100 Titles

I’ve been struggling to get my momentum back into reading for the past few months, glad to say that I’ve managed to read 3 books in a month!  This year alone, I’ve read 6 books. *A pat on my back* I’ve made it a habit to read at least 3 pages per night before I go to sleep. If the book is too good, I would end up reading a few chapters instead. So if you see me “fishing” in the office, you know that I’ve been reading a good book the night before.

So, what have I been reading? I just finished the Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. In fact, I read her first book – the Interpretation of Maladies many years back. Then, I watched the movie “the Namesake” which is based on her second book. Quite a prolific writer, if you ask me. She made ordinary lives of the Indian immigrants to the US/UK seemed extraordinary. I have this habit of reading books by the same author. Once I like the way the writer wrote or narrated, I would devour everything from the same writer. That is why I’ve finished almost every book from Haruki Murakami, Amy Tan, Paulo Coelho and Gabriel Marquez.

I’ve just finished a first novel, The Outcast by Sadie Jones – easy read. I finished it within a week, even before the new smell of the book dissipated into the air. And now, I am reading the Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho.

A friend shared with me 100 titles of books recommended to be read by the BBC. A quick check on the internet, this list was compiled back in 2003. I guess after 7 years, there are many other great books that BBC might overlook. Anyway, here are the 100 titles – so what have you read so far? Watching movies don’t count! I’ve read the ones highlighted in red. For the record – I cannot read fantasy book. I fell asleep reading the first page of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone . It’s so damn boring. And I don’t read chic lits too. Sorry.. just not my cup of tea.

1. 1984, George Orwell
2. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
3. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
4. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
5. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
6. Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
7. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
8. Animal Farm, George Orwell
9. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
10. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
11. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
12. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
13. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
14. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
15. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
16. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
17. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
18. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
19. Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes
20. Dracula, Bram Stoker
21. Dubliners, James Joyce
22. Emma, Jane Austen
23. Eugenie Grandet, Honore de Balzac
24. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
25. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
26. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
27. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
28. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
29. Grimm’s Fairy Stories, The Grimm Brothers
30. Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift
31. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
32. Holes, Louis Sachar
33. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
34. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
35. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
36. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
37. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
38. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
39. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
40. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
41. Memoirs of Fanny Hill, John Cleland
42. Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
43. Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
44. Middlemarch, George Eliot
45. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
46. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
47. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
48. Nostromo, Joseph Conrad
49. Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky
50. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
51. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
52. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
53. Paradise Lost, John Milton
54. Persuasion, Jane Austen
55. Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi
56. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
57. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
58. Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse
59. Tales of Terror and Mystery, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
60. Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
61. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
62. The Call of the Wild, Jack London
63. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
64. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
65. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas, père
66. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
67. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
69. The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling
70. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
71. The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper
72. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving
73. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
74. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
75. The Lost World, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
76. The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
77. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
78. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
79. The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan
80. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
81. The Provost, John Galt
82. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
83. The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
84. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
85. The Stand, Stephen King
86. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
87. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
88. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
89. The Turn of the Screw, Henry James
90. The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells
91. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
92. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
93. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
94. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
95. Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, Jules Verne
96. Ulysses, James Joyce
97. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
98. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
99. Watership Down, Richard Adams
100. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Only 19/100? Damn sad. Haha! How did you score?

Lor Mor

Some people say that, in order to combat senility, it’s good for elderly people to play mahjong because mahjong is a game which helps you to exercise your brain. The thing is, I don’t think it’s working for both my dad and my aunt.

Last week over lunch, there was a ruckus going on about some keys. A few days ago, my aunt’s friend handed over the keys to the house nearby our house she intends to rent out. So, my aunt handed the keys to my sister to arrange for prospective tenant. After the new intended tenant saw the house, my bro-in-law gave back the rental house keys to my aunt.

When we got home one day for lunch, my aunt said that the rental house keys are very special. All the four keys could open the doors and gates to our house! We were shocked. I was thinking of the worst. Perhaps most of the locks we bought share the same pairs of keys? Made in China mah.. what do you expect? It can’t be! There must be some mistakes!

I was anxious. So, my bro-in-law went upstairs to fetch the mysterious keys which could open all doors to the rental house as well as my house. Then he found that, those keys are actually OUR house keys and NOT the rental house’s! LOL!

Then my aunt kept insisting that, that was the set of keys handed over by my Bro-in-law after visiting the rental house! My BIL also insisted that he handed the set of keys to my aunt that day right after the visit to the rental house.

My aunt went about looking for the house keys while we ate lunch. Then, my sis said, “Later you see. She will come and ask us to call the intended tenant if he took the keys!”

My sis was right.

Couldn’t find the keys, my aunt told us to call up the intended tenant if he has taken the keys. We laughed so hard and almost choked on the chai ngor. Then, I shook my head feeling amused, seeing my aunt is indeed starting to  lose her memory! Earlier, just as we got home, my mom was asking my aunt, why on earth she left the mop behind our kitchen cabinet. The wet mop was supposed to be placed in the bathroom and not behind the cabinet!

My mom was gloating because her elder sister is getting senile even with her rigorous health regime of taking calcium supplements, exercise and eating moderately. So, I suggested to my mom that my aunt should eat more leftover rice, big fat pork and salted fish, like my mom for better memory!

We had a good laugh. We also brought up another lor mor joke about our fourth aunt in Taiping. She cycled to do marketing in the morning. At 3 pm, she alerted us that our house bicycle was stolen! We looked high and low for the bicycle around the house but couldn’t find it. My fourth aunt insisted that she had just used the bicycle this morning and shouldn’t be missing! Then we found out, she left the bicycle at the grocery shop all morning and walked home, forgotten about the bicycle totally! Lucky it’s a small kampong, so the bicycle was not stolen. We called the shop keeper and he said, yes, there’s a red bicycle with basket parked in front of his shop.

Apparently, gingko biloba is merely a placebo. It doesn’t have the properties to improve memory as claimed. I guess, losing memory runs in the family.. so I better start writing down things if I want to remember them and perhaps I pray that I would die first before I start losing memory!

So where were the keys? They were nicely tucked in my aunt’s own pants pocket and she even took a nap and she didn’t feel a thing!

*Lor mor is in hokkien, which means senile.

Restoran Sin Yit Sing, Seremban

Our trip to Melaka didn’t end in Melaka, it continued till Seremban! The weather in Melaka for the past two days was erratic. It rained almost the entire night after our 15 minutes walk along Jonker’s Walk. Potong stim habis! We had to seek shelter in Nancy’s Kitchen till late at night, then had to call it a night. On Sunday, it rained again too towards the evening, so we went to Dataran Pahlawan to get away from the rain. So, we didn’t get to sample much food in Melaka (har har har..we had gone to 5 restaurants in a day and it’s still not much compared to my previous trips to Melaka in a day!).

We decided to get away from Melaka and headed to Seremban to this restaurant which from the way I see it, quite popular with the locals and outsiders alike. A quick search on the internet reveals the same. I think this shop has been around for sometime now.

We chose to dine al fresco because it’s less suffocating compared to sitting in the restaurant. However, the weather was still super hot and we actually sweated buckets even before the food arrived.

We asked for some recommendations and we had some dishes that Lil had tried and confirmed it’s good. So, we ordered the following:-

Fish head noodles – almost every table had this pot of fish head noodles. The soup is overwhelmed with grounded pepper but I somehow liked it very much! I think I haven’t tasted equally good fish head noodles in KL, apart from the place where I used to dine for lunch when I was working nearby Jalan Yap Kwan Seng. The soup is hot, with grounded pepper and it sent wild tingling sensation down the throat as you sip the soup. I had most of the soup to myself!

Fried fish paste enveloped in chicken skin – it was recommended by the very nice and patient waiter but we didn’t like it. The chicken skin is not as crispy as we hoped it would be and somehow, I felt rather geli eating the “soggy” chicken skin.

Kong Pou Dim Kai (Frogs) – this one’s rather good. The mixture of onions, sliced ginger, dried chillis and frogs gave out mouth watering aroma and rather tantalizing to the taste buds.

Coconut Chicken Soup – I would prefer it if we don’t take this together with the fish head noodles. I somehow felt the fish head noodles soup is more appealing to me! But this is a rather tasty soup if you like herbs. We should have just ordered one soupy dish and not two in a row.

Marmite grilled crab – this one’s a winner! It came last as we have finished our rice and everything else, we were thinking we could not finish it. The smaller crabs were all sold out, so we settle for one big crab. Unlike other grilled crabs around Seremban, this is grilled with marmite and it’s quite a delish dish and the crab’s meat managed to stay fresh and sweet.

I still miss the grilled crabs at Kedai Makanan Seremban though, especially the condiment that came with it. Perhaps another time.

What’s the damage? For RM129.00, I think it’s rather reasonable!

Restoran Sin Yit Sing
103, Taman A.S.T.,
Jalan Labu Lama,
70000 Seremban
Tel: 012-602 0122/ 012-678 0968

Noteworthy Melaka

I guess Melaka does not need any more introductions with regards to food, particularly at Jonker’s Walk. I just would like to share some of the noteworthy food in Melaka that I tried over the weekend, away from crazy crowds! You should see the queue at the Chung Wah’s coffee shop selling Hainanese chicken rice ball, where I used to frequent whenever I am in Melaka. Not this time though. It seriously doesn’t make any sense to line up, stand in the heat just for a plate of rice balls!

Yummilicious roasted duck and char siew

1. Kedai Makanan Melo

We were lucky to chance upon this shop. As we were walking out from Aldy Chinatown Hotel towards the car park, we saw a queue for roasted duck and char siew at this coffee shop and decided to join in! A plate of char siew and a piece of duck drumstick cost RM10. We dug in and found the duck to be really delicious! It’s tender, ripe in juice and very pleasing to the tongue. It’s not too hard or too soft. Thinking about it now makes my mouth water for more! The char siew is rather mediocre though.

Kedai Makanan Melo
154D, Jalan Bunga Raya Pantai,
75100 Melaka
Tel: 606-2849331

2. Moods Café at Aldy Chinatown Hotel

For the price of RM230 nett, we were also given 3 vouchers for breakfast. You get to choose big breakfast, cornflakes, etc. The girls went for big breakfast, which consists of a chicken sausage, one hash brown, two toasted bread, omelet, two slices of turkey ham, baked beans, slices of tomato and cucumber. The set comes with a mug of coffee and a glass of orange juice. Priced at RM15 per set, I guess it’s a steal! Where else would you get such big breakfast for such price in KL?? The omelet is worth mentioning because I think I have yet to taste such good omelet before in KL. No picture because I was late for breakfast. We shared 3 sets of big breakfasts among 4 of us because the portions were too big.

148, Jalan Bunga Raya,
75100 Melaka, Malaysia
Tel: 06-2813636
Fax: 06-2816622

Popiah with lard!

Curry laksa

3. Poh Piah Lwee

Strictly for those who love lard! You may opt to leave out the parsley. We had 3 portions of this. The last round I came, I find the popiah skin was rather too thick. This time, the popiah skin was just nice. We had the curry laksa as well. I quite like the curry laksa because it came with generous serving of taufu pok! The girls find it ordinary.

The shop is situated diagonally opposite the SRJK (C) Pay Fong 1.

Poh Piah Lwee
14 Off Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock,
Jalan Kubu,
75300 Malacca
Tel: 06 282 7175
Business hour 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
Closed Mondays

Cendol durian

4. Tart Tart Bakery

I think I did mention a few times of Tart Tart Bakery in my previous outings to Melaka. Tart Tart Bakery is just a stone’s throw away from Chung Wah’s coffee shop (Hainanese chicken rice ball). This time round, we had the durian cheese tart, yam tart and Portuguese egg tart. The durian cheese is really good. The rest were ordinary lah. It’s better to have durian cheese tarts at the restaurant while it’s still fresh. The durian cendol here is also quite tasty. It comes with a dash of durian flesh, and not directly blended with the ice. One of the girls found it a bit off putting. For me, it’s great!

Tart Tart Bakery
45 Lorong Hang Jebat,
Tel: 06- 282 1181

Strawberry Mille Crepe & White Chocolate Cheesecake

5. Nadeje Patisserie

A quick search on the internet showed that Mille Crepe has been in Melaka a long time ago! We only found out about it when YCF showed us the article on Star Metro on Melaka makan-makan. We brought along the newspapers cutting with us. We went to the Dataran Pahlawan’s branch.

It was a really hot day. The café was not packed. But the moment we got ourselves into the shop, droves of people appeared out of nowhere and started coming in as well! We were “lucky” to be seated at the rattan sofa in the air conditioned cafe. So, we thought. Mana tau. Lil was bitten by some bugs from the rattan sofa! I guess it’s better to take away the Mille Crepe instead of having it there.

We had the Strawberry mille crepe and White Chocolate Cheese cake. The Mille Crepe tasted really awesome! The layers of cream and vanilla custards were pleasing to the palate and unlike cheese cakes, this cake is not too filling. Instead of having one slice only, we ordered another double chocolate mille crepe to satisfy the glutton in us. We wanted to try the original but the shop insisted that we buy the entire cake if we want to, so we didn’t. Then after sitting there for 30 minutes, we saw other people who came in later, got their original Mille crepe. We were pissed! I guess nobody wanted to buy the entire cake and since it’s already 6 pm, they had no choice to cut and sell them in pieces.

So, remember to take away if you still wish to try the cake even after reading this!

I am glad that Mille Crepe is available in KL/PJ now!

Nadeje Patisserie
Lot No. UB051, 052 & 053
Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall
Jalan Merdeka 5000 Bandar Hilir Melaka
Tel: 06-284 3469

Pengat Durian

6. Nancy’s Kitchen

We were walking along Jonker’s Walk for 15 minutes before the rain suddenly poured mercilessly on us. A quick look around, there were many pubs but we wanted to have some snacks and didn’t wish to eat fries or drink beer. We chanced upon Nancy’s Kitchen and sought refuge from the rain.

Lil had a few meals here before and she enjoyed them very much, especially the assam bak. Since we just had our dinner at San Pedro’s, we opted for some snacks. We chose the kuih koci, lepat kacang and nyonya bak zhang. The waiter recommended a few dishes for us but we told him, we just want some light snacks. He suggested pengat durian, apam balik durian and otak-otak. We just went for the first two and decided to order acar and ngoh hiang.

Ngoh hiang aka bak kien

The pengat durian is a winner! I seriously don’t know what pengat durian is and was rather surprised that it came in the form of glutinous blue and white rice and serve with durian “gravy” and banana slices. Two thumbs up! The other kuehs were okay except for the apam balik durian which is rather mediocre and tasted rather bland. All in all, it was a satisfying meal.

Just as we finished our snacks, the rain decided to pour even more torrential and it had been way past their business hour, 10.30 pm! But the owner, Nancy and her staff were nice enough to let us sit at the dining area to wait for the rain to stop.

Nancy’s Kitchen
No. 7, Jalan Hang Lekir
(3rd Cross Street)
Off Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock
75200 Melaka
Business hour
11.00 am to 5.30 pm
Public Holidays 11.00 am to 9.30pm
(Non stop)
Closed on Tuesdays
Tel: 06-283 6099

Restaurant San Pedro, Melaka

Over the weekend, I made a short trip to Melaka with the girls. It has been 8-9 years since we went to Melaka for the first time together and stayed over at my superior’s humble home. This time, we put up a night at Aldy Chinatown hotel. At RM230 nett, it’s quite a bargain. The room is big and spacious and clean. The downside is probably, we had to climb stairs as there is no elevator. Haha! Lazy people lah!

Before going for this trip, I checked online for blogs for the best Portuguese food along the Portuguese Settlement in Melaka. I didn’t find a really good recommendation. So far, I had eaten in Portuguese settlement at restaurants  mentioned in those blogs 3x and found that the food were rather forgettable and the long wait was totally not worth it. So I looked for really authentic Portuguese food and found this restaurant – San Pedro Restaurant, Melaka. The blog said that, the restaurant closes at 7.30 pm so we better be early. Doesn’t really make any sense to close shop by 7.30 pm on a weekend! I was skeptical.

New face lift to the seaview terrace

My ex superior is from Melaka. She suggested in order to have really authentic Portuguese food, we should look for houses to dine-in instead of having dinner at the rows of shops facing the sea. The newly renovated sea terrace is rather impressive. It’s quite a nice place to take an evening stroll to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, the moment you got out from the car, there will be hordes of restaurant owners and waiters or waitresses hassling you to go to their shops for dinner. We just smiled at them and said, we will consider.

The very obscure signboard

Sharp at 6 pm, we went to San Pedro situated along the D’Aranjo Road (just behind the row of shop) but found the restaurant to be empty. We thought it was not open. The shop was not even locked! We looked at the dilapidated shop and thought, it was closed for good. One of us went inside to check and there was nobody. Just as we decided to leave, two ladies walked by. We asked if this shop is closed for good, one of the ladies said, it’s open and she will cook for us. The ladies are the owners of the shop! Haha! A quick check with them, the shop opens at 6 pm to 10 pm. Not too sure when it’s closed though, but you may want to give them a call if you decided to visit.

Inside Restaurant San Pedro

The owner did confess that, she would close shop as soon as she sold all her fish. She limits her fish to only 8 per day and as soon as her customers who called to book came, she would leave the shop early. I guess the blogger who said, the shop close at 7.30 pm must have found the shop on a very good day because all fishes would be finished by then. He probably got the last fish!

We asked for recommendations and the cook suggested these few dishes – baked fish, fried brinjal, squid fritters and Debal’s curry. I think I had been to the restaurants facing the sea a few times to try their Debal’s curry or Devil’s curry but never get the chance because they always don’t have it! So, we decided to go ahead with the dishes recommended. After 40 minutes wait, the food was served!

Baked Fish

The baked fish (ikan merah was used) had slightly smoky smell. I didn’t like it at first bite but somehow, as you eat more, the flesh of the fish is rather sweet and melts in your mouth. So it’s quite a delight to tuck in. The fish was baked to perfection – it was neither overcooked nor undercooked, which is good. It’s really refreshing to finally have a good baked fish, unlike the previous times of baked fish – they are always tasted rather bland and served “swimming” in chilli oil!

Fried brinjal

The fried brinjal was cooked with sambal dried shrimps. We like this because it’s not too oily and the texture of the brinjal is still intact.

Debal’s curry

The Debal’s curry is everyone’s favorite. I would prefer the chicken to be more cooked but the girls prefer it this way – just nice. The chicken is smooth, the dish is laced with generous slices of potatoes and onions. The curry has a distinctive taste, not something that we are used to and it’s not too salty. After we have eaten everything, my ex superior still dipped her spoon into the curry and lapped everything up!

Squid fritters

The squids fritters are equally good because they are not over coated with thick flour. They are sweet and springy. The chilli condiment that came with it is a real winner. I even used the condiment on the fried brinjal!

As we were tucking away in our delicious meal, a family came to pack their baked fish which they pre-ordered. Then a guy in big motorbike, who traveled all the way from Singapore came alone. From the warm welcome he received from the owner, I guess he’s probably a local boy who went to Singapore to work.  He had the squid fritters and fried brinjal.

For RM78 for 4 persons – with freshly squeezed orange and lime as drinks, I gather it’s a pretty much satisfying meal. I guess this beats dining at the much more crowded and over commercialized restaurants facing the sea. So, the rule of the thumb – restaurants packed to the brim indicated good food do not apply here!

Restaurant San Pedro
4 Aranjo Road
Portuguese Settlement
Ujong Pasir
75050 Melaka
Tel: 06-2842170