Friday, 28 December 2012

Rant: Bakka Sync

Made a huge mistake recently of deleting the photo folder on my Google+ account and now all my blogposts are devoid of pictures! GAHHHHH!

Aiieeeeee!
Re-posting the all the pics will take way too much time and what is worse is that I no longer have some of the pics in my keeping. 

Bakka Sync-ing. Must remember no to sync accounts this way ever again. BAKKA BAKKA BAKKA!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Langkawi Chronicles: Stray Overload

A total of 27 days now I have been in Langkawi. Much is yet to be seen and experienced of course. But I am drawn towards a serious problem in Langkawi - stray animals.

Langkawi it seems has a situation with regards to cats and dogs. They are just everywhere. I find myself finding animals everywhere I go. And for many of those cases, the animals don't look too healthy.

Rail thin kittens, flea bitten dogs, mangy toms abound almost anywhere human habitation or business exist.

I have visited the volunteer run animal sanctuary Langkawi LASSie here near Pantai Cenang, they can be found here http://bit.ly/KKAXep, and they are doing their damnedest best to control the ever increasing population growth. I see many cats and dogs, carrying the signature LASSie treatment mark, which to me at least, suggest that some battles are still being valiantly fought despite the odds.

I am not too sure how long the good guys there can keep it up but bless their kind hearts and willing bodies to take up such an undertaking.

Honestly, I don't understand why some people can keep pets and then when the habit becomes inconvenient, say for instance, they got to move elsewhere, the pet falls ill, the cuteness wears off, the animal grows old and requires incrementally greater care, or others, t he very same people who swears a while ago that they love their pets can blithely abandon their animals.

Frequently I find, to my horror, updates on the FB page of LASSie of some found, abandoned or neglected animal. It breaks my heart.

I am not in a position now to offer more help, but I soon hope to be able to. In the meantime, spare them some care and thought and much needed love and help out any which way you can - Cash, Kind, Support, Words of Encouragement or Helping to spread the word around. 
There is something everyone can do to help!
Please consider helping out! Tigger and Munchkin and many more of their brethren need our continued love!

Doe-eyed Tigger!

Me Mini Munchkin!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Langkawi Chronicles: BuraqOil

Petrol stations are few and far in between in Langkawi. Trying to find my favourite brand Shell, is nigh on inconvenient. There is only 1 outlet in the whole of Langkawi, and to add insult, it is in Kuah, easily 3 kilometers away from where I live. Some Petronas outlets here and there in the primary townships, but am not a fan of their petrol anyways.

Driving around the other day, I found this sad looking outlet in Temoyong (yes, really, Temoyong. I have no idea what that means!), and another, at the end of jalan Chandek Kura (don't ask).



It used to have a small convenience store and a cashiering system. Now, all that's left is only a tragic reminder of the snack store and the office, being run by a kid who I guess is probably 10 years old (but entrepreneurial!). Le sad!

:)

Langkawi Chronicles : Job Well Done!

The team here just successfully attended to a family clan get-together of a well known Malaysian VIP. 

The group started check-in into our resort on 16th and on 22nd they left. 36 persons in total. We made arrangements for their rooming, in-house meals and activities as well as planned for their off-resort fun. 

In all, it has been a challenging run for me and the team and  I am thankful that my counterpart who will soon return to HQ was present to tag-team the tasks. 

Select individuals from HQ was also flown to the resort to help out, of which I am also thankful for. Catering for a group of such discerning tastes is no easy task. Having them come from different parts of the world also puts an interesting requirement to the planning. 

Indoor games & activities - karaoke, carrom, congkak, jenga, chess and more, were set up for their use. Ping Pong & Water Polo tournaments, Beach & Sea Adventures - island hop, jet ski, para-sailing & banana-boat rides, rest & relaxation spa treatments,  as well as tourist trap go-sees were negotiated, plotted and replotted. Dinner bookings and menu planning were to me the most exciting, trying to feed and satisfy so many eager mouths. 

It was a long and hard week for the lot of us, and many, who were not used to the punishing workload were visibly struggling, but we managed to soldier on despite our aching bodies. Many ended working upwards of 14 hours everyday (I myself worked 0700-0030 almost daily). Logistics alone was a puzzling workout!

At the end most importantly, our guests all had nice things to say and were appreciative of the level of attention and care we accorded them. The guests shook our hands warmly as we bid them adieu. It was almost sad to see them leave, mixed with a sense of accomplishment on a job well done. 

We received a small tip at the end left by our gracious guest and I can wait to share with the team. I got a personal gift from the VIPs themselves, a humble gift of a Pelikat sarong. To many, this would be a tiny gift, but to some Johoreans, being gifted with Pelikat, or it's female variant, Batik Lepas, is an expression of honest gratitude and the solemn doa for well-being for the recipient. 

I was dumbstruck as this was possibly the quiet meaning behind the gesture.   



Sunday, 11 November 2012

Out & About: Simple Eats in Kg Sungai Menghulu.

Chanced upon this nameless Tom Yam stall barely 200 meters away from my rental. Simple and humble to the point of being decidedly Meh, but the results of what I ordered for dinner really surprised me.

Simple dish of Tom Yam Fried Rice and Vegetable Soup came out super. It could have been the combination of hunger and cold weather influencing me but both dishes were really good.

First off the rice portion was like ENORMOUS! Then, it was very richly flavored, packed with the spicy, sweet, sour and herby flavours one would expect a Tom Yam to carry. Each grain of the rice was coated in this delicious mix and wok fried. Some recklessly thrown in firecracker bird's eye chillies also added zing!

Nasi Goreng Tom Yam (that is not the full portion, had tucked into it before realizing I haven't taken a pic) and Sup Sayur.

The Vegetable soup was something off the scale altogether. All my life, I would have invariably be served a mix of 2 or 3 vegetables overcooked in bland stock. This one had carrot sticks, chopped chinese kale, fresh young corn, onion slices, cauliflower florets, cabbage ribbons, tomato chunks, slivers of sliced chicken boiled in the deepest yet clearest oxtail broth (it is vegetable soup, not Vegetarian soup after all). All this was then topped with a poached egg!! Egg, in a soup?

Imagine tucking into a spoonful of garlic infused beefy goodness, imbued with the natural sweetness and lightness of the vegetables, gently held together with the familiarity of chicken and that wonderful aroma of eggs. Ahhhhhh Joy!

It is really really good, and coming from such a seemingly boring place, it was a complete surprise for me.
And I have been having the same soup for dinner for 5 days straight. That is how good it is!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A week into Langkawi

It is almost a full week now since I started this new position in Langkawi.

It feels good.

My colleague who picked me up at the office is a great conversationalist. Looks very young too despite being in his forties. And he has a healthy obsession for Samsung Galaxy Note, like me. So it was a wonderful start to my working life here.

Finding lodging is somewhat of a challenge, I had to room at a motel, which very quickly ate into my life funds. Thankfully, thanks to some well meaning friends, I have finally acquired a room in this place between Kuah Town & Bayas. Alas, this room is somewhat a distance from the main road and thus exacerbating the weak 3G signal coverage.

I am internet-less at home. Gahhh! Thankfully, work has WiFi and coverage on my own device hovers around 3 Mbps in Cenang. So all is not lost.

I aim to acquire a proper domicile by the start of December in an area with better 3G reception. Until then, it would be just a matter of coping.


Peculiar things about Langkawi:

1) People here like to smile a lot. Everyone here seems to be entertaining some funny thought and walk around with this amused expression on their faces.

2) Tom yam stalls here serve good food albeit a tad heavy on the seasoning (as if the salty tang of the air has somewhat impaired their ability to actually taste salt!) and so the cooks overcompensate.

3) One cannot get lost here!

4) Spectacular views abound.



5) The weather can play a cruel trick, like "ooh, sunny views of the beaches,lets snap a few pics", then it rains!

6) No one drives above 70Km/h here, speed limit notwithstanding, locals drive at a very leisurely average of 45Km/h. Drives city boys like me crazy!

7) Everyone seems to be  an 'Anak menakan' (relative) of someone.

8) Pet stores here actually carry Hedgehogs! Albino ones too, and Ferrets!!

9) There are only 3 McDonald's here (and 1 isn't even open until December). And only 2 KFCs! Gaahhh!

10) There's a bazillion shops selling Household & Kitchenware. Ridiculous!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Langkawi Sojourn

It has finally happened. I find myself in Langkawi.

Started the journey at an ungodly 3a.m on 31 October and after about 5 hours of measured driving, I reached Kuala Kedah jetty. 


Booked my car to be overnight-ed to the island and then got myself a water shuttle for Kuah.


A noisy ferry ride later I was back in Langkawi after years of not setting foot here.


Locals have said that everyone who imbibes the water from Gunung Raya will return to the island time and again. Curious urban legend considering most of Langkawi's water supply actually comes from the same mountain!


I have fond memories of this place, first as a 'petit stagierre' years ago on an industrial culinary attachment, then again as a tourist. Years later I came back for some F&B related development for the MH Airline Lounge. 


Now I am here again. 


:)

Monday, 22 October 2012

Almost there!

I have barely  2 weeks before I embark on a new chapter in my career (is that even the right operating word here?). 

Just a few more hoops to jump through and all will be set. 

I have grown quite a bit because of all that has happened, at least I think I did, professionally and emotionally. There was real interesting people along the way. Some of them nice, some of them great and some of the astounding (from both sides of the spectrum of course). 

I would like to think that I have learned many things from all of them, and God willing, soon I will have the wisdom to recall in great detail the individual lessons. 

As expected, the closer the date looms, the more jittery I get, but I guess that is normal to feel, considering I have been with MH for a long while. I know I will miss my friends and colleagues, some of which who are deeply more than just acquaintances. 

Oh the melancholy, I am still here but I already miss them. 

This is for you guys out there, you know who you are ya!

video

A cover of Lady Antebellum's - Need You Now, by Charlie Puth and Emily Luther

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Of Life & Bungee Jumping.

Nice to have tall friends huh?

The offer came in today, after long last.

I know I want it, but there is still a hint of hesitation in me. Fear of the unknown and the forthcoming possibilities. Changing jobs after being with one establishment for most of my professional career has its own set of probabilities (and worries).

Hard to reconcile that I was loyal, if loyal is indeed the right description here, for more than 10 years. I had the best of times, and the worst, all things considered.

Mum found out and she wasn't exactly ecstatic about the possible change. But I think I got through to her the fact that I needed to try something else. And that it isn't only about financial gains, but of broadening my experience and talent.

GF also in my mind at least, seemed a little sad. She is definitely happy for me, knowing the full extent of situation resultant from my departmental transfer, but I also risk our relationship. The distance could be a serious impediment to our being together.

Siblings both gave their views after I asked. And they both offered insights like no other.

My best friend gave me solid advice - "We won't know whether Bungee-ing is fun until after the jump".

Time to step off the ledge then.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Out & About: Farewell Lunch at Shang Villa

Had a wonderful lunch a few days ago with all my office colleagues at this place called Shang Villa, a small Chinese restaurant cum cafe in Kelana Jaya.

As it was my first time there, a colleague who has frequented the place took charge and ordered some dishes for our group lunch.

Wonderful Chinese style fried bee hoon Singapore-style

Fried Thai Tofu

Kangkung Belacan

Petai Goreng (with Yardbeans & Brinjal)

Lemon Chicken

Chicken Kapitan curry (which is actually a super thick Gulai Asam)

Chinese style fried rice.
Strange that I have not heard of this little gem of a mom-n-pop restaurant despite it being so close to my office in Kelana Jaya.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Glitter In The Air


Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands?
Close your eyes and trust it, just trust it.
Have you ever thrown a fist full of glitter in the air?
Have you ever looked fear in the face,
And said I just don't care?

And it's only half past the point of no return.
The tip of the iceberg.
The sun before the burn.
The thunder before the lightning.
Breath before the phrase.
Have you ever felt this way?

Have you ever hated yourself for staring at the phone?
Your whole life waiting on a ring to prove you're not alone
Have you ever been touched so gently, you had to cry?
Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?

It's only half past the point of oblivion.
The hourglass on the table.
The walk before the run.
The breath before the kiss.
And the fear before the fight.

Have you ever felt this way?

There you are, sitting in the garden
Clutching my coffee,
Calling me sugar.
You called me sugar!

Have you ever, wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight.
Have you ever, held your breath and asked yourself,
Will it ever get better than tonight?

Tonight.


Found this gem of a song by Pink. I love her when she sings in a restrained manner such as how she did this one.

Spot of Navel Gazing!

Had trouble sleeping yesterday, probably on account of the copious amounts of coffee I had earlier in the day. Smartphone in hand and deathly bored, I surfed the net.

Googled myself and found some stuff I had totally forgotten about. Fluff from my time in my former department, the glory days if you may.

The Star Education Buzz!

I had to conciously check myself from guffawing too loudly in the dead of night. When I was first posited the idea by Comms Department that day, I was laughing so hard over the phone, I must have insulted her in the process. God bless her soul for even thinking of me to be part of a series representing my company.

When the interview was done, I was a nervous wreck, which is quite strange as I am a voluble kind of guy. The journalist was asking all these questions and his photographer was like buzzing here and there snapping shot after shot (she had to, in pursuit of a flattering angle). In the end, that mug of mine was what they had to settle on, which to me, suggests that they did not capture that elusive shot.  

T....T

Emboldened, I searched some more and found this.

Mastraveller Sneak Peek!

And more guffawing ensued. Gawd, some people are so not meant to be posed and photographed! ;)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Prevailing wisdom

I recently found out that 2  colleagues from another department that we have been working very closely with for the A380 Project, recently got promoted.

Now I am not jealous of the fact that they got promoted as they both were solid representatives of their department, but to note that promotion could still be had in this trying financial times in our company was surprising. We were told that no promotions would be possible, or any allowance dispensation or higher pay grade acting positions would be allowed in the need to limit operating costs.

So how did these 2 friends of mine get theirs?

I came to know that ultimately they both had leaders who believed in their contribution, abilities and potential. These leaders felt it was important to fight for what is right and came up with solid justifications to the defense of my 2 colleagues. 

The thing that is pissing me off is that, for our department, many who were promised position upgrading, allowances or acting positions were ultimately given nothing. All of our former benefits were removed and yet we still gave our best to the company, for the hope that we could be rewarded in the future.

I know that a job well executed, is itself a reward, but it is hard to swallow, when in our own departmental shores, our leaders merely paid lip service. Promises that were made and dangled ended being nothing more than morning mist. Sure, there is always the possibility that my direct leaders have tried to get us what we were promised, but I cant shake the negative feeling.

I  am upset that I, being of this age, after all I have experienced, still held on to the ideal that a good leader will nurture and reward performing staff. I cant believe I actually fell for one of the oldest professional tricks in the book, the dangling of the proverbial carrot, when there was actually none to be had.

Our company recently went through yet another divisional reorganisation that resulted in our department being placed under a different master. The work is to remain, for the most part, dealing in creating new products, either service-based or actual physical offerings, just under a new division's umbrella. I have gone through several of this kinds of upheavals before and it has turned out fairly well.

But, I cannot go being made to feel like a spare wheel, to be used when critically needed but relegated to the dark confines of the car boot after they are done. It is affecting my morale where performing any task to the same high standards I hold has become increasingly difficult. I have become cynical, angry and reluctant to share my thoughts, knowledge and expertise. I begin to doubt my own professional value and self worth. This terrifies me.

I firmly believe that any knowledge and experienced one has gained, should be paid forward by sharing with another who can use the skills.

There is this adage, that employees leave a company due to bad managers, and that people stay due to good managers.

In the future, if I do become a leader myself, I pray that I will spare my team members the same hurt and dishonour, as nothing ruins an employee more than a leader who doesn't care. Apathy. It should not only be about getting the work done. It should be about polishing individual diamonds in the rough to a brilliant shine, worthy of recognition.

My dissatisfaction has kindled into a deep seated anger, slow burn, and it has strengthened my resolve to seek other opportunities. I need to find myself in a less toxic environment, self-created & imposed or otherwise, and do other things.

I need to escape this downward spiral of self doubt and negativity.

I must prevail. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

All is not always what it seems

On my home from work yesterday, I stopped by at a Mamak restaurant (my usual haunt) to buy some food for my family. After ordering what I wanted, I went next door to get some wet cat food for a couple of the strays I saw.

I chanced upon an elderly Indian man sleeping on the covered pathway. He looked ragged and his only belonging was an old umbrella. There he was lying on the cold cement floor.

I was unsure of what I should do, and after a moment, shrugged the awkward feeling off.

Proceeded to the Mamak place and waited for my order to be packed. After paying for the bill, I felt bad about just leaving the sleeping old chap like that. He could be hungry or sick or something of the like, and I did not feel right to walk away. 

Tried to wake the man and found he was really fast asleep. 

Maybe I should wad some change into his hand so he can get a meal when he finally wakes? Do i buy some food and leave it for him? Do I ask for a favour from the restaurant to give him a meal on my tab? Why wasn't anyone trying to help this guy? How can anyone look away and not care?

I approached Aziz, my Mamak waiter friend and offered him some money to buy the old man some food after he wakes. Then came the truth.

Apparently the old chap is hugging the floor because he was stone drunk and thus sleeping off his alcohol fueled stupor.

All good samaritan desires totally left and I went home.

*******
How on earth did my sense of pity and care for a fellow man disappear the moment I found out he was drunk? Does it mean inwardly I label all drunkards as simply people who do not deserve pity and care because they did it to themselves by chugging on too much alcohol? That therefore they disgraced themselves and thus undeserving of respect?

So what about druggies? Poverty stricken thieves?

I found it disturbing that I did an about turn on my earlier impulse. Does that mean I wasn't 'Ikhlas' to begin with? And wanting to donate just so that others could see my charity? That Razee is noble and an all round nice guy?

Ugh.... A quandary.





Thursday, 13 September 2012

Island life for me?

Something dropped on my lap recently.

A company has offered me a position in Langkawi to run their establishment there. A better pay package than my current certainly, and the job sounds very interesting.

Intrigued I am.

The question is, would the island life be good for me? Knowing that I love crowds, the hustle and bustle of city life, and the vibrant energy of city folk, this opportunity would be a sea-change for me.

Will I fit in? Will I enjoy it?


I am game.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Merdeka Raya Office Do

Thursday was a day of reckoning for all of our collective dieting habits. The 2 Departments in our area ganged-up and threw ourselves a Merdeka Raya celebration.

Decked in our Hari Raya best, the event started in earnest with a Doa' session led by our own Ustaz Suhaimi and followed by speeches from our respective Managers.

Then we ate, loads.

Starter - Rojak Buah with Kuah Petis and assortment of crisps & keropoks.

Rojak Buah - Cucumbers, Jicama, Pineapple, Papaya, Mango, Kedondong,
Starfruit, and more!
Main Courses - Nasi Kerabu with Solok Lada, Daging Bakar and Ikan Goreng, Soto Ayam, Sayur Lodeh with Ketupat and Sambal Tumis Sotong, Nasi Impit & Kuah Kacang and Pulut Kuning with Chicken Rendang.

Mulakan dengan sedikit rojak buah, sebelum membantai yang selebihnya!
Lodeh, Nasi Impit, Sambal Sotong, Kuah Kacang and banyak lagi.
Nasi Kerabu and friends!
Pulut Kuning with Kari Ayam Kick!
Dessert - Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese frosting, Marble Cheese cake, Steamed Chocolate Cake, Pudding with Fruit Cocktail, Kuih Serimuka & Koleh Kacang, Puding Santan & Gula Melaka, Neapolitan Ice Cream, Cookies, Candies and fruits.

Junk food! Yeah!!
Nescafe Kaww & Orange Juice.
Piece de resistance : Carrot Cake with Lemon Cheese Frosting.
This was SO good on so many levels, it was ridiculous.
Dessert counter with some fruits - Mata Kucing & Limau Bali
We went really bonkers with the food and the whole event was one giant eating layered with more eating and interspersed with laughter.
 
I have often been part of activities such as this, but this one in particular was really really fun as it honestly felt like a get-togther of long time friends.

The crazy ladies who lovingly accepted us into their fold (and  initiated the makan makan!)
They rock!!

The not so camera shy members from my department.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Desktop Pets: The Betta Way

The reality is that most of us office-hour types have very generic cubicles (read: boring!) as our work station. Some opt to enliven their space with pictures (kitsch), magnets (kitsch) and other sort of paraphernalia. Some place a pot of semi-indestructible/semi-unkillable plant in a suitable nook (guilty as charged) and some others have a desktop pet.

I love the idea of having a small active yet fairly low maintenance sidekick watching over my space and so I bought Betta (Fighting Fish) for myself.

Heya! I'm Senget. Pleased to meet you.
Senget is your run-of-the-mill long finned fighting fish that I got from a Kampong store near my home. When I first bought him, I never noticed that there was a slight defect with one of his fins. He was an impulse buy truthfully, but after having him live at my table for a few days, I realized that he was a tad lopsided on account of a gimp fin. This resulted in his awfully corny name of Senget.

See my Gimp fin? Tehehehe
He lives a glass vase home, with de-chlorinated and aged water and spent porous zeolite as habitat sand (it absorbs poisonous ammonia from the water in a chemical sequester process). He has a live plant for him to hide in and occasionally sleep on. The zeolite sand can be a tad scratchy on trailing fins, so I layered some polished pebbles as a physical barrier.

A few months later, I found another un-used glass container, this time in the shape of a large Brandy glass and proceeded to turn it into another desktop habitat.


Mottled Cream Blue fin Crown tail Betta a.k.a Chomot!
This is Chomot, for the simple reason of dressing up like a messy smudge! I fell in love with him as I felt that he had a tad more character than the others at the aquarium store. There were others far more attractive than him but I felt that he would make me happiest (he was probably psychically commanding me to pick him ya).

He lives in a similarly set up bowl of zeolite sand, but Chomot has a wood-bound water-fig plant as his primary decor cum R&R pit stop.

Both Senget and Chomot are bachelors living in their own pads (never mix Bettas together, ever! There is a good reason why they are called Fighting Fish). One lives at my office table while the other stays at home at my desk, both in well lit area with sufficient sunlight sustaining the plants.

They don’t need much in terms of care, regular daily feedings of 6-8 Betta suitable mini floating pellets, once a week change of de-chlorinated water and the very occasional plant trimming to tame wayward leaf growth of the water plants.

They both help me keep centered and balance as the act of feeding, playing (Senget seems to be quite interactive, wiggling a certain way when he wishes for food) and maintaining their glass pads offer me some semblance of calm and tranquility (which frantic ole me could always use having more, in spades where possible).

Update 7/9/2012
Came home on Friday and found Chomot belly up and stiff. Quite a shock really as he was doing fine in the weeks before :(.

To commemorate the short life of Chomot, I had a small service and buried him at the hedge in front of my room in the hopes that his body will nourish others.

I was in a funk over the weekend as was constantly aware of the vacant bowl that was Chomot's abode and so I went out looking for a new tenant, not so much as replacement as to bring some new life into my room. Carefully cleaned and disinfected the bowl to make sure no illnesses or parasites are transmitted, replaced all the gravel with new (and clean), and boiled the semi porous decorative stones just to be doubly sure!

Meet Nero.
Black Crown-tail Betta
 Nero was the only specimen with such dark colours and so I got him. Mainly because, in his own way having a wonderful dark colouration, he was as special as Chomot with his ragged appearance. Nero seems to have settled into his new home and is feeding well.

Hope it works out well this time.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Out & About: Having Plan b.

Le Menu
I have been meaning to bring Weekend-GF (read: Mum!) over to Plan b. for a taste of their goodies here since I was first introduced to it months ago. My first taste was mostly for work, part of a Food Safari program to introduce new flavors and offerings for our company.

Brekky & Brunch Served till 6pm!
Back then I tried their Eggs Ben, which is a simple dish of poached eggs, mushrooms, hollandaise sauce on toast with roquette leaves. Thought this time I should revisit the dish again at their new outlet in Paradigm Mall.

Egggggggggggssssss, Shrooms and Roquettes!

The thing with simple dishes is that it is very easy to ruin it. Clean flavours have an annoying ability to announce to the world that the Cook may have been careless, heavy handed or inexperienced. Thankfully, this was not the case for my Ben.


The lightly toasted English Muffin (a less dense version, I must qualify) was topped with thickly sliced and sauteed mushrooms (tasted like Portobello). The mushrooms still retained its wonderful earthy aroma despite being seared in butter. Top if off with  poached egg and a generous spoonful of hollandaise emulsion.

I was secretly happy that my poached egg yellow was a wee bit cooked through, as am not a fan of overly runny yolks (I find the syrupy texture slightly icky). Their Hollandaise sauce also is a bit different as it is less unctuous than the classical version. There isn't a noticeable hit of acidity from a classical vinegar reduction and I guess that the recipe included a little milk as well.

However, I was let down by the wilted Roquette leaves and the overall temperature of the dish. It also took a good 23 minutes for our dishes to arrive!

Mak opted for the Nasi Lemak and it was a HUGE portion for her (all 26 Ringgit of it, yes!), but it was nicely done, each part of the dish was correctly prepared and the rice was rich. When taken with the spicy kick of the squid sambal and crispy fried chicken it was good. 
Boom! Yeahhhhh!
Nyot, who joined us for the Brunch chose for herself a large roast beef sandwich. I was very pleased with how the dish was presented. 
And one person can finish this? Yikes!
Her plate had all the makings of a great meal. Grilled baquette filled with roast beef slices piled on roquette leaves, with a side of garden salad drizzled with zingy vinaigrette and contrasted with a mini bucket of crunch oven-crisped yam, sweet potato and cassava chips. She paired this with lashings of mustard and it got devoured in no time.

Our food and drinks took a while to arrive and there is still a measure of inefficiency with the staff. Nothing annoyingly slow of course, staff were still on hand and they seemed like they wanted to please their customers. It could simply be a case of it being a new place where the staff haven't quite gotten fully into the swing of things. When compared with their sister outlet in Bangsar Village, this outlet still needs work of course, but they will get there soon enough.  

Madame's Cafe Latte

Side order of Shrooms
The bill came out to slightly over RM100 for a meal for 3 people and from the smiles on everyone's face I guess we could be repeat visitors. Apparently this place offers a mean Corned-Beef Hash. Gotta get that next time for brekkie. 

Monday, 27 August 2012

c"_)

These past few weeks have been quite the whirlwind. Full of comings and goings and sorting out life and all its little curve balls.

It has been okay I suppose, truthfully, as it could always be worse off when compared to other people in other parts of the world. At least I have enough to eat, blessed with health, loving family and understanding friends.

Still, there is this ill-ease nagging in the deepest recesses of my mind. Like something isn’t right, and I should be trying out new things and doing things for myself. It has been a long while since I last did something purely and totally for myself, reward if I may, and selfishly devoid of having to consider what anyone else might think or feel.

Burn out seems to be most plausible explanation right now, though I am unable to pin-point the exact cause. A burn out would suggest my profession or something the like, but I am quite certain that I still love doing Food & Beverage Service. I enjoy the feeling of having made someone’s day through the fleeting interactions one has while attending to guests.

This new assignment at work seems to have taken me down a road that I don’t particularly care for, yet I still attempt to give my best. It has been challenging and fun during some gold moments. Didn’t think I could actually miss what I did in my former department (mostly the immediately feedback loop from customers) so much. I used to grudgingly complain about the SSDD (Same Shit Different Day) type of work, but now I can’t believe I actually miss it terribly.

Perhaps, it is exactly work that is driving me down. As they say, work is never done. Should I consider taking a break (sabbatical! would it apply to me?).

Could it be I am just tired of having to deal with familial duties? Is it actually that bad even? Surely having to deal with my ageing mother shouldn’t be considered a chore (gasp!), as after all, I am not the first son in the world and certainly there would be others with worse off situations than myself. I worry for her health sometimes. And she herself worries about her health.

I note as the day goes by that I am exactly like my mum. We let things dwell on our mind and heart. I sometimes catch myself behaving like a worrywart. Endlessly pondering what ifs and how comes.

Am I being overly dramatic? Or just overstating, being good ole Razee?

In a recent rant, I exclaimed that I needed a vacation from my vacation. It came about due to, ahem, over-exposure to family and relatives. The issue here of course is, would taking a time out, a good and proper Me-time, away from work, family and friends actually be the rejuvenating experience people say it is? The thing is I have actually never taken this kind of absence before, and I am not sure I will enjoy it. My travails in the past have always been tied to work related postings.

How now brown cow? See ya later Alligator?

…..

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Out & About: Fish & Co. Paradigm Mall





Not so sure about the Seafood in a Pan tagline.
Stopped over at Fish & Co Paradigm Mall for a power lunch with colleague and boy did I feel like I had to write up my experience here. I am not a newbie to this place having dined in their sister outlet in 1Utama.

This particular day's service SUCKED BALLS. First off, we had to linger at the 'Please Wait To Be Seated' post at the entrance for more than 5 minutes, as no one in the restaurant seemed to notice people waiting. Then the we were brought to our table and presented the menu which resulted in further 10 minutes of waiting.

The guy who sat us at our table conveniently ignored us and went on to entertain 2 groups of guests that came after us. My colleague had to flag a female staff who also conveniently saw right through us (and left us unattended, again). Only a few moments later another waiter, a guy this time, dropped by and took our orders. He may have seen the look of displeasure on our faces and rushed over to help from his 'bussing/barker' station.

Soon our beverages arrived but the female staff from earlier wrongly served our orders. I got my colleagues' drink while she got mine. I not so subtly switched drinks in the hopes that she would realize her error but no, she then proceeded to plonk our meals in the wrong order again. My colleague who noticed my pinched expression reminded me to keep cool and just enjoy the meal.

I took her advise and proceeded to dig in. Thankfully the meal itself was good, not superb, but good enough to temporarily make up for the earlier service related inadequacies.

Mushroom Salad. Earthy 'shrooms and crisp lettuce in light vinaigrette.
This one was over tossed which resulted in the lettuce slightly wilting.
Mussels in Lemon Cream.
A tad heavy on the cream, but the fragrance of the lemon helps.
The slices of Baguette supplied with the dish is great for mopping up the sauce. Yums!

Lightly toasted baguette slices

Seafood Chowder, which was thick and creamy.
Ms. AM demolishing her sizeable Fish & Chip dish.


So, Fish & Co. , this is what you should make your staff do for all restaurant guests.

1) Position a Host/Hostess at the front of your restaurant and make sure he or she promptly respond to customers who wish to dine.

2) Quickly seat your guests at the recommended pre-set table. If they desire another table, quickly react and oblige.

3) Present the Menu and highlight the specials of the day. If there is a lady in the group, offer the lady the menu first. Introduce yourself (or another waiter if you are NOT the waiter assigned to the table) and inform them that you are giving the table some time to browse the menu and that you will come back to take down the order in X minutes (5 minutes is normally sufficient).

4) Come back with a happy greeting and check if your guests are ready to place their meal requests. Carefully take the orders and record in your order slip/captain order. Explain the meal orders as necessary, as some of your customers may be first time customers.

5) Repeat the whole order, based on each guest's meal request, beginning with their starters onwards on to the beverage and dessert (if any). You do this order repeat (clockwise or counterclockwise) to ensure you have not left out anything. It also allows your guests to make changes, if they so desire. If you note that someone has not ordered something to have, now would be a good time to suggest something.

6) Before leaving the table, share with them the estimated time as to when their first order will arrive. This psychologically primes your guests to having to wait.

7) Start serving the beverages. Announce your intention to do so. Ensure the correct order is given to the correct guest. The Ladies-first rule applies here as well.

8) Remind guests that their meals will be just a short while longer. This will reduce the anticipation and gently reminds the guests that someone is lovingly preparing the orders. It also arrests any anxiety the guest may have.

9) Start serving the meals. Announce your intention to do so. Start with the Ladies first, and serve everyone the correct meal items. Supply all the accoutrements and table cruets for sauces and others as needed.

10) Let them dine in peace. Watch your table from a distance, or from time to time, to ensure their needs are met. Clear and crumb the table as needed. Continue serving more meal items where applicable. Make sure no order is forgotten. Find out if everything is great with their meal. If someone queries, attend to it immediately (by replacing bad quality item, offering a substitute or explaining your restaurant's version of the dish- yes, sometimes everyone thinks they are Chefs!).

11) Suggest another beverage when guest glass is 3/4 empty. This allows for an increase in the guest check (dining bill). Even when refills are free, it is bad showmanship if you do not offer it freely (Nando's, that would be you!).Help with other service needs - fresh serviettes, new cutleries, etc...

12) Approaching end of meal, swing by another time and suggest a dessert or a hot drink. Even a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream can be an enjoyable closure to a meal. It also further inflates the guest check. Serve the ordered dessert if requested. Offer extra cutleries if only one dessert is ordered. A shared dessert tastes doubly as good!

13) Leave guests to end their meal. Ready to tabulate their guest check, scanning for mistakes or mis-orders. Check with the guest if they would prefer to have a single bill or split into individuals (yes, this sounds stupid, but trust me, many will appreciate the gesture). Comply accordingly and present the bill.

14) Complete payment process - cash or credit. Return cash balance and/or credit card promptly to the correct guest. Graciously thank your guests, and if possible, alert them of upcoming promotions and/or happenings - new menu item, 2 for 1 deal, etc.. This plants the idea in your guest to come back.

15) Wish them farewell.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Out & About: Garden Recipe Paradigm Mall.

Found myself back to work today (apparently why I didn't apply for leave totally escapes me). After an extremely slow morning, a colleague invited me to join her for lunch at a shopping mall nearby.

Loathe to continue with hacking away at our individual mountains of work, we all decided to abscond and have ourselves a leisurely lunch at Paradigm Mall. The mall is one of the newest in Klang Valley and is designed to feel bright and airy, perfect to calm our Raya-fied nerves and bellies.

We chanced upon Garden Recipe restaurant, promoting healthy eating and organic ingredients. Browsing the menu we were all tempted by the Malaysian menu on offer, featuring among others, stalwarts such as fried noodles, nasi lemak, bee hoon noodle soup.
Lavender? in Malaysia?

As we browsed the menu further we came to realise that Garden Recipe offers meals with a very distinctive take on the classic Malaysian recipes. Some ingredient has been carefully substituted with healthier alternatives; Brown rice, black soy, fresh tofu, milk and more.

We decided to give the place a try as my eyes were immediately drawn towards a unique item. - Lei Cha.
I ordered this interesting rice based Hakka dish (which roughly translated/described would suggest Pounded Tea). What it is is actually perfectly cooked rice, served with an assortment of vegetarian side dishes- raw, simply cooked or pickled, with some nuts and fried crisps for textural contrast.

I have seen this dish featured on the Asian themed food shows on Astro before and had always desired to try it but never really found a place that offered it.I loved the fact that the dish was presented this way, using similarly hued bowls, echoing the colour of the individual ingredients that make the Lei Cha.

Lei Cha soup mix, brown rice, blanched green onions,
sliced french beans, dough fritters, roasted peanuts,
stewed Chinese kale, blanched cabbage chiffonade
and chopped sweet pickled radish.

Lucky as I am today, my lunch mate Sam was very savvy about the dish and she regaled me about the history of the this restorative meal.

I then set about composing my bowl. Tentatively, I arranged the various goodies around the grains of  perfectly cooked brown rice before pouring on the Lei Cha soup mix, like so.

Lei Cha being readied for mixing. Pour on the Lei Cha soup and give it all a good stirring.
The Lei Cha soup itself was very unique in that it carried with it the mild astringency of pounded fresh real tea leaves (in this case, food processored!) intermingled with the sweet fragrance of Selasih (Vietnamese Mint), tang of Mint and I think probably a smidgen of Sesame seed as I detected a hint of nuttiness as well.

Secret of the Lei Cha

This lightly seasoned soup when mixed with the other ingredients, amalgamates all the fresh flavours. Additionally, every scoop of rice also offered different textures, firmness of the brown rice, chewiness of the dough crisps, crunch of the vegetables and the slightly resistant bite of the pickled radish.

Every mouthful was utterly delightful. I never knew a Vegan dish as good as this existed in the wild. My lunch mates all had noodles (guess they all wanted a light meal?).

Ms. RT with her Chicken Curry Noodle (while striking a pose!)
Ms. Sam with the sumptuous Fried Salmon Head Noodle (using brown rice beehoon).
 
Mr. K with his Grilled Salmon Steak Noodle (also featuring brown rice beehoon).
Gone!
Spoke to the Manager after the meal and was informed that Garden Recipe has been accredited Halal by a private company in Malaysia (HDC?) but the same certification is now being counter-accredited by JAKIM. I guess one would have to properly investigate this, but I was informed by the Malay (Muslim) staff who attended to our orders that they certainly offer Halal foods as all their meats (Chicken et al, is acquired from Halal certified suppliers).