Tuesday, September 30, 2008

River South (Hoe Nam) Prawn Noodle, Thai Thong Crescent

Quite apparent from the location of this stall (31 Tai Thong Crescent, tel : 6281 9293) along with the dexterity and speed of the man behind it whipping up a small frenzy - catering to a full house of crowd, this joint is a veteran amongst several that serves prawn and pork rib noodles and have been doing so for a long time. Hell, they work almost every day of the year and apparently only take a day off only once a month. I've been hearing some good things about them and decided to come down to try their noodles which are supposedly one of the best.

On hindsight, I would venture that the main draw of Hoe Nam would be the slightly peppery prawn and rib based soup which was good, but decidedly not something that registered as the most satisfactory experience for me. No discredit to the folks that have been running this place for ever here. It simply wasn't mind blowing in the department of flavor. Nor were the noodle definitive in any manner that made them truly outstanding since it was mostly flavored by the chilli and fried shallots. And have I mentioned that the abalone clams tastes like where it came from? Canned?

I could see how having pork intestines would be a very attractive option (for me) since these don't seem to the the regular choice of add on for noodles. The permutations of what one could desire on their noodles based on the available choices is quite staggering in fact. From my option of clam, rib and intestines, the last was enjoyable and the pork ribs were rather decent if no exceptional. In fact, they were meatier than Ah Hui's ribs, of which the latter store still felt to be a more satisfactory option for a prawn and rib noodle with all things considered. Even though I had deliberately not opted for prawns in a prawn noodle place this time.

What I thought was rather good were the plain old fried fish cakes that were sold on the side. These and the intestines could just be what that could make me consider a re-visit. If I could ever convince myself to face the mad crowd again.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pho Lan, Prinsep Street

Finally got to drop by at Pho Lan (44A Prinsep Street, Prinsep Place, tel : 6835 9441) after wondering about them for a while now. Legend claims, from the sayings of this place at least, that the word 'pho' could have been a French derivative of pot-au-feu which roughly translates into "simmering pot in a stove or fire."

To be honest, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I was thinking that it could have been better for their pho which to my disappointment, wasn't served with a broth that was hot enough resulting in a rather raw flavor for the bean sprouts. Still, those guys were rather obliging in heating the soup noodles up (in a pot, not microwave mind you) which then resulted in the thinly sliced beef being a little too cooked for my liking. There was also a noticeable flavor of cinnamon in the broth which I wasn't expecting. I've to say that this was quite a light tasty pho on the whole, and while at that, it certainly also didn't match Pho24 in terms of the beefy flavor nor portions of both the rice noodles and beef which I thought was rather skimpy.

There was a chao tom (shrimp paste on sugar cane) on the side which tasted quite shrimpy. It reminded me of something that I had at the Prima revolving restaurant back when I was a kid where they had some shrimp or crab based ball that had a stick of sugar cane stuck in them. This one here just didn't taste as sweet.

I should give the pho at Madam Saigon a try.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hai Nan Xing Zhou Beef Noodles, Toa Payoh

This Hainanese beef noodle store (Blk 22 Lor 7 Toa Payoh Lor 7, #01-06) which has its small share of media accolades pasted on the front unfortunately proved to be very unremarkable. Presumably, it's suppose to be one of the better beef noodle places, but I was hard pressed to distinct it from a generic one from food courts apart from the salted vegetables and a different chilli. Right down to that starchy gravy and mass produced beef balls. The tendons were very tender and the accompanying soup was a little sweetish, but I'll definitely not go out of my way for this stuff. The little bit of positive shine for today would be that, I've discovered that Benny that used to operate out of Maxwell has shifted to the coffeeshop just a block away (Blk 18?) from this hawker centre.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More ramen from Menya Shinchan

This sinjiro ramen from Menya Shinchan wasn't the towering bowl as I recalled from the last visit from a neighbour's seat, but I've got to say that it was still huge and filling the same. I'm not sure if this is a one off incident or that perhaps, after numerous feedbacks about the portions, those guys have finally decided to reduce the mountain of boiled cabbages. Speaking of which, I thought was quite enjoyable as they tasted crunchily fresh with that drizzle of soy sauce over the top. There was also a large amount of bean sprouts underneath the soup with all the ramen. I must admit that the accompanying chopped garlic on the side and the ground pepper did help to keep things going.

The spicy mazesoba was expectedly very similar to the non-spicy version that I had previously. Duh, I guess it was pretty obvious what the main difference was. The pile up in the bowl looked like it matched the size of the sinjiro so I guess this is pretty large a portion too. Somehow, in the midst of that spicy nutty gravy, I got reminded of ba chor mee and I guess this could be loosely construed as a Japanese equivalent of that. Using ramen. With a slice of cheese.

Ultimately, I think what draws me in Menya Shinchan is the option of "hard noodles" which makes them more al dente than usual of ramen and that there is a variety of combinations to the broth which seems to exceed that of most other ramen joints. And this is one of those uncommon occasions that I actually forgot to ask for the aji tama. Grrrr....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some takeout pizza from Donato

Did an unexpected take out from this rather unique looking pizza establishment (Pizza da Donato, 8 Sixth Avenue, tel : 6219 7562) down at the Bt Timah side of 6th Ave which I had just realised that some one had recommended quite a while ago. There's a actually a bunch of other stuff like lasagna, sausages, calzones and desserts available here apart from the shiny pizzas that are on display.

The crust on the pizzas of Donato wasn't of the really thin variety as Italian pizzas usually go by, but it definitely wasn't overwhelming and turned out to be not bad on the whole. Special mentions goes to that four cheese pizza which was generous with that pungent gorgonzola and probably had more than twice that blue cheese in each slice of than the whole of one back at Mama Lucia. There was some pizza sandwich like thing filled half with ham and cheese and the other half with wilted spinach. The latter stuffings was pretty good.

I can definitely consider this place again when I next have a pizza craving and there seems to be quite a variety of toppings which I could interest myself in.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jin Xing Hong Kong Roasted Meat

I wished I had discovered this place earlier. This roast meat stall (Jin Xing Hong Kong Cantonese Roasted Meat, Blk 214 Serangoon Ave 4, #01-88) was definitely an excellent find. What was unexpected was that this coffee shop is also precisely where the Botak Jones at Serangoon is located and for the first time, the Botaks did not seem to be holding the monopoly of the business. Jin Xing's stall a place where one can get tender roasted meats cut in hearty chunks and pretty generous portions. The availability of those honey glazed roasted ribs as well were a bonus for me.

The only thing that I thought could have been improved on was the rice which I thought was a little beady & dry and the chilli could use a little more heat - but honestly, I'm willing to overlook those over the rest. I'm definitely returning again at some point.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rochor Original Beancurd, Short Street

I've eaten these bean curd from this particular store (2 Short Street) quite a few times and have always thought them to be pretty good, but without the wow factor that many people seem to be crediting them for. This would be however, the first time that I'm getting the fried dough fritters with them and I've just realized why there was a need to have so much of that syrup in the bowls of bean curd which I had always thought was overly excessive because it was all too sweet. Yes, it's great for dipping those fritters, to soak up those greasy strips of fried flour which makes them good in a mix of savory sweet manner. This really makes me give a second take on having bean curds here and a feeling within tells me I'll return sometime soon for more.

Imperial Bak Kut Teh, Circular Road

Now, this bento styled serving from Imperial Bak Kut Teh (90 Circular Road) was certainly quite the unique thing, if not gimmicky in appearance. On the other hand, the bento boxes does serve to actually portion the sides that come with their meal sets. These guys apparently used to do delivery of their food and offer discounts for NTU students, but it seems that the delivery options are no longer available now. The rendition of the soup here contains a noticeable touch of herbal sweetness and a generous amount of pepper. There wasn't so much of the garlic flavor and in the end, it was quite acceptable, if not the preferred type that I like. The cost of one of these bento based sets was rather affordable and comes with what you see (salted vegetables, tau pok, tau kee and some cut up chewy dough fritters) and a bowl of the pork ribs with soup which is refillable.

I must say that the tender meat on the ribs were cooked well to the point where they slid of the bone quite easily though I would have preferred the size of them to be much bigger. The tau kee (dried bean curd sheets) was great in that dark sauce.

Unfortunately, they didn't seem to have the large boned prime rib that I like and were also out of those braised intestines which looked like they could have been pretty good as well.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Miscellaneous roundup in KL

This is just a random bun from the stopover on the coach to KL. It was just a mayo slathered thing with some spicy dried shrimps on top. The weird thing about those dried shrimps was that they tasted hollow. It was as if, those shrimps were just shells and I had a feeling like I was biting into something akin to cockroaches. It sure felt a little unnerving.

Dropping by at Zang Toi West 57th St. Cafe (LGF 032, Lower GF Bukit Bintang Plaza (BB Plaza), tel : (603) 21485563) in Sungei Wang, we saw their signature banana chocolate cake on display and decided to give it a go. The soft dark brown cake came in a pretty generous portion with pieces of banana in between the layers and then drizzled over with some chocolate sauce. Upon tasting, I realised that more of the chocolate flavor came from the sauce rather than the actual cake. It was heated up before serving and turned out pretty good with that scalding hot soft bananas. There was also a drink that was a float in a mixture of ginger tonic and blended green mango juice that was quite refreshing as well. Against the common grain of drinks that are usually served, this wasn't excessively sweet and actually did something for thirst. Something that I should bear in mind the next time I want get a drink down in that mall.

Here's a pecan topped cinnamon roll from Cinnabon down at Plaza Low Yat (B.G1, GF Low Yat Plaza, Bukit Bintang, tel : (603) 21483651) . Apparently, it's another one of those internationally franchised cinnamon roll places. These cinnamon roll joints back home seemed to have disappeared since the days of Saint Cinnamon (does anyone recall them?) which I thought was pretty good when you ate them fresh. These ones were pretty similar to those which came in a variety of toppings. Though it was quite strange that the cheese version came with powdered Parmesan cheese. It still tasted slightly lukewarm and not too stiff so this one came from a batch that was probably done in the morning. The pecans were still crunchy as well.

And this would be a strawberry lamington from Starbucks down at the front of Berjaya Times Square while I was actually trying to get my double grande mocha. What piqued my curiosity was the big shreds of coconut that coated the cake instead of the usual thin dessicated bits. Well, it was just a regular cake as I had expected with some weak strawberry jam in the middle, but the coconut was really what mattered to me and redeemed the lamington by itself.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Old Town White Coffee

I dropped by for a cuppa down at Plaza Low Yat (Lot LG-31, LG-32, Lower Ground, Plaza Low Yat, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, tel : 03-2143 1722) and realised that this white coffee wasn't too impressive at all. I had asked for the "kao" option which was thicker than the usual brew and while it did taste thicker than the regular coffee, it wasn't really fragrant at all. In fact, the thick option from Yat Kun was probably better than this one. I guess this branding is another one of those chain store gimmicks that is trying to build something out of nothing much.

A couple on the fast track of chow in KL

I'm not truly big on fast food (not those I've had anyway), and in fact, I avoid them quite often unless I get a craving or when alternative options are worse. But I guess there are some times, when I do go out and look for certain things, especially when I'm out of the country. If you're still guessing, here's a 2 piece original chicken from KFC and a Coney Dog from A&W. I'm sure you might be able to surmise that since there isn't A&W back home anymore, and that the Coney Dog had been some kind of old favourite when I was younger, nostalgia demands the duty of a serving.

The original chicken here do not taste as oil soaked and are in fact, larger pieces than the shrivelled and overfried looking ones back home. The skin seems to be crispier and we had a takeaway which stood up pretty well after a few hours when I ate them on the coach back home. The slogan from old man Sanders had always been 11 secret herbs and spices in their birds. The 12th "secret" it seems, is that KFC in Malaysia uses fresh chicken. Not frozen nor chilled, and hence the difference in taste of the meat. I found them to be pretty enjoyable and got carried away into one of those moments when I decided to get my fingers "lickin good" dirty.

I recall the declining years of A&W back home. The dogs were sloppy. There wasn't an effort to heat up the buns, and the gravy over the top was almost watery and there were barely any onions. They were honestly, quite pathetic. Now my memory gets a new lease for recollection by this one which had all the things that wasn't there in the last of the Coney Dog days. Surprisingly firm and meaty was the mass produced sausage with a decent sauce and onions wedged in a heated hot dog bun. The floats was also something for the sake of memories since it really isn't anything about them apart from a foolish attempt on my part to resurrect some fragments of childhood. Hell, I don't even like floats these days.

Restoran Sai Woo, Jln Alor, Kuala Lumpur

Here's some of the stuff we had for dinner at Restoran Sai Woo down somewhere in the middle of Jln Alor. I've eaten here a couple of times in some of my previous trips down into KL when I stayed in one of the small hotels along Bt Bintang. This particular place is quite popular for their barbequed seafood amidst the stretch of roadside hawkers and has always been crowded as far as I've encountered.

One of the draws for me here is the oyster omelete which is done in a style that is quite different from how it is back home. The omelete and flour is basically spread thin over the pan fry and turns up like some sort of crispy crepe with egg, topped with chopped garlic. The oysters, which do not have any overwhelming taste (quite fresh from every single time I ordered them) and then placed separately on top. I chanced upon them some years back and have eaten them a few times. But I actually don't know if it's just this stall or if all the other ones in Malaysia or at least KL do in a similar manner.

In my previous trips, I've tried their stir fried beef kailan, seafood porridge and frog porridge. This time round, it was just this grilled stingray and some satay from a stall nearby. The satay was quite ordinary. I didn't feel that the peanut gravy was viscous enough though. Again, it's a comparison from what I've had in various bbq seafood outlets back home for the grilled stingray where the chilli is spread across the ray and grilled where this one, just grills the fish plain (with salt) and provides the chilli on the side. The difference in serving style gives you the option to eat it unspiced which was actually pretty good on its own where you could actually taste the meat unsullied by too much condiments. Not to mention that the seafood here is quite fresh as well. There was also a takeaway squid which we were given the impression that it would be grilled, but found out that it was merely stir fried.

Prices here seems to have gone up. I remember them being much cheaper.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nando's, Sungei Wang, Kuala Lumpur

I've definitely been looking forward to re-visiting Nando's and this trip certainly was planned from the onset that we would have their chickens at least once. So here we were down at the outlet at Sungei Wang (Sg. Wang Lot C 026, Sungei Wang Plaza, Jln Sultan Ismail, 50250 K.L., tel : 03- 2148 5555) where all the held back anticipation was set loose on the fiery Peri Peri butterflied chicken plates.

Looking back, I should have gone for the lip numbing extra hot option, but it wasn't lost altogether since the peri peri sauces were always available for anyone who needed the extra sourish spicy kick. I thought that the chicken could do with a little bit more char grill to get that aroma out on the meat though. Chicken was followed by the chicken liver with that roll which came out crispy warm on the outside, soft on the inside. Needless to say, it made a good dipping platform for all the extra hot spicy gravy which the grilled livers were slathered in.

Rotis down at Jalan Galloway

I don't have the actual address of this 24 hour place behind some police headquarters even after doing a bit of searching on the internet, but if you know of this area, it's definitely worth the effort to take a walk down to the end of Jalan Galloway (Kuala Lumpur City 50150), a lane located just beside Swiss Garden Hotel. This is a singular road side stall that serves pretty good and freshly prepared roti canai (known as roti prata as well), ayam goreng and teh tarik amongst other things. I think I did see a little painted sign in the stall which says Cafe Safari. Ignore the tacky name.

roti plaster

What was enjoyable about the non-excessively greasy roti canai (the counterparts of roti plaster and roti pisang as well) is that it wasn't as heavy down in the stomach as those back home. The roti pisang featured cooked sliced bananas within which was piping hot and ready to disintegrate in your mouth. This was also my first time having a banana based prata with chicken curry and dahl and I must say that it was pretty good. After having a a couple of these washed down with the very decent teh tarik, I felt that I was ready for more. For 4 of those rotis and a two teas, it was just RM$7. And a good tea (RM$1) that they brewed and pulled where the art of it seems to have eluded many an Indian store back at home featuring watered down concoctions. We liked it enough that we came back for more in the following morning to do a takeaway of a generous portion of breakfast which included apart from the mentioned rotis, thosai and fried chicken. Of course, washed down with that teh tarik.

roti pisang

Ramadan buffet dinner at Tarbush

The original intention was to have dinner at this Lebanese place, Tarbush (No. LG 16, Starhill Gallery, Jln Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, tel : (603) 2144 6393) and ordering from the regular menu. But as it was at this time in the fasting period for the Muslims, the only option that was available for dinner was buffet styled.

The spread in the buffet included the usual array of dips with flatbread, tabouleh , rice & pasta, meat pastries and various meats. The food was not surprisingly, quite good despite the fact that the non meat items were quite heavy on the lemon. The braised lamb shoulders were tender and the tandoori chicken was a tad burnt. The funny thing initially about the dips was that the hummus was so creamy and tasted so much of sesame that it was almost a tahini. Later on, I realised that it was indeed a mix and that it was something that they had on menu. The baba ghanoush had texture like the hummus. And a stewed cauliflower dish contained mostly ground mutton. Meat options pretty much ruled the table. And from the dessert section, there was a really good rose scented creamy milk pudding (mahalabia?) which I couldn't get enough of despite being quite stuffed.

The variety of the spread wasn't very extensive, but they were mostly quite good. It seems that there's a practice of quality over quantity here. The only reason that makes it difficult for a return is that there's quite a variety of middle eastern places to be found in the KL city and one could be spoilt for choice.