Food @ Annapurna Circuit Trek

I am not a big fan of Indian food so I was initially apprehensive about the type of food I will be getting in Nepal. So to be sure that I don’t have to consume Indian or pure Nepalese food everyday, we brought along instant noodles, instant soup and instant porridge. But I was delightfully surprised when our very first day, we saw the menu at the tea house. There was of course Nepalese food but there were also very familiar food like fried rice, fried noodles, pizza, pasta, all sort of soup and bread. Our guide told us this was the typical menu for all the tea houses and we could pick any items from the menu at all the meals. Hooray!

Throughout the 11 days of trekking, our staple for lunch was mainly fried rice or fried noodle. These was because it was the easiest food for the tea house to prepare and the more easily digestible for us being familiar food. They were a hit and miss. Some places, it was well prepared and taste almost like those back home but some places it simply taste weird, especially the way the noodles were cooked.

For dinner when we have more time to wait for our food, we generally ordered more varied variety – like pizza which is just a base of dough with tomato on top and whatever toppings available which is either egg, tuna or vegetable, mushroom or cheese or a mixture..  Not great but still when one is hungry, it tasted really good!

Fried Pasta

One of my favourite was this spring roll – actually looks like chappati with whatever fillings like egg, tuna or vegetable or a mixture. Some places served it deep fried as well.

For breakfast, there was the usual toast with butter and jam spread but there were also other options like Tibetan bread which tasted really great, chappati which comes with egg or plain; pancake and corn bread among others.

This is chappati with fried egg which was real good as the chappati was freshly baked. 

The pancake was not the usual small pieces we get in Singapore but this full plate size giant and it comes with butter and honey. 

However, for us the single most requested food especially at the higher grounds was this simple instant noodles which they cooked in a garlic based broth. The hot soup and the noodles goes down so well in the cold and we have it for a number of breakfast and dinner!

Of course, when in Nepal we have to have Nepalese food and the most popular item was definitely the Dal Bhat, a rice dish served with lentil vegetables and curry and some assorted side dishes. 

My own favourite is the Mo Mo which is similar to our dumpling and comes with either tuna, cheese, potato or vegetable filling and is served either steamed or fried. However, of all the items available, this is the only one that is in my opinion too small a portion for me and I only had it twice although I think it was really great. I even tried to find them in Kathmandu to bring back to Singapore but was unfortunately unsuccessful.

Out in the circuit, they don’t have much fresh meat so our guide generally tell us not to order the meat item but on our way to Manang, we actually had our first taste of Yak meat in the form of a Yak burger! Yak meat is almost similar to beef but I thought they were a bit dry but it was good to have meat for a change.

At Manang, there were bakery and good real coffee – not those black water that pass off for coffee in the tea housesSo despite my initial apprehension, I didn’t starve or had to eat Nepalese or Indian food throughout and because of that, my original target to lose 5 kg for this trip did not materialise despite trekking for so many days!

4 Uniquely Singapore Sandwiches

Some time ago, some “ang mo dude in the United State of Awesomeness~” mocked and dissed one of our beloved sandwich – the delicious heat busting ice cream sandwich that can be found in street corners all over the island and in Malaysia and Indonesia. Now why is it that I am never surprised at the fucked type mentality of these people who thinks they know what is best for the rest of the world never mind that the guy had never even tried it. For those of us who have eaten this, this must surely ranked as one of the best treat whether you out shopping at Orchard Rd, or at the beach or just walking out of the school compound.

Ice Cream

Ice Cream (photo from foodinmouth.com)

That post got me thinking though. Beside ice cream sandwich, we have some other sandwich that is really shiok and unique and which even the Malaysian and Indonesia cannot claim is their heritage food. Here are 4 of the best. For illustration purposes, the photos are taken with a single slice of bread instead of the usual 2 slices.

Pork Floss Sandwich

Most of us are familiar with the pork or chicken floss bun made famous by Breadtalk and now sold in every single bakery in Singapore and other parts of Asia. But before the pork floss bun, there was the Pork Floss sandwich.

Pork Floss

Pork Floss Sandwich

Seen here is crispy pork floss on a single slice of bread. Best eaten together with a thin spread of butter on the bread. I prefer the non crispy floss but the Mrs prefer the Crispy version. Either way this is great for breakfast.

Barbecued Pork Sandwich

Practically every one of us ie the non Muslim must have eaten barbecue pork or bak kwa before. But how many have eaten it between 2 slices of bread?

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Barbecue Pork or Bak Kwa Sandwich

This is one of the best treat when one is out in the trails and doing a long race or ultra. Oh… the kick that you  get from just biting into one mouth of this when you hot and tired after hours and hours of hiking and running. If you never try this before, pack one for your next hike/race. You won’t regret it!

Hae Bee Hiam Sandwich

This is one of my favourite especially if it is my Mum’s version of Hae Bee Hiam or spicy dried prawns. A slightly different twist to this is to use pork instead of Hae Bee.

Hae Bee Hiam

Hae Bee Hiam Sandwich

This is best eaten with the Hae Bee Hiam hot. Spread a thin layer of margarine or butter on the bread. Toast the Hae Bee Hiam if it is not hot. And then spread them liberally on the bread. Best as a tea time snack or even a full meal by itself.

Braised Pork Sandwich

Last but not least, my personal favourite. A big piece of succulent braised pork tucked between 2 slices of bread with just a little bit of the black sauce. This is similar to the Kong Bak Pau that is served at Hokkien restaurant and sometimes funerals.

Braised Pork

Braised Pork Sandwich

I usually eat it with the pork steaming hot and sometime throw in the skin or egg that is usually served together with the pork. Best eaten? Anytime!

What other unique local sandwich have you eaten before?

Chin Mee Chin Confectionery

Probably the last of its kind left in Singapore, Chin Mee Chin Confectionery or CMC as it is popularly called in Katong is a old style Hainanese coffee shop serving beverages and bread served the traditional way.

 

Inside the 2 old style glass cabinets are trays of freshly baked buns

Authentic custard tarts.

And custard buns. These are good. Soft and the custard literally oozes out.

And they sell kaya too. Sickeningly sweet kaya. Damn shiok but don’t eat too much though. Its really really sweet.

Its most famous item has to be the butter kaya bun where instead of the usual 2 slice of white or brown bread, the kaya and butter is spread onto a sweet bun.
And we not talking of a small thin slice of butter either. It is a thick thick slice right on top of the kaya which is spread on both sides of the bun. Yummy.
Another hot favourite of theirs is the lucheon meat bun but it was not available on this occasion.

Go try it if you in the area. Before the old owner retires and the shop makes way for another new style coffee joint.

Food in Kota Kinabalu

Was in Kota Kinabalu a few weeks back and had a great time eating the local street food. We stayed in the Gaya area and there was absolutely the best food around. We went with the flow and ate mostly at the crowded shops although we did dine at some of the not so crowded and we immediately knew why they were not crowded!

Our first stop was dinner at this Bak Kut Teh place. The place was absolutely swamped with people from the minute it opened in the afternoon till it close at night.

This is the typical Malaysia style bak kut teh and comes with all sort of side dishes like pork ball, intestines, livers, stomach etc

Next up was breakfast at this place just across the road from the Bak Ku Teh store. There were 2 stalls inside the coffee shop, one selling Sarawak kolo mee and the other Sarawak style laksa. The kolo mee was the more popular stall. But I thought the laksa was not too bad too.
Kolo mee
Laksa
On the way back from race pack collection, we had lunch at this place that one of the guys recommended. The place was crowded and hot. There were many people ordering the noodles from one of the stall within but we went for the fried noodle stall and sadly the food were so so. Dinner was zhi char food at a shop next to our hotel but it was just passable and so all these shall not get a mention here. 
Breakfast on Sunday was at a dim sum shop. We had dim sum and noodle but these were normal and nothing to rave about. 

The only reason the dim sum shop get a mention and a picture here is that they used those 3-in-1 packet for the teh tarik that we ordered! Either they must be darned proud of their Sabah produced 3-in-1 tea or that is the way tea and coffee are made in the country but I don’t really fancy those commercially produce tea.
For lunch we went to what must be the most famous Western food outlet in town, Little Italy! See we are kinda  weird, we do our carbo loading after the race and not before! Our party had pizza, pasta, salad the usual Italian stuff. Was the food really that good? I guess if there is a scarcity of such food in the country, it will be considered good and of course we wolfed down the food but frankly I think there are better pizza and pasta back home.

Dinner was the highlight for us of course. For both Saturday and Sunday night, we went to this place which we also went during our last visit to KK. The Seri Selera Seafood centre at Kampung Air, a sprawling semi-open place with a few seafood stalls together much like the carpark seafood place, Top Spot Food Court in Sarawak. 

Both nights we were there, we had fish, crab, tofu, prawn, vegetables, beer etc and the food cost us about RM$190 for our first night 3 of us; and around RM450 for 8 of us on the 2nd night. Of course we went to different stall but I believe the prices are thereabout.

The food was not really that great but it was great value for money and when I come back again next year, I will be back eating seafood here. 
We did went to the waterfront where there are another lot of seafood stalls but managed by the Malays. There were barbecue galore but I was disappointed that the seafood were pre-barbecue and left in the open and reheated when somebody ordered them. So in the end I didn’t eat them although our group did ordered a few items to try.
Our last meal in Gaya before we flew home was at another “famous” stall.

This one specialises in a type of kiam chye soup with dry ee-noodles. Sort of like our zhu-zhar tang or pig intestine soup with noodles but without the kiam chye! But this was good or rather, unusual which makes it good and apparently the whole of Sabah seems to agree because it was packed like hell!

So the next time you are in Sabah – go try these few stalls. No regrets!

Pullman Bakery

Cream Curry Bread (photo from Pullman Bakery’s FB)

Another ‘Japanese’ bakery has hit our shore. Sick of Barcook, Provence or Oishii? Try the original Japanese bakery all the way from Hokkaido, Japan.

The famous Pullman bakery has opened an outlet at Millenia Walk though I wonder why there of all places. But then again because it is there, there wasn’t such a long queue as compared to say Barcook with its perpetual queue.

Mini Croissant (photo from Pullman Bakery’s FB)

So what is nice? Like all Japanese bakery, it has the cream cheese bun but it specialty is the Curry Bread. So I bought that and the red bean bun which looks good too. How did they taste? Not too bad. But what I like best was the mini croissant. At $0.40 a pop, it wasn’t really cheap but damn, it went in damn well.

Mooshi Bakes

Went by this bakery at East Coast, thought the place looks interesting and went back after lunch for a look see look see. Turned out it belongs to the people from Awfully Chocolate and was actually a 3 in one outlet comprising the Awfully Chocolate which had relocated from Katong Mall; JooJoo (what an unimaginative name!) which sells yakitori and finally the bakery which attracted my attention, Mooshi Bakes.

Was awed into silence when I saw their cream puff was priced at $3.90! Now what type of cream puff is worth that price? Of course, curiosity sufficiently piqued, went back after work and bought 1 cream puff plus an assortment of other breads to try.

The cream puff was fairly big and filled with lots and lots of errr very creamy cream. Ha ha I know it sounds kind of crappy but that was really the only way to describe it. In fact, I asked for it to be taken away and eaten there and then but the staff insisted on putting it inside a beautiful white box claiming the cream will squirt all over. In the end not daring to having cream on my shirt, I took it home to share it with the family. Their unanimous verdict? Yummy! So how come half of it is still in the fridge? While it is nice, I think it is a tad too big and creamy and would have been nicer if it was half its size.

The other pastry that impressed my colleagues the previous day was the Mooshi Mooshi – a bun like version of the raisin cream cheese bun made famous by Barcook Bakery. Yes this one was good. Not too creamy and with just a wee bit of raisin.

The other one that I liked was the Gooey, a cheesed topped cinnamon bun. It looks a bit yucky but I am a big sucker for cinnamon so yummy. Trouble is, it cost $1.90 each which sounds like a hell lot to pay for a bun.

This picture from http://life-bite.blogspot.com/

With so many so called ‘Japanese’ specialty bakery sprouting all over, I seriously wonder how long this outlet with its much higher price buns will survive. But I really hope I will be proven wrong though.