English: There, here and over there. Basically, in a sense, to mean restless. A collection of thoughts, musings and ramblings...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Food Review: Catch 22

Kota Kinabalu, blessed as a city by the sea, is famous for its seafood and its numerous seafood restaurants. For most choices, seafood means Chinese-style cooking.

Then enters the newest seafood restaurant in town.

Catch22 - once you are hooked, there is no escape.

Unlike most Chinese seafood restaurants in KK, Catch22 credits its special culinary offerings to the influences of the Gulf Coast, Mediterranean and Asia. According to Chef Leo Velazquez, "I grew up along the coastal waters and worked in the food industry in Miami, Brazil, Sri Lanka and West Indies. And that is where my inspiration for this new restaurant comes from. We use only the best fresh fish and seafood such as Tilefish, Salmon Belly, Cod, Cobiaa and North Atlantic Halibut, plus other locally grown produce."

Located on the ground floor of Oceania Hotel in Sadong Jaya, the restaurant is located just a stone's throw away from the newly upgraded boardwalks of Sembulan Riverpark. There's still a lot of construction going on in the surroundings at the moment, but it looks like it is already nearing completion.

Sadong Jaya is normally a very busy place during the working day, but parking space was not a problem by the time I got there for the food review, at around 6pm in the evening. A refreshing ambience of turquoise  white and grey greeted me.

On such a hot day, I ordered the Cuban Orange & Mango Batido (RM10) a slushy mix of orange juice, mango and sweetener milk. One sip, and I was hooked!


We were given a whole variety of appetizers to taste, and boy... taking the pictures made me hungry.

Texas Prawn Cockail (RM18)
Crisp shredded lettuce, poached prawn, Texas cocktail dressing

Yummy start to a meal! Different from most restaurants that uses Thousand Island dressing instead

Polenta Tempura Softshell Crab (RM16)
Soft shell crab with sweet and sour vinaigrette

Crispy, savoury perfection!

Ceasar Salad (RM10)
Romaine lettuce, anchovies, shaved parmesan and garlic croutons

Flavorful and a healthier choice

Salmon Belly (RM16)
Salmon belly, 8 spice glaze & a charred lemon wheel

A little more fatty, as it is the belly. The 8 spice glaze gave the dish a tangy finish

Smoked Fish Dip (RM14)
Smoked fish, mayonaise, garlic confit, herb grilled flat bread & spring onion
* Signature dish!

Definitely something I would order again! The mixture of smoked fish and garlic is pleasant on the palate

Prawn Scampi (RM18)
Sweet prawn, garlic herb butter & grilled flat bread

Another favourite!! Definitely would order again.

Prices are according on the fish of choice, while the style of cooking is named after various places / cities

Fish of the Day - RM23
Prawn - RM25
Sole - RM25
Halibut - RM30
Salmon - RM30
Cod - RM35

New Orleans
Sweet potato mash, sauteed greens & citrus buree blanc

Cheesy polenta with smoked prawn & tomato broth

Pacific Rim
Crispy skin fish with Pak Choy vegetables & drizzled with Sweet & Sour sauce

Walnut crust with mashed potato & hogwash sauce

I love the crispy skin!

Baked fish with lemon risotto

My absolute favourite among all

Sides are also available for order at RM5 each. Pick from your choice of:-
Corn on cob (with chilli butter), garlic butter vege, Gringo rice (yellow rice), Coleslaw (North Carolina style), Corn bread, Hushpuppy (potato ball), Cajun wedges, Mash potato, French fries, Potato salad


No meal is complete without some sweet stuff to top it off!

Vietnamese coffee tart (RM10)
*Signature dish!

If I didn't need to share, I would take the whole tart and take a big bite of that cream covered, syrupy coffee caramel , crispy tart. It was soooo good! 

Mango & Strawberry Mouse (RM10)

Surprising mix of sour and sweetness

Banana Split (RM10)

At times, the simplest desserts are the best and most satisfying

Catch22 is open Mon - Sun: 06:30 - 22:30. Serving more than your typical fish and chips ;-)


Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Malaysia International DJ Championship" is coming to KK!

Say what?! A DJ championship is gonna happen in Sabah in May!

Have you ever visited a club and thought it sucks because of the music selection? Nothing like a great music to get a party started, or a club bumpin'. It sure ain't an easy job, but it's the DJ that really brings life to the party, and people on the dance floor.

"Malaysia International DJ Championship" (MIDJC) 2013, happening from May 3rd to May 10th 2013, is the first DJ competition to be held in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Its main objective is to provide young aspiring DJs a unique opportunity to showcase their abilities and talents in creating world class mixes, to create hype and expose aspiring young DJs among professional DJs and fans of the genre in general.

With over 1,000 music enthusiasts from all over the country expected to attend and/or take part both directly and indirectly, plus hundreds of attendees expected at every DJ events held in Kota Kinabalu alone...MIDJC is considered as the pioneer of a cultural movement.

Scheduled to be a prestigious annual event in Sabah, MIDJC is a deejay competition that awards the grand champion a cash prize of RM5,000 and the title of Malaysia International DJ Champion.

More info at http://tinyurl.com/bw-midjc


You So Funny is back!!

Last Saturday night, I was sitting in the packed Jugs Sports Bar in Sutera Harbour, watching my second stand up comedy show in KK. Before that, I've only been to one show, and that was when I was on a short trip to Melbourne, Australia. Stand up comedy in KK? Unheard of.

Then last year, I got to know of a cool new comedy scene starting up in KK, and I was pretty excited. After that first show.... what can I say, I am hooked on stand up comedy! And what is more awesome is that there's more to come!

In conjunction with APRIL COMEDY BONANZA, BandWidth Magazine is flying the comical KAVIN JAY (host) and the star of the night, PAPI ZAK for the 2nd instalment of You So Funny.

For the uninitiated, You So Funny is an open mic night for amateur stand up comedians to show KK people what they’ve got – winner goes home with a bit of pocket money (RM300)! It’s an open platform for all to showcase their routines to residents of KK and professional stand up comedians, get noticed and hopefully score some future stand up comedy gigs too. Afterall.... we Sabahans are damn funny too bah. And here's our chance to shine!

You So Funny hopes to uncover local stand up comedians and become a catalyst and platform for local comics to exhibit their talents, as well as to create a brand new attraction for visitors to look forward to. Kota Kinabalu will be overrun with comedians, all packed at the same venue – so get ready for an evening of LOLs, LMAOs, ROFLs and OMFGs!

Who knows, we might just uncover some real talent and discover the next big thing. So mark your calendars, and see you there!!

More info: http://tinyurl.com/bw-yousofunny

Meanwhile.... here's 


Food Review: I-Lotus Restaurant, Kepayan Point

I had the pleasure of being invited to try out, with a few other bloggers, the newest Chinese restaurant in town. Just very recently opened in Kepayan Point, a new block of shops along the Penampang bypass, I-Lotus Restaurant made its very first debut in Brunei in 2004.

With nine years track record, the restaurant operates with one mission in mind - to serve quality cuisine to its patrons. In Kota Kinabalu, their Chef and his team is committed to ensure only the freshest live seafood is served, prepared using the finest of ingredients. I-Lotus (Brunei) was featured as one of Asia's finest restaurants in the 2009/2010 edition of the Miele Guide, Asia's first truly independent and authoritative restaurant guide.

I was slightly late when I arrived at the restaurant - the food had arrived, and the bloggers & invited guests were just sitting around and were kind enough to wait for me (oops!) to snap some pictures of the food before we all started digging in. 

My ultimate favourite was the I-Lotus Special Coconut Prawn, a savoury spicy curry with shrimp served in a coconut shell as a bowl, and accompanied by a few cripy cuts of mantau bread bun. The taste of the spices was very pleasing and satisfying, yet not too hot for the tastebuds. I enjoyed it very much, save for the fear that the shrimp on my plate may decide to fly to someone else's plate while I was dissecting it from its shell.

Even today, I'm still thinking about the yummyness of the dish. Mmmm.........

We were also served with the I-Lotus Chili Crab - satisfyingly seasoned, and who doesn't love crab in a shell?? Fingers recommended.... and the use of a gleaming nutcracker tool to smash the difficult parts, and helpfully provided on the side.

The Thai Mango fish is another favourite.... fish is deep fried and covered in helpings of shredded sweet, tangy mango mix.

For the salad, we were served with Papaya Salad, which I first mistook for more mango. It is a savoury, rather than actually sweet, and is crisp and tangy. Topped with succulent prawns and crunchy roasted peanuts, this makes a flavorful and appetizing dish.

For dessert, we were given a plate full of Yam Sago pudding, a sweet finish to a wonderful lunch.

The dishes were mainly priced as follows:-

Small (for 2-4 persons) ranges around RM15 - RM18
Medium (for 5-7 persons) ranges around RM25 - RM30

The location was also not too difficult to find - it is located just at the entrance to Kepayan Point, which is just opposite the road from the block of shops with CKS Millenium. At the moment they also have a banner up, which can easily be seen from the road.

So... have a hankering for Curry Prawn? Details are as follows:-

I-Lotus Seafood Restaurant
Block C, Lot 13, Ground Floor,
Kepayan Point Shoplots,
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Malaysia.
Tel: 088-723115


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Falling victim... no more

I am no stranger to falling victim to a bully. Bullying of a patriarchal nature, or a result of a power gap, i.e. working relations.... they seem awfully like the same thing.

About 2 months ago, I left my last part-time bookkeeping post. It was the last straw that made me really hate accounting work and steer completely off that career path.

I did not enjoy accounting work, but it was still tolerable as a part time work. But my 'boss'... or the person who subcontracted me, was a bully.

For 6 months, I endured his put-downs and utter lack of genuine friendliness or interest you would expect of a good boss. The turnover rate was exceptionally high - many previous employees had left after very short time frames.

He had a very descending tone and behavior when speaking to people working under him, including myself, which made working very unpleasant. It was a good thing I only needed to come in 2 times a week to see what needed to be done. I wanted to leave, but I thought I needed the money, even if it was just a measly RM500, so I just hung on.

And then came that fateful day when he 'wanted to discuss' with me the accounts that I had prepared. A whole year's worth of accounts that I had to pick through and put together within 6 months, like pieces of a puzzle after the previous part-timer simply left without notice or a proper handover. The person whom he described as a 'hopeless case'.

I didn't really see the accounts as the 'final', as I thought he could look through them and point out some mistakes that may have missed my attention, and that I could correct in a very short time.

Instead he zeroed in some minor details, that I explained were due to the formatting set by the software and I could amend them, but he would have none of that.

"What is these nonsense accounts you are giving me?"
"Do you even know what the hell you are doing?"
"What have you been doing for these past few months?"

He glares at me as he shot at me the accusations, his voice getting louder, the hostility in the air getting thicker by the minute. It was as if he was waiting for a response, but an answer would probably be immediately attacked anyway.

And I did not come all this way, every week for the past 6 months, sacrificing time and effort for little money, to be intimidated by this horrible person.

Feeling very tense, I shot back at him, "Excuse me, but do you mind not shouting at me? Preparing those accounts, those figures, are what I've done for the past few months"

Apparently an employee that answers back in such a way is perceived to be 'questioning his authority'. He bangs his fist on the table and shouts "but this is nonsense!!!"

For months I have let this person behave condescendingly to me. I have talked to him as nicely as I could, in spite of his bullying attitude. Unable to take it anymore, I told him forcefully that I quit, and stormed out of the office shouting "Keep your money!!"

I drove off so fast, emotionally charged, as if going faster would leave the bad aura and terrible memory behind. In the end I cried, as I drove around in circles for a while before I made my way home. 

It was the most terrible experience I've ever had in a long time. I never thought I would ever had to resort to shouting "I quit!" but it was necessary.

While he pays me money to do a job, it does not mean I am beneath him. Why does he think he, or any employer or person for that matter, has the right to degrade another person? He could have chosen to talk nicely and reasonably, but he chose the 'I am the boss, and you are an idiot' stand.

And this is a scenario that I am sure happens very often.... especially in working conditions with a lot of power imbalance.


Paradox of Patriarchy

Being one of the trainers for a special Training of Trainers for Men as a Partner in Stopping Violence Against Women (VAW), I was given this particular topic to work on. The topic came with some slides that were already prepared by a women's rights NGO in KL, so I just had to amend and add whatever I thought was necessary.

Later after my workshop session, I told a colleague that I identified basically with every single slide on my presentation. I could relate everything on it with experience in my personal life... just that I did not, thankfully, translate that personally when I was giving my 2 cents on the topic.

And so, I'm giving it now.

Patriarchy stems from the mindset we were brought up with from the day we were born - the way we were hardwired to think that "Boys Don't Cry" and "Only Girls Wear Pink". Society dictated that 'real men' are the leaders, the breadwinners, the rational-thinkers, the strong, and the protectors.... while women are the followers, the homemakers, the emotional, the weak, and the ones that needed to be protected. 

Just listen to a conversation among girls, esp those that are still young, and you'll find that this stereotype still rings true. Girls want to be rescued by Prince Charming - have everything taken care of moneywise, and be protected (a replacement father?), while boys want girls who can mother them by cooking, cleaning up after them, nurturing them and taking care of their 'needs'.

These are the 'gender boxes' - the expectations given by society on how we should be have. When we don't pigeonhole ourselves into those very narrow definitions, it upsets the whole system. When women become more than the definition of what a 'real woman' should be, they are impeding into the territory of men. They threaten the masculinity of men, who were born into the world believing that they are a level higher than women, and therefore are entitled to 'special privileges'. Because they were born a man.

No doubt that some people really buy into this perception, and benefit from it. Some women actually love it, because then it means that they don't have to work so hard - they are excused from being reliant on men (I'm stopping short at the word 'gold-digger' here), needy and whiny. These are benefits for the women, but the men benefit most of all as they have women at their feet, ever ready for their beck and call. Men are the winners. Or so we thought (thus the 'paradox' in the title)

What special privileges? Let me give a few examples...
- A man can just concentrate on his work and career without needing to worry about the care of his children, and that is acceptable
- A man is less likely to be sexually harassed when walking through a quiet dark alley at night
- His state of affairs at home will not be a hotly debated topic or a deciding factor if he decides to run for political office
- He would not be labeled 'bossy' or 'bitchy' for being assertive and aggressive. He would be labeled a 'strong leader'
- He can marry well into his 40s and that wouldn't be a big deal. He could go off with a woman 20 years younger and people might make jokes about it, but it's 'common'.
- Weight is not a big issue, he can still be a bit heavy and not be the sales target for slimming products that imply that no one wants him because he's fat.
- Religious leaders are made up of men.
- men do not get pregnant or expected to sacrifice their career for the family's sake, thus he is more likely to be accepted for a job.

and so on and so on....

I remember I used to be so angry at Ashley's father (I still am, sort of) at the way he behaved - as if he was the the king, simply because he was a man. And that he felt entitled to treat me badly, as if I was his property, on those same grounds.

I have written a few times about my experience, but never in the context of understanding the aggressor. But after what I've learnt in the past few weeks, I felt like I've found the last piece of the puzzle in coming to understand. It's no longer just about 'who', 'what', 'where' and 'how' anymore, but also the essential question of 'why'.

We met when we were still college students fresh out of high school. He was a year older, and both of us were pursuing pre-university courses. I was skinny, somewhat timid and was just finding my feet and building confidence in what I assumed to be 'the big world'. We dated, I fell pregnant year later.

As a result of the shock of being pregnant, I retreated back from the world into my shell, putting an invisible wall all around me, shielding myself from other people and their judgements. Except for him. At that time, I WAS that gender-stereotypical girl who saw men as protectors and providers.

And he, of course, loved my dependency on him. He came from a family where the father was the one that made the rules (because he brought in the money), and the rest just followed. So naturally, he learnt the patriarchal nature from the best - his own father.

He didn't understand that my personality then was very much affected by my circumstances. It wasn't because I don't have friends, it was because I rejected them. I was quiet, I took many solitary walks and meals, because my head was totally messed up. I was even contemplating suicide on so many occasions, but I myself didn't realise it until much much later. I withdrew from the world, with my only hope being that I would ace my exams and not be a complete failure. I was so far away from home, where I felt safe.

After having sorted out many things after the birth of Ashley, I came back to uni with a renewed sense of purpose. As a mother, it was really difficult to leave a 4-month old baby, knowing all the times you would not be able to see her grow up, missing all the essential moments. People might say I was a bad mother, but I wanted to make something out of myself. I kept getting good grades, while he failed miserably. At first he said he didn't mind, but as time passed, I could feel his resentment at my success.

We were both uni students, but because I was the woman I had to follow the norms. I had to do the cleaning, the washing, the cooking; basically all the household chores, because 'that's the job of a wife'. His resentment of me presented itself in many different forms - he would nit-pick about everything I did, and made my life miserable when or if I dared to answer back. I spent many nights crying after he pushed me off the bed, or held me down on a choke-hold, or taking me by the collar of my shirt and shaking me hard. My time was spent making him 'happy', by letting him believe that he was calling all the shots. I always had the thought in my head that I was going to die young - if not by an accident with a car he was driving, it could be from inhaling second-hand smoke or from his uncontrollable temper.

I couldn't spend time with friends. I couldn't be friendly with anyone from the opposite gender without him becoming irrationally jealous. It took me only 10 minutes to be out of the house before he called me on the phone many times, giving reasons that I should be thankful that someone like him loves me very much.

Thinking back, I remember one incident where we bumped into a schoolmate of his, and his response to which I took as him being embarrassed of me, that I am Muslim. At that time I was a trainee for Ernst and Young, one of the big 4 accounting firms. Looking back, he probably wasn't embarrassed of me, but of himself. Not much later, he made up a story with some people he met that I was just some girl who was doing a secretarial course back in KK and was just visiting him. Gender stereotyping, much?

His whole behavior - the need to control, the need to put me down, is all due to the patriarchal belief that he grew up with. With me, he felt emasculated, less of a 'real man'. He felt pressured that he couldn't be that man, that he was an utter failure, and that thought really killed him. But he couldn't let anyone know that. So instead, all those pressures and emotional strained were bottled up and unleashed as violence to maintain the status quo.

Certain memories of those years do not always come back to me so easily. Sometimes I remember it as if it was just yesterday, but most of the time the memories seem to be clouded, or buried deep inside a pile of other stuff. Maybe I just don't want to remember, a mental block placed on those memories. My mother is way more upset about it - the memories of me with black and blue marks over my arms, or of pregnant me being locked out of her own room in the middle of the night. I just remember that there was a period of my life when I couldn't come home and feel safe anymore.

So what / where is the paradox of patriarchy in this story, you might ask?

He thought that being a man, that everyone (the perceived 2nd class citizens such as women and children) would bow to him, and accept that he is the leader and decision-maker, just because. He spent all his time feeling a great deal of self-importance, and demanded to be respected as a husband and father.

He got none.

Because he never bothered to put in any effort to build any real relationship with his daughter, and I, of course, was alienated due to his past conduct towards me. Ashley will never know, or every care to know about him, and it was all his own fault. He may have thought he was a sure winner as a man in a patriarchal world, but the fact is, he's the loser in this story.

This story, and the story at the beginning about workplace bullying is sort of different, but yet it's the same. It's about imbalance of power, victimization based on status, about the need to be in control and shout "I'm the boss!" loudly, and expect everyone else to fall in line.

But who wins? Who is the real boss?

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