Marriott Cafe Lunch Buffet – 1 for 1 with the Entertainer

Back to my buffet hopping days when I had another buffet session right the week after a previous buffet.
No choice, the Entertainer 1 for 1 was really too irresistible. Anyway, the application only have 2 buffet places – At Lime Restaurant (Parkroyal on Pickering) and the other is Marriott Cafe! The 1 for 1 applies to lunch, high tea as well as dinner buffet!

This time I had lunch with my friend who was super bad with his photography skills. Gosh, he had to retake my picture like 10 times before 1 decent one came out. Not again! I was once again too engrossed in taking pictures of all the appetizing food that I neglected taking a decent shot of the layout/interior! The place have been renovated, from a dim to a bright dining environment. No wonder it looked so different from the last time I came for its dinner buffet which was a few years back.

The usual starter for me and my friend would be the salmon sashimi, smoked salmon, szechuan salmon and the other salmon. Careful of high sodium content! There were the usual cold cuts, salad station, some cheese and a variety of bread which I did not take, fearing that they would take up too much stomach space. 
My #Fotd (food of the day, not exactly) shot which my friend took. 1 out of 10 shots passable…I supposed.

Just random pieces of different food for tasting purpose. If the food is to my liking, I would definitely go back for second and even third round. The usual laksa and a pasta station was available too.

Besides a selection of soup to choose from, there were also a couple of Korean dishes too! Bibimbap available too! Any Korean food fans around?!? 

For beef lovers like me, go for the medium rare slices of beef! I had 3 slices and I just love the tender chewy meat with blood tainted juices seeping out. Don’t go ‘eeewww’ on me…

The ice cream tasted inferior, like those from an ice cream cart along the roadside. Skip them if you do not want too much trans fat in your diet. 

I tried the whole selection of cakes available, but only posting the little red velvet cupcake just because it looked the prettiest. There were 6 cakes that came in rectangular log form, for self-cutting and looking like a pile of mess when you placed them onto your plate. 

The Entertainer application which I redeemed for the 1 for 1! Like a half price only after dividing by 2 with my friend!

Not to forget the selfie shot after the lunch buffet! I guess I should go for a jog soon! 

Parkroyal on Pickering – Lime Restaurant Dinner Buffet

Thanks to the Entertainer application, I get to enjoy the 1 for 1 voucher! 
Check out my previous post link for more information on the Entertainer!
A large wooden table packed with a huge variety of sweet treats is really a seductive way to welcome people into a buffet. Provided that you do not enter by the back door which my friend and I did…
I purposely did not zoom into the picture, just to leave you to guess what sort of dessert they were.

The interior was a blend of modern metallic and rustic woodenness, rather dim and lit up mainly by spotlights. The place was so spacious and the buffet spread was nicely spread out.  

I had a beautiful night view of the streets out there while my friend get to ‘ogle’ at a group of aunties (tais tais) in their seventies, celebrating an occasion.    

Nowadays I seldom want to blog about buffets since the dishes often rotate. (I have a buffet label at my blog’s side bar though.) I will just throw in some food pictures to satisfy your cyber hunger! A international buffet with seafood, bread, cheese, Japanese, Western and Peranakan.

The place was so dim that I had to place my plate right beside the table light to capture a clear shot.

Some of the Peranakan style food which tasted really yummy! Laksa, kueh pie tee, rojak and more…

While people love to take #ootd (outfit of the day), I would prefer to take #fotd (food of the day).

Sashimi indulgence! A must have for me at every buffet!
A peek at the some of the desserts available! I basically tried every dessert and the key lime tart was my top favorite, followed by the durian pengat and the strawberry ice cream! (Forgot to try the nonya kuehs…) 

How can I not resist to take a picture with this grandeur towering green tea fondue! 

Ending the post with 2 more selfies! The pathway with really comfortable seating  facing the outdoor!

Artificial leafy greens along the walls! Stay tune for the update of my lunch buffet at Marriott Cafe, also using the Entertainer 1 for 1 application!

Finalized Bak Kwa

Quite an obvious delayed post on Bak Kwa since Chinese New Year had passed more than a month ago.
Anyway, this was the finalised version which tasted as good as the actual commercialised ones out there!
Tested and many tasted!! (For method 2b below) Satisfied!

I guessed this was the final form… 

My reference for different types of meat for Bak Kwa trial can be found here.

The second post on the more complicated version using dehydrator and smoking of Bak Kwa can be found
here.

The finalised version (the picture above):

Ingredients:

300g Minced Pork
1 tbs Thai Fish Sauce
1 tbs Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
120g Caster Sugar
1 drop of red food colouring
Method:
1) Marinated overnight (or a few hours, up to you)
2a)  Spread on tray, placed into the oven for 10 mins at 100 degrees. Flip over and place back into the over
       for another 10 minutes till a bit charred.
(Better Results)
2b)  After spreading on tray (your desired thickness), dehydrate using your dehydrator for 3 hours, medium
       heat about 55 degrees. (Want to dehydrate longer to remove more moisture also can.) After that, place
       it over a bamboo tray (for better results) and cook/smoke over charcoal, which is about 200 degrees 
       for up to an hour. Remember to oil your bamboo to prevent sticking. Grill on pan a while before serving.  

Bak Kwa Madness for coming Chinese New Year??

Chinese New Year is just around the corner tomorrow and I have been experimenting to make Bak Kwa
with my friend since the start of January.

I came across an article on New Paper – ‘Behind the scenes in a bak kwa shop’ which featured Lim Chee
Guan. There was even a video to give public a peek at its HQ at Pandan Loop. Obviously the secret recipe
was not included in this article.

My eyes almost popped out of my socket when I saw that 1kg of Bak Kwa was going for $50.00 at the
shop! Gosh! Those people have been queuing for hours too and they mentioned that it was worth the wait.
Is it a tradition that Chinese New Year means Bak Kwa time?

The link of the article can be found here.

Another article which I came across last Monday with the heading

HED CHEF EXTRA: How to make your own bak kwa
  

sparked my interest.
The recipe given was:

-1kg minced pork (shoulder butt)
-220g fine sugar
-1½ tsp salt
-1 tsp light soya sauce
-1 tbsp oyster sauce
-½ tsp five spice powder
-1½ tbsp Chinese rice wine
-Pinch of red food colouring powder

I guessed many people who tried making it would be greatly disappointed as it would never turn out the
same as those commercialized outlets like Lim Chee Guan, Bee Cheng Hiang or Fragrance Bak Kwa.

The reason of me writing this post was because I was a bit pissed off. I have already tried making Bak Kwa
even before this article’s recipe was published, using the oven, even with barbecuing, and the results was so off! It could be found on my previous post here. Not to mention the texture was not right too…

Notice the article’s recipe above contained sugar as the main sweetening agent? My friend and I did a batch
with only sugar and no honey (the recipe I used have), the taste turned out really flat! Honey not only
sweetened the Bak Kwa but also provides flavor. (Different brand, different flower, different flavor also.)
Be careful as honey is sweeter than sugar too.

Another thing that would happen when you place the marinated meat into the oven would be the oozing out
of marination which I experienced many times before. To prevent that from happening, I suggested using the
dehydrator which I did not expect my friend to actually buy it  

The same dehydrator that could be used to make fruit and vegetable chips! It cost my friend about $250.
Basically he dehydrated the marinated meat for about an hour, about 65 degrees (high). (Also have low
and medium heat options.)  

After that, the marinated meat is smoked with his own-made smoker, made from a 3 tier Ikea rack,
covered by some board used for artwork. (Sushi bamboo racks to place the marinated meat on.)

(Top view) An opening for smoke to escape and and thermometer to determine the temperature
of the smoking.   

Just a tin with hickory wood/charcoal to produce the smoke.

Final outcome of the Bak Kwa! Do not use hickory wood but stick to charcoal instead as the smokey
flavor was overwhelming. It made the Bak Kwa taste like Lap Cheong (Chinese sausages) instead.
The Bak Kwa was also like a sponge, absorbing all the moisture from my mouth, making it dry.
Almost there!!!!
(Everything stated is based on personal opinion ; open to suggestions and advice)

Homemade meat jerky! Bak Kwa experiment for Chinese New Year!

My very 1st post for the year 2014 and I will be blogging about my homemade meat jerky process! I still
have a couple of 2013 posts which I have yet to update but this post was the priority since Chinese New
Year is approaching! My 3rd time experimenting with the seasoning quantity before finally settling with the
one below. (Note: Adjusted based on my personal preference!)

The recipe I modified into:

Pork                    300g       (A bit fattier would be better)
Sugar                     3 tbs
Honey                    3 tbs     (I think malt syrup would be better, more caramelised flavor.)
Fish Sauce           1.5 tbs
Sweet Wine            2 tbs    (I used a dessert wine)
Dark Soy Sauce   1/2 tbs
Char Siew Sauce     1 tbs   (Removed after 3rd batch)
Five Spice            1/2 tbs
Sesame Oil           1/2 tbs   (Removed after 3rd batch)
If anyone knows of any better tried-and-tested-before recipe, care to share with me so I could try?
I knew it would not be so easy to get close to the exact taste of Bak Kwa, if not everyone would be making
their own already. 

The recipe would be for 300g of meat and I did X2 the recipe for 600g of marinated minced pork, beef
and chicken. Best if you could add more fats into your minced meat as mine were all too lean! After
marinating the meat overnight in the chiller, the minced chicken was a bit watery while minced beef
was still rather firm. Pork was always in-between.  

I started off by portioning the meat into 100g – 110g so that all the jerky would be about the same size.
(Too large piece would be difficult to flip over and would easily break apart.) I spread the minced meat
onto an aluminium sheet, place a cling wrap over and using a rolling pin, flatten the meat evenly. About
2mm thickness for mine.

After spreading evenly on the aluminium, either you could directly bbq the meat or place it into the oven to
bake fully. I did half-half. About 200 degrees in the oven for 10-15 mins to firm up the meat before
transferring to the BBQ pit to barbecue! I guessed that it was normal for the marination to leak out of the
marinated meat during the baking process? Any ideas?  

Picture of myself barbecuing the meat jerky!

Another selfie shot with my friend’s barbecue pit! Thanks Glenn for letting me use his house to barbecue!   

The texture was way too smooth to be Bak Kwa and it looked more like ham instead.

My friend did the baking to firm up the minced meat before I barbecued them. Kept flipping and
barbecuing piece by piece as his oven could only bake a piece at a time. 

Glazed with honey when the meat was about to be done with a bit of charred parts appearing. Make sure
the honey dries slightly or it would end up sticky.

Done! Pork or beef ??

Another shot with only 2 pieces…

Some of the minced chicken ended up like this, all broken apart because it was too soft to flip with tongs.

Done with all the 1.2kg of beef and pork which took about 5 hours…?

Final conclusion:
Beef – Jerky have quite a strong beefy taste and smell which could be quite unpleasant.
          The meat was rather firm but soft and tender.
          Easy to handle while baking and barbecuing.
          Easiest to dry up and discolour after a few days in the fridge  
Chicken – Became watery/mushy after marination and broke apart easily.
                Tasted a bit like satay / chicken steak. 
Pork – Texture a bit rubbery after a few days in the fridge.
           More suitable due to having more fats (although mine still not enough)
           
All – Unusual smell and taste, something like hoisin sauce detected.
        The texture too smooth to be Bak Kwa.
        Overall taste still negative to me.