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Foodie date with ‘Martha Stewart’

24 May

NSFW Lunch at Naked Duck

At the beginning of the week, ‘Martha Stewart’ and I went for a walk at lunch and found the Naked Duck at Darling Quarter. She was so enticed by the roasts on display that she returned the next day and had twice pull pork, 12 hour braised lamb and chicken pasta which she raved about later on.

So we came for lunch on Friday with Prince George, another colleague. I was curious about what to order, so I Googled Naked Duck and went to images O.O Lucky no one sits behind me or was looking over my shoulder when the pictures loaded because none of them were related to this eatery and none of them were safe for work.

We arrived at the busiest time, most hectic time, most of the salads had sold out already, and it took a while for ‘Martha Stewart’ and Prince George  to get served due to a lack of queuing system.

Duck panini with roast vege salad 12 hour braised lamb with rosemary fries

Despite the Google Image fail, I ordered the duck panini with the roast vege salad, which was like a cross between a Vietnamese pork roll and Peking duck pancakes, and was complimented by a Chinese five spice mayo. Only thing not great was the bread was very crusty, so I had to take small bites and chew carefully. Before I had even finished my roll, Prince George had already polished off his fries. The sweet potatoes in my salad was so sweet and delicious but unfortunately I was too full to finish it all.
‘Martha Stewart’ got the 12 hour braised lamb roll with rosemary fries, while Prince George had the twice pulled pork roll with roasted potatoes and rosemary fries.

The Naked Duck on Urbanspoon

 

Drunken Rice

Although the Naked Duck panini/roll were very filling, ‘Martha Stewart’ and I pushed ahead with another foodie adventure at dinner. Originally we were going to try African food, but we couldn’t find a good African restaurant in time, so we ended up bringing forward our Korean foodie adventure.

Drunken Rice was a bit hard to find as the English signage was non-existent on the street level. It was only inside that I saw the name Drunken Rice.

Kimchi pancake

‘Martha Stewart’s’ favourite was the Kimchi pancake, which I thought had good flavour and was fried well.

Icy noodles with chicken

For something different, I also ordered the icy chicken noodles. I loved the chewiness of the noodles,the chicken broth tasted wholesome and delicious and there were many pieces of tender chicken.

The food was very good, as the number of customers that night would attest. I saw a few tables ordered this big bone of meat, and I’d definitely order that next time I come. But we both felt the service was ineffectual, and much of that had to do with the waiter not speaking good enough English. It started with him telling me they don’t have tea and pointed to the alcohol list like that was the only beverage they had. Later we saw another table had a pot of tea. Then it took forever for him to get us bowls so we could share; I ended up having to get up and getting bowls myself. And finally, the bill never came! I’d love to dine and dash, but I asked another waitress who brought our bill in 20 seconds.

Drunken Rice on Urbanspoon

Penang

23 May

I think I better write this much delayed post and unblock this bottle neck.

Although I wrote about Melaka first, Penang was actually our first stop in Malaysia. I was really looking forward to Penang given this is the culinary site that Malaysians and Singaporeans flock to for foodie holidays. It’s a good thing we arranged it as our first stop too, because my appetite waned down the track. It also helped that the centre of Penang covered a relatively small area, and we could easily walk from the jetties on one end of Georgetown to the other. All that walking helped us digest and burn of excess calories since we were having 4-5 meals per day.

Char Kway Teow

Finally trying Char Kway Teow

Finally trying Char Kway Teow! It was like a dream come true!

Char Kway Teow! What can I say? This was at the top of my list of foods to try. I don’t know what the attraction was: at best it can be described as glorified stir fried noodles. But alas! the heart wants what want it wants and mine wanted CKT. Of course I have had a plate at Sayoung in the food court under the CBD Woolworths, which my Malaysian colleague had assured was one of the best in Sydney. But nothing can compare with the original in Penang, and my online research suggested the Penang CKT was something to anticipate.

Mouths salivating and heart beating expectantly, we walked to Lorong Selamat, the home of the Red Hat Aunty. I have read many reviews of how popular her CKTs are and that some people are forced to wait an hour at peak time. Luckily when we arrived it was mid-afternoon (I refer to my earlier comment about eating 5 times a day), so we didn’t have to wait for a table, although we did wait a while for  our order to arrive, but much of that was attributable to a small tour group which arrived before we did.

The Red Hat Aunty cooking our CKT! Maybe she wasn't particularly busy when we arrived, because she didn't wear her goggles. She looks a bit grumpy as she continuously stir-fried plate after plate of CKT. She just looked like she was glaring at everyone and everything she sees! The Mongolian reckons she must have guns of steel with the hours of non-stop wok tossing she does.

The Red Hat Aunty cooking our CKT! Maybe she wasn’t particularly busy when we arrived, because she didn’t wear her goggles. She looks a bit grumpy, like she was glaring at everyone and everything she sees! The Mongolian reckons she must have guns of steel with the hours of non-stop wok tossing she does.”

Although portion sizes in Malaysia quite small compared to Australia, it comes jam packed with goodies! In our plate we got 4 large prawns, plus lots of clams, Chinese sausages and eggs and sprouts. The Mongolian and I really enjoyed our CKT and Oyster Omelette (see below)

The next day, we went back to Lorong Selamat, but we decided to try the CKT at the Red Hat Aunty’s competitor, just down the road from her (I forget the name). To be honest, they tasted very similar. I can’t say one is better over the other as both were equally good and had the same ingredients.

Red Hat Aunty CKT is at Kafe Heng Huat (兴发茶室) 

108 Lorong Selamat

10400 Pulau Pinang

Oyster Omelette – an unexpected, pleasant discovery

Oyster Omelette

Oyster Omelette with sweet and spicy sauce

Malaysia has this concept of a coffee shop (kopitiam), where you go sit in but it only serves drinks, and you are expected to order from the hawker stands which operate outside it. If you don’t order drinks, you’re expected to pay a small fee for the use of their shop.

When we were in the coffee shop waiting for our CKT to arrive, a man comes to us and asks if we wanted something. We had some trouble communicating because he spoke neither English nor Mandarin. Ultimately he walked away (and I thought we had gotten rid of him), but very quickly he came back with a laminated poster of his oyster omelettes. The Mongolian quickly ordered it, which surprised me because we tried it the previous day and it was horrible with so much corn starch diluting the egg that most of what we ate was thick goo.

But I am glad that The Mongolian ordered the oyster omelette from the Kah Kah Fried Oyster (嘉嘉蚝煎) right opposite the Red Hat Aunty. This one had no detectable corn starch, eggs were fried such that you can taste its natural fragrance, and of course, lots of succulent oysters. The sweet and spicy sauce helped to cut through the grease in this dish and complemented it very well.

Kah Kah Fried Oyster (嘉嘉蚝煎)  also on Lorong Selamat

Penang Laksa

The old man who is continuously compiling bowls of assam laska with noodles, cucumber and that delicious stock

The Grandpa who is continuously compiling bowls of assam laska with noodles, vegetables and that delicious stock

Penang laksa is also known as assam laksa, and has a distinctive sour flavour to its seafood soup. It tastes completely different to the curry laksa with coconut milk, so I find it curious that they are known as both laksa.

This was a stall at Air Itam markets, at the foot of Penang Hill and Guan Ying statue. The seating is scarce and squashed on the footpath, next to the road and next to the gutter. I turned a blind eye to the worker discarding a bucket of left over soup directly into the gutter, even though I swear some of it splashed on my leg. Despite the questionable hygiene and environmental controls, it was never at a shortage of customers with the Grandpa continuously making bowls of laksa. The Mongolian compared him to the Red Hat Aunty and commented how he wouldn’t be able to do that – that was saying something for someone with army training plus gym sessions.

Penang laska - rice noodles, cucumbers, onions, chilli, herbs and a pungent, tangy, rich and fish stock. There were lots of fish pieces, as the grandpa would ladle in the stock, then pour the liquid back into the pot , and repeat this a few times so there's an accumulation of fish meat.

Penang laska – rice noodles, cucumbers, onions, chilli, herbs and a pungent, tangy, rich and fish stock. There were lots of fish pieces, as the grandpa would ladle in the stock, then sieve liquid back into the pot , and repeat this a few times so there’s an accumulation of fish meat. The flavour of the soup is inexplicably good that mere words fail to pay proper homage to its deliciousness. Suffice to say that I licked the bowl dry, and although the Mongolian was sick when we first arrived and couldn’t have much, after his stomach settled, he came back for another bowl.

Fried goods from a neighbouring stand to accompany the laksa.

Fried goods from a neighbouring stand to accompany the laksa.

 

Batu Ferringhi

And last but not least, some food porn from the markets at Batu Ferringhi where the Mongolian had a late night feast.

Satay sticks

It started off with satay sticks…

Bakuteh

…followed by some bakuteh…

Fried chicken

…then a plate of fried chicken to finish off.

Melaka: other great eats

25 Apr

Although Penang is touted as the food capital of Malaysia, we loved the culinary delights in Melaka. We didn’t think it was second to Penang, but rather enjoyed its offerings more than Penang. Below is some of the other places we liked.

Coconut Shake @ Bikini Toppings

46 Lorong Hang Jebat (opposite the Orangutan T-Shirt shop)

20140425-141941.jpgThe most famous place for coconut shake in Melaka is, no doubt, Klebang Original Coconut Milk Shake. However this is not within walking distant of the city centre, and getting a taxi out there just for a drink was neither financially nor time economical. Luckily I’d read Bikini Toppings did a good rendition of the shake, so we did not have to miss out. We initially noticed the cafe because of its name when we were wandering the streets near the Baba Nyonya Museum the day before, and the Mongolian was able to trace his way back to this place a day later. For this, he wants to be called Sherlock Holmes from now on (lol no).

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‘Sherlock Holmes’ had a coconut shake with coffee ice cream, while I had mine without any ice cream. The coconut water and coconut flesh is blended with ice. I think they also added some sugar syrup to mine because it was quite sweet. However I could still taste the flavour of coconut. Meanwhile ‘Sherlock Holmes’ said the coffee ice cream overpowered the coconut.

 

Millie Crepes @ Nadeje

G-23 & 25, Jalan PM4, Plaza Mahkota

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This was another place I spontaneously found online. Nadeje is a Melakan cafe that has gained so much popularity that it has expanded outside of its hometown to KL. There are a few stores in Melaka, with two in the vicinity of our hotel.

Millie Crepes in original and rum and raisin
The cake had a lot of cream in between each layer of thin crepe, but kept its shape and did not fall apart once we dug in. It was also not too sweet, subtlety is good.

The first time we went was after 9pm so it was quite empty. ‘Sherlock Holmes’ was so impressed we went again the next day. But the next day, there was a huge queue and most cakes had been sold out. It didn’t help that the customer before us wanted to buy 20 cakes in order to make use of the Nadeje loyalty card. Grrrr. Due to the limited options available, the flavours we were able to get (the Melaka and hazelnut praline), were not distinct enough, they all tasted relatively the same.

 

Satay Celup @ McQuek’s Satay Celup

231 Jalan Paraneswara

Satay celup is a Melakan specialty where skewers of raw food are dipped and cooked in a simmering satay sauce. So just like hot pot, but with satay.

The most famous and popular places for satay celup are Capitol or Ban Lee Xiang, but both inevitably require waiting in a long line, which was not appealing for us. Hence why I selected McQuek’s.

McQuek’s is not in the city centre; to get there, you have to walk along Jalan Parameswara for about 5-10 minutes. It might seem a lot longer, because there is no foot path, so you have to walk by the side of the road where cars are roaring passed on one side and an open drain on the other.

But McQuek’s is worth it! There weren’t that many customers, but its customers were locals, which suggest this place must be authentic and value enough. The service was also good, the ladies would momentarily come around and stir your pot so the peanuts don’t stick to the bottom.

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You’ve had hot pot. You’ve had stay. But have you had SATAY HOT POT?!?!?

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Damage: 43 sticks, 57 ringits

Melaka: Nancy’s Kitchen

25 Apr

Melaka, or Malacca, is a seaside city that was once an important port that facilitated trade between the east and the west. It is the historical centre of Malaysia, and my Malaysian friend described it as the birth of Malaysia.

Being a city where people of different countries converged, it’s cuisine is also displays this multicultural heritage. Peranakan cuisine, for example, is the food of Chinese traders who settled in Melaka and took local Malay wives. It is quite curry heavy and spicy, which I think, suits the climate.

Restoran Nyonya Nancy’s Kitchen

7 Jalan Hang Lekir

Nancy’s Kitchen is quite famous for Peranakan food. On both occasions we came, we had to wait for a table (although luckily, we did not have to wait for long). I also noticed that all the patrons were tourists, so don’t quite know where the locals go…

Popiah

Popiah – Steamed spring roll served with turnips, cucumber, fresh beans coriander leaf, eggs, garlic and other vegetables.
This is a signature dish, and the first time we went, they ran out by the time we were seated and were ready to order. The popiah was refreshing and light, but the turnips were a bit sweet. It’s also a big roll!

Top Hats - so named because of the shell it is served it resembles an inverted top hat. It has the exact same fillings as the popiah. The Mongolian likes it because the top hat shell is crunchy.

Top Hats – so named because of the shell it is served it resembles an inverted top hat. It has the exact same fillings as the popiah. The Mongolian likes it because the top hat shell is crunchy.

Assam prawns. It had big pieces of pineapple which added a further dimension to the sour and spicy soup. Such flavours are really good for the hot and humid weather. I liked mixing it into my rice.

Assam prawns – it had 4 big prawns and big pieces of juicy pineapple which added a further dimension to the sour and spicy soup. Such flavours are really good for the hot and humid weather. I liked mixing it into my rice.

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Duck – it was a bit sour and tasted a bit like the tamarind pork.

Fried rice

Fried rice

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L-R: Belacan water spinach, chicken with black nut, pork in tamarind, Nyonya fried noodles.

We liked the meat dishes in the above picture. The chicken with black nut had a rich, thick sauce, but it wasn’t spicy. Just visible in the photo is the black nut which you scoop out its dense, creamy black stuff inside and eat it with the chicken. The waiter described it as like a truffle – only in appearance.

Nyonya cendol

Nyonya cendol – shaved ice with gula melaka, coconut milk, red beans and green squiggle worms made from rice flour and pandan.
This was the best cendol that we had. The gula melaka is blended with the ice, which makes for even distribution and easy mixing of everything once served. It tasted creamier than the one we had at Jonker 88, too.

Dumplings 粽子

Dumplings 粽子 - This is a dessert, but it contains meat. I thought this was a bit strange and a rather heavy end to a meal.

Nancy's kitchen

Nancy’s kitchen

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Street view and the queue of tourists after 2pm.

Melaka: Jonker 88

25 Apr

Jonker Street (or Jalan Hang Jebat or 鸡厂街) is the China Town street in Melaka. Number 88 on this street is a prominent restaurant, seemingly operated by grandmas and old aunties, which does great laksas. We came for breakfast twice, and they recognised us even though they must serve hundreds of people every day.

Jonker 88

88 Jalan Hang Jebat

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L-R: Baba laksa and Nyonya laksa. Or in more common vernacular, curry laksa and assam laksa. The Mongolian highly enjoyed his baba laksa and was impressed by the the large piece of chicken in his bowl. I also like the pungent sour and spicy flavour of my soup, and liked the chew of my thick noodles (a bit like sweet potato flour noodles).

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The next day, I had a baba nyonya laksa, or mix of the curry laksa and nyonya laksa. It was good also. Not as heavy as the plain curry one.

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The Mongolian had the nasi lemak. He was disappointed that the chicken piece wasn’t as big as yesterday.

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Fried prawn thing to go with the laksas

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Nyonya cendol – this was our first in Melaka and we both thought it was a miraculous improvement from the one we had in Penang. It just tasted different, and better (no doubt that the gula melaka contributed to the improvement).

 

The production line - the lady in red is the laksa assembler.

The production line – the aunty in red is the laksa assembler.

Foodie adventure Newtown

6 Apr

Another foodie adventure with Martha Stewart.

My cousin told me about this cake over a year ago. She liked it cos it was refreshing and not sweet. Ever since then I’ve wanted to try it. Told ‘Martha Stewart’ about it this week and she told me quite plainly, “I’ve tried this cake”. I was flabbergasted – why are you acting so calm??

Strawberry watermelon cake

Strawberry watermelon cake
It was nice, I guess. But probably because people have told me too good things about it, I expected the Earth and the Moon. Refreshing yes, not too sweet yes. But also the watermelon seemed very cold (colder than the cream and almond thing) and it wasn’t as rosey as I expected…

After our morning tea, we walked down Enmore Street to find a place to have lunch. We chose a small Turkish place next to a furniture store that was advertising takeaway falafel wraps for $5. We ate in, and the price was still cheap. I loved how the walls and tables had tiles and mosaics, also beautiful mosaic lamps.

Falafel wrap

Falafel wrap
A bit dry, because it had no sauce, just hummus. But by the same token, this felt super healthy

Beijing Alley

6 Apr

We had a quick dinner at Beijing Alley last Friday before watching Captain America. At first I was hesitant to eat here, but when the Mongolian pointed out they sell jianbing, I was so excited (this is the first time I’ve had jianbing in Australia) I needed no further convincing.

I’d describe the jianbing as a large thin round crepe with a sweet sauce (like 甜蜜酱) and an optional splash hot sauce, an egg, a sprinkling of spring onions and another of coriander. Then the vendor would add in a fried dough stick or another very crunchy, deeply fried carb and wrap it up like a kebab. Because it is hawker food, it costs about 3RMB. I thought it was breakfast food (and I’ve certainly only had it as breakfast), but the Mongolian told me he use to have it after tutoring school which is about dinner time. Either way, it both warms the soul in the unforgiving Shanghai-ese winter and fills the tummy for a ravishing students who study too much.

Sour plum drink and soy milk. I really liked the soy milk because it wasn't sweetened and tasted like it was freshly made

Sour plum drink and soy milk
I really liked the soy milk because it wasn’t sweetened and tasted like it was freshly made

Pig's ears - ack!! These were spicy (tasted like 老干妈), crunchy and rubbery. I wasn't a great fan because of the texture, but the Mongolian loved it for that same reason. He ate two plates of this and didn't seem fazed by the spiciness.

Pig’s ears – ack!!
These were spicy (tasted like 老干妈), crunchy and rubbery. I wasn’t a great fan because of the texture, but the Mongolian loved it for that same reason. He ate two plates of this and didn’t seem fazed by the spiciness.

Red braised pork belly rice - Lots of meat, slightly salty (especially the egg) and the pork was on the fatty side.

Red braised pork belly rice
Lots of meat, slightly salty (especially the egg) and the pork was on the fatty side.

Jianbing with fried dough stick - feels like it was a very gourmet version because it's served in a plate, not a plastic bag.

Jianbing with fried dough stick
It doesn’t taste exactly like the jianbings I’ve had back in China, something is amiss. But this feels like a very gourmet version because it’s served in a plate, not a plastic bag. Let’s not also forget this costs 26 times more than the ones in China.

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Things are on the expensive side here, but the food is ok. Next time I come, I want to try their zhajiangmian.

Beijing Alley on Urbanspoon

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