Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Plate Culture - Home Dining Experience

Unlike dining at restaurants, PlateCulture offers the culture of home dining with any of the hosts whose profile, background and passion for cooking essentially you must read while deciding between the various types of food. Also, if you like to learn a thing or two about cooking or simultaneously like to cook and dine, then pick the host with that expertise. Now, whether you prefer to sit back and dine or prefer a hands-on experience of cooking, PlateCulture is where you begin with the booking.

Let it be said as private dining or social dining, home dining is not new to me. The first experience is there fresh on my mind and quite a delightful one I must say. As an adventurous foodie, truly simple for me. The one and only request is “no beef please”. Other than that – “right on, let’s eat and experience”. So booking was confirmed and finding out the location is important so that you don’t keep the host waiting. Actually you know what? I forgot its school holidays and the traffic won’t be so bad. I took Ken by surprise. I arrived half an hour earlier with my niece. Still, Ken was accommodating. As a good host like how we Malaysians are always, he welcomed us.
Albeit getting the dishes ready, he made us feel comfortable and served the homemade loa hon kao drink, the drink made with the round ball brown skin fruit (also called monk/longevity fruit) sold at Chinese shops and simmered with sugar.
In between cooking, he tried to keep us company. Great conversation that prolonged while we dined together with the French couple. We spoke about our lives, shared opinions and of course food was the main topic. In fact, it was easy to understand what Nyonya cuisine is about since I am quite a pro with Nyonya dishes. Then again, to each it’s own because of different cooking style with different ingredients. For example, I prefer Malacca belacan whereas Ken told me I should also try the Penang belacan. Good point I noted.

The cozy home dining area reflects the Nyonya heritage - the blue Nyonya ware collection in the glass showcases, the ornaments and the family pictures speaks about the legacy of Nyonya heritage handed down to the next generation and Ken’s passion for Nyonya cooking. The yellow wall, the pendant lights, the lighted candle and the dishes cooked with love and served in the Nyonya ware definitely captured the essence of an actual Nyonya dining.

A little apprehensive I was with the Chinese cabbage stir fried with fish cake. Okay, maybe not appealing but the flavors just arose when eaten with rice. Simplicity in the simplest form, the organic cabbage with the fish cake Ken’s mum made worked well together in the thick clear but not gummy gravy/sauce.
The other dish I loved was the chicken curry. Chicken tender to its core, soft potato and the aromatic curry the "wow" factor. I literally scooped and drank the curry. Quite a subtle blend but when it hits the taste-buds, you feel, you feel the spiciness. This dish is another winner.
The Ayam pongeh a signature Penang Nyonya dish I’ve cooked a few times should be praised too. I didn’t feel comfortable asking Ken the secret of the thick brown gravy soaking up the chicken and potatoes but after tasting, I gathered it’s the tauchu/fermented soy paste and garlic for the flavors.
The sambal belacan my all-time favourite sadly lacked the spicy kick. Perhaps it did make sense when Ken commented that not everyone can withstand spiciness. But without a little heat on the tip of the tongue, sambal belacan is a question mark.
The Jiu Hu Char (sengkuang/turnip with salted fish), another popular Penang Nyonya dish was well cooked though the aroma and ingredients didn’t seem to quite come through as per my liking. However the French couple wouldn’t stop eating and even mentioned the dish is delicious.
The Nyonya achar cooked with carrot, cucumber, cabbage, turmeric and vinegar and topped with roasted sesame seeds and peanuts was a contrast of flavors. Just that a little more of vinegar would have elevated the taste further. The oranges for the sweet ending I suppose should be okay and appreciated after a filling meal.

Overall it was a pleasant dining experience. Ken a humble and down to earth person showcased his Nyonya cooking expertise and he knows how to keep the conversation going. Indeed a lovely meal with like-minded people.
With this second time home dining experience, here’s the key points I think you should ponder before or after confirmation the booking.

PlateCulture is the platform for the open communicating with the host. Avoid calling or messaging except perhaps if you are late or you can’t find the direction.
Being late because of traffic jam is one thing. The other is not informing the host you will be late.  
Let the host know if you don’t eat this or that eg: the type of meat, level of spiciness or allergy.   
Intruding into other people’s privacy is inappropriate. So don’t walk around the house or fiddle with things unless permitted.
Ask permission before taking pictures or sharing on social media.
Avoid talking about sensitive issues like race, religion and politics.  
Keep to the time. After dinning, you should know it’s time to say thank you and bye-bye.
And REMEMBER, appropriate dining etiquette and mannerism are in tandem with an enjoyable dining experience.

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  1. Like their collection in the restaurant and the food so appertizing.

  2. Beautiful collections and the food looks delicious.

  3. What a lovely concept! Looks like dining at home!

  4. Loved reading the dining looks really delicious!!

  5. The foods look very appetizing and that curry chicken would be favourite too.

  6. a wonderful system indeed. Enjoy the truly home cooked meal

  7. I've only had one home-dining experience which was rather interesting. Interesting that you get two chicken dishes in a meal. Nice ambience! xoxo

  8. This is such an interesting concept. I love the fact that it isn't just the food that you concentrate on. Enjoyed going through the displays and memorabilia too.

  9. I am really new to this type of concept and read on ur blog today.. The food looked yummy as always .. loved the place

  10. Dishes look scrumptious. Good to know about Nyonya cooking. Informative post


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