Penang Pekaka Square | Maxim Dim Sum and Noodle Restaurant

Talking about dim sum on the south-east coast of Penang island, there are not many choices. One of the most popular spots that my family and friends frequented is Maxim at Pekaka Square in Sg Dua. A stone throw from USM campus, Maxim serves reasonably good selection of Malaysian dim sum, almost exactly like everything we could have in George Town.

Right at the corner of Pekaka Square
Right at the corner of Pekaka Square

Unlike most dim sum restaurants in George Town which the dim sum array is displayed on the push-cart, Maxim is a self-service restaurant. Competitively priced and good quality of dim sum, Maxim draws huge crowd especially on weekends and public holidays. Due to high demand, they has taken over another shop lot aside from their original 2 units on the right corner of Bangunan Lip Sin.
Ma Lai Koh or literally means 'Malay Kuih' - soft
Open for breakfast as early as 7am through lunch until 2pm, Maxim serves over 50 choices of dim sum, ranging from little dumplings such as hao gao, siu mai to deep-fried turnip cake or yam cake and some pastries including egg tarts. Aside from these, Maxim also serves steamed bun (bao) with a variety of fillings, porridge, rice rolls (chee cheong fun), glutinous rice chicken (loh mai kai) as well as taking order for fried noodles from their kitchen.
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Austin North Lamar | Together Korean Restaurant

Tucked away in a strip of mall a block away from North Lamar Blvd H.E.B., Together Restaurant serves a variety of authentic Korean cuisine. Austin is an Asian friendly city thus getting Korean food is not challenging as long as one is willing to do a bit of homework. From the online review, Together Restaurant is rated as a decent restaurant so we gave it a shot on one of the summer weekends.

The simple facade of Together Restaurant
The simple facade of Together Restaurant

As we entered into the restaurant, we were greeted by a Korean lady and then ushered to a table. Apparently Together Restaurant is arranged with partition wall about 4 feet tall between tables, perhaps to provide privacy to each group of customers.
Something to munch
From menu, most appetizers cost below $10 while most entrees cost between $11-20. We ordered a set of beef bulgogi and a platter of ramen with rice rolls in special sauce.
Banchan - the best of Korean food!
Started with some fresh sticks of carrots and celery, we were then served with some banchan or side dishes. Less than 15 minutes later, the arrival of our entree course seemed to fill up our table.
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Austin Parmer Lane-Mopac Hwy | Odaku Sushi Restaurant

Located at the intersection of Parmer Lane and Mopac Hwy in north Austin, the facade of Odaku Sushi is not new to us. We frequented the H.E.B. adjacent to it almost every week. Almost a year had passed before we decided to try this restaurant. Little that we know that Odaku Sushi also serves Korean on top of what the name says ‘Sushi’ which connotes ‘Japanese’ until it was mentioned by one of our Korean friends.

Odaku Sushi - Cozy atmosphere with light music
Odaku Sushi – Cozy atmosphere with light music

On one fine evening in summer, we walked into Odaku Sushi. The interior of Odaku Sushi is inviting and spacious. Tatami-style seating is arranged on the left wing while table-chair dining area takes the right wing. Sushi counter is right ahead after the entrance. Playing the soft music of Korean (I think), the dimly lit atmosphere is cozy yet sophisticated.
Korean stone rice or Bibimbap
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National Kidney Foundation and Evadis Cupcakes | 1001 Cupcakes In 1001 Hours

To the fans of cupcakes, this is a good news for you! Adorable and charming cupcakes are rolled out to reach you. This is the chance to eat and donate without messing up your own kitchen!

Co-organized by National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Penang Branch and Evadis Cupcakes in aid of the poor & needy dialysis patients, these cupcakes are made available to public through a charity project – ‘1001 Cupcakes In 1001 Hours’. Colorful topping and beautiful decoration of cupcakes are designed including cute animals, Christmas or Season’s Greetings. Asides from cupcakes, you may also order the 5-inches Christmas Fondant Cake that each can serves 10-15 guests.
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Tokyo Urban Park | Ueno Koen and Shinobazu No Ike

Serves as one of the largest urban parks in Tokyo, Ueno Park is a popular getaway among city folks during
weekends. It also draws huge crowd during cherry blossom season every year. Ueno Park is the home to more than 1000 cherry trees and is claimed as the top 10 best spots in Tokyo for Hanami or Cherry Blossom Party! Visitors from abroad and locals flock here to witness the beautiful sight of blooming Sakura in the presence of fresh spring.

Ueno Koen entrance adjacent to Kensei Ueno Station
Ueno Koen entrance adjacent to Kensei Ueno Station

Ueno Onshi-Koen or literally means ‘Ueno Imperial Gift Park’ is the official name of the park, however it is better known as Ueno-Koen among the locals and Ueno Park to the tourists.
In spring, folks congregate for Sakura gazing
Occupying the former site of Kanei-ji Temple, built by Tokugawa shoguns to guard Edo Castle against the
unlucky direction of north-east but the temple was destroyed during Boshin War (a civil war between 1868 to 1869). Ueno Park was initiated as public park after a piece of huge land was granted by Emperor Taisho in 1924.

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Tokyo Buddhist Temple | Zozoji and Sangedatsu Mon

Sangedatsu Gate ((三解脱門) or Sangedatsu Mon is the one and only structure within Zozoji Temple that survived World War II in 1945. Historic landmark of Zozoji Temple, Sangedatsu Gate was built in 1605 and highly influenced by the Chinese architecture during Tang Dynasty. Literally translated as ‘The Gate of Three Liberation’, the Buddhists believe that if one passes through, he/she can free himself/herself from three evil roots namely greed, hatred and delusion and eventually attains Nirvana.

Sangedatsu Gate or San Mon
Sangedatsu Gate or San Mon

Located in the neighborhood of Shiba in Tokyo, Zozoji Temple is a Buddhist temple that enshrines the image of Amida (Amitabha) Buddha. Occupying an ample land near Tokyo Tower, the ground of Zozoji Temple is more quiet compares to Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple. Housing Bodhisattva statues, flowers, trees, monuments, mausoleum of Tokugawa family, there is also sight of a huge bell and a gardens of little statues with bonnets and windmills.
Sacred Zozoji against the modern icon of Tokyo Tower
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Ueno Park Historic Landmark | Toshogu Shrine and Tokugawa Ieyasu

The treasure of the nation, Ueno Toshogu Shrine is a reminder of Tokugawa Shogunate reign during Edo period. Survived through many massive earthquakes, battles of civil war and bombing raids, the wooden shrine of Toshogu miraculously still stands until today. Boasting the architecture of Edo Gongen style, the shrine was elegantly painted, intricately decorated with wood carving and gold leaf.

Influence of Chinese architecture
Influence of Chinese architecture

Ueno Kaneiji Five-story Pagoda
Built in 1627 by a warrior named Todo Takatora, this shrine was dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Formerly, it was called Toshosha and renamed to Toshogu in 1645. Toshogu or literally means ‘Light of the East’ is a royal title. Over 200 Toshogu shrines were erected nationwide and they pay homage to Ieyasu as deity. In 1651, a massive renovation took place yet retained the original form that separates the structures for pilgrims, rituals and main hall.

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Ueno Park | Kiyomizu Temple – Senju Kannon and Kosodate Kannon

Inspired by the original architecture of magnificent Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto, Ueno Kiyomizu Kannon-do was established by Abbot Tenkai Sojo, who was also the founder of the Kanei-ji Temple. Built in 1631, this structure is a much smaller scale compares to its model. Yet, this Buddhist temple miraculously made it through the battles of civil war and air bombing raids. Today, Ueno Kiyomizu Kannon-do is recognized as the national treasure and one of the oldest temples in Tokyo.

Buddhist Temple at Ueno Park - Kiyomizu Kannon-do
Buddhist Temple at Ueno Park – Kiyomizu Kannon-do

The principal image of this temple is a figure of Senju Kannon or ‘Thousand Armed Goddess of Mercy’, similar to the original temple in Kyoto. Another image of worship enshrined here is Kosodate Kannon or better known as ‘Goddess of child-rearing’. She receives a greater homage and is sought after by the women whom have difficulty in conceiving. To those whom had their wishes fulfilled, they would return with a doll for offering as a gesture of thanking and at the same praying for good health of their children. Every year on September 25, a ceremony is conducted to burn all the dolls accumulated in the year.
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