Hui Lau Shan Healthy Dessert

hui lau shan hong kong

Hui Lai Shan is one of the extremely popular dessert chains around Hong Kong.

hui lau shan menu

There is basically no seating – it’s like the bubble tea establishments on the street, except this offers a new twist by having “healthy drinks”. You get a number when you order and you wait for your drink to be prepared at a side counter.

hui lau shan counter

The drinks are in the HKD 20+ range and there are heaps of options you can choose from, all with a local twist.

hui lau shan hk

I notice the trend is to have a local base with various fruits on top, such as the tongue twisting Glutinous Rice Balls in Mango Cubes & Coconut Juice with Red Bean.

hui lau shan healthy drink

I ordered from the Bird’s Nest and Honey Jelly Series – this is the popular E4 – Bird’s Nest & Honey Jelly in Mango & Coconut Juice for HKD 25 (about RM 10). I added HKD 3 for a larger 16 oz drink.

Birds Nest Honey Jelly Mango Coconut Juice

These drinks are surprisingly addictive. It tastes really good. The bird’s nest and honey jelly breaks apart into soft and slurp-able pieces when you stir it with the huge straw. The coconut milk (not juice as stated on the menu) goes very well with the mango pieces (that’s your daily dose of fruit right there) and jelly.

hui lau shan drink

It’s the perfect drink while walking around Hong Kong on a hot day. :)

Eating stinky tofu in Hong Kong

eating stinky tofu

Stinky tofu is one of the great gastronomical items that Hong Kong does very well. It’s available from most street vendors and you just have to follow your nose to find this wicked delight.

hong kong street vendor

The smelly tofu in Hong Kong is astonishingly odoriferous. It smells really, really bad. It made me wince the first time I had it. The pungent stench is quite intense.

smelly tofu

This is what the innocent stinky tofu (called chao dau foo) looks like before it’s deep fried. Smelly tofu is basically marinated and fermented tofu, which produces the signature smell. I remember an old HK movie where a Caucasian complains about the smell, tries it and then becomes an ambassador of sorts, loudly proclaiming “This smells really bad but it tastes wonderful”.

stinky tofu hong kong

That was exactly how I felt. I’m not a big fan of tofu but I was eager to try stinky tofu in Hong Kong. I had it twice at two different street vendors. It’s usually eaten with long wood skewers straight from a paper bag. The smelly tofu costs around HKD 9 (RM 4) for two pieces and you can opt to have spicy hoisin sauce on it.

stinky tofu

Stinky tofu has a crumbly crust that smells strongly of ammonia. The odor is palpable – it smells like a public toilet that has not been cleaned for months! The intense aroma is matched by the equally breathtaking taste. Smelly tofu tastes like someone dusted the tofu pieces with dried urine.

It also makes for very messy eating as the entire thing is so greasy it dripped everywhere. However, the experience is very rewarding. Stinky tofu tastes like nothing else in the world. You can smell/taste the ammonia as you chew it and the crust is quite salty. It’s crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and best eaten piping hot on the street.

eating smelly tofu

You’ll have really bad breath for the rest of the day but it’s worth it! smirk

Cha Chang Teng in Hong Kong

char chang teng

Cha Chang Teng (literally tea houses) is the equivalent of mamaks in Hong Kong. They’re everywhere and they cook up a fusion of East-meets-West cuisine. The waiters are loud, the place is packed and the locals all wind up eating there at some point or another.

chinese tea

You’ll be served with Chinese tea (complimentary) as soon as you sit down and since I can’t read Chinese, my ex patiently narrated the daily specials for me.

tea counter

I later found out that they have an English menu. It is a significantly abridged version of the Chinese menu, but it’s available.

char siew noodles

I went for a HKD 24 (RM 10) noodle dish which contains slices of char siew (barbecued meat), bak choy and pickled vegetables. It came in a thin broth but was surprisingly good. You can choose the noodles you want – I went for the ramen-like instant noodles.

pork macaroni

My ex had the bizarre macaroni meets pork slices in soup. It costs HKD 36 (RM 15) and comes with a side order of…

buttered toast

…buttered toast and a deep fried chicken wing.

people-eating-hk

I didn’t quite like her dish though. The macaroni fusion idea wasn’t executed very well. It sounds like an intriguing dish but it tasted rather bland.

tea house

However, I highly recommend their milk teas (nai cha). It’s brewed strong and tastes a little like our teh tarik minus the bubbles.

hong hong tea

There is a very popular evaporated milk brand called Black & White which they use liberally in their tea. The cup and saucer even comes with the brand of the above mentioned milk embossed on it.

hong kong food

I highly recommend going to a char chang teng when you’re in Hong Kong. The food can be hit and miss but you’ll have plenty of options – both inane and out-of-the-ballpark weird. There’s also something very appealing about the ambiance – the loud conversations, the shouted orders, the waiters jesting with you.

eating hong kong

It’s the definitive Hong Kong epicurean experience. You can’t get more local than this. :)

Posted: 9:12 PM Hong Kong time.

Tower Chocolate Double Cheesecake

tower chocolate double cheesecake

Before Secret Recipe opened up a branch in Sibu, the place to get quality cakes for birthdays and other celebrations was at Tanahmas Hotel. They have pretty good cheesecakes in Peppers Cafe (the hotel’s cafe) and I revisited the place with Anthea right before flying back.

jelly pisang sibu

I was here a couple of days ago to explore the mythical Sibu Famous Jelly Pisang. I had the exact same thing this time around. Heh! I noticed that the entire bottom is made out of jelly – probably a good 1/3 of it, and I really liked how the entire shaved ice dessert goes.

anthea goh

This time around I also ordered one of the cakes that caught my eye from the glass display counter.

tower cake

This is the Tower Chocolate Double Cheese. It’s a tiny cake about the size of two stacked Tiffany boxes – half of it contains their famous cheesecake and it’s topped with a layer of chocolate mousse. The entire shebang is then drizzled with chocolate sauce, a piece of their kitchen-made chocolate and a maraschino cherry.

chocolate mousse

It’s really quite good and reminds me of why Peppers Cafe used to be the king of cakes – if you wanted one, that’s where you go in Sibu. :)

Ruby Restaurant, Sibu

ruby

This is one of my favorite places to eat in Sibu. I guess you can call it a dai chow place but over here we just call it “choo chiak” which is literally Hokkien for “cooking food”. I met up with Arthur a couple of hours after we touched down and headed over to this restaurant for lunch.

ruby restaurant

Ruby Restaurant has a surprisingly rapid turnover for a weekday lunch. I remember eating rice with cooked dishes for lunch when I was working for a short stint in Sibu. You can actually do that, and in fact, a lot of people do. There was a huge group of all-females in office attire occupying a huge table when we were there.

ruby coffee

Anyway, when you go to Ruby’s (the Chinese characters for the restaurant apparently means “red ruby”) with Arthur, you’ll be remiss if you didn’t order their coffee. It is made to the exact specifications of Arthur, a bit of a regular here, and it’s really good, thick coffee.

ruby coffee black

You can actually watch it turn from milky brown to black as the coffee seeps up.

ruby midin

This is midin – a local fern. I can’t find it outside of Sarawak so it’s a must-have dish whenever I go back home. It actually grows in the wild and locals pick and sell it in the local market. It’s crunchy to the bite and very nice when you get it right. That means it should be in the wok for just a short amount of time.

ruby mani chai

The other vegetable dish that we ordered is what we called mani chai. This leafy vegetable is defoliated from its stalk before cooking – only the leaves are eaten. It’s usually fried with eggs and it’s one of the few vegetable dishes I would eat as a kid…mostly coz of the egg. ;)

ruby beef curry

Arthur also asked about specials and the chef informed us that they just cooked up a batch of beef curry so ordered that too. It came out in a bowl and the beef curry isn’t overflowing with thin gravy like most Chinese style curry dishes but sat in a thicker, clingy gravy like rendang. I loved it, the beef pieces were tender and the curry is flavorful. There’s even bits of potatoes inside, which goes very well with the curry.

ruby butter prawns

This is the butter cheese prawns and the main reason I like going to Ruby. It’s not dry with sprinkles of deep fried butter on top, but made with a creamy butter sauce that’s heavenly sweet. I have really missed this dish – no one does it better than Ruby, IMHO. The prawns are battered and deep fried before being cooked in butter, resulting in a sweet, rather than salty dish. *drools

ruby arthur

It was great to meet up with Arthur again – we had quite a long lunch before he had to go fix his car and it hardly felt more than 30 minutes. Time just flies when you’re catching up with old friends. Thanks for the lunch, Arthur! :)

Sibu Famous Jelly Pisang

sibu famous jelly pisang

I was having pre-dinner drinks at Peppers Cafe earlier today before finally capitulating and ordered the Sibu Famous Jelly Pisang (RM 7). It is described as “Fresh banana slices with strawberry jelly in sugar syrup topped with shaved ice, finished with Ideal milk and laced with strawberry syrup”.

I’m from Sibu and I’ve never heard of such a concoction before, much less with a “famous” tag preceding it. *squints suspiciously

tanahmas

However, it seems that there really is such a dessert despite my initial skepticism and dark thoughts about fleecing unsuspecting tourists. Eddy told me that Jelly Pisang was a very big thing back when he was a teenager – all his Malay friends would eagerly go for a bowl on a particularly hot day.

I’m not sure if it’s a Sibu thing or more of a Sarawak thing but anecdotes seem to suggest the former. This is further confirmed by Arthur’s blog post about it and a mention of it being a specialty of Ban Chuan Coffee Shop way back in the days.

jelly pisang

Jelly Pisang (banana jelly) is delicious – there is no sweetener in the iced concoction, the shaved ice only has cordial (for color) and evaporated milk.

However, when you bite into the huge mass of jelly, you get an intense sugar rush. The jelly forms 1/3 of the entire dessert and sets at the bottom. You scoop up large chunks of it like ruby red sugar icebergs when you dip your spoon down. There’s no fine dicing (a sure indicator of mass production) here, which is a good thing.

peppers cafe

The Jelly Pisang is really quite nice, as the unsweetened shaved ice contrasts nicely with the saccharine sweet in-house made jelly. The banana slices are lovely too. However, it seems that time has not been kind to this particular dessert.

It has largely fallen out of favor and is now mostly available in cafes and restaurants under “Local Desserts” as a historical ode to days gone by, instead of stalls.

Y2K on 9/9

y2k dinner

I just had dinner with the extended clan at Y2K. It’s a family favorite – my dad is a huge fan of their low MSG and salt style of cooking. The chef comes out with dishes really fast too, probably due to the relative lack of customers.

y2k empty

The restaurant next door is more popular since Y2K is priced slightly higher. A meal would probably cost a bit more for the exact same dishes but I doubt the proprietors care much. They have their loyal regulars…and Y2K is entirely family run.

y2k owners

The cook and his wife maintains the nitty gritty stuff while the new generation – the son and his wife, pictured above, runs the front end customer service.

y2k food

I’m pretty bushed now coz I haven’t slept (except for a quick cat nap during the flight) since I woke up at 7 am on Thursday. I’m turning in now, I’m super exhausted. I’ll update again soon…had a great lunch with Arthur just now which I haven’t written about. :D

Sanbanto Premium Pork Cafe, SS2

sanbanto

I just came back from dinner at Sanbanto in SS2 with Cheryl, Kah Wheng and Lainey. Cheryl is in town for the holidays, the last time we met was earlier this month in Penang at Agua Mediterranean Restaurant.

sanbanto ss2

Well, Cheryl’s been wanting to go to Sanbanto forever. I bought a voucher from MilkADeal specifically for the SS2 branch (which has very limited seating). The original branch at SS2 is the genesis of the Sanbanto story – a cafe and purveyor of fine pork products. They have their own farm and there’s a deli in front that offers everything you’ll want from a pig.

sanbanto deli

The most interesting thing about Sanbanto is that they have a butchery right on the premises. Discard your notions of the dirty ones you’ve seen – the one is Sanbanto is almost like a clean room – it’s highly sanitized and super chilled to keep the pork fresh.

sanbanto cold room

Sanbanto is one of those places that prides itself on high quality pork – they rear their own pigs and the dishes they cook at their restaurants is made with love. In fact, most of the stuff is freshly made – I can see where my pork meatballs came from just a few minutes ago.

sanbanto Pork Belly Salad

Pork Belly Salad (RM 13)
This lettuce, onion and cherry tomato salad is liberally sprinkled with pieces of crispy pork belly. It’s delicious when dipped in the honey mustard sauce.

sanbanto Cheese Baked Pork Meat Balls

Cheese Baked Pork Meat Balls (RM 10)
Divine is perhaps the best adjective to describe this appetizer. The cheese is so thick that it leaves a sticky trail like what you see when you pull a slice of pizza apart.

cheryl wee

The pork meat balls are really delicious too – it’s firm and goes very well with the cheesy sauce. I saw the waitress cum butcher work on a new batch of pork balls when this dish was ordered – you just gotta love freshly prepared meals.

Sanbanto Double Bacon Cheese Burger

Sanbanto Double Bacon & Cheese Burger (RM 32)
The one we got in the voucher has a double patty instead of a single one – the beauty about this gigantic burger is that the patty is home-made. It’s flavored nicely too – I expected to be disappointed with this (it is after all just a burger) but it surprised me by being one of the best dishes that we had. It’s the juicy and well-marinated patties combined with the bacon that elevated this common menu item into something special. I highly recommend this.

sanbanto Pork BBQ Ribs

Pork BBQ Ribs (RM 38)
Heavenly. Yes, I know I’ve used two celestial adjectives in this post but there’s no other way to describe it. It’s high on the fat content (as all good pork ribs should be) – don’t worry about getting a drab piece of lean meat when you order this in Sanbanto. It’s amazingly tender and practically falls right off the bone and the sauce that goes with it?

sanbanto pork

Mouth-watering nirvana!

sanbanto fresh pork

Sanbanto, SS2 also has the benefit of having excellent service in addition to all the porcine delights you would want. The seating is very limited but I think that’s a plus point – it maintains the ambiance of a small cafe with great service and delicious food! Thanks for the dinner Cheryl and Kah Wheng! :)

Want more awesome deals?

siam 62
RM 25 instead of RM43 for Authentic Royal Thai Cuisine Buffet for 1 Pax at Siam 62, Palm Spring@Damansara. Pork Free [42% OFF]

This looks really good. I actually get the vouchers that I find interesting so you’ll hear from me soon! You just can’t argue with RM 25 for an all-you-can-eat buffet at Siam 62 – it’s one of the few authentic Thai cuisine places out there!

sanbanto us

…now can someone tell me what the Chinese words for Sanbanto mean? We’ve been wondering but forgot to ask the people there.

Donald & Lily’s Authentic Nyonya Food, Melaka

donald lily nyonya food

Donald & Lily’s Authentic Nyonya Food is an unassuming establishment located inside a residential lot. I wanted to try the ayam ponteh (which is apparently quite good) and called the night we drove into Melaka to see if they have it. They did (at that time) but we only went the next day. Donald & Lily’s only cooks ayam ponteh during public holidays and on weekends so be sure to get there at the right time if you want to sample that.

donald lily melaka

The place is decorated pretty much like a living room – you feel like you’re eating at someone’s house…and that’s exactly what Donald & Lily’s offers – home cooked food. They’re famous for their Nyonya style cendol and laksa. They also have a sign that says “Beware of Dog” – it’s not there for show, Fido really does reside here…

donald lily jonker

…he’s in the kitchen, near the washrooms.

nyonya cendol

Nyonya Cendol
Ahh…now this is one of the best cendol I’ve ever had in Melaka. Yup, it’s better than the one in Jonker Street. They literally douse the entire shaved ice concoction with gula Melaka (palm sugar) and it’s extremely sweet and cold – perfect for the oppressive hot weather in Melaka. I had two bowls of this. Bliss!

mee siam

Mee Siam
This is fried rice vermicelli mixed with some sort of sweet sauce. I didn’t like it, and neither did Mel. Go for the laksa instead.

nyonya rojak

Nyonya Rojak
This is recommended by the proprietor, who I assume is Lily of the restaurant’s namesake. It consists mostly of fish slices and tofu with a heavy sprinkling of chili sauce and sesame seeds on top. It’s an interesting dish and quite different from the rojak we usually have.

nyonya laksa

Nyonya Laksa
This is Donald & Lily’s signature dish. The bowl of piping hot laksa is heavy on the palate, but in a good way. The gravy is so thick that you can float a soup spoon full of rice vermicelli on top and it won’t sink. The secret of a good laksa dish is always in the gravy. I’m not a fan of creamy gravies in laksa – I’m more of an asam laksa person. However, I have to say Donald & Lily’s Nyonya Laksa is really delicious!

laksa

Donald & Lily’s serves up a hearty bowl of authentic Nyonya laksa. This old lady came in with her son to order a bowl but she was told they’ve sold out. The disappointment on her face was palpable – she mentioned that she has walked a very long way just to try their acclaimed laksa…and the kitchen relented and cooked up a batch just for her. That’s how good their laksa is. It comes highly recommended from me too. :)

boatHouse restaurant, TTDI

boatHouse

boatHouse in TTDI is one of those places which you assume is the local watering hole but actually serves excellent food! I have heard good things about boatHouse and marvelled at their interesting bar when I walked past.

aquarium bar

They actually have a fully functional aquarium as a bar so you can watch the fishes swim along while you’re in your cups. :)

boat

boatHouse also has a lot of ship related décor, which probably explains the name. I bet you can get the “I’m on a boat!” badge on 4sq just from checking into the place. Heh.

Appetizers

oysters with caviar

Oysters with lumpfish caviar
One dozen oysters with lumpfish caviar (both black and red) is presented on a bed of shaved ice. I love oysters and it’s a stroke of good luck that not many of the others are, so I ate more than my fair share. :)

oyster lumpfish caviar

I had 6-7 of these lovely things and boatHouse dishes up really good oysters. You’ll think that oysters is fairly easy to do but there are flavor and texture nuances that adds a lot to it – for this, it was the two types of lumpfish caviar and the generous scallion (spring onions) and caper bud toppings. When your slurp the oyster, you’ll bite down into the juicy flesh, with the caviar popping on your palate and the spring onions bringing a nice crunchiness to the table. It’s delicious.

pig skin balls

Pig skin & balls
This decadent appetizer is made of pork wrapped in bacon. It goes very well with the dipping sauce and there’s a side of salad with cherry tomatoes, grapes, and other palate cleansing ingredients that diffuses the strong taste of the pork. I liked it, but it’s a bit too heavy as an appetizer for me. Your mileage may vary though.

caramelized roast pork

Caramelized roast pork
This is basically char siew. Lovely.

Mains

Spaghetti Scallop Olio with Poppy Seeds

Spaghetti Scallop Olio with Poppy Seeds
The presentation of this pasta dish is great – note the edible ornament and the sprinkling of poppy seeds (no, that isn’t pepper) on top of the dish. The olio (olive oil) based sauce is light on the palate and there is a generous portion of scallops lining the bed of the plate. I popped two of the scallops into my mouth and they were fresh and juicy!

Hollard Pork Belly Ribs

Holland Slow-baked Pork Belly Ribs
A feast for porcine lovers! I like how the pork belly is not excessively lean, but has a healthy layer of fat on it.

Fettuccine Pesto Beef Rocket Leaves

Fettuccine Pesto Beef with Rocket Leaves
I’m not sure why but every time I hear (or read) the words “rocket leaves” in a dish, it just somehow puts me off. I think it’s coz rocket leaves are the “in” thing right about now, and it seems that everyone is trying to incorporate it into their menu. It has become kinda gimmicky in the F&B industry.

rocket leaves

However, boatHouse surprises again by having a really good reason for putting rocket leaves into their pasta. The choice of fettuccine is perfect, as it absorbs the sauce well and we were told to eat the pasta with the rocket leaves. I did just that, and I was blown away. The contrasting textures plays a delicious medley in your mouth and for once, I have to agree wholeheartedly that the rocket leaves adds a lot to the dish.

preperation

Steak au Poivre a la Gueridon
This is hands down my favorite dish at boatHouse! It doesn’t look like much…yet, but wait!

flaming steak

It’s prime fillet steak flamed with brandy right beside your table. Just look at the pyrotechnics!

charbroiled steak

I rant a lot about how restaurants in Malaysia do not understand what “rare” means in steak parlance. boatHouse is not one of these places. They know what rare means and they do it very well! The steak practically melts in your mouth, even after I asked them to sear it three time so I could get a shot of the flames.

Steak au Poivre a la Gueridon

The charbroiled steak is served with a VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) cognac gravy which adds a lot to the flavor. It’s not just a visual feast but an epicurean one. I highly recommend this dish!

Desserts

chocolate souffle

Chocolate Souffle
Oh, how do I describe the awesomeness that is boatHouse’s chocolate souffle? It’s hot from the oven and the melted chocolate with hidden cherry treasures inside is simply orgasmic! Add a bite of the lightly grilled banana and you’re in pure heaven. The hyperbole is justified. I haven’t had a souffle this good for a long time. :)

flambe

Crepe Suzette
This is an excellent option for those who’re not big fans of chocolate. The orange slices are flambeed right beside you. That’s right, I said orange slices. A lot of Crepe Suzette uses orange juice with liquor but not boatHouse. They use actual orange slices, and a lot of it to boot!

Crepe Suzette

I love the light and fluffy crepes that goes into this dish. There just a hint of bitterness from the orange rinds that tops it, but that is offset by the scoop of vanilla ice cream. It all works together to create a complex flavor profile. It’s magnificent!

milkadeal

I was there for a food review session courtesy of MilkADeal and Nuffnang. This is the first time I’ve met the guys, it was a pleasure. I remember a discussion about the drinks that we had too – I think it’s a grape soda based concoction and it sure brings back childhood memories.

nuffnang

I enjoyed the dinner, particularly the oysters, steak, chocolate souffle and Crepe Suzette. Those were the highlights of the meal. I wish I could have tried the cempedak chicken too, but no worries, there’s always time for another trip there. It’s not too far from my place. Thanks for having us, boatHouse! :)

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