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Showing posts with label Malaysia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Malaysia. Show all posts

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day Trip: A Foodie Tour to Malacca.

Malacca was the beginning of Malaysia’s history.  But for me, it is the last destination before I go back home to Perth.  When you have friends who live to eat, coming to a foodie town such as Malacca can be an amazing day trip.  Putting my concerns of where to eat or which blogs to follow aside, I left itinerary in capable hands.   So what did we eat in Malacca?  Well, these were the places recommended in Malacca for a foodie!  A little short of the clich├ęs but these places are well worth paying a visit!

 

Sun May Hiong Satay House

After a 2 hour drive, we finally reached our destination with our stomachs rumbling!  Our first stop, is satay!  The yummy Sun May Hiong Satay House serving authentic satay with a Malaccan touch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Why Satay you might ask?  I was personally wondering why too.  Until I had it :)!

 

Sun May Hiong Satay House

50A, Jalan Kota Laksamana 1/1, Taman Kota Laksamana,

75200 Melaka

 

Here there are two types of satay, one chicken and the other is pork. Basic side dishes like ketupat and a fresh salad of cucumber and red onion is available too.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirstly, the satay here is delicious.  Unlike places where the fatty part of meat is used, here the fat and meat are meticulously arranged to create a sensational bite. For most, it was just good old satay but it was more than that.  It was PORK satay too.   Good flavor in the meat along with an appetizing smokiness made it great.  But what differentiates the satay here was not the meat.  But the sauce.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA rather poor photo here.  Anyways, the sauce is not your typical 100% peanut sauce.  It was more of a Peranakan/Malaccan style that you get.  The sauce was rich with a hint of fruitiness as well as generous bits of pineapples.  Superbly more-ish with the satay and it was so yummy to the extent where I was literally drinking the sauce at one point!  Definitely a spot to go to.

 

Jonker 88

After finishing up a relatively small meal of 10 satay sticks, my friends brought me to the much celebrated Jonker 88 which is famed for it laksa and chendols. Located on the vibrant Jonker Street, no address is needed I believe.  If anything, visit their WEBSITE @ www.jonker88.com  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Asia, queuing is a norm.  Needless to say, any famed eateries such as this requires a lot of waiting!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The price list!  Superb value for the AUD though in Malaysia it was still relatively well priced!

 

I hate waiting though my desperation often overwhelms my impatience.  But why not be quick if I can right? Well, one tip is to TAKEAWAY and SKIP the queue.  Bring it to the heritage park next door and maybe enjoy the chendol with some passing breeze.   Bloody awesome.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEmbracing the Malaysian food scene at its finest.  I ordered the Chendol topped with Durian, the king of fruits.  For starters, the chendol here is no lame over-rated crap.  The use of the purest and most authentic Gula Malacca or Palm Sugar makes all sweet foods a treat.  Most people assume that IT IS ALL THE SAME. Definitely a big NONO.  Authentic palm sugar has a beautiful caramel flavor and a hint of sour after taste.  Here at Jonker 88, they were so generous with Gula Malacca which made it the perfect drink in the sweltering heat.  The durian flavor was quite subtle to my dismay.  I was expecting a better kick!  Towards the end, the drink became a little too sweet but still every bit delectable.  But be careful though, fussy eaters might find the shaved ice a little rough!

 

Later in the night, we returned to Jonker 88 for their laksa.   It was OK, the toppings of fish ball, bean curd roll and fish was a nice touch, but where a good laksa is concerned, quality of the soup is paramount.  Here it was very ordinary.  But for die hard fans, I shall not comment further :P!  Definitely had better ones before!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

One Bite Durian Puff

To complement our Chendol, we took away more durian stuff! Here was the durian puff Yobi picked up from a few doors down called One Bite Durian Puff.  Another bloody good snack.  Nonetheless, it could be heaps better.  The durian flavors were again way too subtle.  I guess despite its origins from Malaysia, the king of fruits is not exactly what anyone would call cheap!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFluffy little morsels filled with a durian custard.  An acquired taste naturally instilled in Malaysians.  I loved it although it could have more flavor!    Nevertheless, it is something I would happily hold in my hand while walking around town, consuming these one by one.

 

Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball

As if that the durian puffs were not fattening enough, we soon found ourselves queuing for what was arguably the most popular food in Malacca. The famous Chicken Rice Ball.  While most of us were not convinced that the hype was worth it on our first try, we decided to give it another go.  Here, we tried the first shop that served this original delicacy. Kedai Kopi Chung Wah or Chung Wah Coffee Shop Chicken Rice Balls!  This is located at the roundabout on Jonker walk.  Another shop which is impossible to miss!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho is not surprised that we are queuing again?  Asians and queuing are inseparable.  We are definitely people who live to eat rather than eat to live!

 

Chicken rice ball.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The praises: Chicken was fairly tasty and well cooked.  Not overcooked for sure.  Rice balls were unique and the flavor was decent.  But for a top notch establishment in town, I was expecting the food to be a little more refined.  As my friends mentioned, it felt as if the chicken was chopped without consideration.  Putting that aside, I found the dressing of the chicken a overpowered with sesame oil.  I would have preferred a less overwhelming sauce.  More importantly, I am more accustomed to beautiful rice that is both fluffy and fragrant.  Putting it in the shape of a ball gives it a unique look, but in terms of consistency, it was mushy!  Definitely a love it or hate it experience!

 

After pigging out, it was time we headed out of Jonker Street.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA timeless classic.  A VW Camper van.  Some say leave a classic be, yet I cannot wait to see a VW remake in the near future.  Concepts as of late has been rather impressive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The famous building often seen in postcards!

 

Klebang Coconut Shake

Originating from a roadside stall, this place has grown tremendously and is easily on of Malacca’s most famous chill out spots.  As for fans, rejoice!  They now have a proper sitting  area at the back for dine-in with savory bites such as pre-packed noodles, nasi lemak and a large variety of kuihs!  As for takeaways, the stall along the road side is still in service.  Clearly, even though famous, they have never forgotten their roots.  Also, I was previously told that they only open from 12.30pm onwards! Take note!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile the Nasi Lemak was not bad, it was the coconut that made my day.  Klebang’s coconut shake was generous in coconut flesh and tasted superb.  It had a slight crunchy texture to it that made this drink pleasant.  Compared to the one I had in Penang, this was leap and bounds better.  Very original with good amounts of coconut as mentioned.  In contrast, the one in Penang tasted fine, but the mix of soda more than coconut juice means very little coconut taste.  Hence, my preference for the Klebang Coconut Shake!    See my Penang post here.

 

Tengkera Putu Piring

Last place for the day, is Putu Piring located along Jalan Tengkera.  Opening at 6pm onwards, be sure to get in early as late comers go home unsatisfied.  Among us, I think we ordered close to 20 of these delicious kuih.photoWhile I can choose to say very little and let the picture be a tease, I shall not.  In fact, I am somewhat apologetic for dissing Yobi’s suggestion earlier on before the trip.  I was like “meh, sounds so normal”.  Proven otherwise on the first bite, these were heavenly.  Again we see lightly fluffy textures where the infamous Gula Malacca (palm sugar) very smartly put in these thin disc-shaped delicacy.  When steamed, the  Gula Malacca melts into a syrup like consistency making it so damn addictive.  It was sweet and at the same time slightly savory thanks to the natural attributes of a quality Gula Malacca which is salty and sour.  While I thought I ordered 5, only 2 came and to avoid being called fat, I decided to keep quiet lol.  GODDAMNIT.

Putu Piring Jalan Tengkera

252 Jalan Tengkera

75200 Melaka

 

Ok folks, that sums up my trip to Malacca.  Great food for sure.  More importantly, a very over due trip with some very good friends in Malaysia!  I really appreciate their effort in chauffeuring me around and cannot help but feel somewhat indebted! You know who you are ;)! This is a very rush post which I will come back to fine tune later! Had to get this up as my laptop is always left behind in Malaysia when I travel back to Perth!

WenY

Monday, August 5, 2013

Penang Trip: Nasi Kandar Line Clear

P7210277It was our last day in Penang.  With one meal left, I had little space for errors and once again sought the help of the internet.  One enviable food that was closely associated to Penang is the Nasi Kandar.  But the question is, where about do I start?  My favourite Nasi Kandar has always been Kayu Nasi Kandar but most people had recommended Nasi Kandar Line Clear located near the intersection between Campbell Street and Penang Road. 

Bad signs seem to lurk near the areas recommended and it seems that I take little effort in learning them.  With my tummy that hungry, I could barely blame myself.  Walking in, the restaurant was quiet with my parents and I being their only customer.  I hungrily pointed at the basics such as a great mix of curries and as well as a large piece of fried chicken.

 

 

 

 

Nasi Kandar with Fried Chicken and Kuah CampurP7210284 Biting into the chicken here was pure joy.  I love how large this Nasi Kandar stall’s chickens are. Bloody meaty and crunchy with a KFC beating marinade and batter.  Crispy skin tend to be the best parts of a Nasi Kandar meal!  The way I would eat my rice is to mix it all together as the flavours tend to be absorbed by the rice.  This was where I started feeling disappointed.  At Line Clear, the sauces are way too watery and the rice as well, felt a little wet.  Definitely a big bummer.  A favourite Nasi Kandar topping of mine which was the Kerisik, a grated coconut condiment bursting with flavours was not there.  Lady’s fingers were OK but a little old.

 

All in all, coming in here for a great last meal did not quite turn out as I expected.  Knowing how the island folks here rave about their famous Penang Nasi Kandar, I knew that I was at the wrong place.  I guess my research was not done in depth as there are many others such as Nasi Kandar Kampung Melayu as well as Nasi Kandar Beratur.  Both of which has both so many good and  bad press such that I was thrown into a dilemma (yes I get stressed when I eat). But little matters more than the fact that I found the food here to be EDIBLE, but great Nasi Kandar?  Definitely a claim too FARFETCHED.

 

Still, I had no regrets as the earlier days of the trip were filled with some of the best meals ever.  Check out the links below to see what I ate on my 4 day trip to Penang :)!

Penang Trip: Another Local Favourite @ Sin Keng Aun

Penang Trip: Ah Leng’s Char Kuey Teow @ Penang

Penang Trip: 2 Sister’s Char Kuey Teow, Yam Cake Hokkien Noodles @ Day 3

Penang Trip: A Heritage Experience @ 1881 Zhong Tian Lou

Penang Trip: Hameed Pata @ Fort Cornwallis @ Day 2

Penang Trip: Toh Soon Cafe @ Day 2

Penang Trip: Sin Guat Keong Hawker, Kimberley Road @ Day 1

 

WenY

Friday, August 2, 2013

Penang Trip: Another Local Favourite @ Sin Keng Aun, Lorong Chulia

Just as I thought that this was the end of my pursuit for traditional Penang-nite food after a series of unlucky runs, I finally scored a meal at Sin Keng Aun.  This eatery is highly recommended by many people and clearly popular among the locals.  The clock barely pointed to 5.30pm yet it was already dinner time for the islanders.  Sin Keng Aun’s crew consisted of a man wearing a hat (presumably the boss) and the speedy elderly chefs who double up as wait staff making younger people look shit.  No joke.  The food at Sin Keng Aun is rather mixed.  I would like to say Peranakan/Nyonya but reviews online say Hainanese and at times it is even classified as “Penang”.  Putting petty issues aside, I will let the food do the talking.

2 Lorong Chulia, Georgetown

10200 Penang

Opens for lunch and dinner.  Lunch is from 11am-2.30pm. 

Dinner is open from 5.30pm till close. (He can close at 7pm is business is brisk)

Call : 04-2614786 (call before going)

 

First dish out was Sin Keng Aun’s Hainanese Chicken ChopOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATossed in a slightly sweet and sticky sauce, the chicken chop is still crisp from being deep fried.  The potatoes, onion and peas were all cooked spot on.  My first bite it and I found it nice yet it seemed to lack that final execution in terms of flavour.  As is, the chicken chop was barely salty, and just a little sweet.  Then I reminded myself, that this was not KL where the stress is so bad we need more flavour to overcome the anxiety.  In Penang, most of their food are subtly flavoured especially where salt is concerned.  This was another clear example.  Not bad though as I think I ate the whole thing by myself.

 

Next dish was the Gulai Assam Pedas with White Pomfret (Pak Cheong)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe only type of fish used here is the White Pomfret which shows that quality is not something this old gem would compromise.  Its sauce was extremely appetizing.  I liked the strong flavours of the spices which I shall assume probably has heaps of tamarind, bunga kantan, perhaps some lemon grass and what not.  I am no expert but even the most amateurish foodie can tell that the flavour in the Gulai Assam Pedas was immense.  Using the pomfret is always a good thing as it is super meaty and have little bones! The perfect accompaniment for the sauce.  

 

Next dish was a lettuce wrap with slow cooked turnip with crab meat (small specks)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnlike the conventional Peking Duck Sang Choy Bow, Malaysian has a different that uses a turnip.  Again, it was something I enjoyed.  I like turnips cooked in this way as its natural sweetness just oozes out without effort.  Eaten with heaps of lettuce leaf, I was sure to fulfil my vegetable RDI.

 

Pan-fried Assam PrawnsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe prawn dish for the night was the Assam prawns.  For the best effect in marinating, the mid section of the pawn had it shells removed so the marinade could sip in!  The flavours here were very very simple but it was just sublime.  To put it together, imagine fresh prawns; pan-fried, slightly sweet, sour and salty with an amazing tamarind fragrance. NOM NOM NOM! Mom despite being usually generous decided to hog half this dish for herself as she loves pawns cooked in this way.  Dad did not seem impressed but over all, this was definitely executed well.

 

Despite pigging out on the last 4 dishes, I ordered a 5th dish for the three of us.  No wonder everyone in Penang looks so slim.. =/!  The table beside us had 1 dish less but 1 person more… DAMN.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Good old Penang Fried Lobak.  Not sure how to explain this.  But I guess meat roll would suffice? haha.  I love this dish and Penang is most famous for making the best ones. The Lobak at Sin Keng Aun is no less yummier than ones I have had before.  I ate 3/4s of the whole thing haha.  Kickass for sure!

 

Sin Keng Aun’s reputation as an olden day treasure among its other heritage counterparts is something I have no doubts about.  Like my prior eats, some places need not be stellar in terms of food but there are just so many other reasons that people keep coming back.  Sin Keng Aun fits the description perfectly.  The food today was nice. In fact I rate it a 7/10.  Decent and affordable in so many ways.  Yet, the final execution that bridges the gaps between good and perfection seems lacking. But no, we are not at Robuchon or a Michelin star seeking restaurant.  We are at a place where culture is preserved through culinary experts.  I was a happy man after this meal.  Definitely no problems coming back here though, dad would be keener to revisit 1881 Chong Tian Lou.

 

WenY

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Penang Trip: Ah Leng’s Char Kuey Teow @ Penang Day 3

Knowing I could have had more earlier that day, abstinence kicked in as I knew what lie ahead. Barely an hour after my quick fix , I was now sitting down at another highly acclaimed Char Kuey Teow hawker in Penang.  Ah Leng  is known for serving some pretty good Char Kuey Teow on the island as well as the most expensive plate of noodles on the Island.  With the lot coming in at RM11, it could easily be one of the most expensive hawker food in the country.  However, I have become wary of such fads after a previous experience left me disappointed.  Coming in, I was expecting some sort of crowd due to the HYPE but you know what?  There was only a bunch of tourists leaving in their mini van.  Worst of all, there was a pile of leftovers which made me even more worried as I was now waiting for my very expensive fried Kuey Teow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Normal Char Kuey Teow RM6.

With its price similar to larger cities and significantly more than the price charged by the rest of the hawkers on the island, its only bragging rights were its prawns.  In terms of flavour and quality, I found little difference in satisfaction as there was no element of surprise which distinguishes it from the rest.  With all the mentions Ah Leng is getting online,  I was left wondering really what the fuss was all about.  Why pay more for something that is more readily available for less?  I was baffled.  Like my review of the 2 Sister’s version mentioned here, this is nice if the price was not a matter of consideration.  Having heard reactions from my local friends in Penang about prices I have been paying in town, I soon found myself stuck in tourist traps.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mom also ordered a few  vegetarian dumplings which were ok! Fillings were good and the flour pastry was good.  Chilli sauce felt out of the bottle and adulterated.  All in all, it was rather pedestrian.

 

We also ordered another bowl of noodles and found that is was OK.  I would have to end this post with a verdict that the blogger hype surrounding this place is unjustified.  Tourist trap?  Definitely.  I felt that for so many reasons, this place did not meet the mark.  In the end, it seems like the only REAL reason the buzz surrounding this place exist lies in a very old saying.  It’s like the blind leading a blind.  Rather hard to recommend.  For me, I would be happy strolling about older streets like Campbell Street, Kimberley Street and Chulia Street, blend with the locals and eat a simple plate of RM3.50 goodie!  In fact, the offerings were WAYYY better at Lam Heng Cafe which at least had a good Prawn Noodles and Yam Cake too!

 

Khoon Hiang Cafe

358 Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang

Opens 8.30am to 2.30pm and is closed on Wednesdays. (subject to change without notice)

WenY

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Penang Trip: 2 Sister’s Char Kuey Teow, Yam Cake, Hokkien Noodles @ Penang Day 3

It was 9am and Penang Island was still soundly asleep.  Quite a surprise actually as  I thought the older folks would be out and about doing their yam cha routine.  At least it was a quiet easy drive until we hit the busy Macalister Road. As we drove towards our destination, the “legendary” status 2 Sisters Char Kuey Teow, I was super excited.  Having slept early the night before, my tummy was rumbling and this made me wanted it even more bad.  But being a tourist on this island, I was lost.  Various times the GPS pointed us to the right location but yet, there were no visible signs of the coffee shop called Lam Heng Cafe.  That was because…it did not have one.  Really a FML moment as we had to drive a few rounds and THEN the road got super busy!  Your best bet is to look out for the hardware store next to this obscure eatery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA No Signboard =X

Almost directly opposite Loh Guan Lye Hospital (Park behind the hospital in the derelict bungalows)

185 Macalister Road, Georgetown

Opening Times: Breakfast and Lunch

Closes on Mondays

 

Bloggers, tourist and I believe a decent number of Penang-nites still have an unwavering loyalty to the name of the 2 Sisters Char Kuey Teow.  Known for their atrocious behaviour towards impatient customers and to a certain extent their relatively expensive fry-up, they have been in the business for a long time now. While I have no numbers, I am guessing at least half a century?  Walking in, the place was actually quieter than expected and to my dismay, there were no two sister’s but an elderly man.  It was then that I found out he was the son/nephew of one of the ladies which have stopped cooking as she was over 70 years of age now.  Amazing.  Her sister, unfortunately have passed away.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnlike most Char Kuey Teow in town, the 2 Sister’s version is less burnt but still packed great flavours.  It was tasty and the prawns were without a doubt very fresh.  That little bit of crab meat failed to justify its RM5 price tag compared to the RM3.50 charged around town.  In terms of providing taste, it was a very minor component.  Given its legendary status and publicity, I was expecting a little more “oomph”.  No, this was not bad in any manner and I believe this is still better than most places in KL, but considering the hype surrounding it, I was not blown.  Just a simple decent plate of delicious noodles.

 

Also famous besides the 2 Sister’s Char Kuey Teow in Lam Heng Cafe is the neighbouring Yam Cake stall.  I have seen various Singaporeans posting around the internet that the motto when travelling to Penang is to eat the 2 Sister's Char Kuey Teow and pack heaps of yam cake.  Some even commended the lightness of the yam cake which made it so delicate that its condiments had to be packed separately so as to not destroy the yam cake.  A bit of an exaggeration IMHO.  But hey, a little drama adds colour to the experience, no?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA But I will be honest here.  It was good.  As described by most as fluffy and delicately prepared, I could feel it.  The yam was cooked perfectly. Consistency was smooth and the generous toppings of dried shrimps, fried shallots and scallions really gave it a boost of flavour and fragrance.  It was yums!  I remember it being RM3! Not bad at all!

 

Dad’s also decided to give the Prawn Noodles here a shot.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADad says the noodles here was simple and traditional.  Its flavours captured the basics of the Prawn Noodles.  Flavoursome broth rich in flavour with the usual suspects; hard boiled eggs, shallots, pork slices and prawns. Dad seemed to enjoy this quite a fair bit.  He left a bit for me and I was contented with it.  It tasted right but I could not tell the difference between the one we had here and the one we had later on.    Would I eat it?  Definitely a yes.

 

This breakfast which most would consider fat, full of carbs and unhealthy felt great.  The morning heat was rather mild so eating all this sort of food was still bearable and very enjoyable.  However, I did not get the hype surrounding my hawker fare today.  Yes it’s flavour was good but is it cream of the crop which most claim it to be?  I find it hard to agree.  However, if I am looking for great food all in one place, I would definitely come to Lam Heng Cafe.  Start with a Hokkien Mee, continued by a yam cake and finish off the meal with the 2 Sister’s Char Kuey Teow was something I could have easily done all by myself.  A Malaysian serving is no more than half a serving in Australia haha.

 

WenY

Friday, July 26, 2013

Penang Trip: A Heritage Experience @ 1881 Chong Tian Lou

As it claims,  1881 Chong Tian Lou  is Malaysia’s only heritage hotel.  Like a time warp, it allows diners and hotel guests alike to experience the past with the refurbishment meticulously conducted using vintage furniture and selected fittings.  Housed in a 13 decades old concrete work, this new establishment was previously a hotel for rich traders and merchants back in the 1800s hence its name 1881 Chong Tian Lou.   For me, this was my first proper meal in Penang.  The last two days that was filled with hawker fare has left my stomach craving something better and perhaps less hawker-ish.  Mind you, my choice of coming here was based on a Penang lass’s recommendations of what Penang folks would have. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My pictures of the interior were really horrible but I think I managed to salvage one I took from a sitting position! Some of the vintage mirrors hung on a wall.

 

Being an upper class Chinese restaurant, the service was prompt and the manager was outmost helpful.  I immediately felt welcomed as I stepped in.  The menu was presented to us and the tea service was always there although in the end we preferred to serve the tea by ourselves. For tonight’s meal I was to follow the recommendations of the chef as well as a few Penang bloggers.

 

We started with the sharks fin soup which is an age long delicacy in my culture and something which my parents enjoy having.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For me, sharks fin typically meant meaningless luxury as this tough strands of protein like other Chinese delicacies such as abalone are typically tasteless.  However, it was the broth and other ingredients that typically makes the dish stunning.  In the case of 1881 Chong Tian Lou, the flavours in the soup were simply amazing.  The long list of ingredients included dried scallops from its unmistakable sweetness as well as a rich bone broth with generous amount of crab meat and roe.  Among ourselves, we agreed that this is probably one of the best sharks fin soup we have ever eaten with generous clumps of fin present.  Its nearest competitor would be the one at Overseas Restaurant @ Imbi, KL which cost RM20 per bowl.  Here we paid RM80 for a medium serve which scooped up 8 bowls similar to the one in the picture. Smashing value IMHO.

 

Our next dish was the chef’s specialty bean curd dish @ RM15 (small serve).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs good as it looks, it actually tasted great.  The bean curd itself was no stunner but by all means meet the standard of being sufficiently smooth and soft on the side.  Its sauce though was yummy-liciously Malaysian.  Salty with a slight hint of sweetness and chilli, it was meaty with generous amounts of mince and diced prawns.  Topped with scallions, it was fragrant and down right tasty.  Something that goes perfectly with rice! Definitely a thumbs up dish!

 

The next dish to hit the table was the Sambal Fried Four Heavenly King @ ~ RM15 (small serve).   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhere appetizing vegetables are concerned, little can fault with a sambal stir-fry.  The sambal for this dish at 1881 Chong Tian Lou is fragrant with a Nyonya influence which means it has a mild sour-sweet flavour.  Vegetables were cooked right!  It was soft with a slight crunch!  At this point, I was rather happy be eating here.  All was going well and the price was rather affordable by KL standards.

 

Our next dish were King Prawns in Soya King Sauce for RM22 (small serve)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was another chef’s specialty.  It is a rather basic fry up but sometimes simplicity is key to perfection.  Very little to hide but it has got to be spot on.   Fortunately this was the case.  It was nice, sticky and well caramelised.  This made the prawn shells finger licking good and once it was peeled, a revisit to the plate to mop up the sauce was necessary :)!  While 4 prawns seems rather little, its large size more than made up for it.

 

Our last dish was the braised duck in preserved mustard sauce @ RM30 (half a duck)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABraised dishes with preserved vegetables and melt in your mouth meats is a match made in heaven. In fact, slow-cooked pork belly in preserved mustard has got to be one of my favourite dishes of all time!  When I pricked the duck with my fork I knew I was in for a treat. It easily went right through and this means that the duck was braised sufficiently!  True it enough it was very soft and smooth.  Definitely a benefit of braising under low instead of rapid cooking.  But the disappointing bit of this dish was the preserved mustard sauce.  It did not have the flavour I was looking for.  It was not salty or sweet enough to complement the duck.  In fact, the vegetable was not as soft and as fragrant as I expected it to be.  As a result I was forced to use some soy sauce to salvage what would have been a great dish if it was seasoned well enough. 

 

After a progressive meal of well-prepared dishes, I was gutted that the experience did not flow through to the end.  The bill came to a total of RM190-ish with a bulk of the bill coming from the soup as well as Malaysia’s terribly dated 10% and 5% taxes.  For three people, it felt terribly worth it especially when you consider the ambience, service and ultimately the food we had today.  1881 Chong Tian Lou has put some memorable flavours on the table today.  The tofu was delicious and the Sambal Fried Four Heavenly King was spot on. The soy prawns despite its very basic cooking felt complete.  So, it broils down to how bad the duck was.  In practice, seasoning is always crucial but technique is equally important too.  To say that many places have perfected their braised meat with preserved vegetables would be an absolutely lie as I know deep down, that most only achieve mediocre outcomes. Hence, I am forgiving enough to rate this dish decently as an OK. 

 

Tonight’s eat at 1881 Chong Tian Lou was extremely satisfying.  In fact, it even best most of the restaurants in KL without a doubt.  No wonder my Penang friends in Perth are always homesick when it comes to food!  Definitely worth a revisit!

 

38 Jalan Pintal Tali, 10100 George Town, Penang Malaysia

+60 4-263 1881

http://www.1881chongtian.com/

 

WenY

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Penang Trip: Hameed Pata, Fort Cornwallis @ Day 2

While Chinese food predominantly dominate the food scene in Penang, the island is no less famous for its Mamak style food.  One place in particular that hits the spot light among foodies is  Hameed Pata.  Located in a large canteen style shed, this little eatery serves up Mamak favourites such as Mee Sotong, and Mee Rebus which are best complimented by a freshly blended coconut shake from the stall next door called Jalil’s.  The address is located below:

Padang Kota Lama Food Court (next to Fort Cornwallis)

Jalan Padang Kota Lama 10200, Georgetown

Penang

Opens at 11.30am and closes on Sundays

Since we just had our breakfast at Toh Sun Cafe, we decided to take it slow and only ordered one of Hameed Pata’s specialty each.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Mee Sotong for RM4 is your typical fried noodles with a gravy that is rich and thick.  The flavours are great with the sauce being sweet, salty and spicy altogether.  Add that squeeze of lime and its a home run for most.  For me though, I liked the sauces but despite it having great flavour, I did not feel the motivation to finish up or order another.  This is like an Asian Carbonara that tastes good but gets stodgy after awhile.  It becomes uninteresting.  But really, it got off in great style and flavour but never really ended its race.  The squid on the other hand had a sauce which packed greater sweetness and a decent chilli kick but this type of chewy squid is never quite my kind of thing.

 

Mee Jawa @ RM6 was my dad’s pick.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADad who is a big fan of Mee Jawa found his noodles lacking anything kind uniqueness that sets this place apart from others. Its sauce felt like a thinner version of the one used for the mee goreng.  For me, I wanted more of the crispy prawn bits that add texture to this noodles.  To put it together this was simply OK.   Travelling many hours from KL where I live, I expected more.

pixzBut when all else seems impossible, it was the drink made me happy.  The coconut shake as recommended by many others was lovely.  Never thought that ice cream and coconut juice along with soda when all mixed together could taste so awesome!

 

And some photos to end this post.  Taken from the surrounding of Fort Cornwallis :)!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Shelter for the soldiers.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome random cannon structure pointing towards another ally structure.  Seems legitimate to build another building there.  Imagine if the cannon was operable. Just add some Malaysian mischief for a different picture.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOld school ammunition store.  Look as if it was meant to contain explosions!

While I would love to recommend visitors to visit the Fort which is an important landmark, its deplorable condition makes it a hard to recommend!

 

WenY

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Penang Trip: Toh Soon Cafe @ Day 2

While most cafes have at least a decent establishment from which food is served, Toh Soon Cafe does otherwise.   This old time charmer located along a back alley on Campbell street has been here for ages from the looks of it.  But while many might associate old to rusty, Toh Soon Cafe still attracts a large crowd daily showing that the folks still have what it takes to remain competitive.  Its customers range from Penang-nites and their families looking to start their day to teenagers as well as inquisitive foodies like myself.

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No. 148, Lebuh Campbell, George Town

Pulau Pinang 10200, Malaysia

Closed on Sundays it seems

This placed is famed for the usual suspects such as the butter and kaya toast as well as hard boiled eggs.  Other Malaysian delights served here includes packed Nasi Lemak as well as curry puffs.  While the large crowd clearly shows that this place is popular, is the food really as good as it seems?  Well, to find out I ordered my staples.

The first thing we had was the pre-packed Nasi Lemak which should not have been more than RM1.20 each :)!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am not sure whether the Nasi Lemak here were packed by the Toh Soon Cafe itself or brought for sale by another vendor.  But really, I could not be bothered about such details after my first spoonful  The coconut rice is cooked perfectly grain by grain with its fragrant just right.  It is simple but you would be surprise how many people still make blunders cooking rice.  What made me even more chuffed was the anchovies used here.  Coming in at 10am, I expected the typical sad anchovies that have turned soft because it was pre-packed but I was wrong. It was still crispy and went well with the mildly sweet sambal! Totally yums!  Both my mom and dad were pretty impressed.

 

The next one was a simple kaya butter toastOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA While I have again mentioned “simple” kaya, I have not had any good ones back home in Perth as most of the ones sold are either too sweet or have no fragrant =/.  The toast that day was presented like little planks and had a decent spread of butter and kaya between them.  Prepared the old way, this was toasted in a charcoal oven which gives it that good old charcoal flavour albeit very minimal.  For me, this tasted good although I was expecting more kaya as the toast was rather thick.  But would I make my way to Toh Soon Cafe just for the toast?  Probably not.  Yet, there is something terrible nostalgic about having toast prepared in such a manner.   Not like I was born while my mom used a charcoal oven.  No, I had electric and gas but still, there is just something about such places that keeps me keen.

 

Last but not the least is the obligatory soft-boiled eggs.  A significant or at least common breakfast food across the globe.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA dash of soy and pepper followed by a quick stir creates a magical flavour which I have always loved.   I really enjoyed this.  However, it would be an overstatement to say that the eggs at Toh Soon cafe were the best as I found the egg yolks not runny but was rather solid.  But to highlight it as a major problem would be rather petty.  It was just good old eggs in the end.

 

Once we were done, we walked away without paying more than RM20.  The included drinks, toast, and nasi lemak for three people along with eggs for me! I was like WoW! Cheap cheap!!  Even by KL standards, it was really cheap!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fiesty lady in green was the lady running the show for her bosses where money and orders were concerned ;)!  Quick and efficient she was.

 

By the end of the meal, I was not so convinced that this little eatery was worth the hype when judged solely based on the food that we had that day.  Yes, the Nasi Lemak was great but that was about it.  Even then, the Nasi Lemak might have came from elsewhere. The toast was noteworthy and the eggs were passable.  Our drinks came fine though dad lamented the quality of his coffee.  He said that it was nowhere near the standards of a typical kopitiam.  However, add in all the memorable things which humans often overlook such as the history of this place, its setting, simplicity and suddenly, it becomes an emotional eat.  Its charisma is overflowing with dedication no longer seen.  Yes, they have foreign workers serving the goodies, but ultimately it was the old timers that were preparing the food.  Furthermore, coming out of bed to such convenience is always nice.  At the end, I was sold.  Definitely worth a revisit.  So there you go, my little review on this charming little place called Toh Soon Cafe in Penang.  Definitely a noteworthy eat along with the Hawker fare on Kimberley Road.

 

WenY

Monday, July 22, 2013

Penang Trip: Kimberley Road @ Day 1

Ask most foodies which state in Malaysia has the best food, and most will mention Penang.  This Northerly State is a mix of old and new with English settler influences clearly noticeable as heritage roads named after famous figures who landed on the island.  In fact, my dad told me that the older generation Lee’s came from Bishop Street.  Food is gorgeous here, with my trip of 4 days to Penang mainly revolving about overindulging in what the internet claims to be the best of the best of Penang eating.  So how do these “highly recommended”  places that got the internet buzzing, fare?  Reaching late in the evening, I headed out to Kimberley Street located in the earlier parts of Penang to find that while most places were relatively quiet on the street, a small section was full of activity.  The place is the area surrounding Sin Guat Keong Coffee Shop on Kimberley Street.

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Sin Guat Keong Coffee Shop

86 Lebuh Kimberley, Georgetown,

10100 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

Open from : Morning but the stalls reviewed below only opens in the night

 

While the place is filled with hawkers, one hawker that was noticeably more busy than the rest was the man cooking up Fried Kuey Teow.  With his stall  emanating a fragrant which is from the by-product of oil used to fry mantis prawns, my stomach was growling!

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No quick shutter speed will catch this man in calm moments.  His orders are never ending!  We had two orders of Penang Fried Kuey Teow that night, a simple one without mantis prawns (RM3.60) and another one with the lot (RM6.60). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Hype or not?  I reckon not.  This old school fry up has got to be the finest of my trip.  Its “wok-hei” or stir-fry flavour was plenty.  This is something I definitely miss eating when I am in Australia as the fried noodles often come out oily but in terms of fragrance, nowhere near the final product achieved in Malaysia.  At this stall, the chef puts in a small slice of squid which gives the noodle an extra layer of flavour which was pleasant though the squid itself was not nice @@!  What I did not find impressive though, was the additional mantis prawn which close to double the price of the noodles.  The mantis prawns were good flavoursome protein, but for a simple dish of noodles, I preferred it to be less complicated.  The normal prawns were definitely fresh and good enough.

 

Another popular eat in the area was the braised chicken feet and innards in a rich soy with a bowl of noodles.  This was just a few stalls away from the Char Kuey Teow hawker.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I am not sure what this translates to but taken from Vkeong’s Food blog it is called Sky Emperor Chicken Feet Kuey Teow Soup.

 

While innards and chicken feet is strange in Australia, it is a delicacy back home.  With the feet cooked till super soft and tender, I can understand why locals come in droves.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChicken feet combination with soy eggs and innards (RM10).  While I am no big fan of innards, mom and dad reckon that the ones here did not stink which is definitely a positive feedback.  The chicken feet for me were deliciously soft and the sauce was rich though it lacked a stickiness that I am more familiar with.  Eggs were braised in soy but I could not find the saltiness it needed.  Dad reckons this is a typical Penang style of preparing chicken feet where it had a subtle sweetness than a salty sauce.  But fret not, it came with a small saucer of cut chilli and soy.  It went nicely together!  For those who dislike both innards and chicken feet, there is also an option for soy chicken wings and thigh which looked absolutely delicious too!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Kuey Teow soup that came with it was nice and dad preferred this over the chicken feet.  Crispy garlic oil with finely diced scallions gave this soup a delightful fragrant.  But I understand the pairing of braised chicken feet and the Kuey Teow soup.  They were meant to compliment each other though the chicken feet did not taste all that great.

 

As we were about to go back to the hotel, a motorcycle pulled up with the sign “famous” Yong Tau Fu.  Feeling overly enthusiastic and confident about my stomach space, I decided to order a plate to share.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA While I did not find it special, the Yong Tau Fu were of decent quality and his garnish of fried garlic was generous.  I guess back in KL we have high quality Yong Tau Fu in Ampang! 

 

We had our dinner rather early and finished while the sun was still up.  Kimberley Street was still well lit and it was a good thing.  The old charm of this bountiful street was still clear as ever.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Keep a look out for Part 2 of my Penang trip! ;)

 

WenY