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AS we count the days to end the year, here is a recap of my highlights on some really decent makan places in the Klang Valley.

But before I begin, I would like to thank all readers for their support and the team who were involved in putting together the Food Trail book which was launched by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen on Nov 27.

The 160-page book is a compilation of my published work which appeared every Thursday from 2008 to 2011.

To sum it up, 2012 has also been an interesting year.

Why? Because I used my little bicycle to explore some makan places around Selangor instead of taking the usual weekend drive.

I will continue to do so as my small contribution to the environment.

Okay, to wrap up this week’s Food Trail, here’s ‘Samo’s top five makan discoveries of 2012’.

SAMO’S TOP FIVE MAKAN DISCOVERIES 2012

785D519540894DA8B3ACF1CD0B6B12F6Full score: This is one of the best black char koay teow the writer has tasted in Klang so far.

MELAWIS CHAR KOAY TEOW — (GPS N 03 02.618, E 101 26.167)

This is perhaps one of the most controversial pieces I have ever written about a small shop selling Char Koay Teow in Taman Melawis in Klang, Selangor.

I first heard about it from my colleague Frederick Fernandez. Then, another colleague Rajeswari Kandiah confirmed the shop actually existed.

It took me a while to locate it after a trip to Klang via the Kesas Highway from Subang Jaya.

When I found it, I gave it 10 out of 10 on the Samo-scale.

There were some mixed reactions from the public, some were positive while a few readers actually slammed me for raising the bar in rating the makan place.

But I stood my ground. I gave this place the recognition it deserved for being one of the few remaining outlets selling Char Koay Teow fried in black soya sauce.

We can be proud of the fact that the food is prepared by a Malaysian.

2AC1E15D8ED94BC289F6C952C25FB32BUnique flavour: The cockle char koay teow at lot247D in Tanjung Sepat, Selangor.

LOT 247D CHAR KOAY TEOW, TANJUNG SEPAT ­— (GPS N 02 39.675, E 101 33.563)

My wife, Michelle and I took a bicycle tour from our home in USJ 26, Subang Jaya to Tanjung Sepat. The return journey was roughly about 150km.

We saw some really interesting sights by taking the inner country roads that took us from Puchong to Kampung Lombong, Jenjarom, Banting, Morib and Batu Laut.

The highlight of our stay in Tanjung Sepat town was the discovery of two Char Koay Teow stalls in town.

One of them, at Lot 247D, had aroused our curiosity.

The coffee shop where this stall is located also serves Vietnamese coffee. We wasted no time in ordering a chilled glass and a plate of Char Koay Teow.

Now, what blew me away was the freshness of the cockles that were used to garnish the fried noodles.

For the fabulous taste and flavour and value for money (RM3.50 per plate), I gave this stall a 9 out of 10 on the Samo-scale.

086B0519EC0D4856AD8FF37E1C63B22EYummy prawns: Large prawns like these are the main draw at the Mee Udang outlet in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur.

MAK JAH MEE UDANG, WANGSA MAJU (GPS N 03 11.832, E 101 44.428)

I am not a big fan of prawns. But a trip to Mak Jah Mee Udang in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur had convinced me to give these tasty crustaceans a try.

And it turned out to be okay.

My regular makan kaki Zakri ‘Billy’ Baharuddin and his family confirmed this.

At RM12 a bowl, the Mee Udang Special, was a knock-out deal! You get six large prawns that are fresh and crunchy and I must say that the fare lived up to my expectations.

The shop in Wangsa Maju is actually the namesake of its owner who operates in Kuala Sepetang, Perak (this town was formerly known as Port Weld) which is about 20-minute drive from Taiping.

A0CEB7CB95934ABCB0D4669776AAF5A2Take your pick: A customer choosing his choice fish at Restoran Mimpi Muor.

RESTORAN MIMPI MUOR, MUTIARA DAMANSARA, SELANGOR (GPS N 03 09.566, E 101 36.156)

Back in my reporting days, I was based in Malacca where asam pedas became a regular dish when I ate out.

Since I came back to the Klang Valley, very few makan places can produce such an authentic dish.

When got married, I learnt from my wife, who is from Muar, Johor, that asam pedas was among the town’s famous dishes.

Fate works in mysterious ways as I was reunited with the asam pedas when Nasurudin Aidid, a mutual friend of mine and my makan kaki Zakri ‘Billy’ Baharuddin showed the way to Restoran Mimpi Muor in Mutiara Damansara.

Nasurudin treated us to the house dish: Asam Pedas Ikan Jenahak which I rated at 7 out of 10 on the Samo-scale.

This came up to RM13 a piece (sold according to market price) and he also treated us to a plate of ikan pari (stingray) that was as good as the Jenahak.

Later, I was told that the owner, who is from Muar, has a family business in his hometown and his father would do some serious quality control before the kuah Asam Pedas is served to their customers.

779E4CC126C647B3939256CFE97E3F21As good as it gets: The satay treat at Satay Retro.

SATAY RETRO, USJ 7 FOOD COURT SUBANG JAYA (N 03 02.863, E 101 35.579)

It is hard to find satay stalls that serve ketupat these days.

My search for this tasty rice delicacy led me to a stall at the USJ 7 food court.

Right at the end of the row stood a middle-aged man roasting sticks of satay.

The fare was good, with my favourite satay kambing sold at RM1.60 and the highly-recommended satay perut at RM1.

The biggest score at this stall was the authentic ketupat at 60 sen a piece.

What I like about the satay here is its excellent taste and the friendly people who serve them.

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