Flaming Melt @ Kota Damansara

flaming melt

I’ve watched this grilled cheese café with great interest. I live around the corner and usually eat here at night so I’ve seen it grown from an empty lot being painted and renovated to the opening day. However, I had to go back to Sibu to finalize some stuff for my late mom so we didn’t visit until a couple of days ago.

flaming melt kota damansara

The Flaming Melt is a self-service restaurant (kinda, sorta). You order at the fast food style counter with a very familiar ordering experience for quick service restaurants aficionados and the food gets delivered to your table. The service was really good for a QSR – the Japanese-style Welcomes and Goodbyes are in full effect here (and it is a Japanese custom, you just don’t holler like that in the States, diner or deli).

flaming melt menu

The friendly lady behind the counter asked us what we wanted and we asked for recommendations. We finally went with the two best-sellers:

BBQ Pulled Chicken Melt (RM 11.90)
Homemade BBQ Pulled Chicken, Mac ‘N’ Cheese, Cheddar

BBQ Pulled Chicken Melt

My better half had this (actually we each had half of each other’s order since the sandwiches are conveniently sliced in half for sharing) and I quite liked it. You can add RM 2.90 for a soda (the usual suspects) but we opted to order a la carte and get a milkshake instead. The chicken was slightly dry but I love the addition of macaroni and cheese to the sandwich!

That’s exactly how I like mine! The creamy addition of mac and cheese really made this sandwich, although I would have preferred a more generous helping. It’s still good comfort food.

Tomato Sriracha Chicken Melt (RM 11.90)
Chicken, Chopped Tomatoes, Sriracha, Cheddar

Tomato Sriracha Chicken Melt

This is as Americana as it gets. A grilled cheese sandwich with Sriracha sauce! Sriracha sauce is a hot sauce that is popular in the US. This is the green capped rooster sauce made by Huy Fong Foods, not the generic ones you actually get in Thailand (which tastes different). You can add RM 3 for your bread to be changed to wholemeal.

I was lamenting the fact that the sandwiches don’t come with some type of side starch like French fries but you can get that as a side order and the red cabbage coleslaw is delicious!

S’mores Melt (RM 10.90)
Homemade Strawberry Compote, Marshmallows, Nutella

Smores Melt

I got this one to share since I wanted a dessert sandwich to finish our lunch. They can actually serve it after you’re done with your “mains” upon request! I asked them to prepare it only when we’re done and that’s what they did, which I thought was nice in a QSR. The marshmallows goes very well with the homemade strawberry compote and it’s all dusted with sugar. I couldn’t taste the Nutella though.

Best eaten while hot, the melted marshmallows are heavenly. I just wish there were (s)more. smirk

oreo milkshake

We also ordered an Oreo Milkshake (RM 7.90) to share. Flaming Melt has a variety of shakes and sodas and this one came with a full Oreo cookie on top. It was suitably rich, while not the best milkshake I had, it did hit the spot nicely. Our lunch came up to RM 42.60 and we also got a RM 2 coupon off our next order.

flaming melt bill

Flaming Melt has a RM 8.90 breakfast special for their set of The Classic (mozzarella, cheddar) with tea or coffee on weekday mornings. It’s too bad this outlet doesn’t serve pork coz I felt that it limited the choices of their grilled cheese sandwiches. Flaming Melt is billing itself as Everything Grilled Cheese and I think they’re trying very hard to get there.

flaming melt grilled cheese

It’s the Malaysian version of Spencer Rubin’s Melt Shop – at least, the signage and color scheme reminded me of that Manhattan grilled cheese restaurant which put sinful comfort food back on the trendy food map.

Flaming Melt
17-1, Jalan PJU 5/10
Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara
03-6150 4248

Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams mailed all the way from Australia!

a.k.a. The incredible Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams Australian adventure!

adriano zumbo red velvet tim tams

I had the first trio of Adriano Zumbo’s limited edition Tim Tams when I was in Sydney a couple of months back, and when I heard that he just did *another* collaboration with Arnott’s Tim Tams, I knew I had to get it mailed to me (at considerable expense).

red velvet cream cheese

The latest collaboration between pâtissier extraordinare Adriano Zumbo with Arnott’s is Red Velvet and it’s so delicious that words does not do it justice. It’s magnificent!

adraino zumbo red velvet

But first, I also want to tell you the story behind this rather interesting experiment. I have mailed various snacks back when I was studying in Australia and I know it can be done (without a cold bag) but I half expected the new Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams to be fully melted when I got it.

adriano zumbo new red velvet tim tams

I rallied my old friend Karen who’s living in Melbourne to mail these treasures to me, since I’ve left Australia and could not hand carry them on my return flight. I just had to have the latest Adriano Zumbo Tim Tams – I not only had the first set of three, I bought a whole lot of his Zumbarons back and we used his macaron baking kit too (post about that soon).

adraino zumbo red velvet australia

Karen is someone I’ve known for practically my entire life – we went to school together and we ever had a class play called Okana featuring her as the lead when we were 14. That was just before I left for New Zealand and we met up again when I was doing my college and uni in Melbourne. I remember celebrating her birthday in Dion (a nice Greek restaurant on Lonsdale St) before going to Moomba in 2003. I spent 5 years there – she never left!

Thus, I knew I could count on her and sent her some simple instructions on how to get the Tim Tams to me:

huai bin

smirk

Okay, maybe not that simple. Here’s her reply:

karen lau

Haha! In my defence, my better half is a huge fan of Adriano Zumbo too and I wanted it to arrive in mint condition so we can open it together. I was more than pleased – the way Karen packed the Tim Tams made them so structurally sound (due to the inner plastic tray stacking and resisting external pressures) that it not only arrived without breaking, the chocolate did not melt at all.

australia post

Thanks to Karen and David who took the trouble to get them and send it over with my simple complicated and excessively verbose instructions. :D

limited edition red velvet tim tams

I knew the Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams weighs 165 grams each from the Coles site. I thought I could get 5 of them (165 g x 5 = 825 g) into a box and still stay below 1 kg but it’s a good thing I didn’t push it and settled for 4 coz the weight came up to 0.912 kg!

There was no huge temperature fluctuations and I kept them in my permanently air-conditioned bedroom for several days before me and my dear opened the box.

limited edition red velvet

It was a very happy unboxing! The fact that I could eat the newest and latest Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams was more than awesome, we had looked forward to this package for a long time. I honestly didn’t expect it to taste great despite all the (good humored) baiting I got on Facebook since I expressed my interest from Cyd (another one of my ex-classmates).

How do the new Adriano Zumbo limited edition Red Velvet Tim Tams taste like?

My verdict on the taste:

red velvet tim tams

I didn’t think the Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tams would taste this awesome. It’s honestly the best Tim Tams I have ever had! I’ve only really liked Salted Caramel out of his first collaboration trio and my favorite Tim Tam flavor was Turkish Delight (until now).

red velvet us

My better half says it tastes *exactly* like eating red velvet cake. I thought it was a cross between eating red velvet cake and a Tim Tam. Adriano Zumbo did well in this second collaboration – it surpasses the original triplet of limited edition Tim Tams. It’s rich, decadent and balanced well. The buttery red velvet Tim Tams pairs up with the cream cheese (!!!) center to produce an irresistible biscuit.

The new Red Velvet Tim Tams by Adriano Zumbo comes in the standard 9-biscuit pack, unlike the “Treat Pack only” (5-biscuit) format of his previous collaboration with Tim Tam.

adriano zumbo red velvet cream cheese

It’s really delicious and well worth the postage to get them here. I spent AUD 32.50 on postage and each pack of Adriano Zumbo Red Velvet Tim Tam retailed for AUD 3.49. That comes up to AUD 49.49 in total (or about RM 144). Thus, each pack cost me RM 36. That’s RM 4 per Tim Tam biscuit (!) but I’ll happily get a second batch over in a heartbeat. Don’t miss out if you ever see them around, the latest Arnott’s Tim Tams x Adriano Zumbo collaboration will blow you away with the velvety red velvet cake inspired Tim Tam with the buttery cream cheese center!

Mid-Autumn 2014 Mooncake Roundup: Dragon Fruit with Coconut Single Yolk, beetroot infused Crimson Opera, and traditional Foochow lard mooncakes!

crimson opera

We bought a lot of mooncakes this year – so much so that there’s a lot of leftovers still sitting in the pantry! The Mid-Autumn Festival festival is based on a rather interesting legend:

There was an noble archer called Hou Yi who shoots down 9 of the 10 suns scorching the Earth and was hailed as a hero and pronounced King by the people. However, he eventually he grew corrupted during his reign and became obsessed with finding the Elixir of Life (for immortality) and coveted it for himself. His wife, knowing that he has become an evil ruler, decided not to give it to him and swallowed it herself to save the world from her tyrannical husband.

donutes mooncakes

That was the version I was familiar with – it was told by my grandparents. It’s also listed under Mid-Autumn mythology in Wikipedia. My great-grandmother was a great believer in legends and *swore* I would get my ear cut if I dared looked at the full moon during Mid-Autumn Festival. Apparently the magnificence of Yi’s wife would somehow reach down from the celestial heavens and slice off the ear of an innocent 7 year old boy just coz he wondered what the bright light was.

mooncake 2014

Okay, I was actually quite naughty and stared stubbornly at the moon in spite of her admonitions and my great-grandma (God bless her soul) actually took out a great big pair of tailoring scissors and seriously wanted to cut my ear lobe off (!!!) to make her point. Fortunately, my uncles saw the severity of the situation and took the scissors away from her. I still remember her story though. Yeah, I was raised with lots of TLC. smirk

mooncakes 2014

It’s like how the original Grimm Brothers stories were all very twisted and realistic (with a veritable cast of regular people with all their flaws) but children’s storybooks and eventually Disney changed them all to become easy-to-digest nice stories without any of the nastiness.

I digress, here’s this year’s mooncake roundup! :)

1. Donutes Taiwanese Mung Bean Mooncakes

taiwanese mooncakes

These come in a box of 9 pieces for RM 49.50. There are two flavors – Mung Bean Original and Mung Bean Crisp Garlic. The latter is quite interesting and it’s the first box of mooncakes I got for my better half’s parents.

2. Dragon Fruit with Coconut Single Yolk

dragon fruit coconut

I found this to be the most interesting from Tai Thong’s offerings this year. It’s a dragon fruit flavored mooncake with a single yolk inside – what makes it intriguing is the coconut jam (kaya) surrounding the preserved egg yolk. I was quite pleased to find the flavor combination works very well.

3. Shanghai Egg Yolk Mooncakes

yong sheng shanghai mooncakes

This one I bought in Sibu from the import speciality grocer Ta Kiong for RM 49. There are 8 mini Shanghai mooncakes inside and they’re individually wrapped in twin packs.

egg yolk pies

It’s made by Yong Sheng and they’ve been around since 1952 – before Malaysia’s Independence Day! Each of the miniature pies have a full sized egg yolk inside and I gave them to my dear and she quite liked it. The black sesame topping goes very well with the flaky pastry.

homemade shanghai mooncakes

I also have a home-made version from Fairy Flower Cake Shop which comes in a box of 6. Surprisingly, the home made ones are quite expensive since they’re small batch.

4. Starbucks Mid-Autumn Mooncakes 2014

starbucks mooncake

I wrote about the Starbucks Mid-Autumn Mooncakes in a previous post. These are miniature 90 gram mooncakes – slightly less than ½ the size of regular mooncakes.

5. D24 and Musang King Mooncakes

durian mooncakes 2014

My dear kindly bought me two durian flavored mooncakes coz I really like durians and I really like mooncakes. We’ve had them last year and we found them tasty – it’s in the 2013 Mid-Autumn Mooncake Roundup.

6. Traditional Foochow Lard Mooncakes

jing su gao

These are called jing su gao and they’re traditional Foochow lard mooncakes. They don’t have no fancy snowskin, chocolate or ice cream mooncakes back in the days. This was all they had. You’ll notice that all three (3) packs are different despite looking the same. It’s made by 3 distinct bakers – Sin Hing Leong Cake Store, Kinsen Trading Co and Fairy Flower (Ko Kee) Cake Store.

foochow mooncakes

The middle one looks pleasingly brownish-yellow like freshly baked cookies while the outer two are a pale white. It’s due to the lard vs butter content. My favorite would be from Fairy Flower (Ko Kee) Cake Store – it has the right combination of lard and butter to my taste buds. These Foochow mooncakes are more like biscuits (or cookies) with a crumbly texture and a distinctive taste of lard.

7. Taste of Crimson Opera

taste of crimson opera

This is Casahana’s flagship mooncake of 2014! It costs RM 19.50 per mooncake and we bought it the day before Mid-Autumn Festival. They also have a charcoal black sesame brown sugar omochi mooncake called Dark Knight but I decided to go for their signature one – expansively named “Taste of Crimson Opera”.

beetroot cheese chocolate

There’s a burst of beetroot and cocoa followed by the tartness of cheese and creamy white chocolate. There’s nothing traditional about this mooncake – all of the 4 ingredients (beetroot, white chocolate, cocoa, cheese) are not something you’ll usually find in a mooncake.

beetroot mooncake

The intricate floral pattern on the top of the mooncake is beautiful too! I was pleased to find that the beetroot is also baked into the skin (so the color isn’t artificial) and it’s not too thick. I would have thought the flowers would make the skin thicker but it’s actually part of the skin. This gets Best of 2014 from us! :)

Starbucks Mid-Autumn Mooncakes 2014

Starbucks Mid-Autumn Mooncake Collection 2014

We saw this while walking around the mall one day. I didn’t realize Starbucks sells mooncakes and the barista told me they’ve been doing so for three (3) years – just not during Mid-Autumn Festival. I laughed at that and asked when they actually sold it, and it turned out to be the Lunar New Year (!!!). This is the first time they’ve sold mooncakes at the *right time* during Mid-Autumn Festival.

Starbucks Exclusive D24 Durian Mooncake

The mooncakes are RM 48++ per box or RM 288++ for 2 boxes in a gift set with a pair of Starbucks mugs. The gift set also has the Starbucks Exclusive D24 Durian Mooncake. My better half bought a box for my dad, which I brought back home to Sibu and I bought a box for my dear so she could try them.

Starbucks Signature Banana Chocolate Mooncake

These are not full-sized mooncakes – it’s mini mooncakes!

Here’s the Starbucks Mid-Autumn Mooncake Collection 2014:

Apricot Hazelnut Latte Mooncake

Starbucks Mooncakes 2014

This is a very interesting mooncake – the skin is made of aromatic Starbucks VIA coffee! That’s their brand of ready to brew coffee which retails for RM 28 for 5 packs. I’ve had them before, you just need to add water and it’s an ingeniously stable way to add real coffee into the baked mooncake skin.

Apricot Hazelnut Latte Mooncake

There’s also hazelnut lotus paste inside with bits of chunky apricot and the faux “egg yolk center” is made of cream cheese soft filling. I love the strong taste of coffee and was wondering where it came from before realizing it’s in the skin! It’s an exciting treat that adds indulgence in every bite – a real winner!

Chewy Nutty Cranberry Mooncake

Starbucks Chewy Nutty Cranberry Mooncake

This tastes eerily like the fruits with nuts and ham traditional mooncakes! It has a similar texture and if there was a blind taste taste, I might be hard pressed to differentiate the two, if not for the slight tang of cranberry and the absence of lard.

Chewy Nutty Cranberry Mooncake

I think it’s meant to be this way – the mooncake is jammed with cranberries, orange peels/zest, a variety of nuts and melon kernel seeds with the savory twist of a salted egg center. It’s rich in taste and texture – a halal version of a classic.

Signature Banana Chocolate Mooncake

Starbucks Mooncake Collection 2014

This is their signature mooncake of 2014 and it contains banana in lieu of the traditional salted egg center. It’s quite an interesting flagship offering – the pastry skin is made of chocolate and there’s bits of actual banana in the center.

Signature Banana Chocolate Mooncake

It sounds very simple but the taste and texture works very well together – the creamy chocolate lotus filling, the baked chocolate pastry skin and the addition of real bananas are a treat!

Green Tea Azuki Mooncake

Starbucks Green Tea Azuki Mooncake

This tastes suspiciously (or refreshingly) like the Green Tea Latte drink in their outlets. That’s probably coz they used the same premium green tea in the lotus filling. There’s also the classic combination of red bean paste and white kernels in the filling, making it a perfect combination of Japanese inspired flair.

I really liked how the matcha is baked into the pastry skin. I’ve been quite annoyed at mooncakes that promises the moon (haha) but doesn’t deliver – mediocre tasteless baked skins with only the fillings as innovation. I’m glad Starbucks went the harder route – actually baking flavors into the mooncake pastry.

Starbucks Mooncakes

I thought the Starbucks Mid-Autumn Collection 2014 was quite interesting. It’s also very competitively priced (at least at first glance) but they’re actually miniature mooncakes instead of full-sized ones. We also got a couple of vouchers for Starbucks drinks included and each box came up to slightly over RM 50 after taxes and all.

Adriano Zumbo limited edition Tim Tams

new adriano zumbo timtams

Adriano Zumbo has teamed up with Arnott’s Tim Tams to create three (3) beautiful new flavors for the 50th anniversary of Tim Tams. Yeah, it’s the iconic Tim Tams 50th birthday! I was quite chuffed when I read about this in the Coles blog – I had planned to get heaps of Adriano Zumbo macarons to bring back during my trip to Sydney earlier this year, and now I can get even more less-perishable items from the master pâtissier!

I’ve loved Tim Tams ever since I started studying in New Zealand when I was 15. It was my go-to snack when I was doing college and uni in Melbourne and I’ve always been on the lookout for new flavors. This is even better – it’s a collaboration between Arnott’s Tim Tams and Adriano Zumbo! I’m going to call them zumbotams. smirk

adriano zumbo tim tams

The three new limited edition flavors only comes in the Treat Pack (5 biscuits) format. It’s much smaller than the regular 9-biscuit pack and the new packaging was introduced not that long ago – I’ve seen the AUD 1.89 packs in our previous trip to Melbourne last year. I bought as much as I could stuff in my suitcase and brought it back home to eat with my better half. :)

The three limited edition Adriano Zumbo Tim Tam Flavors are:

Salted Caramel

Salted Caramel

This is my favorite out of the three. Adriano Zumbo’s Salted Caramel Tim Tams are deliciously done – it tastes quite salty, they definitely did not skimp on the salt here. You can immediately taste the fleur de sel as soon as you bite into it and the aftertaste it leaves is savory. This is a perfect Tim Tam for those who don’t really like sweets coz it comes off as more salty than sweet.

However, this can also be a problem for some people. My better half didn’t like this at all – too salty, she said. I did though, I enjoyed it tremendously! I’ve always liked salted caramel – so much so that I can’t eat regular caramel anymore, I’ll miss that salty bite and this limited edition Adriano Zumbo Tim Tam has that in spades.

Choc Brownie

Choc Brownie

My better half’s favorite flavor! It’s a chocolate brownie inspired Tim Tam and Adriano Zumbo has done well in making a Tim Tam taste like a brownie. Chocoholics would love this to bits – it’s a very sweet zumbotam. ;) It’s rich and thick!

I personally did not really like the combination of flavors – I felt it was a little too one dimensional. It’s sweet piled on top of sweet but everyone’s taste buds are different (which is why I like the savory salted caramel so much and gave all the Adriano Zumbo Choc Brownie Tim Tams to my dear) so this might be just the right amount of sucre for some.

Raspberry White Choc

Raspberry White Choc

Now this is one interesting flavor, and it’s the one most commonly seen in the Arnott’s Tim Tams x Adriano Zumbo collaboration. The Raspberry White Choc Tim Tam by Adriano Zumbo is coated with white chocolate and there’s a line of fruity raspberry compote filling inside the biscuit. I bit off the top bit and the bottom bit and did the Tim Tam Slam with it and it tasted pretty good that way!

I just love drinking cold milk through a Tim Tam. This is a rather divisive flavor though – I notice that people either love it or hate it and the latter usually describes it as too artificially flavored. I did find the combination of raspberry with white chocolate challenging to my palate but it’s a really interesting flavor.

tim tams adriano zumbo

I enjoyed the opportunity to sample all the three different limited edition Tim Tams by Adriano Zumbo. I thought it was quite a successful collaboration and having the famous pâtissier create new flavors for Arnott’s is ingenious! Too bad these only comes in the 5-biscuit Treat Packs – but I guess that’s a blessing in disguise too, lest I be tempted to eat the entire pack all at once! :)

Interesting fact: Tim Tams were named after a horse that won the 1958 Kentucky Derby.

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)

RM 16 bowl of Heng Hua Spicy Assam Tom Yam Fish Noodles

henghua assam tom yam noodles

There are a lot of fish and prawn noodles in town but none quite like this. The most (in)famous one would be the RM 35 bowl of fish noodles from Min Kwong. There’s also a RM 15 bowl of prawn noodles in the small and hilariously named town of Jakar. However, the closest tasting one would be the justifiably popular RM 14 bowl of Asam Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodles in Glory Cafe, Sarikei.

It was my dad who suggested this place for dinner. He’s a Heng Hua and this is a Heng Hua owned coffee shop, and since it’s a small community, we might be somewhat related. smirk

sieng hing cafe

The first question the lady asked me when I ordered this RM 16 bowl of goodness is whether I can eat spicy food. I replied in the affirmative, taking pride in my cast iron stomach (and tongue) and the chilli flakes in the broth gave me the sniffles and nearly drove me to tears…in a good way.

I asked why they use a thick kind of rice vermicelli noodles called hung ang in the local dialect and it’s coz that’s the best pairing for the dish. The thick but short noodles doesn’t clump together and unlike wheat based noodles, the rice vermicelli noodles is the perfect vehicle for *transporting the broth* to your palate.

henghua assam rice vermicelli

There’s a lot of space between the rice vermicelli – you can’t really pick them up with chopsticks without large gaps – so the spicy asam tom yam broth gets into the crevices and it allows the full flavor impact to hit you.

cat
Resident cat approves of this nomz!

The fish is a mixture of tapah and patin and there’s easily 3-4 times the amount in the regular Foochow twice cooked noodles I had for RM 14 at Y2K Cafe. There’s also generous amounts of lemongrass, egg, tomatoes, chilli flakes, baby corn, fungus and a special type of pickled salted vegetable in the asam tom yam soup.

assam tom yam noodles

It left me sweating but very satisfied when I finished the dish. They also sell a large prawn version for RM 26. The generous amounts of fish and the ultra spicy broth made the Sieng Hing Cafe fish noodles one of the best gastronomic finds in Sibu. It’s perfect if you have a blocked nose since the spice will clear up your sinuses in no time! :)

3 uniquely Sibu dishes

I’m back in my hometown, eating delicious food you can really only get here – at least, if you want the authentic stuff! :)

1. Char Kueh Tiaw Omelet

CKT omelet

Yeah, that’s what I’m calling it! It has been around for over 40 years (no kidding) and this particular way of cooking it is a Sibu institution. I first ate it as a kid in Kwok Ching Coffee Shop (now defunct) and this is the son carrying on the legacy, cooking it the exact same way.

How do you get char kueh tiaw into an omelet? The CKT is cooked first and even though it’s a simple dish – spring onion and bean sprouts are the only ingredients – it tastes superb in its simplicity.

kueh tiaw omelet

The CKT is dropped on a cracked egg on a hot wok, flipped and served. This technique has been copied by many other cooks in Sibu but there is only one heir of the original and he does it best! This stall is located at Aloha Cafe and it’s only RM 3.30.

2. Twice Cooked Tapah Fish Noodles

foochow fish noodles

There are RM 35 bowls of this stuff out there. I had that with my better half when we came back last time at Min Kwong. I can’t justify eating that all the time so this is an equally good (if not better) version from Y2K Cafe. It’s RM 12 and is cooked in the traditional Foochow style – the noodles are first *fried* before being *stewed* in a hearty soup.

tapah fish

That means you get both the Maillard reaction and caramelization on the noodles from frying in the fiery hot wok, making it taste wonderful, before it’s softened in the rich seafood broth. Infinitely satisfying, and a local classic. You can drink the wonderfully tasty soup after you’ve finished your noodles too – it’s full of flavor!

3. Kampua Mee with Pork Tripe and Pig Liver Soup

kampua noodles

Yup, this is our famous kampua noodles. I always like to add a bowl of pig liver soup to my order (RM 4) coz it makes the noodles taste even better with that rich, mineral-y taste that liver has. I also like pork tripe soup (RM 5) coz of the chewy texture and the acidic dipping sauce it comes in.

pork liver soup

It’s a perfect side dish(es) for kampua noodles – the offal works very well with the slices of BBQ pork in the noodle dish and I always love drinking the soup after I’m done – alternating between the clear pork tripe soup and the dark iron-y pig liver soup with tendrils of liver. It’s always the *first* thing I eat when I come back and this one was at Yum Yum Cafe.

Dinner by Michelin Star Le Gavroche’s Chef Alexy Fuchs Malaysian visit

michelin star

It’s Chef Alexy Fuchs first visit to Malaysia and I booked a table for two on Saturday night at Mezze Bistro in KL, where he will be cooking for a week. I wanted to buy my better half a good dinner experience – it’s been a while since our last 2 Michelin star meal at Le Relais Louis XIII in Paris earlier this year and I thought it’ll make a nice dinner date.

michelin star kl

He came over to Malaysia to collaborate with the resident head chef of Mezze Bistro, Yves Pierre Renou, to showcase the cuisine from their home in Alsace, France. There is a similarly named restaurant in London by Michel Roux Jr. with Two Michelin Star dining. This Le Gavroche is located in Strasbourg, France and is helmed by the husband-and-wife team of Nathalie and Benoit Fuchs.

bread basket

Le Gavroche is a One Michelin Star establishment and Alexy Fuchs is their son and chef. I was really keen to check out the food since he is hand carrying a lot of French produce during his flight over so it’s an awesome chance to experience a Michelin star restaurant chef cooking in Malaysia.

Amuse-bouche

Roquette Gazpacho with Fromage Blanc and Endives / Beetroot Discs with Whipped Goat’s Cheese

Roquette Gazpacho

I really like this amuse-bouche. It’s an arugula gazpacho served in a cocktail glass, which I thought sounded really promising for the rest of the night. My better half was a little dubious about how rocket can work, considering the bitter taste of the leaves. It’s blended with fromage blanc (literally white cheese) which works very well in cutting down the sheer bitterness of the greens.

beetroot disc

I also enjoyed the little discs of beetroot that produced a nice little crunch with the creamy topping of goat’s cheese. The two goes very well together – the Alsace vinegar in the gazpacho balances the flavors in this two-component amuse-bouche.

Entrées

Seared Foie Gras with Roasted Peanuts (RM 85)

foie gras

This is foie gras that Chef Alexy Fuchs personally hand carried all the way from France. I couldn’t tell if it was duck or goose foie gras and even experts like Daguin have difficulties telling the difference unless they’re both plated side by side. We have been to France and both are called foie gras in France – foie gras de canard for duck foie gras and foie gras d’oie for goose foie gras. It should be noted that 80% of foie gras produced in France is now duck foie gras.

However, I was told that this is goose foie gras – the real deal – and I don’t doubt it. The lightly seared generous slices of foie gras is rich, silky, buttery and melt in your mouth. It’s rich and it’s fatty – the contrast between the browned crust and barely solid center is divine! It’s almost disappears on your tongue into creamy goodness as soon as you pop it in your mouth.

My dear chose this starter since I’ll have my own foie gras in the very classic French dish Tournedos Rossini as my main. I have eaten a lot of foie gras preparations – from pate to mi-cuit and all the way up to whole foie gras and I have to say that this rates as one of the better ones that I’ve had.

It’s no coincidence that Alsace is one of France’s great foie gras producing areas. Chef Alexy Fuchs flew in from that region, bringing the Alsatian foie gras in, so I’m glad we ate it! The apricots at the bottom of the dish went really well with the flavors of the pan-fried foie gras.

Monkfish Carpaccio with Fresh Herbs & Candied Lemon Marmalade (RM 64)

monkfish carpaccio

I love monkfish and I love raw monkfish even better! It has to really fresh to serve as a carpaccio instead of a ceviche. This is a dish I am 100% certain that Chef Alexy Fuchs prepared himself coz I walked into the kitchen while he was slicing the monkfish.

This is my entrée and I really enjoyed it. I saw that everyone else at the fully packed dinner service ordered the foie gras (probably coz proper foie gras isn’t very common here) but I was very happy with my monkfish carpaccio. I asked my better half to eat this before her starter coz the flavors are much milder and she gave her nod of approval too.

I actually preferred my monkfish carpaccio – the wonderfully intense citrus flavors in the marmalade dotted all over the plate makes it a joy to spear a few slivers of monkfish to smear on the candied lemon before letting the taste combination hit my tongue. It’s wonderfully balanced and a great entrée to my heavier main.

Mains

Beef Tournedos, seared foie gras, paired with summer vegetables confit & veal reduction (RM 160)

Tournedos Rossini

Beef Tournedos is an extremely classic French steak dish. Tournedos Rossini usually consists of a good filet mignon topped with a slice of fresh whole pan-fried foie gras. It’s the most expensive item on the menu but it’s something I wanted to order as soon as I saw it since I’ve had it before and it was awesome!

beef tournadoes

This rendition didn’t disappoint – the steak was cooked perfectly medium rare, with a nice and pink interior. It’s also very juicy and even my better half, who isn’t a huge fan of beef, enjoyed a bite from my mains. I like how the foie gras is placed over the dish – the buttery and silky pan-fried liver almost acts like a sauce when you slice a bit of it to go with a chunk of prime filet mignon.

I liked the mini vegetables garnishing the plate too, but the hero of the dish is hands-down the well cooked steak with a decadent slice of foie gras on top.

Pan-fried Turbot, served with bouillabaise, fennel and toast (RM 128)

turbot

This is my better half’s order. The turbot is excellent – moist and delicious! I like how it’s stacked on top of toast too. I felt the flavors worked very well and I only have one bone to pick (pun intended) – there’s cartilage left on the fish!

That’s usually an unforgivable sin in haute cuisine.

panfried turbot

I got it on my first bite when my dear cut some turbot for me to eat and had to gracefully spit it out on my napkin. She didn’t get any cartilage in the next few bites but caught some on the last bite. I felt that the prep cooks should have done a better job at this – it’s not bones at least, but it detracts from the overall enjoyment of the meal.

Quail stuffed with Crayfish, served with Potato Puree and Crayfish Coulis (RM 98)

quail crayfish

I decided to order ANOTHER main to share! It’s not everyday we go out for a romantic dinner with a chef from a Michelin star restaurant cooking so I thought it’ll be nice to stuff ourselves…and it was the best decision I ever made!

The quail is absolutely fabulous!

There’s no other word that does it justice. It’s our favorite dish of the night! The quail is deboned and seasoned to perfection (it’s really hard to get those small bones, trust me) and cooked just right. Overcooked quail is really inedible – check out the ignorant and lazy street vendors butchering the small bird at Pasar Ramadan and you might think quail is a tough, dry little bird. Wrong!

crayfish stuffed quail

It’s succulent and moist and I was pleased to see that it was still pink in the center. The crayfish stuffing was to die for – simply delectable. There’s a VERY generous amount of Rhine River crayfish inside the quail. Magnifique! Everything in the dish works well, from the mashed potatoes to the little crayfish for you to suck the head juices out of and everything is on the plate for a reason – to rock your world!

It certainly made our night! Best dish ever, compliments to the chef.

Desserts

Passionfruit Pannacotta (RM 22)

passionfruit pannacotta

This is my better half’s choice since she really enjoys eating panna cotta. There’s an intensely acidic passionfruit puree inside, which really wakes you up like nothing else! I felt that the two goes very well together and we both enjoyed this dessert – the panna cotta was just the right consistency too!

There’s also a quill of grilled pineapple that acts as a garnish which surprisingly tastes really yummy too!

It’s turns out that no one else ordered dessert around us – we were the only ones, which is a bit of a shame, considering it’s priced pretty well.

Pineapple & Mango Streusel with Coconut Sorbet (RM 35)

chocolate macaroon

This is actually written wrong on the menu. I was confused when the dish came to me. I asked the waitress if she got the order wrong and Ling Ang came over to tell me that it was the right dessert – the menu was printed erroneously. It’s actually a chocolate macaron (of sorts) with a coconut based filling paired with a passionfruit sorbet.

It’s a perfect dessert for people who doesn’t like sweet desserts – both the desserts are more acidic than sweet. However, I felt that the dessert was rushed out and I personally didn’t feel that it’s a very well made dessert. I was really looking forward to his Caramelized Brioche with Beer Poached Pear and White Cheese Sorbet (RM 30) but it was only available on Tuesday and Thursday.

petit fours

The two desserts we ordered were too simple with really basic flavor combinations. We enjoyed it, but we certainly *weren’t* blown away. I can’t help but feel let down after the awesome entrées and main courses. The complimentary petit-fours really saved the desserts department though!

chef alexy fuchs

You just have to remember that Michelin stars are awarded to the venue so there’s no white tablecloth service and all that here. A lot of the things they do locally is a faux pas in French haute cuisine – asking to clear tables before both parties have finished dining, not serving the lady first etc but I guess that’s a product of Malaysian culture. Once we got the great floor manager Ling Ang and the friendly and accommodating waitress Juney to serve us, it was smooth sailing.

700 dollar dinner

It’s not everyday you get to have a Michelin star restaurant chef come over and do a collaboration so I thought the experience was great and the food was good overall, especially the perfectly cooked stuffed quail! Our bill came up to a total of RM 711.10 for two without wine (we shared a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water) which is very reasonable for KL standards considering the food and chef.

mezze michelin

I nearly missed Alexy Fuchs trip over coz I didn’t check my email for newsletters – the lounge sends out the occasional update on food happenings which sometimes goes into spam. This isn’t an invited review by the way, that was done in the afternoon and it wasn’t my cup of tea. I paid full price for the dinner coz I wanted to have a romantic dinner with my dear and you can only get that intimate ambience on a fully booked Saturday night by reserving a table.

alexy fuchs

I also got to meet Alexy Fuchs – thanks to Ling Ang who let me into the kitchen to say a quick “Bonsoir” to the chef! He was really nice and down-to-earth and I put up an Instagram photo of us in my SixthSeal.com Facebook page, which he shared on his personal Facebook page and said something to the effect of “even 10,000 miles away, the people here knows of the famous Le Gavroche by Nathalie and Benoit Fuchs” and tagged his parents which I thought was a cool thing to do.

michelin us

It was great night out and we both enjoyed ourselves immensely! :)

Black Star Pastry’s Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream

black star newtown

There are two outlets in town but there’s really only one place to get your Black Star Pastry fix – the original patisserie at Newtown. The massive crowds stretching down the block, the Newtown chic grunge patrons, the punk rock waitress posing for the camera. You just can’t beat the ambience, even if you’re packed tighter than sardines in can.

black star pastries

…and the thing to have here is their Strawberry and Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream. It’s what they’re famous for. Hell, it comes up as soon as you type “Black Star Pastry” into your good friend Google.

Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream (AUD 6.50)
Fresh, light, fragrant. This cake consists of two layers of almond dacquoise, fresh whipped cream, watermelon, strawberries, Iranian pistachios and rose petals.

Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream

This is their signature item and it’s the reason why people queue up. It’s constantly sold out and if you want it on a plate, you’ll be better off trying at their (much larger) sister outlet in Rosebery, which was practically empty when I was there. I had it to go but decided to crowd into one of the eclectic seats with rocks (!!!) as tables to eat them.

newtown black star pastry

It’s a beautiful cake and it tastes even better than it looks! The description of the cake pretty much says it all – the flavor combination of berries, the refreshing watermelon and the delicate rose petals hidden in the cream is, for a lack of a better term, divine. If you’ve never had a watermelon cake before, I suggest you rectify that as soon as humanly possible.

Orange Cake with Persian Fig

I highly recommend the Orange Cake with Persian Fig (AUD 4) too. I asked the waitress what people ordered besides the Strawberry Watermelon Cake and got this one. This tall, cylindrical delight is made from whole boiled oranges, garnished with cheese cream icing and Persian figs, pistachios and rose petals. It’s surprisingly moist and decadent and both cakes are gluten-free!

Lemon Myrtle Chiffon Cake

I had the Lemon Myrtle Chiffon Cake at their Rosebery sister outlet and it was awesome too! It’s a roomier venue, but a little antiseptic with all the staff wearing uniforms, unlike the cool and non-conformist vibe you get from the original Newtown cafe.

black star rosebery

I also got another Strawberry Watermelon Cake with Rose Scented Cream to go and it tasted similar so the outlet you prefer is up to the ambience you like.

me black star

Black Star Pastry has won a ton of awards and is helmed by the patisser Christopher The. They’re also famous for their lamb shank pies and wood-fired breads but I only had room for the cakes – a quick dessert before lunch!

black star pastry

Black Star Pastry
277 Australia Street,
Newtown NSW

Opens 7 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week

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