Thai Boat Noodle Soup in Hat Yai

boat noodle soup

Boat noodle soup is known as guai dtiaw rua (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ) in Thailand. We happened to chance upon this popular stall during our last day in Hat Yai. This place seems to serve both pork and beef noodles according to the signboard but the cook told us it’s pork noodles.

boat noodle soup hatyai

Better still, the stall makes their own pork rinds! It’s hanging above the stall and these beautiful pork crackling is the product of the deep fried skin of the pork and is meant to be eaten with the noodles. They carry other brands on the table too but their own is the one with the red pig.

Just listen to the pork rind crackling in the boat noodle soup!

boat noodle soup thailand

The name boat noodle soup came from the early days when boats will pull up to the pier and tie off before serving soup to people who would come and eat at the banks. There are still markets like these in Hat Yai e.g. Hat Yai Floating Market but mostly boat noodle soup has become a land based operation.

boat noodle soup locals

You can choose from several kinds of noodles from rice vermicelli to kueh tiaw and we tried two different ones. The serving is really small – probably 2-3 heaped spoonfuls of noodles in total. However, it’s loaded with pieces of pork, meatballs, and pork liver as well as a smattering of vegetables.

thai boat noodle soup

There’s also a side of raw vegetables and bean sprouts as per Thai custom. I’m not sure if it’s THB 35 or THB 40 per bowl coz we didn’t ask but I know the pack of pork crackling is THB 15.

boat noodle soup pork rinds

You’re supposed to add the pork rind into the boat noodle soup before you eat it. The soup base is delicious – they actually put blood into the broth and season it with various herbs and it tastes fabulous. The soup base really has all the five tastes inside – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami! I was very impressed.

boat noodle soup pork crackling

This is indeed a good find as we saw that the patrons of the stall were almost all locals. They did not seem to charge us a “tourist price” either. The total came up to 110 baht for two bowls of boat noodle soup, a pack of pork rinds and drinks.

RM 16 bowl of Heng Hua Spicy Assam Tom Yam Fish Noodles

henghua assam tom yam noodles

There are a lot of fish and prawn noodles in town but none quite like this. The most (in)famous one would be the RM 35 bowl of fish noodles from Min Kwong. There’s also a RM 15 bowl of prawn noodles in the small and hilariously named town of Jakar. However, the closest tasting one would be the justifiably popular RM 14 bowl of Asam Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodles in Glory Cafe, Sarikei.

It was my dad who suggested this place for dinner. He’s a Heng Hua and this is a Heng Hua owned coffee shop, and since it’s a small community, we might be somewhat related. smirk

sieng hing cafe

The first question the lady asked me when I ordered this RM 16 bowl of goodness is whether I can eat spicy food. I replied in the affirmative, taking pride in my cast iron stomach (and tongue) and the chilli flakes in the broth gave me the sniffles and nearly drove me to tears…in a good way.

I asked why they use a thick kind of rice vermicelli noodles called hung ang in the local dialect and it’s coz that’s the best pairing for the dish. The thick but short noodles doesn’t clump together and unlike wheat based noodles, the rice vermicelli noodles is the perfect vehicle for *transporting the broth* to your palate.

henghua assam rice vermicelli

There’s a lot of space between the rice vermicelli – you can’t really pick them up with chopsticks without large gaps – so the spicy asam tom yam broth gets into the crevices and it allows the full flavor impact to hit you.

cat
Resident cat approves of this nomz!

The fish is a mixture of tapah and patin and there’s easily 3-4 times the amount in the regular Foochow twice cooked noodles I had for RM 14 at Y2K Cafe. There’s also generous amounts of lemongrass, egg, tomatoes, chilli flakes, baby corn, fungus and a special type of pickled salted vegetable in the asam tom yam soup.

assam tom yam noodles

It left me sweating but very satisfied when I finished the dish. They also sell a large prawn version for RM 26. The generous amounts of fish and the ultra spicy broth made the Sieng Hing Cafe fish noodles one of the best gastronomic finds in Sibu. It’s perfect if you have a blocked nose since the spice will clear up your sinuses in no time! :)

Pork skin noodles – making noodles out of pig skin

uncooked pig noodles

This is not your usual noodle dish. The noodles are made of pig skin. It’s not pork noodles – it’s pig skin noodles! The noodle is not the carbohydrate in this dish – it’s the protein! I first came across this in an episode of Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods America. I did a quick search for the restaurant that serves this and came across a blog post that describes exactly how to make pig noodles out of pig skin.

making pig noodles

I had to source for the pig skin – most butchers don’t sell pig skin. It’s either discarded or meant to be sold with the cut of meat. However, I went to Sanbanto – an organic farm-to-table butcher cum restaurant and made my unusual request.

pig skin softening

The clerk was puzzled for a second while processing what I really wanted and took a bag from under the counter. She gave it to me free of charge. I wonder why it was bagged like that in the first place but it didn’t register right then coz I got into a conversation of what I wanted to do with the pig skin – to make noodles!

pork belly skin

The pig skin I got is from the belly (as can be seen from the teats) and I tried slicing it but the skin proved to be way too tough for any of my knives so I decided to wait until I’ve finished it. I wanted to make pig skin noodle ramen like the post I read in From Belly to Bacon – but with a different twist. I’ll do a two animal broth!

chicken carcass pork bone

You will need:

  • Pig skin (find sheets so it’s easier to cut strips of noodles)
  • Pork bone for soup
  • Chicken carcass
  • Edible flowers

chicken pork stock

I used a chicken carcass and a large pig bone for soups in my cooker. There are ramen places like Santouka Ramen that’s famous for their chicken broth and other Japanese ones who use the traditional pork broth. I wanted a combination of both.

pig skin sheets

The rice cooker was filled up to 1.8 litres of water, after the displacement made by the chicken carcass and pig bone. I also threw in the pig skin so it’ll be easier to cut once it’s tender and cooked.

making pig skin noodles

I took:

  • 14 hours
  • 4 litres of water
  • 4 refills

stirring stock

to boil the ramen stock. It was an overnight event with alarms set to refill the cooker.

boiling stock

However, I made a *very big mistake* – I left the pig skin in too long. I should have taken it out at the 2 hour point and cut strips out of it. I left it in for the entire 14 hour duration and it was a soggy mess when I attempted to slice it into strips of noodles.

pig-skin

It was quite a feat since everything in the cooker was pulverized and reduced into a very yummy and gelatinous goo. I did manage to slice it and poured the broth (it’s way thicker than what you’ll associate with this word) over it for a bowl of ramen.

refill broth

This is my first attempt. I would like to do two things differently next time:

  1. Take the pig skin out after 3 minutes of boiling to cut into strips of pig noodles
  2. Freeze and strain the gelatinous broth through muslin cloth to create consomme – a very clear broth – to highlight the pig noodles better

reduced broth

The end result after 14 hours of boiling – very hearty and thick semi-liquid with a consistency more like lard than water. We both liked a small bowl but eating more than that would be quite a challenge due to the heavy stock.

slicing pig skin

This is quite soggy but ideally the pig skin should just be soft enough to slice though…

sliced pig noodles

…and retain a very al dente texture!

pig noodles carb

My better half managed to eat her bowl though. I did hers with some rice vermicelli to provide some carbohydrates – the pig skin noodle is the protein in this dish!

pig skin noodle ramen

The stock is simply poured out after layering the pig skin noodles in a bowl. I also did some decorating with edible flowers – not just for aesthetics but to provide a refreshing crunch and a (semi) balanced meal. smirk

pig skin noodles

Mine was a pure pork skin noodle made out of pig skin ramen with broth from the chicken and swine stock. It was a fun and interesting cooking experiment that I’ll like to try again with consomme and a quail egg! :)

Great lou shu fun @ Restaurant Yi Poh, Seremban

seremban

I’m typing in the dark at Philea Resort & Spa in Melaka while my girlfriend is sleeping. We’re waiting for breakfast in bed at 10 am. I woke up early and decided to blog about this awesome lou shu fun that we had in Seremban.

yi poh noodles

I read about these wonderful lou shu fun from Melissa’s blog and told Ling about it. She likes lou shu fun and Seremban is on the way to Melaka so we decided to swing into the town to have this for lunch. It’s just a 10 minute detour from the PLUS highway and worth the side trip!

lou shi fun

Restaurant Yi Poh seems to be really famous for their lou shu fun – everyone we saw was eating this very dish! The menu is brevity distilled – there’s just a couple of noodle dishes with Yi Poh Noodles featuring as the flagship dish.

That’s the lou shu fun (literally translated as rat noodles).

Yi Poh Noodles (RM 3.80 / RM 4.50)

seremban lou shu fun

There are two sizes and the smaller one is the better sized portion. I had the large one and the lou shu fun comes with minced pork, char siew and a dark sauce that you mix into the noodles. It’s a dry dish with a side of soup.

Ling: This doesn’t look like lou shu fun.
(after eating it)
Ling: It tastes like lou shu fun though…
Me: Maybe it’s the Seremban version of lou shu fun?

The interesting thing about Yi Poh Noodles is that the lou shu fun is not the same as the ones you get in KL or Sarawak – it’s long noodles but with exactly the same taste and texture as regular lou shu fun.

special chilli sauce

One of the kind waitresses also presented me with a small saucer of chilli sauce, telling me it’s “special chilli sauce” (different from the ones on the table) and it’s very spicy.

Ling: How come she didn’t give it to me?
Me: I don’t know, maybe she likes me more. ;)

The chilli sauce is really spicy! I strongly approve! It improves the taste of the lou shu fun exponentially! It’s so spicy you want to put more than one exclamation mark! smirk

(seriously, it’s very good, ask for it if they don’t give it to you)

pork balls

We asked what else is good and the waitress recommended pork balls and pork tendons. It’s RM 1.20 for two and we ordered two of each – the pork tendon balls also comes in the shape of a cylinder. Not too bad, and made in-house

pork intestine soup

I also had a portion of mixed pork intestine soup (RM 5) which has “smelly vegetable” inside and makes for a good peppery soup. It was the main soup we drank from.

yi poh seremban

We both enjoyed the Yi Poh loh shu fun noodles. It’s really good, especially with the chilli sauce and worth a detour to Seremban if you’re heading down south. Restaurant Yi Poh is listed on Google Maps and GPS too so you won’t have a problem finding it – the huge store front sign helps too. ;)

Xingang Bak Kut Teh, Cheras

june tee

I headed down to Cheras over the weekend to check out June’s family’s bak kut teh place. It’s at Taman Segar, just a stone’s throw away from Cheras Leisure Mall (if you’re an Olympic grade shot-putter that is). I was particularly interested in the dry bak kut teh noodles – bit of a novelty there. :)

xingang cheras

Xingang serves bak kut teh as its main fare, but being a neighborhood shop, it also has chicken rice, fish and other miscellaneous dishes. What is interesting about the bak kut teh is that they don’t use a lot of herbs to cover up the lack of pork flavors – this BKT broth really has been boiling for a long time.

xingang

Go early if you want to have the bak kut teh noodles – it is one of the highlight of the lunch. Xingang is built so it feels like you’re seating al fresco but there’s air conditioning coming from the vents on top. I noticed this provides the best balance for eating BKT (not so cold as to make your dishes cool down the minute it gets set down and not so hot to leave you reaching for multiple glasses of iced water).

big bone bak kut teh

Big Bone Claypot Bak Kut Teh
This is a huge shank of pork. I love how the meat falls of the bones. The broth is really good – full of BKT flavors and garlicky to boot.

bkt big bone

The huge bone allows you to pick the meat choices that you like – lean, fatty and even tendons. Mmm…

bkt intestines

Bak Kut Teh Intestines & Stomach
Intestines. Notice anything different? The intestines are stuffed with intestines, like what I imagine a Matryoshka doll’s innards would look like. smirk You know, one of those Russian nesting dolls that goes into another bigger doll etc etc.

intestines

You can order a plethora of cuts from trotters (pig’s feet) to braised egg and it comes in a small side dish filled with the item and some BKT soup, KK style.

dried bak kut teh

Xingang Special Mix Bak Kut Teh
This is where you can choose three types of meat to go into your BKT. We opted for the dry version which is absolutely fabulous. It comes cooked in a spicy claypot with the dried chillis and okra.

okra bkt

I found the addition of okra to be particularly delicious. The okra starts out raw and gets cooked by the claypot heat. It goes very well with the dry salty BKT pork and the hint of spiciness in this dry BKT makes it one of the best I’ve ever had.

dried bkt noodles

Bak Kut Teh Noodles
This is what I came for! You can choose between the dry (RM 6) or wet (RM 5.50) version. I went with the former, which comes with a bowl of BKT soup so you won’t be left wanting. The noodles are hand tossed and served with dry BKT pieces and garnished with a healthy sprinkling of mouth watering scallions.

tong shui

I had this for my main dish (although I had rice as well, which comes sprinkled with deep fried onions) and liked it a lot. I also had a bowl of tong shui but it’s something one of June’s aunts made so don’t expect to see it on the menu. smirk

xingang bkt

Xingang is located at Jalan Manis 7 and has one of the best BKT outside of Klang. I really liked how hearty the soup is – it’s been boiled with a lot of pork and you can taste the care that went into it. The BKT noodles is awesome too – there’s a side of cabbage to offset the spiciness of the dried BKT pork slices.

Thanks for the lunch June! I will definitely be going again. I hear there are some other attractions in the Cheras area that I should be aware of. Heh.

Che Jai Meen in Hong Kong

che jai meen noodles

Che Jai Meen is one of the great hawker delights of Hong Kong. It’s literally translated as “small cart noodles” but commonly called peddler noodles.

small cart noodles

These wonderful push carts carries a mind boggling array everything from pork, eggs, veggies, beef, offal and of course, the all important fishball.

che jai meen

You choose the ingredients you want and it’s served up in a huge bowl with noodles and hearty beef-flavored broth.

che jai meen hong kong

This is one of the local delights that you just have to try out. I first saw it in a Stephen Chow movie. Heh. The shop that we went to has very limited seating but that’s part of the deal – it adds to the ambiance.

che jai meen hk

This is Jeanie’s bowl – it has a fish slices, meatballs, sausages, stomach and some vegetables. Each ingredient you choose adds to the total price of the dish.

che jai meen bowl

My very own che jai meen is much more opulent. I think I ticked half of the options that were available and would have gone for more if the cook had not stopped me and said it won’t fit into the bowl. You can barely see the noodles as it is. smirk

peddler noodles

It makes for a very hearty breakfast – the piping hot broth is flavored with a stock that tastes as if it’s been boiling for a long time. However, the beef balls is hands down the highlight of the che jai meen. The huge beef balls practically squirts its juices when you bite into it and it’s springy and chewy. Superb!

meen

Hong Kong does beef balls really well – it seems to be a cultural thing and a pride of the nation…but don’t quote me on that as I gleaned the information from Stephen Chow’s God of Cookery film. ;) However, it is one of the most delicious bowls of noodles I’ve ever tasted in my life – it ranks up there with the best!

che jai meen us

Don’t forget to order the beef balls when you’re eating from a humble che jai meen stall in Hong Kong – it’s delicious and probably one of the best you’ll taste in the world.

toothpick

…and if you’re up to it, you can do like the locals do and stick a toothpick in your mouth after the delicious che jai meen meal to clear any pesky debris sticking to your molars. I’ve never seen Jeanie use it before but she seems to have gone native during our trip there. smirk

Wanton mee in Hong Kong

wonton mee hong kong

I guess if you’re pressed to name a dish that is representative of Hong Kong street food, the answer would be wanton mee (wonton noodles). I’ve had it several times during my recent trip to Hong Kong – it’s a very light meal with subtle notes – there are no overpowering flavors here.

wonton mee

The best wanton mee I had came piping hot with al dente noodles and a couple of wontons in a savory broth garnished with a healthy sprinkling of scallions (spring onions). Simple, but delicious.

wonton

It is interesting to note that the wontons in Hong Kong are made with prawns, with just a little bit of pork. It usually is made of pure pork over here and I much prefer the prawn wontons in HK.

wonton noodles

You’ll be very surprised at just how such a simple dish can taste fabulous. I was told that it’ll be difficult to find a place that serves bad wonton mee in Hong Kong and they were right! Just walk into any establishment in HK and you’ll find great wonton mee. :)

No, I don’t know why there’s a shirtless man behind me either.

Ulu Yam Loh Mee

ulu yam gps

It was an unfortunate GPS navigational error that ultimately brought us to this place in Selayang – some 20 km away from our original intended destination of Ulu Yam. Christy was talking about the fabulous Ulu Yam loh mee and I chose the first result that came up.

restoran soon yuen

Thus, we totally missed Ulu Yam Lama and headed into Selayang instead. Oh well, at least the names kinda rhyme. This coffee shop is adorned with a banner that proclaims its dedication to Ulu Yam loh mee (with that dastardly entry in the GPS echoing its wares).

ulu yam loh mee

Anyway, since we were there, we decided to order the loh mee (RM 5). It comes in a HUGE bowl – the portion is pretty generous but there’s only two shrimps and other miscellaneous bits of meat inside. The soup is nice and starchy though and a dash (or a pour in my case) of vinegar does wonders to the taste.

ulu yam us

The bottle of vinegar does not have a volume reducer (or whatever you call that doohickey) so I think I emptied near 50 ml of the stuff into my bowl but it’s all good – the loh mee portion is huge enough to diffuse all that vinegar. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that it tastes just right – much like how Baby Bear’s bowl of porridge must have tasted to the home invading Goldilocks.

ulu yam herbal tea

However, the best thing about Restoran Soon Yuan is their herbal tea. It’s RM 1.80 and is brewed with chrysanthemum, luo han guo and dried longans. It’s surprisingly refreshing!

ulu yam lor mee

Unfortunately, the loh mee is only serviceable (although I ate the entire bowl) and it’s missing a key ingredient – deep fried pork lard. The definitive Ulu Yam loh mee is here, according to Kim. I’ll have to head down to Ulu Yam Lama someday to taste authentic Ulu Yam loh mee.

This place lists the rather promisingly named African Fried Rice on its menu though.

Guilin Mi Fen with Horse Meat

There’s no horsing around in this outlet. smirk

guilin mi fen horse meat

Okay, the first thing on the agenda when I arrived in Guilin is to eat the famous Gui Lin Mee Fen (rice vermicelli) with horse meat. However, that proved harder to find that I initially thought. Rats too for that matter, but that’s another post.

guilin mee fen

Anyway, after walking 1,000 miles and nearly getting run down by several cars and buses (it’s left hand drive here in China) I decided to consult a person from the industry that knows everything about anything obscure or illegal – hard to find cuisine, the oldest profession in the world, substances, basically The Travelers Guide to a New City (TM). Your friendly neighborhood taxi driver.

gui lin mi fen eat

Within minutes (and a RMB 10 fare, which is RM 5, pretty damn cheap cabs over here) I was on my way to the oldest Guilin Mi Fen with Horse Meat establishment in town. It has reputedly been around for about 40 years (as told by two different sources) and caters to the locals instead of tourists (just the way I like it).

gui lin mee fen

Alas! How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! In the past, horses were used for transport, war machines by knights, riot control by mounted police, and prized stallions on the racetrack. It has now been relegated (at least in China) to food. Heh!

gui lin mi fen horse meat

The Gui Lin Mi Fen is not rice vermicelli as we know it, it looks more like rice noodles to me. You are free to add as many condiments, pickles and spices as you want. I highly recommend their chilli flakes – Guilin is known for its spicy food so go wild with this one.

gui lin mi fen

Gui Lin Mi Fen with Horse Meat is a soup dish, which is not what I usually eat, but since it’s the local specialty, I tasted it and pronounce it GOOD. The spring onions adds a lot to the taste of the soup while the peanuts contribute that additional texture to this dish. Best of all, it only costs RMB 6 (RM 3) for a large bowl.

guilin mi fen

I love it, mostly coz of the horse meat. Horse meat can best be described as something of a cross between beef and lamb. It’s sweet and has a nice gamey aftertaste and it’s surprisingly lean.

guilin mee fen good

Mmm…equine meat!

Posted: 7:19 am China Time (Guilin is in the same timezone as Malaysia)

Sg. Besi Wan Tan Mee

besi wantan mee

Jessica was in the vicinity of my condo one night and asked if I wanted to eat some overwhelmingly delicious (those were her exact words) wantan mee in Sungai Besi.
HB: How overwhelming?
J: Power overwhelming.
I was sold. She’s such a Starcraft geek sometimes. Heh! I was up for it since I just got back from work so I drove down to Sg. Besi with her as the GPS. There are no signboards at the place – it looks like a car workshop which moonlights as a restaurant at night.

besi cooking

We arrived there at around 10 pm and the place was still bustling with customers. The friendly lady proprietor came over and took our order. She didn’t seem to mind the BYO (had a bottle of Absolut Vodka that I just plonked down on the table) and gave us the lowdown on the Good Stuff (TM) they have.

besi place

Sg. Besi Wan Tan Mee is famous for two things (one thing actually) – their wan tan mee with char siew. Their char siew is apparently their signature dish (according to the proprietor and Jess) so all their wan tan mee is served with awesome char siew.

besi wantan mee duck

It costs RM 5.50 per plate and it’s worth every sen! The drive down was long but the food more than made up for it. It’s gotta be the best wan tan mee I’ve had in KL. The noodles are springy and flavorful and the char siew is to die for. It has a crispy edge, but is tender on the inside. The char siew is also slightly sweet, but not overpoweringly so and has an almost melt-in-your-mouth texture. Superlatives fail me.

besi wantan mee mushrooms

You can choose add-ons for just RM 1.50 to your wantan mee with char siew.
I had a duck drumstick (RM 8) with my wan tan mee. I choose the entire drum instead of an add-on.
Jess had the shitake mushroom add-on for RM 1.50. It’s juicy and flavorful; the mushrooms taste like it just came out of a pot of pork stew (perhaps the same one I ordered below). The mushrooms were practically engorged with delicious juices. Mmm…

besi pork

We also ordered a side dish of stewed pork leg (RM 10.00). Just coz I was craving for pork.

It’s so good I did my speed eating thing while Jessica filmed me. Watch me stuff my mouth like a pig on this (power) overwhelming(ly) delicious wan tan mee with char siew.

besi onions

You can also add fried onions to the wantan mee with char siew for that extra oomph! I have no idea how to direct you here since Jessica guided me but the address listed on the menu is:
No. 190H, Jalan 2 ½ Mile, Off Sg. Besi, 55200 Kuala Lumpur.

besi me

Sungai Besi Wan Tan Mee - Best in Sg. Besi, KL, and some say, PJ.

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