This weekend was set as a food trip. Good friends Zoey and Sharon organized this KL trip and promised to let me sample the best dishes the city was known for. We left for KL around 7PM on a Friday and arrived in KL just before midnight. The culinary adventure commenced on the following day. We had 3 different noodles at breakfast.
Fried Char Kway teow:
literally means “stir-fried ricecake strips”. This was quite spicy than my normal threshold but turned out to be more flavorful that what I’ve tried before.
Pork Noodle: this was served in 2 bowls. One bowl contained the noodles with slightly sweetened minced pork meat and other veggies, and another bowl for the soup with pork balls with topping of spring onions.
Kueh, or Nyonya Kuehs were generally rice cake desserts prepared in the Peranakan style. Most of the sweets contained coconut, or coconut milk and glutinous rice. The taste were quite familiar as Filipinos also used the same ingredients in our desserts/snacks.
The Jewel Box:
We opted to get a light snack after hours of malling. We went to this Taiwanese Stall and ordered their popular dish. The Jewel Box was a thick toast with the bread carved out. Upon opening the top part, a hearty, thick medley of seafood and veggies was revealed. It’s almost like Chicken Kiev but served in a different type of bread.
My friends promised me the best of the best and this was by far the best Nasi Lamak I have ever tried (both in SG and KL). It was located in the outskirts of the city, the assembly line of Nasi Lamak and Maggi Goreng was below street level. The patrons dined in the street. Nobody seemed to mind if the tables and chairs were set in a slope and you constantly had to guard your food from sliding. The chicken was very flavorful and you can smell the aroma from meters away. The servers were very fast and efficient in serving out plates after plates of comfort food to their hungry clientele. A plateful of Nasi Lamak consisted of fried rice, egg, sliced cucumbers, sambal chilli and chicken. Together with our glass of lime juice, the whole meal was only MYR6.00 or about SG$2.50.
Bak Kut Teh
We decided to go to the Bak Kut Teh place for breakfast the next day. Again, this seemed to be a popular joint as evidenced by the wall of fame in the restaurant that featured the celebrities who may have eaten there or the articles written about the place. Finally our Bak Kut Teh was served teeming hot in a claypot. There was also a bowl of bread fritters served on the side and I was told that the best way to eat it was to let it soak in the Bak Kut Teh soup. The pork was tender and the soup was a nice balance of herbs, soy and vinegar.
Almost similar to the Bak Kut Teh, the Pork Vinegar was also served in a traditional claypot. The soup was thicker and the pork part included the pork knuckles. The pork skin on the knuckles were almost gelatinous and the meat fell off from the bones. This must have been cooked for a long time to get this texture. It was quite similar to our Pork Paksiw as it’s main ingredient was vinegar.
The weekend was too short but I managed to try a lot of different dishes that I have not tried before. I will definitely include this in my itinerary next time I visit KL.
24-25 March 2011
Spent the last night of my vacay in Kuala Lumpur. I have not seen the iconic Petronas Towers and decided to pass by KL on our way back to Singapore. The building was a beauty during daytime and more so at night.
We mall hopped during the day and chilled out at night at the Pavillion. We managed to squeeze in going to Krispy Kreme at Berjaya Times Square to get my sugar fix.
19-23 March 2011
We decided to cut our stay in Vietnam short since the weather was uncooperative. From Hanoi, we headed down to Ho Chi Minh City previously known as Saigon then travelled by bus from Ho Chi Minh to Siam Reap. It was an epic 10 hour bus ride. We reached Siam Reap past 10pm and managed to negotiate with Bad Bull-a tuktuk driver to show us around town including the Angkor Wat tour during our stay.
We checked in Frangipani the following day. I love this boutique hotel. The room is spacious, the staff were warm and it was quite near the town center. There were bikes that guests can borrow to get around.
We spent the 1st day by checking out the town market for souvenir shopping. Bad Bull took us to Ton Le Sap Lake (Floating Village), it was drizzling when we reached it. A lot of reviews mentioned that this was a tourist trap but we still decided to check it out. There was a crocodile farm in the middle of the floating complex along with schools, stores, even lying in clinics for mom-to-be’s. The boatman told us that families of 6-7 could fit in a small makeshift hut on stilts. It was quite an eye opener to learn the perils and difficulties these people face as they were in a constant look out for rising waters if it rained too much.
We went back to Pub Street and had dinner at Khmer Kitchen to try the local fare. I had Chicken Amok which we’re told was a popular Khmer dish. There were other meats to choose from, even fish. It was cooked in coconut milk, fish sauce, special fermented shrimp paste and local herbs and spices. The dish was surprisingly good. We went to the clubs next together with another tourist from we met on the bus. Beer was .50, cocktails were at US$1.50 what’s not to love in Siam Reap night life?
We went to Angkor Wat the following day. Bad bull fetched us from the hotel around 5AM in order to catch the sunrise at the Angkor Wat Temple. The place was teeming with tourists from all over and were trying to get the best vantage point to capture the perfect sunrise shot. As the dawn broke the vast complex was revealed to the eager audience. I couldn’t help but be awed by the craftsmanship of the structure. It was inscribed as a UNESCO Heritage site and rightfully so.
We explored the iconic temple and saw details in the mason work all over. Beautiful patterns and graceful reliefs peppered the walls. I’ve always thought it was a palace and I was surprised to learn that it was a temple. Apart from these complexes, there where no other non-religious structures apparently because “only the Gods deserved to have residences made of stone.”
We headed back to hotel for breakfast and a nap and went back to check the other temple complex after lunch. Suffice to say we got templed out.
We spent our 3rd day hunting for the delectable creepy crawlies which my friend wanted to try. After much prodding, I tried the fried froglets and locusts, they tasted like a mix of fried chicken skin/peanuts/fried fish. I can imagine this would’ve tasted better dipped in spicy vinegar. I passed on trying the black beetle looking insect and the cockroach looking one-they were just plain nasty.
Overall Siam Reap did not disappoint. The locals were warm and friendly, Angkor Wat was beyond words, the dishes were scrumptious and the booze were dirt cheap. The 10-hour bus ride was definitely worth it!
16-18 March 2011
This was my first trip in this part of Indochina. Our plan was to go to Halong Bay-inscribed as a UNESCO Heritage Site, briefly explore Hanoi, then head south to Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately the weather was less cooperative when we reached Hanoi. It was drizzling and was very cold and we were not geared for such weather. We met other tourists who just came from Halong Bay and said that it was almost zero visibility in the area when they left.
We decided to try our luck and still made our way to Cat Ba Island the following day. It was colder there than in Hanoi. I had to layer in about 3 shirts and it still felt inadequate.
We had Pho for the third time in 2 days. It turned into a habit. Pho carts were a commonplace, it was cheap and downright delish! We spent the night at The Noble House- base of the Slo Pony Adventure. They created unique adventure packages for tourist who wanted to veer away from the cookie cut activities offered in the area. My friend wanted climb limestone karsts in in Halong and my role was to document it. We decided not to sign up anymore as the weather was still unstable. We opted to take a short boat ride instead with a side trip to visit a cave near the bay.
We could see the karsts from the boat and it felt that we were so near and yet so far. And since we did not exactly reach Halong Bay itself, we made a promise to come back again soon.