Food – An Answer to All Traffic Jams?

Petaling Jaya, Friday evening. Time is 5.45pm. Petaling Jaya or Pee Jay more commonly known as “P.J.”. A satellite town that was thought up in the 1950s, to be the homes of all those people working in Kay El (no, we are not talking about a Superman movie). Kay El or popularly known as K.L. or Kuala Lumpur, was the capital of Malaysia.

So, living away from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur was to have it’s advantages. The main advantage is coming home to the peace and quiet of your home, which was not too far away from your workplace. Great idea for the 1950s.

As I sit at my workstation, and my memories and thoughts sort of flow through my fingertips, to the Logitech MX Keys keyboard; I take frequent short breaks to go to the kitchen and snack on the last remnants of the walnuts we brought back from the U.S. When the packet was first opened, it had about 3lbs (1) of walnuts. Now, the balance of walnuts from that packet is in grams only. They say (Here we go again with “They say”. I keep wondering who are the “they”, the “experienced experts” who share their knowledge) that eating walnuts is good for health. This can be backed by several health and nutrition sites on the net.

Back to the “Friday evening. Time is 5.45pm.” Jeannie’s work ends at 5.00pm. We were on our way back from PJ to Subang Jaya after I picked (or “fetched”?, as it is more commonly heard in these parts) her up from her office. Subang Jaya, is a city that is 10 minutes away from Petaling Jaya. 10 minutes provided the traffic on the roads to and from it is very light. Peak hours are usually to and from office. Not really…Almost every hour is peak hour.

300 meters into our trip and we hit it. There was no way to avoid it, not in Petaling Jaya, that’s for sure. There was no unchartered route one could use to get out of it. There was no secret passage or tunnel. You cannot go under it. You cannot go over it. It was the infamous PJ traffic jam.

This would be the time radio stations will play the weirdest of music and have the most boring of talk shows aired. You can’t escape it other than to turn it off. Some people might try to brush up on their karaoke skills by singing along to songs that are bluetooth-ed from their smartphones. How much or how long can you sing? It takes at least an hour to get home. This traffic jam is everyday. Many people may have frayed nerves by time they reach home.

Traffic jams such as this has helped Jeannie and I come to a decision to have our dinner early. So, on this Friday evening; we decided to swing by this coffee shop.. I mean “restaurant”, which was a few meters off our route.

This coffee shop has been in that same place for decades. In the early 1980s, there was a stall operating out of this restaurant that used to sell rojak and the best tahu bakar (8) around. Uncle Al, dad’s younger brother living in Perth Australia; can attest to this. He will always bring up the time when, on one of his visits to Malaysia in the early 1980s; he and I came to this particular stall to buy rojak and tahu bakar. We were supposed to tapau (2) it back home to Aunty Maureen’s (dad’s sister) house for supper. It seems that most of the tahu bakar was eaten by me. I of course, deny such a thing ever happened. He will always relate this story whenever the subject of tahu bakar is brought up. (burp!)😉

The attraction of this restaurant today is its fried hokkien mee. We ordered mee / meehoon mixed, fried hokkien style. “What’s so special about this style of frying hokkien mee?”, you may ask. If you did not ask, then ask. I will tell you:

This is unique when the flames thrown up from the stove are huge and orangy in colour, blazing at times nearly 7 or 8 ft above the stove. When you see this, you can tell it is Hokkien style preparation. The huge flames that blare from under the wok, as though the chef…cook, I mean, is sword-fighting it. Clang, clang, hiss, sis, tong…The guy holds the wok with one hand and a long-handled ladle with the other. Holding the wok, he pulls, push, tosses the whole preparation in the air, which seems to land on the tossed food’s other side. Ladle in the other hand like a sword, he fights with the food preparation. he picks the garlic, lard, onions, a bit of oil and other condiments and stirs it into the food. Here, the agak-agak (7) style which means the amount goes by the feel or mood of the cook for that day. Somehow, it nearly always seems perfectly prepared.

I will let you in on a secret: If there is not enough of clanging of the ladle against the wok, the food won’t be good. There is not enough effort and style put into that dish. So, next time you go for fried hokkien mee; these are some of the things to look out for.

This amazing firend hokkien mee / meehoon mixed should by eaten with this chili paste to take the flavour and taste to the next level. Ho chiak!

On one of our visits to this restaurant, we learnt that there was a stall selling popiah. This is not just some ordinary popiah . This, I can with full confidence say is one of the best popiah I have ever eaten, certainly the best in these parts. The skin, the ingredients are always fresh and full-bodied. The sauce, the chili paste simply amazing. A bit of a warning though: this popiah is quite spicy. It is delicious all the same.

Fresh, any way you look at it.
Tastes as good as it looks…even better.
Healthy food. Vegetables, “mah” (a bit of Chinese slang thrown in for good measure).

The food usually comes quite fast after we order. Tasty. Enjoyable. Get away from the maddening PJ crawl. Though we don’t really need an excuse to come and savor good, simple food.

By the time we get back on the road, the jams have quite gone. Traffic is still heavy but moving and tolerable. We reach home at around 8.00pm. Just in time for some coffee, drunk from my Hydro flask mug. With the lid on, it manages to keep the temperature of the drink for several hours.


  1. Kuala Lumpur is a city in Malaysia
  2. Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya are cities in the state of Selangor, Malaysia
  3. Hokkien mee, literally “Fujian noodles”, is a series of related Southeast Asian dishes that have their origins in the cuisine of China’s Fujian (Hokkien) province. Fried Hokkien prawn noodles, known locally as Hokkien mee, is a dish comprising thick yellow noodles fried in a rich prawn and pork stock and served with chilli and lime on the side. It is a popular local dish that has various accounts of its origins. wikipedia
  4. High in protein, iron and fibre, this flavoursome stir-fry made with Vegie Delights Savory Mince is so nutritious and great for a quick, healthy meal.
  5. “Ho chiak” means very delicious in Hokkien
  6. Popiah (薄餅) is a traditional snack believed to be of Chinese Hokkien origin. Popiah, which means “thin snack” or “pancake” in Teochew, refers to a spring roll made from thin flour skin wrapped around finely chopped vegetables and meat. Today, most popiah main ingredients include: Popiah skin, bean sauce, filling of finely grated and steamed or stir-fried turnip, jicama, bean sprouts, French beans, lettuce leaves, grated carrots, Chinese sausage slices, thinly sliced fried tofu, chopped peanuts or peanut powder, fried shallots, and shredded omelette. Variations. wikipedia
  7. “Agag-agak” is Malay for estimate, vagueness, uncertainty. wiktionary
  8. Chinese rojak made with a combination of fresh fruits, vegetables, you tiao tossed in sweet, savory, spicy, umami, nutty rojak sauce. Rojak is a popular street food. Grilled Crisp Tofu Pockets (Tahu Bakar) – Tahu bakar, or grilled crisp tofu pockets, is an Indonesian/Malaysian snack.

The Third Day. The Festivities Continue…

Its the third day of the new year, Chinese New Year, that is. Malaysia being Malaysia; the choice for food is endless, regardless of festivities. Having said that, at festivals, as it is now, Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year; cookies and certain types of food are specially prepared only during this festivity. Love it.

However, today; Jeannie and I joined her parents, her sister Judy who is here in Malaysia for the holidays; and Jeannie’s and Judy’s cousin, Cecilia; her husband Siow and their son, for lunch at Kayu Nasi Kandar in Taipan, USJ Subang Jaya; today. The food was good. I abstained from rice…of course. Stopped eating rice since 2007.

Before long, it was dinner. I said to Jeannie, “It’s been a long time since we have had satay”. So, off we went to the Taj Curry House in SS12, Subang Jaya. The diva took our order of roti canai and Nescafe kurang manis (less sweet which means less sugar). We placed our order for 5 sticks each, of chicken and beef satay with the satay chef, or the griller…better known as “boss”.

The meal was very nice. The satay was well marinated, the beef more on the sweet side. We were kind of full by the end of the meal. Delicious! Total cost of the meal US$6.30.

The 5 sticks each, of chicken and beef satay (skewed on the sticks), in the middle. It came with cucumber, onions and kutupat (rice cake); all of which is dipped in the somewhat sweet peanut sauce, which in some restaurants may serve a more spicy version.

As soon as I got back, which was about 8.15pm; I went for a short 7km walk to work off some of this meal. I joined Sim, my neighbor from a couple of streets away for the walk. It started to rain about 10 minutes after I started walking and then became intermittent. Our walk was cool and pleasant, though a bit wet.

Enjoy and have a great day ahead.


Time: 4.15pm. Left the house in USJ Subang Jaya, enroute to P.J. At the traffic light intersection near USJ 4/1; a container trailer and truck (Cab head), was creating a scene. While doing a U-turn maneuver at the intersection; the trailer dislodged from the truck and buckled on its stand legs, tipping over to the left dangerously, with the possibility of flipping on its side.

I thought that this incident (not accident), was sure to cause a massive traffic jam on my way back home later in the evening.

I did the couple of things I wanted to do in P.J.. Then, I picked Jeannie up from her office just after 5.00pm.

I informed her about the truck and container trailer incident and the “for sure” jam we would face. Bad enough, we had to snake our way through the fastest routes or least amounts of P.J. traffic jams.

I suggested we go for some ice-cream as a pre-celebration to her birthday tomorrow (Jan 19th). So, we went to The Ice-Cream bar which was sort off on our route to go home.

To calm our nerves a bit and set us in “relax-mode”; our ice-cream came with a bit of liquor. We ordered “Chocolate Baileys” and “Crunchy Coffee Whiskey”. Both flavours were excellent, with the Chocolate Baileys coming in a bit strong. The “Crunchy Coffee Whiskey” was more balanced and less strong in taste. The crushed nuts in it seemed to have created the balance.

The Chocolate Baileys on the left, and the Crunchy Coffee Whiskey on the right.

We spent about 45 minutes at The Ice-Cream Bar. When we got into Subang Jaya which was about 6.30pm, the traffic jam did not seem to let up. So, we made a “B-line” to The Taj Curry House in SS12.

I had a couple of roti canai and Jeannie had a tosai. Both our orders came with the usual 3 small side dishes of curry and sambals. We also ordered “chicken very well” more commonly know here as chicken varuvell which was spicy at just the right level. Food was great as usual.

And for their new waitress who thought she was some kind of diva…

The Ice-Cream Bar is definitely a great way to get off the beaten traffic snarls and stress of Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya.


Malaysia is a country of festivals.

When I was in school, all I knew was festivals usually meant holidays (yay!), a never ending variety of great food, meeting and spending time with family and friends. Festivals usually meant vibrant colors. And, I love the color of life.


Today, we celebrate the “Festival of Lights”, where good triumphs over bad. Here, when I say, “we”; it means that Malaysians love to celebrate festivals, not so much just to celebrate a festival, regardless; but to celebrate with our friends and family. My good friend and Tudor neighbour, Teoh; in his excitement to wish everyone celebrating Deepavali, sent me a greeting, too.

Teoh’s message to me last night.

This is how it is here, where we look forward in celebrating the many faceted cultures with the people around us.

Coming back to school days, you would think we guys would be fed up of seeing each other almost everyday in school. Then, on a holiday; we are together again. But it never seemed that way.

Parents and other family members always greeted us warmly.

Deepavali, The Festival Of Lights, was a celebration no different in terms of joy and festivities. Admittedly, at that time, we never paid too much attention to the meaning where “good triumphed over darkness”. For that matter, we never paid too much attention to the meaning of many festivals. We looked forward to the food. Where there is food, there you will find the La Salle boys. I used the “present tense” in the last sentence because that statement still holds true, even today.

A variety of delicious sweets and snacks

We were in each other’s homes so often that parents knew us by our names. We guys really had a great time as schoolmates. Our teachers knew us by name, usually for a couple of reasons. One was we were saintly students, the other was because there were some of us who were rascals. I highly doubt the first reason.

A rare picture – Chef Daphne at work. The question is when is she off work? 😉

Malaysians love to eat. Every opportunity they can get will almost center around food.

Jeannie and I as parents, have been involved with our daughter, Laura’s; competitive swim racing activities and fraternity for over 12 years. This I can say: There is an awesome, and I mean awesome friendship that we have with other parents and officials and organizers of swim championship competitions.

In Selangor’s, for that matter Malaysia’s swim competitions and officials fraternity; when the name “Daphne” or “Jeyamani” is mentioned; everyone knows of the fiercest, strictest chief referee. She is the referee that seems to be at any part of the pool deck at all times, to ensure a perfectly run meet. Off duty, she is one of the friendliest and funniest people around.

She also fantastic cook. Come Deepavali; we get to try the many, many dishes that she somehow manages to whip up.

This is a picture showing just some of the dishes that Daphne cooked at a previous Deepavali gathering. Yes, I know. It is evident there is the touch of a chief referee – everything is labelled and neatly organized.

Jeannie, dressed for the occasion.

Jeannie and I, wish all friends and relatives celebrating Deepavali; a very happy and joyous Deepavali.

Kachang Hijau dessert, anyone?

Rather cool for a Thursday afternoon. There was a bit of a shower or heavy downpour that lasted 10 minutes top.

As noon was approaching earlier on, I was still trying to figure out what to write. My ideaSketchpad 💡 had essays at various stages of completion (some with 3 or 4 words in them and that’s completion?). Here’s the thing: I’ve got to get into the grove of things, the feel for words, sentences, paragraphs, stories to flow from my thoughts to my fingers, tapping the keypad and showing up on the computer screen.

So, whatever was on my ideaSketchpad 💡was not a “Thursday or a now article” to work on. Have you ever got into a feeling like that? Opened your wardrobe, full of clothes yet don’t have anything to wear? Yeah, yeah… I know I used this line in the last article I wrote yesterday. It does drive home a point. The same goes with an artist – his studio could have lots of unfinished pieces, yet he does not know what to work on for that day.

While trying to figure out what to write; I served myself a bowl of green beans desert or as it is more commonly known as bubur kacang hijau, which Jeannie boiled yesterday. “Bubur” is the Malay word for porridge.

This is a thick gravy version, the way my mum used to make it when we were kids.

A very simple dish. It is boiled in water for er…awhile. Added in is brown sugar (healthier than white sugar), not too much though. We don’t want it to be too sweet. Coconut milk, commonly known as “santan” in Malaysia; is a main ingredient. It is added in to bring out the richness of this desert. Then, a bit of salt is added in, too. That’s it.

The way we like it is thick. Unlike the type you find as a desert in Chinese dinners, where it is very watery with hardly any coconut milk.

Other varieties include boiling sago seeds with it to add a different flavour. Some people add slices of banana or sweet potato – all this to create a different variant to the original.

As you scoop a serving of bubur kacang hijau and bring it towards your mouth; its beautiful aroma brings a smile to your face. When you eat it, the beans, together with the coconut milk and brown sugar melted in it, takes its simplicity to a whole new level – divine. 😋I’m a simpleton – easy to please.😉

In the family of this type of desert, there are also “Pulut Hitam” (Malay for glutinous rice) and “bubur kacang merah” (Malay for red bean porridge) varieties. Equally delicious.

For those who are weight watchers, it would be advisable to work it off with exercise. I will go out for my 10km brisk walk and weigh myself when I get back after my walk, everyday. I think my weighing scales aren’t exactly truthful to me. It does not want to go down to my “within normal range” or lower. It showed that I am 2kg overweight today.

We’ve also got these green peas biscuits, too:

This is greener than normal because it is pandan flavoured. Simply delicious.

These green beans / peas biscuit is more commonly linked to the state of Penang. Also, if you were to make a visit to Jonker Street, Malacca; you will find several bakeries making these biscuits, in a variety of choice, too. You can buy them as they come straight out of the oven.

It becomes really hard to keep your weight down and in check when we are spoilt for choice of food. Safe to say, the choice is unlimited. Different parts of Malaysia will prepare the same dish like the bubur kacang hijau with a twist in preparation for example.

Hey, it looks like I have penned down / Logitech MX-Keys (brand) typed an article here. When it comes to food, there is plenty to talk about.

Let us know how you like your green beans, red beans, pulut hitam in the comments section and it may come up in a future article.

Wishing all Malaysians, “Happy Malaysia Day”!

A more watery version. Lisa’s Lemony Kitchen


  1. Penang and Malacca are two states in Malaysia.


My 6-in-1 pack, yes, I do have 6 packs but I have stored them into a single pack for easy transportation of self.

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking about having some sausage rolls. I mean some really good sausage rolls.

I was first introduced to “sausage rolls” at my cousins’ birthday parties. Richard’s, Neil’s, Judy-Ann’s and Francis’ birthday parties many years ago; in their childhood birthday parties, always had sausage rolls as one of the food dishes, amongst the cakes, ice-cream and drinks. Their mother, my Aunty Maureen, who is my dad’s sister; used to make the best sausage rolls on this side of the planet. I wonder if they still remember. Lovely lady, bless her heart. I have the same birthday as her, July 10…Ahem!😂

She used to make mini sausage rolls. She used canned mini sausages. And her secret was in the pastry. It formed firmly around each sausage, not hard, not flaky. The pastry used to have a slight shine when it was just out of the oven, freshly baked. OK. Maybe, it is a combination of the sausage and the pastry, both at its optimum level of taste.

Somehow, I may be right to say she made her wonderful sausage rolls because she knew I would be at the parties.😉😅

The so-called sausage rolls these days when you ask for them, are actually sausage buns. Obviously, bakeries or most of them, do not seem to have a clue when you ask for sausage rolls. It’s because their mammas don’t dance and their daddies don’t rock n roll. Just so you know that’s a special ingredient for making ’em delicious sausage rolls.

And the sausage is boiled (looks that way) instead of frying them.

I think the perfect mini sausage roll will have a firm pastry. The pastry should not be hard, but breaks in your mouth when bitten. It generally will have a slightly shiny surface, and baked to a slightly brown shade.

Picture this: Sitting down, unwinding from the stresses of life (for some. Those with purple Lambo Hurracans and wear $1,500 batik shirts – no stress). With a nice triple shot expresso (I know – should just get a big glass: “bro kopi-o kaw kaw, gelas besar”), accompanied with a small plate of half dozen or more perfect sausage rolls.

I came across this recipe for mini sausage rolls by Beth Sachs. Not exactly what I am talking about. The pastry looks the crumble type. The sausage looks home made. All the same, they sure look good.

Her recipe is in the notes below. Do head on to her website for many, many more recipes.

With all the eating, even if it is moderately, I will still go for my walks. I have reduced the daily distance by about 25% to 15,000 steps, which work out to about 11 kilometers.

It’s mid-week. Prepare for the days to come and the week heading towards the weekend. So have fun, let loose and rock n roll.🎵🎶

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Check out for Beth’s Puff Pastry Sausage Rolls recipe. There are many, many more wonderful recipes on that website.

Kenny Loggins and Messina: Your Mama Don’t Dance