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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Monthly Archives / June 2010

A trip to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia is never complete without having keropok lekor, and when it comes to this particular wholesome snack, Terengganu is usually regarded as the best place to have them.

Keropok Lekor Zahela Embong
Keropok Lekor Zahela Embong, as recommended by Ed

Traditional keropok lekor is made of fish meat, sago, and a bit of salt, there are some that uses flour in addition or instead of sago too. The concoction is then made into unsightly phallic shape that is then boiled and optionally fried.

The keropok is usually served with chili sauce. Here in Klang Valley, you usually get some mass produced chili sauce like Kimball, but in Terengganu, it’s often some home made goodness instead.

keropok lekor with sauce
Keropok Lekor with chili sauce, yum max!

The keropok lekor stall of Zaleha Embong is conveniently located in between the town of Kuala Terengganu and Merang, the jetty for departing to Redang Island.

Our dive guide Ed, who’s been to Redang more often than just about anyone I know, swears on this stall, and I do agree that the keropok lekor here was really awesome. It was delicious, slightly salty and tasted like an offspring of fish cake and prawn fritters. Don’t miss this one if you find ourself heading to Merang Jetty.

Terence, FA, Horng, Kim, Kerol, Haze, KY
Terence, FA, Horng, Kim, Kerol, Haze, and KY

The same stall sells other local products like dried cuttle fish with sugar, salted fish (wet and dried version), and various other prepacked keropok too. I spent RM20 on those other nonsense in making my colleagues in KL happy, they loved it too!

Kerepok Lekor at Kuala  Terengganu map

Address:
Keropok Lekor Zaleha Embong
near Kg. Merabang Likar
21020 Kuala Terengganu

GPS: 5.457598,103.034248
Tel: 09-669 4762

As the previous Redang island post mentioned, we arrived at Kuala Terengganu 2 hours too early for our boat ride to the island. To kill time and satisfy our stomach, we head to Chinatown, a road aptly called Jalan Kampung Cina at KT for some breakfast.

roast duck noodle at kuala terengganu
duck noodle at coffee shop just next to the Chinatown gate

Even at this primarily Muslim dominated state, Chinese food is actually pretty easy to get, and there’s a  local taste to it too. Most Chinese in Terengganu speaks either Hokkien with a very Penang like accent, or Mandarin. Cantonese is spoken here too but quite a lot less prevalent.

All these basically means that you shouldn’t have any problem ordering food. Unlike the hawker scene in KL that’s dominated by foreigners whom you just don’t know what language to start with when trying to converse with them.

KY and Kim
KY and Kim enjoying some roast duck noodle as breakfast

The duck noodle stall offers wantan noodle, roast pork, char siu, and of course, roast duck. Kim and I both ordered the roast duck with wantan noodle (RM 4-6). The meat was very fragrant, tender, and juicy, and I love the abundance of lighter sauce on the noodle with the thicker roast duck sauce on the meat. There’s a bowl of pork wantan soup accompanying the dish.

I wouldn’t mind stopping here for breakfast again if I find myself at KT. Yums!

kuala terengganu chinatown map

By the way, check out Kim’s account on Redang too.

Address:
Jalan Kampung Cina,
Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu

GPS: 5.331986, 103.132667

Before earlier this year at Sipadan and Mabul islands, my previous diving trip was Redang, way back in 2005. After the very first dive at Mabul island, I realized how much I actually missed diving and promised that I would do it perhaps 4 times this year.

I guess I over achieved, it is June and I’ve went on 4 diving trips already. This time at Redang island, it was a trip organized by Terence to con our buddy Horng in getting his PADI Open Water certification.

turtle at Redang
Terence chasing the green turtle

Together with Haze, Kim, Kerol, FA, Joe (went to Tenggol with), and dive instructor Edvin from OceanXplorer, we started our journey just after midnight from KL to Kuala Terengganu on Friday.

The drive took a little less than 7 hours, which proved to be a bit of a mistake in scheduling. As our boat does not leave till past 9 am, we ended up having to spend over 2 hours at Kuala Terengganu for breakfast. Should have left at perhaps 1:30am instead to optimize the journey and catch more sleep prior.

haze, FA, kim, kerol at Merang Jetty
Haze, Kerol, FA, and Kim. bottom rigth: 2 vagabonds found on the boat

In contrast with the departure point to Tenggol at Dungun where there were perhaps half a dozen people heading to the island, Merang Jetty was absolutely packed. There were tourists representing all continents, a cacophony of foreign languages and various local accents served as white noise while we board our relatively comfortable boat.

A little less than an hour later, we arrived at Redang.

KY & Haze, Joe with his cam, Horng and Edvin
KY & Haze, Joe, Horng getting his PADI certification by Edvin

While Tenggol was a hidden paradise, Redang felt more like a well oiled machine all prep up for tourists.

Boat load of people being herded to the resort registration counter like sheep by hounds, tractors hauling your luggage, loud PA system announcing snorkeling time, and huge dining area not entirely unlike school canteen.

Eagle Ray at Redang island
freaking lucky Horng, Eagle Ray on his first ever dive

Having said that, while I don’t particularly like the commercialization of the island, it does have advantages some can’t live without.

There’s projector with Astro showing world cup, convenient store, pub by the beach with dance floor and all sorts of alcohol, and even eateries offering pretty awesome Cantonese noodle and lor mai kai (glutinous rice with chicken).

Terence, Horng, KY, Joe geared up for diving
Terence, Horng, KY, Joe,  diving at Redang on 2nd day

I did 5 dives at Redang, the first was the shore dive in conjunction with Horng’s very first compressed air breathing experience in the ocean. We saw a magnificent spotted eagle ray!

nemo, cleaner fish
puffer fish, nemo’s cousin, and cleaner fish on my fins

The second dive we did was with the resort’s dive operator at the site just a couple minutes from the beach. The dive turned out to be pretty forgettable, not a whole lot to see and a tad too many divers at the same time. I did manage to get some cleaner fish to service my fins though :D

Luckily quite a lot of people left the island on Sunday (our 2nd day). The lesser crowd was a blessing, and though not related, the diving was much better too.

blue fish, more nemo, moray eel
blue coral fish, moray eel, more nemo, blue spotted sting ray

Our second dive at Tanjung Tokong dive site had the best visibility I’ve ever experienced, we could see well over 30 meters. It was like diving in 1080p HD quality.

We ended up visiting a lot of nemo in our 5 dives. There were other usual suspects like moray eel, trigger fish, cleaner fish, shrimp, puffer, porcupine fish, green turtle, and blue spotted sting ray. There weren’t a lot of nudibranch though.

Unfortunately, there were also some signs of coral bleaching due to the warm ocean temperature, hopefully that will reverse itself in due time.

shrimp, ikan kembong, porcupine fish
another eel, ikan kembong?, cleaner shrimp, porcupine fish

While the diving weren’t superb, they were still pretty enjoyable. The excellent vis at Tg. Tokong was a savior, and of course the feeling of being in water with total freedom and almost total quietness was always something I love.

Kim and Kerol did a discovery dive with Ed and totally loved it, I think there’s probably more certified divers in #porkgang next year. As it stands, all the guys are certified divers, and none of the girls are. Lets change that soon guys!

Last week I went to Japan… or a restaurant in Subang that felt like it belongs somewhere in a Tokyo suburb.

Together with Haze, Cheesie, and Taka, we went to Sumi Ka at SS 15, a yakitori place swore by Taka, who is actually a Japanese and not some Malaysia with a foreign name (such as Gareth, for example).

Sumi Ka Yakiniku Japanese Restaurant
Sumi Ka Yakitori, with more Japanese than Malaysian customers

It was a Wednesday evening, so we did not bother to call up for a reservation. After all, how many people could possibly go to a restaurant that’s located on 1st floor in the middle of SS 15 on a weekday?

Big mistake, the place was packed, and all but a couple tables were occupied by Japanese. The place is filled with smokes not only from the grill but from the tobacco loving people, it had the smell of a proper Japanese restaurant, the cacophony of chatters in Japanese completes the foreign ambiance. I loved it.

We waited at the stairs for a good 20 minutes before getting a table by the corner. It was the correct decision despite the look of protest in cheesie’s eyes.

quail egg, chicken cartilage, gizzard, chicken butt
uzura tamago (quail eggs), sunazuri (gizzard),
nankotu (cartilage), bonhiri (chicken butt)

Since the language on the menu wasn’t very agreeable with me, I left the task of ordering to the pro. Taka got  us 7 different types of yakitori, 3 rice bowls, potato salad, and the customary cabbage salad too.

The yakitori were insanely good. We started out with uzura tamago (quail eggs, RM 3 each) and some sunazuri (chicken gizzard, RM 6). They were really good, but not exactly the type of ingredients that are difficult to grill well.

Then came nankotu (chicken cartilage, RM 4), which is actually the piece of “soft bone” from the center of chicken breast. The texture was superb, slightly crunchy and mixed perfectly with the little bit of meat on it.

Then there’s the bonhiri (chicken butt/bisho’s nose RM 3) that was just out of this world. There wasn’t any gross splashing of liquid fat in your mouth, it was just a mixture of fat, salt, skin, and meat that came together like an awesome symphony. You gotta try this one even if you aren’t particularly a big bishop nose’s fan.

chicken skin, grilled lamb, gyutan (ox tongue)
kawa (chicken skin), lamb yakitori, gyutan (ox tongue)

Kawa (chicken skin, RM 3) was up next, again I failed to understand how massive amount of salt on grilled chicken skin could taste so good, but it was exactly the case. Baffling. I need more!

We also had beef and mutton yakitori (RM 4) that Haze described as the most awesome yakitori she has ever tasted. The gyutan (ox tongue, RM 6) was also one of my favorites. Just the right texture and that ox tongue flavor that carries the taste not particularly related with french kissing a cow.

potato salad, rice bowls
potato salad, oyakodon (chicken & egg), yakitori don, tea rice thingy

Other than the yakitori, we had some yummy potato salad (RM 12) and a few rice bowls to help fill up the stomach. These tasted rather good too, authentic and true to the taste.

I learned that the chicken and egg rice bowl is called oyakodon (RM 14), which directly translate to “parents and children”. Chicken and egg, whole family murdered, just for our consumption, ahh, I love being a human.

Yakitori don (RM 14) proved slightly redundant, it was good but I think on hindsight we should have tried something else. The tea rice bowl thingy that Cheesie ordered was perfect to sorta wash off the greasy taste after all those grilled food though.

cabbage salad, cheesie, taka, KY, haze
Cheesie, Taka, KY, Haze at Sumi Ka Yakitori

The meal was excellent, and I am going to get the list of restaurants to go to from Taka. This dudes really has good taste. By the way, don’t go to this restaurant, it is already packed as is, and Cheesie won’t be happy if she has to wait again, she’ll blame me. FML

You can instead go to Yakiniku at Cheras which is quite a lot cheaper to get your fix, they serve pork there. Go there instead, the food tastes decent, don’t go to Sumi Ka, leave the empty seats for me instead :D

sumi ka yakitori map

Address:
Sumi-Ka Restaurant
No. 19, Jalan SS 15/4
47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor

GPS: 3.075327, 101.588677
Tel: 03-5632 9312/016-224 9312

Just got back from a 3 day 2 night trip from Redang last night. It was my 4th diving trip for the year and my first time to Redang since September 2005. Original cast from the previous trip – Terence, Kerol, and Kim were on this trip, but we’ve also added FA, Haze, Joe (who went to Tenggol with us), and of course, Horng who got himself certified with PADI Open Water.

It looks like we’ll be going on more island trips soon, Kerol and Kim both did discovery diving and loved it, and the gang now already has 4 certified divers.

Will blog more about Redang very soon, about the place, the crowd, the food, diving, and more. But in the mean time, here’s a lovely picture of nemo and friends that I shot on the 4th dive of the trip with superb visibility.

Nemo at Pulau Redang
nemo and friends at Redang Island

Sipadan, Tenggol twice, now Redang, where’s next! I’m already missing it.