Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grandma's Birthday Bash

Yesterday was grandma's 84th birthday. We had been celebrating her birthday since 2007, and it was always a different day in the year because she uses the lunar calendar to set the date. To her, there is nothing more more important than family gatherings. And any typical Chinese families, family gatherings without food is not considered one.

Our feast hadn't been changed since some donkey years ago. Maybe some dishes had been ditched to a new one, but mostly are just the same one every year. No matter how often our family had been munching the same dish every year, there is very little sign of monotony. For her grandchildren, we had been eating her food since we could ever remember, so our taste buds have been so accustomed to it.

So let's start introducing the feast with the "Tan family" cuisines.

Typically, we start the dinner with meatball. They are made of ground pork, ground shrimp, dried shrimp, plain flour and potato starch. Then they are made into balls and deep-fried. The good thing about these is they're always better the next day and even better the next. No re-frying needed, just put them in the oven.

Then, we have the seasoned jelly-fish. It's always made the day before, and the amount of vinegar, sugar and chilly is essential.

The next dish is universally Chinese, it's the "Lap Cheong" or Chinese sausages. They simply steamed, and used some minced garlic, vinegar, and chilly for the dipping.

A chicken dish is next. We had the boiled chicken, with stir-fried scallions and garlic as the seasonings (READ: Pak Cham Kee). In our family, we are very very strict about eating only free-range chicken. And there is no better way to cook them than this method (Not even KFC, or Ayam Bakar Babeh). Free-range chicken is less-fatty, less-chemically-enhanced, and the taste is incomparable than their cousins in the cages.

The next dish is kinda new to us. It's a combination of grilled sweet corn, some mixed nuts, ground pork and dried scallops. It's was really weird at first, but as you chew the corn and mixed nuts, the sweet corn juice makes the dish totally refreshing.

Then, next is stewed sea cucumbers with pork meat, shiitake mushrooms and cuttlefish. Very distinct Chinese dish, each Chinese ethnic groups have different cooking method, ours is a typical Hakka dish.

Not much seafood? wait for the next one. It's fried garoupa fish (I think). Very simple friend fish with sweet and sour sauce sprinkled on top.

For soup, we have the usual fish-ball soup. We didn't actually make the fish-ball ourselves, got them from a nearby market.

Of course this wouldn't be a a birthday bash if there weren't any noodle dish. This one very very messy dish is the highlight of the meal. Our noodle is stir-fried with ground pork, shrimps, cuttlefish, fish-ball, chicken gizzards, bean sprouts and garlic chives.

We had Tamarillo mocktail for desert, but I forgot to snap a picture. It's blended tamarillo fruits mixed with a wee bit of tamarillo syrup and Sprite. The perfect desert after such a hearty meal.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Munchies - Gandaria City

Just last weekend, my first visit to the new Gandaria City Shopping Center in Kebayoran Lama. The last time I was tempted to go there was last year's Korean Indonesian Week, where there were kimchi tasting and BiBimBap competition, but never actually went there.

So finally, my friend and I went there to explore the new mall (It was more like what food are available there?). After a few round here and there, we finally decided on Munchies. Looking through heaps of restaurants menus with an empty stomach, but still can't decide where to eat, is unbearable.

We were recommended the "Combination of two meats and sauce" main. So how it works is you've got to choose two kind of meat (red and(or) white) and then there are varieties of sauces to combine with the meat. In the end, we didn't try those mains.

So after a quick glace through the iPad (I wanted to see the pictures of the menu), we decided to order 2 different type of mains (sandwich and pasta) and a salad (You know, to make you less guilty about eating too much meat).

For beverage, we ordered ice blackcurrant tea and ice jasmine tea. The thing I like about the beverage is the rock-sugar solution is in another shot glass, so we could adjust to our own preferences. Mine was a little bit less sweet even though I did put all the sugar. As usual, there's a mint leaf just for decoration.

For the salad, we ordered Chicken Aioli. I definitely didn't expect the salad to be like this! Craftly built, the base was a piece of bread (or nan), then sliced lettuced-mixed-with-mayo in the middle, and topped with grilled chicken breasts. First impression; unique. Never in my life to have salad to be served like this. Taste-wise, it wasn't as good as I expected. The chicken was crispy, which was good, but too salty, really really salty for my liking. Then the lettuce was good, even though I think they could reduce the amount of mayo used. By the time we reached the bottom of the salad, the bread below is too soggy. (Anyone tried soggy bread before?)

My main is the Chicken in the Middle Sandwich, which was recommended by the waitress. The highlight of the dish is definitely the soft white bread. Probably even the best single ingredient for that meal is the bread. It's super soft, not mushy, doesn't get stuck in your teeth, and smells like it's just came out of the oven, simply nothing ordinary. Inside those buns, is a piece of grilled chicken, caramelized onion, some mayo and melted cheese. Accompanying the sandwich is salads with balsamic vinegar dressing (I think), and a bowl of creamy mashed potato. I did request the chips to be changed to mashed potato, due to other 2011 resolutions.

My only complain about the dish is the over-cooked onion and over-used mayo. The onions literally smelled like instant noodles (READ: Indomie). Other than that, the mashed potato is very nice, not too creamy, and seasoned perfectly.

My friend ordered Mushroom and Almond Fusilli. Basically just fusilli cooked in white-based sauce, topped with a couple fried mushroom, a bunch of stir-fried mushroom, sliced almonds, and cheese. Couldn't really taste any almond flavouring, aside from the sliced almonds scattered on top. The fusilli, on the other hand, was nicely cooked, there's still this "al-dente" feels to it. The sauce too, was not too thick nor creamy to make you sick.

We were too full to order desert, so got to ditch them. Overall, the experience was nice. Trying something different than I had always tried before surely makes one think so much food varieties in the world, you won't finish them even though you had one different ones in every meal for the rest of your live.

Prices as of 23 Jan 2011:
Chicken in the Middle Sandwich Rp49k
Mushroom & Almond Fusilli Rp48k
Chicken Aioli Rp35k
Ice Blackcurrant Tea Rp18k
Ice Jasmine Tea Rp16k

Restaurant Info:
Munchies - Gandaria City Mainstreet Ground Floor,
Jl. KH. Syafi’i Hadzami No. 8, Kebayoran Lama
Jakarta Selatan

Phone: 021 2905 3076

First Entry - The Debut

Finally, after years and years of consideration and reconsideration, my first food blog (diary)! Yay! Hopefully I'll spend more time in here updating than playing games in Facebook or waiting for my brother to complete his missions in Lord of the Rings games. One of my 2011 new year resolutions (Delayed from 2009 and 2010 resolutions) is this piece time-consuming-but-worth-every-effort food blog. Please do leave any messages, criticisms or any sort of notes that you think might improve this blog. (I promise I won't hunt you down).

So anyway, the blog is dedicated to anyone out there curious, adventurous and audacious enough to go around the city to have a their taste buds pampered. Most of the entry updates here will be any cuisine based in Jakarta. Yes, the old colonial town where mosquitos are your best friends and traffic jams (Not that bread jam - I know this is a food blog) are inevitable even on Sundays. Occasionally and infrequently, there will be food updates from close-by neighboring Asian countries.

Without further ado, let's start the year with more food to taste.