Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sungai Besi Wan Tan Mee

If you are feeling peckish late at night or are working late and missed the regular dinner time, never fear!! Just trundle down Sungai Besi and you'll find what is touted to be one of the best wantan mee in town!!

The stall is located next to a car mechanic (they use the premises after the shop closes) and is after the BP station, after the former Malaysian Tobacco building (now Niichi Fashion City). There is limited parking if you turn in the side lane where the stall is, and sometimes people park along the side of the road. Thats pretty dangerous if you ask me coz cars whizz by along that road to the North-South highway, with great abandon.

As this stall only comes out after the car shop closes, don't go there till about 8pm or you'd have to help them set up stall.

They specialise in..... you guessed it, Wantan Mee! They have dry/soup varieties of mee in small, medium and large. You can choose your own topping from the varieties offered, which amongst others are, char siew (bbq meat), siew yoke (roast meat), char yoke (meat braised with wood fungus), BBQ spare ribs, chicken feet and mushrooms, curry chicken, shredded chicken, duck braised with ginger .... (and I forget the rest)

Wantan Mee with duck braised with ginger
The noodles are nice and springy. There's 1 man specifically assigned to doing nothing but cooking the noodles! Its the only wantan mee I eat because there is no floury/lye smell in the noodle. However, I found it a bit of a rip-off as all we got was about 4 pieces of duck! This was the Medium sized one which is approximately RM5 (I forget the exact figure as it was a while ago)

Wantan Mee with Char Yoke

I had the small noodle with char yoke - Approx RM4.30 (?) but again, they are pretty stingy with their toppings, so the noodle ends up being expensive. It was sufficiently tasty but I don't think they drained the water from the noodle enough, so it was a tad watered down.

The char siew looked nice hanging from the glass enclosure as it was sufficiently burnt around the edges with a nice sheen. But when I saw the man slicing them, I opted NOT to have it. He was slicing them paper thin, and spreading them on top of the noodles like confetti!! You'd hardly be able to savour them before its all gone.

We also had sui kow (dumplings) which I recalled from previous occassions as being plump and crunchy and nice. However, what came was a slimmed down version of what I remembered. There was a lot of excess skin, the inside was not crunchy and it had decreased in size to something resembling a large wantan! At RM0.90 a piece, you'd be better off not eating it.

Pros: Fast, tasty food available late when you don't know where else to go for hawker food.

Cons: Expensive, small portions of toppings and don't have the sui kow

Guest-blogged by: tuktoyaktuk

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Convenience Food

There are times when even a foodie has to resort to convenience food, crappy as they may be. I was a bit busy today so lunch was a quick grab at the food section of the neighbourhood 7-11 on my way out. I chose the most appetising-looking thing there which was this:

Fried beehoon! It was a pretty decent portion - a plastic tupperwareful for RM1.80. It was spicy Malay-style fried vermicelli, with some onion sambal and some strips of fried omelette. It even came with its own plastic take-away fork!

I think it was provided by one of those home-based industries which have a steady supply to all 7-11 branches. The label even had a nutritional analysis which was quite surprising as most of our local food like nasi lemak doesn't have a nutrition analysis. The calories and fat in nasi lemak will probably scare a lot of people off if they knew what was in there!

It tasted quite decent, though a little on the oily side. They were pretty generous with the sambal and fish cake slices which I liked! The sambal wasn't too spicy and was a little sweet. However, it perhaps wasn't too good an idea to stick the fork on top of the noodles as it resulted in a pretty oily fork.

And, that was lunch! Washed down with a cup of my favourite green tea.

There you go...proof that Funky Cookies doesn't always make you drool and feel hungry!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Sharksfin Street

One reasons why I love Bangkok is the availability of interesting street food all around you at every hour of the day! Every hour of the day sees their local buying and eating food! It's a wonder how they remain so slim! Chinatown is especially famous for their sharksin soup. Every restaurant proudly display in their windows trays and trays of fresh sharksfin (with their prices) and some even include the huge dried fin. However, for those who can't afford the sometimes expensive sharksfin from the restaurants, don't fret...because the streets of Chinatown are full of sharksfin soup stalls at night!

Around 8pm, stalls like these will start dotting the streets of Chinatown. And because it's Chinatown, their signs have Chinese characters as well which makes ordering a lot easier for us who don't read Thai! This particular stall does sharksfin in 2 different sizes - THB300 and THB500 (which converts to slightly under RM30 and RM50).

You can order from them according to the prices they quote or you can choose your own sharksfin and they'll quote you the price. The second shelf of the stall is the fresh sharksfin. They lay it out on these flat rattan pieces (if you peer hard enough, you might see the fins which are the lighter brown frilly things on the rattan "plates").

And here it is! This was the THB500 bowl. It came served piping hot in a claypot bowl with a side of raw beansprouts and a very healthy dose of greens - parsley and spring onions. On the table is the omnipresent picked chillies, fish sauce, etc the Thais so love!

I especially fished out a piece of sharksfin to show you what it looks like. They're quite generous with their fins and it is considerably cheaper than eating it in KL. Often, a bowl costing RM80-RM100 gets you a bowl of goopy stuff with only a few fins while these are thick chunky pieces in a not-too-thick, fragrant broth without that same goopiness of the crabmeat-sharksfin combo.

I've tried both - those at the stalls and those in the restaurant and we've reached the conclusion that they're both pretty similar. The main difference, of course, lies in the prices (restaurant ones can sometimes be up to THB3,000 to THB6,000) and the size of the fins (restaurant ones are the real pao chi - thick pieces of fin).

Apologies to the activists out there...but this is one real lip-smacking treat!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Madam Kwan's

We had lunch today at Madam Kwan's, MidValley. I hadn't been there in a while. They were doing a roaring business in the jam-packed restaurant. However, to my surprise, service was pretty fast as our dishes came very quickly after our order.

Madam Kwan's serves mainly local hawker-style food but with style (and of course, steeper prices too). They use nice porcelain plates with nice spoons and the best part, provide nice big saucers of chilli padi! We ordered cold water and every water jug of theirs has a little strawberry floating inside to flavour the water! However, there wasn't much flavour at all!

I didn't bring my camera so I had to "borrow" this pix from Boo. My photo taking skills are not as great as hers! Boo...hope you don't mind!

Colleague #1 had the char kuey teow (approximately RM12). This took quite some time in coming as I believe they actually fry each plate upon your order. I didn't get to ask her how it was but it looked pretty good and was a decent-sized portion. I did notice quite a lot of squid and prawns amidst the noodles and she was enjoying it so I suppose it was really good!

Colleague #2 couldn't decide and our unanimous recommendation was their Nasi Bojari (RM19)! I had this once and fell in love with it! They serve a bowl of multi-coloured rice with a nice big fried chicken leg, assam prawns and your choice of beef rendang/chicken curry. It comes nicely presented on a nice round fragrant banana leaf which makes that eating experience that little bit more authentic! My colleague really loved it and polished up every bit!

I had the Ipoh Hor Fun (approximately RM12). Oh dear, bad choice. The soup was absolutely tasteless and the beansprouts raw-tasting. The hor fun was smooth and slippery though as it should be. There was quite a bit of shredded chicken (tasteless!), 2 big prawns and a whole handful of chives (I hate Chinese chives!). So, unlike my colleagues who were tucking into their lunch with great enthusiasm, I didn't enjoy mine too much.

There are lots more other dishes on the menu and I've heard lots about their Curry Fish Head! Good tasty food but a little on the steep side. Enjoy nevertheless...and I really don't recommend the Ipoh Hor Fun!

Boo did a post on it too!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lunch in Bangkok

When in Bangkok, Dad loves staying in Chinatown (Yaowaraj Road) cos of the fabulous food in that area. It's mainly authentic Teochew style food and long-forgotten cakes and delicacies which are no longer sold here can be found in the little stalls there.

One of our favourite haunts is a simple little stall at the front of an alley which opens up to a market specializing in fish balls and fried fish cake. I love the way the Thai hawkers always have that ubiquitous little glasses of chilli and fish sauce at every table. For a chilli-lover, it's wonderful having as much chilli as you can eat right at your disposal without having to constantly call for more.

Clockwise from bottom left: Crushed chilli flakes (oh-so spicy!), Fish sauce, salt and my favourite pickled chillis (sour and spicy - what a lovely combination!)

We ordered a combination of their egg noodle and kuey tiaw. Their kuey tiaw is deliciously smooth and served dry. However, their dry version doesn't involve any dark or soy sauce. It's served with just a dash of fish sauce and sesame oil. The cook then throws on a handful of freshly blanched beansprouts, spring onions and finally - what I loves best...fishballs and slices of their homemade fishcake.

Their homemade fishballs are very soft and not springy like some commercial ones. Hopefully, that means less boric acid used! The fishcake is actually fish meat seasoned with fried onions and prepared in long rolls which are fried before it's sliced into pieces for serving. It's really delicious, I haven't been able to find an equivalent here yet.

Because the fishballs are so good, we always end up ordering an extra bowl of fishbowls! Sigh, I want to go back to Bangkok again! It's cheaper than our noodles here too. A bowl of noodles costs less than RM3 which makes it good for second helpings! :)

Note: I've seen the Thais eating these type of noodles in a fascinating pink soup as well! Thanks to RealThai for enlightening me! I have to give it a try next time now that I know what it's called!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Steamed food

There are times when I'm so glad my Chinese race perfected the art of steaming food. I love steamed food. Perhaps it's the steamy fragrance that tantalises the tastebuds when you lift the cover, the piping hot "comfort-food" texture, the way the steam locks in the juices of the meat making it incredibly tender, or just the magic of putting some meat and ginger on a plate and watching it turn into a beautifully fragrant, tender dish surrounded by a light, tasty stock.

We had some belly pork the other day and Dad steamed it with little pieces of salt fish, ginger slices and some chilli paid for added zing. It was lovely! There was a little too much salt fish, though. We tend to overestimate such things! The broth was really nice, lightly flavoured by the meat with a tad of saltiness and zing.

We had something steamed again the other day, but with chicken instead. Sis bought some chicken thighs and had marinated them in the usual oyster sauce marinade, intending to fry them with mushrooms and ginger. But I managed to persuade her to steam them instead. You can't really see much under all that ginger and mushroom but the chicken was wonderfully tender. It was a dish created by accident and one recipe I'm certainly going to keep!

How I miss my home-cooked dinners!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Restoran QQ

Although we're in hot, humid Malaysia, there are those cool and rainy days when I crave for something hot and soupy. Often, the good ol' steamboat comes to mind. We normally go to a steamboat restaurant in Taman Desa when the steamboat cravings strike but for a change the other night, we headed down to Pudu.

Somewhere in the deep, dark maze of Pudu is a bright and cheery restaurant called Restoran QQ. They specialise in something called the "Hong Kong Poon Chye Steamboat" for RM68.

It looked rather interesting but was way too much for 3 people to share so we settled for their ordinary steamboat with a mixture of soup and porridge for the steamboat.

QQ has their own home-made chilli in green and red which didn't show up too well here. I didn't really like their chilli. It was spicy, a bit sourish and tasted rather odd, as if some major ingredient was missing from it.

Our steamboat! Half was a herbal soup base with some Chinese herbs (I think it was yok chok and kei chi) which was quite refreshing while the other half was a smooth gruel-type porridge. I was too hungry and dug into the porridge first before the ingredients came and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was already flavoured, hopefully not with ajinomoto!

A huge platter of raw seafood on a bed of chinese cabbage arrived soon, much to our delight. From bottom clock-wise is some Japanese tofu, crunchy jelly fish and fish paste noodles.

On the other side is quite a few pieces of chicken, 2 prawns, a white pomfret (which was very cleverly sliced to look like 2 fish!) and your requisite various balls and dumplings. The vege ball (the orangey thing) is one of my favourite and the beef ball next to it was pretty good.

And, on the last plate, some beancurd skin, 2 eggs and a ball of yee meen.

Dump all the raw ingredients into the boiling soup and porridge, wait for it to come to a boil and enjoy! This was my first time eating porridge-style steamboat and it was rather interesting but a lot more filling than the soup type. The raw seafood and fish/meat/vege balls flavour the soup and porridge as they boil, leaving a lovely stock. Just towards the end, sis cracked the egg into the porridge which made it a really yummy flavoured end to the meal. Nothing beats swirly egg in hot porridge for comfort food on a cold day!

The Star ran a review on it too!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Roast Duck - Before and After

Dad came recently and brought with him a lovely treat all the way from Petaling Street...the famous "Sei Ngan Chai" roast duck! Foodcrazee had blogged not too long ago about the roast duck at Crystal Jade and that suddenly had me craving for roast duck. It must be his pictures and description 'cos I'm not much of a duck fan!

"Sei Ngan Chai" (loosely translated as 4 eyes man due to his specs) is a small stall on Petaling Street owned by a small, bad-tempered old man. He's hugely popular and lots of other imitation stalls have come up around him. I remember queueing for hours on Chinese New Year eve just to get a duck to bring home for CNY! His roast duck is described as Salted Roast Duck which is probably what that makes it different from others. He's a no-nonsense man so don't expect daintily chopped duck pieces! Instead be prepared for huge, hulking pieces! :)

Look at those huge pieces! And the size of that drumstick! Must have been a HUGE duck!

Another picture. If you peer closely you'll probably see the specks of seasoning on the top piece. It's the secret ingredient that makes his duck so delicious!

Needless to say, we couldn't finish so much duck in one meal. So sis turned the leftovers into something equally good. Duck before *points above* and duck after *points below*

She stir-fried the remaining duck with lots of leek and soy sauce. Yummy! It's one of our favourite recipies for any leftover duck or steamed chicken. Do give it a try and whenever you're in Petaling Street, do look out for that little wizened old man with the push cart. The fragrance from the roast duck when you open the packet is really something quite heavenly! :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Breakfast in the air

Before my very first trip on an airline, I was repeatedly warned of how disgusting airplane food was. However, on that inaugural flight, the little hot tray of food that appeared on my fold-up table was something that smelled and tasted absolutely delicious!

Now, many flights and airlines later, I begin to understand why some people complain about the food! And the food quality on some good airlines have dropped drastically. However, a recent long and tiring flight reminded me again how welcoming that little tray can be.

We were served poached eggs for breakfast. What a surprise! I had never had poached eggs on a flight before! It came with a nice sauce (I think it was supposed to be hollandaise), spinach, tomatoes and a really tasty little hash brown.

Of course, the downside was that we were served exactly the same thing on our return flight out and it didn't seem that nice anymore! I now sometimes order special meals on flights. It's a bit of a mystery as to what you're going to get but the extra dish of fruit instead of cake is always a welcome!

If you're interested on checking out more airline meals from all over the world, hop over to AirlineMeals!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Food and Fashion

For all you foodies heading out to Kuching soon, run over and check out my sis Tuktoyaktuk! She has lots of really good Kuching foodie shots and recommendations (including the elusive Irrawady dolphins!) that left me drooling!

And for all you fashionable foodies, lots of make-up tips too! Psst...she's my personal make-up artist for dinners! :)

Do drop in and say hi or comment! Enjoy!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Coliseum Cafe & Hotel

Welcome to the grand ol' dame of Kuala Lumpur! Standing tall on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, she has been there since the early 1920s, witnessing the many changes of the city around her - from its independence as a young KL to the eccletic city it is today. A grand 80+ years to her name and she's still as famous as she was then!

Stepping inside feels like you're stepping back in time. The chairs and tables are probably as old as the cafe and on the walls, now redundant coathangers add a certain charm. It looked like the walls have been given a recent coat of paint but the starched and pressed tablecloths and napkins are still there.

However, enough of charm, let's move on to the food! We were served by this crusty old waiter who was almost as old as the cafe. He recommended the sizzling rib-eye for J while I opted for the Chinese-style Chicken Chop with toast and butter as a side order. That seemed a popular choice with most tables as waiters scurried to and fro carrying stacks of thick-cut Hainanese bread.

Service is very fast despite the restaurant being quite full and my Chicken Chop was plonked down in front of me in record time!

Chicken Chop Chinese Style

It came with french fries and a thick Hainanese Western-style tomatoey sauce with peas. The big chop was a bit soggy though and the sauce a little cloying for my liking. I find the one done by Yut Kee much better.

Sizzling Ribeye

The sizzling ribeye came in a rather Zen-like presentation! That red blob is an uncooked tomato. It was smothered with a spicy black pepper sauce which was pretty good. The medium-done steak was tender, cooked to the right doneness. I stole a piece and it was very nice and juicy.

It came with a side of fried potatoes and vegetables cooked in a cream sauce.

We rounded off the meal with the thick slabs of toast and butter. The toast was really good when dipped into the black pepper sauce.

Coliseum has gotten a little steep over the years. A meal for two like the above would set you back at least RM50-RM60. The food's still pretty good, although there are probably a lot more competitors out there now. Portions are big and I guess if you would like to capture some old-world charm of those colonial days when it was still the famous watering-hole of KL, it's still worth a visit.

Eatinout did a review as well, go check it out!

Interesting fact: We found out that it is a hotel as well with cheap double air-conditioned rooms for only RM45 in the heart of KL!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Seremban Beef Noodle

On a trip some time back to Muar, we took a small "Jalan-jalan Cari Makan" detour. Our destination? The Seremban wet market for the famous Seremban Beef Noodle!

The market was, a typical wet market with its myriad of smells and wet puddles everywhere. I didn't mind...I love wet markets! But if you're a bit grossed out, just hold your breath and quickly make your way up the stairs by the side to the first floor where all the good eats are! We weren't too sure which was the famous one but a quick call to Sis soon remedied that!

This is it! No. 74B Beef Noodle stall! It's right next to the sugar-cane stall.

It looks small and nondescript but there was a certain "beefiness" in the air that made our tummies growl as we quickly placed our orders. Do try their home-made loh shi fun. It's somewhat different from the loh shi fun we find in KL. Like everything else outside dainty KL, it's a lot bigger and robust compared to the thin slivers we have here.

Their service is super-fast. Place your order, order your sugar-cane juice and voila, it's set down on your table, fragrant and piping hot!

This was a beehoon version

And this the loh shi fun version

Two big bowls of noodles smothered in a rich, thick beefy sauce filled with slices of beef and preserved vege (which I love!)! What makes it unique are the roasted peanuts (1st picture) and generous helping of sesame seeds they sprinkle liberally into the noodles. The crunchy texture with the smooth noodles are a very interesting yet compatible arrangement!

The sauce is a little sweetish, possibly due to their sauces. But it coats the fat noodles well and proves for a delicious combination with every mouthful! They provide a small bowl of beefy broth with a few beef balls which washes down the meal well.

I wanted to try the famous Hakka Mee too but the stall was closed. However, Minishorts did a brilliant post here with mouth-watering pictures!

Do give it a try the next time you're in Seremban!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

West Africa

This started off as a blog on local Malaysian food (and my dodgy cooking!) but in recent times, I travelled a bit and I found the blog starting to take a life of its own as food from my various travels started to make its debut.

One of my trips took me to one of the countries in West Africa. As West Africa's mainly French-speaking, the food we ate was mostly Western in the hotels and didn't seem too different from the Western food here. It being a landlocked country, they only got their fish from the Niger River which ran just in front of our hotel.

Every morning, the stillness of the morning would be broken by the boats of the fisherman on the Niger. It was a primitive style of fishing. All they had were nets and their long poles to guide and push their boats. They caught mainly Nile Perch or capitaine (in French) which was the fish that was always featured on our menu.

Capitaine was usually served grilled or stewed. It's a thick, white, firm-fleshed fish. It seemed a bit on the oily side but soaked up the flavours well. Sometimes, I thought I detected a hint of muddiness that's prevalent in our river fish but it wasn't overwhelming.

This was one of the local dishes I tried. It was chunks of lightly browned capitaine stewed in a chunky tomato stew with a sprinkling of herbs. It arrived at the table piping hot and I burnt my mouth in my eagerness to try it. It was delicious! The tomatoes made the stew slightly sour but it was thick, chunky and full of large pieces of fish to savour. I do miss it...maybe I should try my hand at cooking it!

Monday, May 08, 2006

I'm back

Hello all! I'm back with a new layout (Thanks to Eternity!) and a renewed enthusiasm! Sorry for disappearing on the Blog scene. Work got really hectic and I kind of lost the zeal for food! I've been lurking on many food blogs still though and seeing the wonderful pictures out there did make me miss my dear ol' Funky Cookies.

So here I am, back after a long hiatus. Watch this space :)