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Category: Asia and Australia (page 2 of 4)

oink’s guide to … Kuala Lumpur! A&W and Secret Recipe. Oh and a souvenir!

One of the reasons I like to go to Malaysia is because of A&W. We used to have A&W in Singapore but it just went poof in the 90s.

Round one

I dragged Agnes (who stays in the Land of Fast Food) and Amy to A&W for lunch. We all had coney dogs, and curly fries and root beer. Till this day, I still think A&W’s coney dog is one of the best hotdogs around. Soft potato bun, mystery meat hotdog and topped with rich meaty gravy – this is my version of heaven. To some, this may seem like crap food. To me, this is nostalgia, this is childhood in a bun!

Curly fries

Coney dog

Surprisingly (or not), we devoured the curly fries in minutes. I went to the counter to get us our third and fourth servings of fries. This time round, the fries were fresh out of the fryer – they were hot and crispy, and simply delicious. I wished I can say I like the root beer. Unfortunately it was rather flat. So yes we left quite a bit untouched.

My little souvenir

The A&W outlet we went was two-storey – the counter was downstairs and we were seated upstairs. We were left alone most of the time and hardly anyone was there. And there I was staring at the A&W tray, thinking, “hey that is a very nice tray”. The logo was silkscreened onto the tray, and it looked so old school. Next thing you know (everything happened so fast, it was a blur), Amy took out her shopping bag and see if we can fit the tray. Of course it didn’t fit. And my best friend (that is why she is my best friend) Agnes came to the rescue and whipped up her shopping bag which fit the tray perfectly. So we quietly walked out of A&W with my small acquisition.

The three of us shopped around Bukit Bintang area and we decided to stop for tea and cake. For me, the tea break must take place at Secret Recipe. Yes we do have Secret Recipe in Singapore but they suck. They are just not as good as the ones in Malaysia (birthplace).

We each ordered a cake – blackforest, Oreo cheesecake and banana chocolate cake. The banana chocolate cake was to die for. People who know me know how much I hate the “cheap chocolate” taste – Secret Recipe’s chocolate mousse was light and free of that “cheapy” taste. And bananas and chocolate were like best friend forever.

We love cakes!

If you are not a fan of bananas or chocolate (I seriously don’t think we can be friends), you can try the Oreo cheesecake which was rich and not too cheesy. I also love their blackforest cake which was light and those juicy cherries.

There may be a lot of great hawker food around Kuala Lumpur. Still every time I am there, it’s inevitable that I must go to A&W and Secret Recipe. It is an addiction.

A&W (Bukit Bintang)
118 Ground Floor, Jalan Bukit Bintang 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Opening hours: 10.00am–11.00pm (daily)

Secret Recipe (Bukit Bintang)
106-108, Ground Floor, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Opening hours: 11.30am–11.30pm (daily)

oink’s guide to … Kuala Lumpur! Snowflake

After our dinner at Soo Kee Restaurant, we made our way to Pavillion where Amy was dying to introduce me to Snowflake (Taiwanese Dessert Secrets).


Snowflake’s specialty is shaved ice dessert which you can also choose toppings such as taro balls, tapioca pearls, sweet potatoes, red beans and so on, to go with it. At times, they do have limited edition flavour combination. And I got the Japanese edition on that night while Amy went for her favourite Sesame Sensation.

These are what we ordered

The Japanese version consisted of matcha flavoured taro balls, red beans and tapioca pearls with shaved ice. I regretted ordering it – the taro balls were bland and have hardly any taste of matcha. For a dessert, it was lacking in the “sweet” department.

Sesame Sensation

On the other hand, Amy’s Sesame Sensation was sensational. Beside the similar toppings, her shaved ice was doused with finely grated peanuts, making it tasty and flavourful. And the black sesame flavoured taro balls were a delight. I could taste the black sesame without being overpowered by it. The taro balls and the peanut shaved ice just go so well together.

I liked the Sesame Sensation so much that on our last day in Kuala Lumpur, I dragged Aggy back to Pavillion to have one last bite (despite the fact that I was really full from lunch).

Before you start making plans to go to Snowflake and have Sesame Sensation, unfortunately they have discontinued it. On the website, Snowflake said they will bring it back, so do check it out for updates.

Snowflake – Taiwanese Dessert Secrets
Level 4, Pavilion KL (outside Padini Concept Store)
Open hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm (daily)
(They have outlets around Malaysia, do check their website for details)

oink’s guide to … Kuala Lumpur! Soo Kee Restaurant

Last December, my best friend Agnes (I call her Aggy) was in Singapore for a visit (she is currently based in Denver, Colorado). She was thinking of a short getaway and Kuala Lumpur just popped.

This is what we call snacks

Aggy and I arrived in Kuala Lumpur in the late afternoon. And we were both famished. We didn’t want to eat anything too heavy as we were meeting Amy and her partner Terence for dinner. As Pavillion (shopping mall) was opposite our hotel (Westin), we went over for a quick snack, i.e. curry chicken, steamed bread and coffee at Old Town White Coffee cafe.

Once we were done with our “snack”, we went back to our hotel for a quick shower and met up with Amy and Terence who brought us to a nearby coffee shop for dinner.

Soo Kee Restaurant is this small and cosy coffee shop along Medan Imbi. The kitchen is open and exposed, so you can see who and how your food is being cooked. Over at Soo Kee, they are famous for two dishes – Beef Hor Fun and Sang Har Mee (fresh water prawns noodles). We also ordered a plate of stir-fry Chinese lettuce to share.

Stir-fry Chinese lettuce

Beef Hor Fun

For the Beef Hor Fun, the beef was perfectly cooked or rather the way I liked it – medium rare – tender and not chewy. The hor fun was silky soft, and the gravy was peppery and salty.

Sang Har Mee

I do wish I had that much love for the Sang Har Mee. I am a fan of sang mee but the sauce was extremely salty. And the sauce was vital to the crispy sang mee. That said, Soo Kee was rather generous with the “har” (prawn) – they were gigantic and juicy.

While we were finishing up, a thunderstorm pelted towards us. And we were asked to evacuate from our “outdoor” seating as the rainwater was flooding into the coffee shop. The scene was hilarious, it was like one of those “end of the world” movie – water started coming in, people moving their things around, and trying to run away. Like any good movie, we, of course, narrowly escaped.

Soo Kee Restaurant
14, Medan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Opening hours:12.00pm-3.00pm, 5.30pm-1.30am (Tue-Sun) (closed on Mon)

oink’s guide to … melaka! Pak Putra Tandoori and Naan Restoran

On Lynda’s list, one of the places we must go was Pak Putra Tandoori and Naan Restoran. Though not located along the (ever popular) Jonker Street, Pak Putra was still pretty packed, and people just kept streaming in.

Pak Putra

Of course, with the name of restaurant, we got to order the tandoori chicken and naan. We also got some dhal and butter chicken.

Tandoori chicken

Butter chicken

The tandoori chicken lived up to its reputation – it was smokey and tender. Even though I was not feeling well, I can’t help but kept eating it – the chicken breast was moist too. My next favourite dish was the butter chicken. It has been awhile since I had a good butter chicken – they always turned out watery, too spicy or just plain blah. I love Pak Putra’s version – the spices provided enough heat, it was creamy without being too rich, and yes I want to lick the bowl clean.

If you are looking for non-Nonya food or simply sick of chicken rice ball, give Pak Putra a try and remember to order the butter chicken.

Pak Putra Tandoori and Naan Restoran
Jalan Laksamana 4, Melaka, Malaysia

oink’s guide to … Melaka! Street food

After our dinner at Nancy’s Kitchen, one of the things I wanted to do when we were in Melaka was to take the River Cruise. For RM10 per person, this 45 minutes River Cruise featured some of Melaka’s famous landmarks, and it had a voice over narration telling you stories behind selected places. If you have time to spare, go for it – it’s a good, cheap thrill and an education ride.

Melaka River Cruise

Once we were done with the ride, we took a walk along the famous Jonker Street’s night market. The street was littered with hawkers selling local souvenir, clothes and of course food.

We noticed that several stalls at Jonker Street were selling the popular Korean snack –Tornado Potato. Basically the hawker would stick a potato onto a slicer which produced thin slices of potatoes in spiral form. Once that was done, they put it in a deep fryer for a couple of minutes and seasoned with the requested flavour.

Tornado Potato!

Satisfied customer

Amy was fascinated by this. In the end, Amy narrowed down this female hawker as she reckoned the hawker has the “biggest” potato. They have several flavours – sour cream, cheddar cheese, chilli lime and so on. We tried sour cream on the first night and cheddar cheese and chilli lime on the second night (yes, we liked it so much we went back to get more) – among all the flavour, cheddar cheese was the strongest and my favourite was chilli lime.

It’s carrot cake time!

A disappointment!

After we bought the Tornado Potato, from afar we sniffed our way to a carrot cake stall. It smelled really good and the finished product looked tasty. We bought a packet and promptly started on it once we reached our hotel room. The taste was an absolute disappointment – it was bland and no flavour. Sad.

Dim sum!

On our second day, the hot weather was getting to us, and we actually skipped lunch. However we decided to buy some light snacks before dinner. Along Jonker Street, we found this streetside stall selling dim sum. There were a few giant steamers – we picked and chose some (they charged by the number of pieces you took). We (once again) brought them back to the hotel – these dim sum fared much better than the previous night’s carrot cake – don’t expect to find any shrimps inside but they were definitely generous with the (mystery) meat.

Though Jonker Street is a touristy attraction, it is still worth to walk along, soak in the atmosphere and squeeze with the crowd, and be amazed by the array of sight, sound and smell.

oink’s guide to … Melaka! Nancy’s Kitchen

For our first night in Melaka, we had dinner at Nancy’s Kitchen which was 5 minutes walk from our hotel. This Peranakan restaurant is also favoured by many Singaporeans.

Kueh Pie Tee

Nom Nom

As we entered the restaurant, I noticed there was a cart outside and a woman was making Kueh Pie Tee. And I want some. Kueh Pie Tee is a traditional Peranakan dish where they will fill thin and crispy tart shell with cooked turnip, prawns, garlic and so on. Nancy’s version was slightly sweet and mildly spicy (chilli was added on top), and the shell was crisp, not soggy.

Prawn Omelette

(Very Pedas) Four Angled Beans

We ordered a couple of dishes to share. Amy was craving for egg and we got her the prawn omelette which was alright, nothing extraordinary. Lynda saw the restaurant had four-angled beans – they were very pedas – they were so spicy that it numbed my tongue. The four-angled beans itself were pretty tasty – crunchy and not overcooked. But the chilli (or belacan) was just way too hot for me to handle.

Ayam Buak Keluak

It would be wrong to go to a Peranakan restaurant and not order Ayam Buak Keluak. Buak Keluak is a black nut where hours are used to prepare it – the nut needed to be soaked, cleaned, cracked open, grinded into a paste and stuffed back into the shell. Once the nuts were stuffed, they were put in a pot with either chicken (ayam) or pork (babi) and cook for hours. The result is a dark and rich stew. The one we had at Nancy was alright – the Buak Keluak was not as fragrant as it can be. And the chicken was a bit dry.

Vintage Baby

Itek Tim

My favourite dish of the night was the Itek Tim which is salted mustard vegetable with duck soup. The soup was flavourful and delicious. I think they put in a bit of wine which doubled the flavour and making it the ultimate comfort food.

There were several Peranakan restaurants along Jonker Street. But among all, I think Nancy’s Kitchen was one of the more decent ones, plus they have air conditioning which we heart.

Nancy’s Kitchen
7 Jalan Hang Lekir, Off Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, 75200 Meleka
Closed on Tue

oink’s guide to … Melaka! Limau Limau Café

The weather in Melaka was pretty brutal. It has got so bad that we needed to make another stop for drinks. Tucked away in one of the alleys connecting to Jonker Street, Limau Limau (translation: Lime Lime) Café was a treasure not to be missed.

Limau Limau Cafe

Our drinks

Initially we were hanging around downstairs and we asked the owner if we could go upstairs. She said yes.  The space upstairs was airy and spacious. The cafe’s decor was eclectic – the furniture was mixed and matched. The waiter took our orders and all of us got some sorts of iced blended drinks – mango, lychee and watermelon.

The drinks were sweet and refreshing. It would be great if the place was air-conditioned, and we would hang out there all day!

Limau Limau Café
No.49, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia

oink’s guide to … Melaka! Jonker 88

After our lunch at Hoe Kee, we walked along the famous Jonker Walk. And one place Lynda wanted to go was Jonker 88. Touted as a museum cafe, Jonker 88 sells all sorts of local cuisine – you can get laksa, rojak, and on the day we were there, we wanted cendols.

Jonker 88

Unattended balinglong

Cendol is essentially a sweet coconut shaved ice dessert popular around South East Asia countries. It consists of coconut milk, shaved ice, worm-like looking jelly (which is made of rice flour and green food colouring (derived from pandan leaf)) and palm sugar (gula melaka).

What we ordered

Hello Mr. Mao

Jonker 88 was not exactly a museum – it did display a lot of Peranakan antiques but I won’t go far saying they were a museum. Its more like “I found this and that, and I shall put it here”. Still dining at Jonker 88 was pretty cool. We managed to find a seat at the airy courtyard with Mr. Mao staring at us while we eat.

Baba Cendol

Baba Ice Kacang

Lynda and Amy went ahead and got themselves the BabaCendol. Since I am not a fan of gula melaka, I ordered the Baba Ice Kacang (shaved iced with syrup and red beans). I had a taste of the BabaCendol – I don’t like it. The gula melaka was strange and actually was tart. As for my Iced Kacang, it was ordinary, something that I could get in Singapore too.

These I want to bring home

Jonker 88 is a place where you can sit, relax and stare at balinglong (if you are a fan of vintage loots) – for the desserts, don’t bother.

Jonker 88
88, Jalan Hang Jebat,75200 Melaka, Malaysia

oink’s guide to … Melaka! Hoe Kee chicken rice balls

For my birthday, my friend Lynda suggested a trip to Melaka for good food and balinglong (read: vintage loots) shopping. We recruited our Malaysian friend, Amy for the trip too!

Our ultra violet bus

After an intensive research, I realised there is not a lot of bus companies that go to Melaka. In the end, I settled for Luxury Tours and Travel. They have an early bus to Melaka (8am) and one of the drop off points was very near the hotel (Courtyard @ Heeren) that we have booked.

I was very impressed with the bus. Initially I thought it will be a dingy single deck bus. It was a double deck bus with our personal entertainment system (with multiple channels). The seats looked new and were pretty clean. All these made the four hour road trip more bearable.

Door to our room

Once arrived at Melaka, Lynda and I managed to find our hotel quite easily. Located near Jonker Street, Courtyard @ Heeren was near all the places we wanted to go. We love this shop house styled hotel. I have booked all of us a deluxe family room which turned out to be much smaller than expected. Still there was enough space for us to roll, and breakfast was included in our package.

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Balls

All of us (Amy was the first to arrive) took a quick shower and rolled out for a quick bite. The first place we went was Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Balls – a must have when one is in Melaka. There were quite a lot of places that offered chicken rice balls. I chose Hoe Kee as it’s located in a shop house and they have Assam Fish Head.

Love shop house

Amy and Lynda!

The wait staff who took our order was fast and furious, and rambling in Cantonese. It was a good thing we have Amy, who speaks fluent Cantonese. In the end, we ordered chicken for three, chicken rice balls, normal chicken rice and Assam Fish Head.

The feast

Chicken (with livers at the side)

The chicken was tender and savoury. Chicken livers were also served to us – only Lynda ate them (Amy and I don’t really eat innards). The chicken rice balls were a bit of a disappointment – they were small (but cute), not as fragrant and slightly tough (which could be due to the pressing of the rice together). The chicken rice was just as normal as the chicken rice balls.

Chicken Rice Balls

Assam Fish Head

For the Assam Fish Head, it was sourish and delish, and very appetising. The only thing I would change is I wished this dish was warmer. When it was served to us, it was lukewarm.

Perhaps this whole chicken rice balls were a gimmick, it sure was a successful one. Once we were done with lunch, we saw people queuing up for it. And the queue was even longer over the weekend. So to complete your Melaka experience, go and get some chicken rice balls!

Luxury Tours and Travel
44/45/46 100 Orchard Road, #02-46 Concorde Hotel & Shopping Mall
(You can book your tickets online and pick them up on the day you are leaving)

Courtyard @ Heeren
91 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia

Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Balls (near Jonker Street)
4, 6, 8 Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200, Melaka, Malaysia

Thank you Schmap!

A couple of years back (2008 to be exact), Schmap Melbourne approached me and wanted to feature one of the pictures I took in Melbourne for their website. I agreed and they have credited the picture to my name.

Laurent Patisserie, Melbourne

Just a couple of days ago, I received an email from them, informing me that they have made an update to their website and they will continue to use my picture. I was very touched by this small gesture. They don’t have to let me know about the changes, and yet after so many years, they bothered to drop me a note.

The photograph that I took is not exactly a well-composed shot but it’s always nice that people acknowledge it (rather than stealing photographs and mislead others that they took it). So thank you Schmap for being so awesome!

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