Malaysian fare with flair
Pantai Remis is not a destination that comes to mind when you think about trips to Malaysia. The small coastal town in Perak is about a 11/2-hour drive from the city of Ipoh, a better-known foodie haunt.
But going by the hometown noodles served at Apoze, a small coffee shop stall in Upper Paya Lebar Road, the town may be worth a visit for foodies who love going off the beaten track when leisure travel resumes.
You know the Curry Noodle and Dry Noodle (both $4.50) are legit when the stall attracts mostly Malaysian regulars, including those who are not from Perak. A friend who is from Penang makes it a point to visit the stall on his days off.
On my second visit, I took my cue from a customer in front of me who is from Pantai Remis, and ordered the noodles with an upgrade of an additional $2 for more shark meat. For $6.50 a bowl, you get plenty of value.
The 49-year-old cook, Madam Ngu Bee Khian, who is from Pantai Remis, insists on getting her round scad, baby white prawns and shark meat from a seafood supplier there.
The ingredients for both the curry and dry noodles are largely the same, except that the curry version is soaked in curry gravy.
The bean sprouts are perfectly blanched and retain their crunch. Stall regulars love the pieces of deep-fried round scad, called diao jing yu in Mandarin. But they are quite bony and may put off those who hate picking through fish bones.
Ask to have all shark meat if you are averse to bony fish. The shark meat is clean-tasting, meaty and gelatinous - like a fatty version of stingray in texture.
Unlike our local curry noodles, the Pantai Remis version contains much less coconut milk. The curry gravy is thin but flavoursome. Sweetness comes from a base stock of pork bones, ikan bilis, jicama and potato. The dish comes with a mix of yellow noodles and beehoon.
Deep-fried baby white prawns, which remind me of the deep-fried kawaebi (Japanese river shrimp) offered at izakayas, add sweetness and crunch.
For the dry version, the noodles are tossed in a sweet-savoury seasoning that contains dark soya sauce. A little of the curry gravy goes into the mix and is quickly absorbed by the noodles.
It is difficult to decide between the curry and dry noodles. I suggest going with a friend so you can order both to share.
The stall opened in 2018 with ban mian as its signature dish. It was only last August that Madam Ngu offered her two hometown noodle dishes to cater to Malaysians here who miss home.
Her ban mian ($3.50), which comes with generous portions of noodles, spinach and sliced pork collar, is also worth trying.
The soup is made using the same stock as the curry gravy. The factory-supplied handmade noodles are springy.
For a side dish, order the steamed dumplings ($4 for eight pieces, $5 for 10). The texture of the dumpling skin is chewy and supple like the handmade noodles. Madam Ngu makes her own filling from pork, garlic chives, carrot and garlic.
Where: Stall 2, 107 Upper Paya Lebar Road
MRT: Tai Seng
Open: 9am to 8pm (weekdays), 9am to 2pm (weekends)
Old-school soya bean milk
Those who long for the taste of old-school soya milk with no added preservatives ought to try the Soy Milk Higher In Calcium from First Brew ($9 for six 250ml bottles).
The price may seem eye-popping for soya milk, but the locally produced drink is made using non-GMO soya beans.
When I stumbled on the product at a petrol station last month (July), I bought two bottles after the cashier insisted it was delicious.
I was surprised at the quality - the milk is thick, unlike the watery ones you find even at stalls which specialise in selling soya milk and grass jelly. The bottle is also cute and recyclable.
I looked up the brand online and ended up purchasing 18 bottles from Shopee. I also bought the First Brew Herbal Drinks Bundle ($12.50 for six bottles), which has six flavours: Almond Drink, Ginseng Chrysanthemum, Water Chestnut, Prunella, Cane Barley and Luohan Chrysanthemum.
The Ginseng Chrysanthemum is a winning concoction - it has the distinct taste of ginseng and is not overly sweet; while the Prunella is a thirst-quencher.
The Water Chestnut and Cane Barley are too sweet for my liking, although all the labels say the drinks are supposedly lower in sugar.
For nostalgic treats, try the Almond Longan Jelly ($2.20 a cup) and Grass Jelly With Attap Seeds ($2.20 a cup).
To order, go to First Brew's website or Shopee.