Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Less salt please || Vivo Pizza & Panini

Salmon steak
Since we had to go to Low Yatt to buy our printer toner last week, we decided to have lunch in Berjaya Times Square first. Hungry and decidedly in no mood to experiment, we headed straight for Vivo.

Our menu included:

  • Salmon steak with garlic butter and fries
  • Seafood pasta
  • Spaghetti bolognaise
  • Oriental baked rice
  • Meatball panini

First and foremost, I love salmon. Unfortunately salmon steaks are usually expensive, so I don't get to eat it very often. I only order if the price seems reasonable. So I was disappointed to find that my salmon that day, although nice in texture (crispy skin etc) was far too salty. When the manager was kind enough to enquire how we found our meal, I pointed this out to him. I guess he was a bit surprised that we didn't just say everything was lovely. He explained that the salmon are imported from Scandanavia and they will pack it with salt to keep it fresh. Though this seems reasonable, I think there should be a way to remove this saltiness, because it is really a shame since it should have been a very good dish.

Oriental baked rice

Spaghetti bolognaise

The other dishes were okay, although their fried meatballs are not as meaty as we would have liked (more breadcrumbs than meat?), filled with an unidentified herb. Though this may be their signature meatball and so is really up to individual taste preferences. 
Meatball panini (which we tapau'ed and had for breakfast the next day)
Seafood pasta

The best thing about Vivo was that it proudly displayed it's HALAL sign very prominently at the counter in front of the restaurant. We have been to some restaurants in BTS where the staff claimed that their HALAL certificate was in the kitchen and she's not allowed to bring it outside. Really?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Saturday outing || Bon voyage! Hafizah & Dr Zul

Last Saturday, we were invited to Bandar Tun Hussein Onn for a "doa selamat" gathering. Our friend Hafizah is flying off to Sidney to pursue her PhD with her hubby Dr Zul in tow. 

We stopped of at Aida's house in Cheras first, and my 3 kids got to meet 3 UKM wondergirls properly for the first time. As usual, they were painfully shy at first. Not a squeak out of them all the way to Bandar Tun Hussein Onn. Even when we got there, they were very much sticking to my tail-skirts like glue. 

We were late, and missed the actual "doa selamat" but were in time to eat. There was a delicious spread of sate, meehoon soto, kuey teow, bubur kacang, cucur udang and so much more. The kids, as usual, ate like birds. They had more fun washing their hands repeatedly in the washbasins. 

On the ride back, it was totally different. Having warmed up to my friends, the car was rocking to the sounds of "Burung kakak tua, 3 ekor monyet, Rasa Sayang" and many more of their favourite songs. We stopped of again at Aida's house for toilet break, and they almost wanted to stay. More due to the awesome cabinet of toys in Aida's living room than anything else. 

As we drove away, waving frantically at their new "Aunties". Hamzah was quietly saying his goodbyes. "Bye Bye. Bye Bye ... teacher". I guess he was confused who they were. Hehe. When we discussed who each Aunty was (Cik Cha, Cik Na, Cik Jil), Aishah asked me "Ummi, how do you know their names?". Sigh. :)

Nizar, Aida, Me & Hamzah, Aishah, Yousof,Zil,  Dr Zul, Hafizah, Sharlina

All the best to you both!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Those poor trees || Live blogging


Buying a new printer toner. Yup, we tend to print alot. Not yet embracing paperless lifestyle. Hopefully soon.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger

Basic Plot 

Juliana and Valentina Poole are mirror twins who have lived their whole lives in USA together, doing basically nothing. With no real plans for the future, their lives were suddenly changed forever when an aunt they never knew existed leaves them an apartment in London after her death. For want of anything better to do the girls travel half-way across the globe to settle in their apartment which overlooks the Highgate Cemetery in London. With an agrophobic obsessive-compulsive recluse and the heart-broken lover of their aunt for neighbours, things only get stranger when they realize that the apartment was not all that was left of their aunt.

What I liked about this book

Being the second book by the author of 'The Time Traveller's Wife' automatically guaranteed my expectations of this book to be high. It was an unconventional ghost story. With mirror twins (twins with every feature identical but reversed) as the main character, the special bond and tumoultous tug of war relationship between the need for independence from and dependence on each other was explored. The way the ghost, Elspeth learns the mechanics of haunting her nieces also made an interesting read as we are introduced to the concept that even ghosts must learn to communicate with the living. The other characters also had their own quirks and their various ways of dealing with personal grief.

What I disliked about this book

Probably the first quarter of the book. This book was definitely a slow starter. Things only started to get interesting when Elspeth initiates contact. Some of the "twists" were predictable, eventhough they were intended to have a shocking effect. I had the impression that the author tried too hard with this book in hopes of recieving the same accolades as her first. It was nowhere near the same standard as her first although a reasonably good read.

A quote I liked from the book

Talk as long as you can, until the batteries run down, until dawn, until I see you again, my love.

Rating: 3.5/5


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When will it be my turn? || Live blogging


Free lunch today. Dr Elvy and Dr Fairuz are sponsoring a celebratory lunch for their PhD. Am looking forward to my turn one day. Must finish this thesis first though.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Steamy Lunch || Cheng Ho Restaurant @ Wangsa Maju

Last week we went to Wangsa Maju for lunch again. This time instead of hitting our usual places like AU2/Alpha Angle/Wangsa Walk, we decided to try out one of the many restaurants in the vicinity of Wangsa Walk. Finding somewhere to park was a problem though, so we ended up parking at Wangsa Walk but walking outside.

Since I had missed an iftar dinner at Cheng Ho the year before, I was curious to try it out. We were the only customers there at first. They open for lunch but only 12pm-2.30pm and re-open for dinner at 6pm.

We ordered the set meal for 1-3 persons at RM 69.90, which allowed us to choose 4 dishes from several categories. The choices were quite varied as they had a soup/tom yam category, vegetable dishes, egg dishes, meat dishes, seafood dishes and dessert dishes. We opted for:
  • Seafood Tom Yam
  • Kang Kong (yes that is how they spelled it) Belacan
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • Steamed Siakap with Soya Sauce
  • Free flow chinese tea

The portions were more than adequate for 3 people. The Tom Yam was the right combination of sweet and sour. The Kang Kong (I will forever be spelling it like this now) smelled mouth-watering (if you like belacan) and tasted great (and I'm not a big veggie fan). The Sweet and sour chicken was also nice, with crispy bite-sized chicken just the way I like them. But the steamed siakap was the star of the meal. It just felt so luxuious to share a big fish between the three of us, on an ordinary day for an ordinary lunch. I love siakap, and I love it steamed too. I guess, overall the food was nice, maybe not spectacular, but still nice. As usual we polished off every morsel. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa || A piece of Malaysian Cinematic History

Truthfully, I have never been this excited to see ANY Malay movie at the cinemas. With the local film industry churning out one bad horror flick after another, my interest was practically nil. That all changed after I saw the trailer for KRU's latest movie a few months ago. It really looked as if it had potential!

So after gathering all my roomies, we headed off to watch it. We actually took public transport! That should cast a little light as to the effort that we were willing to invest in watching this movie. 

source: Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa Facebook Fan Page

Yusry Abdul Halim

Stephen Rahman-Hughes as Merong
Gavin Stenhouse as Marcus Carprenius
Jing Lusi as Princess Meng Li Hua
Craig Robert Fong as Admiral Liu Yun
Dato' Rahim Razali as Kesum
Khir Rahman as Kamawas
Wan Hanafi Wan Su as Taji
Ummi Nazeera as Embok

Basic plot 

In an effort to unite two of the most powerful forces of the ancient world, Rome and China decide to marry off it's prince and princess. The Golden Chersonese, a land with no king was to be the place of this union. The Romans, with forces depleted by the raging seas are forced to enlist the help of Merong, a fearless warrior (and self-proclaimed descendant of The Great Alexander) on his own quest of self-discovery. When Garuda pirates kidnap the Chinese Princess and all but hope is lost, will Merong be able to lead the his people, the Romans and The Chinese army towards his destiny?

What I liked about the movie

The visuals were breathtaking. Each scene was simply a feast for the eyes and senses. The fight scenes were well choreographed and immensely bloody. The actors were likable (or hate-able when appropriate). There were many light-hearted moments and tear-jerking moments too. The formal speech (which I despise in present day movies and tele-movies) did not seem out of place due to the fact that it was a period movie. Most of the actors were perfect for their role and the genuine friendship and comraderie between the main characters transcended the silver screen. Although probably every female member of the audience left the cinema drooling over Stephen Rahman Hughes, I must admit that I was far more enamoured by the sweet and understated performance of Gavin Stenhouse. I also enjoyed the amazing villanous skill of Khir Rahman who made it a pleasure to feel contempt and hate towards a character, bravo! 

What I disliked about the movie

Not much. I cringed at every blood spurt but artistically speaking it did make the fight scenes more authentic. The only scene that seemed a little "fake" was the the Archimedes death ray scene. Probably if the contraption was made much bigger (I think it was featured on Mythbusters once). 

A quote I liked from the movie

"Empangan kalau dah dibuka, masakan boleh ditahan airnya" (Ahaha, simply because of the audience reaction to it)

Rating: 4.8/5

Congratulations to everyone involved in the making of this movie especially Yusry (definitely not biased here..hehe). I sat in that movie theatre and knew that I was watching HISTORY being made. This movie has set a new standard for Malaysian cinema. Hopefully, it will get all the support and recognition that it deserves. 

Yusry, Gavin & Stephen (source: HMM Facebook Fanpage)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Train spotting || Live blogging


Choo! Choo! We're off to Berjaya Times Square. Once in a while it's good to take public transport. Just missed the last train, so enough time to blog.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dim sum and more || De Templer Restaurant (Chinese Muslim Cuisine)

Zil with the cute little rice 'pot' and gorgeous longan drink
Always excited to try out new places, a few weeks ago the girls and I chanced upon a chinese muslim restaurant next to the MRR2 (Taman Melati- near Satay Kajang and that huge fire station). Everything on the menu sounded delicious so we ended up ordering far more than we should (there were just 3 of us!):

  • Crispy Glass Fried chicken 
  • Chicken in Pattaya sauce
  • Beef in Pattaya sauce
  • Dim sum : Bean curd skin, prawn siew mai, deep fried wanton, another siew mai (can't remember)
  • Red bean pau
Crispy Glass Fried Chicken
Chicken with Pattaya sauce
Dim sum
Zil with the overflowing red bean pau

The food was really nice. My glass chicken was just the way I love to eat sweet and sour chicken, nice easy bite-sized coated in crispy coating. Previously the only time I heard the word Pattaya was when ordering Nasi Goreng Pattaya. The girl's Pattaya dishes were flavourful too, sweet & sour with a touch of black pepper infused. I loved the shredded cucumber "acar" on top. The portions looked deceptively small but were actually more than enough. By the time we finished with the rice dishes it took great effort to eat the dim sum. The sauce was sadly not as nice as it should have been, (probably too much vinegar?) but the dim sum itself was nice with big portions. The red bean pau were cute little things but absolutely filled with gorgeous red bean "paste?", more than normally found in any other pau.  

Happy and full

Can't wait to go back one day and try some of the "BIG" dishes like the steamed siakap .... drooling.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Oasis || La Bodega at The Pavillion KL

There are some friends we can never forget. The ones that are tied to our hearts as surely as we are tied to them. So even decades on in our lives we are as comfortable among them as we were back when we the first foundations of friendships were forged. I am blessed to have my fair share of such friends. Even as we go about our daily lives, we know that though apart, there are people out there who care.

Last Friday, was the pseudo-monthly meet up with my ex-roomies/BFFs from MRSM Jasin. This time the venue chosen was La Bodega at The Pavillion KL chosen by Roszie who was roped in by its drool inducing food reviews online.
Keen and Nadd

We ordered (with alot of help from the waiter) and my basic knowledge of Spanish cuisine (gleaned off Asian Food Channel on Astro):
  • Paella (the name was much longer but I forgot): rice, seafood, chicken, vegetables
  • (Tapas) Gambas al Ajillo: Tiger prawns sizzled with olive oil and garlic
  • (Tapas) Trucha Alsalmonada en Salsa Verde: Seared salmon with salsa verde
  • (Tapas)Pollo al Ajillo: Chicken sauteed in olive oil, garlic and parsley
  • Linguine Alfredo: Pasta with cream, butter, garlic, parsley and Parmesan cheese
Sizzling tiger prawns
Chicken and Salmon

The food was amazing! Every single dish was absolutely delicious. Tapas is the name for a wide variety of Spanish appetizers or snacks. The prawns came in a sizzling little dish of olive oil. Dipping even the oil with bread was heavenly. The salmon was perfectly cooked with a crisp skin and the salsa verde was delightful. Salsa verde (Italian version) is a "green sauce" made with pureed herbs with mustard, white onion, cilantro and lime (the Mexican version had tomatillos instead of herbs). The chicken was also exquisite in a very tasty olive oil and parsley sauce. The Alfredo was so cheesy and creamy, it was a dream to eat. We loved the Paella too (it takes 30 minutes from ordering to cook), the rice was richly infused with tomato and the seafood added a nice flavour.

The only thing was the price! For the portions served, it was quite expensive. Drinks were RM10 ++. Tapas were RM15- RM 20 (bigger portions at RM 30), the Paella was strictly for sharing with RM 30 per serving (minimum 2 servings) and the Alfredo was ~RM 20++. So the whole meal was ~ RM 240. (Thank goodness once a month). 
Keen and I - Ladies in black

The best thing about the lunch was just simply taking a little time off to sit and talk with old friends. We even continued the conversation at JCo Doughnuts afterwards before heading home. Looking forward to the next one girls!

Friday, March 11, 2011

When in Bangi || San Francisco Pizza

Once upon a time, we went to Bangi (according to the date stamp it was late February). Being unfamiliar with Bangi, we chanced upon a place called San Francisco Pizza. Here, we surprised the locals by ordering a tremendous amount of food, well beyond the capacity of our apparent digestive capabilities. The waiters were very pleasant and friendly. They were bemused by our inability to coherently pronounce the local fare. What we lacked in finesse we made up for in sheer exuberance. Needless to say we polished of every morsel. Fear not Bangi, we will meet again.

Strawberry bandung = Bandung soda
The lamb chop was too "lamb-y" for me
The only disappointment was this spicy seafood pasta; very bland

Our menu:

  • A large pizza (forgot the name but it had mushrooms, beef pepparoni, capsicum and tonnes of cheese)
  • Mushroom soup & minestrone soup
  • Creamy Carbonara & Spicy Seafood pasta
  • Lamb chop

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Basic plot

What if in the blink of an eye, a massive stroke caused you to be paralyzed for life? Trapped inside your own body, your mind fully functioning yet totally helpless and dependant on others for every aspect of your life. Unable to communicate with another human being except through the blinking of a solitary eyelid, to see your loved ones live their lives without you and incapable of even holding your wife and children in your arms. This is exactly what happened to Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor of French Elle magazine. What did he do? He wrote a book!

What I liked about this book

The fact that this is a true story and personal account of a person who has "locked-in" syndrome and that he painstakingly dictated this whole book simply by blinking one eye, spelling each word letter by letter is humbling. The sheer tenacity of the human spirit and it's ability to overcome adversities of gigantic proportions is mind-blowing. Some parts of the book left me in tears.

What I disliked about the book

I am unsure if it is due to the fact that the original book was in French but I felt as if the book loss some of it's poignant sorrow and beauty that must have been in the original text. It resulted in several chapters being disjointed and either too abstract or too narrative in nature. This book has been turned into a movie which won the BEST DIRECTOR award at Cannes Festival & BEST PICTURE/DIRECTOR (Foreign Language) at the Golden Globes and I can almost imagine how tear-jerking it would be. It is probably a beautiful movie to watch.

A quote I liked from the book

"Like a bath, my old clothes could easily bring back poignant, painful memories. But I see in the clothes a symbol of continuing life. And proof that I still want to be myself. If I must drool, I may as well drool on cashmere."

Rating: 3.5/5

This review is part of Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jounal Criticism || Live blogging


My roomie Dr Mali presenting today's Journal Criticism. "Effects of risedronate in a rat model of osteopenia due to orchidectomy and disuse: Densitometric, histomorhometric and microtomographic studies" by Libouban et al. Wow! A mouthful. Must think of an intelligent question to ask now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A long way from home || Live blogging


At de Galeri Farhana with Maz (owner). Yup, the UKM Wondergirls are a long way from home. Don't worry, we'll be back in a jiffy.


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