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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Clothes Folder!

Recently I followed my Mama to Putrajaya to settle a home loan thing. And there was a bazaar outside the Kementerian Perumahan building. Vendors were selling everything from robes to hijabs to kitchenware. And then I came across this guy who was folding clothes using a plastic board.


I had seen this once before on an infomercial in New Zealand and had wanted it for the longest time. Now I know a lot of you have learnt a simple way of folding clothes on youtube but this is something I could easily teach Mama. Not another technique on folding clothes, just a contraption to help her do it easily while keeping it neat. 
As I guessed, she loved it and is still using it today. Now if you are wondering where this bazaar was so you could buy one yourself, I have news, this bazaars move from one government office to another every month. 
So here is a better alternative. The vendor told me that he opens his booth every other Sunday at The Curve's bazaar. He tries to be there most Sundays so that is the best place for you to go hunt for him okay? Good luck! 

Friday, 30 May 2014

Unbelievable Coincidence

A few weeks back I saw something in the bookshop Borders that reminded me of somebody I met back in 2009. You see in 2009 my boyfriend, Aaron and I took a trip to UK to visit both our best friends and a few more friends in Paris. It was a very tight budget trip and we got by with the help of so many wonderful friends over in both countries. 
While in UK, we took a weekend trip to London with some friends and met up with another Malaysian friend who was living and working in London at the time. 
One of the days in London, all of us took a walk down a row of shops, I do not exactly remember where but there were a lot of people hanging out in the back alley. As we walked down that street, we bumped into a street performer James and his ginger cat with a scarf around its neck, Bob. James was walking around with his guitar while Bob was comfortably perched on top of James' guitar. 
James approached us and said that for one Pound, he will sing for us. I told him that I only wanted to pet Bob. James told me for one Pound, he will sing and I could pet Bob. So we struck a deal. The whole time James sang, I petted Bob and Aaron took a video of the whole thing (unfortunately the hard disk where I saved the video is broken and I cannot retrieve the video). 
After James finished his song, we paid them, said goodbye to Bob and they both went on their merry way. Last month, about five years later, I went into Borders and found this book.
I could not believe my eyes! James had since written a book about Bob and it became the No 1 bestseller! According to the book, James was homeless when he found an injured Bob, nursed him back to health and they have been best buddies ever since.
I also found another book James wrote after the wildly successful first book and the second one contained delightful photos of Bob doing different things including taking a walk (aweee), perched on James' guitar (double aweeee) and wearing different scarves(triple aweeee). I will finish this book and let you know how their story went.
Incredibly out of the millions of people living in London, I actually ran into this pair before they shared their heartwarming story with the world. I hope James is no longer living on the streets and that both he and Bob now have a warm home to go to at night. 
I am a big fan of yours, Bob! May you live a good long life aside your best friend, James Bowen. 

Monday, 26 May 2014

Authentic Pakistani Cuisine

The last time I blogged about food was about Rakuzen. Right after finishing that post, I started craving for Japanese food. So that night we headed to our favourite Japanese restaurant, Rakuzen in SS15 Subang Jaya. As we parked the car, we came across a Pakistani cuisine restaurant just a few shops down the block from Rakuzen. 
Sheesh Mahal is the name of the restaurant and the host had on a full suit. He stood outside the doors, smiling at us from ear to ear. From outside we could see that the restaurant was well lit and beautifully decorated. We stood there for awhile, trying to decide on whether or not we still wanted to go ahead with Rakuzen or try something new for a change. 
My boyfriend and I are big time foodies. We have done the spontaneous foodie road trip before, we try new places any chance we get, we love the food network, you know, we are your typical foodies. 
Yet sometimes, we have our reservations. You know that feeling when you have high expectations of an eatery and then you end up severely disappointed by the food, service or ambience. And seeing as to how we have never heard any recommendations from friends with regards to Sheesh Mahal, we were not so sure if we should try it out ourselves. 
So we dished out our smartphones and checked for reviews on Trip Advisor. Turns out Sheesh Mahal has a four star rating on Trip Advisor and all reviewers had the best of things to say about the food, the service and the ambience. 
So we walked in and were greeted by smiley faces and bright wallpaper. 


My first thought was, "Hmm they have good online reviews yet the place is near empty." Only three tables were occupied, including ours. I later found out this was because the place is still very new. A lot of people come to dine yet a lot more still do not know about their existence. 
My next thought was that Sheesh Mahal's decor looks like fine dining and that we should have been better dressed. But looking around, I found other patrons dressed in t-shirt and jeans also. 
And then I looked at the menu and was surprised at how reasonably priced the dishes are!  The place may look like fine dining but the price is far from. However that does not mean the service is discounted because we were treated like Kings and Queens. The waiters were polite, pleasant, ever helpful and always prompt when called upon. 
We ordered a serving of Briyani Rice, one Butter Naan, one serving of Palaak Paneer (spinach and cottage cheese), Chicken Tandoori and Fish Tikka.
Briyani Rice
The Butter Naan was soft and buttery, just as advertised.
I used to think that Palaak Paneer is such an easy dish to make, nobody can get it wrong, but unfortunately I have experienced bad Palaak Paneer at a restaurant I no longer frequent. Sheesh Mahal's Palak Paneer is creamy, smooth and everything Palaak Paneer is supposed to taste like. Definitely a must have for your next visit.
Well seasoned, soft, flaky Fish Tikka.
The Tandoori Chicken was perfectly cooked, well marinated but incredibly salty. Since everything else they served was perfect, we forgave them for this (hopefully one time) mistake. Anyway other reviewers on Trip Advisor have great things to say about this dish. And you know what, I believe them because apart from the accidental saltiness, the chicken was perfect.
We told the host about the Tandoori Chicken and he apologized profusely. He later offered us a bowl of this delicious dessert.
I apologize for not getting the name of this must try dessert but let me describe to you what it tasted like. It was like flavoured shaved ice. Not too sweet, just nice.
All in all, I will definitely pay Sheesh Mahal another visit in the near future.

Sheesh Mahal
33 Jalan SS 15/5a, 47500 Subang Jaya
03-5621 3671


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Online Business

Online businesses are mushrooming everywhere. From Instagram to Facebook, these days it seems like everybody has something to sell. This is definitely a good thing as these social media platforms make it easier for the regular joe to reach a wider audience when advertising their items. 
Fashionistas are selling jackets, skirts, blouses, handmade accessories while hijabsters are selling hijabs, shawls, scarves, jubahs and maternity dresses. Others offer English tea sets, plates, bowls (my Mama is a huge fan of these. Every other day, the Gdex guy would be honking outside her gate). 
There is a world of items to be purchased through Instagram and Facebook and social media users are buying them everyday. However of late, I keep hearing girlfriends complain about sellers who do not offer a tracking number after payment has been made. Worse still, the items arrive late and when customers Whatsapp the seller (most popular form of communication between customers and sellers), they get no reply. 
At the end of the day, customers log on to their social media networks and find the sellers badmouthing them, calling them all kinds of names from kancheong, to impatient to difficult. 
Whoever said running an online business is easy was wrong. Of course most of you are running these businesses as a side income but the moment you have a big load of orders, you need to give special attention to your customers, no matter how difficult they can be. The customer is always right. 
You cannot not reply your customers' messages and you cannot expect the customer to understand that you were not available because you were in a meeting/driving/eating. Customer service should be your priority. If you cannot handle customers' messages twenty-four hours a day, you have to hire somebody who can. 
How would you feel if you ordered something from Zalora and after making payment, your item does not arrive. And then you called Zalora's customer service department and nobody answers. And then you log on to Zalora's Facebook and you find them posting a complain about you calling and harassing them. I ask you again, how would you feel?
Awhile back somebody sent me a photo of a conversation that took place between a buyer and a seller. The buyer was simply asking the seller when her item would be arriving but the seller's reply was something along the lines of "Give me you account number. I will refund you. I cannot stand dealing with difficult customers."
So the buyer, obviously offended, replied "How do you mean I am difficult? I am merely asking you when my item is arriving. I asked you for the tracking number awhile back and you did not reply."
The buyer did not respond. So the buyer went on and on about how the seller lacked professionalism and the seller's only reply was, an emoticon of a pig's snout. Not only did the seller not handle this professionally, she was also immature.
Remember, when handling other people's money (especially strangers), you have to be courteous, patient and above all, polite. Customers can be difficult, customers can harass you day and night but you as a seller need to maintain integrity. 
Once you open up your Facebook and Instagram to strangers so they can view your items, you are a public social media figure. You do not use those accounts to b*tch, scream and yell about others. 
All this said, there are a large number of very reputable online businesses. For instance, the people my Mama has purchased items from are always prompt and always available for any enquiries. A word of advice to those who are thinking of starting an online business, you need to hire help. You should have somebody who can ship items as many times possible in one day and you should have somebody who can reply your customers messages from 9am-5pm daily. 
Starting an online business sure sounds like an easy way to make money but like everything good in life, it is not as easy as you think. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

KLIA 2

A few weeks back, I posted on instagram photos of my Mama, my brother and myself shopping for groceries at KLIA 2. After that, I got a lot of whatsapp messages from friends asking "Why on earth were you buying frozen chicken from the new airport?"
Let me clarify. Firstly, my parents live in Kota Seriemas, Nilai. Now even though the official address says Nilai, Kota Seriemas is really near to the Sepang International Circuit, KLIA 2 and KLIA. For as long as they have been living there, they only shop for groceries at Mydin and Tesco. 
There is really nothing wrong with Mydin and Tesco, in fact both places have everything we need for our every day cooking. However, once in awhile when Papa and Mama have a craving for western dishes, we find it hard to search for western herbs and spices. 
So the moment I heard from Hafiz (my ex on air partner) that KLIA 2 has a Jaya Grocer, I immediately called Mama "OMG Ma, we have to make roast chicken. KLIA 2 has a Jaya Grocer!"
Mama "Jaya Grocer tu apa?" 
After a lengthy explanation, Mama agreed to check out Jaya Grocer in KLIA 2 with me. That weekend I went home to Nilai (I live in KL) and picked up my Mama and Amir (my annoying brother). 
Mama : Jaya Grocer tu apa? (I hope Mama does not read this post. She is going to lose it if she finds out I used this photo hahaha).
Finding a parking was easy. Even though the airport was full of people,(those flying off, those arriving and those who sebok want to shopping shopping like us) I think not many drove their cars. Yes, the parking fee is as expensive as KLIA. The moment you walk into the building from the carpark, you will enter Gateway @ KLIA 2, which is their mall. The mall has many eateries and shops (which I will tell you about shortly).
That day was the first day Air Asia started operating in KLIA 2. There were a lot of people who looked lost and unsure of where they should go to check in. Thankfully every where we turned, we saw an Ask Me person. 
These guys and gals had permanent smiles on their faces and were very friendly and warm. They pointed us towards Jaya Grocer.
This poyo guy is my brother, Amir. 
Jaya Grocer has a cafe inside surrounded by aisles of grocery items. Their frozen section has everything from chicken to beef to fish. Although their prices are slightly more expensive than in KL, I do not find them unreasonable. Anyway, it is not like we are planning to buy our everyday groceries from here. Only for those times when we need ingredients which are not sold at Tesco or Mydin (or Kedai Runcit Ali). 
After we got everything on our list, Mama wanted to rush home. But Amir wanted to look for The Loaf (Oh yeah, we are huge fanatics of The Loaf's Cranberry Cheese Scones). So Amir and I decided to drop Mama off at home and come back that night. 
We were told we could push our trolley to the car. Unfortunately we could not locate a trolley area at the carpark. Perhaps the management can look into this.
So that night, we came back to KLIA 2 and were greeted by a traffic jam!
We later found out this was because it was the first day of operations for Air Asia and a lot of flights were delayed.
After parking the car, we walked all over Gateway @ KLIA. The idea was to list down all the shops and eateries available so next time we want to buy something or eat a dish that is otherwise only available in KL, we could opt for KLIA 2 instead. Yes, they have a Guardian Pharmacy for my shopping pleasure. I mean, which girl does not love the pharmacy ey?
I did not enter Giordano, therefore I am not sure what their prices are like.
KLIA 2 has a large Toys'R'Us. Go go Power Rangers!
I did a mental comparison and I do think Toys'R'Us in One Utama has a bigger selection of toys.
Thor's wife was having a very bad hair day.
Gateway @ KLIA 2 is also home to Victoria's Secret, WHSmith, Jelly Bunny, Carlo Rino, Bonita and the list goes on and on. I believe more outlets will be opening soon.
We saw this sweet little cafe called Nanny's Pavillion but did not stop to dine. Might just try it out next time. We also found Chatime, Marrybrown, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Dome, O'Briens, KK Supermart (for whatever reason, Amir was really excited to see KK Supermart, padahal kat Nilai pun ada), KFC, Oldtown White Coffee, and the one we came for, The Loaf. Our favourite Abang who was previously the manager at The Loaf Empire is now the manager at The Loaf KLIA 2 (I told you we are fanatics). 
The Cranberry Cheese Scones are priced at RM3.90 each which is a vast difference from KL, where the scones are priced around RM3.00 - RM3.20. Later Mama told us "Hah RM3.90? Baik pegi Empire."
As we were walking back towards the car with bags full of The Loaf's Cranberry Cheese Scones, I came across my favourite Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks. I was as excited as Amir was when he saw KK Supermart. 
Gimme my XXL Crispy Chicken now!
Okay that was fast.
Again, everything served is slightly more expensive than in KL but if you think about it, driving from Nilai to KL for XXL Crispy Chicken will cost petrol and toll amounting to the same price paid for XXL Crispy Chicken eaten in KLIA 2. Yes? I say yes! Nom nom nom.
In conclusion, if you live in Nilai/Bandar Enstek/Sepang, visiting KLIA 2 for food once in awhile is pretty worth it. However, I doubt the same can be said for shopping. Having said that, I did not exactly check out the prices of shopping items so how about you let me know once you have seen for yourself. Thank you in advance.  


Friday, 16 May 2014

WHY?

A few days ago I read a heartbreaking story about a man who shot arrows into a dog that was barking outside his gate. Attached was a photo of the dog standing on the street with three arrows stuck to her body. As an animal lover, I could not take the heartbreak of looking at a helpless animal just standing there, emotionless, not complaining of pain, not crying, not able to articulate the hurt she was feeling physically.
Do you get where I am coming from? The man who shot the arrows claims he was just protecting his children but my question is, why couldn't he just spray the dog with a water hose? 
I know the exact reason why. 
I grew up in a community that taught me dogs are harmful animals that should not be touched or kept, due to our faith. What they failed to include was that dogs are just animals. They have no voice of their own and therefore humans should not be cruel to them, regardless of faith.
I used to be terrified of dogs. I thought every dog is vicious and are out to kill humans. I thought touching a dog would anger God. I thought I was supposed to be mean to dogs because they are evil. 
Fortunately I met a lot of animal lovers along the way and I learnt a great deal from these people. Yes, my faith teaches me that a dog's saliva is najis. It is dirty and you will have to cleanse yourself in a spiritual manner if you ever come in contact. Yes, my faith teaches me that I should not keep dogs, unless the intent is for them to guard the wellbeing of my house and its occupants. 
But never ever did my faith teach me to be cruel to dogs just because their saliva is dirty. Never did my faith teach me to harm dogs if they frightened me with their barks outside my gate. 
It is sad that the teachings have been misconstrued so badly to the point that people see dogs as evil beings that need to be eradicated at all costs. 
Of course, this fear of dogs also comes from stories of people being mauled to death by strays or house dogs which have not been properly leashed by their owners. But please, take the time to study dogs. Not all dogs attack for no reason. There are aggressive breeds and there are rabid dogs. Just as there are aggressive humans and crazy people who go around robbing and attacking old ladies (which is another regretful story which made the newspapers today). 
But please rationalize, why why WHY would you harm an ANIMAL which has no mind of its own just because it scares you. Dear man, (who shot the dog with arrows) if this country had stricter animal laws, you would be in jail right now, awaiting trial. You would go to jail or be given a hefty fine or both. 
However our animal laws are almost non-existent, therefore, please use your common sense. Please do not teach the young that it is okay to hurt these animals. No religion teaches its followers that it is alright to harm animals, be them dogs. 
By the way, the dog in question died today due to ticks. The vet concluded that the dog was malnourished and ill. She had been abandoned for a long time and the arrow incident further traumatized her. I cried when I read this in the newspaper today. 
I am not asking you to love dogs or hug them or let them lick you, I am simply asking you to have a heart. 

Best Japanese Food In Town

Have you ever been to Rakuzen? I started frequenting Rakuzen after seeing Hanie Hidayah's tweets about Rakuzen in Empire. That was about four years ago and I have never looked back.
Before Rakuzen, I used to eat at Kura, the Japanese restaurant in One World Hotel. Now I know, a lot of you might be thinking, "Ooooh kaya makan Japanese kat hotel. Cewah cewah." But let me tell you, you will be surprised at how reasonably priced the food is at Kura. 
In fact, Kura is owned by Super Dining, the same chain that owns Rakuzen, Zen, Hokkaido Ichiba and many more. They all have the same looking menu. I do believe Sushi Zanmai and Pasta Zanmai are under the same management also. Everything they serve is of high quality, prepared in a hygienic environment, and absolutely yummylicious.
Last year I had the privilege of visiting Tokyo and while in Asakusa, we dined at a proper Japanese restaurant (food is really expensive in Japan. Most of the time, we ate from bento boxes purchased at convenient stores). 
And based on that comparison, I dare say Rakuzen is the closest to the Japanese meal I had in Asakusa. Here are some photos of everything I have tried at Rakuzen over the years. I may not remember their names (I cannot even remember what I had for breakfast today) but I assure you, they are all yum yum for the tum tum. Sumpah, nok. Mak tak tipu!
This I remember. This is the Beef Teppanyaki set with garlic fried rice.
Tempura
Super fresh assortment of Sashimi
I do not remember what this is called but I am an absolute fan of soba. That might be the reason why I ordered this. I always order Zaru Soba on the side. Zaru Soba is basically cold buckwheat noodles served with a side of cold soup. If you opt for Tenzaru Soba, you will get a basket of Tempura on the side.
This is the Dragon Roll. A must have every time I visit Rakuzen. That is deep fried shrimp in the middle and a piece of avocado on top. HEAVENLY.
I am not a fan of Macha (Not the guy at the mamak stall, I am talking about the green tea ice cream) so I always order this for dessert. I forget what it is called but it is essentially vanilla ice cream wrapped in mochi skin, topped with whipped cream. I swear, this was sent down from the Japanese heavens above.
Okay I am getting hungry just looking at these old photos. I may just have dinner there tonight. Oh by the way, Rakuzen has many outlets. Rakuzen Subang Jaya (SS15 - My favourite outlet), Rakuzen Hartamas Shopping Centre, Rakuzen GTower, Rakuzen Desa Parkcity, Rakuzen Empire, Rakuzen Publika, Rakuzen Tropicana City Mall, Rakuzen Ara Damansara and Rakuzen Gurney Paragon Mall. 
If there is one thing I do not enjoy at Rakuzen, it would be the Fried Salmon Skin. The deep fried skin itself is wonderful and crunchy however they drizzle the dish with sweet soy sauce and I am not a fan of sweet savoury dishes. Everything else is wonderful.
If you have never been to Rakuzen before, you should start now.