When buying men’s clothes in KL, there are three main factors that come into play: the mercilessly scorching weather, the limited selection of menswear labels and the negative perception about guys even attempting to dress up. I found a solution in Americana labels like Gap, Banana Republic, and the recently departed Gant that seem to adress all three concerns. These Americans sure know how to make their summer clothes comfortable in balmy weather while maintaining a modest but tasteful aesthetic .

I thought that the summer collection menswear that was brought to KL shores this year was pretty good- lots of nice shirts and shorts in breathable material and tasteful patterns (plaid, stripes, madras, gingham). That was until I saw this photo as I was flipping through a Japanese men’s fashion magazine (Men’s Non-no, if you must) and saw this ad in its first few pages:

[photo credit: BOI]

This is the Spring/Summer ’09 ad campaign for Gap Japan. I was as green (as the second model from left’s canvas sneakers) with envy at the realisation that so many of the items did not reach Malaysian shores. Model 1’s shoes, t-shirt, mint green bag; Model 3’s scarf, bag, t-shirt, belt, pants, shoes.. and the list goes on. Luckily, I calmed down after I looked at the ad hard and saw the words: Gap JAPAN. Japan, the country with a fashion sense/buying power so advanced that clothing labels have released separate clothing lines especially for the Japanese market, Converse Japan, Paul Smith Japan. Some items released in Japan will never see the light of day even in the native countries of that brand, I comforted myself.

I got hold of the said issue of Men’s Non-no, and the picture above does not do justice to the full-blown ad in the glossy pages of the magazine. Several details are not visible in the picture above, such as the crumpled texture of Model #1’s t-shirt, the stripes on model #3’s pants and the knitted belt on model #3,4,6 and model #5’s micro check shorts.

Sigh, the sad state of Malaysian menswear.

*Please click here (Boimpression blog) to see pics of the full ad campaign for Gap Japan SS09


There is a certain rewarding feeling to be had from discovering new music, particularly if the discovery was accidental, say from a friend’s playlist, a movie or a shop’s speakers. You become intrigued by the sound you hear and the emotions it evokes that it piques your curiosity about the song, its performer, its origins.

Today I had the fortune of coming across this very beautiful studio performance upon visiting the American Trad blog, Ivy Style. The performance is the 1966 studio recording of “Waltz for Debby” by Swedish jazz singer, Monica Zetterlund and the Bill Evans Trio. While the song in itself is a beautiful melody combining Monica’s smoky (no pun intended) voice with the trio’s deft accompaniment (replete with mid-song tempo changes), the visual component also contributed to the enigma of this Youtube video. The video begins with the camera on Monica chatting, glass in one hand and cigarette in the other, with the band playing at the background. She then saunters towards the grand piano to begin the session, then has a little discussion with the trio. Bill Evans plays the intro once, then again and this time magic begins as she joins in.

The coolness she exudes in this video exceeds anything seen in today’s MTV. I will spend the rest of my afternoon watching her videos on Youtube.

The Sartorialist, the book.

September 5, 2009

I was browsing The Sartorialist website and the current post was about his book signing in Colette, Paris. It was then that I realised that the book he has been mentioning about since early this year (here and here) is already out in the stores.

I am hoping to see it in the Malaysian bookstore shelves soon, but I have yet to decide whether or not to buy it. I love the works of the Sartorialist, but I follow it so religiously that I may not even need the book. I am not expecting the contents of the book to be vastly different from the blog postings, so if I decide to buy the book it would only be for easy referential purposes and as an homage to the man on the front lines of street fashion photography.

The book, available in hard cover and paperback versions, has been release in the US on August 12th and on worldwide release early this month. It can be ordered online from Amazon and the like.

Over the Merdeka weekend, what better way to celebrate our independence than to eat our way around the city where it all started?

Weather on that gastronomic Saturday was excellent- clear blue skies, the occasional sea breeze, sunny but not humid. All bodes well for our gastronomic sojourns, except for the crowds. People, people, EVERYWHERE. You had to queue for practically anything that was worth waiting.
Photographic evidence will be provided throughout the post.

After meeting our ex-uni-mate/tour guide for the day, we start our glutton-fest at our first stop for breakfast…

1. Hup Huat(?) Porridge and its next door Yong Tau Foo, Bunga Raya

Blindly following our local friend’s directions, we parked our car in an open space carpark that had some sort of a shack at the back of it. Little did I know that the shack was where we were going to have our porridge! Turns out that behind the shack are a few little shops: one famous for their porridge, and the other an equally popular Yong Tau Foo establishment. It really felt like a shack, and so regrettably I didn’t bother to snap pictures.

Taste verdict:
The porridge had everything in it: from shrimps to pork strips to century eggs. Texture was creamy with each rice morsel well broken into : definitely not the sort of porridge I’d associate with ‘sick people food’. The Yong Tau Foo from next door was pretty good too, albeit being greeted with a limited selection still remaining for the day (it was already 10am). The filling for the Yong Tau Foo was genuinely fish-y, and the tofu tasted self-made and devoid of the alkali (‘kansui’) aftertaste.

As I didn’t snap photos or take note of the shop’s name, I did a quick google and I reckon this shop called ‘Hup Huat’ may be it. All I know is that it is located in the Bunga Raya area.

2. Cendol @ Jonker 88 Museum Cafe

A glimpse of the queue at the shop. Fortunately we were there before the hoards of tourists came,
and so didn’t have to sunbathe for our food like these poor souls. Not here, at least.

This well-known Cendol establishment in the well-known Jonker Street needs no further introduction (as evidenced by the barrage of blog posts mentioning this place upon googling the words ‘Jonker’ and ‘cendol’ together). This is my second time here, and this time round I had the durian version of the cendol. In this version, they would add a scoop of durian cream on top of the cendol.

Here we also tried the Nyonya fish cake salad(?). It consisted of slices of fried fish cake (鱼饼) served with rojak-style julienned cucumbers and a red coloured sweet dipping sauce.

Taste verdict:
The durian cream tasted good and went well with the cendol, but I wish they had given more of it because the taste got drowned quickly under the heap of ice shavings and ‘gula melaka’.

I have to mention that the cendol served here is different from the Penang version that is more soup-y and generous with the coconut milk, ‘cacing’ and red beans. The form of cendol here is more akin to ‘ais kacang’ with its heap of shaved ice topped with lots of gula melaka.

As for the Nyonya fish cake salad thingy, the combination is refreshing, but the fish cake slices were extremely salty and had to be balanced by the vegetables and the sweet sauce (perhaps that was the intention).

Intermission
After that, we decided to take a break from eating and played ‘tourist’ for a while. We wandered around the shops on Jonker, then trekked’ up St Paul’s Hill and hung out there in the shade while waiting for the food to digest.

Well rested, we marched down to the hill to our next battle post.

3. Chop Chung Wah Chicken Riceballs


Looking at the queue outside Chung Wah, upon entering the souvenir shop facing it (San Shu Gong)…

Me : Look at those idiots lined up just for Chicken Rice Balls!
Friend : Yeah…
Me : What’s so good anyway? I love food, but in my books no food is that good to justify queuing in the hot sun for it!
Friend : Yeah, yeah…

5 minutes later, coming out from San Shu Gong…

Me : Ok, where to next?
Friend: Eat chicken riceballs lo…
Me : What the? What’s A, LL, and VY doing over there in the queue?
Friend: Doing what you’d never do in your holidays. Queuing up for food. And it’s our turn to queue now…
Me: ……..

Fortunately, the queue wasn’t long (the shortest one for the whole trip) and the weather wasn’t as hot as the photos suggest.

Anyway, due to the crazy tourist hoardes, the proprietors made ordering extremely simple. After taking a quick look at our table, all waiter had to ask us was:

Half or whole chicken?

That’s it. No fuss over preferred chicken parts, type of chicken, soup, vegetables, number of rice balls, etc. Minutes later, the chicken was served (by an auntie who ‘Siam!’-ed the poor girl who was in her way) and each of us were served with 5 rice balls.

I am not sure if extra rice balls can be ordered, but you could venture asking one of their extremely busy staff for it (at your own risk). A potentially Oliver-Twist-Sir-may-I-have-some-more situation there, moreover ironic considering that we are paying customers.
And a word of advice- do not even think of cheating your way into the restaurant for a table. The hawk-eyed staff will make sure you got ‘served’ in their own way, I witnessed it with my own eyes.


Chopsticks reaching frantically for the chicken.

Taste verdict:
Rice balls and steamed chicken were good, but not great. I found the rice balls slightly lacking in aroma while the steamed chicken was slightly bland and soggy in texture. While some chicken rice ball purists might appreciate its subtle flavouring, I prefer mine doused in soy sauce, dark or light. That’s why I prefer the chicken rice ball sold in a place in Melaka Raya. Although less authentic in its ambience, the tasty rice balls and succulent chicken more than made up for its lack of atmosphere.

to be continued..

Scott Schuman’s blog, the Sartorialist is one of the most widely read style blogs for a reason. His eye for detail is among his blog’s many qualities. I am certain that I am one of many who would turn to his blog for style inspiration and, with the availability of large hard disk space nowadays, save countless photographs posted by him for future reference.
Here I’d like to share photos that I would keep for my personal style reference, and the reason behind liking the particular photo. Click on the photo to go to the original post at The Sartorialist.

original pic by Scott Schuman

  • I can’t determine whether or not the tie was a silk knit one. All I know is that the tie’s colour and texture looks great in his outfit.
  • Love the ethnic bracelets. It’s not unlike another photo also posted by Scott last year, where a man wore similar looking ethnic bands around his ankle (no socks, obviously)
  • Electric blue pants are the obvious attention seeker in this outfit
  • Belgian velvet slippers as seen here, and not too dissimilar from the English house slippers seen here. Don’t let the word ‘slipper’ fool you into underestimating their make and price tag!


With some colleagues leaving us, we decided to go for a nice dinner together followed by drinks nearby. Initially, we had planned to go to Tenji in Solaris Mont Kiara, but that suggestion met with some objections from yours truly and some others who had a mere so-so experience in that Japanese buffet restaurant. Someone then suggested Rakuzen, since it was in the same area as well.

Since there were 14 of us, we were given a private room, that was good.
The food? Some hits but also some major misses. Many of us were for Rakuzen because we had good dining experiences there (and their set lunches were always value-for money without compromising quality). Yesterday, however, they fell a little short of my expectations.

We had some appetizers while waiting for some of our friends to arrive. Rakuzen is currently having a Summer Menu for the season, and we had two items from it.

The first was the Unagi Omelette:

Unagi Omelette. Looks uninteresting on the plate.

May not look appetizing but turned out to be quite a pleasant combination. And it’s not on the menu all the time, so it’s worth a try.

Next item from the Summer Menu was the Seafood Avocado Salad:

Seafood and Avocado Salad, after being tossed. Looks even less appetizing than the omelette.

This was my favourite dish for the day. Don’t let the picture fool you, because the taste will surprise you! The salad consists of crab meat, prawns, tuna and other fish bits, cuttle fish, roe and salad greens, all tossed in a light but flavorful dressing. A friend commented that the fish they used weren’t too fresh, but I thought the salad on the whole was excellent. This salad is a perfect representation summer and I look forward to having something like this again.

Next, we had the Avocado Tempura Roll:

Colleague was slightly disappointed because the picture on the menu showed the sushi pieces individually coated in tempura batter. What was served instead was a tempura avocado rolled into the sushi. Taste was average, nothing outstanding.

Finally, we had the Dragon Roll, which was basically an unagi on a roll:


I didn’t get to taste this one as I was busy playing around with my friend’s Nikon DSLR (he was tempting me to buy one!). Note that the ‘dragon’s head’ is missing, as a colleague was so hungry that she took the first piece before we could take the picture of the whole ‘dragon’. Hence, the unagi sauce in the front as the evidence of the crime.

Next came everyone’s main course that were the run-of-the-mill set meals, and so weren’t worth photographing. I had the Zen Teppanyaki, which was a steak teppanyaki set. It was a quite a disappointment. The meat was not piping hot when served to me. I wonder how long it was left to stand at the kitchen counter before it reached me. Meat was prepared medium as I had asked for it, but that was it – just medium cooked. Lacking in flavours, if at all. I assume that it was cooked at a relatively low fire because there was no heat or char to the meat at all.

At RM38++, I would rather pay a bit more for the one I had in Gonbei, Starhill. That one gave me a good cut of sirloin, a significantly bigger portion, and cooked so much better.

I had a try of my friend’s Cha Soba, and that wasn’t particularly good too.

After dinner we proceeded to Somo in Shoplex Mont Kiara. The ambience was good, it was outdoor, relaxed, and the tables were well spread for enough privacy. Drinks were alright, reasonably priced. But I always had a bone to pick with these sort of places. I never understood places like this one, and similarly the Laundry and Republic. These places are set outdoors for a relaxed atmosphere, yet instead of playing chillout music, they blast the speakers with R&B and hiphop. It’s not because I hate R&B. It just feels so ironic to get your customers tipsy with alcohol then play some booty-shaking music, but expect them to remain seated through it all, having normal conversations . Say what?

Verdict:

I am not swearing off Rakuzen yet, for two reasons:

For one, as I was leaving this restaurant, I saw some Japanese diners and the Japanese chef. If the food was prepared by Japanese and fit enough for the Japanese palate, surely there must be something in the restaurant worth having. Maybe just not the teppanyaki.

Secondly, all meals that I had at Rakuzen never failed to disappoint, prior to this one. But then again, maybe their strength lies in their value-for-money sets that feature the standard fare of the Tempura/Sushi/Saba/Unagi range.

Perhaps I should ask my colleagues how did their Tempura/Sushi/Saba/Unagi dinner sets go. If those stank too, then I am afraid Rakuzen Sri Hartamas might have already lost the touch.

By now, I am sure that most people would have heard of 15Malaysia, and Potong Saga. Especially since it is all over Facebook and Twitter.

For those who haven’t, where have you been? it is “15 short films about Malaysia featuring some of the country’s coolest directors, actors, musicians and politicians“. It features everyone, from the controversial Namewee (of ‘Negarakuku’ fame) to the late Yasmin Ahmad to Mix FM DJ Serena C to Khairy Jamaluddin (acting as a taxi driver!).

A new short film will be released every two days. At the time of this posting two videos have already been released to the very supportive public (just check out the number of Facebook fans, video downloads and comments made)- Ho Yuhang’s “Potong Saga” and Yasmin Ahmad’s “Chocolate”.

For those who’ve watched it already, then you’d already know that ‘Potong Saga’ was absolutely hilarious. I bet a lot of Chinese guys can relate to this short film, because for those who may not know it, this circumcision thingy is one of the major concerns when one considers converting to Islam. What I bet you wouldn’t know, though, is that “The Making Of” video for Potong Saga is JUST AS FUNNY. *I’ve embedded the videos at the end of this post.

In comparison, “Chocolate” by the late Yasmin Ahmad was a somber affair that examines race relations, resentment and even payback, possibly.

Even though this project is only at its early legs, I am of the opinion that this project has already succeeded in getting is message across. Just from these two videos alone, the average Malaysians can already catch a glimpse of what the Chinese community’s opinions on finance and circumcision (in the first video), and education policies (in the second). I am sure the aim of this project is not to point out which opinion is right or wrong, but simply to get these opinions out in the open.

Now that the Chinese community has been heard, I am eager to see the viewpoints from other communities.

Here is the Potong Saga video, followed by it’s “Making of” video. If you don’t laugh at the end of the video, I recommend that you seek professional help.

And here is the second video, “Chocolate” directed by the late Yasmin Ahmad.