Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Ad Hog - Porky Palace

The last few years have seen the mushrooming of outright porky places. I have tried most of them: Swine, Naughty Nuri's, El Cerdo, the evergreen Vintry, 3 Little Pigs, my playpen Leonardos, Meet The Porkers, Brotzeit, Ante, Bavarian Beerhaus, The Pork Place Puchong, etc... to name but a few. 

But there was one place which I have heard of many times but can't seem to get there because of the location. Its in Kota Damansara, so to go there for dinner during weeknights will be a nightmare. Weekdays, it will be just as bad unless you work around Kota Damansara.

Now another good friend raved about the place again, so I gotta go.The place is rustically designed, very homey. 

The seemingly nondescript salad was very very tasty owing to a fascinating citrusy mix, making it very delicious.

There's no menu to speak of. Just speak to the husband and wife team of Sam Yew and Kye Yen. Just ask for their best dishes.

The best two dishes, which I would gladly come back for, again and again, the pork knuckle, crackling skin without the usual 5 spice and moist meat tearing off the bone. 10/10.... all pork knuckles should be like this.

The second top dish was the pork stew with carrots, which is similar to beef tendon stew... tender pieces with some fat and the carrots 'plumpishly' soft. The star was the sauce that went with it, served with toasted bread, it shone and declared itself as MSG-free but flavourful with the essence of porkiness all over. 10/10.

The pasta, which most of us can do, was off the charts goodness in simplicity, alio-oilio style with bacon bits, own roasted chilli flakes, garlic and maybe some seafood of the day. 9.9/10 (cause no one can make a perfect pasta). 

Chef refused to divulge full recipe but I think they oil the pan with very good pancetta fat.

I highly recommend this place and they do not charge corkage. But please make your reservations as its a two-person operations and they need to plan their resources properly. Excellent chatty hosts.

Let them take the lead, it is going to cost RM50-70pp on average. Plus ask for their homemade habanero tangy very spicy sauce to go with the pork knuckle. Its highly addictive and to die for, plus 3x more spicy than our usual red chili. Take in drops.

25 Jalan PJU3/45
Sunway Damansara
Tel: 03-78047813
HP: 019-3121922
(closed on Mondays)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Final Frontier for HK Protests

I totally agree with famed economist Andy Xie. He basically concluded that HK's property tycoons were the real source for most of the discontent in HK youths.

 Civil unrest in Hong Kong stems in part from stratospheric housing prices that have locked many residents out of the market, says independent economist Andy Xie. 

 Hong Kong property prices have risen over 300% since 2003. Beijing needs to stop consulting with property “tycoons” and take away their political power, Xie says. 

 How difficult is it to follow Singapore's HDB model? Lee Kuan Yew knew back then that the citizens needed to own a place to feel that they belonged. Only when they belonged would they take on real roots and work for the betterment of society and country. Why can't HK do that? 

Well because of the enormous influence and wealth of the top 4-6 property tycoons. When they got rich early on, back in the 60s-70s, the top few fellas knew each other very well and it would be not far from the truth that they sometimes acted collusively in bidding wars. It was way back then that they all bought as much land as they could, knowing full well that HK was a small place and if you wanted to continue to be in property, you needed to do a lot of land banking. 

Maybe their intentions weren't bad in the first place but as HK progresses, it became clear that they held the spigot to the release of land for development, alongside with the HK government. With each yearly release you will not find the top 4 bidding against each other, but rather one of the top 4 will end up with the winning bid, almost certainly a higher bid than previous year. Thus helping to lift all property valuations and especially their land bank. 

In Singapore, the government owns most of the land, and thus can make a conscious effort for public housing. In HK, the tycoons hold the bulk of land bank that matters. So much so that when Beijing were setting up the legislature Legco, top HK property tycoons were the beacons of influence. It would not be far from the truth to say the Legco is beholden to the tycoons in more ways than we care to think. 

 Recently, Peter Woo of Wheelock and Wharf Holdings, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi of CK Hutchison, Peter Lee Ka-kit of Henderson Land Development, Raymond Kwok Ping-luen of Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henry Cheng Kar-shun of New World Development – issued a joint petition to newspapers last Sunday calling on the public to stop all illegal protests and violent acts to allow stability to return to Hong Kong. It was a galling move and they might not even realise it but it will attract and heighten the animosity against the rich landlords.

But isn't it difficult to "control the land bank flow", after all certainly the HK government owns more land than the tycoons??!! Well, there are many ways to skin a cat. Did you know that 69% of land in HK have been gazetted as protected greens. Altruistic, fantastical urban planning ... or another way to restrict available land over the years?

What good is protected greens when the population is underserved in so many basic facilities??!!


The government-appointed Task Force on Land Supply has pinpointed Hong Kong’s housing needs. The future looks grim. More than 250,000 people are waiting for public housing while many ageing housing blocks need to be replaced. Meanwhile, the population is expected to reach nine million by 2030 . ... The task force reported a land shortfall of some 1,200 hectares, 800 hectares of which are urgently needed. So, the government chooses to build an artificial island off Lantau!

Does Hong Kong need it? Expeditious development of six new development areas in the New Territories would provide 2,500 hectares. Let us not forget the 1,300 hectares of brownfield land; expensive to patch together but much cheaper than building an island. Add to that the 1,000 hectares of farmland and enough acreage for housing to start to emerge. And, do not overlook the massive acreage developers are sitting on.....

Henderson Land Development has a land bank of 650 hectares, Sun Hung Kai Properties holds more than 440 hectares, and New World Development has banked around 250 hectares. They should use it or lose it.

  • Almost every single thing that caused the discontent (besides the tightening laws and regulations from Beijing) can be traced back to the land banking and tycoons control in HK: the prices they pay for property; the rentals and subsequent goods and services to be borne by the public; the stifling rental rates that crimps entrepreneurship owing to ridiculous start up costs ... If you can't forge a way for yourself (being an entrepreneur), you are forever stuck in the brilliant cycle of paying homage and earnings to the landlords. You really are forever working for the man.

  • Go spend hundreds of thousands for your education and you get sucked into this life sucking ferris wheel of greed where you are forever chasing an every rising target in terms of owning your property. And if you somehow got one, it will have a mortgage so high, you end up working your whole life to pay it off.
  • Solution: release more land for public housing; speed up public housing by 3-4x; this will cause a correction to private housing but it is a good price to pay... but you can already see how the decision makers' wealth are so tied to property that they would never be able to do that.
  • Friday, August 23, 2019


    I think many of you will identify with this post. I was away for nearly 2 weeks and my dog Dali was at my groomer's. Mind you I have been at the same groomer for over 9 years. Plus she has a number of cats and dogs as well under her care. I never had any problems before. 

    When I picked her up, she had been chasing cats at her ripe old age of nearly 11. I was disheartened to see her limping towards me when I picked her up. I know how old she was, she was already limping a little when I left her at the groomer. Now she was nearly dragging her feet.

    It was heartbreaking, to say the least. My good groomer has put her on a diet for the last few days owing to her joints/arthritis problem. She looked forlorn and like a reluctant Weight Watchers candidate finishing her ordeal.

    I guess the reason why pet owners feel so attached to their pets is that they have "no one else to depend on". If you chose to have a pet, that is your responsibility. Like a petulant child, there will be times you want to just give up that petulant child. Once you get past that, you realize that their happiness and sorrows are directly correlated to you. They literally have no one else. No distant relatives to call, no country to migrate to.

    What is more galling is the fact that your pets have a short term memory, or rather, a very forgiving nature. You can be angry at them one day, and they will forget about it soon enough. Next day when you are still fuming, they will greet you as if nothing has happened. Who does that? Which human can do that?

    Their magnanimous character causes us to rethink our own limited self, our selfish ways. Why we are sometimes NOT FIT to be even a dog. The death of a pet can hurt as much as the loss of a close relative or friend. It is common for humans to have conflicts with family members over religion, money, politics, relationship strains and so forth—conflicts that may create emotional distance between them. Humans and pets do not have these types of conflicts—pets are 100 percent dependent on their human companion.

    IT'S JUST A DOG ...

    Never has something so wrong been uttered. If you ever have had a pet, that is smackable. 

    Now, that is not the real focus of this posting. I was on a 12 day trip to Sydney with my mum, who will be 80 next year. I might not win the best son award but I pass with 70/100 I think. Every other year I will take my mum somewhere. My other siblings will do likewise. 

    My dog's situation led me to reconsider my relations with my mum. As she lives in Ipoh (and me in KL), I do not see her often enough. I realized that as much as I try to be patient, I am a lot less patient with my mum. 

    The KLIA2 walk from immigration gates to departure gates is a lot like a half marathon. I think I asked her to hurry up twice, it soon dawned upon me that that may be as fast as she can walk nowadays.

    She has never dared to use the automatic scanning gates even though her passport allows her to do so. I forced her to use the automatic gates when we arrived back from Sydney. I said the instructions on the TV screen were clear.

    I kid you not, she wrongly entered her passport 5 times. I was exasperated after the third time. I said look at the screen, it was so clear the instructions. No use. I had to do it manually for her. She said, she doesn't know why she could not comprehend the instructions on the screen. My exasperation was not so much anger but rather the realisation that my mum is getting old. My exasperation was tinged with a lot of desperation.

    MUM & DALI

    My mum and Dali are both getting very old. I guess we will all go through these stages. It is not fun ... but it is necessary. Love has to come hand in hand with responsibility. I don;t know why my tears are rolling down my cheeks as I am writing this.

    p/s Dali is well after some painkiller, and her diet will have glucosamine and fish oil every day from now on...

    Tuesday, August 06, 2019

    Looking Forward To "The Farewell"

    Crazy Rich Asians was outlandish but the story and acting were more than credible for a good movie. Hopefully, it is the beginning of more genuine Asian tales and character complexities by major film studios. It looks like a good trickle from here.

    The Farewell looks to be a stupendous heart-tugging movie that explores filial piety, a person's right to know, the collective being more important than the individual in Asia, and many more nuanced Eastern philosophies and cultural ways when they clash with Western ways and norms.

    Review by Melody C

    If you only had three months left to live, would you want to know? According to The Farewell, it’s common to spare a loved one from a terminal diagnosis in China – and it’s not illegal.

    The film, “based on an actual lie” from director Lulu Wang’s life, centers on Billi (portrayed by Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina), an aspiring writer in her 20s from a middle-class family who emigrated from China to New York when she was just six. Falling behind on her rent and rejected for a Guggenheim Fellowship, Billi struggles to meet the frustrating expectations of her parents (played by Tzi Ma (馬泰) and Diana Lin (林晓杰)). And just when things couldn’t get worse, she learns her grandmother, Nai Nai (played by Shuzhen Zhao (赵淑珍)), in China has Stage 4 lung cancer and only a short while left to live.

    Despite Billi’s objection, the family decides to follow Chinese tradition and keep Nai Nai in the dark about her terminal illness. Instead, they stage an elaborate family gathering – the wedding of Billi’s cousin, Hao Hao (portrayed by Chen Han) – to see Nai Nai the first time in years before she passes. Afraid Billi will spoil their ruse, her parents leave her behind in New York, but Billi defies their order and flies to Changchun by herself to join her relatives and see her beloved Nai Nai.

    While in China, Billi has no choice but to go along with the deception, however, the deliberate dishonesty towards her grandmother causes her to feel guilty, and continuously question the morality of it all. The internal turmoil Billi faces represents the clashes between the Western culture and Chinese culture, a theme prevalent in the film.

    At one point, Billi comments that keeping a medical diagnosis from the patient would be illegal in America. However, her uncle Haibin (played by Jiang Yongbo (姜永波)) contends that the family is bearing the emotional burden for Nai Nai by lying. It’s an eastern concept of collectivism that Nai Nai practiced when her husband was also diagnosed with a terminal illness. Haibin tells Billi that spilling the secret will only rid Billi of her own guilt, as she’s thinking from an individualist point of view – common in Western culture. Though both Billi and the audience gained a better understanding of the deception from this conversation, it’s still a dilemma that they toy with throughout the film.

    But Billi’s visit to China is so much more than just about her Nai Nai and exploring cultural differences, it was one of personal growth. Awkwafina’s stunning portrayal of an immigrant revisiting her homeland, straddling two cultures reminds viewers that as beautiful as it is to have a “hyphenated” identity, finding a sense of belonging is difficult when you are seen as a foreigner in the places you call home. Everything Billi remembers about her homeland is demolished, and even her native tongue betrays her – she sticks out like a sore thumb with her poor Mandarin skills, similar to many Asian Americans in reality.

    Though Awkafina trades in her comedic image for one that’s serious and solemn in The Farewell, her fish out of water performance coupled with her comic timing makes the movie a dramedy. With dark humor scattered throughout the heavy film, you’ll find yourself wiping away your tears to laugh at the lighthearted jokes and silly nuances. Seeing Nai Nai, a dying woman, argue for lobster to be served at the wedding to save face was a much-needed intermission from the heartbreaking moments. Unaware of her fate, the matriarch was busy concerning herself with wedding planning and even grew concerned about the awkwardness between her grandson and his soon-to-be-bride. She even wondered how the engaged couple acts behind closed doors when she’s not there advocating for some affection.

    Playful, powerful and moving, The Farewell taps into a completely different realm compared to the much-appreciated growing wave of Asian American-focused rom coms. As I watched the tear-inducing scene of Billi and her parents bidding farewell to Nai Nai, I looked around the theater made up of a very diverse audience, clearly moved by the film. It was then and there that I realized The Farewell is not just a film for Asian Americans, but everyone, with its universally relatable theme of complicated family dynamics, identity, and death.

    Things To Do During Lockdown

    All local councils, utility companies, construction firms (those with permission) and city planners in Malaysia should take the opportunity...