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It was a span of almost half a year since my last work trip to Kota Kinabalu, and I believe anyone would know that this was due to the Covid-19 lock down (2020, what a year huh?).

I had only two meals to dine out on this stopover, dinner was at one of my favorite restaurants in KK – Tung Fong Seafood, and for next day’s lunch, I met up with Ben and was introduced to this new-ish fish noodle place by the name of GK Fish Soup.

fresh fish head vs fried fish 'lam'
fresh fish head vs fried fish ‘lam’

The operation has only been around for about 7 months, it is located about 10 minutes away from city center and can be slightly tricky to find – but if you thought you end up at light industrial area with lots of car workshops, then you’ve reached the right place.

Menu is a simple one page affair – you get to have fish filet, lam ikan (fish stomach), sirip ikan (tails), mix ikan, or kepala ikan (fish head) either fried, or fresh. Soup base can be either peria (bitter gourd), tomato, hamchoi (salted vege), or tomyam.

Ben had fresh fish head and I ordered fried fish stomach with tomato soup, partly due to us being late in arrival (almost noon) and ran out of other options. The seafood were prepared just right, and of top quality, something that I now came to expect at this part of Malaysia. The soup too was packed with flavor and I especially enjoyed the cili paste that was served alongside. This was a good departure as some of the other places often serve subpar condiment (looking at you, Fatt Kee), or have it ultra limited (hello Madam Ing).

GK fish soup, plenty of social distancing
GK fish soup, plenty of social distancing

Priced at RM 10 – 18, it offers rather good value. There’s plenty of seafood in a bowl, but portion of meehun can be a bit on the low side, which suits me but not everyone. I am going to come back here again for sure.

map to GK fish soup, Kota Kinabalu

Address:
GK Fish Soup
23, Lorong Nosoob Jaya 1,
Taman Nosoob Jaya,
88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 5.931134, 116.075720

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Right after announcement of the easing of movement control order, I made a plan to travel up North for some long overdue family time, and on the way back, stopped by Ipoh for a bit of R&R. And since it was already late afternoon by the time we were heading back, I thought it was probably a good idea to have dinner packed from Ipoh “sekaligus”.

The choice for dinner was Ipoh’s famous Salt Baked Chicken at Aun Kheng Lim, located right in old town Ipoh – right by Jalan Theathre.

Aun Kheng Lim Salt Baked Chicken
Aun Kheng Lim Salt Baked Chicken

Aun Kheng Lim is somewhat of an institution and a bit of a tourist attraction in itself, there’s only one item on the menu – chicken stuffed with some Chinese herbs, baked in coarse salt, aka salt baked chicken (fresh or frozen, RM 21 a pop in year 2020). You only get to order to go, the shop does not have any dine in area, or do they offer any fancy side dishes. You line up, asks for the number of chicken you want, take them, and eat at your own leisure.

whole salt baked chicken, tender enough to tear off by hands
whole salt baked chicken, tender enough to tear off by hands

You can have the chicken at room temperature, but warming it up with a microwave oven for 2-3 minutes is my preferred method of serving. The chicken is probably just a little over 1 kg, not terribly big, and perfect for 2 person of moderate appetite if  you’re going all paleo and without rice. The combination of herbal note and those saltiness brought out the taste of the bird, so satisfying to gobble down with a glass of ice cold water (or beer) to go with.

If you’re in Ipoh, you owe it to yourself to tapao a few birds back home.

P/S: there’s another shop selling the same thing, and to my untrained tongue, they tastes pretty similar.

map to Aun Kheng Lim salt baked chicken in Ipoh

Address:
Aun Kheng Lim (Main Branch) 鹽焗雞
24, Jalan Theatre,
Taman Jubilee,
30300 Ipoh, Perak
GPS: 4.594825, 101.083322
Tel: +605 254 2998

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I have a story..

You know, when you’re in a group and someone farts and no one owns up, there is usually no solution.. until one of my friends came up with a solution – “It’s you! I recognize the smell of your fart!”, while pointing to any one person. I mean, how do you even have a come back?

Anyway, the relevance of this story is that .. personally, I will have more air expulsion from my body via the rear end whenever too much milk is consumed, like some over 70% Asians, I suffer from lactose intolerance, thankfully a mild-ish version.

To avoid surprised nostril invasion to the unsuspecting parties, I do try to limit my consumption of milk, and one such solution is by having milk substitutes for latte.

Many cafes do offer such alternative in the form of soy or almond milk, but I often find them too sweet, or diluted, or just straight out tasting terrible. The solution – homemade almond milk, and this is how you do it:

homemade almond milk latte, with a single shot of espresso
homemade almond milk latte, with a single shot of espresso

Ingredients:

  • raw almond – 1 cup (around 110 grams)
  • 500 ml water
  • a pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • soak almond in warm water for 1-2 hours, or cold water overnight in fridge
  • remove the water, blend the almond with 500 ml clean water for at least 2-3 mintues
  • sieve the almond milk using sieve (or even better, cheese cloth)

blend or a good 2-3 minutes, sieve out the pulp
blend or a good 2-3 minutes, sieve out the pulp

You’ll end up with a little more than 500 ml of almond milk at around 10-15% almond in weight instead of the 2-3% you get from store bought variety. A shot of espresso and there you have it – homemade almond milk latte.

P/S: you can use the same method for many other nuts, my favorite is actually with raw cashew nuts, doesn’t even need to be sieved and it’ll be so creamy and flavorful. Try it!

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While home cooking is often healthier, cheaper, and quite fun on its own, I was quite ready to go out for a proper meal after months thanks to this Covid-19 era.

Hang Sing seafood restaurant, Pandamaran
Hang Sing seafood restaurant, Pandamaran

So when Yann May came over to this part of town, we decided that dinner should be cooked by someone else, and in this case, one of the restaurants she used to frequent as a kid – Hang Sing Seafood Restaurant all the way at Pandamaran, Klang. Suits me just well since I do stay rather close to Klang itself, and limited movement control period means that traffic isn’t exactly too troubling.

tapioca noodle, sweet potato leaf, kung pao mantis prawns
tapioca noodle, sweet potato leaf, kung pao mantis prawns

After having our temperature checked and names signed into the log book, we were seated down on a rather large table to accommodate for social distancing SOP.

We ordered kung pao mantis prawn, deep fried calamari (squid), sweet potato leaf, and a rather large portion of prawn dish that’s a bit spicy and strong tasting, can’t remember the name if my life depend on it… these dishes were all rather delicious and we chowed them down like hungry teenagers.

deep fried calamari, err.. some sort of prawn dish
deep fried calamari, err.. some sort of prawn dish

With the insistence of May, we also ordered fried tapioca noodle (in fact she even ordered another one to go for next day breakfast. If you love the texture of bubble tea, you’d love this dish, I am not a huge fan of those bubble’s texture, so you’d be right if you guessed that I did not embrace this dish.

Dinner came out to be RM 170 for all these and 4 glasses of kedondong juice. Considering prices of prawns, squid, and mantis prawns, I thought the bill was reasonable.

map to hang sing seafood restaurant, pandamaran

Address:
Makanan Laut Hang Sing
1 Jalan Jelai Off Jalan Kim Chuan,
Kawasan 9, 42000 Port Klang, Selangor
GPS: 3.017864, 101.418534
Tel: +603 31686627

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I haven’t had any Korean food this Corona lockdown period, so naturally it calls for a home made affair to satisfy the cravings. Since there’s no easy way to install an exhaust fan in the dining room to simulate that Korean BBQ experience, I thought kimchi jiggae (kimchi soup) should make a decent replacement, which it did!

So without further ado, here’s my homemade kimchi soup recipe, if you decide to DIY at home too.

kimchi soup homecooked

Ingredients:

  • 1000 ml soup stock – i used leftover pork bone soup
  • 3-4 bulb garlic
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 2-300 gram pork belly
  • 1-2 tube Japanese tofu
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 tablespoon Gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
  • 200 gram kimchi
  • spring onion & cilantro

Instructions:

  • heat up soup stock and add garlic and ginger
  • add pork and boil till pork is soft on low heat (depends on thickness, 20-40 mins)
  • add gochujang & kimchi, boil for another 10 mins
  • add spring onion, egg & tofu for the last 3 mins
  • serve with cilantro on top

Simple, wholesome, and great for rainy day, you can have this soup as is or with a bowl of steamed rice.

Check out more simple recipe here.