Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yum!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

QQ Rice Hits Welli!

Oh my gosh! This is what has been driving me (and probably my friends) completely bonkers recently. I can't stop thinking (and talking) about it.

QQ Rice opposite the bus stop on Dixon Street, Wellington.
It's a franchise store from Taiwan. They serve up very tasty, affordable rice rolls. It's kinda like Subway but heaps better and with Asian flavours. Yummy.

People are begging for quick healthy food options and this my friends is the way to go!

You choose from eight different types of rice (e.g. sesame, purple, red, wholewheat, mixed grain etc). They lay it out flat across their palm and then add the fillings of your choice. There are so many different combos to choose from that I reckon if I go there every day for the next few months, I'll be able to have a different roll each time :)

It comes in a lovely little bundle like this (NZ$5.90)
This one is one of my favourites so far. Its one from their menu (Teriyaki Chicken) as opposed to custom made.
This is one of Bigheads custom made rolls with spicy peanut chicken, crispy caraway, egg slice, mushrooms and emperor vegetables.

I love QQ Rice!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Reason #4

Before we left I posted this. The pic was taken in Kuala Lumpur when we passed through five years ago. This guy and his wee coal bbq is where our satay infatuation all began, so it was fitting that on our last night in the city we stumbled across him once more. He was in the exact same spot, we weren't even looking for satay but we absolutely had to stop. I'm so happy he's still cooking up a satay storm!He can be found on Julan Sultan, on the left just past Julan Hang Lekir as your heading towards Julan Cheng Lock.I can't remember exactly how much it was but it was cheap as chips - like 50sen a stick or something.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Four excellent reasons to stuff your face in Kuala Lumpur

Reason #1

Exceptionally cheap, mouth watering South Indian food.

When Bighead and I set foot in India years ago we were expecting to go crazy on a whole lot of malai kofta's and butter chicken's. Little did we know that there's actually a whole range of other regional delights. In New Zealand the main style of Indian cuisine is Northern (which is fairly expensive) but if you hunt it down, you can find some well priced Southern styles.

Here's just a small selection of the delights we sampled in KL (take me back!).
Puri Bhaji

Vegetarian Thali

My Fav - Mango Chutney

Vada Sambar

Masala Dosa

Paneer Uttupam

Chai Masala

Reason #2

Malaysian Roti. We certainly don't get roti like this here in little ol NZ (Well I can really only speak for Wellington). It's surprisingly light, crispy on the outside, stretchy in the middle and just plain yummy!
Check out all the different types and check the prices! Oh my giddy Aunt. That's Malaysian Ringgits (half that for NZ$).

Reason #3

The multitude of Chinese food on offer.

The Gourmet Food Stall on Jalan Petaling in Chinatown has a range of different counters offering all types of Chinese food. This counter in particular is exactly like a little restaurant we went crazy at during the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, offering buffet style meals where all dishes are completely vegetarian. One plate served with rice costs about 5MR (NZ$2.50). Love it!

Reason #4

Can you guess? There's a clue in my early posts.

Monday, November 17, 2008

How long has it been?

You know what, I've been feeling quite guilty about not having blogged in so long. I didn't even finish my rant about KL. The western world has sucked me in and sapped me of any spare time I once had... gone are the endless days of daydreaming in the hot hot sun... ah who am I kidding? I've just been plain lazy.

I'll have to get back to KL later because what actually inspired me to write again was this:
We bought this wee bbq for just NZ$40 and she's a little ripper. We've been spoilt with a few extremely calm, sunny days of late (not all that common in Wellington) and Bighead has been chomping at the bit to crank up the old barbie. We had two problems with this, the first being that we no longer own a bbq (problem solved with said ripper), the second being that the few friends we have left in Welli are all vegetarians! A vege barbie is all good but I must admit we were keen to have a taste of some good old kiwi beef so I called up my trusty old carnivorous bro and we were set.Doesn't it make your mouth water? Nice job boys.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mmm... Indian Sweets

When they're out on the street like this in massive piles, how can one possible resist?
We have Indian sweets like this available in NZ but I've never tasted any as fresh and light as these. Absolutely scrumptious. It certainly brings back fond memories of travel through India where dedicated sweet shops could be found on every corner.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Perfect Timing

We struck gold with the timing of our visit to KL this time round. The whole city was decorated with lanterns and lights as the Muslim community had just celebrated the completion of Ramadan (Islamic month of fasting).

Alongside this, Little India was a buzz with the build up to a major Hindu holiday called Deepavali, also known as Diwali or The Festival of Lights - the lights signify the victory of good over evil within the individual. The whole area was set up with market stalls, stages and dazzling lights. Shops were shining with decorations and 'Happy Deepavali' banners. Delicious treats from a range of cuisines beckoned to be sampled.
Beautiful rangoli patterns could be seen all over town.
You could really sense the excitement surrounding the event and as you can imagine we went a little crazy on the food!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Three Cheers for Kuala Lumpur!

Our recent stop over in KL was completely unplanned. We were umming and arring over Vietnam or Laos but weren't too sure whether Bighead would be able to work properly in either (Cambodia had been difficult in this respect), besides, the lure of roti was too much to bare.

KL really impressed me this time round. The city seems to have cleaned up its act quite a lot and we certainly had no trouble finding things to do and food to eat (in fact we could have stayed another two weeks to explore more of the delights on offer!).

The population consists of mainly Muslims, with the remainder being Hindus or Buddhists. Gorgeous mosques and colourful Hindu and Buddhist temples can be seen all around the city.

The mish mash of architectural shapes and patterns is a feast for the eyes.
There are some really cool buildings and such a range of styles. Old, new, rounded, pointy, styly, garish, shiny, rough, clean, dirty, stunning, ugly... you name it.

My eyes were wide every time we traveled across the city. The small-town-New-Zealand in me must have been glaringly obvious (I mean like, even more than usual) as I couldn't help but point to every architectural delight I saw. I loved it!



Being a modern city there is also a large selection of shopping malls to choose from. Shopping malls that aim to be one stop shops. Mini cities. Internal towns. They have everything from food, clothing, and entertainment to furniture, crafts, and electronics.

There is one called Times Square, which along with its gazillion shops, it has an 18 theatre cinema and... wait for it... an indoor amusement park, complete with roller coaster! I still can't get over the size of it.And of course with the range of cuisines on offer, Malaysia scores quite highly on my foodometer. But that's next.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

SURPRISE!

After a total of...

eight hours on a train, two hours in taxis, twelve and a half hours on planes, thirteen hours waiting in transit, three boarder crossings, four airports and far too much airline food...
WE'RE HOME! In good old Wellington, New Zealand.

It's 5:30pm, I'm sitting in bed under the covers with my hood pulled right up over my head, it's blowing a gale outside and the rain is horizontal. It feels strange because I'm wearing jeans and have socks on. It's cold.

To be fair though, yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous Wellington day with clear blue skies and no wind. We had a great time surprising a few different people and I've had a much anticipated, lovely long cuddle with a cute wee newborn.

WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE? Aren't we supposed to be setting up camp in Thailand?

We've come home (sooner than anticipated obviously) to sort some things out regarding Bighead's business. It's growing even more rapidly than we'd anticipated which is great! We're not sure how long we'll be back but it's looking like it'll be at least until March/April next year.

Even though we've known for a while that we would be heading home, I'm still quite shell shocked that we're actually here. The last few weeks were such a whirlwind that I'd not put much thought into our return. It feels very strange.

The next few posts will be about our time in Kuala Lumpur, where we spent five days eating up a storm... mmm roti. After that? Not sure, perhaps I'll write some stuff about Welli. You'll just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mmm... a taste of India

I haven't posted any information about Indian food yet but the time has come my friends. Bighead and I always go on a bit of a rampage in search of it. Everywhere.

Cambodia has come up trumps (behind India itself of course) in this particular department. Phuket also has some great restaurants but none have out done this one. Yet.

Sher-e-Punjab is my all time favourite Indian restaurant. It's on Street 130, Phnom Penh (at the Riverside end). We've eaten there just about every day. All the dishes are completely different, both in flavour and look, the Malai Kofta is to die for.
Paneer Tikka Masala and Malai Kofta

The price is right, the flavour is right, the staff are right, the setting is right. The only thing that's not right is that they don't have any mango pickle, however, I am willingly to forgive this oversight cause these guys sure cook a mean feed!

Non Vegetarian Thali

Tasty Condiments

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Siem Reap to Phnom Penh : By Bus

The drivers here seem to be a little more reckless than in other Asian countries I've been to. I've seen about five near road accidents and one actual one since arriving in Cambodia.

On the way to the bus, our tuk tuk was travelling too closely behind the car in front so of course when the car braked suddenly, so did he. We didn't hit the car but the scooter buckled and the brakes stopped working. After sitting in the middle of the main road for a while, Bighead jumped out and helped push the tuk tuk to the side of the road. We ended up having to unload and jump in another tuk tuk to get to the bus on time, leaving the poor guy to sort it out himself.

The Mekong 'limousine' bus was much better than Angkor Express. Cleaner and more comfortable, although I believe each bus differs slightly so it's luck of the draw. The air con was working well and good suspension made the bumpy road bearable. Every so often the bus would bounce around so much that it would start to make this loud grinding noise above the back wheels. It would also shudder violently for short periods. I managed to read my book through all of this so I was happy enough.

About 40 minutes out of Phnom Penh the poor old bus finally gave out and chugged dramatically to a halt. I think the driver thought that if he just gunned it, he might be able to make it. Alas, we all tumbled out into the stinking hot afternoon and watched as the driver disappeared under the bus, to later emerge defeated and covered in grease.
The whole village (or at least it seemed) came out to watch. A lot of the local passengers began making calls for rescue. There was a scramble for luggage as others decided to flag down shared minibuses. It was all quite exciting for the first five minutes. After a while, we were told that another bus would arrive in 20 minutes so we decided to wait it out. It was hot and sticky by the road side, it was getting dark and the mozzies were arriving in full force. The view of the Mekong river across the road with locals gathering at its edge sure was something special though.
After about an hour, the bus that had supposedly had difficulty finding us, finally arrived (there's only one road so I'm not sure how this happened). As we climbed aboard we were greeted with that indescribable full body wave of euphoria that can only be felt the moment you pass from extreme humidity into a glorious, icy cool air conditioned space. Aaaaaah, the relief.

You'll know exactly the feeling (and moment) I'm talking about if you've ever been in tropical heat and had the luxury of air conditioning. It's best if you've been in the heat for too long when every molecule within, forces you towards a safe place. A mall or shop, any place will do so long as it has an air conditioning unit that's right above the door. As it pelts out its constant stream of loveliness and you walk your overheating body through it, it envelops you. Wraps you up in happiness until you feel you might float away. That's what I'm talking about. That moment (and feeling) has to be one of the most pleasurable, possibly even making all that hot sticky heat worth while!

So it wasn't the luckiest of days... or was it?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Siem Reap

Siem Reap is a cool little town, the old market is quaint and easily walkable outside of the mid day heat. We ended up spending a large chunk of the first day trying to find a mid range hotel with a decentwifi connection (one that would load a page in less than four minutes). No luck.

Some of the roads were a little bouncy...

We're not really in to traipsing around temples all day (let alone in extreme temperatures) so we planned to only spend a couple of hours visiting Angkor Wat and Ta Phrom. At 5:30am the crowds were already beginning to thicken and the touts were closing in. I was asked if I wanted tea, coffee or breakfast about 10 times in 10 minutes. Unfortunately the sunrise was a bit of afizzer so after wondering around for a bit we headed to Ta Phrom.

Somewhere between Angkor Wat and Ta Phrom I lost the park entry tickets. I think someone pinched them out of my back pocket, perhaps mistaking them for money. Who knows but we were still able to drive around the area, which we enjoyed just as much as being able to walk around Angkor Wat.

We tried to get into TaPhrom because it was the temple I wanted to see the most but they weren't having it. In hindsight, I reckon the best way to see the sites would be in a helicopter.

In the Old Market area of Siem Reap we found this funky vegetarian restaurant which we were quite excited about. The space was well furnished and it had some really nice finishing touches;
such as a funky little pepper grinder boxy thing, hand crafted cutlery and icy cold towels.




The kebabs were tasty and fresh, especially with the pepper sauce (although a tad over priced).
Bighead's green mango salad was a bit of a let down but the rest of the menu sounded like it would be worth exploring.