How time flies, 2009 is already coming to an end. This year I have written 156 posts, which comes to an average of 13 posts a month, or 3 posts weekly – quite consistent I think lol. To sum it off, 2009 has been a good year for my Food and Travel Blog, as I have finally managed to achieve a traffic of 2 million hits a year, with 60k uniques a month. You, as the reader is the reason why this could possibly happen. So I really thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. THANKS!
Some of the most surprising things that happened to me were offers to host a short tv show, to be a food planner and to write for food magazine. To be honest I couldn’t have imagined my blog would have this type of attention when I first started.
But in the end, I have to decline all the offers because I had to go to Singapore to work. Besides that, I have also made the decision to stop accepting the so called “invited reviews”, because I find it hard to stay true to my opinions.
Anyway, looking back at what I have said at the end of 2008, that I wanted to focus on writing more on hawker and street food, I am glad to say I managed to fulfill it – although I did sway a little during the mid-year lol and blogged hell a lot of buffets.
So, this will be my last post for 2009 and instead of writing a new post, I’ve decided to compile a list of the good, bad and worst of my ‘eats’ and travels done in 2009. Just to be clear, the items mentioned below are from the list of stuff I have blogged in 2009 only, doesn’t mean it’s the best of the best yeah lol. Here goes!
BEST CHICKEN RICE
Tian Tian’s Chicken Rice is indeed very delicious and flavorful that it can be enjoyed even on its own. The rice’s firm texture played an important role too, giving it a nice biting sensation. Seriously, I did not expect rice could taste so good.
Petaling Jaya: Kee Kee Bentong Chicken Rice @ Kelana Jaya
Kee Kee’s chicken is bigger in size with yellower than usual skin, that’s because the birds used are claimed to be corn-fed. And although the chicken was chopped into big pieces, it was still tender and juicy, even the breast meat! I really enjoyed it. I think the secret is to not fully cook the chicken, this is pretty evident from the meat’s slight pinkish color and the trace of blood visible in the bones.
Halal version: Haron Satay @ East Coast Lagoon Food Village
What makes Haron Satay really stand out is the marination of the satay meat. I just never tasted any juicier, tender satay that could be so flavorful even eaten on its own. Even after being dipped into the peanut sauce, the meat’s marinade dominates the taste through the burst of flavor upon chewing. Simply delicious.
Non Halal version: Kwong Satay @ Geylang Lorong 29
The primary reason I liked Kwong Satay so much is because it tasted very similar those in Malaysia. Each stick of satay is priced at $0.40 each, a slight increase from the old price of $0.35. Being affordable and delicious, it easily became one of the bests satay I have had so far.
BEST PRAWN MEE
The soup served in the mini wok has a much redder hue as well as a sweeter, prawny flavor – seems to be prepared using a more intense stock. While waiting for my order I observed the preparation process. I noticed the tiger prawns were cooked by swishing them in a separate pot of soup, which could very well be source the extra flavor.
Petaling Jaya: Penang Prawn Mee @ O & S Coffee Shop, Taman Paramount
At Taman Paramount Petaling Jaya there’s already an impressive prawn noodle stall that can beat most of the Penang ones. I was at KL three weeks ago to meet up with some friends and we had our lunch at O & S Coffee Shop.
BEST NASI LEMAK
If you like your nasi lemak with extra ingredients then you gotta give Village Park @ Damansara Uptown a try. Besides plain nasi lemak, they offer various dishes as additional add-ons like ayam goreng rempah, sambal udang, sambal petai and even rendang.
BEST AIS KACANG
I have to say they really did not skimp on the ingredients as generous amount of peanuts, red beans, grass jelly, sweet corn and atapchi were given. For me it’s super valuable. There’s simply no way you can purchase a bowl of Ais Kacang laden with so much toppings for only RM3.50 in KL.
The soft shaved ice, sweet tasting with a hint of refreshing Sarsi flavor was a perfect treat in the hot afternoon. Every mouthful taken is met with interesting textures of the crunchy peanuts, tender-soft red beans, smooth grass jelly and chewy atapchi. Just great.
BEST CURRY MEE
The ingredients are of typical Penang curry mee: cockles, tofu pok, long beans and my favorite – coagulated pork blood.. simply can’t get enough of it. Besides the ingredients, what makes a good bowl of curry mee is none other than the soup and the chili sauce. The sweet coconut curry soup, when combined with the thick chili sauce turned into a fiery red soup full of kick that makes you want more with every mouthful. Really nice.
BEST CHAR SIEW
I feel the perfect cut for Char Siew would be ‘pun fei sao’ ones (too bad for the weight watchers and dieters) with layers of sweet, soft juicy fat that melts in your mouth. I am not exaggerating here, the meat really dissolves just by moving it around in your mouth and applying little pressure using the tongue.
The Char Siew already tastes great on its own but feel free to dip them into the Char Siew sauce for a sweeter, enhanced flavor.
BEST BAK KUT TEH
Most of the Bak Kut Teh we have is soupy and extra soup can be requested without hassle. But Pandamaran’s Bak Kut Teh’s soup base is uniquely rich and thick and very little soup is served in each portion. The aromatic and delicious soup can only be topped up when you ask for additional rice, and the additional soup they give is about 10 to 15 table spoons at most!
BEST ROAST DUCK
Wing Heong remains my favorite place to have roast duck rice. For me, their roast duck is fabulous and reasonably priced too. Gotta love the flavor and juiciness present in the roast duck. You also have a choice of normal white rice or oily rice, I always go for the latter.
BEST YONG TAU FU
Taste wise the Yong Tau Fu turned out to be very good, a lot better than what I expected. The Yong Tau Fu, made using fresh ingredients and prepared fresh upon order really makes a difference – crazily crispy and goes well with the sauce given. Even the soup is great, especially enjoyable during the hazy days like now.
BEST IKAN BAKAR
An ordinary looking stall in an ordinary food court in Mid Valley is drawing the crowds. What seemed like an economical place to have lunch and dinner for the mall’s workers is also frequented by the customers. They make a beeline for the not-so-ordinary Portugese Grilled Seafood, which is popular for the tastiness and fair (pretty cheap I dare say) pricing.
For coffee enthusiasts who want to try something different with their favorite beverage, Coffee Ritual is not to be missed. Located at Section 14 Petaling Jaya, Coffee Ritual is one of the very few places where Single-Origin Coffee is available.
First, take a sip of the delicious, milky sweet broth that fully contains the crab’s essence. The broth was so flavorful that it actually makes your tongue feel numb for a second, rendering the other dishes tasteless in comparison. In short, it was orgasmicly good. I have eaten a lot of crabs in my life and nothing comes close to the satisfaction I got from a single bite of Uncle Leong’s crab.
Japanese Style: Sakura Ice Cream @ Sango Japanese Restaurant, Crystal Crown PJ
We had a choice of Black Goma, Charcoal (the edible one), Green Tea and Sakura (Cherry Blossom) flavored ice creams, all home made by Chef Inose. We picked the latter two and that Sakura ice cream turned out to be the best for its milky and refreshing taste. Please do try this.
For dessert we were treated to a bowl of Chilled Honey Dew with Sago and Aloe Vera bits. We were told this dessert is rarely prepared unless upon special requests so I guess were were lucky to get to try it. It was great, highly recommended.
I never expected it to be so delicious when coupled with Peanut Butter Tong Sui.. the combination was perfect. The pancake itself was prepared sweet, but the tong sui was a little diluted. So if you were to eat them on their own, you would end up tasting something too sweet or too bland.
But dip a slice of hot pancake into the tong sui, then take a bite.. you will find the pancake’s sweetness subside a little, and infused with peanut butter flavor. The combo was definitely much better tasting and satisfying.
The waffle shaped chocolate cake alone was already heavenly, not soft but a little biscuit-like (crunchy). When coupled together with the cold vanilla ice cream, they created an interesting warm and cold sensation in your mouth.. words simply cannot describe the yumminess. The chef’s creativity is evident by looking at the arrangement of this dessert.. the addition of fruits like strawberries and sliced mango pieces and the sprinkling of custard sugar really gave the presentation a huge boost.
Malay Style: Pulut Serawa Durian @ One World Hotel PJ
The creamy durian gravy was flavorful, not too sweet and could be enjoyed even by non-durian lovers. Pulut Manga on the other hand was drenched in coconut milk and had bits of sweet and refreshing mangoes. If you are a durian lover then the Pulut Serawa Durian is a MUST.
There’s no words to describe how wonderful the steak tasted, it was totally out of this world for me. You know, I cut the steak into really small pieces so that I could enjoy it as long as possible. And I actually felt sad when it was finished! The soft and flavorful meat that melts in your mouth, so good so juicy so heavenly so yummy, omg!
The Pink Sage’s homemade burgers are something customers always come back for. And I absolutely agree with that! It was one of the best American Classic Cheeseburger I ever had. The cheeseburger comes in a deluxe version too, with a patty of 300g given instead of the usual 160g.
BEST DIM SUM
King Of Shiu Mai is big, fleshy and most importantly fresh prawns were stacked on each other to create this delectable siu mai. Bursting with flavors and served piping hot, I don’t know what’s there not to like about it.
MOST DISGUSTING FOOD
Although it’s a popular food in Taiwan, Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐) is one thing I couldn’t stand. The taste, the smell, everything about it. I think I will never ever be able to like Stinky Tofu. I just couldn’t tolerate the stench it emits.. and it felt like eating garbage while munching it in your mouth. Sorry to those Stinky Tofu lovers out there. This is my fourth time eating Stinky Tofu and I swear it will be my last. NT$25.
MOST UNIQUE DISH
This method of cooking requires only a charcoal-heated hot pot and a cup of Carlsberg beer. Live prawns (read: LIVE) are first poured on top of the pre-heated pot, followed by a cup of Carlsberg beer into the bottom segment of the pot and fully covered. All this has to be done fast to prevent the prawns from overcooking, as well as preventing the evaporated beer from escaping.
WEIRDEST COMBINATION IN FOOD
I am pretty sure that this noodle sandwich is no where to be found in Malaysia, as the idea of eating noodle in a bun alone is weird enough to drive any of us away lol. Surprisingly the noodle held on quite well on its own so there was very little mess trying to finish it. It tasted like how you would have expected – simply fried Maggi or Indomee in a hot dog bun with mayonnaise.
BEST WESTERN RESTAURANT
If you ask me for a Western food restaurant worth visiting, I would definitely recommend Maria’s. Not only recommended, it’s a MUST if you are serious about looking for tasty Western food. To me, it’s the best hidden gem to be ever discovered. If not for the invitation I would never know such a great restaurant exists. And I am already planning for my next visit to try the other food!
BEST BUFFET RESTAURANT
If you are looking for a Japanese restaurant serving authentic Japanese buffet (purely Japanese food only) in a nice environment and most importantly won’t burn a hole in your pocket, Munakata is worth a try. Making a reservation should not be a problem, as I noticed not many people know that this restaurant actually offers buffet, yet.
BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT
I haven’t found myself enjoying sashimi so much like this before even though I have eaten it before in many Japanese restaurants. The sashimi was so fresh that the flavors were out of this world, I simply couldn’t hide the happiness and satisfaction with each bite I took. I am sure you would enjoy the food at Kin Shui Tei as much as I did.
If there’s any coffee shop in KL that I think is a must visit, it has to be Yut Kee Restaurant, said to be the oldest surviving Hainanese Coffee Shop (since 1928!) For over 80 years it has served at least four generations of KL-ians. Many working people still make a quick stop at this coffee shop every morning for their traditional cakes, bread and coffee for breakfast. It is most crowded during weekends when families come here for breakfasts or brunch.
BEST MIDDLE EAST RESTAURANT
The good restaurants at Cyberjaya would be expensive or too far for a typical working day’s lunch or dinner. I only allocate RM5 to RM7 for a meal you know? It seems a lot but actually it’s just enough to buy yourself a decent, edible meal in Cyberjaya. Then I found Saba, a restaurant serving Middle Eastern food.
BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT
The superb naan and Tandoori alone are enough reasons for you to visit Kapitan’s restaurant. And I believe a lot of people and even many Penangites haven’t given this restaurant a try yet. Why wait? Personally, it has set a new benchmark for me on naan and Tandoori.
MOST ROMANTIC RESTAURANT
Despite the fact that I disliked the food (actually just the things we ordered, I don’t know about the rest like Duck Confit or Foie Gras) – it’s undeniable that Cafe Cafe is one romantic restaurant. The decorations might be a weee little bit too much for me personally but the ambiance will definitely get you into mood. It is the kind of place where a guy would want to bring his special one for a mesmerized evening over a candle-light meal.
MOST UNHYGIENIC RESTAURANT
I think you have heard rumors about that the satay sauce being RECYCLED. This means the pot of sauce you are dunking your yummy skewers into, was also used by tens to hundreds of customers who dined at the same table before you.
Well, I can confirm the rumor is real because I have asked the workers personally about it lol. They simply top up the satay sauce with fresh (or maybe reused?) sauce when it runs low.
So…. if you are a hygiene freak, this place is not for you lol.
MOST BEAUTIFUL RESTAURANT
The live band at Avanti was great, service was top notch and the well-decorated restaurant was a beautiful sight to behold.
MOST IMPRESSIVE RESTAURANT
It’s about visiting perhaps one of the largest and most awesome seafood restaurant with the most live seafood on display in Malaysia. Once we stepped into the restaurant, instead of making orders we made way to the live seafood area like kids who couldn’t wait to go to the playground. Our jaws literally dropped looking at the arrays of aquarium tanks housing the countless live seafood ranging from prawns to clams and fish.
RESTAURANT WITH THE BEST VIEW
Fancy a dining place where you can enjoy an open environment with cool breeze and amazing view? Then Ampang Look Out Point is the place to be. Located on a hill top, it is no doubt one of the most unique and coolest place you can ever be in KL. It features a look out point tower for visitors to enjoy an breathtaking unobstructed view of Kuala Lumpur with a few restaurants great for gatherings and meals.
BEST TRAVEL DESTINATION
Shihlin Night Market is the most popular night market in Taiwan. It is a must visit for all tourists for an eye opening experience of the never-ending stalls of delicious and cheap street food.
Tai Yi Niu Nai Da Wang (台一牛奶大王) near GongGuan MRT is one of the highly recommended places to go for shaved ice. It is always patronized by the students of National Taiwan University, located just across the road.
Yehliu is actually a cape, in the town of Wanli located somewhere between Taipei and Keelung. The Yehliu Geopark is the main attraction here featuring rock formations with interesting shapes. Based on the shapes, the rocks were given imaginative names like “The Queen’s Head”, “The Fairy Shoe” and “The Bee Hive”.
MOST VIEWED POST
I was one of the earliest people to blog about Yaki Yaki, a newly opened Japanese and BBQ Buffet Restaurant at the time of writing. It received the most attention and was one of the most soughted buffet in town, at least according to my Google statistics.
MOST MEMORABLE MEAL
Sek Yuen, an old Chinese Restaurant located in Jalan Pudu is one of the oldest restaurants in KL that has managed to maintain the look and feel of the 50’s. The day we dined at Sek Yuen, we whacked a whole duck, a whole chicken and a pork knucle.
MOST UNFORTUNATE FOOD HUNT
It was my most expensive cendol ever and I have only myself to blame. After placing my order and while walking towards my seat in the food court behind the cendol stall, my camera bag slipped off my shoulder and dropped on the cement floor.
MOST NEGATIVE FEEDBACKS RECEIVED
A buffet coverage I did lots of time and energy spent, but received the most of complaints – Yaki Yaki Japanese Buffet. According to many, the quality has went down hill and food are being replenished slowly. I think I was lucky to have a pleasant experience eating there when the promotion just started. Yaki Yaki is no more and has been replaced with House Of Buffet, which I think is owned by the same owner.
WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE
After that she walked back to the cooking area, where she threw us an angry look at us. So angry like we were her 杀父仇人 (enemy who killed her father) Behind her angry stares I imagined what were in her mind, maybe chopping us up into a million pieces, or spitting in our noodles. No kidding, I really had those thoughts. LOL we quickly finished the noodles and left.
So there I was alone unable to find a table. Then when I finally got a table for four and sat there, the lady boss got all worked up, started to make a scene and said I was not supposed to sit there. I was asked to sit somewhere else instead, which was ALSO a table for four. Makes no difference right? So was the cursing and all really necessary?
I guess when your business is so big and good and be featured on TV so frequently, you can be all lan si and even screw the customers. Less 1 returning customer is nothing to them anyway.
MOST FAILS EARNED
MY FAVORITE WRITE UP
Every year during Ramadan month I will go to the bazaar nearest to my place, which is usually smaller in scale. But this year I decided to do something different and visit a more grand one instead. Many people are saying that the Bazaar Ramadhan at Shah Alam Stadium is very huge and also the best in Malaysia.
MOST PHOTOS IN A POST
One of the highly popular buffets in 2009, Tenji was fully booked for the first few months it opened. There were almost 100 photos I have included in the post, taking me 12 hours to complete.
BEST EVENT ATTENDED
Have you ever wondered how in-flight meals are actually prepared? I do. Last weekend, I had an one in a lifetime chance of joining an exclusive tour of MAS’ in-flight kitchen somewhere around KLIA. You have to be either an employee or an invited guest to be allowed in the kitchen area. Security is very tight and controlled so photography was not allowed, this is to prevent competitors from spying their operations.
MY FAVORITE COMMENT
I lol-ed at Danny Lim’s comment: “Absolutely agree… good food but arrogance. Once I went there to ta pau beef hor fun , and for no reason the lady boss shouted at me…well I keep my cool and instead ordered 3 big portions of beef horfun and 2 big sang har mee…I told them I come back 10 min to collect. …I never come back.” Among the thousands of comments, I like this the most lol.
MOST COMMENTED POST
A staggering 132 comments!
FUNNIEST ENCOUNTER AT FOOD HUNT
Anyway, before we left the food court I went around to snap some photos of the environment as usual. Then, a waiter pulled me over to their stall and requested me to take photos of them doing teh tarik, wtf?! In this situation, I believe it’s hard to say no for anyone lol. You see, the guy was so happy he even gave a thumbs-up! After that, even their boss joined in the fun lol. He was standing outside when all these happened and thought “I gotta show these youngsters my leet skills of pulling tea”.
You made it this far? Haha. Thanks for reading, Happy New Year and have a great year ahead!