Getting young, quietly

O hisashi buri dana! It has been a while…

My sisters are finally together again this weekend to celebrate my birthday.  Since young, we have always spent all our birthdays together.  It starts with a cake cutting and photo session at home, and ends with us having thoroughly stuffed our faces with a 10-course meal at a Chinese restaurant. No presents were exchanged, but there were plenty of laughter with friends and family.

Well, my birthday isn’t officially until a few days later. But we all work.  So the weekend will have to do.

Cheh tp-ed Malaysian food from Chinatown (conveniently located near her work place). It was an ordeal just having the four of us decide what we want. If it was not too soupy, it was something that WE can make ourselves, or something we JUST ate. An hour later of back and forth banter, we finally decided on spicy fried vermicelli and flat noodles, beef rendang and flat noodles in seafood sauce.

Friday night and we still managed to leave work late. Overworked and under-appreciated –  I’m sure there are many out there who are in my shoes too. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for a job. Not the abuse, though. They call it unpaid overtime, I just call it child labor.

When hubs and I finally reached home a little before 8 pm, my younger sister greeted us at the door with Jessie. Jessie had eeyore in her mouth. My sister had an apple in hers. “Quick go shower!” she orders, “I’m starving!!”

There’s a Malay saying, “Mandi kerbau.” It literally means to bathe like a water buffalo – quick and without much ado. That’s my style.  It’s the pooping that takes a while.

Like rabid and ravenous dogs, we attacked our food.  Everything tasted extra scrumptious, or was it because we were starving marvins? Hubs put on “Land of the Lost” to watch, starring Will Ferrell. At first we protested, but after giggling along the first few minutes, we let the man have his remote. Eating while watching TV is just heaven. While eating, I bit into a pickled jalapeño, which is supposed to enhance the taste of the noodles. This one, however, was extra spicy – the kind that CAN cost explosive diarrheas kind of spicy.  I warned my sisters about it, since hubs doesn’t really like mixing chilli with his food – wimp! I had a stomachache after that. Cheh thought that it was all made up. She piled on the green chillies. And just like that, she too got a taste of that little habanero.  Then my younger sister too didn’t believe me AND my elder sister. She too took the chilli and she too felt the burn. Once bitten, thrice shy.

It was all good, until we all had a sore throat, and not to mention a stomachache after that – from the chilli and from Will Ferrell being sucked dry by a pre-historic mosquito while trying to play a banjo.

Tomorrow we’re heading to Mitsuwa in Edgewater for the Tuna cutting show.  Fun!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I woke up bright and early – but not as early as hubs, who spent the night into the wee hours of the morning playing xbox and then walked Jessie. Went downstairs in time to prep her breakfast and waited another 3 more hours for my sisters to wake up to head to the tuna show in Edgewater. The plan was to leave the house at 10, get there around 10:30 before the show at 11.

The princesses didn’t pull themselves out of bed until 9:30. In fact, my younger sister wanted me to wake her up 15 minutes before we were supposed to leave. We left the house at 10:20.  Reached Mitsuwa a little before 11. By the time we found parking, and got in the store it was 11 and there was a HUGE crowd gathered in the middle of the store.  Everyone was taller than us, naturally.  It was impossible to get a good view, much less good photo op.

First glimpse of the Bluefin Tuna

First glimpse of the Bluefin Tuna

I was about to scale hubs, as he backed away from me, when my younger sister called us to let us know that she found a sweeter spot – with the view of the decapitated 500 lbs bluefin tuna. With the head intact, the fish was about 700 lbs.

Frontal view

Frontal and better view of the fish

Seeing this “water buffalo” up close was astounding and breathtaking.  Here is a 15-year-old Northern bluefin tuna or giant bluefin tuna, from Spain, which made its way all the way to America, into a Japanese store. This tuna, when caught, was immediately drained off all its blood through its fin.  The host/mc/guide, who is also a fisherman, told us and demonstrated how aerodynamic the fish’s fin is – how its body has a little pocket to “tuck” the fin back into place to decrease the amount of drag in the water, which in turn allows for maximum velocity. Their streamlined body reduces resistance thus allowing them to conserve energy for transmigration in the Atlantic Ocean. Retractable fins also allow a freer flow of water when navigational changes do not require their use.

This fish, of superb sashimi grade quality, was meant for the finer establishments in New York City like Nobu, but Mitsuwa managed to wrangle a few in for their once a year show.  The bluefin tunas are prized for their high fat content, which makes the meat melt in your mouth. Best of all, this isn’t’t bad fat.  This is the kind of fat that nutritionist like to call Omega-3 fatty acid, one that is very good for the function of the body. These fish average at 8 feet in lenght and as much as 770 lbs in weight. The largest bluefin tuna ever caught weighed in at 1500 lbs. It is noted that this species can reach up to 14 ft in length.

Sliced opened

Tuna sliced opened

Slicing and dicing

Slicing and dicing. The Otoro is sitting below the cart.

One of the most sought after sushi in the world is the belly loin of the fatty tuna fish, also known as toro. There are two different types of toro – chutoro and otoro. The otoro is the most sought after part of the tuna, and is the most expensive part of the fish. The host had mentioned that the otoro of the tuna for the two-day show have all been sold far in advance. The otoro of this particular fish was cut and quickly stashed away (picture above). After the fish was cut up, it was slowly divvied up into smaller steak sizes and sold. We managed to push our way through to get two steak maguro sold ad $39.99/lb and one chutoro for almost $60/lb.

After it quieted down, we got some sushi from the supermarket to add to the three slabs of raw meat we were about to partake for lunch. Then everyone decided to buy my birthday cake there too. Some how or rather, I ended up paying for my own birthday cake.  As consolation, cheh treated the younger siblings to green tea ice cream – dessert before the meal.

I do not eat sashimi, but let me tell you, this tuna was something.  It literally melted in my mouth. Ah! Good food.

Then we watched more tv, played games and entertained each other before prepping for our next big chow-down – dinner!  I wanted to try a Chinese restaurant that a lot of the kwai lohs have been raving about. Lesson learned.  Never trust those blardy 老外!

The menu was limited. So we asked the wait staff to recommend something from the “hidden Chinese menu.” (Any GOOD and reputable Chinese restaurant will always have a special Chinese menu stashed away) We were informed that there were no separate Chinese menu.  Sign #1.

So we asked him to recommend us a fish, chicken, vege and noodles dish – which is kind of silly, because you KNOW that that’s how they get you.  He recommended a spicy chicken, fried whole Chilean Sea Bass, “refreshing” bok choy fried with garlic and lomein noodles. He had no clue what he was recommending. Sign #2.

Then before the food was served, he told us ahead of time that he will take pictures for us – for the “presentation” of the food. Sign #3. (Good food doesn’t need to be exhibited)

We should have ran out by this time. But the idiots that we were, we just sat around and commented that the entire restaurant was filled with rich white guys. Sign #4.

Then he repeatedly came up to our table and mistook me for another regular. Sign #5. Chinese who can’t differentiate Chinese ought to be shot.

The food finally came. The only dish that looked “pretty” was the fish – but we didn’t know how much that fish cost.

The chicken dish was cut up in huge slices and then “deflowered.” It wasn’t too bad.  The fish looked tasty and was actually the most decent dish. The flesh was thick, the crispiness kept throughout the meal and the sauce was even spicier than the “spicy chicken.” The vege looked like it tasted – bland. It was practically just blanched in hot water and arranged prettily with no hint of garlic, or even a pinch of salt. The noodles was a disaster.

Our food

Our "nice-to-see-not-nice-to-eat" food

Since the fish was the only edible dish, we cleaned house.  When I say clean, I mean clean. Even the head was gone (as seen in the above picture)

The bill finally came. We paid $15 for less than a 0.5 lb of bok choy, which cost about $2/lb. Worse, the veges were sliced in half. My younger sister figured that there were about fifteeen 1/2 stalks of bok choy on that plate. You do the math. The sea bass was $50 – just as expensive as the tuna that we had earlier.  Our chunks of chicken was $22 and the bad noodles was $13.  Daylight robbery at night.

Well, the night was still young, and we headed over to my aunt’s place in Wayne to celebrate her birthday too, with the cake I bought. My aunt shares the same birthdate as me.  My Mango Mousse cake was good! Light and not too sweet with a hint of tang. We chatted through the night, while sipping tea/coffee and nibbling on cake.  In the end, it was a good night.

My self-bought cake

My self-bought cake

Sunday, November 15, 2009

We spent the morning im-ing with my parents.  It’s not often that my parents get the three girls all at the same time. We rolled eyes at each other while my mom made silly comments.

“Girls, other than almond cookies what else do you want?” my mom asked in preparation for our home-coming this December.

“Thousand layer cake,” replied my younger sister.

“Ooh! Peanut karipap!” I said.

“Those are only Chinese New Year cakes and cookies. Plus, only your kimnian jee (my second aunt) makes it.  And I won’t trouble her like that.”

After a long lecture about not “making use of people” and not troubling people, my mom ask, “So girls, other than the almond cookies, what else do you want?”

We ALL groaned and rolled our eyes at each other.

My younger sister said, “Thousand layer cake.”

I added, “Peanut karipap!”

That got my mom going again.  So we said, “If you know you’re not getting it, then don’t ask.  Cos that’s what we want.”

Then she went at it again, “So almond cookies only?”

We were rolling in our seats by then. So cheh said, “Almond cookies.”

“Almond Cookies.”

“Almond Cookies.”

Satisfied with the answer, she said goodnight to us.

We had leftovers for lunch while watching “Proposal” starring Sandra Bullock.  Pretty funny, but for some reason, Cheh thought it was hilarious. So hilarious that she was crying.  Senility is setting in early.

After the show, my younger sister left for home in NYC. Cheh went shopping with a friend from Singapore. I crawled into the sofa for an afternoon nap, or so I thought. Until my deaf dog decided to bark at no one.

That night, with just the three of us once again at home, we watched more cartoons while I finished up some Christmas wrapping. Yes, I said wrapping and not shopping. By the time 9 pm rolled around, I was knocked out cold by watching anime. Like a granny, I slept very early that night…only to be awaken by hub’s cell phone BLARING in the room.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Woke up feeling tired.

Jessie took her sweet time finding the perfect spot to pottie.  Lucky for me it wasn’t that cold out.

Did groceries during lunch because I spent the entire weekend having fun and taking naps instead of doing chores. Managed to squeeze in 15 minutes of power napping too.  This is what you call multi-tasking.

More child labor. And I ended up with a headache. Amnesty International, anyone?

Didn’t have dinner until 8:30. We were all famished and drained. Jessie was just ecstatic that we were finally home. I’m just glad that I have someone to come home to, who loves me that much to show such pure excitement, day in day out, upon our return.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I officially work for a sweatshop.

Got a headache again – but this time from hacking my lungs out.

However, I’ll be free from the labor camp for the next three days – starting NOW!

Just checked out the shop openings and sales in Woodbury Commons for Black Friday.  Cheh is reading it out loud and she has her credit cards revving to go.  She already has her eyes set on the Chloé and Gucci stores. Must prepare my Ta Mai, who will be visiting that weekend, for the crazy hours that we will be up shopping.  The plan is to stuff our faces on Thursday afternoon/evening at my aunts in Wayne. Then go straight to Woodbury for the first store opening at 9 pm. Shop ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT or until one of us call it quits.

Cheh and I got bored watching So You Think You Can Dance, and turned on Rookies to watch instead.  That freaking cougar needs two pails to stop her leaky mouth whenever she catches sight of Ichihara Hayato aka Aniya Keiichi.  *shake head*

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The day flies whenever you’re doing absolutely nothing and everything.

Jess woke me up, pacing the room, at 5 am.  I let her out of the room and crawled back into bed. She ran downstairs and promptly came up again, and pushed the room’s door open.  All I heard was the clickety-clack of her nails against the hardwood floors. I refused to be up so early, especially on a day that I don’t have to. I threw my bolster over my head to drown out the noise.

The phone rang a little before 8.  It was my parents!  Every year, since the day I left home 14 years ago, they would be the first to wish me Happy Birthday. My day began after speaking to them for 2 seconds. Every time they call, or we call, it feels like there’s a plane to catch.  Can’t talk. You’re OK. Great. We’re OK. Have to run. Got a plane to catch…almost.

I went downstairs, and sitting in front of my iMac was a prettily wrapped box, expertly tied with an orange ribbon. For most of the morning, that box was set aside since I had to schedule hub’s appointment at the US Embassy in KL. That took the better part of the morning to complete. I finally opened the box and pulled out a brand new Sony Ericsson phone. Only problem – it wasn’t red and it wasn’t skinny enough. Hubs, dejected, was going to return it and get me a slimmer, more expensive one instead. But I stopped him. In the end, I spent the other half of the morning and the afternoon playing with my brand new 8.1 megapixels phone, forgetting about my breakfast (and almost lunch too) in the process. By 1:30 hubs dragged me out of the house, with my stomach rumbling.

Sony Ericsson C905a

We drove all the way to Fort Lee, through mid-afternoon rush and road works and by the time we got to the Italian restaurant, it was tea time. Hubs had shrimp linguine in marinara sauce while I chose to have baked penne in tomato sauce and mozzarella topped with eggplant. It was an little mom and pops Italian joint run by Mexicans. Mine was YUM-O! Hubs was just a little too acrid. My unfinished lunch was tp-ed for dinner.

Across the restaurant was the Fairway grocery store, so we hopped in to take a look inside. We have a habit of eating and then shopping for food after. Hubs found a banana cream pie, my favorite.

After that, we went home. The entire trip back, I was in a food comatose. Once home, I continued where I left off with my phone in the early afternoon. Hubs took a nap – until 7pm. Someone’s not sleeping tonight.

So we had leftovers for dinner and the pie for dessert, which started out great, but by my last bite, I wanted to gag. I had to take a sour plum to wash it down after.

Now that I am in bed, hubs walks in and plays Wang Lee Hom’s (WLH) Wei Yi for me, on my new phone that I messed around with the entire day. For someone who doesn’t like WLH at all, he’s playing all of WLH’s songs on my phone, while accompanying me as I wind down for the night.

I did absolutely nothing but then again, everything. Just like that, I have a little me to carry around.

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