Feb 28, 2016

12 Restoran Lee Heong, Jalan Ipoh (Taman Kok Lian)

Weekends are home-cooking breaks for me! This is what we had for dinner the day before.

We haven't been to this restaurant in awhile since our food choices of late stray towards hawker fare, but we thought a proper meal at a roadside Chinese restaurant would make a refreshing experience for mum-in-law (mil) on this particularly long day of lazing about the house.

She has zero cleaning, laundry and ironing to do - I get it all done for her before she finds the opportunity to. And prepare her meals throughout the day. Basically, she never has to get off the sofa! It seems right that she be pampered during her short visit with us, but I guess it would bore her soon enough too. So I make sure that hubs and I take turns to bring her out for a walk to buy the newspaper daily. Staring at the TV for long hours is not anyone's cup of tea, I believe!

This outing is a welcome change from our Monday to Friday routine. We ordered a tofu dish. It was attractively presented. The first words out of our lips was 'wow..'.  My tummy grumbled in hungry anticipation, but my mind said - Take that photo! Take that photo!  I dedicated a minute to photo-taking. Lol.

The tofu was fried in an eggy mixture and then slathered with thick delicious salted egg yolk gravy.

Salted Egg Tofu

Then came a simple soy sauce steamed fish and stir-fried greens. Both were typical dishes that you can find in any Chinese restaurant around KL, and taste-wise is not exceptionally different from one another. This was, in short, yummy as expected.

Steamed Fish

Stir-fried Romaine Lettuce

The meal came out to RM64 for the three of us. The open ambiance made it a lively place to eat.

Restoran Lee Heong, Jalan Ipoh (Taman Kok Lian)

That's that on my week. How was yours?

Feb 25, 2016

6 On the first day of the Monkey Year ..

On the first day of Chinese New Year ..

    I jumped out of bed at 6am, showered and caught the sunrise! Every CNY, I'd have this spirit of seizing the day. On other days, I believe in staying in bed later than necessary and dreaming of breakfast in bed...who's with me?

Mum-in-law would be up early too. She puts in the final touches on her herbal chicken soup, which is to be eaten with misua. These noodles symbolise longevity. We began our morning (and this has been a yearly ritual) with an auspicious breakfast of misua in herbal chicken soup for long life to be blessed upon us.

Herbal Chicken Soup Misua

Right after that, and dressed in our new red t-shirts, hubs and I made our way outside to see the lion dance. We have always made it a point to wear red on the first day as it is said to symbolise prosperity and joy.

The troupe arrived at 8.15am and the lion dance was performed. Mandarin oranges were given out, the lettuce was plucked from a high ceiling, and the ang pao (red packet) taken in appreciation. The lion is said to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

The Lion Dancers Getting Into Position

Lion Dance

We went back into our home and waited to receive visiting relatives. Shouts of "Huat arh! Huat arh! " tells us they've arrived. There was lively banter, ang paos (red packets) were distributed to kids and unmarried persons, and a group photograph was snapped for remembrance. It has been this way for as long as I can remember!

In the afternoon, we all took a nap before making our way to a steamboat restaurant for dinner. This wasn't always the practice. This was something that began because it was more convenient than cooking at home. Also, mum-in-law is no longer the sprightly woman she once was. It would have been too taxing.

Steamboat Dinner

That ends the first day of the Monkey year for us. How did you spend your day on Chinese New Year?

Feb 23, 2016

12 Our Lunar New Year Practices

I can't believe that Chap Goh Meh is over! It marks the last day of the Lunar New Year celebration. Back to long months of quietness until the next festive celebration, which for me would be Christmas.

I remember the road trip to Penang just the week before. We had wanted to cross the new bridge to the island, but a flash of lightning appeared before our eyes in between frightening-looking dark clouds. We chickened out.

"Better use the old bridge."  I blurted out. "At least there are many cars there. We brave the storm together with them.." I'm still chuckling over our reaction that day.

On the eve of Chinese New Year eve, the usual ancestor prayers were performed. The family sat down and started folding joss paper into the shape of a Chinese gold ingot (Sycee). Pictured below is one I folded - nice or not?

Joss paper folded into a gold ingot.

My sister-in-law laid food on a table in front of the ancestor worship area. The family burned a few joss sticks, knelt in front of the altar and paid their respects. Fifteen minutes later, two coins were tossed to determine if the worship could be concluded or if the souls were still eating.

Food for ancestor worship.

After the conclusion of the worship, bags of joss paper were brought out to be burned.

Joss paper is placed in a cage container for burning.

Tea, water and rice was thrown around it. The spring onion was used to splash the water. I have often wondered why this needed to be done, but always forget to ask as we are ushered into the house soon after.

The burning of Joss Paper.

Tea, water and rice.

Finally, we sat together for a meal. This signifies the end of our duties to the ancestor. We can now carry on with our meal and the Lunar New Year celebrations.

The family eats together!

Jelly, Lychee Dessert

I will share how we typically celebrate the first day of Chinese New Year in another blog post. Until then, have a great week!

Feb 18, 2016

10 The Reunion Dinner - Huat Arh!

Huat arh! is kind of a rallying cry (to me) for prosperity to be blessed upon us. The first time I heard it, I was tickled to bits. It is often cheered out with a lot of positive energy. Huat is prosperity in Hokkien, by the way.

We are greeted with huat arh! every Chinese New Year. It's a common practice on hubs side of the family. My side of the family are of Hakka descent. Hence, we would go, "Kong Hee Fatt Choy! Choy Sin tao lor!" which simply means - 'Wishing you prosperity. The God of Prosperity is arriving!' The second sentence was really started by my aunt.

We had our reunion dinner at Bayview Hotel Georgetown this year. The meal began with a Prosperity Toss (Lo Hei). Following tradition, we tossed the raw fish salad and uttered auspicious wishes. The higher the toss, the better, as it is said to mean higher growth in fortune and good luck.

I took a short video of us in action. Can you hear the 'Huat arh! Huat arh!' ?

This is the dish before the toss. It was served with Norwegian salmon and fried soft shell crab. Yum!

Prosperity Yee Sang

Our reunion dinner was an 8-course meal. Below are pics of the rest of the dishes we had that day. I missed snapping a pic of the Fatt Choy Roast Spring Chicken. Guess I was too caught up with eating!

Seafood soup with Crab Meat, Fish Maw and Sea Asparagus

King Prawns with Shimeji Mushroom

Sea Cucumber with Black Moss and Broccoli

Steamed Fish

Crispy Noodles covered in Seafood Sauce

A Mango Ice Cream dessert and Deep fried Nian Gao

I've included a pic of the menu to show you how food is typically described during Chinese New Year. Words like 'heavenly', 'harmonious' and 'happiness' are used to enhance a feeling of auspiciousness to the dish. The word 'golden' would probably be included too if pumpkin was in the list of ingredients.

The Reunion Dinner Menu

Here's a look of the place. It's spacious. Service was excellent with each dish being served on time and without the sloppiness that usually comes with reunion dinners at packed halls.

Reunion Dinner Hall at Bayview Hotel Georgetown

As far as reunion dinners go, we all agreed that this was the best we've had so far!

Feb 15, 2016

14 Ipoh : Impiana Hotel - Not Badlah!

I've just returned from a week-long CNY holiday and whilst running through my blog posts, realised that I had missed out sharing about our hotel stay in Ipoh. Better late than never, right? Hah! The short trip for a wedding which I had written about here, was all about the food. I guess that isn't too surprising since I run a food blog as well.

For this trip, we chose to rest at Impiana Hotel for the night. The rates are reasonably cheap at just over a hundred ringgit per night. The location is minutes away from the town's famous eats.

The best thing about this hotel is the service. Always smiling, courteous and helpful - that is enough for me to forgive any small unpleasant experience I may have had with the room. I snored in the company of a couple of baby roaches roaming around the electric water kettle. Lol! They were difficult to catch.

Let me summarise it as such - Impiana Hotel is in need of a cleaning exercise, a refurbishment. And I'm not saying this solely because of my unhygienic buddies lurking around the coffee table. 

Impiana Hotel, Ipoh

Impiana Hotel - The Lobby

Impiana Hotel - The Room

We noticed a caricature artist at work during our stay there. It was a small booth of two tables and a standing banner at the lobby area. We told him we'd be back to get ours drawn after we dropped our bags off in the room.

This is it, our caricature! Me and my machoman. Do we look alike? I showed hubs a pic of Jackie Chan (the actor) which I thought was a close resemblance. This was drawn on good quality cardboard paper, perfect to be framed up. 

Want yours done? Just email your pic over to Wan Chik. He will work on it (I guess you would have to pay in advance) and mail it over to you once it's finished. I'm leaving the nice chap's contact details below in case any one is interested.

Email : wan.graphics93 @ gmail.com (without spacing)
Instagram: wan.chik (check out his other works here)
Mobile: 017 - 548 3391

That's that on my Ipoh hotel stay. Have a nice week and once again, Happy Lunar New Year to those who are celebrating!

Feb 3, 2016

25 Naughty Babe Dirty Duck - Mostly A Piggy Affair

"Come, I belanja you makan.." (let me treat you to a meal) my cousin started. I wanted to see her too. Chinese New Year is around the corner and I had a bag of goodies to pass on. In the bag are various foodstuff like peanuts, mandarin oranges, red dates, longevity noodles, plus a container of popiah snacks that I had slaved over to make the other day.

The date was set and reservations were made at Naughty Babe Dirty Duck, Desa Sri Hartamas. Hubs and I walked in to see various paraphernalia of ducks and pigs near the restaurant counter. Then it hit me. Does anyone remember the movie 'Babe'? I'm guessing that 'naughty babe' refers to the pig of the same name that stars in the movie.

My aunt and cousins walked in soon after. The setting was dim and romantic.

My aunt squinted her eyes and slowly said, "These people arh.... the lights are so dim. I can't read anythinglah. The menu also brown."

"Yea bah...." I agreed and grinned at myself. My eyesight isn't what it used to be too!

Squinting eyes aside, this was our feast that evening.

BBQ Pork Ribs

Dirty Duck with a side of Yam

Charbroiled Sakura Pork Chop

Balsamic Glazed Smoked Duck Breast With Pork Bacon

I thought everything was yum, but if I had to choose a favourite, it would be the BBQ pork ribs and glazed smoked duck breast! I love meats served with a good glaze and gravy. That's not all we ordered. Here is the rest of the food.

More Pork!

Porky Burger

Naughty Pig In A Blanket

As we left the restaurant, I thought, "Boy, did we pig out! "

I patted my really round tummy in satisfaction < -- kidding. I did no such thing.

Me and my favourite peeps, The ambiance and The pig

As CNY is just days away, I'd like to wish everyone who is celebrating - Gong Xi Fa Cai! May you be blessed with good health and good fortune in the year of the Monkey.


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