Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

"I did the BERSIH thing for my babies." By Goh Siu Lin

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

My blog has been on hiatus for awhile but Siu Lin, the author, wrote this just this week and I felt that it really needs to be read as widely as possible. So I asked her permission to do so.

I've known Siu Lin and Wee Tee for years now and both of them graduated as lawyers, although only Siu Lin is practicing now. Wee Tee works with a luxury cosmetics brand and is very successful at her career which she enjoys very much.

Both are hard working, successful women who have very comfortable lives. This is the segment of society which perhaps has the most to lose if persecution occurs in any way, shape or form.

Ask yourself when you read this, why are middle class Malaysians who have so much to lose participating in PEACEFUL street demonstrations? They went into this with their eyes open, KNOWING they could get arrested (bail money is mentioned), KNOWING they could get gased, hurt, thrown in jail. That's a LOT to shoulder. Especially when you have a family with infants waiting for you to come home.

To think that they are communists is laughable. To think that they are agitators or agent provocateurs is ludicrous. C'mon. And to think that they are in the pay of a foreign government beggars belief.

More importantly, Siu Lin participated and wrote this because she's a mother. A mother who cares about the state of her country and with a mind to how she wants this country to grow so that her children can grow up in an equitable and just Malaysia.

I was moved to tears by this article which touched me very much and I am very, very proud of these two young ladies. And I know Allan and I are very proud to be their friends.

Sorry ah Siu Lin & Wee Tee, tumpang glam sikit! ;-)

"I did the BERSIH thing for my babies."

by Goh Siu Lin on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 9:02pm (Reproduced here by kind permission of the author.)

I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister and I happen to be a lawyer too.

Mine was a spontaneous decision to go to the rally.

Something struck a chord in me when I heard my senior partner tell stories of BERSIH 2007, of volunteer lawyers at remand hearings, on their feet, hours on end, tirelessly going through file after file before a Magistrate, till the wee hours of the morning. So, I decided to take the plunge, and give my support to BERSIH 2.0 by offering my legal skills.

The next hurdle was tougher, which team in the Bar Council should I sign up for? Urgent arrests? Monitoring? Both had its own risks. In the end, I signed up for both.

Monitoring needed us to be on the ground, near the people.. near the FRU.. near the POLICE... tear gas.. water cannons.. risk of racial riots, injury, arrest. Not to mention the Patriot, Perkasa and the Silat guys would be roaming free too. Didn't fancy bumping into any of them. My cha cha spins and dips would definitely not save me here!

Urgent Arrests had its own dangers as well... I worried about being thrown in jail indefinitely. Just like the 5 young legal aid lawyers. So, don't ever think that being a lawyer gives you a force-shield of immunity. Not in Malaysia! Read this if you don't know what I'm talking about: http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/general/lawyer_arrested_unbelievable.html

Still gung ho, I encouraged lawyers from my firm to volunteer and bouyed by the moral support, I attended briefings for both teams. I must commend the Legal Aid Centre team who had prepared us very well, they were great. The KL Bar Auditorium was jam-packed with young volunteer lawyers. Felt so proud of them all. When the director of the Legal Aid asked, "Why are you joining the urgent arrest team?" My answer was short, spontaneous and simple. It came from the heart. "For Malaysia!" my voice rang out and I was taken aback by the heavy applause. Wow. Everyone had the same sentiments!

The turnout for the Monitoring briefing the next day was smaller in comparison, about a third of the Urgent Arrest numbers. Many were first-timers. 75% comprised young members of the Bar. More than 50% were female! Isn't that great? Unfortunately, not many there looked like they could protect ME.

Attending the briefing didn't really give me additional comfort. The situation was still so tense and uncertain, BERSIH 2.0 had no venue, no permit, no nothing. So, it was difficult to plan our route in advance. I still remember one of the speakers saying, "If they shoot tear gas, just run for your lives." "Huh? That was it?? No safety tips?".

We were also warned, "Try not to get arrested." , psyching us mentally for a lawless kind of environment. "Great stuff." I murmured to myself.

We were taught what to do with the rock salts and vinegar/lemon. For the uninitiated, if you ever get tear gassed, suck on the rock salts, like you would a sweet, then spit it out. Please don't swallow or gobble it down like some people I know. Not wise at all. :). After that, whip out your lemon/vinegar cloth and cover your nose and mouth and inhale.

Friday night at home, I gathered my things, note pad, cloth, cap, water bottle, rock salts,extra change of clothes. I packed sandwiches and biscuits. The hours passed, I couldn't sleep, I was on tenterhooks. In the wee hours of the morning, 1.36 am, I received an SMS "Cops knocking on hotel room doors. Just give cooperation. They just under orders. Kesian jugak dia orang. Offer them some makan minum". My nervousness escalated.

I listened to the gentle breathing of my babies. I prayed silently in the quietness of the night, thinking of the many Malaysians here and far. I prayed to God for good governance, fair elections, an end to corruption, tyranny and oppression. I prayed for a united people. "May God keep the peoples of Malaysia safe and sane tomorrow."

I leaned down and smelt my baby's head and my daughter's hair. "I hope I will be around to put you both to bed tonight." was my immediate thought.

Saturday 5.30am. I felt so alert, ready to face the challenges ahead of me. My good friend, Wee Tee arrived at 6.30am and we set off to KL Hilton at Sentral to pick up another pal, Jane. There was no traffic. We sailed through Jalan Damansara, Jalan Semantan, passed Carcosa and ended up at Hilton Sentral all in 10 minutes. We headed towards KTM, I got down from the car and negotiated with police at the first barricade, got through. Felt exhilarated. Second barricade, also a breeze.. it was surreal driving towards Central Market. No other vehicle was in sight, it felt like a war zone. We parked at Central Market. The only civilian car there. To our right were the FRU trucks and police doing drills. "Hey, the parking attendant looked at us in admiration!" said Wee Tee, and we giggled conspiratorily, amazed that we had gotten so far. We made our way to Bar Council, and stopped by a mamak stall for nasi lemak. It was 8.35am. At the next table - plainclothes cops who seemed to be checking us out.

BC briefing at 10am. My colleagues and I began to feel fearful of what lay ahead, I think I must have gone to the ladies umpteen times. Another friend's face was white and tense as news streamed in of arrests, at that time, 238 detainees. Bail going rate was RM8,000.00 apparently.

My team set off at around noon, soon thereafter, I could hear the roar of the crowd, we turned back and there they were, a sea of people converged in a stand-off with the FRU at Leboh Pasar. "Ting! Ting!" Two warning bells. 3 rounds of tear-gas were released. My first taste of it. We ran away, choking. I could hardly open my eyes, my eyes were stinging, the skin on my face, smarting and itchy. As for my poor team-mate, he threw up by the roadside. It was then that our fear dissipated. We had a job to do.

The whole afternoon was action-packed, overhead helicoptors, cat and mouse games between the people and police. Thankfully, our team did not witness any serious incidents of police brutality. Although the FRU had moved from Central Market towards Kota Raya where the second round of tear-gas was shot into the crowd, this was neutralised by the heavy downpour. At this point, the police began to arrest people indiscriminately about 500 metres away from where we stood. We couldn't interfere. Our duties were to impartially record what was happening before our very eyes. I saw a young Indian boy, eyes wide-open in fear, a malay youth, his face wincing in pain as he was dragged to the nearby waiting Black Marias.

We moved on to Petaling Street, Wee Tee's shoes had given way in the rain, so we even managed to squeeze in a bout of shopping!! (Her favourite past-time!!) And I'll always remember this, we were there standing in an empty street, but when I turned round to look behind me, hundreds of people appeared out of nowhere, it was just like magic. Singing "Negaraku" in unison. Electrifying. Felt so emotional then. We were all united, 100% Malaysian.

This was followed by chants of "Hidup, Hidup, Hidup Rakyat". "Hancur BN" "Allah-hu-akhbar!". All peaceful and in a celebratory carnival atmosphere, people stopped to buy ice-cream from the ice-cream man who was doing roaring business.

I saw people of all colours. Chinese Ah Peks, Minahs from Kelantan, Indians, people of all walks of life. Mother's pushing their babies in strollers, a man holding up his crutch as if it was a mace. What amazed me most was the presence of the bespectacled middle class. They were here. Here with us. Here where it counts. When it counts. Wearing yellow. I cannot describe the feeling. Absolutely wonderful and positively beautiful. There and then, I had true hope. Hope for a better Malaysia for my babies.

Well, it's been 4 days since the BERSIH 2.0 rally, yet, I still get overwhelmed with emotion whenever I read BERSIH 2.0 media reports and the avalanche of first-hand heart-warming stories, videos etc etc. I grieve also on the passing of the late En. Baharuddin. My emotions turn on like a gushing tap. In fact, I was a weeping softly over lunchtime today, having just watched another BERSIH video, so I ended up being red-eyed just before having to meet some clients. :)

It was enriching personally. I learnt so much from the whole experience. I learnt how to conquer my fear. I saw Section 42 of the Legal Profession Act in action. I saw something magical happening to us all in BERSIH 2.0. We banished apathy. We took our citizenship seriously. We took our country seriously. We now take voting seriously.

Malaysia is our birthright and nobody can ever take that away from us.

I am writing this for my babies. What I did, I did for them, not as a lawyer, but as a mother.

Hiatus :-)

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Hi all

I just noticed that the time has flown in between my last blog and this one. And it's not fair to those who do check in for me to keep them hanging. I'm going to take a hiatus for now as time just doesn't permit and something has to give. I plan to be spending more time on Twitter now so do follow me on @nigelskelchy

Thanks very much for being so supportive in the past.

Best regards

(Not Halal) Dragon-I, The Curve, an invited review for their Hairy Crab Promotion

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

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"What are you doing for lunch on Saturday?" chirps her madge! (Yes I know, "Her Madge" is used to describe some OTHER celebrity, but while I LURVE THAT "madgesty" in all her incarnations, this one is someone I actually know and she is the Queen of DSLRs)

"Nothing...I think" waiting with bated breath to be invited to some scintillating soiree. Her "Madgesty" did not disappoint. "Would you like to go to Dragon-I as my date for an invited restaurant review?"

Would YOU say no? Of course not!

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At 1140am on Saturday (just a little late) as I lug my laptop tote with me, not wanting to leave it in the car, I trundle into Dragon-I and am greeted cheerfully by Kong Wai Keong, the Public Relations(PR) consultant for Dragon-I restaurants.

A word about Dragon-I restaurants from a layman's point of view. I'm not certain what their PR blurb states but they look like a place which caters to a diverse family oriented group. Kong mentioned that the word is "affordable luxury" when designing the hairy crab menu. Something which seems to be a bit of a catchphrase with many establishments these days. At RM128 nett per person (min of 3 persons), I'm not certain if that's on the more "luxurious" side of "affordable." Especially in this day and age when spending is still verging on the careful. As a comparison, Chef Max at IHaus, serves a 5 course menu which includes Black Cod and Wagyu Beef at RM120+(yes, the single Plus is deliberate).

Having said that, the ambiance in Dragon-I is contemporary oriental and the mini terracotta warriors bring a touch of the ancient to the 21st century family restaurant. I liked it.

We started with a Double Boiled Superior Chicken soup which uses a highly prized chinese ingredient of "yue piu" or the fish bladder. It just doesn't sound as good in English. The soup also had bamboo pith in it which provides a lovely textural crunch against the backdrop of sweet and savoury broth. A broth should provide some bite to show that bones AND meat have gone into its making. That bite is the slight gelatinous edge from the melted collagen that all good broths have. It shouldn't just be watery. And this was a very good example of a Double Boiled soup. There tasted like there was enough, as the cantonese put it, "breath of wok" in it.

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The jade green "siew pak choy" with the crab "sauce", while nice was forgettable. This is not necessarily a bad thing. At the end of the day, a lunch/dinner about Hairy Crabs should be about, well, the Hairy Crabs and not everything else.

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Shanghainese Dumplings with crabmeat and roe was served beautifully in their own little carryalls. Along with the exquisitely julienned pieces of ginger in dark chinese vinegar, I felt that presentation, in Dragon-I plays a large part in it's appeal. As they say, you eat with your eyes first. The skin was a little thicker than I would have liked but the soup inside was warm (which I liked) as opposed to the usual scaldingly hot, and the little roe on top was a nice savoury counterpoint. Ciki loved her dumpling with LOADS of cilipadi.

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The "yong chow" fried rice was decently done and as mentioned to Kong, I was not overly fond of the prawns being dipped in bicarb of soda. It leeches out flavour and leaves you with one bouncy prawn. Having said that the rice grains were distinct and fluffy with sufficient bite. Its tough to get Fried Rice wrong but this one ran middle of the pack.

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The star of the show was really put on display when the captain came over, snapped on some rubber gloves and promptly began dismembering one of the hirsute crustaceans. It was all very deftly and cleverly done and at the end they rearranged it all on the plate like the little bugger had never died. Which if you've noticed, is such a different aesthetic to western cuisine. Everything in Eastern cuisine is all about freshness and maintaining the look of the critter even unto serving on a plate. The crab, as you can see, looks like the crab. Western cuisine however, is vastly different in it's aesthetic sense and can range from verite to nouveau and even art deco/Jackson Pollack. Sometimes one wonders how the western sensibility drifted from the true-to-nature to the disfigured/molded/cut/shaped aesthetic that we have today. Remember the roast pig with the apple in it's mouth?

Furthermore, there are analysts' reports written about Hong Kong's economy being on the mend because of the booming sales of Hairy Crabs. Quite amazing that a little critter like that could be a bellweather for an asian economy.
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On to the important bits. What does a hairy crab taste like? Well, like a crab. I am told that connoiseurs of this particular crustacean value it for the "roe" in the body. The meat is sweet but generally this isn't a meat crab as it is quite small. What there is of it is tasty, firm and flaky, but it's still crab. The roe on the other hand is quite special I am told. Did I mention the meat tastes like crab? The roe, though, is unctuous, very rich, fragrant in a crabby way, and definitely leaving quite an aftertaste on your tongue. It's debatable whether it's actually roe as in egg or roe as in crab sperm, as this roe is generally found in abundance in male crabs. I'm inclined to believe it's the latter. But believe whichever makes you feel more comfortable as you suck the body dry. The jury is out on whether I liked it. But it was definitely an experience.
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Dessert was predictably my favourite bit. I love Tong Yuen. I've never met a glutinous rice ball stuffed with a sweet, savoury, sesame (say that fast 5 times) filling I never liked. Especially in a ginger tea. As I wondered how to take the best picture of my smooth, glossy balls, FBB very kindly offered to help me hold mine. I felt I needed to return the gesture and he in turn again, very sweetly held kampungboy's while he did the needful. All very giving. Unfortunately, Ms Lyrical Lemongrass, her madge, had to hold her own. Yes, she got a pair too.

There were many food bloggers/floggers in attendance. Kyspeaks, kampungboycitygal, cumidanciki, her madge, and of course Fatboybakes, to name a few.
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Waiter Service was exemplary. And since this is not the first time I've been, I can safely say it is something that has been consistent in my experience. Also, I've had some very decent food at Dragon-I restaurants before. I absolutely adore their salted egg custard buns. As to whether or not at RM128 nett per person (min of 3 persons), is worth your while only you can judge. I personally felt that the menu was rather prosaic for that price. Having said that, everything was beautifully presented, and the show of having your hairy crab presented to you, very interesting. To a certain extent, you are paying for the experience as well as the food. So keep that in mind when choosing to spend your dollar here. The Hairy Crab promotion is on now. Thank you very much Dragon I and Kong Wai Keong of PR Kraft for having me.

Dragon-I Restaurant
The Curve
LLot 136 & 137, 1st Floor

Octoberfestavali (Coined by Cheng Yi) 2009

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Octoberfestavali, a most appropriate Malaysian celebration, combines Octoberfest (where Germans' drink) and Deepavali, which of course, the Hindus in our community have just celebrated; a triumph of good over evil. And with apologies to our Hindu brethren, we felt that alcohol is always a good cleanser especially when you consume copious amounts of the good spirits...of single malt. To that end, FBB organises a party to end all parties. A party that will go down in the annals (please don't twist that word FBB) of flogger history, at least in our own little corner of Flogdom, as one of the most hip and happening dos that we've ever had.

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It turned out that it was Frat Mustard's birthday as well. An occasion he had celebrated over the weekend (with tequila) even before he got to the official Octoberfestavali do. Nothing a little hair of the dog didn't cure. Although, his ever enduring wife, Mrs Frat Mustard seemed to be quite understanding of the hijinx hubby got up to. It was also an honour to met Mrs Frat for the first time. I was beginning to think he deliberately hid her from us. ;-) Frat, please bring Mrs Frat for all future dos.

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FBB, Jun of Cordon Bleu-Rousillon-St Pierre fame, and Joe, who very generously brought along some great "chi pau kei", provided the food and some of the best Chicken Pie I've ever had. Flaky puff pastry, creamy filling filled with chunks of chicken.

FBB also made a great cake he named specially for Frat. Filled with cream and little seeds of passion fruit, not surprisingly called Jack Off Pavlova. Nangka, passion fruit and cream is truly a combination from the mind of a passionate genius. There were LOTS of little seeds. Considering Frat has twins, I thought it was rather appropo.

My Allan also brought a lovely test cake. I hope I will soon be able to put that up on my Just Heavenly Menu. We're thinking of calling it Chocolate Threesome or Chocolate Trilogy. Although for obvious reasons, the former would be certain to tickle peoples' fancy more. A layer of Chocolate Souffle Cake eaten cold (so it's slightly fudgy), a layer of chocolate mousse, and topped with a layer of white chocolate mousse. Ummm...nothing like Chocolate smeared all over your tongue and over your tastebuds and down your throat. It certainly starts making you ooze all sorts of endorphins.

The food and/or occasions that we find to have parties are really more excuses to gather with a group of crazy, loving, generous souls who revel in each others' company and just generally have a whale of a time when they breathe the same air. We laugh, mostly. Drink, a lot. And then promptly do it again the very next time an opportunity presents itself. Food blogging has never been more fun.


Especially, when it's really about the people.

Bangkok - from the mundane to the sublime

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Roll 1043We indulged in the whole spectrum.

From Pizza in a chain restaurant all the way to Royal Thai.Roll 1044

From Grasshopper street food to Ruen Mallika.

And Pad Thai in a "Thai Gourmet" place (very ordinary) in Emporium Mall to Jim Thompson's Restaurant on the river.

And of course, the obligatory Sticky Rice with Mango, which, when all was said and done, was disappointing. The best I'd ever had was from a street vendor in Phuket many years ago in a different life. The sticky rice was soft, but chewy, and creamy with that coconutty flavour and the mango was perfectly ripe. Sweet. Succulent. Sigh.

MK Restaurants provides a great, healthy hotpot but this hotpot can be found anywhere in Asia. The only differentiating thing was the unctuous sauce. But even then you know it wasn't authentic Thai Roll 1045but had Thai accents. Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet.Roll 1046

The cakes in the higher end malls were surprisingly good if surprisingly expensive. Take away counters abounded, even our own Secret Recipe was there. But prices ranged from RM7.50 to RM12. And this for take away joints. Sit in and you could comfortably add another 20% to 30% to that.Roll 1047

If there is one thing I absolutely must do when I'm in Bangkok (besides scoping out for fresh sites to see) it's the pandan coconut that you can pick up from a street vendor for 20Baht or RM2. Divine. Slightly smoked. Ice cold. On a hot Bangkok day, it's the closest thing to standing under a cool, cascading, waterfall.

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Ruen Mallika
189 Sukhumvit Soi 22, Bangkok 10110

MK Restaurants
They're all over. We went to the one in MBK

The Pizza Company
Also all over Bangkok

The Emporium Bangkok
A High end shopping mall which has a decent food court and desserts

Voting for Nuffnang Awards now over

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Thanks for all who participated in the recently concluded Nuffnang Awards. Results will be announced on Friday 23 October 2009. I'm sort of assuming the results will be listed on Nuffnang's award website.

Fingers crossed for Lyrical Lemongrass and her blog A Whiff Of Lemongrass!

All the best Ms L!

Vote for www.awhiffoflemongrass.com for BEST FOOD BLOG

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

We're in the home stretch.

Alilfatmonkey, who's neither little, nor fat, created the badge you see on the left.

Nuffnang is closing the voting on 11 October. So as of today, we have less than 2 days left to vote for the BEST FOOD BLOG for the Region.

I thoroughly believe that Lyrical Lemongrass deserves the nod.

Yes, she's a friend. But if you read her blog you will know that she's passionate about her subject, is honest yet diplomatic, and has a hunky hubby! ;-)

What more could you ask for? So go to http://awards.nuffnang.com/votes.php and vote for an original!

Ensure you vote for ALL the categories. Or your vote won't be counted.