Tag Archives: trip

Travels: Taiwan 2017 Day 5: Eating Out Of Toilets, Coffee & Pizza

Day 1 & 2 * Day 3 * Day 4 * Day 5 * Day 6 * Day 7

So the title for the day’s travelogue is probably a little confusing – so let’s get right to it!

Taiwan 2017 Day 5: Eating Out Of Toilets, Coffee & Pizza

I saw a video about weird things to check out in Taipei and this caught my eye – Modern toilet Restaurant. The whole theme to the place is toilets, defecation; you get the picture. How odd, eh? Well, odd is definitely my wheelhouse – and the food is quite good as well!

Walked around the area after Modern Toilet – found some gifts too. This was when I got some footage inside a 7-Eleven. The clapping thing was pretty neat. Then we ended up back at the food expo and did some more samples.

Went and checked out the coffee, tea and machinery floor of the show next – this place is so huge. I mean, I swear you could park a jumbo jet on each floor.

Back to the hotel for more livestreaming and then off to… Pizza Hut?

I was really blown away by Pizza Hut. I’ve been to Asia now 4 times and always left thinking ‘man, I should have tried the fast food!’ Well, Pizza Hut here is a sit–down restaurant – buffet style. My favorite was the rice and saugage stuffed bread – oh man I feel like anything pizza related is junk compared to this stuff. I’m hooked. I think it’s completely insane that they don’t have it here in the States. Well, after this we hit Carrefour to look for a particular variety of noodles. No luck, but got some Hello Kitty bath tissue or the wife! She’s a Hello Kitty fan. Anyways, back to the hotel for some sleep.

#1873: Vedan Wei Wei A Instant Noodles Chicken Flavor

The last one from the trip we took to Canada for my birthday. This is a Taiwanese variety I found up there. I see a picture of a chicken on the package, but that’s as far as it goes as the serving suggestion doesn’t look very ‘chickenny.’ Let’s see how it goes!

Detail of the side panels (click to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, open lid halfway and add in sachets. Here’s where this one seems a little different: it says to fill water to the ‘brim.’ I’m going to surmise that the brim is below the absolute edge of the bowl since that would cause the whole thing to be very precarious and then stirring would be a messy endeavor. Let steep for 3 minutes, stir and enjoy!

Detail of the lid (click to enlarge).

The noodle block.

Dry soup base.

Dry powder and vegetables.

A paste sachet.

A thick paste with an oiliness to it.

Finished (click to enlarge). Added spring onion. The noodles were very ho-hum. While they hydrated well, they seemed like they just didn’t belong in the ‘food’ group; spongy and riddled with sadness. As for chicken flavor, that was definitely absent. I was really happy about the vegetables, but they were mushy. 0.0 out of 5.0 stars. UPC bar code 810477010255.

Here’s the sausage I use – Chinese Style Sausage (Lap Xuong Thuong Hang) – 14oz [Pack of 3]

A Vedan TV spot from Vietnam.

The Ramen Rater’s Trip To Thailand: Day 5 – River Kwai & Goodbye

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

Woke up at this amazing place – Heard a strange sound coming from outside and figured out it was the sound of the Buddhist monks chanting – it echoes everywhere and was quite ethereal. Decided to head down for some breakfast.

Here’s the lobby.

Strolled around and checked it out outside.

It kind of weird to realize you’re in the jungle, but it’s probably the same when people from here come to where I’m from and think ‘wow, I’m in the forest.’

After checking out the place we came back and met up with everyone. Then we took a cruise!

We rode on a big flat barge that was pulled by a little boat. This is the Kwai River.

The famous Bridge On The River Kwai.

I think I’m wrong on this one – it’s not Burma but Cambodia. By the way – notice the music in the background?

We stopped to visit the memorial to those who died building the bridge in WW2.

It was a pretty sad place to be honest. What was amazing though is that I ended up having a conversation about politics, global food sourcing and war with a guy from the UK and a guy from Scandinavia. Was really cool.

Staying out of the hot sun, playing with the parents’ iPad.

A boat full of partiers on the Mekong Delta.

They gave everyone these little tightly wrapped cold towels – was nice to put on your neck after walking to the war memorial – very hot day.

Talking noodles on the return trip.

A large golden Buddha on the shore of the Kwai river. There were quite a few amazing sights by the water – temples and statues everywhere.

We ended up where we began, at the Dheva Mantra resort to have some lunch.

Quite an array of fruit!

Had some slow cooked eggs, Chinese sausage, cucumber and rice. Then it was a long bus ride back to Bangkok.

For our last night in Bangkok, we ended up getting to stay in a corner suite on the 29th floor.

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The view was just amazing here – really something to behold.

We had a bit of time before the big farewell dinner, so we went and checked out one of the places I’ve been dying to go to in Asia – a 7-11. You might say ‘but why?’ Well…

Well, need I say more? Instant noodles of all kinds and brands – and mostly ones I’ve never seen before or have access to here. I decided to get a couple bags of them and hope they’d make it through US customs, but figured they wouldn’t. But, a worthy gamble since I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to try this again!

Was nice to finally meet Ms. Ratha (far left) – she also was very pivotal in setting up the trip. Gonna miss everyone!

The dinner was international style and they had the largest ham and beef roast I’ve ever seen. I went straight for the seafood – huge river prawn, squid, mussels and some asparagus. What was also amazing is that once you finish a beer, another one kept magically appearing. At one point I looked at my sister and said ‘watch this.’ I finished my beer, set it down and then started counting backward from 5. Right before I had a chance to say one, a hand appeared removing my empty glass and a full one appeared right there.

Everyone was presented a special commemorative framed piece of golden artwork – was really nice of them!

Right before going to sleep there was a knock at the door. Three of the ladies from Thai President Foods brought me this – mee crob! I had mentioned that I would love to try it while in Thailand. They actually went out and found me some! Was really nice! Imagine a Thai rice krispy treat, sticky and full of spices, peppers, and more. I’m really going to miss this – it’s been such an amazing trip.

The Ramen Rater’s Trip To Thailand: Day 4 – Ratchaburi Province

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

At the breakfast buffet, I had to get a pic of the monster pile of bacon. It’s true – bacon is meat candy. After breakfast, we all grouped up in the lobby and got on big tour buses and took them into the country.

On the way out of Bangkok, I noticed motorbikes driving between the bus and the curb. Here in the states, this would be illegal and punishable. In Thailand, this is just people getting to where they need to go. I watched a video about driving in China recently and the narrator had an interesting analogy; here in the states, if you get cut off while driving, people will curse at the person who cut them off. But in Beijing, if you got cut off, that’s your fault since you left an opening for someone to take. All I can say is it seems to work very well over in Thailand – although I think if you dropped a bunch of drivers from here in the mix it would get bad really quickly!

Street vendors.

It’s really neat to watch the world go by in a foreign country; all the little differences just soak in to your head and make your brain swell with smiles – especially in Thailand.

Here we are, arriving at the President Rice Products factory in Ratchaburi province.

The inside was mostly white in color and very bright.

They had displays showing their product lines, and a little cart set up where you could sample one of their newer products, Tom Yum Goong Spicy Shrimp Soup which I have reviewed in the past and quite enjoyed!

There was a seminar about the different product lines and new products coming soon!

Those of us who smoked hopped in the back of a truck and got a ride to the little smoking tent offsite. I’m sure most of you who follow the blog know that I usually use e-cig products. Well, I wasn’t sure that they were allowed here so I ended up smoking menthols. Turns out one of the UK distributors had a vape with them – so that’s it. Next time I fly I’m bringing my vape with me.

One thing you also might know about me is that I’m legally blind, so I don’t get to drive (be glad that I don’t haha). Well in Thailand, the drivers side is on the opposite here, so I got to sit in what I’m used to having as the drivers seat – I gotta say it was pretty awesome!

I’m sorry to say that they had pretty tight security at this factory so I wasn’t able to tape any of the process. I can tell you the place was as clean as a whistle, and we all had to wear shoe covers, hair and face nets and lab coats. Very hot! Also in the actual factory floor area, we had to wear special clogs as well. We got to see the place where the rice came in and was sifted to remove and bits and pieces. Then we got to see where they to the packaging. We went up on a catwalk up above the factory floor and it happened to be above the boiler – I don’t know the temperature in there, but I’d guess – I dunno, 130 degrees Fahrenheit? Super hot. The people working in there are amazing! I guess you eventually acclimate to it. After the factory tour, we had lunch. In the above image, there’s fish cake and crispy fish.

This was some amazing tom yum – great stuff!

For dessert, they had coconut ice cream – actually made from coconut cream. I’ll say this – I don’t think I’ve ever had ice cream be that refreshing in my life. I was told that the little fruits that garnish this come from a special tree that only bears fruit once every 50 years – and then withers. Kind of a chewy, gummy texture.

Next we had a special event – a mini Iron Chef competition! I believe the chef here was on Iron Chef Thailand.

She demonstrated how to cook a couploe varieties and then some of the European agents teamed up and made them themselves.

I got to be one of the judges!

I ended up having a tie in my scores, but the winner were from the UK who had meticulously sliced some red chillies and loaded them on. Awesome stuff.

It was time to head out to the next festivity – a special dinner at the Dheva Mantra resort and spa.

Motorbikes!

A little food stand in the middle of the countryside.

I had no clue that karaoke was so popular in Thailand.

Then It hit me – I’ve heard this song two times now while here in Thailand. I didn’t expect to hear the Carpenters in Thailand. It reminds me of the Malaysia trip last year. I kept hearing this catchy tune over and over and asked our friend Thomas ‘hey I keep hearing this song over and over – what is it?’ Then with a Chinese accent, he says ‘oh – it’s Taylor Swift.’ What – like 10,000 miles from home to find out I’m a closet Taylor Swift fan? Absolutely surreal.

Chatting up about what I do.

Had such an awesome time – been meeting so many nice people!

My sister and I were totally beat so we decided to turn in early. The balcony at our room was great – sounds of the jungle. What was cool was that if you just sat and listened, you’d hear some new species of animal every minute or so. Another amazing day in Thailand!

The Ramen Rater’s Trip To Thailand: Day 3 – Seminar & Sightseeing

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

Another breakfast at the Chatrium Hotel. Like I said in a previous post, I love two things about Asia – fish and fruit. Tiny bananas rock and so does watermelon. I really liked their pancakes – they make them with white cake batter – they go awesome with pineapple! Then there were these weird things that were hairy looking.

They’re called Rambutan.

I couldn’t remember it was called Rambutan in the video, but here’s how you eat it!

Then we all piled on these little boats and took a tour up the Chaophraya river and down some canals. Was great!

Here we go up one of the canals. Was really hot and humid but the breeze was nice.

We disembarked down the river and then got on a barge where we all got to sample a ton of different fruit!

I mean a ton! The variety was just amazing.

The light colored one with what looks like garlic cloves on the left is Mangosteen. Durian is considered the King of fruit – Mangosteen is considered the Queen. There’s also that leaf wrapped mango – it has sticky rice with it and is second to none. The large wedge on the right is pomelo. I also tried jackfruit, which I would liken to a distant ‘light’ cousin of durian.

We then had a nice lunch – a lot of differed foods featuring a new variety of noodle called Mendake. It’s a non-fried noodle that doesn’t come with seasoning but is for those who want to make their own dishes. They had a little ‘build your ramen bar’ thing where you’d get some noodles, some broth and some roast duck and then top it with all sorts of different thing – very nice! The picture here has some sushi and some river prawn that were wrapped in the Mendake noodles and deep fried – worked very nicely!

It was then time for the seminar! I was really excited to check this out. I find everything related to instant noodles fascinating – from the manufacturing to the development to the may they get from so far away to where they end up.

They had lots of display tables set up with all the lines by Thai Foods. This table fascinated me – they had varieties manufactured in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Hungary and Myanmar. I asked if there was any chance I could get some samples since each and every one you see here are varieties I’ve not reviewed. Sure enough, they were happy to oblige! I’ve been reviewing some of them as I’ve been doing this travelog!

We were shown to our seats to see this – such an honor! Wow!

Ms. Pojjanee is the Vice President at Thai President Foods. She sent me an email just after New Year’s asking if I’d like to come to Thailand and take part in this event. It was an honor to be mentioned like this – both myself and my sister are very grateful to have been invited here – we were honored to meet you and everyone else and will never forget this epic voyage!

Ms. Pojjana also played a big role in our attending the event. When we were making arrangements, I mentioned that my son’s birthday was in a week after I returned so was hoping to find him something Pokemon related in Thailand or on the way there. During the welcome dinner, she brought me a big stuffed Pikachu to give him! Thank you!

I think my favorite part of the seminar was the talk Mr. Songphop gave on food quality, food fraud and other compliance topics. I am very interested in these topics and his speech made me feel like I was in college again. Wish I could take a class from him on it. There are a lot of food standards that factories strive to get – ISO-9001 for example. Do you know what ISO-9001 is? Look it up. Don’t be surprised if you see instant noodle packaging with it prominently labeled on the back. Standards like this mean that the factory where the foods are manufactured have been rigorously checked for quality, cleanliness and more. I think a lot of the stigma of the instant noodle’s quality would be assuaged if consumers knew what these standards meant. Therefore, I plan on doing a special post about these standards in the near future to help educate folks on the requirements to attain them in hopes of educating people why they are so important. Thanks for the inspiration Mr. Songphop!

A group photo of everyone – I’m in the back!

After a bit of time to relax, we all met down by where the earlier boat tour started from and boarded a dinner cruise!

We got to check out a traditional dance and music!

The monkey.

…and the fish.

Here’s some video of the performance.

We ate wonderful corry, wrapped chicken in leaves and all things amazing. The views of Bangkok at night were amazing. Next stop was Asiatique.

It was explained to me that Asiatique is a night market made up of old East Asia Company warehouses. Lots of things to buy! I looked everywhere to find placemats and found this guy who had something that would work. Our friend Mr. Banks encouraged us to haggle. My sister got cornered by him – he was very interested in selling her a scarf after she bought a tapestry. I’ll never forget when he tried to sell her a scarf and exclaimed ‘it is the natural color of the goat ma’am. It is the highest quality.’ His t-shirt said ‘I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.’ Priceless. I found a few gifts to bring home and was quite happy with my haul.

We took tuk tuks to get back to the hotel. A tuk tuk has one wheel in the front and two in the back and disco lights and is a great experience – I had all I could do to keep myself whooping it up on the ride! That was really great!

Mr. Songphop and the guys from the Hungarian factory had to get back to work tomorrow, so we had to say goodbye even through my trip was only half over – great bunch of guys! My sister arrived in her tuk tuk a minute later and we headed up to get some shuteye. Another amazing day in Bangkok.

The Ramen Rater’s Trip To Thailand: Day 1 – Departure & Arrival

THAITRIP-HEAD

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

A few months ago, I received an email from Ms. Pojjanee over the Thai President Foods. They make MAMA instant noodles and I had recently done a Meet The Manufacturer series with them. It was just after New Year’s and she asked if my wife and I would like to visit their factories in Thailand! There was one hitch though – my wife would be in her third trimester of her pregnancy at the time of the trip and we both agreed that it might be a little too much for her unfortunately. My sister was happy to take her place if it was alright, and it was. With that, here we go on our trip!

So the first leg of our flight left from Seattle, Washington at 1:50am May 14th. A well-packed plane took off on time.

We were greeted to water bottles in our seats. I had no clue how many water bottles I’d bsee on our trip – good thing really; Asia’s a hot place this time of year!

On the little screen embedded in the seatback in front of us, you can watch movies as well as this little GPS animation – really amazing that most of the time we were at 35,000ft, going over 500mph and the temperature outside was usually 40 degrees below zero – that’s cold!

After about 12 hours, we arrived in Taipei at Taoyuan Airport. We had a couple hours to mill around so we checked things out.

Back in October on my trip through here on my way to Penang, the theme was large sculptures of insects and beetles on fruit. This time, little people with large eyeball heads was the theme.

A Hello Kitty airplane! I found out they have Hello Kitty neck pillows, Hello Kitty food and even Hello Kitty printed toilet paper on these.

The Hello Kitty airplanes have their own Hello Kitty gate, and nearby, a Hello Kitty breastfeeding room.

We opted to skip this one – sounded a little rough.

Next was our flight to Bangkok – we were glad that it was much shorter than the 12 hours it took to get to Taipei!

Here’s my sister on a travelator at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. Getting through security was really easy and the man who checked my passport even smiled at me at the end! We got our luggage and met the guys who took us to our hotel room to relax a bit before going out to have something to eat.

Bangkok’s street were bustling with motorbikes and cars. Hot, humid and vibrant.

We stayed at the Chatrium Hotel, which is next to the Chaophraya river, a main waterway through Bangkok.

The room was very spacious and comfortable – but the real perk was outisde on the balcony.

We both almost fell over when we saw this amazing view. We were on the 23rd floor and could see everything! We tried to relax a bit but basically ended up just staring out the window just saying ‘wow’ a lot.

A view from the balcony.

The guys picked us up again and took us to a restaurant on the river called Lotus. Here we have some creamy shrimp tom yum soup.

Crab curry.

I had mentioned that I was very interested in trying Durian. Durian in known as the King of Fruit!

It’s a tough one to describe – definitely has to be experienced firsthand. It’s texture is kind of like a banana mixed with the stringiness of what you’d find inside a pumpkin. It has a very creamy kind of texture, reminiscent of papaya and ice cream. The one thing is that it has a smell – very strong smell!

A video my sister took of me trying fresh Durian for the first time. Mr. Banks (across from me) seemed fascinated to see how I’d react to the flavor.

They gave us a little sealed tray of it to have after dinner in the room. Now, during my time in Langkawi I remember seeing a sign in the hotel there that said no pets or Durian was allowed. Back at the Chatrium Hotel, we were going up the elevator and I noticed it started to smell. When we got to the room, it became quite evident that the smell was quickly filling the room! We tried putting it into a couple plastic bags, but no dice – the King of Fruit couldn’t be stopped! We knew then it had to go away!

We went back down to the lobby where I asked how it should be disposed up – the concierge had a very disapproving look and said it wasn’t allowed in the hotel and that I should find a receptacle outside the hotel to put it. Here’s the little trash can we found a little ways down. It’s funny – I really liked Durian a lot in my mouth, but not so much in my nose! It was really nice to now have a Durian story with me now.

Finally it was time to go to sleep – a long journey to Bangkok was over and a week of seeing new places, people and sights await!

Travels: Back From Thailand

So our trip to Thailand was absolutely amazing – met some really great people, checked out two noodle factories, tried some great food, saw wonderful sights! All this said, it’s good to be back home. I’m recovering from jet lag and will be posting a day-by-day travelogue in a week or so as a new Meet The Manufacturer will be starting very shortly. Until then, let me just say that Thailand was so different from expectations; I thought since it was so close to Penang and Langkawi (about a 2 hour flight) that it would be much the same, but boy was I wrong! It’s completely different! Can’t wait to share it with everyone!

The Ramen Rater’s Trip to Malaysia: Day 6 – Farewell, Penang

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

Well folks, this is it. The last day we were in Malaysia. With a heavy heart and fond memories, here it is. By the way – during the times traveling around in the van – a great portion of our stay – they always has this radio station on. Check it out!

A look out the window of our hotel room on our last day in Penang.

The little free mini bar always had neat little treats inside. This is one of those international Kit Kat bars. To be honest, it does taste different – chocolate here seems a lot tastier.

A Coke can commemorating the World Cup.

We got all ready and waited a couple minutes in the lobby for Annie and her parents who took us out to breakfast!

Maxim Dim Sum Restaurant in Georgetown. I had always thought of dim sum as a lunchtime thing, but people here in Penang take their dim sum at breakfast time.

A really big place, very open and airy.

A great idea; dim sum creates a LOT of little dishes to clean!

Big – and packed to the gills for breakfast.

Little pork buns.

Think this was a rice noodle dish.

These were like little dark skinned potstickers – very moist.

Ladyfinger with pork.

Egg yolk buns.

I remember these were sweet and good as well.

Crispy outside, nice chewy innards.

Buns with chocolate pudding like filling.

Little custard tarts.

We took this tea with our big meal.

A dry crispy outside with a prawn filling.

A chewy fried flat with a filling.

I think these were tofu – had a kind of smoky taste.

Little pieces with a slivered almond coating and sweet paste filling.

The buns at top had a red bean paste filling and the below was filled with custard.

Just completely demolished! One thing I found great – I asked if they had one of our favorites here – honey walnut prawns. They had never heard of it, which makes me think it’s an invention just for dim sum in the United States. It’s fried prawns with a honey and mayonnaise sauce and glazed walnuts.

After that big meal they wanted me to try one last Hokkien Prawn Mee! We checked out Granny’s Hokkien Mee. Far be it for me to say no to a last taste of one of Penang’s famous flavors.

When you order at a lot of restaurants, you pick up an order chit and fill it out and give it to the server (click image to enlarge).

A combination of duck and pork.

The final bowl of Hokkien Mee.

Going to miss Penang so much! Our next stop was Penang International Airport, where we said our goodbyes to Annie and their parents. everyone was so kind here! She even sent us off with some of the new MyKuali tom Yum noodle and a couple bags of fresh chilli paddi! Thank you for everything!

We checked in and got through security. We had a little time to kill, so looked around a bit.

Excuse me; what?

Saw this first on our way to Langkawi and had asked Thomas about it. He explained it’s a cup of corn with butter and salt. I told him how in the US we have corn on the cob. I got the feeling that he thought that was really odd!

Here’s the plane for our first hop to Kuala Lumpur.

When we applied for our passports a few months ago, the lady at the passport place asked where we were going. She said she’d be scared to fly on Malaysian Airlines. That sentiment was echoed by lots of people I told to about the trip – they’d say ‘oh wow that exciting – wait, what airline are you flying?’ I’m going to say quite clearly here – I wasn’t worried at all. It was a short hop to Kuala Lumpur (like 55 minutes) and just like any other airline, they don’t want anything bad to happen. We hopped on and had a great flight – probably the softest landing of any of the 8 flights we had during the entire trip. I’d fly them again any day! Especially since that would mean we were on our way to or from Malaysia!

We got to Kuala Lumpur and much like Singapore, it was a lot of walking all over the place. We had to transfer our luggage from Malaysia Airlines to EVA, go through security and stuff and figure out where what was. This shot is of us when we were up in the air on our EVA flight from KL to Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport.

The flight took about 4 hours or so, and the next part of our trip would be the only rough spot really.

Time for a bite to eat at Taoyuan. We had a three hour layover until our next flight, which would be a 10 hour bender to Seattle. It had been a long day already and departure was at 11pm. Since we had the time, we walked around and looked for instant noodles. Turns out if we were in the domestic terminal, there was a 7-11 that would’ve had some, but here there weren’t any to be found. I asked the guy at the Burger King.

Got some little pork buns to chow down.

Some milk tea sounded good too.

She looks like us – waiting for a flight.

Poor Kit – we were absolutely exhausted.

I’m guessing the characters are phonetic? First and third must be like a ko sound?

Much like Mello Yello.

Out one of the windows we could see the Hello Kitty plane!

Checking boarding passes before we got to wait in another area to board.

Kit noticed this guy staring at us, then I noticed it too. He just kept staring… And staring… And staring! If this is you, you could’ve taken a picture and it would’ve lasted longer – I did!

This is after the hell. This was the worst flight I’ve ever experienced. It was really hot and there was no air conditioning. The worst part was that there was the most violent turbulence I’ve ever dealt with. If I hadn’t had my belt on, I definitely would’ve flown out of my seat. After we returned, we found out there had been a typhoon over Japan at around the same time. We were at around 40,000ft, but it was right around the time we were crossing over Japan. I thought I was gonna puke. I’m really glad though that it all happened at the tail end of the trip – way better than at the beginning! Anyways, this pic of after all of that and we were about to have the second meal, about an hour or two before landing.

Not a lot to do on an airplane but look at the little navigation screen slowly update your journey and watch movies. I thought I’d review the in-flight meal: Pork Porridge!

Here’s some marinated carrot with some chicken.

Not just any butter – butter from New Zealand!

The little biscuit thing actually wasn’t too bad.

Pork porridge!

Fish floss! It’s like powdered fish that’s been sugared.

Pork porridge with fish floss. Pretty good.

Apple, pineapple and honeydew. In flight meals from EVA were pretty dang good. We got two meals during the flight. The food on all the flights were actually decent – and included.

Our flight from Taipei left at 11pm on October 4th. Our flight arrived in Seattle – and arrived at 7pm on October 4th. The flight took 10 hours. Really a strange thing for our brains to deal with. United States Customs was pretty slow but went well. Since we’d brought back food (instant noodles, chocolate and fresh chilli paddi), we got shunted to a different lane for xray. The Department of Agriculture agent had a look through everything. She was pretty nice and we chatted about instant noodles a bit. She said they were probably one of the most common things to be coming through for inspection! Another agent came up and has a look and she mentioned to him how I have a website where I review instant noodles. ‘Oh yeah? What’s it called?’ he asked. I showed him my t-shirt and said ‘it’s The Ramen Rater!’ ‘I was on the just yesterday! We get a TON of instant noodles through here!’ Wow – so people from Customs are looking at the blog. Pretty cool! They pulled three instants that had chicken in them and let the rest go. Now we were home which was weird. What a trip!

Some things I noticed on my trip: here, our roads are huge – really wide and lots of them. In Malaysia, they streets are more narrow. We only saw maybe two cars that had been in accidents during the whole trip and here we see cars on the side of the road due to accidents at least once a day. There’s so much more room and not a million motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic; why do we hit each other so much?

I think the most stark difference between the US and Malaysia was how people come together. Here in the USA, we call ourselves the great melting pot. Well, everyone seems segregated – these people live here, these people live here etc. In Malaysia, it truly felt like everyone lived, worked and played together quite harmoniously. I think we could learn a lot from how things worked in this aspect from Malaysia.

(Click image to enlarge) In closing, I would like to say this trip really changed my perceptions of the world. Before this, the farthest I’d been from home was the east coast and Canada. At the beginning, I mentioned I felt like Frodo (or was it Samwise) in Lord Of The Rings when he said ‘this is the farthest I’ve ever been from the Shire.’ On returning, I feel kind of like Frodo looked when having a drink at the bar with his mates; glad to be home but forever changed by the experience. It was just amazing; all preconception of how it would be there was different than what it was. I definitely have caught the bug – the travel bug. I want to explore and see it all; especially in Asia. I also dearly wish to return to Penang someday and experience the tastes we were able to experience there again. I want to thank everyone at Sky Resources/Sky Thomas Food Industries Sdn Bhd for the warm welcome and for this experience. I also want to especially thank Annie and Thomas Tang and their parents – you made us feel so welcome and your kindness and smiles warmed our hearts – thank you and we hope to see you again!

It’s been just over a week now since we’ve been home. The whole jet lag thing is some real stuff – I think we’re just on the tail end of readjusting to everything.

The Ramen Rater’s Trip To Malaysia: Day 1 – Departure & Arrival

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

From September 29th to October 4th, my wife Kit and I were treated to a visit to Malaysia by the kind folks at Sky Thomas Food Industries Sdn Bhd, makers of MyKuali Penang White Curry Noodles. The purpose of the trip was not to promote for them, but to show us the foods of Penang. Here is the first day of the trip!

We left our place in Lynnwood, Washington to go to Seattle Tacoma Int’l airport around 9pm. Our flight didn’t leave until 2am, but we had to get there, check our bags, go through security, etc. We ended up with a bit of time to kill so we explored a bit and waited.

On the plane (actually, we followed George Carlin’s advice and got IN the plane). The carrier was EVA airlines. We have two transfers – one to Singapore and then to Penang. The flight was going to be over 12 hours – a lot of sitting, but since we’d been up at around 8am, we figured we’d sleep quite a bit. Adrenaline from the excitement made that a little tough though.

We got two meals on the flight – the first was pretty quick after departure.

The meals were actually pretty good – this one was chicken with mashed potatoes and veggies with a little bun, butter, small salad, fresh fruit and a little cake.

Let me introduce you to my little friend – the remote. That screen with the map was a touchscreen and this remote worked it as well. What was a trip was it doubled as a phone you could use to make in-flight calls.

After flying by Alaska, the Sea of Okhotsk (a place I found fascinating by name as a child) and over Japan, we were in Taiwan!

I felt like Frodo (or was it Samwise) from Lord Of The Rings when he said ‘this is the farthest I ever been from the Shire. One thing that was weird was that during the flight, we crossed the dateline. Taipei is 15 hours ahead of our timezone. It got dark here around 7pm, and we were ahead of the sun for the whole flight, so we had around 18 hours of darkness – really messes with your brain.

Here I am in Taipei! They have lots of these HeySong Sarsparilla vending machines there – which is my son’s favorite drink!

So $50USD is about 1000NTD, so a soda is a buck.

My wife Kit was so stoked – she’s a Hello Kitty aficionado and they have a big Hello Kitty store there – as well as a gate that is Hello Kitty themed for the Hello Kitty plane. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to fly on one of those, but this was pretty awesome! We next boarded another EVA flight for Singapore.

Here’s the only pic I took in Singapore. It was a very busy airport and we found we had to go to this place, then that place and spent a good amount of time speedwalking on travelators – that’s what the horizontal conveyor belt walkways are called. We’d planned on doing a little shopping here, but literally bolted through everything in perfect time to be a minute or so early for boarding. Then we got on a SilkAir flight to Penang.

We have arrived in Penang! Wow!

We emptied out of the arrival hall into this area with all these guys with signs – most of them were taxi drivers waiting to take people to their final destinations. Many were for big tech companies like Western Digital, Intel, and more. Our first impression of Penang was all about heat and humidity – like walking into a bathroom where someone just took a shower – steamy! We got a hold of our hosts Annie and Thomas and soon we were off for a first meal in Penang!

The first place we went to was Dragon-I at Gurney Plaza. They serve ‘Shanghainese’ delights of all kinds! The first thing we tried were boiled peanuts – pretty neat little appetizer. Then we watched the chef hand pull noodles and make us bowls of soup! Kit had pork dumpling soup and I had spicy braised beef – excellent! We also tried a noodle soup that was augmented with Century Egg – an aged egg that’s been marinated in different ingredients. It was good! I regret not taking lots of pictures here – it was excellent!

We next got to spend an hour or so to rest before dinner after checking into our room at the Eastin Penang hotel. This is the view out the window. We next went to a resort where I did a quick interview with a local magazine and photoshoot. Then off to dinner!

Dinner was at the new Sri Ananda on Macallister. It was a big and busy place. so hot and humid outside and we hadn’t acclimated to the climate so we all ate inside. One thing to know is that in Penang, most restaurants seem to be outside or very open.

We dined with Annie and Thomas who are brother and sister and both work at Sky thomas Foods as well as their parents (the masters of curry)! This place has wonderful Indian food! Here is their Fish Head Curry.

Calamari!

Cheese curry on the left and I believe lamb shank curry on the right.

You don’t use a dish here; you get a huge piece of banana leaf like a placemat and eat everything off of it! Plus, you get to use your hands a lot – was fun and very colorful.

Ladyfingers in sauce.

Can’t remember exactly what this was – but everything was wonderful. Another dish (not pictured) was a thin and chewy flatbread that was pulled and served with a really nice masala.

As we left, we were bid farewell by this little elephant statue. Our long, long day was over – I think we’d been up for 35+ hours, and it was time to hit the sack and rest up for tomorrow.

Return From Penang, Malaysia!

We have returned from our journey to Penang, Malaysia!! Our flight from Taipei, Taiwan arrived in Seattle around 7pm last night. This is a picture of where we were waiting for our shuttle to the parking light where we left our car. The flight left at 11pm Taiwan time, which is the same for Malaysia too – and then arrived the same day but 4 hours earlier! So we got back 15 hours all said and done which was kind of odd – time traveling! Over the next week starting Monday, I am going to do a new daily noodle review, and then a post highlighting everything of that day during our trip. At the end, I’ll be reviewing the new MyKuali Tom Yum instant noodle – my 1,500th review. Stay tuned!

#1485: Nongshim Spicy Tonkotsu Noodle Soup

Here’s a new one and it’s made here in the United States. Yep – there’s a Nongshim plant here in the US! I was able to visit them a couple years ago and it’s really neat – if you get a chance, you should check out their plant tours! Tonkotsu is a very standard variety of Japanese ramen, however this one’s got a spicy twist to it. Usually tonkotsu broth is made with pork bones that are boiled for a long time and this one does in fact contain pork. Let’s have a look!

Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). Contains pork. To prepare, add everything except contents of oil sachet to 550ml boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Add in oil sachet, stir and enjoy!

The noodle block.

A dry soup base sachet.

Has a nice meaty and spicy scent.

The vegetables sachet.

Looks like green onions and seaweed.

The spicy garlic oil sachet.

Smells like a sesame and garlic kind of thing going on.

 

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added hard boiled egg, pork butt sauteed with soy sauce, mung bean sprout, sliced green onion and kizami shoga. The noodles are very premium – strong on the chewiness which really surprised me – like they were designed for this variety distinctly which was really a nice surprise. The broth has a nice rich flavor and a good heat to it. The vegetables were alright, too. The amazing thing is the large sliced of garlic that hydrate so nicely – they’re excellent! 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. UPC bar code 031146025831.


Never had these before? These are definitely a must try if not.

I nominated my friend Ray over at Nongshim America for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge a few weeks back. He’s a great sport and went all in!

Invitation To Visit MyKuali In Penang, Malaysia!

 

Well I’m really excited today! My wife and I have been invited to visit MyKuali in Penang, Malaysia! Wow! Our flight’s booked and we’re getting ready for it later this month! The furthest from home here in the northwest I’ve been was the east coast in Georgia way back in 1995, and the only other country I’ve visited has been Canada. This is going to be really amazing! Thank you so much to MyKuali – this is absolutely great and I can’t wait to share pictures and words about our trip with everyone when we return! It’s still a few weeks away and we’re really excited!

I never expected my obsession with instant noodles would go this far – it’s pretty surreal to be honest.It all started back when I was a kid and my mom would make me that Nissin Roasted Ramen and then they stopped making it and we hit up Uwajimaya, a big Japanese grocery in Seattle and found all these interesting different kinds of instant noodles to try. In 2002 I started Ramen Rater (added the ‘The’ a little later LOL) and since then it’s changed a lot, but really is the same original thought behind it: I like to try new things. Twelve years later, and I’m off to Malaysia! Wow. I guess it goes to show that if you do what you love, good things will happen.

I want to say thank you so much to MyKuali for extending this kindness and can’t wait to visit the place you make your exceptional noodles!