Crispy Friday by Swallow @The Saw Emporium X Penang International Food Festival 2018

Love all things crispy? A trip to Swallow @ The Saw Emporium is in order, as the pop-up dining joint brings together the crunchiest goodies from Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore – for one night only – at the annual Penang International Food Festival 2018.

Crispy Friday, happening on 20 April from 5 – 11PM, will feature local street food vendors, a food eating contest and local music bands. Meanwhile, kitchen takeovers, guest shifts and a beer party continue throughout the weekend.

Wolf Burger

Kicking things off at 5.30PM is the Crispy Fryday Food Eating Competition, comprising two rounds where participants consume either gourmet burgers by WOLF Burgers or a Mega Japanese Curry Rice by Teppei Syokudo in the fastest time possible. Up to 5 two-person teams can compete to win up to RM250 cash prizes. The contest is open to all nationalities, genders and ages where pre-registration is strictly required.

Local street vendors will pop up in dedicated food stands including Hock Seng Rojak King @ Lebuh Macallum with its signature sticky rojak sauce, fried banana fritters by Ah Boy Pisang Goreng @ Penang Road, as well as Keropok Lekor, Murukku and Belachan Chicken.

Crispy Fryday Flatlay

Look out for Crispy Fryday special menus from Swallow dining partners, featuring Assorted Tempura, Pork Tonkatsu, Seafood Kakiage, Deep-Fried Soft Shell Crab With Pork Floss and Assorted Kushikatsu Sticks by Teppei Syokudo, Sesame Street Deep-Fried Chicken Cartilage by WhatSaeb แซ่บ Boat Noodles, Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls by Pho Viet.

Crispy Fryday Jumbo Chicken and Pork Skewers on Grill

Throughout the night, enjoy live music with acts such as a 4-piece rock band helmed by guitarist Kelvyn Yeang, as well as three-piece acoustic band Wedding in Charlie.

Swallow mainstay partners such as TAPS Beer Bar, Qwenchers Juice Bar and Norm Café continue to operate as usual from 11am to 12am.

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Patrons can look forward to extended Weekend Kitchen Takeovers from 20 to 22 April, so if you missed out on the action on Friday night, fret not. Gourmet burger specialists from Pasarbella Suntec City in Singapore, WOLF Burgers will take over the kitchen at Embers BBQ Grill to showcase their burgers and fries including the signature Classic Wolf Burger, Honey Mustard Fried Chicken Burger and Pulled Pork with Chipotle Sauce & Corn Salsa, plus fan-favourite Kimchi Cheese Fries and Crispy Fries.

Kimchi Fries

Crispy Fryday Mega Japanese Rice Platter

MICHELIN Guide Singapore Bib Gourmand Owner-Chef Teppei Yamashita at Teppei Syokudo will launch a new menu following the kitchen takeover as he curates new dishes daily alongside signature Ten Don, Salmon Belly Don and Tonteki Fried Rice.

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Kuala Lumpur’s sole entry on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2017 and #10 the year before, speakeasy Omakase + Appreciate will take over the DaVinci Gourmet Cocktail Bar as three-time Diageo World Class Malaysia Champion, mixologist and co-owner, Shawn Chong guest shifts to showcase specialty and personalized cocktails true to the “I leave it to you” Japanese essence of omakase.

KL Bar Awards Best Beer Bar Winner, TAPS Beer Bar will hold the TAPS Beer Party, a sequel to the TAPS Takeover in January which invites beer drinkers on craft beer tasting flights from more than 50 international craft beer bottles and on tap, including ciders from global breweries including small batch brewers.

PIFF 2018 Crispy Fryday
20 April 2018, 5 – 11pm

Swallow @ The Saw Emporium
1 Gat Lebuh Macallum, George Town 10300, Penang Follow the Crispy Fryday event updates at http://bit.ly/CrispyFryday

 

I Tried Stinky Tofu!? @International Food Cultural Festival

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! It’s the last stretch of 2016,and I think most of us are already on holiday mood (even if we have to go to work :P). Me, I’ve been pigging out… comforting myself in the thought that I can start my diet next year.

…..Okay so I say that every year and it never works. lol. But I digress.

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Craving for supper, C, S and I went to check out the International Food Cultural Festival at Tesco Puchong a few days ago, where there are dozens of food stalls featuring snacks from China and Taiwan. The fest will be making its way around Malaysia, and the Puchong leg will be around until January 2 2017.

Despite the rain, there was a sizable crowd. Everything is cashless, so visitors buy load cards worth RM10, RM5 and RM1 at the front counter. Prices are steep, but hey, it’s not everyday you get a street food market in Puchong like this 😀

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I haven’t been to a night market for the longest time, so it was interesting to see some of the latest food trends, like octopus balls on skewers, spiral potatoes on sticks, fried ice cream and more. There were also well-loved ‘traditional’ favourites like oyster pancakes, noodles and gaozi (panfried dumplings).

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Sorry, couldn’t get the guy out of the background .__.

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C dragged me to one of the stalls. Immediately upon entering its vicinity,  I could smell a pungent odour that I can only describe as half sewage/half dirty socks.

“Stinky tofu!” C exclaimed while I wrinkled my nose.

I know a lot of people like this deep fried fermented street snack, a popular item in Taiwan, but I could never get past its smell long enough for me to take a bite.

C insisted we get a packet. I thought hey, life’s short, so why the hell not xD

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Freshly fried on the spot.

So why is stinky tofu, well, stinky?

Traditionally, the process (which can take several months) involves making a brine from fermented milk, vegetables and meat; sometimes it also includes dried shrimps, amaranth greens, mustard greens, bamboo shoots and Chinese herbs. The tofu is then soaked in this and left to ferment. But to keep up with modern demand, factories often mass produce stinky tofu and it is only marinated for a day or two to get that distinctive smell.

Legend has it that it was invented by a guy called Wang Zhi-He during the Qing Dynasty in China. He had a lot of unsold tofu left over from his business, so he cut them up and put them in an earthern jar. After a few days, he opened it up and found that it had turned green and smelly. Upon tasting it, he found it delicious so he started selling it at his stall. Although why someone would risk death by eating tofu that looks like it has gone bad is beyond me.

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Sauces and condiments added to the tofu – chilli oil, spicy sauce, a dab of kimchi.

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Well, it tasted and looked better than it smelled, that’s for sure.

The tofu was tasteless, so it was the sauce that gave it flavour. I liked the chilli oil, since it was fragrant and spicy, giving the snack an extra kick. The tofu was fried well with a crispy texture on the outside, while being soft and silken on the inside.

After trying it, it wasn’t so bad but I don’t think I’d  voluntarily queue up to get it if I’m ever in a night market. 😀

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Also had deep fried whole squid, which turned out to be pretty tasteless despite the extra seasoning I requested.

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Another popular night market snack in Taiwan – chicken wings stuffed with rice and grilled over a charcoal fire. The stall said we had to wait 10 minutes for one since they were still cooking, so I got their chicken drumstick stuffed with ham and cheese instead – kinda like a Taiwanese-style roulade. It was tasty and tender.

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Wo tie (fried dumplings). They were small and soaked in oil, but the vinegar dip lessened the greasiness.

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Fried ice-cream rolls are a common sight in the street markets in Thailand. The mixture is spread onto a pan/grille, then rolled into thin sheets. This is then topped with various condiments and sweet sauces like chocolate, syrup, candy, etc. S wanted Mango but it wasn’t available and I ran out of credit, so didn’t get to try it. :/

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Washed everything down with a large cup of fruit juice – mix of watermelon and dragon fruit. Cool and refreshing!

The International Food Cultural Festival will be on until January 2 2017 in front of Tesco Puchong from 5PM-12AM daily. Their next stops will be at Tesco Ipoh Bercham (6-15 January 2017), Tesco Bukit Mertajam, and Tesco Pulau Pinang.

 

 

 

 

LTITUDE @ Resorts World Genting for MIGF 2016

The Malaysian International Gastronomy Festival (MIGF) is an annual affair showcasing the best of the local food scene, especially of the fine dining variety. Chefs from top Malaysian restos put on their thinking caps to bring some truly delectable dishes to diners throughout the month of October.

2016 marks the festival’s 15th year with the theme High Octane Chefs. 25 participating restaurants are serving special ‘festival’ menus until Oct 31. (I know there are only a few more days left, but I got caught up with stuff and forgot to post it .__.).

I did a writeup for work though (which was why they invited me!). You can read the article here

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The good people from Resorts World Genting had me and some other media friends over for a full day of non-stop eating (we were so stuffed by nightfall we had to roll to the van) at two of their restaurants, namely LTITUDE Bar, Restaurant and Lounge at the Genting Club, as well as the award-winning The Olive Restaurant next door.

At LTITUDE, we got to enjoy a 10-course meal as part of MIGF’s Festival Menu. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the young and talented Chef Mandy Ding. She’s only in her 20s and already commands a resto of her own at one of the most prestigious hotels in Malaysia – now that’s achievement! Having worked in top notch kitchens in Singapore and Hong Kong, Mandy knows her stuff and describes the cuisine at LTITUDE as a blend of her classical French training with modern techniques and ingredients to suit local tastebuds. One can tell Mandy is passionate about food just from the way she explains stuff to us. There are no airs from her either – when she’s telling us how she marinates her truffles in a jar, it’s like we’re just chilling around with a friend over the dinner table.

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Canapes: Flat bread, Sturia caviar and lemon mascarpone topped with cherry ragout 

Wafer-thin and crackly, the flat bread’s texture comes closer to crackers than bread – sort of like the skin of a very crispy popiah. On it’s own it doesn’t have much taste, but we were supposed to eat it with the salty caviar, a dollop of sour and creamy mascarpone, and balance it out with the sweet cherry ragout – so you have all the flavours packed into one small bite.

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Amuse Bouche:Garden of Greens vs Wild Mushroom Tea, with petit pois, baby leeks, truffle brioche and hollandaise.

One of the few ugly pictures taken with my phone, coz they didn’t provide me with any. I like the deconstructed way the dish was presented, and true to the name, it was like walking through a nice garden, filled with different colours and textures. I particularly like the wild mushroom tea, which was warm and comforting, especially in Genting’s cold weather. The black bits are actually mushrooms from the tea that have been deep fried into a crisp, making them a great snack.

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Starter: Hokkaido scallops, Romanesco cabbage and mint snow 

I love scallops, but can’t always have my fill because they’re so pricey. Good thing the ones here are big, fat and juicy. The cabbage and mint snow was fresh and minty, which brought out the sweetness of the shellfish even more. A very refreshing opening for the heavier main dishes soon to come.

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Soup: Purple Artichoke Soup with Black Truffle and Albali White Wine 

This smooth and creamy soup was so addictive, most of us asked for seconds, even knowing we still had a long way to go for the meal!

Simmered for four hours, the soup slips down your throat and warms the belly. The earthy flavours of truffle and the strong aroma of wine come through exceptionally well, which Chef Mandy attributes to her ‘jar’ – a tank of port wine which she has been keeping truffles in for over a month. Crunchy artichoke bits give the soup texture, so we didn’t feel overwhelmed by the creaminess.

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Another ugly photo (Time to buy iPhone?) of the truffles in port wine, used to make the soup.

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Appetizer: Organic egg at 62 degrees, Sweet Iberico Ham on butternut squash foam 

So after all that, we’re only at the appetizer!? Now I understand why fine dining always comes in miniscule portions. .___.

The egg was lovely – soft, oozy center and bouncy egg white, sitting on a bed of light and airy butternut squash foam. Connoisseurs will know the prized Iberico ham, which is cured and produced in Spain and Portugal. It’s very sweet and rich, since the free-range pigs roam oak forests and their diet impacts the flavour of the meat.

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Main 1: wild caught French sea-bass, Swiss chard and vanilla foam

Finally ! We have made it to the mains 🙂 Seafood lovers will like the sea-bass, which is firm and fresh, seared at the top but soft and juicy at the bottom. The vanilla foam gives it just a hint of sweetness. Admittedly, this wasn’t my favourite coz I’m not a big fan of fish.

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Couer de Boeuf: sorbet of heirloom tomato and plum granite

Served on a big block of ice, the palate cleanser was great for getting our taste buds back on track again. Light, refreshing, with a slightly sour tang similar to assam (tamarind).

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Main 2: Slow cooked Iberico spare ribs, with side of Bluefoot mushroom and Charlotte potatoes 

If you’re looking for flaky, melt-off-the-bone meat, then look no further than this dish. First marinated in salt, pepper and barbecue sauce, the ribs are slow cooked for four hours til tender and soft, then grilled to get a nice, seared crisp on the fat. Cut off a chunk and feel it just melt onto your tongue. Oof.

The side of Bluefoot mushroom is packed with earthy flavour, while the Charlotte potatoes are creamy without being overly rich.

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Dessert 1: Textures of Blood Orange Terrine, Sorbet and a Soft Panna Cotta 

Ending on a sweet (okay not exactly) note is sorbet of blood orange, which has a slightly sour touch which balances out the sweet panna cotta.

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Dessert 2: Guanaja souffle and Valrhona Chocolate 

Last but not least, this chocolate souffle with just the right amount of bitterness, offset by sweet sugar crumbs on the side and which carried the texture of velvety bread pudding.

LTITUDE’s festival menu is priced at RM288 nett per pax and RM448 nett (with wine pairing).