Belitong Island – Not Just a Rainbow Troops Island

(or Ahok)

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I have the opportunity to visit the island of Belitong in the beginning of the month. As a small island near the island of Bangka, which was my grandparents from my mother side’s hometown, the location is made famous by the movie Rainbow Troops or Laskar Pelangi in the local language. While now it’s also known as the hometown of Ahok or Mr. Basuki Tjahaya Purnama, the Jakarta Governors. During my stay there, I was accompanied by a local guide, natives of the island. That way, we got to explore the local delicacies, not that Belitung is swarmed with one, but at least we can get around the more touristy spot and go straight to where the locals went.

img_8285Being a small island, Belitung also has a few smaller island surrounding it. Well, it’s basically like that all around Indonesia, it’s like an island-ception. But oh boy, the beaches was fantastical. Even in the ‘dirtier’ area of the beaches it still has the magical white sand and clear water. I am almost tempted to do a Baywatch scene by emerging from the sea water and walks slowly towards the beach. Since Belitung is known as a tin producing island, there were also some old mines that transformed into a travel destination. The underwater ecosystem of Belitung is also one of a kind. They have magnificent corals and fishes. Too bad I am not a diver myself, so I can’t really tell you how it is.

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What I can tell you is the food over there is amazing.

Let me repeat, one more time.

UH MAY ZING!

From a merely grilled fish into a succulent roast pork, to a relish martabak. they have it all. For the record, I am not a seafood eater, but they have the freshest produce anyone can offer. I can testify to that since I got bad itches when I ate a bad seafood. I am itch free over there. They have a fish exclusive to the island called ‘Ilak’ this fish has a flaky texture and not a strong fishy smell. It’s perfect for grilling with a simple Soy Sauce or special spices by the restaurant. Another delicacy for a seafood lover is the crabs, especially the rajungan. Again, I can only say what my brothers said, it was the best rajungan he ever had, it’s so full of meat and sweet, and you can believe him since he is such a diva for food. Another recommendation called gangan. a sort of fish head soup cooked with pineapple so it gives that fresh vibrant that goes well with the island feeling. img_8348

img_8307For those that not a seafood person, is the noodles. I spent 4 days 3 nights, and I had like five noodle meals. The noodle they served here consisting one bowl of noodle with minced pork and beansprouts, and another bowl of fishball and ‘cakien’-some sort of fishcake. The funny thing here, all the noodle seller is open for business in different time, it’s like they saying to have noodle all day long with variety because every store has their own unique taste. If you not eating pork, you can ask for no meat. Or you can just go to the famous Bakmi Atep for their prawn broth noodle. img_8451

img_8456As millennials as I can be, I have the need to get coffee. The famous coffee shop in the island is Kong Djie Coffee, it is an old school coffee shop, a kopitiam, to be exact. it establishes during the 40’s, with their original store still standing strong and a bunch of franchise store opening up all around the island with a younger vibe. This original store is the perfect place to have your morning fix since the original store served some snacks such as fried banana and assorted fritters, as well as traditional cakes provided by other small business. Just perfect, a grass root business model, small business being helped by another small but more established business. img_8447

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Another highlight is their martabak, a bit similar to Bangka style martabak, they attract you with the smell of butter melting on the surface of hot martabak. That greasy glossy treasure is calling you like an ant towards sugar. During my stay there, I haven’t found one bad martabak, even the worst is still acceptable.img_8333 When Bangka and Belitung share a similar martabak, their roast pork is completely different. What I can tell you is the food over there, is amazing If Bangka style is heavier on the spices, Belitong have a more gentle taste with a crispier skin. Me personally prefer the Bangka style, but I also won’t say no for Belitong style. To quote a friend of mine, ‘Pork is never a mistake!’

img_8343Belitung is not only an island about Rainbow Troops, this is a nice place to chill and have a nice beach moment. Not to mention that it is so affordable, sure the infrastructure is not as good as Bali or Lombok, but there are a lot of hidden gems that can still be found if you willing to explore the island. If you wanted to go for a chill vacation, I suggest you consider Belitung for your destinations.img_8312img_8314img_8321img_8339img_8342img_8353img_8358img_8361img_8381img_8386img_8387img_8418img_8439img_8432img_8466

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Those Restless Night

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image from here

Don’t you just hate it.
When night comes.
When your body crave for rest.
Yet your mind just rejects the proposal.

Don’t you just hate it.
When night comes.
When your brain decides to let go.
Yet your heart refuses to.

Don’t you just hate it.
When night comes.
When you thought that you got your shit figured out.
Yet you seems clueless.

Don’t you just hate it.
When night comes.
When you full of ideas.
Yet during the bright days, you just keep daydreaming.

Well, don’t you just hate it when you thought you are strong,
yet you are felt so helpless and lonely.

Maybe it was you that pushing away,
or maybe you are the one that being pushed away.

Work It Smart

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One thing that I remember clearly from the culinary school is the importance of Mise En Place. Mise En Place is a French term for put in place, it emphasising the importance of having all things that you will be needed during service time, such as your garnish, sauce bottles, and such. In general just preparing all the things that you going to use. For example, when you cooking a fried rice, then your mise en place including activity such as mincing garlic, chopping spring onion, dicing meat, cracking an egg, up to preparing the wok that is going to be used.

Mise en Place is being done to make sure that it will provide a smooth activity afterwards, whether it services or cooking stuff. Well, it might look cool when you do things a la minute, but it won’t be smart, isn’t it? If you can have it ahead of time it always betters that way. No one likes to go to war with a half assed prep anyway. That’s why, there is a saying that you can judge a chef by how they do their mise en place, chefs, whom able to do a great prep and keep things in check and neat is more likely to have a better career. Good mise en place also ensures that you will have things more organised and will safe a lot of time and energy.

to quote Anthony Bourdain;

“Mise-en-place is the religion of all good line cooks… As a cook, your station, and its condition, its state of readiness, is an extension of your nervous system… The universe is in order when your station is set.”

Once, my class was having a joint lineup with a junior batch that will go to the apprenticeship site, and the chef instructor asked us to give some tips for them, most of my friend said to just listen to the head chef’s instructions and work hard. Yes, I agree with it, but only partly. What I think the most important is to be able to work smart. How to plan what you have to do for the day. I was having a hard time during apprenticeship because I wasn’t fast enough, the first two weeks I felt like a slowpoke in a racing competition against ratata. But as time goes, I get a bit better. I tried to get a grasp of the pace in the kitchen and learn about things that have to be done, Including prioritising stuff.

It helps, a lot!

Working hard is good, a lot of places would love to have a hard working personnel. But I am sure a lot of places would love a smart worker even more. Let me remind you, working smart is not working lazy, cutting corners here and there. But, to do things that need to be done in the most effective and timely manner. By doing that not only you got things done, you should also be able to save your energy for another project. Like working out, doing some freelancing stuff, or even prepping your own big break.You might not get it right the first time, but while you keep adjusting you should be getting the right tunes that work for you.

Let’s us start to working smart!

The Super Samoan!

I grow up watching WWE, since the time it known as WWF. An era where pre-Hollywood The Rock feuding with the likes of Stone Cold, Triple H, and such. High flying Hardys, table breaking Dudleys, and annoying yet fun Christian and Edge. I watch it until the era where Edge going single and was the Champions, Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio exchanging belts, and I stopped. Because of an incident that caused an underaged mimicking the moves and ended up died while doing it, and the shows was taken off the air in my country.

As I watching wrestling growing up, and now I wanted to get more in shape and get fit. I figure I need some kind of body goals. People tend to go with those people that super bulky and buff when they go for a fitness goal. Well, it’s not weird, some says to keep dream big, right? I have goals too, I wish that someday I will have a body like Brock Lesnar. Having a big dream is not a sin, but it is also important to have something more realistic. Just like when you want to run a marathon, you have to start running, do a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and then you go to the marathon.

Brock Lesnar is very jacked, I’ve seen his training routine on youtube and I even out of breath just watching it. The cool thing about him is not only he is strong, he also possesses a speed and agility like a cruiserweight wrestler. But I am aware of my condition right now. He was an all-American champion and a pro athlete his whole life and I was this fat Asian boy that play basketball and eat all the time, and when the basketball stops it just mean that I got extra time to eat. In a short, I was a couch potato.

As I said, it’s nice to have high goals, but make sure you have some that still reachable, and you work yourself over time. While I heard the news that Brock Lesnar is going to make his comeback at the UFC Octagon, I was stoked and excited. I wasn’t a big fan of UFC before, but I would like to see how he do in the octagon. Since the WWE is ‘scripted’ and the performers are considered more as a performer than an athlete. The rants can go for another paper regarding that issues. My point is I wanted to see him fight in the octagon. The build up for the match is huge, not surprising tho, remembering that both of the biggest giants is backing  this event. I am not gonna talk about the result and stuff because it is full of scandals and such. What I wanted to tell is when I know the one that will face Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, I was again stoked.

The man was Mark Hunt, the Super Samoan, a New Zealand fighter that known as a big hitter, whom also a winner for K1 Tournament in Japan. Why I got stoked? Well, it was not a surprise that some heavyweight fighter can be a bit chunky. Let’s make it this way, if you bumped over him in the street, you won’t have a thought that he is a UFC Fighter. When I youtube some of his old matches I was even more blown away, he is actually a great fighter. It led me to look for his biography, Born To Fight, where he share the struggles of growing up and how he can get into his position right now. I would highly recommend it.

What got me in his story is, he was never a school jocks, a well-established athlete, he might have his stint when he tried out for a rugby team, but it eventually went south. Regardless all his shortcomings he always found a way to get back on track. The determination of a ghetto boy, a story of an underdog. Which is a more relatable story to most of us, I find this motivating. For me, I love to have a big goal, but it is important to have something that still reachable for the moment. I might still have a long way to go towards the physique of Brock Lesnar, but in a meantime, I will head for Mark Hunt and from there, I started to go towards the very end of the track!

I write this post as a motivation for me since I started to working out regularly and losing my excessive weight in order to be able to do a proper activity without exhausting myself and pressuring my body to the extent, and of course to be able to have a taste of those amazing delicious treats awaits. This body has cost me some dreams and it is time to gain back the control!

Why never invite me?*

Don’t we all love to hear that sentence? To be clear these are a couple situation that the sentence normally applies;

I already watch the movie last week.
Wah, never invite me.

The cake there was great, I ate three slices yesterday.
Eat cake never invite me.

Yeah, I spent my Saturday at hospital.
Go hospital never invite me!

Can you explain to me why I have to invite you whenever I go places? are you the one paying for it? I just can’t get it. If you say this is only a small talk, well, just don’t talk at all. I find this is very annoying. I have two hypothesis on it;

  1. They just want to have their time by themselves or have it with another circle of friends.
  2. You just not fun to be with.

For some people, it is relaxing to just have a time for ourselves. Yes, there are peoples who don’t mind, even enjoy, doing things alone. My suggestion if you want to say things like that or something similar, just zip it. Be wise on what you said. You might let it slip one time, and you won’t get any invitations anymore.

*the phrases is in Singlish about asking why people never ask the speaker to join their activity. The terms also commonly used is Bo Jio.

Chef’s Table

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Watching a chef work in a kitchen is like watching a dancer on stage. The good one can move so gracefully and amaze us with their slightest movements. That’s why I always love to watch those cooking show with good chefs in it. The magic of that is carried on when I went to At-Sunrice, where I get to see some of the instructors move so swiftly during demo and my sad attempt to duplicate it during hands on.

Nowadays, there is a lot of restaurant offering a concept where customer can see what happens in the kitchen, how the cooks prepare the order that keep coming from that ticket machine, which at times is a nightmare. It’s fun inside this kitchen, of course the demand is higher for the kitchen staff because customer can see and we need to be extra careful and more hygienic compared to our closed kitchen cousins. But, you won’t get shouted in an open kitchen because it’s just bad for the business. To be seen screaming to a cook, I don’t know if it get the customer appetite going. It doesn’t mean that we don’t get smacked tho, it just come in a nicer package of less shouting. 😛

I know a concept that can give people more satisfaction, instead of just watching the cooks from over the counter, why don’t get a table inside the kitchen. This amazing concept is known as chef’s table. This is normally used by chefs to offer a tasting menu for their new creations, of course, it cost a little bit more than the average dining fee, but to be able to taste a new dish and get a one of a kind experiences eating in the midst of a busy hustling kitchen is one of a kind. To top that, we get to see the beautiful movement of a well-trained chef on the stage of their own.

For me there is a pleasure in watching a swift move of a chef started from the misé en place, as simple as slicing onion or debone a chicken, to the cooking process, when they flawlessly stir the pan and pot, until the final process of plating all the element of the dish into a beautiful plate to please the eyes first before they kill us with the burst of flavour. It’s always intriguing to see what inspire all the great mind of the chefs when they plan all the menu.

My current addiction now is actually a Netflix series called Chef’s Table. Which they introduce us to a number of amazing chefs all around the world, telling the stories of their inspirations as well as an opinion from a well-known culinary figure n the area. If you ever wanted to know what goes behind all the crazy dishes in the famous restaurant, I highly recommend this series. This series is not like you every other culinary show, it is seriously mind blowing.

Now if you excuse me, I need to watch more episode of it and feel bad about myself even more.

I Woke Up Hungry

I just don’t get how people come up with the hashtag “woke up like this”. You know, that picture when you post the image of you just after you wake up in the morning. What even makes you think about it in the first place?

Hmm, okay how do I start my day? 
Oh, I know! 
Lets take a selfie!
I’m a geniuuuus!!

For me, as I am constantly hungry, I will never think to take a picture after I am wake up, the phone is lucky to not be eaten. The first thing in my mind after waking up is

what should I eat for breakfast today?
Porridge would be nice.
But wait, it wont hold long enough.
How about noodle?
 No, it will make me fat.
I guess I ended up with the nasi uduk again.

Yeah, avoiding noodle and having a rice dish cooked with coconut milk with fried as toppings for breakfast won’t make you fat.

Also, I am pretty sure the picture of me waking up won’t be pleasing at all. That droopy eyes and half awake look, I can’t seem to get a good angle of me at that time of the day. I will be busy covering up my stomach anyway. Because I don’t know what sorcery there were, but every time I lay on my bed it seems always try to get me naked. I don’t know why, I just laying down minding my own business, roll a bit to get the most comfortable position and the next thing I know, my shirt is up to my stomach. And if i fell asleep like that, I ended up taking tolak angin and burping all day long the next day.

So, if any of you guys are a practitioner of the hashtag “I Woke Up Like This” or have any idea what’s behind it, please do tell me! I’ll be here waiting in line for my noodle.

Anything Worth Holding On To

Been repeating this song by Cynthia Erivo for the gazillion times, and I just can’t get enough of her voice. Splendid! Marvelous!

Anything Worth Holding On To – Sung by Cynthia Erivo, Composed by Scott Alan

Lately it seems, I’ve lost inspiration
It feels like it’s miles away
I sleep through the day
And cry through the night time

I’m caught in an empty space
Takes effort to find I don’t have the strength
I’m holding on to what’s still left of me

When the life you had planned
Slowly slips through your hands
When it feels like you just slept through all the best years of your life
When you can’t find your way
When each day ends the same
When you’ve lost the fight inside of you
Is there anything worth holding on to

It’s hard to be strong
When weakness is stronger
I’m a prisoner in my own skin
I’m not good on my own
I need to be careful
Someone to help these days begin

There are dreams I’ve let die
That I just pushed aside
I need to find out how to turn this dark back into light

When the warmth disappears
When it’s been one of those years
When you’re running from the truth because you’re scared of what you might find
When your heart’s beyond repair
When you wake and no ones there
When your home consists of only you
Is there anything worth holding on to

Maybe tomorrow my heart will reawaken
And I can find what I’ve been searching for
But today I’m tired and I’m running out of strength
All I know is I can’t live like this anymore
When you’re so far from home
When you’ve lost all signs of hope
When you’re searching for salvation
But it feels so far away
When the words have disappear
And the melody’s unclear
When there’s nothing left inside of you
Is there anything worth holding on to

Cause I will still be holding on, to anything worth holding on to

 

Stars for the Little Red Dot

Michelin just held an event in Singapore to give out some stars to Singapore culinary establishment. The recipient are the sorts like Joel Robuchon, Jaan, Les Amis, Cut, and some others big names in the industry, the full list can be seen here.

Well, it is a no brainer for me that some of the big names getting their star from the lovable bibman. What exciting is some of the local hawker place also getting the recognition. For me Singapore culinary scene is not just about the fancy fine dining or high place restaurant but the heart of it is the tremendous amount of local hawker delicacy. From the carrot cake to chicken rice, to bak chor mee, everything is a delish. just like Indonesian with their fried rice and satay, Singaporean also have their preferences for their favourite hawker place.

That shown because no matter where you go, every big hawker center seems to have that one stall that need to be queued for at least 30 mins. It actually mind boggling how the fast paced Singaporean willing to queue for a food. It’s like a unsaid rules, “if got queue, confirm good one.” and basically I just salute anyone that willing to wait for more than 15 mins for the food. I can go mad because of the waiting.

The thing that can be learn from this for those who wanted to open up new food business is that you don’t need to go way overboard with your business, yes it is nice to dream big, but it will be nicer to be realistic. Keep that big dream to your long term goals and focusing small first. *of course if you have all the requirement to go big, go ahead* Just make sure that you are 100% behind your idea and have the drive to both run the business and beat the rent.

Start out at a hawker doesn’t mean that you are less than the others, there’s prove with two establishment awarded in the first Michelin Guide for Singapore.

Let’s get cooking guys!