Friday, 29 June 2012

Kuching: Kolo Mee & Sarawak Laksa

As usual, I did a whole lot of research as to where I can find good kolo mee & sarawak laksa.  Given that we do not have a car to go around, we decided to stick to places right in the city.

After long hours of going through blogs, we finally decided to test out 2 coffee-shops:

A)  Choon Choon Cafe @ Abell Road (Same row as AirAsia office)

B)  Choon Hui Cafe @ Ban Hock Road (Beside grand Continental Hotel)


Kolo Mee
i)  Choon Choon Cafe

I prefer the kolo mee here as it is not too dry.  If you lift the noodles high up, you still can see the sauce remaining on the bowl.  In terms of flavour, Choon Choon offers better kolo mee.  The only thing I didn't enjoy was that the char siew was a bit bland.

ii)  Choon Hui Cafe

Although Choon Hui's kolo mee is not as wet as Choon Choon, but it was still enjoyable.  If you like the noodles springy (feels like instant noodle texture), then you will like the kolo mee here.  The minced meat is very nice & it goes very well with the noodles.


Sarawak Laksa
i)  Choon Choon Cafe

Somehow, I felt that the soup lack the kick (I could have been biased as I tried the Choon Hui's first).  It is more to prawn soup & less of the curry side.  As shown in the picture, it was missing the egg omelette. Overall, I find it okay.

ii)  Choon Hui Cafe

If you are a big fan of Maggi Curry, you'll bound to love Choon Hui's Sarawak laksa.  The soup is just right - not too salty, not too spicy.  The balance between the curry & the prawn soup is just nice.  I love the pieces of egg omelette - reminded me of how my mum used to prepare my Maggi noodles for breakfast.  I finished every drop of the soup.  My vote goes to Choon Hui!

(You will notice that both the Sarawak laksa I ordered were missing its main ingredients - prawn.  Well, I deliberately omitted them as I don't really eat prawns.  BTW, I found that both stalls serve huge prawns)


The coffee-shops also serve other food.  Some of the highlights:

Three Layer Tea - black tea served with layers of palm sugar (gula melaka) and milk

The picture on the left is the three layer tea from Choon Hui.  Between the two coffee-shops, both KS and I felt that Choon Hui tasted nicer as there is more palm sugar.  The palm sugar gave a very nice fragrance & sweetness to the tea.

But a selling point of Choon Choon is that you can order really huge drinks - standard, medium & large.

Toasted bread
Choon Choon has really nice toasted bread.  It may be a simple dish but it is super nice.

I think no one mentioned about this in any blogs I read, but we noticed many people ordered it, so we thought, maybe we should order too. 

They have a variety of toppings, but KS ordered the simplest - toasted bread with butter and honey.  Wow!  The bread is toasted to the right crispiness.  This is really a hidden gem!


The popiah at Choon Hui is just average.  But the dipping sauce is quite nice and goes quite well with the popiah.  A good snack on top of the noodles.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Japanese Shaved Ice Dessert @ Kakigori, 1 Utama

Kakigori is actually the Japanese term for shaved ice dessert, just like the Taiwanese 刨冰.  The shaved ice is very fluffy like cotton but melts instantly in your mouth just like snow.

I had my first shaved ice dessert in Mei Heong Yuen (味香园) @Temple Street, Singapore.  This is the best so far and I highly recommend that you drop by at Chinatown to taste this heavenly treat (especially the black sesame with almond).

So far, we have not come across one that is good enough to compete with Mei Heong Yuen.  We had a try at Tong Pak Fu, but the texture and taste does not meet the expectation (but then again, their bestsellers were sold out on that day, so maybe we didn't try the right flavours).

But recently, we found one that come close enough (but just not there yet) in KL - Kakigori @ 1 Utama.

According to its promotional banner, they serve 100% Pure & Natural flavoured ice desserts with 11 different flavours, served either in a cup or a crispy waffle shell.

Decided to give it a try, we head there right after dinner.

I selected the Strawberry ice:  Shaved strawberry flavoured ice, served with sour yogurt balls and slices of mango jellies on a crispy waffle shell.

Now, I never ordered anything that says strawberry-flavoured as I always have this strong feeling that the only thing that makes it feels strawberry-ish is the colouring (of course unless I see real strawberries in it).  So, when I ordered it (no idea what made me do that), I was a little sceptical.

First of all, it didn't taste like it was made from some unnatural chemical-infused strawberry flavour.  It really felt as though you're eating the real thing.  So, for the tagline '100% Pure & Natural", I have a very strong confidence about its truth.

Now, the ice, like real strawberries, are sour-ish, so the whole thing combined with the sour yogurt balls was a little too sour for me to finish it.  If they had put something sweeter instead to balance the taste, it would have been better.

KS selected the Green Tea ice:  Shaved green tea flavoured ice, served with sweet Azuki red beans and sunflower seeds on a crispy waffle shell.

The red beans are sweet enough to go with the green tea as the ice has a little bitterness.  But I find the sunflower seeds a bit not crunchy.  It would have been better if the seeds were slightly toasted to bring out the nutty flavour.

Overall, not too sweet & it is quite refreshing.  The sitting area is quite comfortable & spacious despite being a small stall.

I would definitely come back for a second time to taste the other flavours.


LGK103A, Lower Ground Floor,
(near to Hokkaido Ichiba)
1 Utama Shopping Centre

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Happy Duan Wu Festival!

Duan Wu Festival (端午節) is a festival that falls on the 5th day 5th lunar month.  This year, it falls on Saturday, 22 June.

They were many different versions of why there is Duan Wu Festival.  But the version I listened as a little girl from Daddy revolves around the suicide of a loyal minister, Qu Yuan.

Qu Yuan was an important minister during the Chu Kingdom in China, who is a loyal advisor to the emperor.  Somehow, Qu Yuan's advice to the emperor was not heeded, and ultimately the Kingdom slowly fall to destruction.

Qu Yuan became very sad of the predicament of his beloved Kingdom and decided to throw himself into the River of Puo Luo on the fateful 5th day of the 5th lunar month.

The villagers, who were touched by his love for his country, threw rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river to distract the fishes from eating Qu Yuan's body.  Some went as far as going down the stream in a boat while beating drums and shouting out loud, hoping it would scare the fishes away.

This tradition of making rice dumplings & the dragon boat festival continued until today.

What are the other versions of the Duan Wu Festival that you have heard?


When you talk about Duan Wu Festival, I believe the first thing that comes into your mind is the rice dumplings (also known as zong zi 粽子), filled with glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo/lotus leaves.

Recently, there are many different kinds of rice dumplings.  Some goes as far as making it super luzury by putting in abalone slices & other seafood.

For me, the best rice dumpling is the traditional rice dumpling - filled with juicy pork belly, chestnuts, salted egg, mushroom & various beans, seasoned with dark soya sauce.  I just love how the beans integrate into the rice & that lovely tender pork, especially when served piping hot.  The most important is to have the rice seasoned well.

Warning note:  Do not attempt to eat more than one dumpling at one time as it can be pretty hard to digest (not to forget how unhealthy it can be if it was prepared with pork lard).  You don't really want to end up with a bloated stomach the whole day.

KS's mum recently made some rice dumplings, and I was lucky enough to taste the home-made rice dumplings (I was craving for it for the whole week!)

Home-made ones are really delicious and healthy because you decide what to put in and what to omit.  And most importantly, you can control the level of oiliness & saltiness.


To-do-list:  Start learning how to make the rice dumpling!!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Dear Daddy

You're the roof over my head, no matter rain or shine, you're always there to protect me.  Thank you for what you have done for me all these years.

Daddy, Happy Father's Day!! :)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Little Korea @ Sunway Mentari

I have been a big fan of Korean food ever since my days studying overseas.  That was the only thing closest to the spiciness you get at home and Korean food just has the right level of spiciness to  wash away all the home-sickness.

So, when KS gang of friends decided to have the next gathering at a Korean restaurant, I was jumping with joy.

In the past (and current plus future), I had always visited one Korean restaurant chain - Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant.  That has never disappointed me and has always been my recommendation (in particular, the headquarters @ Sri Hartamas is the best!)

So, how did we end up eating at Little Korea @ Sunway Mentari?  Well, the majority wanted to try something different (life shouldn't be that boring, we have to be adventurous).

As we have a huge group, we were given a private room.  The place is clean & the ambiance is very nice and comfortable.  The only problem (maybe because we're inside a small room), it gets a bit stuffy after a while.

To make ordering a simple process, we just ordered a 8-10 pax BBQ set that has a kimchi hotpot, BBQ meat platter, jap chae, fried squid, fried octopus, kimchi pancake and seafood pancake.  Also added, dolsot bibimbapbulgogi and a lot more of soups (can't remember all, but there's one with seafood, another just tofu and one with meat).

On top of that, we have 8 types of refillable side dishes.

Initially, I still manage to keep track of when they served  us (& hence, took pictures), but after a while, too many things came & we had no idea how to differentiate whether it is part of the side dishes or the mains or something else.

The very first dish is the kimchi hotpot.  Sad to say, but this is the one of the two dishes worth coming back for.  The kimchi taste is very strong & therefore, the soup is very nice to drink (but quite spicy).  However, kimchi has quite an exquisite taste that not everyone's taste-buds can accept.  So, this may not be the dish for you if kimchi is a no-no for you.

The next is the jap chae - fried glass noodle with seafood.  This is quite nice, but not the best.  I find it a bit dry as the noodles start to stick together very fast.  So, it can be quite annoying when you want to take the noodle.

After this dish, everything became pretty much blur.  To be honest, I don't even know what I'm putting into my mouth.  That's what happens when you order too much & the staff did not even bother to introduce the dish when it was placed on the table.

Oh, maybe the bulgogi is worth mentioning (although barely had much of it as the guys swept through the whole pot until the very last drop).  The sweetness of the sauce is just nice and the meat is not overcooked until tough.  A perfect dish to go with rice.

Now, what is a Korean experience if there is no BBQ right in front of our eyes?  Somehow, our BBQ meat platter was already cooked (& cut into pieces) when they serve it.  So, without experiencing the BBQ process, it didn't feel very complete & not as fun anymore.  We were all pretty disappointed.

Plus, the funny thing was, because all the meat tasted the same & no indication whatsoever when served, all of us had such a hard time deciding whether the meat is chicken, pork or beef.  So, we were all playing guess-the-meat game.

We even ordered another plate of pork ribs marinated with house special sauce, hoping it will bring a different taste.  But, the so-called house special marinate was not very outstanding after all.

The pancake are also not bad, especially the kimchi pancake.  However, it is a bit lacking on the texture -  a bit too thin to feel the pancake.

Desserts are the usual:  watermelon & Korean sweet rice drink.


Service:  Fast response.  Good thing about here is that they have a button for you to call them.  They come to you within minutes.  BUT, if you do not call them, they don't come.  This means - tea is not refilled automatically and they don't check whether you need to refill the side dishes.  Another con is that the staff do not speak English very well, so it was very hard to communicate to them what we want & what they have.

Food:  Overall edible.  A few hits & misses, but not such a bad experience.  Somehow, dishes that involves kimchi tasted better, maybe that's their specialty?  Would come back for the kimchi hotpot & bulgogi.  In terms of side dishes, so-so as they didn't have my favourite ikan bilis.

Place to hang out with friends:  Very good.

Note to point:  Although this is a bit off-tangent, but their toilets are surprisingly very very clean & dry.  So, this means that their overall cleanliness should be quite high.

Little Korea
28, Jalan PJS 8/18
Dataran Mentari Sunway
46159 Petaling Jaya
Tel:  603-56300848

Friday, 15 June 2012

Kuching: bing! Coffee

Starbucks.  Coffee Bean.  These are the usual names you hear when you mentioned coffee.

But here in Kuching, the place to go for a cup of good gourmet coffee is bing! Coffee.

We decided to stop by one of the outlets to try their coffee @ Hills Shopping Mall, right next to Pullman Hotel.  As the weather was super hot, we ordered cold drinks instead:  ice-blended mocha & ice-blended chocolate.

Ice-blended mocha for me, topped with generous amount of whipped cream & cocoa powder.  The  taste is very rich and creamy - definitely a lot of chocolate.  The coffee part is also flavourful (that's because they used Illy beans, so the quality is there).

Ice-blended chocolate for KS, topped with whipped cream & drizzled with chocolate syrup.  This is even super chocolaty.  If you're a fan of chocolate, this is pure indulgence.  I can't believe how much calories I will put on if I drank the whole glass.  Haha :P

If you wanna find a place to relax & recharge on a hot sunny day, or sit around with friends & chat, you should try bing! Coffee.

The ambience is very cosy (and very good air-con), you'll feel like at home.  The staff are also very friendly.

BTW, you can only find bing! Coffee in Kuching.  So, I guess this should be a Kuching specialty? :)

bing! Coffee (Hills Shopping Mall @ Interhill Place)
Lot. 27, 270 and 276, Section 47 at Jalan Mathies, KTLD
Kuching, Sarawak.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

DIY: Black Sesame Soup

Black sesame.

Do you know these seeds are really beneficial to our health?  Among all the different types of seeds, black sesame is the most nutritious seed - they are rich in vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fiber, which improves cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation and prevent other chronic health conditions.


You can find these seeds used in many desserts/snacks nowadays.  The most familiar one would be black sesame soup.

My mum loves black sesame soup very much and I thought, maybe I should try making it at home since it is quite expensive to get one outside.  Plus, homemade is always the healthier option.

Searching for a recipe online is quite a task as every blog recommends a slightly different version.  So, I decided to be creative and used all my researched information, combining the best of every version.


Basically, the ingredients are very simple:

1 cup of black sesame, lightly toasted
1/2 cup of uncooked rice
rock sugar
2 litre of hot water
(will approx make to about 5-6 bowls)

As long as the ratio of black sesame to rice is around 2:1, it should turn out just nice.  But if you like your dessert to be more starchy, you can increase the amount of rice used.
  1. Toast the black sesame on the frying pan for a few minutes (approx. 1-2 mins) until fragrant.  Not too long as it burns easily.
  2. Put the black sesame & rice into a food processor, and blend it.  Don't worry if it is not very fine as the purpose is to let the black sesame oil seep out.  By now, you should be able to smell the fragrance of the oil.
  3. Place the black sesame mixture into a pot & add hot water.  Add rock sugar accordingly to your level of sweetness.
  4. Bring it to boil, while stirring it occasionally.
  5. After simmering for 10 to 15 mins, place it into the thermal cooker for an hour or so.  The longer the better so that the soup becomes more starchy.
  6. Before serving, place the hand blender into the soup & blend it until smooth.  How long to blend it depend on how smooth you like it.  I like it super smooth, and so, I blended for quite a while.
  7. And you're done :)

Cooking is something very subjective and it really depends on your preference - you always need to personalise the recipe to get the exact taste you want.

The above recipe was a result of my own trial-and-error.  It took me 2 trials to get the consistency right.  The first time, I followed exactly the recipe I found on the Internet and it didn't out very well.  For the second time, I decided to experiment by using my instincts and improvising along the way.

I also decided to make full use of my new thermal cooker as I didn't have the time be around to look after the fire.  If you cook it on the stove, you need to constantly stir the soup so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot, else it'll get burnt.

The last thing you want is to have your hard-work go wasted.

Key to a nice black sesame soup?
  • The black sesame need to be toasted until fragrant
  • If possible, keep cooking for as long as you can.  The longer the better the taste & texture.
  • Blend it as fine as possible before & after.

Will post some pics the next time I cook this dessert again :)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Cupcakes @ Cookie Box

Don't they just look cute & adorable...

Kuching: Must Eats

When you do travel to Kuching and ask around the locals, they never fail to recommend you a few must-haves dishes.  If you didn't, it's like you have not truly experience Kuching.

Here are some of the must eats.

1)  Kolo Mee:  Egg noodles drizzled with oil & white vinegar served with garlic/shallots, minced pork and sliced char siu

2)  Sarawak Laksa:  Meehoon in spicy coconut prawn soup topped with egg & chicken strips and prawns.

3)  Tomato Mee:  Crispy deep fried noodles served with tomato sauce, vegetables & chicken

4)  Kueh Chap:  Thin square sheet noodles served with braised pork broth flavored with dark soy sauce & spices, and a variety of pig's internal organs - sometimes served with hard-boiled egg  & deep fried tofu
(Sorry, no pics.  Forgotten to get pics of it)

The above tomato mee & kolo mee are from Stall No. 25 @ Song Kheng Hai food court, just next to a large field behind Jalan Padungan.  You can also find another nice snack called Gong Piah, a type of donut-like filled with juicy pork meats, pretty similar to siew pao.  Just look out for Stall No. 7.


Other dishes you must also try are:
  • Pork Satay @ Carpenter Street

We stumbled across this stall purely out of coincidence.  We were shopping for souvenirs along Main Bazaar and after a while, we started to feel tired & hungry (could be the heat).

At first, our intention was just to eat at the nearest restaurant/cafe we find on the map.  So, the closest listed was a local hawker food court (no name mentioned on the map but it is located at Carpenter Street, just opposite a temple).

As I was tired, I left it to KS to do the ordering.  There weren't much choices as it was quite an awkward time to eat - almost 5pm - not tea-time nor is it dinner time.

Initially, when the pork satay arrived, it didn't look very attractive.  But the moment you put it into your mouth, wow! :o  The pork satay was so good!  I am pretty sure it was not because I was hungry as KS gave me the same shocking look too.

It doesn't taste like the usual satay, more like BBQ char siu on sticks.  The meat was tender & has some layers of fattiness, drenched with lots of dark soy sauce & honey.

The only downside was the peanut sauce.  It didn't have that kick that will make you want to dip your satay in.  It just tasted like peanut butter.  But then again, the pork satay is good enough to go by itself.  You don't need anything else to go with it.

Oh, how I miss it now!

BTW, this stall also sells nice, springy homemade fish balls & yong tofu served with vermicelli.

  • Bipang
Okay, I know this is not a dish, but I think it is worth mentioning.  Before I went to Kuching, I had no idea what it is.  KS keep mentioning how nice it is and I had to believe him.

Turns out, it is actually rice crackers.  A bit different from the Japanese ones in that Bipang is sweeter & it has a stronger rice fragrance (& a lot more crunchier)

There are many flavours:  black rice, red rice, chicken floss, black sesame, onion & peanuts.

You can find these (Wide Way Bipang) almost everywhere, just look out for the old man with moustache trademark.  Plus, it comes in different sizes.  I bought the minis as it will be easier to store without worrying it will go soft.


Know of any other must eats in Kuching?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Al-Salam Restaurant

Arabic food.

The moment this idea popped up, I got tons of doubts running around my mind whether I'll (or more like my stomach) will be able to take it.   But KS wanted to be adventurous and try something different.  Well, being a supportive girlfriend, I decided to take up the "challenge".

That brings us to Al-Salam Restaurant @ Setapak for lunch.

With no prior research, we arrived at the restaurant hoping that the menu will at least tell  us more about what we might be eating.  Not much of a luck.  The names of most dishes were somewhat no where close to English.  Well, at least I still know if it is chicken or lamb or fish or something else.

For soup, we chose lentil soup & mushroom soup.

The lentil soup was more like a peppery & liquid version of dahl sauce that you get together with roti canai while the mushroom soup was more like a pour-straight-out-from-the-can-cream-soup.

Nothing very extraordinary, but one plus point, the soup is hot and hence, it tasted nice.

Next came the appertisers.

Fattoush:  Bread salad made from fried pieces of flatbread combined with mixed vegetables and dressed with olive oil & lemon juice.

As expected for a salad but I really love how crispy the bread pieces are.  Gave a nice texture that complements well with the salad.  Quite a refreshing appertiser on a hot sunny day.

Baba Ghanouj:  Eggplant mash mixed with olive oil & other seasonings, served with flatbread.

Eggplant has always been my favourite and it didn't take me too long to decide when KS asked me to choose between this & Hummus (chickpea mash).

But it being a cold appertiser, the eggplant just didn't stand out as much as I had expected.  It could have been the seasonings that had covered the taste of the eggplant.  Still, it was quite interesting to spread this mixture on the bread.  Definitely a good alternative to butter.  Maybe we should try Hummus next time.

For mains, we decided to play safe and ordered Chicken mendy rice & Shish Tawouk.

Chicken mendy rice:  Spicy grilled chicken served with fragrant basmati rice

This dish may look very simple & bland but its taste is so complete.  I could envisaged the amount of effort the chef must have put into completing this dish.  Don't be fooled by how dry the rice looks.  We were so shocked that the rice managed to lock the moisture & the flavour of the chicken.  It was like eating Hainanese chicken rice, but minus the oiliness.

The chicken is very juicy and tender, while the skin has a little crispiness as though it was air-fried.  And it tasted even better with the chilli mixture (herbs+lemon juice+chilli) that came together.

It was so good that KS almost finished it within minutes (I was busy making way for my dish to come, and the moment I turned to his dish, it was almost half-gone T.T).

Shish Tawouk:  Grilled skewered chicken served with tomato-flavoured flatbread & house special garlic sauce

I have no idea why fries came along with this Arabic dish (Maybe they wanna make it more acceptable?)

Back to the Shish Tawouk.  The grilled chicken cubes, although it looks like it has been grilled until it is dry, is surprisingly very tender.  It has been marinated with a lot of spices, with a tinge of lemon - enough to make you wanna stuff yourself with more of the chicken cubes.  The only setback:  a little on the saltier side.

The flatbread here has been filled with tomato paste - tasted just like any pizza - and was nicer than the flatbread which they serve together with the Baba Ghanouj as this was warm.

Wrapping some chicken cubes on the flatbread, topped with generous amount of garlic sauce & onions/parsley is just unbelievable.  (By then, I had forgotten about not having my share of the Chicken Mendy :P)

Last but not least, dessert!

Mohallabiya:  A Morrocan style milk pudding

To be honest, it actually tasted nice, like those puddings you find in the supermarket for kids.  The only reason we were quite petrified when eating it was because we had no idea what it was then.  On top of that, they served it quite early together with the mains & hence, it was no longer cold.

Drinks:  We had ice lemon tea & Arabic tea.

The Arabic tea was actually Ceylon tea & mint, and it was quite refreshing.  The ice lemon tea, on the other hand, was just a bit too sour for my liking but had a strong tea flavour, which sort of made it a good drink to quench our thirst.

What I didn't like about the place was that the air-con was not really working well (they had relied on standing fans) and the place is a little but dusty (no-no if you have a sinus problem).  Also, not so good for a lunch visit especially when it has not rained for the past few days.

For the sort of price they charge, I would expect a more decent & comfortable environment.  But, as we had a discount coupon for this meal, no complains ^.^

All-in-all, will I give another chance to Arabic food?  Definitely.

Al-Salam Restaurant
Lot 52A, Plaza Usahawan Genting Klang,
Jalan Danau Niaga 1, Taman Danau Kota

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The first post...

Welcome myself to the journey ^.^