Michelin Guide Singapore 2019: 3 restaurants in danger of losing their star

Michelin Guide Singapore will release their 2019 list of Michelin star restaurants on 17th September. It’ll be an exciting day for Michelin star hunters like myself. The Bib Gourmand list is usually released a few weeks prior, so that should be dropping any time soon. I’ve collected a total of 14 Michelin stars from our neighbor to the south and reviewed every single one of them:

Burnt Ends 🌟

Waku Ghin 🌟🌟

PUTIEN Kitchener Road 🌟

Shinji by Kanesaka (Carlton Hotel) 🌟

Labyrinth 🌟

Summer Palace 🌟

The Song of India 🌟

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice (Chinatown) 🌟

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle 🌟

Shisen Hanten 🌟🌟

Crystal Jade Golden Palace 🌟

Nouri 🌟

This is an opportunity for me to come out with my own predictions on who will drop out of the list. I was very unimpressed with 2 Michelin star Shisen Hanten but realistically, they’re in no danger of being relegated. I don’t even think they’ll lose a star.

My top 3 favorite Michelin starred restaurants are Nouri, Summer Palace and Burnt Ends. I also enjoyed the impeccable food and ultra-polished service at Waku Ghin. Nouri has inventive and delicious food. I brought my dad and he thoroughly enjoyed the food there. The service is faultless too. Summer Palace is solid, unpretentious comfort food – a delightful take on Chinese cuisine you’ll come back for over and over again. Shinji by Kanesaka has an exceedingly good value-for-money lunch that I cannot recommend enough. They’re an outpost of Chef Shinji Kanesaka’s Tokyo sushi restaurant (also with a Michelin star) and both their outlets in Singapore won a star each.

My bottom 3 is Crystal Jade Golden Palace, The Song of India, and Labyrinth. Crystal Jade Golden Palace is so mediocre I struggle to find anything good to say about their dismal food. The fact that they’ve been awarded a Michelin star is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. They not only failed to impress, it’s like they made it their mission to serve uninspiring food.

The Song of India has serious shortcomings in service and food which the esteemed Andy Hayler also noted in his influential website. I read his review before going and thought it was another case of a clueless Caucasian trying and failing to understand Asian food. It’s not. Don’t make the same mistake as I did. Avoid this restaurant like the plague. They had a broom closet open the entire time I was dining there.

Labyrinth received bad reviews for their service from Fay (real name Fang) of thywhaleliciousfay – a blogger I follow and respect. I believe I got the same waiter she did, a thoroughly incompetent nincompoop with terrible halitosis. Some of the other waiters were good, but Michelin inspectors don’t take service into account when rating restaurants. In the end, Labyrinth’s insipid modern Singaporean cuisine tries too hard to be different and misses the mark.

Labyrinth, The Song of India and Crystal Jade Golden Palace are my picks to lose their Michelin star in the Michelin Guide Singapore 2019. We shall see in about 2 weeks!

Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu review: The newest Michelin star ramen shop in Tokyo!

I had the bright idea of taking a discounted (but longer) route to Tokyo via Manila. Tickets were RM1,345 per pax return from Kuala Lumpur. That’s easily RM600 cheaper than ANA but with a transit in the Philippines. We departed KL at 2am in the morning and arrived in Tokyo at 12pm the next day, sleep-deprived. We checked into our AirBNB before lining up at Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu, groggy and in need of sustenance.

This was a mere 12-minute walk from our accommodation. I used Google Maps and Mandy was adamant I took the wrong way coz it led us down a dingy back alley. I told her that this particular restaurant is located in a small alley. There was no signage but I saw a line of people snaking out the front of the pinned location. This was 30 minutes before the ramen shop opened! We joined the line.

It’s summer in Japan now so lining up in the heat isn’t a very pleasant experience. There are lots of smells, and not the good kind. I’m talking about BO instead of pork oil. Wet, sweaty armpits abound. The queue had a lot of foreigners from China and Australia too and these are not countries renowned for their personal hygiene. Thankfully we got into the first seating coz we’re a couple and secured a table.

Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu has a vending machine at the entrance where you’re supposed to make your order before passing it to the staff. The vending machine is in Japanese, but there’s a laminated A4 paper attached with English instructions for two of their most popular ramen – their recommended shio soba and their signature shoyu soba. I ordered one of each, with additional toppings of ajitama (egg) and chasiu.

I got a Kirin Heartland (600 yen or RM24) – a beautiful green bottle of beer with embossed logo and no labels except for a small government mandated neck wrap. It’s a European Pale Lager. It came super chilled. The beer is easy to drink and the slight hoppiness goes with with the heavy flavors of ramen. I also ordered a white bait and umeboshi (picked plum) rice bowl meant as an ochazuke (300 yen) but they ran out and the staff returned my coins.

Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu’s Shio Soba Ramen. The stock is made with two different types of salt – Mongolian rock salt and Okinawan sea salt. They use red sea bream and hamaguri clam to make the soup broth. It’s then finished with Italian white truffle oil, homemade porcini mushroom sauce, pancetta bacon bits, and inca berry sauce. Even the noodles are made with 6 different types of domestic flour!

This is the one that tasted better to me. I love the seafood sweetness in the broth. The toothsome and textural ramen noodles were excellent too. The broth is complex and layered and I enjoyed drinking it tremendously. I wish I had the sold-out rice bowl to go with the delicious soup base.

Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu’s Shoyu Soba Ramen. This is made with 3 different types of soup – clear pork broth, wa-dashi (Japanese stock) and a hamaguri clam dashi. The ramen is then topped with homemade truffle sauce, porcini oil and porcini mushroom flakes. It’s very fragrant! The pork broth is also heavier than the red bream one in the previous bowl.

Fans of heavy tasting ramen would love this bowl but it’s a bit too much for me. I struggled to finish the soup coz the overwhelming pork flavours made it a bit difficult to drink. You’ll love this ramen if you enjoy fatty pork belly, but I don’t so I preferred the seafood shio ramen. It’s nice to try both of their signature and recommended ramen dishes though.

There are only 7 counter seats and two small tables for 2 pax each so expect to wait unless you come early. Do not expect excellent service – this is a neighbourhood ramen stall so the interactions are short and terse. They have notices telling you not to linger too long after finishing your bowl of ramen and no photos are allowed inside except for the food. It’s a good experience to see what the latest ramen joint to get a Michelin star in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2019 is about.

The bill came up to about 4,200 yen (RM165) for two including beer. I’ll like to try Tsuta and Nakiryu next time to see how they compare.

Penang 2D/1N Kwong Wah Yit Poh Launch Part I: Gurney Drive Vermicelli Noodle Steamed Fish, Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol, Da Shu Xia Seafood House, The Bund Speakeasy Hidden Bar

I was in Penang for a collaboration my company has with Kwong Wah Yit Poh recently. We stayed for a night at The Wembley @ St Giles and indulged in the famous island food scene. We flew in slightly before lunch so we headed straight to eat. Sam mentioned there was a rice vermicelli noodle served on top of steamed fish in Gurney Drive so we hunted for the restaurant.

This is har cheong fried chicken wings. It’s chicken wings dipped in prawn paste before deep frying. It’s crunchy and savory and came piping hot. Delicious!

This is their signature bee hoon steamed fish. It’s important to note that this isn’t a noodle dish. It’s a steamed fish dish, but they pile rice vermicelli on top before serving. I have no idea why they do that – probably for added texture. It’s good though – the noodles go well with the coriander-sugar-soy sauce mixture for the fish.

There’s also an obligatory plate of vegetables.

There’s also house style tofu with mushrooms on top, which was delicious.

However, the outstanding dish for lunch is this claypot pork ribs with yam and burnt garlic. The gravy strapped my ass on a jetpack and launched me straight to Flavortown at Mach 1. 🚀 Fuiyoh! 😱 It was lip smacking good! I loved the smoky burnt whole garlic cloves. The tender, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs was succulent and combines well with the slightly chewy texture of the sliced yam. Insanely delicious!

We headed to Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol after lunch for some cooling cendol…

…and a plate of rojak to share.

The cendol is good but they’ve open so many branches throughout Malaysia that eating at the original has lost some of its lustre. The operation is very commercialized nowadays.

Dinner that night was at Da Shu Xia Seafood House. They have a spread of fresh seafood you can choose from. I’ve eaten here many years ago as well and they’re quite good.

This is butter prawns. They’re deep fried to golden perfection – crispy and hot.

We also ordered a tom yam soup in a coconut that tasted yummy. The thick broth was more like gravy and goes very well with rice.

Of course, there’s the obligatory vegetable dish. I believe this is potato leaves.

This is steamed fish Teochew style with tomatoes, tofu and

This is sweet chilli crab! The crab had a super hard shell and I got splattered on my face while trying to crack open the shell. I love the thick, starchy sauce.

We also had an order of clams (lala). This was the item I ate the most of since it was just in front of me. Haha.

It’s a satisfying dinner! We headed to The Bund. This is a hidden bar e.g. speakeasy design where the front façade is locked and you need to access the drinking hole through an obscure side entrance.

The ambience inside is nice and chill.

There are also two decent singers performing. I got them to sing a Chinese song that’s been stuck in my head recently. Haha.

Part II coming soon!

Johor Bahru 2D/1N Work Trip

I was in Johor Bahru for work last week! I ate at the famous Woon Kiang Kuey Teow Kia in JB but didn’t manage to eat other local food since we had an event there. We mostly ate near the hotel, branch office or the airport at other times. Our HQ team was staying at Midori Concept Hotel – we arrived slightly past lunchtime and headed over to the shops nearby for food.

Grandma Traditional Tastes was one of the few restaurants still open at 3 pm. We ordered their Traditional Curry Seafood Bamboo Pot, which is a medley of prawns, mussels and squid inside an open bamboo tube. The broth is a curry sauce base which tastes really good with rice.

Signature Golden Crust Beancurd is their version of in-house fried tofu. The exterior was crispy and it had some kind of seaweed crust. There’s a bit of gravy at the bottom and some mushrooms and broccoli to round up the tofu with vegetables.

Signature Ice Gu Lao Pork With Lemon was our choice of protein. This is sweet and sour pork served inside a bed of ice! It’s one of their flagship dishes. The gu lao pork is cooked normally but chilled down inside the ice until it becomes cold. It’s unusual and different. I think it works better as an appetizer than a main dish to go with rice though.

I grabbed a boba at The Yunique Tea for dessert. This is a bubble tea from Taiwan with a similar logo to Daboba (bear) but with a cap on the bear.

We headed over to Woon Kiang Kuey Teow Kia for a very late dinner later that night. This is a JB institution which is open till late – or more like, early in the morning. There’s a busy station with various cuts of pork and pork innards.

The place was packed even at midnight on a working weekday!

This is everything we’ve ordered – there’s braised chicken, braised egg, tofu, stomach, liver, intestine, pickled vegetables and lean pork.

You eat the dishes with this kueh tiaw kia soup dish. This is a thin, flat noodle inside a mild tasting broth.

I like it. I can see why people enjoy these things. It’s not my first choice since I prefer more heavily seasoned food but I’m glad I tried it. They’re very popular!

Breakfast the next day was a quick Malaysian style spread of kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs at the café below our JB branch office.

We had Korean BBQ at Mount Austin for lunch!

This was a set for 8-10 pax with seafood, pork, kimchi soup and pancakes.

🔥

There were a whole bunch of us and we all ate our fill.

We were slated to fly back to KL that night so the four of us from HQ grabbed a quick bite to eat at the airport.

This is Lavender Bistro & Café in Senai Airport. It was still Ramadan at the time so they took a really long time to serve our food coz we ate around buka puasa.

I liked my order of salmon on crusty focaccia bread. I haven’t been to JB in at least 8 years so it was good to be back.

Weekend Update: Pokemon Detective Pikachu ⚡, M&M Popcorn 🍿, BKT 🐷, NL 🍚, Diet 💪!

This is a compilation of the things we did during the previous weekend and the Wesak/Nuzul Al Quran break. I write these things so I can look back and see what we’ve done together so far. Mandy isn’t huge fan of Malay food but she saw Restoran Warisan Sambal Opah while I was picking her up from work one day and wanted to try it.

This place is really good. I used to eat here often when I was working in production coz they open till late (up to 5 am). It’s not uncommon for shoots to wrap up around 1-2 am so it was a good place to get hot food after work. Their hot nasi lemak is delicious and they have lots of sides to go with the nasi lemak.

We also ordered a bunch of satay coz Mandy was craving for it. They’re all very delicious. This was so good that Mandy wanted to tapau the NL to bring home to eat during Wesak break.

I love eating NL with my hands but I’ll only do it at home. Yum!

I didn’t have work on Nuzul Al Quran either while Mandy was working as usual so I drove her to work. She’s been wanting to try the dim sum opposite our condo for a while so I stopped and tapau some har gao and lau sar pao for her.

We went to watch Pokemon Detective Pikachu coz Mandy is a Pikachu fan. I would have preferred to watch John Wick 3. We headed over to Kedai Kopi Malaya for some food before the movie. Mandy wanted to eat chicken chop there. I ordered a nasi lemak ayam goreng berempah. It was decent but nothing special. It was such a hot day I got heatstroke while eating, despite it being an air-conditioned outlet.

Mandy saw this M&M flavoured popcorn at the cinema so we got one to share. It turns out it wasn’t M&M flavoured – it’s merely regular popcorn with a bag of M&M slotted in front and packaged in M&M branding. Very misleading advertising.

The Pikachu movie was predictable and boring for me but Mandy seemed to like it.

You might enjoy it if you’re a Pokemon fan.

We headed to SS14 to eat BKT at Mandy’s favorite bak kut teh place. They have really delicious dry BKT with generous portions of meat. I really enjoy their salty and savoury dry BKT but they use so much salt and MSG you’ll be extremely thirsty after.

Mandy always orders the mushrooms too.

This is the perfect thing to eat on a rainy day!

I was in the mood to cook noodles so I made jjajangmyeon with thin yellow egg noodles and lots of seafood. I got 250 grams of prawns and 250 grams of mixed seafood. I also bought zucchini – you can’t have jjajangmyeon without it coz it provides and important crunchy texture to the noodles and cleans your palate so the bean sauce isn’t too cloying.

Best eaten with a slice of melted processed cheese on top!

It’s durian season again and I bought a 1.5 kg Musang King for RM 48. It’s still quite expensive now but it’ll get cheaper in the coming weeks.

I need to go on a diet coz I’ve been eating too much these few months. Our pre-wedding shoot is coming up in two months so I need to slim down before that. This is the last cheat meal I’ll be having until our pre-wedding shoot. I swear! From now on it’s carefully portioned meals with no extra calories until I reach 73 kg. Determination!!!

✈️ 10 Hours in Penang: Chef Wang Fusion Kitchen, Super Tanker Hawker Food Center

I’m heading to Penang again tomorrow so I thought I better post about the delicious meals I had during my previous trip there last month. This was a whirlwind work trip where I only had 10 hours on the island state. We headed straight for lunch at Chef Wang Fusion Kitchen after arriving at the airport.

Chef Wang Fusion Kitchen is a private kitchen setup where you need to reserve the tables and order the dishes in advance. I believe the chef is from China. The food here is really good. I was impressed. Our business partners pre-ordered the dishes and we occupied 2 tables. We were the only ones at the restaurant.

The pork rib soup was mild tasting and almost refreshing. It’s served in a claypot and tasted like something my maternal grandmother would cook. It’s less intensely flavoured but goes very well with the strong-tasting dishes that followed. Rice was also served in a steel pot.

I really liked their asam fish. The sour and sweet notes are very appetizing. They also have shredded raw green mango on top to add a crunchy dimension. The fish is reasonably fatty too, which is a good thing. Lean fish doesn’t taste very nice in these dishes. You need good omega oils to add mouthfeel and taste.

Next up was kiam chye pork with prawn. This is salted vegetables stir-fried with pork and topped with peeled prawns. The gravy looks sinister but doesn’t really taste as intense as it looks. This is a milder tasting dish, but still good. The salted vegetables are not just one dimensionally salty, but sourish.

You can’t eat in Penang without running into the perennial Hokkien favorite tau yu bak. Pig trotters are cooked with soy sauce to make this slightly sweet and savory dish. It’s one of my favorite things to eat. Chef Wang’s version was pretty good too.

I found their belacan fried chicken to be an unusual twist to fried chicken. I hear it’s pretty common in Penang to marinate fried chicken in belacan before frying though. It tastes really good this way! The salty and prawn-y belacan elevates this dish to new levels. The chicken was fried well too, and the meat was juicy and tender. It’s served with chilli sauce.

The deep-fried whole prawns in oyster sauce was really delicious too! The shells of the crispy prawns were fried long enough to be eaten. I love the head butter inside these babies too. One of the best dishes of the meal.

A dish of homemade tofu rounded up the meal. This was quite mild tasting and inoffensive to balance out the stronger flavors of the other dishes. It works well.

The morbidly obese waitress also brought out a dish of tong sui for dessert. This was a concoction of taro and sago pearls in a sweet syrup. It was decent but savory dishes are this establishments strong suit.

We had a presentation and meeting with our media partners before we had to fly back to KL.

Before that, our Penang branch manager brought us to Super Tanker to indulge in some hawker food.

I ordered a very dismal bowl of asam laksa. It tasted dilute and tepid. I was surprised I could find such a terrible implementation of asam laksa in Penang. I had to force myself to finish the bowl.

Luckily the char kueh tiaw I ordered was excellent. Smoky and delicious, this was a really good example of how Penang does CKT right.

Sam also ordered some o chien (oyster omelette) to share. This was really good as well. I like the Penang style of mok mok (soggy) o chien better than our Sarawak crispy o chien.

I managed to tapau some chai kueh for Mandy too.

It’s actually more for me, since I like eating chai kueh. Haha.

We also got some apam balik to eat on the way to the car. The apam at Super Tanker is remarkable too! Crispy, hot and delicious! We had to rush to the airport and nearly missed our flight due to the traffic jam in Penang. We made it though. I’ll be going again in a few hours!

Weekend Update: Flu 🤒, Ramadan Bazaar 🥘, “One Pot” Hainanese Chicken Rice 🐔

We were both down with the flu last weekend so we didn’t go out much. We’re both still recovering. Influenza will mess you up for at least 2 weeks. There’s been a virulent strain going around this year. You can hear coughs and runny noses in the office and LRT/MRT and people start falling sick. We even ran a fever for a couple of days, but we’re both much better now.

We headed over to the USJ 4 Bazaar Ramadan late Saturday afternoon. My experience tells me the best time to go is around 5 pm. That’s when all the stalls are running in full gear (but also when the crowd is at its peak). USJ 4 is the closest big Ramadan bazaar. I believe the biggest in Klang Valley is either in Shah Alam or Kelana Jaya.

I was tempted by this huge cucur udang so I got one at RM 5. It’s more like a pancake udang. That’s how big the thing was. Unfortunately, it was too doughy and thick so I didn’t enjoy it. I had to pack the leftovers into my lunch box for the next two days. It also looked like they had huge prawns in the cucur but compared to the sheer amount of dough, the shrimp was almost negligible.

One of the most tempting drinks in a Ramadan bazaar is the mango juice. This is an upgraded version with sweet mango cubes and vanilla ice cream piled on top. I’ve had these drinks at pasar malam before but they’re usually watered down and dismal. I had one just a couple of months ago with Mandy at the Setia Alam pasar malam. We were both disappointed. We got watermelon juice this time instead and loved it.

The longest queue at USJ 4 Bazaar Ramadan each year belongs to the nasi briyani run by Arabs at the very end of the bazaar. They always have an insane number of people lining up for their food! I tried it last year and it was decent, but not something I’ll spend 30 minutes under the hot sun waiting in line for. I gave it a pass this year. The murtabak opposite this stall also has a long line of people.

I also got a Roti John Beef Special with Egg and Cheese for RM 11. For the uninitiated, Roti John is a long submarine bun filled with savory minced meat (usually beef or chicken) and wrapped with a thin egg. It’s then slathered with black pepper sauce, mayo and chilli sauce. I enjoy eating this calorie bomb, especially when it’s hot off the grill. This one is good but I wish they had more meat filling.

Mandy enjoyed the Malay style Sarawak laksa that she got. My favorite among our haul was the ikan patin tempoyak. Tempoyak is fermented durian and ikan patin is a type of catfish. Combined it results in a thick, gooey gravy that’s acidic and appetizing. It’s delicious when eaten with rice! I always love this dish and have even eaten it in Temerloh, the birthplace of ikan patin tempoyak.

Walking around the neighbourhood Ramadan bazaar is a fun thing to do during puasa month. It’s crowded and you have to jostle with sweaty, sticky, smelly people from all walks of life (read: dubious provenance) so it’s not something I want to do every day. But definitely worth at least one visit.

I was craving for chicken rice over the weekend so I cooked up a batch with 2 kg of chicken legs. I boiled the chicken legs with lots of chopped spring onions, garlic, and ginger. I also put chicken stock powder into the broth. This broth infused with chicken essence and oils was then poured into raw basmati rice to cook my chicken rice.

I later learned that a lot of people steam the chicken in a steamer with sesame oil instead. I do it this way coz it’s more efficient to boil large quantities of chicken but Mandy says steaming it results in a smoother chicken texture. I’ll try that next time.

I’ve also been having a lot of “Sandwich Days” lately. Been craving for these naughty empty calories sandwich bread. I eat them with lettuce, sliced tomatoes and fried Danish luncheon meat or deli ham and a side of scrambled eggs. Delicious!

My marriage proposal to Mandy in Midhills @ Genting 💑

It was the Labour Day holidays so we decided to go somewhere cooling for a short vacation. We’ve recently been to Fraser’s Hill and enjoyed ourselves so we planned to go to Genting this time. Cameron Highlands is too far away for a 2D/1N stay. I found a nice apartment at Midhills @ Genting and booked it for a night. I also planned to propose to Mandy on that night.

I sneaked out the Sunday before with her ring in tow to purchase an engagement ring. I know she has a couple of rings at home but it took me a long time to find it, coz she stored them in a random box in her luggage. I went to Sunway Pyramid to look at rings before settling on a plain gold band.

There are two different options for even a plain gold band. One was a simple ring while the other was a modern, square design. I thought she’ll like the simple design better but I went with the square one for a modern touch. Turns out she preferred the simple ring. Haha.

I also arrange to have 24 pink roses delivered to the office. I had taken the car keys that morning and planned to put these in the boot so she wouldn’t see it. I’ll find an excuse to come down to the car while she was showering to retrieve them when we go to Midhills @ Genting. We both had work on 30th April, so we’re only driving up at night.

We reached the apartment at around 10 pm and she went for a shower. I told her I left something in the car and went to get the flowers and the ring. I waited till she was about to exit the bathroom and went down on bended knee to propose to her. She said yes.

In hindsight, I should have done this at our home. I could have had more time to set up fairy lights, letters etc. I didn’t think of it at the time. I’ll KIV that for the future. Haha.

She was feeling under the weather and didn’t feel like going out so I went to tapau some food from Gohtong Jaya. I’ve heard good things about Restoran Hou Wan so I headed there. Unfortunately, they were out of their famous steamed frog legs but they had their crispy kon chou sang mee (dry fried sang mee). I ordered chicken wings, Guinness pork ribs and two types of noodles.

The standout dish from Restoran Hou Wan is their famous kon chau sang mee. This was a dish of deliciously crispy noodles with a slice of century duck egg. You’re given wonderfully thick gravy on the side, which is poured on the noodles to rehydrate it. The gravy is full of seafood and egg and has notes of garlic and wine. Very yummy.

We headed to Genting Strawberry Leisure Farms the next morning. This is a strawberry farm in Gohtong Jaya. Mandy wanted to eat some strawberries.

The farm also has various cold climate flowers.

There’s a café selling all types of food with strawberries in them. They also had a chocolate fountain where you can dip strawberries to get chocolate coated fresh strawberries.

We also bought strawberry ice cream with fresh cut strawberries on top. Delicious.

They also had freshly made waffles and we went for a strawberry + chocolate filling. Not bad.

Mandy wanted more of the chocolate dipped strawberries so I ordered another one, but told the lady to put it inside their fridge for a few minutes so the coating will harden. Mandy liked this version better.

We walked around the farm some more…

…and picked our own strawberries!

You can get pruning scissors and a basket to collect your own strawberries.

Just cut the ones you like from the vine!

There were some very luscious ones!

The ones you see at supermarkets are cheaper but it’s fun to pick our own strawberries. These are so much fresher. I paid RM 23 for this.

It’s a nice afternoon spent strolling around the flowers and strawberry fields.

We headed uphill to Genting Highlands after and parked at First World Hotel. While walking around SkyAvenue mall, we passed by the Genting cinema and a poster for Avengers: Endgame. We both haven’t watched it so we bought two tickets to the show.

It was almost dark by the time we finished watching the 3-hour opus so we went in search of food.

Mandy wanted to eat Beauty in the Pot but they were so full due to it being Labour Day holidays that the earliest slot we could get was 11 pm! She settled for Palsaik instead.

Palsaik is a Korean BBQ restaurant famous for their 8 flavored pork belly. I’ve eaten here many years ago. We also needed to wait before a table was available.

The staff will grill the pork belly for you. You’re supposed to eat it wrapped with leaves, Korean style.

Genting was fun but there was way too many people on Labour Day. These public holidays tend to attract people from the Klang Valley so everywhere was crowded.

We managed to get some fancy donuts to eat on the way back! It was good short trip.

Weekend Update: Company Annual Training 🗣️, 14-course French Tapas Dinner 🍽️, Bosch Cordless Vacuum Cleaner 🧹

Our company’s annual training was last weekend so we didn’t go on our usual Saturday night date. Instead, we’re heading to an AirBNB in Gohtong Jaya for a short stay this coming Labour Day holiday. 🎒 I was in the office on Saturday for our training and my long-lost cousin from my mom’s side invited me to a dinner on Saturday night. I haven’t seen her in 28 years!

The company training was pretty fun. We were broken up into small groups to finish teamwork tasks and a project. It was very interactive, with games and physical tasks we had to complete together. I got the chance to sing YANK by Wali Group for bonus marks. 🎤

My team got second place out of 7 or 8 groups so that was pretty good. HR also did a small birthday celebration for all April babies after our buffet dinner at Eastin Hotel. My birthday was on 5th April. 🎂

My cousin is an advisor with Thermomix (the cooking machine) and this was one of their events – a sit down dinner with Chef Nathalie Arbefeuille of Nathalie Gourmet Studio. The dinner was held at Lightbox. 🍴

This event was to celebrate the launch of Spoonfuls of Love – The Thermomix Cookbook for Children. The book is written by Olivia Tan. 📚

Chef Nathalie trained under Chef Anne-Sophie Pic, who has 3 Michelin stars. 👩‍🍳 She also did a live cooking demonstration with – what else – a Thermomix. She said her kitchen has 4 of these and she has another one at home. I think they’re nifty too but too expensive.

This is a tapas style dinner that kicked off with Spaghetti Bolognaise In a Bite 🍝 and Crispy Puff Pizza, Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Cream. I can appreciate the intricacy of the first dish, which twirls spaghetti into a “filling”. The crispy puff pizza is an Indian carbon copy bite which draws inspiration from the street food snack panipuri.

The second course had Tabouleh Salad in Couscous Version and Crab and Avocado Crispy Cone. 🦀 I like the fresh and acidic flavors of the couscous salad. The crab and avocado crispy cone is delicious! I’ve had something similar in Gaggan with exactly the same plating. You can say she’s inspired by the 2 Michelin star restaurant in Bangkok.

Next up was Mushroom Cream, Truffle Emulsion 🍄 and Mini Chicken and Chorizo Burger. You’re supposed to eat them together. I liked the mushroom and truffle soup but the burger was forgettable.

Homemade Tortellini Zucchini Basil, Basil Pesto was ill-suited for such a huge event. 🌿 The pasta was served so lukewarm it’s almost chilly and so al-dente it was bordering on tough. The flavors are decent though.

Homemade Duck, Chicken and Foie Gras Meatball, Potato Espuma, Duck Jus was a better bite. 🦆 It was quite flavorful and goes well with the potato espuma. I blended boiled potatoes in cream with a food processor once but merely called it mashed potatoes. I should have used espuma.

Slowly Cooked Salmon, Grean Pea and Mint Cream, Mint Emulsion 🐟 was the last savory dish of the night. It was very good. This is one of the times when frothy creams serves to add texture and mouthfeel instead of just being added for the sake of modernity. Very good.

Cranberry Scones, Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries and Raspberry Royale, Vanilla Chantilly, Lemon Sable 🍋 kicked off the dessert courses. I didn’t think much of the cranberry scones but I enjoyed the raspberry sable dessert. It tasted good and looked beautiful. There’s lots of interesting textures inside too.

Lemon and Flowers Popsicles was a nice palate cleanser after those creamy flavors too. 🌺

Chocolate Mousse, Mint Espuma 🍫 was the last dessert but I couldn’t stay since Mandy was sick. I rushed home to take care of her. I only missed this final dessert though. It was interesting to see how a renowned chef works with a large dinner event like this. I also haven’t seen my cousin in decades. We used to play together as kids.

I will end this with my 3 packets of Mi Sedaap, leftover Korean fried chicken, meal prep ayam pongteh, century egg and bird eye chillies cheat meal. 🍜 It got a lot of likes on Facebook for reasons unknown to me. I post things like this every weekend! Maybe it’s the warm colors.

I also bought a Bosch cordless vacuum cleaner. It’s so convenient! You don’t get held back by cables. There’s no need for a dust bag. The suction is also very strong and it picks up hair and cat litter with ease. 🐈 I’m loving it.

36 Hours in Penang 🇲🇾: Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company ☕, New Siam Road CKT 🍝, Sup Hameed 🍲, Moody Cow Café 🍰, Nasi Kandar Beratur 🍛, Lorbak @ Kheng Pin Café 🍢, 92 Armenian Bird’s Nest Delicacy 🐦, Ang Bak Kia Durian 😋, Air Itam Market 🥩

I was in Penang for a business trip last week. 🏝️ It’s the land of food so I made sure to properly plan my meals so I could maximize the amount of delicious hawker food I could indulge in during my short time on the island. I made a list of the must eat foods within close proximity to Cititel Penang (the hotel I was staying at) and walked to most places so I could work up an appetite.

The first meal I had was at Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company. ☕ I had a work lunch meeting here so I took a Grab straight from Penang Airport. This is a converted warehouse that serves primarily coffee (and gelato) as well as a selection of hot food. I went for the Macallum’s Coffee Spaghetti (RM 23) and an iced latte.

The coffee spaghetti was made with creamy coffee sauce and chorizo pork sausage. 🍝 It tasted surprisingly good. I originally expected this to be more of a novelty dish but it was rich and delicious, with an aftertaste of roasted coffee beans and pepper. The latte was excellent too! Our business associates picked up the bill – thanks for lunch!

I checked in the hotel after lunch and worked for a while before heading out for some char kueh tiaw. I wanted to eat at the esteemed New Siam Road Char Kueh Tiaw. 🍳 This is probably Penang’s most well-regarded CKT, better than the tourist-overrun Lorong Selamat CKT. There was a sizable queue even at 4 pm in the afternoon.

I waited about 20 minutes for my plate of CKT. You need to queue up before you can get seated. They don’t take orders and deliver to the table. Check out the huge industrial blower they have going! 🔥 This is still made on an old school charcoal stove and the blower supplies the wind to keep the heat high.

I love the CKT here at Siam Road. It’s easily the best CKT I’ve eaten in Penang, which makes it the best CKT in the world. The wok hei flavors come through really well, providing a smoky aroma that goes perfectly with the charred lap cheong (Chinese sausage), soft cockles, and crunchy beans sprouts. 💨 It’s exceedingly delicious! 10/10.

I could still eat after that so I went to Sup Hameed beside my hotel for a snack. I’ve eaten the sup torpedo here 10 years ago. That’s bull penis soup. 🐂🍆 I remember enjoying the gristly and gelatinous bovine dick. I wanted to try something different this time so I ordered their famous Sup Kambing (Goat Soup).

All their soups use the same base, it’s just the protein that’s different. You can see the different cuts of meats and organs they have on the soup prep station. 🍖

This is what their goat soup (RM 7.30) looks like. 🐐 People usually eat it with thickly sliced bread (RM 0.80). Their bread has a charred, bitter edge that goes very well with savory soup dishes. There’s not a lot of goat here though, but I didn’t expect much due to the price. It’s mostly bones with a bit of meat sticking on them. Not a bad snack though!

I had to rest for a while after all that food. The next destination was a good 4 hours later at night. I’ve heard of a place called Moody Cow Café which serves slices of cake priced RM 42 and above. 😱 I thought that was a shockingly expensive price tag for just a slice of cake! I was very intrigued. I had to go and see what they’re about.

Moody Cow Café is one of those Instagrammable cafes with a beautiful interior and seating arrangements. 📷 I love their vintage high-backed chairs and quiet environment. It is very dark inside though. I think that’s why they’re named moody – the temperamental lighting is a conscious ambiance cue.

I ordered their flagship Cempedak Madness (RM 42) cake. 🍰 They have several different premium ones, including a chocolate rum concoction but the owner recommended this as their bestseller. The RM 42 slice was generous, tall and thick. It’s made with tons of real cempedak fruit. It’s an extremely rich cake with lots of butter and cream and tropical fruit and I had to struggle to finish the slice.

The cake slices here are definitely meant for sharing. It’s too cloying for a single person to eat. 💀 I did enjoy the Cempedak Madness cake though. I know I’ll have enjoyed it more if I were hungry. It’s very expensive but worth a try if only for the sticker shock kudos you’ll get from social media.

Nasi Kandar Beratur is another Penang institution that I wanted to try. This place is famous for opening at 10 pm at night! 🌙 I went at 11 pm and there was a queue coming out the front. Luckily it moved quite fast. It’s popular among the locals for some late night noms.

They have a selection of freshly cooked dishes to pair with rice. I opted for a fried chicken leg, which I hear is a must have. I also added on prawn curry and sotong (squid) curry as well as a personal bag of papadom. 🍛

My meal cost RM 22.50. 💸 The fried chicken leg is very small, likely from a free range kampung chicken. I wasn’t too impressed by it. The squid and prawns were decent but nothing special. I prefer the dishes at Nasi Kandar Line Clear. I’m glad I tried this though.

I went to Kheng Pin Café the next morning for some Penang lorbak. 🍢 This is a very famous stall that’s right beside my hotel. It’s run by a friendly husband-and-wife duo. They’re really busy in the mornings – every table I saw had a plate of lorbak.

The lorbak is freshly deep fried before being delivered piping hot to you. I opted for a selection with everything plus century egg for RM 8. 🦆

This the second-best meal I had in Penang this trip, after the Siam Road CKT. The prawn fritters are particularly delicious and I love the ngor hiang too. 🍤 It goes very well with their house chili and lu dipping sauce. 10/10.

92 Armenian Bird’s Nest Delicacy is a café specializing in all things bird’s nest. 🐦 Mandy made a special request to tapau their bird’s nest egg tarts so I walked here after my lorbak breakfast to order some egg tarts.

This café has the best packaging I’ve seen. They lovingly bundle up the 2 egg tarts I ordered into a fine, red box and put that into a high-quality custom paper bag. The egg tarts are attached securely via custom holders and there’s a nook that fits a small vial of bird’s nest beside them. Very impressive. 🍮

The egg tarts are priced at RM 9 each. 🥚 You drizzle the bird’s nest soup over the egg tarts before you eat them. I wouldn’t say they’re very delicious but they’re not bad and the packaging is superb.

Next meal was herbal duck drumstick mee sua. 🍜 My Penang colleague picked me up and we wanted to go to a popular hawker center for lunch but he couldn’t find parking. It was close to our next meeting so I told him we can just eat anywhere there’s parking. It was pretty good – a nice, blander change to my heavily seasoned normal meals.

The next time I could eat was after work commitments, when I popped into a roadside durian stall to indulge in a durian. The durian seller said he only has 1 local durian and the others are from Thailand. 🇹🇭

I was told this is Ang Bak Kia – a local Penang breed. 😋 However, I’m not so sure as the Penang durian season is yet to start. This is likely a Thai durian.

It was RM 22 for this Ang Bak Kia durian. It satisfied by durian craving but I have serious doubts about the provenance of said durian. 🤔

I was in the Air Itam area for work but unfortunately the famous Air Itam Laksa was closed on that day. The local favorite Bisu Laksa @ Air Itam Market was also closing by the time I finished with work so I couldn’t eat there either. 🤫 I ended up patronizing a random CKT shop and had CKT with duck egg. It’s not as good as Siam Road, but sufficient to tide me over till my next trip.

I forced myself to scarf down one last meal before I flew back to KL. It was at a lor mee / prawn mee stall at Air Itam Market. After seeing my hesitation in deciding, the seller suggested mixing the two soup bases together. Big mistake. The unholy marriage tasted quite appalling. I didn’t enjoy it at all. 🤮

Before booking my Grab to the airport, I stopped by a local bakery down the road called Sin Ka Onn. The shop was the perfect place to wait and I’ve heard good things about their store made kaya. 🥥 I also grabbed a half-loaf of soft, pillowy bread to pair with the spread.

I thought that half loaf would be too much for the two of us. Wrong! I only ate two pieces before Mandy inhaled the rest! She really enjoyed it. 🍞

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