Saturday, November 28, 2009

This blog is moving out.

Greetings visitors

My blog has moved to its own domain, so do remember the link below:

Click on the link and enjoy the refurbished and improved Urban Crate
for more urban goodness :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Departures of things I liked.

After being rather left behind in the what's what of the men's fashion scene, I wanted to check out for updates. I was wondering why every RSS feed from Material Interest that I clicked redirected me to Feeling a little suspicious, I did a little google work of my own and found out that:

With the new month comes sad news that Men.Style.Com has shut its doors forever.

-"No More Men.Style.Com",October 19, 2009 by prepidemicmag

All is not lost, as its sister sites GQ and Details are still up and running, and presumably revamped to cater for the loss of content from

I am still trying to find my way around both websites, wondering to which website did the old features end up in. For now, it seems like most contents ended up on the GQ side.
The fashion show collections from year 2005 are there. So is the forum, and the Material Interest blog (reincarnated as the GQ eye), the 10 essentials. However, there is no dedicated section called The Upgrader anymore, a section recommending the best items in every category (oxford shoes, sunglasses, etc). Also, I wonder if we'll be able to access The Sartorialist's off-the-catwalk shots at the fashion shows.

A rather saddening piece of news that only further demonstrates the far-reaching effects of last year's credit crunch. With much of's old content still being available, it's not so much about lamenting its loss - all I need is a little adjustment to the new websites. Rather it's a nostalgic sentiment about a website that, up until its last legs early this year, proved pivotal in introducing me to the finer points of men's lifestyle since my college years.

While google-ing this piece of news, I also found out that one of my favourite men's magazines in UK has also closed down early this year. Being left out of the UK radar for so many years, I wasn't aware of its closure until today. This magazine is ARENA, a men's style magazine that has been in publication for 22 years. During the year I was there, I admired this magazine because it respected its readers as modern men who want more than just articles about beer, football and breasts. Middle ground between FHM and Another Man.

On the style front, its fashion news and editorials leaned towards 'stylish' rather than 'fashionista', keeping things tasteful while maintaining its appeal to the average guy . The rest of the news and articles were usually well-written and intelligent and stayed away from the crass content of 'bloke magazines'. They were unlike the British GQ whom despite generally having better fashion spreads, felt less readable on the whole due to the inclusion of "bloke-friendly" content.

This was generally true circa 2005-2006. Even the Jan 2007 issue that I got my sister-in-law to buy still maintained the qualities that I liked in a magazine. However, the last issue I bought early this year ( a discounted October 2008 back-issue) probably signaled that things were going downhill for the publication. The fashion editorials were unimpressive while the content was uninteresting, un-funny and insubstantial compared to its earlier issues. I didn't hesitate to send it for recycling after my first read.

Here's to you, and Arena.
And here's to you, recession! Only the strong shall survive, so they say.

PS: One of my favourite radio stations is also going under, from what a credible source tell me. Not surprising, considering the low amount of advertising airplay we hear. Don't need to speculate about the listenership, then. Here's to you too! It was great while it lasted.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Annexe: Of Ramli Ibrahim and pipit indie craft market

One boring Saturday afternoon, I decided to pop by the Central Market Annexe for design community pipit's 3rd anniversary arts and craft market. The surprise of the day was to bump into the free dance performance happening next door, The Bull and the Cowherd. What an honour to have the opportunity to see classical Indian dance legend Ramli Ibrahim with Guna live in action, for free! It was a pleasure to experience the rhythmic moves and emotive facial expressions of classical Indian dance in person.

Next are pictures from the craft market itself. As the pictures show, the event was chock-a-block with visitors, many of them young DSLR-toting (design?) college students:

The highlight was the stall by Japan's MARI BRAND selling kawaii handmade dolls:

Adorable Christmas tree with handmade apple-faced baubles:

Other stalls sold everything handicraft: illustrations, drawing, greeting cards, dolls, ornaments, jewellery, patchwork:

Illustration art sold by this stall:

ps: I apologize for not ID-ing the last two stalls.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Clarks' 60th Anniversary Desert Boots in Malaysia

After dinner at 1-Utama today, I was walking past the shops with my friend when this guy came charging across us from our left with a purposeful walk and curious eyes. While I first thought he might want to attack us, it turns out he was actually attracted to the window display on the shop to our right. It was a Clarks shop that he was looking interested in (not us), and I was wondering what the fuss was all about.

After all, the Clarks in Malaysia hardly ever sold the classic favourites like Wallabies and Desert Boots. I remember entering the MidValley shop, and the sales assistant told me proudly that they seldom stock old products like that anymore. Rather taken aback with this ignorant answer, a Malaysian Clarks shop never caught my attention eversince, until today. But I digress.

Back to the story, I waited for the guy to finish salivating in front of the window display so that I could check it out for myself. No wonder he was staring for so long, he was looking at all 6 of these:
What a sight, right? These are actually the 60th anniversary collection of the Clarks' Desert Boot.
The original desert boot is a suede one in tan, first sold in the 1950's. The six designs shown here represent each decade since the birth of the iconic desert boot. From left is the tweed version (50's), women's paisley (60's), women's purple suede (70's), women's acid washed denim (80's), men's Britpop (90's) and for the noughties, a reproduction of the first desert boot according to its original specifications.

My favourites are the oo's (obviously), and surprisingly the women's paisley and purple suede ones. While it is designed for women (and selected flamboyant or secure men), the paisley pattern is beautifully designed ("uses a classic print from the world-famous Liberty fashion house") while the purple shade gives the suede a rich feel, and the fringe is rather FBT. The tweed one for me is just OK, while the acid denim one lost a few marks with the odd-looking pocket design. As for the Union Jack boot, I think the flag is more suited on a pair of Doc Martens than on the rather dandy-looking Desert Boot.

Each pair is retailing in the UK for 89 quid (~RM500), but with Malaysian markups I am not sure of the price here. The regular Clarks desert boot is sold at GBP69.00.

The desert boot, be it the anniversary version or the regular boot, is a classic shoe that should be on every discerning man's shopping list. The classic shape with its ankle length and four shoelace eyelets is timeless and versatile.

I've been eyeing on a regular sand-coloured pair for some time already, but first I need to replace my ailing wallet and crumbling notebook.

Read more on the 60th anniversary collection here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An updated take on menswear shopping in Malaysia

With some new observations mall-wise, shopping for men's clothes in KL isn't such a pain after all..

1. Cotton On

As mentioned in my earlier post, I discovered this label while holidaying in Australia a month ago. I was delighted when I entered its shop in Melbourne, because it was one of the few Australian labels that offers decent clothes at high street prices.
When I first found out that they were opening branches in Malaysia, the sales assistant told me that it was going to be in Pavilion and Sunway Pyramid. Further research on the internet, however, indicates that a branch is going to be opened in 1 Utama as well. Tongue in Chic reports that the 1 Utama branch would have opened on 24th October, followed by the Sunway Pyramid branch on 30th October just two days ago.
I was in Pavilion a week ago, partly to take a look at this new store. My initial observations were that
  • the store display was more reminiscent of a Giordano or Body Glove store than Zara or Top Man.
  • The shop seemed rather cramped for space, including the menswear section- female accessories and footwear were creeping into the menswear area of the shop. Considering the lack of square footage for the menswear, it is not surprising that the selection was also slightly lacking.
  • The buyers must have looked into the average Malaysian man's love of the graphic tee, as the variety of these were clearly not lacking. In comparison, the selection of short and long sleeve shirts were rather limited- the ones I tried on in Melbourne weren't on display here.
  • Like the Aussie store, the quintessential wife-beaters (singlets) abound in various colours, but I wonder if Malaysians were willing to transcend the stigma attached to the lowly singlet and embrace it as a streetwear standard. Ditto white plimsolls.
  • There were some canvas footwear available such as the slip-ons and lace-ups. I think I also saw the white canvas boat shoe. I don't think they brought in the whole selection, though.
  • Those ultra-skinny ankle-hugging jeans and skinny shorts popular in Oz this season are available at RM150 and Rm100, respectively (or thereabouts, if I remember correctly).
In short, Cotton On is a great place to obtain Aussie-style streetwear basics at a reasonable price (lower than Australian prices, in fact) albeit the no-frills display and cramped stock arrangements. In time, my minor gripes would have been sorted as they establish themselves in Malaysia.

2. Forever 21

I never knew that the Malaysian branches had menswear, until I entered the Pavilion branch. The last time I was in Forever 21 was to accompany a female friend years ago in the 1 Utama branch that only stocked women's clothing. Anyway, I was surprised by the decent selection of menswear available in the store ( insignificant when compared to the sheer volume of womenswear available, but still a sizable amount).
At first glance, they seemed like a smaller scale Top Man, offering casual, formal and sportswear. Design-wise, they are typically Caucasian in not being afraid of using colour, but being American the patterns and designs are more subdued and less fashion-centric than its European counterparts. A cross between Gap and Topman/Zara, perhaps.
Prices seem to be lower than other high street brands, but with similar design and quality. I didn't have enough time to browse the place, but I definitely would come back for a closer look.

3. No-show socks
While some Malaysian clothing labels cannot be depended upon for keeping up to date with global menswear trends, we have a surprisingly good selection to choose from when it comes to accessories. A visit to any men's jocks and socks section will explain it all.
A few days ago at Jusco, I was browsing through that section and this is what I bought:

I am sure by now that guys in shorts and sneakers are familiar with the sporty no-show socks pictured in the upper half of the photo. However, I was mighty surprised to see the ones pictured in the bottom half being manufactured locally. In the height of the Thom Browne 'sockless' trend, I have been reading about them in American blogs, about them being sold in American establishments. How long have they been selling these babies here?
For those who are curious, the odd-looking black thingies pictured in the bottom half of the photo are no-show socks too. They are worn to completely hide the fact that you are wearing socks at all. While some may wonder, doesn't the blue pair of socks do the job already? The answer is yes, but only for those wearing sneakers. For those meaning to appear "sockless" in a pair of oxfords, loafers, or the currently in trend deck shoes, some traces of blue pair of socks will still be awkwardly visible. In comparison for the black no-show ones, they only cover the foot slightly past the toes, allowing no trace of socks to be visible behind the shoe vamp.
Kudos to BUM Equipment for actually introducing this to the Malaysian public.

4. The Topman Half Price Sale genuine. I got a canvas bag, a pair of coated denim and a pair of tailored shorts - all at half price or less. Nonetheless, it helps to be of a slightly larger built and have more options from the larger sizes. Definitely one of the noteworthy sales to look out for.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A take on menswear shopping- Australia

Sometimes I feel that I have to stop complaining about the sad state of men's fashion in Malaysia.
I just came back from a holiday in Sydney and Melbourne, and the selection of menswear there seems even more limited in certain ways. Of course, being a tourist I may have been window-shopping at the wrong places. That said, my observations are that the mens clothing I come across are either limited/expensive/basic.

In terms of the high street, I found men's clothes in shops like Jeans West, Country Road and Energie rather bland and simple (and given the skyrocketing exchange rate, not worth my Malaysian ringgit). Maybe it's an Australian thing though, as I observe that many men there tend to be dressed in decidedly subtle/simple basics like distressed plain tees, deconstructed cardigans, skinny denim/shorts and plimsolls. And almost always in monochrome.

On the designer front, I can't be a fair judge for I didn't spend much time in such shops. It's a shame that while in Sydney, I didn't have enough time to discover what was on offer for the menfolk in Oxford St and the like. However, I did manage to squeeze in some window shopping time in Melbourne on my last day, where I proceeded to Little Collins St that was purportedly the centre for menswear in Melbourne. Other than Assin and the shop that stocked Fred Perry, the remainder of the shops were mainly formal/officewear shops, tailors, proper shoe shops etc. Small yawn.

All is not lost as there were a couple of highlights:

I loved Assin. It's the first time I got to see in person the clothes I've only heard mentioned in websites and forums- Lanvin, Dior Homme, Rick Owens, MMM, KvA, Ann Dem. Each item so precious, beautiful, sometimes unwearable and for a Malaysian tourist, so ridiculously out of budget. It was a great place to dream, still.

...and Cotton On! Towards my final days of my holiday and with no new clothes to speak of (unless the Havaianas count -PS: they're cheaper in Oz), the only place that I found reasonably priced clothes were Roger David(?). That was, until I discovered Cotton On. They may be considered the Giordano of Down Under, selling mostly inexpensive basics, but the selection of stuff seems surprisingly good at that price point. I was tempted to get quite a few items, until something caught my eye, the price tags had prices in Malaysian ringgit as well! To my glee, I found out from the sales assistant that they had just opened branches in Malaysia- One Utama, Sunway Pyramid and Pavilion. I was looking forward to buying the stuff I wanted from the KL branches.

My experiences around Australia was too limited to give conclusive observations of the true scenario down under. For instance, I didn't get to visit the local Aussie designer boutiques (eg Romance was born), nor did I get to visit any weekend markets. I didn't even get to see Myer's men's department.
But one thing's for sure, they haven't got H&M, Zara, Topshop, Club Monaco, Gap, Banana Republic in the Australian high street. And for that I was glad to be back in KL!

And so my final stash after my Aussie trip consisted of:
1) Black havaianas (not pictured)
2) Plaid shirt from Cotton On
3) Custom Fit Polo from Ralph Lauren (at a price impossible to get in KL)

Terry Fox Run KL 2009

Leaving my gym after a short swim (I am trying my utmost hardest to fit in at least 30 minutes of light exercise on my non-workout days), I saw the Terry Fox Run organizers setting up a stall at my gym lobby selling this year's run's T-shirts. I am hoping to make it to this year's run, but I can't confirm my attendance in case my weekend gets a bit crazy, or in case I can't find some friends to go with. So I decided to get the T-shirt beforehand in case I can't make it. Proceeds from it go towards cancer research.

In case you've been living under a rock, the Terry Fox Run is held annually worldwide in honour of its namesake who ran across Canada in the name of cancer research. The Malaysian leg of this run is going to be held this Sunday (Nov 1) at 9.00 am in the Lake Gardens. It's a charity run, meaning you can run as fast/slow as you want, wear whatever you want, and there's no registration required. You WILL be able to donate money though, and buy yourself a t-shirt for charity. Do show up to lend your support for cancer research. (click here for more information)

If you can't make it but wish to contribute, you can get your t-shirts at these places. If you're a Celebrity Fitness gym member, you might be lucky enough to get them from the gym lobby, like me.

Below is the event brochure I got from the stall. (Albeit a bit crumpled from my gym bag)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Merdeka Malacca Food Trip, Part 2

..continuation from our Chicken Rice Ball experience in Part 1 ...

4. Amoy Fish-shaped Kaya Thingies, outside San Shu Gong

As you walk along the five-foot way outside San Shu Gong souvenir shop in the direction of Jonker St, you will be greeted with a small-scale version of a Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory-esque mechanical contraption that produces copies and copies of this...

We don't know what it's called, but it looks the Japanese snack with red-bean filling called Taiyaki. In this true-blue Malaysian version however, it is filled with pandan kaya instead of red bean. Still tastes good tho.

5. Capitol Satay Celup, Lorong Bukit Cina

After some more strolling along Jonker Street, Guilingao in a place I can't remember and a short break in a friend's hotel room, we set out for our next destination, satay celup.
The place opens at 5.00 pm, and so we thought that leaving the hotel at 6.00 pm would give us ample time to avoid the dinner crowds.

But traffic was slowing to a crawl, and we were only nearing the place at around 6.20. My local friend/food guide started expressing her concerns already ("Sei lor, the road already so jammed up, surely no more place to sit already"). I scoffed at her concerns ("Cannot be lah. All the cars here going for Satay Celup meh?"). But always trust the locals, because right in front of the shop, we were greeted with this:

In KL, the age old traffic jam wisdom tells you that you have to leave your house early to reach your destination early. Leave the house 20 minutes later, get stuck in the jam and arrive in your destination 60 minutes later.

Same theory applies for the Malacca Satay Celup queue. Be there at 5.00pm and beat the crowd. 15 minutes late? Welcome to the queue. With such ungodly queues, they would certainly benefit from signboards like this one:

OUR wait time was 70 minutes, which was good because we worked up an appetite with all the waiting.

In a nutshell, eating satay celup is always an enjoyable experience in itself (What interactive food experience isn't?). That said, the enjoyment factor was slightly hampered by all the waiting. Like I said before, I am not a firm believer in irrational queuing for food.

The gravy that night tasted a bit burnt compared to my first experience in Capitol last year. Possibly the gerisik (coconut shreds) that was added to the gravy was overfried. Highlights were of course the century quail eggs (tasted 10x better than regular ones, probably 10x more in cholesterol as well) and the 'bonus' given intermittently. This time around, we had giant prawns (one each), some 'premium' squid, and one piece of abalone (that was pathetically split 9 ways).

At the end of our satay celup experience we were so stuffed that there was no way we could possibly have another bite. So at our next destination, the Portuguese Settlement we ended up just giving the place a look-see and walk off our heavy dinner.

6. Kerang Bakar @ Melaka Raya

Our friend then brought us along some dark back lanes to an enclave famous for its kerang bakar or grilled cockles. In typical fashion, this establishment offers a whole variety of grilled and fried seafood ( 'Lala', cuttlefish, 'balitong') and other stuff like sotong kangkung and tauhu bakar.

It would be most authentic to eat all this crouched on long benches underneath the kerosene lamps, throwing your kerang shells into the holes (with litter bags underneath) conveniently located in the middle of the table. Alas, given the popularity the place and the size of our party, we were not afforded the fortune of doing so and were instead ushered towards the regular chairs and tables at the corner of the lane (ugh).

I wasn't a fan of 'kerang' to begin with, the sight of the raw and bloody kerang only made me think of hepatitis. My friends, possibly vaccinated or immune or oblivious to this threat, devoured the kerang, plate after plate. I joined them for a few pieces of kerang, carefully selected to have no visible traces of blood, and it was admittedly very good. The blended chili/onion/lemon concoction used as dippiing sauce was specially mentioned by my food guide friend.

7. O Jian at Medan Makan Boon Leung, Melaka Raya

Not too far away is the very popular fried oyster omelette stall, recognizable by the crowd of people waiting for it. So popular is the place that to optimize their business, they went from sit-in to take away only, and there is only one standard item that can be ordered - any special requests would not be entertained. And as the popular Melaka saying goes, "Be prepared to wait". In our case, it was 30 minutes.
I can't vouch for its taste because we only got to eat it an hour after getting it. But it uses the authentic small oysters instead of the big ones favoured by the newer stalls in KL.

And that concludes the Malacca Food Trip report. There were so many other things we couldn't fit in this time round. So for the next Malacca Food Trip, we will be going for, among others- Nyonya food, Portuguese seafood, Masjid Tanah Mee Goreng. Until then...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The grass is greener on the Tokyo side.

When buying men's clothes in KL, there are three main factors that come into play: the mercilessly scorching weather, the limited selection of menswear labels and the negative perception about guys even attempting to dress up. I found a solution in Americana labels like Gap, Banana Republic, and the recently departed Gant that seem to adress all three concerns. These Americans sure know how to make their summer clothes comfortable in balmy weather while maintaining a modest but tasteful aesthetic .

I thought that the summer collection menswear that was brought to KL shores this year was pretty good- lots of nice shirts and shorts in breathable material and tasteful patterns (plaid, stripes, madras, gingham). That was until I saw this photo as I was flipping through a Japanese men's fashion magazine (Men's Non-no, if you must) and saw this ad in its first few pages:

This is the Spring/Summer '09 ad campaign for Gap Japan. I was as green (as the second model from left's canvas sneakers) with envy at the realisation that so many of the items did not reach Malaysian shores. Model 1's shoes, t-shirt, mint green bag; Model 3's scarf, bag, t-shirt, belt, pants, shoes.. and the list goes on. Luckily, I calmed down after I looked at the ad hard and saw the words: Gap JAPAN. Japan, the country with a fashion sense/buying power so advanced that clothing labels have released separate clothing lines especially for the Japanese market, Converse Japan, Paul Smith Japan. Some items released in Japan will never see the light of day even in the native countries of that brand, I comforted myself.

I got hold of the said issue of Men's Non-no, and the picture above does not do justice to the full-blown ad in the glossy pages of the magazine. Several details are not visible in the picture above, such as the crumpled texture of Model #1's t-shirt, the stripes on model #3's pants and the knitted belt on model #3,4,6 and model #5's micro check shorts.

Sigh, the sad state of Malaysian menswear.

*Please click here (Boimpression blog) to see pics of the full ad campaign for Gap Japan SS09

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Monica Zetterlund: Effortless Stockholm cool from the 60's songbird

There is a certain rewarding feeling to be had from discovering new music, particularly if the discovery was accidental, say from a friend's playlist, a movie or a shop's speakers. You become intrigued by the sound you hear and the emotions it evokes that it piques your curiosity about the song, its performer, its origins.

Today I had the fortune of coming across this very beautiful studio performance upon visiting the American Trad blog, Ivy Style. The performance is the 1966 studio recording of "Waltz for Debby" by Swedish jazz singer, Monica Zetterlund and the Bill Evans Trio. While the song in itself is a beautiful melody combining Monica's smoky (no pun intended) voice with the trio's deft accompaniment (replete with mid-song tempo changes), the visual component also contributed to the enigma of this Youtube video. The video begins with the camera on Monica chatting, glass in one hand and cigarette in the other, with the band playing at the background. She then saunters towards the grand piano to begin the session, then has a little discussion with the trio. Bill Evans plays the intro once, then again and this time magic begins as she joins in.

The coolness she exudes in this video exceeds anything seen in today's MTV. I will spend the rest of my afternoon watching her videos on Youtube.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Sartorialist, the book.

I was browsing The Sartorialist website and the current post was about his book signing in Colette, Paris. It was then that I realised that the book he has been mentioning about since early this year (here and here) is already out in the stores.

I am hoping to see it in the Malaysian bookstore shelves soon, but I have yet to decide whether or not to buy it. I love the works of the Sartorialist, but I follow it so religiously that I may not even need the book. I am not expecting the contents of the book to be vastly different from the blog postings, so if I decide to buy the book it would only be for easy referential purposes and as an homage to the man on the front lines of street fashion photography.

The book, available in hard cover and paperback versions, has been release in the US on August 12th and on worldwide release early this month. It can be ordered online from Amazon and the like.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Merdeka Malacca Food Trip.

Over the Merdeka weekend, what better way to celebrate our independence than to eat our way around the city where it all started?

Weather on that gastronomic Saturday was excellent- clear blue skies, the occasional sea breeze, sunny but not humid. All bodes well for our gastronomic sojourns, except for the crowds. People, people, EVERYWHERE. You had to queue for practically anything that was worth waiting.
Photographic evidence will be provided throughout the post.

After meeting our ex-uni-mate/tour guide for the day, we start our glutton-fest at our first stop for breakfast...

1. Hup Huat(?) Porridge and its next door Yong Tau Foo, Bunga Raya
Blindly following our local friend's directions, we parked our car in an open space carpark that had some sort of a shack at the back of it. Little did I know that the shack was where we were going to have our porridge! Turns out that behind the shack are a few little shops: one famous for their porridge, and the other an equally popular Yong Tau Foo establishment. It really felt like a shack, and so regrettably I didn't bother to snap pictures.

Taste verdict:
The porridge had everything in it: from shrimps to pork strips to century eggs. Texture was creamy with each rice morsel well broken into : definitely not the sort of porridge I'd associate with 'sick people food'. The Yong Tau Foo from next door was pretty good too, albeit being greeted with a limited selection still remaining for the day (it was already 10am). The filling for the Yong Tau Foo was genuinely fish-y, and the tofu tasted self-made and devoid of the alkali ('kansui') aftertaste.

As I didn't snap photos or take note of the shop's name, I did a quick google and I reckon this shop called 'Hup Huat' may be it. All I know is that it is located in the Bunga Raya area.

2. Cendol @ Jonker 88 Museum Cafe

A glimpse of the queue at the shop. Fortunately we were there before the hoards of tourists came,
and so didn't have to sunbathe for our food like these poor souls. Not here, at least.

This well-known Cendol establishment in the well-known Jonker Street needs no further introduction (as evidenced by the barrage of blog posts mentioning this place upon googling the words 'Jonker' and 'cendol' together). This is my second time here, and this time round I had the durian version of the cendol. In this version, they would add a scoop of durian cream on top of the cendol.

Here we also tried the Nyonya fish cake salad(?). It consisted of slices of fried fish cake (鱼饼) served with rojak-style julienned cucumbers and a red coloured sweet dipping sauce.

Taste verdict:
The durian cream tasted good and went well with the cendol, but I wish they had given more of it because the taste got drowned quickly under the heap of ice shavings and 'gula melaka'.

I have to mention that the cendol served here is different from the Penang version that is more soup-y and generous with the coconut milk, 'cacing' and red beans. The form of cendol here is more akin to 'ais kacang' with its heap of shaved ice topped with lots of gula melaka.

As for the Nyonya fish cake salad thingy, the combination is refreshing, but the fish cake slices were extremely salty and had to be balanced by the vegetables and the sweet sauce (perhaps that was the intention).

After that, we decided to take a break from eating and played 'tourist' for a while. We wandered around the shops on Jonker, then trekked' up St Paul's Hill and hung out there in the shade while waiting for the food to digest.

Well rested, we marched down to the hill to our next battle post.

3. Chop Chung Wah Chicken Riceballs

Looking at the queue outside Chung Wah, upon entering the souvenir shop facing it (San Shu Gong)...

Me : Look at those idiots lined up just for Chicken Rice Balls!
Friend : Yeah...
Me : What's so good anyway? I love food, but in my books no food is that good to justify queuing in the hot sun for it!
Friend : Yeah, yeah...
5 minutes later, coming out from San Shu Gong...
Me : Ok, where to next?
Friend: Eat chicken riceballs lo...
Me : What the? What's A, LL, and VY doing over there in the queue?
Friend: Doing what you'd never do in your holidays. Queuing up for food. And it's our turn to queue now...
Me: ........
Fortunately, the queue wasn't long (the shortest one for the whole trip) and the weather wasn't as hot as the photos suggest.

Anyway, due to the crazy tourist hoardes, the proprietors made ordering extremely simple. After taking a quick look at our table, all waiter had to ask us was:
"Half or whole chicken?"

That's it. No fuss over preferred chicken parts, type of chicken, soup, vegetables, number of rice balls, etc. Minutes later, the chicken was served (by an auntie who 'Siam!'-ed the poor girl who was in her way) and each of us were served with 5 rice balls.

I am not sure if extra rice balls can be ordered, but you could venture asking one of their extremely busy staff for it (at your own risk). A potentially Oliver-Twist-Sir-may-I-have-some-more situation there, moreover ironic considering that we are paying customers.
And a word of advice- do not even think of cheating your way into the restaurant for a table. The hawk-eyed staff will make sure you got 'served' in their own way, I witnessed it with my own eyes.

Chopsticks reaching frantically for the chicken.

Taste verdict:
Rice balls and steamed chicken were good, but not great. I found the rice balls slightly lacking in aroma while the steamed chicken was slightly bland and soggy in texture. While some chicken rice ball purists might appreciate its subtle flavouring, I prefer mine doused in soy sauce, dark or light. That's why I prefer the chicken rice ball sold in a place in Melaka Raya. Although less authentic in its ambience, the tasty rice balls and succulent chicken more than made up for its lack of atmosphere.

to be continued..

Monday, August 24, 2009

Deconstructing men's style: Lessons from the Sartorialist's eye.

Scott Schuman's blog, the Sartorialist is one of the most widely read style blogs for a reason. His eye for detail is among his blog's many qualities. I am certain that I am one of many who would turn to his blog for style inspiration and, with the availability of large hard disk space nowadays, save countless photographs posted by him for future reference.
Here I'd like to share photos that I would keep for my personal style reference, and the reason behind liking the particular photo. Click on the photo to go to the original post at The Sartorialist.

original pic by Scott Schuman

  • I can't determine whether or not the tie was a silk knit one. All I know is that the tie's colour and texture looks great in his outfit.
  • Love the ethnic bracelets. It's not unlike another photo also posted by Scott last year, where a man wore similar looking ethnic bands around his ankle (no socks, obviously)
  • Electric blue pants are the obvious attention seeker in this outfit
  • Belgian velvet slippers as seen here, and not too dissimilar from the English house slippers seen here. Don't let the word 'slipper' fool you into underestimating their make and price tag!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dinner at Rakuzen, Hartamas Shopping Centre

With some colleagues leaving us, we decided to go for a nice dinner together followed by drinks nearby. Initially, we had planned to go to Tenji in Solaris Mont Kiara, but that suggestion met with some objections from yours truly and some others who had a mere so-so experience in that Japanese buffet restaurant. Someone then suggested Rakuzen, since it was in the same area as well.

Since there were 14 of us, we were given a private room, that was good.
The food? Some hits but also some major misses. Many of us were for Rakuzen because we had good dining experiences there (and their set lunches were always value-for money without compromising quality). Yesterday, however, they fell a little short of my expectations.

We had some appetizers while waiting for some of our friends to arrive. Rakuzen is currently having a Summer Menu for the season, and we had two items from it.

The first was the Unagi Omelette:

Unagi Omelette. Looks uninteresting on the plate.

May not look appetizing but turned out to be quite a pleasant combination. And it's not on the menu all the time, so it's worth a try.

Next item from the Summer Menu was the Seafood Avocado Salad:

Seafood and Avocado Salad, after being tossed. Looks even less appetizing than the omelette.

This was my favourite dish for the day. Don't let the picture fool you, because the taste will surprise you! The salad consists of crab meat, prawns, tuna and other fish bits, cuttle fish, roe and salad greens, all tossed in a light but flavorful dressing. A friend commented that the fish they used weren't too fresh, but I thought the salad on the whole was excellent. This salad is a perfect representation summer and I look forward to having something like this again.

Next, we had the Avocado Tempura Roll:

Colleague was slightly disappointed because the picture on the menu showed the sushi pieces individually coated in tempura batter. What was served instead was a tempura avocado rolled into the sushi. Taste was average, nothing outstanding.

Finally, we had the Dragon Roll, which was basically an unagi on a roll:

I didn't get to taste this one as I was busy playing around with my friend's Nikon DSLR (he was tempting me to buy one!). Note that the 'dragon's head' is missing, as a colleague was so hungry that she took the first piece before we could take the picture of the whole 'dragon'. Hence, the unagi sauce in the front as the evidence of the crime.

Next came everyone's main course that were the run-of-the-mill set meals, and so weren't worth photographing. I had the Zen Teppanyaki, which was a steak teppanyaki set. It was a quite a disappointment. The meat was not piping hot when served to me. I wonder how long it was left to stand at the kitchen counter before it reached me. Meat was prepared medium as I had asked for it, but that was it - just medium cooked. Lacking in flavours, if at all. I assume that it was cooked at a relatively low fire because there was no heat or char to the meat at all.

At RM38++, I would rather pay a bit more for the one I had in Gonbei, Starhill. That one gave me a good cut of sirloin, a significantly bigger portion, and cooked so much better.

I had a try of my friend's Cha Soba, and that wasn't particularly good too.

After dinner we proceeded to Somo in Shoplex Mont Kiara. The ambience was good, it was outdoor, relaxed, and the tables were well spread for enough privacy. Drinks were alright, reasonably priced. But I always had a bone to pick with these sort of places. I never understood places like this one, and similarly the Laundry and Republic. These places are set outdoors for a relaxed atmosphere, yet instead of playing chillout music, they blast the speakers with R&B and hiphop. It's not because I hate R&B. It just feels so ironic to get your customers tipsy with alcohol then play some booty-shaking music, but expect them to remain seated through it all, having normal conversations . Say what?


I am not swearing off Rakuzen yet, for two reasons:

For one, as I was leaving this restaurant, I saw some Japanese diners and the Japanese chef. If the food was prepared by Japanese and fit enough for the Japanese palate, surely there must be something in the restaurant worth having. Maybe just not the teppanyaki.

Secondly, all meals that I had at Rakuzen never failed to disappoint, prior to this one. But then again, maybe their strength lies in their value-for-money sets that feature the standard fare of the Tempura/Sushi/Saba/Unagi range.

Perhaps I should ask my colleagues how did their
Tempura/Sushi/Saba/Unagi dinner sets go. If those stank too, then I am afraid Rakuzen Sri Hartamas might have already lost the touch.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Potong Saga: Even 'The Making Of' video is funny

By now, I am sure that most people would have heard of 15Malaysia, and Potong Saga. Especially since it is all over Facebook and Twitter.

For those who haven't, where have you been? it is "15 short films about Malaysia featuring some of the country's coolest directors, actors, musicians and politicians". It features everyone, from the controversial Namewee (of 'Negarakuku' fame) to the late Yasmin Ahmad to Mix FM DJ Serena C to Khairy Jamaluddin (acting as a taxi driver!).

A new short film will be released every two days. At the time of this posting two videos have already been released to the very supportive public (just check out the number of Facebook fans, video downloads and comments made)- Ho Yuhang's "Potong Saga" and Yasmin Ahmad's "Chocolate".

For those who've watched it already, then you'd already know that 'Potong Saga' was absolutely hilarious. I bet a lot of Chinese guys can relate to this short film, because for those who may not know it, this circumcision thingy is one of the major concerns when one considers converting to Islam. What I bet you wouldn't know, though, is that "The Making Of" video for Potong Saga is JUST AS FUNNY. *I've embedded the videos at the end of this post.

In comparison, "Chocolate" by the late Yasmin Ahmad was a somber affair that examines race relations, resentment and even payback, possibly.

Even though this project is only at its early legs, I am of the opinion that this project has already succeeded in getting is message across. Just from these two videos alone, the average Malaysians can already catch a glimpse of what the Chinese community's opinions on finance and circumcision (in the first video), and education policies (in the second). I am sure the aim of this project is not to point out which opinion is right or wrong, but simply to get these opinions out in the open.

Now that the Chinese community has been heard, I am eager to see the viewpoints from other communities.

Here is the Potong Saga video, followed by it's "Making of" video. If you don't laugh at the end of the video, I recommend that you seek professional help.

And here is the second video, "Chocolate" directed by the late Yasmin Ahmad.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yasmin Ahmad's 'Talentime' back on the silver screen!

Catch Talentime at GSC MidValley, most TGV's and Cineleisure Damansara while it's still being screened!

After being dealt with news of Yasmin Ahmad's death, I was hoping that her contributions to the country were significant enough to warrant the re-screening of her works. The following weekend, there was a tribute shown on TV3 which featured the airing of "Mukhsin" (which sadly, I couldn't catch due to being out on that night). Judging from how Malaysian media 'loved' her, I assumed that the tribute was all that the fans were going to get.

Fortunately enough, the cinema companies have decided (for reasons monetary or otherwise) to re-screen her final full length work, "Talentime". I was elated upon hearing that news from a friend, as I have only seen two of her six full length works (Sepet and Gubra). And God knows how elusive her films can be. If it isn't the Censorship Board preventing access to it, it's the scarcity of obtaining her movies in hard copy.
*Can someone tell me please, where do I buy Yasmin Ahmad films on DVD/VCD/Whatever?*

Anyway, I managed to catch the movie with my friend in TGV 1-Utama this afternoon. Disappointingly, the cinema was only 30% full. I am not sure of the reason for the poor response. Perhaps the movie-going masses aren't that interested, or maybe publicity was lacking- I wouldn't have known about this if it wasn't for my friend. Read nothing about this in the papers either.

The movie was very good, replete with Yasmin Ahmad's winning signature style. Sentimental, romantic locations, charming characters, non-stereotypical characters, political and social commentary.

Once again, Yasmin succeeds in presenting Ipoh as an unbelievably charming town. Being her hometown, perhaps her personal attachment to the place lends all her shooting locations with a sense of nostalgia. As more and more Malaysian towns start to appear frighteningly similar in the vein of generic suburbia, all of Talentime's locations (Anderson school with its colonial architecture and imposing pine trees, Mahesh's house, Melur's house,even the hospital) display character that is increasingly difficult to find.

In the beginning of the movie, I didn't enjoy it too much because of the not-too-funny light hearted scenes. This is of course not anyone's fault, for the many of the other characters may be played by amateurs, contributing to some slightly missed comic moments.

But as the movie progressed, the beauty of the story had overcome all the minor gripes I had been having. The characters and the story was engaging, and the emotions even more overpowering. At the end of the story, I began to realise how charming each character of the movie was.

Idealistic? Perhaps. But so what? How else does one successfully push the envelope for change, if not by being idealistic?
The sentiments shown by Mahesh to Melur may seem cliche and tacky to some self-professed 'mature adults', but to me it was simply pure and honest love.
The relationship Hafiz had with his mother was acted out so genuinely and beautifully, and the final scene was simply heart-wrenching. The actor who played Hafiz is the same kid who played Mukhsin several years ago, and he played both characters excellently.

Still, as much as I loved her works, I had a few things to pick on. Her movies tend to include scenes that are more likely to happen in the perfect world than in real life. There was a scene in 'Gubra' that I found unrealistic, whereby Orked's husband gives a quirky introduction of all his eccentric family members to the staff nurse in charge of Orked's ill father. Similarly in Talentime I found a tad idealistic scene whereby (!SPOILER WARNING!) Melur's dad (Harith Iskandar) started goofing around at dinnertime, resulting with the whole family (including wife) engaged in a 'scrum' at the floor of the dining room.

And quintessential to her storytelling is the inclusion of scenes or characters that challenge Malaysian society stereotypes. One instance was (!SPOILER WARNING!) the character of Mei Ling, the Chinese-Muslim housemaid who can also play Debussy on the piano.

One thing I loved tho, was the music. Kudos to Pete Teo for the beautiful songs in the film, "Angel" and "I Go". No other lyrics or music could have suited the movie better.

Here is the beautifully sung, "I Go" by Aizat.

A beautiful movie to the end, but it was when my friend mentioned, "Too bad there isn't going to be a sequel to this" that I am struck again with the realisation that this was her final work that we could have the pleasure of seeing. Am not sure if anyone is going to finish her Malaysia-Japan collaboration "Wasurenagusa".

Thanks again to the local cinemas for this possibly final opportunity to watch a Yasmin Ahmad film in the cinema.

But most importantly, thank you Yasmin for blessing Malaysians with your idealistic views about Malaysians and about love.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Posse Part Deux: Kanye West South Park'd

The South Park creators took a jab at Kanye West's ego with a parody episode called "Fish sticks". Kanye is portrayed as a 'gay fish' who embraces his true nature and swims with the other gay fishes. Hilarious!

I haven't watched it yet, god knows how long it has been since I last watched an episode of South Park.

I love how the guys at South Park used Kanye West and his crew's actual outfits (seen here outside the Commes des Garcons FW09 show, taken from Jak & Jil blog). Good effort, Trey and Matt!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More finds by a desperate choosy beggar.

I am a few pennies poorer today, thanks to the Amanah Saham 1Malaysia.
No DSLR for now, I'm afraid.
I had many hours to spare today though, and in usual KL fashion, the 'sale' sign was everywhere. I was mindful of my new financial status, but says who you can't get good stuff on a budget? My two pairs of patterned rocks from Zara and plastic aviators from Topman only set me back a grand total of RM48.80. Yay me.

Sorry this was an absolutely pointless post, beside the fact that I am using the phone camera and phone blogging feature

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Best Feeling in the World (for me)

Sauntering along the banks of a Parisian canal on a summer night, following the lead of a band who performs with gentle vocals and light strumming. All I need is the love of my life walking next to me on that night, and I can declare my contentment in life.

Maybe I am a nocturnal person, but I love about coming out at night as long as the weather and personal security permits. I love it when a place finally settles down, and there are no crowds, traffic or noises to clout my view and mind. On holiday, it is not difficult to capture the essence of a place by strolling along the streets of a foreign city, walking along the beach, or looking out the balcony. But what I discover is that even the congested and impersonal Klang Valley could exude a different side in the quiet and darkness of the night (burglary/sex industry/drugs/alcohol notwithstanding). What a pleasant surprise that within the madness of KL and PJ lies hidden abodes that exude calm and character after the sun sets.

Visit La Blogotheque for more videos such as these- live performances by indie bands set in the most unexpected and unconventional places (high school, sidewalk, apartment building, elevator!) all around the great city of Paris.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Little Boots Debut Album dropped 1 month ago.

Little Boots, the DIY electropop musician/singer whom I discovered at Jools Holland in Youtube, has released her debut called HANDS last month, I found out with some random googling.

She started out humbly by posting various bedroom videos of her making music with her ultra-cool Tenori-On, and various keyboards. I am liking the new breed of electropop artistes like her and Lykke Li who use simple things like hand claps or simple piano chords to churn out electronic music that is distinct from the rest in the scene.

Give her music a preview by downloading a mini-mix provided in her myspace page
to anyone who signs up for her mailing list.

I listen to the stuff she puts out and haven't disliked any of it. I am predicting that the album could contain many potential winners. Can't wait to get hold of her full album.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I am stealing this look!

American Casual (probably Ame-kaji to this guy) done well, as captured by The Sartorialist.

I am in full support of the American Casual summer style to be adapted by more Malaysian men. Why not?
  • The style is relaxed and unpretentious, if you are afraid of being labelled an attention whore. (refer: picture above)
  • Most items are worn in relaxed/regular fit and not figure-hugging tight, if you're afraid of looking ghey. (refer: picture above)
  • Materials are lightweight, if you're afraid of getting soaked in sweat. And shorts are definitely acceptable! (refer: picture above)
  • The shirts are in bright summer colours that would look great in the Malaysian sun. (refer: here)
  • Most elements in American Casual clothes are time-tested classics, if you're afraid of ending up looking like a fashion mistake.
  • The styles are conventional, if you're afraid of looking too modern.
  • The colours and patterns can be modern, if you're afraid of looking too conventional. (refer: here)
So what IS the American Casual style? Discussing that would need a whole separate blog posting.
In the most superficial sense, it's (in terms of a 21st century summer):
gingham, summer plaid, seersucker, ribbon belts, boat shoes, loafers with no socks, Ivy League, East Coast, tailored shorts, plimsolls, madras, oxford button-downs, chinos, linen, repp ties, cardigans, cotton blazers, nylon raincoats
OK, I've found a way to shorten it to two words: Ralph Lauren. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009


via Jak & Jil Blog

I have made a discovery. 10 months late.

All this while, my daily dose of menswear came from a small staple of blogs and websites. As I started to blog again, I notice a whole kaboodle of fashion blogs (the amount of blogs linked by Susie Bubble is dizzying), even local ones (totally impressed by the number of Malaysian fash-blogs out there). As usual, many were filtered out due to their focus on women's wear or editorial fashion. One blog stayed on my mind for posting one excellent shot after another.

paparazzi of enviable style, via fashion royalty or otherwise
+ belles femmes de paris
+ belle donne milanese
+ mind-blowing details captured in camera
+ amazing photography
= add to delicious bookmark + save as *.jpg

This unsurprisingly popular blog is Jak & Jil, and I am ashamed to say that I am ten months behind on the greatness that is Jak & Jil. Nevertheless, better late than never.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Sartorialist's Picks for Summer 2009

Spring Collection 2010 on the runway = Hot summer 2009 style off-the runway

I am one who appreciates fashion shots taken of people on the street, more than fashion displayed through runway models and magazine editorials.
Scott Schuman who blogs at The Sartorialist takes shots of the best fashion styling going on OFF the runway (i.e the attendees) of the menswear fashion shows in Milan, Paris and New York City. Fashion show season (June/July, Jan/Feb) would be a personal period of anticipation for updates from the Sartorialist, who would post his photographic findings in his blog on

As for this season's fashion shows, the pics have slowly begun to arrive.
While he has yet to post the complete collection of photos in his blog, he has a feature on The Upgrader to highlight some of his best shots to date for the season.

Here are my favourite shots from the feature:

You may have noticed that many of my favourite shots happen to be men of a slightly mature age. Perhaps the more mature man have gained, through experience, conviction of what works and what does not.