Pearl of the Orient

This blog is inspired by the rich cluture and food found in Penang, an island in Malaysia known as the Pearl of the Orient. The author of this blog is Japanese influenced and she enjoys travelling, cooking and ofcourse, eating.

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Location: Penang, Malaysia

I'm a little plump rabbit who lives in Penang. I hop around with a camera round my neck snapping photos of Penang and foodstuffs. If you meet a rabbit like that in Penang, that should be me ; )

Monday, October 31, 2005

Mango Pudding & A Rabbit's Resolution

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I was extra 'rajin' (Malay word for hardworking) yesterday and decided to make mango pudding for tea-time snack. There were ample mango puree left after making the pudding, I decided to cook a fruit sauce to go with the pudding. One thing lead to another, I suddenly found myself melting chocolate and piping out designs onto a plastic sheet then assembling the whole pudding, sauce and chocolate into a yummy looking masterpeice... the only let down was that the mango pudding didn't taste as great as I wanted it to be....

Gazing at my finished artwork, I thought to myself, you have a long way to go Rabbit. There is so much yet for you to learn about cooking and baking. I always dream about how nice it would be if my job was to do with cooking and baking! All my life I studied about bits and bytes. So, if I really wanted to change my expertise it would be very tough...

Turning my eyes away from the pudding onto the bookshelf, I saw the cooking book called, "On Cooking" written by Sarah R. Labensky and Alan M. Hause. The book was given by an uncle who once worked in a sausage factory. I understood that some cooking schools use this book as a textbook reference. Then, I thought again, since you like cooking so much, why don't you do a self study and see how everything goes? - or see if you still like cooking that much after this lesson... who knows? ;p

So, with this silly resolution, I plan to share with you, dear readers, whatever interesting stuff I come across in my reading adventures on "On Cooking" in my future postings...

October 2005 - Food Blog Events Round-up

This month, I've been a very hyper-active Rabbit and participated in three great food blog events on the Internet. Truly enjoyed myself cooking up foodies and making a mess in the kitchen. I wonder if I can keep this up for the next month? I wish to keep it up. but we'll see how it goes...

Anyway, a big thanks to all the organizers for coming up with such wonderful themes and for doing such beautiful round-ups of the events:

This week, which is the first week of November, Malaysia will be celebrating two major festivals, Deepavali and Hari Raya Aidilfitri. With this, I would like to wish my Indian and Muslim readers...

Happy Deepavali & Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!

And also not to forget, happy holidays to everyone!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

8-Row, BBQ and Steamboat Restaurant

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Lats Friday, I was at 8-Row, a BBQ and steamboat restaurant in Georgetown, for a farewell dinner of one of our colleagues. BBQ and steamboat restaurants have been a growing trend in Penang since a few years back. From my observation, this kind of dining is especially popular among youths due to 3 main reasons that is price, quantity and fun.

The price is very reasonable, usually ranges from RM 15 to RM20 per person. The food is buffet style so one eat as much as they like. Choices include a variety of seafood, meat, processed food (e.g. surimi, fish cakes, fish ball.. etc) and vegies. All you need to do it to throw them into a pot of stock or grill them to perfection! So fun! What's more fun is that, after the event, you don't have to clean up the whole mess that you and your friends make. That is why today, people are opting for these kind of places instead of organizing a steamboat or BBQ party at home. It really saves all the hassle and pain...

I would rate 8-Row as one of the top 3 in Penang for BBQ and steamboat hangouts. The price is very reasonable, only RM15 and choices of food are very good as there are a lot of varieties to choose from. As for environment, the restaurant is a renovated pre-war heritage building and is equipt with some kind of cooler for outdoor BBQ and steamboat. Overall, it is rather comfortable but dress easy, as you know BBQ can get really messy...

8-Row opens in the evening. As for directions, if you are coming from KOMTAR, turn into Macallister Road and upon reaching the Agora hotel, turn into the left lane. You will see a row of renovated old buildings painted in bright yellow. 8-Row is the first one that you'll pass by. I do not currently have the address and contact number for this place but I'll update this post by this week...

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8-Row signboard in front of the restaurant....

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Renovated pre-war heritage building, well-litted with lights creates a unique experience BBQ or steamboat experience...

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Understand that previously, the place was called Jolly BBQ and Steamboat (as you can see, the sign is still on the building). Perhaps the place has changed to a new owner, I am not sure about this...

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Cooling mist is sprayed out of the building to cool down the outdoor customers....

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At the entrance of the restaurant. As you can see, the place has an antique ambience. The feeling is reallt unique....

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A variety of marinated meats, seafood and fish balls for you to choose...

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Squids, prawns, mantis prawn and fish...

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Surimi, fish balls, fish cakes, chicken nuggets, sui-kow and the like...

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More fish balls and fish cakes... I really love these stuff!

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Chikuwa fish cake.... Japanese love these...

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Interesting coloured fish cake...

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Aha! These are really cute - bear or cartoon shaped fish cake. One of my colleague asked me to watch him while he bites of the ears this creature - as if I would scream or shudder in horror...

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Other goodies for your BBQ or Steamboat... eggs, corn and crunchy beancurd skin...

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Ring of condiments to dip your cooked food in... bird eye chillies in soya sauce, mayonnaise, chilli sauce, and garlic oil (this is to enhance the steamboat stock)...

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Just grab a plate and load it with goodies...

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In you go into the boiling pot or BBQ my little foodies... the bear faced fish cake looks a little comical yes?

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There are also some ready to eat foods while waiting for the foodies to cook... This is fried potato wedges drizzled with mayonnaise...

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Fried 'fried hor-fun'... all ready to eat, you don't have to cook these...

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As for dessert, popsicle is served. Perfect for cooling down the heatiness of the BBQ and steamboat...

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More popsicle... just help yourself to as many as you can stomach...

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I am sometimes a melodramatic Rabbit... so, I am writting the ending of this post in this direction. I hope it doesn't spoil your appetite. If you're easily upset by melodramatic stuff, please skip this part....

I guess my colleague had a nice farewell that evening. It wasn't a tearful farewell but a cheery one. We laughed joked and laughed so hard that evening. Perhaps my colleague has found better prospects elsewhere. Best wishes to you dear colleague, wishing you a better job and a better future... Staring up into the dark sky amidst the sound of merry making, I longed in my heart for my dream to come true one day...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ramadhan Bazaar - Queen Street, Penang

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As mentioned in my previous post, while visiting Little India at King Street, Penang, I bumped into another pleasant surprise. While strolling around King Street, a big green banner with the words “Ramadhan Bazaar” written on it caught my attention. Without much thought (that I hadn’t even completed my culinary adventure in Little India…), I excitedly walked into the connecting lane called Queen Street. It did occur to my mind that whether these two street names were given on purpose. Honestly, I do not know. One is King Street and the other is Queen Street, such a coincidence that both street are just next to each other…

Anyway, the Ramadhan bazaar at Queen Street was rather interesting. Most of the stalls there were owned by ‘mamak’ (Malay word for Indian Muslims) and the food variety is more towards Indian influence such as putu mayung, passembur, murtabak, chapati and a large assortment of Indian ‘kuih’ (snacks or desserts) and sweets. In addition, there were also the usual Malay fare like Malay kuih, nasi lemak, fried chicken and other dishes. I really bought a lot of kuih and muruku that day. I ate so much that I blew my calories and daren't take any dinner that day...

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Thinly rolled dough, fried till crispy and drizzled with sugar syrup. The stall owner told me that the name of this Indian kuih is called 'sweet puri' - that is, if I didn't hear wrongly because the man had a deep Indian accent...

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I do not know the name of this Indian kuih. It is basically
deep fried red bean paste in batter...

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I forgot what is the name of these kuih. It looks like brown doughnuts yes? The colour is probably due to brown sugar as part of it's ingredient. I do know whether this kuih is of Indian origin but I saw it at the Indian kuih stall....

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More deep fried Indian kuih. I really have no idea what
these are but they look really yummy...

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'Putu mayung' man in action. He sells putu mayung on a bicycle!

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Putu mayung lin a big basket on the back seat of his bicycle. It looks very much like vermicelli. It is made of rice flour. It taste kind of bland but goes very well with brown sugar and grated coconut...

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Grated coconut and brown sugar to go with putu mayung balanced on a basket cover on the front seat of the man's bicycle...

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This Malay lady's kuih looks so tempting, I just had to buy some.

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'Acar' (pickled vegetables) sold in little plastic containers.

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This is green kuih is called 'kuih ketayap'. It is basically pancake
with sweet coconut filling wrapped up in spring roll style..

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'Kuih lopis' which is green glutinous rice cakes covered with grated
coconut served with palm sugar syrup (the one in packets)...

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This is 'kuih burger'. It is basically fried dough sliced open like a burger
bun and stuffed spicy anchovies... my favourite!


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This is 'kuih hotdog' ;p. This must be a contemporary creation. It is
fried dough stuffed with hotdog and drizzled with chilli sauce...

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'Cucur badak' is made of sweet potatoes with spicy coconut filling. They are shaped intp a flat ball, decorated with a little prawn and deep fried...

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'Abuk-abuk' are steamed chewey rice cakes with sweet peanut filling
and dusted with flour on the outside...

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Agar-agar jelly in bright traffic light colours...

I must admit that this is a rather late Ramadhan bazaar post. This will definitely be the last one from me until next year. To end this post I would to link to Masak-masak's the last two Ramadhan bazaar visits. There're really awesome:

Ramadan Bazaar - Shah Alam Stadium
Ramadan Bazaar - Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Deepavali Mood in Little India at King Street, Penang

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“Mysorpak! Mysorpak!!...” the little Indian boy manning the sweet stall repeatedly yelled out to me with his finger pointing to a kind of Indian sweet hoping that I could understand him. He had been very patient with me when I asked him what is this and that at his little stall. We communicated in English and Malay but I could not catch his words due to his deep Indian accent. I was really sheepish when I had to ask him to repeat everything over and over again… This was the scenario I encountered at the Little India in King Street, Penang last weekend.

This year, Deepavali, which is a festival celebrated by Indians and Hindus, falls on the 1st of November. So it was no surprise that the place was bustling with people, mostly Indians buying goodies, clothes and other festive needs to get ready for the big day.

Honestly, it wasn’t in my weekend agenda to visit Little India. I was actually planning to stay at home all day to make soufflés for IMBB #20 (an international blog cooking event). But somehow, I couldn’t contain myself when I saw such beautiful photos taken by Masak-masak at the Little India in Klang and Brickfields.

So, I decided to drop by King Street to have a look for myself what the Little India in Penang had to offer. It was in the late afternoon when I visited the place. Many stalls were setup along the road and I’ve never seen so much Indian food, clothes and decorations before in my life. The air was filled with Indian tunes and everything about the place was definitely implying that Deepavali was around the corner.

After a little stroll, I was particularly drawn to a little stall selling various types of Indian sweets and snacks whereby I had a brief conversation with the little Indian boy about his merchandise. It was so interesting to see so many colourful and curious kinds of sweets. I wondered what each of them was made of that I decided to strike up a conversation with the boy.

The boy was very pleasant and good natured but oh! I had such a hard time comprehending his speech. Every word he spoke sounded almost Indian to me. Well, come to think of it, it wasn’t much of a conversation at all. Most of time, I had to ask him to repeat what he just said. After going on with this for several rounds, I decided to buy some muruku (Indian snack), thank the boy and leave…The muruku were nice and crunchy, they were imported from India.

The photos below were taken at this boy’s stall. I would like to apologize if I there’s not much description about the sweets or if I get the names of the sweet wrongly. My knowledge about Indian sweets is almost zero and I always have trouble remembering their names. Dear Indian folks, please don’t get me wrong, I love your sweets, it’s just that the names are so hard to remember…

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A big block of 'halwa' cut into four...

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I think it's made of some kind of flour and ghee. It taste very sweet
and nice. I ate these before when I was a kid but I do not know what
they're called. if you know the name of this sweet, please let me
know...

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These roundies are called 'ladu'...

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These sweet spirals are called 'jelebi'

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These cubes are some kind of milk fugde called 'paklova'...

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These are called 'mysorpak'... they look like brown paklova to me..

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Another kind of candy. Very bright pink in colour...

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This snack looks similar to Twisties...;p. I saw it sold in
supermarkets by the name of 'pagoda'. It's crunchy, spicy
and can be a little hard to bite...

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This is a flat kind of muruku. Very nice and tasty...

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Boxes of cookies to entertain visiting relatives and guests on Deepavali day...

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More cookies to fatten up your relatives and guest on Deepavali...

If you’re interested about Indian sweets and sights, I would like to recommend you to visit Masak-masak’s great coverage about Little India in Klang and Brickfields. Believe me, you don’t have to fly to India see so much sweets. Everything is just a click away:

Deepavali - Brickfields
Deepavali - Little India, Klang (Part 1)
Deepavali - Little India, Klang (Part 2)
Deepavali - Little India, Klang (Part 3)

One more thing, while strolling around Little India, I bump into another pleasant surprise. Adjoining Little India was a Ramadhan bazaar at Queen Street! Double happiness for my tummy! I gladly walked over to see what this bazaar had to offer. I will cover about this in my next post!