Showing posts with label mango. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mango. Show all posts

Friday, April 07, 2023


Coated in airy-light wisps of batter, the crispy catfish with green mango and cashews or Yam Pa Dok Ko (RM48), is the show-stealer at Mera. The huge chunks of deep-fried catfish form a sublime combination with a tart-salty-tangy salad of shredded mango, onion and roasted cashews.

While most Thai restaurants in the Klang Valley serve central Thai food, mostly Bangkok-style, we rarely come across any Thai resto showcasing Isaan food. Now, Mera at Damansara Kim has an Isaan-born chef at the helm, tasked with ensuring the authentic essence of Isaan cooking is retained whilst catering to Malaysian palates.

Dishes from the North-eastern Thai province of Isaan flaunt bolder, more robust flavours: making them spicier and sourer. Culinary influences from Laos and Cambodia also hold sway, with fresh herbs such as lemongrass, galangal, lime, chillies and garlic commonly used. Glutinous rice is another staple; a perfect vessel to capture those punchy, vibrant flavours.
Aside from the memorable crispy catfish salad, Mera serves several typical Isaan salads. Topping the list is Som Tum (RM38), fresh and crunchy Isaan-style young papaya salad with full-blown spicy-briny-sour-garlicky accents. Cherry tomatoes add a tinge of fruitiness to it. 

Another popular option is Larb Moo (RM48), spicy-salty minced pork salad seasoned with fish sauce, chilli flakes, lime juice and assorted fresh Thai herbs. However, the one we tried tasted somewhat underwhelming so if you prefer a no-holds-barred version, let the Mera team know.

Happily, the flavour quotient is dialled back up by Tom Sap, hot and sour pork soup. Thanks to the various aromatics: sawtooth coriander, cilantro, lemongrass, dried chillies, onion and tomatoes, this clear, sweet tom yum soup gets the thumbs up.

Grilled Isaan sausages or Sa Kork Isaan (RM48) are also worth sampling. The stuffing is made using fermented pork mince, rice and garlic, and laced with strands of glass noodles, rendering the sausages with a distinct tang. This popular Isaan street food snack is usually enjoyed with chopped bird’s eye chilli, raw cabbage or cucumber and cut ginger.

Fat. Lean. Gelatinous. These varied meat textures make Kao Ka Moo (RM48), a comforting dish of braised pork trotter with hardboiled egg utterly delectable and soul-satisfying. To counter any discernible meaty richness, we savour the melt-in-the-mouth chunks of pork with blanched greens, pickles and a zingy house made chilli dip.

Kor Moo Yang (RM58) – barbecued pork neck is another crowd-pleaser. The pork slices look rather lean at first glance but on closer inspection, they bear an irresistible layer of fat on top, amplifying the pork’s juiciness. A salty-sweet chilli and toasted rice dip helps to boost the smoky, fatty taste profile.

The flavoursome party continues with Moo Yang Nam Tok (RM48), spicy and sour grilled pork salad. Tossed with shallot, cilantro, lemongrass, mint, basil, and crushed roasted rice; each stimulating mouthful leaves us hankering for more.


Speckled with aromatic fried garlic bits, Gai Yang (RM48) – Isaan-style grilled chicken cuts a swath with us too. Marinated with lemongrass and fish sauce, the juicy and tender chook comes accompanied by a tantalising dip of lime juice, fish sauce, chilli flakes, palm sugar, chopped coriander and toasted rice.

Steamed with lime, chilli and garlic, the deliciously tender squid dish of Pla Muk Meung Manao (RM68) instantly reels us in with its bold, piquant flavours. It’s irresistible when paired with the scrumptious Crispy Pork Fried Rice (RM38). We can’t get enough of the fluffy, wispy egg-coated fried rice studded with cubes of crispy pork crackling.


Pandan juice and pumpkin purée bestow jade green and cheery orange hues for the dessert of glutinous rice balls in sweetened coconut milk. Known as Bua Loy (floating lotus in Thai), the soft and slightly chewy balls, interspersed with strips of jackfruit in the coconut milk, broth prove nice and light yet interesting enough as a sweet conclusion to our meal.

Currently, an a la carte menu is available at Mera. Diners with advance reservations may ask for the chef’s table, featuring a specially composed menu priced from RM150++ upwards per person.


For reservations, call MERA, tel: 018-268 2333. Address: 6, Jalan SS20/10, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

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.

Saturday, October 13, 2018


Bambangan. Tuhau. Tarap. Losun. Wonihan Leaves. How many of these ingredients ring a bell with you?
After 15 years of food writing, I’m painfully aware and slightly ashamed to realise how little I know about the food of Sabah and Sarawak. After the informative and educational Ropuhan di Tanak Wagu cooking demonstration conducted by Pison Jaujip, I vow to learn as much as I can about the wondrous culinary secrets and traditional recipes of East Malaysia.
Held during the recent Cooler Lumpur Festival, Pison’s Ropuhan di Tanak Wagu event enabled the friendly Kadazandusun chap to show how he prepared several Sabahan recipes using local ingredients from the Land Below the Wind like those mentioned above. (Note: ropuhan means kitchen and tanak wagu means young lad in Kadazandusun) 
Having made it his mission to promote the traditional and interpretations of ethnic recipes before they are lost with the passing of time, Pison is a wonderful fount of information and knowledge on the culinary heritage of his native Sabah. Some of the interesting ingredients he showcased include:

Bambangan (mangifera pajang) also known as wild mango looks like an oversized potato-brown, husked coconut. Depending on its ripeness, the bambangan boasts bright yellow flesh with pleasantly sweet or mildly sour-sweet taste. Ripe fruits tend to exude a noticeably sweet floral-mango or banana-like aroma. When skinning, take care to avoid the sap which can ‘burn’ and cause skin blisters. The edible, faintly bitter kernel -- said to be efficacious against breast cancer -- can be chopped up for sambal too.

According to Pison, Bambangan can be made into pickles or preserved like his Noonsom Bambangan recipe. All you need is to peel the skin of 1 medium half ripe Bambangan and slice the fruit. Cut up the Bambangan seed/kernel into strips or grate finely. Mix both the Bambangan flesh and seed/kernel together with salt to taste. Store in a tightly covered jar for 7-10 days and serve mixture as a condiment to go with rice.
Chunky pieces of Bambangan can also be stir-fry with roughly chopped pieces of salted fish and chillies to create an appetising starter. 


A type of wild ginger, Tuhau (etlingera coccinea) is prized by Sabahans for its high fiber content, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Shaped like a long stem with pinkish-brown hue similar to that of torch ginger, Tuhau is also partaken for its many health benefits: for blood cleansing as well as to reduce high blood pressure.
Pison says tuhau can be sautéed with salted fish, made into spicy sambal or dried floss. Just like lemongrass, the Tuhau’s woody outer layer is peeled away and only the tender, edible inner pith is retained. When cut into smaller pieces, you'd find tuhau excretes fine strands of sticky sap between the cuts. Taste-wise, I think it’s faintly earthy and vegetal; a cross between galangal and rhubarb. Tuhau is usually eaten sautéed with salted fish, made into spicy sambal or shredded to be turned into serunding (deep-fried floss).

For Rinawal Tuhau, Lado Momporok Om Pinaga Kolopis (Picked Tuhau with Bird’s Eye Chillies and Limed Juice - refer middle pix), mix 300g Tuhau (thinly sliced or finely pounded) with 150g lime juice or vinegar and 3-5 bird’s eye chillies (thinly sliced or pounded). Season with salt to taste and serve.


Also known as the common mahang (macaranga bancana), the broad leaves resemble the footprint of a dino to me. Native Sabahans use them to wrap food especially Linopot Linangatan Guol — cooked rice with yam and sweet potato to sustain them when they forage in the jungles or work in the fields.
Like banana leaves, Wonihan Leaves exude a natural, distinct scent that suffused whatever is wrapped in them. They are sturdy, water-proof and bio-degradable; ideal for packing and keeping food fresh.
Here’s a simple Linopot Linangatan Guol recipe shared by Pison Jaujip:

1 cup white hill rice
1 cup purple hill rice
2 cups water
1 medium size yam
1 small sweet potato
4-8 wonihan leaves

Wash and drain both types of rice. Place into rice cooker and add water.
Peel yam and sweet potato. Cut into cubes.
Stir into rice to mix well. Cook rice until yam and sweet potato soften.
Use wooden spoon to mash rice, yam and sweet potato according to desired texture.
Wipe wonihan leaves and place 3 tablespoons or more of rice mixture onto each leaf.
Compress the rice into trapezoid shape then tuck, fold and wrap the wonihan leaf over it to cover snugly.
Enjoy Linopot Linangatan Guol with assorted traditional accompaniments

Sabah also produces its own garam bukit or fine hill salt
The wrapped, slightly sticky rice certainly whetted our appetite, especially when accompanied by traditional condiments: pickled and sambal tuhau, preserved bambangan, mixed local vegetables with salted fish and crispy tuhau floss.

(Note: Sabah’s hill rice and wonihan leaves are sold at the Borneo Market in Seri Kembangan)

Pison also piqued our interest with a local salad Kinotuan Mirolot Sinapakan Tonsin Sada (mixed vegetables with salted fish) featuring native produce such as Langgangon (white bird’s eye chillies), Topu (torch ginger bud), Losun (Sabah spring onion) and Tonsin Sada (salted fish).



100g losun (cut into 2” pcs)
100g langgangon (sliced)
50g topu (sliced)
50g tuhau (sliced)
50g tonsin sada (cut into chunks)
2 tbsp cooking oil
Salt to taste

Wash, rinse and cut ingredients as mentioned above. Heat oil in pan. Sauté salted fish until golden brown. Add in sliced ingredients. Stir to mix well. Cook for 3 minutes. Season to taste and serve.

The enterprising Pison also makes jam and preserves from his native land like the variety of jams shown here. For more information, follow Pison Jaujip on Facebook:

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