29 January, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Nonya Food @ Kafe Bulldog, Malacca



Some retro-looking cups and electrical appliances

Retro Coke, Nonya Otak-otak, Cendol & Nonya Laksa

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20 January, 2009

Taste of Malaysia Series 4 - Otak-Otak Shiduoli @ Jalan Storey

Otak-otak, is a popular food made from Fish Paste, usually Mackerel and mixed with Chillies and Coconut Milk. The paste is then wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled over charcoal fire giving it an aromatic smoky flavour. Combined that with Nasi Lemak, or Coconut Rice that is usually accompanied by Egg, Ikan Bilis, or Fried Anchovies, Fried Peanuts, along with a dash of Sambal Chilli and what one gets is a hearty breakfast to start the day with.

Located in Jalan Storey, behind the abandoned Pacific Mall Shopping Complex, Shiduoli Otak-otak has been around for 20 over years.

Stepped into the coffeeshop and one will be greeted by the inviting smell of the nicely charred otak-otak.

The SOP is to 1) pick up the coconut rice from the stall 2) wait for the server to come around the tables with a carton box 3) and shout the number of sticks of otak-otak you wish to consume when asked. And be astonished by the way the server count and toss the sticks of otak-otak across the table – it is rude yet innovative at the same time if you asked HFB. One quick look across the coffeshop and you will see otak-otak strewn all over the tables.

The nasi lemak is slight mushy with coconut taste and goes well with the chilli – but definitely not the best HFB has eaten.

The highlight of the day though definitely belongs to the otak-otak. Right off the grilling pit, one would definitely be tempted to chomp on it, however HFB would advised to leave it cool for awhile so that the heat will not “overwhelm” the taste. Slightly heavier on the coconut milk than most Singapore’s version, chomping of the otak-otak is indeed addictive. Perhaps because of the minute serving of some, HFB easily consumed 15 sticks at one go.

Going at RM0.60 for one stick, HFB reckons one should try this wonderful experience. However, like the saying goes “Early bird catches the worm”, one should not be surprised that the otak-otak and nasi lemak would be sold out by 10am – so be there really early!

Food: 4/5 (Otak-otak is really addictive!)
Service: 3.5/5 (Might need to wait during peak hours)
Ambience: 4/5 (Spacious kopitiam - very cooling)
Price: 3.5/5 (RM0.60 is pretty pricey for minute otak-otak)
Total: 15/20
78 Jalan Storey
80300 Johor Bahru, Malaysia

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15 January, 2009

Taste of Malaysia Series 3 - Chakra Restaurant

In Sanskrit, “Chakra” refers to the seven points of the body associated with mediation – something that HFB was enlightened at Going Om. However, in Tamil, it simply refers to the chariot wheel. A pre-war house with eight rooms, that once housed 25 people under one roof, it has now been converted into a dining outlet for people searching for an Indian dining experience.

Instead of specialising one style of Indian cuisine, Chakra offers dishes from all over India’s sub-continent. Rumoured to be the only Indian a la carte restaurant in Johor Bahru, the top floor of this colonial bungalow were demolished to create a spacious dining area and the three bedrooms downstairs were converted into private dining areas.

With such a rich history and heritage, it is said that dining tables and chairs aside, most of the fixtures such as cabinets and side tables have been with the restaurants for decades.

The Plain Briyani (RM5.00) came with metal bowls and was served steaming hot. Although it is always comforting to be served rice that are warm, in this instance HFB would rather something lukewarm – so that the aroma of the spices from the briyani could be better appreciated.

The accompanied Poppadom was crustily delightful, and we actually requested for a second helping, and best part was – it came complimentary!

Alternatively, one could also opt to have their Garlic Naan (RM5.90) as their staple. Come served in 3 portions on a plate, the serving looked pretty modest but have a bite and your breath will guaranteed be reek of garlic – HFB loves a naan with strong garlic flavour!

The Mutton Khorma (RM18.00), which is essentially a dish of mutton cubes cooked in thick Coconut Gravy and usually with the addition of Red Chilli, didn’t exactly sit well with HFB. Not to mention it was gamy to begin with, the coconut gravy made the side dish too “heavy” to go along with the briyani.

The Gobi Mancurian (RM12.00), an originally Manchurian dish, was created by a group of Chinese immigrants who settled in the streets of Kolkatta. To cater to the vegetarian clientele, the Chinese used local vegetables such as Cauliflower, and spiced it up with their condiments brought from their homeland to create the Manchurian sauce – the result, a VERY spicy vegetable dish that was suitably for an Indian's palette.

It leaves a numbing sensation when consumed and it didn’t came as a surprise that it was the only dish we didn’t finished that night. Thankfully, the Mushroom Masala (RM12.00) was a much-needed reprieve. The mushrooms were cooked to the right chewy texture and goes really well with the thick and highly spiced gravy. This was everyone’s comfort dish for the evening.
However, no dishes could take away any credits from the megastar that evening – the Tandoori Chicken (RM17.90 for ½ portion). Traditionally roasted in a clay oven, or Tandoor, the chicken is usually marinated in Yoghurt and given a red hue by the spices. What sets Chakra’s tandoori chicken apart from the rest HFB had tasted thus far was their chicken are only roasted freshly upon ordered – therefore one actually gets to indulge the freshly roasted, charred exterior of the skin, which to HFB is sheer gratification (although the ignorant might not necessary take pleasure in - Heh)!!!

Dining mates had a Mango Lassie (RM9.00) and Masala Tea (RM2.50) each but HFB stick to his plain water instead to wash down his food.

Dinner was concluded with a thoughtful complimentary Indian Ice Cream dessert from the boss. Regrettably it was too sweet and HFB just wasn’t used to it.

Food: 3.5/5 (Hits and misses - but tandoori chicken was really good!)
Service: 4/5 (Generally accommodating and fast)
Ambience: 4/5 (Old colonial bungalow - how cool is that!)
Price: 2.5/5 (RM91.67 - very expensive in JB's standard)
Total: 14/20
1 Jalan Yusuf Taha
80100 Johor Bahru, Malaysia

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14 January, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Chakra Restaurant

Masala Tea
... more coming soon in next post!

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11 January, 2009

Taste of Malaysia Series 2 - Cathay Laksa

Due to the “cleanup” by the health ministry along with the legislation and licensing of street hawkers in the late 60s and early 70s, one could no longer enjoy the good food prepared by hawkers along the streets of Singapore. However, if one decided to re-visit the good old days, all one need to do is to follow the few hints that HFB is going to dish out for you – and you will chanced upon a stretch of street hawkers in Johor Bahru.

Look out for (1) Plaza Pelangi and the (2) Standard Chartered Bank opposite the petrol station in (3) Taman Century close to the Causeway, and one will be amazed to find street hawkers thriving in the evening starting from 5.30pm onwards. And the one stall that HFB will definitely give it a try, is the Cathay Laksa (RM3.00) served by the Food Nazi, “black faced” auntie – HFB frequent there often and has never once seen her smile before.

Served almost similarly to Laksa Yong Tau Foo style – with lots of Beancurd, Beancurd Skin, Fried Fishballs and Cockles – devotees of laksa served with rich amounts of coconut milk (hint: Katong Laksa), however would be disappointed with the version served here.

Weak and tasteless” would probably be some terms coined by them, but HFB prefer the clearer, less heavy on the palate gravy offered by Cathay Laksa. Also, the reality that it isn’t as ‘jelak’ means HFB can often cleaned up a second helping easily if he isn’t watching his waistline.

Bee Hoon mixed with Yellow Mee is often the preferred choice of HFB and the chewy Fried Fishballs are his favourite.

And if you are visiting the place for the first time, you might also wish to give the Char Kway Teow and the Dessert stall that sells pretty good Cheng Teng a try!


Food: 4.5/5 (Like the gravy and the fried fishballs)
Service: 3/5 (Grouchy auntie)
Ambience: 3/5 (One sit on tables lined up along the narrow street behind the buildings)
Price: 5/5 (Ha! It's a steal)
Total: 15.5/20
Jalan Harimau Tarum, Taman Century
80250 Johor Bahru
(The lane behind Standard Chartered Bank)

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08 January, 2009

Taste of Malaysia Series 1 - Mee Rebus @ Kafe Enampuluhan

If you have already not known, HFB had been up north to our neighbouring country, Malaysia, over December period. So in the coming weeks, HFB will be featuring his food escapades in the land of “Truly Asia”. And my first stop – Johor Bahru – a favourite food haunt among Singaporeans. It was a sunny yet windy afternoon and therefore my trusted friend was keen enough to bring us to an alfresco dining place for a plate of Mee Rebus (RM3.00).

With a seafront view across the road, Kafe Enampuluhan possess that little magic that many other coffee shops do not offer.

Mee rebus, is literally a plate of Yellow Egg Noodles topped with a Potato and Peanut Gravy that comes with a tint of spiciness in it, and usually garnished with Boiled Egg, Bean Sprouts and Chinese Celery.

To be brutally honest, HFB is never a fan of mee rebus due to the potato starch that is present in the dish – he often finds it too filling and jelak from it! So if you may ask, what’s so special about this particular simple, unpretentious plate of mee rebus? The answer lies in liberal sprinkling of fritters that gives that extra oomph to the already appetising robust gravy. Every mouthful of noodles came delivered with the divine goodness of the crunchy fritters – Sedap!

Their version of gravy is hardly spicy at all and bends towards sweet than savoury – so even kids will not mind indulging in it.

So whoever says you can’t have romantic meals with cheap and good food with a nice cup of Teh Peng, or Ice Milk Tea to go along with it?


Food: 4.5/5 (Best plate of Mee Rebus HFB have tried!)
Service: 4/5 (Fast and efficient)
Ambience: 4.5/5 (Al fresco + seafront view - what else can you ask for?)
Price: 5/5 (Ha! It's a steal)
Total: 18/20
69 Jalan Sultan Ibrahim
80300 Johor Bahru
(Next to New Hong Kong Restaurant and The Heritage Hotel)

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