The Hundred-Foot Journey

michelin star

We have increasingly become a nation of foodies. Just look at the TV shows on offer – MasterChef, The Taste, My Kitchen Rules, Top Chef, The Great British Bake Off are all cooking shows that are extremely popular now. There are also food related programs like the now defunct No Reservations, Parts Unknown, Kitchen Nightmares, Man vs Food (Nation) and even odes to excess like Epic Meal Empire.

michelin star chef

That’s not even counting the craft beer movement which has spawned shows like Dark Horse Nation and Brew Dogs. All this has made Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdain (he was a chef at Les Halles before he became a host), Graham Elliot, Heston Blumenthal and other Michelin Star chefs becoming household names. Hollywood has also increasingly come up with movies featuring food as the primary theme – starting from Chocolat (which was the first movie that caught my attention) to documentaries like Jiro Dreams of Sushi (about the 3 Michelin Star Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo).

france michelin star

I admit that most of the programming I watch nowadays are food-related shows. I’ve also eaten at Michelin-starred establishments from Hong Kong to France and I pre-order The Red Guide from Amazon every year.

france

I went to Paris with my better half earlier this year and the primary reason for our trip was to eat at Michelin-starred (and Bib Gourmand) restaurants. We’re both very interested in food, I even do a little cooking myself. I was amazed at the variety and freshness of produce in France – a lot of which we can’t get here.

joel robuchon

We also cooked during our trip and one of the interesting things we saw in Paris was a line of ready-to-eat meals by the 28 Michelin Star chef Joel Robuchon. This isn’t your average TV dinner but gourmet meals that you can just heat up and eat. There’s even one called Les St Jacques au Noilly & Riz Basmati cuisine. It’s a fusion of Indian and French food and that’s what a really intriguing upcoming film is all about.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey is a film produced by Stephen Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey with Lasse Hallström as the director. It’s based on a novel about the Kadam family, who came from India to settle in a picturesque quaint village in France to open an Indian restaurant called Maison Mumbai.

oprah hundred foot journey

They run into the chilly chef owner of Le Saule Pleureur (The Weeping Willow), a Michelin-starred classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Academy Award winning actress Helen Mirren) just a hundred feet away and the her protests against the new Indian restaurant threatens to escalate until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine (and also the beautiful sous chef, Marguerite – played by Charlotte Le Bon) combines to weave magic between their two cultures and imbue the small town with flavors of life that even Madame Mallory can’t ignore.

hundred foot journey scenes

At first Madame Mallory’s culinary rival, she eventually recognizes Hassan’s gift as a chef and takes him under her wing.

hundred foot journey stills

The Hundred-Foot Journey abounds with flavors that burst across the tongue. A stimulating triumph over exile, blossoming with passion and heart, it is a portrayal of two worlds colliding and one young man’s drive to find the comfort of home, in every pot, wherever he may be.

hundred foot journey exclusive

It sounds like a wonderful movie, and it’s from the award-winning director of Chocolat! I’ve read stories about the “back of the house” like Kitchen Confidential and this production is something I’m really looking forward to! It has all the elements that makes for a great food related movie, and if you’re interested in cuisine, eating, and theater, you’ll love this production.

Watch the trailer here! Life’s greatest journey begins with the first step. #The100FootJourneyMY

hundred foot journey photos

The Hundred-Foot Journey will be released in theaters on August 28, 2014. For more information, visit http://100footjourneymovie.com. Like the official Facebook page and follow their official Twitter account to interact!

Contest:
Why do you want to watch The Hundred-Foot Journey? Comment on the blog post below and the best answer will win a pair of tickets in season pass to the movie! Please include your email address in your comment (make sure you fill in the Email bit) so I can get in touch with you! :)

Aussie Story @ Sibu Bus Terminal

aussie story sibu

Aussie Story is new – very, very new. It has only been open for 4 days and we went on the fourth day of their operations. No newspaper advertising, no Facebook/Twitter/Instagram page, just pure old school word-of-mouth accompanied their soft launch and it’s been packed every single night ever since they opened their doors!

The congratulatory wreaths that celebrated the launch were still fresh! We didn’t know about the place, we chanced upon the restaurant by accident and decided to go in and take a peek at the menu. It’s a very nice place – you can say that the warm, soft-incandescent lit interior called out to us on a rainy day. smirk

aussie story restaurant

The place is a joint venture between two friends who’ve been classmates since their school days. Fredrick Wong is the barista and he’s in charge of the front-of-house while his partner Johnny Yong is the head chef and manages the back-of-house. I think this division of labor suits their personalities well, according to the long conversations we had with the both of them.

Aussie Story is still in the soft-launch stage so a lot of the items on their menu is unavailable, like the pita bread that I was interested in. Thus, we asked for recommendations and got:

Toasted French Loaf with Cheesy Egg Salad (RM 7.50)

toasted french loaf

This is the appetizer that Johnny the chef suggested. He almost insisted on it, so Arthur and I ordered it to see what the fuss is all about. It’s a baguette that’s been sliced and covered with melted cheese, finely chopped cubes of hard-boiled eggs, and an acidic element (the chef hinted it was based on the Thousand Island dressing).

However, it came out so fast I could see that only 2 of the 3 pieces had been browned properly. I don’t mind the chewy texture of the bread but I think it could have been on the oven/toaster/grill for a couple of minutes more so the Maillard reaction and caramelization would have been more even.

I thought I would dislike this pale looking appetizer but I thought it was delicious! The cheese and mayo works very well together and you can still taste and feel the texture of the tiny cubes of hard boiled eggs in the topping. There’s also a sour note which really made the dish!

The flavors works very well together and we both enjoyed it very much.

Irish Stewed Lamb Shank (RM 38)

irish lamb shank

I was surprised when this came out almost after the appetizer. It has barely been 5 minutes since we placed our order! The lamb shank is slightly smaller than the ones that I’m used to seeing but it tasted alright. The meat fell off the bone when picked at with a fork – a sign that it’s been slow-cooked to perfection.

I also liked how they left the cartilage on the top of the shank – the best part of ordering the lamb shank, I reckon. The mashed potatoes were good and I really liked their purple cabbage coleslaw.

However, one minor quibble I had was about the sauce – it was pretty evident that the gravy that came with the lamb shank isn’t the same reduced gravy that the lamb shank was cooked in – it tasted too watery, as if the gravy was sourced from generic stock and poured over the dish instead of the actual reduction from the lamb shank pot.

British style Fish & Chips (RM 15)

british fish chips

The fish and chips were made with good fish and the batter was seasoned well. It’s great value for the price too, since you get a huge fillet of fish (which is not the 50% filler, 50% fish abomination that’s been passed off as Dory fillets – they use proper fish fillets here).

The dipping sauce keeps up with the times too! They don’t use tartare sauce (despite what it states on the menu), it’s a pet peeve of mine when F&B outlets do, it’s so 90’s school canteen and it’s usually used to cover the taste of bad fish. Restaurants have found better combinations to go with good catches now and the last time I remember having tartare sauce was during my high school in Christchurch, NZ when the school canteen would serve fish sandwiches slathered with tartare sauce.

I’m sure I’ve had tartare sauce in bad local fish and chip outlets since but if I had, it wasn’t memorable enough to remember.

aussie story fish

Aussie Story uses a mayo based egg infused dip which I thought was very nice. It reminded me slightly of the dill aioli I had in CREST Café, Birubi Beach recently.

I think it’s actually the *same sauce* that goes on top of the baguette appetizer, but without the acidic component. The purple cabbage coleslaw is also the same as the one served in the lamb shank. Overall, I quite liked the dish.

white chocolate
White Chocolate Drink (RM 6.50)

I think it’s smart of them to incorporate similar and reusable things across dishes to minimize prep time. Fredrick and Johnny recounted the first day they opened and the trials of having to serve a full house, and having to comp a lot of tables since they couldn’t keep up with the pace of service.

One minor feedback that I have is that the appetizers and the main courses all came out at the same time – there’s no time for us to savor the appetizers and then wait for the main courses to arrive. Everything just came out almost immediately, it was so fast it made me slightly dubious on how they can cook everything to order.

CoffeX Bristot

Fredrick did address this when I raised my concerns though – it seems that Sibu people like having all their dishes on the table at the same time so they can share it. There’s no concept of waiting for a 3-course dinner here and I have to agree with him. It’s not Aussie Story’s fault, it’s the culture here and they have to accommodate for it lest people complain about their food not arriving promptly.

The service is impeccable and they really want to learn – we were solicited on our views of every dish. I told the owners that I was very impressed that the head chef and the front-of-house manager would take the time to go to every table and talk to the patrons about the food. We got all our drinks comped by Fredrick so the bill only came out to a discounted RM 60 for the food.

I would highly recommend this place due to the service – their PR is second to none and their food is pretty good overall. It’s up there with places like Tom’s Too but the service here is spectacular. It’s their passion after all, and I went back Saturday night with my dad to try and get a table, but the place was totally full.

aussie story

I really enjoyed the ambiance of the place and it’s the best service I’ve ever had in Sibu – totally customer oriented. Fredrick insisted on serving us coffee (they use CoffeX and Bristot) on the house when I asked to pay the bill too – which is a nice touch. There is a reason why the restaurant is called Aussie Story but I’ll let Fredrick tell the tale since it sounds more passionate coming from him – it is, after all, his story. :)

Aussie Story
Sibu Bus Terminal
(opposite 3° Celsius)

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