Friday, July 9, 2010

Lynn's Welcome Home Dinner

My ex-schoolmate Lynn is back in Malaysia for a short 2 week visit with her husband. We took her to Amarin Thai in Mid Valley for a welcome home dinner. The food's pretty good abeit a lil pricy.

We ordered 2 appetizers - Mieng Kam which is a type of leaf is used as a base and you will need to slather some coconut sauce on it before putting the other ingredients on it, wrap it and pop in your mouth. It is not spicy unless you decide to put in the birds eye chillies.

Next up was the platter.

There was Tom Yam and Green Curry but no pictures as we were too busy digging in.

This is the steamed tilapia in lime and chilli broth. Very fresh fish and the appetizing spicy sour sauce was good.

Mixed Vegetables

Prawn Cupcakes? No...these are Otak-Otak...but I prefer the nyonya styled ones more...

It was great meeting Lynn and Shiranee again after all these years.

The bill came up to RM240 something which was ok as we had a total of 7 dishes, rice, 7 desserts and drinks for the 8 of us.

Yummy Food at Ipoh - May 30 Weekend

During our Kuala Sepetang trip, we stopped by Ipoh to have breakfast at Paris Restaurant. They are famous for their Hakka Mee. What exactly is Hakka Mee? It is handmade egg noodles that are chewy (does not have alkaline) served dry style with a tablespoon of minced pork meat on it.

This noodles is accompanied with stuffed tofu, meatballs, fishballs, "sar kok" (deep fried turnip), and stuffed fish paste bean curd skin.

I totally love the pork balls as there are bits of dried cuttlefish in it and it makes the ball ultra delicious and more appetizing! Those pork balls are the ones with the brown bits on them...I am drooling already...!

After Kuala Sepetang, I wanted to try their famous Mee Udang but the weather was so hot and I was afraid of food poisoning.Hence, we went back to Ipoh for lunch. We settled for Kong Heng and ordered our favourite pork satay and "Gai See Hor Fun" or Shredded Chicken meat with flat rice noodles. The soup is not just made with chicken bones, it is made from prawn head and shells giving it the rich and sweet flavour that makes it so unique.

The pork satay is finally open after 4 failed attempts previously to taste the satay. There is the option of pork fillet, pork intestine and pork coagulated blood cubes. I don't like pork coagulated blood cubes when they are served with congee as it has that gelatinuous texture but when it's been grilled, it tastes exactly like liver and tastes real good!

The peanut sauce is different from the ones you would get in Malacca as the one here is purely roasted peanut sauce whereas the one in Malacca has pineapple puree added in it. The concept of pork satay here is different. The owner and his son will go around topping up the sticks of satay but you will only pay for the sticks that you have eaten. They are very smart.

At night, we had Hakka Mee and beef noodles again but this time at Wilson's relative's shop. The beef tendon balls were so delicious! I enjoyed the white radish soup although I'd prefer the white radish more tender :)

On the next day, we went to try Ming Court Dim Sum located opposite Foh San. Whilst the rest went there first, Hunny and I set off to Simee Market to buy the famous egg tarts at 6.45am.

My supplier from Eastern Decorater when I was still with Tesco as an Asst Buyer many years back used to bring a box of these scrumptious goodies each time he comes to my office. The pastry is many crisp layers with a wobbly eggy custard. Tastes better than Cockman Street's and Tong Kee Egg Tarts in my opinion. Beware though, there are other egg tarts in Simee Market. Don't buy the wrong ones! Hunny and I nearly bought the wrong ones but luckily we bought one and I had a taste and was very sure it wasn't the right one. So off we went to google for the correct egg tart brand and thank heavens for Hunny's maxis internet on his phone, we located the corrected one. Please find the signboard CHOY KEE.

The egg tarts weren't ready yet but we were very lucky that we were there early and I placed my order for 36 egg tarts before the usual crowd poured in. My Hunny kept teasing me on how I deprieved the old timers (regulars) of their usual breakfast of an egg tart and another pastry to go with their coffee. The egg tarts will come per tray of 40 pieces and since I have ordered 36 pieces and there were 2 customers in front of me, there were only 2 left and we could see the disappointed faces on the rest of the customers as this would mean they would have to wait another 15 to 20 minutes before the next tray of egg tarts will appear.

After getting this precious purchase, we went to Ming Court to meet up with the rest. The dimsum there were daintier and more $$$ than Foh San.

It was totally unsatisfying for us hearty eaters and we soon packed up and hopped across to Foh San for heartier pieces.

Yummy Foh San Dimsum!!!

Siu Mai!! So big and appetizing~~~~

Har Gow (Prawn Dumplings). At least 2 and half big prawns in each dumpling!

vs. Ming Court's Dainty morsel??

No more Ming Court Dim Sum for us. Foh San Dim Sum rocks! After dim sum, we went back to the hotel and pack up before coming back to PJ.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bunny Visits Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory - May 30th 2010

Bunny and Friends visited Ipoh and also Kuala Sepetang during the final weekend of May. We didn't have exact directions to get here and once we reached Kuala Sepetang, we headed towards town only to almost overshot the charcoal factory but luckily I saw the charcoal factory signboard. We had to reverse to get in there. Mr. Chuah's factory is the first one on the road. It was so "ulu" as we had no Maxis signal there.

There are 3 charcoal factories on that stretch of road. Please be warned not to take any photos in the 2nd charcoal factory (which is sandwiched in between Mr. Chuah's and the 3rd charcoal factory). The Malay owner is very rude and does not like photos to be taken in his premises. You might get a charcoal chunk thrown at u if you persist in taking photos there.

An overview of the factory on the inside

We arrived at 9am. It was not too hot but was low tide. Best time for tourists to get there will be around 1.30pm when the water canal flows in on high tide and tourists will also get a chance to go on a river cruise through the mangrove forests nearby at the tourist center.

Mr. Chuah is a jolly owner of the Chuah's Charcoal factory. There are many charcoal factories located in Kuala Sepetang itself! Each factory there is allocated a certain amount of land in hectares for a year to harvest the mangrove trees to turn them into charcoal. Everything is controlled by the govt to avoid over logging.

Mr. Chuah explained further that mangrove trees are important to the ecosystem and helps protect the land from being hit by tsunamis like the huge one that happened a few years back. Now, India, Indonesia, China have also started planting mangrove trees to help block any untoward incidences involving tsunamis. Besides that, the mangrove trees also provide a protective shelter for fish and shell fishes. Each mangrove tree can only be harvested after they turn 28 years old! Each factory owner is allocated a lot of land but that does not mean that there will be ready stock of wood to be harvested. The wood pile stocks are everywhere. The wood must be sun dried for a few days before they enter the kilns. My..My...28 year old mangrove trees are still so skinny..!!

After the logs are fully sun dried, the worker will remove the bark off the trees. If left on, the ash dust will be alot.

The barks are not wasted and they go into a fire pile to be turned into ashes for plant fertilizers.

Each oven kiln is handmade by a kiln sifu who uses no set paper plan to build it. Each kiln is built from years of experience by the estimation theory. Each kiln is built from 22,000 pieces of RED bricks and is held together by clay.

The kilns are used to smoke and dry and turn the live wood into charcoal. The process takes 28 days starting with heavy fire burning from outside 24 hours a day and gradually the fire will turn smaller after the sifu detects that the wood is almost ready. The wood will need a further 3 to 5 days to cool down before they can be taken out of the kiln as the temperature is very very high. The logs are arranged systematically so as to be able to fit more in the kiln. 1 kiln can hold 10 tons of mangrove wood and after 28 days of continuous burning and evaporation, the end product only weights 1 ton =.=

There are 6 outlets at the sides of the kiln to let the water vapour out from the mangrove logs and is collected in barrels. According to Mr. Chuah, the evaporated water has many beneficials and is exported out to Japan to beauty product companies as an ingredient to make skin care products. The water is actually blood red in color as this type of Mangrove trees used are red wood.

Nothing is wasted here. The tree barks that has been removed will be burnt to ashes and packed as healthy fertilizer for plants. Wood chips will also be turned into charcoal bits and are a vital ingredient for orchid farming.

Here is the finished product. This lorry load is going to be sent to Europe. The customers who buy the charcoal include orders from Europe, China and Japan.

There are plenty of mangy friendly dogs at the charcoal factories and some of the puppies are so cute! They crunched up my store bought dehydrated deer liver pieces in no time and came running to me for more.

It was a truly enjoyable trip there and although it was so hot outside, it was surprisingly kind of cool in the charcoal factory except those areas near the kiln.

I wouldn't mind coming back here when the tide is high and I would love to take a mangrove river cruise one day. Enjoy my photos. I made the mistake of taking most photos in sepia mode....should have taken in full color and convert the color modes mannually.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Nambawan - June 2010

Oops...didn't blog for month of June...oops...

We went to Nambawan after long hiatus and sat down for a scrumptious lunch. The roast pork belly has increased by RM1 to RM13.90 which is justifiable considering pork price has increased 5 to 6 times since last year!

I had really yummy slow cooked lamb shank (RM25.90) that was marinated in red wine marinade for a day before being slow roasted in the oven for 5 to 6 years. The meat was so tender and smooth and flavoursome....i really miss eating it now. This is not a regular on the menu's only available on certain weekends. Best is to call and ask for the weekend specials...same goes to the Roast Pork Belly as well.

Hunny had Roast Pork Belly but he found it a lil too fatty as he prefers the leaner cut but all the same, still tasty and check out that huge portion. RM13.90

I really enjoyed the lamb shank...I even sucked the marrow out...yums!

Well done Nambawan! Another satisfying meal once again :)