The best popiah in Melaka!

popiah melaka

I stand here as a witness to the best popiah in Melaka, nay, the world! It’s a gem of a find since most people will dismiss the unassuming stall, but not the locals. This popiah stall at Jalan Bunga Raya has been in operation for since time immemorial and picked up a couple of awards during its reign too – including a seal of endorsement by the good people at Ho Chiak!

popiah bunga raya

There is no signage on the mobile stall but this stall is so popular that it doesn’t need one. It totally eschews the trappings of modern marketing and prefers to maintain its (relative) anonymity. The queue for the sublime popiah kinda gives it away though. Just look for the Popia Bunga Raya sticker hidden in the stall. :)

popiah stuff

The popiah in Melaka costs RM 2.50 (small) and RM 3 (big). The sign says it’s open till 9 pm but don’t let that fool you! It’s a trick, I tell you. A TRICK! The owner usually packs up by early afternoon coz all the popiah is sold out! We wanted to eat this on the very first day, but the stall was nowhere to be found. You really need to arrive early (and queue up) for this.

popiah roll

The secret ingredient which makes this popiah so great is the deep fried pork lard. I have always been highly skeptical of claims that there’s one ingredient that makes or breaks a dish, but here I stand corrected. The turnips, another important ingredient in popiah, are fresh and juicy too!

popiah cut

I had mine with chilli sauce and it was just BURSTING in flavor. I approve!

popiah me

Hail to the King (of popiah), baby!

P/S - Excuse my T-shirt. :p

An open letter

nail-clipper

Dear nail clipper,

It is with great sorrow that I draft this letter to you. I am afraid I can no longer turn the other cheek to your constant and prolonged disappearance. You have been trying to avoid me for the better part of two weeks and I am deeply saddened to inform you that if this continues, I will have no recourse but to buy a new one.

Signing off with a heavy heart,
Huai Bin

Satay Celup

“It’s like lok-lok…but with peanut sauce!”

satay celup

Satay Celup originated in Melaka but like most other things it has migrated far and wide. I hear it’s even available at the mobile lok-lok trucks around here, but for the Real Deal (TM), nothing beats going to Melaka to eat satay celup!

ban lee siang

The place we went to is none other than Ban Lee Siang - one of the renowned satay celup establishments in Melaka. There are two other satay celup places flanking Ban Lee Siang and it’s very telling that Ban Lee Siang is the only one packed to the rafters, with people waiting for a free table while the other two are practically deserted.

satay celup sticks

Satay celup is a Malay word meaning “sticks of stuff” and “dip”. The skewers are kept refrigerated and you walk around with a tray to choose the items you want. There’s easily 50 different items on offer, ranging from clams to quail eggs and everything in between. The prawns are surprisingly fresh and sweet, and the balled up vegetables provides a nice, crunchy texture. The mushrooms and stuffed chillis are pretty good too.

satay celup sauce

Satay celup invariably comes with the same setup – there is a communal satay celup pot in a recessed pit in the middle of the table. The satay celup pot is constantly kept full by the staff, who roams from table to table to refill the sauce. The sauce is none other than satay sauce a.k.a. peanut sauce!

fill

This is what makes satay celup interesting. It’s like lok-lok (where you dunk food skewers into boiling hot water or broth) except you dip this into a simmering pot of peanut sauce. The sweet (albeit diluted) satay sauce tastes delicious with the meat, vegetables and seafood on sticks. It’s a great twist to a classic dish.

offerings

The satay celup system, for the uninitiated, is rather like a buffet. You pick the items you want from the bank of fridges and put it on a tray. Each stick is RM 0.50 except the red color coded ones, which goes for RM 0.60.

satay celup skewers

You’re free to eat as much as you want and by the end of the meal, a waiter comes over to count the number of sticks you’ve consumed and you pay accordingly. Easy!

bread

Satay celup in Melaka is served with bread. The bread is used to soak up the delicious peanut sauce.

jenn dad mike

I think the peanut sauce actually tastes better after a lot of people have eaten from the same communal pot. The satay sauce absorbs the taste of the ingredients dumped into it by previous diners since the pot is never emptied but refilled.

me satay celup

It’s the shiznit, yo.

Saya Anti Rasuah

mms

There’s only 1 thing, 2 say, 3 words, and it’s not the ones you think. Saya Anti Rasuah (No to corruption) was this huge campaign done by Malaysia’s finest to increase the admittedly low credibility of the police force with regards to corruption. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist (or a chaos theory physicist) to know how widespread this culture is.

saya+anti+rasuah

Every little kid in Malaysia understands the concept of kopi-o – the euphemism for bribery. It’s sad how corruption can be reduced to “coffee money”, a fairly innocent phrase that suggests you’re somehow buying our hardworking men in blue a hot, streaming cup of caffeine to combat their fatigue during the long hours they pull. It’s just plain wrong.

coffee

I’m not saying that the problem lies with the police force alone. It always takes two to tango and a lot of it has to do with cultural and social mores as well. I must admit that I’m no saint and I’ve bribed enforcement officers several times when I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. It had always seemed to be the “right” thing to do for a victimless crime – the phrase “You senang, I senang” comes to mind.

I’ve never understood why some people get their panties all in a twist when I do that…until now.

poster

Bribery slowly erodes the society’s sense of right and wrong. It can become so endemic and entrenched that it’s nigh impossible to weed out. It can go to the point where fire marshals won’t put out YOUR house fire unless you grease their palms (I’ve actually seen this happen). Or police stopping you just coz you look wrong and searching your car, threatening to drag you off to the nearest station for a urine test unless they’re going away happy with a few extra notes in their wallets.

rasuah

We’ve got to prevent this from happening and the only way this can happen is when everyone stops bribing enforcement officers. Yes, it is easier to just pay your way through, but as the saying goes, the easy way isn’t the right way.

You too, can help Malaysia be a better place by thinking twice before pulling out your wallet. Unless it’s to take out your MyKad, of course. ;)

speak up

Do you think that Malaysia needs a change?

Do you think your voice can make a difference?

YES IT CAN!

73990704_b58a56e875

It takes a concerted effort by all Malaysians to make this a reality. You too, can make a difference by NOT GIVING BRIBES! Malaysia Boleh!

Snap a picture about how you can make Malaysia a better place and send an MMS to 016 602 9788 before 30th July 2009 with your name and location to be in the running for fabulous prizes:

prizes

More details in the DiGi Speak Up Malaysia microsite. This is a contest by Nuffnang and DiGi.

Melaka Chicken Rice Balls

chop chung wah

Melaka is famous for chicken rice balls. It’s practically an institution over there, with shops dedicated to the golf sized morsels of delight every few meters (or so it seems). There are a lot of established chicken rice ball shops in Melaka, with each person having their favorite. Jennifer brought us to Chop Chung Wah at Jalan Hang Jebat, off Jonker Street.

melaka chicken rice ball

This place is arguably one of the best chicken rice ball shops in Melaka. The line snaking out of the shop is a testament to the popularity of the chicken rice balls. People actually wait under the hot Melaka sun just to eat the chicken rice balls here. Don’t play play, got queue one this place.

chopping chicken

The interior of Chop Chung Wah is basic, with seating arrangements that harks back to the 60’s. Think marble tables and stools. It only registered to me while writing this that I could very well have fallen off the stool coz I usually sit on chairs. There are articles from newspapers adorning the walls and an interesting anecdote here is that the place got on The Star in 2006…and Jenn was part of the entourage who went for that food review.

rolling rice balls

The chicken rice balls is hand rolled by an old lady, conveniently stacked five (5) to a plate in an endless stream to cater to the never-ending march of customers filing into the coffee shop. I’m amazed that they can cope with such demand at all – every single table is full, with people queuing up outside waiting to get in. It’s an exercise in efficiency, I tell you.

chilli sauce

The chicken chopping is done by the son of the owner (who can be rather grumpy sometimes ;)). The family operating this place is Hainanese, and word is, the son is so busy with this chicken rice ball shop that his wife was literally shipped in from Hainan, China to help with the business. It’s a true Hainanese place, they take the phrase “keeping it within the family” to new heights.

chicken rice ball

The chicken in Chop Chung Wah only comes in one variant – steamed chicken. It’s very authentic Hainanese chicken indeed. I found the meat juicy and tender, and you can even see the essence of chicken forming a bed for the steamed chicken. The key ingredient in chicken rice is the chilli, as most would tell you, and this place dishes up really good chilli sauce.

chicken

The chicken rice balls are actually flavored with chicken stock and have a slight glutinous texture to it. It goes down really well, and we ordered another plate coz five rice balls each is just not enough. Apparently, five rice balls is equivalent with a regular plate of chicken rice. It tastes delectable dipped in chilli sauce!

It’s definitely a must try if you haven’t eaten chicken rice balls in Melaka before. Just look for the awe-inspiring queue to find the place. :)

Melaka

teaser

I just got back from a weekend getaway in Melaka with Jenn and Michael. It was fantabulously fun! Melaka has changed a lot since the last time I was there (a good 20 odd years ago). It’s now super tourist-y and there’s HEAPS of Singaporeans there. Almost half the cars we saw had Singaporean plates (both regular and “weekend car plates”).

rice balls

Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself. I remember being there when I was 8, but the details escape me so it was good to take photos and experience Melaka all over again. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site now and a lot of effort has been put into historical sites, which was fun for me. I did the eating expedition thing too, full post up tomorrow coz I’m damn tired and sleep deprived.

vodka

Jennifer kindly contributed to the sixthseal.com alcohol cabinet by giving me a bottle of Wyborowa vodka (from Poland).

jenn

She also bought some Melaka stuff for you guys (er…not everyone la, that’s impossible with the size of the company – just the team I’m working with) so I’ll be coming to work tomorrow bearing gifts. :)

kiss

Don’t you just love girls in uniform? ;)

Awesome pork chap fan @ SS 6

chinese stall ss6

Allow me to wax lyrical about my favorite pork lunch. Restaurant New Yew Sang Seafood is a dai chow place that magically transforms itself into a chap fun (mixed rice) place in the day. It has a rather unassuming fa├žade, but dishes up hearty meals for the office workers around these parts.

chinese snake

The crowd here during lunch is formidable – the tables and chairs snakes lazily out the front of the restaurant and runs along the side and all the way down, illegally infringing on the sidewalk of the other business establishments as a testament to their popularity.

chinese crowd

The place isn’t really optimal for eating though – the corrugated tin roof causes major heat retention in the afternoon sun and the place is always so packed it’s hard to even find a seat. There are two mixed rice places here – one is Malay and the other Chinese. Needless to say the Malay one doesn’t serve pork.

chinese stall

I usually come here if I want to take away. The pork has been calling me the entire week – this is the fourth consecutive day I’ve eaten here. I would eat here at night too, except they don’t open at night.

chinese owner

The owner with ready packed rice in Styrofoam boxes for easier distribution.

What’s so special about the chap fan over here? It’s just chap fan right? Yeah, when it boils (haha) down to that, I can’t exactly put my finger on why I like this place. It has an impressive repertoire of dishes with enough variety that you can go for a fortnight without having to eat the same dish twice. That’s not the reason though – I always get the same stuff every day. If I was forced to cough up a reason, I’ll say it’s the pork.

chinese left

The left flank of food.

I’m particularly fond of the stewed pork over here. It’s unashamedly swine: loud, brash and full of fat. It’s like there’s a neon sign saying PIG over it.This is not a place which believes in taking off the skin and fat before serving pork – the huge chunks of lard and chewy skin is not discarded, but celebrated. Totally unapologetic. I like.

chinese front

Center.

I always take one huge steamed chicken drumstick in soy sauce - it tastes like the “Asian marinated chicken” I used to get in Countdown (a chain of grocery stores in NZ) to microwave before eating. I think you’re supposed to take one piece (each drumstick is conveniently chopped into three bite sized pieces) so perhaps this is why my rice tends to rack up a bill on the high side.

chinese right

The right flank – the pork is here.

I also like the tomato cooked with eggs and starch, producing that distinctive look. I’ve never been a big fan of this when I was a kid, but it was the best (as in palatable) dish that the cook in rehab could come out with. You can’t exactly go wrong with a couple of tomatoes, an egg and starch.

chinese tapau

It usually costs RM 7 for my pork extravaganza…and it’s worth every penny (or sen).


View SS 6 Pork chap fun in a larger map

Guaranteed to send you into a post-lunch coma. ;)

Tarot reading

tarot

I was given a proper tarot card reading while having dinner some time ago. I was quite keen to believe and actually thought hard before picking the cards from the deck. Heh!

Check out the 7:54 video (opus?) if you’re so inclined:

The mamak ambience with the tarot cards placed on serviettes on the tables actually added to the experience. ;)

Was it accurate?

Maybe si, maybe no.

The strangest SMS

strangest sms

I mean seriously, I didn’t know the Alpha and the Omega was within cell coverage. I was surprised Yahweh keeps up with the times at all. I guess that newfangled business with U2charist and praying for the CEOs of Google and whatnot is not hogwash after all.

What Would Jesus Do (with a cell phone) indeed…

 

Update:

#1: Number has been removed. The girl texted me back saying that you guys are spamming her number. ;)

#2: Jeff answered the rhetorical question:

Hmm.. What would Jesus do with a mobile:

1. Ring Josef & Mary
2. Call God for instructions
2a. Report Sinners.
2b. Get weather reports from heaven and hell.
3. Top up less fortunate peoples credit on prepaid plans.
4. Perform miracles, like turn old phone batteries into new ones. Gasp!
5. SMS sermons to his followers.
6. Order pizza.
7. Prank phone calls to Romans esp. Pontius Pilate.
8. Translate Ancient Hewbrew into Latin and debate the pros and cons of roman numeral keypads.

Enough. Now let us pray…

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