Saturday, April 30, 2016

Eating in Kuching 2016 - Sukha Cafe

Sukha Cafe is located at Brighten Square at the junction of Jalan Tun Jugah and Jalan Song. It has been opened for a couple of years and quite popular with the young and trendy crowd. The decor rides on the current on-trend recycled-retro vibe. The most striking feature is the clever use of recycled bicycle wheels in the ceiling installation which doubled as a light fitting. 

Sukha specializes in waffles - both the sweet and savoury variety. They also serve a good coffee. 

Their signature dish is the Chicken with Waffles - thick chunks of waffles served with butter milk fried chicken and accompanied with honey mustard sauce. The chicken is really very well done - with crunchy crust and tender meat inside. The honey mustard sauce is house-made and goes well with the waffles and chicken. This is definitely the dish to order here - and it is best shared between 2 or 3 people or it may be a bit too rich. 

We also ordered the Chunky Monkey Waffles - which came with sliced bananas, chocolate sauce and banana ice cream - sprinkled with crush peanuts. This is a great dessert and hits all the right buttons in terms of flavours and textures. The only small peeve was that the bananas were a bit green - otherwise it would have been perfect. 

If you are not into waffles they also do a reasonable Nasi Lemak. All in all Sukha is a nice and homey place for a relaxing break.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Eating in Kuching 2016 - GWC Cafe

GWC - Grill Wine Cafe - is an unexpected find in Kuching. I had read about it on several Facebook posts, but only managed to track it down recently. It is actually part of a new hotel development along Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaide Adruce - next to the McDonalds at 3rd Mile. 

GWC is the first restaurant in Kuching to serve Cambodian food. They also serve other Western dishes but we were there to try their specialty. I had tried Cambodian food a few years back during a visit to Siem Reap. It is similar to Thai food-  but less spicy. GWC's Cambodian offer is not very extensive. All the Cambodian dishes fit onto one page of the menu. 

We started with a Grilled Beef Salad. This is reminiscent of a Thai beef salad, and the flavours are very similar except that this version is less tart. The flavours are quite well balanced. 

There were 2 soups on the menu and we ordered both. The S'Ngor Chruok is a Cambodian sour soup - and it is like a lighter version of Tom Yam. Very nice.

Samlor Kor Koo is a traditional Cambodian soup with cononut milk. We chose chicken but you can also have it with fish or seafood. This is a bit like Thai green curry - again a bit lighter and more subtle in taste. There were a lot of ingredients in the soup - pumpkin, green papaya, long beans, young jack fruit and maringa leaves. It was the best dish of the night.

A-Mok sounds like something you could get drunk with - but is a steamed yellow curry with cononut milk in banana leaf. It is the same as "Hormok" - a dish that is very common in Northern Thailand. The texture is like very light steamed egg - and the taste is a bit too subtle. A bit more spice hit would have made it better.

Beef Lok Lak is wok-fried beef with brandy. Couldn't really taste the brandy but the beef was quite tender. The sauce is sweetish and you need to mix in a bit of the accompanying sourish sauce to balance the taste.

This restaurant and the hotel next door is a Cambodian-Kuching joint venture. The service and kitchen staff are all Cambodians. The staff are very friendly and spoke good English.  The food tastes very authentic - no doubt owing to the fact that there are actually Cambodians cooking in the Kitchen. A great place to try when you are tired of the other food options in Kuching. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Eating in Kuching 2016 - Nuromen Cafe

I never thought I would say this but it has finally happened - there are so many new food places cropping up in Kuching, it is difficult to keep up ! Kuching has grown up - food wise, at least !

Nuromen Cafe is a new food outlet specializing in beef noodles and rice bowls. The interior of the cafe is bright and cheerful. The black and white theme is simple yet striking. 

Located just opposite my office on Chan Chin Ann Road, I have been to the cafe a few times and quite like the food. The best thing on the menu is the beef noodle - either the dry or soup version. It has the traditional "goo bah mee" taste that those who have grown up in Kuching would know.

The beef rice bowls are a good option if you don't feel like noodles. The taste is not as satisfying as the noodles - a bit one dimensional.

For those who don't take beef they also have some chicken dishes. I am really happy that places like Nuromen have popped up - which offer something different from the regular kopitiam. It is no wonder that this place is very popular for lunch.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Shanghai 2015 - Dinner at Lost Heaven on The Bund

If you have had enough of Chinese and Western food in Shanghai and are looking for something a little bit different - then you should give Lost Heaven a try. They now have 2 branches in Shanghai - the older one in the French Concession and the newer one on The Bund. Lost Heaven touts itself as a restaurant specializing in Yunnan folk cuisine. Due to Yunnan's proximity to Laos, Myanmar and northern Vietnam - it is not surprising that the cuisine bears a lot of similarity to the food of these regions.

At the top level of the restaurant is a beautiful bar. This is a great place to chill and have a few drinks before dinner.

The decor of the restaurant is quite fancy and exotic. It is a large place which surprisingly fills up very quickly. It is best to book ahead to avoid disappointment. 

If you are not sure what to order and especially if you are in a big group - it is best to go for the set dinner menu. We had the RMB 250 dinner set which came with 12 dishes. First up were Yunnan vegetable spring rolls and Burmese lamb samosa. The taste is very delicate and the balance of herbs and spices spot on.

Next was the Burmese tea leaves salad and Yunnan eggplant and tofu salad. The tofu salad just burst in the mouth with flavours.

Burmese shrimp paste with string beans and Lijiang style stir-fried beef. The sting beans dish would be very familiar to Malaysians - it is like a less spicy version of our sambal belachan. 

Miao tribe hot and sour prawns and Spicy Cod steamed in banana leaves. The cad was cooked perfectly - very tender and subtly infused with the aroma of the herbs and spices. The prawns were a little bit like sweet and sour prawns back home.

The stand out dish of the night was this Mt Ka-la grilled pork. The spice rub imparted a really beautiful flavour to the meat which was very tender and succulent.

The meal ended with a fruit platter that was beautifully presented. 

Though Lost Heaven is quite a pricey restaurant - the quality of the food and the unique experience makes it worthwhile. Check it out if you are planning to visit Shanghai soon.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Shanghai 2015 - 1933 Laochangfang

One of the buildings that all of us wanted to visit in Shanghai is 1933 Laochangfang. This is a old slaughter house completed in 1933 - with design by a British firm Balfours. Like many of the old industrial structures in China - this has now been re-purposed as a lifestyle venue with shops, cafes and restaurants.

The architecture is very utilitarian and probably mostly dictated by the functions of the building - yet it contains many thoughtful design touches which make it compelling to view and experience.

The most striking feature are the large number of ramps and bridges which connect many parts of the building. These are meant to move animals trough the building in preparing them for slaughter - but today they feel like deliberately designed circulation spaces.

The restoration work has been done very well. Much of the original building has been left untouched - and the new insertions were added with much sensitivity to the existing architecture. This building is one of the rare wonders of utilitarian architecture that is more compelling today then when it was serving its original purpose.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Shanghai 2015 - View from West Bund

For our recent trip we stayed at the Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden which is right beside Yu Garden - one of Shanghai's top tourist spots. The location is really convenient and you can walk to most of the attractions including The Bund, Xintiandi and the French Concession. The view from the top of the hotel is also great - probably one of the best views of Pudong on a clear day.

Surrounding Yu Garden are some of the old residential districts of Shanghai. These have been well preserved over the years, and is a great area to explore on foot to see real local life in Shanghai. Sadly some of the areas are being demolished to make way for new developments.