Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lian Bee, Jalan Cheng Lock - Hokkien Mee

Food bloggers' gathering - Part 3 of 3

A tribute to all things dark and tasty ~

......dark chocolate

..........babi pongteh


..................dinner by candlelight

......................Will Smith

.........................hokkien mee at Jalan Cheng Lock.

hokkien mee
It had to end, eventually. The floggers' final street call was at Lian Bee. This stall has succumbed to progress - it now has a retracting roof! In the old days, only a handful of tables stood in a dark alley lit by very scarce lighting; if you were lucky, you'd see little creatures flitting by, sharing the darkness with you, and you knew you were not alone.

hokkien mee hoon
Now, in the 21st century, the only thing that hasn't changed is the hokkien mee. The dark, charred noodles with pieces of pork and crunchy lard is still very popular with KL folk. Our band of 8 ordered a plate of hokkien mee, hokkien mee hoon and a large bowl of pork meat soup. Despite looking quite plain with balls of meat and vegetables, the soup was rather tasty and I'd recommend it as a complement to your plate of hokkien mee.

pork meat soup

cook at Lian Bee
Lian Bee Hokkien Mee
Lorong 1, Jalan Cheng Lock, KL.
Tel: 019-335 9203

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Meng Kee, Jalan Alor - grilled fish and sotong

Food bloggers' gathering - Part 2 of 3

You know how when you're on a blind date and you discover new things about the other person and you don't want it to end so you look for reasons to make sure the evening never ends? That must be how it was with us as we proceeded to our next stop just a few restaurants away from Wong Ah Wah. That, and the fact that we were still ravenous (translated: greedy). Sucking and licking the sauce off balitongs (whelk?) just don't cut it.

Meng Kee
Grilled fish was next on the menu, and Meng Kee grills a mean fish! Nestled among several stalls, it is easy enough to spot (and smell) this place. Be prepared for a barrage of sales talk as several waiters try to persuade you to sit at their stall, thereby securing your business. Once we sat down, several dishes were promptly ordered. I did say, after all, that we were famished.

hor chien

char koay teow
A plate of hor chien (fried oyster omelette) and two plates of char koay teow (fried flat rice noodles) were placed in front of us. Although the char koay teow had the vital ingredient, cockles, it still lacked oomph. But when you're hungry, everything is edible and delicious!

grilled fish
Shortly after that, two plates of grilled ikan pari (stingray) and a plate of chilli fried sotong (squid) arrived. The grilled fish tasted lovely, with a nice thin crisp skin and moist (!) flesh without being overdone (which can be a problem if you don't grill the fish correctly). Unfortunately, the first piece that I picked up had some slime at the bottom, which brought to mind a tale of lonely fishermen in the deep seas related by WMW just minutes before, and I held my breath for a moment before savouring the fish. Who says I don't have balls? Seriously though, the grilled fish was very tasty. Honest!

Everyone agreed that the chilli fried squid was the best dish at this stall. The spicy dish was fried with lots of thick cut onions and curry leaves and the squid was not at all rubbery.

All the above were achieved together with enigmatic discussions about personal lives and food interests under open skies dotted by fairy lights and chinese lanterns. Very much like a first date.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wong Ah Wah, Jalan Alor - grilled chicken wings

Food bloggers' gathering - Part 1 of 3

It felt like a blind date.

I was invited to join a bunch of food bloggers ("floggers") on a hawker food spree and despite being somewhat extrovertish, I was still nervous. It's difficult revealing your real life persona when you've been assuming a different name all this time. And what a name too - Lyrical Lemongrass is hardly a good description of a person, is it! But I have been sharing a little bit about myself in every post because my life is quite an open book. I'm not very different in real life; what you see is what you get.

I'm glad I did it. I got to meet boo_licious, fatboybakes, rasa malaysia and wmw (and their respective friends). So what happens when a bunch of floggers get together? You get cold food! Imagine this scenario - one plate of chicken wings arrives at the table. Immediately, 5 cameras come out. Politely, the bloggers take turns shooting the picture at the angle of their choice. Plates get turned around until the best angle is achieved. Several pictures are then taken by each blogger. By the fifth person, isn't it a wonder that the food is still hot?

chicken wings
We decided to meet at Wong Ah Wah at Jalan Alor first. Wong Ah Wah is famous for its grilled chicken wings and I'm not surprised. The chicken wings were nicely charred with a slightly sweet and salty taste that was just wonderful. Apparently, it used to taste better in the old days, but since I have no basis for comparison, I'll take what I can get.



Along with the chicken wings, we also ordered steamed lala (a type of shellfish) in chinese cooking wine, spicy balitong and a plate of stir fried vegetables. The balitong was quite a chore to eat, despite rasa malaysia's instructions of sucking the back first then sucking the flesh out through the front. I really tried, but I only succeeded in sucking all the extremely spicy sauce off the shell, and out of 6 balitongs, I only succeeded in tasting the flesh of 3. Certainly a dieter's boon.

Wong Ah Wah

Wong Ah Wah
No. 1, Jalan Alor, KL.
Tel: 603-2144 2463

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Imbi Palace Restaurant - Dim Sum

yue sang at Imbi Palace
The beauty about having a two-hour lunch on Fridays is that one can have an enjoyable lunch at nicer establishments without having to worry about being caught coming back to office late again. Yesterday afternoon, I was craving for dim sum at the Ritz Carlton and managed to convince Bouncing Barbie to join me. Unfortunately, my powers of persuasion didn't extend to the two guys, Smokin' SOB and Ecstatic Eeyore, who had just entered into some major financial commitments which collectively included some investments in the currently booming stock market, purchase of a new car (already modified to become a babe magnet), purchase of a new mobilephone to match the new car, and an impending purchase of a new digital SLR, a Canon EOS-1D Mark III, no less. With such financial constraints, we had to forego Li Yen at the Ritz Carlton.

In addition to dim sum, I had another specific craving; I wanted to eat lap mei fan (waxed meat rice). Thankfully, my darling indulgent friends conceded to my request and that is how we ended up at Imbi Palace Restaurant at the busy Jalan Imbi, KL.

We hadn't made any reservations, so we were lucky to get a table in the extremely crowded restaurant. We weren't so lucky, though, with the lap mei fan, as we were informed that it would take one hour to prepare this dish. We had the luxury of time, but not that much time (!) to wait for one dish. The waitress suggested another dish, fried glutinous rice, as a substitute for lap mei fan. I decided to be a good sport and agree to the substitute, which means that I still have cravings, even as I write this, for....sigh...lap mei fan.

yue sang at Imbi Palace
The salmon yue sang at Imbi Palace was very fresh. No, I can't get enough of this crunchy, tangy salad that is only available during the Chinese New Year period.

char siew pau
Dim sum consisted of char siu pau (steamed barbequed pork bun).....

steamed prawn dumpling
.....har gau (steamed prawn dumpling in a transluscent skin).....

siew mai
.....siew mai (steamed pork dumpling).....

fried prawn fritters in foo chuk skin
.....fried prawn fritters in beancurd skin.....

lo bak kor
.....and stir fried lo bak kor (carrot cake).

lo bak kor
I particularly enjoyed the fried prawn fritters which had a crunchy prawn and seaweed filling and a nice, crispy outer layer. The lo bak kor was also very good although the cubed carrot cake was not bitesize. I always prefer them cubed smaller so that they better absorb the flavours of the seasonings.

fried glutinous rice
The fried glutinous rice was beyond expectation. Each grain was separated and can be described as more fluffy than sticky, and there was a substantial amount of waxed meat that blended well with the glutinous rice. The shredded egg and parsley that were thrown on top are more decorative than flavour-enhancing, but the taste of the rice was just extraordinary. Needless to say, I ate quite a lot of it (not reluctantly), with thoughtful friends generously topping up my bottomless bowl of fried rice.

mango sago
There were two choices of dessert - tau foo fah (soya bean curd) and mango sago, but they had run out of tau foo fah which was our first choice, so we had to settle for mango sago. I'm glad that happened, because we move from what we're comfortable with and are forced to try something new, and sometimes we discover new things that make us wonder why we are not more adventurous. The mango sago, made of mango paste with bits of mango, strawberry and pomelo, was very refreshing. We couldn't quite agree what the floating black seeds were. They looked like poppy seeds to me, while Barbie felt they were dragonfruit seeds. Judging from the fact that no one felt high after the meal, Barbie was probably right!

Lunch was very good, but I regretted pigging out knowing that I would be meeting some food bloggers later that evening for another round of indulgence!

P.S. I forgot to say a big mmmuahhh to Ecstatic Eeyore for generously footing the bill!!!

Imbi Palace Restaurant
No. 8, Jalan Barat
Off Jalan Imbi
55100 KL
Tel: 03-2145 4822

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hung Kee, Jalan Loke Yew - Wantan Mee

When Boo_licious blogged about Hung Kee, I suddenly developed a craving for good wantan mee. Unfortunately, now is a bad time to develop cravings as it's the Chinese New Year period and not all chinese food stalls are open. It's just as well that I have an appreciation for all kinds of food, so I'll never go hungry.

So anyhow, I managed to convince my lunch kakis that Hung Kee would be open today and we should risk driving out, failing which we could always eat at one of the numerous foodstalls along Jalan Loke Yew. Surely one ought to be open at this time! Eeyore peered out of the car as I drove past on the other side of the road and ecstatically proclaimed that the restaurant was open (but I knew that already :-)). Parking was a breeze thanks to the number of people who were still on leave. Incidentally, all the shops on either side of Hung Kee were also closed for the CNY season. There was a buzz of activity at Hung Kee, though, as people stood outside waiting for empty tables. But this is normal, as I have been to Hung Kee at other times and I've always noticed a crowd.

We ordered the wantan mee with char siew (barbequed pork) and pork wantan. According to Eeyore, the noodles are not the egg variant as compared to the wantan mee at Koon Kee, Petaling Street, which he preferred. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the springy texture of the noodles and I thought the sauce that the noodles were tossed in was full of flavour and complemented the noodles marvelously. There is no need to order extra wantan as each serving came with about six pieces of wantan. The char siew is sweet and sticky and just perfect.

We also ordered an extra bowl of sui kau (dumplings) stuffed with minced pork, and a plate of siew yoke (roasted pork) which we felt didn't meet up to our standards as compared to the superb siew yoke in Pudu. Nevertheless, if you do venture out to Hung Kee, do give their wantan mee a try. It's well worth the trip.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chinese New Year Potluck Party

Great chefs ought to be celebrated, even if they are only one-dish wonders. So it was a pity, when I had the pleasure of attending a potluck party during Chinese New Year, that so many wanted to hide behind the shroud of anonymity. Fear of impending fame, perhaps? Unable to cope with orders? Just plain shy? :-) So as a sign of respect to my friends, I shall merely display the photographs without attributing the dishes to the respective chefs.

Firstly, the obligatory yue sang. I must have displayed so many pictures of yue sang on this blog, and my only defense is that I'm a big fan of yue sang despite the exorbitant prices attached to it. Nine hands pulverised the various ingredients, with possibly too much strength, as bits of crackers and vegetables flew all over the table.

And then, there was the homecooked siew yoke (roasted pork). I ought to emphasise here that everything that night was cooked by the various individuals or their family members, and I can't resist a good homecooked meal in this era of cheap takeaways and easily accessible food at every lorong and longkang. The siew yoke was a sight to behold...layers of lean meat with fat and a nice crispy skin. Needless to say, it was the first plate to be wiped clean.

The mixed vegetables (loh hon chai), made of different types of mushrooms, chinese cabbage, black fungus, lily bulbs, tung fun (glass noodles), fatt choy (dried black sea moss) and fried foo chuk (beancurd sheets), was very popular.

One of the guys brought stewed duck. According to him, he had double boiled the stew for a few hours. The meat was tender and falling off the bones.

The pie tee is something everyone looks forward to as it is different from the usual nyonya recipe. The shell was perfect; not too thick that it would be hard to bite, and not too thin that it would crumble whilst one were taking a bite. The filling was unusual. It reminded me of chicken pie as it had a creamy base with cubed chicken pieces together with mixed vegetables and ham slices in it.

There was also a baked chicken dish which I brought, but unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of it.

All of the above dishes were served with fluffy chicken rice and steamed chicken. Very healthy indeed!!

Okay...I'll be taking orders now... :-)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Woo Lan, Brickfields - my favourite dishes

In the midst of rushing for deadlines before the Chinese New Year holidays, we were still itching to have a nice lunch together with colleagues. A number of us cannot resist yue sang and if there is an opportunity to eat it everyday, I think we'd do that!

I've blogged about Woo Lan before, but I wrote about the different noodles served there. This time, we ordered dishes, and our old friend, JT, coincidentally ordered all my old favourites. I've graduated from these dishes and moved to several new ones, but like old socks, it is comforting to eat what I term "happy meals".

First up was the plate of yue sang which we promptly finished, right down to the last sesame seed. It pays to have guys in the group who are not ashamed of being seen as desperately hungry, haven't-eaten-for-one-week blokes.

In 2001, I was a big fan of fried pork belly. This simple dish is made of thinly sliced, deep fried, crispy belly stir-fried with chunks of cut onions in a slightly sweet and sticky dark sauce.

In 2004, I discovered butter squid (sotong). The sauce is very similar to butter crabs, which is a creamy milk sauce, and the squids are fried in this sauce together with a substantial amount of curry leaves. I remember in the old days, I used to finish up all the sauce as that was the best part of the dish. I even licked the curry leaves dry. :-) This dish takes a longer time to prepare, so order this only if you have time to spare.

Yau mak (romaine lettuce) was my favourite in the 90s.

The salted chicken dish was too dry; it would have been better had the sauce not leaked out of the packaging. But the flesh was tender and moist, although it was too small a portion for a table of 6.

Woo Lan (map here)
19, Jalan Scott,Brickfields, 50470 KL.
Tel: 03-2274-8368

Opening hours: 11.30am - 3.00pm & 5.30pm - 10.00pm

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Meme: 5 Things You Don't Know About Me

I've been tagged by Jason and cookies_cream, where, as the title of this post clearly states, I'm required to list out 5 things you don't know about me.

Before I start off, I must vehemently state here that I do lead a normal life outside of cyberspace.

Almost normal. Other than the 50 fish I killed, accidentally of course, in 1999. There wasn't enough oxygen in my tank. Duh... Anyway, 5 things, you say?

One. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, characterised by a compulsion to constantly straighten things. They say that in the 14th and 15th century, people who experienced this syndrome were possessed by the devil. Incidentally, in the early days of ignorance, people who were left-handed were also thought to be satanic. I guess I've been dealt a double whammy. Thanks a lot for the genes, mum and dad!! Two. I was first paid for my artwork when I was 14. I am still paid pittance for it. Three. My claim to fame was when I was in the selections for the national women's chess team and lost to the national chess champion at that time, Audrey Wong, and subsequently I went into depression and my game went downhill from then on. My only consolation is that I met a lot of cute boys in the neighbouring school who were all members of the chess club. Four. I'm a girl who loves receiving flowers but not chocolates. I still have chocolates in my fridge from 2 years ago. No, there are no worms. Five. I cry at funerals, weddings and the movies. The one time I didn't cry was when I watched The Red Kebaya. How to be moved by a Mat Salleh trying to speak malay?

Well, whaddaya know, I just listed out 5 things! Unfortunately, I can't tag anyone else coz practically everyone I know has been tagged, so let's not lose any sleep over this and have a margarita on me (send me the bill) to celebrate my first meme. Cheers!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Wishing you abundant blessings, bucketsful of love, endless plates of siew yoke and good health this New Year.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

O & S Restaurant, Paramount Garden, PJ

I come from Penang. Okay, so I spent only the first 9 years of my life there and my memories are restricted to eating flavoured toothpaste in kindergarten, playing hopscotch in primary school, eating koay teow th'ng at the market with mum, and swimming naked at the beach. But I still like to lay my claim over that island and all its wondrous food offerings.

Nowadays, I visit Penang once a year for my annual "makan" trip. The one dish I crave for constantly is the humble chee cheong fun.

You either love it or hate it. Chee cheong fun with prawn paste. Some are turned off by the strong fermented prawn smell. I, on the other hand, get delirious with pleasure.

Well, now I don't have to travel all the way to Penang to fulfill my desires. I can get penang chee cheong fun less than 20km from where I live. That's a marked improvement, I must say. I suppose there are a number of other restaurants in KL that serve this, but for now, Restaurant O & S will be a favourite. The chee cheong fun here is served with thick prawn paste and lots of fried shallots and sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Chilli is served on the side so you can control how spicy you want your meal to be.

The only problem with this restaurant is that it is so popular that finding a table at breakfast or lunch is hard work. There are a number of stalls serving a variety of food that will definitely satisfy one's appetite, even if one is turned off by penang chee cheong fun (horrors!). Pretty Pui belongs to the Penang Chee Cheong Fun Hate Club so she ordered another favourite at this restaurant, asam laksa. I tried some of her soup which, despite having huge chunks of fish in it, tasted like the turmeric had not completely dissolved in it. But I'm willing to give this stall the benefit of doubt as I've tasted better asam laksa from this stall before.

We tried the prawn noodles, but we were not impressed. The thin soup lacked flavour.

Since our orders were rather small (translated: we're gluttons), we also ordered a plate of yong tau foo to share. It wasn't too bad, but I wouldn't order it as a main course. I'd still go for the chee cheong fun! Call it an obsession!

O & S Restaurant
Paramount Garden, PJ

Monday, February 12, 2007

Woo Pin - Fish head noodles

When it comes to fish head noodles, there are two places that I'm crazy about. On one hand, I love the XO fish head noodles at Goon Wah with its unique noodles in XO soup, and on the other hand, there's the fish head noodles at Woo Pin.

I was first introduced to Woo Pin several months ago. Bizzy Bertie was witness to this happy encounter. Since then, I have eaten at Woo Pin several times, and I never get tired of it. The only thing that deters me from going there too often is the lack of sufficient parking space and the long wait for the food. On my first visit to this restaurant in Taman Danau Desa, my food took 45 minutes to arrive. Which is hard to imagine considering the fact that this restaurant serves only fish head noodles and a couple of side dishes. I suppose you can't tell a diva how to sing a high C sharp note.

My most recent visit to this restaurant was on Sunday (yesterday) for brunch after church. Feeling peckish, we ordered the fish head noodles (no, we didn't get the large bowl...still feeling the effects of the extra large plate of nasi lemak on Friday :-P ) and we shared a bowl of boiled fish paste. This bowl also fulfilled the basic requirement for greens.

And why do I like fish head noodles? Well, the obvious explanation would be that I absolutely love any kind of fish head. Where a lot of people balk at the sight of eating a fish head (and I'm thinking foreigners here) I love digging into the cheeks and around the eyes for the best part of the fish. Of course, when the fish head is fried, getting the tender bits of flesh can be an arduous task. So the second reason why I like fish head is for the flavour of the fried fish. And when one immerses the fried fish head, and body bits, into a boiling soup with pieces of tomato, ginger, cabbage, spring onions and fried shallots together with bee hoon (vermicelli) and a couple of scoops of fresh milk and a dash of wine, the result is a tangy, rich and sweet mix of flavours that makes one wonder why one doesn't do this more often...

Woo Pin fish head noodles can also be found at the Cheras flats which is the original location. However, the location at Taman Danau Desa is a lot more comfortable than the former.

Woo Pin Fish Head Noodles @ Ho A One Seafood Steamboat Restaurant (opposite S.K.Danau Perdana)
Jalan 1/109F, Taman Danau Desa
Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 7.30am - 2.30pm (closed alternate Mondays)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

San Peng - Nasi lemak

I'm always in the mood for good nasi lemak at any time of the day, although with age, I'm learning to control my consumption. If there's ever a seriously sinful meal, this is it. The basic nasi lemak consists of rice cooked with coconut milk, sambal (chilli paste), fried anchovies, fried/roasted peanuts and sliced cucumbers. Of course, Malaysians have taken the simple nasi lemak to a different level, where it is served with a variety of dishes, from fried chicken to sambal sotong (squid sambal).

The nasi lemak stall which I recently discovered when Pretty Pui, Ecstatic Eeyore and I were feeling hunger pangs at 8.00pm on a Friday night is located off Jalan San Peng in KL. These guys serve the chinese version of the nasi lemak, which is also non-halal. I wasn't quite prepared to witness the partaking of the food by the devotees that night. :-P

We arrived at the stall at about 9.20pm. The best place to park the car is along Jalan San Peng. It's just a short walk in. DO NOT drive in as you may risk getting caught in a jam, or be unlucky enough to have an inconsiderate driver block your car.

About 12 tables were set up around this stall. Upon arriving, I was surprised to see a couple of tables already occupied, but no one was eating. The nasi lemak stall was also empty. We were soon informed that the food would only be arriving at about 9.45pm. Soon after we sat down, more people congregated at this place, and soon, all the tables were occupied.

A van drove up at 9.50pm. Instinctively, people quietly got up and queued up. We did the same. With reverence, people watched as the pots of chicken curry and containers of sambal and other condiments and dishes were carried to the stall. The murmurings began as the customers inhaled the aroma of the nasi lemak ingredients and made difficult decisions on the types of dishes they would choose for themselves from the smorgasbord of colours.

The food certainly looked appetising. My eyes were drawn to the glistening lup cheong (chinese sweet sausage). A tray of fried luncheon meat stood on the same shelf. Fried kacang panjang (long beans) were sandwiched between the two trays. On the level below that was a pot of stewed pork innards. Pots of sambal sotong and sambal kerang (cockles) fought for attention. A bowl of rich, thick red sambal made with lots of onions stood at the corner. The winner of the match was undoubtedly the aromatic chicken curry with huge pieces of chicken. The proprietors of the stall had brought several huge pots of this chicken curry.

Eeyore and I felt our hearts race as we approached the stall. So many choices! We didn't know what to choose! I told myself that I would only choose two items, but in my moment of weakness, I gave in to the desires of the flesh. I ended up with a plate of rice covered with chicken curry, sambal sotong, a piece of lup cheong, half an egg, a liberal amount of peanuts and crunchy fried anchovies, cucumbers and extra sambal on the side.

Feeling only slightly guilty as I savoured the nasi lemak, I noticed there were up to 30 people in the queue. Cars came and parked haphazardly along the road as passengers quickly jumped out to ta-pau (take-away) packets of nasi lemak. The numbers dwindled at about 10.30pm, but all the tables were occupied.

Note: There is also a stall serving chee cheong fun/yong tau foo next to the nasi lemak stall. Try the version with chicken curry (same chicken curry served at the nasi lemak stall).

Nasi lemak @ San Peng
Off Jalan San Peng, opposite the San Peng flats.
Opening hours: 9.45pm - 2.30am (closed on Sundays)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Old China Cafe, Petaling Street (Part 2 of 2)

I'm a big fan of pork, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out that effective from 9 January, 2007, Old China Cafe was turning non-halal. A number of new dishes had been introduced, all of which contained pork. From babi pong teh (pork belly and pork rump stewed in brown paste sauce with shallots, garlic, mushrooms and potatoes) to sek bak (sliced stewed pork in dark sauce of aromatic spices and malay herbs) to honeyed pork ribs...all glorious sounding pork dishes. The timing is appropriate though, to welcome the Year of the Pig. (Note: Said pig may not be too excited about all the fuss about pork. Oink.)

I've always loved Portuguese Devil Curry, a wickedly hot (hence, its name) chicken curry cooked with potatoes, dried chillies, fresh chillies, mustard seeds, vinegar, mustard powder, ginger, garlic and onions. My friend, Molly, once came to my house and gave me a demonstration (how cool is that!) on how to cook this extremely spicy curry, after which we adjourned to the patio to enjoy a lovely eurasian dinner. It's been a while since I cooked it and it's been too long since I enjoyed a good devil curry. So when I saw Siew Yoke (roasted pork) Devil Curry listed on the menu, I could hear it calling out my name. Siew Yoke is quite an unusual ingredient in a devil curry, but we're progressive girls (*smile*) and we're always game to try something new. However, at RM22.80 a dish, we thought that the portion was rather small and was barely enough for the three of us. Our verdict? The distinctive taste of siew yoke was a little too powerful for the curry and didn't quite blend in. In addition, the curry wasn't spicy enough. It ought to be called Devil (L licence-paid off the instructor) Curry instead.

The other pork dish we ordered was Babi Masak Asam (pork cooked in tamarind gravy). We loved the thick, gooey gravy made of bean paste, chillies and daun limau purut (kaffir lime leaves). At RM12.80, it was definitely worth every cent.

We've narrowed down our favourite dishes at Old China Cafe to two so far. In addition to Babi Masak Asam, we also like the ayam pong teh, a slightly sweet dish of chicken and bean paste in a black sauce. We didn't order the ayam pong teh this time as we wanted to concentrate on the new dishes. We finished the meal with a serving of kangkung belacan, which despite sounding extremely ordinary, tasted extraordinary.

Bouncing Barbie and I had sago gula melaka (sago pudding with palm sugar and coconut milk) for dessert while Pretty Pui ordered the bubur pulut hitam (black glutinous rice porridge). The sago gula melaka is DIY, and we liberally loaded up on the dark syrup and coconut milk. Eat first, suffer later! Pretty Pui liked the bubur pulut hitam, but said that it was not as good as the pulut hitam which she had tried in Hong Kong several years back. I thought it lacked enough glutinous rice and santan.

While we ate, the same old chinese music was playing in the background. As always, I was transported back to the olden days in my imaginary world of babas and nyonyas, stained glass, wrapped feet and slim cigarettes.