Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Hubs!

My best friend.
My cosying partner.

My moonlight romance.

My shoulder to cry on.

My let's-grow-old-together.

My sunrise and sunset.

Here's to many more birthdays together!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

God Bless the United States of America!

Picture courtesy of MSNBC.

Tuesday, 20th January 2009.

Excerpt from CNN:

(CNN) -- Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States and the nation's first African-American president Tuesday. This is a transcript of his prepared speech.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again, these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Restaurant Ipoh Chicken Rice, Mid Valley Megamall Boulevard, Kuala Lumpur

The whole family seems to love "sweaty chicken" (common folks call it pak cham kai), except me. I just can't eat chicken that is pale and has skin with all its sweat pores showing. But, occasionally, I go along....
We had pork meatballs in chicken rice soup.

And beansprouts.
They had the pak cham kai (steamed chicken) topped with a generous slathering of ground ginger.
I was content to dine on the honey bbq-ed chicken leg. Pity it didn't have the barbecued smoky flavour, methinks this was roasted in an oven rather than bbq-ed. It was juicy and flavourful, nonetheless.

This restaurant is situated at the boulevard area of Mid Valley Megamall, opposite Starbucks, on the same row as RHB Bank. It took over the lot that was Tu Long restaurant.

Pretty standard chicken rice fare, I would give it a 3-bam.

Diary of a Dog vs Diary of a Cat

A friend forwarded this to me over the email, and I just had to laugh....

The Diary of a Dog

8:00am: Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30am: A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40am: A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30am: Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00pm: Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00pm: Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
2:00pm: Nap Time! My favorite thing!
3:00pm: Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00pm: Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00pm: Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00pm: Wow! Watched TV with my family! My favorite thing!
11:00pm: Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!*

The Diary of a Cat

It is day 683 of my captivity: My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape... In an attempt to disgust them, I vomit on the floor.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. The audacity! There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released --and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded! The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. The captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe....... for now.

Lounging on the window sill

My babies just love to lounge by the window.

Mankie just sleeps the day away.

Often, he completely passes out.
Not to be outdone, Mandy passes out too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

River View Seafood Restaurant, Pasir Penambang, Kuala Selangor, Selangor

It was a long drive from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Selangor before we finally arrived at our dinner table by the river.

A very aptly named restaurant. There were a couple of shops selling dried sea produce in front of this restaurant.
I like the view.
First on the menu, deep fried squid (RM12.00). They used baby squid for this dish, and it was crunchy and chewy at the same time.

Seafood curry (RM18.00) served as a great dip for the bread....

Bread (RM3.50).

The fried oyster omelette (RM12.00) had a strange bread taste....not used to the taste.

Yam basket with mayonnaise seafood salad (RM12.00), didn't try this dish as I wasn't a fan of yam nor mayo.

Curry prawns (RM16.00) was a simple dish of prawns in dry curry, with okra and pineapple bits.
Mantis shrimps kungpao style (RM12.00), sweet and not spicy at all (wish it were!).

This was everybody's favourite dish, the steamed fish (RM34.00) in laksa-ish spicy gravy. The fish was super fresh and the gravy was delectable.
The total bill for the 6 of us came up to RM130.80, not bad for the spread that we had.
For a map, do refer to:
River View Seafood Restaurant
#1, Jalan Besar, Pasir Penambang,
45000 Kuala Selangor, Selangor.
Tel: 03-32892238
Fax: 03-32896369

This far-away restaurant garnered a 3-bam rating.

I Have A Dream...

....Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

- Martin Luther King Jr.
delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., USA.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lai Foong Restaurant, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, Kuala Lumpur

Hubby's mom and dad used to patronise this shop long ago, when they were courting. So we took her and bro-in-law back here the other day, to try the beef noodle soup that her hubby used to eat.

They all had the beef noodles soup (RM4.50), complete with stomach and beef balls. The beef fillets were tender and the beefy taste was masked by a strong peppery taste. The broth was rich, yet not overpowering. This rates as one of the better beef noodle soup in town.

I had the fried kuey teow-mee (RM4.50), which was excellent. It came with plenty of cockles and lap cheong, it was dry (as opposed to soggy) and tasty, pretty close to what you would get in Penang.

Lai Foong is a corner shoplot located between Central Market and Kotaraya, which is also conveniently near Petaling Street.

Lai Foong Restaurant

138, Jalan Tun HS Lee,

Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03 2072 8123

The food here is good value for money, 3-bams!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wantan Mee @ Taman Gembira, Off Jalan Kuchai Lama, Kuala Lumpur

Our eating adventures continue....
When hubby didn't get enough siew yoke down his gullet during our first visit to Mooi Mooi Kopitiam, we stopped by this stall which was on the opposite side of the same playground that faces Mooi Mooi Kopitiam.

Hubby ate the char siew wantan mee with minced pork, which looked pretty good. The char siew was sliced paper thin though, but the noodles were really lardy in taste (which, to hubby, is a good thing). Yum yum!

Hubby rated it a 3-bam.

Siew Yoke @ Kedai Kopi & Makanan Mooi Mooi (aka Kum Kee Chicken Rice), Taman Gembira, Off Jalan Kuchai Lama, Kuala Lumpur

Armed with our Flavours Good Food Guide book, we went in search of Kum Kee Chicken Rice shop, not to eat chicken rice, but to eat the famous crispy siew yoke which was featured in the book.

Visit #1

We found the place after a few wrong turns, but there was no billboard stating "Kum Kee Chicken Rice". Instead, there was this corner kopitiam called Mooi Mooi, in which there was a stall selling assorted roast meats. The stall itself had no name on it.

But we recognised the rather prosperous looking proprietor (Bernard Ngin) from the photo depicted in the book, so we concluded our search. Bernard did not allow us to take a photo of him preparing the slabs of siew yoke in his backyard (trade secret at stake, methinks), so we had to surreptitiously take a photo from a distant, where we were seated.
A customer ordered this for take away. 1kg of siew yoke costs RM60.00 here. What a lovely sight. This had us salivating even before our meal arrived.....the anticipation was torturous.

It got really crowded really quick, there was a queue of people piling up. Though we went at 11.15am, we had to wait a long while before our meal arrived. Ordering a portion of char siew and siew yoke combo (RM12.00) for 2 persons was not sufficient, we discovered. Not enough to satisfy 2 very hungry carnivores. The char siew was really melt-in-your-mouth tender as we got the not-so-lean cuts, and the siew yoke was heavenly. And so....

Visit #2

We revisited, this time with hubby's mom and brother, armed with a better understanding of portions. We ordered a quarter roast chicken, the thigh area.

And 2 strips of sweet, sticky char siew. Tip: order the char siew that is not so lean, it's more tender. This round, we ordered the lean cut, which was more dry and chewy than what we had in Visit #1. And the best of them all, 2 strips of siew yoke. This beats even Wong Kee's siew yoke. Mom says it's now the reigning king of siew yoke. The skin is super crispy yet melts in the mouth. The meat is juicy and tender, and not as fatty as that found elsewhere. No wonder Bernard so jealously guarded his secret of making the perfect siew yoke.

The soup is free and free-flowing. I like!

Visit #2 cost RM68.00 for the 4 of us. And we even had excess char siew to tapau.

For directions, do refer to WMW's blog.

Kedai Kopi & Makanan Mooi Mooi
#94, Jalan Rukun 2,
Taman Gembira (off Jalan Kuchai Lama),
Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-79824902
Operating hours: 10.30am-3.00pm, closed on alternate Mondays.

The siew yoke here is tops, 4-bams!

Dragon-i Restaurant, Pavilion Mall, Kuala Lumpur

We were wandering around the Pavilion Mall the other day and bro-in-law took us to Dragon-i for a quick meal. We were full, but as usual, there's always room for more. :o)
We ordered the steamed rice with minced pork and fried foo yung egg (RM15.00). The rice had a lovely rose wine taste which was really fragrant and unique.

We also shared the Shanghainese steamed meat dumpling (RM9.00). This was good, with the soup still intact within the dumpling, takes a certain skill to create.

The fried carrot cake with shrimp (RM12.00) was the best we've had in KL so far. Each bit had crispy sides which gave this dish a certain deep-fried, slightly-burnt nuance which was perfect on the palate.
I ordered the barley beancurd skin soup with gingko and quail egg (RM6.00). I love this dessert from childhood days, pity there was only one quail egg in the bowl. The soup tasted like soya bean milk with bits of barley and gingko. I polished it up real quick.

Dragon-i Restaurant
Lot 1.13.00, Level 1,
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur,
168, Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur.

Dragon-i deserves a high 3-bam.

A Little Dim Sum Place, SS2, Petaling Jaya

Hubby's mom loves dim sum. The daintier, the better. So there I was, surfing the net, searching for a new dim sum place to take her to, when I stumbled upon a slew of postings on "A Little Dim Sum Place" by Precious Pea and WMW, amongst others.
We ordered char siew pau (it's called honey bbq pork bun on the menu), a staple (RM3.00).
The char siew filling within the pau.
This was my favourite; Sunshine bun (RM3.50).

Inside the Sunshine bun is molten salted-egg yolk custard. The pau tasted like kaya and butter mixed with mashed up salted egg yolk.....simply melt-in-your-mouth heavenly! This had both of us raving.
The avocado katafil (RM4.80) tasted strange, I guess you could say my palate wasn't quite so used to the avocado taste.
The bacon roll (RM5.80) was another winner. Hubby would have loved this.
King of Siew Mai (RM5.50) topped with very fresh, succulant prawns.....I couldn't resist ordering this, being a big prawn enthusiast.
Shrimp cage (RM5.50), another prawn-filled dish, this time deep-fried. Mom liked this one.
The fried radish cake with eggs and beansprouts (RM5.50) was one of the better ones we've tasted. They were very generous with the beansprouts.
We wanted to try the desserts they serve here, but by then, we were too stuffed to eat anymore.
The bill came up to RM38.65 for the 2 of us, ordering ala carte. They have all-you-can-eat dim sum buffet on weekends, I believe it costs RM26++ (or thereabouts) per person.
A Little Dim Sum Place
# 12, Jalan SS2/63,
47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel : 03-7873 1876
This dim sum place has a variety of dishes that are more unusual and exquisite than your normal neighbourhood dim sum kopitiam, garnering a 4-bam rating.