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When it comes to food in Ipoh, the most famous of them all has got to be chicken rice with bean sprout, and for those who love this dish, there’s no other place that is more popular than Restoran Tauge Ayam Ong Kee right in the heart of Ipoh town, which was where we stopped by for lunch on New Year’s day.

Ong Kee Ipoh Chicken Rice
Ong Kee Ipoh Chicken Rice

If you get to Ong Kee on weekends of during public holidays, getting there in itself can sometimes be a problem, and parking too can be quite a challenge. After all those, you may still end up spending a bit of time waiting for a vacant table. Though thankfully, food usually doesn’t take too long to be served, so there’s that.

innards, bean sprouts, poached chicken
innards, bean sprouts, poached chicken

The menu choices are simple, there’s poached chicken, innards, bean sprouts, and there’s also pork balls should you want to indulge yourself in some non-avian meat.

Most popular eateries get the “used to be better” and “overrated” labels quite a bit, but honestly speaking I do find Ong Kee’s chicken right on par with expectations. They are tender, not overly complex, and soak in properly balanced cocktail of soya sauce. The bean sprouts too is of rather good quality, as with most bean sprouts from Ipoh, probably due to the water quality.

the amount of chicken they sell each day is astounding
the amount of chicken they sell each day is astounding

Overall, lunch proved to be quite a satisfying affair, and at RM 36 including drinks, it was quite an affordable option as well. Happy eating!

map to Ong Kee chicken rice, Ipoh

Address:
Ong Kee Tauge Chicken Rice
48,51 & 53, Jalan Yau Tet Shin,
Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh, Perak
GPS:  4.593838, 101.083929
Tel:  05-253 1562

Thai food is probably the most matured international cuisine in Malaysia, we now get most everything Thailand has to offer, thanks to our proximity to the nation of origin, as well as our generally rather similar taste buds.

If you’re not far from Setia Alam area and love a good meal of non-halal Thai food, then perhaps Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant should be on your short list.

Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant at Setia Alam
Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant at Setia Alam

Located in the middle of the busy commercial area within Setia Alam, Thai Syok takes up a couple units of shop lots. The place gets quite busy over on weekday lunch hours and especially so during weekend dinner sessions. If you get there later than 7 or so, expect to wait for a table, or perhaps even get seated outside ala mamak style. I guess you can also call it alfresco dining to be more classy.

dinner is best served in varying colors
dinner is best served in colors – lemon steamd fish, prawn in coconut milk

I’ve so far tried quite a few dishes over two different dinner sessions at Thai Syok, with rather favorable experience overall.

The tomyam (RM 15.90 – RM 39.20) is served in the old school hotpot, properly seasoned, and carries quite a kick. The small portion should suffice for up to 4 pax or so.

Their lemon steam fish (siakap RM 44.50 – RM 59.30) is a great substitution if you don’t want to go with tomyam, The fish is fresh, and you get the soup base that’s properly sour, spicy, and very appetizing. Just thinking of this soup makes my saliva going.

If you are into spicy lemak food, prawn in coconut milk (RM 40) should fit the bill. This dish is rich, spicy, and flavorful.

raw prawn salad, moo ping (pork skewer), classic tomyam
raw prawn salad, moo ping (pork skewer), classic tomyam

Think raw seafood is only associated with sushi/sashimi? Then you gotta give the raw prawn salad a go (RM 22.20). Over here they serve it with a slice of bitter gourd, which I think accentuate the sweetness of the prawn quite well. My first time having this particular dish was at Kepong’s Thai Village, and subsequently at Khun Thai, Klang. I’ve been ordering this dish whenever available these days.

The moo ping (grilled pork satey, RM 12 for 3) is Yuki’s favorite, and nobody rejects the order either as we all enjoyed it as well, but I would also like to try out some of their other yakitori dishes next time (such as prawn, basil pork, orchicken wings).

red ruby has got to be my favorite Thai dessert
red ruby has got to be my favorite Thai dessert

Perhaps due to the amount of crowd or their extensive menu, my experience was that we always had to wait for quite a bit before dessert is served. That being said, their red ruby (RM 6.90) is on point.

I’m quite sure this is a restaurant that’ll repeating business from us for time to come.

thai syok seafood restaurant map at Setia Alam

Address:
Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant
No. 7-1-2, Ground Floor,
Jalan Setia Prima H U13/H,
Setia Alam,
40170 Shah Alam, Selangor
GPS: 3.096934, 101.445174
Tel03-3359 6283
Hours
11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:45–10:30PM

Next on Vietnamese Street food introduction is Chao Vit, or Vietnamese duck porridge. A classic dish that I had for the very first time during this trip to Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnamese Duck Porridge stall by Chu Manh Trinh road
Vietnamese Duck Porridge stall by Chu Manh Trinh road 

We actually stumbled  upon this little road side stalls by Chu Manh Trinh road in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City while walking from the touristy areas towards our Airbnb room slightly further North East. The stall was well stocked with plenty of duck, and with a crowd seated around it enjoying porridge & slices of duck meat.

We just couldn’t miss the opportunity.

the porridge also comes with coagulated blood
the porridge also comes with coagulated blood

We ordered a portion of duck for two person to go with porridge, as well as a portion of innards. This was done with a combination of Google translate via the phone, and a bit of finger pointing to the other tables. Technology sure helps in making all these authentic food so much more accessible to those who can’t speak the language, we were the only non-natives at the stall.

simple eat by the road side - chao vit
simple eat by the road side – chao vit

Chao Vit is excellent, the boiled duck meat is served with green onions, cilantro, pepper, fish sauce and more. The condiment that goes with it compliment the meat perfectly, and can be made spicy if that’s your preference. As for the porridge, they’re made from broken rice and  even comes with chunks of coagulated blood, one of my favorite ingredients!

It was really one of the best dishes we had in Saigon, if you’re ever at District 1 and don’t mind dining with the locals, this is a place that you need to check out.

safe to say we both loved this dish a lot
safe to say we both loved this dish a lot

The meal cost us just over 100,000 VND if I’m not mistaken, totally worth it.

chao vit stall at Ho Chi Minh City

Address:
Chao Vit road side stall
Chu Mạnh Trinh
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.782813, 106.703568

You can just about find a street food vendor near every busy intersections in Ho Chi Minh City, the set up varies, but more often than not they have these tiny tables and chairs seemingly set up for kids of kindergarten age. If you’re Vietnamese size, these will fit just, and fortunately for myself and Haze, our body size is within range.

street side food vendor outside Ben Thanh market
street side food vendor outside Ben Thanh market

Ben Thanh market is one of those “must-visit” places in Ho Chi Minh City, especially if you feel like getting slaughtered buying touristy or otherwise imitation goods. We went there only because it was almost a decade since I got my fake Nike jerseys there, plus we had rented a scooter so it was rather convenient to do so.

you want spicy? we've got spicy!
you want spicy? we’ve got spicy!

Anyway, there is this little bot chien & ha cao stall situated right outside the market manned by a middle aged lady with a frying pan and a metal small pot on clay stove. Street food is best sampled with the locals, so we made this our spot for afternoon in-between meal snacks.

Bột chiên - fried rice cake
bột chiên – fried rice cake

Bot Chien is the Vietnamese version of fried rice cake (25000 VND). While the base ingredient is similar to our “char kuih kak“, the execution is vastly different. The rice cake is fried together with egg in generous amount of oil, with the surface area all crispy while retaining the inner bits soft.

Soya sauce is then poured over and then topped with shredded green papaya and chopped green onions. If you like it spicy, there’s also chili sauce & sambal that can be added to the whole mix.

This dish was actually pretty good, the various ingredients complement each other well, and best consumed while the rice cakes are still crispy even though soaked in soya sauce. The green papaya also serve to cut through the greasiness of the dish as well, I’d recommend anyone to give this a try.

há cảo - shrimp dumpling
há cảo – shrimp dumpling

Ha Cao, as you may suspect, is the dish of the same name in Cantonese –  shrimp dumplings (25000 VND). You get the shredded greens as well as the sambal, soya sauce and fried shallots ala Vietnamese style, but otherwise they aren’t overly different from the Chinese version. It was still enjoyable, but if I had to choose between the two, bot chien would be my choice.

map to ben thanh market, Saigon

Happy food hunting!

Address:
Phan Bội Châu
Ben Thanh
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.772582, 106.698676

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