PEr FYI

May 24, 2020

Flying wanton mee, Petaling Jaya…hawker or showman?

Since the emergence of hawkers in the 19th century, the role of the cook has not changed. For the most part they toiled entirely comfortable in their anonymity. Today however, successful hawkers are entrepreneurs, budding scientists and showman.

A humble plate of wanton noodle is deemed too plain and unsurprising to command a place here in Seapark and so the hawker makes simplicity shine – the gravity-defying bundle of noodles tossed two storeys high and deftly caught it in his sieve. He then transferred the noodles to a bowl, ladled a good helping of lard and shallot oil as well as dark sauce over the springy strands, and gave them a good mix. Apparently, the science behind it is the higher you toss, the more hot water gets dispersed. So when you mix the noodles into the gravy, they absorb better, the overall taste doesn’t feel watered down.

The definition is flying noodles is no longer those they serve you on board a flight anymore. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 18, 2020

Restoran Ban Lee Siang, Melaka…fading away

Satay celup, which literally means satay dip, can be found across Melaka and is similar to satay as the ingredients are skewered on sticks and dipped into a boiling pot of hot satay peanut gravy. One key difference though – satay celup has way more delicious and awesome variety such as enoki mushrooms wrapped in ham, crab sticks, cockles, fish balls, sausages and prawns.

One of the oldest and most original satay celup restaurant Restoran Ban Lee Siang can inevitably be “overrun with tourists” at times, but it’s still a big hit with many locals too. Having seen it at its very best in my younger days, it was disappointing to have an average meal.

It is a shadow of its former self. I kid you not. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 1, 2020

Annie1, Petaling Jaya…it’s all a-okay

Big menus are commonplace in Malaysia. The menu at Annie1 looks longer than the complete musings of Confucius.

Famous Menglembu wanton mee is absurdly satisfying: They are the very definition of joyous slurp. The noodles are springy and the charsiews are the star of the dish. There is no way to eat this food elegantly so don’t bother trying. Just get your mouth over the plate, lift the noodles and suck. Festoon yourself in napkins tucked into every crevice of your clothing as if you are trying to mitigate the impact of a blast zone, which in a way you are. I was also moved to speechlessness by their Chee cheong fun pork curry – this is a good place to try these rice noodle roll.

Yes, the food is also deliciously affordable. This is the true truth, as I say it as it is…

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February 22, 2020

Hakkasan, New York City…you’ll die poor but happy

New York’s Chinese food scene is a diverse beast. There’s pork ribs to sweet, stir-fried-whatever-you-can-think-of, Hong Kong Dim Sum, the classic Peking duck and of course the comforting staples including noodles and fried rice (and way, way more) at eateries both high end and super casual.

With its innovative Cantonese cooking, Hakkasan is still the benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. Their stylish interior and moody lighting attracts all kinds of beautiful people.

We started with hakka steamed dim sum platter – scallop shumai, har gau, prawn and Chinese chive dumpling, black pepper duck dumpling. The pastry was perfect in give and texture, just elastic enough to encase generous bites of flavour-packed meat and seafood. The stir-fry black pepper beef ribeye with Merlot was equally good, the melting tenderness of top-quality meat turning the clichéd staple into a luxury – Chinese takeaways should weep with shame. We also enjoyed the hot and sour soup with chicken, shiitake and pomelo, spring onion and fried egg rice and the tofu, aubergine and Japanese mushroom claypot with chili and black bean sauce

You’ll die poor but happy. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 1, 2020

Dadong, New York City…nobody should pay this much money and be sad

If one wants terrible food delivered quickly, accompanied by several other unappetising dishes you hadn’t ordered but other diners are currently waiting for, Dadong in midtown New York is for you. While I didn’t get ill after eating at Dadong, I did feel sick about how much I’d spent on a substandard meal.

I’m a massive Dadong, Beijing fan, and can wolf down a peking duck faster than you can say “Times Square”, so I awaited my Dadong “Su bu ni” roast duck – served with sugar, pancakes, crispy sesame buns and special sauce with some level of excitement. The duck was bland, dry and actively repellent. I like to think the staff made it up as a prank, and were watching to see if I would be an obedient foodie and play ball. Let us never speak again of the prime chili diced short ribs

Dadong in New York, well, just don’t serve very good food. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 17, 2019

Owen Seafood Restaurant, Singapore…prices that knock the wind out of you

While there are plenty of budget-friendly food options in Singapore, dining in some restaurants can come with a staggeringly steep price tag. With restaurants opening at a fast rate, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re getting the most for your SGD when dining out.

A seafood meal at this Chinese restaurant doesn’t come cheap. And the disappointing things is that it’s not a restaurant which is particularly distinguished. Unquestionably, I think food is too pretentious….which is a really bad thing. And it’s just too bloody expensive. It is really really horrendously expensive …

You will only remember it as the restaurant that is so expensive that you were outraged. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 15, 2019

Yu Kee Bak Kut Teh, Kota Kinabalu…decent enough

Oohs and aahs went up as the waiter placed all the plates and bowls in rapid fire across the two tables we’d joined together. And so begins a classic game of everyone’s favourite bak kut the (pork rib soup) pastime: how much can you eat before it gets cold? You’ll attempt to pop some pork ribs into your mouth at the same time as some you tiao and your pork belly. It’s the constant pressure to eat faster that keeps things interesting, right?

The food rundown. Decent enough.

The best I’ve had in Malaysia? No. The second best I’ve had in Malaysia? Still no. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 8, 2019

Long Beach King, Singapore…the masters of food shelled and finned

Lobster has hogged the limelight on the edible crustacean stage for so long, that we have a tendency to forget the sweet, meaty merits of the humble crab.

There are no prizes for guessing what dish Long Beach King specialise in. The seafood-centric menu currently offers inventive dishes including deep fried flat rice noodles with “la la king”.  The star of the show were the crab dishes, de-shelled, bursting with flavor. The House specialty live prawns impeccably cooked and presented. When the seafood are this good, it seems pointless to stray, but the homemade beancurd with chef sauce was also splendid.

Long Beach King offers a bold and innovative ‘sea-to-plate’ dining experience. But be warned, a meal here comes at an eye-watering price. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 25, 2019

Cheung Fat Kitchen, Hong Kong…the food here is worth the guilt

I am well eaten (and equally well travelled) and still managed to come a cropper in a review of Cheng Fat Kitchen, a cheap, boisterous restaurant in Hong Kong’s North Point. The food is really nice, and really distinctive, reliably tasty — and cheap

Everything about the char-grilled beef short ribs (thick cut, house special pepper sauce) is great.  Meaty, juicy, lick-your-fingers clean amazing. Save room for some of the best steamed clam with wine & lotus leaf. Don’t leave without trying the sweet and sour pork (sauce served separately). There are thousands of Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, but few have sweet and sour pork like this. Savoury and crunchy, sweet and tangy: it’s addictive stuff. Treat with caution.

Your best bet here is to come with a big group of friends and order as much as you can. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 18, 2019

Mui Kee Congee, Singapore…Is there a sadder sound than the scraping of your spoon on the bottom of a congee bowl?

If I’ve learned one thing from ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ it’s that Goldilocks had the right idea: you’ve got to be picky about your porridge or congee. The good old fashioned, authentic congee I’ve sampled  at Mui Kee is juuuust right. It serves exactly the kind of Chinese food that you would get in the best of Hong Kong restaurants. It’s a tiny place with no room to eat in, but it’s proper street food with a kick.

There is a great selection of parrot fish belly, homemade pork meatballs and threadfin belly. It is incredibly delicious and well made with the ones with the fish belly having a distinct presence of wok hei in the porridge, which we all love.

Is there a sadder sound than the scraping of your spoon on the bottom of a congee bowl? Paws off, baby bear. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

 

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