Friday, January 31, 2014

Cavalock and The Street Food Seduction

Happy & Prosperous Year of The Horse to everyone!

Continuing from my last post, so five of us left Sunway Lagoon on a warm hazy Saturday afternoon and headed to Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur city first to set up our new base of operations. It was to be a glorious evening of early feasting as we waited for the three better (or luckier) players in our group to arrive later.

Supper eventually came as the whole gang finally gathered at the hotel lobby at around 10pm. We fast-walked straight to the popular Jalan Alor food street and into Wong Ah Wah restaurant who's famous for their roasted chicken wings. It looked like any other busy zi char joint back home except for the numerous wall photos of celebrities giving the universal thumbs up. Check out their Facebook here and it looks like Trip Advisor likes them too.

Absolutely delicious wings that are so juicy and tender you can easily tear the meat off with just your chopsticks and a Chinese soupspoon. We ordered a ton of other dishes too like the stingray and salted egg sotong, fried dumplings, salted egg pork ribs and familiar veggies. The food was so good that we went back on Sunday night!

Jalan Alor was still pretty much the same as how I remembered it two years ago. There's that unexpected element of lawlessness to the whole place that makes it all the more appealing. There's even a group of young strolling street musicians belting out the latest hits. Best (non-food related) part of the evening was the fireworks display that lighted up the night sky unexpectedly at a little past 11pm and the spectacle lasted for over five minutes. I don't believe I have even had supper with fireworks going off just above my head before. It's quite an exhilarating experience eyeing that firework trail descending right towards you as you tuck into your late night supper. A few came really close!

Here are more glorious Jalan Alor food pix as we pounded the street both day and night. These are just some of them and from clockwise we got a very fruity rojak, tissue-thin oyster omelette, a cauldron of frog legs and lottsa clams. They may sound familiar but believe me when I say they are different from our versions. There was a guy selling freshly squeezed pure pomegranate juice, wanted to get it but was too full by then.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cavalock and The Food Grand Prix Part Deux

I finally caught a break from my caregiving duties to spend a weekend with the guys at the biennial Magic: The Gathering Kuala Lumpur Grand Prix. The last time we were in the Malaysian capitol was two years ago in March and to be honest, this year was more of a makan trip masquerading as a gaming expedition.

We had a blast when we were there in 2012 and you can see the food and game pix when you stroll down here. We were a bigger group of eight this year compared to just five back then. Plus we were a little more realistic towards our gaming goals now as we know we were unlikely to advance to Day 2 of the competition where the top 100 plus will be. This is especially so when you consider the fact that we didn't have time to practise at all! We decided to turn our KL trip into more of a foodie trip, to stuff our faces with cheap, delicious and mouth-watering street food for three days!

Since I believe folks reading this are more into food than gaming, here's my first unforgettable meal just across the road from Sunway Lagoon Pyramid Hotel. I apologise for not getting the name of the kopi tiam but it's right in front, facing the hotel. It was filled with locals having lunch and there were several tempting stalls to choose from, all looking great but we were hungry for some rice and so we headed straight for the nasi brani one in the centre.

From familiar spicy sotongs to exotic fried quails, there was simply so much to pick from but I decided to start easy with the above selection (with free egg!). Kinda strange how they settled the bill here as they don't collect it after you picked your order in the queue, they'll come to your table later after you finished your meal. Plus I think the regulars there get to pick their dishes like in a buffet line. Don't ask me how much my bill was cos we paid as a group but it was cheap. I guess that's another reason why I can never be a food blogger! Anyway, we knew we were off to a good start after such an amazing first meal.

All right, now here's the part where I go into full geek mode and when most normal (non-geek) people should stop reading. So we flew to KL on early Friday morning to attend the Magic KL Grand Prix at Sunway Lagoon Resort but not having practised at all for the tournament, we decided to just make this a relaxing eat-all-day-and-night-long weekend with gaming as a side event for us rather than the main course.

Thanks to my uniquely Singaporean kiasu instinct, I was the first in our group to jump into the queue to register for the tournament in the afternoon. Well, some in our group didn't wanna join the super-long queue, some haven't arrived yet while some were looking for me in the main hall, sorry bout that cos I immediately leapt into the queue when I saw it forming right in front of my eyes and I didn't tell them! I was afraid of the freebies running out cos that's what happened to me in a previous Grand Prix. I let a couple of my friends (the ones who went searching for me!) cut into my queue and we got what we came for bout half hour later.

When I met up with the rest later in the shopping mall, I asked them to go sign up ASAP but they insisted that they still had time to do so later. Well, guess who had freebie playmats and who didn't at the end of the day. :)

Now we were so determined to make this a makan trip that all of us had already planned to check out on Day 1 Saturday! Half of us even dropped out of the tournament after only a few matches as we wanted to go watch a movie! Hah! Three stayed to finish all nine rounds and that ended at around 9pm. Only one guy in our group advanced to Day 2 but he did the smart thing and checked out with the rest of us too. Who wants a stress-filled weekend staring at little pieces of cardboard when you could be stuffing your face with some of the best street food in the region?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cavalock and The March of The Minions

Spent the weekend acquiring new fak... I mean customised Lego minifigures (more on that in a future post?) and attending a boardgame auction. So while I was away, these goodies were baking in my kitchen. Remember the Iron Man cookies or the Halloween cookies? Here we got a little army of the popular yellow minions all freshly baked and ready for a birthday party.

They smell soooo good coming outta the oven. It's really a treat to see the vanilla butter cookies come alive as each minion is traced and then painstakingly hand-painted. Same goes for the hand-drawn gift tags too. I sure hope the kids at the party don't fight over them. ;)

Well, like I said, I was at a boardgame auction last Sunday afternoon. Now the last time I was at an auction was two years ago and I left with one of my best buys ever. A complete collection of Arkham Horror boardgame and expansions for just a little over S$100. 

Now I went to this auction with a single objective, and that's to purchase the Rattus boardgame with the Pied Piper expansion set and couple other exclusive promos that came with it. It's a game that I heard good things about and was this close to buying a brand new copy recently. Gameplay is set in the Middle Ages when the Black Plague was spreading across Europe and you try to survive by taking on various medivial roles to control the spread or move your people to safety. According to the auction list, it's a second-hand set but still relatively new and some of the stuff are unopened. I went with my friends and while it was a light and fun atmosphere, it also got quite tense as we spotted a couple of familiar cut-throat bidders, the kind who would usually sell the games later online. 

My friends bid and won some pretty cool games early on, so when it came to the Rattus boardgame, I was ready. The opening bid was S$30. I held back as almost instantly three other bidding paddles shot up, raising the bid to S$35. I was seated at the back row, which gave me an excellent view of the competition as they slowly pushed the price up to S$40. 

That's when I entered the fray. S$41.... S$42.... one by one they dropped out. I cautiously nudged it up to S$45 and as the auctioneer called out, "going once.... going twice...." I knew I had it in the bag. Got it all at S$45 and that's less than half the retail price which is a little over S$100 although I was prepared to go as high as S$50 in my bidding.

I guess all those hours of watching Storage Wars on cable paid off. I was tempted to do what they do on TV, which was to make your competitor over bid on stuff by constantly pushing the price of stuff he or she wants. You hope they blow their budget earlier and then not bid on stuff you want later. Of cos, you stand the risk of ending up with the item if they gave up sooner than you expect.

Anyway, we all played the game last night and everyone enjoyed it a lot! It's not a difficult game and only lasts about a half hour. We liked it so much we played it not twice, not even three times but four times. Didn't break out the Pied Piper expansion yet as it was our first time playing it. Definitely a fun game with lots of different possibilities and strategies. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cavalock and The Fall of Suntec City

Suntec City what the *#$%?>!@ has happened to you?!? I finally managed to drop by for a visit one evening and it's sooooo different now, and I mean that in a bad way. Suntec City mall used to be so noisy and busy with trooping shoppers on every floor, almost every day of the week. Yah, I know about the huge renovation they did on the place but apparently they sucked at it cos no one goes there anymore. The entire place is like the freakin' South Pole now, freezing cold and deserted. The food joints in the basement do seem pretty busy during meal times but really, the upstairs shops whatever few remaining, are almost empty. Without a unique anchor tenant, I don't see the point of going there at all.

I did however managed to find a couple items that were rather interesting. No idea what Filipino style spaghetti sauce tastes like but that's too big a pack for me to take a chance! That was in Giant supermarket and next door at Wendy's, it's the first time I'm seeing an American fast food chain doing a local dessert! I haven't tried but it definitely looks good.

After two years of fighting pancreatic cancer, my uncle passed away last week. Although he didn't lived with us in the old family home, I have nothing but fond memories of him and we all loved him so much. I still remember when he came over, he would usually have a new comic book for me and he would slip it in his cupboard, between his neatly pressed shirts. Yah, my late uncle kinda still had a room even though he wasn't exactly there.

Well, looking back on my childhood got me thinking bout how naive I really was then. Which is quite funny when you think about it. I led a pretty sheltered childhood as I really had no reason to "venture outside". I was perfectly happy in my own little world, with my books, magazines, TV, comics and the radio was perpetually tuned to the BBC World Service. I was the kid who knew more about World War II history than his own country's origins.

Some childhood misconceptions I had include how I assumed that any adult who wore a tie to work was some big company boss or that like me, all kids had to take stupid music lessons after school.  Seriously, my neighbourhood was like some freakin' orchestra in the afternoon during after school hours! But I guess what was more of an eye-opener for me came later. I didn't know how blessed I was growing up surrounded by family members who all loved me unconditionally until I found out bout other families. Maybe I'll write bout that next time....

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Cavalock and The Goblins' Brew

It's the first post of a new year and it kinda got me thinking bout this here site, the stuff that I put up and all. Since being a caregiver, the opportunity to dine at new fancy restaurants or hip cafes just ain't happening as much as I would like. Also, it seems like there are fewer readers dropping by but I'm cool with that since I'm doing all this more to de-stress than for anything else.

Having spent caregiving time with the older folks in my life as well as hours cleaning up the old family home, it got me thinking bout my younger days growing up on a sunny little island that is nothing at all like the one I'm on right now. I thought maybe I would delve into more personal matters, nothing too heavy or depressing but just things I wanna remember. Like how I think the kids today are missing out on the joys of speeding in a car with the windows down and head sticking out. Oh well, next post maybe. Hah!

Now here's a dinner post from late last year that I almost forgot. I do believe it was even my last expensive meal of 2013. Well, thanks to the Entertainer app on the iPhone, I was able to savor a rather affordable 1-for-1 meal at Bedrock Bar and Grill at Somerset. I really liked the place, cool dark deco. The dry-aged ribeye I had was medium done and I really no major complaints with it. A bit too chewy but I still enjoyed it.

We had nice selection of side orders too. Potatoes, oysters, french onion soup, steamed asparagus, tomato salad and more not pictured below. A very tasty spread that I had no regrets ordering. But seriously, with just the 300g steak clocking in almost S$100 and the sides at between S$15 to S$20 each, it's not a cheap meal. As much as I enjoyed myself, it's not a restaurant that I see myself back again.

Finally, a little humour that only comic book geeks would get. Geddit? <^;^>