Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / laksa

Earlier this month on the 1st of September 2015, Malaysian Airlines officially welcomed the start of its new company Malaysia Airlines Berhad. As with many of you, my first ever flying experience was with our national carrier, with what has happened in the past 18 months or so, I personally felt that this is a significant step to the right direction for the company to once again proudly graze the Malaysian skyline.

Flying with Malaysia Airlines Berhad on the first day of business
Flying with Malaysia Airlines Berhad on the first day of business

Together with a few other writers, I was invited to take a short day trip with the new MAB to Penang.

To be honest, last I flew back to Penang was almost two decades ago when I took a flight (and was upgraded to business class, my first business class experience!) back to my hometown, down with dengue.

To commemorate the occasion, the customers on this particular flight was given a cute little pilot bear.

Malaysian Airlines Berhad CEO Christoph Mueller on Sept 1st, 2015
Malaysian Airlines Berhad CEO Christoph Mueller on Sept 1st, 2015

The CEO of Malaysian Airlines Berhad, Christoph Mueller, was on location to make sure everything runs smoothly, and to salute the aircraft before we take off, it was a proper sent off, albeit only to a location 45 mins away.

breakfast at 1977 kopitiam, Paya Terubong, Penang
breakfast at 1997 kopitiam, Paya Terubong, Penang

Upon touch down in the Pearl of the Orient, we first took care of the most important business – breakfast!

We headed to Paya Terubong and jumped right into 1997 kopitiam. The restaurant is named after the year in which it was established. To be fair, I’ve never been here (as I left Penang in 1996 for college).

The loh mee I ordered turned out to be more than satisfying, I particularly love the super spicy sambal. and of course the availability of those soft & smooth pork skin didn’t hurt at all. The char kuih teow we shared was pretty decent, and kuih teow soup received positive remarks too. It was a pretty good start of the day.

heading up to Penang Hill
heading up to Penang Hill

After breakfast, we went up to the highest peak of the island – Penang Hill.

There are two ways to head up to the hill – by the new & improved cable car from Ayer Itam, or use the Number 11 bus (your 2 legs) and walk your way up from the road next to Botanical Garden. Of course, we chose the easy way up.

Not to be outdone by Paris’ love locks, Penang Hill has our very own section of the same thing too, I found it pretty cute. If you didn’t bring your own locks, they’ve got a stall manned with traders who are quite eager to sell you a few models of locks, rather enterprising.

the old cannon's still there, but the cable car is now much faster
the old cannon’s still there, but the cable car is now much faster

I walked up to the highest peak and made sure to take a photo next to the cannon, reminiscing a similar picture taken at the same spot when I went up there with classmates at the age of 10 or so, time flies man.

Oh, make sure you take the lowest car on the way down, the faster speed makes for quite a pretty thrilling ride, I love it.

the famous Ayer Itam asam laksa
the famous Ayer Itam asam laksa

After Penang Hill, it was time for lunch, and since we were already at Ayer Itam, the famous laksa right next to the morning market made for an obvious choice.

I’ve had this laksa from when it was sold for RM 1 per bowl, and glad to say that it still tastes the same as it was from decades ago. Check out this old blog post of the place from almost 10 years back.

Fort Cornwallis, where Sir Francis Light first stepped foot on Penang
Fort Cornwallis, where Sir Francis Light first stepped foot on Penang

Fort Cornwallis was our next destination. This was the place where Sir Francis Light, the founder of modern Penang first set up camp on the island. The historical site isn’t overly interesting to be perfectly honest, but if you’re hungry (unfortunately we weren’t), the mee sotong at the adjacent food court is excellent.

Rumah Peranakan, I've never been to this place even though I'm from Penang
Peranakan Mansion, I’ve never been to this place even though I’m from Penang

We then moved to Peranakan Mansion, a typical mansion for affluent Baba & Nyonya from a century ago. This mansion was super impressive and definitely worth every sen of the entrance fee. There are over 1000 pieces of antique & collectibles on display. I am quite embarrassed to be a Penangite who only stepped foot in this building for the first time.

If you go to Penang, be sure to pay a visit to this place.

Masjid India, the oldest mosque in Penang, and the nasi kandar next to it
Masjid India, the oldest mosque in Penang, and the nasi kandar next to it

Continuing the tour of Georgetown, our Muslim tour-mates took the opportunity to pray at the oldest mosque on the island – Masjid India.

As for the rest of us, it was an excuse for nasi kandar. I had nasi tomato from the Nasi Kandar Masjid stall (next to the famous Nasi Kandar Beratur which opens only at night). As with most nasi kandar in Penang, the curry was thick and flavorful, but it didn’t have as much umph as I had wanted, I guess I expected just a bit more.

Penang road cendol and rojak
Penang road cendol and rojak

For tea break, we headed to Penang road to have some cendol. There are two stalls operating across the road from each other, and to be honest, they both tasted as good as each other. Some may argue that one is “definitely better”, but I can’t tell.

Oh, the rojak is pretty good as well.

a visit to Chew Jetty before we head back to KL
a visit to Chew Jetty before we head back to KL

Chew Jetty was our last destination before heading back to the airport. The famous residential jetty now has about half the houses converted to make-shirt shops of sort. In a way it was perhaps slightly less charming? I don’t really know what to make up of it.

My grandparents stay very close to one of these jetties at Weld Quay, so as a kid I used to roam around the different jetties with no shoes, carelessly side stepping open nails and barely secured planks. There was definitely a sense of nostalgia.

Oh, by the way, I also tapao 10 packs of laksa back to KL, and happy to report that airport security did not think it was a bad idea. 😀

Best of luck, Malaysian Airlines!

Nasi campur, or Malay mixed rice, is usually a pretty uneventful type of meal. You pick a few dishes from a couple dozen precooked “lauk” to put on top of steamed rice, and go about filling up your stomach.

Unless of course, you head to Istana Budaya.

Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur
Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur

Most people associates Isatana Budaya as a place where you dress up to catch a fancy play such as Puteri Gunung Ledang, but did you know that they also serve perhaps one of the fanciest nasi campur over lunch?

Well, I was just as surprised when I got there the first time with a couple of my colleagues who are just as big a fan of good food as me – Razi & Amalia.

yes, this nasi campur spread looks like a luxurious buffet
yes, this nasi campur spread looks like a luxurious buffet

The nasi campur spread here looks as good as any hotel grade buffet, complete with a huge selection of halal dishes, including appetizer, main course, dessert, and even selection of kuih and other tea time favorites.

The modus operandi though, is the same as any nasi campur places – fill up your plate, go about filling it up with your favorite dishes, head to the counter to pay, and makan!

laksa, sago gula melaka, and more
laksa, sago gula melaka, and more

Other than rice dishes, there are also noodle dishes such as laksa. I also recommend ending the meal with a small container of those really sinful yet delicious sago gula Melaka.

Amalia sure looked happy
Amalia sure looked happy

Prices are not out of the ordinary, a usual meal cost less than RM 10 in an air conditioned dining hall, and being located at a big function building, parking is not a problem either. Have a try!

map to Istana Budaya, KL

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m a fan of street foods, and it is not confined to any particular category of street food either. Chinese, Malay, Mamak, I love all of them.

In recent time we have a bit of a food truck movement, but while those are cute and neat, we actually already have food trucks since yonks. The only difference being that food truck 2.0 operates inside the truck, while the original food truck has the operators standing on the road side, eye-to-eye level to diners. I feel that the experience is always a bit more intimate.

Kelana Jaya laksa and ikan bakar stalls
Kelana Jaya laksa and ikan bakar stalls

Anyway, here’s a couple old school food trucks opposite the small Giant hypermarket at Kelana Jaya we discovered a short while ago. I first came to this place back in 2007 with my Malay friend Naida (who has since moved to the States) for nasi lemak kukus. Time flies huh?

love the ikan bakar with sauce plastered all over the stingray
love the ikan bakar with sauce plastered all over the stingray

The first stall is Ikan Bakar Fend, offering a variety of ikan bakar, including pari, talapia, kembong, cincaru, keli, as well as chicken and cockles.

I went with the default choice of ikan pari (stingray) with rice (RM 10) and was delighted by the portion as well as the quality of the dish. The fish was split into halves with the spicy and slightly sweetish sambal plastered all over, it was delicious and went very well with steamed rice. In fact, the accompanying sauces weren’t even really needed. I really want to try their ayam bakar next time.

Laksa de Kelana, Haze approved of the taste
Laksa de Kelana, Haze approved of the taste

Another stall worth trying is Laksa de Kelana that offers laksa, and apparently also Malay char kuih teow basah. Haze tried the laksa and was happy with it. The bowl of laksa and two coconut drinks (in cups) cost us RM 6 and was definitely more than worth it.

Maybe next time I’ll try the kuih teow basah.

Nasi Lemak Kukus at Kelana Jaya

Laksa de Kelana & Ikan Bakar Fend
Jalan SS 6/3,
Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS: 3.105838, 101.600329
Tel: 012-917 6965

– Advert – 
Transitions lens at Ah Weng Koh

Another demonstration on how Transitions® Signature lens is useful in day-to-day life. Going from brimming bright outdoor where the lens is tinted to under the roof at one of my favorite breakfast places at Ah Weng Koh, and the lens goes completely transparent in an instant. It’s the sort of convenience you don’t realize until you have it.

It’s pretty much a truce that Penang offers one of the best hawker foods anywhere, you almost plan up a whole weeks’ itinerary filled with different hawker foods and never have to visit the same place twice. The problem is, what if you only have a day?

Well, to make your life simpler, here’s 5 different places you could visit in a single day to sample some of the best from Penang. Food portions on the island is usually not too big, so 5 meals a day is just about right for anyone with a normal appetite. For extra credit, you can always fit in another couple meals in between.

Ah Hai kuih teow soup at Kim Lee kopitiam
Ah Hai kuih teow soup at Kim Lee kopitiam

Breakfast starts at Kim Lee kopitiam. Ah Hai’s kuih teow soup starts at around 7:30 am and would operate around 3pm. The kuih teow soup here offers bouncy home made fish ball, delicious fish cake, slices of duck meat, and most importantly, coagulated duck blood, as the original recipe calls for.

This place has been in existence for some 60 years, and still offers one of the best kuih teow th’ng there is on the island.

Ah Hai kuih teow soup | Kedai Makanan Kim Lee, Lorong Macalister, Penang | 7:30 am to 3 pm

yep, these prawns are massive!
char kuih teow at Dato’ Keramat – Ah Leng’s

For lunch, we continue keep our focus on kuih teow, but this time the fried version – the all important Penang char kuih teow.

While the two stalls at Lorong Selamat gets all the glitz and glamour, I find Ah Leng char kuih teow at Dato’ Keramat a more than worthy alternative. The fried kuih teow here has the customary huge prawns, lard, chives, duck egg, and for extras – mantis prawns (for RM 11 per plate). Pure ecstasy for those who loves this signature Penang dish.

Ah Leng char kuih teow | Kafe Khoon Hiang, 358 Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang | 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, closed on Thursdays

famous Balik Pulau laksa near the market
famous Balik Pulau laksa near the market

From Dato’ Keramat, drive up to Ayer Itam and through Payer Terubong to where the best laksa is found at Nang Guang kopitiam, Balik Pulau.

The asam laksa here comes in two different varieties, the usual asam style, and the richer lemak style, which is closer to the traditional Nyonya recipe. Neither would disappoint even the harshest laksa critics. The soup is flavorful and packed with fish meat, even the prawn paste has an extra kick to it.

If you’re to pack some for the journey back to Klang Valley (or anywhere else), they do it rather professionally with soup, prawn paste, and main ingredients all packed separately.

Balik Pulau Laksa | Nan Guang kopitiam, 67, Jalan Balik Pulau, 11000, Balik Pulau, Penang | Hours: morning to late lunch

mixed pork porridge at New Lane
mixed pork porridge at New Lane

In the evening, make your way back from Balik Pulau to the city center and stop by New Lane for something that isn’t readily associated with Penang – mixed pork porridge.

This is another stall that has been in business for decades and is still going strong as ever. A bowl of mixed pork porridge comes with delicious crispy intestine, pork tongue, slices of char siu, some spring onion, and pepper. Pretty simple list of ingredients, but one that tickles just the right spots on the tongue.

Pork Intestine Porridge (Chee Cheong Chock) | New Lane, Georgetown, Penang | Hours: from 6 pm till midnight

Green House hokkien mee and loh mee at Jalan Burma
Green House hokkien mee and loh mee at Jalan Burma

For supper, head up just a few hundred meters to the East of New Lane  to find the original Green House prawn mee stall at Jalan Burma.

This prawn mee and loh mee stall offers many ingredients you don’t typically find – home made fish ball, meat ball, sausage, pork skin, chicken feet, instine, and more can be added as extras to the prawn mee/loh mee for extra kicks. By default, they come with pork slices, prawns, hard boiled egg, fried shallots, and chili paste.

Green House hokkien mee | Jalan Burma, Georgetown, Penang (Opposite Chew Thean Yeang Aquarium) | Hours: dinner till late

Of course, I’ve missed out many other hawker stalls that are “must tries”, but if you have only 24 hours to go, this list should not disappoint. Happy eating!

Arguably one of the biggest names in the food industry, Gordon Ramsay was in Singapore for SingTel’s HAWKER HEROES, and thanks to HungryGoWhere Malaysia (coming very soon, and I’m one of the contributors), Chris, WeiZhi, and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the event in Singapore.

Yes, we got to see Gordon Ramsay up close, and got a taste of his foods too.

crazy crowds at SingTel's HAWKER HEROES
crazy crowds at SingTel’s HAWKER HEROES

The challenge started with 10 short listed hawkers, and after public voting, three finalists were chosen to represent Singapore hawker foods and goes up against Ramsay. The poll gathered some 2.5 million votes online, so yah, it was a big deal.

The voted representatives were

  • Ryan Koh of 328 Katong Laksa (316,611 votes)
  • Ang Kiam Meng from Jumbo Seafood Restaurant (319,922 votes)
  • Foo Kui Lian from Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (318,151 votes)

So it was laksa, Singapore chili crab, and chicken rice. Ramsay then visited the hawkers and spent 3 days learning how to cook these dishes before the challenge on Sunday night, 7/7/2013.

Gordon Ramsay and the hawkers from 328 Katong laksa, Jumbo Seafood, and Tian Tian chicken rice
Gordon Ramsay and the hawkers from 328 Katong laksa,
Jumbo Seafood, and Tian Tian chicken rice

The crowd was huge at Newton Food Court, we heard that there were some people who lined up for a food ticket (limited to 1000 servings) a day prior. Thank goodness for people from SingTel we got media passes. 😀

The scene was pretty intense, loads and loads of people at the smallish venue. Chef Ramsay somehow managed to spent a few minutes meeting the people in the media area, but each time was perhaps a few minutes only. No such chance as taking a photo with, but we were super lucky and got something (more of that later)

the dishes, both from Ramsay and the hawkers
the dishes, both from Ramsay (top) and the hawkers (bottom)

The dishes were served in 6 plastic containers, understandable since they had to prepare 1000 portions. One side were the chili crab, laksa, and chicken rice from the hawkers, the other side were from Ramsay and his team after 3 days’ intense learning session.

I was pretty excited getting to taste something from him and see how it stack up against the best from Singapore.

Chris from PureGlutton, Wei Zhi of kampungboycitygal, and yours truly

Chris from PureGlutton, Wei Zhi of kampungboycitygal, and yours truly

My thought before the tasting was that the one ingredient that is most familiar for Gordon Ramsay is probably crabs, and hence Singapore Chili Crab would be his best bet, and in either case, the competition won’t end up in a clean sweep either way.

Here are my verdicts on the dishes after tasting them:

  • Chicken Rice – I really like how smooth Ramsay managed to make the chicken breast tastes, but the rice from Tian Tian was more moist and nicer, and as for chili sauce, Tian Tian’s version was clearly superior, Ramsay’s version tasted like it had too much vinegar. I chose Tian Tian over Ramsay but it was close.
  • Laksa – I tried Ramsay’s laksa and thought it was pretty good, and then I had a taste of 328 Katong’s and it turned out even better! Though both dishes had similarly well executed ingredients (prawns, fish paste etc), the soup from 328 was that much better. More sour and had a better kick than the more lemak version from Ramsay’s camp.
  • Chili Crab – Again, the crab itself were both excellent. As for the sauce, Jumbo’s version was very familiar – sweet & slightly spicy, and chunky with eggs. Ramsay’s version was a lot more spicy and had a more curry kinda taste to it, I actually liked it, but thought this could go either way.

these aren't the real chefs I think, with Hanis & Shing from HungryGoWhere Malaysia
these aren’t the real chefs I think, with Hanis & Shing from HungryGoWhere Malaysia

After tasting, we spent the next hour hanging out at the nearby community centre while waiting for the result. It does take quite a bit of time to feed 1000 people.

Then the results came in.

It was 2-1, Tian Tian & 328 Katong Laksa can now claim that they are better than Gordon Ramsay, while the chef managed to edge out Jumbo Seafood’s chili crab. I really can’t argue with the result and thought it was rather fair (from more than 5,000 votes).

Perhaps surprising to some, but Gordon Ramsay took it very well and applaud the food scene from the area. He also talked about how tough it was to learn the tricks of the trade in such a short time. Check out the shaky video I managed to take above.

I thought it was a pretty impressive feat.

Florence, Sally, Chris, WeiZhi, KY, Linda & kids
Florence, Sally, Chris, WeiZhi, KY, Linda & kids

Oh, by the way, though I didn’t have a photo with Gordon Ramsay, Chris, Wei Zhi, and I did manage to get an autograph from Gordon Ramsay, and it’s on my KYspeaks name card too! During the time he came over to the tent I think only four people managed to get his autograph, so we were extremely lucky.

my name card, signed by Gordon Ramsay!
my name card, signed by Gordon Ramsay!

Most awesome trip indeed, and stay tuned to Hungry Go Where Malaysia version!