While having my morning cup of coffee and a cheese sandwich, the news below caught my eye.
PETALING JAYA: Middle class Malaysians who are aspiring to buy a home will soon be able to do so once a new Government-led initiative to build apartments costing less than RM300,000 in major cities is launched this year, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung said.
The affordable housing scheme, which is an addition to the My First Home Scheme for units costing between RM100,000 and RM220,000, will see stratified units priced between RM220,000 and RM300,000 being built for those with a household income of less than RM6,000 a month and who do not yet own a house. ~ source ~ The Star Online (click on link for full story)
My first reaction was, this will not work. If they are going to restrict purchase of properties priced RM300K and below for those with a household income of less than RM6K, those who earned RM6K and above will find themselves unable to purchase a home of their own while those who earned less would not be able to afford this so-called affordable housing.
In today's rising costs, if you earn RM6K a month as an individual, you do not have much disposable income. What more if it's a household income of less than RM6K, which translates to less than RM3K as an individual. But this is another issue. I only want to find out if those with a household income of less than RM6K could afford a home of RM220K to RM300K.
I will use the ceiling of RM5,999 as the household income in my calculations. I am using an example of a husband and wife with no kids. What is the actual take home pay this household has? RM4,976...after deducting EPF and tax, with the allowance amount taken into consideration before calculating the tax amount. (I did not take Socso contributions into account as the amount is rather negligible and some employers opt not to deduct Socso from their employee's salary.)
Let's take a look at the disposable income this household has. Out of RM4,967, a portion has to go towards car installment, utilities, petrol, parking fees and toll. I'm not even going to take into account the cost of a car's maintenance! Let's assume this household owns only one car.
RM4,967 - RM800 (car installment) - RM200 (utilities) - RM500 (petrol, a conservative figure) - RM100 (parking fees and toll, another conservative figure) = RM3,367.
RM3,367 is the remaining disposable income for this household. And what is the monthly installment payment for homes costing between RM220K and RM300K?
The monthly installment for a RM300K home would be RM1,467* if they are in their 20s or early 30s and could get a 30-year loan. For a RM220K home, the monthly installment for this young household would be RM1,076*.
So, if this household is foolish enough to buy a RM300K home, they will be left with only RM1,900, a sum hardly able to sustain a household. If they were to buy a home at the bottom of the range, their monthly disposable income, after deducting the house installment would be RM2,291. Still not a healthy disposable income for a household, but at least slightly better than if they had bought a RM300K home. (Bear in mind this is not an individual income, but household income.) And I am not even looking at a household with kids!
*Note - the best quote I know from a foreign bank.
Over the years, Hong Kong food culture has become part of the local scene. Char chang tengs (tea houses in Cantonese) like Kim Gary, Wong Kok and Chatterbox are famous for their baked rice, baked spaghetti, stir fried noodles and other fusion food.
Chatterbox takes it one step further. They've introduced set meals with interesting dishes like Deep-fried Golden Pumpkin Balls with Salted Egg, Steamed Salmon Head with Black Bean Sauce, Steamed Ladies Fingers with Lotus Root, Deep-fried Kai Lan, and so on.
Being only a family of two, wherever we go, we could only try two or three dishes at a visit. Initially, we wanted to order the set meal for three (to get 3 dishes) but decided that we wouldn't be able to finish 3 plates of rice and although we could leave it, it seems a waste of food when others in the world are going hungry. So, the other dishes will have to wait until our next visit.
Steamed salmon fish head in black bean sauce
The steamed salmon head in black bean sauce was great, although there wasn't much meat in the head. Well, there were those slimy jelly-like substances and what not, which were supposed to be the very thing people go for in a fish head, but we are no fish head connoisseurs, so we left those alone. That didn't leave us with very much salmon meat, but still, the serving plus the okra was more than enough for both of us.
Steamed ladies fingers in lotus root
Does anyone know why the okra is called ladies fingers locally?? This is not a vegetarian dish, by the way. The toppings was a mix of minced prawns, mushrooms and lotus root. If you are a vegetarian, remember to instruct the chef to hold the prawns. Although it's a simple dish, I loved it. The toppings and sauce went very well with the steamed okra.
The set came with two bowls of white rice and fruits. But last Sunday, there was a choice of fruits (watermelon) or black glutinous rice soup. Hubby and I chose the same thing --- black glutinous rice soup.
Black glutinous rice soup
Not too sweet, it is diabetic friendly. I found it a little too diluted, though. It was flooded and covered by water.
The set meal for two was priced at RM35.80++ and does not include drinks. We ordered the Hong Kong style coffee each, and the total bill came to RM50.80 for two. Not bad.
We will return for the deep-fried golden pumpkin ball with salted egg and deep-fried kai lan next.
Born and raised in Penang, I have a penchant for Penang nyonya food. There aren't many authentic Penang nyonya food in KL. There are more sub-par ones than there are good ones. I am therefore, on a permanent quest to find that perfect, authentic restaurant.
Authentic here is defined as a replicate of my grandma's cooking. She was one woman who cooked like nobody I know, and her skills are surpassed by none in the nyonya food area. That is not surprising, as she was brought up in a home where her father had employed a professional chef to cook for them, and from whom she had learned the skill as a kid. Yup, born in 1917, she was brought up in that era's decadent lifestyle of having a chef with a few cooks, drivers, home tutors, servants and a lady's maid to attend to her.
The Wok Cafe is nowhere near my grandma's level, but is on par with Tanjung Bungah Restaurant in Chow Yang, SS2, another restaurant whose owner came from Penang. However, with its quaint furniture and deco, The Wok has a cozier ambience. The gold engravings on the doors and partition screens plus the signboard made me feel like I was back in my grandparents' house. My grandfather had an engraved sign with "The Lee family" in Chinese character above the door too.
The infamous Rose Chan
The place was crowded when we arrived, and there was some confusion amongst the limited number of staff. We had to wait for a while before our order was served.
Perut ikan - RM10
Perut ikan literally means fish stomach although none were used by The Wok Cafe. While it was enjoyable, I still think no one can cook this dish as well as my grandma. The extra ingredients to give it a cuisine touch were missing. I suppose it's not possible to make it the way my grandma did and charged only RM10 for it.
Assam fried prawns - RM24
The prawns were succulent and sweet though the assam flavour was too subtle to be detected (again, using my grandma's cooking as the benchmark). Still, I liked it enough to lick the gravy off the shells.
Otak-otak - RM6
Very dry and without much flavour, the otak-otak was a disappointment. The best so far, is still the one in Penang at Song River, Gurney Drive. Following closely behind is the one at Taman Tun Dr Ismail (KL) wet market.
Sago gula Melaka - RM4
The sago gula Melaka was one of the better ones I've had. The gula Melaka, or palm sugar, was undiluted and fragrant. We ordered one each. The next time I'm there, I'm gonna order two for myself. I love sweets....sago gula Melaka, trifle, caramel pudding, chendol.....you name it, I love it.
Overall, considering I could not order my grandma up from the grave to cook for me, I would say the food was decent, I enjoyed it, and I would go back again to try the other dishes on their menu.
The Wok Cafe
No. 26-G, Jalan PJU 5/21
The Strand Damansara
Tel: 012 - 275 0396 / 012 - 263 5460
(Turn into at the CIMB junction, and at the T-junction, turn left.)
I like to try new things in the kitchen. Mum and hubby are my two unwilling guinea pigs. Sometimes they like the new recipe, sometimes they don't. Tonight is the night they don't. Which is really a shame, as I kind of liked it myself.
I didn't follow any recipe, but created one out of thin air. In other words, I threw in whatever I had in my kitchen. So you might or might not like this.
Ingredients: 3 pieces of salmon fillet (one for each person) (or you can substitute with fried aubergines, chicken, etc.) 1 lemon 1/2 red bell pepper, diced A handful of golden raisins A handful of roasted & salted cashew nuts 1 cup couscous 1 vegetable stock bullion crumbled and mixed with 1 cup hot water 1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches 2 pieces star anise Some sprinkles of cayenne pepper
Method: 1. Season the salmon with a bit of salt. Sprinkle and coat with lemon juice. 2. Bake salmon in pre-heated oven (the temperature I used was 225C) for about 30 minutes or until done. 3. Heat the wok with olive oil. 4. Put in the cinnamon stick, star anise and cayenne pepper. Stir-fry lightly until the oil is fragrant. 5. Add the diced red pepper and stir-fry for a bit. 6. Throw in the raisins and couscous and coat it with the spiced oil. 7. Pour in the mixed bullion water and let the couscous absorb the water for about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and fluff regularly. 8. Meanwhile, when the water is no longer visible, add the cashew nuts and continue to stir and fluff the couscous to separate the grains. 9. When the water is fully absorbed, serve immediately with the baked salmon. Add more lemon to taste if so desire.
Snow, "kar" in Turkish, is a story about Ka, a Turkish poet who lived in exile in Germany and who has now returned to Istanbul for his mother's funeral. He took the opportunity to travel to Kars, a city northeast of Turkey on the pretext of covering the story of the numerous suicides there. In truth, he had heard that Ipek, a beautiful ex-classmate was now divorced and he hoped to make her his wife.
When he arrived, there was a snowstorm which cut the city off from the rest of the world for three days. So, in a nutshell, the plot is about Ka stranded in kar in Kars. And that's all there was to it, really.
Yes, I know, those who have read the book would tell me about the secular state's clashes with the Islamist fundamentalists, about how a group of Muslim girls would rather commit suicide than remove their head scarves, and how the army staged a theatre act but fired five rounds of live bullets into the audience, killing some while injuring others.
They would be right. We read the same book. However, my gripe is not with the plot itself. Snow had a rather unique plot, one that broke the monotony of the plethora of bestsellers by Western authors. I'd be the last person to argue that the story wasn't interesting.
I only wished it had been written better. The story was told by an omniscient presence (the author's) who came upon Ka's notes years later and pieced them together. The 'layers' removed the reader from the story and as a result, I did not feel involved in the events taking place, nor did I feel any empathy for Ka. As a matter of fact, I felt that Ka was a drip.
If this were a movie, I would have said the wrong actor was cast in the male lead. But this is a book, so I guess it was the way the story was narrated. Orhan Pamuk could still keep Ka as the main character, but approached it differently.
After a tiring day of walking, shopping and browsing in downtown KL, we were disinclined to embark on a food-hunt. It was a case of we will eat 'whatever that is edible and won't burn a hole in our pocket'. We had emerged from C.K. Tangs and were at the lower ground floor of Pavillion.
The Manhattan Fish Market caught our eye. Hubby had eaten at a different outlet on a weekday lunch with his colleagues and said it wasn't bad. While I enjoyed fish, I had never been a fan of those chain restaurants that served fish.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, displayed on a banner outside the restaurant was a set for two at RM49++. The fish, as I suspected, was dory. I'm not a fan of dory, but oh well, what the heck, I was tired, so let's not be fussy.
We didn't have long to wait before our food was served......pre-cooked fast food....what did you expect from chain restaurants??!!
The soup of the day was mushroom soup. It was buttery and had a subtle taste of parsley, and a less subtle taste of wild mushroom. Mmm....
We chose the Quad Delight for our starter. On the plate were fried calamari, fried country mushrooms, fried shrimps and a serving of coleslaw with raisins. I enjoyed the fried country mushrooms but found the fried calamari and shrimps to be too salty for my taste. I skipped the coleslaw and raisins....never liked it when I was young, and never liked it now.
Hubby's initial choice was baked dory, but we were told it's all sold out. So he opted for poached dory in mint sauce, what I had initially had in mind before deciding on grilled fish. He cleaned the plate, well, except for the aluminium foil. If he could, I'm sure he would have eaten that, too.
As for me, I didn't touch it and was glad I changed my mind about having the dory poached. It looked too slimy for me.
My choice of grilled dory arrived shortly after. For once, this dory was not slimy but firm. However, it was way too salty for me. Hubby who didn't find it salty in the least, said I must have a very low tolerance for sodium. I barely finished half of it. Hubby had to finish the rest for me. I left my rice untouched as I was full to the brim by then.
The set meal came with two glasses of Tropical Breeze, a Haiwaiian fruit mocktail. A refreshing drink after a tiring day and sodium-enhanced meal.
First, it was hubby who needed a special diabetic diet. Now it is mum. Yesterday, her annual blood test results showed that her uric acid reading is high while her sodium, chloride and potassium are lower than normal. This is despite her potassium supplements prescribed by the doctors.
The doctor did not prescribe any medication to lower her uric acid nor to increase her sodium. She said just increase the salt in our food and to avoid food high in uric acid (more than 100mg/100g, according to my research).
Spinach tops the list at 57g per100g, followed by mushrooms (488mg/100g),sardines in oil (480mg/100g), fresh sardines (345mg/100g), anchovies (239mg/100g),all beans and peas products and by-products (190mg/100), salmon (170mg/100g), mackerel (145mg/100), crustacean seafood and red meat (including pork).
Not only tofu is out of the menu, but practically all meat as the only meat mum could eat is chicken and hubby simply refuses to eat this poultry in any form.
What is good for hubby is bad for mummy and vice versa,e.g. I can't increase the salt in our food, as hubby is on a low-sodium diet.....I am so f****d.
More research, more research, today's dinner will be ready and served next week..... :P
While ambling down the boulevards of downtown KL last Sunday, I spotted a Malay pak cik with two mice on strings. He was tugging and releasing the strings like one would with a yoyo and the mice were scampering around with tails swishing left and right. I stopped and watched.
The pak cik said he made the mice himself. On closer inspection, I could see that he spoke the truth. Nevertheless, I knew my kitties would enjoy a game of cat-and-mouse. A few minutes later, RM5 and a mouse changed hands.
Yin picked up the mouse by its tail and ran off with it. I wish I had managed to capture it before she dropped it. She was too fast for me. Blackie was not interested in running off with the mouse. He only wanted to tug and chew on the tail. A toilet brush in a different form???
Last Saturday evening after we bought a pair of tickets to "Super 8" at MBO, Tesco Kepong, we could not decide where to have dinner before the movie began. The food there were not particularly good and Blockhouse, the restaurant serving Western cuisine across the road was one of the worst we'd ever had. Very amateurish.
Undecided, we walked up and down the road a couple of times and finally decided to join the crowd at Restoran E Soo Yong Tou Foo. Given a choice, yong tau foo is not something I'd choose but I have to say that E Soo served a rather fresh and large yong tau foo pieces.
We ate a few pieces before I remembered to take a picture. The fried aubergines were not overdone nor soggy soft. They tasted like they had just been freshly fried to order. None of the pre-fried and then heated up again taste. The fried dumplings were not bad either. The proprietors were generous with the filling.
I dug out the fish paste, gave it to hubby and ate only the emptied-out bittercurd and okra. I don't like fish paste, and that's the reason why I don't like yong tau foo. If only they would serve yong tau foo without the fish paste filling, a la vegetarian!!
Ah, assam vegetable. That's the highlight of the dinner where I was concerned. It was not too sour, the way I liked it. I added so much of the gravy onto my rice that it was literally swimming in the gravy. Very appetizing.
The bill came to RM20.50 for two. The yong tau foo was RM1.10 per piece while the assam vegetable was RM5. We had water instead of tea as I've found that drinking tea after 5pm didn't help my insomnia. It only made it worse.
Address: Restoran E Soo No. 55 Jalan 9/62A Bandar Sri Manjalara 52200 Kuala Lumpur Tel: 012 - 308 0727
Blackie is a rather strange cat. He likes to chew.....no, not bones or fingers, but on toilet brushes and hair. He used to go into our bathrooms and chew our toilet brushes. After he developed a bladder infection, all bathroom doors are closed off to him, although occasionally, the little rascal managed to slip in with my mum unnoticed. And when she leaves the bathroom and shuts the door with him inside, that's when he has a party.
So, what do I do when I see a scratch board with a toilet brush bristle arch? Buy it for the little tyke, naturally.
This product, at RM46, can be purchased from: Home Pet Food & Care No. 41, Jalan 1/149J Bandar Baru Sri Petaling 57000 Kuala Lumpur Tel: 03 - 9059 3191 / 3192
Home Pet Food & Care does not sell livestock and rescues abandoned and stray cats. If you'd like to adopt a cute and friendly kitty, do give them a call. They have more than 30 beautiful and adorable cats and kittens waiting to shower you with their love and affection.
I know this sounds crazy, but occasionally I do crave for burgers. Not the thin patty that's McDonald's excuse of a burger, but the thick, chunky types. I know I can make them at home, but sometimes when you're out and it's time for dinner, you're not going to rush home and make your own patties.
There are a few places that serve decent burgers, though I bet that's the last place anyone would go to. My favourite place is T.G.I.F. though hubby's is Tony Roma's. And since Tony Roma's was conveniently available when our tummy started growling after a day's shopping, Tony Roma's it was. I know, a place not known for burgers but steak......
Big stack - RM24.90
Since hubby and I tend to share the same tastes in food, music, movies and humour, many times we both tend to order the same thing, and this time is no different. I'm drooling all over again as I looked at that juicy patty with bacon and cheese. Junk has never looked nor tasted so delicious.
It was a good thing we shared a soup between us, for I only managed to eat one quarter of the fries. Had I gone along with hubby's wish and ordered a bowl each, I would not have been able to finish the burger and that would have been a crying shame.
Baked potato soup - RM5.90 if you ordered the entree, RM7.90 if you didn't
The soup had the right texture and went well with the bacon bits and parsley. I enjoyed it even though It's not my favourite type of soup.
Address: Tony Roma's LG 217, Mid Valley City No. 1, Medan Syed Putra, KL Tel: 03 - 2282 8243
I remember those days before hubby was diagnosed as diabetic, he did not like vegetables and avoided vegetarian restaurants like a plague. He took pride in being a 'meat man'. Things have since changed, and we've been going to quite a few vegetarian restaurants these days as he has embarked upon a 'healthy-living' mission.
Although we've been to this place a few times, I've always forgotten to take any pictures and blog about it. On the last visit, I managed to take two photos......
The bitter-curd was cooked just right, not too soft, and the black bean sauce was light and fragrant. RM12.
The Golden Beancurd was smooth and went well with the "sin kua" (a type of melon). RM12.
At RM1.50 a bowl, I'd consider the brown rice to be cheap. And the best part is, it's not overcooked and soggy, unlike some restaurants.
How do I rate this place? Well, this is also one of the places I'd definitely bring my cousin and her vegetarian husband when they visit us in Malaysia, so, work the rating out for yourself....... :)
You know the world has come to an end when your cats got their own mail. Yes, you read that right. A mysterious brown package arrived in the post for Blackie and Yin this afternoon.
After the Secret Service vetted the package safe from any explosives or harmful virus and bacteria, it was carefully opened to reveal...........
.......a pretty floral pouch with C.A.T.N.I.P.!! For those who do not have cats, this is the equivalent of kitty ecstasy drug. And to protect the scent from escaping, my friend Lupie has put it inside a plastic zip bag.
Look at how potent this kitty drug has on my two masters............
They were both sleeping when I placed the pouch on the table. Blackie's nose started wriggling, then both kitties got up at the same time and started sniffing the pouch.
They were not interested in sitting still for photos. Both were trying to rub their heads on it.
Yin, the better catcher when it comes to playing games, snatched it from Blackie while he was still trying to pick it up. Poor Blackie. If he had to catch his own prey for food, he'll loose out to all the other cats and become a thin, hungry kitty.
Yin, gripping the pouch with one paw and wiping it on her face in the same manner a human would apply the roll-on deodorant on their armpits. She's making herself smell nice....for who, I wonder.
Blackie tried to snatch it back, but got a smack on the paw from Yin. My camera is one of those compact ones and wasn't fast enough to capture the motion.
Both kitties very high now. Yin has dropped the pouch from her paws and lolled on her back while Blackie kept rubbing the table (and edge of pouch) with his head.
Thank you very, very, very much, Lupie, for the wonderful gift. For those who'd like this catnip pouch, I believe it is available for purchase from Lupie's website at www.sillylupie.com or email her at sillylupie77 [at] gmail [dot] com. Please contact her if you'd like one or a few for your kitties. :)
Delicious is the name of a chain restaurant started by Benjamin Yong in 2004 as a small tearoom in the back of a boutique. Today, E&O Hotel has a 51% stake in it, and it has expanded to six outlets, including one in Penang.
The ingredients used are all halal making it a good place to hang out with Muslim friends. Plus, there are specific vegetarian dishes, too. It's definitely going into my list of places to take my cousin and her vegetarian husband when they visit us in Malaysia.
Salmon Angelhair - RM27.90
Is this getting familiar? If you're thinking you're always seeing salmon or pasta on my blog, that's because salmon is my favourite fish just as it is my cats', and next to brown rice, pasta is my staple diet. I could eat pasta everyday and never tire of it.
But this pasta tastes different from all the other salmon pasta I've had. The caviar complemented the smoked salmon and creamy sauce with parsley flakes. Truly yummylicious.
Quiche Lorraine with Beef Bacon - RM18.90
Hubby who likes quiche, opted for the Lorraine quiche after asking the waiter if it's big enough as a main course. He's concerned that it might not be enough to fill him. When it arrived, it looked kinda small. Turned out the amount was just right, especially when we shared the two dishes and finished off with a cheesecake. And yes, it tastes as good as it looks. I liked the salad dressing on the salad, too. I've always hated those salad that came with Thousand Island Dressing. Yuck! I wish someone would ban those commercial Thousand Island Dressing. Oops....hope there's no thousand island dressing fan reading this.....
Macadamia cheesecake - RM13.90
The cheesecake is not the light fluffy type that you get for RM6 or RM7 a piece, but the real, heavy type. Topped with macadamia nuts and caramel, it was sinfully rich, particularly so for diabetic hubby!! But it's his weekly treat to eat whatever he likes, after being on the strict diet I imposed on him throughout the week at home. Trust me, it's no fun being on that diet. Even a simple cup of hot chocolate at night has been replaced with plain oats soaked in hot water.
While perusing the menu, we also discovered that they have a traditional English afternoon tea for two at RM59.90. Now I know where to go if I'm craving for an English afternoon tea and don't happen to be in Cameron Highlands!
This restaurant lives up to its name. My verdict is:-
There has been talk in the blogesphere about how delicious the baked crabs in Seremban is, so on the last public holiday (our King's birthday), we took a day trip to Seremban to check it out.
Located along the same road not far from the Seremban Pasar Besar, it was easy to find. We arrived at two-ish in the afternoon and most of the tables were already served. We didn't have long to wait for our orders.
Baked crabs @ RM50/kg
The crabs were a disappointment. First, the taste wasn't as au naturel as the one we had at Hing Ket Grill House. The shells and plate were coated with a black oily substance. Hubby thought it was baked in marmite, but I reminded him that it was baked au naturel, or supposedly so. The black stuff had a burnt taste to it. I suspect we were served Baked Crabs au naturel Carcinogenic.
Meat-wise, the crabs had a lot of sodium. We did not finish them. We were given a bowl of dipping sauce to 'lessen' the salty taste, but we were disinclined to trick our taste-buds. We found that all the strong, pungent dipping sauce did was to camouflagethe taste of the crab.
Besides the crabs, we ordered song tong lala or clams in superior stock and a plate of fried noodle. The lala wasn't good either. There was a distinct lack of wine, ginger and other flavours.
'Song tong lala' (clams in superior stock) - RM10
As for the fried noodle, it was OILY. Either we are finicky, or those who had reviewed this particular restaurant are die-hard fans. Or, perhaps the restaurant had a bad day and we happened to be there on that day?? Unlikely, I think.....
Fried noodles - RM6
Of all the dishes, the most noteworthy is this plate of crispy fried flour chips. Sorry, I have no clue as to what it's called, but where other restaurants serve peanuts, they serve this.
This dish is the most delicious - RM2.10. We went all the way to Seremban for this!! :-o
The total bill came to RM72.10 inclusive of a pot of tea for two. Will we return? Never! Not even if it's free. Sorry, just my honest opinion.
Address: Seremban Seafood Village No. 3720-3724 Jalan Tuanku Munawir, Seremban Tel: 06 - 764 1260