A Belated Holiday Greeting

Hi!

A little late, but December 2013 was a busy month!

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We celebrated two birthdays… I made this cake for the two lovely ladies, Pinkydoodles and S.

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Then it was Winter Solstice Festival. We made tang yuan for with K and her family. I think her 3 year old had a good time making this 🙂

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Then it was Christmas! Our tree this time includes chocolates, candy canes and home made gingerbread men.

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Saw Borobudur for the first time on Boxing Day in Indonesia…

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Cream puffs for New Year’s Celebration by EggTart. Recipe soon!

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All and all, a good year for us! We hope this year will be better and full of fun with our love ones!

A happy new year to all!

-M.

Inderasabah

“Stay safe, Sabah.”

That was actually what one of my colleagues said, as the news of the skirmishes reached us at the office in KL. A lot of us travel to Tawau for work, so naturally we were worried for those posted in the East of Malaysia. Troops were deployed, fatalities reported.

I’ve been having such a hard time to write a blog post lately, partly due to work schedule, but I can’t help but to show these pictures now in light of what is happening.

This was taken last year while I was visiting Sabah. Before then, I’ve never been to Borneo.

A Sabahan colleague took me and some others to a village near Tawau called Inderasabah: a small fishing village on silts occupied primarily by the Bugis people.

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They said that the best salted fish are from Inderasabah. Many foreigners and locals come here to get the best dried fish (especially “ikan bilis”).

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Somewhat fragile looking houses, yet the whole community lives up here in a seemingly peaceful seaside.

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With the current situation, all fishing along this region would have been grounded to a stop I would imagine.

Phonecalls from those we know near Lahad Datu and Tawau reported that fishing ports and many shops were closed and advised us those from the Peninsula to not travel here for the time being.

ImageFresh catch would be hand picked and processed.

ImageThese nets were laid out in the “courtyards” between houses. Below in the water, I could see other fishes waiting for the dried bits to fall through the netting and into the water for them to eat.Image

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The sun-dried and salted fish were packed up in plastic bags according to the weight you want. The background here is the said “courtyard” for fish sun-drying. Brought back a kilo for my mum and she said it was one of the best dried fish she ever got.

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Inderasabah village kids just hanging out at the doorstep of their home.

I just can’t stop wondering how a village like this would be right now.

Stay safe, Sabah.

-M.

Sarawakian fruits

I was back in Sibu again recently. Though it is end of the year, I’ve learnt that the fruiting season is almost the opposite from that on the Peninsula.

SibumarketGone to Sibu market in the early morning to see what I can find. I found that the local durian was in season. My, some of the kampung varieties are so small and looked like a green sea urchin!

Duriansibu

Oh yes, when there is durian, there is also duku/langsat/dokong. The tangy and sweet flesh of that small round yellow-skinned fruit is just so contrasting to the creamy durian. Perfect, right?

Oh, there is of course the all year round banana, but take a look at the price.

pisang

During my trip, I’ve been introduced to a very particular fruit seasonal around November/December.

dabais

Apparently this fruit ripens at the same time on one tree. Dabai, as it is called, is also known as “Black Olive” here.

DabaicookedDabai doesn’t keep well so you will need to eat it within a few days of purchasing. I am told not to buy any wrinkly ones. I’m not sure if you can have it raw, as I was also instructed to “cook” it – buy exposing them to hot sun for a while or soaking them in warm (not boiling) water for about 30 mins or until soften. Then, douse the dabai with soya sauce and sprinkle some sugar to taste.

DabaiSeed

I really don’t know how to describe the taste… a little bit sweet, and… oily? Anyway, it is definitely an acquired taste. The large seed in the centre is like an American football. How odd.

Matakuching

I’ve also spotted some Sarawakian variant of the mata kuching (longan). It’s got green skin with sharp bumps, something like a lychee but tougher. The inside is very much like a longan, though the seed is a paler brown and the flesh more clear. The flavour was intense and so sweet. Much better than any of the commercial longan I have tried.

-M.

The humble half-boiled eggs and kaya toast

 

Ah, this seems to be my default breakfast menu while I am traveling for work and doing work in the field this past two months. If you  are in Malaysia, chances are you had this as breakfast in a kopitiam somewhere: Half-boiled eggs (crack into a saucer and add soya sauce and pepper to your taste) and some butter & kaya toast. This gets me going up to lunchtime.

Oh and it’s mid-autumn festival today, hope y’all having some lantern fun. Team budu have been stuffing themselves with mooncake goodness as always… then Pinkydoodles found out that a mooncake can have about 1000 kcal per cake! err…. once a year, right?

– M.

Ramadhan Special: Ayam Perchik Wakaf Bharu

The fasting month means the abundance of food and never seen before coloured drinks around the country for breaking fast. One special stall in Wakaf Bharu will be opened during this month: The Best Ayam Perchik Stall. Yes, I gave it a name since I have no idea what’s the real name (if any).

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My mother just refer this as the “Ayam Perchik Stall near the Wakaf Bharu Train Station”. Well, that’ll give you some idea as to where to find it.

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MMMMmmmm, ayam perchik being freshly grilled and sold. You get to pick your stick. It sells out really fast. It is so well spiced and balanced out with the coconut.

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You may find ayam perchik in a few places in Kelantan and they are sold all year round. But not this special stall.

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Don’t like chicken? There is also fish. But my favourite is the chicken, really.

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Nearby stalls will also sell other foods such as soups and traditional sweets. I found the smallest onde-onde there!

Happy Raya/Eid to those celebrating!

-M.

Sarawak Laksa

Hi all,

Been to Sarawak for work recently.

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Such a beautiful place.

I got to meet up with a cousin of mine that I haven’t seen for many years. He took me to lunch of Sarawak Laksa.

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So good. The noodles look like vermicelli but it is slightly thicker and chewier. Love it.

– M.

 

p.s.: btw, what’s with the new wordpress drop down box to add a new post thing??? don’t like it at all.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Hi, it’s been a while. Work life is pretty hectic for all of us Teambudu…

Anyway, here’s a post to mark the 1st year after that tragic day in Japan…

One of Tokyo’s popular destination for tourists is the Tsukiji Fish Market. My chef friend told me when I get there, I MUST visit this market.

I work up pretty late having worn myself out with all the walking from the day before and jet lag. Here’s my breakfast of green tea, melon pan (my first!) from Seven Eleven and some weird cookie they gave out for free near the subway (it was horrible). My hotel was lovely, but as the city is a little short of power, the hotel has some sort of power cut during the wee hours of the morning which cuts off the air conditioning so I was stickily hot by 6 am.

I made my way to the fish market by subway easily at 9 am.

This is the only market I’ve been to that doesn’t really stink of fish. It’s a bit wet, but not dirty at all. Impressed!

Although I did not witness that famous auctioning, I still saw plenty of tuna. Here’s some blocks deep frozen.

I walked around for quite a while, then it was time to look for some sushi… now I have no idea what shops are good, so I decided to go for one that had both Japanese and tourists queueing for.

It’s funny how the lady at the Sushi Daiwa thought I was with this couple of gyaru girls in front me in the queue. “San nin?” she said. Hahaha. I had to tell her no and I’m only looking for a seat in what pieces of Japanese I knew. I was so happy to finally sit down after some 1.5 hour wait! Started off with some tai and maguro nigiri. Wow, very red looking tuna… I suppose you can’t get fresher tuna than Tsukiji, can you?

 The other sushis I had. I don’t remember the names, but the top left one was really good. Meal also came with complimentary miso clam soup (super good). The bill that I had to pay for 6 pieces of sushi was not so good. Well, it is in the world famous fish market with super fresh ingredients so…

But honestly, I don’t know if I can wait for that long again… it may be good, but I felt that it wasn’t like to die for.

The experience at this sushi-ya was great. The chef was friendly and happy to recommend me stuff. I tried my best to speak in Japanese, to his amusement.

I will definitely be back at this fish market the next time I’m in Tokyo.

 

-M.

I love Tokyo!

Travelling back from Canada to Malaysia, with a stopover at Tokyo. I decided that it would be a good idea to visit this city since I’m becoming such a Japanese buff.

Since March last year, a lot tourists have been avoiding Japan… 😦

Boy I was so glad that I made this trip, even though it was short. I’m officially in love with Tokyo now!

The view passing near Akihabara on the metro train. Look! Arashi! I was super confused how the train system work in Tokyo… too many lines and they all don’t use one type of ticket. The train staff was super friendly and helpful to my enquiries (except for an old grumpy man who had a permanent 😦 expression on his face and only said no to my questions). Soon, I was like a mad woman going around Tokyo on the trains.

Imperial Palace. So serene…

Lunch was at this tiny cafe in Shinagawa. Lovely curry rice set menu lunch that comes with salad, dessert (kuzu?) and tea. It tasted so freaking good! By the way, I turned the lunch tray round 90 degrees… and the other customers in the shop were like o.O wtf is she doing??? I was so embarrassed.  Japanese etiquette fail.

After lunch I spent my time in Shibuya and Harajuku. Stopped in Takeshita Street in Harajuku for a crepe.

Angel Hearts’ strawberry cheesecake crepe. I went with Angel Hearts’ because it was recommended by Cheesie of Cheeserland. It was good! Don’t know if the opposite Marion crepe was any better though.

Shinjuku skyline at night. So pretty…

Back to the hotel to rest my super tired feet. Stopped at Seven Eleven for some onigiri and beer because I was too jet-lagged to go out for dinner and needed a long bath. I know, I fail at wrapping onigiri… just like the grandfather in Usagi Drop, I couldn’t get the 1, 2, 3 steps right. >_<

To be continued.

-M.

p.s. It is Chinese New Year’s eve. Sugamama just arrived in KL from Toronto to join us! 😀 Happy year of the dragon, everyone!

Crabbing in Victoria

First of all, a happy belated new year! How has 2012 been treating you so far? I’ve started a new job, and thus the lack of updates. Sorry!

Pinkydoodles, Egg-tart and I had a good Christmas and New Year. Just lots of yummy food and drinks. We watched the fireworks from our apartment in KL. Wonderful.

Well, we are almost up to speed as to where I should be blogging soon. This will be the last post about Canada (for now).

Man, I’m longing for a quiet boating experience like how I did on Vancouver Island in Canada.

So, in the East of Canada, we stayed with my uncle and aunt on Victoria Island. This is the view from my uncle’s canoe. It was peaceful and not too cold for an autumn’s day. Super sunny means a great time to go crabbing!

Just plonk a crab cage with some chicken meat as bait into the ocean. Then canoe back to the shore and enjoy a cup of tea (yes, my aunt and uncle’s house is just by the seaside!). An hour later, my uncle and I took the boat out again to collect the cage. Voila! Dungeness crabs for dinner.

By the way, you need a license to fish crabs, and only of a certain size can you take them. Small ones we threw back.

So our first try was good. However, our luck ran out after that. The rest of the afternoon we got something else and it scared the crabs away.

Damn you, starfish! We caught so many of these big echinoderms.

No matter, the canoeing was so fun and the water was so clear I could see the bottom of the sea.

So come dinner time, we cooked up a crab feast. Well when I say we, I mean my uncle.

Man I wished I wrote down what was the recipe. All I know is it’s got a bit of curry powder, and things you’d put in for chilli crab. Hey uncle, if you are reading this, maybe you can tell me the recipe? 🙂

The crabs were served in the wok. It was so yums!

To drink, Papa Salvatore selected:

Inniskillin Okanagan Chardonnay 2009. Yep, Inniskillin is also found in British Columbia. This chardonnay was good. Smooth, bit of oakyness and goes so well with the crab.

Since my aunt likes a more sweet wine, this was selected: Niersteiner Spatlese, late harvest. It was indeed sweet, but not sickeningly so and mildly floral. I really don’t like sweet wine, but this was quite drinkable.

We sat down and ate in silence for a while, savouring the juicy crabs. It was that good. Pair it with some lovely chilled wine, it became fantastic!

Crab fishing was so much fun. I wish I could go back there soon and do it again.

OK. Until next post. Adios!

-M.

An afternoon in Vancouver

This is a continuation of my Canadian travels (obviously)…

So after Toronto, I flew down to Vancouver to meet several cousins and to visit my aunt and uncle who lives in Victoria Island. Some facebooking meant that I was able to coordinate one of my friend whom I met in Oxford, who works in Vancouver. MW invited me to lunch and offered to show me around Vancouver for an afternoon. I was so grateful, for her to make some time to meet me and be a guide for one Friday afternoon.

I was in Vancouver some 15 years ago, and so I have few memories of the place. MW met me near the harbour and we had a quick look around the harbour front before walking down to sandwich shop.

I know, like wtf a sandwich shop? Ah, but MW promised that it would be a pretty good place for lunch. So we walked to the old part of the city. We even came across an old steam clock.

The shop was aptly called Meat and Bread. Talk about selling what it says. It was already very busy when we arrived for lunch. Most people were there for a quick bite so the wait was not long.

I love the interior design of the place. It’s something of a fifties store/boxing gym. Even the toilet was interesting, it has a large printout of text on the wall describing arsenic…

Anyway, I had the recommeded porchetta sandwich and some chickpea salad. I have bad reaction to things with chickpeas usually, but this salad was good and didn’t give me any rumbly-tummy. Mmm, wash it all down with a cold Canadian beer.

MW had a spicy meatball sandwich which she thought was too spicy for her.

All in all, definitely a nice place for a sandwich. I love that they serve it on a wooden board, with a big dollop of mustard. The porchetta could do with more seasoning of herbs in my opinion, but hey is still pretty good. Coupled with the ambience, no wonder this place is popular.

Meat and Bread: 370 Cambie Street at Victory Square, Vancouver, BC, V6B 2N3.

After that, MW showed me around other parts of the town. The day ended with us driving along English Bay and then a cup of tea on the beach on a beautiful cool October day. Ah, bliss.

Here’s a short video of us driving along the bay.

Thanks, MW. Till we meet again one of these days. You made my Canadian trip even more memorable.

-M.