Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Utrecht, Netherlands: Tai Soen - a prelude

It's funny how ironic HT couple was the past few weeks.  We've been cooking asian dishes, dining in asian restaurants and unknowingly, we were starting to express our excitement for our 1-month vacation in PH and SG through our palates.

And aside from eating, I noticed these past few weeks, i'm being surrounded by my friends here.  It's like a feel of how I will be spending time with my friends and family back home.

Tai Soen is yet another chinees-indisch restaurant (chinese-indonesian) in Utrecht which has been standing at Hoog Catharijne, the mall connected to the train station, Utrecht Centraal.  It's difficult to miss this place when walking around especially on a Saturday noon, this place might not have long queues from outside, but once you get in, it's definitely crowded with a mixture of Europeans and Asian diners.

We met up with a friend who suggested this place to us.  She had been here several times even though she's not living in Utrecht.  And she vouched for the dimsum here...

Chee Cheong Fun - our friend was craving for this.  We even can't find it in the menu and she thoroughly explained it to the waiter to make sure we're getting the right dish and then I learned that she was looking for cheong fun.  I was not a fan of this dimsum as the impression to me that it was just skins.  We got the shrimp filling, which were pretty big and tasty.  The skin was smooth and it was not too thick nor too thin.  I actually like it so I will definitely have one in SG.
It's funny, but as far as I can remember, i think this was my first cheong fun in my life...and I got it in Holland.  :)

Har Gaw - an all-time favorite...steamed shrimp dumpling.  I learned this even before i learn to talk.  Just like how dutch learned to cycle before they can even walk. :)

Pork Siomai - I love siomai if they're not dry and packed with more meat than fats.  I get goosebumps when I accidentally chew on pork fats.  My mom trained me and my sisters pretty well not to consume fats to the fact that we dislike eating them.  But my dad was a good father to my only brother, he taught him how to eat fats smackingly and letting us feel that we're missing something.

Spareribs in black bean sauce - This was so-so and bland.  I thought the taste would be the same as chicken feet but I guess nothing beats slurping the sauce, skinning the feet and leaving bits and pieces of small bones and finishing a plate is considered an achievement. :)

Babi Panggang - an indonesian dish, typically seen on indonesian-chinese table, is made of pan fried pork (similar to lechon kawali in PH), smothered with tomato-based sauce.  It was my first time to try this dish and I was surprised it looks simple but taste was amazingly good!  The pork was not to dry yet crispy and the sweet tangy sauce went well with the meat.  Ask any Netherlander, for sure, they know what Babi Panggang is (they even have Lay's Potato Chips in Babi Panggang flavor :D).  This is easy to get around Netherlands, as every chinese-indonesian restaurants for sure, serves their own variety of this babi.  (according to wikipedia, this is indo-chinese version of char siew)

I would recommend to try this place when you're around the neighborhood of Utrecht.  Thanks Rei for the recommendation and for stopping by.

Now, do you think HT couple are ready to fly back to Asia? Yes, we are!!!

 Price Summary(euro)
Dimsum - 3+ to 5+ euro per plate
Babi Panggang = 12+ euro (includes rice, i think)
Tai Soen
275 Godebaldkwartier
Hoog Catharijne

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Utrecht, Netherlands - Badhu: Arabian Mezze

If tapas are for Spain, mezze are for the Medittereneans.  Around the globe, small bites have been a staple in the food scene.  And this place were HT couple recently dined proved that.

Badhu aka (Badhuis), was a former bathhouse and now a hotel and restaurant in the inner city (binnenstad) of Utrecht.  You can't miss this place especially at night as this can be the so-called "green light district".  Here's why...

Check out how the green lights reflect from outside. I heard from a friend that even the hotel rooms have their own dominant color that you can choose from...the red room, the gold room, etc.
Photos were taken from (We didn't had the time to take pictures of the place as we were in a rush to go home for a meeting..unfortunately, one of the other lives of HT couple)

We were sitted in that purple room...and the place was really crowded even for a night that is not considered shopping night (koopavond).  Trivia: In the Netherlands, most shops or maybe all shops closes at 5 pm except on Thursdays which is at 9 pm.  Most restaurants are crowded after long hours of shopping (yes that's already long for the dutch) and enjoying the lively weeknight once a week. 
Living up to the tapas/mezze concept is the checklist sheet to mark your orders...

And they offer 2 types of bread:
Moroccan bread (fluffy)

Lebanese bread (flat like wraps)

On the side we got Muhammara Labna a yogurt dip spiced up with paprika, chilis, garlic and dill.  The dip was so-so.  I guess we were expecting so much as HT couple associates arabian dishes as full of taste.

Batinjan was part of the Mahsji (stuffed) in the menu.  The tasty Merquez mini-sausages (well-known to the moroccans) were wrapped in good slices of roasted eggplant topped with tomato puree with lemon.  It was tasty and delicious.

Lahm Meshwi - a must-have!  Small pieces of beef marinated with parsley, sesame and sumak (click on the word to learn more about it) that were grilled to perfection!  The beef pieces were very tender, perfectly red in the center and nicely done on the outside.  We gave thumbs up to this as they made each pieces a masterpiece despite of its size.  The sweet tangy taste of the tomato puree was a great add-on to the meat.

Tajines has always been on the the tables of the Moroccans.  Dishes are cooked in a huge plate of claypot covered with an inverted cone shaped made of clay as well. According to my wiki-hubbie, tajine cooking is a traditional way of making stews or infusing dishes with its own flavor, by letting the vapor condensed and set aside on the clay plate.  We have one at home (a gift from a friend), and we're planning to use it one of these days. :) Check out also our tajine dine-out in Singapore click here.

Lham Bel Teffah - stewed beef in dates, apples, cinnamon and honey  was one of our tajine choices for the night.  We, somehow like how honey and fruit sugars worked well in stew.  (We always use apple pear syrup - (maastrichter stroop) when we do it at home).  The dish didn't disappoint us as the beef were succulent and scrumptious.  I was happy seeing the waiters carrying this small tajine serving plate.  It made the presentation special and somehow letting the diners feel they're up for something moroccan and authentic.

Tajine Ihamed - this was our second order of tajine as we can't have enough of it.  I really wanted to order again the kebab we had, but we were both enthusiastic to try something else.  This tajine was made of chicken pieces, garlic sausages and olives with zest of lemon.  It was also yummy even though lighter in spices.
Enjoying these authentic dishes always go along with good wine.

Domain Larroque cabernet sauvignon - this 2007 full-bodied moroccan red wine is recommended by HT couple for its firm taste.  We just randomly picked in the menu and we glad we made a good choice.

I adore who's the people behind Badhu.  The food, the concept and dining experience were such delights and i'm sure HT couple would be back for more.

Prices in euro:
dips = 3.75  euro
bread = 1.50 euro
wine glass = 3.90 euro
mezze are ranging from 7-9 euro 
assorted arabian red wine bottle = ranges from 25-30

Willem van Noortplein 19
Opens from 11 am onwards

Tel: +3130-2720444 (reservations are recommended)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pre-Valentine and Post CNY in Holland

HT couple were invited by friends to celebrate the love month and the year of the rabbit on its 10th day.  We didn't think twice and accepted the invitation.  Aside from these friends are really nice people(HT hubbie agrees with me), we just feel comfortable being with them without too much effort.  And they might not have a food blog yet(who knows they might have one tomorrow), but one thing is for sure, they love food as much as we do.

If being food lovers is something we have in common, we have something uncommon.  They rock in the kitchen and I mess in the kitchen. (still a long way to go honey, but you can do it - the usual phrase HT hubbie would tell me everytime i throw away a not-so-edible dish or when i burned my pinkie).

To prove how these friends of mine rocked the kitchen and our tummies...

These ain't ordinary dumplings!  The skin was even made with personal touch(it's not those skins you can buy in the groceries or asian stores).  She shared her recipe of just combining salt and flour with water to make the wrapper.  And the filling was a well-balanced taste of ground pork and shrimp.  The filling was very tasty and moist.  Just like having xiao long bao without making a mess of sipping the soup inside but still gives you the "oomph" taste.  The dip (not in the picture) was a mixture of shaoxing wine, soy sauce, salt and pepper...voila!  It was perfect.  Check out the presentation...isn't it wonderful how the sesame seeds and spring onions made a difference?

Rujak Pengantin (wedding salad) - Indonesia and Malaysia are known for it's different type of Rojak.  The mixture of veggies, tofu, potatoes with a special type of dressing made of ebi (dried shrimps), peanut butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Emping on the side is a must as it goes well with the dressing too.  My friend even acclaimed it was under-seasoned...but i wouldn't mind eating this everyday especially during those health monster moments as taste is not sacrificed at all.

Quekiam or He Keng (teo chew) - It's been almost a year since I had this, and i ate it like i haven't eaten for days (we even got a roll to take home which of course didn't last for 24 hours).  I love the wrap as I am a beancurd skin addict.  The same filling of the dumpling were used except that this roll was flavored with bouillon and seasoned with a dash of paprika for that mild kick in every bite.  The citrus sauce(not in the picture) went very well with it.

Red Yeast Chicken - It was scary to look at because of its hue, but when i took the first slurp, the goodness of chicken and ginger were prominent but somehow there is this pleasant taste that I cannot describe until a red yeast bag was shown to me by my friend.  All along, i thought it only gives food coloring and now I know that it contributes to the goodness of the taste this dish.  And being so interested where i can use red yeast, aside from the drunken dishes and char siew, I also learned that it helps to lower our bad cholesterol.  Nothing beats the 3-in-1 benefits of red yeast.

Baby Kailan - a plate of veggie is a must on the table of every chinese meal.  This was sauteed with salted fish, dried garlic and ginger.  Yum!

Our dessert Leche Flan!  I volunteered to make dessert as I don't want my friend to be too tired of preparing a full course (as you can see she has prepared a lot).  As you can see, presentation wise, it was not very successful.  The sudden change in the temperature (baking it in the oven at 200 C for 45 mins with a steamed bath of the leche flan container if put in the fridge without letting it cool down) gave the flan the crack.  (I learned it after 2 attempts of making this).  Yes, this was my 2nd try as the 1st one was overcooked giving a rubber consistency.  (I was afraid that it won't be cooked so i thought 15 mins more shouldn't hurt).  It was tad sweet for my tastebuds (I followed the recipe of using 1 can of condensed milk for 10 egg yolks).  Working on the 2nd one, I minimize the egg yolks to 8 and using only half of the condensed milk and 1/4 cup of fresh milk.  And it might still be on the sweet side, (but not as sweet as how we Filipinos eat it), but I'm proud to say that it was smooth(right amount of mixing), creamy and delicious.  And it didn't had that very overwhelming taste which usually can't be avoided in this Filipino version of creme caramel.

And the highlight of the day for HT wife...

I HEART PINEAPPLE TARTS!!!  I mentioned to HT hubbie and to some SG friends on how I won't be able to have my fair share of this tart this CNY.  So i can't help myself but ate it like a monkey (I was exaggerating as i tried to be modest that time) 

Just 2 words: Delicious and Satisfied!  It was one of the best pineapple tarts I had.  I didn't bother asking how it was done though when I heard it was not easy. :D (lazy me)  I guess, for now, I just prefer popping it inside my mouth.

After almost 5 hours of lunch, stories and laughters...we went home with contented tummies and a bottle of this...:) *bliss*  

Thanks again friends (you know who you guys are).  We are very grateful for the wonderful pre-valentine/post CNY lunch and for your wonderful company.

'Till our next hang out session...maybe the making of hokkien mee...:D 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Heart's Day!

This post is non-food related but..
 Hungry Trotting Couple wishes everyone Happy Heart's Day! :)

the story behind these flowers:
HT couple are not into V-day.  But HT hubbie cannot resist HT wife not being surprised on this special day.  HT hubbie planned to go to the flower shop and make croissants early this morning while i'm still sleeping and gives me breakfast in bed with flowers (just like those in cheesy hollywood movies).  It didn't go well, ladies and gentlemen, as his laziness kicked in, and decided to stay in bed with me.  We got up at the same time, and started working, but I noticed he was uncomfortable the whole morning and all along i thought it was work that's bothering him.  Until he found an excuse, sneaked out and came back, all wet, (as it was raining) with this lovely bouquet.  When I took the roses, I hug him and gave him a very matured answer..."Awww, you shouldn't have, thank you" and brought the flowers to the living smelling, each rose one by one.  Then, I slowly went to the bedroom...and secretly, jumped for joy several times on the bed...just like when i received flowers from my crushes when I was still in the category of "teens".  I felt...happy, YOUNG (*no contradictions please) and in love. :D

V-day has never been a thing for HT hubbie, but somehow, he never fails me every year. :D

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Restaurant When Zhou - good food for CNY season

"You can never go wrong with Chinese food!" - one of by HT couple's guiding principles in eating.  Just in time for Chinese New Year, we treated ourselves with good, delicious, authentic chinese food, served chinese style (not those fancy Chinees-Indisch restaurants scattered around NL).

When we enter the place, we were the first diners and a child was sitting on a round table with lazy susan, studying with her mom.  The mom stood up immediately and welcomed us with a big smile.  She immediately took care of us, bringing us the menu and letting ourselves be comfortable.  She tried to speak to me in Mandarin, but I can only answer her in nods and sign languages so she switched to Dutch, and all I can say was Ja (yes) or Nee (no).  Whew!  It was a lot of work just to get yummy food.

No fancy plates, bowl and chinese spoon...i'm starting to get excited...

And free tea!  As it's very seldom you can get free water in restaurants here, so getting a pot of chinese tea made me feel at home :D

For starters...

We ordered the 10-pcs steamed dumplings.  They don't have much choices of dimsum so we didn't expect much.  (You can already see how thick the skins are)

Although the filling had a very small amount of meat with leeks or chives, it was very tasty or we might have been deprived from it almost half a year, thus, we enjoyed it!

For mains, we ordered Duck Claypot - I fancy duck in Asian dishes lately (not sure why).  I was asked if I don't mind the leg part and I gave a big answer of no!  Though i know the breast has a lot of meat in it, but in claypot stew, I think bones add some flavors.  And I was right!  It was so delicious that I slurped the sauce like a soup and let my bowl of rice swam with it.  (HT hubbie was amazed how much rice I had eaten :D).  The duck pieces are not too soft and not too hard and chewy, it was cooked just right.  Licking those small bones, I felt really at home!  This dish was cooked with those big chinese mushrooms and leafy veggies.

bacon/pork belly can never disappoint you and that included this plate.  Cooked with bamboo shoots and mushrooms, the pork belly were very savory.  It was cooked up to the right texture, making it delightful to eat.  The sauce was heavenly as well.

Here's a shot of how the restaurant looks like.  Aquariums (i think there were 2), very Chinese, eh?

While eating, we were reminiscing our life in Singapore and how time flew fast, that we're already half a year in NL. Happy HT couple went home with full stomach and can't wait for their flight back to Asia soon.

To my family and friends in Singapore, Philippines, Netherlands, Taiwan, Malaysia, China, Australia, US, Swiss and Belgium...

恭喜发财! (Happy CNY!)

Price Summary (in Euro)
Main dishes ranges from 15 to 20 (including crabs)
Restaurant When Zhou
Rozenstraat 13,
Utrecht, Netherlands
(near Bijenkorf, beside parking entrance)