Lost Treasure of George Town, Penang

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Memoir of My Mooncake

Growing up in Penang Street

Mooncake Festival in Penang Street

We all love mooncakes. Who won’t if you know you are eating between RM15 to RM40 per piece into your stomach? Yes, mooncakes are exclusively and exotically expensive. That’s because the ingredients are premium and mooncake making is tedious and time-consuming. But not many people know what happened behind the scene.

Welcome to Poon Heong Restaurant in Penang Street, George Town, Penang in the late 70s. As a little 7-year old boy, I used to frequent this restaurant which was located just opposite the house I lived.

The days leading to Mid-Autumn or Mooncake Festival in that restaurant was quite a happening scene. The restaurant would open up the mooncake-making kitchen next door which only opened once a year just for this purpose! 

Little kids like myself would pry into the kitchen and if we were lucky, the staff would give us the “broken” mooncakes fresh from the oven to eat.

But that’s nothing funny compared to what went into the making of mooncakes. The plucking of lotus seeds were all done by hand manually and not machine back then. So the restaurant would pay the aunties in the neighbourhood to help pluck and separate the seeds. They were paid according to the weight of the bags carrying the lotus seeds.

These aunties would normally take the bags home to do the job. I enjoyed plucking it as I found it to be fun. Now here’s the funny part, many aunties would add some water into the bags of the lotus seeds so that it became heavier! The heavier it got, the more payment given by the restaurant owner! 

You could call this dishonest but that’s how things were back then. Funny, sly, the typical Chinamen mentality of the past. I remember these aunties won’t dare to go back to the restaurant with the bags by themselves for fear of being found out on what they did.

So little kids were sent by their mums or these aunties to return the bags of plucked lotus seeds. The owner would not suspect the bags had extra weight – water in it!!! Simply because kids were considered “innocent” and “naive”.

Thinking about this really made me laugh now. I just want to share this story with you. Poon Heong Restaurant had closed down for few decades. But the colourful memory of mooncakes there would linger forever in my mind. Happy Mooncake Festival.

Francis Yip

Buddha jumps over the wall

Ying Jia Seafood Restaurant

"Ying Jia"licious Chinese dishes!

Before I became a vegan, I was invited to sample some sumptuous dishes at Ying Jia Seafood Restaurant. And obviously, my favourite is the exotic Buddha Jumps Over The Wall soup. 

Many believe if you didn’t taste this soup, your culinary adventure of Chinese foods will not be complete. 

So why is it called “Buddha Jumps Over The Wall”? This dish from the Fujian Province, China got its name in a bizarre yet exciting way. A scholar had  preserved his food in the clay jar and when he was hungry, he took the food out and heated it. The strong sweet aroma of the food attracted a meditating monk near a temple. He just couldn’t resist to try it and even went on the extreme and climbed the wall to get a bite of it! When asked why? The monk exclaimed, “Even Buddha will go for this dish!” And that’s how the dish got its name.

However, the dish is not easy to cook. It takes at least 3 days to prepare and each ingredient needs to be under the steam for 8 hours. The dish was so popular in the Qing Dynasty and was even served to the Emperor. 

So you can guess how exotic and sumptuous this dish is.  Not cheap, of course. In some places, it can cost a whopping RM2,888 or even more. 

But no worries, Ying Jia serves this dish with an average cost that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Let us not worry about the price. If you take a look at the ingredients that make up the dish, you will know why it is pricey. Abalone, fish maw, mushroom, scallop, chicken, sea cucumber and more. To enhance the taste, it needs slow cooking and the longer it is, the better it will taste.

What I love about this dish served in Ying Jia is the attention to detail in its cooking. Master Chef Tan Ten Chin, aged 67 spent almost his entire life cooking Chinese dishes and had even served in Indonesia and Hong Kong. 

I was spoilt for choice when I looked at the menu. Over 80 dishes served in Ying Jia and its signature dishes are Curry Fish Head, Braised Fish Head, German Pork Knuckle. Sweet and Sour Pork and Dim Sum.

And of course, Buddha Jumps Over The Wall!

As Chinese New Year 2021 is coming, why not have your family reunion at Ying Jia Seafood Restaurant.

It’s OX-cellent time there. And don’t let the pandemic spoil your New Year mood. Tradition must be preserved. The only difference is go Ying Jia-licious this year!

Francis Yip

Concubine Lane, Ipoh

Walk down memory lane

Looking for a Concubine?

A trip to Concubine Lane, Ipoh may conjure images of cheongsam-clad ladies fanning themselves or soliciting for customers. But you’re wrong. No concubines. But a hive of activities, especially shopping, trading, gastronomic adventure and many more at the pre-colonial shophouses, café and restaurants in the lane.

Probably one of the most happening streets, Concubine Lane is a must-visit tourist attraction if you are in Ipoh city. Walking along this lane reminds me of my childhood days growing up in George Town, Penang. Whether it is the intricate architecture of pre-colonial shophouses, cafés with classic chairs and teakwood tables, or the bric-a-brac and game stalls, everything about Concubine Lane is a nostalgic time warp.

I was amazed to find those triangle-shaped biscuits that used to have paper numbers inside it are still available. Not to mention the “Tikam-tikam” game which I loved to play when I was just 6. Millennials may not know what is “Tikam-tikam” but it’s a game of chance which costed 5 to 10 cents per try. If you’re lucky, you will win a prize which maybe an ultraman toy or even coupon to buy stuff in the convenient stores.

There’s also Kuma Rainbow Cheese Toast which was exorbitantly priced due to the blend of many flavours. But what truly caught my attention is the pink coloured cotton candy. Unlike in the good old days which was round, the cotton candy was spun to be in a flower shape!

So how did the name “Concubine Lane” come about? If you google, you will find it started with a mining tycoon, Yao Tet Shin helping out in the redevelopment of the town after the lane was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1892. As a gift to his 3 wives, he gave each the right to collect house rental in the street. And it was common during those days for rich Chinese tycoons to have concubines.

Anyway, forget about this history lesson. “Expelliarmus!” If you’re familiar with this magical spell, you’ll know it’s Harry Potter. That’s right, let’s move to my most favourite place, Platf9rm Coffee & Brew Café. Here the whole setting was designed to look like another Hogwarts with photos, figurines, images of witches and wizards. I took a sip of the classic Hogwart Latte and couldn’t stop myself from taking countless selfies.

Thank you to my dearest varsity mate, Lim Chee Keen and daughter for taking me to this awesome café and above all, the discovery of this Concubine Lane.

I lost myself but found myself again, reminiscing of my childhood years. With so much to see, do and enjoy in Ipoh, it’s not surprising the city was named one of the Top 10 “Best in Asia” destinations by Lonely Planet in 2016. For once, I forgot about the Covid-19 pandemic and had a “fun”tastic time in Concubine Lane.

Francis Yip

LaVile du Chocolat

Love at First Bite

LaVile du Chocolat: Love at first bite

The saying goes, “Chocolate is happiness you can eat.” True, when we want to say sorry or send love to someone, just do it with chocolate. Rest assured, everything is fine. If love is good, chocolate is great.

The great news is now you don’t have to fly over to Belgian Chocolate Village or dream of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. Just head over LaVile du Chocolat in AEON Taman Maluri Shopping Centre.

You’ll find yourself pampering with the best of Food and Art. Chocolate in your mouth while feasting your eyes on the amazing Doodle Art Masterpieces of Sarah Salim, an accomplished artist with over 9 years of doodle art experience.

As a chocolate fan, I don’t buy chocolates by hearsay. I rather sample it myself. Some said you can check out if the chocolate is good or bad by the smell, taste, crispiness, ingredients and brand.

Well, LaVile du Chocolat is handcrafted artisan chocolate with Belgian and French premium ingredients. It comes in both non-alcohol and alcohol range. The non-alcohol range are 70% Bitter Sweet Chocolate, Mint Dark Chocolate, and Hazelnut Milk Chocolate while the alcohol range are Macallan Whisky Dark Chocolate, Hennessy VSOP Dark Chocolate and Roku Gin Dark Chocolate. Two new flavours – the Green Tea White Chocolate and Yam White Chocolate were added to the non-alcohol range.

I took a bite on the Hennessy VSOP Dark Chocolate and my, oh, my. The bite is a ”healthy snap”! You’ll know at once it’s really great. The Hennessy melted on my tongue and the whole experience was simply heavenly. Although I am not an alcohol drinker, the blend of chocolate and alcohol gave me some kind of intoxicating spell in my brain. I love it. My verdict: Perfect 10.

And my favourite is the latest addition – The Green Tea White Chocolate. It is soft, smooth, tender and the whole texture reminds me of my first sip of Japanese green tea. Rich in matcha green tea and when blended with chocolate, I call it, “matchoc-vellous!” . My verdict: Love it, love it, love it! All the other flavours are equally “c’est magnifique”!

Thank you to Eleen Ooi, General Manager of Business Development, Orando Holdings Sdn Bhd for the kind invitation for me to enjoy the guilty pleasure of life in LaVile du Chocolate.

The Grand Opening of LaVile du Chocolat was officiated by Dato’ Dr Eng Wei Chun, Managing Director of Orando Holdings, and Sarah Salim, the celebrity artist.

“The display of Sarah’s Doodle Art Masterpieces is part of our Corporate Social Responsibility efforts to support local artists. Proceed of the sale will go into Sarah’s choice of welfare organisations,” said Eleen Ooi.

I love the “owl” masterpiece and couldn’t help admiring such fine work-of-art. Sarah Salim was formerly an art student before she joined The Star in the Business Desk. Her artistry caught the attention of the editorial team and now Sarah has her own column “Doodleism” in The Star daily.

For those who love Chocolate and Art, do drop by LaVile du Chocolat in The Ground Floor of AEON Taman Maluri Shopping Centre. You can also buy the chocolates online via Shopee etc.

Francis Yip

Super Model Universe 2020 Pix 3

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020: Absolutely Fabulous!

“When you become the image of your own imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you could ever do.” – RuPaul

That’s right! That’s what all the finalists of Super Model Universe 2020 did at Royale Chulan, Damansara Hotel, Petaling Jaya recently.

They created their own image, transforming themselves with grace, poise, charisma and charm. You might even mistaken they were all Tyra Banks.

The Super Model event saw 11 adult males, 11 females and 9 kids/teens model finalists competing for the coveted titles. Contestants came from as far as Syria, Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan and more.  

Thank you to Ammetta Malhotra, Super Model Universe Malaysia’s license holder and national director, for inviting me to this glamorous event.

And obviously, I dressed up to the nines like a super model too, except I look more like a RuPaul Drag Race contestant.

Yes, I dolled up myself with a Silver Matrix look and evil eye lashes. Thanks to Farel Mikhail and Jonathan Kok for the amazing fashion for me that night. I feel so glam too!

The night opened with an energetic “Girls just want to have fun” dance and the rest of the night, I was blown away by the talented contestants who were dressed in various fashion, from trendy, sports looks, beach wear to traditional Indian fashion and evening wear. 

It was obvious from the start who were the winners. Congratulations to all of you…


Winner – Hafsa Munir

Runner Up – Tara Sakeena Allen

2nd Runner Up – Jennylyn Nicole Factor

3rd Runner Up – Kiki Tan Jin Yee

4th Runner Up – Zeina Dibo


Winner – Mohamad Saddam Bin Roslan

Runner Up – Magesswaren Muniandy

2nd Runner Up – Muhammad Aizat Bin Khairuddin

3rd Runner Up – Forest Chan Win Sern

4th Runner Up – P. Rishigesann Pillay

Super Model Universe International 2020 – Gina Rochelle

Super Model Universe Borneo 2020 – Zusther Anak Jemat

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 People Choice Champion (Female) – Deevakanni Bhalan

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 People Choice Champion (Male) – Muhammad Joshua Jiau

Super Model Universe Malaysia international 2020 People’s Choice Champion (Male) – Muhammad Fahad

Super Model Universe Malaysia International 2020 People’s Choice Champion (Female) – Nicole Angel S. Butawan

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Catwalk (Male) – P. Rishigesann Pillay

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Catwalk (Female) – Qaseh Seri

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Physique (Male) – Muhammad Fahad & Forest Chan Win Sern

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Body (Male) – Magesswaren Muniandy

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Figure (Female) – Vigneswari Uttaraja Poobithy

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Print Model Champion (Male) – Hadi Karkout

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Print Model Champion(Female) – Jennylyn Nicole Factor

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 Mr Congeniality (Male) – Firhan Firqan

Super Model Universe Malaysia 2020 Most Friendly (Male) – Md. Biplob Hossain Khan


SuperModel Universe Malaysia 2020 Kid Champion (Male) – Reymi Tham Ka Hoong

SuperModel Universe Malaysia 2020 Teen Champion – Adibah Azmi

SuperModel Universe Malaysia 2020 People’s Choice Kid Model Champion – Aliyha Ysabelle S. Khan

SuperModel Universe Malaysia 2020 Most Promising Kid Model – Leiya Lim

SuperModel Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Print Kid Model – Nur Arissa Khyra Bt Khairuddin

SuperModel Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Smile Kid Model – Nur Rania Ervina Bt Khairuddin

SuperModel Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Catwalk Kid Model – Nur Ilyasha Qistina Binti Azmi

SuperModel Universe Malaysia 2020 Best Hair Teen Model – Muhammad Harith Damien bin Khairuddin

Francis Yip

Wake up to SuperLife Golden Coffee

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a cuppa SuperLife Golden Coffee will awaken your senses all day. 

Thank you to SuperLife for inviting me to enjoy life’s intimate pleasure with nature’s treasure – coffee. That’s right, at the SuperLife Golden Coffee Launch, I experienced the positive vibes and energy trailing in the tranquil setting of the posh Jade Hills Resort Club, Kajang.

Everyone was highly excited about the new coffee of SuperLife and inspired by the gravity-defying speech from the CEO, Mr Lai Tek Kean who also happens to be my UKM course mate.

Seeing him standing on the stage and getting everyone’s up on their feet to talk about SuperLife reminds me of the good old days of our UKM days. So much has changed in him – for the better, of course.

SuperLife which he founded 3 years ago, is now one of the top MLM company, with over 500,000 members worldwide and a commission payout of USD98 million to members in over 40 countries. Such meteoric success in just 3 years!

As I watched the launching of SuperLife Golden Coffee, my sixth sense tell me there will be definitely bigger things to come for SuperLife.

Like my father, I am a fussy pot coffee connoisseur who is very particular about the kind of coffee I am drinking. Alas, after drinking SuperLife Golden Coffee, I must admit I love the aromatic smooth full-bodied flavour of the coffee. Sugar is moderate and above all, the coffee is specially formulated from Malaysia’s very own Tiger Milk Mushroom. 

The mushroom has proven to give many health benefits such as anti-cancer, anti-aging, liver health and good for the heart. But don’t be mistaken, the coffee doesn’t smell or taste “mushroomy”. Some consumers may hate mushrooms. But no worries, SuperLife Golden Coffee tastes as timeless as your grandpa’s favourite coffee.

After having a cuppa coffee, I’m ready to start my day afresh. Not going to Starbucks or Coffee Beans today. No other coffee but SuperLife Golden Coffee, please….

Francis Yip

Paradise of Riau

Bintan Islands, Indonesia

Bintan Islands, Indonesia

Picture this: Sun, sea, surf and rustic charm. Keris (Malay dagger) making, wooden huts, traditional games and many more in Bintan Islands, Indonesia. Call it the Paradise of Riau archipelago, this largest island gem has left a lasting memory on me with its pristine beaches.

And of course, staying in the “Red-Indian-tent” styled in AMMON Resort Bintan was a total respite from the hustle and bustle of city life where I came from. Adventure-filled with a party pool and a large outdoor cinema screen. Exotic desert-inspired cocktail bar with a fusion of Mediterranean cuisines.

My tour also took me to Safari Lagoi Bintan where I learnt to make friends with wildlife and nature, from elephants to orang utan. If Titanic is your favourite movie, imagine living the experience at the century-old Doulous Phos The Ship Hotel. So many things to do, so little time.

My last stop was Vihara Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva known as the 500 Lohan Temple. I was awe-struck by the 500 life-sized Lohan stone images and seeing them transported me to the famous Monkey God’s Journey of the West. Bintan Islands. You’re my Paradise of Indonesia, not just Riau.

Francis Yip

Kita movie 2

Vivo presents "Kita" Short Film shot on X50 Pro.

The Malay word “Kita” which means “We” is often used in our daily conversation. But to make it as a movie title, it is rare and conjures images of unity, togetherness and perhaps, a sense of patriotism. 

In conjunction with Malaysia Independence Day, Vivo launches “Kita” short film at GSC Cinema in One Utama today. The movie was shot by Vivo X50 Pro.

I was invited by Vivo to come and catch this movie first hand. The whole event was conducted according to SOP, like wearing mask and social distancing.

So sitting in the cinema for a few minutes is not as scary as I thought. Thanks to Vivo for a well conducted and strict practice of SOP.

Well,  I must admit that I did enjoy this movie which was directed by Malaysian renowned director, Ho YuHang.

The story is simple and heartwarming. It revolves a few school boys and a girl. But don’t expect the typical “boy meets girl, girl meets boy and fall in love” story. 

The movie is about a talented boy, Foo Kok Keong (not our former famous badminton player) whose drawing skills impressed a Malay girl. Will they fall in love? Well, I leave it to your imagination. Better still, you go check it out online.

But one thing is certain, “Kita” was surprisingly shot so professionally on a Vivo X50 Pro”. Every detail was captured immaculately and as good as those sophisticated movie shooting camera.

What’s more, the movie title song was performed by Shila Amzah whose mellifluous voice captured the raw emotions of the cast. 

Well done Vivo and thank you for the invitation!

Francis Yip

Fish Tale of Delights at Fei Fei Fish

Confucius once said, “A life without food and friends together is incomplete.” And what better way to share stories and catch up with one another over a table of delicious Fei Fei Fish specialities.

Yes, thank you to the World Influencers Network for inviting me to sample some of the finest “Fish” delights I have ever tasted at Fei Fei Fish Restaurant in Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya.  With 10 sumptuous dishes like Nyonya Assam Steamed Fish, Oatmeal Stir-Fried Tiger Prawns, Fried Black Oyster with Black Pepper and Village Chicken Fillet, you may wonder how it feels to drown yourself into an ocean deep of delights.

Well, for the fussiest food connoisseur especially Penangite like myself, I will give more than just a thumbs up but also fingers licking good rating to Fei Fei Fish Restaurant. They always said fish is the best nutritional meat and I can’t agree more than this.

Catching up with my beauty queen friends adds to the sweet flavours of the invitation. At the end of the night, I have just added another inch to my waistline. Well, I don’t mind it because spending time with friends whom I miss so much and the amazing dishes is worth the visit.

So, if you’re thinking of some good home-cooked fish delights, head over to Fei Fei Fish Restaurant. Click here. 

Francis Yip

Aladdin Group magical return in

It seems like “A whole new world” for tech giant Aladdin Group as they announced their return to the market as a digital commerce player, focusing on the Halal and Muslim-Friendly landscape after a corporate restructure.

I was invited as a Media guest to the Launch of the Group announcing their return and strategic partners and merchants.

Unlike the previous media activities, this is my first time attending a launch activity under the New Normal. Yes, mask wearing and social distancing were observed.

Back to Aladdin. You may aware that the halal market is one of the world’s  largest growing consumer markets with an estimated USD3 trillion consumption annually.

Hence, this is perfect time for Malaysian Aladdin Group’s to tap on the market by pairing with one of the most established digital teams in China as a strategic partner, specializing in e-commerce, artificial intelligence, and the recent trend of social commerce.

“Aladdin Group plans to establish a supply chain solution to over 40 countries, serving a Muslim consumer segment of an estimated 1.45 billion people and creating a powerful trade network, through the establishment of 40 domestic and one global platform.”, explained group CEO Eizaz Azhar.

“Our core focus is on the development of B2B, B2C, and O2O (online to offline) digital infrastructure for Malaysian SMEs so merchants can easily access new markets, and consumers have a wider selection of quality products and services, on a global scale via the Aladdin Group network.”

The Launch was officially graced by Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin, Deputy Minister of Communications & Multimedia.

Francis Yip

Malaysia's Kopitiam Culture

I received many good reviews on this article about our Malaysia's Kopitiam Culture which I wrote for GoAsiaPlus travel magazine.
GoAsiaPlus GAP 2018
GoAsiaPlus 2018 KopiTiam Culture
GoAsiaPlus 2018 Kopitiam Culture 2
GoAsiaPlus 2018 Kopitiam Culture 3
GoAsiaPlus 2018 Kopitiam Culture 4
GoAsiaPlus 2018 Kopitiam Culture 5


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