PEr FYI

May 13, 2017

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market, Seoul…there’s a world of crustaceans in here

Whoever invented the fish market with attached restaurant was a genius. Because what better way to entice customers into consuming a highly perishable food than offering to cook it right then and there?

Here’s a fish market with the luscious lobster, springy calamari and plump shrimp I want on my lunch plate or dinner table tonight. This Seoul destination also functions as a eatery, complete with floor seating and table service on the upper level. What you’re buying here may or may not be, but it’s high quality and a worthy splurge.

The most remarkable part of the market is its expansive selection of whole fish as well as live seafood, including eels, crabs, lobsters and sea urchin. Browsing the colorful, enticing sea creatures is irreplaceable. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

noryanjin fisheries sel3

noryanjin fisheries sel2

noryanjin fisheries sel1

 

September 4, 2016

Shilin Market, Taipei…bring an appetite

Taiwanese night markets are a not-to-be-missed experience. Flying the flag for night markets is Shilin – perhaps the most famous and biggest Taiwanese night market.

Crowded and squeezy, the maze of alleyways is filled with clusters of hundreds of small stalls and street vendors selling a variety of local delicacies. Try everything  from skewered cuttlefish to fresh fruit to Taiwanese sausages to two of the market’s most iconic dishes: pan-fried buns and slabs of fried chicken cutlets. To decide what to eat, wander around and let your eyes and nose make the selection for you. This vibrant and colourful market blends street food with local souvenirs, designers, textiles, homeware and jewellery for a well-rounded market experience.

If you’re food-obsessed but don’t have the disposable income for Taipei’s best restaurants, Shilin is your saviour. Entry is free. The food, of course, is not. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

shilin taipei

August 27, 2016

Jiu Fen Old Street, Taipei…winning combination of crazy good food vendors and a bustling stretch of shopping

Jiufen is a great mini-trip out of Taipei, less than an hour away. With gorgeous views of the ocean, quaint streets and beautiful tea houses, Jiufen thrives as a trousit spot for a taste of Taiwan culture and history. When it first formed, there were only nine families, so the city would always request “nine portions” when shipments came in, hence the name.

Jiu Fen Old Street is series of narrow alleys which feature stand after stand of local snacks and handmade souvenirs. Be prepared to shove past throngs of tourists crammed into the narrow alleys. The offer samples of ginger tea which brings with it a host of powerful health benefits. Another popular food item is the mochi – glutinous rice balls which are as soft as marshmallows.

Don’t worry, there alleys are all covered by awning should the heavens open. It’s worth planning an adventure to Jiufen as well as an obligatory stroll down Old Street. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

jiu fen taipei3

March 6, 2016

Chocolat N’Spice, Singapore…A wonderful way to start the day!

Honestly, I’m not a big muffin fan.  I don’t hate muffins, but I don’t love them either.

These coffee walnut, mocha and chocolate chip muffins at Chocolat N’Spice are rich and tender, high-rising, and deep coffee and chocolate colour respectively. Bursting with flavours with a light, airy and cakey crumb, these really are amazing.Very enjoyable with just the right amount of sweetness without being overbearing. Again, great size and not at all dry!

As it turns out, I do enjoy muffins.  Fresh Chocolat N’Spice Muffins. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

muffin sin

May 3, 2015

Hiong Hiong Char Kway Teow @ Batu Lanchang Food Complex, Penang…shadow char kway teow

Whip me with a wet noodle, if you must. I suppose I deserve some kind of penance for the following confessions: It looks OK, and tastes OK, but it’s shadow char kway teow.  It really isn’t the same char kway teow from Lorong Selamat or MacAlister Roundabout.  It’s a shadow of that char kway teow. In a word, it was LOUSY.

The good stir-fried flat rice noodles, popularly called char kway teow, usually has a robust flavour, smoky aroma and is low in oil. The cockles and prawns are well-fried but not rubbery, and the thick noodles pack bounce and spring. The one at Hiong Hiong is none of the above. Not good. There is an extreme lack of flavour.

I’m pretty sure I won’t ever be going back.  There are plenty of better locations for solid mediocre and above average char kway teow in Penang. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

Batu Lanchang Food Court Penang

June 29, 2014

Chuan Kee Satay, Singapore…..a deliciously juicy piece of skewered meat and the peanut sauce is the difference-maker!

Satay is my enabler. The Hainanese Satay at Chuan Kee Satay is phenomenal.  No doubt this place has the best tasting Hainanese Satay that I have had in Singapore & Malaysia combined.

Hainanese style satay usually means Pork Satay. Being exceptionally different from the usual Malay or pork-free satays that are in abundance in Malaysia and Singapore, it is definitely unique to the Hainanese community.

The truly succulent satay pieces here are smaller and the marinade is different, less sweet with a stronger hint of turmeric. This ensures a deliciously juicy piece of skewered meat! The peanut sauce is the difference-maker. It is a really good, very rich and tasty peanut gravy that comes with added grated pineapple which truly hit the spot. Taste-wise, it’s slightly spicy and more tangy with the taste of mashed pineapples and you will know you have reached what the buddha defined as “Enlightenment”.  Ok, so I do get a little more excited over a satay and its peanut sauce than most, but that’s how I operate.

The only downside is I had to wait FOREVER to get my satay.

But damn if it isn’t delicious! Good eatin’. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

old changi airport satay

old airport rd satay

June 30, 2013

Kok Kee Wanton Noodle, Singapore…wanton mee with an addictive concoction

TWhile we call it “wanton noodle” and it seems as if wanton is the star, it is the the complete opposite. The star of the show is the noodle and the sauce that it is mixed in. The noodles has an egg fragrance and not so springy or QQ as the Chinese termed it. The magic lies in the flavourful secret elixir – a thin light soup/gravy/sauce (I can’t decide which) with a gentle sweetness – which  transforms the entire dish to be tasty and addictive.

The portions are very small – the wanton are really just bite sized – but the flavors are very big.

Kok Kee is plaqued by epically huge massive queues. Makes you wonder if they’re deliberately keeping the queues long. Ridiculous. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

kok kee wanton noodle

June 9, 2013

Asiatique The Riverfront, Bangkok…like visiting a theme park with too much shopping

Everything is well-planned and spacious in this chic lifestyle village/complex – Asiatique. Located along the Chao Praya river, this trendy, massive night market is housed in rows of giant warehouses  which are in fact the old East Asiatic Company warehouses, which date from the mid-19th century). In  total there are about 1,500 handicraft and souvenirs shops, some 40 restaurants (ranging from KFC to MK to Baan Khanitha), brasseries and bars, two theatres – one of them  is Calypso, a ladyboy cabaret. Wide streets run between each warehouse and Asiatique provides retro props for photo opportunities: a reproduction tram car, anchors and a push cart while cool modern jazz sets the mood. Clearly, Asiatique doesn’t resemble the maze of the Chatuchak weekend market.

Many of the shopping stalls you’ll find at Asiatique offer what you would find at the old Suan Lum Night Market across the street from Lumpini Park or MBK mall although far surpassing it in quality, diversity and scope. There are cheap shoes and clothes, expensive (and real) name-brand sunglasses to cheap fake ones, chic designer clothing boutiques to simple racks of 100 baht wears, and hand-made traditional Thai mask galleries to standard T-shirt,  touristy house wares and other souvenirs (lots and lots of elephants). Although the items here are pretty upscale compare to the markets, there are good finds too.

Getting to Asiatique is easily done with their free 15-minute ride shuttle boat service runs from the central pier within walking distance from Saphan Taksin BTS station.

There were moments I felt like I was visiting a theme park with too much shopping. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

Wat Phraya Krai-20130604-00066

September 15, 2012

Silk street and pearl market, Beijing…bargaining is truly the most popular non-contact sport here

If you want any type of fake high fashion bags, clothes, “exotic” silks, custom made suits, Mao Zedong propaganda, new shoes, and absolutely no cash afterwards Silk Street and Pearl market is your heaven. Irrespective of whether you intend to buy anything, the market is still worth a trip simply to marvel at this vast temple to consumerism.

The first price mentioned to you will be outrageous, the second one incredibly high, and eventually they will just be expensive. Ignore the fake crying, the yelling, pulling your arm and the stories about the cats, dogs, children and old folks they need to feed. They are obviously just trying to get more money out of you and they will pull out all the stops to rape your wallets continuously. Don’t be fooled or frightened away no matter what their reaction. It’s all in the unwritten script, and being horribly insulted by your paltry offer is part of their role. She will grumble and complain and look like she’s mad, but that’s how she’s supposed to act.  She’s the pro; if anyone’s going to get a raw deal, it’ll be you if you don’t bargain stridently. Any price she ends up agreeing upon is fine with her, no matter how wounded she acts. 

So go in there with a game plan and be sure to stick with it, be as firm with them as they will be with you. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

 

 

September 3, 2011

Tanjong Pagar Pandan Leaf Nasi Lemak, Singapore…fantastic value for money and amazingly delicious

A plate of nasi lemak (rice cooked in rich coconut milk), which comes with pandan-flavored rice and your personal choice of three condiments (I chose a fried chicken drumstick, a piece of luncheon meat and a piece of otah) costs only $2.50. The huge really fresh fried drumstick is exceptionally crispy, tender and as a colonel would say it…finger-licking good.

The difference between a good nasi lemak and an exceptionally marvelous nasi lemak lies in the use of pandan leaves (screwpine leaves). Possessing highly fragrant floral smell, these leaves are used to infuse rice dishes or desserts with the signature aroma; a nasi lemak will not be a true nasi lemak without their presence. At this 02-43 stall, the rice even has pandan colour all over and has the most amazing aroma.

This pandan leaf nasi lemak is easily the best I have tasted in Singapore in the six over years I have been here. Anjd at $2.50 it’s fantastic value as well. Thank god, there are still stalls like 02-43 out there. They are a vanishing breed. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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