Buddies, bread and bak kut teh (also ban mee - what??).
Public holiday = JB day trip with friends.
There is something beautiful, yet batty, about braving a potential Causeway jam at 6.30am in the morning just for Kota Tinggi Bak Kut Teh. FOR BREAKFAST.
As the saying goes, "the early bird catches the worm". This is particularly true on a public holiday at the popular Kiang Kee Bak Kut Tea, located along an ulu road on the way to Mersing (at least I think it was... I wasn't driving).
KKBKT is extremely popular. When we arrived at 7.15am, the premium parking space in the front had been taken up and we had to park the car behind the large shack. There was already a queue forming to place orders. I can only describe this as #hardcore.
Truth be told, I'm not quite a fan of pork. I don't particularly enjoy the taste of it and would usually opt for another variety meat if one is available. But this is so good, I'd make an exception in a heartbeat.
The bak kut teh itself is cooked in a claypot over charcoal and is very herbal in taste. The meat is just the right texture - not too soft and not too chewy. You can top up as much broth as you want.
We took advantage of the broth supply and had two bowls of tow kee (soy bean skins), which were fried super crispy, and a bowl of you tiao. Those were dunked in the broth. We ordered some braised pork knuckles (was it?) but it alas, contained a lot of fatty meat. This isn't always the case, but it was this time so I skipped on that. We had a bowl of salted vegetables as well.
One of the most important condiments in every meal is the chilli. I don't think I eat anything without chilli of some sort (except dessert). Here, we have slightly sweet dark soy sauce with green chilli padi. A perfect complement.
It was a 20 minute wait between ordering and our food arriving. There were 5 of us at the table and we ordered small bowls of everything and 5 bowls of rice. It was just right! The total cost was RM$66. Very reasonable indeed.
When we got up to leave, the whole place was super crowded. There were people hovering around waiting for tables (somewhat like vultures, truth be told) and a long long queue at the ordering counter. Parking had become so haphazard we had to be very careful navigating out of our parking spot. Moral of the story: try not to come on public holidays if you're going to be late.
Our next favourite stop is Verbena in Kulaijaya. Although the sign says that it's a "cafe", it really isn't thanks to some kind of restriction that prevents them from serving food there, so it's just a bakery. Never mind. The bread is deeeeeelicious and at such good prices too. Less than RM$3. And these are pastries mind you. Of the atas (high class) variety.
Between all of us, we bought ~RM$200 worth of bread for family and friends. I walked away with 4 items which I wanted to try myself: Strawberry Danish (polished this off already... it was okay... better fresh I think), Kyoto Maple, French Brioche and Japanese Milk Bun (also okay). And yes, none of these were more than RM$3, except Kyoto Maple, which I think was RM$3.50. It's worth it just for the ingredients alone if you ask me (and the naming, such a sucker for almost anything Japanese).
After our bread buying spree (like seriously, who does that?), we needed some coffee just to stay awake after having crawled out of our beds in the wee hours. What better place than a coffee shop a friend of a friend recommended: Good Coffee.
Except, it wasn't very good. Photographs well though. Hah. The coffee beans seemed to have been too enthusiastically roasted, which made it quite bitter. I generally don't have a problem with bitter coffee, but the aftertaste was a little much. At least it woke me up.
Oh and the butter-kaya toast was meh.
Good Coffee does have a full lunch and dinner menu of local food, but after our awesome breakfast, we weren't quite in the market for anything like that. I have to admit the local food served seemed much more promising than their coffee offerings.
Our morning coffee over, we visited a friend's place. Truthfully, although I say "visited", it was really to store our mountains of bread in a cool environment so they didn't go bad while we visited Bukit Indah Jusco. I did have a bit of fun with a furry friend, Roxy, a Rottweiler.
I don't interact with large dogs much, but Roxy was just begging to be petted. Actually, I was just very curious about Rottweilers. It's the first I've met up close. All I can say is that there's a reason why she's on a leash so frequently... she's just so excitable! I was petting her with my left hand (the Ricoh in my right) and my entire forearm was covered in slimy drool.
How do I know it was slimy? Upon washing my arm with soap, I had the good opportunity to feel its texture. Oh boy.
This is why I prefer cats. But I had fun with her for a good 5 minutes.
We took a tour of the house and around the neighbourhood since it was our first time there and in a gated community too.
I had a great time with this little one clinging to my hand as we roamed the streets. What a cutie.
Our late lunch was quite a surprise at Face to Face, close to Bukit Indah Jusco. The restaurant's name is actually a pun in Mandarin, because the word "face" is pronounced the same way as "noodles" is. Imagine my surprise when they had Ban Mee. I had been craving Kin Kin Pan Mee since coming back from KL (see my post here).
I wasn't expecting the same standard, but it was just enough to satisfy my craving. The noodles were slightly too soft for my taste and the egg was a little overcooked. No shallots and scallions either. But the chilli was awesome! It costs RM$6.90 a bowl. Not too shabby for not having to travel too far (like to KL!).
There's a Kin Kin outlet here in MacPherson, but I'm not about to pay S$5 for a bowl!
I know it seems like my entire day revolved around eating, but we did some window shopping at the nearby Jusco and walked away with a few groceries. The food today was just a stellar highlight.