Saturday, September 17, 2011

Arnold's Spring chicken rawks!

For some time after Hari Raya, I have set a "No Malay Food" policy for lunch just because I was so sick and tired of those foods that are we're typically served with during house visits.

After much pondering, my Chinese male colleague eventually suggested Arnold's. He missed eating there because he got no 'kaki' to accompany him there while we were fasting during Ramadhan.

As always, we have to take a number at the entrance and wait until it was called before we can enter the restaurant. We also have to make our order there. I planned on getting the 2-piece chicken set and wonder if they allow me to choose wings but my colleague remarked, "Why don't you get the 1/2 spring chicken set? All the chicken parts will be there, anyway. Plus, it's cheaper."

I took a look at the price. Boy, he sure is right. But I was wondering why such a big portion (or so I thought) cost much lesser than the 2 separate chicken parts? The 2-piece set is $6.40 while the 1/2 spring chicken set is merely $5.90.

Half spring chicken set

When this arrived, I can finally figure out why. The bird as a whole is definitely smaller that the ones used for the regular chicken parts. Most likely, younger chicken, too?

Anyway, there's lesser meat (yet it's juicy) and the skin is thinner (and crispier!). The gorgeous batter (with an obvious garlic accent) coating the spring chicken has delightfully crunchy bits where the ribs are (my favourite part). The chicken was halved evenly, even down to the parson's nose.

Potato platter ~ $6.20

One colleague only want the thin chips. Another prefer the waffle fries. I like the wedges. Best solution has gotta be this platter that has a bit of everything. Plus some cheese dip to boot.

Served REALLY hot (learnt it the painful way).. this easily transport you to potato haven. Yumz.

Squid rings ~ $4.70

Just a random buy that's suggested by a colleague. It turns out to be surprisingly decent (honestly, I didn't expect much). Squid meat was delightfully tender. Batter was a tad greasy, though.

PS: Arnold's seem to have changed their policy. You are to make your payments upon entering the restaurant. Otherwise, they will not process your order. We kinda' learnt it the hard way. Waited, waited and waited. Till' we saw what others were doing.

Manager did tell us something when we came in but her voice was inaudible over the din. We were pretty regular here and we thought we know better… NOT! Huhu.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

I want my veggies!

There are mainly 2 things that I keep hankering for, every now and then. And they actually belong to 2 extreme ends of the spectrum.

Fast food. Or vegetables.

Sometimes I merge a little of the 2 together, like veggies in my burger or a bowl of salad (where available) instead of some greasy carbs.

However, when I say that I want my veggies, I want a whole portion of them. Like a bowl of salad. Or ulam (raw, tropical greens - eaten with sambal). Or urap/keluban (Javanese salad, eaten with spiced grated coconut).

And the week after Hari Raya, after all that greasy, meaty dishes and those carbs - my body was deperately calling for something a little more light, healthy and packed with fibre (not that I was really constipated or anything).

Hence, I suggested some decent Yong Tau Foo at Bagus.

Homemade barley drink

Healthy, yeah. But I chose this because of its 'cooling' nature. To help remove some accumulated body heat.

Yong Tau Foo 'Dry' w/ beehoon

Okay, so this isn't exactly a healthy one. I had thought of the soup version all day and yet I quite unexpectedly chose to have the dry one when I placed my order.

Well, at least this comes with a small bowl of soup on the side.

Can't resist those fried food items (which they re-fried, prior to serving, gah!). But of course I balance it with a fair share of the healthier food items like some lean tofu, fresh whole chilllies, stuffed capsicums and 2 bunches of leafy greens, namely the Choy Sum and Bok Choy. Almost took a smaller bunch of another type of greens but I held back.

Last time I took 3 different type of green vegetables, I never finished my bowl of food.

Cuttlefish Kangkong $6

Had always wanted to order this and I almost did that day. However, my muddled mind mistook this for the Satay Beehon (what was I really thinking?!) and right that moment, the idea of having anything with satay sauce was a big NO-no.

My colleague got it anyway, for us to share.

When this arrived, I was really taken in by the presentation of this simple rojak of-sorts. The multiple ingredients were put together in the same dish but they weren't mixed in. Right on top were some young cucumber slices, julienned but unfinished at the edges. Below that were these really light, airy and crispy tau pok which managed to impress my Chinese foodie colleague.

After that were the blanched taugeh (green bean sprouts) and kangkong (water spinach/convolvulus). And lastly, the boiled cuttlefish. The spicy, tangy sauce was pretty nice with not too much hae ko/petis (shrimp paste sauce). And they were generous with the crushed peanuts and toasted sesame seeds.

Mixed salad

And on that same week, I still feel the need to stuff myself with some greens (yes, just like a goat).

Mix of salad greens, sweetcorn kernels, black olives, sun-dried tomato, boiled egg, croutons and honey mustard sauce. Yum!

PS: And no, this post wasn't sponsored by HPB (Health Promotion Board), if you're wondering.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Burger King's BreakFeast

Finally got to try this! Everytime I saw the poster, I can't help hankering for it. Blame it on that gorgeous-looking omelette, studded with fillings and oozing all that cheese. It's definitely calling my name.

That Sunday, thinking that the elders at home are fasting the optional 'Puasa 6', I brought my kiddo and helper to the nearby Downtown East for breakfast.

The actual BreakFeast Platter

Thankfully, I didn't really keep my hopes high. I know better than to expect the cheese omelette to look so immaculately layered.

I read about some turkey ham but I didn't see any on the platter. I then figured out that it's mixed into the omelette. I mistook those reddish bits to be tomato.

The cheese in the omelette help in a way that the egg didn't come out too dry. And it also made the whole thing pretty salty. So, please have a taste before you tear open the packet of iodized salt.

The chicken frankfurter was pretty flavorful on it's own, actually. The chicken meat was processed with some herbs and pepper, I think. Just too bad that the cooked piece was left out on the platter or maybe the pan for a tad too long, making it a lil' dry.

The grilled tomato was a nice touch and seemingly authenticate this whole 'western breakfast' idea. Maybe some grilled mushrooms would make it all even nicer (ok, I might be pushing it, here).

And that Croissan'wich with the NZ Anchor butter is simply delightful. If only the bread was toasted… Miss having something sweet as a spread. Could have swiped some strawberry jam from Popeye's prior to dining here.


I love, love, love these bite-sized potato nibblets!

BK's Funnel Cake Sticks

I saw that they'll be giving this away to those who ordered the BreakFeast platter. But they end up serving this to anyone who ordered a meal.

I expect these to be those regular, crispy dough sticks coated with cinnamon sugar, perhaps. But they turn out to be slightly chewy and sprinkled with white icing sugar. Seems like it's made with tapioca starch?

The taste reminds me a lot like this Malay kueh called, 'Getas-getas'.

I noticed recently that McD has something new in their breakfast sets. The 'Supreme' edition seem to include turkey bacon in their menu. Turkey bacon on top of everything else that's already available. Whoa!

The only other Halal fast-food outlet that serve turkey bacon during breakfast was Burger King. But that seemed to have ceased now, since they revamped their breakfast menu to consist of only the BreakFeast Platter, Ham & Cheese Croissan'Wich and the Breakfast BK Shots.

They did away with the Breakfast King, Scrambled Egg Platter and the super sinful Enormous Omelet Sandwich. Boo hoo!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

McD's Big N' Tasty

During lunch, on the day I returned to work right after Hari Raya, my colleague asked what we would like to have.

Sub-consciously I replied, "Fast-food will be nice…" I guess I was already pretty tired of lontong, rendang, sambal and other Raya what-have-yous.

Besides, I've not had 'proper fast-food' (sounds like an oxymoron!) since the month long sabbatical during Ramadhan.

At McD, I saw that they are now offering cheese shaker fries. Already planned on having that. While choosing the burgers, I realized that they seem to have more burger offerings than usual.

Initially planned on the Quarter Pounder, until I saw that they have this new burger which use the quarter pounder patty yet has lettuce and tomato. Beef and veggies, you say?! Gimme!!

The packaging

Wasn't sure if this is their new offering, since I have not checked McD out for over a month.

Got the meal and upsized to get the shaker fries. Already set me back a lil' over $8. Sure ain't cheap, this one.

The cheese shaker fries, if you ask me, they taste a lot like that popular corn snack, 'Cheezels'.

The burger

When I looked inside the box and saw this, I can't help feeling a tinge of familiarity. I was wondering what it was.

At the first bite, I decide it seemed a lil' bland. Thankfully I grabbed a couple packs of black pepper from the condiment counter. After the next few bites, I find myself thinking, "This ain't worth it. Gimme a Whopper anytime!"

That's when it hit me. Hard.

McD was trying to create their own rendition of a Whopper! Is that so…?

Let's see… beef patty. Check. Lettuce. Check. Tomato. Check. Onions. Check. BBQ sauce. Check. Mayo. Check. And they have cheese. That would have been optional with the Whopper.

So what's going on here? I can't help noticing previously, that BK's Chicken Tendercrisp is very similar to McD's Chicken McSpicy…

Is McD having a new direct rival? Remember BK's cheeky 'real-grilled' chicken patty promo, sometime back? I remember McD going on head-to-head with KFC in their McCrispy chicken days…

Whatever it is, I believe it's us consumers who might just benefit. A healthy rivalry only help to create a more robust market, giving us more options…

Psst… BK is now serving this simple fish burger for breakfast. Familiar…?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Eid Mubarak - Hari Raya Goodies

That time of the year again. Eid'ul Fitr, also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri / Puasa and Lebaran here, in the Malay Peninsula. An Islamic festive celebration to commemorate the arrival of Syawal at the end of Ramadhan, after a month of fasting.

Usually celebrated for only a day in the Middle-East but over here, especially in Malaysia & Singapore, we somehow celebrate it throughout the WHOLE month of Syawal. Especially in Singapore, it's quite phenomenal, considering our country is teeny-tiny yet we celebrate it like we have to venture really far to visit relatives & friends (as the case with Malaysia & Indonesia).

Anyway, down to the food. When we think of Eid, we think of really rich, savoury foods, overwhelming spices and varieties. It's a good thing really, to have most of these foods commonly served at this time of the year ONLY. Won't do our hearts and arteries any good, should we consume these too often.

Here's what my maternal grandma prepared for us.

Food by my grandma

Clockwise from top-left: sambal goreng kecambah, dalcha (Indian vegetable curry), sambal udang petai, rendang itik & in the centre - lontong (compressed rice cake).

Not pictured, was a small tub of traditional Nasi Minyak (rice cooked with ghee).

Sambal udang petai

Shrimps/prawns and petai/stinky beans/'sataw' fried in fiery red chili paste.

Rendang Itik

Duck stewed in spicy coconut gravy.

It's actually pretty uncommon to serve duck during Hari Raya, so it's considered pretty 'exotic'. It's very popular with the Chinese here, but some Malays considered the taste to be a tad 'gamey'. My adventurous grandma has also served us venison meat before. I can't recall how she prepared it. Either rendang or curry.

Preparing duck in this manner was a good initiation by my grandma, to mask any 'gamey' smell. All that ginger, tumeric, gallangal, onions, chilli, shallots etc. And coconut milk. She only managed to get a young duck so the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender. Succulent!

Sambal goreng kecambah

'Kecambah' is actually green beans that's soaked overnight. By then, the thin, green skin will start to separate from the yellow flesh.

It is then fried briefly, where the skin will float to the surface naturally and then discarded. The yellow parts are then fried in spices & chilli with other items like shrimps, stink beans and beef or chicken offals.

Ayam goreng serai

Another one of my grandma's specialty.

Her helper will painstakingly julienne or slice thinly some lemongrass, use them to marinate the chicken with other spices. Sometimes, dessicated coconut is also added. The chicken is then deep fried and the lemongrass and coconut will become really crispy, tasty morsels.

Food by my grandaunt

At the last house for that day, my grandaunt prepared beef rendang, ayam masak merah (chicken stewed in spicy tomato gravy) and serunding (spiced dessicated coconut), to be eaten with 3 different type of carbs. There's lontong, ketupat and ba chang.

Ba Chang

Ba Chang, interestingly, is a Chinese food item. Glutinous rice, flavoured with a bit of soy sauce and wrapped with bamboo leaves. Traditionally, there's meat in the centre but my creative grandaunt prepared plain ones to be eaten with the other dishes.


On another day, I went to a fabulous-looking house where this bachelor with pretty chi-chi tastes lives with his elderly mum.

He served us the traditional Javanese salad dish, Gado-gado. It was pretty creative of him to place the multitude of ingredients on a tampi, which is a traditional tool used to separate raw rice grains from their husks.

On the tampi, almost all the items are blanched, save for the raw cucumber and boiled potatoes & eggs. The blanched vegetables are white cabbage, bean sprouts, long beans and kang kong. this will later be doused in spicy peanut gravy and topped with crackers.

Honey cornflakes

My favourite sweet goodies aren't really the traditional ones, that I have to admit. Even the pineapple tarts, I prefer those with bits of crunchy cheese in the base.

I usually gun straight for the chocolate items or those with cornflakes, like the one above. Simply cornflakes with honey, a little butter and some sugar to hold it all together. It's then baked.

The outcome are crunchy nuggets of honey flavoured cornflakes, akin to a moist version of Nestle Honey Gold.

Cornflakes macaroon

These are like little nuggets of meringue with cornflakes and chocolate chips. These are what I'll willingly pay for since I don't bother to make it myself.

One thing, I wouldn't know what to do with all the unused egg yolks when I utilised the egg-whites for the meringue. Not like I make pineapple tarts, anyway. Another thing is that we need to know our ovens really well because it require different temperature and timings for different ovens.

My neighbour told me she baked hers for over 2 hours! O__o

One thing I know, when I see these, I can down at least 10 nos. easily. :P


So there you go. Raya goodies. Very rich. Pretty spicy. Not-that-healthy. But taste oh-sooo-good!