Kampungkayell

Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Red Ginger at Northpoint

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

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I was unsure of what to expect. In a way it was an "official" Food Bloggers gathering. "Flogger" seems to trivial a word for the event. In effect, we were at a "food review." Given that I do this for fun and am strictly speaking, a "life" blogger, I was not sure of the applicability of the "association."
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Kudos do go to Tim of 3meals.com for organising this event, however, as it was still a way of the floggers to get together. I still think that the informal gatherings are best however as we don't do this for a living. And the consequences of formalising any organisation are very serious and I believe that if there were such an organisation, journalistic ethics would come into play.

All these musings did not stop us from enjoying ourselves though and a huge debt of thanks goes to Elizabeth Chen of Red Ginger who was kind enough to sponsor this food bloggers dinner. It was very sweet of her.

I've been to Red Ginger in Plaza Damansara before (at least 3 or 4 times) and Elizabeth is a dear friend who started this business because of a passion for food, something we both have in common. Allan and I first met her at a catering function she did about 5 years ago. She uses all natural ingredients and traditional methods of extracting flavour from all her ingredients to give traditional Chinese and Nyonya dishes a maximum flavour lift. Furthermore, whatever you choose to eat there IS good value for money.

I've always believed in value for money though. Not CHEAP. But VALUE for money. There's a huge difference. If someone charged me an average of RM40 per meal but gave me great ingredients, presented it nicely, flavoured well, and paid attention to detail and service then I have no problems enjoying myself and paying for the privilege.

However, if a restaurant charged me RM20 but gave me sub par service, sub par portions, and bad service, it wouldn't matter how low the price was, I would never go back AND I'd kick up a fuss about it.

With Elizabeth, based on the number of times I've been to her Plaza Damansara restaurant, and now her Northpoint one, I would say I would certainly return for honest, well cooked, well portioned, local food, with her touch. The service has always been quiet, friendly and unobtrusive. Don't get me wrong, the service is NOT fine dining. It's "down home."

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Dry Curry Sang Har Noodle

A rich, dry curry, noodle, redolent of all the spices of traditional Malaysian cooking. Yup MALAYSIAN cooking. The Indians don't really have curries that taste like this, and the mix of noodles and gravy is very Indo Chinese. But the thick, dry, curry is definitely a Malaysian innovation. Great texture, flavours that danced accross the tongue, sweet, delicate, prawns, and flavours which I can still taste. Amazing!

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Black Pepper Beef
A traditional chinese dish done well. Apple crunchy onions, green peppers, and the savoury bitterness of fermented black beans, dry fried with tender beef. Done by the book. A true case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
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Kam Heong Fried Koay Teow
This was a great twist on the usual Fried or Char Koay Teow. As some of you know, Char Koay Teow is my favourite food of all time. So I approached this dish with some trepidation. After all, how do you improve on perfection? After my first mouthful however, I could rest easy. While this is a reinterpretation of Char Koay Teow, it by no means supercedes it. It's the addition of a curry leaf paste that adds to this dishes flexibility and genius. And Elizabeth was very forthcoming about the secret that makes a good Char Koay Teow. Which, to me, just demonstrates a generosity of spirit. In any case, the secret of good Char Koay Teow is *drum roll* ... refrigerating the Koay Teow (or flat rice noodles) in the fridge for 2 to 3 days before frying it up. Fresh Noodles make the dish a little soggy. It needs to dry up a bit to give that great separation which is the hallmark of a great Char Koay Teow. Add the interesting flavour of curry leaves to the dish and it's phenomenal. A must try.
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Steamed Chicken with wine & salt
Another Chinese standard done well. Needs to be eaten with rice for the right level of saltiness. On it's own, its a bit too salty.
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Red Ginger Fried Rice
Good fluffly rice, a good sized sweet shrimp, and a trad frying method gave this fried rice dish a thumbs up.
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Laksa Lemak
I don't usually like "See hum." It tastes like my blood. Metallic. And coupled with that slimy texture (which I adore in oysters) and the hepatitis scare, I have never quite cottoned on to this particular shellfish. But Elizabeth may have just made a convert of me. From what I understand she fries this in a cooler mixture of sambal before she crowns her luscious, thick coconut gravy with it. I had to consciously stop myself from eating more of it.
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Ipoh Hor Fun
One of Red Ginger's "quieter" offerings but one which perhaps demonstrates their philosophy of extracting flavour. See the red tomalley? And that lovely cloudy stock? I know, I know, in french cooking, clear stock is seen as the apogee of stock making. In this instance however, that rich subtle flavour of sweet, salty, and that unmistakeable fragrance of bones, combined with the rice noodles and sweet prawns, it's a palpable hit and probably my favourite. One I return to time and again when I go to Red Ginger.
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Otak-Otak
A rich custard of coconut milk, firm white dory (was I surprised), and hundreds of years of Nyonya tradition. I must admit to being surprised by the Dory though. My experience with it has always been less than optimal. It always felt to me like a second rate fish. But in this application, it was lovely, firm, flaky, and everything it should be for otak-otak.
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"Yau Char Kwai"
Fish paste wrappedin crunchy crispy crullers was a no-brainer experience. What's not good about anything deep fried?
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Chicken Lobak
I'm a pork addict. Sorry guys. So I'm sceptical about what is usually an essential ingredient in this great dish. But I didn't miss it. It was sweet, flaky, crunchy, and everything lobak should be.
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Red Ginger Pomelo salad
A lovely creation. Something very simple but something else that is a must try. Sweet, pulpy pomelo. With little bits of pulp that pop in your mouth when you press it against the top of your mouth. Dry fried bits of dried prawns, peanuts, and fish sauce with a generous squeeze of lime for that welcome tartness in addition to that gorgeous coolness of pomelo juice all made for an unforgettable experience.
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Kasturi Pomelo Drink
With all that rich food, a sweet, zingy, tart drink really hit the spot. It had the distinctive flavour of calamansi with the interesting contrast of pulpy pomelo. YuM!
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Buah Rojak
Enough Har Kou and you have a great rojak! Nuff Said!

Absolutely recommended. Well done Elizabeth. Keep it up. Red Ginger has been consistent (all the times I've been there) and offers decent value for money. A great addition to our culinary landscape.

Red Ginger (Mid Valley)
Block A, Mezzanine Floor, Northpoint Offices
Mid Valley City, KL

Tel: 03-2287 0890

Red Ginger (Plaza Damansara)
Medan Setia 2, Plaza Damansara
Bukit Damansara, KL

Tel: 03-2095 3118

Closed Sundays.

7 Comments

This comment has been removed by the author.

totally agree with the ethics that comes with a "formal tasting".. i mean after all who are we to judge other then our prominent bellies to show hehe..

though i still think this might work..just need to figure this out..

Oh. Just kill us, quickly. Everything looks de-lish!

...mouth ... watering. .. . eyes ... big-big .... stomach ... rumbling... ... aieee!!!

Lunchtime is still 2 whole hours away!!! How to last!!!! :( *rumble*

joe; yup! lots more talking. Free food, ethics, free food, ethics...sheesh, what a dilemma ;)

Janvier; hahaha :-) no need to kill you. Just go try :-)

sneexe; hahaha :-) caaaan!

Give me some laksa lemak anytime! God, this is making me so hungry and it's already midnight dammit.

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