For this year’s CNY escape, my brother & I brought mom to Siem Reap for some Angkor Wat sight seeing. So naturally, we got to try some of the local foods.
I always thought it was a little strange that we can find many representations of South East Asian food in Malaysia – Thai being most popular, but you can also find Indonesian, Vietnamese, and to a lesser extend, Filipino food. However, I haven’t seen a single Cambodian hawker stall or restaurants in all of Klang Valley, and now I think I know why..
Old Market at Siem Reap
The short answer is – Cambodian food is just not very good.. or rather, they don’t appeal to the Malaysian taste at all. The biggest problem being that most everything ended up to sweet, even dishes that you never expect to have any sugar at all, they will add some just for kicks in Siem Reap.
So, if you order food there and specifically tell them not to put any sugar, things usually will turn out OK-ish.
Even though it’s the second biggest city in Cambodia, Siem Reap is really quite a small place, with population of only around 200 thousands. You can use local currency, but US dollar is accepted anywhere with a rate of around 1000 Cambodian Riel to 1 USD, I’d suggest using US dollar for your travel here.
Our first meal was at the Old Market at the heart of the city, walking distance from our hotel (there are many around the area at varying price range).
Instinctively, we went for the busiest noodle/rice stall in the market.
brunch for three, rice or noodle for you?
We ended up ordering 3 different dishes – vermicelli with pork, “instant” noodle with beef, and a plate of chicken rice. Ordering wasn’t too difficult since they do have English menu, and each dish cost US $2. Probably cheaper for the locals? Not sure.
Taste wise they were pretty decent, I particularly love the pork blood and vege in the soup. The soup base however, was a tad too sweet, though still quite acceptable, unlike some of the other stalls we tried at later meals.
I’d not shy away from eating at this stall again.
the dessert stall is right next to noodle stall
Right next to the noodle stall is this very popular dessert stall operated by a lady who doesn’t really speak any English.
Since Siem Reap food is already too sweet, it follows the logic that they would be pretty good at dishes that should be sweet, right? And after having been convinced by some instagram friends who urged me to try it out, we did, and it was awesome!
desserts for three
We had no idea what these desserts were called, or what they really were other than knowing grass jelly, coconut milk, sago, banana, condensed milk and the likes were involved. These 3 bowls cost us 5,500 Riel, they were sweet, tasty, and absolutely satisfying.
While the breath of Japanese cuisine kept advancing in Malaysia, there’s a segment of this food that alienate majority of the population here in Malaysia. See, you can find sushi, sashimi, and yakotiri that are suitable for most everyone to consume for the most part, but when it comes to proper Japanese ramen, the pork free or halal version proved to be a bit of a challenge to locate.
Kagura Chicken Ramen is hailed from Tokyo with the name of Seimenka Kaguraya, and even back in Tokyo, the recipe has always been pork-free and lard-free. Rare but still pretty popular at the same time.
There’s a selection of different soup base and ingredients, ranging from RM 12.88+ to a maximum of RM 22.88+. When it comes to proper Japanese ramen at these type of set up, I’d say they’re very competitively priced.
While the base is chicken, there’s a choice of shoyu, miso, and “rich” soup. They also serve gyoza, fried rice, and a limited choice of tempura (menu below)
Kagura Chicken Ramen
So how do they taste like?
We tried the “rich” and shoyu ramen together with their dumplings, and I gotta say that the soup base rivals the pork based ramen, with a slightly less greasy note. They also did a good job with the chicken base chasiu, but I do feel that the texture of pork chasiu is still superior. Overall though, this is a more than decent version of ramen that certainly did not make me regret having it for sure.
The dumpling though was sort of average, I guess perhaps it’s the lack of fatty bits that failed to bring it to my expectation.
fancy some dumpling to go with your ramen?
Skip the dumpling unless you are way too hungry, otherwise, this ramen is fit for anyone who loves ramen, even if you’re not specifically avoiding pork for whatever reason.
Before we start, I have a confession. I must admit that of the various ASEAN countries I’ve visited (all except Laos & Cambodia), Filipino food is ranked pretty low on the index of cuisine that gets me excited.
That being said, it is always important to keep an open mind, so when my Kota Kinabalu makan buddy suggested that we try Tambayan at Kainang Filipino for dinner, I thought, why not? Maybe 5th time is the charm.
After that initial time, I’ve since returned to the place twice, I’m sort of a convert.
Tortang Talong, Pinakbet, Pork Adobo
Tambayan at Kainang Filipino is located at Api Api Centre, a commercial area at the capital city of Sabah just a short walk away from Marriott & Prominade hotel. The restaurant itself isn’t particularly fancy and usually not overly crowded.
The menu (check the pics below) is pretty extensive for a restaurant this size, there are set meals, noodle, pasta, single rice dish, as well as various cook-to-order dishes separated into different categories of pork, soup, beef, vegetable, seafood, and so on.
dinner for two on different visits
Over the different visits, I’ve tried their pork adobo (RM 12.80), sinigang shrimp (a sour soup, RM 12.80), lechon kawali (crispy pork loin RM 10.80), pinakbet (mixed vege, RM 8.80), ampalaya con carne (stirfry bitter gourd, RM 8.80), and tortang talong (eggplant omelette RM 8.80).
The adobo were quite flavorful, with the sauce carrying a bit of sourish taste that was also rather savory, vege dishes comes with a strong dose of fish sauce and are generally quite well cooked, I enjoyed them quite a bit.
As for crispy pork, I do feel that this is less crunchy and perhaps does not carry that sodium goodness compared to our Chinese siu yok.
However, the dish that I ended up always ordering is that awesome eggplant omelette. It is basically just your basic purple colored eggplant sliced open and have a fried egg engulfing the whole thing, wouldn’t have expected it to taste so good!
with my KK makan buddy
So if you’re at KK and have an open mind to trying out food that’s of lesser popularity in Malaysia, head to Tambayan at Kainang Filipino. You may like it, you may not, but it’ll be a different gastronomical journey nonetheless.
Address: Tambayan At Kainang Filipino Block 3, Ground Floor, Api-api Centre, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah GPS: 5.975185, 116.070327 Tel: 016-818 2008 Hours: 12.00 pm – 12.00 am
Earlier this year, mom, brother, and I decided to head to Thailand for Chinese New Year. Our first stop was Hat Yai, the Southern town that has been a pretty popular spot for Penangites since way back when Penang Bridge wasn’t even a thing.
Tanatip Restaurant, Hat Yai, Thailand
Our overall plan was to take KTM Komuter from Sungai Petani, switch over to Thai railway at Padang Besar station, spend a night at Hat Yai, and then fly to Bangkok the next day.
The primary reason was that flight from Hat Yai to Bangkok was 3 times cheaper than Penang to Bangkok at the same time period. Plus you get an extra meal or three in Hat Yai, win-win the way I see it!
fried roasted pork with basil
We arrived at late morning, the stalls at the market has already mostly stopped selling at the time, while walking around we chanced upon this restaurant with some beautiful roast pork displayed outside, which was a sign that we as a family couldn’t ignore. That’s how we ended up at Tanatip Restaurant (sign board only in Thai..)
shrimp tomyam, fried century egg with ginger
We ordered three dishes to go with steamed rice for lunch, and naturally the first dish was to fried roasted pork with basil (80 baht), and it was as you would imagine, roast pork, fried with Thai basil, fish sauce, and the all important chili padi. It was spicy, fragrant, and so delicious I wonder why nobody serves this in Malaysia, simply love this dish.
Naturally, our first Thai meal must include tomyam, the shrimp tomyam (120 baht), it was of course freshly made from scratch, spicy, sour, and tastes as strong as you’d expect. The prawns was quite fresh too.
sumptuous lunch for the three of us at Tanatip Restaurant
Our third dish was something I’ve never tried before – fried century egg with ginger (70 baht). Yeap, if you love century egg, they are actually even better deep fried (what isn’t?). There’s generous amount of cashew nuts with this dish to probably make it a whole meal by itself if you’re on keto diet.
The random chanced upon restaurant Tanatip turned out to be more than satisfying, while the restaurant itself can perhaps be cleaner and more organized, we have nothing to complain when it comes the food itself.
KL has seen a bit of a boom in premium Omakase style Japanese restaurants of late, I’m no historian, but it probably started out with Kame Sushi at Hartamas, then came Oribe at KL, Sou at Mid Valley, Sushi Azabu, and more.
Sushi Ryu, Platinum Park KLCC
With the increase in popularity of these restaurants, and perhaps a bit of a dip in our currency, prices for a meal of omakase course has been increasing as well. I remember paying RM 88++ for an unforgettable lunch at Oribe when they first opened, but now you’ll be hard pressed to find anything below RM 200 per pax for such treatment. Which begs the question, is it worth it to spend RM 500 or more for a dinner for two? And will these restaurant sustain?
Anyway, the topic in this article is my experience at Sushi Ryu with their omakase course priced at RM 279++ per person, their other option on the menu is priced at RM 579++ per person, additionally, there’s a limited time menu with Michelin star teppanyaki from Tokyo at RM 1588++ per person.
In my experience, the cheapest option usually gets you the best value per dollar spent. I enjoyed myself almost as much when I spent 88++ at Oribe compared to RM 230++ course at the same place at a different time.
seabream sashimi with ebiko and truffle oil as starter
Our dinner started out fantastically.
Tai sashimi with copious amount of ebiko and truffle oil. It was fresh, delicious, and really opened up my appetite for more, I really enjoyed it.
Next was otoro as their seasonal sashimi dish. It was two slices of tuna belly served on a piece of rock with grated wasabi. The accompanying shoyu tasted pretty premium, but I thought the sashimi was average for this cut. It wasn’t better than the ones we had at J’s Gate opening event…
chawanmushi as our hot dish
Seasonal hot dish came in the form of chawanmushi. It was quite a busy dish, with more ebiko and crab meat. Execution was really good and this was my second favorite dish after the appetizer.
seven pieces of nigri sushi
Seven pieces of nigri sushi made up of our main and served in three separate dishes. The server did describe to us what they were but I can’t really remember their names.
They were also supposed to have already been properly “seasoned” with the right amount of soya sauce and wasabi. To be honest, I found these sushi to be average-to-good, but did not have the wow factor I expect for something at this price point. More than once I was hoping for soya sauce and wasabi, and the squid was actually too chewy.
miso soup, dessert
Soup in the menu was miso soup, it was an average bowl of miso soup.
Most disappointing for me though, was perhaps the dessert. It was the Japanese version of ice cream sandwich topped with chocolate. Yes the chocolate was fine, but the ice cream could probably be had from Family Mart.