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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I managed to tapau some chai kueh for Mandy too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

39. Nouri (Singapore) 🌟

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Weekend Update: Outdark Malaysia, Xing Fu Tang Bubble Tea, Surprise Care Package, Homemade Sarawak Laksa

Saturday is our date night and I listed 3 options for Mandy to choose from – Carpenter’s Daughter, Big Hug Burger and Outdark Malaysia. They’re all around the SS15 area coz she wanted to check out Xing Fu Tang. That’s the latest bubble tea shop from Taiwan to open in Malaysia and the queues are insane. We actually went there first but had to wait till 7:30 pm for their drink allocation to open up so we headed to Outdark.

Outdark Malaysia is a Korean franchise that came from Busan. I went to Busan a few years ago for a work trip – it’s a nice place but I prefer Japan to Korea. They had a glass wall where you can write on with felt tip markers and Mandy drew both our names there.

I like the ambience of the restaurant – the warm lights provide a nice vibe. However, the tables can be a bit sticky despite the guy wiping it twice, the second time quite carefully. It may be the type of lacquer which makes it prone to retaining the stickiness from food instead of wiping clean.

We ordered the The Ultimate Cheese Kingdom (RM 88). This is their flagship dish of Korean fried chicken, tteokbokki and gooey cheese. There are sides of kimchi, short grained rice with seaweed, sweet corn with more cheese and mashed potatoes.

The server waits for the cheese to melt then wraps each fried chicken in a cocoon of cheese. It tastes pretty good. The fried chicken is covered in a sweet tomato and gochujang sauce which can be very cloying in large amounts but the savoury cheese cuts through the sweetness well. We both enjoyed it.

The bill came up to RM 104.50 including drinks which is decent for a weekend dinner. They serve reasonably priced soju compared to grocery stores too.

We left promptly at 7:30 pm and joined the long queue in front of Xing Fu Tang. There was a girl giving out tickets. Each slot (about 2.5 hours between slots) only has a maximum of 100 cups of their signature Stir-fried Brown Sugar Pearl Milk and 25 cups of their Strawberry Pearl Milk tea. I hear these tickets are fully taken up within 10 minutes! Each person can only have 2.

I wouldn’t doubt it. We got 84/100 for the brown sugar boba and 10/25 for the strawberry boba and we were there at 7:30 pm when the slot opened! Part of the problem is the newness – it’s only been open 4 days so people want to see what they’re about.

It took us 45 minutes before we got to the front. There’s a staff stir-frying the brown sugar pearls in a huge wok. This is then poured into a cup, making sure to get the liquid on every side, to produce their signature look. It costs RM 25 for two bobas which is on par with other imported Taiwanese brands. They also use a better barista fresh milk to make their drinks.

One quirky thing about Xing Fu Tang is they let each person who buys a drink have a go at their lucky draw. You pick a random stick from a huge basin and the number is matched to one of the drawers. This is similar to the Buddhist fortune telling sticks. You basically get your fortune told, with a grand prize of a free boba drink.

Mandy got Great Luck while I got Greatest Good Luck. We both wondered if they have a Bad Luck drawer. Probably not.

Xing Fu Tang’s flagship Stir-fried Brown Sugar Pearl Milk was disappointing though. It tasted tepid and dilute. It’s still better than the commercialized Chatime/Tealive but nowhere close to The Alley’s standard. It’s milky, but not very tea-like. Mandy gave it 7/10 compared to The Alley’s 9/10. The Strawberry Pearl Milk Tea was better – acidic and refreshing, yet sweet. I quite enjoyed it!

I made a care package for Mandy and surprised her by putting it on our living room coffee table with no comment for her to find. I filled it with Korean and Japanese face masks, a chocolate bar, a packet of Ribena, a lotion and a comic book. I noticed she really enjoys masks but finds them expensive on her salary so I thought I’ll get them for her. She uses them so frugally that I felt sorry for her. Haha.

Sunday night was my experiment with homemade Sarawak laksa. I bought the paste during my trip to Kuching over CNY. Mandy’s mom provided me with some mystery seeds which she says tastes good in laksa so I thought I’ll make some. I made a deluxe version with chicken leg, lots of prawns, sambal, lime, coriander and shredded omelette. You can barely see the rice vermicelli! It’s decent but missing something. I’ll cook the paste with prawn heads and shells next time. We’re off to Sibu next weekend for Ching Ming! I also have a work trip to Penang this Friday and another one to Ipoh when we come back from Sibu so it’s a busy week ahead.

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