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. 🍞

Weekend Update: Homemade Sandwich Party 🥪, Korean Fried Chicken @ Mont Kiara 🍗, Korean Grocery Haul 🇰🇷

Mandy has been craving for sandwiches lately so I bought a loaf of bread to make a few different types. I also got a can of Danish luncheon meat, some deli ham, and eggs. 🍖 My plan was to make 3 different sandwiches – a fried SPAM sandwich, a fried egg sandwich, and a cold cut deli ham sandwich. Naturally, there were fresh tomatoes and lettuce to complete the sandwich.

I fried 3 eggs with dark soy sauce, pepper, and fish sauce before compiling it into a sandwich with chilli sauce. 🥪 The next one was a cold sandwich with deli ham, tomatoes, lettuce and some Kewpie sesame salad dressing. The third comprised of fried slices of luncheon meat from Denmark with lettuce and tomatoes. They’re all really good! It’s worth it to pay more for expensive SPAM since they hold their shape when fried.

My girlfriend works on weekends and the McDonald’s below our apartment only opens at 8 am in the morning so we’ve never gotten a chance to eat their breakfast hash browns before she has to go to work. 🥔 I decided to tapau one for her during breakfast on Saturday and keep it in the fridge before heating it up when she woke up on Sunday. Haha. She said it didn’t taste as good though.

Our Saturday date night was in Mont Kiara. We both love Korean fried chicken and we decided on Chicken House for dinner. 🐔 This is a small Korean run restaurant that serves mainly chikin and a variety of Korean stews. They’re better known for their chicken. I’ve been here before a few years back (but with a different girlfriend). Read my first Chicken House @ Solaris Mont Kiara review here.

We ordered a whole chicken – half in sweet and spicy sauce and the other half in soy sauce + garlic. They’re both pretty good but the edge goes to the sweet and spicy sauce. 🍗 The soy sauce also tasted a little sweet. It’ll be better if it tasted savory and salty with no sweet notes as a contrast.

The bill came up to RM 141 for 2 pax inclusive of drinks and beer. 🍺 Mandy felt that KyoChon tasted a lot better and I agree. There are free peanuts here as well as pickles though. You can actually get KyoChon to serve free pickles if you ask. Their pickles are better than the ones here too, but Chicken House tastes more like a home kitchen.

We went to a Korean grocery after that to check out what’s on offer and came back with a haul of Korean instant noodles, ice cream and drinks. Haha. 🇰🇷

This Paldo cheese jjamppong ramen is really good! Spicy and creamy. 🍜

But it was this Jin Jjajangmyeon that I was super impressed with. 🌱 It’s so delicious! 9.5/10.

We capped the night with some mudslide ice cream from the US. 🍨 This tastes heavenly with some cheese crackers from the Philippines.

Weekend Update: Crab 🦀 + Fish 🐟 + Prawn 🦐 @ Sun Ocean Seafood Restaurant, Filipino Food @ Kota Raya, Lucky Me! Pancit Canton Review

Mandy was craving for some crab on Saturday night so we headed to Sun Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Puchong so she can get her fix. Crab is her favorite food – we’ve eaten crab at Pulau Ketam, crab at KKB during Valentine’s Day, and crab in Kuching during CNY in the past few months. She eats these scarlet crustaceans about once a month! 🦀 I enjoy eating crab when it’s peeled like in 1 Michelin star Raan Jay Fai and I love the Alaskan king crab I had in Korea but I find it too troublesome to bother with harvesting the flesh of local flower and mud crabs.

I enjoy eating fish more, especially steamed fish. This is asam tilapia (RM 39) which was recommended by the colourful waiter. 🐟 The savory asam sauce goes very well with rice! There’s a fair bit of meat on the tilapia too.

The restaurant also served us a bowl of complimentary bitter gourd 🥒 and tofu soup. It tasted slippery and starchy. Quite decent for a free soup.

Mandy also had butter prawns (RM 20). 🦐 You can choose either “dry butter” or “wet butter” – the former is deep fried strands of crispy butter and the latter is more like a buttery sauce. I tend to prefer the wet type since the sauce goes better with rice.

She also wanted tofu so we got salted egg yolk tofu (RM 12). 🍢 The tofu is homemade and coated with salted egg crust before being deep friend. I don’t like tofu but my dad and Mandy loves tofu so I’ve grown to tolerate it.

This is the main dish – black pepper crab (RM 68). 🧂 They gave us 3 medium crabs but the “medium” here was quite tiny. The crabs had tons of roe though! Crab roe filled the shells and the body. I love crab roe and the black pepper sauce was delicious!

This restaurant also has free self-service ice cream. They only had two flavors – cookies and cream and mint chocolate but they’re pretty good. I indulged in a big bowl of ice cream and ate another cone with two scoops. You’re never too full for dessert! We ordered too much food for 2 pax though. I managed to finish all the dishes except for the crab but I was stuffed! I tapau the leftover crab for Mandy. Dinner came up to RM 142.50. The food is actually very reasonably priced here. It tastes good too. 😋

My bro Eddy and his wife came down to KL so I went to Kota Raya to meet them. We had lunch at the stall formerly known as Mariza’s Delights. It’s under new management now but they haven’t saw it fit to replace the banner hanging over their shop. Kota Raya is a Filipino hub in downtown Kuala Lumpur – it feels like a mini Manila! 🇵🇭 This shop came highly recommended so we went to check it out.

It’s a Pinoy chap fan stall with various dishes you can pick and choose from. The interior was PACKED with Filipinos! You have to be comfortable eating with your knees pressed against the person beside you and having the plump back of the person behind you rest against yours. 🍽️ It’s that kind of place. I believe travel guides use “full of character” to describe places like this.

The food was slightly unfamiliar but I liked the pork soup with plantains and the pork cooked in thickened pig’s blood. 🐷 However, all of the dishes were cold. It would have been a lot better if they’re cooked to order, but this is a chap fan stall.

I also ordered a halo-halo. 🍨 I had halo-halo during my trip to Boracay in the Philippines and I enjoyed it very much. It’s a complex dessert with condensed milk, milk, coconut cream, yam ice cream, various jellies and a baked scorched milk custard. They go very well together and there’s so many textures going on, it’s like an adventure! Very nice.

The bill came up to RM 112 for 6 pax, which is a surprise for this kind of stall. 😱 That works out to almost RM 20 per person – quite a lot for this type of dining experience. It was fun to experience the Philippines in the middle of KL though.

Kota Raya had many grocery stores selling imported food from the Philippines. I picked up several different flavors of Lucky Me! Pancit Canton. 🍜 This is a dry noodle from the Philippines that I’ve heard a lot of good things about. They’re selling it for around RM 11 per pack or RM 2 per packet.

I tried the Lucky Me! Pancit Canton Xtra Hot Chilli Flavor that night. 🌶️ Each noodle brick is 80 grams, similar to Indomie. There’s a powder sachet and a twin liquid sachet containing light soy sauce and chilli sauce.

I ate 3 packets of Pancit Canton (literally Cantonese noodles) with the leftover crab and ayam pongteh. 🐔 It was decent but light years behind the Indomie/Mi Sedaap benchmark, which I consider the best in the dry noodle class. I gave it a 6/10 and Mandy rated it 7.5/10. We both rate Mi Sedaap as 10/10.

However, a Filipino commented on my Facebook the moment I posted my review to disagree. 😄 He said he felt Lucky Me! tastes better than Indomie and gave me some tips to improve the flavour, like adding 2 sachets of flavor to 1 packet of noodles. I like the loyalty Filipinos have to their home country but from a neutral taste perspective, Indonesia is still the king with their Indomie/Mi Sedaap duopoly. Haha.

My 38th Birthday! 🎉

It is true. I have turned 38. The big 4-0 is looming close, practically nipping at my heels. 😱 That said, I’m pleased to report that I still receive comments and messages expressing surprise that I’m 38. I hear I look youthful. Although, truth to be told, there are fewer of these remarks as I grow older. No matter. My (much younger) girlfriend gave me a birthday surprise when I got home last Friday.

I already expected something coz she has been asking me strange questions the past week. She also called to enquire when I’ll be reaching home, which is quite suspicious. 🤔 I told her I’ll be back 15 minutes later than I actually would and quickly barged in the moment I got home. Hahaha. I’m terrible.

She was still in the midst of lighting a candle at that point. She later told me she planned to turn off all the lights but I unlocked the gate and ran in so quickly she didn’t have time to do so. 🚪 She also prepared a lot of gifts on my bed for me to discover! She got me dress pants from Uniqlo coz I tore 2 in a row at work. She also bought me a shirt so I have more options to wear.

Mandy printed a photo of us she liked and got a frame so we can put this at the bedside cabinet too! 💑 My cat periodically flattens this frame though so I have to right it every few days.

Since it was my birthday, I thought it’ll be apt to break open this The Macallan Whisky Maker’s Edition. I bought this for 4,300 baht (RM 553) in duty free a few years ago but haven’t found a suitable occasion to drink it. It was delicious! Complex, woody, nutty and deep. 🥃

She also cooked mayo prawns with condensed milk for me! 🦐 That’s my grandma’s recipe that she asked for during our Chap Goh Meh trip to Sibu recently. It’s best paired with 3 packets of Mi Sedaap and century duck eggs.

Thanks for making my birthday special babe. Love you always. 👫

I had work the next day (Friday) and our boss Sam took the entire SPU team out for a dim sum lunch at Eastin Hotel. 🥟 Our office is in Phileo Damansara and there aren’t a lot of great food options here. Ee Chinese Cuisine in Eastin Hotel is definitely one of the better ones! The restaurant is really nice and the food is great too! I ate till I was stuffed.

I liked their wat tan hor too – the flavors are spot on and there’s lots of egg and seafood inside the noodles. 🍲

Here’s a photo with the SPU team! ✨

That night, I had 3 packets of Mi Sedaap again and got ice cream, whole milk and keropok. I wanted Super Ring but the grocery downstairs didn’t have it. My favorite Cadbury Caramello ice cream was unavailable too so I went with Bulla, another Australian brand from Victoria. 🍨

We also checked out the newly opened Daboba in Subang Jaya Boba Street. This is another brown sugar bubble tea but with a cheese topping. You’re supposed to drink the cheese foam first before mixing it in. They blowtorch and caramelize the top of the foam with sugar so it tastes really good. Innovative and tasty, this is the best we’ve had on this street. 🥤

I felt like having chicken rice on Saturday night so we went to Kar Heong in SS14 for my steamed kampung chicken rice fix. They have one of the best chicken rice in my area. Kar Heong’s chilli sauce is the bomb! The other place I like is Kong Sai in Puchong but Mandy doesn’t like their onion oil. 🐔

We also got some 🍢 tofu…

…and bean sprouts. 🌱

I got to eat everything I wanted during my birthday weekend. Happy 38th to me! 🎂 Now to get back on my diet. I really stuffed myself last weekend.

Sibu Ching Ming Trip Part II: Mom’s Grave ⚰️, Sarawak Laksa 🍜, Starbucks Sibu ☕, Central Market 🍖, Dinner @ Grandma’s 👵, Ah Beng Photo 🤙, Chip Chung Beef Noodles 🐄, Ak Kia Foochow Noodles 🦑

We woke up bright and early the next day to head to my mom’s grave. 🌞 This isn’t a grave per se – it’s more like a tomb. The arrangement here is an above-ground sealed chamber where the coffin slides in. It’s not buried underground. Someone slides a slab of concrete over the entrance after the coffin goes in and seals it up with cement. I believe this is common in Christian cemeteries to observe how Jesus was entombed.

I helped clean up the grave and we sang hymns and my dad led everyone in prayer. That’s what we do during Ching Ming. It’s more like a remembrance thing for Christians. ✝️ There’s no burning of incense or hell paper and there are no offerings of food or fruit, although we prepared a flower arrangement. My aunts were there too, as well as Mandy.

We all went to Aloha Café in Sibu for breakfast after that. This is one of our favorite coffee shops in Sibu, primarily due to the Sarawak Laksa here. 🍜 Mandy loves laksa so I brought her here to check out arguably the best one in Sibu. She said the Sarawak laksa I cooked tasted a lot better. Hehe.

My dad went for his favorite Sibu style char kueh tiaw. This is fried with an egg omelette on top, a unique local twist. 🍳 It’s kinda like mee goreng Pattaya or omurice, but not completely wrapped. Our kueh tiaw is flat and thick too. I don’t personally like it but plenty of people do.

I went for the interestingly named Fried Kompia. Kompia is a local unleavened baked bread, much like a bagel. 🥯 This stall uses the kompia as the base for frying. This reminds me of the Kothu Roti I had in Sri Lanka. I wouldn’t say it tasted good but it’s certainly novel! Good to see people trying new twists and takes on existing local food, although I’ll never order it again.

I also got Kompia with Cheese. 🧀 These are baked kompia with minced meat (pork) filling, with the addition of a small slice of processed cheddar cheese. It tasted pretty good though. I would order this again although I prefer deep fried kompia and kompia soaked in gravy.

We needed a caffeine boost after that so I went with Mandy to Starbucks Sibu. ☕ This is the biggest Starbucks in Malaysia! It’s housed in its own two-storey building – a vast, open space. I didn’t even know this was the biggest Starbucks in Malaysia until a Sarawak Tourism video mentioned it.

The place is clean and spacious so we sat here in the comfortable sofas for a while. 🛋️ They even have a meeting room here!

I had my usual Iced Americano while Mandy went for a Frappucino. 🥤

Thus energized, we headed to the Central Market. Sibu Central Market is the biggest covered market in Malaysia. I also didn’t know that until a few years back. Haha. There are a lot of interesting, hyper-local products – produce you can only find in the jungles of Borneo. 🌴 It’s very interesting!

One of those examples is Keranji Madu. This is a type of dry fruit with a soft, crackable shell and a seed coated with sweet fibres. 🌰 I convinced the girl to sell me a small amount for RM 3. I remember eating this in my childhood when my dad bought some but I haven’t eaten it in decades. I can’t say it’s delicious but it’s an interesting fruit.

This is not salak fruit. We have that here but it’s not in season. This is another local fruit which I forgot the name of. It looks very similar to salak but is smaller and clumps together. 🍇

There are chickens nicely wrapped and ready for takeaway! 🐔 This is a Sibu invention – wrapping live chickens in newspapers and binding them with nylon string so they’re easy to purchase and transport back.

Mandy tried a local avocado ice cream which is made by hand churning. 🥑 It’s made from a powder mix so don’t get your hopes up about the flavour. It tastes quite artificial.

We saw some huge specimens of freshwater big head prawn. 🦐

I bought some ang chao (fermented red rice wine sediments) to bring back to KL. 🍷 These are not sold openly since wine brewing requires a license so they have to sell these under the table. RM 1 got me a sizable amount!

The most interesting item we purchased is engkabang butter. This is frequently called “butter from the rainforest”. 🏞️ It’s made with oil extracted from the engkabang fruit. This becomes a paste that’s stored in short lengths of bamboo and sold to be mixed into rice.

A small tube can cost RM 20-40 depending on the diameter! 🎍 I tried this the other weekend and it tasted quite unfamiliar. Unusual, but I can see myself getting into it. It’s like century eggs – a taste which may not be immediately appealing but can get quite addictive if you let it.

That night, we had dinner at my grandma’s. 👵 My popo just celebrated her 90th birthday and she has met Mandy during CNY over Facebook Live. This is the first time she’s seen her in person though. We had sweet and sour fish, mayo prawns, pork leg, dabai, chai bo – all my favorite dishes! I ate till I was stuffed and then ate some more. I wanted to be dangerously close to puking.

We went to a local mall after that to walk off all the calories. My niece and nephew were also in town and they wanted to get some toys. He’s really into Beyblades. I found a new dry type instant noodles – BruMee Kollo Mee Goreng. 🇧🇳 This is made in Brunei and quite expensive due to the exchange rate. Sarawak is adjacent to Brunei so we get their imports sometimes. The noodles aren’t really good but it’s spicy and Mandy enjoyed them.

I also bought a ciplak coconut ice cream to share with Mandy. 🥥 This is a ghetto Sibu version made with powder coconut cream (santan) so it tastes unpleasant and grainy. I struggle to find anything good to say about this ice cream. It’s like someone saw the success of coconut ice cream and made an El Cheapo knockoff version which only appeals to the unrefined palate of the least well-traveled local.

We wanted to eat Chip Chung beef noodles the next day so we woke up bright and early. 🐄 Their beef noodles sell out by 9 am and they start operating before 5 am! This is definitely something for the early birds. Our family used to eat this when they were located at the old Chopsticks in town but we haven’t had it since they moved.

Their noodles are tossed with a delicious garlic sauce instead of the normal kolo/kampua mee mixture. I remember this distinctive taste from childhood. This is how I developed a love for garlic. The springy and garlicky noodles go very well with their beef soup. 😋

The soup is served separately with a variety of beef slices and offal inside. 🥣 The hearty and savory soup is also something I’ve missed. I highly recommend this place but be warned, the lady can be a bit grumpy during service so don’t over-customize your order. She’s very friendly when she’s not busy though. My only complaint is the serving sizes, which can be too small for big eaters. The beef noodles here are excellent otherwise.

I had used up all my clothes so I picked something from my old wardrobe to wear. ✨ Behold my Ah Beng past in all its glory! Trust me, these hooks and chains were the height of fashion back in the day. Positively haute couture.

We were flying back to KL that afternoon so we could squeeze in one final spot for lunch. I decided on Ak Kia Foochow Fried Noodles. This is their fully loaded Foochow fried noodles with lots of pork slices and pork liver. 🐖 It’s the bomb! Ak Kia is known for some of the best Foochow fried noodles in town and these don’t disappoint!

I also ordered their Seafood Fried Noodles. This is another fully loaded plate with shrimp, fish slices and squid. 🦑 The noodles are cooked in white sauce instead of black soy sauce and it also tastes amazing. We both couldn’t decide which one we liked better. This was definitely a perfect meal to end our Sibu trip.

I only go back once or twice every year but I enjoy every trip back to my hometown. I spent most of my childhood here and I enjoy the flavors of Sibu. It’s my first time bringing Mandy back to meet my family too and that was fulfilling! 👫

Weekend Update: Burnin’ Pit 🔥, The Ice Cream Bar 🍨, Samyang Jjolbokki Buldak Noodles 🌶️, Ayam Pongteh 🐔

I hardly ever go to Desa Sri Hartamas nowadays coz it’s so far from my house. I like the place though – it’s a small community of Korean 🇰🇷 and Japanese 🇯🇵 expats and the F&B options there reflects this unique demographic. Our dinner plans for date night was to start out at The Café Chicken for Korean Fried Chicken. This was previously named WOW Chicken.

I was misled by Google into thinking The Café Chicken was still open. Upon venturing up to the dingy first floor, I popped my head into a dodgy bistro and asked where it was. One of the staff inside told me it’s permanently closed. 🔒 We walked around the area and Mandy suggested Burnin’ Pit. Burnin’ Pit serves Texas style BBQ – a variety of meats grilled low and slow.

The space that holds Burnin’ Pit is open and inviting, with lots of incandescent lights. The place is mostly staffed by Filipinos, although I believe they’re pork free. They serve alcohol though so they wouldn’t be eligible for a halal certificate. I indulged in a Carlsberg draft – only RM 8.54 during happy hour! 🍺

Mandy ordered pulled lamb (RM 22/100 g – 200 grams minimum order) 🐑 and I went for their beef brisket (RM 22/100 g – 200 grams minimum order) 🐄. We also got one side each – Mac and Cheese (RM 7.50) 🧀 and Mashed Potatoes with Beef Bacon (RM 7.50) 🥔. The beef brisket was nice and smoky and we also enjoyed the pulled lamb. The sides were a bit meh but edible. They also gave us 2 complimentary buttery dinner rolls (good).

Overall Burnin’ Pit’s meat products were good. I wanted to try their percik chicken but we were too stuffed from our order. Everything was so rich and heavy – even the sides were laden with cream and cheese so you can’t eat a lot without feeling jelak. Service was prompt and attentive. 💁 The prices were a little on the high side– our bill came up to RM 129.40 – but reasonable for the area and food.

This is a nice place to satisfy your meat cravings. 🍖

After dinner, we headed over to The Ice Cream Bar for dessert. This is run by Inside Scoop but under a different brand so they can do non-halal flavors. They did a partnership with Singleton (the single malt whisky) to produce a range of Singleton Select flavors. 🥃 They have a lot of alcoholic ice creams on offer, and they taste really good too!

One problem with alcohol ice cream flavors is that they’re sometimes done purely for the novelty factor. I’ve had beer and Red Bull vodka ice cream in Tongue Fun, Bangkok – all very dismal. The ones at The Ice Cream Bar is excellent though. We had Guinness Chocolate Brownie and Bacardi Chocolate Crunch in their homemade cone. They also had White Rabbit ice cream, which we tried but didn’t order. 🐇

Since we’re in Desa Sri Hartamas, I thought a visit to a Korean grocery shop was in order. We walked around and Mandy bought a melon milk drink priced at a staggering RM 10 for a small bottle. 🍈 I found the new Jjolbokki Buldak Bokkeum Myeon by Samyang at a more reasonable RM 22.40 for a pack of 4. I also picked up a really cheap box of Korean jjajang mixture for RM 7.50.

I cooked two packets of the Samyang Jjolbokki Buldak later that night. 🍜 Wow. Just wow. I eat Samyang new releases without fail coz I love instant noodles but I mostly left unimpressed. The only recent one I liked was Samyang Jjajang last year. But none left a huge impression on me until Samyang Jjolbokki – the noodles are insanely chewy!

It’s so textural and pleasurable to eat. Nyum nyum nyum. The crispy fried chicken cracker topping tastes like Mamee Chicken and  goes so well with the gummy noodles. It’s a non-stop mochi party in your mouth! I need to get more of this.

Sunday was my cooking day and I made a huge pot of ayam pongteh with 4 kg of chicken legs. 🍗 I haven’t made this in a long time and I’ve been craving for it. I fried lots of shallots, red onions, garlic and Bombay onions in sesame oil before adding potatoes, taucu (fermented bean paste), dark soy sauce, sucralose, fish sauce and chicken stock. I also chopped the chicken legs into drums and thighs so it’s easier to store.

Mandy wanted some vegetables so I cooked a medley of green peas, baby corn, broccoli and oyster mushrooms in oyster sauce. 🍄 I really liked how this turned out. I only pan fried them for a while so everything is still crunchy and fresh. The oyster mushrooms tasted really savory and umami!

The chicken was good too but overtly oily. You need to skim the top of the bowl coz there’s an oil slick there after cooking this amount of chicken. 4 kg of chicken can make the pot look like the Exxon oil spill! 🛢️ However, it’s hard to do when the gravy is still hot and solid. I usually do it the next day after it’s been refrigerated – the fat rises to the top and solidifies, making it easily skimmable.

We ended dinner with Tillamook Monster Cookie ice cream. 🍦 This is a delicious concoction of cookie dough ice cream, salty peanut butter, crispy oats and M&M type candies. I’ve been indulging a bit too much though. Mandy assures me I’m not fat but I think she has a secret agenda to make me overweight and unattractive. I need to diet stating today.

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 Is Out! Here Are My Reviews. 📝 Looking Forward to Dewakan – First Malaysian Restaurant on the List!

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants winners are out! 🙌 I’ve eaten at 6 (soon to be 7) of the restaurants in the list, including 2 restaurants from the Top 10 (Gaggan and Burnt Ends). 🤤 This list is starting to get a lot of traction – it’s not exactly a rival to the Michelin Guide yet, but widely considered as authoritative. ✅ The 50 Best list also goes into countries where the Michelin Guide doesn’t have a presence. Here are my reviews on the ones I’ve been to:

1. Odette (Singapore)
2. Gaggan (Bangkok, Thailand) 🌟🌟
3. Den (Tokyo, Japan)
4. Sühring (Bangkok, Thailand)
5. Florilège (Tokyo, Japan)
6. Ultraviolet (Shanghai, China)
7. Mume (Taipei, Taiwan)
8. Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)
9. Nihonryori Ryugin (Tokyo, Japan)

10. Burnt Ends (Singapore) 🌟
11. The Chairman (Hong Kong)
12. Otto e Mezzo (Hong Kong)
13. Mingles (Seoul, South Korea)
14. La Cime (Osaka, Japan)
15. Belon (Hong Kong)
16. Gaa (Bangkok, Thailand)
17. Indian Accent (New Delhi, India)
18. Il Ristorante – Luca Fantin (Tokyo, Japan)

19. Bo.Lan (Bangkok, Thailand) 🌟
20. Le Du (Bangkok, Thailand)
21. Amber (Hong Kong)

22. Nahm (Bangkok, Thailand) 🌟
23. Sazenka (Tokyo, Japan)
24. La Maison de la Naure Goh (Fukuoka, Japan)
25. Sushi Saito (Tokyo, Japan)
26. L’Effervescence (Tokyo, Japan)
27. Jade Dragon (Macau, China)
28. Paste (Bangkok, Thailand)
29. Fu He Hui (Shanghai, China)
30. Raw (Taipei, Taiwan)
31. Shoun RyuGin (Taipei, Taiwan)
32. Jaan (Singapore)
33. Les Amis (Singapore)
34. Vea (Hong Kong)
35. Ministry of Crab (Sri Lanka)
36. Wing Lei Palace (Macau)
37. Neighborhood (Hong Kong)
38. Lung King Heen (Hong Kong)

39. Nouri (Singapore) 🌟

40. Waku Ghin (Singapore) 🌟🌟
41. Toc Toc (Seoul, South Korea)
42. Locavore (Bali, Indonesia)
43. Toyo Eatery (Manila, Philippines)
44. Seventh Son (Hong Kong)
45. Quintessence (Tokyo, Japan)
46. Dewakan (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
47. Sugalabo (Tokyo, Japan)
48. Sorn (Bangkok, Thailand)
49. Corner House (Singapore)
50. Ta Vie (Hong Kong)

All the restaurants above have at least 1 Michelin star. Gaggan and Waku Ghin has 2 Michelin stars. You can read more of my Michelin star reviews here. My Michelin star restaurant reviews are mostly in Singapore and Bangkok but there are some from Japan (1 Michelin star Isezushi in Otaru, Sapporo) and Paris, France (2 Michelin star Le Relais Louis XIII) whenever I go on vacation.

However, the big news this year is Malaysia’s first entry into this illustrious list! 😱 Dewakan is the first Malaysian restaurant to make it into Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants at #46. 🇲🇾 I’ve heard about this restaurant helmed by Chef Darren Teoh but I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet. Their website mentions they only do dinner with two menus – 9-course Menu Nusantara (RM 300 nett) and the longer 15-course Menu Kayangan (RM 370 nett)

My birthday is coming up next week, so what better time to check out Dewakan? 🎉 Psst…this is my real birthday this time 🎂, not the “birthdays” I’ve enjoyed multiple times at places like Shinji by Kanesaka. 😄 I’ll report back with a full review of the food at Malaysia’s first restaurant to be listed in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants! The other restaurants on the list are all very solid, so I’m looking forward to it.

Weekend Update: Crème de la Crème, Burger Mbira, Ang Chow Pork Belly with Engkabang Butter Rice

Mandy loves unicorns and desserts so I thought Crème de la Crème (CDLC) would be the perfect spot for our weekend date night. This is a new place that just opened a few days ago in Damansara Uptown. They’re a specialty ice cream shop with handcrafted ice cream made in-store. We actually popped by during dinner time so we could try these frozen delights when we’re hungry.

They have an interesting range of creative ice cream desserts from Beauty and the Beast (a rose shaped dark chocolate and Madagascar vanilla ice cream creation) to Da Bomb (which is shaped like one of those antique spherical bombs with a fuse running from the top). They’re all very beautiful and no doubt crafted for the Instagram crowd.

Mandy chose Unicorn (RM 22) – a Madagascar vanilla ice cream with lychee and raspberry sorbet, white chocolate dip and a pastel meringue. It looks like a very pretty Magnum, and I like the eyelashes, which really brings this unicorn together. The vanilla is good, contrasted by the sour sorbet components.

I went for the Longevity (RM 25) – Japanese matcha and black sesame ice cream with mango yuzu compote, lemon curd, matcha sponge and white chocolate dip. This reminded me of the bao that came out in Pixar’s recent animation. The Oriental components work well together but I’m not the biggest fan of black sesame – would not have ordered it if I had bothered reading the description. I’ll be the first to admit I choose based on presentation. Haha.

We wanted to try their Unicorn Drink (RM 18) but it was sold out on that day. We both didn’t want coffee coz it was late so we had another dessert instead – two scoops of ice cream! I chose Roasted Pistachio (very good and burnt tasting) and she had Kaya and Toast (the bread bits are super crunchy).

I really liked their store made ice cream. They have very different flavors and local twists and the ice cream is well made. I particularly enjoyed their roasted pistachio. The burnt and toasted notes really come through. It’s a flavour profile I really enjoy. 10/10.

There are lots of spots where you can take photos for the ‘gram too. Most new F&B spots prioritize these feature walls nowadays.

The bill came up to RM 76.10. Not cheap for a dessert outing but on par with similar establishments. We ordered a little too much and it was cloying to eat so much sweet stuff but sharing one of their mini ice cream cakes or having a scoop of ice cream each would have been perfect!

We needed something salty after that (and we haven’t had dinner) so we headed to Burger Mbira around the corner. This place has good reviews and I read an article that (falsely) claimed Burger Mbira makes their own patties. This is untrue – they use Ramly beef burger patties as can be seen by the stack beside their grill. I asked if they have homemade ones and they said they do not, they only use additional toppings like hash browns to add some zest to their offerings.

I went for the Deluxe Big and Tasty (Beef) as recommended by the lady. This was a standard Ramly beef patty topped with a chicken slice and crispy hash brown. It’s not bad and I like the crunchy hash brown inside the burger. However, it took 40 minutes for the burger to arrive. That’s an insanely long wait for what is essentially a Ramly burger with a few pre-made, store-bought flairs.

Mandy had the Chicken Spicy Deluxe. This patty may be homemade or perhaps they just deep fried a regular Ramly chicken burger patty. It doesn’t taste extraordinary. There’s nothing remotely gourmet about the burgers here – these are merely street corner burgers masquerading as something more with a few off-the-shelf items added. It’s like The Mac’s in USJ – I don’t see why we should be glorifying mediocre food assembled with store-bought ingredients. Give this a pass. You can get way better burgers at places like myBurgerLab.

On Sunday, I decided to cook engkabang butter rice! I bought two sticks of these beauties in Sibu – one for RM 20 and the other RM 15. Engkabang is a type of nut in Borneo and the locals extract the oils and make it into a paste, which is then sold in short bamboo lengths. You just push the inner tube of engkabang butter out and let it dissolve in warm rice. It has an unusual jungle-y nut taste which is quite addictive!

I also bought some ang chow (red yeast rice wine sediments) in Sibu and I used it to cook pork belly. This is more fried than stewed. I first stir-fried ginger in hot sesame oil before adding pork belly slices, ang chow and other seasonings. It tasted really good paired with the engkabang butter rice! One of my better recipes.

I also bought a honeydew coz Mandy loves honeydew but unfortunately, it wasn’t sweet. No worries, we’ll just make this into juice. 👌

Somersby Sparkling White cider launch @ The Majapahit, Marc Residence KLCC

Malaysians were the first outside of Europe to sample Somersby Sparkling White – a newly launched cider inspired by white wine. It’s less sweet than their regular offerings and pairs well with the traditional white wine pairings of seafood, white meat, ham and cheese.

Somersby is targeted more towards females and youth and as I remembered, there were lots of young female Instagrammers at their previous event. This had nothing to do with my decision to attend though. Honest.

Carlsberg events are the only events I attend with any kind of regularity nowadays. I barely registered the eye candy. I’m in a fulfilling relationship and my eyes feel no need to feast on supplementary flesh.

Except for oysters. I love the oyster bar they had set up coz raw oysters are one of those things I love to eat but am too cheap to order in restaurants. I will happily partake if someone else is picking up the bill though.

I also indulged in the delicious shrimp skewers they had. These are only the hors d’oeuvres, mind. They also had a dinner spread for later.

The featured foods also included cheese and cold cuts – all things that go well with Somersby Sparkling White cider. I liked how they only served the new cider at first so everyone gets a chance to try it out.

The Sparkling White wine rack was really cool! This is a tall, backlit display that was perfect as a photo op. There’s a Somersby Sparkling White Kombi van parked at the exterior, which proved very popular with the Instagram crowd too.

There was a launch event by the MD of Carlsberg Malaysia, Lars Lehmann, before dinner was served.

The buffet dinner was quite upscale – none of the usual suspects you find in similar setups. This event featured whole giant grouper fish, huge deep-fried king prawns, sliced beef steak, and crispy BBQ chicken wings. I regretted eating so much for lunch. I wish I had saved space for this spread.

Entertainment was also provided throughout the night with a live band performance featuring Janet Lee as the vocalist and a violin performance by Grace Tan.

I really enjoyed the new Somersby Sparkling White cider. It’s very easy to drink, without being too cloying. One of my gripes about the regular Somersby line is that it’s too sweet. As someone who prefers hoppy beer and peaty whiskey, I don’t enjoy saccharine notes in my alcohol. Somersby Sparkling White strikes the perfect balance between sweet and refreshing – without any of the dry acidic notes which some people dislike in white wine.

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