Saturday, 25 January 2014

Nosh – Too… much… black… peppAAACHOO!

7, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, 59100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We went to Nosh in Bangsar for Christmas dinner and found it to be refreshingly quiet and uncrowded. We even found parking within seconds of turning into the Telawi area.

Guess most of the people who frequent Bangsar partied too hard there the night before and were all at home nursing hangovers and feeling sorry for themselves. Great for me, since I am not too fond of crowded places.

So, the food at Nosh. It seemed that they were a little heavy-handed with the black pepper, and this was particularly noticeable for someone who doesn’t like black pepper, like me.

The taste of black pepper dominated my chicken roulade, to the point where I could hardly taste anything else. Besides this, the chicken itself was nice and tender, with what looked like spinach in the middle and a thin, crispy crust. There were some nicely cooked and beautifully carved pieces of vegetables and a huge amount of sweet and extremely heavy pumpkin mash. Fortunately, the tart tomato sauce helped cut some of the mash’s sweetness, and also counter some of the pepperiness of the chicken.

They should have called it black pepper chicken roulade to warn people like me.

Lady Fartsalot’s tagliatelle carbonara with smoked duck was a lot better. It landed on the table in a swirl of amazing smells: cheese and salty ham and deliciousness… topped with a single, beautiful, runny egg yolk. Once everything’s been mixed and given some time to dry out, we were left with a nice, thick sauce that tasted every bit as good as it smelled. There was just the right amount of sauce, too, and it coated the firm and chewy tagliatelle nicely. Everything was great except for an occasional pepper-heavy bite of food. Maybe we didn’t mix the pasta thoroughly enough to spread the pepper out.

An amazing carbonara spoiled slightly by the pepper bombs buried within.

Fortunately, the last item we’ll be talking about is blessedly free of back pepper. The Passion Shy mocktail was a bit like a mojito, and tasted of lime and passionfruit, with a very slight hint of mint. Very refreshing indeed.

One of the few things containing mint that I actually like a lot.
Overall, the food at Nosh is pretty good. The black pepper thing is probably a very personal gripe based on my own taste preferences. I am curious to go back again to try other items on the menu, perhaps on normal days when the cooks are less likely to have been out getting hammered the previous night.

Bite-sized review
Good food, ambience and service. The food seemed to have a little too much black pepper, but that could be because I don’t like black pepper and am particularly sensitive to it. I would go back again to try other stuff on the menu.

Price: Mid-range for Bangsar. The two mains were RM34 each. The drink was RM12.
Hours: Closed on Mondays. Opening hours on other days vary. Check their website at for details.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

MyKuali Penang White Curry Mee

Many people I know are already fanatical devotees of this instant noodle brand. For those of you who have yet to discover it, here’s a quick summary of the MyKuali legend so far.

There are a few sections with sub-heads, so you can skip the parts you’re already familiar with.

About The Ramen Rater
Before anything else, I guess I should tell you about The Ramen Rater, since I first heard about MyKuali on his site. Who is he, you ask? Well, he’s an American guy who has loved instant noodles since he was a kid, and is now probably the world’s foremost authority on instant noodles.

He’s so influential, his opinion so respected, that when his top 10 list of 2013’s best instant noodles did not include a brand from Taiwan, the story was featured on Taiwanese TV and many Taiwanese expressed outrage at the notion that their instant noodles are not considered good enough by the big man.

People and companies send him products to review. He’s been featured on TV and radio shows in multiple countries, including Japan: where instant noodles were invented.

What I’m trying to get across is, he’s not just some chubby white guy crapping out arbitrary opinions nobody cares about from his mother’s basement. No, when this chubby white guy craps out his arbitrary opinions, it affects people, incites strong reactions and could create shockwaves half a world away.

And here’s a picture of this instant noodle icon – so you can spot him and ask for an autograph or something.

He’s reviewed over 700 unique instant noodles to date and I’m just flabbergasted by two things:
1. How the heck is he still alive??
2. Why hasn’t he gotten a Wikipedia entry yet?

MyKuali got onto a Ramen Rater Top 10
As I said, I first heard about MyKuali when their noodles made it onto The Ramen Rater’s Top 10 Spiciest Instant Noodles of All Time 2013. I know, I know, the ‘2013’ is contradicting the bit that says ‘of All Time’ – but I’m not about to argue with the world’s leading Instant Noodle-ologist.

It came in at number 7, but it was the first time an instant noodle from Malaysia made it onto a Ramen Rater Top Ten list, and it received a perfect 5/5 stars to boot! Certainly something to be proud of.
Side note, because I’m still really sore about the state of things
Goodness knows I need things to be proud of, living as I am in a situation where a big group of us put money into a pot, only to have 99.5% of it stolen by a tiny group of rabid dogs. Said dogs then aggressively brandish kangkung in our faces and scream insults at us because we’re not sufficiently grateful for the 0.5% they left us.

Yeah, I just had to get one more in.

Sorry, moving on.

MyKuali, the seriously elusive
I don’t know if the Ramen Rater listing made demand for MyKuali explode, or if the noodles had been hugely popular all along before he did his review and top ten listing. All I know is, by the time I got round to Googling MyKuali, their Facebook page has already been inundated by frustrated fans crying out for their white curry noodles, demanding that they step up their production and improve their distribution network.

People willingly endured KL traffic to get to Sogo, where MyKuali claimed that the noodles were available, only to find them already sold out. A friend told me about spotting a last case of it in a sundry shop while running an urgent errand, and immediately stopped to buy the lot, errand temporarily forgotten until he could secure the noodles. They were being snapped up, not by the packet, but in bulk by the case – whenever anyone is lucky enough to get their hands on some.

Take a good look – memorise what it looks like. Make sure you tell me if you spot it anywhere.

As more people get a taste, the frenzy intensified. Rumours would spring up about where it can be found – sometimes proven true, other times not. Someone or other would know a guy who knows a guy who knows an agent for MyKuali who could secure a shipment of the stuff. Enterprising individuals would re-sell it at nearly a 50% mark-up.

And no doubt at some point a few of us would look up from our obsession just long enough to laugh about how ridiculous it must appear that we’re going to all this trouble over what, ultimately, are just instant noodles. But do not doubt that those same people would cheerfully punch you in the throat if you get between them and the last packet on the shelf.

Rumour has it that a movie is being made about the fanaticism of MyKuali lovers - they're calling it World War Mee.
So it’s a big deal. But really, how does it taste?
Short answer: it’s good. It’s really good. It’s fantastic for an instant noodle, and even holds its own against the curry mee you get from hawkers in Penang. Definitely a damn sight better than some of the curry laksa we find here in Klang Valley.

Don’t let the less-than-premium look of the packaging design turn you off. This stuff is legit!

For the long answer, well… let’s start with the contents of the pack. You immediately get a sense that this is not your regular Maggi mee because along with the noodles and seasoning powder, you also get a huge packet of potent-looking chilli paste that looked like it was freshly made by your grandma in her own kitchen; and they even managed to include the richness of santan in the form of a powdered ‘non-dairy creamer’.

MyKuali Penang White Curry Mee unboxing.

Then you start cooking and the smell just takes over the kitchen and spreads outward in an intoxicating wave that conjures up images of long-simmering claypots of seafood curry with 15 ingredients in them.

Now you pour the noodles into a bowl, and sinuous tendrils of aroma rise up out of the soup, caressing your senses and whispering salacious promises of the pleasures to come… soon, so very soon now.

I just want to dive into a vat full of this stuff.

You scoop up a spoonful of soup and bring it to eye level. It’s the deep, rich colour of saffron robes, with globules of chilli oil and dark flecks of pulverised herbs and spices floating on the surface. It’s also thick, with an almost sauce-like consistency that helps it to cling to every noodle strand.

We couldn’t wait long enough to carry it to the dining table, and ate it right there on the kitchen counter.

You take your first sip and your eyes close involuntarily as your senses are overcome – the richness of coconut milk and the briny sweetness of seafood crashing together on your tongue and filling up your entire mouth. Then, at the back of your throat, a subtle spiciness that gradually grows in presence, making your tongue and lips tingle deliciously, reminding you it’s there but never intense enough to make you uncomfortable.

You realise you’d been holding your breath all this while and sigh contentedly, and you get the heady aroma again in your nostrils – softer now, a fond farewell and an invitation to take your next spoonful.

Rinse, repeat, lick the bowl. I did.

Do I add anything?
The noodles are perfect and don’t need anything else. But you can always add boiled prawns and fish fillets, maybe a perfectly boiled egg with runny yolk. And replace water with a tasty seafood stock for an extra flavour boost.

I wouldn’t recommend doing anything more than that.

Most importantly, where can I score some?
Well, I don’t know of a steady supply source in Klang Valley or even in Penang. But if I did, well, I wouldn’t share it. Yeah, I’m selfish like that. But I’m really not all that big of a douche because…

Here’s your chance to win some MyKuali!
To thank you for reading this far, here’s an opportunity to win a bag of MyKuali with 4 packets of noodles. Just tell us which post in this blog you like most, and why. Submit your answers via e-mail at by 14 Feb 2014.

Just one term: winners MUST collect their prizes from The Curve @ Mutiara Damansara.

All the best!

We’ve not been paid by MyKuali in any way to promote their product. Although MyKuali, if you’re reading this, a few packs of free noodles would be greatly appreciated. :)

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Special kangkung edition!

Our country has the potential to be a wonderful place to live… utopian, even.

Sort of like the USS Enterprise.

Registration number NCC-1701-D.

Except, the way things are, we’re living in a nightmare alternate reality where the bridge has been hijacked by thugs and robbers, who have the reasoning ability of rabid dogs, the cultural refinement of shit-flinging monkeys and the avariciousness of a Ferengi ‘acquisition crew’ intent on stripping the ship bare.

Worse, security officers seem to all have been replaced by rempits in uniform, wielding truncheons and tear gas against protesting crewmembers every bit as gleefully and belligerently as their masters do with senseless statements on the shipwide comm system.

Things look bleak indeed. But hey, at least the replicator can now make kangkung for cheaper!

And is suddenly also coin-operated, for some reason.

There’s been plenty of noise made online, of course, but obviously this is not really about kangkung. But people much smarter and more eloquent and better-informed than I am have explained this repeatedly, so I figured I might as well just have some fun with this kangkung thing while it’s still got people talking.

At the very least, it’ll help get my mind off the fact that the ship’s current trajectory is taking us on a direct collision course with a moon.

Okay, okay, I’m done making political commentary veiled in a gossamer-thin layer of nerdiness.

Let’s get back on topic.

On to our celebration of the vegetable du jour. Here are some interesting and tasty ways to enjoy kangkung – some, admittedly, more experimental/unconventional than those you may be used to.

Claypot kangkung
This is one of the signature dishes at Wun Nam, a Chinese restaurant in Damansara Perdana. It has a very subtle smokiness and also a tiny hint of heat from the dried chillies. A pretty good kangkung dish if you want something a little different from the usual kangkung stir-fried in sambal belacan.

Photo courtesy of their Facebook page because we forgot to take a picture when we had this dish.
Something interesting about this place – it seems to be a typical tai-chow joint serving up rice and dishes as well as one-dish meals. It has no air-conditioning, and kopitiam-style tables and chairs.

Yet several elements indicate that it is more of a higher-end restaurant. For one, it has a trophy featuring a golden spatula-and-ladle set on prominent display so it’s won a culinary award of some sort. Not sure which award because I don’t read Chinese. Also, it is able to serve multi-course Chinese banquets (probably at nicer-looking premises elsewhere?) – including those RM888-type banquet sets for Chinese New Year and a special sturgeon banquet that costs about RM1000 a head.

Anyway, service is always great and friendly, and food is good and reasonably-priced. Good place to check out if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.

Deep-fried kangkung
We had this one at Fat One – my favourite lok-lok truck brand. Usually, the kangkung skewers are just blanched, but if you request it, the lok-lok man will brush the kangkung with teriyaki sauce, coat it in flour and then dunk it in boiling oil.

This is what you end up with when it’s done.
It’s delicious! Its outer layers are fragrant and crunchy, with a slight bitterness similar to the kind you get from deep-fried shallots or garlic. Inside, you still get the moist crunchiness of boiled kangkung. Add their spicy chilli sauce and it’s heaven on a stick.

Kangkung soup
This is a Western-style soup made by boiling kangkung till cooked, then blending it with a little butter. I basically used Gordon Ramsay’s broccoli soup recipe and substituted broccoli with kangkung.

It’s so simple even I didn’t manage to mess it up.

It’s actually not bad, and tasted a little like the broccoli soup… except, well, more kangkung-ish.

Sotong kangkung
Had this one at the Medan Selera at SS2. A little steep at RM15, but it was pretty good.

Nothing much to say about this one. A typical kangkung dish that pretty much everyone has tried.

This is what the dish looked like when it arrived.
With prices going up for everything except kangkung, this is probably a more accurate representation of a sotong kangkung dish that you order in the future.

Mashed kangkung
Not to be outdone by my kangkung soup, Lady Fartsalot found this Indian recipe for mashed kangkung online. It is much more complex, with all sorts of ingredients that include coriander seeds, mustard seeds, shallots and what not. Obviously, she’s better-suited to making this than I am.

And here it is in all its pasty, green glory.
It is very mild and creamy, and tastes a little sambal-ish probably due to the shallots and chilli in it. I think it would make a tasty and healthy dip for chips instead of the typically cream cheese-heavy preparations favourite by Western recipes, or a nice spread on sandwich bread instead of butter or mayonnaise.

Well, that’s enough kangkung for now. We actually ate everything on this list (except the claypot kangkung) within a 4-hour period. It’s been interesting, but I think we will be staying away from the stuff for about a week or two.

If you have any interesting new ways to enjoy kangkung, do share in the comments below.

Sungai Petani mamak mee gorengs – Thajudeen VS Alaudin

When done right, a plate of mamak mee goreng – much like char koay teow (which, to me, is the undisputed king of Malaysian stir-fried noodles) – is a glorious creation. Its complex, multi-layered flavours and textures make it a meal that is deliciously, magically, so much more than merely the sum of its ingredients list.

But, also like char koay teow, not many people are able to do it right. Most of those I’ve had in Klang Valley have been rather poor approximations of what real mamak mee goreng ought to be.

The good ones I know of are all up north. In Penang, Hameed does a pretty good and unique spicy version with sotong; and the stall at Bangkok Lane with its reddish noodles is not bad either. Even further north, in Sungai Petani, I’ve found another two stalls that have been serving up good mamak mee goreng for many years.

Having tried both, I find myself preferring Thajudeen just a sliver more. But they are very close in terms of taste and quality, so here’s a showdown/comparison that will hopefully highlight why each of them deserves their respective groups of loyal fans.

Both have a similar salty-sweet-spicy flavour that is distinctive to mamak mee goreng. I find that Thajudeen has slightly stronger and saltier flavours, hence my preference.

Alaudin cuts its ingredients in bigger chunks – you can clearly see and taste the skin-on potato wedges, fritters and beancurd in it. With Thajudeen, the ingredients are cut significantly smaller so while you still get various distinct textures as you eat, it is more difficult to visually discern the different ingredients in the dish. Advantage to Alaudin on this one.

Mee Thajudeen is like creamy peanut butter... everything practically pureed together.
And Mee Alaudin is more like chunky peanut butter, with distinctive pieces of its various ingredients.

Both use the yellow noodles that appear to be unique to Sungai Petani. They’re thinner, lighter in colour and have a firmer, chewier texture compared to the yellow noodles found elsewhere. To me, these noodles give Sungai Petani hawkers an overall edge over their counterparts elsewhere in Malaysia, even – though it pains me to admit it – those in Penang.

How to eat
Both noodles tend to be a little moist when it arrives on the table. I would recommend stirring and tossing them around a bit to let the moisture dissipate and allow the noodles to dry out a bit. I find that the flavour is best when the noodles are slightly warm – rather than when they are piping hot.

Thajudeen noodles are RM3.30 a plate while Alaudeen’s is a little below RM3.00.

Like Improved Pickup Radius on Diablo III items or the points on ‘Whose line is it anyway?’ ambience doesn’t really matter but I am including this here because I suspect it may help explain the slight price discrepancy between the two stalls.

Restoran Taulat where Thajudeen is located is off the main road, large and has spotless, gleaming metal tables and chairs. It has a large open-air kitchen with a team of about 3 or 4 cooks.

This shop looks like it belongs to a max-level artisan on Diablo III.

In contrast, Alaudin is in a smaller, slightly more run-down location next to a big main road with lots of cars zooming past nearby. Its stall is a single pushcart outside a mamak shop that supplies the plastic tables and chairs and drinks. 

While this stall looks like another destructible object in the game that players couldn't even be bothered to smash. 

You know which one I prefer, but the ultimate decision on which one is better is very much a matter of individual taste. Next time you roll by Sungai Petani, be sure to give both a try and decide for yourself.

Mee Thajudeen
Restoran Taulat, No. 214-B, Jalan Hospital, 08000, Sungai Petani, Kedah, Malaysia

Mee Alaudin
Mee Alaudin Stall, Jalan Kampung Baru (Bakar Arang), 08000, Sungai Petani, Kedah, Malaysia

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Bangkok Part 5/5: Any other business

Finally, we conclude our Bangkok report. Here, we wrap things up with a randomlist of food that we found to be interesting in one way or another.

Raw grilled sausage
The first stall we ate at during this trip was right outside our hotel. There was a lady selling grilled meat. We had the chicken wing, which tasted pretty normal, and then we got these pork sausage things. They were on the grill for barely a minute so the minced pork inside was cold and raw, tasting strongly of garlic and some sort of chimichurri mix. It was sort of a pork tartare, really. It tasted fine, but it being our first day, we were worried that eating raw pork would wreak havoc on our digestive systems and spoil the rest of our makan plans so we had to ask for it to be cooked a little more.

There are many stalls like this around the hotel, each offering a big selection of grilled meats. 

McDonald’s spinach pie
I was quite curious about this, and since I didn’t think we were going to see these in Malaysia, I decided to give it a try. Like all pies at McDonald’s, this one was exceedingly hot inside and took a long time to cool down. I was hoping for more of a spinach taste, but it tasted more of corn than anything else.

Tastes just like creamed corn pie with green food colouring - maybe they made a typo with the name.

Thai kuey chap
This stall was at Khao San Road, right next to the chicken salad stall from Bangkok Part 1. They had rice noodle sheets rolled up like chee cheong fun, together with various pig parts and a few different cuts of pork all swimming in a dark, porky, hearty broth. Great comfort food if you’re someone who adores pig parts as much as Lady Fartsalot does. Like pretty much all of the food we had in Bangkok, you can adjust the flavour to your liking with the sweet-salty-spicy-sour condiments on the table.

More pork parts than you can shake a chopstick at.

Gourd dogs
These snacks were sort of like corn dogs, except they were gourd-shaped and composed almost entirely of batter – a mostly sweet batter that was fried and then dipped in more batter and then fried again to achieve its distinctive shape. When we’ve chewed down to the hotdog bit, we found that it was extremely tiny and tasted sort of sweet as well. It was rather mediocre and sorely lacking in the meat department – something you absolutely cannot accuse our next entry of.

You could also call it a stunted corn dog.

Meat platter
It was the first stall at the Seacon pasar malam that caught my attention – cheese-stuffed sausages, luncheon meats, hams, fish cakes and more… a meat-lover’s dream spread dunked in boiling oil and cut up into bite-sized pieces of salty, meaty, greasy deliciousness and slathered in chilli sauce, mustard and mayonnaise. This massive platter of processed meat goodness was only 100 Baht and filled me up a little too much right at the start of this particular pasar malam crawl, but I have absolutely no regrets buying it.

In my mind, few things in the world look better than this gorgeous pile of processed meat. 
Well, this concludes our coverage of the stuff we ate around Bangkok. We’ve tried some exciting new flavours and are planning to go back for more very soon – and hopefully come back with more lists of tasty discoveries. Next post, however, we’ll be back in Malaysia with a big hawker favourite from Sungai Petani.