When I young, I remember going out occasionally with my parents for breakfast in chinese coffee shops. Such coffee shops are better known as kopitiam. Back then, breakfast was just simple toast and a cup of coffee served in white porcelain cups. I still remember going to the kopitiams, half-asleep and groggy, and smelling the sweet aroma of coffee and toast.
Over the years, that kind of a breakfast fell out of fashion. There were more breakfast choices — noodles, nasi lemak, roti and such. On my visit, I noticed that such a coffee shops made a come back, albeit in much swankier settings. I made it a point to check out the Old Town Kopitiam one morning and went to the one in the Central Market.
There seems to be one Old Town Kopitiam in every shopping complex. I think it’s a franchise of sorts. The settings is undoubtedly a lot more comfortable and clean.
The tables and chairs are even old fashion white marble tops. They did not spare the details with the decor.
The coffee is served in the old fashioned white porcelain cup and saucer. For a time, it was almost impossible to buy these kind of cups because it was so old fashioned. Today, they are back in rage. Like the coffee I clearly remember, they had to be filled to overflowing leaving a sticky mess on the outside of the cup! The coffee I ordered is the Ipoh White Coffee — it’s rich and made even richer with condensed milk. Those days they were brewed using a sock (well, a sock-like sieve).
After the tour of Putrajaya, Terence and Choon Neo brought me to about the only eating place open. You see, Putrajaya, like many new administrative cities like Canberra and Brasilia, is practically dead after 5pm. There is nary a nightlife here.
We went to the outdoor food court of the Taman Warisan Pertanian (the Agricultural Heritage Park). It was very quiet with not many customers, the lighting were dim but the atmosphere was cooling.
We started with ordering drinks. I ordered a glass of iced sugar cane juice. I had been drinking like a fish the past few days. So, I gulped down the entire glass almost instantly. It was really refreshing. Terence and Choon Neo ordered the ABC and young coconut.
For food, I ordered the Mee Goreng which is fried noodles Malay style. Mee Goreng is popular among Malays and can be found in the many outdoor Malay hawker stalls. It is yellow noodles fried with onions, tomatoes, fried tofu, eggs and most importantly chilli. It is a spicy dish.
Sorry about this folks. I just realized that I had not blogged about food for the past three days. OK, here it is … am slowly going back to food starting with a small food review today and back to full food blog tomorrow. He he he … Suanne is enjoying herself the past 2 weeks because she did not have to post anything until my series on my Singapore-Malaysia trip is completed. Suanne had a lot of recipes piled up. Bear with me — I think I have about 1 week of blog materials left on my trip. Anyway, back to the blog for today …
At the base of the Petronas Twin Towers is a shopping complex called the Suria KLCC. The Suria KLCC is perhaps the most upscale shopping complex in KL. There are a total of 6 levels which each level laid out in it’s own distinctive style and character.
It was the Ramadan month when I was in KL and so the Suria KLCC was decked with Malay decorations. At the lower lobby were displays of Malay culture and cultural performances. There was a man playing the angklung which is a traditional Malay musical instrument made of bamboo.
This is the first time I see a 1-man angklung performance. I recall seeing angklung played by a large group of people, each playing an octave — very much like how musical bells are played.
Walking around the complex, I came across this sign below — PREMIUM paid toilet. Oh yeah, Malaysians called washrooms toilets. That is daylight robbery. In Canada, no one pays to use public washrooms but it is quite common in Malaysia to pay 20sen — but RM2.00 is too much.
May King was one of my favourite lunch places during my days working at BAT. This place is located next to a huge wet market called Pudu Pasar. Their specialty is Lam Mee and Curry Mee. This place is always packed during lunch time. It was so packed then that the restaurant owner forces all customers to share tables — shoulder to shoulder! Like a lot of popular restaurants here, you have no choice because the owner could ask you to leave if you don’t like it!! Well, that was years ago … so I am not sure if this still happens.
John and I went to May King at about 3pm, way past lunch time. It was not busy at that time. The bad thing was that they had ran out of curry mee. John was my frequent lunch partner.
May King used to be hot and humid with extremely poor ventilation. I remember eating with sweat pouring down my back and forehead. The shirt sticks to the skin — extremely uncomfortable but then I could just ignore that discomfort.
Today, May King is fully air conditioned and they also have new tiles on the floor and walls. This is definitely more comfortable compared to what I remembered of this place. The service appear much better too — but then maybe it’s because there were not many customers at that time I visited.
I started with ordering a refreshing glass of boiled sugar cane with ice.
The below is their famous Lam Mee. I have no idea what Lam Mee is made of — anyone knows? I just know they were delicious. Oh, see that small plate of chilli? Well, you get ONE for each order. If you want extra chilli, you need to pay 20 sen for each! No where else does a restaurant had the gall to charge for extra chilli. Well, May King could because they are the best … and you can leave if you don’t like it! :-)
I went to the Soo Kee Restaurant in Jalan Imbi TWICE this week. John and Jeff took me to this place on separate occasions. The Soo Kee Restaurant is famous for its “sung har meen” (fresh water prawns) and fried beef hor fun. It is not located exactly on Jalan Imbi but just around the detour/bend when one try to get into Jalan Imbi.
I was told that the owner of the Soo Kee restaurant was from the original Lebuh Pudu’s “tai see tow”. Across the road from Soo Kee is another restaurant that specializes on the same thing. It’s called Soo Kee’s Son Restaurant. Does anyone know the story behind this Soo Kee’s Son restaurant? Is it really owned by Soo Kee’s son?
Anyway, it is Soo Kee Restaurant that is busier. It’s a favourite among the lunch and dinner crowd. Their kitchen is just by the roadside. You can see a lot of cars and buses driving past the congested area.
In terms of comfort, Soo Kee is terrible. It is hot and the restaurant poorly ventilated. Despite this, the restaurant is packed with diners every day. Service wise, it is extremely poor by western standards. However, the food is superb.
Their signature dish is the sung har meen. It is a fried noodle dish with large fresh water prawns. This dish alone costs RM25 (about CAD$8) — very expensive for noodles in Malaysia where noodles could be bought as cheap as RM4. It is the huge prawn that is costs the most.
Hwee Ee is my favourite niece being the only girl in the family for a long time. She was just a small girl the last I saw her. She used to like to tag along Suanne and I when we go out shopping or outing — in many ways, she was like a daughter to us. She is a young woman now. I am so glad to see how she still is the same bubbly and cheerful person I had always known her to be.
Hwee Ee brought me out to try her favourite Fried Spaghetti stall for breakfast. At a glance of the picture below, it does seem like a lot of food for breakfast doesn’t it? Well, Malaysians take very heavy breakfast. Most take noodles and rice for breakfast, believe it or not!
The Fried Spaghetti is not a common dish but a fusion of Malay and Western food. Malaysians like their food spicy and hot. So this dish had a strong taste of spiciness in it. It was a nice touch to have the spaghetti fried with some hot pepper powder — not just softened in boiling water.
On the dish too, there was a sausage, a piece of ham and a fried egg with some salad. It was a big breakfast for me. It was really very tasty — especially the fried spaghetti.
The stall is in one of the many restaurants in Manjalara. I don’t know exactly where it is. Guess how much the above costs? It’s just RM4.20 … which is about CAD$1.40 or USD$1.20!
When I was a teenager, I used to wake up my parents in the middle of the night when I was hungry. No matter what time of the night, they would just bring me out for supper. Sometimes it is as late as 2am in the morning! We would always go to Kim Kee for Bah Kut Teh.
So, the night I am back in Malaysia, I asked that we go out for dinner at the same restaurant. It was reminiscent of the time we had then … the late night drive into downtown and the empty streets. It felt good. The brightly lit Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower looked beautiful.
Kim Kee used to be one of the most famous Bah Kut Teh restaurants many years ago. They were opened 24 hrs. Today, they are no longer what it was then. The restaurant no longer operates 24 hrs and it is not as busy anymore.
The original chef is no longer with them anymore. The quality is not the same as it used to be.
On the last night in Singapore, I was alone with no one to join me for dinner. I remember seeing some brightly lit shophouses behind the hotel I was staying everytime I drove past. So, I thought I take a short walk and check out the shops.
Little did I realize that I had stumbled on the row of restaurants famous for the Katong Laksa. There are several shops serving the Katong Laksa and each claiming to be either the original or the best. They have signs and photos plastered all over the open-air restaurant supporting the claims.
I counted four restaurants along the stretch — each of them numbered. After surveying the stalls, I decided to try out the “49” shop. It’s on 49 East Coast Rd.
Unlike the other type of Laksas, Katong Laksa uses noodles that are cut up into smaller pieces so that the entire dish can be eaten with a spoon alone (without chopsticks).
The coconut-based broth is much thicker than the other variants of Laksa. It is certainly more richer. Also, instead of yellow egg-noodle, they use white lai-fun noodles.
I met up with Keng Choong, Chee Ming and Eng Keong one of the nights I was in Singapore. In my secondary school days, we always hangout together after school and were serving in the Boys Brigade for many years. We were close — we sat next to each other in class too. After secondary school, we each went our way — one went to the US to study, another went to Singapore. We had only met once in the past twenty years.
We have remarked how little each of us had changed. I was really glad to catch up with them and learning how successful they had become. Needless to say, we talked about the good old times in school, and the Boys Brigade.
We met at the East Coast Lagoon Food Centre. It’s a hawker centre where there are stalls serving a host of variety of cheap food. It was really hot and humid that night. I was so thirsty. I ordered a cup of iced cendol.
The shaved ice was refreshing and cooling. The ingredients consist of white coconut milk. thin worm-like pea flour noodles and palm sugar. In addition, they added red beans and jelly.
We ordered some traditional Malay satay to share.
I returned to Singapore on work for three days. The days at work is somewhat OK … not gruelling as I originally anticipated. At the end of the second day of work, Patrick invited the project team out for dinner.
We went to the East Coast Seafood Centre where there were a lot of major seafood restaurants concentrated in the block.
Crabs, in particular chilli crab, is very popular in Singapore. Many people consider the chilli crab the defacto national dish of Singapore. So, the East Coast Seafood Centre is undoubtedly the place to bring guests and visitors to.
Even on a weekday night, the parking lot was quite busy. I was told that the traffic and parking is worse on weekends.
We went to this restaurant which had an unique name: “No Signboard Seafood”.
We started off with a plate of Fried Crispy Baby Squid. I had never tried this before. They were very good — very crispy. A great starter dish.
I told Patrick I wanted to try their chilli crab and left all the ordering to him. However, when the crab came it was not chilli crab! Grrr … instead what he had ordered was the White Pepper Crab (or I think that’s what Patrick said it’s called).