My friend suggested a one day 'makan' trip and Melaka was firstly nominated (as expected). But since being half-Melakan, i wanted to explore new places; and so began our research south of KL. With Google Map and some useful sites that recommend good eats, we finally decided to visit Seremban, Negeri Sembilan on Monday. We left Ampang past seven in the morning and arrived at our first destination an hour later- it could have been faster if not for the heavy morning traffic in KL.
Pasar Besar Seremban
The first round was beef noodle (first picture below) and beehoon sotong (second picture). Overall, the beef noodle was good. We ordered dry. The sauce was thick and the beef slices were tender. The shop owner said that the noodles are made by them. It tasted a bit like udon and pan mee. I expected more from the beehoon sotong but it was just okay. It was beehoon in gravy with slices of pork and its signature- squid. May be i am not much of a squid fan?
Round two was hakka mee. Even two against one, this innocent bowl of noodle emerged a winner. When the bowl arrived, it appeared like any ordinary hakka mee. But as we put them in our mouth, the aroma reached our noses and our taste buds danced. It was delicious and it had the oomph. The noodles were cooked perfectly and blended well with the minced pork. Quoted my friend, "I can eat this everyday if i live in Seremban". Highly recommended.
What? Beef noodle
Where? Stall 748, Pasar Besar Seremban
How much? RM 6 per bowl as of 21 May 2012 in picture
What? Beehoon Sotong
Where? Stall 753, Pasar Besar Seremban
How much? RM 3.50 per plate as of 21 May 2012 in picture
What? Tow Kee Hakka noodle
Where? Stall 810, Pasar Besar Seremban
How much? RM 3.70 per bowl, medium sized as of 21 May 2012 in picture
I met my friend from Seremban at the market and we invited him to join us on this one day trip- and he then became our living GPS. This next visit was not in our itinerary or plan but since being adventurous, we visited. It was a temple on a hill known as the Centipede Hill. According to my friend, this name was given when two chess players noticed a centipede. I was amazed at the temple, partly because it was on a hill and partly because of the beauty of the temple itself.
There are the God of Mercy (picture, left), the Smiling Buddha, the Eight Immortals and the legendary characters from Journey to the West statues. Also, we can view the entire Seremban town from the temple.
Kedai Siew Pau Asia
After the hill, we went to Kedai Siew Pau Asia. Instead of the highly anticipated and well-known siew pau, i read about the recommendation on their egg tarts. At RM 1.30 per piece, the egg tart was mouthful.
Don't get confused with the use of word 'Asia' in the name of the shops- i know i did. Restoran Asia serves curry laksa as opposed to being a confectionery and they are not located next to each other.
Highly recommended. Enough said.
What? Curry laksa
Where? Restoran Asia
How much? RM 4 for medium sized, RM 4.70 for large as of 21 May 2012
Kee Mei Siew Pow
Finally, our first, gastronomic encounter with the famous siew pau. This siew pau shop is near Restoran Asia so we decided to stop by, buy each at RM 1.30 and stock them up in the car as we made our way to the outskirt of Seremban for travel time.
Royal Museum Seri Menanti, Kuala Pilah
From our last stop, we drove about 30 minutes to reach this destination. Along the way, driving through kampungs and hills, we crossed the second tallest bridge in Malaysia. It was a surprise to us since not knowing such fact before this. Truly, road trip gives you great new experiences and exposures.
The Royal Museum Seri Menanti was one i was looking forward to visit as i knew little about it but was aware of its uniqueness. This old palace was built in 1902 and completed in 1908 (that's more than hundred years ago!) by local craftsmen known as Tukang Kahar and Tukang Taib. Inside the now museum, there was a painting dated in the 1920s of the palace. The palace in the painting was where it stands today only without modern additions for preservation and development at its surrounding area.
The uniqueness i was talking about? This old palace was built without the use of a single metal nail and this four-storey edifice features 99 others of the cengal wood to denote the 99 warriors of the various clans. A wonder, isn't it? Each floor was built to a different purpose, namely the Balai Rong Seri, chambers for the royal family, for the Yang Dipertuan Besar and treasury.
Touring around the Royal Museum, unfortunately, i felt disconnected as the information boards were lengthy and wordy. Although with many photographs, mostly portraits, there were a tad too many to digest in a short period of time. Who's who? Also, some sections of the museum were not properly lit and no hands-on trying on the replica, making the visit quick and less interesting. Except for the fact that we climbed until the top floor and knowing the unique features behind this old palace, a visit once to the Royal Museum Seri Menanti would suffice. Free admission.
Jelita Ostrich Farm
We moved from Seri Menanti then, crossed the bridge and searched for the sign board that points to Jelebu. Little did we know that Jelebu has another name- Kuala Klawang, and it was written so small on the sign board that we missed the turning. Having said that, we managed to find the route that brought us to our next destination.
It was my second visit to this farm- the first was when i followed my brother's kindergarten school trip years back. I hardly remembered how it looked like but surely, i remembered the ostrich ride. We arrived, unknowingly, at lunch time (1pm-2pm) but the workers were kind enough to accommodate us. Admission fee is RM 8 per person and after payment, Mr Said (i'm not sure if his name is spelled like this) provided us a tour at the farm. He began by sharing with us that this ostrich farm is the first of its kind in Malaysia and continued with the characteristics of the big bird. He has a good sense of humour and explains well.
This farm visit was one of the most memorable experiences throughout this one day trip. We got the chance to greet this big (and silly, as Said told us) birds, stand and carry their large eggs, ride on them and watch an ostrich race demonstrated by the workers. A certificate is awarded to those who rode the ostrich. Said went on to explain the male role of egg hatching. When the female lays the egg, the male sits on it, without food, without drink, until it hatches. He claimed this is how the name 'burung unta' is given in Malay (unta is camel). I say, here is to a father's love!
We talked about ostriches on the table too- its meat and egg (it's a 'makan' trip, right?), and i thought i would have the chance to taste them in the farm. No ostrich was injured when we left.
It was a quiet Monday at the farm when we were there. The farm is a good effort and i hope it will continue to draw crowd and maintain its facilities.
Restoran Yi Poh
If i hadn't seen how it's spelled, i thought it was Ipoh.
Lunch time, and i was starving. We finally went back to Seremban and to the shop opposite Kedai Siew Pau Asia. My friend recommended this local dish, of the same name Yi Poh Noodles. The noodle is like a cross between lai fan and chou mi fun, not too hard and not too soft either. It comes dry with, again, thick black sauce to mix with the noodles and pork slices. It has a unique flavour; no bad or good but just being different and definitely not found in KL. We were at the restaurant around 3pm and customers were still coming. Opens everyday from 7.30am to 6pm.
Where? Restoran Yi Poh
How much? RM 3.80 per medium sized bowl as of 21 May 2012
With a happy tummy, we drove to the next stop- the Cultural Center. It is along the main road, near where we exited the highway into Seremban- yes, we passed by this place earlier in the morning. This Minangkabau architecture of the building impresses us from afar but sadly, like the Royal Museum Seri Menanti, a visit once would suffice.
There was not much to see except for the human skeleton in the exhibition. Mostly talking about megaliths, and many replicas of them, the exhibit boards were wordy. As we went to the upper floor, it was dusty and not well maintained. Luckily for the shelter, the rain came and we took some time to rest- stomach and feet. When it stopped, we toured around at the life-size houses on display. At the front, there were three replicas of megaliths carved that resemble a spoon, a sword and a rudder, which became known as Batu Kemudi, Batu Sudu and Batu Pedang.
Time was on our side so we decided to visit the Jusco in Seremban. For tea break, we had Starbucks new beverage.
Seremban Siew Pau, Empayar
Round two of siew pau. This time, i had mine hot and freshly made, and it was outstanding! I saw the heat escaping from core with every bite, the fillings tasty and with just the right saltiness, and the crust crispy. No wonder people would turn in to this shop, seen by the highway, just to buy- i might just do that next time. RM 1.30 for a star. Bought some pieces to bring home (eat a piece while it's still hot), and now i regretted- i should have bought more!
Recommended by many, we settled down at this restaurant almost 7pm, rested, ordered and rested while we waited for our food to come.
Dinner arrived and we prepared to dig in- fork and spoon first, then our hands.We had their signature bean curd that was soft, delicate and its texture appeared much like a steamed egg- it's that smooth. The gravy was flavourful and it was a good start to dinner. Then we had Choi Tam, a vegetable to compensate for all the seafood and food we had for the day. Plain stir fry was a nice retreat.
Salted Egg Sea Mantis was next on the menu. It was tasty, especially at portions that were drenched with the salted egg. It was rather little but since we were a group of three, we had enough to share. The finale, the one that got us to use our hands, was the Baked Crabs- one of the highlights of the dinner. At 1kg, we had more to eat. The crab was succulent. The thick black sauce that layered the crab was salty- so salty that at one point when i tasted, it shot straight to the core. When the flesh is out, dip it into the chili sauce. Be careful, it is spicy so make sure you do not put too much on it. The chili sauce was definitely a plus point to the crab meat. Eat crabs only when you have all the time in the world, and enjoy- this is what i believe in when indulging on crabs. Take your time to break the shells and dig in to the fresh flesh. We sat, slowly eating the crab, and enjoyed peeling every bit until our stomachs got full. Baked Crabs, somehow i still don't get the 'Baked' part (may be it's baked then stir fried with the sauce) and might be slightly overrated, this restaurant is recommended.
What? Baked crabs, salted egg sea mantis, signature taufu (bean curd)
Where? Kedai Makanan Seremban, Seremban Seafood Village
How much? Baked crabs (RM 55/kg, picture is RM 55), salted egg sea mantis (RM 12) and signature bean curd (RM 8)
We left Seremban and arrived KL around 9pm. We were on schedule, we had what we planned, we enjoyed ourselves. Seremban is definitely a small town but it is not short of its wonders. There were traffic in Seremban but not like in KL.
So, if you ask me now about Seremban, the first thing is the siew pau. The second is the hakka noodle. The third is the curry laksa. And those that follow... are those in this post.
Here's to a successful day trip to Seremban!
*The above is written following the itinerary, as suggested if you are planning for a day trip to Seremban.
**Some photographs credited to friend TSM.