Lucky Bo: Totally-Worth-It Cholesterol-ville

I zip my maroon dress- spoil from the boutique’s discount rack. With an afterthought, I line my sepek-eyes with a touch of pencil eye-liner; and my lips, a splash of lipstick. Our pal considers the place “atas”, so err on the side of caution, or risk looking like the jakuns we are. Make a reservation, he says. So I did.

The nice lady on the line is thorough. Clearly she does this a lot. We will only hold the table for 15 minutes, she informs me.

So we make every effort to arrive at exactly 7pm, our reservation time. A row of classy looking shop lots greet us. Parking is easy- rich people don’t drive?

Photo credit: www.walauwei.com

Christmas music plays in the background of Lucky Bo. I take a moment to admire a Christmas tree and its ornaments.

We are led to a table near the back of the restaurant.

Cutlery is arranged on the table according to, er, sequence of utility?

Raised in a middle-class family that refused to pay 50 sens for pisang goreng, I felt like a deer in a kampung– completely out of place and every bit inadequate.

My insecurities kicks up a rung when a couple of tai-tais make their way to a neighbouring table, shopping bags in the hands of… their driver. I’m considerably perceptive, so a chauffeur of the rich upper-class is discernible.

But, alas, the nice waitress in denim is waiting for our order, so it’s time to sham confidence.

This, this, this, this… We randomly point at items on the menu. Thank God I reserved the Tomahawk steak via phone. “The 1.2-1.3 kg, Marble 3, Tomahawk Steak,” she said.

“Okay,” I replied, as if I consume numerically rated grub everyday. The truth is, only time my meal had a number in it was the McDonald’s 6 chicken nugget set.

They serve us sky juice- “warm, room-temperature, or iced, ma’am?”- for free! On an unrelated note, I once launched a spirited campaign of boycott-eateries-that-charge-for-plain-water.

But that was 21 years old air-conditioned-restaurants-are-a-ruse Chow Ping. Today, I am 27 years old Marble-3-Tomahawk-Steak Chow Ping.

The complimentary bread, drinks, and appetisers came. We chomp them down.

Bread, duh. Because I eat at places that serve you complimentary baked goods with vinegar all the time. Not.
Tuaktail. I sanction this drink.
Mushroom soup. Each spoonful cost, like, RM1.
Grilled cheesy portobello mushroom

But all that pale in light of the evening’s main star- our medium 1.2-1.3 kg, Marble 3 Tomahawk steak.

1.2-1.3 kg, Marble 3 Tomahawk steak

The steak is served- sizzling, alluring, and sitting on the serving block like Zeus on his Olympian throne. It might be the trance, but I promise you the air around it fizzled, like the surrounding oxygen is ad hoc to the existence of that slab of royalty.

So we let our Gen-Y instincts take the reigns, and instantly whip out our phones to capture this moment that will survive for lifetimes to come. The waitress waits patiently as we feed our cameras. Later, Broady remarked that the wait staff probably have personal records: longest camera-induced waiting time.

After what she probably deem as ages, we let her slice the steak up into pieces. The smallest, fat laden piece, she takes with her to spin up a plate of scrumptious Char Kuey Teow (of which, I grade 9.99 out of 10!).

But let us not get distracted from the star of the moment. I sliced my steak- fork in my right hand, knife in the left, because, who cares?

I bite. I wait. I taste. I sigh.

Savoury juice fills my mouth, indulging every taste bud, teasing every sensory nerve.

Are those… angels singing?

The fat- it melts!

Did somebody just compact heaven and put it in my mouth?

I redefine taste-gasm.

Tomahawk steak again
Char kuey teow. Cooked from the oil of our 1.2-1.3kg, Marble 3 Tomahawk steak. (that’s starting to roll off my tongue)

Life- never the same again.

All that cholesterol and the 600 bucks bill? Totally. Worth. It.*

*21 years old air-conditioned-restaurants-are-a-ruse Chow Ping might beg to differ though.

Turning 27 On The Metropolitan Island of Singapore

One score and seven years ago, my parents brought forth onto this Earth a new life, conceived in honeymoon bliss, dedicated to the proposition that one should never underestimate the fertility of a Wong woman.

I grace *curtsy* this planet at approximately 4pm Petaling Jaya time, screaming, kicking and totally rocking the botak look.

27 years later, an organised whim lands me on the metropolis of Singapore, sweating buckets and lugging a backpack through the intriguing streets of Geylang. But the toil quickly ends when we locate our cozy Airbnb layover lair, tuck into an “exotic” looking apartment.

A nap is in order, but play no hindrance to dinner plans.

chijmes

Because Mr. Google recommended it and every birthday girl needs a drink, we hop onto a Uber for Chijmes.

In a nutshell, love the place, love the ambience, love the buzz, love the lights.

In particular, love the concourse with the lush carpet grass and bean bags strewn around for tipsy drinkers or stargazing couples.

But loitering on oversized batu serembans will have to wait, because if the intense churning in my stomach is any indication, dinner beckons.

Of the many restaurants available, we picked Prive, because a crowd equals scrumptious nosh, right? Or perhaps we fell prey to the sheep effect.

Either way, we score a table. The first one offered was round with the diameter of two regular pizzas. After making it clear that that won’t work, the manager led us to a more reasonably sized rectangular table, so kudos to their service.

The ambience is pretty. Warm white (marry a guy from a lighting business family and learn terms like that) light bulbs hang around like vines, emitting the perfect amount of shine for an ideal culinary experience.

We waste no time ordering…

Classic Wagyu Beef Burger
Fisherman’s Catch Pizza
Mango Mojito

… And blow less time shovelling food down our throats.

I would comment on the quality of food, but my ravenous state at the moment disqualifies me as a reliable food critic.

Universal studio singapore

 

Photo credit: www.lokopoko.travel

There is a formula to The Perfect Theme Park Experience (T.P.T.P.E).

Limited crowd + Good Weather = T.P.T.P.E

Despite being a weekday, there was a notable crowd. Perhaps, we have the school holiday to thank for that. Fortunately, waits were consistently 20 minutes or less, so yippee-yay-yay!

However, Singapore is always synonym with a chance of rain. Yet, the sun shone like the ball of fire it is as we stepped past the giant rotating globe, under the freshly displayed Christmas decorations and into the park.

In fact, we managed to squeeze in a heathy helping of thrill rides and “family-friendly” ones before black clouds taunt us overhead followed by the promised bout of pouring tropical rain.

Speaking of thrill rides, here’s a quote to chew on:

The standard of a theme park lies in the quality of its thrill rides. ~ Chow Ping, self-proclaimed theme park expert

Therefore, bear with me as I dissect the lone thrill ride(s) of Universal Studio Singapore.

Battlestar Galactica: HUMAN vs. CYCLON is a two part roller coaster. Based on TV series Battlestar Galactica, choose if you want your feet tugged safely within the vehicle (human), or dangle with a chance of amputation (cyclone).

Obviously, we rode both. And here’s the expert’s (me) verdict:

Note: Score is rated from a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being atrocious; 10- orgasm-worthy.

Human

Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

First impression: 7

G force sensation: 5

Turns: 8

Duration of ride: 4

Pee in pants factor: 5.5

Average score: 5.9

Cyclon

Photo credit: www.dejiki.com

First impression: 8

G force sensation: 6

Turns: 5

Duration of ride: 4

Pee in pants factor: 6.5

Average score: 5.9

One second thought, allow me to modify the aforementioned formula.

Limited crowd + Good Weather + Great Company = T.P.T.P.E

 

And the company was awesome.

 

A Saunter Through Namba, Osaka

Welcome to Namba

Kon’nichiwa (Hello), Namba!

I stepped out of Namba Train Station into a melting pot of hustle, bustle, and cool breezy air. As a Pilot for AirAsia X, I frequent Osaka on night stops. Unfortunately, the crew hotel location renders trips to Namba a special treat, ones I take only when allowed the luxury of time.

Despite my love for travel and adventure, I’m a creature of habit. Each visit, I eat at the same restaurant, shop at the same retail shops, and stroll down the same avenue. Today, I resolve to challenge my comfort zone.

Oishii (Delicious)

I elect to dine at whichever restaurant catches my attention. This turns out to be a cozy and traditional looking ramen shop located off the main street. A large lantern with Japanese characters envelope the entrance, swaying with grace in the wind.

The menu is plastered on a large board next to the giant lantern. My eyes scamper through the characters, searching for English alphabets. I’m not disappointed.

The atmosphere in the restaurant is placid and calm. A counter table lines the kitchen area surrounded by stools. Space is not abundant, but there is wisdom in the seating- they only seat the customers they have the capacity to serve. Like in most ramen shops in Japan, I purchase a food ticket at the vending machine. Money through the slot, press choice button, ticket out. I opt for the soft- boiled egg noodles. The young wait staff collects my ticket stub and gestures for me to take a seat.

A kettle sits on the table next to a jug of cold ice water. In the mood for a warm beverage, I empty a sizeable amount from the stainless steel kettle into my cup and take in a gulp. Hey, that’s not water! A quick sip presents a savory taste; it’s soup! I flip the kettle around, and printed in bold black letters: after you finish eating Tsukemen, you can adjust to dilute the taste of the soup by adding a Dashi soup. Oh my!

Not long after, a bowl of steamy hot Ramen noodles is placed before me. I take in a spoonful of broth. A tinge of saline tang tickles my tongue; the taste of anchovies is hefty. The noodles are appropriately springy, and I expected nothing less. The soft-boiled egg is my favorite. A gentle bite pierces the white exterior, and orange liquid yolk burst out like heaven to my senses.

The Tombori River walk

Stomach full and satisfied, it’s time to resume my adventure. I make random turns and follow unfamiliar alleys. The weather is pleasant, the perfect day for the great outdoors. I notice that many locals cycle as a mode of transportation.

The random wandering takes me to the Dotonbori Canal. Rays of light from the setting sun is mesmerising, so I take a break to savour the allure.

I notice a walkway along the river. Upon further inquisition, I discover the Tombori river walk allows me a stroll along the waterfront with a view of over 30 restaurants and retail stores. I happily oblige the path. A yellow ferry seated with tourist stirs pass, smiles plastered across the occupants’ faces.

The walk takes me to the famed segment of the canal: the Running Man. Let it never be said that I visited Namba without a photo with the Running Man. So I whipped out my camera phone for a quick selfie.

I circle around the shops a couple of times, and came face to face with another running man! (In the form of a concrete statue)

Shinsaibashi

More roaming lands me at the Shinsaibashi- Suji Shopping Street. A variety of stores line the thoroughfare. From big brands like H&M and Uniqlo, to low key boutiques, and cafes, there’s something for everybody.

The Disney Store

As an avid Disney fan, I was delighted to stumble upon a Disney outlet store. These don’t exist in my home country of Malaysia, so I was excited explore. Disney merchandises line the shelves and hang off hooks. I indulge myself, shopping and admiring. The Beauty and the Beast soundtrack play in the background, adding a spring to the shoppers’ steps.

Osoi desu (it is late)

I’m so engross with the sights that time passed through attention. The glowing figures on my watch gave me a shock, although the streets still scream “the night is young”. Unfortunately, rest reckons. So, I head for the train station, my footslog apparent, drinking in the last of the city.

Oyasumi (goodnight), Namba.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balad, Jeddah: The Buried Sandy Gem

the calvary

On Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, a scene unfolds where Agent May encounters a situation that cripples and haunts her. Her mysterious nickname “The Calvary” is explained in a chilling episode where an inhuman girl corners her. The location? Bahrain.

Photo credit: www.hollywoodreporter.com    Agent May in Bahrain

The episode plays in my head as our transport pulls up in front of Balad. No doubt due to its uncanny resemblance to the show’s presentation of Bahrain. The street mongers, the sandy coloured buildings, and the lack of drains (due to the country’s dry climate).

“The Town”

Balad literally means “The Town”. Because of it’s location in the Muslim’s Holy Land, pilgrims come here from near and far. Naturally, majority of the people roaming the streets are non-natives. I suspect most of the business owners are Africans, Indians, and even a couple of Asians. In fact, if there were Arabs around, I must have missed them.

Selfie time

Like most women in the vicinity, I am dressed in the traditional black juba with a shawl over my hair.

Within the first hour, I learnt 2 engaging lessons:

1) Do not trust the board at the money changer.

Our friend counted then handed me the Riyal currency, mouth sealed shut like the Silent Brothers in the City of Bones. Upon counting, probing, and more counting, I realise that what I see (on the board) is not what I get.

2) Always haggle.

Nothing is final till money is exchanged. My friends purchased very real fake suitcases for 230 Riyal each. An identical one would cost double the price back in Kuala Lumpur.

Bargain. It is not a dirty word.

A typical back lane in Balad

cuisine

Due to the diverse nationalities in Jeddah, different cuisines are available. Indian restaurants, in particular, pop up like pimples after a durian feast.

We pick Sangeeth Restaurant, my friend’s personal favourite for their spicy chicken briyani rice.

We made our way through back lanes and main streets, only to find the restaurant close- not an uncommon sight. Muslims pray 5 times a day. During prayer time, most activities cease. This includes restaurants and shops.

Indian restaurants are everywhere.

As predicted, business resumed 10 minutes later.

The briyani rice did not disappoint. Steamed to near perfection with a healthy portion of raisins, each mouthful proved scrumptious. Each bite improved only by a taste of fried or butter chicken.

Speaking of butter chicken, its gravy texture is optimum. It also compliments the roti canai.

Spicy fried chicken
Butter chicken
Briyani rice

nuts,dates,sweets,chocolate

The variety in these shops is astonishing. Let it never be said that one visits Jeddah without a healthy snack of nuts and dates.

This brightly lit shop looks like Santa’s workshop. We exited the shop with bags and bags of treats. The shop attendants’ friendly demeanour, on top of the many free samples we were offered, is probably the culprit of the shopping spree went wild.

Abeer Sweets
Looks like Santa’s workshop

Gold, frankincense, myrrh,

perfume.

And the cute little lamp featured in the picture below.

Rub to get 3 wishes

One is spoiled for choice.

I have been told that the perfumes here include a special element that keeps the scent strong for days.

It is no wonder that some regard Balad as a shopping paradise.

Although I kept my valuables close, and alertness high, I admit that the place has its own personal charm.

 

The chatter.

The dust.

The merchants.

The food.

The town.

I Heart Melbourne City

melbourne, I’ll miss you

This might be my last trip to Melbourne for a very long time. The thought of leaving AirAsia X weighs heavy on my heart, but opportunities are waiting around the corner. And you know what Sherlock says? “Sentiment is a defect chemical found in the losing side”.

But sentiment is hefty, and I’m determined to drink in every detail this city has to offer. We stay at Ibis Hotel on Swanston Street, situated on the fringe of Melbourne City. It’s location is crazy convenient, and I love it.

Ibis Hotel Swanston Street

Of trams, buildings, and sculptures

I step into the cold breezy Australian air. Tiny droplets of rain cling to the tip of my shoulder length brown black hair. I begin a steadfast march towards the city center. Pedestrians in Melbourne City are a usual sight, so I’m not alone in my quest.

The drizzle graduates into a downpour. I raise the hood of my jacket and stick my hands into the pockets, each footstep advanced with renewed resolve. I’m surprise at the sights I’ve missed. The beauty I unknowingly graze over in my oblivious haste.

RMIT University

Cling-clang-cling-clang steals my attention as a crowded tram speeds past me. I noticed a green and purple building to my left, how such a uniquely coloured building escaped my attention beats me. Upon further inquiry, I discover that it’s the RMIT University.

Melbourne Library Sinking Building Sculpture

Soon, I arrive at a sculpture that’s never earn the time of my day. Today, I blink at the sinking building in amazement. So many questions, so little time. But those questions will have to wait till another day…

State Library of Victoria

Because I love libraries. So while I’m snapping my shutters away at random buildings and sculptures, the State Library of Victoria cannot escape my agenda.

I’m hungry

The buildings and sculptures distracted me from the growing grumble in my stomach. Only when I stumbled upon my favourite restaurant, Mekong, was I reminded. Mekong serves pho, a traditional Vietnamese rice noodle soup. During lunch hours, Mekong is always full to the brim. The workers try their best to optimise the seating space, but a line is inevitable. As usual, I opt for the sliced beef pho. A placard on the wall provide step by step instructions on how to best enjoy the noodles.

Mekong Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup
Mekong’s Interior.
I love my pho (Vietnamese noodle soup).
President Bill Clinton Had 2 Bowls. How Many Can You Have?

scroll to continue my stroll

China Town.

 

A busy crossroad
Melbourne Flinders Street Station

Stomach full and satisfied, I pursue my mission. I passed Chinatown and several busy crossroads. The positive energy is electrifying, and I breathe in every detail, missing Melbourne already.

Hot chocolate.

It has been said that Melbourne is the city of cafes. Therefore, I grab myself a hot chocolate to complete the experience.

throwback

I’ve had my fun here. From strutting down an alley of glowing graffiti grandeur, to darting pass street performers in hopes of beating Mind Game‘s closing time (life of a geek’s wife). Not to mention bracing the bitter cold with my set crew after a late arrival for China Bar, because it is one of the few 24 hours restaurant in the vicinity. It’s no wonder I’ve forged an attachment to this radiant and (literally) colourful city.

Strutting my zing in a Melbourne City sidewalk.

Then there was that time my bud Gloria dropped by the day I was in town. The weather was pleasant, so we strolled down the streets and towards the Yarra River.

Photo credit: www.melbcruises.com.au

Here, people paddled in kayaks, their tone arms render me conscious of my own flabby ones. Ferries wheeze by and we waved to the tourist onboard. A teenage couple sat under a tree making out, and I actually felt bad for staring.

Chilling by Riverland.

but its not goodbye forever

Like cheese cake and Sherlock, Melbourne city carved a unique place in my heart. The buzzing streets. The splashy buildings. The luscious food.

I’ll miss you, Melbourne. Till next time.

Nasi Lemak Worth the Wait?

“1 hour! I’ve been waiting for 1 hour!”

People are starting to stare. I’m staring.

The lady boss’ attempts to calm the agitated customer proved futile. Oh, he’s flailing his arms.

1 hour earlier…

My husband and I arrived to the hustle- bustle of the famous Village Park Nasi Lemak. Extra tables line the sidewalk, each one occupied. I counted 20 people waiting in line at the cashier. The atmosphere resembled a morning market: people talking to people, and people talking over people. Judging by the number of ang mohs (westerners) seated at various tables, this restaurant’s reputation precedes itself.

After waiting in line for about 5 minutes, we are led to a corner table for two. A polite and no- nonsense Myanmar waiter in a cap greeted us. We quickly ordered the acclaimed nasi lemak with ayam goreng (fried chicken). Then, we added chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll) as a side. Thus began the tiresome task of waiting.

15 minutes and a short debate about the ethical repercussions from Harambe the Gorilla’s incident later, the drinks arrived.

We sip on our barley and Teh-O for another solid 15 minutes before the food was served.

I took a mouth full of rice. It was fragrant, the santan (coconut milk) taste present yet not overwhelming; slightly moist, texture favourable. The sambal (hot sauce) was a perfect balance of sweet, spicy and savory. The perfectly salted ikan bilis (anchovy) and crunchy peanuts complete the trio. Cucumbers aligned the edge of the plate.

The ayam goreng was hot, which might explain but does not excuse the 30 minutes wait. A bite of chicken proved pleasant to the taste buds. But the pleasure ends there. The meat put my teeth to work extra hard. Based on the sardine- fish- in- can feel one gets from this restaurant, the turnover rate of chicken should be pretty high. However, excuse me when I say that the chicken might have died a solid year before actual consumption. But I realized this might be an isolated case, since nobody else has aired similar concerns.

The chee cheong fun spotted semi thick sweet brown sauce, of which I smeared all over my rice rolls. The slightly spicy sambal gave the chee cheong fun the right boost. I let the blend of plain carbohydrates, sweet and spicy settle in my mouth, savoring the enjoyable flavour.

The growing line of customers pressured us to vacate our seats. We headed for the cashier…

…Where we were met by the raised voice of the unsatisfied customer. He has been waiting for an hour, he says. I pitch in about our waiting time, although 30 minutes is pale in comparison. The customer behind joins in. I make a few passing remarks about the management style. I mean, they don’t cook the Nasi Lemak plate by plate, do they? The rice is steamed batch by batch in rice cookers large enough to bath a 2 months old baby. The sambal, cucumbers, ikan bilis and peanuts are pre-prepped. The crowd is no stranger, so the waiting time suggests a lack of planning and poor management.

Then the guy next in line delivers the million-dollar verdict, “if you think the food is worth the wait, then wait”.

My husband and I exchange looks.

I shrug.

We’ll wait.