Cheeming Boey interview
Buoyed by hard work and a critical eye, Malaysian-born and US-based author and cartoonist Cheeming Boey razes the myth of the starving artist. He first shot to fame through his incessant doodling on Styrofoam cups, and has just put out the fourth volume of his ‘When I Was A Kid’ series. We talk to him about his work and his childhood. How did you get into writing? I only got into writing because of one teacher. Before that I looked at writing as work, but this teacher told us to go have fun. Before that it was ‘Do your homework’, but with this teacher it was ‘Write whatever you want!’ I had never been given that freedom before. Her name was Kam Cho Cho. Everyone engages with your books, especially across generations. How do you come up with content that is relevant like that? For me to write stories that appeal to other people, I need to first understand what it is that people feel. You can’t just write about something and be relatable if you’re ignorant about what people feel. That’s how I think good material comes about. If you don’t know what the best assam laksa tastes like, how would you know how to make it? When I went through this book, most of my references were from 9GAG. In order to appeal to the generations moving forward, I have to constantly update myself on the language they are speaking now, which is why I hang out around kids a lot. If you keep up with their language, you can relate to them. That’s why kids have favourite uncles. You don’t ever want to have da
Guide to virtual reality gaming
Virtual reality has never been more popular and accessible than now. And in terms of entertainment, a slew of games now have a virtual reality version, creating alternate worlds of family-friendly room-scale gaming. It didn’t take long for VR Lab, the country’s first virtual reality specialists, to snag the attention of the public since opening in December 2016. Today, all seven branches see a steady stream of gamers, especially on the weekends. Eager to discover the hype, we hopped on the bandwagon and booked ourselves a session. The exhaustive games menu is split into categories ranging from Action and Sports to Arts, Design and Strategy. These games will keep both kids and parents entertained with a few laughs thrown in for good measure.
Penang's best bars
Whether you’re a tippler with discerning taste, prefer thumping EDM or live acoustic sets, these nightlife establishments set the bar high.
June Low interview
June Low can look you in the eye without blushing while discussing the birds and the bees and is a stalwart supporter of sex education for teens. She tells us about hosting ‘Popek-Popek’, the country’s first sex education web series. I personally learned about sex through... a more ‘worldly’ classmate. I was sitting in a science lab; legs spread apart and just happened to be sitting at the corner of the table. The classmate exclaimed, ‘Ewww! Do you want it that bad?’ I was maybe 12 and a half, in Form One, never had any sex-ed, and I didn't know what she thought I wanted. She probably didn't know either, but this piqued my interest. After that, I bought books about puberty and learnt about it on my own (my mum was always cool about books) and a cool aunt bought me some books from the States, which I still have and I often revisit them whenever I teach. ‘Popek-Popek’s very first episode... was about what it really means to ‘lose’ your virginity. Most of the girls I've spoken to are obsessed with virginity. It tells you a lot about our society where young women think that their entire self-worth is located between their legs. When I decided to do ‘Popek’, I told myself I would never compromise on doing the right thing, even if it meant the risking the wrath of the conservatives (something so many people in our society seem terrified of). The right thing in this case is to provide medically-accurate information, which is what we do. We often speak openly about topics no one want
The best board game cafés in KL
Proven to boost brainpower, board games are a healthy distraction for students and a great way for a family to spend an afternoon. Sammi Lim rolls the dice and throws down her best cards while scouting out KL’s best board game cafés.
Best tours of the island
With so many things to do, see and taste, Penang is an easy place to explore on your own. But if you have limited time, want a local’s perspective, or enjoy detailed historical and cultural information, take a guided tour.
Ernest Zacharevic interview
Young, eminent and widely travelled, Lithuanian-born artist Ernest Zacharevic has left his mark in myriad cities throughout the globe. When a pit stop in Penang turned into a four-year stint, Zacharevic’s interactive and engaging murals breathed new life into George Town. You’re all over the place. Where exactly do you live?You started with the most difficult question. Resident of the world?Yeah, I live everywhere. Last year, I realised it was the first time in five years that I’d spent more than three months in one country. What’s your hometown like? I read that Lithuania’s population is three million compared to Malaysia’s 30 million. That’s a ratio of 1:10.Basically. Nine out of twelve months it’s super cold and depressing there. Is that why you wanted to move to a tropical country?I like it here. It’s where I come back most often. I still consider myself based here. What drew you to Malaysia?When I was studying in London, I would travel every chance I had. I spent some time in Southeast Asia and visited Malaysia. I quite liked it. In college, I became good friends with someone from Penang. One Chinese New Year, I stopped by to see her and to hang out for a bit. Before I knew it, four years had gone by. 'Penang is a great place for art, because you have all these hungry people waiting for opportunities Since you mentioned London... You've often been compared to a fellow Englishman, namely Banksy. But while he enjoys a certain degree of anonymity, everyone knows who you are
The best art classes for kids in KL
It’s a wonderful thing when parents see past art classes as lofty pastimes and recognise their intrinsic value. We poked around these artist studios and ateliers to discover KL’s state-of-the-art kids’ classes.
The best mocktails in KL
Don’t mock these thirst quenchers – they pack just as much of a punch as their boozier counterparts minus the hangover. We skip the dated Shirley Temple for a sip of sultrier concoctions around KL.
Top 6 durian desserts to try in Penang
Crowned with thorns and exuding a royal stink, the durian occupies the throne as Southeast Asia’s King of Fruits. A sizable number of Malaysia’s durian orchards are located in Penang, which probably explains why Penangites harbour such hardcore love for the oft-misunderstood fruit. While purists turn their nose up at anything that wasn’t pried straight from the husk, the more liberal enthusiasts welcome creative twists to enjoying durian. If you fall into the latter group, this is the checklist for you. These desserts are tried and tested, and are rated according to their pungency.
Inside Hippopo Baby Spa & Wellness
If you’re acutely susceptible to cuteness, you may have noticed the slew of baby spas that recently invaded town. Husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Stefenie Tan and Nick Goo broke ground by launching Hippopo Baby Spa & Wellness, a concept hitherto unknown to Malaysians, in October 2013. Today, Hippopo boasts of seven outlets spread across Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, Penang and Malacca. While parents can easily customise their baby’s spa experience, the typical triad package at Hippopo is comprised of GYM, SWIM and MASSAGE sessions in the said order. Going to the GYM at Hippopo is less of a workout and more of a rendezvous for ‘getting to know you’. ‘The gym session serves to form a bond between the therapist and the baby,’ explains Wooi Siao Hui, manager of Hippopo’s Setia Walk branch. ‘Everyone who works here is a certified physiotherapist,’ says Wooi while expertly stretching her little client’s joints. Next comes the highlight of the baby spa experience: the SWIM session. The gurgling baby is transferred to a Lilliputian hot tub, but not before being changed into waterproof diapers and fitted with a swimming float. Wide-eyed with wonder, he takes in his new environment – a magical water world filled with plastic balls, elephant-shaped sprinklers and coloured lights. It’s all one can do not to melt into a puddle as he squeals with delight and paddles about energetically. It’s apparent that fitness and fun can go hand in hand. ‘The Jacuzzi acts like a resistance. Babies inst
Listings and reviews (21)
Turning three in July 2017, Farquhar Mansion is terrifically popular come tea time. Come on a weekend afternoon and you'll encounter groups of girlfriends tittering over tiered trays stacked with the usual suspects: scones, spreads, sandwiches and sweets. Lunch and dinner dates here are, however, a much more intimate affair. Past the sun-drenched parlour, up a short flight of stairs and into a shadowy private dining room goes your party upon making prior reservations.Helmed by Executive Chef DR Tan and Senior Sous Min Ong, the kitchen pieces together its seasonal menu in accordance with international imports. As luck would have it, our opportune visit coincides with an abundant truffle haul in France (we express silent gratitude for the aptitude of trained hogs), hence a terra-themed menu.Our feast begins with boxed gifts, making it feel like Christmas in March. We unearth the contents of our ‘edible terrarium’ to discover a trio of amuse-bouches: potato ball with seafood and microgreens; dehydrated salmon skin with garlic aioli and black caviar; and cod fish ball with béarnaise and ikura. Impossibly light, each morsel practically dissolves on our palates with nary a trace or memory, aptly teasing our appetites for more. A visual feast served on a hypnotising platter, the Hokkaido Scallop Carpaccio is dressed to the nines with Osetra caviar, edible gold flakes and ikura. Both pretty and pretty potent, the paper-thin slices of shellfish are nearly invisible to the eye, but exu
Metisser Patisserie & Tea Room
A seemingly sterile environment upon first sweeping glance, Métisser Pâtisserie & Tea Room, a gallery decked out in subdued greys and creams, was designed for gustatory gratification – there is minimal diversion from the kaleidoscope of pastries put out by head pastry chef Jeffrey Tan. To behold the pastries behind their protective display cases is a pleasure in itself, akin to regarding fine art at a museum. Thankfully, the edible art is ours to take home or consume in-house for less than a fortune. Like specialized art dealers, well-suited, white-gloved servers are pleased to provide sound advice on today’s offerings. Our first acquisition is the Rose Pine, a love letter to French pastry chef Pierre Hermé. Rose, raspberry and lychee tussle in a luscious ménage à trios, mirroring the French pastry chef’s iconic ‘Ispahan’ flavour combo. We go trigger happy on our Smartphone cameras to preserve what we can of the ephemeral blossom flecked with ‘water droplets’ before watching it wilt beneath our forks. Travelling from plate to palate, the petals disappear one by one, as if subjected to a game of ‘He loves me... he loves me not’. Forget the unexceptional bouquet of roses and gift this rare peony to the appreciative sweet tooth next Valentine’s.It is with equal parts regret and anticipation that we close the chapter on the Rose Pine move on to the Petit Blanc, the prettiest Popsicle we’ve ever laid eyes upon. Our server dishes out instructions to divide the dessert into five to
Kota - when Francis meets rempah
An unlikely site for a contemporary Asian restaurant, centuries-old Fort Cornwallis has, nevertheless, seen an increase in visitors since KOTA found a home among its crumbling ruins. Historical stature aside, the star fort is only worth poking around for 15 minutes tops; KOTA, on the other hand, warrants repeat visits to sample as much as possible on the captivating menu. Best described as ‘new Nyonya’, KOTA’s fare sees Peranakan cuisine presented in sleek new packaging. For a palatable prelude to your meal, order the Jumbo platter (RM38): a smorgasbord of small bites including yam puffs, pai tee (also called Top Hats), jiu hu char (stir-fried jicama), kerabu (pickled mango salad), turmeric chicken and tandoori (yogurt-marinated chicken). None stray far from their traditional representations, save for the pai tee, which comes topped with ebiko for an enticing extra crunch. ‘It’s like sushi, almost!’ exclaims my lunch date when we tackle the Satay next. He uses the word, ‘almost’, because the chicken isn’t skewered, but artfully arranged atop ketupat (rice compressed into cubes). Chicken roulade was, in fact, the inspiration behind the dish, but whether Japanised of Frenchified, the dish carries global appeal. One of the house specials, a dish simply called Nyonya, is as multifaceted as its name is straightforward. A triple ode to Peranakan cooking, the tiered rice dish sees bright blue coconut rice sandwiched between rendang and a bed of otak-otak. Crispy, wispy strands of de
Aptly sandwiched between Puma and Under Armour, Ola Bowls champions wellness and 'a healthier you'. Juices and smoothies aside, the store serves two kinds of smoothie bowls: the dairy-free Signatures are a blend of fresh fruit and come laden with super foods such as açaí, goji berries, bananas, avocados and chia seeds; while the Specials are more indulgent and can be likened to milkshakes served in bowls. The Nutty Crunchy (RM18.90), for instance, sees a bowlful of strawberries, full-cream milk, cranberries, raisins, almonds, Nutella and Koko Krunch. Who said you can’t be both naughty and nice? Few other smoothie bowl specialists also offer delivery via Foodpanda.my.
Meeples European Boardgame Café
Don’t be alarmed by the somewhat rowdy ambience here in the evenings. Chances are you’ll be joining the ranks of shrieking gamers before too long. The enthusiastic team here is all too happy to make suggestions based on the size of your group and your interests, and walk you through the rules of each game. The cafe’s enticing menu is all the more reason to stay longer – finger food such as nachos with dip and potato wedges make for convenient snacking while kids will love the Nutella, vanilla or strawberry milkshakes. Mum and Dad, on the other hand, can indulge in a cold beer or cider... just the one though! Visit their website to view the featured game of the week, which anyone can test out free of charge. You can also purchase board games via their online store. Bonus: Meeples runs weekly promotions like Students Day and Ladies Night.
Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng
With a reputation of monolithic proportions, Bangkok Lane’s Mee Mamak is always in the forefront of discussions about sublime noodles and has been featured on various television food programs. Seng Lee Cafe, a coral pink coffee shop on the intersection of Burma and Bangkok streets, needs no signage, as Mahboob Zakaria’s mamak-style mee is the stuff of legends. Opt for lightly moist (mee goreng) or soaking wet (mee rebus) noodles; either way, they’ll be doused in a sweet-savoury sauce made from mashed sweet potatoes and prawn stock. Fried rojak bits, tofu cubes, bean sprouts and hunks of potatoes are a given, but you can add chewy cuttlefish or a hard-boiled egg. If your craving coincides with bad weather, fear not - simply just drive up to the stall, holler your order and they’ll have it delivered to your car. As featured in Time Out Penang's 50 things to do in Penang.
Times are a-changing, even in George Town, a city besotted with heritage; locals are excusing themselves from a second helping of char koay kak and announcing their 2017 aspirations to #eatclean. Cue Wholey Wonder, a cafe cum yoga studio that set up shop next to Hin Bus Depot on 20 November 2016. It’s a place where we’d love to linger – we’re fans of the warm wooden accents and beautifully tiled bar – but alas, there is limited seating. The swinging seats in front of the bar are fun and allow for speedier service, but aren't comfortable for long and a better idea in theory than in practice. If you don't mind grabbing a quick bite and making way for other herbivores, however, Wholey Wonder is guaranteed to leave a favourable impression. Calling itself a plant-based cafe, Wholey Wonder won’t satisfy any carnivorous cravings, but surprises the palate with well-rounded vegetarian fare. The Naked Burger, for instance, eschews ground meat in favour of quinoa, sundried tomato and chickpea patties and substitutes burger buns with impressively large Portobello mushrooms. Ask about the Wonder Dish of the day; during our visit it was a spiced Briyani Risotto. Desserts here are sweet on the tongue as well as the waistline; think Bliss Balls (low-calorie take on truffles), dairy-free ice cream, raw cheesecakes and gluten-free brownies. On sweltering hot days, liquid relief comes by way of cold-pressed juices, smoothies and dairy-free milkshakes. Once well-fed, get in a good work out at th
Kuan Yin Floating Temple (Hean Boo Thean)
Avoid the crowds visiting Kek Lok Si and Khoo Kongsi and visit the lesser known Hean Boo Thean Temple, which is dedicated to Kuan Yin – the Goddess of Mercy. This ‘floating temple’ located near the famous clan jetties of Weld Quay hovers above water. Erected in 1972, the temple was initially a simple shrine on stilts, but was fortified in 2012 to last against daily high tides. Visit at dusk when the temple’s twinkling lights are reflected in the North Channel.
Seamlessly blending into its surrounds, Malihom stands as a fine example of non-intrusive architecture amidst nature. Organic materials like salvaged wood make up the estate's building blocks while recycled objects such as old railway tracks are turned into supporting beams. Armed with ample experience in their respective careers as a contractor and an architect, the couple who own Malihom spent seven long years building the 40-acre estate for their many daughters and grandchildren. Fortunately for vacationers, this little piece of paradise opened to the public in 2009. Aptly named 'house of fragrant rice' in Thai, Malihom provides its guests with a truly unique experience - how often does one get to reside inside repurposed rice barns? These unique guest chalets, each equipped with a private garden or deck, offer million-dollar views of the island, the bay and Bayan Lepas's burgeoning durian estates.
Shabby chic and unique to say the least, Boutel's three themed rooms represent Malaysia's largest ethnic groups: the Chinese, Malay and Indians. Nicknamed Singpan (Hokkien for 'wedding room'), Batik and Kamasutra, each abode boasts of different merits, but our favourite is the Kamasutra room for its raunchy artwork, swing set, hammock and life-sized birdcage containing a bed. The old building's creaky wooden flooring and morning traffic might tick off light sleepers, but minute imperfections give the space more charm; take the roughly hewn wooden sink, for instance, or the old fan that looks as if it precedes World War II. Bring your own towels. Self check-in is the practice here, so don't expect a warm welcome from the host, although Lainux is efficient and always one text message away.
Tropical Spice Garden
Founded by David and Rebecca Wilkinson in November 2003, Tropical Spice Garden went from being a neglected rubber plantation to one of Teluk Bahang’s most valuable attractions. The eco-friendly project saw judicious landscaping and careful construction in and around existing features such as boulders and trees. A welcome assault on the senses, the green haven buzzes with life and offers plenty to discover. Join daily guided tours led by passionate staff members to get the inside scoop on the garden’s flora and fauna. Alternatively, visitors can go solo by borrowing audio devices from the ticketing counter at no extra charge. An educational and recreational facility rolled into one, Tropical Spice Garden is ‘a people’s garden full of stories’, as described by Katharine Chua, Managing Director of Tropical Spice Garden. ‘We feel it’s our responsibility to share these stories. Plants can’t speak so we’ve become the voice for them’, said Chua. Guests at the garden are particularly fond of the Giant Swing – push off the wooden platform and savour the delicious thrill of seeing your legs dangling high above a vast expanse of greenery. Another popular attraction is the Tropical Spice Gift Shop – a treasure trove of unique gifts from herb-infused bath salts to gourmet spices. But if there’s one attraction worth checking out, it’s the Poison Garden, which officially opened in November 2016. A clear testament to the power of art, the Poison Garden infuses the oft bland subject of botany
Sure, you have to fork out a little extra at this modish bar, but Mish Mash is never want for customers. Bartenders Ben and Simon know their stuff and the cocktails are good – as in good enough to never just have one! One of our favourites, the Moscow Mule, is just the right shade of sweet and spicy. The secret lies in the homemade ginger beer that gives the vodka-based drink that extra kick. Another stellar cocktail is the Bahama Mama, a tropical concoction of three kinds of rum, coffee liquor, pineapple and citrus, topped with dried pineapple for a playful touch. Swing by on Thirsty Thursdays to swig two cocktails for the price of one.
Battle of the animal crackers
Leibniz Zoo by Bahlsen, RM5.99 PackagingThis German brand of biscuits has been around since 1891 and this is proudly emblazoned on the re-sealable plastic packaging. The problem with having biscuits in a plastic bag is that they can get crushed and animals without limbs and heads may not be so popular with the little ones. TasteLight and airy in texture, these animal crackers tasted bland compared to its contenders. Brownie pointsFrom wide-eyed owls to rotund bears and standing squirrels to feathered ducks, Leibniz Zoo cookies feature the widest range of animals, and they have a whole wheat option for the health-conscious too. VerdictA healthier option for kids, but lacking in the taste department. Score+ Meiji Zooland Biscuits, RM4.13 PackagingA sassy cartoon monkey sporting a cowlick grabs your attention while a bilingual (English and Japanese) word match puzzle on the back provides a fun activity for the kids. The bright yellow box with red lettering is quite minimalist compared to the other two brands. TasteIt was impossible to stop at just one. Meiji’s small and crunchy animal crackers left behind a buttery mouthfeel and are reminiscent of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. Brownie pointsThese crackers are also printed with the name of each depicted animal – perfect for squeezing in a lesson during snack time. VerdictDangerously delicious and great for giving your child’s vocabulary a boost. Score+++ Yogood Junior Cereal Biscuits, RM11.30 PackagingThe green p
Battle of the blueberry muffin mixes
Betty Crocker, RM7.41 PackagingThe only baking mix of the three to come in a plastic envelope instead of a box, Betty Crocker’s packaging looks comparatively cheaper and less classy. Then again, it’s half the price of the other two brands. NutritionHome bakers are forewarned: ‘Imitation blueberries, artificially flavoured’. We dread to imagine what manner of cloned fruit has infiltrated the market. Each muffin contains approximately 120 calories. User-friendlinessWe only had to add water to Betty Crocker’s muffin mix and stir it all up before scooping the batter into a lined muffin tray and popping the lot into the oven. Each packet produces six muffins. Taste and textureThe batter failed to rise by much, resulting in flat-top muffins. A single bite drew baffled expressions all around. The imitation blueberries carried an unpleasant tinge of bitterness that’s almost insulting to real blueberries. VerdictDespite being the most internationally recognised brand, Betty Crocker was a huge let down. The artificial flavours were all too perceptible and put us off. Krusteaz, RM16.99 PackagingThe image of two gigantic muffins plus the slogan ‘Supreme Muffin Mix’ gives us high hopes for delicious things to come. NutritionFat-free with a melange of natural and artificial flavours. Each muffin contains 120 calories. User-friendlinessThe provided can of blueberries might prove challenging for a child to open without parental supervision. Simply add water to the batte
Five obstacles to try at the Dragon Run
Making its debut at The Ranch, Genting Highlands on May 14 to 15, the Dragon Run is the world’s first martial arts-inspired race to pitch participants against inflatables. The brain-child of Hong Kong-based event organiser Next Promotions, the Dragon Run spans six kilometres and is open to aspiring warriors aged 12 and above. There are ten obstacles in total to tackle, but these are our five favourites. Giant DragonEnter the dragon – literally. Imagine a bouncy castle, except shaped as a 60m-long dragon. The obstacle, which pays homage to Southern Dragon Kung Fu, requires you to climb up the dragon’s fangs, slide down its throat and bounce through its belly. Once you reach the tail, you’ll know that you’ve escaped. Palm Tree ForestPut your Muay Thai to the test – kick, knee, elbow and punch the palm trees in this phony forest as hard as you can sans fear of bleeding knuckles and joints. A Master of Ceremonies is stationed on site to make sure you perform each move 20 times; only then can you move on to the next obstacle. Kick MazeWhile there isn’t much distance between the entrance and end of this smallish maze, don’t think you can simply breeze through it. At some point, the tricky route requires you to backtrack rather than charge forward. To top it all off, five punching bags are strategically hidden throughout the maze. Find them all and give them a beating using your best taekwondo techniques. Sumo WobbleDon’t be intimidated by their stern scowls – these sumo-shaped
Call for entries: Puteri Harbour’s 'Time Together' Family Photo Contest
Puteri Harbour, Johor’s award-winning marina and luxury lifestyle destination, is inviting families to enter its Time Together Family Photo Contest, which is divided into two parts. For the first part, simply snap and submit a heart-warming family portrait, which could include mum, dad, kids, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents or extended family members in any combination. Entries will be judged based on the most creative poses and completed caption of ‘Time Together means… ’. Open to Malaysians and Singaporeans, the cross-border contest will send the winners – one family per country – on an all-expense paid trip to Puteri Harbour (May 28-30). The second leg takes place during the holiday itself; each family is required to create a travel diary to compete for the grand prize, which includes RM15,000 in cash and RM10,000 worth of AirAsia flight vouchers. Deadline for submissions is May 1 2016. For more info, visit bitly.com/TTPhotoContest.