Posts filed under Food

Found in Ya’an: A Muslim neighbourhood

Filed in Food, Travels

We were trying to decide where to have dinner this evening. I mentioned a preference for beef or lamb and Amy, my good friend at the panda base, said how about we go to the Muslim neighbourhood.

There is a Muslim neighbourhood in Ya’an? I was intrigued and agreed to check out the makan shops there.

It was within walking distance of the hotel. She wasn’t sure of the way and stopped to ask a couple for directions to the mosque. They pointed to a spot across the road.

I was expecting a grand mosque, and was surprised with how modest it was.


My first sight of the mosque in Ya’an. Two doors away to its right is the office.


The main entrance.


Past the entrance, the first doorway, with what I think are sayings
from the Koran in Chinese.

The makan shop next to the mosque was full so we opted for another one across the road. The meal we ordered was a familiar local favourite with halal ingredients.


Halal hot pot just put to boil. We ordered beef, tofu, meat dumplings
and straw mushrooms.

Something very familiar …


Cili padi!


Green chillies, Ya’an style.

The only thing missing was the soy sauce.

I’m happy to find this Muslim neighbourhood in Ya’an for the Zoo Negara vets and keepers who will be visiting soon to train ahead of Fu Wa and Feng Yi’s arrival in Malaysia next year. From what I’ve heard, a main concern was food. No need to eat instant noodles all the time while here, guys.

Food court somewhere in China

Filed in Food, Travels

I am now in Chengdu after more than 3 glorious and amazing weeks among giant pandas in Bifengxia and Emeishan. There will be more giant pandas for the next two days at the Chengdu Panda Base.

I am staying at the same hotel I stayed in after my first giant panda volunteer trip back in September 2007 to Wolong. Memories of this hotel are mostly about the shops nearby. KFC, Starbucks, Zippo, Victorinox, Carrefour … they are still here!

Among the familiar shops, there is a new shop that is really a collection of food stalls and something we Malaysians are all familiar with – a food court, but one not located in a shopping mall but in a shop along the street around the corner from the hotel.

I’d gone walking after lunch (at KFC, if you must know) and saw what I thought was a dessert place. Once inside, I found the setting familiar and no wonder – there were food stalls along both sides and seating in the middle. Near the front were a few dessert stalls; no wonder I thought this was a dessert shop.

The menus on the walls behind the stalls were mainly in Chinese, but a familiar English phrase caught my eye – Tofu Dessert. I had the “flower bean tofu” (flower bean is the bigger version of red bean).

Unfortunately, the tofu was more like a custard than the tofu I am familiar with from my childhood.

As I enjoyed the flower beans and peanuts, I looked around at some of the stalls near where I was sitting.

The stall to my left offered a familiar window display.

The name of the food court? Here, read it for yourself.

I will probably go back there for dinner in a while, and maybe have some of that familiar window display stuff.

My best meal at Bifengxia Panda Base this trip

Filed in Food, Travels

It’s the Chinese National Day today, and the start of a seven-day holiday for the whole country. Approximately half the panda team is on holiday and with many visitors expected over the next seven days, those on duty will not have time to go for lunch in the canteen at the staff quarters. Instead, the canteen will be sending a food van (Bifengxia’s version of “Meals on Wheels”) around to every department and exhibit.

Around 11:15 a.m. this morning, I saw a couple of the team members carrying a bowl and pair of chopsticks each. Then someone called out, “It’s here!” Melody from the Panda Club office asked if I’d like some lunch. But I didn’t have my own bowl and chopsticks. Instead, my lunch came in a set of three paper bowls and pair of disposable chopsticks.

The first bowl had white rice, the second bowl a mix of sprouts, stir-fried pork and cold meat, and the third bowl cabbage soup. The fourth bowl, which had white rice buried beneath the sprouts, stir-fried pork and cold meat, was Melody’s. We ate at the coffee table. Levi, with his own metal bowl, was eating at his desk, behind his computer monitor, but soon came to join us. We ate and discussed panda stuff and I had the best meal of my trip to Ya’an, and on the last day, no less.

Home, Sweet Home

Filed in Food, Travels

You know it’s time to go home from vacation when you think about the food back home. Notice I didn’t write “miss”, but “think”. And I was prompted to think about a particular food item when I saw it in Ya’an this morning.

Wow, “I love yoo” in China!

This selection looks rather pathetic, but there’s a reason for it.

They’re made fresh on-site.

They got me thinking about ours back home. I’m flying home tomorrow night, and right after a shower and long nap after arrival, I expect I’ll be headed out to look for the Malaysian version.

Under New Management

Filed in Food, Writing

Hoxe’s Cafe, one of my two favourite writing places, is under new management.

The cafe had been rather unpredictable recently when there would be days it wasn’t opened for business. So yesterday evening, after a good time out (visiting mother and attending a reading at Silverfishbooks in Bangsar), I headed on home, keeping my eyes on the cafe as I drove past to see if the lights were on. They were. Altho that was not guarantee it was opened; I once went by only to find it was opened, but closed for a private function.

Anyways, it was opened yesterday evening. Same menu, but in a laminated sheet rather than in a booklet. Same items. Unfamiliar person serving, tho. I ordered my usual, and settled back to read my purchases from Silverfishbooks.

There was a group of young women huddled over the computer. Soon they were screaming over what turned out to be a Japanese pop concert playing on the computer. Granted the cafe was not crowded for a Saturday night, but it was still unusual for customers to be behaving in such a manner.

I noticed one of the servers going up to another customer with a cupcake. From the look on the customer’s face, he’d not ordered the dessert. Later, after I’d finished my dinner, I was served with a slice of walnut carrot cake, “compliments of the chef”.

When I eventually left – I stayed to read and write a while – one of the women detached herself from the group and walked up to the cash register. “Is this place under new management?” I asked and received a yes in reply.

Oh, that’s why those young women were behaving like they owned the place. They do own the place, but continue to maintain the same menu and prices.

Good idea on the menu and prices. With it, they’ve maintained at least one regular customer. Me.

Yay, girl power!