PLACES & Food Coma with Fun Travel Tales
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PLACES & Food Coma With Fun Travel Tales
Xmas correctness is missing this December 2015 in Vistana hotel, Penang. Still the decorum of the newly upgraded Vistana suites was amplified with the Xmas menu and crowded year-end holiday makers. We are in the “Pearl of the Orient” – what’s more to write that hasn’t been made flavor of the season clichés?
Notch yourself onto the Vistana Hotel grilled chicken chop and a giant surprise springs forth to become our first food coma. The set comes with a bowl of fresh salad mix and abundant tasty fries. It’s the house specialty mushroom source that makes the set a food coma delight.
If the breakfast sausages were served in this succinct gravy as was at the Xmas breakfast buffet it’s something terse, even laconic to die for. Simple sautéed mushrooms heated up with onions in chicken stock gravy is the young chef’s signature condiment. The salad ought to be emptied onto the huge dinner plate. Enjoy the single green leaf with usual subtle bites; then the remaining bold shreds of carrot and cucumber are to be eaten with the soft brown fries – affectingly then becoming a testimony to the common fries bordering on a fine dining encounter, especially when the accompaniments covered in a thousand island dressing are whimsically swiped with the light mushroom sauce.
Trust this passed sixty years old “watcher of repose bearing” to still savor the primrose among thorns. Having Sherlock Holmes antennas to churn butter out of common cream scenarios we ignite the mundane Vistana café at the rear end of the unspectacular lobby. Are we to remain stranded as in stretched outright state and miss out on the glitter of the commonplace wonders?
There we were staring at the iconic “Line Clear Nasi Kandar” eatery along the daunting Penang Road. The queue this 25th December extended to the main road and enveloped the nearby Sam’s Batik House entrance, two shop lots away. But it’s not for us.
[PHOTO OF ABOVE SCENARIO IS DEPICTED]
There’s the hidden “nasi kandar jewel” located at Jalan Burma called NS Nasi Kandar. Sited opposite to a “seven-eleven” store at a traffic lights junction, the cafe serves the best beef culinary dish which must be savored together with soften marinated ladies fingers and triple high cooked onion omelets.
“Mixed gravy with your rice, Sir?” asks the nippy rice server. “Nope, this will do,” is our quick reply. Yes, just the thick dark beef gravy with the condiments is the “nasi kandar” to die for in Penang – pearl of the orient. Don’t even need the usual toppings of fish curry and chicken curry mixture.
[A description of extravaganza annotations accompany an upshot photo of the choice nasi kandar specialty staple and what makes it a food coma.]
. . . What’s so special about the author’s choice nasi kandar meal bundle?
. . . It is only at the NS Nasi Kandar that the food coma jumbo serving is recommended. Elsewhere the beef slices which come with the extra thick blackish gravy is more often than not – a stale carried over days fare.
. . . It’s not the case here at NS Nasi Kandar because their exquisite beef foodstuff is always sold out each day and a fresh staple satisfies the ever discerning food enthusiasts in Penang. It makes good business sense (by the way) so other nasi kandar outlets please wise up by ridding off any leftovers.
. . . Notice the plate behind the usual beef nasi kandar meal bundle has extra deep red-brownish condiments? Can’t get this every time. The condiments are extra bits of “discards of fried chicken skin” normally removed from the mouthwatering display tray of corn flour coated fried chicken pieces.
. . . For a moment the vendor was taken aback when the author asked that the otherwise bits of discard condiments be an added side order on 25th December 2015.
. . . What a tantalizing Xmas special grub it was. NS Nasi Kandar too should wise up, huh?
The irresistible deep-brownish bits of chicken discards condiments were like subtle blending of delighting salted sausages eaten together with fatty white chicken served with fragrance rice. The richly spiced deep fried chicken skin bits were slightly crunchy and when mixed nicely with the beef slices and lady fingers the handful nasi kandar portion was a steal, courtesy of the pearl of the orient inviting cuisine.
The fine art of eating the enticing nasi kandar meal was like how I would do so at the popular banana-leaf meal outlet, Kana Curry House in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Whist other patrons lavish themselves with prawns, squid eggs and whatnots I merely opt for a fried fish item to accompany the usual white rice, lightly covered with “dalcha” vegetable curry, a dash or two of their “rasam” tamarind soup to be eaten after mixing well with their “acah”, small pieces of fried bitter gourd and salted fried little chilies. It is to be consumed with bits of thin Indian crispy cracker “papadum”.
Each mouthful meal portion becomes a food coma when “papadum lentil crackers”, topped with the other condiments are thoroughly mixed with small helpings of fish with the “banana-leaf rice”. Food Coma crystallizes when each mouthful helping of a meal intake is eaten at leisurely pace and the utility satisfaction derived becomes ecstatic; one really can almost pass out from gobbling the main meal of rice with fish and devouring a little at a time the full flavor of well embedded condiments and gravies.
Back to the tourist designated Penang Road, just a stone throw away from the famous central market and bazaar area is an old Chinese coffee shop, “Ho Ping Café” managed by a retired accountant. Its signature dishes are the “siew pau” and “loh bak”.
For me it’s the chicken rice with Chinese sausages – not easily found to be paired. The salted sausages blend well with the fatty white chicken portions covered with sweetish source.
Also the same goes for me in a Chinese food shop adjacent to the Bukit Jambul complex, on the way to the Bayan Lepas airport. The best Penang “hor fun” is to be eaten there, in a very obscure café. Try finishing a light “hor fan” meal with the “tau foo fah” desert served by the street stall right in front and your day of feasting Penang hawker food will be done for the morning.
Places will not be complete with respect of Penang without mentioning whiling away the time with a good cup of coffee at an ole kopi tim next to the “Yes Hotel” at Transfer Road. The “wai dai”, a local Indian cookie sold across the road is also a must try snack, served hot and is quickly sold out as regulars tuck away their daily favorite evening staple.
In London the roof top bus ride is an endearing joy for both young and old. In Cambodia don’t miss out on the iconic toot-toot motor-taxi mode of transport. In George Town, Penang it’s the rickshaw rides around the jetty and Penang Road which visitors remember most.
[PHOTO OF A LONDON BUS RIDE & THE ICONIC CAMBODIA TUT-TUT TAXIS ARE DEPICTED ]
[PHOTO OF RICK-SHAW RIDE IN PENANG IS DEPICTED
The caption of the photos: Hats off to George Town and to the people who make it an attraction]
In Paris you have the Eiffel Tower. Sightseeing in Germany’s Munich starts with a rendezvous with Mary’s Square – the heart of Munich city. The Ruins of St. Paul is an evergreen attraction in Macau. In rustic Malacca – the third of the Straits Settlement in Malaysia, the Portuguese A’Famosa and Dutch legacy of the Red Clock Tower and Dutch Square are staple photo rendezvous spots.
[PHOTOS OF THE EIFFEL TOWER, RUINS OF ST. PAUL IN MACAU & RENDEZVOUS AT MUNICH’S MARIENPLATZ ARE DEPICTED]
[Pictures depicted are firstly a family of three taken with the iconic Eifel Tower as backdrop;
2nd showing a hugging loving couple with Macau’s St Paul’s ruins as the backdrop;
3rd presenting a handsome portrait of a handsome couple among the usual crowd in rendezvous at Munich’s Marlenplatz.]
[PHOTOS OF THE DUTCH RED TOWER AND MALACCA DUTCH SQUARE ARE DEPICTED]
[Pictures depicted of Malacca are firstly a couple with a son being shouldered by his mother taken with the landmark Dutch Square red clock tower in the backdrop;
2nd showing the same family, son posturing in his dad’s arms against a huge model sea craft of the 16th century as the backdrop in the same vicinity.]
I once penned some thoughts along a romantic tone ‘. . . the wayfarer from quaint city was indignant. . .” in allegorizing the old days of Malacca city. Now that I am more sober I wish to categorically sum up ole rustic Malacca as a place where “ikan asam pedas” is a source of intense culinary pride and the places to visit for foreign and local tourists is steeped in folklore and historical traditions.
Does not the Hang Tuah well resonate with visitors that its water is constantly clear and has never dried up? Bukit Cina or Chinese Hill is the oldest Chinese graveyard outside of China. The Chinese Cheng Hoon Teng Temple in Jonker Street was built in 1646 and is the oldest Buddhist place of worship in the country. Today both the temple and Bukit Cina is managed by the same board of trustees.
The temple, dedicated to Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy was constructed by Chan Lak Koa, son-in-law to Captain Li, Malacca’s second “Chinese kapitan” which was a mediatory position created by the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch legacy is mainly seen in the form of Christ Church and the Dutch Tower Square. Before the Dutch the Portuguese was the colonial power and its A’Famosa is a must photo stop for tourists. The Red Clock Tower and the A’Famosa gate are also the favorite trishaw pickup points.
Nonetheless Places & Food Coma is urging as in the chapter on Penang a step back to imaginative collecting of photograph snippets.
[1st Picture comes with caption “In Zurich, JoJo is seen mooing with the cattle – Farmer’s market place in 2010. How about emphatic Malacca?
2nd Picture’s caption “So this is what rustic Malacca is all about . . . Nice pic of the boys playing the part in glowing paddy field keepsake photo.
3rd Picture “Immortalize the awe of being in biting distance of the wild in Malacca’s crocodile farm]
Frolicking in the garden whilst in Macau would also mean taking a ferry ride to Hong Kong. Fancy Bogy diving or rather a soothing cocktail at Tsim Sha Tsui? Apparently in London you “aren’t seen nothing” unless you have experience the underground rails. I gotten used to it very quickly but not so for the subways of Hong Kong (circa 2010). Still, for my son the Hong Kong trip was never complete without a purchase of strawberry shaped jelly beans at the Peak and traveling up by the very efficient tram.
On one trip we caught up with a niece named May to treat her at an Indian cuisine restaurant. Later in the evening we had the good fortune to have an uncle who treated us to a lavish uptown Hong Kong Chinese dinner. Just as the time spent with Andy – the nephew in London, JoJo (my son) became enveloped with his dad’s funny side. At times it takes a third person’s company to foil the father-son usual protocols. It isn’t a sham to say that our casino excursion trips were invariably more colored with nephews and nieces in cahoots.
So who didn’t tend to be a somewhat hokey hunk who loved telling jokes? But the discordance between light hearted humor and the despondent livelihood environment such as in Phnom Penh could be very striking that one couldn’t help feel the downside of corny jokes. Still, we were all actually awkward guys who told bad jokes. At least the core of our inherent humane character did surface to help elevate family bonding during vacations.
We more often than not had Nik’s close nephews and nieces as travel companions to local and overseas holiday destinations. Pictured below are two nephews who are quite like brothers to JoJo.
[1st Picture is accompanied with the annotation “Same travel companion, now more grown up in 2008 in a Phnom Penh hair salon across a street from the Russian market. In Chapter 3 he can be seen posing at the paddy field in late 1980s Malacca with his younger brother. “
2nd Picture’s remarks: “Yes he’s the younger brother. Two of them were also at sixes and sevens as young lads in playful stance on the ancient cannon in the Chapter 1 pre-1990s Penang montage. Here he is seen in a Phnom Penh 2008 trip.]
The above depicted photos conclude our photo tips. You need to envision how the present time photographs would be enchanting when viewed in the distant future with hindsight wisdom. There is always a pleasant charm to see a series of pictures of family members in frivolous situations at various stages of youth and adulthood. Invariably there will be lovely tearful annotation or/and humorous long winded commentary filled with bonding attachment.
Extended frolicking in the garden in Macau could include day trips to Zhuhai shopping paradise in China and Shenzhen monumental tourist spots across the border from Hong Kong. There’s just too many tales to relate. We relate in Chapter 1 price haggling shopping tales and in Chapter 2 some taxi anecdotes.
What about Paris? Yes we threw caution in the wind at one casino circa 2006 near Disney’s, amongst serene surroundings and morning flea market stalls. Stayed in four different hotels, the one near the casino was indescribable cozy. We grew to love the sidewalk cafes and fruit stalls.
In Peninsula Malaysia there are destinations that are in a worrisome state of affairs. For instance regulars to Nilai Tiga bazaar stores worry that rising rents are driving out the few remaining traditional household wares cum mini-hardware stores and roadside-style eateries which survived years of slow visitor arrival only to be priced out by a proliferation of frequently-similar furniture outlets and custom curtain retailers. Souvenir centric stores, shops selling traditional pickled and dried preserved fruits, as well as cafes serving Malaysian delights of cendol, ice kacang, nyoya kueh and kacang putih have long marched into the sunset oblivion since the 2006-08 partial boom. Now there isn’t a single handicraft retailer thus the place can no longer be liken to Florida’s flea markets.
Foreigners visiting the United States will be familiar with Oldsmar Flea Market Antiques selling collectibles, crafts, produce, and furniture, new and used merchandise. Inside spaces and covered booths include food court, and stalls also selling new merchandise, clothing, sportswear, furniture, great selection of fishing and boating items. Circa 1993 we enjoyed our Florida flea market experience and the painting we bought still hangs prominently in a bedroom.
The same commercial predicament cannot be said for enterprises in Malacca’s Jonker Street. Business is thriving like those in Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur as well as Penang’s Ferringhi area. Along Jonker Street I am not reluctant to suggest that foreigners search out the Backlane Coffee – to find relief from an overdose of too similar Malaysian culinary delights to be found in Penang and Malacca.
Here’s a reproduction of my mobile phone screenshot slide which I use for WhatApps sharing with interested parties vising ole rustic Malacca.
[MOBILE PHONE SCREENSHOT WITH COMMENTS ON THE ENTICING CAFE]
The hidden eatery gems are the seventies originalities which the elders fear their youngsters are not keen to perpetuate.
You will find “mee kahwin” at one of the cart food stalls of a Chinese restaurant located at the intersection of Jalan Ujong Pasir which leads to the tourist spot of Portuguese Settlement. The finely balanced portions of noodles, “pasembur” condiments, curry with tiniest of prawns is a marriage of “mee rubus”, “curry mee” and “pasembur”. The proprietor knows even my late father and now his son greets me “Uncle” as he belongs to the rare breed, passionate to keep family recipes and business legacy going.
The stall serving chicken rice too is superb and inexpensive. Don’t miss out on the chicken liver innards. An order of steamed chicken, chicken liver and soup was placed circa December 2015 at my table. I must say the chicken rice here is delicious, especially their chili sauce. It had the perfect blend of chilies, garlic and ginger. You can choose the regular chicken or village free-range chicken. Smooth and succulent, I must say it was well worth the trip from my home near Bangi, Selangor. It still produces fragrant and slightly oily rice which is synonymous to the chicken rice that we love.
Most people are familiar with today’s chicken preparation which takes on a Cantonese cooking style, wherein certain versions the bird is dipped in ice after it is cooked to give its skin a jelly like texture. This results in more tender and juicy cuts of the chicken, which is known as bai ji or Hainanese white chicken.
The MBS casino has a restaurant at the main gaming hall, next to the counters serving MBS reward card members. It does serve the most succulent, tender white chicken. While my better half prefers the curry chicken rice, in particular the soften potatoes which come with the set I constantly circa 2015 opt for the house favorite chicken rice.
No need to travel all the way to the Lucky Plaza for JoJo’s taste buds calling now. Why? It’s because he is now of 21 years old, of age to enter the MBS casino.