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Posts Tagged ‘local food’

Balique, Bali

Balique is located at the popular tourist district of Jimbaran, opposite the Intercontinental resort.

The decor is rustic. Think distressed wooden tables and chairs, patchwork quilt couches, mix-and-matched garage sale-looking furniture. Enamel-plated iron mugs double up as flower pots. Un-airconditioned and surrounded by garden patches, the many hanging fans turning lazily in the humidity complete the eclectic look of western garage sale transported tropical Asian garden.

The food here is surprisingly good. The portions are filling.

Nasi Campur

The fried chicken was crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside. The beef rendang was very rich and flavourful. The flavour has completely permeated the lean beef slices. The corn fritter was golden and crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. The long beans were creamy as well. Rounding it off was a lot of crackers. Each dish arrived warm, so they must have paid attention to details.

Beef Kebab

Thick, tender chunks of beef separated by bell peppers and onions, thoroughly and evenly grilled. I loved it has that slightly burnt aroma. The kebabs sit on a bed of salad of couscous, raw diced cucumber, diced tomatoes. The cool and raw salad perfectly complements the kebabs.

Pumpkin Cheese Cake

You can taste the pumpkin in the cake and it is served with a dollop of fresh cream on top. It comes at room temperature. It would have worked better if the cake was cold, especially in the heat of Bali.

Balique is a restaurant worth checking out. If you stay in at the Intercontinental, avoid the ludicrous teppanyaki and come dine here instead.

Cuca, Bali Nov 2014

Cuca is a tapas restaurant located in a very secluded side street in Jimbaran. The nearest resort is Kayumanis Jimbaran Resort.

The service at Cuca is completely clueless. I was greeted by a waiter when I arrived.

Me: “Good evening. I have an appointment with .’

Waiter: “Do you have a reservation with. .”

Me:”What did I just say? I have an appointment with. ”

Even if they are tapas, the portions are small. Considering the small portions and that this is Bali, that makes the prices they charge way overpriced.

Pumpkin salad

Grilled octopus
3 grilled octopus rings. The cauliflower was more in quantity than the octopus. Is this a joke? Or is this false advertising?

Tiger Prawn
Not only is the quantity miserable, the tiger prawn (note singular noun) was all chopped up at the bottom of the plate. How satisfying is that? When you have a big tiger prawn, you should present it in its entirety to give maximum satisfaction to diners.

There are definitely better places in Bali to dine.

Indocafe The White House, Singapore 28 Aug 2014

Top Restaurant in Singapore

In a colonial black and white house along Scotts Road, just a stone’s throw away from the busy shopping paradise of Orchard Road, is a true gem of a restaurant. Step through the doors and you are transported back to a time when the wait staff are dressed immaculately in black and white, when elegance still matters.

Within the quietly luxurious confines of this colonial house, pristine white napkins sit beautifully atop ceramic plates. Peranankan art and outfits adorn the walls, adding to the ambience of tasteful elegance.


I first tried 3 starters.


Classic Penang Otah
Steamed Spiced Egg Custard with Fish

Delicately steamed egg custard with fish, generously seasoned with freshly squeezed coconut milk and our special blend of herbs and spices.

Imagine silky smooth egg custard caressing the firm white flesh of Southeast Asian fish, bathed in a mildly spicy gravy. Heaven!


Ngoh Hiang
Five-spice Seasoned Meat Roll
Crispy homemade five-spice meat roll wrapped in soy bean curd and deep fried

As the morsel approaches your mouth, The sweet fragrance of the spiced meat fills your nose, followed by the thin crisp of the fried soy skin. They have marinated the meat well, so that the sweetness of the spices have thoroughly permeated the meat. The soy skin was very crispy without being overly oily. In other words, they applied the right amount of heat when frying.


Kueh Pie Tee
Top Hat Pastry Cups
Crispy ‘Top Hat’ pastry cups filled with shredded sweet turnip served with crab meat and accompanied with homemade chili dip.

The main courses are just as impressive. When you order any main course, they automatically serve you rice.


Ikan Masak Merah
Cod Fillet in Red Chili Sauce
Pan-roasted cod fillet in red chili sauce

The thin crisp of the fish contrasts well with the sticky viscosity of the sweet sauce. The killer move is that they have added raw shallots on the fish. The firmness of the fish and the viscosity of the sauce contrast with the crunchiness of the shallots to give the dish a multi-dimensional texture-scape. The sweetness of the sauce also takes away the heat of the shallots. Once again, the thin crispiness of the skin attests to how well it was fried.


Rendang Sapi
Beef Rendang
Slow cooked Wagyu beef sending in our special blend of spices

Oh so soft and tender! Heavenly! The beef was fantastic. I have tried better, more fragrant rendang in Malacca but the beef used here is definitely better than what I have tasted in Malacca.


Ayam Buah Keluak
Braised Chicken Scented with Black Nut
All-time Peranankan favourite braised chicken with black nut and exotic spices

Don’t be put off by its mud-black appearance; the black nut is an exotic, one-of-a-kind taste. The chicken is very tender.


Babi PongTeh
Old Style Braised Pork in Bean Paste
Pork belly braised in fragrant soya bean paste and aromatic spices

This has quite a bit of fat—— comfort food at its best!


Chap Chye
Stir-fried Mixed Vegetables
Penang-style mixed vegetables with pork skin and shrimps in fermented bean curd sauce


Home Recipe Bubur Cha Cha
Traditional Nyonya dessert soup of yam, sweet potatoes, sago and banana in a mixture of rich coconut milk and palm sugar.

The coconut milk is very thick and they have provided copious chunks of sweet potato and taro.


The prices here are uniformly reasonable. For example, the chicken (Ayam Buah Keluak) costs only $24, the cod fish (Ikan Masak Merah) costs only $33 and the beef rending (Rendang Sapi) is only $32. The Bubur Cha Cha is only $8.

The staff here understands the experience of dining. They tread softly and provide service that works. They know enough to ask if you would like the main courses served. Diners don’t need to be bootlicked nor ass-kissed. They just want a seamless dining experience. The staff here delivers just that. Nothing fancy about the service. No small talk, no fake smiles. It’s just service that works, and that in itself is golden.

This restaurant is just a 5 minute walk from Newton subway station. Also, right outside the restaurant is a bus stop. Bus numbers 5, 54, 124, 128, 143, 162 serve this bus stop. These buses pass through Clarke Quay, Chinatown and Shenton Way. In other words, it is possible to travel from these places and arrive right on the doorstep of Indocafe The White House.

With its great food, great service, off-the-chart value for money, this is not just the best Peranankan restaurant in Singapore, this is one of the best restaurants in Singapore.

Seafood in Batam; Wey Wey Seafood

Many tourists head to Batam for cheap seafood.

Golden Prawn Seafood Restaurant is famous in Batam and known to Singaporeans for their seafood.  But according to Wikitravel, Golden Prawn “seems inexpensive to touristing Singaporeans but is well-known in Batam to be an expensive tourist trap. The seafood they serve may not be fresh, which they will attempt to mask by deep frying them.”

At Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal, there is a row of seafood restaurants right by the sea.  Most popular is Wey Wey Seafood.  It is so popular that they opened another restaurant Wey Wey2 two doors away. 

The prices at this entire row of seafood restaurants are not indicated on the menus.  In other words, the prices may fluctuate between different customers.  Here is a sample of the prices quoted for 1 pax portion at Hawaii Live Seafood , which is the restaurant sandwiched between Wey Wey and Wey Wey2.

Fried Seafood Noodles IDR$18,000

Steamed scallops IDR$50,000

BBQ Squid IDR$35,000

Verdict: The seafood at both Hawaii Live and Wey Wey is not very tasty and the quantity is little.  Worse, the seafood is just a notch above unfresh.  As such, though the prices seem cheap, the seafood is not really good value for money. 

Tip 1: ask for discount at the end of meal.  I asked for a discount and they gave me a 10% discount, and I only ordered 3 items.  If you ask for a discount when ordering, they simply give you less quantity. 

Tip 2: My hotel Swiss-Belhotel Harbour Bay was just a few steps away from the row of seafood restaurants.   It is recommended that you pack your food for take away back to your hotel room to avoid eating in the sour stench of sluice and sewage.

Wan Li, Renaissance, Johor Bahru, Malaysia Oct 2013


5-star Chinese fine dining arrives at Johor Bahru. Helmed by Executive Chef Foong Wai Loong, Wan Li offers cuisine that is very rich and strong flavours.  

Having worked in Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and now in Johor Bahru, Chef Foong’s international experience is evident in the presentation of the dishes.  Chef Foong emphasises presentation as the visual aspect is the diner’s first contact with the dish. 

Dim Sum 

In keeping with international trends, various dim sum are artfully arranged on a single plate and presented to the diner, rather than presented in the traditional communal bamboo basket. 

I tried the Coffee Chicken, Soft Shelled Crab and Baby Octopus.

Coffee Chicken: This is a dish common in many places such as Japan, the Philippines, China, Singapore but Wan Li is the first to offer this dish in Johor Bahru.  Wan Li uses Ipoh coffee, where Chef Foong hails from.  This is an interesting little appetiser—-sweet but with a little of the bitterness and character of coffee.  The succulent chicken soaks up and holds these favours well.

Soft Shelled Crab: Crispy but not oily.  Nothing exceptional; the dish is simply as it should be.

Baby Octopus: I frankly can’t tell any difference from the baby octopuses bought from supermarkets. 


Double-boiled American Ginseng with Village Chicken RM$29++

Clear and fragrant, this soup uses only spring water and has been double boiled for 4 hours.


Signature Durian Crispy Prawns Small (2pcs) —RM$48++, Large (4pcs)—- RM78++

The prawns are marinated and then fried.  After frying, the prawns are mixed with D24 durian sauce, then topped with fish roe.

This dish is really rich, really creamy.  Tea is needed to cleanse the palette.  I recommend only ordering only 1 portion first (1 portion includes 2 prawns) and sharing with your dining companion.  After trying 1 first, order more if you wish.  As expected of durian, there is a really strong fetid smell. 

Fragrant Fried Rice with Dried Scallops Crab Meat Small —RM$32++, Large —- RM48++

This fried rice uses only egg white and leaves out the yolk. 


Chilled Mango Puree and Pomelo RM25++

Mango and cream are mixed together and beaten then chilled.  Pomelo bits are added as a garnishing.

This dessert has stunning presentation! It arrives dramatically in a furious cloud of dry ice.  It has bright, energetic and arresting colours. The boldness of colours is further accentuated by the strip of pandan leaf sticking out like a feather.

The mango and cream are great though just slightly too rich for me.  It needed the bitterness of the pomelo for balance.  I would have preferred the cream to be slightly lighter so that the pomelo acts as a welcomed, refreshing balance rather than as a needed balance.  Nevertheless, the chill of this dessert is refreshing rounding off of a rich meal. 


Wan Li Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao  RM12++ (3pcs)

Ingenious!!! The foie gras melts in your mouth and the richness immediately spreads and fills your mouth.  The whole experience of Xiao Long Bao is heightened.  It’s like Xiao Long Bao “on steroids”, in a good way.

Roasted Crispy Mango Peking with Traditional Condiments  Half Duck—–RM$78++   Whole RM$118++

Skilfully carved and rolled in front of you.  The crispy duck skin is possibly the best I had.  It is thin, crispy and with fat underneath.  Oh so satisfying. 


Black Sesame

The black sesame is stir-fried then ground up.  Only rock sugar is added.  Hence, it was surprising that it was very rich, very rich.  You can taste the charcoal-y taste of black sesame, a testament the chefs care to stir-fry the sesame for a long time for the charcoal-y taste to be there.  I really appreciate the quality approach the chefs took in preparing this dessert.  Westerners might feel apprehensive—-they might think it looks like black mud or crude oil but I highly recommend to try it.

Golden Lava Custard (Liu Sha) Bun

The golden lava is made from salted duck egg and milk.  The salted duck egg and milk are mixed and beaten.  The mixture is then stir-fried and frozen.  When steamed and the pumpkin flavoured skin of the bun is broken, the golden lava erupts and flows out of the bun.  The savoury of the duck egg yolk balances of the sweetness of the pumpkin bun.   

The staff here is well-trained and they know what they are doing.  It is a total relief to be able to relax knowing you don’t have to micro-manage.  With the elegant décor, this is definitely one of the top places to dine in Johor Bahru.


La gastronomie chinoise 5 étoiles arrive à Johor Bahru. Dirigé par le Chef Foong Wai Loon, le restaurant Wan Li vous propose une cuisine aux saveurs à la fois riches et saisissantes.


Après avoir travaillé à Singapour, en Indonésie, au Japon et désormais à Johor Bahru, l’expérience internationale du chef Foong transparaît dans la présentation de ses plats. Le chef Foong met en effet l’accent sur la présentation puisque l’aspect visuel sera le premier contact du dîner avec le plat.

Le Dimsum, le “Coeur à petites touches”

En accord avec les tendances internationales, différentes sortes de dimsums sont disposées élégamment sur un plateau, au lieu d’être présentées dans le panier commun en bambou traditionnel, et  sont servies au dîner.

J’ai essayé le Poulet au Café, le Crabe à la Carapace Molle et le Jeune Poulpe.

Le Poulet au Café : c’est un plat courant dans de nombreux pays, tel que le Japon, les Philippines, la Chine, Singapour, mais Wan Li est le premier à proposer ce plat à Johor Bahru. Le restaurant utilise du café « blanc » d’Ipoh (en Malaysie), d’où est originaire le chef Foong. C’est une petite entrée intéressante : elle est sucrée mais conserve une part de l’amertume et du caractère du café. Le succulent poulet absorbe et retient parfaitement ces saveurs.

Le Crabe à Carapace Molle : il est croustillant mais pas huileux. Rien d’exceptionnel, le plat est simplement tel qu’il doit être.
Le Jeune Poulpe : je ne peux franchement pas différencier le jeune poulpe du restaurant de celui acheté dans les supermarchés.

La Soupe au Ginseng Américain Bouillie Deux Fois et son Poulet Fermier —–29$R-MYR

A la fois claire et parfumée, cette soupe est uniquement préparée  avec de l’eau de source et a été bouillie durant quatre heures avant d’être servie.

Les Fameuses Crevettes Croustillantes au Durian —–Petite portion (2 pièces) 48$R-MYR / Grande portion (4 pièces) 78$R-MYR

Après avoir mariné, les crevettes sont frites. Puis elles sont mélangées à une sauce aux durians de qualité supérieure avant d’être recouvertes d’œufs de poisson.
Ce plat est très riche et très crémeux. Après ce plat, un thé sera nécessaire afin de rincer le palet. Je recommande de ne commander qu’une seule portion dans un premier temps (une portion comprend deux crevettes), et de la partager avec votre convive. Après avoir essayé, commandez-en plus si vous le souhaitez. Comme le laissait présager l’utilisation du durian, le plat est accompagné d’une puissante odeur fétide.

Le Riz Frit Parfumé accompagné de Saint-Jacques Séchées et de Chair de Crabe —– Petite portion 32$R-MYR / Grande portion 48$R-MYR

Ce riz frit est seulement préparé avec le blanc de l’œuf et laisse le jaune de côté.

La Purée de Mangue Froide et ses Pomélos —– 25$R-MYR

De la mangue et de la crème sont mélangées, battues, puis refroidies. En garniture, des morceaux de pomélo viennent compléter le dessert.
Ce dessert est superbement présenté ! Il nous est apporté d’une façon théâtrale, dans un nuage déchaîné de neige carbonique. Ses couleurs sont vives, énergiques et saisissantes. L’audace de ces couleurs est encore plus marquée par l’utilisation de bandes de feuilles de pandan, dépassant de part et d’autre telle une plume.
La mangue et la crème sont bonnes bien que légèrement trop riches à mon goût. Le tout avait besoin de l’amertume du pomelo pour atteindre un équilibre. J’aurais préféré que la crème soit un peu plus légère afin que le pomelo joue un rôle complémentaire, à la fois bienvenu et rafraichissant, plutôt qu’un rôle nécessaire dans l’équilibrage du dessert.

Les Petits Pains à la Vapeur« Xia Long Bao »au Foie Gras de Wan Li —– 3 pièces 12$R-MYR

Ingénieux !!! Le foie gras fond dans la bouche et sa richesse se répand immédiatement et envahit votre bouche. C’est toute l’expérience du Xiao Long Bao qui s’intensifie.  C’est comme si le petit pain était « sous stéroïdes », et ce d’une manière positive.

Canard à la Pékinoise et Mangue Croustillante et ses Condiments Traditionnels  Le canard —– Demi 78R-MYR / Entier 118R-MYR

Il est découpé et roulé avec habileté juste sous vos yeux.  La peau croustillante du canard est probablement la meilleure que j’ai eu l’opportunité de manger. Elle est fine, croustillante mais conserve une fine couche de gras qui apporte la saveur. Quel régal !


Le sésame noir

Le sésame noir est poêlé puis moulu. Seul du sucre candi est ajouté à sa préparation. D’où ma surprise en le goûtant de le trouver très riche, vraiment riche. Vous pouvez sentir le goût charbonneux du sésame noir, ce qui est une preuve du soin pris par les chefs de poêler le sésame durant une longue période afin que ce goût soit présent. J’ai beaucoup apprécié l’approche soignée des chefs dans la préparation de ce dessert. Les Occidentaux pourraient ressentir une certaine appréhension : ils pourraient penser que cela ressemble à de la boue noire ou à du pétrole brut, mais je recommande fortement d’y goûter.

Les « Golden Lava (Liu Sha) », ou les Petits Pains à la Vapeur au cœur jaune

Le « golden lava » est fait à base d’un œuf de canard salé et de lait. Les deux ingrédients sont mélangés et battus. La pâte obtenue est ensuite poêlée et congelée. Quand le petit pain est cuit à la vapeur  et que sa croûte aux saveurs de citrouille se fend, le « golden lava » éclate et son cœur jaune ruisselle hors du petit pain. La saveur du jaune d’œuf de canard vient équilibrer le goût sucré du petit pain à la citrouille.
Les employés du restaurant sont bien formés et savent ce qu’ils font.  C’est un grand soulagement de pouvoir se détendre en sachant que nous n’avons rien à faire, hormis apprécier notre repas. Proposant un décor élégant, ce restaurant est certainement l’un des meilleurs endroits où dîner à Johor Bahru.