Friday, October 31, 2008

486 Baba Low's

At 4.15 in the morning, the bus came to a halt. Inside and out, the lights grew brighter amidst the snores. The awoken faces looked tired and seemed wishing for the bus to continue moving. Gentle vibration and full blast of the air-conditioning system. What pleasure, for most of the passengers who took the midnight bus back to Kuala Lumpur after a hard day’s work in Johor Bahru or Singapore.

Nyonya Laksa (RM5)
A delectable bowl of light, curried broth with ingredients such as tau pok (fried beancurd skin), prawns, and cockles. Julienned cucumber for the crunch and refreshing taste. The subtle flavour of the rice vermicelli came as a nice complement.

"Bukit Jalil, Bukit Jalil. Turun, turun semua (All alight)!" the driver announced.

Popiah (RM3)
Egg and flour skin wrapping a substantial amount of softened turnips, ground peanuts, beansprouts and laced with a spread of chilli. Moisture control would have added to the scrumptiousness of the roll.

I was at the temporary bus terminal (for south-bound buses) the authority had stationed at one of the carparks at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium. To ease congestion at Puduraya (the main bus terminal) as the Aidil-Fitri holiday was drawing near, apparently. Hoping to catch the earliest LRT to town, I sat in a well-lit tent, filled with tables, chairs and festive songs; reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles while waiting for time to pass. It was rather cold that morning. Around me, there were parents hugging their little children, couples sharing shoulders and students staring enthusiastically into their laptops. All eagerly awaiting their buses to bring them back to their respective hometowns for the long holiday.

Otak-Otak (RM4)
Wrapped in banana leaf, a paste of blended spices (including turmeric, lemongrass and chilli) covering a piece of well grilled fish which differed from the usual fish paste version. Tad too sweet for the palate, the paste.

Not long after, a RapidKL bus stopped in front of me. I was actually sitting near a bus-stop! For the convenience of the travelers, the authority had offered a 24-hours shuttle service between Puduraya and Bukit Jalil. As I paid my fare of RM3.00, my mind slipped into an auto-cruise mode, knowing that I’ll be back in the city within minutes. And that I don’t have to wait for the LRT no more.

Pai Tee (RM4.50)
Cups of crunchy, fried batter filled with shreds of softened turnip, cucumber and omelette. Fried shallots topping for the extra crunch and aroma. A drizzle of cold chilli sauce for a juxtaposition of taste and Fahrenheit.

I couldn’t recall where and when I slept. Or did I even sleep at all? The transitions had yielded my ability to rationalize. All I remembered was being awakened by the annoying tone of the alarm. My surrounding was very much different, including a clear, blue sky. Gone was the cold, gloomy night.

Sour Cream Coffee Walnut Cake
FatBoyBakes’ light, flavoursome (as always) creation with a nice touch of cinnamon that will make a good dessert, anytime.

Arriving early at Baba Low's, I flipped through the papers, sniggering at some headlines that reminded me of Cirque De Soleil’s Quidam. Thank goodness for Section 2’s comics, I told myself.

Towards the sports section, the s'wonderful friends arrived, one by one, bringing with them smiling faces and happy times ahead.

And as the sun shone on this side of the world, the shadow of the dreadful hours earlier faded into oblivion.

486 Baba Low's
Lorong Kurau,
Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

*Wi-Fi's available at Baba Low's.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

San Katong Laksa & San Holland Village Nasi Lemak

Often enough, we do get lost. Those long hours of geography can only equip one with the knowledge to read maps. But not a sense of direction. Or the ability to read minds. The harder you try, the more lost you'll get. And here's when assumptions seep into the minds of the lost through the countless veins of curiosity. One wrong turn will lead to another and before you know it, a missile has been launched in a remote area in central Asia. Reality (in) television at its most tragic.

Here's what I think. Don't ask for a trust of guts. Nor believe in unscaled maps. Landmarks can deceiving as well. So, is there hope for the lost anymore?

And as stereotypical as windmills can get, this is not Zaanse Schans. It's Holland Village in Singapore. And the most shocking revelation comes from the fact that it was named after an architect by the name of Hugh Holland and is in no way, related to the Dutch. What a surprise, isn't it? And all it takes is a little understanding and effort to know.

And efforts to find good food we certainly made, here in this cosy enclave of eateries, including a personal favourite bakery.

And example of a good discovery is San Katong Laksa. Without having to travel to Telok Blangah and Geylang Road, one is now able to savour a taste of the Peranakan style laksa, al fresco if rain doesn't pour, while watching the windmill spin to the song of the wind.

S$3.50 for a bowl of Katong Laksa, consisted of fishcake slices, cockles and prawns, was a good deal. The broth was light on coconut milk and there was a jar of chilli paste on every table for some extra heat in the bowl of goodness. And while spooning (laksa) might not everyone's cup of tea, it may be your next best practice as the thick rice vermicelli strands are cut to the length of about 5 to 6 centimetres, which prove too short for the chopsticks. Unless one is a Kung Fu graduate from the ShaoLin Monastery who is able to catch a fly using a pair of the most convenient cooking/dining utensil in the world. There's also an approximately half a spoonful of laksa leaves to add a refreshing taste and aroma (similar to kafir lime leaves) to the dish.

Apparently, the Otak-Otak is a good accompaniment to the laksa. Made of spiced fish paste and wrapped in banana leaf, the portion was good at S$1.00 per piece. The grilled banana leaves added a nice aroma to the Otak-Otak. The flavours of the lemongrass and turmeric were rather evident, which was good.

The array of dishes displayed to go with the nasi lemak was colourful. For S$5.10, a plate of the famous San Holland Village Nasi Lemak may consist of crimson chilli paste laced anchovies, stir-fried greens, golden brown chicken cutlet and vermilion, chillied dried shrimp. As far as taste could peak, it merely parred at average. The anchovies were rather tough while the chicken cutlet batter tasted like the ready-made ones available at the nearest NTUC supermarket. The sambal was too sweet as well. But perhaps that's the taste that garnered the stall its legion of fans. Tastes vary.

So do opinions, no matter how absurd diversed they can be.

Back to the earlier question. What do you do when you are lost? Nothing. You shouldn't assume. Just keep walking for the world is spherical. You'll complete a cycle as a wiser being. That's the cycle of life. And along the way, you are sure to meet a bowl of delicious laksa. And a good nasi lemak as well, if you are lucky.

San Katong Laksa & San Holland Village Nasi Lemak
1, Lorong Mambong #01-05
(Holland Village Market)
Singapore 277700
Tel: (+65) 6468 5415

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sage @ The Gardens

The view from the sixth floor of The Gardens Hotel & Residences, coupled with the technicolour skyscape the evening has graciously offered, was beautiful. There was no rain. From afar, Wisma Telekom looked like Burj Al-Arab. The milk tea streaming along the Klang River was obviously not a sight for salivation, but like all things gau (dense), it was rich in history and once, aspirations.

One can only be distracted by that much when in Sage.

Transmitting through the generous spaces between tables, the soundscape, consisted of pattering heels, clattering utensils and lushful whispers, diminished progressively to the state of oblivion. The perfect dim played a part as well.

And there was music. The Look Of Love sans the sultry voice of Dusty Springfield. A shame actually, as the original version would have added a touch of sophistication to the overall ambiance. So, there it began, the night of covers of the classics.

As some may agree, Seal's version of Dionne Warwick's Walk On By resembles a polished 1967 Ford Mustang convertible in red. Complete with a Grammy nomination for that extra shine. It may not describe the creative direction of this French/Japanese fusion haven, but the interpretations, to be elaborated later, undoubtedly runs along the applaudable parallelism. To associate it with Kyu Sakamoto's Sukiyaki, however, is a little far-fetched.

Frank Sinatra’s Summer Wind was a personal favourite that could accompany the loneliest of wines. As far as the imagination can go, the bread could perhaps, replace her in the song. The same her that was taken by the summer wind. Soft, fresh, multi-grained brown slices aside, the combination of white bread and marinated, chopped tomatoes was delicious. A substantial sandwich, once extrapolated and laced with cheese and bacon. Apparently, imaginations do travel beyond boundaries.

Sinatra’s version was actually a cover of the original by Wayne Newton.

Remembering Astrud Gilberto’s amusing, inimitable Girl From Ipanema that opened up to the whole João Gilberto experience. An amuse-bouche?

Sage’s amuse-bouche (of the day) came in form of a spoonful gelatinous chicken with miso/sesame dressing and crunchy zucchini slices. A rich dressing that heightened the optimism of what’s to come.

Chef’s Special Of The Day; Magaki Oysters With Ponzu, Cheese And Caviar. A Japanese girl in a classic Saint Laurent number, strutting about the upper side of New York to the sounds of On The Street Where You Live. Nat King Cole’s version, not Vic Damone’s. The taste was as interesting as the imagination. The succulent oyster drenched in flavoursome ponzu was already a baring, natural masterpiece by itself.

Just found joy,
I’m as happy as a baby boy, baby boy...

Meeting Sweet Lorraine was perhaps one of Nat King Cole’s many joys. Despite being a cover of an all-time jazz favourite, it was an infectious, joyful rendition. Like meeting the much talked-about Feuillete Of Anago With Foie Gras and Artichoke Puree. Not mentioned in the menu were a generous amount of shitake mushrooms and crackling pastry (filo, perhaps) to sum up a stunning starter. A bite of the perfectly seared foie gras, combined with the rich anago, savoury artichoke puree, mushrooms and crackling texture of the pastry was sensational.

With another brand new choo-choo choy,
When I met my sweet Lorraine, Lorraine, Lorraine.

Now when it’s rainin’,
I don’t miss the sun,
Because it’s in my baby’s smile...
(Another verse from Sweet Lorraine.)

Joy is indeed infectious. Applicable to tantalising starters as well, apparently. Another starter from Sage; Cold Fedellini with Hon Maguro and Bottarga which translated to an interesting mesh between olive oil marinated bluefin tuna slices and lightly seasoned, al dente strands of pasta. A creative combination of colours and tastes that worked. Not to be forgotten were the light touches of wasabi and avocado dices. And there was the expensive caviar that made the difference.

New on the menu was the Confit Of Muscovy Duck Leg With Sauteed Scallion, apparently a replacement for the guinea fowl. Cooked to perfection, the meat was soft and flavourful. The piece of handsomely seared foie gras accessorising the duck was unexpected as it was not mentioned in the menu. A pleasant surprising indeed and as Tony Bennett would put it, "Oh, the good life...".

Choosing a Beatles song to suit the ambiance at Sage is quite challenge, to be honest. The closest that comes to mind is Michelle. Or the ever-relevant low tempo tune, And I Love Her. A slightly humorous description of the feeling towards the Rump Steal With Carrot Puree And Anchovy Sauce, this. From a cut of the Wagyu type, the meat tasted fresh and subtly sweet which contrasted well with the dense, savoury anchovy sauce. Parts of the flaky beef, with bits of fat (or collagen) still stuck to the meat, were topped with a carrot puree. Tasted almost pumpkin-like, the slightly sweet puree was a good diversion from the savoury anchovy sauce.

And I love her.

Joanna was the girl who made the man a child again, the one Scott Walker couldn't forget. "She'll always be just a tear away", he sang.

Life would have been much easier had Mr. Walker loved the Warm Chocolate Biscuit With Chestnut, Nougat and Rum Ice Cream instead, just like all Sage regulars. Apparently, this is the unofficial signature dessert that patrons come back to. The biscuit was actually embedded under a warm chocolate cake of optimal sweetness.

The Almond Blanc Manger With Mango Sorbet And Passion Fruit dessert was as sweet as the melodies of Te Quiero Dijiste. An explosion of textures; crunchy caramelised wafer, smooth crushed ice, soft manger and bits of gelatin. All of different but complementing levels of sweetness.

Pairing it with a glass of selected sweet house wine was like blending King Cole's voice to the song. Magical.

A cup of tea and a piece of the castella-like biscuit ended the impressive showcase of culinary expressions at Sage. And it would have been perfect had King Cole's Let There Be Love was played instead of the repeat of The Look Of Love cover.

Then again, a tasteful experience goes beyond music and words. It's all about the chemistry of things. And Sage excelled in that aspect.


The Gardens Residences
6th Floor, The Gardens
Mid Valley City
Lingkaran Syed Putra
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel:(+603) 2268 1188

* The gourmet dinner set costs RM140 nett; inclusive of a chef's special of the day, an appetizer, a main course, a dessert (excluding the house wine mentioned above) and coffee/tea.

* And to Lyrical Lemongrass, thanks for the wonderful evening of stories and laughters! I still think that Dusty Springfield's version of The Look Of Love is better than Diana Krall's. Haha!

Romantic experiences at Sage:
Lyrical Lemongrass
Cumi & Ciki

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tell-A-Tale (Part 19): The Reminder.

'Door closed.'

'The day’s sitting quietly at the backseat.'

'Slipped in Feist’s The Reminder.'




'Rain subdued.'

'Thought of you.'


A smooth, intoxicating, warm body.

Dripping sweat over heat.

Bathing in coconut milk.

Exchanging tastebuds over savoury, softened rice.

Going exotic too.


At that sweet embrace of milk and sugar.


'Fainting rain.'

'Blurring vision.'

'Needing warmth.'

'Finding you.'







'Flashing lights.'


Friday, October 17, 2008

Tell-A-Tale (Part 18): My Filet-O-Friends.

At the stroke of midnight, the student was still crunching the endless assignments. It stood in front of him.

In the crowded mall, the seated couple was sharing a joke. Traces of it smeared across her face.

As the bus moved along the expressway, the child was fast asleep in her mother’s arms. It was there in her bag, with the bottles of baby food from Heinz.

It’s no mystery. They are among us. We see them all the time.

Sometimes, I have names for them.

They are friends.

Meet Johnny. He was their 253,547,743th Filet-O-Fish. I’ve know Johnny for a long time. He was a prize I won when I topped the class in 1989. A prize I cherished for a while. What is there not to like about this friend which consists of a crispy, golden crumbed piece of flaky, fried fish fillet sandwiched between soft, warm buns? And the smooth tartar sauce with bits of the perkin’, jerkin’ gherkin. A friend that helped me got through the darker phases of life. Like when I dropped to the eleventh position in 1990. And the countless rejections. I still see Johnny once in a while. His existence never once failed to bring cheer. Best of friends, big old Mac and we.

There’s a newfound friend I named Chomechai or pretty girl in Thai. She was a Spicy Fish McDeluxe. What sets her apart from Johnny was the corn-meal bun, instead of the typical kind. And of course, the addition of a special Thai chilli sauce. Living up to her name, Chomechai looked really pretty the first time we met. Alluring, if I may. But the taste was disappointing. The chilli tasted so bland, I almost had to add some extra chilli sauce. The common, pre-packed ones. We could have had so much fun together, Chomechai. But you chose to be safe, with that taste.

My meeting with Kaori-chan was serendipitous. Had I not gone to the library to get Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart, I would have never noticed her presence. The banner screaming KARAI! (hot!) caught my attention. It was meant to be. A Wasabi Filet-O-Fish. What else can one asks for? The wasabi cream was absolutely karai! No kawai (cute) business here, please. This is one fiery, wicked babe. I’ve been meeting Kaori-chan quite often, after work. Maybe tonight as well, for a quick flu relief. She’s a friend. A medicinal friend in many ways.

Some don’t notice them for they come and go(bbled).
Others are too indulged in their own ramblings.
Or perhaps they were doubtful of fastfriends.

Look around you, if you can afford the time.
You’ll never know when you’ll make a new friend.
A Filet-O-Friend.

I’m lovin’ some of mine.

Malaysia’s McDonald’s website:
Singapore’s McDonald’s website:

* Filet-O-Fish is available in Malaysia and Singapore (and many other parts of the world).
* Spicy Fish McDeluxe is available in Malaysia.
* Wasabi Filet-O-Fish is available in Singapore.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Restoran Haslam

"That bastard...", said Mia as she lit the first of her many Marlboro Lights to come. They've been together for almost six months. That Abang was all she ever wanted. Mature, good-looking and well, cool. Yes, cool he was and later, cold he became. Mia was (and still is) a smashing girl. With her long legs (always crossed), killer heels and translucent knee-length dresses (with contrasting straps), she was hot. A scientist and part-time model, this friend was every bit intellectually stimulating. Feisty as well, until that Abang turned her into this submissive little kitten.

In my half-awakened state of mind on a Sunday morning, the only sounds that caught my attention were the sial (accursed) and mampus (death) exclamations. Others just vanished into thin air with the smoke from the Marlboros. I could have said, "I sudah bagi tahu sama you (I told you so)" but refrained myself as this was not a good time to provoke the woman.

It’s so funny how (or why) they kept the relationship going despite the odds. While the rest thought that race and religion were their biggest issues, I always knew it was honesty.

...Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue...
...Honest is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you...

(Billy Joel's Honesty)


As much as I preferred talking about food, gadgets and other non-relationship stuffs, I guess it was not wrong participating in a little drama of life. Afterall, we were having breakfast at a prominent local director and actor, Datuk Yusof Haslam's restaurant. Remember the days of Sembilu (and sequel), Maria Marianna (and sequel) and Ops Gerak Khas (and sequel)? I bet Mia's sniggering reading this bit.

Well, I was glad she chose to overcome her heartache with a hearty breakfast instead of checking herself into the Tawakal ward, just steps away from this restaurant. Then, she had to say, "...this was where Abang and I would be having breakfast after our Titiwangsa morning walks..."

What?! Do I look like a substitute for you Abang??? (Her Ah Bang was afterall, Chinese…and had a goatee and moustache).

Celaka belaka. (Damnation galore)

The nasi lemak paled in comparison with Mia’s (mis)adventures. The rice had a nice coconut milk flavour and the sambal was the sweet type with a little heat. Not too bad but definitely not sexciting.

I could have ordered the lontong but since I’ve not eaten mee and mee hoon goreng in a long time (together with the list of other things that I’ve not been doing), I gave it a try. The mak cik (auntie) at the counter was impressed with the amount of sambal I put on the mee. I guess I don’t learn from mistakes. The gorengs were alright, though slightly wet while the cuttlefish tentacles were tender. None of those chemical tastes. At RM6.00 (with a fried egg), it was tad expensive for breakfast. Then again, those were some amount of tentacles I took there.

Mia chose the kuihs. Like her taste in men, they came in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavours. The sardine roll looked interesting with a whole cili padi shoveled up its rear (or front), which served no purpose except to add some heat to the roll. With a crispy egg-battered skin, it was quite delicious and most importantly, not burnt. Others like the kuih ketayap and kuih keria were generic in taste.

Then came the best piece of the day. The absolutely fantabulous roti canai. At RM1.00, the super garing (crispy) fried bread needed no condiment to go with it. The inner was soft and had a nice flour fragrance. It’ll go down my list as one of the best roti canais (pratas) in recent memory. I was told that it’s one of Haslam’s signature breakfast dishes. Sedap!

The lunch crowd can get rather maddening, apparently. Judging from the reviews and signboards shouting authentic Malay dishes, I’ll be sure of making a beeline here, for lunch. Mia's presence will double the fun, no doubt.

With current potential chaser, GadgetMan on hot pursuit, there might be a chance that the lunch will be of less sials and more sedaps.

Restoran Haslam
No. 8 & 10, Jalan Pahang Barat
Off Jalan Pahang
53000 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: (+603) 40237559/40252545

(The above breakfast cost RM16.90)

Check out SC's take on Restoran Haslam's lunch here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Restoran Super Kitchen @ Taman Usahawan Kepong

8 Oct 2008

The Heat

- Nikkei 225 Index plunged 9.38% (worst one-day plunge since 1987).
- Hang Seng Index lost 8.2%.
- Australia's All Ordinaries Index closed 4.1% lower.
- Trading halted in Jakarta as the main index fell more than 10%.
- Dow Jones shed 5.1%.
- Straits Times Index dived 6.61%.
- Seoul Composite Index dropped 5.81%.
- London, Paris, Frankfurt, Russia felt the heat as well.

In another part of the world, something’s burning too.

The hot chilli paste/flakes from Restoran Super Kitchen.

The Remedies(?)

- Britain pumped US$875 million to save banks from collapsing.
- Japan came up with a US$20.7 billion rescue plan.
- America approved a US$700 billion bailout for Wall Street banks.
- Hong Kong announced 1% cut in interest rates.
- Australia's central bank offered US$856 million.
- Senator Obama and Senator McCain were still debating on tax cuts for the middle class on television.

We can only hope the cash sprays are able to extinguish the on-going fires.

Like how we wish the herbal tea can cool down the burn from the chilli. Can it?

For now, it’s still early to tell. Confusions aloud as investors forecast whether it’s a bottomless pit or has the slump reached a plateau.

The Lesson

We've learnt not to put too much chilli paste/flakes into the noodle. Be cautious. Be wise. It may look tantalizing, together with all the other ingredients such as crispy anchovies, minced meat, fried shallot bits and a not-so-perfect-rather-overcooked poached egg. The more is definitely not the merrier. Take only what you can handle.

The Flickers

On-going fires certainly made transitions and short-missile launches sounded like the soup version of the pan mee. Uninteresting, as the soup base was rather bland despite the flavoursome ingredients included in the soup such as shitake mushroom slices, pork meatballs, fried shallot bits, potato leaves and an egg.

The Noodle

It was al dente, thick and smooth. Almost udon-like, this pan mee (handmade, flour-based noodle). Ensemble-wise, the dry version fared much better in terms of flavour. Since most of the ingredients are fried in one way or another, a nice combination of aroma and crunch is expected. Just test the chilli before investing, I mean pouring, the whole jar into the bowl. You don't want to cry for water, later. And by the way, where's the lime to go with the chilli??

The Wish

If you are burning still or have been burnt, do order yourself another shot of the herbal tea.

And we shall all hope and pray for rain to put all the fires away.

The Address

Restoran Super Kitchen
18, Jalan Metro Perdana 8
Taman Usahawan Kepong
52100 Kuala Lumpur.

The Branches

33, Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman 1
Off Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman
50300 Kuala Lumpur.
(Opposite Kin Kin)
Tel: (+603) 2697 0998

3-1, Jalan PJU 5/4
Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya.
Tel: (+603) 6141 7398

The Prices

Dry Pan Mee - RM6.00 per bowl
Soup Pan Mee - RM5.00 per bowl

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice @ Balestier Road

Every conversation is now tainted with melamine. Imagine how chaotic it would have been if this issue was discovered during the Olympics! In better times, melamine was nothing more than cheerful-looking plasticwares and perhaps a potential name for Melanie’s younger sister. My heart goes out to the families affected by this man-made pandemic. There are things that we could have avoided. And this is definitely one of them.

Just like “Burn After Reading”, the movie. No, I mean the script circles around avoidable mishaps. Not that one should avoid this movie. In fact, I thought it was smart, well-angled and stylishly edited. From the Coen brothers, I expect nothing less than Fargo and No Country For Old Men. However, with elaborate usage of the infamous WTF phrase plus the special appearance of a d**d*, I doubt it will be rolling its reels across the Causeway in the near future.

The milk, again. A colleague once jokingly told me that back in those simpler days of our lives, they survived on condensed milk. None of those fortified with vitamins and all the nutrients one needs to be the first astronaut to land on Mars. He further suggested that perhaps all these ridiculous ideas are causing a surge in demand, hence the shortcuts. Well, I am not sure of that as condensed milk is afterall, still milk. My cheeky suggestion was to raise a cow. Instead of dogs and cats, get a cow. You can milk all you want. You control its diet. You can feed it with beer for the extra marblings. The power is in your hands, people! And the garden could use some organic nutrients as well.

Perhaps that’s why kampung (free-range) chicken tastes better. Because they are fed with what chicken should be fed with and how you wanted them to taste like. No lipo, no botox and no estrogen injections. Just leftover rice and crawlies. I pondered upon this when I took a bite of Loy Kee’s steamed (poached) chicken. Kampung chicken it may not be but it was fresh. None of those dreadful frozen chicken taste. You could sense the sincerity of the dishes as the portions and details were commendable. S$6.00 for a chicken rice set consisting of a bowl of rice, cabbage soup, chicken and greens is what I call sincerity.

As for the roasted chicken, the skin was lightly salted and aromatic. Not too bad but I believe I’ve tasted better ones. The dippings (chili, dark soy and grated ginger) were rather ordinary as well, hence the inability to enrich the whole tasting experience.

The roasted pork belly was sold out that evening. Well, I guess a good movie and pork belly just don’t get along. So, opted for the barbequed pork (char siew) instead. At S$4.00, the portion was alright but the texture left much to be desired. Lean meat equals chewy meat. And a runny sauce plus its blandness only helped to drag the ratings even lower.

The deep fried tofu at S$6.00 was surprisingly good. Texture-wise, that is. Crispy skin with a soft inner. It would have been excellent if the skin was thinner. The dressing was however, typical. Sweet chili sauce with strands of shredded vegetables, ala Thai.

All is not lost as the long-grained rice was cooked to perfection. Fluffy, aromatic and only slightly oily. Dreamy, isn’t it? Given a better chili sauce, I could have walloped another bowl of just rice. There’s something about eating rice with heavy bowls that makes it somehow more appetizing. This is one myth that I still cannot decipher. And I’m not delving into that matter in this post. Haha!

Founded in 1953, Loy Kee is one of Singapore’s oldest chicken rice establishments. With so many recognitions and accolades pinned to this restaurant, there’s no harm giving it a try. Taste of course, is subjective.

On the milk, again. Just 3 months away from the Lunar New Year. Reinstating trust and confidence is an uphill task, moreover with some parties taking advantage of this chaos. But it’ll be a nightmare to have old Charlie mooing next door, everyday!

May we all eat and live well.

Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice
No. 342, Balestier Road
Tel: (+65) 6252 2318

Saturday, October 4, 2008

DainTi Hill (代官山)


岱宗夫如何, 齊魯青未了.
造化鍾神秀, 陰陽割昏曉.
盪胸生曾雲, 決眥入歸鳥.
會當凌絕頂, 一覽衆山小.

杜甫 (唐詩三百首, 卷216)

Circa 6th century AD

Gazing Mount Dai

O’ great Mount Dai... across ancient Shandong.

Luring with your mystical beauty... the antitheses break the day from night.

Embracing the clouds with your chest...
...alas, homecoming birds sore your sight.

I will reach your peak one day...
...and below, shall I see the smallest of your kingdoms.

Du Fu (300 Tang Dynasty Poems, Scroll 216)


The crowd was modern and chic. Legs crossed and spoke in the language of the Tang people. The strokes forming the ideograms were vaguely familiar, like those 3 words that form my name. Neo-classic interior in pink. Artifacts in colourful plastics. A celebration of a golden era that lasted 300 years.

Yes, I’ve arrived.

Ascending DianTi Hill was no great feat. In fact, only 6 storeys high. 7 minutes, if you use the escalator.

But we almost suffocated. Drowned in the culture that was so familiar to us, gasping as we questioned our understanding of an epoch as glorious as the Renaissance. My climbing mate can be forgiven for she was only half Tang. I had no excuse for myself.

But we were ready to learn. To embrace the calligraphic choreographies of Li Bai, Du Fu, and other great Tang poets, in contemporary fashion. And to open up to a taste of Tang in which the ignorant us assumed as nothing more than avant garde dai chow (stir-fries). And dumplings.

Spicy pork rice (RM18)
Was curry available back in those days? Perhaps the Silk Road flourished and attracted many traders from the subcontinent during the Tang period. Resembling the typical RM3.00 curry rice (or RM4.50 circa Oct 2008) one gets from the mixed rice stall, the curry was mildly spiced and turmeric yellow-hued, in true Chinese fashion. The rice, however summed up the luxuriousness of the dish as the pearl (glutinous) type was used. Served in a hotpot as well, to keep warm and aromatic.

Dragon fruit and prawn salad (RM15)
The name itself was everything auspicious. Dragon (fruit) for strength and power. Prawns for laughters, figuratively. A simple construction zinged with a touch of mango juice.

Potato pumpkin salad (RM9)


天水秋雲薄, 從西萬里風.
今朝好晴景, 久雨不妨農.
塞柳行疏翠, 山梨結小紅.
胡笳樓上發, 一雁入高空.

杜甫 (唐詩三百首, 卷225)

After The Rain

Autumn rain has fallen, thin clouds are moving westward.
The land remains safe, as the clear sky prevails this morning.
Willows green while pears blush.
Aubergines fruit while a goose fly high.

Du Fu (300 Tang Dynasty Poems, Scroll 225)


A smooth, flavourful mousse.

Baked rice roll (RM28)
It was meant to be stuffed with crab meat, pork floss, avocado, papaya, honeydew and topped with tobikos, mustard sauce and mayonnaise. I only knew it was more than a mouthful. Not to be confused with Japanese sushi, this was a rice roll which technically meant it was generally Tang. Again, I only knew it was more than a mouthful. A signature dish with a signature topping of mustard-yellow deliciousness.

Ice Blended peanut (RM12)



張泌(唐詩三百首, 卷742)

The Message

Wandering to the House of Xie,
Along swaying corridors with wavering arcs,
Yearning is spring’s moon,
Reflecting fallen flowers on the departed.

Zhang Bi (300 Tang Dynasty Poems, Scroll 742)

Nice desserts do that to people. Make them (sugar) high and self-indulged, I mean.

Rich, creamy, aromatic peanut butter blend. This.

Ice Blended Mango (RM10)
Except for the regal yellow and cubes of mangoes, there was nothing recital about it.

The End (末端)

I came in hungry, searching for food,
No Tang significance but 1-2 were good.
But the poets/poems were real darn cool,
I almost fell off my stool.
And that’s no bull.

毛果 (HairyBerry, 2008)

DainTi Hill (代官山)
Pavilion KL Shopping Mall
Lot 6.01.05, Level 6
168, Jalan Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: (+603) 21456628

* By the way, appreciation towards the poems started after checking out DainTi Hill's concept on their website. Not during the meal.

Check out these sites for a taste of the 300 Tang Poems:
In Chinese
With Translations