Sunday, February 28, 2010


"Everyone knows when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of you and umption."

Samuel L. Jackson as Mitch Henessey,
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Maybe you believe in the purposefulness of life. Maybe you believe that a god has plans for you and that your purpose in life is to divine those plans and fulfill them to the last letter of their ineffability. Or maybe you believe in destiny in the subatomic sense, that you're riding on a deterministic train along a track of sequential events led down from the beginning of the universe that is impossible to derail. Most - if not all - people want some kind of meaning in their lives. They want to know that everything they do is part of The Greater Scheme of Things.

"What is the meaning of your life?" he asked me. "You do not believe in God's plan, or that you're part of it. You do not believe in an afterlife. You came from nowhere, going nowhere."

I took a moment to ponder on his words.

"I think there's no meaning to a life that is not spent worshiping God - God who created everything and everything," he continued, while I was considering my response.

And I had to consider the question at length because I simply did not know where to begin. There were so many openings that I was simply spoilt for choice. I decided on simplicity.

"Uh, who said that life must have a meaning? And how do you know that there is a god? How do you know if god actually created everything? How do you know it's your particular god who did the creating?"

You tell me. Why do we take for granted that age-old decree that every life must inherently be meaningful? I too, like the rest of you, tried looking for the meaning and purpose of life once, but then I realised that what we've been wrestling with all this time is a fucking Zen koan. Asking yourself about life's meaning is about as useful as asking what the colour blue tastes like. There's absolutely no reason why anyone should assume that life has some kind of secret meaning we have to unravel.

I mean, we haven't even found out if life actually have a meaning and we're already asking what it is. It's reminds me how some people kept insisting that since there is a creation, there must be a creator - when it's not even clear if "creation" was even created in the first place.

"Did you think that the universe just poofed into existence on its own?" he asked. Or rather, he didn't. He was being rhetorical.

"Did you think that your god just poofed into existence on his own?" I said.

It's the same thing as the meaning of life question; a premise built on a cushion of soft, squishy assumption. Why do people automatically assume that since stuff exists, some omnipotent spook put it all here? Who created god anyway? And I've heard the so-called exception to the law of causality a million times, that god is the "uncaused cause", that god just is and has no need to be created. Why don't people just assume the universe itself is the uncaused cause? Save one huuuge step right there.

And whoever said that the universe must even have a beginning in the first place? Maybe, the universe undergoes a series of Big Bangs and Big Crunches cyclically. Maybe, as the universe expands till the distance between every particle in it approaches infinity (thus, rendering the universe into "nothingness" once more), another Big Bang will go off in it causing yet another new universe. Rinse, repeat. The point is, we don't know. But "godidit" certainly isn't the only - or even the best - answer. Assumptions, assumptions.

"Without God, how do you know what is good or bad? Moral or immoral?" he said. "God is our yardstick for morality. Without an objective standard, morality would be relative. People can make up whatever rules they want then."

I could go into the messy mire that is the Euthyphro dilemma (is something good because god commands it, or does god command what is good?) or point out that his god isn't particularly moral or objective either, but I didn't.

"Who said that morality must be objective?" I fell back on my good old sonic screwdriver of an argument. "Objective moral is only useful if there's a heaven and hell, or a karmic system of reincarnation. Why are you assuming heaven and hell, or karma exists? Why are you assuming that a god would care about our morality? Why are you assuming that god would be a yardstick for morality? Why are you assuming that a god even exists?"

People tend to ASSUME (there's that word again) that morality is an objective set of laws of the universe much like how the laws of physics is. Like everything else I've mentioned till now, there is no reason why it should be. While I can't say for sure that morality is definitely not objective, everything in life so far have taught me that morality is and has always been contextual. Killing is wrong. Killing in self-defense is a-okay. It's all relative. Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

"Your god is a Sith Lord," I said.


"Disregard that," I coughed.

Dear reader, have you build your entire worldview upon the soft, buttery foundation of assumptions, stacked perhaps, on even more assumptions? Do you believe in things unquestioningly without any good reason to? Search your soul today. Try and see how shaky all the "truths" in your life really is. I'm not asking you to buy into my opinions wholesale. And I'm certainly not the one telling you to believe that a stack of scribbles written by Bronze Age shepherds are the literal Word of God.

I'm merely asking you to Question Everything. Anything worth believing in should be able to stand up to scrutiny.

Now, I won't reproduce that conversation I had in its entirety here, but I can tell you how it ended - and it with the same last words I use to end every dialogue of such nature;

"Even if your god should appear to me in all his glory, banishing all doubts I can possibly have of his existence, I'd reject him even more vehemently than I am now. I have read the official handbook on him and if everything in it is true, then he is a cruel, bigoted, inconsistent, racist, misogynistic, megalomaniacal, genocidal, schizophrenic tyrant who sucker-punched humanity in the crotch yet still demands that we love him or he'll torture us for eternity. He deserves to be rebelled against because no truly righteous person can be expected submit to such a terrible being. Because, it's the right thing to do."

That usually kills any interest in saving my soul in a heartbeat.

P.S. The above conversation really took place, just not in the exact same words.

P.P.S. I do not believe in pussyfooting around the subject. Any idea - especially religious ideas - should be open to dispute. No one's ideas should ever be sacrosanct or protected from criticism merely because they are religious. The Spanish Inquisition was a religious idea. Hitler's Endlösung der Judenfrage and notions of a divinely-favoured master race (and an Aryan Jesus) were also religious ideas.

Exercising his free will,
k0k s3n w4i

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Head is Full of Fluff and Lint

"If an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, 'Well, this isn't too bad. I don't have my left arm anymore, but at least, nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,' but most of us would say something more along the lines of 'Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!'"

Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket

I discovered this morning at about 10:30 am that I have dropped my wallet yesterday night on the middle of the street outside my house and it had somehow stayed there unmolested all night long. My credit card was still in it, along with my cash. However, it seemed to have gotten run over several times though by my neighbours' cars heading out for the day. Oh, and it's wet. There was a spot of heavy rain at about 4:00 am - the only shower we've gotten hereabouts this entire week (I'd know because I'm habitually awake all night long).

Just a few months ago, I somehow managed to leave the same wallet in a food court after breakfast, an event which I only discovered 4 hours later. I went back, of course, but no one working in the food court found anything. Naturally, I made a police report about a week later just so I can apply for a new I.C. but believe it or not, I received a phone call right after I have made said report that my wallet and everything in it have materialised at the Sin Chew Jit Poh press office. Apparently, some Datuk's son found it.

Oh yeah, while I was trying to dry out my wallet just now, I discovered that my driving license have expired. A year ago. In fact, it expired on the 1st of March last year; just a few days shy of a full orbit. Imagine that. This beggars belief, even for me. I am so scatterbrained that I left myself completely flabbergasted at my own ineptitude.

And they expect me to function in society? Gah.

Head in perpetual fog,
k0k s3n w4i

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Sakura House of Taman Desa Duyong

"Eating sushi has become the new Russian roulette."

Eli Saddler

Yesterday, I rounded up enough colleagues to fill a car and struck out into the Great Malaccan Wilderness of Bad Japanese Restaurants, and I do declare that we have found their king.

Welcome to the Sakura House in Taman Desa Duyung,

Sakura House
Yeap, it's literally a house.

Now, I've found a pretty decent number of blogs which agreed that this place is certainly one of the best places to get Japanese cuisine in Melaka, and considering my previous experiences with a certain other house-type Japanese restaurant, you couldn't blame me for being as optimistic as I was. I've been hunting for a decent place in my little ol' town for ages, let me tell you, because driving up to KL every time I feel a craving for sushi simply isn't going to work out very well for me in the long run.

What I learn from Sakura House is that bloggers, by and large, have shitty tastes. And I've decided that this place needs a counter-review to all the positive sparkly rainbow lip service that this place has been unduly receiving - y'know, to prevent future foodies from coming here pregnant with unrealistic expectations.

The decor theme is "jaundice".

Now, I always give credit where it's due. Dining here was indeed something different. Every room in this place was stripped down and outfitted with dark, vaguely Japanese stools and tables. The way the house was sectioned also granted some degree of privacy for every party of guests but mind you, voices travel well through the rather small house - so try to refrain from saying anything bad about the place till you're safely outside. Also, their menu is pretty helpful for people unfamiliar with Japanese food (which I assume makes up the majority of their patrons) as colour photographs of every item were displayed on it.

Green tea is both free and free flowing, but it's of the cheap, Chinese, supermarket variety. I suppose the best possible thing I can say for this place is that you are unlikely to find another Japanese restaurant that charges quite as cheaply as Sakura House. The majority of their menu items fall far beneath the RM 10.00 mark, with the absolutely priciest dishes topping off at RM 15.00.

The question is, is the fare here worth even the low, low prices they charge? The long answer is: if you're really strapped for cash and wanted to eat something that's just barely reminiscent of how Japanese food tastes like, this is most certainly the place for you. The short answer is "no, just no."

I ordered two items from their à la carte menu; chuka kurage or seasoned jellyfish, and a pair of tobiko gunkanmaki (listed simply as "topiko" in their menu). The jellyfish was chewy, a sensation very alien from the usual fresh crunch I've come to expect from the dish. For an appetiser, it's quite a turn off.

Chuka Kurage
Chuka kurage, RM 3.00. I did not photograph the tobiko gunkanmaki.

The tobiko (flying fish roe) sushi was, at best, subpar and forgettable. I blame it on the rice they use, which isn't the sticky, fluffy short-grain Japanese rice I know and love. I downed the second piece with a lot of wasabi.

Salmon Sushi
Sake nigirizushi, RM 3.00.

Yew Kong ordered a pair of salmon sushi. He thought that they were not as fresh as he thought they should be.

Agedashi dofu, RM 4.00.

Yin Yee ordered their agedashi dofu (or simply, deep fried tofu) which I thought wasn't too shabby but it's not something I particularly go for when I go out for Japanese food. I fancy that she meant to order a simple inarizushi instead, but I might be wrong. I'd definitely go for an inarizushi over this myself. That's the one with a sweet beancurd skin pocket, in case you're wondering.

Sakura House's okonomiyaki, RM 5.00. Partly eaten.

Their okonomiyaki (a Japanese-style savoury pancake) is a decent enough snack dish if you don't have much in the way of taste buds. Yin Yee reckoned that the okonomiyaki at the Friends Cafe in Melaka Raya is better but it's been practically aeons since I've had one there so it's not fair for me to make that same comparison.

The absolutely biggest moan I have about Sakura House is their bento lunch set, particularly their kabayaki (grilled freshwater eel; unagi) one, which I ordered,

Unagi Bento
Kabayaki bento, RM 9.00.

I can only imagine what sort of costs they had to cut to price it that low. It contained a sickening amount of what was definitely NOT Japanese short-grain rice, an iceberg lettuce salad side, and some limp gari and wakame tsukemono (ginger root and lobe leaf seaweed pickled in sweet vinegar respectively). And like any self-respecting human being, I prefer my unagi with a proper crisp exterior and a tender, savoury-sweet center - quite unlike the squishy strips I got here at Sakura House. Then again, a pair of unagi nigirizushi will set you back nearly ten bucks at Sushi King while the same will only cost you RM 3.00 in Sakura House, with no additional government of service charges to boot. They taste about the same too, in my opinion.

Possibly the least disappointing things we ordered there were their homemade black sesame and green tea ice-creams,

Black Sesame Ice Cream
Kurogoma (black sesame) aisu kurimu, RM 1.50

The one I had was the black sesame one, so I shall comment on that. I think the taste itself is pretty good. The bitter black sesame fragrance wasn't too overpowering and the wispy sweetness proved to be a good counterpoint to it. Unfortunately, they have fallen into one of the most common pitfalls of making ice-cream at home; the texture was seven kinds of fucked up. Too much ice. Too little cream. The moment I dug my spoon into it, I can feel (and hear!) ice crystals crunching beneath the pressure. C'mon now! Don't scrimp on the ingredients! I'd pay twice what I paid for something a little smoother and richer.

Yin Yee thought the green tea one was tasteless.

Green Tea Ice Cream
Matcha (finely-powdered green tea) aisu kurimu, RM 1.50.

I guess the worst sin this place commits is that their stuff is actually worse than Sushi King. It's been years since I've stepped into a Sushi King outlet because I felt that they grossly overcharge for their mostly crappy and generic assembly line Japanese food. Sakura House's standards lie somewhere around the level of food court imitation Japanese food stalls (and these stalls usually have the decency to use Japanese rice, at least). And no, I'm not exaggerating at all. Right after eating there, we all simultaneously felt like going to someplace else and have a do-over lunch! True story. I honestly have never reacted that way to any eating place before.

It's probably because our expectations were simply raised far too high by all the good things we've been hearing about it on and off the web. If this review can offer a much more realistic perspective for other food-hunters looking for a bite of Nippon in Melaka, I'd feel I've accomplished what I set out to do here.

The bottom line is this: Sakura House is very affordable, true, but their food is barely worth what you pay for. It's kinda like Sushi King scaled down in terms of both taste and price. Grossly overrated, if you ask me.

For those who are interested, you can find Suckura Sakura House at,

24, Lorong 8,
Taman Desa Duyong,
75460 Melaka,

Basically, if you're coming from the old JUSCO Melaka, just drive towards the Pantai Hospital Ayer Keroh crossroads. There, turn right. Drive past JPJ Melaka on your left and till you see a BHPetrol Station on your right. Turn right at that traffic light junction into Jalan Bukit Katil. Drive down till you reach another traffic light. Here you turn left into Jalan Duyong. Next, make another left when you hit yet another traffic light. Then, turn right immediately after the row of shophouses on your right ended. Sakura House is near the end of that lane on your right.

Their coordinates, according to Google Earth, are 2°12'22.89"N, 102°18'16.07"E.

Many bloggers would advice you to call ahead to reserve a table before going to spare yourself the disappointment of not having a table when you get there (not true, because you'd still be disappointed even if you manage to get a table), but I felt a bit stupid when I arrive to find that I have reserved a table in a totally empty restaurant. Still, in their defence, it was a Monday afternoon after all. Their numbers are +606-268 1271 and +6019-687 1468. Ask for Mr John Chong.

They open from 12:30 to 2:30 pm for lunch and 6:30 to 10:30 pm for dinner.

P.S. Does anyone have any decent Japanese restaurant to recommend in Malacca aside from Wa Zen in Melaka Raya and Kokiya beside the Plaza Jaymuda?

A disappointed lover of Japanese food,
k0k s3n w4i

Monday, February 08, 2010

Shake Them Coconuts

"My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard
And they're like, it's better than yours
Damn right, it's better than yours"

Milkshake (2003) by Kelis

Lately, I've been doing a spot of research on food places I have never visited in Malacca and I've turned up several promising leads. One of them is this; the coconut shake on Jalan Klebang Besar. It's a pretty long drive from where I live - but what d'ya know, it's well worth ride.

It's one of those things that you'd wish you've thought of first, and wondered why you didn't. Picture this: Fresh coconut meat and coconut water, ice and a scoop of vanilla ice cream; all mushed up in a blender, pour and serve. Considering the killer heat waves we've been getting in ye olde Historical City in recent years, I swear I can sip that shit all day long.

Coconut Shake
This is how that shit looks like.

And I'd do that too if the stall which peddles it isn't so far out in the boondocks of coastal Klebang.

Still, in spite of its location, I was surprised to find the place packed with customers and many illegally parked cars. Coming from Melaka, just drive along Heeren Street (Jonker's less commercialised sister street) till you reach Klebang. You should see it on your right, right before a Caltex petrol station. Eventually. My most conservative guesstimate puts the whole ride at 5 kilometres minimum. For folks with them newfangled GPS thingies, the coordinates given by Google Earth pins the stall at 2°12'54.93"N, 102°12'22.32"E.

The stall opens 12:30 to 6:30 pm daily 'cept Fridays (they start at 2:00 pm on those days). They take holidays whenever they feel like it. Because they can.

Now, be warned that that long straight road between Heeren and Klebang has been recently broken up by a weird ass intersection in Tengkera. However, if you are coming from that bridge over the mouth of Malacca River near the Holiday Inn, you'll do okay just flying straight.

The stall looks like this,

Coconut Shake Stall
The brand of ice-cream they use in their special recipe is a closely guarded secret.

Of course, coconut shakes aren't the only stuff they sell.

They also pushes coconut shake floats! It's like coconut shakes, but with ice-cream! ON TOP!

Coconut Shake with Ice Cream
It's like they sat around and brainstormed, "How can we make this drink even more awesome!"

For the plain shake, they charge only RM1.50 per glass (or RM1.80 if you want one to go). The ice-cream topped "special" goes for RM2.00 (RM2.20) per pop. Damn cheap right? You can't even get a can of Coke or a glass of fruit juice from most places these days for a buck fifty. If coconut shakes don't rock your boat, they have standard issue coconut water and sugarcane juice too, along with nasi lemak, mee and assorted kuihs. I didn't try any of these so I can't offer you any opinions on them (but I must say that coconut shake plus nasi lemak sounds like a winner).

The drink itself is pretty darn delicious, wholesome and refreshing - and I absolutely love the tiny bits of crunchy coconut flesh in it. For someone who detests the (lack of) taste of coconut water, I'm surprised at how much I like the shake. This place is definitely worth a look into if you have time to kill and a whole lot of heat to beat.

Shit, I sounded just like a marketing exec right there.

Sold on the concept,
k0k s3n w4i