Food Bloggers Meet Up @ Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam, Kensington VIC

(Photo: Three layered "Teh C Peng" just as good as I remembered it to be back in Malaysia!)

Friday, 25th March 2011 - Rebecca from Chow and Chatter (and hubby & daughter, little J) travelled all the way to Australia for a holiday, so how can we not meet up with her? I have been following her blog for a while now, and she has always been passionate about what she does. Along with Penny aka Jeroxie (and her boy), Suresh from 3 hungry tummies, I-Hua from Chronicles of Ms I-Hua, Thanh Do from I Eat Therefore I Am and Kenneth aka @eMeow33 - we all had a fantastic get together last night at Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam in Kensington.

 (Photo: "Keropok" aka Malaysian Prawn Crackers)

Rebecca wanted to try some Malaysian food, so Penny recommended Chillipadi Mamak as it's one of her personal favorites plus the location is pretty central for most of us and easy for us to get to. I must admit, this was my first time meeting up with other food bloggers so I was a bit nervous yet very excited to finally be able to put a face to each name.

Not surprisingly, we all instantly hit it off and got along so well as if we weren't strangers at all! It was actually quite an incredible experience, I felt like I already knew all these people. Of course, we all had one thing in common - our love for food. Food brought us all together! Amen. Hehe.

(Photo: "Char Kuay Teow" aka Malaysian Stirfried Flat Rice Noodles)

Speaking of food, it didn't take too long before our dishes were served up. I must thank Chillipadi Mamak for accommodating us so well and letting us cause havoc in our little corner (we were very noisy). We left it to the restaurant to decide what dishes we should try, so we pretty much tried a bit of everything! Let me tell you now, if you ever want to have a lot of variety in your meal, go out to dinner with a big group of foodies - it could get a bit out of control, lol. I was too busy talking and taking photos I don't think I even got to try the Char Kuay Teow! Booo... hehe.

(Photo: Malaysian Chicken Curry and Beef Rendang in the background)

And then more and more dishes came out and I started to actually forget that I was in Australia. That's a good thing, right? I was surrounded by talkative Asians and I was eating authentic Malaysian food and even the plates were the "mamak" aka kopitiam styled plates.. it was so much fun!!

(Photo: Roti Canai)

The chicken curry paired with the roti is a classic favorite amongst Malaysians in general so I was more than happy to dig in. Loved the roti! It was so delicious and there wasn't enough so we had to order another one - haha so "tham chiak". A few other Hokkien words were mentioned throughout the night, my dad would be so proud, hahahaa!

(Photo: Beef Rendang)

I-Hua and I needed to remind Thanh the correct way of pronouncing "Beef Rendang" - please la Thanh okay.. it's Beef RendAAng not Beef RendEng :p

(Photo: Soft Shell Crab)

The soft shell crab was yummyy.. but I got so frustrated at taking photos for this dish because it was so RED! I think photo editing solved the problem just a little bit. I love the sweet and spicy flavors in this dish and the crunchiness of the crabs - but of course by the time I finally got to it, the crabs got a little bit soggy because I spent way too much time talking and snapping photos. Tsk tsk.

(Photo: Oyster Omelette aka "O Chien")

The poor O Chien was being passed around because somehow it was a bit too chewy. It needed to be like my favorite O Chien in Kuching! Check out this post here: Kuching Food Adventures Part 1 and scroll down to where the O Chien is right next to my Kuching version of Teh C Peng..

(Photo: Chicken Curry Laksa)

By this stage, I-Hua and I actually had to get up and go to the other side of the table to take photos because Penny has given up on passing us the dishes, lol! Nahh... we were just running out of space down our end of the table because we were hogging them all for our photos. Did I mention our group was noisy?

PS please bear in mind that I'm not really trying to review the food - just wanted to show off our eats for the sake of our overseas blog readers who are curious to know what's going on!!

(Photo: "Prawn Mee" aka Prawn Noodles cooked with Belacan aka Shrimp Paste)

Woahh this soup had A LOT of belacan flavor! I like... although by this stage, we were actually getting quite full and some were even already starting to get sleepy, hehe.

(Photo: Char Hor Fun)

But we are nowhere near done! The Char Hor Fun came out for the sake of little Jasmine who can't handle spicy food. I loveeee this dish! Look at it! Doesn't it make your mouth water?? Gosh, I'm getting hungry just blogging about last night. Why do I do this to myself? Why?!

This blog entry is slowly dragging itself so I am gonna fast forward through the food images OK?

(Photo: "Ayam Percik" it is a Spicy Malaysian Chicken dish)

(Photo: Assam Fish Curry one of my all-time favorites!!)

(Photo: Ais Kacang - a Malaysian ice dessert with red bean, sweet corn, grass jelly, evaporated milk)

(Photo: Cendol - another similar Malaysian ice dessert)

(Photo: Bubur Hitam - a warm black glutinuous rice pudding with coconut milk & ice cream)

(Photo: The damage and the devouring of food in progress...)

(Photo: One for the album - a group photo!)

 If you look closely, I've actually had to combine two separate photos together as our "paparazzi" Li from Chillipadi somehow managed to cut off one person in each photo, haha. It's all good though! What a great shot :)

Thank you so much everyone for a wonderful night - let's do it again sometime!

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam on Urbanspoon

Ayam Masak Kicap

This dish made me cry. Not because of its simplicity, but because it brought back so many childhood memories. I miss my parents back home in Malaysia. This dish was one of our staple chicken dishes that we would have at home all the time. It was probably one of the first dishes my dad ever taught our house maid to cook for us kids back in the days. It is wholesome, and so delicious, and satisfying, and this is my version of "Ayam Masak Kicap" aka Soy Cooked Chicken with a very slight twist in serving suggestion.

My dad would probably never serve it with avocado and spring onions, lol. His way of cooking it doesn't even have sesame seeds, although he did say it was an excellent idea for me to add sesame seeds. For him, this dish doesn't even qualify as a "recipe" - it is almost too simple. Back home, we would serve it with rice and maybe some stirfried veggies. However, I kept it really simple tonight and dinner was ready in 20 minutes. See, you can never be too busy to cook :)

AYAM MASAK KICAP aka Soy Cooked Chicken

2 tbsp olive oil
600g chicken pieces
5 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 stalk spring onions, chopped
1 avocado

Heat oil in wok and cook chicken until just browning, this should take approx. 5-7 minutes. Add dark soy sauce, sugar and white pepper. Cook on medium low heat for approx. 8 minutes or until the sauce thickens and starts to simmer. Add sesame seeds. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve chicken on a bed of steamed white rice with some avocado and spring onions. Pour sauce all over the rice and serve immediately.

Santorini, Hawthorn via

As a continuation to my previous post on How Much Value for Money Are You Really Getting From Group Buying Sites, here is my next restaurant review based on this series.

Deal details:
Greek gastronomy at its best! Just $50 for a divine dining experience for two inc choice of meat or seafood platter and a bottle of wine at Santorini Hawthorn, normally $118.

What you get:
• Choice of meat or seafood platter for two
• Pikilia - antipasto of dips with grilled vegetables
• Saganaki - aged goats cheese
• Bottle of red or white house wine (worth $20)
• Fabulous traditional Greek food with a modern touch
• The perfect place to impress a date!

The Verdict:
Hubby and I went to Santorini with 2 other couples so between the 6 of us, we had 3 vouchers to spend! First impression was actually not bad, Santorini is a decent Greek restaurant with a lovely cosy interior and warm atmosphere. We were greeted by a lovely (and cute) waiter and the staff were quite friendly and we were rather happy with the service we received. Unfortunately, not all Group Buying Deals participating restaurants remember to "be nice" to these customers despite the fact that they're paying for an overly discounted meal. Restaurants need to keep in mind that if we like our first time here, we are more likely to come back - or tell other people about it like what I'm doing now! So I must start by saying WELL DONE to the staff at Santorini for not being such "snobs", hehe.

For starters, we had the "Pikilia" an antipasto of dips, tzatziki, htipiti, eggplant, caviar with grilled vegetables served with bread. We had two of the above platters, they just decided to give us 2 bigger plates rather than the usual 3 normal sized plates for the deal. It was quite filling, and the dips were a good variety to go with the bread.

Also served as starters was the "Saganaki" aged goat's cheese that has been lightly grilled. Grilled cheese! Was super rich and again, very filling it's almost as if they want to make sure we're already full even before our mains came out!

Between the 3 couples, 2 decided to have the Meat Platter and 1 couple decided to stick to the Seafood Platter. When the Meat Platter arrived, we had to double check and make sure it was for 4 people, and not 2! Thankfully yes it was... and even between the 4 of us we struggled to finish the platter. Sooo much meat! And we didn't even try to eat the potatoes, haha. The meat was delicious! A selection of Gyros, Souvlaki, Biftekia, Chicken Skewers and Lamb Cutlets.

The seafood platter was a healthy selection of mussels, oysters, pipi, grilled fish, prawns, calamari and whitebait. Looks delicious actually! It was good to go with other people because then you can sort of share the meat and seafood around the table. It would've been an extremely hard decision to ONLY choose either meat / seafood.

Oh, and not forgetting the fact that we had 3 bottles of wine that night... plenty of laughs by the end of the night. It was a good night :)

 So two thumbs up! I am officially SOLD on the Group Buying Sites and their restaurant deals, just don't be afraid to be slightly picky and only go for the deals that would be worth your money. Pick a good location, and buy multiple vouchers so you can share a good meal and have a fun night with friends. I usually find if it's just two people, you tend to feel slightly ripped off. With more people, there's more food on the table and you also tend to spend the extra bit of money on something not included in the deal aka dessert (and that's when the restaurant actually starts making some money off you). Either that, or you be really picky and only purchase group buying deals that include desserts OR sometimes you can buy a $50 voucher and order ANYTHING on the menu up to the value of $120. That's also a good deal because then you can order whatever you drink you like, choose your entree, your main and your dessert!

 Now I'm off to check out today's deals and see what else I can score... lol.

Guest Post: Fish Bone Soup Rice by Quay Po Cooks

Veronica from Quay Po Cooks is probably no stranger to most of you! Being a Chinese Malaysian myself, I find visiting her blog an absolute "torture".. in a good way! Her dishes bring back lots of childhood memories for me, and her food photos are so vivid I literally drool at my computer whenever I go on her blog. Therefore, I am so excited and honored that Veron has decided to take the time to submit a Guest Post for my humble blog. Check out her blog post below and don't forget to visit her blog!

Fish Bone Soup Rice

The first time I had this dish is at the Crystal Jade Chinese Restaurant at The Gardens, Kuala Lumpur. My friend ordered this soup and we all loved it. It was so delicious and since then I have so wanted to taste it again.  I decided to make it with fish bone that was left from making the otak-otak.  I have no clue what ingredients are in the recipe.  I just guess them from the taste I remember.  To my surprise, it turned out to be very close to what was served by Crystal Jade.  I am really pleased and feel very excited to share this recipe with you.  I said to myself quietly, “Quaypo, you are so clever!”  You know what? It is alright to give yourself a pat on the shoulder and not be shy about it.  I just did! LOL!

1 whole fish bone from a medium size "Senangin" fish
½ cup milk
Enough water to cover the fish bones and 1 in over
Bullion fish stock to taste (1 – 2 cubes)
2 tsp Chinese cooking wine
1/4 cup dried scallops (washed, soaked in warm water for 15 mins)
2 pcs dried shitake mushroom (washed, soaked in warm water for 15 mins)
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped spring onions
1 inch spring ginger, thinly sliced
1 tsp white pepper corn (pound slightly)
2 cups of cooked soft white rice
1 tbs cooking oil
Salt to taste

Wash and soak dried scallops and warm water in 2 separate bowls in warm water for 15 mins. Squeeze dry the mushrooms, slice them thinly and set aside. In a deep soup pot (pot A), add oil and sauté ginger until fragrant. Add sliced mushroom and stirfry for 1 min. Set aside. 

Fry the fish bones in a wok till golden brown, drain oil and set aside. 

In another soup pot (pot B), add fried fish bones, water, fish stock, white pepper corns and bring to boil. Lower heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.  Sieve the soup into pot A.  Add cooked white rice and scallop together with its water and bring to boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 20 mins or till scallop is soft. Add milk and Chinese cooking wine and simmer for another 5 mins. Lastly, add salt to taste. Mix well. Garnish with cilantro and spring onions and serve hot.

Easy Ambrosia Dessert Recipe

Don't you just love going to dinner parties, and then your host serves up something really amazing and then you ask about it, and you end up learning that it is actually quite easy and simple to whip up? This has happened to me several times. I end up "pinching" someone else's recipe, which was originally someone else's recipe / idea anyway, and by me pinching the recipe I end up passing it on to someone else who comes to my dinner party, and then they end up passing it on to other people!

This recipe is no exception. It is a "family recipe" for a friend of ours whom we have recently had dinner with at their place over the weekend. The beauty of this Ambrosia dessert is that you can do whatever you want with it! I googled "Ambrosia" and discovered that in some parts of the world, this dessert is actually a salad! Very interesting... and the best part of this dessert, it is SO easy to make but presents so beautifully with just a little bit of effort. A teeny tiny bit of effort. Trust me, you will WOW your dinner guests until they realise how simple it is and then they will want to pinch this idea off you, or off me, or off my friends, or off my friends' friends... lol. You get what I mean!

300ml thickened cream
400ml berry yoghurt (any fruity flavor you like!)
Half a bag of marshmallows
1 cup seedless green grapes (choose the smaller ones)
1 cup strawberries, chopped into little cubes

Note: Other than grapes and strawberries, feel free to use any fruit you like! Chopped pineapples, cherries, kiwi fruit, raspberries, etc etc.

Using an electric mixer, whip cream until it is fluffy and soft peaks are formed. Gently fold in the yoghurt and marshmallows and fruit.

Preferably, refrigerate overnight so the marshmallows have time to soften in mixture.

Serve in bowls or cups decorated with a Kit Kat and freshly cut strawberries on top. Feel free to also use a bit of chocolate topping!

So I served that dessert at lunch today when our parents in law came over. Today's Labour Day Public Holiday in Victoria so we had the day off. It was a nice day off too! Lunch only took me an hour to prepare - I went to Coles very quickly to pick up a roast chicken, and then just presented it beautifully on a platter with salad all around it. We also had a quiche, some pasta salad, some bread rolls and semi dried tomatoes with feta cheese. It was quite a feast for a Monday lunch, lol. But it was a day off, so it was a bit special. Speaking of day off, it is STILL our day off so I'm off to enjoy it! :)

Salmon and Squid Pasta with Creamy Chilli, Garlic, Lemon and Parsley Sauce

I hate trying to name my own dish! If I keep it too simple and generic, people may not be curious enough to find out what flavours are actually in it. If I be too specific, it just becomes a mouthful. Today's casual Saturday lunch (now that hubby's back home the word "casual" actually means "slightly fancy", lol) took me forever to decide what I should name it. Technically, it's just a Creamy Seafood Pasta dish. BUT it's got salmon in it! How can I not mention the salmon. The salmon itself contributes 70% of its overall flavour to this dish. Oh, and it's got Chilli so it's a bit spicy... not just your typical creamy flavour. And what if people start asking "what are those herbs?" well they are little green parsley flakes and yes, there's also GARLIC in there which usually appeals to most people straightaway, just the mention of garlic. It's a magic culinary word. Garlic. Aaahhhh... such a flavour enhancer, I use garlic in most of my dishes.

So I've finally decided to name the dish what it is - I like being generally specific :)

Salmon and Squid Pasta with Creamy Chilli, Garlic, Lemon and Parsley Sauce

3 cups of penne pasta, boiled in salted water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 salmon fillet
125g fresh / frozen squid rings
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp hot chilli paste
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 tbsp lemon juice
300ml thickened cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pecan nuts, crushed and lightly toasted for garnish
Extra parsley flakes for garnish
Grated parmesan cheese for garnish

In a large pan, heat olive oil and cook salmon fillet, squid rings, garlic and hot chilli paste. Break off the salmon fillet as you cook into small chunks. Cook for approx. 5 minutes until seafood is cooked and garlic is fragrant.

Add thickened cream, sweet chilli sauce, lemon juice and parsley flakes. Season well with salt and pepper. Simmer for approx. 7-8 minutes on medium heat.

Toss cooked pasta into creamy mixture and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with toasted pecan nuts, extra parsley flakes and grated parmesan cheese.

Scoopon's Pay $40 for $110 worth of food and cocktails @ Appetizer Thai

I went out on a Girl's Night last night with a couple of girls and decided to use the recent Scoopon purchase - I paid $40 for the voucher, which entitled us to $110 worth of food and drinks at Appetizer Thai @ 285 Spring St, Melbourne CBD.

Prior to purchasing this Scoopon, I've never even heard of Appetizer Thai! BUT according to Jeroxie, who recently blogged about Appetizer Thai - she has always known of this place and have been almost selfish to keep it secret, lol. Read her blog post - she sums it all up for me REALLY well!

Well, in the case of Appetizer Thai - their Scoopon marketing effort was indeed worthwhile as we truly enjoyed ourselves and even spent more than necessary and will definitely come back. We ordered 3 starters, 5 mains, and 6 cocktails between the three of us - and the bill came up to approx. $160 but we saved $70 because it was a Scoopon!! What a fantastic deal, such a bargain, excellent service, the place didn't even have to be "fancy" because it was a great place to just hang out and be loud and eat great food.

I was having way too much fun to even bother with my DSLR camera, but I did tweet pictures throughout the night so check out my recent photos: