Friday, December 22, 2006

Goo Bak Koay Teow (Beef Noodle Soup)

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

Yesterday, my dad, the bf and I went to have my beloved Goo Bak Koay Teow for lunch. I have been craving this dish for some time but have usually managed to "trick my stomach and taste buds" by eating Vietnamese Pho. This dish is quite similar to pho but the soup is slightly thicker in consistency and there is a slight variation in the seasoning. The noodles served with this dish is called koay teow (lit. cake strips) made with rice flour, tapioca starch and water. The consistency of the noodles is similar to that of pho rice noodles but it is cut into wider strips and has a "springier" bite to it.

This stall sells the best Goo Bak Koay Teow on Penang Island (my opinion and the bf's actually coincide) and we have been eating there for years. The stall is located at the junction of Beach Street and Chulia Street, opposite the Fire Station. I was surprised that the lady operating the stall still recognized me and she called out the Hokkien equivalent of, "Long time no see" as we arrived. We also met a family friend who happened to stroll into the shop for a nice bowl of noodles and we all ordered 3 small portions (RM6 each) and 1 large portion (RM8) with extra liao (ingredients).

The small portion came with koay teow, bean sprouts, tripe, slices of rare beef, tendons and one beef ball (the bak wan kind, not bull testicles....pheew). Also floating in the soup was crouton-like, deep fried chunks of pork fat ( bak ew phok). This probably contributed to the overall deliciousness of the dish. Kicked it up a notch, so to speak.

The slick, chewy noodles were swimming in a flavorful beef broth ( I tasted coriander, star anise, cinnamon and spring onions), surrounded by savory morsels of beef (from all different parts of the cow). Not a dish for the weak but utterly heavenly.

The Goo Bak Koay Teow was everything that I dreamt of and more. How not to be happy in Penang? How? How? How?

Beef Soup Koay Teow or Goo Bak Koay Teow
Located at the junction of Beach Street and Chulia Street, opposite the Fire Station.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I am in Penang!!!

Up in the clouds

The journey did not start out great.

I missed my flight out of Milwaukee to O'Hare. Stupid United Airlines did not deign to inform me that my flight was moved up and I arrived at the airport just a little too late to board. How could this happen? I guess, the answer is that it could only happen to me.

Luckily, my champion of a friend who had given me a lift to the airport saved the day by driving me from Milwaukee to Chicago in rush hour traffic and I arrived in time for my connection to Japan. I had already not slept for 24 hrs even before starting my journey and now, waiting at the check in counter at O'Hare while the airline groundstaff swiped my passport again and again, all the while looking puzzled did not help to stabilize my emotions. I thought that they were going to say that my passport was defective and I could not travel. My friend took a look at my face and started patting my head. Finally, they figured out the problem and I was on my way.

The flight from Chicago to Narita was uneventful. In fact, it was pretty darned good. I think that taking Japan Airlines was a good choice given that the route was better (decreased number of connections and layover time) and the price was fair. The food was not too bad as well. Naturally I didn't eat much due to the anticipation of gobbling down authentic Penang food. My favorite airline is still Singapore's SIA but I guess poor beggars cannot be choosers.

I had to switch seats on the flight from Narita to Singapore because I was sitting next to this guy who was reeking of stale cigarette smoke. I was practically gagging as the plane took off. I quietly explained the situation to the stewardess who was alarmed by the greenish tinge of my complexion as not to embarrass the poor guy sitting next to me. Much to my dismay, the empty seat that she choose to place me in belonged next to the girlfriend of this guy!!! Alamak! In the end he'll find out that he was so smelly that I could not even sit next to him. I covered my face and slept for the entire journey.

As the plane touched down in Changi Airport, my heart began to pound in excitement. I was traveling on Business Class from Singapore to Penang, thus giving me access to the premier class lounge for 8 hours. Finally, a place to take a shower, eat and sleep laying down. It was really heaven after such a long journey. I could even check my email and make some phone calls.

The koi pond and Chinese garden at Singapore's Changi International Airport, an oasis of serenity amidst a bustling, noisy airport.

It was my first time flying business class and it was such a fabulous experience. I MUST do it more often. Finally, I did touch down in Penang International Airport. My dad and the bf were waiting to greet me at the gate AND my baggage BOTH made it. That's a pretty sweet ending compared to the sour beginning.

What a looooong journey!!! It's so good to be finally home at last.

A big shout out to my friend Andi Dodol for driving my ass to Chicago. I owe you big time!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

2 More Days

I am desperately counting down days until I board that first flight in a series of flights that would take me home to Penang. Isn't it funny that as much as I am looking forward to it, I am also dreading the passage of time. I fear that I would blink and before I knew it, I would find myself on a plane heading from Penang to Milwaukee, my long awaited holiday---over. I guess time does fly when you're having fun but I am just afraid that it would be another year before I see my beloved family, friends and hometown again.

Is that not ridiculous for someone who had ONE more day of work AND still more packing to do before leaving in 2 days? I think I need to see a psychiatrist.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Peach Bun

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

It's almost too cute to eat. Warm lotus seed center encased in a soft chewy mantou-like dough and hand painted to represent a peach. Delish!! Anyone know what it's called in Chinese?

I know it is supposed to represent longevity and is usually served on birthdays. I remember holding on to one when I was really little on my Lai-Choh's (paternal great-grandmother) birthday dinner because it was so pretty.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pizza attack!

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

When it's really cold outside and you don't even want to step out of the apartment to hunt for sustenence, what do you do?

We ordered pizza. This is one thing REALLY nice about living in service. I know we have delivery service in Malaysia too but it's only from the atas restaurants and pizza joints. You can go to your favorite char koay teow Ah Pek but will your char koay teow Ah Pek come to you? Here, tons and tons of food are available for delivery and it's so much easier to make a phone call and have food sent to your doorstep than to trudge through snow and ice to get it.

I had a free hand at ordering the pizza because the bf bravely promised that he would eat anything that I ordered.

So I ordered a large pineapple and anchovy pizza.
Ok, I was kidding. I actually ordered a pizza with meatballs and breaded, deep fried eggplant. He he he.....with fresh garlic. It even came with a bottle of coke because we had a free coupon.

Verdict? I liked it. Garlic...yumm, eggplant...good, meatballs.....delish.
The bf ate it but did not think it would win any awards. And then he ate 3 more pieces!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fortune Restaurant

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

It was on a snowy Monday night that my god-parents, the bf and I decided to head over to Fujiyama for some of the fine half priced sushi. Hoping that the restaurant was less packed than usual due to the bad weather, we trundled towards Fujiyama's doors only to find that there were many other sushi enthusiasts who were undaunted by the weather. Unbelievable! There was a 30 to 45 min wait to eat COLD food in winter (20 degree Farenheit weather and snowing to boot!) I thought only Penang people were that siow makan ( food crazy).

We decided not to wait and headed off the our favorite Chinese restaurant just across the street called Fortune Restaurant (West Allis).

Fortune serves some of the best Chinese food this side of the pond and is always busy, no matter the time of day. Fortunately, it was not as packed as Fujiyama and we were shown to a table immediately. It used to be that the service there was horrendous but nobody cared because the food was so good. Ever since I got adopted by my god parents who have been patronizing the restaurant for years, the service has improved tremendously and the wait staff has been nothing but nice. It pays to know the right people, I guess.

I had the privilege of ordering the food that night and all these dishes are tried and true palate pleasers. Oh one more thing, Fortune has 2 different menus. There is an American menu (read, fake crappy dishes like moo goo gai pan, chop suey, General Tso's chicken and other so called 'Chinese' dishes that I've never even heard off before coming to the US) and then there is the Chinese menu, pages and pages filled with exotic ingredients like tripe, salted fish and even jellyfish. I ALWAYS recommend ordering off the Chinese menu, even though you have no idea what it is. Regardless, will always taste good. So what if you get a dish with some exotic elements? Life (and dinner) is more fun when you're being adventurous and spontaneous. I am just kidding, the wait staff is always happy to recommend authentic dishes and identify suspicious looking ingredients/parts.

We had 5 dishes for 4 persons:

Beef tenderloin in Black Pepper Sauce: The dish came on a sizzling hot plate that launched a fragrant cloud of black pepper flavored steam into the air. It was just a pleasure sniffing the air in the booth.

Stir-fried Clams with Spicy Black Bean Sauce: A family favorite. It's a little spicy so for those of you who cannot take the heat, have a glass of cold water ready. For me, it's a just perfect counterbalance to the cold weather outside.

Hong Sue Tofu with Vegetables: Deep fried tofu with Chinese mushroom, bamboo shoots, pea pods and char siew (BBQ pork) in a savory garlic sauce.

Eggplant with Chicken and Salted Fish Cooked in a Claypot (acquired taste): It took me years to even touch, much less like salted fish, and I grew up in Asia! Now, I can't get enough of it. Isn't the purple color of the eggplant just gorgeous?

Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice: I kid you not. The taste of this dish is amazing. The rice was fried so well that each morsel of rice was coated evenly with seasoning and released such a fragrant aroma when chewed. The texture of the rice was perfectly al dente, with perfectly interspersed tiny pieces of chicken, salted fish, egg and crunchy lettuce.

We had plenty of leftovers to take home for another kick-ass meal. I just can't wait to warm up food containing salted fish in the microwave at work. Won't that be FUN?

Fortune Restaurant (West Allis)
2945 S 108th St
Milwaukee, WI 53227
(414) 328-9890

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Nissin Udon Style Seaweed Noodles

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

I was craving something simple for dinner after eating a huge rich Chinese meal yesterday at Fortune (will blog about it soon). Somehow, my mind equated simple=instant noodles. Yummy! My grandmother has always told me that if I ate too much 'maggi mee', my hair would start falling out. I think it's an old wives tale based on the high content of salt and preservatives in the soup base but it has served its purpose in controlling my intake of the noodles. I guess I could hear her reminder in my head every time I reached for a packet of noodles, even after so many years living abroad. Gasp! The brainwashing was very successful.

Here are some pics of my Nissin brand, udon style seaweed flavored noodles. I added some extra dried Chinese seaweed for extra oomph. Also threw in an egg to boost protein intake (like I am so protein deficient). You can also throw in some surimi (imitation crabsticks), squid or mussels for a seaweed/seafood flavor explosion. Bam! Bam! Bam!

Below is a close up view of my noodles

Doesn't it look good? Washed down with a nice hot cup of Japanese green tea.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Brussel sprouts

I went to the grocery store today and saw a familiar vegetable displayed in an unfamiliar manner. I didn't know that brussel sprouts grew on stalks. Has anyone else seen this?(ok-maybe this question is only for Malaysians in Malaysia) Or am I that sua-ku?

I had my camera on me so I quickly and covertly took pictures. And looked up to see another shopper staring at me like I was insane. The bf had already deserted me as soon as I pulled out the camera. I think he thinks that I am damn sio-sia (embarrasing to be with or disgraceful).

Isn't that weird? It's like bugs on a stick.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Winter Snow Storm

As I was driving to work yesterday afternoon at 4:45pm, I heard on the radio that we were going to get 6-10 inches of snow by the next morning. At work, I was told that a severe snow storm warning had been issued and the predicted snowfall was 10-12 inches. It was expected to start snowing at midnight. I kept warning all my patients to go straight home and stay there before the bad weather started.

When I left work at 3:50am this morning, the sky was still clear with no sign of snow. My colleague who was walking out with me predicted that the storm had probably changed directions and would probably miss us. I drove out of the parking structure. The radio announcer said that he just stepped out of the building and from what he observed, people should wake up a little earlier and be ready to use the snow shovel. I also remembered thinking that he must be on crack. The sky was completely clear!

Not 3 mins later, flakes started to fall. Tiny flakes turned into big flakes, big flakes turned into puffy snow and I started to drive faster. As I got onto the highway, gusts of white stuff was blowing everywhere! It went from clear skies to a full blown blizzard within minutes. By the time I got home, snow was already accumulating on the ground.

This was what the East Side looked like this afternoon when I woke up at 2pm:

Mounds of white stuff on the ground. I am so glad I didn't have to go to work today!!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Beans and Barley

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

I woke up last Saturday at 1:30pm and was surprised to find the day still sunny and warm. It was a perfect day to visit a favorite neighborhood café for a relaxing brunch before heading in to work at 5pm. Beans and Barley is a small specialty grocery store/deli that sold health foods and some organic produce. It also has a small café with approximately 20-25 tables within a glass conservatory. I love the atmosphere in the café as it is always sunny and warm. It’s perfect for a relaxing meal and catching up with old friends.

On a nice day like this, I like to take a slow stroll from my place to the café but because I was too lazy I had to go to work later, I decided that we should drive there. Beans and Barley serves a wonderful selection of breakfast/brunch dishes including Whole Wheat Pancakes (elect to add blueberries!), thick sliced Almond French Toast, Pesto Scrambled Eggs and their 3-egg Omelettes (choose from Fine Herbs or Vegetable). I was practically salivating at the thought of a 3-egg vege omelette with extra turkey meat. The café serves a huge selection of vegetarian dishes and only two kinds of meat: turkey and chicken. Carnivores would feel out of place here.

Unfortunately, there was a wait when the bf and I got to the café and brunch was over by the time we were seated. I was about to bawl because I could almost taste my omelette in my mouth. Deflated, but not defeated, I decided to have the Chicken Pine Nut Sandwich while the bf had the Hummus and Vegetable Pockets.

First, I started off with a nice calming pot of black tea with milk.

After we ordered, I started fooling around with the camera and took these pics:

Then the food came:

We shared a bowl of Vegetarian Chili as an appetizer. The chili (a stew-like dish made with chili powder, beans and traditionally, meat) came with a choice of either raw onions or cheese as a topping. I thought that the pungent aromatic bulb added a nice crunchy texture to the chili but its strong aroma completely overpowered the meatless chili stew. What can I say, I like meat!

The Hummus and Vegetable Pockets: Toasted pita bread stuffed with baby spinach, tabouli, sliced tomato and cucumber, alfalfa sprouts and dollop of hummus, served with tahini dressing. It was deliciously crunchy and refreshing. Hummus, made from mashed chickpeas, olive oil and sesame seed paste is very high in protein, fiber and mono-unsaturated fat. Thus, it’s very filling, making it the food of choice when I am on a diet and trying to get more bang for calories consumed.

The bf couldn’t wait for me to set the white balance on the camera and took a chunk off the side of this pita pocket.

The Chicken Pine Nut Sandwich: A cold sandwich made with 2 slices of French bread, sliced tomato, lettuce and stuffed with a chicken salad made with lemon-shallot mayo and pine nuts. I was disappointed with the quality of my sandwich. The bread tasted and looked like day old Wonder bread and the chicken meat was dry and tough. I have had this sandwich previously at Beans and Barley and it has never tasted like this. I wonder if this was a fluke or if the quality of the food has declined. The bf’s pita pocket tasted good though and I ended up eating a lot of his food.

Both dishes at a glance

All in all, it was an enjoyable experience because of the relaxing ambience and nice wait staff.

The bill came up to RM76.96. What kind of meal can I get for that kind of money in Msia? Anyone volunteering to go makan-makan with me when I am back in Penang?

We left the café as the sun was setting. It signaled the end of a beautiful day and the beginning of another long night for me at work.


(414) 278-7878 VOICE
(414) 278-7800 MENU INFO

NOW OPEN 8:00 A.M. - 9:00 P.M.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

*&@$%$ Road Runner! I lost my post

I spent one and a half hours of precious time writing a post and it got eaten up by the evil internet connection failure. Frustrated does not even begin to describe how I feel right now. Damn you stupid road runner!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

State of the Art Hot Dog Cooker

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

This post is not for the faint-hearted or easily offended people. Warning, potentially offensive material below. I received this picture from a forwarded e-mail and was caught off guard when I saw the pic. The title of the e-mail was the same as the title of this post. I was laughing so hard, I almost fell off my chair. If the bf had been around, he would have thought that I was mad. Okay-lah, who am I kidding, the bf knows that I'm mad.

Without further ado, I give you the creative achievements of some really bored people......

With ref to above quote from Brillat-Savarin, "Hot dog anyone?"

Best of all, the email was forwarded to me by my dad!

p/s I would like to give credit to whoever took this picture. It's brilliant.

Thanksgiving Teaser

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

I was invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with my god-sister's in-laws last Thursday. Boy, it was such a magnificent feast! Her in-laws are both very creative, artistic, gracious and most importantly NICE people that I felt so honored to be invited. I was a little apprehensive about asking permission to take pictures because I did not want to be rude but the spread was so beautiful that I finally had to ask. Little did I know that Mrs. A* had already read my blog and she okayed the Thanksgiving post. Unfortunately, my camera's batteries died.

I was so bummed out until my god-brother offered me the use of his camera and I snapped tons of pics. I'll post them up when he sends them to me. It will be worth the wait.

My stomach was so happy after that huge meal. Thanks so much Mr and Mrs A.* It really feels great to be a part of such a wonderful family.

*Names abbreviated for privacy purposes

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Casino Royale

The name's Bond, James Bond.

Went to watch the new 007 movie last night with the bf and my godparents. Despite my initial skepticism, it was really good. And the airport scene also explains why I temporarily lose my suitcases every year while flying home. @%#* you, terrorists and secret agents.

My initial reluctance to watch the movie stemmed from my inability to digest a blond Bond. However, shortly after the opening credits, I saw him in action and my jaw dropped. This guy is good. And HOT. He makes Pierce Brosnan look like a sissy-boy. And I like Pierce Brosnan! I have always wanted to see Hugh Jackman be cast as Bond but then again, I'm totally biased. I'd see Hugh Jackman in anything...the man can sing, act and dance. More importantly, he kicks ass, sprouts metal blades from his knuckles and kills vampires. Can you beat that? The only way to defeat this hero is by proclaiming, "I am a Scientologist" This trumps everything.

Jumped on couches lately? It's okay, just say, " I'm a Scientologist"

Insulted any depressed post-partum women lately? It's okay if you're a Scientologist

The press hounding you for making stupid, chauvinist statements after CCTV operators focused on the thighs of female journalists instead of the Penang Municipal City Council meeting proceedings? "If the dress was not sexy, the incident would not have happened" Instead of blaming the decently dressed journalist, the Penang Municipal Council president Datuk Abu Bakar Hassan should have replied, "We're Scientologists" Would have worked out better for him, I think.

Okay, I am getting out of hand. Back to the Bond movie.....spoiler alert. Stop reading now if you have not watched the movie.

This Bond is more testosterone laden and athletic compared to all the other Bonds, barring Sean Connery's. He's quick to react, unafraid to take risks but most impressively, pauses at times to assess the situation and THINK. Beauty and brains= I like. Craig's juggernaut-like Bond contributes to propelling the movie's momentum from the get go. It hit the ground running, so to speak. Just look at this man, he gets my blood running.

I particularly enjoyed the clever dialog, especially between Eva Green's Vespar and Craig's Bond. The scene on the luxury train to Montenegro was well crafted. During Vespar and Bond's verbal exchange, we witness a crack in his impassive facade and catch a glimpse of vulnerability as well. Vespar uses her sarcasm and beauty as armor and could have come off as a total bitch if not for her ready smile which comes off looking sincere. She laughs at others but more so at herself, as though she was only playing a role. We later find out that she is.

Casino Royale allows its audience to see the man behind the mask that is James Bond, to see that for all his amazing abilities, he is only a man. This Bond feels, he loves and he screams in pain as his family jewels are walloped over and over again. As soon as I figured out what Le Chiffre was going to do with the rope, I could not stop a very loud, "OWWW" from escaping in the theater. This prompted laughter from some members of the audience. Sorry people. In this situation, the usual silent stoic Bond would have been unrealistic.

Besides the great scenery and background locations (hello, Mr White's castle in Montenegro), those were the best parts of the movie. They kinda lost me a little during the sappy falling-in-love scenes.

Also disturbing was the realization that I was more upset upon seeing the destruction of Bond's Aston Martin (what a gorgeous car!!) than watching people get killed. I was like, "Noooo...... don't harm the car" This is a testament to the prevalence of violence in movies, mirroring the escalation of violence in today's society. I am reminded daily at work.

I also like to pick apart movie plots and nothing bothers me more than loose ends or gaps in the plot/logic. Pleasantly, there were only a few things that bothered me while watching the film:

  1. The scene where Bond goes to the Bahamas to track the originator of the 'ELLIPSIS' text message. He has the exact time when the message was sent so he goes to the security room of the beach club and searches the security camera archives for the suspect. Clever no? Then he correctly picks the one camera that was focusing on the driveway of the club. Wow. Then he fast forwards the film to the exact time that the message was sent, and sees the suspect coming out of his car and handing the keys to the valet. Brilliant right? Wait, how do you send a text message and valet your car at the same time? I'm not that talented personally so I think this scene's logic is flawed.
  2. After Bond was poisoned with digitalis (we were informed in the movie), he was instructed to use the defibrillator to shock himself. Unless, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) guidelines changed on me, you cannot shock unless you are in ventricular fibrillation (V-fib) or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (pulseless V-tach), at which time you would not be talking. It's called a cardiac arrest for a reason. And he was certainly not there yet according to the scanner rhythm shown, so the machine would not even work! This is to protect people from getting shocked by accident-something that can actually trigger cardiac arrest. It definitely made more sense when Eva Green shocked him when she found him unconscious. I'm sure there were at least a few ACLS instructors, paramedics, nurses, physician assistants and doctors that cringed at that scene. This is also why the bf does not watch medical shows with me.
  3. Why did Vespar have to die? If she was innocent and was coerced into betraying Bond, why didn't she fight to live? She knew that Bond loved her and proved it by struggling to save her even after she betrayed him. That's just selfish man.

All this aside, it was still a great movie and I'd definitely watch it again. I would give up 4 plates of Char Koay Teow (fried noodles) for this movie. Five plates of Char Koay Teow for Mr Daniel Craig. Yummmy!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fun times at Fujiyama

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

Every weekend, I look forward to Monday night. Why? Am I mad? Don't I get the Monday blues? No!....thanks to Fujiyama's Half-Price Sushi Night. I got excited last Sunday night at work and told my co-worker about my gastronomic plans to which she replied, "Oh no, it's going to gastroenteritis night" Haha...maybe for the weak but my Penang-trained cast iron stomach is strong. And also, Fujiyama serves very fresh seafood. Trust me, I'm Asian :) God, I love that line.

So, the bf dutifully makes a reservation for two persons after I crashed into bed at 10:30 am. I had the worst nights ever at work and came home two and a half hours late. I awoke with a start at 6 pm after sleeping the day away and panicked, thinking that we were late for our reservation. The bf kindly told me not to get my knickers in a bunch and that our dinner reservation was for 8pm. Apparently, Fujiyama does not take reservations on Monday nights from 6pm to 8pm.

Fujiyama Restaurant

Despite having reservation, we had to wait a little while to be seated. The restaurant was crowded as usual. Woe to you if you do not have a reservation. You need to wait your turn, competing with other walk-ins as well as wait for the people who have reservations to be seated first. When finally ushered to our table, the bf and I pounced on the menu. Our attentive waiter appeared almost immediatly and took our order. As usual, we ordered too much. We used to order a lot of individual nigiri pieces off the half price menu (USD 1 to1.50 per piece) but the brilliant bf figured out that we'd get a lot of bang for our back if we ordered the rolls (priced at USD 3 to 6 per roll-usually cut up into 6 pieces). I started ordering first. After I was done, the waiter asked, "Anything else? This is to share right?" I shamefacedly told him that this was only my order. The bf had yet to order. The look he gave me was priceless.

Then, he managed to catch himself and said that I was a good thing that we were ordering a lot because the new rules set by the management didnot allow add-on items after the initial order had been placed. This, I thought was rather strange but apparently it's to dissuade people from lingering too long at a meal. What if I was still hungry? I did not worry too much about the new ruling as it seemed rather improbable, if not outright impossible that I would be hungry after the mammoth amount of sushi I just ordered. While waiting for our meal, I played around with the camera. The bf just whinged about being hungry. See, if he ate as often as I did, he wouldn't be starving all the time. Sheesh....

The impressive menu, which we ignored that night

Trying to be artistic. The bf and I had a chopstick holder folding competition.

The half price menu on the left vs the normal menu on the right

Close up of the ninja roll, accompanied by some pink pickled ginger. Does anyone know why it's pink? (forgot what's in it)

This is half of the bf's order. Clockwise from top:
  • 3 pieces of tako (octopus)
  • California roll
  • Spicy tuna roll
  • Eel and avocado roll
  • Boston roll

Followed by:
  • Spider roll
  • Dragon roll
  • Ninja roll
  • Rainbow roll
And then my order came:
  • Spicy tuna roll
  • California roll
  • Dragon roll
  • Inari (beancurd skin)
  • Masago (flying fish roe)
  • Ninja roll
  • Spider roll

And we ate it all.

Ok, I lied. We tar pow-ed (doggy bagged in Cantonese) it home. I had sushi for breakfast and dinner. I think the bf did not eat lunch the next day :)

Oh yes, we also had green tea ice cream for dessert but I was too full to reach for the camera. The ice cream was okay only but due to the lack of availability of green tea flavored ice cream, I gave in to temptation. The best green tea ice cream is made by Haagen Dazs but is unavailable here in the US or at least, the Midwest. This is a real shame.

What can I say? I love eating and sushi.

Fujiyama Restaurant
2916 S 108th St

Milwaukee, 53227

(414) 755-1988

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Can't Wait To Go Home

I have been running around for the past few days, partially in preparation to go back to Penang (please read: buying presents) I had the past 3 days off, will work one day tomorrow evening and then have three days off (including Thanksgiving day). After that, all hell will break loose and I will be working like a fiend to maximize my shifts before flying back to Penang. Yes, I'll be working right until the day before I leave. Then I am going to collapse into a comatose state until I reach Singapore. I will be determined not to eat on the flight, okay, will tell the truth, determined not to eat a lot on the flight so that when I land in Penang soil, my family can cart me to the nearest hawker center and shove food down my gullet to revive me.

Last year, on my Singapore to Penang trip, I declined the 'generic airplane crap' that MAS serves and caught incredulous looks from the passengers sitting next to me. They probably thought that I was mad because I didn't even take the food that I had already paid for. I thought that they were mad because they were wasting stomach space on crappy airplane food when delicious Penang food was only minutes away. I will be saving my stomach for your culinary splendor, dear Penang Island.

For those of you who are not acquainted with this charming little island, it's my beloved hometown, located off the north-western coast of Peninsula Malaysia. See Penang on Wiki. Penang is a food paradise and has spawned millions of food snobs, including myself. When I was living in Penang, I would rather skip the meal than eat bad tasting or sub-standard food. Living or rather, eating there was a real luxury. Living in the Midwest has brought me down a peg or two. But I would still rather not eat 'Penang' food at all than to cheat my tastebuds with non-authentic fare. Anyone can identify with this quirk? I'd rather wait a year and then hentam the real thing.

The typical greeting when meeting friends and strangers alike is, "Have you eaten yet?" or in Hokkien (the most commonly spoken chinese dialect), "Chiak pa liao boay?" If you answer in the affirmative, it would inevitable lead to an interrogation of what, where and when you ate. Many discussions that have started out amiably have ended in arguments about where the best places to eat are. Say no and your friends/hosts/strangers would either tell you the best places to eat or simply drag you off for a meal.

Every Penangite thinks that they know where to find the best food. Ironically enough, nobody can come to a consensus. The bf and I often disagree on where to eat the best Char Koay Teow on the island. My favorite stall is at Song River while the bf likes the one in New Lane. This time, for the sake of my blog, I will attempt to find the best places to eat authentic Penang staples and complile a 'best of' list (which will probably be challenged by most Penangites) I don't care, get your own blog if you disagree with MY list. I will work hard, sacrifice my figure, grow fat and appear gluttonous for the sake of getting to the truth. And this is going to be my excuse when people ask me why:
  • I am so greedy and eat so much
  • I eat more than one dish per meal (e.g. roti canai and nasi lemak for breakfast)
  • I am getting so chubby or fat (this is from the truly rude)
  • I am eating like there is no tomorrow. People, I am storing up gastronomic memories to sustain me for a year. By now, I cannot remember what laksa tastes like.
  • I spend so much money on food
  • I take pictures of every dish before eating it
  • I prevent people from eating before I take pictures of the food
  • I am always talking about food, asking during lunch, "What's for dinner?"

30 more days to takeoff!!!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Noodle House

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

The bf and I went to dinner at Noodle House on 35th and National with a group of good friends. The restaurant serves Vietnamese/Chinese/Thai food and is run by a Hmong family. It's a typical mom and pop joint and the food has a homemade feel to it. Compared to my favorite Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant, Phan's Garden, it's only so-so. Nevertheless, we like to go there because it's one of the only restaurants in town that serves stir fried frog legs and curried catfish.

I was not feeling too adventurous that night but supremely hungry so I ordered a huge Combination grilled chicken, pork and shrimp salad, which came with a spring roll (popiah) and the bf ordered Thai Iced Tea and Mussamun Curry with rice. We also had an appetizer dish of summer rolls (the ones with the clear skin) but due to aformentioned hunger, I did not have time to take any pictures. The bf sensing sustenence, immediately pounced on the poor roll and devoured it. I followed suit. If you can't beat them, join them-la.

Mussamun curry: It had fried potatoes and chicken meat in a curry sauce and spring onions. I thought that the curry was too sweet and watery. Furthermore, the onions were raw. I like raw onions but they were cut too thick to be eaten raw and did not enhance the taste of the dish. I gave it a D+ but the bf must have liked it because he finished everything.

Combination Grilled Salad: I took a look at this dish and though, "Hey, in the picture, the shrimps were grilled" But I sucked it up and decided not to make a fuss. Go watch the movie 'Waiting' and see if you ever dare to send anything back. If I have a problem with the food, I tell them AFTER my meal so that they can improve things in the future and not have the chance of spitting in my food. Think I am paranoid? Go watch the movie. I dare you.

So, I poured the sauce into my salad and mixed it all up. It was delicious. The barbecued aroma of the pork and lemongrass flavored chicken was enhanced by the accompanying sauce (made of fish-sauce, chilli and vinegar). The softness of the vermicelli was balanced by the crunchiness of the julienned carrots and cubed cucumbers. Finally, the oiliness of the meat was countered by the crisp, fresh taste of the vegetables, making this dish not only great tasting but rather healthy as well. I enjoyed every bite. And so did the bf.

A friend had this dish...forgotten it's name but the grilled pork was similar to the one in my dish. This dish came with some stirfried vegetables to compose a balanced meal of carbs, veggies and meat. Except that the proportions are whacked. See food pyramid for correct recommended proportions.

Another friend ordered the Curry Catfish with rice and it was rather good. The catfish was deboned, cut into cubes and then deepfriend before having curry sauce poured on top of it. I took a small morsel and was prepared to encounter a mouthful of fishy mush. Surprisingly, it had no fishy odor and was permeated with the aroma of the lemongrass based yellow curry. Yes, I think turmeric was a main ingredient in the sauce besides lemongrass and pepper. The bf liked it as well but if you are going to order this dish, tell the waitress right away as it takes a while to cook. Fish is not my thing, unless it's sushi or sashimi, so I give kudos to this dish as I did not gag at all but I certainly won't be ordering this in the future.

We filled up our bellies and moseyed over to Potawatomi Casino, hoping for lady luck to smile on us.

Noodle House

3433 W National Ave

Milwaukee, WI 53215

(414) 672-6693