Buddha's Delight (Chap Chai, 罗汉斋, 什菜)

Monday, 20 September 2010

It was my mother's birthday a few days ago. To commemorate her, I made a big pot of Buddha's delight (罗汉斋) or, if you prefer the less elegant name, chap chai (什菜). It was a dish she always made for our first breakfast of the Chinese New Year.

Five-Spice Beancurd Skin

Thursday, 29 July 2010

'Go for it! It's free!' the HR manager said.

The word 'free' reverberated through my head. If I were a cartoon figure, my eyes would have popped out. The HR manager was giving me the ultimatum for the medical check-up under company expense: use it or lose it, by year-end. So I used it, the first ever medical exam in my life.

I did the check-up towards the end of the year, when I was home for the festive season whilst working overseas. Amidst the endless rounds of eating, drinking and shopping, I managed to find time to see my doctor. The various tests took half a day or so, and I just gritted my teeth and went through all of them. Except the one which involved the doctor wearing gloves. Eww! No, thank you!

Caramel Popcorn

Friday, 9 April 2010


A tub of popcorn costs $6-7.

Richard B. McKenzie, in a book titled Why Popcorn Costs So at the Movies, estimates there's a 1,300% profit margin on movie popcorn in the US.

In Israel, it was recently proposed to outlaw overpriced popcorn (link here). Will the Israeli parliament pass the law and set a precedent? Well, I'm not holding my breath.

Garlic Butter Prawns

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Cold Storage sells ready-made garlic butter made with these ingredients:
... vegetable oil
... butter (13%)
... water
... garlic (9%)
... parsley
... salt
... emulsifiers (492, 471 & B22)
... flavours
... vitamins (A & D3)
... colour (160a)
... antioxidants (306 & 320)

Black Silkie Chicken Soup

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

After totally discrediting my mother's stir fried liver in a previous post, I thought I should salvage her reputation by featuring something else from her repertoire. Something that has curative powers instead of making someone sick or dead.

The immediate dish that came to mind was a soup made with black chicken, aka Silkie chicken or 乌鸡.

OCBC, Delight Me!

Saturday, 9 January 2010



The above message is OCBC's response to my email of 6 January, sent by Ms Daisy Er. Since the assuring message is from the Head of Customer Assurance, I'm sure I'm assured assuringly . . . but . . . I'm not sure what I'm assuringly assured of. Sure? Sure! Why not sure? Well, what's the most important part of the email? That Mr Lee isn't poorer by $1.25? Nope. Of course, I'm very relieved I haven't reduced his monthly budget for groceries by the cost of a small pack of sugar but there's something more important. The CEO read my email? Nope. Although that's very nice because he's a very important man. Can't see the most important part of the short message comprising six sentences? Heheh, it's in the middle: ". . . we have identified opportunities when we can delight our customers in their course of banking with us" (emphasis mine). Bloody hell! I don't know what these opportunities are! Why doesn't OCBC tell me what they are after identifying them? They should be listed on OCBC's web site! Then I wouldn't have to crack my little brain, inferring from a TV commercial that the bank gives surprise birthday cakes.

I love the word 'delight'. It's so suggestive, isn't it? Maybe OCBC should change its slogan to "OCBC deee . . . lights you!' (in a sexy, husky voice). Or their branch employees should greet customers with 'OCBC deee . . . lights you!' (in a sexy, husky voice, with eyes half closed). "Delight' . . . conjures up . . . visions of . . . . This is where I'm unsure despite assurance from the Head of Customer Assurance. A keychain? A pen? Oooh, more surprises! I like! I must give OCBC lots of 'opportunities' to 'deee . . . light' me. I will visit them every week. Good thing they're opened late and opened everyday. I've been OCBC's customer for donkey's years and I've never been 'deee . . . lighted'. My birthday last Sunday doesn't count, ok, because I didn't like the cake. I appreciated it but I didn't like it, if you see the difference. Daisy has conveniently and completely side stepped the issue on how the birthday commercial should be interpreted but who cares! My next birthday is 356 days away. There are other 'opportunities'. OCBC, deee . . . light me!

Related links:
Click here for links to media reports.
http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com/2010/01/ocbcs-birthday-cake.html
http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com/2010/01/ocbc-part-2.html

Check these out:
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
Prawn Tom
Yum Soup
Claypot Fish Head Kou Shui Ji
(口水鸡)
Cold Spinach
with Bonito Flakes
.

Don't Ask OCBC for Cakes!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010



Many thanks to those who wish me a happy birthday. Thanks as well to those who support the previous post. As for those who say kudos to the staff at OCBC, I agree with you. The staff reacted well enough, I think. Two of the ladies seemed quite amused. The third one just seemed disinterested after performing her banking duties. I think the gentleman also saw the funny side of the incident. Our conversation basically revolved around whether there was a sufficient basis for the ad to be reenacted. As I said, if he had insisted I had a super cute daughter with me to get a cake, he would have won.

I don't know if the OCBC gentleman paid for the cake out of his own pocket but I've asked David Conner and Andrew Lee, respectively OCBC's group CEO and Senior EVP of Global Consumer Financial Services, to make sure he's reimbursed.



I'd like to point out that I didn't insist on getting a cake from OCBC, technically, at any point in time. I asked if I could get a cake. I was told no, I couldn't. Which was fine. I then asked why I couldn't get a cake. I was told it was because the commercial was just a commercial. Which was also fine. I then asked why OCBC had a commercial about giving away birthday cakes when it didn't have any birthday cakes to give away. If the staff had given me an acceptable explanation, I'd have walked away. Or if they hadn't given me an acceptable explanation (nor a cake), I would then ask OCBC's senior management for one. But I couldn't complain to the CEO without giving the frontline staff a chance to show whether OCBC really gave their customers birthday cakes, right?

Some people say I got a cake from OCBC's employees, not OCBC, and that I shouldn't have tormented the staff when my target was the corporation. I'm sorry, this argument cuts no ice with me. The incident was during OCBC's business hours, the staff were wearing OCBC's uniforms, serving OCBC's customers on OCBC's banking premises. They were representing OCBC whether they like it or not. It's a tough job working in a banking hall but hey, whose job is easy, eh? Other than the President of Singapore? Sure, the frontline staff aren't responsible for the ad. They don't make as much as David Conner. But they know they're getting paid for being the conduit between customers and the bank, which they're a part of. Should they perform only mechanical tasks because they make only $x per month? Any unexpected incidents not listed in the training manual is none of their business? Come on! If they do that, they're no better than machines. And if they're no better than machines, they should be replaced by machines. And bank tellers have been, to some extent. The next wave of workers to be replaced will be those cashiers who mechanically scan, pack and collect the money. Cold Storage Great World City has a lane for those who prefer to scan, pack and swipe a bank card themselves. Such facilities are already quite common in the US.

I think it's a bit over dramatic to say I 'tormented' or 'maimed' (emotionally, I presume) the staff at OCBC, or spoilt their day or weekend. As for those who use the word 'misery', oh please! Misery is when you have a terminal illness. Misery is when your country's at war. Misery is when there's no rice in the house. Misery is when your dog's run over by a car. Misery is when you're homeless in a -10°C winter. A crazy customer making a crazy request? That's a nice distraction from the tedium of being a bank teller. Or a slight irritant at worst. Nevertheless, if I really caused anyone at OCBC any distress, in any minor or major way, I apologise, unreservedly and sincerely. And I suggest they get out of the service industry. If they can't handle crazy customers, they shouldn't handle customers for a living. Or they would have to face many more crazy ones, and cause themselves much 'misery'.

I've enjoyed reading the comments, even those that are are downright rude. I'm perverse, I know. (Hey! No one's used that word on me yet!) There's a diversity of views, which is not a bad thing. But there's one thing we all agree on: the cake's bloody awful!

Ok, over to you, guys. Fire away.

Related links:
Click here for media reports.
http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com/2010/01/ocbcs-birthday-cake.html
http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com/2010/01/ocbc-delight-me.html

Check these out:
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
Ginger
Milk Custard
(薑汁撞奶)
Gingerbread Men Cream Scones Pear and Snow
Fungus Sweet Soup
(银耳雪梨糖水)
.