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Street Food

In Asian Treats, Dessert, Pastry, Recipe on
May 15, 2018

Hong Kong Style Coconut Tarts

Hong Kong Style Coconut Tarts
It wasn’t until I was writing this post that I noticed that this isn’t the first time I’ve posted a recipe for Hong Kong Style Coconut Tarts on my blog.

Oops?

It’s been that long I’ve forgotten I’ve made them before!

Hong Kong Style Coconut Tarts

Actually, maybe don’t click on that link- there’s some cringe worthy writing during my high school days (yes it’s been that long!). And if you’re after a good coconut tart recipe, you’ll find it on this page anyway!
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In Japan, Travel on
February 17, 2016

Travel | Japan, Osaka: Waffles and Crabs and Ichiran Ramen

 

Our first meal in Osaka happened to be at the airport. This was a result of forgetting to order meals on our flight and surviving off only toasties and cup noodles for the 8 or so hours. Luckily for us, the airport had a pretty impressive selection of food outlets so we had quite a satisfying udon and unagi meal, although we gobbled everything up before I even remembered to bring out my camera.

Menyagaten

 

So by the time we reached the city, we weren’t terrible hungry and only after a light-ish meal so we ended up at this small and cozy ramen restaurant for dinner. 

 

Maze Soba (700yen)


The menu was in Japanese but thankfully it had plenty of pictures so it made it quite easy to order. I had absolutely no idea what the maze soba was, but seemed like a good option seeing as it was posted all over the store on posters and signs.

It’s an impressive bowl of thick noodles with a soy-like sauce mixed in, a piece of tender chashu pork and a mountain of toppings. Of which I’m pretty sure included a quite a bit of pig fat. And a generous serve of minced garlic to give you hours of garlic breath.

But if you cast your mind away from how unhealthy it may be and how bad your breath will smell afterwards, mix it all together and you have yourself a very very tasty bowl of noodles. Perhaps a little on the salty side for my tastes, but still very tasty indeed.

Gachi Shouyu Ramen Kai (980yen)
 
And for the not so adventurous, they also do shoyu ramen. We were quite impressed with the soup base, as the shoyu ramen we’ve tried in Sydney are quite plain in flavour- this one was very moreish.

 

Gyoza (280yen)

And we couldn’t go past the gyoza, at only 280yen for 6 pieces! Very delicate dumplings with a crispy bottom and a delicious filling- we would have ordered a serve each if not for the fact that we were feeling quite full!

Maison de Gigi

 

It didn’t take us long to discover that three meals a day was not going to do it for us in Japan, as there’s food everywhere. A short walk down the Shinsaibashi shopping strip, and we find ourselves lured into this cafe from the display of waffles out the front.

Hazelnut Latte (630yen)

 

The three storey cafe sells mainly waffles but they also do some pancakes and crepes. You can buy takeaway waffles for roughly 150yen or you can opt to dine in, but there is a policy of ordering a minimum of one item per diner. 

 

The coffees look like coffee machine ones, with foamy froth and lack of coffee art. Whether or not it’s machine or barista made, we couldn’t figure out, but the coffee was surprisingly pleasant, especially with the hazelnut aroma. 

 

Liege Waffles (set, 980yen)

There’s a huge cabinet of the cute liege waffles at the front of the store and they do them in four different flavours. These are pre-made however, so they’re of the more bready texture.

Custard and Banana Waffles (780yen)

If you dine in, you also have the option of ordering the freshly made waffles which are definitely the better option- these come hot and are softer and fluffier than the liege variety. We love the presentation of the waffles, with quenelles of cream and ice cream, custard, bananas and chocolate sauce piled beautifully.

Dotonbori

 

By the time we reached Dotonbori, we had an hour to spare before lunch so we hit the streets and tried some of the street food. 
 
 
There was plenty of takoyaki, but none quite as noticeable as the Dotonbori Kukuru Konamon-Museum which has a massive takoyaki holding octupus. We didn’t have time to visit the museum, although we did have enough time to join the long line for some takoyaki.
 

 

Watching takoyaki being made is like an attraction in itself- there’s something mesmerising about the way the chefs turn the little balls at lightning speed. The end result are piping hot takoyaki balls which are incredibly soft inside- quite unlike any takoyaki I’ve ever had elsewhere.
 
 
We also tried this takoyaki place further down the street which was a little less busy both out of curiosity and because we can’t have enough takoyaki.

 

 

They looked a little different, with less round balls and a more generous sprinkle of bonito…..but tasted pretty similar to the other ones!

 

 

There’s also a cute melonpan food truck towards the end of the street which claims to be the “second delicious melonpan ice cream in the world”. Not sure where they got that from, but I wonder where I’d find the one ranked number one?

 

The melon pan are heated and the slab of ice cream is sandwiched between the bun when you order. This makes for a great combination of warm bun and cold ice cream with a particularly crunchy outer layer. If this is only second best, now I’m really curious as to how good is the best?

Amongst the many food vendors on the street was this scallop store which only sold the one thing- grilled scallops.

Grilled Scallops (500yen)

 

They tasted even better than they looked- really fresh and sweet. And they were massive! 
Kani Doraku

 

 
And of course, we couldn’t visit Osaka without trying out the famous Kani Doraku- the main store of the chain. You can book online in advance but we turned up before lunch to get a ticket from the front, which designates you a time to come back when a table will be ready so that you don’t have to stand around waiting. 
 
Peach Sake Drink
 

We were advised by a friend to visit during lunch hours, as their lunch sets are much cheaper than their dinner. For a 9 course crab feast, their lunch sets are great value- we picked the Ruri set for 4320yen per person and the Moegi set for 3780yen to try a bit of everything.

Ordering is via their iPad system which is quite simple to use- tap your selection and you’re ready to go!

Boiled crab

 

All the required utensils are provided for removing the crab meat from the shells- I love how the section of shell is removed so all that you need to do is give it a bit of a scrape to remove all the meat. No nutcracker required!
 
The boiled crab is simple yet tasty- fresh crab meat is nice and sweet in itself, and although dipping sauce is provided, I prefer eating it without.

 

Raw crab tsukuri

We’re not completely sure we’d like the raw crab, as we’re not huge fans of raw anything other than salmon. Luckily it’s not as chewy or sticky as we’d thought, and rather sweet, although I don’t think we’re completely sold.

The claypot rice with crab is the last course, however, it’s brought to the table early to heat up and cook.

Grilled crab

The grilled crab tastes quite similar to the boiled version, just a little drier.

Crab tempura

What’s not to love about crab tempura? The pairing with okra tempura is rather odd, and though we’re not huge fans we’re happy to find that it’s not very slimy.

Crab gratin

The crab gratin comes in the cutest mini claypot with a crab painting on the lid. And a cute spoon too!

All cuteness aside, it’s an amazing dish, with crab meat blanketed in creamy cheese sauce.

Streamed egg custard with crab
Continuing on with the cute theme are these super smooth and silky steamed egg custards- a sort of Chawanmushi but with a crab topping instead of filling. 

 

Steamed crabmeat dumpling made with Yuba 
 
The crabmeat dumplings are bite-sized dumplings made with a delicate tofu skin wrapper, each beautifully presented in its own little bowl. 
 
Japanese soup

We can’t seem to figure out what the little colourful balls are- they’re a little like fish balls but not quite. Nevertheless the miso soup is quite enjoyable.

Claypot rice with crab

By the time we’d finished all the other courses, the claypot rices were ready. There’s a fragrant smell coming from the claypot when you open the lid, but unfortunately, the crab leg in the rice doesn’t impart as much flavour into the rice as we’d expected

Ice cream with green tea sauce

And onto arguably my favourite course of the meal- ice cream! The waitress comes with perfectly round scoops of vanilla ice cream, and then whips up the matcha at the table before pouring it onto the ice cream. It’s the perfect ratio of matcha to ice cream to balance the bitterness of the green tea to the sweetness of the vanilla.

Teppan Jinja

 

When dinner comes rolling around, we find ourselves on Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street looking for food. We’re lured into teppan jinja by the sight of the yakitori grilling and the friendly chef waving at us.

 

Beef, Chicken, Stuffed lotus root and Scallop with Miso Sauce

 

There are seats by the bar downstairs where you can see the grilling in action, however it does make for a stuffy environment so we’re taken upstairs to a private room. There’s a little buzzer in the corner to signal waitstaff to come when you’re ready to order. 
 
All items are priced per skewer and aren’t too pricey so it allows us to have quite a variety of food. I’m a huge fan of the stuffed lotus root which are nice and crunchy and have the perfect amount of mince stuffing in each of the holes. The scallops aren’t nearly as big as the ones we had in the afternoon at Dotonbori, however, they are sweeter and tastier with the thick miso based sauce on top. 
 
Asparagus Wrapped in Pork (250yen)

There’s menu also ranks their top choices by popularity, with asparagus wrapped in pork ranked number 1 so we had to try this. And we’re glad we did, though we’d rank the scallops higher than this one. The pork is cooked perfectly, without the asparagus being too soft or hard, accompanied by a light teriyaki-like sauce.

Prawn Toast (190yen)

The waiter recommends these prawn toasts which are mini bite-sized toasts. Whilst there isn’t a whole lot of prawn on the toast, there’s just enough to impart enough flavour to leave us wishing we had ordered more.

Ichiran Ramen

As delicious as the skewers were, it didn’t take us long to figure out that it would take a ridiculous amount of skewers to fill us up so we decided after round two of skewers to find something a little more substantial to fill us up.

 
And so we ended up at the legendary Ichiran Ramen. 
 
We thought we’d beat the queues by coming late-ish at night, but we find that there’s many more night owls than we’d though, with the queue starting from the entrance and snaking its way into the back of the store where the ordering machines were.

 

Calpis
 
Luckily for us, the store is much bigger than it appears, with 8 or so levels and separated into sections with individual booths or those with tables.
 
Tonkotsu ramen (790 yen )
 
Each ramen is customised so you choose exactly how you want it from noodle texture to the strength of the broth. We can’t exactly remember how we ordered our one but it was perfect. The broth is so good it’s addictive, with a strong pork flavour without being too salty or overwhelming. We’re glad we ordered a kadaema to finish off the soup!

Menyagaten
2-7-28 Nishishinsaibashi Chuo-ku Osaka Osaka
大阪府 大阪市中央区 西心斎橋 2-7-28 萬壽福ビル

Maison de Gigi
 2−2−17 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka 〒542-0085 , Japan
〒542-0085 大阪市中央区心斎橋筋2-2-17
 http://maison-de-gigi.com 

Kani Doraku Dotombori Honten
〒542-0071 1-6-18, Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
http://douraku.co.jp.e.at.hp.transer.com/kansai/honten/

Teppan Jinja Dotonbori
1-6-4 Dotombori Chuo-Ku | Dotonbori Erika Bldg. B1, Osaka 542-0077, Osaka Prefecture
〒542-0077中央区道頓堀1-6-4道頓堀エリカビルB1

Ichiran Dotonbori
〒542-0084 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Souemoncho, 7−18, 1F
〒542-0084中央区宗右衛門7-181F
http://www.ichiran.co.jp/english/html/kin_douton.html 

In Taiwan, Travel on
June 8, 2015

Travel | Taipei: Night Markets- Shida, Tamsui and Shilin

Taiwan had never really been somewhere I really wanted to visit- afterall, how many people would include it in their list of top 10 holiday destinations?

But then pictures started popping up all over my Facebook wall of food, food and more food from various friends who’d gone to Taiwan and I was sold! As we’d been planning on going to Hong Kong anyway, we managed to make a short side trip to Taipei which was only an hour and a half away.

And what’s a trip to Taiwan, without a visit to their famous night markets?

We’d taken an afternoon flight, so by the time we reached the hotel, we popped our bags down and headed straight to the closest night market.


I don’t normally blog about accomodation in my travel posts, because food is what I’m all about, but we’d been recommended this hotel by a friend, and it was absolutely perfect for a foodie like me. With the famous eat street, Yong Kang Street just across the road, Shida night market a short walk away, and a MRT station just below (which also happens to be on the most convenient line for all the foodie destinations), there is probably no better place for a foodie to stay. And it also helps that the place is clean, modern and the service is great!

The walk between the hotel and Shida market is less than 15 minutes, but because we weren’t that fond of walking, we opted for a short train ride instead since fares are ridiculously cheap in Taipei. Get this- getting from one end of the MRT system in Taipei to the other end (i.e. the longest possible trip) on an adult fare actually costs less than me travelling one station (i.e. the shortest possible trip) in Sydney on a concession fare!

Shida Night Market

We got a little lost on the way to Shida night market, not because we were walking in the right direction, but rather, we’d been venturing on the edge of the market for a while before we realised most of the action was in the inner lanes and streets. Plenty of food, fashion and other interesting stores were to be seen, though it was much smaller than we’d expected.

 

Most of the food stores were concentrated around the end of the market, where we got a little too excited and tried a bit of almost everything we could see. We particularly loved this store selling little snacks, most of which we had no idea as to what they were. It’s a buffet-like system where you grab what you want into a small metal bucket, then they add up everything you’ve taken and pour it into a paper back with a couple of skewers for you to eat on the go.

To be honest, I don’t really remember what I ate- too caught up in the excitement to even think about what I was eating, but I do remember this Taiwanese sausage! It’s quite different to Aussie sausages as it’s a lot sweeter, reminiscent of the chinese lap cheong. We developed quite an obsession with these sausages over the course of the trip, though this one was our favourite- we’re not sure if it’s because if it was because it was actually better or if it was only because it was the first.

But yeah- there’s plenty more Taiwanese sausages in the posts to come!

My friend had given me two specific recommendations for Shida night market, one being ‘lu wei’ (鹵味) which is where you can choose from a variety of ingredients (tofu, meats, veggies etc), and they’ll cook that in a special soy based sauce. We’d had trouble finding that particular store, so when the smell wafted across from another lu wei store whilst we were buying snacks, we knew what we were having next.

There wasn’t much seating, being a market stall and all that, but wait a while longer whilst your food is being cooked and there’ll be a seat as diners eat quite quickly- there’s no lurking around here! We got ours with a bit of everything, which was perfect for sharing especially since it was such a huge portion. The flavour is really strong, and you can taste it best in things like radish which soaks up the sauce quite well.

We couldn’t help notice the tofu stall next door, which had huge tubs of tofu in the metal storage container. As it was relatively early into the night, it wasn’t too busy but we were in the mood for a bit of dessert before continuing, so we grabbed a couple to share. There’s a couple of different toppings you can add onto the tofu, and you can choose whether to have it hot or cold.

But it gets a bit confusing when there’s a couple of specific combinations and some which can only be had hot/cold, and the shop keeper was losing patience trying to explain so we just ordered randomly…..

It was too warm for a warm tofu dessert but the mung bean tofu only came warm so we ordered it anyway. Glad we did though- it was definitely our favourite of the few that we tried, and the warmness makes the tofu a lot silkier than the cold version.

Shida isn’t mainly a food market- there’s heaps of other interesting stores to explore, including plenty of fashion/beauty stores for the girls 🙂 We passed this small pan fried bun store which looked a little out of place, sandwiched between a couple of clothes stores and could not resist the sight of pan fried buns being made freshly on premises.

 

It’s a little different to the versions I’ve had in Shanghainese restaurants- this outer wrapping is more pastry-like than like a steamed bun so it felt more like I was having a dumpling than a bun. It’s also rather oily on the outside, but it does come piping hot (straight from the pan of course) which made it particularly enjoyable (though it was difficult trying not to burn your mouth!).

 

More dessert as we passed a dessert house and decided that we wanted to try some Taiwanese desserts. I’d wanted to try their mango shaved ice but they’d run out of mango that particular night so we ordered the green tea shaved ice instead with a red bean and condensed milk topping.

 

The green tea flavour of the shaved ice wasn’t the best, but I do really enjoy shaved ice when it’s in nice neat layers like this so it did make for a refreshing and enjoyable dessert. Wish more places in Sydney did shaved ices!

 

We thought we’d passed all the food for the night, and seeing as we were pretty full, decided to head back to the hotel.And as luck would have it, we passed the store my friend had recommended on the way back!!

It’s exactly the same style as the lu wei we’d tried before, only this one seemed much more popular with a huge crowd gathering around it. We originally wanted to eat in, as they have a seating area up the back, but every diner must also order a drink in order to enter the seating area, so we thought we’d save the trouble and get takeaway instead.

 
Perhaps it was the lack of atmosphere, or maybe it was because it had gone a little cold but the time we reached out hotel, but as much as we enjoyed the flavours of this one (the sauce base was definitely more flavoursome), we did find that we had enjoyed the first one we’d tried more than this. Nevertheless, it was quite enjoyable!
 

Across the road from the lu wei store was the other store my friend had recommended, which was the salted chicken store (literal translation haha). It’s sort of like a salad, where the base is the salted chicken, and then you pick from the variety of other ingredients on offer, mostly vegetables, which are also cut into smaller pieces and mixed together with the chicken. The chicken is hand shredded to order which is why each order takes at least a couple of minutes to make, so the wait is quite a bit longer than you may expect.

It’s certainly well worth it though- they don’t offer any seating so it’s either eating on the go, or to take home (or to hotel in our case). The salted chicken is amazingly tasty, but contrary to what its name may suggest, isn’t overly salty.

 

Tamsui

We hadn’t included it in our itinerary, but seeing as it was a sad rainy day on the second day, we decided to make a small trip to Tamsui instead of our original plans. It’s a long train ride (relatively), to the furthest part of the train network,

To call Tamsui Old Street (Tamsui’s eat street) a night market is a bit of a misnomer as it’s open and bustling during the day time as well. Unlike Shida, this one consists almost solely of food vendors, with a couple of souvenir shops in between. There’s just about any type of Taiwanese street snack you could possibly find on this long road, and as an added bonus, the street is nice and spacious so you don’t have to try to swim through the crowds!

I’m not usually a fan of juices, but when there’s selection of super fresh and large fruits at the front of the store, most of which I’d never seen before, that’s a different story. You can juice just about any combination of fruits, though not all of them taste nice of course.

We tried the white bittermelon, which is not as bitter as normal bittermelon, though the lady at the shop told us that it needs to be paired with something sweet if you’re not used to the bitterness. We tried it paired with papaya and apple separately, and found that the apple did the best at masking the bitterness. It is something quite different and probably not for everyone, though

 
No trip to a night market is complete without at least a couple of Taiwanese sausages so we head over to the first sausage stall we see and get our hands on a couple of sausages.
 

This one’s the large version and sliced fancily so that it’s easier to eat.

 

There’s quite a few stalls selling iron eggs along the Tamsui Old Street. These are eggs cooked and dried in soy sauce until they shrink to the size of pearls. Can’t say any of us were a fan of these eggs, though it definitely was something different! We did notice however, that the price of these got lower and lower as you got further down the street 😉

 

 
There’s nothing particularly interesting about fried squid- except when it’s presented as a whole on a skewer! The lady at the stall was nice enough to let us hold onto one to take pictures with, but unfortunately, they aren’t actually served like that. 
 

Because the squids on display were cold, the order of fried squid is actually reheated in one of the many air fryers at the back of the store, and then served cut up in a small bowl. Nowhere near as exciting as we’d expected and unfortunately, reheated fried squid doesn’t taste all that great.

I’d been curious to try this aiyu drink since reading about it online so had been on a lookout for it. Not that it was hard to find- it’s quite a popular drink/dessert in Taiwan.

It’s a very interesting drink- with soft, squishy aiyu jelly inside, kind of like the jellies you get in bubble tea. The drink itself was like lemon tea, only less sweet and much more sour.

We loved looking at the handmade nut candies- the girls at the stall just kept cutting and packaging slabs after slabs of candies. They’re not the cheapest, but they are deliciously crispy and unlike any other Asian nut candy you’ve tried!

When you reach the end of the street, that’s where all the food kind of ends, and it turns into quite a normal suburban street with various stores here and there. We did chance upon this xiaolongbao store a little way down, with steamers full of these delicious dumplings.

They are ridiculously hot, but we could not resist popping the whole thing in our mouth. The wrapper is nice and thin, and there’s plenty of (boiling hot!) soup inside.

We also walked by this curious building where a huge crowd of school kids were walking out of. I really wonder what’s inside a fish ball museum, but we didn’t have enough time to check it out. Would have loved a school excursion to a fish ball museum though- beats any excursion we ever had at school!

It turns out that Tamsui fish balls are quite famous, which isn’t surprisingly seeing as it is a seaside village. We make a quick stop at a fish ball shop near the wharf to try some out. They’re rather oddly shaped- being long and cocoon like, and we’re surprised to find that it has some filling inside!

Another Tamsui specialty is A-gei which we kept seeing everywhere along out walk through the town. It’s a large stuffed tofu, with a bit of noodles and meat stuffed inside cooked in special sauce which no one could really describe.

Shilin Night Market
 
No visit to Taipei is complete without a visit to the largest night market, Shilin. 
 

We arrive a little early, just before the sun had completely set, so most of the vendors were either opening or were not yet open. Shilin is extremely big, and confused us a bit, with little clusters of food stores here and there, dispersed between fashion, sovereign and game shops.

We’d yet to try Taiwanese oyster pancake, so we stopped by the first store that was open.  These pancakes are ridiculously cheap, at 50NTD each (~$2) and are made fresh to order at the front of the store.

 
They’re a little different to the HK style pancakes we’re used to, being more omelette like, with a little bit of starch paste mixed in to give it a chewy texture. The owner doesn’t seem to happy that we took up 6 seats, ordering only two oyster omelettes, so we quickly scurry out of here.
 
 
The main food stores are located in the underground food court, where each store has its own designated seating- it’s not really street food anymore, but there is plenty of variety!
 
We’re excited to find this store selling coffin bread, which is more of a Tainan specialty. The thick slice of bread is deep fried to order, then a thin layer is sliced off the top, and filled with your choice of filling.
 

We chose the shredded chicken filling, which also comes with a creamy sauce. It’s sort of like a sandwich, except bread is deliciously crispy!

Cute bite-sized crabs! We’d love to try but given the limited seating within each store, it didn’t make sense to sit down to try one dish.

The oyster omelettes in the food court look a lot more appealing than the one we tried at the other store!

We’d also been looking to try smelly tofu, so when we smelt the sauce bubbling away at this store, we knew we had to try it!

The sauce is quite different to what we expected- it’s tasty and pleasant, but we’re not sure we’re huge fans of it. We are however, big fans of crispy deep fried tofu, so we still enjoy it!

We much prefer the outdoor part of Shilin night market, though trying to find the food is a bit of a hassle. Even finding our favourite night market staple, the Taiwanese sausage proved to be a difficult task, until we navigated our way to the main food street.

This also happened to be the first time we witnessed raw Taiwanese sausages- is it strange that I’d expected them to look different to normal sausages?

We never got a chance to visit Raohe Night Market, home of the black pepper bun, but I did manage to get my fix in Shilin! It’s not quite like I’d expected, partly because it wasn’t as hot as it could have been, but still enjoyable 🙂

There’s just about anything you’d want to eat at the night market. There’s even freshly made pizza- which I would have loved to try, but didn’t quite have the stomach space for.

And because we love taiwanese sausages so much, we decided to have it in another form- wrapped in a glutinous rice sausage! It’s a strange combination though it works quite well, sort of like when we eat Chinese sausage (lap cheong) with glutinous rice expect in an easier to eat form- whoever thought of it must have been super creative! The creativity must have stopped when it came to naming it though- surely there’s got to be a better name than ‘small sausage in large sausage’?? (大腸包小腸- there’s even a wikipedia page for this delicious snack!)

The longest queue is of course at fried chicken shop- the famous ridiculously large fried chicken fillet. I haven’t had the ones from their stores in Sydney so I can’t compare, but the one in Shilin was so good I may have forgotten to take a picture of it 😉

The queues here are super efficiently managed. At Prince Cheese Potato, there’s staff members handing out menus and taking orders before you reach anywhere near the front of the queue. Not being any good at Chinese, I mistook the staff member for someone trying to sell me something from the store next door and ignored him the first time he tried to hand me a menu. Luckily I realised soon enough so I did eventually manage to get my hands on this cheese potato.

It’s sort of like an Asian version of baked potatoes- with a crumbed deep fried potato, with your choice of filling and super creamy cheese sauce on top. It’s definitely a snack for sharing though- you wouldn’t have much stomach space left after eating this by yourself!

I can’t say the others enjoyed it too much, but I was a huge fan. But that’s the beauty of night markets- there’s so much food, there’s always something for everyone!

In Malaysia, Travel on
February 25, 2015

Travel | Kuala Lumpur

 

So….. I never quite got a chance to edit and write up a post on my Kuala Lumpur trip last year simply because there was way too many pictures to sort through and way too much to write about. But it was simply too good not  to blog about so I’ve condensed it down into one post so I can salivate over the many yummy eats some time in the future haha (:

 

 

I’m the kind of traveller whose only interest is in shopping and eating so Kuala Lumpur was the perfect destination for me. With cheap street food just about everywhere, and endless amounts of shopping centres,  we ended up swapping all the sight seeing in the original itinerary for more shopping and eating. 

Lot 10 Hutong
First time trying popiah 🙂

And what better place to start than Lot 10 Hutong? The collection hawker stalls meant that we were able to try a little bit of everything, and all in the comfort of an air conditioned food court.

Fishball Noodles (Dry Noodles)

Each stall has it’s own specialty, and we wished we had the stomach space to try all of them. Luckily the serving sizes are mostly on the small side, meaning that we could try a couple more things.

The fishball noodles were bought simply out of convenience as we’d grabbed a table right next to their stall. And we were glad we managed to try this- the fish balls and sliced fish cake were nice and bouncy (reminiscent of the fish cake we tried in Singapore) whilst the dry tossed noodles were incredibly tasty with plenty of sauce and flavour.

Penang Char Kway Teow

I’d been on the lookout for char kway teow from the moment I’d stepped into the food court, so the moment I spotted Penang Famous Fried Kway Teow and the many people around it, I didn’t hesitate to make an order. The serving size is rather small, literally a handful of noodles, but noodles are excellent- plenty of ‘wok hei’, not too much oil and super super tasty!

Penang Chee Cheong Fun

I’m a huge fan of cheong fun (steamed rice rolls) so I couldn’t this dish of Penang Chee Cheong Fun- pieces of soft cheong fun sitting in a pool of soy based sauce, a sprinkle of fried onions and chilli sauce on the side.

Bak Hut Teh
 
I had been meaning to try bak hut teh in Singapore but didn’t end up having enough time to, I jumped at the chance here. And was so glad I did too- the soup was so strong and flavoursome, unlike the ones I have here in Sydney. 

 

Char Siew Noodles

Char siew noodles which were inspiration for my wantan mee. I can’t say it’s be best noodles I’ve had (I’ve certainly had better in Sydney) but was quite enjoyable.

 

Mango Ice 
 
I’d meant to order ais kacang, but this mango syrup one looked more enticing. Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment as the syrup tasted quite fake, and the canned fruits on top weren’t any good either. 
 

After having filled our stomachs up, we were well energised for a whole day of shopping around Bukit Bintang. But believe me- one day is definitely not enough!

 

Jalan Alor

And who can visit Kuala Lumpur without taking a trip to the famous eat street, Jalan Alor? It’s not as long as we’d imagined, as we took a stroll down the whole street to decide which eatery to eat at.

We couldn’t make a decision even after walking the entire street, so we ended up heading to the restaurant whose staff spent the most time trying to convince us to give it a try. Most of the restaurants along the street similar items on their menu, so I don’t think it makes too much of a difference which one you go to.

Calamansi Lime Sour Plum Juice
 
We’d ordered this exotic green drink at a restaurant the night before, and quickly took a liking to it- definitely one of our favourite drinks in Malaysia. It’s just sour enough so that it’s refreshing, and perfect for the Malaysian heat. 
 
Belacan kangkong

The belacan kangkong is a tasty dish of stir fried water spinach in shrimp paste. It comes with a strong hit of flavour from the shrimp paste, perhaps not the healthiest way to have your greens, but certainly a tasty way!

Satay Chicken and Beef Skewers

It’s hard to miss the aroma of satay skewers when you walk down Jalan Alor, with numerous vendor with huge bundles of meat on sticks, ready for the night’s diners. Since we’re not all that good at deciding when it comes to ordering food, we’re glad the satay skewers comes in a mixed option, with both chicken and beef on a dish. They’re both great, with a smoky char and plenty of flavour from the marinade which pairs well with the peanut sauce it’s served alongside.

Frog Congee

And for something a little different, we try the frog congee, a nice thick and smooth rice porridge that comes in a clay pot. Though the texture and taste doesn’t quite compare to my favourite congee stores in Hong Kong, it was interesting to try frog for the same time though (as predictable as this may sound) it kind of just tasted like chicken.

Stir Fried Lotus Root

More veggies, to get us somewhat closer to the 5 a day goal (which is ridiculously difficult when you’re on holidays). Or moreso because it’s harder to find lotus root in Sydney haha.

Sweet and Sour Pork

The sweet and sour pork was surprisingly good, served with pineapple chunks in a pineapple bowl (in Sydney they’d probably charge you some ridiculous amount of money to serve it in a pineapple!). The pork pieces are incredibly crispy, with the sauce having a nice depth of flavour with a hint of plum.

Cereal Prawns
 

I’d been hearing about cereal prawns for a while (probably reading too many food blogs haha) so I ordered one to find out what it actually is. It wasn’t as good as I’d expected though (probably just this version I’m guessing?), with the thick sauce covering the prawns making it a little sticky and soggy rather than crispy as I’d anticipated. The prawns were huge though!

Oyster Omelette 

 

The oyster omelette was a little different to the type we’re used to, this one being a rather thin crepe-like piece rather than the thick and fluffy deep fried pieces we were used to. It was an interesting difference though, with the thinness adding a little crunch. 

 

 

There’s also plenty of other food vendors along the street, including a couple of fruit shops. Probably not the cheapest place to buy fruits, but they did have quite a lot of fruits I’d never seen before.

 
I tried mangosteen for the first time, which I was surprised to find could be ripped open really easily (I always assumed the shell was really hard). I was also surprised to find that the rambutan tasted a lot like lychees/longans,  though much larger and smoother (and somewhat less sweet though it’s probably just the one I bought). The little brown balls I’m pretty sure aren’t longans but they tasted quite similar…..I don’t suppose anyone knows what they are?
Little Penang Cafe
Mee Jawa 

Although we wiped pretty much all the sight seeing off our itinerary, we couldn’t come to KL without a visit to the twin towers and though we weren’t interested in getting to the top for a view, we were quite interested in the shopping centre below it, and the various eateries within the complex.

Acar Fish Set

There was quite a long line at both the restaurants we wanted to try, so we lined up for both, and eventually got a table at the Little Penang Cafe first so we left the other restaurant for next time. Because it’s so busy during lunches, you can look through the menu and order before you’re given a seat so that when you sit down, you don’t have to wait long for your food to come. Genius idea eh?

Rojak

We attempted to order things that we couldn’t get back in Sydney, so we tried the rojak which was very different to the only version I’ve had in Sydney at Mamak. With chunks of various fruits covered in a thick sweet sauce, it was quite fun to guess what exactly you were eating.

Pie Tee

The most interesting dish was definitely the Pie Tee, little pastry cups with a tasty vegetable and mince filling. The crunchiness of the pastry cups was quite enjoyable, and its contrast with the filling reminded me a little bit of eating Chinese lettuce boats.

Nasi Lemak Penang

 

As the Nasi Lemak Penang was at the top of the Chef’s Recommendations on the menu, we had to give it a try. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was kind of surprised to find that it was pretty much exactly the same as the Nasi Lemaks I get from Malaysian restaurants in Sydney!

 

Ais Kacang

To finish off, we ordered our favourite Malaysian dessert- Ais Kacang. Perhaps we’re too used to the version we have at Mamak in Sydney, we couldn’t say we were too fond of this version which had a particularly heavy rose syrup flavour.

Port Dickson

We could have easily stayed a couple more days in KL, but when looking up accommodation in KL, I came across the Grand Lexis in Port Dickson. Wish an individual pool with every room, and at very affordable prices (around $150AUD for the 4 of us) we decided to make a short side trip out of it.

The resort certainly did not disappoint, with a stunning pool in the outer balcony area, as well as large communal pool outside and plenty to see and do. The resort’s restaurant didn’t seem too great (and as we found out breakfast next morning, it wasn’t), but we didn’t want to drive too far so we went for one of the first restaurants we could find around the area.

Restaurant Chardin Sea View Seafood Village
Chicken JJ’s as a premeal snack!?!?

It’s a large chinese seafood restaurant, though there’s not much of a view at night when it’s mostly pitch black outside.

The menu is your standard Asian seafood fare, nothing too exciting.

We ordered the chilli crabs since we’d enjoyed them so much in Singapore, but here they only had small crabs on the day so its meat wasn’t quite a nice. The sauce was also more spicy without much depth in flavour, leaving us a little disappointed.

Seeing as it was a seafood restaurant, we ordered a couple of other seafood dishes all of which weren’t bad but a little disappointing overall.

There was one did that we particularly enjoyed, and that was the fried tofu in fish fragrant eggplant sauce- silky smooth tofu pieces with a lightly crunchy exterior, swimming in a pool of thick slightly spicy sauce.

 
The fried chicken was also surprisingly good- the combination of crispy battered chicken with papaya, other raw vegetables and a light vinegar based sauce worked really well and was especially perfect for the hot weather.

 

There’s also a huge fish tank at the front of the restaurant with live seafood- plenty of seafood varieties we don’t see much of in Australia!

 

Old Town White Coffee, Berjaya Times Square


We didn’t stay in Port Dickson for long as we didn’t particularly feel like driving around and exploring (and possibly getting lost haha) so we headed back to KL the next day, stopping by Berjaya Times Square for some more shopping! 🙂

When we’re at home, one of our favourite instant coffees we have in the morning is the Old Town White Coffee brand, so when we saw their cafe after we’d finished eating out way down the Taipei market section of the mall, we wasted no time in getting ourselves a seat.

Hot White Coffee

As always, their white coffee is amazing- the in store version moreso than the instant one of course!

We tried a couple of their other drinks too including this lemonade spider which brought me back to my primary school days, as well as an iced version of their coffee. Though I tend to like cold coffees better, I have to say that their hot one was so good I actually liked it more than the cold version!

Satay Chicken Skewers

 

Assam laksa

We ordered the Assam Laksa since we’d been in Malaysia and had yet to try laksa, which we didn’t realise (until it came of course) was a different version of laksa than the curry ones were used to eating. The sourness of the soup was a little strange at first, but I did end up enjoying it!

Since we’d only come mainly to try the drinks, we didn’t have much expectations when it came to the food but we were surprised to find that most of the other noodle dishes we ordered were quite good.

Roti Canai

I was a little disappointed that the roti were more like the store bought frozen ones rather than the freshly made ones.

So to make up for it, I ventured down the foodcourt where there was a store selling the freshly made version!

Taste of Asia Foodcourt, Berjaya Times Square
Roti with Banana

I had my eyes set on the roti cone, but they told they’d run out of it for the day so they suggested the banana roti instead. Can’t say I’m a huge fan of bananas, but the soft flaky roti was definitely a winner in my books!

Teh tarik

They also had pulled tea which was quite a show to watch, although to be honest, I couldn’t taste too much of a different between the normal versions I have and this pulled version.

Durian Pancake

I’d been meaning to try durian in Malaysia, as I’d been told that their durian is nothing like that in Australia. But because I wasn’t exactly planning to buy a whole durian just to give it a try, I bought these cute durian pancakes instead.

Probably not the best idea, since the pancake covers the durian so you can’t see how fresh it looks, but I can’t say that I enjoyed these pancakes haha…..

The Warung,  MidValley Megamall
 

We’d been planning on visiting Madam Kwan’s when we went to Mid Valley megamall seeing as we didn’t get a chance to try it out when we were at the twin towers the other day, but we got a little lost trying to find it (it IS called a Megamall for a reason….haha), so instead, we had lunch at this cute cafe instead.

As we were a little early, we were a little disappointed to find that they were only serving a limited section of their menu for ‘breakfast’ service though this did include a variety of Malaysian favourites like nasi lemak which was great though we were starting to get sick of nasi lemak after having had it pretty much daily throughout the trip.

Roti Canai

We also ordered the roti canai, which although wasn’t made fresh, was still nice and flaky.

Nasi tempang
 

When it was time to start serving the rest of the menu, we went back to the counter to order more food. We had our minds set on the nasi tempang the moment we came, as the tall cones seemed rather odd. They’re pre-made and microwaved when ordered and makes for an interesting meal, with layers of rice and various things including beef floss, sambal and chicken curry.

They also had a selection of cute little cakes/snacks which I tried out of curiosity though I still have not much of a clue what they are!

Michael Jackson

And also out of curiosity, I ordered the Michael Jackson, which turns out to be a drink of soy milk with grass jelly. Definitely an interesting combination (though not quite as interesting as the name haha)!

In Hong Kong, Travel on
October 12, 2014

Travel | What to Eat in Cheung Chau, Hong Kong

Island Day Trip
 

Although I’ve visited Hong Kong numerous times through the years, I have rarely set foot on one of their many islands. Both because I’m not a huge fan of boat as a mode of transport, and also because the one time I do remember visiting an island (Lamma island), it consisted of countless hours of tiresome walking up and down hills. I wasn’t really too keen on visiting another island until a couple of TV shows and stories from relatives who visited convinced us that there was plenty of good food and fun to be had at Cheung Chau, so we decided to make a day trip of it!

 

It always amazes me how convenient transport in HK is. Getting to Cheung Chau is simple- take a train ride to Central, short walk to the pier and then a half to an hour’s ferry ride depending on which type you catch. The total trip takes less than the time it takes for me to get to uni, and costs around half as much as well. Oh Sydney transport…how I dislike you!

Drying Chickens in the Sun
 

The difference between the city and the islands is quite noticeable from the moment you leave the pier. It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere, much less noise and much less crowds. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the locals are too friendly, with an old lady screaming at us to move out of her way (who, might I add, was actually some 50m away from us) when we stopped to take a picture and the constant speeding of small trucks through the shared road without much warning than a hostile beep when you got too close. The shopkeepers were much more pleasant though!

 


Yum Cha

First things first- we needed breakfast!

Although the main road was filled with plenty of dining options, there was nothing we really felt like having for breakfast, so we wandered off to alley behind, running parallel to the main road which had a surprisingly large number of interesting options. We stopped by this old-style restaurant for some yum-cha, and were disappointed to find that it was packed, but luckily, there was additional seating in the adjacent cafe, which was run by the same owners.

漢軒茶樓
Siu Mai

 

Service is minimal, as there is no ordering of food- you simply hop out the front where all the steamers are, choose everything that you want, then the lady will stamp it off and you can bring your food back to your table. 
 
We were really surprised at the quality of the food here- it may not look it, but we unanimously agreed that this was definitely one of the best yum-cha’s we have ever had. The sui mai, one of our yum cha favourites was perfect- the right about of bounce, not too soft and not too dense. 
 
漢軒茶樓
Chive Dumplings

As they didn’t have har gow, we chose the chive dumplings instead, which were also quite enjoyable- generously sized dumplings with a soft, bouncy skin.

漢軒茶樓
Steamed Duck Claws
 
Instead of the classic steamed chicken feet, there are steamed duck claws here, which is great since I like them better anyway 🙂 They’re longer, bonier and have skin that’s not so soft and loose in comparison to chicken feet, and are cooked in a deep, flavoursome lu shui (鹵水)-like sauce. 
 
漢軒茶樓

 

Steamed Meat Balls
 
Although I’ve had many versions of these steamed meat balls in Sydney, none have been quite like these ones, with an bouncy texture, whilst retaining the slight chew of meat as well as the taste. 
 

In addition to the yum cha classics, they also offer some old-school yum cha dishes which don’t seem to be around much nowadays. These are what I like to call the ‘reverse’ sui mai- a small ball of glutinous fried rice, covered in the sui mai wrapping. Sort of like bite sized Lo mai gai (糯米雞).

 
漢軒茶樓
 
If you’re a fan of offal, then you must try the steamed tofu skin with pig stomach. I’m a huge fan of both tofu skin and pig stomach so it was no surprise I loved this- the combination of the too goes surprisingly well together!
 
After this satisfying breakfast, we headed off to find more food (and things to see), making a mental note that we’d come back next time we’re in HK, even if it were only for the yum cha!

Strongly recommended ‘must eat’ in Cheung Chau (if you like yum cha)

The restaurant is called 漢軒茶樓 (no english name) and is located on 58 Hing Lung Back St. Just enter second alley running parallel to the main street, turn right,
keep walk and eventually you should be able to find it!

 
 
We trekked a bit towards the Cheung Po Tsai Cave (one of the main attractions there), but decided against it when we got lost, realised that it was a long walk away, and although reception was good, both maps on iPhone and Android were nothing like what the roads were actually like there. 
 
We strolled around the main tourist area, and stumbled upon these homemade red bean pudding cakes (砵仔糕) by a friendly old man sitting by the waterside. Unfortunately, they weren’t as good as I had hoped, but it was still nice, especially since I hadn’t had some for quite a while!
 
 
We saw racks and racks of neatly lined seafood drying in the sun (I’m guessing the island gets quite a lot of sunshine compared to city!)- not sure if it would pass Aussie food safety standards though haha. 
 
 
There’s plenty of old-school things to be found on this island. These huge tins of cookies were apparently quite common when my parents were young. 
 
 
The beach isn’t a long walk away, and isn’t too busy, although it’s quite small and the water is all littered up. Not sure I’d want to swim in there, though I’d assume it’d be cleaner in summer when there are more people and people actually bother cleaning up.
 
 
On the walk back, there’s a couple of small stores and snack stalls. These japanese style red bean cakes at Hometown members club (which I later learn are quite well known) look quite interesting, though they weren’t as soft and as I’d hoped, probably because they weren’t very fresh (it seemed like a slow business day). 
 

 

There’s also a bar, which belongs to the b&b featured in one of the TVB dramas last year 😀

 

 

And of course we couldn’t come to Chaung Chau without trying their famed mega fish balls. You probably can’t tell from the picture, but they’re pretty big- the size of golf balls. 
 
 
We’d had them before, when someone brought them back from a trip to Cheung Chau, but fresh is so much better! They are nice and tasty, though not quite worth the hype they create. 
 
Mega sized fish balls aren’t particularly hard to find in Cheung Chau- they’re everywhere!
Definitely give it a go if you’re on the island!

Recommended ‘must eat’ in Cheung Chau

There’s plenty of fish ball places around the Island. This one is easiest to find because of its central location and huge signs/posters with celebrities on them. It’s called Welcome Food Court (時來食坊_ and located on G/F, 150 San Hing Back Street, Cheung Chau 長洲新興後街150號地下 and definitely hard to miss. 

 
 
We thought we’d have lunch before heading back home, so we walked around again looking for a place to eat. We see this cute little police car parked in the middle of the road- the local policemen are having their lunch break too, and we figured since they probably know the area best, we couldn’t go wrong trying the restaurant they chose too!

 

Stir Fried Noodles
 
It’s a small HK style cafe with your typical menu items, and we’re lucky enough to step in just before afternoon tea, so we’re able to choose something light from the afternoon tea menu (we were still pretty full from breakfast!). The stir fried noodles are good, with a good breath of wok, and strong taste, though it’s nothing amazing. 
 
 
I quite enjoyed the burger, with the soft fluffy white bun, crunch fried chicken fillet and plenty of mayonnaise. Be prepared to make a mess!
 
 
We saw lots of dumplings being made when we walked in so we ordered a couple to try. They take a while to come though as they are pan fried from raw, but it is worth the wait, as they are pretty delicious dumplings. It actually reminds me a lot of the ones we make at home 😉
 

The restaurant is called 為食堡 and is located on G/F., 10 Kin San Lane, Cheung Chau 長洲建新里10號海景樓B座地下. Turn right along the main street and keep walking down til you get to the intersection at the end.

 

 
And just when we thought we couldn’t fit any more into our stomachs, we came across this bakery selling egg tarts, coconut tarts and other snacks. 
 
 
How cute are these individual new year cakes! I love how everything is organised into beautiful neat rows. 
 
We couldn’t choose everything so we ended up only getting coconut tarts and egg tarts which were just as delicious as they looked!
 

Recommended Snack in Cheung Chau

Eat there on the spot if you have the stomach space or buy some to take home! Definitely try this if you’d like to try some HK style baked foods (they also do the Cheung Chau buns during festival season). The bakery is called 康蘭餅店 (no English name) and is located on 91 Praya St, Cheung Chau 長洲海傍道91號B地下. From the pier, turn right along the main road and walk for around 2 minutes until you see trays of baked goodies!

 

 
I’d been seeing these chip on a stick things all around the island since morning so I decided to grab one before I left. Yes, I know you can get them in Sydney too, but here, you can add your own flavouring onto your chip!. I sprinkled a bit of everything on, but my favourite was the seaweed flavour!
 
 
There’s plenty more snack stores on the way, selling all sorts of things from waffles to shaved ice. As much as we’re tempted to try those as well, we couldn’t really fit much more into our stomachs. Oh well. There’s always next time!