The day began early and by the time I got to the airport, I was ready for a coffee.
This looked more local than Starbucks so I decided to give it a shot. One has to disregard calories when trying the coffee bun. It was rather oily, containing both butter AND margerine. Why it needed both, I doubt I will ever find out but it was perfectly baked with a slightly crunchy sweet layer of sugared coffee on the bread.
I have tried a similar bun in Malaysia but that chain seems to have closed down. This coffee bun is one of the better offerings I have tried in this region. They seem to have gotten the perfect bun.
Roti Boy, International Departures, Juanda Airport, Surabaya, Indonesia.
Within minutes the smell of satay being grilled filled the air. It was the fragrance that alerted me to his presence. A quick shot of his setup and before long, he was gone. The satay has to be ordered as he runs out by the late evening. We ordered only lean meat which resulted in the satay being a little dry, and lontong or rice cake. But satay at one’s doorstep was something I used to grow up with and it was nice to experience it again. Unlike satay in Malaysia or Singapore, there were not a lot of peanuts in the sauce and the gravy was not spicy enough either. The satay I had in Malaysia tasted a lot better to me. The novelty hence, was being able to enjoy it at one’s doorstep. This was the only satay I tasted in Indonesia, hence I was not sure if the sauce was supposed to be different. But for the convenience of having satay at one’s doorstep, I have no complaints.
One cannot come to Indonesia and not try their coffee. After all, Sumatra Mandheling is known the world over. But today I settled for Kopi-O’s blend of roasted coffee. It was fragrant and made with condensed milk as is common for local coffee in this region. This was my only cup of local coffee and I savored it. Even the sweet biscuit tasted good with the coffee.
A friend ordered iced lemon tea which came with a stick of lemongrass. It was nice to look at but the taste did not seem to have gone into the tea.
Kopi-O, Mx Mall, Malang, Jawa Timur.
This is a place to see vintage vehicles and against the backdrop of England, Germany, Italy, Broadway (US) and Hollywood. And vintage it was. Not only were there vehicles which I would probably never ever see in my life had I not come here, I also saw silent Charlie Chaplin movies here. There was no lack of photo opportunities and a walk could easily last two hours.
The food was not too bad if one could get over the flies that were attracted to the seafood here. I did not expect the fish I ordered to be deep-fried again to reheat it. I was not sure how many times the oil had been used so I generally try not to eat deep fried food when I’m eating out. One consolation however, was that the heat would have killed any germs from the flies. The better choices of food were probably the grilled chicken and the satay which were devoured pretty quickly as we were hungry from all the walking.
Muzium Angkut is located at Batu, Eastern Java.
We came here for dinner. This was the closest I came to having Chinese food.
Kung pao chicken with peanuts instead of cashew nuts
This was almost like quick Chinese food. It was also the first time I tried Kung Pao chicken with peanuts in it instead of cashew nuts. The restaurant tries to keep costs down in this way.
Overall, this place was reasonably priced with good service for Chinese food. Many families come here for dinner on the weekend. They even had an option for no-MSG, which was great. We didn’t make a beeline for water after the meal.
Kopitiam is located at Jl Bondowoso, Malang, Jawa Timur.
I woke up before the morning prayers, at 4a.m. Bindy was still asleep and I did not call her to say goodbye. My transport was coming to pick me up at 4.30a.m. for the ride to Surabaya and a flight back to Singapore. It had been a pleasant three-day holiday, catching up with an old friend from university.
The transport came as scheduled and we went on to pick up several other passengers. Though it was still dark, the streets were already stirring. The little shops selling food were already open and in business by 5a.m. Early for me, but clearly the norm for them. I thought I saw a homeless man in the wee hours of the morning. Indonesia may be seen as a poor third world country, but I do not recall seeing a homeless person before – not once during the few times I visited. Hmm… interesting. A poor country without the ‘visible’ poor. Yet so many other ‘first world’ countries have those who are visibly poor.
The streets were soon roaring to life, with motorbikes scooting, cars and larger vehicles tooting and honking. The odd horse-drawn cart seemed so out-of-place in the busy streets. But it is still a dependable mode of transport that leaves no carbon footprint.
The economy of Indonesia seems to lie as much with the little entrepreneurs — who line the streets or any available space where they set up shop in an instant, sometimes with gas cylinders, woks, tables, stools and all — as much as those who own large businesses who employ the hundreds and thousands. But the life of Indonesia must surely lie with these hawkers. They add a novelty to the country; unique to the country, yet commonplace for a developing nation.
On this trip, I had the chance to try the food from two such folks. One had set up shop in a van that is parked at a location that did not obstruct traffic — she sells out her nasi kuning just after noon. I loved the chilli. I had the nasi kuning (yellow rice) with a piece of beef. It was homemade goodness, affordably priced. The other was a young man who grilled satay off the side of his motorbike and sold them to-order door-to-door. I’ll talk about him another day. Both foods were well-prepared; no concerns about hygiene.
After traveling on budget airlines several times lately, flying a normal serviced flight turned out to be quite pleasant. It helped that the plane was in good condition, the flight was not full and the stewards were well-groomed and spoke well. I’m not usually a fan of airline food but the food on this flight was not too bad. I ordered an omelette and asked for chicken noodles after trying the omelette. The egg tasted somewhat synthetic though the potato pieces that came with it were good. I passed on the sausage. The coffee too was decent.
I was a little surprise at the amount of turbulence on this short flight, which meant we had to be seated for a rather long while. I started to wonder if we would ever get to eat after a while. A 40-wink nap helped me pass the time as I woke up to clear blue skies.
It was a pleasant flight and I should fly this airline a little more. It’s not known for its quality and price (although this flight was really good value) for nothing.
I was in the neighbourhood and already had dinner. I was still not full and wanted something to top up. I was told the wonton mee here was good. So I ordered a dumpling soup that evening, minus the noodles. They were good! There was enough meat in them with the crunch of the water chestnut bits. So I came back the next day for the noodles.
They don’t like customers to waste food so they encourage folks to just order what they can eat. I asked for less noodles and more vegetables and char siu. The result was great. I didn’t really like the noodles and it was still too much for me to finish. But the meat and vegetables were good. It was probably the lard that made it taste good. I’d probably eat here again and just have the vegetables and dumplings. Alternatively, I may order the soup noodles instead.
Koung’s wonton mee, 205 Sims Ave, Geylang Lor 21A. Tel: 67480305
This little place at Liang Court models itself after the way the Japanese run their cafes in Japan. One orders the food and drinks which are then served at the tables. When one finishes the food, one has to clear the trays, leaving the tables empty and hopefully crumb- and stain-free. Hopefully. This, being a self-service cafe, no service charge is charged.
There are pots of hot water, small baskets containing creamer, stirrers and serviettes that customers can help themselves to. This concept actually works like a charm in Japan. The same cannot be said of the experience here though. But I digress.
The cafe is famous for its Mont Blanc and chiffon cakes. On the weekday afternoon that my friend and I were there, we could have a cake and hot drink for the price of a cake as long as it was $6 and above. My friend had the Mont Blanc while I had the Fruit Scoop. I also had the espresso which I didn’t like while my friend had a tea. On hindsight, I should have tried their syphoned coffee or opted for their teas which I think would have been a better choice, unless one likes thick espresso which I don’t. This is a nice quiet place for a dulcet duo.
Dulcet & Studio, 177 River Valley Road #01-41/42, Liang Court Shopping Centre, Singapore 179030.
This was the third place I tried omakase at. I came here because of Dr Leslie Tay’s blog post. This was the most value-for-money place I have tried to date, for omakase. I have only tried three places so far.
Two dishes were a little different from the standard Japanese fare. They were the peitan tofu and the chawan mushi in truffle oil. Both were their own creations. If one does not like peitan or century egg, then this would not be a good replacement for the normal agedashi tofu. I didn’t mind it as the taste was discernable but subtle. My friend said it reminded her of century egg porridge which was not one of her favourite dishes. The chawan mushi in truffle oil turned out to be a little too oily for me. I am not sure they could have made it any less oily though. If one likes truffle oil, then this would have been fine. I must say I prefer truffle oil on fries still. The yellowtail cheek was a little dry. The yellowtail is an oily fish and I was surprised that it was dry. The rest of the menu was fine.
Comparing with what Dr Leslie Tay was served and what we had, the difference seemed to be in the soup at the end and the grilled fish. Of course, there are reasons why no two omakase are the same, which I will not venture into, but I am more inclined to go for really excellent omakase for twice the price and thoroughly enjoy it at far more infrequent intervals than to settle for something that is more affordable but less satisfying. Service and language do matter especially when my Mandarin and Hokkien are virtually non-existent.
Like another omakase place I went to earlier, this place had a time limit by which we had to finish our meal. After my last experience where I had to rush my food, I concluded that omakase lunch can turn out to be too much and the enjoyment diminishes as one gets more full. This was clearly the case for me today. Plus, the novelty was starting to wear off as well. The restaurant had other bento sets which looked really good and for the time we were alloted, perhaps a bento set would have been a more enjoyable experience.
Hakumai Sushi & Omakase, #01-50A International Plaza, 10 Anson Road, Singapore 079903, tel: +65 6224 4790