Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hiking Trails - Tmn Tun, Bukit Tabur and Tanah Rata (Part 1)

Perhaps one of the best exercise is done through walking/hiking. This form of exercise is not popular in Malaysia due to heat and humidity. In the temperate countries walking/hiking is a big 'sport'. Businesses are built around this sport through the manufacturing of haversacks, shoes and various apparels.

There are many advantages in walking.
1) It is easy on the knees and joints as the forest floors are mostly springy like that of a stadium's rubberised sports track.
2) It has a variety of scenery that keep changing, chasing away any forms of monotony.
3) It is a combination of aerobic (walking) and anaerobic (walking inclines/slopes) activities that work gently on the body as well as give the cardiovascular muscles a good workout.
4) And the forest offers a canopy that keep out the sun and heat.

I have gone hiking with this buddy of mine in Vancouver, London and Malaysia. He is the crazy one while I make time for it. The Malaysian trails around KL are to name a few FRIM, Malaysia Agricultural Park (MAP), Broga and paths found in our own housing estates. Out of KL, I like the hike at Penang Hill and Bukit Kledang (Menglembu). I have spent 2-3 hours at a time walking the FRIM and MAP. It is challenging as we go finding hills to climb and hike off the beaten track walking lesser used trails. This time round for his holidays in Malaysia, were able to walk the Tmn Tun, Bukit Tabur and Tanah Rata (will write about Tanah Rata in another post) trails.

Bukit Tabur

There are a few entrances. The trail is on the ridge. Basically, walking on the top of the Klang Gates limestone hills. It is a precipitous drop left and right. Lives have been lost. In times past there were lots of quartz scattered around the trail but sadly it is all gone now. There is little tree cover so start early and leave early. It can be very hot. Your truly found out the hard way. We started at 10:00am in the Bukit Mas Apartment carpark and finished at 3:15pm in the same.

Check out the hills that look like the back of the dragon. These are limestone hills and are visible from Ulu Klang. It forms a natural boundary for the dam and reserved catchment area on the left and Taman Melawati on the right.
Overlooking the Klang Gates dam.
The trail is well-marked. We reached Point 8 and turned back. We did enjoyed the various scenery under the cover of some trees which was not that much though.
See the curving walls of the dam on the left (middle).

Taman Tun/Bukit Kiara
This major trail is tarred/sealed. It is also a horse riding trail as the equestrian club is nearby. I start only from the Tmn Tun entrance. There are many trails besides the sealed road as evidence by detours that can be seen from the sealed road. I find this trail very convenient and easy to access. The downside is the hard surfaces unless one go off-track into the forest trails.

This Way to Your Better Health - a cross junction with pavilions by the side.
Wild Fowl and esp. macaques are found here and in many other trails. Watch out for them and you will be rewarded. Or for that they will find you out as you are in their territory.
I think this is the V2 trail coming out of the water storage tank.Started at 5:00pm and finished off at 7:30pm and had dinner at Tmn Tun.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Long Awaited Table - Foh San, Ipoh

The maddening rush is over especially during the weekdays mid-morning. What a relief! Within a week I got to eat twice in my favourite dim sum restaurant without much fuss. Revamped and expanded Foh San will be here to stay. Barring any major disaster it will remain as a hugely successful food business and crowd pleaser.

The cavernous 2-storey space was culled out from 5 shoplots. The modern and brand new feel departs from the old pre-war building where it was once based. Surely this site will stand for another 50 years cementing its culinary hold over the dim sum loving Cantonese in Ipoh.
I was glad to be there and be part of Foh San success like many of the braver floggers that went earlier, waited long and were rewarded. Cheers and thanks to Foh San for perpetuating their dim sum art as an enduring and valid culture among us.I can be picky when it comes to dim sum. Siew Mai, Har Kau and Yee Mai will be put to the taste test. These trio are the dim sum trinity. If they turn out well the rest of the same kind will be well.

Yee Mai - springy, smooth and replete with the taste of fresh fish. Exactly what I was looking for. The texture pointed to the lack of flour within. Balancing a value for money price while using quality ingredients will separate the man from the boys. FH has done well here. The Siew Mai is of average quality as it was quite salty. The texture and taste did not gel well with my palate. I do hope the salt was not used to mask lack of quality in the ingredients or the lack of freshness. It seems these were made for export/distribution rather than the made and consume the same day types - a one way trip from the kitchen to table. The experience kept me from ordering the second time round. I will try again but later. The Har Kau must be made from 2-3 fresh prawns and seasoned to perfection with some cornstarch fillers to bind and to give body to the texture. The skin must be thin enough to melt in the mouth and without breaking and spilling out the contents when picked up by the chopsticks. Tall order but can be done. FH has done well with the fillings but the skin can be thinner.Another plate of fresh, succulent and unique dim sum with century eggs. Ginger slices complement the taste well. Sui Kau - A dash of sesame seed oil will do wonders. Overall the ingredients were fresh.The best Loh Mai Kai I have eaten for a long-time. Glutinous rice steamed with a right amount of moistness but dry enough to hold its shape and devoid of the oily and sticky look. The ingredients included were so generous. I will have it each time I am there! Wu Kok (Yam pastry) the king of the savoury pastry. It was a big disappointment as I used to have the best Wu Kok in Ipoh. The contents were blended to a dry gluey formless paste. It should be chunky, moist and oozing sauce. The yam was less than crisp and it was another letdown.
Gyoza - so so in taste with a chewy skin. Do not waste your money.Thick rolls of CCF. It kind of satisfied my carbo carving like how the Char Siew Pau dough do their job all the time.The Nam Yee (Kau Yoke) Pau was stuffed with dry lean meat. Come on stick to the spirit tradition and used belly pork. The dough could be better as it was not fluffy enough and dry.
I spotted this on the serving cart. Braised Trotters with a smart looking mantou. Must order the next time I am there for brunch/lunch.
Address: Foh San Dim Sum,
51, Jalan Leong Sin Nam, Ipoh
Tel: 05-2540308

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Scones and Masala Tea with a View - Cameron Highlands

Cameron Bharat Plantations Tea Shop is no Smokehouse. There is no colonial charm and quaint British bungalow's interiors. It has the working class feel and look. Like the tea plantation tea shop I visited on the way to Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka it is designed to be both functional and to offer the visitors a panoramic view of the tea bushes garden. Don't look for a matured and blooming garden here. Maze-like and green all-round, it is sprawling and spread itself as far as eyes can see.
All kinds of tea plus a variety of pastries.
Masala Tea and Scones for me. Comes with strawberry jam, cream and butter. I find the jam off the mark which is one of the attraction for having scones. It should be thick and with chunks of the fruit. The Masala Tea was above average. It would have been better if the spices were heavier.The scones was up to mark and I enjoyed. Fluffy and moist yet dense with enough of the creamy goodness to make me feel euphoric esp. with the cool climes, steady breeze and beautiful scenery.Cameron Bharat Plantations Tea Shop is 3 km from Tanah Rata town. There is another one in Kg. Raja much further up. If one is coming up using the Tapah way look out for it on the left when nearing Tanah Rata. If using the Simpang Pulai way look out for it on the right after passing Kg. Raja.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tai Kar Rock Yong Lieu - Ipoh

This is one very famous Yong Lieu shop in Ipoh. It is almost an institution. It has tradition, quality and popularity plus a very good and unique name. But then the barrier to entry into the world of noodles is not difficult. In recent years more are moving into this niche noodles' market. Some older ones are re-branding and modernising to keep up with the times.

Tai Kar Rock is close to Greentown and within striking distance of the Ipoh Dim Sum heavyweights - Foh San, Ming Court and Yoke Fook Moon. Since the Ipoh Cityhall moved to this area many years ago, it has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts.
On display the already cooked YL plus more in an open glass-top chiller for those that cannot be cooked in advance.
Fried stuff - really popular with the crowd.
Deep-Fried Jicama YL. It is unique in Ipoh. The crunchy pieces marinated with aromatic spices and given body and structure with a mixed of fish paste and cornstarch wrapped with a soy skin. The key is a balance of the key components and eaten fresh off the fryer dipped in garlic chilli sauce. These were excellent.Foo Chook - another crowd favourite.Fish Cakes!
And YL in soup.
Tai Kar Rock
Homemade Fishball & Yong Tau Foo

24, Jalan Seenivasagam, Ipoh.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lim Keng Guan Dried Meat (Unminced) - Ipoh

The one good thing about Lim Keng Guan Dried Meat is the use of a whole piece of pork. It is then sliced into thin slivers (exaggeration here) and BBQed. The slices is even thinner than the minced meat counterpart.

There are 3 simple reasons in my preference for the former. Whole rather than minced meat taste better as there is no chance for adulteration with lower quality cuts. The texture is better. Minced meat slices tend to be lumpy, rough and breaks up unnaturally when eaten. And finally, minced meat version is sliced into thicker pieces or else it will not be able to hold up on its own.
LKG Dried Meat is full-bodied in taste, the texture is excellent and the unprocessed meat structure is perfect. The only drawback - is t is a bit too sweet but on the bright side LKG used less oil than usual. 7.5/10.
The minced version was also quite devoid of oil. But I was given stock that was not top quality. It may be old stock. So I did not really enjoy this.
Address: Lim Keng Guan Food Supplies S/B
No. 19, Jln Raja Musa Aziz (Anderson Road), 30300 Ipoh, Perak
05-255 0470
(There is another going by the same name in Jalan Sultan Iskandar aka Hugh Low St. I thought they are one and the same. Both are equally good. Same row with the Police Station Curry Noodles but about 15 shops away.)

Products: Dried Pork, Dried Beef, Dried Fish, Pork, Chicken and Fish Floss, Sausage, Sambal Roll and all kinds of dried meat with chili.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Is Klang Gates Dam Severely Affected? - Here's Proof!

Klang Gates Dam - The walls of the dam is on the left middle of the pic.
The Star (March 19) today reported, "The water level at seven dams in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya is dwindling, affected by the warm weather and dry spell for the past two months.
They are the Sungai Selangor, Sungai Tinggi, Semenyih, Sungai Langat, Klang Gates, Tasik Subang and Sungai Batu dams.
A statement from Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) yesterday said the more severely affected ones were Tasik Subang, Klang Gates and Sungai Langat due to low rainfall in the water catchment areas."
I was up to the number "8" station of the Bukit Tabur just one week ago. Bukit Tabur overlooks the Klang Gates dam. The picture was taken 7 days ago and offers a view of Klang Gates reservoir in all its watery glory. There was a receding waterline as the light colour sand are exposed. But it is not that bad to my layman's eye then.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Soon Seng Bak Kut Teh with a Difference - Meru, Klang

Local knowledge and wisdom are the key to success to any ventures esp. those that involved cross-cultural workforce or companies making forays into regional and international arena. So when I was in Meru, Klang recently I was led by the nose to Soon Seng BKT. This is the Meruites favourite. And I willingly fell for their tale - hook, line and sinker.

The first difference was the portable stove to keep the BKT warm or boiling depending on customers' preference. Secondly, the meat was tender. There were one piece that were overcooked or tough! Thirdly, Their dry BKT is wet!

Now the dry BKT is all the rage. Key components - Ladies Fingers, dry squids and some dry chillis! This pot is slight wet which is not the norm but still it had its merit for I do not need to scrap the bottom for the caramelised dry-out gravy. This wet gravy is good for the rice. Use it as it is meant for the rice.
One portable stove per claypot. Keep the BKT on a rock and rolling boil!! This shop rocks.Stir it up, raise the appetite, suck in the smell and chow down!