Tuesday, September 30, 2008

my birthday 2

t'was my birthday
part deux

Went someplace we've always seen from outside but never thought of venturing into. As regulars to Spize-Simpang Bedok, we've passed Sedap Corner - Asian Fare & Grill way too many times but it never crossed our minds to dine in there.

Maybe we're intimidated by the nice, cosy interior. Maybe by the fact that it's usually packed. Or maybe because one of the chefs helming this place is a celebrity.

The reason my mum finally broke the ice about dining here was because her cousin had raved about the place. And the last time we dined at Spize, she regaled us with what my aunt had told her and asked that we get their card so that we can make a reservation next time.

My bro had no qualms about going ahead to get it, until he saw Chef Bob inside the restaurant, that is. He freaked out and refused to enter. So he got one of the servers on a smoke break at the back of the restaurant to get him the card instead.

I had decided then, that should we enter here, it's will be for a special occasion. Stick to my word, I did.

Made a reservation at exactly 7pm for break fast but changed to 730pm instead, to accommodate my parents Maghrib prayers (me 'on leave').

I am most thankful for the blessing of doing that. For there was a large family seated at a long table inside the restaurant itself (occupying 1/2 the entire dining space!). By the time we arrived, they were serving out 3/4 of their orders.

Had we arrived earlier, our orders would have clashed with theirs and we might have to wait some time for our food.

My dad's hot green tea

My mum's Green Tea-chino

Green tea latte topped with frothed milk. And marshmallows, too. Cool stuff!

My bro's Iced Longan Selasih

They jumped on the bandwagon in serving iced drinks in this jar-like glass. I tot' the one here looks small though.

My teh tarik

Purist will cry foul over the cappuccino-esque frothed milk on the drink. Definitely not derived from the 'pulling' action of pouring the drink back and forth between 2 cups.

With such a tight pantry space, I doubt they even have space to do that.

Fried Vietnamese Trellis Roll - Prawn

I had ordered the one with veggie filling, so I was surprised to see only prawns inside. Maybe the server misheard my order.

Albeit being a little on the oily side, this one was pretty good. Too bad, the portion of only 3 rolls per serving was a tad awkward, esp. for my family of 4.

The honey dipping sauce infused with the chili padi slices sure was addictive! I even dipped the potato wedges (forgot to take photo) in it.

Green Curry Chicken Laksa

My mum's order. She had no idea, what to have. She was initially worried about being too full.

I recalled her being fascinated by the green curry cooked up by the famed Malaysian rocker, Amy Search on the cooking show, Ketuk-Ketuk Ramadhan.

So I suggest she get this dish. The last time we had green curry was eons back, in Magic Wok - Capitol.

A little on the sweet side but the gravy was heavily infused with spices and coconut milk. Also carried a strong 'kemangi' (lemon basil) scent . More 'kemangi' used as garnishing, there. Rich, indeed.

Potent green cili salsa.

My mum tasted a hint of mint in this too. Reminds me of the condiment served by the sarabat selling chappatis.

Pho Bho - Vietnamese Beef Noodle

I knew my dad will love this, seeing that it has beef and lotsa' veggies on the side.

The side serving of veggies for the Pho Bho.

Create a good option for those who dislike their greens. Basically a very D.I.Y way of adding veggies to the piping hot broth.

Condiments for the Pho Bho.

Soy sauce-infused red chili, bean-plum paste sauce ans the green chili salsa.

Pardon the poor quality of the Pho Bho pics. Got my bro to take these pics.

Oriental Fried Rice

My bro's order. Somehow I knew that he'll end up ordering one of the fried rice dishes. Their fried rice are served similar to the ones in Indonesia. Always some crackers and egg or chicken on the side.

This one here has some 'opak' (tapioca crackers), deep-fried wantans, fried boneless chicken, vegetable slices and dried prawns-infused 'sambal' (chili paste).

Phad Thai

My order. I missed my Phad Thai. Ever since Magic Wok reduced their number of branches (they have not ALL closed down have they?), it's difficult to find decent halal Phad Thai.

Seeing their use of the thin, flat rice noodles (kway tiao), bean sprouts and tofu in this, I was glad that they didn't shy away from the authenticity of the ones served in Thailand. Especially with the condiments which consist of sugar, crushed peanuts, dried chili flakes and lime wedge.

Of course the pair of deep fried wantans with whole prawns was a definite bonus. The prawns were fresh and I dipped the crispy wantans in my mum's green curry gravy as well as a mix of the green chili salsa & the honey dip for the rolls.

Phad Thai

But I do wish that this dish could have been more greasy/less dry.

I know, I know, all those health issues etc... But having every strand of the noodles slicked with a little oil won't do much harm.

That way the rice noodle wouldn't have clumped stubbornly together. It's very tedious to mix the condiments in

Fried Vietnamese Trellis Roll - Scallop (left) & Veggie (right)

Despite the hefty portions of the dishes, we realised that we still have room for a little bit more.

My mum got excited, thinking about the crispy rolls so we ordered another 2 portions of that, with different fillings, this time.

The scallops were sweet. The vegetables had some mushrooms in it but the skin was a tad oily. Maybe because this seemed to be the last order, they could have prepared them in haste.

The chili padi-infused honey dipping sauce.

We spotted more chili padi bits this time. I took joy in scooping up them fiery bits with my rolls.

I am sooo going to get the Pho Bho for myself the next time I'm here. Yes, there WILL be a next time!

Will either come for a weekday dinner or weekend lunch. Weekend dinners just seem too busy to get proper service.

Monday, September 29, 2008

my birthday

t'was my birthday

Ran some errands that Saturday night with my mum and ended up fetching my bro from work.

The best part about it all? Simply wearing my PJs and crocs cos' I thought that I'll just drop by them places. Besides it's at night.

I sure didn't expect having to top-up the petrol eventually (fuel gauge hovering at 'E' already!) and thickened-up my skin to walk around the petrol station wearing all that. Thank goodness for my bro. I can live through doing the craziest of things with him around, seriously.

We drove through the ECP to catch some of the F1 action (or what's left of the qualifying rounds) and was amazed at how brightly lit the place had been and how much of the crowd remained even late that night. Well, it's Saturday...

Came back in time to watch the last bits of the Man U-Bolton match. And when my-other-half (MOH) called, I went into the room. A little after midnight, MOH had asked, "Your family still awake..?"

"Yup, we're in the 'sporting mood'. My dad just woke up to watch from F1 to soccer.. Why?"

"They never wish happy birthday?"

"Hmm... We're like that. We dun really..."

My conversation was interrupted by my mum bursting (literally) into the room, calling me by a stupid nickname derived from a stupid incident that happened before we came back, not realising I was (still) on the line.

"Eeiii.... ******! Happi Birthday!!!" And came over to hug and kiss my cheeks before handing me a black paper bag.

The logo on the bag is that of a timepiece retail.

No surprise there. My bro had grown tired of figuring out what to get me and bluntly asked, instead. But no, I eventually decide it's not feasible to get the phone cos' I still have a contract tied with my current service provider and may incur a penalty charge for that new phone.

So I asked for a watch for work, instead. I finally grew up and decide that despite getting to have many varieties of watches to wear, dirt cheap watches die on you pretty fast and they'll eventually cost more than a single, expensive watch worn over a period of time.

So I asked for a watch - metal strap. Big one. Not circular faced.

"Men's watch?" he asked.

I nodded.

As my cousin Dzul had called, 'Jam Jantan'.

But I sure as hell didn't expect THIS after I carefully opened the wrapping!

what the...?!

Cue the ubiquitous Bengawan Solo song in the background, ala the ad. Images of Chow Yun Fatt & Andy Lau came to mind....

....Wow! Trust my bro....

Metal-strap, not round-faced, large watch.

All requirements met!


Ok, I meant to zoom in on the date but noticed that when the letter 'U' was covered, it read: 'TITS' instead. Haha!

I gave a step-by-step description to MOH as I opened the present. By the time I saw the watch, I dumped the phone onto the bed (in my excitement, I totally forgot he's still there, on the other line) and rushed out to thank my parents, kissing their cheeks as I did it.

Looked for my bro but he was outside, smoking. So I yelled my word of thanks to him (forgetting it's already past midnight). I know little as to what he's feeling right then.

I had mistaken his deadpan face as that of embarassment when I praised him for his nice choice. It turned out to be something else.

That night in the darkness as I prepared to sleep, he texted me from the other room. I can't recall, word-for-word whatever he said. Despite the casual manner of expressing it, I know how weighed-down it was. By the sadness of the fact that it's my last birthday celebration as simply his sister.

His only sister. His only sibling.

I took it lightly and replied casually, "Dun go all emo on me. Heh. Are you crying?"
That last bit was added jokingly cos' I tot' I heard some sniffling from inside his room.

Before he could reply, it dawned upon me that he MIGHT be crying, all right. I have known very well, how emotional he can be.

He texted back, "Dun be a busybody and just mind your own business." More sniffling, I heard.

Erm..... I wasn't being cold or heartless when I say that I didn't feel the same way he did. Maybe I just don't feel it YET. But I'll be lying if I say that it didn't affect me.

I listened intently as his sniffling slowly quiet down and he went to the bathroom (prolly to wash his face). I finally closed my eyes when his snoring can be heard, softly, but surely....

I dread the day I break down. I know I will.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

in the kitchen

in the kitchen

After the cookie-baking saga with my mum the other night, I became more determined to do this instead.

No baking needed and I can easily make use of that box of cornflakes, seeds and nuts all at one go.

Another good reason is... Chocolate! mmmmm... me LOVE chocolate!

Double boiling Hersheys choc chips with a glob of nutella.

The outcome.

A mix of the existing cornflakes and Rice Krispies.

Slice almods, diced alomonds, sliced (peeled) pumpkin seeds, plain pumpkin seeds.

yeah, it's gotta be GREEN paper cups. don't ask why.

Chocolate crunchies!

After all that back-breaking act of putting the muck into the cups, got a hefty portion eaten by my bro that very night and another small bottle shall go to my grandma's.

Now I remember why I hate making all this paper cup cookies.... Pfft!

Later in the afternoon, my mom and I came together to whip up a quick pasta dish.

However, my mum got a little ambitious with the prep and we end up with an abundant amount of ingredients for the aglio olio.

Aglio Olio

Mix of penne and angel hair.

Mushroom, prawns, squids, cheese sausages, yellow & red bell peppers...

I got more fillers in this dish than the pasta itself.

goodbye perms 2

Adiós curls
part Deux

This had been his reply to my intention to have a haircut.

Yesterday was the 1st time we meet after that exchange. In all my innocence (I don't thing I've done anything wrong -conscience clear!) I came forth and saw THAT look on his face.

Something that goes along the line of: *gah!* or *erkkk?!*

"SO short?!"

I was all... *uhhh?!*

Then... *giggle*
(ok, this is a silly trait I have. i giggle whenever i encounter any negative situation. be it when i'm scared, nervous or apprehensive. i just giggle).

"I thought you say 'just TRIM' ?"

"Ermm... They TRIMMED too short??"

Later on, he'll just run his hand through my hair and I'll hear that exasperated *tsk!* and a slight shake of his head.

Yes, yes, I know you ain't happy... :P


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

cousins iftar

with the cousins, this time

I finally succumbed to the pressure of owning just 1 new pair of baju kurung for this coming Raya and asked my cousins out to the Geylang bazaar, supposedly to get myself at least another pair.

I quick call to my mum to inform her that I wont be breaking fast at home; proved to be a turning point.

Got an earful from her, saying that I still have several pairs from last year that I hardly wore. And it's time that I start saving and help her with the wedding expenses.


Anyway, from the flurry of emails that I exchanged with the ever efficient Sue, she rounded up my other paternal cousins and we soon had a plan to iftar (break fast) together.

I did not know what came over us but we actually end up wandering around the bazaar and Tanjong Katong Complex till after 8pm before we realised that we're REALLY famished.

I suggested Teh Tarik Eating House. We ended up ordering dishes to share from the halal 'zhi char' stall there.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Ordered specially for the 2 non-beef eaters, Imah & Huda.

Black Pepper Beef

This one's for Sue, Nor, Ate & myself.

An ample amount of curry leaves, there

Cereal Squid

Ordered a medium portion of this for all of us and the portion looked pretty huge. Was worried as to whether we'll be able to finish it.

Well, worries unfounded. Turned out, not all the large crispy bits are the squid...

The cereal up close

The bigger piece is the one with the squid. The smaller one is plain batter.

Again, they're generous with the curry leaves. Oh, even
with the cereal and chili padi (bird's eye chili). I relished having a spoonful of that with almost EVERY bite. Yes, even when I eat the other dishes.

Old habits die hard. I should consider frying up just the cereal part and keep it in a jar or something.

Sambal Kangkong

I dun mind the garlicky bits but they could have used the sambal less sparingly. I can't get the kick from this dish that I usually get from other places.

Maybe they assumed that we would prefer less spice in our food given the fact that we've been fasting the whole day.
Hmm.. Go figure.

Ordered just a small portion of this, seeing that the same pair who dun eat beef, also abhor veggies.

Hot-plate Tofu

This was an order that's pushed recommended by the waitress. I thought that we've ordered quite a lot but I guess the idea of having this seemed novel somehow. At least ALL of us dun mind tofu.

Came bubbling hot (I almost scalded my tongue!) and I'm pretty impressed by their generousity with the eggs.

Many occasions, I encountered a similar dish where the egg was a sad, thin layer at the base of the heated pan/plate. You can see in the pic, the egg even goes up to the edge!

All that egg and the gooey sauce... Delectable indeed!

(Fried) Fish Soup

Funnily enough, the soup came last. And we has expected fresh fish slices in the soup but they came battered and fried instead. Not surprisingly, they got pretty soggy by the time we got to them.

If I had wanted fried fish soup, I wouldn't mind the crispy egg bits that one can get from that stall at Banquet Raffles Hospital.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

goodbye perms

Adiós curls

Curls, semi-curls, waves. Whatever's left of my perm from months back (hey, takes a Korean brand for it to last THAT long!).

I didn't even wait for my hair to fully straighten out before I had 1/2 foot of my locks snipped away. Yes, all 6 inches of it.

I had rushed to the salon for I had felt signs of PMS, meaning the big 'P' is hovering near. Gotta' have my hair cut before that!

Now I got a new look for Raya! Well, just something to help me look forward to it cos' I'm just thinking of it all as being sooo dreary.

What with it gonna be my last celebration as my parents only daughter, my brother's only sister and NOT somebody's wife. My last Raya with my family. Sigh...

Ok, back to happier things!

I feel sooo much lighter now. My head, I mean. No sign of any previous perms whatsoever. After 2++ years, I'm back with my straight hair! Woo hoo!

My mum's pretty gleeful, I know. She had wished that I be more daring to experiment with my hair, like herself back in her heydays. She proclaimed my style to be 'boring'.

She did remark that I look like my secondary school self, though. Greeeat!

Even with my long waves, I was assumed to be fresh outta' school, what more now? Don't I even look like I'm getting married soon? Pfft!

She added, "What does HE (my other-1/2) have to say about this?"

"Who cares? It's MY hair!"

I recalled the sms I sent him, informing him of my intention. I had thought of 'asking' him but I realised that it's up to me, after all. As of now, his preference for my hair to be on the long side shouldn't have mattered. Not yet, anyway.

"Not too short", he replied.

Hmm. We'll see. We'll see..... *smirks*

You go girl!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ramadhan @ JB

Ramadhan @ JB

The main idea was to head to Simpang Renggam. It's like the holy grail to the cookies of ALL cookies to get for the Hari Raya festive period.

I've been there previously and I thought that it'll be worth it. The stuff are (mostly) freshly made and taste pretty good. Turned out, thousands of others thought the same way, too.

The place looked like there's been a clearance sale going on. Shelves were literally empty and the staff can barely able to fill them for the bottles of cookies were snapped before they were even displayed.

Then it's off to Ayer Hitam for those who wanna buy (fake) flowers.

The best part had been the journey from there to Plaza Angsana at Tampoi. We were foretold that the journey would take around an hour so we took the opportunity to grab some forty winks with Hari Raya song softly lulling us through the speakers. Aaahhh...

I managed to get all of 1 Baju Kurung (traditional Malay garb). Shopping mood kicked in, all right. But clothes that I took fancy to were either too expensive (Rm399, gah!) or just aren't my type. Seems like this year, it's all about the bling-blings. Scary, boy!

Break fast was at the famed Singgah Selalu. Been ages since I last ate there. I remember having sahur there, a couple years back, at the wee hour of 4am. Sigh.. Those were the days.

It's the first time I had buffet (excluding those bbq/steamboat places) for breaking fast. EVER.

And boy, was it a culture shock! There were soooo many varieties of food, done in the traditional kampung (village) way. I saw some minang dishes, some javanese, some chinese... etc. All for just RM30 per head.

I was delirious! These are the kind of food that I've been lusting after and it's all there! Under 1 roof, literally.

This thatched roof, I mean.

The buffet spread.

Looks like a lot? Hah!

See that man in red? In the centre? Beyond him was ANOTHER stretch of buffet spread. With dishes that were different from those in these pics, mind you. Can you imagine the amount of vareties available??


My favourite zone. The salad bar. Kampung style.

Check out that sambal in the huge mortar!

Behind it were the ingredients for 'jenganan'. The javanese dish consisting of blanched veggies with 'sambal pecel' (spicy peanut sauce in the clay bowl) that's almost simlilar to 'gado-gado'.

Salad bar part deux.

In bottom-right, in the banana leaf-lined basket was the ubiquitous 'kerabu mangga' (mango salad). To its front, was the 'kerabu sotong' (squid salad).

On the top-left were the glorious 'ulam' (raw veggies/salad). The main reason why I lust after kampung food.

Centre-left was the 'Daun Tenggek Burung' (said to be good for men's virility). Top-left corner was the 'Daun Salom'. In the small basket at the centre was the 'Petai' beans. To its top-right were sticks of cucumbers, 'Kecipir/Kacang Botol' (4-angle beans) and 'Daun Pegaga'. Below it was 'Ulam Raja' which smelt delightfully like young mangoes.

All healthy stuff, rest assured.

Roasted lamb/goat.

oh, all that meat!

I braced through teary eyes, queueing in front of that smoky makeshift bbq grill, keenly looking at one of the guys carving the mutton right to the bones.

The grilled mutton (diced).

...with a healthy dose of black pepper sauce poured on it.

Check out those bits that are medium rare. Delightful!

'Gong-gong' (sea snails) cooked in sweet & sour sauce.

We ate this w/o any toothpicks in hand. It's such a disappointment to be unable to reach that lone claw and pull out that twirly, chewy meat inside.

Dengdeng Balado & Lemak Kupang (background)

Dengdeng Balado is a Minang (a province in West Sumatra) dish. Thinly sliced beef deep fried and then cooked with chill. Thankfully, this one here was crispy, unlike some of those I had before, where the meat turned out to be quite tough.

Lemak Kupang is simply mussels stewed in spicy cocunut gravy.

Cereal Prawns Shrimps

Too bad it's done the 'malay way'. No egg added to make more of the cereal stick to the prawns.

Our plate of 'sambals' (cili sauce) and salad.

Bottom-left is the sambal 'cicalok' (tiny shrimp fermented whole in a salt brine). Above it is sambal 'belacan' (dried shrimp paste), to its right is a blend of fresh chillies and tomatoes and in bottom-right is salsa.

All the greens in the background... why, they're my idea of heaven-on-earth!

Crispy Lemon Chicken

Jenganan - already doused with that (really) spicy peanut sauce (pecel).

Oxtail Soup

Sorry for the blurred pic. This was at the other end of the table.

Kerabu Mangga & Kerabu Sotong (mixed).

Ok, I cheated and put some 'sambal cincalok' on top to add some colour...

Teh tarik.

Which tasted awesome! Having been served in bulk, I'm surprised they managed to get the taste just right.

The aftermath.

*burp!* Alhamdulillah.

We scrambled back to Tuas Checkpoint but ended up getting stuck in a massive coach buses jam. Pfft!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


what cures forgetfulness??

So sure was I that I'll be able to make my way to gym yesterday evening....

Anyway, a big shoutout to dear, dear Tini who unwittingly rescued me from making another wasted trip to the gym - yet again. And be my cashier for that evening.

Thank you so much, babe!

She had asked me to break fast with her at Bugis and keep her company till her hubby fetched her later that nite. And only upon getting there did I realise that I had left my wallet (of all things) at home!

Imagine if I did make my way to gym yesterday. No gym card, no locker key. Yes, THAT same locker key. Man!

And Tini, the sweet friend that she is, was more than happy to buy me dinner yesterday. And even gave me change for desserts later!

After all, she had offered, thru' msn, to treat me that evening, since I don't mind keeping her company. Naturally, I was a bit paiseh (embarassed) to oblige. In the end, I'm left with no choice..

And thanks to her, I finally get my piping hot bowl of fried fish bee hoon. Something that I've been intending to get since months back. I was nonplussed about either having milk in the soup w/o chili padi (bird's eye chili) on the side or have chili padi w/o milk in the soup.

In the end I settled for the latter. Having soup w/o chili is like... like having burger w/o the sauce. You get me..? Yeah, something like that.

Why not get both, you may ask?? Well let me ask you back. After a day of fasting (read: no food, no water) do you think that you can stomach fiery hot chili AND milk together?? Unless you wanna make the runs or enjoy having this really queer sensation in your belly.

And with the change that she insist I keep, I got meself another thing that I've contemplated having for the longest time - chocolate eclairs from Beard Papa.

Thank you once again, Tini.

The outing to Geylang, just keep your purse in the bag. From Ramly burgers to ayam perchik (grilled chicken in peanut sauce), kebabs to chempedak goreng (deep-fried battered jackfruit), everything will be on me!

... Provided I remember my wallet, of course! *winks*

Wednesday, September 17, 2008



Please tell me that you've at least heard of this famed Spanish rice dish.

My mum was really intrigued about this dish ever since she saw the famous traveller/chef, Keith Floyd cooking this during his trip to Spain.

The previous times she cooked this, I was NEVER around. Either I'm diving in Tioman or gallivanting in Bali. And when I come back, my dad and bro will rave and rave about it. Sheesh!

Maybe they assumed that I would have my fair share of seafood wherever I was. Which is quite true, by the way but I still wanna try out what my mum prepared! *sulks*

So yesterday morning, before I left for work, she had asked what I would like for the evening. So I dropped subtle hints about her previous intention to cook paella.

And yet, when I came back home, I saw something else on the table. Oh well....

Early this morning, before 5am to be exact, I woke up fo sahur (customary morning meal during fasting month) and was greeted with THIS.

Ok, fine. So this wasn't the pic I took. Hello, I was all groggy from having to wake up so early. Would I EVEN think of grabbing my camera and take a pic?

But this picture of the paella was closest I can find to what my mum had prepared. With the exception of that boiled egg. And the rice I had wasn't as soggy as the one in the pic.

prawns - check!
littleneck clams - check!
mussels - check!
(we managed to get the black variant at NTUC. the meat was definitely sweeter. those sold at markets here are the green type)
chicken meat - check!

and the bonus..

flower crabs - check!

My mum managed to find this delectable crab species which our family preferred over the ones served at local seafood restaurants (Sri Lankan crabs). Since it's full-moon, you can just imagine how luscious and abundant the soft meat is.

Oh man, the best part had been digging out the rice from inside the shellfish (and burning our tongue tip in the process). And I eventually took a mussel shell to use as a makeshift spoon because the rice was pretty hot to the touch (lazy to get the spoon, la).

That reminds me. The paella had been freshly cooked very, very early this morning. Though easy to prepare, it does take sometime to cook because of the rice.

I wonder what time my mum woke up to cook this? Ahh... such is a mother's sacrifice.

Now I recall why my mum had not prepared this last evening. My family have never eaten rice when breaking fast in the evening. It's always stuff like noodles, breads or other things we don't usually eat for dinner on regular days.

And we need to eat rice for sahur to fill us up all the way till evening. Thus, the paella.

PROBLEM is... Eating the crabs!

Early hours of the morning just ain't the right time for crabs, la. Even my dad, the family's designated 'crab specialist' refused to help us dig out the crab meat and simply pass us the pincers and scissors for us to do it on our own.

Guess my old man is a lil' cranky in the morning...

Not surprisingly, I was the only one left at the table, stubbornly fishing out the nitty, gritty bits of crab meat from every nook and cranny. Heh.