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Lai Kee 来记西刀鱼丸 Fish Ball Noodles in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah in Johor Bahru, Malaysia


This is my second post on Lai Kee fishball noodles 来记西刀鱼丸. I first posted about Lai Kee 来记 in Jan 2012 and it was one of my first posts since I created Johor Kaki blog.

I passed by Lai Kee a few more times since that first post but had to save my tummy space to try out other eateries in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah.

BBQ Fishman 烧鱼堂 @ Restoran 777 Food Centre, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

BBQ Fishman 烧鱼堂 ikan bakar stingray at Restoran 777 food centre in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah (TUTA) is one of my favourites in Johor Bahru. The slab of fresh stingray cooked and served on a banana leaf was slightly charred on the outside and still juicy and tender inside. Yummy!

The bakar stingray come with a thick spread of sambal chili. Fortunately, the sambal chili was not stinging spicy - it was just a blend of moderate spicy, and slightly tangy and sweet with the fragrance of lemon grass and spices. The stingray was also garnished with generous toppings of lady's fingers and petai, my favourite stink beans :).

We also had squid baked in Portuguese style. The squid cut into rings were baked and served in aluminium foil that looked like a pillow case.

The squid rings were submerged in a little sloshy pool of sambal chili gravy. If you like your seafood/ fish/ stingray to be soft inside and out, ask for it to be cooked in the Portuguese style. The sambal chili gravy was spicy, sweet, and distinctly tangy.

We also indulged in a plate of seafood fried rice. It was good!

The savoury rice grains were discrete and was not oily at all. Complements the BBQ seafood very well and a good alternative to plain steamed white rice.

I requested for a bit of sambal chili to go with the fried rice and unexpectedly got this hot sambal chili served on a banana leaf :) WOW! delightful service :)

Ah Hua 亚华 is the boss of BBQ Fishman 烧鱼堂 which has been in business here in Restoran 777 Food Centre for eight years.

There are plenty of fresh seafood to choose from and the most popular are stingray, chincharu fish and squids.

Ah Hua layering the slab of stingray with a thick spread of self made sambal chili.

Garnishing the stingray with plenty of lady's fingers and petai beans.

Cover the seafood and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Steaming hot spicy ikan bakar ready for serving :)

Cooking BBQ seafood the Portuguese way - baked in a sealed aluminium foil pocket. 

Ah Hua 亚华 frying his popular seafood rice, sealing in the flavours with a tongue of fire. 

Ah Hua 亚华 makes a huge wok of sambal chili everyday.

Restoran 777 Food Centre offers typical Malaysian style open air al fresco dining under the moon and stars.

Dozens of food stalls ring a large airy centre court which is the dining area. Casual, cheerful and enjoyable on a cool night, and really inexpensive too. There's even free movies and wifi!

I've been thinking.... moon, stars, cool breeze, free movie, free wifi, delicious food at affordable prices, family, good friends - what more can a man/ lady ask for? :)

I will be spending a few more nights exploring the sights, sounds, aroma and tastes of Restoran 777 Food Centre.

Restaurant name: BBQ Fishman 烧鱼堂
Adddress: Stall inside Restoran 777 Food Centre, Jalan Perkasa 4, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah, Johor Bahru
GPS: 1.509549,103.650153
Hours: 6:00pm to 1:00pm
No pork, no lard, no Halal cert

Date visited: 29 August 2012

Shanghai Mooncakes @ 63 茶餐室 Kopitiam Restoran Loh Sang in Taman Desa Jaya, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

This is the Shanghai mooncake 上海月饼 from 63 茶餐室 Restoran Loh Sang in Taman Desa Jaya, Johor Bahru. The dense not-too-sweet lotus paste wraps a salted egg yolk which is itself encased in a flaky pastry. How flaky? The pastry looked like it will crumble, if I stared at it too hard. The buttery pastry started to crumble when I gently lifted it and it melted on my tongue before I could close my mouth! No kidding.

One thing that fascinates me about the Johor food scene is that there is still space for small niche players to thrive and succeed. The Mid Autumn Festival (mooncake festival) is approaching and the usual big players are gearing up to flood the market with their fanciful factory made mooncakes in impressive, expensive packaging.

Yet there are small businesses that still make their mooncakes by hand and have a growing clientele that insists on homemade mooncakes made without preservatives and artificial flavourings. But nowadays, we can count the number of such boutique bakeries with the fingers of just one hand. One such is 63 Kopitiam Restoran Loh Sang in Taman Desa Jaya.

Looking at its "run of the mill" kopitiam shopfront, who would have guessed that 63 茶餐室 Kopitiam makes one of the best Shanghai Mooncakes 上海月饼 in Johor and some even say the whole of Malaysia? I can't say that since I have not eaten mooncakes from the whole of Malaysia yet :P

On a normal day, 63 Kopitiam sells "economic mix vegetable rice" and their popular homemade breads and buns which are freshly made everyday without using any preservatives.

During the annual Mid Autumn Festival, the owner MR Chia 謝 will make his highly popular Shanghai mooncakes.

Everything is done by hand here in 63 茶餐室 Kopitiam by MR Chia and one worker, so the amount of Shanghai mooncakes made is always limited.

MR Chia kneading the dough for the flaky crust.

Preparing the lotus seed paste and the salted egg yolk stuffing.

The lotus seed paste and salted egg filling are rolled into a tight ball, one by one.

The lotus seed paste/ salted egg yolk stuffing in the foreground are then wrapped in dough to make the Shanghai mooncakes in the background of this photo.

MR Chia applying egg wash to the tray of Shanghai mooncakes - the final step before baking them in the oven.

The Shanghai mooncakes in the oven.

The piping hot, golden brown Shanghai mooncakes straight out of the oven. MR Chia sells each box of 4 of these Shanghai mooncakes with lotus seed paste and single salted egg yolk at RM34.

MR Chia told me that this year, he will be renting a small stand at City Square Mall in downtown JB to sell his famous Shanghai mooncakes. Look out for 63 茶餐室 Kopitiam's unique handmade Shanghai mooncakes if you are shopping for mooncakes in City Square Mall.

Restaurant name: 63 茶餐室 Kopitiam Restoran Loh Sang
Address: 6, Jalan Danau 3, Taman Desa Jaya, Johor Bahru
GPS: 1.555211,103.805640
Hours: 8:00am to 4:00pm
No pork, no lard

Date visited: 27 Aug 2012

Ah Meng's Restaurant 阿明砂煲海鲜粥餐馆 in Taman Molek, Johor Bahru

Did you know that a chef from Johor Bahru was featured on USA's News 12 channel, way back in 1994?

Meng Kee Chicken Noodles 明记鸡丝面 in Batu Pahat, Johor

The simplest way to know what are the good eats in an area is simply to ask the locals what they like to eat. So I asked the lottery ticket seller sitting outside the famous Tin Hau temple in Batu Pahat what is good to eat.

The friendly lottery ticket seller pointed first to the renowned Soon Lai kway chap just across the street from the Tin Hau temple.

He then pointed to Mee Kee 明记鸡丝面 coffee shop next door and told me that the chicken noodles and braised chicken feet are very good.

Since I have already eaten at Soon Lai kway chap recently, I decided to take a chance by stepping next door to Meng Kee to try the lottery ticket seller's recommended chicken noodles and braised chicken feet.

Mee Kee noodle shop is run by MR Teo who ran the chicken noodle stall in Singapore's Ngee Ann Polytechnic for many years before returning to Batu Pahat, his hometown.

The egg noodles were half submerged in a dark syrupy gravy and topped with pieces of braised chicken. The braised chicken was tender and naturally sweet.

The noodles were eggy, crunchy, tender and smooth, lubricated by the syrupy gravy with sweet and salty notes.

I simply love Meng Kee's signature braised chicken feet. Unlike chicken feet found elsewhere which were deep fried before braising, at Meng Kee, the chicken feet were braised without frying.

The tasty chicken feet were very smooth and tender. Meng Kee's delicious chicken feet were sweet and savoury from the braising sauce.

The lottery ticket seller at the temple was spot on about Meng Kee's chicken noodles and braised chicken feet.

Restaurant name: Meng Kee Chicken Noodles 明记鸡丝面
Address: Junction of Jalan Fatimah and Jalan Mohd Salleh (next to Tin Hao temple)
GPS: 1.848847,102.927743
Hours: 07:00am to 2:00pm (closed on Thursday)
Non Halal

Date visited: 24 Jun 2012