Sunday, February 27, 2005

Italiannies: Pasta, Pizza and Wine

I took Siew Toh to this Italian restaurant in 1 Utama's new wing for lunch yesterday. Italiannies has a very unique looking storefront. The restaurant may look small from the front but it's larger than you think.

Small place? Think again.

The waitress mumbled something about the Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar then gave us some bread for starters. To this day I have not deciphered a word she said. The bread is half eaten because I did not think to take the picture sooner :)

Stuffed mushrooms. Mushrooms ( shitake in an Italian restaurant??? ) stuffed with minced beef and herbs with tomota puree and a sprinkle of cheese plus a great deal of melted cheese as sauce. Recommended by the waitress and endorsed by wAntAn productions. Good stuff, yum yum !!!

Pepperoni pizza. Not too bad but I've had better somewhere else ( might do a review of that place sometime ). Certainly different from your standard Pizza Hut fare.

That's the way aha, aha I like it ( with lots of chilli flakes! ).

I read in The Malaysian Food Blog that Italiannies is run by the same people who operate the TGIF restaurants so service is top notch. Incidentally I also noticed that we ordered the same menu items as Bernzie, the fella from the Malaysian Food Blog.

Servings are huge ( do they even cater to single diners? ) with each dish being enough to feed 2 or 3 hungry refugees thus we only ordered the Stuff Mushrooms as an appetizer and the Pepperoni Pizza as the main course.

On the drinks side, I just wanted to mention that the apple juice we ordered was not of the freshly squeezed/juiced type. More of the Zapple type. Soft drinks are free flow though so that may be a better choice. Wine is available but I'm too cheap to drink wine.

Total bill was RM70 including a few bucks as tips for the waitress. I don't usually tip because I've already paid a service charge for the waiter's salaries but I don't feel like being looked at like a cheapo today so I caved-in.

posted by wyejon at Sunday, February 27, 2005 (permalink) | 2 comments | trackbacks

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Happy 5th Anniversary

Continuing the recent streak of personal-in-nature posts I want to take this oppurtunity to wish my darling Siew Toh a Happy 5th Anniversary. Yes we have been in love for 5 years. There have been ups and downs and we have both overcome many personal challenges. Nevertheless I forsee even more challenges awaiting us and I hope I will have your love and support to triumph over them all. I love you.

Now because wAntAn productions is really my personal diary I will tend to store some information that only I may find useful or interesting from time to time, such is the following:

On our first anniversary, I bought her a small crystal and a glass bottle to store it. My plan was to buy her a crystal trinket for every anniversary but I stopped after the first year because I lost the bottle containing the crystal. Fortunately I rediscovered the bottle during my recent pre-Chinese New Year spring cleaning. So this year, I bought 4 additional crystals for a total cost of RM100 to cover for the ones I missed buying.

Slowly by slowly the glass bottle will fill up and we should end up with an impressive collection when the both of us have white hair on our heads :)

1st anniversary: heart shaped black crystal

2nd to 5th anniversary: fish shaped pink crystal, gourd shaped blue crystal, star shaped tiger eye crystal and rose shaped yellow crystal

The glass bottle where the cystals are stored

posted by wyejon at Saturday, February 26, 2005 (permalink) | 0 comments | trackbacks

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Chap Goh Mei

Terrible headache today so here's my lame attempt at humour:

It's the last day of what constitutes the Chinese New Year celebrations, time to break out the Chinese New Year statistics:

  • Net loss from illegal gambling activities = RM4.20.
  • Number of different gambling games played = 3 ( Big Two, BlackJack and Mahjong ).
  • Number of Chinese New Year dinners attended = 7 dinners at 7 different restaurants.
  • Number of times Yee Sang was served = 6 times ( 4 with salmon, 2 with jellyfish ).
  • Number of Mandarin Oranges consumed = 3 versus about 50 when I was younger.
  • Number of Ang Pows collected = 32 red packets.
  • Total sum of Ang Pow money = 4 digits away from a million.
  • Total number of times the phrase "This better be your last year receiving Ang Pow" was heard = 23 times.
  • Total number of times the question "When are you getting married?" was heard = 37 times.
  • Most expensive lunch I had to pay for during Chinese New Year ( when typically prices are inflated ) = RM70 for two noodle dishes for 4 persons!
  • Number of times sleep was interrupted by illegal release of fireworks and firecrackers = 15 times which basically means every night.
  • Number of times I was blasted with the word "Choy" when accidently uttering an inauspicious word or two = 18 times.
  • Number of lottery tickets bought while feeling lucky = 10.
  • Number of lottery tickets that were lucky = Zero. RM30 down the drain.
  • Cans of beer consumed = Zero! Honest!
  • Cans of Jolly Shandy consumed = not too sure... can't count in a drunken state.
  • Number of annual leaves taken to take advantage of the Chinese New Year holidays = 3 days for a total of 10 days uninterrupted absence from work!!!.
  • Amount of money spent on clothes = RM800+ but I still look like crap.
  • Number of mandarin oranges thrown into the river by Siew Toh = 23.
  • Number of mandarin oranges floating down river caught by me = 5. I fell down the boat after number 5.
  • Number of shoes lost to the river = 1. Now I have half a pair of new Adidas shoes!

Ok I was mostly kidding. Most of it never happened ^_^

posted by wyejon at Wednesday, February 23, 2005 (permalink) | 0 comments | trackbacks

Friday, February 18, 2005

Pai Tien Kong ( Praying to The Heavenly King )

Siew Toh took the following pictures of her family performing the Pai Tien Kong ritual.

During the Chinese New Year there are certain rituals to perform. On the 9th day of the Chinese New Year ( which was 2 days ago ) the Hokkien Chinese believe in praying to Tien Kong, the King of Heaven. Tien Kong is basically the ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Like most traditional rituals and beliefs there is a story to it. It was said that in ancient China misfortune befell a village of Hokkien clansmen. Their village was attacked by marauders and the villagers were forced to run and hide. This happened on the 9th day of Chinese New Year.

As the legend goes, the villagers found themselves hiding in a sugar cane forest. Miracously the marauders could not locate the vilagers and left soon after. When dawn broke the villagers emerged unscathed from the sugar cane forest and noticed an altar to the King of Heaven where they were hiding.

They offered their thanks and prayers to the Tien Kong to thank him for his protection and thus this event became an annual practice and has been passed down the generations till today.

Typically the Chinese offer abundant food to their deities in addition to incense and candles. For Pai Tien Kong sugar canes are usually part of the ceremony as well.

Here's Siew Toh proving to me that her mother cooked prawns as large as her palm for the ceremony :)

Burning paper offerings to Tien Kong.

Fireworks and firecrackers have been illegal in Malaysia for quite some time.

Despite the ban people still enjoy setting them off.

Fireworks have become a fixture for every race in Malaysia. It's been known to be set off ( albeit illegally ) during Hari Raya ( Eid ul-Fitr ), Chinese New Year and Deepavali.

p.s. All the Pai Tien Kong stories were sourced from a program that aired on Astro :P Also I'm not Hokkien.

posted by wyejon at Friday, February 18, 2005 (permalink) | 0 comments | trackbacks

Random Musings

It's half an hour past five in the morning. I awoke at around four in the morning feeling uncharacteristicly thirsty. Anyways I got myself a drink ( some Jolly Shandy :P ) and couldn't get back to sleep again. I just wanted to list out the things I did in the one and the half hours I've been awake:

  1. Watched the latest episode of Naruto ( 122 ) which I "obtained" while I was asleep. By the way Naruto is licensed in the US already! This means it may be more difficult to obtain Naruto fansubs.
  2. Put in my Nedstat Basic 3.0 counter to the bottom of every page. It used to be located on only one page at because there was where most visitors came in. That's not true anymore because most of the visitors now never see the main page and instead go to the individual blog postings such as the highly visited Protom SRM and TRM posts. The statistics are definitely going to jump quite a bit but it will be more accurate and interesting.
  3. Contacted my hosting provider to inquire about transferring the domain control over to them from my old ISP and upgrading my hosting package to something with more disk space as I'm really outgrowing my measly 50MB disk space. IPXcess has terrible customer support. The last time my domain name was up for renewal they let it expire despite me already having paid for it. Screw them!
  4. Finally got a reply from TV Smith to be listed in the Malaysian Central Blogs Directory. Whopee! Might have to wait a few days though.
  5. Took a look at TV Smith's latest photo essay, Big Business in Little China which is about one of my favourite places in the city... Petaling Street! You thought you knew Petaling Street? Check out the last photo about the Pasar Karat. Who would have guessed?
Ok... I've spent another half an hour writing this post. I wonder if I can sneak in another hour of sleep before I wake up to prepare for work?

posted by wyejon at Friday, February 18, 2005 (permalink) | 2 comments | trackbacks

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Genting Highlands on Valentines Day

Siew Toh was going through wAntAn productions and she asked me how come I didn't post any pictures of the short trip we had to Genting Highlands on Valentines Day? Well... here it is, darling :)

We reached Genting at around midnite on the 14th of February. Even though it was supposed to be a working day the very next morning there was a sea of people up in the old mountain top resort or as the old Chinese saying goes; "People mountain, people sea". I guess we were not the only ones who figured to take Monday off for an extended holiday.

Some Chinese New Year decoration in one of the hotels.

We had a Valentines Combo in Baskin Robbins ( Yes! Ice cream in a cold place is great :P ). Startbucks and Coffee Bean were open as well. I guess they are 24 hour establishments.

The Eiffel Tower in the indoor theme park.

The Statue of Liberty riding a Harley Davidson in the indoor theme park.

Cute little display for Chinese New Year.

There was a button you could press to activate the display. The figures would sway their heads to music.

Another Chinese New Year decoration in one of the hotels.

There were a few other photos I did not post up because I didn't want to show you people how terrible I am at taking photos :D

p.s. In case anyone's wondering we lost a total of RM10 to Uncle Lim Goh Tong in his casinos.

posted by wyejon at Wednesday, February 16, 2005 (permalink) | 0 comments | trackbacks

Monday, February 14, 2005

Sugimoto Japanese Restaurant

Siew Toh and I had lunch today at Sugimoto Japanese Restaurant located in Desa Sri Hartamas. It's located one floor above ground floor ( meaning upstairs ) nearby Kowloon Restaurant.

Your initial assumptions about Japanese eateries in Malaysia would probably be that they are not cheap and the fact is you would probably be correct. Sugimoto is no exception... or is it?

Every once in a while we like to drop in to this place for some "lunch box" ( they call it bento ). Bento is priced at RM14 for a selection of 2 dishes and RM18 for a selection of 3 dishes. Take note though that bento is only served during lunch time and only on weekdays!

My personal recommendation is to go for the 3 dish selection. You may select your dishes from 30 different items in the menu. Every bento comes standard with miso soup, fruits, some salad, chawan mushi ( steamed egg in a cup ) and rice ( plain rice or garlic rice for no additional charge... go for the garlic rice). A balanced diet if there ever was one :)

The food is good and they come in generous proportions. I have never been disappointed with the food in Sugimoto. They also have a branch located in Bangsar. I've never been there though and don't know where it is.

Is the bento worth the money? I certainly think so. Give it a try if you work nearby or if you have taken some off day from work ( like I have today... but it's back to work tomorrow! ). I don't think there is a better deal around. Comparison with Sushi King and the like is out of the question of course because the food is really at a different level.

Welcome to Sugimoto's.

Tables in the smoking section are much prettier than those for non-smokers ( of course ST is the prettiest thing in the picture! ).

My selection: beef, scallops and oysters.

Siew Toh's selection: salmon, cuttlefish and some fried potato thing.

Did you notice the chilli padi in the middle of the lunch box? Very un-Japanese don't you think?

Note: Today's pictures were taken using a proper digital camera hence the better quality :)

posted by wyejon at Monday, February 14, 2005 (permalink) | 0 comments | trackbacks

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Restaurant Fresh Unique Seafood 23

A generous uncle held a dinner for his family and friends and my family was invited as well. His generousity astounds me but that really is another story altogether.

The occasion was basically nothing. It was a decision made on a whim and he paid several thousand ringgit ( I'm guessing about RM3k? ) for 3 tables worth of really good seafood.

Restaurant Fresh Unique Seafood 23 is located along Jalan Kemajuan in SS13, Petaling Jaya. No pictures of the dishes were taken because I was too shy to take them in the presence of my uncles, aunties and cousins :)

The most striking thing about this restaurant is the abundant live seafood on display in the restaurant ( pictures 1 and 2 ):

See those aquariams at the back? That's only half the picture.

A closer look. Camera phone not good enough to capture the details though.

The slaughtering and cleaning up of the seafood is on display as well.

I'm not kidding when I say that the food here is seriously good. I doubt it's cheap though.

Note: I'm not actually too sure about the order of dishes served... not that it matters much anyway.

We started off with plain steamed prawns and by plain I mean plain. No garnishing to speak of. Just freshly steamed prawns. De-shell and dip with some chilli sauce ( or wasabi ) and enjoy. I love prawns cooked this way, that is with the minimum of ingredients as fresh prawns taste great on their own.

The next dish was some kind of clam like creature. The meat was lightly fried with garlic and spring onions and then served along with it's shell. No one really knew what type of crustacean we were being served.

Then there was spinach soup cooked with of all things century eggs! Century eggs are those preserved eggs which are disgustingly black in colour but I love century eggs. A warning though, preserved things are really bad for health.

I'll just quickly go over the other dishes. We had fish, sea cucumbers, crabs and noodles.

The last thing that I have left out is the escargot. It was my first time eating snails :P Never would have imagined cheese baked snails to taste so good... yummy.

posted by wyejon at Sunday, February 13, 2005 (permalink) | 6 comments | trackbacks

Thursday, February 10, 2005

My name is John, John Constantine

First thing's first... Happy Chinese New Year.

It's customary that Hong Kong puts out a few Chinese New Year movies with big names like Andy Lau, Sammi Cheng, Jackie Chan, Stephen Chow, etc but this year all we get is Tony Leung ( I don't find him that great an actor ) and Lau Ching Wan ( great actor in serious roles... hideous in comedies ).

If you are an avid cinema goer like myself your Chinese New Year movie selection is... Seoul Raiders and Himalaya Singh. Ermm... thanks but no thanks. If you must catch a Hong Kong movie for Chinese New Year I would personally go for Seoul Raiders otherwise go watch Constantine starring every one's favourite bad actor Keanu Reeves.

Keanu Reeves is of course best known role is as Neo in the Matrix movies. It's a little bit of a curse for actors such as Keanu who played very famous well loved characters. The same applies for the likes of Christopher Reeve as Superman and Harrison Ford as Han Solo or Indiana Jones. Watching this movie there are some scenes where you expect Keanu to start dishing up some kung-fu mayhem... but he doesn't :)

Constantine is a good movie and believe it or not the source material is from a comic book ( ok, graphic novel ). Constantine is nowhere near as famous as Superman or Spider Man though which works to this film's advantage. It's not your typical superhero movie a stigma that is attached to all movies with comic book origins.

Our protagonist John Constantine is a supernaturally aware chain smoker. Keanu lights up in half the scenes in the movie. The basis of the movie's story is as such; Constantine was gifted with the ability to see creatures of the underworld ( and heaven as well ) from young. Troubled with his ability he commits suicide in his teenage years thus sending him to Hell.

He survives Hell ( not explained in the movie ) and returns with and understanding of how Heaven, Hell and the mortal world relates with each other. See there is a balance to be maintained and Constantine has taken it upon himself to ensure that when Hell has the upper hand in dominating the mortal world he will send as many of Hell's minions back to where they came from to maintain that balance.

Constantine is not all noble though. He has a personal agenda to do what he does. Constantine is a Catholic. The Catholics believe that when a person commits suicide his soul is sent to Hell for eternity. There is no retribution. Constantine aims to change his fate by earning favour with Heaven. He thinks that dispatching the demons will be is redemption. However his time is running out as Constantine is a super chain smoker and is near death with lung cancer.

Long story short the story involves angels, demons, the Devil's son and the Devil himself. Several characters take a trip to Hell and Hell is a very well rendered ( as in computer graphics rendered ) eternally burning wasteland. In short Hell looks rather awesome :P

The script for this movie is great. I love mythological mumbo jumbo which is one reason why I love movies like The Matrix and Star Wars and this movie delivers there. It helps also that the mythology is not overly complex and thus easy to follow.

The acting isn't so hot though with the routine Keanu performance and the pretty Rachel Weisz delivering a yawn inducing performance ( well she's not really that strong an actor anyways although she was fun to watch in the Mummy movies ). Plus points of the movie are definitely the story and the computer graphics except for the unconvincing soldiers of Hell.

If you have to watch a movie this Chinese New Year, drop the Hong Kong productions and go for Constantine.

posted by wyejon at Thursday, February 10, 2005 (permalink) | 1 comments | trackbacks

Saturday, February 05, 2005

My Favourite Fish Head Noodles

I have an unhealthy Saturday afternoon ritual. On just about every Saturday myself and my girlfriend Siew Toh will head down to Jalan Tiong Nam in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur to enjoy some delicious Claypot Fish Head Noodles. I mentioned unhealthy because I don't think this dish is a very healthy dish. Enjoy a picture of the delicious Fish Head Noodle... yum yum.... hehe.

The phone camera does not do this dish any justice!

Raw garlic and chillies are it's perfect compliment.

If you're not already familiar with the dish, Fish Head Noodle is basically noodles ( this is usually rice vermicelli or better known as bee hoon ) with soup plus evaporated milk and is always served with a healthy dosage of fried fish meat ( presumably from the head area ).

As far as I know this restaurant has no name and you're not going to see it from any main roads. It's a little difficult for me to describe the location as I'm very bad with roads so I won't bother except to say that it's located in one of the back lanes nearby the shopping complex previously known as Yaohan The Mall.

The Fish Head Noodle served in this place is the best you are likely to find. Their version of the dish is quite different from the common one. First of all it is cooked and served in a claypot. As any gourmet can tell you anything that's cooked in a claypot simply tastes better :)

Secondly the noodles used are thick rice vermicelli. You can order this dish with the usual thin rice vermicelli but I prefer not to as thin vermicelli has the tendency to "pollute" the taste of anything it's cooked with.

Thirdly the dish is cooked with numerous other ingredients and believe you me the ingredients blend together to produce a heavenly taste. These include the aforementioned fried fish meat, fish balls, lala ( a kind of clam like creature only smaller and much cheaper ), yam, ginger, tomato and cabbage.

Well worth it for about RM5 per person including some chinese tea. Avoid having the garlic if you don't want your breath to stink. Trust me it will stink for the whole day!

posted by wyejon at Saturday, February 05, 2005 (permalink) | 0 comments | trackbacks

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