Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Out & About: Meals In Plaza Angsana

We found ourselves in Johor Bahru a few weeks ago and of course it was par for course that we looked for the defining eats that has popularized Johor. We drove to Plaza Angsana, to the outdoor food court located next to a sizeable parking lot. Fitting that such a large lot has been made as apparently the crowds throng this place like moths to a flame.
Mad crowd all eating and enjoying their eats! Move over! Me Hungryyyy!

We even had to wait for a table to open up as there was already a crowd there demolishing their piled high plates. Thankfully, one cleared up and it was perfect for our group of 6.

We set about ordering our food from the myriad of stalls there. There was of course the all important Mee Rebus Haji Wahid (the reason we came to Angsana). 4 plates were ordered, one each for mum, sis, brother-in-law and aunt.
Mee Rebus Haji Wahid: A gorgeous plate of blanched yellow noodles bathed in a rich, thick beef and dried shrimp based gravy and topped with boiled egg, sliced green chillies, fried tofu slices and calamansi lime halves. Some prefer to spike it with white vinegar and sweet soy sauce (kicap manis Tamin usually).

My cousin and I each ordered a plateful of Rojak Mamak (or Pasembur some would call it) that was interestingly enough not made by a mamak nor was it anything like the Penang styled Pasembur.
Rojak! Fried goodies galore (all fried foods taste better what). Mini hill of fried tofu, boiled egg, fishcake, beef lights (peparu or lungs), sambal sotong, cucur udang, chinese style lucky-roll all cut up and haphazardly strewn onto julienned yam bean (sengkuang), cucumber and topped with carelessly ribboned lettuce. The sweet chilli peanut sauce is supplied on the side to dip at leisure. The gravy and the style of the fried stuff characterises the Johor variant  from the versions
found in say, Penang or KL.

Mum, thinking we hadn’t enough goodies to munch on decided she would order a bowl of Yong Tau Fu which turned out to be a malaynised version of the Chinese namesake. Oh well…
The Plaza Angsana version has a richer, but slightly coarse broth, reminiscent of a very light malay beef soup. The chinese version offers a clean tasting strained broth of anchovies and sengkuang.

And of course, the ubiquitous Otak Otak! We ordered a small basket, also to share.
Brain Brain? Where do they get these names from?
Minced fish with spices (commonly chillies, lemongrass, turmeric leaves, garlic and shallots and some may add bit of ginger or galangal to amp up the aroma) spread and sandwiched between two coconut leaf stalks before being grilled over a bed of glowing hot charcoal.

A few good slurps and chewing later, we left our battle scene like all other customers before us.
Carnage and Tragedy! What happens when a gaggle of hungry people are set upon food!

It was good fun eating in the open with family members. I guess I should drive down to Johor more often.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons...

What to do when life throws you lemons:

1) Make lemonade (the old standby),
2) Peel the lemon and wrap the rind around a cinnamon stick for a good cupboard freshener,

3) Carefully segment remainder and eat dipped in salt,

4) Squeeze juice into minor wounds to check if one is still alive after a bicycle tumble (and Scream),

5) Squeeze juice onto oysters on the half-shell to check if it is still alive (and watch oyster Screaaaam!),

5) Zest and add to your best Sugee Cake recipe,

6) Clean your toilet floors,

7) Hand them to somebody else,

8) Work into damp hair to be rid of  pesky dandruff,

9) Cut into chunks and toss into your bottle of olive oil,

10) Juice and use it to scrub limescale off stainless steel bathroom fixtures,

11) Slice open and stuff liberally with salt before bottling it for pickled lemons for Tagines,

12) Bonk your buddy's head with the excess,

13) Stud with cloves and jam in rear of roast whole chicken,

14) With salt and warm water, turn it into a sore throat gargle,

15) Donate them to your favourite charity,

16) Pile high into a large bowl to place on your dining table as decoration,

17) Combine juice with sugar and eggs and a whole lot of stirring over a stove for Lemon curd,

18) Pass some to your friends, to share,

19) Make ginger lemon syrup, yummmm,

20) Use slices in the shower as soap replacement (the acidity and astringency is great for exfoliating),

21) Make food acid clocks (you know, as rudimentary batteries),

I guess one can do quite a bit when life hands you lemons. It all takes the correct frame of mind. Now where is that bottle of lemon curd again?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Out & About: Eating Adventures

It all started with a request by mum to drive her to IJN to pick up a new batch of her medications. Rather unfortunately (or fortunate if you are one of those glass half-full types!), we were done as soon as we arrived. Man, those IJN staffers are brilliant and speedy too. And so, we did the only thing we could, rush to Taman Desa and kidnap my sister for an afternoon of culinary pursuits.

My sis suggested we hit Midvalley for a quick brekky and some gallivanting. God must have pitied our hungry selves because we quickly found a parking spot (after losing one to an arse-wipe of a woman who suddenly gunned past my car into the very slot I was driving towards). Minutes later, our hungry bellies were happily digesting the offerings we threw at it (which were - A large bowl of Yong Tau Foo for Mum and Sis, a bowl of Oyster Mee Suah for me and the stuff pictured below).
Glazed Hazelnut Danish. Sticky, Sweet and oh so good.

Chocolate Eclair isnt exactly B'fast food, but what the heck.

We window shopped and traipsed and perused. Jusco, Metro, MPH, GSC (I attempted rather unsuccessfully to get tickets to Clash of The Titans, there was boatload of people already in a queue) and even managed to squeeze in a jaunt to Ace Hardware for some good ole DIY fun (in my head of course, I am absolutely rubbish with tools).

Of course all this walking around quickly resulted in another case of the munchies. We walked over to the Gardens for lunch at Alexis. It has been yonks since I last ate at Alexis and my interest was piqued. Sis ordered the Laksa Sarawak and mum took the signature Alexis Rice Platter.

A small crowd had already formed there, suggesting this outlet is just as good as the one in Bangsar.
Monster plate of herbed plain rice with side dish of Fiddlehead Fern Kerabu, crispy Fish Crackers, Brinjals in Sweet Chilli, Beef Rendang and the oh-so-homely Ikan Jeket Sambal!
I love little touches like this - notice the Calamansi lime has No blemish whatsoever? Now that is attention to detail!
A friggin huge bowl of Laksa Sarawak. Oodles of noodles in spicy chilli seafood broth, with blanched jumbo prawns, shreds of chicken breast and fish fillets, as well as lots of cilantro and sliced chilli.
Oddly, I didn’t order anything as at the very last moment, I suddenly had the hankering for plain cold soba, which Alexis did not have (they did have a modern soba dish though, but it wasn’t my thing). Darn. Besides, my mood also had shifted due to the fact that I bought some reads from Borders upstairs and was like raring to read it.

A few chapters of my new graphic novel later, they were done and they accompanied me to Jusco's supermarket. My fickle belly was by now demanding for some sacrifice and I reckoned some sushi would be great. I bought some Salmon Handrolls and 4 sticks of Teriyaki Cuttlefish Heads. Simple, clean flavours. 

It is amazing what fresh ingredients actually taste like. Salmon is best eaten raw to sample the sweet, yielding mouthfeel and that hint of oiliness of the flesh. The Japanese are masters at interplaying the texture and the flavour of their ingredients and this humble handroll to me is the posterboy of how great their cuisine is.
Teriyaki Cuttlefish Heads! Wonderful this!
Of course a good meal is not complete without dessert! We rushed over to this Cafe called Sweet Chat (don't ask!) at the other end of Midvalley and ordered some goodies with a pot of Earl Grey to share.

Mum had this, warm Bubur Cha Cha, with a slight twist where sago pearls are pressed into a cake! The result is an additional bite to the dessert. Nice!
Tong Yuen magic. Spheres of Glutinous Rice dough stuffed with Black Sesame paste in mildly sweet almond soup

And I had the Thai dessert of Jackfruit and Water Chestnut Jewels on Shaved Ice and Coconut Milk. Yum yum yum

Looking back, we certainly feasted today, and to soothe our now overworked tummies, we skipped dinner that night. One has got to keep healthy right? Hehe!