Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tomatoes from Cameron Highlands

It was the Perak Sultan's birthday weekend and my family planned a trip to the nearby Cameron Highlands for a weekend escapade. With the new road from Simpang Pulai ready, the journey from our hometown to Cameron only took about 1.5 hours, compared to 2.5 hours using the Tapah road.

By the time we reached Cameron, it was around 10.30am and our first agenda was to visit one of our relatives in Tringkap. His wife and him are tomato farmers, owning a large tomato plantation nearby. We were lucky to catch them when they were both free, and they gladly gave us a tour to their orchard. :) The road to the orchard was really bumpy, steep and dirty, so much so that a normal sedan is not advised to drive in there. Of course, we had the privilege of riding in what the farmers rode - a pick-up truck!

This was the truck that all TEN of us rode in! All of us sat at the back and bumped our way through. *LOL* The smart me brought a cap so that I wouldn't get sunburnt. Even though the highlands are supposed to have cooler weather, in the afternoon, it was just hot! Thankfully the journey took a mere 15 minutes.

Ready to rough it out

We were even greeted with nice scenery along the way. Just like this flower plantation on our way in. So many colours and all blooming nicely!

Blooming flowers

This was the type of road that the truck went through. It was so narrow that when there was an oncoming car, we had to really squeeze to the side of the road! Very dangerous. Not to mention bumpy too. I found a trick such that when the roads are bumpy, it is wiser to stand up or lift your butt from the seat to avoid merciless punches to your buttocks!

Dirt road

Finally, we reached the tomato orchard. It was so huge and green!

Tomato plants

Can you see the transparent tubes hanging from the top to the plants? They are used for watering the tomatoes automatically. The art of planting tomatoes is not to be belittled. Everything here (except for harvesting) is automated. In fact, the watering is also customized according to the weather. When it is hot, the duration and interval would be different compared to when it is rainy season. Very hi-tech huh?

More tomato plants

Besides, the cost of planting tomatoes is not cheap at all. Talking to our relatives revealed that the monthly cost for planting tomatoes is up to RM50k! They have about 15 workers, with wages of roughly RM800/month. This will translate to approximately RM12k. Apart from that, the water to the tomatoes is actually infused with fertilizer. To water and fertilize the whole orchard requires a cost of RM1k a DAY! Can you imagine? That's a freaking RM30k/month just for fertilizer! Add everything up with other miscellaneous charges and fees, the monthly cost could easily run into RM50k. Definitely not a cheap business.

Raw tomatoes

Look at these freshly picked tomatoes! Very big and juicy, but a little dirty. :)

Freshly picked tomatoes

We found baskets and baskets of tomatoes in their makeshift factory nearby. Look at the one that I was holding in the picture? There's a weird little bump in the middle of the tomato, like it was in the middle of shitting. *LOL*


Later on, I found an even weirder tomato. OMG, are you thinking what I'm thinking? :P

Another weird tomato

I spotted this huge machine in the factory too. It looked old and dusty, and I thought it wasn't being used anymore. Can you guess what it is?


It was actually a tomato-cleaning machine! The silly me thought that it was not in use anymore, but we were feasted with a trial run. Firstly, the freshly picked tomatoes would be fed into the metal container at the starting point. When the machine is on, the rollers would carry the tomatoes up the slope.

Tomato-cleaning process

Did you notice a fan blowing down in one of the pictures? It works to blow away the dirt that is brushed off from the tomato skin. Very creative, don't you think? The tomatoes are cleaned by the rotating brushes before they are sent for 'sizing'! I personally think that the sizing part is a marvellous idea! When I first saw the holes on the machine, I was wondering what were they for? It turned out that each row of holes has different sizes. The smaller holes are for smaller tomatoes, while the larger holes are for large tomatoes. When the tomatoes can go through the holes, they are considered to be of that hole's size. These categorized tomatoes are then used to fill up carton boxes with a weighing machine below. Whenever each box reaches 10kg, it will be sealed off and sent to the dealer. Really cool.

Awesome tomato-sizing machine

10kg yet?

Packing/sealing machine

Packing and sealing boxes of tomatoes

When the tomatoes were cleaned, we went to the box of the XXL size (the largest box at the end) and found some really huge tomatoes! Just like this one that I was holding, the size of my palm. My relative saw our excitement and gave us the huge tomato to bring home. :))

Biggest tomato

The visit to the tomato orchard was really quite an eye-opening experience. Who was to know that planting tomatoes require such high cost? I'm so going to see tomatoes from a different perspective from now on, knowing how they come about. ;)

Witch with tomatoes

Monday, April 27, 2009

What is unconditional love?

I believe everyone has heard of this phrase 'unconditional love' before. But does everyone truly appreciate and understand what it means? When you think about it, this phrase indeed bears a deeper meaning that it appears to be. Many people think that they are giving their partners unconditional love, especially when they are in love. or during the early stages of courtship But have you ever asked yourself, would you still be with the same partner if he/she
  • has an incurable disease?
  • lost all his money and is surrounded by debts?
  • wants to relocate permanently to another location which is far far away from your own family?
  • meets with an accident and becomes permanently paralysed/handicapped/etc so much so that constant care is required from you?
  • does not have the capability to breed?
Now for those who are married, perhaps they might think there's no choice but to stick with the same partner and try to make the best out of it. But for those who are just in a relationship, what if one day you discover your partner to have one of those things listed above? Do you think it will change the way you love your partner? I'm not saying that I'm being cynical but really, when you think rationally, don't you think most people would flee if given a choice?

I think I would not. What about you?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I am addicted!

Oh my gosh! Lately, I've been playing this game on Facebook almost all day long! It's called Restaurant City, and it's fun! Many of my friends are playing it as well and we're getting competitive baby! If you haven't played Restaurant City before, you should!

Restaurant City game

It actually starts with you having 2 employees and a few tables and chairs in a small restaurant. Once you start playing, people will visit your restaurant and your cook and waiter would serve them. Each plate food costs $2 and 1.0 gourmet point. The gourmet point actually defines when you can get a level up. I don't remember the exact levels, but with each level up, you get to have either a larger restaurant space (to serve more customers) or an extra employee. Both are actually very useful in gaining popularity because if you serve more customers, you will get more thumbs-up, and eventually more money and gourmet points.

However, the trick here is that the employees will only have a certain level of energy to operate your restaurant. Apparently, 100% energy would last up to 3 hours. With lower energy level, their speed becomes slower and you will get more customers' complaints. There are a few types of complaints that you could get from a customer:
  • No available seats
  • Table is not cleared
  • Service too slow
When any of the three items above occurs, you will get a thumbs-down, which reduces the popularity points, resulting in less customers to frequent your restaurant. Therefore, it is very important to strike the perfect balance between serving the most number of customers without delaying the speed of service. After a while, you start to get a hang of it and experience with various layout plans. Oh, did I mention that you can even go to the streets and visit your friends' restaurants? Whenever you visit a new friend, you get a free ingredient, which can be used for your menu.

Speaking of ingredients, there are three category of food that you can serve namely Starters, Main and Desserts. Each category has a long list of dishes available such as Mushroom soup or Chicken and Leek soup for starters, Simple Mango Pudding or Sundae for desserts and so on.

Ingredients for Simple Mango Pudding

But, in order to cook these dishes, you need specific ingredients. Once you successfully collect all the ingredients required (such as Milk, Mango and Lime for Mango pudding - gosh, I can memorize the ingredients!), you will gain Level 1 for that particular dish. Even the dishes have levels! So in order go get to Level 2 for that dish, you need to collect another round of the same ingredients. Of course, collecting ingredients is not really that easy. There are a few ways to do this:
  • Free new ingredient with daily login
  • Bonus free ingredient if you can answer a food quiz correctly daily
  • Free ingredient with every visit to a new restaurant owner
  • Trade ingredients with other owners to get what you want
With higher level of dishes, you get higher gourmet points. For example, a Level 1 dish would gain 1.0 gourmet point, whereas a Level 2 dish would gain 1.2 gourmet point and so on. Higher gourmet points, as I mentioned earlier, would get us to the next level at a faster speed.

Finally, what do you do with the money, you ask? Well there are plenty of ways to spend the money, so much so that I'm always left broke! I did something wrong in the beginning of the game actually. It is advisable to keep the money at first to buy chairs and tables to fit more customers. However, the silly and noob me bought a new door, new signboard and new windows in the beginning of the game that I was left with no money to buy furniture. Tables and chairs are very important if you want to serve more customers to get to the next level!

When you still have extra money, you could decorate your restaurant with different floor tiles, wallpaper, tables, chairs, stoves as well as decorative items like jukebox or fountains. Externally, you could also change the outlook of the restaurant by changing the roof, the walls, the doors or the windows. Those with more money could even buy decorative items or plants to decorate the exterior. Some of my friends have really grand restaurants that make my restaurant look like plain Jane. Fear not! I shall chase them soon. *evil laugh*

I am currently only at Level 7. :( Very slow progress, but steady. Try this game. It's really addictive! :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good Friend Seafood and Satay

So it was our second outing in 2 weeks with the sickawans. This time, we decided to go for seafood instead. Yen initially suggested to go the seafood place in Gertak Sanggul. Since most of us had not been there before, we all agreed. Unfortunately for me and Chiaoju, the drive to Gertak Sanggul wasn't really a pleasant one. It was rather winding and narrow, resulting in both of us feeling nauseaous and dizzy. The worst part was, after the painstaking journey there, the restaurant turned out to be closed for that day! *curses* Seriously, both of us girls just sighed out aloud and started complaining to Yen. Sorry Yen, girls are mean when they're hungry. :P Anyway, I couldn't help but notice that Gertak Sanggul was really quite a lovely fishing village, despite the winding journey.

Since our first plan was spoiled, we decided to go to our second choice, which was Teluk Kumbar Seafood Restaurant a.k.a. Good Friend Restaurant (公巴好友海鲜) to the locals. Thank goodness the place wasn't as packed as weekends, and we managed to find a parking and a table in no time.

Good Friend/Teluk Kumbar Seafood restaurant

Kitchen/Drinks area

Guess what was the first priority there? Satay! I really LOVE the satay there and we placed an order before we even found our table. The satay stall was just outside the seafood restaurant, near the car park area. It would be difficult to miss it.

Satay stall

This stall still used the old-fashioned way of charcoal to barbecue the meat skewers. The uniqueness of this satay lies in the fact that it doesn't need any gravy or sauce for accompaniment. It tastes great even on its own! (sounds like Gardenia's tagline :P)

Satay on charcoal fire

Before long, our satay order arrived, and both Chiaoju and I digged in, and sighed simultaneously. We both just reached heaven and back. Seriously, it was THAT good. Probably add the fact that we were already famished, hence doubling the satisfaction of that very first bite. The meat was well marinated, and the outer layer was covered with heavenly sauce. Each bite just sent a shock to my spine. Of course, that only lasted until my 3rd or 4th skewer. :)

Heavenly satay

I highly recommend this satay if anyone ever goes to Teluk Kumbar Seafood Restaurant. It is a MUST. In fact, it would by my highlight rather than the seafood. *LOL*

No sauce required

After our starters of satay, our main dishes arrived. Starting with the fried calamari rings, which were perfect and not soggy. I had an experience from another shop where there was still uncooked flour/batter within the rings! It was gross! Luckily, this seafood place did it right and we all finished the rings without much effort.

Deep fried calamari rings

Secondly, there was the steamed octopus. I personally don't really like octopus but I still ate a few pieces. I'm not sure if it was me, but there was a slight smell on this plate of octopus. I don't know how to describe it, I wonder if it's the smell of the sea or it wasn't completely cooked yet. Anyway, I didn't really like this dish.

Steamed octopus

We also ordered the fried beancurd, which was home made. The beancurd was soft and smooth, very delicious either eating it plain or with chilli sauce.

Deep fried home made beancurd

Stan ordered this dish called bamboo clams. I notice he never failed to order this whenever we had seafood. :) Anyway, it's quite nice. Tasted like normal lala clams, just looked longer. The sauce went very well with rice too!

Bamboo clams

What's seafood without fish? We ordered a steamed fish, I forgot what fish (probably siakap). The fish turned out to be a disappointment. The meat was not fresh at all. It was soggy and soft, just like fish which had been frozen for a long period before being cooked. I didn't really eat much of this fish.

Steamed fish

Last but not least, we ordered the fried mee tiau (a type of Teochew noodles) with seafood. Since we didn't eat rice on that night, the noodles served as our accompaniment to all our dishes. They were fried pretty well, just a tad oily. You can't really see from this picture but there were fish balls, fish fillet, prawns and calamari rings in the noodles as well. I wouldn't mind ordering this again in my next visit.

Fried 'mee tiau'

Overall, I think the food in Teluk Kumbar Seafood Restaurant was above average. The price was also pretty reasonable, at RM64 for 4 persons (exclude satay) with fruit juices. Plus, you get to literally eat by the seaside with the sunset as the backdrop. :) Not a bad environment at all.

Teluk Kumbar Seafood Restaurant
84 Mk 9, Teluk Kumbar 11920 penang
Tel : 04 - 6491 403 (Closed on Tuesday)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

All about Bak Kut Teh

Sometimes when the weather is rainy or on the cold side, I would crave longingly for a pot of hot bak kut teh. On one such day, when I was in PJ, I asked Saucer where to get bak kut teh, and we did some blog-hopping and found this place right in SS2 itself. It was just so near Saucer's place so we decided to give it a try. It was already almost 8.30pm when we reached, and we were the only customers that time. Not good. I don't mean to judge a book by its cover, but I couldn't help it!

We were served with Chinese crullers (yau char kwai) not long after we ordered.

Chinese crullers (yau char kwai)

There were also plenty of chilli, garlic and soy sauce on each table. Pretty much a paradise for garlic-lover like Saucer.

Chilli and garlic

Since we were the only customers there, our order arrived shortly - steaming claypot of bak kut teh for 2 persons. The soup was slightly clear, just like a Teo Chew style soup, and there were lots of meat inside. I actually asked for an extra portion of bean curd skin or 'foo chok' but they turned out to the the raw type instead of the fried type. Confused? You'll know what I mean if you continue reading. :) Anyway, the soup here was slightly bland and the meat was also tasteless.


Worst of all, the foo chok was not what I expected! Wasted my money. The cost of the whole meal with two white rice was about RM23 or 24. Definitely not cheap either. Saucer and I vowed never to visit this place anymore in the future. No wonder it was so quiet.

Steaming hot

Teo Chew Bak Kut Teh
26, 28 Jalan SS2/66,
47300 PJ, Selangor
Tel: 03-7875 2025

Now, since my craving for foo chok was not entirely satisfied, we searched around again for bak kut teh (BKT) and managed to find this place near Subang Airport. This place was rather far and out of the way, but since it was a Saturday morning, we figured we didn't mind the drive. It took us at least 30 minutes to reach there with GPS' help. Now that I know it's just so near the Subang airport, I think we could have reached there faster if we had taken the airport route.

Anyway, we reached this Teo Chew Bak Kut Teh place around 11am and the place was fully-packed! Now that is what I call as a good BKT place. *judgemental* We ordered a BKT pot for 1 person and an extra pot of foo chok. Look at how big the portion was, even for one person! It was just nice for the 2 of us. Plenty of pork meat and ribs, as well as spare parts! Most amazingly, the soup was very delicious and flavourful! I could keep drinking the soup without getting tired of it.

Fatty pork!

And they served the foo chok that I wanted! Deep fried foo chok, immersed in bubbling hot BKT soup - heavenly is the word! The pot of foo chok was so much that we had quite a hard time finishing them. *LOL*

Bubbling hot bean curd skins (foo chok)

Did I mention the soup was amazing? It went very well with rice, and the foo chok! Both Saucer and I loved the BKT here. It was also cheaper compared to the one in SS2. Only RM19 for everything including 2 bowls of rice. I would definitely visit this place again in the future.

Heavenly foo chok

Teo Chew Bak Kut Teh
Lot 653 & 655
Jalan Subang
Bukit Cherakah Subang
Shah Alam
Tel: 019-261 5303

Monday, April 13, 2009

Edelweiss = noble + white

A few weeks ago, Stan was in Penang and asked for a dinner with the 4 sickawans. It was a weekday but I was more than happy to have a simple reunion with my good friends. After much deliberation, we decided to go to Edelweiss Swiss Restaurant for dinner. Since it was a weeknight, the restaurant was pretty quiet. Even the road outside the restaurant was dark and bordered on creepy. I told myself I wouldn't dare to go to this place on my own. It was just too eerie and all other shops on the same road were closed.

Edelweiss restaurant

The entrance of Edelweiss was nicely decorated with plants and colourful lights, so if you're on the correct street (Lebuh Armenian), you wouldn't miss this place.


I loved the interior of Edelweiss. The decorations gave a rustic charm that was somewhat comforting after walking past the deserted and dark road outside. It sort of gave us a warm welcoming feeling with a certain coziness.


The place was very neat and was decorated with many giant clocks!


Old-fashioned lights

Like this big old-fashioned grandfather's clock that was just situated next to a dining table. If our party were smaller, I would have opted to sit right next to it! *LOL*

Huge grandfather's clock

We started with the order of our drinks. Even though it claimed itself as a Swiss restaurant, I couldn't help but notice a hint of German influence in their food, such as the presence of Pork knuckles, pork belly and also the famous German Paulaner beer. Both Yen and Stan ordered the beer and we were treated to quite an interesting presentation from the waitress herself when she poured a whole bottle of beer nicely into a tall glass, with perfection and style. She even made a 360 degree turn at the end of it, just before the last drop!

Pouring beer with a style

As for me, no surprise that I would order boring fruit juice. I ordered the carrot juice, which was freshly squeezed and without sugar. It was naturally sweet. :)

Fresh carrot juice

Look at Yen admiring his beer. Perhaps he's meditating? Or praying that his glass would never go empty? *LOL*

Yen meditating with his beer

And here's how he looked like when he's done with praying. Very happy and all smiles!

Another shot of overly enthusiastic Yen

Before long, our food arrived! My order was the BBQ pork ribs, which was recommended by the waitress there. It was very aromatic and huge in portion! The gravy was absolutely delicious, and the meat very tender. However, I think it would have been much better if they were to marinate the meat a little longer, because the inner part of the ribs was rather bland. Only the outer layer was tasty and juicy.

BBQ pork ribs

Then there was Yen's poached salmon. I know the presentation was a bit boring, and the fish looked very boring as well, but Yen's feedback was the fish was fresh and delicious. Although the portion was not that big, for him that is!

Poached salmon

As for Stan, he likes to order the most unhealthy dish there is to order every time, and without surprise, he chose the Smoked Pork Belly! Look at the layer of fats on the pork! It came with some pasta and two pieces of sausage as well. I have to say the sausage was amazing! I couldn't figure out what sausage it was, perhaps lamb? And the pork belly was done just right. Even though I'm not the biggest fan of fatty meat, Stan cut me a piece and forced me to chew everything down, and I have to admit, it was not half as bad. :) There was no strong pork smell, and the fatty meat actually went very well with the lean pork meat. Of course, one piece was more than enough for me. :P This dish would have been more suitable for pork belly lovers. :)

Smoked pork belly

Last but not least, we ordered the Apple pie dessert, which came with one scoop of Movenpick ice-cream. The pie would have been nicer if it was served warm. But the ice-cream was heavenly! Ending a meal on a sweet tooth always puts a smile on my face. :)

Apple pie with ice-cream

After finishing our meal, I walked around the restaurant taking pictures, since there were no other customers around. The bar was lovely with the many types of liquors and glasses lining up nicely on the wall.

The bar

And I even spotted something hilarious! On the way to the toilet at the back, I noticed this display on top of a cupboard!

Funny toilet

It even came with its own caption:
Sorry this toilet is "taken"
Pull string gently until the end to verify the above
More toilets around the corner

Before we called it a night, the kind waitress offered to take some group pictures for us. Look at how Yen's face had turned to be as red as a tomato!

Say cheese!

I always look forward to small dinner gatherings like this with my very good and close friends. There is another post coming up on another dinner too! At a seafood restaurant. :)

Overall, the food in Edelweiss fared above average based on our humble standards. We also liked the fact that it's quiet and has the traditional, antique feeling when we entered this place. I definitely would not mind visiting it again in the future!

Group picture

Edelweiss Cafe
38, Armenian Street,
Georgetown, Penang.
Telephone : 04-2618935
Closed on Monday,
Open Tuesday to Friday : 12 noon to 3.00 pm and 6.30 pm to 10.00 pm
Saturday : 12 noon to 10.00 pm
Sunday : 12 noon to 7.00 pm only