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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

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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
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.

At Tsubohachi Izakaya today for dinner. They're running "Fukubiki" contest the whole of July with grand prize being a pair of flight tickets to Osaka! Total price worth up to RM 15,000. For non promotional items RM120 gets you 1 spin, RM350 3 spins, and RM700 8 spins! . #kyeats #byinvitation #tsubohachi #publika

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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)
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
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
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.

ankake kani chahan, kani zosui, zuwaigani masu-zushi
ankake kani chahan, kani zosui, zuwaigani masu-zushi

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
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
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!

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Tsubohachi Hokkaido Izakaya
A2-UG1-9, Publika

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.170961, 101.665721
Tel: 03-6206 5526
Website: www.tsubohachi.com.my

Back in Penang where I grew up as a kid, my family was pretty fond of fish heads. Our ingredient of choice is almost always a big garoupa head, and mom always prepare it with Nyonya style curry. This was actually the only way I knew how to enjoy fish head, that is until I came to KL and heard about steamed fish head.

Mun Kee Steamed Fish at Happy Garden
Mun Kee Steamed Fish at Happy Garden

After trying the pretty awesome version at Chong Yen steamed fish head at Chan Sow Lin, we’re going to take a look at Mun Kee Steamed Fish Head at Happy Garden.

According to Kerol, this is one of her aunt’s favorite place for dinner. There’s something like one in three chance that they dine at this place whenever she pays the family a visit.

these are the dishes we ordered for the five of us
these are the dishes we ordered for the five of us

Mun Kee is located at the appropriately named Jalan Lazat 1 (that’ll be Tasty Street 1 in English). The shop is sort of a food court set up with high roof but no walls, you’re sheltered from the elements somewhat, but there isn’t air conditioning any decoration to speak off. People are here strictly to eat.

The eatery gets pretty busy on weekends, so expect to wait a bit for an empty table. However, food doesn’t take overly long to get ready, so overall wait time is pretty bearable.

steamed fish head in two different styles
steamed fish head in two different styles

As with most steamed fish head in KL, the main ingredient is Soong fish, or Asian Carp. Calling it fish head is a bit of a lie, cos you do get almost half front portion of the fish instead of just the fish head as the Penangites do with our fish head curry.

At Mun Kee, there are 5 different preparation methods – Nyonya Steam, Assam Steam, Minced Ginger Steam, Black Bean Steam and Original Steam.

We’ve heard good things about the Nyonya steam but unfortunately they ran out of that when we were there, so we chose minced ginger steam and original steam for this session (RM 26 per dish).

The fish head were delightful, never over cooked and there wasn’t any trace of those pesky slight muddy taste that river fish tends to carry. The original steam is great for those who likes it a bit spicy with plenty of chili padi sprinkled on top, while the minced ginger steam provides the warmth from ginger that I find myself enjoy as well.

tofu is quite awesome, emporer vegetable, salted egg chicken
tofu is quite awesome, ‘green dragon’ vegetable, salted egg chicken

At Mun Kee, they aren’t only good with steamed fish.

Salted egg chicken (RM 24) is one of the must-order items. Imagine salted egg squid (like the one at Sing Kee Sungai Way) and KFC rolled into one. It’s a combination that works surprisingly well and we really liked it.

Home made tofu (RM 12) that we ordered came with crab meat and egg based broth that made excellent comfort food, and the green dragon vegetable (RM 12) dish provided good source of vitamin C and fiber just in case your mom asked. All in all a great combination of dishes for dinner.

Kerol, Huey Fang, Johnny, Haze, and KY
Kerol, Huey Fang, Johnny, Haze, and KY

With drinks, we spent about RM 23-24 per person for this wonderful, well-balanced dinner. Head over to Happy Garden to check Mun Kee out.

map to Mun Kee steamed fish head at Happy Garden

Address:
Mun Kee Steam Fish Head
New Happy Garden Food Court
43-A Gerai. Jalan Lazat 1
Taman Gembira
58200 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.077106, 101.680289
Tel: 016-491 2632
Operation Hours: 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm

Thai cuisine is one of the most well established foreign food in Malaysia, this is probably due to Thailand being a neighbour to Peninsular Malaysia and that King Rama V was really great at promoting his country’s cuisine to the world.

The Thai cuisine we have here in Malaysia is usually influenced from Southern Thailand, with places such as Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani, and so forth has a sizable Muslim population, what we get here too is often the pork free version of Thai food.

Surisit Thai Kopitiam at TTDI
Surisit Thai Kopitiam at TTDI

There is however, a current welcoming trend of some newer Thai restaurants that serve the whole range of traditional Thai cuisines, including some of the pork dishes that aren’t familiar in Chinese cuisine. Surisit Thai Kopitiam at TTDI is one of these places.

kailan ikan masin, various pork dishes, tomyam
kailan ikan masin, various pork dishes, tomyam

Surisit Thai Kopitiam is located at TTDI’s Lorong Rahim Kajai 13, behind the row of shops that has a Maybank, Tom Dick and Harry’s/Hoofed, and Sid’s Pub.

While parking situation outside those pubs are often hard to come by, I’m happy it isn’t the case outside Surisit. We never had to park further than 20-30 meters away.

Decoration of the restaurant is basic, but they do have air conditioning for your comfort. Tables are covered in thick transparent plastic, with clean basic cutlery and some old school bowls/plates. It is pretty true to the “kopitiam” name.

Horng enjoying some fried fish cake, green curry (pork/chicken)
Horng enjoying some fried fish cake, green curry (pork/chicken)

We’ve been to Surisit quite a few times for dinner. The only “problem” with this place is the lack of flexibility in their portion of food. There’s only one size for everything. Which basically means that for a group of 4-6 person this place is awesome, but going there as a couple might limit your choices of food somewhat.

The tomyam (RM 29.90) comes with either prawn, seafood or chicken and you get to pick between clear soup or the more familiar type with chili paste. Both are equally yummy and absolutely ass cracking spicy. Never miss the tomyam here.

you deserve desserts! tub tim krub (red ruby) and mango sticky rice
you deserve desserts! tub tim krub (red ruby) and mango sticky rice

Deep fried chicken wings with lemongrass (RM 14.90) is a tasty Thai interpretation of the familiar fried chicken wing dish, familiar yet different. Green curry (RM 19.90) comes with your choice of pork/chicken/beef/prawns/duck and they cook it with chunks of melons as well as basil, green chili, and coconut milk. Thick and flavorful, we love it.

Crispy pork knuckle (RM 24.90), pork with shrimp paste (RM 16.90), minced pork with basil (RM 14.90) are among the few pork dishes I’ve tried, and so far they were spot on and did not disappoint. Other dishes in the rather extensive menu includes chicken, seafood, soup, and even vegetarian choices. There are also individual rice and noodle dishes as well.

Kerol, KY, Haze, Johnny, Yuki
Kerol, KY, Haze, Johnny, Yuki

Of course, every Thai meal should end with some sweet desserts. I almost always order the tap tim krub (red ruby, RM 6.90) here while Yuki can’t stop herself from getting the mango sticky rice (RM 9.90). Other dessert choices are honey sea coconut with palm fruit and caramelized tapioca with coconut milk (RM 6.90).

We usually end up spending around RM 30 per person, and while not exactly kopitiam prices, you do get quality tasty food here, which is why it is one of our favorite Thai restaurants right now.

Other Thai restaurants that serve pork includes New Yew SangI’m Spicy and My Elephant in PJ, and Ghee Seng Thai Food in Penang.

map to Surisit Thai Kopitiam at Taman Tun

Address:
Surisit Thai Kopitiam
17 Lorong Rahim Kajai 13,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.15456, 101.62258
Tel03-7710 0173
Hours: 8 am to 10:30 pm daily

Surisit Thai Kopitiam

When I first heard about My Elephant sometimes last year (or 2 years ago?), I’ve been telling myself to pay a visit. But for some reasons that did not happen until just a couple weeks ago, and boy I wished I had done it way earlier. This place really lives up to all the hype circulating online.

My Elephant Thai restaurant at PJ Seksyen 17
My Elephant Thai restaurant at PJ Seksyen 17

My Elephant is situated at Happy Mansion, on the ground floor of the first of three really old school apartment blocks. The restaurant really does not fit in to the area, but that only adds to its charm. This is just a block from Food Foundary, a place that serves really good mille crepe.

We went at on a Wednesday night, and even then the place was packed with diners. A good sign, the three of us were seated, and then we made our orders. The restaurant is air conditioned, comfortable, and decorated with little ornaments and drawings that looks to be from Chatuchak, but not in a good way.

fish cake, seafood tomyam, brown rice, deep fried chicken
fish cake, seafood tomyam, brown rice, deep fried chicken

We ordered 5 dishes, and had brown rice to go with. I usually dislike brown rice (RM 3/pax), but over here they are rather fragrant and adds to the overall flavor when eaten with the other dishes.

The fish cake (RM 8) was slightly salty and not hiding any Thai “flavors”, a good dish to start.

When in a Thai restaurant, a must-order is usually the tomyam, and over here they serve up a pretty mean bowl. While not overly spicy, the seafood tomyam (RM 20) we was packed with mushroom, prawns, squid and more.

The deep fried chicken (RM 15) is my favorite dish of the evening. They were cut in small chunks with plenty of crispy skin accompanying each piece, and together with strong marinate and curry leaves, man, you have to really try it to realize that deep fried chicken can be this good. I like this more than KFC, and that is saying a lot, I love my KFC.

paku pakis, gai tod gratiam prik thai duck salad
paku pakis, gai tod gratiam prik thai duck salad

The vegetable dish I ordered was paku pakis (fern, RM 15). I first tried fern at Lala Chong with cheesie and instantly loved it. The version here is even better, *yums*

Our last dish was Thai duck salad (gai tod gratiam prik, RM 15). A pretty typical Thai style salad that is sour, spicy, and work your tongue to its limit. We liked it too.

map to My Elephant at Seksyen 17

If you love Thai food and haven’t tried My Elephant yet, pay a visit. For weekends it is advisable to call for booking though.

Remember, consumption of awesome Thai food will leave you wanting more 2 days later, when you feel them coming out. 😛

Address:
Block C-G4, Happy Mansion,
Jalan 17/13, Seksyen 17,
46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.122486, 101.634747
Tel: 0 10-220 1283


One of my favorite dishes out of mom’s kitchen is undoubtedly the tau eu bak, or braised pork belly with soya sauce. While I’m not sure of it’s origin, this dish seems to be quite common among Hokkien/Nyonya people from Penang, Melaka, and even Singapore.

the finished product - tau eu bak (braised pork belly with soya sauce)
the finished product – tau eu bak (braised pork belly with soya sauce)

Before having a proper kitchen, I usually get my fix for tau eu bak at Champs, Centrepoint (and they do cook up a fine dish). However, it is RM 20+ a pop and I thought wouldn’t it be nice to give it a try ourselves.

This is actually the dish that prompted us buy pastle and mortar and made the sambal belacan.

the ingredients for a bowl of proper tau eu bak
the ingredients for a bowl of proper tau eu bak

Surprisingly, tau eu bak isn’t really hard to cook at all. Everything you need can easily be obtained at any wet market (or properly stocked grocery store) for less than RM20, and the resulting bowl of goodness can feed 3-4 people.

The ingredients:

  • 10 cloves of garlic, don’t need to peel
  • a couple cinnamon sticks
  • 8-10 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon of rock sugar
  • a teaspoon of 5 spice powder
  • 3 table spoon of dark soya sauce
  • 4-6 dried mushroom
  • 5-600 grams of pork belly
  • 2-3 eggs

mushroom, pork, dark soya sauce, the essentials
mushroom, pork, dark soya sauce, the essentials

The steps:

  • soak dried mushroom with warm water till soft, remove stems
  • pan fried pork belly in medium heat till slightly brown, oil is not needed
  • add dark soya sauce on each side and fry a bit more
  • add about 2 cups of water, and throw in all the spices and mushroom
  • keep cooking until the sauce becomes thicken, this takes another 20 minutes or so
  • taste the sauce and add more sugar/dark soya sauce, or even salt to taste
  • add hard (or 80% boiled egg) in the last couple minutes
  • cut pork belly into bite size just before serving

To prepare the eggs

  • bring the water to boil with eggs in it, and keep on boiling for 2 minutes
  • stop the heat and leave eggs in hot water for 7 minutes to get 80% hard, or 10 minutes if you want it all the way 100%

Johnny & Haze, Johnny really liked the dish, despite his facial expression here
Johnny & Haze, Johnny really liked the dish, despite his facial expression here

There it is, pretty straight forward recipe isn’t it? It was lucky that Johnny joined us for dinner that night as the dish was really too much for just two of us. We had it with plenty of sambal belacan, was a pretty fine dinner, I think mom would be proud 😀