Thursday, August 29, 2013

Halal food : Chef Riz's Restaurant On The Table @ Publika

restoran anak chef wan
Dinner @ On The Table 

(Dear Readers: I think this restaurant is closed permanently, we went twice in the evening and it was closed and went again one more time during Deepavali holiday at around 6pm and it was still closed with lizard's droppings on its table near the entrance which means it has not opened for a long time though the signage and furnitures are still there. Sadness! We really miss this place, if anyone knows where we can get artisan bread as good or even better than On The Table, please leave a comment! Thanks!)

Somehow, somewhere.. I read about Chef Wan's son opening a restaurant called "On The Table" and during one of our drive back home from Publika, I saw a restaurant's sign with the exact name.. and I went.. "Eh?.. isn't that the restaurant that is supposedly owned by Chef Riz?" Do note that I said "supposedly" cos I can barely recall my sources... so I made a mental note to try it out should we sojourn to Publika again.

The chance came last week when the kids started asking to go to The Park at Publika, so I said we are going for dinner first before they get to play at the park. They surprisingly  agreed readily.

On The Table restaurant is at BLK A4, level UG1-08 which means we have to cross a few blocks and walk a bit down from where we parked (which is near the playground). A4 is waaaay at the end nearer to Kencana Petroleum side and with Publika's confusing stairs, level names and lack of signage, it was a wonder we managed to find On The Table without yours truly losing her temper and shooting her mouth off (which is quite often when I am lost and directions are unreliable). To make it simple, just head for "The Circle" take the escalator  down to UG1 and turn left, walk all the way in, you will see "Picknik" then at the end you will see "On The Table'.

We arrived at just before 8.00pm and the place was deserted (uh-oh) alarm bells started to ring but then we were really tired from walking and the kids were complaining that it's taking a looong time just to reach the restaurant, so we just went in instead of looking for another place to eat (actually, it's because we went two floors down instead of one, then had to pass a pub, climb up another flight of stairs before finding "On The Table". Had we passed from PickNik side, I would surely just say "Let's try PickNik instead".

We had high hopes for the restaurant even though it was empty.. cos hey.. it's helmed by a celebrity chef u know, you gotta have standards.. kind of like the halal option of Gordon Ramsay's or maybe Jamie Oliver.. but of course one can argue that the price doesn't justify our high expectations :) 

Since the price is not exorbitant, we lowered our expectation but were still kind of bummed out by the limited menu. After a few minutes contemplating, hubby went ahead with Salmon with white sauce and risotto while I asked for Lemon Zaatar Chicken (sounds sophisticated but its actually a blend of thyme, marjoram, oregano etc etc) but I asked for pilaf rice instead of mashed potatoes as side cos I was feeling quite hungry. For the kids we ordered, mushroom soup, carbonara and cheesy fries. 

halal restaurants in kuala lumpur
Mushroom Soup @ On The Table Restaurant

The mushroom soup came first and I go "Oh Yeah.. it's not cream of mushroom" I look at it sceptically a bit since the last time I tried something like this was at MeatWorks and totally didn't like MeatWorks' version. As for On The Table's mushroom soup, it was quite nice, not too much mushrooms and slightly runny but still nice. My son gave both the extra crispy garlic bread and the mushroom soup his seal of approval :)

Enjoying the crispy garlic bread dipped with mushroom soup at On The Table Restaurant

halal western food in kuala lumpur
Cheese Fries @ On the Table Restaurant

Next came the cheese fries, we were actually expecting just crispy fries with yummy cheese side dip, kind of like Tony Roma's style, we didn't know that it is actually more like a "coney dog" fries version (well.. the menu doesn't come with descriptions) This dish didn't go down well with us.. the fries were soggy from the minced meat sauce and I personally prefer more fiery sauce for pairing with fries, tomato based sauce is just so boring.

halal dining kuala lumpur
Kids Carbonara @ On The Table Restaurant

The kids carbonara came with tempura fish instead of chicken since they ran out of chicken. The tempura fish was a delight, very crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It goes perfectly well with the creamy carbonara that was also very yummy. A decent dish and a winner with the kids as well.

halal dining in kuala lumpur
Hubby's main dish : Salmon with risotto
Hubby was in the mood for fish that night and was choosing between the only two choices available: Cod and Salmon. He asked the waiter which is the restaurant's speciality? and the waiter gave a ho-hum answer which wasn't very convincing, so hubby decided to stick to safe salmon. The salmon was a refreshing dish, it's taste is very light and pairs very well with the soft risotto. This dish is NOT for those who likes their food to be bursting with exciting flavours. 

restoran cef riz
My main dish : Lemon Zaatar Chicken with pilaf rice

For myself, I was contemplating between Zaa'tar Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Kuzi Lamb With Pilaf Rice. I wasn't in the mood for lamb kuzi but wanted to eat rice and not mashed potatoes so I asked if they can accommodate my request for Zaatar Chicken with Pilaf Rice and they graciously granted my request :) Since I have never tasted Zaatar Chicken, I was a bit unsure if my zaatar chicken has been changed to kuzi chicken? Anyway don't really know how lamb kuzi taste like too.. But the chicken was quite interesting, very heavy with herbs and spices and a tad too big a serving for me. It was an ok but forgettable dish. Nothing particularly outstanding about the pilaf rice as well.

At the end of the meal, hubby ordered creme brulee (I think he was trying to be nice to me cos he is not a dessert person but I was already full from the meal). The creme brulee took quite some time to be prepared and is too runny and a bit too sweet for me. While the presentation was nice, the taste sure didn't impress. 

All in all, even though reviews for On The Table in some malay blogs give it the thumbs up (as theirs are mostly Ramadhan Buffet reviews of On The Table), some reviews in english by non-muslims (normal dining) basically sum it as a nice place to eat with affordable pricing with a few hit and misses with dishes offered. I should have read their reviews first I guess.. Oh well, for ourselves, given the restaurant's inconvenient location and limited menu, the dishes offered are not va-va-voom enough to entice us to come back anytime soon.


Ok... so we said we wont be coming back any time soon... but then... we tried PickNik.. and we weren't really impressed.. I mean.. just a few doors down, for about the same price and waay less crowd you get to eat a different kind of food not "comfort food" so.. yup we gave "On The Table" a second visit.

This time around we ordered:

best halal restaurant publika solaris

halal western fine dining kuala lumpur
Artisan bread with condiments @ On The Table Publika

This was not my choice but hubby's, beats me why he ordered this but it was nice anyway (expensive though at RM33 - don't think we will order again- breads are soft and the condiments are the star of this appetiser, and they are: soft (whipped maybe?) butter served on a pretty shell, huge dollop of cream cheese, balsamic vinaigrette and basil something (I didn't catch the name). It was a nice refreshing but expensive dish.

nice halal restaurants at publika
Baby rocket, steak and mango salad with korean dressing@ On The Table Publika (RM18)

Ok, so you can see that I am now on a salad craze (don't think it will last long though) and this one is simple but tasty. You got to mix all well to really enjoy this salad, the slightly bitter rocket with tender sliced medium-done beef steak with crunchy zesty mango and sweet and spicy dressing is quite novel too many. I don't know if this is an original creation or not but I do know that  I would love to recreate this at home :)

Hubby ordered Harissa Cod with Asparagus and Couscous, I didn't take a picture, it was an ok dish, but hubby said he preferred the salmon. I personally don't like cod and am staying away from eating salmon outside since I am not sure if the salmon are farmed or fresh from sea (I am thinking too much yes)

Kids ordered the same carbonara and you already know how we find that dish, this time around me and the two kiddos managed to share it together :)

So, there's room for dessert, yours truly chose chocolate fondant served with ice cream.

halal food blog publika

halal restaurants kuala lumpur

The ice cream has slices of nuts inside and some kind of fruits that I can't guess that makes the very soft ice cream sweet and crunchy at the same time. The chocolate fondant (something like dominos lava cake) is a bit too gooey for me. I mean I like the gooey chcolatey taste but the cake part is too little and since the ice cream is also gooey I was a bit confused whether I should eat the fondant with the ice cream as topping OR the ice cream with the gooey chocolate as a topping.. nonetheless.. delicious!

Ok, so we are kind of wondering "apasal takde orang eh?" macam kesian gitu.. padahal picknik kat sebelah ber-table2 pengunjung.. standard dan harga pun lebih kurang je?...Am I missing something here? The last visit, we were the only customer that evening and they closed the restaurant right after we left, so sad!Walked past PickNik the place masih happening.. alamak.. macam mana ni? Boleh survive ke On The Table? On The Table has earned its place in one of our to-go restaurants and we would really be sad if it closes down due to slow demand. Come on guys! Go and check it out and give them your support! (eh I am not getting any monetary reward tau writing this post!)

Check Out My Other Posts:

picknik restaurant publika
PickNik by Chef Nik Michael
halal chinese seafood restaurant in kl
Halal Chinese - Mohammad Chow @ Damansara Perdana

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Farm Visit in Singapore: Bollywood Veggies - Beware of Dogs

things to do with kids singapore
Bollywood Veggies - Fruit Farm in Kranji

I am writing this post not to discourage people from going to Bollywood Veggies or the other farms at Kranji but rather to let you know of my experience so that you can come there prepared. I admit that I love taking my kids out to explore things and especially like to expose them to fruit farms, animal farms and what nots that my husband would probably only bring us to after much badgering / sulking / coaxing. So, sometimes when I am in Singapore on my own with my two small kids, I will take the opportunity to go to these places with them by taxi of course (since I wouldn't want to be driving while having to attend to my two kids). 

So, during the long Hari Raya school break (Malaysia gives 1 week school break), I was in Singapore with the kids while hubby went back to KL and I asked my kids whether they would like to go to a fruit farm and my first born (who is ever so interested in plants) replied a very loud yes! 

The weather was really nice that day, shady with lots of clouds and I pray that it wouldn't rain while we are there and it didn't :) However, in the taxi, the driver asked me "Why are you going into such a remote place?" and added "There are a lot of dogs there and I don't think that you can get any taxi back" I begin to feel a bit worried, so I called up Bollywood Veggies and asked if transportation back is going to be a problem and they said "It's not going to be easy to get a taxi back but we have a shuttle that can take you to Kranji MRT" ooooookkaaaayyyyy.. I put down feeling relieved and told the taxi driver that I am going ahead as planned. 

In my mind were two things:

1)  "the area might have dogs roaming around but inside the Bollywood Veggies compound it shouldn't be an issue since it's a kids attraction in a multi-religious society, I am pretty sure the owner would know of such sensitivities. I have been to Kids Kampong (a fish farm) at Pasir Ris before and even though the place is right next to a dog grooming place and you can see big dogs come and go in their owners' cars, the dogs are always attended to. So, I assumed it is also going to be the case in Bollywood Veggies / Kranji.   

2) shuttle - and the first thing that came to my mind was a dedicated shuttle from Bollywood Veggies to Kranji MRT (silly me.. ok that is really my fault, I am dumb in that sense) not a bus service that ply a specific route in the Kranji Countryside area. 

fun places for kids singapore
Farms in Kranji

We arrived at Bollywood Veggies and I happily waved the taxi driver off. A sign said to enter the farm via the Poison Ivy restaurant. I pushed the door and aaaahh.. the air-conditioning blast was great.. until my kid started to point out that there is a big dog at the other side of the restaurant (next to the owner I assume) but big and unleashed and walking back and forth a bit. The kids refused to go in or even let me go near the counter to enquire. I stood at the front of the door and in a few minutes a cheerful girl came to attend to me. She was very nice, told me that entry is free for kids and $2 for adults, gave me a banana-shaped map (cos they specializes in bananas), Jurong Frog Farm brochure (cos the shuttle has two directions, one going to the frog farm and the other to Kranji MRT) and the Kranji Express schedule. She said that since the kids are scared of the dog, we can use the side gate at the other side. Still in a good mood and excited, I said thanks with a big smile and went to the side gate. 

Near the side gate (I can't remember before or after) is another gated compound with another big dog behind the gate (not so scary since it's on the side of the gate) and then we were happily looking around the farm. It was small but educational for the kids, there were yam plants.. I wish they have one basket at the side of the plant so that when my kid asked me what is a yam? I can just point to the yam and say that it is the root of this plant under the ground. There were also star fruit tree, many different kind of bananas that I myself have not seen.. and then.. just as we were eagerly exploring.. a very loud jet came zooming by.. it was super loud, you can hear it before it appears over your head and can still hear it even after it disappears from your sight and it went on and on and on maybe for about 5 rotations.. my kids were very scared and put their hands to their ears (they dislike loud noise) and refused to look around the farm again after that. 

It was still a good 20 minutes before the next shuttle so I brought them to the alfresco area of the restaurant cos we wanted to avoid the big dog in the air-conditioned area. All was well for about 2 minutes when my 3 year old started crying and screaming again. I asked "why?" and he said "" I was getting quite angry at this point and said that there is no dog out here! Then I turned and sigh another big dog on the loose on its own and it was sniffing around.. the kids went ballistic and I had to calm them down cos I was scared that they might agitate the dog with their cries and we were trying to make it to the exit slowly without the dog getting close to us. Luckily, one of the staff helped by calling the dog away from us and holding the dog off. 

20 minutes waiting for a shuttle with nowhere to sit.. (cos of the dogs) so we stood in front of the Bollywood Veggies sign, I called for a cab.. the operator said to give her 15 minutes since the place is very remote, I obliged.. 15 minutes later, no taxi is available.. another 5 minutes and the shuttle arrived. Paid $3 for myself and $1 each for the kids. The driver said, the shuttle is headed to Frog Farm and will be back to Bollywood Veggies in 30 minutes before going in the direction of Kranj MRT. I said fine, rather that I stand at the roadside for another 30 minutes waiting for you. 

At the frog farm, it was really run down, there were a few tanks displaying tadpoles and frogs and my 5 year old being himself wants to go and see.. the driver said he is stopping there for 10 minutes so I said ok to my son. We were looking at the very limited display when again my second son cried "Dog!" this time just few steps away from us.. big dog.. my heart nearly fainted as I took my 5 year old near to my side and hug my 3 year old tightly, fortunately, the dog went away from our direction and begin sniffing the shuttle door as if contemplating whether it's worth it to go up the shuttle? 5 pounding heart beats later, it decided to walk away from us and the shuttle.  We quickly went up to the shuttle and I asked the kids to sit way at the back while I stay guard at the door. 

My 5 year old kept asking to go back down to see the frogs while my 3 year old refused to get out of the shuttle.. it was a draining battle trying to pacify them.. all while praying that the dog will not change its mind and go up the shuttle.. it was the longest ten minutes wait ever!

kranji MRT


After the frog farm, the shuttle went to Fireflies Farm to pick up an aunty then back to Bollywood Veggies, D'Kranji Farm Resort, Gardenasia, Sungai Buloh Wetland and finally.. 1 hour after I first board the shuttle I arrived at Kranji MRT! My 3 year old managed to sleep in the shuttle then woke up when we arrived at Kranji MRT and both of them decided that they want to try taking the train...feeling guilty especially to the elder one that they couldn't enjoy the farm visits that I so cleverly planned.. I said ok.. but I bought tickets for only 1 station (As it was nearly peak hours.. I wouldn't want to be stuck in a super crowded train in peak hours with two small kids!) and next station we got off and hailed a cab! Thank God for civilization!

So, if you decide to take your kids to the farms around the kranji area, it would really help if you have your own transportation and enough snacks and drinks (if you have a special diet). Bollywood Veggies is near the goat farm Hay Dairies (but you have to go early like 9.30am for milking) and another farm that looks interesting (website here) For a list of farms at Kranji Countryside and their contact number and opening hours, please refer here. You would need to call and confirm if they accept public visits. 

Overall, I think Kranji is a nice place to take the kids out to when they are bored or if you are looking for cheap things to do with kids in Singapore. But, its not really a touristy place especially if you are from countries that have huge fruit orchards and farms with variety of animals. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sand Playground and Plane Spotting @ Changi Beach Car Park 4 With the Kids :)

singapore with kids
Plane spotting with the kids @ Changi Beach Car Park 4

Changi Beach is a really nice and quiet place though a bit far in if you are accessing by public transportation and limited parking space if you are driving/riding in. It's amenities are also very basic, so bring in all that you need (snacks and drinks, bicycles/ roller blades cos I don't think there are any kiosk selling snack and drinks or renting out any equipments). Drive all the way in if you are looking at going for a swim but if you just want to take some nice sea side air, while watching people fishing and spotting planes as they land / take off at / from Changi Airport, Changi Beach Car Park 4 would do the trick just nice.

Beautiful mature trees @ Changi Beach

My parents used to take my small kids here after weekend breakfast at Changi Village :) and we used to drive and park here at night when the kids were smaller and couldn't sleep, just looking at the aeroplanes and then driving back home. It's our laid back chilling place with the kids and it's one of the places that we dearly miss when we relocated to KL. 

singapore kids playground
Simple sand playground @ Changi Beach there are 3 more swings at the side not in the picture

While on the long Raya break back in Singapore, I took the kids to the simple sand playground at Changi Beach Car Park 4 as my no 2 was asking for some sand play and Pasir Ris Park playground though bigger has a lot of twigs and ants on the sand making it a bit difficult to enjoy playing with sand without flicking the ants off your limbs once in a while. Changi Beach's sand playground was clean and clear from twigs and ants :) bring a bottle of water if you want to make sand castles though..

family activities singapore
Kids playing with sand @ Changi Beach
free things to do with kids singapore

The sand playground at Changi Beach is very simple but quite enjoyable though it is not advisable to come when the sun is at its radiating best as there is very limited shade. We came at about 4.30pm and the weather was just fantastic. Car park was empty at 4.30pm but by 5pm quite a number of buses came in and park which was quite puzzling until my sister said that parking is free from 5pm onwards.. hmm..Public buses serving the area are no 9, 19 and 59 if I am not mistaken.

All in all, a nice place to go with the kids :) though I went on a weekday and am not sure how the crowd is like on a weekend :)

watching planes singapore kids
The beautiful beach @ Changi

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Alif Ba Ta Worksheets For Kids

My 5 year old is giving excuses not wanting to attend school as he don't quite look forward to Iqra' classes. Upon investigation, turns out the Ustazah is giving arabic letters writing exercises (about 90 repetitions per letter!) while waiting for his turn to do his one-to-one reading with the Ustazah. While some kids might not complain, my son (ok I admit I spoil him a bit) totally dislike the repetition of writing exercises in any language! Tried discussing with the principal regarding alternatives such as Alif Ba Ta flash cards and even send in some sample Iqra' worksheets that the Ustazah can come up with to replace the writing exercises but all they say was that "they agreed to change my son's book from Iqra to Tilawati book" as I have earlier informed them that he reads Tilawati with me at home. 

No mention of what activity will my son do while waiting for his turn to read with the Ustazah though.. So, in the end I decided to make a few Arabic Alpahabets worksheets for my son to do. I hope that I will find the time to add on more for others to use as well as I can't really find much Alif Ba Taa / Arabic Alphabets worksheets for kids online. The only ones I found were from Indonesia and under scribd which requires subscription to download. 

Here are the first 2 pages of the worksheets. I have added one reference Arabic Alphabets page for the kids to  refer to when filling in the blanks of the other 2 pages. I hope this benefits you as well. Feel free to share. 

alif ba ta

arabic alphabets worksheets

lembaran kerja alif ba ta

If  you like these worksheets, please take a look at my new Alif Ba Ta video for kids and share it along :

Jazaakumullahu Khairan Khathiran!

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