A couple of days ago, Noods’ grandfather passed away. This post is for the relatives […]
A couple of days ago, Noods’ grandfather passed away. This post is for the relatives who couldn’t make it to the funeral.
Tye Tek Thiam or Goong Goong as I called him, was a generous soul who loved a good chat and while unfortunately there was a bit of a language barrier between us I loved watching how passionate he became when he was trying to get his point across.
He had a sweet tooth that just about rivalled mine, I remember bringing home one of those epic large buckets of fairy floss from the Easter Show and offering him some and he managed to eat the entire pink layer in the time it took me to pour a drink. He would never pass up the offer of dessert and had the appetite of an entire football team.
During the day he was always at his desk reading a newspaper or poring over his dictionaries and writing meticulous notes on the meaning of words or proverbs. At night though it was teevee time and he would watch sports to the early hours in the morning. Sometimes he would angrily shout at the tv wondering why his boxing match hadn’t started yet not realising the different time zones.
He loved his family. It was evident every time I visited that he cherished his time with everyone. Married for 60 years, he and Poh Poh still held hands and they would seek out the other to see what they were doing. He loved his two daughters Lee Sun and Lee Moon with all his heart and I know he appreciated all they did for him. He doted on his grandson and I saw how he tracked Noods’ every movement and hung on to his every word, always asking him how he was doing and how his footy team was doing.
Tye Tek Thiam passed away on Thursday 23rd January 2014. He will be sorely missed. Rest in peace Goong Goong.
This was Noods’ eulogy:
My grandfather was born on 2nd February 1920, in Taipu Village in Kwong Dong province China. As a young lad, he immigrated to Malaya with his family and settled in Penang.
At the age of 19, he left his family and travelled alone to Taipei, Taiwan to attend military school from which he quickly rose from the rank of cadet to captain and continued to serve an illustrious military career.
Due to tremendous pressure from his family, his military career was cut short, and he returned to Malaya (Malaysia) where he became a schoolteacher until he retired at the age of 55. Due to his military background, he was the school’s disciplinary teacher. Interestingly, he was also the school’s only basketball coach.
In 1954, he married his wife, my grandmother, Chin Chee Ping. They have been married ever since for 60 years, and together, had two daughters, Lee Sun and Lee Moon.
Despite his strict disciplinary values (which may or may not have been transferred on to my mother), he was a doting parent and loving husband, and his daughters had a wonderful childhood.
My grandfather arrived in Australia in 1990, aged 70, when my own father passed away, to help out my mother look after me. Whilst I was probably too young to realise at the time, my mother and I are forever grateful for his and my grandmother’s decision to migrate to another country – one that would have been extremely different and difficult for them in terms of language and culture – just to help raise me.
But in the time that he’s been here he has definitely adapted – and one thing that he could easily relate to with me was sport. He loved sports of all kind. Soccer, tennis (His favourite player was Michael Chang)– he’d spend so many late nights up watching tv when the grand slams were on; boxing (absolutely loved his boxing), athletics, swimming, badminton, table tennis, Olympics. Anything. Even rugby league – he called it a little rough and always reminded my mother to make sure I never played it – but he would happily sit down with me to watch a game and share my excitement, or most of the time, to console my pain. AFL, he didn’t quite grasp – he called it the sport with too many numbers on the scoreboard. He wasn’t too keen on golf either – he never understood why grown men chased after a small ball.
The sport he loved above all was weightlifting. And as many of you will know, he was a bodybuilder back in the day. Bloody impressive one as well – and proud of it too. Can I get a raise of hands from all of those he has shown his famous body-building photo to? You’ll also probably know that back in Malaysia, he was Mr Penang over there. He’d probably want me to re-iterate that to all of you again as a reminder.
He had a body to rival that of Arnold Schwarzenegger – though with one main difference – His was all natural – none of this steroid filled bodybuilders of today – which he was extremely proud of. He would actively maintain his fitness levels throughout his whole life. Even in his 90’s, I would still see him still pumping iron (albeit with dumbbells of a much smaller weight), doing squats and keeping active.
Maybe part of this reason was down to his sweet tooth. He had a love for all things desserts – cakes, coca cola, Sarsi, McDonald’s apple pies, fairy floss. I thank my wife, Susan, for introducing him to a whole new level of sweets and baked goods. I recall one time, when Susan gave us some profiteroles– which I found way too sweet for my liking, so I passed it on to my grandfather. 10 minutes later he walks past me heading for the kitchen with an empty plate in his hand. He stops, looks at me with a cheeky grin on his face, points at the plate and says “delicious”.
Much of his knowledge of the English language has been self-taught over the years. He would spend his days trawling through his Chinese English dictionaries and books, magnifying glass in hand, pen in the other, writing out English or Chinese sentences and passages in his notepads. When his writing notepads became full, he’d switch over to scraps of blank paper in which he would painstakingly draw out his own ruled lines.
As a kid, I always wondered why my grandfather would always be studying in his spare time. I’d use to think, he’s not at school any more – why does he still have to do all these chores that I was forced to do? As I grew older, my perception of this changed a bit – maybe it was just something for him to do, to pass the time. But that thought was still naïve. It wasn’t until I went through the HSC some 14 years ago when I actually realised what it was all about. For me, studying had the simplistic reasons of passing an exam for fear of experiencing my mother’s wrath.
For him, well his reasons gave me a whole new perspective – I would like to share a few sentences with you all today from a letter my grandfather wrote to me during this period. Not sure why he chose the letter format considering we were under the same roof, but he wrote:
“The more I learn, the more I see my ignorance. I am already 80, I still want to learn”. And with that he made a pact with me in that letter.
“So we both study hard together. What about that? Good, better, best”. We all know you are good, but best is better than good”.
True to his word – he did. I still maintain that he studied harder than me during that period. He may have been a teacher back in the day, but I think he persisted to always be a student in life, to keep learning, and expanding as much as he could.
To give you a deeper insight of the type of person my grandfather was, I’d like to share with you another snippet of that letter:
“Money to me is useless, because I have no bad habit. What I need is health. I will support you with all my money. Money and matters is not all. The most important thing is character. Character is the first and last word in the success circle”
I’m sure you would all agree with me when I say my grandfather was all character.
Most of you would most probably have been roped into some lengthy, but interesting conversations with my grandfather at some point in the time we have known him. Whether his stories were philosophical, about politics, China, sport, history – he loved a good chat. I noticed there would always be a glint in his eye to accompany his cheeky grin when he was talking with any of you he definitely appreciated the time spent with all of you.
Whenever he told me any of his stories, and this may apply to many of you as well, there was always an accompanying proverb, which was one of his pet loves. Sometimes they were common English proverbs. Sometimes they were Chinese proverbs. Sometimes I think he just made up his own proverbs – either that, or otherwise they were just completely lost in translation.
But I’d like to finish on one proverb he left me in a letter:
“If you confer a benefit, never just remember it. If you receive one, remember it always.” To me, Ta Ta, you were not just a loving grandfather, husband, father or friend. – You were also that benefit, I will remember you always. We will all remember you. Always.
So on my quest to eat all the bone marrow in Sydney I wholeheartedly give my thumbs up to 4Fourteen!
So on my quest to eat all the bone marrow in Sydney, I may have strongly advocated for the weekly family dinner to be held at 4Fourteen (414 Bourke St, Surry Hills but actual entrance is via Fitzroy St). We visited just before Christmas so the menu has changed a bit since then (but the marrow has stayed!), and with a menu split into Nibbles, Small and Large plates we were able to cover quite a fair bit.
The Roast Bone Marrow ($16) is a beauty, the quivering, gelatinous mass carefully slathered onto the slices of grilled bread. The chimichurri cuts through the richness of the bone marrow (hooray!) so I don’t feel like I’m going to have a heart attack – always a good thing. I totally rate 4Fourteen’s bone marrow!
CJ’s Chips and Dips ($9) is another must-order, ridiculously crispy shards of heh chard and super light and puffy crackling dunked in the addictive spicy sauce set our tastebuds alight.
The Confit Chicken Wing ($8 each) is the perfect 2-bite snack- the tender boneless wing hid a slab of smooth pate, a dollop of apple chutney and the tortilla chip just brought it all home with a resounding crunch.
Noods wanted the Seared Albacore ($19) because he didn’t know what albacore was. Turns out it’s a species of tuna which was just as well because he is a tuna fanatic. I absolutely loved the ginger beer jelly and the Granny Smith apple nubbins which was refreshing and tangy.
The Glazed Lamb Ribs ($10) made me swoon! The glaze was lip smackingly rich, sticky and sweet and the meat fell off the bone so easily and was just as easily dispatched into the depths of my stomach. I ended up abandoning cutlery and picking the ribs up with my hands because I was a caveman in my prior life and wanted to feel the lamb’s life force being absorbed.
I was curious about the Chef’s Late Night Dinner ($14) after our waiter so enthusiastically described it as ‘epic’. And epic it was! A fat Iggy’s bun was split into two, a massive wedge of D’Argental cheese was grilled until melty rivers ran amok and a tangle of caramelised onion brought a sweet balance to this crazy dish. This pretty much killed me though, I wanted to keep eating it but would’ve been too full to eat anything else! This dish would be perfect in the wee hours of the night/morning after a big night out hitting the happy juice.
The parents chose the Roast Skate Wing ($34), at first I was a little apprehensive at the thought of the combination of ham hock bouillon + fish but surprisingly it worked and the ham didn’t overpower the delicate fish.
The Roast Pork ($35) was pretty glorious, the tender meat had ribbons of creamy fat and more crispy crackling. I loved the smashed apple hiding underneath and the side of colcannon was buttery smooth with surprise pockets of crunchy cabbage.
I admit I may have over ordered but I had to get the Smoked Beef Brisket ($36) because it came with onion rings! I heart onion rings! These onion rings were awesome! The batter was so light and crispy! I didn’t really detect a smokey flavour to the juicy brisket but at that stage I was suffering from oh-god-too-much-food-must-let-stomach-digest syndrome. Oh and there were roast potatoes in there too but uh I couldn’t eat anymore.
By the time we’d finished up it was about 9pm and the restaurant was packed. We’d had the best service but it was around this time that they were getting slammed and so there was a bit of a delay getting our table cleared but turned out this was awesome because it meant my stomach could settle aaaand find space to order dessert!
The White Chocolate Sandwich ($14) caught our eye because hey who doesn’t like an ice cream sandwich?! If that’s you then we can’t be friends. Kidding. Maybe. The white chocolate ice cream was smooth and creamy and not overly sweet. Instead of the usual biscuit holding the ice cream there were two delicate tuiles which shattered upon stabbing. The dollop of dulce de leche was deeelicious but I think I would have preferred it pre slathered onto the ice cream but I guess this way you can control the sweetness.
The bone marrow will have me returning soon but I definitely need to come back on the weekend and try the suckling piggeh!
Lucky Pickle, Surry Hills has got all your sandwich needs covered and all for $10!
Oh Surry Hills. You have your squishy pugs, awesome coffee and now you have Lucky Pickle (Shop 3, 509-511 Crown St, Surry Hills (entrance via High Holborn St behind Essenza restaurant). Opening just a few weeks ago and run by former Tio’s bartender Arash Katrak and Anna Berry, I’m here with Ramen Raff to try this tiny hole in the wall cafe pumping out sandwiches with super tasty fillings. Everything is made in house except for the bread which they source from Bourke St Bakery’s offshoot The Bread and Butter Project, a charity that donates 100% of their profits to communities in need.
The Pork belly sandwich ($10) with house made duck liver pâté, pickled carrot, pickled daikon, cucumber, mayo and sambal ups the ante on the classic banh mi. With incredibly tender pork belly, a flaky baguette that’s spot on the money and pate that is smooth and rich, I’m left wishing for more than my allotted half a sandwich!
We knew we HAD to get the Beef brisket sandwich ($10) as we’re beef brisket fanatics and it did not disappoint! A panini lovingly hugs the juicy beef brisket, watercress, pickles and mustard and a layer of melted provolone makes this sandwich ridiculously awesome.
Aaaand because sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomaches we ordered the Katsu sandwich ($10) because hey, fried chicken! Who doesn’t love fried chicken! We cannot be friends if you do not like fried chicken. While I loved the glorious golden and crispy edges and tender middle of the fried chicken, I wasn’t too keen on the cabbage mainly because I uh am not too fond of cabbage but hey if cabbage is your thing, go for this sandwich!
Order and pay at the counter and then grab a milk crate and impatiently wait for your food. Atm they’re only open weekdays from 11am till 3pm or until sold out but get here quick before the hipsters converge!