Monday, February 26, 2007

When The Acolyte Meets The Masters

It was with much trepidation that I made my way to Jalan Alor on Friday night. Firstly, I would have to reveal my total ignorance, as I've not been to eat there at nights since 1988, then, I would have to reveal the presence of the food blogging luminaries. I was latest, ...the rest of the food bloggers (floggers) were surprisingly punctual. Apart from Mr Rasa Malaysia, the rest were all roses, and I was the only male flogger.

The domain of photography is no longer that of the male species, as was made obvious during the hawker food crawl. Oh, briefly, a floggers get together and hawker food crawl was organised by the legendary Masak Masak in honor of Rasa Malaysia, from Irvine, OC, who was in town for CNY. Yeah, back to the lovely ladies who carry canggih manggih cameras that can double up as a weapon in case they get accosted in the alley lanes of Jalan Alor.

Now, if the food dishes had been a celebrity, the first name that comes to mind would be Princess Diana. The moment the dish arrived, out came the cameras, snap snap snap....but all without flash, testimony to the seriousness of these people's photography skills. The paparazzi of the food world. So much so, I am disinclined to put up any pics of my own. It's like putting up our SRP (PMR for you younger folks) art paper on display next to Michaelangelo's work.

Our first stop, in the debacherous eating orgy, was Wong Ah Wah, famed for its chicken wings. To complement the wings, we had a plate of very well fried chinese brussel sprouts, (choy tham?), lala steamed in rice wine, I think, and balitong, that very intriguing snail-cum shell like thing that requires lots of suction power.

The famed chicken wings. For pictures (and reviews) of the other foods, do check out my venerable gurus sites, namely, WMW, Lyrical Lemongrass, Rasa Malaysia. Legendary Masak Masak decided to be on "holiday" and watch the minions do the photography instead.....;)

We then, after much discussion, adjourned further up the road, (assuming Jalan Alor is a river flowing downstream, we went upstream), to eat ikan bakar. Now, this photo is put up for its brilliance, but more to show you the food bloggers that were present. Yup, those people walking in the middle of the road comprised of our gang.

While the ikan bakar, char kueh teow and hor chien were good, this dish of sotong was truly outstanding. Yummy to the last bit of onion.

What we have above is a slice of the ikan pari, with some kinda lendir (slime) dripping from it, much like snot from a runny nose. Maybe that was the nose of the fish, and it hadnt finished it's course of antibiotics before it ended up wrapped in a banana leaf.

After that, believe it or not, ( I, who usually loath driving, nearly gagged at the idea at first), we adjourned to eat charcol charred hokkien mee in most insalubrious surroundings, in an alley next to Lai Foong. It was damn good!!!!! The pork soup, deeeevine, and the dark sinful oil slick that we Malaysians call FOOKIN CHAO, was most delectable. Nothing like biting into a crispy piece of pork lard. Twas with a heavy heart, (clogged by cholestrol), and heavy tummy, that we bade farewell and went our separate ways. Mr & Mrs Rasa Malaysia were staying at the Heritage Hotel, at the old Stesen Keretapi. I'll leave it to them to pan the place, with first hand knowledge. Thanks Masak Masak for organising this.

For half of those there, it was but the beginning of a weekend of eating with fellow floggers, for on Saturday night, they congregated at MAKANSUTRA, (the eating equivalent of the Kamasutra, no doubt), a thai place in Plaza Damas. I dropped by for awhile, and managed to meet the mysterious Tonixe of Team BSC, Audrey of Audrey Cooks, (who spearheaded the whole thing), .... err who else did I meet? Teckie, I think. Missed out on meeting Unkaleong, and Babe_KL. Drat, and double drat.

Footnote: I think it's much easier for a lady to take photos at an eating place, as they are perceived to be less of a threat. Also, Male Chefs probably get some kick out of it.....can imagine, if guys were to be snapping away, probably get lambasted with, "weiiii, yeng mutt yer ah?!!!, niaaaama"....

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sarawak Laksa Overdose

Was in Kuching over the weekend for a friend's wedding. Without much inkling as to where exactly to go for the famed Sarawak Laksa, we just walked around the vicinity of our hotel, and stopped at the first coffee shop that offered it. It was 1.30pm, but I think Kuchingers eat very early....everything was nearly sold out, and I think we got what must have been the last two bowls. In retrospect, that one was the best, but I didn't have my camera on me then. Anyway, they all look more or less the same, and actually, all the ones we had were pretty decent.

Another Kuching dish is mee kolok. It refers to an afro kind of noodle, much like wantan mee, except wavy, and is cooked more or less the same way as wantan mee, sans the black sauce. Again, I didn't have my camera on me, except later on when I had the fried mee kolok. It's actually quite tasty.

On our quest to find the single swallow brand of Sarawak Laksa paste, which Boolicious had to track down for me through a series of sms-es, (it's very handy to know the culinary queen and have her phone number), in Chinatown, I even bumped into Mr Ho of Mr Ho's fine foods. He knows me by name, so it was quite amusing to see his surprised look, and mine. We also found this quaint little coffee place, called Bings. I had to have the mars bar cheese cake, after all that hawker fare three consecutive meals, and a nice cup of tea. The mars bar cheesecake was not bad. A bit sweet.

Meanwhile, finding the single swallow brand laksa paste was proving harder than expected. Most places carry the Barretts brand (apparently son of the single swallow fella), Double Swallow, and Eagle. Finally, I managed to find one non descript sundry shop that stocked it, in 600gm packages. To confuse matters, it doesn't say SINGLE SWALLOW.... it actually says layang layang. Further frantic sms-es to boolicious to confirm if the man's name was Tan Yong Him...

Anyway, it turns out it was the correct brand. Apparently the fler's dead oridi, so who's making it? His son sells it under the name Barretts.

Kuching is quite a nice quaint little city. It's quite sprawling, as in the residential areas are quite far apart. We walked from the hotel, down the river esplanade to the Indian Street, and Chinese Street, after the wet market. I'm sure these places exist in KL, but since I'm never on holiday here in KL, I never explore.

I forgot what these fruits are called, above. They loook like some kind of olive. And I've always prided myself on knowing most malaysian produce.

I love these large containers of spice, and beans etc. They remind me of a carefree, long gone era. Somehow scooping it from the plastic containers at Carrefour isn't quite the same. Now, the picture below is a sight to behold. Eugh. Margarine, by the sack load.

So it's true, that urban legend about how you can leave margarine exposed, and no fly worth its salt will come near it, coz of all the fake ingredients. Nor does it melt.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I didn't include in this list, things I'm not sure are vegetables or what.
1. Mushrooms....I love all mushrooms, except the poisonous ones.
2. Beans ...french beans, long beans, angled beans, all the green ones. dont like kidney beans, especially the ones from a tin that they put in these new fancy fandangled ice kacangs.
3. Roots potato a vegetable? corn? carrot? radish? yam? like most of them.
4. Forgot about okra and bitter gourd, until snowdrop mentioned it. Actually I like them both.

So yeah, conclusively, cauliflower is about the only vegetable I dislike. (upon further searching my heart, I realise yeah, I don't hate cauliflower.... its too strong an emotion)

The middle category, where the sawi, kailan etc are, are the indifferent category. Forgot to label that.

I'm not sure if aragula/rocket is a vegetable or a herb.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Finally, Bak Kut Teh, and 5 Things About Me

This group of friends, from the ELR group, have been talking and planning this trip to Klang for Bak Kut Teh for nearly 1½ years. You'd think it was located on the moon, the logistic planning involved in getting there. Finally, it materialised!!! I recall it's the same one that masak masak blogged about around last Chinese New Year. I remember, coz she mentioned the passing of an uncle, and I also had a grand uncle who passed away during that time. Didn't know her yet at the time though, but did wonder if it was the same uncle.

Teluk Pulai is hog heaven. There are many bak kut teh and an absolutely orgasmic char siew place as well. Above pic is one of them, but not the one we went to.

Ah, this is the one we went to, I believe the same one blogged about by Boolicious. By the time I parked, the claypots had almost arrived. To my delight one pot had offal, and spare parts. I lurve spare parts.

This is really bad photography, I know. What to do, blame the camera lah. In any case, I wasn't gonna "pretend" to be artistic, as amongst our midst was a professional photographer, who actually captured the first pictures of the 2004 tsumani in phuket. (or was it 2005) It would be like trying to bake for Nigella Lawson. Anyway, complemented by the yummy char siew (actually I am very thin skinned....dont dare snap away prolificly like other food bloggers, coz lazy to explain why I'm taking pics) it was a fantastic brunch.

Meanwhile, what did I do with the cake that was meant for Jackson Kah? I used it up and turned it into a coffee walnut cream cake for my cell group. So, I've still got lots of mascarporne cheese lying around at home.

Strange right, without any reference, there's no perspective to the size of the cake. It's only 5" diameter, but looks big here.

Also, apparently I've been tagged by Rasa malaysia. I'm not really familiar with this blog talk, but according to RM, it's like a chain letter, minus the curses that come along with it if you don't forward it to 10 others.

5 things about me.

1. I hate cauliflower. There's not much I don't eat, but for some reason, I hate cauliflower. I'd eat it if absolutely no choice, but it ranks on the bottommost rung of my least favourite vegetables.

2. Beneath this chubby exterior, is a person who's known pain and hardship. I did a 3 year stint in the Malaysian Army, paying back my scholarship. (bond was 10 years, but paid back the rest). This of course, was 40 pounds ago. I also spent two years, forms 4 & 5 in Royal Military College....more hardship.

3. After I left the army, I became a male model for a local brand of underwear.....

3. Heh heh, kidding... I've got hypertension. Started on meds last year.

4. I am exceedinly short fused, and have a bad temper. I hate eating places that don't serve water, and force you to buy imported mineral water. I am likely to kick up a bigggg scene.

5. I started toying around in the kitchen after I finished my part time MBA in UM...suddenly having a lot of time on my hands. (when you attend classes 2-3 times a week, at night, the sudden liberation can be quite a withdrawal symptom thing). Stupidly ambitious, I think one of my first experiments was apple pie. Friends were polite.

So, that's me. Am I supposed to pass this on?

But everyone's been covered oridi on Rasa Malaysia's blog, at least everyone who reads this.

okay, I tag:
1. That fler in Bangkok, who is counting the days to return to his sweetheart here.
2. The other fler in Klang... who is too busy to eat tiramisu.
3. The lady in Hong Kong who got me into this whole blogging thing in the first place.
4. That mysterious Lady In Red, at the Isthmus Martell Dinner.
5. Well, ideally, it'll be Nigella Lawson. Can someone pass the message to her.

Now, Rasa Malaysia, what do I do?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Book Valley Visit

Sigh, being the "good friend" that I am, despite being fong fei kei-ed at the last minute, upon his insistence, I still made my way to klang for a quick breakfast at his newly opened bookshop and cafe.

This is the famous nasi lemak klang that was featured in his blog.

The nasi lemak was very tasty, but it the rice was a bit too wet, (I like mine dry and fluffy), and the condiments a bit oily. Then again, I guess it IS nasi lemak, so it's like eating ice cream and expecting the benefits of a salad, to expect anything else.

70% of the time that I was there, our intrepid entrepreneur was in this pose:

This fruit tea is apparently their specialty, coz I was gonna order ginseng coffee, when he vetoed my order.

Anyway, shortly after finishing my nasi lemak, I was more or less shoo-ed out, to make way for his next batch of guests... and was relegated to browsing around the bookshop. I have to say, it is chinese book heaven....not much good for an illiterate like me. They also stock an impressive variety of imported IQ enhancing games for children, which are way beyong my budget. Apparently Klang people are very generous when it comes to kid's education and welfare. (odd, I always thought they were in same league as Penangites in terms of wallet tightness).

I bought a couple of mandarin vocabulary books, for the kids, (it looks like we all hope our children will grow up and do business in China), some stationery for myself, and was on my way. Thanks Mr Kah for gracing me with your precious precious time, all of 10 minutes.