France · Lifestyle

#8 Displacement

I’ve recently been displaced yet again, to somewhere that looks like this↓


Le Belledonne mountains! On the journey back home from school, from the tram stop to the bus stop. Yup, traveling isn’t that short and sweet as I imagined it to be, but I will start cycling to school next week and it will be a more direct route so it’ll take less time! Also, as a 25 year old, you are not eligible for many discounted prices like the cheaper transportation card, etc. There is no student discount either, because you shouldn’t be a student if you were as old as 25. #shitfrenchbfsays

The centre ville, or town centre looks like this↓ European cities in winter all look the same. Grey and gloomy.


But the unique thing about this place is that every eye stop is a mountain!! Look. Every direction you turn to, all 360° ends with a mountain at the end. It’s amazing. I’m still learning the names of each mountain and will report back later. Stay tuned!


I am halfway up the mountain at the Parc Guy Pape when I took this picture. The big avenue you see in the middle of the picture with the evergreen grass is called Avenue de Liberation. The name is to commemorate the liberation of France from the Nazis during WWII. Now there is tramway running along it.


This is the Isere River. I have to cross it every day to get to school. See what I said about the mountains?


Can you guess where I am? Some more hints, this place is famous for walnuts, the Chartreuse liquor, a kind of potato gratin, and a famous romantic author called Henry Stendhal, after whom my university is named after.


Food · Lifestyle · Malaysia

#7 My Best Friend’s Cafe

Subtitle: Jaslyn Cakes. Yup, I am namedropping!

Have you been to Jaslyn Cakes, a one year old bakery located in Bangsar Telawi serving decadent cakes with a homemade feel? If not, I think you should. It’s run by my best friend since primary school, and I remember our first baking experience together: we baked some oatmeal cookies to sell at a booth at our school’s swimming gala. But today, while the only baking I’ve done in the past couple of years were microwave baking with 2 or 3 ingredients, Jas has gone on to way more sophisticated and delicious things ↓


At an even more sophisticated place ↓


Photos stolen from her official Facebook page

So, some of the write ups or foodie articles online have described Jas as talented and ‘soft-spoken’. Talented, of course! But the latter? Jas may be soft-spoken to people she just met, but today I will share with you guys the things that only people like me who have best friend privileges can find out.

Please note that I have paraphrased and written out the ‘interview’ below in proper written English. It’ll be funny if we talked like this irl at an afternoon chat over coffee lol.

Q: What do you enjoy most about going into work everyday?
A: I like seeing the regular customers coming in to the shop. We have the Chocolate Chip Cookie Guy who later became the Blondie Guy who I later found out his name was Izmir. We also have the Cheesecake & Latte uncle, Financier Lady, etc. They all have their own favourite food from our shop. Some of them hardly try new things so that’s kinda cute. We also have people from the shops nearby visit us quite regularly, like our friends from Sanifix, Lash Lab, Cziplee and others. Although I do love Jaslyn Cakes, it’s still a full time job and can get quite tiring so it’s hard to be super cheerful 24/7. Mornings are especially hard but seeing my diligent coworkers makes things better!

Q: Sounds like you know your regulars quite well. Do you like chit chatting with the customers?
A: We like to have a friendly environment in the cafe but I think we only start ‘chit chatting’ with a customer after we notice him or her coming in a few times. That’s one of the ways I get to know them better.

Q: Sometimes I like the music at your shop…but sometimes you play songs like Hello from Adele which is overplayed on the radio to the extreme that I can’t stand it anymore. Whose playlist is it?
A: I like to play my slow ‘low-tension’* music but sometimes one of my bakers, Faizal likes to change it to his annoying upbeat and mainstream music.

*Low-tension is an English word made in Japan i.e.’wasei-eigo’ or 和製英語 that has been introduced and since, incorporated into our vocabulary. It refers to a low-energy, slow, or relaxed ambience or a quality of a person. Its antonym is ‘high-tension’, a relatively more commonly used word which means the opposite — a high-energy, hyper atmosphere or mood. For example, Sam Smith’s songs would be low tension and Nicki Minaj’s would be high tension.

Q: Faizal? you mean this guy? I heard he likes reading manga online too.


Kekekeke. Yup, he’s so tall  we had to make an extra long apron for him.

Q: Do your bakers / staff get to eat free cake sometimes?
A: Sometimes to make the cakes look more perfect we need to trim them, so the trimmings are free for all. Also when we get some down time, we try new recipes and we need to taste test them before releasing them into the world so yes, occasionally my staff and I like to munch on our own sweets, too.

Q: Yup, the last time I visited, I got to try some yummy salted caramel macarons fresh out of the oven. They were dee-licious! Are there many Japanese customers at the shop? I ask this because this interview will probably be translated into Japanese and if there are any Japanese people out there reading, I’m sure they would be interested in this.
For now, not a lot but you never know, maybe they’re just good at blending in with the Malaysians. Although, there was one girl who came into the shop and tried to speak Japanese to us but none of us could understand her! She also left us a brochure completely written in Japanese. Until today, I still wonder what she wanted. I do hope more Japanese customers will come, though. The cakes in Japan I saw were soo kawaii. In fact, the Japanese pastry chefs are also a big fan of French baking, which is what Jaslyn Cakes is inspired by. One of my favourite pastry chefs is Sadaharu Aoki, who trained in France. 

Q: Do you see any interesting trends about the things happening in the shop, e.g., some cakes are more popular at certain seasons, etc.?
Not that I can remember but an easy one I observed is that people tend to order cold lattes on a hot day and vice versa.

Q: Let me play the annoying person’s advocate here and ask a stupid question. What do recommend people order when they’re on a diet?
Ermm, orange juice?

Q: A professional question now: do you have any advice for young people starting out a cafe or F&B business?
Don’t think so much, just do it. There are so many things to worry about but if all you do is worry you won’t be able to get anything started. Try, then overcome the hurdles one by one along the way. Also be realistic. Be prepared to give up most of the time, especially the first few months up to a year because running a business hands-on is almost like having a baby. There’s no quitting so it’s crucial that you persevere. Even after the business gets stable, it’s still running and you still have to continue taking care of it. Lastly, do something that people might want. Everyone can have a good idea, but if nobody buys that idea except you, it’s not going to work.

Jas working to feed everyone with yumminess. Featuring my sister, oranges, and a tired Vana lol ❤

Q: Did you have a solid support system like family and friends when you first started?
Yes, I think if it weren’t for my boyfriend, Kenneth, Jaslyn Cakes wouldn’t be what it is today. In fact, I don’t even know if it would exist! I’m also very grateful to my family and friends who helped me out and supported me greatly from the start. Thanks, everyone!!

Q: Want to share any other lessons you took away from this experience so far?
Hmm, I would say this was a very humbling experience overall. I get lots of constructive criticism from customers and I am grateful for them. And I learned to not react at not-so-good reviews. By taking a step back, I actually realised that these feedback are extremely valuable for how I can improve on my baking and Jaslyn Cakes in general. I have learned to take things with an open heart and own these criticism to move forward more positively.

Q: Lastly, as this is a blog about language / culture, do you have any funny anecdotes related to this subject matter?
Sometimes some aunties ask for the wifi password and when I tell them ‘Sugar and Spice’, they say, ‘What? Chicken and Spice?!’. Maybe I will consider changing my password to that next time.


Another best friend privilege, free cookie samples! Best lab-rat job ever! February 2014.



The early days: Accompanying Jas for her ‘homework’ — bakery hopping in Paris. Trying some brioche from Laduree @ Champs Elysees! Summer 2012.


Flashback: Humble beginnings @ Bangsar Telawi Lot 7A. October 2014.

Lifestyle · Malaysia

#4.2 My shopping haul from the pasar (market)

First post Version #4.0 uploaded on 1/1/2016.

Edit: Updated to Version #4.1 on 1/8/2016 (Friday). Version updates include French names and vegetables photographed with a green flowery background.

Edit No.2: Updated to Version #4.2 on 1/13/2016 (Wednesday). Version updates include some vegetable prices and items photographed with a light blue polka dot background with creases.


I went to the pasar pagi (morning market) at Selayang Jaya this morning with my sister to buy a week’s worth of groceries for the family. The shopping was quite fun but one thing bothered me slightly. It’s embarrassing to say this but I don’t know the names of many of the fresh produce and often have problems matching the cooked version and the fresh version, like if you tell me kailan, all I can imagine would be the cooked version e.g., stir fried kailan in belacan. Another problem is when we want to refer to the vegetables in conversations. How do we explain something like kailan to a non Malaysian/Singaporean?

So, in order for me to understand better what I’m putting into my mouth and help me look less bimbotic during my pasar shopping in the future, I’ve written down the names of these food items I bought today in various languages for future reference.

I don’t know the Malay names for some things e.g., choysum, fu chuk, etc. so that makes me wonder, do they even exist? These ingredients are mostly used for Chinese cooking so I can naturally imagine they were brought over from China by our ancestors and the original names just stuck. One thing I also noticed is that foods that aren’t native to Japan have names borrowed from their English names, e.g., pineapple in Japanese = pain appuru (English pronounced like Japanese)

It’s a shame that I didn’t take down the prices of each produce, but I’ll ask the sellers next time and update this post as needed.

Note: Mandarin and Cantonese terms are local Malaysian Chinese terms, they probably differ in other Chinese speaking countries.

Level 1 Vegetables


English: Tomato! Local tomatoes are kinda orange.
Malay: Tomato
Mandarin: 番茄 (fan qie)
Cantonese: 番茄 (fan keh)
Japanese: トマト (to-ma-to in a kawaii tune)
French: Tomate (feminine)


English: Ginger. It’s a root vegetable. There’s some growing at the front of my house.
Malay: Halia
Mandarin: 姜 (jiang)
Cantonese: 姜 (geong)
Japanese: 生姜 (shouga)
French: gingembre (masculine)



English: Chinese cabbage
Malay: Kubis Cina
Mandarin: 白菜 (bai cai)
Cantonese: My mum calls it ‘long ah bak’
Japanese: 白菜 (hakusai)
French: Pe-tsaï / Chou chinois (masculine)



English: (clockwise from the potato) Potato, Garlic, Shallots
Malay: Ubi kentang, Bawang Putih, Bawang Merah
Mandarin: 馬鈴薯 (ma ling shu), 大蒜 (da suan), 蔥頭 (cong tou)
Cantonese: 荷蘭薯 (ho lan xu), 蒜米 (xun mai), 蔥頭 (chong tao)
Japanese: じゃがいも (jagaimo)、にんにく (ninniku)、シャロット(shalotto)
French: Pomme de terre (feminine; lit. apple of the earth), Ail (masculine), Échalote (feminine)



English: Green onion / Spring onion / Scallion
Malay: Daun bawang
Mandarin: 蔥 (cong)
Cantonese: 蔥 (cong ← but pronounced with more force)
Japanese: わけぎ (wakegi)
French: Oignon cébette (masculine)


English: Pumpkin
Malay: Labu
Mandarin: 南瓜 (nangua)
Cantonese: 南瓜 (namgua)
Japanese: かぼちゃ / 南瓜 (kabocha)
French: Citrouille (feminine)

Price: RM2.60



English: Broccoli, my favourite vegetable!
Malay: Brokoli
Mandarin: 西蘭花 (xi lan hua)
Cantonese: 西蘭花 (sai lan fa)
Japanese: ブロッコリ (burokkori)
French: Brocoli (masculine)


English: Cucumbers x 4 + Brinjal x 1
Malay: Timun + Terung
Mandarin: 黃瓜 (huang gua) + 茄子 (qie zi)
Cantonese: 黃瓜 (wong gua) + 茄子 (ke zi)
Japanese: きゅうり (kyuuri) + なす (nasu)
French: Concombre (masculine) + Aubergine (feminine)


English: Bell Peppers
Malay: Lada Benggala
Mandarin: 菜椒 (cai jiao)
Cantonese: 甜椒 (tim jiu)
Japanese: ピーマン (pee-man) lol
French: Poivron (masculine) And apparently Francophones in Quebec call them ‘piment’ so that’s probably where Japanese’s ‘pee-man’ originated from.


English: Carrots
Malay: Lobak Merah
Mandarin: 紅蘿蔔 (hong luo bo)
Cantonese: 紅蘿蔔 (hong lo bak)
Japanese: にんじん (ninjin)
French: Carotte (feminine)


English: Coriander / Cilantro / Chinese parsley ♥︎
Malay: Ketumbar (nope, never used this word)
Mandarin: 香菜 (xiang cai)
Cantonese: 芫茜 (yin sai)
Japanese: パクチー
French: Coriandre (feminine)


English: Celery
Malay: Daun saderi
Mandarin: 芹菜 (qin cai)
Cantonese: 芹菜 (kan choy) / 西芹 (sai kan)
Japanese: セロリー (seloliiii)
French: Céleri (masculine)


English: Asparagus
Malay: Asparagus
Mandarin: 芦笋 (lu sun)
Cantonese: 露筍 (lou sun)
Japanese: アスパラガス (asuparagasu)
French: Asperge (feminine)

Price: RM33/kg

Level 2 Vegetables


English: Jew’s ear / Jelly ear (I remember laughing at an advertisement in Japan translated as ‘all you can eat Jew’s ears’ :/ )
Malay: ???
Mandarin: 木耳 (mu er)
Cantonese: 木耳 (muk yi)
Japanese: キクラゲ (kikurage)
French: Oreille de Judas (feminine; lit. Ear of Judas)


English: Spinach
Malay: Sayur bayam
Mandarin: 菠菜 (bo cai)
Cantonese: 菠菜 (bo choy)
Japanese: ほうれん草
French: Épinard (masculine)


English: Lotus Root
Malay: Akar Teratai
Mandarin: 蓮藕 (lian ou)
Cantonese:  蓮藕 (lin ngau)
Japanese: れんこん
French: Rhizome de lotus (masculine)


English: Bitter gourd
Mandarin: Peria
Mandarin: 苦瓜 (ku gua)
Cantonese: 苦瓜 (fu gua)
Japanese: ゴーヤ
French: Margose (feminine) according to Wikipedia, but apparently nobody in France likes to eat this vile thing.


English: Dragon fruit (only the coolest name for a fruit ever)
Malay: Buah naga (lit. dragon fruit. omg, still cool)
Mandarin: 火龍果 (huo long guo; lit. fire dragon fruit!)
Cantonese: 火龍果 (fo long go)
Japanese: ドラゴンフルーツ (doragon hurutsu)
French: Fruit du dragon (masculine)

Note: I was quite curious so I googled what a dragon fruit plant looks like. It is the fruit of a cactus↓ how cool is that? It is produced mainly in hot countries so yes, there are plenty of dragon fruit plantations in Malaysia too!



The Pink Fruit
English: This fruit is native to Southeast Asian regions so there isn’t an original English name but the most common one would be ‘Rose Apple’
Malay: Jambu
Mandarin: 洋蒲桃 (yang pu tao) First time hearing this word
Cantonese: ??
Japanese: フトモモ
French: ??
Note: Based on personal experience, this is one of the most difficult fruit to describe to non-Southeast Asians or people who don’t understand what ‘jambu’ is. 

The Green Fruit
English: Guava
Malay: Jambu Batu
Mandarin: 番石榴 (fan chi liu)
Cantonese: 雞屎果 (kai xi go; literally chicken shit fruit)
Japanese: グアバ (guaba)
French: Goyave (feminine)


English: Bok Choy
Malay: Sawi Hijau
Mandarin: 小白菜 (xiao bai cai)
Cantonese:  小白菜 (siu bak choy)
Japanese: チンゲンサイ (chin gen sai)
French: Chou de chine / Bok Choy (masculine)

Note: This Bok Choy (Brassica rapa subp. chinensis) is very closely related to the Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis). But, they don’t look alike at all!?

Level 3 Vegetables


English: Chinese flowering cabbage (lol, I don’t think anybody calls it that here)
Malay: ???
Mandarin: 菜心 (cai xin)
Cantonese: 菜心 (choy sum)
Japanese: サイシン (菜心)but this vege isn’t very common in Japan
French: ???


I honestly don’t know what this is.


English: Purple Stemmed Malabar Spinach
Malay: ???
Mandarin: 落葵 (luo kui)
Cantonese: My mum calls it ‘guai fei choy’
Japanese: ツルムラサキ (tsurumurasaki) extremely rare in Japan
French: Épinard de Malabar (feminine)

Price: 2 bunches for RM3.00


English: A type of baby Romaine lettuce
Malay: ???
Mandarin: ???
Cantonese: 油麥 (yau mak)
Japanese: ロメインレタス (romein retasu)
French: Laitue romaine (feminine)


English: Beetroot
Malay: Buah bit
Mandarin: 甜菜 (tian cai) / 紅菜頭 (hong cai tou)
Cantonese: 紅菜頭 (hong choy tao)
Japanese: ビートルーツ (bi-to ru-tsu)
French: Betterave potagere (feminine)

Price: RM12/kg


English: ???
Malay: ???
Mandarin: 帝王苗 (di wang miao)
Cantonese: 帝王苗 (dai wong miu)
Japanese: ???
French: ???

Note: I’m sorry! The seller told me the Chinese name but I didn’t get any nice hits on Google for the other languages.



English: Fried Bean Curd / Tofu Puffs
Malay: Tau Fu Pok
Mandarin: ???
Cantonese: 豆腐朴 (tau fu pok)
Japanese: いなりと似たようなものだけど、中華料理では塩辛い料理に使われる (it’s similar to what is used for the sweet inari sushi but it’s commonly found in savoury dishes in Chinese cuisine.
French: ???


English: Bean Curd Skin
Malay: ???
Mandarin: 腐竹 (fu zhu)
Cantonese: 腐竹 (fu cuk)
Japanese: ゆば (yuba)
French: Peau de tofu / Feuille de tofu (feminine; lit. Skin or sheet of tofu)

Price: RM2.60 / 100g (around 3 pieces)


English: Steamed Chinese buns or another suggestive alternative, ‘steamy buns’
Malay: Roti Mantau
Mandarin: 饅頭 (man tou)
Cantonese: 饅頭 (man tau)
Japanese: まんとう (mantoh)
French: Mantou (masculine)

Price: These two bags for RM8.


English: Pineapple
Malay: Nanas
Mandarin: 菠蘿 (bo luo) or 鳳梨 (feng li)
Cantonese: 黃梨 (wong lai)
Japanese: パインアップル (pain appuru)
French: Ananas (masculine)

Price: RM3.30


English: Dried shrimps
Malay: Udang kering
Mandarin: 蝦米 (xia mi)
Cantonese: 蝦米 (ha mai)
Japanese: 干し海老
French: Crevettes séchées (feminine)

Price: Rm6/100g

Will be updated after the next pasar trip!