Bak Kut Teh 肉骨茶

This time our MFD agents visited Klang. If there is one thing that Klang is most famous for, besides its port, it is Bak Kut Teh! We are proud to mention that Bak Kut Teh is a cuisine that originates from Malaya, despite the fact that it is a Chinese cuisine (where there is a misconception that it comes from China).

“The name literally translates as “meat bone tea”, and at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices for hours. Despite its name, there is in fact no tea in the dish itself; the name refers to a strong oolong Chinese tea which is usually served alongside the soup in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amount of fat consumed in this pork-laden dish.” -Wikipedia

Our agents took an hour and a half long drive after a evening class all the way to Klang for this. (It is rather common in this country for the rakyat to travel about an hour or more by car to find for the best food around town, and travel the same distance back. That shows our foodie spirit!) And we were not in the least regretful of that decision, even though we were dead tired after!

Here are the pictures:

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Teapots to brew our own tea. There is a basket of tea provided with many varieties of Chinese tea. We’ve particularly chosen “Guan Ying”

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Around every tables, there is a gas stove with a kettle boiling hot with water for customers to brew their tea. Ingenious if you ask me!

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We apologize for the ampere amount of pictures regarding tea. Typicially, the utensils are submerged in hot water for awhile, to ensure it is clean! 🙂

And then the food we ordered arrived!

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A typical Bak Kut Teh meal: soup based (top right) and dry kinds (left), with vegetables cooked with soy sauce! You may choose which parts of the pork you would prefer in your dish. Some likes the innards, others prefer the lean meat. These are depending on each person’s preference. We’ve tried the lean meat, and it is at the degree of melting tenderness!

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Here’s another to make you drool!

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Bak Kut Teh dry: it was the first time one of our MFD agents heard about this. Instead of the usual pork served in delicious soup, this was served with thick sauce. And it tasted surprisingly good!

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The rice was special as well: It is cooked with fried shallots! The taste blended perfectly! Seconds please!

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Here is the ‘yao zha guai’, sort of like a breadstick, also known as Chinese crullers. Typically eaten by submerging it into the soup first before submerging it into the depths of your taste buds!

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Our extremely satisfying meal reduced to cleanliness! This MFD agent dare say I’m going back again for more soon!

This particular restaurant that we feasted in is called Restaurant Kee Heong @ Taman Eng Ann, which has been operating for over 30 years and has become a childhood memory for many adults who live in the area. Restaurant Kee Heong is loved for the aromatic herbal fragrance in its Bak Kut Teh broth. This is one scrumptious Bak Kut Teh broth that you can’t stop slurping, the perfect companion for Chinese crullers.

Breakfast!

Breakfast is the first meal taken after rising from a night’s sleep, (in essence, to break-your-fast) most often eaten in the early morning before undertaking the day’s work. Well, that’s the definition from Wikipedia.

As for Malaysians, breakfast (sarapan pagi) is one of our happiest hours (especially if it is the breakfast of a holiday!), and we’ve got a variety of breakfast available!

If you’re finding for a nice Malay cuisine for breakfast, 99% of Malaysians would suggest our favourite food of all time, also unofficially known as our national dish, Nasi Lemak!  For the benefit of those who are new, it is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and “pandan” leaf. Here are a few suggestions that our MFD agents has personally visited:

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Doesn’t this just makes you drool?

This particular Nasi Lemak is from Syed Bistro PJ (No. 13 & 15 Jalan Barat, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tel : 603-79555753), your typical mamak restaurant with a 24 hour service! However, Syed Bistro is more known for its Nasi Briyani, which is usually not a breakfast choice, but since we’re on the topic, a little picture wouldn’t hurt! 😉

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A super generous portion of Nasi Briyani! Comes with huge chicken/lamb, a while egg, some appetizing ‘accah’ and dhal!

Besides Syed Bistro, many other mamak restaurants out there offers Nasi Lemak but the degree of how good it is definitely varies on a large scale!

Another place we’ve visited for Nasi Lemak is at Seapark, popularly known as Nasi Lemak Bumbung. Take a look at the pictures!

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The artistically cooked egg placed on the roof of the fragrant rice gives it the name ‘bumbung’

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Happy eating duo hehe

The rice was beautiful, the chicken crispy yet tender and the main ingredient of the dish, the ‘sambal’ wasn’t too spicy, neither was it too mild. To our taste, it was just right! Topping it off with the beautiful teh tarik was just the most satisfying meal. However, this place opens during the night, so it might not be appropriate for breakfast.

For other suggestions on the best Nasi Lemak we would suggest you look into this link!

On to our brethren Indian cuisine for breakfast, we’ve got a wide selection of stuffs! Firstly, and most popular amongst the rakyat is our Roti Canai:

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Your typical Roti Canai

It is a type of Indian-influenced flatbread, where you can find it almost anywhere, as long as a mamak restaurant is there, there it will be! It is typically served in these silver trays. If you’re feeling adventurous, you may choose Roti Telur, Roti Bawang, Roti Cheese depending on the capabilities of your local mamak! Of course, Roti is not the only option in these places. Thosai, or Dosa is another popular choice! It is a fermented crepe or pancake made from rice batter and black lentils.

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Masala Thosai

And again, your thosai may be mixed with cheese, onions or egg, depending on the place!

Capati is another popular choice. Also a type of flatbread, but this one is unleavened, originated from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

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Capati with the chutney and a little sides. Good for all meals of the day!

If you are craving for some Chinese breakfast, here is the most traditional of all kinds:

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Half-boiled eggs, coffee, and steamed bread with Kaya and Butter!

You may find these in any Chinese hawker shops. For some, it takes them down memory lane. This simple breakfast that costs less than RM5.00 added the flavour of nostalgia to this agent of MFD. This particular picture comes from a hawker shop opposite Public Bank at Old Town, Petaling Jaya.

Other Chinese breakfast could be consumed for lunch too, if desired. A few examples are Wanton Mee:

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Typically served ‘guan low’-styled, (which suggests dry), with some honey roasted pork, ‘choi sam’ vegetable, and soup with ‘wantan’, dumplings

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Curry mee, thin yellow noodles or/and string thin mee-hoon (rice vermicelli) with spicy curry soup, chilli/sambal, coconut milk, and a choice of dried tofu, prawns, cuttlefish, chicken, egg, mint leaves and Cockle.

Curiously, curry mee is only found in Malaysia and Singapore. Curry laksa is another favourite (added with laksa soup base). Perhaps it is our special heritage of baba nyonya that gave birth to this special dish!

We are fine with eating light for breakfast, as suggested by our selection of Roti(s) in Mamaks. We are also fine with a nice, big portion of chicken for breakfast, maybe a good fried chicken to top with our Nasi Lemak, or a moderate ones such as a bowl of noodles. Klang’s residences even have Bak Kut Teh for breakfast (a dish which will be highlighted in a separate post), which is rather heavy for the morning. Anything is fine! Everything is loved!

For our multi-racial, multi-cultural society, unity is an ideal that is difficult to achieve, however, if we’re on the topic of breakfast, this website, MFD, sincerely believes that the true integration of society is manifested most clearly here. When it comes to breakfast, we’re simple folks who enjoy every single type of it without any racial prejudices! 😉

Capital Nasi Dagang Kelantan @Damansara Uptown

I always find it interesting that most KL-ites share a degree of unawareness about the other states of Malaysia, despite our inherent kinsmenship (Selangor’s the obvious exception, Melaka and Penang too).  Ask them what are the signature dishes that represent Kelantanese cuisine, and you’d most likely get a blank stare (maybe if you’re lucky, your reciprocant might say something along the lines of ‘rice….?’).  Entirely understandable really, considering I am one of those people too =P.

Still, this perhaps-unforgivable ignorance is the reason my curiousity was piqued when I passed by a store claiming to sell some authentic Kelantanese nasi dagang.  The store in question was rather aptly named as Capital Nasi Dagang Kelantan.  Which lead to a brief internal struggle: Hmm… nasi dagang for lunch?  Sure, why not?

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This place has been around for about a year now; the store owner is a Kelantanese Chinese, who brought over her expertise in making nasi dagang to us folks here in Damansara.  Whether intentionally or not, the floor is worn with wear, and the tables built with classic marble lends to that old coffeeshop feel.  The menu, it seems, was not spared from a similar treatment.

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It soon becomes rather obvious that this place is solely focused on their nasi dagang (I suppose the signboard was a dead giveaway).  The main choice here lies in the meats that you choose to accompany the nasi, of which they have 5 options:  gulai ikan tongkol, beef rendang, curry chicken, prawn or sotong.  We went for two of the more traditional choices, the ikan tongkol and rendang; add some ayam percik as a side dish (one of us was feeling peckish), and we awaited our meal in trepidated eagerness.

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This, in essence, is nasi dagang.  Brown-coloured glutinous rice topped under a dollop of fish curry, with red hot sambal, pickled cucumbers and ikan masin as sides.  The sambal in particular is fantastic, very spicy and grounded in an unmistakable shrimp base.  As for the mains, the beef rendang was tender and slightly sweet, while the ikan tongkol, well…. it tastes remarkably like sardines.  I’ve got no qualms with it though, nor with the entire dish; it turned out to be a decent meal with a good deal of interesting things to munch on.

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Lets not forget the ayam percik, which was equally as interesting, yet significantly more underwhelming (on second thoughts, let’s forget the ayam percik…).  I say this because while I find the sauce highly unusual – a peanutty taste reminding me of satay dip, it ultimately didin’t live up to my (perhaps lofty) expectations.

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Cheers 😉

I guess the word ‘interesting’ best sums up our visit here.  There was not a single element of our lunch which I could say I wasn’t surprised, intrigued and occasionally wtf-ed by.  Yet let’s not forget that these dishes are not alien by any means – journey east to Kelantan and you’d probably find them sold on every street available.  At the end of the day, it’s turns out to be a heartening fact that despite how often we think we know about Malaysian food (roti canai, nasi lemak and all that jazz), there’s really another thirteen other states filled with entirely new cuisines for us to discover.

Diversity? Hell yeah.

Fruit Salad-“Rojak”

The term “rojak” has come to mean “mixed”, a reference to the many different types of fruit and vegetables that can be tossed into the salad. It’s also referred as “rojak nation” would be one with a plural society of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural people. That’s us, folks.
When we gather, we do speak a language which comes to be known as “bahasa rojak” or rojak language that has combined with all Malays, mandarin and English elements. But surprisingly, people have no problem understanding. That’s the reason why “rojak” should be upheld as a nation dish.

However, there are some variation of rojak due to the influential effects in different states.

Here’s a Penang rojak

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It is similar to fruit rojak, but adds jambu air, guava, squid fritters and honey to the mixture.
The sauce used for the rojak is tended to be thicker as compared to other rojak.

Fruit Rojak

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Fruit rojak consists typically of cucumber,pineapple, benkoang (jicama), bean sprouts, taupok (puffy, deep-fried tofu) and youtiao(cut-up Chinese-style fritters) mixing up with water, belacan (shrimp paste), sugar, chili, and lime juice .However, normally the ingredients will be varied from different vendors .
Most of the ingredients are cut into smaller bite-sized portions which are easier to be eaten with a stick.

Indian/ Mamak Rojak

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It contains fried dough fritters, bean curds, boiled potatoes, prawn fritters, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts, cuttlefish and cucumber mixed with a sweet thick, spicy peanut sauce .
So, it is sweet and sour taste which can irritate your taste bud with fresh fruity smell.

Recommended places for having rojak :
1. Hock Seng Rojak @ Macallum Flat on Cecil Street, Penang
2. Restoran Gurney Delight, Kota Kemuning ,shah alam, selangor.
3. Bukit Cina, Malacca, Melaka, Malaysia

Images from:
http://www.karangkraf.com
http://www.mbg.com.my

Penang Laksa @ Ayer Itam

A few weeks ago, another MDF agent visited Pulau Pinang, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca, a thriving tourist destination and home to famous street food! The mention of Penang brings forth many ideas of food, but one of the main ones that comes to mind is Penang Laksa.

There are a few places in Penang where its laksa is said to be the best, amongst the many, with popular agreement is the laksa at Pasar Air Itam.2011-04-24 13.15.07

Oh its legendary, a business handed down for 30 years through the generations, the taste never wavering, the price varied only slightly. Located at a market area, beside a drain, you will find this:

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The work of assembling all the ingredients to create a bowl. Quick service!

What’s Penang laksa? Penang laksa is also known as asam laksa from the Malay for tamarind, comes from the Malaysian island of Penang. It is made with mackerel (ikan kembung) soup and its main distinguishing feature is the asam or tamarind which gives the soup a sour taste. The fish is poached and then flaked. Other ingredients that give Penang laksa its distinctive flavour include lemongrass, galangal (lengkuas) and chilli. Typical garnishes include mint, pineapple slices, thinly sliced onion, ‘ha-ko’, a thick sweet prawn paste and use of torch ginger.

Upon arrival, you will find a row of tables ready for customers, but you will also notice that it is usually fully occupied! The place is very popular and people come and go really quick!

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A beautiful bowl of Penang Laksa

And this is the reason why. One bowl of these babies cost RM3.50 and for our agent at MDF, one bowl is not enough. Easily two bowls per visit because all the flavours are just stunningly balanced, allowing your brain to convince your tummy to get another one.

Our agent visited the area around noon-time, when the sun was scorching hot. There are other stalls along the side, selling drinks and other add-ons, which was a complement to the laksa.

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A refreshing cup of ‘air tebu’, or sugarcane drink!

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We noticed that the uncle who sells sugarcane drink doesn’t stop his operations, similar to the Penang laksa stall! And rightly so!

Also other stalls sold Lor Bak, (卤肉) which is actually marinated minced pork, then roll in thin soybean sheets and then deep fried. Usually served with small bowl of Loh (a thick broth thickened with corn starch and beaten eggs) and chili sauce. And that was just the cherry on top of a great cake!

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Lor Bak! So crisp, so tender, so beautiful!

Besides those add-ons, one of the stalls sold Muar Chee, a dessert-like cuisine with sticky glutinous rice balls coated in a sweet mixture of pulverized peanuts. That was just the final hit in the mark of a glorious lunch!

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Muar Chee, coated with that nice peanuts. It’s best eaten right away because it tends to get hard

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One of chinese most loved dish, Penang laksa, reduced to its final state. *blurp*

(some pictures and information referenced from http://tastyornot.blogspot.com/ and wikipedia.com)

Gerai: The Food Loft @Centrepoint

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Gerai: The Food Loft is a cozy little restaurant tucked away in the corner of Centrepoint, a cozy community mall tucked away in the corner of Bandar Utama (which is cozy for a given definition of ‘cozy’).  Their restaurant’s concept is to serve traditional Malaysian favourites with an occasional modern twist.

I came to this place because I was feeling lazy that day and Gerai was the nearest place that served half-decent food.  It turns out I was in luck, as they had something very unique as part of their daily special.

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Red wine mee sua is a very traditional dish that originates from Foo culture.  Just FYI, this isn’t the red wine you’re thinking about; its made using Chinese red wine (‘Ang Jiu’), which is derived from red rice yeast extract.  As said before, I’ve always had a crippling weakness to mee sua, so to get the chance to try this classic dish was a real treat.

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The first thing that immediately hits you is the broth – heavily infused with a strong ginger taste, self-evident from the piles of ginger found at the bottom of the bowl.  There were large chunks of chicken floating in the soup, along with a single boiled egg;  I believe it is supposed to signify a person growing one year older (although I might just be making this stuff up).  All this results in a very ‘hitty’ dish, the sort which is typically served to mothers in confinement*.

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Indeed, the mee sua was wholly prepared with great authenticity, which is what this restaurant is known for.  If you were to order their signature hainanese steam chicken rice, the dish would not appear out of place served at a sleepy small town Chinese coffeeshop.  Gerai just offers a better ambience for us to dine in, while keeping the key elements of the dish intact**.

As for me, the only thing I’m gutted about is: why is this not a regular menu dish?  I wouldn’t mind ordering it for my next three visits, if only because it allows me to feel like I’m coming home to a deliciously prepared bowl of mee sua on the table.  Why wouldn’t I?IMG_20141018_150205

You can find Gerai: TFL at the community mall Centrepoint in Bandar Utama.  It’s the last store at the end, bordering the evil frontier of McDonalds.

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* In Chinese culture, after giving birth the mother has to enter confinement, which we can say is a mixture of being under house arrest, a no-hygiene zone, and having your food cooked by a platoon of Chinese auntie relatives – often of the very gingery sort.  Go google it.

** Of course, some of us might prefer the dirt-caked walls of a REAL coffeeshop, preferably sprinkled with the odd cockroach here and there.

Choong Kee Kampar Claypot Rice @Damansara Jaya

“Claypots. They make everything better.”

~ Some wise guy studying in HELP

The art of claypot cooking was brought over from the region of southern China. As Chinese immigrants flocked to what was then-known as Malaya, claypot meals evolved to become more sophisticated, more tasty, and way more lap cheong than was necessary, until we finally arrive at the classic claypot chicken rice we all know and love.  I personally subscribe to the theory that Chinese people love it because it reminds them of a giant bowl of rice.

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Facade of Choong Kee Kampar Claypot Rice

Cue Choong Kee Kampar Claypot Rice, where they have been perfecting the art of giant rice bowls for the rest of us to enjoy.  Ten years ago, Choong Kee was operating from a coffeeshop shed at the end of Damansara Jaya; today, they own a thriving shoplot (still at Damansara Jaya), its interior illuminated by bleach white lights and the glorious sizzle of pots waiting in line to be charcoal-burnt to perfection.  Well, perhaps less so this time as we arrived in the midst of a Malaysian-certified downpour.  Umbrellas thrusted aside, we sought the fabled claypot chicken rice.

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Note the green bucket used to store wet umbrellas in.

This is a place where their best, main and only dish is claypot chicken rice (aside from the fixtural vegetables and drinks).  And so, the usual question of “What do we eat today?” is replaced with much simpler alternatives:  “Salted fish or no salted fish?”  “Big or small?”  “Do you want your bowl filled with lap cheong?”  “Tambah egg?”

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Bean sprouts w/ salted fish

Speaking of vegetables, check out this dish we ordered – stir fried bean sprouts with a dash of salted fish.  The colour’s good, but in reality its blandness was only partially masked by the occasional bite of salted fish here and there.  But lets face it, we dont come here for their sprouts anyway.  Where it matters most, Choong Kee delivers.

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TAH. DAH.

Chicken. Rice. Soy sauce. Salted fish. Combined, they form a simple yet unabashedly tasty meal.  You shovel the first spoonful of rice onto your plate, and then the next, and then five minutes later you wonder where did all the rice go.  And its fantastic rice indeed, each granule distinctly individual from the thousands available in a single large claypot serving.  Chances are, you’ll eat every single one.

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Pure carcinogenic goodness, for a given value of goodness (and a fixed value of carcinogens)

Which is pretty much what I did.  Take it as a before and after comparison picture if you like.  I’d confess that I ate the burnt pieces too, but that’d just be weird right?

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With salted fish (foreground) and without salted fish (background). I dont know why I’m saying this, you can’t even tell the difference.

Thats not to say its flawless though.  Primarily, without the presence of the salted fish the second pot suffered from being a little too flat over multiple servings.  Still palatable of course, but anyone without a major salt allergy should include the salted fish in any order that you make.

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This is an extra picture. Wastage is the devil, as they say.

So there you have it, a cozy place where you can snuggle up to the next time you have cravings for rice pots, all in the vicinity of Damansara itself. Next thing you know we wont even have to go to KL for our pirated DVDs. Hope you guys enjoyed the read; it was written while I was in a particularly snarky mood (which makes it similar to about 80% of all romance novels ever published).

Ciao, and thanks~