Monday, June 28, 2021



Making charaben or character bento is no child’s play. Learning to prepare it was fun though after I was persuaded to join Meat Livestock Australia’s (MLA) True Beef Up Contest. 

Prior to making the charaben, I reviewed the useful tips gleaned from the Beef Up webinar hosted by MLA. Some of the key takeaways I recall from Mary Easaw, senior lecturer at the International Medical University and consultant dietician at CVSKL Hospital Kuala Lumpur include:

  •    Eating lean red meat three to four times a week is recommended for a healthy balanced diet
  •        Beef, especially True Aussie Beef, is a good source of protein, iron, zinc and other essential nutrients. Australian grass-fed beef is naturally low in fat and cholesterol, while offering a higher level of Omega 3 fatty acids.
  •        Moderation is key to a healthy diet. The basic guideline for a healthy plate is ½ plate colourful, non-starchy vegetables, ¼ plate carbohydrates (potato, pasta, rice) and ¼ plate protein (meat, fish, chicken or tofu)
  •           1 serving of meat = the size of the palm of your hand with the thickness of a deck of cards (65-100g) 1-2 x per week.

Air-fried Aussie beef Salad Nicoise-style shown by Chef Victor Chow

From the Beef Up webinar, we got some practical tips and inspiration from Chef Victor Chow who showed us 3 simple and delicious recipes on how to cook beef. More recipe ideas and information are found in the comprehensive media kit provided to us.

Since I opted for lamb, I decided the True Aussie Lamb Shabu Shabu slices would work well in a lunch box. To ensure it remains in the ‘lamb’ light, a charaben would be a cute and attention-grabbing way to showcase the meat.

It was the pack of Kikkoman Garlic Teriyaki Sauce that gave me the charaben inspiration. 😄



100g Aussie lamb slices

1 pack (25g) Kikkoman Garlic Teriyaki Sauce

1 small pc nori sheet

200g cooked rice

2 tsp vinegar

1 tsp mirin

Pinch of salt

½ tsp mayonnaise

1 pc baby romaine lettuce (chopped)

2 eggs (beaten)

½ tomato (diced)


Marinate Aussie lamb slices with Kikkoman Garlic Teriyaki Sauce for 15 minutes.

Heat pan and sauté lamb slices quickly. Set aside.

Cut nori sheet into two round discs and long “sheep ear” shapes.

Mix cooked rice with vinegar, mirin and salt. Shape and mould into rice balls.

Place each nori disc onto the rice balls with the “sheep ears” on the side. Dot some mayonnaise on top of the nori discs for the “eyes”.

(Tip: Use cupcake or muffin liner to hold rice balls)

Fry beaten egg into omelette, roll it up tightly and slice.

Fill lunch box with chopped baby romaine lettuce.

Place rice balls on top. Fill one quarter of lunch box with sautéed lamb slices. Decorate with diced tomato.

Fill remaining quarter of lunch box with sliced omelette rolls.

# # #

The whole experience was easier than I had anticipated. Not only the lamb slices cooked within minutes, everyone also enjoyed the delicious and meltingly tender meat. For us busy working mothers, #TrueAussieLamb is quick and easy to cook and that’s a godsend!

Bear in mind, lean red meat has lower fat content than chicken too. Trimmed of separable fat, lean beef has average 2.7g fat per 100g raw weight while skinless chicken has 3.5g.

Nutrient-wise, red meat is a great source of Iron (important for brain function), Zinc (for healthy bone development, fertility and immunity) and Omega-3. Other essential nutrients to be found include magnesium, selenium, niacin, potassium, phosphorous, Vitamins B5, B6 and B12 - vital for brain function, muscle development and function, immunity and energy.

During the Beef Up webinar, Sanjay Boothalingam, Australian Agriculture Counsellor from the Australian High Commission, highlighted Australian beef, lamb and goats are renowned for their quality, safety and halal compliance.

“Malaysia is the 3rd largest market for Australian mutton,” said Sanjay. “Australian meat are known for safety, quality, sustainability, reliability and traceability.” 

He also spoke at length on the stringent Halal compliance and legislature framework implemented by the Australian government, covering everything from animal welfare and husbandry, slaughter, on-field and plant audits by JAKIM, to import permits. 

Friday, April 23, 2021


Homestyle Thai cooking by Kanchanaburi-born chef Chutikan Parnphan or fondly known as Amy rules the roost at Meat & Sea KL – a Thai restaurant which opened last month in Desa Sri Hartamas.

Besides the chef’s signature specials, the menu highlights some Isan (Thailand’s northeastern province) culinary gems such as Moo Ping (RM18) and Kor Moo Yang (RM18). In Thai, ‘moo’ means pork and ‘ping’ means barbecue. 

Suffice to say, the Barbecued Pork on Sticks Skewers are showstoppers in their own right: tender and juicy to the bite, the meat delectably slicked with a sumptuously sweet-savoury-garlicky marinade. Yums!
Ditto for the Grilled Pork Neck. Brimming with enticing charred smokiness and the on-point fat-lean ratio turned us into proverbial greedy pigs. The accompanying house dip is great for dialling up the heat- and flavour-o-meter.

Working with her own supplier to source for the necessary ingredients gives Chef Amy the freedom to serve seasonal and off-menu items. For example, although Som Tum Mamuang or Mango Salad isn’t on the restaurant menu, patrons can request for it in advance.  According to Meat & Sea KL, they will strive to fulfill customers’ requests for off-menu dishes provided the required ingredients are available.

A flavour bomb of a salad, the Som Tum Mamuang comprises crunchy slivers of green mango tossed with chopped bird’s eye chili, peanuts, dried shrimps, dried chilli flakes, lime juice, and fish sauce. Be forewarned this is a tear and sweat-inducing offering but in a palatably pleasing way.

No Thai meal is complete with the ubiquitous tom yum soup. Chef Amy’s Tom Yum Talay (RM27 – medium, RM38 – large) is chockful of prawns, squid and mussels as well as cubes of eringi mushroom for extra textural interest.

The soup’s piquant hotness boasted a nice creamy finish, underscored by the distinct grassy-citrusy accents of sawtooth herb (Eryngium foetidum) and lemongrass. Few Thai eateries in Klang Valley include the aforementioned herb in tom yum but it’s such an essential component in its preparation so we give thumbs up to the chef for being such a stickler to details.

Prepared with equal aplomb, the Khao Ka Moo [RM35 – medium, RM60 – large, RM110 – whole leg (pre-order)] is a comforting dish of braised sliced pork leg with salted vegetable, hardboiled eggs and Chinese broccoli. Best eaten with plain rice, we bet this homespun porcine classic would pass even the most finicky matriarch’s taste test.

Meat & Sea KL is also one of the rare Thai restaurants to serve Khai Jiao Cha-Om (RM12), a fluffly omelette laden with Senegalia pennata shoots. Rich in vitamins A, B and C as well as calcium and iron, this Thai herb is a good source of fiber and phosphorus. According to research, cha-om also helps to lower cholesterol, has anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties. It tastes similar to petai (stink beans) but subtler.

The chef’s inimitable touches come to the fore in Pla Kaphng Nung Manaw, Steamed Seabass with Lime and Chilli (RM45 – medium, RM60 – large) and Pad Pak Boong (RM16), Stir-fried Morning Glory with Chilli, Black Bean Paste and Garlic to differentiate them from the usual Thai versions.

Having plump slices of shiitake mushroom scattered amidst the steamed seabass, to soak up the flavourful fish jus was a masterstroke. Another simple yet ingenious trick was using black bean paste to stir-fry the greens for more rounded and controlled umami profile in place of shrimp paste (belacan).

Her delicate handiwork appeared in our Dessert of the Day known as Bua Loy (RM8). Shaped like dainty pearls in pretty pastel hues, the Glutinous Rice Balls in Coconut Milk also included pieces of young coconut flesh.  Do check with the restaurant team on what’s the dessert du jour as it changes frequently.

Some of the house specials such as Tom Yum Talay and Khao Ka Moo are available as part of the resto’s lunch sets (RM19 each). A wallet-friendly deal since some of the meal options includes rice or mee suah, and a glass of ice lemon tea.

For reservations and more information, please call Meat & Sea KL, tel: +6 012 800 4833 from 11am to 6pm Tues to Sat.  Address: 1 Plaza Prismaville, Jalan 19/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur.

Thursday, April 15, 2021


One of the most anticipated buka puasa buffet spreads in Selangor returns full of vibrancy at Cinnamon Coffee House, One World Hotel Petaling Jaya this year. In line with new normal SOPs, disposable gloves are provided and reminders are posted urging guests to practise social distancing.

For starters, seafood lovers will find King Neptune’s treasure trove of fresh Oysters and poached Crabs, Mussels and Prawns on ice to satisfy them. Hankering for Japanese fare for buka puasa? Let the resident chefs bring you to the Land of the Rising Sun with assorted Sushi, Tempura and appetisers.

Those yearning for a taste of their kampung and old-school favourites such as Gulai Kawah, Sup Gearbox, Daging Opor Daun Salam, Nasi Rampai Sari, Kambing Hiris Gulai Daun Limau, Kerabu Telur Goreng or  Kerabu Tempeh, these nostalgic dishes are given pride of place at the buffet line-up. Redolent with local herbs, ground spices, and the richness of coconut milk, you’d find ample satisfaction from the plethora of offerings served.

Also jostling for attention and your tummy space are Malaysia’s multi-cultural specialities that should leave you spoiled for choice: Whole Roast Lamb, Beef Teriyaki, Tandoori Lamb Leg, Goan Seafood Biryani, Lamb Garlic & Tomato, Fish Kebab Cumin, Japanese Tofu with Vegetable & Crabmeat Sauce, Satay, Grilled Fish and Popiah.

Bringing the curtains down is the wide range of dessert, from local Kuih and hawker-style Apam Balik to airy-light Chiffon Cakes and fresh Fruits. Hot and Cold Beverages to wash everything down in addition to Dates are also served.

Available now until 12 May, the Meriah Kembali extravaganza available from 6.30pm to 10.30pm nightly, is priced at RM158 nett per adult and RM79 nett per child (6 – 12 years old).

Reservations are highly encouraged. For further enquiries, please call Cinnamon Coffee House, tel: 03 – 7681 1157 or email:

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