Modern Japanese Food @ Wagamama Amsterdam Restaurant

Saturday, September 28, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

I bet those who are residing in London will be familiar with this household brand, Wagamama.  Founded in London, Wagamama is a British restaurant chain which specialized in Japanese cuisine. The modern Japanese Ramen bar ambiance is perhaps the signature of the restaurant where space and minimalist design is emphasize via long wooden tables and benches to create that spacious and clean atmosphere.

I did not get the chance to try out the food in Wagamama during my last visit to London as the outlet (near to the Eye of London) was always packed during lunch hour. I was thrilled to learn that there is actually a Wagamama restaurant here in Amsterdam. I had no objection at all when Phoebe suggested we give the Amsterdam's outlet a try.

We reached the restaurant at 6.15pm. To our surprise, half of the restaurant has already been filled and the friendly waitress had to put us on the window seats. Seriously I have no issue with it as I prefer natural sunlight for my shots.
 Wagamama Amsterdam

Wagamama Amsterdam
The waitress who served us was helpful and courteous. With a constant smile, she patiently run through the menu with us and make sure our orders were correctly taken. First impression was indeed very good and I truly enjoy my fresh mint tea. The sparking lemon juice was good too, this signature drink of Wagamama comes highly recommended.

Wagamama AmsterdamThe pork ramen caught my eye while scanning through the menu. I am not a big fan for pork but couldn't resist a bowl of steaming hot, rich and flavorful pork ramen from ‘Yamagoya’ Japanese Restaurant back home. Being the famous brand, I have high expectation in Wagamama's pork ramen. I expect perfect 'Onsen' egg, thick and flavorful broth (which had been cooked for more than 10hrs), thinly sliced pork belly, seaweed, sour ginger pickles and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.Wagamama Amsterdam
My bowl of ramen looked prefect but tasted average at best. The noodle was alright but the broth and the side dishes was really below par. It tasted entirely different from what I expected. The broth tasted more like diluted miso soup and not even close to authentic pork ramen's broth. Despite the generous portion, I was turned off by the chewy and chunky pork slices. They were way too thick and borderline inedible.

Phoebe’s teriyaki chicken rice was actually pretty good if not being spoil by the ill-cooked rice. The perfectly grilled teriyaki chicken was good but couldn't salvage the damage done by the under-cooked white rice (under-cooked rice tastes awful).
It was not entirely a negative experience patronizing Wagamama after all. In fact, we both walked out the restaurant with a big smile. Guess what ... Wagamama was running a buy-one-free-one promotion, so we only paid half price for our main courses.

Perhaps it was not a day for pork ramen and teriyaki chicken rice. We may be back again for something else, maybe the curry katsu don (curry chicken rice) and stir-fry ramen.

Frozen Yoghurt Waffles & Coffee @ Amsterdam

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Frozen Yoghurt Waffles & Coffee, Amsterdam
There wasn't a second thought when I passed by this shop while strolling along the famous shopping street in Amsterdam. Straight in, grabbed a cup and loaded it with various flavour of frozen yoghurt from the machine and finally topped it up with my favorite toppings - strawberry, rock-melon and sago pearls.

I couldn't express the felling on how much I miss my favorite Froyo (short form for 'fro'zen 'yo'gurt) back home. Frozen yoghurt is just like bubble tea, very well accepted by the fellow Malaysians. These shops are like mushroom after the rain, can be easily found in almost every malls.

It is well trusted as the best dessert after meal due to the strong believe that yoghurt is a much healthier option than ice-cream. It might be otherwise (since another school of thought believe yogurt is much fattening), but I don't really mind as I just like the creamy texture and tangy taste profile of frozen yoghurt.
Frozen Yoghurt Waffles & Coffee, Amsterdam
With most of the countries having frozen yoghurt shops on every corner, it is kind of novelty over here in the Netherlands. Hence, there is no way I can walk away from it.

Absolutely refreshing, the mango, strawberry and blueberry flavor chilled creamy frozen yoghurt. Pair with fresh fruits and sago pearls, it tastes heavenly. Unlike the ice-cream and Gelato which leave you in thirst afterwards, frozen yoghurt on the other hand quenches your thirst and leaves you with natural fruity aftertaste.

If you are a frozen yoghurt lover too, just look for this sign for a cup of refreshing frozen yoghurt when you strolling around Amsterdam!

Golden Spring Onion Pancake with Indian Daal Lentil Gravy

Thursday, September 19, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

I can't stop dreaming about food. Perhaps, the glutton side of me has awaken by the early Autumn chill and I am having a deep craving for roti canai (also known as roti prata in Singapore), which is essentially a type of Indian flat bread.

A piece of freshly made, thin and crispy roti canai telur (with egg) is almost a mission impossible to locate in The Hague since there isn't any genuine Malaysian restaurant. Getting my kitchen messy for a slice of roti canai could be an option but is way too cumbersome for lazy geek like me. So, I decided to get the frozen version from my favourite Asia grocers.

It was not the usual roti prata I bought home, but the golden spring onion pancake or cong you bing (葱油饼), which has pretty close taste profile as roti canai but slightly thicker closely resemble the shape and size of roti bom. The usual roti prata might sound perfect to many but not for me as I am easily put-off by the overly-buttery taste.

You can either pop the cong you bing into the oven for 5 minutes or pan fry it over the heated pan.
The cong you bing does have the taste and texture of the roti bom back home and I seriously like it very much!

The cong you bing is just perfect to go with the daal from Chef India (home delivery service). I always has left over when I ordered the delivery service from Chef India. What I need to do is to heat up the left over daal with some potato and carrot cubes and pop the cong you bing into the oven for few minutes. Yeah, another great idea for Sunday branch!

Oude Hortus Museum Garden @ University Museum Utrecht

Saturday, September 14, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Oude Hortus, Museum Garden @ University Museum Utrecht

Perhaps I was just being ignorant for not aware that I was up-closed with the world largest lotus leaf names Victoria Amozonica few weeks ago in the greenhouse complex at University Museum Utrecht.

An article in the local press enlightens me to this "hidden wonder" in the greenhouse complex of University Museum Utrecht and I decided to write a post about my recent visit to the Oude Hortus, the museum garden in the city of Utrecht.

Museum Garden @ University Museum Utrecht

Being the distinctive complex in the museum garden, the greenhouse steers visitors to the museum complex to give it a stroll before everything else. The greenhouse complex was once served as the Botanical Laboratory for the university as early as 18th century. Till these days, the greenhouse still remains as a functioning greenhouse which houses a great collection of the tropical flora and fauna including the world largest lotus leaf.
Oude Hortus, Museum Garden @ University Museum Utrecht
The greenhouse is able to replicate tropical weather where the temperate is kept at around 30°c to foster plant growth. It is indeed a familiar temperature for me who hails from South East Asia and the first thing I did when stepping into the complex was to take off my jacket.

Check out the renowned world largest lotus leaf, Victoria Amazonica. It is huge, strong and could support the weight of a 9 months old baby. Amazing!!

Oude Hortus, Museum Garden @ University Museum Utrecht

I guess none of this lotus leaves will go to waste as they were sun-dried naturally, perhaps to be made into specimens for display or lab used.
Oude Hortus, Museum Garden @ University Museum Utrecht
Some of the colorful and unique tropical plants found in the greenhouse.
Oude Hortus, Museum Garden @ University Museum Utrecht
The spice garden is another highlight of the museum garden. Culinary herbs such as rosemary, basil, chives and chamomile are found here. What fascinated me most were these poppy plants! Isn't they gorgeous?
Museum Garden @ University Museum Utrecht
The museum garden is definitely worth a stroll and I hope to revisit the garden again.

Day Trip Itinerary for Bratislava, Capital of Slovakia

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Bratislava, Slovakia

I would very much like to explore every European country I visited in detail, but I do sometimes bound by time constraints.

My recent short trip was an weekend escapade to Budepest and Bratislava. Minus the time spent on the train, I merely have less than 24-hours for Bratislava. Short stay doesn't mean brief visit as I have managed to optimize my visit despite of having only 22 hours to be exact in the city.

1) Old Town Square
Bratislava, Slovakia

The Old town square is walking distance from the Bratislava central train station (Hlavné Námestie). Approximately 1km, the town can be accessible via the local bus from the station too.
Bratislava, Slovakia
The Bratislava Old Town Square is perhaps one of the most concentrated old town in Europe. It might be small but the diversity is amazing - medieval towers, signature European cobble stone small alley, fountain, monuments, square for weekend bazaar, Gothic cathedrals and churches, etc.
Bratislava, Slovakia

A good pair of walking shoes is perhaps essential to explore the town as heels on cobble stone walk way is not highly recommended. However, if you are not too keen to explore the the city on foot, you can always hop-in to the tourist train Prešporáčik which will tour you around the town in a more relaxing way. Ideal for a hot day.

2) Bratislava Castle (Bratislave Hrad)
Bratislava, Slovakia

Across the highway under-bridge which linked to the old town square, you will find a narrow alley that will lead you uphill to the famous Bratislava Castle, the four corner tower stands guard to the massive rectangular castle. The hill provides a spectacular view of the Bratislava city. The view of Slovenského národného povstania bridge with UFO-like tower restaurant across the Danube River is so prominent here.
Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava, Slovakia
Up the hill, there is a small park with benches which serve as an ideal place for visitors to rest and catch up their breath after an up-hill walk to the castle.
Bratislava, Slovakia
There is this little souvenir shop next to the entrance of the castle which sparked my interest. Souvenirs sold here are mainly handmade items made from cloth and wood. Adorable but does not come in cheap.

3) Presidential Palace (Grassalkovich Palace)
Bratislava, Slovakia
Grassalkovich Palace, also know as the Parliament building of Slovakia is located along the way from main  train station to the old town square. It is not a accessible to the public but you may snap a photo right in front the the building with an array of flying Slovakian national flags.

4) Grassalkovich Palace Park
Bratislava, Slovakia

Right behind the Grassalkovich Palace is an awesome park opened for public. It is originally the garden of the palace with impeccable garden and lawns. The statue of Empress Maria Therasa and Fountain of Youth are found in the park too.

5) Food and Shopping
Bratislava, Slovakia
Carefree when shopping and dining in Bratislava. The living standard here is not as high as in the Netherlands and you need not worry about burning a hole in your wallet. Taking food for an example, you could easily enjoy a 3 course meal in a decent restaurant for a mere €20 in Bratislava. Whereas you are in luck if you could score similar restaurant for double the price in the Netherlands.

Check out these posts and you will know what I meant.

After all, I really have an awesome stay in Bratislava. It is by far the less hectic day trip for me ...

Hidden Gem Green Tree Caffe @ Bratislava

Sunday, September 08, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-


Still full from the heavy breakfast, we decided to have something light for lunch. Simple sandwich and a cup of coffee would fit the bill nicely.

After wandering around the Bratislava Old Town Square, we found this little 'green' café named Green Tree Caffe. Not very eye-catchy from the front, with simple deco and many might mistaken it as just a ice-cream shop. However, the Green Tree Caffe offers more than that ...

Besides ice-cream, which a fair share of people pop-by the shop for, you can get freshly prepared Panini, hot or cold beverages, cakes and pastries here too. Almost the same concept as the fancier Starbucks or Coffee Beans and Tea Leaf café chain back home, except the latter two do not serve ice-cream. Not a wide selections per say but sufficient though for the customer to pick. If nothing in the menu fancies you  … I bet you still can’t resist the ice-cream temptation. You will still walk out the café with an ice-cream cone.

Green Tree Caffe, Bratislava

Despite still full from the heavy breakfast, I still required to replenish some energy for the ‘uphill exploration’ in Bratislava Castle later. I ordered myself the cheese and ham Panini lunch menu which comes with a 250ml bottle of coca-cola (the lunch set cost less than 3). The piping hot, freshly prepared ham&cheese Panini was so good. The fully melted cheese coated the shredded ham together and was oozing in between the thin crusts Panini. Lovely!

Green Tree Caffe, Bratislava

Phoebe opted for the cappuccino ice-blend and a butter croissant. Unable to resist the temptation of a mouthwatering raspberries custard pie, we ordered one for sharing.  I like the tangy taste of the raspberries custard pie, very refreshing indeed. The custard and the raspberries just blended in so perfectly.

Green Tree Caffe, Bratislava

Not only was the food wonderful, I was deeply in love with the ambiance and decor too, especially the basement. Converted from century old building, the basement still maintains the gothic feel and look architecture, exposed bricks and archy walkway design.

Check out the sofa at the cozy corner. There are really comfortable. If time allow, I don’t mind to spend my entire afternoon here.
Green Tree Caffe, Bratislava

Instead of the marble floor, the reading corner at the ground floor is fixed with the transparent glass which could see though the basement that creates the "suspended in the air" feel.
Green Tree Caffe, Bratislava

Simple looking shop but with hidden gem … The Green Tree Caffe is definitely worth a pit-stop or more.

Awesome Dinner at Pivnice U Kozla @ Bratislava, Slovakia

Wednesday, September 04, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

Restaurant in Bratislava Old Town Square
If you dream of having an awesome meal with excellent service without burning a hole to your wallet, Pivnice U Kozla Restaurant in Bratislava Old Town Square should be your top pick.

Very often, restaurants located near to the tourist attractions are deemed to be tourist trap. But rest be assured that Pivnice U Kozla is not one of them. Food served here are fairly priced and definitely affordable even for those who are on shoe-string budget.

Pivnice U Kozla Restaurant serves mainly local menu, central European cuisine such as beef  goulash, staffed potato dumpling, Wiener schnitzel, chicken dish to name a few. Very close to Czech's menu.

I was zooming in on the pork-ribs as it looked so tempting when i spotted the local folks were having it while passing by the restaurant during lunch. Yes, indeed the pork ribs tasted absolutely heavenly. Well seasoned, tender, juicy and lip-smackingly good.
Pivnice U Kozla, Bratislava

The generous sour pickles served with the pork ribs are indeed perfect match made in heaven.
Pivnice U Kozla, Bratislava
Curious with how it tastes, I got myself the potato pancake as the side dish to go with the ribs instead of the usual mashed potato. Brilliant choice indeed! Packed with potato flavour, love it to the max. I was a happy girl.
Pivnice U Kozla, Bratislava

The Wiener Schnitzel (pork Schnitzel) was equally good. Crispy outside, moist and juicy inside. Served with fries and garden green salad.
Pivnice U Kozla, Bratislava
Pivnice U Kozla, Bratislava
The best way to enjoy the food culture here is to eat and drink like the locals. Yup ... the beer is a must! Non-alcoholic beer is served here. So, don't feel the guilt to order one to go with your meal if you are watching your weight.
Pivnice U Kozla, Bratislava
You will never go wrong with Pivnice U Kozla Restaurant. Compared with the rest of the restaurants around the old town square, it is perhaps the most reasonable priced restaurant and well frequented by the locals.

What an awesome dinner we had. Decent meal with generous portion, good taste, great ambiance and excellent service for just €20, it is indeed nowhere to find in the Netherlands. Highly recommended!!
Pivnice U Kozla, Bratislava

Creative Fusion Brunch Ideas With Instant Noodles

Sunday, September 01, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

fried instant noodles garnish in ice-burg lettuce and chicken pesto toast
Weekend is meant for sleeping late ... this is Denise's philosophy! So, if no outing is planned over the weekend, I will usually prepare myself a hearty brunch at home.

Featuring in my post today is my newly created fusion brunch - fried instant noodles garnish in ice-burg lettuce and chicken pesto toast with cucumber pickle.

The Noodles
fusion cooking Ingredients: 1 beaten egg, 1/2 pack of veggie mix, some shrimps, 1 package of instant noodle, cooking oil and soy sauce, some homemade fried red shallots and a ice-burg lettuce as garnish.

First cook the instant noodle in boiling water for 3 minutes. Set aside use for later. In a heated wok, add in the cooking oil, the veggie and shrimps and stir fry for few minutes until the shrimps turn red and the veggie is cooked. Set aside. In the same wok with medium high heat, pour in the egg mixture to make scramble egg. Now, add in the veggie, shrimps, noodle, soy sauce and stir fry until all the ingredients mixed well. Dish out and serve the fried noodle on a piece of ice-burg lettuce. Lastly, sprinkle some fried red shallots as the finishing touch.

The Chicken Pesto Toast
fusion cooking
Ingredients: 1 slice of wheat bread (cut into 3x5cm stripe), chicken pesto sauce and cucumber.

Spread the chicken pesto sauce on the wheat bread stripe and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes at 180°c heat. Dish out and garnish with finely cut cucumber slices.

I like my noodles with plenty of greens. I first finished the noodles and saved some of the shrimps, egg and green for my lettuce wrap. Check out the final bite ...mmm...mmm. Love it!
lettuce wrap

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