Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / Outside Malaysia

If you love milk, this is a traditional snacks from the Philippines you must try. I make a point to always buy back at least a box of Yema Tower whenever I travel to the Philippines (in addition to pork rind and garlic chips)

Yema Tower from Philippines
Yema Tower from Philippines

Towers of Yema is basically made from evaporated milk. In fact, you can supposedly make this at home by slowly boiling evaporated milk in low fire until most moisture is removed, then perhaps try to shape it ala playdoh style.

The thing is soft, sweet, and carries a strong milky taste to it. I often eat too many of these in a single seating, it’s like a dog/cat treat for human. I can’t imagine it’s terribly good for your teeth though.

this goes very well with coffee
this goes very well with coffee

I also find that this Yema tower thing is awesome with coffee, especially black unsweetened Americano. The sweetness of the treat really compliments coffee real well.

Damn it, I need to find me some Yema Towers.

Aprilia Shiver 750

On a completely unrelated note, I’ve traded in the old faithful RS 250 to a new Aprilia Shiver a couple months ago. I present to you, my Red Italian Lady, my daily driver to work.

If you wonder why some people choose to ride despite the inherently higher risks, ask yourself if you’ve seen a bike parked outside psychiatrist’s office?

Happy weekends!

I’m currently in Philippines enjoying a dive trip, so I suppose it’s appropriate to introduce to you one of the dishes I discovered by accident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport of Manila.

I was waiting for my flight back to KL on the Operation Smile trip late last year, hungry struck, so we decided to stop by one of the small airport restaurants at Terminal 3 to catch lunch. The name of the place was Great Man Hann Restaurant.

dinuguan at Great Man Hann restaurant
dinuguan at Great Man Hann restaurant

The menu was full of vocabulary not found in my system, so like any adventurer, I picked the first item – Dinuguan, and asked the server about the dish.

“Sir, it’s pork cooked with pork blood”

He had me at pork blood, so I ordered, and it came exactly like what the server described.

Dinuguan from Philippines
Dinuguan from Philippines

Well, there’s also a side of steamed rice, and a green chili native to the Philippines on top. The “gravy” is made of pork blood and thus not exactly liquid but more like very tiny chunks of coagulated pork blood. Meat was delicious especially those with a mixture of fats in it, and when eaten with the chili, it provided an excellent kick.

It was an interesting dish and one that I would definitely try again. Since this one was from the airport, I’m sure there are superior versions out there, I shall try more. Especially those that not only include meat but intestine, ears, liver, and more.

Yum yum, so what’s some of the more interesting things you ate in 2012?

It’s balut time!

December 5, 2012 34 Comments

One of the most well known exotic Asian food must be balut from the Philippines. For those who hasn’t heard about this weird and wonderful traditional Pinoy dish, it is simply steamed duck embryo.

balut from manila

In my first trip to the Philippines back in 2009 I didn’t have a chance to try this delicacy, so when I went there again last week for Operation Smile (amazing experience, will write about that in depth soon), we make sure that balut is on top of our to-do list.

Well, here’s a video of the experience:

While balut is sold pretty much anywhere in Manila (and I suppose, most part of Philippines), they are not terribly easy to hunt down. The sellers usually operate out of a bicycle, so it’s best to ask a local where and also when you can get one.

We actually had to stop our bus once while traveling from De La Selle University Hospital back to hotel just to flag down a balut seller for some of these good stuff. A balut goes for about 10-15 peso, and usually comes with some salt, and sometimes vinegar.

check out the whole embryo separated from the egg white
check out the whole embryo separated from the egg white

As for the taste, it was like a cross between hard boiled duck egg and the tip of black chicken wings that is boiled in herbal soup till super soft. The beak can be just a little crunchy, and sometimes the feather does get in the way just a bit.

Quite gross when you think about it mentally, but really, it is delicious! I especially like the juice in balut, which probably is the allantoic fluid, or simply put, duck embryo pee. :D

Skilled balut eater can also separate out the whole embryo from the egg to scare non-eating spectators, I shall learn to do that next time.

So if you’re in the Philippines, try a balut, or 4 (like I did)

Several weeks ago we headed to Singapore for a little one night escapade to catch a concert (thanks Michelle for hosting for the night!), and that was right after a short weekend diving trip at Tioman (will write later). It was our first “proper” concert – Snow Patrol.

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, Singapore
Le Bistrot du Sommelier, Singapore

We arrived at the venue of concert, Fort Canning, a couple hours ahead of time, and hungry. Since we somehow managed to secure a free parking space right outside the entrance (this is Singapore, it was like striking lottery), we were content to just walk around and find something that resembles dinner.

That’s how we ended up outside Le Bistrot du Sommelier, a pretty classy looking restaurant with loads of wine glasses on the  tables by the side, alfresco style.

red wine braised beef cheeks with carrots and mushrooms, parley potatos
red wine braised beef cheeks with carrots and mushrooms, parley potatos

At this point we can’t be arsed to walk anymore, we asked for a table and got one outdoor since it’s fully booked indoor. Guess it’s a pretty popular place.

A look in the menu convinced us that prices are good if you’re earning Singapore dollars, but a bit of a stretch of us Malaysians. We ended up ordering two specials on the chalk board, after our very informative and super helpful waiter with a French accent did his best in explaining what they are. Our server’s name was not Jacques, it was Faizal.

Very impressive, Faizal.

beef tenderloin tartare served with french fries
beef tenderloin tartare served with french fries

I ordered red wine braised beef cheeks with carrots and mushrooms, parley potatos (SGD $30). It came in a little clay pot with the potato on the side. The beef was properly braised you could cut it with a dull spoon, the stock had a strong aroma of red wine and carrot so soft old toothless lady could eat it without any denture. It was marvelous.

I also particularly like how they prepare the potato, with small chunks of sea salt sprinkled atop, so instead of a uniform taste, you get a tiny burst of saltiness now and then, worked well.

the dishes were delightful

the dishes were delightful

Haze too was very happy with her beef tenderloin tartare and french fries (SGD $32). The beef was beautifully prepared, and tasted equally awesome. It was juicy, raw, and came in a very generous portion as well. French fries tasted just like any French fries, this being a French restaurant didn’t make it any different.

KY & Haze at Singapore, just before Snow Patrol concert
KY & Haze at Sg., just before Snow Patrol concert. I already looked stoned from all the driving

We were well satisfied with the food at Le Bistrot du Sommelier, the only thing better was the service from our waiter, a splendid experience, and certainly will return to try out some of their other stuff (this time will bring a bigger wallet I guess).

Later I found out this place is one of Michelle’s favorite restaurants as well, no surprises there. :D

map to Le Bistrot du Sommelier

Le Bistrot du Sommelier
53, Armenian Street,
Singapore 179940
GPS: 1.294807, 103.849445
Tel: +65-6333 1982

and it was an awesome concert, Snow Patrol rocked hard
it was an awesome concert, Snow Patrol rocked hard, again I looked a bit stoned

Snow Patrol’s concert was way awesome as well. Gary Lightbody really knows how to connect to the crowd, I wished the show was a little longer than the 18 song set list. Fort Canning is an excellent venue for concerts as well, the stage was set up at the bottom of a slope so you get an unblocked view to the stage as long as the person ahead of you isn’t a head taller.

It is always a mystery to me as to why there are so many people who insists on eating the things they are used to eating at home while traveling to another country. The phenomenon must be very prevalent, so much so that at most touristy places, there are more Western restaurants than there are local Thai places.

Khao Lak is more of the same, the small resort town (approximately 100 km north of Phuket) where we spent the day after liveaboard to Similan islands for degassing purposes. For us, that was of course a perfect opportunity to eat everything Thai.

Fire in the hole!

motorbike is the best way to get around
motorbike is the best way to get around

While Khao Lak is relatively small and there are cabs available pretty much everywhere, the best mode of transportation is a scooter. You probably don’t even need a license to rent one, but do make sure you know what you’re doing.

Our scooter cost 200 baht per day, and you can refuel from plenty of places by buying bottled gasoline for 40 baht per liter. If you value your life, ask for helmets, they provide them without extra charge.

som tam by the roadside, I had it last year too
som tam by the roadside, I had it last year too

If you love sour & spicy stuff, som tam is a must try. Made of unripe papaya or green mango, bean sprout, peanut, chili, dried shrimps and more. Comes with a kick, we paid 40 bath, would be cheaper if this stall wasn’t parked right outside hot tourist spots.

breakfast was this rice/noodle with extremely spicy broths
breakfast was this rice/noodle with extremely spicy broths

On the day of departure, we decided to forgo hotel breakfast and try something a Thai would have. After riding around a bit we arrived at this kopitiam with a couple Thai ladies operating a stall that offers rice or noodle with a selection of dishes with broth.

Thai: spicy haa!
Me: we kon Malay, spicy no problem!

I was mistaken. These shit was tasty, and really, really hot. Lucky for us there were fresh cucumbers & a variety of vegetables on the table to cool things down. It was a good meal, what do you call them anyway?

noodle soup is the yums, choices of beef, chicken, or pork
noodle soup is the yums, choices of beef, chicken, or pork

A day prior to departure, just before dinner, we stopped by one of the road side stalls right on the main street at Khao Lak for some “snacks” that turned out to be really delicious noodle soup.

Here you get to choose any combination of 3 ingredients: pork, chicken, and beef. I had mine with chicken & beef while Haze opted for pork and beef. This reminded me of Vietnamese pho, and had the same basil/bean sprout on the side too, but as with anything Thai, the flavors were stronger. Yums.

50 baht for each, water was free. 100 baht well spent.

pad thai was not bad, but the fried oyster was a disappointment
pad thai wasn’t bad, the fried oyster tho, disappointing

Our last meal there was at this little restaurant a couple kilometers away from Khao Lak (scooter brings you places!). We had pad thai with prawns & squid, and another plate of fried oyster to share.

The pad thai was rather average, and the fried oyster.. well, after the experience at Penang’s version, this was a complete disappointment. Each plate was 50 baht, with 15 baht each for coca-cola t hat comes in those classic glass bottle.

Yes, my stomach is still recovering from all those chili overload, but of course it was worth it. :D