Tag Archives: hawker

The Ramen Rater’s Trip To Malaysia: Day 2 – Factory & Hawker 101

Day 1 * Day 2Day 3 * Day 4 * Day 5 * Day 6

I was planning on doing a post each day consecutively, mirroring the prior week when I was actually in Malaysia, but I hit a snag yesterday. I’d always heard of this thing called ‘jet lag’ and now I can tell you, it’s real. Shifting from timezones and different days really messed us up! We woke up at 2pm yesterday! Haven’t slept in like that since I was a punk kid! Well, we went to sleep at a realistic Pacific time zone time last night and so this morning I’m doing day two! This is a long post folks! Here we go!

After a good night of sleep, we emerged from our room at partake of the buffet breakfast downstairs.

Here’s my wife having breakfast with me. This hotel is really neat; the little hexagons everywhere are pretty nifty!

Our hosts Annie & Thomas said maybe have a light breakfast as we’d be going all over the place today and trying all sorts of different foods that Penang has to offer. Clockwise starting with the noodles: wok fried Maggi Mee, a piece of shumai, chicken rice, a hash brown, beef slice and in the center cheese sausages.

They had neat little desserts too!

Alright – time to take on the day!

The view from our room this morning.

Our first stop is the factory where MyKuali is produced. On the way, we got to see the big billboard on the Penang Bridge!

Here’s the factory! The first thing we did was sit down with CEO Mr. Tan and his wife. He brewed delicious cups of tea as we discussed my first impressions of Malaysia and chatted about the role of the instant noodle in the world. It was really great to meet them both.

Then we went into a conference room and I was greeted by applause – wasn’t expecting that! The people who work here asked me some questions about my experiences reviewing instant noodles and my thoughts on Malaysia so far. I brought a couple gifts for them – one was a book about my hometown of Anacortes, Washington showing historic photos of the fishing industry there. The other is being held by the woman in the picture . When I first reviewed their MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle, I loved it and it was very spicy and so it easily made the 2013 Top Ten Spiciest list. That caused a lot of attention in Malaysia and really got popular quickly. So what’s in the frame? It’s the package from the noodles I reviewed. I save the packaging from every instant I review and thought they’d like it and they did!

Next we toured the factory. Look at all the boxes of noodles! They were ready to be shipped all over.

Here’s where they put the noodles and sachet into packs and box them up. I couldn’t take any more pics inside. Trade secrets are a big thing in the instant noodle industry, where there is such extreme secrecy. We got to see the room where they make the paste – what a smell! Wonderful! I can say it’s a really fascinating place – also extremely clean.

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Here we are in front of one of the MyKuali delivery trucks!

Next stop: Old Town White Coffee in Auto City. These are quite common here – never one too far away. Kind of like Starbucks – but then again they do have Starbucks here in Malaysia everywhere as well!

A comfy little place.

Okay so on the left is the white coffee, on the right black coffee. They’re very sweet and the white has milk, the black no milk. It’s also iced which was nice in the heat of the day.

We had a couple things here – nasi lemak, toast with a sweet spread inside and these – little curry pockets which were really tasty.

Back on the road to our next destination. Took a lot of pictures along the way – here’s a couple enjoying breakfast.

Colorful menus abound as well as the constant sound of motorbikes.

Next stop was Hot Bowl Nyonya Delights. There are many ethnic groups in Malaysia and two of them are Malay and Mandarin. Nyonya cuisine is a fusion of the two.

This is it folks – serious white curry noodles here! All sorts of ways to have it – with fish ball, congealed duck blood, cockles, squid, tofu puff – in any combination you like!

We started by trying a boiled chicken dish and well as a pork leg soup (not pictured).

Here’s the white curry mee – such excellent stuff!

Love how the broth looks once the paste is stirred in. Ome of the reasons I was invited to Penang was to taste the real-deal local fare and compare it to MyKuali’s products. The MyKuali is spot on – really quite amazing.

Off to another place to try new food! No, not McDonald’s – although this palatial McDonald’s was quite fascinating to see on the way!

Next stop was Ghani Penang Famous Pasambur/Rojak. Here’s Thomas schooling me on what rojak is and how it works here.

You grab a plate and pick a few varieties of these different fish cakes. Then they slice them up, add some different things and you get…

This amazing concoction. I am now a huge fan of this stuff – a sweet and spicy sauce with all sorts of chewy goodness!

Here’s a plate of mi goreng!

This is a plate of mi rebus. While mi goreng doesn’t have a sauce or broth, mi regus does. It translates to ‘wet noodles.’

Traveling to our next tasting! Here’s a pic of the streetcorner shop. Lots of these carlsberg beer signs everywhere – never had heard of it until I came here. By the way – kopi means coffee.

I didn’t catch the name of this place. We tried the chendul.

Chendul is a shave ice dessert with lots of different topping options.

Coconut milk, shaved ice and red bean with other toppings.

It is so great here – Thomas just keeps running to different vendors all day and bringing back foods – ‘try this!’ he would say. This is a Cantonese dry noodle dish. Those little green sliced chillies at the top are chilli paddi, dumpling to the left too.

This is Oyster Omelette. I’ve never been a big fan of oysters, and if I’m just eating an oyster, I’m still not. However, with the egg and that sauce it was just perfect.

Here we have Asam Laksa. I was told some people like it, some don’t. I’m one of the folks who like it – a lot. The broth is almost like a tomato kind of thing, but it’s flavored with sardine, tamarind paste, shrimp paste and chilli paddi as well. They were surprised how I really liked those little spicy chillies in there.

Finally, a neat little confection. I don’t remember exactly what it was called. It was like a really light taffy with crumbled peanut all over it. really good.

Next stop was Fort Cornwallis. Malaysia has a lot of British things going on as the British had a stake there for quite a while. The fort was built by the British East India Company way way back.

It originally had a moat around it and has lots of cannons! Very neat place.

Coconut tree! Wow – never have seen one of these up close before!

Back to our room at the Eastin hotel for some rest before going out for dinner.

We came to a big food court area – tons of hawkers!

Here’s a hawker preparing food – smelled really good!

 

An eggplant dish with a couple Chinese Long Bean skewers.

 

Cockles – slightly chewy and really flavorful.

Can’t remember exactly what this one was – once the Tiger beer started flowing and the toasting began, it started to become a jumble! . I’m bummed as I didn’t get a picture of one of my favorites from the whole trip – stingray! It was barbecued and has this curry coating which was just excellent – slightly crunchy and very moist fishmeat.

Look at this enormous prawn! Prawns are everywhere in Penang and of all sizes.

Something from the days of British influence – Chicken Chop. Basically, it’s a breaded chicken breast with a brown sauce. French fries! Whoa!

Tom Yum soup.

Crispy duck.

Everyone here is so passionate about their opinions on food – here’s our new friend Jackie teaching us about differences in Penang foods.

This place was just a paradise of different foods!

One of the many tables we all laid waste to during our Penang tour!

The last tastes of the evening. This is Hokkien Prawn Mee. It’s adorned with pork and tofu and fishballs. Just wonderful. We also tried some drinks – I tried a barley beverage which was really good. After this we went back to our hotel. I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever tried so many different foods in one day before! Wow!

Thomas insisted we find a place to have some Hokkien Prawn Mee before the dn of the evening, so we hunted and found this one.

Meet The Manufacturer: Product Samples From Maggi Singapore 2

Maggi singapore wanted to make sure I got their newest prodct – MAGGI Senses Laksa for review during Meet The Manufacturer. They rolled it out in June and here it is! Let’s see what’s inside!

Whoa this looks fancy!

Wow how awesome! A Maggi bowl and chopsticks/spoon combo!

This stuff looks really interesting – I can feel that the package has some good stuff inside – nice big seasoning sachets!

finally, an autographed card – autographed by two from Maggi Singapore and KF Seetoh, a very well known guru of Singaporean street food. Thank you all very much! This is really neat!

Top Ten 2014 Re-Review: MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle

Last June, I’d never heard of Penang, nor really had tried many varieties of Malaysian instant noodles for that matter. I had no clue what to expect and was absolutely elated with this one – my core interest in reviewing instant noodles is that I want to try new things every day. This was definitely something new to me. Let’s look inside the package and see why it’s on the 2014 top ten list!

Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). Contains crustaceans. To prepare, boil 380ml water and cook noodle block for 3 minutes. Add in contents of sachets, mix well and enjoy!

The noodle block.

The seasoning powder sachet.

Has a nice seafood scent.

The paste sachet.

Wow – such a strong and bright curry scent!

The non-dairy creamer sachet.

A very light powder.

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added mint, prawn flavor fish balls, sweet onion, tofu puff and Chinese long bean. The noodles are excellent – perfect gauge and chew. Quantity was just right, too. The broth is a luxuriant escapade for the palate – a strong curry with ferocious heat. Definitely not thin either – it’s quite hearty. It’s so neat – I’ve reviewed so many different instant noodles and the industry never fails to come up with something new and revolutionary that makes the taste buds sing! Fantastic stuff! 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. UPC bar code 9555655005197.

MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle (8 Packs)

A news story mentioning how these noodles placed in The Ramen Rater’s Ten Spiciest Instant Noodles Of All Time 2013!

Meet The Manufacturer: #1087: MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle

2/19/2014 – SPECIAL NOTE: I’ve received many emails and comments from people asking where to purchase these noodles. Here is a list that was posted on MyKuali’s facebook page – check it out!

So as I said at the end of the interview, this will be a ‘split’ Meet The Manufacturer. As soon as it’s ready, MyKuali will be sending their new Tom Yum noodle to review. But today, we have Penang white curry! So most people know about curry, but what about Penang? Wikipedia had this to say on their food:

Penang, long known as the food capital of Malaysia, is renowned for its good and varied food.[136][137][138][139] Penang was recognised as having the Best Street Food in Asia by Time magazine in 2004, citing that “nowhere else can such great tasting food be so cheap”.[140] Penang’s cuisine reflects the Chinese, Nyonya, Malay and Indian ethnic mix of Malaysia, but also shows some influence of Thailand. Its especially famous “hawker food”, many served al fresco, strongly features noodles, spices, and fresh seafood. The best places to savour Penang’s food include Gurney Drive, Pulau Tikus, New Lane, New World Park, Penang Road and Chulia Street, as well as Raja Uda and Chai Leng Park over on the mainland. Penang is also famed for its traditional biscuits such as the tau sar pneah (bean paste biscuit). Aside from that, Penang is also ranked among top ten greatest street food cities in Asia, according to CNN Go.[141]

MyKuali is well known for their special pastes and so let’s see how this translates into the instant noodle world.

Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). Contains MSG and shrimp paste.

The noodle block.

Seasoning powder packet.

Has a nice scent with shrimp notes.

A large packet of curry paste.

A strong scent of shrimp and other seasonings – looks good!

Something I’ve never seen before – a packet of non dairy creamer!

Very light and fine powder.

Finished – thanks to my Mom & Sister for getting me this new bowl on their trip to Canada (click image to enlarge)! Added shrimp, Vidalia sweet onion, green onion and broccoli. The noodles are a little wider than your typical instant and have a very nice chew to them and are top notch. The broth is amazing; deep curry flavor. Spicy too – really spicy! This broth is so rich and fill; it’s a curry lover’s dream. I’m very pleased with this one – 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. UPC bar code 955655005197.

MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle (8 Packs)

Here’s a look at street vendors in Penang, Malaysia. Looks really good!

Meet The Manufacturer: Interview With MyKuali

 

Interview * Samples From MyKuali * MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle

Welcome to yet another Meet The Manufacturer! This time, the brand is MyKuali which is a part of Sky Thomas Food in Malaysia! I conducted an email interview with Annie Tang of MyKuali – here it is.

THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you for agreeing to this interview! To start, can you tell my readers about the history of MyKuali?

MYKUALI> MyKuali is a house brand of Sky Thomas Food Industries Sdn Bhd (Sky Resources Group Companies).
Sky Thomas Food Industries Sdn Bhd was formed to diversify the business into the consumer food and beverages industry.
MyKuali may not have a long history as a brand name, but the taste and quality has been proven by the positive feedback from the market. Until today MyKuali has not done any media advertisements such as newspaper and TV. Our marketing started with facebook (facebook.com/mykuali) and free sampling and demo road shows, believing it is important to reach out to our consumers with confidence in the taste and quality of our products.  All recipes are developed in-house and tested rigorously with high expectations.

MyKuali was started with the main objective to share the food and cuisines of Penang. With today’s technology and infrastructure, it has made it possible for packaged food of a country to travel to another country at ease.

TRR> What was the first product you made?

MYKUALI> Our first product in the Instant Noodle category is MyKuali Penang White Curry Instant Noodle. Penang White Curry Noodles is one of the most popular hawker food in Penang and it is available almost anywhere in Penang.
We launched it just in time to bring it to Hofex 2013, Hong Kong. The response for this product was overwhelming. We should be able to see MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle selling everywhere in Hong Kong by August 2013.

TRR> Your company is located in Malaysia – can you tell us a bit about your country?

MYKUALI> Malaysia is a multi racial and multi cultural country. The population consists mainly of Malays, Chinese and Indians and many other ethnic groups. All of us as Malaysians enjoy each other’s food and cuisines. We are so used to the mixture of different cultures and food preferences that there is a cuisine. Therefore, there is a term called “Baba-Nyonya”. To put it simply, it means the intermarriage of two races and when we say “Nyonya dishes”, it normally means traditional dishes that have a combination of cuisines from different races.

Penang, being a small Island in Malaysia, is also known as “Food Paradise” internationally. Penang is rich in culture and famous for its hawker food.
To share more, quoted as below:
Quoted from Australian restaurant critic and food writer Pat Nourse, “Penang establishes the benchmarks and resets your perspective on just how good hawker food can be. You’ve got the choice of the familiar, which will be presented to you with new clarity, and plenty of stuff you won’t see anywhere else”.
Lina Goldberg, (an American writer, who is a street food enthusiast, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia) claim Penang in her list of “Asia’s 10 greatest street food cities”, and she described Penang as “one of the world’s top dining destinations”.
Source: http://www.nst.com.my/streets/northern/penang-food-culture-get-the-thumbs-up-1.69475
To share more about Malaysia as a whole, I abstracted an article from www.tourism.gov.my:

To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia – a bubbling, bustling melting-pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony. Our multiculturalism has made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise and home to hundreds of colourful festivals. It’s no wonder that we love celebrating and socialising. As a people, Malaysians are very relaxed, warm and friendly.

Geographically, Malaysia is almost as diverse as its culture. 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) form Peninsular Malaysia which is separated by the South China Sea from East Malaysia which includes the 2 states (Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) and a third federal territory, the island of Labuan.

One of Malaysia’s key attractions is its extreme contrasts which further add to this theme of ‘diversity’. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts while five-star hotels sit just metres away from ancient reefs.

Rugged mountains reach dramatically for the sky while their rainforest-clad slopes sweep down to floodplains teeming with forest life. Cool highland hideaways roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.

TRR> Why did you choose the name MyKuali and what does it mean?

MYKUALI> “My” represents Malaysia and “Kuali” is a Malay word means “wok”. We choose MyKuali as brand name because our products relate to cooking and food.

With MyKuali products, consumers were able to cook sophisticated dishes and meals with really simple steps. It can even be cooked by people without cooking knowledge. All these were made possible because we have done all the sophisticated process in our R & D and manufacturing process. With mass production, we were able to deliver our products to consumers with reasonable price.

TRR> In what countries are your products available?

MYKUALI> Our products are only in Malaysia now; however, it will be widely available in Hong Kong by August 2013. The Indonesian market is in the midst of negotiation and we are targeting to export to Singapore, Thailand and China in the near future.

TRR> Your company is best known for its cooking pastes. Can you tell us a little about them?

MYKUALI> MyKuali cooking pastes are centered on using traditional natural ingredients and spices with perfect blend and proportion to achieve taste that captures your taste buds. We have a wide selection of authentic Asian/Penang Instant Cooking Pastes with excellent quality. Each MyKuali flavor has its distinct tastes with different ingredients and spices. MyKuali Instant Cooking Paste’s range of products is not only delicious but easy to prepare without compromising the colour and texture of the dishes. We currently have 8 flavors of cooking pastes which are mainly Penang and Thai Flavors.

Our product quality of taste and ease of preparation has been proven by “The Competition For Traditional Malaysian Ready-To-Cook Paste” organized by Matrade Malaysia Kitchen because our Curry Kapitan Chicken/Meat paste has been selected as one of the 15 finalists in the whole of Malaysia. The competition is still ongoing and we are still waiting for the final results.

TRR> How does your noodle making process differ from other instant noodle manufacturers?

MYKUALI> Each packet of MyKuali Instant Noodle contain a packet of Natural Ingredient Paste that makes   the soup base authentic and tastes like freshly cooked instead of instant noodles. Curry powder is the most important part of the Natural Ingredient Paste and it contributes to the special aroma of our Penang White Curry Noodle. The Curry Powder is our very own special recipe and it has been tried and tested over five hundred times to derive the formulation and the curry powder itself contains more than 30 types of natural ingredients and spices.
Besides, it has to go through 3-4 hours of cooking; every process and temperature is controlled stringently.

TRR> When people here think of curry, a lot of the time all they know of is curry powder. How is a curry paste different?

MYKUALI> When people here think of curry, they think it’s curry powder.
However, curry paste is a little different from curry powder as it is in liquid paste form which is normally pre-cooked with the right proportions of cooking oil together with other fresh ingredients such as garlic, onion, shallots, lemongrass and etc. Curry paste is more convenient for consumers because it is ready-to-cook.

TRR> A lot of people are concerned with their sodium intake. How would you recommend people enjoy your product as part of a healthy meal?

MYKUALI> Our products are manufactured to taste. As such, our flavor has the right amount of sodium in it. However, you can cook the soup separately and adjust the taste to ones liking thus controlling the amount of sodium.

However, I would like to share some of the health benefits of the ingredients we include in our products.

MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle:

Turmeric is one of the essential ingredient in the curry paste. It protects your mind from diseases that ravage your memory. Turmeric helps activate a system in the brain tissue that then causes a potent antioxidant called “bilirubin”to be released, which protects the brain almost like a shield.
Curcumin which is part of turmeric has been proven to have anti-tumor, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

MyKuali Thai Tom Yum Noodle:
Lemongrass is one of the main ingredients in Thai Tom Yum and it has many internal and physical health benefits. It contains antioxidants that can prevent cancer. Lemongrass also has properties that detoxify the body. This can make the digestive organs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder clean and healthy as toxic substances and uric acid is removed. Furthermore, lemongrass effectively reduces blood pressure; stimulate blood circulation and can reduce hypertension.

TRR> Are you involved in in your local community or participate in charities?

MYKUALI> We currently support the Salvation Army, and hope to contribute to more charities in the future.

TRR> Are there any new products coming soon?

MYKUALI> Definitely, our MyKuali Thai Tom Yum Noodle will be launching in about one month. There will be more Penang Hawker specialty in the streamline and we believe it will surprise the consumers with this new concept of instant noodles.

TRR> When you make noodles for yourself, what do you like to add to them to make them extra special?

MYKUALI> Typically just following the ingredients from the packaging for an authentic and original bowl of Penang White Curry Noodle is sufficient.

However, if you want something different, I feel that any ingredients that is able to soak up the curry soup base is extra special and tasty because the natural ingredient paste in our curry soup base is made up of more than thirty types of spices and it is definitely a perfect blend for a bowl of authentic curry noodle.
For example, you could add the following additional items:
Dried bean curd in cubes or pieces/sheets, fried or hard boiled eggs, shrimps, fish ball, minced meat (precooked first), shredded bbq chicken, lettuce, long beans, eggplants, and any vegetables of your choice.

TRR> Thank you very much for this opportunity to learn about MyKuali and your products!

Interview * Samples From MyKuali * MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodle

A lot of information to be sure! Thanks again to Annie Tang of MyKuali and Looking forward to trying these products! I should mention that this will be a ‘split’ Meet The Manufacturer – I will be reviewing their new Tom Yum soon!