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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Making Muffins

"Wanna make muffins?"

Well, I haven't any idea how to make muffins from scratch. The only time I've ever tried to make muffins were when I used a pre-mix flour. A cheat's version. So Mom thought she'd teach me. I insisted on making a banana, walnut & chocolate muffin, and Mom relented.

First, we creamed butter and sugar in the mixing bowl. Then we added 3 beaten eggs and 1/2 cup of cream and the mashed bananas. Next, we mixed the walnut into the flour and poured the them into the mixing bowl and stirred gently. Finally, we folded in the chopped milk chocolate into the batter. This was what it looked like.

The batter

Meanwhile, we heated up the muffin maker.

The muffin maker

Paper cases are lined in each hole and then the batter was scooped into the cup.

All filled up

Then wait for 12 - 15 minutes. Lift up the lid and ...

Ta-da!!

Yummm ... irresistable ...

The muffins were super yum as I ate them while they were still hot! The combination of flavours were just marvelous. That led me to the supermarket to get more ingredients to make another batch. Lol.

Don't ask me the measurements of the ingredients, though. I totally relied on Mom to do the prep!


Friday, December 30, 2011

My Favourite Peanut Bun

All Joy Bakery in Kuching makes the best Peanut Bun, in my opinion.

The bread is crisp on the outside, and yet it's soft

The peanuts are chopped finely, added with sugar and butter and are generously spreaded out in between the spirals

All Joy Bakery bakes its bread daily, so it's always freshness guaranteed. Do drop by All Joy Bakery when in Kuching.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cucumber Acar

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Mom has just started her preparations, and every year she will make the Cucumber Acar. Here in Kuching, Acar is eaten with prawn crackers.

This year, I am able to contribute to the process of making the Cucumber Acar at home.

Cucumbers with the ends chopped off

Wash and core and then cut

Then the gruelling task of shredding begins

Shred some carrots too and add in salt. Let it stand till the water comes out of the vegetables.

Then squeeze'em dry.

Then shred ginger, garlic and fresh chillies finely. We dried these in the sun.

Meanwhile, sautee the spices, which consisted of chilli, buah keras, turmeric, belacan & some dried prawns.

Sautee till fragrant and let it cool.

In a large pot, dissolve sugar in vinegar over low fire. The ratio is 1kg of sugar to 600ml of vinegar.

When the vinegar cools, mix in the spices & vegetables.

Ensure the veges are totally soaked in the vinegar

This is what it looks like the next day.

Bottle the acar and keep in a cool place.

Serve with chopped roasted peanuts and toasted sesame seeds.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Letting The Hair Down

I had a horrible hair experience when a hairstylist chopped off my tresses in an alarming fashion. Since then, I'd been wary about hair salons.

Everyone in my family goes to Elaine's to do their hair. I first went to her in 1997, when my Third Aunt introduced the salon to my Mom and I. Since then, we'd spread the word around, and soon every female in the household patronises her. Even my grandmother!

At first, I liked her. Elaine was good at layering the hair, giving it body and texture. Over time, of course I grew bored of it. Over the years too, she'd cultivated her own pool of clients. Her business was very good, and especially so during festive seasons. Once, I wanted to do straightening at her salon, and when I walked out it was 8 hours later. That had to break any hair straightening record for the longest amount of time ever to complete the process.

Since then, I'd been quite reluctant to go to Elaine's - whether for a hair cut or for hair straightening. This holiday, I'd decided to do hair straightening again, but then I did not really know where else to go.

My friend recommended Artist Hairdressing at Jalan Petanak. I went to enquire and they wanted to charge me RM280. If I did 2 items, however, i.e. straightening + colouring, they would give me a package price of RM250. Well, it was worth it, only that I did not want to colour my hair at this point. I was particular about the products they used and they said they would use Wella.

Then, I headed to Jantzen at The Spring for another round of enquiry. "Long hair. RM320 with treatment," said the lady. She then came over and squeezed my ponytail a bit. "Thick hair, add another RM35. So RM355." What a rip off even though they used L'Oreal.

So even after asking about, I put off doing my hair. Till today. There wasn't much time left before going back to work. Hence, I decided to get it done today. "Where?" Mom asked. "Elaine's," I said, resigned. Mom approved but Dad said there's an advertisement in the newspaper for a RM97.00 hair straightening that used Schwazkopf Professional. Can't be, I thought. Kelvin (in Miri) used Schwazkopf and he charged RM250.00.

So curious, I called up Trendzcut to ask. Gerald, the hair stylist, said that the promotion was valid. There was no harm trying so I went over to the salon. I had 3 options, the lady there told me. Schwazkopf was RM97.00, Iso was RM140, and L'Oreal was RM200, referring to the brands of products that I could use. So I opted for Iso for RM140, and it was even cheaper than what Elaine would normally charge me!

The whole process took 2 hours and a half. First, the hair was washed, and then the hair cuticle was broken down using a cream-based relaxer. I sat with cream on my hair for almost 50 minutes. After that, my hair was rinsed and blown dry, and then sprayed with a few spritz of protective protein solution. Then, came the task of straightening the hair with a hair iron. Once that was done, a generous amount of neutraliser was sprayed on the locks. After about 20 minutes, the hair was again rinsed and blown dry and I was done and ready to go.

Well, Trendzcut, I understand, had been refurbished not so long ago. The place has got a modern yet comfortable feel to it. For this kind of price, I am rather happy with its services. To be fair however, my hairdo was done by junior stylists. Perhaps that's why it's priced the way it was.

Trendzcut is located opposite the Hills Shopping Centre.

Monday, December 26, 2011

United Buddy Bears @ Pavillion KL

Once I reached the Pavillion, a smile instantly lit my face as I saw so many life-sized bears at the vicinity. Super cute.

View from the top
147 bears altogether from 143 countries!

The Malaysian Buddy bear in yellow reflects our multicultural heritage, our flora & fauna painted by Malaysian artist, Imuda

The South Korean Buddy Bear in blue, red, yellow & white

The Singapore Buddy Bear in red

Eventually, I found out that these were the United Buddy Bears on their World Tour, and Malaysia being its 23rd stop is the first South East Asian nation to hold such an exhibition.

Spreading the message of peace, tolerance and international understanding among nations, cultures and religions in the world, these bears stand hand in hand next to one another. I loved it! Each bear is painted uniquely to reflect each country, so different and distinctive, yet unifying in its message of love.

Ideally, we are all global citizens, and when all people realise that, the world will be a better place to live in.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Wishing everyone
a very Merry Christmas 2011

The most creative
@
1 Utama

The cutest
@
Viva Home

The biggest bauble
@
The Spring Kuching

and

The scariest-looking decor of the year
@
Boulevard Kuching

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thai Dinner @ Mango Chili

Near my friend's house is Giant Kinrara, and we headed there for dinner. The restaurant of choice was Mango Chili. It's somewhat like a Thai fast food restaurant, where a selection of common Thai dishes were available.

I ordered a Chicken Phad Prik Set. "Phad" means stir-fry and "Prik" means chilli. So this dish is a concoction of stir-fried chicken with chillies. The set meals comes with mango salad & rice.


Chicken Phad Prik.
The Phad Prik was spicy and sour. There were chicken slices, onions and fresh birds' eye chillies which provided the crunch. The use of aromatics such as lemon grass and lime leaves enhance the flavour. The mango salad was tantalising too. It was refreshing, yet sour and spicy.

You could have an add-on for RM3.90, for a bowl of Tom Yum Soup.


Tom Yum Soup
The soup was thick but I actually preferred the clear variety. Taste wise, it was not bad though. There were plenty of ingredients in there, like chicken, prawns and oyster mushrooms.

We also ordered a Som Tam.


Som Tam
There was a choice of mango or papaya. We opted for papaya as we already had the mango salad with our rice. Traditionally, the ingredients for Som Tam is pounded in a mortar. I'm not sure whether they did that here or not. Nonetheless, the Som Tam had all the right flavours. It was sweet and sour, salty and spicy. Rather refreshing it was too!

I must admit that I did not think much of Mango Chilli as I stepped into the outlet. But it did provide a satisfactory meal.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Assam Laksa @ Laksa Shack

Shopping at Sunway Pyramid on a weekday was fun. It wasn't that packed with people, and many of the shops that I wanted to go to were there - namely Clarks, Scholl, Bega, Daiso and others.

So after we busied ourselves shopping, my friend wanted to have a meal. We went to the Laksa Shack.

The menu

Frankly, this outlet looked a bit shabby already, and the tables and chairs looked a bit worn. I ordered a lime juice and an assam laksa.

Lime Juice
It tasted like cordial. I did not like it at all.

Assam Laksa, RM9.90
Thick rice noodles in a sour and spicy fish gravy. There were juliened cucumber, pineapple, onions, chillies, a lime and mint leaves to garnish. There were mackeral chunks in the gravy too.

The Assam Laksa was rather ordinary, not something I'd die to go back for. My friend said that they did not increase the price, but they cut down the portion. It was now about 2/3 of what they used to be. I agreed with her that the portion was extremely small.

And so, for my next trip, my quest should be to look for the best Assam Laksa. Lol.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nasi Lemak @ Sharon's Stall Taman Tenaga

I spent many years at Taman Tenaga in my student days. My friends and I would have our meals here because we stayed at a condominium nearby.

Even after we have graduated and left, my friend LJ stayed around the area as she was teaching in KL.

We met up the other day, and she brought me to the Taman Tenaga food stalls for breakfast. There's this stall named Sharon's, and on Thursday their specialty is Nasi Lemak and so that was what I had.

We helped ourselves to the rice, spooning the amount we wanted to eat, and then we could pick and choose the condiments we liked.

My plate of nasi lemak

I had some deep-fried anchovies and peanuts, cucumber, a fried chicken and 2 types of sambal. One was sourish and the other was a regular nasi lemak sambal.

Unfortunately, I wasn't very impressed with the nasi lemak, taste wise. The rice wasn't lemak nor fragrant, and the tangy sambal did not really suit the rice. The fried chicken was alright, though.

It was nice to sit around there for catch up, though. Maybe cos I hadn't seen my friend for a long time! Lol.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tokusen Toroniku Ramen @ Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

"Do you like ramen?" I asked Bro over Skype one fine day.

"No," he replied.

OK. Fine. It looked like I had to go eat this Ramen on my own. I'd been searching for a good bowl of Japanese Ramen. When I googled it, there'd been many posts about the newly-opened Hokkaido Ramen Santouka at the Tokyo Street, Level 6 of the Pavillion.

The reviews all looked very favourable. It only allowed to be opened after it met the standards and requirement of the original chain of restaurants in Japan. There were only 2 outlets in Singapore and 1 in the shores of Malaysia.

So, I headed to this very famous ramen chain, anticipating the ULTIMATE bowl of ramen.

I'd already known what I'd order. The legendary Tokusen Toroniku Ramen with the Shio flavoured broth. A small order cost RM33.50.

Tokusen Toroniku Shio Ramen,
Looking elagant & exactly like it did in the website

What I could not forget about the Ramen was the fragrance of the broth. When the bowl was placed before me, I caught a whiff of an extremely rich, robust and nutty aroma that came from the white broth. Mmmmmmm. It was enough to make me salivate. One spoonful of the broth, and I was definitely propelled to gastronomic heavens. It tasted smooth and rich, savoury. Very hearty indeed.

Japanese Ramen in Shio broth

The egg noodles were springy, but other than that, I really did not care much for it. In fact, I couldn't finish eating it. What a waste, huh?

The toppings for the Tokusen Toroniku Ramen were served separatedly. The prized ingredient was the Toroniku Cha-Shu, a rare cut of pork jowl. It was supposed to be very tender, somewhat like fatty tuna. And people described that it had this melt-in-the-mouth quality. I counted six thick slices on my plate.

The toppings

I scrutinized a slice of meat, and find that it's very lean, with just a thin layer of fat over it. The correct way to eat it was to dip the pork in the warm broth so that the fat melts in your mouth as you eat it. I found the cheek to be very delicate in flavour and tender too. It's very refined.

The other ingredients were the bamboo shoot strips, the black jelly ear strips, chopped scallions, a pretty thin slice of narutomaki, and a small pickled plum. The bamboo shoots were really crunchy. Frankly, I think the ramen was good enough without the scallions, bamboo and jelly ear. I suppose it added extra texture to the noodle soup.

What I did like, however, was the pickled plum. It tasted a bit sweet and sour and when I bit into it, there was this very refreshing taste. Yum.

Well, Ramen Santouka with its irresistable broth and pork cheek slices. Not bad, but I'm game to try more ramen establishments. Psst. Tampopo. When will I get to try your ramen?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Love My iPhone

"I lurrrve my phone!" I would often exclaim to the annoyance of those around me, especially when I'm watching a video on it or playing a game or just surfing on Safari. I am always amazed by the array of great things that I can do with it. Recently, I came to discover ePub (electronic publication), and coincidentally the first book I read in this format would be "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson. All 42 chapters of it on the small screen of my iPhone!

The hardcover
Pic Source : http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-10-23/tech/30313250_1_amazon-kindle-iphone-copy

"You'll spoil your eyes!" Mom reprimanded. But I was engaged, and could not put the book (oops, the phone ... lol) down.

My experiences with Apple products were limited. I remember using Macintosh computers in my university days. There were rows and rows of Macintosh desktop computers in every lab, and we had free reign to use any one of them, typing our assignments, surfing, emailing and stuff. That was about it.

Bro, on the other hand, is a die-hard Apple fan. When came the iPod revolution, he bought a black 8G iPod Nano. I thought it was a cool little gadget with conspicuous white ear plugs. It was just very expensive and I did not think I'd buy one at that point in time.

It was also through Bro that I watched my very first Apple product commercial. It was that of the Macbook Air. And it made a lasting impression till today. I clearly remember that it being portrayed to be able to fit into an inter-office envelope. How cool is that! Since then, it's the laptop computer of my dream, mainly because it's so thin and yet so powerful.

Many people profess dislike for Apple products. "You are forced to use their software," my friend, J**** said with much disapproval. Well, I never knew why it was so until I read the book. Apparently, Steve Jobs was a man who thrived being in control. He wanted to have control over both the hardware and software that Apple developed to provide the ultimate user experience. It seemed to work well now with the many consumer products that Apple has developed in recent years.

Through Bro too, I'd watch the late Steve Jobs in action at one of his legendary product unveiling events. Watching his calm demeanor on stage, I would not have guessed that he was a difficult person. According to the book, he wreaked havoc among the people he worked with. He was willful, uncompromising, and totally lacking in tact and social decorum. Totally not what I'd expected. Nonetheless, he was focused, passionate, creative, innovative, and a brilliant negotiator. A very intense person indeed.

Steve Jobs also thought that Slideshow presentations were a waste of time. People who used Slideshows didn't know what they were talking about, he espoused. Lol. I loved that because I'd sat through so many Powerpoint Karaokes.

After reading the book too, I'd be very interested to visit an Apple Retail Store. The nearest flagship sore is in Hong Kong, I believe, but it would be great to be able to visit its 5th Avenue store that boasts award-winning architectural features. All this happened because of the vision of one man.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank this brilliant guy for his innovation in creating simple products that changed the world. For me, again I reiterate that I TOTALLY LOVE MY IPHONE!

Steve Jobs. The one & only. RIP.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kim Lian Kee @ Viva Home

Kim Lian Kee is a name that evokes a mouth-watering plate of noodles. It's so delicious that it stood the test of time, the business being passed down from one generation to another.

Kim Lian Kee is named after its namesake Ong Kim Liam, who was said to have invented this noodle dish in the 1920's. He fried thick yellow noodles over charcoal fire, added a splash of stock and thick soy sauce to produce a plate of fragrant and tasty noodles. Use of fresh ingredients such as prawns, pork slices and crispy lard fritters elevated the flavour.

Till today, it maintained its cooking tradition, whetting appetites across the Klang Valley. Its most recent outlet is located at Viva Home at Jalan Loke Yew.

The revered Hokkien Mee
Moist, greasy goodness served on banana leaf
The noodles had just the right springy texture, the veges were crunchy; the whole dish is savoury and the lard bits provided a burst of flavour. However, I think I'd prefer it to be a tad saltier with just a tinge of sweetness.

The infamous Hokkien Mee aside, we ordered a Lor Mee, a Mee Suah and a dumpling soup.

Lor Mee
This is by far our favourite. It had the same thick yellow noodles as the Hokkien Mee, the broth is thickened by starch & egg, and after adding some malt vinegar, this dish tasted heavenly.

Fried Mee Suah
The odd thing about this dish was that the Mee Suah was crunchy as it was deep-fried. I think I preferred soft and springy Mee Suah rather than the crunchy version. But I guess that's what made it unique.

Dumpling Soup
There were 4 pieces of dumpling in the soup. They tasted alright, a bit soft for my liking. I preferred my dumplings to be "Q" or bouncy so they had bite. The soup was redolent of pepper, and it reminded me of the instant vermicelli, Mamee Bihun Chicken. So I did not like the soup.

Well, as famous as Kim Lian Kee may be in Kuala Lumpur, its noodles did not leave me with a very memorable impression.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Charbroiled Burgers @ Carl's Jr

We had this meal at around 2.00 p.m., and it lasted us till the next day! How filling!

I had a craving for Carl's Jr. so off we headed to the outlet after shopping at Midvalley Mega Mall. This outlet is rather small with tables and chairs crowding the whole restaurant. It was packed and we waited a good 10 minutes before there was an empty table.

"Are you working here?" Bro asked me, because I cleared the table by myself and wiped it clean myself. I think this outlet was shorthanded as the staff were too occupied to clean the tables. They obviously could not cope with the large number of customers.

Anyway, Carl's Jr. features charbroiled burgers. Bro ordered a Super Star with Cheese, while Sil and I each had a Famous Star with Cheese. We ordered 2 Medium combos to share among the three of us. So there were 2 sets of drinks and fries.

Drinks was free flow. You could refill as many times as you liked and drank till you're bloated. At the drinks station, there was soft drinks available. On that day that I was there, there was Coke, Sprite, Fanta Grape and Fanta Strawberry. Besides, there was hot coffee, tea and water. Just help yourselves!

Then, there was salsa to go with the burgers too.

Salsa

Fresh Salsa
This salsa consisted of diced tomatoes, pepper, white onion, cilantro & jalapeno; It had a very refreshing taste.

Salsa Sauce
It was made of tomatoes, pepper & onion; It was sweet and tangy with a bit of zing from the pepper and onion.

Pickled Jalapeno
Again, this chilli sweet and tangy, not spicy at all.

Because they were freshly assembled, the burgers were yum down right to the last bite.

Super Star With Cheese
Two charbroiled all-beef patties, two slices of cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, pickles, special sauce & mayonnaise on a toasted sesame seed bun

Famous Star With Cheese
Basically the same as Super Star but with a single beef patty & a slice of cheese

Super Star With Cheese

I loved the burgers. The beef patty had a charred flavour, and veges were fresh and crispy, the pickles crunchy and sour, and the sauces sort of held up everything together. Delicious & delightful! Add in those salsa if you wish, but I think the burgers were already yum without them.

I also think that Carl's Jr. served the best fries!

I love this statement!!

They did not look it, but these fries were great!

The french fries had skin on. Each string of potatoes was thick, crispy on the outside, yet soft and powdery within. Best of all, they did not turn soggy!

Well, with our stomachs full and MY craving satisfied, off we went and resumed our shopping at this very crowded mall.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sang Chow Loh Mai Fan @ Hong Kee

I'd posted about Hong Kee before. That time, we ate at its restaurant in PJ. This time, we went to the branch at Taman Connaught, Cheras, opened not long ago.

On a Sunday morning, it was quite packed with families enjoying a dim sum breakfast. We found a table on the first floor and proceeded to select our dim sum from the carts.

We ordered the usual fare, and I did like the taste of all that we ordered. The shao mai, har gao, phoenix claws, spare ribs were all yum.

A selection of dim sum that we enjoyed

But for this post, I would like to focus on the Sang Chow Loh Mai Fan (生炒糯米饭), purportedly a signature item here and only available on weekends. It's glutinuous rice stir-fried with diced Chinese sausages and waxed meat over slow fire till cooked. At Hong Kee, it was served in an inverted glass bowl on a saucer. The result, a perfect rounded ball of rice.

Sang Chow Loh Mai Fan

I believe this was my first encounter with it and I did like it as it was really aromatic The rice was fluffy and I could taste the flavour of the egg, the spring onions and the preserved meats. It's a dish that is full of texture and I would recommend it to all glutinuous rice lovers.

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