Ngau Kee Beef Noodles

After the much primmed and trimmed dinner at ilLido, we're getting down and dirty with roadside noodles.

This post backdates a month plus ago, after a heavy meal of pork ribs (which I am still contemplating whether to blog or not, because pictures ain't great), a couple of colleagues, Dawson, Jo and I decided to go for a second dinner. Yea, we waste no time.

 Little did I know about this hidden gem on a side of the road, just off Jalan Bukit Bintang. So it has been said that anyone born and bred in KL would know of this roadside stall.

The place was just made up of a stall where the noodles are prepared, along with tables and chairs for the patrons. It was set up by the side of a road, and propped by an abandoned shophouse. 

 If you're easily grossed out by rats and all things that creep in the night, then you would want to give this a pass. Me, I'd try anything once. So Ngau Kee is famous for its beef noodles, but if you're in the mood for pork, no worries, they have that here as well.

 Homemade chilli of some special concoction (don't ask, and you shall not fret). Was quite spicy, that alone won me over :D

If I were to rate the food presentation, this would be like a negative 5 or something. A strand of noodle was hanging on the edge of the bowl (when one of the stall helpers plonked my noodle in front of me, the others sniggered and said my mee 'meleleh' LOL). This was the minced pork dry noodle with beef ball soup.

Pork noodles was good, simple, greasy. Can't really go wrong with street food. Beef balls was so-so lah, nothing to shout about but dipped in the special home-concocted chilli sauce, it's worth to give it a try.

Ngau Kee Beef Noodles
Tingkat Tong Shin, 
Kuala Lumpur.

A Gastronomic Adventure

If you are susceptible to scavenging hunger while viewing saliva-inducing shots, then you're in big trouble. Don't say I didn't warn ya, leave while you still can! Because I had the same problems while editing the photos and posting this T__T

After my rave reviews on ilLido, I managed to persuade TY to have dinner here on his recent trip. And most fortunately, this time around I had a higher tech black box device to capture still images hehehe. 

We arrived at 8pm and since it was a public holiday, I actually thought the place would be full, but no, only one other table was occupied.

 Service was attentive again, as usual. We were served with the fluffiest  piece of focaccia bread with oil-and-vinegar dip. We started with rose wine, which is something I tried for the first time and I love this golden pink liquid! It's very fruity and light, very pleasant to sip.

Our complimentary amuse bouche of tuna with caviar sitting on a thinly sliced zucchini. Barely a mouthful but flavours already packed a punch. Both of us were already tingling with gastronomic excitement!

Just savour your eyes on these lovely platter of appetizers! If the presentations were of any indication on the delicious factor, then this is just enough to tell me that I will be in good hands.... 

Left: Fegato d’Oca e Galantina d’Anitra - Pan Fried Goose Liver with Duck Terrine and Wild Berries - 59. Duck terrine weren't exactly my thing, but I think TY likes 'em. Oooooh the goose liver! Where do I even start! Just pure fat (and here I am consoling myself that it is not the politically incorrect foie gras) and it literally melts in your mouth, it's sinfully blissful.... It's the type of food where you close your eyes as you let your tongue absorb in all the flavours and moan in satisfaction. Score!

Right: Pan Roasted Scallops with Cannelini Beans, Carrot Jus and Bottarga  - 52. Cannelini beans for me, no matter how fancy the name may sound, tastes just like baked beans! :S But that wasn't an issue as the thick, fat scallops distracts you with its freshness ... sigh. But I still find the combination of pan roasted scallops with puréed carrot a little unsettling. Ah well.

I love dining here. The intervals between each course is comfortably long and you get to lapse into long-winded conversations at your own pace. LOL.

Anyways TY was taking shots with his bulky DSLR and this nosy patron on a neighbouring table prodded us about it. He apparently thought that we're working for a magazine or something lol.

My initial visit to ilLido, I ordered a non-Italian main course, the duck confit (because it was on the lunch set menu lol). So this time I was determined to try the pastas, which they are known for.

Left: ‘Carnaroli’ Risotto with Crayfish 59. Ehhhhh.... Crayfish was so-so but I liked how the risotto turned out. TY reckons it's a bit too salty to his liking though.

Right: Fettuccine with Roast Veal and Porcini Mushrooms 55. Generous portions of mushroom and fettucine cooked al dente! Veal was tender but I find the whole dish somewhat overwhelming, in a jelak kinda way. TY liked the fettucine over the risotto though lol.

Ahhh... desserts!

Molten Lava Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice-cream 32. Mother of all desserts! Thick, hot gooey chocolate mess flowing out of the cake. One big mouthful of the cake drenched in the chocolate sauce, along with a dollop of contrasting cold vanilla ice-cream is a surefire way to send you through the tunnel of paradise... I really should stop trying to describe this heavenly dessert T_T

 The molten lava cake is going to be a tough act to follow. TY's Crème Brule Symphony with Vanilla, Strawberry, Coffee and Pistachio 29 . As expected, it was bah after the molten lava :p But over the four flavours, I liked the vanilla one best.

 Don't even ask how much the whole meal costs. It was a record high for the both of us lol. We told ourselves it was a once-in-a-while sort to console ourselves kekeke. Oh, they have another branch in Singapore too! And I'll bet the one in Singapore is absolutely NOT pork free. Ok set :D

The Accidental Pork

Another food post coming up... So TY was in town for a few days and one of the places that I wanted to bring him for makan is the legendary-overflowing-with-awesomeness-original-mother-of-all-bak-kut-teh place in Klang. I made preparations for what I expect to be a gorging session by chopping 5 bulbs of garlic (cos Teck Teh does not provide garlic/chilli). Took me an hour to finish chopping and marinated my hands with the foulness of garlic! At midnight!

It is therefore most unfortunate that we were half an hour too late, the place was already out of BKT by 11:30am. Crap!  And I was hoping beyond hope that I will get to savour the delicious broth just one more time before I start off in the neighbouring country :( Anyhoo, Lye Siong, being the Klang-ian suggested another BKT place.

 On the verge of throwing a tantrum for not being able to feast on my favourite BKT, I grudgily stepped out of the car and took a good look at this so-called BKT place. Seems a little run-down and old-fashioned. Now that's a good sign!

 The rice served in Seng Huat BKT. Has fried onions mixed into them. Rice was a li'l wet to my liking though the fried onions certainly adds character.

 The shop is located by the KTM Komuter railway tracks. In the span of almost one-and-half-hour we were there, we only saw a couple of trains passing by. And that sums up how screwed up the Komuter is. Ah well, that issue is for another ranting day.

 Pictures obviously looted from TY's cam again. Loved the quality this baby gives!

 Okies. Verdict: I still preferred Teck Teh over Seng Huat. The broth here not as 'kau' as the one in Tech Teh. But Seng Huat is really generous with the meat portions... BUT, TT's meat is so tender they literally fall off the bones... On the plus side though, Seng Huat provides 'lor nui' (braised herbal egg), yiu char kuey, chilis, stir-fried vegetables and a multitude of other dishes that Teck Teh does not. But in a way, I suppose that is TT's charm, of providing only the very original serving of BKT.

 The garlic, and not the BKT is the main character in this post, ok? :D

The very farnee side profile :D

 We were glued to the seats until all the other chairs and tables were already kept LOL. And the workers were already cleaning the pork for their next business hours hehehe. I'll bet that if we were observant enough, we would be able to spot the taukeh throwing us dirty looks kekekeke.

 Regardless of how good or bad the food may be, you can always count on the lifeguards to polish everything clean. Bill came to about RM 13 per pax, which is really not bad considering the amount of dishes we ordered!

Okie dokies. Will come up with more food posts soon :D

First Underwater Baby Steps

I did it, finally! 

After so many years of putting it on hold, procrastinating... I finally thought, what the hell, timing was right, there was a great opportunity to slot it in. Why wait any longer?

Took the chance to obtain my Open Water diving license during the long Raya break. I'd ppk-ed, postponed and God knows what else with taking up the course hehehe. Anyways, I got on the flight up to Penang (flight was delayed close to 40 minutes or so amidst the Raya rush) and met up with TY, Dugong, Popo, Wei Kiang and Ruo-Wen.

We departed at 1am and the poor drivers, TY and Dugong who had to drive throughout the night, from Penang island, up through Kedah, around Kelantan and Terengganu, until finally, Merang. I'm not going to lie to you, but the roads through were ridiculously dangerous, windy and scary! I just closed my eyes lah... if I don't die from a crash (touch wood!), at least I don't die from a heart attack.

Amazingly, we were an hour ahead of expected arrival (6am!! Which meant we were an hour early than estimated. Which also means we were on a devil speed. Damn u TY) and since it was still so early, we parked close to the Merang jetty and tried to nap for a bit, to kill time. But dunno why got so many bloody  blood-sucking mosquitoes! Collected a number of mozzie kiss marks (those Terengganu mosquitoes are quite toxic! Got a bite that hasn't healed completely till now) so we decided to hit back the road and find something to eat. But as it was still the puasa month, we drove around before finally spotted this Chinese restaurant that's already opened.

 All photos displayed here courtesy of Popo's camera :D I had my camera with me, but as soon as we got there, my camera was mostly stashed in the bag cos I didn't have an underwater housing. Boo hoo.

Ordered Singapore style fried beehoon and also char hor fun. Food (both visually and in taste) weren't too impressive so I forgo posting shots of them. Went to the jetty and just outside of the jetty there were various souvenir stalls lining the road. Got a straw hat for only RM7!

This is the only shot you'll see of my hat..... It was a short-lived purchase unfortunately :( When we took the boat ride towards Redang island, I dozed off and a sudden strong gust of wind claimed my hat :( *grumble grumble. BUT I'd like to think that I provided a sacrifice to the Gods of Redang and hence my stay here will be blessed. Some consolation...

 Soon as we reached our Redang Bay resort, average sort of place, we stayed in a dorm (well, not exactly, more on that unfortunate story later), dropped our things and started our course!

 Our instructor, Marina (in black, waving a copy of a certain blue-coloured book) is really nice. I was quite the chicken when we first started on the Open Water course. I have this unreasonable fear that I'd panic while at a depth x underwater and that I might shoot up to the surface out of panic which can cause decompression sickness and then to be sent to the decompression chamber will cost a whopping RM10k or so. Darn it I think too much.

But Marina, she just assures me and all that and I'm really glad we had her as our instructor. She makes us feel relaxed and not all pressured up like what I heard from the others about what their instructors were like.

First time breathing underwater! No words can describe the moment. On impulse, I held my breath and got all tensed up when my head went below the water. But as soon as I sucked in a breath from the regulator, your body just relaxes :D

We took a sort of crash course. Two levels of Open Water + Advance course in four days. Typically, an Open Water course is held in the span of 4-5 days! Mad, right? But it was really exhausting. We had briefings, classroom sessions, a video session, tests, discussions, and a final exam, in addition to the many dives and practicals we have to go through!

The shower area where we wash our equipments hehehe.

Putting our gears together. So many things to learn! And so many abbreviations! BCDs, LPIs, SPGs. Yikes! And it didn't help either when Marina told us that the smallest mistake like not drying your dust cap enough could cost you RM150 :S

Us three on the Open Water course (Wei Kiang, TY and I) going on a shore dive. We first started with shore dives for our practical sessions before later upgrading to boat dives ;) I remember going on my first shore dive and the surge was pretty strong that kept pushing me back and forth lol.

 How can you not love the beach?! The other four were frolicking taking pictures while us three were on a rigid schedule T_T
Didn't take much shots... This was the only meal I took a picture of. One good thing about this resort, we were never short of food supplies! Well, only applicable during meal times. Food was not bad la really, they even serve oriental boiled soup! But after a while, it gets kinda boring because the resort recycles the menu every 2 days. So we always have BBQ dinners every alternate night lol.

Marina briefing us before going on any dive spots.

Josh, another dive master at the resort. He accompanied us on almost every dive. At first we sort of thought him as a grumpy diver who had to assist Marina, but turns out to be a nice person lol. He knows all of the Redang island dive spots by heart. The top drawn image of a dive area (inclusive of coral area, line in, ascending point, basically the whole layout!) was drawn by him, without any references :S

 Seriously, as clichéd  as it may sound, the bottom of the sea is a whole new world just waiting to be explored. Top picture is a nudibranch, a type of sea slug. They're actually really small, slightly smaller than a thumb size, but they're really adorable! They have this sort of antennaes and a tuft of tail lol. Ok I  major fail in identifying its body parts, but heck. Right shot of an eerie landscape. Those protruding things of some form of marine life. They're really slimy lol.

We completed our Open Water course within 2 and a half days and barge on to Advance -.- There was a night when we endured more than two hours of video session, and continued on with our final exam for Open Water, only to finally finish all of the above at 1am, with the not-so-assuring thought of having to get  up and ready for an 8am dive the next day... Some more hor, during our video session, the others who already had their license sneaked into our classroom, complete with beer, drinking at the back while we were grilled by Marina. Sigh.

I think this was taken on the deepest dive I've made. One of the required dives for Advance course, which was aptly called Deep Dive lol. We scuba-dived all the way to a depth of 30m! Honestly, all those depth figures are just numbers, you  don't really feel any differently at 10m or through to 30m. Since we just equalize all the way while descending, the pressure didn't bother us much. I'm really thankful that I didn't have problems with equalizing (touch wood again :p) because I've heard plenty of horror stories of divers who couldn't equalize properly but forced themselves to descend anyways with horrible outcomes. One ended with blood pouring from both ears and nose while the other almost had his eardrums explode. *shudder!

One of the cool (and sometimes frustrating) part of diving is the inability to communicate as we normally would on land. In water, we could only use hand signals, and that also after you have successfully gotten your friend's attention lol. Which could take some time, depending on your friend's attentiveness or your desperateness hehehe. You can't just blurt out, "Hey, I found a box fish!". So yea.... kinda frustrating.

Pictures look like they are all jumbled up. Truth is we went on quite a number of dives, it's almost exhausting! Record was four dives in a day. Each dive took about 40-60 minutes to complete. Doesn't sound like a lot but for some unknown reason, every time we surfaced from a dive, you just feel kinda worn out lol. Though technically it's not exactly a highly strenuous sport.

All sorts of underwater plants. Fan-shaped, flat-ish. My favourite was this that looked like Christmas trees, except they are purplish in colour. Too bad there wasn't a shot on that (never mind, more excuse for me to purchase an underwater housing and go back there to dive again yeay).

This was another shot that I liked. Taken on a Southern Tip dive for our Fish Identification dive. The current was really strong here! Even with me kicking really hard was just enough to stay stationary against the current. But there was a lot of things to see here hehehe. Tried drift diving for the first time too, effortless!

Redang Bay resort is a pretty decent place. They have an area where you can rent mahjong/gimrummy tiles and tables set up for that too! Oh, the resort is a pretty decent place until they shifted us to the staff quarters! It all started this way... somehow the staff messed up our reservation or something liddat lah. So there were 7 of us in total, of which 5 of us were supposed to stay in 2 rooms with bunk beds. But the resort was fully booked and they couldn't find extra rooms for us to stay. And thus they went and gave us  (as in TY and I) a place in the staff quarters. The room was below par, though it has an attached bathroom, but it just gives you the icky vibe. Thank goodness we didn't spend a lot of time in the room sigh. I'd say that was the only hitch in our whole trip.

Hand signal for stingray lol.

Hawksbill turtle. Just one of the many amazing things we got to see underwater!

We were so conveniently ignorant of the world news while we were on that island that a bomb could have reduced the whole of a continent into rubble and we would still be sipping cool but overpriced coconut juice by the beach. So yea, I only realized it was Merdeka Day when one of the resort divers carried the national flag underwater too!

Awww.... so patriotic ;) But I love this shot.

Taken on my first night dive. That was the day when we have four dives in a day. But I love night dives! We were only armed with our torch lights and in the dark, plus being a few metres underwater is a little nerve-wrecking. But we spotted some really cool stuff...

One of the cutest species we spotted! This is called a porcupine fish because it has spikes growing out of it. It was darn cute though! Kuai kuai swimming round and round on the same spot and let us take pictures and shine lights on it kekeke.

I'll bore you with more dive-related shots...

And then some more cutesy shots-

Aw, sho kiut.

 Last shot was of us ridiculously lugging 14kg air tanks and attempting a jump shot. I used the word 'attempt' there because I doubt we ever made it an inch above ground lol! Kenneth cheated! He just had one leg up!

And that wraps up my half-assed report on my first baby steps in diving. With just a few days, I'm hooked! Perhentian next please :)

The Georgian Adventure - Hike to Chalaadi Glacier

Our third, and last hike in Svaneti. There are so many more places to hike and explore around Georgia, it was a hard decision to premature...