Archive for Around M’sia beyond KL

Restoran Ka Lok, Sekinchan

Since the last time I wrote about heading down to Sekinchan, I have made a couple of trips there as it’s still an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. And now, with the new Latar highway, getting there is even easier! But prepared for the RM12(!) toll charges to and fro…so it’s either saving money and spending more time on the road or whizzing there and paying for it. Haha.

Utilising another long weekend, 5 of us made a trip there to see if we could be lucky to snap some golden fields. Well, we were a tad early as it was still mostly green with some golden grains. But despite the current rainy season, the sun smiled down on us and gave us gorgeous weather.

So when in Sekinchan, eat like the locals do? Check. My friend wanted me to try this really fresh steamed fish head, she said. But she didn’t mention a single word about the size and when we got there and this hulk of a fish head was placed on our table, everyone fell silent for a bit before nervous laughter ensued. Trust me, it was gigantic! Don’t let the pile of sliced onions fool you. But the fish was very fresh and succulent. Despite our earlier doubts, it was soon polished off. Lucky we had a fella who truly knew how to enjoy the fish head, doing it justice by almost licking the bones clean. Price was based on weight and this portion was at RM75.20.

We also had Steamed Lala at RM12. The shellfish by itself was very fresh though I thought some of it were a tad overcooked as it was a bit tougher to bite.

As per the norm of shark meat dishes here in Sekinchan, the stir fried shark meat(RM15) was cooked in a heavy black bean sauce along with ginger shreds and onion. The meat itself was tender and flavourful and perfect with a bowl of steaming, hot rice.

I have had shark meat in my hometown on many occasions but mostly there were rather coarse in texture and just as I wondered earlier about the smoothness of the shark meat dishes here, was told that baby sharks were used…ouch. But the locals reassure me that these baby sharks are bred and farmed for this purpose and not those caught from the wild which I guess sits better on the conscience just a tad. Other ways to have the shark meat in Sekinchan is to either to have it in soup or porridge.

Restoran Ka Lok 嘉乐茶餐室
372, Site B,
Lorong 6,
45400 Sekinchan,
Tel : 012-6867173
Opening Hours : 6:30am – 3 pm daily

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Mei Sei Ka, Kg. Bukit Tinggi

Luckily for us (and unluckily for bosses), we have had a couple of long weekends in November and I took advantage of that to make the weekend trip to Janda Baik. We started off late and after being held up by the long weekend traffic, we only time for a little trip down to the gurgling stream and soon it was dinner time.

Had a couple of friends who drove up to Kampung Bukit Tinggi to dine with us and we gathered together at this restaurant which my colleague recommended. As it was a rainy night, most of the restaurants were doing little business but hey, faster serving time for us ya?

We tried their Fried noodles with beans and pork belly and I thought it was scrumptious. The sliced pork belly had a light crunchiness to it which was so satisfying and the noodles had soaked in the flavour of the gravy.

The Steamed Patin was very fresh also. The juicy and tender flesh was delightful.

We also decided to have a portion of the Curry Wild Boar (咖哩山猪肉) but this was frankly the least memorable out of all the dishes we had.

Kampung Bukit Tinggi also happens to sell loads of fresh produce and the Stir Fried Watercress (炒西洋菜) was very fresh and sweet.

Bentong’s ginger is also purported to be the best around town so of course the restaurants also come up with dishes featuring it and one that we had was the Ginger Chicken Vermicelli (烝姜鸡米粉). The vermicelli here is different from the usual store bought ones, and has more of a bite to it. The ginger taste is not overpowering, and great for heating us up on a cold night. However I wished they used better chicken cuts like the one I tried at another shop. The resulting soup was rather sweet and tummy warming.

When I saw Steamed Freshwater Prawns (烝生虾) on the menu, wanted to relive a childhood memory of going back to my dad’s hometown where freshwater prawns were widely sold at the market. So what was once a distant memory, could be now experienced again at RM7/100gm. As the prawn looked rather big and few at the table actually wanted prawns, we only ordered one. Should have had at least two! Despite it being frozen, it was still quite tasty though it could have done with a little less cooking, so that the flesh wasn’t as chewy.

Since my lust for freshwater prawns wasn’t satiated in our first meal, we stopped here again for a quick lunch before heading back to KL. Alas, there were only two of us left and we couldn’t order much. Having tried the steamed version, this time we opted for the stir fried (干煎生虾) method. The coating of minced garlic, ginger and various sauces was finger licking good!

The owner also recommended their Nyonya Sotong (娘惹苏东) which sees the squid slices cooked in a tangy sauce with sliced chilli, four angled beans and onions. For me, the sauce was not spicy at all but I could see this being a perfect accompaniment for white rice.

Lastly, we had Stir Fried Tin Chat with Wolfberries (枸杞田七). Despite the somewhat slimy texture of the leafy vegetables and a very light bitter tinge, I love eating it, especially when it’s cooked with egg! But here, they usually stir fry it with wolfberries, and since the vegetable itself is purported to have medicinal properties, it’s double the effect. Haha.

All in all, this place is worth a try. I heard the claypot fish and frog dishes are quite good too. We didn’t managed to try them coz they had sold out the fish and due to the rainy season, fresh frogs are scarce. That only warrants a return trip!

Restoran Mei Sei Ka 美食家饭店
Lot 96, Kg. Bukit Tinggi
28750 Bentong,

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Amelie Cafe, Penang.

I first read about this place in an expat magazine. I must admit I was intrigued and when we finally made our way up north to Penang, I went looking for it.

It really is quite hidden as many have already said. Lucky I read earlier that it’s next to the Cheah Kongsi or I would have really missed it as the entrance was somewhat hidden by all the foliage of the potted plants.

There are only about 4-5 tables inside as the set up is really small. Judging from the many reviews I have read, the design of the cafe is ever evolving according to the recyclables they managed to get their hands on. It’s very cosy and whimsical, especially when dressed with all the random knick knacks. I noticed that they have a “no photography” policy but I can understand why especially when photographers tend to linger and loiter and the space is just too tiny to accommodate that. However, I can’t resist stealing some shots with my phone though… oops.

They have a standard drinks menu and some specials according to ingredient availability. So one day it may be banana & plum lassi, another, ice blended coconut and pineapple (ranging from RM10-12) etc. The Latte (RM10) I had was aromatic and creamy, just how I like it. They use illy beans here which always mean a decent cuppa to me.

From the moment we stepped in, the greasy yet inviting smells of bacon frying wafted over so it wasn’t much of a surprise when the Bacon & Cream Cheese Bagel (RM15) caught our eye. Loved the bagel itself and I think I would be contented even if it was just plain cheese.

We also had Linguine Pomodoro with Pork Sausage (RM17). As Pomodoro basically means tomato, this linguine was prepared with the simple ingredients of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic basil etc. It was light and refreshing. I did read somewhere that they made their own pasta too but if I am not mistaken, these were the dried, ready ones as I saw him cooking them from my spot.

We had Panna Cotta with Plum Sauce (RM12) and it had a really firm consistency compared to what I am used to. I did wonder a bit about the plums sauce but when I saw it in its sugary segmented form, it all made sense.

Another dessert I had was the Crepe with frozen mango yoghurt (RM12 ). The crepe was beautifully made. But the mango yoghurt was rather tasteless with a slight hint of tartness. I actually think that the crepes would be perfect with something creamier.

All in all, it’s quite a charming cafe to spend some time at. As only the husband & wife team are preparing and serving by themselves, there’s some waiting time involved during “peak periods” but nothing unbearable. In fact it gave us a a reason to linger!

Amelie Cafe (www)
No 6, Armenian Street,
10200 Penang.
(Next to Cheah Clan Kongsi)
Tel: +6012 496 7838
Opening Hours : 10am-7pm (Closed Mondays)

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Meng Key, Kuantan

We actually read about this place in a write up in a chinese daily and noted it down since we knew we were going to be in Kuantan. To us, the restaurant itself is at quieter part of Kuantan , in Medan Warisan which is opposite from Giant Hypermarket on the way to Gambang. But the restaurant is known to serve a wide range of freshwater fish and sea fish which was deserving of a visit.

For a restaurant specialising in fish, even the ice tong was in the shape of a fish 😛

To start we had sayur manis with egg (RM10). Interestingly, wolfberries (kei chi, 枸杞) were added in to the stir-fry. Not bad, but a tad salty.

Also we had tofu topped with diced chicken, dried prawns and spring onions (RM12). Basic dish, but the fragrant topping really blended well with the otherwise bland local tofu.

We wanted another freshwater fish initially but since we were only 2 and many of the fishes were of a more substantial size, we ended up with steamed Kerai / Krai fish (RM35). The fish had a lot of fine bones, which we don’t mind, but it had flesh that was a bit mushy and we thought it wasn’t fresh enough as we realised that most of their fish were in fact frozen. However, it was not until later that our friend, who’s a freshwater fish enthusiast confirmed that Kerai fish have mushier flesh.

So if you’re looking for freshwater fish in Kuantan, this restaurant does have a lot of choice, but try to go in a bigger group as some of the fish are quite big and is meant for more people to share. And, this place is also pork free.

Meng Key 明記海鮮飯店
G 15, Ground Floor,
Block J, Medan Warisan,
Lorong Seri Teruntum,
25100 Kuantan,
Open : Daily 11am-3pm; 5.30pm-9.30pm
except Weds 11am-3pm & Sundays 6.30-9.30pm

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Ching Kie, Karak

Karak is a common stop for those using the Karak highway heading north east to the east coast. We were recommended this place by a local whilst pumping petrol at Petronas (which is the landmark to find this place).

The main dishes sold here is freshwater fish, mostly the ones obtainable in Pahang state. Famous fishes like empurau etc are also available, but upon request.

We decided to go for the ikan tapah (鲶鱼) which is also known as the catfish. Steamed with ginger shreds and topped with sauteed garlic, it was fresh and delighful. I have always wondered where to buy the light soy sauce that restaurants use to steam their fish with… very addictive.

One of their signature dishes was the steamed kampung chicken with abundance of minced ginger. I am not the biggest ginger fan but still, the firm texture of the chicken does make up for it.

To balance all the meat we had, they recommended the stir fried baby french beans (鬼豆苗). It was very crisp and sweet, which only showed how fresh the greens were.

A worthy stop if you need to take a break and fill your tummy after the winding turns of Karak highway.

Restoran Ching Kie 正记冷气酒家
Lot P7&8, Jalan Utama,
Taman Karak Indah,
28600 Karak,
Tel : 09 231 2626

Directions : From the toll booth, turn left and drive straight until you spot a Petronas petrol station on your left. Turn left into the row of shops after Petronas and you’ll be able to spot Ching Kie on your left.

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The Cottage Restaurant, Kuantan

The Cottage is well-known by the locals for its Petai fried rice and comes highly recommended. Curious about it, we decided to drop by after spotting it nearby our client’s office. Strangely enough, The Cottage is called “Fatt Kee” (發記) in chinese which doesn’t really correspond with anything cottage. The restaurant is air-conditioned and a hanging bunting states the menu which ranges from all kinds of chinese dishes, but no pork is served.

We decided to go with the recommended fish, Petai fried rice (RM5). It’s everything I think Fried Nasi Lemak would taste like. Crunchy ikan bilis, rice evenly coated with the sambal and egg, and petai cooked just right. It was indeed everything I expected of this dish.

If you want a healthier option to the Petai fried rice, there’s also petai fried rice vermicelli aka petai free beehoon (RM5). Plus, they add bean sprouts for that extra crunch.

To balance out the fried rice/beehoon, we also ordered a portion of mixed vegetables (RM5.50) which was not overcooked and had the lingering aroma of wok hei.

Judging from the lunch crowd and the many dishes they ordered, this establishment has stood the test of time. However I had a slight issue with the poor ventilation in the restaurant which bore a slight damp smell that hits you hard as soon as you enter. But the petai fried rice is worth trying for sure.

The Cottage Restaurant 發記
63 Jln Haji Abdul Aziz
25000 Kuantan

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Alor Akar Seafood Restaurant, Kuantan

We stumbled upon this place by accident. We were driving down the stretch of Jalan Beserah when we looked to our left at one of its many traffic light stops and spotted the crowd. Curiosity got the better of us and we made a quick turn into the road and found ourselves seated soon after.

The steamed catfish (清蒸白须公) was very fresh and had a succulent texture that was delightful.

Knowing that I love yam, they ordered the Yam Ring with spare ribs in fruit sauce (佛砵飘香) for me. Light and fluffy, the yam ring was quickly polished off. The ribs were a bit tough but flavourful enough. Would have been perfect if the meat was more tender to bite.

One of the signature dishes here is the Beggar’s Chicken (富贵药材鸡). Their version is very soupy, which is great for those who love herbal soup. My only grouse is that it’s very oily despite brimming with the heartiness of the chinese herbs. The chicken was so tender that it was falling off it’s bones.

Their signature tofu dishes were the sizzling tofu with salted fish and dried radish (梅香豆腐 & 菜香滑豆腐). Both were tasty in their own way and used diced chicken. Personally I preferred the one with the salted fish as the aroma was very inviting.

The stewed Pork Knuckle with mushrooms (香菇焖猪手) was a big hit with the men and I can understand why considering the tender, juicy meat with gelatinous skin. They also have other ways of cooking the pork knuckle, including one with ginkgo and another with beancurd skin.

The guys also loved the deep fried salt baked chicken (香炸盐焗鸡) which is crisp on the outside but juicy on the inside. The pre-marinated and pre-cooked chicken was deep fried to give this tasty, savoury, finger-licking good pieces.

We were pleasantly surprised with how affordable the meal was. The above dishes were less than RM120 and portions were ample for our group of 8. Other notable dishes were the stirfried black pepper ostrich, steamed kampung chicken and Thai style steamed fish. We also enjoyed their bottled boiled sugar cane drinks and kat zhai shun mui (lime with sour plum). So far, this restaurant is one of the better ones I have tried in Kuantan so we’ll definitely be making our way back here again and again.

Alor Akar Seafood Restaurant 关丹乞丐鸡海鲜饭店
Lot 7696, Jalan Kubang Buaya,
Off Jalan Beserah,
25300 Kuantan.
Open Daily 5pm-12am

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