Jul 2, 2012

Kota Kinabalu Travelogue : Local Food Hunt (Day 2 - 18 May 2012)

The night rest in City Park Lodge was decent; the bed was considerably comfortable for the standard of budget hotel though it did not smell soothing, the air conditioning was powerful enough to chill the room in a jiffy; the heater was hot and powerful which magically soothed the tiresome soul in me the night before. Good thing about having a room with window is you would know when it is time to wake up. I woke up with utter reluctancy despite more than 7 hours of quality sleep while my tanner half rose and urged the lazy me to have breakfast, by all means.

Staying at Jalan Pantai is the best choice ever. You can access to different famous eateries in the proximity, for example, this Kedai Kopi Melanian 3, which is the third branch of Kedai Kopi Melanian. Their specialty is their Sang Yuk Mian (生肉面) , which is also known as pork noodle.

Sang Yuk Mian (生肉面)

The type of noodle used in Sang Yuk Mian is different from the usual noodles we have in Peninsular Malaysia. Its closest resemblance is Sou Mian (寿面), which looks exactly like the noodle used in Kedai Kopi Melanian 3. The noodle was tossed in the mixture of black soy sauce, perhaps some sesame oil and pork oil to spice it up. Slurping noodles has never been more enjoyable due to its smoothness and not forgetting, the sauce they use to toss with the noodle, which made it more aromatic and balanced. To spice things up more, The chili sauce was injected with sour dose to make it both spicy yet tantalizing. I scooped a few onto my noodle and tossed it a little before I started devouring. 

Sang Yuk Mian (生肉面)

Serving separately was the pork balls and pork meat, without the undesirable company of innards. If you dislike innards, please make known of your preference upon ordering. The pork meat here was so silky that I fell in love with it instantly. It could be kneaded well to give it a nearly resistance less experience or it was merely a choice of cut. The pork ball was very chewy and bouncy to my delight. The smell of porkiness was prevalent and the ratio of meat to flour was no doubt desirable.

The portion of meat and balls were pretty generous for RM6 and I wasn't complaining. I could feel the floating particles as I took sips and I love how it caressed against my tongue. Somehow it made the soup complete. So awesome the flavor that I doubt if I  couldn't possibly find it in Peninsular Malaysia. 

After filling our tummies with goodness of Melanian, we took a leisure stroll around the Pantai Street and Gaya Street, looking for pharmacies and at the same time, to familiarize with the surrounding. Just a tip for future Mount Kinabalu climbers, you can easily get high altitude sickness pills and other medicines here at Jalan Pantai or Jalan Gaya as I understood the troubles of hunting down high altitude sickness pills in Petaling Jaya in my instance. It was when we came across pineapple bun (菠萝包) at Kedai Kopi Keng Wah Hing and the curiosity drove us to try if it is good.

Pineapple Bun (菠萝包)

Selling at RM1 per bun, it wasn't a rip off. In fact, I felt like we were robbing them for paying such a low price considering that paying RM4.50 for a bun is not an unusual situation in Bandar Utama. Judging by the outlook, I reckoned its texture should be a combination of biscuits and bun and I was right. 

Pineapple Bun (菠萝包)

Pineapple jam was a modest one; it wasn't too sweet but just sufficient to counter the natural sourish flavor from the fruit itself. The enwrapping bun was soft, light and fluffy while the crowning curst the bun was very crispy and packed with egginess. I love the contrasting texture but perhaps they should charge a little higher for more pineapple jam as I felt alittle disappointed for not having my pimeapple fillings half way through my bun.

We came across few convenient stores, such as Orange, 7 Eleven, Milimewah (The Stores). On a same stretch of road, you can easily spot Orange and then another. In contrary, we only passed by one on Pantai Street. Both of them operate 24 hours and similar in terms of pricing. Milimewah (The Stores) is where I would recommend you to grab your necessities, for example water, chocolate and snacks, because it is cheaper there!

The sun was shining brightly above and I could feel my skin screamed in agony as the sun pierced its way through my epidermis as we sped up our walk. If you would like to walk around the town, do slab on generous amount of sunscreen 20 minutes before you head out. Wearing contact lens was my sole consolation as I could put on my sunglasses and not squinting my eyes as I walked. You heard me, don't skimp on sunglasses because you have only a pair of eyes, so protect them wisely.

When our hunger call strike, we embarked on another adventure of locating our to-try restaurants. Being a non local, my tanner half and I spent most of our time searching for the restaurants based on maps, Foursquare but stumbled several times due to the misspecification of location or perhaps being blocked from view. However despite the late lunch hour (2.54pm), we caught a glimpse of the restaurants we were seeking for, of which it opens until 4pm only! Located at Sinsuran Complex, Seng Hing Coffee Shop was where we had our special 3 layer tea and Tuaran mee Better still, it was just across the road from the back exit of Le Meridien, Kota Kinabalu! 

3 Layer Tea

Aptly named, 3 layer tea is made up of palm syrup, evaporated milk and tea (of course!). The key to a presentable 3 layer tea is no doubt the process of pouring each ingredient into it without mixing all together before you serve. My tongue was squirming at the sight of the generous layer of palm syrup resting at the bottom of the cup. Guided by my tanner half, I started sipping from the bottom and slowly moved the straw up so I could get a taste of individual layers. The first dose of palm syrup charged into my mouth when I wasn't expecting it (though mentally prepared), excitement charged through my body and I greedily tried doing the same thing again. After several attempts, I decided to blend it all together before I ran out of palm syrup *giggles*. I could surely have more of this!

Tuaran Mee

We knew what we wanted the moment we stepped into the coffee shop. We asked for two plates of Tuaran mee and waited for about 10 minutes before it was served to us while it was smoking hot! I admitted that the wait was quite a drag as I was already expecting the Tuaran mee to be more exciting than the 3 layer tea. It came just at the right timing as my 3 layer tea had gone down to 20%. My first impression of Tuaran Mee wasn't helpful as it did look very messy and seemingly less side dishes for me to eat it with but half way through the noodles, I almost surrendered as it was very filling and in between the noodles, there the trapped side dishes were! 

Close Up of Tuaran Mee

As I googled about Tuaran Mee, I came across Wikipedia's explanation :
The noodles is specially made from batter of egg yolk and flour, which gives the aroma of egg when fried. Frying usually takes about 5-10 mins in high heat that leaves a texture of golden crust at the bottom of the noodles. Local vegetables such as sawi are added in during frying. Before serving, the dish usually garnished with slices of charseow, i.e. the Chinese sweetened roast pork, and fried egg rolls.
It was then I realised why it tasted so eggy and springy that I fell in love instantly alongside with the curly yet a little dry texture. The aroma of sesame was prevalent, I bet it must be sesame oil. The noodles was a little oily but I found it acceptable. The char siew was so tender and sweet, which added a different character to the overall savory dish. Me, the noodles lover, would gladly announce that Tuaran Mee has earned itself a credit as one of my favorite noodles apart from pan mee!

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