Friday, May 28, 2010

pork and musical p1 - sanbanto

I had promised neil-y that I'd blog about our evening of pork and musical. So all my other outdated posts sitting in the drafts would have to wait.

KP came to pick us up and introduced us to this gourmet cafe in SS2 serving and selling pork. Not just any pork, but according to its owners, premium hormone-free pig meat. On one side of the shop they sold different cuts of pork much like the non-halal section of supermarkets, while the remaining side were lined with tables for patrons to enjoy pork specialties.

I kinda lost interest in pork since living in Japan (where you can have all sorts of fresh fish for very affordable price!) so having this was like rediscovering pork all over again.

We started with the pork belly salad, which I thought was a nice way to disguise the sinfulness of eating the fried stuff which looked more like popcorn chicken. Yummy indeed, especially dipped in their home-made honey mustard sauce.

The English Roast Pork was a weekend special which came highly recommended. We didn't expect the serving to be so huge, since it was supposed to be for 2. It was served in a bed of grilled vegetables, to be sprinkled with bits of egg yolk and doused with lime and wine sauce.

Since we didn't expect the mains to come in such a portion, we added a pork liver pate for good measure. It came with slices of French village bread and decorated with a sprig of rosemary.

Save for an annoying fly which somehow managed to get into the air-conditioned cafe, the place was otherwise pretty clean and new. We were the first customers, so attention and service was prompt.

Recommended for pork lovers, since almost everything comes with some form of the meat. But they've managed to create variety in the serving and style of cooking that it's not obvious. For example, if you had served me the pork belly salad just like that, I would have thought it was some deep fried chicken skin balanced with greens.

Located along the same row as the famous sweets shop KTZ, Sanbanto is open for lunch & dinner.

Food : 6.5/10
Service : 6.5/10*
Ambience : 6/10

* Would have given a higher rating if not for the fact that we were hinted at to leave the place as soon as we were done with the meal. Understandable since the cafe has very limited seating and it was a weekend evening.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

registered, finally

The other Sunday I had invited Chernie to visit my church as Wes was scheduled to fly to Belgium that weekend.

So happened they had invited the SPR to set up booths so that those who have yet to register as voters (ahem, like me!) could do so. I was quite happy that they took the initiative to bring the SPR to us, as I had never found the time to go to the post office myself.

Well, during the first time I was eligible to vote, I never had much interest, not to mention knowledge, about the country's politics. All that changed when I left to further my studies and found myself catching up news on the happenings of the country, which sounded more like a circus and its clowns because of its entertainment value.

So I was quite unhappy to find that I was not allowed to vote out of the country in what was to be the tsunami that changed the political tide of Malaysia. Plus, it was my birthday, so it was a momentous date, to say the least. So I told myself I would get myself registered once I come back.

The process was so simple that it took less than 5 minutes. Chernie was there to support me, and she was so happy that I was finally registered. What we didn't know was that there were newspaper reporters taking pictures of the whole thing, and I was surprised to find that we appeared in The Star Metro a few days after!

See if you can spot us here :

Update 28 May 2010 : The last I checked on the electoral roll, there was no record of my registration...?!

Friday, May 21, 2010

two-faced sky

I sometimes take the LRT to work, though it's not actually better than the Komuter because it's further and I have to go through even more traffic to reach the Kelana Jaya station. The only consolation is that the trains are much more frequent and they actually arrive on time.

With the krazy weather these days, it can be scorching hot in the afternoons and rain heavily in the evening that there's no point checking the weather forecast anymore. You just gotta be prepared with an umbrella at all times.

So imagine my surprise when I reached the station quite late almost reaching 7pm and the sky is not yet dark. It's like a little treat when you find the sun still up, it feels as if you still have time to do many things before you retire.

As I stood at the parking lot enjoying the evening sky, I noticed the unique position I was at.

On my left it looked like a late afternoon blue sky.

Whereas on my right quite the opposite with bright contrasts as the sun sets down in the west.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

molten fingers

Last year the client I'm based at invited us for their Christmas party. They really treated us like one of them, even though we're not their staff. One big reason why I really like this client. Save for salary and benefits, almost everything else that a permanent employee get, contractors and vendors get too. That's how D&I* they are.

They hired the services of Wax Hand Union to provide gifts for us to bring back. It was quite an experience having my hand soaked in freezing cold water then dipped multiple times into hot wax.

After leaving the wax on the hand for about a couple of minutes, they would skilfully slip it out, attach a base and package into a box for us. I was quite happy because the sign I was trying to make with my fingers turned out pretty well.

I had left the box with the wax into one of our showcase cabinets at home, and hadn't bothered to look at it until recently. To my surprise, the wax had melted and lost its original shape! In fact, it almost looked like a disfigured sculpture.

In comparison, this was my original love pose. (In case you didn't know, this is the sign language for "I Love You") See how distorted it has become and you have an idea how much heat our modern houses are capable of retaining @.@

* D&I = Diversity & Inclusion

Sunday, May 09, 2010

indulging in kobe beef

One of the Japanese delicacies that I wholly recommend is the Kobe Beef. Many people ask what my favourite Japanese food is, half-expecting me to say something like sushi. I used to think it was sushi, but this was before I went to Japan and introduced to a whole lot of other delicious stuff that should be savoured there.

You know how I seem to stumble into good restaurants, not having been there nor heard if the food is good? Well this has to happen without any expectations, much like gut instincts when it just comes out of nowhere.

So while in Kobe during one of my summer trips we decided to try out the famed cow meat at the Wakkoku Kitano Honten restaurant. The menu didn't seem to have anything less than Yen1000 which was considered quite a luxury for students coming from Niigata.

But precisely because I was living in Niigata then, I had more savings compared to a student from a larger city like, say Tokyo. So I allowed myself to splurge a bit. Or maybe just this once!

I chose the Kitano sirloin lunch course which cost a whopping Yen10,500!

I later learned that the teppanyaki style of cooking which is considered very affordable in Malaysia is actually quite the epitome of high-class dining in Japan. Since the chef literally cooks in front of you, it is like paying for a live performance while having a dedicated chef to cook your heart's desire. This was probably my one and only time having teppanyaki as it's not as common as what they have here.

It comes with red wine served in glass (I know that's obvious, but I'm just referring to how it's described in the menu) >.<

Appetizer of seafood jelly which had me captivated for awhile because the 雑魚* looked like they were immortalised in gelatine.

Next was smoked salmon which is an absolute favourite. Eaten on its own, sprinkled with lemon or in a cream cheese sandwich, I just wish there were more of it!

While I was slowly nibbling on the salmon in an effort to prolong the enjoyment, the chef in front of us took out slabs of the precious Kobe beef. I learned from Sasaki-san (my former landlord's bff) that the more intense the marbling, the more tender it would be. It means that the fat is evenly distributed into the meat, making it even juicier, flavourful and also expensive. Guess that's what massaging does to the Wagyu cow!

First main course : Wagyu meat with more fatty parts. To dip in salt, pepper, special Wakkoku sauce and fine grilled pieces of garlic.

I have to tell you even with the first dish I was already marveling at how soft the meat is that it really melts in your mouth. It doesn't taste anything like meat at all!

Second main course : More Wagyu meat, but with less fatty parts. If this was normal beef, I would have stopped at the first dish as I'm not a big fan of steaks. But with M&M's-type meat this is just pure pleasure!

To help digest all that meat, we were served salad in between.

Third main course : Wagyu meat with vege - white radish, tofu, asparagus, brinjal, carrot and 蒟蒻*. Even when cooking, the ingredients are arranged neatly on the pan.

Even though the chef had already used most of the meat, cut into tidy chunks of squares, he didn't waste the "leftovers". The fatty end bits were chopped up, mixed with rice for a final dish of fried rice.

Looks simple, almost unappetizing, but just like the rest of the dishes this too was delicious.

Ended the course meal with a cup of tea and a piece of Petit Gâteau chocolate.

If you notice, the ingredients are cooked in its original form, with very little flavouring safe for dips and dressing. Those who are brought up on spicyoilyfatty Malaysian food may think this to be too bland but true Japanese cuisine is to enjoy food in its natural flavour.

I give Wakkoku Kitano two thumbs up for the memorable experience and excellent service. Kobe beef is definitely something to be indulged even if only once. But of course if you can afford it, you can go for as many times as you like!

* 雑魚 【ざこ; じゃこ】 (n) small fish; small fry
蒟蒻 【こんにゃく; コンニャク】 (n) (uk) solidified jelly made from the rhizome of devil's tongue

Thursday, May 06, 2010

ヒューンと薔薇 hyun and roses

お誕生日オメデトウ御座います、ヒューンちゃん!( ^^)Y☆Y(^^ )

A toast to Hyunhee's birthday which falls today, though I wish I could be there to celebrate with her.

She is one of the loveliest friends ever. Even though we're no longer hanging out like how we used to, I thank God for blessing me with her friendship in Tokyo. She would treat me to meals during those difficult months last year, even though she didn't need to.

She's such a grrly grrl that she fits well into the Japanese culture - she has frilly tops, lacy umbrellas and adores everything sweet and delicate.

Just when I thought I wouldn't have anymore sweet little things from Japan, I received a parcel from her a few weeks after my birthday.

Out came this chicken paper bag.

In it were these 2 snacks - macha flavoured nuts and 塩おかき* salty snacks which I loved! I am totally fine with Japanese cuisine especially since most flavouring revolves around the savoury.

Then came another flat packet with a simple pink ribbon ala AIDS Pink Ribbon style. I couldn't help but smile at the little details that Japanese packaging comes with, no matter how simple they look.

When I used to shop for gifts in Niigata, even the cheapest item could still be gift-wrapped and all it needed was just a strip of ribbon and sticker for a finishing touch that transforms a boring wrapping into a thoughtful one.

I couldn't help but get excited as I saw the little applique butterfly on the embroidered handkerchief. Another Japanese accessory that is a must for ladies. Very useful during summertime so that you can do the refined thing of dabbing gently at beads of sweat that falls down the face.

And more goodies to delight the senses. Since it was nearing spring then, and she must know how I missed the four-seasons there, she added some sakura stickers and cherry blossom "guest soaps" for good measure.

The postcard that she wrote me can only be sent from Hyun because the roses and lace are just so her! See if you can spot the Eiffel Tower in there. Now this really reminded me of Paris and all the lovely memories of a romantic city.

* 御欠き; 御 【おかき】 (n)  (uk) mochi cut thin, dried, and baked or fried