Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sweet Thoughts in Sanlitun

I know this looks ridiculously girly but on this day, I needed a break from sub-standard coffee and makes-me-pee-green-tea.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Biáng Biáng Mian

In week 2 of my Mandarin course here at BLCU, we had a cultural lesson to explain the basics of Chinese characters. No prizes for knowing that like many other ancient scripts Chinese characters are pictograms, their current form represents what man thought the word looked like. But what on earth did the Chinese see when they came up with this character…

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Jujube a Day

I first called these small fruits "funny little Chinese apples" because that's exactly what they look like. Sweet, crunchy and available from street-side fruit trucks in Beijing these are jujubes or zao. I see carefree grannies dip into plastic bags filled with these green and brown skinned fruits, spitting out the stone oh-so elegantly into their palms whilst mid-gossip.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jian Bing (Egg-Drop Pancake)

On my morning cycle to college (there's nothing like dodging various vehicles in wild traffic to make you feel alive!), I see about 3 or 4 of these food carts on a small 2.5km stretch. They are purveyors of breakfast street food favourite jian bing, which literally translates into "egg-drop pancake".

Monday, October 10, 2011

The dish that put Peking on the map: Roast Duck

As cliche as it sounds, when in Beijing a Roast Duck has got to be done. After considering these luminary eateries known for their version (Duck de Chine, Made in China, Da Dong), I decided to go less upscale and check out Liqun Roast Duck, tucked up in the Beixiangfeng hutong.

Off the Tian'an Men drag, we ambled over loose bricks and a dusty path led by handpainted ducks on the brick wall towards the restaurant.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Feeling the heat and dancing with noodles at Haidilao hotpot

The world has fallen in love with Szechuan cuisine. At least on the London, New York and KL circuit (which is some distance) everyone's going on about the yin-yang hotpot (or steamboat as us Malaysians call it). We seem addicted to the fiery, peppery, numbing concoction which is achieved by mixing exorbitant amounts of Szechuan peppercorns (or prickly ash, according to mainland Chinese) to give us ma (numbing, tingly); and dried chillies for la (heat). Other key ingredients are fermented chilli bean paste, black beans, ginger and garlic to add different layers of spice and heat.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Qin Tang Fu: Introducing the Shaanxi Province

So here I am in Beijing. Even just after 3 weeks, it’s been one helluva ride. This city is a whirlwind of excitement and activity and I’m lured in by everything I can see. And of course, eat.

I always knew that mainland Chinese food would blow me away, though of course I was never to know the extent. Being Malaysian Chinese, I think of Chinese food staples as rice and noodles. Here in North China, they are very much a noodle and bread bunch. In literally all shapes and sizes.

Shaanxi province, west of Beijing is China’s noodle specialist. Cast away any preconceptions that noodles are long, thin strips – in Shaanxi they can be wide, flat and short, rough blobs that look like play dough or tiny cubes. And made from all types of wheat/flour/bean/legume!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Am Hungry

As of next week I'll be starting an exciting new chapter in my life: I'll be starting an immersion course to learn Mandarin at the Beijing Language Cultural University. It's something I've wanted to do for a while and have waited to do, and now that it's come round I feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety.

Why Mandarin and China? Well, it's really about time I learnt the language of my heritage and let's face it, the language of the future (and arguably even the present). Albeit issues around human rights, their aggressive position in the world economy and what it holds for the rest of the world, it's an interesting time to be in China and in Asia. I've got so much to get my head around.

Of course what I'm very much looking forward to is all the UH-MAZING food. I sincerely hope you follow me in my journey to sample the culinary treasures of the Middle Kingdom, I don't think this is going to be a boring ride! I expect to make lots of mistakes whilst grappling with the language and tackling the almighty all-Chinese menu so wish me luck!

A special note to my Malaysian friends, readers and fellow bloggers: I've had the most wonderful time hearing from you, meeting some of you and sharing in our common passion. I'll miss my comfort foods and expect to live through you during my time in China!

*Additional Note posted 1.9.2011* I understand that blogspot may be blocked in China - till I get this sorted out please don't stop following me! I'll find a way to communicate!

Image from

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rediscovering Penang Part 3: Cheong Fat Tze, Little India & Kopi Peng

As intense as the cerulean sky behind it the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion left such an impression on me from the moment I saw it. It was the house and office of a man pivotal to Penang's position as an Asian trading hub in the turn of the 19th century. Exquisitely restored, Le Maison Bleu was my favourite spot on this trip to Georgetown.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Selangorlicious Foodster Blogging Competition 2011 Results

It's been a great week in Hungry Female HQ. Back in May this year, I submitted two entries to the Selangorlicious Foodster Blogging Competition 2011, a state-wide competition sponsored by Tourism Selangor. It challenged bloggers to write and submit photos of eateries and restaurants in the state of Selangor, making the entry as interesting and fun as possible. I'm absolutely thrilled to say Hungry Female won Second Prize!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rediscovering Penang Part 2: Ten Thousand Buddhas, Lots of Chinese Cookies and One Killer Assam Laksa

When visiting Georgetown in Penang, a must-do is going up Penang Hill on the furnicular railway. You'll see the city in all its glory (provided it's not a misty day like when we went) connected to the mainland by that famous bridge, currently the fourth longest in South East Asia. If titles are what one is after, Penang sweeps the floor clean with the Kek Lok Si Temple - the largest Buddhist temple in the region.

If you take the route that the guidebooks advise (Bus 204 from Komtar Bus Station to Air Itam, for the Kek Lok Si and Penang Hill), you cannot miss the gargantuan Kuan Yin statue that dominates the skyline over Air Itam town. And that is just a prelude to the thousands of celestial beings and Buddhas all over this place of worship.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rediscovering Penang Part 1: Char Kuey Teow, Oyster Pancakes & Lor Bak on Lorong Selamat

My Dad is quintessentially Penang in his life long love for street food. Whisper "Char Kuey Toew" or "Hokkien Mee" and he is at the ready 24-7. Much to my Mum's despair in trying to manage his starch intake. Well, it's in his genetic make-up through-and-through to love these sinful things, and it's exactly where I get my hankering for them from too.

After over 10 years of not visiting Penang, I embarked on a little exploration into my Dad's birthplace with boy on tow. I was excited over the scandalous amounts of fabulous food on every corner, saddened it was run down in places and frankly quite filthy, but surprised and happy that there were more efforts to conserve its colourful history.

Doing food research for this trip was harder than usual. First of all there are endless options for any one single dish, how does one sift through to find the best? Secondly, even reputable forms of travel guides say "Char Kuey Teow on Lorong Selamat" or "Assam Laksa on Jalan Air Itam" without much more detail to what the stall looks like or even what names to look out for. So common sense, lots of guess work and growling tums are always the best guides in the end.

Day One: we decide to stroll around our hotel on Jalan Hutton to orientate ourselves. Receiving UNESCO Heritage status in 2008, Georgetown's core zone buzzed - an old town steeped in a rich history of being a key Asian entrepot. I adored the old Straits shophouses and facades, some preserved magnificently and others far more weathered.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Discovering Kolo Mee (and other delights) in Kuching - Part 2

After my first bite of Kolo Mee I was like a young vampire initiated. I had gotten a taste I couldn't shake and hungered for more. Next time around was apt after a night out on the Kuching town post friend M's wedding, at the Swee Sen Cafe over in the 10th mile.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Discovering Kolo Mee in Kuching - Part 1

Over the weekend I visited Kuching which was my first time in East Malaysia. Why had I waited so long to discover its wonderful culture and natural landscapes? And one of its foremost contributions to the mighty Malaysian food fabric: kolo mee.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Aubergine Sambal

How do I love aubergines? Let me count the ways. Grilled over the barbeque, curried, roasted till soft and caramelised like in Middle Eastern spreads, on pizza, baked in a Greek Moussaka and stir-fried in countless Asian dishes to just name, erm, a few. And the way which gets me everytime like a culinary Achilles Heel, is when aubergine is sauteed in sambal Malaysian style.

Monday, July 25, 2011


It's nearly the end of lychee season and only now I have fresh ones after like forever. I don't mean fresh ones all dainty and packaged in plastic Waitrose cartons but those out of a wobbly wooden box sold by an toothless uncle at the pasar malam (night market). You can even smell their sweet perfume before tearing open the nobbly shell that's like exotic red reptile skin. White translucent flesh wraps a shiny ebony seed and I can't help its juice dripping down my wrist, just like when I was a kid.

I eat about twenty and tell my mum I've had enough. For now.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Kitsch 'n' Korean Kitchen

After driving 3 hours in the rain and in Friday KL traffic any meal you're going to have needs to be really good. Like really-good-otherwise-I-turn-into-Wendi-Deng good. And BStation, probably the best Korean meal I've had (not having been to Korea mind you) fulfilled that need. It's ultra-kiddy and kitsch cool theme definitely added to the experience as well.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nathalie's Gourmet Studio

I finally get to dine at the restaurant from the lady who single-handedly popularised macarons in KL. Her Solaris Dutamas outfit seems to tick all the boxes: looks, charm, fancy kitchen utensils dangling from the ceiling, and a concise and appetising menu that screams elegant and contemporary French cuisine. Despite all this, I still didn't think my palate had been sufficiently seduced....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lunch Spreads: Nasi Padang at D'Cengkih

We in Malaysia love our food spreads. From the swankiest hotel buffets to the seediest road side stalls, there is always some tempting assortment of plates to put off any hopes of diet reform. Even during the office lunch hour, when time is tight, there's still a chance to have a good ol' selection of sorts. Power-eating-hours don't get better than this.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nathalie's Macarons & Mariage Freres: La France a arrivé à KL

C'est vrai! Fine French desserts have arrived in KL. Being the last person to have had Nathalie's macarons, expectations had been set high after hearing and reading so much about these pretty little things.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Petai (Stinky Bean) & Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage) Fried Rice

One of my favourite ways to cook is simply looking in the fridge, seeing what's knocking about and concocting a little treat out of unusual suspects. As simple a dish as it may seem, there is an art to making fried rice, it's one of those Asian staples that everyone has got some opinion to. This time I had two ingredients which let's say, are often known to incite foodie debate.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Last Polka Ice Cream: First Class

Tuan-tuan dan Puan-Puan, Ladies & Gentlemen. It fills me with pure joy to say that quality Malaysian-made ice cream is now widely available in the Klang Valley. My heart skipped a beat just typing that. Alright alright, I know that I'm not the first to rave on about The Last Polka who've been in business since 2009 but it is exciting how KL has received this very now food trend towards artisanal ice cream.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vishal's for Banana Leaf and a trip down memory lane

I have a real soft spot for banana leaf rice. Fluffy rice with a rainbow of curries, chutneys, fried meat and fish to choose from, all adorning a bright green banana leaf. Vishal's is famed for their version of this Southern Indian speciality and situated in Brickfields: a neighborhood in KL also known as Little India because of the high population of Indian residents and businesses. Malaysian Indians are largely from Southern India, brought by the British all that time ago to work on the rubber plantations which for a long time was a main export of Malaysia. Aside from banana leaf rice being absolutely delicious, I think my soft spot stems from having grown up around the Indian community here. My old high school is just round the corner from Vishal's and I haven't been back to these parts for ages.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Segambut: Where the streets have no name

Any resident or visitor to KL will know this isn't the best signposted city. Many locals navigate solely by landmark and not by street name, which is just as well given that sometimes there just isn't one.

For a little Selangor girl like me, Segambut is one of those suburbs that seem awfully far away. It's not really, Malaysians often have a false sense of distance because the city isn't well mapped out as mentioned above. Call me snooty but it's not somewhere one would visit out of no reason, I would need a really good one. And on this occasion I would say I was given four.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Having your cake and eating it at the Cinnamon Coffee House buffet

Ah, the Malaysian hotel buffet experience. If one has stayed at any of the leading hotels in the Klang Valley or Malaysia for this matter, you'll understand how truly diverse and almost life-changing a buffet can be.  Hotel kitchens go to town with classic selections across Malaysian and International cuisines. Some of the most elaborate are the breakfast spreads. One could go from Chinese rice congee to freshly made omelettes to a full English Breakfast in the space of a metre.

I met with 5 other Malaysian food bloggers to try out Cinnamon Coffee House's dinner buffet. Cinnamon is part of the One World Hotel, one of the more reputable hotels in Selangor. Having lived away for the best part of 13 years, I'd forgotten how overwhelming this can be.

Ain't no one going hungry in this corridor of food.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Huck's Cafe, a KL supperclub. Could we go deeper undergound?

In London, underground supperclub dining used to be a solely secretive dining experience. Amongst the longest running ones are Ms Marmite Lover, Fernandez & Leluu and the Saltoun Supper Club, who after humble beginnings are now enjoying being booked out and celeb status in foodie circles. There is now a teeming community of supperclubs across the UK's capital, many with impressive and unique menus.

This trend is also popular in the States, Australia and more recently in Hong Kong. Starting your own supperclub is simple, at least in the UK where there are no regulations to serve food in your house and invite (often) complete strangers to dine. Practically all are BYO and will suggest a minimum donation to at least cover costs. For discretion and hinted exclusivity most clubs only send out the address the day before dining and most don't disclose the menu till the night itself. The idea is to delight in the surprise and be adventurous with other like-minded foodies.

I was thrilled to find Huck's Cafe in KL, happy thinking that we had embraced clandestine dining like the rest of the world. How would a Malaysian interpret the concept and what would the menu be like? Quite different from my expectations and from what I had experienced of supperclubs as it turned out.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Truffle Macarons from Les Deux Garcons

Over the weekend, some friends turned up with a pretty green box.

'Fine French Desserts' it said underneath the words 'Les Deux Garcons'. As an adopted Londoner, Malaysia to me is still Land of Street Foods like Nasi Lemak and Char Kuey Teow. Great foods no doubt, but on the other end of the spectrum to fine french desserts. So imagine my very pleasant surprise when inside lay six perfectly formed truffle macarons.

That arresting waft of truffle always stops me dead in my tracks. I held one up to my nose and was like a sniffer dog on crack, finding crack. How a heady, savoury flavour can translate so well into a typically sweet biscuit is beyond me. What I liked the most was the cream filling being truffly enough and not overly sugary.

Like the rest of the world, KL has been hit hard by this macaron epidemic. I hear lots about Natalie's Gourmet Studio and Baby Cakes Sweet Shoppe (here's a good summary by Masak-Masak about macarons in KL), but not so much about these two gentlemen behind the green and gold box. From the little I know they operate out of Taman Desa and have an order ahead policy. Sounds like a Hungry Female inspection is in order.

I would also love to try their wasabi macarons. My mind starts dreaming up all the amazing Malaysian flavours one could put into these almond meringue wonders. Teh tarik, pandan or mangosteen perhaps? Till those come along, it's all about the truffle ones for me. Thank you K and C for introducing these to me!

Les Deux Garcons
16, Jalan 2/109E, Taman Desa, 58200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 7980 0200
Visit their Facebook Page here

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Pantai Seafood: A Shore Winner | Selangorlicious Blogging Competition Entry

My eyelids droop as I finish this write-up. Last week was a long one for work and play but I feel content and happy. One reason being my second and final entry for the Selangorlicious blogging competition at a really interesting venue with old friends. It's also been great fun reading other entries and ogling at the mouth-watering photos. It'll be another adventure in itself to try even a fraction of these places, and in the meantime fingers, toes and anything crossable crossed.

The Malay word “pantai” commonly translates into “beach”.  So with a name like that for a restaurant it’s amusing to find it nowhere near a coast but hidden in the depths of Kampung Kayu Ara. A sandy driveway leads up to the sprawling building amidst palm trees and its décor is somewhat beach-like. But walk in through the main entrance and you realize the menu really resonates with the second part of the name.

Like a walk-in aquarium, Pantai Seafood could charge an entrance fee just to let customers marvel at the incredible looking creatures in huge water tanks. I adore seafood and consider myself well-versed in most things that come from a body of water but this is something else. I mean, what on earth is a geoduck?! Objects resembling overgrown mutant tails lie flaccid on top of each other with a sign saying ‘RM 178 per kilogram’. Those better be some tasty mutants. And that is just one find in a great selection: from Australian Abalone to Canadian Oysters and everything else in between.

This style of Chinese restaurant typically allows you to take your pick of seafood and choose how you’d like it cooked. Being spoilt for choice we actually ended up with some very classic and delicious options. Marmite pai quat (spare ribs) were tender but still slightly firm and evenly glazed in that popular sweet and sticky sauce. Thai-style fried chicken were strips of chicken fillets coated in batter and fried so well it left a crunchy skin that even ­Colonel Saunders would envy. Strips of mango, shal­lots, chilli and lime zest on top gave it a distinctive Thai tang.

A symphony played on my tongue from the Kum Heong Lala (Clams with a “Golden Fragrance”). They were plump and well seasoned with dried shrimp, curry leaf and spicy sauce.

As sides, kangkung belacan (Spicy Water Spinach) and Kung Po Chicken didn’t disappoint. What did fall short of expectations was the sauce for our Butter Crabs. Butter sauce should be glossy and rich with an aromatic curry leaf element. This sauce was gloopy and unnaturally yellow. We suspect foul play! Perhaps curry powder had been used instead. A shame considering the crab meat was, otherwise, wonderfully succulent.

What did put Pantai back in pole position was a gorgeous deep fried pork knuckle. Meat fell easily away from the bone and the crispy skin was bursting with porcine goodness. Served with a lemon and white pepper sauce, it was divine. One person in our party felt it his duty to completely dissect and maul the knuckle till the joints had been wiped clean.

“Pantai” also translates into “shore”, and aside from the Butter Crab sauce hiccup this place is a shore winner. From the mesmerizing sea creatures, the prompt service and excellent cooking it’s a perfect venue for a large group of adventurous eaters. For all the above dishes and drinks, it was a well spent RM55 per head amongst seven people.

Pantai Seafood
Jalan Cempaka
Kampung Kayu Ara
47400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +603 7725 5099

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mum's Place: Selangorlicious Food Blogging Contest Entry

Just six more days to go to the closing date of the Selangorlicious Food Blogging contest! Run by Storm Studio and sponsored by Tourism Selangor and the Digi WWWow awards, it's a search to find the most interesting restaurants in Selangor, my home state. I read in awe of the other entries, there are some really fun places here. I of course had to put in my (first) entry so fingers crossed. Read about it on the Selangorlicious site or right here on Hungry Female...

Such a name inspires scenes of the home, a gracious elderly auntie at the door to welcome you, into a cosy and intimate space. The place we rocked up to was quite the opposite. Nestled in a row of shops in Damansara Perdana, the huge Malaysian flag hung outside was in vast contrast to the homey picture I’d painted in my head.

It was like eating in a massive Neo-Chinese furniture shop. Every table was sectioned from the next with heavy wooden screens, most articles still displaying their price tags. Pseudo antique signs were plastered all over the walls, with cheesy bartending messages like “10 Reasons a Beer is better than a Woman”. One section off the main dining area had what appeared to be pictures of high-standing public figures, all framed and hung up close to each other. The eclectic décor, had a kitsch-ness that seemed to grow on me.

The menu touted Portuguese-style food, which interpreted by Malaysians, couldn’t be farther from a classic bacalhao or feijoada. What we have today are the remnants of an old colonial time, when the Portuguese settled in Malaya, couldn’t find familiar ingredients, so resorted to meddling with the local offerings. I found the results resembling those of Straits Chinese more than anything else.

Perhaps the flagship dish, Portuguese Devil Chicken Curry, took influence from its Piri-Piri lineage. Properly tongue-burning, I could see some Mediterranean peaking through the juicy red peppers and chunky potato amidst paprika-tinged red sauce.

What really blew our heads off, was the Ikan Cencaru with Sambal Petai. From the peppery, bordering bitter, it was as if the fish had been cooked with nothing but crazed amounts of birds-eye chilies and five petai seeds. As the sniffles tickled my nose, I saw why the surly, nonplussed waiter had plonked down a box of tissues when we already had napkins on the table.

Fried aubergines, cut lengthways were beautifully done. Plump, sweet, caramelized pulp tore away easily from the shiny purple exterior. Stir-fried spinach, although standard fare, was still crunchy and cooked with good amounts of chopped garlic. The winning dish for me, were the otak-otak cubes. This classic fish paste is usually wrapped in small sections of banana leaves, and left on a grill to firm up. Our version had been formed into nuggets and fried, leaving a crispy skin to veil a moist curried fishy morsel that blissfully melted on the tongue. The accompanying Thai sauce – made of lime juice, sliced shallots, garlic and chili – was the perfect tangy foil.

I believe Mum’s is trying to sell some kind of domestic concept: buy the furniture, hang up lots of spooky photos of old relatives, enjoy the food and feel right at home. Not my Mum’s take on domestic bliss, but I would certainly come back for the curry, vegetables, otak-otak, and next time be tempted for a dessert.
Five dishes and two beers was circa RM120, and Mum’s Place is a halal restaurant.

Mum's Place
31-1, 33-1, 35-1 & 37-1 , Jalan PJU 8/5A
Damansara Perdana, 47820, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: +603-77278443, +603-77278449