Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Malaysia: Uncle Bean

Jalan Petaling looks completely different in the morning light.  While CK was still sleeping, I slipped outside to take a look around.  

In the morning, before the stalls have been set up, the middle of the street is wide open for pedestrians:

Once nighttime hits, the middle is filled with stalls selling clothes and watches and bags and whatever else you can think of.

Jalan Petaling has to be the most patriotic street in Malaysia.  Just look at all those flags.  You also have to appreciate the permanent covering over the street.  Very handy during raining days.

On my way back to the hotel, I saw a long like at the Uncle Bean food cart:

I didn't remember seeing the cart the night before, so I got in line.  Correction: there wasn't really a line, only a mass of people.  After I stood there for a while, a friendly lady next to me kindly told me that I'll have to be more aggressive to get my order in.

I seized the opportunity to ask what she'd ordered.  I saw that she'd gotten soy milk, but with a dark syrup rather than a clear one.

It was dark brown sugar syrup:

I hoped that the brown sugar syrup would make the soy milk taste differently, but alas, there really was no difference.  Still good soy milk though.

I also bought a dou hua (tofu pudding, also called dou fu hua) with brown sugar syrup:

Back at the hotel, CK woke up just in time to dig in:

Very silky.  Brown sugar is good, but I still prefer ginger syrup with my dou hua.  I love the spicy kick the ginger gives to the otherwise bland tofu.

Love, love, love Jalan Petaling.  Living right upstairs of it was the best choice we could have made.

Malaysia: Jalan Petaling

It's Halloween, which means I'm hiding at home with all the light off, hoping that kids don't come a-knockin'. What better time to catch up on my blogging?  Though I've kinda given up hope on ever catching up.  Sigh.

Anyway, enough pity partying.  

Jalan Petaling really comes alive at night:

Shopping and food galore.  I was more interested in the food side.

Such as this cart for longan drinks:

Super popular, but super quick, I love the pieces of longan sitting at the bottom:

I noticed this little old man on my first pass through Jalan Petaling:

I made sure we stopped by after dinner and before heading back to our hotel.  He made 2 types of grilled cakes.

The first one is made with coconut batter and comes in these little disks:

The second type was made in the large round grill:

After the batter is poured in, the little old man dumps (no sprinkling here) handfuls of sugar on top and then scatters chopped peanuts on top.

The huge pancake is folded in half and then cut into slices.  Each bite is sweet, peanut-y magic:

Of course I tried both kinds of cakes.  My favorite was the peanut one.  The cake is crispy on the edges, soft inside, and hot, hot, hot.

Throughout the rest of our stay in Kuala Lumpur, every time we walked by the little old man and his cart, I was tempted to stop and pay homage.  I restrained myself until our very last night in KL.  I couldn't help it.  There was no way I could leave Malaysia without having another bite of that peanut cake.

If you ever spot the little old man on Jalan Petaling, stop!  But beware, I think he might charge foreigners a bit more than locals.  The 2 times I went, he charged me different amounts.  I think it's because I spoke Chinese to him the first time and English the second. 

Crafty old man.  Hahaha...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Malaysia: Restoran Kim Lian Kee

Scared by Melaka, CK and I booked a hotel in Kuala Lumpur before we arrived.  Armed with the address, we hopped onto a cab at the bus station in KL.  

But of course things couldn't go smoothly for us.  Oh, no.  We had a hotel this time...we just couldn't find it.

It took a while, but we finally figured out that D'Oriental Inn is located INSIDE the heart of Chinatown on Jalan Petaling, which is pedestrian only during business hours (basically the entire day).  

We made it to the front desk, only to be told that our reservation wasn't in the system.  We were asked to put down a deposit, but between the two of us, we didn't have enough ringgit to cover it.  The lady at the front desk sent us on a wild goose chase to look for an open currency exchange on a national holiday.  Finally, she let us pay the deposit in American dollars and we were given our room key.


The next dilemma was where to eat dinner.  There's no lack of options on Jalan Petaling, but therein lies the rub.  How do you pick when there's so much to choose from?  We went with the tried and true method of seeking out the place with the longest line.

Restoran Kim Lian Kee covers two street corners and reaches the 2nd floor of this building:

The wait at one of the corners was so long that one of the servers advised us to try our luck inside.  No wait there.

Fruit juice is a must.  It's hard to go wrong with watermelon:

Every table, both inside and outside, had a plate of hokkien mee gracing it, so of course we had to give it a go:

Thick noodle, yummy black sauce, and fatty pork...what's not to like at slightly over $2 a small plate?

The salted fish fried rice was much less impressive in comparison:

I don't think I tasted any salted fish at all.

The veggies were oily to the point of being almost inedible:

The hokkien mee, definitely worth it.  Skip everything else if you have to.

On a completely unrelated side note...HOORAY GIANTS!!!

Restoran Kim Lian Kee
49, Jalan Petaling
50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+60 3-2032 4984

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Malaysia: Kedai Kopi Chung Wah

We lucked out our first day in Melaka, but the room we scored was only available for one night.  So the next day, CK and I woke up early to try to see if we could find a guesthouse with an opening that day. No such luck.

We did, however, spot this crazy line: 

The restaurant wasn't even open at the time.  We had no clue what the line was for.  What else was there to do except get in line?

Total no brainer.

When the restaurant opened, the line quickly filed in...only to stop 2 parties in front of us.  Dammit.  We could only watch the activity in the kitchen over the heads of those ahead of us:

We didn't have to wait too much longer before we were guided inside:

We soon figured out that Kedai Kopi Chung Wah serves one thing and one things only.  Chicken rice balls.

Melaka is known for its chicken rice balls.  The only real difference between chicken rice balls and the traditional Hainanese chicken rice is, well, the rice balls:

CK and I were each brought a plate of 5 rice balls and a plate of sliced steamed chicken to share:

Milk tea was also a must:

Was it the best Hainanese chicken ever?  Not exactly.  But eating rice balls was certainly a novel experience.  The balls were packed really tight and had none of the fluffiness usually associated with rice.  Very...interesting.  You really can't leave Melaka without trying it.

You could probably skip the super long line though and go to one of the many other chicken rice ball restaurants in the area. And boy, are there many.

Since we couldn't find a place to stay for the second night, CK and I booked a bus ride out of Melaka to Kuala Lumpur that day.

A lesson to all of you who plan on visiting Melaka on a weekend: book ahead.

Kedai Kopi Chung Wah
18, Jalan Hang Jebat
75200 Melaka, Malaysia

Malaysia: Jonker Street

We realized just how poppin' Melaka was when we came across Jonker Street:

CK had a skewed night market experience in Taiwan because of the typhoon, so I was glad she got to experience the crush in Malaysia.  And what a crush it was.

Most of the street was lined with stalls selling little knickknacks, but there were some food options, such as this one:

We were a little too full for a waffle, but CK was lured in by the butter corn:

Buttery.  Yah.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Malaysia: Old Village Satay Celup

We arrived in Melaka with no reservations, no plans, nothing.  We just showed up at the bus terminal, found a taxi driver, and had him drive us to a random guesthouse.  

Our taxi driver was fantastic.  He basically pointed out all the major landmarks and highlighted all the notable restaurants for us.

Unfortunately, we arrived in Melaka on a weekend and what we didn't know was that Melaka blows up every weekend.  People flood in from everywhere and guesthouses are booked well in advance.  Jalan-Jalan, the guesthouse we were dropped off at, was completely full, but the owner was super nice and let us leave our luggage there while we walked around.

We didn't go any further than next door.  There was one room left at Cheng Ho and though it didn't include a private bathroom, we snatched up the room once we saw another duo come in asking about availability.  We didn't want to chance losing the room and then not finding anything else.

The first thing we did after buying an overpriced map from the front desk was to look for satay celup.

Capitol Satay Celup is the famous one, hence the super long line:

CK and I took one look at the line and ducked into Old Village Satay Celup, which the monster line was covering up.

We weren't the only ones with the same idea.  Check out the other pragmatists:

The first thing you do is grab a tray and scope out the skewer selection:

Here's what we grabbed:

Meat on a stick, veggie on a stick, tofu on a stick, seafood on a stick, everything on a stick.  You get charged by the stick, so make sure you keep track.

Satay celup is basically hot pot with one very big distinction.  Instead of a soup base, you dip your skewers into boiling peanut sauce:

Yes, peanut sauce.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate hot pot (traumatic childhood experience), but satay celup rocks.  Like seriously.

To cool off the hot satay celup, we polished off some lime drinks:

With sour plum.  How unfortunate.

Anyway, satay celup is a must when you visit Melaka.  I don't know what Capitol Satay Celup does differently that makes it so popular, but Old Village Satay Celup wasn't too shabby.  Besides, we got an inside tip from the owner of Jalan-Jalan.  He told us that most of the satay celup restaurants on that street are owned by the same person.

Then again, I'm no satay celup expert.  Maybe the line really is worth it.

Old Village Satay Celup
No. 35, Lorong Bukit Cina
75100 Melaka, Malaysia

Singapore: Twisties

We'd barely spent any time in Singapore before we were on a bus heading to Melaka, Malaysia.  To make the ride more bearable, CK bought a bag of Twisties from a 7-11: 

There were a lot of flavors available, but how could anyone not pick the BIG CHEESE?

Here's what they look like:

They had the texture of Cheetos and an interesting flavor of savory mixed with sweet.  They weren't particularly cheesy, but instead had an undertone of maple syrup.  It could be all in my head, but I swear I tasted maple syrup.  CK just looked at me funny when I told her.  Whatever.

It was a little weird at first, but quickly became addicting.  Twisties are awesome.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Singapore: Maxwell Road Hawker Centre

CK and I actually did a lot of touristy things in Singapore.  We took pictures with the durian building (more officially called the Esplanade), we took pictures with Marina Bay Sands in the distance, and we tried to take pictures with the Merlion.  I say we tried because we couldn't approach the Merlion.  Why?  Because the Merlion was on holiday.  ON HOLIDAY.  

Really?  REALLY?

To add insult to injury, the Merlion was boxed in by a giant temporary wall painted with a cartoon Merlion sporting a mocking smile.  Wow.  Thanks, Singapore.

Sorry.  I'm still bitter about it.

Besides those iconic Singaporean landmarks, we also walked through Chinatown.  The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple was on our list, but when we found out that we were dressed too scandalously, we settled with taking pictures outside and then heading straight for Maxwell Road Hawker Centre for dinner:

Definitely my kind of place.

I jumped at the chance to get grass jelly tea:

I should have restrained myself.  I've never met a grass jelly tea when I didn't like until this one.  It was disgusting.  I couldn't even finish it.  I can't remember exactly what was wrong with it, but I do remember being genuinely repulsed.  And slightly distraught.  Kinda traumatized too.

Meanwhile, CK, being the observant person that she is, noticed that a lot of people were carrying bags from this stall:

Tofu dessert, anyone?:

Super silky and super smooth.  I prefer my dou hua with ginger syrup, but even I couldn't fault the tofu dessert from Lao Ban.  No wonder people were buying a dozen at a time, both original and almond flavored.

After the tofu dessert, I was immediately drawn to this fried sweet potato dumpling stall:

I don't usually look sweet potatoes, but in fried form?  Bring it on.

Just look at how cute it is:

There were a lot of fillings to choose from, but I went with red bean:

Looking back, I wish I bought one of each.

Next, we looked for another stall with a long line.  The obvious winner was Jin Hua:

Jin Hua basically specializes in one thing: fish soup.  You just get to choose what to put in it, rice or bee hoon (rice vermicelli).  We went with the sliced fish porridge:

Milky soup, very flavorful, greatly satisfying.

Kinda sad that we didn't get to eat more or get to see Buddha's tooth, but super happy about the shopping in Chinatown.  I can always count on my people to get me cheap souvenirs.

Maxwell Road Hawker Centre
1 Kadayanallur Street
Singapore 069184

Monday, October 15, 2012

Singapore: Bread Talk

I have a soft spot for bread.  So does CK.  We like walking into bakeries even when we have no intention of buying anything.  

We were walking around Paragon on Orchard Street when we came across Bread Talk:

One thing we noticed about bakeries in Singapore, everywhere we went we saw "flosss" bread.  (Yes, 3 S's.)  Finally, curiosity got the best of us, so we bought 2:

We bought one original and one spicy.  We saved them for breakfast the next day and by then, we'd forgotten which one was which.  It turns out it didn't really matter because neither one of them was actually spicy.  Both just tasted like pork sung (also known as pork floss) and sweet mayo.  Tasty all the same.  Even the next day.

I wasn't disappointed by the lack of spiciness, but CK was a little bit.

Bread Talk
290 Orchard Rd #B1-11/12
Singapore 238857

Singapore: Chin Chin Eating House

One requirement of visiting Singapore is eating Hainanese chicken rice.

CK and I checked chicken rice off our list at Chin Chin Eating House:

A lot of people had the same idea:

When traveling in SE Asia, it's wise to set aside a cold beverage budget.  It's that vital.  I think I buy more drinks in Asia than I do meals.

Anyway, the first thing I did at Chin Chin was browse through the drink menu.  I went with a limeade:

No sour plums in sight.  Score!

Our Hainanese chicken rice was delicious, but not exactly life-changing:

Even more disappointing was the wet noodles we ordered:

For something so saucy, it was kinda bland.

What saved the day was CK's insistence on ordering a veggie dish:

I don't remember what kind of veggie it was, but it was super fresh, perfectly seasoned, and totally yummy.  Even for a meat-eater like myself.

Chin Chin, it was fun, but I probably won't be back.

Chin Chin Eating House
19 Purvis St
Singapore 188598
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