Sunday, December 28, 2014

Food Visit: Foong Foong Restaurant, Ampang New Village

In reference to the post titled "Christmas Eve Journey", this is a summarized visit of our late lunch of Yong Tau Foo in Ampang New Village.

You may wonder, what's the fuss about this traditional Hakka dish until diners are willing to drive far and wide for THE experience here when they are able to sample it without the travel? It lies with the authentic flavor that most Malaysians believe co-exists with the village; if you've not tasted Yong Tau Foo until you've eaten it in New Village. The dish is supposedly to have originated here from way back when.

We even spotted Kedah-registered and Singapore-registered vehicles leaving the restaurant grounds after the travelers satiated their cravings.

I've had the opportunity to sample the one in my little district and compare the experience with the one garnered here. The former lacked the explosive flavors that the cuisine is known for; it tasted like it was not made-to-order and instead commercially produced in bulk, but enough of my ramblings.

Let's move on to the topic.

Before I continue, I'll have to warn you, my readers, that the restaurant may not be impressive like the newer ones in the city with air-conditioners and television to entertain the bored diners. The owners would rather have their dishes known for its beauty and flavor than the place itself and judging from the immense crowd from our previous visits, the patrons don't seem to mind that it lacked decorations.

If you're uncomfortable with the heat and don't wish to be subjected to a long period of waiting (for seats and the food), I'd suggest to head to Foong Foong after the lunch hour crowds - at around 2pm. Don't forget to ask someone who's fluent in Mandarin or Cantonese to come along with you - to prevent any language barriers.

I'm sure most of you are aware that whenever I speak Mandarin, it has the Caucasian drawl to it. When Mama Carrie nudged me to place the order for the fried wanton, I eventually surrendered and spoke to the young chap in English (even though it's obvious he's more comfortable in the aforementioned languages).

Unlike other restaurants where someone will hover to your table and receive your food and drink orders, Foong Foong works on a different method. The only person who will come to your table is to take your drinks - or in the odd moments, the guy selling lottery tickets (give it a go; who knows if you're lucky to strike something?) You'd have to place your order at the cashier with your table number and the desired portion instead. If you're unsure, feel free to ask the young chap manning the place for his recommendations and suggestions according to the number of diners.

If you hear the occasional conversations from the microphones in the background, fret not, for it is the shop's way of communicating the orders between the cashier and the kitchen.

Mixed Yong Tau Foo - 15 pieces (RM 1 each) consists of stuffed bitter gourd, fish ball, soft tofu, fried tofu skin, stuffed ladies finger (or okra), stuffed chili, stuffed brinjal [Southeast Asian English, eggplant in American English and aubergine in British English]

The moment when the plate arrived at the table, I kept looking at it, especially the bitter gourd, instead of sharing the portion with Mama Carrie. I have no idea why, but I always found the bitter gourd overcooked and under-seasoned, almost knocking me off with the distinctive bitterness. The brinjal, however, was sitting comfortably at the other end of the spectrum. It was done to perfection and for someone who once hated this vegetable, the aromatic flavors convinced me to sample this vegetable cooked in other styles.

 The fish balls were soft and chewy; it tasted fresh from the kitchen.

Fried Wanton - 4 pieces (RM 1 each)

A mixture of pork and fish paste is stuffed into the wantons as the fillings before being dipped and fried in oil. You can hear the crunch as you sink your face into it, allowing the oil to seep into your pores. The paste does contain a piquancy that fortunately does not overwhelm the taste buds with the sodium chloride (if you're the regular foodie that Papa Carrie once was) or leave your tongue numb, but we found ourselves constantly reaching out to the hot glass of Chinese tea after every couple of bites to drench the thirst.

Hmmm, did someone slip in a tad bit more salt without the person's knowledge?

With that being said, there is no aftertaste of oil on the palate - unlike certain deep-fried dishes where you feel like you've ingested a gallon of oil.

We'll definitely return for a final round of Ampang Yong Tau Foo before my flight departure. I doubt I'll be able to find something as authentic as this over there or in my little district. If/when we do, you have my word that I'll pen a longer review of Foong Foong.

Yes, I'm aware that my verbal directions may be much clearer than the drawn one. I was drawing the map off-memory as we almost lost our way there as well.

Brief instructions:
  • If you are coming from Jalan Ampang, keep driving straight all the way and up the flyover.
  • Ampang Point will be on your left as you continue on.
  • Keep straight and don't make any turns until you see the police quarters in the far distance.
  • The shortcut leading to Foong Foong is a sharp turn after the police quarters; keep an eye out for cars signaling their intentions to turn into a small alley - if you are lucky, you will see them.
  • Drive through that little alley and take the second left lane and immediately turn right. The restaurant will be on your left.

Or, you could easily ask any shop with Chinese employees for directions.

You can find available parking spots anywhere around the restaurant, but DO NOT PARK on Foong Foong grounds. The parking attendants will demand that you pay the stipulated parking fee, even though it is not required and the bays away from Foong Foong are free.

Foong Foong Restaurant,
621A, Jalan Besar Ampang
Kampung Baru Ampang,
68000 Ampang, Kuala Lumpur

Phone: +6012 209 5529

Business Hours: Wednesday to Monday: 9pm to 4pm

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pasta Zanmai, Sunway Pyramid (Third Visit)

I was supposed to meet with Kar Wyai for brunch somewhere else but Mama Carrie ruined everything when she said that she needed me around to settle some last-minute errands in Sunway Pyramid... and so, that's where we headed instead.

Needing to catch lunch and feeling slightly lazy to eat the homemade cakes (yes, Ciana is a wannabe baker at home) or whip up okonomiyaki, we patronized Pasta Zanmai again, hoping to catch the familiar dishes but seeing that the menu has been slightly altered, we decided to take a gamble.

You may want to read about my first visit here and second visit in Empire as well.

Ice Fruit Tea - Glass (RM 8.90) is a combination of fruits: strawberry, green + yellow kiwi, orange slice, mango, watermelon, lemon

I knew that this was the condiment that I wanted to order when we entered Pasta Zanmai, partly because Iced Fruit Tea was the one that cemented my memories with friends in this branch and the one in Empire Gallery. With each sip evokes a scene; it was like watching those happier days being replayed before me.

Unfortunately, even with no added sugar, it was still perceived as sweet as if it was pre-prepared and doused in peach flavor. It was not infused by the homogenous combination of fruits; that will contain a unique twinge instead. On a positive note, the mind appreciated the idea of downing something refreshing that soothed the soul with something as healthy as this, with the Vitamin C being blended in the cold liquid. For a voracious diner like myself, the elements were impeccable as a snack to nibble on while waiting for the main course.

I didn't originally intend to order this dish as I was perusing the menu back and forth for something else. Mama Carrie suggested that we decide on this because she's aware that I'm capable of eating beef (even with the distinctive flavorsome fragrance) and wanted to share the portion with me; the starving me didn't give much thought and went ahead.

Hayashi Gyusuji Garlic Omu Rice - Set (RM 29.00); Ala-Carte (RM 26.00) contains mushroom, broccoli, omelet and rice

Tilting my head back and forth, the presentation of the dish kept banging in my head as if to remind me of something that I've seen or tasted sometime ago. The first glance had faint traces of a local Thai-influenced dish called Nasi Pattaya, which was exactly what I had years ago somewhere downtown.

We harbored a sneaking suspicion that the bite-sized pieces of beef was stewed until well done, instead of the rare or medium rare that people will request in Western restaurants; it may have been chewy but not rubbery in texture like it has been overdone. I really love how the gravy merely compliments this main element, which allows it to shine through its individuality without the diner being overwhelmed by the sudden twist of taste; that twang coats the palate with a meaty taste yet it doesn't leave you thirsty.

The broccoli was coated in the thick gravy as it slept comfortably on the dressing. The pepper-infused rice was wrapped in an egg-shaped cave and protected from the curry sauce, allowing the idiosyncratic aroma to be sealed. It is a good infuser for something neutral like the rice whereas the shimeji mushrooms were done to perfection; the natural sweetness seeping into the taste buds with ease. I barely touched the gravy aside because it looked starchy and oily.

Mama Carrie would've preferred if there was an option of serving it spicy with chili sauce and pepper to masquerade the tang but overall, she is comfortable with the preparation and texture, hinting that she doesn't mind sampling this again.

Unagi Avocado Tortilla Roll (RM 20.00, 6 pieces)

It consists of lettuce, a cucumber slice, a slice of tamagoyaki (= Japanese rolled omelet), avocado + unagi slices, fish roe and a splash of onions, drizzled with mayonnaise and shoyu (= Japanese soy sauce).

This was ordered on impulse and as a backing; in the event Mama Carrie prefers something light instead of a dessert to end the meal, this roll will be a good substitute.

The star of this dish is the unagi, which is a Japanese freshwater eel, and accentuated with a spoonful of avocado slices. Forming the adhesive to bind the contents with the tortilla dough is a thick, flattened blob of mayonnaise. The first bite launches a sweet base in your palate and unfortunately overpowers the neutrality of the lettuce leaves and the tamagoyaki, leaving an aftertaste you can't quite identify. Consequent crunches however strive to counterbalance that feeling, contrasting the sudden burst of the shoyu's piquancy with the faint hints of sacchariferous splash of more mayonnaise. With that being said, the lettuce leaves, if deconstructed and eaten individually, furnishes and stimulates the palate like a breath of fresh air. It is prominent as one element in the preparation process and it feels more like a salad if consumed in this manner - or at least to me.

I personally favor this roll over the aforementioned one as it is light on the digestive system and does not weigh the taste buds with the compelling touch of an overwhelming element, yet it fulfills a famished soul with ease.

It is recycled from Facebook, and only because I forgot to take a picture of the exterior before I left

Address: F1.73, Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall,
3, Jln PJS 11/15, Bandar Sunway,
46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Telephone: 03-7492 0710

Landmarks: Find Shojikiya, and you'll find Pasta Zanmai. Other neighbors include the Orange Zone entrance into Jusco and the New Wing entrance into Asian Avenue - all on the 1st floor.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mr. Siew Bao, Sunway Pyramid (Second Visit)

Although I initially intended to utilize the Worthy Book voucher that has been in my possession for a couple of snacks in Mr. Siew Bao, Empire Gallery, it wasn't until Mama Carrie needed to settle the telecommunication matters with urgency that I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

There is a wide variety of Chinese snacks being sold including egg tarts, the Teochew wedding biscuits, egg rolls, winter melon biscuits and more that I can't remember.

I'll have to admit that I was purchasing the items with a sense of apprehension; my previous experience with the siew bao wasn't too perfect and I really hoped that it'd not occur, but much of my dismay, it transpired again.

Siew Bao

I'm sorry to say that Mama Carrie and I both felt like we were ingested pure, coarse salt. I understand that this is for preservation purposes as the spokesman did assure us way back when that no chemicals were added into the patisserie but it was in excess.

It didn't explode with the flavors of a freshly baked item either. It leaned towards staleness instead as if the paste had been prepared a day or two in advance, but it was still edible.

When I first tasted this dish during its days of infancy, it was heaven and contained less oil and sodium chloride but after such a long period of hiatus, the quality has dipped tremendously with the extra addition of oil and sodium chloride, which is such a pity as Mr. Siew Bao has a lengthy history behind the name.

I really hope that this is an isolated incident because it'll be such a waste to see my favorite brand losing specialty.

Address: Mr. Siew Bao,

F1.K1, Sunway Pyramid
No. 3, Jalan PJS 11/15, Bandar Sunway,
46150 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan.

Landmark: It's a mere booth away from Maxis on the 1st floor of the new wing.

For more information on Worthy Book, you can peruse the following links... or even purchase a booklet for yourself to use?


FnB Edition is available at all major bookstores (MPH, Popular, Times, Borders, Kinokuniya) and selected outlets in KL and Selangor.

The Christmas Eve Journey

As Mama Carrie needed to drive down to Ampang Point for her costume jewelry, we figured that we'd be able to kill three birds with one stone if we combined with our other plans.

Spelt ciabatta with café latte

We drove down to the usual haunt in Jalan Ampang to avoid the lunch hour crowd in the little but popular restaurant in Ampang New Village and sampled the spelt ciabatta with the cafe latte.

PETRONAS Twin Towers

For our late lunch, it was yong tau foo in Ampang New Village. I'll write a short review on it in a while; have too many reviews that need to be published currently.

Fried wanton

After finding ourselves sandwiched and stuck in traffic congestion, it was a rush preparing the Christmas Eve dinner as we decided at the eleventh hour to attend the Vigil Mass instead to accommodate this morning's hill walk. Yes, no break even on a holiday!

It's quiche using leftover ingredients of spinach, mushroom and eggs.

[We Wish You] A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I am extremely spent after spending 4 hours attending the Christmas Eve Vigil; allow me to sleep the exhaustion off (in just a while) and I shall be back to pen a detailed post (or two, depending if the caffeine I will consume in the morning will keep me floating awake).

Oh, and Merry Christmas to all of my readers and may the new year embark on an exhilarating and brighter note!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Oiso Korean Traditional Cuisine and Café

It was never planned this way, but I presume that when the stars collide, surprises will occur instead.

Mama Carrie and I were happily shopping for a Christmas makeover when the caricature of someone familiar standing at the side of Oiso Korean Traditional Restaurant and Café burned itself in my brain, pleading for a sense of recognition. After throwing the image back and forth in my psyche, I finally remembered who she was: it was Mama Carrie's Korean client, Mr. Jung, who is now the current co-owner of Oiso with his wife, Ms. Vanessa. After the obligatory greetings and small chat, he invited us into the restaurant to sample their dishes... and yours truly being yours truly, the opportunity to write a food review was as bright as the glimpse of a diamond.

According to Jung, Vanessa and he were frequent patrons of this restaurant at a time when it was previously owned by a Korean lady as their son loves the authenticity of the food. The previous owner met with some struggles and the stress of managing a chain of restaurants (including the branch in Cheras and Bangsar South), choosing to sell the business to them and retaining all of the kitchen employees including the chef and waiters.

The moment you step in and comfortably settle into your seat, the retail lot radiates the feel of a Korean home, welcoming you with open arms. The tidbits are sold at one corner of the restaurant behind the cashier while the Korean ornaments are displayed in a built-in wooden shelf at the back of the restaurant, never failing to attract the attention of curious diners. In the middle of the restaurant lies a life-sized tree with curving branches and acting as a divider between the two double sided seat sofas is a row of potted greenery; some with flowers, some mere plants.

It may be a little retail outlet hidden from public view but the restaurant can be sardine-packed with employees from the neighboring offices such as Nestle, hungry for something so satiating that they can survive the remaining working hours without the need to reach out for finger food. What I like about Oiso is that it harbors a complacent snug that resembles a well-behaved bug in a rug - or at least during our visit. It actually allowed us to enjoy the dishes that we ordered and savor each bite/spoonful in a relaxed manner. I'm a sensitive diner, so when the distractions in the restaurants grow louder with the inclusion of loud chatters, I tend to desire to finish my portion faster than normal and bolt from the place after payment soonest possible.

Seating space here, unfortunately, is rather limited; you can find yourself queuing for a vacant table during the peak lunch hour.

The items for a decorative display

Kimchi Soup Noodle (Cold Noodle) (RM 13.90) consists of enoki mushroom, sliced cucumbers, seaweed flakes, sliced egg yolk and white, kim chi, noodles

To be honest, I was more than apprehensive when I perused the menu as I've never tasted more than half of the dishes printed on the booklet and certainly didn't want to ruin the dining experience by ordering an item that I'm not comfortable with. Sensing my hesitation, Mr. Jung recommended that I order the Kim Chi Soup Noodle as it's a summer dish and a hot favorite among diners.

My jaw was gaping wide when the waiter delivered the dish as the portion was enormous. Although the stock was ice-cold, it contained a rejuvenating twist that soothed and satiated the thirst. The cucumber slices were a refreshing contrast to the kim chi, the cool comfort seeping into the soap and balancing the spicy flavor produced. The seaweed flakes provided a soft twinge of salt, not sweetening the Kim Chi Soup Noodle or making it saltier either. The aftertaste was in the middle of the food spectrum. The mushroom however leaned towards being uncooked. I was crammed with the lavish amount of condiments, especially the soup that satiated the hunger with ease.

If you're not famished, I'd recommend you to share this dish with a fellow food companion.

[Seafood] Bibimbap (RM 15.90) contains carrots, mushrooms, purple + white cabbage, cucumber, seaweed flakes, rice, baby octopus and baby squid

It is extremely common to associate bibimbap with Korean cuisine due to its popularity worldwide, but to find authentic ones can be like finding a needle in a haystack. It is a historical dish, originating from the city of Jeonju in the 19th century as a way of harmoniously blending the ingredients into one dish before seasoning it with only chili pepper paste and, on rare occasions, a salty soybean paste to even out the tang. Bibimbap is kind of similar to Chinese mixed rice, or more commonly known as chap fan in Cantonese.

Mama Carrie adores this dish so much that she practically finished 3/4 of the portion in the silence, leaving only 1/4 for me to sample. She felt that not only was there a generous amount of elements that left a lingering but satisfying zest to the palate, it contained traces of a Korean mother's traditional cooking.

She added that the flavors of each ingredient didn't attempt to override each other or compete to stand out, retaining its distinctive attraction instead. The sliced mushroom was blanched, omitting the use of salted water whereas the small squids were chewy but not rubbery. The carrots, on the other hand, were extremely juicy and produced the natural glucose that it is known for.

Chopped Spinach and Carrot Slices

Kim Chi: fermented cabbage with pear slices and rich in vitamins A and C but high in sodium

Chili Sauce

Korean Miso with Seaweed

The bibimbap was flavorsome and nutritious yet healthy with no MSG being added to heighten the flavor. It exposed her taste buds to a variety of aroma - with the aftertaste lifting you to culinary haven.

We desire to return for a second serving in the future as she has fallen in love with this dish. She believes that this is the best one so far as our first try was at Food Republic Pavilion KL and the second was in Westfield Carousel's food court, Cannington, WA.

Korean Green Tea + Korean Organic Brown Tea

Korean Green Tea (RM 2.90) has a mellow scent to it and does not overpower the olfactory system either. Unlike certain types of tea, this drink is instead soft on the palate and digestive system.

The flavor does not subside, be it served hot or cold.

Korean Organic Brown Tea (RM 1.90), on the contrary, has an immense roasted flavor that surprisingly glides down the throat with ease, not leaving an awkward aftertaste on the palate.

The aroma evokes the afterthought of brown rice tea.

Special Promotion: For diners who quote the code OISO10, they will receive a 10% discount off their total bill.

Name: Oiso Korean Traditional Cuisine and Café,
Lot LG19 and 20, Lower Ground Floor,
IPC Shopping Centre,
No.2, Jalan PJU 7/2,
Mutiara Damansara,
47800 Petaling Jaya,

Landmark: It is directly opposite Pos Malaysia.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Quick Update

Since it's a couple of days until Christmas, I am taking a necessary breather to clear some misery and suffocation that arose after graduation (between dealing with this and that, it's not surprising that I am struggling to resist the temptation to cave in).

Satiated the suppressed cravings for chee cheong fun somewhere in Kota Kemuning

An abstract piece of art

Listened to an old friend; the first and last he visited was a year ago

Hopped for Christmas (hence the relevant post, "Christmas Hoppers in [inserts shopping mall's name]")

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Hoppers in IPC and The Curve

As you may have already noticed, half of my weekends are spent hanging out and running errands in a particular haunt or on those rare occasions, the neighboring buildings. Since it was considered a holiday in the valley-sized state, we loitered at the area even longer, gasping in display of Christmas ornaments at the concourse.

IPC chose to incorporate the Swede Christmas Tales, magically breathing life to the story characters and taking a tangent this year.

A showcase of Taiwanese-made wooden musical box by Living Cabin.


Tomte with Hedgehod


Red Squirrel

Yule Goat



The moment when I saw these, I remembered a particular scene from Dora the Explorer when a sneaky, orange-furred fox (christened as Swiper the Fox) would appear from behind and attempt to steal things from her. She'd have to repeat "Swiper, no swiping" thrice before he made his move to successfully shoo him off.

Wolf and Fox

"Hope you had fun touring our area and listen to our individual stories," says the animals in unison.

As if there wasn't enough Christmas air in IPC, we hovered over to The Curve, confidently knowing that the mall's decoration will never fail to disappoint the shoppers. A sense of exhilaration and suspense filled the cells when I entered the building from the 1st floor retail lots and so was Mama Carrie; we whipped out our cell phones and while she focused on the screen, I randomly captured the photographs.

It was Santa's private residence being opened for public viewing. The management has definitely succeeded in emulating his fictional dwelling. Although his loyal servants and trustworthy snowman were within sight from eye-level, Santa himself was sitting on the roof, basking in the comfort. The picture that I took of him on the cell phone was blurry and later deemed unsuitable.

Some of the items, such as the snowflakes floating from the dome of the shopping mall and the hanging Christmas lights, are recurrent; it was first used some years ago but in a different style.

Welcome to Santa Claus's house

Santa's trusty snowman

Santa's living hall, where he reads all the letters from hopeful children and sometimes adults worldwide

Santa's faithful reindeers waiting to embark on the exhilarating journey of giving

"Oh, hello," says the reindeer. "Didn't see you coming there."

The overall aura of Santa's house

More pictures of IPC and the Curve's adornments can be found here - on The Tempremental's Facebook page.
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