Monday, 25 January 2010

Muar Food Street

Batu Pahat residents have often claimed arrogantly, that although Muar is the second largest district in Johor, it can never rival Batu Pahat in food, entertainment or business activities. In one aspect, it is true; At one time, Batu Pahat had been notorious for its proliferation of bars and girly barbershops and strip-tease shows. It was even known at one time as a 'little Paris'. Salesmen who came south to do business would always make Batu Pahat their preferred choice of overnight stay. Recently too there have been many pubs that were fronts for sexual activities until the Police came down hard on them with the arrest of many China nationals. So, in a sense, this pride has been misplaced.

Muar has its own attractions, and I for one have always hankered after its Teochew kueh and soon kueh at its famous hawker street. My mother and aunties used to make fantastic Teochew kueh and soon kueh. Sadly, it is just too much trouble to make them anymore, and so whenever I go to Muar, it will be the stall that sells Teochew kueh that I would go to.

The hawker street in Muar

Another shot of the hawker street

Chai tau kueh or carrot cake

This roast and barbecue pork stall is where I used to have my lunch when I was studying in Muar

The lobak stall

Braised duck

Chinese satay (on top of the picture cockles, on the left, pig intestines, on the right, pork)

This is the Teochew kueh and soon kueh stall

On the left, the soon kueh (a kind of Chinese cake with Chinese turnip filling), on the left the Teochew kueh (Chinese cake with glutinous rice filling)

An additional attraction: glutinous rice with barbecue pork slice topping

Teow chiu kueh is best eaten when fried

After all that heat from the sun, settle for a cooling herbal drink

A recently renovated block of buildings that is now a hotel

Another old building that still preserves its old world charm

My friend waiting for his satay; beside him a broken down door of an uninhabited building; I was told that buildings like this would be torn down to make way for the new

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Tiger Prawn Treat

Travellers going south on the North-South Highway, and exiting the Pagoh toll to get to Batu Pahat would have probably wondered where that side road on the left after the bridge leads to. But a few luminaries, including the previous transport minister, Tan Kong Choi, had set foot on that little 'pekan' or small township, Panchor to savour its well-known (at least to some) freshly caught udang galah, or tiger prawns.

There is little in that sleepy hollow to excite the imagination, except for the river which flows by the town and is designated as a station to monitor the quality of water in the river as part of a government programme to clean up the rivers in Johor.

The shop, Han Thay seems to have a long history as evidenced by two photos of the founders. Other than the two photos, there are newspaper cuttings to impress visitors that the shop is pretty well known among food lovers, particularly Johoreans.

One of the dignitaries, the former Minister of Transport, seen with a group enjoying a lunch spread

The town and its river

The restaurant known for its udang galah

This is the best dish: steamed tiger prawns

This deep fried variety is palatable, but after the steamed version, this is disappointing

There are of course other dishes which it is famous for, for instance, the 'jiu he eng chai', but this can be found in any rojak stalls in small towns, the only difference being the restaurant uses peanut sauce instead of the more common sweet sauce used for 'chee cheong fun'.

If you are on the way back from the north and happen to exit the Pagoh toll, it is worthwhile to stop there to try out the food. After the bridge, you will see a straight road on the left. Follow the road until until you see a Chinese primary school; you won't miss it.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Death Of A Relative

I was profoundly sad when told of the news that my cousin brother had passed on after a long illness, at the age of 54. He was destined to be what his nickname described.

Early generations of Chinese were fond of giving nicknames that ranged from the funny to the ridiculous. The nicknames were commonly derived from the Chinese zodiac, namely, the ox (Ah Gu), the pig (Ah De), the dog (Ah Gao), the dragon (Ah Long), the monkey (Lao Gao), and so forth. Others included Ah Xiao ( the Mad), Ah Gong (the Stupid) and Dua Bui (Fatty). But my cousin brother wasn't named after any of these. He was nicknamed 'Her Chor' which literally means 'trash fish'.

Throughout his life, he had been a failure, not only financially, but also as a husband and father. He was the black sheep, so to speak. I realized that he was, to put it cruelly, 'trash', he was destined to be trash as his nickname implies.

Could he have been different were he not given that nickname? He was a man with a glib tongue, even at a young age, a fast learner, a multi-linguist, a leader; somehow along life's path, he was led inexorably down the road of self-destruction. Was it destiny or was it a path wrongly chosen?

He died unfulfilled, unloved, a pauper.

Anyway, I was moved to sadness to see him reduced to ashes and bone fragments at an incinerator at Fairy Park, Pagoh.

A sobering thought came to me: we are just a grain of sand; our death is insignificant.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

'Allah' Debate 4

Dr. Azmi Sharom, a law lecturer suggests that people who demand a ban on the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims should seek their justifications in the Quran and legal enactments. The mind boggles at the justifications used to prohibit the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims:

  • Malay Muslims will be confused
  • Many Malay Muslims will be converted to Christianity
  • Malay Muslims have a special emotional attachment to the Word which non-Muslims should be sensitive to.

Thank God we still have some sane voices around.

For more, read We must never allow the mob to rule.

Racism Rears Its Ugly Head

Monday, 18 January 2010

'Allah' Debate 3

By Ding Jo-Ann and Lainie Yeoh (Nutgraph)

Saturday, 16 January 2010

'Allah' Debate 2

By Ding Jo-Ann and Lainie Yeoh (Nutgraph)


Thursday, 14 January 2010

'Allah' Debate

For those who have been following the 'Allah' controversy, this sums up rather nicely:

By Ding Jo-Ann and Lainie Yeoh (Nutgraph)
For more information read

The Home Minister's response to attacks on churches and insults heaped on the Hindus:

By Ding Jo-Ann and Lainie Yeoh (Nutgraph)

For more information read