Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Weekend in Medan: Places to Visit

Last week, I posted about the local food galore I feasted while I was on my short holiday with family in Medan. As promised, here is the information of some of the famous tourist spots that we visited while we were in Medan.

We skipped the idea of visiting Berastagi and Lake Toba this year due to time constraint and my brother was reluctant to drive us there. Lake Toba roughly takes 5 hours car drive from Medan city while Berastagi is about 2 hours away.

My brother and his girlfriend had to scratch their head when we asked them to bring us around the famous landmarks or places that tourists would normally visit in the capital city of North Sumatera. The fact that they actually live in Medan and locals don't really visit tourist destinations in their own city/town, my brother and his girlfriend found my task was quite phenomenal to do - until I gave them a list of things to do in Medan that I gathered in the internet before hand for them to review. Both of them tried their best in covering the interesting destinations in Medan for us so long they were not located too far away from Medan city and still within our culinary routes.

Following are some of the places around Medan that we managed to drop by in our 4D3N trip. I must admit that we ate more than travelling around the town to see the tourist spots in Medan. (This is actually the main difference of a trip arranged by my side of family versus my husband's family. The itinerary that is designed by my family generally would be full of eating local food regardless of meal time whilst the agenda from my better half's is full of sightseeing and we just eat on time for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

MAHA MAITREYA CEMARA ASRI

The first tourist destination that my brother brought us to see was Maitreya Vihara which is dubbed as one of the largest Buddhist temples in Indonesia. Some say it's the biggest temple in SEA but I don't think so. It's a huge temple but not all places are accessible for visitors because the temple mainly functions as a place for Buddhism followers to worship and pray. As such, we just took photos mostly in front of the temple.

Maha Maitreya Vihara, Medan.

My husband was quite impressed with the dragon engraved pillars in the temple.

The dragon pillar.

There's a pretty big Guan Yin statue on a fish pond further inside the temple which visitors can take photo with. We also took photo with the Guan Yin statue as the background but I cannot post the picture here because the photos turned out to be quite dark due to back-light.

Happy Naomi playing in the bridge above the fish pond.

We also found huge playground in ship shape that Naomi had so much fun playing with as we walked back to the leave the temple. She was literally the only child playing in the playground so it was like all hers.

One big plastic ship, isn't it?

Maha Vihara Maitreya
Address: Komplek Perumahan Cemara Asri, Jalan Cemara Boulevard Utara, Medan.

KOLAM BANGAU CEMARA ASRI


This large pond full of storks in Cemara Asri residential area is probably not a tourist destination per se but it definitely caught our eyes.

Why cannot see the storks?

Unfortunately, the storks are not quite visible in the above picture that we took in hurry using a selfie stick but this pond really hosts numerous of white storks, almost creating Republic of Stork on its own. Naomi was crying in the car while we got down to take some quick pictures with the pond. However, as Naomi was screaming murder in her uncle's car, we only managed to snap like two pictures with the pond background and the storks were not clear either in the pictures. Too bad.

GRAHA MARIA ANNAI VELANGKANNI

When my brother and his girlfriend drove us further away from the city of Medan, I still had no idea where they were bringing us. All I remember was the bumpy road and endless traffic jam to get to the destination located in Sunggal.

When we finally about to reach the destination, from afar I thought we were going to see a famous Indian temple in Medan. However, as we came closer to what I thought was a typical tall Indian temple in blue and grey hues, I actually noticed crosses in the building. I shouted, "It's a church!". "Catholic church.", my brother corrected.

A church with Hindu temple architecture.

I found this church building was particularly unique as compared to other Batak style churches I saw in Medan because Annai Velangkanni shares common architecture with Hindu temples. Wikipedia tipped me that Annai Velangkanni is a Catholic church in Indo-Mogul style that is devoted to Our Lady Vailankanni, a Saint from India. This church is not only used as a praying or worshipping place but it's also a pilgrim destination for Catholics.

The moment after my brother parked his car in the parking lot, I quickly dashed to the ladies' room first because I had been holding my bladder forever during the bumpy ride. When I was waiting for the rest to get their toilet business done, an Indian guy who appeared to be the security guard came over to my brother's girlfriend and me. He handed a purple songket cloth to my brother's girlfriend while saying "Cannot wear short pants in the church area. Women must cover up and later you return this cloth to us.". When he saw me wearing short pants too, he said he'd come back with another cloth for me. Minutes later, he indeed came back to me with another cloth but to my horror, the cloth he gave to me looked more like a table cloth instead of a pretty traditional songket.

Geddit?

Shortly later, all of us took photos with the Church then also climbed up to the top part of the Church but didn't really enter the chapel or quiet area where people prayed.

The sky was already grey when we came to Annai Velangkanni but what a timing! Right after we took photos here and there, suddenly the sky just poured then all of us frantically ran back to the car.

Posing with the poster before the rain poured.

My brother's girlfriend returned the cloths to the security guard and apparently there was no fee charged for borrowing these cloths. I was once charged S$2 for a long cloth to cover up my legs in Indonesian Embassy in Singapore as I wore a skirt above my knees when I was about to settle some paperwork there.

GREAT MOSQUE OF MEDAN

Also known as Masjid Raya Medan, the Great Mosque of Medan is one of the architectural heritages from Deli Sultanate built in the early 1900s and currently still used for daily prayers.

One beautiful mosque, indeed.

I thought it was not proper for us to enter this Mosque and take pictures of it while there might have been some people praying in the Mosque, even though someone in the street pointed to us to go inside, take a look and snap some pictures with the Mosque. I declined this opportunity and we only took some pictures of the Mosque from outside while my brother and Naomi waited for us in the car.

ISTANA MAIMOON (MAIMOON PALACE)

This Royal Palace of Deli Sultanate is a well-known landmark which was built towards the late of 1800s and a popular tourist destination in Medan. Visitors are free to take pictures around and welcomed to check out the inside the palace as well.

Maimoon Palace, Medan.

Parking fee was 5k IDR and when we were at Maimoon Palace, my brother and I were keen to take pictures in front of the palace because this palace was very crowded with visitors that day. On the other hand, my husband actually showed a strong interest in going inside the palace since we were already there.

The Royal Palace.

It was Sunday afternoon when we checked out Maimoon Palace and the premise was full of policemen. I thought public was not supposed to go there that day but apparently those policemen were just visitors or tourists just like us. When my husband saw those policemen, his first comment to me was "Wah, Indonesian policemen are so slim and fit, unlike in Malaysia." I nodded but then I doubted this. With my brother around, I told him about my husband statement. "Young police (read: just graduated from the academy)", he said to my husband. We all laughed in agreement because it all made sense. The next day, we spotted an older traffic policeman on our way back to the airport and he was rather plump.

TJONG A FIE'S MANSION

The last popular tourist spot that we visited in Medan, and the one that in my opinion was the most memorable of all, was the house of Tjong A Fie in Kesawan. Tjong A Fie was known as the wealthiest man in Medan in early 1900s, owning banks, plantations, trading companies and I forgot what else. Back then, Tjong A Fie was a prominent Hakka businessman in Medan and had a strong relationship with the Sultan and Dutch authorities.

Normally, I am not so interested in visiting Museum or old heritage house because I thought those are the kind of place that would give me goosebumps. However, since there was not that many tourist spots one can visit in the city of Medan, I agreed to visit Tjong A Fie's Mansion as per my brother suggestion.

In front of Tjong A Fie's long time residence.

The entrance fee for adult is 35k IDR/pax and while I thought we could just circle the whole house then leave the place as soon as possible, we were actually given a guided tour inside the house in Bahasa Indonesia. I think guided tour really made a whole lot difference to the visit because as we walked around the house, there was a distinct and interesting story accompanying almost every part of the house.

Just got in the Mansion.

The Mansion took 5 years to complete and it was actually Tjong A Fie's gift to his third wife who bore him seven children. I immediately noticed that Tjong A Fie was truly a very important and well-regarded man in Medan when we checked out his three living rooms. One was dedicated for meeting Sultan, one was for meeting public and the last one was for his fellow Chinese men. Regular guy would not have different living rooms to meet different kind of people, right? Also, history has it that Tjong A Fie contributed 1/3 of the construction fund of Great Mosque of Medan and donated hefty amount of money for a museum in Holland.

The open air area inside the Mansion.

My husband was particularly amazed with the architectural design as well as the thoughtful interiors and feng shui of this 115 years old historical Mansion. The attention to details of the house's interior was immaculate and almost all of the furnitures and tiles were imported from Europe and China.

The house was perfect for practising some Kungfu moves.

Tjong A Fie's bed room was nearly as big as a small house and there was a ball room and library upstairs too. The house was built on 5 hectares land and has 40 rooms in total (Surprisingly, the Maimoon Royal Palace only has 30).

Our tour guide explaining the Mansion's dining room.

Public visitors could only check one part of the house as Tjong A Fie's great grandchild currently still lives in the other part of the Mansion.

The photo gallery room upstairs.

Oh ya, there was also another family who joined us during the tour and my goodness, the man in that group was possibly the most inquisitive and borderline annoying person I had ever encountered in a guided tour - to the point that he basically gave the poor tour guide a hard time for an hour or so. His questions were relentless, not exactly polite and shot in interrogating tone like the tour guide owed him few millions Rupiah or what.

Tjong A Fie's Mansion
Address: Jalan Jend. A. Yani, Kesawan, Medan.


Farewell in the airport.

That's a wrap about my trip to Medan and I am thankful to my brother and his girlfriend who patiently drove us around the city while dutifully introducing the popular tourist spots and local food in Medan for 4 days.

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Round Up

Another year is coming to an end.

Looking back, 2015 is indeed a complicated year for me. I pretty much spent the first half of the year grieving or at least, trying to fix my thoughts and organize my life. However, for the rest of the year, I was trying to remain hopeful, normal and positive, especially since there were many (exciting) things going on in my daily life.

Anyway, I had no time to sit down and think of my New Year's Resolution as yet but here's the summary of what happened this year:

1. Naomi in the play school

At 2.5 years old, my husband and I decided to send Naomi to play school in March. It was more of our attempt to get her speaks because she was a late talker. We never regret sending Naomi to school early because she learns a lot from her school and simply flourishes since we sent her to the play school.

Happy girl in school.

She began to speak more and her vocabularies have grown larger every day, was potty trained few months into school/daycare and now is free from pacifier which comforted her for about 3 years. The only drawback that we find a bit awful and painful to deal with is seeing her getting sick almost every month from a legion of funky viruses she contracted in her school/day care like HFMD, Bronchitis, fever, cough, cold and so on almost once a month. Ever since Naomi entered school, Naomi sees paediatrician typically on monthly basis and had to be nebulized twice this year. Naomi had never been treated with a nebulizer in all her life before school/daycare.

My China Doll in school.

On the other hand, I had found new friends from Naomi's school. I got to know some of her friends' mothers and befriended them. I have also attended several events in her school this year, which were quite fun and novel to me.

2. First bread maker

I had been wanting to own a bread maker for eons and was so happy when my husband gave me a bread maker as my early birthday present.

This was not possible to achieve without the machine.

Now I can't really imagine my life without a bread maker in the kitchen.

3. Cuti-cuti Malaysia

We went to Penang with friends earlier this year. We even had complimentary stay at Hard Rock Hotel Penang thanks to this friend of ours! Sadly, I've lost a folder of our pictures in Penang and still have no idea how I could lose those precious pictures. It pains me every time I see and think of the empty folder in my laptop and hard disk now.

Naomi and friends just touched down in Penang.

It was quite a trip to remember in Penang because Naomi developed a high fever after a swim in the hotel's majestic swimming pool and water play. We spent our days in Penang feeling mostly frustrated and tired because our toddler was so fussy and cried a lot when she had the high fever.

We also went to Cameron Highlands for the third time with family this year. This time around, I got to see, touch and smell real lavenders for the first time.

Cameron Highland with the girls.

I will consider going to cold places with Naomi in the near future after we learnt that Naomi hated to wear jacket even in a chilly place. We struggled a lot to make her wear her jacket when we were in Cameron Highlands especially at night.

4. Mom's birthday and home town

In view of the soaring air ticket price to go to Indonesia, we have virtually cut down the number of our visit to my home town from twice a year to just once a year. This year, we managed to go home just in time to celebrate my Mom's birthday - an important day that I have missed celebrating for years.

Happy birthday, Mom!

I also met my new nephew in Indonesia earlier this year.

5. Teaching the kids

Naomi's school had this parent involvement program where students' parents were encouraged to teach an activity to the kids. I took part and taught one area I know best to the children - making dog cookies.

Teaching the kids how to make dog cookies.

6. Hospitalized

Sometime in July, I was down with high fever for longer than usual. Later on, I was diagnosed with viral fever and developed UTI which warranted a hospice stay for a couple of days. It marked my first time being hospitalized due to illness.

Duh.

Thanks to my fever, we wasted our Hari Raya long weekend holiday and spent it in the hospital.

7. 31st Birthday

I turned 31 this year and my husband did a mini birthday celebration for me, attended by the three of us. As usual, as he put efforts to make me happy on my birthday but I fail to reciprocate the bare minimum for his birthday.

Mommy is getting old, Naomi.

8. 4th Wedding Anniversary

We are technically husband and wife since 2010 but owing to Chinese belief on auspicious date and all, we only got to celebrate our wedding a year later. My husband gave me a huge 9 white roses for our wedding anniversary this year - quite surprising that he is a romantic guy after all.

Finally.. A bouquet for me.

Naomi was the happiest girl to receive the flowers, apparently.

Because girls love flowers.

And we celebrated our wedding anniversary without tagging Naomi along at the same Korean restaurant in town, two years in a row.

Yum, yum.

9. Naomi's 3rd birthday with friends

This year was Naomi's first time celebrating her birthday with her friends. We flew my parents from Indonesia so they could share the joy of this small dinosaur themed birthday party with Naomi's little friends. Too bad, due to the torrential rain just before the party started, my husband's parents were not able to join us.

Cute birthday ever.

10. Singapore with parents

When my parents were in Malaysia, we drove them to Singapore for sightseeing. We went to Gardens by The Bay and River Safari. It was my parents's second time in Singapore.

Hello again, Singapore.

If only Naomi was not too challenging and playful to handle when we went for holiday, we could have seen more parts of Singapore.

11. The Marriage Course

Our church members initiated and organized Marriage Course for 7 Sundays sometime in September until end of October. My husband and I were fortunate to take part at this inspiring and enlightening course where both of us learnt how improve the quality of our marriage life especially since we never attended any pre-marriage course before. One of the course's takeaway that we remember vividly and try to put into practice until to date is to have our weekly marriage time.

Sad when it ended.

Ah yes, we were also the lucky winners of two buffet dinner vouchers at the hotel during the lucky draw done at the course's finale.

12. Dylan's headstone

What a relief to finally have our angel son's headstone replaced, one of the least things we could do as his parents. Fixing his headstone had been in our to-do-list for a long time and my husband and I were just so happy when we could give our little Dylan's a sturdier headstone to commemorate our son who was called Home too soon.

Rest in Paradise, love.

A couple of typos on the final product but I choose to close one eye on them.

13. Pregnant with Rainbow Baby

God heard my prayers and finally replaced my heart aches and tears with joy. We were ecstatic to find out that we are expecting our Rainbow baby next year. The pregnancy so far progresses well although I have to see my gynae more often than usual. However, I am not complaining - all these sacrifices will be all worth the efforts and we always love to see Baby #3 via the ultrasound scan. We hope and can't cease praying for having a healthy baby in our arms next year.

Baby #3.

My cryptic baby was cryptic. Baby #3 refused to show his/her gender so pink or blue remains a mystery up to this very day.

14. Virgin trip to Medan

I wanted a short getaway before the year ends and chose to go to Medan a couple weeks ago, while visiting my brother. And of course, trying the local food as well.

A virgin trip to Medan.

15. The dullest Christmas ever

We set up our Christmas tree back in November but somehow I didn't feel much of the Christmas spirit this year. No Christmas cookies were baked, no Christmas party was planned nor attended. In fact, December is our ultimate sick month. Naomi had Bronchitis earlier this month then passed the virus to me and her Dad. By the time Naomi and I got better from Bronchitis, my husband contracted the persistent virus and to add the excitement, I was down with very bad flu days after I came back from Medan. I was pretty much quarantined at home during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day nurturing hideous flu with nose running like a tap.

Unwrapping her Christmas present on Christmas morning.

Nevertheless, I managed to drag myself to attend the short Christmas service on Christmas morning as I was slightly better that morning; then continued rolling in my bed with a box of tissue for the rest of the day. My husband and I also bought Christmas presents to Naomi. No fancy family pictures taken during this year's Christmas. So sad.. 4 days of long weekend were wasted.

I had to see gynae and general physician 5 times this month while Naomi had to see her doctors three times. Not sure whether I should blame the weather, virus in the air or our lousy immune system for all this misery. Erm.. Naomi is coughing and having a runny nose again since yesterday. Sigh.. How many times must we fall sick in just a month?

16. Home-made Gula Melaka Tang Yuan

Winter Solstice arrived late this year.

My husband made glutinous rice balls for me on Christmas Day - his first time doing so. For the next few days, I was craving glutinous rice balls again and made my husband dutifully made me some glutinous rice balls with palm sugar filling three times in a row as my craving had changed direction to China. He is now a pro at making glutinous rice balls and can certainly open a glutinous rice ball stall soon. LOL.

BTW, we hope the Year End long weekend will treat us better.

Belated Merry Christmas every one and may 2016 be a smashing year to all of us. 
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to write a new wonderful chapter! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Weekend in Medan: What to Eat

Christmas is coming but I will not be coming home for Christmas this year and neither will my little brother who currently makes a living in Medan, the fourth largest city in Indonesia and the largest city outside Java.

Since both of us are stranded far away from home and KL-Medan is just 45 minutes away by air, I thought of visiting him - considering I had not seen my brother for 2 years already and never been to Medan either. About 2-3 weeks ago, I abruptly booked air tickets and 4D3N accommodation for the three of us. A couple hours later, soon after we settled the technical glitches from booking everything online, it was confirmed - we were flying to Medan a week before Christmas.

Last Friday, we flew to Medan for the first time. Naomi cried buckets when we had to put her mini Princess Sofia luggage to the scanner in the airport. She was not exactly a behaved little girl during the short flight either. She refused to fold the tray table in front of her during take-off and landing, despite few passing air stewardess and steward 's constant reprimands on this matter.

Anyway, about an hour later, we finally landed in Medan! I was quite excited to meet my brother again and have a short getaway but didn't set my expectation high from this city as my brother and best friend had told me that there's nothing much to see in Medan, especially if we don't go further to Lake Toba or Berastagi. Before we went to Medan, I had passed a list of the places that we wanted to see and food that we wanted to try in Medan to my brother.

TIP TOP RESTAURANT

Once we arrived to Medan, I told my brother that I was ravenous so he brought us to a famous old-fashioned restaurant/bakery in the city before checking in to our hotel. I was surprised to see that there was a lot of people patron this fairly old restaurant although it was not dinner time yet. People just kept coming to buy their old-style sliced cakes.

The famous Tip Top Restaurant, Medan.

My brother mentioned that the most celebrated dish in the restaurant is their Fried Rice which he ordered. My husband and I tasted a small spoon of his Fried Rice and it was actually very tasty with a tad of burnt taste like the rice was fried on a very big fire or something. However, we felt that the fried rice was quite oily too.

Nasi Goreng Tip Top.

While my brother took less than a minute to pick his food choice, I needed more time examining their menu. I noticed Risol or Risoles in Tip Top's menu so I quickly asked for one Beef Risoles and one Chicken Risoles because it's been ages since I ate Risoles. I was kind of disappointed though when the Risoles came to our table had no accompanying Tauco sauce but just normal chilli sauce. Apparently, Risoles in Medan is served this way.

Tip Top Chicken Risol.

For my main dish, I ordered Nasi Capcay. I was recovering from irritating Bronchitis when I went to Medan so I avoided food that would trigger my relentless phlegmy cough as much as possible. The Nasi Capcay that I ordered hit home. It was so good and reminded me of the Nasi Capcay that my parents used to buy for me when I was young. No ginger slices and simply wonderful. In fact, I also bought back one more Nasi Capcay for my little vegetable lover so she could eat this for dinner in the hotel. She was napping when we were dining in this restaurant.

Yum yum!

My husband wanted to eat Nasi Padang instead so his early dinner was a spicy one.

Nasi Padang.

This is the display of famous old-fashioned cakes that this restaurant sells. When I observed that so many people queue for the cakes, I just had to get some too. I bought two small chocolate cakes and a horn pastry (Kue Cum Cum) for our snack in the hotel.

Tip Top's old-style cakes or cake jadul.

I think the food in Tip Top was good but must say that their food price is slightly on the high side. Our total bill came out about 250k IDR for 4 dishes (including Naomi's) and 3 drinks. One dish like Fried Rice or Nasi Capcay roughly cost 30k IDR but their sliced cakes were not expensive - one slice was about 5.5k IDR or 6k IDR (less than RM 2).

Tip Top Restaurant
Address: Jalan Jenderal Ahmad Yani (Jalan Kesawan) No. 92 A-B, Medan, North Sumatera, 20111

Right after we had our early dinner in Tip Top, my brother drove us to our hotel so we could check in and freshen up. After shower, my brother took us to Centrepoint Mall which was just a stone's throw away from our hotel.

For breakfast, we ate in the hotel because our accommodation was inclusive of breakfast buffet.

Naomi having her breakfast in Pyjamas.

Having our breakfast in the hotel was actually a good idea so we could take our time in the morning and my brother didn't have to rush to find us so early as he lives quite far away from our hotel.

NASI BATAK

On our second day in Medan, my brother introduced us to a typical Batak cuisine or Nasi Batak which meals are mainly made or pork or dog meat (so I heard). Batak people are majority Christian so their diet is not restricted to halal food. My brother ordered an array of food with pork for our lunch. No dog meat please.

Our Nasi Batak Spread.

I am never a big fan of pork so I cannot really comment on this cuisine. I didn't really eat the roast pork, fried pork and Saksang (pork and pork organ cooked in spices and blood - first dish on the top left) but I did try a bit of each of them. Last week, I didn't know that Saksang was cooked in blood too so I tried it. I only found out about this when I read about it in Wikipedia just now. If I knew, I surely would have not put any in my mouth.

Anyway, I ate my white rice mostly with the super spicy sambal tempe with anchovies and the green veggie dish. I love tempe more than pork. Naomi ate her rice with the roast and fried pork and the mushy green vegetable dish which was not spicy at all.

Local sarsaparilla drink for my husband and brother.

My brother taught us that there were two different chilli sauces (sambal) to go with the pork dishes. I forgot which one goes for the roast pork and which one goes for the fried pork. As there were three sambal-like condiments in our table, I poured each of them onto my saucer. When my brother saw me doing that, he quickly informed me that the darkest or brown sauce was not exactly a sambal, it was blood. I shrieked.

Dapur Batak Roma
Address: Jalan Pabrik Tenun no. 54 Medan
Phone: +62 61 414 8664

After lunch, we checked out some places around Medan but I will blog about these places separately; else, you would have to scroll down this blog post until tomorrow.

TAU KUA HECI SUNGGAL

My brother's girlfriend proposed to go to Sunggal to check out a famous tourist spot and try a well-known local dish in the area. Sunggal is an out-skirt area in Medan so it took us about 1 hour to get there by car. I must warn you that the roads to get there from the city were very bumpy. In fact, I think most of the roads in Medan need to be fixed, man... A large part of Medan's road infrastructure is sadly now in dire condition and the traffic jams are simply horrible in many spots day and night. Can you believe that I actually went down to buy some mineral water in a mini mart during a traffic jam at night and found my brother's car was still in the same exact spot as I left it?

Moving on, to find the famous Heci shop in Sunggal was not easy. The shop was located in a rather remote place. At first, I thought GPS gave my brother's girlfriend a very wrong information because we were led to some very ulu location in a village with a small road. But trust the local. We did find the shop and mind you, this small shop in this remote kampong was full house and so many people bought back many packets of the Heci too. I heard that people from the city purposely drive to this small shop in Sunggal to enjoy their Heci.

In front of the Tau Kua Heci shop in Sunggal.

My brother's girlfriend helped us order two portions of the well-known Heci for us to try. When the Heci arrived to our table, I could only think that this Heci is quite a departure from the Heci I know in East Java, although both are deep fried. However, to me, this Heci Medan shares the same concept with Malaysia's Wu Xiang Xia Bing.

Tau Kua Heci Sunggal.

A plate of Heci Medan consists of a fried prawn cracker, two big deep fried shrimps, two crab fritters, two slices of fried tofu and blanched Kangkung covered in generous red sweet sauce. A small pate of Heci like this cost 27k IDR (or almost RM 10). In the beginning, I thought this one was really expensive for random deep fried snack sold in a remote village. Then, I put my thinking cap on again... Hey, there were shrimps and crabs in this plate so it made sense that this one was a bit pricey.

Other than Heci, the famed dishes from this shop are Emie and Mee Rebus. I think they also sell Satay but I don't remember much about the Satay as we didn't buy any. We also tried a plate of Emie just for the sake of trying it since we were already there. My brother's girlfriend raised that Heci and Emie are also widely available in the city but the famous ones were these ones from Sunggal.

Emie Sunggal.

So... Emie tasted weird. The thin yellow noodle was served with some tofu, blanched bean sprouts and lots of crackers on top. The thick brown sauce was sweet and had a very strong ginger aroma which I despise. Even my brother's girlfriend was not a fan and refused to eat the Emie after one bite... Guess who managed to wiped it clean in our pack? The one and only Naomi. She loved it.

MIE ACEH

Mie Aceh was in our food-to-eat list so my brother also made us try Mie Aceh in town right after we left Sunggal. That day, I felt like I was emulating Sarah Benjamin. We were on a constant eating roll, travelling around Medan and eating endless different food in a day just for the sake of trying them. Watch out, Sarah.. I might be hosting Must Try Asia Medan soon.

Mie Aceh Titi Bobrok.

I have never seen a local restaurant which basically just sells noodle and rujak plus some snacks so huge, showcasing tons of yellow noodles in their display. BTW, it was only around 4pm and this two-storey restaurant was packed with people eating noodle or fruit rujak.

Mie Aceh is a spicy thick noodle dish, usually served with slices of beef, mutton or seafood. Chicken was indeed not in their menu. Why ah? Since there was no chicken available, I chose Mie Aceh with beef. Mie Aceh usually comes in two variations - fried (goreng) or soup. I asked for the one in between goreng and soup as an attempt to eat less oily food.

Yum yum.

Mie Aceh was very tasty and overall, I felt that it was similar to Mie Goreng Jawa - perhaps because they're cooked in spicy paste. We only ordered one plate as all of us were still full from our heavy lunch and Heci. A plate of Mie Aceh was not expensive. I had to fork out 12.5k IDR for a plate of noodle with meat like the above.

Mie Aceh Titi Bobrok
Address: Jalan Setia Budi no. 17C Medan

SELAT PANJANG

Selat Panjang is Medan's Hokkien-Chinese food street heaven. It's tucked in an alley which is peppered with carts selling local food, Pasar Malam kind of toys, cold dessert and rainbow-coloured traditional kue/kuih. There are also a lot of old Chinese restaurants behind the food carts where people can have a sit-down meal. I think some or maybe all the restaurant owners would allow diners to eat the food they bought from outside (food carts along the alley) provided they also order food from the restaurant. To be safe, better check with the restaurant owner first before eating outside food inside the restaurant premise.

In front of the famous Chicken Rice shop.

My brother and his girlfriend brought us to Selat Panjang to try the Hainan Chicken Rice. The Chicken Rice was sold in an old restaurant and again, this small restaurant was full of diners during dinner time. I don't know what my brother's girlfriend exactly order for our Chicken Rice as she spoke to the owner in Hokkien but the Chicken Rice set that came to our table looked like this.

Chicken Rice set in Medan.

Each set came with a fragrant rice accompanied by a bowl of soup and a plate of tofu, roast and steam chicken meat, shrimps, braised eggs and vegetables. The rice was somewhat oily though.

We live to eat.

My brother and his girlfriend bought some food from outside for us to try. They said the yummy one was the Es Campur but I didn't taste any.

 Medan's Chee Cheong Fun.

We tried Medan's Chee Cheong Fun but it was bleh... Plain and greasy Chee Cheong Fun served with green chilli sauce and fried shallots. That's it.

Sate Padang.

A packet of Sate Padang that my brother bought had clam, beef and chicken satays. The satay sauce was quite different from the ones in Java and Malaysia. Personally, I still prefer the usual peanut satay sauce in my home town or here in Malaysia. My brother said that the satays should be safe for pregnant mother's consumption because the meat was already slow-cooked in yellow spice sauce before the seller grilled the satays.

Yummy Bakpao at the end of the Selat Panjang street.

Before we concluded our gastronomical experience in Selat Panjang, we went to buy some steamed buns or Bao/Bakpao. I was aiming to buy Chicken Bao but the stall ran out of it so Pork Bao it was. Medan's Pork Bao was so yummy and Naomi could not stop eating it! She even demanded the last bite of the Bao in the car. I should have bought more than one. I have been craving Indonesian Bakpao for the longest time now. Hard truth - I never like the meat Bao in Malaysia. I find the meat filling for Bao in Malaysia is weird and not too enjoyable. It's either there's pork skin or thick fat in the filling or the producers use ngo hiong powder to cook the meat filling. This doesn't happen in Indonesia so that's why I love Bakpao in my home country. One big pork Bao in this stall in Selat Panjang cost 9k IDR.

PANGSIT MIE MEDAN

One of the local dishes that I was dying to try in Medan was Pangsit Mie Medan. My brother convinced me that I should not worry about finding this noodle dish in town because they are everywhere. The one we had was from a noodle restaurant in Cemara Asri.

Pangsit Mie Medan.

Pangsit Mie Medan was served with tasty minced meat, blanched bean sprouts and mustard plus a bowl of fish ball soup.

Shamelessly posing in front of the Pangsit Mie restaurant.

The difference of Pangsit Mie Medan with Pangsit Mie I know in East Java is that the minced meat in Pangsit Mie in Medan is braised in dark soy sauce while the one in Java is not, hence the minced chicken meat usually is white. Also, Pangsit Mie in Java doesn't come with blanched bean sprouts and fish ball soup - just blanched mustard and meat ball soup.

Mie Kam Pak Cemara Asri
Address: Kompleks Cemara Asri, Jalan Bahagia no. 8A, Medan

PECAL MEDAN

Once I asked my brother if Medan also sells the food that we usually eat back home like Pecel (traditional Javanese salad in peanut sauce), Nasi Campur, etc. He said no but there was a place selling Pecel or locally known as Pecal. However, he did alert me that the Pecal style here is different from what we have in Java. The Pecal in Medan is served with fried noodle or beehon instead of steamed white rice.

It was Sunday when we were around the Cemara area. After we ate the Pangsit Mie Medan, my brother drove us to a crowded spot in Cemara, just next to the pond with the storks, which sells lots of street food, Pecal included.

Examining the pecal serving in Medan.

The Pecal that my brother ordered for me just consisted of blanched vegetables in peanut sauce with a fried tempe as I requested. For himself, he ordered fried noodles and lots of deep fried stuff in peanut sauce.

Vegetable Pecal in Medan.

I felt that the peanut sauce of Pecal in Medan was a bit bitter - or maybe I happened to bite a bitter vegetable that time. But one thing for sure, the peanut sauce set my mouth on huge fire after just one bite. This Pecal was crazy fiery. My nose and eyes got incredibly teary while I tried to munch more of this Pecal. My brother thought I was crazy because he felt that the peanut sauce was just mildly spicy. I corrected him that my ability to eat spicy food had toned down a lot since I came to Malaysia. In the end, my brother finished my vegetable Pecal as my husband didn't want to eat it either. 

MACEHAT COFFEE

That Sunday afternoon, after we checked some tourist attraction spots in town - my husband suggested us to find a place for coffee, if possible a cafe with local touch. My brother's girlfriend fulfilled this request and brought us to a popular local coffee shop in town, Macehat Coffee. Macehat Coffee is not located by a big street but when I entered its cramped premise, I was quite amazed. This place was extremely crowded. We had to stand up queueing for a table for four for 30 minutes or so.

Us in Macehat Coffee.

Once we managed to get a table, we placed our orders. My brother and his girlfriend mentioned that usually people order their Avocado Coffee Float and Kopi Luwak in this cafe. Just like what my brother and his girlfriend ordered, my husband also decided to try the Avocado Coffee Float.

 The must -try Avocado Coffee Float.

I am not a coffee drinker so I settled for a hot chocolate instead.

Hot chocolate.

We also ordered some of their Risoles and French Fries for our afternoon snack. My brother said this cafe's Risoles was good and he was right. Macehat Risoles has Mustard filling and not many restaurants or bakeries in Indonesia sell something like this. A portion of 3 Risoles like below cost 22k IDR.

Macehat Mustard Risoles - Gone in 5 minutes.

Here's Naomi hanging out with her Uncle. She loved playing the toys that the cafe provided and later on, she refused to return them. As expected, we had to deal with one major meltdown from this little critter as we left the cafe.

Naomi and her handsome uncle.

Macehat Coffee
Address: Jalan Karo no. 20, Medan
Phone: +62 61 452 9944

SOTO MEDAN

On our last day in Medan, we could only try one more local food before we headed to the airport. For our final lunch in this city, my brother let us try Soto Medan.

Our glorious Soto lunch spread.

Soto Medan is quite different from our clear soup Soto in East Java because the soup in Medan is infused with coconut milk while our Soto in East Java is not. In addition, just like in Java, Soto Medan comes in two varieties: Beef and Chicken.

Soto Medan with Beef.

I tried both but felt that the one with Chicken slices was better somehow.

 Soto Medan with Chicken.

Trained to eat Indonesian food as soon as she was legal to eat rice, Naomi cleaned her Soto plate until no single grain of rice left. I guess she loves Soto Medan too. Actually, all of us really enjoyed Soto Medan; otherwise we would not have asked for extra rice, would we?

Remember this restaurant for nice Soto Medan, ok!

RM. Nasi Soto Medan
Address: Jalan Gatot Subroto, Medan

BOLU MERANTI

When visiting Medan, it's almost a norm for tourists to bring back the super famous roll cakes from Medan - Bolu Meranti.

Menu in Bolu Meranti shop.

Bolu Meranti shop was so damn crowded with buyers but the service was very fast. Basically what people do when they enter the shop are as follows:
  1. Look at the huge menu board, swiftly browse all the menu, choose the cakes you want to buy and get the receipt.
  2. Pass the receipt to the cashier counter next to the ordering counter. Pay for your cakes and get a number to get the cakes.
  3. Wait for your cakes to be handed to you when your number is called.
  4. Go back to your car.

I bought Mocca Roll Cake with Cheese topping and Bika Ambon to bring back to Malaysia. I think the Roll Cake tasted just like normal roll cake - I don't know why the roll cakes from this particular shop are extremely popular. How come?

Pardon the bad lighting.

The Bika Ambon or Indonesian Honey Comb Cake was very nice but oddly greasy. Too much margarine, eh?

Bika Ambon Meranti.

Bolu Meranti
Address: Jalan Kruing no. 2A Medan

This Bolu Meranti review ends the sharing of my culinary trip in Medan over the weekend. Thanks to my brother and his girlfriend, I think we managed to cover a good part of our what-to-eat-in-Medan list albeit our failure in trying some iconic foods in town such as authentic Nasi Padang, Durian Ucok and many more (mainly because of our time limitation and the fact that my husband and I had sore throat when we were in Medan) - but there is still next time!