Sunday, March 22, 2009

Restaurant with no Menu

I just came back from another food adventure in this wonderful city called KL. I have been wanting to eat crabs since last month but we've been to lazy to go back to Restoran King Crab in Kelana Jaya. Who would have thought that I didn't need to go far. I just had to walk about 5minutes from my new place to a sidewalk resto called Restoran Hokkaido (we serve no pork)--ganyan talaga ang name niya sa sign board.

The foodtrippers (a.k.a. Jay, Stanley and Me) decided to have dinner out after Stanley's short visit. We walked down Jalan Lumut and stepped into the world of Hokkaido. Nope, there's nothing Japanese about their menu. In fact they don't have any menu at all.The auntie pointed us towards the cieling where they have a rough listing of the kinds of food (not the cooking style) they serve. After about 2 minutes of feeling lost, we decided to trust the suggestions of the auntie and ordered steamed fish sechzuan style (whatever that is) and their version of the chili crab (i was asking for the singapore style one but she said theirs is the specialty of the house).

And boy was Auntie right.. The fish was fresh and just had the right amount of spicyness in it- just enough to give it that extra kick. It was steamed with a combination of oyster sauce and several herbs and spices. It resembled the thai version of the steamed fish with a twist. Then of course the crabs. It was a slightly different variation of the belacan crabs (with dried chili). But boy was it good! yum yum! I was telling the guys that I didnt use to like eating crabs because I didn't like the mess of taking off the shell. But tonight, I had no qualms whatsoever (to think may sugat pa ako sa kamay so I had to be extra careful). I was the last person standing (a.k.a taga ubos ng tira) and was dubbed as "takaw" by Jay. hehe.. My diet was totally ruined (what diet?!) but Im telling you it was so worth it. The fish, the crab and the beer was worth gaining a few pounds for.

The best part was when I got the bill. I was expecting it to be quite expensive (we were in the city after all). I was surprised because it was really cheap for a seafood resto in KL. They even gave us a fruit platter for free to wash down all the "umay" of the crabs and fish.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Penang Food Trip

I travel the world in search of great food. Last weekend in Penang was no exception. The trip was originally envisioned to be a food road trip. Maybe rent a car in KL and drive around to those far flung restaurants and eat something new. After a bit of thinking, we decided to go to Penang instead and join the weekenders of Nokia who were going there for their team outing. We took the 12mn bus from Puduraya and after nearly freezing for 4.5 hours, we finally made it to the the island of Penang.

Our first food stop was the mamak stall in Batu Ferringhi. Nothing was open yet so it was the only choice. I had breakfast of Roti Bakar with Planta Kaya and 2 soft boiled eggs (did i mention that this is an artery clogging cholesterol laden food trip?) plus teh tarik. Went around the city a bit afterwards to practice driving (see my other blog) and found ourselves in front of the Le Maison de Blue (a.k.a the blue house) which we failed to visit the last time Jay and I were in Penang. Finally I saw the infamous unesco world heritage site.

The second food stop was the Long Beach hawker stalls for dinner. We had grilled stingray, char siew pork, oyster cakes, beer and for take away- char siew pao. Glutonny. haha. We brought a bottle of Bacardi Rhum with us so we all got drunk in the hotel while pigging out on satay and siopao. The rhum tasted like cough syrup but what the heck..

Day 2 marked more food trips and road trips. I was slowly getting the hang out of driving on the wrong side of the road. I finally understood the concept of the roundabout. We left the hotel early to have brunch at Lorong Selamat in that famous Char Kuey Teow stall. Unfortunately we were too early so we let our stomachs guide us to the nearby Dimsum Food Restaurant (yep! that's the name). At first we thought it was a wedding. Dimsum pala. Ordered hakaw (genetically modified ata sa laki), siomai, siopao and several other varieties of dimsum. The waitress offered us "ride pork rips" (fried pork ribs) which Angeli thought to be "rice pork." It was really good.

An hour later we were feeling the MSG and was getting sleepy.So we headed towards Bukit Bendera for some site seeing. Unfortunately the funicular was fully booked till 330pm and it was only 1pm. The rain started to pour so we took shelter at the nearby stall and had ABC (the malaysian halo halo). I nearly had to make a side trip to the ER (naka plot ang hospital sa GPS ni gidiyap) as the ABC had pineapples (i am allergic) buti na lang I saw it before eating so I traded orders with jay. After spending some time in Kek Lok Si temple, we headed back to the hotel to rest.

For dinner we searched for pork. Lechong Kawali to be exact. We stopped at three food stalls (two along tanjung bungah) and 1 in Gurney drive. Lahat bigo. We braved the saturday night traffic in Gurney drive to find the elusive roasted pork. There was a restaurant that looked interesting and popular but their "serve no pork" sign drove us away (Pork nga ang hanap namin eh!) Finally we decided to just eat the the Song River food stall in Gurney driver where we settled for pork ribs (minus the buto), bakuteh, fried rice, char kuey teow, crab spring rolls, and some weird squid dish (settling talaga ang tawag eh no?). To appease our disappointment over not finding pork, we bought some grilled chicken wings for our pulutan.

The nokia girls joined us after dinner for a night of drinking (ayoko na iuwi yung bote ng bacardi) inside our hotel apartment. Everyone was tired but still game to just relax and chill.

On our last morning in Penang we decided to return to Lorong Selamat and eat at that char kuey teow stall. This time hindi na kami papayag na umalis ng bigo. After finding parking, we went to the stall (it was open!) only to be told that there was a 45 minute wait for the infamous noodles. What?!!! 45 minutes?!!! That was the only thing we understood from our interpreter. But since we really wanted to eat at this stall, we said yes. Jay decided to order some oyster cake from the nearby shop to kill time. 20++ or so minutes later our orders finally arrived. The verdict? IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT. Can't say anything else. The oyster cake was also delicious by the way.

After a brief stopover at Starbucks to cool down and use the toilet, the travelling trio headed back to the bus station to go home. Another food adventure finished.

Next destination please.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

I hold a Malaysian drivers' license but I have never driven in Malaysia. Two reasons-- one I dont have a car and two-- they drive on the other side of the road here. I just applied for my license just in case one day I would need it but I never really had an idea when that one day would be.

That "one day" became a reality last weekend.

An impromptu gimik to Penang last Friday gave me a chance to test my driving powers in Malaysia. Jay, Angeli and I decided to rent a car in Penang instead of taking the taxi (which was very expensive) around town. Found a car through right before we left KL and viola, we had a car. We met the owners in the bus station and they introduced us to my first car in Malaysia-- a proton viva. After photocopying my passport and license the owners dropped us off at Tanjung Bungah and wished us godspeed.

So picture this- It wasn't only that it was a right hand drive vehicle, it was also 6:30in the morning(still dark in Malaysia standard), the roads were winding (tunay at wagas na zigzag ito), and I had no idea how to get to our destination (Sri Sayang Hotel in Batu Ferringhi). The owner just told me to go straight and I wont miss it (Okay.. sana nga). Talk about baptism of fire right? Jay reluctantly transferred to the front passenger seat to be my navigator slash driving tutor slash taga asar and off we went to find the hotel. And did I mention it was a manual transmission? hahaha.

Slowly I acquainted myself with the car. Figured out how to shift gears and look at the mirrors. It was hard at first as I was so used to shifting with my right hand and now I have to do it with my left. Several times, I found myself operating the windshield wiper instead of the turning signals(Oops! Patawa talaga!). Every second I was telling myself that I cannot and will not fail this task. Talk about raising one's self efficacy to the max (ay nerd).

20 or so minutes later, we found Sri Sayang Hotel (note mali ang direction ni car owner). Whew! made it. The room wasn't available yet so we ended up eating at the nearby mamak stall instead.

We had the car for three days and by the end of day 3 I mastered going up and down Batu Ferringhi's zig zag roads. That road became my EDSA. Everytime we'd get lost, I'll just find my way there. Buti na lang may GPS ang phones namin ni Jay so we were not totally blind. Yung nga lang minsan maling direction ang binibigay ni mapking. hahaha.

I survived my first attempt at driving without any major hitches. I realized shifting with my left hand wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. It was in fact a truly exciting experience. My only waterloo was the roundabout (nakakalito naman kasi yung exiting system niya) and the parallel parking. I didn't even dare attempt parallel parking in Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill) for fear of sideswiping the cars parked around me. My one and only attempt was at the bus station which nearly gave my navigator a heart attack (sabi ko nga di talaga ako marunong eh).

So now I am a true blue driver in Malaysia. I am still carl-ess but at least now I know I can drive here. Finally nasulit ang misadventures sa JPJ office last year.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

When In Bangkok...(2.21-2.24.09)

I went to Bangkok last year for my birthday so this time around I wanted to re-experience the land of Tom Yum differently. Whereas last year's priority was Shopping and Eating, this year there was no shopping whatsoever in the picture. When we booked that flight ages ago, we agreed that this time around Bangkok was for taking photos.

We took the earliest flight and arrived at Bangkok at about 8am Bangkok time. Too early. We found our way to the hotel and checked in. Rested a bit and went on to find lunch. First task? EAT. haha. We gravitated towards something familiar-- Sizzlers, a steakhouse we discovered in Hatyai back in 2007. What can I say? Beer and steaks for lunch is simply H-E-A-V-E-N-L-Y. After satisfying our craving for western food, it was now time to check out the mall-- Centralworld (actually CR ng mall! haha). Sabi ko nga no shopping this time around so we just enjoyed the aircon and walked around. A couple of hours later we found ourselves in the famous Chatuchak market. So many people! Bought a couple of souvenirs (sige na nga a little shopping lang) and searched the market high and low for a roasted pork stall we chanced about earlier. All for the love of pork! haha. Although tired and feeling sticky, we met up with Jay's old thai officemate for an early dinner at the Thong lo district. If I thought lunch was heavenly, Dinner was Heavenlier! (is there such a word?!). More beers and pork later, we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and went out after with Pom and Manu.

In Bangkok I finally got to experience what clubbing was all about. We drank at the Indy Trees Bar first before heading to Route 66 for some authentic clubbing. Talk about enjoying life. By 3:00am we were all half drunk (may mas lasing sa kin though) and ready to hit the sack. Hey dude! What's up?! ang linya ng mga kasama ko. hahaha.. Yan pala ang epekto ng 1.5 bottles in JW.

The next day (day 2), we woke up with a hangover. I literally had to move our temple tour to a different time as waking up early was not exactly our cup of tea. By the time we left the hotel it was past 10am. Now it was time for some serious Bangkok photography.

Now that I have my own nice camera, I can experience bangkok from a photographer's perspective. Our tour took us to the Wat Pho temple and the Marble temple. Both temples were amazing. Although it was packed with tourists, it was still a good experience for the would be photographer like me. 4 hours later, armed with our roasted pork bbq (WE LOVE PORK), we decided to take an extra long siesta and order room service. No more energy left.

More food welcomed us that night with a lovely dinner/reunion with old friends at the Waterside Resort Restaurant. It was a good 30 minutes drive out of Bangkok to this beautiful resto on top of a lake (man made?). Our thai hosts took care of the ordering and I basically just ate whatever was served in front of me. My favorite was the fish tom yum that was totally delectable.

On Day 3, we took photographs of the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It was a day long affair as the Grand Palace was huge. I nearly fainted of heatstroke because of the heat. But sabi nga nila, walang init, walang araw, ulan or lindol ang pipigil sa tin from taking pictures! The place was enormous but beautiful. I loved the weapons display the most. May sekyu din na nagfeefeeling napahiya tuloy ("outside!") After losing all the weight we gained to the heat, we headed for our last dinner in the city with Pom and Intira. More tom yum (fish head tom yum) and seafoods. What makes this country amazing is that every meal is a discovery. For this side street resto (which we nicknamed Benmore for the signage), the crispy pork intestines in garlic was to die for! Sa sobrang sarap, we ordered take out!.

After 4 days, it was time to get back to reality. After checking out, lugging my luggage up 2 flights of stairs in the BTS, and having lunch at mcdonalds (my tradition!), we killed time by watching Underworld 3. Soonafter it was an amazing race to the airport. One thing that I won't miss in Bangkok is traffic. My! May mas ma traffic ng lugar kesa sa pinas! Muntik kong sabunutan yung counter when he said the flight was closed! Duh! It was more than an hour before our flight. Yun pala he was looking at the wrong flight code. Our flight got moved a couple of weeks ago so we had a different flight code now.30 minutes later we were finally waiting for our flight's boarding call. whew! made it just in time. Adventure finally over..

Nope. 2 hours later we landed in KL only to get lost in the LCCT terminal. Our plane landed on the departure area and the lone steward pointed us towards the wrong terminal (departure! aba! aalis muli kami?). It was a long walk to the right hall and when finally we made it, the immigration people were shocked to see us. They asked us where we came from and we all had a laugh when we explained our misadventure in the terminal.

At 1030pm the adventure was finally over.It was back to reality. totoo na to.

So when in bangkok what do we do? EAT, take PICTURES, EAT, and take more Pictures!

Sige na nga shopping na din on the side.