Posts Tagged ‘family and living

23
Jun
13

WHY WE ENJOYED QUAYSIDE HOTEL & HALIA RESTAURANT & COFFEE BAR IN MALACCA, MALAYSIA

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My wife, Tina & our son, Gabby in Malacca, Malaysia on our second visit, June 21-23, 2013.

Our 7-hour-night-trip via bus from Butterworth, Penang to Malacca on our second visit to one of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites was absolutely worth it!  Despite everything (read : haze from Sumatra’s slash and burn farming that greatly affected Singapore & some states of neighboring Malaysia; yes, including Malacca  but not as severe), we had so many reasons to be thankful for. Quality time with family was spent, gastronomic feasts were enjoyed, special memories were made. :)

For this midyear family getaway, we stayed in Melaka for 3D2N

on sponsored accomodation at the barely month-old,

Quayside Hotel.

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We arrived and checked in so early at 6AM in spite of the regular 3PM check in. Thank you!

Modestly looking warehouse from the outside, impressive interiors with warm hospitality awaits inside.

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Minimalist, masculine and industrial with homey atmosphere made the renovation true to its history of being a century-old- Customs warehouse in this side of Malaysia. My family and I found it so promising and definitely, a great option compared to the usual theme of hotels in Malacca.

Among the 39 rooms in Quayside Hotel, our home for this holiday was Azura Suite with king-sized bed, tasteful details and a stunning view of the Malacca River.

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Gabby felt so home immediately. Best indication of a right place to be! The parents were happy! :)

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Attention put to details and corners was very apparent. Everything looks simple yet uniquely quaint.

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We’re told that breakfast is served at Halia Inc, Restaurant and Coffee Bar starting at 7AM. So after checking in, we freshened up and trooped to the next door establishment to sample their goodies, more so to pacify our borborygmi (growling stomach sounds). ;)

Halia Inc, Restaurant and Coffee Bar

Over all interiors was patterned after the hotel’s old-Customs-warehouse-theme. First glimpse instantly reminded me of Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver; if you know what I mean. On the presentation and taste departments : As good as it gets!

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Let’s get down to business, shall we?

Here’s the usual shameless display of what we chow down. Breakfast : Day One was a delight with my favorite Malaysian dish, Char Koay Teow that’s served on the buffet spread with generous ingredients of plump prawns, slices of squid and taste that’s not overly spicy, perfectly adjusted to foreigner’s taste buds. Some breakfast staples also included a variety of breads partnered with butter and jam, fresh tropical fruits in season, DIY-congee, chicken sausages, fried rice and scrambled eggs (not on photos), washed down with freshly squeezed OJ and nice blends of coffee.

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Signs of happy diners : Loving the day and ear to ear smiles!

Breakfast Day Two : Set Menu of Western and Local favorites.

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Weekend getaways are made of these worry-free-smiles!

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We intentionally chose another charming spot at Halia Restaurant.

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Obviously, happy and hungry. No further captions needed, hehehe! :P

My family had each plate of pancakes smothered by raspberry jam, half-boiled-eggs and French toasts while I enjoyed my first meal on the second day with local fried noodles (Beehon) with sunny-side-up-egg, some pudding and coffee bread (super delicious!) and fresh fruits all packed and served Baba-Nyonya style. :)

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Dinner during our second night was savored at Halia Restaurant again, nonetheless a feast! Prior enjoying our ala carte orders, we engaged in an interesting talks with the owners, Shara & Stuart, and their friendly local staffs particularly, Jaqueline, their fascinating barista who hails from Kuala Lumpur. After taking in some recommendations on what to sample, Team DocGelo was certainly pleased with another memorable epicurean experience.

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Behind those photos are moments to cherish! Naks! :)

Tina, Gabby and I chose these yummies from Halia’s menu :

Mushroom Soup (Soup of the day) Served With Garlicky Sourdough Toast

All-Cheese-Pizza (by request sans toppings) for Gabby

Linguine Aglio Olio With Prawns, Squid and American Mussels for me

Oat-Crusted-Norwegian Salmon, Yuzu Butter Sauce, Market Vegetables for Tina

Asam Boi : Sweet Calamansi and Preserved Plum (local refresher) for me

Lime, Mint, Soda Mocktail for Tina

Halia Inc.’s Tiramisu

Sticky Date Pudding, Caramel Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream

Cappuccino for Tina

Mocha for me.

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Are we satisfied with what we tasted from Halia Inc.’s menu? Those smiles mean a lot! :)

2
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I’m no hotelier or a man in the Tourism industry but I personally think the 3-star-hotel category of Quayside Hotel is underrated. Just because the hotel doesn’t have swimming pool or lifts because it’s only a 2-storey-structure doesn’t mean it couldn’t satisfy what tourists and guests are looking in an accomodation during leisure or holiday.

LOCATION

About five (5) minutes away from Melaka Sentral by taxi cab, situated at the center of Heritage Site, just after that giant Malaccan water wheel, along the Malacca River. A stone’s throw away from commercial malls, public and night markets, the famous Jonker Street, Red Square where Christ Church Melaka and Clock Tower are located. In order words, VERY ACCESSIBLE, so go book Quayside Hotel on your next Malaccan trip!

ROOMS :

Spacious, stylish and comfortable.

Wooden floors from lobby to hallways to suites! Impressive!

SERVICE :

Local staffs were courteous and fluent in English (apparently, a big plus to travelers & tourists).

RATES :

Surprisingly, reasonable and highly competitive with the other hotels around.

FOOD & BEVERAGE :

Delicious! Complimentary breakfast included on the package.

WIFI ACCESS :

Fast and FREE!

AMBIANCE FOR HOLIDAY :

Excellent. Relaxing. Not Intimidating

LOCAL FLAVOR :

Other than offering local cuisine together with Western favorites on their menu at Halia Inc Restaurant, Quayside Hotel also supports Malaysian culture, artists and their creativity by putting up its very own boutique shop and art gallery.

OUR SUGGESTIONS :

While our family highly recommends Quayside Hotel in Malacca based on what we experienced for 3D2N stay, here’s a short list of our humble suggestions for their improvement. *PLEASE BEAR IN MIND that all these were noted ONLY at Azura Suite, the hotel lobby and Halia Inc Restaurant & Coffee Bar, after the hotel’s ONE MONTH of operation. These comments and suggestions do not reflect the present condition of all the rooms in Quayside hotel & Halia Inc Restaurant. To us, everything’s fine but could have been better with enhancement of the following MINOR observations and personal suggestions :

  • Glass shower room at Azura suite needs (rubber-)sealing at the bottom of its glass door in order for water not to flow to the floor, to keep the toilet area dry at all times.
  • The sink at the toilet’s nice but must have soap dish(es).  A packet of thread & needles, plus comb will complete the travel necessities.
  • While hot and cold shower’s refreshing, a shampoo holder will be a good addition to the soap container inside the shower.
  • We appreciate the availability of iron and iron board, hangers and safe inside the wardrobe but better to provide at least a pair of long umbrellas and sets of room-slippers too.
  • A telephone at the bedside table in Azura suite could provide security and convenience to guests.
  • According to my wife, Tina, some fresh flowers and framed arts could make the lobby and first floor lounging area prettier.
  • In Halia Inc. Restaurant and Coffee Bar, I personally suggest the use of place mats under plates to protect the handsome wooden tables from early worn out.
  • Tina and Gabby suggest the addition of cereals and other fruit juices during breakfast. My wife also mentioned the spread could’ve been better with the provision of a bread toaster for guests to do their own toast.
  • Other than these small issues, WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND Quayside Hotel and Halia Inc. Restaurant and Coffee Bar to all tourists and travelers in Malacca! :)

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Special thanks to Quayside Hotel, Halia, Inc Restaurant & Coffee Bar, and to Stuart and Shara for the generosity.

  • Quayside Hotel & Halia, Inc Restaurant  & Coffee Bar | No. 1, Jalan Merdeka, Quayside Heritage Centre, Banda Hilir, 75000 Melaka | Tel. No. : +606 284 1001 | Fax : +606 284 1002/1003.
  • Website : http://www.quaysidehotel.com.my
  • facebook : https://www.facebook.com/quaysidehotelmelaka
  • Email : hello@quaysidehotel.com.my (If in case you’ll be writing them, tell the very young and inspiring owners, Stuart & Shara that you read about their beautiful establishments here and please give our warm regards to them. Thanks!).

*While this is a sponsored blog post, the words are all mine unless quoted, and were never influenced by anyone.

Some photos on this post were taken by my lovely wife, Tina. I’m proud of her creativity! Day 3 Breakfast photos and menu are not yet included on this post as the blogger drafted and completed this entry prior to breakfast on 23rd June 2013 (without sleep on his own will & passion for blogging).

More stories and photos to come on this blog series, so stay tuned! :)

19
May
13

1885 : E&O HOTEL PENANG’S FINE DINING RESTAURANT

Memorable. It was one of our most unforgettable dining experiences ever. We’re eternally grateful!

05/17/13, Friday, Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, Malaysia. My family and I were fortunately invited by E&O to a 3D2N luxury accomodation at one of the five-123-square-meter-Corner Suites, among its 117 units of 55-square-meter-Superior Suites located at the newly built, Victory Annexe wing (our experience & views on the hotel suites, other F&Bs & facilities  plus our personal recommendations will be on a separate post on this blog series about E&O).

On top of the many exclusive privileges for guests at Victory Annexe that my family and I enjoyed, such as daily breakfast in either Sarkies at its ground floor (which we already sampled previously; blog post HERE!) or in Planter’s Lounge at its 6th level that also serves evening cocktails, E&O was more than generous to invite us as well, to a weekend family dinner at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, 1885.

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My son & I at the living room of E&O Hotel Penang’s Corner Suite before heading to dinner at 1885.

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My wife, Tina & our son, Gabby at the hallway connecting Victory Annexe Wing & Heritage Wing.

1885 is located at the ground floor of the historical Heritage Wing of Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, which is a few-meter-walk from where we checked in. Stepping inside the restaurant felt surreal; the atmosphere was absolutely different. I silently observed Tina and Gabby’s reactions when all of us allowed the moment to just sink in. It was truly an amazing treat for the three of us!

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“Named for the year that the E&O Hotel was established, 1885 offers classical yet contemporary cuisine in an elegant environment in the finest traditions of colonial fine dining.

The selection of inventive fusion dishes from our accomplished chefs, accompanied by a superb selection of wines, marks 1885 as the perfect choice for an enjoyable dining experience.

Traditional English Afternoon Tea is also served in this elegant setting. Candlelit tables, starched linens, silver service, and attentive staff create a magical experience.” ~sourced from http://e-o-hotel.com/1885/

Every table was set simply in tuned with the E&O’s theme : Timeless elegance.

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The view from where we sat.

A set menu was specially prepared for us courtesy of the Chef, who happened to be on a special assignment in another Malaysian state that night. Nonetheless, the 6-course-meal was obviously well thought of and was nothing short of impressive.

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The set menu for Tina & I.

One of the strongest points that impressed us with 1885 was the fact that they provided a kiddie-dinner-menu for Gabby. Believe me, having  separate adult and children’s menus means so much for a family of diners! As in our case, Gabby got to exercise his decision making when he trusted his very own taste in selecting between choices from appetizers to entrees and desserts.

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Waiting for our orders was never an issue since we’re entertained by a very soothing and relaxing music that further enhanced the over all ambience of 1885 and of course, made our lovely epicurean experience even more remarkable. A pianist was playing pieces from our wonder years! Love songs commonly heard on the radio during late 80s and 90s were beautifully played on the piano throughout our 7PM to 11PM dinner.

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I didn’t expect 1885 to be filled with diners that night but tables were almost packed. I may have underestimated not the restaurant itself,  but the choices of guests when it comes to eating places in Penang. It was a great proof that there’s really a market for high-end and quality-dining amidst the volume of affordable hawkers in this Malaysian gastronomic paradise!

Our dinner kicked off with a variety of breads on a basket carried by waiters from table to table.

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Herbed and salted butter on bread never fails to stimulate!

Tina and I opted to have different entrees. The choices were usual but the plates were extraordinary.  It was a toss between seared fish and baked steak. In as much as I wanted to dunk my fork on a handsome slice of Wagyu Fillet Mignon, I allowed Tina to have it since she liked it over the cod fish and I thought, she’d eventually share it with me, and she did, hehehe!

Because we’re having fish and beef dishes, white and red wines to complement everything were mandatory. I like! :)

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The service of 1885 staff was impeccable. They were highly courteous, quick and attentive. Kudos! To us, they deserve a raise! :)

Not merely because we’re far from being wine connoisseurs (well, surely we’re not!) but I personally have confidence with established restaurants’ recommendations. So when one of the staff asked us of what wines we like, we threw the question back to him politely. With a smile, he instantly suggested Fire Road Pinot Noir 2011 from New Zealand and LFE Chardonnay 2012 from Chile.

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Fire Road Pinot Noir 2011, New Zealand.

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Luis Felipe Edwards Chardonnay 2012, Chile.

It was indeed, a fine dining but our conversation remained casual. Gabby discussed his wishes on how to celebrate his upcoming 9th birthday in his school here this October; he already had ideas in mind from the cake, to his requested fried chicken fillet strips with home-made gravy for his mom to prepare for his classmates and teachers, and the gifts that he’d like to receive -what else but toys!

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While Tina & I were savoring wines, the little boy wonder was gulping iced water. :)

One by one, our plates arrived on our table.

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Amuse Bouche.  This bite-sized hors d’œuvre was Ratatouille; rich with tomatoes and veggies. With no overpowering flavor, Tina and I found it just fine.

Between Tomato Soup and Creme of Mushroom, Gabby chose the latter and he liked it a lot, leaving his soup bowl empty in few sec.

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Creme of Mushroom Soup, Buttered Crouton

The greens came in next.

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Rocket Salad. Cherry Tomato, Herb Ricotta Cheese Crouton Cracked Black Pepper

Must have detailed shot…

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I asked my wife if she like it the way I do and we’re both on the same page. Cheesy and crunchy leaves with mild hints of anchovies. The fusion was effectively tasteful!

If Gabby had Creme of Mushroom Soup, Tina and I had the Lobster Bisque.

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Lobster Bisque. Lobster Fricassee, Garlic Bread Croutons. We both love seafoods; no explanations needed.

Then it was time to cleanse the palates.

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Sorbet

The test of patience and understanding happened when a wait staff committed mistake in mentally jotting down the orders. Between Carbonara and Bolognese Pasta, our little-big boy told the waiter he likes the former. After several minutes of waiting, a pasta plate with red sauce landed on our table.

Gabby to Tina : “Ma, is this Carbonara?”

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Pasta Bolognese

We looked at each other and without wasting a minute, I called the attention of the waiter. Told him that our boy wants Carbonara and not Bolognese. The staff apologized, took the plate and positively replied that he’ll prepare another plate with Carbonara sauce; he even asked us if he can use Rigatoni. To me, that’s being customer-friendly!

Gabby’s choice :

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Rigatoni Carbonara

Tina and I saw how Gabby literally devoured his Carbonara. It was even piping hot when Gabby had his fork with pasta to his mouth, one after the other. We were in awe watching him eat. It must be that good!

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Baked Wagyu Fillet Mignon. Anna Potato, Lotus Tempura, Spinach Shallot Glaze

Detail shot…

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1885’s Baked Wagyu Fillet Mignon passed Tina’s disriminating taste! She had it medium-well and even commented to me that it nearly tasted her favorite fillet mignon dish that she ate in one of the most regarded restaurants in Tagaytay City back home. She shared to me a generous chunk and I effortlessly understood her praises for the dish. It must be the quality of beef plus the meticulous method of cooking. The potato side dish was not merely chopped and fried but was creatively done in thin and layered servings.

My plate :

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Seared Cod Fish. Sauteed Soba, Beans Sprout, Tempura Prawn, Sesame Soya Dressing

The cod fish was well seasoned; neither bland nor too salty. It perfectly complemented the crispy prawn tempura. What made the dish soared to the highest heavens was pairing it with sauteed soba. I only hoped for another similar plate that night! ;) And the waiter’s recommendation of chardonnay? I never had a doubt.

Gabby thought of having Single Scoop Ice Cream over Trio Flavored Ice Cream from the kiddie menu.

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Vanilla Ice Cream 

If Gabby only had the very common yet classic, vanilla flavored ice cream, 1885 prepared a uniquely textured and bitter-sweet dessert plate for Tina and I.

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Toffee Mascarpone Cheesecake. Maple Sauce, Cinnamon Cherry, Almond Shortbread

It’s hard to fake it; we liked every plate from the very first one to our dessert. Just look at the smile of my lovely wife. Naks! :D

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At this point, we’re almost struggling with satiation. Tina and I told the wait staff that since our Corner Suite has coffee making facility, we had to let go of having coffee at 1885. However, we got a word that they already began brewing it, so we happily gave in. What’s a pretty meal without coffee ending (or to some, tea) anyway?

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Freshly Brewed Coffee (or selection of Gourmet Tea)

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The happy diners!

Before writing this, I asked Tina and Gabby of their honest comments with the service, ambiance and food of 1885 and I got no negative response. I only heard from both of them, “Masarap!” or in Bahaya Malaysia, “Sedap!”

We wish to come back for some English Afternoon Tea next time.

Thank you very much, 1885 at E&O Hotel Penang! :)

>><<

STAY TUNED for MORE of this E&O BLOG SERIES!

1885 | Eastern & Oriental Hotel | 10 Lebuh Farquhar, 102oo Penang, Malaysia | Operating hours : 2PM-11PM (daily), English Afternoon Tea is served from 2PM to 5PM | website : http://e-o-hotel.com/1885/

*While this is a sponsored blog post, the words are all mine unless quoted, and were never influenced by anyone.

01
Jan
13

‘TWAS THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2012

Christmas 2012 Blog Series includes :

 

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Happy 2013! I hope everyone had a blast in your holiday celebrations as much as we did. I just came home last December 30th from my very first (hopefully not the last as per permission from Tina) solo backpacking trip in Chiang Mai and enjoyed 4D3N of awesome Thai-adventure! But prior to that, my family and I left our work and current home base in Penang and went to Kuala Lumpur from December 22nd-25th, last year (still feel quite weird saying that “last year” phrase!).  

24 December 2012. Leboh Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Immediately after we checked out from our budget hotel accomodation in Hotel 1915 and left our luggage and bags in its concierge, we strolled our way to a nearby Gereja Katolik (Bahasa Malaysia for Catholic Church) called St. John Cathedral located approximately 5 minute-walk from Leboh Ampang or the so-called, Little India in KL and around 10-15 minute-walk from Masjid Jamek LRT station. I learned about St. John Cathedral via what else but googling and thankfully, it’s located so close to where we stayed for our first 2 nights.

Despite there was no scheduled Holy Mass that high noon, we entered the church, said our prayers and words of gratitude. There was an atmosphere of Christmas-in-the-Philippines somehow in this part of Malaysia with the sight of parol at the facade (Christmas lantern that symbolizes the star in Bethlehem that guided the wise men and shepherds to the Infant Jesus) and a belen or a Nativity scene beside the main altar.

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St John Cathedral | No. 5 Jalan Bukit Nanas 50250 Kuala Lumpur | www.stjohnkl.net

Then we headed back to Leboh Ampang for that necessary lunch. We were thinking of getting our bags first from Hotel 1915 and tranfer to JW Mariott where we decided to spend our Christmas eve but we opted to fill in our almost empty tummies before anything else. Glad it was on the top of our priorities; Abraham Maslow would agree! :D

Another happy problem rose and that was where to eat? The area boasts of common fastfood joints -from McDonald’s, Burger King and Chatime and some local restaurants and hawker food stalls.  It wasn’t difficult for Tina and I to convince Gabby for us to have an Indian-Malaysian lunch because our wonder boy himself loves to put his hand on some Cheese Naan and dips it to dahl or some spicy sauce before savoring it in his discriminating mouth. Soon enough, we found ourselves seated inside the airconditioned Indian Restaurant in Leboh Ampang called Sangeetha.

Lunch @ Sangeetha, an Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

Seriously checking the menu…
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Tina and Gabby had baskets filled with Cheese and Garlic Naan with cheesy dip for their light lunch. It’s a family favorite!

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While the big-eater-in-me sampled one of the restaurant’s most frequently ordered items from their menu. It’s called Sangeetha Special Thali and this is how lovely it looks like :

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Sangeetha Restaurant is a vegetarian restaurant so it offers less guilt on the diet (for those diet-consicous).

Sangeetha Special Thali was served beautifully first with vegetarian-orange-colored soup that’s thick and hot and flavorful! Then it came with a visually stunning set of cup of rice, a piece of chapathi,  papadom and dried salty chili. Those carbo-rich items placed at the center of the entire set were complemented by Indian saucy dishes- kootu, potato masala, rassam, veggies that reminded me of lumpia, dahl, yoghurt and sweet and yellow dessert. A scoop of berry-flavored ice cream was also served as part of that Sangeetha Special Thali set. And did I tell you already that those dishes and even the rice were refillable? I didn’t challenge my appetite to ask for another serving. Everything was satisfyingly good and I highly recommend it when you find yourself in this part of KL but my palates are still biased with Restoran Kapitan in the heart of Lebuh Chulia in Pulau Pinang. :D

Detail shot of that impressive Sangeetha Special Thali…
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Then we became busier of course! Nom nom nom…
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Smiling while something is in your mouth wasn’t easy, lol
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Done with lunch!
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We collected our luggage and bags from Hotel 1915, hailed a cab (we could’ve taken the LRT as we used to when we were there if not for our heavy loads) and trooped to Bukit Bintang.

Checking in at JW Mariott was a breeze. Detailed review of our stay deserves a separate blog post.

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After quick freshening up, I was excited to bring my family to Feast Village at the basement of Starhill Gallery which is located exactly adjacent to JW Mariott -we didn’t even have to go out of the building of the hotel (everything mentioned is owned by YTL).

When I was invited to an exclusive food-tasting-tour last November, Feast Village at Starhill Gallery generously gave me a 100-ringgit-voucher to be spent either at Fisherman’s Cove or Village Bar.

Look at how Gabby’s amazed with the live lobsters and fish-ready-to-be-cooked-upon-order at Firsherman’s Cove.

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Tina and I must bring this kid to a bigger aquarium when we get a chance. He’s so fascinated with Science as he gets a load of info not only from his school but from watching NatGeo Wild on TV.
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A decision was made by the two. We sampled Village Bar for free and passed up Fisherman’s Cove.

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village bar christmas 2012
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Once again, I was in awe with this ultimately quaint bar located at the basement of Starhill Gallery. I’m glad my family loved it too! We all admire those vibrantly colored and fascinating lamps; Tina and I wished that we would have a lanai one day with all of them dropping from our very own ceiling. Lovely, isn’t it?

With a 100-ringgit-free-voucher at hand, we ordered Mojito, Cosmopolitan and Vanilla Madagascar from a Filipino bar tender in Village Bar. I had the Mojito, Cosmopolitan for Tina and of course, Vanilla Madagascar which is non-alcoholic for our kiddo. A serving of assorted nuts was offered free. :D

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I like these next shots. Look how Gabby enjoyed his drink from Village Bar…
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Blurry, I know but I love this photo taken at the mall in Starhill Gallery. It certainly spells the holiday we savored!
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After those drinks at Village Bar in Feast Village, we went to Pavilion Mall which is located just across Starhill Gallery and Mariott. It was a fine afternoon filled with Christmas spirit and a very blissful atmosphere amidst the holiday rush.

Festive mood in front of Starhill Gallery and JW Mariott Hotel…

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Crossed the street to Pavilion Mall and we’re greeted with more gold, green and red colors of the season…
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In my opinion, Pavilion’s holiday decors and ornaments topped that of Suria-KLCC-Shopping Complex’s this year. Pavilion’s nothing but magnificent! One Christmas tree was absolutely not enough! lol

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We had no game plan in mind but to buy something for our Noche Buena that we planned to celebrate inside our room and for Gabby to buy a Lego toy. Inside Parkson’s Department Store, Tina’s excitement was so apparent after seeing Pucca dolls. I was somewhat left out because I don’t know anything about Pucca! I did nothing but to capture the moment! …Picture!

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We grabbed what we wanted for our Christmas Eve dinner from Mercato grocery and Lavander Bake Shop inside Pavilion and went out of the said mall. It was already dusk and Jalan Bukit Bintang was indeed living up to its name (Bukit Bintang means star hill); everything was lit up! Bikit Bintang was screaming Christmas!!!

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It was a lovely night for my family. Will definitely share what we think of JW Mariott, what it needs to improve and provide to clients, our Noche Buena and Media Noche soon on the concluding post of this Christmas 2012 Blog Series.

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From my family to yours, Happy 2013, everyone and may we all have a healthier, happier new year!

Cheers to more family bonding, food and fun adventures!

>><<

31
Dec
12

OUR CHRISTMAS MASQUERADE LUNCH BUFFET AT SHOOK!

Christmas 2012 Blog Series includes :

*Warning : This is another visual overload. You know the drill before you drool. I suggest you get yourself a tall glass of iced water prior reading this post and salivate involuntarily. lol 

>><<

25 December 2012. Christmas Day. Feast Village, Starhill Gallery, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

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Tina, Gabby and I had the grandest Christmas Day celebration in Kuala Lumpur and we hope you enjoyed yours too! We spent Christmas eve in a deluxe room in JW Mariott Hotel and savored our simple Noche Buena feast and a satisfying breakfast buffet meal at Shook! (both deserve a seperate blog posts). We were given the privilege of late check out at 2PM but we managed to settle everything at 12noon and went back to Shook! to grace their Masquerade Christmas Day Lunch Buffet!

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This gastronomic experience is nothing short of spectacular! Of all the eat-all-you-want feasts we enjoyed from the Philippines to Malaysia, Shook! Christmas Masquerade Buffet Lunch at Starhill Gallery in Bukit Bintang (which literally means, ‘star hill’) is the most fantastic, stellar and stunning, certainly entertaining, lavishly fascinating gastronomic experience to date with all those scrumptious spread of Chinese, Japanese, Malay, Italian, Continental cuisines perfectly paired with free-flowing champagne (we passed up the bottomless champagne and opted to wash everything down with Evian water)!  Shook! offers this splendid theatrical buffet every Sunday but for us who currently live more than 300km from Kuala Lumpur, we’re thankful for the chance that we had it on the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas! What a great time and reason for such indulgence!

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I spoke to Mr. Raj, one of the main men behind Shook! in Feast Village and he proudly told me all those holiday decors and pretty ornaments were prepared by the staff themselves. Bravo for such efforts! They creatively set the ambiance and the mood for everyone’s enjoyment. Even the tiniest details on the tables were not overlooked. What a visual and digestive feast it was! :)

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“The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal.

~CS Lewis

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Apart from the buffet spread, diners had the opportunity of choosing entrees on the menu; we selected one for each of us. Clockwise from top photo : Tina opted to try a beef dish that was pleasantly plated while I didn’t miss the chance of having seafoods and that Shook’s award winning dish that I sampled last November when they generously invited me for a tasting tour at selected restaurants in Feast Village, the Dancing Prawn. Gabby’s choice was predictable and classic; he had his favorite, Ebi Tempura that seemed like all coated with batter but were all nibbled by Gabby so I guess it successfully passed his young discriminating taste.

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There were Mongolian BBQ, Roast Turkey and Beef Ribs (which I also sampled, delicious, tender & flavorful!), Western Style Salad Bar, Selection of Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar, Chinese, Malay, Indian and Thai Food Counters, Cheese Buffet, Antipasti and more but my palates were so biased to what I don’t usually eat on a daily basis. After all, it’s Christmas, must eat your favorites. And for me, it’s seafood dishes and Japanese!

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While Gabby loves Ebi Tempura, I also share the love for such dishes with Tina. Look at my lovely wife’s plates…

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This is the only eat-all-you-want that we experienced amazing entertainment. There were clown-balloon maker, magician, juggler, all staff dressed in Medieval splendor, there’s Santa Clause who went table to table giving candies to the old and the young as if the dessert spread wasn’t enough, and yes, there was live band and choir singing what else but lovely Christmas carols! Everything’s magical! Surreal!

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The service of all staff of Shook! at Feast Village was quick, warm and friendly! Everyone deserves a salary raise if you ask me! They surely complemented everything on this fabulous feast!

Food. More glorious food!

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Desserts were absolutely divine.

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Lively and lovely atmosphere…
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Cups of cappuccino to end a beautiful meal.

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The buffet started 12PM and lasted until 3:30PM; too many food, so little time and stomach! lol. :D As we bid goodbye to the best buffet experience we had for 2012, we were gifted with freebies of heavenly chocolate cupcakes topped with moist and decadent chocolate icing and Christmas ornaments. What a great takeaway!

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Apparently, one can never measure happiness with anything money could buy. It’s not on the food we eat, the gifts we receive, the cars you drive, the things you shop but it eternally springs on those precious moments we spend with people who love and treasure us.  My biggest joy for Christmas 2012 was celebrating its meaning with my family and seeing ear-to-ear-smiles on their faces. Priceless definitely! :)

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May the good Lord continuously shower all of us with more of His bountiful blessings this 2013 and beyond.

Have a Prosperous, Healthier & Happier New Year, everyone!

*This is NOT a sponsored post but special thanks goes out to Shook! and Starhill Gallery people, Yati, Raj and Rachel Yong! Warm regards to all the staff particularly to the Filipino crew at Shook! :)

Feast Village, Starhill Gallery | 181 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur | www.feastvillage.com

>><<

28
Oct
12

INSPIRED BY THE WALKING DEAD

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve definitely seen these photos taken from years of Gabby’s trick or treating in his school and malls in Manila and a mall here in Penang.
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Several weeks back, Tina and I asked our 8-year-old kiddo if he still digs being in costume to celebrate Halloween. Gabby replied positively but he professed he doesn’t want to join any contest in the mall like what he did before. He only wanted to have fun and enjoy the occasion. OK. Fine. :)

Luckily, few malls here in Penang partake in this Western tradition of celebrating Halloween; we had choices where to go to. Last year, we had it at Queensbay Mall while this year, we spent half of our Sunday at 1st Avenue Mall.

And because Gabby’s a bit older already, his choices in all things also mature gradually. This Halloween, he opted to dress as a zombie, perhaps so inspired by one of our favorite TV series, The Walking Dead. After having an idea of what to wear, Tina began to be more imaginative this time on how to zombie-fied our cute little Gabby.

She started with what we have in the kitchen. Egg white, artificial food coloring and tissue paper worked well with my wife’s creativity.
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She used these to make fake blood; the egg white served as binder or glue the tissue paper on Gabby’s school-boy-complexion making him look more like someone from the grave. Clever eh? I say pure talent! LOL! :)

At home, they had rehearsal. The two were in character!!!

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zombie : halloween 2012
Call it weird but at least it’s clean FUN and most importantly, we’re HAPPY! ;)
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28 OCTOBER 2012. Sunday. 1st Avenue Mall. We found a seat inside Starbucks Coffee after engaging on a hearty brunch meal at Dome. Of course, I needed to take the “BEFORE” photo of the two.
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Beautiful, aren’t they? :D
Then my wife brought out all her stuffs -food colors, hypoallergenic face makeup, sheets of tissue paper, and yes, an egg that she had to crack on the table of Starbucks to get its white.
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Gabby wanted it, so he was so submissive. Take note, there’s no coercion nor force here! :D
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Just so you know, my wife is a professional Operating Room Nurse and a former Clinical Instructor and she has no formal schooling on makeup more so on prosthetics but isn’t her work amazing? And apparently, Gabby’s the cutest “Walking Dead” ever!!!
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Must be in character!
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Despite there were no candies, no loot bags that’s so unlikely the Philippines (we certainly miss going to Greenbelt, Landmark, TriNoma, and Gateway!), we all had fun taking photos of those Malaysians who were in costumes too!
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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! :D

______________

20
Oct
12

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

No, this isn’t about History but something about Science. Nothing too heavy;  just about Gabby and me and a wonderful repetition of what’s done in the past.

Ages ago when I was in 4th (or was it 3rd?) grade in Marikina Catholic School, I was assigned to a Science project called, “Soil Erosion”. With only two rectagular wooden boxes at hand –one with soil, the other one with soil and plant and a small water dipper, I presented my experiement at the school’s Science Fair.  For one whole day, my classmates and I were provided individual tables inside a classroom to set up our experiments for demonstration. When guests, teachers and other students started to pour in, I remember I had to repeat the explanation to my “experiment” several times over.  Then came the nuns, teachers and a priest who all held pens and papers, dropped by each table to asked queries about each presentation. I didn’t know it’s a contest, much more I didn’t expect to win as somewhat like, the Best Science Project or so. It’s a pleasant surprise after a long and tiring day at school.

Looking back, I think it gave me the first exposure in public speaking that serendipitously led me to what I do now for a living.

Fast forward to October 15, 2012, Monday, it was time for our son, Gabby to present a Science project in school here in Penang. Nothing specific was assigned to him, only something to do with Science. The 8-year-old boy had so many things in mind.  Initially, he wanted to create and bring a model of a head that when lifted, will expose a model of a brain, then he also thought of making a volcano that would errupt and a few more of ideas that he got from watching Science-and-craft-oriented shows on TV and from reading encyclopedia in school. I casually told my family about my “Soil Erosion” project back in my days. Probably because of its simplicity, environmental and social relevance, they agreed on the suggestion. Together, Gabby and I recereated what I demonstrated in our Science Fair back in the mid 80s. :D

We didn’t have rectangular wooden boxes so we used two plastic pots –one with soil, the other one with a plant.

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Although, everything was made in a rush, I had fun helping out Gabby with his project.  I prepared a written report about his Soil Erosion; Tina helped me out to simplify the words that kids of Gabby’s age and younger could easily understand. Say, for example instead of using the word, “objectives”, we used “goals” or rather than using the word, “applied”, we used “added” and for “methodology”, “procedures”.

Apparently, it’s difficult to explain and demonstrate something that’s new to you and things you don’t comprehend so we made sure Gabby understood what his project is all about before he brought everything in school.

The boy easily grasped everything after I showed him photos of flood and landslides from the web. Gabby saw images from the Philippines that captured effects of having less or no trees in the mountains that supposed to absorb water from rainfall. His reaction was the same as mine.

I instructed him to use plastic and old newspapers as the base of his set up and told him that the roots of the plant in his experiment represent the roots of trees, and the soil in the pots depicts the Earth. Obviously, when he pours water in each pots, the one with no plant would wash down soil particles in an instant.

gabby's experiment
After his day in school, Tina and I asked Gabby how his experiment demonstration was and our wonder boy only replied smilingly, “It’s OK!” :D

20
Jun
12

POWER LUNCH WITH THE IRELAND-BOUND

16th June 2012, Saturday.  My family and I took the bus-ferry-bus-rides from Butterworth to Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang (Penang Island) at around 10AM to just before lunch time to grace the exclusive invitation of our students who will be studying Medicine in either Galway or Cork in Ireland beginning this September as Malaysian scholars (read : everything’s FREE!). I believe this was their generous way of saying ‘THANK YOU’  to our humble efforts. Trust me, there was No-Grades or No-Marks-Attached to this occasion; it was purely a very warm and friendly get-together-party. FYI, I was a part of their Pre-Med studies and currently the soon-to-end, Bridging Course-Ireland program.

From the first set of photos on this post, one might think that we went to a park, a zoo or an aviary. Actually, the venue of our eat-all-you-want-lunch was at The Flamingo Hotel by the beach. I confess, I underestimated this hotel upon the sight of its modest lobby but when I saw the gorgeous beach, I immediately thought otherwise.

How lucky I am that my students invited even my family…

About the next photo :  With me were the English lecturers from London who are now based in Penang, Esther and Phil, they’re great friends of Prof. Dato’ Dr. Chan Kok Ewe (or simply, Dato’ Chan for us) who’s seated next to them. It has been a pleasure for me and one of my best learning and humbling experiences as Dato’ Chan shared the lectures of Bridging Course-Ireland to me 2 days a week from October 2011-June 2012. Prof. Dato’ Dr. Chan  happens to be our school’s Pro Chancellor too and the Director of Island Hospital, Penang and not to forget that he’s the Chairman of Penang Hospice Society among the long list of his worthwhile contributions.

That’s me beside Esther and Phil with the one and only, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Chan

Must-Read-About-Dato’-Chan :  As Esther, Phil and I conversed, we all agreed that Dato Chan is one of the most noble & humble men we’ve ever met. His feet remain planted on the ground despite his humongous achievements (read : he’s one of the few Malaysian MD-pillars of Medical Research). Whenever I go and see him at his office to get the materials (which include powerpoint slides that he makes and videos related to our lectures that he personally handpicks), he never fails to amuse and motivate me even without trying. He’s a man beyond his titles. I would not know about the Korean Singing Pop-Group, Girls’ Generation if not for him (Do you know Girls’ Generation? If not, google them on youtube like what I did when Dato Chan made me watch one of their MTVs. When I told him that I was surprise that a guy his age can appreciate contemporary music that even I was not aware of, I noted from his reply that his age does not impose any limitations)!

Imagine inspite of his status, he managed to make cups of coffee for me and Tina on this lunch.

Not everyone does that to his subordinates.

His humility is so inspirational!

His humor and zest for life, phenomenal! :D

Meet the Malaysian scholars who are all Ireland-bound this September! *applause*

It’s not because they treated us for this lunch but I have to state, these Malaysian scholars who will be studying Medicine in either NUIG in Galway or UCC in Cork, Ireland starting mid-September 2012 until two and a half years after (then, they’ll go back to Taiping, Malaysia for their Clinicals and housemanship), are the epitome of the cream of the crop. Teaching them the few basics of Medicine has been such a breeze because they’re so responsible and goal-oriented. They attend to our classes with so much enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. Proof to that is their active participation in our lectures (I cannot remember a 2-hour-class with them that was so boring) and mind you, they laugh spontaneously when I crack jokes! :)

Formal to wacky…

Tina took my photos with them…

Prof. Dato’ Dr. Chan with our Ireland-bound-students

Once more, everyone with Tina this time…

It was so fun talking to Esther and Phil (Afiqah and Aizat helped me and Tina go through it without epistaxis or nosebleeding, hehehe!). We spoke about almost everything from their stay here in Penang for almost 3 years now, their favorite Malaysian dishes; Esther recommended a list of hawker food stalls from various parts of Penang with corresponding specialties! I remember the most interesting part was when Esther shared their experiences with the unforgettable tsunami that hit Penang (and Phuket, remember?) and the recent earthquake + tsunami alert which made us all panic. Tina and I were amazed to learn that Esther and Phil were very cool in dealing with the latter as they even had cups of tea in their balcony while my family and I evacuated and slept the night in a hotel far from our seafront-11th floor-appartment. And of course, we talked about THE PHILIPPINES. Phil and Esther want to visit our country during the Christmas holiday and boy, they were surprised to hear when I said that Filipinos celebrate Christmas season starting SEPTEMBER! Don’t we? :D

Enough with the photo-ops and those introductions; let’s get down to business. Here’s what we chow down….

I started with this noodle soup that looks like simple mami (mamee) dish for Filipinos, but the red & spicy sauce makes it Malaysian…

The hot & spicy broth did not irritate my taste buds; I actually liked it! Then, there was tempura station near the pool side so I sampled some ebi and veggie tempura and a few fried spring rolls. Sarap! Sedap! :P

That may have been another shameless display of dietary consumption from this site, but heck, I savored this plate to bits, even made me to want more! That’s how delicious those dishes in this plate were. The omelette, chicken, fish and that lamb were all tender and flavorful! The Briyani rice was tasteful too. I’m lost for superlatives to describe each. :)

If you’re a Filipino reading this post and viewing those photos, yes, you are absolutely correct in thinking that most Nyonya or Peranakan (Straits/Chinese-Malaysian) delicacies here in Penang look like our very own sweets from the Philippines. The rice cakes we have back home appear like those glutinous treats here; the difference lies on the tastes – ours mostly satisfy sweet tooth, but some Malaysian delicacies have a hint of saltiness infused with sweetness.

At this point, I remember I was already struggling to wish I had more room in my gastric pit but truth didn’t allow me to get some fruits from the spread. :( Anyway, after this Nyonya delicacies, I had coffee made by Dato Chan himself; now that’s one for the books! ;)

It was a sumptuous lunch! The spread was mostly Malay dishes but they’re not that spicy and I truly liked it and might consider to go back for another Sunday buffet lunch with my family some other time. It’s so relaxing to enjoy a buffet with that priceless view with your love ones.

And to the 14 students (2 were not able to join us for this lunch) of Bridging Course-Ireland 2011-2012, I know I already told you this a countless times in between our classes, but would like to state it here again. Always remember that you are so BLESSED to have such opportunity to study MEDICINE for FREE in EUROPE no less. You’ll gain more than Medical knowledge but an experience to cherish for as long as you live! If you keep in mind that you are blessed and you know how to count your blessings, you will not only become what you dream of but will be an inspiration to others too.

Thank you for bearing with me every Tuesdays and Fridays from October 2011 to end of June 2012  Teaching for your batch taught me so many things beyond books and classrooms; indeed, learning has been mutual. I’ll surely miss doing lectures for you! :(

To Prof. Dato’ Dr. Chan, my work in AUCMS has been worthwhile because of you, Sir! Words are not enough to express my gratitude to you!

Thank you, Bridging Course-Ireland 2011-2012 students! We had a wonderful time! :)




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