Monday 31 August 2009

Merdeka Open House 2009: My Sweet Malaysia Round up

Updated 14 Sept 2009

Erina from Penang of Sembang and Talk, made this Red Bean Soup but she added a special ingredient inside which is alkaline dumpling. My mom does this too! It makes the soup super smooth and the chewy dumpling bits added great texture to the soup. Yeah this is a late entry due to streamyx issue. Thanks Erina for the effort even though you're so busy now.


Updated 12:31pm

I'm so daft hahaha I've put in everyone's entries except mine!!! So here we go I added mine right at the end.


Just like our previous open house, let's pay respect to our country first by singing the National anthem - Negaraku.


Tanah tumpahnya darahku
Raykat hidup
Bersatu dan maju
Rahmat bahagia
Tuhan kurniakan
Raja kita
Selamat bertakhta

Rahmat bahagia
Tuhan kurniakan
Raja kita
Selamat bertakhta

This is the fourth installment of Merdeka Open House that I've hosted. I'm glad that I soldiered on this year even though I was a bit lazy earlier and now I'm really swamped with work. It's really crazy busy!

For our first open house, we came up with the theme Recipe Long Forgotten where we made recipes of our grandparents era. The subsequent year we have a Muhibbah themed affair. Last year we have a fantastic Mee and My Malaysia with a record of 27 entries.

This year we're going on a very sweet theme of My Sweet Malaysia. Actually I would really apologise for choosing this theme without knowing there will be a shortage of sugar in the country. It's funny but I guess someone's hoarding the load to inflate the price for the start of our festive seasons.

Without further adieu, let's sweeten up this 52nd Independence Day (Hari Merdeka Ke-52) with the following entries that I've received...

FoodnTravella of Kuala Lumpur made some Sweet & Colorful Glutinous Rice Balls for the occasion. In Cantonese, they're known as Tong Yuen or for the Nyonya it's Kuih Ee. These glutinous rice balls are served with sugar syrup. Do check FoodnTravella's version of the colourful glutinous rice balls.

Jin Hooi who is residing in Melbourne owns Smell & Taste Are My Memory attempted Ondeh-ondeh. I love how I could stuff one whole ondeh-ondeh inside my mouth waiting for the burst of gula melaka!

Lianne of Imbi n Itchy has recently married and shifted to Ahaus, Germany came up with a beautiful Honeycomb Cake. I tell ya, it's not easy to achieve the honeycomb texture but she had done it so well. Atta girl!

Alice hails from Malaysia and blogs at Bits of Taste. She concocted our fave dessert of Sago Gula Melaka. It's hard to say no to this dessert of pearly grains topped with thick gula melaka syrup and creamy fresh coconut milk.

We have our second Onde-onde recipe submitted. Sam residing in Adelaide, Australia blogs at Come Have a Bite made these lovely chewy textured balls coated with grated coconut with a melted gula melaka filling.

Nyonya Food is a very young blog even though it's owner has been blogging at a different blog for years. She's very famous and this Penang lass stays in Irvine, CA, USA. Yes, I know she hardly make sweet stuff but I can count on her to cook up something for My Sweet Malaysia. She submitted one of Malaysian's favourite tong shui (sweet soup), Bee Koh Moy (Bubur Pulut Hitam).

Another USA resident but from Pennsylvania, Gertrude of My Kitchen Snippets submitted Kuih Koci. This kuih is wrapped individually with banana leave and once you open the parcel, you'll find the kuih of glutinous rice flour with a gula melaka flavoured grated coconut filling.

Tummywise from Penang cooked up a delish looking Kaya, a spread made of coconut milk and eggs. Seriously, I could hardly find anyone who makes their own kaya these days as it's rather tedious to keep stirring the concoction for hours :P since we could easily buy them off the shelves but of course homemade ones can't beat the commercial kaya. Well done Tummywise!

Sam of Adelaide, Australia sent me a second submission. This round she made a Kuih Bakar. I'm not really a kuih fan but I liked this kuih bakar. Perhaps the action of baking make it really fragrant coupled with the usage of pandan juice got me hooked.

I would like to apologise to Little Chef of Yau Tuck Sek from Kuala Lumpur for rejecting her entry earlier as her Mama's Moist Chocolate Cake is not something traditional. I was in a dilemma actually but what the heck, we'll accept this huh in the spirit of Merdeka. This is her Ma Ma's recipe which looked so simple to make, perhaps I should try this one of these days.

Ching of Little Corner of Mine resides in Colorado Springs, CO, USA, made everybody's favourite Red Bean Soup but her version have homemade glutinous rice balls also known as tong yuen which add a rather Q texture to the soup.

I tell ya, I always look forward to Kong Kay's submission cos he always spring me surprises. Who can forget the year he submitted the sago worms??? That post was a hit with foreign bloggers! Kong Kay from Kuching made a very very apt dish this time to celebrate Malaysia's 52nd birthday. A T'nee Mee Sua (Sweet Longevity Tread Noodle) is basically mee sua served in sugar syrup with red hard boiled egg. According to him, this noodle is a traditionally served to the elders in Hokkien households where the daughter-in-law would need to cook this up in the morning and serve it ala tea ceremony. Do hop over to his blog to view the step-by-step guide to make this special dish.

Thanks to Sugar & Spice for kicking my butt this year to make this open house a success. If not for her, I would just let this year go by just like that. Sugar & Spice from Kuala Lumpur blogs at Masala Heaven made a very delicious and creamy Kulfi. Seriously, I never realise Kulfi is so easy to make!!! Do you think this will be nicer if made in an ice-cream maker? I've been itching to lay my hands on one of this machines!

Dedicated mummy, Sue Momster from Kuala Lumpur who blogs at Cookingmomster made these beautiful Kuih Gula Hangus (Steamed Caramel Cakes). I can imagine sinking my teeth into these soft cakes with sweet caramel taste.

Reese from Boston sent me the recipe for Kek Pisang (Banana Bread) which I've posted on my blog on her behalf. Thanks Reese for the lovely looking loaves.

From Vancouver, BC, Canada, Angie of Sea Salt With Food cooked up Bubur Ca Ca. Bubur Ca Ca is another Malaysian favourite tong shui (sweet soup). Capt'n Hook will be crazy enough to drive to Pulau Tikus, Penang for a bowl!

Hahaha Sam of Come Have a Bite equalled my record with 4 entries! She made two tong shuis (sweet soup) - Sweet Potatoes Soup and Bubur Cha Cha! Thanks Sam for being such a sport ;-). I hope you can break this record next year!

Newly wed Daphne from Perth, Australia who blogs at More Than Words made Bubor Char Char as well. Told ya it's a Malaysian favourite, so good enough that there were a total of 3 entries!

Pei-Lin who was studying in USA but should be back home in time for Merdeka celebration blogs at Dodol & Mochi. I'm impressed that she took the effort to make Tambun Biscuits (Tau Sar Beng). I guess when you're overseas and crave for some, the only way is to make them yourself huh but for us who stays in the country really take these widely available biscuits for granted heh :p

By now Nate and Annie from House of Annie should be settling down in Kuching. I can't imagine how they manage to cough up with a Honeydew Sago dessert in the midst of packing. I guess it must be so hot that they have to make one to cool themselves down. Well, I wish both of them great new adventures especially in terms of the discovery of Sarawakian food.

Baking Quinn who is currently in Adelaide, Australia made it just in time for the event. She blogs at Quinn's Baking Diary. She submitted two entries. One of them is Angku Kuih in the shape of Disney's characters! She uses her Peranakan grandmother's recipe. The next entry is Kuih Seri Muka which is basically steamed coconut milk infused glutinous rice topped with a sweet pandan custard. I recently tasted a good Seri Muka at my cousin's wedding party, she got them from Lulu Kueh (you can find the kiosks at various malls).

Lisa all the way from Netherlands of Lekker lekker lekkerste made one of my fave kuih raya - Kuih Makmur. I liked it just the way she did... the pleasure of the sweet melt-in-the mouth dough followed by the exploding texture of crushed peanuts!

On my side, I've made my favourite kind of doughnut, Kuih Keria that is made up of sweet potatoes. For prosperity, I've cooked up a pot of 8 Treasure Tong Shui (Sweet Soup), something very different from the ordinary red or green beans.

Thank you to all participants for being such a sport to cook up such a feast. To the readers who feasted their eyes on our virtual open house, thanks for coming by. Till the next installment of Merdeka Open House, Selamat Hari Merdeka to all Malaysians.

Note: I've merely crop your pics into squares so that they looked uniform. Hope you don't mind.

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Sunday 30 August 2009

Merdeka Open House 2009: Entry is Closed

All right, entries to Merdeka Open House 2009 is officially closed. However, if you've already made your sweet little something, you could still send them to me by today. I won't guarantee that it will be posted together with the earlier entries that I've received as it takes time to prepare the round up. They might be posted up later but I'll try to include them all before the open house. Email me your entries ASAP!!!

Thanks. Do come back and feast your eyes on all the sweet treats on the 31st!

Saturday 29 August 2009

My Sweet Malaysia: Kek Pisang (Banana Bread)

I'm posting this on behalf of Reese Darragh who is residing in Boston, MA. Reese is submitting a Kek Pisang (Banana Bread) which is best served with Kopi O or Teh Tarik.

Actually I can't decide whether to admit this or not cos from the look of it, the cake doesn't look like our local Kek Pisang but since Reese is such a sport, I decided to accept this entry since I've always been flexible about this. Thanks Reese for participating and I hope you'll contribute next year, perhaps this would entice you to start a blog soon :p

Kek Pisang (Banana Bread)


* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup butter
* 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 5-6 overripe bananas, mashed
* 3/4 cup of chopped walnut
* 1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 8-cup mini loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and dark brown sugar. Stir in eggs, vanilla and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Add chopped walnuts into batter. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack.

My Sweet Malaysia: 8 Treasure Tong Shui (Sweet Soup)

8 Treasure Tong Shui

I just made this today, so I decided to include this for Merdeka Open House as well. It's my first time making this after tasting it at Zun Kitchenette. It's basically a tong shui (sweet soup) that consists of 8 different type of ingredients to signify a prosperous ending to a meal.

The 8 types of ingredients I've used were red beans, green beans, black eye peas, pearl barley, gingko nuts, dried longans, lotus seeds, and sago pearls. May our country Malaysia will prosper and the citizens continue to live harmoniously and peacefully.

8 Treasure Tong Shui

100g red beans
100g green beans
100g black eye peas
100g pearl barley
150g gingko nuts
150g dried longans
1 rice bowl full of lotus seeds, soak with hot water for 20 mins and remove stems when soften
20-30g sago pearls
rock sugar to taste

Boil red beans, green beans, black eye peas and lotus seeds with about 2" amount of water above the beans. Simmer in low heat until they are almost soften before adding longan, gingko nuts and pearl barley; taking care to add more hot water when it dries up.

When all ingredients are softened, add more hot water until to the level you prefer your tong shui to be, either thick or thin. I liked mine half ingredients, half water. Add in rock sugar to taste (you can use normal sugar). Turn off fire and serve hot.

Selamat Hari Merdeka!

My Sweet Malaysia: Kuih Keria

I was kinda proud when I decided on the theme for this year's Merdeka Open House. I thought it would be so easy to simply pick any of the lavish sweet traditional spread we have in Malaysia but how wrong I was. Well, all due to so many things I could cook up but I tell ya, it's not easy to decide on which recipe... decisions, decisions, decisions!

Anyway I ended up making Kuih Keria, one of my favourite local "doughnut", the other being the simple fried up dough with castor sugar coating which we can find in our local market or hawker stalls. Kuih Keria is doughnut shaped kuih made of 4 ingredients that are sweet potatoes, self-raising flour, baking powder and sugar for coating. Simple as that... usually the yellow variety of sweet potatoes are being used but this smart alec decided to make some multi-coloured ones just to spice up the entry.

Kuih Keria

I bought some purple, orange and yellow (well, I thought it was yellow but after steaming they still look whitish!!!) sweet potatoes just to experiment. After steaming them separately, I mashed them up. I find the orange version is easist to mash and it's soft plus very moist where else the other two were kinda dry. I had to add a little water to bind the dough up. After frying them up, I noticed the orange ones puffed up nicely but the other two retained it's original shape.

Kuih Keria - orange

The original Kuih Keria usually have a hardened sugar syrup coating but I find them too sweet, hence I just coat mine with caster sugar.

Kuih Keria - white

Kuih Keria - purple

The test bunnies only gave praise to the orange version and I know Capn't Hook would loved to throw the other 2 versions at the wall to see if they could make any dents on the wall hehe. So I should know better to adhere to the experts (recipe/cookbook writers) by using the said ingredient instead of pandai-pandai (cleverly) modifying them to my fancy.

Kuih Keria

300g yellow or orange sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
120g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups oil for deep frying
Caster sugar for sprinkling

1. Place the cubed sweet potatoes on a plate and steam until soft, about 15 mins. mash them, removing and discarding any fibre.

2. Placed the mashed sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl. Combine with self raising flour and baking powder. Knead into a soft dough.

3. Divide dough into 30g pieces. Dust hands lightly with flour and roll each dough piece into a round blall. Flatten it slightly with the back of your hand until it's about 7cm large. Slowly using your finger to poke a hole through and fashion dough into a ring. Set aside. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

4. Heat oil in a wok over medium-high fire. When smoking hot, add dough rings in batches. Deep fry for 5-8 mins or until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel.

5. Sprinkle caster sugar over and serve hot.

Do wait up and come back on Merdeka Day for the round up of all recipes submitted for this year's Merdeka Open House!

Selamat Hari Merdeka!

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Friday 28 August 2009

Review: Buffet Brunch at Hakka Republic

**Pork Free**

On Sunday, courtesy of Sunshine Chicken and Hakka Republic, Capt'n Hook, BoiBoi and myself enjoyed ourselves tremendously over a delicious Sunday buffet brunch. Thanks to Jon, someone I gotten to know over the years via Friedchillies forum ;-), his brother Gerald (Operations Manager of Sunshine Chicken) invited us together with Jaya from The Star and Tan Bee Hong of NST (wow we finally got the face after reading years of food reviews in The Sunday Times, so honoured to meet her) to taste their free range chicken done ala Western at Hakka Republic.

We have learnt so much from Gerald about chicken farming but the unique points about Sunshine Chicken were they have 2 types of free range chicken ie. Free Range Chicken (Ma Cho Kai which literally translated "horse grass chicken") and Free Range Castrated Rooster or Capon Rooster (Yim Kai). They were named as such as these Ma Cho chickens roam freely on the ground where horse grass is planted. The chickens peck and eat these grass plus other soft vegetation on top of their usual chicken feeds. We were told they could graze down an entire banana tree, trunk and all!!! Oui scary, what sharp beaks they have!

As for the Yim Kai, I guess the younger generation won't know much what are they. I know a bit but don't remember tasting any. Capt'n Hook being a kampung boy had witness the whole process as occasionally someone would go round the kampung asking anyone would want to have their rooster to be castrated! Castrated rooster meat texture was supposed to be smoother, well, I'm not sure since we didn't get to try as the best way to cook this is to steam it ala Hainanese way. Gerald was showing BoiBoi how tall these roosters were and judging from the height, they were like as tall as 2 feet?? What more when the weight could reach 4kg!

mosaic rooftop garden

mosaic interior

It was my first visit to Hakka Republic which is seriously not a Chinese restaurant heh but more of a Chinese themed bar and bistro serving western style food. The decor is very Chinese but yet modern chic. There is an oval room which contained a few sets of comfy sofas followed by a room filled with high table and chairs plus a dining set with a large display of wine bottles. According to Capt'n Hook, this was the typical layout of a Hakka home where the oval or round shaped room is to receive guests.

mosaic oval room

At the bar, you'll noticed 3 shiny machines holding bottles of wine inside. They looked like fridge but they're more than that. These machines are called Enomatic machine which preserved opened wine bottles. Hakka Republic is proud that they're first in Malaysia to have such system.

Enomatic machine

About the buffet brunch spread, it was certainly a hearty one even though the choices are not as wide like a hotel buffet but seriously, it's just nice for me. Chef Adi did a wonderful job here. Otherwise overloading and suffering at the end of the meal, something not very pleasant indeed. Priced at RM65+ per person, free for children below 10 years. This price doesn't include drinks but there is happy hour prices all day long or free flow of barley/rose oolong tea at RM9+ per person. We all opted for the rose oolong tea as recommended by Arby which is absolutely fantastic to go with all the meaty dishes.


Let's check out some of the spread... start with appetisers which you can find salad, cold meat etc




Then there's a hearty wild mushroom soup with assorted breads.

Wild Mushroom soup and bread basket

Close up of the appetisers, we have Smoked Duck Salad With Honey Hoisin Dressing, Salmon Gatteau, Creamy Peas and Ham, Tuna Salad...

mosaic appetiser 01

... fresh prawns with various dips and sauces, greens and pasta salad.

mosaic appetiser 02

There's a carving station serving Roasted Whole Sunshine Free Range Chicken, Oven Baked Lamb Leg and Yorkshire Pudding. Gerald informed the first roasted chicken was underdone hence they roasted a second chicken. I tasted the first one though the thigh meat which was passed on by BoiBoi, was a bit tough but the subsequent chicken was juicy. The Yorkshire Pudding was great to go with the meat and brown sauce.

mosaic carving station

Mains of Beef Wellington with steamed vegetables, Baked Salmon Fillet with stir-fried vegetables, and Chicken Roulade with potato confit.

mosaic mains 01

I personally loved the Beef Wellington which was perfectly done... oops sorry the gravy covered the beef portion hence you can't see the pinkish bit on it; and of course the Chicken Roulade. You can really taste the chicken meat and the texture is smooth and err how to say huh... chewy? Reminded me of how real chicken meat texture should be like just like those my mom used to rear festives seasons.

mosaic mains closeup

Since it's brunch, we got to order how we like our eggs to be done. Capn't Hook asked for omelette which I would say perfectly done. The centre of the omelette is still runny! Superb... the chefs at hotel breakfast should learn this is the way how an omelette should look like :p

I "shared" an Egg Benedict with BoiBoi but the moment it arrived at the table, the little fella started poking his fork and spoon into it. I reminded him he's supposed to share with me but omigosh I had to stop him since he ate quite a lot of food already. You should have seen me struggling to remove the plate from him whilst he's still stuffing himself hahaha... Luckily there were 2 bites left and no wonder he was so gelojoh cos it's simply delicious. The egg was poached nicely topped with a light creamy hollandaise sauce.

mosaic eggs

Desserts you can find quite a good mix of mixed fruits, Carrot Cake, Cheesecake, Fruit Flan, Apple Pie, Bread Pudding, Gugelhope Marble, Mango Pudding and Creme Brulee.


mosaic dessert

Of all, the Creme Brulee is really mean! BoiBoi was the first who started on dessert and he told me he liked it a lot. So later on when I had my share, I had to concur with him. It's luscious, firm on top with a crispy layer of burnt sugar and creamy at the bottom. I never had such a great creme brulee in Malaysia.

mosaic dessert close up

I captured these pics of BoiBoi enjoying his second serving of Creme Brulee but you'll need to imagine the mmmm and yummms sound coming from him... need I explain anymore how great it was??? In fact the rest, Capt'n Hook, Bee Hong and Gerald, gave thumbs up too!

BoiBoi enjoying Creme Brulee

It was indeed a great brunch in the company of so many people, which includes Jon and his family. Later on we met Thomas, one of the partners of Sunshine Chicken. Can see he's really passionate about his chickens and food haha. Upon his initiation... we're now going to organise a nice drive (about 2 hours) to Kuala Lipis to visit the farm (1 hour) then followed by a lunch of steamed Yim Kai and freshwater fishes in a restaurant nearby before heading back to KL. If you're interested please note down in the comment and remember to include your email (regular floggers don't need as I have your email already hehe). Tentatively it should be either Sat or Sun in October.

At the moment, you can only get your chicken here but you can always call 03 9102 3950 to place your order to be delivered to you. Otherwise, you'll need to visit these places to taste the chicken.

During the month of Ramadhan, Hakka Republic has a Ramadhan buffet priced at RM68+ per person with free flow of selected drinks. Remember to make your reservation!

Thanks to Jon; Gerald and Thomas (Sunshine Chicken); and Sue, Arby, Chef Adi and team (Hakka Republic) for such a wonderful time.

Sunshine Chicken (Sales and Marketing)
45-2, 2nd Floor, Jalan Menara Gading 1,
Medan Connaught
56000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 9102 3950

Hakka Republic
Lot 2.05, Level 2, Menara Hap Seng,
Jalan P.Ramlee
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2078 9908
Opening hours:
Mon-Fri: Lunch 12-3pm; Drinks/Dinner 5pm-1am
Sat: Lunch - closed; Drinks/Dinner 5pm-2am (kitchen opens at 7pm and last orders at 10pm)Sun: Buffet Brunch 1130am-330pm; Drinks/Dinner 5pm-1am

For a nicer full album of the food, check out my Flickr album.

Blog Revamping

Hello... I'm in the midst of revamping my blog to make my life a little easier. So do not be alarmed as work is still under construction.

16 Oct 2012