Sunday, 31 August 2014

Bang Na Delight - Dessert in Thailand

I was in Bangkok recently and a good friend of mine took me to a seafood restaurant in Bang Na - a city/town nearby the airport.

To be honest, I loved the food so much I totally forgot to take pictures of what we ate during lunch. But I can tell you the crab meat was truly amazing! The seafood soup reminds me of the "kimchi" seafood soup except that they use a little more tomato paste and lots of chili. Great stuff the seafood soup - with pieces of young coconut kelp. But I digress…

After our meal, we were leaving when we came across a seldom seen dessert set up just outside the seafood restaurant. Coconut based dessert is common in BKK but this is the first time I am eating it. They call it Kenom Toei - toei means small saucer in Thai.
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The dessert is steamed in small saucers and made from coconut milk and palm sugar - that gives the bottom layer its brown color. Seen here is the palm sugar based used to make the first layer.
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The dessert comes in two layers - the bottom half is sweet while the top half is salty. The bottom kettle houses the first mixture which contains the palm sugar and the top kettle is filled with salted coconut milk.
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When the water boiled, the ladies pours the first mixture into the saucers. Filling half the saucer.
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Then she lets the saucer steam for about 5 minutes.
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When the timer rings, it is time to pour the second mixture and then steam again for another 5 minutes.
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Then it is time and they have to remove the tray of dessert and allow it to cool for about one minutes.
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The lady takes the saucers out by hand and presents them on a tray.
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The dessert is eaten warm. Cut it into half and you can see the two layers of the dessert. Bottom half sweet and top half salty. The bottom half is gel like. Goes pretty well I must say.
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And when we were finished, we had another one packet for take away.
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I carried the packet all the way back to Singapore and I must say that the Kenom Toei tasted better chilled! I was told by the lady that the saucers are older vintage saucers that are hard to find. She even had a tourist offer to buy her whole set - saucer, kettle, steamers and all. Its not in the hardware, its in the recipe. Try it the next time you go to Bangkok - if you can find it.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Indonesian Food in Batam - Sedap & Shiok!

So how different is the food here from what we can get back home in Singapore. Actually, we were really not expecting much but I must say that we were pleasantly surprised by what we had at the Montigo Resort & Spa in Batam.

We only had two nights and three days and we were not going to town. All we wanted to do on this trip was to relax in the villa and enjoy each others' company. So we wanted to eat in and we were told that there were only two restaurants - Tadd's which is an all-day dining restaurant and Pantai Seafood Restaurant which only operates during dinner time.

So immediately after check in, we headed out to Tadd's for lunch. They have a rather extensive menu - from local cuisine to the western fare like fish and chip etc. We decided to go local. While we waited for our order, they served us bread with a local fruit condiment. The concoction was very refreshing and goes well with the soft bread. Consisting of kiwi fruit, pineapple and dragon fruit, the condiment was a perfect compliment to the bread.
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I ordered the soto ayam. Instead of the longtong (ketupat) that comes with the soto ayam, I opted for bee hoon (vermicelli) instead. Accompanying the bowl of soto ayam are two pieces of the bergedil (potato burger). The soto ayam is made from chicken broth rich from the spices like turmeric, blue ginger and lemongrass. What's different from the Singapore version is the fact they add cabbage into the broth and hard boiled egg. They also add ground cashew nuts prior to serving.
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While i had the soto ayam, Gina ordered the mee goreng - fried noodle and a side dish of satay (they call it sate in Indonesia). And all main meals come with the keropok. Gina said the mee goreng was nice but a tad too spicy for her. I thought it was ok. My soto ayam was what I had expected - bee hoon with shredded chicken and cabbage in a rich chicken broth.
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Over lunch, we were told the restaurant has a signature dish - Ayam Panggang Berempah. Since we were going to have a BBQ seafood dinner in the villa the next night, we chose to skip Pantai Seafood Restaurant and headed back to Tadd's instead. So it was Ayam Panggang Berempah for me.
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Served in a wooden plate, the dish consisted of half a spring chicken, string beans, samba chili and rice. The chicken was marinaded in local spices - I could taste turmeric and a few other ginger spices and some coconut milk. Well grilled - chicken was still moist on the inside. The strong beans was cooked in a coconut milk recipe - couldn't quite get it but it was sure delicious. The sambal was a killer - had to ask for one more serving of the sambal.
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Gina ordered the Curry Udang (prawns) which was something different from what we are used to. We typically have sambal prawns and not curry prawns but this version was well done. Prawns were still crunchy to the bite and the curry was a nice compliment with the rice.
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Overall we were happy with our meals at Tadd's. Can't comment on Pantai as we did not have dinner there at all. Breakfast was also nicely done in the morning. In our first morning breakfast, they had a full buffet spread including local favorites like nasi lemak, prata, egg station where you can order your eggs done several ways etc. For me, it was all local - prata for me…
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What I liked about the prata here compared to the SIN version is the amount of egg one gets in the prata. Done such that the whole prata fluffs up… great tasting prata with chicken curry. Gina had her normal omelet and pastries.

What we were looking forward was for the dinner at the villa - the in-villa BBQ dinner. One has to choose the menu from a few sets available. The crew came to set up the BBQ pit at the balcony area, just beside the pool.
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The fire was started…
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And the table set.
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While we waited for the food, the crew showed us the sauces available to us - peanut sauce, mustard, kecap manis with chili, sambal, tomato ketchup, chili sauce and mint sauce.
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And while we waited for the food, we snacked on the cracker emping belinjo. Can be eaten by itself but best with the sambal.
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And what is a nice dinner without wine? Tuscan wine is great for such dinners - and that night, we had the Le Volte.
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First up was the salad with a vinaigrette followed by tempeh - a kind of fermented bean. Grilled to perfection and when eaten with green chili, shiok!
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The grilled vegetables were done just right - still juicy and crunchy to the bite. I like the green peppers especially.
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The first meats were the seafood - scallops, fish (red snapper), prawns and squids. The best part were the scallops. The squid was not so good though - a little chewy to the bite.
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Then came the BBQ chicken. This was done well with the chicken being marinaded with the traditional Indonesian marinade. Nicely charred in the right places and still juicy on the inside.
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All I can say is that we could not finish all the food. Way too much food for two people to eat and especially when you are taking your time to eat and enjoying the wine at the same time.

The breakfast the next day was a much simpler affair - a set menu instead of a buffet we had the previous day. Gina had the American breakfast consisting of pastry, bread roll, two eggs done any style and fruits. I had the local set and in this case was the ayam soto with bee hoon and roti jon.
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The roti jon was rather special - scrambled eggs with sambal ikan bilis on top of a french loaf. Spicy and delicious.
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Overall, I thought the food was pretty good. Expensive by local standards but affordable considering this is resort pricing. Thumbs up from me. Go visit my other blog on the sunset at the resort.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Another sunset to share

So I had posted the sunset of our time in Montigo Resortand shared with some friends and another good friend came back with this...

He had gone to Maldives for his vacation. Take a look at this…
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Another beach shot.
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He had looked at my sunset photos and told me that it brought back memories of his own vacation recently. He shared these with me.
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And one of him in snorkeling gear…
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And with wife by the sandies…
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And another shot of the sunset.
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And it is getting dark with the sun going down.
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Sunsets are always beautiful. No matter where you take the sunset, it will always turn out beautiful. In this case, I spent a whole heck less than he did.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Beautiful Sunset in Batam

A good friend ones told me this - you cannot screw up a shot of the sunset. No matter how you take it, sunsets will always look good. So just remember this - not my skill but the beautiful sunset...

I was at the gym in Montigo on the treadmill when I witnessed the sun setting and the beautiful hue of the sea. So I had to cut short my run and went in search of a couple of nice shots. Pictures taken with my iPhone 5S. First up, view from just outside the gym - above Tiigo Bar.
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The sky was clear and almost no clouds in sight further enhancing the sunset hue.
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As I walked down to the beach, I could not resist this shot. Taken just before I reached Tiigo Bar.
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As I stood that the platform leading to the beach, I took this picture of the bar area.
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Then it was more sunset pictures. First up, the picture taken from Tiigo Bar showing the gazebo by the pool.
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Another view just in front of the gazebo.
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Taken by the beach - another gazebo set up by the beach for the BBQ dinner if one chooses to.
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And finally the view by the jetty.
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Gina by the jetty soaking in the sunset.
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So we were lucky to catch such a beautiful sunset as the next day was all gloomy. So my advice is this - carpe diem. You never know what tomorrow brings. Next up, our culinary experience in Montigo Resort. Check out my earlier post on the resort.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Short ride to a getaway - Batam

It is touted as a 5-star resort close to Singapore, so I guess we were intrigued into booking a few days stay at the Montigo Resort and Spa in Batam, Indonesia.

Batam is an island in Indonesia 40 minutes by ferry from Singapore. Two terminals gets you there - Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) and Harbourfront Ferry Terminal. Because we were going to Montigo, we were advised to but the ferry tickets from BatamFast and they only operate from TMFT to Nongsapura Ferry Terminal in Batam. The resort is 5 minutes from the ferry terminal.

The resort bus gets you to the resort and the view from the check-in is quite refreshing. Haze aside, you can see MBS from the resort.
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The all-villa resort is built on a slope and has three types of villas - hill top, hill side and sea front. For this trip, we stayed at the Hill Side villa.
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Warm was the day when we checked in but all was forgotten when we walked into the living room - air-conditioned comfort and a view too. Walk out of the living room and you get to the balcony with an attached dipping pool.
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The villa is three stories - two bedrooms on the second level and the top is the room garden. The master bedroom is well decorated.
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And with an "open" concept bath area.
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The second bedroom has two single beds and with their own attached bathroom too.
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My only gripe about the villa is the hot corridor way - when you walk between living room and bedroom, the staircase is not air-conditioned. So you walk from the cool comfort to the hot and humid corridor and then back into the cool comfort of the room again. But from the balcony, one gets a rather nice view out to sea. And on a clear day, you get to see the skyline of Singapore CBD especially that of MBS.
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As the day got cooler, we walked around the resort to explore a little. First, the walk down to the dining room of Tadd's brought us to the edge of the resort overlooking the jetty. An amazing view from up here looking down there...
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The pool by Tadd's is also well designed for comfort. But bring your sun block lotion. No way one can sit in the pool before 5pm.
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Walk past Tadd's which is an all-day dining venue, you will be able to see the bar area. Called Tiigo, the bar is only open on the weekend.
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And from Tadd's you can also get another view of the property and the jetty down below.
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The beach is nothing to crow about. The jetty is still uncompleted but we managed to steal a walk along the jetty.
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Here is Gina by the jetty. They were still laying lighting along the jetty and work was still on-going.
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Brings back the days of kelong and we love the stroll out to the end of the jetty.
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And this is the view of the resort from the jetty.
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All too soon it was coming to the end of the day. As we walked back, we couldn't help but enjoy the sun setting.
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And the view from our villa.
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We took a whole bunch of photos of the sun setting on day 1. And what a great decision it was - second day was all cloudy and no sun set at all! More of that to come in my next post.