Friday, July 30, 2010

Take Five from Spice, Surabaya in Sunway Mentari

Found myself at the receiving end of a thorougly unexpected and isolated ambrosial weekend, thanks to a perplexing benefactor. To complement the activities which yielded some serious Q&As of this sticky organ we call the heart, it made sense to take time out to drive to Indon joint Surabaya in the unfamiliar territory of Sunway Mentari to challenge our threshold for spice.

The Lontong Cap Gomeh was a jerky start to Surabaya's liberal lashings of nerve-numbing chillies. The chicken stew, cushioned by dense rice cakes and sliced root vegetables were a winning and reassuring broth in milky, nutty broth.

I relied on my benefactor's authority to weed out what was good on the menu based on an illustrious outing here not long after it opened. He was generous with his praise for the Gado Gado and he wasn't far off. The combination of just-blanched vegetables enveloped in a disarming creamy peanut dressing, best paired with REALLY hot chilli sauce.

Also highly recommended was the Cumi Goreng. It arrived a rather modest serving of golden brown battered squid in sliced red chillies and garlic. The squid rings were scrumptious, although he felt that it was a step down from what sold Surabaya at his first visit.

He also ordered the Mi Goreng Surabaya, which was truthfully, a bit of a disaster. It looked like mamak mi goreng and tasted no better than a mediocre midnight version, compensated only with more chillies. Definitely not for delicate gastrointestinal systems - we left most of it to waste.

With the tastebud massacre, we were only too happy to neutralise with plenty of liquids. Surabaya's beverage menu is a Technicolour dream, featuring a drink in every shade of the rainbow. We had the Yellow Dennis, a pineapple, lychee and longan brew and the agreeable pink Red Stop, a thirst-quenching blend of watermelon, strawberries and tomatoes.

And so with our hunger placated and our tastebuds anaesthesised by the profusion of spice, we skipped out on the rain-washed roads and headed back to our elusive (one time only!) weekend pilgrimage of pleasure and promise.

Resto Surabaya
No. 18-1, Jalan PJS 8/2
Dataran Mentari Sunway
46150 KL

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bowl-me-over Breakfast in Bangkok

Bangkok's been a foolproof escape for the longest time - proximity's a dream, the city's a glorious mess, the food binges always magnificent, the alcohol cheap and flowing. It was timely that in the depth of KL ennui, a trip to the city that had previously fixed it all was planned and administered.

Except, this time, it didn't fix it all. The travel time took longer than anticipated, thanks to Air Asia's infamous delay, we found ourselves in the thick of Sukhumvit disorientated and disappointed, we didn't drink or eat anything mind-blowing and we engaged in an absolutely dreadful exercise of weeding out our respective skeletons in the closet.

But let us not discount Bangkok as a weekend getaway by dwelling on what didn't work.

One of the few things that did work this time around was this:

"Waitfor" breakfast noodles at Chatuchak: Devillishly dark herbal chicken noodle soup to signal the start of an acquistion spree.

Two chunks of well marinated, tender thigh chicken meat, swilling in an almost musical broth singing praises for the Saturday morning.

Check it. The location's somewhat challenging (the number on the top left corner of the signboard indicates 21, 273, 28/3) but it's on the main outer stretch, but if you look hard enough, it's there.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Return of Rationale, Saifon Thai

Rationale, how I've missed you! I have been hiding in my nostalgic soft-focus cloak of despair while you, my friend, have escaped me in harsh, functional reality.

So having finally come to grips with the fact that I had been oblivious to some jarringly bad elements of a gig turned sour, preferring instead to assume foetal position of idealized despair, I now seek you out, face to face, beyond my comfort zone.

Welcome to Pandan Indah!

We had been disillusioned for a while with the Thai offerings in our neighbouring areas so Toto gamely suggested we did what any reasonable tomyam-deprived fellow would do - venture elsewhere. We hit up Pandan Indah, a fairly foreign expanse and thanks to his competent use of Garmin, we found ourselves in this bustling, but not particularly sexy neighbourhood.

We had read plenty about Baan Nok seated above the Thai mini-market and when we sought out the staff manning the noodle stall and BBQ pit outside the minimart, we were informed that Baan Nok had, in fact, moved next door to spanking new premises and renamed Saifon Thai.

Now we had made this journey for tomyam so imagine our collective anguish when we entered the air-conditioned and empty new space and then told there was NO tomyam served at lunch! Wait staff informed it was "too early, tomyam only from 3PM." Of course, there was the option of leaving and heading somewhere else with tomyam but we concurred with logic - it was 1PM, we were starving and also curious about the commotion going on outside.

The BBQ pit was a perfectly rational Plan B - an array of pre-marinated meats beckoned, including pork and that's always a start to wonderful things. We grabbed a pork cutlet and a minced pork skewer and the grill master brought us halfway back to Siam. Not the best I've had - felt the pork was too tough and could've sat in the marinade a while longer.

On the other hand, the BBQ chicken thigh delivered redemption. Transported us back to the side streets of Bangkok where the beer flowed free and the meat proudly basted in dignity.

The rice noodles in soup reminded us of happier times, stumbling drunk down Rambutri, all caution thrown to the wind and seeking the warmth and nourishment of a bowl or two before hitting the sheets. It tasted just as good, if not better, lucid and sober.

The Som Tam was decent too and I liked that they used Thai Eggplant (Makuea Praow) here. The level of spice and zest was a sensible balance. They could've sliced the vegetables a wee bit thinner though - I felt like a goat chomping on these fibrous chunks!

We left the chicken wings to the end when were stuffed and had to contend with our friend Rationale once again. Took them away, so Toto had the privilege of enjoying this while watching some football match or another.

We would have to come back for the tomyam and the rest of the interesting items on the menu. Despite the bizarre tomyam serving times, Saifon Thai turned out to be a perfectly sensible choice, a paragon in the heart of alien surroundings for a clear-headed reunion with rhyme and reason.

Saifon Thai
43A, Jalan Pandan Indah 4/6B
Pandan Indah
55100 Kuala Lumpur