Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Katong Laksa

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.

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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.

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: East Coast Lagoon Food Centre

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.

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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.

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We ordered some traditional Malay satay to share.

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: East Coast Seafood Centre

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.

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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”.

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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.

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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).

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Aeroline Bus Trip

After staying for two days in Kuala Lumpur, I had to get to Singapore for the next four days on work. I decided to take the bus from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and booked for a seat in the Aeroline website (https://www.aeroline.com.my/index.html). The trip costs RM80 (about USD $22) for the 5hr journey from downtown KL to downtown Singapore.

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I took the bus just half a block from the KLCC, or better known to the world as the Petronas Twin Towers. The Twin Towers was the tallest buildings in the world.

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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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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Homecoming Dinner

Food had always been central to the Chinese Malaysian culture. There is always food in almost every event. We celebrate birthdays by eating out. Weddings almost always involved a banquet for lots of people. Many times business deals are concluded over dinner. Believe it or not, even in a funeral, there are lots of food.

I knew this would happen when I got home. The first thing the family would do would be to go out for dinner. It had been years since I got to sit down for a dinner with my parents and my brother and sister. And it sure felt good for me — I just enjoyed such a setting catching up with each other.

My brother and sister paid for the dinner today. It was quite a spread and what more, the total damage just came up to about USD$80 for 12 people. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but it’s somewhere Taman Maluri.

Here is what we had:

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Deep fried Pork Spareribs with honey. I love these things. I like wiping whatever little meat gravy on the rice — give a good flavour to the rice.

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Hotplate Tofu. This was served sizzling — the sizzling, the aroma really entices you to reach for one.

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Sambal Kangkung is a very Chinese Malaysian dish. It is wok-fried in a belacan (a pungent shrimp paste sauce) and hot chilli peppers. Continue reading

Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Pepsi

I am having a miserable time once I got out from the air-conditioned airport. It’s so incredibly hot and humid here in Kuala Lumpur. Sigh … I’m all sticky. Been taking cold showers but to no avail. The moment I step out from the shower, I start sweating again.

So, within the first hour at my parent’s house, I went to Jusco (a supermarket) to get some soft drinks and stock up the fridge. Found some Pepsi (I prefer Pepsi over Coke anytime) on the shelves.

First there was the normal Pepsi. Then there is two other types of Pepsi which I have not come across in Canada. The Pepsi Max and Pepsi Tarik. I am pretty sure that Pepsi Tarik is only available in South East Asia because Tarik is the Malay word for “pulled”.

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The Pepsi Max, oddly, is the no-sugar version of Pepsi. I would have thought that a more apt name would be Pepsi Zero, or Pepsi Min or something like that.

Now the Pepsi Tarik, I am pretty sure, is only sold in Malaysia and Singapore. It’s a blend of Pepsi with Coffee. The taste is weird to me. If anything, it does not taste anything that resemble coffee at all. Maybe it’s just me.

I am not having a great time. For a long time, I had not come across cockroaches at all. Also, I have not been bitten by mosquitoes for so many years. Now I am swatting mosquitoes all night long. Those blood sucking mosquitoes are huge and drinks pints of my blood! Sigh … not to mention there are ants … scurrying all over my precious Pepsi.

Singapore-Malaysia Trip: My Comfort Food

I just realize something about myself.

While waiting for my connection from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, I had a few hours to kill at the Changi Airport. I am impressed with the Changi Airport and do think that this is really the best airport in the world. They have won countless awards over the years. Just this year they were awarded the Best Airport by Skytrax. Why, they have almost anything a traveller would need — they have internet stations everywhere — for free. The internet stations are even equiped with video cam.

After checking out the airport and the shops, I headed to the 24-hour food center. It was late and not many stalls were opened. I thought I grab something to eat, sit down and do some reading. I ordered the BBQ pork noodle soup which costs $7.

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Man, I suddenly realize how much I missed a simple bowl of noodle soup. Despite the gourmet meals I had on Business Class hours ago, this simply beats them hands down. I felt so good and it suddenly hit me how close I am to “home”. This is truly my definition of comfort food.

Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Business Class on Singapore Airlines

This was one long haul trip. I was travelling from Vancouver to Singapore a few days ago on work. Since Malaysia is just minutes from Singapore downtown, I will be taking at least a week off work to visit family and friends — and most of all eat all the food I so missed all these years.

The trip took a total of 19 hours. At least I was travelling in Business Class. Singapore Airlines’ Business Class is known as Raffles Class. I normally dread long-haul flights but this time I really enjoyed myself. The food was great, the service was superb. I felt so pampered and full rested by the time I got to Singapore. What made the difference the most was the fact that I could sleep on flight because the seat could actually recline!

Even before I got to settle down, the stewardess came around with a tray of champagne, juice and cocktail. I chose the Golden Spice cocktail which was really refreshing. This appears to be a lime cordial with a spicy relish, pineapple juice and ginger ale. I had a lot of drinks during the flight and tried to try every one on their menu.

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The flight has an in-flight entertainment system which includes movies, TV shows, and Nintendo games. Each seat has its own personal television. The movies and TV shows were the on-demand type where I could pause, rewind and so on from my seat control. There was a selection of 80 movies of various kind. On the flight I caught the Da Vinci Code. I like computer games but the Nintendo games was downright childish and game that a miss.

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Next they issued me socks. Nice touch. It felt so good taking off the shoes and donning the socks.

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Of course, there is the ubiquitous packets of nuts.

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There are a total three meals served throughout the 19hr flight. Two of the meals are full meals while one is what they called a light meal — which is not light in every sense of the word!

For the dinner menu, I started off with Satay with onions and cucumber.

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Oh yeah, they actually setup the seat tray with table cloth. The tray was large and I really had the meal in comfort.

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Next came the Marinated Prawns salad. The prawns were succulent but I am not a great fan of cold prawns.

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They came by with a basket of various type of bread. The garlic bread looked really good. They looked better than it tasted. I mean, I had much better garlic bread before. I prefer garlic bread which is crusty but this one is a soft.

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For the main, I selected the Poached Chicken Breast with garlic mashed potato, sauteed spinach and creamed morel. I selected this primarily because the menu indicated this is an exclusive creation by Nancy Oakes (who?) of San Francisco.

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I also had the coconut and mango ice-cream. The taste was unique but too airy.

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They next came with a push cart of some gourmet cheese selection. I asked for one of each to sample.

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For coffee, I chose the Kenyan AA Kilimanjaro coffee from their gourmet coffee menu. This is a very dark brew with an intense flavour. It was so good that I ordered this two other times during the flight.

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To end the meal, they came by with a nice tray of chocolates. I felt like asking them to leave the entire tray with me!

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That was just one meal. Frankly, it was too much food. By the third meal, I could not finish what was on the plates. You know, I had weighed myself before I left for the airport. At the rate I am going, I am afraid I will have gained quite a lot of weight.

Anyway, I really had a great time on the flight. There are a few more pictures of the food I had on the flight. Click on the link below for them.

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Vietnamese Sub from Hue Cafe in Richmond

I’m off to catch a flight to Singapore. The flight is in the afternoon and I have not have a confirmed ticket yet. Calling the reservation office yesterday, they told me I should have no problem getting a seat on the flight but I need to be there as soon as the checkin counter opens to get onto the wait list.

The family wanted to see me off at the airport. So, we decided grab something to eat at the airport while waiting for my flight to be confirmed. There’s this new Hue Cafe little shop we notice along No 3 Road each time we drive past the Richmond Center. We would not have given that place a second thought if not for the big sign that reads “Vietnamese Sub: 4 for $10”. It was just what we wanted — sandwiches to-go for the airport.

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They have dark windows and you could barely see the insides. However, when we got in we were pleasantly surprised how clean and tastefully decorated they were. It’s much better than the many Vietnamese restaurants we frequented.

They have limited menu — primarily subs and pho. The prices were very cheap too. Their pho is only about $4.50 each. We ordered the 4 subs for $10 and decided to choose different types. We chose pork, chicken, beef and meatballs.

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