Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lantern Festival Potluck Picnic @ Al-Barsha Park, Dubai

last weekend I joined a huge festive bunch of chinese malaysian in dubai at al-barsha park for their annual potluck picnic in conjuction with the ‘lantern festival’ or ‘mid-autumn festival’. the weather was perfect, yummy spread on the picnic table, there was full moon in the sky that night, mooncakes were passed around and kids excited holding their lit-up lanterns. truly a meriah mid-autumn festival’.

it’s known in malaysia as ‘mid-autumn festival’, but it’s also called ‘mooncake festival’, and sometimes it’s just referred to as the ‘chinese lantern festival’. what I know is – mooncake and lanterns are involved!

thanks szue fei as main hostess for organizing such a fun event – it’s not often I get to mingle with the awesome malaysian chinese community in dubai!



from left : fauziah, her hubby fairoz, herbert, me & ms hostess szue fei (old friends, new friends – yang penting kita malaysian!)



my boys at the entrance


the lantern festival potluck picnic was held at al-barsha park, which is a smaller park compared to

however, there was no entrance fee! (we need to pay like 5dhs to enter some parks). it has got a really nice walkway to jog with the word START at the beginning, as well as a nice sandy spot of playground and the kids totally loved it!


the crowd : really the turnout was bigger. some were already making home on the picnic mats, while the kiddos are sweating it out at the playground which was right next to this picnic spot so it’s easy for parents to keep an eye. (picture from szue fei’s facebook)


food glorious food. I brought my popiah daging. simple je hihi. fauziah brought 4-5 boxes of pizza and I tapau like a lot at the end of the day. save on dinner! haha thanks dear…(picture from szue fei’s facebook)


night comes with the full moon, and the lanterns were lit-up and hung. so pretty. the kids were crowding the aunties with the lanterns! (picture from szue fei’s facebook)



fauziah, szue fei & me (that’s the sandy playground where the kids play like crazee while the moms and dads eat and chat)


masyarakat majmuk malaysia di dubai! from left : bro segar, herbert, fairoz, ooi (who came straight from work – so semangat!) and my mr. khairul


everybody to the playground for group-photo! happy mid-autumn festival! ok I was somewhere in the middle at the back (spot pink tudung!) with the teens because I was THAT short. haha. it was really cute seeing the kids holding their lanterns. (picture from szue fei’s facebook)


glad to be part of the festivity! thanks szue fei and gang for including us in your merriment. can’t believe you’re leaving for melbourne. good luck, have fun and please keep in touch ya!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Biker Dads Meet Over Tempe & Sambal Petai

banker, lawyer, and professionals by day - biker dudes by night (sometimes early morning too on weekends! haha) what I like about their passion is that it’s not only just bike-talk and its parts, but the camaraderie and brotherhood that comes with it when they ride together side by side on the open road.

to me they’re just a couple of hardworking dads finding great escapes, speeding on metal horses with the wind in their face!


from left : helmey, abg ezam, manx, syamsulfaiz and my mr khairul


it’s time to have a meeting again for these biker dads, and this round they had it in abu dhabi, hosted by manx and wife zira. we started with an absolutely delicious dinner of lauk kampunggulai ikan, sambal udang ngan petai, daging masak halia and one rare dish in the arab emirates – sayur kacang, sohun dgn tempe!

even writing about it now made me drool!

(they had one meeting in our place last few months. read about it here.)






* * *


dah kenyang, tummy all filled – let’s get serious – meeting time!




* * *


thanks to the lovely couple manx & zira for welcoming us to their new nest, and the yummy food too! and we even got some tempe to take home! thanks!

(bila la aku nak masak tempe ni..)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why I Love Travelling with Abah

this post is a tribute to the best traveller I’ve ever known, my abah Haji Sharifuddin, in conjunction with his 65th birthday on 20th september 2012. europe, middle east, down under and the neighbouring asian cities – he has travelled far, travelled wide.

selamat panjang umur, abah! may Allah shower you with wealth in health and happiness; blessing in this world and the hereafter. amin. happy 65th!


my abah, on the streets of vietnam. taken from my sister’s tumblr : favorite waffle


why I love to travel with abah :

  1. abah prepares a whole itinerary for that particular vacation. from the flight, hotel, the places to visit and prayer times while in that country – hour to hour, day to day – he’s got it all planned and written down. we’re just happy to get on board and follow along!
  2. he googled everything before we even start packing! which malls to go, which hotel has halal breakfast buffet, best tourist attraction, which tram to take, or how much to pay for entrance ticket.
  3. abah is extremely particular about TIME, especially for flights. he dedicated a lot of hours ahead of boarding time so that all of us would be completely ready.
  4. abah reads a lot about the places we’re visiting, so he would share with us what he knows as we go along. a walking travel channel, if you will.
  5. though he must have his fix of rice and lauk-pauk kampung, he doesn’t mind munching mcdonalds at least once anywhere we go. it’s like a must for us girls and abah! thanks abah for going with OUR flow!
  6. when we were younger, of course abah pays for everything! weeee! but now some of us are already married, have kids and earning our own money……..abah STILL pays for most things! hihi. thanks for that, abah! we’re forever your little girls ok!

I thank Allah for continuing to bless abah with the strength and good health to go on travelling and enjoying the sights of the world, as well as the means to take his whole family to enjoy the experience with him in a foreign country. just take it easy, abah. enjoy in your own pace and soak it all in!

me and the girls are very grateful to have all this opportunity to travel with you, abah. you’re our favorite travel agent, and the best tour guide ever!


this is the latest picture of my abah and umi, taken on 16th september when my sister syimot took them out for a birthday dinner. alhamdulillah abah nampak sihat dan ceria at 65 with 5 daughters and 9 grandkids!


(so where are we going to, next? *wink wink* I hope the next big family vacation is to bring everyone to dubai next year – after my youngest sister’s wedding! *excited!*)


* * *



for abah’s birthday last year, my boys sang this fantastic version of ‘birthday song’ with such enthusiasm and excitement – because after they finished singing, they get to eat this one single carrot cupcake that I put right in front of them! haha.

however, this year – there was no cupcake. so no singing! huh! poor anong (abang long) had to do the dedication all by himself while the other younger brothers were completely oblivious!

watch, and I hope it sends you a smile! this is for the birthday boy, my abah!

Monday, September 17, 2012

29 Februari : My Fav Malaysian Movie of All Time

I LOVE this movie! ‘29 februari’ takes you on a journey – not just in the hero’s romantic quest to find his soulmate, but throughout malaysia’s trials and tribulations. from being occupied by the japanese and brits to merdeka up to the moment our national car was born, until the present 2012.

you will cry and cheer as you watch the proclamation of MERDEKA in the huge cinema screen, (in full color!) and you will gasp in excitement as you see a young tun mahathir with sideburns shaking hands with our hero budi. all in ‘29 februari’ – malaysia’s first 3D movie.



I managed to watch KRU’s ‘29 Februari’ at the cinema, on opening day, just few days before flying back to dubai. excited because ever since my youngest sis showed me the trailer few months back, I was hoping that I would be in malaysia when it’s shown in cinema.

I did watch it, and it has since become, one of the best malaysian movies I’ve seen in years.

the actors, the storyline, the script, the songs – almost comparatively flawless when you think of the standard of the movies in malaysia which seemed to rely on the same money-making faces, boring cliché script and unoriginal storyline. ‘29 Februari’ defies the convention, and presents to us one of the most engaging stories ever.

aku suka sangat-sangat movie ni!


* * *


my cinematic experience watching 29 februari

I saw the movie ‘29 Februari’ on the first day it premiered on malaysian cinema, but have been putting off writing the review because my youngest sister (who is a big supporter of malay movies) haven’t seen it yet.

(terima kasih tolong babysit khaleef, kahfi & kazim!)

oh well. I’ve waited long enough – unfortunately she didn’t have the time to watch the movie what with all the wedding prep she’s going thru, and work, so I wanna write this down before I forget the wonderful feeling this movie has left me with!



RM28 for 2 – still cheaper than ONE 3D cinema ticket in dubai!


just us!


maybe it was the first day. or that we were watching it at a new shopping mall (paradigm mall, kelana jaya). and we’re watching the 3D version – but we were completely alone in the cinema hall! throughout the movie. seriously! so terus berangan yang mr. khairul booked the whole cinema hall just for me haha.

nasib baik dah kawen, kalo tak ini bole membawa kepada khalwat ni!

when we walked inside, it was still too early to tell whether they’d be only 5 or 10 viewers. maybe we were first. bila movie dah start, takde orang lagi. ntah-ntah lambat. takpe. and then in the middle of the movie, mr. khairul looked around and confirmed it – we WERE indeed alone in the cinema hall!

lepas tu terus gelak kuat-kuat, kunyah popcorn sesuka hati, baring-baring sambil letak kaki kat seat sebelah. hoho.


* * *



you guys know the storyline?

it’s what I call benjamin button meets forest gump. the plot has no similarities to either movie but it’s associated with those two because it deals with aging weirdly (benjamin button aged backwards, budi in ‘29 februari’ aged only once in 4 years), and it has original clips from actual historical events and they CGI-ed the characters into the original clips (like forest gump meeting john lennon and such, in ‘29 februari’, budi shook hands with tun mahathir in the 70-s).

nways, plot :

budi was born on a leap year, and for some reason, he ages only once in 4 years – making him much younger than everyone else his age. he was raised in an orphanage after his parents died during the japanese occupation. his bestfriend was this blind dude named razak. he met a chinese girl lily, and they fell in love despite the obvious race and religious differences. father opposed, lily ran away – and budi spent his whole life looking for his true love, and in that journey he went through several decades – and never seemed to age.

(ini rumusan aku tau, tak cedok dari mana-mana website!)



character in 29 februari

  1. remy ishak is budi. owh, to me he’s truly the current ‘lelaki melayu terakhir’ competing only against aaron aziz. he’s tall, dark and maybe not gorgeous-handsome, but kacak-manis-lelaki-melayu. haha. walaupun kadang-kadang ade close-up yang buat aku rasa “eh takde le hensem sgt remy ishak ni,” but there lies his attraction – he’s believable. tak payah handsome melampau macam johnny depp. penonton lelaki pun senang nak suka sebab remy ishak ni bukan saje ladies-man, tapi man’s man! make sense tak?
  2. he was just fantastic in his role as budi. budi was laidback and playful, passionate and in love. and remy ishak potrays that wonderfully that we believe his feelings, adventures and challenges. he delivers his line effortlessly – selamba. I like the way he acts, and I am looking forward to more movie performances from this talented actor.
  3. jojo goh as lily is demure, feminine and oh so sweet, you can’t help but just fall in love with her too. I’ve never heard of her, so I commended her acting which is also believable as the chinese girl who defied her father and falls for a malay guy. no doubt she has a chinese accent when she speaks, but that adds to the authenticity of the storyline.
  4. I like the remy-jojo combo, and  the chemistry between the two actors is also a winning recipe for the success of ‘29 februari’.
  5. izzue islam as razak surprises me. I don’t know this actor, but he amazes me with his talent. he’s a natural. the way he says his lines. the way he plays a blind man. he’s alright.
  6. the whole line-up of supporting actors also deliver great performances – lily’s dad, the indian lawyer, the warden of the orphanage, the kids and especially budi’s dad – all gave their best eventhough they appear for a short while. I like movies that don’t sideline the supporting actors no matter how small.


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remy ishak can sing? yes, he sang one of the main songs in the movie soundtrack ‘kelip-kelip’ (fireflies) and he did it wonderfully. he has a deep manly voice that is just soothing to hear. the song ‘kelip-kelip’ is SO norman-yusry-edry that you can almost hear THEM singing the song.

it’s a sweet song with meaningful lyrics – I can see it winning a couple of malaysian music awards…



I absolutely LOVE the movie soundtrack. since the storyline started during the british and japanese occupation – the songs featured are taken from around that era too. I can recognize a few catchy classic tunes of the 40’s and 50’s including the one below by zaharah agus, ‘kalau mau kenal’ – I LOVE this song and it was so appropriate for that period of time in that scene!




* * *





(semua aku nak komen kan haha)

edry as the director should be most applauded for his exceptional work on ‘29 februari’. I’ve seen ‘merong mahawangsa’ (also produced by KRU) and though it’s a big production, big story with awesome cinematography and costume, the flow of the storyline became draggy and soon boring.

but ‘29 februari’ is a breath of fresh air. the camera work is beautiful – you can see it from the angles and corners of the shots. the setting is gorgeous – where on earth did they find the beautiful malay kampung house to be the orphanage? and the kelip-kelip scene? lawa!

the script is never boring and is always necessary – takde babak minum air fresh orange hihi.



* * *


here’s the trailer of the movie if you haven’t seen it yet. aren’t you a little bit curious?



at the time of writing, ‘29 Februari’ is still playing in local cinemas nationwide. it is indeed one magical movie, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out on something wonderful, made by fellow malaysians. KRU is certainly in a league of their own!

*the stills from the movie ‘29 februari’ in this blog is taken from its facebook page. thank you! also, my favorite malaysian movies of all time are aziz m. osman’s ‘xx-ray’ and ‘puteri impian’, erma fatima’s ‘femina’ and ‘jimi asmara’, shuhaimi baba’s ‘layar lara’ and afdlin shauki’s ‘baik punya cilok’ and ‘cuci’. and now ‘29 februari’ too!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

My Nephew in TheStar Performing Action Song for Raya

my adorable nephew haqeem syahid is in an award-winning singing team in his school. it’s not just singing, it’s also a lot of movement, showing your emotion and expressing yourself through music. that’s why it’s called ‘action song’. it’s more theatrical and that’s why I LOVE it!

sigh. second child has always shown glimmer and glamour on stage…I was there once!

anyways, he was in the papers few days back -



my nephew haqeem is in the far left, in front datuk seri dr zambry


haqeem and his teammates from SK seri ampang performed their exuberant ‘action song’ during a hari raya celebration in my hometown ipoh, for groups of orphans of ‘akademi ikatan muslimin and maahad tahfiz’ and pakcik makcik from the old folks home of ‘rumah seri kenangan indah’.

their audience also include perak mentri besar datuk seri dr zambry abdul kadir and wife.

for full story at thestar online, click here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cheese-Crazy @ The Cheesecake Factory, Dubai Mall

‘the cheesecake factory’ is open in dubai! imagine all the cheesecake flavors you can ever hope to eat in a place called ‘the cheesecake factory’. it gives me goosebumps!'

I know the cheesecake factory from my favorite sitcom ‘the big bang theory’. the characters leonard, sheldon, raj and howard like to hang out there, and their gorgeous neighbour penny works there. it often comes up during the show, and I was more and more intrigued knowing that it’s a real-life popular makan place in the states.

my attachment to it is just like when I was so excited going to ‘central perk’ in mirdiff mall (now closed) from another one of my favorite sitcoms – f.r.i.e.n.d.s!


…and knowing that it just opened in dubai last august made me SO wanna go. it’s their FIRST ever branch outside of the united states, so everyone is pretty excited about it.

the cheesecake factory at dubai mall is right opposite the dubai aquarium. it’s so huge that it has 2 entrances in fact. you can enter through the one opposite the dubai aquarium, or you can enter through the entrance at the gold souk.

if you wanna go straight to the cheesecake factory, park your car at ‘dubai aquarium’. bam! you’re there.

I found out about its opening while I was still holidaying in malaysia, and I read that it took almost 3 hours to get a seat at the cheesecake factory when it first opened. I told mr. khairul that if the line gets too outrageous then we try another day. or another month when the craze has died down a bit.

* * *

when we arrived, we went through the gold souk entrance, and there was just another person there at the counter. it took less then a minute for us to leave our names, and we’re given a beeper. a BEEPER? now this is new.

beeps when our seat is ready!

what’s the beeper for?

we were told to wait 1hr n 15mins or so for them to beep us when our seat is ready. so we did have to wait (walaupun tak la sampai 3 hours!) but we can walk around first, because we’ve got the beeper. true enough, after one hour, the beeper goes off and we got our seats!

when the beeper sounded, I must admit it was exciting! haha. there was even flickering red lights going around it that makes it more alarming – come now! your seat is ready! woohoo!

* * *

what to eat what to eat?

menu dia mcm buku novela yg amik masa dalam setengah jam nak habis. so many to read and decide on. you think that it’s a ‘CHEESECAKE factory’ so it’s bakery or a café, right? nope. appetizers, pasta, pizza, mexican, sandwiches, burgers, steaks and seafood – you name it, they got it! (they don’t have nasi lemak or laksam la, but you know what I mean) and I haven’t gone through the dessert section yet!

it’s a bit (a lot actually) on the pricey side, and I don’t think I would come again real soon – probably wait until we come to a special date like birthdays or anniversary!

the cheesecake factory have got kids’ menu – but this menu has the most expensive kids’ meal I’ve ever seen in a kids’ menu. shouldn’t it be cheaper since it’s got less portion made for kids? khaleef was pestering for us to get the mac and cheese, so we got him that. but we’re not happy about it! haha.

tried 'chicken madeira', a long-time favorites at the cheesecake factory. I read somewhere that even the ruler of dubai, sheikh mohammed rashid al-maktoum has tried it, and loved it too. there are SO many delicious dishes to choose that we decided these two reasons are enough for us to stop deciding and just pick this.

this is ‘chicken madeira’. it’s exactly what was described in the menu. the chicken was tender and juicy. the melted cheese that envelopes it goes very well and would satisfy any cheezy savoury-dish fans. I love the mushroom, and I love the crunchy fresh asparagus.

the mash potato is just so creamy, and call me uncultured but I just don’t like potato skin in my mash potato. I know it seemed that a lot of fine dining or semi fine dining places do mash potato like this – but I’m just not a fan.

ok, it’s called ‘chicken madeira’ because of the madeira sauce – which that black sauce all over the dish. I loved it, and it goes well with the rest of the dish with its salty-sweet taste. originally madeira sauce includes wine or something - but since it's a halal dish, they substituted wine with apple cider. however, mr. khairul went too far as to say it tasted like our kicap manis cap kipas udang je! haha. put a fancy name to it and voila! it becomes ‘madeira sauce’.

bleh! i honestly love this dish!

the portion for chicken madeira is huge! in fact I read somewhere that MOST of the portions are huge, so you might wanna get one main dish and one entrée and share. or go there really, really hungry. because remember – after that huge meal, you’ve got a cheesecake to eat!

got one appetizer because I just wanna try the one at the cheesecake factory, since I like the one at chillis. tex mex eggrolls - yum!

* * *

this adorable waiter offered to grate A LOT of cheese into khaleef's bowl of mac & cheese

lemme talk about the service at the cheesecake factory.

ok, from the get-go, the service was top-notch. since this is their first branch outside of the states, I think it’s only right that they bring their A-game. the waiting staff was warm and friendly despite the obvious hustle and bustle.

our waiter for the day (we didn’t get his name, which is his fault haha – I thought it’s so american to say things like, “hey I’m ___ and I’ll be your waiter for today,”) but in his defence, he’s middle eastern. and he’s so cute. hihi. when I asked him about the popular ‘chicken madeira’, he was like,
“oh yeah, you’re going to like--- no, not like – you are going to LOVE it.” cute!

* * *

ok, not much to be said about the decor. didn't like it. have to admit, I was hoping for a more hip and youthful, but still classy décor. bright, and more lepak. but this is too trump-tower meets vegas meets king midas. I dislike the orange lighting too.

and then I thought, it’s because they’ve opened a branch in a mid-east country. when I googled – nope. this is what the cheesecake factory looks like on the inside.
again – did not like it!

on a positive note, I like the booth seat that we got – it’s so great for us having 3 boisterous boys because it’s so comfy and cozy for them to sit on the inside part of the booth seat and do whatever they want, while we sat and block their way out. nice.

* * *

and now we’ve come to the STAR of the show – the CHEESECAKES!!!

I was like, hypnotized as I read the menu. line upon lines of tantalizing description of each cheesecake – I can’t even begin to choose! i actually enjoyed reading each and evry description of the cheesecakes over and over again.

our 'ultimate red velvet cake cheesecake' and 'craig's crazy carrotcake cheesecake'!

after much deliberation, and absolutely NO consultation with mr. khairul – haha. I settled on 'ultimate red velvet cake cheesecake' and 'craig's crazy carrotcake cheesecake'. each plate is served with a dash of whipped cream, which I didn’t eat. coz I don’t like whipped cream. I think they taste like, air.
so, I don’t wanna be too crazy and choose a hershey cheesecake or an pineapple upside down cheesecake or anything. just plain and straightforward for our first time at the cheesecake factory. something with red velvet or carrot cake.

 this cake is called 'craig's crazy carrot cake cheesecake' - carrot cake n cheesecake swirled together topped with cream cheese icing and almond. heavenly! but I have to confess I’ve had an equally delicious carrot cake elsewhere, so though this is a really good one, but not SO good that I cannot find anywhere else.

and who’s craig anyway?

this is the 'ultimate red velvet cake cheesecake' - it has red velvet, layers of cheesecake, a huge BLOB of cream cheese on top, and shards of grated white chocolate on the side! alhamdulillah able to taste such heaven on earth!

the red velvet cake is so moist and filling all by itself! the cheesecake part of it is so creamy, but too cheezy for mr. khairul. my boys and I are cheese-freaks, so we loved it!

one of my problems with other red velvet cakes out there is that they DON’T HAVE ENOUGH cream cheese! however, at the cheesecake factory, they don’t call this cake ‘ULTIMATE’ for nothing – the cream cheese was divine, and they’re not stingy about it! a huge layer of cream cheese that rendered me speechless on my first bite.

it’s definitely a LEGENDARY cake – upon which all red velvet cake cheesecake would be measured!

which cheesecake should I try next? (image from google)

I’ll leave you fine people with one single tip – when you go, try to get the dessert FIRST. haha. the huge portion of the main course might leave your tummy no space to appreciate the grandeur of its celebrated cheesecakes. just my thought.

in fact, when I go next, I’ll just scrape the main course altogether – and JUST get a cheesecake. or two. ok, four.

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