JB Durian trip

It’s that time of the year again! While you can enjoy Durian just about anywhere throughout Malaysia and Singapore, the best place in the world to enjoy Durian has got to be my hometown, SS2 Petaling Jaya. You get the best prices and the best variety here, sourced from the mountainous areas in Pahang. Just for comparison, the price of the Mao Shan Wang (MSW) variety in SS2 is RM30-45 per kg, but in JB, it is around RM50. I guess the proximity to Singapore drives prices up. Continue reading JB Durian trip

North-South Highway lunch stop – Pagoh

Pagoh is a very small town, with its commercial centre stretching over just 500m or so. When driving towards JB from KL, Pagoh is after Tangkak and before Yong Peng, making it a suitable candidate as a lunch stop, since it takes slightly over 2 hours to get to Pagoh.

Being the very small town that it is, choices are limited as expected. There are probably no more than 10 eateries in total if you actually combed the entire area. I settled on Gao Yuan Seafood that was almost the only place with an online presence.

Gao Yuan Seafood, tucked away in a corner away from the main crossroad
Gao Yuan Seafood, tucked away in a corner away from the main crossroad

Continue reading North-South Highway lunch stop – Pagoh

North-South Highway lunch stop – Tangkak

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For the longest time, Yong Peng has been the de-facto choice as the lunch stop en-route from KL to Singapore. The taste has become too familiar and a change is desperately needed. I looked up Google maps to see which towns are just off the highway. Tangkak turned out to be a good candidate.

Tangkak is about 2 hours from KL, slightly nearer than Yong Peng. We usually arrive at Yong Peng around 130-2pm, which is kind of late for lunch, so Tangkak works well for those times when we depart from KL slightly late. Today, we departed KL around 1030am, made a quick stop at Seremban to pick up some Siew Pau and arrived at the planned Tangkak eatery around 1230pm. As with Yong Peng, Tangkak town is only a few km off the North-South Highway. Continue reading North-South Highway lunch stop – Tangkak

Malaysia destinations – Negeri Sembilan highlights

Port Dickson is probably more well known than Seremban, the capital of Negeri Sembilan, for a good reason. There’s next to nothing of interest in Seremban other than Seremban Siew Pau (baked pork bun). At least, the Siew Pau is really good. I took the recommendation of someone who’s lived in Seremban a long time and bought the Siew Pau from Warong Seremban Siew Pow (1607, Jalan Rasah, minutes from North-South Highway exit 219), which is under the same company as the better-known one called Empayar. This was probably one of their older premises.

Continue reading Malaysia destinations – Negeri Sembilan highlights

Hometown food discovery mission

Every trip back to my hometown in the Klang Valley is a food discovery mission. First mission target: Kedai Kopi Taman Eng Ann. The last time I attempted a visit, it was closed for the day. I’m back with a vengeance, so to speak, and was not disappointed this time round.

200ml of bliss
200ml of bliss

I ordered kopi right away. Well, i believe it was the best kopi I have had. It has the right mouthfeel – thickened evenly with coffee and sweetened condensed milk. Afterwards, you are rewarded with a lingering aromatic aftertaste, the best one I have experienced to date. To me, the aftertaste is what sets it leaps and bounds above its competition.

Slimy kopi that sticks to the cup is evidence of a good thick cup of kopi
Slimy kopi that sticks to the cup is evidence of a good thick cup of kopi

I got to know this place through Motornouth’s blog post, and have since vowed to visit, as it is said to be one of ten highly regarded kopitiams in Malaysia. With more than half a century of history, they must be doing something right. Not to be missed also are the toasted bread with kaya spread and butter, served Klang style, where you have to spread the kaya yourself.

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The bun seems to be preferable to the toast

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2.5 days of food devouring in Kuching

December is not a good time for a holiday in Kuching. It is the wettest month of the year, and food stall owners go for their holiday during this time! I found out, the sad way, that Poh Lam (Chong Choon cafe) and Sin Lian Shin were closed during my time in Kuching. They are both considered “legendary” for serving Laksa and Kolo Mee respectively. While I haven’t sampled their food, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t disappoint, and I suggest you visit them if you’re in Kuching for food.

Of the places i visited, 3 are must tries:

1. Noodles Descendents – hands down the best noodles. They serve the same curly noodles used for Kolo Mee, but the gravy is totally different and unique. It is vinegarish, something quite unexpected at first bite. It immediately grabs your attention and entices you for the second bite, and before you know it, you will down the entire bowl of noodles. Unlike Kolo Mee, the gravy isn’t oily, which really encourages you to have another bowl (believe me you will). The noodles are cooked to perfection – not soggy nor overly crunchy, with care taken to have it served warm. I think nobody minds the slightly long waiting time for the food when it is this good.

As for the soup (called Zheng), it tastes bland initially, but as you dig deeper, you will get to the preserved vegetable that is mixed with the minced meat, and that basically takes over in the flavour department. The soup becomes tasty, but it gets rather salty as well. It is not bad, but not fantastic either. If I were to come here again, I’ll just order one small bowl of the soup, to be shared, and as many bowls of the noodles as I can stomach (likely 3).

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The very first thing that came in contact with my taste buds after landing in Kuching, Teh C. Kuching is very much like Hong Kong, being milk tea drinkers. No offence, but the coffee in Kuching are weak and milky.
The best noodles in Kuching is not Kolo mee
The best noodles in Kuching is not Kolo mee
Zheng. The noodles is good enough to be had on its own but having a bowl of soup to go along does give a slightly extra kick
Zheng. The noodles is good enough to be had on its own but having a bowl of soup to go along does give a slightly extra kick

Continue reading 2.5 days of food devouring in Kuching

Kuching sightseeing and souvenirs

Sarawak is bestowed with many natural wonders, especially caves. While not near to the Mulu cave, there are other caves and national parks near Kuching that are worth visiting. The most visited national park near Kuching is probably Bako. I decided to skip Bako, partly due to the difficulty of getting there (boat trip required). Instead, i was planning to visit Gunung Gading National Park, to try to see the Rafflesia, and Fairy Cave. These are located to the west of Kuching, so, combined, they make for a nice day trip.

Unfortunately, there was no Rafflesia in bloom while i was in Kuching, so i changed plans and visited Mount Singai instead. There is a Catholic pilgrimage centre some distance up Mount Singai, though the centre itself isn’t really the attraction. Rather, the climb up to the centre is the attraction, and truly a pilgrimage for anyone who undertakes it. It is quite a workout to scale the stairs, and honestly speaking, there isn’t a whole lot to see on the way up, but i think there is still just about enough in the overall experience to make it a worthwhile visit.

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Stairs made of red wood which is supposedly very hard and water resistant
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A picturesque point. The mountain is full of bamboo
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The pilgrimage fittingly is marked by crosses bearing depiction of stations of the cross
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Jackfruit tree
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Autumn colours
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The Catholic pilgrimage centre

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Eateries in SS2

There are so many eateries in SS2, the area that is my hometown, it will take months just to try them all. This time round, I made my maiden visits to Chan Meng Kee, a restaurant specializing in roast meat, as well as Le Bread Days, a bakery cafe i came across on Facebook.

Chan Meng Kee is famous for their Char Siew. The Char Siew was very good indeed. Characteristics of good Char Siew – good mix of fat and lean meat, juicy and soft lean meat, well marinated, having the right level of sweetness in the maltose coating, and finally sufficiently charred but not burnt. Chan Meng Kee’s Char Siew satisfies all these requirements. It still does not match up to my all time favourite Char Siew though, at Hee Lai Ton, where the fat and lean portions are intertwined and almost indistinguishable. I think that the chefs at Hee Lai Ton are truly experts at picking out and slicing up the pork to make Char Siew. It is also better charred. Anyway, these chefs who do the Char Siew at Hee Lai Ton are only there on Sunday morning, with a special stall set up. I suppose the extra attention given to the preparation of a smaller batch of Char Siew results in better Char Siew, as compared to Chan Meng Kee’s which is mass produced for a very large number of customers. Having that said, Chan Meng Kee’s Char Siew is very satisfying and better than most.

Char Siew
Char Siew

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Where to get breakfast in JB before hitting North-South Highway

This is written specifically for Singapore drivers heading up north to the North South Highway via the causeway. The focus is not so much on seeking out good food but on convenience – to have breakfast at locations near the entry points to the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) which is the most convenient way to get onto the North South Highway.

The oldest parts of town is usually a good place to find food, and in JB this happens to be just beyond the causeway. For years, my go-to kopitiam for breakfast had been Agape. Here you will find delicious chicken rice (Sin Bee Hiang) and a stall selling the staple of JB – Kway Teow Kia. Both stalls are excellent. Agape is closed on Mondays, so i need alternatives in case i come on a Monday. In Taman Pelangi, where Agape is located, there are quite a few eateries along Jalan Sri Pelangi, including Moonlight Cake House, if you’re in the mood for western or confectionery. To get to Agape or Jalan Sri Pelangi, make a right turn into Jalan Kuning from Jalan Tebrau. After breakfast, to get onto EDL, continue along Jalan Kuning and turn right into Jalan Serampang.

Pelangi

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Maxis Hotlink – prepaid data for travelers

This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide on using Maxis Hotlink prepaid data. Rather, I will just be sharing what I learned from experience. Maxis Hotlink is probably the easiest SIM card to get hold of in Malaysia, and it does have the widest coverage, so it is recommended for travellers.

I have been using Hotlink prepaid for about 2 years, topping up the same SIM card whenever I enter Malaysia (every 3 months or so), and it was working fine that way. Unfortunately, the SIM card expired after an interval of more than 3 months without doing any top up. I never actually tracked the expiry date of the SIM card and I was presumptuous that I could keep using it. Anyway, I got a replacement SIM card. Guess what? It expired again. When that happens you’re forfeited of all the credit you had in the account. Darn, I need to understand how it works!

If you’re visiting Malaysia for just one time and won’t be back in the near future, then you need not be bothered about the expiry of the SIM card. In a gist, you pay RM10 for the #Hotlink starter pack, out of which you’re left with RM5 worth of credit. To be able to use the SIM card for anything at all, you will need to top up a minimum of RM10 to make the SIM activated, which to me is like a scam. Anyway, when you have done the top up, you get 10 active days with free basic Internet. Yes, you will have Internet access the moment you pop the SIM card into the phone.

You will now have RM15 of credit, which affords you a one week Internet pass (RM10). If you’re not staying in Malaysia for more than a week, you might as well utilize your credit to get an Internet pass, so you will have 4G speed (actual speed depends on location). You can also make use of the free 1GB of data given when you install and use the Maxis Red app. Continue reading Maxis Hotlink – prepaid data for travelers