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Hong Kong - Congee & Noodles at Tasty, IFC Mall, Central

Ah, pity - the old team was a pretty talented bunch.

about 7 hours ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Yung Kee Roast Goose re-visited

We were on the second floor - but the standard of roast goose now is as good as what they used to be many years back. A great improvement from my last visit 2 years back. It's now run by the younger brother, Ronald Kam's family.

The late elder brother, Kinsen Kam's two sons, Kevin & Hardy Kam now runs Kam's Roast Goose at G/F, Po Wah Commercial Center, 226 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai. However, this week's Time Out HK gave a not-so-good review of Kam's roast goose, saying it lacked the fragrance one usually finds in Yung Kee.

about 7 hours ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Mak's Noodles

Aren't you still in Seattle, Charles? Pop down to the International District there - I remembered there were quite a few good HK-style noodle shops in that area.

about 7 hours ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Mak's Noodles

My first time in the Wellington St shop was also quite an experience, too - 20 years ago, the dining room was crowded and grimy. My colleague and I shared a tiny round table about 2 feet in diameter with 4 other strangers. A basin filled with dirty dishes and soapy water was 6-inches from my feet!
I'd actually asked to go there and turned down my HK colleague's original suggestion - he had wanted to bring me to Nadaman @ Island Shangri-la for a Japanese sushi lunch. I actually like the Mak's noodle experience much better - something I can tell others about.

about 16 hours ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Mak's Noodles

The illustrious Mak's Noodles is almost synonymous with wanton noodles in HK. Although it started in HK in the late-60s, the Mak family's patriarch, Mak Woon-chi, was already well-known for his wanton noodles, which he sold in the streets in pre-Chinese civil war Guangzhou back in the 40s. A story in Frances Barnett's "Hong Kong on a Plate" (1997) recounted how Soong May-ling, the First Lady of the Republic of China and wife of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, loved Mak's noodles so much, she'd sit down on a small kerbside stool to have her wanton noodles, freshly-prepared by Mak Woon-chi, whilst her Kuomintang guards blocked both ends of the street to prevent any traffic coming in and disturb her meal. Apparently, she even invited Mak to cook at official functions - the old man will be chauffeur-driven in an official sedan, whilst his trusty little noodle cart will follow behind, ferried atop a Kuomintang army truck - the old man insisted he *must* cook using his noodle cart's brazier.

Anyhoo, the Mak family soon found themselves in HK in the aftermath of the Communist revolution which deposed Chiang Kai-shek. Well, China's loss was HK's gain, as the best-tasting wanton noodles in Guangdong landed in tiny Hong Kong.

Today, Mak's Noodles has expanded beyond its smallish, cramped "flagship store" on 77 Wellington St and its branches now dotted the city from Tsimshatsui to Causeway Bay.

Mak's noodles still come in their trademark "small bowl" - their noodles perfectly al dente, the soup stock delicate and subtle, the legendary wanton dumplings tiny and tasty, and to partake one is to "swallow a cloud", as its name suggested.

The beef noodle option was a good alternative, its soup stock gently fragrant with spices (Aniseed? Cassia bark?). You haven't experienced HK until you've tasted a bowl of Mak's noodles.

Address
========
Mak’s Noodles
77 Wellington Street
Central
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2854 3810

about 17 hours ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Yung Kee Roast Goose re-visited

This is one HK dining institution, if there ever was one - Yung Kee, the famous roast goose establishment on Wellington St, Central.

The 72-year-old restaurant still packs the crowd in each day, and one-hour waits are not uncommon, unless one has an advance reservation.

What we had:
- Century egg with pickled ginger - still the *best* I'd ever tasted anywhere. Loved their molten yolks.
- Stir-fried garoupa fillets with yellow chives, "gai lan" and carrots - perfectly executed with the delicate fish fillets just-cooked.
- "Char-siu" - flavoursome. Not the best in town, but nicely-textured with the requisite layers of fat in-between lean meat.
- Asparagus with minced garlic.
- Roast goose: definitely not the best in town anymore (even Yat Lok down the street boasts a tastier rendition), but the one we had tonight was perfectly-roasted, and much better than the one I had from my previous visit last year.
- Yangzhou fried rice: good, but the standard seemed to have dropped from the ones I had from previous visits - change of cooks?

Desserts were egg-tarts and mango pudding - standard Cantonese adaptation of Western desserts.

A bit of trivia: 32 seems to be the late founder, Kam Sui Fai's lucky number - the first Yung Kee restaurant was at 32 Wing Lok St in Sheung Wan (1942), then 32 Pottinger Street in Central (1944) before landing on the current address, 32 Wellington Street in 1964. There's a much-publicised family feud going on for the past couple of years between the 3rd-generation Kam family over the control of the family-owned holding company.

But whilst Hongkongers seemed a bit turned off by this, foreign visitors seemed unperturbed. The evening I was there, we were surrounded by what I can describe as the Chinese diaspora - all ethnic Chinese diners, but speaking Indonesian, Thai and various Chinese dialects from Mainland China. Yung Kee will definitely continue to thrive with this new generation of fans from all over the Asia-Pacific region instead of local HKers.

Address
========
Yung Kee
32-40 Wellington Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2522 1624

about 18 hours ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Congee & Noodles at Tasty, IFC Mall, Central

Tasty @ IFC Mall opens at 11am. I found that quite a number of traditional Cantonese places, even smaller ones which serves congee in the esrly morning, only starts offering wanton noodles around 11am - I surmise that they obtain their fresh noodle stock in the late mornings from wholesalers or producers who dominate the market.

Cooked pomelo skin has a texture somewhat similar to eggplant, but the fermented shrimp bit may be an acquired taste for folks who haven't tried that before.

about 18 hours ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Congee & Noodles at Tasty, IFC Mall, Central

Few chains in HK (or anywhere else for that matter) can actually garner so much plaudits from foodies. Tasty in HK is one of those rare ones, and its popular branch at the lofty IFC mall in HK's Central district is perpetually packed with diners due to its central location.

What we had:
- Century egg with pickled ginger - not a good rendition here. For the best, go to Yung Kee on Wellington St.
- Pan-fried turnip cake with preserved meats - definitely the best version I'd tried in HK for a long time. The turnip cake has that elusive smooth, custardy texture which many dim sum houses tried to achieve, but few succeeded. Whether by sheer talent or fluke, this one we had here today was stupendous.
- Spicy pork on egg noodles - I don't quite take to this dish (it was ordered by a Singaporean dining companion - and I think she did it by mistake as she'd wanted a wanton noodle). The pork strips were bathed in a sweet-slightly spicy sauce reminiscent of the Singapore chilli crab sauce. But what's good for the crab is not quite suitable for the pork.
- Pork & pig's offal rice congee - a delight. Obviously, Tasty does their congee very, very well: smooth, pearly white and flavoursome. The pig's stomach, liver and intestines were nice, but the kidney wasn't properly prepared and the smell was overwhelming. Small glitch.
- Braised pomelo skin topped with preserved shrimp roe - my fave Cantonese dish in the whole wide world. Unfortunately, the version here was overly-salty and flavours were unbalanced - coming across as bitterish. The pomelo's texture was slightly firmer than it should be. For better renditions, I'd go to Fu Sing, Tim's Kitchen or, my fave for the moment, Pang's Kitchen.
- Steamed "har-gow" (shrimp dumplings) - good, but not outstanding.
- Fried rice with egg-white and conpoy - very well done, with perfect texture.
- Stewed beef and tendons on egg noodles - superb, the long-steweed beef was simply exquisite. I'd come back to Tasty just for this dish.

Address
========
Tasty Congee & Noodles Wantun Shop
Shop 3016-3018 Podium Level 3, IFC Mall
1 Harbour View St, Central
Hong Kong

about 20 hours ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia
1

Macau - Egg tarts from Lord Stow's, Coloane Village

This creamy, delicious Macanese take on the Portuguese pastéis de nata is a must-have when one visits Macau. And the name oft-mentioned in Macau when one talks about Portuguese egg tarts must be Lord Stow's Bakery in the tiny village of Coloane.

Served hot from the ovens, the flaky, buttery pastry combined well with the creamy-rich custard. Lord Stow's version is not overly-sweet like some renditions one gets elsewhere. Copycats about all over Macau and neighbouring Hong Kong, but Lord Stow's stood out with the smooth, delicate texture of its custard.

Address
========
Lord Stow's Bakery
1 Rua Da Tassara
Coloane Town Square
Macau

about 20 hours ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Newbie Tom Kah Gai questions

Oh yes, straw mushrooms are definite plus!

about 21 hours ago
klyeoh in Home Cooking

CANLIS - A 'Very Mixed' experience!

So looks like you're wowed more by the front of the house folks than by the kitchen, Charles.

about 21 hours ago
klyeoh in Greater Seattle

Newbie Tom Kah Gai questions

The chilli oil is optional, really - most Thais pop a couple of small bird's eye chillies (habaneros) into the soup (but which you can remove prior to serving, in case you accidentally bite into one).

Lmeongrass, galangal & kaffir leaves are central to the recipe (as is coconut milk) - you can strain those out prior to serving if you want.

Basil leaf is not a necessity.

about 22 hours ago
klyeoh in Home Cooking

Macau - Macanese lunch at Antonio's

Very satisfying, substantial lunch at Antonio's in Taipa. The food is lighter and more refined than the more rustic renditions over at A Lorcha and Litoral. What we had:

- Caldo Verde com Chouriço (Traditional Portuguese Green Cabbage Soup) - subtly-flavoured.
- Pastéis de Bacalhau (Fried Codfish Cakes) - superb here, best I'd tasted in Macau.
- Chouriço Caseiro Assado na Canoa (Grilled Homemade Portuguese Sausage) - flambeed tableside, which was interesting. Tastewise - good, but don't really have the "wow" factor.
- Salada de Polvo Português (Portuguese Octopus Salad) - blandish, but the octopus had the perfect texture.
- Arroz de Marisco à "António" (Wet Seafood Rice "Antonio" Style - crab, mussel, clams meat, prawns, served in a ceramic pot) - delish. Best thing I'd tasted in Macau for this trip.
- Galinha à Africana com Batata Gratinada e Salada Mista (African Chicken with Garlic, Onions, Chili, Ginger and Desiccated Coconut Sauce, served with Gratinated Potatoes and Mixed Salad) - very tasty, and blew the versions I previously loved at A Lorcha out of the water.

Very good service, charming atmosphere.

Address
=========
Antonio’s, Rua Dos Negociantes No. 3
Taipa, Macau
Tel: +853 2899-9998

1 day ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Breakfast at the Mido Cafe

Yup, you noticed - baked rice topped with pork chop in Macanese sauce.

1 day ago
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Kuala Lumpur - A&W: The First Fast Food Brand in Malaysia

You made the right decision, Jon.

A&W Malaysia in its early years (1960s) was closer to its American origins. But now, it's pretty much what you found in Indonesia: halal version with pork replaced by beef (too bad for the sizeable Hindu populace in Malaysia), gherkins removed (the local Malays never took to it), the size of the patty reduced, sugar content in drinks pumped up, etc.
Malaysia is in the *only* country in South-east Asia where 90% of the restaurants I'd been to do *not* have Diet Coke or Coke Zero - Malaysians *love* their sugar!

Jul 28, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Breakfast places in Hong Kong and Kowloon

Australian Dairy Company on 47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan. Despite its name, it's *very* HK - opens from 7.30am for breakfast. Try the macaroni soup with ham.

The popular items in there are the steamed egg desserts.

Jul 28, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Breakfast at the Mido Cafe

Mido Cafe is perhaps HK's best-preserved retro "cha chaan teng" (traditional HK teahouse-cafe), having even been featured in the iconic 1960 film, "The World of Suzie Wong".

Having breakfast here is like stepping back in time: the cafe still retains its tiled floors and booths with formica-topped tables, its menu items seemed stuck in a time-warp. We ordered:
- "Bo lo bao" with butter
- Ham-and-omelette toasted sandwich
- French toast, slathered with butter and syrup
- Crisp wanton skins with pig offal in sweet-sour sauce
- Eggplant-and-pork fried "yee fu" noodles
- HK-style milk tea
The food was passable, not outstanding. But one comes here to experience what an old HK cafe feels like, and for that, there's no beating Mido Cafe.

Address details
================
Mido Cafe
63 Temple St
Yaumatei, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2384 6402

Jul 28, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Shun Tak-style Dinner at Pang's Kitchen, Happy Valley

Wished you were here with us, Charles :-)

Jul 28, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Breakfast places in Hong Kong and Kowloon

The old Mido Café at 63 Temple St, Yaumatei, opens at 8.30am. Serves HK-style breakfast items like macaroni soup and pork-chop on fried rice. Try their milk tea.

Jul 27, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong - Shun Tak-style Dinner at Pang's Kitchen, Happy Valley

1-Michelin-starred Pang's Kitchen, a tiny family-owned casual eatery in Happy Valley serves up some pretty rustic, robust fare reminiscent of its owners' Shun Tak roots. I found its offerings to be a bit "different" from those offered in other family-style casual eats around HK - this one seems to hint that its owners have perhaps lived or worked overseas - maybe London or New York Chinatown? It was a busy evening last night, so we didn't have a chance to ask owner Pang Pak-sheung (friendly chap) who looked pretty busy in the packed restaurant.

What we had:
- Pang's Kitchen appetisers: mashed yam fritters, freshwater fish & shrimps fritters and deep-fried soft tofu. These were common in Shun Tak (Shunde) cuisine and done pretty well here.
- Braised pomelo skin topped with shrimp roe: which is my favourite Cantonese dish of all time! I'd had good ones in Fu Sing, Tim's Kitchen and The Chairman, and the one here is every bit as good. (P.S. - Avoid this dish at Tasty Noodle & Congee outlets - their version's nasty)
- Fish intestines omelette - another Shun Tak-inflected dish, simple and yet satisfying. The fresh eggs & sweet onions, combined with generous ribbons of fish intestines, provided a burst of flavours and contrasting textures which I absolutely enjoyed.
- Fried milk with scallops: another classic dish done very, very well here.

We ordered the sweet-sour pork with strawberries out of curiousity from the concatenated English version of the menu, since it was the oft-mentioned dish by some reviewers and also noted in the Michelin-guide. It was pretty average, and one of the dishes which betrays its owner/chef's previous experience working in the West. We seemed to be the only table which ordered this, as the other diners were all local-Cantonese, and most seemed to opt for the Shun Tak-style fried pork with crispy garlic. Obviously, they know where the chef's forte lies.

Michelin seems to have different rating standards for Hong Kong - where else can one pay HKD750 (USD97) for dinner for 4 persons?!

Address details
================
Pang's Kitchen (彭慶記)
G/F, 25 Yik Yam Street, Happy Valley
(跑馬地奕蔭街25號地下)
Tel: +852 2838 5462

Jul 27, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Kuala Lumpur - Malay Traditional "Hari Raya" Food Items

True - hygiene standards in Malaysia are pretty debatable. But most Malaysians these days don't prepare "rendang" at home anymore - more Malay women working outside instead of being home-makers. Furthermore, "rendang" preparation is tedious and time-consuming: requiring long periods of slow-simmering and constant stirring. Not surprised that many opt to buy instead of preparing at home.

Back in Singapore, I remembered that our Malay neighbour used to have fresh turmeric leaves ("daun kunyit") plucked from their garden for the purpose of making "rendang". These days, I'd not even seen fresh turmeric leaves in the markets there. I think KL's Chow Kit market has them, although it's been 3 years since I made a trip down there.

Jul 23, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Kuala Lumpur - Malay Traditional "Hari Raya" Food Items

Beef Rendang, with Lemang and Ketupat Palas:

Jul 23, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia
1

Kuala Lumpur - Malay Traditional "Hari Raya" Food Items

The Muslim Ramadhan month is coming to an end in 4 days' time, to be followed by Eid ul-Fitr or, as it's called in Malaysia, "Hari Raya Aidil-Fitri", on Monday, 28 July 2014.

In the meantime, traditional, celebratory Malay-Muslim foods are already being sold all over the Kuala Lumpur-Klang Valley region, where 43% of its 7 million inhabitants are Muslims.

One of my fave Malay celebratory dish is the Beef "Rendang" (an insanely fragrant & tasty dry beef curry), accompanied by "Lemang" (steamed rice, wrapped in banana leaves and compacted in bamboo tubes, then grilled). The best commercially available version I'd found in KL is the one sold by the Rendang Atuk stall at the ground floor main concourse, Mid-Valley Megamall.

Three types of rice-based dishes were offered:
- Ketupat Nasi (rice stuffed into woven baskets and par-boiled)
- Ketupat Palas (glutinous rice and black-eyed peas, wrapped in palm leaves and par-boiled)
- Lemang (Rice cooked in bamboo tubes)

Besides the Beef Rendang, the chicken version (Rendang Ayam) was also offered.

Other traditional foods on sale were spiced chicken and beef floss ("serondeng ayam" and "serondeng daging").

Jul 23, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Singapore - Street Food at Changi Airport Terminal 3

It just opened - I'd not had the chance to try them out yet.

Jul 21, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Hair found in the food...

GROSS!

Jul 21, 2014
klyeoh in Not About Food

Kuala Lumpur - A&W: The First Fast Food Brand in Malaysia

Sad news - the iconic A&W drive-in in PJ will close down in December this year, with two office towers to be built on the site.

Jul 21, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Singapore - Street Food at Changi Airport Terminal 3

Afraid not.

Jul 21, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Singapore - Street Food at Changi Airport Terminal 3

Good news for Singapore street food fans - if you haven't had a chance to taste some of Singapore's popular street foods during your visit to Singapore, or merely transiting through the airport, you now have a chance to try them at stalls managed by some of Singapore's best-known street food hawkers at Changi Airport itself.

There'll be a Singapore Food Street section at Changi Airport Terminal 3. Most of the 13 stalls there are branches of hawker outlets which household names in Singapore:
- Changi Village Nasi Lemak
- East Coast Lagoon BBQ Seafood
- Old Airport Road Fried Kway Teow & Carrot Cake
- Odeon Beef Noodles
- Tiong Bahru Meng Kee Roast Duck
- Sin Ming Road Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh
- Jalan Tua Kong Minced Pork Noodle
- Bugis Street Hainanese Chicken Rice
- East Coast Lagoon Fried Rice Noodle
- Newton Circus Satay/Satay Bee Hoon
- E-Sarn Thai Corner
- Kampong Cafe
- Singapore Food Street Beverage Stall

Jul 21, 2014
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia
2

[Dunvegan, Isle of Skye] Three Chimneys

Always wanted to go there. I've only got the beautiful Three Chimneys cookbook - a gift from a Scottish aunt (she's from Perth) who dined there and absolutely loved the place.

Jul 20, 2014
klyeoh in U.K./Ireland

Mumbai street food in the UK

There's a Kailash Parbat branch in Singapore, too. They're good.

Jul 18, 2014
klyeoh in U.K./Ireland