Tuesday, September 30, 2008

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

It was apparent from the dexterity and speed of the man behind the stall catering to a full house that this noodle shop (31 Tai Thong Crescent, tel : 6281 9293) is a veteran. From what I heard, they've been serveing prawn and pork rib noodles for a long time. They're open almost every day of the year and only take a day off 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.

In retrospect, I would suppose that the main draw of Hoe Nam would be the slightly peppery prawn and rib based soup. Which was good but nothing decidedly outstanding. At least for me. No discredit to the folks that have been running this place forever here. It wasn't mind blowing in the department of flavour nor were the noodle outstanding. Those noodles were mostly flavoured by the chilli and fried shallots. Did I mentioned that their abalone clams tasteed like where it came from? Cans.

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 brave the mad crowd again.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pho Lan, Prinsep Street

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

We weren't sure what to expect but still ended up a little disappointed because the broth from their pho wasn't hot enough. That resulted in rather raw bean sprouts. They obliged in our request to heat up that broth (in a pot, not microwave mind you) which overcooked those thin slices of beef in the process. I also detected quite a bit of cinnamon in their broth. While I thought the pho was pretty ok, I preferred the one from Pho24. The portions here were also a little small.

There was a chao tom (shrimp paste on sugar cane) on the side which tasted quite shrimpy. It reminded me of something that I used to have as a kid at the Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant. They had some shrimp or crab fritter thingy that had a stick of sugar cane stuck in them. The sugarcane in this 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) apparently has its share of media accolades displayed on the front. Sadly I found it to be very unremarkable. Presumably, it's suppose to be one of the better beef noodle stalls but I was hard pressed to differentiate it from a generic one from food courts apart from the salted vegetables and their blend of chilli. Right down to that starchy gravy and mass produced beef balls. The tendons were very tender and the accompanying soup was a little sweet, but nothing to go out of my way for. On the bright side, 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, it was still huge and filling the same. I'm not sure if this is a one off 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 those cabbages were enjoyable because they were crunchy, fresh tasting and had that drizzle of shoyu over the top. There was also a large amount of bean sprouts underneath the soup with the noodles. 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. 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 was a pretty large a portion too. For some reasons 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 drew me to Menya Shinchan was their option of "hard noodles" which gave them a more satisfying bite than the other ramen shop's noodles. That and the larger variety of broth. I forgot to ask for the aji tama today. Grrrr....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some takeout pizza from Donato

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

Crust on the pizzas of Donato wasn't of the thin variety but it definitely wasn't overwhelming and turned out to be not bad. Special mention goes to that quattro formaggi pizza which was generous with that pungent Gorgonzola and that had probably more than twice the blue cheese in each slice of than the whole of one pizza at Mama Lucia. The Hawaiian did look a little cheap though. There was also some pizza sandwich thing filled half with ham and cheese and the other half with spinach. The spinach stuffing was pretty tasty.

Will definitely consider this place again when I next have a pizza craving.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jin Xing Hong Kong Roasted Meat

Jin Xing Hong Kong Roasted Meat, Serangoon

Jin Xing Hong Kong Roasted Meat, Serangoon

Jin Xing Hong Kong Roasted Meat, Serangoon

Jin Xing Hong Kong Roasted Meat, SerangoonI 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 an excellent find. What I hadn't expected was that this coffee shop was also where the Botak Jones at Serangoon is located and for the first time, the Botaks did not seem to be having the monopoly on the business. Anyway, this was a stall where one could get roasted/barbequed meats, cut in hearty chunks and what I thought to be pretty generous portions. There were those honey glazed roasted ribs as well which was 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. Perhaps the chilli could use a little more heat. Still, I'm willing to overlook those just for their roasts. I'm definitely returning.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rochor Original Beancurd, Short Street

Rochor Original Beancurd, you tiao
Rochor Original Beancurd, Short StreetI've eaten bean curd from this particular shop (2 Short Street) quite a few times and have always thought them to be pretty good. Just 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. I've just realized now why they had to have so much of that syrup in the bowls of bean curd. I had always the syrup was excessive because it was too sweet. It was probably intended and great for dipping those fritters. To soak up those greasy strips of fried flour which made them savoury sweet. This made me rethink having bean curd here and I've a feeling that I'll return soon.

Rochor Original Beancurd, tau huay

Imperial Bak Kut Teh, Circular Road

I thought this bento styled serving from Imperial Bak Kut Teh (90 Circular Road) was quite unique if not gimmicky. On the other hand, the bento boxes did serve to portion the sides that came with their meal sets. These guys apparently used to do delivery of their food and offered discounts for NTU students but it seems that those delivery options are no longer available. The rendition of the soup here had some herbal sweetness and a generous amount of pepper. There wasn't so much of the garlic flavour and in the end, it was just passable for me. The price of these bento were pretty affordable and came with what's in the picture (salted vegetables, tau pok, tau kee and some cut up chewy dough fritters) and a bowl of the pork ribs with soup which was refillable.

The meat on the rib was tender that they slid of the bone quite easily. I would have preferred for them to be bigger. though. The tau kee (dried bean curd sheets) was tasty in that dark sauce.

Sadly they didn't have the large boned prime rib which I like and were also out of those braised intestines.

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 mayo slathered with some spicy dried shrimps on top. The weird thing about those dried shrimps was that they felt hollow. It was as if, those shrimps were just shells and I had a morbid thought that 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 large portion with banana in between the layers. There was also a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

After a couple of bites, I realised that most of the chocolate flavour came from the sauce rather than the cake. It was heated up before serving and was pretty good. The bananas were tender and piping hot.

There was also a drink that was a float of ginger tonic and blended green mango juice that was quite refreshing. I was impressed that it wasn't excessively sweet and actually did something for thirst.

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). It was another one of those international franchised cinnamon roll places. These cinnamon roll shops back home seemed to have disappeared since the days of Saint Cinnamon (does anyone recall them?) which I thought was pretty good when they were fresh. These were pretty similar to those and came in a variety of toppings. Thought it was quite strange that the cheese version came with powdered Parmesan cheese. It was still lukewarm and not too stiff. The pecans were still crunchy as well.

And this would be a strawberry lamington from Starbucks down at the front of Berjaya Times Square. What piqued my curiosity were the big shreds of coconut that coated the cake instead of the usual thin bits. It was just a regular cake as I had expected with some weak strawberry jam in the middle. The coconut was what mattered and redeemed the lamington.

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 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 fragrant at all. In fact, the thick option from Yat Kun were probably better. I guess this branding was another chain store gimmick trying to brew something out of nothing much.

A couple on the fast track of chow in KL

I'm not big on fast food (not those I've had anyway) and I avoid them 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 some. Especially when I'm out of the country. Here's a 2 piece original chicken from KFC and a Coney Dog from A&W. There isn't A&W back home anymore and the Coney Dog had been some kind of old favourite when I was younger. Nostalgia demanded the duty of a serving.

The original chicken here did not taste as oil soaked and were larger pieces than the shriveled and over-fried looking ones back home. The skin was also crispier. 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 seemed, was that KFC in Malaysia uses fresh chicken. Not frozen and hence the difference in taste of the meat. I found them pretty enjoyable.

I recalled the declining years of A&W back home. The dogs were sloppy. There wasn't any effort to heat up the buns, the chili was watery and there were barely any onions. In short, pretty sad. Things were different here. Surprisingly firm and meaty was the mass produced sausage with a decent chili and onions wedged in a heated hot dog bun. The floats were there because of nostalgia. An attempt on my part to resurrect some fragments of childhood. 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 along Bt Bintang. This particular place seemed 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 appeal for me was the oyster omelete which is done in a style that is quite different from how it is back home. The omelete and flour are basically spread thin over the pan to fry and ends up like some sort of crispy crepe with egg, topped with chopped garlic. The oysters which do not have any unpleasant taste (quite fresh from every single time I ordered them) are then placed separately on top. I chanced upon them some years back and have had them on a few occasions. I actually don't know if it's just this stall or if all the others in Malaysia or at least KL make theirs 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. Again, it's a comparison from what I've had in various bbq seafood outlets back home. The grilled stingray back home has the sambal spread across and then grilled but the one here simply grills them plain (with salt) and provided the sambal on the side. The difference in serving style gives one the option to eat it un-spiced which was actually pretty good. You could taste the quality of the meat unadulterated by strong tasting 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 been looking forward to re-visiting Nando's and this trip 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 a lost cause 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 address of this 24 hour stall. It was located behind some police headquarters. But it was definitely worth the effort to trek down to the end of Jalan Galloway (Kuala Lumpur City 50150), a little street just beside Swiss Garden Hotel. These guys served freshly made roti canai (known as roti prata back home), ayam goreng and teh tarik amongst other things. I thought I saw a little painted sign on the stall which said Cafe Safari. Ignore the tacky name.

roti plaster

What was enjoyable about the roti canai (the counterparts of roti plaster and roti pisang as well) ws that it wasn't as heavy. The roti pisang featured cooked sliced bananas which was piping hot and readily melting in the mouth. It was also my first time having a banana prata with chicken curry and dahl. Unexpectedly good. After a couple of these washed down with teh tarik, I felt like I was ready for more. 4 of those rotis and a two cups teas amounted to a princely sum of RM$7. Was good tea (RM$1) that they brewed. Artfully pulled, so to speak. We liked it enough that we came back for more in the following morning for a takeaway of breakfast which included the mentioned rotis, thosai and fried chicken. Of course, washed down with more of those teh tarik.

roti pisang

Ramadan buffet dinner at Tarbush

The 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 going a la carte. But as it was at the fasting period for the Muslims, the only option that was available for dinner was buffet styled.

The spread in the buffet included an array of dips with flatbread, tabouleh , rice & pasta, meat pastries and various meats. The food was quite good despite the fact that the non meat items were quite heavily lemon-ed. The braised lamb shoulders were tender and the tandoori chicken a tad burnt. The odd thing 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 found out that it was indeed a mixture. The baba ghanoush had texture like the hummus. And a stewed cauliflower dish contained mostly ground mutton. Meat options pretty much ruled the table. 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 seemed that there's quality over quantity here. The only reason we might not be back was that there's quite a variety of middle eastern places to be found in KL city. One would be spoilt for choice.