Friday, July 30, 2010

"No Ordinary Jho" - Harrow School, London, UK

 Harrow School, UK

The Star's worldwide exclusive on Low Taek Jho hit the street yesterday. Instantly Jho Low, aged 28, became the favourite son of every Malaysian mother and father. For some he became the very anti-thesis of success. But like it or not he is a Malaysian and according to news account he has done tremendously well according to the world's yardstick. He took USD$25 million and through portfolio investments and later private equity, turn it into USD$1 billion. And he did it while he was still studying in Wharton one of the top business school in the US together with Harvard and Kellogg.

Certainly he is not a "orang kaya baru" as his family is rich. He father has the foresight to send Jho to this prestigious school in UK to do his A-levels. Harrow School is a 30,000Pound a year boarding school. It is favoured by businessman and royal families from Asia. It is business equivalent to aristocrat Eton which is known to educate the nobility of the UK.

So were it the school and university that Jho went that help him in his success? Was it the "Right place, right time and right people" that contributed to his succes? As many Malaysian parents would have pointed out a good school is important not just for the education but also the who's who within. To those who can afford the 30KPound this is certainly no big deal. But how far will a family go as far as investing their retirement fund in their child's education?

My family and I visited Harrow School in 2005. It is part of our desire to plant some seeds of greatness into our son. With UK having 7 of her Prime Ministers from Harrow, it certainly has a great tradition in scholarship and statesmanship! My son did study in one of the Harrow family of schools in Bangkok, Thailand called Harrow International School for 4 terms while my family was living there. And certainly my son was very excited to hear this piece of news yesterday. He is certainly no Jho Low but I hope he can learn the positives from Jho's life and work hard and be successful.

The 1000 years old St. Mary Church near Harrow School.
My son and I walking around the church grounds.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Best Beef Steamboat - Chiangmai, Thailand

Bird-eye View of the Steamboat. Pouring in the deep-fried garlic.

In good times with good friends over a meal, we enjoyed talking about food. It is so leisurely. The close friendship and trust allowed the talk to switched from food to personal and back. We have talked over many a times about what kind of restaurant to start and where. My Thai friend which I have worked with for more than 10 years wanted to start Bak Kut Teh and Yong To Fu restaurants in Chiangmai. I, for one will definitely add this beef component into the menu in my steamboat restaurant (if I owned one in the future). The owner which my friend knew personally, actually wanted to teach us how to do this. But then procrastination sets in.... If not now then when, I used to ask.

This is my favourite stall for a hearty and warming dish which I could not get back home. In fact my desire was kindled when I first ate my beef steamboat 12 years ago in Dalat a highland station akin to our own Cameron Highlands. And it is called Ta Pin Lu in Vietnamese which is very similar in sound with the Chinese.

The broth was packed with smells, though murky, it gave the impression of richness. Nothing sinister at all. It was so thick with goodness that there was no need to add any sauces bar the deep-fried garlic. Another plus point was the pot was packed to the overflow with beefy goodness. We ordered beef slices, balls, braised beef chunks and the bull's whip.

A tip from my friend. Mixed the deep-fried garlic with chili, fish and all manner of sauces. WOW factor!
Beef balls - solid and unadulterated. As good or even better than the best we have back home.
Beef Slices - generous portions as we ate and ate!
Bull's Whip - found only in the bull - cartilaginous and gelatinous, these two words said it all. Those who love beef parts will sing their praises.

Broth, broth and broth.
Somewhere in Chiangmai.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sang Har Porridge @ Lit Heong Revisit - Bukit Sri Bintang, Kepong

We ate from the shop on the left June 2009. Lit Heong is a double shoplot act but interestingly the 2 shops are separated by an alley. This time we moved right. Right move? The one on the right featured porridge ala Pan Heong but with a twist. Fancy having "Sang Har Chook (Large Fresh Water Prawns Porridge)". It did not come cheap. Porridge for 2 with 2 large prawns was pushing RM50 per claypot. The eggs from the prawns were plentiful and flowed into the porridge. A good stir will spread out its orangey rich flavour eggs throughout the pot. We got a slight hue of red forming in the porridge.
Fish Fillet and Century Eggs Porridge. I rated the porridge with a 8/10. Well prepared and with the rice grains nicely broken up into a consistent and thick gruel. It has a nice texture as good porridge should.
Baby Octopuses deep-fried with a thick sugary marinate it came up crisp and its surface caramelised.
The "Char Yoke (Deep-fried Sliced Pork with Red Fermented Bean Curd)" was a bit too salty and tough and lack an ingredient or two.

Another night another day, it was good business over the weekend. I hope it will be here to stay. It is a few shops away from Foong Yit and Teow Chow. Refer to this map for direction.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Best of the Hawkers in NGA HANG NGON - Saigon, Vietnam

Bring the best hawkers' food in the country and place it under one roof - like a post-graduate dissertation of a top-notch Univ, easier said than done. A simple concept that needs the patient, skillful and experienced hand to executed. Nga Hang Ngon means "tasty Restaurant." I have been to this one probably half a dozen times. The menu is extensive as you will see by the lines of food featured in this post. I felt the coup de grace of this restaurant is affordable food without compromising on the quality. RM15-20 will have one stuffed silly up to the oesophagus.

This is a must go for every tourist to Saigon. Here you get most the the hawkers' food and very close to being authentic under one roof. The owner has a huge villa in downtown pasteur Street, a very famous stretch and easily acceessible. Get a taxi and you will be there in a jiffy. But be patient as it is packed most hours especially in the evening. Allow the friendly waiting staff to help you.

Charcoal Fire used for their cakes and pancakes (Ban Xeo)

Sizzling Steak on a Hot Plate. Good piece of meat.

Pan-fired Diced Beef with chili salt dip.
Bun Thit Nuong (Thin round rice noodles with grilled pork)
Fish sauce chili dip
Bun Bo Hue (Spicy noodles from the central province of Hue

Vegetables and herbs to accompany it.
Vietnamese desserts - cendol but with ground cereals and sago.
Broth is so important in Vietnamese cuisine
Vegetables aplenty
Roast pork and preserved meat
Stuffed snails
Snails again!
Spring Rolls

Check out the feast!

The entrance leads to a huge villa where every nook and corner is utilised.