Thursday, November 10, 2016
As someone who has lived in the Klang Valley for more than one and a half decades, it's pretty impossible not to notice the existence of Seremban. The capital city of the neighbouring state of Negeri Sembilan is just an hour away via the Seremban Highway. Even if one doesn't travel to Seremban, the Seremban Highway is an important traffic artery that many people use. For once, I actually made a trip to Seremban on a day trip organised by KH. On a rainy Malaysia Day, KH drove us (mum, SK and I) down to Seremban. During the one hour drive, it rained and rained but luckily it stopped by the time we reached the city.
The first thing we noticed about Seremban was the traffic lights. Lots of waiting at junctions. Next was the high density of Taoist temples. Didn't realized how Cina Seremban is. We had a three-pronged strategy for our Seremban outing-- eat, eat, and eat. The destination we punched into Waze was the Pasar Besar Seremban, Seremban's main wet market. It's located smack dab in the middle of town so naturally traffic around it was bad and parking was also a problem. Anticipating this problem, we parked a little further and walked to the market. Upstairs was the place to cure the grumbling of our tummies. All the hawker stalls congregate on the first floor. And surprisingly, it was all Chinese food and full of non-halal goodness.
In order to maximize our foodie experience there, we ordered one specialty from each famous stall. Here's a blow by blow account. Hong Kee's Mee Sotong is quite a special dish. Bihun is heated on a dry wok to give it some wok qi. A thick gravy is then poured over it and served with slices of braised pork, vegetables, and cuttlefish (the type that has been soaked in lye water). This is a must try because I don't think you can get this anywhere else.
There's also a lai fun here that you should try. However, they don't call it lai fun in Seremban, they name it lou shu fun instead! Confusing for the uninitiated. Order a bowl from stall 735. The thick-ish rice noodles are served with minced meat and a chili paste. The texture of the noodles are good, but I did find a slight floury aftertaste. My mother complained it was a little too salty and oily (to avoid the noodles from sticking together kwa).
We also tried the legendary beef noodles at stall 748. They actually serve two versions, one with this gravy and another in clear soup. Since we were too full, we opted for just the beef in clear soup. I wasn't very impressed and it was MYR17 for a 2-pax portion. Perhaps we should have gone for the thick gravy variety,
Tow Kee is also famous Hakka Mee stall there. I hated it. I took one mouthful and stopped eating. The noodles were not properly cooked as it was sticky and there was an awful boric acid aftertaste. To make things worse, the stall owners hardly bother to give you a grunt of acknowledgement. I blasted my colleague for recommending me that stall to which he replied glibly:
"Well, I told you it is famous, but it doesn't mean it is good!"
[Insert a long chain of expletives here].
With breakfast out of the way, we took a look around the market. Mum was tempted to buy meat and seafood, but that was not an option, so she just bought vegetables and eggs.
Next we went to a very touristy site in Seremban-- Then Sze Koon Temple on Centipede Hill. We drove straight up to the hill so we didn't have to trudge up 264 steps. The place definitely has the feel of a Taoist wonderland. There was a golden dragon water feature, spouting water from its mouth. Instead of nursing a pearl, it was nursing a golf ball! At central area was a two-floor high statue of Guan Yin. Flanking it was a two tier pavilion with a statue of Budai. To add to the carnival atmosphere, one can kneel at the koi pond at the feet of Guan Yin and holy water will spout out of the mouth of a golden carp. The pond is littered with coins because people try to throw coins into a wishing urn in the middle of the pond. KH succeeded twice in a row!
Opposite Guan Yin was a statue of a giant centipede crawling down a slope. The perfect place to take a commemorative photo. A little further off were statues of Yue Lao, Eighteen Arhats, and Eight Immortals. When I looked at Eight Immortals, all I could think of was the movie "Drunken Master" with the "Drunken Eight Immortals" martial arts moves. There was also a shrine dedicated to Guan Yu there, with a stone wall depicting Guan Yu taking the vow of brotherhood with the legendary Liu Bei and Zhang Yu. Didn't take long to explore everything there. Sat down at a rest area to munch on a bao and sip coconut juice while watching the crowds.
Next we went hunting for coffee. Made a random choice and ended up at Bros Cafe in Seremban 2, a newer part of town. If not mistaken, the owners are Korean, but of course they look nothing like K-Pop stars. The place is quite cozy and would have a huge floor space once the upstairs renovations are completed. Other than coffee, they also serve bingsoo. Unfortunately, that doesn't appeal to me.
Believe it or not (I'm sure its not a surprise anymore), that wasn't our last stop. We traveled to Senawang to try a bowl of famous curry laksa. At 1:00 PM, all the tables in Restoran Asia Laksa were occupied and many were waiting to be served. We had to endure the high heat for 45 minutes before our order arrived! To kill the time, we ordered some braised pork and eggs from the mixed rice stall inside. Delicious. According to the lady sharing the table with us, the old lady manning the mixed rice stall is actually the previous operator of the curry laksa stall. Her daughter-in-law has taken over. Truth be told, I don't think its worth the wait. Not superb. Its thick, but basic without add-ons (their YTF is quie good). And some dislike the fact that they no longer put in cockles.
Our last stop for the day was Kee Mei Siew Pao. I wasn't impressed by their siew bao, but I loved their egg tarts! That ended our trip. We had practically swallowed Seremban one famous food stall at a time!