Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kensington Seremban

Considered one of the best 'western' food restaurants in Seremban, this Kensington is in the Oakland area (not far from the new Tesco). We were told by someone that the restaurant is owned by a couple who lived in the UK for a number of years and now live in Seremban. There is another newer Kensington over at Terminal 2, Era Square in Seremban Town, but R and I have never been to that one. This Kensington is easier for us to get to. So yes the decor is dated! But the food is good! Someday we should try the newer location maybe the food is even better?

Usually we order steak, but we didn't feel like it on our recent visit for an early dinner. We opted for the 'Sizzling Chicken with cheese and ham'. It looks like a mess, but tasted good. We both commented, this is not something I would have ordered when I was living in New York City, far too heavy... but in Asia, its nice once in awhile to get something like this especially for the thick melted cheese and ham which aren't regular ingredients at restaurants here. So for one night it was good. Not sure we would order it again though. I think the plate was 16rm.

We also usually order the Moroccan Rice (normally with chicken, but since we ordered the other chicken dish we went for the seafood version). Well, the rice is always good and the side salad is so tasty. Those big prawns were very good. Not sure the price of this, but the whole meal including an appetizer of two giant fresh oysters stuffed and covered with cheese was 58rm.

619, Jalan Haruan 4/9
Oakland Park
70300 Seremban

other location:
No. 34 , Jalan Era Square 3
70200 Seremban

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Making Homemade Bread in Malaysia

My first ever home baked bread sitting on willow pattern dinner plate

Yesterday I happened into the Bakery Supply Store located in Seremban in the small storefronts across from the Specialist Hospital. The Bakery Store has a few things that the other stores in Seremban don’t stock. Yesterday the Yeast section caught my eye which I must have missed last time I was there. I opted to buy Saf-Instant Levure Seche de Boulanger Dry Baker's Yeast in the small packets because I wasn’t sure if it was the right kind of yeast that I am used to in the States. I came home excited that I’m going to be able to make pizza crust with the yeast. So I am looking online and find that Saf-Instant made in France is one of the best Yeast brands world wide. It makes sense, the French do make good bread afterall! The Saf-Instant site explained this was the instant kind of yeast, which I’ve never used. The Seremban bakery store had some of the other Saf products available too, including larger size bags.

So as I am searching how much yeast to use to make pizza dough with the Saf-Instant product I came across some bread recipes. And then I found lots of blogs talking about Jim Lahey's, owner of Sullivan St. Bakery in New York City, ‘revolutionary’ home baked bread recipe which was featured in the NYTimes in 2006 here. Apparently, everyone in the US has since been baking this home bread recipe of his in their ovens at home. Well, I left NYC in early 2006 so I missed the article and knew nothing to date of the home bread craze going on since. Although I can say I have had some of Sullivan St. Bakery’s bread when I lived in NY and it was fantastic. It’s the kind of ‘gourment’ bread that’s been so popular in NY since the 90s and I would buy this kind of bread often (also to note this bread was always expensive starting at something like $4.00 per loaf and going up up up). One of the big bummers, in my opinion, of Malaysian foods is their bread selection. And Seremban has an even poorer selection than KL. So, I was thrilled, thrilled! to find a recipe to make this crispy type crust bread here in Malaysia.

So yesterday I started looking at the recipes online and other versions, but opted to start by making the original Jim Lahey recipe in the NYTimes figuring I could adapt it later. The only thing I needed was some kind of cooking vessel for cooking the bread inside the oven. I had seen some clay pots at the Family Store near my house, and I was fairly sure they would still be there. So last night I made the bread dough because it needed to sit out for 12 or more hours before the next step.

This morning the dough had increased in size and I went to Family Store and picked up a clay pot. Large in size it nearly fills the height of the oven. Based on Jim’s recipe I think I could have gone for a smaller clay pot, but the next size down there were only two at the store and the covers didn’t fit right on the top of the pots. So I went with the big one at 16.90RM (yes that’s under $6 US). I wasn’t sure if the clay pot was oven safe but for $6 bucks figured I’d give it a shot.... as my mouth was really starting to water for some of that bread.

Inside of this Clay Pot is glazed

Came home and did the whole recipe as called for. I think it was a success, the pot didn’t break or crack and the bread turned out good, there is some room for improvement both for taste and making the process simpler and less messy. R thought the bread could be more spongy and I agree, but overall not a bad loaf for about 30 cents (US). Oh, I might watch Family Store and see if they get any more of the smaller size clay pots, I would buy two so I can fit two of them in the oven at the same time and hence be able to bake two bread loafs at a time. One bad thing about this whole process is the heat from the oven in the house, like it’s not already hot in Malaysia!!!! So cutting down on the time the heat is on is a good thing and baking two loafs at once is better than two in a row.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Having a Cat in Malaysia

T sitting on his favorite chair in the Guest Room (chair is Ikea Snille)

T is around 9 months old now and we enjoy having him in our lives. We found him through Petfinder which is one of the better ways to find a pet in Malaysia. He has already had all of his booster shots (35rm per shot) and has been fixed (operation was around 140rm). I've spent time since September when he arrived finding different cat products, often times finding little selection at high cost. Relatively speaking the cost of having an animal in Malaysia seems higher in proportion to in the US in terms of cost of living.

One of the first things I searched for was good quality cat food. The imported brands like Science Diet and Blackwood and others are grossly overpriced. And I worry, as I have with food we buy for ourselves, about imported dry food. Even when the expiration date is far off, sometimes food like cereals gets stale very fast. Not to mention the possibility of bugs getting the product. So when I see that over 100rm bag of gourmet cat food sitting on the floor of the small and not really visited pet store in Seremban, I'm a bit skeptical. So what to buy? Jusco and Family Store have a number of brands of soft and dry cat food. Some are asian brands that I'm not familiar with. I tried a few of these as well as the Purina brand which I am familiar with. Sure, not a great brand in the US, but at least reputable. Purina foods here seem to pay more attention to nutrition and the food meets the standard set by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) as noted on their products.

So T gets the Friskies hard food at 14.99rm for a 1.5 kg bag. (this price is Family store, Cold Storage in Mid-Valley was charging nearly 18rm per bag and Jusco charges 17rm).

T also gets soft food. What is strange about the soft food selections in Malaysia is that nearly all of them are fish based... Tuna being the most popular, then all sorts of mackerel mixtures. T's favorite by far is Purina's Seafood Platter in Prawn Jelly! The cans come in 400g size and are 3.90rm each at Family Store. The serving suggestions on the back of the can are crazy though.... they suggest a cat the size of T or bigger should eat two full 400g cans of this fish a day!!! T is already battling not being overweight, I imagine how big his belly would get eating this much fish a day.

Cat Litter is also expensive here. A small bag of Tidy Cat (which you know isn't that great) is about 15rm. The fancier brands and clump kinds can run up to 26rm per bag!!!

What else have I noticed so far, well, I'm pretty turned off by the Vets here in Seremban, if we had a real medical issue with T I think we'd have to drive to the big state of the art Vet hospital closer to KL (I forget the name) because from what I have seen at three vets in Seremban, the medical is pretty sad for animals.

Oh another thing that is really interesting... Many many people cage their cats here in Malaysia in big 3 feet or 4 feet cages. I started seeing it on Petfinder and also other places. It's true most houses that have a cat also have a cat cage where the cat spends some or all of its time. I hate this and I couldn't understand why. Well, after having T for awhile I now understand why. I think it's because most Malaysian homes do not have screens on the windows. Therefore, the cats would escape and unless an owner didn't mind their cat being outside (to mix with strays, dogs and even other creatures like monitor lizards or snakes!) then the owner would have to cage if they wanted to keep the windows open. I still won't buy a cage, and our house is big enough that T can be closed off in a room for short periods. Otherwise, I bought a leash for him to put on when the patio doors are open and we are near the patio. He loves to go out on his leash. But guess what? Malaysian pet stores don't really sell yard leashes only short dog leashes for walking a dog. I had to have the yard leash mailed from the US... along with some cat toys.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Seremban Sprawl

View seen from Office window, our neighbor's car park roof

After hearing construction noise for a long time, I looked out the window in the office to see where the sound was coming from and I saw a bulldozer clearing a site within view of our house, just past our neighbor's house and outside of our gated community. This site has been empty and had some trees on it which blocked our view of the houses behind it and a far view of some stores along Jalan Tok Ungku and even further, a low mountain range. The bulldozer had already taken a number of trees before I snapped the photo above.
Well, by the end of two days, all the trees were gone and the space is now leveled. I found out that they are going to build a new bungalow on the land.

Area with circle was cleared after we moved in

This is the second time we have seen a bulldozer, the first a short while after we moved into the house when they were clearing a large amount of trees not far away (image above). The trees that were there totally blocked our view of Jalan Tok Ungku and made the view in front from the big windows on the second story family room lots of trees and green and only the one bungalow house that sits below us. Now there is a break in the trees and we can see, and sometimes hear, faint traffic traveling on the road.
Arrows show where buses are stored.

When we were thinking about buying the house we were concerned not about the other areas that have already changed, but if there would be any construction in the tree surrounded longterm parking lot in front of our house to the right. It is currently being used as a place for parking buses in storage (they aren't moved regularly); so we thought/think the land might be more valuable if it is sold and used for building.

The area's de-treeing has happened sooner than we thought. It makes us want to get some trees and foilage growing in front of the house asap so that if there are more surprises, at least we can maintain our privacy on the property. All of this said, we still have a very good piece of freehold land by Malaysia standards which is quite quiet and private. Only a few cars a day travel on the road right in front of our house because it is within our small 23 house community.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Our Neighbor behind us brought over this bowl of fragrant smelling fruit. She couldn't tell us the english name of of it. So During breakfast this morning we sampled the fruit which has a strong pleasant odor and a rich multi-layered sweet taste. The Fruit seemed ripe but was also a bit 'rubbery'. Overall, a fantastic tasting fruit that we had never tried or seen before.

Each piece of fruit looks like a hollowed out flower bud.

After searching yellow-orange flower bud fruits of Southeast Asia and looking at many photos, I finally came to the conclusion that the fruit is "Jackfruit". Although most of the photos showing the inner fruit of Jackfruit online look like a lighter yellow color, I did see some that are more the yellow-orange color of the fruit we received. We often see these large pods at makeshift fruit stands along the road and often with the more round pod which we think is Durian. We have wanted to try the jackfruit but never got around to it as we didn't know how to cut the pods, or where to buy the fruit already cut. Well, now we know and we will be looking out for more of it!

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Rattan Design Out of Brazil

I saw this beautiful modern rattan-esque furniture. From the Meyer Collection by Pluri Ideas. No doubt unavailable in Malaysia.

For more information check here:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Crab Place on Jalan Tok Ungku

We decided to go to the local Crab restaurant on the corner of Jalan Tok Ungku and Bukit Blossom instead of driving all the way across town to Seremban Seafood Village. This new place is called Restoran Mei Wai Hiong.

Well, let me tell you, it was bad. Bad, bad bad. The fact there were only one other group of customers when we arrived at dinner time was a clue. But, still, we wanted to see if the place might have good crab. The waitress suggested we have the barbeque Crab which she said was the best. So we ordered one 1KG of that and some Kai-lan vegetables and rice.

The place was unorganized, tv was blarring and the only people in the place other than the one table of customers were a bunch of family members who apparently owned the place all talking loudly at one another throughout our meal.

While we waited for the meal, they brought the plates and silverware in a plastic red bowl full of steaming hot water, well at least we knew the plates were clean.

When the vegetables and rice arrived we noticed that the greens weren't kai-lan but some other vegetable. Which tasted ok. We were so hungry we started to eat the vegetables and rice. The crab was nowhere to be found. 15 minutes or more after the vegetables were finished it arrived smelling strangely burnt. The crab didn't have a good taste, not as good as Seremban Seafood. Although this place's side dipping sauce tasted as good. So I used a lot of it to cover the taste. It seems they had just dripped barbeque sauce on the outside of the crab shells.

In the end, the place only cost about $4 US dollars less and that might be because she charged us less as they didnt give us a full 1kg. We definitely won't go back again.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Living Room Coffee Tables

We haven't found any tables for the Living Room and we still aren't sure what we want B to make for us maybe one large rectangular table perhaps? I was thinking that right now the living room was looking a bit bare and a bit cold and un-home-like. So I pulled out the two 34" laminate pieces I had from B in brown and brought them down to the living room. I hadn't thought about two coffee tables, but I have seen some larger living rooms in magazines that featured two. So I placed the laminate on the floor in front of the sofa and sure enough, the two work fine. I had seen some concrete blocks in all kinds of sizes at the construction stores throughout Seremban. I love going to these places to see what materials can be used. Most places think it's weird that I'm out in their big grounds searching junks and construction materials. So I remembered these long concrete blocks that might work as the under part of the coffee tables.

I went back to the place and asked if I could buy a few instead of a full skid. Apparently they are used to make house walls here in Malaysia. So they let me buy 8 pieces and I loaded them into the car. Actually, I couldn't take anymore, because they filled up the trunk. The weird thing about these concrete blocks is they aren't as heavy as they look, but they are heavy enough!

So I came home and started playing around with how to build the base. I found that a table worked best with 8 blocks instead of 4. Which meant that I had to go back the next day and get 8 more blocks for the second table.

All in all, I think they look pretty good. Laminate cost 70RM for both and the blocks were 72RM so for both tables it came to around $47 USD. Not bad for some temporary tables.

I left enough space between the sofa and tables to fit the ottoman in front of the sofa for watching movies.

Below are some images of tables I have collected as possible table styles for the living room: