Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Restoran Yap Chong

I believe this is a Hakka restaurant (thanks to comment). The pronunciation of the name of the shop tells me so (i initially thought it was teo chew, forgot that hakka's pronunciation is more accurate). You know how every clan pronounces the same chinese words differently. That is how we can know if a chinese is from which clan by reading their chinese surname spelled in English. Like Tan could be a hokkien, which is also what a cantonese will call Chan. But this distinction is diminishing, as all the clans have mix and match the pronunciation.
Back to the food. This place is very well known for family dinner. One word of advise, if you can't wait, don't go there on weekends. They actually serves a space of 3 shoplots. We waited for almost an hour for a simple family dinner.

Chinese-English Translation
Yap - Leaf
Chong - Invite

Location: Opposite PGRM, Maluri, Kuala Lumpur (not the Kepong Maluri)
Rating: Food ok and quite cheap

We ordered steam fish with ginger. If you want to know if your fish is fresh or not, steam 'em. If they are not fresh, once you steam them, all the fishy smell will knock you off your knees. But as you all know, commercially cultivated fishes tend to acquire smell of mud. Therefore, we had the fish steamed with ginger to overthrow the muddy smell. The fishes here are always steamed well (not overcooked or uncooked) and the mélange is tastefully done. Then we have the ever popular sweet sour pork (gu lou yok). Not anything special. Just a very normal dish. At least the meat is not too soft or hard.
Ah.. and this is something reallllly interesting. They call it Amy Yip beancurd (Yip Chi Mei Taufu). If you do not know who Amy Yip is, she was a well known sex symbol in Hong Kong films during the 90's with her disproportionately "upper front torso". Malaysian seemed to love her with many food named after her ie Yip Chi Mei Dai Bau. Anyway, the beancurd was quite good when eaten in combination with the condiments like deep fried small prawns (har mai in cantonese) and garlic. The beancurd itself is nothing special. Not specially soft, or smooth, or fragrant. But definitely looks big.

And as usual, the best thing to wash down all the heavy food is a good cup of tea. At normal restaurant like this, it is hard to order a good quality type of chinese tea. Nevertheless, it has improved significantly. We ordered Char Wong (King of Tea in cantonese). The taste stays longer and more fragrant. It is slightly more expensive, but well worth it. Nothing about the teapot below. Just that I like the shape of the teapot. Very cute!

B'worth Siew Mai

My dad used to frequent Butterworth very often during my childhood days due to his business. We loved to follow him during the holidays as it means makan (eating) and play times. And for the past years, I'll never miss going to this place for Siew Mai (pork dumpling) whenever I do stop by Butterworth. And I can assure you this is the real deal. Not simply some food that you get accustomed to since young.

Location : Butterworth, Penang
Rating : Very good!

You know how most of these dim sum shops in KL sells Siew Mai with pork as its main ingredients. Most of the time, they do not taste fresh. And the seasoning used did not bring out the fragrance of the meat. Where as in Ipoh, most of the Siew Mai were made of prawns. Not a true Siew Mai. Now this stall only sells limited choice of dim sum. But you must must must order the Siew Mai. It does not look great, but taste superb. I have never tasted such good Siew Mai anywhere else. The meat is well seasoned but not too strong that kills the fragrant of the meat. I mixture of chilli and sweet sauce makes it even better. It used to be sold by an old lady, but now it is a young man that took over. But it still taste good for the past 20 over years.
Oops, I was in a rush that day, but I still had to have it. Hence ended up tapau (cantonese for take away). As I have said, seeing it is not believing it, but tasting it is.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Choi Kee's Seafood Noodles

When I say seafood noodles, many of you would have thought of Segambut. Sorry-lah but I am never the devotee of communal belief. I find Segambut's seafood noodles too expensive and the quality is not something to boast about. This shop could fight them hands down. In fact along the road you'll find many shops selling similar menus but I find this shop is the best so far. The only confusion is that the shop's name is Shui Kee Restaurant, but the noodles are sold by the stall named Choy Kee.
Cantonese-English Translation
Shui - Water
Choy - Wealth/Fortune
Kee - Record/Remember

Rating : Good
Location : Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur

I was not feeling well and need some sweat inducer, hence I ordered tom yum (Thai for hot soup). If I miss tom yum noodles, this is a good place to quench my thirst. Some tom yum taste more like assam (tamarind) soup, but this is better. You can't equate this with the real Thai tom yum, but it is suffice. And the best way to enjoy this is with coarse rice noodles (chou mai fun in cantonese). Just like pasta, there are spaghetti and angel's hair, we have chou mai fun and yau mai fun (fine rice noodles). Back to the tom yum, scoop after scoop of noodles and tom yum, I am cured.
Ben ordered fish paste noodles with milk. He chooses yau mai fun for this. The normal version is the fish head noodles with milk, but for lazy bums like us, fish paste is preferred as we do not have to pick the bones. No fishy smell. The combination of salted vegetables, tomato, tofu (beancurd) and milk is properly balanced. But if you like more kick, just throw in some cili padi (small chillies). Fuh!
Big eaters like us always ordered extras. We had fishball and porkball in clear soup. I have never tried the clear soup version of seafood noodles (can never resist the tom yum and curries), but I was told they are just as good. Just look at the steam.
Among other things that I find good is the curry noodles and the dry curry noodles. Basically all that I have mantioned are in the menus.

Just in case you can't seem to find the restaurant, I hope this will help.
I don't know why but everytime I decided to go Shui Kee, the rain starts. I guess they can say they are not called Shui Kee for nothing. It never fails me. Sorry guys, that's the best photo I could manage.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Ngau Lam Fun" at Chulia Street

Ngau stands for beef, lam stands for brisket and fun stands for noodles. So what we are having this round is beef brisket noodles. Beef noodles have many type of variations from Teo Chew and Hakka's beef ball noodles, hokkien's tan tan mien (dry noodles topped with minced beef sauce), Vietnam's beef pho (pho means (flat rice noodles in Vietnamese language), Thailand's boat noodle soup, etc. But basically, beef soup noodles either comes in clear soup, stewed broth or strong herb. Unfortunately I don't know the name of the shop. All I know is that it is an old haunt for tea time and the shop is located at the corner where Lebuh Carnarvon and Chulia Street meet.

Rating : Above average
Location : Chulia Street, Penang

This shop's variation is of the stewed beef broth type with the chinese thin egg noodles (similar to those use for wan ton mee). I ordered a ngau lam fun soup. I wasn't disappointed when I was served. It looks good.The chilli sauce is a mixture of ginger and vinegar, which quite suit the taste of beef. The noodles were quite tangy. The meat is soft and succulent. Most importantly the soup did not over power the taste of beef yet the beef does not have a strong beefy smell (quite similar to lamb, except smell of lamb is even stronger). Some people may like that scent, but I like them when they are well treated or blended with herbs. I really quite like the soup/broth. Not too thick or thin or oily. No strong beefy smell again, just a tang of it and well flavoured.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ipoh Taugeh Chicken

I am sure when I blog about this, people would have proudly claim that they have tried the famous Low Wong Nga Choi Gai. Sorry dude, Low Wong is my last choice if I really must have it. Not to say that they are not good. But I believe there are better ones. Most of my friends prefer the shop that is diagonally opposite that of Low Wong. If I am not mistaken it is called Ong Kee. You see, chicken meat has a certain tang of fishy smell that needs to be treated. I think Low Wong's chicken and soup had failed to tackle that. There was another at Cowan Street, but since the owner has passed away and his kids are all professionals now. We have lost a good place there.
But what makes ipoh bean sprouts (nga choi in cantonese and taugeh in malay) so popular? Well they are basically shorter, fatter and juicier. I don't really know what is the reason behind. One sources told me it is due to the water that is being used to plant Ipoh bean sprouts are from the hills (as you know Ipoh is surrounded by marble hills).
As for the chicken. it is simply the method it was cooked that made the meat soft and succulent. If you are interested, I can teach you how. (1) Get a fat chicken, at least 2 kg. Don't cut, just get the seller to clean the innards for you. (2) Wash the chicken, blanch in hot water for 1 minute and hang it to dry, so that the skin will be crisp and tender. (3) Boil a pot of water and ensure that the water is enough to cover the entire chicken. Throw in some salt, ginger and herbs to loose the fishy smell. (4) Once the water is boiling, put the chicken in, close the cover and off the gas. Let the chicken soak in the hot water for at least half an hour and do not open the cover. Use a chopstick to poke into the breast to check if the chicken is cooked. You can easily poke through if the chicken is cooked. Once cooked, drain the chicken. Throw in a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, srping onion, coriander and ready to serve.
The beauty of hor fun (flat rice noodles) in Ipoh is their smoothness and fineness. Those you find in KL are rough to the lips. Not suitable for slurping.
Best way to eat them all are to mix in a bit of the chillies, the chicken soy sauce and bean sprouts. Mix well and slurp them in to your heart's content. Hmmm...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Fusion of Chinese Western food - Kedai Makanan Yut Kee

The effects of colonisation is very evident in Malaysia, although we are about to celebrate our 50th independence soon on 31 August 2007. When you come to this shop, you will hear a lot of the families that visited the shop be it Chinese or Indian, speak in English most of the time. Even the shop owners speak mostly in English. Even the food that this shop offers has a hint of English influence. This shop offers customary hainanese coffee and toast. There are other asian food like soup noodles, beef noodles, curry chicken rice, fried noodles, etc. It also has chicken chop, french toast, as well as roti babi (pork bun). But the sheer variety of menu and efficiency of the staff are worth the while of us going there frequently.

Malay-English Translation
Kedai - Shop
Makanan - Food

Rating - Some very good, some so-so
Location - Dang Wangi, Kuala Lumpur

The usual goodstuff are toasts and eggs. The toasts are roasted using charcoal, providing a hint of flavour. The coconut jam (kaya in Malay) is thick and creamy. I believe they gave kampung (village) eggs. The eggs' shell colour is whitish and the yolks are more orangey.
The more popular choice among families are chicken chop. The batter that they use are fuller in taste. I believe they mix eggs into the batter. And what I like most is that they understand not everyone likes the dry and salty french fries. And the onion with worchester sauce further captivate our taste buds. No chilli sauce needed.
Coffee is supposed to be very good, but I have to say theirs are only so-so. Not extremely fragrant or smooth, but very thick.
You can also order take-aways like swiss roll and butter cakes. They are very rich and fragrant. Or you can simply order 1 there. They are kept in an antique display cupboard. Really cute stuff.
More than 70 years of history. The shop itself is an attraction.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ikan Bakar at Jalan Bellamy

Grilled fish with air asam (tamarind sauce) and sambal belacan (chilli prawn paste) is an original malay food. The fish is marinated with turmeric and other spices. It is best to eat ikan bakar with ulam (herb/salad kind of leaves). There are ulam that taste like mango - ulam raja and daun selom.

Malay-English Translation
Ikan - Fish
Bakar - Grill

Rating : Average
Location : Jalan Bellamy, Kuala Lumpur

This place is quite well known among the urbanites. There are 3 stalls behind the Royal Palace that sells ikan bakar (grilled fish). The one I went and featured here is the corner most stall that also operates at night.
The fish is a bit dry. The sambal belacan is mildly spicy. In actual fact, the ikan bakar here is really just average. You can also order additional dishes to compliment your meal, as shown below. But if you are longing for some ikan bakar, this place might just do to ease your desire. The dishes are reasonably priced.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Taiping town night market

Like any Malaysian, midnight does not inhibit my culinary cravings or fulfilment. My recent visit to Taiping for our yearly Cheng Beng (a Chinese tradition to visit the ancestors' grave and pay respect) brought me back to our favourite haunt. What's good here?

Location: Taiping, Perak
Rating: Gooooooooood!

The nasi lemak (literally fat rice, but actually it is coconut milk rice) here is superb. They are still wrapped in banana leaves. The leaves simply increases the fragrance to the rice.

Choices like sambal udang (prawns in chilli gravy) and kacang panjang udang/ikan (prawns/fish with long beans) are hard to find nowadays.

Steamed butter and kaya (coconut jam) bread is so soft and creamy. I am not a bread fan, but this is yummy.

Chee Cheong Fun (literally Pig Intestine Noodles, but in actual fact just a type of rice noodles) from Taiping/Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Penang all offers different flavours. Those from Taiping or Ipoh are gushed with a choice of soy sauce with chilli/sweet sauce, curry or mushroom sauce.

All in all, it might just be some food that I grew up with. But if you have tried it, I am sure you will miss it.