Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Honeymoon Part 3

Now here's the part that I like the most - 3 nights at Pangkor Laut Resort. It's the most relaxing place I've ever been. It's an tiny little island own by the resort. We got the package that included all our meals with accommodation. There were a few restaurants on the island for us to pick. However, as expected, the fine dining restaurant was not included in package. 
We stayed in 1 of these chalet on the water in the Spa Village. Initially we booked sea villa, but we got upgraded with no apparent reason to spa villa. 
1 of the perks of staying in the spa villa is the spa villa residents only pool. 

On our first night, we had dinner at Uncle Lim's Kitchen. It's a nyonya and Hockchew Chinese style restaurant. Our first entree was Chicken "Lor bak" . A delicately spiced deep fried chicken roll, wrapped in bean curd skin. 
Our second entree, Hockchew salted egg chicken - boneless chicken thigh, topped with salted egg and deep fried until golden. I'm not very familiar with Hockchew style dishes, but anything deep fried with salted egg probably wouldn't go wrong. 
1 of our main was Hock chew mixed vegetable - mung-bean thread, sliver of cuttlefish, prawns chicken and mushroom, tossed with mixed vegatable stir fried with garlic.
Another of our main - chicken with sesame & peanut sauce - juicy chicken chunks cooked in a hot wok with a flavoursome combination of sesame seed and peanut sauce. When I read the menu, I was expecting something with crunchy peanuts and strong fragrant of sesame oil. It didn't come out as expected. Love the crunchy cashews that they put in, but there wasn't enough taste of sesame or peanuts. 
Here's the uncle lim's aromatic steamed fish - fresh fish fillet steamed with lemongrass and wrapped in banana leaves. It was indeed very strong smell of lemongrass. Not sure what fish it was, but it was fresh and smooth. Very different to the usual chinese style steam fish. 
Dessert was pretty ordinary. It was just  honeydew sago that wasn't cold enough for me. Weather was very hot over there.  

Next morning we had buffet breakfast. Lots of different things to eat. From salad to fried rice, from 'loh mai kai' (chicken on glutinous rice) to waffle, all for us to choose. I was particularly intrigued by the juice station. 
This was where everyone pick their own fruits, bring to the back where the staffs were waiting with a juicer and create their own mix of fruit juice. There were quite a number of fruits to choose from. 
Part of my breakfast, crepe with banana and also some cheese with crackers at the back. There was a cheese station as well with about 8-10 varieties of cheese to pick. I just said to the lady "I want little bit of everything" and she gave me a plate full of cheese. At the side of the cheese station was variety of crackers. I just went for the plain water crackers. A local star appearance while we were having breakfast - BJ the monkey. 

We went for jungle trekking after our breakfast. 1 thing that the island will never run out is probably the anchovies for their sambal. There were MILLIONS of them. 
Right at the end of jungle trekking, we were greeted by another local pet. 

It was a massive monitor lizard. This 1 here is I think more than 1.5m long. 
Anyway, it was time for lunch at Chapman's Bar after jungle trekking (yes, eat again haha..) 
Much needed cold drinks after our jungle trekking in the rain forest. I ordered a gingle ale and Robin had his watermelon juice. We had our 3 course lunch that was included in our package there. 
Entree - satay with rojak. Size of the satay was bigger than the usual satay we could get at any hawker. Bit weird to have satay served with rojak though. Not the usual way that I was used to. 
Robin had his healthier looking salad for entree - Emerald's nicoise - seared tuna on a bed of french beans, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, olives, potatoes and lettuce, tossed in a light dressing. 
This was the view at our table looking out at Emerald Bay's beach. 
This was my Mama's chicken chop - boneless chicken fillet, deep fried golden and crispy, with french fries, baby carrots, green peas and gravy. Chicken was very crispy outside and still moist inside. A classic chicken chop. By the way, I think there isn't such thing as chicken chop in Sydney. A few Aussies that I mentioned "chicken chop" to gave me a blank look. I had to explain it's like a pork chop except it's chicken. Usually it's de-boned chicken drumstick or chicken thigh fillet. 
Robin ordered the Mee Udang Galah - fresh water prawn, yellow noodles, bean sprouts, seasonal greens, garlic and poach egg. It's 1 funny looking prawn :p The head was really big compared to the body. Cooked using these prawns, the soup was really sweet. 
Desserts were disappointing though. On the menu it said Cool Bananas. It was disappointingly warm. Banana wasn't cool at all, they were just at room temperature (not to mention they were bruised too). I didn't try Robin's Apple Dumpling, but Robin said it wasn't good either. 
We were too full after lunch, so we just went and lie down at the beach on the beach chairs. Even the crabs on the beach were bigger than expected. Usually the crabs that I saw on other beaches were tiny, like as big as a finger nail. These crabs at Emerald Bay were like palm size! 

O.k.. I think Honeymoon Part 3 is getting very long. I thought I could cover my 4D3N in 1 post, but looks like it's going to be too long if I do that. I might just continue writing about my stay in another post. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bel Mondo

Let's take a break from all the honeymoon posts, even though there are still plenty to go. Truth is, I just had an awesome dinner and I want to blog about it straight away :) 
A friend came visiting from overseas. It's her first time in Sydney. I wanted to bring her somewhere with nice harbour view, not too expensive and has nice food. The challenging part is she doesn't eat beef or raw meat. I told another friend of mine my problem and she gave me a few options. Bel Mondo was 1 of them. I picked it because 1. I haven't been there, 2. lots of people seem to like this place and gave good reviews on eatability. 
We started off with amuse bouche and some fluffy soft herb bread. Not sure what flavour the bread was though. I didn't really pay much attention to the bread as we were too busy exchanging updates and news in each other's life. It's very nice to catch up with friend who I had not seen in 13 years or so. 
SS ordered a Smoked salmon & cucumber cannelloni with avocado, horseradish & sweet corn as entree. I tried a little bit of the salmon. It was a very refreshing entree. The cucumber was cold like just came out of the fridge but salmon was little bit warm. It was as if the dish was trying to play trick on us "it's cold! no it's warm!" It was fun and it tasted really good :) 
I had the Chicken liver parfait with peach wine jelly, grilled brioche & micro herbs. Definitely made the right choice picking this as entree. The grilled broiche was very crispy outside and very soft and fluffy inside.  The parfait was very creamy and the layer of buttery stuff around it added another level of smoothness. I find that the peach wine jelly was too sweet on its own, but if eaten together with the parfait, the sweetness would be balanced out by the richness of the parfait. I would never think something so sweet can go so well with a chicken liver parfait. The only problem I had was I didn't have enough brioche. I had to finish the parfait because it was too nice to let it go to the bin. So I ended up putting LOTS of parfait on little bit of brioche towards the end. 
For main, SS had the Ocean trout with white bean purée, barigoule vegetables & red wine jus. I tried little bit of the trout, it was nicely done. Fresh, moist, couldn't get it any better. Another thing about Bel Mondo is that the lighting condition was not exactly ideal for photos. I took many photos, but most of them are blurry or too grainy. 
This is our Steamed broccoli with lemon & garlic to share. Simple and nice. Not undercooked that it's still hard, and not overcooked that it's gone mushy. 
This was my Slow cooked lamb shoulder with pea & mint risotto, caramelised garlic & honey purée. It looked like a small dish, but it was actually very filling. Instead of having mint sauce to go with the lamb, it was quite interesting to see that the mint part was mixed into risotto with peas. Still worked well with the lamb. The lamb is soft enough that I didn't have to use my knife at all, but I think it can be even softer still. 
We were quite full after main, so we didn't order dessert. Just went for a walk around Circular Quay and drove to Mrs Macquarie's Chair so that SS could take some nice photos of Sydney night view. 
Oh yeah, special mention to our waiter tonight. He was cute, funny and very patient with us. We actually asked him to take photos for us like at least 3 times (I took food photo, but SS wanted to take people photos with her camera). He didn't mind at all and told us that it was in his job description that he had to take photos for customers. He even helped arrange seats for us to get a better view. Then during the whole night, everytime he walked past our table he would make some joke. Very entertaining :) 

We really enjoyed our dinner very very much. Great food and excellent service. That's why I wanted to blog about it straight away (skipping all of my backlog material :p). 

Prices: $55 for 2 course, $9 for side dish. 
Phone: 92413700
Address: Gloucester Walk, The Rocks. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Honeymoon Part 2

This was our first honeymoon-ish place that we stayed. My uncle booked us a chalet at Avillion Port Dickson. Here's the photo of the adult only pool :) It was a lap pool with no children allowed - adults that act like children were allowed though i.e. the 2 of us haha.. We woke up at 7am due to jetlag, so we had the whole pool to ourselves :D 

Here's the look of the public pool where kids were allowed. There was a water slide and shallow section where kids could play.  Here's the chalet on the water. It was massive! With 2 king beds and 1 double bed, it's definitely more than enough for a family of 6 to stay. It's  a pity that the food at Avillion wasn't all that impressive. We had our dinner there the night before, wasn't too good. Lighting was bad for photos too, hence no food photo from Avillion. 

The day after we stayed at Avillion was the day we had another wedding reception. This was mainly for relatives and friends who couldn't join us on our wedding day in Sydney. So dad booked 15 tables of traditional banquet this time (no BYO seafood haha..:p) Again, I wasn't allowed to touch my camera that night, but I do have some photos that my sis took when she went 'taste testing' with my parents. 
1.Sharkfin chicken soup. This was very different from the normal sharkfin soup that I know.  It wasn't the thick starchy sharkfin soup with crab meat that people eat with vinegar. This was more like the normal clear chicken soup with herbs and sharkfin. Instead of strands of fins, each person actually got a whole 'slice' of fin. 
2. Abalone steak. Everyone was given fork and knife for this :) 1 abalone for each person. Lots of people were very impressed by this heehee.. The abalone was very tender. I think it was done by simmering it for long time? 
3. My dad's favourite fish - steam sweep. Big fresh steam fish :) 
4. Initially the 4th dish was sea cucumber. It got taken out of the menu on the actual day because my parents thought that the way the restaurant made the sea cucumber the same way as the abalone. So kind of duplicated and also too much because of the large servings. So this tom yum & fried prawns became the 4th dish. 

5. Mixed Vegetables. Honestly can't remember much about this dish. When they served this on the table I was probably too busy going around from table to table shouting 'yummmmm seeeennnggg!!' to everyone haha.. 
6. This was another highlight of the night - Hakka style Fried Rice. Again, it's something that's different from the usual. The rice itself was very nice but they also put coriander in it which I didn't like. However, I still received plenty of positive feedbacks from my friends on this :)
 7. Even the dessert was something unusual - honeydew sago with ice-cream. It doesn't sound like anything special, but for some reason it just tasted like something I've never tried before. Normally honeydew sago is served with coconut milk. This was with vanilla ice-cream which made it a lot creamier and allowed it to stay cool for longer :) 
8. Last dessert - "wo bing". Not sure what this is called in English though. It's kinda like deep fried pastry with some sweet filling inside. Usually it's red bean paste or lotus paste. As everything else was 'out of the norm' in 1 way or another, this of course had to have a twist to it as well. It wasn't red bean or lotus paste in it, it had a bright green filling heehe.. :) I'm pretty sure it was pandan with something :p Maybe lotus paste with pandan?? 
Conclusion,  I had an AWESOME night  :)  All my close friends were there (some friends that go all the way back to kindy), cousins & relatives as well, lots of great food, not to mention lots of alcohol too! hahaha.. whisky, brandy, champagne, red wine, white wine.. dad was quite prepared to empty his collection of XO and wine and get everyone drunk haha... Robin was 1 of the victims kekeeke.. :p 
Oh so where's this restaurant? It's Country Home at Lukut (between CIMB and EON bank). If anyone needs to know their number, drop me a comment and I'll ask for it from my dad heehee..   

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Honeymoon Part 1

O.k.. these honeymoon posts are going to be a bit different from my usual posts. Usually each post is of 1 meal with name of restaurant, contact number and prices (if I remember to take photo of the menu). Here, you will find that most of these are missing. That is because I went back to Malaysia for honeymoon and spent a few days at my Malaysia home. And at home, when they said we going to 'dinner at that shop next to the mechanics' or 'breakfast at the market', I knew exactly where we were going. Hence I totally forgot to find out the proper name of the place :p Been too used to the 'informal' name that it didn't occur to me that I'm gonna need their real name for my blog. Also, we never had to book table, so never needed their contact number.  Furthermore, it's honeymoon, brain wasn't quite working at all that time. Plus some of the meals we didn't even get to see the menu or the bill :p So with vital information for a food blog missing, I'll have to temporarily make this my travel journal haha.. 

Let's start from the morning of the day after we arrived at Malaysia. First place we went was MidValley. I like shopping in KL more than I like shopping here because shopping malls in KL are so much bigger than Sydney!! While we were there, I remembered my primary school friend works around there. So gave her a call and we met up for lunch :) What did we have?
Chicken rice!!! Love the bean sprouts :)  1 thing about chicken rice in Malaysia, you can have 2 types of chicken. The white chicken or the roast chicken. In sydney, for some reason I haven't been able to find a shop that make roast chicken. Only white chicken or soy chicken in Sydney. I ordered a roast chicken drumstick with char siew. Much to our disappointment, they gave us white rice instead of chicken rice. I think we had to ask for chicken rice specifically. Oh well... luckily mum makes great chicken rice at home haha.. so that compensated our disappointment with the rice. Friend ordered a curry noodle and we had an colourful entree (which I forgot the name due to missing menu :p) to share. 

We had to rush back home for dinner, so didn't really have a lot of time shopping at MidValley. Pretty much just lunch, then bought our cheap luggages to use (which broke on the way back to Sydney :p oh well.. can't ask for too much for something that cheap), then lug those luggages back to Port Dickson. Dinner that night was at "the restaurant at Kuala Lukut next to the mechanics" :p
There's this grill seafood stall at the side of this restaurant that make really good grill fish and stuff. My favourite is the grilled squid. Spicy with their chilli paste, served with a sweet/sour dipping sauce. I would've ordered the grilled stingray as well, but there were only 6 of us, so we probably wouldn't be able to finish it. Plus my dad brought a massive fish to the restaurant for them to cook.
Just normal stir fried lettuce over here. I think we ordered stir fried with fermented tofu, but it came our just normal stir fried with garlic and oyster sauce. Oh well, still good :) 
Dad's got some 'special connection' with the local fishermen. So whenever they got some good catch they will bring to my dad and ask if he wants them. So here are some big fresh prawns that we took to the restaurant to cook. (Don't think Sydney restaurants have BYO seafood though :p ) This is stir fried with curry leaves. It's got the nice curry smell from the leaves, but not spicy at all. 
Almost every Chinese restaurant I go, I ordered tofu haha.. Just steam tofu with soy sauce and deep fried garlic and onion. With tofu, the simpler it is, the more I like. I think this is probably 1 of the simplest way to serve tofu. The restaurant made their own tofu though. So can't get this same tofu anywhere else. Very very very smooth. Very fun to just put a big piece in your mouth and squeeze them through the teeth to break them haha.. No biting involved :p 
Main dish of the night - a big big sweep! (This is what I was told it's called in English. In Chinese I think we call it 昌鱼).Apparently Robin hasn't seen a sweep this big. It's about 40cm long. He said normally those that he sees in Sydney are like 1/3 of the size. He was very impressed with it. Restaurant cooked it just right. The flesh didn't become tough, still tender and smooth. Again, this is fresh from the fishermen. The best way to cook something so fresh is to steam it :) (I know we should steam the prawns too, but a bit plain if we have everything steam haha.. ) 
So this concludes the first day of our trip in Malaysia. 

2nd day in Malaysia. Mum took us to Seremban. Mum and I went to do facial and the man went to do his shopping at his favourite department store - Jusco. What's for brunch? Seremban beef noodle! I have to say this is my FAVOURITE FAVOURITE beef noodle! It's a MUST eat every single time I go back to M'sia. The gravy is very very thick. Full of the beef flavour from the meat, brisket and stomach that have been simmering in the gravy. It was served with some peanuts and sesame which adds some fragrant and crunch. Noodles was soooo slimey (in the good way) with the gravy that I just slurp them in and before you know it, whole bowl is gone. Mum also ordered extra homemade beef balls with soup to go with noodle. So where is this shop? It's the "beef noodle on top of Seremban market" or "the beef noodle shop opposite The Store" haha.. Sorry.. This is what I've been calling them over the past 20 years or more. Obviously I wasn't quite thinking like a blogger then. 
After facial and shopping, it's time for afternoon tea. Inside Jusco complex there's an Old Town White Coffee shop. So we just went in. 
Robin ordered a Old Town Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun and I had the OldTown Curry Mee. This time as a blogger I did better. I was going to nick 1 of their takeaway menu for price reference later on. However, my goldfish memory has done it again. I totally forgot about the menu after eating :p 
I like my curry noodle. They used the yellow thick egg noodle which I have also preferred in my laksa than mee hoon. The soup is thick, but not too spicy. It's more temperature hot than chilli hot. So it's just nice for me who can't really eat too spicy stuff. 
 Mum had her french toast with peanut butter inside. 2 slices of bread with LOTS of peanut butter inside. Coated with egg and deep fried till crispy outside. As you can see, blob of butter was put on top and it was melting. I can't remember clearly, but I think it was served with syrup. Yummmm... but not exactly ideal for someone with high blood pressure :p 
Anyway, that's it for now till I process more photos from honeymoon. I thought I'll have more time to process my photos and sort them out and things, but I just don't know where my time's gone. I think I need to go for time management course or something :p