Saturday, September 15, 2007

Kin Kin Spicy Pan Mee

This is for the chilli and pan mee lovers out there. If you're one of those who are already immune to the hot-bum afterburn that accompanies every spicy meal, then this is definitely the place for you.

The place: Restoran Kin Kin
The location: 40, Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman 1, Off Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, KL.
The food: Pan mee and kick-ass (or burn-ass) chilli.

I was introduced to this place a few months back by a buddy who assured me that I'll enjoy and boy was he right. I've been back every so often since for the pan mee that it has become a bit of an addiction.

The restaurant serves pan mee, in both dry and soup versions. The pan mee itself isn't much to shout about, with lashings of the normal minced pork, ikan bilis and greens. It does however come with a poached egg. At Rm4.80 a bowl, it's not the cheapest grub in town too especially when the portion isn't very big. I personal polish off two bowls everytime I'm there.

What's special and separates this restaurant from the rest is the chilli. It is oh-my-gawd so good. I'm not sure what they put into it, but I've seen pieces of fried lard (chu yau char) and I think that's what makes it so fragrant. Served in containers, the chilli concoction is a bit flaky and sticky, waiting to knock your socks off. You decide how much you want to put into your pan mee. I started with 2-3 spoonfuls, but nowadays I tend to put 4-5 heaped spoons into my bowl.

How to eat chilli pan mee 101:

Step 1: Look at your bowl and decide how much chilli you want to put in.

Step 2: Load the chilli in and delight in how beautiful it now looks. The colours...ahh..

Step 3: Mix all of it up and be prepared for the fire that is about to burn you into a sniffling, sweating mess.

Step 4: Finish everything up, including all the tissues you can find, and enjoy the light-headed sensation from the fiery torture you just went through. Smile. You survived. :)

Sounds a bit freakish to enjoy such torture for only a bowl of pan mee? Not at all for a chilli lover. The enjoyment and pleasure of getting new levels of chilli-pain can only be understood by fellow enthusiasts. If you're one, try this establishment out. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


recent happenings on the home front:

1. i'm still trying to get used to sales and the tactics needed in the battlefield out there. i feel like i'm too logical and not zany and creative enough sometimes. so many things to remember and learn too. it's gonna be challenging. i need to be more thick-faced!

2. one of my sunday-morning-trek-and-breakfast buddies decided to ditch us for chinese girls in the mainland and to co-habitate with his boss. need to find a replacement.

3. had a real bad case of the runs last weekend. must have been a 'jampi' from uncle lim for crapping in his casino. it didn't help too that i had to run 5.5 km for charity while relying on 'po chai' pills to hold everything together. i barely survived.

4. i realized that there are many, many bloody rich malaysians out there. so bloody rich they don't know what to do with it, so they go to genting and throw it to the dealer. aunties and uncles, next time please throw it at a better angle - my pocket is about 45 degrees downwards ok?

5. been spending good quality time with family and relatives. i'm turning into quite a family guy. no complaints though it feels good. :)

6. i'm missing the quality of life in the UK a tad bit. but i miss the ales and pub food more.

7. and i miss you buddies still living there la, hehe.

8. i was pleasantly surprised to receive a letter from the tax dept telling me to expect a cheque on the way! WOW. now let's see if it will really arrive.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


i haven't been blogging for a while now as i've been sorting out some stuff in my life. well, most of the stuff involves getting a job...but it's funny how that can lead to an emotional ride that brings you through a rollercoaster journey of searching, excitement, disappointment, depression, uncertainty and happiness. thankfully it's turned out well in the end and i'm hoping that it will be even better days ahead.

i don't really know what to write about at the moment, so i'll just word-doodle for a bit as a warm up to get back into the momentum. i think writing is like exercise; you've got to keep doing it or it will be difficult to pick up the pace again. when i started blogging, i also started to notice more things and was more aware of stories/issues to talk about. but when i took a break, somehow it felt like there weren't many topics that were particularly interesting to me.

maybe it's because i haven't been cooking since i came back home la. nothing to stir my culinary interests and make me want to cook. i think it may be due to the unfriendly kitchen in my house too.

emmm...ok don't know what to write anymore for the moment, hehe. happy days to anyone who read this post and thanks for still coming by! :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Free Food - Our Biggest Vice?

In Malaysia, it seems that almost everyone is into food. We love to eat, and we're always on the lookout for grub that is better, tastier and more exotic to satisfy our tastebuds. We head out to the latest restaurants, the newest dessert shops and try out ever-changing flavours of the month. Having said that, good food doesn't always come cheap and so we are also constantly on the look out for cheaper places as well. The Chinese phrase "peng, leng, jeng" (cheap, beautiful, great) sums it up nicely. What could be better than to have great meals without burning a hole in the pocket, right?

Right. But sometimes, I think we take it way too far and start displaying a really ugly habit whenever a type of food comes about - free food. Okay, I know not all of us are like that, but those who are so blatant in their conduct whenever free food is available really make me feel ashamed to be Malaysian at times.

There I was with mom at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in KL to attend Maxis' AGM yesterday. The hotel itself is very nice and posh, and I'm sure it has played host to many important guests, foreign dignitaries and other VIPs. As we walked towards the registration hall we passed the refreshment area where a sumptious lunch buffet was laid out for Maxis guests to enjoy before the meeting started. There was a big spread for the huge number of people there and it was expectedly crowded.

We registered, got our stickers to identify ourselves as shareholders and walked back out to the refreshment area. It was then that I saw all the skills that would put waiters and petty thieves to shame.

Firstly, a lot of them didn't have stickers on them. So, either they stuck it under their clothes, or they weren't there for the event in the first place. If they were there just for a free lunch, they certainly were enthusiastic about it. Moving with such gusto from fried mee hoon, chicken, pastries, cakes, etc. to coffee and tea, you'd think they were on an Amazing Race roadblock challenge trying to beat the other teams. Or maybe just wolfing down the food before it runs out.

Then, there were aunties with such deft hands that they could juggle two plates - filled to the brim with puffs and mini cakes - on a single palm! That's four plates per auntie man...and there were a lot of them. It was amazing seeing them balance all that food while waltzing through the crowded room avoiding collision and spillage. I think waiters in training could learn a thing or two just observing them.

But the one that takes the cake was something my mom pointed out to me. This auntie was taking out a plastic container from her handbag! She was there to get some take-away! I was really shocked that some people would actually do something like that. I know that a lot of people go crazy at buffets or open houses and start hoarding food like there's no tomorrow, but I have never actually seen people bringing their own containers to tah-pau.

It was quite sad to me to notice such a state of things. That the purpose of the event wasn't even about food in the first place, that most of the people there were so kiasu about sampling every morsel - it really makes one wonder why we behave that way. The saddest thing of all for me though, was how it seems to have become an accepted habit and no one seems to think it inappropriate. I mean, you're at a company's AGM ok, not an eating competition.

I can understand that in certain countries people are starving and will fight for anything that remotely looks like food. But we're not poor or hungry, we're educated, we live comfortably and if you can be a shareholder in a company, you can definitely put food on the table easily. Do we really have to bring ourselves down to such a level?

I just hope this habit doesn't result in an image of Malaysians that shows us as foodie freeloading hogs without respect to others. But if that's what we want to project, well, Malaysia definitely boleh-lah.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Petronas Twin Towers Skybridge

Last week, I visited the Petronas twin towers for the first time in my life. They have been standing majestically for a good number of years now and I've always enjoyed looking at them illuminated in the night skyline. However, I have never made the effort to actually visit the skybridge, which is the only place you're allowed to walk around unless you work in one of the offices there.

So when my cousin managed to get tickets I thought "Why not?".

The tickets to the skybridge are free, but you have to go really early to line up for them. There's a limited amount of tickets given out each day, so be kiasu and make a beeline to the counter in the morning. The entrance to the skybridge tour is at the Tower 2 side of the lobby. If you're going by LRT, go to the centre court and make a right. Take the escalator up a floor, go past RHB bank and turn right to arrive.

There are set times for the tour, depending on your ticket. To start things off, there is a video presentation on the design and construction of the towers. We were late, so we missed this part. After that, a guide will take visitors up to the skybridge at level 41. The lift we took had the most LEDs I've ever seen (due to the sheer number of floors) and moves very fast - a zippy 1 floor per second.

Once at the skybridge, you're allowed 10 minutes to wander around, enjoy the view and take pictures. IMHO, 10 minutes is really kiamsiap. But to make up for the kiamsiap-ness, the view is really good and you can see almost the whole of KL.

It also helped that the weather was bright and sunny (and hot!), giving us clear skies.

After the skybridge tour, we then went up higher (71st is I've remember correctly) and the view was even better. Looking below, the people looked like ants crawling around some concrete jungle. Everything at ground level looked so small. Made me feel very big, hehe.

Up close, the size and height of the buildings are quite impressive too. The architecture is nice as well. If you have the time, just go up and have a look.

Heck, it's free anyway...don't want ah? :)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

StarCraft II !!!

Man oh man this is exciting. Blizzard has announced the sequel to Starcraft! Check it out:

I think the video looks awesome. Personally, I think StarCraft is the most balanced RTS game compared to other titles in the market. It also has a very engaging storyline and each race is so unique without being overly powerful, giving plenty of room for creative gameplay and tactics. It may have been around for quite some time, but it is an absolute classic and is still being played by gamers around the world.

I remember pulling all-nighters during the weekend when I was in university - not for studying, but for playing StarCraft until the wee hours of the morning with my housemates! We would start after dinner, blasting each other's armies and trying to outwit one another the whole night. Sometimes we would even play till the sun came up. One housemate even stayed up sometimes while we were asleep to practice to be the best...he was THAT hooked. Needless to say, it was THE game to play during those days.

And now Blizzard's announced the 2nd installment of the saga. From the in-game footage, I think it will not dissappoint fans worldwide.

It looks so beautiful.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Khoo Kongsi

Recently I traveled up to Penang to meet up with friends I haven't met for more than 2 years. It was a great trip, full of catching up and lots of talking over a cup of coffee and famous Penang grub. While I was there, I decided to check out places I've never visited before.

Most of us have been to the Kek Lok Si temple, Bukit Bendera, the famous hawker streets and other landmarks. But I wonder how many of us have actually been to the Khoo Kongsi?

The Khoo Kongsi is one of the most famous Chinese clan associations in Penang. And they have this really beautiful clan house/compound to hang out in. Just like how us modern 'intellectuals' hover around mamaks to discuss everything from the state of our politics to the state of our mental health due to job stress, the forefathers from days of yore used to meet to discuss things, help each other out and try to make life better for all. Well, for all the Khoos la.

The place is excellently restored to its former glory and the colours, especially the gold, absolutely stands out. The entire building is filled with intricate carvings on wood, metal and stone. From the roof, the high beams, the pillars, the walls and the windows, right down to the leading staircase, these carvings are so detailed and creative. It's amazing how people from the olden times can produce such sophisticated works of art without modern technology. It must've taken a LOT of dedication and perserverence.

According to the Khoo Kongsi website, the restoration works cost in excess of RM 4.2 million! The Khoos must be very rich people. That is a serious amount of money. Can eat Penang char kuey teow until you die. But I must say, all that money has been well spent.

The only two things I felt that more money should have been spent on are:

1. Tour guides/audiophones and information boards. It would have been much nicer if there were guided tours of the association compound and the tour guide could explain the history, the culture and provide interesting facts about the place (like a trap door we saw, but didn't know where it led to). Most museums or places of interest overseas have audiophones too, like a handset that u bring around. These have pre-recorded information that you can listen to while you're wandering around. Sadly, I have yet to see facilities like that in Malaysia. More placards around the place would've been a nice touch too. We only saw information about the statues and deco at the exit, which I think is too late.

2. Many more road signs leading to the area. After spending more than 4.2 million on restoring the building, I find it really baffling that they didn't spend that little bit more to tell people how to get there. I didn't see any signpost or direction arrow throughout the town until we had reached building! Plus, it doesn't help that the Khoo Kongsi is deep inside a crowded area of shophouses and terrace lots - not a place your typical tourist would stumble upon. In fact, we only found the entrance by chance after wandering the streets. We could have easily passed it by and not know it.

I quote this from the Khoo Kongsi website:
"Surprisingly, famous as it is, its location appears to be unknown to many Penangites."

Oih hello! No signboard, how to go??? Duh.

But if you do manage to locate it, do go in and take your time to stroll around. Enjoy the architecture, colours and step back in time for a while. It's worth every cent of the RM 5 entry fee.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Banking Bonkers, blehh....

I've decided to not keep complaining about local banks...stress isn't good for the heart and life's too short to be bothered by such nonsense... :-)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Banking Bonkers

I rarely get very irritated by things, and often something has to be REALLY bad to piss me off. In this case, local banking. This is gonna be a name-and-shame man.

So I dropped in to RHB last Friday to give them some money coz I thought I'd be so nice to help them earn some dough from me. That was about 11:20 am. Mom and sis went off to their own little banking adventure while I got a bit lost as I stepped in the door. Why? Because there was no customer service officer to assist me. The only person was the security guard who asked me to budge in on one of the counters while they were in between customers.

So much for first impressions.

So I got a form for opening current accounts from the lady at the counter, hastily put together by stapling some pieces of paper. And when I started filling it, I could feel the stress level rising. 5 pages of forms just to open an account?? And at the end was another piece asking me to tell them more about myself! No thank you. I just want to open an account, not have my bank be my best friend.

So I decided not to open a new account and just deposit some money. I took a number and waited like a good customer. After waiting for quite some time, I noticed the reason why - out of maybe 9-10 counters, only one was servicing customers like me. One!

But of course the best comes last. At precisely 11:50am on a Friday, the security guard started making rounds around the queue telling everyone "System down". What???

Ok firstly, why should we, the customers, be told by the security guard of such things? Shouldn't it be at least a bank officer? Or are we not worthy enough of such respect? I would have expected at least such a courtesy. Secondly, aren't banks supposed to have backup IT systems so that they will NOT have "system down"?? Or are our local banks that poor to not have backup solutions. I find that really appaling if its true. Does the whole banking mechanism just grind to a halt whenever there is a "system down"?

There wasn't even any apologies or explanation as to how long the situation would remain like that. I couldn't accept why customers should suffer such inconveniences due to the bank's shortcomings, and how the bank never did anything to take care of the people who gives them business. So, I just walked out.

I've said before that maybe I just needed a few days to get used to things back home. But I've realized that some things should not be tolerated, because you get only what you tolerate. If you accept complacency and the mediocre, you'll get it. But you'll be stuck just where you are.

Which is where I think where our local banks are.

Case 2 coming soon...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sea Angels

I was down in Singapore last week for a few days to catch up with friends and also meet my sister. It has been such a long time since I've seen Ray and Nard so it was a really good trip. But that's another story.

What I want to talk about here are these cute little critters I saw at the Underwater World in Sentosa island. I've never seen anything like them.

Pic source

They're called sea angels, a type of sea snail that lives in the cold water of the Arctic. Translucent except for the red areas of its head and internal organs in the middle, these creatures are very tiny. The largest ones grow only up to about 5cm long. Most are smaller than that. Probably only as long as the nail on your last finger.

They're born with shells, but lose them when they're born. They use their 'wings' to zip around the with an undulating flapping motion, and it's quite fun to see them moping about in the water. They're just so darn cute. :)

These graceful marine fliers are also hemaphrodites and they help to mutually fertilize each other during mating.

Looking at them, I can see why they're called sea angels. Except for the two little horns on the head. Fallen sea angels? Hehehe. They also remind me of those fantasy creatures usually dreamed up in Japanese anime because they look kinda other-worldly. Something you wouldn't expect to see on earth.

Cool huh?

Saturday, March 31, 2007

What's your VisualDNA?

Stumbled upon this on EG's blog and I thought why not? Heck, it's a Sunday afternoon and getting my own VisualDNA sounded like a Sunday afternoon-ny thing to do. :)

Try it for yourself. The pictures above are what I chose for my answers, and they revealed that:

1. I'm a Dreamer

Always drifting off, their imagination takes control. They have big ideas, and a cool calm manner.

2. I'm an Escape Artist

They are forever slipping off, getting away from the rat race, and recharging those batteries. Independent, and thoughtful - they know themselves well.

3. I'm a New Wave Puritan

They are strict, organized, and ever so neat - they practice the art of self-discipline. They like things done simply but with an eye for detail.

4. I'm a Love Bug

They are the type to fall in love a thousand times a day. Their feelings snowball quickly, and they are full of passion.

Oh, and apparently I also have a high sex drive, love people with tight bods and an appetite for lurve.

Man, who doesn't? =p

Friday, March 30, 2007


I'm having jet lag right now. I'm very awake, but no one else is so there's nobody for me to disturb. Except maybe the cats.

The flight was pretty uneventful, but it sure was more comfortable than previous journeys. I found out after many, many years that you can actually move the headrest to support both sides of your head. Now I don't look like a drooling fool lolling my head left and right whenever I sleep on the plane. Thanks Chuan for the enlightenment! I'm a bit wiser now :)

I had a sudden feeling of heaviness and reluctance a couple of days before coming home. I always feel this way when I have to say goodbye to things. I am so lousy at parting ways. It has been two years (and how fast it has gone by!), and London/Reading has been like a second home to me. I've grown to enjoy and love the UK and will really miss it. The different characters of the cities, the parks, the walks, the culture, the conveniences of living in a developed country, the many many things to do in London, and of course the cheap beer and good food. When you're used to paying 2.20 GBP for a pint of good beer, RM18 for a small bottle of Heineken suddenly seems like a lot!

I've been weighing the options of staying on in the UK or return to Malaysia for a long time now, and it hasn't been easy. Staying on in the UK, I would have a comfortable if unfulfiling job and be earning good income. Coming home meant starting anew again and picking up the pieces. It it also meant going back to a place I was trying to break away from not so long ago. I was also scared of falling into the same old routines and outlook that made me frustrated and unhappy previously. Back then, I was so comfortable in my own little world that at a point I didn't care what else was going on outside my cosy sphere. And because of that my world got smaller and smaller and my view on things became narrow-minded. Familiarity breeds tolerance, and left unchecked leads to ignorance. I didn't want to be like that again. I couldn't.

But in the end, the answer was simple. Home, after all, is home. Throughout all the debating that knocked the wheels and cogs off balance in my brain, there was always a deep, underlying gut feeling about the right thing to do. That was to return home. I'm a rational guy and always like to reason things out, but every once in a while I tend to rely on my gut feelings to guide me especially when difficult decisions are involved. Over the years it has served me well and I've learned to listen to it when I need to. I believe that deep down inside we can all feel and know the right thing to do, thought it isn't always easy to agree with it when the logical brain tries to interfere. And sometimes we are afraid to accept that advice from within us because we're not strong enough. I've learned to seek counsel with Mr. Gutso and consider its words.

Words which have brought me back. The place I grew up and have so many memories. A place so familiar.

But the thing is, I don't feel familiar.

A lot of things have changed within the neighbourhood; new buildings, new roads, new places to eat. I didn't even dare drive the car when my mom suggested it. Going out for drinks with Tjun Tjun and Chee Hoe tonight, I couldn't help but feel a bit like a village boy going to the city for the first time. Looking at the roads and new stuff outside when I was in the car, looking around at people and the environment while having drinks - it felt like I was sizing up a new place where I've just arrived. I know it hasn't been that long, but somehow it has felt longer tonight. I don't know why.

Maybe I just need a few days to settle down. But one thing is for sure, I'm quite nervous but yet excited about what the future holds. It's another round of big change for me and I'm stepping into unknown grounds again, even though it seems a familiar landscape. I've lived and grown through a very important phase of my life, but now I'm starting a new chapter. One that will hopefully a more exciting and nourishing than before. I'm quite positive about it and hopefully it will be good. I know the small bouts of anxiety and fear will go away with time.

So home, but a new beginning. Same same, but different.

Here's to Mr. Gutso and days of merriment to come!

Now let me find some cats to talk to.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Kebab Komfort

There are few things as comforting and satisfying than a warm, packed to the brim doner kebab. Especially when you're hungry at 12.30am in the UK and there are no machas bringing you that teh tarik and mee goreng telur mata kerbau to your plastic table. You'd have a better chance bumping into Jennifer Aniston on the streets.

I'd just watched The Lion King with Chia Hui and was on my way back to Reading. By the way, it was an awesome show. But that's another story. The train was unusually slow tonight and so I had some time to think. And what I thought was...I haven't had dinner. The thing was, I wasn't actually that hungry. But the body is a funny temple and it sometimes affirms and reinforces automatically what you think. Well, at least mine does and if yours doesn't then there's sometime wrong with you. And the YY temple of good eats ALWAYS reaafirms thoughts about food. The temple told me I was hungry.

So, that's why I got a chicken and lamb kebab la. With extra chilli sauce. :)

The kebabs here are big. Really big. HUGE. A small one can feed two girls. A large one can feed two guys, unless one is a real fat-ass glutton. Not only are they packed to the brim with meat, the matey boy at the counter will then stuff the bejesus out of that limited pita bread estate with loads of lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes and pickled chillies into any available space he can find. And then still manage to stick a wedge of lemon in there somewhere. It's really an amazing meal.

Plus, it costs less than a Mcds meal AND is in my opinion a much healthier option.

Tucking into that on a cold night is damn satisfying and really hits the spot. It's like having that first bite into your favourite Ramly's burger when you've got a craving. Great comfort food.

When you're in the UK and without much choice, a kebab's the best late night snack you can get.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Muar Rapper

Got this link from my friend Bahoo over on Yahoo. Bahoo...Yahoo...hehe...get it? ......nevermind.

I say good example of homegrown Malaysian Chinese rapping talent :) The context is appropriately local and the language is...well, let's just call it colourful shall we? The 'Wira' and 'Ah Kua' sections made me laugh so hard! Hehe.

Warning: If you're very easily offended then don't bother. Contains rude bits.

I couldn't understand the Hokkien bits though, can anyone explain to me?

Go Muar rappers, hehehe. Ta ma de. Malaysia boleh.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Riverside Twilight

Fee Chin was in town during the weekend and wanted to to see Big Ben again. I thought it would be a good idea to bring her along the Thames river and South Bank for an enjoyable evening stroll too. I've always enjoyed the night view there and its such a nice place to hang about.

It proved to a good opportunity to take some beautiful shots of London as the sun was setting.

The Big Ben and Houses Of Parliament looked really resplendent when illuminated in its golden lights. Taken from almost below the London Eye, the pinkish glow of the pier and water reflections made a colourful contrast and a good picture.

Panning my viewfinder to the right towards South Bank, I caught another nice view along the river. The lighting along the bridge and of the building was very aesthetically pleasing to the eye and there was a sense of calm when looking this way across the river.

She didn't turn out well in this one, but I thought the background gave a very good feel of the feel and atmosphere of the place and the evening. The London Eye is really quite a big structure and is impressive. The capsules rotate as the big wheel turns so they stay horizontal. Made largely of glass, it gives you beautiful, unobstructed views London on a clear day or night.

This is what happens when you cannot stay still when the camera takes a snap. :-) It was also difficult to frame the shot nicely as I didn't have a tripod and had to balance my camera on the edge of the lamp post. I got hungry after that so we left to have a good Chap Goh Meh dinner!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Gluttony. One of the deadly sins. By definition of - 'Excessive eating and drinking'.

Q: How much does it take to feed 3 guys?

1. One whole baked/roast chicken.

2. One whole cabbage. Half of it boiled with chicken bones for a big portion of soup. Another half fried with chillies and spices as a vegetable side dish.

3. One bowl of chilli and herb sauce.

4. Bowls of bubur cha cha for dessert. Contains coconut milk, sugar, sweet potatoes, bananas and sago/tapioca.

5. A final round of belacan (shrimp paste) flavoured fried chicken with sweet chilli dip.

A: Damn a lot.
Gluttony? What gluttony? I don't geel guilty at all. *BURP*

Friday, February 16, 2007

Snow Falls

Last week, the UK had its heaviest snowfall in perhaps the last century. In Reading, it was the heaviest snow in the past 16 years. Now, it doesn't usually snow around here, and even if it did it's so pansy that it doesn't settle but makes messy puddles instead. So when the forecast was 4 inches of snow, I was quite excited hehe. I like snow :)

So I thought I'd do a bit of a photoblog this time on my journey to work.

View from my room window at 7.15am.
Pavement right outside my front door.

Trying to be artistic, hehe.

Snow falling at Reading train station.

See that multi-storey car park in the background? A body was found there in the wee hours sometime last year. I went to have a look but the police cleared everything up already :P

Looking out from the train.

White all around outside the station where I got off.

Random shot, it feels kind of Christmas-y to me :)

Leading up to my workplace. Its the building in the middle at the bend of the road, where the van is. Very slippery pavement with ice.

There is a certain calmness that come with snowfall. Everything is quieter and more tranquil. Everyone drives slower, walks slower; no one is in a rush. People take their time and sometimes you'll get the odd few (like me) who will stop and take in the view. I wasn't the only person whipping out the camera too.

A really nice moment was when the snow started falling really heavily. Every single person in the office just stopped and looked out the window, and we all agreed how lovely it looked. For a minute we just stood there, admiring the view. I think snowfall has got to be one of the most beautiful weather conditions to ever happen.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Linguini Loving

You know how almost pasta has been and always will be the student's choice of meals when they're studying overseas? I for one totally agree with them. I mean, coming from an Asian country, pasta such as spaghetti, tagliatelle and linguini are the closest you can get to noodles; something which we've grown up with. Plus, they're just so easy to cook!

The thing that I don't agree about is to just have the same old boring tomato sauce and mince meat with pasta ALL the time. Now don't get me wrong. Cooked properly, the traditional bolognese is absolutely delicious and is arguably the easiest pasta sauce to prepare. However, with just a little tinkering and experimentation you can easily dress up hundreds of different sexy numbers to accompany those long stringy carbo bad boys.

I've recently taken a liking to linguini, mainly because they're so easy to cook. The typical spaghetti takes about 10-12 minutes to get ready, but linguini is all ready to please in just 6 minutes. I like. :) Toss them with some olive oil or flavoured oil, salt and pepper and you already have a good base to start with. In fact, toss in some canned tuna, tomatoes and herbs and it already is a great meal.

See how easy it is? Less than 20 minutes to prepare.

I made a Thai-oriental style topping a few weeks ago to put on top of some linguini that has been tossed with sesame oil, salt and pepper. This was very, very hot and spicy so adjust the chillies to your own taste ok?

Fry some garlic and onions until fragrant. Add in some mince meat (it can be pork, beef or even lamb), lots of chopped birds' eye chillies and basil. Basil is important to give the dish its distinct flavour and fragrance. Stir fry until the meat is almost cooked. Then, put in some fish sauce, soy sauce and ground black pepper to taste. I also dropped in some mushrooms as I had some left in the fridge. Let it all simmer for about 10-12 minutes to let the meat absorb all the funky mojo and get a bit tender. Toss in some chopped peppers (capsicum) and spring onions. Stir fry for probably another 2-3 minutes and then just serve on top of the linguini. If the sauce is too watery just simmer until it gets thicker before adding in the peppers.

Come to think of it, you can actually use any type of noodles - yellow, egg, rice, udon, flat, kuey teow. I think they will all work with the oriental flavour.

Another recipe I tried was a seafood marinara sauce. In contrast to the exotic East, this sauce is relatively simple and basic but equally delicious. While the fiery and strong oriental flavours are exciting, this western version has a subtle, quiet elegance.

For this dish, just get a can of chopped tomatoes in their own juice, some garlic, onions and some seafood. I just got a pack of mixed seafood from the supermarket; it had mussels, prawns and squid.

Heat up some olive oil and fry the onions until fragrant and soft. Toss in the garlic and stir until you can smell them. Put in freshly ground black pepper and salt. I'd recommend using sea salt. Normal table salt can taste bitter and doesn't have any fragrance and taste to it. It's just...salty. Sea salt, on the other hand, has a nice flavour depending on what type of salt you get. It also tastes kind of sweet. This will make a lot of difference in your cooking, especially if its a simple dish.

Pour in the can of chopped tomatoes and simmer for a bit until the sauce get a bit thick. You want it to have a thick consistency because seafood has a lot of water content. If your sauce is not thick before you put the critters in, you'll end up drinking seafood tomato soup instead (Hey! That's another dish! Hehe).

Anyway, put the seafood in and cook for about 3-4 minutes and your sauce has a nice consistency. Serve it on top of the linguini and garnish with parsley or coriander.

Finally, take a picture of the dish, pull out your fork and spoon, and tuck in! :)

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Pad

Well, hello. Welcome to my humble castle :)

I'd call it the shag pad, but unfortunately there's no such action going on. I'd also call it the love nest, but alas, not much loving going on here too. Boom-boom room sounds too dodgy, and to call it my oasis is really too cheesy, isnt it? So I'll just call it 'The Pad'.

The Pad sits on the corner at the end of Howard Street. It doesn't look like much from the front especially with the lovely bins decorating the landscape. But then again, over here not many houses look that appealing on the outside.

The house number is No.44 (superstitious Chinese readers may now shake their heads in disapproval). But that's not all, for my room number! 'Sei Sei Sei'! In Malaysian terms, very 'suey', hehehe. Its like the number 13 fuelled up with Red Bull. Luckily I'm not that superstitious.

The Pad is pretty much white all over on the inside. My landlady's refurbished it quite well and all the furnishings are new. Ninety percent of the furniture is from Ikea. Don't you just love the Swedes?

The dining table is where I have my evening chow while watching re-runs of Friends for an hour every night. :) But sometimes I stay on to watch movies and serials, which I do on the comfy black Ikea couch.

But the area where I spend a big portion of the time is the kitchen a.k.a. 'The Lab'. This is where I experiment, chop, wash, marinade, fry, boil and prepare the 'Soul Food'. Its a good layout too. The washing machine and dishwasher are hidden within the cabinets. Very neat and tidy.

And finally, leaving the best for cosy little cave. Ahh. At the very top floor, facing the backyard, its away from the noise downstairs and from the traffic. Its a rooftop conversion so there's actually not much space, but its comfortable enough for one. This is where I spend most of my time at home besides the kitchen.

Quick, how many Ikea items can you spot in 5 seconds?

I'd love to call it the 'Love Chamber', but that's already reserved for a certain room in the office. But it really is nice and comfy...anyone wanna come hang out? hmm? The bed's really comfy too...with lovely soft pillows :) (Guys need not apply. You lot can sod off. Hehe.) But becareful tho ladies, I've knocked my head a few times. The ceiling's less than an inch from the top of my head. :P

Friday, February 2, 2007

Tri-Nation Salad

A really delicious salad made a couple of weeks ago. It's so simple and yet so yummily good. I think its a great example of how fresh, quality ingredients can make all the difference in the world.

  • Pungent Greek goats' cheese that was soaked in olive oil. Chuan smuggled it from Greece. Really.
  • Superb extra virgin olive oil that Kit bought for me from Padova, Italy. It's so good I can't describe it.
  • Super-sweet cheery tomatoes and Mediterranean salad mix. From, erm...Sainsburys supermarket near Shawn's love shack, hehe.
  • Some sea salt and lemon juice.

Looks damn good right? :) I'm getting hungry dy.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Reading is a town in the south-west of England. Travelling west from London, it takes about 50 minutes to reach by car. Kinna like travelling from KL to Seremban. It is famous for its university, music festivals and lately, its football team that is doing really well.

It has also been my home for a little more than a year now, and I'd like to bring you on a little tour around my turf :)

We start off at the main train station. This is a major hub for train services to London and also the south of England. I usually take the fast train to London from here and it takes just half an hour to reach the city. I also pass through its gates almost everyday since I take the train to and from work. The best thing about the station is that its only 5 minutes' walk from the town center and less than 15 minutes away from my house.

Walking into town from the station, two rows of red-brick shops greet you. There are a variety of businesses lining the street, from Starbucks to travel agencies to restaurants to camera specialist shops.

My first impression when I arrived here was that this town might as well be called RED-ding. So red!

A short stroll and we are in the heart of the town, the High Street. Almost every town/city in England has a High Street, which is the main commercial and retail artery running through the town. Here you will find most of the clothing boutiques, bookstores, sports accesories, pharmacies, home furnishing stores, banks, recruitment agencies, supermarkets, street stalls and many more different outlets.

It is usually very bustling on weekends, but I was up early and there wasn't many people on the streets yet. There are usually buskers as well, singing their songs and trying to get people to buy their CDs. There is a particular group of Red Indians in full costumes and paint that have been playing their instruments every week and they seem to have become permanent fixture of the weekend activities. Sometimes you get preachers, anti-obesity movements, etc. And during Christmas, there is a band from the Salvation Army playing festive tunes with their trumpets, trombones and flutes.

What I like about Reading is that everything I need is within walking distance. That includes the shopping mall! Its called the The Oracle and is right smack in the middle of town. Takes me less than 10 minutes to get there on foot. The Oracle is a nice mall with the usual retail outlets and I can pretty much get everything I need here. But what I like about the place is that most of the restaurants and cafes are located along the river that divides the complex in two.

When the weather is fine, it is very enjoyable to do some people watching by the river bank while enjoying some coffee. Once in a while there will be people kayaking or rowing along the river and everyone will look at them. Free show, I guess. Hehe.

The riverside looks very nice at night too when the lights come on. Also, it is also the place where all the festive celebrations take place, such as Christmas and New Year fireworks, promotions and summer events. The curved mini-amphitheatre are got turned into a beach during the summer and a skating rink during winter.

This is one of my favourite restaurants in Reading. :) Mostly because its one of the few places I can get really spicy food and it's healthier than Mcds. And also because most of the time the waitresses look quite pretty, hehe. :P

This is Vue cinema where I catch the movies and the Starbucks where I sometimes get coffee. I love going to the cinema here because I can get tickets 5 minutes before the show and I'll have a seat. No kiasu idiots fully booking movies 3 days before! It is also on a free seating basis, so as long as I go in early enough I am always guaranteed a good seat. But the best reason for going to the cinemas here is that there is no censorship. I can actually follow the movie through till the end without being forced to read the lines and joining the dots between cut scenes. Such bliss I tell you.
So that's a brief snapshot of Reading. Its an enjoyable place to live and I find it very cosy. I can escape the noise, congestion and crowds in London and yet I'm close enough to be able to go to the city anytime I want. Kinna like living in Subang Jaya where I grew up. Maybe that's why I like it here.
By the way, its pronounced 'Red-ding'. :)