Dec 24, 2013

Hong Kong Travelogue: The End (Day 4-10 Jun 2013)

Day 4 marked the last day I had in Hong Kong. As reluctant as I was, here I am in Malaysia as I was drafting this post. I surely miss Tim Ho Wan for the marvellous dim sum, the convenience of taking MTR to wherever I want, the skyscrapers and tower high malls.

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Macaroni & Ham with Toast & Omelette + Hot Milk Tea at Da Jia Ai ("大家爱")

As much as I would like to enjoy my last day in Hong Kong, there was a flight to catch and a breakfast to rush for. I had my quick fix at Da Jia Ai ("大家爱"). Honestly speaking, I think many other local coffee shops in Hong Kong serve better ones. Macaroni & Ham was a disaster and nowhere close to comfort food (imagine cooking plain porridge, that was the taste you should be expecting). That aside, omelette and milk tea were alright. It was considered reasonably priced to local standard.

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Sakurashima's egg tart

On the way to grab my cab, I managed to sneak into this Sakurashima and grab an egg tart. The tart was crispy (but less crumbly) and the custard was pretty smooth. It couldn't beat Tai Cheong's nonetheless. Guess the price says it all. This costed me half of Tai Cheong's (HKD 6).

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Taxi to Hong Kong International Airport

I boarded this cab which was hailed to send me to my final destination in Hong Kong. Donned in the formal colours of red, white and black, taxis in Hong Kong was not visually different  from what we have in Malaysia. The journey was pleasant; no foul smell, no suspicious looking taxi driver.

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Table of taxi charges

The journey to Hong Kong International Airport costed HKD170 but it was less strenuous considering the big parcel I was lugging with me. Within 20 minutes, I arrived at my destination. My taxi driver was kind enough to give me HKD10/20 discounts, don't know for what or why, and he helped me to load my luggage to one of the airport trolleys.

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Entrance to the Hong Kong International Airport - Terminal 2

Similar to KLIA and LCCT, there is Terminal 2 for Air Asia flights. I pushed my trolley as slow as I can to take in the magnificence of the airport. Compared to our LCCT, hmm, I guess I don't need to say much.

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AirAsia counters at P lane

I asked one of the airport staffs for direction and they pointed me to P lane. True enough, I could see the flashing red icons with the unmistakeable AirAsia words on multiple screens. Within 3 minutes, my luggage and parcel were checked in and I stood there with my small laptop bag. Following was plenty of walking to the airport train, then to the airport transit bus before I arrived at the designated terminal for my flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

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Reluctance to go home

I was thirsty, tired and expecting a hunger to hit anytime soon. My attempt to grab a quick bite before boarding failed due to the limited choices they have. Hence, I went to Mannings (in Malaysia, they are called Guardian) to grab some Kinder Buenos and chips and pay them with Octopus card. I simply love how convenient Octopus card is as you can just swipe them at many places, be it convenient stores, Mannings or even eateries!

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Amusing plug point spotted at Starbucks

The boarding gate remained close after I was done with my little shopping. I sat at Starbucks, without buying anything, and started to pull out my iPhone cable to charge my phone with this convenient plug point with USB feature. We should have some of these in Malaysia, don't you agree?


Queue to board AirAsia plane

As I sat there, reluctant to go home, announcement PA signalled the opening of boarding gate. People started to file up in front of the gate like a hungry hawk yet no entry was allowed. It was a brief wait until the queue started to disappear in front of me and I thought sadly, "Bye, Hong Kong!"

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Yes, I am back to hot hot Malaysia

The flight back to Kuala Lumpur was a 4-hour journey. I regretted for not buying any water in Mannings (or do they have any to begin with?) and I came back to Malaysia, dehydrated. The next day I fell sick, hahaha! How typical.

To sum this up, this trip to Hong Kong was my first internationally and I am glad I've made it. I met nice people, had good food and visited new places. I couldn't feel any safer in Hong Kong despite my overly cautious attitude 24/7. As I was writing this, there is an upcoming Bali trip in January 2014, which I am seriously looking forward to!

Have fun and keep traveling :)
Hitomi

Nov 25, 2013

Hong Kong Travelogue: Eat, Snack & Play in Mong Kok (Day 3-9 Jun 2013)

The day started well with a wholesome breakfast at Tim Ho Wan. Better than most of the dim sum places in Klang Valley, I would say "please help yourself with affordable dim sum at Michelin one-starred Tim Ho Wan, by all means". The crowds and queues were there but the wait was worthwhile. Chances are you will be amazed by the speed of staff escorting you to a table. The smaller group you have, the faster you will be seated.

With a bloated tummy, I made my way from Sham Shui Po, Tsim Sha Tsui, to Mong Kok to meet up a colleague of mine in KPMG Hong Kong (back then). Just as we were wandering aimlessly at Tsim Sha Tsui, we spotted this small setup of Hui Lau Shan. The curiosity got hold of me and I suggested to try it out.

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Hui Lau Shan's mango dessert with coconut milk and red glutinous beans

Tables were placed closely with one another. If you were any fatter, you would bang the tables down without even trying. Staff were bustling like trained bees, bringing in customers' orders like mine. The faint yellow portrayed in front of me was a bad omen. Such sourness was no doubt of young mangos or worse, the wrong mangos! That bland red glutinous beans gave me the impression that they forgot to put sugar in it. In summary, I think Hui Lau Shan in Klang Valley serves better one.

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Hui Lau Shan's mango mochi

My friend ordered a dessert set which came with this mango mochi, which he offered to share. Such bright orange was too inviting to not devour. The outer layer was soft and chewy, in contrast to the crisp coconut flake. The mango filling was filled with mango cubes in thick mango lava. It was made in one-bite size which is convenient to pop one into your mouth and let the sweetness break lose in your mouth. Please help yourself with some.

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1881 Heritage Complex in Tsim Sha Tsui

After a disappointing visit to the famed Hui Lau Shan, we took a stroll at 1881 Heritage Complex in Tsim Sha Tsui. Formerly Hong Kong Marine Police Headquarters with a history of 129 years, it is now housing a shopping mall, a heritage hotel and an exhibition hall. Well, needless to say, prepare a good buck if you wish to crash here for the night or grab a few bargain along the way.

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Interior of the complex

We roamed around the courtyard in the hot afternoon sun, took shade in between while enjoying the sceneries and mesmerizing (maybe just me :p) at this new shopping concept which is new to me. It was when we came across this small tower, namely Time Ball Tower. As the name indicated, it served as a time indicator for ships coming in Hong Kong as their chronometers usually lost its accuracy after long voyages.

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Australian Dairy Company's steamed egg

I must say if one wasn't shopping in Hong Kong, it would be eating. Entering Day 3 in Hong Kong, my legs were screaming for rest. As the clock approaching 3 in the day, we headed to Australian Dairy Company for some famous steamed egg. Being a sweet tooth myself, this bowl of steamed egg was densely packed with sweetness that I would gladly do with just a quarter. That aside, the texture was perfectly smooth. Total slurp slurp goodness!

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Kai Kei Snack at Mong Kok

After loading ourselves with overly sweet steamed egg, we found ourselves back to Mong Kok again. This time, I did some shopping at Sasa. Just so you know, every Sasa I passed by was always full and almost everyone would be carrying few products in their baskets. Yours sincerely happily joined the sweeping force and landed few Shiseido products into my basket. It was hard to resist when you get 25% + extra 10%. Total damage: RM498.95. In Malaysia, you would probably spend over RM600.

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Kai Kei Snack's curry fish ball (HKD 8)

A satisfied shopping experience was then followed with a little snacking. Curry fish ball is probably most down to earth kind of snacks you can find in Hong Kong. Simple, cheap and eat it while you stand. Kai Kei's fish ball was less springy and more of starchy side, almost resembling the cheap sotong ball you find in Malaysia. Curry was not too exciting either. Guess I am just too spoiled with chillies, curry, sambal in Malaysia.

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Lee Keung Kee North Point famous egg waffle at Mong Kok (HKD 15)

Now that we were done with the savoury snack, it was time for the sweets again. Instead of heading all the way to North Point to have a taste of the famous egg waffle, I resorted to Lee Keung Kee's branch in Mong Kok. That smell of egg and flour surely gave way to its hidden crib. I ordered one and it was huge! Crispy nonetheless, I was half heartedly wished it would be more moistened inside and more flavour.

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Little Sheep's yin yeong soup base - Ma Lat and normal soup base

It was a long wait between tea time to dinner as the weather wasn't really on our side. It rained twice, to be exact; once while we were at 1881 Heritage Complex, another while we were on the bustling street of Mong Kok. Everyone was scampering, trying to look for shelter in whichever form they may be. Two of us half ran half sprinted and went into McDonalds. Surely it was crowded, especially in this weather. After good two hours of hide in McDonalds, we headed to Little Sheep and have some steaming hot Ma Lat and normal soup steamboat.

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The menu of Little Sheep or Xiao Fei Yang at Mong Kok

I must say it was quite a hefty price to pay for steamboat in Hong Kong. What costed us RM20-30 in Malaysia is at least double here (in my case HKD 160). Good thing was the meat selection here was of good quality and most of the items were refillable. Soup were good, just that I did not get to throw some scallops to make it all the better. Was it value for money? Probably not for a small eater like me who doesn't fancy seafood with shells.

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Panaromic view from Avenue of Stars at Tsim Sha Tsui

Dinner filled me to the brim to the extent I wouldn't want to walk. Being all touristy, I was here at Avenue of Stars just to check out whose palms those were. To my amusement, the sea side view attracted me most. Feeling the breeze caressing my cheek while smelling the faint salt in the air, my night could have been better with less humid atmosphere.

IMG_8969Cloudy night

Not sure if it was the norm but the dark sky was all cloudy. While the ferries busy manoeuvring to and fro mainland and Hong Kong Island, the light cast on the sea did have its own appeal. The sound of rippling waves, the ever changing neon lights, can someone send me a leaning chair with a glass of whisky on ice?

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Here I was at Avenue of Star

The Avenue of Star was not alone in this humid night. Tourists, most likely from mainland China, were all chatty and excited about some stars they could relate to. As for me, it was nothing spectacular to spot palms on the famed walk way. Rather, I found this little girl liked my camera very much that she just had to interrupt amidst my photo taking.

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My Director friend

I guess, being all touristy does mean you have to take a picture with you in it! Here you go, me with my director friend. At this juncture, I still don't believe all the circumstances that led me to this foreign land, which also happened to be my FIRST overseas trip.

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Hong Kong style ice cream (HKD 9)

Life is a journey, you just can't stop travelling. In the meanwhile, have a cone of ice cream. This was another down to earth thing you must try in Hong Kong, i.e. that ice cream from the ice cream truck. Creamy vanilla in a crispy waffle cone, simplicity at its best.

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Mrs. Fields Cookies at Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station

Life is like a movie, have some cookies. Could it be just me or that Hong Kong's sweet stuff is really double the sweetness? One Mrs. Fields Cookies and I was all done for the day. Psst... HKD 39 for 6 after 9pm. Go ease your bad days with some of these sweet and soggy cookies. 

It was hard to believe that it was the final full day I would be spending in Hong Kong.
I am going to miss this place very much :(

Oct 21, 2013

Hong Kong Travelogue: Tim Ho Wan ah! (Day 3-9 Jun 2013)

Pardon me for the zip-zappy posts for I was so excited about Hong Kong Travelogue that I posted it before the end of my Gold Coast Morib Travelogue. Now that it had finally came to the end of Gold Coast Morib Travelogue, I shall continue on my Day 3 of Hong Kong Travelogue.

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Big "Tim Ho Wan" signboard at Sham Shui Po

After food hunting in Central and Mong Kok on Day 2, I was pretty much done in Central. The next day was pretty much another day of food hunting and sight seeing, sans shopping errands. This day began with a scrumptious breakfast at cheap Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan. They have plenty of branches around Hong Kong. The one I went was at Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok.

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Highly Recommended: Crunchy Baked Char Siew Pau (HKD16)

Don't judge a book by its cover. This pale looking char siew pau might seems unattractive but trust me, it was the best char siew pau ever! Imagine the crunchy biscuit shattered into tiny little pieces as you sink your teeth in it and as your teeth sinks deeper, it reaches the juicy and flavourful char siew fillings; don't chew until you have part of the skin and some char siew fillings. It was simply heavenly!! I have NEVER had anything like this in KL.

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Char Siew Fillings

Good thing is the fillings was not skimpy at all. I really love the combination of the textures between the biscuit-like skin and tender char siew sitting in a pool of pork essence. Gah, I want some right now!

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Good Stuff: Fresh Prawn Siew Mai King (HKD24)

Talking about staple dim sum items, siew mai makes one of the top three items. What do you do when you are away from home and happen to be in one of the best dim sum places in Hong Kong? Of course I must try the siew mai and here we are talking about the bouncy prawn wrapped in a mixture of pork and lard.

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Good but not Great: Crystal Har Gao (HKD24)

Besides siew mai, har gao is another staple dim sum that I must try. A glance at the crystal clear skin was promising. However, a bite into it invalidated my first impression. Prawns were all good but the skin was thicker and tougher than I thought it should be (i.e. thin and chewy).

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Good Stuff: Beef Ball (HKD15)

Aside from Celestial Court in Sheraton Imperial KL, another thing you would not see it in Malaysia's dim sum places is beef balls. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to beef balls but to me, this was great! First of all, it was flavourful. Secondly, it did not smell strongly of a dead cow. Thirdly, the ratio of flour and beef was aptly so to present slight chewiness yet allow the beef to shine. Do you eat beef? If it is a yes, then you should try this.

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Good Stuff: Peanut and Pork Rib Porridge (HKD16)

To begin with, I don't usually order porridge in dim sum shop but this is something you should try. The texture whispered a soft promise of smoothness and I was right. It was so silky smooth that it did not feel like porridge at all. Texture aside, it was very flavourful and to what it owed this flavour to? I reckoned it was the doing of pork bones.

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Good but not Great: Ma Lai Kuih (HKD15)

To end my scrumptious meal, I thought a dessert would be great. It was slightly disappointing though when I tasted the first bite of this kuih. Being coarse and dry, the texture was just wrong. However, I was glad that it was not too sweet and fragrant. Worth the calories? Maybe not.

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Mehhh Stuff: Chee Cheong Fun with Honey Glazed Char Siew Fillings (HKD18)

My disappointment was further exaggerated by this chee cheong fun. I thought that Hong Kong's rendition of chee cheong fun would be better from what I get in Malaysia's but I was wrong. It was bland, floury and thick, you might be better off ordering a plate of char siew.

There are always great discoveries and awful encounters. Guess it is part and parcel of being a food adventurer. I really enjoyed the char siew pao, beef balls and porridge and to those who plan to go Hong Kong, you just have to pay a visit to any of Tim Ho Wan's branches. You are less likely to be disappointed :)

Be adventurous!
Hitomi

Oct 1, 2013

Gold Coast Morib Travelogue : Hokkaido Mille Crepe at Cafe Indulge (Day 2-12 Aug 2012)

My encounter with Mille crepe was dated two years ago in the state of Malacca but both of us did not know each other very well. Little do I know where it came from, little do I know who is its inventor. However, I remembered well of its skinny layering, its generous cream spread, its fluffiness and sweetness. Nadeje has definitely done justice to Mille Crepe.

I did not have a clue when this Mille Crepe fever started but many shops claimed that they serve the "best" Mille Crepe. Sorry folks, I just don't buy that. The next best Mille Crepe I could get in Klang Valley was Humble Beginnings, until Nadeje decided to spread its love for Mille Crepe to the people of Petaling Jaya.

Winding back to August 2012, after we had our unusual Toddy and curry iguana lunch, we embarked on a journey back to the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur. Before we parted, we made a sweet detour to Cafe Indulge at Jalan Kuchai Lama for some Hokkaido goodness.

Chocolate Mint Mille Crepe
Chocolate mint mille crepe

I had the impression it would be decent. However, it fell short of my expectation. Take this chocolate mint mille crepe for example, it looked more like chocolate rice mille crepe to me. A bite was totally sufficient to prove its awfulness. It was horrifying. Thank goodness it wasn't my piece of cake!

Rum & Raisin Mille Crepe
Rum raisin mille crepe

I ordered rum raisin mille crepe for myself. I had to admit it was quite an adventurous option as it was easier to screw this up. As expected, it borne faint flavour of bitterness and mild sweetness. Alcohol much? Also, these supposedly thinly crafted crepe was about 5 times thicker than Nadeje's. I was not quite satisfied with the delivery.

Tiramisu Mille Crepe
Tiramisu mille crepe

Another mate of mine ordered tiramisu mille crepe. I must say it was a safer choice. Decent enough, but again isn't tiramisu should have more cream cheese? Moreover, tiramisu without alcohol is like a climax that never came true.

Chocolate Supreme Mille Crepe
Chocolate supreme mille crepe

Being a chocolate fan, anything like this would make me go hesitant without fail. Albeit I did not get this myself, I managed to get a bite of this. After all, it was not as SUPREME as it claimed. I was expecting more intensity in its flavour but it did not come true.

Chocolate Banana Mille Crepe
Chocolate banana mille crepe

Somehow this reminded me of my smoothies made of HL chocolate milk blended with generous filling of banana. In fact, I find my smoothies tasted much better than this mille crepe. That being said, this was not too awful compared to the chocolate mint mille crepe. The touch of banana was great. Perhaps a little more chocolatey would make this better.

The Birthday Boy
Raymond with his chocolate mint mille crepe

The Birthday Girl
Li Ling with her tiramisu mille crepe

Criticism aside, we had two birthday boy and girl here with us, which pretty much WHY we were here. Heh, that face was before he had his chocolate mint mille crepe. What did he has to say about it? I had no clue.

Hooray! We grew up!
One year older, yay!

Happy belated birthday to Raymond and Li Ling.
You two are two years older now, considering the delay of this post!

Much loves,
Hitomi Ng

Aug 25, 2013

Gold Coast Morib Travelogue : The Venue + Mr Perak Toddy, Iguana & Wild Boar Curry (Day 2-12 Aug 2012)

And the Gold Coast Morib Travelogue continues...

Little clue did I have on how many hours I slept but surely my body felt it. I woke up to my dear faithful alarm, signalling the time for a "scrumptious" breakfast at The Venue. I still remembered the breezy morning as I walked alone to The Venue. It felt like a perfect holiday morning.


The Venue

Located next to The Pier, The Venue appeared to be spacious and well ventilated. The prospect seemed promising and the crowd had started buzzing around looking for tables or hunting for food.


Look at that dirty cutleries!

Before I picked up any food from the counters, I had a peep at all the selections served. Pitiful was the righteous word to describe. Not only that, look at the dirty cutleries, that was gross! It was not the end yet. You could easily spot and hear the buzzing creatures surrounding the food, not to mention some casual resting on them!


Scrambled eggs and chocolate puff

Nothing looked more promising that this scrambled eggs and chocolate puff. Fluffy and moistened, the egg was slightly tasteless; I had mine with some chili sauce. As for the chocolate puff, it was soggy though it looked otherwise. Filling was alright. I had some fried potato wedges, red bean, nasi lemak, rendang chicken, porridge and toast too. Were they good? Well, if you are not picky, probably they are just fine. If you were me, I won't choose to eat at all.

The rest started to wake up one by one and proceed to The Venue to fuel up their bodies. I had mine earlier, hence I got to take my own sweet time to shower and pack before we checked out and headed our way to our next adventure.

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Here we were at Mr Perak's eatery

Our lunch destination was an exotic selection located in Banting. Little did I know what was coming. We turned into a sharp corner and entered into a wooden house area, followed by a brief walk through an alley before it opened up to a barren field area, hosting tables under the tall old trees.

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Battered wooden house

As you can see, the place was quite a rundown. I couldn't see where was the kitchen either. It did not really matter actually; I was here to be surprised and amused.


Mr Perak's Toddy

In case you do not know, Cumidanciki.com wrote about them too! According to Cumidanciki.com, toddy is the partly fermented sap of the coconut palm, which used to be a popular drink in South-East Asia and the central Pacific Islands, and the Indians use it as a substitute for yeast when making apam and other Indian delicacies.

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A close look at Toddy

The whitish concoction tasted like coconut, except that pang of bitterness of alcohol hit you as the end note. Sweet and easy, just how I like my alcohol to be. If I were to pick on one point to improve on, it would be the temperature served.


Mr Perak's Curry Iguana

The most exotic dish we had was this curry iguana. Showered generously by curry, this fierce looking creature was tamed into chunky pieces of meat. Sinking into the unfamiliar texture of iguana,  my teeth was excited about the tenderness portrayed. Resistance was almost inexistent as the soft bone was least intrusive. Me likes? VERY!

Curry Wild Boar
Mr Perak's Curry Wild Boar

Who have not heard of wild boar? I am sure you do. This Mr Perak's curry wild boar was a MUST TRY. The meat was so tender that it fell apart easily at the gentle poke of your fork. Yes, no joke! Despite the similarity in taste, I found the use of spices for the curry complemented both iguana and wild boar. Spiciness was subtle, in fact, it was too flavourful to eat on its own.


Mr Perak's Malay Style Fried Bihun

Hence, we needed some sort of carbs to counter the excessive load of sodium chloride. Personally I think it was quite opposite of what I thought it would be. This bihun was nowhere close to subtlety. Don't take me wrong. This bihun was good stuff. The touch of soggy ikan bilis and dried chili was apt but it was a flavourful dish too!


Mr Perak's Curry Lamb


Mr Perak's Curry Chicken

Curry lamb and chicken made its way to our table too but it was nothing close to exciting. So if you happen to be in Banting, please visit Mr Perak for some curry iguana, wild boar and bihun. Just blindfold yourself if necessary XD

Be adventurous, be you!
Hitomi 

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