Taiwan 101 @ Imbi, Kuala Lumpur


I have been to Taiwan once and I enjoy most of the food there. However, I am not exactly a big fan of Taiwanese food mainly due to the lack of good and authentic Taiwanese food in Malaysia. The Taiwanese food here in Malaysia are generally modified to suit the local taste bud and most importantly, the ingredients are not from Taiwan itself and hence, the taste are not as good as the real McCoy! It is like Taiwanese food but cooked the Malaysian way!

For instance, I am always dumbfounded by the perpetual long queue at this certain Taiwanese restaurant at The Gardens, Midvalley ( shall not mention names; I do not want to be sued). I have been there 2 times and I find the food really mediocre. It gives a really bad reputation for the real Taiwanese food!

So, to made up for the crappy weekend, I decided that I must pamper myself with real food. So, drove around Setapak / Ayer Panas area to look for its famous Hennessey Loh Mee, which is nestled amidst a new village, I can’t locate the stall although I know that I was already nearby and moreover, parking looks quite haphazard ( there is a morning market within the vicinity). Thereafter, drove to this Teochew restaurant located along Jalan Genting Klang ( near to Titiwangsa) but the kitchen was closed to cater for baking of Teochew mooncakes! Oh dear, drove to Imbi / Bukit Bintang. Initial plan was to eat dim sum at Imbi Palace ( but I really don’t fancy dim sum there), so at the very last minute decided to try out this unassuming Taiwanese Restaurant – Taiwan 101.

The restaurant was empty when we went in – not a good sign especially during lunch hour! Before I had the time to finish looking at the menu, the friendly owner came out and claimed that his restaurant serves  authentic Taiwanese food and recommended his 5 signature dishes :-

  1. ‘San Pei’ Chicken ( literally translated as 3 cups chicken)
  2. Home-made beancurd
  3. Steamed fish
  4. Minced pork rice
  5. Chinese herbal dessert

We were served with some cold appetizers i.e. braised pig ears, seaweeds and braised eggs.

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Braised eggs

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Braised pig ear which are very crunchy and makes great finger food! And no offensive smell emanating from it.

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Imported seaweed.

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Minced pork rice. It is very fragrant ( you can smell it before the rice come!). However, the rice is not as fluffy as I thought it would be. Apparently, they cannot import rice from Taiwan and hence, has to made do with Thailand rice.

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Stir fry vegetables of the day – vege with some really complicated Chinese names. Love this to the max – and coming from someone that does not even like greens, just take our word for it – it was oozing with freshness. Imagine the two of us, taking the first bite and we both exclaimed ‘ very very delicious’. Normally, I prefer the leaves but these stems are very crunchy and yet not too annoying to the teeth.

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The ‘San Pei’ Chicken. They use village chicken and hence, less fat and smoother. According to the owner, the secret to its distinctively different ( in terms of taste i.e. less salty and presentation i.e. not as dark)‘San Pei’ Chicken as compared to our Malaysian’s version is its soy, which are imported from Taiwan! As we cannot finish the entire pot, I had some takeaways for dinner – it was even more flavorful after a few hours!

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Steamed fish with special sauce.The fish fillet was fresh and you can actually drink the gravy. The owner assured that although we finish the gravy, we would not feel thirsty thereafter!

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And do not be mistaken the above for Chinese tea. It is actually some Chinese herbs from Taiwan and supposedly good for the eyesight. It was love at first sip – it has a very distinguishing taste and yet, still very light. The most amazing thing is that the tea actually smell like coffee! You can have it hot ( just like our Chinese tea with teapots and all) or maybe you can try the cold version too! You will be pleasantly surprised to discover that the taste of the cold version is somewhat different from the hot ones. The owner mentioned the name in Mandarin but it was too mouthful for me to remember. Just ask them for that special tea.

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This is my favourite too – Chinese herbs dessert which is made from 7 types of herbs. It looks like our ‘gui-ling-guo’ but it is not. The owner is not willing to divulge the ingredients. This is almost a sin to miss this. No sugar was used ( and hence, a diabetic can actually have this) and yet, it was sweet. I do not like desserts that make me very full and feel like falling asleep after a meal; this one is neither, as a matter of fact, it was light and I do not mind having another one!

I have not tried enough Taiwanese food to pass judgment on the authenticity of the food here, but the fact is that, the food here is pretty good to warrant another visit in the near future. And of course, the food is MSG-free as I did not feel thirsty at all during the entire day after the meal.

Photo Sep 11, 2 37 47 PM

Me and the bubbly owner.

Taiwan 101 Restaurant ( do not be confused with another Taiwan restaurant along the same row, this one is nearer to Park Royal Hotel)
No.80, Jalan Imbi,
55100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +603-2144 9158

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Ao Nang Day 2 : Visit @ Ao Nang Beach, Eat @ Wangsai Seafood, Haagen Dazs & Roadside Stall, Spa @ Let’s Sea : Let’s Relax


On the second day, we took our own sweet time to get ready in the morning. We were ‘glued’ to our bed, ignoring the ray of light that seeped through the light-colored drapes. As the accommodation did not include breakfast, there was no inclination on our part to get out from bed.

[ On another note, I would like to document that this day were also the day after the historical downgrade of USA by S&P from AAA to AA+ and the outbreak of riot in London]

By the time we stepped out, it was already 9+ am local time and the sun was already high up but the street was devoid of mortals! I think we are the weirdest couple on the street – sister seek refuge beneath her umbrella whilst I hid my face with my oversized sunnies and hat! Yeah…that is our idea of a beach vacation!

We had banana pancake for breakfast and as there were no proper seating, we had ours at McDonalds. Well, in order not to be chased out by McDonalds, we wanted to order its breakfast set but were informed that they could not prepare breakfast because there was an power disruption – as a matter of fact, the entire Ao Nang is out of electricity! Oh well, we would just enjoy our banana pancake. After a short while, the power came back on and we obligingly ordered our breakfast set.

Thereafter, we took a leisurely stroll towards the beach. As we approached the beach, we saw fluffy blue skies hanging above the horizon. The first sight of the beach was so surreal. Apart from the fact that the beach was clean and pristine (which should be the way actually!), it had a calming effect on both of us. We both sat underneath the shade whilst the gentle breeze swept across our face. For that brief moment, all worries seemed to have dissipated!

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Rearview

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I told you that the beach was therapeutic. You do things that you don’t usually do!

We monkeyed around walked along the beach towards Nopparat for our lunch at Wangsai Seafood – reputedly to be one one of the best in Ao Nang.

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On the way to Wangsai, we passed by a few stalls selling street food like grill chicken, sausages, banana pancakes,etc. Can you spot me in the photo?

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Sister claimed that she tried the above before in Hadyai and it was very good and she recommended me to try it. I have no idea what it was, but it looked like some coconut stuff. I had my qualms but since it was quite cheap ( RM2 for a packet), we just bought a packet. Yeah, that’s me with my ipohne recording the the making of coconut kueh. Then during lunch, I realised that I did not press the record button! WTF

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The coconut kueh

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On the way to lunch. The wind was so strong that the flags were all upright.

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No,no,no. Not having lunch here

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Finally. Lunch @ Wangsai Seafood.

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Apart from its authentic Thai food, the restaurant also overlook the beach! This is 5-star dining with 1-star price!

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Green curry chicken. Love the burst of flavors of the gravy

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Delicious pineapple fried rice

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Squid with lemon sauce. The sauce was very tangy and invigorating to the tastebud and the squids were huge and fresh.

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Fish with lemon sauce ( again). The fish was very fresh. However, it took forever to come, like maybe 20 minutes or so. We were so pissed of with the servers – we gestured them to come over but could not get their attention and of course, thereafter they reassured you that the fish is on the way. Apart from this minor glitches, customer service was ok. All in, the bill came up to RM80+ ( inclusive of coconut drink and Singha beer).

After the fulfilling meal, we walked back towards our hotel ( oh, it was so hot but luckily there were shades). We stopped briefly at Haagen Daz for dessert.

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This is the consequences of having too much time at hand ( such a luxury!). There were 3 picture taking device in the above picture!

After our holiday-essential, i.e. afternoon nap, we walked towards the beach ( again) and on the way, saw this hawker stall that sell wanton noodle and noodle soup along the main road. Since we planned to go for a body massage later, we thought that we should eat something light – I ordered wanton noodles ( my first time) and my sister ordered soup noodles. Nothing much to shout about.

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For massage, we went to Let’s Sea : Let’s Relax – a massage / spa parlour that is listed on the ‘must do things in Krabi’ in Tripadvisor. Though the place is located opposite McDonalds, finding it was not as easy as the entrance is quite obscure and the signboard is really small. Just open your eyes and you will see it. Once you locate the place, go down the stairs and you would be transported to a different world altogether. Perfect ambience – grayish unpolished wall with ambient light – just nice for a peaceful massage. We opted for an hour of body massage which was very cheap ( slightly more expensive than those normal ones with minimal décor) and it was every cents.

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The reception

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Sit down and relax

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Washing the legs with tumeric

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The place for body massage – there were only 2 of us, so it was very quiet.

After massage, we were so hungry so we went opposite and there was this roadside stall that sells a huge variety of grilled meat and ‘tai chow’. The few tables for customers were also fully taken, so I guess the food must be good. It is manned by a husband and wife team who are very friendly.  The husband who was in charge of the grill quickly find us a spare table ( albeit a bit broken) and we were seated in no time.  The food was quite decent and very cheap ( forgotten the exact amount) and I do not mind going back again. One plus point is that the food ( maybe with the exception of the chicken which must be grilled beforehand) is grilled fresh right in front of your eyes. We note that some of the stalls keep the unsold grilled sausages that has been dipped in sauce for tomorrow. Yeah, I mean, they are being thrifty and all and wastage = money to these petty traders who are trying to make a decent living. No right or wrong here but just a word of warning for those with weak tummy.

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Ao Nang Day 1 : Stay @ Haleeva Sunshine, Eat @ No. 1 Thai Food, Visit @ Ao Nang Beach


It is an unwritten tradition that we would normally have a short getaway in August, which is slightly after the half year mark, to rejuvenate and recharge. Last year, we went to Bangkok and this year, we flew to Krabi, Thailand.  For these short getaway, we would opt for neighboring countries ( hence, shorter flying time) and of course, not-s0-challenging itinerary.

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The picturesque beach of Ao Nang. These boats would take you to the nearby islands.

We bought the tickets more than a year ago and at certain point before the stipulated travelling date, we pondered on the idea of cancelling the trip as we could not feel the ‘travelling mojo’ in us during that point of time. That is the consequence of buying air tickets too early!

Closer to the travelling date, we did some research on Krabi and realised the following:-

  • Krabi is really a small town and most people head to Ao Nang beach ( approximately 30 minutes away by car) for the beach. Krabi is where the airport is. Krabi has a weekly night market every Saturday.
  • The most accessible beach is Ao Nang beach. If you want to go to Phi Phi Island, Railay beach – you need to travel by boat / long-tail boat.
  • Almost, if not all the activities / tour focuses on outdoor activities like island hopping, caving, abseiling, etc
  • There is no shopping mall in Ao Nang. EvenThailand’s pride, Naraya do not have an outlet in Ao Nang ( *sigh*)
  • The drive from Krabi / Ao Nang to Phuket takes 3 hours 1 way. The road condition is excellent with 2 carriageway both ways. It is very normal to rent a car and drive to Phuke to Krabi / Ao Nang and vice versa.
  • August is supposedly to be the rainy season and hence, tourists are generally lesser and the area is quieter too.There ain’t anything for us to do in Ao Nang. We don’t indulge in all these adrenalin pumping activities ( we already have enough in the office!), the sun is not exactly our ally, no shopping malls ( *sigh*) and moreover, it is supposedly to be the rainy season. So, instead of detailed planning, we just kept our options open but of course, we wanted to eat, eat and eat the delicious Thai food( that, we know).

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Ao Nang town which was so quiet.

We were so tempted to self-drive to Phuket but we did not as the planned ( or the lacked of it thereof) holiday would be quite packed and with the car rental and additional accommodation, it may just be better to fly to Phuket directly.

Although there was no planning whatsoever, we still arranged our accommodation 2 months before the trip. Though we opted for budget  this time ( as we have 2 more holidays planned out later this year), the picky and choosy me still researched diligently to ensure that the hotel is clean and proper.

We stayed at Haleeva Sunshine, Ao Nang, which is about 5 minutes walk to McDonalds, Subway and Starbucks ( where there is a row of street peddlers and mini night market) and another 5 minutes to Ao Nang beach. The location isn’t exactly fantastic – especially in the afternoon, the walk did seem a bit far but otherwise, it was a pleasant one especially in the evening where it was breezy and windy. On hindsight, we manage to try some really authentic Thai food ( not-so-touristy) which are located along the stretch of road from the hotel to the beach. If we had stayed along the beach, it is most likely that we would miss these great places.

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The view from our deluxe room on the top floor ( 4th floor)

Three nights stay cost less than RM200! The room is clean with fantastic view of the cliff ( Krabi is famous for its cliff) and if you stretch your head long enough, you can catch a glimpse of the Andaman Sea!

The General Manager of the hotel, Sun was quite helpful and every time we saw him, he would ask if there is any problem with the room ( the air-cond was leaking on the 2nd night and he promptly fixed it the next day; the wi-fi in the room was not working properly on the 2nd and 3rd day, he tried to fix it but to no avail but the wife miraculously worked on our last day!). A word of reminder though, there is no lift in the hotel, so you need to climb those stairs.

Travelling from the airport to Ao Nang is easy peasy. You can take a shuttle bus ( there was one waiting outside the airport to ferry the holiday makers) which is very cheap, arrange for transport with the hotel or take a taxi from airport to Ao Nang which costs THB600 ( or RM60).

After collecting luggage and customs, there are 2 counters for taxi. Both were manned by 2 very friendly ladies, waving and luring us to go to their counter! Oh boy, I felt so bad that I had to choose between them.

We got our coupon ( pay later to the taxi driver) and in a blink of an eye, the taxi drive came and helped us with the luggage and brought us to his taxi ( a brand new Honda Civic 1.8 Vtec). He was so polite, so smiley and so radiant. He attempted twice to entice us to sign up some day tours with him but we politely refused. He did not bring up the matter again. We engaged him to pick us up from the hotel to the airport on the last day ( he voluntarily charged us THB500).

There is no traffic whatsoever in this part of the world. Things seemed to move slower. Even at the hotel reception, the staff took so long to record our particulars!

After checking in, we did what we are supposed to do i.e .to sleep! Haha…..After a while, our tummy was growling and we got ready for early dinner. The hotel recommended us to try out ‘No. 1 Thai Food’ which is located opposite the hotel. There weren’t anyone at the restaurant and we were a bit apprehensive but we thought that may it was the Ramadhan month ( Krabi  is predominantly a Muslim area) and it was the low season. Anyway, we were hungry and we quickly ordered some dishes.

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We just could not resist ordering salad with roasted pork. So hard to find it in Malaysia and if you do find one, it normally costs a bomb. This delectable dish is only RM8!

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Fried flat noodles , just like our version of Cantonese fried, but this one is sweet. You are supposed to add in the condiments to the noodles on your own.

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I have totally forgotten what is the above dish? It was recommended by the waitress cum chef. It was good though…

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Stir fry morning glory. We try to incorporate greens into each and every meal as part of our aspiration to stay healthy. It was not too bad, as a matter of fact, full of ‘wok hei’.

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And we washed it all down with ice cool Singha beer.

After the satisfying meal ( which cost us RM33), we took a stroll towards Ao Nang beach, passing by McDonalds and a row of street food. We walked past a lot of eateries that seem to serve more authentic Thai food as compared to the strip along the beach. The restaurants that operate along the beach predominantly serve Western food ( Italian, American).

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Fake Tiffany & Co

We took in the view, stopping briefly if something interesting caught our attention. Otherwise, most of the stalls and shops sell almost the same time i.e. key chains, fridge magnets, fake handbags, beach mats, bikini, sarongs,novelty t-shirts, etc.

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By the time we reached Ao Nang beach, it was already pitch dark so, we continued our ‘look see look see’ . The shops at the stretch of the beach sell similar items and before we knew it, we had already passed by the beach. There  are still shops ( that sells identical items) leading towards Nopparat beach but this particular stretch was less crowded and quiet and hence, we made a u-turn towards our hotel.

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The shops along the beach. The vendors would sit outside the shop enjoying the soft breeze or just to chat among themselves.

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As mentioned earlier, the restaurants along the beach are predominantly western.

On the way back to the hotel, we decided to go for a foot massage ( RM25 for1 hour) at some random massage parlour. Though it was cheap, the massage lacks ummmph, no strength at all. The masseurs looked as if they were using all the strength that they have but we were so nonchalant. We later found out that there is a very good and proper ( with soothing ambience) just across the road with slightly higher prices ( but still much lower than Malaysia’s).

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Also had a pedicure – vampish red for the rest of the trip at Ao Nang.

We called it a day after the massage.

Haleeva Sunshine

445, Moo 2 T. Ao Nang

A. Muang, Krabi Thailand

No. 1 Thai Food

Moo 2, 4203 Road, Ao Nang

Krabi ( opposite Haleeva Sunshine)