Thursday, March 15, 2012

Penang Getaway: Day 1

Penang Island: Weekend getaway kicked start from Ipoh. Michael picked me up from Ipoh on a Friday morning. Before heading up north, we had our Dim Sum breakfast in Yoke Fook Moon and stopped for some drive through Funny Mountain Tau Fu Far.

It was a clear day.... We reached Penang Island around 2pm and we decided to checkin our hotel called B-suite. We had a short rest before proceeding with our food hunt. It was 4pm when we were looking for "lunch". We decided on some street food and we picked ROJAK. And from some sources, the roadside stall in Macallum Street seems to be famous.

We had a hard time searching for this street... It took almost more than half an hour rounding here and there.... and we are racing against time as the stall is said to close at 5pm. After some guided help with GPS and asking the locals, we finally found this stall, Hock Seng Rojak.

After all the hard work, let's see what is so special about this Rojak. For a road side stall, it was not cheap. RM6 for small, RM8 for medium, RM12 for big. We ordered 2 Medium size for "takeaway" as there was no place to dine in as the coffeeshop nearby is closing already.

A tupperware of hae-ko sauce is sprinkled with some powder said to be "dried squid powder" (or I believe its flavouring/MSG) before topping up with generous portion of  UNCRUSHED peanuts and fried dried shrimps. The items to be dipped includes sengkuang, cucumber, unripe mangoes, pineapples and not to forget brown sotong!!! No taugeh or prawn crackers are used in their version.

Look at how viscous is the haeko sauce! Even the peanuts and dried shrimps will not submerged in it. I even had a hard time "digging" out a piece of cucumber "sunken into quicksand". Tastewise... a totally different experience of Rojak! I believe they have the rights to self proclaim themselves as the Rojak King. Despite the higher than normal price, the sauce is something very unique and potent in flavour.

Spiciness can be adjusted to your preference and we opted just for "mild" level to avoid any stomach discomfort when indulging this with an empty stomach. Look at the ecstatic facial expression, enough said. Hock Seng Rojak was a rare gem worth hunting for! Ho jiak!!!

It was raining that evening and we were quite "aimless" as most of our food targets were "open air dining". We roamed and arrived in a wan tan mee stall which is said to be not bad as recommended by Joanne. Its just a corner shop next to New World Park. The main road is Jalan Burma and stall name is Maria's if I'm not mistaken.

Wan Tan Mee is surprisingly cheap in Penang. RM3 for small (single noodle), RM3.50 for medium (1 1/2 noodle) and RM 4 for big (double noodle). It comes with a few slices of Char Siew and 3 pieces of Wantan served together with the dried toss noodles. The additional bowl you see was the Sui Kow (Dumplings) at 80 cents per piece. Noodles has the "Q" factor (bouncy) but the Char Siew spoilt the day. I dislike pinkish skin "BBQ" meat which is heavily laden with artificial colouring. Good wantan noodles should be best coupled with greasy and slightly charred BBQ pork!

Not too bad of an "alas perut" pre-dinner after having rojak as our "lunch". It's only 6:30pm... and in the midst of the drizzle, we have plans to head up north to Gurney/ Batu Feringghi area, which initially we thought of saving that for our second night, since our hotel will be there.

But heck, as if Penang is very big.... on our drive up north of the island, we picked up some "apom"/pancakes. 40 cents per piece, these were great on a rainy day! Moist and warm with a slice of two of banana and "few pieces of corn", the pancake batter was very rich in coconut aroma!

After a so-so recommendation earlier on, Joanne made things up by introducing us to this seafood restaurant in Tanjung Tokong. It is just situated next to Tua Peh Kong temple, overlooking the sea. But too bad, it was still raining, else we would be sitting at the very edge of the restaurant in the open air, enjoying the sound of  the waves and sea breeze.

This place is famous for the seafood (duh!) and the salt baked ones are highly recommended. I'm not sure whether they have other ways of cooking it. 1kg of crabs (I opted for the "meat" species but "roe" species are also available) will get you around 5 averagely small size crabs. Without any marinade or sauce, they are cooked like how Ipoh Salted Chicken is prepared.

The prawns were cooked in the same manner. This is a portion of 500g which will get you slightly more than 10 pieces of medium sized prawns. You will get the original taste of the crabs and prawns. The flesh was succulent and bursting with the juices of the sea! Not at their tip top "freshest" state, if you are not accustomed to the "taste of the sea", you can always dip them in the chilli sauce provided. But for me, I prefer to enjoy them on their own using my bare fingers and sucking every morsel of flesh! The price to pay was just RM60+ (inclusive of drinks for 4)........... and also hands which smells like sea water despite thorough washing. =p

On the way back to our hotel, we passed by Gurney Drive and a sudden wave of cravings hit us out of nowhere for some light snack/street food. We had our takeaways of Mua Chee and Fried Chicken Skins to munch in the car.

Sinful and guilt laden street snack! Actually it was available in pasar malam nowadays. Just that I refrain from having them. Okay, I did had a piece... or two that night.

But I still prefer something sweet to end the night. Mua Chee was just average. This standard could be found almost everywhere. Besides having a slight feeling of being unsatisfied of eating, the fact that I am back in my hotel room at 9pm is simply disturbing. Something must be wrong with me to be on bed at 9+. And summore, I've came all the way here! *grabs phone and scroll down phonebook contacts*

Help was on the way after I dialed the "emergency number". Rescue car came and braced through the heavy rain and brought us to a food court in Greenlane for supper! It was warned that although the food court offered a myriad of food options, bear in mind that most of it are just of average standard.

Well, indeed they were some hit and misses. Perhaps it's more because of I'm not used to their way of preparing certain dishes. Take for example the Popiah. Filling wise, it was quite okay. But the version here is doused with some broth, causing it to be damn soggy! >.<

The Pie Tee proved to be a better snack and the crunchy shells saved the night!

The Char Kuay (fried radish cake) was okay. Nothing spectacular but indeed was palatable.

The Or Chien (Oyster Ommelette) which is said to be one of the "must eat dish" in Penang. A bit soggy and too moist, I prefer the egg being "well done". Oysters were quite small in size. No complaints. But no specific praises on this either.

Next is the Pasembor. Pasembor is a type of "Indian Rojak" whereby the fritters is a core of the dish and the sauce used is the chilli based "satay like" sauce. This looks like your average plate of Pasembor which can be found anywhere in Malaysia....

Until you see this photo. Yup, you can customize your ingredients in your plate of Pasembor. Besides fritters and crackers, you can choose fried taufu, sausages, fish balls, fish cakes to be in it. Shredded cucumber, sengkuang and potatoes are basic items which come with the sauce. Reminds me of the "lobak" concept...

The grilled Stingray was superb! The paste used for marinade has dried up and lightly charred. Eating the flesh with the "crumbs" of the paste was just so tasty. Dip the flesh into the sambal belacan cili for that extra kick! A big thank you for Kooi Pin and boyfie Gavin for treating me and Michael to a scrumptious supper. The amount of food for supper simply override the whole day's portion!

And now, I'm satisfied! *burps* The other 2 girls who wanted to be back to the hotel at 9pm will be envious of our supper! It's already 12:30am already... and I will be sleeping with a full stomach! =D

The spacious room in B-suite (RM135 a night) promised a very comfortable sleep! And that wraps up day 1........ and we are hoping to wake up at 7am the next day to continue exploring Penang. Stay tuned for write up on Day 2: Weekend Getaway in Penang! =D

Monday, March 12, 2012

Peranakan Mansion, Penang.

 Before I move on to the food I tried in Penang, let's take a break and focus more on something you won't read often.... the minority section of a travel log. Besides great food, Penang has well preserved heritage building, mostly situated in the heart of Georgetown. Without much dispute, Georgetown was listed to be one of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites back in 2007. Among many, Peranakan Mansion has played its part in contribution to this recognition.

 Opened from 10am to 5pm daily, they charge RM10 entrance fee. For a bigger group and prior notification, a guided tour can be arranged.

There are many antique furniture which are awell kept and preserved. I'm not surprised at all because the wood used were really good in quality, unlike those current ones now.

One of the entrance... From the brochure, it was mentioned that this place has undergone some slight refurbishments to retain back its former glory.

 You will be amazed by the carvings done meticulously on the wooden screen which separates the parlour and the other spaces of the house ....

 Gambling seems to be a favourite past time of the Nyonyas.

 The dining hall with the Oriental touch....

 This is the one with some Western influence injected to it.... European style teak furniture, Victorian ceramic figures, porcelain, glass and silverware are found in this setting.

A Shisha-like pipe.... likeaboss~

Some of the decorative ornaments displayed in glass cabinets. There were also some gold jewellery on display....

Then there are 3 different type of bedrooms upstairs. This is one of it - the Nyonya Bridal Chamber. You can see a lot of Western influence in this room... Like the table for tea time in the photo below.

The antique radio....

The make up table for the bride. Those were actually cosmetics which were used in those days.

No, this is not a Nyonya couple. I heard that there have been many couples who choose to have their wedding shooting done in this place for the "nostalgic" feel. You can check out their website to arrange for a booking to use the venue.

Modern photography versus photography in those days! Yup, this was their precious "DSLR"....

This photo was taken in another bedroom. These are traditional Nyonya clothing....

Some of the filming which took place here. The most prominent one was "The Little Nyonya" which not only shows the rich heritage of the Peranakans in architecture but also cultural influences in cooking... There was "Age of Glory 2" as well. Hehe... can you notice the cute Joey Leong in one of the posters? Wait a second, Age Of Glory got scenes from Nyonya/Peranakan setting mer? o.O

One more shot of the exterior of the building or rather "MUSEUM". Peranakan Mansion is located in Church Street, Georgetown. I depended fully on my GPS to find this place, rest assured that the streets in Penang are well identified with strategically placed signboards. If Melaka is too far from Ipoh, why not just come to Penang to drop by this place?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Valentine Day @ Euro House

Love is in the air.... Let me start this post with one of my famous Mandarin love song duet. =)

 The song is great and I slowly loop that in my play list as I'm typing this post. First phone: Atmosphere/Ambiance CHECKED! Clusters of pink, red and purple balloons decorated the whole ceiling and wall. Heart shaped balloons were given to couples.... and also "single" ladies.

 Booze CHECKED! Happy Hour rates CHECKED! RM60 for a Tower of Carlsberg draft before 7pm. From 7-9pm, its RM70 for a tower. RM80 for 9pm onwards. *humming to the tune of the song* I gotta feeling.... that tonight's gonna be a good night!

 Crazy bunch of friends... CHECKED! Don't be misled, they are attached, just that they have celebrated their V-day in advance. So they have time to gather and have a chill out with me!

Cute girl next door look waitress.... CHECKED. LOL... I shall not elaborated much on how my crazy friends really made me blush big time in front of her. They know I have soft spots for this type of girls. Hehe....

 Had this all in Euro House for this year's Valentine's Day. Initially we wanted to go for dinner in St Mike. But due to reservation problems and they only cater to set dinners only (no ala carte menu), we tried our luck with Euro House. Upon calling, they said most of the tables are reserved by phone booking, so only a small number of tables are allocated for walk-in dining. Upon arriving around 6+, the place was still quite empty.

But good thing that we arrived before the romantic couples turned up, resulting into prompt service and serving of our food. Two of us tried their set dinner. Priced at RM45, one get a Herb Goat Cheese Salad. with  tuile cracker and kiwi dressing, a main course and a complimentary "house wine" which was quite an awful tasting beverage. The salad was refreshing, the goat cheese being creamy, light and mildly spiced with herbs and salt.

 There are 2 main course to choose between Angus Tenderloin and Chargrilled Parrot Fillet. Both of friends do not take beef and opted for the fish. It was a substantial portion, juicy and fresh. Lemon butter sauce was drizzled on top of the fish which was lightly marinaded in herbs. A serving of Ratatouille (sauteed assorted vegetables, usually in tomato puree) and mashed potatoes were served as a bed for the fillet of fish. Well presented and tasted decent.

 We really like here for giving us the liberty to choose from the ala carte menu on V-day, unlike most places. One of my colleagues went for the creamy Cabonara-like pasta. This dish uses Linguine, served with de-shelled medium sized prawns and brocolli. This pasta is around RM20 if I'm not mistaken. I love the creamy sauce but not very fond of the "dry" and "flat" mouthfeel of Linguine. Still love Angel Hair the most....

I had almost the whole pizza on my own. The BBQ Chicken pizza (RM20) is full of smoked chicken breast, chicken ham and pineapple on a BBQ sauce glazed dough, with melted mozarella cheese. The crust is very thin and one could easily finished the whole pizza on himself.

Chicken Fajitas (RM16) is a Mexican infused dish of grilled meat (normally chicken or beef) served on top of a flat tortilla bread alongside vegetables like bell peppers, onions, lettuce and tomatoes. The tortilla is really thin, just like popiah skin but the amount of "toppings/filling" can fill up one's stomach easily with a mug of booze.

This year's Valentine's Day was so colourful spent with you... Till then, I'm still waiting for love. End this post with Qi Dai Ai by JJ Lin and Jin Sha. ^^