I had the bright idea of taking a discounted (but longer)
route to Tokyo via Manila. Tickets were RM1,345 per pax return from Kuala
Lumpur. That’s easily RM600 cheaper than ANA but with a transit in the
Philippines. We departed KL at 2am in the morning and arrived in Tokyo at 12pm
the next day, sleep-deprived. We checked into our AirBNB before lining up at Sobahouse
Konjiki Hototogisu, groggy and in need of sustenance.
This was a mere 12-minute walk from our accommodation. I
used Google Maps and Mandy was adamant I took the wrong way coz it led us down
a dingy back alley. I told her that this particular restaurant is located in a
small alley. There was no signage but I saw a line of people snaking out the
front of the pinned location. This was 30 minutes before the ramen shop opened!
We joined the line.
It’s summer in Japan now so lining up in the heat isn’t a
very pleasant experience. There are lots of smells, and not the good kind. I’m
talking about BO instead of pork oil. Wet, sweaty armpits abound. The queue had
a lot of foreigners from China and Australia too and these are not countries
renowned for their personal hygiene. Thankfully we got into the first seating
coz we’re a couple and secured a table.
Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu has a vending machine at the
entrance where you’re supposed to make your order before passing it to the
staff. The vending machine is in Japanese, but there’s a laminated A4 paper
attached with English instructions for two of their most popular ramen – their
recommended shio soba and their signature shoyu soba. I ordered one of each,
with additional toppings of ajitama (egg) and chasiu.
I got a Kirin Heartland (600 yen or RM24) – a beautiful green bottle of beer with embossed logo and no labels except for a small government mandated neck wrap. It’s a European Pale Lager. It came super chilled. The beer is easy to drink and the slight hoppiness goes with with the heavy flavors of ramen. I also ordered a white bait and umeboshi (picked plum) rice bowl meant as an ochazuke (300 yen) but they ran out and the staff returned my coins.
Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu’s Shio Soba Ramen. The stock is made with two different types of salt – Mongolian rock salt and Okinawan sea salt. They use red sea bream and hamaguri clam to make the soup broth. It’s then finished with Italian white truffle oil, homemade porcini mushroom sauce, pancetta bacon bits, and inca berry sauce. Even the noodles are made with 6 different types of domestic flour!
This is the one that tasted better to me. I love the seafood sweetness in the broth. The toothsome and textural ramen noodles were excellent too. The broth is complex and layered and I enjoyed drinking it tremendously. I wish I had the sold-out rice bowl to go with the delicious soup base.
Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu’s Shoyu Soba Ramen. This is made with 3 different types of soup – clear pork broth, wa-dashi (Japanese stock) and a hamaguri clam dashi. The ramen is then topped with homemade truffle sauce, porcini oil and porcini mushroom flakes. It’s very fragrant! The pork broth is also heavier than the red bream one in the previous bowl.
Fans of heavy tasting ramen would love this bowl but it’s a
bit too much for me. I struggled to finish the soup coz the overwhelming pork
flavours made it a bit difficult to drink. You’ll love this ramen if you enjoy
fatty pork belly, but I don’t so I preferred the seafood shio ramen. It’s nice
to try both of their signature and recommended ramen dishes though.
There are only 7 counter seats and two small tables for 2
pax each so expect to wait unless you come early. Do not expect excellent
service – this is a neighbourhood ramen stall so the interactions are short and
terse. They have notices telling you not to linger too long after finishing
your bowl of ramen and no photos are allowed inside except for the food. It’s a
good experience to see what the latest ramen joint to get a Michelin star in
the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2019 is about.
The bill came up to about 4,200 yen (RM165) for two including beer. I’ll like to try Tsuta and Nakiryu next time to see how they compare.
I was in Penang for a collaboration my company has with Kwong Wah
Yit Poh recently. We stayed for a night at The Wembley @ St Giles and indulged
in the famous island food scene. We flew in slightly before lunch so we headed
straight to eat. Sam mentioned there was a rice vermicelli noodle served on top
of steamed fish in Gurney Drive so we hunted for the restaurant.
This is har cheong fried chicken wings. It’s chicken wings dipped in prawn paste before deep frying. It’s crunchy and savory and came piping hot. Delicious!
This is their signature bee hoon steamed fish. It’s important to note that this isn’t a noodle dish. It’s a steamed fish dish, but they pile rice vermicelli on top before serving. I have no idea why they do that – probably for added texture. It’s good though – the noodles go well with the coriander-sugar-soy sauce mixture for the fish.
There’s also an obligatory plate of vegetables.
There’s also house style tofu with mushrooms on top, which was delicious.
However, the outstanding dish for lunch is this claypot pork ribs with yam and burnt garlic. The gravy strapped my ass on a jetpack and launched me straight to Flavortown at Mach 1. 🚀 Fuiyoh! 😱 It was lip smacking good! I loved the smoky burnt whole garlic cloves. The tender, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs was succulent and combines well with the slightly chewy texture of the sliced yam. Insanely delicious!
We headed to Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol after lunch for some cooling cendol…
…and a plate of rojak to share.
The cendol is good but they’ve open so many branches throughout
Malaysia that eating at the original has lost some of its lustre. The operation
is very commercialized nowadays.
Dinner that night was at Da Shu Xia Seafood House. They have a spread of fresh seafood you can choose from. I’ve eaten here many years ago as well and they’re quite good.
This is butter prawns. They’re deep fried to golden perfection – crispy and hot.
We also ordered a tom yam soup in a coconut that tasted yummy. The thick broth was more like gravy and goes very well with rice.
Of course, there’s the obligatory vegetable dish. I believe this is potato leaves.
This is steamed fish Teochew style with tomatoes, tofu and
This is sweet chilli crab! The crab had a super hard shell and I got splattered on my face while trying to crack open the shell. I love the thick, starchy sauce.
We also had an order of clams (lala). This was the item I ate the most of since it was just in front of me. Haha.
It’s a satisfying dinner! We headed to The Bund. This is a hidden bar e.g. speakeasy design where the front façade is locked and you need to access the drinking hole through an obscure side entrance.
The ambience inside is nice and chill.
There are also two decent singers performing. I got them to sing a
Chinese song that’s been stuck in my head recently. Haha.
I was in Johor Bahru for work last week! I ate at the famous Woon
Kiang Kuey Teow Kia in JB but didn’t manage to eat other local food since we
had an event there. We mostly ate near the hotel, branch office or the airport
at other times. Our HQ team was staying at Midori Concept Hotel – we arrived
slightly past lunchtime and headed over to the shops nearby for food.
Grandma Traditional Tastes was one of the few restaurants still open at 3 pm. We ordered their Traditional Curry Seafood Bamboo Pot, which is a medley of prawns, mussels and squid inside an open bamboo tube. The broth is a curry sauce base which tastes really good with rice.
Signature Golden Crust Beancurd is their version of in-house fried tofu. The exterior was crispy and it had some kind of seaweed crust. There’s a bit of gravy at the bottom and some mushrooms and broccoli to round up the tofu with vegetables.
Signature Ice Gu Lao Pork With Lemon was our choice of protein. This is sweet and sour pork served inside a bed of ice! It’s one of their flagship dishes. The gu lao pork is cooked normally but chilled down inside the ice until it becomes cold. It’s unusual and different. I think it works better as an appetizer than a main dish to go with rice though.
I grabbed a boba at The Yunique Tea for dessert. This is a bubble tea from Taiwan with a similar logo to Daboba (bear) but with a cap on the bear.
We headed over to Woon Kiang Kuey Teow Kia for a very late dinner later that night. This is a JB institution which is open till late – or more like, early in the morning. There’s a busy station with various cuts of pork and pork innards.
The place was packed even at midnight on a working weekday!
This is everything we’ve ordered – there’s braised chicken,
braised egg, tofu, stomach, liver, intestine, pickled vegetables and lean pork.
You eat the dishes with this kueh tiaw kia soup dish. This is a
thin, flat noodle inside a mild tasting broth.
I like it. I can see why people enjoy these things. It’s not my
first choice since I prefer more heavily seasoned food but I’m glad I tried it.
They’re very popular!
Breakfast the next day was a quick Malaysian style spread of kaya
toast and soft-boiled eggs at the café below our JB branch office.
Korean BBQ at Mount Austin for lunch!
This was a
set for 8-10 pax with seafood, pork, kimchi soup and pancakes.
a whole bunch of us and we all ate our fill.
We were slated to fly back to KL that night so the four of us from
HQ grabbed a quick bite to eat at the airport.
This is Lavender Bistro & Café in Senai Airport. It was still Ramadan at the time so they took a really long time to serve our food coz we ate around buka puasa.
I liked my order of salmon on crusty focaccia bread. I haven’t
been to JB in at least 8 years so it was good to be back.
I’m heading to Penang again tomorrow so I thought I better post about the delicious meals I had during my previous trip there last month. This was a whirlwind work trip where I only had 10 hours on the island state. We headed straight for lunch at Chef Wang Fusion Kitchen after arriving at the airport.
Chef Wang Fusion Kitchen is a private kitchen setup where you need
to reserve the tables and order the dishes in advance. I believe the chef is
from China. The food here is really good. I was impressed. Our business
partners pre-ordered the dishes and we occupied 2 tables. We were the only ones
at the restaurant.
The pork rib soup was mild tasting and almost refreshing. It’s served in a claypot and tasted like something my maternal grandmother would cook. It’s less intensely flavoured but goes very well with the strong-tasting dishes that followed. Rice was also served in a steel pot.
I really liked their asam fish. The sour and sweet notes are very appetizing. They also have shredded raw green mango on top to add a crunchy dimension. The fish is reasonably fatty too, which is a good thing. Lean fish doesn’t taste very nice in these dishes. You need good omega oils to add mouthfeel and taste.
Next up was kiam chye pork with prawn. This is salted vegetables stir-fried with pork and topped with peeled prawns. The gravy looks sinister but doesn’t really taste as intense as it looks. This is a milder tasting dish, but still good. The salted vegetables are not just one dimensionally salty, but sourish.
You can’t eat in Penang without running into the perennial Hokkien favorite tau yu bak. Pig trotters are cooked with soy sauce to make this slightly sweet and savory dish. It’s one of my favorite things to eat. Chef Wang’s version was pretty good too.
I found their belacan fried chicken to be an unusual twist to fried chicken. I hear it’s pretty common in Penang to marinate fried chicken in belacan before frying though. It tastes really good this way! The salty and prawn-y belacan elevates this dish to new levels. The chicken was fried well too, and the meat was juicy and tender. It’s served with chilli sauce.
The deep-fried whole prawns in oyster sauce was really delicious too! The shells of the crispy prawns were fried long enough to be eaten. I love the head butter inside these babies too. One of the best dishes of the meal.
A dish of homemade tofu rounded up the meal. This was quite mild tasting and inoffensive to balance out the stronger flavors of the other dishes. It works well.
The morbidly obese waitress also brought out a dish of tong sui for dessert. This was a concoction of taro and sago pearls in a sweet syrup. It was decent but savory dishes are this establishments strong suit.
We had a presentation and meeting with our media partners before
we had to fly back to KL.
Before that, our Penang branch manager brought us to Super Tanker to indulge in some hawker food.
I ordered a very dismal bowl of asam laksa. It tasted dilute and tepid. I was surprised I could find such a terrible implementation of asam laksa in Penang. I had to force myself to finish the bowl.
Luckily the char kueh tiaw I ordered was excellent. Smoky and delicious, this was a really good example of how Penang does CKT right.
Sam also ordered some o chien (oyster omelette) to share. This was really good as well. I like the Penang style of mok mok (soggy) o chien better than our Sarawak crispy o chien.
I managed to tapau some chai kueh for Mandy too.
It’s actually more for me, since I like eating chai kueh. Haha.
We also got some apam balik to eat on the way to the car. The apam at Super Tanker is remarkable too! Crispy, hot and delicious! We had to rush to the airport and nearly missed our flight due to the traffic jam in Penang. We made it though. I’ll be going again in a few hours!
It was the Labour Day holidays so we decided to go somewhere cooling for a short vacation. We’ve recently been to Fraser’s Hill and enjoyed ourselves so we planned to go to Genting this time. Cameron Highlands is too far away for a 2D/1N stay. I found a nice apartment at Midhills @ Genting and booked it for a night. I also planned to propose to Mandy on that night.
I sneaked out the Sunday before with her ring in tow to purchase
an engagement ring. I know she has a couple of rings at home but it took me a
long time to find it, coz she stored them in a random box in her luggage. I
went to Sunway Pyramid to look at rings before settling on a plain gold band.
There are two different options for even a plain gold band. One
was a simple ring while the other was a modern, square design. I thought she’ll
like the simple design better but I went with the square one for a modern
touch. Turns out she preferred the simple ring. Haha.
I also arrange to have 24 pink roses delivered to the office. I
had taken the car keys that morning and planned to put these in the boot so she
wouldn’t see it. I’ll find an excuse to come down to the car while she was
showering to retrieve them when we go to Midhills @ Genting. We both had work
on 30th April, so we’re only driving up at night.
We reached the apartment at around 10 pm and she went for a
shower. I told her I left something in the car and went to get the flowers and
the ring. I waited till she was about to exit the bathroom and went down on
bended knee to propose to her. She said yes.
In hindsight, I should have done this at our home. I could have
had more time to set up fairy lights, letters etc. I didn’t think of it at the
time. I’ll KIV that for the future. Haha.
She was feeling under the weather and didn’t feel like going out so I went to tapau some food from Gohtong Jaya. I’ve heard good things about Restoran Hou Wan so I headed there. Unfortunately, they were out of their famous steamed frog legs but they had their crispy kon chou sang mee (dry fried sang mee). I ordered chicken wings, Guinness pork ribs and two types of noodles.
The standout dish from Restoran Hou Wan is their famous kon chau sang mee. This was a dish of deliciously crispy noodles with a slice of century duck egg. You’re given wonderfully thick gravy on the side, which is poured on the noodles to rehydrate it. The gravy is full of seafood and egg and has notes of garlic and wine. Very yummy.
We headed to Genting Strawberry Leisure Farms the next morning. This is a strawberry farm in Gohtong Jaya. Mandy wanted to eat some strawberries.
The farm also has various cold climate flowers.
There’s a café selling all types of food with strawberries in
them. They also had a chocolate fountain where you can dip strawberries to get
chocolate coated fresh strawberries.
We also bought strawberry ice cream with fresh cut strawberries on
They also had freshly made waffles and we went for a strawberry +
chocolate filling. Not bad.
Mandy wanted more of the chocolate dipped strawberries so I
ordered another one, but told the lady to put it inside their fridge for a few
minutes so the coating will harden. Mandy liked this version better.
We walked around the farm some more…
…and picked our own strawberries!
You can get pruning scissors and a basket to collect your own
Just cut the ones you like from the vine!
There were some very luscious ones!
The ones you see at supermarkets are cheaper but it’s fun to pick our own strawberries. These are so much fresher. I paid RM 23 for this.
It’s a nice afternoon spent strolling around the flowers and
We headed uphill to Genting Highlands after and parked at First
World Hotel. While walking around SkyAvenue mall, we passed by the Genting
cinema and a poster for Avengers: Endgame. We both haven’t watched it so we
bought two tickets to the show.
It was almost dark by the time we finished watching the 3-hour
opus so we went in search of food.
Mandy wanted to eat Beauty in the Pot but they were so full due to it being Labour Day holidays that the earliest slot we could get was 11 pm! She settled for Palsaik instead.
Palsaik is a Korean BBQ restaurant famous for their 8 flavored pork belly. I’ve eaten here many years ago. We also needed to wait before a table was available.
The staff will grill the pork belly for you. You’re supposed to
eat it wrapped with leaves, Korean style.
Genting was fun but there was way too many people on Labour Day.
These public holidays tend to attract people from the Klang Valley so
everywhere was crowded.
We managed to get some fancy donuts to eat on the way back! It was
good short trip.
I was in Penang for a business trip last week. 🏝️ It’s the
land of food so I made sure to properly plan my meals so I could maximize the
amount of delicious hawker food I could indulge in during my short time on the
island. I made a list of the must eat foods within close proximity to Cititel
Penang (the hotel I was staying at) and walked to most places so I could work
up an appetite.
The first meal I had was at Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company. ☕ I had a work lunch meeting here so I took a Grab straight from Penang Airport. This is a converted warehouse that serves primarily coffee (and gelato) as well as a selection of hot food. I went for the Macallum’s Coffee Spaghetti (RM 23) and an iced latte.
The coffee spaghetti was made with creamy coffee sauce and chorizo
pork sausage. 🍝 It tasted surprisingly good. I
originally expected this to be more of a novelty dish but it was rich and
delicious, with an aftertaste of roasted coffee beans and pepper. The latte was
excellent too! Our business associates picked up the bill – thanks for lunch!
I checked in the hotel after lunch and worked for a while before heading out for some char kueh tiaw. I wanted to eat at the esteemed New Siam Road Char Kueh Tiaw. 🍳 This is probably Penang’s most well-regarded CKT, better than the tourist-overrun Lorong Selamat CKT. There was a sizable queue even at 4 pm in the afternoon.
I waited about 20 minutes for my plate of CKT. You need to queue
up before you can get seated. They don’t take orders and deliver to the table.
Check out the huge industrial blower they have going! 🔥 This is
still made on an old school charcoal stove and the blower supplies the wind to
keep the heat high.
I love the CKT here at Siam Road. It’s easily the best CKT I’ve
eaten in Penang, which makes it the best CKT in the world. The wok hei flavors
come through really well, providing a smoky aroma that goes perfectly with the
charred lap cheong (Chinese sausage), soft cockles, and crunchy beans sprouts. 💨 It’s
exceedingly delicious! 10/10.
I could still eat after that so I went to Sup Hameed beside my hotel for a snack. I’ve eaten the sup torpedo here 10 years ago. That’s bull penis soup. 🐂🍆 I remember enjoying the gristly and gelatinous bovine dick. I wanted to try something different this time so I ordered their famous Sup Kambing (Goat Soup).
All their soups use the same base, it’s just the protein that’s
different. You can see the different cuts of meats and organs they have on the
soup prep station. 🍖
This is what their goat soup (RM 7.30) looks like. 🐐 People usually eat it with thickly sliced bread (RM 0.80). Their bread has a charred, bitter edge that goes very well with savory soup dishes. There’s not a lot of goat here though, but I didn’t expect much due to the price. It’s mostly bones with a bit of meat sticking on them. Not a bad snack though!
I had to rest for a while after all that food. The next destination was a good 4 hours later at night. I’ve heard of a place called Moody Cow Café which serves slices of cake priced RM 42 and above. 😱 I thought that was a shockingly expensive price tag for just a slice of cake! I was very intrigued. I had to go and see what they’re about.
Moody Cow Café is one of those Instagrammable cafes with a
beautiful interior and seating arrangements. 📷 I love
their vintage high-backed chairs and quiet environment. It is very dark inside
though. I think that’s why they’re named moody – the temperamental lighting is
a conscious ambiance cue.
I ordered their flagship Cempedak Madness (RM 42) cake. 🍰 They have several different premium ones, including a chocolate rum concoction but the owner recommended this as their bestseller. The RM 42 slice was generous, tall and thick. It’s made with tons of real cempedak fruit. It’s an extremely rich cake with lots of butter and cream and tropical fruit and I had to struggle to finish the slice.
The cake slices here are definitely meant for sharing. It’s too
cloying for a single person to eat. 💀 I did enjoy the Cempedak Madness cake
though. I know I’ll have enjoyed it more if I were hungry. It’s very expensive
but worth a try if only for the sticker shock kudos you’ll get from social
Nasi Kandar Beratur is another Penang institution that I wanted to try. This place is famous for opening at 10 pm at night! 🌙 I went at 11 pm and there was a queue coming out the front. Luckily it moved quite fast. It’s popular among the locals for some late night noms.
They have a selection of freshly cooked dishes to pair with rice.
I opted for a fried chicken leg, which I hear is a must have. I also added on
prawn curry and sotong (squid) curry as well as a personal bag of papadom. 🍛
My meal cost RM 22.50. 💸 The fried chicken leg is very small, likely from a free range kampung chicken. I wasn’t too impressed by it. The squid and prawns were decent but nothing special. I prefer the dishes at Nasi Kandar Line Clear. I’m glad I tried this though.
I went to Kheng Pin Café the next morning for some Penang lorbak. 🍢 This is a very famous stall that’s right beside my hotel. It’s run by a friendly husband-and-wife duo. They’re really busy in the mornings – every table I saw had a plate of lorbak.
The lorbak is freshly deep fried before being delivered piping hot
to you. I opted for a selection with everything plus century egg for RM 8. 🦆
This the second-best meal I had in Penang this trip, after the
Siam Road CKT. The prawn fritters are particularly delicious and I love the
ngor hiang too. 🍤 It goes very well with their house
chili and lu dipping sauce. 10/10.
92 Armenian Bird’s Nest Delicacy is a café specializing in all things bird’s nest. 🐦 Mandy made a special request to tapau their bird’s nest egg tarts so I walked here after my lorbak breakfast to order some egg tarts.
This café has the best packaging I’ve seen. They lovingly bundle
up the 2 egg tarts I ordered into a fine, red box and put that into a high-quality
custom paper bag. The egg tarts are attached securely via custom holders and
there’s a nook that fits a small vial of bird’s nest beside them. Very
The egg tarts are priced at RM 9 each. 🥚 You
drizzle the bird’s nest soup over the egg tarts before you eat them. I wouldn’t
say they’re very delicious but they’re not bad and the packaging is superb.
Next meal was herbal duck drumstick mee sua. 🍜 My Penang colleague picked me up and we wanted to go to a popular hawker center for lunch but he couldn’t find parking. It was close to our next meeting so I told him we can just eat anywhere there’s parking. It was pretty good – a nice, blander change to my heavily seasoned normal meals.
The next time I could eat was after work commitments, when I
popped into a roadside durian stall to indulge in a durian. The durian seller
said he only has 1 local durian and the others are from Thailand. 🇹🇭
I was told this is Ang Bak Kia – a local Penang breed. 😋 However, I’m not so sure as the Penang durian season is yet to start. This is likely a Thai durian.
It was RM 22 for this Ang Bak Kia durian. It satisfied by durian
craving but I have serious doubts about the provenance of said durian. 🤔
I was in the Air Itam area for work but unfortunately the famous Air Itam Laksa was closed on that day. The local favorite Bisu Laksa @ Air Itam Market was also closing by the time I finished with work so I couldn’t eat there either. 🤫 I ended up patronizing a random CKT shop and had CKT with duck egg. It’s not as good as Siam Road, but sufficient to tide me over till my next trip.
I forced myself to scarf down one last meal before I flew back to KL. It was at a lor mee / prawn mee stall at Air Itam Market. After seeing my hesitation in deciding, the seller suggested mixing the two soup bases together. Big mistake. The unholy marriage tasted quite appalling. I didn’t enjoy it at all. 🤮
Before booking my Grab to the airport, I stopped by a local bakery down the road called Sin Ka Onn. The shop was the perfect place to wait and I’ve heard good things about their store made kaya. 🥥 I also grabbed a half-loaf of soft, pillowy bread to pair with the spread.
I thought that half loaf would be too much for the two of us.
Wrong! I only ate two pieces before Mandy inhaled the rest! She really enjoyed
We woke up bright and early the next day to head to my mom’s
grave. 🌞 This isn’t a grave per se – it’s more like a
tomb. The arrangement here is an above-ground sealed chamber where the coffin
slides in. It’s not buried underground. Someone slides a slab of concrete over
the entrance after the coffin goes in and seals it up with cement. I believe
this is common in Christian cemeteries to observe how Jesus was entombed.
I helped clean up the grave and we sang hymns and my dad led
everyone in prayer. That’s what we do during Ching Ming. It’s more like a
remembrance thing for Christians. ✝️ There’s no burning of incense or
hell paper and there are no offerings of food or fruit, although we prepared a
flower arrangement. My aunts were there too, as well as Mandy.
We all went to Aloha Café in Sibu for breakfast after that. This is one of our favorite coffee shops in Sibu, primarily due to the Sarawak Laksa here. 🍜 Mandy loves laksa so I brought her here to check out arguably the best one in Sibu. She said the Sarawak laksa I cooked tasted a lot better. Hehe.
My dad went for his favorite Sibu style char kueh tiaw. This is fried with an egg omelette on top, a unique local twist. 🍳 It’s kinda like mee goreng Pattaya or omurice, but not completely wrapped. Our kueh tiaw is flat and thick too. I don’t personally like it but plenty of people do.
I went for the interestingly named Fried Kompia. Kompia is a local unleavened baked bread, much like a bagel. 🥯 This stall uses the kompia as the base for frying. This reminds me of the Kothu Roti I had in Sri Lanka. I wouldn’t say it tasted good but it’s certainly novel! Good to see people trying new twists and takes on existing local food, although I’ll never order it again.
I also got Kompia with Cheese. 🧀 These are baked kompia with minced meat (pork) filling, with the addition of a small slice of processed cheddar cheese. It tasted pretty good though. I would order this again although I prefer deep fried kompia and kompia soaked in gravy.
We needed a caffeine boost after that so I went with Mandy to Starbucks Sibu. ☕ This is the biggest Starbucks in Malaysia! It’s housed in its own two-storey building – a vast, open space. I didn’t even know this was the biggest Starbucks in Malaysia until a Sarawak Tourism video mentioned it.
The place is clean and spacious so we sat here in the comfortable
sofas for a while. 🛋️ They even have a meeting room here!
I had my usual Iced Americano while Mandy went for a Frappucino. 🥤
Thus energized, we headed to the Central Market. Sibu Central Market is the biggest covered market in Malaysia. I also didn’t know that until a few years back. Haha. There are a lot of interesting, hyper-local products – produce you can only find in the jungles of Borneo. 🌴 It’s very interesting!
One of those examples is Keranji Madu. This is a type of dry fruit with a soft, crackable shell and a seed coated with sweet fibres. 🌰 I convinced the girl to sell me a small amount for RM 3. I remember eating this in my childhood when my dad bought some but I haven’t eaten it in decades. I can’t say it’s delicious but it’s an interesting fruit.
This is not salak fruit. We have that here but it’s not in season. This is another local fruit which I forgot the name of. It looks very similar to salak but is smaller and clumps together. 🍇
There are chickens nicely wrapped and ready for takeaway! 🐔
is a Sibu invention – wrapping live chickens in newspapers and binding them
with nylon string so they’re easy to purchase and transport back.
Mandy tried a local avocado ice cream which is made by hand churning. 🥑 It’s made from a powder mix so don’t get your hopes up about the flavour. It tastes quite artificial.
We saw some huge specimens of freshwater big head prawn. 🦐
I bought some ang chao (fermented red rice wine sediments) to bring back to KL. 🍷 These are not sold openly since wine brewing requires a license so they have to sell these under the table. RM 1 got me a sizable amount!
The most interesting item we purchased is engkabang butter. This is frequently called “butter from the rainforest”. 🏞️ It’s made with oil extracted from the engkabang fruit. This becomes a paste that’s stored in short lengths of bamboo and sold to be mixed into rice.
A small tube can cost RM 20-40 depending on the diameter! 🎍
tried this the other weekend and it tasted quite unfamiliar. Unusual, but I can
see myself getting into it. It’s like century eggs – a taste which may not be
immediately appealing but can get quite addictive if you let it.
That night, we had dinner at my grandma’s. 👵
popo just celebrated her 90th birthday and she has met Mandy during
CNY over Facebook Live. This is the first time she’s seen her in person though.
We had sweet and sour fish, mayo prawns, pork leg, dabai, chai bo – all my
favorite dishes! I ate till I was stuffed and then ate some more. I wanted to
be dangerously close to puking.
We went to a local mall after that to walk off all the calories. My niece and nephew were also in town and they wanted to get some toys. He’s really into Beyblades. I found a new dry type instant noodles – BruMee Kollo Mee Goreng. 🇧🇳 This is made in Brunei and quite expensive due to the exchange rate. Sarawak is adjacent to Brunei so we get their imports sometimes. The noodles aren’t really good but it’s spicy and Mandy enjoyed them.
I also bought a ciplak coconut ice cream to share with Mandy. 🥥 This is a ghetto Sibu version made with powder coconut cream (santan) so it tastes unpleasant and grainy. I struggle to find anything good to say about this ice cream. It’s like someone saw the success of coconut ice cream and made an El Cheapo knockoff version which only appeals to the unrefined palate of the least well-traveled local.
We wanted to eat Chip Chung beef noodles the next day so we woke up bright and early. 🐄 Their beef noodles sell out by 9 am and they start operating before 5 am! This is definitely something for the early birds. Our family used to eat this when they were located at the old Chopsticks in town but we haven’t had it since they moved.
Their noodles are tossed with a delicious garlic sauce instead of
the normal kolo/kampua mee mixture. I remember this distinctive taste from
childhood. This is how I developed a love for garlic. The springy and garlicky
noodles go very well with their beef soup. 😋
The soup is served separately with a variety of beef slices and
offal inside. 🥣 The hearty and savory soup is also
something I’ve missed. I highly recommend this place but be warned, the lady
can be a bit grumpy during service so don’t over-customize your order. She’s
very friendly when she’s not busy though. My only complaint is the serving
sizes, which can be too small for big eaters. The beef noodles here are
I had used up all my clothes so I picked something from my old
wardrobe to wear. ✨ Behold my Ah Beng past in all its
glory! Trust me, these hooks and chains were the height of fashion back in the
day. Positively haute couture.
We were flying back to KL that afternoon so we could squeeze in one final spot for lunch. I decided on Ak Kia Foochow Fried Noodles. This is their fully loaded Foochow fried noodles with lots of pork slices and pork liver. 🐖 It’s the bomb! Ak Kia is known for some of the best Foochow fried noodles in town and these don’t disappoint!
I also ordered their Seafood Fried Noodles. This is another fully loaded plate with shrimp, fish slices and squid. 🦑 The noodles are cooked in white sauce instead of black soy sauce and it also tastes amazing. We both couldn’t decide which one we liked better. This was definitely a perfect meal to end our Sibu trip.
I only go back once or twice every year but I enjoy every trip back
to my hometown. I spent most of my childhood here and I enjoy the flavors of Sibu.
It’s my first time bringing Mandy back to meet my family too and that was fulfilling!
I just came back from a short trip back to Sibu to clean my mom’s grave. It’s Ching Ming, an annual practice by Chinese for remembrance of the dead. I brought along Mandy along and the first thing she wanted to eat was Foochow red wine mee sua. We headed to Happiness Café in Delta – they do one of the better versions in town. I wanted to eat kampua mee but I couldn’t resist ordering this too.
It’s a new stall selling kompia burger! Technically, this is chu nu miang – the sweet and soft version of kompia. I think it’s called thus coz chu nu means virgin in Foochow and virgins are supposed to be sweet and soft. Don’t quote me on that though. My Chinese is terrible and I could be making all these up. I asked the two ladies manning the stall if it’s their own stall but it turns out they’re only working here and couldn’t tell me the background of the stall.
The stall is called Zen Don Bin and they have different types of kompia burgers with beef, sausage and fish fillet patties. I asked for a recommendation and they unreservedly told me the Fish Fillet Burger with Egg and Cheese (RM 3.90) was their bestseller. This actually tasted pretty good! I liked the crunchy fish fillet and the creamy egg with the pillowy soft chu nu miang. Nice!
I also had my kampua mee fix. This is a tossed dry noodle that’s a Sibu specialty. You don’t find a lot of people making this with lard nowadays. There has been a trend of using vegetable oil on the pretext that it’s a healthier option. I suspect it’s also a cost-cutting measure too since lard is significantly more expensive. I love the ones with lard.
Mandy had the Foochow red wine mee sua. This is chicken soup with Foochow unfiltered red wine with sediment. It tastes surprisingly good. I’m not a fan of this dish but they do a really nice version here.
Of course, you can’t leave Sibu without trying the Big Head Prawn Noodles. These are freshwater prawns with huge heads that’s cooked into a Foochow style soup dish. The noodles are fried then boiled and it’s quite a distinctive local taste. The head juice from the prawn heads leach into the soup, adding tons of flavour.
This dish costs RM 38 at Bosco Café, which is considered a reasonable price. A lot of other places charge upwards of RM 50 for this.
My sister came back in the evening with my niece and nephew so we went to pick her up from the airport and headed to Ruby Restaurant for dinner. This is a favorite among our family. The must have dish here is their butter prawns but since my niece is allergic to dairy, we went for the Nestum prawns instead. It’s not as good, but decent.
We also had their famous pandan chicken. These are dark boneless chicken pieces marinated in various spices before being stuffed into a pandan leaf and grilled. It’s smoky, sweet and delicious!
I also ordered midin belacan – a type of jungle fern – for Mandy. You can’t leave Sarawak without tasting midin. It’s a crunchy type of vegetable with a core like okra – ever so slightly slimy.
This is sour lamb, another dish I always order at Ruby. The lamb pieces are tenderized till they’re melt-in-your-mouth and tossed in a sour mayonnaise based sauce. Very delicious!
We also ordered a tapah curry fish head since there were so many of us. Tapah is a local fish that’s similar to catfish. The flesh can be incredibly fatty due to their sedentary lifestyle but it’s a real treat – creamy mouthfeel juxtaposed with firm flesh. This is quite a small fish head but costs RM 63. Tapah is a local favorite so the prices tend to be higher.
The meal came up to RM 186 for the 4 of us plus 2 children. We usually run up at RM 50 bill for two pax so this seems par for the course. I feasted until I was absolutely stuffed! This is one of my favorite places to eat in Sibu.
Mandy has never been to the Sibu pasar malam before so we
headed there after our dinner. Our pasar malam has lots of stalls specializing
in pork. Sibu is a majority Chinese town so pork is the choice of protein here.
You can get various different cuts of meat from pork belly to tail to even a
full pig face!
I bought a few pieces of chai kueh and also a crispy apam
balik. Both were dismal. I had better versions of both during my Penang day
trip for work before coming back to Sibu.
It was still fun to walk around town and do all the things I
normally wouldn’t do. It’s nice to see my hometown from the perspective of
someone else too!
The first thing I did after sending Mandy off to the airport was take a Grab to Kubah Ria. I’ve been craving for Pizza Ria, our local Kuching pizza/pasta/pancake chain. This is their original outlet in Satok – they’ve been open for over 30 years at the same spot! My dad used to bring me here when I was a little kid (we moved to Sibu when I was 7).
I also indulged in my favorite beef pancake many times when I was working in Kuching around 24-25 but I haven’t eaten it since. That’s a good 12 years without this sinful creation. It’s basically mince beef inside a crepe that’s doused with tomato sauce but it’s extremely nostalgic. The best pairing is Pancake + Spaghetti (RM 8.50) – you get both options on your plate. You can even request to have it mixed up into a gooey mess!
The pancake used to be topped with a made-to-order sunny
side up runny egg but they’re all line produced now so that reduced the
enjoyment factor a little. The runny yolk mixed into the minced beef was one of
my favorite things – a bite with umami tomato sauce, gossamer thin pancake,
savory minced beef and creamy yolk is the perfect mouthful!
You can’t leave here without ordering a slice of pizza too.
It’s not the best but I love it. You probably wouldn’t enjoy Pizza Ria if you
didn’t grow up eating it. This isn’t exceptional cooking. It’s the taste of
nostalgia. Every true-blooded Kuchingite should have fond memories of eating
this, especially if you’re born in the 80s or 90s. I’m glad I had a chance to
revisit my childhood. It was delicious!
I woke up bright and early to go to Choon Hui Café the next day. This is the place made famous by Anthony Bourdain. He claims it’s the best Sarawak laksa in Kuching. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open and wouldn’t be open until a few days after I leave. Alas!
Not to be dissuaded, I went opposite to the only kopitiam open at 7 am to eat some breakfast. I ordered kolo mee, which took over 1 hour to arrive! To be fair, the guy warned me that it’ll take a long time to arrive since many out-of-town people were back for Chinese New Year. I probably wouldn’t have minded if it tasted good.
Unfortunately, it was almost inedible. The guy was so rushed
he barely tossed the noodles and the texture was disappointing. The flavour was
barely there too. I left the bowl after eating two mouthfuls. That’s something
I very rarely do as I don’t like wasting food. It was that dismal.
Thankfully, my morning meal was saved by Kelly’s Fritters. This was a stall selling various fritters. I went for heh piah (prawn fritters). These is a crispy Kuching specialty served with a chilli dipping sauce. I have fond memories of eating this during tea time at the start of my career in Kuching.
This tasted really good! The fritters were crispy and
flavorful, with just the right amount of prawn. 🦐
I went to Sin Kwang Foochow Big Pau twice over two days but they sold out and closed before I arrived both days. 😭 This is another item I ate during my working days in Kuching. It’s a huge pao with pork and egg. Quite delicious! Too bad I didn’t have a chance to eat it again.
Mandy suggested Hock Hai Dim Sum Café down the road. They also have a big pao, at a fraction of the price of Sin Kwang (RM 3.40) but it was oversteamed. The bottom is hard and crusty.
There’s no egg inside and the mystery
meat is a rolled-up ball instead of identifiable chunks. Sin Kwang’s version is
I have never eaten gula apong ice cream in Kuching before. It wasn’t available back then. This is a relatively new thing. Now there are many different ones mushrooming around town. I had to try it!
I wasn’t impressed with DP Ice Cream Gula Apong’s version though. It was very icy and diluted. Disappointing.
Since Kuching hawkers don’t like making tons of money, a lot of stalls are closed over the first week of CNY. That includes all the belacan bee hoon stalls in Song Kheng Hai rugby field. Sigh.
However, I managed to get my tomato crispy mee fix. The best version is in Hui Sing Hawker Center but that’s quite far away so I had this at a random coffee shop in Padungan. It was pretty good too! I had this at an odd hour too – 3-4 pm in the afternoon. You can’t do that in most places. These noodles are kolo noodles that’s been deep fried and doused with seafood filled tomato sauce. They have a kueh tiaw version too but I prefer the noodle ones.
Another must-eat in Kuching is kueh chap – various innards and offcuts of the pig in a thin braising liquid. It’s served with rice sheets. I’m actually not a fan of kueh chap. I never crave for these things but it’s nice to eat once in a while. I can’t remember the last time I had kueh chap. Definitely more than a decade ago.
I also found a durian stall at the cat
statue in Padungan. I hear this is the designated seasonal fruit vendor’s location
We don’t get branded durian cultivars in
Sarawak, but that is slowly changing. This is a kampung durian for RM 10. Not
I managed to squeeze in one last meal at Mee Sin Café before I had to catch my flight to Pontianak. I woke up very early at 6:30 am and went there to eat seafood kolo mee. They’re famous for sheng rou kolo mee (fresh meat kolo mee) but I prefer the seafood version.
The kolo mee here is very delicious! I
requested for cha siu oil to be added so it’s red. The proper way to order this
is “pang ang” (literally “put red”). The kolo noodles were springy and chewy, a
very pleasing toothsome bite. This more than makes up for the disappointing
kolo mee I had the previous day.
I’ll love to go back to Kuching again to catch up on the places that I’ve missed or were closed. I suspect I’ll come here more often now that my girlfriend’s hometown is Kuching.
Bong came to pick me up the next morning for a Pontianak breakfast special. I haven’t seen him for at least 10 years! I knew he was working in Kalimantan and it turned out that he was in Pontianak at this time too. One of my to-eat items was Bakmie Kepiting. This is a local specialty of dry tossed noodles with crab meat (!). We headed down to Oukie Bakmie Kepiting (Oukie Crab Bakmi). 🦀
1. Oukie Bakmie Kepiting (Sibu)
There are several bakmie kepiting (crab bakmi) stalls in
Pontianak, all bearing the same name – Oukie. Turns out Oukie was the original
guy who brought this dish here and all the current stalls are his descendants
(sons, daughters, nephews). Strangely, they all bear the name “Sibu” which my
We puzzled over this. Did the original Oukie come from Sibu? Do they claim that this bakmi is exactly like what Sibu offers? Coz it’s definitely not. We don’t have a similar dish in Sibu. Nothing close. The closest is probably Foochow noodles with crab, which is a relatively new invention.
Sometimes Bakmi Kepiting is served with a whole crab claw
but these items are in high demand and sell out very fast. They were all sold
out at this stall by the time we got there.
In addition to the crab meat, there’s fish balls, fish
slices and a piece of crispy deep-fried wonton. The noodles are tossed with a
variety of sauces and you’re served a hot bowl of soup on the side.
I really liked these crab noodles! I thought this will be a
perfunctory visit just to experience their local noodles but I loved the
combination of flavors in this bowl of noodles. It’s very good! There wasn’t a
lot of crab meat though – just a sprinkling, but crab is expensive and this is
I can’t remember how much it cost coz Bong insisted on
buying me breakfast. Cheers!
2. Kopi Asiang
Bong also brought me to this local Pontianak coffee shop. I went to Aming Coffee yesterday and he said this place was very good too. It’s exceedingly packed and we had to take a table under the hot sun but the coffee was indeed excellent!
I tried the regular ones without condensed milk this time. Rich,
fragrant and delicious – coffee here is a real treat! You can see the grease
slick at the top of my coffee shimmering in the sun. The coffee beans are
usually fried with butter or margarine, which is where the oil comes from.
He also ordered soft boiled eggs for us. This was served in
a glass, complete with spoon so it’s easy for you to consume.
3. Gado Gado Jln Merapi
Gado gado is another food item on my hit list. It’s
basically a cold noodle dish that’s more like a salad.
Rice vermicelli is topped with vegetables like bean sprouts
and kangkong are tossed with tofu and crackers and the whole thing is doused
with peanut sauce.
This is what it looks like when it’s served – the different crunchy and soft items make for an interesting dish with good mouth-feel. I enjoyed this one as well! It’s 24,000 IDR (RM 7) for this plate.
4. Es Krim Angi
This is probably the most famous ice cream parlour in
Pontianak. They’re known for serving home-made ice cream in a coconut shell
complete with coconut meat you can scrape up and eat together with the ice
This “parlour” is actually a converted residential house
that’s located beside a Catholic school. The place was *packed* despite being
the middle of the afternoon on a working weekday. Motorcycles are the preferred
mode of transport here so you’ll see heaps of them parked haphazardly in front.
The guys will tell you the flavors of the day and you choose
which one you want. I went for all three – pandan, durian and chocolate. The
chocolate and pandan was the best.
The ice cream is “sliced” out of the vats with a spoon so
you get thin segments instead of a round scoop. I like this format, it makes
for good eating! The flat surface fits perfectly on your tongue.
You can also choose the toppings you want – all complimentary.
I went for a little bit of everything but I liked the squiggly transparent
This coconut bowl of ice cream cost 23,000 IDR (RM 6.70). Excellent value! I like the combination of the slippery coconut flesh and homemade ice cream.
5. Bebek Boedjang
This spicy duck recommendation came from Bong. It didn’t even register on my radar and didn’t make it to my original list. I’m glad I tried it though coz it’s the best meal I’ve had, other than Pondok Kakap! This restaurant is in a huge wooden complex and I saw many Gojek and Grab Food drivers waiting in line to fulfil food deliveries.
To drink, we have an iced mango drink called Es Mangga Boedjang (15,000 IDR) with mango cubes at the bottom. This came recommended by the menu and the waitress but it was so sweet I didn’t care for it. I find most drinks in Pontianak overly sweet and cloying but if you like tons of sugar in your drink, you’ll enjoy this.
Bebek Paha Bakar Bumbu Rica (30,900 IDR) is the main event! This is smoked duck leg with spices. It’s served with rice, which is a 5,500 IDR add-on. The duck leg is still fork tender and has an intense smoky quality that I enjoy. The spices are a sweet-spicy blend that lends itself very well to nice. I wish I had space for 2 of these babies.
Cumi Tumis Cabe Ijo (16,960 IDR). Cumi means squid (sotong) in Indonesian. This is one of their flagship sides – squid cooked with green chillies. Wow! Does it pack a flavour punch! I was almost knocked out by the sheer intensity of seasoning on my palate. Welcome to Flavortown! There are tomatoes to add umami, onions for that pleasing aroma, tender squid and a gravy that’s sweet/salty/spicy. I used all of the gravy with rice, and when my rice was finished, I drank it by the spoonful.
Tumis Jamur Tiram (9,790 IDR) is another one of their signature side dishes – oyster mushrooms cooked in some kind of sauce which hits all the 5 flavor profiles at once. There’s some insane flavouring alchemy going on here. Delicious.
I left Bebek Boedjang a very happy man. The bill came up to 78,100 IDR (RM 23). That’s an exceedingly fair price for such a decent spread. An excellent meal that I wish was closer so I can partake of it once a month.
6. Mie Tiaw Apollo Daging Sapi
I have read stories about these two neighbours. Apollo was
the original beef kueh tiaw and is run by siblings. Unfortunately, they had a
huge falling out one day. One of the brothers moved out and rented a shoplot
right beside Apollo and called it Mie Tiau Polo. They even had snarky signs put
Apollo said “Mie Tiaw Apollo. Sejak 1968. Tak Pernah
Pindah.” (Apollo Mie Tiaw. Since 1968. Never Moved.). Polo put up one that read
“Mie Tiau Polo. Pindahan Dari Sebelah.” (Polo Mie Tiau. Moved From Beside.) I
thought that was hilarious! Unfortunately, the crabby signs have since been
taken down so you can only see them in Google Images.
They only serve one thing – beef mie tiaw (which is
something like kueh tiaw). They use all parts of the beef, including innards.
You can see tripe, beef slices, tendon and even stomach on offer. The mie tiaw
is fried in huge woks on high heat and the beef parts added.
I went to the original Mie Tiaw Apollo and the version they do is a wetter style. This isn’t as wet e.g. gravy filled as local Malay kueh tiaw but merely very moist. It’s also quite oily! The sodium levels are really high too. I found it almost unpalatably salty and had to struggle to finish it. I might enjoy it more if it were less greasy and salty coz the beef tasted pretty good and the flavors were decent. It’s 28,000 IDR or RM 8.50.
7. Roti Durian Orchard
What is this, you might ask? It’s a loaf of bread spread
with durian jam and sprinkled liberally with grated cheese. If that sounds
awesome to you, you’re at the right place! I didn’t know Pontianak is famous
for this and only chanced upon this beacon of light while walking back from
Apollo. I popped my head in and asked what they serve and immediately decided
The loaf of bread is actually made up of 5-6 long buns and
the clerk slices it in half and spread massive quantities of durian jam into
the soft pillowy bread.
The entire shebang is then topped with prodigious amounts of
grated cheese. It tastes heavenly!
This loaf was too much for me to finish so I had to eat it
over two sessions – for supper and as a snack the next day.
I really enjoyed the flavors here. It’s rich, sweet and savory at the same time! The bread remains ultra soft even the next day. 32,000 IDR (RM 9.50) for the durian cheese loaf.
8. Bubur Ikan Ahian
This was my last savory meal before leaving Pontianak. My
flight to KL was at noon so I woke up early to have fish porridge at Ahian.
This isn’t really porridge/congee per se but fish soup served with rice. You
can also opt to have the rice dunked into the soup, which they call “porridge”.
The front part of the restaurant is taken over by a fish
processing station. Different types of fish are brought here to be broken down
into slices and bones for cooking soup. They have a selection of different
types of fishes at differing price points.
I opted for a mixture of all the fishes for 55,000 IDR (RM 16). It’s a little steep for local standards but a steal in Malaysia. The fish slices were all very fresh!
I loved the flavourful soup too. I don’t normally like soup but I enjoyed the strong flavors and sesame oil here. The soup is very different from the bland soup we get locally. This is savory and packed with taste! It goes so well with rice.
You can mix the remainder of your rice into the soup for the porridge style too!
9. Che Hun Tiau Ahui
Che Hun Tiau is a local shaved ice dessert. The famous one
is called Ahua and located a stone’s throw away from Ahian fish porridge.
Unfortunately, it was still closed when I went, although it opened 30 minutes
later when I was leaving to return to my hotel). There are several other che
hun tiau carts in that area so I picked one at random.
Ice is shaved on top of various items like red bean, a
gelatinous mass of jelly, and my favorite – slippery strands of transparent
Here’s a closer look. I really enjoy the mouthfeel of the noodle things. This cost just 6,000 IDR (RM 1.75).
I had a fun 3D/2N trip to Pontianak. This was my first time
here but I’ll be back for more eating adventures in the Kalimantan region! I
like these remote semi-developed areas. I find them relaxing and unpretentious.
It’ll be nice to head to a more rural area next time.