hutong KL

“For years Malaysia has been importing food products from China. Now, with Hutong in Guangzhou, the reverse is happening - we are exporting our secret heritage recipes from the Nanyang to appeal to Chinese palates everywhere in the world” he concludes.

The new Layumcha outlet at Lot 10 Hutong
Opened in December 2007, Lot 10 Hutong was conceived to share the Malaysian legacy with today's younger generation, as a reminder of their cultural roots and culinary heritage in the face of urbanization, and the profusion of western fast food and other alternatives.

Raise the red ribbons...(left-right) Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, Chua Lam, Executive Chairman Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay, VP Of YTL Land & Development Joseph Yeoh and Chef Xing Kor of Layumcha
After the press conference, all the VVIPs present adjourned downstairs to perform two opening ceremonies: the first at “Layumcha” (“The Etiquette of Tea Appreciation”) - a new dim sum tea house headed by Master Chef Xing Kor from Hong Kong and the second, Tai Lei Loi Kei - Macau's renowned Pork Chop Bun.
The VVIPs posing with Ms Wendy Chan of Tai Lei Loi Kei
From our sampling of the crispy, chunky deep-fried Brazilian pork chop, we find the pork chop has a rich and mellow taste. The secret lies in the eatery's homemade marinade - an inherited recipe passed down from two generations that includes brandy and Portuguese spices in it. Sandwiched in between crusty buns with that are baled in a wood-fired oven to render them crunchy on the outside but soft inside, the meat is moist and flavourful to the bite without any other condiments. 

The pork chop can also be sampled with Macau-style wantan meen or steamed white rice, with an additional fried egg if desired. Other specialities to savour here include curried fish balls, fried chicken wings and serradura - a delicate Macanese dessert made from whipped cream, condensed milk and crushed Marie biscuits.

Friday, July 26, 2013


*Continuation of our Buka Puasa reviews highlighting top five dishes from five hotel buffets

For a city born and bred gal like me whose roots are firmly entrenched in KL, I can only imagine the convivial atmosphere of a Malay kampong especially during the breaking of fast and festive Hari Raya celebrations. 

That's why I never passed up the invitation to buka puasa at The JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur. Set-up to mimic the vibrant atmosphere of a typical Malay kampung, the hotel's chefs work hard to replicate 108 of nenek’s (granny's) traditional recipes and some 30-odd modern interpretations for its annual buka puasa buffet throughout the holy month of Ramadhan.

After scouring the colourful collection of gerai – rustic wooden stalls where a wide assortment of goodies are laid out, our top 5 picks comprise:

1. Ikan Panggang

Grilled fish fans will be reeled in by the freshly barbecued selection of local fishes such as cencaru and kembung marinated in piquant spice paste. Enjoy these delicious offerings with dips of sambal belacan, black soya sauce with chilli or tamarind juice with sliced shallots and chilli.

In addition, there's a whole lamb roasted on a charcoal spit plus tandoori meats and seafood to please both young and old alike.
2. Satay 
A definite hit with many guests as the pots serving these meaty skewers were perpetually empty. The tender, flavourful chunks of beef were so scrumptious they barely need dipping into the ubiquitous peanut sauce. Those who eschew beef will find the chicken version equally outstanding.
3. Daging Salai Masak Lemak dengan Bachang
A distinctive dish that you should look out for is Daging Salai Masak Lemak dengan Bachang, a rich beef curry cooked with bachang or horse mango, a tropical mango-like fruit that tempers the coconut milk richness with its inherent tartness.

4. Sambal Udang dengan Petai
This is one dish that makes its presence 'smelt' due to the inclusion of pungent petai (stink beans). Their strong scent and unique flavour add a unique dimension to the fiery red, spicy prawn sambal, making it thoroughly enjoyable for those who relish this rustic delicacy.
5. Tepung Pelita
Another evergreen kuih that will delight sweet-toothed fans with its delicate green and white layers encased in square pandan leaf vessels. The jade-green rice flour mixture is coloured and scented with fragrant pandan leaves whilst the creamy coconut milk topping is slightly salted for contrast.
Tempe Goreng Bercili
Of course, granny's comforting selection isn't limited to just five. Notable favourites that hark back to hearth and home include sup ekor (oxtail soup), tempe goreng bercili (compressed fermented soya bean cakes stir-fried with chilli), rendang kerang (dry cockles curry), tongkeng ayam goreng (fried bishop's nose), ikan keli kuah lemak (catfish in turmeric and coconut milk gravy) and ayam masak merah (red curried chicken).
Ayam Masak Merah

Sup Ekor
Sweet endings range from freshly sliced fruits and bubur (legume porridges) to ais kacang and customary treats such as kuih bahulu (dainty sponge egg cakes) and wajik (steamed glutinous rice cakes with palm sugar).

Sticky but yummy Wajik

The JW Marriott Ramadhan buffet is priced at RM75++ at the Poolside and RM65++ at the 4th floor Starhill Conference Centre. For reservations, please
call +603-2719 8666.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Continuation of this year's Ramadan series highlighting the top 5 dishes from five hotel buka puasa buffets

Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel unleashes its multinational culinary force to cook up a gastronomic feast for buka puasa at its  halal-certified Essence restaurant until 6 August. At the sneak preview, we were treated to a plethora of specialities from around the world but the best of the best ranks as such:

 1. The All Star Steamboat

Its all-star billing is no joke. Imagine having to pick one out of six types of broths: Jonker Street Asam Pedas, Thai Tom Yam, Penang Nyonya Curry, Chicken Soto, Napoli (Italian) Beef Braising Broth and Secret Seafood but take heart, each table will get at least a choice of two so you'd have a steamy time all right. We haven't even touch on the vast array of meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, noodles, fish balls and fish paste items that you can select...but I'm sure you get the idea.

2. Sup Tulang Merah

From down south comes this hearty, full bodied Singapore-style lamb stew. Fiery red but deeply rustic and bursting with deep-seated tomato flavour, I love every spoonful of it.

3. Yemeni Mandy Lamb Rice

Similar to briyani, this saffron-scented rice with roast lamb, fresh coriander and crispy fried shallot is a comforting treat that leaves you replete. Spoon some of that chunky tomato sauce (its enticing flavour reminds me of salsa) over the fluffy grains to temper the dish's richness. The Mandy Rice is available for take away at Toastina Café & Bar from 4pm until 6pm until 6 August at RM15nett per person.

4. Oppa Kandar Style Daging Masak Hitam

Once you have a bite of this superb tasting beef dish, you'd gladly cross over to the "dark side" ;D The depths of briny-sweet, spiced accents are gradually released as you masticate and chew on the tender beef cubes. Kinda like beef jerky but juicier.

This speciality is part of the Penang Nasi Kandar-type array such as spicy Hj Kassim Fish Head Curry, crispy Mamak-style Battered Fried Squid and delicious Hj Kundur Honeyed Chicken that will be served as part of the hotel's lavish buka puasa buffet.
5. Kuih Bakar

One of my perennial favourites, this custardy-spongy local cake's appeal lies in its slightly toasty crust sprinkled with sesame seeds on top. In the East Coast, the eggy, pandan-flavoured and floral shaped treat is also known as Kuih Kemboja.

What else should you zoom in on? For starters, choice picks include Kerabu Jantung Pisang (banana flower salad), Ox Tongue Percik Salad (only if you love offal and such), grilled sugarcane chicken salad (nice and moist, this Vietnamese-inspired delight really hits the spot) and Stuffed Marinated Prawns with Young Mango Salad.

Don't know about 'apa lagi Cina mau' (what else does the Chinese want) but at this feast, I guarantee you will surely 'mau makan' (wanna eat) some Hot & Spicy Tiger Prawns with Oats and Kowloon-style Steamed Half Shell Scallops with Black Beans.

Even the resident Italian chef refuses to be outdone...chef Alessandro Graziosi will proffer his Herb-braised Beef Prime Ribs with Potato Mille Feuille and a super-rich Cannelloni Spinach & Ricotta Gratin with Parmesan Bechamel Sauce.


To sweeten you up, there's evergreen favourites of Home Made Durian Crepe (a boon for durian lovers), Traditional Tapai Pulut (love the tingly effect this fermented creation has on the palate) wrapped in rubber leaves and Kuih Cara Berlauk (savoury little cakes filled with spicy meat or dried prawn filling) to name but a few.

Essence's buka puasa buffet is priced at RM108++ per person. For reservations, call Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel’s Essence restaurant, +60 3 2717 9933 or go online for further details.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Mind-boggling and jaw-dropping was how I felt after I surveyed The Westin Kuala Lumpur’s Juadah Iftar-Night of Traditions spread. 

Muslim patrons will have the chance to break their day-long fast with Zam Zam water served at their tables.  A selection of refreshing, ice-cold drinks such as sugar cane, sirap bandung (rose syrup with milk) and soya bean among others is also available to quench one's thirst.

The entire restaurant resembles a festive night market, complete with a gambus-strumming musician and live cooking stations dishing out 101 local delights for buka puasa.

Downstairs at the Lower Lobby, a small exhibition and display of imported marble, leather and brass handicrafts is held; a boon for those who wish to spruce up their homes for the coming Hari Raya celebration.
It's a veritable treasure trove of fine rosewood furniture, hand-knotted carpets and intricate, hand-embroidered fabrics with gold and coloured threads.

But I digress. Back to the food front, these are the 'must makan' dishes when you break fast at The Living Room:
1. Westin Briyani  

Golden hued briyani rice with pillowy thick Mamak-style omelette, braised spiced pineapple & cucumber salad, sesame seeds, fried shallot, cashews and chunky beef pieces. Scrumptious on its own or accompanied by Rendang Paru (sliced beef lungs simmered in chilli and spice paste with coconut milk), Sambal Goreng Jawa (fresh prawn sambal) and Daging Gulai Kawah (curried beef).

2. Ayam Kampung Gulai Nangka

A typical kampung dish that should assuage the longing for one's far-flung village or hometown. This rustic, simple but super-sedap chicken and young jackfruit with cassava leaves curry will transform plain white rice into something utterly magical; its delicate spiciness and lemak richness heartwarmingly comforting.

3. Hot Dog
This is an unexpected addition but what's a Malaysian pasar malam without a burger stall? It's a hot hit too especially with young diners who couldn't get enough of the tender chicken frankfurters. I give it the thumbs up too as these are the better quality ones; mine had a faintly charred smokiness to it which made it even more irresistible. There are also chicken patties in burger buns which are not too bad either.

 4. Roasted Snapper with Chive Cream Sauce

Ok, this is not very Malay but there's no reason why you should miss out on this gorgeous specimen. The fish's firm, sweet flesh tasted superb enough on its own. Turn it into an epicurean delight by dabbing on a little of the oniony chive cream sauce that will have you returning for more.
5.  Indian Odyssey
Tease your tastebuds with a distinctly different spectrum of spices from the Indian continent over at the Indian kitchen. The chefs on duty will oblige your requests for oven-fresh Naan, Chapati and Puri. Traditional condiments of Dhall Thadga, Potato Masala, Reshmi Kebab, Lamb Tandoori, Fish Tikka and Prawn Tandoori are available to complement them.

I felt like Aladdin as I uncovered several claypots and found them brimming with piquant curries of Chicken Khadai, Hyderabadi Paneer Tikka Masala, Shabji Jal Frezy, Aloo Ghobi Punjabi and Vegetable Pakora fritters.

Due to the extensive array available, I found more than five delectable dishes of course. I'd recommend these meaty options to sample: mildly spiced shawarma (pic above) and tender baked ribeye with thyme sauce and grilled squid with black soy sauce spiked with bird's eye chillies.

Other popular dishes run the gamut from Prawn & Glass Noodles Kerabu, Nasi Ulam, Assorted Tacos and Kerabu Pelam Daging Bakar (Spiced Mango with Grilled Beef Salad) to Ayam Panggang Pedas Pucuk Paku (Spicy Roasted Chicken with Ground Coconut & Fern Tendrils),  Rojak Buah Hentian Pagoh (Tropical Mixed Fruit Salad with Shrimp Paste Dressing) and Bubur Lambuk. 

I was thrilled to bits when the dessert section proffered wispy swirls of baby pink Candy Floss on a stick; jolting back childhood memories of fun fairs and amusement parks. There was also a bountiful counter of tropical fruit slices of every colour imaginable, Malay kuihs and decadent cakes: Red Velvet Cake (surprisingly moist and topped with a light cheese frosting), Chocolate Ganache, Fudgy Cashewnut Brownie and Cherry Cheesecake as well as local sweet broths.

Priced at RM128++ per adult and at RM64++ per child (complimentary for children below 6 years old), the Ramadan buffet spread will be served from 6.30pm to 10.30pm until 31 July.

Reservations are highly recommended. Call 03-2773 8338 for seats are going like hot cakes.
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