Hey, look, it's an update. From me. On this website. Isn't that amazing? You want to hear something even more amazing? I'm posting about a restaurant I went to over half a year ago. If you think I remember anything about this meal other than the fact that I had it, you are sorely mistaken. Sure, I'll write words and say things, but don't think they're going to be accurate at all as to my experience here. For all I remember, a waiter punched me in the face and tried to steal my date. Look, obviously Church & State is a real restaurant and I went there, because I have pictures from there, but that's about all I can tell you.
Tim Ho Wan is a tiny dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong and holds the distinction of being the world's cheapest Michelin starred restaurant. And it is cheap. Dishes range from $12-24 HKD (about $1.50-3.00 USD) and they're worth every damn penny. This is dim sum done about as right as dim sum can be done, and considering the price it's no wonder the place is super popular. Come at off peak hours and it's only a one to two hour wait. Come at peak hours and you probably won't eat. Perhaps a little extreme, but once you're seated and eating you get a sense of why. If you've had dim sum before then everything will be familiar to you. The dishes at Tim Ho Wan aren't particularly original, they're just executed to perfection. There's a reason they've got a Michelin star and it's not because they suck. It's because they've got a Michelin judge held hostage in their storage closet. That, or because of, ya know, the food. You decide.
I was walking around Jonker Street in what I imagine to be the heat generated by a hundred angry suns, so I needed something refreshing. I spotted a coconut cart and thought to myself, "Hey! Coconuts are refreshing!" I walked over and found they were selling this coconut jelly snack. There's no sugar or anything added, just agar to turn the coconut water into a gelatin. This was the first time I've ever seen anything like this, and as a refreshing snack it's perfect. It's cold, it's delicious, and it's got pieces of coconut in it to remind you that it's a real food, and not just a bunch of chemicals being pitched by Bill Cosby. Some of you are too young to understand that reference and that makes me want to punch you in the face.
I've had cendol twice now and I'm still not 100% sure I know what it is. There's definitely shaved ice involved. And red beans. But then there's also this green pasta-looking stuff. And this white dense whipped-cream stuff. And then this thick caramelish topping stuff. Yeah. Very descriptive and helpful, I know. I'm like an encyclopedia of knowledge. Look, all I know is that I had cendol at some other place, and the one at Jonker 88 was way better. How you can make one shaved ice taste way better than another shaved ice I don't know, but they did. It's refreshing and a little weird, but it's what dessert on Jonker Street is all about. If my only experience with cendol was the first place I tried I would've written it off, but I actually drank the leftover watery "soup" at Jonker 88. You know a place is legit if I'm willing to risk drinking foreign diarrhea-inducing water.
NOTE: I didn't actually get diarrhea. You can't get what you already have! Haha! Hah. Wait, why am I laughing?
Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball is the other big player in the Melaka chicken rice ball game aside from Hoe Kee Chicken Rice. I wanted to hit up both places back to back to get a good idea of how they compare. The line at Chung Wah was way worse than Hoe Kee, and at first I thought it was just the time of day, but as I walked passed Hoe Kee I could tell the line at Chung Wah was still much longer. I'm assuming it's because they've made it into a guidebook. Or maybe they're casting spells, but whatever they're doing it's working. Like Hoe Kee, I didn't even order. I told them how many people I had, the host told me a price, and then pointed at a place for me to sit. Luckily they gave me exactly what I wanted, but again, how did they know? They do actually have more than one thing on their menu. I suppose if you look touristy enough they know what you're after: counterfeit purses. No wait, I mean chicken. Why did I say counterfeit purses? No, no, there's no need to look in my luggage, customs officer.
Wong Ah Wah is probably the only place mentioned on TripAdvisor on the Jalan Alor hawker street and it shows. I showed up around 8pm and every single seat was taken, with more than one party carefully looking around for empty seats along with me. On more than one occasion I thought I'd end up having to fist fight a local Malaysian family in order to sit. Eventually I nabbed a seat, only to sit and wait for a solid half hour before I could order. And when I did order, the waitress repeatedly told me I would have to wait a long time. I actually think she was trying to get rid of me, so as to free my table for a larger party. Nice try, lady, but the only way I was leaving without eating is if she hit me over the head with a chair. Maybe they're having a difficult time coping with their popularity or maybe they're just always this disorganized, but I'd recommend showing up at least an hour before the time you actually want to have food in your mouth.
Besides kaya toast, another one of Singapore's signature dishes is their chilli crab. I don't know why it's popular or where it comes from, but I'll take any excuse to eat crab. My friend's a local and she recommended Jumbo Seafood so I'm assuming they know what they're doing. They've got a few locations around town and I ended up at the Dempsey one. In the back of the restaurant they've got tanks of live seafood lined up, though we didn't get to select our crab or anything like that. Which is too bad, because the only thing I like more than eating crab is looking it in the eye while selecting it for death and laughing maniacally at its pleas for mercy. Don't judge me. That's what the "doctors" at the institution did and look where that got them (Hint: buried in my backyard).
One of Melaka's signature dishes is chicken rice balls. Hoe Kee Chicken Rice claims to be the first in town to serve them and I suppose that makes them the best in town. If you come during peak hours, be prepared to wait. I'm only repeating what others have said because I showed up right when they opened to avoid any lines. There's a menu and a waitress, but I don't recall actually ordering anything. She looked me in the eye, started saying things in Chinese, and then I sat down. From what limited Mandarin I understand, I gathered that since this was my first time here I should get...something. I didn't quite pick up what she said. So I sat and waited for what I hoped would be chicken rice, but for all I knew could be a bowl of frogs. Literally the only words that came out of my mouth were "um...what?" and "iced barley tea." Oh, and I held up a finger to signify I'd be eating alone.