Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bento #023 090422

Today's bento featured
Sweet mango and some home-made fruits jelly (very refreshing for hot weather these days)
Tomato wedges on a bed of lettuce for vegetable portion.
Pasta & japanese curry sauce...both pair up prretty well.

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Packed in a rectangle compartmentalised container of 320ml + 360ml + 610ml.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chai Kueh

I grew up on this and it doesn't matter the type of filling, be it chives or yam bean I like them all. Even my 9y.o. niece falls in love with this teochew kueh, probably it is in the blood? Usually I consume them without any sauce, but if I happened to buy it and it tasted yucky on its own, then inevitably I will resort to chilli sauce to mask it.

Pictured here is the best we can find so far, made by my mum's friend out-of-town. This lady has passed this trade to her next generation, that of her daughter, and it is such a thriving cottage industry that per my mom, the family owns quite a few properties from producing the chai kueh. They do have different flavours other than the ones I mentioned above, such as chye sim and spinach. However, these lesser known ones need to be pre-ordered. Their version doesn't have any frilly pleats, just smooth rounds as they need to churn them out by the hundreds each day. Don't be deceived by the plain Jane look, just peek at the bursting filling within the sheer translucent skin. There are mushroom bits in there...a rare gem indeed.

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Writing this post makes me crave for them...this is something which I get tired off, and can finish a few at one go. Mom, can I have some more?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bento #022 090416

Initially had wanted to fry the marinated pork slices with fresh button mushroom slices, but ended up with this combination instead - capsicum & cashew nuts. Quite a refreshing taste to bit into the fragrant roasted cashew amidst crunchy green capsicum. This is somewhat a Thai dish, or apparently I normally see it in the menu at Thai restaurants which made me came to this conclusion...correct me if I am wrong. :P Another plausible reason could be that cashew nuts are in abundance in Thailand, that's why? This I derived from the amount of cashew nuts that are sold there, and it is like a 'souvenir' to tote back to signify one's visit to Haatyai.

Couldn't think of what else to fill the bento with, I resorted to my ever bursting freezer for some stash and boy was I lucky to have found this Japanese curry that I made previously. In times such as this, the freezer is such a treasure trove. However, I have to make an inventory list of what I keep in there, lest some gets forgotten and end up having freezer burn. The thing with list is that one has to be diligent in updating them, which I slack at times, but trying to buckle up nonetheless.

To decorate, it is just a rose done using tomato skin...very simple do.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bento #021 090416

I had this as breakfast, kaya-kok which was purchased the previous night from Baker's Cottage. It is rm1.30 each, but has always been priced as promotion at rm1.00 each, which is a steal. I guess it might just be marketing gimmick to get consumer to buy when one sees the word 'promotion', and I fell for it, guilty as ever.

This flaky pastry conceals pandan flavoured kaya, and remains crispy the next day as well, thus no re-heating is necessary and can be consumed as-is basis. I won't miss getting this whenever I frequent this particular bakery as they only have one sole outlet here in Penang.

The other item I have tried so far is the Chocolate Doughnut covered with chocolate and almond flakes. The doughnut itself is chocolate based, therefore it is like Double Chocolate Doughnut which is worth every cent paid @ rm1.90, compared to those offered at other doughnut places with starting price of rm2.20.

Back to the bento, just a simple ensemble of fruits medley comprising chukanan mango cubes and grape-halves (halves because I deseeded them, easier this way). Some cheese cubes to up the protein bit.


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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bento #020 090414

Decided to fix dh a bento as well to ease my life, hahha... Well, since he requested for salad, this had to be prepared beforehand to get them chilled for a more refreshing taste, so it will be much more convenient to have it packed into a bento for his consumption. All he had to do when he returned from cycling under the hot sun is to top the salad with some dressing and he can have his meal in a jiffy to replenish those energy burnt. He also need not wait for his meal to be prepared, definitely more than a win-win situation, no?

The salad consisted of yau-mak leaves at the bottom, followed by tomato wedges and cubes green capsicum then topped with yellow onion rings, lastly the shredded carrot. As for fruits, he got the same as me, strawberries and cubed mangoes, with a nicely decorated food pick. Isn't he lucky?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bento #019 090414

The carbs in this bento was the bed of noodles underneath the carrot strips and shredded leftover soya sauce chicken. I was trying to find ways to finish up the chicken and this one sprang to mind. The raw carrot gave the meal a good crunchy bite, other than the cauliflower+broccoli+shitake stir-fry.

For fruits, just some mangoes and strawberry halves, both of which are pretty cheap from my last grocery trip. With such a good bargain, it won't be a surprise to see them packed into my bento box till the supply ran out in the refrigerator.

Colourful hearty meal, I am beginning to enjoy my bentos day by day.


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Bento #018 090410

Pictured here is my regular rolled-oats to go with the soya sauce chicken which I remade. This time round I added in the mandarin orange peel called for in the original recipe, but instead of a whole bird of chicken, I opted for chopped chicken pieces. Just wanted to try if there is a difference in the flavour, as dh suggested to try it this way because he felt that there was no much taste when he consumed the chicken breast of my first try of the soya sauce chicken.

Indeed this yieldsa more flavourful dish, and better still, I didn't have to keep turning the chicken once in a while as the liquid was enough to cover the pieces of chicken. I just need to stir the pot once awhile to check on the contents.

And then there was a whole navel orange, which was so sweet and juicy to cleanse the palate after I polished off the spicy beef chilli con carne eaten with the potato chips. I found another use for my souffle muffin cups, which is a right size and height for this bento box. Alas, this one has pink polka-dotted prints but not visible here because of the aerial view shot.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bento #017 090410

Today's bento was put together with minimal fuss. I had made the chicken stew last nite for today's meal...I find cooking after dinner is so much stress-free because I am still full from dinner, so I won't be cooking too big a portion unlike cooking with an empty-stomach. Not sure if it is just me, guess this is almost the same logic as going for grocery shopping when one is hungry, there is a higher tendency to end up with a fuller shopping cart. Anyone experience the same thing?

Also, cooking at night takes the sweat out of the labour, it is so much cooler to cook than during day time when the heat from both the sun and the stove really get to me. Of course I only do this for certain dishes that taste better the next day when the flavour melds and develops when left sitting overnight, namely stew and braised food items.

On the left side was the chicken stew with potatoes, straw mushroom, celery, onion and tomato. Ran out of carrot to get this dish boosted with beta-carotene as I had used the last in baking a carrot cake. The bun went very well to soak up the stew gravy. To end the meal were some cheese cubes and my traffic-lights (referring to the food pick) cherry tomatoes. I tried to cheer up this bento with a ham cutout using ice-cream-on-a-cone cutter and stuck the nori sheet to make up the cone, while 100s& 1000s for the ice-cream part.

Now I realised this Doraemon bento box is just nice for fitting a bun in. Previously I had thought that it was such a big container thus it had taken me considerably long to start using it.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bento #016 090409

This bento box is meant for sandwiches and it came with a container within which is ideal for either fruits or dipping sauce. Actually I have this exact same box before, and guess what...it was an egg box which came with a removable 10-holes to hold those eggs.

But here I have it turned into a non-sandwich bento box to contain a portion of fried instant noodle with some fresh veg for a change from my usual rolled oats meals. On the side is a serving konyaku 'butterfly-knot' (per packaging description) topped with sesame dressing and two tulip apples for fruits. Oh, and some salad leaves at the bottom, which was hidden.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Kapitan for lunch

This is my first time ever having lunch @ Kapitan. All because of this Chicken Milani which had been haunting me as it is only available during the day time. It turns out to be good, and worth the visit because lucky for us that we were there earlier, slightly before noon before being baked by the hot sun as we were dining al-fresco. Dining within the shop can get quite stuffy, so this was a quick lunch for us.

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We also beat the lunch crowd that came by drooves when we were half-way into our meal. Imagine a queue for their nasi kandar? Didn't know that their nasi kandar is so good till now, hahhah... Though this is our usual food joint, nasi kandar is never an option for us as we go there for their tandoor only. Ya, we are more of a bread person than rice when it comes to choice of carbs. What's more, by dinner time, the spread of curries for nasi kandar is quite sparse, in other words, leftover from lunch and can get quite miserable now that I saw for myself the whole spread of freshly cooked curries for the day.

Back to the highlight for the day, this chicken milani was featured in its banner with french fries as one of the side dishes, the other being coleslaw. When our order came without it, I pointed at the banner and asked the waiter, only to be given a confused blank look and was told something along the line of no more fries. We happened to went back to Kapitan two days later and boy was I surprised to see that now, the part where the photo of french fries was printed is now covered with a piece of white paper. So much for efficiency, right?


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The chicken milani was quite crispy, pan-fried that is. Drenched with a creamy garlic sauce with itsy-bitsy onion, it goes very well with the roti milani that came with it. Certainly a good pairing, and that's how the name of the item came about, chicken served with milani bread => chicken milani.

It is interesting how this milani bread is prepared. Using the same dough as naan bread, it was rolled into paper thin disc and quickly pasted on an upturn work with fire underneath. Very fast the bread dries up and all the 'baker' has to do is to flap half over to get a semi-circle, and once more to get it into a quarter. Voila, a bread is done. Note the charred spots on the bread. :) It is quite fascinating to see the person at work, and I marvelled at this technique at first sight. However, we have to pay for the skill of the baker as this roti milani is twice the price of naan. I am talking about extra helping of the roti milani, that is. This chicken milani set was rm6.50 only.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Holland Fries @ Queensbay

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Finally we tried the french fries from Holland Fries located at the 3rd floor of QbM, a section of the mall that we rarely venture up because it houses the movie theatre that we hardly enjoy the latest blockbuster at. We frequent the cinema at the mall nearest to our home, which is just 5 minutes away and it is so conV when it comes to late night movies. We won't be so dead darn tired for the drive home after catching the midnight show, that's for sure since the aforementioned cinema is barely 2km away, awesome, isn't it?

Anyway, back to the topic, the fries offered at this small kiosk came with a hefty price tag, rm5.90 for the one you see here.

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For that amount, I can easily get one big bag at the frozen section of the supermarket...but well, that's is so much for the price of killing the "cat" (a curious one at that). Would rather to have tried and conquered than to keep wondering how it tastes like, right?

There were a number of toppings one can opt for. The choices of toppings range from the normal such as honey mustard, thai chilli, garlic mayo, sour cream, peri-peri and wasabi mayo to more elaborate options of satay sauce, bbq meat sauce or signature meat sauce. Being in the japanese curry-craze at the moment, it was not difficult to come to a decision for us. Actually we were undecided between this and that of meat sauce. In the end, jap curry won because we just recently had abit of meat sauce overdose (re: jalapeno post).

One thing good is that the fries were deep-fried upon order, rendering them hot and "fresh". The down-side being that they were too hot for immediate attack...almost burnt our tongues devouring them. And my oh my, the food picks that came with the fries were so short making the task of consumption even harder. We ended up enjoying this with our cuppa, which was two levels down. By then, the fries had cooled to a manageable temperature.

My verdict? The japanese curry sauce tasted flat, merely like out of the readypack. It is once eaten, twice shy for us...that's for sure. Now that I get the idea, this can easily be replicated at home at a fraction of the cost. Bye-bye Holland Fries!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bento #015 090407

Pasta with home-made sauce (cooked from scratch using fresh tomatoes)
Cubed black-gold mangoes, which is cheap as it is in season now
Ham bon-bon (my slice of ham was quite thick, thus it appeared to be torn here)

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It was a breeze to prepare this bento - I let the pasta steep in some boiling hot water before draining as it was leftover from our previous meal, heat up the thawed sauce from my freezer stash while I prepare the mango. Just a few slits in the ham and there I have it, my pasta with ham bento plus mango on the side.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bento #014 090404

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Blanced spinach bejewelled with century egg
Braised dried shitake mushroom
Sausies and crabstick fried rice

Fast and furious meal again apart from the fried rice that took up more time. I braised the mushroom (which I deep-fried first) using the leftover Soya Sauce Chicken's sauce, and it was delish.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jalapeno

It used to be difficult to get this item in this part of the world...even the bottled version is only available in certain upmarket grocer. But now, lo and behold, we can get the fresh ones rather easily as it is grown on our own Malaysian soil, none other than Cameron Highlands. This jalapeno is sold ready-packed @ rm 3.99 each. It is quite expensive by normal standards compared to the local big red chilli or even the small bird's eye chilli, but well, being adventurous, I bought one to try out to satisfy my curiousity.

It turned out to be a good purchase and no regrets, the chilli-con-carne turned out fantastic. It packs a punch! The spicyness of this version of chilli is different from that which we normally encounter, something which I don't quite know how to put into words. Interesting to note is that despite being simmered for some time, the jalapeno remains crunchy. I only used about 4 nos. for about 300g of meat, and it is sufficient. That means now I gotta get more meat to finish up the whole packet.

Pictured here I served it with potato chips...best is still to use corn chips.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

pAsTa TwIsT

Bored with the usual bolognese pasta sauce? An inspiration sprang to mind one day to come up with this Kong Po Pasta Sauce...I remember faintly that Chopper Board serves this, or something similar so here's my version. Everything was by 'aggaration'. Sautee some chopped garlic till fragrant, add in some soaked-and-plumped up dried chilli, onion slices followed by minced meat. When meat turns colour, add oyster sauce and some seasoning plus some water and let the mixture boil till slightly thicken. Your Kong Po sauce is ready to be served with any pasta of your choice...tuck in for a hot-N-spicy Italian meal. Spruce the dish up a 'lil with some chopped cilantro...oh so mama-mia!

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tau-Yew Kei (Soya Sauce Chicken)

This entry is inspired by Bento Pet again, with her description that made me bookmark the page upon reading it. It was so delicious that I salivate on her every words, hahah... Trouble is, I have to buy a whole chicken to make this and that's the reason for procrastination - we simple cannot finish one whole bird.

Then the recent drop in chicken price adds fuel to fire...I chanced upon a small bird of chicken which was about +/-1kg, and that was an ideal size for us. Into the shopping cart it went during our grocery trip to Tesco. I just couldn't wait to cook the chicken and sprang into action the very next morning (we usually do our grocery shopping at night on a weekday, less crowd to jossle with). Initially I thought that since I am halving the recipe, as the original calls for a 2.5kg bird. But when I mixed up the liquid for the chicken, I realised it is too little for my cute little 'underweight' chicky. I end up using a whole portion of the liquid...but like Bento Pet, my recipe was an adapted simplified one as I ran out of a few stuff.

I only used:
2 cups water
4T light soya sauce
6T dark soya sauce (note: to be differentiated from thick soya sauce)
4T shao xin wine
4T brown sugar (OR rock sugar, but I figure it is hard to measure rock sugar using spoon)
1t black peppercorns (supposed to use Sichuan peppercons but like I said, I adapted)

The full recipe includes the below:
2 star anise (left out because I do not have this at home)
1/2 chicken stock cube (omitted on the base of msg)
1 large piece of dried tangerine peel (chen pi)

I finally had in my hands some tangerine peel and will be doing this again...as this simple chicken dish is really so good. Very little work required other than to turn the chicken around to avoid the skin being burnt and over once to get it evenly coated with the brown sauce. I cooked this for about 30 minutes only after a skewer test at the thickest part of the thigh yields a clear juice.

I removed the chicken and placed it in a deep bowl. Found out that the skin turned a darker glossy tone after being aired as compared to the other side of it which touched on some gravy. One lesson learnt, I would need to "hang" the chicken horizontally on a bowl using chopstick so that I get a glossy bird. I did not simmer the sauce on high heat to reduce and thicken it further as I find the sauce is quite salty as it is now. Again, this is a deviation from the original...but I promise I will follow the recipe closely when I attempt it again with some salt reduced.

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What a "glossy" chicken...

You know what? The chicken was so irresistable that I attacked its wings after a few snapshots taken to be posted on this blog. Needless to say but for the sake of record, we finished the whole chicken that day. Yay to no leftover-food.

A point to note is that if one fancies, one can rub some sesame oil on the cooled Soy Sauce Chicken.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bento #013 090403

Yet another bento using the same box...I find this container convenient to segregate the different dishes to go with my rolled-oats-lunch.

In the 320ml section there is steamed meat and egg custard, rolled oats topped with half of a century egg cubed in the smallest compartment of 300ml, and lastly di-wang-miau topped with goma sauce in the biggest 520ml compartment. The arrangement is just nice so that I do not need to cut the veg shorter to fit in.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bento #012 090402

Lots of green in this bento attributed by the brocolli florets peppered with cherry tomato halves. There's also the chai sim that came together with the store-bought wanton soup. As for the carbs, none other than the usual rolled oats topped with some canned braised peanuts.

A pretty plain bento meal, but a healthy one at that (excuse the peanuts).
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bento #011 090401

Simple and fast bento prepared for my lunch, no oil used. Blanched the greens and steamed the fish while the oat was 'cooking' in the thermos using hot water. Assembled in the bento, and hey! presto...lunch is ready in a jiffy.

This is quite a big bento box, 520ml + 320ml + 300ml = 1140ml. What I love about it is the compartments which are ideal for dishes, but I didn't fill them to the brim, so the amount of food consumed is less than that. Most of the time I only fill them half-full...so about 500ml or so of volume is used.

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Yau Mak Tam with oyster sauce & meat floss
Rolled oats with a sprinkling of furikake
Steamed soy-sauce cod fish fillet

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Going Korean @ home

Curiousity bought me to come to know about Lotte's food fair in Penang. It was from Bento Pet's Bento #197 posting, that is. She wrote about the Japchae she cooked and that dish tickled my tastebud in Korean food, which I haven't had for quite some time now. So from her blog, I hopped onto Lotte Malaysia's website and that was how I end up with some purchases from them to satisfy my Korean food cravings.

Actually I didn't buy much from them, only 3 items out of which 2 came in quite a big pack. They were the dried glass noodle to make Japchae, Korean rice cake and a pack of ready sauce for the rice cake.

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I have yet to make the Japchae, but I just couldn't wait to have the rice cake. I was told by the person managing the booth that the packet of sauce was sufficient for the whole pack of rice cake. We couldn't possibly finish the rice cake which weighs 600g, as that is a lot of carbs. I only cooked half the portion and that turned out to be a wise decision.

I sauteed some fresh veg, namely sliced yellow onion, carrot and dried shitake mushroom before adding in the sauce and the same volume of water (using the sauce packaging as a guide) to come to a gentle simmer before adding in the rice cake to be cooked till the gravy thicken. Lastly I added in some sprigs of spring onions for colour before dishing it up. I found that using half a packet of sauce rendered the dish quite dry, so I ended up using the whole packet which left me now with 300g of uncooked rice cake without any sauce in the fridge. Well, shall try to cook the rice cake some other style as I find the packet of ready made sauce a tad too sweet to my liking.

No sesame seed was found in my larder, so I couldn't sprinkle some atop the dish before serving to make mine look like the picture on the sauce package. Nonetheless, the dish was well received by dh and it sure was a delish home-cooked meal for dinner.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dried Longan with Sweet Potatoes

This is a new combination for cooking sweet potato dessert for me. Most of the time I cook the sweet potato with small sago pearls, or have it with gingered dark brown sugar syrup.

I would say this is a refreshing change from the norm, and what's best is that dh don't mind having a bowl as it has his favourite ingredient - dried longan. So all the more reason to cook this often as there is someone to share the calories with me...before this, I would have to finish the whole pot by myself despite only using one small-sized sweet potato. Just the other day, I remade this and added small sago pearls into it, heavenly!

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Thanks Judy for this idea, guess it would be a permanent in my dessert menu. :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mary had a little land...

This is a Chicken Maryland post...which is an item offered at those Western Food stalls in Penang. Not sure about other states in Malaysia, but this item is normally served with corn fritter and banana fritter accompanying the fried breaded chicken. Instead of corn, I made pineapple fritter instead, using canned pineapple slice which had been serviette-dried to drain the excess moisture.

As usual, the meat went through 3 layering before it reaches the fryer, namely plain flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs. I normally pre-marinate my meats before freezing them so that I can cook them fast after thawing, as compared to marinating them after thawing which I would have to allow time for the flavour to soak in. Down side to this would be that I cannot change my cooking plans, as in I have to cook them according to the purpose I marinated it initially.

I topped dh's portion with 2 sausages. Other than that, we both had the same thing on a bed of greens.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Bento #010 090326

We love the big pau from this dimsum place near our house, lean meat and some shredded cabbage are encased in the thin pau dough. A rare find these days as most outlets would have the reverse, thick pau dough and so little filling. I would normally buy a few to be frozen in the freezer and thaw them a night before consumption. Simply hearty breakfast, only downside being the texture of the hard-boiled egg within it becomes rubbery, but no complaints, pros and cons I guess.

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Big Pau surrounded by skewers of cherry tomatoes, canned lychee, canned longan and canned pineapple-stuffed-rambutans

I like how the flavour of the fruits blend with each bursting bite of the tomatoes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bento #009 090320

A simple bento I assembled for myself to be savoured upon waking up from afternoon siesta. I used a light green 'Natural' series clicky bento box to fit one set of sandwiches, one type of fruit and one type of veg.

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As usual, sandwich was done using wholemeal bread as we consume this variation more than the white loaf.
Partially hidden behind the green silicon bear baran is a whole banana sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
Some grape tomatoes for colour to zest up the majority brown hue of this bentou.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bento #008 090227

Packed in a green clicky bento box, this was dh's lunch upon returning from spinning wheels.

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The contents within it: (from left to right)

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Local papaya leaflets, cut using cookie cutter
Fragrant chinese pears
Korean strawberries
"Dutch Lady" Apple-flavoured low-fat yoghurt

This is one of the two new flavours by Dutch Lady in their yoghurt series, the other being papaya. I find this apple flavour one a tad sourish, while the papaya flavour has hard nibs of papaya to my amazement. I was half-expecting mushy papaya, hahah... :)

Bento #007 090227

Packed in a two-tiered white compact bento box as my lunch.

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The contents were:
(from top, left to right)

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Wholemeal-bread avocado-tuna triangle sandwiches
Local papaya leaflets, cut using cookie cutter
Fragrant chinese pears
Korean strawberries
"Kraft" CheeseStix