Archive for Travel

Sultanahmet Köftecisi, Istanbul

As per the previous post, I am sure you guys out there would have guessed correctly that I went on holiday! It was a trip that I have been looking forward to for some time…

It all started in Istanbul. Upon arrival, the weather was already not agreeing with me, grey, wet & dismal. But still, it’s Istanbul! So much to look forward to, so much to explore. As we hopped on the ferry on the asian side, heading for the european end, or specifically Sultanahmet, the touristy part, can’t help but soak in the foreignness of it all; the chestnut stalls near the pier, çay (turkish tea) boys selling drinks on the ferry, the lingering salty, fishy smells etc.

After taking the feribot, crossing the underground tunnel and hoping on a tram, we found ourselves in front of the Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi, one of the more famous Köftecisi’s in Istanbul. There are some others with similar names, so look out for the sign to come to the original. I think I always wonder how authentic such places are due to their vicinity to the attractions and being in THE touristy zone. Yet, as we stepped in, it was obvious that the groups of locals outweigh the tourists.

The place is 3 floors high yet we manage to get a seat on the ground floor. Despite the high traffic, the place is rather clean and the waiters friendly. There’s no menu but as they only serve köfte and kebab, there’s really no need either. Service is so fast that this place feels like a fast food joint, Istanbul style!

The condiments at every table includes chilli flakes or pul biber, which would later add some kick to the meatballs!

Most Turkish meals are started off with ekmek or a bread basket. This is the staple that’s usually best for mopping up whatever gravy that the dishes come with, hehe. Apart from bread, we also had a side of a mixed salad with piyaz or beans. Fresh & crunchy, paired with the creaminess of the white beans that were cooked with olive oil.

Served with pickled green chillies the köfte is wonderfully juicy with a light smokey aftertaste. The meat, mixed with spices that gives it a light cumin kick is bouncy and so flavourful. Rather basic, but sometimes, the simplicity is more than enough. A memorable start to my Turkish cuisine journey indeed.

For one of my friends that doesn’t eat beef, he’s lucky that there’s kuzu şiş kebap, lamb shish kebab. No frills also, but deliciously juicy.

To end the meal, I washed everything down with some ayran which I regarded as some form of salted lassi. The Turks love it but my friend was rather relieved that I liked it as she thought it was an acquired taste. But in my opinion, the cold yoghurty drink was refreshing.

Touristy or not, if you’re after some yummy köfte in a quick meal, this place is worth visiting. And best of all, it’s just near the blue mosque so it’s not difficult to locate.

Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi (www)
Divanyolu Caddesi No. 12,
Sultanahmet, Istanbul.

other reviews;
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“Local” McDonald’s – Turkey/Czech Rep/Greece

I am not the biggest McDonald’s fan as the local Malaysian ones are not as mouthwatering as the ones I had during my uni days in UK. But like HB here, I tend to want to check out “local” McD’s when I am travelling, just to see what they have that’s different from back home.

Turkey

The beefburgers here are called Kofteburgers and apparently the halal minced beef they use are mixed with local spices. But what caught my eye was the McTurco® – a type of Turkish Kebab with either chicken or beef patties.

We chose the beef ones and it’s very similar to a seasonal item we had here in Malaysia – the grilled chicken foldover. This comes with a pita bread / flatbread and double beef patties. The bread was not bad but I thought the whole thing was a tad dry. Doesn’t the lettuce look a bit dismal? Lol.

If you’re ever in Turkey, I would suggest you give this a miss and have other local durum wraps instead. Much more flavourful & tasty.

***
Prague, Czech Republic

We only did McD’s at the Prague airport before we were due to leave. During our weekend there, kept seeing banners advertising the Swiss King and in the end, curiousity got the better of us.

The swiss king is really quite something. Beef with melted cheese, a hash brown patty, bacon and beat this, bun topped with bacon cubes (!) and cheese! Very tasty but quite hard to finish towards the last few bites. I would recommend sharing this!

Also featured was deep fried Hermelin, a local cheese similar to Camembert made in Sedlčany. A soft white cheese that’s light in taste and wonderful when paired with the berry dip.

***

Athens, Greece

I heard somewhere that during Lent, the month before Easter in Greece, McDonald’s will offer more seafood based items. We didn’t have much time to head to any McDonald’s in Athens during our very brief stopover but did spot one at the airport.

True enough, they had a seasonal range featuring seafood or rather shrimps. There was the burger, wrap, salad, fried shrimp itself and even spring rolls.

In Greece, pita wraps are big and even McDonald’s has come up with a chicken pita wrap. The chicken strip, which has the texture of a Mcnugget is paired with ranch sauce & cheese. It tastes ok though I think KFC’s twister wraps beats it hands down. Still, the pita wraps on the streets are the real deal.

Decided to try the Shrimp burger which is purportedly made with 12 whole grilled prawns in the patty, and served with crisp iceberg lettuce in a bun with seaweed flakes. I quite like the taste and it reminded me of Wendy’s shrimp supreme.

Also had a portion of the crispy breaded shrimps served with sweet and sour sauce. Makes for a nice snack.

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Maxwell Food Centre, Chinatown Singapore.

During my past few trips to Singapore, I rarely had the chance to venture out alone, let alone go to Chinatown to explore. Travelling solo during this weekend in Singapore gave me the liberty to go wander. As I only had the morning to spare, I decided to go to Maxwell food centre as the food stalls along Smith Street were not open yet.

At 8 am, most of the stalls were not open but this particular one already had a steady queue. After joining the queue, I still had to wait about 20 mins before it was my turn. But by then, I could see the long waiting time was not really due to the number of people waiting in line, but due to the slower preparation time in the stall itself. An uncle was cooking every order separately, while another filleting fish at a corner. The aunty taking our order was not very friendly and had quite a long face. And I have heard her telling off the people in front of me already! The porridge here must be out of this world for people to put up with this?

After ordering, I still had to wait at the side for about 10 minutes before I was “summoned”. I say that simply because a lady in front of me accidentally touched a bowl of porridge that wasn’t hers and got barked at so I decided I would wait till I was called. Heh.

This “yu sheng” (鱼生) or raw fish salad seems to be on everyone’s tray so I too ordered the smallest portion. At $3, it’s value for money as you can see how the ingredients has piled up on the plate. A good squeeze of the lime, mix the whole lot throughly and dig in.

This was the highlight for this meal. It was more memorable than the porridge to be honest. The flavours of the fresh fish, ginger, spring onions, chilli, sesame seeds with the lime and oil blended very well together.

The porridge here is thick, with no whole rice grain in sight. I decided to have the 鱼腩 or “yu lam” which is the fish belly porridge. The single bowl of porridge was literally laden with ingredients, so much so that every spoonful I had was not only porridge alone, but with bits of fish, or spring onions, gingers, shallots etc. I forgot that the fish belly came with those long, curving bones and that did make this porridge a bit more troublesome to enjoy. But at $3, this was really value for money and if you’re the type that likes smooth, dense congee, then this is worth your time.

Zhen Zhen Porridge 真真粥品
Stall No.54, Maxwell Food Centre
Chinatown, Singapore.
Opens 5:30am to 2:30pm.

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*

Another famous stall in Maxwell food centre is Tian Tian which sells Singapore’s national dish, the Hainanese chicken rice. It needs little introduction and is touted as one of the best chicken rice in Singapore. Even though it opens at 11am, by 10:40am when I passed by, the queuing had already started. A quick peep confirms that they’ve already started serving, I quickly jumped into the queue too and within 10 minutes, received my own plate of steaming hot chicken rice.

So the verdict. The chicken was really good… succulent, juicy, and tender. I enjoyed every bite of the meat. As for the rice, it was flavourful and fluffy yet lacking the bite I was looking for. Perhaps I was expecting too much as even celebrity chefs have said so much about the rice. I loved the chilli, with it’s slightly sourish signature tinge. But instead of coating it on the chicken, I had it mostly with rice as I wanted to taste the chicken in its natural flavours.

The chicken won me over but not the rice so I guess the search for Singapore’s best chicken rice is still on for me… I reckon this would be my next stop?

Tian Tian Chicken Rice 天天海南鸡饭 (www)
Stall No.10 Maxwell Food Centre,
Chinatown, Singapore.
Opens 11am.

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vkeong

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Epicurious, Singapore

I have heard of Epicurious before but never thought that I’d go one day. It so happens that I was staying at the hotel just opposite The Quayside and as I walked to Robertson Quay, spotted the cafe. It was very full during weekend brunch times, and mostly with groups of friends catching up.

I was quite surprised to see only about 3-4 tables on the inside, while the majority of the seats were the al fresco ones. Despite the possibility of suffering from the heat, the al fresco seats do offer a great view of the colourful Alkaff bridge. I ended up sitting at one corner of one of the long tables in Epicurious as I’m alone.

As they are promoting casual dining, I can understand the quaint, unpretentious decor used. The mish mash of pre-loved chairs, tables with displays is charming, but bits of the restaurant has also started showing signs of wear. Still, it’s all part of the “charm” of this neighbourhood joint.

The comfort food served here consists of salads, soups, sandwiches, pasta etc and is listed on the blackboard behind the counter. However, the brunch menu is available on a print out.

The items that were highly recommended by others which I could recall off hand was this baked eggs with toast soldiers (sounds heavy :P) , the full monty (3! eggs, bacon strips, sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans) and pancakes. I ended up ordering the Green Eggs and Ham, which is really eggs scrambled in pesto for that greenish tinge, and a slice of prosciutto ham on bread and some herby potato cubes. Apart from the eggs being a tad salty, I would say it’s rather delicious! The bread was fresh and had a nice crunch and I loved the potatoes!

One thing that disconcerted me a little during my brunch here was probably the staff. Service was not the best, but the waiters were efficient enough. Yet, the lady behind the counter (which I later found out was one of the owners) made me uneasy as she seemed to enjoy snickering with the other help on customers. i mean, we can hear you!

well if there’s to be a second chance, i’m sticking to the al fresco seats to escape the “bad vibes”…

Epicurious (www)
#01-02 The Quayside,
60 Robertson Quay,
Singapore

Opening hours :
Tues-Fri 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 10pm
Sat & Sun 9 am-4pm, 5:30pm -10pm

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Hai Peng, Kemaman.

So following my Perth reviews, let’s start with something more closer to home. Home as in Malaysia since I’m going to start on places beyond Klang Valley. Hehe.

Cherating Beach

our project in Kuantan has recently commenced and I find myself making more and more day trips there. so far, haven’t found anything very exciting food wise (any recommendations??) and find that things are a tad slower there but it’s all good due to the vicinity of the beaches! Hehe.

Not sure what to do on a Saturday morning, we decided to drive the stretch of beach road, past all those lekor stalls to Chukai in Kemaman for the “famous” coffee. We actually got caught in a procession for the Maulidur Rasul celebration but after a bit of a crawl in the diverted traffic, we finally found ourselves at Kedai Kopi Hai Peng.

The shop was packed with many watching the procession which was going pass the shop. But turnover was relatively quick too so we managed to snag a table to plonk ourselves down. while waiting for the food, kept myself busy looking at all the decorations. reminds me of yut kee, with all the yesteryears’ memorabilia.

the kopi. smooth and smokey, but probably not the best I have had. don’t get me wrong, but i felt like the coffee lacked a certain oomph. the fragrance was so inviting to begin with. and i think so many people swear by it that i have had quite a bit of expectation. still, it was good enough for me to buy the pre-packed sachets home for friends & relatives.

but the ice-blended coffee is something. more intense and aromatic. and comes with ice cream, a love letter (the biscuit, not a real letter!) and even whipped cream!

Pre-packed nasi lemak from the kuih table. the sambal was quite good and went well with the rice.

Pre-packed nasi dagang. The rice was fragrant and creamy. Fish was a bit tough though. The gravy is placed in a separate container at the kuih table. Other kuihs I spotted included the ketayap, seri muka, onde-onde etc…

the roti bakar. The kaya was quite creamy and fragrant. the bread is a tad more doughy and heavier than the fluffy types we’re used to. But i like it, gives the bread a bite somehow.

A twist to the normal roti kahwin is this peanut butter and banana version. To make it truly decadent, a bit of nutella? Haha. But this tasted pretty good, but we had some where the bananas were overripe and ended up being quite messy.

The toasted buns. You can opt to have the conventional butter & kaya or even the peanut butter & banana filling. Crispy crust and pillow soft inside.

The french toast was nothing to shout about honestly. Normal bread was used and instead of honey or maple syrup, some homemade kaya was given with a small pack of butter.

Personally, the food’s not the main driving factor for me to return even if it’s one of the more notable food stops along the east coast drive. I enjoy the drive and the sights more, and the experience of dining with the locals and other eager tourists here. And oh, stuffing my face with chilli keropok and Mok Su’s satar during the drive. Hehe.

Kedai Kopi Hai Peng
3753, Jalan Sulaimani
Chukai,
24000, Kemaman,
Terengganu.

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9marys, Perth

Have walked past this restaurant for a couple of times and love the modern, spacious feel to it. Lots of glass, Andy warhol-inspired prints etc. When I found out it was in fact an Indian restaurant, was floored. But then, who said Indian restaurants had to look a certain way? Anyway, we were on our way to watch a comedy show at a nearby theatre and decided to pop in for a quick dinner.

Started off with the Tandoori Tasting Plate ($34.00) which has a variety of lamb seekh kebab, chicken tikka, tandoori salmon, king prawns and tandoori paneer. I liked the kebab mostly coz it was tasty and retained the juices well. The chicken was a bit dry but otherwise pretty decent.

Garlic naan ($4.50). A bit oily, but fluffy and very good accompaniment to the dishes.

We had Saag Gosht ($25.50), which is lamb with spinach and also Fish Vindaloo. Tastewise I would say it’s rather authentic but portions were quite measly given the prices charged (but then, they’re in downtown Perth!). Also, I feel that the spiciness level for the Vindaloo has been toned down to suit the locals’ tastedbuds.

Overall, food was quite good and service, even if efficient was a tad cold in my opinion. But forum reviews seem to suggest that the set lunch is value for money so maybe that’s worth checking out.

9Marys (www)
16 Milligan Street,
Perth, Australia.
Closed on Public Holidays.

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Le Croissant du Moulin, Perth

Heading to this place warrants a pleasant drive up Gooseberry Hill. The patisserie is not that big and they have a few tables, mostly at the al fresco area.

Bestie highly recommended the Almond Croissant. And truly, it was delicious even if I am not a huge fan of all products of the almond nut save for it being in its original state. The croissant pastry was flakey and buttery, pure comfort food.

We also had a Mushroom quiche and it was served with fresh salad. Eggy yet creamy, this was also rather delightful though I found the crust at the end a tad dry.

Can’t recall what this pie is at all. Chicken something … hehe. But that’s not to say it wasn’t good. Same pastry as the croissant, in all its buttery goodness, or should I say sinfulness?

This pastry is another to look out for. The Jesuite pastry was named after the triangular Jesuit’s hat and is filled with frangipane cream and topped with powdered sugar and almond flakes. If you love all almond-flavoured things, this will be the pastry for you. Moist, fragrant filling, a tad sweet perhaps but balance it with a cuppa and you’re set. However that being said, almond-flavoured things were never really my thing so I did enjoy the savoury items more.

Le Croissant du Moulin (www)
169 Railway Road,
Kalamunda
Gooseberry Hill, 6076
Open Wed-Sun : 7:30am-5pm
Closed Mon/Tues

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