Ellie Tropical Cuisine in Richmond

Update 26-Apr-2009: Ellie had closed. Seems like this place will re-open as a vegetarian place.

Saturday came around again. Suanne does not cook on weekends. She always insisted it’s her day off. This time we decided to check out one of the Malaysian-slash-Taiwanese “cuisine” restaurants in Richmond.

No, no … Ellie is not one of those fusion restaurants. When they say that they are a Malaysian-Taiwanese restaurant, it’s just that they serve food from both Malaysia and Taiwan (beef noodles). Anyway, it’s located at 3779 Sexsmith Road in Richmond.

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We stuck with the simple Malaysian food this visit. Nanzaro is addicted to fried rice. You know, everytime he gets the menu in the restaurant, he will flip the pages and scan if they have fried rice on it.

He ordered a Belacan Fried Rice. The belacan gives a distinctive pungent smell and taste to the rice. It was pretty good, I must say. Cost: $8.95.

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Red Door Nyonya Cuisine

On my last full day in Malaysia, I brought my niece and nephews for brunch in the neighborhood shopping mall. It was only about a 5 minutes drive to the Jusco shopping mall in Kepong. There were a lot of choices at the mall and it took us a while to decide where to eat.

We came across the Red Door. What enticed us was the big poster of their menu. They serve mainly traditional Malaysian food, specifically Nyonya cuisine.

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Oh yeah, I had always wanted to say this. In Malaysia, the standard cutlery is a spoon and a fork for almost all food except for noodles. When I first came to Canada, it took me a while to get used the cutleries issued, which is just a fork and knife. We got to ask for a spoon. Canadians used a fork even for rice where in Malaysia, the spoon is used to scoop up the rice and the fork is to push food onto the spoon.

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I ordered the Sambal Fish Rice. This dish came with two fish about 8 inches long. Don’t know what type of fish this is though. The chilli sauce is a bit sourish and certainly spicy. The okra (known better as ladies fingers in Malaysia) and eggplant (or Brinjal) adds a good balance to the spicy-sourish taste to the chilli.

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The Sambal Fish Rice came with prawn crackers, fried peanuts, eggs and the sambal. I like mixing it all up before diving in. This dish costs RM9.80 (less than USD $3).

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Supper in Putrajaya

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.

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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.

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: May King’s Lam Mee

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.

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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.

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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! ­čÖé

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Bah Kut Teh for Breakfast

Bah Kut Teh is a Malaysian dish originally eaten at breakfast. Nowadays, you may get Bah Kut Teh at any time of the day. Mum and dad brought me out for a Bah Kut Teh breakfast one morning in a neighborhood shops.

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Bah Kut Teh is a soup concoction cooked in a claypot with parts of a pig. The soup consists of several herbs and spices (such as cinnamon, cloves, garlic, etc) which is boiled with the meat for several hours. Soy sauce is added to provide taste and colour to the soup.

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There are many variants of Bah Kut Teh. The one above is the thicker version of the Bah Kut Teh. Bah Kut Teh is best eaten with rice. As you may see, Bah Kut Teh is not a healthy dish at all. There are a lot of meat and most of the meat served has a thick layer of fat. Of course, you could order parts that had lesser fat, such as spare ribs.

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Kedah House on SE Marine Drive

I was glad to see last month another Malaysian restaurant has opened on SE Marine Drive in Vancouver — just off the Knight Street Bridge. This Kedah House restaurant is owned by the same operator of the Kedah House along Fraser St. It looks like they are going to close the one along Fraser and moving (or have moved?) to this new larger premises. They have a website at http://kedahhouse.com and listed their menu … go check it out.

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Unlike the many other Malaysian restaurants, this one is owned and operated by Malays. Most other Vancouver area restaurants are chinese owned. So this adds a lot of authenticity to the claim of being truly Malay restaurant.

Don’t expect too much in terms of decor or ambiance from this place. The food was not bad and the prices are, well, berpatutan (reasonable in Malay). We had been to the old restaurant several times before. This new place is surprisingly quite busy on a Saturday afternoon.

I ordered the Lamb Nasi Beryani which is basmati rice with aromatic spices and turmeric. Although it was flavourful, I was somewhat disappointed with the lamb — they are boney and does not have much meat at all. I prefer lamb meat in chunks. This dish is served with a bowl of curry.

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Arkensen and Nanzaro wanted fried rice and opted for the Nasi Goreng Kedah (Kedah fried rice). This dish is served with a flat Malay-style omelette covering the entire dish.

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Malaysian Hut Restaurant

Man shall not live by bread alone …
~ Moses

Today, we were invited by Bernie and his family to try out a Malaysian restaurant in Surrey. Bernie hails from the Pearl of the Orient, Penang. The restaurant we went to is called Malaysian Hut and is managed by Irene Chang, a baba-nyonya, from Sibu, Sawarak. Irene is a very friendly person who came out and chatted briefly with us. The restaurant has been operating at the 108th Avenue for more than five years. They were featured twice recently in The Province. Anyway, Irene is the tall one in the picture below.

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We decided to order different types of dishes for sharing so that we all get the chance to try out varieties. So, we ordered Char Koay Teow, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Curry Laksa and Asam Laksa. The servings were pretty generous. Of all the dishes, the Char Koay Teow and the Hainanese Chicken Rice are the most popular. We ordered an extra serving of rice because there were more chicken leftover.

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Arkensen and Nanzaro rated the Char Koay Teow a “five”. For me, I will rate the Char Koay Teow a little lower. It is because that dish does not have the two MOST important ingredients: crispy fried lard (gee yow jar) and cockles. Anyway, I have not come across Char Koay Teow so far in Vancouver that has these two ingredients. It is perhaps because Vancouverites are just plain afraid of Hepatitis and clogged arteries! ­čÖé I will grudgingly give it a 4.5.

The best Char Koay Teow I have tasted was the stall behind the Selangor Emporium in Jalan TAR … I wonder if that stall is still around. Let me know your favourite place for Char Koay Teow, especially one that has “gee yow jar” and raw cockles!

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