Culinary Treats at Dempsey

June 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Exotic South East, Gourmet, News

dempsey2

Did you know that gunpowder can spruce up your palate indulgence? Well, it is so at Dempsey Hill. The Prime Society restaurant has a 150-seater dining capacity. With crimson brick pillars extending to the high ceiling, its ambience offers you a sense of grandeur filled with the thick aroma of pan-Asian spices and, maybe, a tinge of gunpowder.

Australian chef Mr. Damon Amos sizzles with passion as he shares his extensive knowledge on the various cuts of steak on offer, the different cattle-rearing methods and how these methods lend each cut of steak a unique flavor.

“In short, we (The Prime Society) are all about diversity,” says Damon, who affably introduces himself as Dee. This belief is evident in their assortment of steak selections available on their menu. The gunpowder steak is one that captures attention.

Gunpowder is essentially made up of elements such as potassium and magnesium, which are required parts of a balanced diet. The gunpowder that is used goes through stringent checks to ensure that there are no traces of sulphur in its content before serving. The question is, where do they get the gunpowder? “I concoct it myself,” Dee reveals. For those game enough for novelty, this is one dish you’ll have to try.

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Watch how food engages not just our taste buds but entices our visionary and creative senses as well. Gourmet artistry is what The Tippling Club is all about. A blend of aesthetics and science, it is a wonder to see food in an unconventional presentation, yet still taste remarkably good. To enjoy the overall experience, the golden spot is at the bar where guests get to witness the owners in action. Award-winning mixologist Matthew Bax and Chef Ryan brought their expertise from down under Australia, and are now capturing the hearts of the local market with their degage concept tinged with élan.

Read on – Introducting DempseyDempsey, Art Village

A Rough Guide to Dim Sum

No trip is complete without trying out some of the best local food at your choice of destination. When you come to Asia, one of the must-try food is none other than dim sum, a traditional culinary art originated from Southern China that has captured the palates of many, especially in countries with strong Chinese influences such as China (duh), Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and many others around the region.

Dim sum (literally meaning, “touch the heart”) is the name for a selection of Chinese cuisine which involves a wide range of light dishes. They are usually served before noon, along with tea (also known as yum cha), but is now such a big part of the culinary scene in Asia that you can find restaurants serving them all day through. Dim sum are usually steamed, baked or fried, and come served in traditional bamboo containers. Here’s a quick guide through some of the more popular dim sum dishes.

Siew Mai

Har Gau (see below) and Siew Mai (or usually translated to Steamed Meat Dumpling) combine to form the one of the most popular pairing of dim sum dishes. I’ve eaten Dim Sum umpteen times, and never had one without at least an order of each. In fact, they are the first things my dad would order when eating dim sum. So while we ponder on what to order next, we’ll be munching on these delicious dumplings. The original Cantonese Siew Mai is usually made out of pork and mushroom, but nowadays you can find all kinds of Siew Mai to suit your preferences.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Har Gau

I personally prefer Har Gau (Steamed Prawn Dumplings) compared to Siew Mai. The skin of Har Gau is delicate and translucent, wrapped around fresh juicy shrimps to form a pouch-shaped dumpling. They are usually dipped in soy sauce, rice vinegar, or even a combination of mayonnaise and chili sauce. This dish is a crowd pleaser, so be sure to order enough so that everybody will have at least one.

Photo credit - Nate Robert

Photo credit - Nate Robert

Cheong Fun

This dish features a thin roll of rice noodles that are filled with meat, vegetables or other ingredients. Before serving, the roll is usually cut into a few pieces and a spoonful of soy sauce is poured on top. With a wide variety, this dish comes filled with shrimp, beef, char siew, or even youtiao (Chinese fried bread stick), chicken or fish. My personal favorite is Cheong Fun with Youtiao, which features fried youtiao wrapped in noodle rolls. The crispy youtiao combines well with the silky noodle rolls, melting away in your mouth with a heavy dose of soy sauce. Heavenly!

Photo credit - Wendalicious

Photo credit - Wendalicious

Baos / Buns

The most popular type of Baos (Buns) is Char Siew Bao, which simply means BBQ Pork Buns. They are soft bread with a unique texture, filled with char siew (BBQ pork) at the center of the bun. The char siew is pork tenderloin slowly roasted to achieve a tender and sweet taste, which combines well with the fine soft bread on the outside. Though Char Siew Bao is another popular dim sum dish, it is not exactly one of my favorite. As much as I enjoyed the taste very much, it is however, a very filling dish. My preference is to skip this so I can eat more of the others.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Daikon & Taro Cake

Here’s another standard pairing when ordering dim sum. They are both similar in appearance, usually cut into square-shaped slices and pan-fried before serving. This makes them crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside. The Daikon Cake is made of shredded radish and flour while the Taro Cake is made from the vegetable taro.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Dan Tat

Dan Tat (Egg Tarts) is the Cantonese interpretation of egg custard tarts which are popular in many parts of the world. This pastry was initially introduced to compete with dim sum restaurants, but ironically they have now become part of the dim sum experience. Many variations are available, including egg white tarts, milk tarts, honey-egg tarts and even bird’s nest tarts.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Jin Dui

Jin Dui (Sesame Seed Balls) is a fried ball-shaped pastry coated with sesame seeds on the outside that is crisp and chewy. The pastry is filled usually with lotus paste, black bean paste or red bean paste. A more modern interpretation I’ve seen before are Jin Dui filled with chocolate and even durian.

Photo credit - Charles Haynes

Photo credit - Charles Haynes

Chun Juan

This is not a dim sum dish per say, as you can easily find them in various countries with differing interpretations. However, the fried version is one you would encounter in dim sum restaurants, usually filled with various meats.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Fu Pi Quan

This dish is similar to Spring Rolls, with the main difference being the outer layer of the dish is made of tofu skin. Just like Spring Rolls, you can find the fried and steamed versions, with various meat fillings inside of it.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Fung Jeow

Phoenix Talons is the fancy way of translating this dish name, which is usually just called Chicken Feet by non-Chinese speaking eaters (like yours truly). The chicken feet are first deep fried or steamed to make them puffy, and then stewed and marinated in flavored black bean sauce. The result is a dish that is moist, tender and flavorful, though it does consists of many small bones.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Lo Mai Gai

The English translation to this dish is quite a handful – Steamed Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf Wrap. It features glutinous rice filled with chicken meat and various vegetables, which is then wrapped in a dried lotus leaf and steamed. The result is a savory and flavorful dish, with the aroma of the lotus leaf and chicken melting into the sticky glutinous rice. A personal favorite.

Photo credit - Jason Lam

Photo credit - Jason Lam

Almond Jelly

This is a common dessert made of sweet Chinese almond. Almond milk is extracted, sweetened and then heated with a gelling agent. It is then chilled to create a tofu like pudding with a sweet almond taste.

Photo credit - jetalone

Photo credit - jetalone

Mango Pudding

Last but definitely not least, is one of my favorite dessert – the Mango Pudding. This is the perfect way to end your feast, a simple dessert that captures the glorious flavor of mangoes like no other. When done well, the pudding is silky smooth in texture, rich in flavor and refreshing in taste.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz


This post is part of WanderFood Wednesday, a Blog Carnival held by Wanderlust & Lipstick. Check them out for a visual treat of tasty dishes, or take part in the carnival yourself. Additionally, do check out as well our latest offering, our new Issue 02 of the magazine!


If you are planning a visit to Asia, don’t forget to check out Unearthing Asia, the best Asia travel portal focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. We have got some of the best travel ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of Singapore’s best romantic views. You can also find some information on cheap holidays to kavos here.

8 Must-Try Malaysian Food

March 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Exotic South East, Feature Highlights, Gourmet

Malaysia is home to fabulous street eats and equally tasty restaurants. With various influences from Malay and Chinese traditions, spicy Indian and Nonya dishes, Malaysia offers much to savour in all of its 13 different states and many more cities. The culinary scene is bustling with choices, fueled by this diversity of the country’s multicultural heritage. Here, we share with you the local favorites from three popular foodie stops in the region – Malacca, Penang and Ipoh Perak.

Ayam Buah Keluak

Nonya Cuisine is also a must try in Malacca, where you can find mouthwatering food combining Chinese ingredients with Malay herbs and spices. The Malaccan version of Nonya Cuisine favor the use of coconut milk, and is therefore richer in taste. Ayam Buah Keluak is a popular Nonya dish, which is chicken stewed with black nuts. Don’t be put off by the murky, ink-like gravy! The sauce is rich and creamy, and mixes very well with the kepayang nuts and chicken meat.

Photo credit - Pinoy Food

Photo credit - Pinoy Food

Ikan Bakar

The aromatic grilled fish dish is another must-try – ikan bakar (literally, burnt fish in malay). The fish is marinated in a myriad of spices, then wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over charcoal fire. In Malacca, head towards Perkampungan Ikan Bakar Terapung, 11 km off Malacca Town, where you can get freshly barbequed fish along with a good selecion of seafood such as cockles, squids and oysters grilled on the spot.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Nasi Kandar

Nasi Kandar is a popular northern Malaysia dish that originated from the state of Penang, so its small wonder you’ll find so many stalls around the state offering this dish. This Malaysian staple comprises simply of plain or flavored rice accompanied by side dishes such as fried chicken, curried spleen, cubed beef, fish roe, fried prawns or fried squid.
A mixture of curry sauces is then poured on top, imparting
a diverse taste to the rice. Other than in Penang, Nasi Kandar is also a popular dish in Ipoh, Malacca and more.

Photo credit - EightySixx

Photo credit - EightySixx

Penang Char Kway Teow

Another popular dish is char kway teow, flat rice noodles fried with beansprouts, prawns, cockles, chives and eggs in a rich dark sauce. The Penang version of this popular South East Asian dish (you can also find local versions in Indonesia and Singapore), is smooth and smokey, with additional light and dark soy sauces, extra spices and the use of broader width variety of flat rice noodles.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Penang Laksa

No visit to Penang is complete without a bowl of its namesake laksa. The Penang laksa is a rice noodles dish served in a thick and tasty spicy broth, spiked with flaked mackerels and a generous serving of vegetables. In Penang, head towards Lorong Selamat, off Macalister Road to try out this renowned dish – there are two versions, the sour type, and the lemak type (with the addition of coconut milk).

Photo credit - Chee Hong

Photo credit - Chee Hong

Chicken Rice

One of the most popular dish in Ipoh is the humble chicken rice. In Ipoh, the chicken is poached Hainanese style, served with beansprouts and pork meatball soup. The famed Lou Wong Restaurant is a popular place specializing in chicken rice. Their chicken is perfectly done, cooked just enough to retain a juicy smoothness that is often absent from overcooked chicken. They come mixed with beansprouts and drizzled with a tasty combination of sesame oil and soy sauce mix.

Photo credit - Charles Haynes

Photo credit - Charles Haynes

Ipoh Hor Fun

When in Ipoh, be sure to try out their famed Ipoh Hor Fun. There are two variations of the dish itself. The soupy version comes served with a clear chicken and prawn browth, topped with shredded chicken meat and spring onions. The other version is a fried version, boldly flavored and enhanced with a splash of dark gravy.

Photo credit - avlxyz

Photo credit - avlxyz

Nasi Lemak

Perhaps the most popular and ubiquitous staple of Malaysian cuisine is nasi lemak, a simple dish comprising of rice cooked with coconut milk, ikan bilis (fried anchovies), roasted peanuts, some vegetables and a generous portion of a tasty sambal chilli. This is a popular dish that can be found all over Southeast Asia, each with their own local influences in the dish.

Photo credit - emrank

Photo credit - emrank

Unearthing Asia now offers travel packages throughout the region of Asia. Check out our promotional offers of Luxury Private Villas in Bali, perfect for Honeymooners or those looking for a little romance. We also have great offers for hotels in Singapore, resorts in Phuket and many more.

About the Author. Nikolas Tjhin. A graphic and web designer in its previous incarnation, Nik’s journeyman career has seen him do work for various creative studios in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Singapore and Jakarta. Now, he’s settled down for the time being and focusing his efforts as the editor of an Asia travel zine, Unearthing Asia.

10 Unusual Asian Delicacies

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Feature Highlights, General Fun, Gourmet

Asia is known not just for its diverse cultures and traditions, but also a galore of exotic food that often surprises and astonishes, sometimes not to a positive effect. Now to list all the unusual food found in this colorful region would be simply impossible, they are just too many. So instead, we are starting out here with a list of just ten unusual delicacies from all over the region. Know of any other delicacies that you feel should make the list? Let us know and we’ll compile them on our future update!

Tuna Eyes. Photo credit - Altons Images & chloeandliah.

Tuna Eyes. Photo credit - Altons Images & chloeandliah.

Tuna Eyes

Where to find: Japan
If you can handle your food staring back at you, feasting on tuna eyes should come as a pleasure. Except for the bizarre situation of having to look at your food in the eye, they are actually pretty tantalizing for its fatty, jelly-like tissues around the eyeballs. Some prefer to eat it raw, albeit the fishy taste, others would rather steam or fry it alongside garlic or soya sauce to spice it up. Selling for less than 100 yen (approximately US$1) in Japan, this is a popular local delicacy worth trying out!

Durians. Photo credit - DarkPaisleh & MelvinHeng.

Durians. Photo credit - DarkPaisleh & MelvinHeng.

Durians

Where to find: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia
Either you love it or hate it. This “King of Fruits” has garnered avid lovers and intense loathers alike. So powerful is its aroma (or stench), it could be detected miles away, and the smell lingers in your breath and fingers long after you are done with it. In some areas they are even banned, such is the powerful odor that comes from it! The durian has a shell full of “spikes” which you cut open and take out the fruit. They are the size of a ping pong balls, and the flesh is yellowish, sticky and gluey. Coupled with its distinctive aroma, durians come in two “flavors” – sweet and bitter. It is worth a try, or at least a sniff to experience the acquired taste of the King of Fruits. 

Lamb's brains. Photo credit - The Rocketeer & QueenKv.

Lamb's brains. Photo credit - The Rocketeer & QueenKv.

Lamb’s Brains

Where to find: India
Before anyone gags, lamb’s brains are actually pretty mild and not as revolting as you may think. They are white (when cooked, of course), tofu-like and often considered a gourmet treat prepared with Indian roti and curry. You can enjoy lamb’s brain served in various concoction – fried with tomatoes, egg, masala or even plain.

White Ants Eggs Soup. Photo credit - Xose Castro & Marshall Astor.

White Ants Eggs Soup. Photo credit - Xose Castro & Marshall Astor.

White Ant Eggs

Where to find: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam
Walk along the streets of Sukhumvit, Bangkok and you’ll discover a whole new diversity of Thai gourmet. From restaurants to street stalls, the myriad of food will leave you bedazzled. But from delight to shock comes street stalls offering delicacies such as scorpions, beetles, grasshoppers, frogs, usually fried. White ant (or termites) eggs soup are probably one of the weirdest choice out of the rest, but they taste surprisingly good! The soup comes with a mixture of eggs, half embryos and baby ants. The eggs are soft and pop gently in your mouth with a wee bit of sour taste.

Smelly tofu. Photo credit - Mr Wabu & LexnGer.

Smelly tofu. Photo credit - Mr Wabu & LexnGer.

Smelly Tofu

Where to find: Hong Kong, Taiwan, China
As the name suggests, this popular street snack is renowned for its pungent smell, often likened to garbage or manure. The smelly toufu is actually fermented tofu, best eaten with sweet or spicy sauces. Despite a smell that turns most people away, even for its enthusiasts, smelly toufu has a light taste and once it tickles your fancy, you could be a fan of it.

Balut. Photo credit - Marshall Astor & Kerolic.

Balut. Photo credit - Marshall Astor & Kerolic.

Balut

Where to find: Phillipines
Native to Phillipines, Baluts are half-fertilized duck or chicken eggs boiled with its shell. It doesn’t exactly look inviting as the semi-developed ducklings are already visibly formed. However, the Balut is a popular local dish eaten throughout the Phillipines, believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack. Often served with beer, the biggest challenge in trying out balut is overcoming its unappetizing sight, but most people would agree that it tasted much better than it looks.

Fugu. Photo credit - Culinary Journal & moophisto.

Fugu. Photo credit - Culinary Journal & moophisto.

Fugu (Blowfish)

Where to find: Japan
This rare delicacy in Japan is only for risk-takers. Intensely dangerous due to its high tetrodotoxin content, which can thwart the nervous systems in minutes and kill in a few hours, this dish is served strictly in licensed restaurants. Like an art, the fugu is delicately prepared through various complicated procedures to ensure that the toxins are thoroughly cleared. It is thinly sliced and often served as sashimi (raw). Dip the meat with wasabi or Japanese soya sauce and pop it gently into your mouth. Some professional chefs prepare this delicate sashimi so there is a minute amount of poison in the meat, giving a prickling feeling and numbness on the tongue and the lips. Fugu is considered a luxury good in Japan, costing up to USD$200 for a full set.

Drunken Shrimp. Photo credit - VIPWorld & HuevosConLeche.

Drunken Shrimp. Photo credit - VIPWorld & HuevosConLeche.

Drunken Shrimp

Where to find: Shanghai
When I first heard about the dish Drunken Shrimp, my first thought goes to the usual style of steaming your shrimps in a healthy dose of wine and alcohol. It gives the shrimp an additional dash of sweetness, making it a favorite of mine. The actual Shanghainese Drunken Shrimp however, is an entirely different experience – most notably because of the absence of steaming, or any kinds of cooking whatsoever. The shrimps are not only raw, but live! They are served bathed in strong liquor, which helps to make the shrimps less feisty, and you eat the still twitching body right away after you decapitate the poor fellow.

Silkworm Larvae. Photo credit - KSBuehler & Lokhin.

Silkworm Larvae. Photo credit - KSBuehler & Lokhin.

Beondegi (Silkworm Larvae)

Where to find: South Korea
Literally meaning “chrysalis” or “pupa” in Korean, the Silkworm Larvae are a popular snack in South Korea. They are either steamed or boiled, and then seasoned before serving. If you can get through the subtle, nutty aroma, these little guys are crunchy with a unique, strange texture inside.

Tarantula snacks. Photo credit - spotter_nl.

Tarantula snacks. Photo credit - spotter_nl.

Tarantula

Where to find: Skuon, Cambodia
During the years of terror under the Khmer Rogue, starvation was rife across Cambodia, and the people began eating anything they could get their hands on. The tarantula was one such subject, and the people of Skuon, Cambodia, developed a taste for them, even long after the regime change. These distant cousins of the crab are crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle, with the white delicate meat in the head and body tasting rather like a cross between chicken and cod.

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