Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You Haven't Been to Vietnam...

... if you've never been to these places!

Clockwise from Top-
Reunification Palace; Ho Chi Minh City Center; Notre Dame Cathedral

Behind the scenes of making lacquerware, clockwise from Top Right-
Roasted egg shells paints the picture; applying layers of lacquer; sand papering action; polishing the finishing goods; up for sale!

Lacquerware is the signature Vietnamese souvenir. However they can be very pricey especially when you purchase them off the 'factory'. If you want to buy some souvenirs home, I would suggest you head on to Ben Thanh Market as there are plenty to choose from there and you can put your bargaining skills to use too!

War Remnants Museum-
Fighter jets, submarines, tanks, machine guns, bullets... and the names of those perished in the war

Such an obscene bomb heehee

My first & last time handling a gun- M16 and AK47!

Explains why I will never be a soldier/ able to fight the war. The 1 minute needed to fire all 5 bullets took me almost forever as I stood there shaking from the deafening gun shots, pulling the trigger and waiting for the recoil to hit my shoulders and the bullet shell to shoot out. It was scary. Glad to say I can now have that tick off my checklist of things to do before I die!

You Don't Wanna Mess with Alex-

My travel buddy Alex is a pro when it comes to killer machines. He's in the Selangor shooting team! What a lousy friend I am that I only found out about this during the trip :S

To have the experience of a lifetime with these mankiller machines, you'll have to purchase 10 bullets at once- 30.000vnd (RM6/USD1.60) per bullet for M16/M60, 26.000vnd (RM5/USD1.40) per bullet for AK47, 24.000vnd (RM4/USD1.30) per bullet for M30/M1 Carbine and 25.000vnd (RM4.50/USD1.40) per bullet for K54/K59.

Cu Chi Tunnels- Look ma, I can fit in!

The tunnels is a very interesting historical yet touristy place indeed. We were brought into the woods (not scary cos there's so many tourists around) and the obligatory 'camouflaged' secret hiding places and underground tunnels made by the Viet Congs. The tour guide told us that the holes and tunnels were small because the Viets are very small sized people. I qualify to be a Viet too- I can fit in the hole!

Clockwise from Top Left-
The opening to the first level tunnel; empty bomb shells; no smoking sign; fellow tourists and tapioca tasting; bottled snake wine for the bravehearted; booby traps; Mr Tour Guide; Alex in the tank

Overall it was a very interesting, yet educational tour as it brings one closer to the historical side of Vietnam. One can never truly relive the feelings of what the Viets felt during the war but it brought us a step closer to understand their suffering and pain. If eating tapioca everyday doesn't kill you, the thought of hiding in the tunnel not knowing when bombs will be dropped will be enough to traumatize you forever.

And for that, I truly respect the Viets & the Congs.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kobe Gyu Taku Yakiniku & Steak

Kobe Gyu Yakiniku & Steak

After a bit of scavenging in my drawer, I found the receipt to this... it was dated Aug 19th 2009! So this review is almost 6 months overdue haha. To make things worst, I actually went there on their first week of opening (as you can see in the pic- congratulatory flower stands) but am now probably one of the latest to write on this :S Anyway, better late than never!

Yakiniku Teisyoku (BBQ Set)- RM28

This new (ok not so new, by now...) Japanese restaurant specializes in BBQ- the Jap way, rather than your usual Jap restaurants which has a variation of sushies, sashimies, bento sets etc. The meat selection are skewed towards beef, so if you don't/can't take beef, my advise is this is not the restaurant for you. Luckily for me, I LOVE beef! I had the cheapest Yakiniku Teisyoku set, which comes with the usual sides- kobachi, kimchee, vege salad, rice, beef tendon soup and a few raw beef cuts.

Grill it the way you like it!

As with Korean BBQs or the usual all you can eat buffet BBQs, you can grill your dinner the way you like it- rare, medium rare, medium well, well done etc. I like my beef to be medium, not too well done while still retaining some of the juices and pinkish meat. The grilled meat was tender and yummeh. The juices from the meat complements the rice very well too.

Seats- Tatami or chairs?

You can also choose to have your dinner the authentic Japanese way of Tatami-ing or proper table and chair. Either way, the ambience of the restaurant is very inviting and cosy.


The only grouse I have is the prices are a bit too steep for the normal lunch/dinner affair. However, it may be another new 'hangout' joint for the Japanese expatriates who are known to patronize the Jap restaurants around Subang Jaya.

*I'm trying out a new photo editor. Let me know if you guys prefer my photos to be 'fancy' or unedited :)

Kobe Gyu Taku Yakiniku & Steak
No. 52, Jalan SS15/4,
47500 Subang Jaya,
Tel: 03-5638 2923

[disclaimer: the opinions expressed here are based on my personal views, tastebuds and preference and may vary for others. please dont sue me, i dont have money. kthxbye.]

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ben Thanh Market- Food & Fare

Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is a *must* visit when in Ho Chi Minh City. Just like it's neighbouring cousin in Bangkok- the Chatuchak Market, Ben Thanh Market offers a piece of Vietnam experience (food and fare) for the locals and tourists alike.

Ben Thanh Market is strategically located at District 1 of HCMC. We were fortunate that the backpackers hostel we were staying in was just about 15 mins of walking distance from Ben Thanh.

Shoes, shoes, shoes and more shoes

Just like Chatuchak, Ben Thanh has many many many stalls (though not as many as Chatuchak) selling almost repetitive things- shoes, lacquerware, souvenirs, fake branded clothings, food, fruits, poultry etc.

Food Stalls

On our first visit to the BTM, we were attracted to the food section. It is similar to the foodcourt of some of our bigger markets (ie. Pasar Besar Ipoh). There were just too many tempting food- spring rolls, big prawns, noodles, rice dishes etc etc. We vowed to make a comeback for the food on the following day since we already had some pho for lunch at Pho 24.

Look ma, Big Shrimps!

On the following day, we revisited BTM. I chose this stall as our first stop as the BIG orangy shrimps were just too tempting!!

Rice with Baked Flank- 20.000 vnd (RM4)

The baked flank was really good- well roasted, tender and the accompanying gravy had us finishing the rice and licking the plate clean! I would come back for this over and over again.

Roast Shrimps- 50.000 vnd for 3 pcs (RM10)

I think these were fresh water prawns. They were roasted and then cooked with onion oil similar to that of the baked flank. They were awesome- Big, Fresh and Juicy!

Steamed Thin Rice Pancake (aka Chee Cheong Fun)

There are many similarities in food among Asian countries. For ie. when I was younger and hadn't the opportunity to travel, I always thought Malaysia originated satay. It was only later that I found out every Asian country has their own version of 'skewered meat'... and some of them are called 'sate' too.

Hence, when I saw this... I realized that the HK Chee Cheong Fun and Anson (Teluk Intan) Chee Cheong Fun has found their distant cousins!

Steaming the rice roll

And putting in the fillings- minced meat

Though similar to the HK and Anson versions, it is different in terms of fillings. The HK one comes with shrimps and char siew while the Anson version boasts a variety of ingredients, such as crispy shalots, dried shrimps, chopped turnips etc.

The Vietnamese version however comes with minced meat, bits of spring onions and topped off with a piece of fish cake, a few slices of Viet ham and fried shallots. There is also an accompanying sour plum sauce and julliened cucumber and bean sprouts.

Rice Paper Roll with Shrimps- 5.000 vnd each (RM1)

One can never have to much of rice paper rolls as they're not only yummy but also healthy!

Fried Spring Roll with Pork- 5.000 vnd each (RM1)

These fried spring rolls with pork fillings were nothing outstanding but fits the reputation of streetside food...

Vietnamese Iced Black Coffee- 8.000 vnd (RM1.60)

And there is no experience like having a mug of iced black coffee within the hot stuffy environment in Ben Thanh Market. Kauuuuu!

Shove the shaved ice

My travel partner-in-crime was more attracted to the local 'tong sui', so we made a quick move about the food court to this stall.

Che Chap Cam and Vietnamese Leng Chi Kang- 10.000 vnd each (RM2)

The popular orders were these two 'tong sui', which were basically the Vietnamese Cendol In a Cup and Vietnamese Leng Chi Kang. The other 2 cups are some local iced tea which were complimentary. Nothing much to shout about but definitely a cool drink for a hot day.

Fruits Stalls

Fruit Stalls

Fruit stalls are also aplenty and they are pretty cheap too. Mangoes, grapes, apples, oranges, avocadoes... you name it, they have it.

Do Not Disturb. Durian session ongoing

... including the Asian King of Fruits too! We had wanted to savour some durians too but forgotten about it.

Extra services- no, not that kind!

One of the services provided by the fruit stalls here is the peeling service.

All peeled and ready to be eaten!

We bought a box of jackfruits and ciku, all peeled and ready to be eaten at about RM10. After all the meat, vege and rice rolls eaten... here's some vitamin nutritions to get us going for the rest of the trip!

The Vietnamese Experience

To end today's post, here's a picture of a Gwai Lou family having their meal on stools and plastic chairs as table!

Click also to view-
Chatuchak- Fares,
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