Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dim Sum & More With Gooi

It's mighty hard to find the perfect dim sum in Hong Kong. It wasn't because dim sum was hard to find. On the contrary, dim sum to the Hong Kongers is like kaya & toast to Malaysians. It's almost everywhere. In fact, there's so many of them that we didn't know where to start cos we had only one stomach for only one breakfast, and we really didn't want to end up with a bad one.

But fortunately we had a secret weapon in Hong Kong: Nee's soon-to-be cousin-in-law Gooi, who was most gracious to meet us & brought us around town. Without him, we wouldn't have found this place which was frequented by locals.

Our apologies for not being aware of the name of the shop. We could only remember that we met up at the Sogo entrance at Causeway Bay (Tun Lo Wan) & then we walked a little bit from there. Anybody out there who recognises this place, please leave a comment.

The first thing that you'd notice about this place is the super elaborated interior design, & the chandeliers man...

I feel like ballroom dancing already man... so very got the class.

Did you know that Hong Kong people eat their newspapers with dim sum?

Gooi ordered these for us:
Chee Cheong Fun ~ Smooth yummy
Stirred Fried Low Shi Fun

Siew Mai ~ heay look they comes in fours

Char Siew Pau ~nicely light and fluffy

Har Kow

Radish Cake

Savoury Puffs ~ Ham Shui Kok

Siao Long Bao

Fish Balls


Chicken Feet

We weren't sure whether this was a Top Ten Dim Sum Box Office Billboard Chart Hit, but it was exactly what we were looking for. So on the 6th day of our trip in Hong Kong, we finally had some good dim sum. Time was running out, but we made it.

Knowing that we were avid food bloggers, Gooi kept the food program going. Immediately after the dim sum, we were shuffled to a place with fantastic Gui Ling Gao (Turtle Shell Jelly).

The shop is called Hoi Tien Tong & like many of the other dessert shops, it's a chain store.

I thought the table setup was quite pecular cos there was this little glass case with a yellow box on display right in the centre of the table, like a mini museum.

Obviously it must be one of their Gui Ling Gao Jelly inside. I just hope that there's no baby turtles inside when you open it up. Heheh, nolah. Before you start panicking, my guess is that Turtle Shell Jelly is probably named after some herbal ingredient that looks like turtle shells lah.

This little baby costs about HKD 55 (RM 22)!!!

Shaken but not stirred.

They come with honey. Suh-weeet.

For the record, this was the best Gui Ling Gao that we have ever tasted, & the most expensive too. Gooi, you are now officially our best friend & our best future cousin-in-law.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Wing Wah at Midnight

Hong Kong is truly a city that never sleeps. By about midnight, you'd still be able to see people walking about on the streets, some on the way home after a late dinner, others just about to start their supper. The buses are still running. And shops are open till 5am. And that was good news to us.

If we were 10 years younger, we'd probably be hitting the pubs. But at our age, it seemed more exciting to hit the noodle shop.

This is Wing Wah Noodle Shop. It is reputed to have the best red bean soup. And as usual, you'd be able to find photos with TVB celebrities at the entrance of the shop, which endorses that the shop is alright, please come in.

If you missed it, let me just blow it up for you.

Please do not be alarmed. The chef is just making his noodles by beating them with a bamboo pole.

Back in our dating days, Nee & I used to joke that if I brought her home late, her father would come after me with a bamboo pole. It used to be funny, & it still was, until I saw the real Hong Kong bamboo pole. Now I don't think it's funny anymore. Perspectives change with a bamboo of that size. I'm glad I was a good boy.

Fresh Prawn Wonton Noodles, served in a broth brewed with shark bones.

This is the famous Orange Peel Red Bean Soup.

The red beans are cooked with orange peel for 3 hours.

The Tang Yuen (sweet Dumplings) has black sesame inside.

The secret weapon, ancient Orange Peel.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Retro Mido Cafe

When you're at Temple Street in Kowloon, there's this place that you'd really, absolutely, positively, have to go to. Really. Seriously.

This little cafe was opened about 50 years ago. If you think about it, that's half a century ago.

You could tell right away once you step inside. Everything's old.

Over the years, it has maintained the same kind of furniture, same kind of wall & floor tile designs, same kind of toilet, & probably the same people working there.

This place is so old that you'd feel as if you're being served by your grandpa & grandma.

But I'm sure it was once the grooviest place in town. I'm sure everyone wanted to be there just to be seen.
Judging from the people around us, it seemed to be a place for intellectuals, with very deep philosophical & artistic thoughts.

It's also important to note, especially for Hong Kong TVB series addicts, it's also a very famous shooting location for a lot of the drama series.

But obviously Greg & Nee weren't there to be seen. We were also not there for the psychedelic philosophy. We're there for the grub man.

When you're there, you've got to try the famous polo bun that comes with a slice of butter.

If you can, eat as much as you can so that it'll last you till your next trip back to Hong Kong.

Then you must try the just as famous yun yong (cofee milk tea).

This is an excellent place to unwind after all that walking. Everyone's sitting upstairs, & if you can get a seat by the window, you can see the hustle & bustle of people down there.

Also worth trying is their signature dish, Spare Ribs Baked Rice (HKD48). Love me tender baby.

Fried Noodles with Sliced Pork (HKD40). Smooth criminal.

Address: 63 Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2384-6402
Opening Hours: 8.30am-9.30pm
Directions: Yau Ma Tei MTR Station, Exit B2

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Penang Assam Laksa

After our cruise trip and our stops in Penang and Phuket, I was craving badly for Penang Assam Laksa when we got back. That bowl of Assam Laksa at Lebuh Selamat has to be the best I had tasted in my life. So I declared I am officially in love with Penang Assam Laksa.

But sad to say, you can't really find a good bowl of Penang Assam Laksa in Kuching. The closest one would be at Jojo Cafe at 2 1/2 Mile. Greg doesn't like that one cos it's extremely sour & hot.

The one we had in Penang was so well balanced. So I had to take the trouble to do a bit of research & came up with this recipe:

Serve 5-6

The Stock:
1.3-1.5kg of fresh sardine/fresh mackarel (ikan kembung), cleaned and washed well
10 cups of water
5-6 pcs of assam keping
80gm of daun kesum (laksa or Vietnamese mint)*
older parts of 2 bunga kantan (ginger bulb)
2-3 tbsp of assam jawa (tamarind) + 1 cup of water to wash and get the juice


Assam Keping

*The ever eluding Daun Kesum (Polyganum Leaves).
I had to order it from the market. Imagine that.

Tamarind (Assam Jawa)

Clockwise from left: Tumeric root (kunyit), Galangal (Lengkuas), Fresh chillis, Dried chillis and Lemongrass (serai) in the middle

The Spices:
8 shallots (chinese red onion)
2 stalks of lemon grass, use only the white part about 5-6 inch, slices thinly into 2 cm long
1 pc of tumeric root (kunyit), slightly bigger than thumb size
1 pc of galangal root (lengkuas), slightly bigger than thumb size
15-18 pcs dried chillis
5 pcs of fresh red chillis
1 pc of belachan, about 2-3 cm cube

1)Boil water in a deep pot and add fish. Boil for 10-15 minute til fish is cooked. Take fish out, cool slightly and de-flaked.

2) Return the fish bone and head to water. Add assam keping, bunga kantan parts and daum kesum and simmer for 1 hour or so. Strain for the stock.

3) Roughly cut all the above spices ingredients and pound with a mortar and pestle or chopper to paste.

4) Fry paste till fragrant. Add the spice paste to soup, followed by assam jawa juice. Simmer for a while and taste for sourness. Return the fish meat to soup mixture. Adjust taste with sugar, salt and fish sauce. Continue simmering on low fire while you prepare to assemble the bowl.

The Bowl:

1 packet of laksa penang (LaiFen)
Thin strips of cucumber, about 6-8 strips per bowl
Thin strips of pineapple, about 6-8 strips per bowl
Fresh mint
Red onion, sliced thinly
some lettuce
chillis, sliced thinly
inner parts of bunga kantan, shredded into the bowl
3 tbsp of prawn paste (hea ko) + 1 tbsp of water (divide one tbsp per bowl)
extra lime (optional)

1) Soak Lai fen till white and soft. Blanch till cooked.

2) Garnish with cucumber, pineapple, mint, onion, lettuce, chillis, bunga kantan and lime.

3) Dish out the hot soup and fish flake over the noodle and add garnishings.

4)Serve with hay ko (prawn paste).

This laksa worked out really well for both of us & we really enjoyed it. It got us sweating all over & our noses were running non-stop. I would not want to compare with the best in Penang but it's definitely good enough to share with people. Hope you'll enjoy it as well!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We Fly, We Ride, We Sail

Greg and I went on a short holiday last week May 18-22. We flew by AirAsia to JB & stayed a night there. Then we took a taxi to Singapore to board the Star Aquarius, a Star Cruise liner. We sailed to Penang and Phuket then back to Singapore.

Our journey started at Harbourfront Port Singapore on Sunday, arriving in Penang around 2pm Monday, then heading on to Phuket around 9pm, arriving there around 11am on Tuesday. We spent the whole Wednesday on board and arrived back in Singapore on Thursday 11pm.

The Star Aquarius was built in 1993 and sailed in the Scandinivian parts until 2007 as the Norwegian Wind. It was refurbished and brought to Asia and it is now doing the Singapore-Penang-Phuket route as the Star Aquarius. With a crew of over 1150, and a total of 770+ cabins, we joined the rest of the over 1500 guests for an enjoyable, lazy journey. Yes, lazy. You did not read that wrongly.

This was our very first experience sailing for 5 days. Despite the name of our blog, both of us are essentially very lazy people by nature. You know, those who would prefer to curl up on a sofa, just watching tv, reading a book, reflecting and dreaming and basically idling the whole day away. If you give us a choice we would not move at all and if we do, we would probably crawl rather than walk. Basically the only time you see us moving is when nature calls and when we want to fill up our tummies. But unfortunately in our normal days, we do not have the luxury to lounge around doing nothing.

So 5 days of looking out at the vastness of the sea, doing nothing and idling our time away was a total exciting experience for the both of us. Unlike the many passengers on board who were zooming here and there trying to join the various activities prepared by the Cruise and its crew, we were ecstatic just sitting on the sofa, next to a huge floor to ceiling window in our cabin (9023) or lying in bed til 10-11am every morning and then continue lounging around and even falling asleep after the essential meals of the day (there were 6 a day). Yeap, we were close to hibernating. It was an excellent time spent dreaming and reflecting on our lives without coming much to a conclusion.

And the only "mind boggling" conclusions we had were:

1) It is a wonder to experience the world from a totally different platform (on sea looking at sea), to look at the sea from a Tom Hanks Castaway angle.

2) And the amazement of how big this world is and duh! we were only in the Straits of Melaka. And thus how great our Maker is.

3) Don't go on a cruise if you are lonely or have just suffered a major heart break in life. Because you may decide to jump over board and drown yourself. The vast sea does give a little of a melanchony effect. Forget about Titanic & Leornado di Caprio. If you jump, no one would be jumping with you.

In spite of our laziness, do not worry. We will definitely give you more details and reviews of the many things we experienced and the places that we went as we go along. We definitely have a lot to say about the service, the food and the experience itself. So stay tuned to us.

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