26 July 2012

Travel Picks: Top 10 cities for street food

As compiled by virtualtourist.com.

With the victor being Bangkok, fist runner-up Singapore and 2nd runner-up Penang.

Our beautiful Penang, Pearl of the Orient. White sandy beaches, tourist magnet, fabulous food.

It's good to see unity when one's country or its products are reviewed (whether real or perceived) negatively, with leaders and citizens vocalising support for their beloved land/ food/ heritage...

 It's OK that virtualtourist.com ranked Penang's street food behind that of Singapore's. Understandably we are upset that Singapore's street food (??) came out ahead of us. We are more gracious about Bangkok winning.

But its OK because everyone has different taste preferences. And different sight preferences.

Maybe Singapore's food just LOOKS better. Maybe the hawker centres are cleaner. Maybe they're air-conditioned. Maybe all the price tags are displayed and in English. Maybe all the servers are appropriately attired in white, and aprons and caps. All tourist gimmicks, that work.

Maybe virtualtourist.com's methodology was flawed. Who provided the feedback from which the list was compiled? Caucasians? Asians?

In my frank opinion (no offence meant) I don't trust Caucasian taste buds with Asian food.

Example: When we were in Ireland last year, we knew that within a week of setting foot in Ireland, the elderly folk would be hankering for Chinese food. So my hubs dutifully did his online research and voila! During our stop in Limerick, he took us all to a Chinese restaurant that Trip Advisor claimed was excellent. As soon as I stepped into the place, I gave hubs the look. 99% of the diners there were Whites. Not a good sign.  

Verdict? The food was BAD if our Chinese/ Asian taste buds are to be the judge. Everything there was tailored to please the Caucasian palate. Sweet and sour this, lemon this and lemon that, black pepper this and black pepper that....!

So, it's OK...virtualtourist.com can have its lost, I mean, list, of top 10 cities for street food. But we all know that Penang food is the BEST!

By way of notation, I ordered wan ton mee in Singapore once. Now you all know that wan ton mee comes with pickled green chillies right?! Mine was served with chilly sauce! I rest my case about Singapore street food.....

20 July 2012

2 bad pineapples

I mean, literally.

I bought 2 pineapples from a fruiterer, Hock Lee ( I think) yesterday. It's located outside, and in front of, the central market in Ipoh, facing the market's fish section/ noodles and bean sprouts vendors. The fruiterer had just received a whole new truck load of delicious-looking pineapples yesterday morning.

It must be pineapple season as I see pineapples everywhere.

Anyway, the fruiterer and his workers were busy dealing with the new delivery and couldn't assist me in picking a suitable fruit. All he said, in Chinese, was that they should all be excellent as they are freshly delivered. I selected 2 to the best of my abilities.

And found my abilities wanting.

For this afternoon, when my maid cut the fruit for an after lunch sweetener, they were both soft, slightly brown and oozing within. I was upset as both of them were bad. I could accept if just one of them was rotten but now we couldn't eat any!

So I popped them into a clear bag, intent on getting a replacement. Now, refunds and replacements are common place in big established retailers like Tesco, Carrefour, Woolworth and Coles. But at a local Chinese fruiterer? I don't know, but this is the second bad pineapple purchase in just as many weeks, and I would really like to eat a good pineapple!

I arrived at the shop, found a park very quickly and click-clacked into the shop briskly, pineapple bag in hand. The fruiterer himself was just emerging from the back of his shop when we came face to face. Without any hesitation, or other ado, I handed him my bag and said politely in Chinese, "Sir, please pick 2 nice pineapples for me to replace these." He did not look annoyed, he did not look like he was going to object. He might have looked slightly startled.Was it my demeanor, my Chinese or my strange request?

The fruiterer took my bag and quietly asked me which type of pineapple I had picked. I indicated to the appropriate ones. He reached for a bag, quickly selected 2 ripening pineapples, put them into the bag and handed them to me. I took it and thanked him.

That was simple, quick and neat. End of transaction. I'll go back there again for future purchases seeing as to how the fruiterer had passed the customer satisfaction test.

Maybe I should have looked at the Fruit & Produce Guide before I went pineapple shopping. They say that:
  • Size does not indicate ripeness.
  • That being said, larger pineapples have a higher percentage of edible fruit and offer more “bang for the buck” for your grocery dollars.
  • Smell the pineapple for a sweet, fragrant scent.
  • Tug at the top, middle leaves.  They will pull off easily from a fresh pineapple.
  • Pineapples should be stored at room temperature.
  • They spoil quickly, so eat within 1-2 days of purchase.
  • What you bought is what you get.  Pineapples will not ripen any further at home.
  • You can refrigerate fresh cut pineapple, but keep it in an airtight plastic bag.  Eat within 3-4 days.
We ate the pineapple tonight, and it was sweet and fine. We will have enough to make juice tomorrow. I am happy.

(pictures from http://fruitandproduceguide.com/blog/pineapples/, http://variouscooking-recipes.blogspot.com/2012/04/pineapple-juice.html)

Children and braces

It's almost a given these days that our kids will, at some point, wear braces on their teeth, so their teeth will look nice and more importantly function properly with no overbite, underbite or other dental problems.

Thing is, kids wearing braces are getting younger and younger.

We used to be in our teens in secondary or middle school before the metal went in. But I read that kids as young as 7 or 8 are fitted with expanders, spacers, maintainers and/ or braces. Of course, it's a live debate and the jury is still out.

Some parents are advised that the earlier the child gets the braces, the less pain, inconvenience and shorter the duration will be. But the Wall Street Journal reported that since 1990, three randomized clinical trials—at the University of Florida involving 261 children, at the University of North Carolina involving 166 children and at the University of Manchester, England, involving 174 children—found early treatment of Class II Malocclusions (the most common problem of overbite or buck teeth) was less efficient than treatment that began in adolescence. And sometimes a second round of braces is needed when the child becomes a teenager - double dose of pain!

I can't speak for dental practitioners overseas, but here in Malaysia (well namely KL, Selangor and Ipoh I know for sure), many GP dentists offer orthodontics treatments along with a whole list of specialised treatments. Dental professionals who go on to specialize spend extra years (and sweat and $$) to learn in-depth extra knowledge and skills for their chosen speciality. While the GP dentists "learn on the job".

It just doesn't seem right that GP dentists intrude into their fellow colleagues' fields.

I write this out of concern that some parents, rightly anxious over the state of their children's teeth, jump the gun at the single advice of a dentist and proceed with orthodontics treatment while their child's baby teeth still outnumber the permanent teeth! I found the information on Pediatric Dentistry informative.

And there are dentists who take the easy and fast way by suggesting multiple extractions to make space, rather than slowly working their way through the maze of teeth. A friend of mine who lives abroad (you know who you are!) had a short discussion with me about her teenage daughter who is just commencing her orthodontics treatment. Before going ahead with the treatment, my friend had wisely sought advice from other friends and also a second opinion from a different dentist, whose advice vastly differed from the first one she consulted.

Here in Ipoh, we had visited Kwan Dental Surgery in Ipoh Garden South. For a regular check and cleaning, as well as for orthodontics assessment.

The first job was a standard procedure, which I found was done rather crudely (check out my post on Hunting for a Dentist in Ipoh). The second job was done by the Surgery's regular visiting orthodontist. Maybe it was just a busy day, and not her best. First, there appeared to be no queue system and I had to inform the reception that we had been "jumped over" several times. When it was our turn, the orthodontist took one look at the set of teeth in question ( my domestic helper's, actually) and said "It can't be done. There will be no perceptible improvement after the braces. This needs a whole TEAM including a dental surgeon, jaw specialist etc. etc." I was shocked at her assessment. (We have dentists in the family.)

Undaunted, I took my helper for a second opinion. The other dental professional undertook the task, dismissing the Kwan Dental Surgery's specialist opinion. It is now one year later, and my helper looks so different and is so happy with her teeth. Before, it really  bothered her how she looked. She is almost 30 (I know, she's not a kid, but I wanted to highlight the huge difference in professional opinion and action).

Which goes to show that you need to go for a second opinion. Don't be shy. Ask friends, acquaintances, family. It's your teeth, your smile. Your choice.

(pictures from majordentalchicago.com, balesortho.blogspot.com, dentistry.about.com)

19 July 2012

Women's Safety

I am so touched and happy that so many of my women friends found my sharing of me becoming a near-crime victim useful, either as a reminder or just a connector between friends, woman-to-woman.

My son has come up with all sorts of ideas - "Mom, carry a pepper spray, keep a baseball bat in your car, go get a tazer". All enthusiastic musings of a child.

But really, what works is "when faced with danger, run!".

Even my son's Wing Chun kungfu master said the same thing. When another mom and I asked him whether he could, would or had fought with multiple attackers, he smiled wistfully and said, Em ho ta, chao sin! that is, don't fight, flee first.

The pepper spray: to be effective, we have to carry this in hand when walking to our cars, along with our car keys, hand bag slung over a shoulder, possibly holding the hand of a child and some shopping bags to boot. Would it be of any help in the event we are set upon?

The tazer: Don't think it's legal to carry one in Malaysia yet. Anyone knows about this?

Baseball bat:: No son, I don't think Mommy is going to actually bash up any guy who threatens me.

My previous employer had invited Captain Bala Supramaniam to give a talk on safety for women. It was tremendously helpful  and I think all who attended were grateful that HR thought to have this talk for the benefit of female staff.

I've sat down to think about safety before. Mine and the children, when I am out with them without my husband. Actually, even with my husband, I need to have a plan as I don't think an accompanying man can keep me any safer!

Parking: I try to park in a visible, lighted and busy spot. Not in a corner, next to a thick pillar or anywhere creepy.

Walking to my car: I keep looking around, and make it obvious that I AM LOOKING around. Walk fast, walk confidently.

Car keys: Always in hand, and with the sharp end of the key pointing outwards.

Shoes: When with my kids, I try to wear comfortable, flat soled shoes that won't trip me up. But on the other hand, high heels have its uses as a weapon.

Elevators: I observe the other passengers, type and number in total. If need be, I get out.

Handbag: If it isn't necessary, I try not to carry one. Just stuff enough cash into my pocket, and my handphone too. Or I carry a waist pouch. Sure, I don't look too elegant if you catch me on my routine outings around town, but hey, something's got to give. I always admire those ladies I see in full makeup, tight sexy clothes, killer heels and huge designer bags, laden down by jewellery too! Seems like they are the lucky ones who can strut their stuff without being mugged.

No fancy kungfu, just keep our wits!

(picture from http://tallackmartialarts.spreadshirt.com)

17 July 2012

Thank God I was safe

Crime can happen anytime, anywhere, without warning.

Our government tells us Malaysia is a safe country. They say that our rating in the Global Peace Index is respectable.

But what matters is how the citizen feels.

Do you feel safe? Do you feel that police presence is adequate to reduce street crime such as snatch thefts, muggings and kidnappings? Why are there more resident-initiated security systems being established in housing areas at the expense of, not the government, but out of the pocket of the man on the street?

Hishammuddin would do well to answer these wonderings.

I read that Capital FM will be airing a segment which touches on crime and how to stay safe, especially for women. It has been horrifying to read of the recent spate of deaths caused by senseless and barbaric snatch thieves, and the near kidnapping of a lady in a shopping mall car park in PJ, and of course the kidnap and release of the little Dutch boy in Mont Kiara.

Tears flow: Investigating officer Asst Supt Wong Yeut Oon sharing Lay Yong’s painful loss at the Penang Hospital mortuary. From the Star, 12 July 2012

My own experience happened in PJ.

Coming home around 8.30pm to my parent's house in PJ, I had just driven into the driveway. I was about to close the auto-gate but at the last minute decided not to, as I wasn't sure if there was enough space between my car and the gate, as my brother's car had taken up a fair a bit of the driveway in front of me.

It was dark as the street lights often fail to work, and our porch lights do not illuminate the entire stretch of the driveway. I left my engine running and alighted from my car, still in my work clothes and high heels. I walked to the rear of my car and assessed that there was enough space for the gate to close.

Just then, a motorcycle with 2 men on it, silently cruised by. They wore helmets.My hair stood on end, some instinct telling me danger was close. The motorcycle passed by my parents' gate but made a U-turn back. 

I pressed the gate control that was in my hand at the same moment that the pillion rider jumped off the bike and dashed towards the gate. I was gripped by the knowledge that I was going to be mugged, or worse.

In these moments of danger, things just don't move in normal time. The gate closed ever so slowly with a yawning gap big enough for a buffalo to stride through. The helmeted man was already standing in that very gap and moving towards me. What should I do?

I would not make it in time to the front door in my heels. Even if I did, I wouldn't be able to open it fast enough. I didn't want him inside the house with my parents, young children and brother there! The car! I spun on my heels and raced back to my car, hopped into my driver's seat, slammed the door shut and locked it, praying that I made it in time. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the helmeted head bobbing just outside the window of the rear passenger door on the left. I heard him trying the door handle.

I pressed my hand to my car's horn and continued honking it. I saw my brother and dad come to the front door. They were shouting. The helmeted guy hesitated amidst the commotion. With me safe inside my locked car, he turned round and ran back to his waiting partner outside. They rode off in the darkness.

That was a close call. In a worst case scenario, I could have just froze and stood there. The assailant could have just asked for my handbag, perhaps. Or maybe, he could have put a knife to my throat and walk me to the house, and threaten everyone inside. He could have gotten a lot more that way. He could have kidnapped someone. He could have asked to be driven to the nearest ATM for more.

Lots of scenarios.

Since then, I have developed a keen sense of hearing for the sound of motorbikes. I turn and stare at any motorcyclist near me on the streets. I walk further into the pedestrian footpaths on roads. I try to remember to sling my handbag on the shoulder away from the road and I try to remember to walk facing traffic.I look around before I walk to my parked car. I lock the car doors as soon as I get into my car.

Looking back, I now weigh my options. If I hadn't closed the gate and had just run back into my car, with that guy chasing me, I think I should put my car into reverse and run him over. Honest. He had intention to harm. He was trespassing. I would act in self-defence.

I think Malaysian drivers should be more proactive and helpful especially in light of the smash-and-grab robbers who smash car windows at red lights or junctions to grab stuff out of cars. Block off their escape path, nudge them off their bikes. It's true that public apathy has caused these thugs to become more brazen in doing what they do.

~ ~ this story was shared on Capital FM 88.9 on the Talk of the Town: Safety Special on 18 July 2012 by Joanne Kam and Xandria Ooi ~ ~

16 July 2012

The Thompson (Flora Tropika)

I felt like writing about houses today.

And houses in the prestigious Tiger Lane/ Thompson area, that is.

They are mushrooming like green grass after the rains. Not that I mean they are common or cheap like grass. Far from it.

I probably should have written about The Thompson first, as I believe it was The Thompson that kicked off the frenzied development activities in this area with their bungalows in a gated and guarded surrounding. Hot on its heels came The Enclave, the Somerset, Green Trees and Villa Gopeng.

And the revived low-rise condominium, Seven (though that is another species altogether). By the way, Seven is a rather spooky name if you've watched the movie of the same name starring Brad Pitt. Perhaps the developer didn't.

Back to The Thompson, by Taiko-Straits Developments Sdn Bhd.

The development started off as Flora Tropika, then along the way it morphed into The Thompson (with Flora Tropika tagging behind in less bold script), which I think is a cleaner, more to-the-point name than all these floral, tropical, green, woody names, don't you think?

Besides, one side of The Thompson is situated on Jalan Thompson (now Jalan Tun Dr Ismail), while the other side sits on Lorong Thompson (Lorong Tun Dr Ismail). So The Thompson makes sense.

The Thompson has its own clubhouse for residents and the usual green areas and playground. Each house has a land area ranging from 7,000sf to 12,000sf. I read from the Ipoh Echo that the houses now command a price above RM2 million! This must certainly be a milestone in the pricing for Ipoh houses.

If you take a drive along Jalan Kelab Golf and Jalan/ Lorong Thompson to view this development, you will see that the existing bungalows opposite The Thompson are very much larger. On average, the land size for each bungalow in this area is about 20,000sf!

So the Thompson houses look a little dwarfed, and The Thompson's front row on Lorong Thompson reminds me of rows of terraced houses in say, Bandar Utama in PJ.

It is an impressive housing project, no doubt, and successful to boot. Ipoh-ites are certainly well heeled theses days.
(pictures from 1malaysiaads.com)

Somerset at Thompson (Impiana Flora)

More on the gated, more expensive, larger dwellings around the Tiger Lane and Thompson Road area.

In the likes of The Enclave, the Somerset is a gated and guarded concept of living. It markets itself as being along Tiger Lane.

While the Enclave is truly on Tiger Lane, the Somerset is actually off Tiger lane. Quite a bit off, in fact. And of course the developer in its interview with the the Star did not mention that the Somerset neighbours a graveyard.

To provide a better ambience for homeowners, Kaizen Properties Sdn Bhd has constructed a high wall to fence-out the graveyard, thus blocking it from view - a necessary measure.

The Somerset comprises 2 1/2 storey semi-dees, and is a small development with only 18 units tucked at the end of Jalan Haji Marzuki. The developer punched another access through for homeowners so that they will have an option of either going through Jalan Haji Marzuki (which is a very narrow road, not very pleasant to drive on) or the new access, which borders the walled-off graveyard.

Being a small development, it of course lacks the grandeur of The Enclave and does not have any other natural scenic view to embellish it. The price for the houses starts from approx. RM795,000 each.

Perhaps in order to live with peace of mind in a gated environment, and within the Tiger Lane/ Thompson area, prospective buyers are happy to put up with a shortcoming or two. They must be, as I read that the Somerset is practically sold out.
(picture from kaizen.com.my)

The Enclave

House prices in Ipoh are definitely lower than those in the Klang Valley.

But in the last couple of years, developers have been pushing the envelope and begun to offer up-market, higher-end residences within gated communities.

The Enclave along the famous and historic Tiger Lane (now called Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah) is one such offering.

Prices start from RM800,000 for their semi-dees. Still significantly lower than any semi-dee one could get in the nicer PJ suburbs!

Facing Tiger Lane with the Royal Perak Golf Club's green as its backdrop, Rimbunan Raya Sdn Bhd uses these twin factors in its marketing, highlighting the Enclave's premium location. The housing area surrounding Tiger Lane and Ipoh's much loved Polo Grounds (Taman Rekreasi Sultan Abdul Aziz) is equivalent to KL's Damansara Heights and Kenny Hills.

Phase I of the Enclave has been completed and handed over to owners. The Enclave II is now being marketed on its website Enclave II.

Phase II houses still boast of having individual swimming pools. I haven't been back to the Enclave since I visited Phase I's showhouse. There, I saw the swimming pool. Which was (somewhat) larger than my fish pond. Perhaps phase II might have larger pools.

We noticed the Enclave had some problems with its guard house. For quite some time after completion of its first phase, and even after several owners moved into their homes, the guard house was not constructed. Instead, the poor guards had to sit out in the open!

During the day, the guards sheltered under large umbrellas and at night, they just sat under the starry starry sky. We should all appreciate security guards more, for what they have to go through, shouldn't we? It was a very strange situation. Some oversight, some dispute? Only the developer would know, and the home-owners.

Thankfully the guard house was finally built and completed this year.

If one is considering upgrading to a prestigious address, the Enclave is but one of several options now.
(picture from theenclave.com.my)

My car's strange suspension problem

I love my car.

It's compact, easy to drive, easy to park, with adequate boot space for marketing and hyper-marketing, roomy back seat for the kids, best of all with an elevated driving perspective. It's not even an expensive luxury car, but most people I know who have owned one don't like it. I must be the exception.

It has never given me any problems, but of course it is aging. We noticed some rust pieces falling off from the undercarriage, and since I have no intention of getting rid of it, hubs suggested I send it in for an anti-rust treatment. Just spraying a coating of anti-rust solution on the underside.

Simple enough and sensible I thought. So in went my trusty car and out it came.

I noticed it immediately.

My car's suspension seemed so much "harder" and firm. The ride was bumpy and I could feel every stone, rock or hole in the road. Before this, my shock absorbers were behaving normally and the ride was soft and comfortable. When I told my husband he said I must be imagining it. My kids and maid gave the same feedback as me when I took them to school the next morning.

When my husband test drove my car, he admitted something was amiss. As it happened, my car tyres were due for alignment and balancing. The tyre shop that got it done for my car remarked to my husband that the suspension seemed harder than normal too.

I called the anti-rust workshop. The elderly proprietor, known to us and familiar with our cars, said the anti-rust treatment should not interfere with my shock absorbers and that he didn't mess around with them either. He was earnest and sounded worried about my complaint. I have no reason not to believe him.

Principle Definition Goal Solution
Road Isolation The vehicle's ability to absorb or isolate road shock from the passenger compartment Allow the vehicle body to ride undisturbed while traveling over rough roads. Absorb energy from road bumps and dissipate it without causing undue oscillation in the vehicle.
Road Holding The degree to which a car maintains contact with the road surface in various types of directional changes and in a straight line (Example: The weight of a car will shift from the rear tires to the front tires during braking. Because the nose of the car dips toward the road, this type of motion is known as "dive." The opposite effect -- "squat" -- occurs during acceleration, which shifts the weight of the car from the front tires to the back.) Keep the tires in contact with the ground, because it is the friction between the tires and the road that affects a vehicle's ability to steer, brake and accelerate. Minimize the transfer of vehicle weight from side to side and front to back, as this transfer of weight reduces the tire's grip on the road.
Cornering The ability of a vehicle to travel a curved path Minimize body roll, which occurs as centrifugal force pushes outward on a car's center of gravity while cornering, raising one side of the vehicle and lowering the opposite side. Transfer the weight of the car during cornering from the high side of the vehicle to the low side.

So my husband turned to.....the internet, and his car forums. Information sharing in cyber space is very helpful. He found a discussion where a guy with the same make of car as mine complained of exactly the same thing!

Well, all the gurus and pros contributing to the discussion came to one explanation - that a relatively older car (mine is 8 years) would have worn absorbers and springs. When the car is jacked up for works such as an anti-rust spray, it would be suspended above ground for some time. Therefore, the tyres and springs are all dangling without support in mid air. When it is lowered back down to the ground, it could be that the shock absorber springs failed to contract back after being stretched, thus causing them to "seize" and no longer function properly. Some on the forum even attributed the problem to the brand of my car.

Sigh..............anti-rust spray done only to have my suspension springs give out. Service and absorber replacement next, I suppose.

(picture from suspensioncoil.com)

09 July 2012

Selfish Moms

In a selfish world, the selfish succeed.

I learned this from watching "Barbie:: A Christmas Carol" with my daughter. It was a delightful movie that had all the pretty things little girls like to see and of course, it tried to have a moral teaching within it. That the lead character Eden, in the end, realised that one does not always have to be selfish in pursuit of success or happiness.

It is important to put yourself first simply because you need to first love yourself, take care of yourself and respect yourself before you can achieve anything. Once you are able to do that, then with success and confidence, one may contribute to the wider circle of society beyond yourself and your family.

I was reminded of selfishness from a conversation with a couple of moms at yesterday's ballet class. Mom X indicated to another mom in the waiting area, Mom Z, whom she knew as their daughters attend the same class in school and also share the same tuition teacher for certain subjects. Mom X said that Mom Z was very concerned about her daughter's progress in school and extra curricular activities. Mom Z would send her daughter to every tuition or enrichment class imaginable, and her daughter recently emerged as the top student in her Standard One exams.

Mom X's main complaint about Mom Z was that while Mom Z would ask her and other moms about which tuition center or tuition teacher or piano teacher etc. their kids go to, she would never share the information with others when asked in return. Mom X said, exasperated,  that Mom Z would just reply "Oh, I don't know how to describe the tuition centre/ tuition teacher to you. I forgot la!"

True, a pretty lame answer.

Sadly there are many such people like Mom Z around. She perhaps believes that once she had found a great place to hone her children's skills or intelligence, then she must keep it a top secret lest other people's kids receive the same extra coaching and threaten her child's shining star.

In these competitive times, is there truth that one must conceal resources, information and know-how to get ahead? Do you remember ever being "selfish" yourself, even for a moment? I guess the answer must be "yes".

Whilst in university, I was a diligent student and always attended lectures and tutes. My friends knew that. And there were those who would rather skip lectures to sleep in during winter, or because they couldn't wake up in time after a late night out or just plainly, decided to have some fun rather than attend class. But when exams came, these same people would come to me for my detailed, concise notes and just xerox them right off!

To be honest, even though I lent my notes to these friends, I did resent them for that. And maybe once or twice, I refused to share my notes, thinking, "Hey, I trudged to class while you guys slept in under your duvet, I paid attention and wrote down the Professor's salient points."  This may sound boastful, but my notes were good enough for you to pass your subject exam, without the need to refer to other text or reference books. So they were pretty popular. Was I being selfish?

As for sharing information regarding tuition classes for my kids, I see no problem in letting people know should they ask me. As a newbie to Ipoh, I had benefitted from generous moms who gave me information on myriad issues. I hope Mom Z would ask me one day for information (though I doubt it!) so that we would have an opportunity to talk about this issue.

(pictures from fanpop.com)

08 July 2012

Wendy's in Ipoh - finally

Looks like we moved to Ipoh at the right time.

If we came here several years earlier, there would be no Burger King and no Wendy's. Now most of what the kids expect are here, except for Toys R Us!

So it was a happy 4-some when we had lunch at Wendy's at the spanking-new AEON Station 18. Of course we had to have everyone's favorite chilly.

It's been a long time since I had a Wendy's burger, but my mushroom melt was great - tender, moist and fragrant. Sure beats McDonald's (no offence!)

(picture courtesy of myjudythefoodie.com)

Malika Saba - Yemeni and Arabian Cuisine

Continuing with my family's adventurous taste-buds, we ventured to try some middle eastern cuisine this weekend.

While Chinese food, Malay and Indian cuisine can be found in abundance in Ipoh, I do miss the international variety of cuisine that Ipoh lacks, such as steak houses, higher-end Japanese food, even Italian or Western.

So when hubs said he read about a middle eastern restaurant here, I said let's go try!

Malika Saba is located in a rather nondescript place. I'm not even sure how to describe the restaurant's building - it is a stand alone structure that's not quite a shop, not quite a kiosk. A smallish structure that is close to the MBI building and gardens, and also Syuen Hotel. Unfortunately, the patch of garden that borders the restaurant is not well maintained at all, and has an abandoned little building that could have been a toilet or rest area before? I don't know.

When you enter the restaurant, the place feels rather small and narrow. Bright enough, but its furnishings are a bit dated and in need of some refreshing. Motormouth from Ipoh's photos of the place look nice, but the real "feel' of the place isn't as nice.

Physical appearances aside, we were happy with the food. My children were rather apprehensive about tonight's dinner, never having had middle eastern food before. My son asked if it was a bit like Indian food! But true to their good nature, they tried everything and enjoyed themselves.

I have always liked the middle eastern breads and dips, and Maika's mullawah (RM3 for large) was wonderfully crispy and huge. Like a tremendous roti canai, my girl said. It went well with the hummus (chickpea - RM6) and muttabel (eggplant - RM6) dips, with the latter being tastier than the hummus. The hummus that Malika serves is very rich and robust, maybe a little too rich. I like the slightly thinner version with hints of lemon juice, but perhaps different regions make the hummus in their own distinct style.

The stuffed grape leaves (RM6) as a cold appetizer were surprisingly tasty and refreshing. So we learned something new too - that grape leaves are edible!

For our mains we ordered the mixed grill (RM25), oqda chicken (RM10) and lamb haneeth (RM15) to share, which was more than enough! The lamb was excellently tender while the accompanying mandy rice was fragrant and moist, punctuated with the flavours of spices. I must order that for myself next time, although my little girl turned her nose up at it. She was happy with her mullawah and oqda chicken, which is chicken meat fried with shredded potatoes. The chicken  dish is not chilly hot so it's suitable for children and those who are chillyhot-challenged.

I should also note that their fruit juices are very substantial, with no stinging on the ingredients used. Yummy and reasonably priced.

It was a delicious meal of a different kind and we look forward to returning to sample the other items on the menu.

04 July 2012

What's not great at Old Town White Coffee

An Ipoh-grown brand name, Old Town White Coffee is one of the success stories of Ipoh.

A fine example of a family business taken ahead by the younger generation into the larger arena of business and brand recognition. While the founding generation would balk at the increased risks of enlarging the business or going public, the younger generation realise that sometimes, big is beautiful.

Not unlike the "heong peng" (fragrant baked biscuit stuffed with caramel) success story of Yee Hup.

But my post today is to remind myself not to eat a certain something in OTWC - and that is their curry puff basket.


Because it is almost all pastry skin (which is actually quite soft and buttery) with sooo little filling, that I was genuinely shocked at the price! It was to the tune of RM4 (thereabouts) for a "basket" of two curry puffs. It certainly does not come close to any of the 60 sen or RM1 or RM1.50 curry puffs that you can buy from the market or street-side Aunty, Mak Cik or Pak Cik.

Sure, one will say that the price reflects the atmosphere, chairs and tables, as well as the air-con and wi-fi one enjoys in the OTWC cafes. But to charge about RM2 for one curry puff, you have to give me something a little more substantial to eat! The puff was flat....and does not quite look like the ones in the picture above (courtesy of jessiefoodtrip.blogspot.com)

Well, I might go back to an OTWC branch but not for the curry puff. For your information.......