Thursday, March 31, 2011

I-95, Goa

While we were in Goa, we met up with "A"'s second cousin's wife's parents for some drinks and they graciously took us out to dinner. Since they spend half of their time in Goa, they've acquainted themselves with a lot of locals and of course, know of a lot of good places to eat.

If you're looking to dress up a little and experience fine dining in Goa, you should definitely check out I-95 (I know, the name sounds very much like an American highway ). You won't be disappointed. The menu is unpretentious and there is a good selection of wine to go with it.

I-95, Goa
The restaurant shares the same entrance of this age-old building which is also a gallery. The entrance reminded me a little of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

I-95, Goa
Warm mushroom soups in test tubes. I was a bit weirded out by the presentation but the soup was a nice comforting start to our meal.

I-95, Goa

I-95, Goa

I-95, Goa

I-95, Goa
The dining area is simple and humble.

Overall Ratings:
Po's: 8/10
A's: 7/10

Would we return?
Very likely

Castello Vermelho,
Behind the Art chamber,
1/115 A Gauravado,
Near Kamats Holiday Homes,
Calangute 403516
Telephone: +91 832 2275213

Souza Lobo, Goa

Goan food is one of my favorite Indian foods. Unlike the majority of India, where local specialty foods often mean vegetarian (by the way, I have nothing against vegetarian food!), Goan food is often made with "catch-of-the-day" seafood. That said, it's never going to be as good having Goan food anywhere else.

Here's a restaurant that's been around for a long, long time. It's right on Calangute beach but you have to walk through a small, sandy lane and pass a few tattoo stores before you come to the entrance of this restaurant.

Florentine, Goa
Chili-fry oysters.

Souza Lobo
Fish fry - seer fish marinated and lightly pan fried.

Souza Lobo
Mutton Vindaloo. The challenge I find with taking photographs of Indian dishes is trying to capture the deliciousness in the picture, which is not easy considering many of the dishes are in gravy.

Souza Lobo
Fish Curry - one of Goa's most popular dishes. Usually eaten with rice.

Souza Lobo
Crab curry

Souza Lobo
Souza Lobo restaurant.

Overall Ratings:
Po's: 7.5/10
A's: 8/10

Would we return?

Calangute Beach

Florentine, Goa

I love stepping into a restaurant filled with locals when I travel. Florentine is a Goan restaurant that's tucked away (the good local ones are always tucked away) which we found out from a restaurant owner in Bangalore who visits Goa every other month. Here's what we ate.

Florentine, Goa
Oyster rawa fry. Crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside.

Florentine, Goa
"A"'s favorite food in the world; Goan style fish fingers.

Florentine, Goa
Prawns Balchao - prawns cooked in Goan masala, is so good with just plain boiled rice or poi (Goan bread).

Florentine, Goa
Chicken Cafreal - this dish made Florentine restaurant popular amongst the local, and I can see why! The chicken is marinated with green masala and grilled. Yum!

Florentine, Goa
And for dessert, caramel custard or creme caramel or flan. I found out this dish originated from France and was spread all over Europe and now all over the world, and to this little humble restaurant, in Goa.

Florentine, Goa
Inside Florentine restaurant.

Overall Ratings:
Po's: 8/10
A's: 8/10

Would we return?

Chogm Road, Saligao,
Bardez, Goa

Sunny's Indiranagar

I went to Sunny's a couple of times in both locations in the past few months. I have to say, even though the food is nothing to write home about, it has been consistently mediocrely good. One thing for sure, the ingredients used have always tasted fresh to me and the chefs at Sunny's cook decently good tasting Italian (now fusion) food.

Sunny's Indiranagar
Crab cakes - tasty, but a bit soggy.

Sunny's Indiranagar
Calamari fried to a perfect crispness.

Sunny's Indiranagar
Stuffed zucchini rolls, not the most popular appetizer on the table, but I thought it was an innovative dish.

Sunny's Indiranagar
Smoked salmon with cream cheese.

Sunny's Indiranagar
Almond crusted fish with lemon cream sauce.

Sunny's Indiranagar
Another grilled fish which I vaguely remembered to be slightly overcooked.

Sunny's Indiranagar
Asian style sea bass served with bok choy.

Sunny's Indiranagar
Chicken Diane.

Sunny's Indiranagar
Ganache tart

Overall Ratings:
Po's: 6.5/10
"A"'s: 7.5/10

Would we return?
Er, yeah, only because there are not a lot of choices.

34 Vittal Mallya Road,
Bangalore 560 001
Phone: 2224 3642


No.769-770,100 Feet Road,
12th Main Road, Indiranagar,
Bangalore - 560 038
Phone: 4125 5157

Malaysian Street (or Stall) Food

I've been getting a lot more questions from random people recently about where to go and what to eat in Malaysia. My guess is since Air Asia started flights from Malaysia to India, more Indians are planning travels to my home country. To share the "where to go" will make this post too long, but I can certainly share the "what to eat".

Here are some delicious foods that I have happily stuffed my face with during my last visit to Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Penang. Some of these foods can be found in restaurants but most of them are street foods and even though it's a big no-no for most of us to eat on the streets of India, it's generally OK to eat on the streets in KL and Penang. In fact, there is a local saying, "the dirtier, the tastier!" But to be on the safe side, you can find these foods in any food courts. I recommend the Lot 10 food court in KL.

Penang street stalls
Street stalls in Penang.

Wan tan mee
Wan tan mee - Usually eaten for lunch. This is a slightly bigger serving size. I asked for a double order because one helping is just not enough for me! The egg noodles were quickly cooked in boiling water then dipped into cold water (a process to make the noodles slightly chewy) before mixing with a soy sauce concoction. Served with slices of char siew (barbecue pork), some choi sum (chinese brocolli) and a small bowl of wan tan soup on the side. Delicious and very satisfying!

chee cheong fun
Chee Cheong Fun - generally a breakfast food, at least for me while I was growing up. A very simple meal made out of broad rice noodles, and served with sweet hoisin or shrimp paste sauce, chili sauce and sesame seeds.

Claypot rice
Claypot chicken rice - When I was studying in a college in KL, I used to have this at least twice a week for lunch. Rice cooked in a claypot with chinese sausage, marinated chicken pieces and a soy sauce concoction. The authentic claypot chicken rice will come with a side of salted fish, to be mixed into your rice to make the rice even more savory than it already is.

Pan mee
Pan Mee - Hand-made noodles in clear pork and anchovy broth. Served with spring potato leaves, fried anchovies and some seaweed. For some extra kick, eat every bite with a bit of sambal belacan that comes with the dish. It's a simple bowl of noodle soup, but so very satisfying.

har mee (prawn noodles)
Har Mee - also known as prawn mee or prawn noodles. Noodles of your choice (thin rice noodles, egg noodles, lai fun or hor fun or mix two!) served in a slightly spicy but savory prawn-based broth. Served with slices of prawns, pork and quartered boiled eggs.

char kuay teow
Char Kuay Teow - This has got to be one of my (and possibly "A"'s favorite) Malaysian Chinese street food. Kuay teow (rice noodles) fried with eggs, bean sprouts and sometimes, Chinese sausages. If you find a good stall, you can actually taste the wok hei (breath of the wok) in your noodles!

Indian mee goreng
Indian Mee Goreng - Egg noodles cooked with kicap manis (sweet soy sauce), chili sauce, tofu, bean sprouts and eggs. No, I haven't found the equivalent in India. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the many generations of Malaysian Indians who had invented this dish. This dish can be found in any mamak (a slang addressing tamil muslims in Malaysia) stalls.

Mee rebus
Mee Rebus - Same place you find mee goreng, you will also find mee rebus. Instead of frying the egg noodles, the noodles are submerged with a savory-sweet-spicy sauce and topped with a boiled egg, some crisps, tofu and spicy squid.

Roti canai
Roti Canai - Anyone who has been to a Malaysian restaurant in the US, UK, Australia or anywhere else in the world would have eaten the infamous roti canai. In Malaysia, instead of serving the roti with chicken curry, it's normally served with dahl and if you request, you might get extra fish, mutton or chicken curry sauce. You can find this in any Indian or mamak stalls or restaurants at any time of the day.

Nasi lemak wrapped in a banana leaf
Nasi lemak - loosely translates to "fat rice". It's not because it's fattening but "lemak" literally means the fat from coconut milk, a popular ingredient used in Malaysian cooking. Coconut milk is added to the rice, hence the wonderful flavor. Eaten with a bit of sambal (spicy chili condiment usually made from belacan or shrimp paste), a sliver of boiled egg, fried anchovies and fried peanuts. It's served wrapped in a piece of banana leaf.

Yong tau foo (vegetables stuffed with fish paste)
Yong tau foo - vegetables stuffed with fish paste and then boiled or deep-fried. Usually eaten with a bit of sweet (or hoisin) sauce and chili sauce.

oh-chien (baby oyster omelette)
Or-chien - baby oyster omelette, generally sold on the side of "dai chow" eateries ("dai chow" is a kind of restaurant that cooks their food (generally noodles) in a big wok, on top of charcoaled flames). It's usually eaten with a bit of tangy chili sauce.

There are many more street foods (like Curry Laksa, Asam Laksa, Wat Tan Hor and the list goes on...) that I didn't get a chance to photograph while I was on this trip. Hopefully, this will keep you full (but wanting more!) while you are in Malaysia!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chinese New Year in Malaysia

In case I haven't mentioned, I was born and raised in Petaling Jaya (commonly known as "PJ" by the locals), which was developed as a satellite town for the overpopulated Kuala Lumpur back in the 1950's but has been since granted city status not too long ago. To me, it always has been and always will be, the residential suburbia I grew up in. There are a handful of mega malls, but if you ask me what's there to do in PJ, I'd say eat.

Last month, I went back to PJ for Chinese New Year, and as much as I wanted to see my family and catch up with many of my childhood friends, I have to admit, I was equally excited to stuff my face with much-craved Chinese food.

Chinese New Year, is one of the more popular, and perhaps the only celebration we have in our home. The celebration lasts for 15 days, but the busiest day in our house is the day before the first day because it's the day where members of the family come home and have a reunion dinner, hence, the day where we (mainly my dad) spend many, many hours in the kitchen preparing the feast. There is no limit to how many dishes we make, as long as each dish symbolizes something auspicious.

Unfortunately, I don't remember the symbolic values of each dish, but I do remember them being super delicious! Here's what we made this year.

Chinese New Yea menu
Here's dad's game plan.

Braised Chicken Feet
Braised Chicken Feet.

Stir-fry veggies with scallops
Stir-fry vegetables with scallops.

Braised pork with dung gu
Braised pork with shiitake mushrooms and sea cucumber.

Pak Gai (white chicken)
Pak gai (or steamed white chicken).

Sweet and savory prawns
Sweet and savory prawns.

Dung gu pau yu
Dung Gu Pau Yu (Braised abalone with shiitake mushrooms).

Woo tau kau yook (steamed yam with roast pork)
Woo tau kau yook (steamed yam with roast pork).

Fried tung fun, to be eaten with butter lettuce
And last but not least, my dad's signature dish, fried tung fun which has been passed down from my grandmother. Usually eaten wrapped with butter lettuce. Yum!

Chinese New Year meal
And here's the full meal.

One very important point about Chinese New Year reunion dinners is that it is an absolute must to have leftovers because it symbolizes abundance of food available for the rest of the following year!