Kampungkayell

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

MPS and Merdeka Multiracialism and VOTING

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

50 years on and race and religion divides us more than ever.

I'm of an age when I remember a time when all my friends from my primary school used to sit at the back of the church and sing hymns together. And all of them are still good muslims, hindus, and buddhists. We were so comfortable with each other then. And many of those friends still get together today every so often and giggle about those times.

Now, I'm not advocating that all our troubles will be solved if all religions get together and worship in each other's houses of worship. Far from it. It will be a cold day in hell when something like that happens on a large scale. Oh, you'll have a few people comfortable enough with themselves to be able to do it and not worry about what other people think.

But more than that, what happened all those years ago was something we can grow from. Yes, grow from!

It wasn't tolerance. But acceptance. A huge difference. The colour of our skin, the faiths we profess all have much alike. But for some reason, in the ensuing years since Merdeka, what has been promoted are the differences. And so we promote, tolerance.

We've been preaching the gospel about tolerance to the point that that's all we have now. And what is tolerance?

One of the given meanings is "The capacity of enduring hardship or inconvenience without complaint" or "the act or capacity of enduring; endurance." And that is what we've got now. You hear about University students moving in cliques, you see people being segregated by restaurants, you hear it in our language, about race, about religion. The worst part is the people involved in all this don't even see it as being wrong. We "tolerate" each other. We're civil (mostly) to each other. But is that enough?

Oh sure, in the cities, we do mix. Allan and I have a mixed group of friends. And we love them all. And wish we had more time to spend with all of them. But I'm not certain that's the true picture of what's happening here in our country.

In a way though, the way I see it, our country is in it's adolescence. You know how the larger of God's creatures take longer to grow? It's almost like that with our country.

You see, I grew up as a 7 to 12 year old in a country that was itself "7 to 12." (Well Malaysia was 27 years old at the time but as I said, at 27, countries are large beings and at 27 still very very young.) At that age, all kids play together and they don't know the meaning of the words, race, difference, until we're taught them.

In the ensuing years, as we discovered ourselves, we travelled in paths which were perhaps not the best paths to travel on. There was an emphasis on race that was inculcated into our present twentysomethings and thirtysomethings. A heightened awareness of race and religion that had the insidious effect of segregating us.

But again, I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe being "human" our country needs to travel through paths that it was NOT meant to take to realise the paths it was meant for. We were playing a board game yesterday and we were taunting the opposing team by saying "that's ok. you'll learn by your MISTAKES." And well, I believe that's exactly true of our country.

Marina wrote a gorgeous article about her family the other day in The Star. About how her family is truly Malaysian with all sorts of races in it. And how, even though they were all of different races, the first thing that bound them all was their love for each other. (I'm paraphrasing. If you're interested, you can click here to read the entire article.)

So people, speak up, say what you think is right, but say it in a way that people can accept, learn from and maybe, just maybe, be persuaded to your way of thinking. But MOST IMPORTANTLY, vote to let your leaders know what you want.

Register to vote. As a citizen, it's not only a right, but a duty/responsibility. After all, if you don't make use of the most fundamental right of a democracy, I don't believe you should complain. It's almost like the message you are sending to the government is "hey, it's ok to do what you're doing, and I'm leaving it in your hands." I guess what I'm trying to say is, do what you need to do. And when you do, you'll be surprised at how people will respect you for it, and maybe even emulate you. Don't worry about the naysayers who say nothing will change. It may not change for 5, 10, 20 years. But it will. Of that you can be certain. But if you truly value your citizenship, then do what you need to do now and register to vote and VOTE!

Max's Kitchen and Wines

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

In a rather non-descript setting of one of the hottest food areas in town, namely, Tengkat Tong Shin, Max opened his restaurant, eponymously named, Max's Kitchen & Wines.

The Floggers were, as Allan remarked later, "very punctual." Allan and I were very pleased that we were able to get there just 15 minutes tardy, when in actual fact, everyone had arrived, were seated and had ordered. These people take their food seriously!

Wmw and her date, ipoh-mali, boo-licious and splashie boy, paprika and partner, lyrical lemongrass and bald eagle, joe and N, sooyin, and M had obviously almost nested by the time Allan and I sauntered in. You know how cats and dogs circle a resting place, scratch at it, and then wiggle their bums to settle in? And well, it all takes a moment or two? Well, that is exactly how everyone looked. Settled. And ready to get on with the important business of savouring - not just eating - the food.

DSC_0005.jpg
Homemade bread as seen through a wine glass
DSC_0017a.jpg
Joe, Bald Eagle, wmw, and ipoh mali snapping away - scenes like this are very very common and are a cardinal sign of blogger behaviour in their natural habitat - restaurants and food joints
DSC_0007.jpg
Yabbies = yummy
DSC_0008.jpg
Scallops
DSC_0009.jpg
Seared tuna with baby octopus - yum meee!
DSC_0012.jpg
Grilled Tuna
DSC_0016.jpg
Wagyu Beef cooked in Shiraz - rich, buttery tender, and mushrooms :-)
DSC_0018.jpg
Lamb Cutlets - Gorgeous. Try!
DSC_0020.jpg
duck! :-)
DSC_0023.jpg
sooyin :-) - Who photographs the photographer? ;-)
DSC_0033.jpg
Strawberry Cataiffi (I think that's how it's spelt)
DSC_0031.jpg
Chocolate Souffle
DSC_0037.jpg
White Chocolate Tart
DSC_0039.jpg
Interesting drink - can't remember what it was
DSC_0042.jpg
ipoh mali TASTING said forgotten drink! :-)
It's been sometime since we went so really, I can't remember all the details. But I do remember one thing very clearly. I left feeling like we must spread the word and bring friends and family.

Max Kitchen & Wines
27 Tengkat Tong Shin
50200 Kuala Lumpur
03-2141 8115

Nerovivo

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Celebration time come on! Remember that Kool & The Gang song? If you do, then you are of a "certain age." But it's still so appropo for certain occasions. ;-)

Keith, Allan's best buddy from High School had just come back from Amsterdam where he's made his home and we were out for a night on the town. Nerovivo was suggested.
IMG_2975.JPG
We've been to Nerovivo a couple of times before and it never disappointed. From the antipasti to their pizzas, we've always found them well priced, unpretentious, good Italian food.
IMG_2978.JPG
Prosecco
IMG_2981.JPG
Mussels in broth. Generous portions with a rich, stock with hints of herb and tomatoes, infused with the scent of the mussels, it was hard to lay off the bread that was laid on to dip into the sweet liquid.
IMG_2976.JPG
Great wood fired flatbread dipped in Italian Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. You can tell Italian from Spanish as Italian Olive Oil tends to have more of a bitter bite. Spanish is fruitier.
IMG_2979.JPG
Allan and Keith
IMG_2983.JPG
Buffalo mozarella and tomatoes. Great dish. But unfortunately let down by the quality of tomatoes. Something that I don't blame Paolo (owner and chef) for. It's almost impossible to get ripe, fragrant tomatoes in this country. God knows why. A tomato should be sweet and savoury at the same time and have a taste that is all summer. The ones we get here are slightly acidic (read sourish) and tasteless. But I loved the buffalo mozarella and could eat that all day.
IMG_2986.JPG
Great pizza. Flaky bread, generous amounts of tomato sauce, and stringy savoury cheese.
IMG_2987.JPG
I love meat. Did I mention I love meat? A lamb shank to die for. Tender, unctuous, meltingly gamy, along with garlic mash. Yum.
IMG_2988.JPG
A well oiled pasta. Scallops and chillis with arugula. Fresh bitter bite of arugula combined with the very rich mouthfeel of generously garlick-ed pasta made for a very satisfying experience.
IMG_2990.JPG
The obligatory salad - I need my fibre
IMG_2991.JPG
Chocolatello and Limoncello. An after dinner digestif. A sweet, chocolate liquor with the warmth of alcohol steaming its way up your nose OR a lemony but NOT tart sweetness with the bitter bite of grain alcohol soothing its way down your throat was the perfect way of ending your meal.
IMG_2994.JPG
A peach tart with warm vanilla creme sandwiched between flaky layers of warm pastry. Imagine if you will, cool & sweet but firm peaches resting on a luscious, lustrous vanilla creme, sandwiched between buttery flaky and warm pastry. With every bite you experience the perfect contrast of flavour, temperature and texture.
IMG_2995.JPG
Strachiatella. A white and dark chocolate combo in a chocolate wafer cup. Good, honest, home made Gelato.
IMG_2997.JPG
A Chocolate flan with chocolate sauce garnished with blueberries. A Nerovivo take on the classic fallen chocolate cake with the warm molten centre. Good chocolate is the secret here and Paolo did not skimp.

Nerovivo. Thoroughly recommended. For 5 people, 2 bottles of wine and great food, a bill just a touch over RM600. What more could you ask for in KL?

Nerovivo
3A, Jalan Ceylon
50200 Kuala Lumpur
tel: 03-20703120

Red Ginger at Northpoint

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

DSC_0094.JPG
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."
DSC_0090.JPG

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."

DSC_0138.JPG
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!

DSC_0135.JPG
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."
DSC_0134.JPG
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.
DSC_0131.JPG
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.
DSC_0125.JPG
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.
DSC_0123.JPG
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.
DSC_0116.JPG
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.
DSC_0113.JPG
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.
DSC_0110.JPG
"Yau Char Kwai"
Fish paste wrappedin crunchy crispy crullers was a no-brainer experience. What's not good about anything deep fried?
DSC_0108.JPG
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.
DSC_0107.JPG
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.
DSC_0095.JPG
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!
DSC_0106.JPG
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.

King Crab Restaurant & Jackson's Birthday

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

On Monday, May Wan of wmw sms-es me and says "Jackson's Birthday at kokopeli on Wed. 7.30pm."

Cool! Never been to Kokopeli.

A day later, another sms, this time from Jason of Ipoh Mali Talak Sombong with the same message.

On the day of the dinner another sms, "Venue change to William." Great never been there either.

A few hours later, "Raining. Venue change back to Kokopeli."

30 mins later, "Don't want to go into town. Going King Crab in Taman Mayang instead."

And I still haven't been to any of these venues.

Suffice to say, a few sms-es of directions later, we're sitting in King Crab Restaurant all ready to celebrate Jackson's birthday and enjoy the Butter Crab that Ivy is raving about. She really loves her food that one. On the one hand, she's swigging cough mixture so she'll feel well enough to eat. In the other hand, she's vigourously spooning up enough Butter Gravy to, as she said, "fill her cough mixture bottle when she finishes it, so I can have some with bread at home." Before all of you draw any conclusion from this, let me say that reason won out and she didn't do as she threatened!

DSC_0069.JPG
Teckiee enjoying the butter crab

The Butter crab was one of the most gorgeous things to have passed my lips in a long time. Obviously, full of transfats, because of the margarine but still worth every artery clogging moment. Yes, boys and girls, chinese restaurant chefs prefer using margarine. Although they may borrow that most hallowed word, "Butter" but strictly speaking it's margarine. You must admit, "Margarine" Crab just doesn't have that ring!

Creamy, luscious, and cooked just enough so the crab was not harsh and dry, it was extremely well done.

DSC_0065.JPG
The butter crab in it's natural state before Teckiee got her claws on it

DSC_0062.JPG
Noodles for the Birthday Boy
The Noodles were good, meaning they were par for the course. Chives, beansprouts, mushrooms, and slivers of pork sauteed and then doused in a little bit of thickened gravy.

DSC_0061.JPG
Another must-have dish when you come to King Crab. The Salted Egg Sotong/Calamari

Allan positively swooned when he ate this dish. Lightly battered and deep fried with Salted egg. I believe they actually use just the yolks in this application. Salty, crunchy, hot (temperature), and most importantly, the calamari was not overcooked to the point of being rubbery. An interesting application of the salted egg batter which has been seen in Crabs for sometime.

DSC_0059.JPG
Obligatory Fibre - Kai Lan

DSC_0058.JPG
Man Tou to sop up the gorgeous crab gravy


It was unfortunate that they brought the mantou out so soon as it was cold by the time the Crabs came out. But no one complained. The crab gravy was piping and as it brushed past the taste buds on my tongue, for me, it was the new chocolate!

DSC_0057.JPG
Little crabs eaten by the clams
DSC_0055.JPG
Clams in broth
DSC_0052.JPG
Glazed Pork Ribs
DSC_0051.JPG
A cold, cold, did I say cold? beer!
DSC_0050.JPG
Wmw acting as she must,as is her wont.
DSC_0046.JPG
Jackson Kah, his shit eating grin, with the Kueh Ko-chi we gave him as part of his birthday present seen here inserting said Kueh into a Bagel Hole. Things that make you go hmmm??
DSC_0044.JPG
Achar - crunchy, tangy, sweet, sour, and salty - a perfect appetizer to "hoy wei" or "open your stomach"
DSC_0067.JPG
Baked Salted Fish - very good - the firm white flesh flaked off and was lightly salted and you could tell they had a deft hand with fish
DSC_0048.JPG
Yay! Pressie! ;-) Happy Birthday Jackson.

The condiments were also yummy. I mention the condiments only because Teckiee wanted a bottle of the green chilli sauce that accompanied the fish, so Allan suggested we all take some and ended up buying 13 bottles. 13 bottles because with 10 bottles 3 were given free.

All in all a laughter filled evening, which seems to be the norm when the food bloggers/floggers get together. The food was good,and the company exemplary. What more could one ask for?

King Crab Restaurant (in the shoplots directly opposite the Kelana Jaya Putra LRT station)
No 103-105 Jalan SS25/2
Tmn Mewah Jaya
47301 Petaling Jaya
Tel; 03-78082388