All about Food. B:9 Most of the blog will be about my various cooking experiments with some reviews of local restaurants thrown in once in a while. Reviews/food experiences from other place will be included also.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quick Reviews - By the Docks (crab cakes) and Margaret Kuo (Chinese food)

I've been wanting to write up reviews for some the restaurants we went to while I was in US, but I'm lazy to write up full articles. Instead I'll just write a few short blurbs.

Ma, Ba, and I went to an outlet mall in Lancaster, PA to do some shopping, and for dinner they decided to drive all the way down to Baltimore, MD for crab cakes. Ba took us to one in Aberdeen a few years back which was pretty good, but fairly recently his colleagues recommend this place By the Dock Restaurant and Lounge (3321 Eastern Blvd, Middle River, Maryland 21220). This place was packed with people even around five in the afternoon. This place is famous for their crab cakes so we ordered two single crab cake dinner (one fried and one baked) and crab stuffed with shrimp platter. The waitress even suggested that I order the baked one for extra crab flavor (more crab meat and less filling) The dish came with baked potato, a gigantic crab cake, and salad. The portion was huuuuuuuuge! Even though we skipped lunch, we still couldn't finish all the crab cakes. The crab cakes were very flavorful and choke full of real, fresh crab meat. At around $16 per plate, it was a very good deal. I also ordered the French onion soup which was very hardy and very, very tasty, full of beefy, oniony, cheesy flavor. Definitely the best crab cakes in MD, and I loved it even though I'm generally not a fan of crabs.

My sister took us to Margaret Kuo's (175 E. Lancaster Ave. Wayne, PA), a very fancy Chinese restaurant, to celebrate her promotion at work. We ordered a bunch of dimsum and other Chinese snacks and well as sukiyaki from their upstairs Japanese section (The Akari Room). All the dishes were very well made and tasted very fresh. The dishes are like the refined version of snacks found in other Chinese restaurants. The sukiyaki consisted of lots of veggies, noodles, tofu, and thinly sliced Kobe beef. I noticed the cooking sauce was different compared to the ones I had before, and the waiter said the broth they used for the sauce is vegetable broth instead of bonito broth. All this tastiness came at a very high price, but it was well worth it considering the ambiance, the service, and the food were all top notch. I think we were treated extra well because we spoke Chinese. Haha. I was amused by a couple things in the restaurant. The gong was sounded to announce the arrival of Peking duck and the waiter carved the duck in front of the table who order the dish. We also had a very friendly chat with the manager (who is also a Taiwanese?) of the restaurant. She recommended the turnip cake, and when she found out my mom can make Chinese snacks (particularly the turnip cake), she asked for the recipe.

Too bad Wid missed both the awesome crab cakes and the Kobe beef sukiyaki because he had to go back to Bali early.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Beef Ribs at Warisan

The four of us (Wid, his bro, bro's wife, and I) went to Warisan to check out their beef ribs after we heard good things about this dish. We ordered the three person portion of the dish which came with 1.75 kg Black Angus beef ribs, salad, and French fries. We also ordered the French onion soup, warm shredded duck salad, a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, dessert platter, and some sort of cold vegetarian lasagna with balsamic vinaigrette which turned out to be a salad layered with flat noodles (looked like wonton skin to me). The onion soup was all right (I had better, like the one from By the Docks in Maryland) but I think their garlic soup is still much better. Too bad the garlic soup isn't in their regular menu anymore.

The main even was the beef ribs and they were wonderful!! I have to say it's the best beef I had in Bali so far. The meat was tender, juicy, and very flavorful, both smoky and beefy. The raw material itself was high quality and the chef did an excellent job of cooking the meat. The red wine complemented the meat perfectly. I also thought they did an excellent job of cooking the French fries. The desserts were great as usual and it's always good to end a meal on a high note.

The meal for the four of us ended up costing around 2 million rp. Most of the cost came from the beef (990,000 rp) and the wine (440,000 rp), but it was well worth the price because we had an excellent time and the food was fantastic. This meal was definitely much better than my previous experience at Warisan (they ran out of duck confit and the duck dish I ended up ordering was so salty that I couldn't eat it). I still don't know what happened with the previous time because all the other times we've been to Warisan, we had really excellent food.

I told Wid's dad about our experience and now he wants to try the beef. Hehe.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008


For future reference:

Jl. Gatot Subroto No. 100 Ka(?) 3
Denpasar, Bali

Tel: 0361-236337

Excellent pao/bao place. I ate the mung bean one and Bonnie was eyeing the pao the whole time. Silly doggie, buns aren't for dogs.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Review - Cafe Marzano

Out of curiosity Wid and I checked out Cafe Marzano (Jl. Kunli No. 7, Seminyak, Kuta) about a week ago and we went back again just a few days ago. The inside reminded us of Cafe Felix in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Most of the clients were Italians or foreigners, and we kept seeing boxes of pizza ordered for delivery or to go, which looked like a good sign.

The first time we ordered pizza, seafood pasta, bruschetta, fresh apple juice, and coke. Out of all the Italian places we tried in Bali, this place has the best pizza. The thin-crust pizza is crispy (well, first one the crust was a bit wet probably because it was baked first before the pasta was done) and loaded with generous amount of cheese, sauce, and toppings. The flavor reminded me of pizzas from family pizzerias in US. What makes this pizza better than the rest is the quantity and quality of the cheese. According to Wid's brother, the cheese and Italian meats (pepperoni and ham) are imported from Italy. Unlike the other pizza here, it's rich and a bit oily but not greasy.

The seafood pasta was excellent also. This is the first time in Bali I had pasta that's actually cooked perfectly al dente. The seafood sauce was fresh and bright. We're really impressed by the fact that the food is not complicated or overly fancy yet very flavorful. As for the bruschetta, I really like the home made bread they used, but the sauce was a bit on the dry side. I think this was the weakest dish we tried out so far.

The pizza was so good that we went back a few days later and ordered another pizza. This time paired with the house white wine, it was made the pizza better. The white wine (I guess it was pinot grigio) really enhanced the flavor of the pizza, especially the cheese and green and red pepper, by adding a note of fruit flavor. Plus the wine help cut through the oily taste of the pizza. For dessert we ordered a small nutella pizza which did not disappoint us. Again, the crust was thin and crispy and it's loaded with lots of nutella, fresh whipped cream, and chocolate sprinkles.

Depending on what you ordered, the food is a tad more expensive than places like Warung Italia or Massimo, but the price is still very reasonable. Appetizers are between 25,000 rp to 40,000 rp. Pasta and other main courses run from around 20,000 to 42,000 rp. Pizza from 25,000 rp to 60,000 rp. Overall, we are very impressed by the pizza and pasta and I hope to check out other items on their menu soon.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

American Cheesecake Experiment

I've always been a big fan of cheesecake, but while I've made some pretty tasty cheesecakes, I've never been 100% successful. My cakes ended up cracked or the texture too dense. After making a bunch of Japanese cheesecakes and finally having a good oven, I turned my attention back to American cheesecake once again. I tried the chocolate swirl cheesecake recipe found in Better Homes and Gardens' Old-Fashioned Home Baking but with a few minor changes. Instead of 24 oz (680 g) of softened cream cheese, I only had 670 g of cheese instead. I also use 1.5 cup of Oreo crumbs with about 2 tablespoons of melted butter as the crust. The springform pan was 9".

With a hand mixer I mixed cream cheese, imported fine granulated sugar, vanilla, and all purpose flour together until the ingredients were well combined. Then, I added two eggs and a yolk to the mixture and, again using the hand mixer, beat the mixture until just till combined. The mixture was actually still a bit chunky but I switched to my wooden spoon to finish the mixing. After the milk was added, I split the batter in half and added the melted chocolate to one half. I poured all the batter into the pan, made swirls using a small spatula, and placed the cake in the oven.

The starting temperature was 375 but it dropped down to around 350 when the cake was in the oven. I noticed that oil (butter in the crust?) kept dripping out of the springform pan. Thank goodness I placed a cookie sheet under the springform pan. I let the cake bake for around 35 minutes before I checked it. I finally took the cake out around 45-50 minutes when tiny cracks started to appear. I think I could have taken the cake out around 40-45 minutes instead. I let the cake cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before I ran my knife around the edge of the cake. I then let the cake cool for another 30 minutes before taking the pan off the cake. I chilled the cake in the fridge overnight after the cake completely cooled on the counter.

The cake received very favorable comments from Wid's parents and Wid. It's surprising because Wid isn't a fan of American cheesecake yet he liked the one I made this time. The cook's sister who's the baker of the family said she likes the swirly pattern. Overall the cake had really good flavor and texture. It's not as fluffy as the ones from Cheesecake Factory, but the texture is still very cheesecake-like. The sweetness is just right for everyone. The edge of the cake was really brown so next time I'll have to remember to use more crumbs and build the crust up about an inch.

Now I'm tempted to try new cheesecake recipe though using 24 oz of cheese at a time is rather scary. Hehe.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008


I can't believe I have never made katsudon until last week. The in laws looooooved it! The sauce, similar to the one for donburi, was perfect with the pork. Mami said it tasted even better than the Ryoshi version though my dish still isn't as good as the one from Hana. Next time I should get some Japanese or Chinese short grain rice instead of the local rice we normally eat. I'm not sure why the pork was tougher than usual, but at least the flavor was still good. I also want to add a bit of shredded nori and the red pickled ginger for extra taste and color.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Various Experiments

Here are some experiments from the past few months. I've never bothered to post them before because I was lazy.

I made the orange sponge cake and the Japanese cheesecake the same day for Wid's mom, if I remember correctly. The Japanese cheesecake turned out well as usual, but the orange sponge cake didn't because about 3/4 way into baking the gas ran out so the temperature dropped. The volume wasn't as good as before, but it did pass the upside down test. The cake tasted good and it was still moist and fluffy. Here is the original post about the two cakes.

I tried a recipe from the The New Best Recipe. The cake had a wonderful buttery taste, but it was rather compact. It had a more biscuit texture than cake texture. I don't know why it didn't raise like a normal cake. Maybe the baking power wasn't potent enough. The frosting was pretty much whipped melted chocolate and heavy cream; it tasted very decadent!

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