Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mang Kiko's Lechon - Singapore

Fatty Pork to the Rescue
We were on a quest for Filipino burgers in Lau Pa Sat, a Victorian hawker built in the late 1890's. We searched and searched but the burgers didn't show themselves. Luckily, Dodo caught a whiff of the other Filipino meat: pork. This barbecued pork belly plate was sinfully good, wiping all thoughts of burgers from my mind.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wheat Baumkuchen - Singapore

Treecake from Germany via Japan
If you've not been to Germany or Japan you may not be familiar with baumkuchen, or "tree cake", so named due to its layered rings. Wheat Baumkuchen is a recently opened cafe in Toa Payoh that specializes in nothing but. I dropped in for one on my way to the nearby golf range hoping it might lengthen me a few yards.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spruce Taqueria - Singapore

Boondocko for Tacos
Some of us have rules. Some of us wouldn't try noodles in Paris or burgers in Seoul. That makes sense when you're visiting for a short time, I guess. I'm liable to try anything anywhere, not as a rule but for the lack thereof. So there we were, hailing a taxi to the boonies to test out some tacos. The taxi driver scrunched up his face more than they usually do when I gave the location. I figured he'd never heard of it until Pingles repeated exactly what I said with a Singlish lilt. "Ahhh", he confirmed: "Tangleeen Rote ah."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bill's - Sydney

Bad, Badder, Baddest?
Perhaps a blind man whose sense of smell and taste has sharpened? Or a man born with five tongues? Surely no ordinary person could coax any taste from this monotonously bland fare. I looked around, confused, at the elbow-to-elbow crowd within Bill's but never arrived at an explanation. This was the worst meal I've had in a very long time. When I bit into the flatbread it wouldn't comply, I had to twist it between my teeth until a piece eventually tore off. It was stale and lifeless - probably bland when it was fresh a few days earlier but now it had mutated into cardboard.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Janet's Pies - Sydney

Had to Do It
Akin to getting a bagel in NY or a croissant in Paris you have to get a meat pie in Australia, right? I didn't seek out the best one or get any advice, I stumbled into Janet's Pies while exploring King St in Newtown. It certainly looked the part - the chicken-mushroom combo sat majestically on the plate next to a tower of mash and a spill of peas.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hungry Jack's - Sydney

The King is Dead, Long Live the King
When Burger King tried to expand into Australia they found that the name had already been trademarked in by another restaurant. They offered their franchisee his pick of some of their other trademarked names and he chose Hungry Jack's. Rest assured, tastewise, if not namewise, this is a delicious Whopper Jr.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bambini Trust Cafe - Sydney

Hit by a Truck
Changing time zones is hard enough but going from summer to winter adds insult to injury. I hadn't anticipated this on the 7 hr flight from Singapore to Sydney, I was busy with thoughts of murder. A few rows back, a two year-old Chinese boy screeched and tugged wildly at grandma's hair without reproach - the one child policy gone awry. By the time I cleared customs and wandered into the 40 degree chill, I felt like I'd been in a car accident. Perfect time for what they in Oz call "brekkie."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Amelie Cafe - Penang, Malaysia

Cute, but not the Swiftest
It took me a while but I finally got the recycling theme at Amelie. They use recycled everything - from the jars in which they serve their lattes to the furniture and menus. We were parched from wandering around nearby Khoo Kongsi and this was a perfect place to sit back, relax and sip some cool drinks. Just don't be in a rush - if you cannot make the tenuous connection, let me help you: Amelie is a French name and France ain't synonymous with speedy service. There is one chef for fifteen people, about the maximum this tiny cafe can accomodate.

New Lane Street Vendors - Penang, Malaysia

Two for Two Heaven
Rarely does it go so perfectly. Pick out two things you love, get two perfectly lovely things delivered. So it was at the New Lane market, where we feasted on this plate of char siew pork and roasted duck. Every single bite was a fatty, smoky step towards the grave. But hey, you can't live forever.

Apom Chooi - Penang, Malaysia

Banana Pancakes - Nonya Style
I was so full but Puffin talked me into one more thing! The word apom means pancake in Malay, Chooi is the name of the vendor himself. His brother Guan works another stall only 30 feet away but apparently they're not on talking terms. Gotta love the internet - don't know if any of that is true but it makes for a good story - check out the source for this post here.

Transfer Rd Roti Canai - Penang, Malaysia

The Revered Roti Canai in this Town
I really wanted to try out Roti Canai in Penang and asked around for a good one. Every taxi driver, hotel worker and random person told me to go to Transfer Street. We went by in the evening once but it was closed and I began to worry that it wouldn't reopen until after Ramadan. I'd all but given up. Luckily, as we were flagging a cabbie this morning we happened to be standing half a block from it and it was open. As she pointed down the block, Puffin asked the cabbie "is this Transfer Street? Roti Canai?" He smiled widely. "Yes, yes, yes, the best. Take your time, I'll wait for you."

Beng Chin Garden - Penang, Malaysia

A Surprisingly Near-Perfect Coffee Shop
After touring the nearby Kek Lok Si temple we were ready to chow. We picked this coffee shop at the bottom of the hill almost at random. In these parts a "coffee shop" is a collection of street vendors selling various foodstuffs as well as coffee. We weren't expecting too much but were pleasantly surprised, especially with the Char Kway Teow, literally "wok-fried rice-cake strips." It's so-called for the flat rice noodles that are fried at a high heat with lard, soy sauce, chili, shrimp paste, tamarind juice, prawns, cockles, bean sprouts and chives. It was smoky and slightly spicy and absolutely delicious. Best meal of the day, hands down.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Juice and Antique Spot - Penang, Malaysia

What an Unexpected Combo
I don't know how it happened but I'm the anointed navigator in Penang. This means I have to consult the map and take an absolute direct route to whatever the ladies desire. If they sense the slightest double-back or circling the boos are quick to come - after all: they're Singaporean. On our way to Khoo Kongsi Temple I decided to take an unnecessary left turn for fun. The ladies were hesitant but eventually followed. While waiting for them a young man called to me from the sidewalk "would you like some fresh juice, sir?" It was so weird because he was standing outside an antique shop and it took me a few seconds to locate a small sign that read "Juice Bar."

Eastern & Oriental Hotel - Penang, Malaysia

How Do You Say "Sucked" in Malay?
These scones look great, right? They weren't and neither was anything else at the E&O high tea. It sounded like a good idea but with 20/20 hindsight it was foolish. Who travels to Penang, surrounded by some of the best street food and goes to some froofy high tea and an old, colonial hotel? (I'm raising my hand now....) Idiot!

Leong Chee Kee - Penang, Malaysia

Getting Lost for Baked Goods
I'll wander around for a long time and have Puffin ask people for directions if there is something sweet at the end of the trip. Leong Chee Kee is lauded for its coconut biscuits and we searched hard for this hard-to-find bakery. The coconut biscuit was a let-down, definitely not the best thing they make. Good thing we found something there which was way better.....

Toh Soon Cafe - Penang, Malaysia

Kickoff Breakfast in Penang, Malaysia
I'm here for a three day weekend with Puffin and some of her girlfriends and the goal, funny enough, is to eat as many different things as possible. Keeping it simple for the first meal: charcoal-cooked toast and coffee. Toh Soon is a sliver of an alley that is known for its toast and after trying it out I can see why. It was wonderful.