Chinese New Year of the Rooster

What better way to begin a post on Chinese New Year than a photo of delicious home-cooked meal?

Mom's pork chops with a citrus twist. She added oranges to the tomato base gravy for that zing. So yummy! Her cooking and presentation has improved over the last couple of years after joining a cooking-based group on Facebook. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

Even Pickles got fancy - finally we bought her a doggie bed. She avoided the bed initially, preferring to nap on the kitchen rugs instead. Until Mom kept all the rugs did she finally consent to sleeping on her new bed.

Snugglespuff.... What a cute sight...... awwww...

The usual steamboat fare for reunion dinner. There's been a definite scaling-down due to lesser number of diners. Nonetheless, moms and aunties put in so much love and care into the pot, all of us had quite a few helpings!

Prawns, fishballs, assorted vegetables, fish maw, mushrooms, fish meat, PIG'S STOMACH!! my favouriteeeeee!!! Topped with fried garlic oil, nom nom nom.

But first, tossing the yee sang to usher in the new year. Also lovingly homemade by mom and aunties - julienned green apples, carrots, with roasted crab sticks, just to name a few. Newspapers are there to contain the mess that usually comes with yee sang!

Dad is a mahjong junkie. He relentlessly invited us to play mahjong with him and here he is, giving me a much needed tutorial. 

A game of a zillion rules, and even when you have the opportunity to finish the game, you can't do so if your points aren't sufficient. Then each tile cluster, combined with the order tiles are accumulated, points are counted differently.

Leftovers are a norm after steamboat dinners, so here it is, recreated into noodles soup hehe. (Pig's stomach again!!) We don't waste good food!

Another feast prepared by mom and aunties again (the young 'uns are not as adept...) consisting of all my favourite things - jiu hu char (stir fried turnips with cuttlefish), lor bak (marinated minced pork in a beancurd shell), assam prawns (tamarind), chai boay (a potpourri of all sorts of leftovers with mustard greens... deliciously tarty and spicy), sambal petai (stink beans with sambal and dried prawns).... and a plate of pasembor we bought from a mamak store.

This is plain torture typing this! NO ONE should be subjected to this pain :(

Also baked an early birthday cake for Meagan. It was supposed to be a shared birthday cake amongst the February and March babies, hehe (about 5 of them). But I guess the youngest gets priority.

This is an almost easy, fuss-freeest (if that is a word) cake I've made. No mixer required, no oven required! A moist chocolate cake, covered and layered in chocolate ganache. And all those M&Ms.... were the first candies Meagan has had in her life! At three years old! Hehe, she couldn't stop popping them into her mouth until mommy has to step in.

Here she is, looking all docile before her birthday cake. We have extreme difficulty trying to get Meagan to put the child party hat on, hehe. 

And finally the customary group photo with a notable addition to the family :)

Gong Xi Fa Chai!

Apply for an Indian Tourist Visa (Malaysians)

Here's a compilation of procedures and required documents to apply for an Indian Tourist Visa. I usually use the application at one of the Indian missions because I require multiple entry into India. However, there is a simpler application via e-TV, where your application is done online. This is only limited to a number of countries (Malaysia included) and a single entry into India allowed. You can do this here, but I've not used this!

For a multiply entry visa - this will require you to visit one of the Indian missions scattered around Malaysia. The process is simple enough. Register yourself on the web page, fill up the forms, print forms, bring these and other required documents to the any of the IVS Global Center (third party who deals with Indian visas; the Indian embassy no longer do it), then collect your passport within 3-4 days. Easy peasy.

These links are your best friend. 

Main page-

Extensive information on the tourist visa can be found here

Apply for an Indian Tourist Visa

Some information that may require digging are parents' places of birth, and referees in both Malaysia and India. Others are pretty standard stuff: travel dates, job role, etc. It takes me about 15 minutes to complete this part.

2. Once confirmed and electronically "signed", print a copy.

3. Go to any one of the Indian mission (check if they are open first! They are sometimes closed in conjunction of a public holiday in India) for submission of your documents. 

You can visit the India Visa Centre at any time, to your convenience - they are open Mondays- Fridays from 9am-2pm for visa submission. 

Bring these with you

  • Your passport
  • A photocopy of your passport
  • A photocopy of your IC
  • A printed application form
  • 2 x photographs (2"x2" on a white background)
  • **Confirmed ticket to India (eg confirmation ticket from agent, or flight itinerary)
  • Sufficient cash for visa fee payment
4. If the queue is long, note that you can opt to go to the "Express Counter". There will be an additional charge of RM50 but you skip the queue. 

You MUST apply for the Indian visa in person for the biometric registration. There are a couple of exceptions:

  • You're older than 70 years old;
  • Children below 12 years of age
  • The VFS already have  your record (this is usually noted at the bottom of your completed online application form)
In these instances, it is possible to have someone apply the visa for you.

5. Submit your documents when your number is called. Make payment and keep the receipt. This receipt will be required for your visa collection.

Collecting Your Visa

Your preferred option (whether to courier or selecting which Indian mission to collect) is selected when you are filling up the visa form.

If you are applying from the main centre in KL, expect three working days before the visa is ready. This 3 working days include the day you apply. So, if you apply on a Monday, the visa should be ready for collection by Wednesday.

If applying from another Indian mission (Penang, Johor Bahru), 4 working days is needed. This does not include the day you apply. If you apply on Monday, the visa will be ready on Friday. Don't ask me why, but this is from my experience (most likely they courier your passport to the main center on the first day, so it didn't count).

Photo taken at the Indian state of Uttarakhand

Good luck!

Macau: In A Day

Who'd ever think to explore a new country, all on a day trip?

I'm ashamed to admit, but that's what we did... Obviously there isn't enough time, especially if you got up at 10am, and then went on to queue for breakfast at the ADC instead of immediately proceeding to board the ferry to Macau.

And when I say "explore", I really meant "stuffing our faces".

Getting to Macau from Hong Kong

From Central MTR, go to the Hong Kong Macau ferry terminal. It was a bit tricky trying to locate the tickets office (even with the help of signs). You'll have to go up a few levels to find the counters. 

Alternatively, it is possible also board the ferry from Kowloon in Tsim Sha Tsui. However,  the ferries leave every 30minutes, as opposed to the one from Central MTR - every 15 minutes. It does not sound like a large difference, but if tickets are sold out for the time slot you want, then the wait can be as arduous as 45mins-1 hour, just killing time at the ferry terminal!

The ferry ride takes about an hour, but also set aside some 15-20 minutes or so for tickets purchase and queueing at immigration. 

A few tips:

Remember to bring along your passports!

We didn't need to exchange currency for the Macau Pataca.  The shops in Macau (both large and small establishments) are happy to take Hong Kong dollars because the rates are very close to the Pataca. Some places may also accept RMB.

We bought ferry tickets from Turbojet. At the boarding gate, seats were assigned based on a first come first served basis.

**On the return trip to Hong Kong (almost 10pm), tickets for the next two time slots were sold out. We found out some opportunist locals hoard the tickets, and then sell them at a slightly higher rate. 

Free shuttle to the casino strip. At the Macau ferry terminal: simply ask the Information Centre after immigration for the free shuttle buses. There is a long row of buses that shuttle passengers to different casinos, for free. We took the one headed for The Venetian, becos all our food hunts are nestled here.


I think, for an eatery to be truly desirable and to create that viral longing - does not solely depend on its food. The vibe/ambience plays a huge part. This does not necessarily mean a fancy setting. It can be as memorable as a cafe by the beach, or even squatting by a large ditch and sucking on bloodied clams (you read that right... only in Malacca).

Which is why I usually steer away from eateries housed in malls. They lack any charisma, the experience is totally forgettable. 

Those are precisely why our planned Macau food hunt failed. I was overly ambitious: I had initially arranged for the original Lord Stow's bakery in Coloane (south village of Macau), the pork chop bun shop called Tai Lei Loi Kei in Taipa village (western part of Macau), and then also wanted to see the Venetian....... 

You may laugh but we (sort of) did it...

Instead of traveling all over Macau, we settled for their branches in the Venetian, heh.

Tai Lei Loi Kei
The Venetian Macau 
(at the large food court, ask concierge for directions)
Order: Pork chop on bun

We thought we'd be one step ahead and order the pork chops WITH polo bao. Well, bad choice. The sweetness of the polo bao does not go well with the pork chops. 

The pork chops, however, were really tender. One of the better pork chops I've had, for sure. 

Now, THIS is the pork chop bun you want to have:

Vinnie went for a second serving, and opted instead for the pork chop bun (original). Sandwiched between mini baguette breads. It's the perfect marriage! The slightly chewy baguette goes wonderfully well with the pork chops.

Now, the moment we have all been waiting for.

Lord Stow's Bakery & Cafe
The Venetian Macau
Order: Portuguese Egg Tarts

Portuguese egg tarts are quite unlike the regular egg tarts. The tart shells are laminated dough, like puff pastries. Whereas the regular egg tarts have shells similar to a quiche.

My expectations were high. I mean, these are supposed to be the best Portuguese egg tarts in Macau! Some say they are better than the egg tarts in Portugal! 

They do not disappoint.

Oh my. The tarts are kept at a very warm temperature (50-60C?), and we struggle to hold and eat them! The flaky layers of puffed pastry make an orgasmic contrast with the soft egg custard filling. The custard is incredibly soft and gooey, they quiver at the slightest movement. 

If you'd prefer to visit a proper Lord Stow Bakery (not in a mall), they also have one branch in Taipa Village. 


The village is a real pleasure to take a walk in. Roads are small and totally pedestrian-friendly. Hardly any traffic, except for the occasional vehicle.

A park being dolled up for the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations.

A bad-ass photo V took of me, heh.

And last (surely not least) on our Macau food hunt-

Cafe Litoral
53/57 Rua do Regedor
Order: African Chicken

African chicken in Macau does strike as odd. But Macau was a Portuguese colony, along with parts of Africa. The African influence of spices, chilis and piri piris soon spread to Macau. We were told this African chicken goes through three types of preparation: roasting, deep-frying and grilling. 

The chicken is slightly sweet to the palate, with a tomato paste, and piri piri sauce. And not remotely spicy. It is very tasty and I would highly recommend it. This does remind me of Mom's ayam ros from home.

It's a damn shame we only have a day here, but we'll surely be back to explore Coloane and Senado Square. Plenty more to see and eat.

Hong Kong: The Big Round Up

I love Hong Kong. 

It is bustling, it is full of energy, it is efficient.... and it is a gastronomic heaven. I love the constant flurry of activity that surrounds the city. I love the diversity of the people here, and I love the city in winter. 15-18C. Think boots, chic coats and dapper jackets!

This is the round up of places we frequently go, (with some editions from the original list) and for good reasons (in no order of preference).

There are, however, no dim sum pick here. We've gone to a few highly rated dim sum restaurants, but have been underwhelmed all times. I'm still uncertain if that was because we  not know what to order, or Hong Kong dim sum isn't one of their stronger points...


1. Kam's Roast Goose
226 Hennessy Road
Wan Chai
Closest MTR: Wan Chai (Exit A4)

This is easily our favourite and we would fly all the way to Hong Kong just so we can have this every meal, all day (ok, so I lied about the order of preference)...

Queueing time for a table is 30-40 minutes - applies for most of the restaurants on this list here. Probably goes without saying.

We've tried numerous combinations on the menu: sausages, roast pork, roast goose.... and the choiciest item goes to the roast goose leg with rice, along with a plate of roast pork to share (if you're not too possessive).

Roast goose leg is charged at a slight premium, but it's totally worth it. More meat to bones ratio. Regular roast goose cut have lots of oddly-shaped and oddly-placed bones and it's just way too much work with chopsticks when all you want to do is gorge yourself silly.

Ah... this photo is sending me happy, happy thoughts....

Oh, and don't be tempted to order the pork sausages - an absolute meh. Century eggs are decent, if you're into that kinda stuff (still a bit too alkaline to my liking - I think they're only acceptable in century porridge).


2. Little Bao
66 Staunton Street
SoHo, Central
MTR: Sheung Wan MTR (Exit A2)

This is a new find for us - I was expecting the place to be a lot like Kam's, with practical seatings and attention on food. What we discovered in Little Bao was a pleasant surprise. Modern and youthful, with a gastropub vibe. The menu is a twist on old favourites. 

We arrived at 8:30pm, but was asked to wait 40-50 minutes for seats. The eatery was chock full of people! We left our numbers and took to exploring the SoHo until we received a call from them.

We got counter seats, yay. Service was prompt, but our orders took a while to arrive. 

This is the Pork Belly bao - slow-braised pork belly, leek and shiso red onion salad, sesame dressing, hoisin ketchup.  

Soft bao (steamed and toasted before assembling), tender meat, yum.

Szechuan Fried Chicken bao - Chinese black vinegar glaze, Szechuan mayo and coleslaw. A delight - crispy chicken, crunchy 'slaw and soft baos.

Roasted Pork Cheek - Cumin-spiced, fennel, burnt apple puree.

This. Is. Just. Orgasmic.

That first bite into a perfectly pan-fried crispy skin, followed by the tender meat and ended with an explosion of juicy layer of pork fat.


3. Kam Wah Cafe
47 Bute Street
Nearest MTR: Prince Edward (Exit B3)

Kam Wah Cafe is unanimously voted as best place for Polo Bao, also called the pineapple bun. Despite its name, the bao does not contain pineapple. Instead, the criss-crossing design on top of the bun earned its moniker.

They have two shops side by side - we placed our order for 3 Polo Baos, one for me and two for V. Aaaaaand V had actually thought that the Polo Baos have some sort of filling inside (pork, no doubt) - so he was very disappointed to find out otherwise. 

Me, I think they're really great, soft on the inside and decadent with butter; and the crust... oh my. They add a wonderful contrast to the spongy buns. Texture is sort of like crumble. They remind me of the char siew baos crust from Tim Ho Wan.

And washed down with the quintessential HongKi drink - yin yong. 

Btw, this photo of butter sticking out of the polo bun looks almost indecent....



16 Wun Sha Street,
Tai Hang
Nearest MTR: Tin Hau, Exit B

I have no idea how to pronounce or read this shop's name, but this search came up for a local eatery.

This was the store front of the address that I have in hand... but we can't be sure initially, as the addresses aren't clearly shown.

Still, the shop was almost full, that's surely a good sign as any. We signalled to the waitress, and she led us into ANOTHER eatery.

We suspected this second eatery, which looked more like a pub, is used during the day time to accommodate their growing customers.

The eatery is so local that there isn't an English menu.... and the servers only speak Cantonese. My Cantonese failed me here...... I wanted to order the highly recommended steamed minced pork with salted egg but for the life of me, I couldn't remember what "salted egg" is called in Cantonese! I should know this! Anyway, it is "ham dan"!!

Our server was very patient, though. She waited for me to struggle and sputter incomprehensible Cantonese. I tried to order a char siew dish with omelette - this wasn't so hard... cos char siew is universal ;)

Steamed minced pork with salted egg yolk. Just a tad oily but this defines home-cooked comfort food! Simple and yet packed full with flavour. A bowl of rice is all that's needed to complete this divine image.

Char siew with omelette. This one didn't wow us so much. Interestingly the omelette and the steamed pork both have similar ingredients (pork and eggs), but very different preparations.

This is a spicy pork thingie that we spotted on another table and ordered, cos it looks good. We still don't know what it is called, hehe.


Australia Dairy Co
47 Parkes Street
Nearest MTR: Jordan (Exit C2)

This needs no introduction. It's all over the Interwebz and appeared on every Hong Kong eating guide. 

We paid homage to ADC every day when we were in Hong Kong. Incidentally, one of those times, we shared table with a Hong Konger whose father was a Malaysian. And there's definitely the Malaysian hospitality there cos she helped us to order some items and clarified a couple of misunderstandings with the impatient ADC staff ;) 

Don't miss out on their scrambled eggs and ham sandwich. Fluffy eggs and ham on thick toast.

And you can't say you've been to ADC without trying their steamed milk pudding. Pick the one with egg whites, the almond steamed pudding did not catch our fancy. And choose warm cos the flavours are more defined when the pudding is warm!


Mak's Noodles
51 Parkes Street
Nearest MTR: Jordan

Mak's noodles eatery is just right next to the ADC. The noodles are the best I've ever had in my entire life. Light and springy, with a perfectly al dente texture. The soup and wantons are alright, though - so do manage your expectations.

Vinnie likes to order their dry noodles with spicy pork, which is really nice, if you're not into soupy noodles. Dry noodles come with a bowl of soup as well.


The Georgian Adventure - Hike to Chalaadi Glacier

Our third, and last hike in Svaneti. There are so many more places to hike and explore around Georgia, it was a hard decision to premature...