20 shots from Chinese New Year visiting (and a lion dance)

Lion Dance

1. I managed to catch a lion dance performance while Chinese New Year visiting. A friend arranged for them to come at 2:30 pm and invited us over to see.

2. This is the full and complete 15-minute video which had the firecracker red carpet start to welcome the lions in, the lion dance also went to every room in the house to “bless” them, followed by the lions playing with the firecrackers at the end. It’s worth a watch if you’ve never seen a Sibu style lion dance home visit before.

Chew Yieng

3. I went to quite a few open houses this year, from ex-coworkers to friends. This is Chew Yieng, a classmate of mine. We used to go to the same school (and even went to New Zealand at the same time when we were 15). She told me a funny story about how she met me again in Christchurch while waiting in line for a pay phone in 1995. ˙͜>˙

Prawn Crackers Acar

4. This is deep fried prawn (shrimp) crackers with acar – a staple during the Lunar New Year. Acar is a dish of pickled vegetables, there’s a distinctive vinegary taste and it goes very well with the fish and prawn crackers.

Durian Chocolate Stick

5. One of my favorite things to do while visiting is eating unusual snacks from all over. This one is noteworthy in that it’s a locally made durian candy made to look like an ice cream. The inside is durian paste and the exterior is coated with chocolate and the entire thing is mounted on a stick.

Pineapple

6. Pineapples are a symbol of prosperity since the word in Hokkien sounds like “incoming millions” (kinda, the second word actually means ten-thousand but is generally understood as wealth). Thus, you can see a lot of berry (yes, it’s a type of berry) themed items. I also found a Korean made yoghurt and muesli bar in this home.

Kumquat Candy

7. Kumquat candy used to be very popular – these are Mandarin orange flavored sweets made in the shape of a segment of kumquat orange. There’s usually gelatin inside so it’s soft and chewy although some types are hard candy. I also sampled a Toblerone clone made in China here.

CNY Lunch

8. There are also a lot of houses which offered hot food this year. This dish has a wild boar Chinese sandwich (man tou) with a side of curry chicken, tang hoon with egg, and okra.

Dabai Fried Rice

9. Dabai fried rice! This was at Arthur’s house.

Kacangma

10. It went very well with the kacangma chicken (a local herb called motherwort). I usually get my fix at Payung Cafe, and coincidentally he had a few dishes catered from there too.

Pineapple Prawns

11. I particularly enjoyed the prawns with pineapple that he cooked though.

Suituapui

12. This is me and suituapui a.k.a. Arthur.

Japanese Curry

13. This is the Japanese curry at another house. I love eating hot food at open homes. You get to taste home cooking and it’s more substantial than cakes or biscuits.

Ang Pow

14. I also (strangely) received 5 ang pows (red packets containing money) this year despite my advanced age. Haha.

Open House Food

15. China imports are very big this year. I noticed a lot of homes stock Chinese made snacks for the guests, this one is a peanut filled cracker.

Love Hearts

16. Behold! Love Hearts! These are made in the United Kingdom and I was very fond of them when I was little. I have to admit that I took 2 of the Love Heart rolls home coz it was so awesome. smirk

Pomegranate

17. I also found a house growing pomegranate! I didn’t know the fruits can grow in our tropical climate.

HB

18. Happy CNY everyone!

19. This is a long 39,999 large firecracker roll I let off during the first day of the Lunar New Year. I had to use a lighter to light it in the middle coz the Visco fuse dropped off. I love this video coz the cadence was perfect – the start where I pulled away to the multicolored effects and large pops and bangs to the end where the banner dropped down and an explosion flung it back up in a very festive manner.

CNY Visiting 2016

20. I hope you all had a great Chinese New Year thus far! :)

Martin Yan’s Longevity Noodles

Chef Yan Longevity Noodles

This is a special Chinese New Year menu item on all AirAsia flights. They’re made specially by Martin Yan for the Lunar New Year and features longevity noodles in an inventive recipe that includes a delicious thick sauce Chef Yan created himself, along with fresh minced chicken and a variety of vegetables like pickled carrots and radish, as well as green zucchini and red chilies.

Martin Yan AirAsia

Martin Yan’s Longevity Noodles by AirAsia goes for RM 15 a la carte or RM 16 as a combo with a 350 ml bottle of mineral water. The spicy chicken meat sauce goes very well with the crunchy texture of the julienned vegetables and the cooked-just-right longevity noodles with the perfect amount of soft-firm bite.

AirAsia Martin Yan

The hot sauce whets your appetite and the amount of sodium can probably kill a small horse but yet I was looking forward to eating this when I boarded. I forgot the pre-book the meal coz of the 24 hour minimum requirements and made sure to remind the cabin attendants (two of them, in fact) to let them know I wanted it so please hold one Martin Yan meal for me if possible.

AirAsia CNY

I finished eating it with satisfaction and asked the lady next to me to take a photo. Let it be known that I strongly approve of this particular meal! I’ve eaten food cooked by Chef Martin Yan before and I don’t usually go crazy over airline food (not even 1 Michelin star ones) but the Martin Yan’s Longevity Noodles had me licking the microwave foil container clean while not being too obvious about it. smirk

Martin Yan Longevity Noodles

I pondered ordering another one but I thought having a second 241 gram meal right after the first wouldn’t taste as good. It would be overkill and my taste buds are saturated anyway but it was an awesome festive lunch 30,000 feet in the air before I came back for Chinese New Year! :)

2016 Chinese New Year Fireworks Roundup in Kuala Lumpur

Fireworks KL 2016

I’ve started buying fireworks in KL for the kids to enjoy. Kuala Lumpur doesn’t have the sheer variety of fireworks we have in Sibu but they carry a few different things we can’t get here and vice versa. One big thing about Sibu is that 3″ fireworks shells and larger are banned. So are rocket and tube launched aerial break shells. This seems to be an agreement between local cartels and the police. However, we do get a lot of large scale display fireworks cakes and Chinese firecrackers.

KL on the other hand has a relatively mediocre selection of the last two. I did manage to find some novelty fireworks for the kids and my better half though. It’s a great way to usher in the Chinese New Year! :)

Jumping Frog Novelty Fireworks

Jumping Frog Fireworks

This is an interesting implementation of a relatively simple firework. It costs RM 5 per box and there’s 5 pieces of the “frogs” in a box, making them RM 1 each. These are made in Thailand and I’ve never seen them in my hometown before. The “jumping frogs” work via the knots in the string – the way it’s tied makes the entire firework leap around as it reaches the bends and folds.

It’s quite interesting since our fireworks mostly come from Philippines (like Judas Belt or triangle firecrackers) or China due to our closer proximity. I let the jumping frogs off for the kids to see coz these aren’t really suitable for children. You light up the fuse and throw it away and the firework will jump around.

Happy Boom

From a fireworks enthusiast perspective, how this works is that the entire firework is a long fuse. The flash powder is meant to fizz energetically instead of exploding. You can see this if you bend a Chinese firecracker before lighting it up – it’ll become a sparkler of sorts instead of going boom. The string knots around the folded fuse directs the energy of the combusting powder out the end of that section, effectively propelling it around 5 times.

These are quite cheap to make but it’s still very fascinating stuff.

Peacock Fountain Fireworks

Fireworks Fountain

I got this RM 70 fountain for the kids to see. I’ve let off a similar one called London Bridge in Sibu last year. This one isn’t as impressive since the manufacturer skimped on the gerbs (the tube like things which produces the effects) and there are only 6 inside (1 sparkling rain and 5 directional effects) vs twice the amount in the London Bridge fireworks fountain.

It’s still fun to watch though.

Fuseless Sparklers

Fuseless Sparklers

These are the newer sparklers that don’t come with a fuse. It’s shaped like a tube instead of the “coated stick” design of previous sparklers. The pen shape makes it easy to hold but one downside is that the sparkler can get very hot as the effects burn down into the tube. They cost RM 10, making each sparkler RM 2.

There are Disney designs all over the packaging and firework but I sincerely doubt they have a licensing deal. smirk

Disney Sparklers

You light the top of the sparkler and the contact makes the chemical composition burn with vivid colors. I tried one to make sure it’s safe and passed it to the kids. They seem to enjoy it as all kids do, so that’s the important thing. The thing they love the most is still the Pop Pop contact fireworks though. Haha.

Frog Fireworks

Chinese New Year reunion dinner is tonight! I’ll be letting off the bulk of my firecrackers and fireworks at the stroke of midnight and the rest tomorrow during the first day of CNY. I’ll keep everyone posted on the (much larger) Sibu fireworks roundup – there are multiple large cakes both vintage and new and I have a huge 530 shot monster this year, bigger than anything I’ve ever had. Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Gong Xi Fatt Chai! :)

8 interesting things I bought for Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is coming up in a few days! I’ve got all the things I need. I highlight some of the more interesting/quirky/unusual items I’ve purchased each year and here’s the list for 2016:

1. Famous Amos CNY Hamper

Famous Amos CNY Hamper

I bought this for my dear. I always get her a hamper during Chinese New Year and I heard her mentioning something about Famous Amos hampers. I know she likes the Famous Amos cookies so while at Curve one day, I went to look and decided to get her something that she enjoys eating. :)

2. Maxim Mini Egg Rolls

Maxim Mini Egg Rolls

I had gotten the same thing last year but it was the regular sized ones. They didn’t have the miniature size last year. This year, they imported in the smaller sized egg rolls and I bought it for my better half. Maxim is a well-known baked goods brand in Hong Kong (ironically there’s also a confectioners named Maxim in France, where I think they got their name from) and consistently has good egg rolls, although slightly more expensive since it’s imported for RM 68.

3. Sanbanto Bak Kwa

Sanbanto BBQ Pork Jerky

Sanbanto consistently comes up with the best bak kwa (BBQ pork jerky) in town. I always make it a point to grab some every CNY. It makes for a perfect gift as well. This time I bought 5 packs for friends and family while my better half got 2 packs for my dad. They’re a mixture of sliced pork jerky (which is more expensive at RM 69) and minced pork jerky (RM 63).

4. Brand’s CNY Essence of Chicken Hamper

Brands CNY Hamper

This one is for my better half’s parents. Her mom likes to drink Brand’s and I always get them a hamper for Chinese New Year too. Last year I got them a random hamper full of stuff that they might or might not like so this year I thought I’ll go the safer route and give them something I know they’ll consume. Funny story, I actually ordered this online from the Caring Pharmacy ecommerce site. However, I didn’t know it took so long for them to actually send it out and I made a special request to pick it up from Paradigm Mall since I was going to Sibu soon and they kindly accommodated me.

5. RM 20 instant noodles from Taiwan

Foos Kitchen Chili Beef Noodles

This is more like a purchase for Chinese New Year since you’re so busy entertaining guests to cook. I’ve never seen a RM 20.15 bowl of instant noodles before. This is Foo’s Kitchen Chili Flavored Beef Noodle Soup. It contains a 600 gram single serve microwavable bowl that has real beef slices and pork bone broth. I haven’t eaten it yet but it sounds good. There’s also the novelty of eating a RM 20+ dollar bowl of instant noodles! That’s the second most expensive instant noodles I’ve had. The most expensive is still the RM 62.50 bowl of Maggi instant noodles. smirk

6. Scotch Brite Chinese New Year Monkey Pad

God of Prosperity

I didn’t buy this per se. I just happened to be at the hypermarket beside me, stocking up on drinking water, when I saw this guy dressed up as the God of Prosperity walking around the cashier exits. One of the girls came up to me and asked if I wanted a free monkey shaped Scotch Brite pad.

Scotch Brite Monkey

It’s a limited edition sample meant for Chinese New Year so I thought it’ll go well here. It’s the Year of the Monkey, which is why there are so many monkey themed motifs. I gave it to my dear.

7. Starbucks Exclusive Coffee Wafer Rolls

Starbucks Exclusive Coffee Wafer Rolls

This is an interesting one – I didn’t plan for this purchase at all. I had gotten all I needed for CNY and was about to fly back to Sibu when I chanced across this at the airport. It was RM 42 and came with a free drink! I had time to kill before my flight at KLIA2 so I bought one. The barista was kind enough to let me choose *any* drink so I went with the latest Strawberry Red Velvet Mocha Frappuccino under the new Starbucks Espresso Confections.

Starbucks Ang Pow 2016

It came complete with whipped cream. This drink would normally cost around RM 20 for the largest size at the airport so that’s a significant discount from the “free large drink with purchase”. I also got two nice Starbucks ang pows from the barista.

8. Crab Stick Crackers

Crab Stick Crackers

This is the most amazing and wonderful thing I’ve ever seen. Yes, this is the first time I’ve seen it, although I’ve heard rumors of delicious morsels of surimi (crab sticks) that’s been deep fried as a Chinese New Year snack. It has the distinctive red color from the crab sticks, which are actually made from fish paste and crab flavoring. On the plus side, the color is very auspicious too. My dear’s mom got this for our family coz I was so intrigued by it. The crab stick crackers sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it! Happy Chinese New Year, everyone.

Shopping for Chinese New Year clothes!

Shopping for CNY

I don’t make a big deal out of shopping for clothes every Chinese New Year. It’s a tradition to wear new garments but some years I didn’t buy anything or just got a pack of red underwear (which turned out to be the best I ever had).

Onitsuka Tiger

However, I wanted to get my better half some clothes so we went to purchase new attire over two weekends.

MUJI

We ended up buying more stuff for me. My dear got me two awesome shirts from MUJI, one long sleeved casual and one work shirt from MNG and a pair of “drop crotch chinos”. I have no idea what that last one was, she just thought I ought to wear something different. smirk

Clothes

I did manage to get her something though – we went to Levi’s for a pair of denims and H&M for more garments.

UNIQLO Disney Chinese New Year Collection

I also got attire for the kids.

Disney Chinese New Year 2016

I really liked this shirt but they didn’t have one in my size. It’s from the UNIQLO Disney Chinese New Year 2016 collection.

Onitsuka Tiger Asics

I spent the most in Onitsuka Tiger. I had wanted a pair of bright blue sneakers from adidas a few months ago but unfortunately they were out of my size. My dear remembered that I liked that particular shade of blue and brought me to Onitsuka Tiger to get a similar pair.

ASICS Onitsuka Tiger

Onitsuka Tiger don’t make their own shoes. They’re actually made by ASICS and branded as Onitsuka Tigers. Interesting, I didn’t know that. It makes sense though, why would an apparel company go into the shoe business when they can just co-opt and OEM (rebadge) from an existing sports company? Pretty smart business move.

RM55 Socks

I do like the brand though and since there was a 30% sale on accessories if you buy footwear, I got two pairs of socks to go with them. Unfortunately, the discount is only valid for one (1) item so I also got an overpriced RM 55 pair of socks from Onitsuka Tiger. Haha.

CNY Shopping

It was fun going shopping with my better half though and I got all my Chinese New Year wardrobe sorted out. The reunion dinner is coming up soon! Have you all gotten all your shopping done?

Peacock Fountain Fireworks

Peacock Fireworks Fountain

We were at the wet market on the weekend when I saw this firework. This is a RM 70 display-in-a-box. It’s a fountain that’s built almost exactly like the beautiful London Bridge Fireworks I got last year. This one is called 孔雀开屏 – it means Peacock Blooming but the last two words also represent “blossom” (like a curtain). I was surprised when my dear read the Chinese characters for me. I didn’t know she could read Chinese!

Peacock Fireworks

I decided to grab it for the kids, since a similar fountain I got last year was very nice. This isn’t made by the same company though, it’s likely a clone of the more famous London Bridge Fountain Fireworks but the basic design is the same.

I grabbed the kids and we let it off in the park, on a stone bench so it’s elevated:

I totally forgot that the camera was set to QVGA mode so it’s not recorded in HD. Sorry for the poor quality, I always keep it at HD 1980 x 1080 for recording but the settings were changed and I didn’t realize before I pressed record. You still can see what the firework looks like though.

Peacock Fireworks Taken Apart

The kids liked it but I thought it was a poor imitation of the original London Bridge Fountain. It has less gerbs (the things that shoot out the effects) and doesn’t last as long. The range of colors and different effects were also inferior but generally KL doesn’t get the quality fireworks we do in Sibu. However, it was still fun for the kids to watch and that’s what matters. :)

Our RM 890 8-Head Abalone Poon Choy Dinner

Poon Choy

This is a Chinese New Year tradition that I do with my better half and the kids. Her parents usually come along as well so it’s 6 pax for our poon choy dinner. I make it a point to do a lot of research before ordering the year’s poon choy (which is a big bowl feast with lots of stuff inside) and decided on Unique Seafood, Kota Damansara for our 2016 table.

Prosperity Poon Choy

I had to order and pay for the poon choy in advance – it costs RM 411.65 for a 5 pax poon choy with with 8-Head Abalone. It says RM 374.20 nett on the poon choy reservation slip, but that’s for take-out only. You get a 16% surcharge for service and GST if you dine-in, which is what we opted for this year.

Table Reservation

I made reservations for a table of 6 for 6:15 pm.

Seafood Fish Tanks

My dear’s father is a huge fan of fish so that was one of the reasons I had chosen this place for our Chinese New Year dinner. They have a wide range of seafood on offer – everything from lobsters to fish. It’s also super fresh (since they’re still alive and in aquariums) and you simply walk over to choose the specimen that you want and the chef will cook it for you.

King Grouper

He went for the King Grouper (RM 173/kg) and one of the waitresses fished out the 1.3 kg creature and it eventually ended up on our dinner table.

Abalone Salmon Yee Sang

I also wanted to have yee sang with everyone so I asked for their most premium version, which was the Abalone and Salmon with Fuji Apple Yee Sang (RM 160.90 for half portion). It’s good for them to offer 1/2 portions since a full portion would be too much for our table of 4 adults and 2 kids.

Lou Sang

The abalone was very good and sliced well, but the salmon was a little sad looking. We later found out that Japanese restaurants around Klang Valley has started offering fresh salmon and other seafood for yee sang at extremely competitive prices. Nevertheless, it was the symbolic tradition of the lou sang toss that means more than the food itself.

2016 Poon Choy

The 8-Head Abalone Poon Choy (RM 411.65) came next and it was enclosed in a claypot, complete with lid, and a heating source at the bottom. I dare say that this was the best poon choy we’ve had over the years and the hot nature of the ingredients contributed to that. Of course, the awesome selection of goodies was cooked to perfection too.

8-Head Abalone

This year had 8-head abalone, fresh prawns, fresh scallops, black moss, sea cucumber, huge sheets of fish maw, oysters, dried scallops, roasted duck, steamed chicken drumsticks, mussels, mushrooms, abalone slices and plenty of vegetables at the bottom. There was a lot to eat! Unlike last year’s poon choy, our 2016 poon choy was cooked together and all the flavors combined really well.

Grouper

The fish came after the server saw we were done with the poon choy. The King Grouper was cooked two ways – the first as slices of grouper in superior stock. This proved to be a hit as well, the entire grouper cost RM 224.90 (not inclusive of RM 12 cooking charge) and the flesh was soft and tender. I like how the freshness was accentuated by the cooking style too. The slices of grouper rested on soft and silky tofu, a very nice way of presenting it.

King Grouper Soup

The second course for the King Grouper came as a soup. Unique Seafood fried the head and bones and cooked it with some vegetables to produce a flavorful soup. It’s usually taboo to not serve a whole fish for Chinese New Year but since we have kids, it’s a lot easier (and more practical) to have the restaurant slice up the fish so there’s no bones and cook the head separately.

Waxed Meat with Glutinous Rice

I also ordered the Waxed Meat with Glutinous Rice (RM 44.35) which is a Chinese New Year staple. We barely made a dent in this since we were all full by then. I tapao it and we enjoyed it the next day though and it was delicious!

Seasonal Mixed Fruits

The kids wanted to have dessert so I ordered a platter of Seasonal Mixed Fruits (RM 20). They first had this when they came over to Sibu a few month’s ago. It’s nothing spectacular but maybe that was coz we were almost bursting with food at this point. Haha.

RM890 Bill

The bill came up to RM 890.50 for everything. I had already paid RM 414.50 when I reserved the poon choy earlier in the week (you have to pay up-front nowadays since it costs a lot to prepare the top shelf ingredients) so I just needed to pay RM 476 more after dinner. It’s slightly more than if you had booked a banquet but this way we got to choose what we wanted to eat and we had it centered around poon choy, which you can’t do with the banquet option.

Stuffed Scallops

I particularly enjoyed the fresh scallops stuffed into gourds and the fatt choy (black moss – a type of bacteria). I was quite surprised to see the little one eating a whole 8-head abalone by herself too. It was really yummy and we nearly managed to finish the poon choy despite just having 4 adults.

Unique Seafood

It was a great poon choy dinner and I’ll be looking to try a different restaurant’s poon choy around this time next year. Chinese New Year is coming up in less than a week’s time! Happy Chinese New Year everyone! :)

Australian Yee Sang Dinner @ Celestial Court, Sheraton Imperial KL

Australian Yee Sang Dinner

I just came back from my second yee sang dinner of the year. It was a Tourism Australia event for partners and media and this is a dinner I try to attend every single year. It’s always a blast to meet up with the tourism reps and the food at Celestial Court is good. This year had an ingredient for every dish (usually seafood) brought over all the way from Australia.

Abalone Yee Sang

I thought that was a brilliant idea!

Prosperity Yee Sang with Tasmania Ocean Trout with Truffle Sydney Green Lips Abalone

Prosperity Yee Sang with Tasmania Ocean Trout with Truffle Sydney Green Lips Abalone
The highlight of the yee sang is the Sydney green lips abalone (something I’ve been seeing a lot in yee sang this year) and the Tasmanian ocean trout. The plum sauce and acidity of this raw salad is spot on. I’ve never really enjoyed yee sang for the sake of it, it’s more like a tradition for me, but Celestial Court’s yee sang is quite yummy.

Double Boiled South Australia Mini Abalone Soup with Fresh Ginseng

Double Boiled South Australia Mini Abalone Soup with Fresh Ginseng and Wolfberries
I love abalone, especially in poon choy, and this year we’ll have another abalone filled poon choy too. The double boiled soup was done really well, with lots of ginseng goodness and a nice baby abalone in the clear broth.

Jasmine Tea Marinated Northern Territory Barramundi with Melbourne Vegemite

Jasmine Tea Marinated Northern Territory Barramundi with Melbourne Vegemite Soya Sauce topped with Fruity Dressing
This is my favorite dish of the night. I’ve had barramundi in Australia before and it’s always with crispy skin. However, barramundi cooked Chinese style with soggy skin is even more fabulous! I like the umami sauce, it’s made with Vegemite and goes very well with the flaky tender barramundi. I saw an extra piece on the table and didn’t hesitate to help myself to seconds. The hint of smokiness from the Jasmine tea marinate is just irresistible. smirk

Wok Fried Queensland Scallops with Celery and Flower Fungus in Premium Scallop Sauce

Wok Fried Queensland Scallops with Celery and Flower Fungus in Premium Scallop Sauce
The fresh scallops were really awesome too. There were two Malay guys sitting beside me (this is a pork free restaurant) and one of them told me this is his favorite dish due to the spiciness. The scallop sauce is actually a hot sambal and it goes surprisingly well with the soft and moist scallops. Very nice.

Stewed Bean Curd and Bean Puff with Dried Oyster Sea Moss and Darwin Broccoli

Stewed Bean Curd and Bean Puff with Dried Oyster Sea Moss and Darwin Broccoli
I am usually not a huge fan of soy bean and tofu byproducts but I was quite hungry tonight since I skipped lunch (was too busy and had to rush to make dinner in time). It turned out that this was quite pleasing to my palate, but no one could finish it, unlike the other dishes.

Five Grain Rice with South Australia Kinkawooka Blue Mussels and Barbeque Meat Topped with Bonito Flakes

Five Grain Rice with South Australia Kinkawooka Blue Mussels and Barbeque Meat Topped with Bonito Flakes
I ate every single mouthful of this individually portioned dish as well. It was the standard filler but I enjoyed the mussels from South Australia. I generally enjoy all types of seafood and would prefer it to any other protein.

Victoria Frost Berries with Chinese Nian Gao

Victoria Frost Berries with Chinese Nian Gao
The nian gao (sticky glutinous rice cake) is usually eaten around Chinese New Year. This was sliced and pan-fried and it tasted good with the tartness of the Victorian frost berries.

Chrysanthemum Ice Cream topped with Western Australia Macadamia Nut Crush

Chrysanthemum Ice Cream topped with Western Australia Macadamia Nut Crush
Wonderful stuff! We were all wondering what the ice cream flavor was since it was very mild when contrasted with the toasted macadamia nuts. I finally got a hint of chrysanthemum and thought it was ingenious to make a chrysanthemum flower flavored ice cream. It’s a very adult dessert, not too sweet with plenty of texture.

Tourism Australia Koala

There was a picture under the ramekins when they served up the ice cream. It’s either a hot air balloon or a tower and the latter was limited to 68 pieces. You can redeem it for a Tourism Australia koala soft toy while the default door gift was a gold wire mesh kangaroo with two Mandarin oranges. I got the first one but they were kind enough to give me one of each. The kids would love it!

HB Shamila

Thanks for the wonderful dinner Shamila! I really enjoyed all the seafood from Australia.

3 delicious pork jerky sandwiches a.k.a. How to use up your CNY bak kwa

Pork Jerky Sandwiches

I bought a lot of bak kwa (pork jerky) for Chinese New Year and we’re still eating them now! Part of the reason is that we’ve gotten gifts of pork jerky as well so the stock keeps on piling up. Fortunately, I like bak kwa and I’ve made three (3) sandwiches made with pork jerky that would satisfy any tastes – one is hot, the other is room temperature and the last one is cold.

1. Open Faced Pork Jerky Sandwich with Gui Fei Meat and Pork Floss in an Omelet

Open Faced Pork Jerky Omelet Sandwich

This is a hot sandwich that I like to make in the evenings. Gui Fei meat is another popular product during CNY – it’s Chinese bacon, smoked with spices. I’ve been baking a lot of bread lately and Red Bean Toast is one of my favorites. I got the idea from a Taiwanese bakery, it makes the bread slightly sweet. I’ll use two eggs with a splash of milk to make the base and add in the pork jerky, Gui Fei meat and sprinkle some pork floss on it before buttering the thick slice of bread and grilling it. It’s delicious!

2. Pork Jerky Sandwich with Pasta and Arrowhead Chips

Pasta Arrowhead Chips Sandwich

The best thing about this sandwich is that it goes very well with arrowhead chips (ngaku chips). I use whatever leftover pasta my better half has and pile it on top of a slice of minced pork jerky. This works best with minced pork jerky instead of the tougher sliced pork jerky for some reason. Just put another slice of regular bread on top and serve with lots of arrowhead chips for a quick late night snack.

3. Bagel with Pork Jerky and Salad

Pork Jerky Salad Bagel

This is my favorite cold pork jerky sandwich! I use a bagel shaped bread (it’s actually more like a brioche) and slice it in half before adding a slice of sliced pork jerky. I like carrots so julienning 1/3 of a stick with a mandolin works for me. I also added some thick sliced cucumbers and mayonnaise on top. There’s lettuce on the bottom of the pork jerky and some sweet corn on the side. It’s a perfect cold sandwich, eat this chilled for the best effect!

My Little Helper

It’s quite fun to think of new combinations! I have one hot, one cold and one room temperature sandwich which I can modify around. Best of all, I have my own little helper! Haha.

The 2015 Chinese New Year Fireworks Roundup!

Fireworks

This year, I decided to get a *massive* fireworks cake instead of multiple small ones like I usually do. I thought it’ll be nice to have a ginormous fireworks cake that requires two (2) people to move and blow all of my budget on that one single glorious aerial barrage. It was already in my mind the previous year and thus I made the necessary orders to get it done.

Fireworks 2015

This is all that I’ve got for Chinese New Year this year – one ridiculously large custom-made 27 kg fireworks cake, one 128 shot fireworks cake and two fountains. There are no firecrackers this year in respect of my late mom’s passing.

Happy Boom 333 shot 27 kg fireworks cake

333 Shots Fireworks

Behold! My centerpiece for this year! It’s 27 kilograms (about 60 pounds) and comes in it’s own box.

27kg Fireworks Cake

This is a custom-made display firework. It’s a divert from a licensed pyrotechnics show, which explains the 1.3G Display Grade sticker and it cost the average monthly household income around here but it’s worth it!

Largest Fireworks Cake

The sheer heft and dimensions dictates that two people was required to lug this monster out and all my cousins (and neighbors) came out to see it coz it’s not everyday someone gets such a huge fireworks cake.

Huge Fireworks Cake

This is one of three custom orders that came in and I managed to snag one of them. Just look at the size comparison to an iPad.

It measures 62 cm x 59 cm x 20 cm and when I lit it, it produced a full four (4) minutes of glory. There’s all sorts of aerial breaks in this 333 shot cake – green, blue and red starbursts, brocada crowns, green bees, white glitter, red chrysanthemums, sparkling willows and golden palm fronds that just blankets the entire sky from the angled fanning tubes in the middle.

I accidentally pressed stop while filming coz I thought it was over but the fireworks cake was merely shifting to the finale, which is an additional 1 minute in duration. You really have to see this video – it’s an *amazing* fireworks cake, the best I’ve ever purchased and it’s well worth the money I paid for it. :)

Happy Boom Magic Fountain

Magic Fountain Happy Boom

This is a gift that I got from ordering the 333 shot fireworks cake. It retails for RM 30 and it was thrown in as a thank you gift. It should be noted that Happy Boom is a very generic name for fireworks and firecrackers and it’s used to describe everything from Happy Boom novelty packets to Happy Boom salutes.

This one has small aerial bursts in addition to fountains but it malfunctioned and ended up burning to the ground.

Burning Fountain

It’s not unlike the Italian Horseshoe Fireworks Fountain I got in KL – they’re prone to overheating due to the stress the gerbs are subjected to (heavy and sustained spurts instead of the lift charge that a fireworks cake produces).

London Bridge Fountain

London Bridge Fireworks Fountain

I really liked this one! It’s beautiful and I wrote about the new London Bridge firework fountain in more detail in another post. You can see the video here:

The gerbs produces bright and varied effects and the unusual colors that came out of this made this the most interesting fountain I’ve seen this year. It retailed for RM 50 but I got it for RM 30 with the bundle purchase of another fireworks cake (reviewed below). That might sound like a lot to pay for a fountain but this was really worth it due to the spectacular display!

Silvesters Pass & Rock ‘N Roll! Pyro 128 shot fireworks cake

Silvesters Rock N Roll Pyro

This is a Swan fireworks item which retailed for RM 120. Silvester is actually the name of a Roman Catholic holiday celebrated in Germany which coincides with New Year’s Eve. This is supposed to be a “new” cake but the catalog number (KT 122) has popped up before so I suspect it’s a re-badged KT 122 with new effects…

128 Shots Fireworks Cake

…and I was right! It wasn’t as grand as my wonderful 333 shot fireworks cake but it added bulk and entertainment for my niece and nephews who were back home for the Lunar New Year holidays and missed the 333 shot monster I let off on CNY Eve.

KT122 Fireworks Cake

The effects of the Swan KT 122 has steadily improved over the years – this one had two series of fanned tubes to angle the aerial shells and there are some new breaks that were too expensive to be put in previous years, like the starting silent comet tail strobes (one of my favorite dramatic effects) and the crossette breaks.

This one is the best in the KT 122 series I’ve seen to date. I love the pace and the dramatic use of strobes – there are actually a lot of them in this cake, so much so that they had to skimp on the other breaks but if you love a beautiful (and not too loud) strobe cake, this would do you just fine. My niece and nephews loved it!

Hope you all had a great Chinese New Year! Enjoy the videos and Happy Chap Goh Meh everyone! :)

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