Thursday, January 31, 2008

Day 1 : Old Quarter

Yes, I am a sucker for food! I went ahead with my trip to Hanoi even my stomach told me not too. But I was alright. I depended a lot of my medication. Anyway, enough of my travelers diarrhea. I'm all good in Hanoi and all good now. Let me get to the goodies.

Starch! (5,000 Dong) It looked like porridge from far but when the bowl reached my lap, starch boiled with pork bones. Tasted like ...well.. starch... with the pork flavoring which was not too bad.

That was my first meal in Hanoi. My other friends ate this tomato spicy soup noodles which tasted really good. One of the better noodles I have tasted during this trip.

After the brunch, and after a long long walk around the Old Quater, my stomach started to call after me. Coincidently (or maybe not that coincidently ...;p) this pop into my view.

French loafs were at the top of the stall shelf and also in this oven.

Margarine, two types of ham, minsed meat, vegetables and chicken floss. Overall, the Vietnam sandwich (15,000 Dong) tasted just a little better than awful. The bread was airy, dry and hard. The mined meat stuffing was bland and one of the ham tasted too salty.

But what to do. No other food around. So as we walk heading back to our guesthouse, we pass by this indoor food court thing which my friends thought was a school's canteen. There were many teenagers enjoying ice cream there.

We bought one each. Mine was horrible! Tasted like god knows what... eek!

The other (milk I think? ice cream (3,000 Dong) and chocolate (4,000 Dong) tasted better, but still yucky for ice cream. Avoid the ice creams!

As we walk on, I spotted a stall with quite a lot of people eating and taking away food. We ordered one of each. We had no idea what we ordered, just point and nod the head. Nem Chua Be (6,000 Dong) is the spring roll in the middle. Tasted quite normal. The puff thing on the top was filled with 'tong fun' like noodles. The circular fried item on the right was bread stuff with minced meat. Quite nice. The other circular fried item on the left is sweet and sticky. The bottom item was stuffed a mixture of mushrooms and minced pork. Good stuff.

Banh goi (4,000 Dong)
Banh nan thit (3,000 Dong)
Banh nan ghot (2,000 Dong)
I'm guessing the circular fried items are one of these... only if I read Vietnamese.

One thing I really like about food in Hanoi. Everything comes with dipping sauce or vegetables. The plate of vegetables consisted vegetables of different texture, different fragrance and different taste. Cabbage, fern, coriander, mint, basil, and many many more. Every shop or stall I go to serves these. Absolutely wonderful!

Oh and not forgetting the dipping sauce. This tasted like watered down vinegar and those floating in it were young papaya.

All eat no water. Nothing better that a glass of cold beer. The kegs are supplied to shops every morning and the booze is discarded at the end of the day. According to my friend, 'Bia Hoi' brewed everyday and must be drunk within the day.

We enjoyed 'Bia Hoi' (2,500 Dong) at the cross junction of Ta Hien Street. Took the chair, and stared at the super noisy and busy cross junction. The 'Bia Hoi' taste was missing something. Can't figure it out but it was still ok.

When it was time for dinner, we pop out to the alley in front of our guest house. Found three stalls that were serving dinner. We sat down at the stall which had most people.

I had the pork soup noodle. Heh... nothing special. The pieces of processed pork tasted similar (but a little nicer) to the pork ball we have in Malaysia.

My friend ordered the chicken rice which came with hot steamy sticky rice. I think it taste just so so too. Chicken looked smooth though
(Rice and two bowls of noodle for 35,000 Dong)

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam

It's 9C to 13C along with rain and wind in Hanoi. It's good to be back home but home still feels hot and very humid at the moment. My face is all flushed and I head feels heavy.

I manage to find time to visit Halong Bay. The whole trip wasn't as nice as it could be because it was raining, cloudy, windy and misty. Didn't catch any good view.

But ok lah, did manage to see the "Fighting Cock" (almost) up close.

I also went hiking... but more like climbing stairs all the way up to the Perfume Pagoda. It took me almost an hour to get up there! Another hour to walk down? Nope... took the 10 minutes ride on the cable car instead.

Perfume Pagoda is actually a Chinese temple up in the hills, located in a cave. High in the hills but not as spectacular as our Malaysian Batu Caves though.

I spend the other days sight seeing around Hanoi New and Old Quarter and feasting on their local street food. I wasn't going to let my travelers diarrhea stop me from the delicious local food!

I was just being smart. I'll let the germs from the Hanoi street food and Jogya street food kill each other off. MUAHAHAHA ;p

Anyway, it's back to work for me. Stay tuned for the food reviews. Got to find time to get my pictures organized. So I'll leave you with a short post on the things I did not do in Hanoi.

1# I did not make any angry woman run after me.

I did annoy a few shop keepers though. But it wasn't my fault..... they seem to get annoyed with anyone who was bargaining. How not to bargain? They are charging tourist ridicules prices!

2# I did not steal any Mandarin orange.

I saw this Mandarin orange tree beside the Ho Chi Ming mausoleum. Big delicious fruit hanging off the branches. (The only reason I didn't walk any closer is because the guard was staring and getting suspicious of me ;p)

3# No papaya's for me.

I tried their local Chinese dates, Mandarin oranges and banana. I didn't get to their their local pamelo and papayas. Their fruits seem to lack the juice. Must be the cold weather.

4# I did not eat Micheal Jackson.

....I mean I did not eat the animal and resembles Micheal Jackson. I saw them sold at the local market alive and kicking in a cage.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Day 5 : Kuih muih at Solo (Surakarta)

While breakfast was being prepared by the guesthouse, I walked out again in searching of some other breakfast. The last day, and the last attempt to find local food.

I walked about 200 meters away from the hotel but it was still did not find any stalls open. I guess 6am was still early for stalls to be open.

While walking back, I saw this old lady wanting to cross the street. She carried two tiers of large circular tin containers around her back with a sarung. I signaled the universal sign for eating *hands towards the mouth pretending to eat* She nodded and walked over.

I bought a bag of quih muih from her. All for IDR15,000.

The nasi kuning (yellow rice) was quite nice. It's normal white fragrant rice cooked with yellow ginger juice eaten with some fried tapioca, fried tempeh (fermented beans), some sliced egg omelet and fried shallots.

I didn't like this coconut with banana queh she sold. Tasted bland with no coconut milk or banana fragrance at all.

Same goes for the glutinous rice with cooked coconut sugar. Again I have to say that the coconut sugar is just not fragrant enough. The rice squares were too dry and though.

The other quihs weren't nice too. The only quih I found nice was the yellow piece which was was not the normal tapioca quih we find in Malaysia. Nice quih, but I have no idea what it was.

I finished off my nasi pataya (spicy rice wrapped with egg omelet) with grated cheddar cheese on top. Nice.

It was 7am sharp. And off we go. To the airport and back home!

Overall the trip was just so so. Will I revisit Borobudur, Jogya and Solo? No thanks. Borubudor was nice, but for those who are really not that interested in historical stuff but want to see rock, go to Angkor Wat instead. And if I ever find myself back at Jogya, I will be at Setia Kawan and Bedhots Resto. I won't want to risk another travelers diarrhea.

*Note on my first travelers diarrhea. My stomach started to cramps up a lot. The on the sixth day onwards it started to get worst. The cramps follows with a nasty 'business' in the you know where. My fault for going to the doctor soon ... only went there yesterday because the cramps was really bad. I'm on a liquid diet for today and hope the antibiotics help neutralized the virus I imported back ;p I need my stomach to be well because I'll be MIA'ing again.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 4 : Missing the Jogja street food

After having the horrible breakfast, I really didn't have the mood to have the egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast though I was told it tasted good.

I walked out to the alley and found this lady selling gudeg. Without a second thought I bought a pack from her for only IDR10,000.

I chatted with one of the local chef in Jogja the day before and was told that there are many different types of Guged. I am not sure which this one is but the daging sapi (the buffalo meat) is cooked with thick black sweet sauce instead of the coconut milk version I have tasted the first night I was at Jogja. I didn't really like this version as the chicken is also cooked differently. No fried chicken but it was curry chicken which wasn't even spicy.

After breakfast, we went off to Pasar Patuk right at the end of Jalan Gandekan to continue the hunt for sea cucumber. You see, we found 2 Chinese sundry shops selling the tripang (that's sea cucumber), both along Jalan Gandekan. The first shop didn't have much to choose from but the second had many packs but the price wasn't right.

But long story short, after walking in circles looking for tripang, I end up buying some tripang at the second shop; Too Semangat Baru, Jalan Gandekan. I didn't buy them for cheap actually. I bought 10 normal small sized sea cucumber for about IDR540,000. Expensive when I think about it now. *dang* Should have just ordered the 'chu poh sam' back here.

Anyway, when I was at Pasar Patuk, I noticed a lot of Indonesian Chinese there. Many of them speak Mandarin, and they will suddenly turn super friendly if you talk Mandarin.

I saw this lamb head and internals at the market. I was laughed at when the folks there saw me taking pictures ;p

On the way out of the market, I saw a man selling Gandos (IDR2,000). This is a salty type of kuih which is made from grated coconut, coconut milk, and I think rice flour. I was tempted to buy but I didn't as I was still full. Temptation got to me in the end ... I bought them from a man pushing a Gandos cart on the way back to the guesthouse.

We checked out from Setia Kawan at 10.30am. Said my goodbyes (I really miss the people at Setia Kawan!) and left for Surakarta (aka Solo). Took us 2 hours to reach the city and check into Istana Griya (which was not any istana at all). The place was really run down. I miss Setia Kawan!

Anyway, I was really disappointed that we didn't manage to visit Candi Ceto. It is only about 40 minutes away from Solo!

But never mind la. Ended up at the Grand Solo Mall (..or something like that) for lunch. I saw a line at Steak Moen-Moen at the top floor food court. I was told I had to wait for 30 minutes before my chicken chop will be ready. I decided to wait as I noticed everyone seated near to my table were on the waiting list too. Must be some good stuff.

While waiting, I enjoyed Indonesian taufu (IDR6,000 for 6 pieces) which I love love love!

After 40 minutes, my hotplate chicken chop (IDR8,000) with a Teh Botol came. The chicken chop was deep fried in tempura flour and the sauce tasted like the tempura dipping sauce, but only thick and starchy. I'm really confused, there's nothing nice about his chicken chop. I can't understand why everyone was ordering this.

Had to kill time in Solo. Was bored to death stuck in a shopping mall with no good food. I wished I were home at that moment.

My last meal was at KFC. I had a Golden Crispy (IDR5,000) which is just two tiny piece of Hot & Spicy style chicken with cornflakes. The chicken was dry. Eeek! Also had a chicken fillet burger (IDR6,818) which was really depressing because the chicken fillet in the burger was even smaller than the Golden Crispy. The most annoying thing about eating in KFC was the fries. Regular fried for IDR7,727 which is more expensive than my drink, chicken or burger. Absolute ridiculous.

For that, I appreciated the quality of Fast Food in Malaysia.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Day 3 : Still eating at Jogja (Yogyakarta)

Papaya juice and tea. The papaya juice was not bad. They didn't really use fully ripe papaya for the juice so the fragrant was just nice.

The chocolate banana pancake was... as bad as it looks. The flour portion was just flat and bland. I didn't finish this. The banana wasn't fully ripe too but at least the banana was better tasting compared to the pancake (it's not even a pancake actually)

First task of the day for to hunt for sea cucumber. We headed to Pasar Beringharjo, a really huge and a complete traditional market in Jogja. We were there quite early and didn't manage to see much as all the shops were not open yet. We ran around and asked for the sea cucumber which later I found out from a local Chinese lady manning a sundry shop outside the market that sea cucumber was called hoi sem or tripang. It was much easier asking for tripang and timun laut. LOL! The chinese lady directed us to Jalan Gandekan which I noticed is a road filled with Indonesian Chinese.

While walking, I saw a man pushing this Leker cart. This is basically like our apong except there's no soft texture in the middle.

The leker (3 for IDR1,000) was crunchy and tasted ok with the banana and chocolate chips. Just a so so tidbits for me.

We also came across a Bolang-baling stall which sells deep fried flour stuff.

I manage to try one of these cakwe (similiar to the 'yau char kuai') with salty garlic (IDR600) in the middle. One of the nicer stuff I have tried in Jogja. There is also a plain version which sugar is added on top.

For lunch, we stop by Bedhot Resto on the way back our guest house. Jalan Sosrowijaya Wetan GT I/127, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (+274-512452)

I really need the carrot tomato juice (IDR6,000) because I didn't get much sleep and was really heaty.

I needed a change in food so I ordered Bedhot's specialty fusion tempe and taufu burger (IDR15,000) which I absolutely loved! The patty was not as soft as I have expected it to me. It actually tasted a little bit like a mixture of salted shredded chicken and egg!

I really recommend this place. The price is the same compared to eating out at the road side hawkers. Clean, comfortable and cozy... with jazz music playing in the back ground. I really like this place.

Continued with more shopping until dinner time. We stop by at all the road side hawkers along Jalan Sosrowijaya to have dinner.

We came across this Bakso (IDR5,000) stall which looked quite good. Bakso means meatballs by the way. We had fried sapi (buffalo) meatballs, fishballs, fried tofu and fried wan tan thing. There's no table and chairs to eat on when eating along this road side but that didn't change the fact that we like the fried sapi meatballs in the soup! We couldn't get enough of it so we took away a bowl to go (in a plastic of of course).

Oh yes, we added some of the chili in the soup as well to give it the extra spice!

We knew we will not be sleeping that early again tonight so be bought some banana chip coated in coconut sugar (IDR2,500 for 1 ounce) as well to snack on later at night. I still prefer the Malaysian style banana chips as the the type of sugar we use is much more fragrant.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 2 : Street food at Jogja (Yogyakarta)

Sunrises really early in Borobudur. We had to wake up at 4.45am for the 5.30am sunrise. But... hahahahaha we didn't manage to wake on time. We did climb Borobudur again at 7am. Then came back down for breakfast.

Breakfast was provided by Manohara Hotel. A simple American breakfast. The croissant was horrible.

Anyway, we left Borobudur at 10.30am and only arrived at Losmen Setia Kawan at 12noon. I totally dig the guest house! Love the walls and paintings by Bedhots. The place and rooms were well maintained and very clean. A backpackers heaven. (Ok la, maybe no hot water but... it's so HOT already!)

First thing we did after checking in, "Where to eat ah?"

Es dawet (IDR3,000). Es = Ice. LOL! The drink concoction was similar with the cendol that we get in Malaysia. The only difference I noticed was the sugar they use. I just don't think coconut sugar is fragrant enough for this drink.

Es campur durian (IDR6,000) Rock melon and durian together with dawet. The rock melon wasn't ripe so there was no smell from it. Same thing for the durian. Not worth the order.

Bakso daging sapi. Bakso means meatballs in Indonesia. I like the buffalo meatballs but the rest was not nice. The noodles was not cooked enough, the soup just was bland and the shredded meat tasted very though.

The Soto ayam I really like. The soto we get in Malaysia used nasi impit but over in Indonesia is just soup with rice. The soup itself was really good. On top some tofoo, cabbage, chicken and others.

Lime and chili can be added into the rice soup to intensify the flavor. Good stuff.

This pot of yellow bird meat (Chicken, duck and even the pigeon) can be found all over the place. Boiled, then marinated with yellow ginger, then deep fried before serving.... totally awesome stuff. chicken for ayam goreng.

After walking under the hot sun, I decided I needed either a cold drink, or ice cream. Large Mc Donald's cone ice cream (IDR2100) for less than RM1! But I still like Burger King's cone.

Oleh-oleh. Colorful sweeten coconut desert balls. Too sweet, too colorful. Just not for me.

Salak aka Snake skin fruit 'sheh pei kor'. These are all over the place. On the road side and side walk, in the markets, even old ladies coming up to you asking you to try some.

Lumpia. Normal (with vegetables) (IDR1,000) Chicken (IDR1,500) dan with pigeon egg (IDR1,700) This is like our Chinese popia deep fried. Really delicious stuff. This stall is located beside Hotel Mutiara and is also recommended by locals. I noticed the stall because of the crowd eating these around the stall.

After walking all over Malioboro street, we ended up still at Malioboro for dinner. The day time stalls, table and chairs, are all kept a side. Tents are set up and the floor carpeted with thick plastic and long tables with short legs.

Yup, we sat on the floor. Something like tatami style, but this is tatami mamak. Indonesian have a term for this style of eating... kind of forgot. I read this some where on the Lonely Planet book.

I bought the Teh Kotak (IDR2,000), tea in a box earlier at a local supermarket, but decided to order the Teh Botol (IDR4,000), tea in a bottle. LOL! Both tasted the same to me. Sweeten jasmin tea.

Es Jeruk (IDR3,000) which is actually just iced kafir lime juice. Very refreshing.

Gudeg Komplit (IDR16,000) Chicken, egg, tofu, tempeh, fried buffalo skin and completed with rice. They usually sell gudeg with chicken, but if you order the 'komplit' set, you'll get everything. Gudeg is actually boiled and marinated young nangka fruit. (That's the brown stuff you see at the botom of the dish) It didn't taste like fruit to me, tasted more like a type of fish. No bad stuff. The fried buffalo skin is really good too! Tasted a lot like deep fried pork skin actually.

Burung Gara Goreng. (IDR14,000) This small pigeon is also cooked like all the rest of the birds. Boiled, then marinated with yellow ginger juice then deep fried. Small bird with little flesh. I'll stick with the chicken.

After all that heaty food, and all that HOT HOT HOT sun. We chilled out up at the balcony at our guest house and enjoyed Indonesia's local beer, the Bintang beer (IDR7,700) before we hit the bed.

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