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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bites: Mary St. Bakery @ Highgate

Following the lead of several bloggers such as the Queen of Bad Timing and Nini Foodielicious, my sister and I decided to go have our next sibling meet up here.  Coming in around 10.30am, it was relatively quiet and the quirky crew were prompt to have us seated.  I love hospitality like that.  No overcrowding or queues!  One thing for sure though, an empty restaurant can also be a bad signal.  Nonetheless, I was not discouraged to try out a few of their offerings. 

We started with a hot chocolate for me and a coffee for my sister.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you had your first great drink, and it was the best, then it will be a sensational drink you can brag about.  But when you had one too many, it becomes a norm.  And trust me, in Australia most places serve very decent coffee and this was one of it.   Definitely noteworthy.


As we had already eaten our breakfast, we only ordered a few pastries.  There were plenty on offer but I decided to start with a filled doughnut for both my sis and I.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFilled doughnuts.  What comes to mind is a fluffy, light, and sweet pastry.  When warm, an even more delectable treat.  The fillings here were nice but the doughnut itself leaves much to be desired.  It was not extremely horrible, but for something as bite size as this and for 3 bucks each, I expected a little more finesse.  Especially when it comes to the pastry! I wanted something light and fluffy instead of dense.


Chocolate ganache tartOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnly two things to get right here, the ganache and the crust. Some things are not best when short but in this case, it was lovely.  The crust was short and crumbly despite appearing very dense at first.  The ganache was rich and really tasty.  However, my sis and I found that there was a slight cherry taste in the ganache which we did not really like. Or perhaps it was a strong cocoa flavor which one gets from a very good quality dark chocolate.  However, it was not stated dark chocolate ganache so? ? ?!  Not bad but not the best.  Bourke St. Bakery @ Surry Hills still wins hands down! In Perth, I go to Harvest Espresso in Victoria Park.  Their tarts are always a sell out!


Last but not the least was Mary Street Bakery’s Peanut Butter Cup.   For my sister and I, this was the sole reason we came here for coffee today.  In comparison with the original Reese peanut butter cups, this one was at least 3 times larger!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut what is form without substance?  Fortunately, this was pretty damn yummy.  The top bit was a milk chocolate disk which was sweet followed by a peanut butter mousse filling.  The saltiness of the creamy peanut butter brought the best out of the chocolate.  To finish, a bitter base to ensure a complete experience that is not as cloying as what it could have been.  Over all, a yummy bite but I was not blown! In fact, it is the first time that I am eating a peanut butter cup in a non-Reese form. Happy :)!


Mary Street Bakery has been a very good host for my morning tea with sis.  The service was pretty good and we enjoyed a long chat for over an hour.  The pastries on offer is a bit of a hit and a miss depending on what you order, but none is too bad.  However, if expectations are high, you might be disappointed.  In my opinion, Mary St. Bakery is definitely a place worth visiting!  Would like to come back for their sandwiches next time.  The couple next to me ordered a sandwich each which made me salivate @@! Nom nom nom!


Mary Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day Trip: A Foodie Tour to Malacca.

Malacca was the beginning of Malaysia’s history.  But for me, it is the last destination before I go back home to Perth.  When you have friends who live to eat, coming to a foodie town such as Malacca can be an amazing day trip.  Putting my concerns of where to eat or which blogs to follow aside, I left itinerary in capable hands.   So what did we eat in Malacca?  Well, these were the places recommended in Malacca for a foodie!  A little short of the clich├ęs but these places are well worth paying a visit!


Sun May Hiong Satay House

After a 2 hour drive, we finally reached our destination with our stomachs rumbling!  Our first stop, is satay!  The yummy Sun May Hiong Satay House serving authentic satay with a Malaccan touch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Why Satay you might ask?  I was personally wondering why too.  Until I had it :)!


Sun May Hiong Satay House

50A, Jalan Kota Laksamana 1/1, Taman Kota Laksamana,

75200 Melaka


Here there are two types of satay, one chicken and the other is pork. Basic side dishes like ketupat and a fresh salad of cucumber and red onion is available too.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirstly, the satay here is delicious.  Unlike places where the fatty part of meat is used, here the fat and meat are meticulously arranged to create a sensational bite. For most, it was just good old satay but it was more than that.  It was PORK satay too.   Good flavor in the meat along with an appetizing smokiness made it great.  But what differentiates the satay here was not the meat.  But the sauce.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA rather poor photo here.  Anyways, the sauce is not your typical 100% peanut sauce.  It was more of a Peranakan/Malaccan style that you get.  The sauce was rich with a hint of fruitiness as well as generous bits of pineapples.  Superbly more-ish with the satay and it was so yummy to the extent where I was literally drinking the sauce at one point!  Definitely a spot to go to.


Jonker 88

After finishing up a relatively small meal of 10 satay sticks, my friends brought me to the much celebrated Jonker 88 which is famed for it laksa and chendols. Located on the vibrant Jonker Street, no address is needed I believe.  If anything, visit their WEBSITE @  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Asia, queuing is a norm.  Needless to say, any famed eateries such as this requires a lot of waiting!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The price list!  Superb value for the AUD though in Malaysia it was still relatively well priced!


I hate waiting though my desperation often overwhelms my impatience.  But why not be quick if I can right? Well, one tip is to TAKEAWAY and SKIP the queue.  Bring it to the heritage park next door and maybe enjoy the chendol with some passing breeze.   Bloody awesome.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEmbracing the Malaysian food scene at its finest.  I ordered the Chendol topped with Durian, the king of fruits.  For starters, the chendol here is no lame over-rated crap.  The use of the purest and most authentic Gula Malacca or Palm Sugar makes all sweet foods a treat.  Most people assume that IT IS ALL THE SAME. Definitely a big NONO.  Authentic palm sugar has a beautiful caramel flavor and a hint of sour after taste.  Here at Jonker 88, they were so generous with Gula Malacca which made it the perfect drink in the sweltering heat.  The durian flavor was quite subtle to my dismay.  I was expecting a better kick!  Towards the end, the drink became a little too sweet but still every bit delectable.  But be careful though, fussy eaters might find the shaved ice a little rough!


Later in the night, we returned to Jonker 88 for their laksa.   It was OK, the toppings of fish ball, bean curd roll and fish was a nice touch, but where a good laksa is concerned, quality of the soup is paramount.  Here it was very ordinary.  But for die hard fans, I shall not comment further :P!  Definitely had better ones before!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


One Bite Durian Puff

To complement our Chendol, we took away more durian stuff! Here was the durian puff Yobi picked up from a few doors down called One Bite Durian Puff.  Another bloody good snack.  Nonetheless, it could be heaps better.  The durian flavors were again way too subtle.  I guess despite its origins from Malaysia, the king of fruits is not exactly what anyone would call cheap!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFluffy little morsels filled with a durian custard.  An acquired taste naturally instilled in Malaysians.  I loved it although it could have more flavor!    Nevertheless, it is something I would happily hold in my hand while walking around town, consuming these one by one.


Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball

As if that the durian puffs were not fattening enough, we soon found ourselves queuing for what was arguably the most popular food in Malacca. The famous Chicken Rice Ball.  While most of us were not convinced that the hype was worth it on our first try, we decided to give it another go.  Here, we tried the first shop that served this original delicacy. Kedai Kopi Chung Wah or Chung Wah Coffee Shop Chicken Rice Balls!  This is located at the roundabout on Jonker walk.  Another shop which is impossible to miss!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho is not surprised that we are queuing again?  Asians and queuing are inseparable.  We are definitely people who live to eat rather than eat to live!


Chicken rice ball.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The praises: Chicken was fairly tasty and well cooked.  Not overcooked for sure.  Rice balls were unique and the flavor was decent.  But for a top notch establishment in town, I was expecting the food to be a little more refined.  As my friends mentioned, it felt as if the chicken was chopped without consideration.  Putting that aside, I found the dressing of the chicken a overpowered with sesame oil.  I would have preferred a less overwhelming sauce.  More importantly, I am more accustomed to beautiful rice that is both fluffy and fragrant.  Putting it in the shape of a ball gives it a unique look, but in terms of consistency, it was mushy!  Definitely a love it or hate it experience!


After pigging out, it was time we headed out of Jonker Street.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA timeless classic.  A VW Camper van.  Some say leave a classic be, yet I cannot wait to see a VW remake in the near future.  Concepts as of late has been rather impressive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The famous building often seen in postcards!


Klebang Coconut Shake

Originating from a roadside stall, this place has grown tremendously and is easily on of Malacca’s most famous chill out spots.  As for fans, rejoice!  They now have a proper sitting  area at the back for dine-in with savory bites such as pre-packed noodles, nasi lemak and a large variety of kuihs!  As for takeaways, the stall along the road side is still in service.  Clearly, even though famous, they have never forgotten their roots.  Also, I was previously told that they only open from 12.30pm onwards! Take note!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile the Nasi Lemak was not bad, it was the coconut that made my day.  Klebang’s coconut shake was generous in coconut flesh and tasted superb.  It had a slight crunchy texture to it that made this drink pleasant.  Compared to the one I had in Penang, this was leap and bounds better.  Very original with good amounts of coconut as mentioned.  In contrast, the one in Penang tasted fine, but the mix of soda more than coconut juice means very little coconut taste.  Hence, my preference for the Klebang Coconut Shake!    See my Penang post here.


Tengkera Putu Piring

Last place for the day, is Putu Piring located along Jalan Tengkera.  Opening at 6pm onwards, be sure to get in early as late comers go home unsatisfied.  Among us, I think we ordered close to 20 of these delicious kuih.photoWhile I can choose to say very little and let the picture be a tease, I shall not.  In fact, I am somewhat apologetic for dissing Yobi’s suggestion earlier on before the trip.  I was like “meh, sounds so normal”.  Proven otherwise on the first bite, these were heavenly.  Again we see lightly fluffy textures where the infamous Gula Malacca (palm sugar) very smartly put in these thin disc-shaped delicacy.  When steamed, the  Gula Malacca melts into a syrup like consistency making it so damn addictive.  It was sweet and at the same time slightly savory thanks to the natural attributes of a quality Gula Malacca which is salty and sour.  While I thought I ordered 5, only 2 came and to avoid being called fat, I decided to keep quiet lol.  GODDAMNIT.

Putu Piring Jalan Tengkera

252 Jalan Tengkera

75200 Melaka


Ok folks, that sums up my trip to Malacca.  Great food for sure.  More importantly, a very over due trip with some very good friends in Malaysia!  I really appreciate their effort in chauffeuring me around and cannot help but feel somewhat indebted! You know who you are ;)! This is a very rush post which I will come back to fine tune later! Had to get this up as my laptop is always left behind in Malaysia when I travel back to Perth!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Penang Trip: Nasi Kandar Line Clear

P7210277It was our last day in Penang.  With one meal left, I had little space for errors and once again sought the help of the internet.  One enviable food that was closely associated to Penang is the Nasi Kandar.  But the question is, where about do I start?  My favourite Nasi Kandar has always been Kayu Nasi Kandar but most people had recommended Nasi Kandar Line Clear located near the intersection between Campbell Street and Penang Road. 

Bad signs seem to lurk near the areas recommended and it seems that I take little effort in learning them.  With my tummy that hungry, I could barely blame myself.  Walking in, the restaurant was quiet with my parents and I being their only customer.  I hungrily pointed at the basics such as a great mix of curries and as well as a large piece of fried chicken.





Nasi Kandar with Fried Chicken and Kuah CampurP7210284 Biting into the chicken here was pure joy.  I love how large this Nasi Kandar stall’s chickens are. Bloody meaty and crunchy with a KFC beating marinade and batter.  Crispy skin tend to be the best parts of a Nasi Kandar meal!  The way I would eat my rice is to mix it all together as the flavours tend to be absorbed by the rice.  This was where I started feeling disappointed.  At Line Clear, the sauces are way too watery and the rice as well, felt a little wet.  Definitely a big bummer.  A favourite Nasi Kandar topping of mine which was the Kerisik, a grated coconut condiment bursting with flavours was not there.  Lady’s fingers were OK but a little old.


All in all, coming in here for a great last meal did not quite turn out as I expected.  Knowing how the island folks here rave about their famous Penang Nasi Kandar, I knew that I was at the wrong place.  I guess my research was not done in depth as there are many others such as Nasi Kandar Kampung Melayu as well as Nasi Kandar Beratur.  Both of which has both so many good and  bad press such that I was thrown into a dilemma (yes I get stressed when I eat). But little matters more than the fact that I found the food here to be EDIBLE, but great Nasi Kandar?  Definitely a claim too FARFETCHED.


Still, I had no regrets as the earlier days of the trip were filled with some of the best meals ever.  Check out the links below to see what I ate on my 4 day trip to Penang :)!

Penang Trip: Another Local Favourite @ Sin Keng Aun

Penang Trip: Ah Leng’s Char Kuey Teow @ Penang

Penang Trip: 2 Sister’s Char Kuey Teow, Yam Cake Hokkien Noodles @ Day 3

Penang Trip: A Heritage Experience @ 1881 Zhong Tian Lou

Penang Trip: Hameed Pata @ Fort Cornwallis @ Day 2

Penang Trip: Toh Soon Cafe @ Day 2

Penang Trip: Sin Guat Keong Hawker, Kimberley Road @ Day 1



Friday, August 2, 2013

Penang Trip: Another Local Favourite @ Sin Keng Aun, Lorong Chulia

Just as I thought that this was the end of my pursuit for traditional Penang-nite food after a series of unlucky runs, I finally scored a meal at Sin Keng Aun.  This eatery is highly recommended by many people and clearly popular among the locals.  The clock barely pointed to 5.30pm yet it was already dinner time for the islanders.  Sin Keng Aun’s crew consisted of a man wearing a hat (presumably the boss) and the speedy elderly chefs who double up as wait staff making younger people look shit.  No joke.  The food at Sin Keng Aun is rather mixed.  I would like to say Peranakan/Nyonya but reviews online say Hainanese and at times it is even classified as “Penang”.  Putting petty issues aside, I will let the food do the talking.

2 Lorong Chulia, Georgetown

10200 Penang

Opens for lunch and dinner.  Lunch is from 11am-2.30pm. 

Dinner is open from 5.30pm till close. (He can close at 7pm is business is brisk)

Call : 04-2614786 (call before going)


First dish out was Sin Keng Aun’s Hainanese Chicken ChopOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATossed in a slightly sweet and sticky sauce, the chicken chop is still crisp from being deep fried.  The potatoes, onion and peas were all cooked spot on.  My first bite it and I found it nice yet it seemed to lack that final execution in terms of flavour.  As is, the chicken chop was barely salty, and just a little sweet.  Then I reminded myself, that this was not KL where the stress is so bad we need more flavour to overcome the anxiety.  In Penang, most of their food are subtly flavoured especially where salt is concerned.  This was another clear example.  Not bad though as I think I ate the whole thing by myself.


Next dish was the Gulai Assam Pedas with White Pomfret (Pak Cheong)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe only type of fish used here is the White Pomfret which shows that quality is not something this old gem would compromise.  Its sauce was extremely appetizing.  I liked the strong flavours of the spices which I shall assume probably has heaps of tamarind, bunga kantan, perhaps some lemon grass and what not.  I am no expert but even the most amateurish foodie can tell that the flavour in the Gulai Assam Pedas was immense.  Using the pomfret is always a good thing as it is super meaty and have little bones! The perfect accompaniment for the sauce.  


Next dish was a lettuce wrap with slow cooked turnip with crab meat (small specks)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnlike the conventional Peking Duck Sang Choy Bow, Malaysian has a different that uses a turnip.  Again, it was something I enjoyed.  I like turnips cooked in this way as its natural sweetness just oozes out without effort.  Eaten with heaps of lettuce leaf, I was sure to fulfil my vegetable RDI.


Pan-fried Assam PrawnsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe prawn dish for the night was the Assam prawns.  For the best effect in marinating, the mid section of the pawn had it shells removed so the marinade could sip in!  The flavours here were very very simple but it was just sublime.  To put it together, imagine fresh prawns; pan-fried, slightly sweet, sour and salty with an amazing tamarind fragrance. NOM NOM NOM! Mom despite being usually generous decided to hog half this dish for herself as she loves pawns cooked in this way.  Dad did not seem impressed but over all, this was definitely executed well.


Despite pigging out on the last 4 dishes, I ordered a 5th dish for the three of us.  No wonder everyone in Penang looks so slim.. =/!  The table beside us had 1 dish less but 1 person more… DAMN.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Good old Penang Fried Lobak.  Not sure how to explain this.  But I guess meat roll would suffice? haha.  I love this dish and Penang is most famous for making the best ones. The Lobak at Sin Keng Aun is no less yummier than ones I have had before.  I ate 3/4s of the whole thing haha.  Kickass for sure!


Sin Keng Aun’s reputation as an olden day treasure among its other heritage counterparts is something I have no doubts about.  Like my prior eats, some places need not be stellar in terms of food but there are just so many other reasons that people keep coming back.  Sin Keng Aun fits the description perfectly.  The food today was nice. In fact I rate it a 7/10.  Decent and affordable in so many ways.  Yet, the final execution that bridges the gaps between good and perfection seems lacking. But no, we are not at Robuchon or a Michelin star seeking restaurant.  We are at a place where culture is preserved through culinary experts.  I was a happy man after this meal.  Definitely no problems coming back here though, dad would be keener to revisit 1881 Chong Tian Lou.



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Penang Trip: Ah Leng’s Char Kuey Teow @ Penang Day 3

Knowing I could have had more earlier that day, abstinence kicked in as I knew what lie ahead. Barely an hour after my quick fix , I was now sitting down at another highly acclaimed Char Kuey Teow hawker in Penang.  Ah Leng  is known for serving some pretty good Char Kuey Teow on the island as well as the most expensive plate of noodles on the Island.  With the lot coming in at RM11, it could easily be one of the most expensive hawker food in the country.  However, I have become wary of such fads after a previous experience left me disappointed.  Coming in, I was expecting some sort of crowd due to the HYPE but you know what?  There was only a bunch of tourists leaving in their mini van.  Worst of all, there was a pile of leftovers which made me even more worried as I was now waiting for my very expensive fried Kuey Teow.


With its price similar to larger cities and significantly more than the price charged by the rest of the hawkers on the island, its only bragging rights were its prawns.  In terms of flavour and quality, I found little difference in satisfaction as there was no element of surprise which distinguishes it from the rest.  With all the mentions Ah Leng is getting online,  I was left wondering really what the fuss was all about.  Why pay more for something that is more readily available for less?  I was baffled.  Like my review of the 2 Sister’s version mentioned here, this is nice if the price was not a matter of consideration.  Having heard reactions from my local friends in Penang about prices I have been paying in town, I soon found myself stuck in tourist traps.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mom also ordered a few  vegetarian dumplings which were ok! Fillings were good and the flour pastry was good.  Chilli sauce felt out of the bottle and adulterated.  All in all, it was rather pedestrian.


We also ordered another bowl of noodles and found that is was OK.  I would have to end this post with a verdict that the blogger hype surrounding this place is unjustified.  Tourist trap?  Definitely.  I felt that for so many reasons, this place did not meet the mark.  In the end, it seems like the only REAL reason the buzz surrounding this place exist lies in a very old saying.  It’s like the blind leading a blind.  Rather hard to recommend.  For me, I would be happy strolling about older streets like Campbell Street, Kimberley Street and Chulia Street, blend with the locals and eat a simple plate of RM3.50 goodie!  In fact, the offerings were WAYYY better at Lam Heng Cafe which at least had a good Prawn Noodles and Yam Cake too!


Khoon Hiang Cafe

358 Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang

Opens 8.30am to 2.30pm and is closed on Wednesdays. (subject to change without notice)