Traditional Malay fare at Songket Restaurant, KL

Songket Restaurant KL - outside I’ve always been somewhat sceptical about Malay food served in nice restaurants. Oh you know what I mean, that is if you were born and bred in Malaysia. If you don’t get it at home (like me), you probably get them from the roadside warung and gerai makan aplenty.

An invitation to a food tasting at Songket Restaurant came through and I took Horng with me. On the way to pick up Hornyman, I passed by the big drain next to Bank Negara. Saw a slight commotion, then an overturned MPV in the drain. And several body bags too, OMG! Must be a really terrible accident! I got chills because I felt so bad at that time. But then… there were lights… and cameras. Turns out it was a movie scene for the Jay Chou and Nicholas Tse flick partly shot in KL -__-” . Bloody hell, made me kancheong only!!! So yes, I thought it was interesting enough to be noted, heh.

Getting there was a breeze. Songket Restaurant is located behind Tony Roma’s along Jalan Yap Kwan Seng. Turn off from the main road and you’ll see it – a traditional-looking single level wooden building surrounded by KL’s high rise. Quite a contrast, I thought. Parking was ample and free.

On with the traditional Malay food at Songket Restaurant!
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The Screw-Your-Diet Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce & Pan-Fried Chicken

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce and Pan Fried Chicken 01 In my unprofessional opinion, you should be able to screw your diet every day. But that’s me and I’m fat. If you don’t want to be fat, eat healthily every meal and be a gym bunny. If you want to be fat, eat lots and lots and don’t exercise. Guarantee balloon up one.

If you just want to indulge once in a while, here’s one for you. I call it the Screw-Your-Diet Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce & Pan-Fried Chicken. You can call it anything you like as long as you make it.

When is the best time to make it? I reckon Monday, which was the day when I made it. Or Sunday because it’s the end of the week and you’re allowed. Or any day in between. Go crazy! :D

First, have a recipe to refer to. I followed Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce rather faithfully. Just added chicken ‘cos I didn’t feel like eating plain pasta. Since it’s a Screw-Your-Diet thingamajig, might as well go all the way, right?? :D
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Girly stuff, not recommended for alpha men

In this long blog post, I’m going to talk about: facial stuff, waxing, sanitary pads and periods. Not the singular dot for punctuation, more of the monthly bloody kind. If that’s not warning enough for those who can’t bear to read about these kind of things, I don’t know what else would work.

How about this: STOP READING IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW.

A while back, Salmah of Precious Me contacted me, asking if I’d like to try out her homemade skincare products. She sent me a trial set of the “FLOWER POWER” 3-in-1 Facial Cleansing Powder and “REJUVENATE ME” 2-in-1 moisturiser.

Back to Basics by Precious Me

Interesting eh? I’d never used homemade skincare products before. Of course I trawled through her website for details about the things that she made before putting it on my face. Apparently Salmah started making her own skincare products out of necessity than wanting to join the ‘natural crowd’, so to speak. If you want to know more, you could always ask her as it’s her story to tell.

The cleansing powder contains 5 types of flower powders (Lavender, Rose Hip, Calendula, Hibiscus & Pink Rose), 2 types of natural clay powders (Kaolin Clay & Dead Sea Black Clay), 2 types of gentle cleansing grains (Rice Flour & Organic Oats) and 2 types of plant powders (Sandalwood & Tea Tree).

Back to Basics 3-in-1 Facial Cleansing Powder, Scrub and Mask 01 Back to Basics 3-in-1 Facial Cleansing Powder, Scrub and Mask 02

As I’m rather impatient, I started using the powder as a mask. I think my skin did feel better after each application. None of the ‘tightness’ feeling, plus it kind of looked better. I would probably use it daily if it wasn’t powder-based (i.e. lazy). As for the moisturiser, I quite like the more prominent scent of sandalwood. Would probably help more if I used it on a more regular basis, but I’m the type who needs a kicking where the sun doesn’t shine.

If you’d like to give it a go, you can get a trial set for only RM32. Usual price RM40, this offer’s till end of May 2011.

Precious Me’s Natural Skincare Products
General Blog || Facial Cleanser || Moisturiser

I won a MSN Lifestyle contest and received a voucher for a free STRIP: Ministry of Waxing Strawberry Wax Virgin Brazilian treatment worth RM150. Expensive or not? I had one done before using soft wax which cost a lot less but that was years ago. Don’t really see the point of going full out, don’t have a baby complex if you know what I mean.

Made an appointment with the STRIP outlet at The Curve. Found out what my treatment meant: Strawberry wax means the hard wax that they use is strawberry flavoured. They also have a chocolate flavour, I suppose for the scent more than anything. When I first did it, it was the old fashioned way where hot wax was put on me then removed with a sticky cloth, along with the hair. This hard wax is applied directly to the spot, then it slightly hardens and the wax is removed along with the hair. From what little I remember, I prefer the latter as it’s less sticky and felt cleaner.

To answer your question, OF COURSE PAIN LA… It was also a rather humbling experience, nervous attempts at small talk while the girl is hovering over your privates. She was nice, friendly and rather assuring but still…!

I’m not familiar with these prices but if you’d look at their menu + prices, let me know if you think it’s reasonable or overpriced? The experience was good but perhaps I could get it cheaper + better elsewhere? What do you think?

Strip: Ministry of Waxing
Malaysian Website

(Again) A while back, I was sent some samples of the new Kotex Luxe. The pads were packaged in a tin box which unfortunately is not available any more. You can still get the Kotex Luxe pads sans pretty tin box.

Kotex Luxe tin box

They are basically thinner, apparently better pads which are a heck lot prettier. I do have to agree that the feminine designs ON the pads make them nicer to look at. Very pretty. Some people like those stuff on their sanitary pads. I don’t understand why. For me, I look at the functionality and effectiveness in making sure that I do not… errr, leak. Aesthetics be damned.

… Which Kotex Luxe seems to do a good job of. I used them a couple of times during my 2nd and 3rd days (on the 1st days, I always use Whisper. Always, always, always!), quite soft and comfy and holds up pretty well. Would I buy this again? Yes, and I have… when they were on sale.

Kotex Luxe Ultrathin Pads
http://www.kotex.com.my/en/products/luxe

Speaking of periods, mine didn’t arrive for 3 or 4 months. Har har no I’m not pregnant. Sorry mom to have disappointed you -_-”

So I wasn’t too worried about it because I’ve always been somewhat irregular. Sure, 3 or 4 months may be something to worry about, but I attributed it to going back to exercising (at that time). Hormonal imbalance and all that. It has happened before, may be the same thing this time.

Then my sister suggested that my Fallopian tubes may be blocked. Gulped, I seriously honestly didn’t think of that before! Screw having children (heheheh) but it may be a cyst or what-not, right?? I got paranoid, called my doctor to ask for her opinion on where I should get an ultrasound. She suggested the Sime Darby Medical Centre in Taman Megah.

Things I learned at a pelvic ultrasound: do not pee before you go, preferably go with a full bladder. Apparently the bladder is like a magnifying window to the rest of the stuff in your pelvic area. So I had a REALLY fun time drinking like, 10 cups of water trying to make my bladder full… not.

So I was complaining on Twitter about my bladder not getting full (I was dehydrated) and Dr Liew asked if there was anything wrong with my kidneys. Err… so I asked for an additional abdomen ultrasound also. Might as well right, since I’m there already.

Well as it turns out, there’s nothing wrong with my tubes. There’s a benign cyst in the right ovary but it is most likely follicles. I even have eggs, omg! I know I know, but having solid proof that you have eggs in your ovaries make you feel somewhat… empowered. At least I did. The doctor said that the non-bleeding thing may be a ‘trip in the system’ and it will come back soon.

Sure enough, guess whose period arrived one week after her ultrasound? -_-”

But life is a funny thing. In the report for my abdomen ultrasound, she wrote, “Fatty Liver”. I don’t know whether it means my liver is fucked or it’s a generic harmless fatty liver syndrome but I got a full blood test to check it out. The results aren’t back yet but at least I made the effort to find out (also after much probing from my sister <3 ).

If you have to link up stuff, I'd think that the non-period prompted me for a check-up which revealed something else that I may have to be aware of. Whatever the case, I'm rather thankful that it happened. Quite twilight zone in a way for me, but I do look at it positively.

So yes, in my sister's words, "GO GET YOURSELF CHECKED!"

Read up on: Fatty Liver || Sime Darby Health Care

Final girly stuff: RM33 instead of RM198 for Manicure + Pedicure + Underarm Waxing / Threading + Hand & Leg Paraffin + French Glitters at Nails Jewel, Aman Suria via MilkaDeal!

Milkadeal - Nails Jewel, Aman Suria

I’m getting this one as it’s near my office (same row as Betty’s Midwest Kitchen). RM33 for full mani+pedi is already quite worth it, this one includes underarm waxing/ threading, hand and leg paraffin treatment (to soften) and French glitters. I know it’s damn girly and not quite me, but I’ve a wedding to go to soon :P

You can buy this deal here, only about 1 day and 9 hours to get it though… fai tiiii arrr!

Websites for: Milk A Deal || This Deal Page || Nails Jewel

Best kitchen helper ever, the Ikea’s Stralande!

Ikea's Stralande A while back, I talked about a rather expensive onion chopper that I saw in Parkson. What a Lulu commented that she uses a chopper bought from Ikea that I may have missed in my previous multiple trips to Ikea.

Off I went to the Land of Giant Swedish Furniture Mall in search of this Stralande chopper. There it was, in its gleaming white plastic beauty screaming, take me home for RM30! How could anyone ignore its dulcet persuasions?

All I can say is, chopping garlic and onions isn’t a chore any more! I find that by using this, I also tend to throw in more garlic whenever I have use for them. It’s okay, I love lots and lots of garlic in my food. I also hate chopping or mincing lots and lots of garlic. Now with this Ikea chopper, I can stop hating and start loving! :D

Today I’m going to try and persuade you to get your own Ikea Stralande. How? By showing you how easy it is to use this chopper and to get lots and lots of chopped stuff in less than a minute!

First peel off the skin and ugly bits off your garlic or onions. For onions, you can’t throw the whole thing into the chopper. You have to chop it to smaller bits. If you don’t understand why, you soon will.

Putting in garlic

Put in your cloves of garlic, screw the top of the lid back on then press press press to chop!

Pressing chopper down

A few presses will do. If you want really finely minced stuff, press it down a few more times. Then you will get chopped garlic, voila!

Finely chopped garlic

Best RM30 I ever spent. This is not an Ikea advertorial. I wish it was :(

Boulangère Potatoes – third time’s a charm!

Boulangère potatoes. From what I gathered, at the end of a long day of baking, the French bakers would place their potatoes into the oven to cook while the oven cools down. I never had it before but the many sources I referred to described it as thus: a thinly sliced bed of potatoes with onions and black pepper, the bottom half simmered in stock to produce soft, tender potatoes and the top half roasted to a slight golden crisp.

Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? If I remember correctly, I wanted to make potatoes that wasn’t heavy, as in creamy stuff. I had to make this 3 times because obviously the first 2 were miserable flops. Bloody hell, right?? I’m not even a huge fan of potatoes!! So the 1st time I wanted to eat potatoes. The 2nd and 3rd times, I just wanted to get the darn thing right.

So here I document my attempts + failures + success + thoughts at making Boulangère potatoes.

Boulangère Potatoes  - Ingredients

Ingredients:
- 3 or 4 potatoes, depending on how large your tray is. I used Russet potatoes.
- 1 large onion. Or 2 medium onions. Or 3 small onions. Har har har.
- Stock: either vegetable, chicken or beef. I used 1 cube = 500ml
- Butter, enough to grease and some bits to fleck on later.
- Flat/ Italian parsley. You can skip this if you want.
- Black pepper and if your stock’s not salted, salt.

Things to do:
- Roughly chop up your onion(s). Zwilling knives chop the best onions!
- Roughly chop up parsley. Or don’t if you don’t have parsley.
- Slice potatoes VERY thinly. As thin as you can get without hurting yourself.
- Pre-heat oven about 15 mins at 180C.

Boulangère Potatoes - Methods

1 – Grease your tray/ pan. I think it helps?

2 – Arrange your potatoes! This is the fun part. Lay your potatoes slice by slice to make a thin bed. Then sprinkle onions and black pepper on top of the layer. If your stock isn’t salted, add some salt. If you have parsley, go ahead and sprinkle also. Then lay on another layer of the thinly sliced potatoes, repeat onions + black pepper etc. Then another, then another until everything’s used up.

3 – Pour in your stock. Then throw flecks of butter on top. Or chunks, if you’re lazy like me. Ok here are some things that I learned from the 3 attempts:
: If you use cubes, make sure you add adequate water to the stock. My stock cube ratio is, 1 cube = 500ml water. In my 2nd attempt, I was overconfident and wasn’t thinking; I added 1 cube with about 250ml water. Smart right? (not). It was way too salty, had to throw everything away.
: I think for 4 potatoes, about 400ml stock should do it. This should produce a crispier top.

4 – Cover the top with foil. Toss it into the preheated oven. Turn knobs to: top+bottom heat, 180C, 40mins. Then go read a book or something. After 40mins, remove the foil and throw it away. Switch knobs to: top heat, 180C, 20mins.

Here’s what you SHOULDN’T do: Misread instructions. My eyes skipped over the part where it says to remove the foil at some point. Well, you learn from my mistake, yah? Here’s what it looks like after 60mins covered in foil:

Boulangère Potatoes - almost

Pretty lame, right? I was crestfallen, wondering why the heck it turned out like that when I did everything according to instructions! …. until AD pointed to me the part where it says, REMOVE FOIL. Yeah, skipped that one. So here’s what happened after I stuck it back to the oven, foil removed, grill setting, 20 mins:

Boulangère Potatoes - 2nd bake

A lot better. Looked a mess, I know. But at least now I know how it’s supposed to look + taste. And this was my 3rd (finally successful) attempt!

Boulangère Potatoes - 3rd try

Kah kah kah, I’m damn proud of it okay. Soft at the bottom, slightly hard at the top. Basic Boulangère potatoes, yay!

So the tips here: very thinly sliced potatoes, stock to cover 2/3 or 3/5 of the potatoes, read instructions properly.

Opus Bistro @ Bangsar + MilkADeal’s RM25 for yummylicious pasta with wine

Thanks to MilkADeal and Nuffnang, I was at Opus Bistro, Bangsar last week to sample some of their signature dishes. It was like an extravagant food tasting version of MilkADeal’s partnership with Opus Bistro this week, the RM25 instead of RM74 for a Main Pasta + Wine / Fruit Juice / Soft Drink.

As I do not own a canggih camera, forgive these dark, grainy photos. By the way, I’m open to any sponsorship of a Canon S95. Really one.

Anyway you can pretend that the photos were artistic in some really imaginary way. Whatever, I was trying to get as much as light as possible (we were in the private dining area where it was crazily cosy with nice ambiance but had inadequate lighting for my ciplak camera). Then we came to desserts and Kerol remembered that her HTC Desire has a powerful torchlight function. Such is life.

For starters we had arancini which was done quite nicely, and the seafood antipasti platter (RM45): grilled scallops and prawns, fresh clams in white wine sauce, calamari ripieni. Absolutely yum! Each morsel was equally excellent, my favourite was the calamari because I’m partial to them. Don’t really know how the chef does it but the texture of the squid was perfect.

Opus Bistro - seafood antipasti platter
Seafood antipasti platter

Next up: the pastas, yay! I love pastas.

Spaghetti alla Opus (RM36). Mixed seafood in tomato and white wine sauce. OH MAI GOD WAS THIS GOOD OR WHAT??? It was like witchery, I couldn’t stop from getting more of this delicious sauce. The pasta was cooked al dente, the dish just flavourful and the seafood fresh. Apparently this one put Opus Bistro on the map and it’s still one of their best-sellers. I can see why!

I’m actually going to buy a few of the MAD/Opus vouchers just to eat this on the cheap ;)

Opus Bistro - spaghetti alla opus
Spaghetti alla Opus

Linguine aglio olio with smoked duck (RM32). Light and simple, it’s one of the co-owners’ favourite dish. I don’t quite fancy smoked duck but I’ve to agree that it’s a hearty dish.

Opus Bistro - linguini aglio olio with smoked duck
Linguine aglio olio with smoked duck

Spinach Ravioli in gorgonzola sauce (RM36) with roasted pine nuts. Seems that both their ravioli options are vegetarian-friendly (if cheese is vegetarian?). If you like creamy stuff, you’d enjoy the rich creamy sauce but not in a jelak way. Gosh, you do have to be somewhat Malaysian to understand my blog, don’t you?

Opus Bistro - spinach ravioli in gorgonzola sauce
Spinach Ravioli in gorgonzola sauce

Other than pasta, we sampled their grilled lamb shank: very tender, juicy and meaty. And also Opus’ famous roasted cod with choice of white wine sauce or lemon caper sauce (RM58). Beautiful piece of cod, roasted so perfectly with a slightly charred outside. Pick it apart with a fork and the flaky meat comes tumbling after, so tender and almost melts in your mouth. Delicious. Take the white wine sauce, it goes better with the fish.

Opus Bistro - Roasted Cod with White Wine Sauce
I want to marry this cod

For desserts, we had tiramisu (RM16) and chocolate desire (RM20). The tiramisu had a bit of rum and it wasn’t too sweet, which was nice. The older I get, the less tolerant I am of really sweet stuff. Maybe I don’t deserve so much desserts any more :(

Opus Bistro - Tiramisu
Chef’s special tiramisu

Opus Bistro’s version of the chocolate molten cake was pretty good. Some nice almost-burnt crisp to the outside, the warm cake goes down well with the cold, creamy ice-cream. I just had a molten chocolate cake served cold to me last weekend elsewhere, so I can appreciate the quality that is served at Opus.

Opus Bistro - Molten chocolate cake
Chocolate desire, aka chocolate molten cake with ice cream

So having tried some pastas at Opus Bistro, I’d definitely recommend the MilkADeal deal. RM25 for any main pasta (except the ones with lobster and foie gras for obvious reasons), plus a glass of house pouring wine or fruit juice/ soft drink for the non-drinkers. The house wine was pretty solid also. I say go for the wine. Even if you don’t drink wine, pass your glass to your partner and pay for your own drink. Smart leh.

Do check the T&C on the MAD deal page here. Only thing I’m a bit sien is the maximum of 4 redemptions per reservation. There goes my planned big family gathering all eating cheap pastas at Opus, heh ;)

Other than that, it’s a pretty good deal. If you’ve not been to Opus Bistro (or any of its sister outlets on Bangkung Row), it’s a good chance to try out the food there. Go get your awesome deals at MAD!

Opus Bistro
67, Jalan Bangkung, Bukit Bandaraya,
59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +603-2092 4088
URL: http://www.opusbistro.my