Month: November 2014

Food: Tim Ho Wan Opens in Kuala Lumpur (Things to expect + Prices)

I could live on steamed Chinese shrimp dumplings (hakao) for the rest of my life. That addiction brought me to Chef Mak Kwai Pui’s (麥桂培) Tim Ho Wan in 2010 during a visit to Hong Kong. That’s when our long distance love affair started. That first visit was also the start of another addiction – their BBQ Pork Buns.

Trivia: Tim Ho Wan literally means “to add good luck” or “more good luck” (thanks, Rob and Diane!) in Cantonese. 

I can’t begin to tell anyone how much I love those two dishes and at the risk of being deemed basic, I order those two every single time I’m inside a Tim Ho Wan. In Hong Kong, in Manila when it opened last May (I was writing an article about it and was lucky enough to be one of the first people to dine there during opening day), Singapore, and now in Kuala Lumpur. True, I’ve tried the egg cake, the Vermicelli rolls, and the rest of it during that media visit in Manila but I guess I’m just in too deep with those two.

While a lot of neg-heads would often go like: “It’s overrated” and “The branches in other countries will never be at par with the one in Hong Kong”, I myself am just happy to have my hakao and pork bun fix – especially here in KL where not a lot of restaurants serve pork. I’m a Filipina and pork, is part of our basic food groups back home so halal food is usually okay and healthier but I do miss some good old pork in my food. Oh, and did I mention I miss chicharron (fried pork rinds) a lot too?

And come to think of it, there are lots of Chinese restaurants and hawker stalls here in KL and even in Singapore but not everyone and not a lot of them serve hakao! It drives me into bitch fits, sometimes when my craving is just too much. I went to Ying Ker Lou, a Chinese restaurant in Pavilion where they serve different kinds of dim sum, hakao included. Went in with a smile on my face, went out disappointed. The shrimps were obviously frozen so they didn’t taste the least bit fresh and were a bit gummy.

So I made it to a point to go to the Tim Ho Wan opening yesterday, November 28, in MidValley just to makeup for that bad experience. Expecting a long line, I wore comfy sandals. But I was surprised to see that the line was manageable.

Tim Ho Wan, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Dim Sum, BBQ Pork Buns,
Expect a line outside the restaurant.

When going to Tim Ho Wan, one should expect that they wouldn’t be seated right away. It’s like that in almost all their branches. The cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant (I think it’s a tad cheaper than Din Tai Fung) is of course, very popular everywhere it goes. Even those who don’t know of the restaurant before it came to their shores are drawn in because of the hype that comes with it and the intriguing line.

In KL though, the line is manageable since it’s a non-halal restaurant, a huge percentage of the population here are not part of their target audience. But still, the restaurant will be full. Even if it’s slightly bigger (with an upper floor for dining opening soon) than its sisters abroad. I waited in line for about 10 minutes max which isn’t so bad.

Tip: Smaller groups, solo diners in fact, get seated faster.

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Beauty + Review: MAC Cosmetics’ No Faux Pas Lipstick

MAC, MAC Cosmetics, Heirloom Collection, Lipstick, Makeup, No Faux Pas, Limited Edition
Loving the packaging for MAC Cosmetics’ Heirloom Mix Collection! 🙂

The past couple of days haven’t been too busy. I have no excuse for not posting here other than me trying to get back into my not-so-daily grind a.k.a. scheduled activities which include writing here.

So before I get carried away talking about something else (like I always do), I will get to the subject of this blog entry – a new lipstick! I can only imagine my husband’s face right now and his slight amazement at how I can have so many tubes and still feel like I don’t have the particular colour I want to wear for a certain day. 😉

This was actually something I picked up a couple of weeks ago, while my in-laws were still here. MAC’s Holiday Collection called Heirloom Mix just came out and I was totally loving the packaging of their makeup sets and the colours of some of the lipsticks I saw online got me intrigued! They looked promising in photos!

When I got to the MAC store in Pavilion KL the first time, I left without swatching or buying anything as I already have Rebel (a permanent colour) and some of the colours were already quite close to those that I have. I even said that No Faux Pas just basically looks like Candy Yum Yum. But man, was I wrong.

I went back to the same store after a couple of days to buy a lipstick for our Cultural Attache at the embassy who was having a birthday (I got her a permanent shade called Speak Louder which she loved! Yay! Happy birthday, Ms Grace!) and as usual, I ended up chatting with one of the makeup artists. I told her I was kind of interested with No Faux Pas but seeing as it already had the ‘Sold Out’ sticker on its tester, I felt like it wasn’t meant to be. But then she told me that someone who had it reserved cancelled so they still had one last tube.

I took it as a sign and practically forced my money on to the cashier. I’m glad I did it. No Faux Pas is actually a great shade and a smart buy!

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Having The In-Laws Over (8 Tips on How to Survive Their Visit)

I’m back!

My in-laws have just left for the airport along with the husband’s aunt and uncle. Hugs were exchanged and reminders were made. A truckload of unsolicited yet welcome advice (and they were actually good to keep in mind) for a lasting marriage were given. There were a teeny bit of tears (though I won’t say who cried *wink,wink*) and “please come back soons”.

The past two weeks we had them over were fun (we got to show them around KL and Singapore) but very tiring nonetheless. So here I am, just a couple of hours after they left, sitting on our couch and munching on M&Ms. I refuse to move from this spot and I am just listening to the sound of my breathing. Everything is so quiet and now, I can relax. Wow. It feels totes foreign. Our home was filled with people for the past two weeks and now it’s back to normal.

Don’t get me wrong. I love having visitors and I love my in-laws. My husband’s family members have been nothing but nice to me. But you know how it is when you have visitors – it’s stressful. Even for my husband and they’re HIS actual parents and blood relatives. I guess it comes with the Filipino trait of being hospitable. We go out of our way to be very welcoming. Put it this way – you see those tourism slogans of other Asian countries who say that they’re also hospitable? Quadruple their hospitality and that’s the only time you’ll know that you’re getting treated the Filipino way. Have you ever heard of people letting visitors sleep in their bedroom while they camp out in the living room? No, Sorry. Alvin and I are not that hardcore. But a lot of Filipinos do that to make sure their guests are comfortable. And we don’t just do this for our families, we do it for friends and even acquaintances. So when we say we’re having guests over, I just know I’m gonna need at least a week to recuperate from all the traveling and tour guiding I’ve been doing.

While I’m lucky to have in-laws that are nice to me (my mother-in-law, a person I expected to make my life hell after seeing all those rom-coms is actually very motherly to me), I must admit that I was very anxious before their arrival and I’m sure most other married women there would agree. Whether your in-laws are loveable like mine or monsters from hell, it will always make you anxious to know that they’re coming. It’s like having VIPs as visitors.

I think my anxiety came from the urge to prove that I’m taking good care of their son and our home, despite us living alone abroad. They know I didn’t grow up like most Filipina women do. I grew up trained to be a career woman and not a homemaker. So I guess I wanted to put all their worries to rest and give the impression that  “I got this.”

And I’m glad to say that I did it. Successfully, of course. I actually feel proud about this achievement and I’m pretty sure that Alvin’s parents left Malaysia loving me even more. I’m quite sure I left a good impression on his aunt and uncle too whom I met for the first time when they arrived here for their short vacation.

So here’s a random (and honest) list of just a couple of things I learned from this visit which I hope will help any anxious newlywed out there who’s having in-laws over for the first time:

1. Clean the house

A disorderly house means one thing to in-laws: You’re not taking care of your home well enough. If you have a day job, you might get away with the house not being close to perfect. Like having a scarf laid down on a console table or leaving the remote controls in the dining table. But make no mistake about it: The pressure is greater for the stay-at-home wife.

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Just a short update: Touring The In-Laws

It’s been a couple of days since my last post and I was pretty bummed to break my one-post-a-day-for-three-days streak but wife/tour guide duties had to come first. My in-laws are in town until the 20th! 🙂

I’ve been taking them around the city by myself during weekdays while my husband is working at the embassy then he joins our ‘tours’ during weekends. It’s been great so far. My mother-in-law spoils the hell out of me. Just a little more and my husband might just get jealous for real. 😛

However, I do miss my alone time when I actually do get to write (it’s usually a weekday thing while my husband is at work). Or maybe, I’ll have one of those free days. You know, a day where I don’t have to go out at all and I can just sit on our couch while I watch Madam Secretary and The Newsroom episodes and I munch on Ruffles Sour Cream & Cheddar chips. Sounds really lazy and not me but hey. Maybe it’s fun to try doing nothing for a change. Haha! After the 20th, I intend to have that much needed break.

Huuuuuuge buddha statue at the Chin Swee Caves Temple near Genting Highlands. It was so cold that day! Not to mention windy. I was freezing my butt off while we were taking photos! LOL.

So far, they’re happy to see that life in KL is good. It’s an extremely expat-friendly city after all. Wowed them with my baking skills on they day they arrived, even. #WifeIt, I say!

I mean, really. Why do people always assume I can’t whip up something edible? LOL. Well, it’s prolly because my grandmother has been peddling the story that I was never the domesticated type. But really, Alvin and I have been doing pretty well on our own and the folks are pleasantly surprised (or should I say relieved?). 😉

My husband, being extremely OC and all, drew up the perfect itinerary which has been very helpful. So far, we’ve been going on a slow pace but the in-laws are definitely enjoying themselves. We go to one to two places in KL that are near to each other per day – just enough to see a chunk of the city without tiring them too much.

The slow pace is something that I’m not really used to, actually.

Alvin and I travel efficiently when we do it together. We’re not the type to loiter in one place or the kind of tourists that take too many pictures (even repeating some shots over and over and getting in the way of other tourists– ugh). We’re actually able to cover a lot of places during most of our travels which is just one of the things I love about travelling with him. He plans everything down to the train routes and stops, while I’m more of a wanderlust/anything-goes/smell-the-roses type who still walks and moves quite fast so we achieve a perfect balance by being together. He tends to go too fast at times, though and I’m the one who reminds him to chill for a sec and enjoy more. Typical me.

Mornings are spent with heavy breakfast (Rice or if no rice, a tonne of white bread!), a Filipino practice which isn’t really healthy and I’ve been trying to avoid for Alvin and I by serving cereal, wheat bread, yogurt, and some milk or fresh juice during mornings. But alas, it’s impossible to stop Filipino mothers from taking over the kitchen.

My father-in-law took a photo of Alvin and I outside Istana Negara, the old palace of the Agong which was turned into a museum. Such a luxurious home! Btw, yes. Those are red Keds. The Taylor Swift kind. 😉

My mom-in-law’s also cooking lunch today! Woohoo! Though I love cooking as a hobby, I can’t imagine myself cooking meals 2-3 times a day. That makes it a chore already and would take all the fun out of it! So I welcome all the help and am letting her have her fun in my kitchen for the next couple of days more. Heehee. I’ll just put Alvin on a diet once they leave. 😉

We’re off to Singapore again this weekend and will be welcoming Alvin’s aunt and uncle from Canada on the 17th so we’ll be having a pretty full house till the 20th and I’ll prolly be busy hauling them from one tourist spot to another. Tour guide practice, anyone? 😉

More later.

Love,

Carol

Food: Career Girl Cooking Series – Ham, Bacon, and Mushroom Alfredo

First things first – a disclaimer.

I’m a career girl through and through. Went to college, worked long hours, partied hard, and lived on take out and my grandmother’s cooking for 25 years.

To be honest, I’m really not that much of a cook. Though I always knew that if I do try it, I will do great in it – and I did, if I may say so myself. On the rare occasions that I was found in the kitchen, I’ve been told that my dishes were actually pretty good. And no, my guinea pigs weren’t paid or threatened to say such things. I promise. 😉

Now that I’m married, I’ve been trying to cook more often but my husband and I love eating out. We love restaurants and hate doing the dishes (though SOMETIMES it can be therapeutic). So I cook at least once or twice a week as a way of being sweet to the husband. After all, the best way to a man’s heart is through his tummy and showing him you can handle stuff on your own. 😉

Western comfort food is my specialty and I recently got into baking while trying to learn how to cook Filipino food. Yes, it’s kind of a shame not knowing how to cook Filipino food when you’re married to a Filipino diplomat. It seems my Danish side is stronger, food wise.  But the good news is I was able to make some adobo recently and it was also good. My husband ate a lot after all. 😉 I’ll put up posts on that later on so that you can try it too.

I often tell my friends that cooking is easy. I read a lot of recipes and just like in most things you learn in school, once you know the basics, you can actually try and be adventurous, adding a little bit of this and that or deviating from the instructions to make a certain recipe your own.

A lot of career girls these days disregard cooking and other skills attributed to a domesticated woman and just end up focusing on their work all the time (guilty of this for the past couple of years) but the thing is, once you try it, it can be addicting and a great stress reliever. Cooking gives me a weird high and when people love what I make it just doubles up.

So, I decided to start Career Girl Cooking Series. A series of posts containing recipes of dishes or baked goodies I recently made with the promise that they will always be quick and easy cos we’re all busy girls after all.

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Food: Wheeler’s Coffee (Penang)

Penang is a foodie’s version of heaven and gaining weight while you’re there for a couple of days is inevitable. Well, unless you have the self-restraint of a Buddhist monk then maybe you can resist overeating. But for me, it was just too hard. I even dropped by the hotel gym at some point just to work out because I was feeling a bit guilty.

The trainer told me that I’m actually pretty thin and I could use a couple more pounds but to stay healthy and to get stronger, I should workout around 3 times a week and eat healthy (READ: veggies and fruits). My first question was: How many cheat meals am I allowed then? Lol, typical Carol. He told me I could have as much as 3-4 as I’m still quite frail-looking. But to be honest, I only get to do a maximum of 3 healthy meals a week. And that’s a HUGE improvement for this junk-food loving carnivore. 😉 (RELATED POST: Travel+ Food + Photos: Getting to Penang, Penang Hill, and some Food Worship)

While Penang is known for its Chinese food, the influx of expat workers brought in different kinds of cuisine from all over the world. It’s easy enough to spot a Middle Eastern diner where they serve authentic Naan and Chicken Masala that will make you think twice as to where you actually are – Malaysia? Saudi Arabia? Yemen??? The last day of Alvin’s conference ended at around 1 p.m. and since our flight back to Kuala Lumpur was scheduled the next day, we had a whole afternoon to ourselves. We decided to eat in George Town just so Alvin can walk around and see it as well (I’ve been doing my own sightseeing while he was attending the conference). We got off at Lebuh Chulia and ended up in Lorong Love (Love Lane) which is a backpacker and cafe area of George Town. We wandered into Wheeler’s Coffee for that afternoon.

Wheeler’s Coffee along Lorong Love in George Town.

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Travel: Langkawi Island Pt. 3 (Kilim River Cruise)

Doing a bit of backtracking today to share with you one of my favourite parts of our anniversary trip last October – the Kilim River Cruise. Personally, I think it’s a must see in Langkawi.

The sights are just too beautiful that it will literally make you stop for a bit and appreciate mother nature.

So to make this quick, here are a couple of snaps from that leg of our trip:

The Kilim River Jetty.

You can take a cab from anywhere in the island to get to Kilim Geoforest Park where the Kilim River is. The River Cruise is a great way to see the sights around the park. It’s also lovely to sit on a boat and go through calm waters while breathing fresh air and taking in all the sights, don’t you think?

You will be asked how long you want your tour to be – 1, 2, 3, or 4 hours. You will be given your own private motor boat (for your group of up to 15 people) with the guy operating it as your tour guide.

The river and the mountains surrounding it are just so picturesque. Make sure your camera’s memory card has a lot of space.

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