Monday, July 31, 2023

Bamboo Cotton Factory - Toilet Break for our Day Trip to Ninh Bình @ Vietnam

When we were told to disembark and appeared in front of the bus was the above factory-like building; the thought that went through my mine was whether there would be "commissioned factory shopping" that would waste our limited time for the day tour.

The stacks of name tags for each of us, used for ease of distributing commissions to the respective tour guide, were giveaways and I was resigned to spending quite a while in the building. Experience told me there's no use arguing and saving grace was that this is a just a day trip. 

Thankfully, we were not brought into those individual rooms where further "education" would be dispensed. We were told to go straight to the toilets and then just follow the route through the retail section. 

As you have probably guessed, the products sold were made of bamboo or their fibers. I am aware of the benefits of bamboo fibers; "high moisture absorption, is anti-microbial and very breathable".

Although they were quite commonly sold in Singapore; often in atrium sales, and at prices that could be cheaper than what I could find in this factory! So to me, it's just look look see see.

Frankly, I wondered if these were for free.... 

As with most rest stations, there would always be a convenience stall for you to stock up on water and snacks! For me, it's always a place for me to check out some local specialties.

Only problem for me?
No sampling :(


Thursday, July 27, 2023

Old Pasar Kopitiam - Stalls from Demolished Old Market in Kluang [Johore, Malaysia]

I can't remember which documentary I watched but its content, on stalls from an old market in Kluang that moved to a coffee shop, left such a deep impression; I had to brave the downpour to check it out when I visited in November last year, despite rain being pretty heavy! 

Plenty of seats but relatively packed. I did notice that many were requesting for takeaways since it was such a nice weather to sleep in on a weekend. 

Spiral pink staircase leading to the upper floors; when I was young, I always hoped to live in a house with stairs. Now that I am older, I am happier with single floor apartment. And no doubt safer given how accident prone I am!

One of the things I remember well from the documentary was that the coffee stall would only get the coffee powder from this Mui Tong Mui stall in the same shop; this helps maintain freshness for every cup of coffee served.

Kopi Gao Siew Dai - meaning thick coffee, less sugar; the way I like my coffee! And this didn't disappoint with a rich, aromatic flavor that was the absolute beverage to start the morning! 

Toast - from the look of it, I assumed this would be the mother of all butter-kaya toasts. I was wrong as the toasted bread had a crunchy biscuit-like texture and I very much prefer a fluffier toast with crisp edges. A pity as the kaya and butter were good.

Soft-boiled Eggs - I can't review this as these were eaten by either Jerald or my mom. I usually wouldn't have soft boiled eggs when there are plenty of other food that should be accorded priority. 

Nasi Lemak - this was Jerald's order and I took a bite; there's no meat with egg being the singular protein source. Acceptable taste but not something I would purposely go back for. 

Chee Cheong Fun - I was wondering what this was until someone ordered. Turned out to be chee cheong fun, which is something I can have as a snack rather as a main meal. Let's order one basic version.

I love such traditional chee cheong fun which was basic, with just vermicelli rolls, sauce and sesame seeds, as it reminded me of the childhood flavor. With two rolls at just RM 2.20, the rolls were smooth and sauce was viscous, warm and more savory than sweet. 

p,s, chee cheong fun means pig's intestines although the basic ingredients have no meat. Its name came about because of the shape, which did look like intestines.

Fishball Noodle - even when it wasn't raining cats and dogs, my mom would always prefer something soupy for her meal. Hence, the stall with the longest queue, selling fishball noodle, would be her preferred choice.

After an excruciating wait of 40 minutes, we managed to secure this bowl of fish ball bee hoon noodle soup at RM 6.50. Aside from fishballs, there were also tofu puffs! Worth it right?

I found the taste to be on the bland side, with flavor coming from the shallot oil but my mom enjoyed it; commenting that it had this old school nostalgic flavor. Fish balls appeared to be homemade; tinier with a rough texture, they weren't fantastic. 

Nevertheless, all we need is just a happy mom! 

Beef Soup - this was another soupy dish that my mom should like but she doesn't eat beef. This stall was said to be popular and I decided to get a bowl of beef soup, sans the noodle since I had already eaten so much starch!

At RM 15.00, this was my most expensive meal in the coffee shop! Beef, while tender, was gamey. Saving grace was the soup; herbal and a delicious stomach warmer in the cool, rainy weather. What I love most was the addition of salted vegetables; providing a crunchier texture that contrasted with the tender beef. 


With hits and misses, this was still no doubt a satisfyingly filling breakfast that didn't break a hole in my pocket. I believe the food would appeal to those looking for traditional taste, since many stalls in the coffee shop had decades of experience with some spanning a few generations! 

15, 17, Jalan Mersing, Kampung Masjid Lama, 
86000 Kluang, Johor, Malaysia

As above.

Kopi Gao Siew Dai - RM 1.80
Toast - Forgot the pricing! 
Soft-boiled Eggs - Forgot the pricing! 
Nasi Lemak - RM 3.50
Chee Cheong Fun - RM 2.20
Fishball Noodle -  RM 6.50
Beef Soup - RM 15.00
(p.s. price might have changed since my visit was in November 2022)

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Trung Nguyên Legend Cafe - Souvenirs for Home @ Hanoi in Vietnam

Before lunar new year 2023, I have only known of the Vietnamese coffee brand, G7. It's only when I went to the Great Kon's house for a gathering that he made me a cup of 3-in-1 coffee from Trung Nguyên Legend

I was so impressed; I told myself I had to get a few packs / boxes in Hanoi! And it turned out that there was in fact a Trung Nguyên Legend Cafe within walking distance from Bonsella Hotel, our choice of accommodation! 

Similar to most cafes, you can get also get coffee powder, 3-in-1 mixes at Trung Nguyên Legend Cafe! You can get them in Singapore too but prices would be about 2-3 times higher and they are not commonly found too. 

My personal recommendation would be the two types above; their special blend was strong, aromatic with a smooth sweetness that didn't have the bitterness that many coffee brands can't get away from. 

Frankly, I would have purchased more in the next few days, given how close our hotel was, but we left the cafe feeling so pissed with the service, after we decided to get drinks from the counter. 

Above summarized the key points. What we found appalling was that the staff members made no attempt to apologize, for which we would have accepted the drink, and the final straw came when this particular male staff was literally banging the utensils and crockery while washing them in the sink. 


5 P. Lý Quốc Sư, Hàng Trống, 
Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam

As above.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Ah Meng Restaurant @ Johor Bahru [Malaysia]

JB Ah Meng at Geylang is no stranger to me but imagine my surprise when I found out that there is also an Ah Meng restaurant at the Malaysian city of Johor Bahru (also known as JB). Are they related? 

It's funny how we came to patronize this restaurant that was a GRAB ride away from KSL mall. We were searching for seafood restaurants and chose this simply because review score was not too bad from over 1,000 reviewers! p.s. order from QR! 

A typical tze-char eatery with simple decoration and functional furniture. Of course the things that caught our eyes were the photographs listing the chef recommendations. Definitely adding a few to the our order.

Our decent selection; for three persons! 

Chrysanthemum with Pu Erh Tea - at that age where tea is a de-facto beverage for any Chinese restaurant. Love the fact they served the tea cups in a bowl of hot water to kill bacteria.

Wouldn't say the tea was spectacular although I do like the combination of chrysanthemum and pu erh tea; former of which added an infused floral aroma.

San Lou Bee Hoon - the reputation of the signature bee hoon from San Low Seafood Restaurant was so renowned that many tze char eateries had attempted to replicate it in their menu. JB Ah Meng did a good job and let's see if this one from Ah Meng would fare well.

I would deem this as better than the original San Low Seafood Restaurant, unless you manage to secure the one cooked by the original chef! This had wok hei without being overly burnt and overly oily. 

Qing Long Vegetables
- my first time having this unique vegetable was at JB Ah Meng and I love it enough to have it whenever I see it on the menu. Not a bad rendition; just too much beansprouts killing the refreshing flavor of the qing long choy.

Fried Baby Squid - my elder sister loves those spicy, dark and crispy baby squids; an affection lost on me despite my love for deep fried food. To be fair, the above fried baby squid would be my preferred cooking style for baby squids; without that additional layer of stickiness. 

With thin batter, they turned out to be much more enjoyable than their caramelized, sticky cousins. They might be too cloying on their own; hence, do have them with the chilli sauce! 

Oatmeal Prawns - numbering just five prawns, the saving grace was they they were really fresh and the aroma of oatmeal had infused into the prawn meat. Definitely the highlight of the meal and I was desiring for a bowl of plain rice just to mix with the cereal. Priciest dish for us though.

Yam with Steamed Pork - on my own with Alex, this would be one dish I wouldn't order knowing Alex would likely ignore after the first bite since he was no fan of yam and pork belly. But, we had the Great Kon with us at Ah Meng! 

The pork belly was tender and absolutely palatable with the savory sauce! Even the yam surprised me with its firm softness! Kon, a Hakka, was so happy with this Hakka dish that he ordered another serving for takeaway! 

Yam Paste - how to resist yam paste when it was available on the menu!? At RM 22.00 a serving, this was to be shared. Don't be deceived by the bowl; it's bigger than expected. 

To be honest, this was too watery and the pumpkins were hard, didn't taste fresh. Only thing I like was that the sweetness was rather muted; healthier in my opinion. However, more cons than pros; and I like my yam paste to have more texture.


Before and after; I bet the Kon will be back for the yam with steamed pork! I would come again to check out other signatures like preserved radish with steamed fish, king pork ribs, signature tofu and maybe their curry fish head! 

38, Jalan Sultanah Aminah, Taman Iskandar, 
80050 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

As above.

Operating Hours
As above. Closed on Tuesdays

As above.

Chrysanthemum with Pu Erh Tea - RM 12.00
San Lou Bee Hoon - RM 20.00
Qing Long Vegetables - RM 13.00
Fried Baby Squid -RM 20.00
Oatmeal Prawns - RM 38.00
Yam with Steamed Pork - RM 25.00
Yam Paste - RM 22.00
(Subject to Tax)