KL Series: Crabs in Restoran Tak Fok

My sister brought the entire family for a crab dinner. She told us that the Tak Fok restaurant in Manjalara is so popular that there is always a long wait for tables. We decided to go very early so that we do not have to deal with the crowd.

That place was packed alright. The tables and chairs are placed so close to one another that there are hardly any room to move. We believe that what makes this place popular is that it’s cheap (RM 18 or CAD$6 per kilogram). They specialize in crabs and have quite a few varieties of preparation which I had never heard of.

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My sister did the ordering. I had no idea what the crab dish below is called. If I hazard a guess I would say this is kam heong style crab. The claws is my favourite part. It is the fleshiest. The kam heong, you know the whatmachacallit dark pieces below, is best with plain steamed rice.

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I have never seen this type of crab dish before. My sister translated this to be butter-cheese crab. The yellowish thick gravy looks really good and smells really nice.

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My sister also ordered some “fried bread”. This is so unique and new to me. I had sliced bread with chilli crab before but never bread made specifically for crab dishes.

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The way to eat this is to break the bread and dip it on the butter-cheese sauce. It tastes really good. This is so unique. I know Suanne will hate it but I am just thinking that I should get a Malaysian crab recipe book for her. Hmmm … maybe not.

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If there is such thing as a “commonly unique” dish, the one below is it. It is basically a potato nest filled with assortment of ingredients such as cauliflower, peanuts, mushrooms, onions, and what nots. Unique but it’s too dry a dish for me.

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We also had a hot plate tofu dish. It came sizzling hot. The sizzle gave out a very nice smell.

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Sweet and sour pork. Pretty good on it’s own but really the star of this meal was the crabs.

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I liked this meal a lot despite the messy-ness and the cramped seating. This restaurant had a few other crab dishes — something like ten (!) if I am not mistaken. I wish I could try them all — I guess I will have to leave it to the next trip.

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KL Series: Yong Tau Foo

The day after dad’s funeral, my in-laws treated Nanzaro and I to a Yong Tau Foo dinner in a restaurant nearby Sri Damansara in Manjalara. The last time I was in Malaysia, I did not get the chance to go for this. So, I was glad when my brother-in-law suggested this.

Yong Tau Foo is a very Chinese Malaysian dish. I don’t think this is served in anywhere outside of Malaysia. Malaysia has a big Hakka community and this is one of their invention. Yong Tau Foo refers to the original stuff bean curd. The stuffing used are mostly fish paste but there are some which used pork as stuffing.

The most common Yong Tau Foo is the one you see below. In this bowl, there are stuffed bean curd, okra and chilli pepper and is served with clear broth. I enjoyed the hot chilli pepper especially. One thing about the okra (known as lady’s fingers in Malaysia) is that the seeds does not digest, if you know what I mean.

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Then there is the plain fish paste. The green ones below is stuffed bitter gourd. I don’t like the bitter gourd at all — never did and never will. I can’t understand why anyone likes anything this bitter.

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There is also fried ones. You can’t figure this out clearly but the ones with the dark outline is another of my fav. It’s the fried eggplant sandwiched with fish paste. The others are plain fried fish paste and fried wonton.

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I am making up the names here. I never knew what of the dishes I had in Malaysia. I know what it looks like and I know what I like. Never took the trouble to learn their names.

This one below is bean curd skin with, again, fish paste. Suanne can correct me here …

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We ordered other non-yong tau foo dishes too. Anyone can describe this for me? It’s pork … fatty pork and wood ears. This is great with rice … the gravy is rich and salty-sweet. The pork is sinfully fat.

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This one is called jee geok chou — vinegar pork feet. I don’t like the gravy, it is sour. But the fatty pork skin, they are heavenly! This dish will definitely clog up your arteries.

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Well, we need to have a balanced meal, huh? So, we also had a lettuce — blanched and flavoured with soya sauce and fried shallot.

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Nice meal … I enjoyed this.

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KL Series: Kiew Brothers

After the Hainese Chicken Rice, Nanzaro and I went for a walk in Chinatown. Chinatown is better know as Petaling Street or Chee Cheong Gai in Cantonese. This place a must-go place for tourists. This is where you could get a Rolex for only $10.

The whole street is not closed to traffic and is lined with stalls. Every other stall sells counterfeit products — clothings, watches, DVD movies, perfume. It is also where some of the best chinese food are found.

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We went to the Kiew Brothers shop to get some dried meat. Many swear that Kiew Brothers has the best dried meat in the country. In Cantonese, they are known as “woh lai yeh” which simply translates to “here I come”. I can’t figure why that name but if you say those words, everyone will know what you mean.

They BBQ the meats in front of the shop and has a big fan that blows the smoke out to the street. You can smell the aroma around the vicinity of the area.

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In the shop, they have mounds of the dried meat all stacked up nicely. Things had changed so much in Malaysia. They do take the trouble to display them nicely. I remember in the old days, this place looked so dark and greasy. The meat were just strewn all over the tray.

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We bought one kilogram of the pork dried meat. We had the choice of two types — sliced or minced. We opted for the minced ones because they are not as tough.

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One of the better upgrades to Petaling Street is that the City Hall had installed a canopy. It is a good upgrade. The canopy is installed high enough that is not stuffy.

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KL Series: Nam Heong Hainanese Chicken Rice

I remembered that before I left Malaysia for Canada, I went on an eating binge, if you may, at my favourite restaurant … one of them was Nam Heong. They had been a fixture in KL’s Chinatown for over 60 years — since 1938. They are known for their Hainanese Chicken Rice. To me they had the best Hainanese Chicken Rice in the world, no kidding!

Nam Heong is located in KL’s Chinatown, specifically on Jalan Sultan. This was also dad’s favourite restaurant too. When I was in my primary school, my Saturday routine was to take a bus to the public library (I was a prolific reader then) in the morning and then join my dad for lunch. That was our only private time. I enjoyed it a lot.

On my visit this time with Nanzaro, I was somewhat shocked that it is entirely different. This restaurant had changed so much.

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In the old days this place was a complete chaos. There were no airconditioning with nary a service. But today, it is all modern and upgraded now. It is certainly much more comfortable. What I noticed glaringly is the absence of a crowd.

It was later that learnt that privately owned Nam Heong restaurant had been sold to the Esquire Kitchen group for RM 5 million. Esquire Kitchen used that Nam Heong brand and opened up more restaurants across the city.

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The familiar homemade sauces are still there on each table. They make great chilli and ginger sauces and it is great with the chicken rice. in the old days, they were filled on old glass jars. Oh I love their chilli.

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I knew Nanzaro would like the Hainanese Chicken. You are able to specify the part that you want. When I was young, I could gobble up two servings. The chicken looked the same with that perfect amount of sweet soya sauce that gives this dish the distinct flavour.

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To me what sets Nam Heong apart from all other chicken rice is their rice. They are what is called “oily rice” (yau farn). They make the rice to perfection. The yellowishness of the rice is because the chicken stock that is used to make them.

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Although Chicken Rice is what Nam Heong is famous for but they have other less famous dishes too. My other favourite is their “ngau lam tong” — beef soup. There are not many places in KL that serves beef (the most popular meat is pork and chicken) and this is about the few places I know that serves chinese style beef.

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I also ordered a couple of meatballs.

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It is fish paste on the outside and beef (I think) on the insides. The meat is smooth.

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The total tab came up to only RM 17.75 which is about US $5 for the two of us. That is what I like about eating out in Malaysia. Everything is so cheap compared to Canada.

Although the dishes are similar to the old Nam Heong I used to know, the quality is different. I like the comfort of the new setting but what was exciting back then was the atmosphere. BTW, they have a few outlets all across the city now.

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KL Series: Poh Ting’s Homecooked Meal

My sister-in-law is a prolific cook. When I was in Malaysia two months ago, she cooked up a storm. This time it was not any different. I love this kind of cooking — it is exactly the same type of food that mum cooks.

I really don’t know what these dishes are called and so I will just describe them. This one below is chicken and mushroom. What I like best about this is the sweet soya gravy. There is only one way to eat this … to drown the rice with the gravy. This is so good that sometimes I just had the gravy with rice only.

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Mum also makes this simple dish very often. It is long beans omelette. The long beans is diced into small pieces and then fried with eggs and soya sauce. The soya sauce give this dish a thinge of saltiness.

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Sweet and sour pork is a popular Chinese dish, especially in North America. You can almost always find this on pseudo-Chinese restaurants in Canada.

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This is a stir-fried mixed vegetables consisting of cauliflower, carrots, sweet peppers, baby corns and pork slices. I think she cooks this with corn starch that produces a thickened glossy gravy.

Oh, have you heard of this joke? There was a boy who told a girl that “You are pretty. Your face is as pretty as a flower”. The girl shyly asked him, “Oh really? Thank you! What type flower?”. The boy answered … “Cauliflower”. He he he …

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Simple home cooked food. I like this meal because there are so many varieties of dishes. Normally Suanne will just cook two or maybe three dishes because we have such a small family.

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KL Series: Breakfast in Jalan Imbi

First morning in Kuala Lumpur. After the funeral service the night before, it was really quiet around the house. We don’t expect any visitors until around afternoon. So, brought Nanzaro to downtown Kuala Lumpur to look for this place Suanne and I used to go for breakfast in Jalan Imbi. We enjoyed this coffee shop (I can’t recall the name but I do know how to get there) where we normally had nasi lemak.

Unfortunately, the nasi lemak stall is no longer there. So, Nanzaro and I walked across the street to another coffee shop which is much more busier. I reckon that busier means better food.

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Nanzaro ordered the Chow Koay Teow (stir fried rice noodles) — the real deal Chow Koat Teow with See Harm (Cockles). We get Chow Koay Teow in Vancouver — quite nice ones too but we don’t have fresh cockles. This was nice but the cockles were too small.

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For me, I had the Pork Soup Noodle. I had always yearned for this and is one of the top on my list of must eat in Malaysia. I like this with extra soya sauce and freshly cut chilli peppers. Yummy!

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After breakfast, I brought Nanzaro to the Imbi Plaza — the centre of pirated software and DVDs in KL. Here you can get any movie titles — some movies were so new that they had not yet been released anywhere in the world. All titles were about RM8 (cheaper if you buy more) which is equivalent to CAD $2.30 only! Also, you can get almost any pirated software for a steal. You want Windows Vista? They have it! Nanzaro was so captivated browsing the catalogue and displays.

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We traveled around on the new KL Monorail. This is the only line that goes into the heart of the Golden Triangle.

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The Monorail is really small with just two cars, although I see that the stations are built for a six-car configuration. You know, I think this system will not be sufficient to handle passenger growth in the long run as compared to the other LRT systems.

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The tracks now run right down the heart of the Golden Triangle. I remember this stretch as less cluttered. These days there are simply too many advertisements shouting loudly to all. I like the old look better.

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This Monorail system is human driven. Its cars does bank significantly every time it makes a turn — kind of scary for the first timers.

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KL Series: Taiwanese Meal in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport

We had a 3 hour stop over in Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport. The first thing I did when we landed was to find something for Nanzaro to eat. There were not much choice for food except for two small food centres.

Anyway, I got Nanzaro a bowl of beef on rice. It looked very appetizing and I know that these is the kind of comfort food that he likes.

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Nanzaro also likes Bubble Tea. He likes this over everything else in Vancouver. Did you know that Taiwan is the home of the original Bubble Tea? It has chewy tapioca balls in iced tea drink. It is served with a fat drinking straw to suck up the balls.

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It was good to see him enjoying a good meal. He had not eaten much for almost 15 hours.

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If I recall correctly, the above costs USD $5.00.

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KL Series: Airline Meals on EVA Air

Nanzaro and I flew Economy on EVA Air from Seattle to Kuala Lumpur to attend my father’s funeral. It was the cheapest flight we could get at such short notice. Man, I know that airline meals are bland but we did not expect it to be this bad. I tried eating anyway but Nanzaro hardly took a bite of the meals.

The flight took almost 20 hours with a 3 hr stopover in Taipei. During the flight, there were a total of three meals.

The first meal (served at about 2am in the morning!) was fish and rice. The rice was soggy and mushy. It was terrible. I took two bites and just gave up.

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The fruits and salad looked colourful and that’s about it. I only took the fruits and did not touch the salad at all.

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They also served Russian Ice-cream — Macadamia Nut and Vanilla. The outer side of the ice-cream was very soft and almost melted. This looks nice but melted icre-cream is just urgh!

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I was not particularly hungry anyway. So I tried to sleep but simply can’t. So, I just watched the inflight movie and did some reading.

Breakfast is even worse. They asked me if I wanted rice soup. Rice Soup? Sounds OK to me but what I saw was far from what I had pictured it to be. It is a horribly looking glob of overcooked porridge with some slices of beef. I took two bites and decided I had enough.

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Nanzaro was sleeping when they came around. I gotten for him the “chicken” dish which includes fettucini. The fettucini was all dried up and hard. Nanzaro did not eat this too. I left the chicken alone and finished off the pasta. I was beginning to feel hungry myself.

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At least the bread was warm, soft and more importantly actually tastes like normal food.

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On the Taipei to KL route, we had better meal. This time is was omelette, sausage, potatoes and tomato.

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The fruits was pretty OK too.

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So were the criossant and yogurt. This meal I finished everything.

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You know what is the best meal for Nanzaro? It was the cup noodles! He hardly ate anything and I know he was hungry. He went to the back of the plane after this first helping to ask the stewardess for a second helping. Am glad to see him ate so much — was getting worried because he could not take the airline meal.

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I must say I did not enjoy the flight and the meals at all. I would have avoided EVA Air if not for the fact that they have the cheapest fares. Oh well …

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