aloha us

48 hours. 3 meals. We went to my grandma’s house for dinner on the 15th day of Chinese New Year so these are the selected places we ate at last weekend in Sibu when my dear came over.

1. Sarawak Laksa @ Aloha Cafe

laksa stall

My better half had wanted to eat Sarawak Laksa for ages so this was the first place we went to. It was early in the morning, I had just dropped off my dad at the airport and we were heading back to town for breakfast when my dad commented that Aloha Cafe has the best Sarawak Laksa in town.

sarawak laksa
Regular (RM 5) Sarawak Laksa

Everyone has a favorite place but I personally don’t like the dish that much. However, I haven’t eaten it for years so I ordered a Sarawak Laksa Supreme (RM 10). My dear wanted to go for the regular one (RM 5) but I convinced her to have the special (RM 7). The difference in prices is from the prawns, not the amount of noodles.

sibu laksa

The RM 10 dish has the largest prawns while the RM 5 has tiny shrimp meant for regular cooking. The RM 7 option lies somewhere in between – the prawns are large, but nowhere near the jumbo shrimp of the RM 10 dish.

big prawn laksa
L-R: RM 7 and RM 10 Sarawak Laksa with jumbo shrimp

Just look at the size of the monsters!

big prawns

Aloha Cafe is right behind my alma mater so I used to eat here when I was in high school. There’s a rather interesting signage that says that they won’t be serving 170 ml cup-and-saucer drinks anymore. These are the old school glass receptacles that hot drinks used to be served in, my late granddad loves pouring the coffee into the saucer to cool it down before sipping it. The regular glasses was considered “large” back then.

aloha drinks

I thought it was a rather interesting passing-of-an-age.

2. Cafe Cafe

cafe cafe sibu

Back in the early 90′s, there was one “cool” restaurant in town to hang out at. It was called Country Cafe and all of us high school kids went there during weekends. The place serves all sorts of food, including some wonderful fusion dishes that other places in Sibu didn’t have back then. One of the guys that I hung out with was called Peter, a classmate of mine who dreamt of opening his own cafe.

noodle house

15 years later, he opened Cafe Cafe and it was a resounding success and led to many other restaurants and last I heard, he was starting a new one in Kuching. My dear hasn’t been here before so I brought her here for our (belated) Valentine’s Day dinner.

mee mamak

The Mee Mamak (RM 11) is a localized version of the nationwide favorite, with lots of tomato and chilli sauce. It’s probably the dish that gets ordered the most coz the portion is HUGE and it’s relatively cheap. I had fond memories of this and I ordered one to share with my dear and it’s still as good as I remembered it, although a more refined palate tells me it’s really not that great, nostalgia wins out for this one. smirk

salmon lemon butter

My dear went for the Norwegian Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce (RM 28). We were rather interested in seeing if they took the time to pluck out all the bones from the fish and it turns out that they did! The sauce was good but it’s ultimately frozen salmon and you can taste that in the plated dish, which isn’t generally a good sign.

chicken maltaise sauce

I went for the Breaded Chicken with Spicy Prawn Sauce (RM 19). Unfortunately, they had run out of the sauce, so I switched it to Maltaise Sauce – an orange and Hollandaise blend. I really liked the chicken – the portion was good and it was from a cut that I enjoy, but what takes the cake is the Maltaise sauce. It’s delicious!

molten lava cake

However, there was barely a *spoonful* of the lovely sauce on my dish, so I think they were running low on it as well. It would have been perfect if I had more sauce to go with the chicken. It was a nice dinner though, loved the chill ambiance at the back instead of the noisy booths in front.

3. Noodle House

honey wings kampua

This is where we went for our kampua fix before flying back to KL. I had the Sizzling Honey Chicken Wings Kampua (RM 13.50) while my dear went for the Sizzling Spicy Seafood Kampua (RM 13.50). I wanted to try the new Sizzling Beef Rendang Kampua though but my better half doesn’t eat beef so I went chicken instead.

sibu kampua

Noodle House has good Sibu local fare in a cafe format and I like the concept. We also ordered some kompia stuffed with pork meat.

kompia sibu

My dear wanted to try their Crème Brulee but I convinced her to go for the Molten Lava Chocolate Cake instead. It’s absolutely fabulous – easily the best dessert I’ve eaten in Sibu. The hot molten chocolate oozes out from the mud cake when you break it open with a spoon.

molten lava choc

There’s also a scoop of ice cream and a dusting of cocoa powder to top things off. Lovely stuff.

sibu forever

We had chosen the places we wanted to eat at wisely and managed to go to all, except another visit to Payung Cafe, which was closed for Sunday lunch. It’s a good weekend trip back home! :D

fatt bakery

Well, or so my dad says. Haha! Everyone has their favorite kompia stall. The humble kompia is a bagel-like pastry that supposedly was strung around the neck of soldiers back in China (coz they have a tiny hole in each of them, like a donut) and eaten for sustenance in the battlefield.

flavoured kompia

I don’t know about that but people in Sibu have been snacking on them for ages. Fatt Bakery still does their kompia the old school way – slapped around a brick oven. It’s cooked by the ambient heat from the brick/stone oven – a lot of places uses a regular, modern oven now and it tastes totally different.

buttermilk kompia

Fatt Bakery does have one tasty new innovation though – buttermilk kompia! The sweet filling is placed inside the regular kompia and it sells for about 30 cents each (RM 2 for 6 pieces). Look at how it’s made to the left of the photo above! They also have pandan, custard and coconut flavors.

making kompia

Kompia actually only refers to the sesame seed covered, slightly salty variant. The larger and sweeter version is called chu nu piang. I loved this as a kid while my sister preferred the chewy kompia.

kompia sibu

Fatt Bakery does a brisk business though. There were people waiting in line to get the kompia while the husband and wife team prepares them in the open bakery. I had to walk around a bit to find it but it’s *opposite* the Sibu market, near the pork section. My better half loved the buttermilk kompia too!

I should have gotten more – we got a whole bunch back for her parents too! :)

2013 mooncakes

Yup, it’s the annual Mid-Autumn Mooncake Roundup! Oh wait, I don’t think I ever had one. Haha! I believe one of my first mooncake posts was in 2004 – a review on a rather nice licensed S.H.E. limited edition mooncake set. I’ve also made my own mooncakes before.

There’s three batches of mooncakes I got from 3 different manufacturers this year – most of them *new flavors* for 2013:

tai thong mooncake

1. Tai Thong

This is the first mooncake I ate this year. My girlfriend bought it and gave to me coz she knows I love durian mooncakes!

Snow Skin Durian Coulis (RM 18)

durian mooncake

We absolutely adored this mooncake. The durian flesh is unnamed, probably D24 but it’s really good. The skin balances really well with the flesh too so it’s the durian mooncake benchmark for this year!

tai thong durian

We also wanted to get the Imperial Musang King Royale for RM 78 / 2 pieces but it was sold out!

moon cakes

The 2013 new mooncake flavors:

Sweet Paradise (RM 16.50)

This is a snow skin mooncake from the new flavors under Tai Thong’s moooncake offerings for 2013. They’re having a lot of drink and dessert inspired mooncakes and this is a coffee and custard coffering.

Pineapple Sesame Crunch (RM 16.50)

new mooncakes 2013

We didn’t really like this snow skin mooncake – the pineapple “egg yolk” is alright but the sesame doesn’t really go well with it.

Low Sugar White Lotus Single Yolk x 3 (RM 16.50)

A low sugar variant (very popular these few years for the health conscious) of an old classic!

Assorted Fruits, Nuts with Chicken Bits (RM 16.50)

This used to be made with lard but a lot of mooncake manufacturers now use chicken to comply with the halal certification (okay for Muslims to consume) which is a shame as this is one of the real original mooncakes and I really doubt Muslims are a huge target market in mooncakes – not enough to make a difference anyway.

Teh Tarik Delight (RM 16.50)

It’s the national drink of Malaysia – now in mooncakes. I bought one for us and one of my future-in laws. It was a bit of a letdown though – it wasn’t as tasty as I thought it would be and the pulled milk tea flavor is sadly missing.

The good thing about the Tai Thong mooncakes is that we got not only 30% off but also 2 free mooncakes (for every 4 purchased in a box set)

tai thong mooncakes

The free mooncakes are:

Limau Manis (RM 16.50)

This is translated as “sweet lime” and it’s a baked mooncake. It continues the trend for beverage inspired mooncake (it’s a common drink here) and actually has a sweet lime filling and an asam jeruk (salted dried plum, or known in the states as crack seed) filling as the “egg yolk”. I think this isn’t doing well, which is why it’s the designated giveaway mooncake on purchase.

free mooncakes

White Mocha Delight (RM 16.50)

This is another beverage inspired mooncake in the conventional baked format. It has a chocolate and coffee layer but nothing really pops from this. Tai Thong gives out Limau Manis mooncakes for free as default on purchase of every box of 4 but I asked if I can change and the guy there said that this is the only other option he can give out. You can’t change to other similar priced mooncakes and you have to ask to get the White Mocha Delight so I guess these two aren’t exactly flying off the shelves. smirk

2. GODIVA Mid-Autumn 2013 Mooncake Collection

godiva mooncakes

This is a limited edition I got for my better half which cost me RM 159. It’s the most expensive mooncake I ever bought but well worth it. We ate it on the night itself and the entire GODIVA 2013 Mid-Autumn Limited Edition mooncakes was reviewed on a previous post.

3. The Baker’s Cottage

mooncakes discount

We were just getting some bread one day and saw a huge queue of people buying mooncakes. We didn’t get any that day but there was a Musang King durian mooncake that we had our eye on. I swung over on the afternoon of Mid-Autumn festival and saw that they had a 40% discount across the board!

ultimate musang king

Ultimate Musang King (RM 26.80)

disney mooncakes

This was slightly disappointing…at first. It’s a Disney mooncake with Mickey Mouse stamped on it. We both looked apprehensively at the filling since it doesn’t have the same “real durian flesh” groove going for it. However, after a couple of bites, it turned out that it was really good in its own way too! I’ll say it’ll give Tai Thong’s Snow Skin Durian Coulis a good run for it’s money. Note the difference between the fillings though – this doesn’t have an interior “egg yolk” of real durian flesh:

musang king mooncake

The Bakington version is made with Musang King durians, which explains the price premium. It’s a licensed Disney product too.

Cheesy Choc-Oreo (RM 16.10)

oreo mooncake

I know that my dear loves Oreo (have bought chocolate covered Oreos for her before) and this mooncake seems very promising. It’s a baked mooncake and it’s good but it’s nothing to write home about. It’s just passable but not really breaking any new ground. It does have real Oreo cookies inside though.

Supreme Manju (RM 16.50)

supreme manju 2013

This outstanding mooncake is what the both of us liked the most this year! It was heavily promoted by The Baker’s Cottage – there’s a huge poster saying something along the lines of “2013 new flavor” and so I decided to get one of it to check out.

supreme manju mooncake

It’s bubble wrapped and treated with a lot of respect. This one is baked in-house unlike the licensed Disney mooncakes…and it’s delicious!

The Supreme Manju truly lives up to its name (which I take to mean “supreme satisfaction”) – it’s a Cantonese style Shanghai mooncake with flaky pastry and a toasted pecan nut on top. There’s just something about the combination of the style of the mooncake (always loved Shanghai style pastry over baked or snow skin mooncakes) with the salted egg yolk, mung bean and lotus seed paste combined with maple and custard.

supreme manju

It just works! We just opened it last night (as in Saturday night) and we both loved it! It’s not only cheaper than Tai Thong’s offerings but it’s a new flavor that is so edible, so delicious that my dearest told me it makes you want to have another bite just after finishing one. I agree, the flavor profile is amazing and I wish I had gotten more of this flagship bakery mooncake. It get the title of Best of 2013 from us! :)

cooking kangaroo

This is perhaps one of my greatest culinary achievements. I did this in Melbourne during my last day there. I wanted to cook a full course dinner with kangaroo roast as the flagship for my loved one and here’s the recipe for everything!

raw macadamia nuts

I bought everything at Coles Express in Melbourne CBD.

coles receipt

The grocery shopping bill came out to AUD 70.19 (about RM 221) so that’s how much it costs.

raw kangaroo roast

There are five (5) courses to the dinner:

kangaroo roast dinner

Italian Salad with Fresh Garden Greens and Honey Balsamic Dressing
This is the starter (of sorts) – gotta have foliage in the diet.

Roasted Stuffed Chicken with Gravy
I’ll call this the appetizer since that was how we ate it.

cooking seafood

Sixthseal’s Seafood Supreme (TM) with cream, white wine and garlic – prawns, Tasmanian mussels, bacon, cheese, exotic mushrooms and macadamia nuts with traditional bread
This is the best dish I came out with, according to Ling, and I’m quite proud of myself. It tastes really great! I think it deserves that (TM) bit. ;)

Herb & Garlic Kangaroo Roast
This is the main dish – the one I slaved over for hours, coz I wanted her to try kangaroo meat.

kiwiberry cranberry fondue

Kiwiberries + Raspberries with Caramel and White Chocolate sauce
I’m quite proud of this dessert too!

That’s the menu for the night and I started out by preparing the salad.

Italian Salad with Fresh Garden Greens

coles-salad

It’s a bit of a cheat since it came in a ready made bag but I can’t cook everything from scratch. Haha! Even the sauce came in a miniature bottle that was right beside the salad. It’s “sweet, crisp leaves balanced with shredded radicchio and a hint or aromatic parsley”.

coles italian sauce

I just put the entire contents of the bag into a salad bowl and poured in the 125 ml honey balsamic dressing. It’s store brand but quite good. Ling actually ate a lot of this.

italian salad

I didn’t.

Roasted Stuffed Chicken with Gravy

roast chicken

This is her suggestion coz she thought I’ll take a long time with the kangaroo roast. She was right. We bought 1/2 a stuffed chicken. It comes in a bag and you just need to chuck the bag into the oven and heat it up.

microwave bag

The bag works to keep the moisture in. I kept the bag to use for my kangaroo roast too.

stuffed roasted chicken

It’s pretty good since you can’t very well go wrong with a pre-cooked item from Coles. The stuffing was salty, the meat was tender and it’s delicious coz we were so hungry at that point. I was still slaving over the kangaroo roast at this point.

Sixthseal’s Seafood Supreme (TM) with cream, white wine and garlic – prawns, Tasmanian mussels, bacon, cheese, exotic mushrooms and macadamia nuts with traditional bread

seafood recipe

My proudest dish! I must tell the entirety of this story.

garlic prawns

We bought garlic marinated prawns from Coles – it comes in a package so we didn’t need any other sauces. We were just there for a day and didn’t want to buy large bottles of seasoning.

bacon

I also went to the meat counter and got a rasher of bacon. It’s huge! The bacon measures 1 1/2 feet long and several inches wide – there’s a photo of me holding it later. I wanted the rinds to cook with.

macadamia

Macadamia nuts were from the raw produce section. It’s raw nuts at AUD 33.98 / kg. That makes it AUD 7.56 (RM 25) for the handful of a few nuts I grabbed! I calculated, that’s RM 1.30 per nut. :x

exotic mushrooms

The mushrooms came in a pack that that was labelled 3 gourmet mushrooms – there are two familiar ones (they aren’t “exotic” to Asians) but the orange fungi is new to me.

cheese

I went to the cheese counter and chose bocconcini – a mild mozarella type cheese that you keep submerged in liquid. It would be really hard to find this here but I ate bocconcini for fun as a snack when I was studying in Melbourne.

bocconcini

The best thing we saw was the Tasmanian mussels!

tasmanian mussels

It was marked down to just AUD 0.50! That’s a 92% discount! It was such a good bargain that I wanted it for my seafood bonanza. It’s the best buy of the trip – there’s always price cuts but this just takes the cake.

traditional bread

The traditional bread is supposed to go with this dish to wipe up the creamy gravy (and also to go with the kangaroo roast). There are no preservatives and it’s very good bread – artisan bread handmade using kibbled wheat. AUD 5.50 (RM 17). It’s not cheap, this 800 gram loaf of traditional bread.

seafood ingredients

The ingredients!

seafood stew recipe

I sliced up the bacon rinds and fried it for a bit before dumping in the rest of the bacon.

bacon rinds

I then added in the mussels with all the cream, garlic and white wine marinate…

mussels

…and then the prawns with it’s own garlic marinade.

prawns

Awesome stuff!

cooking seafood stew

A wonderful smell was starting to waft out and this was when I threw the raw macadamis nuts in.

seafood stew macadamias

Added the mushrooms and cheese last and let it simmer for a bit.

adding bocconcini

It’s delicious! I cooked a mess…

adding mushrooms

…but Ling plated it so nicely it could be a restaurant dish!

sixthseal seafood supreme

Ta da!

seafood bread

It tasted wonderful – sweet and salty, with lots of seafood and delicious liquids for the traditional bread to soak up.

Herb & Garlic Kangaroo Roast

kangaroo mini roast

I had a lot of trouble with this. I set the oven wrongly and the bag nearly caught on fire (which has the potential to trip the fire alarm, causing a huge fine).

kangaroo roast

Luckily, she smelled something burning and I sorted it out.

eating kangaroo

I wouldn’t want to go through the arduous process, but it was 3 am when this was finally ready.

kangaroo meat

It’s worth the time and the blood, sweat and tears I put in though – it’s cooked to perfection!

roasted kangaroo

Ling tried it and had several more pieces, she said it tasted like liver. Oh well, at least she’s tried kangaroo meat now.

me bacon

I liked it – I ate quite a fair bit of the kangaroo roast. It’s gamey and flavorful, with chewy meat. I’m glad we didn’t cop out and go for kangaroo burger patties or kangaroo steaks – a kangaroo roast is the proper way to eat kangaroo meat. Lovely stuff!

Kiwiberries + Raspberries with Caramel and White Chocolate sauce

kiwiberry

This is the dessert I made for her – kiwiberry is a small fruit that looks like mini kiwifruit and tastes like kiwifruit but it’s much sweeter. You can just pop it into your mouth to eat it without peeling anything.

kiwiberry-chocolate-dip

The raspberries are fresher too and I mixed both fruits into a glass (don’t have a parfait server).

chocolate caramel dip

I had two dips of caramel and white chocolate and I spooned each in turn into the fruit mixture to create contrasting textures.

kangaroos

It was so good we finished the fruits the next day by dipping it straight into the leftover caramel and white chocolate dip. :)

kiwiberrry cranberry

I had fun cooking for her. It’s a nice change, and it’s kind of her to rinse the plates before I loaded the dishwasher coz I was bushed by then. She got to eat kangaroo meat and it was an awesome way to spend the last night in Melbourne together. It’s a lovely end to a wonderful trip!

burger sibu

Secret Garden Grill. Hands down. I was rather unimpressed by the place but damn, does the kitchen come out with one fine and juicy burger!

secret garden grill

I went out with Arthur to have dinner here. I was thinking burgers or Ming Mei Shi and went for the former coz we were just talking about Maple Leaf’s burger.

dayak

Secret Garden Grill does have a rather interesting photo wall though – there are photos of local happenings dating back to when the local Dayak tribe didn’t wear bras (which, if you’re interested to know, doesn’t happen any more unless you’re in a bedroom smirk).

secret garden sibu

Back to burgers, they have a double cheese, double beef patty version that I was tempted to order but since it doesn’t have egg (which can be an add-on), I went for the Secret Beef Burger (RM 14.90).

arthur wee

What makes it so special? It’s the handmade juicy patty which is easily an inch of dribbling juicy beef, the perfectly done egg, and the buttery grilled bread that’s just right.

secret garden burger

I had trouble stuffing this into my mouth but it’s a very rewarding and slightly orgasmic event to chew and see the juices from the rare/medium beef patty squirt out.

best burger sibu

Mmm…

fish chips

Arthur had the Fish & Chip (RM 12.90)

caesar salad

…and we shared a Caesar Salad (RM 8.90) for some greens to round off the meal.

yoghurt drink

I also had the Mixed Fruit Yoghurt Drink (RM 3.80 – marked down from RM 7.50). I thought it was alright, though this place seems to have slashing prices right, left and center. The burgers are awesome though – best in Sibu, and I’ll call it out on KL too.

hb arthur wee

Dessert was Mille crepe at Noodle House – we had two versions, the Double Chocolate Mille crepe and the Rum & Raisin Mille crepe.

mille crepe

I prefer the former coz it tastes chocolatey, I couldn’t taste the rum in the latter, probably coz I’m desensitized. Haha!

horlicks dinosaur godzilla

Horlicks Dinosaus vs Horlick Godzilla

noodle house

Noodle House was packed as usual – bumped into an old classmate there (Hello Peter!). It’s a nice place for food and drinks.

hb burger

Thanks for dinner and desserts before I go back Arthur! It’s truly an epic burger. :)

sss

I’ve been a huge fan of these absurdly sweet concoctions since I first encountered a variant of the diabetic-inducing delicacies in Sri Lanka. The first time I had it, I had a look of pure shock in my face from the insulin response. It delighted the Sri Lankan shopkeepers.

The SHEER amount of sugar inside will astound you.

indian sweet vendor

I recently found one a place in town called Bakti Woodlands that offer similar sweets. It called mithai and touted as South Indian in origin, but most are from the continental Indian area (most of the sweets are similar throughout the region, with just different names).

sample box

They had a sample box of 10 different types of sweets for RM 10. I bought that and spent the night savoring the sweets and went back for more a few days ago.

They didn’t have the boxes anymore – I was told that the sample boxes are only sold during festive seasons. I knew what I liked and what I didn’t so I bought it a la carte at RM 1 each.

mithai

What I like about these sweets is that you can taste the different types of milk (goat, cow etc) inside. Here’s a sample of the sugar laden, ghee-infused concoctions that will delight (and challenge) everyone with a sugar tooth:

Jangiri

jangiri

This is the most common sweet you’ll find around here. It tastes like a very light and fluffy doughnut and is made with urad flour and sugar before being deep fried in ghee (clarified butter).

indian sweet stall

There’s a stall just beside Bakti Woodlands selling it for RM 0.70 instead of RM 1 but I find the former to taste slightly better.

Mysore pak

indian confection

This wonderful slice of sweet heaven is made with a truckload of ghee, sugar and gram flour/dhall flour. The interesting thing about dhall flour is that it’s gluten-free, which means my niece can probably eat it. This is my second favorite mithai (Indian confection / sweet).

The dude who was behind the counter didn’t recognize me at first until I brought up the topic of the sample box. He was intrigued and asked me if I was doing research. I wasn’t. Heh. I bought RM 30 worth the second time, and here’s the second video of him introducing the sweets – first one didn’t turn out right.

Laddu

laddu

There’s a type of laddu that costs RM 2.50 (as opposed to RM 1 for the others, like the one above). It’s a huge, fist-sized round ball made with brown sugar, cashew nuts and dried fruits.

There’s also a smaller type of laddu, generically named Ghee Ladhu here:

coconut laddu

The word laddu means “small ball” and can contain almost anything. There are some with ground coconut (the red one) but I prefer the plain ones with raisins inside.

Halwa

indian sweets

This has gotta be my favorite mithai ever!

Halwa is a very generic term that describes a lot of sweets across the Indian subcontinent and even to the Middle East. The name itself is Arabic for “sweet”. I first encountered it in Sri Lanka. I’ve also heard it referred to as barfi.

almond halwa

I like the white almond slices that contains an obscene amount of condensed milk. Halwa tends to be crumbly and insanely sweet. I imagine the recipe for it looks a little like this:

  • 2 tons of sugar
  • 40 kgs of ghee

for a tray of sweets. Heh.

apple halwa

I’m particularly fond of the apple shaped halwas. I highly recommend this if you’re willing to test the limits of your insulin tolerance. It’s sweet, crumbly and has a distinctive milky taste that you can smell as well as taste. The “stem” of the “apple” is made from a clove stick! :)

apple sweet with cinnamon stick

You might need a shot of insulin to stabalize but its worth it! Melt-in-your-mouth buttery goodness! :D

peranakan restaurant melaka

Restaurant Peranakan is the aptly named place known for it’s Peranakan cuisine. It’s often been cited as the #1 place to go for Nyonya food in Melaka. Peranakan (or Straits Chinese) is a distinctive racial group in Melaka – it comes from Chinese settlers marrying locals and is an entire culture unto itself, the hotbed of which lies in Melaka.

peranakan restaurant

Nyonya food is conglomeration of Chinese and Malay food, but there are some really unique dishes they call their own. I had lunch here while on a road trip to Melaka.

restaurant peranakan

Peranakan Restaurant has a really nice décor which reflects the heydays of the Baba Nyonya clan.

Ayam Buah Keluak

ayam buah keluak

This is perhaps the most well known Nyonya dish. It’s chicken cooked with kepayang tree nuts. Buah keluak is actually poisonous before being prepared for cooking. It prompted a lot of Googling when I mentioned that coz someone ate the inside of the nut.

buah-keluak

I like this dish – it’s a very rich and flavorful one due to the buah keluak. I ate some of the insides of the nuts too – it’s sourish and contributes to the flavor of the chicken. Peranakan Restaurant makes the best ayam buah keluak I’ve had.

Ayam Pongteh

ayam pongteh

I’ve had this at Donald & Lily’s Authentic Nyonya Food too but that pales in comparison with Peranakan Restaurant’s version.

Ikan Tenggiri Asam Pedas

ikan tenggiri asam pedas

This is a really good and spicy fish dish that I found worthy of mention – it’s cooked with brinjals, tomatos, and ladyfingers and has a sweet, spicy and sour (more towards the latter) gravy that goes very well with rice.

Udang Lemak Nanas

vivid prawns

This is a very rich dish of shrimp cooked with pineapples and lots of oil. I set the camera to Vivid and it almost hurts my eye to look at it.

udang lemak nanas

Here’s one that’s easier on the ocular devices. ;) It’s also one of the dishes I’ll recommend at Peranakan Restaurant.

Nyonya Chap Choy

nyonya chap choy

It’s mixed vegetables, nothing special here.

Kangkung Belacan

kangkung belacan

This dish has strayed into mainstream Chinese cooking that a lot of people forget it’s Nyonya origins. If you want the most authentic version, I guess here’s where you go.

Taufo Peranakan

taufo peranakan

I’m not a huge fan of tofu but it disappeared pretty quickly so I’ll hazard a guess and say it’s pretty good if you like the stuff. ;)

Fo Yong Tan

fo yong tan

I think this is the egg omelet unless I’ve completely messed up my bearings. Forgettable.

Sambal Bendih

sambal bendih

Okra with a splash of sambal on top. Simple, but good.

peranakan restaurant food

I spent the whole time piling my plate with all the different stuff so I could take a photo. Their flagship dishes are really good, while some are mediocre, but IMHO, Peranakan Restaurant is the place to go for authentic Nyonya food if you’re in Melaka.

nissan almera

I was there on a the Eat, Play, Drive road trip with a bunch of other bloggers. We drove down on several Nissan Alameras. I had the opportunity to drive the IMPUL tuned one (which is my main ride, with a very auspicious plate too – WXN 6330). Simon, Joshua and Kelly (another group) was kind enough to let me drive the stock Nissan Alamara for a stretch.

nissan almera eat play drive

I prefered the Nissan Alamera tuned by IMPUL that was issued to my group – there’s keyless ignition and the specs are pretty decent. I found the acceleration to be a bit lacking, but as they say, it’s not a sports car, but a sedan that’s surprisingly affordable for its class. I was quite impressed by the price of the car for it’s specs.

nissan almera impul

Thanks for the invite Hui Ping! :)

auntie koh cendol

This was also where I had the famous Klebang Original Coconut Shake and while we were driving there, we also stopped by Aunty Koh’s Cendol. This place churns out really good cendol – perfect for a hot day!

auntie koh

It’s primarily manned by a single woman – the aforementioned Aunty Koh. Cendol is a shaved ice dessert with squiggly green jelly and kidney beans (we use red beans in Sarawak).

aunty koh cendol

Gula Melaka (caramelized palm sugar) gives it that distinctive sugary sweet taste, which is tempered by santan (coconut milk).

melaka cendol

You’ll be amazed by how many people come here for the RM 3.50 (large) cendol.

aunty koh

I was tempted to have two (and I think I did have two) but I also heard that this place is famous for it’s taibak (RM 1.50) – which is a very simple shaved ice dessert made with red and white flour squiggles. I found the taste very similar to something we have in Sibu called “wu wei tang” (5 taste soup) which is another shaved ice dessert that has dried apples and other misc ingredients among it.

taibak

It’s simple but refreshing.

cendol melaka

However, I still prefered the cendol at Aunty Koh Cendol. They claim to be Melaka’s best cendol and I’m inclined to agree. I’ve had cendol in lots of places from Penang to Kuantan (click on the tag cendol) and this is among the top ones I’ve had the pleasure of eating. :D

christmas eve dinner

Senja is an Italian restaurant despite it’s Malay sounding name. The food is prepared by Chef Filippo Giunta, a friendly Sicilian which I got to meet later. It is best known for it’s homemade pasta and pizzas (they even have a firewood oven) and the ambiance – it’s built on stilts above a man-made lake and the view is quite pleasing.

senja saujana

I was there to check out their Christmas Eve Dinner. I haven’t been here for a while and I thought I’ll come and check out their new pasta machine. Thanks for the invite Azimy and Azirah and it’s a pleasure to meet you Karen!

bread

The five course meal was preceded by their wonderful home-made bread, which I absolutely loved. It came with four different types of dip – the whole olives and sun-dried tomatoes being two of my favorite.

Schiuma di Papate con Capesante ed Aneto
Potato Mousse with Scallop and Dill Oil

scallops

This is the first course proper – the amouse-bouche. It’s a nicely cooked piece of scallop topped with black caviar with potato mousse and dill oil. I thought it’s a nice start for the Christmas Eve course.

Capaccio di Manzo con Rucola e Dressing al Parmigiano
Carpaccio of Black Angus with Rocket and Parmesan Dressing

black angus carpaccio

I really, really liked this. The circular tissue-thin Black Angus is aged well so you can taste the intense flavors in this apt appetizer. I wish I could have more of this. Perfectly dry-aged (I think, forgot to ask) beef.

chef filippa giunta

There are three main courses you can choose from:

Linguine con Funghi Selvatici e Tartufo
Homemade Linguine Pasta with Wild Mushrooms and Black Truffle

linguini black truffle

This would be my recommendation for the main course if you’re not one of those people who must have turkey on Christmas Eve. I’ve seen how they make their pasta in-house and the linguine is cooked to perfection – dictionary definition of “al dente”. I enjoyed the simplicity of the dish, spruced up by generous shavings of black truffle.

Salmone in Padella Sevito con Spinaci, Salsa Prosecco e Caviale Nero
Tasmanian Salmon served with Butter Spinach, Prosecco Sauce and Black Caviar

salmon

There’s nothing wrong with this dish, but it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. It’s a generous slice of salmon on top of spinach and it was the first main dish that I ate but I felt that the salmon overpowered all the other flavors in the dish and it was a tad overcooked but then again I won’t pretend to be a food critic. Heh. I just felt that the other two dishes were much better.

Petto di Tacchino con Mele Verdi, Funghi in Padella e Riduzione al Vino Porto
Stuffed Turkey Breast with Poached Granny Smith Apple, Cepes Mushroom and Port Wine Sauce

turkey

I really liked the crisp turkey skin and the juicy turkey meat. I loved the stuffing. It’s a classic Christmas dish that has everything done right including the apple cubes beneath the turkey that gives it a sweet dimension. Highly recommended, I would go for this or the pasta for the main course. Come to think of it, I’ll recommend this, coz you can have pasta any other time. ;)

Panettone Tradizionale con Crema di Mascarpone e Caffe
Traditional Panettone “Tiramisu” with Mascarpone and Coffee Cream

panettone tiramisu

This is hands down the best dessert I’ve had this month, or maybe even this quarter. I might even hazard to go “this year” due to this wonderful creation from Chef Filippo Giunta. It’s not a regular tiramisu made with Savoiardi – that has been made passé with this “tiramisu” made from Panettone. Just think of Savoiardi being substituted with Panettone Antica Ricetta and you’ll have an inkling of what this marvelous dessert tastes like.

It’s awesome – there’s no other word to describe it. The Mascarpone and coffee cream dominates the Panettone that has been rendered soft and yielding and the burst of fruitcake combined with the thick, cloying cream resulted in a truly fearsome dessert. It’s delicious! :D

panettone

This is the Panettone used for the Christmas Eve Dinner dessert at Senja. It’s the specialty Christmas cake of Milan which traces its roots to an ancient Franciscan cloister in Saronno. It’s orgasmic – there’s a bit of fruitcake to remind you of the festive season and I was very impressed by this dessert. The Mascarpone and coffee cream slathered on top of this Panettone “tiramisu” takes the cake (haha). I’ll go just for this dessert again!

christmas cookies

We also had mince pies, biscuits and gingerbread cookies after the meal and I was so enamored by the Panettone “tiramisu” that Chef Filippo Giunta came out with what the dome-shaped Christmas cake. The Christmas Eve Dinner at Senja, Saujana Hotel is priced from RM 160++ to RM 280++ with optional wine pairing.

wine

They also have a New Year’s Eve set dinner priced at the same range where you can watch fireworks by the lake. Senja Restaurant is also starting a new tradition of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day brunches with buffet style antipasto and desserts from RM 90++. They can be reached at 03 7843 1234 for reservations. Oh, and they also sell that Panettone cake by itself but it won’t nearly be as good as the one made into “tiramisu”. Heh.

chocolate cubes

This is one of the most awesome chocolates I’ve ever had – it’s made of over 80% cocoa, very dark and bittersweet, with a dusting to finish it.

chocolate cocoa

I think a whole bunch of us in Singapore had way too much of these. I know I certainly did, totally ruined my appetite for dinner.

hors d oeuvre

This is pretty good too – it’s a layered chocolate cake and almost impossible to dissect but let me attempt to describe it – it contains layer after layer of moist and fluffy pastry covered with chocolate. I was impressed, it was so light it felt like I was eating mostly air.

lobster shots

Lobster shooters. I liked this one too – awesomely concocted pieces of lobsters with the accompanying sauces and garnishes in one ready-to-drink (eat?) shot.

liquor chocolates

This were the chocolates that had liquor in it – it’s infused with Bailey’s Irish Cream. I preferred the original high cocoa content chocolate cubes instead but a lot of others liked these. :)

red prawn durian

This should be called The Hunt for Red October Prawn. Red Prawn or Udang Merah is known locally in Hokkien as “Ang Heh” – it’s a breed of durian only available in Penang – there’s too much local demand (and exports to countries like Singapore I imagine) for it to come down to Klang Valley.

Thus, after 4 meals before 12 pm we finally drove to Balik Pulau (it’s where the orchards for Ang Heh are) where I ran down to stall after stall only to be told the same thing:

There are no Red Prawn durians. The season just ended.

One stall sold his *very last* Red Prawn durian to a customer just before we came.

balik pulau durian stall

I had almost given up at this point when the next stall claimed to have Red Prawn. In fact, there were 4 of these luscious durians.

red prawn penang

Red Prawn is characterized by it’s red colored flesh and small seeds. It’s not bright red like the Sarawakian local ones, although some can have an orange hue, with just a tinge of red, or striped. I paid RM 45 for one durian – it’s RM 25/kg after a bit of bargaining.

ang heh durian

The durian only had 5 seeds!!!

red prawn

That works out to about RM 10 per seed. It was delicious though, definitely worth it for durian lovers. :)

Suanie got another one to take away, this has more seeds and it’s heavier, cost RM 50. There’s also various other Penang-only durians on offer – you can listen to the proprietor talking about it.

Koh Tsu Koon durian

Koh Tsu Koon is also another famous durian strain but I couldn’t afford to part with another RM 50 for a tiny durian, despite it being famed for having miniscule or no seeds at all, which is a running joke about the ex-Penang CM.

udang merah

All in all, it was a good durian hunt – I got to eat Red Prawn and even though it wasn’t as red as what I tasted on a previous excursion, it’s good. It tastes like Red Prawn.

durian udang merah

Sarawak also has a bright red colored durian (as does Penang, which has several). Red Prawn is pretty good, and at that price point, a bargain compared to overrated durian strains like Musang King.

eating red prawn durian

We sapu-ed two out of the four Red Prawn durians left – it was the end of season for that strain, D15 is still going strong though. :)

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