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Archive for June, 2007

Ah See Wantan Mee

When BP folks do come back to town, one of the first thing they have to eat is Ah See Wantan Mee. This business has been passed down through generations. This shop is located at Jalan Jenang, the shophouses situated behind OCBC Bank. You will never miss the signboard, its near the taxi stand.
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During lunch hour, there is usually a big crowd waiting to be seated, some of the customers even resort to waiting outside just so they can get a seat in this shop. If they see a table has paid, they will stand next to the table. When I went there, it was past lunch hour, but there is still a sizable crowd in it.

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This is the owner of the shop, we call him Ah See. The Ah See name has been synonymous with this business ever since his grandfather and father times. He was busy cooking when I took this picture, he even looked up to me and gave me a smile.

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The main ingredients of a Wantan Mee is the wantan or wonton. Wontons (Traditional Chinese: 餛飩; Simplified Chinese: 馄饨 details), also written as “wantan”, “wanton”, “wuntun”, are a type of dumpling common in Chinese cuisine. A wonton is made with a thin ten centimeter square lye-water pastry wrapper made of wheat flour, water, salt, and lye, and filled with savory minced meat. The filling is typically made of minced pork, coarsely diced shrimp, finely minced ginger, finely minced onions, sesame oil and soy sauce. Wontons are commonly served in soup or can be deep fried.

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Other ingredient would be the ‘char siew’ or ‘char siu’. “Char siu” literally means “fork roasted,” which is the traditional cooking method for the dish of the same name. Forks hold long strips of seasoned boneless pork in a covered oven or over a fire. The meat, typically pork shoulder, is seasoned with a mixture of sugar or honey, five-spice powder, soy sauce, red food colouring (optional) and sherry or rice wine (optional). These seasonings turn the exterior layer of meat dark red, not unlike the “smoke ring” of American barbecue. (Please ignore the money container =p)

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A simple price list for the wantan mee, from small plate to big plate to double plate. Double plate simply means more mee or noodles. Their noodles are homemade, meaning they knead, stretch, pull and cut it in their own kitchen. The recipe of which is not known to the public but only to the See Family. Which is what makes people come back for more, the texture of the noodles.

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This is what a bowl of wantan looks like. This soup isn’t too sweet like what others served. It’s homecooked soup with little or no MSG at all. Those green colored things are chopped spring onions.

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My girlfriend had a bowl of soup wantan mee. Its just a plate of wantan mee cooked in the soup of wantan you saw earlier.

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This is my large plate of wantan mee. One thing I like about the mee is the springy effect it gives me when I chew on it. It’s not too soft nor too hard. Stories have been told about Ah See’s father learning how to make homemade noodles from one master. One day, Ah See’s father wanted to buy the recipe from the master but the master refused to sell it, hence Ah See’s father decided that he will try to make his own noodles by hook or by crook. And that’s how the mee come to this after all these years. If you happen to sit near the kitchen, you will see this small blue room where it’s locked most of the time with people coming in and out covered in flour, thats the Ah See’s Secret Noodle Making Room.

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After a stomach filling meal of wantan mee, time to washed it down with home cooked soya drink. Thick and sweet, very nice.
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Batu Pahat during its heydays was a trading post. A lot of barges used the Batu Pahat River to transport their goods to town. There are also warehouses for those rich enough to own one, to store their goods. Most of these buildings were constructed during the 1930s. This is what makes the market area unique with its pre-war buildings.

The picture below shows one of those pre-war buildings, you can even see the year it was built at the top of it.

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This is used to be an old goldsmith building but it is now being rented to other businesses.

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Part of the town where most of the cloths and sundry shops are located.

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This is entrance to the famous Pasar Pagi or some prefered to call it the Pasar Melayu. In there you can find fake watches, cheap perfumes, live pets, plant saplings, unique vegetables not found in supermarkets, freshly ground coffee powder, etc. The covered roofing was added recently because of the merciless morning sun. I still prefer it to be uncovered to retain its originality.

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These buildings used to overlook the river, hence the design of a watch tower at the top of this old warehouse. Notice that the designs of such buildings are different from today.

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Lor mee (Chinese: 卤面) is a Chinese-inspired noodle dish served in a thick starchy gravy and fat and flat yellow noodles. The dish is eaten by Hokkiens (Min Nan speakers) in Singapore and Malaysia. The thick gravy is made of corn starch, spices and eggs. The ingredients added into the noodles are usually ngo hiang, fish cake, fish, round and flat meat dumplings (usually pork), half a boiled egg, and other items depending on the stall and the price paid. Vinegar and garlic can be added as an optional item. The dish is also eaten with red chilli. Traditional versions also include bits of fried fish as topping though few stalls serve this version anymore. This old stall has been here before I was even born.

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Another one of those old warehouse and office building. This has been abandoned for a long time.

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Part of an old building with its pillars and walls covered in motifs designs.

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Run! Run for your life! A hamster oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the morning market.

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Young fruit trees sold with each fruits photos on displayed to identify them.

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A typical scene with the roadside stalls mixed with the sundry shops selling their wares to the public. If you want to buy Sukun (bread fruit), tapai pulut or tapai ubi, this is the only place where you can find them.

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Live goldfishes waiting for someone bring them home before they suffocate.

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Lastly, a simple roadside stall selling local fruits, this one here is selling star fruits.

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You can see this stall when you are driving along Jalan Kluang, its located before the junction to Parit Besar. Not exactly beside the road, but a bit in the inner road.

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The number of cars you can see parked in front of the stall

The first thing you see this stall is the crowd in it. It usually draws a larger crowd during the weekends especially Sunday Mornings. The food and drinks here are very tasty. The drinks also do not have much sugar, nice and thick.

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The Sunday Morning crowds. If you come later in the day, you have to queue for your seats.

There will be one guy in charge of the drinks department. Another lady in charge of the ‘kueh’ department as well as the friend noodles and nasi lemak section. 3 person will be in charge of flipping the roti canais and 3 more to knead the dough. Very efficient, I must say. The orders usually come in thick but the speed they serve the food is also very fast.

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The kitchen aka ordering section.

Seating arrangements is very basic. There are also longer wooden tables for big family sizes.

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Simple chairs and plastic covered tables

The roti canai kosong I had for breakfast. Very crispy and well done. The dalchar (gravy) is rich in potatoes and very thick. Even the optional sambal is not too sweet nor too spicy.

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Crispy, brown and fresly cooked roti canai. It breaks easily.

My girlfriend had the roti canai telur, here you have the option of ordering it with onions or without. Pardon the gravy on the roti, it was not until she had scooped some on her food till she remembered I had to take a photo of it. =p

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Freshly cooked roti canai telur or roti telur.

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Everyday Uses For Peanut Butter

Note: Use only regular peanut butter.

Pet refusing to swallow pills?
Can’t get your dog or cat to swallow a needed pill? Try this trick: Cover the pill with butter, peanut butter or cream cheese. It will go down fast!

Shave.
Former senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona once shaved with peanut butter while on a camping trip. (For best results, avoid shaving with Extra Crunchy.)

Remove bubblegum from hair.
Rub a dollop of peanut butter into the bubblegum affected area.

Remove airplane glue or cement glue from furniture.
Simply rub the dried glue with peanut butter.

Grease a car or truck axle.
George Washington Carver developed axle grease from peanuts.

Make peanut soup.
Peanut butter is the main ingredient in any recipe for peanut soup.

Trap mice or rats.
Bait a mouse or rat trap with peanut butter. Mice actually prefer peanut butter over cheese.

Laughs
Need a good laugh? Get a generous scoop of peanut butter on your finger and feed it to your dog. The facial expressions they make are hilarious. And the oil is good for their skin and hair.

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Repel ants. Sprinkle Baby Powder in cracks, along a window sill, or under doors where ants enter. Ants will not walk through baby powder.

Help rubber gloves slip on easily. Sprinkle Baby Powder inside the gloves.

Give your dog a dry shampoo. Rub Baby Powder into your dog’s fur, wait a few minutes, then brush out.

Cure a squeaky floor board. Sprinkle Baby Powder into the crevices along the edges.

Hide a stain on a white suit. Rub Baby Powder into the stain.

Clean grease from walls. Sprinkle Baby Powder on a soft cloth and rub the spot until the grease disappears.

Keep shoes and sneakers dry and comfortable. Dust the insides with Baby Powder.

Prevent sticky sheets on a hot, summer night. Sprinkle Baby Powder between the sheets to absorb perspiration.

Give your hair a dry shampoo. Work Baby Powder into your hair, then brush out.

Prevent white shirts from absorbing oil and grime. Lightly sprinkle Baby Powder on the shirt before and after ironing.

Clean sand off wet skin. Sprinkle Baby Powder on skin to remove moisture, and the sand virtually falls off by itself.

Untangle a chain necklace. Dusting the chain with Baby Powder will make it easier to untangle.

Soften rough hands. Apply Baby Powder as you would hand lotion.

Prevent friction burns when shaving your legs with an electric razor. Dust legs lightly with Baby Powder before shaving.

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Every Sunday Morning without fail (unless there is a heavy rain), I will be at Tasik Y for some morning exercises. Yeah I know I need to do this daily but let’s not go over there. Why is this lake called Tasik Y, it’s because it has a Y-shape last time, but due to some land reclamation work, the lake is now a V.

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There used to be an island in the middle of this lake, but the city council in their haste to beautify the lake decided to make a bridge connecting the island and the mainland. And the shack that links the island is in shambles now. I remember many years ago, there were a lot of fishes in this lake mainly, toman, haruan, tilapia, sepat, puyu and others. After the city council pulled out all the lotus plants from the lake, the water got murky and the fish population dwindled.

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Now the lake is filled with apple snails, snails which people bought from shop and couldn’t maintain them, and throwing these into the lake hoping they will thrive. They did thrive, infact the snails population exploded in the lake. If you look closely at the side of the lake, you can see pink sac like thing clinging at the brick walls. Those are apple snails egg sacs, the youngs feed on the rotten plants and roots at the bottom of the lake. The snails are active only at night. I caught one and placed it in my aquarium at home, its now feeding happily on the algae thats stuck to the side glass.

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Enough depressing talk about the lake. Let’s get back to the exercise part. Sunday morning, this is the time when the exercise area is filled with people doing their jogging, brisk walking, J-robics (a form of exercise involving aerobics and cultural dance), older folks doing tai-chi or the fan dance and kids playing some badminton minus the court and netting.

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Batu Pahat High School’s hostel students being ‘forced’ to do the morning exercise by the school’s administration.

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Older folks and the younger generation getting into the hang of things, doing to J-robics. If you do not know the exercise, do as what others do, no one will laugh at you. Everyone is there to exercise not to observe.

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More people grooving with the music and the shouts from the instructors. The J-robics is conducted every Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday. It usually starts from 7:30 am till 8:30 am. What you do after that is your choice, you can walk the pebbles for foot massage, run around with your kids (if you have any), or just chit-chat with friend while you cool down after a well deserved rigorous exercise.

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For those who feel they need to sit down, there are benches around the lake for you to stretch out and relax. This ends the tour of Tasik Y.

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The present name of ‘Batu Pahat’ means ‘chiselled stone’ in Malay. It is derived from the presence of a legendary well, Perigi Batu Pahat, which was believed to be chiselled from the rocky coast in Minyak Beku or Frozen Fuel by the Siamese soldiers in the year 1456 in search of fresh water.

You can see this plaque near the legendary well. It has been endorsed by the Tourism Ministry of Malaysia as a tourist spot. The history of how the town got its name is inscribed in the plaque.

“Located along the shores at Minyak Beku near the mouth of the Batu Pahat River, the well was said to have been dug by fleeing Siamese troops after a failed attack on Malacca during the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah, the third sultan of Malacca who ruled from 1446 to 1459. The Siamese soldiers chiselled a hole in the rock until water flowed. The soldiers, who were being pursued by Malacca forces under Bendahara Tun Perak, fled south and sailed back to Siam (Thailand) via the South China Sea. The district of Batu Pahat takes its name from the incident. Batu Pahat means chiselled stone.”

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The well and its surrounding, the fence is to prevent any untoward incidents from happening like for example, kids and pets from wondering too far the edge of the well.

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The remains of an old fort, presumably from the fleeing Siamese. If only someone would explain the significance of these buildings so that the younger generation would have a better idea of this place. This could be the fort walls or what’s left of it. I am guessing the space in between these walls are for cannons.

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The dilapidated condition of the fort or manor (dunno what this is). There is even an old staircase running at the side of this building.

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A closer look at the building. The walls reminds me of the ones at Malacca, like A’Formosa. It’s been said when the Portuguese occupied Malacca, the stones were dug from Batu Pahat and transported to Malacca for the defence buildings in the city.

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What remains of an old port from bygone eras. It’s now been used by local fisherman to unload their catch of the day or the public to fish during the weekends.

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The beach in Batu Pahat is called Minyak Beku, its not really a nice place for swimming but its heaven for anglers. The close proximity of an old quarry contributes to the boulders you see littering the beach. There used to be a lot crabs, horseshoe crabs and fishes here as compared to now, but due to pollution, it’s now becoming more difficult to catch crabs but fishes are still aplenty here. Picture below shows the disused quarry.

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A baby mudskipper observing the surroundings with curious eyes.

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The recently opened ferry service linking Batu Pahat and the main Sumatran towns. Here we can see the ferry leaving port with a full load of people.

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