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When it comes to food in Ipoh, the most famous of them all has got to be chicken rice with bean sprout, and for those who love this dish, there’s no other place that is more popular than Restoran Tauge Ayam Ong Kee right in the heart of Ipoh town, which was where we stopped by for lunch on New Year’s day.

Ong Kee Ipoh Chicken Rice
Ong Kee Ipoh Chicken Rice

If you get to Ong Kee on weekends of during public holidays, getting there in itself can sometimes be a problem, and parking too can be quite a challenge. After all those, you may still end up spending a bit of time waiting for a vacant table. Though thankfully, food usually doesn’t take too long to be served, so there’s that.

innards, bean sprouts, poached chicken
innards, bean sprouts, poached chicken

The menu choices are simple, there’s poached chicken, innards, bean sprouts, and there’s also pork balls should you want to indulge yourself in some non-avian meat.

Most popular eateries get the “used to be better” and “overrated” labels quite a bit, but honestly speaking I do find Ong Kee’s chicken right on par with expectations. They are tender, not overly complex, and soak in properly balanced cocktail of soya sauce. The bean sprouts too is of rather good quality, as with most bean sprouts from Ipoh, probably due to the water quality.

the amount of chicken they sell each day is astounding
the amount of chicken they sell each day is astounding

Overall, lunch proved to be quite a satisfying affair, and at RM 36 including drinks, it was quite an affordable option as well. Happy eating!

map to Ong Kee chicken rice, Ipoh

Address:
Ong Kee Tauge Chicken Rice
48,51 & 53, Jalan Yau Tet Shin,
Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh, Perak
GPS:  4.593838, 101.083929
Tel:  05-253 1562

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While curry may be originated from Indian cuisine, here in Malaysia, the local Chinese has since adopted many of the same spices and cooking methods and embraced the dish as their own. Of many curry dishes out there, one of my favorites has got to be fish head curry, one of those dishes that may raise an eyebrow or two if you try to describe it to Westerners.

One of the many restaurants that can cook up a pretty awesome curry fish head is Ah Lye Curry Fish Head at Subang SS19.

Ah Lye Curry Fish Head with the gang
Ah Lye Curry Fish Head with the gang

Nestled within the housing area of SS19 in Subang Jaya, Ah Lye is one of those old school type of “tai chao” restaurant that has embraced the fact that Malaysian weather and dinner is sometimes not the best combination, hence the place is equipped with air conditioning, albeit with otherwise very basic set up.

Parking is quite a straight forward affair as well since it is not a busy commercial area like other shop lots areas in Subang.

curry fish head, asam prawn, fuyung egg
curry fish head, asam prawn, fuyung egg

It was a dinner for 7 pax, and we naturally ordered 6 dishes to share around.

The claypot curry fish head was definitely on point. Loaded with generous amount of okra, brinjal, and fish head, it reminds me of the Nyonya version that mom used to (and still) makes. I love it.

The asam prawn here is quite proper as well, with thick soya sauce covering those pretty decent size prawns. It would have been perfect if they make it slightly more charred.

Fuyong egg provided even more seafood on our third dish with bounty from the sea, if you have a history with gout, this may not be the most healthy diet.

fried tofu skin, namyu pork, vege
fried tofu skin, namyu pork, vege

Stuffed tofu skin and fried namyu pork provided some differing texture to our dinner, they were crunchy as they are savory, goes well with steamed rice.

Of course, we always have a vegetable dish to provide a bit of balance to the whole menu, choy sum served this purpose well in this case.

Expect to spend around RM 20-30 per pax here, and it will be well worth it.

map to Ah Lye curry fish head, Subang Jaya

Address:
Ah Lye Curry Fish Head
No. 28, Jalan SS19/1G,
47500, Subang Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.075912, 101.575388
Tel03-5638 0468

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Thai food is probably the most matured international cuisine in Malaysia, we now get most everything Thailand has to offer, thanks to our proximity to the nation of origin, as well as our generally rather similar taste buds.

If you’re not far from Setia Alam area and love a good meal of non-halal Thai food, then perhaps Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant should be on your short list.

Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant at Setia Alam
Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant at Setia Alam

Located in the middle of the busy commercial area within Setia Alam, Thai Syok takes up a couple units of shop lots. The place gets quite busy over on weekday lunch hours and especially so during weekend dinner sessions. If you get there later than 7 or so, expect to wait for a table, or perhaps even get seated outside ala mamak style. I guess you can also call it alfresco dining to be more classy.

dinner is best served in varying colors
dinner is best served in colors – lemon steamd fish, prawn in coconut milk

I’ve so far tried quite a few dishes over two different dinner sessions at Thai Syok, with rather favorable experience overall.

The tomyam (RM 15.90 – RM 39.20) is served in the old school hotpot, properly seasoned, and carries quite a kick. The small portion should suffice for up to 4 pax or so.

Their lemon steam fish (siakap RM 44.50 – RM 59.30) is a great substitution if you don’t want to go with tomyam, The fish is fresh, and you get the soup base that’s properly sour, spicy, and very appetizing. Just thinking of this soup makes my saliva going.

If you are into spicy lemak food, prawn in coconut milk (RM 40) should fit the bill. This dish is rich, spicy, and flavorful.

raw prawn salad, moo ping (pork skewer), classic tomyam
raw prawn salad, moo ping (pork skewer), classic tomyam

Think raw seafood is only associated with sushi/sashimi? Then you gotta give the raw prawn salad a go (RM 22.20). Over here they serve it with a slice of bitter gourd, which I think accentuate the sweetness of the prawn quite well. My first time having this particular dish was at Kepong’s Thai Village, and subsequently at Khun Thai, Klang. I’ve been ordering this dish whenever available these days.

The moo ping (grilled pork satey, RM 12 for 3) is Yuki’s favorite, and nobody rejects the order either as we all enjoyed it as well, but I would also like to try out some of their other yakitori dishes next time (such as prawn, basil pork, orchicken wings).

red ruby has got to be my favorite Thai dessert
red ruby has got to be my favorite Thai dessert

Perhaps due to the amount of crowd or their extensive menu, my experience was that we always had to wait for quite a bit before dessert is served. That being said, their red ruby (RM 6.90) is on point.

I’m quite sure this is a restaurant that’ll repeating business from us for time to come.

thai syok seafood restaurant map at Setia Alam

Address:
Thai Syok Seafood Restaurant
No. 7-1-2, Ground Floor,
Jalan Setia Prima H U13/H,
Setia Alam,
40170 Shah Alam, Selangor
GPS: 3.096934, 101.445174
Tel03-3359 6283
Hours
11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:45–10:30PM

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One of the reasons I’ve been to Vietnam 9 times prior to this trip was due to work. Back then, we were developing a pretty complicated web based program with a team of programmers based in Ho Chi Minh City, and the team lead for that project was none of ther than Trinh, a friendly local chap whom I’ve developed a friendship over the years.

Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện is the name of the restaurant
Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện is the name of the restaurant

So on this trip, I took the opportunity to catch up with Trinh again after not seeing each other on flesh for the past 9 years or so.

Haze and I was on a rented scooter, following Trinh on his bike heading to District 3 towards Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện 2 restaurant for dinner involving fish. A place I have visited in my previous trip, courtesy of another Vietnamese colleague’s introduction. I actually consulted the same person for address, too bad she was not able to join us over the holiday season.

fish is as fresh as they come, they're alive!
fish is as fresh as they come, they’re alive!

What we came here for was Keo fish, a type of freshwater goby/mudskipper measuring some half a feet or so (scientific name – pseudapocryptes elongatus). According to Trinh, this delicacy is only available in South Vietnam.

The fish is usually served in two different ways – grilled, or in soup.

The grilled version is served on a stick not entirely different from shishamo in Japanese cuisine, but of course with plenty of vege on the side, and some fish sauce based condiment on the side.

grilled keo fish vs steamboat version, Trinh & me
grilled keo fish vs steamboat version, Trinh & me

The soupy version though, came in a hotpot with even more vegetable and a side of vermicelli noodle as well. The texture is smooth and it also has a naturally sweet seafood flavor.

We didn’t know how fresh the fish were until Trinh ordered additional fishes when we ran out. They came to the table ALIVE! The waiter then carefully dump the live fish into the hotpot and close the lid real quick to spare us the death scene. A few minutes later, we were enjoying some of the sweetest and freshest seafood, the taste is not overly different from marble goby, in fact.

If you’re into some special type of seafood, this place would offer quite an experience.

P/S: I believe it was something below 300,000 VND for the three of us for this meal.

map to ba huyen 2, ho chi minh city

 

Address:
Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện 2
10 Nguyễn Thông, phường 7
District 3, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.777475, 106.685398
Tel: +84 8 3930 0636

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When it comes to foriegn cuisine, it is safe to say that the most popular of all out of South East Asia is that of our Northern neighbor – Thai. You can find a good bowl of tomyam most anywhere in the world.

For us in Malaysia, we had the good fortune of being able to indulge in some of the most authentic dishes Thailand has to offer thanks to our proximity and our shared history across the border.

Tigerlily at DC Mall
Tigerlily at DC Mall

This tradition continues at Tigerlily, one of the latest Thai restaurants located at DC Mall, the new spanking shopping complex located at Damansara Height, and we were lucky enough to get invited to sample some of their dishes.

To properly prep for the restaurant, the local chefs were sent to Thailand to sample and learn about the different dishes from its origin so they can be recreated at this outfit. Don’t let the interior decoration and plating style fools you, what you get here is not far from what you’ll find in some of the old school Thai restaurants.

3 layer coffee? Lemongrass? or classic Thai iced tea?
3 layer coffee? Lemongrass? or classic Thai iced tea?

To start the night, we ordered their Thai iced tea & iced coffee with gula melaka (RM 6.90) which looked stunning, but for those who liked it old school, their traditional Thai iced tea (RM 4.60) would be the one to go for. For those who like it plain & soothing, perhaps a glass of lemongrass drink (RM 3.50) would do the trick.

fried calamari, lemongrass satey
fried calamari, lemongrass satey

There’s no alcohol served here (they’re in process of obtaining halal certification), but the fried calamari & lemongrass satey (RM 9.90 for 5) really begs for a cold one. We particularly like the zesty homemade sauce that is served together with the squid.

four angle beans, steamed otak otak
four angled beans, steamed otak otak

Another snack we ordered was the steamed otak-otak (RM 5.90), it came in an aluminium cup similar to those you’d find holding larmaikai, but instead of chicken you’d have seafood in classic Thai otak fillings. I thought it was decent, though if I have to choose between this and regular Penang style otak-otak, the latter would be my pick.

We then proceed to main dishes to go with rice and started out with the veges.

First was four angled beans with peanuts (RM 9.90), a juicy and crunchy affair that’s fitting to open up one’s appetite.

stir fry kailan, spicy eggplant with dry shrimp
stir fry kailan, spicy eggplant with dry shrimp

The stir fry kailan (RM 12.90) here is a simple dish that’s not out of place from any ‘tai-chao’ restaurants around town. My favorite though, would be the spicy eggplant with dry shrimp (RM 14.90), really rich, savory, and comes with a kick, steamed rice is really compulsory with this.

tomyum seafood, Thai red curry chicken, Thai green curry prawn
tomyum kung, Thai red curry chicken, Thai green curry prawn

No Thai meal is complete without a good serving of tomyam, their tomyum kung (shrimp, RM 26.90) really packs a punch. You’d have to be a bit careful not to treat everything green here as scallions, for there are a lot of whole green chili padi in the mix, just the way a good bowl of tomyam should be.

The Thai red curry chicken (RM 15.90) is slightly less hardcore on the spicy scale, but it makes up for being creamy and flavorful. A decent interpretation of the dish in my opinion.

Then there’s the Thai green curry prawn (RM 26.90), served with generous amount of eggplant, this dish delivers a mix of seafood sweetness and the unique taste of green curry, I really enjoyed it (mostly cos eggplant is one of my favorite veges too.)

Thai grilled fish
Thai grilled fish

The Thai grilled fish (RM 46.90) was our final main dish of the night, and would be for you anyone who orders it as Tigerlily makes this from scratch when you order and it takes the longest amount of time to prepare.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t particularly find the dish impressive, and not to the fault of the chef or how they prepare this. Tilapia is quite a bland tasting fish and I find this classic Thai preparation method did not sufficiently add enough flavor to the fish. It was okay, if you love this street style fish, you’d like it here, otherwise I’d probably give it a miss. My favorite Thai fish dish is still the steamed siakap (which they also serve)

mango sticky rice, ice kacang, tub tim crob, cendol
mango sticky rice, ice kacang, tub tim crob, cendol

Then of course, we proceed to desserts.

We sampled their mango sticky rice (RM 9.90), ice kacang (RM 11.90), tub tim crob (red ruby, RM 7.00), cendol (RM 4.90), and banana fritters with ice cream (RM 12.90).

With the exception of the banana fritters, every dessert looked like a piece of art, the presentation is really stunning! Thankfully, they do taste the part as well.

I like how the cendol, ABC, and red ruby all uses the really fine shaven ice (sort of like those Korean style desserts) which makes the sweetness melt in your mouth that much quicker. Careful not to get brain freeze though.

banana fritters & friends we were with at the session
banana fritters & friends we were with at the session

If you haven’t find a reason to head to DC Mall, perhaps Tigerlily would be a good excuse.

map to DC Mall

Address:
Tigerlily
Damansara City Mall,
Lot LG 18 Lower Ground,
6, Jalan Damanlela,
50490 
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.146140, 101.661675
Tel03-2011 2912
Web: www.tigerlily.com.my