Aziamendi 88 @Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit:  August 24 2015

When I discovered that a 3 Michelin Star chef is opening a pop-up in Kuala Lumpur, I was very excited!  Perfect timing for a birthday celebration!  The pop-up is only in operation for 88 days. thus it’s called Aziamendi88👍.  It occupies the Mandarin Grill at the Mandarin Oriental, KL (my review of a prior visit here).

Eneko Atxa is Spain’s youngest ever 3 Michelin Star Chef and has recently been voted 19th Top Chef in the World by San Pellegrino.  Mind you, he designed the menu at the pop-up, but not the actual cook!

Well-advertised: Basque chef Eneko Atxa

Unfortunately, dinner slots on the day we wanted were booked solid, so we had lunch instead – after a lot of annoying phone calls from the restaurant to confirm our reservation, we rocked up promptly to secure our lunch at noon, to find the restaurant was not yet opened!  😁  It was also the first time I have been asked by a restaurant if I am sure about my 8-course lunch menu! Pfftt…

Whatever…Naturally, I had a high expectation of the the chef’s creativity and the MO’s service!

When we finally accessed the restaurant, we were led to a mock garden where we were served some amuse bouches before entering the main dining room.  (The jungle feel of the waiting area brought memories of  the now defunct ‘Rainforest Cafe’ in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong where we used to go very often when I was little😄).


Mock-garden:  Loved the sensory experience as well…smell of fresh of hay..😃


Mock garden

Once seated on the park bench, we were handed a 8-course Dinner Menu 😳.  Caught by surprise with the mistake, I queried the waitress, apparently the 8-course dinner menu is same as 8-course lunch – so hence recycling of the dinner menu for lunch! Join the green crusades, dudes! 🌳🌳 👏

Pre-Lunch: Picnic

Amuse Bouches, aptly called ‘Picnic‘ on the Menu was served in the Picnic Basket while we waited.  There were 3 types of amuse bouches:  Anchovy Mille Feuille, Corn Toast & Caviar and Mojito Bon Bon.  


Picnic basket

We were advised to start with the Anchovy Mille Feuille: Crisp crackers sandwiched with the briny tang of anchovy paste decorated with red local pine leaves, looking cute like little butterflies.  Then moving onto Corn Toast:  Black corn toast with caviar, fish roe and mayonnaise whipped with sea urchin.


Anchovy Mille Feuille, Corn Toast and Caviar

For the finale, the fragile Mojito Bon Bon literally pops in the mouth giving an alcoholic rush of minty-tangy enjoyment.


Mojito Bon Bon: Can’t remember the dusting on top 😟

1:  Bonsai Tree

A huge Bonsai Tree was waiting at our table, hmm… the presentation looks familiar, our minds race to Aronia Takazawa where we had the pleasure of dining in Toyko a couple of years ago. (review here)


Bonsai Tree

Hanging on the tree were 3 cherry tomatoes, one for each of us.  The firm tomatoes flooded our mouths with juicy sweet liquid flood.  It was clever to take out the inside of the cherry tomato to replace it with a mixture of tomato and fruit juices.  It was absolutely delightful!  By far, the best cherry tomato I had ever tasted! 🙌

We finished off the 1st course with brown crackers with a sweet-earthy-savoury chew akin to beef jerky – ‘wood bark chip‘.

Cherry Tomato

2:  Truffled Egg

First the egg yolk was removed.  The yolk then infused with hot truffle jus then re-injected into the original membrane, hence cooking the egg inside out.  We swooped it in one mouthful, expecting a warm burst of truffled yolky flavour, but it was cold and gamey…no hint of truffles…hmmm…


Truffled Egg

More to our expectation was the steamed milk bun served from a dimsum bamboo basket.  it was hot, fluffy and very delicious  especially with the dense and aromatic spanish olive oil.

Steamed Milk Bun

There’s wine pairing available, but we opted to choose a bottle of red instead. We were happy with our choice of  an easy to drink Tempranillo from Rueda within a reasonable price-point (RM268)


2009 Tempranillo

3:  The Garden

Edible soil has been around for a while now, so nothing new for me.  There are 2 parts to this creation: ‘Soil’ was made from dehydrated beetroots and later adorned with miniature carrot, sweet peas, tomato, cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini.  ‘Earth’ was the sweet jelly tomato-orange emulsion.  Very pretty presentation, which I ate gleefully with my spoon.


The Garden


Earth: Tomato Jelly

Paired with the soft sweet corn bread.


Corn Bread

4:  Foie Gras Ashes from the Grill

A bit of ceremony here, first I was given a wet towel, then my place was set with a black napkin.  I really loved the presentation of this course, although eating it was very messy.  The frozen foie gras paste sits on top of a toasted brioche and covered with foie gras shavings possibly mixed with ashes or squid ink (my guess 😜)  It was hard to eat because the brioche we hard and tough to chew.  In the end I had to use the towel to wipe my face and fingers – I was really messy. 😝


Foie Gras Ashes from the Grill

Pretty… the local pine flowers made the grey lump looks like a dressed-up porcupine resting on a branch!

Accompanied with Spelt Bread.


Spelt Bread

5:  Squid Noodles with its own Crunchy Juice

First came the dish with squid topped with 3 slices of pickled onions.

Then local fish roe and a croquette of squid ink and juice.


Squid ink and juice Croquettes and a teaspoonful of Local fish roe.

Then the unctuously thick broth was poured over the squid noodles.


We start with the fish roe, then move onto to squid noodles and then the croquettes.  Nice dish, but the broth was too salty for me… plus it was cold.


6:  Grilled Tuna, Fried Eggs, Marmitako and Flowers

I had no idea what ‘marmitako‘ was, so I googled – it’s basically a tuna pot or fish stew eaten by the fishermen in the Basque country.  What we had was the modified version of a thick, salty soup.


Modified Marmitako with Tuna Sashimi and Crisp

The soup was followed by the cold grilled tuna, it was tough, salty and fishy … good thing is that it sits atop the sweet pureed cauliflower… I could use that to tone down the fishy saltiness!  😜.  Although the 2 fried balls were fried egg yolks, i thought the runny centre was cauliflower pureé!   Whatever… I liked the pretty pickled flower petals!


Grilled Tuna, Fried Eggs, Marmitako and Flowers


7:  Lamb Shoulder, Pesto, Parmesan and Pine Nuts

The last savoury course was the very disappointing lamb shoulder sandwiched between 2 thin sheets of pastry with a micro salad garden on top.  The lamb shoulder was tough, raising suspicions that it was reheated from last night’s dinner.  In any regards, the liquid parmesan balls were delightful!


Lamb Shoulder, Pesto, Parmesan and Pine Nuts


8:  Dulcey Chocolate and Peanut, Salted Caramel Ice-Cream

Beautifully presented – like a Japanese art!  Basically a quenelle of salted caramel ice-cream that melts a bit too quickly and a peanut butter log coated in chocolate ganache dusted with some gold dust.   Added to the plate, some cookie crumbs for textures and chocolate and caramel sauces for decoration.


Dulcey Chocolate and Peanut, Salted Caramel Ice-Cream


Petit Fours

The petit fours came in a perspex box with 4 compartments filled with:  marshmallow sitting on a bed of sugar ( incidentally, this was my mom’s favorite), White chocolate on white cookie crumbs, Chocolate macaron on chocolate biscuit crumbs and Dark Chocolate on coco crumbs.  My favourite was the Dark chocolate praline with a sour-sweet fruity filling.  😛


Petit Fours: Marshmallow, White Chocolate, Macaron, Dark Chocolate (L to R)

The rather underwhelming 8-course food only degustation lunch was priced at RM438 (inclusive of all surcharges).  There’s also food and wine pairing at MYR698.

Assam Laksa @ JP Teres, Grand Hyatt Hotel, KLCC

Date of Visit:  November 28 2013.

What’s the 7th best food in the world?   According to a CNN Poll conducted in 2011, it was Penang Assam Laksa!  Lusciously described as  “Poached, flaked mackerel, tamarind, chili, mint, lemongrass, onion, pineapple … one of Malaysia’s most popular dishes is an addictive spicy-sour fish broth with noodles (especially great when fused with ginger), that’ll have your nose running before the spoon even hits your lips”

Wow!  Assam Laksa even beat the world famous Thai spicy soup King –Tom Yum Goog – which came in at the 8th spot.

Admittedly, this is my first time eating a bowl of Assam Laksa, a basic street food in Malaysia of Peranakan origin – and the irony is that I am eating it in the up-market air-conditioned comfort of a 5-star hotel.  Nonetheless, with a tissue  in  hand, ready to wipe my runny nose,  let’s dig in!  


Assam Laksa

My assam laksa arrived with fresh red chili peppers and a calamansi on top of the noodles.  Other toppings on the soup included the obligatory cilantro, shallots, fresh ginger, cucumbers and a  sliced hard-boiled egg.

Assam laksa is a chowder made from shredded mackerel in a lemongrass-infused broth thickened with tamarind and served with thick rice vermicelli noodles. The key ingredient of the soup is tamarind (or assam in Malay) which is used generously in the soup base.  Garlic, onion, ginger, pineapple and fish paste or belacan are also used in the broth as garnishes.


Assam Laksa

The shredded mackerel was evident floating on top of the noodles as a mass of thick brown mass.  I mixed everything up in the bowl and after tasting the broth, which has a complex taste of a mixture of sour-citrusy-fishy, I added a squeeze of the calamansi and extra  fresh chillis, simply because I love my hot and spicy amped up with a bite!  The noodles itself, were very chewy – like udon noodles.

It was overall a very stout bowl of assam laksa.  The broth was as good as I have had, and well worth returning to – and I am definitely a return customer, my previous visit sampling other local fares here – another strong point about this broth is that it is NOT EVEN OILY!   😚

Ah yes, the tissue did come in handy!

Indigenous Sarawak River Fish: Tengadak @ New Capital Restaurant, Sibu, Malaysia

M.I.A?  ME??  NOooo…!!

I had my knickers in knots trying to self-host my blog.  I got sold on the idea that one shouldn’t live in a rental when one can afford to move out to one’s own house, but the ‘deal’ went pear-shaped ‘cos I’m not the most literate when it comes to computer. Sure, I can pay USD100 for the ‘happiness engineer’ to spare me the misery, but surely that defeats the purpose of having a paideutics hobby, right?  Me, being a practical miser that I am, thought that I can somehow be my own happiness engineer with the assistance of  the free youtubes and literatures abound on the web! How wrong I was – it was an exercise in futility and so I cancelled my BlueHost and ditched the idea of redesigning my webpage.  Lesson learnt:  Computer stuffs should be best left to professionals.

The past couple of weeks  have been excruciatingly hot – so hot that my tummy bloats up  to the size of  a water-melon and have me belching!  I’m guessing the heat and too much natural fermentation in my tummy from my daily diet of cabbages and brocollis is making me Miss Farty-pants, so I went in search for a simple home-styled lunch.

New Capital Restaurant is my go-to restaurant in SiBoo Town for yummy-licious Cantonese-Sarawakian cuisine.  There are only 2 restaurants worth going to in Boo Town and I am so surprised -shocked – that they are not even listed on TripAdvisor!  (The other restaurant is here)

So when the proprietress recommended tengadak – a fresh river fish, I was thrilled.  Fresh river fishes are notable produces from Sarawak.  Unfortunately, over-fishing and pollution means tengaraks are fast becoming scarce.  Furthermore, with the development of the highly controversial Bakun Hydroelectric Dam – the second tallest concrete-faced rockfill dam in the world for a population of 2.4M people in Sarawak – their natural habitat in the rapids and rocky areas are also under threat.

Here is a quick snap of my tengadak fish.  It has been steamed first then ladled over with sizzling hot oil and light soy sauce to enrich its delicate flavour.


Steamed Tengadak in light soy sauce

Tengadaks are bony fish due to its small size but very delicious – just be mindful of the tiny ‘Y-shaped’ bones.  Their flesh are naturally sweet and flaky as they feed on natural organic staples such as insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, flowers and fruits that are caught in the turbulent water.

Tengadaks are indigenous fish to Sarawak.   They are a slow-growing species that take at least 5 years to mature up to 800g in weight. The biggest tengadak caught was only around 2kg.  Most line-caught ones from the river are around 300-500g.  Attempts have been made to farm the tengadaks, but farmed fishes taste ‘muddy’, and do not even come close to those living in the wild.


Who hit the jack-pot?!
Source: Reflections from Sarawak’s Rivers – coffee table book but forgot to take the name of the author.. 😦

Let’s cut to the chase – care to take a guess at how much my  little 400g fish costs?

Well, the fish did pushed the envelope of my lunch budget at RM400.  Still, when compared to the ‘King’ of fresh river fish in Sarawak – Empurau – aka the most expensive fish in Malaysia – tengadak is ‘cheap’.   The nickname for empurau is ‘unforgetable’ and at RM6,000 for a fish, this nickname  is very appropriate!  Check out the article here


RM6,000 for an empurau fresh river fish (wholesale price)
Source: Borneo Post

‘Side-kicks’ to my lunch were:


Native Sarawakian fern: Stir-fried ‘Midin’




All-time favourite: Deep-fried sweet and sour pork


Double-boiled Chicken soup with Chinese water-cress

Do check out New Capital Restaurant for authentic Cantonese-Sarawakian dishes, if you are lucky, they may have exotic games on their menu!


Address on pink paper serviette

Ending A Fine Chinese Dinner With Canned Longans Anyone? @ Toh Yuen, Hilton Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Visit:  September 18 2013

Toh Yuen is the in-house Chinese restaurant in Hilton Kuching.  I am guessing this restaurant is very popular with the business set (expensive) and had won quite a few tourism awards judging from the certificate it displayed very prominently on table at the entrance foyer.


Toh Yuen’s Signage


Entrance: Wall paper in Chinese calligaphy and little Chinese figurines flanking an tourism award certificate

Not a fan of dark dimly-lit restaurants, I worried that I might trip over uneven carpeting (again) – as I am still nursing my cut knee and ‘bruised wound’ of my ripped 3.1 Phillip Lim sandals that I’ve only worn for under 5 minutes  from the fall I suffered the other day (wounding more for sandals though).  Squinting my eyes to evaluate the interior design of the restaurant, I see red fabrics busily draped from the ceiling to the walls.    Some may call it ‘Chinoiserie-chic‘, but for the more imaginative – imagine a fabric-dye factory straight out a scene in a Chinese kung-fu movie where a swordsman come flying out from nowhere.   To further enhance the Chinoiserie-chic experience, lanterns with tassles and calligraphy-patterned wall-covering are used.


Interior of main restaurant

Thank goodness we had a private room for dinner.   A brightly-lit festive room with a huge table with lazy-suzy, underneath a huge red lantern and calligraphy-patterned wall-covering for uniformity with the rest of the restaurant.  Even the red napkins and place setting evokes festivity in the room.  I instantly perked up.

On the table are the usual condiments of freshly chopped garlic and assorted chopped chili- red chili,  vinegared green chili, chili-padis.  We are also given sweet cooked soy sauce peanuts to snack on while waiting for the others to arrive.


Place setting

First up, a Combination Platter of jellyfish, ham, rolled squid in beancurd skin, a salad of seafood mixed with melon topped with mayonnaise.  I am allergic to shell-fish so did not try the salad, not a big deal for me since I don’t like mayonnaise.  The things that I enjoyed most in the platter are the crunchy jellyfish and fresh cucumbers.


Combination Platter


Close-up of a few pickings from the assorted Combination Platter

We also had Chicken Soup with a few tough chicken pieces, red dates, fungus and ginseng.  It came piping hot and very tasty.   Something is telling me that this dinner is going to be very healthy… so let’s wait out!


Chicken Soup

Steamed Cod in light soy sauce came next.  Our host asked whether we want rice to accompany our dinner.  None of us wanted any, and it seems that everyone is on a low-carb diet nowadays!  (Even older gentlemen! 😈 )


Steamed Cod in light soy sauce

We also had Asparagus with whole garlics and fish jerky, which continued the health-vibe of our dinner.


Asparagus with whole garlics and fish jerky.

Unfortunately for me, I could not try the Signature Buttermilk Prawns.  These are prawn balls deep-fried in buttermilk and very delicious I was told.  I did take a bite of the deep-fried basket the prawn balls came in to taste, let’s just say it’s for decoration.


Buttermilk Prawns

Since dinner started late, at 8pm, we were very relieved when the dessert arrived.  Wait for it – Canned Longans in syrup added with coconut strips and fungus!  I find it very puzzling for a fine dining restaurant to be serving canned fruits.  Then again, I presume canned longans and canned lychees are made very popular  in Malaysia where the climate here is not inclined to producing these exotic fruits.


Canned Longan

We also picked up a Hilton Kuching Red Bean Mooncake (RM24++).   A pretty pair of gold-fish embossed on salty baked skin infilled with sweet red bean paste and melon seeds.  It was ‘moreish’ – well, we were at Kuching airport, the Starbucks there didn’t cut it and we were hungry…


Hilton Kuching Moon cake


X-section: Hilton Kuching Moon cake

Meeting (or Rather ‘Staking Out’) The King and Queen of Malaysia @ Hilton Kuching, Malaysia

Date: September 17 2013

I spy, I spy with my little beady eyes (actually my eyes ain’t too small, only saying for dramatics), from the corners of my eyes I saw police outriders in their monstrous vintage motorcycles with sirens blaring, followed by a Silver Maybach coming to a halt in front of my hotel… and who’d pop out, but Their Majesties, The King of Malaysia and his Queen!

So thus began my 2 hours of stake-out on Their Majesties the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Raja Permaisuri Agong of Malaysia, at Caffe Cino on the ground floor of Hilton Kuching (err, yes… I’m on a work meeting, but the next one doesn’t start until late so…) To while the time away, I had Iced Blended Coffee (Viennese, I believe with the generous serve of whipped cream on top), without sugar, which costed me an arm-and-a-leg at RM15++. Considering I just had lunch here for only RM17 . Nice Illy coffee by the way, a bit weak but no complaints.


Iced Blended Coffee

I saw the famous white-haired guy with white whiskers and his young chesty wife (who gave me a little wave – thrilled 😄 ). They don’t need any introduction, so me no takey pictures.

And also this couple, Yang di-Pertua Negari Sarawak (TYT) and his wife. TYT is the Governor of Sarawak, appointed by The King.


TYT and Wife

But I really wanted to snap a picture of Their Majesties. I checked with securities if I can take pictures of Their Majesties. The securities gave me some ‘do and don’ts’, then told me to stand at the bend of the red carpet, for the perfect ‘direct line view’ of Their Majesties as they emerge from the lift! After hanging around for 2 hours, I finally captured my Lumix moment!


Their Majesties (in the middle) flanked by TY and his Wife

They were a lovely down-to-earth couples who shook hands with everyone! All you do is line on the the right if you want to shake hands with them or line up to the left if you want to take pictures of them! I chose to take pictures as momentos for my blog.

Since I am staying at Hilton Kuching, I might give a little run-down about the hotel. I got a room with river view


Sarawak River

The rooms were a bit tired: Nice hard bed, not lumpy, I slept well. Air conditioning worked. Desk was spacious to scatter all my docs. Mini bar was empty. Tea, coffee and 2 bottles of waters provided. No slippers in room. No turndown service. Bathrooms old and needed refurb. No free wifi, broadband internet access costs RM35++ per day, very expensive (Digi Global Roaming is only RM33++!!) House-keeping have to keep up with vacuuming, I spotted a used candy wrapper on the floor.


Twin Beds, brown colour scheme – macho-honcho


Concentrate on your work, mama says ‘No TV watching while working!”

Nothing for the commoner to harp home about, still if The Majesties dropped by, that’s a implied royal seal of approval, right? 😈

Dining Kelabit, But Mind The Carbon Footprints @ Tribal Stove, Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Visit: September 17 2013

The Kelabit tribe is the smallest ethnic group in Borneo Sarawak with a population of only 6,600. They live in the remote highlands, only reachable Indiana Jones-style through a few hardy days of gruelling jungle treks or via a jolly ride on a Twin-engine Otter plane. Remote and inaccessible as they are, this tribe is the cultivator of the world famous Barrio Ricedon’t embarrass yourself by calling yourself a foodie, if you have never heard of Bario Rice – this special rice has been registered as a product of Geographical Indication (GI) with the Malaysian Intellectual Property Organization (MyIPO).

This is my second trip to Kuching in less than a week and I was put up at Hilton Hotel which is conveniently located opposite Tribal Stove. Thrilled to see a sign saying ‘Serving Kelabit Highland Cuisine‘, I headed straight into the restaurant for a quick lunch. My initial thought was: “What? Another indigenous restaurant capitalising on the name ‘tribal’?”. If you have been reading my posts, I have eaten at 2 indigenous/ tribal restaurants (here and here) in my last trip and whilst I’ve enjoyed the cuisines, I couldn’t help but think that these has been modified to suit the city folks.

The restaurant is bright and cheerful, but more importantly air-conditioned and equipped with wifi. Adorned with black and white photocopied photographs depicting the traditional Kelabits’ way of life and decorated with handicrafts, I am finding myself to be quickly immersed in their culture. The recycled salvaged metal chairs, galvanised tables, old overhead lights , give a rusticated eclectic edge to the scene, practically hitting all the right chords for the Inner City set (that is, if you are from the Sydney’s Surry Hills set or somewhere where SOHO, NOHO are fashionable areas etc).


Interior of Restaurant


Interior of Restaurant

While listening to the soothing enchanting ethnic music, I checked out the interesting wall decorations – a tinge of tropical jungle vibe, perhaps?


Carved woodwork


Beaded Farm Hat


Painting depicting Kelabit traditions which are for sale


Wooden sculpture

Since the 3 of us are Kelabit cuisine virgins, rather than navigating the menu and interrogating the waitress with questions, we decided to order a set lunch each, setting ourselves up for surprises. Each set lunch comes with a choice of main, soup of the day, barrio white rice or nubaq layaq, 2 types of organic wild vegetables and a drink.


Tribal set Lunch Menu

Apparently all the vegetables are flown in from the Bario-Bakelan Highlands. If you are a Greenie, you’d be dismayed at the carbon footprint each catty of vegs produced but then again, this is only collateral damage for the ‘environmental destruction’ that pave way for development, meaning trees have to be cut down to build roads, thus ‘illegal’ loggings, etc. There are 2 sides to a coin, so just let’s stick with the idea of isolating the Kelabits as martyrs for the good of the environment. Do not pull me into the debate, I am only a gluttonous foodie.


Iced Lemon + Lemongrass Water

And for once, as a foodie, I am experiencing what is meant by ‘food truly offers an interesting insight to the various culture’.

I had Labo Senutuq (Shredded Beef or Serunding Style Beef) RM17 as my set lunch. I looked on with awe at the warm package wrapped in Daun Isip (a large green leaf) arrived. Oh, it was Nubaq Layaq, red mashed bario rice. It had an interesting mushy texture of what a mashed up rice should be, except it is not starchy. Traditionally, the Kelabits wrap their rice in isip leaves so that they can bring their rice to the farm, to keep it warm and to also use the leaf as a plate – ode to waste not, want not. The accompanying soup of the day is Soup Tengayan (jungle leaves) from the Bario-Bakelan Highlands.


Red Bario Mashed Rice Wrapped in Daun Isip with Soup Tengayan


My Labo Senutuq Lunch Set

My salad is Bunga Kantan, which is wild ginger flower. A subtle blend of crunchy deliciousness dressed in lime juice.


Kerid Lamud Busaq Keluduh (Wild Jungle Salad)

I did not know that banana leaves can be eaten, and this is an interesting. The soft shredded banana leaves cooked in coconut milk was my vegetarian curry that went very well with my mashed red bario rice.


Shredded Banana Leaves with Coconut Milk

Labo Senutuq is akin to beef floss jerky. The pounded and shredded beef was cooked in dried chilli and spices. Some bits were tough, but overall very tasty. Surprisingly, a very filling dish since I could only finish half of it.


Labo Senutuq (Beef Floss Jerky)

My other 2 companion had:
A’beng/ Luan Tunee (Fish cooked tribal style) $16 and Kari Buaq Kabar (Pineapple curry) $16


Top: Kari Buaq Kabar
Bottom: A’beng/ Luan Tunee

A quick run-down:
A’beng is deboned fish which has been shredded. Cooked in a traditional style, presumably smoked in bamboo with some spices. It had a mild taste and an interesting soft texture. One would not had known that this is fish if not pointed out!


A’beng (deboned fish cooked traditional style),

The Minced Bamboo Shoots Salad was a very fresh and simple salad. I think only salt was added to it. In this point, I should mention that the Kelabits also produce their own mineral-rich Bario Highland organic salt, wrapped in dried leaf. This is available for sale at Tribal Stove.


Minced Bamboo Shoots Salad

The wild Jungle Asparagus was very tender and cooked in sambal.


Jungle asparagus

The Jungle Ferns with Baby Corns was delicious, simply cooked with salt.


Jungle Ferns (midin) with Baby Corns

The famous Bario Rice – smaller, less starchy, totally organic (think about it, pesticides costs money! Duh!)


Bario Rice

For dessert, we had Banana and Breadfruit Chips, which we had ordered as starters but the kitchen forgot. Nevertheless, it was coated in sugar so made for good crispy dessert (sans chili sauce, of course)


Banana and Breadfruit Chips

I have never met a Kelabit. From the photos I saw on the wall, they looked very fashion-forward making even the edgiest punkster look tame with their huge ear-rings collection and long elongated ear lobes.


A Kelabit woman, picture from Tribal Stove

Tribal Stove is truly unique. The real appeal of this establishment is its wholesome, healthy back-to-roots approach of letting the organic ingredients shine through without a need for a twist. If I live in Kuching, I will certainly make this my mess! By the way, anyone be keen enough to trek up the Bario Highlands with me in 2014? 🙂

Sibu BASE Jump 2013

Well, well, well, something exciting to wake the sleepy heads up – adrenaline pumping BASE Jump that is! An annual event organised by the tourism council to pull in some tourist $$ to an otherwise boring town. (Check out their FB page here)

Basically 35 jumpers from overseas will be taking their leap of faith by leaping off Wisma Sanyan, currently the tallest building in Sarawak (126m off ground) in their parachutes. They do this every hour on the hour from 20th to 22nd September 2013 and depending on weather, some night jumps as well.

I’m not sure how this works – to attract BASE jumpers to Boo Town or to to entertain the locals – it does get meh after watching a couple of jumps. Ain’t nothing like the real thing in Queenstown!

But if you have yet to plan anything over the weekend, do head over to the Sibu Town Square. Catch them before they head off to KL for the KL Tower Jump next week!


Leaping off Wisma Sanyan, approx 126m off ground

Soaring like the birds!






Slightly off mark


Gently, gently

It’s a touch-down!


Safe landing

One more time!

A Nyonya Breakfast @ Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Visit: September 11 2013

Before my flight back to the Boo, my friend S insisted that I should sample what she claims to be the best Popiah in Kuching. The coffee shop is somewhere along the 3rd Mile – the name escapes me – but she was kind enough to give me the directions should I want to visit the place in the future: “Opposite KTS village apartments, behind ‘Rice n Noodles’ shop. Few doors away from Hainan Cafe”. Goobledygook to me, but perhaps might make some sense to the Kuchingites who are familiar with the landmarks.

Our vegetarian breakfast consisted of 2 popular Nyonya snacks – popiah and pie tie. By the way, Nyonyas are Chinese women married to Malay men. Their descendents of this mixed-racial marriage are called Peranakans. Nyonya delicacies often involves a lot of work – julienning, dicing and pounding the vegetables or herbs.


My Nyonya Breakfast: Popiah, Pie Tie and 3-Layer Iced Tea

The vendor of the popiah store is Joseph, a man in his 60s. What made his popiahs special were that the thin flour pancakes are stuffed with the julienned wholesome goodness of jicama, long beans, bean sprouts, cabbages and chopped up dried bean curds given a dash of life with sweet crunchy peanut and chili sauces then tightly rolled into a tight package as big as a burrito roll with a hefty tag of RM3. Being purely vegetarian, they were packed with minerals, vitamins and fibres. the notable thing about Sarawakian popiahs are that the ingredients used are all dried. In this case, the jicamas have been been steamed then squeezed dried.

Now, you may be wondering what is ‘Jicama’. It is also referred as Mexican yam or Mexican turnip. It is a large brown bulbous root. Inside the rough and tough skin is the white crunchy flesh, similar to a raw potato but wetter and crunchier. The flavor is slightly sweet, a little nutty. It can be eaten both raw and cooked, although my own favorite is raw, (a key vegetable in rojaks) since its crispness and colour can be retained over time.


X-section: Stuffed Vegetarian Popiah

Kuih Pie Tee or ‘Top Hat‘, thus called due to the thin crispy shell casings when inverted look like a lot like a top hat. This crispy shell is usually filled with the same mixture of thinly sliced vegetables that popiah uses. Considering that making the little top hats is tedious work, it commands a premium of RM1 each. This is a popular Peranakan tidbit, something to amuse the mouth.


Pie Tie


X-section: Pie Tie

I have been seeing advertorial posters of an interesting drink called ‘3 Layer Tea‘ adorning walls in nearly all the coffee shops I have eaten at but had never ordered. Today, I decided to order one too.

The 3 layers of my iced 3 layer tea consisted of black palm sugar syrup at the bottom, creamy evaporated milk in the middle and brown brewed tea on top. It is a distinctively coloured drink when carefully layered. The sweetness has a refreshing pandan leaves fragrance to it which I enjoyed.

It was a good wholesome breakfast which I appreciated. So, thanks again S!

Steamed Rice Moon Cakes @ Sibu, Malaysia

4 more sleeps to the moon cake finale this Thursday night.  Hungry for more moon cakes but dreading the calories?

With a bit of creativity one can transform the unhealthy sweet guilty treats into something healthy.  What about steamed moon cakes that I got for tea today?

Steamed moon cake made from grounded rice and sesame  encasing the  yellow-peas paste (with possibly some cream cheese).


Rice + Sesame Steamed Moon Cake Sibu-Style



The rice and sesame layer is dry and crumbly as can be seen from the picture above.  Taste-wise, it is bland.  But for those on a diet and do not want to miss out, this will prove a saviour for this mid-autumn fest!  Ta-ta!