Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

Follow our 6 day, 6 night adventure in these lands of amazing food, awesome culture and astounding sights. See how we ate, shopped and laughed our way through Macau and Hong Kong! :)

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Beverage: Klebang Original Coconut Milkshake @ Klebang, Melaka


We're back from our getaway to Bandung, and so it's back to regular programming on the blog! :p

-Adam & Wendy

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Melaka is one of our favourite weekend getaways - be in for a short one night stay, or even a day trip - largely due to the fact that there's so much good food to sample. It's also where we usually bring our overseas guests, to see another part of Malaysia other than just Kuala Lumpur. This trip, however, I was getting a little tired of the same places, Jonker88, satay celup, the works.

Determined to try something new in Melaka, I did a bout of googling on 'good food in Melaka' and found the Klebang Original Coconut Shake, which many raved about, including my second brother.



The route from our hotel to Jalan Klebang Besar looked straightforward enough on the map, but just to be sure I whatsapp-ed my brother to confirm if there were any landmarks.

"The landmark is the long queue... you can't miss it!" he replied. Feeling rather confident, we went on our way.



As luck would have it, there was no queue on the day we went because it was pouring heavily!

A more foolproof landmark would be a Caltex petrol station; if you're coming from the direction of Melaka Town, the Klebang Original Coconut Milkshake is right before the station on your right on the other side of the road.



The process looks simple enough, but apparently none have managed to recreate this milkshake successfully. Ice cubes are blended with lots and lots of vanilla ice cream and fresh coconut juice and flesh. The blended mixture is then poured into another funnel-looking mixer.



From there, the mixer does it's magic, and the milkshake is poured out through a little tap attached to the mixer. And voila, one Klebang Original Coconut Milkshake!



The mixture of coconut and vanilla was good together - the milkiness from the vanilla ice cream, fresh sweetness of the coconut juice and little bits of coconut flesh in my milkshake.

I can imagine this would be a dream come true on a hot day, an ice-cold, refreshing drink although it was freezing when we were having our milkshakes. I found that after I let the ice melt a little, it tasted better - the flavours were more well-meshed together and the coconut freshness more pronounced. :D



A nice thing to try, if you've just about had it with the usual Melaka food. Sometimes, it's just nice to get out of the way a little and (milk)shake things up a little!


Klebang Original Coconut Shake
Jalan Klebang Besar (beside Caltex),
Melaka
Tel: +6 013-399 4061
Opening hours: Sat-Thurs, 12:30pm-6:30pm; Fri 2pm-6:30pm



Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dessert: Pick-Me-Up Scrumptious Desserts and Snacks @ Kuchai Lama


 

Dessert places seem to be springing up all over KL these days. Even after excluding all the Chatimes, Snowflakes, and Tutti Fruittis, there are many other lesser known dessert houses in town. Pick-Me-Up is one of them, and we were fortunate enough to be invited to sample their menu. =)


Nestled within the maze that is Kuchai Lama, Pick-Me-Up isn't in an area that we usually venture to, but it's got a few other dessert houses for company, so it shouldn't be hard to find for those who come here more. 



The place is bright and cheerful, and the wall is lined with a huge poster of their most popular items. It doesn't make choosing any easier though, because everything looks worth trying! =D


After settling ourselves down, Annie our host started bringing out the food! We started with Pick-Me-Up's version of Ice Cream Burritos, which was a slice of ice cold vanilla ice cream with either Mango, Oreo Cookies, or Banana (RM 5.50 per burrito), and lots of chopped peanuts, all wrapped up in popiah skin. You can also opt to have these just plain with vanilla ice cream (RM 4.50).These looked really yummy on the plate, and we weren't wrong!



Our favourite was the Mango, because the Mango we had was very excellent - very juicy and very sweet, and went well with the rest of the burrito. The only thing we thought worth changing was the popiah skin, which we felt got a little too thick towards the two ends. Crepe would have been a more conventional choice, but Annie explained they want to do things differently. And different it certainly was! =)



Pick-Me-Up also does has a section on their menu dedicted to their Froyo-Ice-Pick, where you can choose from Soft Ice Cream (RM 5.50) or Frozen Yoghurt (RM 6.50) with a wide variety of toppings like red bean, malt, pearls and oreo crumbs (we counted up to 15!) that customers can mix and match with. Or if you're lazy and don't know what to have, there are a few recommendations to try.

For us, Annie let us try this froyo with cornflakes, toasted oats, and strawberry sauce on the side. We find that their froyo here is a lot softer than the ones we're used to at Moo Cow and as a result, melts a little faster too. They're in the midst of changing their froyo vendor, so expect new things your way! Pick-Me-Up doesn't make its own ice-cream, so don't be expecting any gelatos here.



But let it not be said that Pick-Me-Up only specializes in cold dessert treats! There's also cooked snacks off their Scrumptious-Pick-Up menu for those craving something savoury. Take these Chilli Cheese Fries (RM 8) for example. Simple french fries with mince meat doused in cheese sauce; anything with cheese, we like! A simple snack if anyone is craving fries. We felt it would have been better if the dip had been poured over the fries. Either that, or if the dip had been served in a separate container. You can specify what you would prefer though, and they'll willingly accommodate you. =)



The Cheesy Nachos (RM 4.50) looks quite similar to the Chilli Fries when compared side by side. And in fact, we're inclined to agree somewhat. Once again, while there wasn't anything spectacularly right or wrong about this, we do wish the dip had come in a separate container. That would have made dipping the nachos a whole lot easier!



Fries and nachos aren't the only savory highlight on the menu! There's also the Chilli Chic Quesadillas (RM 8). This had the same mince meat as the chilli cheese fries sandwiched in pita bread and chewy mozzarella cheese accompanied by tomatoes and pineapple. The size of this wasn't very big, and certainly won't replace a normal meal. It was also pretty average by our standards. But we do hear this is another popular one on the menu and also adds some variety to the menu.


What Pick-Me-Up does try and promote are their special Premium-Ice Peak, or what we like to call them, their ice towers! When we went there was only 1 tower available called the Fruit Ice Pick (RM 12.90, a happy threesome of blueberry, mango & strawberry ice complete with nata de coco, pearls, taro balls & vanilla ice cream) but we were given this Taiwanese Ice Pick to try that was going to be launched in addition to the menu soon. You might already be very familiar with Snowflake, but trust us when we say this can give it a good run for their money!


Where do we begin? The ice tower is made out of with 3 different layers of ice. The top is the Grass Jelly Ice, the middle has Palm Sugar Ice, and the base has Soya Bean Ice! Frozen red beans are strategically placed to mark the borders between the sections of the tower. Around the tower in the "moat" are an assortment of chewables that include pearls, taro and sweet potato balls, grass jelly, and barley! Oh, extra creamer and palm sugar is provided separately just in case you want extra kick. The above picture is after we added the creamer. The extra sugar wasn't necessary though, because this was perfect enough as is!

Just for the sake of scale, comparing the height of the tower against my iPhone 4!
Pick-Me-Up is obviously very proud of their latest tower, even giving us a few tips on different ways we could tackle this yummy monstrosity! Wendy and I both like to keep things standing, so we chip around at the edges like a Jenga tower until it can't hold anymore..but feel free to knock yours over and mix it all up! Personally I loved the soya bean base the best, while Wendy preferred the palm sugar.

It's also a stroke of genius putting the soya bean at the bottom, since when it melts it mixes with the other stuff to create a sort of soya cincau "Michael Jackson" drink! There's definitely something for everyone in this concoction, and it's something I'll recommend to anyone looking for a Taiwanese dessert with a twist. =D




As the food kept coming, our stomachs kept expanding, but there was one item on the menu that I just knew I needed to try, and that was the Nutella French Toast (RM 5.50, with a choice of peanut, blueberry, mango or strawberry)!

(Wendy: I have since long ago learnt that Adam has a soft spot for Nutella - in fact, the first birthday cake I made for shortly before we started dating was a Nutella Cheesecake - must have won over the stomach :p)

It looked so good on the big poster along the wall, and thankfully the final product emerged resembling the picture very closely. The toast was fried to golden brown perfection, with creamy peanut butter generously spread on one slice and Nutella on the other. (Yes yes I know the name is Nutella french toast, but isn't the variety an added bonus? =D) While obviously a thoroughly sinful snack, we felt the calories were totally worth the addition for this dynamic duo!


In the end, Annie still wanted us to try the other fruity Premium Ice Pick (similar to the Taiwan Tower except with fruit ice), but our stomachs were so full we just had to decline. I'm quite sure it must taste good though!

Being the new kid on the block, we didn't know what to expect from Pick-Me-Up. But after trying nearly the whole menu, it's safe to say this place is worth a visit or two! Especially if you have friends crazy over Snowflake, do bring them here and show them the Taiwanese Premium Ice Pick Tower! Competition will be rife for Pick-Me-Up, as there are tons of dessert shops along the same row, but what sets them apart is that they also offer snacks instead of just desserts so there'll be something for everyone here. Let's hope this keeps them around for a long time yet.




Pick-Me-UpSite
No. 35, Jalan Kuchai Maju 8,
58200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 7971 4983
Email: info@pickmeup.com.my
Opening Hours: Sun-Thu, 1pm-11:30pm; Fri & Sat, 1pm - 12:30am

Monday, March 19, 2012

Travel: HK Day #6 - HK Tram Tips & Tsui Wah Restaurant 翠華餐廳 @ Wellington Street

Tsui Wah Restaurant seems to have made quite a name of itself for being the go-to supper spot for hungry party-goers. During our breakfast at Lin Heung Kui on the third day of our trip, Adam's friend Rebecca recommended that we try out this place and it wasn't till our last morning in Hong Kong that we  decided to. We knew we wanted to head to Central again for more shopping because we didn't get enough on Day 5, and Tsui Wah just happened to be in the right location for breakfast before the strenuous work  shopping started. :D

Our usual day Hong Kong usually begins with a walk from our Wan Chai apartment to the nearby Wan Chai MTR station. However, that morning we felt a little adventurous and decided to take a tram!



All the people we've met in Hong Kong have been telling us to use the tram to get around Hong Kong island - "so easy, so convenient, can't possibly get lost!". Even numerous Lonely Planet articles recommend hopping on and off the trams as a great way to explore Hong Kong. We always apprehensive of the trams, instead preferring to take MTRs everywhere we went, but what the heck, it was the last morning in Hong Kong anyway!


The trams connect the west and east of Hong Kong Island, running from on a double track along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island from Kennedy Town in the west to Shau Kei Wan in the east, and vice versa, with a small single circle line around the Happy Valley Racecourse. Trams begin from as early as 5am in the mornings and run up to as late as midnights on the weekends.


From Wan Chai, we boarded a tram going westbound towards Kennedy Town to get to Central, and in true tourist fashion, decided that we had to climb up to the top deck. Fares are HKD 2.30 for one ride and the best part is, the Octopus card can also be used on trams.


It really was quite fun, taking in all the street sights we passed and experiencing the bumpy ride. We got on the tram not really know where to go and just kept on looking out for landmarks we recognized from the day before. We ended up alighting at the Pedder Street stop and crossed the road to this landmark...


...the huge-ass Coach building on Queen's Road Central! There's no way you can miss it. :p


Retracing our steps yesterday from Yung Kee (from the corner Coach building, walk up D'Aguilar Street and take a right onto Wellington Street), we found our breakfast location! Tsui Wah Restaurant is handily right opposite Yung Kee.


Being the third char chan teng freqeuented on our trip, I'd say we ordered quite expertly this time round. :p This was one of their breakfast sets, consisting of Abalone with Shredded Ham and Macaroni in Soup, served with Fried Eggs, Buttered Bread and a Iced Milk Tea (all for HKD 28). The bread, eggs and tea were quite average tasting, but the macaroni broth had more flavour compared to the others we tried. I'm not sure if it was really abalone though! :p



Having tasted the heavenly nai yao jue zai bao at Capital Cafe the morning before, we decided to try Tsui Wah's Crispy Bun served with Sweet Condensed Milk (特脆奶油猪仔包, HKD 9) . Still yummy, but not as crispy and decadent as the one at Capital Cafe's.


French Toast was also another must for us that morning - again, I felt this kind of paled in comparison to Capital Cafe's as I prefer my french toast with more honey or syrup. Personal preference, if you may.


Having grown up watching TVB dramas, a staple food I've always seen is the Bo Lo Bau (菠蘿包), funnily translated to mean Pineapple Bun. The Bo Lo Bau (HKD 4.50 at Tsui Wah) is actually a soft bun with a thin layer of crunchy and sweet cookie-like dough on its top. Despite it's name, no pineapple is present in the Bo Lo Bau. This is very similar to Malaysia's Rotiboy, only that there's no coffee flavours. Instead you get a sweet bun, and a slab of butter served on ice for spreading, that is pleasantly crispy on the top, and pillow-soft on the inside. Yum!



We also ordered another set we saw others ordering - a breakfast platter consisting of a Pork Chop, Scrambled Eggs, with Baked Beans, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and a bun. We especially liked the pork chop, which was surprisingly well marinated and full of flavour, and the slightly savoury, slightly sweet mashed sweet potatoes. Even the eggs were pretty good!


Breakfast at Tsui Wah was just good, not out-of-this-world-great, but apparently their other rice and noodle dishes are executed even more competently. I've seen others rave about the cheese baked rice, curry beef rice, fish ball noodles and more, so perhaps that's something to take note if you intend on getting the full Tsui Wah experience. :)



But, the taste of breakfast was the last thing on our mind as we attacked D'Aguilar Street after that. Perfumes, facial products and makeup items in Sasa Hong Kong are much more affordable (seemingly more variety too) compared to Malaysia after currency conversion so I spent ages in Sasa, scouring the aisles for cheap buys. (You'll see Sasa almost everywhere you turn in Hong Kong, but I was guarding my money till that day, so I kinda went crazy in this Sasa branch :p) 

Cotton On was also along this stretch of shops - I know we get Cotton On here too, but the HKD to RM exchange rate was far too favourable to not go on a spree as well. We also went back down along Queen's Road Central to visit (what else?) H&M again. Hee.

My loot! And this is excluding all the presents and souvenirs for my parents and friends.

Bags belonging to five of us. I'll sheepishly admit I had to buy an extra bag in Hong Kong to contain all the shopping *bows head*


After a rushed morning of shopping, it was back to our Wan Chai apartment to hurriedly stuff all the new shopping buys into our bags because we had a ferry to catch back to Macau. When we booked our tickets, flights after tax were considerably cheaper in and out of Macau compared to Hong Kong, so that's how our trip worked out - first and last day in Macau and Hong Kong in between.

More Macau adventures coming our way! :)


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Tsui Wah Restaurant 翠華餐廳 | SiteOpenrice
G-2/F, 15-19 Wellington Street,
Central, Hong Kong (Near Central MTR, Exit D2)
中環威靈頓街15-19號地下至2樓
Tel: (852) 2525 6338
Opening Hours: Daily, 24 hours



Saturday, March 17, 2012

Food: d'Italiane Kitchen @ Jaya 33, Petaling Jaya

So yesterday we were all set to have a new post as usual, until we logged into Blogger and realized the draft post was gone and replaced by a duplicate of another post! We don't keep many spare posts, hence the delay to today. Blogger please fix your problems...! =(


 

We still struggle to find places to eat on weeknights. If funding permitted, we would visit places like d'Italiene Kitchen more. Alas, prices here restrict us to coming only on a special occasion, when parents are paying, or maybe once in a blue moon.



I had visited d'Italiene Kitchen before with my parents on Sundays, so I knew they get a healthy crowd on weekends for dinner. But on a Monday night when we visited it was deader than a doorknob! Thankfully I knew the food would be okay so the emptiness didn't bother me as much. 



d'Italiene Kitchen actually has quite a wide variety on their menu, although of course the main theme is Italian in nature. Since we were quite hungry from a hard day's work and a long ride in the traffic jams, we had some Fried Gnocchi (RM 12.90) for starters - deep fried fresh potato coated in flour and turkey bits. 

Though it may look simple, the gnocchi turned out to be a fulfilling snack, light and crispy with hints of turkey ham, something light to keep the jaw working before the main course, and something that still tasted good after being left on the table for more than half an hour. An appetizer that we enjoyed, especially with the accompanying dip. =)



I am a creature of habit, but Wendy likes trying new stuff, so this time we had a Seafood Ravioli in Tomato Sauce (RM 27.90). Ravioli isn't my usual thing; I prefer pasta on the whole. But this ravioli turned out be nice even for me - a fresh mixture of prawn, scallops and white fish paste delicately stuffed in little pasta pockets in a strong-flavoured tomato base. It's also possible to have it in cream sauce, though the traditionalist in me wonders how seafood could go well in cream sauce..=/




For every dish that Wendy picks, I have to pick another that I want! For me that was the Jumbo Lamb Shank (RM 32.90), which was the premium Australian lamb shank braised in herbs, served in brown sauce with mash and steamed vegetables. Everything on this plate was good - the mash potato was wonderfully smooth and creamy, the vegetables were fresh and crunchy, and the lamb was surprisingly tender to the bone! Sharing our food is always a good idea, because like in this case there was more than enough meat for the both of us. I'd recommend this to anyone with a sudden lamb craving.



To round up the night, there was the Sticky Toffee Pudding (RM 16.90).We normally see the more common chocolate cake / brownie with ice-cream, but this was a very nice alternative! The steamed walnut pudding and drizzlings of butter caramel sauce blended together perfectly just like chocolate cake with chocolate sauce, except this was better because it didn't feel so creamy; the sharp tartness of the berry sauce also helped to cut through the sweetness. And of course, vanilla gelato just makes everything taste that much better. =D



By the time we were done, a few more groups of customers had come, so it wasn't an entirely quiet night. d'Italiane Kitchen is a great place to bring friends or relatives, also good if you're looking for a place to go with that special someone. The added benefit is it's in Jaya 33, easily accessible to the PJ folk! This place is definitely on our list of revisits. =D



d'Italiane Kitchen | Site
Ground Floor, Jaya 33,
No 3, Jalan Semangat,
Section 13, 46100 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor
Tel: +6 03 7956 3684
Opening Hours: Daily, 11:30am-11pm





Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Travel: Best Katong Laksa in Singapore? - 328 Katong Laksa vs. Mary's Corner Katong Laksa (& Yong Huat Noodles Stall) @ East Coast Road, Singapore


On our second day in Singapore, we had a lunch appointment with Suk Kwan, one of Wendy's best friends from secondary school. Lunch was fixed at 12:30pm, but that didn't stop us from making sure we got a good dose of Katong laksa first! =D

Katong laksa is the quintessential hawker fare for Singaporeans - in fact, I'd reckon it's what nasi lemak is to us Malaysians.


Wendy first introduced me to Katong laksa back in 2008 when we made our first trip to Singapore together with our uni mates, shortly after we started dating. Since then I have always thought of it as SingaporeKatong laksa! This time we were determined to try the most recommended one, and a google search told us 328 Katong Laksa was one of the best, so off we went to one of their many branches after expansion.

(However, when we told our cabbie, an old Singaporean uncle, he grumbled at the fact that there was no good, authentic Katong laksa left in the whole of Singapore, and if we really must have it, 328 was okay...lah.) Still, he drove us to our location, and bid us good luck.



There's really nothing else to eat at 328 Katong Laksa except  Katong laksa and some other light bites like otak-otak and small packets of nasi lemak wrapped in pandan leaves. The inside looks modern enough, but most of the seating is outside.



Of course, every famous place must have its testimonials. 328 doesn't seem to lack in this department, with pictures of smiling celebrity faces (Donnie Yen, Tony Leung, and TVB stars Raymond Lam & Wong Hei, to name a few) lining the very long wall. There were hardly any people when we visited though, probably because it was only 11+ and the lunch crowd hadn't arrived yet. 


To the uninitiated, Katong laksa looks and tastes a lot like our curry mee here in Malaysia, except with short strands of rice glass noodles and a lot more coconut santan (coconut milk) in the soup. The broth should be thick and creamy with shrimp paste and finely chopped dried shrimps, and lengkuas (galangal) and serai (lemongrass) for taste. There must also be half a spoon full of dried daun kesum, or dried laksa leaf, to mix in after serving. It's usually served with a spoon, and that's all you use to slurp scoop after scoop of laksa goodness.

The above is what we got for a medium portion at SGD5. Ordering is simple; there's only 3 sizes; small, medium, or large!


We only ordered one medium bowl to share because we were expecting to eat more at lunch. It turned out to be a wise decision, because this laksa wasn't all it was hyped up to be!

For all the rave reviews we had read, we were very disappointed with the result. The soup was not thick enough, nor was there enough coconut or spices in the soup. There was a moderate serving of prawns, sliced fishcake, and cockles, but that is expected at Singapore coffee shops. We didn't even finish the bowl, which is a mark of how bad it was considering 2 of us were sharing this! 


We were so disappointed with the laksa at 328 Katong Laksa, we decided to try and save the morning by looking for the stall where we had the same Katong laksa the first time back in 2008.



We weren't entirely sure where it was, but we remembered it was along the same road and I remembered it was a corner coffeeshop. So armed with that little bit of info we trekked up East Coast Road to the intersection with Joo Chiat Road and found it! The name has changed to a very silly-sounding Ali BaBa Eating House, but the unmistakable architecture of the building gave it away!

(We later learnt that Ali BaBa Eating House's name is actually a play on words. In Chinese, it is 阿里巴巴一定好 - "Ali Baba yi ting hao", which means "definitely good". But say it out loud: yi ting hao, eating house, get it? :D)



The inside looks just like any normal Malaysian coffeeshop, only that it has wi-fi =P There aren't that many tables, but somehow we've been lucky each time. In fact, we got the same table that we sat at the last time we came in 2008! Coincidence, no?



We were only there for the Katong laksa, but the stall in question that sells it (Mary's Corner) actually does a variety of other dishes.



If you've got it, flaunt it! Mary's Corner proudly displays the award it won for its laksa and tau kwa pau, so you know you're eating something that's award-winning. If we hadn't wasted our stomachs on the 328 Katong Laksa we would have tried the tau kwa pau too (which it is more well known for. Alas, our tummies just couldn't take in anymore. 



Take a look at that bowl of Katong laksa. Now scroll up and look again at the one we had at 328. See the difference in the colour of the soup? See the serving of the herbs used here compared to the ground up bits used in 328? Bar the chopsticks (which purists argue shouldn't have a place at a Katong laksa bowl), Mary's Katong Laksa (SGD 5) is what we thought Katong laksa should taste and look like. The slightly sweet broth was creamy and rich with flavour from the herbs and dried shrimp, and the prawns were so fresh! We gladly slurped up every drop of this.  



I'm glad to report that the taste has hardly changed from what we remember, and we really recommend this place to anyone on the hunt for Katong laksa! We'll definitely be back here the next time we're in Singapore.

Yong Huat's stall

Here's a secret though - Mary's Katong Laksa isn't the only thing worth having at Ali Baba Eating House! Next to Mary's stall is another stall, named Yong Huat, selling fried noodles, and this is where the most awesome fried mee sua (thin Chinese wheat noodles) can be found!



We are accustomed to fried mee sua that is dry, but these noodles are special because its moist and full of smoky wok flavour, yet not drowned in gravy. I find that to be pure genius because it unclumps the noodles and makes it easier to eat. There's also a generous serving of egg and vegetables fried into the noodle, and a lot of prawns, cuttlefish, and other meats fried in. The winning condiment? A generous sprinkling of crunchy, crackly pork lard! No, not for the faint hearted, this one.

At a price of SGD5, this is a dish that I would have everyday for lunch if I could! 



So in the end, we left Katong with our stomachs bursting at the seams, big satisfied smiles across our faces! Our eating was hardly over though, because we were heading straight for our lunch appointment. /'splodes with food

But that's a story for another day! Anyway, suffice to say that  Katong laksa still holds a special place in our stomachs hearts, and we're glad that Mary's Corner is still whipping up bowl after bowl of satan santan goodness! =D

p/s: We heard that there's also another stall by the name of Saveur in Ali BaBa Eating House that does really good French food. French food in a kopitiam? We are most definitely intrigued! Hopefully we'll get to return soon for that.

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328 Katong Laksa
216 East Coast Road
Katong, Singapore
Tel: +65 9732 8963
Opening Hours: 8.30am to 9pm

Mary's Katong Laksa & Yong Huat
Ali BaBa Eating House,
Intersection of Joo Chiat Road and East Coast Road
125 and 127 East Coast Road,
Singapore 428810
Opening Hours: Daily, 8am-7:30pm


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