Monday, 28 April 2008

An Invitation To Lunch

I was invited for a farewell lunch for Oni's brother Ah Joo at Batu Pahat Ocean Seafood Restaurant. Oni's brother has been back in BP for the past month, and he is flying back to London tomorrow. The midnoon sun was unbearably hot; it is the beginning of the hot, dry season. The restaurant was packed with tourists disgorged from two tour bus. The cool air-conditioned restaurant was a welcoming relief from the scorching sun and heat outside.

Dishes ordered included braised chunks of fish, greens and onions, dried long beans fried in chili sauce, and black pepper chicken. It was however, the dishes featured below that are different.

Appetizers are common in Chinese cuisine, but I found this quite unusual; it is pickled thinly sliced crunchy lotus root; slightly sweet-sour to the taste

Braised sea-cucumber stuffed with a meat filling and siao bak choy

A slice of that delicious stuffed sea-cucumber. I was trying to unravel the ingredients that went into making the meat filling; there was definitely diced water-cress, threads of ham, diced pork, shreds of black mushroom and spices which I could not figure out

Braised sea-cucumber and fish-maw

Close-upof sea-cucumber and fish-maw

Tiny oysters, spring onions, onions, and ginger on hot plate of beaten eggs

The most expensive dish of course was the stuffed sea cucumber at RM 80-00.

Breakfast in Batu Pahat

Every morning, it is a struggle to decide what to have for breakfast. You might say that Batu Pahat residents are spoilt for choice, which indeed we are as there are so many breakfasts you can think of: chee cheong fun, pork porridge, beef noodles, carrot cake, laksa, chicken rice, a wide variety of nasi lemak, mee siam, mee, dim sum...etc, etc. I decided to settle for a simple breakfast at the old bus station at Jalan Omar. It is 3 half-boiled eggs, black coffee, and a packet of nasi lemak. Cost: RM 3.20.

Black coffee and a packet of nasi lemak

Three half-boiled eggs. I was told that the secret in making them is to soak the eggs in cold water after they are half-boiled

This particular shop uses a black soya sauce that suits my palette

Saturday, 26 April 2008

The Cobblers Of Batu Pahat

There are only four cobblers left in Batu Pahat, one of whom is En. Shukri, a sprightly man in his 60's, who has set up shop at the five-foot way along Jalan Abu Bakar leading to the bus station. The cost of repair depends on the complexity of the job ranging from replacing soles to gluing and stitching soles. Business is brisk as many of these shoes sent for repairs are either Nike or Adidas. Leather shoes are also commonly sent to replace the heels. The repair costs range from RM 8.00 to RM15.00.

En Shukri working on a shoe. Look at the amount stuff surrounding him. Further from him is a boy guarding his precious possessions: a stack of cardboards and some recyclable collections

Examining the condition of a customer's shoe

Repairing a shoe

Tools of the trade

Where does he keep all his stuff after a day's work? It must be tedious to cart away all the paraphernalia at the end of the day.

What's Happening To Menara MDBPB?

Does anyone know what’s happening to the 14th storey Menara Majlis Daerah Batu Pahat Barat? The bus terminal for express buses is of course doing good business and the huge awning to shelter these buses and travellers is a welcomed convenience in case of rain. In contrast, the local bus terminal which houses buses that ply the Batu Pahat routes is a dark, suffocating hole that has seen better days.

While a part of the road, Jalan Soga which provides access to the bus station is cordoned off on both sides for local taxis, depriving the public of limited parking lots and adding to the congestion, the taxi terminal on the 3rd floor remains empty.

The first and second floor are occupied by traders and food providers, but the bored faces of these retailers paint a dismal picture of poor business. Many shops have closed down. A retailer recently wrote to a newspaper complaining that traders who have taken up lots in the complex have been losing money due to poor business.

It is disturbing that many of the floors remain empty.

What was the cost of putting up the building? How did the district council finance the building? Is it from the reserves that they have accumulated? Or is it from a bank loan in which case the loan has to be serviced? Can the district council continue to service the loan given the poor occupancy rate? Or was the land leased to a construction company to put up the building and operate and maintain the bus station and the building itself?

It seems like Batu Pahat residents will have to continue to bear the cost of MDBPB's miscalculation.

The 14th storey Menara Majlis Daerah Batu Pahat Barat or MDBPB

The Express bus station outside the Menara

The busy road leading to the bus station. Part of the road on both sides has been usurped by the local taxis plying the district

The cavernous hole that serves as the domestic bus terminal

The entrance leading to the taxi terminal on the third floor

The signboard showing the various floors of the Menara. Note that only two floors are occupied

The Kwong Shiew Association

This morning I was greeted by a spectacle: workmen were busily painting the Kwong Shiew association fence in shocking orange.

The Kwong Shiew Association: pic from

I hope they are not going to paint the whole building orange

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

More Abandoned Pre-War Buildings

As I walked round the old Batu Pahat town, I discovered more and more decaying pre-war buildings.

This building 'Ong Ban Hong Leong" used to sell car spare-parts. It is at the cross-section of Jalan Mohd Akil and Jalan Sultanah

This is also at the cross-section of Jalan Mohd Akil and Jalan Sultanah

This is at Jalan Soga. The window panels have been replaced with glass

This the Thye Ho Thong Medical store at Jalan Soga

This is at the cross-section of Jalan Sultanah and Jalan Mohd Akil. This used to be a clinic

This is the Tai Kong Goldsmith

An abandoned house with a large compound at Jalan Mohd Akil

This is by far the best kept abandoned house: the front

A fortune-teller setting up shop in one of the demolished shops along Jalan Rahmat

Monday, 21 April 2008

Xin Yang Restaurant

There is a new restaurant in town at Taman Setia Jaya. By Batu Pahat standard, the food is pricey. I was just in time to try a couple of dishes, one of which was a tofu with minced spinach. A pretty unique and delicious dish. The tofu costs RM 1.50 a piece. The sweet and sour pork is of course standard fare, but the pork is done just right, juicy and tender. The bao chi, or whole shark-fin soup at RM 58 a bowl was crunchy, and the soup thick and smooth with a hint of boiled dried scallop; the thickness and smoothness is not the result of adding cornstarch as is common in most restaurants. The scallop was boiled to perfection as it had not lost its taste or texture. Another dish was sliced cod fish steamed in light soy sauce, which is a common dish; the flesh is juicy and smooth.

In the midst of inflation, of increases in essential food items, people are still splurging.

Bao Chi or whole shark-fin soup

The soup is taken with parsley and tao ge or bean-sprouts

This fried tofu is unique. A third of it comprises minced spinach and tofu and the rest is pure tofu

The sweet and sour pork

Daniel's Coke Collection

Daniel's limited editions of his coke collection is up for sale. His latest addition comes from coke for the Beijing Olympics. Those interested could drop me a line at the chat box.

Wild Life Fare

Last Saturday we were in for a treat when Oni invited us for some braised wild boar meat. Hunting for wild boars and wild fowls is a common past-time for estate owners and small holders. They are allowed to own shot-guns to rid the plantations and small-holdings of wild boars that destroy their oil palm saplings. The meat was bought at RM 5.00 a kilo. Fowls on the other hand are caught by immobilizing them with a torchlight and trapping them in a hand-held net. Wild fowls cost RM10.00 a piece.

Certain restaurants do provide meat of the wild boar, squirrel, porcupine, deer, wild goat, bat and some times bear’s paw although it is illegal as it is a protected animal. These meats are commonly braised in black sauce, ginger, dried chili, spring onions, onions and a dash of Chinese wine.

Wild boar meat braised in black sauce, five-spice powder and garlic

Slabs of meat ready for the chopper

Oni's wife slicing the wild boar meat

Sliced juicy wild boar meat topped with parsley

The gravy

The best part of the meat is the skin. It separates easily from the flesh

John enjoying the sliced wild boar meat

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Piggy Matters

Protest over the state-of-art integrated pig-rearing project in Selangor by UMNO backed demonstrators although the project was approved by the former Barisan-led state government.

A banner supporting the pig-rearing project by Pakatan Rakyat or the People's Alliance (source: star online)

A banner opposing the project by UMNO backed protesters (source: star online)

Read the report here.