Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cambodia: Tonle Mekong Restaurant

On our first day in Siem Reap, we mentioned to Vhet that we would be interested in checking out a local market for souvenirs.  Vhet made it happen for us the next day by cramming the morning full of temples and clearing the afternoon for a long nap back at the hotel and a market run.

Vhet pointed out a meeting point before setting us loose in the market.  After getting lost in the market, haggling for souvenirs, pretending to walk away, and scoring banana chips, Vhet took us to dinner at...you guessed it, a buffet:
















Tonle Mekong Restaurant was bigger than Koulen II, but not quite as classy.

Not that we cared.  We headed straight to the food stations:
















And battled through the swarm of people:























Here's what I had to show for it:
















Unsurprisingly, nothing spectacular.  Just decent buffet food...which isn't saying much, I know.

Drinks came out of pocket, as usual.  I got myself a lemon soda:























The good thing about mediocre buffet food that's included in your tour package is that you don't get the urge to overstuff yourself to get your money's worth.  Before I knew it, I was ready for dessert:























The best thing at Tonle Mekong was the kanom krok or grilled coconut pancakes (pictured at the bottom).  They were especially delicious if you waited around for a fresh batch.  Which we did.  Shamelessly.

Dinner again came with a show:
















The quality of the performances wasn't as great as those at Koulen (confirmed by Vhet later), but the show still had its highlights

Because many of the dances were a repeat of what we saw at Koulen the night before, CK and I peaced out early to avoid the traffic jam.

Sorry for the long dearth of new posts.  My sister was visiting for Thanksgiving and we spent all our time shopping, eating, Just Dance-ing, and hanging out in our pajamas.  Now that she's back at school, I promise that I'll get back on track.

Maybe.


Tonle Mekong Restaurant
No. 110, Street No. 6, Phum Grous
S/K Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap, Cambodia
063 965 052

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cambodia: Borey Savann Restaurant

Vhet packed our second morning in Siem Reap full of temples and history and breathtaking sights.  There was the royal swimming pool (more like a giant lake than a pool), Banteay Kdei, Ta Prohm (where they filmed Tomb Raider), and Preah Khan.  By lunchtime, CK and I were hot, tired, and more than ready for a break.

So when Vhet led us into Borey Savann, we were very grateful:
















Vhet made sure we were seated and taken care of before he left.  It seemed like a pretty quiet day for Borey Savann:
















Lunch came in a set menu.  Again, drinks not included.  I ordered a lime juice and this green beast caught me by surprise:























All it was missing was a tiny parasol.  It was so good that when I saw little ants hanging out on the rim, I just picked them out and continued slurping.

Our first course was fried spring rolls with peanut and fish sauce:
















Then came tom yum soup with fish:























Nowhere as intense as its Thai counterpart.

Both fried rice and steamed rice (don't ask me why we needed both):
















Amok chicken:
















It was supposed to come in a green coconut.  We were greatly disappointed.  Or I should say I was.  CK probably didn't care at all.  I swear I saw another table with their chicken in a coconut though!

Our last entree was the stir fried pork with garlic, bell peppers, and onion:























To round out the meal, we were brought a fruit platter with pineapple and watermelon:
















I can't get enough of pineapple in SE Asia.  I'm obsessed.

Before walking out of the restaurant, we made sure to pick up some sodas for Vhet and our driver.  They didn't seem to impressed by our offering.  Maybe we should have asked them what they preferred...


Borey Savann Restaurant
No. 0243, Road to Angkor
Sangkat Slor Kram, Siem Reap, Cambodia
063 760 617

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cambodia: Koulen II Restaurant

I PASSED THE CA BAR!  WOOT!

Okay.  That was it.  Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Vhet took pity on us and let us check into the hotel for a nice, long afternoon nap after lunch.  Our hotel, the Angkor Miracle, was seriously legit.  So fancy that Vhet told us he couldn't wait for us inside the lobby whenever he comes to pick us up.  

...What?

True to his word, Vhet was sitting outside when our afternoon meeting time rolled around.  

He spent the next few hours pointing out all the best photo spots in Bayon Temple.  We fought the mass of tourists and tried to catch the sunset at Phnom Bakheng but gave up due to the cloudy skies.  Instead, we hightailed it off the mountain and beat to crowds to Koulen II Restaurant for dinner:
















Again a buffet, but much fancier this time:
















You gotta love it when Asian buffets carry pizza:
















For all the foreigners, of course.

There were stations where chefs cooked your order fresh, but what really interested me was the dessert table:
















Tables.  Plural:
















Here's what I grabbed on my first round:
















Don't really remember anything standing out, but it's a tour buffet.  What do you expect?

Again, drinks had to come out of pocket.  I think this was some kind of lemon tea:























And this was orange juice:























Here's my dessert round:























I really need to stop picking things because they look pretty.  They hardly ever taste good.  Case in point: the jellies.  Yuck.

Dinner also came with a show:
















Once again, Vhet declined our invitation to dine with us, even after we made it clear that we wanted to treat him to a meal.  We didn't like the idea of him just waiting around for us, so we finished dinner, watched a good chunk of the show, paid our drink bill, and then peaced out of there.


Koulen II Restaurant
No 50, Street Sivatha, Mondul II
Svaydangkum, Siem Reap, Cambodia
063 964 324
http://www.koulen2restaurant.com/

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cambodia: Tonle Chaktomuk

Yay!  I'm finally on my last leg of my SEA trip.  Hopefully I'll be caught up soon...by the end of next year?

Sigh.

Anyway, we left our hotel in Kuala Lumpur for the airport butt early in the morning.  Our flight to Siem Reap was at 6:50am and we arrived just one hour later.  

AG's (CK's fiance, remember him?) uncle's friend was kind enough to get his subordinate in Cambodia's secretary to help us book a tour of Angkor Wat.  Whew.  That was a mouthful.  She booked us a private tour guide and a driver for 3 days.  Our guide (I think his name was spelled Vhet, but pronounced "wit") picked us up at the airport and before we could give him our rehearsed speech to take it easy on the first day, he whisked us off to Angkor Wat, luggage and all.  His logic?  Get as much done as possible before the afternoon rains.  Made sense.

Walking around Angkor Wat was a dream come true for me, but it was also very, very tiring.  Especially on a couple hours of sleep, an empty stomach, and in the unbearable heat.

We finally stopped for lunch at Tonle Chaktomuk:
















All our meals during the 3 day tour were planned out by our tour agency.  Which meant...buffets.

Tonle Chaktomuk was pretty much empty besides other tourists on tour packages such as ourselves:
















What really threw us off was Vhet telling us that he couldn't eat with us because they don't let native Cambodians in.  The tour guides and drivers have to stay outside and...wait.  Something about maintaining the ambiance for the tourists.

Our appetite was already kind of shot by the lack of sleep, but hearing him say that killed what was left of it. Though there was a lot of food, nothing looked really appealing:























I ended up with a small plate of steamed goodies:
















None of them tasted good.

The meal was included in our tour package, but we had to pay for our drinks.  The price of my pineapple juice was pretty much the same as what we would find in the States:























I went straight to dessert for my second plate:
















I tried some Cambodian desserts, but none of them were any good.  The fruit, on the other hand, was awesome.

Pineapples in Southeast Asia are super sweet, which is why I went back for more:
















Vhet had warned us that Cambodian ice cream sends foreigners to the hospital.  We were advised to avoid ice cream on the streets and to eat in the restaurants if we really wanted to try it.  So I did.  Even though the ice cream pops looked like they were supposed to be different flavors, but they all tasted like durian.  I guess the one durian pop infected all the other ones in the freezer.

As expected of tour chow, Tonle Chaktomuk was nothing to write home about.  CK and I quickly realized that the sights in Cambodia would be much more memorable than the food.  It's a shame, really.


Tonle Chaktomuk
No. 0064 Angkor Wat (Road)
Khom Slar Kram, Siem Reap 855, Cambodia
063 965 052

Monday, November 12, 2012

Malaysia: Wong Ah Wah Restaurant

CK and I tried to go to Jalan Alor twice.  The first time was a fail because of the downpour.  We got a second chance when we ended up in the Bukit Bintang area again.

Before walking over to Jalan Alor, we stopped at a fruit juice stall just outside of Bukit Bintang Plaza.  I saw mangosteen juice on the menu and just couldn't resist.  CK got soursop:


CK's soursop juice was a flop, but my mangosteen juice made me all sorts of happy...that is, until we asked for the bill.  $5 a cup.  American dollars.

Guh.

We were in shock for a good minute.  Then we thought about it.  It kinda does make sense, considering how many mangosteens it probably took to fill that cup.  The soursop on the other hand...totally not worth the 5 bucks.

Since it was our last day in Malaysia, CK and I had set aside just enough money for the taxi to the airport the next morning.  We didn't want to exchange any more currency, so we pooled together our remaining ringgits and calculated that we had enough for a decent dinner on Jalan Alor.

We seriously miscalculated with the juices, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Since we had no choice but to exchange more money, we no longer had to be so careful with how much we could spend on dinner.

Not gonna lie.  Make it rain jokes may have been traded.  I know, we're dorks like that.  It actually wasn't even all that much money.  (Probably around 10 or 20 bucks.)

Hellooooooo Jalan Alor:
















We walked all the way to the end to reach Wong Ah Wah:
















The first thing we ordered was W.A.W.'s grilled chicken wings:























One each really wasn't enough.  I don't think I've ever had chicken so well grilled.  Hot damn.  The skin is to die for.

CK wanted veggies so we asked our server to make a recommendation.  I don't remember what it was:
















But I do remember that it tasted good.

Just not as good as the bamboo clams:
















Who cares if we had juice already.  Bring on the juice!  I got orange:























CK got apple:























The color was a little suspicious to me.  Don't you think so too?

Since we had money to burn, we ordered the sang har mee, which is jumpo prawns on a bed of crispy noodles with a thick gravy:
















Kinda meh for me.

Definitely check out Wong Ah Wah, but skip everything else and just pig out on chicken wings.  They're above and beyond everything else we tried there.

Lesson of the day: life's curveballs come in many shapes and cup sizes.


Wong Ah Wah Restaurant
No. 1 & 5 & 7 Jalan Alor
50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
03-2144-2463

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Malaysia: Anjappar Chettinaad Restaurant

The Batu Caves tired us out.  Unexpectedly, the trek down the 272 stairs took longer than the trek up.  The steps were so steep that I clutched the rail each time I lifted my foot.

Anyway, we knew we wanted to try some Indian before we left Kuala Lumpur.  The question was just where.  I had my trusty little travel notebook with Indian restaurant suggestions in it, but as usual it contained no addresses, only little asterisks among lines denoting streets.

For the life of me, I couldn't find the restaurant I'd painstakingly mapped out.  CK got tired of wandering around, so she hopped into a random shop and asked for food recommendations.  The surprised lady CK accosted pointed to the restaurant just to the right of her:























Anjappar was rather empty, but we were too pooped to let that bother us:
















After flipping through the menu, I spotted something that cracked me up.  Anjappar is apparently international and has a branch...in Milpitas, California.

For those of you who don't understand the hilarity of my finding, let me clue you in.  My house is located 10 minutes from Milpitas.

Yea.

The menu was kinda overwhelming, so we let our server take the reigns.  Or at least we tried to.  He really wasn't all that enthusiastic about it.

We ended up with biryani with some kind of quail:
















There's a whole tiny bird buried in there.

Our server suggested we try a set meal, which came with papadum:
















And a tray of goodies:
















Our server never pointed out to us what was what, but according to online menus, there should be 3 types of veggies, chicken gravy, fish gravy, mutton gravy, curd, and rasam (a South Indian soup).

It also came with rice:
















We took up our server's suggestion and ordered a fried chili fish:
















At least that's what I think it was.  It honestly wasn't that good to me.  The fish tasted mummified.

Not the best meal we had in Kuala Lumpur, but it was definitely fun eating off of banana leaves.  I do have to be honest and admit that I used utensils instead of my hands.  What?  I didn't feel like getting my hands dirty!

As we were existing Anjappar, I had to do a double take because I saw the restaurant I'd originally been looking for just at the next street corner.

Life's funny like that.


Anjappar Chettinaad Restaurant
136 Jalan Tun Sambanthan
Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
03-2273-3812
http://anjappar.com/

Friday, November 9, 2012

Malaysia: Mr. Chiam's

The Batu Caves are a series of caves and cave temples located slightly north of Kuala Lumpur.  The best part about the caves?  The 272 steps up to the entrance.

Yea.  272 steep steps, not including the additional stairs inside the caves.  The pain was worth it though.  I would do those stairs all over again if I could see CK's strained face just one more time.  

CK hates caves.  Of all the caves in the world, CK hates wet caves the most.  And of all the wet caves in the world, CK detests the ones with bats.

Guess what kind of caves the Batu Caves are?  

In my defense, I suggested going to the Batu Caves without knowing that they would be both wet and home to bats.  It was a surprise to me too.  One I thoroughly enjoyed at CK's expense.

The other thing I enjoyed that day was Mr. Chiam's pisang goreng:
















We stopped by Mr. Chiam's cart for a snack before catching the KTM Komuter train to the Batu Caves.  There was already a line by the time we found the cart across from the YMCA.

Pisang goreng are fried bananas.  Mr. Chiam offers more than just bananas though.  CK and I decided to split a fried banana, a fried curry puff, and a fried sweet potato, taro, and rice cake sandwich:
















The only thing we didn't get was the sesame ball.  Looking back, that was poor decision making on our part.

With our purchase in hand, we sought to find a place to sit and indulge.  The only place we could find was a KFC in the KTM Komuter station.  After ordering an egg tart and a chicken and corn rice bowl, we sat down to enjoy our fried goods.

The banana was pretty much heavenly:
















It really is all about the batter.  Mr. Chiam has discovered the perfect balance of wispy-ness and crispiness and deliciousness.

The taro/sweet potato/rice cake sandwich was also divine:
















Don't wait too long before digging in though.  The kuih bakul tastes best when it's hot and the sweet potato and taro are still soft.

The curry puff was my least favorite of the trio, but I still enjoyed it immensely, which says a lot about Mr. Chiam's pisang goreng:
















Super cheap, super yummy, and I super recommend it.  Three cheers for Mr. Chiam!

And just for fun, let's throw in an additional cheer for wet, batty caves that sit at the top of 272 steps, shall we?


Mr. Chiam's Pisang Goreng Stall
Opposite of YMCA, in front of Yit Sieang Coffee Shop
Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
012-617-2511
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