Sunday, September 28, 2008

Young Singing Sensation: Charice Pempengco

As i was just channel browsing, and just stumpled up Oprah Winfrey show, and suddenly the song, and the voice caught my attention, and stop at that channel. A young asian lady was singing Whitney Houston's I've Nothing, and she IS as good as Whitney! .... and .. she's only 15 year-old! She is Charice Pempengco.

The world might be talking about Leona Lewis, but here's an Asian version of Leona from Philippine, with a powerful and talented voice! ... just wondering what will Simon Cowell will comment on Charice, since her singing style is in the mould of Leona and Il Divo, powerful vocals! David Foster said "she's a force to be reckon with", and it was David who got Charice onto Oprah's show introducing her as "My newest baby". I guess this is the ultimate compliment you can get from one of the best song writers and most powerful person in the singing show-biz.

Whenever people mention Filipino singers, the names like Jose Mari Chan and Lea Salonga came into mind ... but Charice is a totally different type of singer. While Lea Salonga is known for her sweet voice (as heard in Aladin's songs, and also her We Could Be in Love duet); Charice possess a more powerful vocal, a voice that's beyond her 15 years of age!

She reminds me of Charlotte Church; both got powerful voice, and propelled to stardom at a very young age, but I do hope Charice will be around on the music scene much longer than Charlotte though .. and chunking out great albums for everyone to enjoy!

I'm listening to her rendition of "I've Nothing" on Youtube as i'm writing this, her voice is so mesmerizing, and her ease of singing some of the most difficult powerful high-pitch songs only shows how talented she is!

Among the stars....

Celine Dion's comment and invitation to sing with her:

With David Foster ... Charice's sings My Heart Will Go On ....


I'm definitely buying her album!!! .. just tell me when it's out.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My first Chicken Rice!

My first Chicken Rice!

No, this is not about the first chicken rice that i've eaten, but it's the first chicken-rice that i have cooked.... last Saturday. :D

I saw the recipe of chicken rice in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago, so, thought of been adventurous and try it out myself (since my parents are not around, so, it doesn't matter if i kinda mess up the kitchen .. and of course the chicken .. a little bit ;)

I went to do some ingredients shopping at Tesco in the morning ... 2 chicken tights, 1 chicken carcass (for the chicken-broth to cook the rice), green spring-onions.

Ingredients that i used.
Chicken Tight (to cook steam chicken).
Chicken carcass (to prepare the chicken broth to cook the rice).
Fresh Mushroom (i put some oyster-mushroom to cook the broth, just to get more taste).
Cabbage (I also put in some cabbage to further sweeten the broth).
Green spring onions.
Pandan leaves.

Steps that I took.
Boil the chicken carcass in water for a couple of hours, with 1 or 2 cloves of garlic. Put in some cabbage and later mushroom when it's about ready. Put in some salt, pepper and soya-sauce to taste, and also the pandan-leave to fragrance the rice. Cook the rice with the the chicken broth.

I cook the chicken tight in the chicken-broth as well. Marinate and season with some salt, pepper and soya-sauce. After a couple of minutes, put the chicken-tight in cold-water, and rub some olive-oil to lighten the chicken-skin, and prepare it from drying.

Chicken soup, with cabbage and mushroom.
With the remaining chicken-broth, i used it to cook a soup, with cabbage and mushroom.

For the rice, the chicken-rice taste is there, but, it's too soggy and oily. Might also consider using rice with less-stach (like the Taj-mahal brand)
Definitely much more room for improvement. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pen Mutiara Curry fish head (Penang)

Pictures taken from Pen Mutiara Homepage.

Finally, after months of badminton-deprived, manage to get to the court with the gang.
After a hearty exercising, need to have a hearty meal; so we decided to adjourned for lunch after the game, since all of the gang members got 'visa' approved by their spouses for the day. I'm visa-exempted, hehe ;).

After considering all the places and cuisines around , one of my friend suggested Pen-Mutiara for lunch. My friends said that it used to be a run-down place (if you check out it's website, it started out as a canteen); but when we went there, we were greeted by a 3 stories building! my first thought is .. is this a hotel or a restaurant!?

Anyway, all 4 of us were in awe when we entered the restaurant; we were greeted by a bistro-like environment. There's a dining section, a lounge section, and a live-band stage. There's even an indoor waterfall and fish pond. A very nice surrounding.

Curry fish-head is definitely a must-have; it's very nice, got the sourish taste, and not too spice (it's much less spicier than the Ah-Chu 阿鼠 Curry Fish-head at Bayan baru market). We also order a turmeric chicken, a fried kangkong and fried squid.

Curry Fishhead and
Turmeric chicken

Fried Kang-kong.

Food & beverage: 7/10. (8.5/10 for curry fish-head).
Ambiance: 8/10. (it's good for a malay restaurant).
Price: 7/10 (been reasonable, approx RM20 -RM30 / person).
Service: 6/10
Food presentation: 8/10.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Greatest Show on Earth!

The Greatest show on earth!

The Greatest show on earth begins on 2008-08-08 at 8 o'clock. China promise the world to host the best ever Olympics ever, and delivers to it's promises with a out of this world opening Ceremony!.

The opening ceremony starts within the Bird-nest stadium, with the presentation of China's great inventions to the world, namely gun-powder, paper, painting and the compass.

What amaze me is the Olympic rings, it started as huge lighted circles on the ground. Then it gradually rises

through the air, as it's magical. The Olympics rings just breathtakingly suspensed in the air. Beautiful!

Then the enchanting Scroll of thin film on the ground of the stadium was just pure unbelievable. Throughout the initial part of the opening ceremony, it just showing fanciful pictures in the theme of what’s the presentations staged by thousands and thousands of participants were going on surround it.

No opening ceremony can be without the theme song. Can’t recall the name of the Chinese male singer, but the female singer is none other than Sarah Brightman, ever so beautiful and powerful voice!

The Olympic flame lighting is as specutular as it gets; an former gymnast fly through the sky, and ‘running’ along the wall of the Bird-nest side-roof, and finally lighting the gigantic torch.

It’s the best opening ceremony that I’ve ever seen! It makes me feel proud to be a Chinese, eventhough I might not be in China. But how I wish I’m in the Bird-nest stadium that very moment! I don’t even mind if I got birds dropping on me. ;)

All photos are from Beijing Olympic's webpage at

One World One Dream!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Arrived at Chennai!

Just landed at Chennai (formerly known as Madras), safe and sound. First time in Indian soil.

Did a reading on Chennai in Wikipedia before i came .. and surprisingly, the name, Chennai, was originated from the British, who named it "Chennapatnam ", before been gradually shortened to Chennai. It's former name Madras, was a Portugis name. Surprise, surprise; i have always thought Madras was a British name, and it was renamed to it's traditional Indian name of Chennai.

Upon landed at Chennai international airport, my first experience, which is quite different from the rest of the place i've visited, is the immigration. There's not different lane for local, or foreigners. The only have a different lane for Diplomats/disable/infant traveling parties. The queue at the immigration counters is long, but the clearance was a breeze; no questions asked as to the purpose of the visit.

While waiting one of our colleague, who happened to came from Chennai, to get us a van; we were greeted with the sound of car honking everywhere. I think while standing there for some 15 minutes or so, i have heard more honking than i've in Penang for over a couple of months. Not to mention if to compare to California; it will be a life-time worth of honking. ;)
After awhile on the van, we came to realize that the road user 'communicate' through honking. I figure that .. one honk means "look out .. i'm coming, please try to get out of my way." ... double honking means "get out of my way ... ". multiple/continuous honking means "darn it, this is my road! Get Lost!". It's indeed an experience. :) I have heard that driving in Jakarta, you need to put one palm on the steering wheel, another on the honk; i guess i can witness this first-time in Chennai. :)

Another thing is that, i cannot figure out how the traffic is flowing. At one point i was wondering to myself " is the driver driving in the opposite direction of the traffic?!" .. cos the driver should always be nearer to the central divider of the road .. and ... he's NOT!!. Oh well .. after some distance, i realize some of the Tut-tut car also driving in the opposite direction (or the road is a two way road, without divider)... so .. i guess this is the 'norm'.

At times, i can't wonder how the folks can survive the stress of driving here, not to mention you have to be very alert; they can squeeze between the tightest spot, and zig-zag through the traffic; you can see more overtaking here than in any F1 races. With the way the folks are driving here, i wonder why we are not seeing india producing quality F1 or Indy car drivers; maybe if they put a honk in F1 cars, we can see a different domination in the F1 circuits.

Nevertheless, we manage to reach our hotel after 30 minutes of go-kart-like commute.
The Asiana Hotel is quite nice; at least my first impression, i would give it a thumbs-up.

Here's a picture i took coming out from the arrival hall at the airport:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nice food at Macedoine Dinning (QBM)

After receiving an email about a restaurant at the Penang's Queensbay Mall (QBM), i decided to try it out with a couple of my lunch mates. It's called Macedoine Dinning.

It's located just at the corner by the mall's north entrance (Opposite HSBC), and by the side of TGIF. Since it's just by a corner, it doesn't looks too impressive and have only a couple of tables, but do not let this diminutive appearance deceive you.

The menu is not too overwhelming. For the set meals, there are about 6-8 entrée to choose from. All set meals are served with soup and drink of the day, and are priced either RM13.99 or RM14.99 depending on your entrée.

Starting off with the soup, it's so-so only. I have had much better mushroom soup.

I ordered the Mix Grill (chicken, lamb and a sausage) set lunch. It's a good portion, and what can i say .. it's meat, just what i want it. :) ... although the lamb is a little bit chewy, but the taste is ok, sautéed with plenty of onions.
The Chicken Chop looks more appetizing though, and the food presentation is commendable. Definitely not something you expect from a corner of a mall.

The Fish entree also looks mouth-watering.

The place is filled up by 12:30 noon though.
In term of the taste, i would say it's still behind TGIF and Chili's. But with such a price, i think it's a very reasonable place to dine in; and watch shoppers coming and going.

For a place named after a salad, i can't recall seeing salad on it's menu though. :D

Food & beverage: 7/10.
Ambiance: 3/10. (can't expect much from the corner of a mall entrance).
Price: 7/10 (been reasonable, approx RM15 -RM20 / person).
Service: 5/10 (nothing special).
Food presentation: 8/10 (for a Deli by the corner of a mall entrance).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

American Idol: Andrew Lloyd Webber Nite!!

Andrew Lloyd Webber! My fav composer of all time! ... with songs like Phantom of the Opera, Music of the Night, All i Ask of you, Memory, and the many wonderful songs from Evita ... in my book, Andrew Lloyd Webber certainly deserved the accolade as the best composer! :)

So, it's entertaining to have the American Idol contestants chunking out musical hits, rather than pop, rock.

Syesha Mercado. As the first contestant to sing, i believe she set the stage perfectly for a night of musical songs. With her powerful voice, best suited for such songs! Most animated of the night!

Jason Castro. During the early season, i thought he has a different personality, and good vocal. But now, i think he has kinda fizzle out. His rendition of Memory certainly did no justice to the song, nor to Sarah Brightman or Elaine Paige!

Brooke White. She's way too nervous, until she forgot the lyrics going into just the 2nd or 3rd phrase of the song! The bang has to start all over again. After that .. you can see her trembling and feel very uncomfortable through out the song. Did her best to salvage the situation, i think she did ok on Evita's "You Must Love Me". Beautiful song, beautiful singer as well. A little bit emotional, nearly burst into tears in the end. ;)

David Archuleta. Arguably the most consistent of the bunch! He's just so comfortable and natural in singing any songs! Fantastic vocal, strong & controlled voice. I'm not agreeing with Simon that this is David's weaker performance. Until now, he's still my pick as the eventuate winner! :)

Carly Smithson. I was disappointed when she was advised by Andrew to sing "Jesus Christ Superstar" instead of "All I Ask of You", cos "All I Ask of You" is one of my favourite songs! Nevertheless, she gave a lively performance of the song Superstar. Voted as the bottom 3 a couple of times, this song will keep her in the competition.

David Cook. Marvelous song, marvelous performance! He did splendidly in some of the high notes, control his voice wonderfully. I could be bias here as "Music of the Night" is one of my all time favourite! :D

My take: Jason and Brooke will be the bottom two, although i hope the votes will keep Brooke in for another round, as she's just unfortunately too nervous and emotional tonight. She deserve another chance, while Jason was terrible with Memory. How ironic, "Memory" is the word that might kick these two contestant out.