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Motormouth From Ipoh

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kissaten @ Jaya One, Petaling Jaya

Kissaten ~ Translated to Cafe, in Japanese
Wanna know my current feeling? One word, hot ... sorry, I meant HOT !!! Yup, the endless durians assault, tomyam at the border town, and digesting wild boar curry for lunch this afternoon somehow proved the existence of additive/synergistic effects of heaty food on the body's metabolism. Not to mention the desert-like, breeze-less weather in Ipoh today. Phew ...

Ho-mu Menyu- .... (Gee, the basic lesson in katakana* [thanks, Camemberu!] kinda helped)

Putting aside my Johor experience (food-wise, mostly), let me skip forward to a cafe situated in Jaya One (a commercial centre, but populated with so many food outlets, the place is a foodie's wet dream come true, really); Kissaten Coffee and Restaurant.

Either embrace the zen-like modern ambience, tailored for yuppies (and youngsters, obviously)

OR bask in the sunlight, and immense heat, while dining al fresco ... oh, you can puff away, suicidal one!!!

Various bloggers' reviews on this outlet had an agreeable outcome; the desserts are must-tries, while the food may fall into either one of two categories, HIT, or MISS.

Cucumber Lychee (RM9.90)

Amnesiac ol' me, had no recollection of recommended beverages. The only lady waitressing on that afternoon did not provide much assistance either, heavily pushing for the yoghurt drinks, and nothing else. Simple query from yours truly on the difference between Milk Tea (RM5.90) and ROYAL Milk Tea (RM6.90) subsequently led to the aforementioned waitress scratching her head, and mumbling of nothings. Obviously, staff training is still lacking, and creates room for improvement. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

Btw, the cucumber lychee drink is a BIG no-no. Diluted cucumber juice, too much ice, and none of the supposedly present lychee flavour (completely destroyed my hope for a bite of a lychee fruit or two ...). At RM9.90 per glass, I paid premium price for a meagre thirst-quencher. Gimme good old Milk Tea anyday !!! :)

Char Siew Pizza (RM24.90)

The Char Siew Pizza (BBQ Pork Pizza) on the other hand, exceeded all of my expectations! Highly raved and commended by floggers alike, the pizza reminded me of Japanese pizza (Okonomiyaki), albeit with a twist. The presence of PORK!!! (oh, completely awaken the porky beast in me ... muahahha)

Generously baked with cheese, and garnished with scallions, the combination of mayonaisse and sweet, okonomiyaki sauce (not sure of the REAL name for this, but there is a picture of the sauce HERE, in my Korean pancake post, in the last photo) works wonders. I was practically tearing away at the pizza, oblivious to my surroundings, and threw my table etiquette out the window for this one. Yup, trust me, this is THAT good !!!! The Char Siew is nothing like the Chinese Wantan Mee or Char Siew Rice type, but instead devoid of fatty portion, and less fragrant/decadent.

Cheesy, savoury goodness. Beats Pizza Hut's best offering on anyday!!!

Ume Chicken Roll Set (RM15 - Promo price)

Currently, Kissaten is running a promotion for certain set lunches. Did I mention they serve various Japanese rice and noodles dishes, as well as bento sets? Most set lunches are in the realm of RM20+, and they're holding special discount for certain sets. Do ask for assistance (though from the same "reliable" lady I mentioned earlier ... hehe =P)

Ume Chicken Roll set came with white rice, miso soup, chawan mushi, and pickled Japanese cucumbers. The rolls may look small on the menu, or from my pic, but trust me, the batter-fried rolls of chicken thighs are very filling in their own rights. But wait, NO sauce provided??!!! Fortunately, the meat is tender and juicy, although fried until golden brown. But a plate of mayo, or katsu sauce would suffice, in my opinion. The steamed egg (Chawan mushi) was very, very smooth, until the point of slightly watery. But I like mine this way, so no qualms.

Pumpkin Cream and Vanilla Ice Cream (Rm9.90)

Desserts galore!!!! Limited choices, and again, the untrained mind (the waitress) continuously denied me of my initial plan to order the highly prized Rich Choco Pudding (RM7.90), purpotedly sinful, and velvety-goodness (according to various floggers). She kept questioning our picks, and recommended the cheese cake and cheese pudding instead. OK, fine.

The Pumpkin Cream + Vanilla Ice Cream was creamy and smooth. No strong pumpkin flavour, but a rather bland, and mild sweet broth, when combined with the vanilla ice-cream, made a lasting impression on our sweet palate. Just remember to finish this quick, before the whole dollop of ice cream melts and turns into a mash of diluted, sweet tong-sui.

Cheese Cake (RM7.90)

Since she insisted on the cake, we obliged. But regretted soon after. Don't get me wrong. The texture was nice, not too soft or spongy (unlike Secret Recipe's current offerings). But our only gripe was the somewhat mild cheese flavour. Not as cheesy as I'd prefer.

Location : Kissaten Coffee and Restaurant, L12A-1-1, Palm Square, Jaya One, Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya. Tel : 03-79541990.

For second opinions, hop over to :

masak-masak, Sweets for my Sweet Tooth, Shell Food Station, ling239, Kissaten's own blog

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Southern Escapade (Johor Bahru) - Part 2

Really apologetic for the lack of updates the last few days. Spent the weekend (and then some) over in KL, a "getaway" of sort for me, from the mundane, routine life here in Ipoh. Though come to think of it, other than the FOOD, and shopping, what else is there in KL? Hmmm, ponder on THAT ... =)

The ZON Regency Hotel ... (Geez, the management seriously owe me some promo wages !!!)

KAFE ENAMPULUHAN - Opens from evening onwards (not sure the actual operating hours)
A short post, as I've to UNpack, and then REpack for another trip up north, to Hulu Perak district for 2 days starting tomorrow. And I was about to lament on my backache from long rides. Sigh ....

Mee Rebus Stulang Laut (RM3.50?)

One of Johor's specialty is the Mee Rebus at Stulang Laut. Yup, it's famous enough to warrant Jeff Ooi's attention. (Click HERE for his take). Mee Rebus is basically yellow alkaline noodles in sweet-curry gravy with lots of potatoes for a thickened consistency. (Still in doubt, click HERE). One familiar sibling of this is Mee Jawa.

So, what makes the Mee Rebus in Johor Bahru stand out from the rest? The loads of fritters sprinkled liberately on top, for one. Delivering crunch and fragrance to the otherwise lacklustre noodles, this simple, unpretentious, supporting character is the STAR of this dish. The gravy is not spicy at all, but rather a tad sweetish. But on a bearable scale, no worries. Squeeze some lime, mix them up well, and slurp away. Good stuff. No wonder people throng this restaurant til no end ....

Otak-otak Kempas (50 cents each)

Still remember my April excursion to JB? Where me and my colleagues had seemingly unlimited supply of Otak-Otak (click for explanation). Yup, this delicacy has various transformation in various states/countries (M'sia, Indonesia and S'pore serve them). Even Johor has TWO, a version from Muar, and another named Kempas. The ones served here is the latter, bloody red in colour, but very addictive in nature. Before you know it, you would've popped a few.

Shop away at the duty-free zone at erm, The ZON. (no pun intended)

The hotel is located within the duty-free zone, therefore a duty-free shopping complex is directly situated inside the hotel itself. Chocolates and liquor are good bargain, (especially the latter, as cans of beer go for less than RM4). Needless to say, KYT made a deal with the devil, the lure of alcohol somehow got him ending up with a few. =P

Sigh ..... that's all this fatigued mind, and restless fingers could manage for the night. Further updates on JB (and of course, the July KL Mini-Food Tour) in upcoming posts. Now, I can get back to my UNpacking and REpacking activity. Oh, what fun ...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Southern Escapade (Johor Bahru) - Part 1

A cool, breezy morning on the highway ...
We thought June was a hectic month. And July had the potential to be stress-free, with lighter schedule, and fewer outstation trips. But as usual, we were wrong.
(P/S : This job is unpredictable. Imagine packing and unpacking, and then packing again in a matter of days. All within short notice.)

No need to strain your necks/eyes for the movies, secondary screens available!
However, compared to the previous trip in April this year, we could not book flight tickets in a rush, therefore the 6 of us had to travel by bus. Yeah, not unlike school children, going on a field trip. 7+ hours on a bus (RM56 on Nice Express @ Jln Bendahara, Ipoh) was taxing, but at least we were entertained by TWO "blockbusters", ie : War of the Dragons (still on show in theatres, hmm ... ) and 10,000 BC. Kinda made the trip slightly more bearable ....

Plain old nasi lemak (RM3.50)

Those familiar to travelling down south to Singapore/Johor by bus would've recognized a place called Yong Peng in Johor, the assigned rest stop for express buses. With so many unsuspecting tourists forcibly alighting for a quick fix, we felt like slabs of meat on chopper boards, waiting to be chopped ....

All the food served is HALAL (supposedly) or rather pork-free, but the prices are inflated. Paying RM6 per plate of chicken rice, sizzling noodles, or fried rice may sound absurd, for these are NOT restaurant-quality servings. But who's to complain? Our Singapore counterparts may find them reasonable, and they made up quite a number of the passengers.

Anyhow, the nasi lemak with sambal, anchovies and peanuts, and a fried egg was pretty good (or I could be really hungry), at RM3.50 per plate, at least did not dent my wallet so severely.

Sensing familiarity here?

Arriving in JB in the evening, we were glad to be transported from to the hotel instantly by taxi (RM8 from town to our hotel at Stulang Laut). Checking in was a breeze (albeit some teething problems) as our Johor counterparts booked the rooms for us in advance. Wanna know where we stayed? Let's see some hints ;

All 16 floors of the hotel, overlooking the middle lounge on 5th floor

A handy gadget, controlling practically all the switches and electronic gadgets in the room

Plush, comfy beds - ensuring a good slumber ...

Yup, the SAME hotel I stayed in April. Not to condemn though, far from it. Situated at Stulang Laut, overlooking the Tebrau straits, Singapore's basically a "swim" away. But of course, none of us pushed our luck ... =)

One noteworthy gadget in the room is the almighty remote controller by our bedside, whereby everything's a click away, from the TV channels to the lights in the room, and setting alarm as well as requesting for a room makeover, or a 'privacy please' note. Talk about inventions.

Nasi Lemak with condiments and Rendang Chicken

Cured beef slices, like an old friend now

Golden balls of indulgence

Yummy, unlimited pancakes

Unlike previous experience, this time around, only breakfasts are complimentary to our rooms. Shucks ... and we thought all meals are provided. Salt & Pepper Cafe on Level 5 is a trusted name, reassuring of a hearty breakfast, although the variety may get slightly repetitive. But, who's complaining? (certainly not the gluttons in us!)

The fun ZON - Coming alive at night ...

Singapore's on the other end ...

More delicious posts in subsequent episodes. Gee, my posts lately are continuous, huh? Sorry, but quite hard to squeeze everything in one single post.

P/S : Will be down to KL for the weekend, therefore blogging would take a back seat. Care to bump into the Motormouth in KL? =P

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

BETONG - Say Your Prayers (Part 5)

Visiting Thailand without stepping into a temple somehow sounds awkward, huh? A shrine may suffice. Or a full-fledged temple for that matter, swarming with the locals performing their prayers, especially on specific occasions. We, the tourists, the outsiders, on the other hand, flock to these holy grounds for one reason in particular; photography-sessions.

Glorified, towering baskets of gluttony ....

What better way to start the day than by completely overshadowing our previous day's ultra-cheap dimsum breakfast, by ordering like madmen, oblivious to stares and grunts. Of course, there were more of us on the second day, therefore a bit of gluttony is permissible. Other than 34 (!!) baskets of steamed dimsum, we ordered chee cheong fun (which was tasteless, and coarse, unlike Ipoh's better ones, RM1) and fish maw (a Betong specialty, cooked in thick gravy ala Lum Mee, with coagulated pork's blood and coriander, RM7).

This outlet's situated on a road branching east from clock tower, coming from Mongkollit tunnel's direction. Once again, click HERE for the map. The meal costed us RM48. Including chinese tea for 12.

Bird's eye view of the shrine ...

A short distance away from the GIANT mailbox on Sukkayang road, is a small temple by the road. Which meant, it's time to click away!!!

No idea what they're praying to here

Then we moved on to Wat Phuttathiwat (try repeating that in sequence, and you'll have yourself a potential tongue-twister of a title), which I've no recollection of the location. Yup, completely blank. Typical of my flawed memories. Won't somebody pass me some ginkgo? =P

Writing's too small to comprehend ... but basically some yada on the history of the temple

Stairway to heaven !!!

The highest shrine/point of the temple, after much panting, and climbing ...

The weather was cloudy on that afternoon. A blessing in disguise, as the inner wax-beings in us can't possibly stand the heat from all the climbing and photo-taking. However, it was drizzling slightly, and we had to take off our shoes before stepping onto the highest platform. Shucks ... should've worn my slippers instead.

No, not a Malay musical instrument, but you can beat on the gong-like apparatus for fun

A somewhat disturbing resemblance to a final resting place ??

Church-like motives on the windows?

The highest point of the temple, overlooking the whole area, and Betong town

Intricate details of the shrines ...

Giant Buddha statue

~~ LUNCH @ Curry House beside Blue Mosque ~~

Point away at your desires .... no, not the girls, you pervert !!

Next to the only mosque in town (Masjid Jamek), a baby blue one at that, is this curry shop at the corner of a row of shoplots. Parking's a breeze though we went 2 rounds searching for a closer lot (lazybums DON'T walk, remember? =P).

WOW. How else to describe the humongous trotter?

Array of authentic, home-style Thai dishes (photo thanks to YK)

Crispy fried chicken with special chilli sauce

Ordered by Giant Boy (who has Betong blood in his body), the dishes were more than enough for the 12 of us. Noteworthy dishes include fried egg omelette, fried chicken, dry curry pork, deep-fried pork's lard, and green curry chicken. Total damage? RM59 only. Fiery guts were doused with their local drinking water, Singha (yup, the beer brand).

And that, concludes the Betong saga. There is a Thai food restaurant that I wish to share, but that has to wait, as my Johor experience is slowly drifting away from my memory.

For previous instalments, do read these :

Part 1 - The introduction to Betong

Part 2 - The Dimsum Affair

Part 3 - The Largest Mailbox in Thailand

Part 4 - Piyamit Tunnel (Ex-Communists' Hideout) & Hot Spring