S.Wine @ Publika

So finally Daniel and I visited Publika as I've been curious about this place after some friends have gone there. We were there to meet some friends for dinner. A friend chose S.Wine, which interestingly was situated within a supermarket (Ben's Independent Grocer). There was a queue and we needed to wait for at least 20 mins. While waiting, we looked at the menu. They had food that I don't see at any other typical restaurants. It was pricey though.

The restaurant was small and cozy. The ambience was quite soothing. Surprisingly it wasn't noisy and so we didn't need to raise our voice to converse.

SWINE 1

I had pasta olio with brocolli and chorizo sausage. It was the spiciest olio I ever had. I dare say that it was as spicy as a typical asam laksa but less so compared to curry laksa. The spaghetti itself was light in taste but the sausage, a type of Spanish sausage, was filled with spices and firmer than normal sausages. Overall, this was a good combination of flavour. I definitely recommend this dish to anyone who doesn't balk at its price (think it was RM29++).

The lemongrass pandan tea was refreshing and lightly flavoured. Its aroma was authentic. The price was quite steep at RM8++ per small pot. Again, it's recommended if you're fine with the price.

SWINE 2

Ooooh this is so useful to know.

Publika Flat White

We then moved on to the cafe within the supermarket for a cup of coffee. I had a cup of flat white. I rarely have coffee and the reason was very clear right after that because I had slight gastric. Bah. The coffee tasted fine. It had the right density. Nothing was amiss.

Publika toilet

The first two rows were pictures on the wall on the way to the toilet while the last row were pictures on the cubicle's door. This so reminds me of a mall in Singapore where each toilet on each floor and separately for each gender had a different theme/motif. Gosh, I can't remember the name of the mall.

Oh, and incidentally this dinner turned out to be our once-a-week-try-something-new routine :)

Mandatory saving

I used to believe in nationally mandated saving e.g. Employee Provident Fund ("EPF") in Malaysia, Central Provident Fund ("CPF") in Singapore and superannuation in Australia. The former two are administered centrally by statutory boards while the latter is administered privately.

At the lowest level, people simply want to live in the present and don't think about savings, for whatever reason. After that, there are people who realised the importance of savings but never do anything about it. Then next are the people who are trying to save but can't seem to succeed due to a variety of reasons (e.g. distractions, emergencies, no monitoring and feedback mechanism).

Mandatory saving is then useful for everyone in general. In exchange, government gives tax concession and sometimes incentives for people to save more than the required minimum.

However, I am now not so steadfast in supporting such scheme. One reason: government interference that's detrimental to members of such scheme.

Example of unpopular (and possibly detrimental) amendments are:

(1) Frequently increasing retirement age, which directly or indirectly helps the government because it delays payment of benefits.

(2) Change benefit benefit structure e.g. lump sum to withdrawal over a number of years to compulsory annuity (ala pension style). This helps to delay payment and more importantly deprive members the choice of how they would like to use their retirement fund.

(3) Raise tax rate or reduce tax concession whenever the government wants to raise revenue

There is even suspicion that centrally administered fund is used to support government-linked companies.

All these make me question the benefit of such scheme. Its original objective may be of good intention but time and time again it's proven to be going to hell.

New Yahoo Mail

Yes, there were and probably still are gripes from many people about the new Yahoo Mail design and function. In fact, I was one of them but you know what? Now that I used it for a few months, I had already forgotten what the fuss was about. All I remember now that I wasn't happy that they put the latest e-mail at the top of the Inbox - something hardly worth breaking a sweat about.

However, I have to point out one really good feature of the new Yahoo Mail: when you open an e-mail to read, it is opened in a new tab. This makes it easier for me to cross-reference with other e-mails without needing to repeatedly opening and closing e-mails. This is quite important for my work.

Yes, I know that Gmail has something similar (open e-mail and then click an icon to further open it in a new window) and apparently the old Yahoo Mail has such thing too (something about right clicking or control-right click; sorry, I didn't investigate) but it's simple to use in the new Yahoo Mail because it's the default setting. There is no need to google to find out some hidden clicks or to do a where's-Wally style to spot the right icon.

The one thing that bugs me is the advertisement on the right side, which sometimes crash. There doesn't seem to be a way to switch it off. Well, they do need to earn money, don't they?

Be Lohas @ One Utama

This vegetarian restaurant is situated at ground floor new wing of One Utama. It was part of our let's-try-new-things-once-a-week routine.

On their menu, it was stated that their food was at least 80% organic, had no msg, used olive oil, less salt, less sugar. Sounds healthy!

Be Lohas 2

Firstly, right after we ordered our food, we were given complimentary organic spirulina (the 2 green tablets) and a small cup of lemongrass ginger tea. Gosh, the tea was dense. It was refreshing but probably couldn't drink much more than a small cup at such density. Quite sensible portion.

Be Lohas 3

This is a fruits-and-vegetables juice. It was not stated its exact content. Tasted quite bad and came in a really small glass. I suspect that it came from a bottle. I rather have the lemongrass ginger tea. In fact, I rather have MBG mixed fresh fruits/vegetable juice.

Be Lohas 4

Be Lohas 5

This is the loh charcoal noodle. Plenty of vegetable I assure you. Plenty of noodle too. In fact, too much noodle. I couldn't finish it. Its taste was quite bland, even with vinegar. The noodle was thick, coarse and stiff/rigid. Nowhere resemble noodle or the taste of what it supposed to imitate.

Be Lohas 6

Ban had their lei cha's dish, which he said was good. I'm not a fan of this dish and so I didn't try it. Given that Ban is not a foodie ("food's only for survival"), such compliment is definitely ranked high.

Would I go back there again? Maybe to try some other dishes as they have quite a variety. But I better make sure I have some meat for lunch before venturing here again for dinner :)

The trouble with US Visa

Recently, I helped my aunt to apply for a tourist visa to US for Malaysian. Very broadly, the steps are:

(1) Apply online.

(2) Pay visa at Standard Chartered

(3) Make appointment for interview

(4) Collect visa

Sounds simple, right? Not at all lol.

Here are the troublesome spots:

(1) Not only do you need a computer connected to decent internet speed, you need a scanner (to upload photo) and a printer (to print out confirmation). Maybeeeeeee it's ok to assume that everyone has a computer and internet access but a printer? A scanner? It's ridiculous to buy them just for this purpose, isn't it?

(2) They do not tell you in advance all the details needed. Sure, the usual "get ready your passport" etc were there but how about the address of where you're staying in US? The phone number? Details such as the visa number of your previous visa and when were your last 5 visits to US? Fortunately, and for this I give them plenty of kudos, you can save the application halfway and continue later.

Here's an interesting nugget of information I found out recently: once given, the visa allows you to arrive at any US port of entry but whether you get into US after that is entirely up to the immigration officer there. So, in theory, you could be armed with a 10-year visa, bought a return ticket to, say, Los Angeles, arrived at Los Angeles airport and then denied entry by an immigration officer there. What a way to while your time away, eh? However, on hindsight, this discretionary power is rational and necessary but nevertheless it's a scary thought, isn't it?

Here's another one: the visa granted does not tell you for how long you can stay in US. No information whatsoever. Again, it's up to...yup, the immigration officer to determine. You could jolly well have planned a 5-month stay but the officer could give you just 3-month. Too bad, huh? Fortunately in this case, there is some sort of guidance gathered from various sources online.

Garden Salad with Fish Fillet @Rosemary Bites

Finally, I managed to remember to photograph this dish before I started eating it lol. Happened to me many times where I started eating and then discovered how good it was but then regretted not taking a photo of it before eating. After that, despite reminding myself to do it before eating, I almost always forget hehehe.

Rosemary garden salad with fish fillet

As you can see, the salad portion was quite huge and the arrangement of the vegetables was meticulous. Simple but pleasing to the eyes. I like symmetry hehehe.

The first time I ate this, I was surprised at the portion of the fish fillet. It was quite filling and quite delicious. In fact, I could just make do with this dish for dinner. It is one of my favourite meals to have, especially when I'm looking for substantial amount of vegetable. Raw salad tastes refreshing after much cooked food throughout the preceding days.

Guess how much does this cost? Only RM9.80 plus 10% service charge. It's a bargain.

It also can come with chicken fillet. Perhaps I should try that one day.

I also love their chicken kebab and Spicy Olio Seafood. I hope to remember to photograph them before I eat :)

Dilemma

I'm sure some of you have heard this before:

What if you have a dream where you see your mother and your spouse are drowning in a sea? You can't rescue both and so you have to pick one to rescue.

Your spouse urges you to save your mother as it is filial to do so and that she has brought you up with much effort and sacrifices. Your mother urges you to save your spouse as you two have much life ahead to spend together and build a family, whereas she is already old.

What will you do?

I've heard of this several times from different sources but one struck me as interesting for being different. In that version, this dilemma was posed by a psychologist/psychiatrist/a mind expert (sorry, can't remember the exact vocation) and the solution was to stop dreaming. Why put yourself into such unnecessary trouble?

I'm not sure whether it was a joke or not but I always remember this and at times posed the same dilemma to other people. Oh yes, sometimes I nearly got smacked at the end lol.

Change in budget

I am a fan of budgeting and keeping track of expenses, as evidenced in this post. As stated in the second last paragraph of the post, monitoring of expenses acts as an important feedback to the budgeting process.

I have adjusted my budget from time to time. Sometimes it's to tighten it i.e. austerity and at times to expand it. Recently, I have expanded it slightly. Specifically, I have expanded my allowance for food.

Previously, I budgeted for lunch and dinner costing probably RM6 each. On top of that, there was allowance for more expensive food once a week. Although I still manage to keep to that budget for lunch, unfortunately it's difficult for dinner. This is due to lack of choices around Ban's place. The cheapest is this restaurant selling duck noodle/rice costing RM5. Next up is those Chinese restaurants selling individual rice and noodle dish costing RM5.50 to RM6.50 each. Both haven't factored in drinks as I usually will have herbal tea costing RM1.50-RM2. Also, at least twice a week, I'll eat at a Western and/or Japanese restaurant costing between RM12 to RM25, although one of them is already covered by budget for expensive food.

Another reason for the expansion of food budget is that I've recently decided to have 2 servings of fruit each day, instead of only 1. This is one adjustment I'm happy to make as I do feel healthier after starting this habit. My illness is less severe and fruits are tasty :)

Of course I expand the budget only after I make sure that my income can cover the new expenses. It should be able to if I include expected income from dividends and the occasional actuarial projects. As usual, I'll keep on monitoring.

BKR 9933


BKR9933

Congratulations to driver of this car! You are now in contention for the award of "Most inconsiderate driver in Malaysia" for parking on two carpark bays. Your (apparently poor) driving skill and (lack of) civic-mindedness had astounded many. Wish you all the best as the number of qualifiers is increasing exponentially in this country, especially KL drivers.

Miraku @ Paradigm Mall

Ban and I tried Miraku twice. The first time was part of our "try one new restaurant per week" routine while the second time was after we purchased a Groupon voucher for it.

Although it's at Paradigm Mall, like a few restaurants there, its entrance is outside the mall. I'm not sure how practical that is, especially if it rains. Imagine that on a rainy day you purposely choose to go to a mall that has underground/sheltered carpark but only to find that you'll have to walk outside in the rain to access its restaurants. Bizarre design.

Miraku 1

I like its interior design and ambience. There is ample space and seats are wide and comfortable. It does look a little posh.

Miraku 2

The sushi chef squeezed the rice into appropriate shape as and when needed, rather have them prepared in advance. Similarly for slicing raw fish to prepare sushi and sashimi. This is unlike Sushi Tei where everything is prepared in advance but I supposed that's not a fair comparison.

Beef gyudon 20

This beef gyudon was light in taste. Beef texture was just right though. Cost RM20++

Sushi soba gozen 60

This was Sushi Soba Gozen set, costing RM60++.

I was surprised to find fish among the tempura basket. Unusual choice of ingredient for tempura. The sauce was good but its greatest failing was that it wasn't crispy, which to me is an essential feature of any tempura dish. Cold soba's texture was just right (usually it's a little hard for me) and its sauce was delicious after mixing in the given wasabi. Cawanmushi was soft and had more gravy than a typical cawanmushi. The small dish of cold pasta was sour and, as Ban said, not "enticing". The salmon sushi was thick and melted easily in the mouth. I'm not sure whether it was belly or not. The snow peas were crunchy and sweet - such a pleasant surprise.

The set menu was definitely not for one person (just look at the set above), making it a difficult proposition for dining experience in my opinion as it requires coordination, negotiation and compromise. If that fails, then it's back to ala carte menu. I wouldn't have minded ordering ala carte but the problem with Miraku is that it doesn't have ala carte sushi. You couldn't pick and choose the sushi you want. There is a variety of sushi dishes available but I tend to avoid this (unless it's all salmon!) as it usually has something I don't want.

So, all in all, it was quite a disappointing dining experience foodwise and quite likely I wouldn't go there again. It's a pity though because its service was good.

A different take on "reasonable"

So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable Creature, since it enables one to find or make a Reason for everything one has a mind to do.

- Benjamin Franklin