Friday, October 31, 2008

4 meals in Penang

I had a hit-list for my most recent trip back to Penang - it came up to the proportion of about 10 meals in less than 2 days - not that impossible, no? But sadly, I squeezed in no more than 4 and a half.

Lunch on day one was at Mom's Kitchen, Tanjung Bungah. Thai food's a must on any break, in Thailand or Poland. This place came with strong recommendations from Fat Tulip but it fell way, way short of expectations.

Somtum - purely perfunctory.

Seafood tomyam - watery, bland, more canned mushrooms than seafood.

We had ordered this under the impression that it was Kai Yad Sai (pork stuffed omelette) and it turned out like an omelette one would blindly fry up in stupor for some homemade hangover nosh. Like, WTF? Needless to say, I am not going back to Mom's Kitchen.

Dinner was a visit to good old Yaw's (formerly Top Top) - Chicken Minced! I had been drooling over pictures recently from a handful of Penang blogs that I simply had to have it!

Supper, after copious amount of alcohol at MS', at Intan Nasi Lemak in Taman Free School. Carbs after midnight, gahhhh! I am such a gangster when I'm drunk!

This place opens only late at night and attracts a healthy crowd of those who simply cannot wait until the break of dawn for their nasi lemak fix. The makcik is very generous with her ikan bilis, piles it on your plate like it's going out of fashion.

And finally, what's a trip back without some home-cooked goodies? Mom's the best!

Mui choi kau yuk (stewed pork with preserved vegetables). Luscious!

Giant tiger prawns, with just a hint of salt and garlic

Sambal petai with an inordinate amount of tamarind juice. Stinkin' lovely!

And that's a wrap! Till next time, when the list gets revisited again...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tea for Two, Bangsar

There are so many places serving bad, overpriced food that I'm surprised our powers-that-be have not concocted an Ops something or rather to make sure us honest citizens are not subjected to any more of that kind of nonsense.

I really wanted this to be good. Really really. But it wasn't. I've always had a soft spot for the Bangkung area of Bangsar - the limited crop of outlets here has never failed before. And we were looking for someplace quiet and non-threatening for a good catch-up so we arrived at Tea for Two and thought, why not.

The place was extremely quiet for a Saturday night - no more than three tables occupied - alarm bell really, seeing that neighbouring Cava and Opus were packed to the brim. The waiter who served us was courteous and helpful, and indulged in our indecision over whether or not to drink.

To drink it was, and we ordered a jug of Sangria on the promise that it was one of the house specials. It arrived in a BEER jug, an ominous sign of things to come.

It had wine, it had the customary fruit slices, and by god, it even had a faint whiff of alcohol but it was too little of everything to pass off as anything more than fruit punch.

Mellie establishing a relationship with the Sangria - pained but perservering...

We sent it back and to be fair, they were easily obliging with topping up on the lethal stuff. So the Sangria ended up faring better than everything else that awaited us.

Garlic bread started us off. This was fine, but not the sort of orgasmic garlic bread that could've saved this meal.

Mellie went for the red golden fish dish (not sure what the actual "Modern Continental" name was). The sea bass was fresh but the freshness was completely drowned out by the salt-laden tomato-based sauce that came with it. The pretty big white plate didn't help a notch.

My pepper mango chicken - sounds pretty special right? Super fusion right? Well it's nothing the uncle at the neighbourhood Western food hawker stall can't accomplish blindfolded - fatty chicken thigh meat grilled (and dare I venture, a tad undercooked?), black pepper overkill, drizzled with a mango sauce that tasted bottled at best.

We're not against simple hawker-standard food, just paying restaurant prices for essentially prettied up hawker food. The Sangria (our enhanced version) kept it on the brink of disaster, as did the good company and the promise of "chow meen seen" at Tengkat Tong Shin next.

Too bad, really, given the ace location and the very illustrious neighbours.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sizzling Korean at Daorae Korean BBQ, Desa Sri Hartamas

There's something particularly comforting about the prospect of sizzling meat on a rainy Friday night after the working week. It was this anticipation that drove us to seek out Daorae Korean BBQ at Desa Sri Hartamas.

Upon entry to the dining area of the restaurant on the first floor, I was struck by how busy the place seemed. Obviously, the comfort factor of Korean BBQ at the end of the working week applied to many others. The place was also hosting a big group of extremely gregarious Korean students, fuelled steadily by bottles and bottles of soju. There was an inordinate number of staff on the floor, who moved in uniform swift proficiency. Service was obviously taken seriously around here.

We ordered two servings of meat, which granted us unlimited flow of panchan dishes. I believe we had 9 dishes that night, a few of which we topped up.

Assortment of kimchi and bean sprouts...

... more fibrous vegies...
... freaky pink salad dressing which I avoided, long beans and my very favourite, Korean hot pickled green chillies! I could pop this in my mouth all day, perfect for working through weekend movie marathons!

Ssamjang (mix of gochujang and soybean paste) - customary Korean BBQ accompaniment and indicator of the rest of the fare.

One order of Hanbang Dweji Wang Galbi - hand-filetted pork ribs in Korean ginseng, sweet soy sauce and herb extract (RM35). The marinade really worked wonders; this was tender and flavour-packed, and quite quite splendid.

One order of Dak Gal Bi - chicken in hot chilli sauce (RM27). Definitely one of the best ways to consume poultry!

We also ordered Dolsot Bibim Bab (RM18) - this was taken after the efficient wait staff had mixed everything in, including a handsome amount of gochujang. While I'm completely bowled over by the energy of the place and the BBQ dishes, the Bibimbab was definitely veering to the mediocre. I suppose this is a BBQ joint after all, so it would be silly to come here and just fill up on carbs!
After we struggled to finish all that meat, rice and beer, we got some help to pull us out of our stupor, in the form of complimentary fruit. Those weren't just any old grapes, they were bona fide fresh blackcurrants! We really enjoyed these, although I hadn't expected the flesh to turn out so... glutinous.

The restaurant is well-ventilated, and they are unstinting in mid-meal grill plate changes - two key must-haves at Korean BBQ joints. I'd definitely tag this as the go-to place if I'm after a good, wholesome, meaty affair. The restaurant is located in Plaza Crystalville, on the same row as Maybank. They also have other outlets around the Klang Valley as well.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quintessential Penang, Kafe Kheng Pin, Penang Road

There are simply not enough eating hours, even over a super-long weekend to get my fill of Penang. Thankfully, I have a trusted eating companion in Fat Tulip who is keen on sharing and caring, so we get to sample more variety.
The second day of Raya saw us visiting Kheng Pin, a kopitiam on Penang Road that clearly exemplifies an evergreen oldie but goodie. This place has only a handful of stalls, all of them serving GREAT fare.
We started with the customary plate of loh bak. Granted, it's 9 in the morning and all that grease is probably not the best way to start the day but it's a holiday! And look at everyone else in the kopitiam, tucking in happily! An assortment of deep-fried goodies, a bit of century egg, all dunked in the thick savoury goodness of chilli and loh sauce. Close-up of loh bak - I am not a huge fan of loh bak but this one is simply irresistible, comprising chunkier pork meat than the other standard loh baks around town. I am also awed by the uncle who hovers over the cauldron of boiling hot oil for hours on end, hardly breaking a sweat. He was at it in the morning and when we returned after noon to take away chicken rice for lunch, he was still working it, cool as the cucumber that he serves with his loh bak.

Char Koay Teow with duck egg, and plenty of juicy prawns. This is Penang on a plate!

I also ordered the Wantan mee, having spied the extended queue and the waiting time, always a good sign. And I wasn't disappointed! The wantans were fat and juicy, the noodles drenched in the familiar concoction of dark soy and lard oil. Big ups!

Kafe Kheng Pin is quite the institution so any self-respecting foodie would know where it is. It's located on the corner of Sri Bahari Road and Penang Road. I can't wait to go back!