Saturday, February 10, 2007

Penang Good Food Guide (Part 4)

Penang has always been famous for its good food. It's no exaggeration when we Penangites say we have the best food here. We're not being arrogant, we're just stating the facts and we will always defend the food here. So, you should know what you're up against when you openly challenge Penang's status as the food capital of Malaysia (if not the world). You just don't poke a lion with a stick, do you? You know you'll face certain death and it's the same when you challenge Penangites about their food. If you've not read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, you may want to read them first.

Any guide for Penang food won't be complete without the mention of Assam Laksa, supposedly what Penang is most famous for. Most would point to the stall at the Air Itam Market (at the foot of Kek Lok Si) as the best place to get Assam Laksa but I beg to differ. The soup is more watery nowadays and you don't get to taste chunks of fish meat anymore. I stay nearby anyway, so I should know better, no?

To get delicious Assam Laksa, you would have to travel all the way to the Balik Pulau market, on the part of the island which is still safe from the curse of urbanisation (although not for long). You would have to cross mountains and pass through windy roads to reach this secluded town, and still many will brave the long journey there, all for a bowl of Assam Laksa. Not only will you find good Assam Laksa, it is easy on your pocket too. However, the cost of petrol and time used to get there and back would probably defeat any savings earned.

Koay Teow Th'ng is very much overlooked when one goes to any hawker centre. If you are one that loves this delicacy, you may consider going all the way to Taman Seri Nibong for some famous Duck Meat Koay Teow Th'ng. At night, you can find the finest Duck Meat Koay Teow Th'ng at this outlet called Dhoby Ghaut Cafe located at the entrance of Taman Seri Nibong.

Dhoby Ghaut Cafe Duck Meat Koay Teow Th'ng

You may want to consider ordering the Bean Sprouts Dish which is very well fried here. If you want some Duck Meat Koay Teow Th'ng during the daytime, the coffee shop on the other side of the road (also at the entrance to Taman Seri Nibong) is also very well known.

You can taste some famous Hokkien Prawn Mee at the corner coffee shop opposite the Pulau Tikus police station for breakfast. Be there early as it will be sold out by around 9am. If you are looking from the police station, it's the coffee shop on the right although the one on the left seems to have more variety. There will also be a van parked nearby selling very delicious pancakes which you can get to supplement your Hokkien Prawn Mee.

But if you're looking for some kick-ass pancakes, Aki Pancake is what you're looking for.

Aki Pancake

You can just see the mount of people queeing up to grab some of their pancakes. Just heavenly. They have a whole list of creative pancakes for you to choose from. Seriously, you can practically call any type of pancakes here. This stall is located at the Super Tanker Food Court at Taman Lip Sin.

Super Tanker Food Court at Taman Lip Sin

Many USM students and factory workers can be seen frequenting this food court during lunch and dinner. There's a wide variety of food you can get here but Aki Pancakes is a must eat here.

If you're looking to enjoy some night life in Penang, Upper Penang Road is the place to be. The Garage opposite E&O Hotel play host to some of the hippiest and trendiest clubs and bars in town such as Slippery Senoritas, Glo and Momo.

Upper Penang Road

Momo may be Singapore's sexiest dance club but you may want to say "No-No" to the Penang version. The music is not that good and the crowd not that desirable. It's still new so there's still room for improvement. Glo is the place to be but Slippery Senoritas is not bad either.

Upper Penang Road

So there you have it. Enjoy your visit to Penang!

Penang Good Food Guide (Part 3)

Penang has always been famous for its good food. It's no exaggeration when we Penangites say we have the best food here. We're not being arrogant, we're just stating the facts and we will always defend the food here. So, you should know what you're up against when you openly challenge Penang's status as the food capital of Malaysia (if not the world). You just don't poke a lion with a stick, do you? You know you'll face certain death and it's the same when you challenge Penangites about their food. If you've not read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, you may want to read them first.

Apart from Chinese cuisine, Penang also has a myriad of other cuisines to offer. The most famous of all being Nasi Kandar. Our former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's favourite is rumoured to be the Nasi Kandar served at Craven (near Komtar and Gama Supermarket). Nasi Kandar stalls are popping up everywhere on the island. From the large franchises of Pelita, Subaidah and Craven to the smaller traditional shops like Line Clear, Ali and Raffe, there's plenty of Mamak food to go around.

I find this Kayu outlet at Bukit Jambul (near Vistana Hotel) to serve very good Nasi Kandar.

Original Kayu Nasi Kandar

If it tells you it is the ORIGINAL Kayu Nasi Kandar, you better believe it is. Original or not, the food here is wonderful but you may want to make a visit to the ATM first before coming here. It'll cost you an arm and a leg to dine at this place! Opt for the Nasi Briyani and you may want to try their cuttlefish, prawns, crabs and cuttlefish eggs. I'm salivating as I type! ~slurp~ Not a place to frequent everyday if you know what's good for your wallet and health but I just don't understand how the staff at USM can afford coming here practically everyday!

I used to frequent Line Clear during my teens but it has somehow lost it's sparkle through the years. If Subaidah and their gory pink outfit doesn't scare me away, the incredibly sweet drinks (even when you emphasise on kurang manis) will. Pelita is not bad but Kayu still comes out tops. I've heard and experienced being cheated at Raffe so many times, I've been avoiding it like the plague.

If you want to taste good Roti Canai, you should go to this stall by the roadside at Transfer Road.

Transfer Road Roti Canai

Good roti canai is very much dependent not only on the curry it is served with but how well the dough has been flipped to give you that chewy, fluffy taste. You get them all here at this stall. It may not be the most hygienic (or safe) place to have breakfast since this road is quite busy but very much worth the risk. If you prefer some meat with your roti canai, you can order various curried meat for RM2.50. They only serve roti kosong and roti telur but you'll know why this is the place to have roti canai once you put some in your mouth.

Your trip to Penang is never complete if you've not tasted the famous Sup Hameed along Penang Road (not too far from Cititel Penang).

Sup Hameed

It may state on the signboard that they are open 24 hours but you may want to try going in the evening instead, maybe for supper before you hit the bed. The soup ain't cheap but you'll definitely crave for more. Best taken with Benggali bread.

More mouthwatering dishes in Part 4 of Penang Good Food Guide.

Penang Good Food Guide (Part 2)

Penang has always been famous for its good food. It's no exaggeration when we Penangites say we have the best food here. We're not being arrogant, we're just stating the facts and we will always defend the food here. So, you should know what you're up against when you openly challenge Penang's status as the food capital of Malaysia (if not the world). You just don't poke a lion with a stick, do you? You know you'll face certain death and it's the same when you challenge Penangites about their food. If you've not read Part 1 of this series, you may want to read it first.

From the newly opened New World Park food court, we now go to another famous makan place to find delicious Char Koay Teow. The place to find really good Char Koay Teow is at New Lane (off Macalister Road) where Sunway Hotel Georgetown is situated.

New Lane

Again, you will find many stalls selling the same stuff but only one that is exceptionally good. The famous Char Koay Teow stall is quite hidden so you may have to go around searching for it but trust me, it will be worth the while. Look out for this stall selling Popiah.

New Lane Char Koay Teow

The Char Koay Teow stall is right behind it. One plate will set you back FOUR BUCKS but worth every sen of it. The portion is quite small but at least that will ensure there's still space for other delicious food, no? Oh, and if anyone comes up to you asking if you would like Fried Oyster, reject her on the spot! Her Fried Oyster is simply horrible!

You may have heard of the Two Sisters Char Koay Teow on the other side of Macalister Road but seriously, they are so overrated. The one in Lorong Selamat is not so bad but too snobish for my liking. Actually there is this famous roadside stall selling Char Koay Teow along Anson Road (opposite Ban Hin Bee) that is cooked over a charcoal stove. I tell you there is no way you can get such delectable Char Koay Teow as the one found at this stall anywhere on Earth. Unfortunately, after many attempts I didn't manage to find the stall open. Even my grandparents continue to crave over this Char Koay Teow!

The stalls at New Lane will only open at night. Same goes to this place where you can find one of the best (if not the best) Wan Than Mee and Curry Mee on the island. This place is on Chulia Street, nearer to the Kapitan Keling Mosque.

Chulia Street

Look out for these two stalls next to each other for they are the famous ones. The old lady selling Wan Than Mee and the old man selling Curry Mee.

Chulia Street Wan Than Mee

Chulia Street Curry Mee

The Wan Than Mee comes with fried lard which is the most important ingredient in making any food tasty. Not very good for the heart but definitely good for your taste buds and the soul, and it only costs RM2.20.

Chulia Street Wan Than Mee

You should find a table right behind the Curry Mee stall. Although both the stalls are equally as busy, the Curry Mee stall will easily forget your orders so sitting behind them and constantly reminding them will ensure you get your food. One bowl is only RM2.30 but do remember to check that you're given the right change. They are known to forget giving back your change! You may want to call for the Nutmeg Juice from the fruit juice stall next to the Curry Mee stall. Nutmeg is sort of the official state fruit of Penang.

Chulia Street Curry Mee

You'll find another two stalls down the road (nearer to the mosque) but with less customers. Can you see a pattern developing here? If the food is good and famous, you would most likely find two stalls of the same food trying to get your business. I guess the less famous stall is just hoping for spillover customers.

Discover some delicious non-Chinese Penang cuisine in Part 3 of Penang Good Food Guide!

Penang Good Food Guide (Part 1)

Penang has always been famous for its good food. It's no exaggeration when we Penangites say we have the best food here. We're not being arrogant, we're just stating the facts and we will always defend the food here. So, you should know what you're up against when you openly challenge Penang's status as the food capital of Malaysia (if not the world). You just don't poke a lion with a stick, do you? You know you'll face certain death and it's the same when you challenge Penangites about their food. So Kenny, here's to you reaching 'heaven' from eating Penang's scrumptious food.

Ais Kachang

Kajang may have its Satay, Ampang its Yong Tau Foo, Ipoh its Taugeh Chicken or Malacca its Chicken Rice Balls but when it comes to Penang, the list of good food goes on and on. From Assam Laksa to Hokkien Prawn Mee to Char Koay Teow to Nasi Kandar. You can find tasty food at practically every corner. Not many will disappoint your taste buds. That's the difference between Penang and the other places. Of course, there will always be a few that belong to the elite category so determining which is actually the best is not that easy. It depends on each and everyone's own preference. Anyway, here are some of my favourite spots. This is by no means a comprehensive list, though.

Let's start off with New World Park Food Court at Swatow Lane (off Burmah Road), the most happening food court in Penang at the moment. You know it is one happening place when you see one of this inside. >>CLICK!<<

New World Park Food Court at Swatow Lane

So what is famous here? Look out for this stall located right smack in the middle of the food court surrounded with human bodies. You can't miss it.

New World Park Ais Kachang and Chendol at Swatow Lane

It's the dessert stall famous for its Ais Kacang and Chendol. Some may claim the one at Penang Road to be the best in Penang but I find the Ais Kacang and especially the Chendol here to be heavenly. The price of a trip to heaven and back? Only RM1.50 for a bowl of Chendol. The price of Ais Kacang will differ depending on the type of fruits you request as toppings.

New World Park Chendol at Swatow Lane

What else should you try here? There are plenty of stalls to choose from here but you may want to try the famous Mee Sultan.

New World Park Mee Sultan at Swatow Lane

They serve one of the best Mee Goreng and Mee Rebus in town but at a price of course. One plate could easily set you back FOUR BUCKS!!!

New World Park Mee Goreng at Swatow Lane

If you're not up for their Mee Goreng, you may want to consider their Pasembur.

New World Park Pasembur at Swatow Lane

Some may have recommended the Char Koay Teow here. There are two stalls here. The one next to the Fried Oyster (workers of both stalls wear light green shirts) is the famous one.

New World Park Char Koay Teow at Swatow Lane

The old lady that fries each plate sports a very trendy eyewear, so you really can't miss it. However, I find her to be very arrogant and her dish not that delicious anymore, not forgetting the exorbitant prices she charges! I guess I'm not the only one that feels that way considering the lack of customers frequenting her stall nowadays. Everytime I was there, I see her just sitting down swatting flies. That can't be a good sign.

I would recommend this place for Char Koay Teow instead. Read Penang Good Food Guide (Part 2).

You Know A Place Is Happening

You know a place is happening when you see one of this!

New World Park Autopay Parking

An AutoPay payment machine for parking usually found in shopping complexes. But when you find one here...

New World Park Autopay Parking the newly opened New World Park Food Court, you know that place is going places. Of course, this is where the famous roadside stalls from nearby Swatow Lane are located now, so there won't be a short of customers but to have an AutoPay system employed is definitely a good indication this is one happening place to be.

Of course when a food court has fountains and wash basins like these...

New World Park Wash Basin know it is in a league of its own.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Farlim Gets Air Itam Estate

This bit of news is very important to me for the simple fact that the court ruling [PDF] involves the land where my house is currently built on.
Court rules in favour of Farlim

PENANG: A High Court has ordered six beneficiaries of a 120ha land in Air Itam Estate and a developer to transfer the property worth RM32mil to Farlim Properties Sdn Bhd.

Justice Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah allowed yesterday Farlim Properties' suit against defendants Goh Keat Poh and five others, beneficiaries of the estate of Chor Bar Say, and Gerak Indera Sdn Bhd for specific performance of a sales and purchase (S&P) agreement dated Jan 23, 1992.

The court ordered the beneficiaries and Gerak Indera to transfer the property to Farlim Properties upon the latter paying the agreed purchase price of RM32mil to the beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries were also ordered to pay damages to Farlim Properties for inducing breach of the contract, and to pay compensation to Farlim Properties for breaching the agreement.

Gerak Indera was ordered to pay damages to Farlim for inducing the breach of the agreement. [...]
We've been told for years that we have to relocate soon because the land which we reside on has been sold to a major developer and will be redeveloped soon. It seems however, my mom had been hearing this piece of news since she was a little kid and 50 years down the road, we are still residing on the very land rumoured to be redeveloped half a century ago. Looks like things will change in the following years with this court ruling.

When younger, I was confused regarding the status of our house (and the land it is on). I only knew of freehold and leasehold properties but it seems our house was neither of those two. All I know is the land wasn't ours (although the house legally is) and we would have to move when the rightful owner demands us to. I just couldn't understand why such a transaction could have been agreed upon since it seems so unfavourable to us.

Anyway, rumours that we have to vacate our land has been getting louder and louder with every passing year and we've started to make plans when that day eventually comes. Looks like we were spot on this time. The settlement may take awhile (a few years probably) but nothing can deny the fact that we are inching closer and closer to the day we eventually have to move out.

Some had the misconception that we need not worry considering we are related to the beneficiaries of the estate of Chor Bar Say. Many even think we will receive a small amount from the proceeds of the land sale. I can assure you they are wrong and we will not see a drop of that RM32 million. Why? Because we are not the direct descendants of the late Chor Bar Say. We may have blood relations to the wife of the late Chor Bar Say, but that only makes us very distant relatives. So, anyone assuming we are hitting it rich or do not need to worry about relocating can't be further from the truth.

Anyway, I see inheritance as some sort of a jackpot and just something extra. It's good if you do get it but not critical to the extend you will suffer if you don't. I rather depend on myself to make my own money. That's why I never expect any inheritance and it's the same here. Anyway, I can say for sure we are not even qualified to be beneficiaries, so it's a non-starter and we are definitely not eyeing for the money. We just want a place to stay. That's all we ask for and we hope Farlim will come up with some sort of compensation that will be beneficial for all parties.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Retirement Age: From 56 to 60

Looks like the Government has finally considered increasing the retirement age in Malaysia to 60. [PDF] A timely change if you ask me. Although I'm only at a tender *ahem* age of 27, I've been supporting such a move for years.
Government to study longer term for civil servants

PUTRAJAYA: The Government will study extending the retirement age of civil servants to 60.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the current retirement age of 56 was too low for one to retire.

He said the longer life span and better health enjoyed by Malaysians now should also be taken into account. [...]
So, why do I support this? With medical advancement, our life expectancy have increased through the years, currently averaging about 70/75 (male/female). We are living longer than our forefathers. More people are living to the age of 80 and above. That gives you roughly 25 years of retirement if you would to retire at the age of 56. If you started working at the age of say 20, that would mean you spent about 35 years in the workforce.

Previously, when our life expectancy were lower, we spent less time in retirement, thus having to support our daily needs for a shorter period. And let's not forget that things were much cheaper in those days. So we practically work the same number of years (even shorter if you take into consideration the pursuit for paper qualifications nowadays) but our lifetime savings and investment have to last longer and also fend off the inflation monster.

If the retirement age were to be increased, not only will we cut short the time we spend in retirement (but still with a large chunk available to enjoy retirement life), we would also increase our retirement savings which would eventually translate to better retirement life.

Of course, there will be other economic ramifications such as the problem with unemployment since the workforce turnover (or renewal) will reduce causing young graduates more difficulty in finding jobs. The increased burden for employers to support an aging workforce (especially healthcare) would also increase. However, with the extension of the retirement age, we are extending the purchasing power of potential retirees by an extra four years. Idealistically, that money will go back to the economy (through taxes and commercial purchases) which is good for the Government and businesses. This will eventually create more jobs, thus helping to ease the unemployment of young graduates. It is during the transition period where we will see problems arise.

There are those who are against the increase in retirement age and can't wait to start enjoying retirement life. Of course, even with a higher retirement age, they still have an option for early retirement and they may choose to exercise that right if they wish to do so. They can then pursue their hobbies or trot around the globe as planned earlier.

It is always important to stay active during retirement but many find it difficult to adapt to the sudden change in environment and that's when disease creeps in. Many people are still able to contribute after the age of 56 and they have plenty to offer. Look at our former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad! He's 81 and still working like a horse, embracing the changes that life may bring.

I'm not saying the retirement age should go up to 80 but 60 is a good start and a good figure for now. It's not such an outrageous figure if you consider the retirement age of other nations are already 65 and breaching 70 even, and scientists are already recommending a retirement age of 85 by the year 2050! [PDF]

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

You Know You Are Technologically Backward

You know you are technologically backward when even former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, at the ripe age of 81 is embracing YouTube by making videos and uploading them to the popular video sharing site.

This video was recorded and uploaded to YouTube with the help of his aide to promote the 2007 Perdana Global Peace Forum to criminalise war.

Please excuse me as I go hide in the prehistoric and technologically backward cave where I rightfully belong.