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Motormouth From Ipoh

Monday, June 30, 2008

Boot Camp @ FELCRA Training Centre, Changkat Lada

Huh ... The days leading to the eventual workshop at Pusat Latihan FELCRA in Changkat Lada (say where?) were torturing, to put it mildly. Overwhelmed with sense of regret for joining the workshop, and fear of feeding potential mosquitoes, we were prepared for the worst.
A mosque in the middle of nowhere, literally.

The journey was not long, surprisingly, only a mere one hour+, and the roads are not those off the beaten track type. The scenery spoke volume of the tranquility of the rural areas, from Bota Kanan to Changkat Melintang and Kampung Gajah. Passing by Kompleks Sejarah Pasir Salak, a short distance away is this FELCRA settlement. If you're scratching your heads wondering where in the world are these spots, they're small towns in Perak, that had not bowed to civilization. Hehe ...

Finally ....

One terrifying ordeal was when KYT parked his car,both of us discovered an abundance of, or rather, an army of HUGE red fire ants swarming the parking lot, and some even fell on our necks! =O Needless to say, it somewhat 'enhanced' the experience ....

Imagine in the middle of the night, standing at this very corridor ... eerie?

Patriotism at its peak? Nah ... I bet most did not notice the poles

Dorm-like environment dampened our spirits even further ... =(

Oh, at least TV was provided, though reception was poor, and no cable channels ...

Comfortable beds with clean sheets ...

Fortunately, the room was bearable, even to the point where we dozed off to slumberland in mere minutes everytime, cooled by the air-conditioning system. Blankets and pillows provided adequately, at no extra charge. Our only gripe? Look below ....

Yup, the classic squatting delight, tailor-made to practise your kung-fu stance

No hot shower, sadly. And waking up at dawn to prepare for classes did not deter us from chilling ourselves to the bones. Somehow, the water here is not icy cold, unlike usual 'kampung' area's water supply, eg. Sungkai etc. Oh, and the bathroom was infested with red ants, symbiotic relation established, we do our business, they mind their own. =P

~~~ The Breakfast ~~~

Toasts with half-boiled eggs, and fried beehoon kampung-style.

Nasi Goreng Kampung and Toasts

I did not hold much anticipation for the food, just keeping my fingers crossed for something worth swallowing. However, we were pleasantly overjoyed when not only were the meals delicious, the kampung-style dishes opened my eyes in categorizing Malay cuisine into the "same old, same old" category.

Breakfast was a simple affair, but the fried rice and beehoon were delicious in their own rights, slightly spicy, but still good nevertheless. Even KYT who normally avoids Malay food like the plague threw positive comments. =)

(to be continued ... )

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rendezvous with Floggers @ Eiffel Restaurant, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur

A break from the Ipoh posts, and backtrack to a few weeks ago, when I was in KL. Met up with Jason, Foodcookies, Tummythoz & her Mr.K. (",) ... Nice meeting you guys!

Eiffel Restaurant ... the posh-iest of names?

Of course, floggers get together equals food. Nothing more, nothing less. LOL. Jason was kind enough to set up a destination somewhere near Cheras, at record time, I might add. (Thanks, Jason, owe u another one! =P). The instance I heard the name Eiffel Restaurant, an image of French cuisine in a swank high-end restaurant was projected in my mind. Gulp .... *o*

Vietnam Chicken Pan Mee (Flour Noodle) (RM12)

But pleasantly surprised the restaurant he had chosen is a down to earth one, serving Chinese cuisine. Pasted on the walls were paper cuttings of reviews by various local papers, mostly Chinese media, but a reason to gloat, nevertheless.

Seafood Pan Mee (RM15)

One of their signature items include pan mee, or flat flour noodle, cooked in a variety of broth, and garnished with various ingredients, from chicken to seafood, and everything in between. (Hehe, I was lazy to check the options, sorry).

We ordered two types to be shared, one being the Vietnam style chicken while another being a new item NOT on the menu yet, which was the Seafood crab meat version (I think). The former fared better in my opinion, with generous servings of fried chicken fillet, cooked Vietnamese style, though the lemongrass somehow deterred me from fully enjoying the dish. (sorry, Lyrical one if you're reading this, but I DO avoid lemongrass at all costs).

The other version of the noodle was a disappointment, as the stock was too thick and gooey, drowning the pan mee, though the prawns and whatnot (fish roes?) did save the dish somehow.

Thai-style Chicken

The Thai-style deep fried chicken fillet was a safe choice, with crunchy young mango/apple (once again, my memory failed me ... ) strips delivered an amalgam of tastes, being tangy, sour, spicy and sweet at the same time.

Fried Rice with Salted Egg (RM6)

Jason personally recommended two dishes, one being the fried rice with salted eggs. Unpretentious in appearance, but sadly, the same applies to the taste. Don't get me wrong, the rice was fried to perfection, not soggy nor too dry, but lacked the oomph we all expected. Jason himself commented that previously the dish was better.

Money Bags? (RM10)

Another one of recommendation impressed us, the fried dumplings-thingy (sorry forgot the name) were delicious, and required no dipping sauce (though chilli sauce was provided if I'm not mistaken). A must-try!

Reeking of mango-mania .... (RM4.50)

The desserts are the shop's specialty as well, judging from the options available, and the restaurant is approriately named Eiffel Restaurant and Dessert House. Though you might be forgiven if you're expecting hot Chinese sweet soups (eg. Bubur Cha-Cha and the likes), as you won't find them here.

Reasonably priced at RM4.50 per humongous bowl, the snowy mountain ice blended with fruits (a nick I created myself, as I did not bother to check the menu, =P) will definitely refresh you till no end, quenching thirst, and dare I say, even appease hunger pangs. I had the mango variety, and only realized when my bowl was nearly empty that, surprise! surprise! They added an EGG or two into the dessert! No wonder so creamy and milky.

Mint Chocolate Milk Shake ... or at least it looks like one to me! (RM4)

The meal was a reasonable RM77.50 for 5 of us. The place is air-conditioned, but with a homely setting.

Location : Eiffel Restaurant @ 159. Jalan Lancang, Taman Seri Bahtera, Cheras. Tel : 03-91304234. Very near to the roundabout in Cheras, situated near Tesco Extra. Do ask the KL-ites (eg. Jason/Tummythoz/Foodcookies for directions).

P/S : It was a pleasure meeting you guys, and looking forward to the next one! ^o^

Aun Kheng Lim Salted Chicken

Short post today, to answer a query regarding Ipoh's salted chicken. In fact, nowadays, the number of shops selling this Ipoh's specialty are on the rise, but one brand manages to stand out among the crowd, and it's no surprise Aun Kheng Lim had stood the test of time for an impressive 21 years, no less.

My picture does NOT do the chicken justice ... Trust me .... it tastes WAY better than it looks.

Impostors are aplenty, but none that I've tried can wrest the crown from the defending champ. At RM16 per chick, on weekends and public holidays, you may have to call and book your chickens (no, not THAT chickens. Drop that naughty thought now ... =P).

The portion is not big, but adequeate for sharing among 2, or gobbled up by one hungry soul. (which I normall do!) Herbs such as Dong Guai and Gei Zhi (Wolfberry) combined with the flavourful salt crystals used to bake the chicken wrapped in paper, creates a divine dish (or snack, depends on how you look at it). Tender meat falling off the bone, the best way to eat it is to incorporate your bare hands, barbaric instincts unleashed, and tear the pieces to oblivion. Muahaha .... =)

Location : No 24,Jalan Theatre, 30300 Ipoh. Tel : 05-2542998.

The other barbarians who have torn their way into the poor chickens :

Tummythoz, WMW, KampungboyCitygal, Jackson, Jason and countless others.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sin Fonzie Cafe @ Greentown, Ipoh

Just dragged my own carcass back from the God-forsaken place. Nah ... Not really that bad, in fact, a lot of surprises in store. But more on that in later posts. For now, savour some older photos stashed away in my PC. (Btw, am I GLAD that June's finally coming an end. Curtain call for I believe, one of the most hectic month throughout my tenure in this current workplace of mine!)

Sin Fonzie Cafe ... somehow, "Kedai Kopi" does not fit as a moniker for such a cafe, huh?

Passed by this outlet countless times, but never cared to step in. Right until I read the positive reviews from Dine and Health sometime back. OK, why not?

Comfy setting, with air-cond and fans

Mum had visited this place before, with my 2 grannies, and the feedback was on the sunny side. Oh, they're somewhat a bunch of foodies themselves, better trust their palates. =P

Don't be deterred by the seemingly exorbitant prices. There are value sets as well.

The Dim Sum range

Xiu Long Bao (RM3.60)

Sin Fonzie serves Chinese dishes, whereby you can have them with rice, or noodles. Their specialty are the claypot varieties, extensive I'd say. Other than main dishes, the snacks are an impressive lot themselves, consisting of dim sum, pancakes and such.

The Xiu Long Bao comes in a basket of 3, typical dim sum style. Quite a steal at RM1.20 each, compared to Dragon-i's, Crystal Jade's and Din Tai Fung's. But of course, you can't really compare an apple to an orange. (Wait, somehow this phrase was overused during the petrol price hike, was this not? =P). Tastewise? Not impressive, too little soup packed inside. But the fillings of pork+shrimp worked wonders.

Spiky hedgehog/porcupine pau (RM1.80 each)

These cute little buns are a marvellous creation of the chef, incorporating dragonfruit, egg yolk (I suspect) and butter (nai yao). Correct me if I'm wrong, as the filling and taste is not distinctive of any particular flavour. Slightly sweet, and savoury, the skin is soft, fluffy and does not stick to your teeth kind. Try them, for their novelty and aestheric values, no less.

Hedgehog ... butchered in half. Muahaha ...

Rice with Deep Fried Fish (RM9)

Bro's claypot deep fried fish in simple soy sauce, and shallot oil was very fragrant (from the oil and garlic), and the fish fried to perfection. Crisp on the outer layer, and soft and sweet flesh. Though a bit on the dry side, you may consider ordering some soup to drench your white rice.

Claypot Noodles with Prawns (RM8.80 per set)

The set meal consist of a main dish and a drink. Dad commented that his noodles with prawns was delicious, the soup stock being flavourful, and the noodles is different from the ones normally served, akin to ramen with its springy/QQ texture.

Claypot chicken and salted fish rice (RM8.80 per set)

Mum and grandma shared a pot of rice with chicken and salted fish. Good choice, as the rice was fragrant, tasty, and the gravy not overly salty. I myself am NOT a fan of claypot chicken rice, especially the tragedy that was K10 (read it HERE), but the one served here is pretty good.

Spring Onion Pancake (RM3)

The boss is a chatty fellow, providing recommendations and patiently watched me snapped some photos (kinda paiseh, as I doubt he'd believe a reviewer would use a mere handphone), all the while anticipating feedback. He introduced us to this Chinese style pancake, served with chilli sauce. Thin, and chewy, with spring onions (scallions' the real name I think), dried shrimps, and etc. Yummy, albeit slightly oily.

Claypot Tang Hoon (Glass Noodles) with Seafood (RM8.80 per set)

My pot of tang hoon with seafood looked unappetizing and unassuming at first glance, however, one spoonful (it's kinda hard to eat this with mere chopsticks, mind you) and you'll be delighted at the sweetness of the broth, infused with seafood goodness, and the smooth tang hoon slithing down your throat. Portion's a little big, so be ready to share if you're a small eater.

Zhung Zai Fan ( Small pot Chicken Rice) RM7

Indeed, their signature dish, WAY back before they renovated the whole shop, is this simple dish, named Small Pot Chicken Rice (literally translated from its original moniker, Zhung Zai Fan). Mushrooms, waxed sausages and chicken, steamed with rice in special gravy. One word : Delicious. Simple enough, but craves for attention. Serving's small, therefore no worries if you're on a strict diet.

In case you're lost, look for these friends, pasted on the glass door.

Bill came to RM61 for 5 of us. A decent meal, in a comfortable environment. Parking's a breeze if you come in the evening. During lunch hour, you can only hope and pray for a space nearby, as this is located right smack in the middle of Greentown, normally buzzing with activities. But remember, a short walk is always a good solution to that spare tyre crisis. =)

Location : 53, Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil, Ipoh. Specifically, this row of shop is beside Excelsior Hotel. Other hotspots nearby include Ipoh Parade Shopping Complex, Oversea Seafood Restaurant, and Syuen Hotel.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Yam(my) Yam(my) !!!

Short post on a cool afternoon .... In a matter of hours, I'd be stranded in a remote land, with probably no coverage, no good food (in fact, maybe NO food at all, bar those provided by the host) and hopefully, the place has basic amenities to satisfy the poor city souls (that's us), bracing ourselves for the potential culture shock.

Claypot Assam Fish Fillet

Second visit to Yam Yam Seafood Restaurant in Ipoh Garden South, (for my virginal take, click HERE). Forgot what the event was, probably a routine family dinner back in April or May.

Steamed Squid with Spicy and Sour Sauce

Of course, my poor memory fails me whenever I'm trying to recall the taste, name of the dish, and the price for each. Especially with no receipt, or notes jotted. So, pardon me? :)

Sambal Sweet Potato Leaves

The squids and grouper fish slices in assam gravy stole the limelight that evening, as expected, for they are after all, a SEAFOOD restaurant. The steamed squids in particular, got my vote, as I usually go for fried squids, or sambal sotong, rarely opt for the steamed variety. But the piquant taste, slightly tangy from the drizzles of lime juice, paired with the bird's eye chillis and garlic, accentuate the freshness and the springy texture of the squids. One word : YAMmy!!

Oyster Omelette (Or Chien)

Tung Po Yuk (Braised Pork in Soy Sauce)

The other dishes fared well, but the Tung Po Yuk did not impress. The cuts were fat no doubt, though enough lean portion to satiate a diet freak, but the gravy was not flavourful, compared to some others in Chinese restaurants.

Overall, a pretty satisfying meal, but a bone to pick here was that the lady owner in his 50's (I assumed) is a bit arrogant. Let's just say, her mistake resulted in us consuming not one, not two but THREE green vegetable dishes. But of course, we un-willingly paid for them, though not one word of apology escaped from her mouth. Hmmm ...... Total damage came to around RM90 for 6 of us.

Location : Refer old post HERE.

Til then, wish me LUCK, and pray that we manage to locate the forsaken place, possibly not detectable with GPS, nor even exist in the maps .... But really, I may be slightly dramatic here, now hands up who have heard of Changkat Lada? Au revoir.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Craving for some Yakiniku?

Staying over at aunt's house in Pandan Indah in Kuala Lumpur has its pros and cons. Pros being the abundant of eateries existing AND mushrooming at an exponential rate, while Cons being too far away from HOT areas such as PJ and so forth.

One of the cheapest Japanese food I've eaten in KL, even by Ipoh's standards, is this Yakiniku Restaurant which serves barbecued items over a stove, a DIY approach that may prove fun for a family outing. In case you're worried of smoky environment that may leave you smelling of ashes and charcoal at the end of the meal, fret not. They implement an intelligent vacuum system over every stove on every table, ensuring your comfort while dining. Only gripe? The yellow lighting is a bit too dim, bad for snapping photos, AND indecisive when determining whether the meat is adequately cooked or not.

Australian Beef Loins (RM14.90), Pork Bacon (RM5.90) and Lamb Leg (RM7.90)

They serve ala carte items, as well as ramen, salad, and so forth. But the star attraction is of course, the barbecued items. From pork to lamb and beef, as well as squid and vegetables, the combination is endless, and each plate is individually priced (and reasonably too).

The bacon was so good, we had 2nd helping ... just ignore the streaks of artery-clogging culprit. =)

The dipping sauce for the meat is a secret recipe of their own, which complements the grilled meat very well. You can ask for refill (the sauce, not the meat) at no extra charge. I even pour some on my white rice.

BLUE fire? Of all magic, my hp does has some nifty trick up its erm, sleeve? =P

The meat are all thinly sliced, to ensure thoroughly and rapidly cooked. Just keep an eye for burnt bits while grilling the bacon, as the fatty portion tends to get burnt pretty fast.


Seafood Salad

Of course, there are various appetizers, snacks and even noodles as well as fried rice to complete your meal. The drinks segment is quite impressive, and the flavoured tea is served in a tall jar, adequate hydration guaranteed. Hehe ....

Various acknowledgements and accolades from the press

So, if you're ever in Pandan Indah/Pandan Jaya/Cheras area, do drop by for some good grub. The choices are astonishing, from Pudu's Fei Por chicken rice, Kin Kin Pan Mee, to Hong Kee Tim Sum (to be blogged at a later date), Tsim Tung & Axtivo for Hong Kong delights, Steven's Corner for 24 hours coverage of mamak food, a good number of 'Dai Chow' Chinese restaurants, and not forgetting the cafes.

Location : Restoran Yakiniku, 20g, Jalan Pandan Indah 4/8, Pandan Indah, Kuala Lumpur.