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Food For Thought

Ever wondered what umami is or how to get rid of garlic odours? Read on for yet another instalment of foodie news and trivia in this month’s issue of Travel 3Sixty°.

Words: Wilson Ng

Precious Secret


Secret Recipe Cakes & Café, one of the fastest growing café chains in the region, made its debut in 1997, and has since become a household name in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, China and Australia. The café chain has over 300 outlets in the region, with the latest outlets opening in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Bangalore in India. The café was also recently voted as one of the Best Top 10 Restaurants in Taste of China in Suzhou, China, while it’s Melbourne Central outlet was endorsed as ‘Recommended by TripAdvisor’ Australia as one of the highly recommended restaurant destinations for travellers. Secret Recipe’s cakes have won awards such as the ‘Best Cheesecake Award’ and ‘Most Original Chocolate’ cake, while the cafe’s stewed Irish Lamb Shank and Noodle in Tom Yum Kung have also chalked up public praise. So, head over to Secret Recipe and indulge in a smorgasbord of delicious cakes and irresistible food offerings! Log on to www.secretrecipe.com.my  to locate the nearest outlet near you.




The Adobo Road Cookbook

Acclaimed food blogger of Burnt Lumpia, Marvin Gapultos introduces unique interpretations to classic Filipino cooking in The Adobo Road Cookbook. The book is filled with popular Filipino favourites such as slow-braised pork belly adobo, salmon and miso sinigang soup, crunchy crab lumpia, and many others. The author who gained popularity through the food blog, Burnt Lumpia (burntlumpia.typepad.com), is also the founder of Los Angeles’ first gourmet Filipino food truck, The Manila Machine. With his intimate understanding of Filipino ingredients and flavours, Marvin developed a mouth watering menu for his mobile restaurant while personally cooking the dishes daily. Marvin lives in Southern California where he spends his time as a food and marketing writer.

Hmmm… Hummus

Simple to make, delicious and healthy too, hummus is a very popular Middle Eastern dish that you can rustle up in a jiffy!


2 cups boiled chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

3 to 5 tbsp lemon juice (according to taste)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients (except olive oil) in a food processor and process till smooth. Add a little water if mixture is too thick. Transfer to a serving dish, make a well and pour the olive oil in the centre. Serve with toasted pita bread or vegetable crudités.



Often described as the fifth taste after sweet, sour, salty and bitter, the umami component is said to be a ‘pleasant savoury flavour’, reflective of glutamates (a type of amino acid). Almost impossible to pinpoint as one definite taste, umami is said to be present in foods such as steaks, cheese, seafood, and in lesser amounts in tomatoes, beets and soybeans.


Herbal Legends


The Chinese Herbal Legends – 50 Stories for Understanding Chinese Herbs is an interesting book that doesn’t stop at merely explaining the properties of the herbs and medicinal roots and barks, every ingredients also comes with a legend or a tale associated with how the herb was discovered or used in ancient China. Compiled and translated by Zhu Zhongbao and Zhu Liu, the English name for each herb/root/bark, the nature and flavour, dosage and ailments cured are also provided.

Odour Be Gone!

Chopping garlic is bound to leave a strong odour on your hands. But there is a simple, almost peculiar way to get rid of the smell. Rub your hands with a stainless steel object such as a spoon! Strange as it may seem, the trick works with any strong odour whereby the smell is neutralised by stainless steel. Simply rub your hands on a spoon or any other stainless steel appliance and wash as usual. If there aren’t any stainless steel items lying around, try rubbing hands with a salt or baking soda. Both are equally effective in getting rid of unpleasant aromas.


The Singing Food Blogger

Food blogger Kelly Siew started her career as a doctor and psychiatrist but her true calling was food. This pretty lass who studied in Melbourne has returned to Malaysia and runs a popular food blog that she started after getting lots of support from Netizens. Her blog – kellysiewcooks.com – has also become the platform for her to talk about places to eat, foodie culture and anecdotal ruminations of her experimentation with recipes old and new. Her foodie adventures culminated in a shortlisting in Time Out Kuala Lumpur Blogger’s Choice category for the Time Out KL Food Awards in 2012. Even more interesting, this blogger has always aspired to become a recording artist and eventually produce her own album!


Sumptuous Sagano

Award-winning Chef Danny Leow at Sagano Restaurant in Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, recently introduced an all new a-la carte menu that will satisfy the taste buds of even the most discerning of diners. Inspired by the fusion of diverse flavours, this chef who loves sketching during his free time, tantalises the palate with food presentations that is a feast to the senses! Noteworthy offerings include appetizers such as soft shell crab nama harumaki (soft shell crab wrapped in rice paper) and ishiyaki gesso mayo (stone grilled squid with mayonnaise) to delicious soups such as gekikara seafood soup (spicy and sour seafood soup) and yaki kinoko sumashijiru (steamed clear soup with mix mushroom). Located in the West Wing of the hotel building, Sagano can accommodate up to 130 diners, and has three tatami rooms, one teppan room and one private dining room in addition to the main dining area. The restaurant is open for lunch from 12.00 noon to 2.30pm and dinner from 6.30pm to 11.00pm daily. Call 03 2162 2233 or email rhi.kulrn.fb@renaissancehotels.com for reservations.