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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

Of the 400 some bak kut teh places in Klang, one of the most unique offerings of them all has got to be Ah Tao Seafood Bak Kut Teh at Teluk Pulai, for this is the very place that the whole idea of having seafood in bak kut teh came into fruition… I think.

Updates 20/2/2017: Ah Tao has passed away and hence the place is temporarily closed until they figure out the way forward

Ah Tao bak kut teh is located at Beng Heong restoran, at the corner
Ah Tao bak kut teh is located at Beng Heong restoran, at the corner

If you’re looking for a sign that says “Ah Tao BKT”, you won’t find it. The stall is located within Restoran Beng Heong, on the same row of shop houses also include the original Teluk Pulai BKT situated in a stone’s throw away. Parking is usually not a very challenging task, but they do sell out by 10am or so on weekends, so getting there early is a must if you want to avoid disappointment.

glorious seafood bak kut teh, proper tea is a must
glorious seafood bak kut teh, proper tea is a must

While they also serve “normal” bak kut teh in clay pots, the unique selling point here is their seafood infused BKT. If you simply go with seafood, they’ll include big prawns, lala, sea cucumber, fish fillet, and perhaps squid together with your choice of pork meat (I usually go for “tua kut” aka big bone, or “kahwan”).

Alternatively, you can also opt for crab, or just lala, just prawn, and so forth. I tend to think anything involving shells work best, such as lala, crab, or prawns.

prawns, fish fillet, and lala are among the extra ingredients
prawns, fish fillet, and lala are among the extra ingredients

To make the herbal soup “compatible” with seafood and partly to avoid unwanted seafood smell, the soup is made spicy with quite a fair chunk of chili padi, so what you have then is a very unique taste of spicy bak kut teh. I love it, it was like BKT on steroid.

KY, Kelly, Haze
KY, Kelly, Haze

I’ve only been to Ah Tao a couple times since, but I figure there’ll be quite a few more future visits.

If you’re from the other side of Klang/Shah Alam or prefer to have this for dinner, Klang Coast at Bukit Tinggi serves a pretty decent version of seafood bak kut teh as well, supposedly manned by the apprentice of Ah Tao.

ah tao seafood bkt map

Address:
Ah Tao Bak Kut Teh
Restoran Beng Heong
Jalan Teluk Pulai,
Taman Teluk Pulai,
Klang, Selangor
GPS3.040397, 101.434065
Tel03-3374 2630
Hours: Breakfast & Brunch

Quite a few moons ago we went to do one of the more touristy things you can do in Selangor – firefly watching at Kuala Selangor.

To be honest, it was my first time doing that, and I had our Singaporean friends Angus & his girlfriend to thank for this experience. Funnily, the attractions closest to us are some that we often never bother to visit.

Firefly watching at Kuala Selangor
Firefly watching at Kuala Selangor

The tour is fairly simple, you arrive at around sunset, pay some RM 30 or so, put on your life jacket and hop on the boat. D’Tour is just one of the many operations that offers similar services.

The boat then take us along Selangor River to the area where the fireflies gather. It was quite a sight to see, the trees by the river were packed with fireflies that seems to blink in sync, like a single colored x’mas tree. Quite neat, and no, we didn’t get too many mosquito bites.

It was quite fun and anyone should at least try this once. The whole journey lasted around an hour or so.

Address:
D Tours Kuala Selangor
No 1. Jalan Bagan Sungai Yu,
Pasir Penambang, 45000 Kuala Selangor
GPS: 3.351486, 101.249347
Tel: 019-263 9123/017-639 5017

Kuang Wah Seafood Restaurant, Kuala Selangor
Kuang Wah Seafood Restaurant, Kuala Selangor

After the tour, it was seafood time, naturally.

This part of Kuala Selangor has quite a few seafood restaurants in operation, and many of them are seemingly packed on every weekends. We hop onto the one right next to D Tour – Kuang Wah Seafood Restaurant.

The set up is a carbon copy of many Malaysian seafood outfits – with plastic tables & chairs, and a wall of aquarium and fiber glass containers full with assortment of live seafood for your picking. The prices are also clearly stated.

deep fried mantis prawn, lala with superior soup, drunken live prawn
deep fried mantis prawn, lala with superior soup, drunken live prawn

For the four of us, we started with deep fried mantis shrimp with chili and salt (RM 30). The meat was firm and rather flavorful, a good start.

Then it was lala in superior soup (RM 15). The soup was more spicy than superior, but does tick the checkbox somewhat.

Drunken prawn came in a clay pot (RM 30), and had some mushroom, green onion, and plenty of ginger strips in a soup base that I can’t stop drinking. It was quite awesome, and you can also definitely tell the freshness of the prawns by how sticky the skin is to the meat.

steamed 7-star garoupa, Sg. friends & Haze
steamed 7-star garoupa, Sg. friends & Haze

Our main dish was the steamed seven-star garoupa fish. We chose the simplest of preparation method to enjoy the natural flavor of the seafood, and it proved to be good decision. The meat was smooth and sweet, with the superior soya sauce complimenting the fish meat perfectly.

receipt at Kuang Wah Seafood RestaurantOverall it was a pretty good dinner, our friends from Singapore certainly did not complain. I’d say that Kuang Wah offers very good value for money as well. The dinner came to be only RM 132 to feed four hungry adults, with each of us having a fresh coconut (RM 4.50 each) as well.

If I was at Kuala Selangor again, I’d certainly not minding coming back to this particular restaurant again.

map to Kuang Wah seafood, Kuala Selangor

Address:
Restoran Kuang Wah
No 1A, Jalan Bagan Sungai Yu,
45000, Pasir Penambang,
Kuala Selangor, Malaysia
GPS3.351753, 101.249370
Tel03-3289 6719

I’ve read somewhere that there are over 400 bak kut teh restaurants just in Klang alone, so looks like there’re more work to be done in sampling as many of these comfort pork dishes as I can, while I can!

Just a week ago, we went over to Jalan Teluk Pulai and ended up at the original Restoran Telok Pulai Bak Kut Teh for a pretty satisfying brunch.

Original Teluk Pulai Bak Kut Teh shop, at Jalan Teluk Pulai of course
Original Teluk Pulai Bak Kut Teh shop, at Jalan Teluk Pulai of course

For the uninitiated, Teluk Pulai BKT shop at Taman Intan (blog post from 10 years ago), the commercial area right after Federal Highway Sungai Rasau toll with the big Maybank building, is perhaps one of the most famous bak kut teh restaurants in Klang.

For many who aren’t from Klang, my younger self included, the first taste of proper “Klang BKT” often equate to this particular brand, so I thought the original shop is worth a visit.

a bowl of clay pot bak kut teh = comfort
a bowl of clay pot bak kut teh = comfort

Teluk Pulai BKT is located at the middle of the row of shop lots that’s flanked by two other BKT shops at each end. Seating is a combination of indoor & semi-outdoor arrangement, and like most BKT establishments in Klang, there’s plenty of kettles with hot boiling water for tea making purposes stationed within.

For the two of us, we ordered a 1.5 portion (yes you don’t have to go full 2 portion) of clay pot BKT with kahwan (near leg joints), small intestine, and pork stomach. There’s also dry version if you’re into that.

don't waste those BKT soup!
don’t waste those BKT soup!

To be honest, it tastes pretty much exactly like the branch at Taman Intan, the soup base has a pretty decent herbal tone and well balanced, with the meat soft and the fat very tender. I thought the small intestine was very well done as well, stuffed within itself multiple folds. There’s also tofu pok, button mushroom, and a bit of green presence in the clay pot, that’s the beauty of Klang BKT isn’t it? Plenty of different presentations and choice of ingredients.

For condiments, you get garlic, chili padi, and as much fried shallots as you want to pour over the oily rice, which made for a pretty satisfying brunch overall.

They’re also very generous in giving customers more soup to top up the clay pot, so if you’re those who love slurping down that delicious herbal nectar, this would not disappoint.

teluk-pulai-bkt-map

Address:
Teluk Pulai Bak Kut Teh
Jalan Teluk Pulai,
Taman Teluk Pulai,
Klang, Selangor
GPS3.040302, 101.434625