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Just less than 5 kilometres away from KLCC is a time capsule that is Ayer Panas, a suburb that seems to be trapped in time, oblivious to the rapid development of Kuala Lumpur. It is also a place where I stop by in the morning to enjoy traditional hawker fair from time to time.

Here are three of the most popular hawker stalls within the Ayer Panas wet market worth checking out.

home-made wantan mee at this stall
very delicious home-made wantan at this stall

The wantan mee stall here serves unpretentious wantan mee in either soup or dry version, all for only RM 4 per bowl. Seating area is rather premium, but thankfully most customers here order them to-go.

only RM 4 for this delicious plate of wantan mee
only RM 4 for this delicious plate of wantan mee

The home-made wantan here is one of my favorites, with soft, thin skin wrapping that flavourful minced pork. The dark sauce used here too does not overpower the noodle which is springy and delicious.

the pork noodle stall is one of the busiest around here
the pork noodle stall is one of the busiest around here

The pork noodle stall is one of the busiest hawker stalls in the whole wet market, offering pork noodle, yee mee, fish ball noodle, loh mee, and mee suah with quite a choice of porky ingredients. You can mix and match the type of soup & ingredients to your liking.

dry version with Vit's noodle and a side of soup
dry version with Vit’s noodle and a side of soup

For dry version, I like Vit’s noodle that is served with a side of soup packed with fish ball, meatball,  minced pork ball, liver, intestine, and even some fuchuk. The combination is a bit like dry instant indomie on steroid, for the lack of a better comparison.

soup version of pork noodle is plenty delicious as well
soup version of pork noodle is plenty delicious as well

Traditional soup-based pork noodle starts at RM 4.60 here are packed with the above mentioned ingredients as well. For the carb of choice, you can choose from kuih teow, yellow noodle, meehun, yee mee, Vit’s, or mee suah.

the yong tau foo stall has been in operation for some 30-40 years
the yong tau foo stall has been in operation for some 30-40 years

The third hawker offering worth checking out is the yong tau foo stall that has been operating for at least some 40 years. The man behind the stall is in his 70s, and still has a pair of quick hands offering his craft.

RM 0.70 per piece, simple yet tasty
RM 0.70 per piece, simple yet tasty

There aren’t a huge variety of yong tau foo here, just a couple type sof tofu, a few variations of fish balls, fuchuk, and chee cheong fun. The home-made fish ball here though was one of the bests I’ve tried, springy and flavorful, so be sure to grab a few extras if you’re here. Each piece costs RM 0.70.

map to pasar ayer panas

Address:
Pasar Ayer Panas
Jalan Ayer Keroh
Taman Ayer Panas,
43000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.189279,101.718704
Hours: breakfast and brunch

For those who loves classic Hokkien dishes, Hua Xing would be a  place you shouldn’t miss. For reasons unknown, I didn’t know the existence of this place until very recently, despite staying rather close to the area and actually visited the police station just across this restaurant for “official business“, furthermore, Sing Kee is also one of the restaurants we frequent.

Restaurant Hua Xing at Sungai Way, Petaling Jaya
Restaurant Hua Xing at Sungai Way, Petaling Jaya

Most of it though, has to do with the location of this place. Situated on the first floor of a fantastically planned shopping strip that is Plaza Seri Setia (conveniently situated behind a row of shop houses), it is but 50 meters from Federal Highway, but well hidden enough that you’d never find Carmen Sandiego if he take up residence in this building.

Anyway, the restaurant has a pretty clean, air conditioned interior, with photos of various dishes plastered on the wall, which was helpful. Food arrived in less than 10 minutes after we ordered, definitely a good thing.

Hokkien braised pork with "alkaline" kuih
Hokkien braised pork with “alkaline” kuih, or Hong Bak in Hokkien

I’m ashamed to be a Hokkien for not having heard about Hong Bak before, and how insanely awesome this dish is. Really fat cuts of pork braised in thick, sinful gravy accompanied with soft “alkaline” kuih. The kuih is like a softer version of char kuih kak’s kuih, and really goes well with the gravy. Of course, those fatty pork doesn’t hurt at all. I love it.

bitter gourd Hokkien mee, potato flour noodle, fried eggplant, rice wine chicken
bitter gourd Hokkien mee, potato flour noodle, fried eggplant, rice wine chicken

Another notable dish here is the fried eggplant. It reminds me of the version at Serai which I loved, both are deep fried, one with sugar (Serai), and another with plenty of garlic. Very delicious and positively addictive, I will order this every time I’m here.

The bitter gourd Hokkien mee is a nice change from the ordinary version which can be a tad “jelak” after having the 2nd bowl. The slight bitterness from the vege neutralize the dark sauce in a positive way, I like it.

Potato flour noodle was a bit of a disappointment for us, a bit too dry for my liking, and doesn’t offer any advantage in taste either.

The rice wine (or actually red yeast) chicken was another old school dish that we tried, it could do better with heavier dose of red wine/yeast thingy but the dish held its own nonetheless. It’d be better with rice, we had noodle, so a bit of mismatched there.

Yuki, Horng, Suan, and KY
Yuki, Horng, Suan, and KY at Hua Xiang, Sungei Way

Over all, the dinner at Hua Xing was a positive one. I believe we’ll definitely head back there again. I only wish that the parking situation is a bit more favourable though.

map to Hua Xing at Sungai Way

Address:
Hua Xiang Restaurant
Lot1-12, 1st Floor, 
Plaza Seri Setia, 
Jalan SS9/2, Seri Setia, 
Sungei Way,
47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.085874, 101.62023
Tel03-7876 3288
Hours: lunch and dinner, closed on alternate Wednesdays

Every once in a while, it is good to take a little half day road trip to get away from the city and explore what some of the smaller towns has to offer. A few weekends ago, when the city is again covered with haze and heat, we decided to head to Bentong for a mini food trail and to bask ourselves in the surrounding with slower pace of life.

Bentong, Pahang
Bentong, Pahang

Bentong is located on the West side of Pahang, and only about 33 kilometers from the exit to Genting on the Karak highway. From KL, the journey will take about an hour.

The entire district has a population of about 100 thousand, but on weekends, there are also visitors on big bikes and city dwellers looking to buy the famous Bentong ginger. In between those group, there’s yours truly looking to fill up his stomach.

Hooi Kee wantan mee at Yuen Kee kopitiam
Hooi Kee wantan mee at Yuen Kee kopitiam

Our first stop was Yuen Kee kopitiam, we chose this as it was the busiest breakfast outlet among the few we walked by around the wet market.

Without knowing what to eat, we again used the golden rule of “picking the  busiest stall” and ordered a couple bowls of wantan mee (RM 4.50) from Hooi Kee. As it turned out, this is actually the most famous hawker stall in Bentong.

sauce not overly sweet, and the wantan was delicious
sauce not overly sweet, and the wantan was delicious

The texture of noodle was pretty springy but not chewy, and I particularly liked their wantan that is packed with pork. The dark sauce carries a slight bitter taste which I find myself enjoying, but the charsiu (bbq pork) was rather average compared to some of the places in KL.

Be prepared to share table and wait for at least 10-15 minutes before food arrives.

Address:  Yuen Kee restaurant, No. 57, Jalan Chui Yin, 28700, Bentong, Pahang
GPS3.523174, 101.907015
Tel012-946 8406
Hours: breakfast and brunch

the yong tau foo stall at choy kee kopitiam
the yong tau foo stall at choy kee kopitiam

After the wantan mee, we decided to try something that is a bit more special – wild boar curry.

Wild boar isn’t something that is easily attainable in Klang Valley. The meat is usually slightly tougher and more gamey, so the most poplar method of preparation is usually curry. The stronger flavour of spices and longer cooking masks the stronger pork taste while tenderises the meat.

wild boar curry with chee cheong fun and yong tau foo
wild boar curry with chee cheong fun and yong tau foo

We ordered a piece of chee cheong fun and two pieces yong tau foo to go with the wild boar curry (RM 4). There’s generous amount of sesame and sweet sauce covering the yong tau foo, and best of all, there’s even sambal belacan on the side.

I enjoyed this dish a lot, and discovered that wild boar curry really does go very well with chee cheong fun.

Address: Choy Kee Restaurant, Jalan Pasar & Jalan Chang Seng, 28700, Bentong, Pahang
GPS: 3.522082, 101.906792
Hours: breakfast and brunch

kedai kopi kow po, more ice cream than coffee
kedai kopi kow po, more ice cream than coffee

After two main dishes, it was natural to get some desserts in the system. For this purpose, Bentong has an old school home-made ice cream parlour by the name of Kedai Kopi Kow Po.

We shared an ice kacang with asingle scoup of  home-made pandan ice cream, the shaved ice had all the traditional ingredients going for it – the black jelly, cendol, red bean, corn, and even pineapple. The ice cream was creamy and rather delicious too. I can see why this place has been in business for decades.

ice kacang with home made ice cream, delicious
ice kacang with home made ice cream, delicious

AddressKow Po Ice Cream, No. 2, Bentong Heights, 28700 Bentong, Pahang
GPS3.522107, 101.910755
Tel: 09-222 1258
Hours: 10 am to 7 pm daily

map to Bentong food

A couple weeks ago I was invited to PJ Hilton’s Genji Japanese restaurant for a session of food tasting. Genji is in fact one of the older Japanese restaurants in PJ dining scene, having been in operation for some 30 years now.

Genji Japanese Restaurant at PJ Hilton
Genji Japanese Restaurant at PJ Hilton

Thankfully, the interior and furnishing was not the same one since the opening days. The decoration is quite typical of classic Japanese restaurant, simple, classy, and not over the top. For this session, we occupied one of the private rooms with floor seating and sliding doors for that extra feel.

The restaurant is headed by Chef Richard Teoh, a man with vast experience in Japanese cuisine who does not shy away from adding his personal touch to traditional recipe.

Maki Tamago,Chuka Kurage, with Yamamomo and Morokyu
Maki Tamago,Chuka Kurage, with Yamamomo and Morokyu

We started the meal with an appetiser dish specially prepared by the good chef, something that’s usually featured in Omakase Kaizeki meals (RM 300 for 7 course, RM 220 for 5 course menu). We had maki tamago (egg roll with unagi filling), chuka kurage (marinated jellyfish) with yamamomo (mountain berry), and morokyu (fresh cucumber with fermented miso bean).

I love the mountain berry and thought  that the pairing of natto with fresh cucumber somehow worked for me even though I really thought natto is usually quite nasty.

Tokyo salad
Tokyo salad

Tokyo salad (RM 30) came next, a combination of lightly boiled fresh seafood with fresh greens and seaweed. All these is then topped with a home-made sesame sauce that is infused by wasabi, one of Chef Richard’s recipes. I like the mild kick from the sauce that injects extra excitement in this salad dish.

Sashimi/ Sushi Combi
Sashimi/ Sushi Combi

Japanese food isn’t complete without some raw stuff, for this purpose we had the pretty unpretentiously named sashimi/ Sushi combi (RM 240). The selection of seafood in this dish varies, but you’ll usually get salmon, tuna, otoro (tuna belly), sacallop, sea bream, and more. The otoro was absolutely spot on, the sashimi fresh and delicious, with my only comment being that the sushi tends to carry a bit more rice than I like them to have.

The combination is big enough to be shared among 4-5 pax.

Kaizen Mushi - subtle and refreshing
Kaizen Mushi – subtle and refreshing 

Kaizen Mushi (RM 30) represented something from Japanese cuisine which I seldom had – a combination of prawns, salmon, scallop, and mussel steamed with assorted vegetable then served in a light sweet broth. The dish was served with a mixture of ponzu sauce with grated radish, yuzu skin, and a dash of tabasco.

While the sauce itself was quite interesting, it was ultimately unnecessary. The seafood soup was actually plenty good enough to be had by itself, I really enjoyed this dish and thought that it is of pretty good value as well.

Duo Combi - Kaki Chilli Mayo, Gindara Teriyaki
Duo Combi – Kaki Chilli Mayo, Gindara Teriyaki 

Our main dish of the night was duo combi  - kaki chilli mayo and gindarai teriyaki, a dish that’s part of the Omakase Kaizeki menu. The oyster chilli with mayo was an interesting interpretation with a local twist (chilli padi), while the cod fish represented the more traditional Japanese fair. I like them both, but wished that I can have another two servings of those sweet delicious cod.

Chef Teoh, Kelly, KY, Jean, and Azuki Banana Dorayaki
Chef Teoh, Kelly, KY, Jean, and Azuki Banana Dorayaki

We ended the session with azuki banana dorayaki (RM 30), or Doraemon’s favorite dessert with red bean and banana in the middle. A scoop of black sesame ice cream and a couple slices of melon (local) made up the rest of the dessert.

Overall it was a pretty decent dinner, one that sits in the middle-to-high tier of Japanese cuisine in Malaysia, something that is a step above your usual restaurant chains but a tad below some finer Japanese restaurants in Klang Valley.

Thank you Sabrina for the invite.

map to Petaling Jaya Hilton Hotel

Address:
Genji Japanese Restaurant
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS3.10235, 101.64087
Tel03-7955 9122

Kuih Teow Soup is one of my favorite hawker dishes whenever I’m in Penang.

That clear soup with home-made fish ball and duck meat is something that you can hardly find in Klang Valley (outside of Penang One), a land where pork noodle rules instead of kuih teow soup, or kuih teow th’ng as we liked to call it in Penang.

old school kuih teow soup, starts at only RM 3
old school kuih teow soup, starts at only RM 3

In the morning, there’s Ah Hai at Kim Lee kopitiam or Restaurant 113; for afternoon, try Pitt Street kuih teow soup at Lebuh Carnavon, but if you’re looking for a good bowl of kuih teow soup at night, Chulia Street is one of the places to check out.

the fish balls were very good, and duck skin, yums!
the fish balls were very good, and pork skin, yums!

This is one of those old school stalls that fortunately, still has the pricing structure of yesteryear. A bowl of kuih teow soup starts from RM 3, and comes with the essential home made fish ball, duck meat, and most importantly, duck skin as well.

The soup is subtle but carry the unmistakeable aroma from boiling duck carcass, the fish ball had a perfect texture and taste, the kuih teow soft but does not break apart, it was an exercise of balance with everything complementing each other.

By the way, you can ask for extra ingredients too. In this case, my choice was some sinful pork skin, oh I miss it.

map to Chulia Street, Penang

Address:
Kuih Teow Soup
(outside Kedai Ubat Yoong Chee Tong)
Chulia Street, 10200 Penang
GPS: 5.416295, 100.338670
Hours: dinner and supper

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