April 3, 2013

Transparent Apron Underground Supper Club

In a wink of time, it has been more than a year,since I move back from Penang in January 2012, and together with my best friend (vomits) we started a 8 pax underground supper club.

And over the last 14 months, we hosted numerous monthly dinners, struggled with consistent pretty plating, serving an approximately 200 pax in a food bazaar, get to know many new friends, got featured in various form of press and all that jazz.

photo 1

While we moonlight this ‘hobby’ of ours and still keep doing well in our day job (our bosses is reading) this has kept us productive, organized and systematic. In our own terms.

photo 2

Scheduling shopping trips, battling evening traffic, researching, optimizing PUNY kitchen space and lack of equipment, spending on cutleries and utensils and constantly running on adrenaline has been part of the weekend routine. A fulfilling routine it is. Now a team of 4, or rather a 5 of us, Nicklaus, Stephanie, Joel, Pepper the dessert schnauzer and myself has come to this rhythm of constant love.

photo 3

For the rest of the year, there’s a good line up of activities that will keep us occupied. Watch this space!

Facebook: transparent apron underground supper club                                                 email: trans.apron@gmail.com











Personal Money

Home & Décor

Time Out KL

Men’s UNO


The Edge



…and all friends and our diners.

October 22, 2012

Chaokar is still around

Now it is coming the the fourth quarter of the year. And my last post was sometime in January.

Been occupying myself with quite a handful of activities actually. Took a change in career, moved back to the city from Penang, started a underground supper club, participated in street food bazaar and Pepper came into my life. Or more like, I bought Pepper from the pet shop.


Despite all these, I still cook. It is still my avenue for stress relieve. Here’s what I made last Sunday, 3 simple dishes.


I start with making chicken and cuttlefish stock. About 1.5 litres of water boiled with chicken carcass, ginger, coriander roots and a whole garlic. Pretty simply stock, and let it simmer for about 60 minutes and so on. The plan is to add in enoki mushrooms, grey oyster mushrooms and this leafy-seaweedy like leaf known as ‘tian qi’. The roots are usually used for herbal soup, but the leaves are great too. I add in stripes of pork shoulder cuts, marinated in soy sauce, corn starch, sesame oil and shaoxing wine. Just a quick blanch and it’s ready to be served. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper.



And for the vegetable dish, stir fry kangkung with dried shrimps and sambal belachan. I always in need for a spicy dish in my meal. So in a hot oiled wok, fry the chopped dried shrimps (I soak them earlier to get it soft and to wash away the saltiness.  Then add in a chopped garlic and chilli and a teaspoon of sambal belachan (I cheat a little, using pre-prepped sambal belachan). When your eyes gets teary and the dog barks in excitement, add in the vegetables. A quick stir fry for about 2 minutes and season with some salt and soy sauce, and it’s ready.


And my last dish would be salt baked crabs. I bought two fresh live crabs and I have them cleaned and spilt into half. On a baking dish, I add in slices of ginger and a handful of Chinese parsley. Sprinkle salt and wrapped them up in aluminium foil and baked at 200’c for about 15 minutes. At the final 3-5 minutes, remove the foil to ‘grill’ it up.


And with a simple chilli + soya sauce dip, it’s finger licking good.


And, introducing Transaparent Apron Supper Club. I’ve been working on this project with my friend Nicklaus Au since late last year. Google and facebook us up for more info.

January 8, 2012

Il Bacaro @ Campbell House

So after a long day at work, I head out splurging on food to reward myself. Even though I’m in the island of hawker’s food paradise, I do miss good ol’ Klang Valley bakuteh (Penang bakuteh sucks) and the Westerns fares. I drove myself around and I came across this interesting shop house. It says Campbell House and there is this dainty Italian restaurant tucked away cozily  by the name Il Bacaro.

As I walk in, I love the tiles. The 19th century tiles, restored and geometrically arranged did thrill my OCB positively. Yeah, I’ve got this thing on organized stuffs and etc. And I like restored buildings. Since the UNESCO recognition, there’s a lot of restoration works going around and many of these building is being restored into charming landmarks.


And so, I ordered my dinner. A glass of wine, vongole al pepe, and pan seared salmon with wilted spinach. Immediately they set my table, served my wine and the bread. I am trying to make myself comfortable avoiding glares of other diners, as I hog away the only available table for 5. Well dining alone can sometimes be interesting, the waitress check on me frequently and attempted small talks which leads into introducing me to the kitchen crew and show me the whole place after my dinner. The wine wasn’t great, but the bread reminds me of steamed Chinese sponge cake, in a good way.


I love the attentive service and the timely flow of the entire dinner. I am guessing this 6 months old establishment has got a good food culturist advisor to begin with.

And next came the appetizer, vongole al pepe. Clams with white wine sauce is my all time favorite. And they have cook it well. All the flavours are right, well infused with fresh herbs and chilies. The parsley are home-grown herbs from their roof top.


And then came the main, pan seared salmon with wilted spinach and Béarnaise sauce. Love the crispy skin, but a teeny bit over salt for me. The sauce goes well together but the kitchen crew got to mind those bones I found tho.


After dinner I got a tour with my coffee and dessert was on the house. I chatted away with Eric, the person in charge of running the place. And I was lucky enough to be given a tour at the rooms on the first and second floor. The boutique suites and the restaurant is lovely, and topping up with lovely people that runs the place. And they change their menu on monthly basis, it would be interesting to check them out regularly.

Il Bacaro @ Campbell House
106, Lebuh Campbell,
10100 Georgetown,
T: +604 4261 8290
W: www.campbellhousepenang.com


P/S: By the way, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! :P

November 13, 2011

Here’s a thought

It has been stormy. As things are trying to settle itself in this new environment, emotionally life was shaken by the few takes. Over the weeks, while I’m swamped with work and maneuvering the unusual, surprises bite me. Few times.

But before that, the last gastronomical adventure took me around Pengkalan Weld. The place is famous for the houses in stilts, built along the straits and and categorized by clans and Chinese surnames.
Walking on the wooden planks, every steps creaks and to the residents it became daily rhythm of life. The creaks vary by speed, weights, walking style and of daily routine sorts. (ahem!) And while I walked out from the neighborhood, I spotted this little restaurant, Kar Bee Cafe with a line of people waiting. It is a seafood place servicing noodles and porridge, where you pick your choice of seafood, carb, soup base (or porridge) and wait.

That evening I feel like having Tom Yum with thick beehoon (rice vermicelli), prawns, fried fish and squids. Using the plate stacking system, I’d say they are pretty fast for a restaurant with just one cook. And the continuous buzzing gas-flame that whirrs loudly, a sign of a good ‘wok hei’ (a very hot stove, to a point of slight burnt, significant in Chinese cooking).

So I slurp away my noodles, and first thought it felt like under salt. Or not. Second slurp, I could taste the sweetness of the fresh seafood. And later it all came in harmony it was perfect. Perhaps over the years, I have gotten use to stronger stock that it somewhat camouflaged the freshness of ingredients used. Here, it reminds me of the ‘just-right-subtleness’ stocks and it brings out the seafood flavors better. Kinda like my grandma’s cooking, slightly under salt but the protein taste better.
So the meal came up to about RM 15++ with generous portion, definitely fresh and wholesome. Twas a good meal!

Kar Bee Cafe,

View Larger Map

And about the emo-surprises.
1) I missed an accident by inches on one of my drive back from Penang to KL. Mr. Sleepy 3 tonne lorry decided to sway to my lane at 1am. My massive honking woke him up or otherwise, catastrophic.

2) I had fever, and I pop in aspirins, thinking it would go away. But it didn’t, next day woke with a woozy feeling strange metallic taste in my mouth and sores on my tongue. Couple of hours later, my tongue hurts and it bleed. Then I lost my sense of taste for few weeks. Doctor couldn’t find anything wrong about it and told me about tongue cancer and ask me to observe for and anomaly. Tongue cancer!? Thankfully, the sores went away 2 weeks later and I regain my taste bud again. But during that period, it’s was depressing. I didn’t even know how to share it and kept it to myself for that 14 over days. Depressing shit.

3) The passing of an inspiring musician that I had briefly work with, Brian Tan of pancreatic cancer (during my 2 weeks of tongue/mouth observation). Depressing that he had left and more depressing thinking about what will happen if it I had cancer. Sounds silly, but I couldn’t escape thinking about death, funeral, love, family, friends and all.

Geez, it’s far off the usual foodie post, but it did wake me up on life. Still recovering from the depressing thoughts, but have set some priorities right too. Stay tuned !

October 15, 2011

From the pearl of orient

And it has been about 3 weeks now that I’m living in Penang. Yup, if you didn’t know already, work sent me to this lovely island and I’ll be based here for some time. I do miss Klang Valley but settling here isn't too bad. To begin with I got a lovely condo by the sea. The layout of the place had all the rooms and the living room with sea view.


So when I’m not work, and not staring blank at sea from my room, I go stuff myself silly. Well, it’s Penang folks, there is always something to munch on, every corner, all the time. So last weekend I went to look for char kuey teow. I have sampled few including the notorious ones, the hidden ones, the dancing ones and so on, and I think I found my favorite.

This is char koay teow @ Sin Guat Keong Kopitiam. They only sell from evening to late night, and it’s char koay teow with a twist; by adding deep fried mantis prawns at RM 5 per plate.


From a distance I could already hear the clanking of their wok and when I got to their stall, the air is filled with aroma of chilies, charcoal and awesomeness. So I ordered my portion, and before anything, it’s served. This is fast! Super fast! The glistening flat rice noodles is packed with flavours, of being spicy, salty and this unexpected sweet-ish taste. The fresh prawns with the plump cockles and the meaty mantis gives a lovely combination to the oily charcoal scented noodles. Makes me salivate just to rewrite the experience again.



And unlike the other infamous notorious yet arrogant char koay teow stall, this guy is very very friendly. His wife and his workers have a welcoming gesture despite swarming with orders and work. And they love sharing their stories whenever they can. I chatted with the wife, shyly but proud she told me about all the media feature they had over the years. Their char koay teow stall has been around since his grandfather’s time. That’s like 3 generation ago, and the same night I was there, his teenage son is helping and honing the cooking skills under the watchful eyes of his parents.

Then I asked about the speed, how could they serve it so quickly. The trick is pre-fried koay teow. As part of the preparation he would pre-fried plain koay teow and upon orders he would refry them again with the rest of the ingredients, plate by plate. That way they could serve it faster and at the same time keeping the ingredients cook time and taste, just right.


Thumbs up for char koay teow @ Sin Guat Keong Kopitiam.

86,Lebuh Kimberly, 10100 Georgetown, Pulau Pinang

View Larger Map

August 25, 2011

Hip Hip Hooray.

And here it goes.

I guess I have got to stop starting my entries on being apologetic for non regular updates or so. Life has been hectic. Over the past months, there were some travelling, show producing, house renovation, working assignments outside Klang Valley and all that jazz.


collage: bens’, bea;s wedding, assam laksa, nasi lemak

Right now, I am in Penang. The ‘rojak’ of cultural integration and street food abundance. I look forward to every meal and I am equally surprised with the space available in my stomach. And reasonably priced too.


collage: curry mee, nasi kandar, ais kacang, lengcheekang & sunset bridge

And another reason I blame of lack of post is... my outdated camera. Hang on EOS 60D. I will be back. Soon.


collage: sunday roast, wholemeal sandwich, piggy door stopper, tommy le baker & night bridge


… Selamat Hari Raya !

July 12, 2011

Comforting porridge

And it bring back a lot of memories whenever I eat  porridge. Back then, porridge is one of the few things I hated, same goes for bitter gourd, durians, canned black beans fish and etc. I couldn’t remember how it all gradually became my favourite food as I grow older. Having porridge for lunch was like a regular affair, especially for my dad. Even though Cantonese, I think my dad grew up around the strong Teochew community in Kedah and Penang making Teowchew porridge a regular lunch for us. But be it Teochew or Cantonese porridge, I just simple don’t like it. Whenever mum cooks them, I thought someone at home is sick. And when she does cook it for lunch, I would cycle out from the house and head over the nearby Thai food stall for lunch. Of course I would get a good scolding when I got home later.

So, somehow somewhere between the times that I am ready to leave home for tertiary education, I mysteriously discovered a new appreciation for porridge (and also the rest of the food that I hated earlier).

It is comforting and it feels like home. Really.

And one reason that I like to cook them is, they are really easy. For Teochew porridge; just boil it with water and prepare some side dishes and for Cantonese porridge; just chuck everything in timely and let it cook.

Here’s my Monday comfort dinner:

CMCC porridge (kinda mouthful to name it, but it’s: Chicken + Mushroom + Clams + Century Egg porridge)


Using Asian agak agak techniques, boil some rice (washed) with a knob of ginger and some dried oyster. While waiting for it to simmer, soak some mushrooms and prepare the chicken. I use chicken thigh particularly. And once it come to boil, add in the chicken. Once the chicken is cook, debone it and shred the meat. The remaining of the bones can go into the porridge. Then wait for the porridge consistency to thicken up.  In between that, give it a good stir to avoid if from going lumpy and burnt. After a reasonable amount of time, add in the shredded chickens, coarsely chopped  century egg and diced mushroom. And of course the pacific clams, and the brine is optional. A dash of sesame oil and salt to taste.

Bring to boil and it’s ready to be served with a dash of pepper and a whip of soy sauce.