I was in HCMC this weekend, just went for 3D/2N for some righteous Vietnamese food. I like pho but the thing I crave for the most is bahn mi – I ate it three (3) times during my trip, at 3 different stalls and bakeries! The first one was the best – the bread was crusty, soft, yet fulfilling at the same time. Some places have an overly soft baguette which I don’t personally like – I prefer the bread to have a bit of bite to it. I also had pho, com ga (chicken rice) and Vietnamese coffee! There was an unusual dish consisting of pork blood porridge with random pig organs on the side but I didn’t include it here coz it’s a mukbang – stay tuned, I’m editing it now.
This is the Boodle Feast that we had earlier this week. I had no idea what a “Boodle Fight” was until I saw photos of a previous one. It’s a tradition from the Philippines where you eat with your hands from a communal mound of rice surrounded with meat and seafood on a bed of banana leaves.
This seems to originate from the Philippine Military Academy, where they call it a Boodle Fight.
My bro Eddy took the time to make this happen. It’s a good thing his wife is Pinoy (and cooks really well) and the 9 of us sat down to this unique dining experience at his home.
The meat is primarily grilled using the BBQ. Jona has been working the grill the entire day to prepare this dinner.
There was the delicious ikan terubok (toli shad) – a popular local fish which is currently only available from several spots in Sarawak.
This is what the fish looks like before cooking. It has been salted although it’s not salted fish per se. It’s a strange hybrid I’ve grown to love.
The banana leaves were laid down to cover two tables – first a bed of smaller leaves and then the full green luscious ones were put on top as the eating surface.
There are no plates or spoons – you use your hands for the Boodle Feast.
It was a lot of food!
There are three kinds of eggs – salted duck eggs were mixed into the rice together with boiled quail eggs and halved chicken eggs on the side.
Pork chops, barbequed beef, mutton, chicken, fish and sausages represented the protein while cucumbers, okra and tomatoes provides a palate cleanser of sorts.
I thought the tomatoes were brilliant as it gives a burst of citrus like tang, which prevents an overload from the massive amounts of meat.
You basically take a portion of rice from the middle to your own eating spot on the banana leaf and start eating.
Hands are utilized for everything and it made for a really unique and interesting no-cutlery-allowed eating experience. I ate so much from the boodle feast I felt like bursting!
Eddy is my brother, not by something as accidental as blood, but something much stronger – by choice. He’s always been a solid friend ever since I met him in 2008. He’s usually the one picking me up when I fly back to Sibu and this time was no exception. His wife Jona is a great cook and I went over for dinner the other day.
Fried salted ikan terubok (toli shad)
This is ikan terubok (also known as toli shad or Chinese herring). It’s a very popular fish in Sarawak. Toli shad is only available here and there are two varieties – the fresh ones and the dried + salted version. You can see the distinctive pattern here coz the scales are not removed (!!!).
You actually deep fry the entire fish and it comes out very crunchy so you can eat the scales and bones. I thought that was very intriguing – I’ve never had it this way before and wanted to get some for my better half to try. It’s sooooo delicious. You can only get this fish in Kuching though.
I didn’t eat this until after I finished all my rice coz I didn’t grow up with soup so it’s not essential to my diet. I know some cultures like Foochow and Cantonese which accords soup a very important (even essential) place on the dinner table. I found the soup to be very flavorful from the meatballs and the texture of the soft vegetables (from boiling) to be quite heartening.
Stewed pig stomach
This is not for the picky eater but I love it. The hog maw is from Golden Happiness Restaurant. I’ve eaten the same dish before during Chinese New Year and they do it really well. It’s a mixture of organs – pig tail, pig ears, and duck.
This is the healthiest item for the night. Eddy has two Indonesian maids and he treats them really well. We all eat together during buka puasa (the breaking of fast during the month of Ramadan for them, who are Muslims).
This is something new for me as well. I was quite hungry when I woke up (fell asleep at his place coz I’ve been working late nights during this trip) and had one of the otak-otak sausages before dinner. It’s very spicy and really tastes like otak-otak, although it’s not made of fish. I’m not sure what kind of protein is inside, let’s just say it’s a lip-smacking package of mystery meat in tube form.
A comfort food that most people has grown up with. It’s large Bombay onions chopped and fried with eggs. The sweetness from the onions make this a very familiar and welcome addition to the meal.
Pan-fried lamb chops
I love lamb chops. My mom used to cook them for us when we she was still alive and all of our family like the taste of lamb. I’m particularly fond of unrendered lamb fat – it’s strong tasting and gamey to a lot of people but these very characteristics are the same reason I love the fatty parts.
Bitter gourd fritters
Bitter gourd chips! This is thinly sliced bitter gourd that’s been battered and fried. It’s crunchy and slightly bitter – pure awesome! I’ve also never had it this way, that’s why I always like eating at Eddy’s house. Jona always comes out with food that I don’t eat often (or at all) so it’s a pleasure to sample these new dishes.
It was a delightful dinner. I’ve always enjoyed eating at Eddy’s place due to the splendid cooking. I tend to overeat and stuff myself but it’s worth it, coz I hardly ever eat here unless I’m back home. There’s always something interesting on the table and the fare is better than most restaurants out there.
We’ve been meaning to go to Palsaik for a very long time. The concept is quite intriguing – there are 8 pieces of different flavoured pork belly (samgyupsal) in lieu of the standard “beef bulgogi” in a Korean BBQ setting. It’s a South Korea franchise, so it was really authentic too – everything from the beer to the foliage that comes with your meat just feels right. I’ve been to Korea twice and decided to bring my better half here on Sunday for lunch.
There are only 3 items on the menu and it all revolves around pork so if The Divine Pig is not your thing, this probably isn’t somewhere you want to come. However, for the rest of us who loves oink oink, this is exactly the place to be. The 3 items on the menu are basically portion sizes – there’s a 3Color Set (meaning you can choose 3 different pieces of flavoured 150 gram pork belly) meant for 2 pax, an 8Color Set with the full range of 8 flavors for 3-4 pax, and a Premium Set with everything in the 8Color Set plus grilled deodeok (a root of a plant) for 3-4 pax.
We chose the complete 8Color Set since we wanted to try every single flavor they have. It’s called Palsaik after all – which I assume means “eight colors”. The pork belly comes in neatly sliced 150 gram pieces in separate bowls on a wooden board with an arrow from left to right indicating where you should start eating – from the mildest to the strongest/most intense flavors.
The 8 flavors of pork belly are:
- Pine leaves
- Miso paste
I also ordered a bottle of makgeolli – a milky, off-white Korean rice wine that weighs in at a surprising 14.45% alcohol. It comes in a plastic 750 ml bottle for RM 20, which is quite cheap – that’s the same abv and content of a regular wine bottle. I’ve had this in Korea during my two trips there and an interesting attempt by Seoul to export their culture and food has resulted in this being apparently dubbed “drunken rice”.
The 8Color Set also comes with a bowl of seafood soup. This is quite authentic jjigae type dish that comes with *tons* of seafood like crab, prawns, squid, clams, mussels and octopus. We both loved the hearty spicy soup.
There are servers who will help you grill the garlic and meat and you really just need to sit back and fold the pieces of meat together with the condiments in various types of leaves – from butter lettuce to herbs.
I quite liked the ginseng one, it started very well. Surprisingly, the wine one was a miss for me, the marinade didn’t work through the meat well and all I got was an overwhelming taste of slightly-off pork. The pine leaves was mild and unique, the garlic superbly done with tons of flavor – they must have soaked that in for a very long time. The herb one was very interesting too. The curry pork belly slice didn’t do much for me, and we were too full by the time the miso paste one was done. The treacherous sounding hot flavor was in fact quite good, with lots of thick hot sauce still sticking to the meat.
Palsaik is a nice change if you want a porcine instead of a bovine Korean BBQ experience. We went to the outlet in SohoKL, Mont Kiara but they have another one in Scott Garden. It’s an authentic Korean BBQ chain that has taken Melbourne by storm too. Try the makgeolli when you’re there – it goes very well with the 8 flavored pork. They also serve Korean beer and soju. The bill came up to RM 153.90 for the both of us, inclusive of drinks. Needless to say, this outlet is not halal.
Solaris Mont Kiara
No. 2 Jalan Solaris
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
I wasn’t very hungry at that time since I had a very late lunch but the plate of beautiful pork belly slices and pork tongue was staring back at me, begging me to *ravage* it. It would be like saying No to the Borg, resistance is futile and all that. I packed a man tou (fluffy Chinese steamed buns) full of the fatty pieces of meat and tongue and dug in.
Stewed Pork Belly + Pig Tongue
This is a combination of fatty pork belly and the leaner tongue served with a side of raw onions, cucumbers and other vegetables which you can eat with rice, or with a Chinese bread called man tou. I opted for the latter and speared two huge pieces of the pork belly, added a generous slice of pig tongue and slapped on a few onion rings before topping it with gravy. Divine!
Stir Fried Cuttle Fish
I had eaten a similar dish by Jona during Chinese New Year – it was grilled on skewers then and it was the most amazing execution of cuttle fish I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. It was mind-blowing, how tasty that dish was. I think the recipe for that was scrapped due to the huge amount of food and thus this version was stir fried. It’s still awesome but the CNY one was epically delicious, like a culinary version of Homer’s Iliad.
Peas in a Pod with Garlic Sauce
This is the plate of greens with lots of vitamins and fibre to complement the meat-based dishes. I quite liked it and was munching on these even after I’ve finished my dinner. It’s perfect with rice – the beans are tender, juicy and sweet – it’s like kissing the sweet lips of your lover when you’re both relaxed and lounging in bed just before you turn in for the night. :)
Baked Chicken Thigh
I’m calling it this but I don’t actually know what it was since I didn’t ask about this one. The marinade was fantastic though and it gives the entire chicken thigh a saffron like undertone. There were a lot of aromatic herbs thrown in too, and although I was quite full from the large pork belly and pig tongue burger I helped myself too, I managed to take apart one all by myself, picking at the flesh with my fork with nary a care for the faux pas I was committing with the tines of the fork coming into contact with the glass plates with a loud CLINK.
This huge grouper is a 10 kg beast that was done really well. It’s quite hard to fry fresh and good quality fish well since it’s very easy to overcook it. I’ve eaten a great piece of breaded and fried cod in Sheraton which changed my mind about fried fish and this gives equal lip smacking satisfaction. This fish was freshly caught and bought from the source, and it’s treated with respect, just a short time on the grill caramelizing the sides and producing a white, flaky and moist interior.
There was also a very flavorful soup which I forgot to take a photo of and we had a bottle of wine which someone brought and single malt Scotch from Eddy’s bar to go with the long dinner. I was craving for a cigarette before I had taken my last bite, that was how much I stuffed myself.
I had this wonderful dinner last night at my bro Eddy’s house. He’s a really solid guy, always there for his friends. He picked me up at the airport when I came back for Ching Ming and I saw the huge 10 kg grouper he bought for this meal. I was one of 8 invited over for a feast cooked by his wife Jona and it was one of the best home-cooked meals I’ve ever had, on par with the delicious lamb he came up with during Chinese New Year.
1. Food! I went to just a few open houses this year – close friends and relatives. The good thing is that more people are serving hot food, which makes for a more substantial meal than snacks and cakes and such – it’s a nice savoury change.
2. This is a thin fried yellow noodle with hints of Thai chilli sauce and prawns. It’s very good, so much so that I went back for second (and third) helpings.
3. There’s also beef in satay sauce…
4. …with the accompanying ketupat.
5. Arthur also broke out the kacangma chicken. I was reminded of a joke another friend told about cannabis, he said he accidentally pulled out a packet of the good stuff to pay for a meal and only later realized it wasn’t a wad of cash. Luckily the auntie who was the (unintended) recipient said “What’s this? Kacangma herbs?” You just had to be there.
6. This is some great baked chicken wings to complete the feast. I had an awesome lunch here on the first day.
7. Here’s a photo of me with Arthur!
8. One of the more unusual cakes I had – the lowest right is a honeydew cake! It’s not sweet at all and just had a hint of the melon. Delicious! I had this at Alex’s house and was happily munching on some macadamia nuts he had on hand too (love them, they’re my favorite type of nuts).
9. Huge pot of nasi briyani at another friend’s house.
10. An unusual Chinese snow beer that weighs in at 4.7% alcohol. Very refreshing stuff, you can’t get it outside. Funny story, as we were visiting this house, there was another guy which I didn’t know there. The host suddenly brought up the topic of weed and how it relates to sleep. Thus, I joined in and said “Yeah, ganja is a lot better than alcohol, at least you won’t have to wake up at 3 am to pee” and saw my friend laughing. He later asked me “Do you know who the other guy is? He’s with the police and he’s in Narcotics.” -_-
11. With my bro Eddy and his wife. I hung out here most of the time, it’s nice to feel truly welcome instead of having someone be snarky and calculative behind your back. Eddy has always been solid, he’s always got my back regardless of what I did and I’ve learned a lot from him. You can tell the ultimate measure of a man by the friends he has in real life and this person probably has more than anyone can count.
12. Drinking The Macallan Whisky Maker’s Edition.
13. Pork belly cooked with a spice mix found in the Philippines that’s the most awesome thing I had – ate here three meals in a row.
14. It went very well with the daging masak hitam (beef cooked in black sauce) too. Tons of flavor!
15. Me with my niece, who’s getting bigger now! :)
I was pleased to find pork blood during lunch and I went back again yesterday to get some more of it. There’s good pig blood curd and bad ones and it’s all in the making of this delicacy. There’s a lot of criteria which we go through to pronounce a piece of pig blood curd “good” – texture, taste and mouth-feel.
This one has a firm texture with a hint of iron that tells your brain it’s eating blood and it doesn’t completely dissolve once you chomp down on it. I don’t like excessively mushy pork blood and this one is soft and smooth yet retains a certain firmness – perfect!
I found out that pig blood curd originates from blood rice pudding (a similar preparation to blood pudding/black pudding in the UK) and was initially made with duck! There’s an article in Wikipedia that states that early Chinese villagers turned to chicken as a source of blood due to the high price of duck but it was unable to coagulate so they used pigs instead.
That’s not true as we’ve had awesome chicken blood curd in Thailand – which reminds me, I haven’t blogged about the meal, I was just talking to my better half about the street food stall the other day.
I was getting a loaf of bread from my usual bakery when I overheard a couple of students whispering and gesturing excitedly beside me. The bakery is open 24 hours and thus attracts a huge clientèle of mostly college kids who hang out there to “study”. It was about 2 am in the morning and I was just about to go to the cashier when one of the students leaned in consiprationally and murmured:
“The butter milk buns are “half price” today, if you want to get them.”
Puzzled, I looked up and saw it was RM 5.20 for a small bundle of five buns – there was no mention of there being a 50% discount. This bakery doesn’t do discounts since it’s open 24 hours and they just cycle out their products instead.
“What do you mean?”, I enquired, slightly baffled.
“There’s a new guy behind the counter and he’s ringing up the buns as RM 2.50 for a pack”, the student breathlessly told me.
I’m not as excited as the college kids about potential savings by shafting it to a faceless corporate entity, but it did seem funny to me. I know that there’s a single bun version for RM 2.50 – the lowest price point of anything in the bakery. I’ve also had the 5-pack bundle before and thought they were quite good – especially if they’re just 50 cents per small bun instead of the RM 1+ it usually costs.
I grabbed the pack and went to the cashier, and sure enough, the new guy rang it up as RM 2.50 when it came to the students turn. He also rang it up as RM 2.50 for me. I saw the supervisor beside him and was about to tell him about the mistake when I thought, why ruin the students fun?
Let’s see how long they can keep this up.
I went there again the next night, and lo and behold, there was only a single pack left! There’s usually about 6 packs stocked on the shelves, it’s not a very popular item, but word seems to have gotten around and it’s *open season* on the “half price” butter milk buns.
I glanced outside and saw that the new guy was still on duty, and added it to my purchases to see if he’ll still do the same. Surely, he must have learnt of his mistake! How can a bag of 5 buns be as cheap as RM 2.50? Doesn’t he know better? Has he never looked at the bakery’s offerings? Most items are around the RM 6-10 price point!
Nope, it turns out that he was totally unaware of his mistake, and rang it up as RM 2.50 again.
I went again earlier today and saw that the new guy has left. I had a bag of the butter milk buns with me and it was finally tabulated at the correct RM 5.20 price. It was the supervisor behind the counter and I finally got the chance to ask him – “Did you know the new guy was scanning the bag of 5 buttermilk buns as RM 2.50 for a couple of days?”.
He replied in the affirmative and said he’s been let go as a result of that. It turns out that they were selling out of the bags every single day, so they made more as a result but the books at the end of the day didn’t add up. They just realized what he had done after 4 days!
Oh well, I was sick of eating buttermilk buns every day anyway. :)
We have increasingly become a nation of foodies. Just look at the TV shows on offer – MasterChef, The Taste, My Kitchen Rules, Top Chef, The Great British Bake Off are all cooking shows that are extremely popular now. There are also food related programs like the now defunct No Reservations, Parts Unknown, Kitchen Nightmares, Man vs Food (Nation) and even odes to excess like Epic Meal Empire.
That’s not even counting the craft beer movement which has spawned shows like Dark Horse Nation and Brew Dogs. All this has made Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdain (he was a chef at Les Halles before he became a host), Graham Elliot, Heston Blumenthal and other Michelin Star chefs becoming household names. Hollywood has also increasingly come up with movies featuring food as the primary theme – starting from Chocolat (which was the first movie that caught my attention) to documentaries like Jiro Dreams of Sushi (about the 3 Michelin Star Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo).
I admit that most of the programming I watch nowadays are food-related shows. I’ve also eaten at Michelin-starred establishments from Hong Kong to France and I pre-order The Red Guide from Amazon every year.
I went to Paris with my better half earlier this year and the primary reason for our trip was to eat at Michelin-starred (and Bib Gourmand) restaurants. We’re both very interested in food, I even do a little cooking myself. I was amazed at the variety and freshness of produce in France – a lot of which we can’t get here.
We also cooked during our trip and one of the interesting things we saw in Paris was a line of ready-to-eat meals by the 28 Michelin Star chef Joel Robuchon. This isn’t your average TV dinner but gourmet meals that you can just heat up and eat. There’s even one called Les St Jacques au Noilly & Riz Basmati cuisine. It’s a fusion of Indian and French food and that’s what a really intriguing upcoming film is all about.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is a film produced by Stephen Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey with Lasse Hallström as the director. It’s based on a novel about the Kadam family, who came from India to settle in a picturesque quaint village in France to open an Indian restaurant called Maison Mumbai.
They run into the chilly chef owner of Le Saule Pleureur (The Weeping Willow), a Michelin-starred classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Academy Award winning actress Helen Mirren) just a hundred feet away and the her protests against the new Indian restaurant threatens to escalate until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine (and also the beautiful sous chef, Marguerite – played by Charlotte Le Bon) combines to weave magic between their two cultures and imbue the small town with flavors of life that even Madame Mallory can’t ignore.
At first Madame Mallory’s culinary rival, she eventually recognizes Hassan’s gift as a chef and takes him under her wing.
The Hundred-Foot Journey abounds with flavors that burst across the tongue. A stimulating triumph over exile, blossoming with passion and heart, it is a portrayal of two worlds colliding and one young man’s drive to find the comfort of home, in every pot, wherever he may be.
It sounds like a wonderful movie, and it’s from the award-winning director of Chocolat! I’ve read stories about the “back of the house” like Kitchen Confidential and this production is something I’m really looking forward to! It has all the elements that makes for a great food related movie, and if you’re interested in cuisine, eating, and theater, you’ll love this production.
Watch the trailer here! Life’s greatest journey begins with the first step. #The100FootJourneyMY
The Hundred-Foot Journey will be released in theaters on August 28, 2014. For more information, visit http://100footjourneymovie.com. Like the official Facebook page and follow their official Twitter account to interact!
Why do you want to watch The Hundred-Foot Journey? Comment on the blog post below and the best answer will win a pair of tickets in season pass to the movie! Please include your email address in your comment (make sure you fill in the Email bit) so I can get in touch with you! :)
The Borneo Cultural Festival is back! BCF 2014 is the latest iteration of this Sibu festival celebrating local Dayak/Iban and other native cultures. It’s our version of Kuching Festival and there’s a similar emphasis on food! The last time I went was when I was working here, during Borneo Cultural Festival 2008.
I went with my dad for the last two days and the layout is similar, with sections for Dayak cuisine, Malay cooking and Chinese food. I first wrote about Borneo Cultural Festival in 2003 when my blog was just over a year old (they had a beauty pageant for Miss Malaysian Chinese that year) and went again for BCF 2006 – check out the Borneo Cultural Festival category for full coverage!
Here is my photoblog for BCF 2014:
Ayam Pansuh is a Sarawakian dish that uses bamboo to cook chicken. The meat is stuffed into the tube with tapioca leaves and some water before being cooked over a charcoal fire. The bamboo is then cracked open and the water becomes the stock of this chicken dish. You can eat the tapioca leaves too!
This is a piece of tofu skin that’s been dipped in *real fish batter* before being deep fried. I’ve never quite had something like this before. It’s made of soybeans – basically a bean curd sheet that’s rehydrated and coated with fish. My dad loved it.
12 different types of satay! There’s chicken skin, chicken heart, chicken liver, rabbit, beef, lamb, cockles, ostrich, and many other unusual proteins on skewers. No pork satay here though coz this is a halal stall. However, my favorite guilty pleasure is here in abundance – grilled chicken skin actually tastes wonderful, but you can’t eat too much of it or you’ll get sick of the ultra rich fat.
Wife Cake comes in many different variants here. Besides the traditional lao por peng, there’s also “Husband Biscuits” (Biskut Suami) which uses star anise as a filling.
Pulut Panggang makes an authentic appearance too! It’s glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves that’s been grilled over a charcoal BBQ, giving it the distinctive smoked flavor. I bought several of the beef and chicken filled ones and it was good.
I got potato twisters as well – a staple fair food. It’s a whole potato that’s been cut into spirals and this version uses a sweet batter to coat it before it’s deep fried and slathered with mayo and chilli sauce.
This is a very diluted soft serve ice cream cone. It’s a mix of chocolate and vanilla but it tastes horrible – akin to a penny pinching coffee shop being miserly with the cocoa powder.
Chinese chess competition that’s open to the public. It was played on one of the smaller stages in a tournament format.
This particular booth got Best of Show. The Chinese pavilions are usually very well decorated compared to the sparse Malay booths.
Here’s another example.
These pavilions are usually made by clan associations e.g. Heng Hua, Foochow etc but some of them are owned by more general groups like the Chinese Culture & Art Appreciation societies…
…and they have the manpower from clan membership working inside too!
The Chinese pavilions line the side facing the main road so it’s beautiful when you look in that way – the lights, the glitter, the jazz! (or rather, er-hu ;))
There’s also a huge Taiwanese food trend in the stalls this year.
Music, dance and cultural performances are constantly done on the main stage – it’s also a major attraction besides the food.
Sugar twill machine that makes candy on a stick with CAD printing that you can choose – anything from your Chinese Zodiac (Rooster, Dragon, Snake etc) to intellectual property (Doraemon, Hello Kitty and the Disney character lineup). It’s very popular with kids.
(and the young-at-heart)
The Sibu Pasar Malam Association also has a booth selling traditional night market fare.
Gardenia, Massimo and other commercial large-scale baking and distribution operations in KL don’t sell their RM 0.80 ready-to-eat cream filled buns here, so people often buy them in bulk at LCCT/KLIA2 before flying back. There’s now a Sibu company doing it – UniqBun.
This is my favorite food of the Borneo Cultural Festival 2014. I award it my personal blue ribbon. ;) I even went back the next day with my dad to get some more. It’s cooked-to-order palm sugar balls filled with glutinous rice (pulut). It puffs into a ball when it’s deep fried and it’s a sweet treat at RM 1 each.
You just can’t argue with piping hot, deep-fried sweet balls of caramelized airy dough.
Oh, and it’s dabai season again! I like how this stall had samplers that has been blanched and marinated in soy sauce and sugar (the traditional way of preparing it). You can only get these in Sarawak. It’s called okana (black olives) but it’s not technically in the olive family. A delicious, seasonal local delicacy.
I quite enjoyed going to this year’s Borneo Cultural Festival with my dad. It didn’t run for a while due to politics but now that it’s back, I hope it’ll be an annual event. It wasn’t very packed on the last day due to the rain and some of the food items sells out fast since it starts at 5 pm but it’s a lot of fun!
More importantly, BCF 2014 is a festival we can call our own! :)