kenko fish spa

Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa is a relatively new concept spa and reflexology center offering the unique doctor fish treatment for your feet. Doctor fish spas have sprung into popularity last year and a lot of people have been to Kenko Fish Spa, which has outlets throughout the Klang Valley.

kenko reception

I went to the Kenko Fish Spa in Pavilion, KL to experience the doctor fish spa. It costs RM 38 per person for a 30 minute session inside the doctor fish spa pool. I’ve been keen to check out the doctor fish ever since I’ve read about it on several blogs – it sounds interesting.

kenko tag

You are given a tag to clock in the Kenko Fish Spa area, and an attendant will direct you to the pre-treatment area. The tag initiates the start of your timing block, and allows you access to the general doctor fish spa pool. There are also private rooms if you’re more inclined to enjoy the fish treatment in seclusion.

kenko fish wash

Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa starts the doctor fish spa session by requesting users to wash their feet first. This is not just for hygiene purposes – chemicals from body lotion and creams can contaminate the pool water and probably cause the doctor fish to float belly up. Body lotion is not exactly sauce to complement the dead flesh the fish eats from your feet. ;)

kenko fish spa pool

The fish spa at Kenko in Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur features a central pool with larger species of the doctor fish and a trench bordering the perimeter with smaller versions of the Garra rufa and Cyprinion macrostomus.

kenko fish spa large

I went into the central pool first and the doctor fish swarmed around my feet and started nibbling away at the dead flesh. It felt a little ticklish at first, but after a while, the sensation is actually quite pleasant.

My girlfriend however, nearly screamed when she put her feet inside and quickly jumped out. The attendant kindly told her that the trench surrounding the area has smaller versions of the doctor fish and would probably be suited for the more squeamish ones amongst us.

kenko fish spa small

I joined her at the trench area after feeding the bigger doctor fish in the central pool. I figured it would work better to let the larger doctor fish feast on the larger and hardened chunks of dead flesh on my feet before letting the smaller ones take care of the rest.

The interesting thing about the doctor fish is that it not only feasts on the dead skin and flesh on your feet, but also on your legs. There are signs that warn against putting your hand inside the water, but I did just that and the doctor fish swarmed around it too and started nibbling away at the dead skin. :)

kenko

Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa @ Pavilion, KL offers a nice view of the city from the glass panel windows while the doctor fish takes care of the dead skin and flesh from your feet. It’s very relaxing and my feet was noticeably smoother after the treatment.

kenko sibu

Due to the popularity of the doctor fish spas, even Sibu has started its very own treatment center…in an inflatable pool right in the middle of a shopping mall. Instead of luxurious wood paneling, you get plastic chairs to sit on.

kenko sibu fish spa

It’s called “Love Bite Fish Spa Happy Feet” and some enterprising soul charges RM 15 for a 30-minute session inside the stagnant inflatable pool containing a handful of doctor fish. I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly falling over myself to sit down on a plastic chair and put my feet in an inflatable pool in the middle of the mall.

kenko fish spa me

Give me Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa any day. ;)

umai stall

Umai is a raw fish dish prepared by the Melanau tribe in Mukah. It’s a must try dish if you ever go to Mukah. It’s the Malaysian version of the sashimi and is traditionally the working lunch for Melanau fishermen.

Umai is made of thinly sliced slivers of raw fish and served with toasted sago pearls. The popularity of the dish for the fishermen is pragmatic – it doesn’t need to be cooked while deep sea fishing and the sago pearls provides the carbohydrates for a filling lunch.

me slicing fish

The fish has to be really fresh for umai to be prepared since it’s eaten raw. I tried my hand at slicing the raw fish and gave myself a nasty cut to the index finger.

umai segar

Umai is readily available in the markets of Mukah and it’s one of the flagship dishes that Mukah is known for (besides sago grubs). There are two different versions of umai – the traditional umai sambal campur and umai cecah jeb.

The sixthseal.com Guide to Eating Umai

umai step 1

Step 1: Ensure that a reputable umai stall is patronized. The fish needs to be really fresh for raw consumption to avoid uncomfortable conditions like E.Coli and explosive diarrhea.

umai step 2

Step 2: Find a comfortable place to mix your own umai. The ingredients for making umai can all be purchased at the stall and most of the stuff is prepackaged and premixed to the right amounts.

umai step 3

Step 3: Receptacles for the mixing of umai is essential. You would require a plate and a bowl in addition to forks. Sago pearls are eaten using your hand. Empty the raw slivers of fish into the plate. You can opt to retain a small portion of the raw fish for the the other version of umai.

umai step 4

Step 4: Inspect the contents of your umai sambal campur package. It should contain a bag of premixed ingredients essential to the umai experience containing raw onions and chillies. Calamansi limes should also be in the package for the original umai as well as a small packet of salt and the crunchy peanut cookies.

umai step 5

Step 5: Open the packet of crumbly peanut cookies and put it on top of the raw fish slivers. This is the secret ingredient in all good umai dishes that provides the sweet and crunchy texture to the dish.

umai step 6

Step 6: Crush the peanut cookie into a finely grounded powder using the fork. You need the peanut cake to be evenly distributed throughout the dish.

umai step 7

Step 7: Pierce the calamansi limes using a fork to enable a reasonable flow of the juice into the umai. Do not attempt to squeeze the lime without penetrating it with a fork (or another sharp utensil) first. Splash damage is likely to occur.

umai step 8

Step 8: Squeeze the calamansi lime over the raw fish.

umai step 9

Step 9: You need all the calamansi lime juice provided since the acidic nature of the fruit “cooks” the raw fish. I’ll explain the scientific principles at the bottom of the guide.

umai step 10

Step 10: Open the small packet of salt and empty the contents into the umai. The salt offsets the sourness of the calamansi lime and makes it sweet.

umai step 11

Step 11: Open the plastic bag containing the thinly sliced onions and chillies and empty it into the plate of umai.

umai step 12

Step 12: Toss the umai with a fork as you would toss a salad. The motions are similar and so are the aims – to mix everything as evenly as possible. The traditional umai is now ready for consumption!

umai step 13

Step 13: The final step is to empty the sago pearls into a bowl for easier consumption. The sago pearls are eaten using your bare hands to go with the umai.

umai step 14

Step 14: Consume the umai with a handful of sago pearls. The umai should be eaten first and chased with the sago pearls for the authentic Melanau umai experience.

Guide to eating umai video

Optional:

umai jeb

There is a new variant of umai called the umai cecah jeb which is dipped into a sambal (spicy paste) concoction.

umai jeb eat

You’re supposed to take a forkful of umai (raw fish) and then dip it into the special sambal sauce and eat it. It’s delicious! The sambal really got oomph! Very spicy. I like!

Guide to eating umai cecah jeb video

Caution:

splash damage 2

Splash damage is likely to occur even with the proper piercing technique as can be seen on Clare’s top. Respect the calamansi lime and it shall respect you. ;)

Explanation:

difference is clear

The calamansi lime has acidic properties that “cooks” (cures would be a better word) the raw fish in the umai due to reasons beyond my understanding. It just works.
The left fork contains the raw fish before the calamansi lime treatment and the right fork contains the slightly “cooked” fish after being marinated in calamansi lime. You can see the difference in the coloration and texture of the fish.
The difference is clear (TM). ;)

expensive fish

This is a fresh water fish that sells for more than RM 13 per kilogram. It’s nearly in the same league as what the locals call empulau, the most expensive fish here, which will set you back about RM 2,000 for a fully grown fish.

expensive fish eye

(looks accusingly)
“I’m dead because of you!”

johns place

John’s Place is a small, family owned eating establishment in town that cooks up the only Fried Fresh Fish Head Mee Hoon in town (F3HMH for brevity’s sake).

johns place cook

The place also serves a variety of fresh fish head dishes, and the photo here shows the preparation of John’s Special.

johns place f3meehoon

The fried fresh fish head mee hoon over at John’s Place is really good. I’m not much of a mee hoon (rice vermicelli) eater, much less of soup based dishes but I still think it was good.

johns place f3meehoon macro

Here’s a closer look at the F3HMH @ John’s Place.

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