Saturday, February 24, 2007
Red & Gold
Yet another reason to feast and make merry :D Most apt for a grand start to the Year of the Pig! Reunion dinner this year was a memorable affair as 20+ adults and a bevy of kids packed into 3rd aunt's house. Everyone jostled to place their dish in the centre of the table; and the winner of the "first dish wiped out" went to my 4th aunt... who has been diligently working on her grilled cod fish for many years ;) This year, Mom decided to switch her abalone soup for the herbal "six tastes soup" or liu wei tang coupled with the natural goodness of fruits, lean pork, dried abalone and a strangely but aptly named "sharksfin gourd". Instead of yusheng, we had a refreshing salad made of roast duck, jellyfish and a combination of shredded vegetables tossed in plum sauce... yummy!
This has got to be the most addictive New Year dish that has emerged tops year after year :D My maternal grannie's ngoh hiang or five spiced meat has the perfect balance of texture (tender filling encased in crispy and salty beancurd skin) and taste (slight saltiness complementing the sweet chilli sauce) hmm..... I guess this is one dish that I'd better pick up!
HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR TO ALL!
stormiii at 4:33 pm
Sunday, February 11, 2007
I've waxed lyrical about the most yummylicious noodle dish that I've eaten before and I've finally gotten the pics to prove my case! Okinawan soba served with pieces of unbelievably tasty and tender pork belly and freshly made noodles (similar to meepok) in a rich broth. Add a dash of chilli-soaked awamori (Okinawan's answer to sake) and you're halfway to heaven ;D Traditional Okinawan cuisine is a unique blend of Japanese and Chinese and is one of the secrets behind the islanders' longevity. Unfortunately, all that is changing as the new generation soaks up American fast food joints - I was amazed to find that SPAM (luncheon meat brand) was taking the place of pork in their traditional dishes!
Nirai Kanai (Level 4, Tanglin Shopping Centre) can be vaguely translated as "paradise" or "land of eternity" in the Okinawan dialect. Originally a hang-out for Japanese expats, it has become popular with the locals as a place that serves fantastic, almost exotic food in a casual atmosphere (think Japanese izakaya). We ordered a few yakimono (grilled items) such as the ox-tongue, so thinly sliced that it melts in your mouth :D
Out of curiosity, we ordered the Okinawan crepe that featured "black sugar" (one of Okinawa's famous exports). I would have preferred mine with some sweet potato ice cream, which would have complemented the chewy and crisp textures perfectly. Hmm...
stormiii at 1:03 am
Saturday, February 03, 2007
One look at that photo montage and you'd know what I was up to in Penang, Malaysia last Christmas ;D The minute my family dumped our bags at the Cititel Hotel, we went in search of Penang's legendary dishes. A lip smacking breakfast of fried kuay teow (fried with just the right amount of grease and fat bean sprouts), ngoh hiang (five-spiced meat served rather differently to what we get here) and duck noodle soup washed down with aromatic and perky hot coffee/ice cold and sweet milk tea ... aaahh!
Penang Island is well known as a food paradise - I loved how food carts would spring up at every street corner in the mornings and evenings and feed the hungry masses... ok, fortunate locals and greedy tourists :D This pic shows the line of people waiting at a famous Teochew Chendol dessert stall. One can choose to slurp up the huge red beans and rich coconut milk at the stall itself or like the smart tourists we were, seek refuge at a shop-space that the stall had done well enough to open. We actually returned to this place for their chendol, ice kachang and rojak on our last day!
The Komtar Tower used to dominate the skyline in the old city of Georgetown, where Chinatown and other historical bits of Penang can be found. These days however, Singapore styled condominium projects are seen dotting the coastal landscape. Gurney Drive (also famous as another gourmet stretch by the beach) is now packed with a shopping mall and the spanking new and ultra modern looking, "g" Hotel.
I love walking through markets and we were lucky to catch all the action of a Saturday morning outdoor market :D Local produce, glistening prawns and fish from the morning's catch, chicken pieces flying through the air and cute undergarments (if one so desires) were all for sale!
Exploring the streets of old Georgetown, I was reminded of Melaka. There were many quaint and charming finds such as the "New Asia Hotel" here and the old fashioned dry goods and sundry shops it housed. I forgot to ask how much a night's stay cost though ;D
Another gem was the Cheong Fatt Tze (Blue) Mansion. Formerly the home of a respected Chinese official, it has now been converted into a heritage site and a boutique hotel. Cultural buffs keen to experience living in a traditional "chinese courtyard house" should not give this a miss! Unfortunately, we missed the daily guided tours and could only admire the house from afar.
A replica of our Raffles Hotel? The Eastern & Oriental Hotel was also founded by the Sarkies brothers in 1885 and welcomed the usual crowd of colonial elite and British figures e.g. Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, etc. Somehow, I liked it better for it's cosiness and stronger "colonial flavour", where Raffles has become more commercialised.
A little of the tropical beach feel can be found at the Holiday Inn at Batu Ferringhi :D We tried their Christmas Eve dinner buffet ($50 per person) which compared to Singapore standards, was not a good deal. Ah well, we had a merry time anyway with the party poppers and al fresco atmosphere!
True to our foodie mission, we bade farewell to Penang by squeezing in a trip to the hawker stretch outside Sunway Hotel :D "One oyster omelette... rojak... penang laksa!"
stormiii at 3:39 pm