Fabulous Thai Lunch @ Bangkok Thai Seafood Restaurant, Kuching

Date of Visit: July 11 2013

Ramadan started on July 8, 3 days ago. Although I am not a Muslim I had planned to join in their religious cleansing and purification hoping to shift some weight (by skipping lunch:-)) But with this-and-that and visitors popping into town, it is a monumental task. My blog does not feature recipes, this is because I eat very simple foods at home – blanched broccoli, stir-fried cabbages (with store-bought Lee Kum Kee chilli paste) and cabbage soup (by dumping all the vegs from the markets into a pot) – which are hardly anything interesting.

As I spoke with an overseas counterpart recently, keeping fit was a fast topic. Yes I was quite an athlete before my arrival in Malaysia early this year (without sounding cocky my partner and I came 3rd in the Lantau Race in Hong Kong a few years back. And that was our first time running a trail race!). With the change of environment, especially the weather and culture (there is NO Fitness First here *shockers*), I am missing my 6:30am training sessions with my trainer, daily spin classes and running back home in Sydney. I have also changed my diet, in order to fit into my new context – I was following a predominantly raw food diet – but ahd to abandon it because getting the food I want (organic) is very hard. Moreover, vegetarian in Malaysia means oily greasy pedestrian stuffs like noodles, rice, tofu, etc. Moreover, it is very rude to be not eating if you are entertaining. Therefore, I eat clean when I am at home.

Anyway, Dr Liu’s name came up in our conversation. He is the Chinese doctor who practise Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Bondi Junction, who gain fame for putting his patients on a 2-week fast subsisting only on herbal concoctions. I am very eager to try and hope to make an appointment to see him when I am back in Sydney next.

In the meantime, I had a whirl-wind trip to Kuching, the capital of Sarawak today. The flight took 40minutes, being the Ramadan month, only drinks and some nuts were offered on-board. This left me wondering whether Emirates has the same policies.

Lunch was at a Thai restaurant at a non-descript corner lot of a shophouse typical of any Borneo townscape. The restaurant was very well-patronised as it also provide buffet lunch. I had almost forgot to check name of restaurant being distracted by the striking Thai memorabilia and statues, the servers are all dressed in traditional Thai costumes to impart authenticity. I later did a google search and found out that this restaurant is the 1st Thai restaurant in Kuching.

We started off with a DIY appetizer of Betel Leaf Salad also known as ‘miang kam’. This is a typical Thai street-side snack whereby you wrap an assortment of – whatever that takes your fancy – pomelo, chili padi (bird’s eye chili, which is very fiery), fragrant fried coconut flakes, roasted baby peanuts, dried shrimps, spanish onions, fresh young gingers – to wrap in a betel leaf with tamarind paste. This was my very first time trying the snack and I was absolutely taken by it. Being a peanut-addict, I could not stop myself from picking at the freshly roasted baby peanuts.

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Miang Kam with Keropok (local shrimp crackers)

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Miang Kam

Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus is a must-order in any Thai meal. Chicken pieces were marinated in ginger and herb paste and then chargrilled in pandanus leaves. While unwrapping the package, a sweet fragrance wafted through the air. The chicken pieces were done just right, juicy with a lot of ginger-herb-nut paste, thus did not require a dip in the sweet chilli sauce provided.

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Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus

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Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus

It’s been a long time since I had Shark Fin Soup. This used to be a very traditional Chinese soup until the environmentalists kicked up a fuss. It’s a thick soup with silky smooth egg white in starchy base.

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Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus

Sweet Sour Midin stir-fried with minced pork and shrimps is a twist from the usual midins stir-fried with garlic found in the other restaurants. Midins is a type of fern that is only available in Sarawak. This was also the first time I sampled a different style of cooking midins, so I had a few extra helpings. Now, why can’t the Chinese restaurants be more adventurous in their cooking?

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Sweet Sour Midin

Grilled Squids, springy and creamy, I prefer the squids to be in its natural taste so did not bother with the sweet chilli garlic sauce provided.

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Grilled Squids

Pineapple Rice is another must-order in any Thai restaurant. I especially like how the restaurant prepared it by frying the rice with turmeric, raisins, baby shrimps and pineapple chunks. The final presentation came in a hollowed-out pineapple and topped with generous pork floss.

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Pineapple Rice

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Pineapple Rice

Deep fried Garoupa. Another sweet sour dish. The fish was deep-fried in a light batter, then served with mango slices and aromatic herbs on top. A perfect dish with flaky fish flesh off the bone.

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Deep fried Garoupa

Although a plate of fresh cut fruits were pre-ordered for our table, we still insisted on having some Thai desserts. There were a lot to choose from the picture menu. Since it was a hot afternoon, I chose Chestnut in Coconut Milk which I had enjoyed in my previous Thai meal (review here). Unfortunately dessert today was a letdown. My request for extra ice went unheeded, so I was left with the overly thick sweet santan. There goes my sugar quota for the week.

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Chestnut in Coconut Milk

Overall, I have to say, this is the best Thai food I had sampled so far. Although the dishes seemed to taste the same – all sweet and sour – they were extremely tasty and very satisfying. I had a sugar high and had a difficult time keeping awake for the afternoon.

A Fine Thai Meal @Celadon, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit: June 9 2013

Thai food is undisputably one of the most popular cuisine in the World, yet I am impartial to it. I guess it’s an acquired taste being so pungent, tasty, spicy and sweet. I remember my trip to Bangkok several years ago, I could not help but felt misled by people raving to me how great Thai fare is and in particular their street food. As I was on a healthful Protein Power diet, the dark oily fried foods did not appeal to me and I did not know what to order from the cornucopia of food besides the obligatory Pad Thai and Beef Salad. Needless to say, my trip to Bangkok was quite a disappointment culinary-wise.

I have walked past Celadon countless times and noticed it’s black and white picture of Marilyn Monroe. It is on the top floor of Pavilion Mall where all the fine restaurants are. It was not until I learnt from an acquaintance that the restaurant is operated by the father of a Chinese Michelin 1-star restaurant in Mayfair, UK famous for the world’s most expensive bowl of Buddha-Jumps-Over-The-Wall at £108, that I made a point to dine in there one day.

My on-line search for reviews on the restaurant came up with a perfume blog and the explanation of Celadon as a fine ceramic ware.   In any regards, Celadon was a fantastic discovery to me. I love the the posh interior with a large chandelier, fresh floral arrangement and parquet flooring evoking the French-Siamese feel.   Even the chairs are designer chairs from Phillipe Starke and Carl Hansen. I love the use of coloured cushions to jazz up the space, but couldn’t help associating it with a Jim Thompson shop.  I noticed the wines on display and no doubt the wine list is impressive, but no wine for tonight…

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To start: Ice Blended Coconut Juice. I was dittering between fresh coconut in the real coconut fruit and the ice-blended impersonator, but in the end decided on the ice-blended drink in order to accomodate the lack of space on the table and also to be ‘adventurous’. The milky drink turned out to be fresh coconut frappe complete with the flesh. Very delicious and oh so sweet!

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The complimentary fish skins skinned-off whole fishes, were crunchy and my mom really liked it.

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With 2 very knowledgeable guides on Thai cuisine, our table of 5 are in safe hands. Let’s kick off with what we had!

Thai Green Chicken Curry: This is certainly a tasty aromatic curry with a lot of heat, going well with the free-refills of white rice. I especially liked the baby eggplants.

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Beef in Sizzling Hot Plate: Really, really reminded me of the Cantonese-Western joint near Southorn Playground at Johnston Road, Wanchai where my mates and I will go for our year-end sizzling beef steak. What more can I say, except tender pieces of beef and reminding me to FB poke my friends?

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Bean sprouts with salted fish: One of my favourite dish is salted fish with tofu rice, and I can say that Celadon does not skimp on the salted fish, given how expensive it has became.

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Kai-Lan with deep-fried minced garlic: I guess this is a must-order at every table since we all need to have some greens in our diet to keep healthy.

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BBQ Chicken in pandanus leaves: Don’t let the charred appearance mislead you, the chicken pieces were very juicy! Yet again, a must-order in any Thai resto and more so in Celadon, I suppose…

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Sweet and Sour Fish: It arrived ceremoniously on an aluminium hot plate with lighted candles at the bottom to keep the fleshy fish and its mouth-puckering broth hot and bubbling. WOW! The broth likens to a tarty Tom Yum consommé – exploding with sour and sweetness almost at once! I’m recommending this dish too! (Notice too, the Pineapple rice at the background…it’s good too, if you want to add more carbo in you already carbo-rich meal)

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Water chestnut and jackfruit:  Strips of jackfruits, coconut and water chestnut in jelly in coconut milk and ice.  Each ordered one and no sharing indeed!

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Sticky rice with mango and ice-cream:  A no-brainer and must-order for the table.  Salty rice with sweet ice-cream and tarty mango.  What’s not yum about it?

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Was the meal expensive? It came up to RM350 which included tips. “Not too expensive”,commented my fellow diner, “I was expecting RM500!”.  Nevertheless, dining Thai once-in-a-while is alright and I know where to go and what to order now!