Thursday, December 11, 2014

#sianstakesonHK :: hong kong!

#sianstakesonhk

FINALLY!

i've finally crossed one off my travel bucket list: "fragrant harbor"!

...or better known as hong kong!


carrying the reputable labels of "gourmet paradise" and "world's fair of food", hk has been on my wishlist as a foodie first, traveller second. i'm still craving for my tasting experience of a couple of hong kong's best offering captured in my five day food travelogue. #siansEATShongkong



plane tickets purchased in july, accommodation confirmed in august but the planning for my restaurant wishlist started since july to scrounge for not-to-be-missed places from too many websites to finally narrow down to more than twenty places on my very own personalized city guide for hong kong that also works as my travel memorabilia. that and of course, the things to do in hong kong. ...

very touristy, i know. 




while i skipped on michelin starred restaurants (wweeellll... except for one must-eat-no-matter-the-case) since my friend {mh} and i were on a semi shoestring budget, i piled on the char chaan teng's (tea houses), dai pai dongs (open air food stalls) and some street food to fulfil my mission to eat like the locals as much as i can. 


come mid-november where the weather was perfection in its high 70s (that's mid-20s in celcius) - not too cold, not too warm, just nice :) - i could finally find out if my planning came in handy.


[#protip] consider airbnb for reasonably priced accommodation options but take the time to read the reviews and double check with tripadvisor. 

budget on a shoestring sometimes meant skimping on the accommodation but that doesn't necessarily mean it can't be comfortable and clean in a strategic location. 


we managed to find a hostel-like room in mongkok, just right at the bustling street market of ladies street. it was really great for late nights without needing to travel far especially for two girls in a foreign land during late nights. 


however, there was one thing though, it may not be suitable for light sleepers are the vendors have to dismantle the shop at around midnight which may create a slight racket. but it didn't bother us since we were beat after a day of exploration, walking and eating so we ended up sleeping through the night without any issues.


located in the kowloon area, the room is within building that reminded me of the old apartments i've watched in hk tv series where even the lifts (yes, thank goodness for elevators instead of having to lug our huge luggages!) were slightly old school. the room may be really small but was sufficient for two petite girls. what's more important is that the beds were comfy for us to recharge for our daily adventures and the bathroom was clean. 

the best part of renting a room was that i was able to experience a snippet of hong kong living from the local perspective, even if it was just a small little bit.


this entry signifies the start of the series about my travelogues and food reviews in hong kong, which will cover my five day adventure that consisted a ton of walking, eating and sightseeing! hope you're excited to come with me on on journey of exploring the land with too many people! hehe! ;)

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.

Monday, December 1, 2014

palsaik korean bbq at solaris mon't kiara

p.s. while i am still sorting out my food excursions in hong kong and making plans on my travelogue sharing which will be written and published soon (i can't wait to write about my yummy adventures!), this entry is in conjunction to celebrate my mini success in completing korean beginner's 2 classes! ;)

*                               *                                   *

it is ranked 6th by korean tourism organization (kto) as one of the top 10 korean dishes.

its popularity in south korea is astounding, so much so that koreans consume the most of this beloved dish in the world, often needing to import in order satiate the cravings of the locals.

and its name is SAMGYEOPSAL{삼겹살}.

essentially thickly sliced pork belly {돼지고기}, the name is inspired by the three distinct alternating layers of fat and meat where it is literally translated to three 'sam'{삼}, layer 'gyeop' {겹}, meat 'sal' {살}. typically uncured, not seasoned and not marinated, samgyeopsal is a barbecue dish {고기구이} where the meat is grilled over the charcoal grill or in this case, flat cast iron griddle over gas stove. this allows the meat to shine in its true essence and the 'seasoning' comes after the cooking.



i've explored KL's korean town in ampang to taste korea's most desired pork dish, which yielded pretty good results but a few weeks ago, a couple of my friends introduced me to a restaurant that puts a fascinating twist to the classic samgyeopsal at palsaik korean bbq restaurant {팔색삼겹살}. in fact, it was recently crowned by time out kuala lumpur in their 2014 awards as the 'best korean restaurant',

located in solaris mon't kiara, the restaurant replicated its flagship store's decor in south korea including the eye catching cute-sy little piggy table number that is hung just below the lamp. clean and simplistic, it starts with cement floors and wooden panels that lined the walls while the other half of the wall are ceiling high windows to allow the sunlight to illuminate the restaurant. there is one main dining area and also a few private rooms for bigger party of diners. practicality was reflected with the barrel-like stools with removable cushion that doubles as a bag storage and the utensils kept in the drawers at the table.




perhaps we were in luck because when we arrived on a sunday afternoon, the restaurant was rather quiet with 2-3 other tables occupied. it did pick up its pace a little as the afternoon progressed.

since palsaik korean bbq is a specialized restaurant, the menu was condensed into a mere two pages where there are three sets: 3color set {삼색한상} for 2 persons, and a choice of either 8color set {팔색한상} or the premium set {명품한상} for 3 to 4 persons. side dishes are available for addons as well.




like samgyeopsal, palsaik's name has meaning rooted within; 'pal'{팔} is eight while 'saek' {색} translates to color - the signature dish: the fresh pork belly {생삼겹살} marinated in eight sauces - ginseng {인사}, wine {와인}, pine needles {솔잎}, garlic {마늘}, herb {허브}, curry {커리}, soy bean paste {된장} and hot pepper sauce {고추장}.





8color set {팔색한상} | palsaik pork belly which is not only good for your health but also tasty, seasoned with 8 different ingredients  - set for 3~4 persons; set + seafood soup + vegetables (rm 112)
{건강에 좋고 맛도 좋은 여덟가지 색깔 스페셜하게 즐기는 팔색삼겹살}


one of the things i love about korean food is that the meals are typically a balanced meal. despite the many strips of pork belly, there is a ton of vegetable accompaniment on top of the salad and kimchi, all of which are refillable by request.




the seafood stew - a clear broth with mixed vegetables, tofu and seafood of crab, shrimp, mussels, clams and squid in a shallow metal hot pot that turns fiery red as the soup simmers to a bubble. the soup (is also refillable!) was spicy with mild seasoning but didn't manage to extract the flavors of the fresh seafood into the soup without overcooking the shellfish.





while the seafood soup was cooking, two scoopfuls of kimchi was placed at one of the ends of the hot griddle pan, while the straw mushroom, slices of raw garlic and fresh green chillies joined in the party. and finally the highlight of the meal completed the hot griddle.

[#protip: the restaurant staff would be doing the grilling for you at your table!]



(p.s. the daikon cube on the stick is not edible but instead is used to clean the flat griddle of grease throughout the cooking process)



the grilling was done with two batches where the first four strips were marinated in the lighter sauces followed by the stronger flavors.





while the first four strips were grilled to perfection, they are stacked aside while the rest of the pork belly were placed on the griddle.


i have learned the ways of koreans in savoring samgyeopsal in little porky parcels, although honestly it's alright to have fun with food and have it just the way you like it. start with the leaf of your choice, be it the lettuce leaves 'sangchu' {상추} or sesame leaves 'ggaennip' {깻잎}, place the piece of meaty goodness dipped into soy bean paste sauce {된장}, then toss in sides of warm kimchi, green chillies for heat and garlic for extra punch of flavor to get 'sangchussam' {상추쌈} or 'ssam' {쌈} which literally means 'lettuce wrapped' or 'wrapped' that should be eaten in one bite.




each strip of  the samgyeopsal had its own subtle differences and wore the flavors as you would expect them to.

ginseng {인사}: subtle earthy bitterness; wine {와인}: light wine flavor, almost undetectable; pine needles {솔잎}: murmurs a grass-like freshness, herbaceous; garlic {마늘}: a light garlic punch; herb {허브}: whispers of herbs (can't seem to figure out what) that was too soft; curry {커리}: prominently curry spices without much heat; soy bean paste {된장}: salty, savory with light sweet undertones; hot pepper sauce {고추장}: slightly spicy with the familiar salty savoriness.

the strips of pork belly had a good fat to meat ratio making them succulent and meaty simultaneously as the warm tart and mildly spicy kimchi contrasted the cool raw vegetables and the rounded saltiness of the soy bean paste. my favorite has got to be the soy bean paste, garlic and the hot pepper sauce for the occasional heat. more importantly, discerning the eight different nuances in flavors that tickled the five elements of taste in one meal has made this a rather special samgyeopsal experience.

side dishes :: cheese stir fried rice {치즈복음밥} (rm15)

with the five of us sharing the meal, we added an order of rice to fill our hungry bellies, which was prepared at the table by the staff. in similar fashion as 'dalkgalbi' {닭갈비}, as we have consumed the seafood broth to a minimal amount, the broth will be mixed with the leftover kimchi from the griddle which would become the base for the fried rice.











it was simple and quick by adding sesame leaves for the punch of herbaceous brightness to counter the mild spiciness of stock absorbed by the rice, mild saltiness from the seaweed and finished the creamy meltiness of the cheese. it was a a pretty tasty encounter although my personal preference would be to add a small spoonful of hot pepper sauce!




palsaik korean bbq restaurant offers something slightly different from its counterparts. while i would have had a happier belly if they served a few more side dishes {반찬} (including the spicy green onion salad which is surprisingly enjoyed in seoul {파절이} - a perfect accompaniment), the concept of samgyeopsal marinated in eight different sauces that deliciously seduces the taste buds in a mild manner had won me over. although the menu is very limited, it is worth trying out at least once with family/friends who crave for pork belly goodness with a twist! :)

[#protip: as with other korean grill restaurants, you will come out smelling like korean bbq! dress  lightly since it will be warm with all the grills on the go!]


palsaik korean bbq restaurant | location
j-01-09, soho kl,
no 2, jalan solaris,
mon't kiara,
50480 kuala lumpur
{opens sunday - thursday: 1130 am - 1030pm;
friday & saturday: 1130am - 1130pm}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.