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!

Cheap and Good – Chef Ron

People who said our hawker food culture is dying is being proven wrong as evidenced by the number of young hawkers sprouting up in our food centre and especially at Amoy and Maxwell.

But generally most of these young hawkers tend to come up with some more interest modern food like Noodle Story and Different Taste at Amoy but over at Maxwell Chef Ron is sticking to traditional food like braised pork and chicken and his signature, Ipoh Curry Mee.

I had tried the braised chicken previously when it first opened. It was good but not fantastic. In fact I remarked to him that his fried chicken wing for the nasi lemak look so uninspiring. Well, since then he has gone on to create more items and seems to have hit it off with his Ipoh Curry Mee.

Since I have not tasted any original Ipoh curry me, I have no basis for comparison but I do like his version. It comes with char siew, roast pork and chicken. There was a hint of mint which I felt gave a nice balance to the food. And there are plenty of towgay just the way Ipoh food should be like.

Each bowl of curry mee cost only $4 but honestly the serving wasn’t that big. So to keep my stomach happy, I added on a kong bak pau and I must admit, this has got to be one of the best kong bak I ever had!

Judging from the many favourable reviews on social media and the web, their food is a hit although I didn’t see that many customers.  Blame it on the ongoing construction work for the MRT where the hoardings are keeping people away.  What a pity but good for me since there is no queue.

Good but not so Cheap – Gyu Nami

Amoy Street Food Centre is fast becoming a start up for young food hawkers. The latest to join the line up is Gyu Nami, a Japanese Donburi stall set up by 2 cousins or that what I was told.

They served only 1 item – Wagyu Beef Donburi. At $10.00 a bowl, it is not cheap by hawker food standard. The rice serving portion is also rather small as evidenced from the small bowl. But what does not lack for is slice and slice of Wagyu Beef cooked medium well. There is also an Onsen egg and a bit of vegetables. The whole thing is topped with a rather interesting tasting sauce which I figured got mayo and some other stuff which I cannot identified.

Once again, not cheap for a food centre lunch but definitely value for money!

Tian Lai Seafood Garden @ Gelang Patah

Gelang Patah has a few nice dining place. One of them is Star Chef Restaurant. The other is Tian Lai Seafood Garden. I been to Tian Lai twice and so far I been pretty impressed by the quality and quantity of the food served and at Malaysian prices too. Not inflated tourist price.

Their house special is the Pork Rib Curry. This is like a cross between Japanese curry and rendang. It come served is a claypot and the pork ribs are stewed until so tender that they are almost like mutton rendang.

I understand their fish are very fresh but we have made it a habit not to order fish for dinner as they are usually overpriced. Instead we have everyone’s favourite, crab! Black pepper crab.

Not very nice looking but taste is real good. Almost like the Still Road black pepper crab.

Other items that are real good are their hotplate tofu and sambal kangkong. These basic zhi zhar staples are well executed and is a must have side dish.

Prices are very reasonable despite the quality and quantity. Service is good depite the place being packed or at least it was the last 2 time I was there. 

Cheap and Good – Taste Affair at Amoy

A few months ago, a new stall opened on the 2nd floor of the Amoy Food Centre.It was next to Han Kee Fish Soup and the stall front was permanently blocked by the long queue for the fish soup. It didn’t help that the stall facade was a bit boring and didn’t inspire anyone to patronise the stall. Which was  a pity. I noticed it only because I am a regular at Han Kee.

So one day I had a try. Business was slow and the 2 young men manning the stall came out to have a chat with me and asked about the food. Taste Affair sells “European cuisine” which is actually our usual pasta and grilled chicken but with a twist. I remembered I ordered some angel hair pasta, the chicken and this came with some side of vegetables and a nice poached egg. Unfortunately it also came on a disposable box and they have only plastic cutlery. The food was actually pretty good and when queried about the disposables, the 2 young men explained that the paper box tray was actually made from recycled sugar cane pulp. They have to use disposable as otherwise they will not be able to manage the washing. Which was a great shame as the food was seriously good.

The next round I had the favoured rice which was actually saffron rice. I still prefer the angel hair pasta though.

Every time I queued up for the fish soup, I could see the 2 young men standing around. Not many customers. Poor thing.  And then somewhere in mid March, a string of reviews from food blogger came out and wham, business seems to pick up overnight. Sometime at 1.45 pm, they had already sold out for the day! And if not, there was invariably a short queue.

When I finally got a chance to eat it, I discovered that fame has brought about some changes. For one, they no longer use disposable! Yay! And there seems to be more option now.Business according to one of the young man, had picked out 4 folds since the reviews came out and humble man that they are, they did not unlike other stalls paste them all over the facade. Instead I think they rather let the food speaks for itself.

And at between $5.00 to $8.00, it is a steal. Pity about the heat though… now if only they can change that as well:)

K Tower @ Amoy Street

Seems like the latest food fad to hit us or at least relatively new fad to me is the Korean seafood tower. Ever since Captain K opened, I was like waiting for a good occasion to gather a few people to go but somehow that never came. Finally K-Tower opened just 2 streets behind my office and I knew I have to go and try and see what the excitement is about. So 8 of us gathered one night and off we went.

The Korean Food Tower is like our Dim Sum just that instead of bamboo steamer trays, they have big metal steamers. And instead of dainty little dim sum, there were seafood and more seafood. Typically one can order different tower “height” of food depending on the number of diners. With 8 of us, we ordered the $298.00 9-tier Towers set which look like this.

The food came together pre-cooked and the steamers are just for show actually. But still we had a blast with the tower. First item on the tower was the steamed prawn.

All of us were unanimous in our verdict. The prawns were so fresh and sweet!

Next up was a tray of sea cucumber and dumplings. 

The sea cucumber looks weird. Maybe not the typical type we find here but the Korean version.

Next was clams and mussels in one tray.

Followed by a big fish

Then came the highlight of the night. 2 big lobsters which the server very helpfully cut it up into smaller pieces for us.

After the lobster, 2 big crabs.

The last tray is actually a soup base. There is a choice of different type of soup and the server recommended the Army Stew. The whole idea about the Korean Tower is that the juices from the top tray will flow down onto the bottom and eventually to the soup base making it very sweet. Which it was. However, the soup base doesn’t come with any ingredients and we had to order a tray of the usual steamboat stuff.

In addition, we also had a side dish of chicken wings and oyster

Everything was great and that include the kimchi which was one of the best I ever tasted.

All of us left very full and satisfied. Service was great too.And considering the amount of food we had, it still work out to an affordable $60 per person.