Chinese New Year 2013 yee sang dinner @ Tai Zi Heen

yee sang

I was invited by Suanie to come along for my first yee sang dinner at Tai Zi Heen. It’s the resident Chinese restaurant of Prince Hotel & Residence and I was quite impressed by the view looking out of one of the private lounges:

It’s glass so you can see the entire lobby without the noise intruding. You also can’t jump out of it, so if you’re scared of heights, don’t worry, it’ll take quite a concerted effort to do so. Haha.

Vegetarian Snow Pear Yee Sang

yee sang dinner

This is the traditional first dish – yee sang (which actually means “raw fish”) is an imported tradition where you toss a salad (of sorts) while wishing for something. The very polished waitresses says a couplet of prosperity, health and general good wishes when she adds each ingredient – a rather nice touch!

You can see her doing just that. The video also shows the yee sang tossing session. If you strain your ears hard enough you can hear me say “Win 4D”. I’ve never won before and that very day (after an impromptu decision to get a couple of lottery numbers) I managed to win slightly less than RM 1,000 (about USD 300).

tossing yee sang

That’s some mighty wish fulfilling yee sang going on there. smirk

yee sang culture

I do like the addition of snow pear instead of salmon or jellyfish (which they both offer) – it makes the entire yee sang more crunchy and sweet.

Stewed Dried Oysters with Fatt Choy and Lettuce

I liked this dish as well although it’s not customary to serve it with lettuce (there’s more unique dishes coming up). Fatt choy is a type of bacteria that produces a very hearty and distinctive flavor – it basically absorbs whatever sauces are around.

dried oysters

Excellent stuff, and a Chinese New Year staple.

Braised Shark’s Fin Soup with Diced Prawns, Scallops and Grouper

sharks fin soup

Oops! Did I use the S-word? Well, you can ask for it without shark’s fin as well. It tastes just as good – the combination of prawns, scallops and grouper makes it a very sweet broth.

sharks fin

I really liked this one as well.

Roasted Chicken dusted with Crispy Garlic and Five Spice Salt

I was expecting regular sea salt but they used five spice salt, which vastly improves the taste of the roasted chicken. There’s plum sauce on offer too, but I’m probably not the best person to ask about roasted chicken. I didn’t like it, but all the other diners were in agreement that it’s delicious.

roasted chicken

There’s nothing wrong with it, I just don’t like roasted chicken.

Chef’s Special Baked Cod Fish

This is the flagship of the Chinese New Year banquet. Well, to me anyway. It’s a fusion dish made with mushroom, onions, cheese and turkey bacon. Yup, this is a halal outlet.

baked cod fish

Check out the plating – there’s a Chinese character written on it with sauce.

cheese baked cod

The ingredients goes really well together and the result is this magnificent piece of cod that’s baked and dripping with cheese and bursting with flavor. I highly recommend this one, it’s not in the regular Chinese New Year menu but you can ask for it – it’s the Chef’s Specialty.

Stir-Fried Glutinous Rice with Chinese-style Preserved Duck

preserved duck

Waxed meat is another traditional Chinese New Year meal. This one is done Hong Kong style and I have to say, it’s one delectable dish. The saltiness of the duck is offset by the rice and the best thing about the dish is that there’s some stir-frying action going on.

Warm Almond Purée with Glutinous Rice Dumplings

This is basically tong yuen swimming in a concoction of milky almond. It sounds simple but it’s heart-warming food. The glutinous rice balls are filled with black sesame too.

rice dumplings almond puree

It’s a righteously hot dessert that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Deep-Fried Chinese New Year Cake with Thousand Layer Puff Pastry

chinese new year cake

This is actually two desserts.

deep fried nian gao

The first is nian gao (the above-mentioned Chinese New Year cake) dipped in batter before being deep fried. It’s a wonderful execution – much better than what I’m used to eating at home. The nian gao is made in-house and that makes all the difference – it’s not saccharine sweet and more suitable for adult palates.

thousand puff pastry

The second dessert is the Thousand Layer Puff Pastry – a silkworm like cocoon surrounding a sweet corn and salted egg based interior. The crumbly texture of the pastry gives way to the warm salted egg filling. It’s still sweet, but has that tang of saltiness from the salted egg. I loved this so much I ate 4-5 pieces!

hb eve

You’ve gotta eat it while it’s still hot though.

tai zi heen

Tai Zi Heen @ Prince Hotel has 3 different Chinese New Year menus, starting from RM 1,188 for a table of up to 10 people. It was a cozy dinner, with just the six of us sharing a banquet meant for 10. It’s also a halal outlet, which I was quite surprised to find out (asked about the usage of turkey bacon instead of real bacon).

yee sang cny

The restaurant does a great Chinese New Year banquet and the Chinese New Year menu is on offer from now till 24 January 2013 – Chap Goh Meh. I particularly liked the baked cod fish so ask for it if you’re there – it’s really something else. :)

tai zi heen group

Thanks for having us over Elisa! Happy CNY everyone! :D

The famous Rojak SS15 in Subang Jaya

rojak mamak ss15

I don’t usually like rojak, or pasembur as it’s referred to in the North. I don’t actively go seeking it but I’ll eat it if it’s good. This one is. It’s located at SS15 in Subang Jaya and it’s pretty well known. Heck, I’ve probably eaten it and forgotten. Heh.

ss15 rojak

Anyway, the queue for Rojak SS15 Subang Jaya is quite long. I was there in the afternoon and there were people queuing under the hot sun for a taste of this – it’s a perpetual line that never seems to end!

rojak ss15 subang jaya

It’s actually a roadside stall and you only have four (4) options according to the menu:

  • Kosong (Plain) – RM 3
  • Telur (with egg) – RM 4
  • Sotong (with squid) – RM 4
  • Sotong & Telur (with squid and egg) – RM 4.50

pasembur ss15

I went for the one with all the bells and whistles (or with all the trimmings in food parley) – I like egg and squid and I don’t relish the thought of eating it plain. Rojak can best be described as a type of salad, with a peanut based sauce for the “dressing”.

rojak ss15

This place is actually Fiona’s old stomping grounds – she was craving for the rojak and we headed there to eat this. She had the plain one and it actually tastes pretty good by itself.

hb fiona rojak

However, I preferred mine with the additional squid and egg – well worth the RM 1 extra if you consider you get an entire egg and generous amounts of squid. I can’t vouch for the freshness of the squid but it’s the entire package that makes it good.

ss15 rojak egg sotong

Rojak SS15 Subang Jaya has really good rojak sauce – it’s sweet and nutty. It’s also warm which adds to the overall appeal of this rojak. I liked it but I doubt I’ll be returning specifically to eat this. I’ll have it if I’m in the area though, it’s really good rojak and it’s served warm!

rojak ss15 queue

You can even eat it right beside the stall under the shade of the trees…and watch the never-ending queue in relative comfort. ;)

Mek T – Terengganu’s best delicacies

cindy

Mek T is a restaurant specializing in Terengganu cuisine opened by Cindy‘s parents. She was kind enough to invite me over for some food so I went with Lainey and Fresh. The place is located in Puchong and you can’t miss the signage.

mekt

I like how the colors in Mek T are bright and colorful. Did you know that Cindy came out with most of the copy for the menu descriptions on the walls too? ;)

mek t interior

Mek T is based on a quick service restaurant concept – you order reasonably priced a la carte or set dishes at the counter and you wait for the food to come.

mek t

This is Cindy’s mom, who kindly prepared the dishes for us that night. She’s from Terengganu so you can bet that all the dishes are authentic. :D

blue rice
Nasi Ulam Mek
This is an explosion of colors and flavors. It’s my favorite dish at Mek T, which is surprising when you find out what’s inside it. It’s a traditional rice dish that’s blue – the coloring comes from a flower called bunga telang. There’s a bunch of raw vegetables and a tiny mountain of brown shredded coconut that you’re supposed to mix into the rice.

nasi ulam

The explosive texture from the raw vegetables, followed by the spiciness of the sambal, with the coconut tickling your palate…it’s a veritable gastronomic orchestra! I like the fried chicken drumstick that goes with it too – gotta have some meat with such a vegetable heavy dish. I’m not a huge fan of veggies so this dish really surprised me – it was so good I finished it all! There’s a lot of raw bird eye chilli inside too. I love it!

keropok lekor
Keropok Lekor
Naturally, keropok lekor has to be in the menu for a proper Terengganu restaurant. In fact, keropok lekor is in most of the dishes – people in Terengganu eat it with everything, or so it seems. ;) It’s best described as soft fish sausages made from grounded fish paste and sago. I love Mek T’s version, it’s very fresh.

kar pek hu sah
Kar Pek Hu Sah
Now this is something you don’t see very often outside of Terengganu. Kar Pek Hu Sah is the cousin of keropok lekor. It’s made with 90% fresh fish! Amazing. I’ve never seen the likes of it before going to Mek T. They use the freshest cuts of ikan tengirri and parang and mold it into steamed fish sausages. It’s divine when eaten with the spicy chilli padi dip. It’s like eating steamed fish. :)

nasi dagang
Nasi Dagang Mek
This is described as the most popular meal in Terengganu. The rice is a mix of long grain and glutenous rice cooked in santan (coconut milk) and it’s served with gulai ikan aiya (curry tuna) and pickled vegetables (acar). It’s a simple but delicious meal.

sedap sokmo
Nasi Sedappp Sokmo
This is Mek T’s signature dish. It’s made with basmati rice and served with gulai ayam and an egg. I love the sweet notes in the gulai ayam, I ended up eating most of the drumstick and some of the gravy-infused egg too. There’s also a side of pineapple that goes very well with the basmati rice. It’s traditionally served during special occasions. Great stuff!

laksa
Laksa
Mek T also does a mean version of laksa too – it tastes really good, with thick noodles. What makes this laksa special is the ulam (raw vegetables) they put into it. It’s a healthy twist and the laksa tastes different from other variants of laksa too.

laksam
Laksam
However, my palate votes for the laksam. I’ve craved for laksam for a long time and I just can’t seem to find this elusive dish anywhere. The laksam in Mek T is handmade – rolls of tender wheat and rice flour cut into bite sized pieces and topped with a rich gravy of pureed fish meat. I wouldn’t call it gravy actually, it’s more like fish pieces on top of the laksam. Perfect.

lompat tikam
Lompat Tikam
This is a traditional Terengganu kueh served with pure gula melaka syrup. The kueh itself is not sweetened – you get to adjust the level of sugar you want by pouring in the gula melaka. I like mine practically swimming it it. Heh. Cindy also gave us some of these to bring back and I wolfed it down right after that heavy dinner – it was that good.

binka ubi
Binka Ubi
This kueh is made of grated tapioca cooked in gula melaka and topped with coconut cream. You have to eat them together. The tapioca with palm sugar is saccharine sweet, with the coconut cream to balance the flavors. I also finished the ones I brought back home – it’s just so soft and easy to eat!

fried pau
Mek Pau Goreng
This is one of the undiscovered culinary delights in Mek T. The premise sounds simple – it’s just a fried pau, but the execution is done so well that it has reportedly left people in tears. I wouldn’t be surprised, it’s crispy on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside – a hot bun that comes in coconut or red bean filling. I personally prefer the red bean but either way, you’ve got to try this when you’re in Mek T. It’s amazing how such a simple dish can taste so good. Think of the best fried bread you’ve ever had…except better!

foursquare

Mek T also has WiFi and you can checkin to their official Foursquare entry to get specials!

us

Surf over to Mek T’s website for the address, GPS coordinates and Google Maps directions. Thanks for all the food Cindy! We spent several hours there just eating and talking until the place was about to close. Good food, great company. :)

Kepala Ikan Asam Pedas Botak

botak asam fish head

Botak assam fish head is one of the more popular fish head places in JB. It’s different from the famous Kam Leong fish head at Jalan Wong Ah Fook – Botak asam fish head is spicy and sour, while Kam Leong’s is cooked in a more traditional Chinese style curry.

Botak asam fish head is their signature dish, but a lot of people order the deep fried fish head too.

botak johor

The proper name for the place is actually Kedai Makanan Jadi Baru (Botak). I heard that the name originates from the proprietor’s hairstyle – he’s bald. Thus, people started calling the place Botak (bald) asam fish head. It occupies two shop lots side by side and prior to their expansion, the queue for it is legendary too. In fact, it’s still very full when we went – almost all the tables are occupied!

botak restaurant

Behold! This is the huge claypot of asam fish head that we had for lunch. This portion is for five (5) people and it has okra, tofu and other miscellaneous vegetables. We opted for the fish slices instead of the fish head – I reckon the fish head will taste even better.

botak lunch

I noticed that they make a pretty good omelet too and one of the things that you must not miss is their otak-otak.

botak otak otak

The otak-otak from Botak (rhymes, doesn’t it) is simply delicious! It comes wrapped in banana leaves and when you open it up, a waft of steam rises, accompanied by the aroma of fresh fish and spices. This chunk of otak-otak is STUFFED with fresh fish flakes. It’s one of the most amazing otak-otak I’ve ever had – it’s spiced just right and 80% of the jellied contents is made of fish! Delectable.

botak asam fish

I wouldn’t compare Botak asam fish head and Kam Leong fish head side by side – it’s two different dishes. I like the spiciness of the asam fish in Botak – it leaves a nice sour aftertaste, and you can practically see the chili flakes on the fish. It’s amazing. I love asam and I can see why the perfect combination of spiciness and sour notes has people flocking in droves to Botak asam fish head.

Rice Bowls Restaurant, Pusat Bandar Damansara

rice bowls chicken rice

Rice Bowls Restaurant is hands down the best halal chicken rice in the world. I happen to hold the Mayorship on foursquare for this place for one simple reason – I eat here almost every day. However, a couple of weeks ago, I got a piece of shocking news – they’re closing down coz the proprietor is moving to Australia.

rice bowls restaurant

I was horrified. It took a couple of hours for the realization to sink in. Where am I going to eat lunch now? There’s nothing remotely as good as this chicken rice place in Pusat Bandar Damansara. It was a shining beacon in the rat race – a sanctuary I look forward to every single day. I’ll have to go hungry and die of starvation. :(

rice bowls chicken rice meal

Dejected, I started eating at other places again until someone told me the good news. Rice Bowls is open! It lives again! It’s the modern resurrection! I could scarcely believe my ears. I had to see it with my own eyes, being the Doubting Thomas that I am.

Behold! It’s true! Rice Bowls is open under new management. Shout it from the hills! It’s back, and so is the chef and the people working there.

rice bowls staff

I always eat the same thing over here so when I walk in the staff will just smile at their regular and go “Biasa?” and prepare my order. It’s apparently more renowned for the roasted chicken but I prefer their steamed chicken. My usual is the drumstick chicken rice with an extra bowl of rice and iced tea. I love the oil and sauce that goes into the steamed chicken and the chilli sauce is fucking awesome as well.

rice bowls chicken rice mine

My routine for eating it is to dump the extra bowl of rice in the plate and pour the chicken + oil + sauce on top. It’s almost like a ritual. I’ll eat 3/4 of the rice + sauce and save the 1/4 virgin chicken rice for eating with chilli sauce. I’ll down the hot soup after that and finish the meal with the iced tea.

rice bowls chicken

It used to cost RM 8.10 for a drumstick with chicken rice and an extra bowl of rice (free) plus iced tea, but under the new management, there is no more free extra rice. It costs RM 9.60 for my regular meal now so that makes an extra bowl of chicken rice RM 1.50.

rice bowls lunch

I don’t mind though. It is indeed the best halal chicken rice in the world and I’m glad to see that it’s back!

Sup Kaww!

sup kaww

Sup Kaww! (with an exclamation mark to prove the point) is a Malay soup establishment in SS 6 that boasts a menu filled with all things soup. This eatery is one of those hit-and-miss places. They’ll have really great soup one night and really crappy one the next. You never know what you’re going to get over here. It’s puzzling since I would have thought some measure of quality control would go into the process, but apparently not.

sup kaw special

On the good days, Sup Kaww serves a mean bowl of rich broth. It’s so thick (hence the name) that drinking the soup alone would fill most people up. Sup Kaww literally means “hearty soup” but due to the inconsistencies mentioned, it can range from a really sad broth to its namesake – hearty soup.

sup kaww special tongkat ali

I usually order Sup Kaw Special + Tongkat Ali (RM 12) which comes with the meat, bones, stomach, lungs and tail of a cow, infused with our local herbal Viagra substitute.

sup kaww special

Sup Kaww is not stingy with their ingredients…on any day (good and bad) you’ll find large chunks of meat inside your bowl. It goes really well with steamed rice. I went again with a couple of coworkers just now and although they’re having a Bad Soup Day (TM) it’s still a good place to sit down to a hot, steaming bowl of potage for two reasons:

sup kaww movie

The establishment is fond of showing DVDs of dubious copyright. You can catch the latest Hollywood flicks while having your dinner.

sup kaww carwash

There’s a car wash service right on the doorstep. Give your car a proper cleaning (interior and exterior) for just RM 10!

sup kaww me

I also like their RM 5 large fruit juices. Washing down a hot bowl of soup with an icy cold drink is heavenly!

I’m SUPer! Thanks for asking! ;)

Aho Mee Sapi Nasi Ayam Restauran

aho restaurant

Aho Mee Sapi Nasi Ayam Restauran (Literally: Aho Beef Noodles Chicken Rice Restaurant) is one of the best places in town to have beef noodles. It’s a halal establishment operated by Malays and as the signboard suggests the two flagship dishes are the beef noodles and the chicken rice.

aho interior

The place tends to be a bit packed during lunchtime and parking can be a bit of a problem. I went with Autumn, who doesn’t eat beef (or pork for that matter). I’m not a big fan of chicken rice but I love beef noodles. Aho does a very good version of beef noodles, Malay style. I just love the chicken shaped menu for chicken rice and the cow shaped version for beef noodles. Heh!

aho beef noodles

I had the mixed beef noodles (RM 4) which can be ordered with the noodles in a separate bowl (dry) or mixed into the soup (wet). Soupy dishes during lunch isn’t really my thing, not just coz of potential Splash Damage (TM), but coz it increases the body temperature at the warmest time of the day.

aho noodles

Thus, I ordered the dry version with the noodles on the side. The noodles are mixed with Essence of Cow (TM) – it’s so full of mooing goodness, you can taste the beef in the noodles. It’s delicious!

aho beef soup

The soup is even better – you can opt to have certain parts of the cattle or a mixed bowl, which has everything except the genitalia (that part is reserved to make Sup Power). Aho does a very good beef noodle soup. It’s hearty and has that elusive umami taste to it.

aho chicken rice

Autumn had the other specialty of the house – fried chicken rice (RM 4). Aho serves fried chicken instead of the usual steamed or roasted chicken.

aho chicken

However, they do a very good version of fried chicken – it’s not over fried, so the skin comes out crispy but the inner parts are still tender and juicy.

aho us

Aho Mee Sapi Nasi Ayam Restauran is a great place for beef noodles and chicken rice. The restaurant name can a bit of a mouthful though (pun intended) so we just call it Aho. ;)

Moo…

Kafe Pelangi

kafe pelangi

Kafe Pelangi is located at Choice Super Mall in Kota Semariang. I’ve been having my lunch there for three days in a row.

Lunch – Day #1

pelangi day 1

This is what I had for the first day – nasi campur, tapai and kopi peng.

pelangi tapai

Here’s a closer look at the tapai. It tasted sour…a bit too sour. I assume it’s been left out there for a bit too long…

pelangi nasi campur

This is what I had for nasi campur (mixed rice) – curry chicken, brinjals cooked with chilli and a pumpkin/vegetable mix.

Lunch – Day #2

pelangi day 2

This is lunch on the second day. I just went for Malay style chicken
rice coz we were in a hurry. I also had two pieces of fried mini spring
rolls and a coke.

pelangi spring roll

The mini spring rolls were vegetarian and costs RM 0.30 each. It’s alright I guess…at least it’s not sour. ;)

pelangi chicken rice

Here’s a close up of the chicken rice. Nothing to write home about. It’s chicken. It’s rice.

Lunch – Day #3

pelangi day 3

This is the third and last day we ate at Kafe Pelangi. I had Mee Jawa, a sandwich, a piece of kueh and coke.

pelangi sandwich

Here’s a closer look at the sandwich. We see that it’s a sardine, cucumber and egg sandwich.

pelangi kueh

This is the kueh – it tasted sweet, with a dusting of something salty at the end.

pelangi mee jawa

This is the Mee Jawa. It tasted good, spicy and nice.

I think this is probably one of the more thorough reviews I’ve done
on an eating establishment that is, to call a spade a spade,
substandard. ;)

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