Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Moonstone Coffee House

One of the most interesting papers I sat for during my post-graduate degree days include the sole non-technical paper there was – the English proficiency test. A pass exempts the candidate from having to attend English lessons on top of the even more taxing modules. Like solid state mechanics and materials characterisation. Coming from where English makes way for the compulsory national language, my daily conversations consisting of mainly Chinese dialects and the preference for bootless reading materials, the paper was expectedly challenging. The last part required the candidate to compose an essay and the topic, which I vaguely remember, revolved some sort of discussion on the pros and cons of science and technology. Back then, my mind was still attuned to express the usual view on this issue. Yes, those very same ideas provided by most secondary school revision books these days; health benefits, convenience, nation building etc.

Except for the line I quoted from Coldplay’s The Scientist, I doubt that my answer script will be any different, if I were to sit for the test again today. This is afterall, a formal assessment and I can’t possibly be expressing the microscopic joys that technology has brought to my gluttonous life and how good food in obscure places can easily be located at a touch. Not a push anymore, but an effortless touch on my mobile phone. If it’s not for the existence of this blog, I don’t think there’ll be another way for me to share this fantastic dinner that I had, in which the discovery would have been considered a miracle without the help of technology and an inexpensive data plan subscription.

A grand reunion dinner is usually harmonized with the first day of the lunar new year being of mostly vegetarian. It applies to birthdays too, I guess. After a pleasurable fine-dining experience and some suicidal bites of the infamous durian puff, I was good to go simple. Sweet and sour pork, XLB suggested. Excellent choice, I must say. But we were at Plaza Singapura, away from any tze char that is presumed to be reasonably…homely?


In a few seconds, a search using the HungryGoWhere application (this is not an advertorial, by the way) generated a list of recommended restaurants and topping the list was Moonstone. A few touches later and we were led to another application, GoogleMap (no, they obviously don't need meagre bloggers like me for advertising purposes), that provided the direction and buses available to get to Opal Crescent. The SG Buses application estimated the arrival time of the bus and once boarded, it was back to GoogleMap for orientation. The journey, though slightly long, was one that's worth the time. The evening stretch along Serangoon Road was one buzzing with Indian men and women, all gathered for a good time on a Saturday night. Indian restaurants were mostly filled while the Sri Veerama Kallamman and Masjid Angullia, both separated only by a few small lanes, provided the worshipers of the respective religions with some peace from the madness of the outside world. I truly enjoyed this view from the upper deck of the SBS bus.

We alighted correctly at St. Michael's Place and walked another 500 metres or so before turning into the dark, quiet Moonstone Lane. If not for the erection of Moonstone Residences, the area would have looked even creepier in the early hour of 8. The coffeeshop, located right opposite the blocks, was as typical as it could get. I never would have expected anything extraordinary from the tze char stall in the shop if not for the recommendation. Perhaps it was the last night of the lunar new year celebration that caused the coffeeshop to be deserted, with only 2 or 3 tables occupied and it's quite reasonable to assume that they were nearby residents.

The lovely ladyboss insisted that we must have the day's special - crabs. I declined a few times, for fear of the hefty price as it was afterall, the LAST dinner of the lunar new year celebration aka the final-chance-to-squeeze-diners'-wallets-dry night. I knew I was wrong the moment the dish of stir-fried crabs with pumpkin and salted egg yolks was brought to the table. For S$28, we had 2 large crabs coated with a sauce that was rich, salty and naturally sweet. Perhaps I'm not exposed to the different styles of cooking crabs but it was my first taste of a pumpkin/salted egg combination. The freshness of the crabs worked really well with the flavoursome, golden sauce. I'm glad I took the plunge and canceled the stir-fried noodles for this. Later, as we studied the bill, I realized that when the ladyboss said special, she actually meant a special, discounted price. My bad for being a skeptic. The feast continued with the fish steamboat or 魚爐, which I get confused with 魚露 (fish sauce or nam pla) all the time, due to the phonetic similarity. Another great order as there was a breath of smokiness (okay, that's partially from the oil, I'm sure) in the soup. Every scoop was filled with an abundance of ingredients that made the dish very much substantial - yam sticks, tofu, seaweed, tomatoes and a generous serving of red grouper. We came for a good sweet and sour pork but unbeknownst to us, this was no ordinary version as it was incorporated with fruit juice, giving the sauce a lighter, more refreshing taste. And when the deep-fried pieces of pork turned out to be really crispy, you know it's going to be a memorable dish.

The dinner at a quiet little corner of a small coffeeshop away from the bustling part of town and with some evergreen Mandopop tunes filling the surrounding was a good end to the beginning of a lunar new year and the turn of a new decade in life. It was blissful. Much like the time I received a notice that I'd passed the English proficiency test.

Moonstone Coffee House
41, Opal Crescent
Tel: (+65) 6295 2838

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mun Wah Hokkien Mee

You are what you eat.

Then I'm only half the man I used to be.

Those days, the renowned KL-style Hokkien Mee was braised to a consistency of dripless, sticky combination of lard and dark soy sauce, with every bite bursting with the immense aroma of fried shallots, garlic and dried flatfish powder. Thick egg noodles had taste and golden lard cubes, fried to crispy perfection, would crack and combust in the mouth a redolence that's second to none. These two ingredients feel so bland and mass-produced these days that I wonder if people still give a damn anymore. Has the society redefined Hokkien Mee? It is now simply known as stir-fried noodles with dark soy sauce? Charcoal or not, that waft of wok hei would seal the deal with a big grin as we wipe that smearing of lard oil off our lips before sipping a small cup of strong Chinese tea. I'd always leave the table as happy and as inspired as ever, knowingly or not.

I feel sorry for the generation that didn't get to taste the real thing. Sure, you get your so-called Hokkien Mee as you sit comfortably in proper, air-conditioned restaurants or at the convenience of the after-party hours but really, unless Hokkien mee is of sustenance than substance to you, then I don't think you'll feel satiated at the end of the meal. More so if your chilli boh is tastelessly naked. I confess that I do sound like a broken record, especially on the topic of Hokkien Mee. Whatever. I used to roll my eyes every time the older relatives eagerly tell me the same story of their lives; from the junks that carried them from mainland China to that bowl of noodles that used cost a mere 5 cents. But now, I can somehow understand this habit of repeating old stories. These are priceless experiences that can never be felt again and the closest one can get to it is through reminiscence. And that's exactly how I try to relive a childhood of really good, authentic Hokkien Mee.

On to Mun Wah. Triple parking, spilling crowd and bland Hokkien Mee. Sorry, but despite the efficient service, this is an example of Hokkien Mee that makes me half the happy man (or boy) I used to be. I don't even see the need to deconstruct the dish for the purpose of discussion here.

Note - it's never a good thing to pre-cook a wokful of Hokkien Mee and reheat it in another wok when needed. As a Hokkien Mee fan, I find it insulting.

Kedai Makanan Mun Wah Hokkien Mee
155, Jalan Maharajalela,
50150 Kuala Lumpur

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The White Rabbit

The turning of a new decade brought about some serious concerns - drastic memory and hair loss. I can live with the latter but to have my brains deteriorating into a ROM is unacceptable. Whatever it takes, I'm determined to keep what's left of my brains for as long as I can. That includes consuming the mythically beneficial (and delicious) pig brains soup every day, if I have to.

This frightening revelation took place on the eve of my birthday, as we made our way to Dempsey for my surprise dinner. In the taxi, I took a glance at the map on XLB's (then) E71 and saw a marking on Harding Road. My mind raced to remember the names of restaurants in that area but, alas, the only one I recalled was PS Cafe, which I wasn't expecting to be the venue of the becoming of my age of forgetfulness celebration. Not that PS is bad in anyway, of course. I'm a fan of the cafe but if XLB had decided on PS, we could have easily walked over to the Paragon branch from Ion Orchard instead of having to pay for fuel charges and constantly provide directions to the inexperienced driver. So, where were we heading then??? The further we were driven, the more infuriated I became, for not another relevant name had crossed my mind. And since it was a surprise, I was not allowed to ask.

The taxi halted (intentionally, I suppose) somewhere between The White Rabbit and Au Petit Salut. Dempsey, Harding Road, dinner. Argh, the signs were so clear and yet, I wasn't able to remember any of these two prominent restaurants!

I relaxed at last, and surrendered to the fact that I should feel blessed to be having dinner in either of the two reputable restaurants that XLB had chosen. Now, this was a pleasant surprise, for I've been wanting to try both TWR and APS for the longest time although I must admit that I was somehow influenced by the prolific online reviews. A few silly exchanges later, we stepped into The White Rabbit.

Just the thought of dining in the restored chapel with an interior of rustic, pixilated charm was fascinating. The Europhilic menu matched the ambiance well. I was granted the degustation menu and enjoyed the executions more than the mucho gastro vocabulary that came with every dish. The lacing of the tangy Roquefort between the sweet fig and salty parma ham started the night well. That was right after a serving of warm onion bread and plain focaccia, which were both delightful. We had to have seconds after that bite of crispy crust and soft, aromatic filling. Albeit the familiarity of ingredients used, the wagyu tenderloin almost had me singing myself a birthday song. It was the perigoudine sauce, in combining the mild acidity of the wine, savouriness of stock and an invigorating scent of truffles, that made the ensemble a truly enjoyable main. XLB's mostly oriental brochette of roasted sea scallops and roasted pork belly was good too, especially when the belly was served with a melting soft texture.

I just realized that I did manage to recollect most of the details of the dinner that took place about 2 months ago! Perhaps memory is selective; that as we age, we tend to remember only the good things and learn to forget the frivolities in life. Like names of restaurants. And hair loss. So, thanks for the memorable dinner, XLB. Hope you are having a good time in Manila. Better luck with the lechon tonight, I hope.

The Degustation Menu (of the night)

Parma ham wrapped fresh figs, Roquefort parfait

Freshly shucked oyster served with crepinette of spicy lamb sausage meat

Warm smoked confit of salmon, artichoke puree, marinated ikura

Chargrilled wagyu tenderloin, pan fried foie gras, quail egg sunny side up, roasted asparagus and perigoudine sauce

Chocolate delice

Brochette of roasted sea scallops and pork belly served with wakame salad and a sesame soy dressing

The White Rabbit (check out their fun website)
39C, Harding Road
Tel: (+65) 6473 9965

Friday, April 16, 2010

Nasi Lemak Mak Wanjor

No matter where you go, you’ll always remember the place that had you fed well and enough. Fortunately for most of us, that’s home. Mine’s a city called Kuala Lumpur, approximately 350 km north of Singapore. Or south of Bangkok, as I’d easily tell my foreign friends that are not so familiar with this region. Most, if not all of us KLites grew up eating some of the best food in the world - char kway teow, HOKKIEN MEE, laksa, roti canai and nasi lemak. A trip back home is never complete without at least a taste of the familiar and more importantly, delicious. Over the years, many of my KLite friends had turned international travelers and it’s only natural that they wish for each journey to begin and end with a hearty, local meal. Conveniently for me, that used to be the fantastic nasi lemak with sambal shrimps served onboard the national air carrier. A few economy class flights without the offering of the dish and my last to New Delhi being one of sheer boredom as the personal in-flight entertainment system was not supplied left me really disappointed. Have things improved since two years ago? I’m not sure as I’ve turned to other options.

The night before a friend departed for Cairo, we were at Kampung Baru, a mecca for good Malay-style nasi lemak. In deciding which stall to head for, we were reminded of the untried Mak Wanjor. That’s quite embarrassing on our part, considering its significant rank alongside heavyweights like CT Roses and Antarabangsa, and the fact that we do frequent this side of town. Then again, with an undertone of plain fluorescence and the almost non-existence of a crowd at night, anyone could have mistaken it for a closing nasi campur stall. These, however, have attributed to Mak Wanjor’s distinction against the louder, more chaotic competition.

There’s no point in resisting the temptation to pick EVERYTHING you desire when faced with the mouth-watering spread of sides for the nasi lemak – smoky paru, crispy fried chicken, sotong, stir-fried kangkung etc. For all you know, the accumulated calories of the sides are still lesser than that of the rice cooked in coconut milk. My favourite sides include sambal kerang (cockles) and ayam masak merah (chicken cooked in a sweetish chilli sauce). A sambal, to me, is as important as the rice, if not more. It has to be savoury and thick. A splash of tamarind juice sounds excellent too. But like Antarabangsa, Mak Wanjor leaned towards the sweet side but thankfully, was still adequately dense. I feel that in the case of sambal kerang, the smaller they are, the better they taste. So, I’m loving the cockles here. There were countless occasions when I’d imagine how my ideal piece of ayam masak merah would be like - turmeric marinated skin deep-fried to crisp perfection and simply drizzled with a honeyed chilli sauce. Oh, there should be a handful of raw onion rings too! Okay, that’s technically not ayam masak merah. Oh, well. In general, what I enjoy the most about this dish is the sauce that bursts with flavours from ingredients such as cinnamon, cumin, lemongrass and ginger. Usage of some ketchup and bottled chilli sauce instead of tomato puree is fine. In fact, it does bring out this (though slightly artificial) sweet and sour taste that’s really appetizing. Let’s not forget that seductive redness that comes with it as well. However, too much of it is a bad thing. Sometimes, I get ayam masak merah that’s chicken cooked in a mixture of bottled sauces just, and that really puts me off. Mak Wanjor’s nothing like that but was not incredible either. Anyway, it was a good nasi lemak experience and I like it even more because for the same, if not better quality than its nearby competitor, I don’t have to queue long to get my nasi lemak fix.

Here at Kampung Baru, one stop is never enough. Unless we’re in a hurry, some desserts at the neighboring stalls usually follow suit. The kuihs and bubur manis might not be the best the city has to offer but are still very much satisfying. Choices are endless and comparable to those offered at the annual Pasar Ramadans. That applies to the nasi kerabu, nasi campur, laksam, nasi ayam, grilled fish, lontong, satay and yes, western food as well! Ah...home sweet home, isn't it?

Nasi Lemak Mak Wanjor
8, Jln Raja Muda Musa
Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mad for Garlic

Just a mention of modern-day Korean dramas and those beautiful cafe scenes come to mind. It’s always perfect – the setting, the facial expressions, the lighting, the actress, the nip and tuck, the flip phones, the songs. Hang on, not the songs. Maybe I’ve not watched enough to judge but from my experience, most of them felt like recycled ballads from the 80s or 90s. Then again, Kenny G, Richard Marx and Chicago did charm the world over and over again with their saccharine tunes (and compilations) and earned them lots of money along the way. I guess I must be the real the problem here.

My preconception of this place was nothing short of a scene right out of those hallyu K-afes and since I’m not capable of nor do I idealize long locks, colourful eyewear, fitting designer attire and romantic prose, something else must have really driven me towards this Korean joint. It was the obnoxiously appetizing stinking rose. Ah, just the thought of it makes me want to get some chicken rice with that garlicky chilli sauce.

The interior was sophisticated but somehow dramatized by the hanging of fake garlic garlands and such. And the songs, aha....just as I expected. So, there I was, commenting on every song in the playlist that I know of and XLB must have thanked the universe for my order of the Garlicpeno Pasta for it did shut me up for about 15 minutes or so. It was really hot! And tasty too, thanks to the finely chopped, slightly tangy (pickled?) Mexican pepper, shallots and some crispy fried garlic flakes. Painstakingly good, this. I read somewhere that South Korea has the highest suicide rate within the developed countries due to, among others, depression and stress. I presume that since we, in this region, should not be statistically too far behind, the Garlicpeno seems to suggest a more intelligent remedy in combating these psychological conditions. There’s nothing like a good sweat to wash away the negative charges. To me, the effect of the jalapeno was not instantaneous but when it did hit, it was sweat me a river. Though it was barely a few hours after a sumptuous lunch, we thought that we should have something else to peck, like garlic bread. Here, it’s called a Garlic Bread Tower, intentionally toppled and flattened by the wait staff, exposing the filling of garlic powder where the texture was similar to desiccated coconut. Despite the pouring amount, it was not sufficiently pungent, much to my disappointment.

The objectives were pretty clear – to be stuffed with, as the name of the restaurant suggested, a mad amount of garlic and leave with some immunity booster. Sadly, the former didn’t materialize but despite that, if Mad For Garlic was to be gauged solely by the fantastic Garlicpeno pasta, I think it’s worth a revisit. We’re eyeing the fried rice with garlic next. Oh, and there's a dish called Dracula Killer as well.

Sir, it’s really hot. Ok for you?

Bring it on.



Mad for Garlic
3 Temasek Boulevard
#01-039 Suntec City (Galleria)
Tel: (+65) 6333 1507

Friday, April 9, 2010

Malayas Bistro

It was not until she sang the familiar Perfidia that I really paid attention to her voice. From the beginning of the acoustic set, my friends were already fully engaged to the performing duo of  Dewi Liana Seriestha and her father, Yudhi Seriestha. I was, on the other hand, busy browsing the menu like how a school kid would excitedly flip through the fresh, glossy textbooks before the start of a semester. Her voice had a rough edge that's appealing to the generation that raves Christina Aguilera and those who sound or at least try to sound like her. This pretty Sarawakian lass can really sing anything and I imagined what a good recording artiste she'd become one day. Gosh, we all think and talk like those American Idol judges these days, don't we? A friend told me that she was on Mentor, a singing competition on television and that's how I knew her name.

Some single ladies behind us were busy singing along to Dewi Liana's repertoire, with champagne and wine in hand while the bar was occupied by a few guys chatting over some liquor.  At the centre of the bistro, a family was celebrating the birthday of a child. It was really generous of the father to send over some roast chicken and chocolate cake. I could have thanked him by singing the kid a birthday song but of course, with professional singers around, that would be silly. Plus, I was not drunk enough for it. We were having a small, much belated birthday celebration ourselves sans a cake but with some alcohol, just the way we adults like it.

All enwrapped in the beautiful, incandesced interior that was perhaps inspired by the colonial times of Malaya, it's easy to imagine that this place lights up the Saturday nights of CapSquare with its attractive design, good turnout and cool music. The truth is, these were the only customers they had that Saturday night. It doesn't mean that it's a bad place to be in. It's definitely not. Located in a business centre, it's obviously brisker on weekdays and progressively slows down towards the weekend. So, not surprisingly, they are closed every Sunday. I personally like to chill in this bistro on a Saturday night. It's a more relaxing option to the loud lanes not too far from here.

Vegetable pakhora

Many of the dishes we requested for were either sold out or not available that night. Given the tapas sizes and relatively affordable prices, we ordered quite a bit of everything that remained. Fairly decent were the mostly regional dishes and one of their signatures, the vegetable pakhora stood out with its crispy batter and good mixture of vegetables. The extensive menu is worth a try during lunchtime as I'm sure interesting dishes like the thali and grilled fish must still be available.

Chinese-style fried rice

Fried calamari rings


Char kway teow

Malayas Bistro, to me, is not the usual nightspot that's congested, loud and offers a substantially generic menu of expensive chicken wings and pizzas. And that's definitely not a bad thing.

Malayas Bistro
G-9 CapSquare Centre,
No. 7, Persiaran CapSquare,
50100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 2691 1616

Click here for Sean's comprehensive post on the available dishes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Royal China @ Raffles Hotel

If the above shot reminds me of Black Eyed Pea’s celestial, intergalactic Meet Me Halfway video, then the black caviar topping the siew mai (steamed pork dumpling) must be that sense of grandeur that is the elephant in the video. Does that make the scarlet prawns Fergie?

Not necessarily something that would elevate the taste in a bite to a whole new romance but yes, it was a treat for diners, especially when the price was reasonable. It all added up well to the prestige of the Chinese restaurant with a majestic name but of a peculiarly blue setting in a megastar hotel they called Raffles.

The wonderful years here in this little red dot had taught me that dressing down in restaurants, be it expensive or not, is an enjoyment and not an offence but yet, intimidated by the reminder of a dress code on its website, I told myself that I should perhaps succumb to the rules. Afterall, it would be embarrassing to walk into the restaurant with my favourite pair of faded shorts (that even my friends are embarrassed of) and squeaking sandals, only to be barred with a haiyo, you never understand Engrish one ar? Just as well a reason to don my new expensive shirt that, believe me, was the result of an erroneous purchase.

Like how a bowl of bak chor mee had never failed to cause instant salivation, the thought of Raffles Hotel  always makes me sweaty. No doubt, this grand dame still dazzles with her bright white paint and colonial architecture but since most spaces in this historical building are unenclosed without air-conditioning, high humidity is to be expected. Having said that, this is a great tourist feature - like a warm way of saying, Welcome to Singapore! That’s lovely.

Predictably, I reached the entrance with my expensive shirt sweat-patched. I observed groups of patrons entering and leaving the restaurant. Shorts and slippers were spotted. Ah…I should have known better.

I'm not sure about the main dining hall but every room was assigned with at least one staff. Therefore, service was efficient, no doubt. What's interesting was the choice of music. With such setting, I would have expected a style similar to Tan Dun's For The World or some simple ensemble of gu zheng and er hu. Instead, we got 70s Hong Kong pop songs from the likes of Cheng Kam Cheung (鄭錦昌) that seem to be a strange choice. How does the music sound like? Here's are some good samples. I kid you not. Nevertheless, it makes up a light, interesting conversation piece on an easy Sunday morning while we await the made-to-order, steaming hot dim sums.

Back to the caviar, as exquisite as it may be, was not salty enough. What the roes did offer as an alternative was the burst in the mouth that one will never get from the commoner's garnish of dyed sago seed or salted egg. Expectedly, the pork and prawns were firm and fresh. We tried many dim sums from the rather simple menu. On the regular front, there were char siew puffs that came with a less solid filling, char leung or Chinese cruller wrapped in flour skin and a surprisingly good steamed layer cake with salted egg that was fragrant and fluffy. The cake paled the steamed bun with black sesame filling. Though it sounded interesting, the filling of a pasty texture rather than being flowy was disappointing. We should have gone for some hor fun instead of the recommended yee mee which came plain on taste despite the smooth, eggy strands. Ending the meal was a cocktail glass of osmanthus (桂花) jelly. Subtly sweet, it was alright but what's the unroasted peanut and grass jelly topping all about?

Though BEP's video was interesting and somewhat visually stunning, I questioned the necessity and logic behind some of the elements like the elephant in space and the man in a spacesuit floating so close to the sun and all. It's a huge success though. Perhaps I'm being too critical and should just sit back and enjoy the music. And the fresh dim sum that everyone's been loving at Royal China but didn't manage to meet me halfway.

Royal China
Raffles Hotel
Tel: (+65) 6338 3363

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hokkien Mee @ Restoran Aik Yuen

Maybe it's the excess calories burnt while grooving to David Guetta's recent string of hits in the club or the rubbers in the earlier badminton session or simply, the euphoric anticipation of the weekend, but Saturday nights or technically, Sunday mornings, seem like the hungriest time of the week for many. Unless one is working on graveyard shift, this feeling of weekend liberation often leads to a celebration that is usually food, good food, before slumbering with a comfortably full stomach and vegetate the Sunday away.

It does sound great but seriously, good food at night? Especially during the wee, club-closing hours? Of course, if one's other half (or mother) is Nigella Lawson, who keeps her refrigerator full of delicious leftovers, this is not an issue at all. Well, 99.5% of us are just not that lucky and we resort to food at stalls.

There are countless nocturnal or semi-nocturnal food stalls around and some have achieved superstardom with their apparently excellent food. Indeed, in the city that never sleeps, there exists some really good nasi lemak and wanton mee and fishball soup noodles. So, I want to believe. However, the skeptical side of me thinks that in the inebriated state, everything tastes good. I'm not saying this without basis, of course. In sobriety, I've tried some of these prominent fried noodles and chicken rice stalls in town and the only conclusion that I can draw is that oil (whether it's the animal or cooking type) and MSG come with a huge discount after 12. Anyway, it's a choice and at 3 am, there aren't many choices around.

The point is, I don't like spending on substandard dim sum or fried noodles or overpriced bak kut teh but yet, I want a good grub when I'm done with the clubs. Or my dreadful homework.

At 3 am on a particular Sunday, I pushed my luck and sped to Aik Yuen from Bukit Bintang, in hope of being able to try one of the most discussed Hokkien mee stalls in town. I was, of course, still within the speed limit and this was clear as I felt static when being overtaken by a group of Mat Rempits. Good choice of location for their much despised art, I feel, for there were 2 hospitals around - the General Hospital and Tawakal.

The main restaurant was already filled with stacked tables and chairs, which meant that I was too late, yet again. Niamah.

Like many dominating Chinese restaurants out there, the tables overflowed to the pavement, stretching to the next few shophouses on both sides. The helpers were clearing the sides as well when we spotted 2 occupied tables of dyed shades of brown hair with very trendy outfits. I ran over and asked the helper if it was still open for business.


Oddly enough, the kitchen was located somewhat opposite the restaurant. I presume that it must be the intense smoke from the oil that caused the move. From a Hokkien mee fan point of view, it means that we can anticipate some good amount of wok hei.

I tend to generalize the black Hokkien mee into 2 types - the dry (good) and the soupy (a curse). Following the dry type, they are sub-categorized further into - the sweet and salty. This can go on for hours but let me just conclude that it's the sweet type here. I prefer the salty kind but the Hokkien mee I had that morning was still very good.

Though sweet, it was not sourced solely from the dark soy sauce, hence the lack of bitterness. A plus. It was served dry. Another plus. On the other hand, it disappointingly lacked the empowering wok hei that I was looking for and the amount of oil used would keep liposuckers at the nearby Tawakal (if any) in good business. I'm one who loves a good dose of lard but when it's too much, it kills the appetite by insulating the taste of the sauce. In other words, it dilutes the flavours with fat. There was nothing much to say about the chilli as the typical runny chilli boh paste was used.

Aik Yuen might not be the greatest Hokkien mee that I've been searching for since its disappearance some 20 years ago but relatively speaking, it was better than two other popular Hokkien mee brands that I've tried recently.

Oh, and really, I was sober the whole time at Aik Yuen.

Restoran Aik Yuen
Behind Tawakal Hospital
Jalan Sarikei, Off Jalan Pahang Barat
53000 Kuala Lumpur