Friday, February 17, 2017

Some kind of romance

- What do you like about me?
- Is there a reason why you're asking me this? It's not the first time.
- I just want to know.
- Can't I just like "you" as a whole package? [pauses and thinks] perhaps I like the way you smell, the way you feel...
- I like you but you annoy the hell out of me sometimes.
- Likewise!


- I don't want anyone else.
- I don't want anyone else either.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Banh cuon Bac | 40 Le Anh Xuan

As I child, one of my favourite breakfasts was banh cuon (thin rice rolls with minced pork). On cold winter mornings, I'd sit on the pavement where the vendor sold their specialty, and order my favorite combination - bánh cuốn chả (banh cuon with fried pork balls). The rice rolls were usually made fresh at their house nearby. They then served it with hot fish sauce (nuoc mam) broth, which was made by mixing pure thick nuoc mam with bone broth to create a subtle yet rich flavor. I always liked to squeeze in a kumquat's juice, add garlic vinegar, and slurp the broth down after finishing my banh cuon.

As I moved to Saigon, the Northern-style banh cuon gradually became a childhood memory; I grew accustomed to the Southern style with sweeter nuoc mam, bean sprouts and herbs on the side. Occasionally I'd have my relatives bring me some banh cuon straight from my hometown; but the setting is just not the same.

I was delighted to discover this place, nestled on a small street between two main busy roads in central Saigon. The place is humble, as with many good food gems in Vietnam - they taste better than in fancy restaurants. I immediately felt a familiar connection as the owners and staff chatted in their thick, slightly high-pitched Northern accent. And when they served their banh cuon, with hot nuoc mam broth, my heart sang a little with joy. Needless to say, I slurped the broth - which was of course happily flavored with kumquat juice and garlic vinegar - down to its last drop. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

(Belated) Hello to 2012

Via apartment #34

We're already half way into January 2012. 

2011 wasn't the best year for me, however, there were memorable times that highlighted an otherwise uneventful year. I have (in non-chronological order):

- Taken a job in advertising, a field which seemed fascinating and of which I knew little about. I'm still learning.

- Joined a beauty pageant, namely Miss Chinese Cosmos S.E.A. 2011. I'm not the type who likes to get dolled up all the time, in fact I'm quite the opposite. All in all, it was fun!

- Conquered Low's Peak, Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. 

- Met a lot of new, interesting people. 

So that's that. :) Have you made your resolutions? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The view from up there

I just returned from Kota Kinabalu. There were 115 of us who joined A Climb Beyond Disabilities organized by Rotary Club Bandar Utama, Malaysia. We conquered the highest mountain in Southeast Asia - Mount Kinabalu. The view was breath-taking!

Will update more details soon. :)

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Inner peace

It's been a while.

I couldn't get myself to sit down in front of the computer and write something. Work has taken most of my day time and when you spend so much time in front of the computer typing stuffs (not blogging, of course), to repeat the process in your personal time doesn't sound so relaxing. Besides, I felt there was not much to talk about.

There wasn't a particularly good or bad day, if you ask me. Everything seemed to pass by in a steady pace, not too fast, not too slow, nothing so memorable. I wonder if I'm trying to keep my mind from experiencing intense feelings. I wonder if it's inner peace I'm longing for, or if I'm only running away from real emotions.

I joined a beauty contest for the first time in my life, celebrating my 25th birthday showcasing my more glamorous side on stage alongside 19 other beautiful girls. It was something different. It was hard work, intense competition, and a lot of stress. But at the end of it all, I found the most important thing that I've known all along: self-confidence. Sometimes, you need to go through a different path to realize what you've already had or known and appreciate it more.

A connection was ended, just as suddenly as it was formed. Intense feelings as there were, I thought I would be hurt. But I wasn't. I faced my feelings, then let them go. There is no point hanging on to something that has passed.

I attempted meditation, cut down on pointless social events, late-night partying and drinking. Health benefits aside, it also gives me more personal space to figure out what I want and I don't want, who I am - as opposed to what I should and should not do, or who I should be. I don't want to run after social superficiality not knowing my identity. You can buy all things designers, dine at the most expensive places, impress everyone with your seemingly perfect life, but all those are meaningless if you do not know yourself. You will still come back home feeling empty.

Having money isn't bad. Having ambition isn't bad. But not knowing yourself is bad.

Pachelbel - Canon

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Out in Saigon

Saturday, KLIA - Tan Son Nhat airport.

There's something about going home that always feel so good, so soothing. I haven't traveled much in my 25 years (what a shame), but nothing so far can compare to the feeling of going back to my homeland. I remember clearly the eagerness and excitement I felt 5 years ago when I was a somewhat innocent 20-year-old having landed in Malaysia for the first time, or the times that I've been to Bangkok or Singapore but without the warmth that spreads inside of me whenever I touch down in Ho Chi Minh, or Hanoi, or Hai Phong.

That being said, it felt great to be back. Having made a "date" with my parents in advance, we quickly headed to a Japanese restaurant... what's the name again? Ah, Sai Gon Sakura. My first impression - this place was empty! Then I knew why once I took a look at the menu - it's pricey. We were greeted in typical irasshaimase, you know, you hear this every Japanese restaurant you go to - they would bow, saying the line out loud and sometimes only mase which doesn't really mean anything. Or does it?

Which reminds me of The Sushi Bar (if you must check it out:, where staff shout out irasshaimase when you enter and thank you when you leave - I find that amusing.

Anyway, back to this place. We ordered a sashimi moriwase which arrived in a huge boat. I wish I had taken a decent picture to show off here, but unfortunately, as soon as that boat surfaced on the table, I just got right to it. It was... irresistible. Then again, I could have never said No to fresh seafood. I just love it - the sweetness, the freshness, the texture that melts in your mouth - it's divine.

Here's what's left of that boat after my hunger attack...

And ikura... need I say more?

The night drinking with my closest dearest girlfriend Helen that followed was good, too. We met up at Martini Bar at Park Hyatt, our go-to spot for drinks whenever I return to HCMC. The place had a strange mix of foreigners (young and old, many of them bald), Korean girls that looked like they were annoyed by the crowd, some well-dressed gays (oh I saw this guy with absolutely lovely red shoes, I wished I had told him how much I like his style), aspiring models, Vietnamese who prefer speaking English (I might be one of them). I kinda like Martini Bar - it's happening, although I think the drinks are a tad bit overpriced.

Sunday and Monday, more food and more drinks. It was good to be back in touch with things you're so familiar with, faces you've known for years. It brings back memories of a time when you were still sweet and innocent, unaware, unpretentious. I was happy.

In a blink of the eyes, I'm back in KL. Back to life on my own, back to working. Back to evenings alone on the sofa with a good book, to cooking for one person with such big appetite yet tiny stomach.

I'm missing HCMC right now. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Food talk

Hello hello...

I feel bad that I've left the blog collecting dust for quite a while. Sometimes I don't really have anything interesting to talk about, really, and plus I've been a bit lazy (and busy and other reasons) :">

I finally moved to my new place in the city center, settling down with work and learning to be better at what I do, which, by the way, is advertising. I'm still a newbie to this game, so if you're an expert and you would like to guide this little girl, please please please do!

This blog was not the only thing suffering. I've been neglecting my diet for the past few months, resulting in a visible weight loss and lots of breakouts (trust me, when one breakout appears on my face, it invites the whole family to come as well!) So starting June, I've added multivitamins, calcium and minerals supplements to my daily intake, and start cooking again. 

And... tadah! 

I'm going coco-nut in this :)
A simple dish of stewed chicken in coconut & tomato stock, accessorized with carrots, onions, and shrooms.  

I love making stews, they're the easiest thing on Earth to make, tasty and warm you up - they're called "comfort foods" for a reason. It would be perfect to have a hot bowl of meat stew in the winter. Tropical weather makes it slightly less enjoyable; nevertheless, it is still my go-to dish on days I'm feeling uneasy (rainy days, for example).

The experiment was shared with my housemate, and in return, I got to try the famous Alphonso mango. And my, it was the best mango I've tasted in my entire 5 years in Malaysia! 

He told me that to preserve the mangoes, the pulps are taken out, squeezed, put in a container (a box, a plastic bag - use your imagination here) and frozen. So when you want to eat it, just take it out and leave to defrost for 15 - 30 minutes, and voilà! Ah, this is genius! You may laugh at me, but in Vietnam people don't preserve mangoes this way, although we do make fresh ice creams out of fruits and eat them FROZEN. 

Great dinner. I'm all smiley now. :D