Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ipoh Eating Feast (怡保飲食一日游)

It must have been at least 3 years since I last been to Ipoh. I have been researching extensively of where to eat before our trip. Eating at Kong Heng (光興茶室) has been a family ritual every time I go to Ipoh since I was young. So this trip I decided to be more adventurous by trying out other restaurants that I have not patronized. However, I am always nostalgic about Kong Heng, so the first stop has to be Kong Heng. It may not be a good idea to put Kong Heng as the first stop as it has inevitably set the standard very high for others. 

This restaurant has been around for ages and every stall is pretty good at what they sell. We ordered "Sar Hor Fan" (怡保沙河粉), satay (沙爹), popiah (薄餅), cuttlefish and kang kung (尤魚雍菜).  Not to mention they still have other popular stalls that sells beef tripe/ball noodles (牛腩/牛丸粉),"zhu cheong fun"(豬腸粉) and etc. We simply do not have the capacity to order more since there were already a table full of food. The "Sar Hor Fan" and popiah always live up to its name. There is no way you can quite get the same taste anywhere else other than Kong Heng. These 2 dishes are almost the icon of Ipoh. Surprisingly, the white coffee is also exceptionally good. The satay is pretty good too even though we are a bit disappointed with the cuttlefish and kang kung. We then headed to Nam Heong for its white coffee. A big disappointment since we all agreed that that place is way overrated.

We were extremely stuffed so decided to catch a movie to let the food settled before we go for 2nd round. After the movie, it was about 4 something and we drove to the very much boasted "funny mountain" soya bean. Unfortunately, it was close. So we have to detoured to "Ann Kee" Beansprout Chicken (安記芽菜雞). Other than the signature stoky, crunchy and sweet "Ipoh" beansprout, other dishes are just so so. Since we were all so full after Ann Kee, we decided to head back after packing the salted chicken from Aun Kheng Lim (not that good, just dead salty). It was rather a fun and satisfying trip.

It has been proven that Kong Heng is still the undisputed king of all kedai kopi(茶室) in Ipoh. When you have the best, why bother the rest? I will keep on heading straight to Kong Heng every time I go to Ipoh. You complete me! 

Kong Heng Cafe (光興茶室)

The best money can buy Ipoh Sar Hor Fun (怡保沙河粉). The soup is rationed at small portion coz it is SOOOO good!
Apparently the best tasting popiah (薄餅) according to my eating partner. It is addictive. You have been warned!
The best white coffee (白咖啡) I have tasted to date at Kong Heng. Wayyy better than Nam Heong (南香) surprisingly!
Ipoh Style pork satay (豬肉沙爹).
Intestine and liver satay (豬腸,豬肝沙爹)
Nothing to shout about chicken.
Stoky, sweet and crunchy beansprouts (怡保馳名芽菜).
Meatball and fishball.
Aun Kheng Lim salted chicken (宴瓊林鹽焗雞)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shiki Hot Pot - Macau ( 四季火鍋 - 澳門)

This Shiki hotpot is not to be mistaken as the hotpot restaurant in Four Seasons hotel. Rather, it is my favorite hot pot restaurant located inside of old Hotel Lisboa. Shiki is owned by “Bright Future Group” who runs a couple of F&B establishments that serve decent food including Japanese, Shanghai, Italian and Portugese cuisines.

The locality of Shiki hotpot is rather interesting. You will get to see tons of young Chinese escorts with skimpy clothes if you are coming in from main hotel lobby entrance. Hotel Lisboa is perhaps the only hotel in Macau that condoned escorts to roam around within an allowed perimeter. Or rather it has become a landmark in Macau. For all male tourists, forget the ruin of St. Paul, tell your girl friend or wife that you need to examine the artifacts of Stanley Ho in Hotel Lisboa and take a stroll there. You will not be disappointed! Pardon me for not being able to post any picture of the escorts. If I do, I won’t be writing this blog alive!

Shiki Hotpot pricing is more towards the high end side. Dinner for 4 can easily cost you HKD1,200 (RM500) if you only order the basic stuff. Make sure you ask for the price of the seafood if you are in the mood for more exotic live seafood. Cheaper variant of live seafood such as geoduck may cost you from HKD800-1000 (RM320-RM400) to exotic live seafood such as Japanese King Crab – HKD7,000 (RM2,800) for a crab! Macau is full of filthy rich gamblers, so it makes perfect economical sense to cater for this top-of-the-chain cash incinerators.   

However; if you watch your budget and do not order exorbitantly priced live seafood, I can assure you a wonderful hot pot experience dining at Shiki without burning a big hole on your wallet. Shiki only chooses the best and freshest ingredients to serve you. They have never failed to impress me with the freshness of their hot pot dishes every time I patronize the restaurant. You will feel as though the vegetables, corns and mushrooms are just harvested seconds before it is served to you. Besides, it has perhaps more than 10 kinds of base soup for you to choose from. You can even opt for 2 base soup separated in one pot to cater for different preferences.

It is definitely one of the non Michelin star rated restaurants in Macau worth recommending.

G/F., Hotel Lisboa, Old Wing, Macau.    
(853) 2834 5333
Open daily from 5.30pm to 3.00am

Assorted Sauce (醬料)

Thinly sliced Geoduck (象拔蚌)
Chicken Intestine (雞腸)

US beef slice (美國肥牛)
Fish slices (魚片)
Live Prawns (活蝦)
US beef cubes (美國肥牛粒)
Super sweet corn (超甜玉米)
Up - shrimp paste, down - squid paste (上-蝦滑,下-墨魚滑)

Pork liver (粉肝)

Fish toufu (魚腐)
Oysters (生蠔)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kee Hiang Bak Kut Teh (奇香肉骨茶)

Being the place where Bak Kut Teh (BKT) was originated more than a century ago, Klang has tons of BKT stores and competition is extremely fierce since Klang people eat, sleep, drink and breathe BKT. If you tell any Klang people that somewhere else's BKT is superior, many will disagree and risk their lives to defend the reputation of Klang BKT. There have been claims that BKT originated from Singapore (I have seen it in one of HK food channels). Don't be misled by the false claim. It is as ridiculous as telling you that they send the first man to moon.

I can easily point out 5-6 really good BKT place in Klang but if I am only allowed to just pick one, I will have to vote for Kee Hiang BKT (奇香肉骨茶) at Eng Ann Garden (永安花園) Klang. They have another branch at Bukit Tinggi Klang but it doesn't taste that good even though I think it is already miles ahead of those wannabes in PJ and KL. Kee Hiang has 3 variants of BKT:- dry BKT, claypot and bowl. Dry BKT is not really traditional BKT as they use a lot of dark soya sauce, dried chilies to stir fry the meat. There are definitely better place for that variant of BKT. I would recommend the traditional bowl type of BKT as claypot type will include veggie, mushroom and other ingredients that destroy the authenticity of BKT.

You can have the option to order various part of pork such as small bone (小骨), big bone (大骨), cartilage bone (軟骨), pork ribs (排骨), and knee (腳彎). When you are savoring the soup (I meant gravy), make sure you taste it like how you taste your wine. Smell it, swirl it around your tongue before you gulp it down. The soup is so precious that you are only given a limited ration. Asking for additional soup very much depending on your luck as sometimes they will give you the waterdowned version which doesn't taste that good. 

Meng Kee Char Siew (明記叉燒)

It has been quite some time since I last tasted some decent char siew since I got back from Macau. Char siew in Hong Kong and Macau is slightly different from the Malaysian version. HK char siew puts more emphasis on the flavor of the meat (through marination) while Malaysia's version focusing more on controlling the temperature to grill the heavily sweetened char siew to slightly burnt stage. That will give the char siew the caramelized crispy texture on the outer coat while maintaining the moisture within the meat. The fats will just melt in your mouth. I obviously desire the Malaysian version. 

Meng Kee probably serves one of the best money can buy char siew in Klang Valley or perhaps in the whole of Malaysia. The other better version I have tried (IMHO) is perhaps the "Yuk Woo Hin" in Petaling Street (玉壺軒). I think they have stopped serving char siew ever since the char siew chef left. 

We made a trip down to Meng Kee at Shah Alam at around 11 something and the shop was packed with patrons since it was a public holiday. We have come all the way just for the char siew but was told that you can't just order the char siew alone. It has to come as a package with either the chicken or roasted sausage. We ordered all three with a plate of beansprouts. Of course the chicken, roasted sausage and beansprouts merely serve as the fillers. It was a good meal overall but I was quite put off with the idea of having to order "filler" to go with the char siew.

Filler chicken. It is not bad but lack the chicken flavor.
It is true that most nice food are unhealthy. This probably fills up your cholesterol quota for the rest of the week but it is well worth it!
It may not look very appetising but it tastes pretty good.
Nothing to shout about beansprouts.

Seremban Grilled Crab

After the first 2 writings about foreign food, how can I not write something about the local scene with so much variety influenced by multiracial nature of Malaysia? Few weeks ago a trip was "inspired" to go down South as I craved for probably the best cendol in the world in Bukit Rumbai and also the mouth watering "popiah" near Madam King. We set off rather early in Saturday morning and arrived in Melaka before noon but wasted a fair bit of time visiting a friend's new home. He subsequently brought us to a place that sells "halal" beef tripe noodle. I was a bit skeptical about the noodle and I was proven correct. While it didn't taste bad, it has nothing to shout about. It was already 1 something when we get out of the weekend jam. Having said that, we have missed the boat for the cendol as it closes at 2pm and it was quite a distance from Melaka town. So we gotta settle for 2nd best. We went to jonker 88 for the "supposedly" best cendol in Melaka. It was a big let down as we thought that place is way overrated. Gula Melaka was simply way too bitter. We didn't get to taste my favorite "popiah" either as the queue was just way too long. We decided to get some other "popiah" which was not that nice but it was within our anticipation.

Rather disappointed with the trip, we decided to head home at around 5pm. On the way back, I kind of convinced myself that I gotta have a decent meal before going back to Klang. We have eaten a few small meals so we were rather stuffed then but still decided to make a pit stop at Seremban for the grilled crab. I gotta say that this place never fail to impress me. We just ordered a green veggie, a "Kum Hiong" lala and the "must eat" grilled crab. The crabs were grilled to perfection with smoky flavor. The special sourish, creamy,  sweet  and spicy sauce complement the crab really well. It is not difficult to finish the whole bowl of sauce. Basically we were "drinking" the sauce. Making the decision to pullover at Seremban put a smile on our face and making the drive home pleasurable! We shall make a trip back to Melaka in near future for the cendol and popiah that we have missed. "I Shall Be Back!"    

Medium size crab grilled with nice smoky flavor.
Nicely cracked so that you won't have to lose any tooth while comsuming it!
The "soul" of the grilled crab. It taste so good that you would drink it!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Taiwan Discovery

I am always fascinated of what Taiwan has to offer when it comes to food such as the infamous snacks (小吃). However, little that I know that it offers splendid premium Japanese food on top of the great variety of snacks and Chinese restaurants. Guess it is closely related to the fact that Taiwanese are pretty pro Japanese. I was introduced to this wonderful creative Japanese cuisine by my best friend from Hong Kong - Sarah. Sarah has exquisite taste in F&B, traveling, shopping and fashion. She is someone you would love to travel with since she knows all the nice places to dine in and shop all around the world. 

The restaurant has got no menu. (I will update the name and address once I get hold of it from Sarah) Basically you just make reservation about a week in advance, give them a budget and tell them if there is anything that you don't eat. Then, just find the restaurant, sit back, relax and be fascinated dish after dish. Once you try this restaurant, you will tend to have very high standard with Japanese food. Of course I believe you can still manage to get premium Japanese food if you are willing to pay a fortune. But with HKD750 with about 17 top notch dishes, it is really very difficult to match.  

Sea whelk
Unknown fish.
Sea Urchin with cucumber noodle.
Unknown fish simmered in light soya sauce. The unknown flower (stem not to be eaten) adds interesting fragrant flavor to the fish.
Lightly grilled scallop covered in seaweed.
Chef preparing "real" wasabi.
Sweet shrimp with snapper.
Tofu in soya sauce with crunchy big prawn.
Rare wild salmon that spawns in sea instead of fresh water. Tasted extraordinary sweet with firm texture.
Fish liver cooked in zesty tangerine soya sauce. A pleasant surprise.
Pan fried unknown fish.
Nicely done light grilled fish.

Baby fish simmered in special sauce.
Oyster in special sauce with lemon flavor. This is delicious!
Another lightly grilled fish that taste fantastically rich in fish oil and flavor.
This gotta be my personal favourite with abundance of salmon roe, sea urchin, raw fish, fish liver, squid. These exquisite ingredients leave a wonderful after taste that lingers on.
Some deep fried 山藥 root with sea weed.
山藥dipped in soya sauce.
More sea urchin.
Assorted tempura.
Grilled snapper.
Beef roll that tasted pretty good but then we already had more than 15 dishes before. So it didn't leave a very strong impression with me.
Mussels cooked in sake.
Finish off with fruits with egg custard. I passed on this as even my spare tank has no room for this.