Whenever the monkies clamour to go to LEGOLAND Malaysia, they predictably will be looking forward to the rides. I, on the other hand, will be pondering on what food to gorge on. But let's face it - food options within LEGOLAND Malaysia and at the adjacent Medini Mall are no culinary extraordinaire so I am always on the lookout for something to excite the taste buds.
During our recent stay at Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour, we struck gold.
Gelang Patah is a sleepy rustic town where its shops seem to have froze in time, exuding an extremely laid-back vibe. In short, the wifey and I loved it... made even more so when we stumbled onto a small kopitiam located smack in the middle of hardware and provision shops.
Instead of the hotel's buffet breakfast, we decided to try something different during one of the mornings and we were glad we did. Wee Hoi Kopitiam (惠海) is your typical old-style coffee shop which serves the usual kaya toast and kopi... complete with a selection of dim sum!
Okay, the dim sum selection is not great but there were the standard siew mai, har gow, chicken feet, spare ribs in bean sauce and lor mai kai. Pretty decent fare, but the lor mai kai definitely stood out for the monkies. Or so they declared, as the wifey and I were too slow to even snag a bite before the everything was walloped clean. So we just had to make do with the kaya toast, which was okay but nothing spectacular.
What is a kopitiam breakfast without soft boiled eggs? Wee Hoi's soft boiled eggs come from kampung chickens, which supposedly taste different from the usual eggs we are familiar with in Singapore. At first glance, the soft boiled eggs do look different, with the yolks being a slightly darker yellow in colour.
Taste-wise, I found the egg yolks to be so much richer compared to the local ones we have here. I loved how the soft boiled eggs tasted more flavourful, with its texture being less runny. The monkies though, did not exactly take to the taste as readily, presumably because they were more used to the usual taste of soft boiled eggs in Singapore.
I then washed it all down with a cup of kopi, which I found to be very aromatic and strong in flavour. Not the best I have had, but above average.
But clearly, the monkies enjoyed their breakfast... even though it was not the equivalent of a hotel buffet breakfast!
Oh and apparently, Wee Hoi is super famous for its handmade bao (or buns)! But alas, the buns are only delivered daily at 1pm (except Thursdays) and get this, they are usually sold out in less than 30 minutes! Or at least that was what I read from the newspaper cutting. Looks like there is one more great excuse to come back another time.
The other fantastic thing about Gelang Patah is there are no lack of seafood zichar restaurants. Chua Kee, Tian Lai and Star Chef are some of the more popular seafood restaurants that I have came across online. But since we did not have the luxury of time to savour all of them, we settled for Star Chef Seafood Restaurant (星名厨) this time around.
Star Chef is opened for both lunch and dinner, and the location was not exactly that difficult to get to. As a seafood restaurant, it is as no-frills as it can get - no air-con but airy place, wooden tables and plastic chairs... but the food is what ultimately mattered and my word, it did its job splendidly.
Let's just get down to the food, shall we? The Lala (Clams) cooked in broth with ginger and spring onion (RM12) was up first and as you can probably tell from the photo below, I only managed to snap it AFTER the clams have been depleted in half.
The clams were very fresh, and the broth was so good that not a single drop was left after our meal. But nothing could have prepared us for the next dish, Tong Po Pork (RM13). The price is for one portion but we ended up ordering two portions instead which on hindsight, was the best decision ever.
Simply put, I had never tasted Tong Po meat this good. The meat was savoury, and everything just melted so effortlessly in the mouth.
Next up, Fried Chicken in Mala (麻辣) Sauce (RM16 for half-chicken).
Despite its name, the dish was not overly spicy. The chicken was well-marinated, with its crunchy fired skin the main highlight. Overall, it was pretty decent but not something I will order again.
And since the chicken was a tad spicy, we ordered the Braised Duck for the kids.
I think the adults ended up having more of the duck than the kids! The braised gravy was very flavourful with a hint of spices, and the duck meat was tender with a a tinge of sweetness.
Even for the madatory fibre dish, there was no running away from seafood.
We had the Stir Fried Grouper with Broccoli (RM28) and what surprised me was the huge thick chunks of fish slices that came with the broccoli... plus the fish slices were very fresh too!
Of course, it would be criminal if a crab dish did not feature in our orders. And we decided to to be a tad more adventurous and try something new as opposed to the usual Chilli Crab, Black Pepper Crab or Steamed Crab.
Say hello to Butter Cream Crab with Coconut Milk (RM108 for 2 average-sized crabs). Its taste was somewhat similar to that of Butter Crabs, but with the fragrant accompaniment of fresh coconut milk and shredded coconut. I loved how the buttery, creamy and sweet taste of the sauce complemented the juiciness of the crab meat... though the wifey found the taste to be slightly too sweet for her liking.
But overall, the food was immensely satisfying because you just don't get food like this anymore in Singapore - unpretentiously tasty food in a no-frills environment.
Come dinner time, we were once again on the prowl for more food in Gelang Patah. While driving around, we came across this open air food court.
Restoran 777 Food Centre serves up the usual Malaysian hawker food, in an al fresco setting. Lots of stalls, selling a variety of food like bak kut teh, chicken rice, yong tau foo, satay celup, char kway teow, orh luak, rojak line the road and it was a hive of activity!
But with the monkies' energy level fast depleting after a full day at LEGOLAND Malaysia, we decided to pack our dinner back to the hotel room instead. And we obviously over-ordered once again.
The next time you are at LEGOLAND Malaysia or Puteri Harbour with the family, why not head down to Gelang Patah for more food choices at cheaper prices? They are just a short drive away. Besides, there is only so much pizza, pasta or sushi that we parents can take!
Wee Hoi Kopitiam (惠海)
6, Jalan Kacang Panjang, Gelang Patah, Johor (Map)
Opening hours: 6am to 5pm (closed on Thursday)
Star Chef Restaurant (星名厨)
51, Jalan Gelang Emas 1, Taman Gelang Emas
Gelang Patah, (Map)
Opening hours: 9.30am to 10:30pm (Closed on alternate Thursdays)
Tel: +60 19-772 6606
Restoran 777 Food Centre
2 Jln Medan Nusa Perintis 8, Taman Nusa Perintis 2
81550 Gelang Patah, Johor (Map)