Café with a difference

Café with a difference

What impressed me about Summer Breeze Café at Casa Tropicana was when John Peter, its owner offered me a refreshing glass of iced serai tea on the house.

It was like a gust of cool breeze on a hot summer day as I had had a tough time trying to get someone to attend to my car before I finally decided that a tow truck was necessary.

John and I had hardly known each other but the 55-year- old café owner did a gesture which was truly rejuvenating. It was the beginning of a new friendship and later, I was introduced to his nephew, Calvin Jacob.

I learnt that Calvin is a former full-fledged chef who had spent more than five years working with Shangri-la Singapore. He was just as friendly as his uncle and fellow partner in the café business. “As a chef, I also believe in creating a friendly environment where clients can enjoy their time here,” he said.

When he said this, I realise, the personal touch has been very lacking in eateries these days. It is true that often one would go to a busy restaurant just to enjoy the food, but the restaurant owner cared little but the profit for the day.

“As a chef, I also believe in creating a friendly environment where clients can enjoy their time here,”

The chef would hardly spend time chatting with his clients. So, in many ways, Summer Breeze café is very unique as Calvin would sit around to casually have a nice chat with his guests. He treats his guests like his old friends.

As we were talking, two clients were happy to chip in. They have checked out the food here when it first started and it is now their favourite café for lunch.

One of them, Dr Tan Chor Teck describes Calvin as one having a lot of passion about the way he prepares the food. “On top of that, what impresses me a lot is the personal touch,” he said.

Dr Tan’s friend, Tan Kian Shing who prefers to be known as KS, said: “When I first came to the café, I asked if the food could be served less spicy. Sure enough after the food was served, Calvin came around to ask if I wanted more chilli. Very few chefs would do that!”

“We encourage our staff to contribute ideas too.”

The 39-year-old Calvin Jacob is the man who created the menu here, but his uncle John also has a hand in it. Together they have come up with both Western and Asian dishes. Usually, the adults prefer the Asian dishes, while the kids enjoy their Italian pasta here.

In particular, I find their Hor Fun Soup (served for only RM9.90) very tasty and irresistible. “This idea of Hor Fun Soup came from our own kitchen staff,” admitted John. “We encourage our staff to contribute ideas too.”

John’s late father-in-law was also very famous for his Hainanese nasi lemak in Melaka known as Bunga Raya Ah Chai Nasi Lemak.

“I came up with my very own version of fried rice the way I believe my guests would love it.”

“When he was alive, people simply loved his nasi lemak,” he said. “A lot of his guests readily acknowledged that Ah Chai Nasi Lemak was simply the best in town. The nasi lemak is served with pandan chicken and special sambal cooked by my mother-in-law, which makes the nasi lemak really delicious.”

John’s late mother and his sisters are also very good cooks themselves. “My Mom, for example, would look into the nitty gritty of cooking to make sure that the food turns out great,” John recalls. “She was always very passionate with her cooking. I guess my sisters also acquired her culinary skills.”

The café is also known for its Summer Breeze Fried Rice which is Calvin’s specialty. “I have always loved the fried rice,” he said. “I came up with my very own version of fried rice the way I believe my guests would love it.”

With the older children, Calvin’s Seafood Olio (RM16.90) is a favourite dish where they learn to enjoy the seafood, but the younger kids would probably prefer their Sausage Olio (RM14.90).

The café is open seven days a week from 11am – 11pm. Between 2.30 pm to 5.00pm is their special hour to cater to the older generation for them to hang out with their friends for a game of Chinese chess or draughts, while enjoying a cup of Teh Tarik, fruits or Nyonya Kueh. The Teh Tarik comes with different flavours.

It is in fact the second outlet that the uncle-and-nephew team have started in May this year, after gaining three years of experience operating their first café at the Bayu Puteri Apartment.

“We have been having a lot of enquiries elsewhere,” he said. “However, to us, we are very particular in selecting the location, the chef and the concept. What we need is a good chef, a good concept and a good location.”

Themed ‘Western and traditional Asian village’ in its décor, Summer Breeze café is located next to KK Mart at Casa Tropicana condominium at Persiaran Tropicana (Waze: https://waze.to/lr/hw281zg5jn).

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in all sorts of gastronomical delights, Western, Middle Eastern and Asian.

 

Restoran Yong Hoe famous for its Signature Claypot fish served with Rice Wine

Restoran Yong Hoe famous for its Signature Claypot fish served with Rice Wine

Comment:  His grandfather used to work as a chef for the British during World War II, his father was a chef with a number of Chinese restaurants in Segamat, Johor, and now a third-generation Wong Choon Cheh operates his own dream restaurant at Taman KIP.

The 31-year-old chef has been involved in the restaurant business since 2004, when he was still helping out at his mother’s porridge business in Desa Aman Puri.

In 2010, Wong started his own restaurant in the same neighbourhood, but after a few years, he decided to move to KIP where he has been operating since 2015.

“We have regular clients who come all the way from different parts of the Klang Valley.”

During lunch hours, they come here for the fried claypot porridge served with yam, pork and sliced squid, which is a best seller especially on a hot day. During the weekends, they come back with their families to check out Wong’s other specialities.

“This is something that I have inherited from my own grandfather”

Although it may be slightly hard to locate for people who are living in other parts of the Klang Valley, it is value for money. Besides, with Waze these days, it is not difficult to find the place.  

His signature dish worth trying out is Wong’s special Claypot Rice Wine Tilapia fish served with clams. “This is something that I have inherited from my own grandfather,” he said. “Most of my clients come here for the dish before they like the way the fish is prepared.”

The fish is about RM4 for 100 grams but if served with clams, the whole dish is estimated at RM40 ++.

Wong’s Paku Thai Style vegetable salad is another dish that is popular which is served cold with a homemade Thai sauce. “We use ginger flower (bunga Kantan) and lemon grass to prepare the sauce,” he said.

There is also the famous chilli prawn taufu from Kuala Selangor which can be served either as steamed or deep fried taufu ala Teochew style. It is slightly spicy, but children, even as young as six years old, love it.

Then there is the sesame chicken which is usually marianated overnight with ginger and salt before it is deepfried and peppered with sesame seeds before it is served to the guests either as half or a full chicken.

Check out their Facebook Xin Xin Yong Hoe for more information. Restaurant Yong Hoe is located at Persiaran KIP Utama, KIP (waze location: https://waze.to/lr/hw2860pkfj) and is open six days a week from 11am – 2.30pm (lunch) and 5.30pm for dinner with a last dish at 9.30pm. They are closed on Mondays.

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in all sorts of gastronomical delights – Western, Middle Eastern and Asian.

PappaDelivery : Great food delivered to your doorstep

PappaDelivery : Great food delivered to your doorstep

PappaDelivery

Great food delivered to your doorstep
Join the #MERDEKA60 Contest!

When it comes to food delivery, you might assume it’s fast food. However, it’s 2017 and our options has just got better. Imagine you want to have a delicious Western meal tonight, and pondering about the ingredients you need to get, plus the hours to look at recipes and prepare the meal. The price of the meal is not as much as a luxury compared to the time you might spend cooking it. Say cooking is not an option, and you just hate to spend the time to get something at a restaurant, since the parking spaces are never available. So, can you head over to your trusty gadget, tap on the screen a bunch of times, and voila, your meal is on the way?! Yes, enters PappaDelivery, an online food delivery service that believes Malaysian lifestyle deserves the added convenience of having restaurant-quality meals delivered to your doorstep.

#Merdeka60
Photo Contest

Prize:

RM50 voucher

from PappaDelivery.my

Step 1

Snap a photo of your favourite local food

Step 2

Tag @malaysiakini, @pappadelivery, and #Merdeka60 on Instagram or Facebook from 16th Aug to 16th Sep 2017

Step 3

3 winners will be announced and notified every week

#PappaDeliveryMerdeka
Photo Contest

Prize:

RM50 voucher

from PappaDelivery.my

Step 1

Snap a photo of your favourite local food

Step 2

Tag @malaysiakini, @pappadelivery, and #Merdeka60 on your Instagram or Facebook from 16th August to 16th September 2017

Step 3

3 winners will be announced and notified every week

Terms and conditions:

  • Contest runs from 16th August – 16th September 2017.
  • Winner are announced at the end of every week the contest runs.
  • The deadline for receiving entries for the competition is final. No entries received after the given date will be considered.
  • The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Operation

PappaDelivery delivers food from 11am – 10pm, covering most parts of Klang Valley and puts the meal in front of you in about 1.5 hours. That’s neat considering the food is freshly cooked and prepared the same way as it would be in a restaurant. The website which works great on mobile devices, is accessible 24/7, so you can schedule the delivery anytime you want for a family gathering or work-related event. The process is elementary; you login to the website, view the menu, place your order, choose between Credit/Debit or Online Transfer from your banking account for payment, sit back and wait for your delicious meal.

Menu

Well, you have definitely noticed by now, the name sounds familiar. PappaRich! Yes! The meals you order from PappaDelivery is prepared using ingredients from non-other, the famous franchise – PappaRich. The ingredients are kept to an excellent quality so you get to eat healthy and fresh all the time. The menu consists of six parent categories namely, Rice, Western, Noodles, Snacks, Toast and Drinks. You will discover a longer list and a wider selection of food under these categories. For example, under Rice, you will find the mouth-watering Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken or Nasi Lemak with Sweet and Spicy Sotong and many others! If you are a vegetarian, fret not! There are vegetarian options (marked by a green leaf symbol) available as well. In fact, PappaDelivery’s interface provides a great amount of information for those on a special diet or restrictions. Here is an example of such information taken from their “Wholemeal Pizza” item;
“Hearty wholemeal bread topped with juicy chicken pepperoni, sausage, and strips of bell peppers, all generously covered in Mozzarella cheese melted to perfection. An indulgence of minimal calorie with maximum pleasure!” Great food for everyone then!

Keep in mind the minimum purchase is RM15 and there is a small RM5.30 (including GST) delivery charge. If you love sharing your meals, PappaDelivery’s website supports easy social media sharing as well. In fact you should checkout #Merdeka60 Photo contest! Just snap a photo of you favourite local food and share it on Instagram. You stand a chance to win RM50 worth of voucher from PappaDelivery so you get a head start to use the service!

Contact Our Customer Service:

+6018 980 1818

(Call, SMS, or WhatsApp)

Fresh crab, bibimbap and crunchy Hangwa

Fresh crab, bibimbap and crunchy Hangwa

Fresh crab, bibimbap and crunchy Hangwa

2018 Korea's Winter Olympics

Lu Wei Hoong | 15 March 2017

For Malaysians, Korean barbecue and kimchi are probably be the first things that come to mind when discussing about Korean food.

These dishes are typical of many local restaurants in Klang Valley offering a taste of South Korea.

However, nothing beats an authentic experience and the upcoming Winter Olympics 2018 poses an opportunity.

While the focus of attention may be in the host city of PyeongChang, the wider province of Gangwon promises to offer a delightful culinary experience.

Being a thriving agricultural province with a coastline of over 200km, it has more to offer than the mundane, including an abundance of seafood.

One such gem of a restaurant is Daegewangguk.

Restaurant name: Daegewangguk
Address: 55, Saecheonnyeon-doro, Samcheok-si, Gangwon-do
Tel: +82-33-573-8185

Daegewangguk, literally meaning the Kingdom of Crab, offers a rich selection of crustaceans dishes.

At the restaurant, guests are greeted with a tray of nine kinds of appetisers, including fresh prawns, baby octopus, mussel and quail eggs.

A popular main dish here is its steamed red snow crab.

The shells of the palm-sized crabs are broken up and neatly placed on a plate, allowing diners to easily savour the succulent meat instead of having to deal with the hassle of a crab mallet.

The legs of the crabs are also removed and broken up and can be easily eaten with the aid of a scissor.

Another must have is its crab meat soup and crab shell fried rice.

Bibimpap-variety of vegetable

Away from the coast, the Taebaek mountainous region produces a variety of vegetables which are used in Bibimpap, a traditional Korean mixed rice.

Restaurant name: Jeong Gang Won (serves authentic Bibimpap)
Address: 21 Baekokpo-ri, Yongpyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
Tel: +82-33-333-1011

Similar to the ‘lousang‘ concept in Klang Valley back home, diners can mix the myriad of ingredients before tucking in. The ingredients include shredded mushroom, cucumber, turnip, carrot, bean sprouts, spinach and five other vegetables. They are simultaneously poured into a giant wooden bowl filled with rice, along with gochujang chili sauce and sesame oil. After being tossed around, the dish is completed with a seasoning of seaweed.

The restaurant only uses the freshest vegetables from the region and diners can savour in its crunchiness.

Diners with a penchant for spiciness can add on brown chili sauce.

Hundreds of Onggi earthenware can be seen in the dining hall, which is used by the restaurant to produce its own brown chili sauce, red chili paste and kimchi which complements the Bibimpap.

They come with side dishes including kimchi, pickled turnip and lotus root.

Hangwa dessert maybe?

After the scrumptious meals, diners may want try a traditional Korean dessert, the Hangwa.

Galgol Hangwa Village is well-known for this dish.

Restaurant name: Galgol Hangwa Village
Address: 446, Nodong-ri, Sacheon-myeon, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do.

In Korean culture, Hangwa is a festival food, served in wedding receptions, parties and paying homage to ancestors.

In the past, it was considered a rare confectionery for commoners.

Choi Hyung Jun, a fifth generation owner of the restaurant, said the popular sweet was even banned during the 1960s to 1980s on grounds of saving rice.

“The government had difficulty taxing small businesses selling the sweet, so they banned it.

“My father had to sell it secretly,” he said.

These dishes and treat are only a taste of what the province of Gangwon has to offer for an authentic Korean experience.

This trip was sponsored by Gangwon-do Province and Korea Tourism Organisation

Gastronomical delights amidst Desa Aman Puri

Gastronomical delights amidst Desa Aman Puri

Desa Aman Puri is like a melting pot and a haven for various types of gastronomical delights.

From the authentic Italian cuisines served at Bel Pasto Italian Pizza and Tak Fook Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant to the famous Hakka Lui Cha at the Big, Big Bowl Cafe and Indian Nasi Beryani at Anuja Restaurant, Aman Puri has a lot to offer to people, both to the locals and those living in the Klang Valley.

Although it is a mere 10-minutes’ drive from One Utama heading towards Bandar Sri Damansara at the tail end of the Puchong-Damansara Highway (LDP), the prices of food here are far more reasonable by comparison to restaurants in Petaling Jaya.

The restaurateurs here have to learn that if they raise their prices, especially after more people flock this way, they will no longer be attractive be attractive to foodies from Petaling Jaya and beyond.

In the past few years, the place has become popular for all kinds of cuisines, with more new restaurants such as Restoran Fei Fei Crab and Restoran Lan Je being set up here. The original Fei Fei Crab is in Petaling Jaya, while the first Lan Je restaurant started in Rawang.

Those that fail to maintain their standard or where the food is pricey simply do not survive here due to very tough competition not only within Aman Puri but also from other restaurants within a radius of 5 kilometers.

A number of restaurants have come and gone, but the ones that survive more than a year are doing well.

Nancy Choo, 63, for example, used to operate a stall in Aman Puri where most people know her as Auntie Nancy’s eatery. Since closing down her stall, she has joined forces with her daughter, Angie Lim, where the mother-and-daughter pair has a bigger variety to offer at Lim’s Big, Big Bowl Café. Choo has a strong following; therefore, her presence at Big, Big Bowl has helped to boost the business a lot.

Judging from the photographs in their Facebook page, Lim also was operating a successful business when her restaurant was previously based in Kepong.

Nancy Choo, 63 and her daughter Angie Lim

One of the dish from Big Bowl

Apart from their signature dish, the Hakka lui cha, I like Lim’s fish fillet noodles and her pan mee. Her laksa noodles is also good and worth trying. What is interesting is that her noodles are all hand-made. I have yet to try her mother’s cooking. I will do it when I travel in that direction.

Adjacent to Lim’s Big, Big Bowl Café is Love Earth organic restaurant, which is also worth checking out especially its Taiwanese soup noodles. However, most guests may not like their self-service concept, which is sometimes a big letdown especially when there are hardly any other clients during off peak hours.

For the crabs, both Tak Fook and Fei Fei come to mind. During special promotional seasons, Tak Fok for example can offer crabs at RM25 a kilogramme. The owners are a young couple from Hong Kong. This is their original restaurant, where it is mostly packed at night.

Restoran 168 specialises in both dry and soup pan mee but surprisingly, despite pan mee being a very common dish, the place is often packed in the morning. Just behind is the Penang Chew Jetty where the proprietor once operated from a small stall in Aman Puri.

 

One of the dish from Bel pasto

The best restaurant in my opinion is still Bel Pasto, operated by one Italian chef, who prefers to be known only as Sam.

This restaurant is famous for its authentic Italian cuisines because the chef is Italian himself and very passionate about his food. Try his Tiramisu, and comparing his prices and the quality to other café, it is value for money! Every time I introduce guests here, they give him the thumbs-up!

Bel Pasto is the kind of place I would bring my foreign guests. A year ago, when I had some visitors from Canada along with their children, they enjoyed the food so much that they decided to give us a treat in return at the same restaurant.

Food is good, but…

Like in most other places around the country, Desa Aman Puri needs a good facelift.

Alfresco-style seating may be popular with Malaysians who prefer the street food to posh restaurants, but having huge but ugly looking canvases will not do a lot of good to guests from overseas. It is time that the local council improve the image of the township.

Rubbish is also strewn all over the place and some drains remain uncovered after the concrete slabs used had been removed. If properly covered, some of these public drains could provide some useful parking spaces.

Selayang Municipal Council Zone 23 councillor, Ng Wei Keong, has promised that he will look into the facilities and the cleanliness of the place, but it may take a while before the local council staff work on improving the area.

 

The state government has sponsored the bins; they should therefore keep their own places clean.

With a little effort from the restauranteurs and the public perhaps to keep the place clean, Aman Puri can become a haven for all the salivating food lovers.

Tranquility of the night at Kuala Sepetang

Tranquility of the night at Kuala Sepetang

In the past, it was only Pulau Ketam, but in recent years, both Sekinchan and Tanjung Sepat have emerged as attractive local tourist destinations to Malaysians.

Kuala Sepetang in Taiping, Perak is hardly known to most people, including people living in Perak. Although some bloggers have written about it, it is only in recent years that, along with the Matang Mangrove Reserve, the fishing village has become an interesting tourist spot, especially for its dolphins and eagle sighting.

There are also the beautiful fireflies which decorate the plants by the riverside at night that would mesmerise both adults and children alike.

And, of course, the fresh seafood and the fried porridge, besides also learning how the charcoal is produced locally in Sepetang. Frankly, before this visit, I never knew that charcoal was man-made.

Staying overnight in Sepetang

Although it was pricey, we stayed overnight in Kuala Sepetang because we wanted to experience living in a fishing village.

There are currently not many hotels in the fishing village. Happy Eight, for example, charges between RM200 to RM400 a room, and each room has its own theme. By the end of the year, I was told another hotel would be up, and maybe by then, the prices would be more competitive.

The beauty of the experience of living in the fishing village was the tranquility of the night. Instead of birds chirping early in the morning or the engine noise from the early rush hours, over here at Sepetang Fishing Village, there were only the trawlers returning to the jetty from the sea. But, that is fine, when you know you are on holiday here.

One downside, however, is that the local council has not paid enough attention to cleaning up the river here. It is not the kind of place that you would bring foreign tourists to visit. The fishermen, the majority of whom are not locals, do not care about the environment.

One fisherman, for example, threw his plastic bottle into the river after filling up the motor engine. When I told him to look after the river, he merely shrugged his shoulders. I wish that the local council would just pay some attention to giving the fishing village a facelift.

Apart from that, there was the smell of salted fish and the fresh breeze coming from the sea. For the dolphin sighting, the cruise starts as early as 7am, but according to Rachel Ho of Eagle Sight Seeing Tour, dolphin sighting is seasonal.

“We can never guarantee that we will be able to see the dolphins,”

she said. However, if there are 15 persons, the boat can go further out into the sea where the dolphins are more likely to be sighted.

Although the local fishermen were willing to take us out into the sea supposedly to look for the dolphins, Ho refused to bring us out because she knew that the dolphins would not be easily sighted.

It is also possible for people to stay overnight in Ipoh or even in Taiping, and take an early drive to the fishing village for the dolphin sighting tour. The drive from Ipoh to Kuala Sepetang is only slightly more than an hour, but it is still possible to do budget homestay in Kuala Sepetang.

The dolphins sighted here are mainly the beautiful pink Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. According to the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, these pink dolphins are nearly extinct, with their numbers declining from 158 in 2003 to 61 in 2014.

One no longer has to travel all the way to Hong Kong to see the beautiful sea creature when it is available in Kuala Sepetang. After all, to the local people, the name Sepetang came from the idea that it takes only one evening to cycle from Taiping.

Lots to do in Ipoh

Although Ipoh may be a smaller city compared to Kuala Lumpur, there are really a lot of places to eat some of the best of Ipoh street food and buy biscuits.

The most popular place now is around Jalan Theatre, where we bought as many as eight packets of salted baked chicken from Aun Kheng Lim’s shop on behalf of family and friends! Although there are several other stalls selling the salted chicken selling at almost the same prices, Aun Kheng Lim happens to be the one on The Star’s Street Food Guide.

There is also the famous Ipoh chicken and taugeh at either Lou Wong restaurant, which could be quite pricey, too as well as the dim sum at Foh San Restaurant at Jalan Leong Sin Nam. There are in fact several other dim sum restaurants in the same area.

The Funny Mountain Soya Bean at No 49 Jalan Theatre is so far the best, but it is better to eat there on the spot for only RM1.50 instead of packing it, costing an additional 90 sen.

Over in Ipoh, we also managed to catch up with some old friends whom we had not met for at least 25 years. Thanks to the online application Waze, it is now easy and possible for anyone to find any location and this, along with the currency depreciation, is a boost for local tourism.

Tomorrow, I will introduce you where and what to eat around Desa Aman Puri, where the prices are still reasonable, especially if you are living in the Klang Valley.