Food – Salve Of The Soul

Nasi Ambeng
Nasi Ambeng is a favourite amongst the Javanese community in Malaysia

MY wife is a Johorean – well, half-Johorean.  Her mother is from Kuching, Sarawak. So, when it comes to what is good as food, I trust her judgment.

Why am I writing about food this time? I see a lot of unhappy news lately and I think food is what makes us all happy.

I was brought up eating Johor-style cooking; with the cabbage, or bean curd and beansprouts in masak lemak putih, asam pedas, soto and lontong with kuah lodeh (lontong actually refers to the compressed rice, and not the whole dish).

I was picky when it came to food but going to the Malay College broadened my culinary horizon – Kuala Kangsar gave me Mi Bandung at Restoran Zabdi, Laksa Perak by our Makcik Canteen, Masak Lemak Kuning, Gulai Otak Lembu by the riverside, and not to mention the ulat-filled sayur bayam and stir-fried long beans from the dining hall.

My wife and I were once upon a time both married to spouses from Kedah. My love for curry is because of Kedah’s Gulai Kawah Daging cooked using either the Serbuk Kari Chap ‘O’ or Serbuk Kari Chap Tarbus. The owner of Serbuk Kari Chap ‘O’ drove a car bearing the registration number KAR 10.

I love the Nasi Lemak Kuning which is now more famously represented by Nasi Lemak Royale with the Daging Masak Hitam (it’s Nasi Kandar by the way, and tastes nothing like the Nasi Lemak).

For laksa I would drive to Kuala Kedah for the famous Laksa Teluk Kechai.  Not forgetting the Peknga Nyioq Gulai Ikan Termenung (Coconut Pancake dunked in Indian Mackerel Curry) and Pulut Sambal.

Try having lunch at Restoran Sri Pumpung, my all-time favourite lunch spot.  Top that with an ice-cold glass of Nira Nipah (Nipa palm sap) and your day is made.

Despite all the good food, my wife and I agree on one thing – Hari Raya in Kedah for us non-Kedahan was an omen for both our marriages.

Hari Raya for me means lemang, nasi impit, rendang, dodol, lempuk durianaccompanied by barrels of ice-cold soda. For my wife her Hari Raya food means Nasi Bariyani Gam, Laksa Johor, Mi Rebus, Lontong with Kuah Lodeh, assorted cakes, and endless flow of lamnet (soda water – a Malay contraction of the word lemonade – which is used to describe soda).

In Kedah back in the 1980s and 1990s, Hari Raya was ketupat palas (either plain, or with beans, or with corn) served with serunding (meat floss – not to be confused with the Indonesian serunding which is spicy fried coconut flakes), and squash (cordial drink, if you must).  And no matter which house you visit, they would serve you ketupat palas with serunding. And maybe cookies and mini-popiah or mini-karipap filled with serunding.

Only some houses would serve you something different – bihun goreng or the neither-here-nor-there Mi Kuah.

I cannot make out what the Mi Kuah is all about. Yellow noodles in pale-colour spicy but salty gravy.  And while the kids all ventured out to collect duit raya, the adults would flock in front of the television set watching either some Hari Raya concert or a Hindustani movie.

I always ended up with a bad bout of constipation. Little wonder our marriages to Kedahans did not last.

So, Hari Raya for us now depends on whose in-laws’ house we are at: hers or mine.  If it is at her in-laws’ place, then we’d be feasting on Nasi Impit, Lemang, assortment of Rendang, Laksa, Mi Rebus, Satay, Nasi Minyak; and if it is at my in-laws’ place it’s Lontong with Kuah Lodeh, Laksa Sarawak, Mi Kolok, Bubur Pedas Sarawak, Laksa Johor, Soto, Nasi Lemak with Spicy Beancurd Soup, Nasi Bariyani Gam, Mi Bandung.

Do you know it’s blasphemous to eat your Laksa Johor with fork and spoon? Laksa Johor is supposed to be eaten with the hand, just so you know!

If you drive into the kampungs to visit during Hari Raya, you would be served with Nasi Ambeng, Burasak, whatever meat in Masak Ungkep style.  Not forgetting the Tiwol with Sambal Bawang, Rempeyek, Kerepek, Kuih Ros, Kuih Deram.

And it is in these kampungs in Johor that I get my dose of excellent Mi Bandung, Nasi Goreng Daging, Mi Rebus Johor, Pepes Ayam (similar to Otak-Otak but is made of chicken instead of fish), ABC Degan (Javanese for coconut).

If you visit the houses of the aristocrats down in Johor Bahru, you’d get to sample the rarely-made Harissa which is a concoction of either tenderised beef or lamb meat cooked with oats for three hours, and is served with sambal and honey.  Not many Johoreans have tasted the Harissa.

Before the Kedahans slam me, remember that I said (apart from Hari Raya) Kedah food is excellent too.  In the early 1990s I would frequent the Nats (morning markets or called Pasar Tani elsewhere) and the Pasar Malam – Tuesdays in Kepala Batas, Wednesdays in Changlun, Thursdays in Tanah Merah, Fridays in Napoh and Sundays in Pekan Jitra. The locals call it PJ.  Coincidentally, PJ is right next to KL– Kubang Lembu.

It was at the Pasar Malam that I would get my supply of fresh meat and Ikan Kembung, and my favourite Kuey Teow Kerang.

A whole plate of Ikan Kembung cost RM2 a plateful. The eyes and skin were shining, gills pink.

Imagine the bitterness I felt when I was transferred to Kuala Lumpur and the Ikan Kembung had to be weighed before it was sold, red sunken eyes, darkened gills, slimy with strong fishy odour.  And costs a lot more than in Kedah, too!

So, no matter where you are, food soothes the soul.

And in times like this, if you feel down, just Google what you want to eat, Waze for the place, and make your day.

I promise you, you will end your day feeling much better.

(This article was first published by The Mole)

Perlukah Adanya JITN?

Pada bulan Julai 2017, Perdana Menteri telah mengumumkan bahawa unit-unit integriti dan tadbir urus akan diwujudkan di semua syarikat-syarikat GLC dan akan dikawalselia oleh Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM).  Ini selaras dengan tugas-tugas SPRM yang termaktub di dalam Akta SPRM.

Ucapan Najib Razak yang menyebut unit-unit integriti dan tadbir urus akan dikawalselia oleh SPRM

Walau bagaimanapun, Menteri Di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Paul Low pula telah umumkan dua bulan kemudian bahawa kabinet telah bersetuju untuk menubuhkan Jabatan Integriti dan Tadbirurus Negara (JITN) yang akan diletakkan di bawah pentadbiran beliau.

Ini nyata bercanggah dengan pengumuman yang telah dibuat Najib Razak dua bulan sebelum itu.  Percanggahan ini telah mencetuskan rasa tidak puas hati di antara Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad dengan Paul Low dan mengakibatkan sebuah NGO bernama Pertubuhan Belia Generasi Mahkota (PEMBELA) membuat laporang terhadap Ketua Pesuruhjaya MACC itu kerana melawan cakap Menteri.

Yang menjadi tanda-tanya adalah keperluan untuk membentuk sebuah jabatan hanya untuk penambahbaikan integriti dan tadbir urus Kementerian-Kementerian serta GLC-GLC sedangkan jentera-jentera kerajaan yang sedia ada termasuk SPRM sudah boleh menangani ketirisan, ketidak-cekapan serta membanteras perbuatan rasuah.  Apa yang perlu dilakukan hanyalah untuk ketua-ketua jabatan serta GLC menentukan segala kelemahan yang telah dikenalpasti oleh Ketua Audit Negara diambil tindakan segera dengan membentuk jawatankuasa dari kalangan juruaudit dalaman setiap jabatan dan melaporkan kemajuan dan kelemahan kepada unit-unit yang telah disebutkan oleh Najib Razak.

Difahamkan setakat ini memang sudah ada pegawai-pegawai SPRM yang terlatih sebagai Pegawai Integriti Terlatih (CIO) yang ditempatkan di jabatan-jabatan kerajaan.  Bagaimanapun, Paul Low bercadang untuk menempatkan seramai 20 orang pegawai tadbir dan diplomatik (PTD) menggantikan kesemua CIO SPRM yang telah bertugas di unit-unit tersebut.

Ini bermakna, 20 orang PTD ini terpaksa dilatih sebagai CIO, manakala SPRM perlu membuat perjawatan-perjawatan baru untuk menyerap para CIO mereka yang tidak akan mempunyai sebarang jawatan.  Ini sahaja akan melibatkan kos tambahan kerana akan terdapat perjawatan baru.

Bukan itu sahaja, malah dakwaan Paul Low bahawa penubuhan JITN tidak akan memberi kesan kepada SPRM juga nyata terpesong kerana sudah tentu akan ada perubahan struktur organisasi serta tanggungjawab-tanggungjawab yang telah diberikan kepada SPRM melalui Akta SPRM.

Melalui akta apakah kuasa JITN diperolehi?

Pada masa yang sama, persoalan yang timbul ialah bagaimana 20 orang ini boleh memantau kesemua jabatan dan GLC milik kerajaan dengan berkesan?  Adakah ini bermakna kerajaan perlu melantik konsultan luar untuk membantu pengurusan unit-unit di bawah JITN?  Saya tidak yakin bahawa integriti dan penambahbaikan tadbir urus jabatan-jabatan kerajaan serta GLC dapat dilakukan dengan baik oleh hanya 20 orang!

Tugas JITN juga akan melibatkan latihan integriti kepada para pegawai dan kakitangan kerajaan, iaitu satu peranan yang sememangnya telah diberikan oleh Akta SPRM kepada SPRM.  Adakah JITN akan menggunakan 20 orang PTDnya yang dipertanggung jawabkan untuk mengawalselia integriti dan tadbir urus jabatan-jabatan kerajaan dan GLC juga untuk menjalankan latihan-latihan integriti?  Atau adakah JITN akan membayar konsultan luar untuk menjalanjan peranan ini?  Di bawah akta apakah akan latihan ini dijalankan?

Di Akademi Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (MACA) juga terdapat sebuah sistem iaitu Sistem Pengurusan Anti Rasuah (ABMS) yang diseliakan oleh CIO-CIO dari SPRM.  Sistem ini memerlukan latihan dan pensijilan khusus untuk mengendalikannya.  Maka, adakah sebuah lagi konsultan akan dipanggil untuk mengendalikan sistem ini, atau adakan sebuah konsultan akan dipanggil untuk mengadakan sebuah lagi sistem yang akan memakan lagi belanja wang rakyat?

Kita maklum bahawa Paul Low sudah berada di penghujung perkhidmatannya sebagai seorang Menteri. Khidmat beliau sebagai seorang Senator akan berakhir pada bulan Mei 2019.  Oleh itu, beliau tidak akan lagi dilantik sebagai seorang Menteri selepas Pilihanraya Umum Ke-14.  Ini membawa kita kepada persoalan adakah Paul Low menggunakan penubuhan JITN ini sebagai rancangan persaraannya?

Pada 2 Oktober 2017, Perikatan Integriti Perniagaan (BIA) telah menandatangani sebuah MOU dengan Jabatan Perdana Menteri (Bahagian Integriti adalah di bawah Paul Low) kerana dilantik menjadi “rakan” kerajaan untuk menjadi pemudahcara bagi pihak kerajaan untuk membanteras perbuatan rasuah di sektor swasta dan sektor awam yang nyata penindihan tanggungjawab dengan SPRM.

Berapa yang kerajaan perlu bayar untuk mereka menjalankan tugas pemudahcara tersebut?

Business Integrity Alliance (BIA) dilantik sebagai pemudahcara pihak kerajaan untuk membanteras rasuah. Adakah ini SPRM kedua yang menjadi salah satu rekaan Paul Low untuk rancangan persaraannya?

Paul Low telah lama berbincang dengan pihak BIA mengenai penubuhan JITN ini.  Pertemuan mereka pertama kali diadakan pada bulan Disember 2016 semasa bersarapan bersama-sama.

Makan-makan dan cari makan bersama

Pentadbiran baru SPRM sejak setahun lalu gandingan mantap Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad dengan timbalan-timbalan Ketua Pesuruhjayanya telah membuahkan hasil yang tidak pernah kita lihat berlaku sebelum ini.

Dalam sembilan bulan pertama tahun ini sahaja sebanyak RM21.4 juta wang hasil rasuah telah dirampas, iaitu kenaikan 400 peratus berbanding dengan tahun sebelumnya.  Sebelum pucuk pimpinan SPRM diambil alih oleh Tan Sri Dzulkifli, SPRM hanya berjaya merampas RM4.95 juta pada tahun lepas dan RM3.9 juta tahun 2015.  Ini menunjukkan bahawa SPRM kini lebih tegas dalam hal pembanterasan rasuah berbanding dengan tahun-tahun sebelum ini sedangkan perbuatan rasuah yang melibatkan pegawai-pegawai kerajaan dan syarikat-syarikat kerajaan.

Kalau JITN itu bagus, kenapa sebanyak 50 NGO dan tokoh-tokoh integriti seperti Ramon Navaratnam, Lee Lam Thye dan Tunku Aziz membantah penubuhan JITN?

Ingat pesanan Allahyarham Tun Razak buat penjawat awam

Pada tahun 1967, Perdana Menteri Malaysia Ke-2 Allahyarham Tun Haji Abdul Razak bin Hussein telah memberitahu para penjawat awam suaya tidak tunduk kepada para ahli politik kerana di dalam sebuah demokrasi para penjawat awam mempunyai tanggungjawabnya tersendiri.

Saya yakin Najib Razak benar-benar ingat akan pesanan Allahyarham Ayahandanya.  Itulah sebab beliau terus membuat ucapan pada bulan Julai 2017 tersebut dengan tujuan menentukan SPRM terus bebas dari sebarang pengaruh politik.

Sekiranya itulah kebenarannya, adakah Najib Razak yang mempengerusikan mesyuarat kabinet di mana Paul Low telah mengusulkan rancangan persaraannya ini supaya diterima dan dipersetujui oleh para menteri kabinet yang tiada sebarang petunjuk atau maklumat mengenai perkara ini sebelum ianya diperbincangkan?

Jika benar tanggapan saya bahawa Najib Razak tidak mempengerusikan mesyuarat kabinet tersebut, adakah ini bermakna PEMBELA telah tersilap dalam langkahnya membuat laporan polis terhadap Tan Sri Dzulkifli sedangkan yang melanggar kemahuan Najib Razak ialah Paul Low sendiri?

Inilah jawapan yang perlu kita cari untuk merungkaikan permasalahan ini.

House Of Fishball

We found this place by chance. We were going to the foodcourt at Uptown, PJ, but the preferred stall was closed for the day. So, Komar suggested we meet at a fishball place that is just across the road from the foodcourt, two lots from Starbucks.

It is called The House of Fishball.

Tang's House of Fishball
Tang’s House of Fishball

Okay, we got funny looks the first time we walked into this place, much like when I stepped into a chinese vegetarian restaurant in Green Town, Ipoh. I was the only malay who ate in that place.

And this time,we got the same looks from people who were chow-ing down; but the owner was all warm and welcomed us with open arms. And we had no reason to be afraid of brainless people who go around throwing molotov cocktails at places they deem unIslamic…

…as this place is as HALAL as you can get (as a matter of fact, I’d think about eating at some so-called malay-operated stalls).

The place is run by one Mohd Haikal Tang, a chinese-Muslim from JB who is married to a Muar-born wife. The ingredients are preservatives-free and are prepared fresh. Even the fishballs do not have that springy feel to it because of the absence of Boric Acid.

What To Eat Here?

Among the things we’ve eaten here include:

Yong Tau Fu – choose your ingredients. They come in a bowl of soup that will not leave you feeling thirsty later because there is no MSG in it. I know because I am sensitive to MSG.

MSG-free Yong Tau Fu
MSG-free Yong Tau Fu

Fried Wantan – this 1000kg meal is also good both as your main course, or just for snacking. It is made of fish, and tastes good too!

Fried Wantan
Fried Wantan

Nasi Lemak – they have excellent Nasi Lemak here. You can choose between the plain ones, or complemented by chicken rendang, beef rendang, or sambal sotong.

Nasi Lemak with Chicken Rendang
Nasi Lemak with Chicken Rendang

Nasi Lemak with Beef Rendang
Nasi Lemak with Beef Rendang

Nasi Lemak with Sambal Sotong
Nasi Lemak with Sambal Sotong

Dry Homeland Noodle – the dry homeland noodle is good. You should try this too if you still have space in your tummy.

Dry Homeland Noodle
Dry Homeland Noodle

Fish Noodles with Fried Chee Cheong Fun – this one was intriguing: noodles made out of fish. Wifey had this and said the taste was good. I will have to believe her as she is the expert on food in this house.

Fried Fish Noodles with Chee Cheong Fun
Fried Fish Noodles with Chee Cheong Fun

Celery Noodles – another intriguing one: the noodles is made of flour and celery. It tastes deliciously fresh sans the noodle-y taste. You know how those yellow noodles have that aftertaste? This one IS good.

Celery Noodles
Celery Noodles

Mee Rebus – this Mee Rebus is not to be missed. Not exactly Mee Rebus Hj Wahid or the Mee Rebus Stulang Laut in JB, but this would be a good substitute while in KL.

Mee Rebus
Mee Rebus

For dessert, I would highly recommend the Red Beans with Glutinous Rice Balls, and the Winter Melon with Longan. I have yet to taste the Tau Foo Fah as that always run out, even when we were there by 7.30pm. Therefore, my guess is it is that good.

Red Beans with Glutinous Rice Balls
Red Beans with Glutinous Rice Balls

Winter Melon with Longan
Winter Melon with Longan

How To Get There

The best way is to enter Damansara Uptown via the Police Station. Go straight and turn left towards the food court. You should be able to see the place on your left after Starbucks.

Be warned. It opens around 8.30am and closes around 11pm. It is always full during lunch and early dinner. But you will get a 20 percent discount off all items after 9.30pm because what is cooked today, does not get served tomorrow!

The way to Tang's House of Fishball

Nasi Ganja

“Vangga! Vangga!”

That is how the waiters of the Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah stall would call out to customers, lending the other nickname to this famous stall: NASI VANGGEY

Yong Suan Restaurant on Jalan Yang Kalsom

Located inside the Restoran Yong Suan, on Jalan Yang Kalsom, Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah is also called NASI GANJA; not because it has any illegal ingredients in it, but because the taste is addictive. I will not go into the history of this place; all I know is I have been eating this stuff since I was little.

The array of dishes

A typical Nasi Ganja meal would consist of a plate of rice complemented by the specially-prepared chicken (it takes 8 hours to prepare the chicken), lady’s finger, curry, and the ganja: coconut and mint sambal, without which the rice would taste like any other nasi kandar.

The typical Nasi Ganja plate

The GANJA (coconut and mint sambal)

Of course, I have my personal preference.

My personal preference

For thirst-quenching drink, try the Limau Asam Boi.

HOW TO GET THERE

If you are from either the North or the South, exit at Ipoh (where you can see a TESCO Extra on your left if you are coming from the North, and right if you are coming from the South). Go straight on Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, until you see a flyover ahead of you and Hospital Pantai Putri on your left. Keep left until you get to a traffic light junction and turn right at the traffic light into Jalan Raja DiHilir.

Tambun Inn should by now be on your left to confirm that you are on Jalan Raja DiHilir. Go straight across a roundabout until you hit a traffic light junction. On the right is a police station (Balai Polis Pekan Baru). Here, turn left into Jalan Yang Kalsom. Restoran Yong Suan should by now be on your left.

The way to Yong Suan

Be there before lunch break for you to eat in relative peace. From 1pm onwards, be prepared to share a table with strangers. I have seen people queuing up for food here at 3pm. That is how good the food is here.

Demonic Capsicum Stuffed With Mandi Kerbau Wulululu Rice

We had a Laksa Johor do the other day…Wifey made that, so I added my usual Corned Beef Fried Rice, and made this new recipe of mine based on the Middle Eastern/Greek Stuffed Capsicum. I call it the Demonic Capsicum Stuffed With Mandi Kerbau Wulululu Rice. So here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

Corned Beef
Middle Easterners and Greeks use lamb. Since I am hypertensive, I use Corned Beef (so I do not have to add salt to what already gives me hypertension)

Dill, Mint and Mixed Herbs
Dill, Mint and Mixed Herbs

Other ingredients
Shredded Omelette, Diced Garlic and Chili. Middle Easterners prefer lots of onions. I did not add onions because I totally forgot about them.

Thai Fragrant Rice
I know they use Basmati rice, but I only had Thai Fragrant Rice at home

Capsicums
Capsicum (I know Americans call them Bell Peppers, but the language was made in England). Slice the top off neatly, remove the seeds, and adjust the bottom so they’re stable.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Add this only if you must
Add this if you are cooking this for your lawyer, ex-spouse, or mother-in-law

How To Make

Preheat oven at 250 degrees. I know the rest use 300 degrees, but our little portable oven goes up to 250 only. If your oven is not electrically-fired, then you may use this:

Fire Starter
Cock Brand Fire Starter

At the same time, saute the garlic and chili for about 20 seconds before adding the corned beef. Mix well until corned beef is brown. Then add rice, and stir to mix well.

Frying the corned beef
Frying the ingredients

Once that is done, stuff the empty capsicums with the fried rice and top each with the shredded omelette.

Stuff the capsicums
Stuff the capsicums with the fried rice

After that, close the top, and pour olive oil onto each of the capsicums so that they don’t shrivel or get too burnt inside the oven.

Pour olive oil
Pour Olive Oil onto each of the capsicums

Then stuff the lot into the oven for 20 minutes.

Stuff them into the oven
Stuff them into the oven for 20 minutes

Serve when done
Serve when done

It Is The End

Tomorrow, 14th July 2008, will be the last day of this blog before it is taken offline. I have decided not to carry on with this blog anymore.

It has been a great weekend as far as Yummy Baby and I are concerned. My kids spent one whole day with her and her kids (24 hours), had BBQ together with our good friends, bloggers, divers and non-divers alike. It was good to see people like Walking Vibrator, Spena, DNAS and hubby (and kids), Gemgem Odorono Corleone, Siti Nur Estina Elysha, Neomesuff, Lina Hasbullah, Rina Madonna Ciccone, Fin, Liverpool Babe, Gombak4Life, Rainmaker, Feisal, Baby Setan, Accord Buruk, Chor, She, Zimm, Oja and her cousin. The whole thing ended at around 3am with Fin being the last one to leave. The fact that our kids clicked, and she is loved by them strenghtens this relationship even further.

Today also, my final attempt at bridging the differences between my parents and I have failed tremendously. Therefore I shall not pursue this matter anymore. It has been a year since we fell apart; various attempts have failed before, it has now failed for the last time even with my daughter making the plea. So, that’s it.

I can only look forward to begin sharing my life with Yummy Baby. In two weeks time we will be migrating, and I am not going to look back anymore. In this second half of this lifetime, I am going to concentrate on having a happy life, happier than it is now, with her, and my kids and hers.

To all whom have been supporting and reading this blog, I thank you for staying up to this point.

Take care, and may you live long and prosper.

As I Turn 42…Part 3

My birthday card from Yummy Baby

There are two things I would like to say before I continue with this posting:

1. Thank you all who wished me on my birthday…I was overwhelmed with Facebook messages, Facebook wall messages, Yahoo! Messenger messages, 163 SMS text messages, comments on this blog. Thank you again. My birthday ended an hour and a half ago but I am still receiving messages wishing me a happy belated birthday.

2. I share the grief of my two great friends, Gombak4Life and Liverpool Babe. Sorry for your loss.

Yummy Baby is now sound asleep. Yes, sleeping with sound. She worked hard today, attended a breakfast forum after braving the jam, then braved the jam again to get to Marks & Sparks (yes we UK students call it that) to get me my birthday present and card, then braved the jam again to get to office for her meeting, before braving the jam again at 6.45pm to get home and prepare for our dinner outing tonight. She fell asleep in the middle of a conversation just now.

Onagi

Initially we had wanted to go to either the Tamarind Springs or Nippon Tei. Then I mentioned that I do not quite like expensive food, but would rather go for the same kind of food for less. So we made for this little Japanese restaurant called Onagi. Luckily we did so. The food’s more delicious, there’s more to choose from the menu, and definitely value for money. We shared a plate of Tuna Sashimi, Kaki Fried, while she went for Chicken Teriyaki and I went for the Salmon Butteryaki. It was a nice dinner for two and this has been the first birthday outing I had had in years. Very thoughtful of her.

Tuna SashimiJuicy oysters

Thank you, Sayang, for the wonderful dinner, wonderful company, the birthday present, the lovely birthday card. I hope to have more wonderful birthdays over the years to come…with you.

I love you, Baby.

Chawanmushi

Of Super Nacet And Gillette, And Fine Dining

I had one of those nothing-to-do-but-just-want-to-get-close-to-you talks with Yummy Baby recently when the topic changed to women who fleece men. The terminology used here is ketuk. In the old days, they were called pisau cukur (razor). Is fleece the correct term, Idlan? Yummy Baby thinks that the trips she’s been with me was a form of ketuking as it was all paid for; but I said no, as it was more like a hubby-wifey kind of trip. She then said that wives do ketuk husbands. I said only wives who do not love husbands do that. It is okay to want something. But to demand something beyond or just within the ability for the husband to pay is too much, in my not-very-humble opinion.

Anyway, I told Yummy Baby about the times I was fleeced (and almost fleeced) by women. When I was a Lieutenant, earning about RM800 (basic) + RM115 (allowance), I befriended this daughter of a Datuk. Although she was only a management trainee at a company in the Golden Triangle, her ego and status got the best of her. The first lunch date was at a fancy restaurant. After lunch, she dragged me to this department store where she had booked a bottle of D&G perfume, and asked me to pay. Bloody hell! That was more than a quarter of my basic pay. The second time I thought I’d get back at her by asking her to meet me at Sungei Wang Plaza for cheap KFC. She outsmarted me by booking a dress at a nearby boutique and asked me to pay for it. She purposely chose the route where we would have to pass in front of the boutique to get to KFC and she’d go, “Eh, that dress is beautiful!” and then walk in there and tell the shopowner that I’ve arrived to pay. The third time, she asked me for lunch at a off-the-beaten-path located restaurant. Fine by me. Then when she started to talk about a marble-top dining table for her new apartment near the polo club from a furniture center not too far away from the restaurant, I finally said, “Yes.” with the sweetest smile. Ten minutes after finishing my food, I excused myself to go to the gents, and never saw her again. Luckily this was during the pre-mobile phone period. I never saw her again, and nor did I get to see the bill for that expensive seafood lunch.

After my first divorce, I got to know this sweet looking executive from a public-listed transport company. Very demure, tudung-wearing, sweet thing, from Kamunting. Her place of origin should have been a warning to me, but I failed to see that. The first date was a shared cup of Jelly Ice Cream at KFC. It ended on a good note and I was allowed to drive her home. One day, she called me and asked me to meet her at a jeweller’s inside Sogo. I asked her why, and she replied that she dreamt that her ex-boyfriend was jealous of us seeing each other and would cast a black magic spell on her. The only way for that to be avoided is by my buying her a gold ring of her choice. I smelt something fishy and it had nothing to do with the underwater world, or a vagina laden with yeast. But since I was away in Johor to do a job, I told her to buy the ring first and I would mail her the cheque. She purchased the ring and told me the amount was around RM2K. That night, I e-mailed her a jpeg image of the cheque.

So, for you guys who keep getting fleeced by women who like fine things and fine dining, I suggest you take her to Uncle Ho’s Fine Foods located at the Midvalley Megamall. Each plate of mixed babi (taking Icecool’s words) cost RM200++. And it is good food.

Mixed Babi
Mixed Babi Plates

No points for presentation
No points for presentation. But the taste? HO SEK!

Icecool, we should do this again la. Lama dah. October was the last time.

A Morning Without Reason, A Posting Without Structure

Nisaa got up at 7am, about half an hour ago, asking for a bottle of milk. Only she and I are in this room. Farhan and Alim are in Hana’s and Iqa’s room, while Fazira has gone back to Kedah to be with her mom this school holidays. I feel a bit guilty for not taking them anywhere for holidays this year, but it would be somewhat difficult to handle 6 kids single-handedly without a mother tagging along. I have experienced this last year when I (had no choice and) took them to Pulau Bidong with me – minus the maid. All of us slept in tents, weathered a full-blown storm one of the nights, that saw some other tents fly off in the middle of the night; my kids slept soundly. Must be because of the pleasant cool ambience created by the storm. But it isn’t easy being a father and mother at the same time, juggling the kids needs, and the fact that I had to do my job underwater all at the same time.

And here I am, at home, as both their father and mother, at 7.40am, still awake after getting up at 5.30am for that dreadful drive back home.

In two days time, I shall immerse myself in sea water again. It has been more than two months since I went on a recreational dive trip; and the last time I was at an exotic island location somewhere was diving because of work. I need to go back underwater to look at the fishes…just look at them whizzing by without any apparent thought of where to go and what-not. Just swim and eat.

I am normally cranky when I do not get to dive for more than a month; Yummy Baby got the brunt of that the other day. However, she was quick to soothe this troubled aquatic soul. For a long, long time I have never had anyone who could calm me down and make me smile. I may be biased, but it is true. It’s one of her ways to winning my heart – her warm and sincere smile, apart from being a great cook, that is. The way to a man’s heart (well, at least mine) is through his tummy; not by putting on porn movies on the DVD player (although complemented by good food would result in a back-breaking but wonderfully delicious night). I don’t know. I have yet to watch porn while eating. I can’t imagine having sambal tumis petai and white rice on my private part. That would be disastrously acrid in taste for some people. Coming back to the track, no one has ever showered me with so much love as the one I now receive from Yummy Baby; and the good thing is, she’s genuine and she is not married. So the danger of being talked into marriage and dumped some months later is very remote.

Another issue that is giving out acrid smoke is the increase in world crude oil price. The government is talking about reviewing the oil subsidy – a smoke-screen term for “let’s increase fuel price.” Can’t blame them. It is beyond their control. However, they should take steps in making people use NGV more, since we produce a lot of NGV. Then decree that ALL PETRONAS stations sell NGV.

The loss of the Pulau Batu Puteh is now hotly debated in the Parliament. Some opposition MPs have lodged a police report against the Attorney-General for his failure to win the case. Some cited the fact that now the livelihood of the Johor fishermen will be affected. Silly. I simply fail to comprehend their grasp of local history. The stupid fucks we elected should realise that no Johor fishermen have been allowed to fish in the areas of the Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and the South Ledge for decades now. We did not lose Pulau Batu Puteh because we had a weak team; we lost it because someone, in 1953, screwed up in his letter-writing, and caused the nation to lose an island more than half a century later. The stupid fucks should also realise that we did not lose, WE WON SOMETHING. Singapore lost something to Malaysia. Now Johor fishermen can fish in the area of the Middle Rocks. Why complain?

Anyway, it is still too early in the morning for me to get upset. Alim is up and is watching ASTRO Ceria downstairs. Farhan is still asleep with his elder sisters, while Nisaa is still here curled up next to me.

I feel like eating Maggi now.

The perils of being both father and mother.

A Unique Experience

Went for a seafood binge at Unique. We had fried asparagus, 2kg of Alaskan Spider Crab (half baked in creamy butter sauce, the other half cooked Kam Heong, baked oysters in cheese (one dozen), raw oysters (half dozen), steamed garoupa/grouper/kerapu, boiled Tiger Prawns, followed by Sea Coconut with Longan dessert. Good binge and a four-figure bill!

Unique indeed
The venue

Boiled tiger prawns
Boiled Tiger Prawns

Steamed Garoupa
Steamed Garoupa

Asparagus
Aspalela Abdullah Asparagus

Baked Oysters in Cheese
Baked Oyster In Cheese

Raw oyster
Raw Oyster

Alaskan King Crab baked in creamy butter sauce
Alaskan King Crab baked in creamy butter sauce

Alaskan King Crab Kam Heong
Kam Heong Alaskan King Crab

Sea Coconut and Longan
Sea Coconut and Longan