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The most famous Vietnamese dish outside Vietnam is of course, the Vietnamese beef noodle, or pho (pronounce as “fe-eh”). This is likely the first dish most people think about when it comes to Vietnamese food, and for good reasons – it is accessible, delicious, and uses ingredients familiar with most other cuisines.

Pho Cao Van, at District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Pho Cao Van, at District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

There are in fact, two slightly different types of pho, one originated from Saigon/HCMC, and another from the Hanoi, a distance of over 1100 KM away. While both soup stock utilizes beef & beef bone as a major component, the Southern version also incorporate a stronger presence of aroma from fish sauce. In a way, pho from HCMC is the one you usually get, especially outside Vietnam.

the traditional way is to give you way too much vege
the traditional way is to give you way too much vege

Pho Cao Van at Mac Dinh Chi road, however, is one of the few places that serves traditional Northern style pho at Saigon. At 40,000 VND and above per bowl, it is certainly one of the more expensive pho options out there, but also one of the more “authentic” versions there is.

squeeze the lemon, and dip those tendon in the chili sauce
squeeze the lemon, and dip those tendon in the chili sauce

I ordered a bowl with nothing but beef tendon (partly due to my failure in Vietnamese sign language, but no regrets), accompanied by a huge portion of fresh vegetable in which there is no way you can actually finish. The soup was light yet full of flavor from boiling beef bone over long hours. The tendon, melt in your mouth. It was absolutely lovely and not hard to see why this particular shop gets a steady stream of customers despite being rather shabby in appearance and yet charges a slight premium over others.

map to Pho Cao Van at Ho Chi Minh City

If you’re at Ho Chi Minh City, or anywhere else in Vietnam, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of pho, whichever versions it may be.

Address:
Phở Cao Vân
25 Mạc Đĩnh Chi,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS10.784681, 106.699296
Hours: 6 am to 10:30 pm

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Over the last year end holiday season, we spent quite a few days in Ho Chi Minh City, and I thought it’d be a good opportunity to sample the various street foods this biggest city in Vietnam has to offer and do a bit of introduction to you, so here goes.

Bun Bo Hue 31, at District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Bun Bo Hue 31, at District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

This was my 10th time to Ho Chi Minh City, but previous 9 were all due to work and happened more than 9 years ago, I was greeted with a rush of nostalgia, so much of the city has changed, yet so much stayed exactly the same as when I first stepped foot here more than a decade ago.

Thankfully, part of the latter includes what Saigon has to offer when it comes to the rich variety of local cuisine.

Bún bò Huế
Bún bò Huế- spicy beef and vermicelli soup

We start off the introduction with Bún bò Huế. 

While Vietnamese pho gets all the attention, bun bo, in a way, is one that I find more interesting. Originated from Hue, a former capital city of Vietnam situated somewhere in the middle geographically, bun bo has a spicy soup base made from boiled beef shank, chunks of oxtail, and even pig’s knuckles, which gives it a sweeter flavor and a bit more kick.

Like most Vietnamese noodle soup, it also comes with a generous portion of vegetable on the side, including sliced banana blossom, green onion, bean sprout, cilantro, and more. Squeeze a slice of lime, and add some fresh green chili in the soup and you’re good to go. The vermicelli used is also usually the round & thick type, which I think is perfect for this application, simply beautiful and absolutely delicious.

spicy beef and vermicelli soup
spicy beef and vermicelli soup

I had my bowl at Bun Bo Hue 31 near the middle of the city, a shop frequent mostly by the locals with staffs who spoke almost no English. To order, you can simply point to the menu, or use the phone as a translator. Give it a try when you’re in Vietnam.

Bun Bo Hue 31 map

Address:
Bun Bo Hue 31
P. Q.1, 31 Mạc Đĩnh Chi, Đa Kao,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS10.784853, 106.699163
Tel: +84 8 3827 7257
Hours: 6 am to 9 pm

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Many many years ago, before the existence of this website and when I was still a student in the States, we took a super long road trip down to New Orleans for spring break. It was a beautiful city with quite a bit of culture, and it was also the first time I had Louisiana style seafood, with crayfish, shrimps, and those really distinctive sauce.

A few weeks ago, I had the same type of seafood treatment for the second time of my life, right here at PJ SS2’s Crab Factory.

Crab Factory at PJ SS2
Crab Factory at PJ SS2

Crab Factory has been in existence for almost 3 years now, situated just right across the road from McDonald’s in the busy commercial area that is PJ SS2. Parking can sometimes be a challenge at this area, especially on a Monday night when Pasar Malam is in full swing. Which isn’t really a problem since Crab Factory smartly chooses Monday to be their rest day.

menu with price list on the table, and on the wall
menu with price list on the table, and on the wall

The restaurant is tastefully decorated with very practical table arrangment fit for group and couple dining as well. For those who are worried about going out of hands in terms of budgeting for a seafood feast, the prices are well written on the wall, in the menu, as well as their website at crabfactory.com.my

brown crabs in signature southern bang sauce
brown crabs in signature southern bang sauce

The ‘standard operating procedure’ when it comes to a shell-out type of restaurants like this is a little bit different from the conventional seafood restaurants many of us are familiar with. There’s no fork & spoon, chopsticks, or even gloves.

crawfish in zesty lemon, shrimp with garlic butter
crayfish/yabbie in zesty lemon, shrimp with garlic butter

The seafood is poured onto your table that is laced with a giant piece of food grade wax paper. You then use your base hands to feed these delicious sea creatures right into your mouth ala caveman style. Quite a fun experience for most, but you’d want to make sure the nails are clean prior to dinner.

For a restaurant this size, the seafood selection is rather impressive. There are various types of crabs such as brown crab, king crab, spanner crab, and meat crab. Then there’s normal lobster, red lobster, and slipper lobster. You want shrimps? They’ve got tiger prawn, white prawn, freshwater prawn, and amaebi. Then there’s baby octopus and several types of shellfish as well.

brown crab set
brown crab set

If you can’t choose, the easiest way to start is with one of their sets. Such as the crab set we tried. In addition to your choice of crab, the set come with king white prawns, yabbies, hamaguri clams, NZ green mussels, scallop in shells, and baby octopus.

Additionally, there’s also sweet corn, chicken sausage, potatoes, french beans and shallot rice. These are the stuff that will help fill up the stomach a bit if you don’t want to overindulge yourself to way too much seafood (like we did this session)

brown crab set, mussels, and more shrimps
brown crab set, mussels, and more shrimps (spicy plum sauce)

We sampled quite a variety of offerings from Crab Factory. The crabs were really fresh, big, and very juicy. The white shrimps tend to soak up seasoning very well, while baby octopus is perhaps just a tad slightly more cooked than I’d like it to be, but I think they stay quite true to the Louisiana style.

As for the sauces, I found myself enjoying the Signature Southern Bang sauce quite a bit, but my favorite has got to be the with the butter garlic sauce, which I think let you really taste the sweetness of seafood.

good times, and extremely full stomach
good times, and extremely full stomach

Overall it was quite a fun experience, the only problem I had was trying to operate the camera while eating with my bare hands (many trips to the water basin).

If you want to treat yourself some out-of-the-norm seafood feast, this is certainly a worthy option.

Here are several news worthy items you may find useful:

  • Valid till the 15th of January 2017 – Double Trouble- 2 L Crabs for RM120 only (1.2-1.4kg)
  • Seafood sets for 2-3 pax
    1) Meat Crab-M (2pcs) RM175
    2) French Brown Crab (900gm – 1kg)  RM239
    3) King Crab L 900gm – 1kg)  RM299
  • new sauce – Thai Sambal and Spicy Plum
  • Scroll down and you’ll a coupon for 25% off (valid till 31st Jan 2017)

Crab Factory at SS2

Address:
Crab Factory
19, 3rd Floor, Jalan SS2/64,
47300, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.118700, 101.620372
Tel03-7877 6764
Webcrabfactory.com.my

25% off discount seafood set for 2

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Haze always described me as someone who’s bordering insufferable when it comes to dining at shopping malls. It usually takes me quite a bit of merry-go-round trying to evaluate what is worth eating before settling into a restaurant. Luckily, at IOI City Mall, I found just what’s worth spending a meal – at Kakatoo.

Kakatoo at IOI City Mall
Kakatoo at IOI City Mall

The restaurant is tastefully decorated with a modern touch and Baba Nyonya colors, and with a cute logo to boot, it is one of the better looking outfits among the many restaurants on the lower ground of this huge IOI City Mall.

As for menu, they offer a mix of Western & classic Nyonya dishes, I was only interested in the latter.

cencaru with sambal, just like how mom makes them
cencaru with sambal, just like how mom makes them

For the two of us, we went for the classic dishes that defines any Nyonya restaurants – ikan cencaru with sambal, and paku paki sambal belacan.

The fish (RM 29.90 for two) was on point. Fried to perfection and with properly seasoned sambal too. They gave a bit of extra sambal tumis in the middle, but I’d be a happier man if even more was offered.

paku pakis with sambal belacan
paku pakis with sambal belacan

In retrospect, we probably should have ordered some other vegetable dishes that provides a bit of variety in taste, but thankfully the pucuk paku pakis (RM 16.90) did not disappoint. It was spicy, crunchy, fresh, and definitely went well with rice.

KY & Haze at IOI City Mall
KY & Haze at IOI City Mall

The Nyonya dishes experience at Kakatoo was one that worth revisiting, and now if I go to IOI City Mall again, I know where to go for a decent meal I won’t regret.

map to IOI city mall

Address:
Kakatoo
LG-78B & 78C,
IOI City Mall Putrajaya,
62502 IOI Resort City, Putrajaya
Wilayah Perseketuan
GPS: 2.970467, 101.713870
Tel: 03-89538074

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Hello, guess it’s time to share another one of our experimental recipes, this time – fried pumpkin with salted egg yolk.

pumpkin with salted egg, steamed pomfet
pumpkin with salted egg, steamed pomfet

We originally stumbled upon this dish at a restaurant in Klang, and since it was quite an eye, or taste bud opener, I decided to re-create the same thing in our own kitchen. The result was pretty decent. So if you want to try something perhaps a little different at home, this recipe should fit the bill.

pumpkin, curry leave, chili padi, flour, salted egg
pumpkin, curry leave, chili padi, flour, salted egg

Ingredients (2-3 pax):

  • half a small pumpkin
  • 1 salted egg yolk (2 shown is pic, overkill)
  • 4-5 chili padi
  • curry leaves
  • half cup flour
  • dash of salt to taste
  • enough cooking oil for deep frying

deep frying pumpkin is the first step
deep frying pumpkin is the first step

Cooking instructions:

  • cut pumpkin into bite size slices and coat them in flour
  • heat up oil & deep fry pumpkin till golden brown
  • crush salted egg yolk with a spoon
  • heat up 2 spoon of cooking oil and fry egg yolk till fragrant
  • add pumpkin, then curry leaves & chili padi
  • add salt to taste (if need to) – done!

then fry everything with salted egg, done!
then fry everything with salted egg, done!

The version in the picture has a bit too much cooking oil to it, so with a little less oil it should be perfect, happy cooking!