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mooncakes 2014

blimpbinge - you don't really have much time left: mooncakes will sold up to Sep 8 (next Monday) when the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated. Mooncakes will *not* be sold after that in Singapore, Malaysia, HK, etc. as no one buys or gives mooncakes as presents to friends/relatives after that day!

If you do come to Singapore or KL, give me a heads-up: there has been compilations of places with interesting mooncake options in the local media here.

In Singapore - I'd make a beeline for the annual Mid-Autumn "mooncake village" at Basement 2 of Ngee Ann City (Takashimaya), where *every* single local/overseas mooncake producers will set-up shop. You can find all the top mooncake makers there in one place.

about 4 hours ago
klyeoh in Los Angeles Area

mooncakes 2014

Malaysia, like Singapore, tend to have amazing new interpretations for the mooncakes - in order to boost their sales in a multi-million dollar market.

The most fascinating one in Kuala Lumpur which I'd seen was the Blue Moon mooncake from Chynna @ the Hilton KL. The filling is a combination of blueberry cheese feuillantine with Amaretto-infused lotus paste, enveloped within a striking pastel blue-hued snow-skin.

about 8 hours ago
klyeoh in Los Angeles Area
1

Taxila, Pakistan - Chapli Kabab & Freshwater "Rohu" Carp from Shahzada Khan

Lunch today was at Shahzada Khan, a "dhaba" (roadside eatery) along the main street of Taxila, a 1,200-year-old city in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwala region on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Shahzada Khan offers to types of entrees: "Chapli Kabab", a burger-like slightly-spiced beef patty; and their house specialty: crisp-fried freshwater "rohu" (carp). Both items are served with local "naan" bread, and a local lemon-yoghurt dip.

Consumed hot off the large "tawa" frying pans, these were absolutely scrumptious! The "Chapli Kabab" is a popular snack among the local Pashtun populace of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region. Definitely a good spot to taste local Pashtun snacks when visiting the Taxila World Heritage Site ruins dating back to the 5th & 6th century AD.

Aug 29, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Dim Sum Chowdown at Peony, Oakland

Peony has always been the favourite restaurant of Singaporeans visiting Oakland, we always felt it's got the best food in Chinatown.

Aug 29, 2014
klyeoh in San Francisco Bay Area

Whither Servorg?

I know exactly how you feel, Servorg. I hadn't been following the developments recently, but realised something was up when I flagged a spam on my home board, China/Southeast Asia, and it was ignored.

Aug 28, 2014
klyeoh in Site Talk
1

HK Recs and Fine Dining Walk ins

It's *Hong Kong* - these days, you simply *cannot* walk into any good restaurant without a reservation, even on a week-day.

Aug 28, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Bangkok's Top Restaurants Guide 2014

Try this one - Bangkokians call it T Pochana:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/832534

Aug 27, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Lahore, Pakistan - Best "Mithai" from Nirala Sweets

Nirala Sweets is Lahore's No.1 "mithai" (confectionery) chain - 10 outlets throughout Lahore, but I listed the address of the one at Lakshmi Chowk here as one can also find great chicken karahi in this area.

Lahoris have a sweeter tooth than even other Pakistanis, so you can imagine how much sugar is contained in a box of these "mithai" sweets. My fave is the "patisa" - crisp, flaky-layered confection made from gram flour - it's known as "soan papdi" in India.

Addresses
===========
Nirala Sweets
Lakshmi Chowk
Shop # 18, Sewak Ram Trust Building
18 Meclod Road LAKSHMI Chowk
Lahore, Pakistan
Tel: 0315-7663336/0334-9758571

Aug 27, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Afghan Specialties at Kabul, Islamabad

Afghani dinner this evening with my colleagues at the popular Kabul Restaurant at Jinnah Super Market, the bustling commercial centre of F-7 zone.

What we had:
- Kabuli Palow: Afghan pilaf dish consisting of steamed rice mixed with lentils, raisins, julienned carrots and lamb. It is one of the most popular dishes in Afghanistan, and is considered the Afghan national dish. The brownish colour of the rice came from the lamb broth used to cook the parboiled Sella basmati rice.
- Chicken Karahi: a spicy chicken stir-fry with a wonderful gravy for dipping breads in.
- Kofta Afghani: beef meatballs, flavoured with garlic, onions and paired with a slightly spiced tomato-ey gravy.
- Afghani Nan: the texture's the same as Indian or Pakistani naan, but it's differentiated by its trademark oblong shape.
- Ashak: an Afghan dish made of pasta dumplings filled with scallions and a meaty tomato sauce, topped with yogurt and dried mint.
- Afghani Tikkah: skewered cubes of mutton.
- Afghani Kabab: skewered minced lamb balls, interspersed with red peppers
- Manto: closely resembling the Korean mandu, the Afghan manto dumplings are filled with beef or lamb mixed with minced onions and spices, steamed and then topped with a very typical sauce, "seer moss" (garlic-yogurt), dried or fresh mint, lemon juice, and minced garlic. The manto topping also included some tomato-based sauce includes split peas, red kidney beans and/or some sauteed ground meat.We finished the meal with "kahwah", traditional Afghan green tea, served with sugar-coated peanuts.

Address
==========
Kabul Restaurant
Jinnah Supermarket
Markaz F-7, Islamabad
Tel: +92 512650953

Aug 27, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Good Food Guide - Top 50

I don't think I'd been to that many places recommended by AA to judge their accuracy, actually! My trips to the UK have always been pretty London-centric.

Aug 27, 2014
klyeoh in U.K./Ireland

Good Food Guide - Top 50

Some Chowhounds are getting to be rather disagreeable these days, but I guess that comes with the territory.

I'm actually rather partial to the AA Restaurant Guide - their 2014 updates here:
http://www.fine-dining-guide.com/aa-t...

Aug 27, 2014
klyeoh in U.K./Ireland

Lahore, Pakistan - Best Beef Nihari Ever at Muhammadi Nehari, Mozang Chungi

P.S. - Unless you're very adventurous, I wouldn't really recommend the local transport. But if you want to try out Lahore's Rapid Mass Transit System (LRMTS) train, take the Green Line to Kalma Chowk station. Muhammadi Nehari is 3 minutes' walk from the station.

Aug 27, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Good Food Guide - Top 50

The Ledbury's #10 on the GFG top 50? It was the second-highest British entry (after Dinner by Heston Blumenthal) on the San Pellegrino World's Best 50 Restaurants list for 2014:
http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1...

Aug 27, 2014
klyeoh in U.K./Ireland

Lahore, Pakistan - Best Beef Nihari Ever at Muhammadi Nehari, Mozang Chungi

The *best* breads, tavegyl, the best! Just ... could ... not ... stop .. eating!!

Aug 27, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Which is more reliable: Michelin vs. San Pellegrino's Best Restaurants List

Same here - Michelin for me.

Aug 27, 2014
klyeoh in France

Islamabad, Pakistan - Local Fare at Des Pardes

Des Pardes is another one of those "multi-cuisine" restaurants in town: offering mainly local Pakistani fare, but also provides the option of localised Italian fare - read, pasta with extra-creamy sauce.

It offered unrivalled ambience here: a choice of a table in the main dining hall with ethnic decor, or one of the native tents that function as private dining rooms.

Dinner this evening consisted of:
- Reshmi Seekh Kabab: charcoal-grilled minced chicken with nuts and spices.
- Mughlai Murgh Handi: boneless chicken cooked with ginger, spices and tomatoes.
- Daal Maharani: white lentils cooked in butter, cashewnuts, sesame seeds and onions
- Hyderabadi Biryani: long-grain basmati with saffron, cooked with spiced chicken
- Nan bread

Quite liked the wide variety on their menu - this is the *only* restaurant I've encountered in 3 weeks here in Pakistan which offered samosas - though my Pakistani colleagues didn't order them, or even expressed any interest in this dish, preferring grilled kababs and botis.

Address
========
Des Pardes
Saidpur Village
Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +92 051-2320008, 051-2320009

Aug 26, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Islamabad, Pakistan - Local Favourites at Andaaz, Saidpur Village

Andaaz is a popular local restaurant perched on the slopes of the Margalla Hills in Saidpur Village. Service by a youngish team of wait-staff was cordial and friendly.

Dinner this evening consisted of:
- Tandoori Jhingay: interesting rendition of smokey, tandoor char-grilled jumbo prawns smothered in a sweet-sour sauce. Islamabad suffers from a dearth of fresh seafood, so the prawns' texture betrayed that they'd been frozen.
- Murgh Badami Kabab: very good minced chicken and chopped almond kebabs, with the familiar finger-pressed lattice design on the meat moulded around the skewers before being cooked in the tandoor.
Chopped green chilis provided the heat which sets Pakistani food apart from their Indian counterparts.
- Baingan ka Bharta: the Pakistani rendition of this spiced eggplant, onion and tomato dish was spicier than any version I'd tried in India.
- Kaju Biryani: steamed biryani with cashewnuts, topped with golden-fried shallots. It was average-tasting.

Overall, a competently-prepared meal - Islamabad can be a culinary desert of sorts. I'd have like to visit Dum Pukht at the Marriott Islamabad, but it was off-limits to us due to the on-going political stand-off in town which saw thousands of anti-government protesters camped outside the government complexes in the centre of the city.

Address
=========
Andaaz Restaurant
Saidpur Village
Islamabad
Tel: +92 3215175040/
+92 3004560707

Aug 26, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Lahore, Pakistan - Lahori Buffet at Bukhara, Pearl-Continental

You're most welcome, janeh. I'm off to Chennai in a couple of months' time, so hope to have some reviews for that city then. Also, hoping to do a weekend trip to the former French colony of Pondicherry - looked interesting when it was featured in movie, "The Life of Pi".

Aug 26, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Lahore, Pakistan - Lahori Buffet at Bukhara, Pearl-Continental

Bukhara at the Pearl-Continental Lahore bore no relation to India's famous Bukhara at the ITC Hotel chain (Delhi, Mumbai, etc.). Whilst the legendary Bukhara at the ITC Maurya in Delhi, oft-quoted as the best restaurant on the Indian sub-continent and serves "North-West frontier" cuisine, the Bukhara in Lahore is essentially a buffet restaurant offering a rich plethora of Lahori cuisine: from Beef Nihari stews to Paya (beef trotter curry), fragrant biryanis, a rich selection of grilled boti skewers (kebabs), etc.

The "tawa qeema" is minced mutton, richly-spiced and freshly-prepared at a cooking station as part of the buffet.

My fave entree item is the Chicken Haleem, a delicious, stickily-unctuous stew of shredded chicken, gently-spiced and thickened with crushed lentils. Naan breads are served at the table.

Address
=========
Bukhara
Ground Floor, Pearl-Continental Lahore
Mall Road (Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam)
Lahore, Pakistan
Tel:+92 4236360210

Aug 25, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Lahore, Pakistan - Best Beef Nihari Ever at Muhammadi Nehari, Mozang Chungi

The other must-visit Lahore food spot - Bashir Dar-ul-Mahi - is right across the road from Muhammadi Nehari. It's famous among Lahoris for its fried freshwater fish. Unfortunately, I visited during the "wrong" season - Lahoris are of the opinion that you only consume fish during the months which contain an "r", so during the hot months: May, June, July, August, fish is "out".

Aug 25, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? August 2014 Edition!

One of them - the one by Sarla Razdan - was truly amazing: great food photos interspersed with vintage black-and-white photos pics of beautiful Kashmir and the Kashmiris.

All the cookbooks have great pics. The only "meh" was Wazwan.

Aug 25, 2014
klyeoh in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? August 2014 Edition!

I'm in Pakistan at the moment, and have gotten 4 cookbooks last Thursday in Islamabad:
- A Taste of Pakistan by Zainab Jafari
- Kashmiri Cuisine Through the Ages by Sarla Razdan.
- Wazwan, Traditional Kashmiri Cuisine by Rocky Mohan Book Club.
- The Masala Art, Indian Haute Cuisine by Hemant Oberoi

Aug 25, 2014
klyeoh in Home Cooking

Lahore, Pakistan - Best Beef Nihari Ever at Muhammadi Nehari, Mozang Chungi

No visit to Lahore's culinary scene would be complete without a meal at Muhammadi Nehari, the one must-eat-at spot in the city for any gourmand, IMO.

Nihari is essentially a thick, spicy beef stew cooked gently overnight, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth beef in an intensely-flavoured, oily gravy. There are several nihari options on the menu at Muhammadi Nehari - we chose the "house special" nihari with "nali" (marrow) and brain. Accompanying the nihari are roughly julienned ginger, chopped fresh coriander leaves and slivers of small local lemon, to be squeezed over the stew. It was the best-tasting dish I'd had all year, anywhere.

We ordered two types of local breads: a slightly sweetish, milk-rich Taftan, and a spongey Sheermal Naan. The Taftan was extremely addictive. Muhammadi Nehari also served very good, frothy Lassi - don't miss this.

Address
========
Muhammadi Nehari
Bahawalpur Road, Mozang Chungi
Lahore-54500, Pakistan
Tel: +92 4237239509

Aug 25, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Lahore, Pakistan - Mughlai fine dining at Dum Pukht, Pearl-Continental

Dum Pukht is one of the premier local fine dining restaurants in Lahore serving Mughlai cuisine. The decor was opulent and elaborate.

Sitting down, we were served crisp rolls of papads, served with 4 types of dips: mint, yoghurt, sweet tamarind and mango chutney.

What we ordered:
- Reshmi Kebab: cubes of skinless chicken marinated in spices and yoghurt. Tasty, albeit pretty spicy compared to the versions I'd had in Islamabad the past fortnight.
- Murgh-e-Shalimar: chicken in cashewnut gravy and green herbs, flavoured with ginger, garlic and spices. Very tasty, although greasier than I'd have liked.
- Palak Paneer: creamed spinach with "paneer" cheese and spices. The rendition here has the paneer finely-minced into the spinach, instead of the paneer cubes which I preferred.
- Chilman Biryani: this is the house specialty and easily the tastiest item I'd tasted here - beautifully-scented mutton biryani with cashewnuts and raisins, covered in puff pastry and baked. It was *divine*.

Desserts:
- Shahi Kulfi: chunks of kulfi ice-cream with rose syrup.
- Kheer: saffron-scented rice pudding.
The desserts were unremarkable, and were really much, much sweeter than I'd have liked. One is constantly reminded that the Lahoris love their sugar.

The Chilman biryani is really memorable. Service was stiff, cold and decidedly "local", i.e. the staff spoke either little or poor English. The restaurant opens at 12.30pm, and we were turned away when we arrived at *12.26pm*, with no effort by the restaurant staff at the reception to be friendly or cordial. Not really what I'd expect at a so-called "fine dining" spot.

Address
=========
Dum Pukht
Pearl-Continental Lahore
Mall Road
Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam
Lahore, Pakistan
Tel:+92 4236360210

Aug 24, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Lahore, Pakistan - Fab Avadhi Cuisine from Lakhnavi, Avari Hotel

The ornately-decorated Lakhnavi, located next to the beautiful helix-plexiglass staircase suspended above a centre courtyard water-feature, is perhaps the most elegant restaurant in Lahore, serving Mughal-inspired Lakhnavi cuisine.

We started off with:
- Makai ki Roti (cornmeal flatbread), served with tamarind, mint, and sweet green papaya chutney dips. Fried in ghee, it's denser and chewier than chapati. The version here was also spiked with very spicy green chilis.
- Jaam-e-Jam: cold milk flavoured with cardamom and cloves, served in earthenware vessel, was refreshing and a perfect start to the meal.

Starters were:
- Murgh o Baadaam: intensely-flavoured chicken broth, flavoured with almond & saffron, with delicate pea-sized chicken meatballs. One of the best soups I'd had this year!
- Kaakori Kabaab: smoked beef with cardamom, clove and dried rose petals, with saffron; the beef mixture was finely hand-chopped till pate-like, before being charcoal-grilled - the Pakistani version was decidedly more refined and subtly-flavoured compared to the cardamom-heavy renditions I'd had in the Taj Hotel chain's fine dining restaurants in India in the past.

Mains:
- Murgh e Bay Misal: described in the menu as chicken in a lustrous tomato, onion and garlic curry with a dash of yoghurt, seasoned with cinnamon, clove and tandoori spices. I found it pretty standard, and had hoped it would be more fascinating.
- Sultaani Daal: Avadhi specialty of slow-cooking Arhar-daal in fresh tomatoes and garlic, finished with white yoghurt - another average-tasting daal dish, albeit slightly over-salted. Nowhere near the ITC Group's famous Daal Bukhara in Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore.
- Qandhari Naan: Whole wheat bread with a sprinkling of pistachio, almonds and raisins, baked in clay tandoor. Nice and fluffy.

Dessert:
- Shahi Tukra: Golden-fried bread soaked in milk & syrup, served with saffron-infused "rabhri" (caramelised sweetened, condensed kil), garnished with almonds, pistachio and "chandi ke varaq" (edible silver foil). It's light and not overly-sweet like most desserts in Lahore, where the locals have a sweeter tooth compared to Pakistanis in other regions.

Exceptionally professional and very efficient service - the wait-staff were confident and conversed very well, and able to make good recommendations.

Address
========
Lakhnavi
Avari Hotel Lahore
87 Shahrah-e Quaid-e-Azam
Lahore 54000, Pakistan
Tel: +92-4236366366

Aug 24, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Singapore top burger and dessert joints

List of Singapore's top burger joints here - but none of them is "halal":
https://sg.news.yahoo.com/15-mouthwat...

I think you should wait till you come to KL, where *some* burger places are definitely "halal", e.g. KGB in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur:
http://eatdrinkkl.blogspot.in/2013/06...

Aug 22, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Kuala Lumpur - Qureshi's opened at KL Golf & Country Club!

Heads-up to Indian food fans in Kuala Lumpur - one of India's legendary chefs, Imtiaz Qureshi, has opened a branch at the KL Golf & Country Club!
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/527867

Haven't tried it myself yet, but planning to do so pretty soon!

Address
=========
Qureshi's
Ground Floor, East Wing, Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club
10 Jalan 1/70D, Off Jalan Bukit Kiara
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +603-2093 1111

Aug 22, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Top Chef - India

Imtiaz Qureshi opens his first SE-Asian outlet in Kuala Lumpur:
http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Commun...

Aug 22, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Have you ever left a Restaurant...

+1

Aug 22, 2014
klyeoh in Not About Food

Islamabad, Pakistan - Mediterranean Dinner at Monal's Tree House

Monal's Tree House is part of The Monal, a dining complex perched on the Margalla Hills 1,000 metres above sea-level, which has the most spectacular views over Islamabad. The larger Monal Restaurant specializes in local Pakistani cuisine, especially the sizzling kebabs. Last night, we were brought to Monal's Tree House, which specializes in Mediterranean cuisine. One note of caution: Pakistani renditions of "Western" cuisine tend to be extra-creamy - my experience with the other extremely popular "Western" restaurant, Tuscany Courtyard, seems to bear that out.

Appetisers:
=========
- Cream of chicken soup: extra-rich, but otherwise quite tasty.
- Seafood chowder: very creamy as well. The bits of finely-chopped seafood (shrimps. meat, etc) didn't seem fresh, and were overcooked.
- Sweet-sour prawn salad: Prawns were very stale & dry - avoid!
- Mushroom salad: overly pickled in vinegar(?) - avoid!
- Pita bread and hummous dip on the side

Mains:
======
- Pan-fried turbot in lemon sauce: the fish was perfectly-cooked, crisp-crusted and still moist. But the lemon-scented sauce turned out to be creamy as well.
- Pan-fried seabass with asparagus: the vegetable was substituted with French beans, but without us being notified. Again, the fish was smothered with a thick, extra-rich cream sauce.
- Pan-roasted tenderloin steak. Very nicely-textured - this is one thing Pakistanis do very well: cooking beef perfectly.
- A mixed grill which included beef, lamb shops, minced mutton and chicken.

Desserts:
=======
- Bread-and-butter pudding: beautifully presented, crowned with delicately-spun sugar. Tastewise, the bread part was too sweet.
- Molten-centred chocolate cake a la mode - perfectly-timed, resulting in a light, crusty shell encasing melted dark chocolate.

It's perhaps one of the *best* places to dine in Islamabad. Just don't get your hopes too high on Western cuisine in Islamabad.

Address
=======
Monal's Tree House
Gokina Moor, Pir Sohawa
Islamabad, Pakistan-44000
Tel: +92-51583-7218/583-7220

Aug 22, 2014
klyeoh in India & South Asia