Near Death, 36 Hours in Pavilion Mall KLCC, Malaysia… and An Announcement!

Date: October 24 2013

4 sticks of satay chicken on a bed of tomato fried rice, 1 bread roll, some salad and a slice of orange cake on board MAS from SiBoo to Kuala Lumpur… could this possibly be my last meal? And if it was, at least I have tried the Malay tomato fried rice before I perished! ūüėČ

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MAS: Inflight Lunch

Perished? Err… excuse me?

Let’s keep this hush-hush between you and I OK? I posted my flight’s near-collision on my FB whereby my friend immediately commented that this piece of info is considered ‘OSA’ in Malaysia and anyone leaking this info will face up to RM1 Million or 1-year mandatory imprisonment or both!

What the heck is OSA? According to Wiki, OSA is short for The Official Secrets Act 1972 (Act 88), a Malaysian statute prohibiting the dissemination of information classified as an official secret. The legislation is based on the Official Secrets Acts of the United Kingdom. Apparently, a blogger has been held under the draconian Official Secret Acts (here) because of his comments on the Sultan of Johor. Well then, since it was announced by the pilot onboard with 100-odd passengers, if the OSA does indeed operates, then we are all going to be arrested!

Back to the near-collision story, our plane was on approach to land in KLIA, when another bigger plane trespassed into our path. We had to make a sudden acceleration to go back up into air, spending a good 10 minutes of circling before we made finally it down to land (all-in-all, the flight to KL took nearly 5 hours, taking into account the hour-long delay in SiBoo). Anyway, I saw a nice seaside resort very similar to the plan of Dubai Palm Jumeirah’s land reclamation – if anyone knows the name of the resort, do enlighten me.

*****

After refreshing and unpacking – and feeling rather knackered, I decided to go for an early dinner @ La Boca which I had been before (here).

In anticipation of my Inca Trail next year, an induction into Peruvian food is a must. First up, the ubiquitous pisco sour. Sweet, tangy, punchy and deceivingly alcoholic, this lemonade made with egg white made me go: “Hit me Baby, one more time!”

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Pisco Sour

Since there were 3 of us, we ordered Fajitas La Boca to share. It looked exactly like in the menu. There is an option for beef, lamb, chicken or mushrooms (vegetarian). We opted for mushrooms. In hindsight we should have asked for the other meat options because the mushrooms with lots of onions and capsicums were oily and not very filling.

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Picture menu

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Fajita (with a side of 4 tortillas wraps, not pictured)

My main was Peruvian Salmon Ceviche. The salmon was not raw as I had expected, it had been lightly seared and mixed with bits of corn kernels, onions, tomatoes, avocado and capsicum. It tasted alright, although I didn’t bother with the accompaniment of the tough cassava chips.

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Peruvian Salmon Ceviche: Topped with rockets, tough cassava chips drizzled in pesto oil

My dining companion #1 had his usual: Steak, chips and salad, which he finished with a gusto.

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Steak, chips and salad

My dinner companion #2 had Seafood curry. It was a HUGE with pan-fried salmon attoped with 4 pieces of prawns, 2 huge wedges of pumpkins and rice. The curry was rather Malaysian, although I have no idea what Latino curries tasted like – I will find out in April 2014!

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Seafood curry

*****

To round off our meal, we headed to Meet Fresh, a Taiwanese franchise renowned for desserts on Level 6.

Dining companion #1, being the healthy one opted for Mung bean, Lotus Seed and Tofu pudding.

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Mung bean, Lotus Seed and Tofu pudding (RM6.50)

Dining companion #2 had the new Super Mango Shaved Ice which is lots of defrosted mango pieces on top of a bed of shaved iced soaked in mango juice and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

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Super Mango Shaved Ice (RM9.80)

Me, being me, went for Meet Fresh Special Herb Jelly – because I loved the combination of chewy taro balls, yam balls and melt-in-my mouth herbal jelly. I even requested for a scoop of Taro Ice-cream to send me to sweet-sweet lullaby!

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Meet Fresh Special Herb Jelly (RM6.90) + Taro Ice-cream (RM2)

*****

Breakfast meeting the next morning @ Pressroom Bistro which is at The Connection, outside the mall.

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Croissant + Flat White (RM14++)

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Menu

*****

Lunch @ Ippudo. Surprisingly, the noodles have improved since my last visit here.

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Shiromaru Motoaji + Onsen Tamago

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Akamaru Shinaji

Met for Coffee @ Ben’s which I had been to before (here). The Iced Black Coffee was very weak, I prefered Dr. Mahatir’s version (here) with -60C ice-cubes!

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Weak, weak Iced Black Coffee… yuck, yuck, yuck!

*****

Upon entering the Madam Kwan’s (at the Basement of Pavilion Mall KLCC) for dinner, a quirky lady in a hat came to greet us and directed us to our table. Madam Kwan looked very much the caricature in her menu, a woman in her 70s, she is almost a fixture at her restaurant. Myself and one other decided to order 2 dishes to share.

Can you believe that I have never tried Otak Otak? I saw an episode on Asian Food Channel (AFC), presented in Mandarin by a chap called ‘Ah Sien’, who travels around Malaysia and Singapore in search of the perfect Malaysian street food. In one particular episode he talked about Otak Otak, his description of this street food made it sound impossibly delicious and got me interested. This is a spicy fish paste wrapped in banana leaf. Hmm… as a chili padi enthusiast, I have to say this one is overly spicy for me and thank goodness for the side of cucumber! The Char Kway Teow was pretty ordinary fare.

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Char Kway Teow $18.90

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Otak Otak $19.90

There, there, 36-hours stay-over in Pavilion KLCC, carb-ladden by meals with hidden sugars, no wonder I felt very bloated and very yucky… whew, at least my clothes still fits!

As I took my early flight back to the Land of Oz the next morning, I did a bit of contemplation and decided that my current sedentary lifestyle and the choice of food are not doing me any good. I am flabby, sluggish, achy and tired all the time. Even though I take time out to run at least 2-3 times a week, the unbearable heat makes me exhausted even before I start my run. Grr… running is not cutting it, I need to lift weights. So the picture below is my ‘final’ – fingers-crossed –carb-ladden meal before I embark on my 3-month Body transformation on November 1.

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Inflight Brunch KL-Sydney: Fruit salad, Main (Omelette with chicken sausage, spicy potato wedges, mushrooms, tomato and sweet peas, Orange cake, croissant, muesli bar, snickers bar, tea, red wine, 1 mini magnum).

So here’s THE announcement, in additional to my normal restaurant/food reviews and travels, I shall be blogging about my ‘transformation’ aka how I’m gonna get my groove back every Monday – starting next week! I will be documenting my food journal for the past week and the exercises I’m doing. A bit of a challenge, as you shall soon see as I love food and wine a teeny-weeny bit too much!

I’m excited now, hope you are too! See you around! ūüėė

Mini Egg Custard Moon Cakes @ The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

Right when I thought I’ve eaten enough moon cakes for the year, another box arrived for me today.

This sturdy brown decagonal box had flown all the way into Borneo from The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, just in time for the Mid-Autumn festival tonight! Much to the chagrin of my waist, my lips were etched into a grin as wide as The Cheshire Cat’s with my tastebuds leaping for joy! How could I reject these tiny babes from the much lauded bakery?

No, No, No! Diet will have to wait another day…

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The Peninsula Hotel’s Mini Egg Custard Mooncakes

Inside the decagon box are 2 layers of 4 mini moon cakes on plastic trays. Alas! They didn’t travel well…

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Minis on plastic tray

Broken pastry. *face-palm*

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Squashed mini resting in my palm

Tiny at only 40 grams, these broken babies still packed a punch!

Stop!

Don’t tell me these angelic babies in soft buttery pastry shells have the caloric value equivalent of one bowl of rice!

Hush! Ssshh… Don’t make me feel guilty by colluding my mind!

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Total Disintegration

I normally cut my moon cakes into eighths to share but seeing this moon cake is SO tiny, I went for the whole hog. And boy-oh-boy! This is one mean, rich, mini baby moon cake, I felt so stuffed after eating it. Taste-wise, it was delectably sweet custard with a tinge of the salted duck egg yolk, made from rich butter, coconut milk, eggs and condensed milk among the listed sinful ingredients on the packaging.

And how do we celebrate Mid-Autumn festival in the Boo, you ask? Well, we knocked off an hour early today, and besides that, I have nothing planned… I will need my ear-plugs because the neighbourhood will be erupting into fire-works late into the night… driving me bonkers and keeping me awake…

So I am definitely missing the spectacular Tai Hang Fire-dragon Dance in Hong Kong tonight. This is a festival that started all the way back in 1880 when Tai Hang was still a tiny Hakka fishing village near where Causeway Bay is now. I am also reminiscing the good old times when I had the privilege of being the first female dragon dancers in the troupe of over 300 performers by holding the pole which held the 67m long dragon made of 72,000 incense sticks. We were tasked to make the dragon come alive by waving and running with it. It was tough, the pole was heavy but a job well done! And I got a spot on TV! 5-second stardom! *sigh*

How does the Tai Hang Fire- Dragon Dance came about? I hear you ask.

Well, according to folklore, a few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival over a century ago, a typhoon, then a plague wreaked havoc on the village. While the villagers were repairing the damage, a python entered the village and ate all their livestock. Enough was enough, the villagers consulted a soothsayer who decreed that the only way to stop the chaos was to stage a fire dance for three days and nights during the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival. The villagers thus made a huge dragon of straw and covered it with incense sticks, which they then lit. Accompanied by drummers and erupting firecrackers, they danced for three days and three nights ‚Äď and the plague disappeared.

If you are in Hong Kong (tonight or tomorrow night), do make an effort to see it. This smokey vibrant affair is China’s third national list of intangible cultural heritage!

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Fire Dragon in Tai Hang.
(Source: HK Tourist Association)

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival Everyone! xx

Steamed Rice Moon Cakes @ Sibu, Malaysia

4 more sleeps to the moon cake finale this Thursday night.  Hungry for more moon cakes but dreading the calories?

With a bit of creativity one can transform the unhealthy sweet guilty treats into something healthy.  What about steamed moon cakes that I got for tea today?

Steamed moon cake made from grounded rice and sesame  encasing the  yellow-peas paste (with possibly some cream cheese).

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Rice + Sesame Steamed Moon Cake Sibu-Style

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X-section

The rice and sesame layer is dry and crumbly as can be seen from the picture above.  Taste-wise, it is bland.  But for those on a diet and do not want to miss out, this will prove a saviour for this mid-autumn fest!  Ta-ta!

The Purist Ponders @ The Baker’s Cottage Mooncakes 2013, Malaysia

In the corporate culture of guanxi or relationship-building in China, the innocent moon cake stuffed with lotus seed paste and salted egg yolks is the latest casualty in stamping out corruption. ¬†The sweet bystander is used as the kingpin by including ‘vices’ such as expensive wines, teas, and even cash to¬†impress business associates to pave smooth business transactions. (Read the headline news from CNN here). ¬†

I bet my bottom dollar, the ancients from the 10th Century China will have a fitting rage in their graves if they receive knowledge the cultural significance of  celebrating the autumnal equinox with families and kins by exchanging moon cakes has been degraded in the 21st century as graft!

Even the legal eagles have wrote an article ‘When is moon cake a bribe?‘ to advise their clients. It is an interesting read on business ethics in Asia.

So, ¬†let’s hope the ancients are kept in the dark. We just came out of the Ghost Festivals… no spooking me here with the bumps in the middle of the night, ‘yo!

After saying all that, I got gifted a box of mooncakes the other day.   Since each moon cake costs nearly 400 calories, what better way to enjoy than to share with friends Рand putting our heads together playing moon cakes connoisseurs? Here are our tasting notes.

The packaging was attractive with 2D wheels-of-fortunes.

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Peach Lychee Symphony:  
Appearance: Orangey-pink in colour. Very pretty with a bunny embossed on the snow skin
Scent: Fragrant with artificial scent of lychee/ peach
Taste: Too artificial and overly sweet. The paste is smooth except for the chewy red bean bits in the lotus paste layer enveloping the milk-powdery artificial lychee-peach mung beans in the center.
Verdict:  Artificiality is not for the purists

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Peach Lychee Symphony:
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Peach Lychee Symphony: X-section

Avocado Mango Tango
Appearance:  Green with bamboo embossing
Scent: Palm oil/ margarine smell
Taste: Lotus seed paste with seeds enveloping mung bean flavoured in mango essence.
Verdict:  Not for the purist either.  I did not like this. Avocado is a malleable ingredient, akin to butter except it is healthier.  However loses any fragrance or character when blended with other ingredients, therefore I old not detect any hint of its existence. Mango flavoured mung beans is a first for me.

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Avocado Mango Tango

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Avocado Mango Tango: X-section

Caramel Butterscotch Sensation
Appearance: Brown with embossed flower decorations
Scent: Aromatic, strong milky coffee
Taste: Coffee with lotus paste enveloping a salty caramel filling
Verdict:  Acceptable

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Caramel Butterscotch Sensation

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Caramel Butterscotch Sensation: X-section

Supreme Manju
Appearance: Baked pastry topped with a pecan nut half
Scent: Of freshly baked pastry
Taste: Lotus seed paste with melon seeds. The salted yolk very good, moist and orange in colour.
Verdict: This is my favourite among the 4 in the box. The authentic taste is more acceptable to my traditional palate.

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Supreme Manju

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Supreme Manju: X-section

I found out later on my trip to a local bakery in town that it is selling for RM18.50 a piece which is very expensive. Despite a write-up describing the different kinds of nuts and dried fruits used in their moon cakes, I could only taste the derivatives in the form of fruit essences. Nevertheless I like the rhyming names given to the mooncakes and the cute embossings.

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To burn the unnecessary calories, I suggest watching ‘Unbeatable’, a Cantonese MMA action movie for a spot of Crossfit inspiration. Trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ny2Rac_JsY Flipping tyres and making waves with cable ropes is sure-fire to zap off fat in no time (Cheung Kar Fai, transformed his skinny raffian frame to that of a Champ in 6 months!) Come on, waste no time, bear crawl to the gym now, you!

How Meetings Are Conducted in The Boo

Meetings are the serious side of  business Рand becoming almost fun in The Boo and a source of entertainment second to watching bootleg DVDs easily sourced from the local mall.

Now, anyone who has ever participated in group projects will know that a meeting is a platform to put forward issues to be discussed, sorted, reviewed, assessed or negotiated. ¬†Most importantly, meetings help to improve communication channels and the information gathering process in order to ‘seal the deal’.

Suffice to say, I am made to endure monthly meetings in The Boo which tangent off the norm whereby the person calling the meetings works on his own personal vendetta in maliciously discrediting another member without the knowledge of business operation nor management, much less in bringing about a constructive and productive end-result, in the end, he achieved nothing other than making a fool of himself and wasting people’s time. This cycle (meetings – we have at least 10 in 1 day! ¬†Go figure!) repeats every month timed to his sibling’s return from overseas.

Of course a lot of groundwork has to be done beforehand, that in gaining support of the other free-loading members, ¬† Untruths are easy to dispell and accepted when benefits are involved. It is the conscience that has to be overcame,that’s when Lord Almighty comes in, “Our Father who art in Heaven, I come visit every Sunday”, and thus let meself be known as good-standin’ Christian. Heck! Ain’t know how tah read dah Bible ‘tho! No probs bro, just show dah face up! And thus, a town of sinners redeemed by the numerous Churches of different secs came. ¬†(Yeah, I see a Church to the left and out ¬†to the right of my apartment window)

As always and without fail, meetings has to be kicked off by the self-crowned Chairman-cum-MD (was cum Company Secretary as well before the legal eagles said “no can do”) for quorum. Torture then proceeds with his reading from the agenda. His oft side-kick aka his son aka drop-kick will thus read from his own set of script prepared by solicitors (paid no less from the Company’s coffers) and duly responded by the father by reading from his own set of scripts! ¬†Back-and-forth and back-and-froth, seriously dudes your show/ duo-logue is bad – neither convincing nor deserving of the fudly TV – rewind and repeat, I doze off and can even repeat your lines. And why can’t you?

So Friday was one of those days, my first meeting started at 8:45am. ¬†The only misnomer was that I had been kept awake by the annoying neighbourhood mutt which could not stop barking from 2am and was still going on when I left home at 7am. Tired and irritable, the fun of seeing people putting on a monkey-show reading from prepared scripts is wearing thin. ¬†To break the monotony, I asked some questions, they can’t answer, irritated, they proceeded to raise their voice, then toned down when they realise they are losing their cool. ¬† The indignant me asked some more questions and you see their faces darken. ¬†Anyway, not in the mood to bicker, I have more important thing to do, say, “Toodle-doo, am ducking home Down-under. ¬†Got a flight to catch. ¬†See ya later, ta-tah!” . ¬†I see their faces drop in disappointment, “What?”. ¬†Sorry, dudes, I know you have prepped for 2 nights, judging from your Panda-eyes, but you can repeat your performance 6 more times yourselves – just tape record it and sent me the minutes, no? . ¬†I pray that the chills awaits as I have a brand new Christopher Kane fur jacket mom bought for me hanging in my wardrobe.

With plenty of time, I swung by Sing Mee Kee Coffee Shop for the famous ‘Soon Kai’s Kampua’, named after a politician by his cronies because that was the kampua (dry tossed noodles) stall he often frequented. Much like tbe expired politician facing his twilight years battling Parkinson, this ordinary plate of tossed noodles in MSG and oil/ lard¬†is cold, tasteless and unmemorable if not for its namesake.

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Kampua, dry tossed noodles traditionally in lard that Sibu is famous for

Much flavoursome and memorable was my inflight meal from Sibu to Kuala Lumpur. A Chicken Korma in thick peanut gravy, pickled vegetables and Biryani rice served piping hot. The sweet beef vermiceli was delicious, ate the marashino cherry but better leave the old-school Black Forest cake with mock cream untouched.

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MAS Inflight Meal from Sibu to KL

[Disclaimer: ¬†Under the influence of a cheap Champers in the Kris Lounge, Changi Airport, I wrote this post on a strictly without prejudice basis whilst awaiting for my flight home to Sydney tonight. ¬†So see yu later alligators, when I’m back in Sy-der-ney!]

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My ride – SilkAir from KL to Singapore today

Of Office Politics and A Trip to Bintangor

Date:  June 15 2013

Weekends in The Boo makes me realise how much I love to be at work. ¬†There is hardly anything interesting to do nor malls to go. ¬†The TV series and movies on Astro TV Channels are uninteresting and can be made into historical docos, yet they have them on repeat. ¬†¬†I can’t do any outdoor activities due to the heat and haze. ¬†With the rice-planting season coming next month, the farmers are preparing their land by burning the soil. ¬†Burning has the effect of disinfecting the land while also acting as a natural fertiliser.

Today, I went on a road-trip to Bintangor which is about 45mins away. ¬†All the bumping, rattling and shaking tired me out so I took a nap before my planned run in the evening.¬† Anyway, I got woken up by an email from the office at 4pm (on a Saturday arvo!! ¬†Some serious OT here…), so I had to draft a reply to the retarded email from a director of the company. ¬†He is also a ‘Datuk Pemanca’, that is ‘Justice of Peace’ or some sort of ¬†leader in the Chinese Community in The Boo. ¬†Let’s check out how retarded he is… Here are some of the highlights…

  1. Reading from prepared scripts (in English) in his thick Foochow accent, peppered with pompous, big, unpronouceable English words  Рkinda funny trying to catch what he is saying and ask him to repeat;
  2. Reading from well-rehearsed and co-ordinated dialogues together with his accomplices  Рtotally like clowns putting on a monkey show, I totally dig that!  
  3. Retarded protocols such as telling a director and a shareholder of the company to meet the CFO of the company (who the hell is the CFO? ¬†What is his name?) in the CFO’s office – Honestly dude, you got the hierarchy wrong. ¬†Shareholder pays CFO’s salary, so CFO meets with Shareholder at the time of her convenience and on her terms!¬†
  4. Telling the Board of Directors that the Chairman and MD only do PR works, go to government and BOD meetings and NOT management meetings because he only reads Management Reports? ¬†– Hell, aren’t you suppose to ‘manage’ the company. ¬†Are you telling me, the MD only manages Directors?
  5. Shareholders and Directors are not allowed priviledged info – Hang on, Shareholders and Directors are to be kept in the dark without any knowledge of what their company is doing???

Hell! ¬†Now you know what I mean, why I LOVE being at work in the office, lots of correspondences to write, tap, tap, tap, tapping on my keyboard and watching bad sketches. ¬†An encounter with ¬†tyrants/ retards/ idiots/ wankers…is FUN and really livens up the otherwise Boo-hoo-hoo Boo Town!

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Yes, I have digressed. ¬†My trip to Bintangor… Can you imagine a bridge toll of RM5 per trip? ¬†The trip is less than 1km long! ¬†Penang Bridge costs less! ¬†Who was the MP with the bad Elvis Presley ¬†permed hair-do living in the ivory tower who approved that? ¬†Let’s get the fact straight – RM10 per round trip is big money in The Boo. ¬†Going by the kompia index, a bag of kompia, or Foochow bagels costs RM1 for 4 pieces and they are really filling…go figure!

So, the highlight of Bintangor is Bintangor Rojak from the famous No.7 Stall Wong Hung Ping at the Muslim food court. ¬†This stall has been mentioned in newspapers as the selling the ‘Best rojak in Sarawak’! ¬†A newspaper report is here

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Rojak:  A plate of pineapples, cucumber, pumpkins, Chinese gourd, deep-fried tofu and Chinese fried dough in sweet pungent caramelised fish sauce.  I especiallu liked the roasted peanut bits on top which gave the dish a wonderful aroma.  It is also very sweet.
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Fresh Coconut Water:  At RM3, very expensive.  This is old coconut, so the water is sweeter, with thicker,harder and creamier flesh

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Bintangor Oranges:  Sweet juicy oranges in green skins.  The size of grapefruits

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Bintangor Mandarins:  Sweet juicy mandarins in green skins.  The size of mandarins
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Read more on Bintangor here: