Oct 24, 2011

Song Kheng Hai : One of the perfect chilling places in Kuching

Living in Malaysia has taught me well, as hot and humid is no longer something unfamiliar, from the day I was born. I believe it is the same reason that tropical countries are blessed to be the right climate for coconut and sugarcane cultivation.

Coconut and sugarcane are the options on a hot afternoon in a typical kopitiam in Kuala Lumpur. But nothing seems to strike me more than this glass of Cococane that I had in Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre at Jalan Padungan, Kuching.

You must be wondering, "What on earth is this Cococane?"
It is a rather simple drink, I would say. Freshly crushed sugarcane, newly extracted coconut water, mixed with generous amount of peeled coconut meat, and topped with generous amount of ice cubes or crushed ice.
It is so common in Kuching that not only one stall, but almost every drink stall serves Cococane.

The unmistakable natural sweetness of sugarcane and fragrance of coconut water was concentrated in  this glass of Cococane. Seriously, it is quenching and healthily good! Why can't we find some in Kuala Lumpur?

Oh well, let's not dwell on it. Let's have some of this famous Kuching snack named Kong Piah!
According to a local friend of ours, Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre serves the best Kong Piah in Kuching and that pretty much explains why we were here.

I loved how sesame seeds enhanced the aroma. It was a powerful temptress that a long whiff was the price I paid before I started to devour these evil buns!
Despite the butter fried to crispiness outer layer, it retained slightly soft texture inside, which I believe it served a greater purpose. And yes, I was right!

The meat gravy moistened the inner bun with much enthusiasm, leaving only the slightest hint of crispiness. It was not a hard task to find the sweet note in this savory Kong Piah. The taste was well balanced, and guess what, I plopped the first and downed the second!

What else was on the table? It was no other than the famous local delicacy, Tomato Kuey Tiew.

I believe it was hailed in the same family as Wat Tan Ho. Instead of the usual starchy egg soup base, this was replaced by the tomato soup.

Spectacularity was not quite the term here. Apart from the sourish flavor from the tomato sauce, I found it rather bland and one dimensional. Perhaps I am biased, but if you would prefer a flavorful dish, you might want to reserve your quota for other dishes you have in mind.

According to my boyfriend, this Pork Leg Rice was good too and so, we gave it another try this time in Kuching.

At the first glance, the meat was dry. The brownish layer indicated some sort of marination had taken place, which was most likely be Herbs. I took a tentative bite and I was right. The pork leg meat was far from tender and moist, even though it was chunky and easily fallen from bones.

Dipped into the sauce, it was neither enhancing nor complementing. It was similar to Bak Kut Teh soup, sans the intensity of herbs concentration. Overall, it was bland. Appalled we was that it was not as good as he claimed. Maybe the chef was not in the good mood that day.

No doubt, we were very satisfied with Cococane and Kong Piah and definitely we would come to Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre just for these!

Oct 12, 2011

Chong Choon : Here comes the Kuching Prawn Star

If you were to ask me,  "Would you travel for food?", few months ago, I would most probably say "NO". However things changed and this is very much to do with my foodie boyfriend. He is the reason why we landed on this land of Borneo, in quest of Chong Choon's Sarawak laksa.

Thick gravy, bold taste and pungent smell of spiced coconut milk would be my perception of how Laksa should be and I like it that way. However, Chong Choon's begs to differ. Infused with the local influence, it is distinctively different from any Laksa I have had.

Crowning on the bowl of steaming hot Sarawak laksa is the star of this dish. Demurely it poses itself on top of its crown made of rice vermicelli, accompanied by its faithful servants : Mr Shredded chicken, Mrs Bean sprouts and Ms Coriander.

Served with extra sambal belacan and lime, it definitely made my day.

Donned in brownish soup base, the Sarawak laksa does not look as intimidating as the usual laksa, mainly because the soup is curry-free. I dumped in the extra sambal belacan and squeezed the lime to the last drop.

My first contact with the laksa soup was well registered. The sourish character in the laksa soup lingered around my taste buds for the longest time. It was bold but not overpowering. Slowly the spiced flavor started to seep in. It was subtle yet complex.

Chewing every bite of rice vermicelli with the sourish spiced soup, paired with its sides, was heavenly. The crispiness of bean sprout, the bounciness of the prawn, the tenderness of shredded chicken, further accentuated by the note of coriander, kept me digging in more and more until the bowl was cleaned to the last drop.

Nope, it is not as spicy as you think.

My worry that rice vermicelli would soak up most of the laksa soup was proved unnecessary. The slightly ragged texture of rice vermicelli complemented the watery soup well. Though my boyfriend would very much prefer kolo mee in Sarawak laksa, I found this combination is perfect.

Waking up in late morning, served with a bowl of Chong Choon's Sarawak laksa by my lovingly cute boyfriend would be the ideal morning to me. Somehow it does not happen, at least not here, in Kuala Lumpur.

Location : 
Chong Choon Cafe
Jalan Abell, Kuching, Malaysia

Operating Hours :
Every single day from 6.30am to 12pm
(Note : It's better to be early than late!)

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