Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Local Thai Dining Experience...

Ban Klang Nam
288 Soi 14 Rama III Road,
Bangkhlo, Bangkhlolame,
Bangkok 10120
Tel : 0-2689-1969, 0-2292-0175, 0-2292-2037
Open Daily 11.00 am - 10.30 pm

Mum, Dad, E and myself popped by nearby Bangkok last week for a weekend of gatronomy indulgences and shopping bliss. We didn't quite shop till we drop but we sure made sure we didn't miss out on any makan opportunities whilst there. The first night E brought us to this local haunt, a 'kelong-style' restaurant nestled on the bank of the Chao Praya River and overlooking the huge Rama IX cable-stayed bridge. The sweeping view of the river and the bridge is magnificent if you can get a table out on the verandah. First on the menu, we had the perenniel favourite, Tom Yam Goong. The tantalising concoction of sweetness from the fresh and succulent river prawns together with the tangy lime juice and a light lashing of coconut milk is enough is whet your appetite. Next came the Thai Otah Otah which was lemak but I felt could do with another pinch of salt or some nam pla to make it even more yummy! We ordered the Stir-fried Bittergourd Shoots with Minced Garlic as we have never tasted this vegetable before. This was an interesting dish as it was a cross between Dou Miao (Pea Shoots) and Fan Shu Ye (Sweet Potato Leaves). It was cooked just nicely without being too overcooked and stringy. Next up, E ordered one of her favourites, Deep Fried River Prawns with Garlic. The deep-fried prawns were fresh and succulent and the garlic nibs fried just to perfection were sweet and aromatic. We were recommended the Steamed Scallops with Minced Garlic. (Ahem...garlic again! Garlic breath aarrgh!) The scallops were thick and chunky and were steamed with just the right timing, making it tender and juicy. However, we felt that it lacked the natural seafood sweetness...maybe a case of frozen scallops as opposed to fresh ones?!? The next dish was also a highly recommended dish...Thai-style Salt Grilled Sea Bass. Fresh whole fish (read scales and guts intact!) packed in sea salt and thrown on the grill. The compacted sea salt layer ensures that the natural sweetness of the fish is retained and helps to evenly distribute heat throughout to ensure even cooking. To eat...simply remove salt crust...peel away the fish skin (scales come off at the same time!)...and enjoy! Simple fare but heavenly shiok! Next up...what is a seafood makan without crabs!? And so E ordered the Thai-style Curry Crabs which is also the restaurant's speciality. The crab was sweet and meaty but I didn't quite like the curry sauce which was a tad too sweet and lemak for my liking. It didn't help that they threw in some fenugreek to spice it up. But...having said all that..E still loves crabs! Finally, to top off the night's feasting, we had a satisfying round of Sticky Rice with Mango. Make sure you pre-order in case it runs of of stock towards the end of your dining experience. That will be such a huge letdown! Overall, the food was good and reasonably priced. Reservation is highly recommended. The Service Staff there speaks basic English and you can even get them to speak to your taxi-driver for routes to get to the restaurant (via mobile phone though). Well, at least that's what E did and it worked out well! I give the restaurant a thumbs up for food, ambience and pricing. Drop by for a meal if you have the time whilst in Bangkok.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Cantonese Cuisine Anyone...?

Majestic Restaurant @ The New Majestic Hotel
31 - 37 Bukit Pasoh Road
Singapore 089845
Tel :(65) 6511 4718
Email :
Mon - Fri : Lunch & Dinner
Sat : Dinner
Sun : Closed

Just two Sundays back, I was treated to a feast at the Majestic Restaurant at the New Majestic Hotel, a new boutique hotel situated in the heart of Chinatown. The restaurant is rather small with the capacity of just over 15 tables (smaller tables) with 3 private dining rooms. The kitchen is open-concept style and we can both see and smell the cooking of the delectables bites and the activities that goes on in the busy kitchen. Some of the chefs are rather cute too! First up...we had an appetizer plate consisting of a piece of crisp Peking Duck Skin sitting on top of an equally tempting slice of a melt-in-your-mouth foie gras and a huge piece of succulent tiger prawn that is lightly battered and evenly fried to perfection and tossed in a delicious wasabi sauce.The portion didn't looked too big, much like french cuisine (ahem...also to mean small food portion served on a huge plate!) but trust me by the end of it all, we were already bursting at the seams, if not then it's probably our wallet!!) The second dish was a soup...Shark's Bone Soup with Fish Maw and Beijing Cabbage. Wow! This soup really packs a punch! It didn't look intimidating at all when served...just reminded me of a runny cream soup. But when I had my first sip, I fell in love with it! The soup didn't taste creamy and fishy at all. It has a nice smooth, velvety almost 'gummy' texture to it, much like what you'll get by long-boiling a chicken soup, except better. Simple but heavenly...Next on the menu, we had a Steamed Scotland Bamboo Clam with Minced Garlic. Nothing extraordinary about this dish except that the Bamboo Clams were steamed with just the right timing without it being too overcooked and chewy. Dad loves the next dish which happened to be the Grilled Rack of Lamb with Chinese Honey Sauce served on a bed of Pan-fried Oriental Carrot Cake. The lamb was nicely marinated and grilled to perfection to retain it's natural flavour and juiciness. I particularly liked the sauce which is sweet and comes with a hint of char siew and hoisin sauce. The carrot cake was an unusual side-kick used to compliment the dish. Next up, we had the Braised Homemade Tofu with Roasted Garlic. It was nothing to shout about though the tofu was indeed silky and smooth and could almost glide down your throat. Our finally dish for the night was the Braised Noodle with Sliced Goose and Dried Leaf Mustard. Springy Shanghai La Mein with succulent slices of goose and Mui Choi...a nice simple finale! To end off the night's feasting, I had a hot Almond Cream with Papaya for dessert. Not too bad a choice except that the Almond was a little too overpowering (I think they were too enthusiastic when adding in the Almond essence). The dinner cost a bomb but nonetheless we all enjoyed a wonderful dinner together celebrating both E's promotion and K's belated birthday. I give it thumbs up for ambience and food. If you like to impress someone and want something a little different, you may like to consider the Majestic Restaurant for your next makan venue...but be prepared to pay and splurge!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

In the Mood for...Curry Potato & Beef Pasties

Tried out Secret Recipe's ginomous Curry Puff some time back and was tickled into having a go at making my own version at home. I got out of bed this morning and told myself this has to be the here goes!

Curry Potato & Beef Pasties

Shortcrust Pastry :
500g Plain Flour

250g Butter
1/4 tsp Salt
50 -70ml iced water

Filling :
4 nos. Large Potatoes (boiled and diced)
300g Minced Beef
1 no. Large Onion (diced)
4 tbsp Curry Powder (mixed into a paste with some water)
3 tbsp Oil
3/4 cup Water
Salt & Sugar to taste
3 nos. Hard-boiled Eggs (quartered)

Method :
1. Preheat oven to 200 Degree Celsius.
2. To prepare Shortcrust pastry, weigh out flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add in butter and rub butter into flour using fingertips till it resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Add in sufficient iced water to form a dough. Knead well till dough is smooth.
4. Place covered in the refrigerator for 30 mins before using.
5. To prepare Filling, saute diced onions with oil in a pan till softened and fragrant. Add in minced beef and fry till almost cooked. Add in curry paste and stir-fry. Add in the water and seasonings to taste. Lastly add in the diced potatoes and slowly simmer to absorb moisture into potatoes. Set aside to cool before using.
6. To assemble Pasties, roll pastry to approx. 0.50cm thick. Cut out rounds (approx. 15cm diameter). Place about 1 1/2 tbsp of filling and a quarter of the hard-boiled egg into the centre of the round. Seal the edges together and place onto baking trays.
7. Egg wash the pasties. bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or till golden brown.

* Special Mention - This jumbo-sized treat can be served as a main for lunch just by having a simple garden salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar on the side.

** Post-mortem Report - If you like your pastry with that buttery melt-in-the-mouth texture, increase the butter to 350g. However, I find it a tad too 'soft' for my liking. The 'soft' texture also posed a problem during pre-baking handling. Also, feel free to substitute beef with chicken or any other types of meat (either minced or cubed).