Stephen Rahman Hughes

I have been a fan of Stephen Rahman Hughes since I first saw him as Hang Tuah in Puteri Gunung Ledang - The Musical (Season 1) way back in 2006....not only because he has a handsome face, but his voice can melt any girl's heart (Yes, even mine...heh!)

The most recent performance of his that I attended was April last year, where he performed with Ramin Karimloo and Simon Bailey for "West End Stars in Concert". SUPER amazing, and everyone was so swoon-worthy...*sighs*

Okay, back to reality a bit...LOL! SO...during that concert, Stephen sang a BM song that he says is going to be in his new album (YAYYY!) and the song is SOOO pretty! LOVED it to bits and made me anxious for his album to be out...I mean, with HIS voice and songs similar to that one which he performed, I figured it's going to be a KILLER album! 

Well, the album is FINALLY out =) A self-titled album, Stephen's album consists of 8 songs...all in Bahasa Malaysia. Bit of a dampener considering he's more British than Malaysian (even though he IS half-Malaysian!), but it's quite nice to see that he's trying his hardest to please his Malaysian fans. I couldn't find a copy until I read his fan FB page stating which stores carry his album and I got there JUST in time to get the last copy of the album at the store...hehe! So, what's my 'verdict'?

I guess I am on the fence with his album.....while I do admit that the songs do kind of cater to his range, I very much prefer him singing slow, ballad-y songs compared to uptempo or even mid-tempo songs. Unfortunately, the album cuts right in the middle with the number of slow and uptempo songs....and I'm not too sure who arranged the sequence of the songs, but there is the typical 'fast song followed by slow song' formula which is a little irksome, if you ask me.

The highlight for me is definitely the song that he sang in the concert - "Bertemu Di Syurga". For lack of a better word, it is very 'pretty'....with the piano intro, strings and big chorus, it's a lovely song that one dedicates to their loved ones =) Still, I find it a little bit 'overproduced' in the sense that there are too many things going on as the background music. I so much preferred the way they arranged the music during the a much better flow to the song. Watch the song performed here (I recorded it with my phone, so excuse the bad quality!):

However, there are some other songs which I find grew on me with a few more listens...need I say more that they are ballads as well? =P "Hati Berbisik" is a lovely duet with Jaclyn Victor, though I have to say that Jac's voice is featured so little here! Still, the song is cool =) "Cinta Masih Ada" is another song that grows on's a song about sacrifices that people make for their loved ones, and above it all, there. is. love. And my second most favourite song is "Ku Lepas". Another pretty song with a big chorus and soft ending...but I think what spoke to me most were the lyrics, where it talks about letting go for the best of both parties. =')

My only 'complaint' with this is the emo-Malay Rock song that is "Ekspresi". I don't know what it is, but I didn't like it one bit...even after a few listens. LOL! It JUST doesn't fit with Stephen's voice and I guess I am biased, but the jiwang rock thing is just....weird. I find it a bit wasteful to put this up in the album, but I guess the rocker fans might enjoy it. *shrugs* So yup, there is my two cents' worth. I like it, but I can't say I'm absolutely thrilled with this album....let's hope he comes up with another one soon where he sings material that really gel with his voice and style =)



Goods that have been imported or exported illegally.
Imported or exported illegally, either in defiance of a total ban or without payment of duty.

Yup, as the film title suggests it is about smuggling! Not a really unique premise, but it is a rather cool movie with some rather ingenious 'ideas' on how (really) good smugglers do their work.

Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg, looking quite buff here) is a smuggler-turned-legit alarm installer with a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) and two cute boys. Back in the day, he was a very well-known smuggler who manages to pull off the coolest smuggles from different places. His brother-in-law wasn't that good though and botches a 'run', forcing Chris to 'go back' into smuggling for one last time before the henchmen get to his wife and kids.

Mark Wahlberg does quite a good job as the tough, previously-a-smuggler guy who dotes on his family a lot. He makes it quite believable that his character is a very street smart guy who has turned over a new leaf. Can't say the same thing about Kate Beckinsale though, as I feel the film makers are just using her famous name to pull in audiences. Her character is a little pointless as all she does is just be pretty or get beaten up by thugs to threaten Chris. A little sad, coz she is quite a good actress. 

While the story is nothing much to shout about (It does start off rather slow as the characters are introduced), the action pretty much makes up for it...especially when Chris puts his plans into action. There are quite a few cool ideas on how to hide stuff in a confined space...though I'm not too sure if they have been actually used before, but cool ideas nonetheless. Think 'Prison Break' cool, except that they use those ideas for smuggling! And while there are some parts where it feels a little TOO easy for the characters to get to where they are, it is still rather interesting as the pace picks up exponentially towards the end. There are car chases, explosions, shootings, the works! My favorite scene would probably be the last few minutes of the film, where they really bring a new perspective to the term 'a sea full of money'! Watch it and you'll get what I mean. *grins*

All in all, it is quite a clever little movie....though not a big blockbuster like the big titles coming out this summer, it does deliver enough wit, action, and humor to keep your attention until the very end. Not bad to start off a new year *wink* 

Khuntai Restaurant

Khuntai Restaurant had been around for quite some time now....if memory serves me right, the last time I've been there was a few years ago. Alas, no photos of the food I had then. This time around, the family mentioned that they would like to go back again to sample their famous tom yum. And they did not disappoint *grins* 

Getting to the restaurant is rather easy as it is located just off Jalan Gasing. I went Googling to look for a map, and it turns out they have their own website! Check it out here. They open everyday, so no qualms about whether they will be closed should you head there for dinner *wink* On to the food, shall we?

 Appetizer! This is called Miaeng Kam (I hope I spelled it right!) The little bowls contain condiments like dried prawns, slivers of roasted coconut, peanuts, ginger, lime and cili padi. Small portions are placed onto a leaf, drizzled with the sauce above, wrapped and enjoyed. The last time I had this, I didn't really know how to appreciate the taste of this dish. This time around though, I find I rather enjoy it...the combination is quirky but unique and tasty; It's a little sour, sweet and savory, but also has a little 'green' taste from the leaf...combined with the crunch of the peanuts and dried prawns, it's definitely something one should try at least once =) 

 We ordered the pandan chicken too...chunks of chicken marinated, wrapped in pandan leaves and subsequently fried. It wasn't as fragrant as I expected, but the meat was juicy and tender. A so-so experience with this, but non-spicy lovers might enjoy this.

 Next, came their famous tom yum...there are quite a few variations at Khuntai. This was the 'normal' tom yum, but they also have something called 'white tom yum' where the soup is clear and not red like this one here. We had the seafood, and it was splendid. I find it a wee bit too spicy, but I'm the one who can't take much spicy food compared with my family. They all said it was just the right combination of spicy and sourness. The broth was also rather thick and full of flavor, which is hard to find in a lot of restaurants these days. The seafood portion also is not bad...this pot served all 5 of us fine =)

Another dish that we ordered was this minced chicken dish. I can't recall the exact name of this, but I initially thought this dish was minced chicken cooked with some fragrant basil leaves. Unfortunately, it wasn't...this was just minced chicken with some red and spring onions. The taste was not bad, but it wasn't exactly what we thought it was. Still, it was a good dish to 'counter' the spiciness of the chillies and tom yum. 

Khuntai is also quite famous with their BBQ seafood, but we didn't manage to try that. Instead, we ordered their BBQ was so good that my parents ordered another plate of these after we finished it. The cockles used are really huge ones compared to the usual kind that we find at hawker stalls selling boiled cockles. These are then served with two different chili sauces which go very well together. My only 'complaint' is that the cockles were roasted a little too long, making them dry and chewy. If they could cook it just a little less, I think it would be perfect....oh well, one can't please everybody at the same time I guess. It IS still an enjoyable dish though...I see almost every table will order this dish, so it's testament to how good it was *grins* 

So yup, it was a good 'makan' session with the family that day =) Price-wise, it wasn't too bad...all of the above with another plate of vegetables, a big pot of rice and a pot of jasmine tea amounts to about RM98 for 5 people. Not bad...not bad at all.