QQ Foods: From Bubble Tea To Oodles Of Noodles
Bubble Milk Tea
Equal parts drink and dessert, bubble milk tea (aka bubble tea, pearl milk tea, or boba) was invented in Taiwan, hence the number of imports from the island formerly known as Ilha Formosa. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more opinionated bunch than fans of the beverage, who will bend your ear about which brand is best and whose tapioca pearls are above the rest.
Specialists that have gone viral include Koi Thé (boasts of its golden bubbles), Xin Fu Tang (synonymous with 'stir-fried' tapioca balls), Tiger Sugar (streaks of brown sugar in each cup are said to resemble a tiger's stripes) and The Alley (takes pride in their handmade 'deerioca' pearls).
QQ desserts are all the rage in Taiwan — a love that has spread across the globe with the advent of social media. Colourful tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) and taro balls are coveted for their cosmetic appeal and the social event of sharing a meal (with real or digital friends).
Landing on our shores in 2009, Snowflake has long set the standard for QQ dessert balls; flavours range from the traditional (taro) to the modern (matcha or sesame).
But our loyalty lies with newcomer and homegrown brand Chewie Mellow. Be prepared for a bit of tug of war if sampling the signature milky mochi - things will get sticky!
Although we have different adjectives from country to country, a love of springy noodles is universal. Dumplings juggernaut Din Tai Fung might be synonymous with xiao long bao, but don't eschew their la mian and wonton noodles; each strand contains just the right amount of bite and yield. In Italy this would be called al dente; the term in Taiwan is QQ.
Where Japanese noodles are concerned, Sanuki Udon is a favourite among residents of Taman Desa. Goku Raku Ramen, on the other hand, comes highly recommended by Japanese expatriates.
As for the cult noodles known as chili pan mee, important components include chili paste, crunchy anchovies, runny yolk, and chewy strands or squares of dough. Restoran Kin Kin, whose owners claim to have invented the dish in 1985, still uses hand-torn noodles to this day.
Flavourful and fun to eat, fishballs are among the first foods that many a Malaysian discovers in infancy. We could spend weeks documenting the best fish ball stalls in the country, but for starters, swing by Kedai Makanan Jin Man, a decades-old kopitiam in Taman Mutiara Barat. Each and every fishball is lovingly shaped by hand, hence the charming irregularities.
Kedai Makan Teow Chew in Damansara Jaya also gets our vote for QQ fishballs and fishcakes. Cosy and air-conditioned, the Chinese coffeeshop offers a quintessantal take on the ultimate comfort food.