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The last time I went diving was October 2013 in Maldives, a full 2.5 years passed since I breathed underwater, until last week, when we revisited Tenggol Island. The very island I got my diving certificate more than ten years ago, and also the island I dived the most. How time flies.

Tenggol Coral Beach Resort
Tenggol Coral Beach Resort

The east coast highway is now completed, heading to Dungun took us only 4 hours (excluding the detour to Bentong for breakfast), we left KL at 6 in the morning and got there in time for the 11 am boat transfer to the island. It was also an easier drive than previously when you had to navigate through the old coastal road that can sometimes be congested with big & slow lorries.

As a consequence then, the island is now being visited more than ever, and perhaps lost a bit of its mystic of almost being a deserted island that we used to love.

KY, Haze, Rich, San San at Pulau Tenggol
KY, Haze, Rich, San San at Pulau Tenggol

Anyway, we paid about RM 1.5k each for a twin sharing room with all meals included, boat transfer from Dungun, and 7 boat dives. Slightly more expensive than earlier deals, but it was fair considering the upgrades of the facilities & meals. Will get to that later.

Anyway, I want to document my dive log here as per my usual practice.

Day 1
Dive 1
Site: Coral Garden
20/5/16 3:18 pm, 55 mins, 21.7 meter, 30 Celsius, 124 bar of air
Bumphead, 2 types of nudi, black shrimp on cushion starfish, coral fish

Dive 2
Site: Tanjung Gemuk, evening dive
20/5/16 5:58 pm, 57 mins, 19.4 meter, 31 Celsius, 117 bar of air
Nemo, huge morel eel, trumpet fish, rock hopper wrasse, huge nudi, lovely coral garden
Fish eagle with fish or sea snake captured. Nice slow drifting current

Day 2
Dive 1 – Tokong Laut
21/5/16 9:27 am, 48 mins, 26.6 meter, 29 Celsius, 118 bar of air
Lots of boulders, some swim through which is always one of my favorites.

Dive 2 – Tokong Timur
21/5/16 11:43 am, 60 mins, 20.8 meter, 29 Celsius, 134 bar of air
The other group saw whale shark at other dive site. We didn’t but was a reasonably nice dive too. Warm water of 29-30c too. Rainbow runner, school of fish.

Dive 3 – Turtle Point
21/5/16 3:38 pm, 61 mins, 16.3 meter, 31 Celsius, 113 bar of air
Trying to hunt for whale shark, didn’t find any
Lots of goby with shrimp pairing. Some pvc artificial habitat for the fishes.
Always love the black damsel among corals.

Day 3
Dive 1 – Thai Wreck
22/5/16 9:18 am, 49 mins, 30.2 meter, 28 Celsius, 130 bar of air
Lovely atmospheric dive, took a few pics around the wreck. Deepest dive so far.
Again plenty of goby with shrimp at Sandy bottom.

Dive 2 – Amazing Grace
22/5/16 11:37 am, 61 mins, 18.6 meter, 30 Celsius, 120 bar of air
Last dive of the trip. Also one of the loveliest.
Saw 2 turtles, maybe could have been the same one. Trigger fish. Also saw 3 blue spotted rays.
Big giant garupa. Played with Nemo, catch and release style. Saw jewel garupa too.

Thai Wreck, one of my favorite dives
Thai Wreck, one of my favorite dives

A thing to note for myself is that I have to start checking my equipment at least a couple weeks prior to the trip. I only did so a night prior to this trip and discovered 2 optical cables & my macro lens were missing. The lens lent to a friend but the cables .. well, I may need new cables.

Additionally, we discovered that Haze’s dive computer ran out of battery, with mine being quite low in power as well. We also should have tested the BCD in the swimming pool, cos that would have avoided me discovering that a plastic part had failed right before I was about to go into water for my first dive.

Lessons learned.

food at the resort in Tenggol has since tremendous improvement
food at the resort in Tenggol has since tremendous improvement

One of the best things that happened to having more visitors to Tenggol, at least at Tenggol Coral Beach resort that we went, is that now they serve proper food!

In previous years, you basically “eat to dive” and there were very little enjoyment to be had from those barely edible meals. Now they actually offer fairly decent buffet spread that wouldn’t be out of place in a 2-star hotel in the city.

there was even steamboat dinner on our last night
there was even steamboat dinner on our last night

In fact, on the last night they even prepared steamboat dinner with a hot pot on every table, complete with names of the group all assigned properly.

There’s also now a mini market of sort that you can purchase additional drinks (aka alcohol, soda etc) or snacks to be charged to the room. All in all it is now a much hospitable set up than before, and with 24 hour stable electricity supply & hot water as well. We were pleasantly surprised by this.

our dive guide - Jess
our dive guide – Jess

I have a feeling I would see Tenggol again in future trips, the diving was pretty decent, getting there is now easier than ever, makes for a perfect long weekend getaway.

 

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If you type Omakase in google, this is what you get:

o·ma·ka·se
ˌōməˈkäsā,ōˈmäkəsā/
noun
  1. (in a Japanese restaurant) a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef.

So then, SOU Omakase is exactly what the name of the restaurant suggests – a Japanese outfit at Mid Valley Gardens that prides itself on their Omakase menu.

sou omakase mid valley gardens
sou omakase mid valley gardens

Lunch starts at RM 98++ per person, and dinner comes with a choice of 4 different course –

  • SOU dinner course – RM 220
    • starter, chawanmushi, Japanese garnish food, sashimi, grilled dish, mouth wash, main course, rice course with miso soup, dessert with Japanese tea
  • Special dinner course – RM 320
    • starter, special fresh oyster, Japanese garnish food, special sashimi, grilled dish, mouth wash, main course, rice course with miso soup, dessert with Japanese tea
  • Special abalone course – RM 370
    • starter, Japanese soup, Japanese garnish food, special sashimi moriawase, special grilled abalone, mouth wash, main course, sushi 3 kinds with miso soup, home made dessert with Japanese tea
  • Tasting menu – RM 450
    • degustation menu offered by chef FUKUCHI, 10 courses.

foie gras salad
foie gras salad

For the purpose of our review, we went for the tasting menu.

But first, if you’re heading to SOU Omakase, do note that it is located near the entrance of the Gardens Hotel, accessible via the Mall but through a tricky back door, with the restaurant facing Bangsar area of the building. It is much easier if you choose to valet park at the Gardens.

I won’t with fancy Japanese lingo for these dishes, since I assume many of you are like me who are heaps better in your command of English language than Japanese, we’ll stick with simple descriptions.

The dinner started with a beautiful dish of foie gras salad, a small chunk of perfectly seared goose liver with some greens and caviar. The ingredients itself speaks business.

 Netherlands oyster with homemade tabasco
 Netherlands oyster with homemade tabasco

Second course was Netherlands oyster with homemade tabasco, one of the best ways to get more zinc to your system. I do like the taste of their homemade tabasco sauce, slightly milder yet more complex in texture.

Snow crab with Spanish mackerel and Japanese winter melon soup
snow crab with Spanish mackerel and Japanese winter melon soup

Then there’s snow crab with Spanish mackerel in Japanese winter melon soup, our first warm dish of the night. The dish reminds me of some high end Chinese soup dishes, but one with unmistakenly Japanese ingredients. Warm and comforting.

mini sushi with chopped tuna belly and sea urchin
mini sushi with chopped tuna belly and sea urchin

Then it was a mini sushi to get our palette going for more raw seafood. Chopped tuna belly with sea urchin, two of the more premium sushi ingredients that packs a punch in savory index, perfectly balanced with freshly grated wasabi, a few slices of seaweed, and expertly prepared sushi rice.

butter fish with eel in yam paste
butter fish with eel in yam paste

Butter fish with eel in yam paste was next. This is a dish that I think some may have trouble getting used to the texture, it was soft and slightly slimy in texture from the eel and yam, but does provide an interesting experience especially when feeling it in the mouth.

We then had an aperitif, simple yuzu with soda to get our taste buds afresh for the next course – sashimi.

Sashimi part 1, served with wasabi moose and hand grated wasabi - octopus, yellow tail, mackerel
Sashimi part 1, served with shoyu moose and hand grated wasabi
– octopus, yellow tail, mackerel

This was undoubtedly the highlight of the omakase course to me. The sashimi came in two parts, and served with shoyu moose (soya sauce in moose form) and freshly grated wasabi.

Part one was octopus, yellowtail, and mackerel. Merely saying they are “fresh” would be doing these dishes a disservice. The sashimi were paired with different combination of seaweed to compliment its natural tastes, and those shoyu moose provides an interesting, if not very convenient way of handling the amount of soya sauce you want in the sashimi. A new experience to me.

Sashimi part 2 - the fat stuff, Otoro and salmon belly
Sashimi part 2 – the fat stuff, Otoro and salmon belly

Part 2 of the sashi were the fatter stuff – otoro (tuna belly), and salmon belly. Both premium cuts were beautifully presented, and tastes even better than they look. The otoro with its special condiment was especially delicious, I can definitely do this again, and again, and again.

cod with miso stew
cod with miso stew

Then it was time for a table top hot pot experience that came in the form of cod with miso stew. Cod never disappoints, and with high quality miso, certainly makes for a bullet proof dish. I can have this with a bowl of rice and call it a meal and be perfectly content.

beef, braised tuna collar, or lamb as choices of main
beef, braised tuna collar, or lamb as choices of main

Main course came in the form of either braised tuna collar, sliced wagyu beef, or lamb cutlets. Each were pretty rich in taste but not entirely too different from each other in terms of theme. The braised tuna collar was a first for me, and turned out to be probably too heavy to be part of a ten course meal. I was stuffed by the end of this, in a good way.

Inaniwa udon and salmon sushi
Inaniwa udon and salmon sushi

Penultimate dishes were a simple salmon sushi, and inaniwa udon. I had thought I’d never finish the udon due to how stuffed I was, but somehow there were no trace of udon left a few minutes later. When the food is good, you tend to negotiate extra space in the stomach somehow.

jelly, mochi, and coffee ice cream
jelly, mochi, and coffee ice cream

Dessert came in the form of jelly, mochi, and coffee ice cream. They were beautifully presented, and while did not disappoint, I did not think that they stand out among the other dishes in the course. It was an adequate ending to the 10 course menu, an certainly an omakase experience that is worthy of the restaurant’s name.

Horng, Yuki, & Haze at SOU Omakase
Horng, Yuki, & Haze at SOU Omakase

I’m really intrigued to try their lunch menu and see how they stack up to the likes of TEN & Oribe at similar price point.

Address:
SOU Omakase
Lot G247, Ground Floor
The Gardens, Mid Valley City
Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.118658, 101.675286
Tel03-2202 1133
Hours11:30 am – 3 pm, 6 pm – 10 pm

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After 2.5 years of not breathing underwater, and over a decade since I first got my license at Tenggol island, this is the 4th time back to one of my favorite islands.

image

Tenggol here we come! Can’t wait.

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In my previous-previous job many years ago, I used to travel quite a bit to Ho Chi Minh City for work, and aside from the hospitality of the people there, the one thing I always looked forward to was some good old fashion Vietnamese street food.

Their dishes take advantage of ingredients not entirely unlike Chinese or Thai cuisine, but with the result that is completely different. Unlike Thai or Malay food which often rely on chili, Vietnamese creations often feature plenty of fresh vegetable, and instead of soya sauce in Chinese food, fish sauce seems to be their go-to choice as seasoning.

Quan An Viet, near Klang Parade
Quan An Viet, near Klang Parade

While Vietnamese food has some presence here in Malaysia, they are mostly chain restaurants offering pho, a few rice dishes, and nothing else, so imagine the surprise when we saw this little kopitiam manned with Vietnamese with thick accents offering proper Vietnamese street food right at Klang.

In fact, the little area between Klang Parade and Taman Eng Ann seems to have a small Vietnamese community living around the area, complete with shops carrying Vietnamese groceries.

bún bò, bún riêu, gỏi xoài
bún bò, bún riêu, gỏi xoài

Quan An Viet offers some 20 different simple dishes, from beef noodle to duck noodle, spring roles to rice dishes, and they’re all priced at less than RM 10.

We first had the bun bo, or rice vermicelli and beef, a dish that’s similar to pho but with slightly different soup base and vegetable reflecting it’s origin in Hue instead of Saigon. It was pretty delicious, though I’d love to see tripes, brisket, or tendon in it instead of just beef slices.

Bun rieu is something new to me, a sort of tomato broth with crab/shrimp paste filled with pork leg, coagulated blood, and vermicelli noodle. Quite an interesting taste but it is something that takes a bit of getting used to.

Goi xoai is their version of green mango salad with some sort of rice sheets. To be honest I didn’t like it, the Thai version is still much superior. Perhaps those in Vietnam is better executed than here.

bánh mì, cơm sườn
bánh mì, cơm sườn

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese term for bread, a dish that is introduced by French during its colonial period. While the filling tastes pretty good, the quality of bread here isn’t really up to par.

The other dish I tried was the Vietnamese Broken Rice with Grilled Pork Chop, and sadly it was kinda disappointing. The pork chop was too dry and generally lack any umph.

KY & Haze at one of our favorite Vietnamese kopitiam
KY & Haze at one of our favorite Vietnamese kopitiam

I would say the spring roles & noodle dishes here are definitely up to par, and for the price you pay, this place definitely offer great value for money. Will definitely head back again for other dishes.

map to Quan An Viet restaurant, Klang

Address:
Quan An Viet (Restoran Kui Rong)
Jalan Pekan Baru 35
Kawasan 17, 41150 Klang, Selangor
GPS: 3.064075, 101.455354

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Bak Kut Teh at Klang is not merely a popular dish, it is pretty much a way of life. There are hundreds of bak kut teh sellers in the municipal, each offering their unique interpretation of the Malaysian-invented dish, and best of all, with varying operating hours so you can actually have a good bowl of bak kut teh goodness anytime around the clock.

yeap, bak kut teh from 5pm to 5am
yeap, bak kut teh from 5pm to 5am

After picking up my sister my sister from the airport late at night over CNY holidays, it was just natural that we cross an item off her “back to home” bucket list – good old fashion Klang BKT.

For that, we went to Kedai Kopi Taman Eng Ann for some porky goodness. While the shop offers breakfast and other dishes in the morning/afternoon session, BKT reign supreme from 5 pm to 5 am daily.

glorious clay pot style bak kut teh at Taman Eng Ann
glorious clay pot style bak kut teh at Taman Eng Ann

The bak kut teh here comes in a clay pot, and in addition to your choice of pork (kah wan, big bone, small bone, 3-layer belly, ribs, etc), there’s also a few leafs of vegetable, tofu pok, and some mushroom.

The pork lives up to the reputation of Klang bkt – soft, tender, and flavorful. The soup is quite strong on herbal taste as well, and they’re not stingy with refills, which is nice.

However, there are no deep fried shallots here, tho generous amount of chopped garlic and chili padi accompany the clay pot dish, which is fine by me.

nothing beats having good old fashion BKT with family
nothing beats having good old fashion BKT with family

Surprisingly, the yu tiao (yau char kuai) here is crunchy and quite delicious, a departure from the usual soggy business of other places.

Prices here is fair and on par with other BKT sellers in the area, I think I prefer this over Kin Kong (which is somehow more “famous”) located a stone’s throw away and operate at similar hours.

map to taman eng ann bak kut teh

Address:
Kedai Kopi Taman Eng Ann
Kalan Kasawari 5,
Taman Eng Ann, Klang, Selangor
GPS: 3.056416, 101.460329
Hours: 5 pm to 5 am daily