The Nasi Lemak Seller


(McD have the both the rice and the burger but both are priced at a level I would say ridiculous for a nasi lemak. For the same price, I can get 3-4 items more on a nasi lemak and still got spare cash for nasi tambah. Image source: McDonalds Malaysia)

One of the biggest problems that we face during the fasting month is the difficulty to get a good nasi lemak for breakfast. The usual morning nasi lemak stalls are closed for the month.

We can still get the usual nasi lemak from the nearest kedai Mamak (the sorry looking sambal that they splash on the plain rice is the same dumb sambal that they put on the roti canai, so the sambal is nothing special and probably is not fresh too. Same goes for the nuts and the anchovies) but it is not the same with the one that I usually buy from the old Makcik at the road side stall and has a really spicy sambal (you know I hate sweet sambal – read the post here).

Last two weekends ago, we decided to have our dinner outside but instead our usual hang-out place, we decided to look for a new place. We were getting bored with our usual place. I google out and found a small food court on the way to my sister’s house. The reviews on the net look “reasonable” too. When we arrived, we noticed that most of the tables were taken up but 2 tables nearer to the road were empty. There were plenty of stalls but considering it to be a new place; we decided to go with something safe – fried keow teow, noodles and satay. Just when we decided to leave, I noticed one stall that we missed earlier – a nasi lemak kukus stall with several containers for the extra ingredients and yes, my favorite – sotong sambal and kerang rendang was available. Since we were full, we decided to try nasi lemak the next time around.

Last weekend, we were back against at the food court and instead of looking at other food this time around, we headed straight to the nasi lemak stall. An old lady was manning the stall so it reminded me of the old Makcik from my favorite place. I had high hopes. Instead of eating at the food court, we decided to pack up and eat at home whilst watching a good movie. Usually a nasi lemak kosong with sambal packed separately will cost us RM1 to RM1.50 (correct me if I am wrong) and if add the other sambal here and there, it probably cost us RM10 – RM15 for 5 packets.

We informed the lady at the stall that we just wanted “nasi lemak biasa” and immediately we sensed trouble – she looked a bit blurred when we said nasi lemak kosong and sambal packed separately. I had a feeling that there must be a floor rate for each plate she sells – there is a minimum that she needs to charge per plate and probably she had never sell nasi lemak biasa. My wife took the trouble to explain in plain English and then Bahasa.

I think after some time, she finally understood what we wanted as we saw her packing up just the rice, roasted nuts, slices of cucumber and half of a boiled egg but when we are not “looking”, she quickly packed one whole boiled egg in some of the packs (so sneaky of her). When we point out that we only need a small slice of the boiled egg and not the whole egg, she acted like she did not understand and continue to pack up (later I found she charge RM1 for one whole egg, so half means RM0.50). I was not happy of the fact that she was charging us separately for the eggs in nasi lemak when it should be part & parcel of the whole package. At that point, I was even wondering if she is going to charge us separately for the roasted nuts and the sambal (she did charge us for the sambal in the end also).

Obviously she rarely does packed meals for her customers. Then she looked even more blurred when she want to pack up the sambal. Looking “blur” may have been part of the act, I guess. So my wife had to step-in to explain again. And whilst this was going on, I did mental calculation on the cost – I had a feeling that it is not going to be cheap. Then two other customers came over and as they are filling up their plates, I was keen to know the cost of their plates because they did not take much – one cost about RM8.90 and another was just under RM7.00.

In the end, there were 5 packs of nasi lemak kosong, one small pack sambal (enough for 3 people) and one pack of kerang rendang ready on the table. It was time to calculate the total price – how difficult it is going to be right? The old lady took out her calculator and I looked at my wife – somewhat my earlier suspicion that it is not going to be cheap may be to be proved to be true.

With a calculator at hand, she charged us RM3.50 for the nasi lemak kosong with half egg whilst the nasi lemak kosong with a full boiled egg, she charged us even extra – RM4.00. The kerang rendang which was not much (if you ask me – most of it was gravy and not the actual kerang), she whacked RM10 for that alone. In the end, we ended up paying almost RM30 for the whole package. Ok lah, minus the kerang rendang (RM10), the price is about RM4 per pack of nasi lemak – which is the same as how some Mamak restaurant will charge for a nasi lemak biasa.

But what about the taste – terrible if you ask me! I had better tasting nasi lemak for far less price. This is the problem some people are having – not only the food tastes terrible, they charge their customers ridiculous price for it too – I don’t think the lady is interested to get & retain new customers (especially one is crazy about nasi lemak). It would have been a different story if the taste had been out of this world – I have no problem paying good money for good food. It is for sure that we are not going back to this stall again.

Good thing, the fasting month is ending soon and the good old Makcik will be back to open her stall.

Selamat Hari Raya and Happy Holidays to all

 

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Here’s Your Beef Pizza


Please read these as well:-

Pizza

(BF on the pizza list does not mean chicken, I am very sure of it but the staff insisted it is chicken. It may not look like much but add the service and the tax and soon to be GST, eating out may not be a cheap thing. Having the restaurant mixing your order is just rubbing the salt on your wounds)

Dear, that looks like beef, my wife told me as the waiter placed the pizza on the table…

Ever since I came back from overseas, my kids have been asking for an eat out for a pizza and we have been busy with other things. Then yesterday, I decided to take a day off – not because I had something urgent to do but rather I have enough leave allowance left which I know will go to waste in the coming months when I off to another work assignment. I woke up late in time for my son to be back from school. We had decided to have our lunch outside and waited for my son to take his shower. It was a while since he went to take his shower so I walked to his room, thinking that he is probably busy with his homework (he usually do) but instead he was fast asleep (he was doing his homework till late last night). Deciding not to wake him up, my wife decided to cook something simple (there was some idlis leftover from the morning breakfast as well) and decided to have dinner outside instead.

Having set the plan for the evening and had nothing to do for the rest of the afternoon, I stroll to the bedroom and played game on my phone. The next thing I remembered was my daughter waking me up – she wanted to go to the pizza place. I looked at the time and it was almost 7.30 pm. I must have dozed off halfway playing game on the phone. Now we were kind of late, no thanks to me. I had planned to go before 6 pm. There was still time I told myself. Besides my son only then woke up and sleepily walked into my room and continued his sleep on my bed. I wish I could have done the same thing but by now, my wife joined my daughter in waking me up. Since I usually spend more than time than the rest in the bathroom, I am often pushed to be the first to take my shower. The rest of them will take shower after me – it was nothing but an excuse as there was 2 other bathrooms that they can use.

We decided to go to Aeon Equine Park as my son wanted to buy new books for his revisions and I know there is a small Popular book store there. It was a working day, so driving to IOI Mall or Sunway Pyramid would be a nightmare at this time. The bottleneck there is unbelievable. By the time we reached the place, there was plenty of parking lots for us to pick. So was the seats at the Pizza Hut – we decided to have our dinner first and spend the rest of the time at Popular. Aeon usually closes at about 10 pm on weekdays. So we had to about 2 hours left which was more than enough.

Now talking about eating pizza, it has never been our first choice when it comes to us eating out. If given the option, sushi would be our first choice but then having too much of “raw food” is not a good thing either. But today we are determined to have our pizzas. We walked to an almost empty Pizza Hut and picked out seats. There is another Pizza restaurant in the same place but somehow we feel that Pizza Hut pizzas had better taste. We decided to order a personal pizza first for the kids this time – we were struggling to eat the pizza in the past when we ordered the 2 regular pizzas. After all given the lack of crowd at that moment, we could always order another pizza any time. We opted for chicken “based” pizza instead of our usual seafood “based” as my son sometimes gets rashes after taking seafood. We also opted for more side dishes this time – for a change.

One thing that I noticed is that the waiter did not repeat my orders, something that was odd considering that the franchisee is an international brand. The personal pizza that was served hot disappeared in seconds as soon it was served. The kids were hungry, so was my wife and soon even the side dishes was eaten up too. It was time to add more orders – another pizza. My son took the menu and whilst still munching food in his mouth, started to pick the second pizza – another chicken “based” pizza. Once again, the waiter did not repeat my orders.

It did not take long before the waiter to bring over the plate of pizza. The meat topping on the pizza looked somehow strange – it looked darker and overcooked. I gathered that it must be the way they prepared this pizza but my wife was quicker. She immediately noticed that it was beef topping instead of chicken on the pizza. My son was about to put the pizza in his mouth but stopped immediately once my wife mentioned “beef”. I checked further and it was indeed beef topping on the pizza. To our surprise, another waiter brought us another pizza and it seemed to the correct pizza – the meat topping was definitely chicken but when he saw the pizza on the table, he got confused and so was us. Someone had definitely made a mistake.

I asked the waiter to confirm which is one is our real order (just in case we made a mistake) and there was more confusion as the waiters talked to themselves and double checked the order. To my dismay, the first waiter insisted that the beef topping pizza was INDEED chicken pizza. I looked at her and she must have read my mind and quietly walked away. Then another guy came over, apologized and took away the beef pizza. He then brought over the correct pizza but by now, the damage is done. My son had lost his appetite for pizza (I know he was still hungry) and my wife had lost interest. I ended up finishing most of the pizza myself.

We decided to leave and forget this small mishap for the time being. I waited at the counter to pay the bill and once again, I got another apology from the lady behind the counter. But a surprise was waiting us. The bill included the wrongly delivered beef pizza. There was another customer at the counter, so I waited patiently for another battle on wrong orders. I explained to the lady that the beef pizza was wrongly delivered to us and thus should not be charged to us. In fact I wanted to say that Hindus don’t eat beef but one look at the lady behind counter seems to tell that she lacks this basic knowledge.

And this is not the first time, some people had assumed that non-halal in this country only means one thing – pork to the Muslims. And forgetting that non-halal also means beef to the Hindus and the Buddhists. Another round of discussions and checking with rest of the waiters (I thought they have settled this issue earlier). Good thing for the restaurant and the staff – I was somehow kept my cool and just want to settle the issue. The manager finally showed his face and went over to the counter and re-do the bill. He returned the extra amount but rather hesitantly, as if we made the mistake and not his staff. Better than nothing although I was still at the losing end if consider the service tax and govt tax (short changed about RM1++, ha ha).

Good day out for dinner however ruined for the day but somehow the staff apologizing for the small mistakes soften the damage. Interesting change indeed.

When Service Really Sucks!


Don’t mind me, it has been sometime since I bitched about service at a restaurant or is it is because it is the weekend again.

Read these first:-

30mins

(I have walked off from restaurants couple of times before when there was no service or when my orders delivered late but it was a bit hard difficult to do the same when you have a family in tow. Image source: http://www.insightwithpassion.co.uk)

I did not realise that eating sushis for lunch (which was excellent and my son had a good run on the available choices) can make you really hungry later in the evening.

When we came back home, it was just nice for a quiet afternoon nap. And some hours later, my wife and my son was soon feeling hungry again. But since we were going off to see one of our aunty who were not well, we decided to go for dinner on the way later. Just then my mom and my sisters had came back from their Deepavali shopping and since my wife had not cooked anything for dinner, they asked if we can “tapau” some food back.

Someone mentioned thosai and the Indian restaurant just near the house where we once had our usual fare of good thosai, roti naan and roti canai did crossed my mind. However the problem is that their level of service is nothing to shout about – its sucked big time (a norm in some restaurants). You actually need to remind the morons at the restaurant several times on your orders and I have kind of had avoided going to the restaurant for some time. Which was unfortunate because the place is clean, the food is great and the price of food is quite reasonable. It is also quite near to the house and have plenty of parking spots near to the restaurant. These days we pick on another Indian restaurant couple kilometers away where their service is better. Unfortunately it is far from where the aunty resides and since my son now had started to complain that he is really hungry and could not wait another minute more, I had to make the dreaded decision – to head to that nearest restaurant where service is known to be bad. My wife tried to protest but since my son’s complaint had become louder, she kept quiet, hoping for the best.

As we pulled in to the parking spot in front of the restaurant, we could see that the restaurant was packed – the reason was due to another restaurant nearby (with the same level of service that sucks) had closed for the day and its patrons had decided to eat in this restaurant. I looked at my wife and told her that it looks like we need to wait longer for the food. That did not go well with my son but somehow he understood the situation. Despite the crowd, we found empty seats. Trays, plates and cups from the previous patrons left on the table. We took our seats and I immediately waved my hands asking the waiter to clean the table but no one came. One guy passed our table and only remarked “wait”. We understood that the restaurant had more patrons than usual and it will be slow. Sensing that someone will come over later to clean, we decided to wait for the table to be cleaned. But then on the other side, another group of patrons had left and to my irk, the waiter who told us to wait, was soon got busy clearing the plates and cups whilst the same remained on our table.

I was losing my patience – why they don’t clean tables where patrons are still waiting? They can’t be that dumb, right? We understand if they are busy with patrons who came before us. I waved to another waiter and he only came after I had raised my voice. He cleared the plates and cups but left his rag cloth on the table without cleaning the table. He left us rather abruptly to take order from another table. We saw another waiter but he seemed busy chit-chatting with the cook. The restaurant was crowded and the workers were very busy no doubt but it looked like they were not interested taking our orders. To make things worse, they were entertaining patrons who came in after us. If they are too busy with the existing patrons, I completely understand their situation and I will patiently wait for our turn. But seeing patrons who came after us getting their orders done did struck the right cord with me.

I had enough of the nonsense – I somehow regretted coming over to this restaurant in the first place. I should have just listened to my instinct and go to our usual place for our dinner. Never mind the traffic or the distance or my son saying that he is very hungry. I told my wife in a loud voice that if no one come over and take our order in the next minute, we are walking out from here – I did not realise I was loud but I guess I was rather annoyed with the level service. It was loud enough to be heard by the patrons near to where we were seated. Despite the need to disappoint my son who was complaining, we decided to have dinner at our usual place. It seemed this restaurant was “rich” enough to turn away customers.

Just when we was about to walk out and head to our usual restaurant, the earlier waiter then came back and asked us on our orders. His rag cloth was still on the table. My wife was about to tell her order when I stopped her. I looked at the waiter rather annoyingly and told him to clean the table first. We kept quiet until the table was really cleaned. Only after he had properly cleaned the table, we gave him our orders, expecting another round of waiting for the order to come (somehow I regretted this decision). But it was not the case. The food came without much delays – probably because I was keeping an eye on the waiter and the kitchen. Or perhaps the waiter knows that if the food was delayed or if patrons who came after us got their food first, we would have just walked out (it is not the first time I have done that).

Lesson well learned – 1. no point giving some people a second chance. Some people does not know what a good service means and take things for granted 2. just follow instinct and go to places known for good food and good service and 3. simply walk out if service turns out to be bad

Prepping In Malaysia Part 3


Update 1: Some 300,000 residents living in Cheras and Ampang will celebrate the New Year without water supply as it will take Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) up to one week to restore the service to their areas (source). Still think that we need a major disaster to happen before we start prepping? All it needs is a fault in the pump house and you are out of water for a week – that is a real case scenario right here in Malaysia.

Back to the original post

(Remember; when disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed. — Steven Cyros)

Kuantan Flood

(Streets or rivers in Kuantan? Yes, it is a yearly affair for those who live along the East Coast but the West Coast has its share of flash floods too. We may not have killer hurricanes or earthquakes or volcanoes, unlike our nearest neighbours but we do have our share of natural disasters. And given the frailty of our infrastructure, maintenance and dirty politics, we are also exposed to possible blackouts and water supply disruptions. Are we ready for it? Image source: TheSun)

Welcome back, a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Just one more post on “2012” before the end of 2012 (please read Part 1 here and Part 2 here). The world as we know it did not end last week and we will likely to have a very smooth journey into 2013 but it did not deter me from prepping for unforeseeable disaster in the future. If you have been following up on this blog, I talked about Mayans and 2012 way back in 2007 (almost 5 years before the deadline on 21.12.2012) but I did nothing back then – no storerooms, no bug-out-bags, no canned food, no water storage, nothing. But then, counting down towards 21.12.2012 and as I realised the importance of preparing for emergencies, it has become a good excuse to be a prepper. Moving forward, the challenge would be to maintain the same prepper’s mindset beyond 21.12.2012.

Anyway, it was interesting to read the various comments in the net & mainstream media when the world as we know it did not end last week. Some were positive (especially from fellow preppers – they were determined more than ever) and some were not. Some even ridiculed the Mayans civilizations – an ancient civilization that had fully developed written language and a well developed understanding in art, architecture, mathematics and astronomy. What if we got the Mayan calendar all wrong and we are off the mark by couple of days or years? Wouldn’t that be interesting? Others ridiculed the fact that there are people prepping for doomsday. Was it a sign of people not believing in having Plan B or taking things for granted? – I don’t know but based on what I have read in the papers, there seems to be some misconceptions on prepping.

1. The world did not end on 21.12.2012 and nothing will happen in the near future.

Now if we analyse the hype of 21.12.2012, it merely mentions that the Mayan Long Calendar (by some extension and interpretation, the world) ends on 21.12.2012. The thing is Mayan had never predicated what would cause the end of the world (if one takes the end of the calendar to be the end of the world).

A number of possible disasters (both natural and man made) have been mentioned as the possible cause of the end of the world – major earthquakes, super volcanic eruptions, high possibility of a bull eye’s hit by large asteroids (or dark comets), ark floods, giant tsunamis, an all-out nuclear war (triggered by rouge countries or terrorists) and civil unrest, solar storms, drastic polar shift, ice age, break out of plagues, alien attacks, etc and even though we were lucky enough not to see it happening on 21.12.2012, some of it remains a major threat to mankind

Our rich history of mankind is dotted with incidents of major disasters that had wiped out thousands or millions in the past. We only need to turn to our history books and remind ourselves. Can we say for sure that nothing will ever happen in the future?

2. Prepping is a waste of time, resources and money – we can always get things from the hypermarket even on a bad day.

In the same manner we are grateful that we have a spare tire in our car when we hit a puncture in a dark lonely road or we had brought along the umbrella when it starts to rain, there is no harm coming up with a fall-back plan – a Plan B sort of. No doubt prepping takes time, resources and money but can we call it as waste?

Being in Malaysia where at the worst, our “disasters” are confined to flash floods, blackouts and water interruptions, we need not spend the time and money preparing for the worst. When disaster strikes, we simply wait for the Government to send help (in form of relief centres, financial aid and sundry items). Some may decide to spend time with relatives and friends until the time of disaster simply passes over. But what happens if we are to face a disaster that is not familiar to us – say solar storms and extended blackouts and water interruptions or a major plague (still remember H1N1? It’s almost end of 2012 and it is still here) and when it will some time before the Government can do something about it?

And don’t forget that we are also cursed with the usual mentality of doing things at the last moment. If we know that we need to hold-on on our own for a few days before we can rescued, rushing over to the hypermarket to stock up on food and water at the last minute could be overwhelming experience – not only we have fight our way to little food and water that may be left, buying things at the last moment could be expensive too (it’s a different story if one have been building up the storage over a longer period)

My grandmother was one of the earliest supporters in the family when it comes to prepping and she insists (to this day) that I am doing the right thing. She went through the Japanese occupation of Malaya and May 13 and she knows all too well the importance of storing up food, water and other essentials when disaster strikes and it is not safe to venture out.

3. Buying canned food as part of prepping is dumb as it does not last long and if nothing happens, it goes to the waste.

It’s a fact that canning is still one the best ways to preserve food and has a long shelf life, some with 2-3 years before it can be “unsafe” to eat. Canning has several advantages when it comes to storage too. It does not need refrigeration, easy to stack up, highly portable (great for bug-out-bags), completely sealed and well cooked during the canning process and this kills any bacteria that may be present and still keeps the nutrients intact.

My idea of prepping is to continue to store and keep something that we use and eat on a regular basis. Forget about keeping canned food for disasters – even normal days we still use canned food on a very regular basis and that includes sardines (and mackerel) which is great for curry or sambal and is a good source of protein, tuna spread (my son love it with bread for breakfast), baked beans and green peas. We simply decided to buy extra 5 cans instead of the usual 1-2 cans whenever we go for our shopping and over time, we would have stocked up enough cans that can be used for the future. So we did – we bought 5 cans, use up 2 cans for our usual cooking and keep the balance 3 cans in the storeroom and the cycle went on until we have a sizeable storage of canned food that can used in the event we cannot venture out to buy food.

All the canned food have been properly labelled and arranged based on expiry dates – the one with the longer dates are stacked up at the back whilst the one going to expire soon is stacked up at the front. And we only buy those canned food that we use on a regular basis (nothing exotic) – so this rotation of cans will make sure that we don’t end up having expired canned food and if nothing happens, we can still use it for our regular use (when I started prepping, my canned food was running out faster than I could store them).

4. All house water tanks are enough to last for 3 days (taking into consideration the 72 hours factor), so what is the big deal in storing more water?

We use water for drinking, cooking, the toilet and shower and perhaps to water the garden and wash the car. But when the taps goes dry, we need to conserve whatever water we have, primarily for drinking and cooking – we can only survive an average of three to five days without water.

When I talked about water storage for 3 days, I was talking about drinking water and for a family of 8 (5 adults and 2 children) and excluding whatever left in the house water tank. As recent as 2012, there are places in this country that had experienced water supply disruption lasting up to a week. My friend had water supply to his housing area disrupted for more than a week and after numerous complaints, they finally sent some water tankers for the residents but guess what, it was sent when most of them was away at work and it was not enough to cover all houses! That almost started a riot. And more recently there have been threats of water disruptions as well.

Ask yourself this question – will your house water tank last your family for at least a week? If yes, good for you but if it does not, what is your Plan B if you experience water disruption? Wait out for the Government water tankers who may or may not show up at your residential area or when you are away at work? Or rush over to your local sundry shop and buy crates of expensive mineral water (forget trying to replenish your water storage with the water kiosks in front of the shops – it may have gone dry too)? Or store up water upfront when you still had water in your taps and recycle them often so that the water in your storage remains fresh and safe? Which one is easier to do?

5. Preppers are people who are simply afraid to die (ya this was one of the more interesting one that I read). When it is time to go, nothing stops you from going.

Tell me one person who is not afraid of death? Suicide bombers perhaps. Yes, all of us have to “go” one day but does it mean we will leave it to our fate and go down without a fight? What about the people who have beaten the odds and survived from a near impossible situation? Still remember of those who crashed in the Andes and survived? The fact is no one wants to die and if you have people to take care (family, relatives or friends), you will do whatever it takes to keep breathing and survive. And you don’t have to be a prepper to do that – just ask anyone who have a family to take care of. So, it’s nonsense to link preppers to people who are afraid to die.

We are grateful that 21.12.2012 was not the end of the world but in the same juncture, it should be the start of prepping. The future is uncertain and we should not take things for granted. No one is forcing anyone to be a prepper but think about it, especially if you have small kids and elderly parents to take care of.

Prepping in Malaysia Part 1


Oh no, another doomsday post before the weekends…!

(Still think that EMP or Electro Magnetic Pulse is a distinct threat? The above was captured a couple days ago and if the sun storms are threatening satellites flying couple hundreds of miles from the surface of the planet, just think of the risk if sun storms gets more violent in the coming months as predicted by some scientists? )

I always think that tomorrow would better than today but at the same time, I also believe in preparing for tomorrow, today. If you are thinking the same and you are actually doing something about it, you can call yourself a prepper.

If you had been watching the “Doomsday Preppers” over at Nat Geo Channel (if you have not, you should), you will discover how some people will go to the extreme to prepare for worst case scenario and some people have been “prepping” for many types of eventuality (hyperinflation, collapse of the economy, end of the world scenario, major power blackouts, natural disaster, etc) for more than 2 years now. In Malaysia, we have yet to go on such large scale when it comes to prepping. Perhaps since we do not face any natural disasters and our nearest hypermarkets always well stocked and cost of good have always been cheap, we are taking things for granted.

But we also must keep in mind that we are not completely safe from events that are happening around the world – events that could and would disrupt our daily activities and turn the world upside down for us. One such event in the horizon is this:-

A new respiratory illness similar to the Sars virus that spread globally in 2003 and killed hundreds of people has been identified in a man who is being treated in Britain. The 49-year-old man, who was transferred to a London hospital by air ambulance from Qatar, is the second person confirmed with the coronavirus. The first case was a patient in Saudi Arabia who has since died. Officials are still determining what threat the new virus may pose.

(Source)

Add the above to the list of known & unknown viruses that are flying around on a global sense on daily basis, a number of WW3 hotspots around the world and out of the norm natural disasters, it makes more sense that we need to have some kind of “Plan B” in our pockets.

You need not take extreme measures. If you want to prep for any emergencies, you will know that it is not easy to be a prepper in Malaysia. As such, it would be interesting to share ideas and read on how others do their prepping for emergencies in this country and mind you, not all are preparing for end of the world. I am preparing for an unusual blackouts expected due to the predicted solar storms in the next few months (the sun is undergoing it’s 11 years cycle and scientists had predicted it to peak year end).

Prepping has been a challenge for me too (and it still is) and the first thing before we proceeded to anything was to find the space for storing. The obvious choice was the small storeroom in the house but it was full of items (mostly junks) and it seemed a nightmare to even think of cleaning it. But as one would say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, after I had spent a considerable time to clear out the storeroom in the house (we did not realize how much unwanted things can take up so much space in the little storeroom and it does nothing but collect dusts. It took us almost 3 rounds of cleaning before we managed to clear them) and then get it painted and stocked it with proper shelves (it was on fire sale at Tesco, so I bought 5 at one go), it was easier to start on the actual prepping tasks.

The first things that we bought for our “doomsday” storeroom was canned food and the obvious one in our list was canned sardines. A whole lot of them! It was not really cheap (there were cheaper options but we have never about that particular brand) but expiry date was in 2014 (which meant at least 2 years of shelf life) and it is something that we had for dinner on a regular basis. And slowly we added other canned items – canned chicken curry, canned green peas, canned peas in tomato sauce and canned tuna. It is easier to store (just need to stack them up) and it is safe as well. We wrote down the expiry month and year on the cans and we stack them based on the expiry dates (the earlier dates at the front).

Two 15 litres water containers was the next item on our list and with another 3 other containers of boiled filtered water meant that we have about 75 litres of drinking water at given time of the day. Experts recommend about 1 gallon (about 3.8 litres) per day per person during emergency and at least for 3 days. At the current stage, the water storage is enough to last the family for 3 days but certainly this is not enough on a long term basis. The next stage would be to increase this water storage capacity and I am planning to purchase large water containers to hold raw tap water. Rainwater harvesting system is another option for a renewal source of water in case the taps goes dry but as I mentioned in my previous posts, this option is not feasible in Malaysia if you don’t have the space (most of us don’t). You cannot simply have a large ugly expensive containers lying on your porch. There is still some work to be done here.

We then refocus back on our storeroom prep and we knew that we needed more than canned food. An incident a couple of days before the Hari Raya holidays reminded us on the stark reality of things to come. We went to our usual hypermarket and after we have fill our shopping cart almost full, we headed towards the counter when my wife remembered that we need to buy cooking oil. We walked towards the area where they had the cooking oils stocked and what we saw was rather shocking, the whole shelf was empty. Not one oil cooking bottle was available other than the more premium non-palm cooking oil and we had no other choice but to buy the premium non-palm cooking oil. But what will happen if this goes empty too?

So we added cooking oil into our storeroom items (unfortunately cooking oil is have very short shelf life) so we have to consistently keep an eye on it. We also added packets of rice although it does not make a good item for “doomsday” store as it finishes rather quickly and we have yet to try keeping rice in vacuum sealed packets which would keep rice fresh for 20 years or more. Then the usual stuff was added on the list – packets of maggi instant mee, chilly sauce bottles and biscuits. The next plan would to add “MRE” like food (although it is quite tough to find them in Malaysia) and of course, more canned food.

To be continued…

Trip to Oriental Paris – Part 6


I almost forgot about this and thought of doing a closure post but then I just realised that there are still plenty of photos of food in my collection. So, let’s do probably another 1-2 posts on food (this included) before we “head back” home.

One of the juicy advertisement as we head towards our ride at one of the underground trains – the famed Peking Duck. When we were in Shanghai, we did not really had this dish for lunch or dinner but then we decided not to look for the place that serve the dish as well. But a friend of us who went to Beijing for a short trip had the Peking Duck packed and brought it back home.

That small logo at the top of the menu almost caught us – at we thought it was KFC‘s menu for their local dish but then we took a closer look at realised that it is not Colonel Sanders and it is just a logo that was used by one of the smaller restaurants near to our workplace. After all if you can get a crystal clear “imitation” of the Rolls Royce in China, what more of well known international brands and well known fast food dishes.

Don’t be mistaken – they also have the real KFC restaurants in the city but despite it being cheap and easy, we decided not to go for it – a quick look in the inside and things was not looking too good. The queue was long (mostly with over-excited youngsters) and there were very limited tables and chairs inside the restaurant for those who wish to dine in (the area looked small and stuffy too) and with some of us with handful of shopping bags, we decided not to take the risk either.

There is also a Chinese (albeit cheaper) version of Subway in the city. It is known as Starway and they operate in the same manner as the real Subway with the same types of bread with the same options of filing and with the almost identical modus operandi as Subway (the founder must have been an ex-Subway staff). The people behind the counter speak fluent English too so ordering was a breeze. And we often opt for this simple dish of bread with “halal” fillings (halal since they don’t serve beef, surprisingly) instead of walking out far in the cold and get ourselves the more complex noodles for dinner.

Starway bread of the day packed and filled – it’s cheap (less than RMB20), cleaner and surprising very tasty and more than enough to cover our hunger when we end up working late. Unfortunately they don’t provide delivery service though but thankfully the restaurant was not far away from our workplace (it is not crowded too – the locals have not caught on the idea of having bread for lunch or dinner) and we had caring colleagues who were wiling to “ta-pau” for the rest of us who were busy working to resolve the issues so that we all can go back and have a good night sleep (after a couple bottles of beers, of course).

Here’s something I gotten fond of when I order my bread from Starway – cold fresh vegetarian drink and often, 1 bottle is not enough (it never was) and somehow I often felt more healthy drinking this than the hot plain Chinese tea but then again it could be just my imagination because I also had plenty of tea and beer during my stay in Shanghai and I never fell sick (even after I walked in the rain on several occasions)

Thankfully the sense of imitation did not extend to other kind of restaurants. The Korean fast food restaurant was pretty authentic with proper Korean dishes with Korean restaurant setting. Prices ranges from RMB40 to RMB120 and it was not so bad considering the portions was sufficient enough – it was heavy but was not overwhelming to our taste. The only complaint was the entrance to this restaurant – we had to go through a small lift and there was only one that was working, so we were praying for the lift not to breakdown when were inside the lift.

The good old “nasi goreng” – you can get them hot and tasty no matter where you go. This one was not that bad (I had better ones when I was in Ghana – the spicy scrimp fried rice was really, really good) but at least it was rather safe to eat – you know what is in it. I wished they had a good sambal to go with that.

Here’s another dish from the Korean restaurant that we went – more meat than the rest and gravy too. Ha, I already missing the home cooked chicken curry.

We also found a small Thai restaurant just behind the place we were staying – we almost missed it as there was no big sign-board on the front but it only realised that it is a Thai restaurant after we had checked inside (it looked like a bar from the outside). They had the usual Thai wish-list food on the menu but it was quite pricey and thus we decided to go safe by ordering fried rice. It was good but it was no where near to the usual fried rice that we often get at Thai restaurants – it was not spicy enough for our standards.

The Tom Yam that we had was not that good as the Tom Yam we get in Malaysia – it was more watery but it was slightly spicier than the other dishes. It was also missing some Thai ingredients but that is understandable – it may not be easy to get the right stuff in the city. But at least we got something closer to home than the usual noodles and soups. We also found Malaysian restaurant from the net but it was a bit from where we were staying and further since we are going back home soon, we decided to wait out and get real, cheaper Malaysian food once we are back.

To be continued…

Trip to Oriental Paris – Part 4


(Countdown – 345 days to “doomsday”)

Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here
Read Part 3 here

Yes, still continuing with food post…

When one is in China and is having his food, one thing seemed certain – there is plenty of non-halal food and Chinese tea (of various grade and quality) to go around (although fast food and other foreign food seemed to be in favor at certain part of the city especially at the financial district). And there were also the highly nutritious mushrooms.

I realized now that at almost every dish we had for dinner, at least one would be mushroom dish and although we were wary of possibility of mushroom poisoning (being in China), it quickly became our must-have dish every time we have dinner.

Out of the many mushroom dishes we had, the above dish is our favorite – good enough to be eaten on its own, we had once ordered 2 plates of it. The dish was really simple but what makes the huge difference is the type of mushroom they used to cook and the way they cook it – a simple frying of the mushroom with sweet sauce and the juicy broccoli. When eaten it is almost crunchy with a smoother texture added to it and it is not that oily too. I am trying to find the same dish back home but have not seen one yet.

The above baby mushrooms dish was also good for our taste but the portions of the baby mushrooms was too small for us. The other things in the dish – vegetables and tofu somehow made up for the lack of portion.

Mixed vegetables (can’t recall what else was in there) – Shanghaian style – most of the bowls served is small sized, so when the waitresses serve our food, it is often served almost overflowing as you can see above and that makes it a bit delicate when one who is used to eat with spoon & fork, is picking the food (which is often made slippery due to the corn flour) with chopsticks.

Larger chunks of mushrooms and light soy sauce – another pure mushroom dish that we had but this time for lunch (we decided to pool our lunch money and go for cooked dishes instead). Interestingly it was not that salty despite it was rather heavy with the soy sauce (maybe because we had other dishes that compensated the taste or was it the tea that we were having, I am not sure).

Having plenty of vegetables seemed to be a better idea than having meat from an unknown source or fat laden meat – it was “light” on the stomach too. I rarely take mushrooms when in Malaysia – there are not many Malaysian dishes that goes heavily with mushrooms. The only time I encountered mushrooms (often button mushrooms) these days is when we go for Chinese food for dinner (or when one cooks soup at home).

To be continued…

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