I’ve always had problems with parking and navigating within Publika. The place has the most confusing lettering/numbering system for floors. There are numerous different “ground levels”, and some parking lots aren’t connected to each other the way a logically sound person may expect.
That being said, the place is also packed with huge amount of restaurants offering various different dining concepts, and often in relatively affordable price range due to the immense competition. Today, we’re going to look at Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya. One of the Japanese restaurants that is undoubtedly among one of my favorites in the area.
Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya, Publika
Izakaya is basically an informal Japanese gastropub, a place caters for after-work drinking and dining session not entirely unlike many of the Western pubs/bars, but one that obviously serves Japanese cuisine.
Tsubohachi is a renowned chain with over 300 outlets in Japan since its inception 40 years ago at Hokkaido, and currently is one of the two izakaya outlets in Publika, the other being Senya Izakaya owned by the Sushi Train group.
Our first time visiting Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya was with Cheesie sampling their normal menu, but this time around we were invited to try their special Zuwaigani (snow crab) menu. How could I say no?
zuwaigani nabe (snow crab hotpot)
The snow crab menu is available till late July, but do call up to make sure its availability. Then again, the usual menu is quite extensive and certainly worthy of a visit or three.
Our session started with zuwagani nabe, or snow crab hot pot (RM 79.90). Basically half a raw snow crab (male, female would have too little meat) with fresh vegetable, tofu, and mushroom in a hot pot. Certainly a luxury comfort dish that is perfect especially on a rainy day, or any day for that matter.
The crab made the soup oh so sweet, it was as good as I had hoped.
aburi zuwaigani, kani chawanmushi
For those who likes it grilled, aburi zuwaigani (RM 58) should satisfy your cravings. A no-nonsense and unadultered way of enjoying snow crab with maybe just a little squeeze of lemon. Snow crab has a much softer shell than our Malaysian mud crabs, so getting a “perfect” peel is an easier job.
Kani chawanmushi (RM 12.90) too is worth trying if you just want to lux up the ordinary Japanese steamed egg with some snow crab meat.
zuwaigani sarada, aburi zuwaigani hakozushi
Want more greens? Try zuwaigani sarada, or snow crab salad (RM 22.90), though all those mayonnaise may discount the perceived healthiness of this salad dish, but those savory taste combined with sweetness of snow crab makes it worth the extra calories.
Aburi zuwaigani hakozushi (RM 35.00) is another dish we tried that incorporate liberal use of those savory Japanese mayo. The pressed sushi was certainly delicious, though I always find mayo & wasabi sort of clashes a bit with each other.
Rice or porridge? Take your pick in ankake kani chahan (RM 22.90), or kani zosui (RM 29.90). Neither should disappoint as they were both expertly prepared and show cases the sweetness of snow crab through the simplicity of the dishes. I can have either of these for lunch and be a happy man.
If you like things in small packages, try the zuwaigani masu-zushi (RM 21.90). A tiny box of sushi rice with generous amount of snow crab meat on top. Just enough to taste, but unless you have had stomach stapling surgery, this can’t be your only dish for the night.
a selection of yakitori, chicken, pork, mushroom
All the trying pretty much all the snow crab dishes sans tempura & sushi, we got greedy and decided to sample some of their signature yakitori dishes.
We tried chicken skin, bishop’s nose, chicken soft bone, chicken neck, pork belly, and mushroom. They came in both salted or in teriyaki, and I wished I had enough stomach space left to order a beer to go with these. Yakitori dishes are priced mostly at RM 7.80 to 9.80 for two sticks, pretty decent deal if you asked me.
Johnny, KY, Kelvin, Haze, macha de roru
Our final dish of the night was macha de roru as dessert, a sweet ending to a satisfying review session. I certainly don’t mind coming back here again, good food, great value, and without fuss, there should be more izakaya around town!
After the interesting grilled frog at my favorite foreign city, I headed to a Vietnamese seafood restaurant for dinner the following night. At the heart of the city, the Hong Hai (pronounced as 红海, or red sea, in Mandarin) restaurant is not particularly lavish nor it is very eye catching. However, judging by the crowd of locals congregating at this place, it must offer some pretty good and authentic seafood.
fresh fish, shrimps, and various types of clam
The restaurant was quite packed, but luckily we managed to secure a table at the balcony on the second level. My friend made the order as I would have no idea how to go about reading the 100% Vietnamese menu, with no translation nor any pictures. I doubt any of the servers speak English either.
three types of clam, including cockle (blood clam)
The first four dishes that came consists of the various types of clam. The boiled cockles (I think) were very delicious, and goes extremely well with the fried garlic (including skin) and vegetable garnish. The fresh and somewhat bloody cockles with the slightly salty but strong tasting garlic was just perfect. A salt + dried pepper + dried plum + lime dipping sauce accompany the dishes.
We also had a grilled clam and a plum sauce clam dishes. While the grilled clam is best enjoyed with the dipping, the plum sauce actually goes well with some bread. Pretty interesting contrasting taste among these three dishes, the bloody cockles, the dry grilled clam, and the sourish plum sauce clam.
oyster with cheese, and a great tasting hot pot with eel
Next in line were the two huge oyster with cheese. Though this dish isn’t something that is unique to this part of the world, the oyster served were the size of my palm. Needless to say, you can guess if I enjoyed it from the photo above.
Other than all the shell fish dishes, we ordered a hot pot with eel. As with most Vietnamese dishes, the pot came with a huge serving of vegetable consisting spring onion, bean sprout, okra, and interestingly, shredded banana flower, all arranged in a neat and pretty presentation. The soup tasted a little spicy and salty, but compliment the vermicelli noodle and the fresh vegetables. It was a very good dinner.
Pham Ngoc Thach road is located at the heart of Ho Chi Minh City
Hong Hai is located at the heart of the city, not more than US $2 taxi ride away from any major hotels in District 1. The dinner itself was somewhere around RM 50-60, value for money indeed.
Updated 22/10/2010: moved to 236 Pasteur, district 3, HCMC
Address: 54, Pham Ngoc Thach,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam Tel:8.292977, 0908-103547
Sort of like the laksa of Penang, anyone who goes to Melaka should not miss the uniquely Melaka delicacy, the satay celup (celup: dip). It is basically a type of steamboat on with the raw food on the stick to be cooked in a boiling spicy peanut sauce that is similar to those that comes with normal satay. Other than the different medium for cooking the raw food on stick, it is identical to the more recognizable lok lok.
this stuff are absolutely mouth watering
For supper during our Melaka trip, we headed to Ban Lee Siang to fill our stomach with this uniquely Melaccan food. Now some of you may suggest that Capitol Satay Celup is the “better” place to go. In a way, while Capitol is one of the “original” and oldest place serving satay celup, there are simply way over-crowded (with people standing right next to your table waiting for you to get done) for anyone to enjoy a peaceful meal there without rushing. My baba friends from Melaka hence suggested this place, which is just as good.
only 50 sen per stick, pay what you eat
The place was quite packed as well, we managed to get 2 tables right next to each other to fit all 10 of us. We then head straight to the line to get our stuff. At this place, everything is priced at RM 0.50 per stick, no matter if it is prawn, vegetable, fish ball, quail’s egg, cockles, anything. You only pay for what you eat. You can also order some bread too.
some happy diners (notice Kim, on the left, stained her shirt)
Serving is simple, you just put the stick of raw food in the boiling satay sauce/soup, let it cook, and then put it to your mouth. The stuff packs a punch though, in terms of hotness, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who can’t have spicy food. But if you like spicy food and enjoys lok lok, this is an awesome combination.
the map of Ban Lee Siang satay celup at Jalan Ong Kim Wee
After crowning herself with 38 sticks of satay in the afternoon, Kim got the better of us again and devoured almost 30 sticks of satay celup. I only had 2/3 of what she managed, respect.
If you head down to Melaka, do not miss this dish.
Address: 45E, Jalan Ong Kim Wee,
Melaka GPS: 2.202742, 102.243994 Tel:606-284 1935
Itchy for steamboat again, the gang and I decided to try the “original” pulau ketam steamboat at SS15, Subang Jaya. The name of the restaurant is Bee Ho (美好海鲜火锅之家). This is of course, the same style as offered at the Patrick Teoh’s Damansara Village steamboat.
the chili paste is awesome!
Unlike the grand set up at uncle Teoh’s outlet, Bee Ho is just a big old school kopitiam. Meaning the tables near the sidewalk are much preferred as those situated deeper in the restaurant can be a little hot and humid with all the steamboat boiling on every table.
the steamboat, the crab meehun, and the two noobs.
For the 8 of us, we ordered 5 portion of standard steamboat meal, a plate of fish fillet (actually wanted to have the fish cubes but they ran out), string mushroom, extra meat roll, dumplings, and a big plate of absolutely must-order crab meehun.
The joy of having steamboat with plenty of people is that you have more choices ordering the side orders and not have to only settle for the standard steamboat meal.
the sloppy diner!
We boiled the soup with plenty of ingredients at least 4-5 times over. The ingredients were fresh and pretty good, the soup with good herbal taste, and the chili paste was really awesome. I think I had at least 3 small plates of those spicy stuff. Above all, the crab meehun was really something special, the aroma of crab soaked into the meehun, making it tastes unique of the crustacean’s sweetness, this is something that everyone MUST TRY at Bee Ho.
Bee Ho steamboat is at SS15, near the college areas.
The dinner only came to RM 17.50 per person that night. We had Chinese tea as drinks.
Address: Bee Ho Steamboat Restaurant
no. 52 Ground Floor,
Subang Jaya 47500
Selangor GPS:3.076773, 101.587862 Tel: 012-250 7177
Steamboat is best enjoyed with a group of friends, so I gathered the usual suspects last weekend and eight of us went to the relatively new Damansara Village Steamboat opposite ProJET gas station near Atria at Damansara Jaya.
very nice set up and excellent ambiance
This place is more than just a simple restaurant, there’s a little pool for kids to catch guppies (longkang fish) from, some furry animals, Iguana, and a giant tortoise on one side, a miniature vegetable farm, and even a guy twisting balloons for free. At least this local restaurant is catching up to McDonald’s concept of making the kids happy first.
As for the restaurant itself, there are indoor and outdoor areas, with everything set up in an open concept. No need for air conditioning when you have high ceiling, no wall, and plenty of fans. The tables are not arranged too close together either, very spacious and comfortable.
the standard steamboat set
For the eight of us, we ordered five portion of the standard steamboat set (assorted fish balls, prawns, mussels, eggs, bamboo clams, noodle, and vegetables). To complete the meal and add some variety, we also asked for 300gm of live tiger prawn (still jumping on the plates!), straw mushroom, 1kg of giant clam, and a pretty good size batfish that looks and tastes pretty much like pomphret.
the extras: tiger prawns, clams, fish, straw mushroom
As this is a Pulau Ketam style steamboat, we go for the traditional clear soup with some herbal ingredients. The sambal provided at this place was pretty good too.
We started out boiling the soup with some seafood, fish balls, and noodle for the first round. Finished everything in less than a few minutes; and proceed with the second round of giant clams and others; then it was the fish; and after that the live prawns; with the final round of more noodles and egg. The soup got better and better as the essence of seafood ingredients got sucked into it. It was a very fulfilling meal, fresh ingredients with very good soup. The food went well with the fresh coconut juice and a bottle of toddy we ordered.
the happy diners
The dinner came to slightly less than RM 30 per person. I would consider that a very good value for the ambiance and great food we had. A place worth visiting again.
less than 2 kilometers from Kelana Jaya LRT station