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To All The Restaurants I’ve Loved Before

Food memories are powerful. They’re often associated with feelings of warmth and comfort, which is why we tend to miss the flavours we grew up with: not always because of the dishes per se, but the emotions that we associate with them. For some, it can be the memory of waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread; for others, it might be the happiness they feel over a Christmas dinner, surrounded by family and friends.

In Malaysia, where food is an inherent part of our DNA, the pandemic has changed the landscape forever. Gone are the days where we could go catch a football game at the local mamak stall, guzzling cups of teh tarik kurang manis while cheering in unison with the crowd whenever a team scored a goal. No longer can we swing by the Burger Ramly stall at 2AM for a pick-me-up after a night of clubbing. Dimsum mornings with the family — where you excitedly pick from a pushcart of towering baskets stacked with goodies — are a thing of the past. Now it’s takeaways delivered to your doorstep: and while the food might still taste the same, it feels like someone has taken all the ‘flavour’ out of it.

Things have been extremely challenging for small and medium businesses these past two years. I’m talking about the hawkers at the kopitiams and small neighbourhood restos, who rely on customers to come physically to the store, and whose meagre profits aren’t enough to cover the added cost of middlemen delivery services. Even some bigger establishments have had to shut down, and it’s honestly heartbreaking, because all of these places have created beautiful food memories for me, at different points of my life. There will be more casualties before this pandemic blows over, but in the meantime, I’d like to pay ‘tribute’ to all the wonderful memories, and delicious dishes.

MARUFUKU UDON, JAYA ONE, PJ

This was one of my favourite haunts for lunch breaks and sometimes a relaxing dinner, back when I still worked in PJ. Whenever I felt stressed out at work and needed a pick-me-up, I’d hit up their tasty and affordable udon bowls, paired with a side of ice green tea and juicy deep fried chicken karaage.

My regular order of beef udon with egg.

The server knew me so well he could anticipate my order (I almost always ordered the same thing lol, so sometimes he’d ask “usual?”) but he’d wait for me to write it down anyway because there would be occasions where I’d try something new.

YOSHINOYA/HANAMARU UDON, MID VALLEY KL

If it’s not already clear, I’m a big fan of udon, and while I don’t go to Mid Valley often (parking is a nightmare), I make a point to drop by Hanamaru Udon (they share the space with beef bowl chain Yoshinoya) whenever I’m at the mall. I even introduced it to my good friend/ex-colleague, coz we used to have events at the Mid Valley Convention Centre, and Hanamaru Udon was located just across from it. It was also one of the ‘cheaper’ options for dining. It has been a long time since I’ve been to KL at all due to travel restrictions (even though KL is only about 30 minutes from where I live!), so it’s sad that I never got to eat this one last time.

The place was no-frills, more canteen-like than high-end Japanese resto, so you could casually pop in for a quick meal. I also liked the seamless process — you ordered your udon bowl at one end of the counter, selected the fried goodies to pair with your meal, then paid at the cashier. Green tea was free flow.

I usually got the ontama bukakke (ps: bukakke means ‘to pour/splash’ so get your mind out of the gutter), which came with a slice of lemon, grated radish and spring onions, with a little dashi broth. The chicken karaage was sold by skewer, and sometimes I’d get some fried ebi (shrimp) as well.

CAPITOL SATAY

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Capitol Satay is an iconic part of the Melaka food scene, having been around for over 30 years. Check any travel itinerary and chances are the resto would be on the list, thanks to their unique version of satay celup (satay cooked in boiling peanut sauce), which you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. But due to the nature of the dishes they serve (like steamboat, requires on-the-spot cooking) I would imagine it has been difficult for them to sustain the business.

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I came here for the first time with the Hubs in early 2020, when we did a story on Melaka for the magazine I worked at. It’s a shame it was also our last visit.

RASA FOOD ARENA KLCC

Food in the city centre can be expensive, which is why Rasa Food Arena (along with Signatures) was the go-to place for my college-student self, whenever I wanted to hangout in KLCC but couldn’t afford pricey restos and cafes. Here you would find Malaysian hawker fare, such as chicken rice, claypot noodles, char kuey teow and the like served in a more upscale setting.

To be candid, there wasn’t a particular dish here that I’d designate as ‘wow!’, but I still have fond memories of hanging out here with my college friends over some drinks and snacks. There were also times I’d sit here to people watch while waiting for my ex-boyfriend to finish his classes (my ex and I went to the same college but were in different courses; we’d wait for each other so we could ride the train/bus back to our city together. Ah, young love.)

COLISEUM CAFE

With over 100 years of history, Coliseum Cafe along Jalan TAR in Kuala Lumpur has seen it all — World War II, colonial rule, Malayan independence, the formation of Malaysia. Unfortunately, a pandemic was too much for it to weather, and the outlet shuttered its doors in June.

Photo: Coliseum Cafe

I remember coming here as a child with my parents — they still hired old timers back then instead of foreign workers — and I was fascinated by the restaurant’s old decor and vibe. It was like stepping into a time capsule, and you could almost imagine how the British officers would come by for Fish and Chips, Sizzling Lamb Chops and a beer or two.

There are probably more restaurants and eateries that I haven’t been back to that have shut down due to the pandemic, and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to support them one last time.

Perhaps one day, if they reopen or start up new F&B businesses, I’ll be able to taste their dishes again — and create new memories.

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Celebrating Chinese New Year In The Middle Of A Pandemic

Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year, is set to fall on 12 February this year. It marks the beginning of a new year according to the traditional lunar calendar, and heralds the arrival of spring. 

Here in Malaysia, Chinese New Year is a pretty big thing, since people of Chinese descent make up more than 20% of the population (about 6 million people). If this was any other year, CNY decor in malls would have already been up right after Christmas. There’d be cookie displays flooding bakery shelves; Padini/Uniqlo would be packed with shoppers buying new clothes on sale, and we’d all be subjected to the torture of loud, repetitive dong dong chiang music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week across all TV and radio channels. 

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Unfortunately, we are in the middle of a pandemic – and like all the other people who made sacrifices last year for Christmas, Deepavali and Hari Raya, it is now our turn to give up the freedom that we often take for granted: the ability to travel home to see our loved ones.

On 13 January 2021, the Malaysian government implemented a second targeted Movement Control Order (MCO), restricting travel to and from red zone states. Workers in non-essential services are required to work from home, travel is restricted to a 10 kilometre radius to buy groceries and essentials, and eateries are only allowed to run on a take-away/delivery basis. Of course, celebrations of any kind are no longer allowed, as are things like weddings and other events. (Adding to the whole hullabaloo is the national Emergency which was declared by our King because of political in-fighting, but that’s for another entry lol.) 

The last time we had an MCO was back in March 2020, and it lasted for two months. Although the current MCO has only been announced for the next two weeks, many people are foreseeing an extension, at least for a further two weeks. With thousands of cases daily in Malaysia (at the time of this writing, there have been over 100 deaths in the last two weeks), most (sane) people understand that this is necessary to break the infection chain and ensure public health and safety. 

Since no events are allowed and travel is restricted, many of us will have to make do with a quiet celebration at home this year. While we won’t be able to observe certain traditions, I think that technology has allowed us to adapt (and innovate) in ways that would not have been possible 20 or 30 years ago – and we can use that to make CNY 2021 a memorable one. 

Reunion Dinner 

The reunion dinner on the eve of CNY is an integral part of CNY celebrations – some even consider it to be even more important than New Year’s Day.Traditionally, it’s when everyone gathers to feast and wish for a prosperous year ahead, whilst enjoying dishes with auspicious meanings (usually fish, pork, prawn and chicken – since back in the days meat was difficult to come by and would only be eaten on special occasions).

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Fam reunion dinner from 2018

The food for reunion dinners used to be prepared at home by the women folk. More than just preparing a meal, it was a way for people to bond. When my grandparents were still alive, the kitchen on CNY eve was a battlefield, and my grandma commandeered it like a general: slicing, dicing and supervising her helpers (my aunties). I kind of missed that after she passed away. In the last few years, eating out has become a trend, since nobody wants to go through the hassle of cooking and washing up for 20 people. Now that there are once again dine-in restrictions at restaurants, perhaps it’s time we went back to the drawing board and rediscover what it means to cook, and eat, together. 

For those who aren’t able to attend the reunion dinner night, I think it would be a good idea to set up some sort of Skype or Zoom call with family, so that you’d still be able to ‘eat’ together –  sort of like what I did with the hubs for our anniversary last year. It won’t replace being there in person, but in these unprecedented times, we have to make do with what we can – and it will hopefully stave off some of the loneliness that people who live away from home will undoubtedly feel during the festive season. 

Ang Pau Mali

Another tradition synonymous with CNY is the giving of red packets (ang pau) containing money to unmarried members of the family. As a kid, I was always super excited to receive ang paus (RM100 was a lot of money for a kid in the 90s). Funny thing though: at the end of each visit, the money would go to my mom, who’d keep it for ‘investment’…. And I’d never see it again lol. (Just kidding, I love you mom.) 

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Now that I’m married, I’ll no longer be on the receiving end, sadly. Under normal circumstances, it’s understandable not to give an angpau if you’re not visiting a particular relative. Unfortunately for married folk, the emergence of e-wallet apps and e-angpaus means that some of us won’t be able to wriggle out of it with the in absentia excuse: your nephews and nieces will probably say, “Aiya auntie, send it through e-angpau lah!” 

In With The New 

People usually buy new things for CNY (especially clothes), as it signifies a fresh start. Many clothing retailers are not able to open their brick and mortar shops, so more have gone online to provide for their customers. You can also find nice clothes on platforms like Shopee and Lazada for super cheap.

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There are pros and cons to shopping online. While it’s certainly more convenient and safer (no hour-long queue to get into the changing room, no fighting with another auntie for the same shirt you both have your eyes on at the sale rack), it can also be challenging for people with unusual body shapes/sizes, since they can’t see or feel the material/ cutting prior to their purchase. (Like yours truly. I have huge… shoulders. winkwink.) If you’re going to buy stuff online, best do it early to avoid disappointment, in case your item comes late in the mail. 

Chinese New Year foods in Malaysia

*Photo: evelynquek, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Buying gift hampers for associates, or cookies / treats for friends and family is another long standing CNY practice, and again, online shopping makes it convenient to have your items shipped directly to the doorstep of your recipient. As for treats for personal consumption, if you have the time, it might be a good idea to try your hand at baking/making your own. If you’re enterprising, you can even make a larger batch to sell and earn some extra money on the side. 

Cleaning / Decorating the House

People often underestimate the importance of decorating one’s personal space to elevate the mood. I believe it’s crucial; not to show off, but to re-centre yourself and your frame of mind. It’s one of the reasons why I wear office clothes even while working from home, because it kicks my mind into ‘work mode’. Lounging in pyjamas all day is comfy, but it also makes me more inclined to go roll around on the bed every 10 minutes. Similarly, just because no one is visiting for CNY doesn’t mean your house shouldn’t be clean and tidy.  

Unfortunately, technology has not yet evolved to the point where I’m able to kick back with a nice cup of coffee and a book, while my robot assistant does everything for me. So, manual labour it is.

CNY in 2021 will certainly be different, but if you put it into perspective, it’s not all doom and gloom. Traditions are meant to be kept and preserved, but if that isn’t possible due to circumstances beyond our control, then perhaps it’s time to innovate some new traditions. 

That being said, McD’s Prosperity Burger is back on the menu. 

Some things just never change. 

If you enjoyed reading this post, consider giving me a figurative angpau. Contrary to popular belief, I do not make big moolah from writing – and this will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!

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Cinemas And Spas Are Open Again! Theme Parks to Follow On July 4

Hey guys!

We’ve officially entered the second half of the year. I don’t know about you, but I think the first half of the year was shite. Bushfires in Australia, COVID, social unrest in the States… I wouldn’t be surprised if an alien invasion is next on the agenda lol.

Malaysia has not gone unscathed. The economy has taken a hit, businesses have closed and people have lost their jobs. The one good thing is that we seem to have controlled the spread of the virus for now. By and large, the government’s measures have proven effective, and although we had over 8,000 confirmed cases, mortality was relatively low (121 deaths).

In the middle of June, the government announced that the country is entering a ‘Recovery’ phase. Since then, almost all sectors have returned to full capacity (but this means the traffic jams are back too, boooo). Non-essential services such as spas and cinemas have also reopened on July 1, and theme parks will resume operations on July 4.

Some of these businesses are also implementing safety measures to minimise the risk of transmission, which I laud. For example, Sunway Lagoon, one of Malaysia’s premiere theme parks, will only be allowing a 50 percent guest capacity for better crowd control. There will also be adequate distancing on rides and regular sanitisation of surfaces.

 

Cinemas are finally open to cater to another favourite Malaysian past time – watching movies.

While it’s great to hear that businesses are back on track (since this means the economy can recover!), I think it’s important to remember that COVID isn’t going away anytime soon, and we must stay vigilant. We certainly don’t want a theme park or cinema cluster. I know people (myself included) tend to have a tendency to return to old habits, but we must all adapt to a new way of life – one that includes things like being aware of social distancing and maintaining high standards of hygiene. At the end of the day, if you are still worried about going out for non-essential services such as shopping / entertainment, there’s always the option of staying home. 🙂

 

Domestic Travel Is Allowed Again in Malaysia

Late last year, Malaysia announced this huge Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign, aimed at drawing international and regional tourists to the country. This had to take a backseat due to the coronavirus pandemic, which decimated the tourism industry. Empty hotel rooms and high costs resulted in the closure of several prominent hotels, including Four Points Sandakan, G Tower Kuala Lumpur, Parkroyal KL and Ramada Plaza Melaka.

While I laud the efforts of the Tourism Ministry, the tagline is just plain stupid. Sorry. lol.

Our Prime Minister recently announced that Malaysia is ready to go into the ‘recovery’ phase, and a lot of rules have been relaxed – chief among them that interstate travel is finally allowed (it was previously banned during the Movement Control Order, which started on March 18). While international travel is still off-limits, domestic tourism is encouraged to help revive the economy.

While domestic travel to revive the economy is a good measure (the number of unemployed has already reached 600,000, and the rate is expected to go up to 5.5 pc – the highest in a decade) I do hope that people realise that this coronavirus thing isn’t going away anytime soon, so they should still practice caution even if they’re on a holiday, because we don’t want another wave of infections. Personally, I’m waiting until I feel safer to do so.

In line with the government’s call to promote domestic tourism, Tourism Malaysia released a promotional video on their Youtube channel, which I think was originally slotted for earlier but they can only do it now after the PM’s announcement. Kudos to the team as well as their creative agency, as I think it is really cool and highlights the amazing things that our country has to offer.

Dubbed ‘Discover Breathtaking Malaysia’, the video has a fun and engaging vibe that is aimed at the younger Insta-travel generation, so it’s quite different from the usual promo vids that we’ve been getting for decades, lol. It also won Silver at the Telly Awards 2020 for the Travel/Tourism category, beating 12,000 other entries. Some have been hating on the vid saying that it doesn’t embody the essence of Malaysia due to the K-pop-esque music, but I think it works for the audience it is intended for, and you can’t be a dinosaur yelling ‘tradition!’ all the time when the world is leaving you behind.

Are you ready to travel again? Which place are you intending to travel to once travel restrictions are lifted? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below! 🙂

Are Shops Actually Observing SOPs? – An Ordinary Malaysian’s Observations

On May 4, after close to two months under a strict movement control order, the Malaysian government started lifting restrictions, allowing for most businesses to resume their operations –provided they follow strict ‘SOPs’ (standard operating procedures). They’ve also called for people to observe social distancing and practice good hygiene.

Some parties (and medical experts) have decried the move as premature, since the number of daily cases are still at the time of this writing in the double digits. With the upcoming Hari Raya celebrations, there is fear of a second wave of infections, which might be worse than the last.

This has not been helped by the indecisive policies and often rushed announcements that are clearly not thought through, as well as conflicting statements from different ministries – which has caused even more confusion among businesses and the public.

For example, our health DG has asked everyone to wear face masks to reduce the probability of transmitting/contracting the disease. On the other hand, our Senior Minister has said that businesses are not allowed to turn customers away if they choose not to wear face masks . Also, interstate travel isn’t allowed to avoid people travelling back to their hometowns during the festive season, BUT up to 20 people are allowed to visit relatives on the first day of Hari Raya (provided they don’t travel between states). Idk about you, but 20 people still sounds like a mass gathering to me – and a comment on FB sums it up best:  “Apparently the virus needs to take a holiday too so they’ll be like ‘oh it’s the first day of Raya, let’s take a break from infecting people'”.

The constant call from the gov is to ‘adhere to SOPs’, but nothing much has been put into place to ensure this is enforced. To put it more accurately, it is IMPOSSIBLE to enforce due to the lack of manpower. People are inherently undisciplined (just look at the United States) and without strict enforcement, you cannot rely on them to police themselves. Already, over 1,000 vehicles tried their luck at travelling interstate to ‘go back to their hometowns’ despite knowing it was a clear violation and were turned back at the border. And these are just the ones the police managed to stop. How many more slipped through the cracks, we’ll never know.

But hey, I’m just an ordinary person going about my daily life – so let’s see how many places are actually adhering to the ‘SOPs’.

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Task: Buy lunch

Venue: Soon Lok, Bandar Puteri Puchong

To avoid going out and to minimise the risk of outside contact, the fam and I have been cooking most of our meals at home – but in the last two weeks we’ve gone out once or twice for takeaway. Went to Soon Lok, which has always been my preferred place for roasties (roast duck, chicken and pork). They’ve expanded some of their offerings to include convenient ready-packed meals, kuih and drinks. The resto is not yet open for dine-in, and there weren’t many customers during my visit.

  • Red strips of tape outside the shop indicated where customers are supposed to queue.
  • Most customers followed the rules and waited for their turn.
  • Staff followed good hygienic practices and wore face masks and gloves.
  • After placing an order, the staff gave me a number placard and I collected the order when the number was called.
  • The display area can be a bit problematic, as some customers move to the front to see what’s on display and ignore the line. When calling out an uncle for not lining up, he said “I’m just looking” but he was clearly too close for comfort.

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Task: Buy vegetables and groceries

Venue: 3 Onions, Bandar Puteri Puchong

3 Onions is a fresh grocer / convenience store that sells vegetables and daily goods. I took the mom out for our weekly grocery run, and she popped in while I waited in the car. While I didn’t go in, I could clearly see from the outside that NO SOPs were followed.

  • ‘Desk’ at front where customers are supposed to leave their names and phone numbers for tracking purposes was completely ignored by everyone who went in because it was hard to see. Even the Mom went in straight. I asked her later if she saw the table and she said she didn’t. Most other shops have an attendant to ensure that you fill in the details, this shop didn’t.
  • No crowd control. Customers waltzed in and out freely.
  • No temperatures were taken.
  • Mom reported that the shop was packed, and there was no social distancing whatsoever.

We were supposed to go to another store to buy groceries, but the line stretched almost the whole block so we went to 3 Onions instead. In retrospect, if you aren’t rushed for time, then go to a shop with better crowd control, even if you have to wait in line.

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Task: Buy bread for breakfast

Venue: Berry’s Cake House, Puchong Batu 14

This is the closest decent bakery near my place, so we usually come here for bread and pastries.

  • Excellent crowd control. Staff is stationed at the entrance to ensure that only five customers are allowed into the shop at any time.
  • Temperature is taken at the front door and the staff ensures you sanitise your hands.
  • Clear demarcation where you’re supposed to line up. Good flow despite the small space.
  • Customers write down their name and phone number at the counter during check out. Although they don’t seem to have the SeLANGKAH QR Code so everything has to be written down manually.

So out of the three places I visited, one adhered strictly to SOPs, one could do with improvement, and one did not follow the SOPs at all.

I understand that it’s going to be difficult for the authorities to investigate all complaints and enforce the rules – which is why it’s imperative for us to be smart consumers and protect ourselves. Here are some things my fam and I adopt that I think can be helpful:

A) Shop on Weekdays

If you’re working from home or don’t have to go to the office every day, try to do your grocery runs on weekdays. Since many companies are now up and running again, people have gone back to doing their marketing on weekends, resulting in massive traffic (and human) congestion. I currently go to work on a rotational basis (2 days in the office, 3 working from home), so this has given me the flexibility to go out grocery shopping on weekdays. But for those who don’t have that option:

B) Shop Online 

With many people opting for delivery services, getting a delivery slot might prove difficult – so self pickup may be an option. Some major supermarkets such as AEON Big offer ‘drive-through’ services whereby you place an order and they’ll have your things ready at a specific time; all you need to do is pick it up.

C) Go to Supermarkets 

Some people prefer going to wet markets because produce is apparently fresher and cheaper – but many wet markets have poor control and poor hygiene (case in point: The PJ Old Town Wet Market and the Selayang Market were both fenced off after they were identify as coronavirus infection hubs). Major supermarkets have better crowd control and also better hygiene, so if you’re really concerned about safety and health then you might have to consider sacrificing ‘freshness and variety’. Personal opinion: I also think that the crowd is less rowdy in supermarkets – have you tried jostling with loud-mouthed aunties trying to snatch up the best shrimp (pre-coronavirus)? Well, these same aunties have NOT adapted to a new normal, lol.

D) If they won’t distance themselves, distance YOURSELF 

People cutting queues is a pet peeve of mine. Unfortunately, we have a lot of uncouth peasants running around who don’t know what queueing up is, and they will attempt to jostle to the front in a bid to get what they want faster than everyone else. Depending on the situation, I will usually tell them (politely first, of course!) queue up, or advise them that even if they’re ‘just looking’, they need to observe social distancing.

BUT I’ve also met people who get really defensive and rude when you tell them nicely, so if you don’t want to cause a scene, then distance yourself and let them rejoice in their hollow victory.

How are social distancing measures being adopted in your area? Are people following SOPs? Let me know in the comments section below. Til then, stay safe !

Day 1 Of A New Normal – Returning to Work Post-MCO in Malaysia

If you wanted to sweat the deets, then we’re technically still under a movement control order until May 12. But I’m calling it Post-MCO because all businesses (except close contact ones like spas and hair salons) have already been allowed to reopen on May 4.

At my workplace, we’re currently doing rotational shifts where we go into the office twice a week on different days. I’ve gotten used to working from home, so it feels a little weird to be driving to work again after so long. Granted, the traffic was pretty smooth, so I guess not all businesses are running yet. Schools definitely aren’t.

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At the lift, signs of the new normal are already in place. The building management also posted guards at the lobby, where they took temperatures, jotted down names and check-in times, and prepped hand sanitisers. Almost everyone I see is wearing a face mask.

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I worked on an article for a bit, then got too distracted because my colleagues were busy cleaning out their desks (we’re moving to a new office soon). So I decided to clean out my own desk. I’ve been putting it off because there’s just too much shit to be sorted, but I finally managed to get it all done. Hooray!

I also found this note from when my company organised a DiSC training to determine our working styles and discuss how best to work with each other. The DiSC test is often used by employers to assess workers and potential employees. Mine is a high C (conscientiousness). People who fall into C types are analytical, systematic, detailed, independent and make decisions based on objective reasoning. We are also afraid of being wrong, which is why I like to have as much detail as possible before embarking on a project. I find it difficult to work with I types (these are the ones that are usually lively and have that ‘lets do it and figure things out later!’ attitude), as well as D types (domineering and forceful). Whatever the case, most workplaces have different types of people – the reason why I’ve lasted so long here is that most of my colleagues are C and S (supportive) types. I had an ex-colleague who was a D, and we did not get along one iota.

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For lunch, I drove to a cafe nearby called Bookmark Coffee PJ. Ever since I came here with my editor, I’ve been a big fan of their smoked duck pandan rice, which is superb and comes in generous portions – and I’ve really missed it after nearly two months in quarantine.

Since the MCO is still technically in place, most eateries that are open cater to delivery and takeaway only. I waited for about 20 minutes for my orders (got the smoked duck pesto for my boss).

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Back at the office. Ah, how much I’ve missed this! Imagine juicy pieces of smoked duck with no trace of gaminess whatsoever. The meat is tender and succulent, while the skin and its layer of fattiness underneath just melts in your mouth. The fragrant pandan rice boasts a light blue tinge from natural blue pea flowers, and it is topped with a fried egg for good measure, garnished with vegetables and thin slices of cucumber. Bellissimo! 

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For a spicy kick, have your meal with some homemade sambal and orange glaze sauce. The sauce is slightly sweet and tart, which goes really well with the duck meat.

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One of my colleagues asked for help taking some photos for product placement on his Instagram (he’s an influencer), so we ended up messing around the lobby at our workplace. It was deserted, so we were definitely observing social distancing lol.


The rest of the day was uneventful. Traffic was a bit busier going home, but travel time was still shorter than usual.

I’m foreseeing things to get much busier next week, what with Hari Raya coming up, but hopefully people will still remember to adhere to social distancing and avoid public gatherings. Until we get a vaccine, we’re not out of the woods.

How is your country dealing with COVID 19? Are measures being relaxed, or are they extending the quarantine? 

 

 

6 Affordable Malaysian F&B Outlets You Can Order From During The MCO

Food delivery services have seen a huge surge in demand since the movement control order came into place in Malaysia on March 18. While fast food is always an option for its relatively affordable price and convenience, we must not forget to support our local restaurants and F&B outlets, as these are the businesses suffering the most at this critical time. Let’s support them where we can!

Here are six that offer delivery of a wide range of dishes, sent right to your doorstep, at affordable prices:

Soul Sacrifice Cafe (Halal)

Located in Desa Pandan, this humble cafe serves fusion dishes, including signatures such as Truffle Cheese Scrambled Eggs (RM18) and Beetroot Hummus (RM18).

Truffle Cheese Scrambled Eggs

Address: No 38 Jalan 4/76C, Desa Pandan, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Phone Number: +603-92013596
PIC of Food Preparation: Izaz Zainal Abidin
Delivery Service: Lalamove, Foodpanda, GrabFood

The Terrace by The Good Cafe (Halal)
The Terrace by The Good Cafe at Menara IMC serves a mixture of local Malaysian favourites and Western flavours. Signature dishes include the Pineapple Fried Rice & Seafood Tom Yum Soup (RM19) and Fried Wan Ton Noodles (RM14.90) – but they also serve items such as nasi lemak, fried rice, spaghetti, roast chicken and more.

Pineapple Fried Rice & Seafood Tom Yum Soup

Fried Wan Ton Noodles

Address: Level 8, Menara IMC, 8, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
Phone Number: +6011-56978234
PIC of Food Preparation: Naw Lawn
Delivery Service: In-house delivery (corporate lunch deliveries for10 boxes & up within
KLCC vicinity, or further with larger orders)

House of Taste (Halal)
House of Taste offers an array of tasty dishes, with Asian and Western flavours comprising set meals and local rice sets. Take your pick from sets like the Chicken Percik rice (RM10.50 – inclusive of free drink) and Mushroom Pesto Spaghetti (RM14). Prices exclude delivery.

Chicken Percik Rice Set

Mushroom Pesto Spaghetti (VG)

Address: No.13, Jalan PJS 5/26, PJS 5, Taman Desaria, 46150 Petaling Jaya,Selangor
Phone Number: +603-7772-9026
PIC of Food Preparation: Chef Meng
Order online: houseoftaste.beepit.co

Mr. Fish FishHead Noodle Restaurant (Pork free)
Mr Fish FishHead Noodle serves authentic home-cooked fish head noodles, with four types of soup base to choose from – Milky, Curry Laksa, Clear Soup and Tom Yam. You also get to select different proteins like grouper fillet, grouper fish head, fish maw, homemade fish ball and giant river prawn. Two must-try dishes are the Grouper Fillet Meehoon in Milky Soup (RM19.50) and the Salmon Fishhead Curry Meehoon (RM14.50).

Grouper Fillet Meehoon in Milky Soup

Address:

  • HQ: B009, Level B1, The Starling Mall, Damansara Uptown
  • Sunway Pyramid Outlet: OB2.G.U2, Oasis Boulevard 2, Sunway Pyramid
  • Da Men Outlet: LG-24, level LG, Da Men Mall, Jalan Kewajipan, USJ Subang

Phone Number:

  • The Starling Mall (+6012-8831698 / +6016-3396161)
  • Sunway Pyramid (+603-56117200)
  • Da Men Mall (+603-80813308)

PIC of Food Preparation: In-house kitchen crew
Delivery Service: In house delivery services (min order RM30 to deliver, max delivery
charges RM 15), GrabFood, Foodpanda, Hungry2U, RunningMan

Lammeeya Xiao Lao Wang (non-Halal)

Satisfy your cravings for a good plate of fried kuey teow or pork chop rice with Lammeeya Xiao Lao Wang. They have two outlets at Da Men Mall and The School Jaya One respectively, so choose the outlet that is nearest to your house for delivery services, as there is a delivery perimeter setting. Try the Duck Egg Fried Kuey Teow (RM12.90) or Hong Kong Pork Chop Rice (RM17.90)

Duck Egg Fried Kuey Teow

Hong Kong Pork Chop Rice

Address:

  • Da Men Outlet: Lot G21, Ground Floor Da Men Mall, Persiaran Kewajipan, USJ1,
    47600 Subang Jaya, Selangor
  • The School Jaya One Outlet: Unit 21, The School Jaya One, Jalan University, 46200
    PJ.

Phone Number:

  • Da Men Mall (+603-8021 5969)
  • Jaya One (+603-7496 0670)

PIC of Food Preparation: Dex (Da Men Mall), Andy (Jaya One)
Delivery Service: GrabFood, Oddle

The Link Cafe (Vegetarian)

Vegetarians might find their delivery options are limited, but fret not as The Link Cafe in Bandar Baru Seri Petaling offers Western fusion vegetarian dishes, such as their signature Burger (with homemade patty and sauce), and their crowd favourite, Curry Cream Pasta (RM16).

Curry Cream Pasta

The Link's Signature Burger

Address: 12A-G, Jalan Radin Bagus 6, Bandar Baru Sri Petaling, 57000 WIlayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur.
Phone Number: +6017-3980309
PIC of Food Preparation: Gavin Ho
Delivery Service: GrabFood, Foodpanda, Beep Delivery
Note: Customers will enjoy a 10% discount for takeaway or self-pickup.

 

What are you having for lunch today?

 

Covid-19 : The Battle for Malaysia

Hey, guys! This is going to be a long post.

We’re coming to the end of the first quarter of 2020. To say that it has been a shitty year so far (for humanity as a whole) is an understatement, with thousands dying around the world, healthcare services overwhelmed, businesses shuttering and people getting laid off (I talked to a friend in Seattle a couple of days ago who told me he had just been let go from his job as a chef). It is extremely sad to read about how families in Italy have had to bury their loved ones without the chance to even say goodbye.

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On the bright side, the earth seems to be healing quite nicely without all the pollution and damage humans inflict on the environment. Although, NatGeo has debunked several viral posts about animals returning to empty cities (like swans swimming in the canals of Venice, as well as elephants in Thailand getting drunk on corn wine) – I understand that sometimes it’s nice to have a ‘feel good’ story to uplift one’s spirits, but spreading false news makes it more difficult to sift through the real ones, and can actually do more harm than good.

Tomorrow (April 1) marks stage 2 of the Restricted Movement Order here in Malaysia, which will run until April 14. The order was initially set to end on March 31, but we all know an extension was inevitable, as two weeks wouldn’t have done much anyway.

Malaysians in general are quite a laid back bunch. I don’t know if it’s a pro or con (perhaps a con in this climate where decisive and swift action should be taken). So for the first week or so, the government kept urging the public to stay at home, and for participants of the tabligh (the prayer session which was attended by thousands at the end of February – which is linked to most of the cases in Malaysia) to come forward voluntarily for testing. Of course, after pleading for two weeks, they’ve finally decided that the time for talk is now over, and have started arresting people who flout the order. Compliance is at 95%, but there is still 5% (which means a whopping 1.5 million) of the population that is not complying. I was out for a grocery run earlier (I’ve only gone out twice so far, both times for perishable goods because those can’t be kept long) and although many shops are closed, I still see quite a lot of traffic on the road.

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For those who follow Malaysian politics, you might be aware of the political shenanigans that went down just before the COVID-19 blew up here. Literal GoT. Long story short, there was a power struggle between different political parties, switched alliances –  and the party that was voted democratically by the people lost their majority due to ‘frogs’ leaping to form other parties.

All eyes are on current Prime Minister Muhiyiddin, to see what this leader whom we did not elect will do in times of crisis. While I’m not an economic expert, nor do I understand the intricacies of how an economy works, I don’t begrudge that there have been policies in place to help households, which are, all things considered, quite generous. (Where they’re going to get that money I don’t know, since they’re always talking about how empty our coffers are. Borrowing? More debt?)

The Malaysian population is divided into three sections based on income – Bottom 40 (B40), Middle 40 (M40) and Top 20 (T20). The most vulnerable group in times of crisis is, of course, the B40. I’ve detailed in a previous post how difficult it is to survive on RM2,000 if you’re staying in KL where the cost of living is high (the official national poverty line is RM980), and with some places offering barely the minimum wage (I once saw an ad hiring waiters in Puchong for just over RM1k wtf), those who fall into this category are now most vulnerable. With businesses shuttered, they are not able to work. What more those who survive on a daily wage (hawkers, etc.)

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The government’s move to help this group out is to offer financial aid in the form of cash hand outs, to help them tide over this period.

  • Singles earning RM2,000 and below – RM800 cash aid. (RM500 in April, RM300 in May). Includes single senior citizens.
  • Families with joint income below RM4,000 – RM1,600 cash aid. (RM1,000 in April, RM600 in May).

We have a large middle-class population, and SMEs are a huge part of the economy. N once said he was surprised to find the number of bustling mid-tier businesses in Malaysia, which is apparently not as common in the Philippines, where he is from. The M40 is the larger driver of the economy, so there are also initiatives to help them out:

  • Singles earning between RM2,000 and RM4,000 – RM500 cash aid (RM250 in April, Rm250 in May)
  • Families with joint income between RM4,000 – RM8,000 – RM 1,000 cash aid (RM500 in April, RM500 in May)
  • Deferment of loans from banks for six months, although interest rates still apply

To help SMEs and businesses, as well as try to prevent lay-offs, the government is also providing a subsidised wage of RM600 for three months for employees earning less than RM4,000 and employers who have experienced a 50% decrease in income since January 2020. However, this is provided they do not dismiss the employees or force them to take unpaid leave for three months. They are also not allowed to deduct an employee’s existing pay.

All in all, the government has announced a whopping RM250 billion economic stimulus package – some of which will be channeled into the aforementioned handouts, others in other sectors. I can’t fault it because it is quite a generous plan, but how it will be in the long run, nobody knows.

The biggest problem is perhaps reaching out to everyone – obviously some groups will fall through the cracks. Rather than relying on the government, some private corporations and companies have stepped in to fill the gaps. Lazada Malaysia, for example, has stepped in to do deliveries for fresh vegetables from Cameron Highlands (our main source of veggies), because the RMO meant problems with logistics and tonnes of veggies were just left to rot. There are also 3-D printing companies stepping up to create PPE equipment for front liners at hospitals, as well as various NGOs coming together to distribute food to the vulnerable such as the poor in PPR flats and the homeless. If you are not able to volunteer outside, here’s a list of verified NGOs that you can contribute to here. 

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Image from NST.

I must also commend our Director General of Health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. Datuk Dr Noor Hisham has proven to be a swift, decisive and effective leader who thinks ahead. He has been the face of the fight against COVID 19 since it started, and his calm and efficient manner has earned him praise among the public. He has already put into action plans such as converting the Serdang Expo Park into a temporary hospital, in case beds at hospitals nationwide run out.

COVID cases in Malaysia are expected to peak in mid-April, but even then, the good doctor has already said that this is something that requires cooperation by all – not just the government, but the people. In the meantime, for those of us who are privileged enough to just stay at home/work from home without worrying for the next couple of weeks, please. Be patient, and help by staying at home. Where you can, support local businesses, like ordering delivery from your local hawker stall if they offer it. There are people out there who are struggling to feed themselves. It’s difficult for everyone, but as the saying goes in Malay, berat mata memandang, berat lagi bahu memikul.

Stay safe and healthy, peeps!