Sometimes you walk into a place and just feel warmth from the get-go. Skive is one of those places. The eatery is visually appealing and exudes a friendly, relaxed vibe. At various intervals, bubbly co-owner Lau Wen Huey might pop by to ask if you need anything or just to say “Hello”.
It’s the sort of place that has soul in spades, and if you’ve been to enough restaurants, you’ll realise this is a rare commodity.
The eatery is run by Lau, a former surgeon (yes, surgeon) trained in Britain and her Swiss-trained chef husband Jonathan Han-Chet Ng. Lau and Ng met when she was working as a commis chef at a French restaurant in KL, having given up her medical career to join the mad, bad world of F&B. The two eventually started their own restaurant in Puchong, and a catering gig led to corporate entity Deli Artisan Food Operators offering them the opportunity to join their group.
This led to the birth of Skive, which celebrates the range of flavours Lau and Ng are used to tasting and working with – from hometown favourites in Alor Setar (where Ng grew up) to his experiences with Mexican and German chefs as well as the pair’s travels around the world.
Lau and Ng work together as a team at Skive and each handle different aspects of the restaurant.
“If you divide our menu into two, one comes from our roots. And I think that’s important because as Malaysians we kind of gravitate to something that is familiar and comforting. And the other side of the menu is the flavours we picked up from our travels and experiences, like the bold Mexican flavours that we both now love,” says Lau.
In the restaurant, Ng is in charge of the hot kitchen, while Lau is responsible for the many freshly-made cakes, breads and ice-creams that the eatery churns out. Nearly everything at Skive is made from scratch – from the curds to the nut butters, sauces, chocolate fudge, cured salmon and bread.
“I can’t think of anything that isn’t made from scratch,” says Lau, laughing.
The big Mexican breakfast is ideal for pleasure-seekers looking for something comforting to start the day.
There is a lot to tempt and titillate the palate at Skive, but you’d do well to begin with the big Mexican breakfast (RM28).
Essentially a shakshouka, the concoction is made up of eggs in a stew of tomatoes, mushrooms and potatoes. A giant chicken chorizo sausage straddles the thick mass while a freshly-baked croissant rests languidly by the side, ready to spring into action when its services are required to mop up the stew. The stew is delicious – rich, heady and filled with the intoxicating aromas and flavours of spices like cumin, coriander and paprika. As an opening act, this breakfast makes for a great start to the day.
The jerk cured salmon are little morsels of delight that feature salmon, avocado puree, mango salsa and rye bread.
Then there is the jerk cured salmon (RM19.90), which features salmon over dark rye sourdough, avocado puree and mango salsa. The house-cured salmon is delicious – velvety soft with spicy undertones that are offset by the sweetness of the mangoes and creaminess of the avocados, with the bread adding a rustic textural quality.
If you’re after a classic pasta, try the spicy prawn aglio olio (RM27) which features all the usual suspects – pasta with garlic, olive oil and chilli flakes – tossed in with more unexpected characters – tiger prawns and crispy portobello mushrooms. This is a solid rendition of an oft-repeated dish, where the pasta is bouncy and springy to the touch and the garlic-chilli balance is just right.
The whole spring ayam berempah is packed with flavour in every mouthful and elevated by the home-made sauces served on the side.
For a sample of local flavours, have a go at the whole spring ayam berempah (RM38) which is served with pandan rice, grilled sweetcorn and house-made anchovy sambal, kicap and salted fish sauce. The chicken is marinated in an array of spices for eight hours, and boasts crackly, crispy skin, juicy meat inside and flavours that have really seeped into the marrow of the poultry. For a whole new taste-scape, dollop all three sauces on the meat and enjoy the spicy corner of heaven your palate will inhabit.
Local flavours are also represented at Skive, with delicately flavoured concoctions like Grandma’s Thai laksa.
For something even more wholesome and heartwarming, try Grandma’s Thai laksa (RM25) which is akin to assam laksa, except with the addition of coconut milk. The dish is creamy and delicately nuanced, with an undercurrent of fishy flavours. Thick rice noodles, mint, cucumber, shallots, bean sprouts and egg round out this offering that will certainly find fans in laksa lovers.
The vadai soda bread is a modern reworking of the classic vadai and Irish soda bread.
Although the savoury items at Skive are executed with skill, it is the pastries, cakes and ice creams that really shine here. The vadai soda bread (RM6) for example, is an allusion to Lau’s love of making Irish soda bread. In this iteration, the bread is a little like a scone, hard and crusty on the outside and soft and fluffy inside, with a smear of butter slicked through the middle. It’s like eating a whole new species of vadai – one that captures all the deliciousness of the curry-leaf studded original in a different topography.
The white chocolate lemon lava cake is a light delight that once pried apart, reveals an interior filled with a thick lemon curd.
Then there is the white chocolate lemon lava cake (RM18) which Lau came up with in a two-pronged attempt to deviate from the usual chocolate lava cake and also to showcase her homemade lemon curd.
“It was difficult because of the acidity of the lemon, which reacts with the flour and makes the cake dense. So to get the balance to make it a lemon lava was the trickiest part,” says Lau.
But she’s nailed it, because the cake is light and spongy and once speared through the middle, a thick pool of lemon curd oozes out, drenching the plate with deliciously zesty, tart flavours.
You must, must try the decadent, sensationally good desserts at Skive. Clockwise from bottom left: lemon cheesecake, dark Belgian chocolate mousse cake, whisky mud cake and raspberry red velvet.
Don’t stop now though because there’s more to come. Keep space in your belly (no matter how much it protests) for the raspberry red velvet (RM16), which is essentially red velvet interspersed with raspberry in what proves to be a light, fruity affair that settles pleasurably in the mouth and cascades down the stomach like a floating fairy.
The whisky mud cake (RM16) also lives up to its namesake, boasting both whisky and a mud-like consistency. This boozy, rich temptress is very thick though, so don’t eat it by yourself or you’ll quickly feel sick.
Next up, try the dark Belgian chocolate mousse cake (RM15) which is a sinfully good sweet treat that like the devil, will keep seducing you with its moist, chocolatey goodness.
The hugely popular D24 durian avocado ice cream is delightful.
The restaurant also offers a series of house-made ice creams, and the chart-topper here is the D24 durian avocado ice cream (RM11) which boasts the creaminess of avocado against the hedonistic lusciousness of pure durian fruit, in what proves to be a union of soulmates.
And it’s not over yet, because the perfect nightcap is just one Scotsman (RM20) away. Made with espresso powder, house-made chocolate fudge, whisky, brown sugar and whipped cream, this intoxicating (quite literally, in this case) cocktail is classy, sophisticated and completely bewitching. Rest assured, once you’re under the spell of the Scotsman, no other “man” will ever be good enough.
Be warned, because The Scotsman is a seductive little thing that will instantly enchant with its heady mixture of whisky, espresso, brown sugar, house-made fudge and whipped cream.
If you happen to see Lau and Ng together in the restaurant, you will instantly be struck by how in love they seem with each other – the smiles are aplenty and so are the inside jokes. Although they live and work together, Lau says they have made it a point to separate their personal lives from their work lives.
“We’ve been working for four or five years now and thankfully, we haven’t had any flying knives in the kitchen! And the great thing about both of us is we have trust. So we come up with the menu and recipes and it’s like ‘Right, you do your part and I do my part.’ We divide and conquer and deliver,” she says, smiling.
Ground Floor, Telawi Square
41, Jalan Telawi 3
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2202 0313
Open Monday to Friday: 9am to 10pm; Saturday to Sunday: 8am to 10pm
In terms of competitions, the prestigious Mondial Des Arts Sucres is to pastry chefs what Mount Everest is to aspiring mountain climbers. It represents a steep, seemingly impossible climb to the top, an arduous journey in which many will flail and only a select few will emerge victorious.
This is exactly what happened to local pastry chef Yap Kean Chuan of the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia and his compatriot Lau Hwei Min of Harold’s Academy when they bagged second place at the 10th edition of the competition held early this year in France.
Yap and Lau competed against 15 other countries (made up of a total of 30 competitors) and were judged by 32 jurors and 40 commissioners.
Teams (made up a male and female chef) were tasked with producing seven desserts from scratch in 19 short hours. This included a sugar centrepiece, a choice centrepiece, a chocolate centrepiece, four entremets, 20 ice cream cakes, 20 plated desserts and two types of confectionery bars with 30 pieces each.
Given the amount of work Yap and Lau put into their creations (they practised relentlessly and did 10 full rehearsals before the competition) and the fact that their desserts have been officially certified as some of the best in the world, it’s a pity that so few people will ever get to try them.
- Yap (left) and Lau bagged second place at the recent Mondial Des Arts Sucres 2018 competition where they had to produce seven desserts from scratch in 19 hours.
- Yap and his teammate practised intensively before the start of the competition.
Well, the good news is this is about to change as from now till Oct 31, the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia will be selling the Gâteau De L’horloge, the ice-cream cake created at the competition.
Priced at a whopping RM1,000 for a set of 10 and available exclusively at the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia, the visually arresting concoction features a deft balance of French techniques interwoven with hints of Asian tropical fruits.
The cake has a horological element to it, which is immediately obvious in the show-stopping chocolate clockface topped with opulent gold leaves.
The award-winning Gateau de L’horloge ice cream cake will be available for a limited time at RM1,000 for a set of 10.
The interior boasts a complicated medley of flavours and textures in the form of vanilla yoghurt ice-cream, yuzu and mango sorbet and strawberry coulis with a base of crunchy streusel (a crumbly flour, butter and sugar concoction), designed to incite pure, unadulterated pleasure.
“Attaining any award in the prestigious Mondial Des Arts Sucrés is an acknowledgement from leading experts of the global pastry scene.
“Placing Asian flavours in the global competition goes to show the unexplored depth of our tropical ingredients in international kitchens, so we are very excited to share the Gâteau De L’horloge with Malaysia,” says Yap.
As the desserts require time to prepare, bookings need to be made at least a week in advance. For more information, call 03-7960 3846.
WATERMELON RIND HALWA
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL MOTHERS
Thankfully spring is finally here, for which we Calgarians have waited for a very long time. It was supposed to be here beginning of March, but we waited till about the end of April. Even in past winter months, temperatures were much lower than average and the amount of snowfall was much higher than average. Even some people, like my neighbour, who loves snowfall and winter were tired of this year’s winter and said enough is enough. I have a habit of watching the evening news on the television, but this winter I was tired of watching the evening local news because after every five minutes they show the weather report, and it was depressing to watch the temperature in minus double digits (Celsius) for months.
This spring will also bring new leaves and flowers in the trees, birds have already started their conferences on the trees, snow is already melted. Soon we will be sitting in the gardens and enjoying the evening tea and dinner outside. This spring is also bringing some new fruits in the market like watermelon. Now I am already thinking about summer when we will get lots of more fruit, particularly my favourite one like cherries, mangoes and many more.
Last year, in the summer, when we were getting a lot of watermelons, as I was chopping it for everyone to enjoy, my daughter and I were chatting about how we don’t consume the rind of the watermelon and is actually so versatile to use. She informed me that she had once made a curry with watermelon rind, which was very tasty and everybody enjoyed it. I was surprised and couldn’t believe that I had not thought of that before. Soon after that talk, I decided to make something very nice with watermelon rind that is when I made this recipe the very first time, and it turned out fantastic.
500 grams watermelon rind
200 grams red portion (fruit) of watermelon
200 grams sugar
200 grams khoya/mava ( solidified milk)
3 tbs ghee/unsalted butter
pinch cardamom powder
2 tbs green pumpkin seeds/any other nuts
Slice watermelon rind and watermelon in small pieces and grate the khoya.
Heat heavy bottomed pan and add ghee/butter in it, when hot add watermelon rind pieces and let it boil and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes till they are soft.
Add watermelon pieces and sugar, let all the water evaporates, it can take 15-20 minutes then add grated khoya in it.
Add pumpkin seed for garnishing and serve hot or cold as desired.
It is fitting that in person, Jaslyn Rangson is a sweet young woman with a sunny smile who laughs often and easily. This sweetness is also reflective of her job, which involves whipping up all sorts of desserts at her two cafes – Jaslyn Cakes and new baby, Dew.
Rangson’s interest in baking began as a child, when she would often pore over cookbooks. Her first baking experience was making Anzac biscuits for a school fair, and that initial success spurred her interest even further. At university in England (where she was studying for a degree in economics), she started baking cakes and cookies for extra pocket money.
“I would bake for my family and friends’ events and I also did some bake fairs at university. I baked a lot, just for fun. It was more of a hobby that I started to make money from,” she says.
That hobby quickly proved more long-lasting and Rangson went on to do a diploma in patisserie at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu in London. When she came back to Kuala Lumpur, she started baking from home, and had a pop-up at local eatery Wondermama.
But Rangson had always dreamed of opening her own place, so in 2014, she opened a little (and by that, I mean really small) cake shop called Jaslyn Cakes in the Telawi area of Bangsar. The eatery became a huge hit, with homey sweet concoctions like sticky date pudding, banana yoghurt loaf and salty Valhrona brownies quickly earning her a rabid fan base.
Jaslyn Rangson serves refined desserts inspired by French patisserie at her cafe Dew.
“We deliberately looked for a small shop – we wanted something small and cosy, and easy to manage. I just prefer smaller places!” she says.
A few months ago, Rangson opened her latest venture, another impossibly tiny dessert cafe called Dew (which is also right next to Jaslyn Cakes).
“It was just an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. Our neighbour moved out and we thought, ‘It can’t get better than this – it’s right next door!’ And it was quite an exciting prospect – to make new pastry that we can’t sell next door,” she says.
Although the two are literally next door to each other, Rangson says that initially she didn’t want to disclose that they were any relation to each other.
“We actually didn’t really want to tell people that we owned Jaslyn Cakes as well, because we wanted people to come in without any expectations. We wanted them to come and try our new cakes with an open mind,” she says.
Because both spaces are so small, you have to wonder why Rangson didn’t just knock down the wall between both outlets and widen the space, so that people could sit comfortably.
“We never had any intention to expand, we just wanted to do something different – a totally different concept,” she says.
And indeed, the difference between Jaslyn Cakes and Dew is instantly palpable. While the former has a home-hewn, family-centric feel to it, Dew is distinctly more sophisticated with a florist at the entrance and sleek marble-topped tables inside taking centre stage. This aura extends to the desserts as well; Dew offers sophisticated, Instagram-worthy desserts that are in direct contrast with the more homemade concoctions on offer next door.
“For Dew, it’s more French-inspired patisserie, and it’s very much inspired by nature because we are a florist as well, so we try and tie everything together so the colours are all very neutral, and very natural, and the ingredients and flavours as well. I suppose it’s a little bit more refined at Dew,” says Jaslyn.
Fresh and filled with herbaceous notes, the basil-lime tart is an instant winner.
The 10 dessert offerings on Dew’s menu came about after lots of trial and error, and Rangson says she experimented with close to 20 different options before picking the final 10. Every month, she also adds a new flavour to the menu.
To get a feel of what Dew is about, try the basil-lime tart (RM19) which incorporates basil mousse, lime and basil curd and meringue. The dessert offers bold, pronounced herbaceous flavours that meld fluidly with Rangson’s vision of imbibing a botanical theme into her creations.
The rose & grapefruit mousse is light with understated rose notes interspersed with tart grapefruit flavours.The same can be said of the rose & grapefruit mousse (RM19) which has rosewater mousse, grapefruit curd and fresh grapefruit segments in it. This is a light, feminine creation with tart grapefruit flavours in the centre and subtle rose accents running throughout it.
The chocolate souffle (RM16) came about because Rangson wanted something warm and comforting to offer customers. It is made to order, so you might have to wait 15 minutes or so for your dessert. The souffle is feather-light with rich, chocolatey flavours.
The whisper-light chocolate souflle is suitably decadent and filled with intense chocolatey flavours.
In the future, Dew will also potentially serve as a speakeasy with guest bartenders, but that is still in the planning stage at the moment. Both Dew and Jaslyn Cakes are constantly thronging with people, even at odd hours like 3pm on a random Friday (which is when we went). You’ll see families with children, hipsters and their friends and a general motley crew of patrons all eagerly tucking into the wide assortment of desserts. Which makes you wonder – given the enthusiastic crowds at her existing shops, are there plans to open another one?
Ultimately, Rangson says she is happy with her two little outlets and has no plans for another one just yet.
“I would say probably not. You have to wait for results, for the shop to grow. It’s not easy, but I have no regrets,” she says.
RASPBERRY JAM FILLED BREAKFAST SQUARE
Happy Valentine ’s Day
Suitable for vegans
In 2016, I got a surprise gift of two cookbooks, by my daughter’s friend, Mamta, who is a big admirer of my blog and always appreciates and enjoys my cooking. I was overwhelmed that day with those two books, it was not even my birthday, and she was just visiting us. What a kind thought it was of bringing cookery books for me? Isn’t it? After thanking her for such a nice gift and gesture, I told her that I will definitely try some recipes from those books and share them soon on my blog. She herself is a great cook, last time when I visited her, she surprised me with so many nice dishes, which I have to get the recipe for and try soon. Here I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart and wishing her all the best in her life, by selecting a recipe from the book and recreating it.
This is called real love, love does not mean romantic love between a girl and a boy, but showing gratitude, care and affection towards someone is also considered as love. In my opinion, love has many meanings and types, if someone is holding a door for you when you are entering a shop, is also called love for someone. If you choose to be a snow angel for someone and cleaning the yard of an elderly couple, that can also be called love. Love is when you smile at the strangers and get the smile back. A mother’s love towards her children can be called as unconditional love because she cares only about the happiness of her children. I have written all this about love because I am posting this recipe on Valentine’s Day in the month of February when people normally say that in this month. love is in the air. If you ask me, love is always there in the air, you just have to notice it, give it and receive it.
The first time I had browsed through the cookbook, that is when I had seen this recipe and decided then and there that that will one of the recipes I will make and post it on Valentine’s day. The author used apricot jam but I used raspberry jam. I thought if I use raspberry jam the pink colour of the raspberries will suit the theme of Valentine’s Day. So here I am with the recipe, the name of the book is Food made fast-Desserts, and the author is Williams-Sonoma.
1, 1/2 cups brown bread flour (235 grams)/whoye wheat flour
1, 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (140 grams)
1/4 cup Icing sugar (30 grams)
3/4 cup light brown sugar (185 grams) OR coconut sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter (185 grams) OR coconut oil for vegans
1 cup Raspberry jam (315 grams)
Preheat oven to 325 degree F (165 degrees C). Grease a square oven tray or parchment paper inside the tray.
In a food processor, combine the flour, oats, powdered sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms fine crumbs.
Remove 2 cups of the flour mixture and set aside. Transfer the remaining mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly over the bottom.
Drop spoonfuls of jam evenly, spread the jam evenly to the edges. Sprinkle the reserved flour mixture evenly over the jam.
Bake until the top crust and edges are light brown – about 30 minutes. Let cool completely in a pan on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares.
INGREDIENTS FOR JAM
200 grams raspberries
100 grams sugar
Make a puree in the blender with raspberries with little water.
Mix raspberry puree and sugar together.
In a frying pan or heavy bottomed wok cook the puree with sugar on a low flame.
Keep on stirring; it will take 15-20 minutes to get the consistency of thick jam. Leave it to cool. If you are using a cooking thermometer, check the temperature when it is showing 90 degrees C, it means jam is ready.