Saturday, December 8, 2018

Kuala Lumpur - Chilli Pan Mee at Restoran Kin Kin

Sometimes the simplest things are the best, and the Chilli Pan Mee at Restoran Kin Kin was one of the most enjoyable things we ate in Kuala Lumpur.

It doesn't look like much when it arrives - a bowl of noodles topped with ground pork, scallions and a flaccid egg:

But once you add a generous amount of their magic chili condiment and get everything nicely mixed together, man...

It came with a little bowl of a lightly-flavored broth - providing a good foil if you added a bit too much chili.

We left with happy bellies and a pleasant lingering burn in our mouths.

Kuala Lumpur - Breakfast at Nasi Lemak Wanjo

Nasi Lemak is coconut rice served with sambal, fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) an egg and a host of other optional bits. It is perhaps the quintessential Malay breakfast. This version was at Nasi Lemak Wanjo in the Kampung Baru neighborhood of Kuala Lumpur.

In addition to the staples, you choose your own extras. We got one plate with beef rendang:

and another piled high with chicken (fried, and rendang):

The rice was really good, with more coconut flavor than other versions I've had, and both the beef and the chicken were very tasty.

The place was bustling on a Saturday morning, but everything was run very efficiently and the line moved quickly.

Washed down with some iced milk tea, this breakfast really hit the spot.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Kuala Lumpur - Curry Puff and Kuih Bakul at Brickfields Pisang Goreng

After having lunch in the Brickfields neighborhood, we found ourselves in the vicinity of a famous pisang goreng (fried banana) cart, so we stopped by to check it out.

Unfortunately, they had not been able to get their banana stock and so fried banana was off the menu. Not to be deterred, we ordered a curry puff and a kuih bakul.

The kuih bakul was a caramelized rice cake wedged between a slice of sweet potato and a slice of daikon radish, then deep fried. Sounds like a strange combo, but it was really good.

We didn't have belly room for the curry puff until later in the day.

Chunks of chicken and potato with a super savory curry mixture and a nice, flaky crust. Even cold, this was one of the best curry puffs I've had.

Kuala Lumpur - Peter's Pork Noodle and Curry Laksa at Moneys Corner Food Court

One day we were wandering around the Brickfields neighborhood of Kuala Lumpur and needed something to eat. I'd read about a food court in the area. I'd heard it was a bit hard to find, and I'm glad I did my research since we would never have found it otherwise.

A little sign points down a nondescript alley way. Walking down, and ducking in through a dim doorway, we emerged into a bustling little food oasis packed with people on their lunch break.

After finding one of the few empty seats, we ordered a bowl from "Peter's Pork Noodle".

It was simple, but really satisfying - a delicate pork broth with rice noodles, greens and a generous amount of tender pork slices.

There was a stand right near our table selling curry laksa, so we jumped at the chance to get a bowl of that as well.

Also really good.

The intense, curry-flavored broth was still light enough to be eaten as a soup. It was packed with assorted fish balls, bits of fish cake, a bit of chicken and a mound of nicely textured round wheat noodles.

Seated at a table with a group of friendly locals that seems somewhat surprised that we'd found our way here, it was a very enjoyable lunch.

Kuala Lumpur - Banana Leaf Thali at Bakti Woodlands

One of the areas we stayed in while visiting Kuala Lumpur (near the Masjid Jamek metro stop) had a wealth of Indian food within a few blocks radius. We had never had a thali before, so one afternoon we stopped into Bakti Woodlands vegetarian restaurant to rectify this hole in our culinary experience.

A thali is a platter-for-one containing an assortment of foods - often served on a banana leaf, either spooned on directly, or presented in small containers.

We got a North Indian thali - pictured at the top of this post, and below:

And a "mini" thali:

Which wasn't particularly mini at all - it just came with less rice.

Both were delicious. Nicely seasoned rice, flatbreads, papadums with lime pickle, and an assortment of tasty dals and chutneys. The yellow cubes you see in the picture above were a sort of dessert - kind of like a sugary fudge. The single chili on the platter was really interesting - it was very salty, and crumbled easily so that you could use it as a condiment.

Definitely the kind of meal I could be happy having on a regular basis.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Hotel Breakfasts in Southeast Asia

Some of our hotel stays included breakfast. Generally the options ranged from standard Western fare to decidedly un-Western options. Here are some of the latter.

Our hotel in Taipei had a buffet breakfast that usually included some interesting options. The "good stuff" was often picked over by the time we got there, but we managed to do ok for ourselves.

In Hanoi, pho was always available.

And sometimes Bánh Cuốn.

In Da Nang there was a buffet with all sorts of options.

Nothing was particularly amazing, but the variety was fun.

In Hoi An, the Phở Bò had a bit of heat to it:

And they had local staples like Cao Lầu (a really good version, actually):

And Mì Quảng - good, but it didn't make us forget about the fantastic version at Ông Hai.

Our hotel in An Bang beach also had a pretty decent Mì Quảng:

And Bún Bò:

They also always had a very nice plate of fresh fruit.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Kuala Lumpur - Roti Banjir and Teh Tarik at Mansion Tea Stall

Needing some morning energy to shlep ourselves and our luggage on the metro from one part of Kuala Lumpur to another, we stopped in at Mansion Tea Stall for breakfast.

This place is open 24 hours a day, and we enjoyed every minute we spent there.

Breakfast was the Roti Banjir special - a roti canai smothered in dal and served with two half-boiled eggs and sambal. Washed down with a mug of Teh Tarik ("pulled tea"), it really hit the spot.

The staff here were all very friendly and liked to mug for the camera. The patrons were equally nice, and we enjoyed a nice morning conversation with people at our table.

As we were getting up to pay, a gentleman at our table who had been quietly listening in on the conversation insisted on paying for our meals. This is the kind of experience we travel for.

Hue - Bún Bò Huế

Even though you see Bún Bò Huế (Hue-style beef noodle soup) places all over Vietnam, we made a point to wait to have it until we were actually in Hue. I found myself almost regretting this, as it proved difficult to pick a place in Hue to have it. Places were closed, too far away, derided as gone touristy and expensive, etc.

I was talking to one of our hotel's friendly receptionists about this, and she told me there was a lady who sets up shop right on the corner every morning and that was where the locals ate.

That was good enough for us. Since we aren't the morning-est of people, we hadn't seen the lady's setup on our first day in Hue - she had already packed up and gone before we headed out. Making a point to get out there before 8:00 the next morning, there she was.

Unlike phở bò, the noodles are bún (rice vermicelli). The broth was pulled from a stewing cauldron of meat bits - our bowls had some beef meatballs in them, along with some fresh beef slices that were added at serving. I've read that cubes of blood are typical, but there were none is this version.

Savory, lemon-grassy and moderately spicy. Delicious. We had it for breakfast on both of our remaining mornings in Hue.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Hue - Bánh Bèo, Bánh Nậm and Bánh Khoai at Quán Hạnh

We had a bit of trouble discovering places to eat in Hue, so it was fortunate that we found a restaurant nearby that we really liked.

Quán Hạnh specializes in local Hue dishes, and we had dinner there twice during our short stay. We got to try a couple of new types of "Bánh". Bánh Nậm comes as a stack of leaf-wrapped treasures:

Inside each package is a luxuriously soft rice cake with shrimp and pork. The texture is completely different than other types of rice cakes we've had and we really enjoyed it.

We also got to try Bánh Khoai - Hue's local version of bánh xèo. Bánh khoai is puffier and you break off pieces to eat directly with greens and herbs, rather than rolling it in a rice wrap.

And we couldn't resist getting some Bánh Bèo:

An order of 16 of these cute little dishes seemed like a lot at first, but they disappeared quickly...

We also had a couple of less-specifically local, but still tasty dishes. Bún Thịt Nướng (pork with rice vermicelli) and Gỏi Cuốn (shrimp and pork summer rolls).

We enjoyed everything we tried at Quán Hạnh, but the clear standouts were the Bánh Bèo and Bánh Nậm.