PEr FYI

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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June 16, 2019

Baikohken, Asahikawa Ramen Village, Hokkaido…oodles of noodles

Not all ramen are created equal. There are salty, brown-coloured, broths and milky-coloured ones. But which restaurants really strike the perfect balance of flavoursome soup base to soft, silky noodles to extra ingredients? What is the secret that sets one ramen join apart from another? Who is top of the broths?

My mission to find the best ramen took me to Asahikawa Ramen Village in Hokkaido. The broth is pretty rich here. For the full-on indulgence, go for the charsiew ramen miso. Make sure to add in the butter, just because you can. The gyoza is a worthwhile side.

Overall, the food was good but not memorable but I can think of 50 other places I can get the same or better quality ramen. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 5, 2019

Nuer Koo, Bangkok…has beef noodles like no one else in Bangkok

There are other beef noodle shops in Bangkok, but there is nothing quite like Nuer Koo (pronounce ‘Nua Kooh’).

I opted for medium sliced kobe beef quickly dipped in broth. The soul-stirring soup is deceptively mild at first, gaining carnality with each spoonful but never growing too forceful. It manages to be light and clean on the palate, with a straightforward beefiness that doesn’t linger too long. It comes with rough cuts of gorgeously marbled beef, putting up gentle resistance. The noodles have an integrity and chew you might associate with good Italian pasta.

I’m calling the beef noodle soup here a BUY. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 1, 2019

Remboelan, Jakarta…You should order the entire menu

It’s worth noting that the room is packed: with Instagram-happy food tourists, certainly, but also with toddler-towing families and middle-aged midtown couples. Remboelan nails the palm sugar sweets, the clove, ginger and turmeric depths, and the  spice-stoked endorphin highs that make good Indonesian eating.

The ikan gurami sos manga muda nyamleng (deep fried gourami fillet fish topped with shredded young mango, house pickles and house sweet and sour special sauce) is all kinds of brilliant. It is easily the best single Indonesian dish I’ve eaten in over a year. The mie rebus persisiran (house special chicken noodle with special gravy sauce, served with pickles and prawn crackers) is perfectly satisfying all on its own. Even better is the nasi bakar cumi gurih (delicacy from Remboelan. Grilled lemongrass fragrant rice stuffed with “salty baby squid”, stinky bean and chilli). Order many, many portions. Trust me. Then, just when you think the food can’t get any more exciting, along come the soto koya lamongan (shredded chicken, bean sprout, egg and combined in house special chicken with koya powder, “sambal cuka.”

Come with several mates and order pretty much everything. I say pretty much: that’s just like my kind of dinner party. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 26, 2018

Nasi Kandar Pelita, Kuala Lumpur…KL’s worst dining experience

I want to do you the nigh-priceless service of telling you somewhere it’s imperative you don’t visit.

Some meals can feel like a punishment, and if that’s your bag, I can’t recommend Nasi Kandar Pelita enough. The nasi goreng and fried chicken were nothing to trouble Instagram with. The Maggi goreng was challengingly bland. It is profoundly awful. This is truly Malaysia’s capital’s worst dining experience, just short of eating broiled peanuts from a stall at Chow Kit Road run by a man with weeping dermatitis.

There are several words I can drum up to describe the treatment we received from the wait staff, but let me limit it one: shoddy. No, wait, remembering the wrong food they’d served despite reminders, I would add: uniformly bad.

We left hungry, of course we did, and RM60 poorer. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 11, 2018

Go Noodle House, Johor Bahru…noodle soup in JB gets better

When I am in JB, a bowl of warm, rich and comforting noodle soup is still rarely far from my mind. Go Noodle House has taken noodle broth to new heights.

Superior soup bursting meatballs is a winner. The stock was fragrant and rich. The ban mian, which I order with regular thickness,  come with a lovely bite and spot-on, especially with their moreish undertone. The bursting meatballs has a perky tastiness that lifted the spirit as well as the tongue. Man, this meatball is great! Don’t forget the dates wolfberry tea.

Put Go Noodle House on your Johor Bahru map. It’s one of the best noodle soup you can get in this city. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 5, 2018

979 Nine Seven Nine Kopitiam, Penang…salted vegetable minced pork bihun soup is unmissable.

Penang is replete with high quality dining options that won’t break the bank, it just takes a little local knowledge to sort the wheat from the chaff. NSN is a super cheap local eat where you can stay stuffed without emptying your wallet. It may be a simple, humble little joint, but it’s astoundingly satisfying.

The star of the show?

The real deal comfortingly basic  salted vegetable minced pork bihun soup is remarkably deep, savoury and a wonderful depth of flavour. It is a contender for “best food in Penang” and I was told it regularly attracts long queues of devotees. It succours the old school and the hungry. It is no beauty but a winner. Seriously incredible, now I can NEVER stop craving for it. The deep fried wanton from a nearby stall in the same eatery is equally unmissable. Both are perplexingly cheap and  insanely economical.

Take friends, and order big. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 29, 2018

7 Village Noodle House, Penang…nothing special

In Penang, kway teow thng shops shops and stalls are stacking up like jets over Changi Airport. Every third shop or stall seems to knocking out kway teow thng.

7 Village Noodle House now find themselves in a market almost as crowded as the MRT train on a Monday morning. The kway teow thng was quite good, although not as good as the authentic stuff in Hutton Lane or Pitt Street but if you just want a fast, clean, comforting bowl of noodles, it’s a good call.

Its a good noodle place but nothing out of this world. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 9, 2018

Super super, Hong Kong…They won’t win any awards

There’s a reason wonton soup became one of the backbones of the Hong Kong menu. Beyond being simply delicious, it is a taste that crosses borders.

This trip to Super Super relegated my perspective of beef noodle soup to hard beef balls, tough-as-nails beef tripe and supposedly premium beef brisket dropped into a bowl of soup. However, I got to say that the soup is light and doesn’t just taste like something that came from a can, and the shrimp wontons are slippery and thin and filled with small chunks of shrimp folded into the filling.

The space is nothing too notable, but it’s a calm, not overly cramped room as you would expect in Hong Kong.

It’s not the best deal around. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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