Monday, September 29, 2008

Penang Floggers Gathering At Edelweiss (Georgetown)

Yes, it was great to have finally met all the other food bloggers from Penang. We recently had a floggers gathering on 26 September organised by none other than the reputable food enthusiast, Lingzie herself. Much appreciation to those who were also involved in organising and contributing to the event- Gil and Jason of Gourmet Garden, CK Lam of What2See, PenangTuaPui of PenangTuaPui and Criz Lai of Criz Food. And final thanks to Ah Shui of Ah Shui's Little Kichen for the lovely brownies.

And so the fun began 7.30pm last Saturday at Edelweiss along Armenian Street......For a full review, please check out Criz Lai's blog.

I also caught the famous Chan Lilian spotting a red t-shirt advertising her website-The Obnoxious 5xmom. Other notable floggers present were Allan Ooi, BuzzingBee, Durian Berry, Nick Chan and many more.

Deliberately blurred out shots of floggers in action. Looks like the sausages are taking all the attention from the lady. Must be one hell of a impressive sausage!

We floggers are one shy lot. We like to take pictures of food but on the other hand we are quite camera shy. Notice they always have their backs to the camera.....

Hmm. Makes me wonder if we are any different from these special ops guys (courtesy of

Or these guys. By the way, check out his piece. It makes you think twice about messing with them (courtesy of With friends like these, who needs enemies?

So...if you really want to get to know us better (up, close and personal), check out our websites regularly for posting for the 3rd floggers gathering. It's tentatively agreed to be held on 6 December somewhere.....the venue will be confirmed at a later date.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ice Kachang At Kek Seng Coffee Shop (Georgetown)

Ahh...It has been a long time since I last went back to Kek Seng. It was only this week that I decided to pay a visit to this coffee shop or kopitiam which is located along Penang road. Kek Seng is no stranger to any Penangnite as it is one of the many old kopitiams in Penang that survived through the decades. In it's heydays, Kek Seng is probably synonymous to some of the more recent local franchises like Old Town that serves good old tea and coffee and many other local delights. It has built it's reputation over the years as the place that serves the best ice kachang although the top spot has now been taken over by the stall at New World Park aka Swatow Lane. Besides the ice kachang, Kek Seng is also famous for it's laksa and koay teow th'ng.

However, it seems like fate have changed quite a lot for this coffee shop. Although it was lunch time, I was rather surprise that it was rather empty. I remember that back those days you have to queue to find a table. It is not only when I looked at the sign on the clean white tiles on the wall that I understand why business has dropped considerably. As brash as it sounds, the statement proceeds to tell all patrons to order drinks or they will be fine RM0.40! With that sort of statement, who wants to eat here? Anyway, while I was clicking away, the owner must have realised that I was a food blogger and I heard her explaining to the laksa stall owner in quite a loud manner; as if to let me hear why they had to execute such regulations. What ever it is, it doesn't justify the RM0.40 and I believe it is a big turn off to many people. As if that isn't already a big turn off but listen to this. The drinks cost a bomb! I mean RM 1.40 for teh pheng or barley pheng is daylight robbery by any standards in Penang. I also notice that the kopitiam owners also treat people quite differently - in an arrogant way and I am sure some people would have been offended. I'm sure a little PR can go a long way to help them improve their business.

While Kek Seng is famous for it's laksa and koay teow th'ng, nobody seems to be ordering any of them now. Everyone seems to be having the chicken rice including me. I guess it's probably something to do with the herd mentality or in my case, I just felt like having rice for a change. It was average by any standards.

I also ordered pohpiah and I must admit that the pohpiah stall at Kek Seng serves quite a decent pohpiah. The pohpiah skin is smooth and the fresh ingredients consisting of lettuce, sweet chinese turnips, bean spruts, garlic, crab meat, minced tow kua and dashes of thick sweet soya sauce harmonizes the flavours nicely. Additionally, the juices from the popiah are well preserved within the skin and they do not ooze out easily and make the outer skin soggy. The pie tee from the pohpiah stall is also a must try as the pie tee shell is very crispy and fresh. It cost RM 2.00 for four pieces.

Sibling rivalry in action - pohpiah and it's little brother; pie tee in action.

For the finale, I ordered the ice kachang with durian ice cream at RM3.50. It has certainly lost it's magic touch although I did enjoyed the homemade durian ice cream.

As a final say, for those of you who which to get in touch with your nostalgic feel with Kek Seng, just remember to play by their new rules. Otherwise, you will be bitterly disappointed. The address for Kek Seng is as below:

Kek Seng Coffeeshop
382-384 Penang Road
Penang, 10000
Operating hours: 11 am to 4.30pm

Monday, September 22, 2008

Homemade Butter Cake (Recipe)

Some weeks back, both my wife and I went on a baking frenzy and tried to out do each other again. While I promised her that my apple crumble would be better than anything she could dished out at me, I was actually rather worried as the ghost from the past kept haunting me. My first attempt at making apple crumble didn't go as plan and what made it so painful was that there wasn't any comments from the in-laws, uncles and aunties. I could only think that perhaps it wasn't appropriate at that time for them to spit out the crumble hence the silence. It's probably in their poor mouth all the time. Or its better not to say something than to offend someone. Even the nieces and nephews whom I equate to as the local municipal council, MPPP (they clean out anything from the fridge) didn't take the bait either. Nonetheless, after a couple more attempts, I finally got the recipe right. However this time around, I can only take solace the fact that this is probably my wife's first attempt in making butter cake.

Here are the ingredients that she used:
  • 250g butter
  • 210g castor sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tbp of vanilla essence
  • 200g of self raising flour
  • 4 tbp of fresh UHT milk

Here are the steps to follow:
  1. Grease and line a 20 cm cake tin with greased grease proof paper. Preheat oven to 170C.
  2. Mix butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs in one at a time and beat them well after each addition. Keep doing this till the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla essence.
  3. Add in the flour into the mixture and continue to fold until it mixes well with the rest. Add in milk and mix until they all combine well.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level out at all sides except a shallow well in the centre. This is to allow the cake to level up evenly during baking.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until cooked.

I took a shot at the final mixture before it was poured into the baking mold. Being up, close and personal with the mixture, this is as good as any opportunity for saboteurs to rig the recipe. I must say that did cross my mind but in light of the recent Olympic games and the spirit of fair play, the angle got the better of the devil. At least for now...

My wife got slightly irritated as I was hovering like a vulture in the kitchen. The anticipation was just killing me. Finally, the butter cake came out from the oven and filled the kichen with it's lovely buttery aroma. Damm...I must say I was envious of her.

Personally, the butter cake tasted quite nice as it had the right balance of sweetness and butter. It wasn't too dry or too soggy too either but the texture can certainly be improve. As they were warm and fresh from oven, I woofed down quite a number of pieces.

Some of the butter cakes were packed in plastic containers to be tasted by my wife's nieces and nephews whom are our official food taster. They finished the whole lot the next day ......

The final verdict.....Well, if this has been a prize competition between my wife and I, she probably won top prize for her butter cake. Having said this, I must say I deserve the fair play award if such award did exists. After all, I let fate set its own course and prevented any 'divine' intervention!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dim Sum At De Tai Tong (Georgetown)

For most Penangnites, De Tai Tong needs no introduction. Tai Tong as it is more commonly referred to, is located at 45 Cintra Street and is well known for its heavenly dim sum. It is located amid the historic and central part of Georgetown and nestles together with some of the old buildings at the end of Cintra Street.

What makes Tai Tong stands out is that is still preserves the tradition of serving dims sums through traditional push carts. Like some dim sum places within this area, it is solely operated by elderly women in their 60s and above whom had acquired the crafty skills of maneuvering the push carts in tight and difficult corners. While it's hilarious enough to see them engross in their own grand prix, it makes me wonder whether this tradition would continue once this generation passes on. The additional uniqueness that these elderly waitresses bring with them to these rustic dim sum places are they are always loud and brash which makes places like Tai Tong interesting to dine in.

Like most days, Tai Tong is always pack especially on weekends. While most patrons comes here mainly for the dim sum, it is also well known for whipping up good chinese local dishes like assorted noodles and other local delights. I have been told that the 'oh chein' or oyster omelette is good although I have yet to try it.

While the dim sum are considered good by most standards, it lacks in variety. They have the usual suspects like har gau, egg tart, char siu sow, chee cheong fun and a few other variety of dims sums. My wife nieces love the raisin and peanut cupcake while I like the char siew bun for it's softness.

If you do come here for dinner or lunch, you can also order different types of noodles besides dim sum. The sar hor fun and crispy noodles are highly recommended.

For more information about Tai Tong, please see below:
De Tai Tong
45 Cintra Street
Penang 10100
Tel: 04-263 6625

Monday, September 15, 2008

High Tea At E&O Hotel (Georgetown)

I had not been to the E&O Hotel for a long time and it was about two weeks ago that I had the wonderful opportunity to revisit this hotel. Or to be more precise, the hotel's 1885 fine dining restaurant for high tea. As one might guess, it was named base on the year of the hotel was established. Additionally,1885 proud itself as one of the few establishments in Penang that still serves "traditional English afternoon tea". Now, for most Penangnite, it's quite difficult for them to imagine what traditional English afternoon tea would be since char koay teow, curry puffs, hokkien mee, nasi lemak and many other local delights are some of the common afternoon 'snacks' over here. I was just as curious as any Penangnite and look forward to be pleasantly surprised by the nostalgic atmosphere of the E&O Hotel.

The menu for high tea comes with a selection of teas. You have the option to choose from the usual suspects like Darjeeling, English, Earl Grey, Jasmine and for those with a more adventurous palette, there is the Peppermint, Peach and many more. As conservative and traditional as I am, I ordered the English tea while the rest selected tea of their choices. Tea came in traditional teapots and it wasn't long before I quickly discovered that all the tea were brewed from tea bags and not tea leaves. This was such a disappointment as the taste was clearly different and to make matters worse, the tea was lacking in flavour and was rather mild. My belief is that the tea weren't brew as per the time stipulated in the menu hence the rather insipid taste.

The star of the high tea is of course the mouth watering sandwiches and scones that came in a two deck silver plated tray. The platter consists of various types of sandwiches ranging from chicken, beef, tuna and cucumber and assorted scones that went well with jam and butter. And as if that weren't enough, you also get a plate of assorted pastries consisting of fruit tarts, brownies, cookies and others.

For those with extra budget to spare or feel like celebrating a special occasion, the high tea at 1885 is worth a try. While it will set you back by RM 38 ++ per head, its colonial architecture, interiors and well manicured lawns will take you back in time to the days of our colonial masters and provide an excellent backdrop to any meal. If you are interested in the high tea, it's from 2.30 pm till 5 pm daily.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Classic Kopitiam Food At Old Town (E-Gate)

When I decided to write about Old Town, I wasn't sure how to go about it. It's one of those cafes that you either like it or hate it. While the Old Town brand is quite prominent now, it's humble beginnings can be traced back to the late 1950's when it first started off as a coffee shop in Ipoh. Back in those days, it specialises in white coffee and eventually came up with its own coffee and product brand. Since then, it hasn't look back and has set up numerous outlets across Malaysia.

Essentially, Old Town is a high class kopitiam that serves a selected variety of classic local food ranging from nasi lemak, curry mee, Ipoh hor fun. curry mee, javanese mee, nasi rendang and nissin noodles. They also serve different types of toasts namely kaya butter toast, french toast or toast with soft boiled eggs. The coffee and tea selection are somewhat limited to a few brand names like Old Town white coffee ice blended, Xi Mut milk tea, Old Town Hazlenut white coffee, Nan Yang Memorably and Old Town Coffee Lava.

This is the kaya and butter toast with milk toppings.

They have a limited option for the rice section, namely the nasi lemak and chicken rendang.

The noodles section far slightly better with more options like nissin noodles and what looks like spicy noodles.

To be honest, I am quite a simple guy when it comes to food. It doesn't take a lot of punching power to knock my socks off in that department. However, up to now I haven't been able to find that niche within their menu that appeals me. I guess it's just probably me. Anyway, if you want to chill out at E-gate, access free WIFI and pay a lot less for coffee than Star Bucks, then it's probably the place to be in.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Homemade Apple Crumble Recipe

One of my all time favourite dessert has to be apple crumble. I use to have them almost every alternate day when I was at campus in the UK and that is probably the only reason why I am so nuts about them now. Since settling back in Penang, I haven't come across a good diner that serves a kick ass apple crumple. There are probably some out there but unfortunately not in the sights of my radar. Perhaps I need to upgrade those radar of mine. Anyway, while waiting for the opportunity to stumble upon such places, I decided to embark on another misadventure in baking. Why not bake my own apple crumble? That was what I told my wife and she burst hysterically into laughter. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Regardless of this, I decided to pursue this matter as after all, I have my wife's nieces and nephews who are always so obliging when it comes to food.

Here are what I used for the ingredients.
  • 8 apples
  • 4 tbs of cinnamon
  • 200g of flour
  • 100g of butter
  • 150g of castor sugar
  • 50g of oats (optional)
  • water
The process to bake is quite simple. Here are steps:
  1. Dice the apples into small chucks.
  2. Place them into a pot together and add in some of the sugar, cinnamon and water. Stew them for 30 minutes or until they are soft. Remember to stir them continually to prevent them from being puree. Place them in a baking tray to cool.
  3. To make the crumble base, combine the flour, sugar, oats and butter in a bowl until the mixture has a crumbly texture.
  4. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the apples. Place the crumble in a preheated oven at 150C for 30 minutes or till brown.

The basic ingredients for the apple crumble recipe.

The apples are being stewed till they are soft but still firm. You don't want them to puree form so keep stirring.

I recommend leaving the apple crumble overnight in the fridge so that the crumble mixtures hardens. It tasted better too. And it goes nicely with vanilla ice cream.

I must have tried this recipe (which I got from the Internet) for the fourth time as the initial crumble mix wasn't right. The recommended recipe either had too much flour or too much butter so you need to play around with your formula. What I had now is just right and got the approval from the kids. That's all what matters. The hunt for a decent apple crumble is finally over.

Hong Kong Cuisine At Kim Gary (Gurney Drive)

When one thinks about Hong Kong cuisine in Malaysia, it's normally associated with Kim Gary. Kim Gary is a a chain of restaurants in Asia which positioned itself as serving Hong Kong style cuisine such as a variety of toast, noodles and other fusion food associated with that province. There is currently an outlet on the island and is located at the 3rd level of Gurney Plaza. The restaurant is constantly full throughout the day so it is quite common to see patrons queuing up. It's certainly a testament that some people find the food cheap and good.

On a personal basis, I can certainly vouch for the fact that some of the food portion is humongous. It's not uncommon to see noodles being served in over sized bowls. For instance, the nissin noodles here is probably more appropriate for 2 person. What's also famous here are the coffee and tea. The ying yong which is a blend of coffee and tea mixture is extremely popular here. The same goes for the ice milk tea.

Kim Gary also offers a variety of set meals all which could consist of a soup (usually Borsh or mushroom), main course, drink and dessert. Prices for these set meals are quite reasonable. I had the western selection some time back which consists of black pepper chicken, sausages, a perfectly fried egg and assorted vegetables. It also came with a good serving of fries.

The pork with nissin noodles is my wife's favourite dish. However, she always never manage to finish the noodles. Let's just say her loss is my gain. Additionally, the pork chop that comes with the noodles deserves to be mention as it's well marinated and very tasty.

While you can make this at home, I usually order the Korea noodles mainly because it comes with well marinated strips of pork. It goes well with the spiciness of the soup.

Kim Gary is definitely an attractive place to dine because it has got such an extensive menu. There's something for everyone and it will take quite a while for you to try out every item in their menu. Additionally, the service at the outlet at Gurney Plaza is prompt and efficient as they constantly check on your orders. As such, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why people are waiting to queue to dine at this place.

Homemade Crab Stick Maki (Recipe)

Since my wife's nieces and nephews are into Japanese food, my wife decided to make crab stick maki for them last week. We weren't sure how it would turn up but decided that since only the kids were going to eat the makis, it was worth a shot :). You don't get volunteers every day.

Here are the ingredients we used:

  • 6 cups of Japanese white rice
  • 6 crab sticks
  • 2 tbps of rice vineger
  • 2 tbps of sugar
  • 2 tbps of salt
  • 1 tbp of soy sauce
  • 6 nori or seaweed sheets
  • 1 tbs of mirin or sweet rice wine
Following this, here are the steps to prepare your maki:

  1. Place you Japanese white rice in a bowl and combine this with vinegar, sugar, salt, mirin and soy sauce. Let the rice mixture set for 10 minutes
  2. Cut off the top half of each nori sheet. Place one nori sheet down on the sushi mat covered with plastic wrap with the longer end towards you. Wet your hand and place 1/2 cup mixture over the nori, leaving a one inch border on one long end of the nori.
  3. Life the edge of the nori closest to you and fold the filling. Lift the bottom edge of the sushi map and roll towards the top edge while pressing firmly on the sushi rool. Continue rolling towards the end of the roll and continue to add pressure to seal the sushi roll.
  4. Slice off about 1/2 inch from each end of the roll and discard trimmings. Slice the roll crosswise into 5 pieces. Repeat the procedure with the rest of the nori and rice.

You can get most of your groceries from the Japanese mini market called Meijiya along Kelawei Road. I got the sushi mat, rice vinegar and mirin sauce here.

While it looks easy, it's actually a lot harder than I thought. You need to add consistent pressure so that the rice firm up and have an even shape.

The maki initially received mix response from the kids. The really hungry ones walloped a whole bunch of the makis while their smarter cousins watched and waited to see what happen. Eventually senses prevailed and they too join the foray. A delightful least for my wife.