Ezokko Paseo Ramen, Sapporo

Ezokko Paseo Ramen

Sapporo is famous for their butter and corn enriched miso-based ramen. It’s quite distinctive from other Japanese ramen. We were walking around in JR Sapporo Station after we got back from the ryokan and wanted to get something to eat. I remember a few omurice restaurants around the Paseo area, but we chanced upon Ezokko Ramen (えぞっこ パセオ店), which offers a JPY 1,800 bowl filled with crab, scallops, and shrimp!

Ezokko Paseo

My better half wanted to eat here so we popped in to have a proper Sapporo ramen meal. Their noodles are all freshly made daily and it’s the thicker wavy yellow Sapporo style ramen which is very different from the Tokyo style noodles we get locally. It’s more substantial and chewy. I asked for their recommendation and got the house special (which was the RM 82 bowl of seafood goodness).

Ezokko Sapporo Special Ramen

Ezokko Sapporo Special Ramen (1,800 yen or RM 82)
This looked exactly like the menu! It has crab, scallops, shrimp, pork, corn and butter. The seafood components are all local produce from Hokkaido. The corn and butter is a Sapporo thing – they add the two to their ramen. You’re supposed to melt the (creamy) Hokkaido butter in the soup before you eat it. I went for miso soup, as the waitress recommended, as that’s how the locals eat it.

Hokkaido Scallops

There is a slotted spoon for you to eat the ingredients, as well as a regular spoon (which fits nicely on the rim of the bowl). The broth is pork based and it’s been cooked for 12 hours with several kinds of vegetables. It was very rich and filling, although I found the house speciality spicy miso soup to be a little strange at first. I got into the groove and learned to love it though. I liked the abundance of seafood inside. The scallops in particular was very nice with the ramen.

Sapporo Gyoza

Gyoza (380 yen or RM 20)
We also made an order for gyoza (4 pieces). The pork filled dumplings were surprisingly good!

Sapporo Butter Corn Ramen

Sapporo Butter Corn Ramen (950 yen or RM 45)
My dear had this bowl. It’s Sapporo style ramen with corn, butter, roast pork, bamboo, leek and a sheet of nori. She had a shoyu (soy) based soup instead of the traditional miso soup and it was pretty good too. Unfortunately, she didn’t quite like the noodles, it’s very filling compared to the ones we’re used to. The fare is heartier in Hokkaido due to the cold weather.

Hokkaido Almond Milk Pudding

Hokkaido Almond Milk Pudding (270 yen or RM 12)
There was a sign which says they produce only 30 bowls of this Hokkaido milk almond pudding each day and it’s not available once sold out. Luckily they still had one for us. It seems to be something similar to annindofu but made with Hokkaido milk and it was very rich and milky. The cold pudding was the perfect ending to our meal!

Ezokko Us

My better half didn’t finish her ramen coz she claimed she was already full. I suspect she didn’t quite like the Sapporo style noodles here. We ate at a Michelin rated ramen shop on the last day (not this one) and she really liked that. I love how they stuffed my bowl full of Hokkaido seafood and I think the price is decent. The bill came up to JPY 3,400 (RM 158) for both of us and the service was excellent!

Ezokko Ramen

The Ezzoko Paseo Ramen mascot was hilarious too.

Isezushi: Omakase at a Michelin Star sushi bar in Otaru

Isezushi Sushi Chef

This is one of the highlights of our trip. Isezushi is the only One Michelin Star sushiya (sushi bar) in Otaru and I wanted to eat there as soon as we made plans to go to Hokkaido. I made reservations weeks in advance. You have to call them as they don’t accept Internet reservations. It took two calls of about 20 minutes to get the message though but I managed to get us counter seats!

Isezushi Counter

It’s always important to get a counter/bar seat if you’re going for the omakase. The experience is diluted if you’re seated at a table as you can’t watch and interact with the sushi chef. You want a counter seat as the tempo is dictated by the sushi chef, putting pieces of sushi on your personal board one-by-one, as it is made, instead of all at once if you’re seated at the tables.

Isezushi Bar

This is how sushi is meant to be eaten and I’m glad I took the time (and long distance call charges) to communicate that I wanted a counter seat at all costs.

Isezushi Otaru

Isezushi is located about 6 minutes away from JR Otaru Station. The restaurant is very minimalistic on the outside. You won’t be able to know what they’re serving if you don’t read Japanese and there are no signboards in English. The doors are perpetually closed with no waiter outside. This is a strict reservation-only place and it’s very prim and proper.

Isezushi Me

Our reservation was at 12:30 pm but I made sure we arrived nice and early at 11:50 am as I know they are very particular about punctuality. Sure enough, the sushi chef was pleasantly surprised we were there early and seated us promptly. There were two other Japanese women beside us on the counter and a lone Japanese male taking up the last seat. The two tables behind the counter were full too!

Isezushi

There are three different omazake tiers – this is the classic Sho/Chiku/Bai trio of price levels in Japanese dining. The most premium one is called Jun (JPY 6,300) and has 16 pieces of sushi. The middle tier is Dai (JPY 3,600) and it’s made up of 12 pieces of sushi made exclusively from Hokkaido ingredients. The budget set is Gin (JPY 3,000) and has 10 pieces of sushi. I went for the Jun and my better half opted for the Dai omakaze.

Isezushi Jun Omakase (16 pieces for JPY 6,300)

Soi Rockfish Sushi

Soi (Rockfish/大とろ)
This is a nice start to the meal. I love how the sushi chef masterfully seasoned everything with just enough citrus/soy/wasabi/salt so you’re not supposed to use any more yourself. I’ve also never seen citrus being used to season rockfish before and it was tender and flavorful, with a sharp and refreshing bite.

Engawa Flounder Edge Sushi

Engawa (Edge of flounder/さば漬け)
This is a very rare piece of sushi which you can only get from the high end Jun omakaze. You can’t get it from the a la carte menu. It’s described as “flounder’s edge” and the sushi chef showed me the piece of fish where it came from. It’s a crunchy and chewy neta.

Akamizuke Tuna Sushi

Akamizuke (Tuna belly marinated in shoyu/本鮪の漬)
This is a piece from the tuna’s belly called “zuke”. It’s marinated in soy sauce for a while and served on top of sushi. This is the best tasting and highest quality akamizuke I’ve ever had! I’ve eaten a lot of “akamizuke” which are just pieces of cheap tuna in soy sauce and it tastes completely different from the real thing.

Otoro Tuna Sushi

Otoro (Fatty tuna belly/大とろ)
This requires no further explanation. It’s the most expensive and most premium piece of sushi. There’s only a relatively tiny amount of meat on a bluefin tuna that can be properly classified as otoro and they usually sell for USD 30 or more per piece. The otoro was deliciously fatty, with a rich and lingering buttery mouthfeel. I’m very happy to have had experienced this.

Sabazuke Mackerel Sushi

Sabazuke (Mackerel marinated in shoyu/鯖)
Yum! This perfectly complements the otoro that I had just eaten. Just to be sure, I cleansed my palate with pieces of pickled ginger before starting on each piece of sushi. The mackerel is sliced very well, the difference between a high end sushi bar and a conveyer belt sushi is nowhere more apparent than here – the cuts are precise and there are multiple ones done on the surface of the fish so it produces an explosion of flavor when it touches your tongue.

Botan Ebi Shrimp Sushi

Botan-ebi (Sweet jumbo Japanese shrimp/ぼたんえび)
This is the large sweet shrimp that’s only available in Japan. They’re also called Toyama Shrimp and they’re found in Hokkaido. It’s a highly seasonal item that’s only available from November to March so I’m lucky to catch the tail end of the season (no pun intended). It’s my favorite piece of sushi – I love raw shrimp.

Hotate Sushi

Hotate (Scallops/帆立貝)
Hokkaido has a HUGE local scallop industry and I’ve eaten a lot of scallops in many forms (sashimi, dried, and even in ramen) while I was here. They’re possibly one of the sweetest sushi toppings around. It’s delicious and I closed my eyes in pleasure while eating it. No joke.

Hokkigai Sushi

Hokkigai (Surf clam/ホッキ貝)
Crunchy! It’s very fresh too since the surf clam is sourced right from Otaru on the very day itself. I liked the contrasting texture between the soft scallops to the crispy surf clam.

Tsubugai Whelk Sushi

Tsubugai (Whelk/ツブガイ)
I like whelk and I love how the sushi chef carefully sliced this from the shell, pounded it a few times with his knife and made small and shallow cuts diagonally to tenderize and let the flavors out.

Shako Sushi

Shako (Squilla mantis shrimp/シャコ)
This is what we call Mantis Prawn back home but from a different species. Squilla can only be found higher up, like in Japan. It’s cooked in mirin and sake and the cook time is quite unusual. It comes off as slightly textural, with many “grains” due to the amount of time it has spent and I found out that’s how the Japanese like it. It’s very sweet and has the ENTIRE shrimp on top of the sushi, both the body and tail, stacked on top of each other.

Zuwaigani Sushi

Zuwaigani (Snow crab/ズワイガニ)
Snow crab is one of the trio of crabs that’s abundant in Hokkaido around this time. It’s very sweet and pleasant tasting. This is one of the rare cooked sushi (the other is the Mantis Shrimp) and I’ve eaten it both raw and cooked in Sapporo and I prefer raw snow crab meat. However, cooked works better with the omakaze tempo.

Ikura Sushi

Ikura (Salmon roe/イクラ)
This is the first of the Gunkanmaki (Battleship Roll) – so called coz of the strip of nori (dried seaweed) that goes around the perimeter to hold in the topping. The salmon roe burst in my tongue, and the ratio was perfect (and generous).

Shirauo Icefish Sushi

Shirauo (Japanese icefish/白魚)
I have heard a lot about these tiny transparent fishes and I saw them on the sushi counter when I came in. I vowed I’ll order them a la carte if I didn’t get it in my omakaze. Luckily, I did get one as part of my meal. It was another exclusive for the most expensive Jun set. I loved the way the little fishes rolled around my tongue. It’s ticklish.

Namagaki Raw Oyster Sushi

Namagaki (Raw oyster/生ガキ)
Yum! The saline and moreish raw oysters (there are two on the sushi) blew me away. It’s ultra fresh and local.

Uni Sushi

Uni (Sea urchin/うに)
What is heaven? I think this may be right beside it in the dictionary. Behold! The sea urchin in Otaru is Grade AAA compared to the sad specimens we get locally. This is a premium variety called ezo bafun uni (short-spined sea urchin) that’s caught in Hokkaido and best during spring. It was so creamy and delicious I nearly came in my pants. I know that’s not what a proper gourmand should be writing in a review but it’s true, so there! smirk

Wakame Sea Mustard Sushi

Wakame (Sea mustard/若布)
This is my last piece of sushi. It’s a palate cleansing topping of edible seaweed, what they call wakame or sea mustard. I’ve seen a similar item as the cheapest version of sushi at local conveyer belt places but this tastes nothing like it. It’s very slippery and fresh.

Isezushi Dai “Hokkaido Special” Omakase (12 pieces for JPY 3,600)

Hirame Flounder Sushi

Hirame (Flounder/平目)
This is my dear’s omakaze which features only local Hokkaido seasonal ingredients. The first one was flounder or fluke.

Wazake Salmon Sushi

Sake (Japanese salmon/鮭)
A beautiful slice of Japanese salmon. Too bad you’re supposed to eat sushi in one bite or I’ll have loved to try it.

Kibinago Herring Sushi

Kibinago (Japanese herring/黍魚子)
These are not the herring we’re using to seeing. The silver-stripe round herring is a Japanese species that’s very popular as sushi and sashimi in Hokkaido.

Japanese Shrimp Sushi

Botan-ebi (Sweet jumbo Japanese shrimp/ぼたんえび)
This is the same thing that I had, a local in-season sweet raw Japanese shrimp.

Scallops Sushi

Hotate (Scallops/帆立貝)
I also had the local Hokkaido scallops. I was surprised to see that my dear liked it too!

Surf Clam Sushi

Hokkigai (Surf clam/ホッキ貝)
This was also on my Jun omakase. It’s a different picture though, due to the slight variations in the way it’s cut by the sushi chef.

Mizudako Octopus Head Sushi

Mizudako (Octopus/たこ)
This was actually described as “Head of Octopus” to us. I guess that means this meat is from the head of the octopus instead of the tentacles of the cephalopod.

Squilla Sushi

Shako (Squilla mantis shrimp/蝦蛄)
Yup, there are a few items that popped up on both our menus coz it’s a local Hokkaido specialty. My dear didn’t like the texture that much though. I personally thought the creamy sauce they made with the head of the mantis shrimp to top this sushi is out-of-this-world!

Snow Crab Sushi

Zuwaigani (Snow crab/ズワイガニ)
Snow crab leg. I also had this and it was delectable.

Salmon Roe Sushi

Ikura (Salmon roe/イクラ)
These are roe from local salmon, very rare.

Saffron Cod Roe Sushi

Komaiko (Saffron cod roe/コマイ)
I’m not sure if I got the hiragana correct or not but the romanji is right. Komaiko means saffron cod roe and it’s quite an unusual topping for sushi. The sushi chef sprinkled a few toasted sesame seeds on top. I wish I could have eaten this too but I know etiquette says you’re not supposed to share so we didn’t. I did order a la carte after though. Haha.

Sea Urchin Sushi

Uni (Sea urchin/雲丹)
Her Dai omakaze ended with luxurious uni as well. The sea urchin gonads are exquisite! Hokkaido uni is said to be the best in the world and this is ezo bafun uni, the best of the best. It’s nicknamed sea chestnut coz it tastes like chestnuts and comes in beautiful orange. My better half loved the sushi here (while she’s usually apathetic about local sushi) coz the rice is actually warm/hot instead of cold! The rice-to-neta ratio is very generous too and it’s just better in every single way.

Miso Soup

We were given a miso soup fortified with botan ebi (sweet Japanese jumbo shrimp) at the end of our meal.

Shrimp

I actually ordered two pieces of sushi a la carte after this. The first was to make up for a mistake. I was so enthusiastic about eating that when my tsubugai (whelk) sushi was served up, I actually *ate* it before my better half could take a photo. -_- Thus, I ordered it again so my dear could snap a quick picture. That’s how I have a photo even though I ate it before she could take it. We ordered it TWICE. She had it this time but didn’t like it coz it was too crunchy.

Shiro Mirugai Geoduck Sushi

Shiro mirugai (Geoduck giant clam/海松貝) JPY 880
I wanted more, especially since I had perused the extensive a la carte sushi menu and found geoduck. I asked for shiro mirugai and was surprised (and a little embarrassed) to hear the collective gasps from the other diners beside us. The two Japanese women muttered amazed exclamations when the sushi chef presented the geoduck sushi to me. The lone Japanese male taking up the last counter seat grunted his approval too. It was very nice. I’ve never had geoduck raw before and it’s so fresh in Japan.

Isezushi Bill

I later realized that the geoduck was the most expensive item in the a la carte menu, which explains the Japanese women’s reaction. My omakaze was nearly double the price of my dear’s despite only having 4 pieces more but the four pieces were premium items like otoro and icefish. The bill for the both of us came up to JPY 11,110 (RM 473 according to my exchange rates) which is very reasonable.

Isezushi Us

Isezushi (伊勢鮨) in Otaru, Hokkaido is a must-visit if you ever go there on a day trip. Be sure to make reservations and ask for a counter seat. The omakaze items changes depending on season so your neta (sushi topping) may vary. Oh, and the two nice Japanese aunties took a photo of us with the sushi chef. :) We were really glad we had an authentic sushi experience at a 1 Michelin Star restaurant. It was truly a delightful afternoon in Isezushi.

Bento in Japan

Bento Japan

Bento boxes are sold in every department store, grocery store and convenience store in Japan. It’s one of the most common items around, especially when there’s a konbini on every street corner. They’re priced very competitively too, but of course there are more premium versions which costs even more than a sit-down meal. We got ours at a huge multi-level shopping mall called Sapporo Factory.

Bento God of Discounts

I’ve actually watched an anime called Ben-To so I know that the best bento box that’s still unsold will get a special sticker. There’s also someone that comes out every day to put a discount sticker on the overdue products. This is the person that comes out at Sapporo Factory. They call her the “God of Discounts”. We waited until she did her thing to see if we could get discounted bento. HAHAHAHA. The ones we wanted didn’t get a discount though, it was only for certain items.

Japanese Bento

This is my bento. It costs 518 yen (about RM 22) and has 9 different containers. I believe this is what they call makunouchi bento (幕の内) which is a meal with everything. I love how everything is separated in Japan. They don’t mix stuff together so the taste will not combine – each item is separated by design, either using a separator (a fake plastic green leaf) or in a different part of the container.

Sapporo Bento

It has three (3) types of rice – plain Japanese white rice with ume (plum), soy sauce rice, and multi-grain rice. The six (6) different sides are steamed vegetables (middle – this is the best tasting one, surprisingly), tsukemono (pickled items), iwashi shoyuyaki (sardines sauteed in soy sauce – very nice too), tonkatsu (Japanese fried pork cutlet – hidden under the tamago/egg), and several other things I couldn’t identify but tasted delicious. smirk

Salmon Bento

This is what my better half chose for her bento. Hers is 406 yen (around RM 16) even though it’s smaller coz it has more meat. There’s a HUGE square of nori (dried seaweed) separating the rice from the sides. It has a generous slice of salmon, a pumpkin tempura, a pork tonkatsu, a piece of karaage (Japanese fried chicken) and some other condiments, including a piece of tamagoyaki (sweet Japanese rolled egg omelet) for dessert. I tried it and it was very nice.

Sapporo Factory Bento

I actually put on more than a couple of pounds in Hokkaido. I wanted to try so many different things so we had multiple meals per day. I told my dear, “We must try their bento boxes” and I learned that there are two kinds, the ones I wrote about here and the ones that’s only sold for long distance trips like on shinkansen called ekiben which we also had in Otaru. I’ll write more about the special ekiben soon coz it’s a separate topic. :)

Hokkaido Soup Stand

Hokkaido Soup Stand

WTF!!!! I can hear you guys scream from over here. smirk Don’t worry, we had 2 meals at Michelin star places in Hokkaido so there’s lots of good food write-ups coming up. This was actually our very first meal in Japan. We were on the way to our ryokan (traditional full service Japanese inn) so we didn’t want to spoil our appetite since we had a complete kaiseki (multi course formal Japanese dinner) due in a few hours.

Hokkaido Soup Chitose

Thus, we decided to grab something light to eat at New Chitose Airport while waiting for the shuttle to pick us up. My better half wanted to eat soup so we came here. Personally, my choice was beef tongue, very popular in Japan, but she doesn’t like beef. I can eat just about anything and I was very happy with the Hokkaido in the title so here we came.

エビとブロッコリーの北海道有機トマトクリーム
Shrimp and Broccoli in Hokkaido Organic Tomato Cream (JPY 910 or RM 38)

Hokkaido Soup Stand Set

This was my order. You can have it by itself for JPY 530 (S) or JPY 690 (M) and I opted for the smallest size since I didn’t want to ruin my appetite. You can have Set A (Hokkaido white rice, sprouted brown rice, circle bread of Hokkaido wheat + one drink) for JPY 380 extra or Set B (just one of the 3 starches, no drink) for a JPY 160 supplement. I opted for the full set and went with Hokkaido white rice (200 grams) and an iced coffee.

Hokkaido Shrimp Organic Tomato Cream

The rice was nice and fluffy and came locally so that was delicious. The real star was the huge and juicy shrimps though. It was my first preview of the wonderful and abundant seafood available in Hokkaido and I fell in love right away. It went very well with the organic tomato soup base with cream. The cream is local too, Hokkaido is a big dairy producer.

北海道白菜と豚肉の中華鍋
Wok of Hokkaido Chinese Cabbage and Pork (JPY 520 or RM 22)

Hokkaido Pork Soup

RM 22 for a soup seems a bit steep but the prices here are actually decent if you don’t convert. A regular meal per pax is usually around JPY 2,000 (RM 85) so it’s best not to convert. Haha. It’s a good thing I brought a fair amount of yen so we could eat whatever we wanted. The pork here was decent and the soup tasted good enough but I preferred mine. My dear had this and shared my rice.

Chitose Airport

I thought this was a good start to our Japan trip. It wasn’t over-the-top delicious or luxurious but that’s good coz we wanted to fit the kaiseki in later. Plus, since our first meal was so humble, the two other Michelin star restaurants we went to, the splurging on uni (sea urchin) with rice, the trio of snow crab, king crab and hairy crab is made all the more special. For that, Hokkaido Soup Stand served its purpose and we were both happy with what we had. Stay tuned for more! :)

Posted: 1:01 am Japan time (GMT/UTC +9)

Hyderabadi dum biryani @ Fierce Curry House, Bangsar

Hyderabadi Biryani

Fierce Curry House has consistently won awards for best Indian in the past few years. They have seriously good (and authentic) Hyderabadi dum biryani and I’ve been craving for a proper biryani meal so I popped over after my Invisalign appointment at Imperial Dental Bangsar. Fierce Curry House is just a 5-minute drive from the Telawi area.

Fierce Curry House

I’ve been here a couple of times, usually by myself, since my better half doesn’t like Indian food. I suggested eating biryani over the weekend and she wasn’t keen on it at all so this is something that I enjoy alone. I normally get my “biryani” fix at random mamaks around my place but I wanted something genuine this time. The “biryani” served at nasi kandar places is just pilaf – a completely different dish.

Fierce Bangsar

My first exposure to Hyderabadi dum biryani is (surprisingly) in Sibu. We have a place that serves up good chicken dum biryani and I often went when I was in primary school. My late mom liked it too so that’s probably where I picked up eating biryani from. Hyderabadi dum biryani is kinda like nasi briyani gam Johor – the protein (chicken, mutton, etc) is cooked together with the rice. There’s also an insanely good Hyderabadi dum biryani in Kuching made with camel meat!

Specialty Hyderabadi Dum Biryani

Fierce Curry House has a wide selection of Hyderabadi dum biryani. You can have Lobster Dum Biryani (RM 240), Crab Dum Biryani (RM 140) and Scallop Dum Biryani (RM 80). Vegetarians can also opt for Mock Meat Dum Biryani (RM 25), cheese fans would be at home with the Paneer Dum Biryani (RM 25) and fish lovers would be happy to hear about the Cod Dum Biryani (RM 80).

HB

However, all those meals need a 24-hour turnaround. Fierce Curry House only makes two types of biryani which is available every day – Chicken Dum Biryani (RM 17) and Mutton Dum Biryani (RM 19). It’s their flagship and you’ll see waiters carrying stacks of the dough-wrapped biryani metal containers out of the kitchen. I’ve tried both and the mutton version is a lot better. Their chicken is boneless thigh so it can be dry at times. I have a higher standard since the biryani place I go to when I was young served whole bone-in thighs. smirk

Papadum

You’ll be presented with complimentary papadum when you’re seated.

Papadum Dip

It’s paired with a deceptively spicy dip. The bright and pleasant green looks like mint but it’s actually chillies. Very hot ones. I also enjoyed the tiny shot of soup called rasam which they provide as an amuse-bouche – it’s mouth-wateringly sour, with lots of vegetables and tamarind inside. Perfect to whet your appetite.

Watermelon Lassi

I ordered a Watermelon Lassi (RM 7). It’s the lesser known cousin of the Mango Lassi and it’s fresh – the lassis here are made with freshly squeezed juice. Fierce Curry House has a wide range of lassis, I can recommend the Salted Lassi and the Masala Lassi if you want to try something different.

Dough Sealed Biryani

The biryani container comes sealed with dough around the metal lid. This locks the moisture in during the cooking process.

Dough Seal

You have to peel off the dough before you can dig into the biryani.

Biryani Rice

I went for the Mutton Dum Biryani (RM 19) which is served with Mixed Raita, Vegetable Achar and Gravy. There are pieces of mutton inside the wonderfully spiced biryani rice. The long grained Basmati rice is cooked to perfection – it’s fluffy and you can see the individual grains. It’s delicious! I liked the raita too, the cool yoghurt goes very well with the rich and salty biryani rice.

Mutton Biryani

I highly recommend Fierce Curry House if you’re craving for an authentic Hyderabadi dum biryani. The entire meal just cost RM 26. It’s a very reasonable lunch meal for the quality of food. It’s always packed though so you might have to come at off-peak hours and parking can be a pain in this area. There is a sister outlet in Publika called Fiercer by Fierce Curry House but I feel like the original outlet is still the best. Service is outstanding too, which is a rarity except in high-end Indian restaurants.

Pie Face Malaysia, Wangsa Maju

Pie Face Wangsa Maju

Pie Face! It’s a huge institution in Australia and there are many branches down under, not just in their New South Wales origins but in Victoria. I remember seeing it when we were in Melbourne 3 years ago and I even took a photo of the Pie Face shop. They’re famous for the quirky and funny faces they put on their pies to tell them apart.

Pie Face Malaysia

This was actually a little after my time as my convocation was in 2003. I spent almost 5 years in Melbourne and in between snowboarding, raves and doofs I managed to eat quite a lot of pies. Pies are very big in Aussie, and I do miss chowing down on a nice meaty Australian style pie. Thus, when I passed by Pie Face while finding parking during the weekend, I immediately walked in.

Pie Face Pies

The friendly tudung-clad girl behind the counter told me this branch just opened earlier this month. I think she said 10th of February. I was here for a Hearthstone event at 1 pm but I thought I could spare a bit of time to grab some lunch so I ordered the 2 Mini Pies + Coffee or Tea for RM 10 deal. The mini pies usually go for RM 5 and the regular sized ones for RM 7 so that’s a good deal – the drink is essentially free. I opted for a long black.

Mini Pies

There is a wide selection of pies divided into roughly two categories – Australia Premium and Local Favorites. I got one from each, the Mini Chunky Steak Pie and the Mini Beef Rendang Pie. You can choose to have “The Ultimate Aussie Stack” as an add-on. This is a topping of mash, peas and gravy for the pies and I highly recommend it. It costs RM 3 for The Stack (regular sized) and RM 1.50 for Mini Stack (mini pies).

Pie Face Stack

This is more of a Perth and Sydney thing, back in Melbourne we mostly just ate pies with ketchup on top. It is quite good though and the hot mash and peas goes very well with the chunky steak pie. It provides a more substantial meal too – all those carbs are quite satisfying to eat.

Chunky Steak Pie

You can see the generous filling of the pies here.

Pie Face Takeaway

I liked the mini pies, it gives you an opportunity to try out more flavors since the pies are about 1/2 the size of regular ones. You can also have them to go – I packed 6 of the mini pies back for my better half for RM 18 (a dozen mini pies are RM 34) as part of their Pie-tastic Deal. I got one of each flavor: Black Pepper Chicken Pie, Creamy Mushroom Pie, Curry Chicken Pie, Spicy Chicken Pie, Creamy Vegetable Pie, Classic Mince Beef Pie.

Pie Face

I think the two premium Australian pies from Pie Face are the best – Chunky Steak Pie and Classic Mince Beef Pie. The local favorites can be a little hit and miss. Some, like the Black Pepper Chicken Pie is decent but others like the Curry Chicken Pie is quite awful with too much potatoes inside. The latter tastes like a badly made karipap (local curry puff).

Apple Crumble Pie

I also grabbed an Apple Crumble Pie (RM 6) for dessert. Pie Face has a couple of sweet offerings as well and this was palatable enough.

Pie Face Me

It was good to see Pie Face in Malaysia. I know they opened an outlet in Sunway Pyramid but I’ve never seen it or heard about it until the weekend. I went to the recently opened one in Wangsa Walk Mall and I just happened to spot it coz I was parking to go to a Blizzard event. I actually started eating pies when I went to New Zealand for high school when I was 15 so I’ve been scoffing them for a while. It’s worth a visit if you’re ever hankering for a good ol’ Aussie pie. :)

Dinner @ (the new) Ming Mei Shi

Ming Mei Shi

Ming Mei Shi moved during the Chinese New Year and we haven’t been to the new location yet. It’s one of our family favorites. The restaurant consistently puts out good food and I go at least once every time I come back to Sibu. My sister and her family was back and we decided to come here to eat before she flew back. The new Ming Mei Shi is just located two blocks away from the old site.

Ming Mei Shi Restaurant

It’s now a standalone building (!!!) by itself. Ming Mei Shi has been very successful, there’s no doubt about it. Even my brother in law was impressed by their food. However, despite having over 3 times the capacity of their old lot, the restaurant was still packed. We managed to get a table on the second floor, beside a group of (loud) MLM/insurance dinners.

Dong Po Pork

Dong Po Pork
This is their signature dish and it comes with fluffy man tou (steamed buns).

Man Tou

The server will slice up the stewed pork for you and you stuff it inside the warm buns to eat. The kids loved this!

Foochow Tofu Soup

Foochow Tofu Soup
We don’t usually order soup but we were looking for something different to eat and the waitress suggested this classic. It’s tofu soup done in the classic Foochow way, with a tin of razor clams thrown in for flavor. I liked it very much, it was just like how my maternal grandma used to make it.

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken
This proved to be a hit when my better half came with the kids last time. We ordered the exact same thing and they liked it. However, the bright yellow color of the lemon chicken doesn’t come from food coloring, it comes from turmeric. Unfortunately, my niece and nephew didn’t like the taste of turmeric (we got this for them) so I ended up eating most of it.

Butterscotch Prawns

Butterscotch Prawns
I have always ordered this in Ming Mei Shi and they have always come out with the dry version e.g. it’s deep fried with butter. I wanted the wet version like Ruby Restaurant, which comes with a butterscotch sauce so I made sure to repeat the order several times. It still came out slightly dry with barely a teaspoon of gravy. I still love the huge de-shelled prawns though. I just don’t think they do the wet version here. smirk

Four Beans

Four Beans
This is a dish called “Four Heavenly Kings” and it’s basically a mixture of 4 different types of “beans” – okra, eggplant, green bean and corn. They do a mean and delicious version here, it’s very nice and not oily unlike other places.

Rendang Lamb Shank

Rendang Lamb Shank
This RM 60 lamb shank is made with condensed milk and it imparts a very sweet and creamy aftertaste to the gravy. There are only a couple made every day – last time I was here, they were all sold out and we managed to get one this time. It’s a little expensive for a regular sized lamb shank but you won’t complain when you take your first bite. It’s delicious.

Ming Mei Shi Sibu

The meal cost around RM 200 for all of us. There are five adults since my sister’s maid always flies in with her to take care of the children (she was the one who took this photo) and two kids so it’s quite reasonable for 7 pax. The new location is a lot better – all the tables have tablecloths and a dedicated lazy Susan and the chairs are comfortable. Be prepared for a long wait though, it took over an hour for the first dish to come out for us.

Martin Yan’s Longevity Noodles

Chef Yan Longevity Noodles

This is a special Chinese New Year menu item on all AirAsia flights. They’re made specially by Martin Yan for the Lunar New Year and features longevity noodles in an inventive recipe that includes a delicious thick sauce Chef Yan created himself, along with fresh minced chicken and a variety of vegetables like pickled carrots and radish, as well as green zucchini and red chilies.

Martin Yan AirAsia

Martin Yan’s Longevity Noodles by AirAsia goes for RM 15 a la carte or RM 16 as a combo with a 350 ml bottle of mineral water. The spicy chicken meat sauce goes very well with the crunchy texture of the julienned vegetables and the cooked-just-right longevity noodles with the perfect amount of soft-firm bite.

AirAsia Martin Yan

The hot sauce whets your appetite and the amount of sodium can probably kill a small horse but yet I was looking forward to eating this when I boarded. I forgot the pre-book the meal coz of the 24 hour minimum requirements and made sure to remind the cabin attendants (two of them, in fact) to let them know I wanted it so please hold one Martin Yan meal for me if possible.

AirAsia CNY

I finished eating it with satisfaction and asked the lady next to me to take a photo. Let it be known that I strongly approve of this particular meal! I’ve eaten food cooked by Chef Martin Yan before and I don’t usually go crazy over airline food (not even 1 Michelin star ones) but the Martin Yan’s Longevity Noodles had me licking the microwave foil container clean while not being too obvious about it. smirk

Martin Yan Longevity Noodles

I pondered ordering another one but I thought having a second 241 gram meal right after the first wouldn’t taste as good. It would be overkill and my taste buds are saturated anyway but it was an awesome festive lunch 30,000 feet in the air before I came back for Chinese New Year! :)

Our RM 890 8-Head Abalone Poon Choy Dinner

Poon Choy

This is a Chinese New Year tradition that I do with my better half and the kids. Her parents usually come along as well so it’s 6 pax for our poon choy dinner. I make it a point to do a lot of research before ordering the year’s poon choy (which is a big bowl feast with lots of stuff inside) and decided on Unique Seafood, Kota Damansara for our 2016 table.

Prosperity Poon Choy

I had to order and pay for the poon choy in advance – it costs RM 411.65 for a 5 pax poon choy with with 8-Head Abalone. It says RM 374.20 nett on the poon choy reservation slip, but that’s for take-out only. You get a 16% surcharge for service and GST if you dine-in, which is what we opted for this year.

Table Reservation

I made reservations for a table of 6 for 6:15 pm.

Seafood Fish Tanks

My dear’s father is a huge fan of fish so that was one of the reasons I had chosen this place for our Chinese New Year dinner. They have a wide range of seafood on offer – everything from lobsters to fish. It’s also super fresh (since they’re still alive and in aquariums) and you simply walk over to choose the specimen that you want and the chef will cook it for you.

King Grouper

He went for the King Grouper (RM 173/kg) and one of the waitresses fished out the 1.3 kg creature and it eventually ended up on our dinner table.

Abalone Salmon Yee Sang

I also wanted to have yee sang with everyone so I asked for their most premium version, which was the Abalone and Salmon with Fuji Apple Yee Sang (RM 160.90 for half portion). It’s good for them to offer 1/2 portions since a full portion would be too much for our table of 4 adults and 2 kids.

Lou Sang

The abalone was very good and sliced well, but the salmon was a little sad looking. We later found out that Japanese restaurants around Klang Valley has started offering fresh salmon and other seafood for yee sang at extremely competitive prices. Nevertheless, it was the symbolic tradition of the lou sang toss that means more than the food itself.

2016 Poon Choy

The 8-Head Abalone Poon Choy (RM 411.65) came next and it was enclosed in a claypot, complete with lid, and a heating source at the bottom. I dare say that this was the best poon choy we’ve had over the years and the hot nature of the ingredients contributed to that. Of course, the awesome selection of goodies was cooked to perfection too.

8-Head Abalone

This year had 8-head abalone, fresh prawns, fresh scallops, black moss, sea cucumber, huge sheets of fish maw, oysters, dried scallops, roasted duck, steamed chicken drumsticks, mussels, mushrooms, abalone slices and plenty of vegetables at the bottom. There was a lot to eat! Unlike last year’s poon choy, our 2016 poon choy was cooked together and all the flavors combined really well.

Grouper

The fish came after the server saw we were done with the poon choy. The King Grouper was cooked two ways – the first as slices of grouper in superior stock. This proved to be a hit as well, the entire grouper cost RM 224.90 (not inclusive of RM 12 cooking charge) and the flesh was soft and tender. I like how the freshness was accentuated by the cooking style too. The slices of grouper rested on soft and silky tofu, a very nice way of presenting it.

King Grouper Soup

The second course for the King Grouper came as a soup. Unique Seafood fried the head and bones and cooked it with some vegetables to produce a flavorful soup. It’s usually taboo to not serve a whole fish for Chinese New Year but since we have kids, it’s a lot easier (and more practical) to have the restaurant slice up the fish so there’s no bones and cook the head separately.

Waxed Meat with Glutinous Rice

I also ordered the Waxed Meat with Glutinous Rice (RM 44.35) which is a Chinese New Year staple. We barely made a dent in this since we were all full by then. I tapao it and we enjoyed it the next day though and it was delicious!

Seasonal Mixed Fruits

The kids wanted to have dessert so I ordered a platter of Seasonal Mixed Fruits (RM 20). They first had this when they came over to Sibu a few month’s ago. It’s nothing spectacular but maybe that was coz we were almost bursting with food at this point. Haha.

RM890 Bill

The bill came up to RM 890.50 for everything. I had already paid RM 414.50 when I reserved the poon choy earlier in the week (you have to pay up-front nowadays since it costs a lot to prepare the top shelf ingredients) so I just needed to pay RM 476 more after dinner. It’s slightly more than if you had booked a banquet but this way we got to choose what we wanted to eat and we had it centered around poon choy, which you can’t do with the banquet option.

Stuffed Scallops

I particularly enjoyed the fresh scallops stuffed into gourds and the fatt choy (black moss – a type of bacteria). I was quite surprised to see the little one eating a whole 8-head abalone by herself too. It was really yummy and we nearly managed to finish the poon choy despite just having 4 adults.

Unique Seafood

It was a great poon choy dinner and I’ll be looking to try a different restaurant’s poon choy around this time next year. Chinese New Year is coming up in less than a week’s time! Happy Chinese New Year everyone! :)

Tanoshii Dezato – Japanese Taiyaki (Fish Cake) Ice Cream

Tanoshii Dezato

Tanoshii means enjoy, so this ice cream cafe literally means Enjoy Dessert in Japanese,” I proudly declared to my better half. It seems that my years of watching anime during college in university had paid off at last. smirk I could only piece together the two words, hardly enough for our trip to Hokkaido in a month’s time but sufficient for our dessert pit stop.

Tanoshi Dezato

We had come across Tanoshii Dezato in Tropicana City Mall, which offers the intriguing creation of a taiyaki (baked sea bream – the Japanese style fish cake) filled with custard, topped with ice cream and a fruit.

Custard Taiyaki

The Signature Taiyaki costs RM 12.80 and you can customize it with a stuffing, ice cream flavor and fruit of your choice. There’s everything from red bean to chocolate for the filling and several ice cream flavors in addition to peach, kiwi, strawberry and banana as the fruit option.

Freshly Made Taiyaki

The interesting thing at Tanoshii Dezato is that the taiyaki is freshly baked on the spot! This mean it’ll be crunchy and warm and we were looking forward to eating the unusual Japanese themed ice cream “cone”.

Taiyaki

The woman manning the counter had two small fans to cool the taiyaki cone so the ice cream won’t melt when it’s inserted. The custard is baked inside the fish cake (see previous pic) and the fruits are all fresh!

Taiyaki Ice Cream

We went for a custard filled taiyaki with matcha ice cream and fresh peach. It tasted wonderful! The taiyaki is stuffed with the custard filling so there’s something for you to eat with the “cone” and the ice cream goes into the taiyaki cone too. I like how the fruits are fresh instead of canned.

Black Sesame IceCream

My dear also wanted another scoop of black sesame ice cream by itself. The ice cream costs RM 7 per scoop if you want it a la carte. Tanoshii Dezato also sells taiyaki by itself for RM 9.90 but the combo of the two with fruits just cost RM 12.80 so that’s the better option unless you’re too full to eat the taiyaki.

Signature Taiyaki

Tanoshii Dezato just started serving soft-serve ice cream. The signature taiyaki ice cream dessert with the soft-serve ice cream will be only RM 10.80. I asked why that was cheaper and the friendly lady there told us that it’s coz the soft-serve ice cream is made in-house while the other ice cream is imported from Japan so it’s RM 12.80. It’s worth a trip if you’re into new and unusual ice cream concepts.

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