Monday, 2 March 2015

Looking for Sesame Street

Seen at Tesco, Malaysia.

Germans known for their long sausages.

Looking for Sesame Street

"My eye! My eye!" said the fraulein in some distress, still kneeling.

Bernhard, half undressed, recoiled. "Mein fraulein! You ok?"

"Next time, warn me can?" said the fraulein, rubbing gently her sore eye, not aware that fake eyelashes had gone missing. When her vision returned, a one-eyed monster stared back at her.

It didn't look the same as before.

It was wearing her missing eyelashes reminding her of a sock puppet from Sesame Street.
The image cracked her up.

"Haha!" the fraulein laughed, if not a bit too hard.

Bernhard, already insecure, recoiled some more, making the sock puppet droop in low self-esteem.

"Nein, nein," said the fraulein. "T'is not your fault!It's just too funny!"

Now, Bernhard had been called many a funny name before: Chinese sausage, bratwurst, pickles, Taiwan xiang chang...even goreng pisang; but none laughed at him the way this fraulein did.

"You think it funny, Freda?" said Bernhard, almost in a hurt whisper.

"Ha...Oh, no, I... don't..." said Freda, as she tried to reengage B. She had known B for a while and knew him as a not-so-quick puppet master. And it's been a while since she had enjoyed 'Sesame Street'.

But B had fallen back into his funk and decided to keep his puppet for another day. When F saw this she became somewhat desperate. Suddenly she heard the Count laughing at her: "Five! Five dates with no success. Bwahahaha!" Thunder and organ music blared out from nowhere.

"Give me another chance, B'hard," pleaded Freda. "You are B'hard, my Big B. So don't just go away ok?"

Bernhard was pleased to hear Freda call him B'hard. Somehow it boosted his confidence and the socket puppet slowly came back to life.

"Er, let's just remove the eye lashes," said Freda, as she plucked the sock puppet naked. The one-eyed monster now looked as dashing as Kojak, that bald detective who could be father to Vin Diesel but is not. Freda was not one to make love with dolled-up pretty boys; she liked them unsocked and fabulous like Chinese sausage on white rice.

As Bernhard and Freda explored the intimate machinations of alternate Sesame Street puppetry, the Count could be heard counting in the background. "One, two, three...." And for the first time in a long while, Freda heard organ music and angels sing in her head. When B'hard is good, he is really very good.

The end.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

50 Shades of Brown

[This tale was inspired by a food post (see pic on left) and a comment by a member of SBM. Enjoy.]

When Ms Ana Ham Chim Paeng first met Mr Christian Vadai she was taken aback by his forthrightness. "I would like to flog you with my youtiao," he said. Now Ana, as virginal as freshly made dough, often sat beside a youtiao in the local deli and so understood in part what Christian was talking about. But flogging? What's that? Has it got to do with la mian, you know, the pulling and banging of stretched noodles on a table? Stuff like that got her excited, especially so after she realized that she had something her roommate and friend, Kate Doughnut, didn't: an unusually sensitive butt! 

It was a bottom, when spanked, will cause her to see snow fall and imagine herself becoming a sexy French beignet. Ooh, how nice! (Ok, perhaps that imagery is a bit rich but everybody knows that a ham chim paeng with icing sugar on top is really a beignet with a Singlish accent.) Ana couldn't understand why she was so attracted to Christian. After all, she had yet to see the extent of his wealth. Didn't her mom tell her not to settle just for smart ties and shiny cars? Not to mention a swanky office where one piece of furniture could cost more than a photocopier? One shouldn't go about believing everything in that Pretty Woman movie, mom had said. As a career woman, giving freebies will get you jack.

From her best friend Kate, Ana had learnt that Christian's immense fortune was earned from trading in complex spices and confections with missing centers - issues of which both taxmen and the Interpol from all over the world were keen to dig deeper into. The complex space-time of toroidal matter not withstanding. "Let's continue this interview in my apartment," suggested Christian, as the sun outside began to set. He smiled his best Vadai smile. The suggestion snapped Ana back from her daydreaming. In a thrice she found herself scooped up like, well, a newly minted HCP and carried into a room so red folks would mistake it as an ancient betrothal chamber. You know, the kind where young virgin maidens in veils wielded short scissors in a stand against forced marriage and painful sex.

In the chamber, Christian dumped Ana onto a downy bed that felt every bit like a three-ply napkin - the same kind ought to be used by Old Zhang Qi if they were not so stingy. "Ooh, Christian," cooed Ana. "You go straight to the point like a crisp samosir!" Christian smiled. The Vadais and Samosirs have been on the social circuit a long time, often meeting at buffets in hotels and self-catering functions. They were popular and rightly indulged. "No point beating around the eggs as they say. And I didn't build my fortune by being lame like the P Mayams, or just on hot air like the C Baturas. We Vadais are rather straight forward. You either like us or don't." Ana was beginning to see Christian in new light: Polite and formal during the interview in his ultra-posh office, he was now firm yet playful in his private domain. She wondered at what Christian had installed for her. What's with this guy and his youtiao? Naively, she looked around the Red Room to see where it was hid. Christian climbed up the bed and knelt over her. "But first, I need to blindfold and handcuff you to the bedposts. It's there in the BDSM 101 manual. Once unsighted, your anticipation will rise exponentially. It will be extremely exciting and transformative - like a prawn cracker thrown into sizzling hot oil! My dear, I am going to deflower you, but at the end, you will bloom like no other flower the world has ever seen. Do you want to be that new you?"
Ana turned her gaze from the expensive Van Gogh painting on the opposite wall and nodded in earnest agreement. "Yes! Yes!" she said, as Christian's eyes glistened like a boy with a new toy. Ana found Christian's wealth intoxicating. What would the new Ham Cheem Paeng be like? she wondered. A new version of the Cronut? A Wonut? Or maybe a Cantonut? how about a Ham-so-nut?

The thought of her being no more an ordinary ham cheem paeng caused Ana to be impatient. She writhed and begged like chee cheong fun for brown sauce. 

Unable to hold back anymore, Ana screamed. "Give it to me! Give it to me!" She then froze, suddenly surprised at her own virginal candour. It was both invigorating and liberating. Some place in her went wet. Finally, this ham cheem paeng is gonna get some filling! Ana asserted. As she swooned, Christian smiled a victor's smile. He always did whenever a ham cheem paeng blushed like a cherry doughnut!
However, as Christian sank into Ana, he felt soft. His short time with Ana was perhaps a tad too long, resurfacing emotions long buried. The humid weather in Singapore was not helping; folks like him just didn't suffer well in it. We all know what happens to deep-fried stuff left out in the kitchen for too long!

Christian also wondered if his youtiao would flop like a wet, disinterested rope. Better not! Could it be that he was beginning to have "feelings" for Ana, something a dominatrix once warned him about. "Christian, all this heels and black leather is not play. It's something deeper. And one day, you will find the girl that will fill that Vadai hole of yours completely!" Christian didn't believed it then. But maybe that woman his mother could be right. Ana closed her eyes and offered up her wrists to Christian, eager to be`bonded, whipped and rolled. If you were a croissant reading this, you would do a Danish and leak some sticky cream. Excited, Ana giggled her humble small-town chortle. Back in her village in China, the only fun she ever had was with her cousin, Hei Ka-fei, or Black Coffee. He often dunked her in a brackish pond for laughs and she had found it perversely enjoyable. It set her up perfectly for Christian, even as he was coming across rather deviant and complex; charming yet dangerous; pure but mysterious. It was all rather confusing, much like eating char kway teow with no lard, less oil and sans sausage. HOW CAN??? Fifty shades of brown, that's what Christian Vadai was. Fifty shades of brown. As the second handcuff clicked shut on her wrist, Ana arched in lustful anticipation. "Spank me! Spank me!" she urgently commanded Christian. The young billionaire from Little India duly complied and cracked his youtiao, which was now fully unsheathed and thankfully, still crisp. Somewhere in China, a startled Black Coffee jolted and spilled something in his lap. He suddenly thought of an old sweetheart with a somewhat nice bottom and a weird pondage inclination. He also wondered why his wife, De Bei-nie, glared at him for no apparent reason. The end.

A quick one by TC Lai. ;-) Note: Growing up, ham cheem paeng was a Cantonese euphemism for "minge" - a British slang term for a woman's.... Well, you go find out from an urban dictionary! ;-)

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Kim San Leng@Verdun House

Verdun House. I see it every time I visit Mustafa Centre walking in from the very same road that bears its name.

The name Verdun reminds me of that town in northeast France (near the German border) where the second worst battle of WWI was fought. The battle was long (some ten months) and a large number of soldiers gave their lives. The French lost some 542,000 men and the Germans, who were trying to kill the French to get at the British army encamped behind, lost 435,000. They learned to their tragic consequence that the French soldiers defending the place were no pushovers.

Warfare during WWI was characterized by two things: Trench fighting and battles of attrition. What's a battle of attrition, you ask. Simply, when troops fail, you send in more. It goes on until the very last man is left. It is a terrible way to win a war and WWI is infamous because the armies at the time were led by kings and princes who had scant regard for the lives of their common folk. Plus there's the romanticized notion of serving "king and country"..i.e. till the reality of war sets in. And that's what happened. The 1979 movie, On the Western Front, based on a true-life account, says as much. Idealistic youth setting off to war but finding only death and misery at the trenches. As the death toll rose, more and more people began to see the whole thing as a misadventure. It didn't help that the war was due to some insult and saber-rattling, not that there was actual threat to land and nation!.

Is it any wonder that at war's end, many royal households in Europe (especially the Austro-Hungarian one) got overthrown by their own enraged citizenry. Many a parent's son got massacred and it is not something that can be whitewashed through propaganda alone.

In WWI, the French lament Verdun; the British the Somme.

In the Battle of the Somme (another infamous WWI battle) it was the turn of the British to attack the Germans. It became the fiercest conflict of the War, resulting in 1,219,201 deaths. There was a day when 17,000 British troops alone got wiped out. It is both a staggering and heartbreaking number. What's worse was the manner of their deaths: some units were ordered to literally walk into gunfire just so the enemy's ammunition could be exhausted. How criminal is that?!

Disappointingly, the commander of that conflict was never court-marshaled nor censored. Why? Apparently WWI was treated like a "learning war" where commanders were ill-equipped and faced never-seen-before threats. It was a conflict where men on horses faced mechanized war machines for the very first time. Machines such as tanks, planes and even submarines. There were also chemical weapons. How terrifying the situation must be to both commander and young soldier!

But none of these machines were as lethal as the machine gun in mowing down ranks upon ranks of foot soldiers. Or the artillery shells that fell and blasted troops to kingdom come. If the explosive shells didn't get them, the mustard gas in the ditches would. In the Battle of Verdun alone, 40 million artillery shells were used. Forty million? My goodness, that's a huge number! No wonder one can still see craters around the town of Verdun today.

Interestingly, there's a link between the Battle of Verdun and the Lord of the Rings. At the Battle of Verdun, a common cry among the French soldiers was, "They shall not pass!". In LOTR Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf commanded the Balrog with a stout "You shall not pass!"


So as I exited City Square Mall and paused at the traffic junction, I could see Verdun House across the road. France and WWI immediately came to mind. I waited a while as long forgotten facts came flooding back. I had done much reading a few years ago when the anniversary of "the Great War" popped up. As the traffic junction here was always busy with cars, I decided to be a bit more careful. A famous Mediacorp actor did knock someone down here before. Fortunately, it wasn't a hit and run; if not, that chap's career would be over! I also didn't want to be late, so I ignored the DO NOT CROSS red man and picked my way across.

At Verdun House, a few comrades had already arrived, safe and imbibing their beer and chatting. The zhichar kopitiam looked as if it had seen better days.

To be frank, KSL@Verdun House is not a place I would eat at. It looks like some worn-out zhichar place that has seen many a year serving "so-so" food. Quite a few such places exist around the Kitchener Rd and Jalan Besar area, and also in the warren of narrow streets leading up to Rochor. Being near to Mustafa Center, Verdun House is also considered part of Little India. And when I am in that place I usually look for Indian food, not Chinese zhichar!

So it came as a surprise that the dishes from the kitchen of Kim San Leng@Verdun House were all very traditional and above par.

Kim San Leng is a familiar sight all over Singapore. They own neighborhood restaurants as well as kopitiams in HDB estates. I think my first encounter with them was at their outlet along Changi Road near Lor Sarina in the early 90s. They had a large zhichar stall but also a wonderful hokkien mee stall at the side. It mesmerized folks with their "wok hei" and gooey, garlicky seafood flavor. 

Kim San Leng@Verdun House is run by a somewhat youthful-looking son of the owner. He says the restaurant has been there for some 28 years - way before the area was redeveloped and sprouting both the iconic Mustafa Centre and Park Royal Hotel. The architecture of Verdun House says as much. It looks like many of the low-rise apartment buildings along Middle Road that rose up in the 80s - buildings with names of Chinese businessmen like Foo Ann, Boon Sing and Chiat Hong. Probably GSM is the most well-known of the lot.

The son also informed me that KSL came out of the Neo Tiong Boon seafood place in Ulu Sembawang - a famous kampong road/track that ran through a large area of farmland stretching from Sembawang to Mandai to Bukit Panjang. We knew about that seafood restaurant as we NS boys used to trek from Ten Mile Junction ("chap gor") to emerge at Ulu Sembawang at the Seletaris bottling plant now replaced by a condominium of the same name. The road Ulu Sembawang was also shortened much after the BKE expressway was built cutting like a black ribbon through now verdant wild forests.


As with tradition, the first dish to arrive was the "lo-hei" dish. The server did her part mixing the ingredients and uttering well wishes as she did so. Though her voice was soft and somewhat drowned by nearby roadside traffic, I definitely heard her say "sheng yi xin rong" - May your business flourish. I also secretly wished she'd said, "And may the Car Park Aunty give you chance this evening!" - seeing how some of our SBM members might have parked their cars along the roadside lots. If you park in the right ones, it's free after 5 pm!

The lo-hei dish also came with two mandarin oranges that were given to SBMer Yuki for keepsake. Yuki is Japanese and hails from Yokohama; but more recently from JB and KL! It's her first makan session with SBM. (My last trip to Yokohama was for business that ended with a hosted dim sum dinner at a very posh restaurant in its Chinatown. Yokohama Chinatown is known to serve up some very authentic Chinese food. Yuki agrees.)  

Table 1 Lo Hei.

Table 1 Lo Hei (other side)

Table 2 Lo Hei

Mr Francis "Don't Waste Yummy Food" Pang. Good job!

The second dish was the Cold Platter. It had Cloud Wrapped Siew Mai, yam fritters, topshell in onion vinaigrette, mui-yee roast pork and ngoh hiang. All were of good standard and it was nice to taste stuff that is for once handmade. I feel that cold dishes at hotel banquets have become somewhat predictable and bland - which is quite sad. At the table I was thinking about all the previous cold dishes I've had and realized that someone could write a thick coffee-table book about them. I especially like cold dishes with organ meats, blood solids, strange weeds, etc.

Calling Five Prospers cold platter

The next dish was the Shark's Fin Soup. No one raised any PETA objection to this, and everything was scooped out evenly with one bowl left. The smell of the shark's fin was just nice, not overwhelmingly raw. The fin shreds and crab meat were sufficient and not swimming in too much starch. Strangely, it was one shark's fin soup that I felt needed no vinegar or pepper to lift its taste.

Shark's Fin

Next came the Steamed Fish. It was done just right with the sauce light. The flesh of the fish was very fresh and firm. No wonder we cleaned it to the bone! Good. I always say if a fish died fresh for you, eat it all up. Don't waste a single bit!

Steamed Fish (Soon Hock)

From fish we arrived at Scallop Lounging on Luscious Green Bed of Broccoli Wearing Pork Floss Wig. The scallops were little white coins of firm but seared flesh in X.O. And guess what? There were also condiments of roasted shallots mixed in with roasted dry, shredded scallops under the Wig. All in all that gave the green veg and scallop more flavor when consumed together. Nice, very nice! 

Scallop Lounging on Luscious Green Bed of Broccoli Wearing Pork Floss Wig

Next came an interesting dish. We had no white rice but it was all curried. And the main ingredient was Wild Boar Pig Skin. The skin was thick and "QQ", very nice to the crunch and almost like cuttlefish! It was indeed well paired with the vegetables of long beans, tomatoes, lady fingers and maybe cabbage. Somehow the dish reminded me of stuff tossed in dry bak kut teh, but just. Dang, who would think pig skin cloyed in such gravy could be this endearing! 

Curried Wild Boar Skin

Next up is a fave of mine: Sea Cucumber Duck. The sea cucumber was thick and firm and kind of danced around like a live worm in the mouth. The duck was not overcooked. The sauce was more mushroomy than starchy and provided just enough slick to let the duck meat slide down the throat with ease. But I rather preferred to chew than swallow. Kind of the same when presented with a GF's ears! Ok, you nibble that and not chew!

Sea Cucumber Duck

The next dish showed why less is more. It was just Drunken Prawn flashed very quickly in white wine and then let out - surely very lightly done. You know, just enough to "wet" the prawn and not overpower its freshness or natural taste. I think it was done in this manner so those driving won't fail a breathalyzer test when "sway sway" stopped by our local Traffic Police!

Drunken Prawns

After the prawn came a roadside kill. What animal and from which street I had no idea. It was flattened and must have been a creature with a shag like fried beehoon. Apparently, this was the famous Grandpa's Wig, an omelette covered in black sauce beehoon and pan-fried. There was pork and other ingredients stuffed inside. In the end it was so good we ordered another one. I just wished we had fresh-cut green or red chilli to add some "zing" to it. 

Roadkill (aka Jia Xiang (Hometown) Beehoon)

Dinning under the stars!

Mr Don't-Waste-Yummy-Food at it again!

Yuki's Gold (heheh)

The last dish was dessert that turned out to be just a plate of fruit. No matter. By then, I think we all were rather well fed. My taste buds were not overwhelmed nor did I feel MSG-fied. I think the general consensus was that the food was old-school but good, better than a 10-course meal served up at some top-notch hotel. My own experience at some recent weddings have been rather disappointing. Either the hosts were "kiam canna" in their menu choice or that the chefs were not up to par. I suspect the latter. Dishes can be simple or traditional and yet make an oomph of a statement. It was the same case here. The only pity is that no one can hold a wedding at this restaurant. The busy Verdun Road will have to be closed to traffic as well as the adjoining Sam Leong Road. Now, won't that be like some outdoor party one often see in a Bollywood movie?

After the meal, some of us headed to the nearby Mustafa Centre to "jalan-jalan". Its food section looked better stocked than Cold Storage with long shelves of all kinds of brands that were also lower priced. We had talked much during dinner and learned quite a bit about each other. We also bonded. The whole affair left most of us eager for the next SBM Meet&Eat makan session.

Here is the menu and receipt (for reference, and note a dish or two changed!). ;-)

1. Fai Cai Yu Sheng; 2. Calling Five Prospers Platter; 3. Shark's Fin; 4. Harbour Steamed Soon Hock; 5. Broccoli-scallop with X.O. sauce; 6. Fu Gui (Prosperity) Chicken (??? Shud be Sea Cucumber Duck); 7. Drunken Prawns; 8. Hometown Beehoon (x2); 9. Dessert (fruits)

The end.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Milkmaid - The Victoria Secret Version

In old Singapore, tapowing (carrying away) hot coffee or tea in an empty condensed milk can was the norm from the local coffeeshops (kopitiams). After all, the tins were just sitting there after all the milk has been used making milk tea (nai cha) or spreaded over toast-bread.

Today, this practice has diminished somewhat with the use of plastic bags with strings.

But there are still kopitiams that use them (like near near my home). Why is the tin useful? Well, it can serve as a cup. But the plastic bag works (and popular with construction workers) because you can hang it anywhere. And no worries; the hot tea or coffee does cool off quite fast and can be drunk safely with a straw. ;-)

Here's my take on why the popular Milkmaid brand used so much in the past is no more! ;-)

Inception - The Rue of Pork

A recent photoon (Photoshopped cartoon) of mine. Now you know why foodies make terrible dream runners ala those fellas in Inception. ;-)

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Food Factories in Woodlands Loop

It's been known for a long time that food factories in this JTC building (at Blk 15 Woodlands Loop) have been selling their merchandise direct to the public. CCs have even organised tours to bring people here to shop, not withstanding the big delivery trucks that trundle in and out of the factories.

Just today, I decided to take a look at what they are selling after having that excellent Hakka yong tau foo at the Hong Lik kopitiam in nearby Blk 20.

Here is a sample of what you can find (I tried to include addresses in the pics or at least a neighbor's signboard). From factories at levels 3 & 4. Just walk about and explore. All pics below taken by TC Lai.

Including CNY goodies!
Nonya and wine bak gua.
Kimchi bak gua anyone? I think the inspiration came from
that Sarang Kimchi factory next door!
I had Ark (duck) kut teh before. Duck bak gua? Hmm...
More new year goodies!
J&C cheesecakes, brownies and roll cakes.
J&C also sells CNY goodies and puffs and eclairs!

J&C mini eclairs and durian cream puffs.
$5 for two jars of local chilli! $12++ for Lo Hei!
More CNY goodies.

More CNY goodies!This factory outlet has the traditional
Chinese rice or 'cloud slice' cakes.
This one does tiffin catering.
Vegetarian New Year goodies!
Satay and BBQ items (see next pix).
The address.
Their van with address and tel no.
Sin -Li-Hin (#04-01/04) has a wide selection of frozen items. 
Sample dishes.
Frozen prawns, scallops, clams, etc.
Many freezers of goodies.
Next door factory selling other gourmet stuff.
Same factory (with items in foam boxes).
E Frozen also got much stuff. Steamboat, shabu shabu, sea cucumbers...
Soon Kueh ready for steaming!
Top is Curry whipped potato fried bun.
Innocuous soon kueh and shui jing kueh factory. 
Address of soon kueh and shui jing kueh joint.
Aileng all-puff factory. Another factory sells the British type curry puff pastry.
From nonya kueh factory (they supply to hotels).
Types of flour they use.
Note level and unit address.
Next door got more CNY goodies.
Nonya nine-layer kueh (nice and soft!) + red bean big drop kueh.
Ooh, shui jing kueh! 
Shabu Shabu & Steamboat stuff from E Frozen (Big Thumb, see pix above).

E Frozen also offers online delivery