My plan for this summer was to EAT. With a couple of short trips planned around Asia, the strategy was simple – eat delicious food regularly without hesitation or regret. One month and three kilograms later, I have definitely succeeded. Here are my top picks!
This little Northwest Malaysian destination is getting really popular of late and rightly so! It’s a must for any glutton. A short (and cheap!) flight from Singapore on Tiger Airways, this is a great place to visit with the family as there is something (and some dish) for everyone. Apart from the mind-blowing food, I also enjoyed the street art which was easily found everywhere, Little India and the Penang Peranakan Museum very much. Now back to the food!
1. Hon Kei Food Corner – Pork Porridge (45 Kampong Malabar, Georgetown)
How could something so simple taste so deliciously complex?? You can choose porridge or noodles, plus toppings which range from pork mince to offal but they are both served with the same magical broth which was liquid gold goodness in my book. It was so sweet and tasty, a broth this good could only come boiling every pig part imaginable for hours on end. Heck, it was so good, if you told me it was made by soup fairies from the Enchanted forest, I would have believed you. For those of you who think porridge is only for the sick or toothless, think again. Hon Kei’s porridge is so good, if I was ever on death row it would definitely be a contender for my last supper. And as if this place needed another reason to make you go, their Lor Bak is also rather frickin’ perfect.
2. Penang Road – Famous Chendol
This Chendol is so famous it’s almost cliche to go there. Problem is, it’s really very good. Unfortunately, I am no Chendol Connossieur, so I can’t really tell you specifically why it’s better than all the rest. Is it the lighter green colour instead of the usual radioactive toxic shade that sets it apart? Or perhaps the secret lies in the gula melaka which tastes richer and more complex than just your normal molasses from da block. I think the best thing about this Chendol is that there is heavenly Orh Luak and Assam Laksa in the same coffeeshop! Why have just one famous food when you can have three? It’s a win-win strategy that is very popular with all advance gluttons.
3. Lebuh Cintra – Hot and Sour Duck soup with Kiam Chye (Pickled Vegetables)
This was an accidental discovery which made it even more gratifying. After days of gorging ourselves silly, we decided to go for a “light meal” of chicken rice for our last meal. My mom remembered passing stall on Lebuh Cintra the day before so that’s where we headed. As we sat down, we asked if they had vegetables to go with our meal. They said, “Don’t have, but got soup.” So we had soup. Life changing soup. It was this thick broth which had pieces of duck falling off the bone, bits of kiam chye, lots of spice and plenty of oomph. This mere accompaniment of a soup definitely stole the show. I don’t know if it was the magnificent soup, or just the sheer amount of food that had affected my brain, but I totally forgot about the address! I can tell you this though, it’s on the same side of the road as Campbell House and it uses light blue plates and bowls. Oh and I have a picture of the inside of the shop, woohoo! Now, get your Sherlock on and go look for this elusive soup, you won’t regret it!
Bangkok is one of my favourite food havens and I’m ready to go anytime, I was more than happy to go this time with my BFFs, to enjoy the classic thai delights. But in addition to the usual dishes, we also discovered one of many finer options in this bustling city.
Even though we were perfectly content to eat street food the entire time, the adult in us decided we would have one nice night out at a fancy restaurant. Upon our socialite friend Gwen’s recommendation, she booked a table at Aston in the Sukhumvit area. The place definitely looked the part and the food was just as on point. We had the degustation menu which included 10-11 dishes, depending on some optional additions. My favourite dishes were the Baby Prawn Cappellini and the Lamb Carpaccio with smoked eel, creme fraiche and burnt butter. Every dish was beautifully presented and surprising and fine in taste and texture. The price was also very reasonable for the whole experience. We paid about S$160 each, which included a couple of bottles of wines and sparkling waters. We also had the private dining area for our party of 8, which enhanced the experience. The only gripe I had was that the table could have been dressed up a little more. I get the whole minimalist thing, but surely a simple place mat would not have been too much.
A short trip to celebrate my birthday with my French family saw me back in my old hood in the ‘Hai. Not surprisingly there were so many new ‘it’ places to try. One such place was Bistro 321 Le Bec. The grounds itself is beautiful – a renovated 100 year old villa that used to belong to a Chinese Mayor back in the day. We had a nice table out in the garden area. Sipping champagne on this cool Shanghai evening at this place was the culmination of what Shanghai was to me. It resonated even more now upon my return from my country life. The menu was very extensive and I was spoilt for choice. I ended up having a scallop carpaccio and lobster, both divine! Everyone on my table was extremely happy with their meal. The portions are also more than decent, leaving me hardly any room for dessert. The manager that tended to us was also tip top. He was a Chinese French guy from Lyon (my mother-in-law’s hometown) who had also lived in Singapore before, perfect combination for our table! He was attentive, helpful and had this ease with customers. All in all, a splendid dinner celebration for my 37th birthday. Merci beaucoup Patricia et ma famille Francaise!
I’m finally back in Dali after an eventful summer, feeling very thankful and lucky to have been able to spend some quality time with friends and family and always amongst good food. Last Saturday was officially the end of summer here according to the lunar calendar. I’m also declaring it the end of “eating like there’s no tomorrow”. It’s back to healthy salads and soup for this farmer. Judging from the tightness of my jeans, I need to also go plough some land I reckon.