Monday, 20 January 2020

Last Christmas.....

Last Christmas.....I gave you my heart....heheh, not quite.  It's not about the song Last Christmas by George Michael@Wham....or the holiday movie Last Christmas starring the hottest Malaysian actor right now, Henry Golding (hubba hubba!).  I'm referring to What I Ate Last Christmas (ho ho ho!).  P/S: By the way, this isn't one of my intended posts (promised in my farewell post) but a summary-kind-of post of what I've been up to (or, more specifically, what I've been eating during the year end holiday season).  I guess you could say I have a blogging itch to scratch. :O

But, huh?  I bet you're wondering why there are shots of Christmas trees instead of places.  I just wanted to see if you can recognise the place and the food (or the tree and the surroundings)...hihihi! ;)  You might if you've followed my blog long enough since they're places I've been to and have written about before.  Want to play a little trivia game? ^_~

Venue 1 is a convenient stopover to get my coffee fix
(though the photo of this tree is from my archives).

Although the food isn't great, the coffee is.  If you're looking for something simple like a soup or a sandwich, then the place is a possibility.  I'd get myself either a mushroom or pumpkin soup or a smoked chicken ham or tuna egg sandwich for a light meal with a glass or cup of coffee.

Venue 2 is a usual place for family gatherings.

Would you believe it that on Christmas Day itself, we had a Chinese meal this year for a change.  I remember there were two set meals to choose from that cost RM55 per person (pretty decent price for an 8-course meal).  Note that the names of the dishes are concocted by me (I didn't bother to snapshot the menu for their actual names since I wasn't planning to write a post on it).

Starter of Four Combination Platter (a play on dim sum varieties)
Fish Lips Soup with Crabmeat
Stir-Fried Chicken with Dried Chillies (pretty similar in taste to kung pao-style chicken)
Poached Prawns (in a light broth with subtle hints of Chinese herbs of dong guai & kei chee, a bit like drunken prawns but a lot less rice wine)
Braised Tofu with Mushrooms & Sugar Snap Peas
A plain vegetable dish of Stewed Broccoli (served separately)
Fried Rice with Almonds & Raisins (always good)
Chilled Sea Coconut with Lychee & Longan (among my least favoured desserts)

Venue 3 is one I wouldn't expect you to guess correctly since it's a new entry (as in I've not written a blog post on it) + the tree is obviously not even from the venue (I didn't see one or I was too preoccupied with the food to notice one...haha!).  So I used another tree, within walking distance from the venue, instead when we went on a walkabout (after dinner) seeking a place for drinks.  Ok-lah, maybe this one isn't fair at all but do know that this tree is a very recognisable and iconic one, so some of you would probably recognise it.

Get ready to fall into a see food coma's seafood everywhere you look....from live mud crabs to flower crabs, lobsters to yabbies, fresh water prawns to tiger prawns, bamboo clams to clams, black mussels to green musselsfreshly shucked oysters to scallops, steamed whole fish to salt crusted baked whole fish and ready-to-eat lightly steamed baby lobsters, king crab legs, flower crabs & prawns.

Before you overdose on seafood, there are also non-seafood items to keep your cholesterol in check from roast turkey to roasted beef, sushi to tempura, pasta to live action noodle stations...and more!  P/S: Even though I'm supposed to be in 'retirement' mode, I feel compelled to write a post on this since I learned of 'something' (that I feel I should share with my readers) since it wasn't mentioned by any of the food blogs that reviewed this place. >_<

Venue 4 is an easy guess as I've been eating here countless times.

For their warmly, comforting rice bowls, first and foremost, though the rice nor the soup was all that warm on this visit (hopefully this was one of those off days).  Not only that but the unagi also seems to be shrinking in size (most top photo was the latest)! T_T  I can't show you more photos of what I ate otherwise it'd be an even easier guess if I did.

Venue 5 is a place I was introduced to only recently.

We were here for a celebration of some sort...and we feasted on truffle fries, beef ragu pasta, smoked duck spaghetti, Jamaican jerk chicken pizza, grilled red snapper and roast chicken.  My favourite turned out to be the dish I ordered.....the fish.  If I ain't too lazy, I might just write about this one too.  We'll see. ^_*

So, how many of the Christmas trees looked familiar to you?  Or how many places do you think you've guessed right?  And did you do it without referring back to my old posts? ;)

P/S: I think I should defer publishing the guesses to give those (my usual commenters-lah) who wish to participate in this little trivia of mine (just for the fun of it) an equal chance.  But, sorry, there won't be any prizes for guessing right except the personal gratification of an all-correct answer....and my congrats...kekeke! :D  Happy guessing!!

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Favourite Eats of 2019

It's a new year.....a new decade....and a new beginning!  Hi, I'm b...a..c....k!  Did you miss me?  You did?......aww, that's great. ^.^  No?...oh well. :'(

Anyway, I've returned to publish one of my round-up posts that I promised (in my farewell post) just because it has been habitually done every year since I first started this blog at the end of 2013.  And by that, I mean I've been putting out summaries of my favourite eats every year, so here comes my final one for food I ate in 2019.

Last year, being the final leg of my blogging journey, I've been eating notably at mostly familiar places, so there aren't that many new eats really.  So the 2019 list has been condensed into just one post unlike in previous years (where I needed three, sometimes four, separate posts to complete listing them)! O_o

This place seems to offer many of the cha chaan teng delights we've come to know but the food also has a distinctive local taste.  The texture of their wonton noodles, the shrimp roe, soup wontons, luncheon meat and milk tea make them instinctively Hong Kong-influenced.

But the flavours of their char siew, Hakka char yoke (braised pork belly) and sweet & sour fish made me relate to their more local flavours.

Black Man Nasi Lemak @ Kepong

This nasi lemak stall (which started out as a roadside stall) deserves my affection as it's among the few Chinese nasi lemak stalls that can stand tall among the more favoured Malay-style nasi lemak.  From their signature lemongrass pork chop (which my husband had) and popular spicy pork sambal to their chicken rendang and curried potatoes (which I had), they're a must-try for non-halal nasi lemak fans.

I especially enjoyed their choy poh (preserved radish) sambal cooked with har mai (dried prawns).  Note that they've relocated and are now plying their business at No 34G Vista Magna Block E, Jalan Prima 1, Metro Prima Kepong (012-376 7574).

By far the nearest coffee place to me that's worthy of a stopover for a good cup (or glass) of coffee..and that's exactly how it should be treated, not as a cafe serving hot food as they can only do so much without a proper kitchen.

So, stick with simple, well toasted sourdough sandwiches (beef, chicken ham or tuna egg) or adequately thick, creamy soups (pumpkin or mushroom) here and you should be sufficiently pleased.

It's obvious from their name that they are a rice dumpling specialist.  For me, they aren't my top favourite place to get bak chang but still decent enough as the glutinous rice is well cooked for that really soft texture that I like.  I just wished they would use better quality salted egg yolks.

Besides their signature dumplings, they offer a variety of rice dishes, noodles, porridge, dessert and side dishes for your main meals.  What got me on board were their more unique dishes (compared to other places) with a homemade taste.  I especially like their rather ching fish ball noodles and sang yue (snakehead/haruan) porridge but it's their side dishes, like Ah Ma taufu, fried chicken wings and meat rolls, that cemented me as a fan.

Kuey Teow Soup @ Soon Lee Coffee Shop, PJ Old Town

If you don't already know what you should order here, just look around at the tables and you'll know instinctively what you should be eating + it's obviously the busiest stall in this coffee shop.  This bowl of kuey teow soup is a cross between kai see hor fun (shredded chicken kuey teow) and fish ball noodles with the addition of pork slices.

What makes this bowl of noodles top-notch is the gorgeous-tasting broth (so comforting and yummy) and I (of course) adore the fact that it's made more fragrant with not one but two of the condiments I hold most dear (hehe!)...crispy (and insanely fresh) fried pork lard and garlic.

You won't mind waking up to this sunshine-filled cafe which will charm you with its ambience, food and service.  Get yourself some bangers, salt beef, sarsi-glazed beef bacon or mushrooms...and crown that with a beautifully poached egg to start your day.  It's worth your while to rise and shine to a cup of coffee here.

There aren't many good fried Hokkien mee in my area (or I've not found them yet).  The ones that I used to frequent, their standards have dropped since they tasked it to their foreign workers to do the cooking.  So I googled and found this place serving good Hokkien mee and other fried noodles that are pleasantly tasty enough.

But the best thing here is still the fried Hokkien mee which offers a not-too-wet and not-too-dry consistency...and a surprisingly good, full of wok hei fried cabbage on the side too.

Fish Ball Noodles @ Red Leaf, Jalan Loke Yew

This coffee shop houses my current top pick for prawn noodles...and that's what I always have when I come here.  But on a very rare occasion that I did not, I stumbled upon a good fish ball noodle accidentally.

Coz this one came with excellent fish skin wantans (one of my favourite things to eat) but do note that this is not a standard ingredient in their bowl of fish ball noodles (just like elsewhere), so remember to specifically ask for the fish skin wantans as add-ons.

A new entrant that will compete for your 'affection' in the steakhouse market is Emily's with its relatively small menu that's completely steak-focussed with limited options of other proteins.

But the affordably-priced steaks and generously-sized portions (including the sides of chips, peas & salad) more than make up for it.  Have it with their signature homemade black pepper sauce or, better still, in their rich creamy pepper sauce (my preferred choice).

HK Porky Noodle House @ Pandan Indah

This pork noodle gets the nod for its plentiful porky liew like their thickly-cut, properly-cooked and slightly-still-bloody liver, twice-as-long intestines (compared to elsewhere) and big-sized chunks of minced pork.

But, most of all, for the inclusion of pig stomach (which is among one of my favourite pork innards) and the choice of mixian noodles (both of which you don't usually find in other pork noodles) even though the cloudy broth may not be among my most-adored as it's a bit too robustly-flavoured for me.  I prefer the seafood version with prawns and squid as the broth has a hint of sweetness and lightness to it.

So, that's very short & sweet list (though there's nothing sweet really...hehe!).  As you can see, most of them are conveniently located near me.  It only goes to show people are usually drawn to or choose places that are geographically convenient for them. ^_*

*If you wish to check out some of my previous memorable eats throughout my food journey (though some are sadly not with us anymore), you can find them listed in Blog Categories under My Favourites.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

It's time to call it a day.....

Today marks the sixth year anniversary of my blog.....and with that I've reached my journey's end.  Since announcing in a blog post about a year ago the start of the final leg of my blogging journey, it has taken a year to get to this point but I'm finally here.

The blog has slowed down considerably since the start of the year (from a high of four posts previously to a low of one post a week currently) as I had already decided earlier in the year to bring it to a close by year's end.  Some things have changed and I've been eating more at home, not eating out as much and going to the same places when I do, so it makes sense that it's the right time to stop.  I'm not sure if it'll be a complete stop but I do know it's the end of regular blogging.

But before I bid adieu..........

To the passionate and committed bloggers I've come to 'know' and respect, many thanks for your kind words and notes of encouragement on many of my blog posts.  You've given me more pats on my back than friends and family ever did (most of whom don't even follow my blog).  I'm privileged to have learned from my fellow bloggers and share my thoughts on food with you.  So, keep writing (you're doing a splendid job) and I'll keep reading (even if you don't see me commenting as often).

To my loyal readers, I'm grateful for your support and for following my blog all these years.  I am indeed humbled you found my posts worthy of your time.

Saying goodbye to a blog I've nurtured for the past 6 years is harder than I thought...but, hey, life goes on.....I relish the freedom of eating what I want to eat (and not what I want to blog about) at the same old same old places.  I relish the freedom of not having to take food photos or stop people from eating first (which sometimes makes me feel I'm intruding on their meal).  And I relish the freedom of not having a writing schedule to keep up with. ^o^

But before I call it quits, there are still a couple of round-up posts in my draft folder that I'll want to finish off (you can't get rid of me just yet...hehe!).  In between those, I'll be enjoying my coffee...and my retirement....hopefully (either that or I could be bored out of my wits with no project to keep me sane occupied).

I wonder if I can stay away from blogging altogether.  If I can't...and that blogging itch comes back, you may see some random (summary-kind-of) posts from me one day yet.

But for now, I feel jaded and tired...and need to disappear to recharge my batteries,
so this is farewell....but I'll probably be back someday, hopefully.
Just not now,
just not regularly,
just not sure when.
Till then.....all the best...enjoy life....and try not to miss me too much, eh? ^_~

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

How many ways can you eat pork lard?

Ah, pork lard (or chee yau char).....crispy little nuggets of pure of the most unhealthy things on earth one can eat....but also one of the most satisfying! :D  I've not come across someone who doesn't like pork lard.....yet.

In a western-style dish, the chef would always try to put a crispy element on the plate to provide a textural contrast to the palate.  And I guess, in the same way, the Chinese do that too...with pork lard! ;D

Well, we don't usually consume it on its own (not that I say you can't).  It's usually a condiment that we have with something else to amp up the flavours of the dish even more.

#1 - With Rice

Of course the very first way to have it is just with plain rice.  I've heard some bak kut teh places serve pork lard rice that way (but I've not been fortunate enough to encounter such BKT shops...but then I don't eat much BKT), so my pork lard rice experience has always been with other goodies in the rice bowl as well.

#2 - With Pork Noodles

Probably one of the most common noodles that comes with pork lard is pork noodles.  Well, since it's a bowl with all sorts of porky ingredients, it might as well include crispy pork lard too. ^o^

#3 - With Fried Hokkien Mee

What is fried Hokkien mee without pork lard?  So this is certainly the other noodle that you'd most commonly find served with pork lard...and one that'll get you the most.  Some stalls top their fried noodles with more pork lard (maybe to make it more visible) though I can't say I'm a fan of that.

I prefer my pork lard to be tossed with the noodles as it's somehow much tastier that way to me...coated in the dark sauce and all.  That could be the reason why I don't usually request (or pay) for additional pork lard (when it comes to fried Hokkien mee) just in case it comes sprinkled on top.  

#4 - With Kuey Teow Soup

Whether it's kuey teow soup or fish ball noodles, you can expect a sprinkling of fried garlic or pork lard (or, even better, both) on top.

While a Penang-style kueh teow th'ng might come with pork innards and coagulated pig blood (or with duck meat and blood).

#5 - With Nasi Lemak

We've all eaten nasi lemak, be it Malay or Chinese-style ones, but have you had one where the sambal contains pork lard? ;)  Well, they simply make that by stirring in some crispy pork lard into a sambal of onions and chillies...extra yum :)

#6 - With Char Kway Teow

A good char kway teow needs pork lard oil and crispy pork lard to make the noodles fragrant although this is probably the dish that comes with the least pork lard (CKT sellers are very stingy with it while some don't even have it)! >_<

#7 - With Prawn Mee

Pork lard with prawn mee was the most surprising for me coz it's kinda weird if you ask me.  Predominantly, it isn't usual at all for pork lard to be served with prawn mee.  I've only encountered such a case in one prawn mee though.

#8 - With Wantan Mee

It's also possible to expect dry wantan mee to come with a few pork lard crisps since the dark sauce + oil concoction used to toss with the noodles may be made with pork lard oil for a more flavourful sauce.

Not only does it happen with local-style wantan mee, you may find some crispy pork lard hidden among the noodles of a Hong Kong-style one with shrimp roe too.

#9 - With Penang Koay Chap

Again, similar to pork noodles, since the dish is already made up of pork belly and innards, you might as well include some pork lard to go along with it.

#10 - With Pasta

But pork lard with pasta is something quite let this be known that this is a Malaysian-ised version of pasta, of course (otherwise westerners' eyes will certainly pop out of their socket thinking we 'desecrated' their pasta dish).

#11 - With Beef Noodles

Even beef noodles are getting in on the action by adding pork lard crisps to their dry lai fun noodles.  Well, if you can't beat them, you might as well join them.

#12 - With Sam Kan Chong Noodles

You won't find many sam kan chong noodles serving it with pork lard...only a few.  This one is unique as it's also uncommon to serve it with fried intestines! :P

#13 - With Mee Pok

When it comes to mee pok (or bak chor mee), pork lard croutons make or break the dish since the noodles are tossed in a subtle (or bland to some) sauce of vinegar and oil, so it certainly needs the pork lard to amp up the flavours.

#14 - With Kai See Hor Fun

In a bowl of kai see hor fun (just like fish ball noodles), you may find it served with some fried pork lard and garlic too.

#15 - Or just about with any dry noodles

Basically, you can expect to find pork lard crisps in just about a bowl of dry noodles of any kind seeing that dry noodles are usually tossed in a mixture of oil (or pork lard oil) and dark soy sauce.

#16 - With Vegetables

Even vegetables have jumped on the bandwagon by serving them with pork lard croutons.  Not that I'm complaining.

#16.1 - With Kangkung

#16.2 - With Choy Sum

#16.3 - With Cabbage

I think it works best with stir-fried vegetables to make it really tasty...and not with blanched vegetables.  The one paired with cabbage turned out to be the one I enjoyed the most.

Pork lard has become so popular that food vendors have become creative to come up with different flavours these days such as garlic, curry, salted egg, malattom yum, BBQ, belacan, (even) cheese (!) and more.  It's even rumoured that pork lard (much like shortening) makes pastries (think egg tarts) and cookies extra crumbly...and delicious. ^_~

Praise the Lard...haha! ^.^  Love them.....or hate them!  If you're the former...what's your favourite way to eat them?  And haters...maybe you're just trying to convince yourself (unsuccessfully) that you don't like them...kekeke! ;)  

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