NOT a food blog
I started the day thinking that I would have a lunch appointment with my boss and a client, but unfortunately, she had to postpone our meeting, and that is how my boss, Pretty Pui and I ended up at Siu Siu. It was definitely a very good substitute for the initial lunch appointment at Kottaram, a restaurant specialising in cuisine from Kerala (which will be the subject of another review).
I have worked in Brickfields for a number of years and have only recently moved out of that comfort zone. The idea of a comfort zone seems to cover many aspects of my life; my job, my personal life and certainly, my eating habits. We all tend to fall back on old favourites, so the idea of exploring beyond that boundary is sometimes unthinkable. As a result of that, Siu Siu Restaurant which is located approximately 2 km from my workplace, remained undiscovered.
Siu Siu stands in one of the small pockets of greenery in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Finding it isn’t difficult – coming from KL on the Federal Highway, take the first left exit after Kuen Cheng High School, drive straight on about 200m and you’re there. There is also ample parking.
Apparently, one of the specialties at Siu Siu is the claypot rice with crab. We were not in the mood for crabs, so we passed, but we did see the dish. The rice looked very much like the claypot chicken rice, with the only difference in appearance being the crabs sitting on top of the rice.
We ordered another house specialty, Vietnamese Curry Prawns. This is best eaten with the mantou (buns). The curry is creamy, presumably due to the addition of milk (evaporated milk?). In addition to the prawns, the claypot contained lots of sliced brinjals, ladies fingers and long beans. I enjoyed this dish which reminded me of butter crabs, but with lots of curry.
The char siew (barbequed pork) took me by surprise. When you think you already know where the best char siew is, another one comes and rocks your world. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little, but I thought the char siew was fantastic! It wasn’t too sticky and was sufficiently sweet, and it consisted of the right amount of lean meat and fat.
Vegetables consisted of a mixed selection of 4 different types – brinjal, long beans, petai and 4-angled beans.
Whenever the conversation at lunch turned to work, we quickly switched the topic by telling each other how good the food was. And that was no lie.
Restaurant Siu Siu
No. 15-11, Lorong Syed Putra Kiri
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 016-370 8555/016-309 8038 (Mr Ng)
Open from 11.00am to 12.00midnight.
Closed on Mondays.
6.00pm in Ipoh. We knew it was time to have dinner and go back to reality where loved ones were waiting patiently for goodies from Ipoh. We were in a dilemma; to continue eating in Ipoh or to start our journey back to Kuala Lumpur and eat along the way.
Someone mentioned Pun Chun in Bidor. The decision was a no-brainer.
It had already started to rain when we left Ipoh that Saturday evening. But we had faith that we would arrive in Bidor safe and dry.
Because of the rain, traffic on the highway was slow. A car had spun out of control near the toll booth, so traffic slowed down further. We made it to Bidor, and fortunately, it wasn’t raining there. It was quite easy to find the restaurant which is located along the main road of the tiny town, but traffic was surprisingly heavy along the single lane road.
Even from a distance, one can smell the aroma of duck soup. Because we were early, it was easy to get a table to ourselves, hence we didn’t need to employ our table booking strategy which we had quickly learnt in Ipoh. We all ordered the dry version of duck noodles with soup on the side. The duck is served in simmering herbal soup and its flesh is soft and tender. I did not only finish up my soup, but I helped myself to Pretty Pui’s leftovers too. Let’s just say that I LOVE soup, and this soup was great. The noodles were cooked al dente and it was nice and springy.
Looking around the shop, we felt like we were in titbits wonderland as we were surrounded by various traditional chinese snacks. Pun Chun is well-known for its chicken biscuits, shat kek ma and heong peng and we dutifully stocked up on the sweet and sinful goodies.
Outside, one can buy petai by the bunches.
It rained when we left Bidor.
When we weren’t eating at restaurants and kopitiams in Ipoh, we were busy buying food. What? Obsessed with food? Us? Certainly not!
We drove in circles looking for Gunung Rapat where the famous Yee Hup is located. All that effort for heong peng. It’s funny how when you’re not looking for something, it appears before you several times. But when you’re searching high and low for it, it plays hide and seek with you.
Suffice to say that we found Yee Hup even when we were looking for Tambun to buy pomelos.
Yee Hup is the place to buy heong peng. There is usually a long queue and a steady stream of cars outside, all for the delectably sweet and sticky, flaky delicacy.
When in Ipoh, one has to buy pomelos. It’s expected of you. Sadly, we couldn’t find Tambun (seriously!), so we ended up at the stalls outside the Sam Po Tong temple which is built in a limestone cave. The temple, not the stalls. Because we were quite inexperienced in selecting pomelos, we chose the ones with unblemished skins.
Salt baked chicken is another delicacy from Ipoh, and the place to go to is Aun Kheng Lim. On one side of the shop are several ovens in which the chicken, wrapped in paper, are baked under mounds of salt, and on the other side of the shop are boxes stacked six feet high, ready for packing.
And of course, when in Ipoh, one has to drink Ipoh White Coffee which is made of robusta beans roasted in margarine. There are several coffeeshops in the same area, all claiming to be the original white coffee specialists, but we went to Sun Yuan Foong which was home to the original white coffee. The coffee is served sweetened (translated: sweet!) and we ordered some kuih along with it.
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.