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Friday, January 31, 2020

Chinese New Year 2020

Koong Hei Fatt Choy to all my Chinese readers who are celebrating Chinese New Year!

Sorry for the lack of update as I was back in my beautiful hometown of Ipoh for 5 days to celebrate the Lunar New Year.  The days seem to pass so swiftly when you're with all your favorite people and having loads of fun with them. Today is the 7th day of CNY and the CNY atmosphere seems to have dissipated the moment we returned to KL on the 3rd day of CNY and instead replaced with another kind of vibe. 

Everyone's talking about Coronavirus since the start of the CNY.  The topic of discussion during our CNY dinner on the 3rd day of CNY with the Yaps was centered on the novel Coronavirus / Wuhan Virus.  As we have relatives who are frequent travelers, everyone couldn't help but to talk about the latest epidemic that has swept like wild forest fires to many parts of the world, including our country. As of the date of this post, there are 7 confirmed cases in Malaysia.

The mil left for Chiang Mai early yesterday morning for a holiday with sil #2 from Hong Kong. I've been helping her get ready for this trip since two weeks ago with multiple trips to the pharmacies and clinic. I called most of the hospitals in the Klang Valley to ask if there's stock for the flu shot but all the hospitals and clinics in Malaysia have run out of stock! SIL #2 from Hong Kong also asked us to help her buy cartons of face masks but most pharmacies in Ipoh and Klang Valley have run out of stock too.  Same goes for hand sanitizer. Fortunately we managed to get a box of N95 face mask from a pharmacy in Ipoh (last box) for the mil to pass to SIL from Hong Kong when they meet in Chiang Mai.  Two days ago the mil made a trip to a warehouse in Klang to get a few cartons of face masks for SIL #2.  A family friend managed to help us pre-order a few cartons of this precious commodity!

One carton contains 1000 pieces (50 pieces x 20 boxes)

Thousands of pieces of face masks went with the mil and another family friend to Thailand yesterday for the Hong Kongers who are in desperate need of them.

OK, back to my main topic - Chinese New Year 2020!

Our trip back to Ipoh on the eve of the eve of CNY went pretty smooth, except for the traffic congestion in Selayang. It took 3 hours to reach Ipoh (with one toilet stop) instead of the usual 1 hour 40 minutes.  The returning trip on the 3rd day of CNY only took 2 hours as we left Ipoh at 7:30 a.m.

Doting indulgent daddy got the girls Baskin-Robbins ice cream at the Tapah R&R and they ate it in his car, something that I prohibit the girls from doing in my car 😐

The gourmand hubs just had to get his fix of Hakka noodles on the eve of CNY. We had this a couple of hours before our reunion lunch with the Yaps at Mun Choong Restaurant.  CNY is all about food, eh?

Cass helped her dad to wash car to earn some pocket money to buy more novels.

Our reunion lunch at Mun Choong Restaurant:

And this is our reunion dinner at my parents':

A huge spread of CNY dishes, all lovingly cooked by my 77-year old papa who loves cooking.

This year hubs bought a big fat capon / castrated chicken (RM210 for the capon) from KL to bring back to Ipoh for the reunion dinner. The capon weighed 3.5kg and has firm and tasty meat.  Some chicken lovers even eat the capon skin as it tastes better than regular chicken skin but chicken skin is a big NO NO for me.   A capon is a cockerel that has been castrated to improve the quality and taste of its flesh.

Papa started to prep the 'yeong ho si' (stuffed dried oysters with fish meat) a few days before the reunion dinner. It's a Hakka dish that my late paternal grandmother would cook every CNY - tedious to prep as it involves many steps. Thanks papa for cooking my favorite dish 💗

The cousins played with firecrackers after dinner.  When we were kids, my papa never failed to buy firecrackers for my brothers and me to play every CNY and that was the best part of CNY for us, besides the Fanta Grape and Fanta Strawberry soda 😍

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sunday Lunch, 12 January 2020

Last Sunday we had our first lo sang of the year at Gold Dragon City Restaurant, PJ - 11 days before Lunar New Year on 25 January 2020.  Hubs' cousin from London joined us for lunch.

Hubs ordered a Yee Sang with abalone and jelly fish, which was the star of the show that afternoon.

Have you ever tried yee sang with abalone?  If you're a lover of abalone, you're going to love this platter with chewy abalone. I prefer abalone to raw salmon but if abalone is ordered, be prepared to pull out more notes from your wallet la...

Do you know that the abalone in yee sang has an auspicious connotation to it?  Abalone (pao yu) means guaranteed luck or success.  And if raw fish is added, the fish (yu) represents abundance in Chinese.

The higher you toss, the better. Huatttttt arrrrr!  May this year be a big 'huat' year for all of us!

Stir-fried assorted vegetables with water chestnut, fried cuttlefish and macadamia nuts; steamed Soon Hock fish.  The fish meat texture is superb - succulent, fresh and sans any fishy odour.

Stir-fried choy yuen; braised fish maw and pig veins in claypot.

And two hearty meat temptations - stir fried Chinese bullfrogs (tin kai) koong po style and fried nam yue pork ribs, especially for the carnivorous men.

After lunch, we walked across to Awesome Canteen for cakes, coffee and juices.

Cempedak cake is oh so comfortingly good, fluffy and filled with chunks of aromatic cempedak. Love it!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Butcher Carey @ Plaza Damas 3

Where's the best place to eat the best steak in the Klang Valley? It has got to be at a place where the steak is cooked by the owner himself. And who also happens to be a butcher. And a banker.  This place is no other than Butcher Carey, a NO FRILLS steak house with fewer than 8 small tables.  Everything about this restaurant from the decor to the cutlery to the food and drinks is NO FRILLS and simple; it gives you the feeling that you're eating at your parents', with dad serving you his homecooked steak and salad.

We were treated to a lovely lunch of juicy steaks at Butcher Carey on New Year's Eve, courtesy of eldest SIL from Hong Kong. It's a belated lunch treat to hubby, whose birthday was a day earlier.

Pic credit - walauwei.com

The restauran’s owner, Chef Yusof Dayan Iskandar Carey is one macho handsome butcher, though at initial glance, he looks like some grouchy and unapproachable chef 😂

Chef Yusof started his career life as a banker, but after six years he decided to follow his passion to become a butcher.   It’s really strange that for an erudite banker to be drawn to butchery as an alternative career, of all jobs! 

When he decided to pursue his passion, he threw caution to the wind and moved to the remote Australian town of Toowoomba. There, he started from the bottom, working at a butchery business for months learning just to sharpen knives.  This led him to be an apprentice butcher, then as an artisanal master butcher and as a general manager for an international livestock company, and to ultimately found a renowned meat shop and steak restaurant chain in Malaysia.  What a great feat!

Having successfully turned his passion into a lucrative career, a few years ago he sold his business to enjoy the fruits of his 25-year labour of love.  However, after a year experiment with retirement, Chef Yusof is back in the butchery business. This time with a singular aim and scant regard for unnecessary trappings of a modern restaurant.  He just does what he loves — grilling top notch steaks, sourced from best quality farms.  His purposeful drive has enabled him to take his passion and give it the necessary craft for success.

Avocado salad - a simple salad of Romaine lettuce, red onions, tomatoes and sliced avocado seasoned with cracked black pepper and a little Thousand Island.  Cass commented that this is the best salad she's ever tasted.

Addictive sweet potato fries.

Pasta, which is sans any decor. Pretty delish though and the entire plate was polished off.

Juicy lamb chops

And the steaks. I didn't manage to snap pix of the other steaks that my SILs and MIL ordered though as they were already whacking their steaks.

Chef Yusof brings out the frying pan and serves the piping hot steak on our plate.

Butcher Carey
A-0-10, Block A, Plaza Damas 3
Jalan Sri Hartamas 1
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Call 019-338 0811

Monday, January 6, 2020

What We'd Been Up To

The school holidays last December had been one of the busiest for us. Decembers have always been leisurely for us but last December was filled with events, entertaining of relatives, late nights and early morning outings and lots of food marathons.  Hubby's cousin, Melissa and her new hubby came back from New Zealand to celebrate their wedding. Their ROM was done in New Zealand. The Yaps from near and far came back just before Christmas and the celebrations only ended on 1 January 2020. I have so many pictures taken at the church wedding, hotel wedding, Chinese tea ceremony and all the glorious food that we feasted on that I don't know where to start!  I'll start from early December 2019 at the start of the school holidays.  Here you go:

In Ipoh, mum gave the girls an angpow each for Christmas and they could buy anything that they wanted with the money. While Sherilyn bought novels, Alycia and Cass got themselves a 800-piece and 500-piece jigsaw puzzle respectively from Puzzle Planet and they lugged back the bulky boxes of puzzles plus the frame all the way back to KL by train. They started on their puzzle project the day they came back from Ipoh and Cass completed her 500-piece puzzle of One Piece (a Japanese anime) the next day. Alycia's 800-piece puzzle (scenery of Kyoto) is still left half incomplete.  Cass started to love jigsaw puzzles since she was 3 years old and still loves puzzles and Lego.

Looks can be deceiving - looks easy but ain't easy.  The puzzle pieces are very tiny and it involves tons and tons of patience, mental acuity and lazer sharp vision to sort out and find the pieces to solve the puzzle. I am one who doesn't have such patience. My eyes will go blurry looking at the puzzle pieces making me dizzy.

It's good to turn off the screens and spend time playing with jigsaw puzzles but this littlest brat ignored my instructions for her to sleep and stayed up till 1:30 a.m. to fix the puzzle. Boy was I enraged with her pig-headedness!

Cass' framed up One Piece puzzle. The puzzles are made of plastic and can't disintegrate easily. The frame costs almost the same as the puzzle and the framed puzzle makes a very pretty decor which can be hung up on the wall. The set of 500-piece puzzle and frame cost almost RM150.

Cass managed to fish out two bouncy balls from the claw machine @ Aeon, Kinta Cinty Ipoh this holiday. She seems to have a fetish with bouncy balls and her collection of bouncy balls you see from the photo here are all her winnings from claw machines and cost me  approximately RM20. I told her that I could easily get her these cheap balls from a toy shop but she likes the adrenaline rush from the claw machine 😏

A day after her 16th birthday, I took Alycia to Family Mart to claim her free macha sofuto (free ice cream in your birthday month when you download the Family Mart app on your mobile phone) while I got the Belgium chocolate sofuto for myself, which is the best in the world - tastes better than Haagen Dazs and pretty close to Godiva's as it's not sweet and very chocolaty.

Before dessert, we had Japanese economy rice, which ain't very economical though. A set of 2 types of vegetables and 1 meat with Japanese rice plus a cup of green tea costs RM10.

We were at Sunway University to view a film production showcase, where chosen student works produced that semester were being screened. Alycia intends to pursue a degree in film-making / film producing / cinematography and by a stroke of luck, I befriended a girl at Sherilyn's dance studio who gave us this opportunity to see firsthand what film production undergrads do. This girl who's 19 years old, is a very talented competitive dancer, a part-time actress and pursuing a degree in law. She has friends who are pursuing a BA of film production at Sunway University.

My Harry Potter devout's dream is to own a set of HP Lego worth RM2,000! It will be hers IF she gets straight As in her UPSR exam 😁

On sedentary days, we all go to the gym at night.

The bookworm still hooked to her novels on the air walker.

The view from my treadmill.

Hubs brought us to Nike @ Pavilion to shop for Nike shoes and apparel! It's our annual year-end affair, his  gifts to us for Christmas. Thank you very much darling 💗

Before shopping at Nike, we first had lunch at Simmer Huang.

With a history dated back to 100 years ago, Simmer Huang presents a cross century dining experience through their Qing Dynasty recipes with its first flagship store in Malaysia, located on the 8th floor of Pavilion Elite KL.

The staff first started off by heating up an induction Simmer Pot and melted a huge piece of coagulated vegetable oil, then threw in more than 10 types of vegetables including onions, garlic, celery, sweet potato, carrot, mushroom, etc.. Juices from the vegetables will be slowly released, creating natural sweetness to the base of Simmer Pot. Wolfberries oil, herbs and spices were added in, followed by your choice of main. It can be Tiger Grouper Filler Pot (RM150), Red Snapper and Cod Fillet Pot (RM130), Signature Chicken Pot (RM90), Assorted Seafood Pot (RM130), Prawn And Cuttlefish Pot (RM130), Pork And Fungus Pot (RM110), Australian Beef Pot, Assorted Pork Pot (RM110),  amongst others.

Next, the sauce, which is the key ingredient to Simmer Huang’s Simmer Pot. There are five types of  sauce to choose from, namely Classic Sauce, Seafood Sauce, Spicy Sauce, Hot and Spicy and Soy Sauce.

Throughout the cooking process, not a single drop of water was added. This is how intense the flavors of the ingredients are. However, non of us really enjoyed the food. I guess we're too used to stir-fried, grilled or fried food.   I think that the way the food is cooked is pretty similar to how some health freaks prep their food - by steaming or simmering their food.  My mum who is a health freak preps most of her dishes this way, without frying.

Not feeling 100% satisfied with his lunch, we had lunner two hours later after shopping at Nike, at Mak's Chee Authentic Wonton. We thoroughly enjoyed the springy noodles sprinkled generously with flavorful 'jor hau yue' fish powder.

Mak’s Chee Authentic Wonton is a quick casual restaurant serving authentic Hong Kong style wonton noodles, using a nearly 100-year old recipe from the Mak’s Family that is originated from a street-side eatery in Guangzhou since 1923.

I hope I'm not too late in wishing all my beloved readers a very Happy New Year! Better late than never yeah? May 2020 be the year that all your dreams turn into reality - and that you actually keep your New Years resolutions 😉