Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Land at Johor Bahru - Of Chocolate Ice Kachangs and Nasi Lemaks and Rojaks

In life, if we can get to do one thing really well, we would be very fortunate. If we can even do 2, it's a blessing. But to accomplish 3 is a near miracle.

And that was probably what we witnessed in JB at this delightful little cafe that is so aptly named Happy Land.

It primarily sells an assortment of ice kachangs, but to supplement this popular Asian dessert, they also provide rojak and nasi lemak for the diners that patronize this eatery.

And what a discovery this was. In Singapore, if we can even get one of this done right, I will be a happy man. All I can say is here, I was a happy man in a happy land.

Atap Chee Ice Kachang

Just check out the generous portions of atap chees and that luscious coating of creamy red beans over the ice shavings. That immaculate finishing on this bowl of ice kachang displayed real finesse for such a simple dish. As well as care and attention.

The ice shavings themselves were very fine. And thanks to the info machinery of Bonding Tool, I now know that the reason why certain places have finer shavings than others is due to how fast the ice is actually frozen before it is used. The faster it is frozen, the finer it will come out. Learn something new everyday.

Chocolate Ice Kachang

JK had the devilish looking chocolate kachang, and boy did it look inviting! The ganache like chocolate was actually even a bit warm, giving it a comforting look and taste to the dish. Drizzled with crushed nuts, the different textures gave the palate such a pop and delight, bursting with childhood giddiness.

If there is any lesson to be extrapolated here, it is that if Singaporeans can take more effort to do something simple, the results can be so drastically improved that even if you are selling the same thing as your neighbor, you can come out looking so much superior. If only.

Rojak

My wife was barking into my ear when I came home to tell her how good this rojak was, and you never not do a takeaway for your better half if that happens to be one of her favorites. I was lucky I was not forced out on the couch that night, whew.

Oh yes, the rojak. I think I spent more time admiring at the visuals of it than actually digging into it. I mean, just the way they plated it as opposed to just dumping everything onto the plate already had my admiration.

The (hei gou/prawn paste/google if you still don't know what prawn paste means) was flavorful yet not overpowering. None of that strong shrimp kick, nor was it overly sweet. The color had a beautiful, almost golden caramelized look to it. Heck, I don't think I can describe it any better, so I won't.

Nasi Lemak

And finally, my personal fav of the day. This incredible plate of Nasi Lemak. Again, that attentive care to plating. Adorning all 4 corners of tha plate were the essential components of fried chicken, egg, sambal and nuts. All surrounding the coconut rice as if it was an impending invasion.

And invaded my taste buds they did! My palate surrendered without a fight, for how I could I resist that amazingly flavored rice. The coconut flavor was so rich and abundant that it only took me 1 mouthful to give over my culinary sovereignty to it.

The deep fried chicken looked so golden without nary a hint of burnt bits. Biting into it, I was almost stunned to find that it had the taste and texture and succulence of a well roasted chicken. It was so good we ordered another thigh just to convince ourselves that the first was not a fluke. And it wasn't.

It disappoints me these days to find in Singapore, even from the so-called popular lemak places that they do not make their own sambal chilli anymore. Here in triply Happy Land, they were literally making it in front of our eyes, cutting the red onions even as we were chomping down the good stuff.

And what a difference it makes. Bright red in color and generously infused with the onion strips, the chilli was so robust and flavorful that it cut through the spiciness as quickly as you can say the word hot. What a way to finish our time here.

It was such a pleasant visit. If you are ever near Kulai in JB, this is one place that I definitely recommend you to check it out. Even if you only like one thing here, you will not drive away disappointed.

If anything, I think you will find a hat trick of joy here. Happy Land? Elated is more like it.

Happy Land Cafe
1-38 Jalan Pinang
Taman Kota Kulai 

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