We went to one of our favorite lunch spots today, the famous Ah Koong fishball noodles and there we plotted and schemed for the evening’s outing to a durian stall. Well, this isn’t a general food blog by any means, but I can’t resist putting up a few photos of our lunch for the benefit of TW who used to lunch here with me and I’m sure misses it like hell since he’s been back in NY.
This little eatery, which is open 7 days a week and from lunch til early dinner, is well famous and located next to Shaw Parade in Pudu. For the benefit of our readers who aren’t familiar with these strange looking dishes, fishballs are made of fish (but not the sex gonads), the flesh of white fish are minced and rounded up into small balls which are maybe half the size of a table tennis ball and boiled to a springy consistency. What makes fishballs delectable are the following criteria:
1. Freshness & Quality of the fish used in its preparation
2. Springy Texture, should be bouncy and not heavy and certainly not starch laden either
3. Size – you definitely do not want them too big and should be able to eat it in a bite or two
The same generally applied to fishcake (as seen on the bottom right) which is the same but in a different shape format.
It is the usual thing to do when you get there to place your orders at the cook counter. Chinese meals are usually a group activity and most patrons turn up in groups of 2 or more. First you select your noodles, there are five types mainly: kway teow (a flat broad rice noodle), mee hoon (a narrow, skinny spaghetti like noodle), mee pok (a flat broad yellow noodle as pictured on the right), mee (a yellow spaghetti type noodle) and mee tai mak a.k.a loh shee fun (hmm its hard to describe this, an English literal translation is mouse-tail noodle… so use your imagination).
The noodles come with the usual set of 3 fishballs, fishcake and vegetables. You can request it with or without soup, in a tom yam broth or with curry and clams. Lots of variations to keep you coming back for more. As a side dish, we usually add on stuffed red chillis, brinjals and okra, all of which adds more nutritious flavor and variety to the meal.
In usual chinese fashion, the steaming hot soup bowls are delivered with chopsticks and a soup spoon (Ah Koong has upgraded the quality of their utensils recently). You may request a fork and spoon if you are unfamiliar with these eating tools.
Here’s a photo of my lunch, you can see the green condiments on the top right which consist of spring onions and coriander, a boiled fishball on the left and a fried fishball (light brown) on the lower right. The darker colored stuff next to the brown fishball is seaweed (iodine component). This is all served in a piping hot broth.
Oh yes, I forgot to say that there are some noodles that you can mix, in this photo, you can identify 2 different types of noodles – the mee (yellow spaghetti) and the mee hoon (skinny white spaghetti).
NB. I took this picture half way through my meal so some of the other accessories to the noodles have already been consumed.
Onto the Durian chapter. We were starving by 8pm despite the huge meal and DL hadn’t eaten all day (she didn’t join for lunch) and was complaining about what we ought to have for dinner as she doesn’t eat durians (yes, she’s not a fan). ML was hungry too, although she wouldn’t admit it and we only found out when the declaration was made upon the appearance of the food. We ultimately decided to dine at Soo Kee, opposite our favorite (and most convenient) durian stall.
It seemed to be a slow evening for Friday, by 9pm, there were still plenty of durians pegged to the wooden racks, waiting for takers. The stall owner also said that it was a slow night and that it was perhaps the extremely hot weather and somewhat dire economic conditions that kept customers away. “Durian prices are like the stock market,” CL proclaimed loudly, “when there is a lot of supply, the prices go down”. True, the prices last time we ate here was RM35/Kg for the Mau Sang Wang and tonight it had dropped to RM 28/Kg. Well, we made up for the low prices by going for volume.
Ok, I won’t make you wait any longer to see the photos of the Mau Sang Wang Durians. Here they are, rich, creamy, golden yellow. Everyone probably has different preferences of how they would like to eat their durians, but I like mine with an appearance of firm skin, which gives way to touch and literally melts under your fingertips. Last night, the MSW’s were no disappointment, the flesh was full and the seeds were small. These durians were of just a nice size, not too big and not too small.
It is hard to tell exactly how many seeds there are in a long segment of the durian fruit, simply because the flesh compartments seal against each other and unless you pry them apart with your fingertips, it can often be deceiving.If you look at the photo on the left, you can see that the segments in the front of the picture (which have been touched) show the discrete fruit sacs quite clearly whereas you would have to guess how many there are in the segment further back.
The reason why I bring this up is because last night, I reached for what I thought was 2 durian seeds next to each other. I prompted CL to assist me in breaking it apart, effectively taking the other seed as her reward. But we were deceived! There was only one seed within and after a second or two of concerted effort, we realised that we still require more practice recognizing the difference between one seed and two.
Of course, since I was the one who picked up the fruit first, I would have to eat the entire thing (it was large) with her fingerprints in it and all…..
Durian has been likened by many to a soft french cheese. Given that I also enjoy stinky cheeses (often eaten with SW) it is probably no surprise that people with a keen sense of smell and taste and a high sense of appreciation of intense flavors will enjoy durian. There is a difference though. French cheeses often taste somewhat salty to me and the odours of mould do not really compare with the natural sweet-bitter aroma of fruit.
My uncle told us last weekend that durian is accompanied well by wine of any sort, and that the wine serves to enhance the flavor of the durian. SW and I have yet to attempt this, we’re thinking durian sangria…
It looks like a lot of durian doesn’t it? it is actually quite a substantial meal/dessert so usually it requires planning as we always want to make sure we can enjoy our sumptuous durian meals.
In case you’re wondering, why doesn’t stinky spikes give us some perspective on sizes, I’ve decided that my blackberry Bold makes a good ruler, going along the theme of fruits here…. If you haven’t got a blackberry Bold, I’m sure you can find someone who has one and get an idea of the size.
(had to wipe the blackberry down after this photo)
I forgot to mention that we ordered one other type of durian which we’ve discussed in this blog before, the Bamboo durian or “Chook Keok”. Here it is on the right, a little more bitter and flesh a little firmer than the MSW but you have to appreciate the difference that each species brings.
These durians are from Pahang. I recently had some durians which are from Penang, actually meant to post them up but I didn’t get round to sorting out those photos yet. I’ll put it up soon.