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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Monthly Archives / April 2010

Mamak rojak (or pasembur in places like Penang) must be one of my favorite afternoon light meals. Sometimes I just wish that some of these stalls actually sell them at supper time too. The mixture of cucumber, turnip, potato, bean curd, prawn fritters, hard boiled egg, and cuttle fish in that sweet, nutty, and spicy sauce would make perfect supper!

This is of course, not to be confused with fruit rojak that is usually offered by Chinese hawkers.

mamak rojak, or pasembur
cuttle fish is my favorite ingredient in rojak

Here at Klang Valley, most mamak rojak stalls operate from a van and usually offers chendol as dessert/drink to go with the main. The more enterprising ones sometimes offer mee goreng, mee rojak, and maybe even mee rebus too.

Lucky for me, one of the better rojak stalls operates right opposite Taman Bahagia LRT station, within walking distance from where I stay. While some people insist that there are better rojak stalls, I happen to like this one quite a bit.

rojak opposite taman bahagia LRT

The queue isn’t usually very long, and their chendol actually sucked, but the rojak is quite awesome. The ingredients are fresh, and most importantly, they get the sauce right, with a hint of spiciness (you can of course, have it super spicy if you like) and sweetness in that thick, nutty flavored concoction.

A serving of rojak with hard boiled egg goes for RM 4.50, you save RM 0.50 if you choose to not have egg with it. They also serve a few other dishes that I’ve never tried, and don’t bother with their chendol.

map to rojak outside taman bahagia station

Ah, by the way, I would have taken a close up photo of the stall but the owner said he was worried about IRS people. hahaha

Address:
Opposite Taman Bahagia LRT
SS2, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS: 3.111591, 101.612602

Whenever I need to fill up my stomach quick and on the go, the default is always a Snickers bar. It is a habit that I have since college days.

sneakers bar
Snickers! 😀

Not only this condense pack of energy is really convenient, it also tastes awesome. Caramel and plenty of roasted peanut resting on a bed of soft nougat wrapped around with delicious milk chocolate. The distinct sweet and slightly salty flavor is the yums!

Snickers bars are also perfect for traveling, especially to somewhere remote. It’s always wise to keep a few bars in the luggage for the late night hunger attacks when you’re at somewhere without a convenient store or room service.

sneakers game prize

Anyway, Snickers is now having an online game called “Hungry for Football” at http://www.snickersgame.com. And as with any contests, lets start out by looking at the prizes:

  • 5 weekly winners – iPod touch
  • 3 grand prize winners – Sony PSP

Pretty good if you ask me! There’s no need to send in any receipts or use any codes found on Snickers packaging to enter, simply go to the website, register yourself, and start playing!

sneakers online game
the Snickers “Hungry for Football” online game

The game is actually pretty simple. First type the highlighted letter that spells out SNICKERS, and when the energy bar on the right hits maximum, press on space bar to score goal (avoid the goal keeper!). Go through 3 rounds and score them all as fast as you can to get the highest score. Rinse and repeat.

Good luck folks, now head to http://www.snickersgame.com and do it already. 😀

Time to continue my second Tenggol dive trip post.  I intend to use this blog as sort of a dive log so just in case I lose the precious book, at least the information would be here. What a concept, right?

In case you missed the first post, it is here – Tenggol Island dive trip – redux

With the help of my latest toy – the Bamboo touch & pen, I now present you my very first awesomesauce drawing of Pulau Tenggol dive map, something I shamelessly copied from Tenggol Island Beach Resort website.

To avoid exercising plagiarism to the fullest, I added a little smiling clown fish to the dive map for that extra cheerful factor. Sweet isn’t it?

diving at pulau tenggol, nudibranch, blue spotted stingray
Nembrotha kubaryana (nudibranch), blue spotted sting ray

  • dive #3 – Amazing Grace
  • date/time – 27/03/2010 4:59pm
  • depth – 18.5 meter
  • duration – 46 mins
  • visibility – 10-20 meters
  • temperature – 29c

After the relatively deep dive two, we took the boat to Amazing Grace for our final dive for the day, a dive site located near the southern end of the neighboring island closest to Tenggol.

lion fish, seaweed, giant green turtle
seaweeds and giant Sea Turtle

Like other sites at Tenggol, there were more nudibranchs to be found. I spotted this very colorful nembrotha kubaryana crawling up on a coral, while it resembles land slugs more than other nudi, you’ll be hard pressed to find something of this color above ground.

There’s a mild current at this location and we did a very relaxing drift dive, a perfect end to the day. Spotted a giant turtle that turns out to be the only one we saw in the entire trip.

party at Tenggol
KY, Rich, San San, Joe, Terence, Jonathan with ze Whisky

After dinner, the six of us spent quite a few hours talking quite a lot of crap with the aid of a bottle of whisky so thoughtfully brought to the island by Jonathan (Joe brought another bottle for the next night too).

With no TV, restaurant, or let a lone a pub, it is imperative to BYOB to this island.

Tokong Laut dive site, Pulau Tenggol
swimming under boulder at Tokong Laut, bat fish

  • dive #4 – Tokong Laut
  • date/time – 28/03/2010 9:31 am
  • depth – 34.2 meter
  • duration – 43 mins
  • visibility – 15-20 meters
  • temperature – 29c

Tokong Laut is one of the more challenging dive sites at Tenggol. With swift current at entrance, you have to descent pretty quickly to avoid getting swept away by the moving water.

It is also the very same dive site we had to abandon almost 6 years ago when Terence did exactly that, swept away by current.

soft coral, nudibranch
anemone, Pteraeolidia ianthina (purple nudi) chromodoris coi (white nudi)

We did concure Tokong Laut this time around, and boy it was some rewarding experience! There were plenty of big size bat fish all over, and we particularly enjoyed those “swim throughs”. When Charlie the dive lead talked about swim throughs on land, I thought it was about finning through uninteresting places, little did I know that we got to swim through openings beneath huge boulders. The experience was exhilarating, almost but not entirely unlike cave dives.

Of course, there were more nudis at this site too.

awesome lunch at Tenggol Beach Resort
exceedingly good lunch!

I must give two thumbs up for the food at Tenggol Beach Resort, all our meals were really good. The collage above was from one of our lunch/dinner session. WIth fish, prawns, chicken, and vegetable to go with rice, it was out of our expectations. My previous dive trips usually accompanied by lousy foods.

Lost World, Pulau Tenggol, giant sea fan
can you spot the tiny white shrimps on the top right pic?

  • dive #5 – Lost World
  • date/time – 28/03/10 12:03 pm
  • depth – 31.3 meter
  • duration – 45 mins
  • visibility – 15-20 meters
  • temperature – 29c

Lost World, Pulau Tenggol, giant sea fan
KY, Rich, and San San. Hypselodoris apolegma (purple nudi)

Dive #5 was another pretty deep dive at Lost World, which isn’t on the map above (can’t exactly remember where it is located). We spotted some tiny white shrimps, more nudi, as well as angel fish, among others. The feature of this site though, must be the sea fans. They were plenty of white sea fans making up the very beautiful seascape.

BBQ lunch on the beach
BBQ by PDRM Terengganu

After the 2nd dive, we were treated by the local PDRM who happened to be at Tenggol for an excellent BBQ lunch. The grilled cuttle fish with kunyit and BBQ ikan kembung were excellent! So were the curry and they even had rice too, it was amazing. Who said cops aren’t friendly?

There were 3 more dives at Tenggol that I shall post soon, and hopefully with some videos too.

One of the perks of running a food blog is having the opportunity to sample foods at restaurants that I typically wouldn’t walk in myself. This is due to the preconception that these restaurants must be really, really expensive, and there wouldn’t be anything I can afford to eat and then still feel it is okay to shit em out 12 hours later.

I know food would usually be of very good quality, but the prices are just not tallied with my income level just yet.

Mandarin Grill, at Mandarin Oriental KL
Mandarin Grill at Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur

Mandarin Grill is one such restaurants, so when I was contacted by the Nicole, the PR exec from Mandarin Oriental KL, it didn’t take me more than half a second to decide that this is one that I am going for sure. Since Sheryl and I both stayed in US and enjoyed good steak, I asked her to tag along with me to this review session.

Located at the space previously occupied by Pacifica at Mandarin Oriental, this restaurant is tastefully decorated. Gone are the funky colors and overly in-your-face deco at Pacifica, the ambiance at Mandarin Grill is a lot more relaxed with elegantly arranged pieces of furniture as well as artworks.

bread, scallop carpaccio, grilled sea bass
bread, scallop carpaccio, grilled sea bass

Like most fine dining restaurants, bread is served at the beginning. There were half a dozen interesting named breads on offer to go with their five spice and normal butter. They were good, but I only tried a bit to conserve stomach space.

Before even the appetizer is served, we were treated with a tidy plate of scallop carpaccio accompany with diced mango and a bit of “some other shellfish”. It was certainly fresh, and positively yummy.

The grilled sea bass was another one of those samplers in between appetizer and main course. The bread and these two samplers are both on the house, and depending the chef’s mood, you might get something completely different.

pumpkin and french onion soup at Mandarin Grill
pumpkin veloute and french onion soup

The ladies started off with soup. Sheryl had the pumpkin veloute (RM 32) that’s got this very interesting foam like texture that I’ve never tasted before. Nicole ordered the french onion soup (RM 32). To be honest, while the pumpkin veloute had a very interesting texture and tasted alright, I’m not sure if I liked it, a bit too strange for me.

Other soup on the menu were lobster bisque (RM 48) and tomato gazpacho (RM 32)

appetizer sampler
appetizer sampler – lobster, crab cake, smoked salmon loin

Instead of soup, I chose the Mandarin Grill appetizer sampler (RM 125), perfect choice for someone who can’t decide between the other choices on the menu. The smoked salmon loin was tender to the point that it is almost “tofu” like, crab cake was rich, but the slow cooked lobster tail was my favorite, very sweet and succulent.

The other two interesting looking appetizers on the menu were Angus steak tartar (RM 82) and foie gras au torchon (RM 82).

USDA tenderloin
USDA prime – 80% Angus, grain fed tenderloin

Then came the steak. Since I spent quite a lot of time in the States and sorely missed the steak there, I chose to go with the USDA prime – 80% Angus tenderloin 250g (RM 190).

The tenderloin looked like a big muffin. I sliced it with the super sharp steak knife and admired the color for a minute before sending the meat to my mouth. It was every bit as tasty as it looked, very succulent, with perfect texture and the taste of a good USDA prime that I missed so much. It was really, really good and definitely worth every sen of the RM 190 asking price.

To go with the steak, there are a wide selection of butter, vegetable, potatoes, and sauces. I picked giant asparagus and steamed broccoli.

1824 Australian grain fed steak
1824, Australia, grain fed 120 days, strip loin and ribeye

The girls had 1824 Australian grain fed strip loin 250g (RM 106) and ribeye 300g (RM 118). I had a bite of the strip loin and it too, was very good, but I still prefer my tenderloin though.

Other types of steak includes Master Kobe tenderloin and sirloin that goes for over RM 400 a piece, wagyu priced from RM 185 to RM 310, and even the jumbo 1kg T-bone at RM 320. They also offer lamb, veal, duck breast, and scallops.

CrÚme brûlée, Manjari Chocolate Ganache
Hazelnut CrÚme brûlée, Manjari Chocolate Ganache

I was already over full by the time I finished enjoying the excellent steak, but Nicole insisted that we must try their desserts.

With her recommendations we went for the hazelnut creme brulee and manjari chocolate ganache (all desserts priced at RM 32). It was seriously the best creme brulee I had, caramelized at the top layer and super flavorful underneath, with blueberry compote and yoghurt sorbet to go with it. Very rich and super delicious.

The manjari chocolate ganache is something a chocolate lover should not miss, I particularly like the chocolate sorbet.

Sheryl and KY at Mandarin Grill
Sheryl and KY at Mandarin Grill

To complete the dinner, I had a glass of red wine (they had a huge selection of wine). It was easily one of the best food review sessions I had, the ambiance, the food, and the company were all great.

I also learned that you don’t necessarily have to spend RM 300-500 per person to get a meal at these 5 star restaurants. If you keep it to the steak (which would feed me pretty good anyway) and perhaps share a starter or dessert, a meal for two could still be under RM 300-400.

I think I need to go there again.

map to Mandarin Oriental KL

map to Mandarin Oriental, KL

Address:
Mandarin Grill
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.155771, 101.711748
Tel: 03-2179 8960

Pulau Tenggol was where it all got started back in 2004, I got my PADI Open Water & Advance Open Water diving license together with Terence and Saint.

When my colleague Richard (he was at xmas eve party 2009) told me about this diving trip, the memory from 6 years back found it’s way from my secondary storage and told me I had to go back there, and Terence agreed too. This despite having just came back from Sipadan less than 2 months ago.

Dungun, on the way to Tenggol island
breakfast at some Malay restaurant at Dungun

Together with Richard, San San, Jonathan, Joe, and Terence, we packed our gears and drove up to Dungun last Friday. Spent a night at some cheap hotel, and headed to the Jetty after the excellent breakfast with nasi minyak, roti canai, and nasi lemak at some Malay restaurant by a junction (there aren’t many junctions at Dungun).


Tenggol Island Resort, precisely where we were back in 2004!

Some 45 minutes on pretty choppy water later, we arrived at Tenggol island, and as fate had it, we checked into precisely where we did some 6 years back.

The island still looked exactly like it did when we first got here. It was still relatively untouched, with virgin jungle embracing the sandy bay that has 4 very small resorts housing not more than a few dozen divers at any one time. It is nice to see that the place doesn’t turn to another over commercialized island.

Charlie Lee, the dive master/instructor
this is Charlie, our resort operator & dive leader

We got our room keys, unpacked, and immediately suit up for the first dive. Our resort operator and dive leader, Charlie Lee, and I share a similar talent in drawing. While I draw maps to food, he excel in underwater topography, and drew maps of every dive sites before we visit them.

The maps come with depth, underwater geological features, path, and so on. Very impressive!

diving at tenggol, turtle point
Ahh, being underwater, I miss it already

Our first dive was at Turtle Point, located at the Southern end of the bay, it is protected from the sometimes vicious current at Tenggol. With a maximum depth of 18 meter, the site is usually chosen for check-out dives.

My log book told me that it is also the place where I had my very first dive, though at that time we only went to the relatively safe depth of 9 meter.

Joe and Terence diving, mini barracudas
Joe busy working, baby barracudas, Terence, blue coral fish

  • dive #1: Turtle Point
  • date/time: 27/3/2010 11:26 am
  • depth: 17.6 meter
  • duration: 43 mins
  • visibility: 10-20 meters
  • temp: 29c

Four out of six of us brought cameras with casing fit for underwater usage, which makes for plenty of photos. You can check out the photos I took at this FB album

sea cucumber, tang fish, crown of thorns star fish
giant sea cucumber, tang fish, evil crown of thorns star fish

It was nice to get underwater again, Turtle Point was very stress free. We saw a school of baby barracudas, and unlike their grown up counter parts, they looked so cute when they’re at only 1-2 feet in size.

Sea cucumber, tang fish, and various other coral dwelling fishes were spotted too. There’s also the crown of thorns star fish that actually eats coral.

Phyllidia varicosa, dive computer, moray eel
Phyllidia varicosa (scrambled egg nudi), Suunto D6, moray eel

We went on shore and had a very good lunch of curry chicken, vegetable, and rice. Usually lousy food is expected at dive resorts, but the meals we had with Charlie were all rather good, way beyond expectation.

Shortly after that it was our second dive of the day. We were pumped!

  • dive #2: Tangjung Gemuk
  • date/time: 27/3/2010 2:20 pm
  • depth: 26.9 meter
  • duration: 44 mins
  • visibility: 10-15 meters
  • temp: 29c

nemo and friends, puffer fish
Nemo and cousins, skinny puffer fish

Tanjung Gemuk is located a bit further away and had a bit of current going on. We took advantage of the current and did a very enjoyable and relaxing drift dive for the most part. Spotted puffer fish, two different types of clown fish, the “scrambled egg” nudi branch (sea slug), and more.

We probably covered 4-500 meters in 44 minutes. It was another excellent dive on just the first day.

There are 6 more dives on this trip, and I shall continue on the coming posts. For now, time to sleep!