March 2018


Amazing Sights at Batu Caves (plus: monkeys!)

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaI’ve seen a lot of impressive things over the course of this trip, but the entrance to Batu Caves — featuring a towering, 140 foot golden statue — is right up there.

I mean, look at that thing.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Then you climb up all those stairs (it’s a lot of stairs), and there’s an enormous cave with multiple temples inside.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It’s pretty incredible.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

That’s not to mention the monkeys!

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

There are dozens of monkeys that just hang around on the steps and near the entrance to the cave.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

As you can see, they were pretty much the best.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Even if the caves themselves weren’t spectacular (which they were), it would be worth coming here just to see the monkeys.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Plus, here’s some video I took of a monkey eating a banana.  Yes: I got to see a real-life monkey eating a banana, so I think it’s safe to say that my life has peaked and that it’s all downhill from here.

McDonald’s Around the World: Malaysia Edition

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaWell, the trip is drawing to a close, which means that this is my last taste of international McDonald’s weirdness.

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

First up: the Golden Prosperity Burger, which consists of a chicken patty (it’s also available in beef), a hash brown, black pepper sauce, and onions.  I didn’t care for this one at all.  For one thing, it was easily the sloppiest burger I’ve ever had at McDonald’s; the soft bun was barely even able to hold up under all that sauce.  The chicken patty was really bottom-of-the-barrel — it was one of the shoddiest reconstituted chicken patties I’ve ever had.  Plus, the sauce was just one-note peppery.  It really needed pickles or something acidic to balance things out a bit.

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Up next was the Bubur Ayam McD, which was a rice porridge with chicken, green onions, fried shallots, ginger, and sliced chilis.  This was actually not bad at all — the rice had a good texture, and all of the flavours worked pretty well together, with the fried shallots adding some crunch.

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Last but not least was the Red Bean Pie.  This was about as close to a sure thing as it gets.  I mean, it’s a crispy fried McDonald’s pie filled with tasty red bean filling.  Yeah, it was quite good.

Uncle Bean

Uncle Bean in Kuala LumpurLine-ups for food are a traveler’s best friend.  Have I mentioned this before?  I have?  A million times?  Well, it’s true.

The latest line-based discovery: a street food stand called Uncle Bean, which serves up some seriously delicious tofu-based desserts.

There’s a few things on the menu, but most people seemed to be ordering the tau fu fa, which is an incredibly creamy tofu pudding.  They have a few different syrups you can top it with (the tofu itself isn’t sweet at all); I got the brown sugar ginger.

Uncle Bean in Kuala Lumpur

It was really, really good.  The tofu is silky and amazing; it doesn’t taste like much, but that’s what the syrup is for.  A lot of ginger-based desserts are a bit too overpowering for me, but the syrup here managed to strike a perfect balance of sweetness with a very subtle ginger kick.  Bonus: it cost about 50 cents Canadian.  I could eat a million of these.

Is it a Speedboat or Public Transit? It’s Both!

Speedboat / public transit in Bangkok, ThailandThe other day I plugged my destination into Google Maps, as I am wont to do (no joke: Google Maps single-handedly makes this trip possible, because my navigation skills are nonexistent).  The public transit directions seemed to indicate that I take a boat, which seemed odd, but I went with it.

The directions brought me to a rickety old dock next to a narrow river.  After a couple of minutes, boat showed up, pulled over to the side of the dock for about ten seconds, then left again.

About five minutes later, another boat pulled up; this time I got on.  There’s no plank — you just jump on, and then someone comes around to collect your fare.

It was an odd experience, especially since the boat goes fast.

I felt pretty woozy by the time I got to my destination, but it was such a memorable way to get there that I didn’t even mind.

Crispy Little Pancake Tacos

Khanom bueang at Terminal 21 food court in Bangkok, ThailandHere’s a very pleasant surprise, and something I hadn’t even heard of until I came to Bangkok: khanom bueang, a Thai dessert that consists of thin, crispy pancakes with a generous spread of a creamy Italian-meringue-like substance, along with other fillings (the one I tried had egg yolk threads, though coconut was also an option).

This was really, really good.  It probably helped that they were made fresh at this booth in the food court in the Terminal 21 mall (the food courts here are so much better than the food courts back home, it’s ridiculous).

Khanom bueang at Terminal 21 food court in Bangkok, Thailand

The pancakes were crispy and fresh, and were kind of like a cross between a crepe and a cookie.   The creamy meringue worked perfectly with the crispy pancake, and though the egg yolk threads didn’t add much (they were just kind of chewy and tasteless), they didn’t detract, either.

Khanom bueang at Terminal 21 food court in Bangkok, Thailand

I got an order of 10 of them, and I figured I’d eat a few right away and then save the rest for later.  But of course they all wound up in my belly immediately, which I probably should have predicted.  I’m not really a “save delicious food for later” kind of guy.

It’s Offaly Good

Nai-Ek Roll NoodlesFunnily enough, one of the best things I’ve eaten in Bangkok isn’t Thai at all — it’s Chinese, from a Michelin-rated restaurant in Bangkok’s Chinatown called Nai-Ek Roll Noodles.

As you’d expect from a place that’s cheap and Michelin-approved, it’s quite busy.  But the line moves fast, so within ten minutes or so, I was in.

Nai-Ek Roll Noodles

The menu is fairly extensive, but “Roll Noodles” is right there in the name.  I got a bowl of noodle soup that came with minced pork, sliced pork, and crispy pork belly, along with some organs — stomach, liver, kidney, and tongue (plus, they don’t mention it in the menu, but there were also intestines in there; it was quite the cornucopia of pig innards).

Nai-Ek Roll Noodles

It was really, really good.  The soup had a bit of a kick, with a nice peppery flavour.  And the noodles were kind of like a Chinese version of penne pasta.

Nai-Ek Roll Noodles

Plus, the pork belly managed to stay crispy even in the soup, and all of the various organs were prepared perfectly — no off flavours here at all.

McDonald’s Around the World: Thailand Edition

McDonald's in Bangkok, ThailandYep, another country, another visit to McDonald’s.  Let’s do this.

McDonald's in Bangkok, Thailand

First up: the McD Patongko.  This is just a tube-shaped piece of fried bread.   I had something similar to this (called a youtiao) from a street vendor in China.  Though that version was actually quite good on its own, this one seemed like it would have been much improved with a dipping sauce of some sort.  It was very plain.  But it was fine, I guess?

McDonald's in Bangkok, Thailand

Next: the Bacon & Pepper Chicken Cheesy Egg Bun.  I quite liked this one; it’s basically a cheesy omelette sandwich with a fried chicken patty and some bacon.  The fried chicken patty wasn’t great, but the omelette was satisfyingly cheesy and gooey, and the bacon was above average.  I want a cheesy omelette in every burger I have from McDonald’s from now on.  I’m going to need someone to make that happen.

McDonald's in Bangkok, Thailand

I saw a bunch of people in the restaurant eating the Big Spicy Fried Chicken, so I figured I should probably try that too.  It certainly earns the “Big” part of its name — it was an absolutely massive piece of fried chicken consisting of  a thigh with some white meat attached.  It was extremely Popeyes-esque, with an aggressively crunchy outer layer.  But it was barely spicy at all, sadly.

McDonald's in Bangkok, Thailand

For dessert, I tried the Corn Pie, because how can you not try something called a corn pie?   It wasn’t great.  It was crispy and fried, at least, but the filling was basically just corn-flavoured glop.  There were also a bunch of pieces of corn in there.

McDonald's in Bangkok, Thailand

I also got the Jelly Trio Chocolate, which is a chocolate sundae with strawberry jelly at the bottom.  This was way better than I was expecting; the jelly was on the chewier side, and it paired surprisingly well with the ice cream and the sauce.  Berries and chocolate is a pretty classic combination, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised it works as well as it does.

Mind-blowing Chicken Satay in Bangkok

Jay Eng in Bangkok, ThailandThough a lot of the food I’ve been eating in Bangkok has been a bit underwhelming, there’s definitely been some good stuff, too.  Such as: this amazing chicken satay I had from a place called Jay Eng.

Jay Eng in Bangkok, Thailand

Everything about it was just right: it was super tender, the marinade was really tasty, and it had a nice smoky flavour from the grill.  And that peanut sauce?  Bananas.  It was like a nuclear bomb of flavour.  Perfection.

Jay Eng in Bangkok, Thailand

I’d say it’s the best chicken satay I’ve ever had, but then I had some pretty amazing ones in Singapore a couple of years ago; I’d have to try them side-by-side to know which was better.