✈️ 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!

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.

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. 🍞

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! 👫

Sibu Ching Ming Trip Part I: Malu Apa Bosco? Big Prawn Noodles at Bosco Café, Sibu Pasar Malam, Kompia Burger, Ruby Restaurant

I just came back from a short trip back to Sibu to clean my mom’s grave. It’s Ching Ming, an annual practice by Chinese for remembrance of the dead. I brought along Mandy along and the first thing she wanted to eat was Foochow red wine mee sua. We headed to Happiness Café in Delta – they do one of the better versions in town. I wanted to eat kampua mee but I couldn’t resist ordering this too.

It’s a new stall selling kompia burger! Technically, this is chu nu miang – the sweet and soft version of kompia. I think it’s called thus coz chu nu means virgin in Foochow and virgins are supposed to be sweet and soft. Don’t quote me on that though. My Chinese is terrible and I could be making all these up. I asked the two ladies manning the stall if it’s their own stall but it turns out they’re only working here and couldn’t tell me the background of the stall.

The stall is called Zen Don Bin and they have different types of kompia burgers with beef, sausage and fish fillet patties. I asked for a recommendation and they unreservedly told me the Fish Fillet Burger with Egg and Cheese (RM 3.90) was their bestseller. This actually tasted pretty good! I liked the crunchy fish fillet and the creamy egg with the pillowy soft chu nu miang. Nice!

I also had my kampua mee fix. This is a tossed dry noodle that’s a Sibu specialty. You don’t find a lot of people making this with lard nowadays. There has been a trend of using vegetable oil on the pretext that it’s a healthier option. I suspect it’s also a cost-cutting measure too since lard is significantly more expensive. I love the ones with lard.

Mandy had the Foochow red wine mee sua. This is chicken soup with Foochow unfiltered red wine with sediment. It tastes surprisingly good. I’m not a fan of this dish but they do a really nice version here.

Of course, you can’t leave Sibu without trying the Big Head Prawn Noodles. These are freshwater prawns with huge heads that’s cooked into a Foochow style soup dish. The noodles are fried then boiled and it’s quite a distinctive local taste. The head juice from the prawn heads leach into the soup, adding tons of flavour.

This dish costs RM 38 at Bosco Café, which is considered a reasonable price. A lot of other places charge upwards of RM 50 for this.

My sister came back in the evening with my niece and nephew so we went to pick her up from the airport and headed to Ruby Restaurant for dinner. This is a favorite among our family. The must have dish here is their butter prawns but since my niece is allergic to dairy, we went for the Nestum prawns instead. It’s not as good, but decent.

We also had their famous pandan chicken. These are dark boneless chicken pieces marinated in various spices before being stuffed into a pandan leaf and grilled. It’s smoky, sweet and delicious!

I also ordered midin belacan – a type of jungle fern – for Mandy. You can’t leave Sarawak without tasting midin. It’s a crunchy type of vegetable with a core like okra – ever so slightly slimy.

This is sour lamb, another dish I always order at Ruby. The lamb pieces are tenderized till they’re melt-in-your-mouth and tossed in a sour mayonnaise based sauce. Very delicious!

We also ordered a tapah curry fish head since there were so many of us. Tapah is a local fish that’s similar to catfish. The flesh can be incredibly fatty due to their sedentary lifestyle but it’s a real treat – creamy mouthfeel juxtaposed with firm flesh. This is quite a small fish head but costs RM 63. Tapah is a local favorite so the prices tend to be higher.

The meal came up to RM 186 for the 4 of us plus 2 children. We usually run up at RM 50 bill for two pax so this seems par for the course. I feasted until I was absolutely stuffed! This is one of my favorite places to eat in Sibu.

Mandy has never been to the Sibu pasar malam before so we headed there after our dinner. Our pasar malam has lots of stalls specializing in pork. Sibu is a majority Chinese town so pork is the choice of protein here. You can get various different cuts of meat from pork belly to tail to even a full pig face!

I bought a few pieces of chai kueh and also a crispy apam balik. Both were dismal. I had better versions of both during my Penang day trip for work before coming back to Sibu.

It was still fun to walk around town and do all the things I normally wouldn’t do. It’s nice to see my hometown from the perspective of someone else too!

Part II of my Sibu Ching Ming trip coming soon!

Fraser’s Hill Valentine’s Part II: Strawberry farm, Allan’s Water boat paddling, Restoran Nine Thy Eight KKB seafood dinner and a Valentine’s Day present

I’m not sure who Aida Daniya is but she (?) seems to have taken over Fraser’s Hill with a vengeance. Not only does she have a picturesque tea house, said restaurant overlooks a beautiful garden and there’s also a strawberry nursery named after her. We walked down to the garden after lunch at Aida Daniya Tea House – there are well tended flowers and plenty of spots to take the perfect Instagram photo.

Wake up and smell the flowers! Background: I pretended to be possessed by a female ghost on the drive up. I let her come out to play.

My Mandy was very proud of this photo. 💁‍♀️

I tried to recreate her pose. Unsuccessfully. 💁‍♂️

We tried doing this trendy shot at Sekinchan but failed to get a good photo. This is a better attempt.

The flowers here are exceedingly beautiful – it must be the cool weather here. 🌸 The unforgiving sun down the hill tends to wilt flowers.

We headed over to Fraser’s Hill Strawberry Garden (now renamed Aida Daniya Strawberry Garden) but it was unfortunately closed. Luckily the gate was partially open so we took the opportunity to do a little breaking and entering.

The F&B outlets were closed but the nursery was visible. One strawberry fell down from its vine so I thought it’ll be permissible to consume the strawberry instead of allowing it to rot. I did feel mildly guilty about doing so but hey, it’s not like I plucked the damn thing from its creeper. That would delve into morally questionable territory, perhaps even theft by consumption.

It’s not very delicious but grown locally. 🍓

We also went to Allan’s Water. This is a place run by Tourism Malaysia where you can feed fishes and rent paddle boats for RM 8/15 minutes.

We went on a working weekday so there was no one paddling, just a family feeding the fishes. 🐠

The river section you can use is quite large, but blocked at two ends with strategically placed logs and obstructions so you can’t go too far.

It’s far enough to give you a sense of space and privacy though.

I found it very peaceful and the weather at Fraser’s Hill is perfect for this type of activity. The temperature was in the high teens all morning so you don’t sweat. There’s also a cool breeze going on that makes you feel like you’re in a different (colder) country.

My only complaint was that the life vests provided smells really bad. They probably haven’t been washed in years! It stinks to high heaven. Aside from that, paddling in the water under the mild sun and cool weather with my Mandy was perfect.

We decided to head down for our seafood dinner after so we drove to the Fraser’s Hill Clock Tower for some final photos…

…before making the 1 hour journey to Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB).

We saw a family of monkeys (baboons?) on the windy road down. There was a male who got quite inquisitive and kept trying to look into our stopped car. I think he might have stolen my girlfriend’s handbag had she wound down the window. He looks like that type of monkey. 🐒

Our Valentine’s Day dinner was at Restoran Nine Thy Eight at KKB. Mandy loves crabs and I like Chinese food so a Chinese seafood restaurant was the perfect place to go. This is a sleepy restaurant that serves primarily locals and the occasional out-of-state people heading to Genting or Fraser’s Hill. The owner is very friendly and was happy to recommend several of their signature dishes.

This is Crab Porridge (RM 61.60) which is their flagship specialty. 🦀 It uses a whole crab cooked in very flavorsome porridge topped with some crunchy bits. We hesitated before ordering this coz Mandy likes other ways of cooking crab but she finally decided to give this one a try. It’s what this restaurant is famous for after all.

Here’s what it looks like after it’s been mixed. I’m not a big fan of porridge. I usually find porridge too mild but Restoran Nine Thy Eight does an excellent version of crab porridge. The congee is so flavorful and thick! It’s packed with savory and crab goodness. I finished the lion’s share of this porridge despite not generally liking congee. Delicious!

I also ordered another specialty of theirs – Catfish Steamed with Soy Sauce and Half Boiled Egg (RM 26). 🐟 How unique! I’ve never seen soft boiled egg paired with Chinese style steamed fish. It’s really good! The creamy egg yolk adds richness and mouthfeel to the soft and tender catfish meat. I wish this place was nearer so I can eat this every day. That’s the highest compliment I can give this dish. I want to smash 3 platters of this in a single sitting!

Tofu Cooked with Broccoli and Mushroom (RM 16). 🥦 We ordered this just to fulfil our vegetable quota. It tasted mediocre in comparison to the two other excellent dishes. It probably isn’t bad by in another setting but we’ve just had two superlative dishes so this seemed to pale as a result.

The bill came up to RM 120 for the food and drinks. I ordered a large beer and Mandy had carrot juice. Restoran Nine Thy Eight does their signature dishes very well. I highly recommend it and will be back if I pass by the area again. I’ll like to try their other flagship dishes. The prices are very reasonable too.

We got back home at around 10:30 pm and I presented my girlfriend her Valentine’s Day gift. I noticed her looking at a Swarovski pendant last month and skilfully brought her to Sunway Pyramid to look at other jewellery to see what kind she likes. It wasn’t very subtle but I got to know her tastes and preferences.

I bought her this gold necklace to go with…

…a golden M from Wah Chan’s official Disney Mickey Mouse collection.

This is what the pendant and chain looks like combined. It cost around 1.2k for everything. The M was supposed to stand for Mickey but here it stands for Mandy. It’s a coincidence they both have the same initial.

Happy Valentine’s Day Mandy! I love you. 💕

Fraser’s Hill Valentine’s Part I: Aida Daniya Tea House, steamboat dinner, a gruesome night drive up

I wanted to surprise my girlfriend with a trip to Pulau Ketam (which was our first trip together) on Valentine’s Day, but I thought going again so soon would be diminish the magic. I decided on Fraser’s Hill instead – a cool hilltop destination about 2.5 hours from KL. She’s never been there before and I booked a nice AirBNB on the top floor of Silverpark Resort with amazing views to spend the night.

She has her off day on Thursday (which coincidentally is 14th February) and I won’t start work until the 18th so it’s perfect for a weekday getaway without massive crowds of people. Indeed, Fraser’s Hill was almost deserted. It was also rainy and misty on the way up and I entertained (scared?) Mandy with ghost stories and pretended to be possessed by a female ghost. She was not amused. 😨

I planned this trip a month back and sent her a Powerpoint presentation to detail what I have planned for Valentine’s. Haha. What a corporate thing to do. It came complete with an itinerary, which we managed to complete!

I also arranged for flowers to be delivered to her workplace. I got her 12 roses.

She finished work at 6:30 pm and I flew in from Pontianak at 3 pm and I timed it so I just had enough time to buy ingredients for a steamboat dinner and pick her up from work. It was 10:30 pm by the time we checked into our apartment at Fraser’s Hill.

The place is very nice. It’s a studio unit with two queen beds…

Two balconies – this is the one facing down the hill (too misty to see anything unfortunately but the view is great on a clear day)

And this is the one facing inwards.

There’s also a full kitchen and I decided to cook her a steamboat dinner since it was so late when we got there.

Here’s the spread for the night! I got pork slices, two types of fishballs, bacon, soft tofu, assorted seafood, sausages, broccoli, eggs and mushrooms.

I used a tom yam – chicken stock base with Shaoxing wine and fish sauce. Unfortunately, I spilled the Shaoxing wine and fish sauce all over the back car cushion on the way up. It smells so bad now. I need to get it cleaned.

I also brought up some Mi Sedaap noodles I got from my recent Pontianak trip to enjoy with the steamboat. This is a new type of Mi Sedaap soup noodles with real egg. Only available in Indonesia.

My babe surprised me with a cheesecake that she made herself! She labored over this a few days ago coz she was thinking of what to get me. This is the first cake she has ever baked.

It’s really delicious! I would have said it’s yummy even if it’s not coz she made it for me, but honestly, this tasted great! It’s been contributing to my expanding waistline coz I’ve been eating it everyday since.

The next day we headed over to Aida Daniya Tea House for lunch after checking out. This place has amazing views and a comfortable balcony where you can enjoy the cool breeze and see the beautiful flowers growing at the cultivated park beneath.

This is the view we had sitting at the tables outside.

I ordered a double cappuccino (RM 15) as my morning coffee…

…and we got another couple to take a photo of us at the balcony.

We also ordered their English cream tea for two (RM 38)…

…which came with scones, clotted cream, jam and a selection of cakes and pies. The highlight was the orange cake, the pie and the other cakes were forgettable and the scones weren’t the best.

We also had something called an Irish Chicken (RM 25) which is a gruesome creation of a deep fried chicken roll slathered with mashed potatoes. It doesn’t taste half bad but it didn’t taste good either. The bill came up to RM 85.80. You pay for the scenic views and the nice ambiance, not so much the food. The food was quite mediocre but I enjoyed the quiet and cool surroundings. Recommended if you want a nice place to chill in Fraser’s Hill but manage your expectations on the food.

I love you my Mandy! <3

Part II of our Fraser’s Hill trip coming soon!

Sekinchan: A day trip to Pantai Redang, famous Sekinchan wishing tree, paddy fields, rice factory, bus café, capped with a seafood dinner

I went on a day trip to Sekinchan with Mandy last week. Sekinchan is a small village with fishing and paddy cultivation as its primary industries. It’s a sleepy small town where everyone seems to know each other. One of their most famous landmarks (?) is a tree by the Pantai Redang beach called the Sekinchan Wishing Tree. This is an old looming tree that has strands of red hanging on its branches. People write on red threads and throw it into the air so it hangs from the tree. It’s a wish fulfillment thing.

It makes for a really nice picture!

There is a Chinese temple beside this tree where you can get the red strands of clothes. I can’t read Chinese but there are recommended donation amounts for things like joss sticks. The threads are freely available for the taking but you’re supposed to put in a donation into the box. The donation can be any amount you feel like giving.

You take the red strip of cloth and write whatever you want on the provided table. This is usually a wish you want fulfilled. Mandy wrote both my name and hers in Chinese. Coz this is an Oriental tree, you see. It may not understand English. Haha.

The red cloth has two round metal weights at the end so you just need to lead one and it’ll hook around something. I managed to get it up on the tree on my second try.

Our names in Sekinchan for all eternity, bound by the red threads of fate. Or until a strong wind comes, which is more likely.

Pantai Redang is not a swimming beach. The sand is quite dirty and the water is polluted. However, it’s a nice place to chill and walk with your loved one.

There are stalls at one end of the beach selling seafood dishes and drinks. We got a coconut and took it to a hut by the beach to enjoy.

The best thing about taking leave to come on a weekday is the lack of people around. We had the beach hut all to ourselves and we spent a good hour here talking with our arms around each other. It’s fun. There’s a cool sea breeze, the smell of salt in the air, the warm indirect sun beside you, stray puppies coming to sleep by your feet, and a refreshing drink of coconut within arm’s reach. Bliss.

There’s also an abandoned café (I think) made of red Coca-Cola shipping containers which makes for a good photo opportunity. It has the Coke tagline and Sekinchan on one of the sides. This is my #emoforever contribution.

My beautiful Mandy does it better though. <3

There’s not much to do in Sekinchan. Like I said, it’s a sleepy little town but another place people go to is the Sekinchan Paddy Processing Factory and Museum. The road here is lined with paddy fields.

This is actually just a rice processing factory which has a small museum attached. Entry is RM 5/person and comes with a free small packet of Sekinchan rice.

The tours are guided, which an option of Chinese or English. I learned that rice factories add in 5% broken rice to meet government specifications. The technology is already there to produce 100% unbroken rice but this is more to keep with government regulations on rice price controls.

There are also 3D photo walls inside the museum where you can take photos.

…as well as various old scenes from Sekinchan past. It’s worth the 45 min or so coz there’s little else to do in Sekinchan.

You can also get cendol made with their special Sekinchan brown rice and ice cream there.

Of course, another popular destination in Sekinchan is the No. 16 Sekinchan Bus Café. I’ve written about it in a previous post.

The best part of the café is the photo ops, not the food per se.

Definitely worth a trip if you stick to the cakes and drinks though.

It’s a great place to get the perfect shot for Instagram.

You have to try Sekinchan’s local seafood before you leave. We choose a restaurant at random and ended up at Restoran Pantai Redang. This is a family run seafood location near the beach.

Mandy wanted to have their crabs. This is a crab of around 600-700 grams that’s simply steamed to preserve its original flavor.

It’s very good! Juicy and succulent, much better than the crab we had in Pulau Ketam. I love the Shaoxing wine flavored sauce too.

We saw the owner carrying in two huge fishes. They looked fresh, so we ordered two slices of that as well. It’s also cooked with minimal seasoning. I don’t think Mandy liked it but I really enjoyed the simple, clean flavors. You can only get fish as fresh as this in a fishing village.

Lala cooked in taucu and chillies were very decent as well.

We also ordered huge ass mussels steamed with garlic and rice wine. This was my favorite dish of the meal. They’re only RM 2 each and perfectly steamed so they’re still juicy and plump. This isn’t one of those overcooked mussel dishes you normally see – Mandy made sure to tell the owner to steam it for a short while so it’s barely cooked. Delicious!

It’s important to note that there’s no fancy techniques or complicated sauces at this restaurant. The food is cooked and presented simply, allowing the freshness of the seafood to shine. We both enjoyed the meal and it only came up to RM 127 including beer. Food alone was just RM 93 which is a great price for seafood of this quality. Sekinchan may not be for everyone with its slow pace of living and relatively uncommercialized tourist attractions but both Mandy and I enjoyed it immensely. I love going on trips with her.

No. 16 Bus Café in Sekinchan review: Excellent photos, mediocre food

“Do you want to go to the bus café in Sekinchan that’s inside a real vintage bus?” I asked Mandy. “Oh! That one lots of 小妹妹 (xiao mei mei) go one.” The irony of her reply is that she’s also quite young. She’s 24. Haha. I’m clearing my annual leave so I took yesterday off to go to Sekinchan with my Mandy. I’ve never been to Sekinchan. It’s about 1.5 hours away from KL/PJ and we had fun in another rustic, rural setting (Pulau Ketam) so I thought we’ll enjoy the day trip.

I timed our journey so we’ll arrive at Sekinchan Bus No. 16 Café right when they open for lunch. The café is an air-conditioned bus that’s mounted on a few shipping containers.

The kitchen is inside the shipping containers and the shell of the bus contains the café proper. There’s also al fresco seating at a small balcony to the side but the main draw is the authentic, vintage bus.

These are the types of buses that used to ply Malaysia’s roads. We had the exact same bus in Sibu! The green ones work the Lanang routes. I lived closer to town so I took the red Sungai Merah buses but the fittings are the same.

I remember the dingy interior, faded seats and the large “PRESS ONCE” button you push to let the driver know you want to get down at the next stop.

It’s very nostalgic!

It’s one of those themed cafes that people come to for the perfect Instagram shot. They’re not exactly known for their food. I knew that coming in. I’ve been to a few character cafes in Japan (where the food is generally excellent), only to be disappointed by their dismal attempts at a meal.

You’re here for the environment, not the food. You need to have this mindset when you come to No. 16 Sekinchan Bus Cafe coz the food is very subpar.

They have a very limited and streamlined savory menu under “No. 16 Sekinchan Bus Bento Boxes”. We ordered the chicken chop meal and the Korean fried chicken wings. Unfortunately, they said the Korean fried chicken wings weren’t ready yet so we switched to the Korean-style Chicken Bibimbap.

Mandy had a mango Barbican soda and I had their White Coffee. You can’t go wrong with bottled soda but the brewed white coffee was extremely diluted and borderline tasteless.

Mandy is laughing here coz she thought the shaved ice in the bucket meant to cool your drink is for pouring the drinks into, until I corrected her. Haha.

I thought both our food orders were horrible – I honestly don’t have anything good to say about the mains we ordered except that they’re both dreadful. Food isn’t their forte. I compared it unfavorably with airline food! Service was also spotty – the Chinese girl was disinterested and low-energy but the Malay girl fared better. Another gripe of mine is that the bus was way too stuffy during the afternoon heat despite the air-conditioning going full blast. I shudder to imagine how hot it’ll be with more people inside.

We also ordered their Dark Chocolate Cheese Cake with a LEGO chocolate dude on top. I did enjoy the malty chocolate cake – it tasted like it was made with Ovaltine, which is a nostalgia tinged memory for me. This was the only thing I enjoyed. I recommend you go for the cakes and drinks if you want to meet the minimum RM 30 per table spending. This minimum spend is only for weekends and public holidays though. We were hungry so we ordered a full meal. Our bill came up to RM 59 for two.

I really like the ambiance of No. 16 Sekinchan Bus Café. You can get excellent photos here. It was also empty when we came so we could take as many photos as we wanted. Don’t come here for the food coz you’ll be sorely disappointed. Think of it more like rent for use of their photography studio e.g. the bus café. I loved going with Mandy coz she’s really good with photos and she’s interested in taking nice photos so we had fun here.

Whether you’ll enjoy it depends on what you want to get out of this experience.

Pulau Ketam Trip Day 2: Exploring the island, electric bicycles, oyster omelet, haunted house, and a remarkable coincidence

Pulau Ketam isn’t very big but it might take you a while to walk around the island. Most people get by on electric bikes or regular bicycles. Electric bicycles usually go for RM 20/hour but our homestay rented them to us at RM 15/hour, so off we went to explore the habitated areas. There are 2 primary schools and a secondary school on the island so there’s a good amount of younger folks still here.

The main commercial area by the jetty is sleepy on the weekends though. It has a very familiar small town vibe. Both Mandy and I are from Sarawak so we felt very comfortable here. You can hear snippets of Teochow and Heng Hua, old ladies with curly hair smoking cigarettes, and men with Buddhist tattoos undergoing traditional Chinese cupping while seated on low stools. This can be any rural town in Sarawak – Serian, Lundu, Batang Ai.

Most of the shops serve some kind of noodle dish in the mornings so we went to a random one. Interestingly, all the coffee shops had their shutters half closed and lights off to save electricity but they’re actually open.

Mandy ordered a kueh tiaw soup dish with several different types of fishballs. This tasted peppery and mild. She didn’t like it and ended up eating my noodles.

I went for a dry tossed noodle with pork, shrimp, and boiled eggs. This tasted good but unfortunately I didn’t get to eat much of it. Mandy swapped her noodles with mine after tasting my superior order. I don’t really enjoy soup noodles but I’m a nice guy so I exchanged with her.

We also ordered 3 coffees from the next coffee shop. This one only had canned drinks and they asked us to order from their neighboring shop if we wanted brewed drinks. You can only do this in small towns where the competition is less and the spirit of cooperation is higher.

Thus satiated and fueled with caffeine, we went to Lover’s Bridge. This was marked as a tourist attraction on official Pulau Ketam maps but in reality, it’s just a rickety arch bridge. It’s good for photos though.

Mandy is pointing at the richest person in Pulau Ketam. Haha. This house is so different from the wooden structures surrounding it. Modern, sleek and tall, it’s the highest point on the island.

There’s also an old cinema beside the Lover’s Bridge. It’s amazing to think that at one point, the population of Pulau Ketam was large and vibrant enough to support a theatre as big as this one. 👏

Mandy randomly asked me what my IC number was and we found out that our last 4 digits were in sequence! What a coincidence! These checksum numbers are always odd if you’re male and even if you’re female so we can’t be the same but having ours in order is serendipitous.

It was an extremely hot day so we went to get some ABC (shaved ice dessert) to cool down. Our homestay told us about this stall, which he says has the best ABC on the island.

It was pretty good! There’s peanuts, nata de coco, jellies, cendol and all the trimmings underneath a mound of shaved ice and gula Melaka.

We sat with the owner, who told us many tales about the history and origin of the people who’re now at Pulau Ketam. He had a stroke a few years ago so his daughters run the stall, which is actually a shaved ice machine in front of their home.

We also went to the temple opposite which has very old tortoises and a huge, long python. Their toilets are very interesting too – little more than a carved rectangle on the floor. There’s no sewage system in Pulau Ketam. All human waste goes into the sea and it’s washed out by the tides.

We decided to cycle to the furthest end of the island until we couldn’t go any further. All the paths here are made of wooden boards on top of stilts. Only the main jetty and commercial area has concrete roads. It’s very exciting.

The view on the bridges that connects the island is nice towards the further regions of Pulau Ketam. You can see fishing boats moored to the individual jetties connected to houses. This is a less commercialized area of the island.

There was a very friendly woman running a drinks and snacks stand near the end of the island. We stopped there for a couple of beers. She told us she’s from Klang and come down during weekends to stay with her mom and run the stand. It’s a good place to refuel. She’s one of those people with natural PR skills.

We found an abandoned wooden house with creaking, rickety floorboards that would make a perfect photo op. The floorboards were so rotten we nearly fell through into the sea a few times.

I did a cool pose (or so I thought) and I ended up looking like such a sissy we couldn’t stop laughing for a good 3 minutes. In my defense, this looked manly and casual when conceived in my mind. The execution and angle could have been better though. 😄

Here’s a proper one so you can get rid of the previous mental image.

This is my favorite photo of us. I love the emo vibe. I told her to do a sad pose. #emoforever

We went back to Remember Me Restaurant to have o chien (oyster omelet) and a beer. This isn’t as good as the ones you’ll get in Penang or Kuching but edible. Especially on vacation since everything tastes better when you’re having fun.

The ones here are gooey and soggy instead of the crispy variant we get in Kuching but they’re both equally good.

It was a good overnight trip! Pulau Ketam is a chill and relaxing place that’s perfect for a weekend getaway. It’s not too far from KL or PJ either – just a 40 min drive and a 30 min boat trip away. I can see why people like it here. I’ll definitely be back someday.

Goodbye Pulau Ketam! We made great memories here and we’ll miss you. 🦀

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