Friday, 28 February 2014

Pétrus by Gordon Ramsay

Pétrus is one of Gordon Ramsay’s many restaurants and was awarded a Michelin star in 2011. Growing up in Penang, there isn’t any Michelin starred restaurants; so the experience in Pétrus is quite memorable.

Having dined in Pétrus three times, each dining experience was worth every penny. My first visit was with my mom and uncle during their visit to London; the second was for my 21st birthday and finally, the third visit was a couple of days ago. Pétrus serves lunch menu, set menu as well as tasting menu. There is also a chef’s table in their kitchen where guest will have a view of the kitchen and an unique dining experience watching the food cooked in front of you.

During my first two visits, the lunch menu was priced at £30 but now, the price has increased to 35. Although the choices on the lunch menu is limited, for £35 it is still a worthy dining experience. Here’s how the experience is like. Entering the restaurant, the waitress led the way to the table and an explanation on the menu was given. After ordering, a complimentary bread basket and homemade butter is served. Despite my dislike for bread, the bread served here is one which I just couldn’t stop eating because it was warm and soft on the inside and the crust is crisp and hard. A pre-appetizer (amuse-bouche) is then served. Every dish that is served on the table comes with an explanation by the waiter/waitress. However, most of the time I missed what they are saying because half of the terms are in French.

Homemade butter: extremely rich and melts quickly on the bread
Pre -appetizer: a small canapes
Missed the explanation but the soup was creamy and has a very light texture
After the amuse-bouche, the appetizer is served, followed by the main course. On my first two visits, complimentary sides of potatoes and vegetables were served alongside with the main course. However, these sides were not served on my third visit. Once finished with the main course, the waiter/waitress would bring the dessert menu and it is a tough decision to make.

Cannelloni of confit rabbit with poached crayfish and tarragon consommé:
Had this as appetizer in my first visit; can't quite remember how it taste but it was definitely delicious
Liver pate as appetizer on my second visit.
Carbonara - slow poached duck egg, confit leg, truffle polenta and broth:
The duck egg was cooked on the outside but has a flowing yolk on the inside. The combination of the smoked pork belly and yolk is heavenly. To add to that, the smoked pork belly melts in the mouth. AMAZING!

Crispy Suffolk pork belly with black pudding and sage jus:
Tried this on the first visit. The pork was succulent and the skin were very crispy. Although the roast pork belly is a little difficult to cut due to the skin, it was still very delicious.
Pan-roasted pollock with parmesan and broad bean risotto, pea velouté:
Ordered this on the first visit. The pollock is soft and juicy. Cooked just right to have the flakes of pollock coming off nicely. The risotto is slightly creamy and forms a heavenly taste when eaten with the pollock.
Pan roasted pollock - ordered this on the second visit. Can't quite remember the taste.
Pork belly - ordered by a friend on my second visit.

Complimentary root vegetables
A small cone filled with passion fruit mousse is served after ordering the dessert throughout all my visits. After a sinful dessert, a small almond ice cream with white chocolate is served.

Star anise crème brûlée, caramelized pear and liquorice:
The best 
crème brûlée I have ever tasted. The top coat of sugar is glazed to perfection and the crème brûlée is as smooth as a baby's skin. A heavenly must try!
Chocolate Sphere, milk ice cream and honey comb:
A sweet combination to die for! The chocolate sphere is melted with hot chocolate sauce revealing a ball of milk ice cream inside the sphere. Extremely chocolaty, definitely not something for those who hates chocolate.
In a Michelin starred restaurant, the service was up to expectations with an attentive and friendly crew. The food served were slightly slow but there is no real need to rush when dining in such a beautiful place. At the end of the meal, the diners can request to visit the kitchen and I’ve been down in the kitchen twice.

Personally, the experience of dining in a Michelin starred restaurant is exceptional as such places can’t be found in Penang. There is nothing to complain about the service and the food is delectable. The combination of ingredients are very well done and every food portion is just perfectly nice. Their wine list is extensive and range from about £25 for a half bottle to hundreds of pounds.

Located in the Belgravia area, Pétrus is about 10 minutes walk from most bus routes and tube stations.


Food rating: 9.5/10
Service rating: 10/10
Ambience rating: 10/10
Overall rating: 9.5/10

A Weekend in Bristol

With the piling workload and tonnes of things to complete, there hasn’t been time to pen down anything for the blog for the past few weeks. Despite all the work, I spent a great weekend visiting Vicky and Wei Fang in Bristol with Kah Kah.

The trip hit off with a rough start by having to change plans and burn my ticket because I was asked to attend a compulsory event with my sponsors. Oh well, like what people always say, there is only so much you can plan in life. After the event, I took a late afternoon bus to Bristol and met up with the rest. The sense of joy to see the familiar faces that I haven’t seen for months and even years was really quite overwhelming. To be honest, I haven’t seen Vicky who was my roommate for over 2 years in KDU, for over a year or so.

Nottingham Games 2012
An old picture of us in Nottingham Games 2012 - also the last time I've met up with Vicky and Wei Fang
Vicky and Wei Fang took us to this little place called ‘The Burger Joint’ for dinner. Upon arriving, our table wasn’t ready and we were given a free drink each for the delay. Extremely impressed with their service! It was a night of catching up and time flew by really quickly.

Venison Burger
The next morning was spent at the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. Blessed with sunny weather, the view of the suspension bridge and the gorges was breathtaking. Suspended over the Avon Gorge, the bridge is quite a magnificent structure. The view of the gorge from the bridge is very well worth the journey getting there. After a couple of hours at the bridge, we had some Chinese food before departing for the bus back to London.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Suspension Bridge IV
Clifton Suspension Bridge
Suspension Bridge I
A renewed group picture!
Though it was an extremely short getaway, there is nothing better than the great time spent with these great friends. Separated by distance, our friendship still remains as it always was.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A Thought on Life

“Life is suffering” – Buddha

It is the ungodly hours in the morning but I just have an urge to pen down some outlook about life. To begin, Buddhist or not, the words of Buddha that “life is a suffering” is undeniably true. Suffering meant the suffering of suffering which is the physical aspect of suffering like pain and fear; suffering also meant the suffering of change which refers to suffering of the problems of change; and suffering also meant pervasive suffering which is the potential to get into a problematic situation which even death is unable to resolve as Buddhism believes in incarnation of souls until nirvana is achieved. At the very least, the suffering of suffering traps us all whether Buddhist or not.

Growing up, the teaching of life and how to live life had always revolved around the law of karma. Those it wasn’t preached or forcefully put into my head, life had always been about doing good to others. Most of the times, life also meant putting oneself in others shoes. Being in the Girl Guide movement and keeping to the promise of “one good turn a day” worked as an additional reminder. Sure I’m no saint; but living a life with a believe in karma to the very best, there is no avoidance that life is suffering as karma doesn’t always work instantly. It is a theory with no guarantee. Nobody knows when karma; good or bad will strike. Nobody knows how karma multiplies. Ultimately, nobody even knows if karma really exist. Doing good all life doesn’t mean being blessed throughout life. Though the existence of karma is questionable, it is a believe I’ve grown with and held onto and there’s nothing negative about doing good to others when capable of doing so.

Today, the pain of the suffering of change is the most apparent. As a person, I never really liked change because there’s so much uncertainties and whoever said a chance is always for the better is not always right. No one can be sure the grass is always greener on the other side. Though when change becomes a necessity, I’d embrace it for resistance leads only to sufferings. The change in life, the change in routine, the change in everything physical and mental at times comes as a form of suffering that it can’t be help but to question why change had to happen especially if it is for the worse.

To me, life like a tree diagram, for every choice made, a different consequence awaits. When choosing to walk down a certain path, it meant forgoing the consequence of the other possible alternative. Nevertheless, it is often a suffering to ponder over the road not taken. “What if” never fails to form a part of suffering in life. Though many would say to live in the present, to look forward to the future, how many of us had never even once pondered about the past?

生老病死 (shēng lǎo bìng sǐ) is no doubt something unavoidable for this is the cycle of life. These common phrase is perhaps the most basic suffering in everyone’s life. The fact that aging is unavoidable; illness is part of life and today’s development had made illness more curable and the pain more sufferable; and death comes by though at times without a sign makes this cycle of life somewhat predictable and when time comes, the best is probably to embrace the arrival of sufferings as a part and parcel of life. Not having experience the full cycle of life, my thoughts probably aren’t right anyway.

Though life is full of sufferings, the ability to free oneself from the sufferings of life and the world will bring about enlightenment and nirvana. For I believe 有因必有果 (yǒu yīn bì yǒu guǒ), karma lurks in every corner, and the correct teachings of the true path will put sufferings of life a step away. Nevertheless, life is a learning process.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” 
- Buddha

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Schweiz Love

Switzerland is such a beautiful country; so beautiful that it is rather impossible not to fall in love with its breathtaking Alpine landscape and architecture. Well, I have a rather intense obsession with Switzerland and the Swiss Alps especially the Matterhorn. Having been to Switzerland 3 times within 12 months, most people think I am a little nuts to revisit the same country over and over again. Honestly, I felt I haven’t gotten enough of Switzerland. Here’s a little thought to why I am so in love with this country.

Matterhorn Summer
Matterhorn in early September
Matterhorn Winter
Matterhorn in winter covered with layers of fresh snow
My first visit to Switzerland was to Zermatt in September 2012, the small town where the best view of the world famous Matterhorn is. Growing up in a tropical weather, it was normal to be in love with the Alpine landscape almost immediately. Of course the Matterhorn intensified the love for the landscape. To add to such scenic panaroma, the hospitality of the Swiss Germans are remarkable. Well, I felt extremely welcomed that I returned to Zermatt over Christmas in 2012 just about 3 months after my first visit to experience a white Christmas.

Bernese Oberland
Bernese Oberland in late afternoon from Kleinne Scheidegg
The famous Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger
About a month ago, I visited Interlaken which is a base for most tourist who plans to visit Jungfraujoch, the highest viewing point in Europe. Home to the Bernese Oberland, Interlaken offered a view with a little more lakeside (perfect for reflecting mountain photos). The Jungfraujoch and Kleine Scheidegg are both excellent for the view of the Alps – worth every single penny spent on the exorbitant fare.

Reflections in Interlaken
Interlaken-Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden in Interlaken
Although the Bernese Oberland is equally as stunning as the Matterhorn, the love for Zermatt and the beauty of its Alpine village is simply irreplaceable. Just like a first love, Zermatt remains somewhat unforgettable and while other equally stunning holiday destination comes along, there’s no place like Zermatt.

Chapel Bridge
Chapel Bridge at dusk
Of course, there is more than just the Alpine beauty in Switzerland. Their quaint city is something worth revisiting. Having visited Zurich, Luzern and Geneva, Luzern triumphs with its awe-inspiring Chapel Bridge especially in the evening. Being in big cities, it always felt safe.

Jet d'eau in Geneva
Swan at Lake Geneve
Such a graceful swan in Lake Geneva
Mallard in Lake Geneva
Food is yet another reason to love this country. With a majority of Swiss German population, I can get all most of my favourite German delicacies in most places. The local Swiss specials is also something I’ve missed dearly after every trip. Being bound by land, most of the Swiss diet is heavy on meat and as a meat lover, my diet and their food fit perfectly like a jigsaw parcel! Although not a fan of cheese and potatoes, the raclette I had in Zermatt got me craving for more. For someone who hates potatoes, rosti (shredded potatoes which resembles hash browns) is the only thing made of potatoes that I ever like. The only thing I never really quite grow to like is cheese fondue.

German sausage
My favourites - German sausage and Rosti
Lamb encrusted with herbs
With such magnificent view of nature; modern yet quaint cities; and an delectable spread of delicacies, I guess it justifies my love for Switzerland. The only thing painful about visiting Switzerland is the absurd expensive train fares and the price of food and lodging is not quite affordable. Nevertheless, Switzerland is worth every penny to visit.

Best Wantan Mee in Penang

While the world is abuzz with the news that Penang is rated by Lonely Planet as the top destination for foodies, it is time to share my favourite and the best wantan mee in Penang as proclaimed by yours truly.

Wantan mee is a simple hawker dish found in many places around the world but the Penang version of wantan mee has a much darker colour sauce and is commonly served as dry noodles (kon lou). ‘Wantan’ is the local spelling for wonton and ‘mee’ is the local word for noodles. Consisting of springy egg noodles in a specially made sauce, wantan mee is served with a few wantan, Chinese mustard green and a few slices of char siew (barbeque pork).

A plate of wantan mee @ RM3.30
The best wantan mee in Penang can be found at *drumroll* CHULIA STREET. The famous wantan mee stall which is located in front of a furniture shop (Regent Furniture) is one which I proclaim to be the best. The noodles are springy and the sauce is fragrant with sesame oil and lard with just the right amount of sweetness and saltiness. The combination is just heavenly. The garnishing is also quite generous here. Sometimes, wantan mee in Penang is served with two pathetic pieces of char siew and almost non existent wontons.

It is so good that I had about 8 plates of them over the summer holidays last year; sacrificing my 'no-supper' diet.

The famous wantan mee stall!
TIP: the aunty with white hair doesn't usually reply to anyone so it is best to order from the younger lady and guy who serves the noodle

Just like any other popular and famous hawker stalls, be ready for a rather harsh treatment. The seller does not write down orders so take the initiative to remind them if your noodles haven’t been served after a long wait.

Opens from about 7.30 pm and closed on Mondays.

The stall is marked with the blue pin
The stall is located on Chulia Street (Lebuh Chulia) facing the main road with seats available in the alleyway around the area. Parking is extremely difficult and there are illegal parking attendants who would approach the drivers for some parking fee. Though the usually don’t state a fix amount, it is best just to give them some spare change to prevent anything happening to your car.

Food rating: 10/10
Service rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Recipe: Baked Scallops with Cheese

Baked Scallops

Scallops are one of my favourite seafood. From baked, steamed and stir fry, I absolutely love them. A year back I learnt this simple recipe from one of my buddies when we bought a box of fresh half shelled scallops from Billingsgate Market. Been in love with these baked scallops with cheese ever since. Recently, I’ve made them using roeless scallops which were sold without the shells. So it works with both scallops with shells and without.

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Scallops with Cheese (serves 3-4)

12          Scallops
100ml    Creme Fraiche or Extra Thick Double Cream
100g      Emmental or Mozzarella Cheese (grated)
Black Pepper (coarsely ground)


1. Pre heat the oven to 160°C.

2. Clean the scallops thoroughly. If the scallops are half shelled, be sure to clean the parts between the scallops and the shell because dirt and sand can get stuck in there. Drain the scallops and use a paper kitchen towel to gently tap dry. If you are using scallop meat without shells, clean and drain then place them in a small oven dish.

Towel dried scallops in a pie dish. I couldn't find a small oven dish in the house.

3. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt and grind some black pepper on each scallop.
I prefer mine with a little bit more black pepper.

4. Add between half to one tablespoon of creme fraiche or extra thick double cream to each scallop. Adjust the amount of cream according to your liking.
TIP: Creme fraiche is a healthier and better option because it has a lower fat content.

I used extra thick double cream here because I couldn't find any creme fraiche in my nearby Sainsbury's.

5. Sprinkle a generous amount of grated cheese on the scallops.
TIP: Emmental is the preferred choice of cheese to be used but mozzarella which is easily available especially in smaller shops is a good substitute.

Make sure the cheese covers the scallops.
Half shelled scallops using emmental cheese
6. Bake in the pre heated oven at 160C for 15 minutes.

7. Switch to grill mode or using the fan oven (with only top heat) at 220C and bake for a further 5 minutes to brown the cheese.

8. Remove from the oven and place the half shelled scallops in a plate and serve immediately. If you are using scallops without shells, simply remove and serve immediately.

Fresh from the oven

Some of the half shelled scallops my buddy and I made last year

Personally, I prefer the backed scallops in its shells with the roe because the roe has a hint of sweetness which compliments the cream and cheese. Nevertheless, the roeless scallops are still really yummy.

Hope you would enjoy them! :)

Monday, 3 February 2014

Celebrating Chinese New Year Away from Home

2014 marks the third Chinese New Year that I’ve spent away from home. Since young, CNY had been my favourite festive season. And I seriously meant my FAVOURITE! I remember creating a table counting down the days, hours and seconds to CNY from around 2 months before CNY. Well, there is every reason to love CNY. Aside from the angpows, new clothes and endless feasts, the time spent together with the rest of the family is one of the reason why I look forward to CNY every year. Of course when I was still in primary and secondary school, one of the best part is I didn’t have to study or sleep early during CNY.

Chinese New Year
Feast back home in 2010 - How I miss all these :(

Studying abroad in the UK, it meant celebrating without my family. There’s so much to be missed; the reunion dinners, the CNY goodies, the visits to my great grandma’s house, being a kitchen helper, and helping to buy groceries (auntiness to the max). Growing up in council housing right above a market, the CNY festive mood had always been part of my life. CNY medley, the crowd and everything you could find exciting about CNY are right beneath my house. Definitely missed all the CNY buzz from those days.

Ushering CNY in 2012 with the old KDU college buddies in London
Despite all these, I am thankful to have found another bunch of ‘family’ to celebrate CNY with. My first CNY in London was rather less exciting as staying in student residences makes hosting a dinner difficult. Nevertheless, I had a great time dining out with the KDU-ians in London and a couple of other friends. After finally moving out and having my own kitchen in Year 2, I remember hosting a steamboat dinner and ‘robbing’ my guests when playing baccarat and blackjack.

CNY 2013 steamboat dinner
This year, I have to say; it is by far the best CNY celebration I had abroad with a dinner in Goldmine on CNY’s eve and a home steamboat party. Besides improving on the steamboat with fresh seafood, the company was more complete will all old KDU buddies in London (minus Dipti) plus Rabin from Oxford and also all the ‘bros’ making time for the steamboat. The variety of CNY cookies that my mom brought over during the winter completed the festive spirit.

CNY's Eve Dinner at Gold Mine
CNY2014-Yee Sang
Tossing Yee Sang in the UK

Guests for the steamboat! Great company for the New Year.
All ready for the steamboat - prawns, fish fillets, clams, squid, mushrooms, homemade dumplings, fishballs, seafood sticks, japanese tofu, quail eggs and vegetables.
Ushering Chinese New Year abroad is made complete with all the great friends especially those old buddies from KDU and other close friends here in London. Being away from the real family, this bunch of crowd is really the best substitute I could ask for.

Finally, here's wishing everyone 新年快乐, 身體健康,万事如意,心想事成,