Tag Archives: chinese

Chinese Vegetarian Festival at Brown Rice/Organic Bistro

Every year in October Thais celebrate a Chinese festival of vegetarianism known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. It is celebrated all over Southeast Asia but with particular zeal in Thailand where stalls fly the yellow and red flag to signify that they are serving pure vegetarian food for the period. Phuket is where festivities hit their zenith with the 35% Chinese population also indulging in various other religious rites.
In Chiang Mai, Duang is happily celebrating the festival at Brown Rice Organic bistro since it perfectly fits in with the Vegetarian food that he already serves. Expecting more custom during this period as normally meat-eating customers forgo their normal dishes, Duang is serving a set menu each day along with just a couple of a La Carte options so that he can keep up with the demand.

The cookbook has been on the back-burner a little bit in the last week due to the move, this festival and a couple of trips I’ve taken with Sophie before she heads to India to facilitate a Tantra workshop. We had a great couple of weekends in Chiang Rai and Pai.

I have managed to get a few more recipes down though, notably deep fried Mushrooms with garlic, Herb Fried Rice, Deep Fried Tofu, cabbage with shitake soup and Pa Loh (Chinese 5 Spice Stew). I also learnt Duang’s technique for preparing Ready Cooked and Seasoned Shitake Mushrooms which he keeps and uses when necessary, a restaurant secret to make things quicker but also giving a better taste and smell than using fresh!

Today he served Deep Fried Tofu and Mushroom with Sweet and Sour Chilli Sauce, Stir Fried vegetables with Oyster Sauce and a three mushroom soup with Goji Berries.

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Malaysia Kitchen

I’ve gone on about my love of Malaysian food so many times but that’s not going to stop me from doing it again here.

Malaysia Kitchen is going to be one of the headline stalls at the Taste Of London event next weekend and those lovely people at Sauce Comms invited a load of us down to South Kensington initially and then on a tour of two other restaurants.  Food crawl, brilliant.

Anyway, we started off at the rather upmarket Awana just up the road from South Ken tube where William Wang was a welcoming host.  An extensive cocktail list was perused and I ended up with an Apple Sin, containing Rum, Apple schnapps and juice I think – it wasn’t as sweet as I first feared and was actually hugely drinkable (I had a second) even though it came in a slightly odd twisted glass.  Lots of people were trying the Champagne cocktail with hibiscus and there was another drink with in a bizarre martini type glass but with no stem nestling in another glass of ice.

We were shown the Satay bar – one of the only ones in London and the signature feature here.  It reminded me of the time in Ipoh watching Megat’s brother creating a production line of Roti balls for his breakfast stall.  His brother and next door neighbour’s young son worked together to make sure the dough was airy and ready to roll out in the morning to serve all the trade by the side of the road in his village.  Awesome stuff and also about the only place I’ve felt like a celebrity.

Here they were frying the rotis and we had a selection, with plain rotis served with red curry sauce as well as dhal. This has always been one of my facourite dishes and it was good here although the curry sauce was close, I didn’t think it was quite as authentic as the one I had at Melati.  We also had Murtabak (Roti filled with Beef Rendang) and some very good satay which turned out to be the “control dish” across all the places we ate.

Hard to really judge this place from the food that we had but it was a decent set of starters, the cocktails were good and it is a bit more upmarket and impressive a restaurant than the others we visited.

Second place, after quickly jumping in the back of a car was the Satay House.  At first I was very unconvinced as we were shepherded downstairs but this slightly dingy basement was packed with diners and  it was described by one blogger who I shan’t name as a “flat pack restaurant” that you could fold up when required, down to the apparently stuck on teardrop light fittings.  The service seemed a little  all over the place as well but then in comparison to Awana they were far busier.  It wasn’t too long before the next phase of our feast was being served, with Beef Rendang, spicy aubergine, noodles, rice and satay again on the menu.  The Rendang was really good, with a lingering chilli heat and tender meat while the aubergine also had a big kick to it.

I was surprised by the rice, which I didn’t think was cooked particularly well (and I’m a big fan of my Malaysian coconut rice) but in many ways the food here was the most authentic and tasty we tried.

Full to the brim  we were herded into our transport again and taken just around the corner to our final stop (where surely dessert would be all that was on offer) Tuk Din in Bayswater.

As it turned out they were very keen to demonstrate the abilities of the kitchen as well and we were faced with a menu card promising another 6 dishes…

This was a Malay restaurant rather than the perhaps more Chinese influenced ones we had been to before (and certainly compared with Kiasu the other week) and so with no alcohol served by the Muslim proprietors it was fruit juices all the way – Lychee was popular but I thought the Guava was a bit special.

This place was bright and airy with a welcoming feel as we entered and the presentation of all the dishes on offer was superb.  Colourful, fresh and interesting it would be very hard to fault the look of this food.

When the food arrived, it was surprising how I was able to get involved.  I liked the Satay pieces – served not on the stick and personally I would say they were probably my favourite although pretty close with Awana.

I was starting to wonder how on earth I could manage any more though and the Vegetarian Fried Noodles did nothing to encourage me.  Mee Goreng has never been my favourite and this didn’t sway me at all.

For the mains, Sweet and Sour Sea Bass was the winner for me – not quite as good as the one I had under the stars in Kampung Baru near downtown KL – but tasty with a zingy sharpness.

The chicken Rendang was much milder than in Satay House and the large chunks of meat didn’t really work for me.  I found the beef in coconut and lemongrass a bit bland but a lot of people had this down as their favourite dish, the mussels were similarly a bit underwhelming.

I liked this place and would come back but purely in terms of food I think the Satay House was slightly tastier – opinions were very much divided though!

Thanks so much to Luiz at the London Foodie for the pictures!

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Malaysia Kitchen


The start of a very Sauce(y) week was to promote the launch of the Malaysia Kitchen Dining Card at Kiasu on Queensway.

We had been invited by Sauce Communications for a mamouth feast of mainly Chinese influenced Malaysian food in the unasuming (and rather blue) surroundings of this cute restaurant and I was looking forward to eating some of my favourite cuisine.

I fell in love with Malaysian food 5 or 6 years ago when I travelled over there and was introduced to the culture and food by friends and through my own travels.  I was lucky enough to be there for the Hari Raya (end of Ramadan) celebrations where Open House parties across the country are the norm and I spent a good week being shepherded from house to house being fed Beef Rendang and other treats until I was fit to burst.  I even met the king of Malaysia as part of that experience but then, that’s another story..

So as I settled in with Meemalee, the London Foodie, One Million Gold Stars, the Wine Sleuth and Cooking the Books it didn’t take long before an overwhelming selection of food was brought for our delectation.

The starters began with Chye tow kway, a stir fried Radish Cake which was new to me but tasty

We had Beef and Chicken Satay, which is difficult to do badly I always think, although I never really appreciated it in Malaysia due to my distaste for peanuts at the time (I got over that though…)

Along with this extremely familiar dish the Kueh Pai Tee was quite the opposite.  A Nyonya dish (from the Chinese influenced Melacca straits area) the little “Top Hats” topped with a prawn and made by hand were crunchy and delicious, if a touch awkward to eat. *note I am a clumsy oaf so this may be more down to my lack of grace than anything else.

As if that wasn’t enough we had Special Fried Calamari and a Ngoh hiang sausage roll type dish.  Luckily there were a couple of latecomers which meant we had a pause before the next onslaught of main courses arrived!

Chilli Crab was tasty and messy as anything and the accompanying buns were incredible doughnutty balls of delight.

Meanwhile the Honey Glazed Ribs were extremely more-ish…

The Hainanese Chicken Rice, another Malaysian dish with Chinese origins, was great as well.  Very authentic to the stuff available seemingly on every street in parts of Penang, I remember surviving for days eating little else because what more could you want than chicken with three sauces and a deliciously flavoured rice.  I think I gobbled this one up before I had chance to take a photo…

We had a whole bowl of Laksa each and it was good, spicy without being overwhelming and again nice and authentic. I was getting full by this stage but several of the others managed to polish the whole thing off…!

Finally, we had the less than light fried noodle dish of  Char kway teow, a very common dish with prawns and topped with pork fat.  I was too full to try more than a mouthful but it was pretty good.

Here’s the gorgeous PR Jenny just about to stuff her face again, she certainly has an appetite.

That wasn’t it though, we had an interesting iced dessert, Chendol consisting of coconut milk, red beans, palm sugar and green tapioca jelly.  It was authentic, but I was never particularly taken with these and I wouldn’t drink a whole one.

Finally, to totally fill us to bursting a small scoop of strongly flavoured Durian Ice cream.  Durian is a stinky South East Asian fruit with a peculiar cheese like flavour and chewy texture that often gets banned from hotels and taxis due to it causing them to smell like sewers.  This was much more pleasant, however, and left me travelling home with Durian burps as my body attempted to digest such a monumental meal.

NB. This was a comp meal but I would certainly go back and pay (although I would probably not order quite as much..)

Apologies for the crap photos!

 

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