Thursday, June 30, 2011


The Japan! Combo. I don’t know why I like it so much. Or how did I end up choosing this over the bestseller - taroballs with whatever. Or what the heck was I doing in a shaved ice dessert shop in the first place? I don’t know. But I really like it. Maybe it’s the soy ice crush. Soy milk is one of my favourite drinks - warm, iced or frozen. Or maybe it’s the chewy green tea balls. Or the slight bitter aftertaste and artificial chlorophyll scent that work wonders with sweetened soy milk. Like Starbucks’ costly, classy soy milk green tea latte - my only choice there. I don’t know. It just tastes good. I have a loyalty card, by the way. The words Dessert Lover Club fill 1/3 of the card. Sickening, I know. And I'm just five stamps away from redeeming any item from the menu. But the Japan! Combo is no longer listed on their website. Instead, a new monthly special has been introduced. Sesame Sensation. Peanut ice with sesame balls. Great, just great.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lunches along Sin Ming Road

Courses and talks are effective tools in improving one's field of work or study. So, it’s only right to pay attention and absorb as much information from the trainer or speaker as possible throughout the duration. I’m amazed at the constant display of immense concentration of some participants. I admit that I can’t last a full hour without drifting to la-la land. It worsens in the final hour before lunch, when I usually proceed to guessing the menu (if the meal’s catered for) or start searching for nearby eateries on the web. I do very much look forward to this breather, lunch, but would attain torpor state by the first post-lunch hour. It’s an embarrassing vicious cycle that I repent but could never break. It doesn’t help when the lunch is deliciously heavy.

Fried bee hoon at Block 22

If not for the interactive nature of this recent course, I would have easily drowsed after each good meal at the nearby Sin Ming Road.

Silkie soup at Earth Jar Treasure

The ground level of Block 22 along Sin Ming Road is a bustling lunch spot and it’s not difficult to recognize the more celebrated stalls – the endless queue at Hup Seng Duck Rice, the large lacquered jars from Earth Jar Treasure and the speedy, battalion-armed workforce of Rong Chen Bak Kut Teh. In a week, I'd tried almost every stall that's worth a queue.

Yam rice at Earth Jar Treasure

At Earth Jar, I had the black chicken (silkie) soup, which is a traditional Chinese concoction to cultivate red blood cells, and some yam rice to go with it. I'm not anaemic, but it's been quite a while since I had some silkie, which I really like, especially the smooth greyed meat and thin dark skin that melts (and sometimes, sticks to the mouth!) - the result of sufficient simmering. It's served in a typical Chinese claypot and the herbs-to-soup ratio was almost 1:3. I tore the large herbal pack and nibbled some of the more common types...because I was still hungry. And there was Rong Chen with their premium pork ribs cooked tender in a clear peppery stock that's evidently Teochew.

An individual set from Rong Chen Bak Kut Teh

Stir-fried white rice vermicelli from a tze char unit at Block 22

Down the road, there's another stretch of coffeeshops at Block 24 that I couldn't resist dropping by. Here, I only managed to try the briyani and roti prata from Sin Ming Roti Prata/Faisal & Aziz Curry. Their prata is well-known but it was the miniature version called the coin set that I found more interesting. These coins (almost half the size of a Roti Bom, hence the name) came with crispy fried skin but relatively less fluffy (due to the compressive dough-flattening process to achieve the shape) than the typical prata. Pretty addictive, these.

Briyani rice with mutton curry at Sin Ming Roti Prata/Faisal & Aziz Curry

The salted vegetable soup with duck leg at Hup Seng is easily the most memorable dish for me. The queue was long but flowed steadily. To me, it was worth the wait. The blend of saltiness from the preserved vegetable, the aromatic peppercorns, slight tang from the small plums and savouriness of the duck produced a very, very robust and sensate taste. Every sip was a delight. My small (or individual) portion came with a duck leg that was tender and flaky. I observed a customer showing the young lady manning the front (the owner's daughter, I presume) an emptied bowl and she refilled it with more of the boiling hot, glorious stock. I followed suit. Such joy, itellyou!

Salted vegetable soup with duck leg at Hup Seng Duck Rice

Oh, I'd gained so much from this course, I did. When is the next one?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nasi Lemak at Medan Selera 223 (among other things)

Domestication, albeit reluctantly, has reminded me of how expensive groceries are these days. Every cent counts, really. But I'm determined to only lose old habits, not interests, with my now frugal financial management system - something that I'd learnt from some multinational corporations. It's doomed to fail but I guess it'll be a good learning curve.

Frugality has led me to shop at discounted gift certificate or coupon websites. Most, if not all, of the products and services offered are of a leisurely nature than necessity. And I’ve been a stalker cum customer for a month now. Hear me being foolishly paradoxical here.

One of the coupons that I'd redeemed was for a few hair treatment sessions. My friends and relatives can attest to my evident hair loss problem and I must say, are more concerned than myself. With a significant, shocking discount, I thought it’s worth a try. Miraculous treatment or not, at the very least, I'll be able to get a diagnosis from the package, I thought.

Session 1 was a psychological war field in the consultation room. I understood the severity of my receding hairline from the scans and their explanation but to inject every consolation and solution with a special, promising treatment and its obvious advantages was too much to bear. These customized treatments are not cheap. I bargained hard, just to know their cheapest offer. Throughout the process, I've been approached by two very persistent consultants. Their marketing skills were good, no doubt. One empathetic-looking consultant said it's a pity if I continue to neglect my oily scalp and start balding at such (flipped and studied my customer profile) a young age. I must admit that I was slightly, just slightly sold at that point. Regained sensibility, I reminded myself that I came to redeem my coupon, got a diagnosis and understood my situation, unconvinced of the procedures and therefore, unwilling to pay the exorbitant amount. That's that. They'd done their best and I tried to be understanding. For courtesy sake, I'd informed them that I can't make a decision at that point as I won't be available for treatment due to my tight travelling schedule. And that I'll return when I can afford the time. They restrategized. Apparently, I can even be treated abroad as well - by purchasing their DIY treatment kits. There were many, many points worth debating there including the effectiveness of DIY kits versus in-house treatments and the content of the kit. But they are running a business and it's only right for them to sell. Unfortunately for them, I wasn’t convinced.

In the 1.5 hours of Session 1, I wondered if appearance should hold such importance in one's life. And if it's worth the cost. I'd only say yes if it's related to one's profession or that it affects one's health condition. Why bother when my family, good friends and (ex) girlfriends have been accepting of my different shapes, sizes and looks throughout the years? No one seems to think less of famous figures like Bruce Willis, Prince William and Vladimir Putin just because they are balding, right? With my head wrapped under the steamer, I felt ashamed. But at least I now know that my scalp's ridiculously oily. So, I should perhaps wash my hair 21 times a week to unclog and prevent more blockages.

Speaking of good friends (I've digressed too far and wide in this post, haven’t I?), we were at Medan Selera 223, another uncharted territory for me, much like the hair treatment center. At night, it’s a busy and crowded al fresco foodcourt that tests one’s vigilance in securing a seat. Reward comes in small packs of nasi lemak with savoury, mildly spicy sambal that’s best smoothened and flavoured with a couple of soft-boiled eggs. And there’s the list of usual beverages like teh tarik and Horlicks to keep the conversations going. Here, affordability means that it’s able to attract people from all walks of life. Regardless of the buckets of dripping sweat (it’s quite hot and humid here), worn out clothes AND receding hairline, everyone’s having a good time. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

Medan Selera 223
Jalan 223,
Petaling Jaya
Selangor, Malaysia

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sundown 2011

At Sundown 2011, I'd recorded a personal best timing in the 21 km category. I must admit that this would have been impossible if not for the wider roads (as compared to Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2010 at Sentosa) and the relatively flat route. The Deaf One's sound advice on pacing was a great help too.

My last meal before the run was a pack of mixed rice (with sweet and sour pork, and some greens) at 3 pm to carbo-load ahead of the 8 pm run. By the time I'd crossed the finish line, I was famished. The smiling attendants handed each finisher a medal, a can of 100 Plus, a bottle of mineral water and a banana. It was one of the tastiest bananas I'd ever eaten - the usual Del Monte-sized kind that you can get anywhere, only sweetened with a sense of accomplishment and pride. One banana was obviously insufficient. Not five, even. Then came the announcement of free candy floss and popcorn for all runners. I opted for the popcorn, despite the queue. It was very, very good. How good? Popcorn good - crunchy, caramel sweet, buttery, aromatic. It puts those soft, overpriced cinema ones to shame. I'm inclined to place Garrett's next to the cinemas' but I've only had it once, so....anyway, Sundown 2011's popcorn rocked.

Post race activities were aplenty, mostly involved food, naturally. I liked the performing bands that night too and must have stayed for a good 5 songs before boarding the shuttle bus back home, which was delayed for 30 mins. Traffic was congested as half marathoners began departing from the venue. Had I known earlier, I would have just chilled and stayed to watch the most talked-about (and unfortunate) match between Barça and the Red Devils.

I reached home around 1 am, did my laundry and decided to have a quiet celebration of my achievement with a bowl of Prime Taste la mian laksa endorsed by Olivia Ong. I'm not much of a laksa (or Olivia Ong) fan but this is one of the very few instant noodles that's sold in individual packs (no more buying in bulk as I'm trying to reduce my instant noodle intake) and inexpensive. Predictably bland, I added whatever I could find in the fridge - a bag of coriander and an egg. They were definitely not taste enhancers but at least the stomach's filled at 4 am.