Posts Tagged ‘food blogger

05
Apr
14

BASTAKIYA, AL FAHIDI | MY FAVORITE PLACE IN DUBAI TO DATE

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In my first few weeks in Dubai, I was fortunate to discover what I reckon as my favorite place to date.  A totally different space from the sight of stunning skyscrapers along the Sheikh Zayed Road.  An incredibly pleasant respite from the busy, cosmopolitan and future-forward city. A very quaint heritage site that made me more interested in the region where I am now.

Al Bastakiya in Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai.

The Old Dubai district.

It took me only less than half an hour to reach Dubai Metro Al Fahidi Station from my current flat in Muraqqabat, in Deira. After alighting the train that runs along the Dubai Metro Green Line, I asked the Information Officer of the specific exit point that took me to the Al Musalla Road down to the Al Fahidi roundabout, and I engaged myself  in approximately 700 meters of leisurely stroll.

 

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The roundabout at the junction of Al Fahidi Street and Al Musalla Road.

Akin to a step back in time, this charming and enigmatic quarter in Bur Dubai fronting Dubai Creek, features classic Arabian architecture of traditional houses, with amazingly vast courtyards, narrow alleys  and tall wind catchers. Typical in arabesque abodes, wind catchers or more commonly called, wind towers, had been greatly used to make ventilation cooler and climate more bearable particularly during the early years of Dubai prior to the invention of air-conditioning units. At present, even the most modern dining places and notable souks have kept wind catchers as part of the structure of their establishments, giving their patrons an atmosphere of Dubai’s historic past.

 

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Bastakiya neighborhood is named after the place where migrants from Iranian region, Bastak, resided. Glad it was preserved, restored and maintained for every tourist, foreigner or otherwise.

Bastakiya is conveniently located just across the roundabout at the junction of Al Fahidi Street and Al Musalla Road in Bur Dubai. It’s a stone’s throw away from Dubai Museum, another must-visit-attraction in this side of UAE.

Before my first Do-It-Yourself-Dubai art and heritage appreciation, I was effortlessly seduced by Arabian Tea House Cafe. I never thought I’d fall in love with the place in an instant.
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The entrance is so modest yet very welcoming.
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Beautiful, isn’t it?

Tucked within a traditional Arabian house, an expansive courtyard was transformed into a relaxing and attractive tea house and restaurant that was previously called, Basta Art Cafe. Arabian Tea House Cafe offered me not only a taste of having Arabic afternoon tea but an entirely priceless sensory feast!

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This is where I sat with my old reliable black backpack and spent more than a couple of hours savoring time and absorbing everything in. All negativity that’s clouding my head evaporated in a blink. I must go here frequently.  

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And why not. Al Fahidi (despite I’d walk a couple of yards to Arabian Tea House from Dubai Metro Station), is only a station away from Oud Metha, where St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the place where I find peace, blessings, forgiveness, solace is. It has been a month and a week in Dubai and never a Wednesday evening that I missed going to church. I’m not that religious but if you don’t have anyone else, or at least you only have only a few people to depend on, in a place so foreign to you, it’s only faith, plus good food and great place that assure me. 

I was happy to see that most staff in Arabian Tea House Cafe are Kabayan. The friendliest and the most efficient workers in the Gulf and perhaps all over the globe are of course, Filipinos, bar none (I know, it’s a different topic! I digress). So when Kabayan staff, Vanessa handed me the menu with a smile, I asked of their house specialty drinks. She mentioned Mint and Lime and as for the tea, it’s 1001 Nights from Sri Lanka.

1001 Arabian Nights tea served with dates for only 18 dirhams per pot. I’m sold! Bring it on! :)
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One Thousand and One Nights Tea served with dates. Fruity, tasteful, an instant favorite!

They have Green Tea and Jasmine, White Tea Jasmine and Marigold, English Breakfast, Early Grey, Fairytale, Turkish Delight, Ceylon Sencha, Exotic Paradise, Milk Oolong, Raspberry and Mint, Mysterious Passion and a whole lot more teas!

Then from the menu, I opted to have freshest salad without knowing their servings are huge! I chose Exotic Chicken Salad.  Mixed lettuce, mango, avocado, tomato, cucumber and chicken marinated in lemon and BBQ dressing. YUMMY!

 

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Exotic Chicken Salad. Hallelujah!
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Served with complimentary Arabic bread, the salad is the most delicious and freshest I’ve had! The fusion of textures and flavors of ripe mango and avocado, cucumber and lettuce was simply sublime! The BBQ-flavored chicken also doesn’t disappoint. I can have this simple all-in-one-meal plus that 1001 Nights tea as my last meal when I die. I kid you not.
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Apparently, my worries and stress were melted by the entire dining experience!
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Arabian House Tea Cafe, I’ll see you more frequently, I promise!

Following my 2-hour-afternoon-tea-time, I stepped outside its walls and went to Bastakiya proper. Al Bastakiya houses Sikka, the annual art fair conducted by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, supporting Emirati and Dubai-based artists. Who would not be drawn and enticed to stroll around Sikka at Bastakiya for FREE?
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Arabic Calligraphy House.

Art Galleries…

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Art galleries, Coin Museum, Arabic Calligraphy House, a mosque, and a lot more are all within Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood or Bastakiya where they highlight Sikka. The most lovely quarters in Dubai are parted by narrowest lanes and alleys.
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Describing it as narrow is no longer necessary.
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Handsome arabesque architecture.
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Camel ride, anyone?

On the other side of Bastakiya is Dubai Creek where abra, or traditional wooden water taxis that transport people for 2 dirhams each and big dhow cruise vessels lord the waters. The multiple Dhow Cruise vessels operate at night, providing local entertainment and sumptuous dinner buffets while cruising Dubai Creek, and are remarkably adorned with colorful lights.
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Abra or traditional wooden water taxi.

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Dubai Dhow Cruise.
Back within Bastakiya, another fascinating attraction are the local shops. Textures, colors, aroma, variety and everything magnetic to the senses pulled me to stay a little longer.
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As I write this, I only went to Bastakiya twice and I’m already thrilled to find a chance in between my new work to revisit Arabian Tea House and the entire Bastakiya. I cannot wait to sip another dose of 1001 Nights!

>><<

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Cafe | Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai, Dubai, UAE | Tel # +971 43535071+971 43535071 | website : www.arabianteahouse.co

30
Mar
14

GOZO GARDEN RESTAURANT AT MILLENIUM AIRPORT HOTEL, DUBAI

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When you’re in Dubai either for a brief stopover or a longer stay, you may want to drop by at one of the interesting and delicious hotel food and beverage outlets around – the Gozo Garden located at Millenium Airport Hotel.  I was lucky enough to be invited to experience their BBQ Themed Dinner Buffet followed by a Phil Collins Tribute Show that made one of my first few weekend nights in UAE less ordinary.

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Lobby of Millenium Airport Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Upon the thoughtful recommendation of a fellow Filipino UAE-based blogger, Carla of  My Yellow Bells @ www.myyellowbells.blogspot.ae, whose blog I follow long before I came to Dubai, and with the generous invitation of Mr. Ben Hipolito, the hotel’s  Food and Beverage Administrator,  Gozo Garden  Restaurant and Millenium Airport Hotel, I’m grateful to be there that Thursday night, savored the food and music, and finally got a chance to meet Carla and another Filipino blogger based in Dubai, Rosell of  Kero’s Celebration @ www.mrspinkihan.com. It was nothing but fun evening that ushered our weekend in UAE!

For someone like me who’s so new to Dubai, finding the location of  Millenium Airport Hotel and getting there were not an issue.  I left my flat in Deira at around half an hour past 6 in the evening ; walked my way to take the ever reliable, Dubai Metro from Abu Bakar Al Siddique Station. After swiftly transferring to Red Line at Union Station, I alighted at GGICO Station and strolled to the venue. It only took me less than 20 minutes to reach the Millenium Airport Hotel from Deira via the Dubai Metro. Of course, getting there through private cars, taxi cabs and buses are also an option. It’s that accessible.

Thankfully, the sky and the stars were cooperative that evening; the seemingly odd downpour in Dubai for two consecutive days prior to that night halted on our favor.
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The view from where we sat.

The simple outdoor set up for that Thursday evening highlighted the impressive space of the hotel. The buffet spread was truly enticing!
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The delicious Gozo Garden BBQ themed dinner buffet outdoor.

Assorted slices of cheese, cold cuts and biscuits, a variety of salads, sushi, seafood, baked goodies and soups, plus a few more hors d’ oeuvres, main entrees that include Salmon wrapped in Banana Leaves, Stir Fried Seafoods, Pan Roasted Vegetables in Pesto, Roasted Rack of Lamb with Moroccan Spices, Grilled Hamour with Citrus Sauce and Basil, Roasted Beef and a lot more!  Desserts spread wasn’t overwhelming but a satisfying selection of sweets and fresh fruit slices.  A choice of beverages from wines and beers to fruit juices, coffee and tea were available too to complement everything that evening.

Let my few captures give you a glimpse of how modest but tasteful the spread was.
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Desserts…

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My plates…

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There were a couple of cover artists who were playing good music during the dinner. Their songs from late 80s to early 90s while we’re indulging were so apt to introduce the main show that night.  A Phil Collins Tribute by Andrew James.

His voice did justice to Phil Collins’ hits and I must state, I caught myself clapping frequently. However, it could’ve been better if his repertoire included the classics,  “Against All Odds” and “Separate Lives.” You know how Filipinos can get so sentimental at any given place and time! ;)
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Upcoming shows at Gozo Garden include, Tom Jones Tribute Show on May 1st, and another Tribute Show featuring hits of Lionel Richie on May 29th. You better mark those dates and troop to Gozo Garden if you’re in Dubai!

As for the gastronomic feasts nightly, Gozo Garden offers Latino Samba on Sundays, Mediterranean on Mondays, Oriental on Tuesdays, Out of Africa-themed night on Wednesdays, BBQ every Thursdays, Seafood Galore on Fridays and Arabian Night on Saturdays.  At AED 195 per person with selected house beverages, and AED 250 every Thursday with Tribute Shows, you’re definitely in for something fun and a delightful night!

It was a pleasure finally meeting my fellow bloggers at UAE, Carla and Rosell! Here’s hoping for more meet ups soon! Until next time!

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Happy to meet fellow Filipino UAE-based bloggers, Carla (middle) and Rosell (seated).

Many thanks to Gozo Garden Restaurant and Millenium Airport Hotel for inviting us!

Gozo Garden | Millenium Airport Road Dubai, Airport Road, Casablanca Street, Al Garhoud, PO Box 13018
Dubai, 13018, United Arab Emirates | Telephone : +971 4 702 8888+971 4 702 8888 Fax : +971 4 282 0627 |
website : www.millenniumhotels.ae/millenniumdubai/dining/gozo-garden

>><<

31
Jan
14

SAN JUAN CITY | PUNLAAN SCHOOL’S FUNDRAISING DINNER

I considered it as a special blessing to be invited to a humble place filled with inspiring and encouraging people. Few days before 25th January 2014, I received the invitation via phone call and email, and despite the short notice, I’m glad I never hesitated and gave it an instant green light. The event was called, Heart For A Cause, A Fundraising Dinner for Punlaan School in San Juan, Metro Manila and its young scholars. The Five-Thousand-Pesos-per-plate invitation to the fine dining dinner spearheaded by Chef Babes Austria, a former Executive chef of Malacanan Palace and Taal Vista Hotel, for the Punlaan School was already enticing, and the fact that my only contribution to the event was not financial but rather small deed by capturing the moments on my amateur photos; the event itself was surprisingly meaningful as it moved me, as well as the rest of the esteemed guests to tears.

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Herb Garden of Punlaan School.

The area of Punlaan School, M. Paterno Street in San Juan, isn’t new to me. I passed that street a countless times but I am not aware that there’s a productive school until I attended their Fundraising Dinner. Established in 1975, Punlaan School is offering a Two-Year-Dual Training Scholarship Program in Food and Beverage Services, that provides valuable training exclusively for young women who come from lower-income-sector. It’s very uplifting to note that a former school for helpers has evolved into a vocational-technical institution and tourism training center accredited by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Department of Tourism (DOT).  While it’s not difficult to appreciate that Punlaan School grows not only their very own herb garden that produces important ingredients to every meal they prepare, it is more significant to know that they breed students whose poor lives are transformed gradually as they undergo life-changing studies.

What made the event extraordinary, the scholars of Punlaan School prepared everything from cocktails, main entrees and desserts. The students were all involved from ushering of guests, to serving of meals respectively. And from every inch, they looked and moved professionally!

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Tempura Scallop Mesclun on Sweet Spicy Fresh Mango Sauce.

I was warmly welcomed to the cocktails by Ms. Anne Marie Jacinto, Punlaan School’s Director.

Hors de’oevre with Beringer (yes, my favorite California wines distributed by Happy Living was there to support too!) Sparkling White Zinfandel were served at the cocktails held at the school’s Multi-Purpose Hall. Everything was tasteful.

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Crisp Pawpaw Smoked Fish Cheesy Triangle with Pineapple Moringa Honey Sauce.

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Oven Roasted California Herb Mixed Nuts and Fresh Root Crop Chips with Punlaan Homemade Dip.
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Beringer Sparkling White Zifandel and my plate of bite-sized goodies.

As everyone were ushered in to the dining area at the second floor of the school, I got a chance to sneak inside the school’s chapel to utter some prayers.

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The lobby and the narrow wooden staircase gave me a Malacanan Palace-like vibe enough to heighten my curiosity and fascination with the school, its cause and of course, the dinner itself. The mood was casual, yet I had some hints that there’s a deeper purpose for my attendance.
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Here’s the hallway en route to the classrooms that were transformed to the evening’s dining area.
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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, here are the faces of students who need your support and unconditional assistance, for them to pursue their studies in Punlaan School and fulfill their dreams of helping their own families eventually.

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One of the highlights of my experience was getting a chance to witness how our feast is prepared. I was ushered into the kitchen, et voila! It was so nice to see everyone was working in the chef’s Operating Room efficiently.

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Here’s Chef Babes Austria in her best element! I bet it’s a privilege and so motivating to be under her tutelage.
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It’s beautiful to see young chef-in-the-making, painstakingly setting our salad plates…
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Everyone seemed enjoying their work, and there was no trace of fatigue in spite of the fact that their call time to be in school for the event was 12 hours earlier.
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The dinner started officially as they opened the accordion divider to intentionally expose & introduce the kitchen and the people behind it.

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Introductory speeches from the school authorities were delivered and love songs were rendered by Ms. Roxy Abueg from UP Conservatory of Music. Her voice and renditions of popular and classic hits brought everyone in a more positive mood.

Dinner was served by the scholars themselves. My palates and taste buds sensed nothing but delicious!

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Flowers and Greens on a Bed of Home-made Curved Slivered Atlantic Wild Salmon-Gravlax lightly drizzled with Limoncello Vinaigrette.
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Asian Symphony of Flavors. Clear Broth served with puff twisted bread stick.
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Not on the menu but Soft Shell Crab was served too!  Yummy!

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Poached Baked Fresh Bacalao in spiced milk served with asparagus and foamy Dayap French Vanilla white wine sauce.

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Slow-cooked Roast US Pork Belly stuffed with California Walnuts, with Guava Java Mint Sauce.

I guess everyone, including myself, was not prepared to shed tears on a lovely dinner like this. One by one, while all of us were savoring the meal plate by plate, three remarkable alumni of Punlaan School took the podium and microphone and spoke from their hearts. Michelle Pacheco, who’s  a pioneer and still working with Resorts World Manila, Hazel Berbano, who’s working with Intercontinental Hotel Makati, and Rossel Dequito, who’s working with UCC Coffee, proudly shared their heartwarming and humble beginnings with Punlaan School. All their testimonials proved that despite they all came from poorest of the poor families in Metro Manila, their commitment to rise from their marginalized state by going through their studies successfully, to their hardworking efforts employed at their current work now, are all worth-sharing.

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From left to right : Punlaan School’s Alumni – Michelle Pacheco, Hazel Berbano, and Rossel Dequito.

Rossel, the last of the three speaker-alumni from Punlaan School moved everyone to tears. Her words about how she and her family survived and thrived on their house built on stilts by the sea, swaying with the waves and breeze, made us all realize our blessings – big and small.  She and the other girls from Punlaan School are truly inspiring!

Moving on with the dinner… A uniquely tasting sorbet called, California Raisin Lime (not in photo) was served as palate cleanser in between two courses.

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Grilled US Angus Steak.

Second course was a handsome fillet of prime beef with duet of sauce, au jus and quenelle pistachio cream pomerry mustard, served with baked potato, glazed baby carrot and French beans. The incredibly tasteful slab was paired with Beringer Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. Tasted like a match truly made in Heaven! :)
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The steak was so gorgeous and delicious, I’m glad I immortalized it on this shot… hehehe! 
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Finally but not the least, decadent dessert!
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Sweet Punlaan Harmony Banana-Carrot Pudding with warm Ganache, Lavander infused Creme Anglaise and fresh fruit.

From cocktails, to entrees and dessert, to the morally-uplifting words of the almuni, I came home not only satiated but was reminded to be more grateful for everything and to everyone, to always count my blessings and to share whatever I can to those in need.
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“Heart for a Cause was sponsored by Beringer Wines courtesy of Happy Living, and Schott Zwiesel Stemware courtesy of Garden Barn,Down To Earth, Villa Ignacio Farms Inc., Mida Food Distributor Inc., Dane International Commodities Inc. and PTC.

Punlaan School is funded by voluntary government donations as well as private institutions and individuals. You can help by donating, accommodating women for training, or recruiting school graduates. For more information, log on to www.punlaan.com or call (63-2) 727-0581/82.”

*Special thanks goes out to Ms. Nana Nadal for the invitation.

>><<

27
Jan
14

KETTLE AT SHANGRI-LA PLAZA EAST WING : INSPIRING COMFORT FOOD

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My recent (food) trip to East Wing of Shangri-la Plaza proved that it has become one of the best dining districts not only in Mandaluyong City, but in entire Metro Manila. It’s fertile with upscale and creative restaurants that mostly offer gastronomic treats and joy particularly to those with discriminating taste. I’m glad that I finally got the chance to understand the reason behind why Kettle, a fresh comfort food place, located at its 5th level, continues to draw attention from foodies and casual diners.

While it is easy to appreciate Kettle’s friendly ambiance, relaxed interiors and attentive and efficient service, for they are a perfect combination and an attractive stimuli to the eyes and the palates, it is Chef Chiloy’s culinary expertise that turned Kettle in one corner of East Wing into a sensational restaurant. Every muted ingredient from the plates that we sampled was apparently transformed into an impressive dish!
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Water, Lemon Iced Tea, Green Iced Tea, Peach Iced Tea. Thirst-quenchers!

In a tropical and at times humid Manila atmosphere, Kettle’s beverage menu is absolutely refreshing! My vote goes with Green Iced Tea and Peach Iced Tea (PhP 149+/carafe). Young and kiddie diners, as well as the health conscious ones, will surely be biased with Kettle’s Fresh Fruit Shake; while those with matured preference will certainly be interested with the restaurant’s wine and beer list.

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Pork and Potato Strips.

Pork and Potato Strips (PhP 339+) from the appetizer choices won me in a heart beat. I lost for superlatives to describe those bite-sized and  crunchy pork belly tossed with fresh potato strips, fried without grease miraculously and flavored with fried herbs and red pepper aioli, but it’s actually addictive! It kept us nibbling almost incessantly. I repeat, ADDICTIVE! Go figure.

Here’s a macroscopic shot of that genius potato fries. Believe me, it tastes far better than it looks!

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Another appetizer we had was Baked Brie (PhP 389+).

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Baked Brie.

Served with side salad and balsamic syrup, this puff pastry with forest berries jam appeared really light and interesting but not at par with Pork and Potato Strips as being Kettle’s best appetizer on my book.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

Kettle’s brilliant expression of the usual comfort food, fried chicken left all of us in awe and wonder. From its crispy and lightly battered skin (Sinful. Spells HYPERLIPIDEMIA, I know!), the tender chicken fillets in huge fractions were gloriously seasoned to perfection! They’re beautiful and ultimately delicious sans condiments! However, for complete Kettle experience, you need to dip a chunk of that happiness to its country gravy and drizzle it with cajun honey, toy it in your mouth, swallow smoothly then dunk your fork to those equally tasteful honey glazed cornbread muffins. Bliss! :) For that moment, Kettle’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken (PhP 519+)  melted my worries and stress away and made me forget all the fried chicken versions (including my favorites!) that I’ve tasted from other restaurants and fast food joints here and abroad. It was that sublime!

Hallelujah!

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If Buttermilk Fried Chicken victoriously convinced my heart and soul that there’s logic behind its being famous from Kettle’s menu, Miso Glazed Salmon (PhP 559+) from the menu of entrees placed second on my list.

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Miso Glazed Salmon.

This warm and cold dish of Pan fried Norwegian salmon, marinated cold soba noodles, mango cilantro salsa reminded me silently of my weeks in Tokyo; it must be because of the soba and my undying love for salmon.

I love how Kettle incorporates sandwiches on their menu. Although I understand that it’s neither an economic nor a social priority, it gives the Filipino taste buds that live and thrive on rice meals, a chance to sample Western favorites like Reuben, Angus Beef Burger and more. Indirectly, eating such foreign sandwiches once in a while, may inspire and stimulate the wanderlust in us to dream and travel more and explore the other parts of the globe!

Talking about sandwiches, if you’re into grilled cheese, this one’s for you…

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Kettle Grilled Four Cheese.

It may not look much but this Grilled Four Cheese (PhP 329+) sandwich made of English loaf, Gruyere, Fontina, Cheddar, Parmesan, Sweet Totato Jam, Basil Crunch may seem delightful for those who favor grilled cheese. Best part of it, they served it with Sweet Potato Fries that’s not oily too.

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Shrimp Po’Boy.

It was my first time to take a bite at a Louisiana classic, Shrimp Po’Boy (PhP 419+). This sandwich made of soft Ciabatta roll, Cajun breaded shrimps with remoulade, served with simple but heavenly sweet potato fries was satisfyingly good if you like your food textured with a kick of spice and a subtle play of flavors.

If Miso Glazed Soba from Kettle magically reminded me of my 2 weeks in Tokyo, and Shrimp Po’Boy made me want to explore the ports and restaurants in New Orleans someday, Corned Beef Hash (PhP 519+) is a reminiscence of our days in Las Vegas where we indulged in fantastic breakfast buffets.

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Corned Beef Hash.

What made Kettle’s version of Corned Beef Hash different from those I had in USA ages ago was the fact that it’s loaded with chunky and house-made corned beef and not merely the usual shredded beef strips. One may find it a bit salty, but to people like me who prefer saltiness on food (oops!), this meal served with fried potatoes, fried egg and gravy, with a choice of rice or toasted bread, is another comfort-food-hit!

On the sweets department, Kettle offers a short but effective dessert menu, just enough to satisfy some toothsome craving and end a unforgettable dining experience.

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Banana Cream Pie (PhP 149+).

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Pineapple Upside Down Cake (PhP 189+).

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Caramel Cake (PhP 189+).

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Checkered Cake (PhP 209+).

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Peach Trifle (PhP 269+).

Of the five desserts that we tasted, Checkered Cake and Peach Trifle stood out for me. I found that clever marriage of Red Velvet and Chocolate united in one cake in a checkered fashion a sure winner! It’s very light and far from being irritatingly sweet. Excellent! And I am partial too with Peach Trifle simply because of my preference with peaches. It is noteworthy that Chef Chiloy’s beloved mom, Ms. Vilma Santos (not the famous local actress), employs her very own creative culinary prowess on each dessert-masterpieces at Kettle. Inspiring, isn’t it?

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More than an indulgent meal, I enjoyed common comfort foods made extra-remarkable from Kettle (read : Buttermilk Fried Chicken!); dishes reminiscent of my few travels and those favorites that appeal sensibly to the palates as well as the heart.

When you have a chance, go pamper your taste buds at Kettle!

Have you tried dining at Kettle? How’s your experience? What are your favorites from Kettle?

*Special thanks goes to Chef Chiloy Santos of Kettle and Richard of Tales From The Tummy  for the invitation.

Kettle | 5th Level, Shangri-la Plaza Mall -East Wing | Monday to Sunday, 11:30AM to 9:30PM | Phone No. : (+632) 6547077 | website : http://kettleph.com/

>><<

22
Dec
13

WHERE MY FEET BROUGHT ME IN 2013

It takes a formidable spirit to endure 2013.  From the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan, earthquake and armed conflict in our country, The Philippines, to my personal adversities, we could either dwell on tragedy and misery or choose to rise, become better, and move on. The results will always depend on our decisions.

Yet in so many ways, I consider 2013 as one of my most blessed years. There are so much reasons to celebrate and be grateful for! I was privileged to set foot in few countries that brought me priceless memories and worthwhile experiences. I was fortunate to be invited to some of the luxurious hotels and restaurants in Malaysia, Singapore and Manila. The year was also kind in providing this blog, recognition, online features and citations.

With this photo-essay, allow me to relive and share once more, where my feet took me in 2013. Everything in 2013 reminded me that every moment counts, every step matters. I’m counting blessings.

JANUARY 2013 : CHIANG MAI,  THAILAND

Ringed Beauty, published on July/August 2012 Lonely Planet Magazine Asia
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kids in chiang mai
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FEBRUARY 2013 : LANGKAWI, KEDAH  &  PENANG, MALAYSIA 

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LANGKAWI, KEDAH, MALAYSIA : Our Days in Cenang & Tengah Beaches, Langkawi

Also in February 2013, I was able to blog a Mini-Travel-Guide to George Town, Penang…

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FEBRUARY 2013 : Mini Guide to George Town, Penang : A UNESCO World Heritage Site

MARCH  2013 : KUALA LUMPUR  &  PENANG, MALAYSIA

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MARCH 2013 : Charity Work with Gabby & Malaysian Bloggers in 3 Orphanages in Penang

BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD MITBCA 2013
MARCH 2013 : 2013 Ministry of Tourism Malaysia’s Best Expat Blog Award Winner

APRIL 2013  :  MALACCA, MALAYSIA  &  SINGAPORE

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APRIL 2013 : Random Memories, Happy Thoughts from Melaka

MAY 2013 : SINGAPORE  &  PENANG, MALAYSIA

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MAY 2013 : Singapore River Safari

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MAY 2013 : River Safari, Night Safari & Singapore Flyer :  Courtesy of iVenture Card, Singapore
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MAY 2013 :  Chowrasta Road & Market

JUNE 2013 : MALACCA, MALAYSIA  &  SINGAPORE

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JUNE 2013 :  Mods Cafe Melaka
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JUNE 2013 : Singapore Night Safari

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JUNE 2013 : Singapore Flyer & More

AUGUST 2013 :  KATHMANDU,  BHAKTAPUR,  PATAN, NAGARKOT,  NEPAL

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*Nepal Blog Series includes :

SEPTEMBER 2013 :  MANILA,  PHILIPPINES

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SEPTEMBER 2013  : Back in Manila

OCTOBER 2013 :  PENANG, MALAYSIA

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george town, penang, malaysia
may 9 2013 743pm thursday
OCTOBER 2013 : How Do You Say Goodbye To Malaysia

NOVEMBER 2013 : SINGAPORE

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NOVEMBER 2013 :  Gardens By The Bay Revisited Singapore

DECEMBER 2013 : MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES

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DECEMBER : 2013 Grand Marian Procession, Intramuros, Manila

SPONSORED STAYCATIONS  2013 : PENANG, SINGAPORE, MALACCA, KUALA LUMPUR

I am also thankful to all people who invited me and my family to complimentary hotel accomodation in Malaysia and Singapore this year. I cannot  be grateful enough! Many thanks to :

  • Eastin Hotel Penang, Malaysia
  • Ibis Hotel on Bencoolen, Singapore
  • Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, Malaysia
  • Quayside Hotel & Halia Inc. Restaurant, Malacca, Malaysia
  • The Elizabeth Hotel, Singapore
  • Orchard Parade Hotel, Singapore
  • Somerset Serviced Residences, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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MARCH 2013 : Eastin Hotel Penang
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MAY 2013 : Singapore : Ibis Hotel on Bencoolen
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MAY 2013 : Heritage Wing of E&O Hotel Penang

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eastern & oriental hotel penang at docgelo.com
MAY 2013 : Corner Suite, Victory Annexe Wing, E&O Hotel Penang

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JUNE 2013 : Quayside Hotel & Halia Restaurant Coffee Bar, Malacca

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OCTOBER 2013 : Elizabeth Hotel, Singapore

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OCTOBER 2013 : Orchard Parade Hotel Singapore
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OCTOBER 2013 : Somerset Serviced Residence, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur

COMPLIMENTARY FOOD INDULGENCE : PENANG, SINGAPORE, MANILA

I’m also grateful to the people who sent invitations from restaurants and a few good friends in Penang, Singapore and Manila. Thank you very much to :

  • Macalister Mansion, Penang
  • Sarkies, Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang
  • 1885, Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang
  • Dinner Treat by Dennis in Hakumai & Omakase, Antoinette, Singapore.
  • Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
  • Beringer Wines and Cirkulo Restaurant, Makati City
  • Silk Thai Road, BGC, Taguig City
  • Burger Company, Quezon City
  • Dinner Treats from my Malaysian families in Penang – Mr. Michael & Jasmine, and Mr. Loh & family
  • Lunch & Dinner Treat by great friends, Rob & LG
  • Harina Artisan Bakery & Cafe, Quezon City
  • Sentro 1771, Serendra, BGC, Taguig City

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Torchon of Foie Gras, Crumble, Gastrique Pearls
MARCH 2013 : Macalister Mansion : Tobreck Vertical Wine Dinner
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MARCH 2013 : Sarkies’ Seafood Buffet Dinner Extravaganza, E&O Hotel Penang
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MAY 2013 : 1885 : Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang’s Fine Dining Restaurant

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MAY 2013 :  Singapore : Hakumai Sushi & Omakase | Antoinette French Desserts

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JULY 2013 : Wine & Dine Buffet Dinner at Sarkies, E&O Hotel, Penang
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JULY 2013 : Ramadan Buffet at Eastin Hotel Penang

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OCTOBER 2013 : Farewell Dinner at Sarkies,E&O Hotel Penang
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NOVEMBER 2013 : Two Dinners Hosted by My Malaysian Families

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NOVEMBER 2013 : Lunch & Dinner Treats from Great Friends of 20 Years & Counting
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NOVEMBER 2013 : Beringer Wines at Cirkulo Restaurant, Makati City

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NOVEMBER 2013 : Finest Thai Food at Silk Road, BGC
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NOVEMBER 2013 : Burger Company, Quezon City

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DECEMBER 2013 : Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe, Quezon City

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DECEMBER 2013 : Sentro 1771 Serendra, BGC

  • Special thanks goes out to Malaysia Airlines for sponsoring our family’s PEN-KUL-KTM roundtrip tickets!

Apart from the Best Expat Blog Award from Ministry of Tourism Malaysia for two consecutive years, 2013 also brought me a few more citations and priceless things that boost my self-esteem. Again, many thanks to those few people who believe in this blog.

PINOY TRAVEL BLOGGERS
And fortunately, for the second time, one of the photos I took in Chiang Mai, Thailand was published in 4 pages of the esteemed travel magazine, Lonely Planet Asia last  July 2013.

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JULY 2013 : My Travel Photo Published on 4 Pages of Lonely Planet Asia Magazine

Looking back, no superlatives will be appropriate to describe the places I’ve been to and the people I’ve met. No volume of photos will ever be enough to express the good and bad memories of the journeys I took. Everything and everyone provided me life lessons generously.

docgelo kathmandu nepal

Twenty thirteen has been like no other, yet through it all, one thing remains the same. I opt not to dwell in negative things and be more hopeful for tomorrow. It’s incredibly ecstatic to wonder where my feet will take me in the coming years.

  May we all have a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

>><<

PTB Blog Carnival

*This is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival

for the month of December 2013 entitled,

“The Pinoy Travel Bloggers Closing the Curtains on 2013: Love, Learn and Living”

hosted by Brenna Bustamante of

The Philippine Travelogue.

>><<

08
Dec
13

GASTRONOMIC WEEKEND WITH FRIENDS OF 20 YEARS & COUNTING

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Paella Moriscos, Corazon Filipino-Hispano Cuisine.

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Kangkong dish with Lechon Kawali toppings (requested to be a side dish), Corazon.

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Corazon Iced Tea & Sago’t Gulaman.

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Corazon’s patio with artificial plants : nothing beats freshness! (read my review of the dishes below).
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Artistic display inside East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, November 2013.
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Strawberry Shortcake and a shot of Macchiato, Wicked, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza.

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White Russian Fondue, Brownie, Macchiato, Wicked by Cravings.

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Pistachio on Butter Pecan and Green Mango Sorbet with Bagoong (shrimp paste), Sebastian’s.

garlic bread, balsamic vinegar & olive oil
Garlic Bread, Virgin Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Dip, Chelsea Market & Cafe.

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Seafood Pasta, Chelsea Market & Cafe.

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Pasta Vongole, Chelsea Market & Cafe.

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Best friends since 1993, LG & Rob, at Chelsea Market & Cafe, The Podium, 09 November 2013.

Those were all consumed in just half day dining! We were overwhelmed too of what we ate that Saturday! It was the weekend when LG and I met again our best friend, Rob of SensoryReplays.com as he came home for his break from his medical work abroad. It’s somewhat customary for Rob to treat his friends over sumptuous meals and coffee during his days off.  The universe and the stars were once again, in favor of good times as Rob treated us for lunch, desserts and coffee, LG paid the dinner for us while I was the lucky man who spent nothing on food for the nth time! Hallelujah! Hehehe!  Seriously, these two people are just more than being supportive and understanding of my situation; they know my story and my family more than anyone else. And they sure know to please my palates with delightful goodies! My only role that day was to suggest the food places.

I was literally laughing at our meeting place in Shangri-La Plaza mall, after Rob handed me a brown bag. Inside was the biggest cup of Big Chill fruit shake and a straw. It was like I arrived at a resort with a welcome drink! :D

So how did I find the food? Lunch at Corazon Filipino-Hispanic Cuisine was less satisfying. Perhaps, I need another chance to dine there for my taste buds to sense the dishes better. I wished their Seafood Paella (one of my favorites!) or Paella Moriscos had more seafoods, more than just its toppings. My friends  noted that the beans on the paella appeared like frozen (wrinkled) before it was used, and not as fresh as it should be. They also found Torres, the Fried Tilapia dish topped with ripe Mango Salsa (not in photo) less fresh-tasting; the same with the Kangkong dish topped with Lechon Kawali. What saved the day, in my opinion, were the Seafood Tinola (not in photo) and the thirst-quenching beverages we ordered.

After much needed bladder break from indulging on bottomless Corazon Iced Tea that tasted a bit like fruit punch, we moved to another restaurant, still at the East Wing of Shangri-La Plaza, to have desserts and coffee. I suggested for us to try, Wicked by Cravings. Personally, I liked the desserts we sampled but I fell short with just a shot of Macchiato.

Around 3 or 4PM, we walked our way to The Podium. Rob and I had ice cream from Sebastian’s while LG passed up. Knowing he’s eclectic and adventurous, I wasn’t surprised when Rob opted for Green Mango Sorbet with Bagoong (shrimp paste) while I was content with my safe choice of Sebastian’s Pistachio on Butter Pecan. Delicious! I didn’t miss to taste Rob’s chosen flavor and it really tasted like very Pinoy! Something nice, creative and new for a sorbet but I honestly, would not make it a favorite.

Our dinner treat from LG was at Chelsea Market & Cafe, also at The Podium. Since Rob is a religious pescetarian, we remained in favor of seafood dishes; we enjoyed Pasta Vongole, Seafood Pizza, garlic breads and washed everything down with iced tea. Everything was tasteful; such a perfect ending to a day of friendship and good times.

I am grateful.

*This is NOT a sponsored post. 

*Corazon Filipino-Hispanic Cuisine | 4F, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, Shaw Blvd, cor EDSA, Mandaluyong
*Wicked by Cravings | 5F, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, Shaw Blvd, cor EDSA, Mandaluyong
*Sebastian’s | The Podium, Mandaluyong
*Chelsea Market & Cafe | GF The Podium, Mandaluyong.

>><<

01
Dec
13

HARINA ARTISAN BAKERY CAFE : NEW DELICIOUS ON THE BLOCK

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Admittedly, I’m an adult who still feeds myself like a child. Sigh. :)  I like sampling a volume of foods in considerable minute amounts to satisfy my taste buds and my always-hungry-appetite.  I never lose that wonder and usually smile my widest when delightful dishes pass my palates. Anything delicious makes my tummy happier, calms my mind and eventually, melts my worries away!

Last Saturday, 30 November 2013, I consider myself lucky blessed to be invited to Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe to sample and review their offerings while they are still on their soft opening. Initially, I thought, this new food establishment simply bakes and sells breads and pastries that’s no different with other commercial bakeries and coffee shops around. I believe I underestimated them! My apologies. :) It’s amazing to learn that people behind it still opt to make their breads hand rolled, bake everything the traditional way, and avoid the use of any chemical additives! That’s absolutely good reason for the many homeowners living within White Plains and nearby areas, and people who usually pass by Katipunan Avenue Extension in Quezon City, to be happier!  That’s a reason to drop by Harisan Artisan Bakery Cafe!

Like a child who craves for something cheesy and chocolatey, I loved how Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe enticed all of us with its first appetizer. Bread sticks with cheese and chocolate dips!
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Bread Sticks with Cream Cheese and Chocolate Dips.

Their bread sticks aren’t perfectly molded and shaped like those commonly bought from the groceries because it’s not machine-made but as mentioned, hand rolled. They’re available in Parmesan (PhP 120), Onion & Sour Cream (PhP 100), Plain Cheese (PhP 100) and Milk & Butter (PhP 100) flavors. Take your pick. Believe me, these bread sticks are to-die-for! They’re fine sans dips actually; but even made fancy with cream cheese and yes, chocolate dips! Yummy!

If the bread sticks tickled my taste buds, the second appetizer was more impressive!  It’s called Bloomin’ Bread and it appears like a flowery humongous cheesy loaf! The incredible size cetainly fits the appetite of an entire family of 5 or a group of friends! Definitely to share!

Bloomin’ Bread. Crusty pull-apart Italian loaf filled with basil puree and an assortment of melted cheese. Served with a dip of balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil.

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Bloomin’ Bread.

To wash everything down, they served Signature Iced Tea (and coffee after meal).  Thirst-quencher! I think I had 3 refills! Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe also has on their menu, Red Iced Tea, Frozen Hot Chocolate (hmmm!) and Apple Pie Smoothie.
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Signature Iced Tea.

Then, the brunch became heavier gradually.  Here we go!

Chicken Caesar Sandwich. Grilled Cajun chicken & lettuce in Caesar dressing topped with poached egg, bacon and parmesan cheese on baguette.

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Chicken Caesar Sandwich.

Before anyone could make any query or imagine crazy things, I’d like to make a disclaimer that all plates that appear on photos on this blog post were shared and mostly, bread dishes were sliced for sharing. You don’t think I consumed everything, do you? Remember, I emphasized, I’m a grown up with a childish appetite! :)

And what do I think of  that Chicken Caesar Sandwich? Excellent! The bread is crusty but soft inside, chicken for me, was well-seasoned, balanced with lettuce with Caesar’s dressing, poached egg was nice, bacon was crispy and salty – the way I like it -oops! And it’s served with greens and fries. A whole meal in one!

Moving on, one of the most sinful french toasts landed on our table! Oh-em-gee! :P

Strawberry-Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast. Cheesecake-filled brioche topped with whipped cream and strawberry preserves.

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Strawberry-Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast.

Thankfully, before reaching the age of 37, I learned to make French toasts during my years abroad with my family, but I only dipped them in milk, sugar and eggs before frying. This Strawberry-Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast from Harina’s definitely a must-try! I enjoyed a fraction of it. If you’re a kid or a kid-at-heart who loves strawberry and cheesecake and french toasts, this sweet creation is for you!

Honestly, at this point, I was discreetly struggling with my satiety center in my hypothalamus that was trying to tell me that I’m already full.  So I tried my very best to convince my neurons in my brain that I needed to taste and eat some more. However, it must have been begging me to stop eating. *insert virtual laughs here*  For whatever it’s worth, I savored more! And I liked it! :D

Yet another bacon-bread was brought to our table. I repeat, BACON (Read my lips : Praise Him!) !!!  People from Harina called it Breakfast Tart.

Breakfast Tart. Puff pastry shell with cream cheese, spinach, baked tomatoes, bacon and eggs.


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Breakfast Tart.

I loved everything on that Breakfast Tart. Sue me! Guilty as charged! :D

Then one variety of french toast wasn’t enough. So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, *drum roll, please*, presenting…

Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Stuffed French Toast. Wheat honey walnut French toast stuffed with creamy peanut butter, sliced banana and chocolate spread.

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Peanut Butter, Banana & Chocolate Stuffed French Toast.

I didn’t dunk my fork into that Peanut Butter, Banana & Chocolate Stuffed French Toast, not because I don’t like its flavor; Heaven knows I love peanut butter, banana and chocolates and French toasts, hehehe! but I needed to rest for a while, took some photos, walked around a bit, went for a bladder break (not bowel break, you naughty you!), did little things to aid my digestion. Surely, I can bet my last cent on it, that French toast is also decadent!

An apple-salad-sandwich was served next.


Waldorf Sandwich.  Flaky pastry with filling of chicken, red and green apples, celery and chopped walnuts in mayonnaise.

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Waldorf Sandwich.

While my 4 table mates were sharing a piece of that Waldorf Sandwich, I refused with a smile. Again, not because I didn’t think it would satisfy me but I’m already satiated. Hashtag : Grateful! :)

Like other meals that call for sweet ending, dessert plates were served. Miraculously, I gained my appetite. Ding, ding, ding!

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Strawberry Cream Brownies.

My verdict about Strawberry Cream Brownies? Mouthwatering. Luscious. Heavenly!

Just when I thought the menu for the day was all served, and while I was sipping my cup of coffee, the friendly and attentive staffs of Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe came out like Santa’s elves, bearing plates with that overhyped offspring of croissants and doughnuts. Cronuts! They call it Laminated Donuts in slightly smaller pieces compared to its actual retail size. I asked one of the crew if it’s baked or fried (as I just tasted baked cronut recently from another famous store), the staff replied to me in a blink that their cronuts are fried! Hooray! Not as healthy as baked, but in my own opinion, more flaky and divine!

Guess what flavor I dunked my fork into?
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Cronuts! Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Blueberry Cheesecake Laminated Donuts!

I only tried the Peanut Butter Cronuts and I fell in love! Need I say more?

Other than those that were served to us to sample, Harina Cafe has All-Day-Breakfast menu that includes classic favorites like :

  • Eggs Benedict, Biscuit and Gravy, Vegetable and Cheese Omelet, Pork ADOBO & Kesong Puti Omelet (Love to try that!),
  • Adobo Pulled Pork, Pancakes, Muesli with Fruits, Biscuits, Muffin Sampler (3 flavors),
  • Sides of eggs, bacon, breakfast sausages, Canadian ham, plain rice, garlic rice, French fries.
  • Big Breakfast (PhP 290) – Vegetable and Cheese Omelet, A choice of Canadian ham, BACON (I love ‘em!), or Breakfast sausage and roasted pineapple, served with toast.
  • They also serve STEAK and EGGS reasonably priced at PhP 450.
  • Hot beverages like Cafe Americano, Cafe Latte, Cafe Mocha, Cappuccino, Hot Chocolate and Hot Tea.
  • Cold beverages mentioned above,
  • Rice Meals like Homemade Corned Beef (I love Corned Beef too!), Lukban LONGANISA (FTW!!!), Bangus Belly,
  • And an assortment of breads (from Pandesal, Spanish breads, muffins and more) and cakes!

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Cinnamon Rolls.

The child in me would like to thank God for making my Saturday, the last day of November this year, a very pleasant one. Amen!

And to Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe, Maraming salamat po!

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Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe | 118 Katipunan Avenue Extension, White Plains, Quezon City 1110 | Store Hours : Monday to Sunday, 6AM to 9PM | Phone No. (+63-2) 3526721 | facebook : https://www.facebook.com/harinacafe | Follow them on Instagram : @harinacafe

Thank you, Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe! Special thanks goes out to Ms. Nana for the invite! :)

>><<

27
Nov
13

FINEST THAI FOOD AT SILK ROAD THAI BISTRO

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I always appreciate it when familiar dishes are transformed into something extraordinary; taking the entire dining experience to a higher notch.

When I brought my feet inside Silk Road Thai Bistro at BGC, Taguig City last Tuesday, 26 November, 2013 for dinner, upon the invitation of Chef Cecille Chang, via my fellow blogger, Sumi of www.thepurpledoll.net, my palates were discreetly excited to sample their  versions of Thai dishes and compare it with authentic ones I’ve tasted from a few trips to Thailand.

For a few seconds, my memories of personal and family travels to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai flashed in a blink. Devouring Pad Thai and Pork Satay at a hawker stall in Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, savoring sticky rice and ripe mango and more Pad Thai in the middle of a night bazaar in Chiang Mai, indulging Thai salad and more in Klonghae Floating Market in Hat Yai, Southern Thailand, and the list goes on.

It took no time for my senses to recognize that Silk Road makes Thai dining experience more interesting and extra-special. From its minimalist yet elegant interiors, simple but impressive bar, a wide variety of dishes on the menu, to its casual to romantic ambiance, I set my expectations a little higher.

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When the restaurant manager, Ruben handed me the beverage menu, I asked him of his recommendation. I trusted his suggestion and settled with a rum-based cocktail called, Noni Kiss.

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Noni Kiss. 

I understood why Noni Kiss is one of the favorites from Silk Road’s menu.  Rich and creamy with hints of almond flavor and subtle sweetness on top, then a light rum’s kick at the finish!

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Noni Kiss. White Rum, Amaretto, Half Cream, Noni Syrup, garnished with Red Candy Shavings.

Sumi tried Silk Road’s Thai Milk Tea. What’s a Thai meal without it?

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Thai Milk Tea.

It was a privilege to dine with Silk Road’s owner, Chef Cecille Chang who made my fellow bloggers, Sumi, Jonel and Marjorie  and I satiated with her food, and more so, with her fascinating travel and dining stories. I personally learned a lot from our casual conversation as she started introducing her dishes plate by plate. Never I expected we’d talk about her days in Penang, while she’s learning authentic Peranakan cooking from no less than the authority in the island whom I personally met, Ms. Pearly Kee, to Chef’s Cecille’s frequent trips to Thailand to further study and master Thai cuisine, to random issues involving relationships! Her creative, passionate, adventurous and lovely personality, not to forget – she’s one of the most gorgeous chefs I’ve met to date, are a reflective of every dishes and drinks they offer at Silk Road!

We started lightly with a traditional Thai appetizer, Mieng Kham.

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Mieng Kham.

I may have gone to Bangkok thrice, Hat Yai thrice and Chiang Mai once, but those few trips weren’t enough for me to try all traditional Thai snacks and meals. Funny that my first time to eat this food wrapped in chaphlu leaves was in Silk Road!  And did my taste buds like it?  Yes, but thankfully, they served glass of ice-cold water as the flavors of shallots, shrimps, garlic, and chilies exploded intensely! What a way to start an engaging feast!

Next on our table was Silk Road’s Soft Shell Crab Roll.

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Soft Shell Crab Roll with mustard leaf, rice noodles and herbs in thin rice paper.

I may be biased in saying that I loved this appetizer because soft shell crab is a favorite. But apparently, it’s textured, delicious and well plated!

Third to land on our table was another personal favorite, Pad Thai. To be fair with it, I tasted their version before adding sugar, crushed peanuts, soy sauce, vinegar and chilies. I was vocal to Chef Cecille that her Pad Thai was not oily unlike the usual ones we tried in Thailand before, and it’s tasteful enough even sans condiments.

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Pad Thai. Rice noodles, pork, shrimps, egg and bean sprouts.

Another entree we tried was Siam Chicken Wrap.  We were told that this dish is a hit to many Thai and Chinese patrons of Silk Road. It’s a bit spicy but becomes balanced as its eaten wrapped with lettuce.

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Siam Chicken Wrap. Crispy noodles, lettuce, and chili.

Chef Cecille was also sincere and generous in sharing her personal favorite among the many Thai dishes on her menu. According to her, she can have Chicken Basil from a simple store, any time by the beach in Thailand to anywhere as this dish is not difficult to love.  Her version’s just right; there’s no overwhelming taste.

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Chicken Basil.

Tables were turned figuratively when the gorgeous chef asked us of our favorite entree. My fellow bloggers voted for Lamb Shank Massaman while I favored it as the next best thing to Silk Road’s Siamese Pork Belly.
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Lamb Shank Massaman. Served with crispy noodles, sweet potatoes and shallots.

Slowly cooked to perfection for 8 hours, this has to be one of the best lamb dishes I’ve tasted! Very tender as it actually falls off the bone; no-aftertaste! Highly Recommended!

As I liked Lamb Shank Massaman from Silk Road, I found their Siamese Pork Belly more sublime! Think of the usual Filipino favorite Grilled Liempo but this one’s deliciously different! Served piping hot (try to slightly contract your eye muscles and look at the next photo, you might appreciate its smoke) on a somewhat-pedestal filled with charcoal, adorned with banana leaves, abaca rope and an orchid. Visually dramatic, enticingly good!
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Siamese Pork Belly.

This Siamese Pork Belly’s a champion for me! And why? It’s a serving of the most tender pork ribs and belly strips, marinated with Mekhong Whiskey, cinnamon and caramel then grilled. I repeat, grilled with cinnamon and caramel! That heavenly!

Our intimate Tuesday Thai dinner perfectly ended with coffee (some had tea) and toothsome desserts.
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Chocolate Pudding with Mango Ice Cream and Mango Sauce.
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Takhoo Thai. Tapioca pearl pudding topped with coconut custard.

So next time you find yourself around Bonifacio Global City, craving for some fantastic Thai dishes  for lunch or dinner, that will not cost you an arm and leg, or perhaps when you’re in the mood for some drinks, head on to Silk Road Thai Bistro and let me know of what you think. ;)
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Silk Road Thai Bistro | Net Quad Corporate Center, Shop H, 4th Avenue corner 31st Street, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City | Operating hours : 11AM-3PM (lunch); 6PM-2AM (dinner) | facebook : https://www.facebook.com/silkroadthaibistro

*Special thanks to Chef Cecille Chang for the invitation and of course, to my fellow bloggers, Sumi, Jonel and Marjorie.

>><<

23
Nov
13

SENSORY FEAST x BERINGER WINES

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Meeting a Winemaster Emeritus doesn’t happen on a daily basis. More so, to sit beside him and to know a thing or two, over a sumptuous meal, where everything was almost paired with elegant, balanced and rich wines.

Last Friday, 22 November 2013, my lunch was an extraordinary one at Cirkulo Restaurant in Makati. I was fortunate to catch things up with two women that I’ve known for few years. I was even more blessed to have an opportunity to dine with them again, and meet few people, together with Beringer Winemaster Emeritus, Mr. Ed Sbragia from California, who was brought to Manila by Happy Living Philippines, the exclusive importer and distributor of Beringer wines. So glad to rekindle my limited wine-and-food-pairing-appreciation skills!

The engaging meal started with a very subtle Beringer Chardonnay 2012, bread and herbed butter. Our casual talk with Ed Sbragia became more interesting as he spoke a bit of how Beringer’s vineyard in Napa Valley was put up 137 years ago, and how he worked his way, mastering every factor that could contribute to the making of a great wine, to his inspiring tales of being the Beringer’s winemaker who fulfilled his lifelong dream of establishing his very own small winery. He shared a lot of fascinating stories on how grapes are put into bottles.

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Beringer Chardonnay 2012 Napa Valley.

“Beringer Chardonnay 2012 Napa Valley. Refreshing, crisp citrus notes accentuates this lively Chardonnay. A medium, rounded mouthfeel is highlighted with flavors of lemon, meringue and a pleasing acidity.”

Then everyone in our intimate group became even more privileged when the chef behind the delightful dishes at Cirkulo (also of Azuthai, MilkyWay Cafe and Tsukiji restaurants) found time to briefly introduce his masterpieces. Apparently, Chef J. Gamboa‘s culinary expertise worked seamlessly with all Beringer wines. The wines we sampled didn’t overpower his dishes, making an enticing and harmonious gustatory experience!

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Left to Right : Beringer Winemaster Emeritus, Ed Sbragia, Chef J Gamboa and media person, Paula.

Chef J. Gamboa explained his first offering – 65 Degree Egg with Cabeza de Cerdo. It’s a clever presentation of the local favorite pulutan, Sisig, basically from pig’s head. However, its taste and serving would make anyone crave for more!

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65 Degree Egg with Cabeza de Cerdo. Paired with Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir 2011.

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Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir 2011.

Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir 2011. Bright ruby in color and displays ripe currant flavors rounded out by aromas of cedar and spice. This wine has immediate fruit-forward flavors that balances well with the toasty smokiness of the oak.”

That flavorful Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir 2011 was also paired with Chef J. Gamboa’s platter of Jamon Iberico, Salchichon, Chorizo Iberico, Quezo Manchego. Wine and cheese and meat platter tasted like match made in heaven! :)

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Jamon Iberico, Salchichon, Chorizo Iberico, Queso Manchego.

Next up was something fibrous!

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Insalata Gorgonzola with Apples, Walnuts, Pickled Carrots, Gorgonzola Cheese.

Right after the salad, we were served with Patatas Riojanas or Braised Potatoes with Chorizo Sausages, paired with Ed’s very own vineyard’s pride – the Sbragia La Promessa Zinfandel 2010.
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Sbragia La Promessa Zinfandel 2010.

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Sbragia Family Vineyards La Promessa Zinfandel 2010 Dry Creek Valley. With aromas of wild blackberry, raspberry and pomegranate that carry through the flavors, accompanied by notes of brown sugar, molasses, vanilla bean and cocoa. This is a rich, juicy wine  with mouth-filling, forward fruit, a streak of acid that keeps the wine structured, and moderate tannins that make for a nice smooth finish.”

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Patatas Riojanas. Braised Potatoes with Chorizo Sausages.

The main entree was the most glorious of  ‘em all! For the record, it’s the most delicious lamb dish that landed on my taste buds. It’s so tender and flavorful yet, no after-taste unlike the usual of its kind.

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Cordero Lechal Al Horno. Roast Suckling Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary and Chimichurri Sauce.

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Paella Montana. Rice with Portabella Mushrooms, Asparagus, Garlic and Truffle Oil.

I was honestly controlling my appetite to eat more of that Cordero Lechal Al Horno. It’s satiatingly good particularly when served with Cirkulo’s Paella Montana, plus paired with Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009!

Hallelujah! :)

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Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.

Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Napa Valley. This presents aromas of ripe blackberry, sweet pastry and espresso, accented by hints of lavender, cedar and graphite. The palate is concentrated and dense with flavors of dark fruit and spice notes. A rich texture and mouth-coating tannins linger in the elegant finish.”

Desserts were served hot and divine!

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Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake with Liquid Center.

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Warm White Chocolate Bread Pudding.

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Baked Brie with Dried Fruits, Nuts and Caramel.

I took the effort to discreetly find any fault at what was served to us but I failed. Every dish paired with wine was great! Every minute spent was intelligent and delicious! It was indeed a sensory feast!

The few guests from the media including yours truly, were given a bottle of Beringer Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011 each, that came with a free corkscrew. We didn’t miss the chance of having THE Beringer Wine God, Ed Sbragia sign our wines!

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Beringer Winemaster Emeritus Wine God, Ed Sbragia signing my bottle!

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My loot was autographed! I was a fan after the lunch!

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Thanks, Mr. Ed Sbragia! It’s a pleasure meeting you! Thanks to Ms. Nana Nadal for taking this photo.

Beringer Wines are served in major hotels and restaurants here in the Philippines. Among the retail outlets that carry the brand are Cav Wine Bar, Gourdo’s, S&R Membership Shopping, Unimart, RustansSupermart, SM Supermarket, Landmark Supermarket, Metro Gaisano Supermarket, The Tinder Box in Cebu, Culinary Connection/La Vetta Restaurant in Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo Supermarket and Altura’s in Bohol. Email info@happylivingwines.com or log on to http://happylivingwines.biz/  for more information.

*Special thanks goes out to Ms. Kathy Yao-Santos, the Marketing Director and COO of Happy Living Philippines and Ms. Nana Nadal for the invitation.

Cirkulo Restaurant | 900 Arnaiz Avenue (Pasay Road) corner Paseo de Roxas, Makati City 1200 Philippines| website : http://www.elcirkulo.com/

>><<

20
Nov
13

HOME IS WHERE THE MOST DELICIOUS FOOD IS!

max's dessert sampler
Dessert Sampler.  Believe me, it’s more toothsome than it looks!

That enticing sampler platter came with sweet portions of :

  • Ube Creme Decadence (smooth, light and creamy eggless custard filled with purple yam or ube jam and topped by ube cake crumbs),
  • Buco Pandan (Coconut and pandan strips, green jelly cubes or gulaman and tapioca).
  • Leche Flan (Creme caramel),
  • Cream Brownie Ala Mode topped with vanilla ice cream.

max's chopsuey
Chopsuey.

max's chicken sisig
Chicken Sisig.

max's kare kare
Kare-kare (Beef or Ox tail Stew in Peanut Sauce).

max's fried chicken
Spring Fried Chicken.

max's adobo fried rice
Adobo Fried Rice.

my family
Daddy, my brother, Mac, Mommy and me.

When the Overseas Filipino Worker in me came home last month, the happiest parts of my body were my tongue and my stomach! Although we cooked and ate Filipino dishes at our apartment in Penang, nothing beats eating everything you want in the Philippines!

As you may know, Filipino restaurants almost don’t exist in Penang, so you cannot blame me if I had so much craving for authentic Pinoy favorites.  That craving was satisfied a few days after I got home from Malaysia when I had weekend lunch with my parents, and one of my brothers in a Filipino restaurant that’s not only considered a family favorite but also default choice on rare occasions that we go out.

We simply indulged over Chopsuey, Sizzling Chicken Sisig, Kare-kare which is on top of my list of favorites, a signature Spring Fried Chicken, and my brother, Mac suggested we have to sample Adobo Fried Rice (fried rice with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, tomatoes and salted egg slices) that I found delicious too, although I thought it’s a bit heavy when paired with those viands, thus we also ordered cups of plain rice. Carbo-loading, I know! It was a hearty lunch just before we glue our eyes watching the movie, Thor, The Dark World.

If you’re from the Philippines too, I bet you’re so familiar with my family’s default choice of food place! Can you name it? Do we have the same favorite? What are your favorite Pinoy dishes?

>><<

17
Nov
13

PENANG | THANK YOU TO MY MALAYSIAN FAMILIES!

Sometimes, random moments happen that you wish you could freeze and savor them longer, before they become a beautiful memory. :)

On my last hours in Penang (prior heading to Kuala Lumpur for 3 days, then finally off to Manila after living and working in Malaysia as a Medical Lecturer for 3 years), I am very grateful to be with not one, but two Malaysian families, who unbelievably did so much for us. Call me sentimental fool or anything, but I was literally moved to tears with their gestures until the very last minute I spent in Butterworth.

Despite I humbly denied and simply thanked them for their offer to help us haul more than 100 kilos of luggages and whatnot, they even personally volunteered to drive us (my mom, maternal aunt and I) to the bus station that night.

My apartment-owner, Mr. Loh with his wife and mother-in-law arrived after 9PM of October 16th. He came not only to collect the keys to his apartment that served as my second home for 2 years (I lived in another on my first year in Malaysia), but he generously helped me carry loads to the other block, where one of the few of my closest friends and Filipino colleague, Dr. Jane stays.

I requested Dr. Jane to kindly facilitate the pick-up of some of our things, as we underestimated what needs to be sent home via LBC courier (Weeks before that, we already sent 2 biggest LBC boxes home, and the 32″ LCD TV, but we needed to unload further, hence, we left our things for another LBC box to my colleague that night for pick up from Penang, and we had to pay and send another huge LBC box to Manila via LBC-Kuala Lumpur branch).

Mr. Loh was there to help.

He left his family at his apartment and helped us carry our loads to the two taxi cabs we rented.

As the lift went down from 10th floor to the ground, it dramatically opened to the sight of Ms. Jasmine and Sir Michael who were already standing there, waiting to go up to meet us.

Ms. Jasmine and Sir Michael were Gabby’s former school Principal and teachers in Butterworth. Words could not express my personal gratitude to them, as they did so much beyond anyone’s expectations. They were there with me all throughout my difficulties in Penang.

I told Mr. Loh that although we really appreciate his offer for him to drive us to the bus station (which Ms. Jasmine and Mr. Michael also offered), we found it better to take 2 taxi cabs instead, so they can go home early. I bid him goodbye and thanked him well. Vividly, I recall his last words were about welcoming me again in his home, if and when chance allows me to revisit Penang.

While Ms. Jasmine and Sir Michael followed our taxi cabs to the Penang Sentral bus station and stayed with us until past 12 midnight.

Yes, they stayed with us until few minutes past midnight.

When it started to rain, we told them they may want to go home, as our bus was already late to our 12:15AM Penang-KL-trip.

They brought us Coke, and even asked if we wanted some sandwiches to bring to our night trip.

More than what they provided me and my family, the couple also gave me ang pao, chocolates and tea bags to take home.

These were the things  that happened as we departed Penang. But for 2 years that I’ve known them, Ms. Jasmine and Sir Michael extended support and concern, at most of the time without me asking, despite and in spite of everything. God bless them more so they can continue to be a blessing to others! 

I shall never forget these people for as long as I live. They were neither hypocrites nor judgmental people. They’re my family in Malaysia.

Picture this – When our bus arrived at the station before 1AM, the rain became more intense.

I carried our bags and luggages one by one and arranged them inside the compartment. It was raining hard. In spite of the fact that my aunt held an umbrella and tried her best to assist me, I became fully soaked. I quickly found my seat inside the airconditioned bus, with my entire self dripping. Chilling.

I waited for two hours until the bus reached its stopover for passengers’ bladder break in Ipoh. It took me two hours before I get to change to dry and clean clothes. It was the longest two hours of my life.

Two days before that unforgettable night, Mr. Loh and his family fetched us from our apartment, brought us to a a local Chinese restaurant and treated us to a very modest and heartwarming dinner.

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The very first frog dish I ate! Not bad. Actually, tasteful!

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Delicious tofu dish, Crispy lemon chicken, Grouper fish dish, and a fish soup. Everything satisfying!
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Mr. Loh (in black shirt), his daughter (in pink shirt), Mrs. Loh and her parents. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

A week before the dinner treat from Mr. Loh and his family, my other Malaysian family, Ms. Jasmine and Sir Michael brought us to a similar feast in one of their favorite local Chinese eatery. It was overwhelming!

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Ms. Jasmine, Sir Michael and me.

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From left to right:  My maternal aunt, my one & only mom, and Ms. Jasmine.

There are more stories between me and my Malaysian families in Penang, that made me a better person now.

So if there’s one special reason to go back to Penang in the near future, it’s to see them again and thank them once more.

>><<

30
Oct
13

PENANG | FAREWELL DINNER AT SARKIES, E&O HOTEL

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The elegant yet welcoming lobby of Victory Annexe Wing, Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

16 October 2013. Wednesday.  Sarkies at Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang. My second to the last day in Penang after living and working there for more that 3 years was made extraordinarily memorable!  Why?  Simply because the BEST and the most luxurious heritage hotel in Penang, and dare I say the entire Malaysia perhaps, invited me to a farewell dinner with people who helped me with everything in Penang.  Admittedly, I was overwhelmed!  The feeling was surreal!

If you’re following this blog, you must have read that my family and I were fortunately invited by E&O Hotel Penang several times this year and surprisingly, I felt so valued and so at home not only with their suite, restaurants but more so with their warmest and friendliest staff.  I really appreciate everything!

I remember, it’s March of this year when we first experienced Sarkies’ Seafood Buffet Dinner Extravaganza that’s offered every Wednesday at E&O.  It remains one of our most remarkable and delicious indulgent moments to date!  And from then on, we spent more fondest memories at E&O.  Consequently, I cannot put into words how grateful I am for being invited again to savor a delightful feast at Sarkies!

Having dined at some of the premier hotel buffets in the island, I can justly say that Sarkies at E&O provides its diners the freshest and the most flavorful seafood dishes at a very affordable rates that can absolutely challenge any 5-star-hotel-buffets in Manila!

Doors open at 7PM for buffet dinner but we managed to be there a bit earlier so I got photos of the spread before they were refilled.  Enjoy the photos and control yourself not to drool! Hehehe! :D

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It’s always nice to go back and find improvements to appreciate!

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Why, hello there, roast duckies! :)

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Ice sculptures at the freshest seafood station were an absolute visual delight!

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Something NEW at Sarkies Seafood Extravaganza Buffet : Chinese!

And then there were more choices to grill. Care for some salmon on the teppan or some sausages on the grill?

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Chicken Satay is a must-eat when in Malaysia! Dip in in peanut sauce & you’ll be in cloud-9 !

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Oysters Rockefeller. Yummy!

What makes Sarkies at E&O Penang Eat-All-You-Want-Dinner so worth it?
The freshest imported and local SEAFOODS of course!

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Alaskan Crab Legs : Always a feast!

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I had the privilege of meeting Chef Petr and Ms. Eileen of Eastern & Oriental again, and they proudly showed me another impressive addition to the Sarkies spread. Try to look at its claws and go figure!

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SPANNER CRAB, imported from Australia no less!

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Hey, Duo of Gravlax, we meet again! Call me a bit weird but I liked its saltiness!

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That’s a huge fish, isn’t it? My mom tried it and said it’s tasteful!

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I’m not a fan of crayfish but salmon? I love salmon served in any way!

I’d like to thank E&O Hotel for allowing me to enjoy the savory eat-all-you-want dinner at Sarkies once more with my family and the people I considered my family in Penang. They know me more than you can imagine and had expressed priceless concern and unconditional generosity to me and my family until our last minutes in Penang.  They’re my Malaysian family! I cannot be thankful enough!

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From left-to-right : My maternal aunt, my one & only mom, & Ms. Jasmine (Gabby’s school principal in Penang).

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My Malaysian family (from Right to Left) : Sir Michael, Ms. Jasmine, their son, Ethan & relative, Jacinta.

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Glad to bring my mom to Sarkies at Eastern & Oriental Hotel! Thank you so much, E&O!

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With Ethan (Gabby’s friend and former schoolmate), my aunt & mom.

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We’re all happy diners at Sarkies!

Other than seafood dishes, there were a lot more to sample from local and continental options that I failed to capture.

Now, let’s continue the indulgence.  Desserts, anyone?

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So many cakes, so little time! Hehehe! These bite-sized carrot-pistachio cakes were really good!

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Everything’s delicious!  They’re more toothsome than they look on my photos!

I intentionally skipped lunch and afternoon snack (or what they call in Malaysia, High Tea) to empty my stomach for this feast. *Kidding!* Seriously, here’s a shameless display of what I ate.

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First went to the Noodle Station, chose my ingredients & asked the chef to whip everything up.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, meet my first plate that sumptuous evening…

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My version of Penang’s Hokkien Mee with seafood galore! I loved it!

And then there were more plates to savor!  Thank you, Lord! :)

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Salmon Sashimi and Duo of Gravlax. Does this reveal I’m a salmon-monster? Hahaha!

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And my love affair with Japanese lives on…

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Twinings’ Jasmine Tea made everything so perfect! Can’t deny it aids in digestion too!

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Spanner crab from Australia, Alaskan crab legs, and everything nice!

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Jacinta and Ethan! Happy to share the dining table with them!

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Roasted Beef with Mushroom Sauce. Beautiful! I missed Gabby as this is one of his favorites at Sarkies!

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When in Penang, must eat Oyster Omelet. I paired it with Roasted Duck & its sauce. I’m lost for superlatives!

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Char Koay Teow. It’s my ultimate favorite Malaysian dish and I tasted Sarkies’ version a few times but this one’s a letdown that evening. The rice noodle didn’t taste fresh; we reported it to the staff and the head waiter immediately apologized. Customer-service at its best!

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Chef Petr of Sarkies’ Seafood Extravaganza Buffet. Always a pleasure to meet him! Thanks, Chef!

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Another group pic! :)

From the dessert spread, I chose these tiny bites…

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Heavenly! Thank you, Lord!

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Fiber loading! I always love fresh fruits on buffet! It’s a must for digestion obviously!

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I think this was Ms. Jasmine’s ice cream platter. I can’t imagine a world without ice cream, can you? :)

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My mom and aunt. All smiles at the lobby! Happy to see them happy!

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Thank you, E&O Hotel Penang for that memorable indulgence!

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Had a relaxing stroll at the E&O promenade. It’s the only hotel in Penang by the Malacca Strait!

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A child’s happiness is always a blessing! Nice pose you got there, Ethan! We miss you! :)

So when you find yourself in George Town, Penang, do drop by at E&O Hotel and treat yourself with a dose of history and the finest Malaysian hospitality. You might consider dining at Sarkies too or at other E&O’s food & beverage outlets!  Of course, hotel accomodation packages are currently inclusive of breakfast buffet at Sarkies. Have fun in Penang and enjoy E&O!

This blog’s other special features about Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang include :

EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL, PENANG | George Town, Penang, Malaysia | for more details and hotel reservation, kindly visit their website :  http://e-o-hotel.com/  

SARKIES at E&O | for more details and dining reservations, kindly visit their website : http://e-o-hotel.com/sarkies/

Thank you so much, E&O Hotel! Thank you so much, Sarkies!  Special thanks goes out to Ms. Eileen of E&O! Thank you and see you again in the near future!

>><<

26
Oct
13

KUALA LUMPUR | OUR 3D2N SOMERSET AMPANG KL EXPERIENCE

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Glorious morning view of Malaysia’s capital from the kiddie’s wading pool at 22nd floor of Somerset.

“Uncle, can you take us to Somerset, Ampang KL?”  I asked the Chinese-Malaysian taxi cab driver from where I stand in front of Pudu Sentral Bus Station. When I received a nod, I immediately hailed another taxi cab for my mom and my aunt and for our luggages in tow. And before I think of any possibilities, we’re on our way to our very first-serviced-residence-experience!

Located along the prestigious Embassy row and just 5-minute-walk-away from Ampang Park LRT station, Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur is conveniently accessible.

We hopped on the taxi cabs under the brightest Malaysian sun, then out of nowhere, came a heavy downpour just before we alighted to the lobby of Somerset Ampang KL.  Weather’s Bipolar but I couldn’t be grateful enough!

Staff at the facade were ready with helping hands to carry our luggages to the reception area; it’s not uncommon but I always consider it as a sign of an early impressive hospitality.  Checked in was done in a breeze and remarkably, we were welcomed warmly by Ms. Siti Artha, the Guest Service Assistant Manager.  We appreciated the gestures, it made us feel at home right away!
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Fraction of the laid back lobby.

We were led to 16th floor et voila!  My worries and uncertainties about things that matter to me instantly melted away! The sight was that welcoming! Despite I feel so fatigued from our overnight-bus-trip from Penang to Kuala Lumpur, not to mention our packing of 3 weeks in Penang prior my homecoming, it was somewhat rejuvenating to see such beautiful black inlaid marble floors, handsome wooden doors and a hallway that will make you wish you could stay longer.

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Rich wooden doors, luxurious marble floors. Minimalist. Classic!

Welcome to Room 1612, our 90sqm-Two-Bedroom-Premier that served as our home for few days.

Tuloy po kayo!
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Our home for three days and two nights. Knock, knock!

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Always loved fresh fruits! Welcome note’s an icing on the cake!

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It’s my pleasure, Mr. Gary Loke! Thank you very much, Somerset Ampang KL by Ascott!

Inside our 2-bedroom-Premier unit, I realized the huge difference of a hotel accomodation from that of a serviced residence.  Somerset Ampang, KL Serviced Residence provides the comfort and convenience of a home and the quality service of a hotel. This attractively furnished unit offered a very relaxed ambiance perfect for families, friends, more so for business and leisure travelers and tourists.

Our home for few days has separate living and dining areas, master’s bedroom with en-suite toilet and bath, a twin-bedroom with en-suite toilet and shower, well-equipped kitchen and a laundry tub with dryer that are certainly absent in any hotel suite, home entertainment system, telephone, and most important to me, a fast and free wireless internet access.
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Might appear ordinary wooden dining table but my mom kept on praising its quality.

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Where my mom and aunt slept for two nights.

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The twin-bedroom’s en-suite toilet and shower. Spacious and spotless!

And this makes the difference…

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Well equipped kitchen, laundry & dryer tub. Admittedly, hotels don’t have these!

A cooker hub & hood, coffee and tea making facilities, an electric oven, electric kettle, glassware including wine glasses, crockery, utensils, microwave oven, a fridge, toaster, a laundry and dryer tub in one.  Amazing, isn’t it? Almost complete!  It’s really home away from home!  But if it’s not too much to ask and if there’s one thing that I’d wish they would add to complete everything in the kitchen : a fruit blender.

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My photo doesn’t do it justice. The simplicity & elegance fused in the interiors are just wonderful!

At the spacious and gorgeous living room with high ceiling, the home entertainment system includes CD/DVD player with iPod docking, LCD TV at the living room and master’s bedroom complete with satellite and cable channels.
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Homey and relaxed atmosphere is echoed at the living room.

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Happy to see my mom happy with her teddy bear! hehehe!  :)

Another guest-friendly feature of our unit in Somerset is the central air-conditioning with individually controlled thermostats.  For a family like us who came with relatives in their senior years, who prefer a warmer temperature unlike me, setting the AC to our selected temperature was never a problem. Furthermore, the living room has a ceiling fan that absolutely cost-saving for Somerset and gives its guest an Earth-friendly option.

My mom and my aunt were generous enough to allow me to enjoy the master’s bedroom.

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Where I had uninterrupted sleeps for 2 nights. Loved this bed to bits!

The room has high ceiling which I really liked, not too small, nor too big; just enough space for me to roam around. It has the best view by the window, and by the bath tub at its en-suite bathroom.

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Wardrobe complete with essentials, nice!

Just what my weary mind needs : a tub with a view! Thank you so much, Somerset Ampang KL! I had one of my most relaxing soak in years!  Fantastic!

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The tub with a view!

At 4PM, I had the pleasure of meeting Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur’s Assistant Residence Manager, Mr. Gary Loke.  The introduction was set by Ms. Jacqueline Shu who happens to be the Marketing Executive, but was unable to join us that afternoon due to another function at other Ascott property.

I met Gary at the lobby, and the moment he mentioned he was assigned to Ascott Makati in my country, The Philippines for 6 months, some years back, we had a more engaging and casual conversations.  People of Somerset were really amazing!

Gary first brought me to the 22nd level of Somerset Ampang KL where the Residents’ Lounge, rooftop infinity pool & jacuzzi, fully-equipped gymnasium, and a children’s wading pool.  Apparently, everyone has something to look forward to whenever they come home to their residence at Somerset after a long day at work, school, shopping or traveling around the metropolis!  That said, it spells work-life balance to me!

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Relaxing mood at the infinity pool with a great vista of Petronas Twin Towers & the rest of KL skyline.
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Crunches and stationary walk and jog overlooking the pool and beautiful view of KL skyline.

For families with kids, young adults, yuppies and even the senior ones, the Residents’ Lounge’s too perfect to spend a lazy weekend morning or a late afternoon bonding, or just a quality time with oneself and a good paperback.

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Gary and I went down to the lobby and strolled our way to the next-door’s restaurant, Souled Out. He casually explained that breakfast buffet from 6:30AM to 10AM is served there daily for residents of Somerset.  We continued our interesting talk about Malaysia, The Philippines, particularly his previous stint in Makati and the things he learned from my country, as well as his recommendations within Kuala Lumpur, things about Ascott, Somerset and Citadines, over glasses of freshly blended Dragon Fruit Juice and a plate of crunchy Calamares at Souled Out.

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Dragon Fruit Juice and Calamares (not in photo) : Surprisingly, winner combo! :)

Gary’s so nice to even walk me to the adjacent lobby of HSC Medical Centre (a medical institution that caters to heart surgeries, stroke and cancer with few Alternative Medicine too). I told him, I consider it another plus factor for choosing Somerset Ampang KL particularly when staying longer, as the proximity of such medical services could make one feel so secured and safe.

Service and friendliness of staff indeed tops everything in hospitality industry.

With only two nights of stay and still recovering from our muscle aches and fatigue of packing my life literally of 3 years in Penang, I decided to just buy a takeway dinner and lunch for the three of us from Ampang Shopping Center which is about a 10-minute-walk away from Somerset.

Here’s what I bought as one of our take-away-meals that we enjoyed in Somerset.  Take note of the modest yet quality plates and utensils.  My mom was even happier that there’s a sponge and a liquid soap provided for washing dishes.  We really enjoyed the comforts of home while in Somerset!
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Veggies galore! My takeaway dinner from the nearby Ampang Shopping Center.

The next morning, we claimed our breakfast coupons from the front desk and walked our way to Souled Out.  Bear in mind that Souled Out is an outsourced restaurant so the quality of service with Somerset is a bit different.

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Fresh juices, milk, tea & coffee. Take your pick!

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Of salads, fruits, yoghurt and cold cuts.

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Breads and spreads.

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The view from where we dined. I liked the alfresco theme with those lush green at the backdrop.

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Chicken sausages, spicy sardines, egg omelet, baked beans, and nasi goreng (fried rice).

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Tropical fruits, green apple salad, yoghurt, orange juice & coffee to cap the meal.

Honestly, there was nothing to rave about the outsourced restaurant, Souled Out’s breakfast buffet; it was nothing extraordinary. Surprisingly, there was minimal volume of tropical fruits and dishes from the spread. I hope they could enhance their offering in the near future.  I need to visit back to compare this!  *paging Mr. Garly Loke! Kidding!*

Because my mom and aunt opted to sleep and rest and watch TV at our room the whole day (they really got tired from hauling and packing my stuffs in Penang and for that I’ll be forever thankful to them), I was alone in going to KLCC-Shopping Center.

Somerset Ampang KL provides free shuttle van service on various schedule for those residents who would like to go to selected shopping areas within the city and a separate schedule for those residents going to their respective offices at work.  I reserved a 10:30AM slot to go to KLCC-Suria Shopping Complex.

At exactly on the dot, I hopped on this free shuttle van with another resident and a family.  They dropped me after a 5 minute-straight-drive to KLCC.  It’s so convenient!

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Shuttle van service to the prime shopping centers in Kuala Lumpur.

I needed to see Malaysia’s magnificence again prior going home to my country.  All memories flashed back, good and bad ones. Saying farewell to the country that served as my second home for 3 years was not that easy than I thought. It felt a part of me was surgically removed. I wrote in my facebook that phantom limb pain remains in a few days, weeks, perhaps months until I find another refuge. That moment’s indeed dramatic and nostalgic. Cest la vie!

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At the foot of those iconic Petronas Twin Towers.

Imagine, I managed to bring my mom and aunt to a wonderful and memorable stay at a 2-bedroom-Premier unit in Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur after a month-long stay in Penang and a weekend in Singapore, God is really soooo good despite and in spite of everything.  I’ll constantly remind myself to count blessings rather than give importance to the challenges and negative elements.

I believe in what Ascott properties stand for, that “LIFE is all about living.”  I salute them for being guided with “LIFE” :

  • L -Local touch and local culture
  • I – Individuality, varied lifestyles
  • F -Feeling at home, those little touches in the room makes us feel homey
  • E -Exceeding expectations. I personally experienced it!  :)

Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur exceeded my great expectations! We had a incredibly wonderful stay!

>><<

SOMERSET AMPANG KUALA LUMPUR | 187 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | For more details and reservations, kindly visit their website at : http://www.somerset.com/en/malaysia/kuala_lumpur/somerset_ampang.html

To the people of Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur, Mr. Gary Loke, Ms. Jacqueline Shu, Ms. Siti Artha and the staff, thank you so much! Special thanks goes out to Ms. Min of Ascott Singapore for the invitation! We had an amazing time! I could only wish the stay could be longer but who knows? There might be a next time somewhere. Again, many thanks!

21
Jul
13

RAMADAN BUFFET AT EASTIN HOTEL PENANG

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20 July 2013, Saturday. For the very first time in 3 years of stay in Penang, my family and I had a chance to sample an eat-all-you-want-dinner of authentic Malaysian cuisine prepared specially by Swez Brasserie at Eastin Hotel Penang, for the observance of breaking of the fast during this season of Ramadan. The spread was absolutely different from the Japanese-themed-buffet we had at the same venue few months back (blog post HERE!).

We reached the lobby of the hotel where the said restaurant is located, a bit early for the seven o’clock PM start of the dinner; hence, Tina and I had enough time taking photos of the spread. We noted how Ramadan Buffet at Eastin Hotel Penang was well received and patronized by Malaysian guests and walk-in-diners, as empty tables and seats that we saw when we arrived, were all filled few minutes past 7PM. It was a great sign that the buffet dinner at Eastin’s really good!

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“What do you call these oil lamps in Bahasa Melayu?” I asked Selene, one of the friendly staff of Eastin Hotel Penang, about the centerpiece of each table. “Pelita” she replied with a smile. I told her we call it in the Philippines, “sulo” or torch.  Dried dates and glasses of warm water were served per table. Lanterns and a few more decors set the mood for families’ Iftar or breaking of the fast.  The ambiance was simply made appropriate for the occasion.

Apart from the usual spread of appetizers, entrees and desserts, they set up a few hawker-like-stalls at the entrance of Swez Brasserie. There, diners could ask for servings of Beef Wellington which was soooooo good, Roasted Lamb on the carving stations, Chicken Shawarma, and local desserts like  Ais Kachang (fruits, nuts and shaved ice) and Tutti Frutti or more commonly known as snow cone.  Other than Beef Wellington, the major reason, in my family’s opinion, for diners to troop to Eastin Hotel is their specialty bone marrow soup locally called, GearBox Soup, or what we call in the Philippines as, Bulalo.

It was totally unexpected to start our Ramadan Buffet with such delicious and piping hot beefy soup! There were bigger chunks of bone marrow being served but Tina requested for a smaller piece for the fear that we may not finish it. But after sipping the tasteful soup with a straw (yes, they serve bone marrow soup here with straws, why not?) and dunking our forks to those tender, fall-off-the-bone meaty goodness, we all felt that it’s an all-worth-it-dining-experience!  For the lack of  better words to describe the start of our buffet dinner, it was so glorious! :D

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Gearbox Soup

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My salad plate was a bit of this and that. 

I loved the Beef Salad, except its black olives (I don’t eat olives, do you?). I think the Seafood Salad topped with sesame seeds was done really well as its spicy-meter didn’t irritate my taste buds! Cucur Udang (or Shrimp Fritters) was good too, plus the Stuffed Tofu and Papadam were OK as well. I was happy to came up with such appetizer plate with various textures!

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Beef Wellington at Eastin Hotel Penang’s Swez Brasserie. Served with gravy of choice -Mushroom Gravy or Black Pepper Sauce, and a few others. It’s very tender with all that beefy goodness, plus the bread crusting was divine! We highly recommend it!!!

Other than the Gearbox Soup or the Bone Marrow Soup, the three of us favored Beef Wellington! We’ve been dining to a few eat-all-you-want in Penang Island and we know that not all hotels here offer this dish; admittedly, it was our first time to find a  buffet that serves it! With all its tender beef, coated by puff pastry to perfection, it’s one of the reasons why you should treat yourself to this Ramadan Buffet at Eastin Hotel when you’re in Penang! Beef Wellington and Gearbox Soup, in our own opinion, make Eastin Hotel Penang’s Buffet remarkably special!

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Penang Assam Laksa. Tina and I agreed it needs improvement!

With all our praises to Gearbox Soup and Beef Wellington, the case is different with their version of what Penang is famous for -Penang Assam Laksa that made to top 7 out of 50 Most Delicious Foods in the World according to CNN. Eastin’s version of Penang Assam Laksa screams the need for improvement! We may not be Penangites but being accustomed to its authentic taste, Tina and I believe that Eastin’s Laksa must be enhanced. Case in point, we didn’t like the use of spaghetti instead of the usual rice noodles. It also lacked that spicy and minty and tangy tug-of-war-flavors on the Assam Laksa. Other than the laksa that’s available upon request at that live-kitchen-station, everything’s worth our thumbs-up!

While Tina and I are biased with Turkish Shawarma which this buffet currently doesn’t offer, Gabby enjoyed Swez Brasserie’s Chicken Shawarma! He personally requested no-vegetable-Chicken Shawarma from the station (I know, kids must eat veggies!).

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Gabby liked their Chicken Shawarma, he savored two servings!

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Everything in this plate was tasteful. I loved those buttered garlicky shrimps!

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My choice of Malaysian entrees. 

I sampled Grilled Spicy Lobster, Spanish Omelet, Stir Fried Bamboo Clams with Black Bean Sauce (My very first time to eat bamboo clams, would you believe? It’s OK, I liked it), Nasi Minyak (fragrant and flavorful rice topped with garlic and nuts), Gulai Udang (or Shrimp Curry) and Baked Fish with Spices. I liked everything on my plate! However, blame our foreign taste buds with the available refillable beverages. The three of us opted to wash down everything with iced water (I had to request glasses of iced water since Malaysians usually prefer warm water); I just got Corn Juice (the yellow drink), Iced Lemon Tea (which was OK), and Badung (milk flavoured with rose cordial syrup, which to be honest, tasted like antibiotic to me) to taste all of them and include in my photos.

Tina had this lovely dessert plate.

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I was pleased and content with authentic delicacies from the spread as I went local with Malaysian Kuihs (or cakes).

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Malaysian Kuihs. The taste in general, didn’t deviate from the rice cakes available at common hawkers, which was good! What I liked best was its bite-sized servings! Diners would’ve more room to taste other sweets from the spread!

Gabby personally got himself a plate of goodies dipped onto the chocolate fondue and some slices of cakes (not in photo) and a bowl of Tutti Frutti or snow cone.

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Like our Filipino Halo-Halo, Malaysia’s Ais Kachang is served with all the sweet ingredients first, plus nuts at the bottom then topped with shaved ice. The server at Swez Brasserie was pleased to gave in to my request to do it, the other way around for taking-photos’ sake. :)

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A scoop of ice cream definitely makes the entire world happy, doesn’t it? Even happier with each scoop of Peppermint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry and Chocolate flavors! “An ice cream station at any buffet is always fun,” says the innerchild in me! :D

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Although not included in the buffet, Tina asked for Cappuccino that she lovingly shared with me.  Our meal is always incomplete without a dose of caffeine!

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We could only wish we have larger gastric pits to accomodate more from the buffet spread. Nonetheless, it’s a sign that the variety and volume of dishes were really remarkable!

Another edge of Eastin is the two-person-live-band that performs during dinner (and even after dinner at the Lounge). Proud to note that the current singer of the band is a Filipina named Jane who beautifully sang English and Malay love songs. It was our second time to meet Jane singing at Eastin! Glad she remembered us and we appreciated her  as she personally came to our table to say, Hi. :)

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Tables were filled with local diners that means food is really GOOD!!!

Now at this point, you should be ready with a tall glass of water (iced or warm, it’s up to you!), control not to salivate too much and scroll down gradually to feast your eyes at what Ramadan Buffet at Eastin Hotel Penang’s Swez Brasserie offers. These photos might not even do it  justice. :D

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Ulam ulaman or local salad with all available Malaysian salad ingredients and sauces! You can also make your own Nasi Lemak from the spread! 

There’s also Mushroom Cream Soup that Gabby liked so much, and Soto Sup Ayam (and possibly other dishes that we missed, which were not included in the photos. Moving on…

seafood salad
Seafood Salad.

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Canape

beef salad
Beef Salad.

kerabu kaki ayam
Kerabu Kai Ayam (Chicken Salad).

gado gado
Gado gado.

stuffed tofu
Stuffed Tofu.

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Prawns, Mussels, Oysters on ice plus beef and chicken cold cuts.

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Fried goodies and noodles (including Penang Assam Laksa) at the Live-Kitchen-Station.

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Beef Wellington. I mentioned it already, I’ll repeat it again – We highly recommend this yummy! :)

chicken shawarma station
Chicken Shawarma Station.

roasted lamb
Roasted Lamb. Like Beef Wellington, it’s tender to perfection. No after-taste too!

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Ikan Keli Masak Lemak (Fish Curry; ikan=fish).

lamb rendang
Lamb Rendang.

grilled spicy lobster
Grilled Spicy Lobster.

spanish omelet
Spanish Omelet.

stir fried bamboo clam with black bean sauce
Stir Fried Bamboo Clam with Black Bean Sauce.

sotong kari lemak
Sotong Kari Lemak (Squid Curry; sotong = squid).

gulai udang
Gulai Udang (Prawn Curry).

lidah lembu masak  berlada
Lidah Lembu Masak Berlada or Malaysian version of Lengua (Ox tongue).

aloo ghobi
Aloo Ghobi.  Potatoes (aloo), cauliflower (gob(h)i).

braised beancurd with seafood
Braised Beancurd with Seafood.

belacan fried chicken
Belacan Fried Chicken.

baked fish with spices
Baked Fish with Spices.

beef masak halia
Beef Masak Halia (halia=ginger).

kari kepala ikan
Kari Kepala Ikan (Fish Head Curry; ikan = fish; kepala = head). One of the most popular Malaysian dishes.

ayam kampung masak lemak
Ayam Kampung Masak Lemak (ayam=chicken).

nasi minyak
Nasi Minyak.

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And if Ais Kachang and Tutti Frutti aren’t enough, here’s a rundown of other delights, including dates, Malaysian kuihs and tropical fruits in season, that could really satisfy one’s sweet tooth.

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strawberry mousse cake
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black forest cake
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Except for their version of Penang Assam Laksa that could be further improve and the local drinks that we’re not that biased with, we enjoyed everything that we sampled from this Ramadan Buffet at Eastin Hotel Penang. We highly recommend it to our Muslim brothers and sisters who are observing Iftar after a day of fasting during this season, but also to everyone in Penang or those who will visit the island soon! It’s also a pleasant gastronomic introduction to Malay cuisine particularly for foreigners like us. We give this Ramadan Buffet at Eastin our thumbs up!

Ramadan Buffet at Swez Brasserie | RM 85++ (adult) and RM 43 ++ (child) | starts 7PM

EASTIN HOTEL PENANG | 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queensbay 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia 

www.eastinhotel-penang.com

>><<

*While we’re grateful that Eastin Hotel Penang hosted our Ramadan Dinner Buffet, all words and opinions on this blog post aren’t influenced and remain 100% my own.

08
Jul
13

WINE & DINE BUFFET DINNER AT SARKIES, E&O HOTEL PENANG

I’m no food and wine connoisseur but I absolutely trust my senses and personal favorites. I’m also proud that my young and beautiful family acquired their very own personal preferences. We’re all grateful for the chance to experience again, another delightful challenge to our taste buds and appetites.  Last weekend, July 6th, 2013, Saturday, we went back to Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang for another casual yet memorable gastronomic feast at Sarkies! With the warm and friendly service, remarkable of E&O, we felt so home already!

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My wife, Tina & our son, Gabby at one charming corner of the Heritage Wing, E&O Hotel, Penang.

We were there to try their Wine and Dine Buffet Dinner that’s offered at Sarkies every Friday and Saturday. Free flow of red and white wines, beer and fruit punches. Children in tow could also indulge in fruit blends and other beverages that perfectly paired Sarkies’ buffet spread.

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Red or white? a can of beer, perhaps?

But why do we love Sarkies at Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang? 

Allow me to count the reasons in random order.

Elegant Yet Casual Ambiance.

Either al fresco dining with the priceless view of the Malacca Strait and the tropical Malaysian breeze caressing you while you indulge during sundown, or dining inside the airconditioned areas near the spread, it’s always a visual treat to see tasteful interiors patterned after the history of this heritage hotel. Fixtures and furnitures are simply impressive!

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The Live-Kitchen-Stations

It’s entertaining to see how chefs turn your choice of ingredients into a culinary masterpiece! Sure, it’s a common thing among food & beverage outlets in other hotels but what makes that of Sarkies different from the rest is the friendly service of their staff, from the ones handling the pans to those courteous staff who sets and clears up the tables.

Talking about Live Kitchen Stations, Tina delighted herself with a tasteful bowl of koay teow soup, filled with freshest seafoods that the chef whipped up from those raw ingredients she selected at Sarkies’ Noodle Station.

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Go Local!

Even Malaysian dishes are cooked, grilled, fried and whatnot upon request. Beef or lamb chops, chicken satay, anyone?

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The freshest and the widest variety of seafoods on this side of Malaysia!

Mostly are imported with great quality and taste! Tell me, how many hotels around offer these kind of seafood goodness? Alaskan Snow Crab Claws, Spanner Crab (those hairy curacha crabs we call back home are a new addition to the seafood spread at Sarkies) Poached Black Mussels, New Zealand Mussels, Duo of Gravlax, Norwegian Salmon, Barramundi or Asian seabass, Oysters on Ice, Prawns to name a few.  All for a dinner price that’s surprisingly reasonable; far better than what our family sampled from buffets in premier hotels back home. Sarkies’ seafood choices are simply glorious!  Continue scrolling down,  just be mindful not to drool. :P

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Quick Refills! Eye-candy!

The spread is frequently refilled; you won’t see any station screaming for generous and quick refill; no need! Furthermore, the presentations of dishes are simply enticing!

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Favorite of locals and foreigners alike!

Res ipsa loquitor. Back when I was having my haywire med-school days, I learned this Latin phrase in Legal Medicine that literally means, “the thing speaks for itself.”  Apparently, each time we get a chance to dine at Sarkies in E&O, we see hungry patrons -both local and foreign alike packed the dining areas once the doors open at 7PM for dinner. A proof that Sarkies’  food choices, service, ambiance and all are worthy of thumbs up!  

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If you’ve been following this blog for quite some time now, you should expect that this is the part when the site shamelessly displays what we wolf down! For what purpose, you may ask?  Must there be a reason for everything we do? Life is damn short so cut the logic and just indulge with this visual feast! Inhale deeply. Exhale forcibly. Get yourself a tall glass of cold water and you know the drill: Thou shall not drool! :P

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Some are used to prawn and steak or lobster and steak version of Surf and Turf. Here’s my own Surf and Turf plate - I paired that very tender and delicious Roasted Beef with Cheesy Baked Scallops (which I think, was a dish considered upon our family’s suggestion the last time we had dinner at Sarkies; blog post HERE!). Sedap!!! Sarap!!!

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We also sampled Sarkies’ lobsters! It was generously served at our table by the staff. One may find this lobster dish on the dry side, particularly when you prefer those steamed and juicy ones but this from Sarkies was made more flavorful with the special gravy that came with it (not in photo); that dip/gravy was a fusion of mint, assam or tamarind with other secret herbs according to our taste buds. 

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We also enjoyed those savory chops of roasted duck! Those duckie slices tasted they’re cooked in two ways. Both delicious, you wouldn’t wish it to be wrapped anymore.

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After our 8-year-old-son, Gabby finished his handsome plate of Roasted Beef, he also had Angel Hair Carbonara served directly to our table upon request to the Chef.

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Heavenly Desserts.

Sarkies has Ice Cream Bar that looks nothing but classy with those dark wooden shutters as backdrop (you don’t get that Heritage-style interiors from an ordinary food place), cakes and pastries that could challenge the foodie in you!

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Our dessert plates…

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Such a friendly dining place!

Best of all, Sarkies provides a non-intimidating venue where special and memorable moments beyond our home are made!

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We’re happy diners! :)

Gabby met Dylan, son of one of the hotel’s managers. This boy’s presence and his mom and dad made our dinner extra-pleasant! People of E&O Hotel Penang, in general are the friendliest!

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And by the way, we brought along with us THE well-traveled, Manila’s Heritage expert, Ivan Man Dy of OldManilaWalks.Com who revisited Penang for this year’s George Town Festival. Tina and I were so glad that Ivan also found everything at Sarkies at par with his standards (or I bet, even beyond his expectations!).

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Ivan Man Dy (center) went wacky with Sarkies’ authentic Chicken Satay! Visit Penang again and savor more of Sarkies & the rest of E&O, Ivan!  We certainly spent good time during that dinner at Sarkies!

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I had Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Australia Utah. Cheers! :)

Special thanks to Ms. Eileen for the invites and of course, to the people behind Sarkies at E&O Hotel Penang for this wonderful dinner!  For each time that we go to E&O and its F&B outlets, remarkable moments are always experienced!

*Wine and Dine Buffet Dinner at Sarkies, every Fridays and Saturdays, 7PM-10:30PM. RM 148++ (or US$ 46.15 per adult), RM 65++ (or US$ 20.27 per child) with free flow of wine, beer and fruit punch.

Check out the other offerings at E&O’s food and beverage outlets :

eastern & oriental hotel penang
eastern & oriental hotel penang
eastern and oriental hotel penang

Sarkies is also having Jamuan Buka Puasa from July 9 to August 7, 2013 at 7PM-10:30PM, with rates of RM 96++ per adult and RM 48++ per child from Sunday to Tuesday and rates of RM 110++ per adult and RM 65++ per child from Wednesday to Saturday. Spend breaking of the fast during this year’s Ramadhan season at Sarkies in E&O!

For more details and to make your reservations, contact : Sarkies at Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang | website : www.e-o-hotel.com/sarkies

This blog’s other posts about Eastern and Oriental Hotel include :

29
Jun
13

HALF YEAR REPLAY : 2013

Looking back could strain the neck literally, but not when you realize that you have so much pleasant memories to be grateful for! When I painstakingly bent backward over my blog posts in the past 6 months, everything gradually flash back. The places we visited. The food we enjoyed. The people we met. The moments we experienced. 

It has been an overwhelming six months and I am so looking forward to greater things to come! 

JANUARY

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Chiang Mai Blog Series :

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Celebrations :  

FEBRUARY

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pinang peranakan mansion
jalan penang cendol
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MARCH

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Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
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penang's char koay teow from lorong selamat, george town, penang via docgelo.com
BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD MITBCA 2013

APRIL

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malacca @ docgelo.com
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sunrise, chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
penang assam laksa @ pasar air itam
penang assam laksa @ pasar air itam
Sambal Goreng by  Pearly Kee
My Nyonya dinner plate at  Pearly Kee's home
 

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Stay tuned as God willing, the next months will be more awesome! :)

26
Jun
13

CALANTHE ART CAFE, MALACCA, MALAYSIA

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Strawberry Milk Shake and Ms. L Coffee. Yeah, that’s coffee!

Big deal! :) Tina, Gabby and I finally sampled Calanthe Art Cafe in Malacca! I’ve been wanting to bring my family there during our first visit last Easter Sunday but because we’re satiated from other Malaccan eateries already, we surrendered to the fact that there were no enough spaces left in our gastric pits to accomodate another feast. Not long after, chance led us to revisit Melaka,  et voila! We made sure we get to taste a few delights from Calanthe’s menu.

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Small menu with overwhelming choices.

Of all the the dining places we’ve been to, here in Malaysia and else where, the menu of Calanthe tops as the most remarkable, being the smallest in size, yet with most volume of choices. Their coffee menu alone from 13 Malaysian states, plus their art coffee and other blends are enough to make you anxious of what to order.  If the beverages could make diners think a thousand times before deciding on what to have, Tina and I were quite sure with the entrees. We shared two of Malaysian favorites : Laksa and Chicken Satay!

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My bowl of Calanthe Laksa! Sedap! Sarap! Delicious!

Laksa : a must-eat when you visit Malaysia and Singapore too. If you know your palates very well, you could easily sense the various flavors of laksa from different Malaysian states as compared to that of Singapore. Case in point : Penang Assam Laksa has tamarind, chillies, fish broth, fish flakes and mint leaves, while Malaccan and Singaporean Laksa are rich in coconut milk and chillies. It’s a tug of war of flavors that burst in the mouth! Yummy! :D

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Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce served with Cucumber, Onions and Dried Squid Shoestrings!

Calanthe’s Chicken Satay is served uniquely too. Rather than having the usual kropek ikan or fish crackers, their version I think, is way better with dried squid shoestrings! Tastes good, looks more fascinating too!

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Fried Chicken Fillet for Gabby.

Another big plus for Calanthe Art Cafe’s menu is the fact that they have dishes for kids too. Diners with children will never worry of the cravings of their little kiddos.

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Sweet, Sweet Sago served with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream.

Gula Melaka or Palm Sugar is the killer! I love how most desserts, if not all in Malacca are sweetened by Gula Melaka. We tasted the famous Penang Road Cendol already (blog post HERE!)  and we had Melaka’s Nyonya Cendol last time (blog post HERE!), so for this visit, we tried Sweet, Sweet Sago from this quaint coffee shop. By mere looking at its photo on the menu, I initially thought of it as sticky rice which is another personal favorite but no, it’s another dessert made of tiny tapioca, Gula Melaka, coconut milk and paired with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream. Sweet and divine!

Calanthe Art Cafe lives up to its name. Photos below need no captions :)

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That tall glass of so called Ms. L coffee is suggested on their menu to be sipped from top most layer to the bottom. If you follow the menu’s instruction, this colorful multilayered chilled coffee would stimulate your taste buds from the bitter to sweet! It’s an extraordinary caffeine experience!
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Have you been to Calanthe Art Cafe in Malacca? What did you sample from their menu?

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

Calanthe Art Cafe | No. 11 Jalan Hang Kasturi Melaka 75250 | website : www.letseat.at/calanthe

This Blog Series about our second visit to Melaka includes :

While the entries about our first visit to Melaka includes :

24
Jun
13

MODS CAFE, MALACCA, MALAYSIA

Shortly after I received an invitation via email from Quayside Hotel and Halia Inc. Restaurant and Coffee Bar in Malacca to bring my feet and family there, to sample and review their tasteful but affordable hotel and the contemporary delicious eatery by the river, I began googling some sites in Malacca that we haven’t dined and explored yet, as our first trip there last Easter Sunday was so unplanned and spontaneous.

Since Malacca is one of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, I included a few cultural spots and museums in our itinerary. I planned to bring Tina and Gabby to Baba-Nyonya Museum in Heeren Street but personally found out that the Auntie wearing traditional Kebaya at the door was unpleasant and unwelcoming, photography not allowed and admission rates too steep. I also had a mental note to check out Stadthuys Museum at the Dutch Square but eventually learned that it’s closed for renovations. Gabby wanted to visit that big galleon ship -the Maritime Museum which is located a few steps away from our hotel but unbelievably run out of time to do it. What we didn’t miss was to go to a few of Melaka’s charming dining places. First on the list was the visually interesting Mods Cafe at Temple Street.

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At Mods Cafe, Temple Street, Malacca, Malaysia. Our family’s second visit to Melaka :  June 21-23, 2013.

Thankful to the strong wind and sea breeze that reduced the haze (due to slash and burn farming of Palm trees in Sumatra) to a tolerable and minimal air pollution index in the afternoon, we strolled our way to Temple Street (Jalan Tokong) still with masks on. We arrived at Mods Cafe and saw its steel door half-closed. Good thing there’s an empty table to accomodate the three of us in this hole-in-the-wall charming coffee shop.

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A 1978 VW Kombi Campervan in Hippie floral orange parked inside served as the coffee bar at Mods Cafe.

Visiting Mods Cafe and ordering a few from their menu was a triple treat for us. Tina and I are coffee lovers (read: never a day without caffeine dose!) and of course, we love attractive coffee shops too. As for our kiddo, Gabby, lucky him as he was exposed again to another inspiration that hopefully fuels his very young dream of becoming (ehem, here we go again!) a chef, hotelier, and a restaurateur someday.

Let these photos (which are mostly taken by Tina herself) speak why Tina and I had the urge to visit Mods Cafe and became overly fascinated with it.

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We’re born in 1976 and growing up in the 80s exposed us to these VW minivans in the streets back home. Seeing one after a few decades in vibrant floral orange transformed into a coffee bar, complete with cash register and still able to roll on the streets as a mobile coffee shop was so awesome! The 1978 VW Kombi Campervan parked inside Mod Cafe, together with a barber shop, a few bikes and other eye-catching European things of the past really stand out among the other dining places in Malacca.

“Mod (from modernist) is a subculture that originated in London, England, in the late 1950s and peaked in the early to mid-1960s.” via WikiIt was the owner’s idea, A-bert Khow (the one in salmon-pink shirt on photos below) to introduce Mod subculture to Malaysia almost 3 years ago via Mods Cafe. It was A-bert himself, with his crew, Loi and Joey who made our coffee directly from that cute Kombi. :)

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Iced Chocolate  for Gabby, Caffe Mocha for me, Expresso Macchiato for Tina.

Our verdict : The prices (Iced Chocolate RM13, Caffe Mocha RM12, Expresso Macchiato RM8)  are competitive with mainstream coffee shops. Blends are also strong and flavorful served with local Nyonya cookie but honestly, it wasn’t the best Mocha I’ve tasted. They have limited menu that goes with the coffee as they only have iced fruit smoothies, cheesecakes, tiramisu, without breads, sandwiches and other dishes common to more commercial coffee shops. As for service, I suggest they should be more customer-friendly; smiles and a little conversations would be appreciated. Nonetheless, it’s the ambiance and the extraordinary theme of Mods Cafe that I think, work best to their advantage.

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Have you been to Mods Cafe in Malacca? How was your experience?

Mods Cafe | 14 Jalan Tokong, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia | Tel # +6012 756 4441.

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

This Blog Series about our second visit to Melaka includes :

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
1

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! :)

16
Jun
13

JUNE 15, 2013 : ONE OF OUR HAPPIEST SATURDAYS

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Malacca Strait & George Town, Penang viewed from our little balcony last June 13, ’13, Thursday.

Two days before the Father’s Day weekend, Tina and I arrived home from our office, Gabby from school at late afternoon. We were all greeted by gusty winds and big waves from the Malacca Strait via our little balcony at our 11th floor apartment. Little did we know that scenes in Pulau Pinang were even worse as telecom tower, electric poles and numerous trees already fell to the streets in George Town, Penang. We sat and prayed together and tried to calm down Gabby who was too anxious of the sight and sound of seemingly impending storm. But for three 3 years of stay in this side of Malaysia, I know they don’t issue typhoon signals unlike in our country, The Philippines. And true enough what appeared to last as unfavorable weather for whole night, thankfully ended an hour or so. We were relieved.

The next day, we went to work again, and Gabby to school as usual with a sunshiny climate. The weather was confirmed to be Bipolar, perhaps, even Schizoid. :)  Tina didn’t rely on her instincts but googled the weather forecast online. No threat or warning to spoil our plans for the weekend. We were again relieved.  

Saturday came and we hopped on the bus at around 9AM, boarded the ferry at jetty in Penang Sentral and reached the island safely.

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All smiles aboard the ferry from Butterworth to George Town.

It was almost 10AM and (thankfully) the sun was shining its brightest. We strolled from jetty in Weld Quay to Gat Lebuh Armenian simply to see two of the 11 (soon to be established) new sets of murals with cats as theme.
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Cat mural #2 located at Gat Lebuh Armenian.  How do you like it?

Finally, we met Skippy,  the meow meow of the 11 cat murals in George Town. Have you seen a bigger cat mural than Skippy?

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Skippy the cat and the black rodent mural located at Gat Lebuh Armenian. :)

After few touristy things, we strolled our way to catch the bus at Lebuh Chulia or Chulia Street. We passed by one of the remarkable heritage sites in George Town, the clan house or kongsi of Cheah family with its newly installed gates. It looks grand as ever!

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Cheah Kongsi. Gates are open to welcome tourists at month-long George Town Festival 2013.

Rode the bus, got off Komtar and went up the 8th level of First Avenue Mall in George Town to buy movie tickets for afternoon screening. After which, we hurriedly went down and took the cab, despite the fact that our next destination can be reached by foot, we didn’t want to be late to our 11AM reservation to an eat-all-you-want-Asian restaurant in a mall that we’ve never been to.

Penang Times Square

With only lunch buffet at our initial game plan, we managed to make our weekend memorable again.

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My love. My life. :)

Haven Delights, Penang Times Square

It’s our first time at Penang Times Square and apparently, first time to dine at Haven Delights. Before someone makes a conclusion that everything here’s far from reasonable, let me be defensive in stating that it was Tina’s idea to buy discount-vouchers from groupon.my when she saw online that Asian Buffet in Haven Delights was on promosi. We only paid RM 56 (USD 17.96) for the buffet meals good for 2, and didn’t pay anything for Gabby as per text message of the manager of Haven Delights when he apologized to something I chose not to write about. After all, the misunderstanding was already settled and our eat-all-you-want-lunch turned out better than expected.

Similar to its adjacent buffet restaurant, TAO that we already sampled from another branch, Haven Delights offers a spread that includes free flow of fruit juices and iced green tea. Other than that, the rest is served upon order from their buffet menu. Surprisingly, we noticed Haven Delight’s buffet menu has wide variety to choose from. The interiors and overall ambiance aren’t cheap, although I suggest for them to have a better choice of house music that must go with the buffet theme. Nonetheless, those red lanterns, and cozy lights aptly set the mood for Asian gastronomic experience. To be honest, it wasn’t the best buffet we’ve sampled but for its price, it was an absoulte steal for the three of us! Happy Father’s Day to me! Happy me! :)

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It was also our very first time to purchase voucher at groupon.my and it was indeed a good buy!  At least, our first impressions were all nice. Now, on to business. If you’ve been following this blog for quite some time now, you know that I have been keeping a love affair with Japanese. I like how creative their dishes are; I appreciate how Japanese cuisine provides both art and sustenance. So when Tina told me that the restaurant she chose via groupon.my in Penang features Japanese food among other Asian delights, I gave it a nod in no time! :)

This is the rundown of what we tried from the buffet menu… Drum roll, please! :)

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Miso soup from the spread. Warm and nice.

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Mussels No. 1 as they called it but to us, they’re Baked Mussels. Cheesy. We liked!

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Szechuan Beef. Surprisingly tender, tasteful, everything’s right. Recommended!

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Temaki. Soft Shelled Crab & California Hand Roll. Gabby and I shared these two; thumbs up! :)

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Santen Sashimi. Sashimi, for as long as fresh, remains my favorite so I’m biased with this bowl.

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Motoyaki Scallops. Another must-try, another personal favorite but size of scallops was a bit disappointing.

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Salted Pepper Mantis. Go order this too at Haven Delights. Bite-sized goodness!

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Orange Pork Chop. We frequently order the Crispy Lemon Chicken from a Chinese restaurant back home; this one reminded us of that.

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My world revolves and rotates for Gabby & Tina. :)

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Ebi Sushi, Salmon Sushi. Need I say more?

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Mixed Tempura. There was no Ebi Tempura alone, so Gabby opted for the next best thing.

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Haven Special Maki, Smoked Eel Roll. Improvement on the maki-making would make it better.

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Eat, Pray, Love.

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Lamb Teriyaki over Japanese Rice from the spread. Tina’s plate -she said this combo was fine.

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Motoyaki Scallops, round two : 5 orders. Yum! Yummier if only they’re bigger.

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Ebi Mango Sushi and other delightful things on our table.

 
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Haven delights customers particularly during dinner could eat al fresco with the view of George Town’s streets and diversity. Case in point, the Catholic Church stands almost behind the Hindu Temple with no conflicts, whatsoever.
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Penang, we’ll surely miss you one day! Thank you for everything!

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One more shot, with the mighty, Komatar this time. It’s the tallest building in the island. Iconic, isn’t it?

Lunch buffet starts at 11:30PM with taking of the last orders from diners at 2PM.  We finished past 1PM. Burp! :) Just when I thought we’re heading back to First Avenue Mall to watch the 2:45PM screening of the newest remake of Superman movie, Man of Steel, we saw another restaurant that was featured on groupon.my called, Full House.

Gabby wanted dessert while Tina and I were craving for our caffeine doses. We gave in. We tried Full House too, for the very first time.

FullHouse Restaurant, Penang Times Square

It’s not difficult to be charmed with the space, interiors and menu of FullHouse. It’s a lifestyle store that also sells T-shirts and some novelty items to match the incredibly dainty epicurean experience. We only had coffee and for Gabby, a serving of creme brulee but dining at Full House felt like so fresh and pleasant. I predict that we’ll drop again to sample entrees and other offerings soon.

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Best thing that we do while waiting for orders : freeze the moments via photographs. And when the orders are served, take pictures again! It’s a habit hard to break. Can you blame Tina and I if the cups of our caffeine came with art?

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Latte for me. RM8.90++ (USD 2.85++). The cute coffee art made me smile, the taste made me satisfied.
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Cappuccino for Tina. RM 8.90++ (USD 2.85++). The blend passed Tina’s meticulous taste!
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Creme Brulee RM 10.90++ (USD 3.50++) and Choco Blended RM 9.90++ (USD 3.17++) for Gabby. :)
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We left Full House in Penang Times Square with wider smiles and happier tummies. We crossed the road and took a taxi cab again, in order not to be late at the 2:45PM screening of Man of Steel.

Man of Steel at First Avenue Mall

It has been several months since the three of us last watched a movie together, popcorn (and upcoming movie, Monster University’s) tumbler of Coke are a must! :)

 
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Before and after the Man of Steel movie, Gabby made a statement to us by saying,

Ben 10 is better than Superman; he got more powers!” 

Oh well, he grew up with his breed of animated characters and fictional heroes on screen but seriously, we all enjoyed this action-packed Superman movie. The treatment to the story and twist was made contemporary different from the previous ones.  I didn’t browse anything about it prior watching, so I was stunned to see Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams casted as support to Henry Cavill’s iconic role. I was in awe in every second of the movie. We literally finished our caramel popcorn which unusually happens in other movies. It was that entertaining!

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What else can I say but I was happiest with my family that Saturday! I may not have everything but they’re my greatest blessings! :D

Till our next family bonding! Enjoy your celebrations, everyone!

*Haven Delights | No. 77-L1-34, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150, Penang, My.

*FullHouse |No. 77-G-20-21,61-65, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150, Penang, My.

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

07
Jun
13

JAPANESE DINNER + FRENCH DESSERTS IN SINGAPORE

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A taste of Paris in Singapore at Antoinette.

25 May 2013, Saturday. Singapore. Perhaps of all the posts I made about food on this blog, this one’s the most satiating because it’s filled with gratitude; the dinner happened because of a humble appreciation and ended giving all of us a perpetual inspiration.

I already forgot the date and the specific blog post where I randomly featured one of our ordinary family day outs, one weekend in Pizza Hut; it must be in Prangin Mall branch in George Town, Penang. If you must know, Pizza Hut and KFC are two of my family’s ultimate favorites. KFC’s an almost default fast food choice for Tina and I, particularly on Fridays when we have 2-and-a-half-hour-lunch-break, because a branch is located a few minutes away from where we currently work. While Gabby’s always delighted at Pizza Hut’s all cheese pizza deluxe, sans toppings, made with cheesy lava stuffed crust the same way he loves KFC and its gravy.

The said unsponsored blog post was incidentally read the Culinary Manager of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell for Northeast and Southeast Asia who happens to be a fellow Filipino based in Singapore (Bravo for his achievements, Mabuhay for his humility!).

I only learned that Dennis read it when he personally sent his words of thanks for blogging about Pizza Hut via email (I hope he’s fine about mentioning his name without his surname, as he begged off not to be publicized on this blog – the reason why I didn’t include our group photos together with Filipino foodie-couple bloggers now based in Singapore, Fran and Paul). Frankly, comments of readers on my posts are one of the reasons that fuel me to blog, more so, if readers and loyal blog followers would take efforts in sending me an email; it’s like icing on the cake! It’s something petty to others but very fulfilling to me.

Fast forward to my 6th blog anniversary post last May 8th 2013 where I blogged that my family and I were invited by two sponsors to revisit Singapore, Dennis emailed me again, but this time to invite us for dinner as according to him, it’s his way of appreciating my blog post about their product. Initially, the invite sounded like too good to be true because gratitude nowadays is a rarity but his act of kindness and generosity proved my cynicism was wrong. More than his professional achievements (he’s also a dentist, btw), we perceived him as someone who always keeps everything in a low-key, totally opposite of the magnitude of his status. And for that, we were blessed to have met a new friend who’s so inspiring!

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En route to our dinner, we saw an impressive Oriental mural at MRT Station, Tajong Pagar, Singapore.

He was even gracious to ask us of our food preferences and suggested choices of a Chinese, Japanese and French restaurants. We ended up with a simple but a happy and memorable dinner at Hakumai at International Plaza Building in Anson Road, and perfectly ended the night with sublime desserts in a very quintessential French dining place in Erskine Road, Antoinette.

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Like authentic dining places in Japan, Hakumai’s entrance is humble and unassuming.

We reached the place few minutes earlier of our 7PM reserved dinner at Hakumai via a very quick ride at MRT from Bugis.  Not long after, Dennis arrived, followed by our blogger friends -husband and wife, Paul and Fran Ang of www.frannywanny.com. The dinner was so casual, friendly and very welcoming! It was one of those nights you wish would happen again soon! It was that good! :D

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私の家族 (my family) : Gabby and Tina

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Hakumai’s appetizers : some tasteful salmon and blanched greens

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Gabby’s dinner : his favorite, Ebi Tempura; less the battered chili

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Hakumai Sushi Gozen. Tina’s beautiful bento came with 9 pcs of assorted Sushi, 4 pcs of Salmon Mentai Maki, Truffle Sauce Chawanmushi, Botan Jiru, Salad and Fruits, SGD 38++

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Sashimi Gozen. My delicious choice was served with Mixed Sashimi, Tempura Moriawase, Hot Soba, Truffle Sauce Chawanmushi, Salad and Fruits, SGD 29.80++

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Must have detail shot of my bento. Those sashimi were stunning! Fresh and tasteful.

Fran, Paul and our host, Dennis had varied choices as well that looked equally appetizing. I was personally awed by the fact Hakumai sources their fish for sashimi and sushi from no less than, Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. Not to forget that Hakumai’s  Singaporean Chef Gary, Dennis’ good friend, really prepared everything so well! Needless to say, we had nothing but one of our best dinners to date.

We washed down everything with iced green tea and soda for Gabby. Then Dennis generously asked us to pick a flavor of sorbet each.

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Sorbet from Hakumai. The hands-down-favorite was that tangy orange sorbet. I have no words to describe its uniquely unforgettable flavor!

After our dinner, Dennis took us to Antoinette for desserts. The place was small but the offerings were grand and divine!

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Ma famille (my family) : Gabby and Tina at Antoinette

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Le Macaron D’Antoinette.

“Antoinette : Milk chocolate earl grey tea ganache with raspberry confiture
Tahiti : Tahitian perfumed vanilla cream
Charlotte : Vanilla cream with strawberry coulis
Chloe : Citrus yogurt with yuzu
Britanny : Caramel with fleur de sel
Praline : Milk chocolate with crispy hazelnut biscuit
Pistachio : Pistachio cream with chopped pistachio
Rose : Rose petal cream
Violette : Violet flower cream
Sesame : Black sesame cream with toasted black and white sesame seed
Grand cru : Bitter dark chocolate
Passion : Milk chocolate passion fruit ganache” ~via www.antoinette.com.sg

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What we sampled from Antoinette, courtesy of Dennis…

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Macarons. Lavishly delicious!

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I wish I got this dessert’s name.  It looks so whimsical.

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Kyoto. Green tea mascarpone mousse, chestnut cremeux, almond cremble, green tea finger sponge.

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One of the richest chocolate slices I’ve tasted.

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Antoinette. Milk chocolate mousse, infused with earl grey tea, chocolate biscuit, dark chocolate earl grey tea cremeux, raspberry coulis, earl grey tea crumble.

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Hot Chocolate. We all had glasses of cold water while Gabby savored hot chocolate and Dennis his dose of caffeine.

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Strawberyy Shortcake. Japanese shortcake sponge, kirsch syrup, fresh strawberries, creme chantilly.

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We’re happy diners! Photo taken by Paul Ang, the better half of Fran. Thank you, Paul and Fran!

Words are not enough to thank Dennis. I am also pleased to introduce Tina and Gabby to Paul and Fran that night. It was really awesome! We hope to see them again in the near future! Thank you very much! :D

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

*Most photos on this post were taken by my lovely wife, Tina. :)

*Ingredients of what we sampled from Antoinette were sourced via  www.antoinette.com.sg while that of Hakumai were taken from their menu.

This post is a part of Singapore Blog Series May 2013 :

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.

26
Apr
13

RANDOM MEMORIES, HAPPY THOUGHTS FROM MALACCA

Malacca is as colorful as her trishaws.
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That shine bright like diamonds at dusk.
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Malacca is sweeter than her cendol.
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Dare I say it’s tastier than Jalan Penang’s.
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It was in Malacca we wore Malaysia as Baba-Nyonya.
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Spent (pa-) cute bonding moments.
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Inspired to pose for more photos.
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As we discovered Church of St. Paul Ruins as a nice backdrop.
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Despite the dirty lens problem, ikr. :(
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Clicks, clicks and more clicks…
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Here, Cristina’s men in plaid.
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That historic ruins on a hill witnessed how my lovely wife looked more chica than ever! Agree? lol
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Almost every corner, picturesque!
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We had no dull moments.
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Loved her river cruise…
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Those colors of Melaka River are charming at day…
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Enchanting and romantic at night…
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In spite of the fact that Stadhuys Museum was closed…
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We roamed around others and found valor and heroism…
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And because the Malaccan sun was nearly unbearable, we found comfort inside airconditioned museums…
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Where royalties and dignitaries used to dine…
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Over and beyond her culture and heritage spots, undeniably, it’s the Malaccan food and unique Peranakan tastes that lure people over.
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Finally sampled Chicken Rice Balls, Malaccan Roasted Chicken and Pork, Tofu in Oyster Sauce, even Western bites of course!
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Our appreciation for few visual arts fused with incredibly cool ambiance was heightened at The Baboon House Malacca…
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Time stood still at Hereen Street…
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Where hugs and joy reigned.
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Certainly melted our worries away…
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Saw more fascinating things being sold at the touristy and famous, Jonker Street…
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Where beautiful is an understatement…
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Where unique tastes and traditional collide…
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Malacca, you brought so much fun!
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We’ll create happier memories next time! Until then!

*This Melaka Blog Series includes :

17
Apr
13

MELAKA! MALACCA! FOOD PORN!

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*My family – Tina & Gabby at Restoran Famosa, Jonker Street, Malacca

Our three days and two nights unplanned trip to Malacca was made memorable not only because of the sights that we enjoyed exploring for the very first time but more so,  tasting its local dishes and a few personal favorites.  So many foods, so little time! I wished I did a little research prior to the trip and of course, it could’ve been better if we stayed longer. Nonetheless, we’re grateful and wouldn’t mind traveling 7 hours from our current base in Penang to revisit Melaka when time, chance and budget allow.

To say that Malacca is a food haven is absolutely an understatement. Similar to George Town, Penang, Malacca is a gastronomic paradise! Almost every corner has something to delight even the ones with most discriminating taste. Here’s this blog’s usual shameless display of what we feasted…

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*Chicken Rice Balls from a restaurant in Melaka Sentral Bus Station

The moment we arrived in Melaka Sentral via 2-hour-and-19-ringgit-bus-ride from Larkin Bus Station in Johor Bahru, Tina, Gabby and I decided to do the first in the list of our priorities. EAT! While the kiddo was busy buying his 7-11 slurpee and I attended to our luggage and backpacks, the wifey scouted a few restaurants inside the bus station complex and selected one. That awesome moment happened! The very first time for us to eat Chicken Rice Balls that, correct me if I’m wrong, uniquely Melaka.

I’m guessing those rice balls paired with steamed chicken meat, were boiled in chicken stock. I liked it, Tina did not. To each his own.

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*Chicken Chop and Noodle dish with name that slipped my memory but with a delicious taste to remember! Naks!

After several minutes and camera clicks in front of Christ Church Melaka, we crossed the street and saw this stall by the Melaka River selling freshly fried Spiral Potatoes. It was 3-ringgit and sour cream flavored happiness for Gabby! :D

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*Savoring his Sour and Cream Spiral Potato from Melaka!

Second day was Easter Sunday and after having simple but incredibly charming dining experience at The Baboon House Malacca (blog post HERE!), we effortlessly killed time by doing crazy things (Tina was Instagramming) and sipping milk teas and iced blended fruity drinks from Ochado. Refreshing! Best, they got free and fast wifi too! :D

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*I left a mark on the graffitti wall. :)

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*Instagram moment! :)

Go try Ochado whenever you find yourself in Melaka! It’s easy to spot as it’s located at the corner where Jonker Street begins.

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*Cappuccino, Mocha and Iced Blended Chocolate from Casa Del Rio Cafe.

After dinner at Restoran Famosa in Jonker Street, we opted to stretch more our last night in Melaka. We walked and walked and next time we knew, we were all seated inside the very romantic and hip, Casa Del Rio Cafe.

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*Romantic and relaxing ambiance by the Malacca River.

Located by the Melaka River, in the facade of the premier hotel, Casa Del Rio, we were never intimidated by its stylish and inviting interiors; surprisingly, prices were even pocket-friendly than our favorite Starbucks Coffee. The menu’s promising too! They serve breakfast meals, lunch and even steamboat buffet for dinner.

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*Hollywood legends and icons on the walls! If only walls could talk…. Don’t you just love this corner?

Tina had cappuccino, Mocha for me, Iced Blended Chocoalte for Gabby. They also have cakes and other dishes but we’re very satiated with the dinner we had at Restoran Famosa.

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Just before sitting inside Casa Del Rio Cafe, we had our dinner at Restoran Famosa along Jonker Street. Here’s what we ordered :

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*Beancurd in Oyster Sauce.

Tina found it too salty while it’s fine with my palates. I also liked the consistency of the beancurd!

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*Roasted Chicken.

Either roasted or steamed, ayam or chicken is almost obligatory to eat when you’re anywhere in Malaysia.

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*Chicken Rice Balls from Restoran Famosa

They’ve got smaller versions of Chicken Rice Balls compared to the ones we had in Melaka Sentral. Restoran Famosa’s menu had it at 30 sen (cents) each.

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*Pork Barbecue.

It was a consensus decision to order Roasted Pork. When we did, the waitress told us, “Finished!”  The next best thing was to order the second best, BBQ. It was a different flavor compared to BBQ we have in Manila. It was like the common pork asado or Chinese pork something in Chinatown eateries in our country.

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*A simple Easter Sunday Malaccan Family Feast! :)

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*My plate!

No Malaysian meal is complete without chilli sauce!

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*Hotta! Hotta!

The highlight of our Malaccan food tripping was to taste their version of Cendol. To start with, I loved it. I fell in love it on the first scoop! Sorry Cendol in Penang Road, I liked you but Melaka Cendol won my heart and taste buds! Presentation-wise, each bowl looks clean and hygienic, the ingredients composed of red beans, finely shaved ice and that green thingy-cendol, were all better tasting than, dare I say, the one in Jalan Penang.

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The difference lies on their use of Gula (sugar) Melaka…
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Caramelized Gula Melaka in coconut milk : Killer combination! It reminded me of muscovado or unrefined brown sugar from my country. Sarap! Sedap! Delicious!
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*Yummy!!!

We loved everything we ate in Melaka! We cannot wait to go back to eat more! :D
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*Follow Tina on Ig @teenasantos, follow me on Ig @iamdocgelo ;)

This is NOT a sponsored post.

*This Melaka Blog Series includes :

 

 

12
Apr
13

MELAKA MEMORIES : MALACCA RIVER CRUISE

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*Ornate details of the elegantly handsome Victoria Regina fountain in front of Christ Church Melaka

The words on the tip of the fountain (not in photo) reads:

Victoria Regina 1837-1901, erected by the people of Malacca in memory of a great Queen 1904.”

In so many ways, Melaka is as a family-friendly destination. Along with her heritage trail that preserved colonial structures from her historic past, is a bunch of modern attractions from theme parks to charming coffee shops and teeming with food stalls and eateries and night bazaars and whatnot, that effortlessly appeal to all ages.  I must admit, Tina, Gabby and I were happy with our entire experience despite the fact that our three-day-two-night-family-trip was so unplanned, without hotel reservation and a limited budget at hand, everything surprisingly went smoothly and what really mattered most :

we all had fun! :D

In case you missed the previous posts on this series : On the afternoon of Black Saturday of 2013, we found ourselves in Malacca instead of crossing the southern Malaysian border on foot to revisit Singapore for a supposed sponsored trip (which was rescheduled last minute to fourth week of May due to unforseen circumstances; we cannot wait!).  Cliche as it may sound, it was truly a blessing in disguise as we finally discovered Melaka; we loved every moment we spent there to bits.

One of the highlights of our short break to one of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, was embarking on the touristy boat ride via the Malacca River Cruise.

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*Doing that touristy thing!

Before we rode the boat for that famous river cruise, we paid an almost obligatory visit to the iconic landmark, the Dutch Protestant, Christ Church Melaka…

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*Arguably, one of the most photographed places in entire Malaysia, the Christ Church Melaka

We admired that Queen Victoria fountain in front of the church…

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And never missed to take tons of photos, of course (oh, one of those things we do best! lol).  

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*Heavily armed and dangerous! lol

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*Happy we were here!

Christ Church Melaka, the Clock Tower and the Stadhuys Museum that was previously the administrative office, all in terracotta red color make up the Dutch Square or Red Square.

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After quick homage to those must-visit-spots, we walked our way to the jetty where ticket booth to the Melaka River Cruise is located.
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*I love this photo! While my lovely wife was ever ready for a close up, our adorable son’s busy with munching! Behind my family are another tourist drawers to Melaka -those overly adorned trishaws!

Few steps more, et voila! The area where the 45-minute-river-cruise starts. No, we didn’t ride that galleon ship, hahaha! I wish!

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We bought 15 rinngit per adult tickets and 7 ringgit per kid.  This is Malaysia so admission rates are higher foreigners. No further questions. ;)

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Finally, we had a glimpse our ride…
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It was our first time in Melaka and I was the most excited.  “Hey, wait, honey, Gabby.  Picture!”  :D

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The sight reminded me of  the title of a movie of my youth, “A River Runs Through It.”

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All aboard! Here we go!

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The boat passed under several pedestrian bridges that were vividly lighted by greens, blues and a few more hues at dusk.
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“On your right is the St. Francis Church…. on your left is….this…and that…”  heard from the recorded tour commentaries. With a reasonable price for the tour, I could not hope for a better interactive and live tour guiding. Or perhaps, there’s a boat with an actual tour guide but we had it otherwise.

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Moving on, the river is cleaner than I expected. I personally liked the presence of few pedestrian bridges that link streets along the river. Even delighted with the fact that no bridge was built the same. Each has its own design and character.

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River trees and mangroves keep the river alive.
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Here’s hoping the authorities could do more efforts in maintaining cleanliness in and along the river.
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Read somewhere that Melaka River was called, “Venice of the East.”  Wow! Thankfully, it didn’t stink. Keep up the cleanliness, please!

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Major attractions to the Malacca River Cruise were the colorful murals on the shop houses and inns and restaurants and residential and commercial buildings along the waters. It was something we had not seen before! Beautiful!

Spot the following : Vegetables, Moon Cake, Dim Sums, Rafflesia…
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Look, there’s a monorail!

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Monorail by the river. Amazing!

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The 45-minute-10-kilometer-river cruise could also be a hop-on, hop-off for passengers as there are a few jetties at one side. One group of tourist from our boat decided to alight after the boat took a turn at the river’s end to go back from where we started.

And it’s true that the best way to experience Malacca River Cruise is between 6 to 7PM (or onwards) when the sky starts to become blue. If you must know, sun down in Malaysia comes after 7:30PM or so.

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May not be a perfect photo but would love to share!
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I’m guessing, this is the Eye of Malacca…
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Passed under those well-lit pedestrian bridges…
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More murals…
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Blurry and imperfect and I’m so embracing it!
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Red, red, red!
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Then my family and I opted to hop off just in front of Christ Church Melaka in the Dutch Square…
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Eenie minie miny moe…
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There were a choices of restaurants and coffee shops on both sides of the river that apparently offer a romatic ambiance at night. I asked Tina if she wanted to have a dinner in any of those but she thought it might be more costly. We didn’t waste time and strolled our way to the nearby Jonker Street (I’ll have a separate blog post about it).
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For now, here’s a glimpse of Jonker Street…

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In my opinion, the Malacca River experience is never complete if one only saw her beauty from the boat. The river is totally different when the sun is up! Murals provide you another perspective at daytime.

Oops, do you see those dilapidated walls on the photo below? Something’s crying out loud for an urgent and careful restoration!
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Small inns and guesthouses for backpackers (If we only knew they’re here!), mini-groceries and eateries are where the murals on. We spotted a mini-pasar (mini-mart) and had some thirst-quenchers. Look at us, mag-ama, tambay sa Melaka! lol :P
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I was saddened by the sight that my most favorite mural along the Malacca River was dilapidated too! Authorities, when can you restore this? :(

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Had we known that guesthouses and inns are what most of these painted walls are made of, we could’ve spent our two nights in one of them.

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Stroll. Pause. Smile. Picture. Repeat. It’s a vicious yet happy cycle! Therapeutic actually! :D

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The Malaccans know how to do it! Look at these orchids and other blooms and greens! Bravo!!!
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Food murals along the Melaka River. Nice!
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Photos, more photos!!!
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My favorite mural, that Chinese Lion!
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Another mural not to be overlooked…
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Worries were melted, nothing in mind but fun, fun, fun with the family!
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We’ll cherish all our fun and colorful memories from Melaka forever!

*This Melaka Blog Series includes :

*Since we had a CHANGE of travel destination from supposed Singapore to Malacca, this is my entry to WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE : CHANGE

16
Mar
13

MORE THAN A PLATEFUL OF CHAR KOAY TEOW

As life has been teaching me, inspiration and motivation usually spring not (only) from those famous and authoritative people but (even) from those ordinary individuals with outstanding or at least, remarkable characters. It also holds true when it comes to my perception about places. I try my best not to underestimate places that look modest and cheap as it may be rewarding than expected.

Case in point, this hawker stall in front of a common-looking-eatery in Penang called, Kafe Heng Huat located at Lorong Selamat, one of the laterals of Jalan Macalister in George Town, Penang. If you must know, every hawker stall in this part of Southeast Asia appears almost the same. Apparently, they differ in the goods they offer. It turned out that my initial sampling of my ultimate favorite Malaysian dish, Char Koay Teow from Kafe Heng Huat didn’t only sustain me and satisfied my craving for that noodle dish but taught me some essential that money certainly can’t buy.

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PASSION. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I personally saw untiring love for what she does that probably clearly makes every plate of CKT she prepares arguably the BEST in the entire Pulau Pinang.

Meet Soon Chuan Choo that according to the broadsheet article posted on the wall of this restaurant, has been cooking CKT for 45 years (the feature in Bangkok newspaper written in English was dated 2012). For someone who continuously does the same routine on a daily basis over those decades without boredom and fatigue, it must because of pure passion and love for it.

Penang, you’re very luck to have Aunty Soon Chuan Choo! She must be a living Heritage for cooking this Malaysian noodle dish for more than 4 decades and counting!

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Look at my lunch freshly cooked as per order. Take note of the size of those prawns! A plateful of CKT from Aunty Soon is definitely worth it at 10 ringgit!
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Because every plate is only prepared upon order, it took around 10 minutes of waiting before I savored this version of CKT recommended to me by Malaysian-blogger and friend, Emily of www.millymin.com and incidentally, by our colleague and friend who’s now back in the Philippines with his family, Doc Noel. According to his previous observations that he shared on the comment-thread of my CKT-photo on fb, he remembers this lady to be somewhat in unpleasant mood while cooking; perhaps, because she doesn’t want to be disturbed of the long queue with many orders; she remains so focused on cooking Char Koay Teow then and now. Aunty Soon may not offer anyone a smile and obviously has an attitude towards work but that’s how she delivers a perfect plate. If people go to Kafe Heng Huat for her Char Koay Teow over the past 4 decades, I think it confirms that she’s doing it right.

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The view from where I sat. Packed with hungry diners, mostly locals who know what’s best in their area.

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Waiting wasn’t an issue to me as I saw this signage when I went to my table.
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So I gave in and ordered one of Malaysian popular desserts.
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At only around 3 ringgit, I managed to go against the scorching sunny weather with Ais Kacang (pronounced as ice ka-chang) which is made of finely shaved ice, milk, sweet corn, jelly strips, nata de coco and red beans topped with a scoop of ice cream. Sedap! Sarap!  Reminds me of our very own smilar dessert in the Philippines, Halo-halo. So perfect for summer!

In my 3 years of working in Penang, I oftenly go to Gurney Drive when I crave for a tasteful Char Koay Teow.  Here’s a capture of that CKT :
Char Koay Teow, Penang

But suggestions from friends proved that there are other far better options. This Malaysian dish of fried flat noodles, mixed with chili sauce, tofu, egg, sprouts, cockles, Chinese chorizo or pork sausage and larger prawns can give that CKT from the hawker stall in Gurney Drive a tough competition on my list.

It was a pleasure eating Aunty Soon’s specialty :

penang's char koay teow from lorong selamat, george town, penang via docgelo.com

Edited : Doc Noel added on his comment on fb that Aunty Soon was noted to be strict on schedule, as he saw a nice family with kids came 5 minutes past closing time, and Aunty did not give in. I understand her being strict but a little consideration and a smile would not hurt.

Somehow, I see myself in Aunty Soon’s character. People easily judged me to have an attitude, ridiculously an anti-social but that’s how they define not my character but theirs.  Like her, I am also particular with schedules, I rarely come late on appointments as I value time and punctuality. I am strict and stick with rules particularly my own. I always try to give everything in what I do.

For as long as we’re here in Penang, I’ll surely return to Kafe Heng Huat for another serving of Aunty Soon’s Char Koay Teow. Each plate is inspiring!

>><<

*This post with all of its photos is my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : Lunchtime

16
Jan
13

CHIANG MAI SERIES : BEST WAY TO DISCOVER

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Arguably, the best way to discover a place is to explore its public market. It’s a common venue where tourists and travelers casually commune with the local people and find their food and commodities that more often than not, represent a slice of their culture and lifestyle. Whenever I get a chance to bring my feet to a town or city that’s new to my senses,  a planned or otherwise visit to a palengke, mercado, marche or pasar always makes a trip worthwhile. And what I did immediately after I checked in to my guesthouse in Chiang Mai wasn’t an exception.

Luck was on my side when I found out that A Little Bird Guesthouse is just a stone’s throw away from the main road in downtown Chiang Mai. After a few steps from the narrow alley where that backpackers’ favorite is located, this park at the middle of the road greeted me.
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Tuk tuk as King of the roads. This must be Thailand!
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Before I rode a tuk tuk en route to the market that was recommended to me by the one managing the guesthouse, I strolled my way to this Wat or temple.
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My first sighting of the image of the Enlightened One in this part of Thailand.
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And His people who best know the importance of being stress-free doing what else but Tai chi!
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Walk, walk, walk…
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It was almost past 6PM and this part of Asia had the sun still shining! Just like in Malaysia, it’s amazing!
Saw a handicraft store that’s very usual in my part of the globe.
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Then I came back to the main road and hopped on this tuk tuk. Meet my first ride in Chiang Mai…
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Off we goooooo! :)
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For 60 baht or 6 ringgit (USD 2), the friendly old driver took me to the near end of Chiang Mai Night Bazaar in Chiang Khlan Road called Anusarn Market. The ride took around 20 minutes but was not a problem to me for my eyes enjoyed what they saw.
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Without a map at hand and no research on the place prior to the trip, I really thought the first market I saw was the Anusarn itself until the tuk tuk driver continued to drive amidst the Thai traffic.
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Every corner of each street and alley is picturesque! Shot this while inside the tuk tuk..
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At last, Anusarn Market!
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Spotted these colored foldable plastic lanterns; I liked it for being so light and handy; notice its packaging?  I passed it up for I was so conscious of my limited budget.
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Low cost everything is what Anusarn Market boasts of. If you’re a Filipino, you’ll feel its Divisoria-like appeal!
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Admittedly, I didn’t come to this market to shop but more so to EAT. I was told at the guesthouse that authentic and cheap Thai dishes are best eaten here so I went. First restaurant I saw was this Seafood something. I chickened out prior to flipping a sample of its menu at its entrance. I was allergic at steep prices at that time.
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I gazed at its right side and I was attracted to eat there. More spacious, open air, looked more affordable and delicious.
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The view from where I sat…
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And here’s my first set of authentic Thai meal from Chiang Mai…
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Green Papaya Salad, Pork Satay, Pad Thai. Mango Juice. Nagutom po ako sa layo ng biyahe!  Paid THB 300 (30 ringgit or USD 10) for everything. I was so hungry that everything tasted good. It was already dusk when I finished everything.
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I roamed around and checked the stalls. I saw these Northern Thailand hats handcrafted by hilltribes. I almost bought a piece but I told myself to hold on to my pocket. I ended up buying one for Gabby from a refugee in the village I visited the next day.
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I didn’t shop anything at Anusarn and the night market close to it except a handmade sling bag for 170 baht that I used during my short stay in Chiang Mai. I bought a few souvenirs for Tina and Gabby somewhere else. Nonetheless, my eyes and camera feasted on what they saw…
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Can anyone identify these yarn-looking dolls? Are they used for witchcraft? lol

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Cute Jack Sparrow.
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If only Gabby has little baby sister…
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Cool handmade robots…
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Girls must like these. Are they pillbox or what?
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Amidst all commercialism, poverty still exists.

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Moving on. Thai massage, anyone?
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Must be relaxing from all the walking and shopping…
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I headed to the main road and hailed tuk tuk again. Dropped by Tesco convenience store and bought bread and a liter of distilled water before walking back to my guesthouse. Along the way, I saw these adult-themed Thai art works on a wall. What can I say? Ahhhhhhrtistic! :P
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That ended my first day in Chiang Mai.  I started my 4D3N in this city by going to Anusarn Market and likewise, I wrapped up everything by spending my last night at another palengke, the Tha Phae Gate Night Market.
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This brick-walled gate located at the center of the main road is also a walking-distance to where I stayed in Chiang Mai. In short, access was hassle-free. And because it was few days before welcoming the New Year, the Tha Phae Night Market was beaming with all its glory.
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The father in me melted when I saw this.
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While this Saturday Night Market serves as work place to some, it’s a cheap shopping paradise to everyone…
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Arts for sale. I want! But never dared to ask the price. :(

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There was a stage and a program that made the mood in Tha Phae Gate even more festive!

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I spent my last day in Chiang Mai the best way I know how. It was a FOOD PORN night for me!

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Thrilled with EXOTIC food? Crocodile perhaps?
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What about Deer or Ostrich? Thank God, they’re labelled honestly.
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I almost gave in to these New Zealand mussels and Razor Clams…
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Until I craved for another dose of Pad Thai…
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After all, I never eat too much of this noodle dish when I’m out of Thailand, therefore INDULGE!
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My last meal in the Rose of the North : Pad Thai, Bacon Wrapped Enoki, all washed down with fresh Coconut juice!
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If shopping in Chiang Mai could not seduce you, eating Thai food would definitely lure you.

*This Chiang Mai Blog Series includes :

>><<

03
Jan
13

HOLIDAY FEASTS

Christmas 2012 Blog Series includes :

 

>><<

Celebrated Noche Buena or Christmas Eve dinner inside our room in JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur (and before eyebrows reach the penthouse and rooftops, we got the promo-rate for this deluxe room with free buffet breakfast months prior the Yuletide season).

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Tina phoned the concierge and asked for goblets, cake cutter, some saucers and forks. Luck was indeed with us because everything was provided free of charge.

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From Mercato grocery at the basement of Pavilion Mall, we bought an affordable chilled white wine from Australia and a chocolate-flavored milk for Gabby and one of the most decadent chocolate cakes we had was purchased from a bakeshop called, Lavander. Et voila! Our family’s Noche Buena! :D

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Back in our current home in Butterworth, Penang,  Media Noche or New Year’s Eve dinner was simply savored.  Although without conscious efforts, it was apparent that we did not deviate from the usual Filipino tradition to prepare round and circle things on the dining table to symbolize good fortune, joy and prosperity in welcoming the New Year. We trooped to the grocery on the late morning of December 31st and joined the shopping rush. We had some fruits (although it’s customary, we didn’t have the complete 13 round fruits to represent 12 prosperous months and an extra), and on the last minute, Tina decided to prepare sushi all from scratch.
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A few round fresh fruits, the classic fruit salad, some round cheese pita and some round and homecooked sushi sans the use of a sushi mat (we didn’t find any in the grocery!) all washed  down by Orange drink and our New Year’s Eve dinner was done. Odd combination, I know but it worked for the three of us! :)

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Believe it or not, we already spent a Holiday feast for only fifty pesos back in 2009 (blog post HERE!).

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Fastforward to 2013 again, we welcomed the New Year with high hopes and spirits at the comfort of our 11th floor apartment in Penang. Although we spent a little more than 50 pesos this time, what matters most isn’t the cost of anything but the happiness of being together as a family. Moments were priceless!
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From our tiny porch, we enjoyed few minutes of fireworks from George Town across the bay and the highway right in front of our apartment.

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We’re grateful to the Lord for all the blessings- big & small that He has been showering us! We don’t have everything but there are a ton of reasons to be thankful for! We remain appreciative of the fact that Tina, Gabby and I are together in our work place here in Penang and we know it’s already a huge blessing that not all Overseas Filipino Worker could enjoy. :D

Happy New Year, everyone!

>><<

01
Jan
13

‘TWAS THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2012

Christmas 2012 Blog Series includes :

 

>><<

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

>><<

09
Dec
12

THE 2012 OF BEYOND TOXICITY @ DOCGELO.COM

THANK YOU, 2012!

It’s only mid-December and the BEST SEASON, the BEST CELEBRATIONS are yet to come.

Despite all problems, challenges and daily hassles, counting blessings makes life more meaningful.

Words are not enough to express my gratitude for everything that happened to this personal passion called blogging.

Allow me to press the replay button, and sentimentally share with you once more

the vibrant and happy colors that made our family’s 2012 a kaleidoscope!

>>><<<

May 2012 : BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARDS from MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA

May 2012 BlogAwardsMay 2012 MITBCA

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/09/2012-ministry-of-tourism-malaysia-best-expat-blog/

January 2012 :  BATU CAVES, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

January 2012 Batu Caves

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/01/27/caves-and-bears/

January 2012 :  PETRONAS TWIN TOWERS SKYBRIDGE VISIT

January 2012 Petronas Twin Towers

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/01/21/our-fun-homage-to-malaysias-magnificence/

February 2012 : HONG KONG DISNEYLAND THEME PARK & HOTEL SPONSORED TRIP

Feb 2012 HKDisney
February 2012 HK Disneyland
February 2012 Hong Kong Disneyland
February 2012 HKDL

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/02/23/our-hong-kong-disneyland-trip-2012-arrival-lunch/

http://docgelo.com/2012/02/27/our-hong-kong-disnyeland-trip-2012-spectacular-burst-of-colors/

http://docgelo.com/2012/03/01/our-hong-kong-disneyland-trip-2012-timeless-magic/

May 2012 : HAVING MY OWN DOMAIN + BLOG HEADER

blog header

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/25/happy-blogging/

May 2012 : AN INVITATION from @ SAKAE SUSHI, GEORGE TOWN, PENANG

May 2012 Sakae Sushi
May 2012 SS

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/28/love-affair-with-japanese-food-continues/

May 2012 :  INVITATION to PENANG SPICE TRAIL from MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA PENANG BRANCH

May 2012 Penang Spice Trail

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/22/penang-spice-trail-enticing-sensory-experience/

June 2012 : SHOWCASING GEORGE TOWN, PENANG 

June 2012 Penang Street Art

June 2012 Street arts Penang
June 2012 GT
June 2012 Intro to George Town
June 2012 GT Penang

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/06/24/how-i-introduced-george-town-penang/

July 2012 : PHOTO PUBLISHED ON LONELY PLANET ASIA MAGAZINE

July 2012 LP
July 2012 Lonely Planet

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/07/17/surreal/

July 2012 : INVITATION from SINGAPORE BLOG AWARDS  | FAR EAST HOSPITALITY HOTELS -

OASIA HOTEL SPONSORED 3D2N ACCOMODATION

INVITATION from MARINA BAY SANDS SKYPARK | HARRY POTTER EXHIBITION -

ANDY WARHOL EXHIBITION

jULY 2012 MBS Sg a1 bar
July 2012 Sg MBS
July 2012 Sg Harry Potter
July 2012 Oasia
July 2012 Sg Blog Awards
cooled conservatories from sands skypark, marina bay sands
marina bay sands, gardens by the bay

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/25/oasia-my-oasis-in-singapore-2012/

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/28/marina-bay-sands-my-awesome-experience/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/08/infinite-dose-of-spring-gardens-by-the-bay/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/05/singapore-on-greater-heights/

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/27/a-bloggers-weekend-in-singapore-lah/

July 2012 : HARD ROCK HOTEL PENANG SPONSORED 3D2N ACCOMODATION

July 2012 HRHP
July 2012 HRHOTEL
July 2012 Hard Rock
July 2012 HRHP 2
July 2012 HRHP room
July 2012 HRHP 3

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/01/glorious-food-porn-hard-rock-hotel-penang/

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/31/our-rock-roll-family-weekend-hard-rock-hotel-penang/

 August 2012 : BANGKOK, THAILAND

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reclining buddha
buddha's face in wat pho
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mystic place bangkok 4tina & gabby at amari watergate lobby
daddy's boy heichinrou bangkok

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/20/bangkok-series-2012-grand-palace/

http://docgelo.com/2012/09/01/bangkok-2012-series-golden-reclining-buddha/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/23/bangkok-2012-series-we-highly-recommend-mystic-place/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/25/bangkok-2012-series-chatuchak-weekend-market/

http://docgelo.com/2012/09/04/bangkok-2012-series-heichinrou/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/28/bangkok-2012-series-penang-bangkok-penang-via-bus/

September 2012 : INVITATION from LEGOLAND MALAYSIA

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blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/09/22/our-legoland-malaysia-experience-2012/

September 2012 : SINGAPORE ONCE MORE WITH TINA & GABBY

july 2012 singapore

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/09/29/a-saturday-in-singapore/

October 2012 : FINALIST in PHOTO CONTEST @ CHINAHOUSE,

GEORGE TOWN, PENANG, MALAYSIA

chinahouse george town penang

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/11/11/we-got-free-brunch-chinahouse/

November 2012 : EXCLUSIVE INVITATION to FOOD TASTING @ FEAST VILLAGE,

STARHILL GALLERY.

SKYBAR @ TRADERS HOTEL | CHYNNA @ HILTON HOTEL | 7ATENINE @ ASCOTT  

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

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blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/17/village-bar-an-underground-fantasy/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/20/my-delicious-afternoon-at-feast-village-starhill-gallery/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/14/intoxicating-views/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/24/7atenine/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/23/dining-chinese/

November 2012 : SPONSORED AIRLINE FOOD REVIEW

November 2012 Airline Food Review

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/11/26/malaysian-dishes-on-air-an-airline-food-review/

December 2012 : PHOTOSHOOT for FAMILY PORTRAIT @ MACALISTER MANSION, PENANG

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blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/12/02/weekend-at-macalister-mansion/

We commissioned one of the brilliant Malaysian photographers from Penang to do our family photos on the first day of December for an hour of unlimited shots at a very reasonable cost and a week after, he posted these two teaser-proofs on his facebook account. The rest of the photos will be delivered in weeks time.

family portrait december 1 2012
family portrait

As of this blogging, I’m also waiting for the result of ExpatBlogs.Com Best Expat Blog Awards

of which my site is nominated and currently 3rd among 13 expat blogs in Malaysia

(blog post : http://docgelo.com/support-docgelo/).

I’m also excited to share my interview and blog feature on InterNations.Org based in Germany soon!

On a more serious note,

Thank you to those people who lifted our spirits during our lowest moments this year.

Thank you to those generous souls who helped us in so many ways during those trying times.

Thank you to my blog readers, followers and fellow bloggers who have been a constant inspiration.

Advance Happy Holidays! A Blessed Christmas And A More Prosperous New Year to all of us!

THANK YOU SO MUCH, LORD ALMIGHTY!

All Glory and Honor is Yours, Now and Forever!

>>><<<

This is also my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : My 2012 In Pictures

02
Dec
12

WEEKEND AT MACALISTER MANSION

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My family and I welcomed the first day of the last month of the year with smiles from ear to ear as we spent a lovely weekend afternoon in one of the most charming boutique hotels in George Town, Penang, the Macalister Mansion.

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It was Tina who initially thought of having a family portrait this year as our last was taken more than couple of years ago in a small commercial photo studio back home. Immediately after my wife professed that she wanted for us to have a decent family photoshoot, I googled the web and the first name that popped out of the screen impressed both of us with his work. Serendipitously, we commissioned Sunny Tan for an hour of photo session and we’re glad to choose him as our photographer! He’s so easy to work with; days prior to our schedule, he’s so pleasant to communicate with. We asked for his suggested venues for the photoshoot and everything seemed fine but Macalister Mansion was on the top of my list. I was so happy we all agreed! Even happier that for a change, I got to be on the frames of the photos again as I was photographed with my family unlike my usual role of being behind the lens all the time taking the shots. :)

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As a courtesy, I just had to notify Macalister Mansion about our plan to do the photo session at their lawn and in one of their restaurants. Tina and I were glad to received a positive response from them. The staff was really accomodating and friendly. We appreciated the fact that even their Events Manager gave me a call, hours before our schedule. Too bad their Dining Room restaurant was still closed at our chosen time and they had to prepare for a reserved function so we settled for Macalister Mansion’s Living Room restaurant and their lawn that are equally sleek, splendid and pretty.

We’re all excited to do the shoot however, despite the fact that it was sunshiny all Saturday morning, it started to drizzle at early evening. Nonetheless, our photographer’s brilliant skills shone brighter when he worked with whatever we’re left with. We cannot wait to share it on this blog and on our facebook sites as soon as Sunny’s done with everything in few weeks or so. We told him it’s not only for our family’s keepsake but will be part of our Christmas memories this year and our upcoming 9th Wedding Anniversary by first week of January 2013.  He promised to deliver the photos soon!

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As we wanted to maximize the afternoon, unwind and free our minds from daily hassles, we went to the Living Room restaurant in Macalister Mansion around 3 hours prior to our photo session. My family and I sampled a few from their tea time menu.

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TWG English Breakfast Tea pot for me, uniquely paired it with Mango Sticky Rice topped with Ice Cream. Tina enjoyed her Cappuccino and Strawberry Tart while Gabby had a tasty slice of Chocolate Cake and Berry-Smoothies. Several minutes after, the kiddo requested another plate; he downed Spaghetti with Beef Ragout. What a wonderful light meal we had! Everything’s deliciously divine!

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When Gabby and I went to the tandas (toilet) for the necessary bladder break, we saw more fascinating things that pleased our eyes.

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Look, the white bear found his match… :P

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So here are my loving and beautiful dates at the Living Room of Macalister Mansion…

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Despite and in spite of everything, there are a lot of things to be thankful for! And as for December, it’s indeed the most wonderful time of the year; it’s the happiest season of all!

*This is NOT a sponsored post. However, my family and I would like to thank the following :

Sunny San | http://www.sunnysan.com/ | Sunny San on facebook | Happy Family by Sunny San on fb

Macalister Mansion | 228 Macalister Road 10400 GeorgeTown, Penang |  http://macalistermansion.com/

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27
Nov
12

TOKYO STREET

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With the sight of that giant Japanese lantern, there was a flashback. Vivid memories of my day in Asakusa (blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2010/04/06/letters-about-tokyo-12-asakusa-temple/ ) after I rode the train in Tokyo from Gotanda to its tail end just to experience that much celebrated temple and my very first glimpse of cherry blossom.  Fourteen long days in Tokyo back in the first quarter of 2010 were already etched in my cerebrum and shall never be forgotten. Cue dramatic music here! Toinks! ;)
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Reality instantly kicked in and I lost that state of being surreal.  I wasn’t in the Land of the Rising Sun any more and it’s no longer Asakusa but Tokyo Street -the Japanese themed precinct located at the 6th level of Kuala Lumpur’s premier mall – Pavilion.

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Vibrant colors of gold, red and green decors greeted shoppers and tourists like me at Pavilion’s lobby.

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15th November 2012, Thursday. It was a public holiday in Malaysia; exactly a day prior my filed-work-leave to renew my passport at the embassy. My stomach was still empty; I can almost hear its borborygmi growling after that 4-hour-bus-ride from Penang. Well, not actually since I munched on a hotdog sandwich and drowned myself with a bottle of Coke on the bus en route to KL. But that was hours ago! It was way past lunch time and I needed to hail a taxi cab to Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang from my budget hotel after a quick check-in-and-drop-the-bag- plus a hurried shower.

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SUCCESS!  At 2:45PM, I was already strolling around Tokyo Street and snapping my cam on a whim. I was even a bit early to the 3PM call time with fellow Filipino bloggers who work in Kuala Lumpur and requested for a casual meet up. When I was about to make a call, I found out that my mobile prepaid load expired already, and I had to hunt for a shop that sells top up in a jiffy.

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Just before I went down to resurrect my mobile again, I was happy to take all those photos around Tokyo Street. Apparently, the place is a pretty slice of Japan in Malaysia’s metropolis. Everything from food, gadgets, bags, toys and even potted bonsai remind you of Tokyo! It certainly adds to the infinite reasons why people should troop to Pavilion Mall!

As I reached the 6th level again and stepped out of the escalator, I easily spotted Sky and Summer -the Filipino bloggers who invited me for this meet up. After cordial greetings, we didn’t waste a second and went to Tokyo Teppan for that much-needed-lunch.

SILENCE. We immediately browsed the menu and ordered something to eat. Not long enough and we’re talking about our experiences adapting to living and working in Malaysia. Glad we shared almost the same views and insights about being OFWs.

I was a happy diner once more with my two lunch plates. Yes, you read it right. I had two plates. Perhaps, this clearly proved my delusion that I’m a half-blood Japanese in the past life! ;) I thought it so because I believe, when in Japanese, must eat sashimi! :)

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Those freshest slices are one of my kryptonites! Indulge in another shot…
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Then my second plate was Chicken Teppanyaki. Tender, tasteful, terribly delightful! :)

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Except for the next photo, the bloggers -Sky and Summer together with their friend, Leo ordered their own which I didn’t photographed. I was too shy to do so! *insert evil laugh here*

Aren’t those fish roe embracing each maki’s a visual feast? Mouthwatering to me!!!

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Meet Sky and Summer, the bloggers behind Boundfortwo.com. Thanks, Leo for taking the pic!

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After that shot for posterity, I thought everything’s done with the nice meet up and great lunch, not after  Sky brought out a printed copy of my photo that was fortunately published on LONELY PLANET ASIA MAGAZINE  (blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2012/07/17/surreal/) a few months back. I honestly didn’t expect he was serious when he mentioned he’ll ask for my autograph on it. Imagine, he even brought a permanent marker for my signature as if a simple ink would not suffice! It’s an oh-em-gee-facepalm-moment for me!

*photo of the print out by Sky and Summer.
Khlong Hae Markey Taken By Doc Gelo Published in Lonely Planet

What can I say but THANK YOU! According to them, this photo that they actually saw on a page of Lonely Planet Asia Magazine in Popular Bookstore in Kuala Lumpur inspired them to travel to Hat Yai via crossing the borders of Malaysia and Thailand on foot.
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Maraming salamat for that kind words and gesture of respect!

Hope they get to visit Penang soon!

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26
Nov
12

MALAYSIAN DISHES ON AIR : AN AIRLINE FOOD REVIEW

I don’t usually eat on board particularly if it’s only a short flight as I usually ingest something either at home or in a coffee shop at the terminal few hours prior boarding. Thus, I rarely have history of reviewing inflight meals. And the few times I’ve eaten during flights can be easily counted with fingers on one hand. Those were during our direct flight via Philippine Airlines from Manila to LAX back in 2000; then if my memory serves me right, my wife and I also munched on something on board Lufthansa Airlines from Manila to Bangkok for our honeymoon in 2004; it was followed by our trip from Manila-Bendar Seri Begawan-Brisbane-Auckland in New Zealand for our 7 week break in 2005 via Royal Brunei Airlines and during my solo-trip to Tokyo from Manila via Philippine Airlines in 2010. Limited history, easy to recall. ;)

When an opportunity to review airline food for SKYSCANNER as I was generously recommended by a fellow blogger and friend, Gael of ThePinaySoloBackpacker.com (THANK YOU!), I became thrilled! All the stars in the universe were aligned as chance paved the way for me to particpate as one of the 1,500 travellers from 53 countries who joined this airline food review. Destiny it was as it coincided with my planned trip from Penang to Kuala Lumpur to apply for a renewal of my passport at the Philippine Embassy. I took a 4-hour-bus-ride en route to Malaysia’s capital, stayed there for 3D2N and boarded the morning flight of Air Asia from KL-LCCT to Penang a couple of weekends ago.

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It was the very first time for me to eat on board Air Asia. It was my first time to enjoy local Malaysian dishes at 24,000 feet!

What did I choose? Despite the volume of choices Air Asia has, it’s easy to spot what to order online because their menu has my favorites! Well, except for Char Koay Teow! LOL! :D

air asia airline food

Chicken Satay Combo

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My review with ratings based on scale 1-10; 10 being the highest :

Value for money :  9.

With 5 sticks well-seasoned, skewered and grilled chicken meat completely served with ketupat or rice cakes, slivers of onions and delicious peanut sauce, Air Asia’s Chicken Satay Combo is reasonably priced at RM12 or USD 3.90. The price and quality are incomparable to those sold in ordinary hawker stalls. Its cost is really affordable, even the most keen on budget will agree! Satisfying the craving of this favorite Malaysian dish because of its availability at 24,000 feet makes everything worth it!

Taste : 10

What can I say but I love its taste! I have sampled this dish a multiple times from hawker stalls to five-star hotels in Penang & Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and in Singapore too, but Air Asia’s version is a sure delight to the palate; it became one of my favorite versions officially! The grilled chicken meat’s so tender with no overpowering taste,  its peanut sauce isn’t irritatingly spicy and compliments the chicken meat and ketupat best. This combo is satisfyingly good! I will definitely order it again next time!

Presentation : 8

The packaging is neat and clean but could have been better if the entire set is in microwavable and the peanut sauce is tightly capped in plastic container rather than sealed with foil and thick paper. As Chicken Satay Combo came with plastic spoon and fork in vibrant red Air Asia color and tissue all packed inside transparent plastic, it certainly provides an easy and no-mess-eating!

Menu Choices : 10

Impressive variety and volume of choices –both the must-try-local-dishes and some of the favorite Western eats. The downside is difficulty in choosing. Need I say more?

Overall Rating : 9.25 out of 10, with 10 being the highest. I’m a happy diner on sky! (Oops, but I had everything as takeaway!)

Then I thought, I would be happier if I’ll have two to sample. The more the merrier, right? *snickers*

Chicken Tandoori Wrap

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Ratings based on scale 1-10; 10 being the highest :

Value for money :  9.

With only RM 9 or USD 2.93, this impressive inflight meal offers a lot than one could imagine. It reinvented our family’s favorite, Chicken Tandoori (that we usually eat with Cheese Garlic Naan) as a Chicken Tandoori Wrap. I will pay 9 ringgit any time to this snack that’s not commonly found in our kitchen. Innovative and creative bites on air!

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Taste : 9

The classic taste of Tandoori is there which I really like. The deliciously seasoned and shredded Chicken Tandoori meat complimented the tortilla and the thinly sliced cucumber and greens. I wished they also served Mango Lassi that will make the Indian-Malaysian dining experience complete!

Presentation : 10

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The two piece-Chicken Tandoori Wrap is properly packed in recyclable carton complete with labels, list of ingredients, nutritional facts, storage instruction and allergy information that aren’t commonly found.

Menu Choices : 10

Same reasons as mentioned above.

Overall Ratings : 9.5 out of 10 with 10 being the highest.

I asked the flight crew to provide me something to pack the meals I ordered as I had them as takeaway. I brought it home to Tina and Gabby but they’re stuffed during the time of my arrival at home, so I ended up really wolfing down those two Malaysian favorite dishes alone. Delicious!!!

*This is a sponsored post. THANK YOU very much to SkyScanner  | http://www.skyscanner.com.ph/

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25
Nov
12

HER SPECIAL DAY THIS YEAR

Mic test. mic test. mic test. Test 1. 2. 3. Test….

I’d like to dedicate this song to my beautiful & loving wife, Tina.

And I hope she’ll like it.

Ugh hem…*clears throat*

*inhale, sing*

“Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday….

Happy Birthday to you!” 

25 November 2012. Sunday. It’s officially two days after Tina turned 36. She doesn’t look her age, does she? She’ll kill me for posting this. But heck, we don’t need to hide our age; at least we’re still young and have so many years ahead of us! And because her Natal day this year was a Friday, she wanted no fancy celebration at work nor at home. Honestly, I even volunteered to cook her pasta or buy her a cake but she chose otherwise. Yes, I had to ask her as she doesn’t like surprises. She wanted a simple family celebration the weekend after her special day.

Here we go.

Around 10AM, we walked from Jetty in Weld Quay in George Town, Penang to ChinaHouse. En route, we surprisingly saw one of the recently installed murals in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Must have photo-ops.

Taaaaadaaaah!!! :D
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10: 20AM. ChinaHouse.

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If you’re following this blog, you certainly know that Gabby and I already enjoyed ChinaHouse (I even won a 100-ringgit-voucher here via their photo contest recently). However, it was Tina’s first time so we’re all quite excited for her. We didn’t have any reservation but we’re quite early, so we’re lucky to avail a table for three.

Breakfast. What’s for breakfast?

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After I quickly spotted my choices (plural!) from ChinaHouse’s menu, I told the two loves of my life that I’ll take some shots first. They absolutely know the drill so they didn’t mind me. :)

The table beside us. Lovely.
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The painting above it. Lovelier.

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Then I walked few steps, I saw this grills on the door. Loveliest.

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More pleasant things you don’t see on a daily basis…

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For the second time, I’m telling you –if you’re following this blog, you know I’ve featured ChinaHouse a couple of times already but it has more fascinating corners to explore.

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Back to my family…. Picture!!!

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The table behind ours has a pretty painting too. Picture!!!

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Good food, nice art works, a wine cellar, a library, a coffee shop and a restaurant, a concert bar, a great chill out place under a Heritage roof!

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Meanwhile, here’s a showcase of how beautiful my family is!

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Then the FOOD. Glorious first meal of the day.

Tina and I agreed to share on a 10-ringgit pot of Jasmine tea. Soothing!
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The birthday girl decided for a cheese omelet plate. She and Gabby liked it. I liked it too! :)
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From the kiddie meal menu, our 8-year-old-wonder boy opted for spaghetti with cheese beef balls. He didn’t finish it. We had it as takeaway and we wolfed it down as dinner at home. It’s not your ordinary spaghetti. The beef flavor’s too strong for our palates. Must be Malaysian; I might be wrong.
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While I chose Big Breakfast, I thought it’s a misnomer. I believed it should have been named Biggest Breakfast!!!

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Boy, oh boy! McDonald’s version would look like less. Just so you know, I didn’t finish it too. I saved the bread slices which were really good, as takeaway too. Because I had a humongous plate, I passed up the desserts.

While Tina and Gabby were anticipating theirs. Here’s what they had.

Gabby’s choice : Eggnog Cheesecake. Sarap!
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Tina went for a slice of Marjolaine. Mas masarap!!! 

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She sliced her cake into halves… et voila!

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One more time, with feelings! LOL! :)
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Packed everything for takeaway. Settled the bill and burp! :P

Then we went up the art gallery of ChinaHouse. Picture!!!

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ahhhhhhh!!!!!  :D

Around half hour past 1PM, we hopped on the bus and we trooped to Queensbay Mall. We did a little shopping for some necessities and off we went to another gastronomic feast. Well, not actually. We planned to drop by J.Co Donuts and purchase a box for takeaway. Yes, another takeaway. You know, for dinner, for breakfast and dinner again the next day. To fill in the fridge!

And so our bloodstream became hyperglycemic again with these donuts that FILIPINOS in Metro Manila are currently going crazy about (Read: They’re on queue for at least an hour for these J.Co Donuts. For real!!!)!!! It must be the donuts or my fellowmen or both. I cannot blame them; these donuts are indeed softer than Krispy Kreme, GoNuts Donuts and Dunkin Donuts; although I love ‘em all! :)

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In our more than two years here in Penang, I think it’s only second time we savored J.Co. And again, there was no long queues.

Here are those freebies that go with our drinks…
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DELICIOUS!!!

Tina loved her Cappuccino and JCoccino donut!

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While I enjoyed Berry Berrymore! (sounds like Drew Barrymore!)
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More pictures…
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And I cannot agree more with J.Co….

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I love you, Tina & Gabby! :)

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24
Nov
12

7ATENINE

7atenine

The quirky name of this restaurant-bar in one of the premier serviced apartments located at the heart of Kula Lumpur is enough for me to be interested. Who would not be enticed with 7atenine? I think it’s pretty neat name for a chill-out place. Glad I found time to drop by during my solo-3D2N-visit in Malaysia’s capital.

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Before your imagination soars high, I didn’t drown myself into spirits nor alcohol at 7atenine. I passed up sampling one of their beverages because number 1, I think it’s too much as I already had from the other bar (blog post HERE!) and number 2, I’m not alcoholic anyway. I mean, I need not explain myself but I only drink on rare occasions and of course, during social gatherings (Now, I remember those days back home when I was frequently invited for events like wine & food pairing. Ahhhhh, the perks of blogging!).

7atenine

“7atenine is an award winning International restaurant & supperclub where ‘you never know who you’ll meet’. Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, her cool, stylish & contemporary ambience is accented by splashes of fuchsia & turquoise. 7atenine has 2 realms of recreation…. Sevenspoons dining on the mezzanine & the Supperclub on the ground floor. Cosmopolitan cuisine is complemented by a premium range of alcoholic beverages ranging from champagnes, wines, cocktails by our award winning mixologists to local & imported beers and liquor. pulsating retro remixes and house beats permeate the atmosphere cementing 7atenine as a firm favourite amongst chic night birds.” ~Sourced from their website : www.soulsociety.com.my/7atenine

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Doesn’t it look like a great place to chill out, savor the good house music and indulge? With only my appetite in tow and with no reservation which I don’t promote, I brought my feet to 7atenine and enjoyed a couple of choices from their menu.

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Linguini Seafood, RM39++ (USD 12.75++ ). Tossed with sautéed scallops, prawns, mussels & squid.

One word : DELICIOUS!

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Despite a number of must-try-entrees from 7atenine’s menu, I knew I was craving for something like seafood pasta. And bingo! They have Linguini Seafood on their list. The pasta’s al dente; the dish was perfectly tossed with non-greasy oil and my favorites from the sea. The entire plate was wonderfully seasoned. I was a happy diner! :)

With nothing in mind to wash everything down but cold water,  I also ordered a dessert. And I thought Lady Luck was really on my side because I spotted another personal favorite from the list of sweets.

Linguini Seafood + Mango Sticky Rice
Who says Italian and Asian favorites make a bad combo? Hell, no! :)

Mango Sticky Rice. RM19++ (USD 6.21 ). Steamed glutinous rice, served with mango & Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream.

One word : HEAVENLY!
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Don’t let my photo deceive you; it’s a generous serving! I disregarded the petty fact that the mint leaves used as garnishing on top that irresistible vanilla-flavored Häagen-Dazs scoop had insect-bite-holes; it was never an issue since I removed it and didn’t munch it anyway. What mattered to me was my love for that tug-of-war between the cold ice cream, the piping hot glutinous rice cake soaked in coconut milk and the pleasant taste of mango slices (but not as great-tasting as Philippine mangoes!). For a while, I forgot all stress and hassles accompanied by living away from the comforts of your own country and simply I felt I was in cloud 9!
The service’s quick and attentive. The ambiance and overall appeal are laid back and almost impeccable! Thumbs up for 7atenine! :D
7atenine | The Ascott, 9 Jalan Pinang 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | www.soulsociety.com.my/7atenine
*This is NOT a sponsored post.

*This Luxurious Kuala Lumpur Blog Series includes :

23
Nov
12

DINING CHINESE

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Greetings from Shanghai, China!

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Did those Chinese silk lanterns,  crimson red velvet lounge seats and chairs and gorgeous porcelain fool you? The greetings’ too ambitious, I know. But who knows? Day will come that I’ll get to bring my feet and my family to China too. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’m sharing here my honest review of my Chinese lunch at Chynna restaurant in Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur. I hope they won’t ban me from dining there again after this post! *cue prayers here*  This post isn’t a rant but a constructive criticism and a challenge to improve.

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How to get there? I took a cab from Bukit Bintang to KL Sentral where Hilton Hotel is located. When I was already inside the taxi driven by a friendly Malaysian-lady-driver who thankfully, used her taxi meter on our route (fyi, it’s unspoken rule in Kuala Lumpur that taking taxi cabs isn’t always metered by those opportunitistic divers), it popped in my mind that I could have taken the monorail from Bukit Bintang directly to KL Sentral which costs much cheaper of course (around 2 ringgit only instead of the metered taxi ride of RM15). It was useless to entertain regret so I took the monorail for my return to Bukit Bintang after my lunch; however it’s a-15-minute-walk from KL Sentral to the monorail station, nonetheless worth it.

What did I sample? I’m a dim sum monster so it got to be dim sum of course!!!

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Because I was attending an exclusive food tasting tour at Feast Village, Starhill Gallery at 3PM that day, I chose to eat light. And that’s how I defined a light meal *snickers*  ~Four Season Platter, Siew Mai (or for us Filipinos, siomai!) and the biggest Chicken pao I’ve eaten! I could have ordered hot tea but I was disappointed after I learned that Chynna’s Tea Master was on his day off. If you’ve noticed my photo of their dim sum open kitchen above, the tea pot with a long nose is eye-catching, isn’t it? Since their Tea Master’s out that day, I missed out his Kung Fu moves when serving hot Chinese tea.  Thus, I washed everything down with chilled fresh Orange juice (not in photo).

AMBIANCE vs SUBSTANCE

Did Chynna impress me? As I wanted to indulge something extraordinary other than the usual fastfood and hawker meals, I opted to try this Chinese restaurant initially to experience its beautiful ambiance. I was immediately drawn onto its interiors the very moment I saw it on Hilton’s website.  And true enough, it’s more pleasing to the eyes up close! The mood inside Chynna restaurant exudes extreme elegance. The cost of the food on the menu’s another affordable luxury; highly competitive with the common restaurants outside hotels. The staff’s friendly, quick and efficient.

Everything’s at its finest even the food presentation but not its taste.

Disappointed without witnessing the Kung Fu moves of their Tea Master, I felt the same too when Chynna’s dim sums tasted stuffed with extenders! I may be wrong and Chynna may deny it but what I ordered tasted all bland! Sure, they provided two sauces to go with them but a delicious dim sum is delicious sans anything.  I know my palate so well. I know how authentic dim sum tastes like. As mentioned in my previous posts, despite I’ve never been to China yet, I think eating dim sums from hawker food stalls and five-star-hotel restaurants in all our trips to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand (we even had dim sum buffet in Bangkok recently) and even in Manila Chinatown and in Penang and in Kuala Lumpur itself makes me no-authority but at least my gustatory sense has been familiar with quality dim sums. Admittedly, I only sampled a few dim sum from Chynna in Hilton-KL however, it really didn’t hit the mark! Perhaps, noodles, soups and fish, chicken and meat dishes from their menu are all wonderful but remain to be tasted. That’s a good reason to try Chynna again next time.

Although it means nothing to me because I’m a non-smoker, you might be interested that Chynna has private dining rooms where smoking is permitted.

CHYNNA | 5th Level Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur | www.hilton.com

*This is not a sponsored post.

*This Luxurious Kuala Lumpur Blog Series includes :

*GOOD NEWS : To those who read & follow my blog, I’ll appreciate if you could drop a line or two about my blogging via ths link :http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1157/beyond-toxicity; this is in line with the BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARDS run by ExpatsBlog.com. Maraming salamat po! :)

20
Nov
12

MY DELICIOUS AFTERNOON AT FEAST VILLAGE, STARHILL GALLERY

16 November 2012. Friday. I finished early at around 10AM at the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur after I applied for renewal of my passport so I hailed a taxi cab and went my way to Starhill Gallery in Bukit Bintang.

If California has Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills,

And Tokyo has Ginza

Singapore has Orchard Road,

Kuala Lumpur has Bukit Bintang

(and luckily, I’ve been to these places already!)

I was nearly tachycardic (increased heart rate) because of excitement as it’s my very first time to be in Starhill Gallery.  I wanted to check out the place way ahead of the scheduled 3PM-6PM exclusive food-tasting-tour in Feast Village that they generously arranged for me. How could you say no to the luxurious food & beverage outlet group whose restaurants were recently visited by Tiger Woods and Michael Bolton? The blogger in me was ultimately happy! :D

This is Pavilion Mall right across Starhill Gallery; it’s all dressed up for the Yuletide Season!

Pavilion Mall

This part of Kuala Lumpur is accessible by car, monorail, taxi cabs and via free rides on GO KL-shuttle buses that drop off passengers right in front of Starhill Gallery.

free shuttle bus in Kuala Lumpur

I have been to Pavilion Mall a few times over but never dared cross the street and set foot in Starhill Gallery. Why? Its uniquely beautiful crystal and star-like structure is quite intimidating! Wrong notion, I know. Obviously, Starhill Gallery houses the most luxurious and expensive brands of fashionable clothes, watch & jewerly shops, furnitures and sublime dining.

Starhill Gallery Kuala Lumpur

Detail shot of that intimidating impressive exteriors…

Starhill Gallery Kuala Lumpur

So it’s true that there’s more than meets the eye! I’ve proven that the Feast Village in Starhill Gallery offers some sophisticated dishes that even the most budget-conscious-foodies would not pass up. As I’ve tried some of them, I found that prices are reasonable and competitive; even a little cheaper than the others. At one point during my conversation with the staff of Starhill Gallery that weekend, I descibed some of the meals on the menus as an affordable luxury! Savory dishes enjoyed amidst priceless ambiance -it’s a pure bliss! :)

There’s no argument that Starhill Gallery defines opulence and indulgence…

starhill gallery, kuala lumpur
starhill gallery, kuala lumpur
starhill tea salon
feast village, starhill gallery, kuala lumpur

As I strolled and absorbed the pleasant ambiance, I took some initial captures.

feast village, starhill gallery, kuala lumpur

Then I left and came back few minutes before 3PM. The casual but exclusive food-tasting-tour in 3 of Feast Village signature restaruants was scheduled to begin at LuK Yu Tea House.

luk yu tea house
luk yu tea house, feast village, starhill gallery
luk yu tea house
luk yu tea house

Luk Yu Tea House in Feast Village, Starhill Gallery has the must-try-Chinese teas and authentic Hong Kong dim sums and other Chinese favorites on their menu.

My chopstick skills were so ready!

luk yu tea

Ms. Rachel who invited me to this digestive-feast-sampling at Feast Village informed me beforehand that she won’t be able to join me due to some important office matters however, she asked their beautiful and uber charming intern from England to accompany me that afternoon.

*Cue drum roll* Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, meet my host that weekend afternoon,  the 20-year-old Georgia who’s having the time of her life in Malaysia…

at feast village, starhill gallery, kuala lumpur

Lovely is an understatement to describe this young lady. She’s so spontaneous; our conversation went beyond the food we sampled together at Feast Village. I was so fascinated how she shared a bit of her personal side and was grateful that she made my afternoon in Starhill Gallery more engaging and fun! She’s lucky to have me as their only guest that Friday, oops, actually it’s the other way around -I am fortunate to experience the food sampling with her! :)

Still at Luk Yu Tea House…

dim sums at luk yu tea house

I’m no food connoisseur but I know my palate so well. I have tasted authentic dim sum in four trips to Hong Kong and have been acquainted with the most delicious ones in Chinatown in Manila, Penang and Singapore. And the affordable (repeat : affordable!) dim sums in Luk Yu Tea House doesn’t disappoint. They satisfied the dim sum monster in me. :)

dim sums at luk yu tea house

We savored Steam Crystal Prawn Dumpling (Har Kau / Hakao), Deep Fried Prawn & Mango Roll and Steamed Chicken & Prawn Dumpling (Siew Mai) plus even the thinly sliced pickled & sweet papaya as appetizer (not in photo) tasted so well too! Every bite was deliciously paired with mildly aromatic Lily and Jasmine Tea, Luk Yu Tea House’s signature tea! It’s heavenly!

lily and jasmine tea
tea
lily and jasmine tea

Then Georgia and I thanked the Luk Yu Tea House manager, Melinda and walked our way to the next restaurant, Shook!

shook!

“Shook! is an exciting restaurant concept and the first of its kind that opened in Malaysia right here at Starhill Gallery. The menu flirts with seasonal trends and boasts an adventurous fusion of east and west with Japanese, Chinese Wok, Italian and Western Grill show kitchens.

The restaurant is popular with the crowd and it boasts a fanciful ambience, good food and live jazz music. A magnificent walk-in cellar holds over 3,000 bottles of some of the world’s most outstanding wines, including the world’s largest vertical collection of Chateau Mouton Rothschild Artist Label series, featuring every vintage from 1945 to 1997 in both standard and magnum bottles. Also available are European wines from the signature Shook! label.” ~Sourced via www.starhillgallery.com

I regret the fact that I forgot to click my camera on that amazing and enviable cellar where a variety of the best wines from all over the globe are housed. My jaw almost dropped while Mr. Raj, the main man of Shook! was explaining to me this and that. From their excellent collection of wines, he briefly showed me some of the private function rooms that can be reserved by guest for a customized-dining.

Can you imagine yourself dining in those Giorgio Armani seats?

shook!

Here’s one of their function room, all set for a private dinner that weekend.

shook!

We took few steps back to our table at Shook! and what they’ve prepared for us were all ready. Et voila!

Wagyu Beef Cheek (Italian spread of Shook!). Enriched with Goose Liver Butter served with Gratin of Charlotte, Leek and Roblochon.

Wagyu Beef Cheek

It felt effortless when I dunk my fork and used my knife to cut a piece of that Wagyu dish after it was served on my plate because every piece of it was apparently cooked to perfection! It’s the most tender beef cuts I’ve ever tasted. I want to cry that very moment actually! It was that delicious!!! I promised myself to bring Tina and Gabby to Shook! soon!!!

side dishes

Georgia was raving about Shook’s award-winning-Chinese-dish called, Snow White Dancing Prawn. Together, we asked Mr. Raj why it’s called as such and we got a somewhat logical answer-”the moment you put the prawn in your mouth, they’ll dance to your stomach” I cannot agree more! What makes it so wonderful is its thin and light batter. Most tempura-dishes are thickly drowned in flour mixture making the prawn almost tasteless but not this Dancing Prawn dish. Its overall taste would make you crave for more! Trust me, it tastes way better than it looks on my photo. My capture doesn’t do it justice.

dancing prawn

From the grill section of Shook!, behold the Roasted Barramundi…

roasted barramundi (grill)

I bet even the most discening palates would agree with this Roasted Barramundi. :)

shook!

And from their Japanese spread, we sampled Spider Maki made up of Soft Shell Crab Tempura. The name of the maki needs no explanation. Hands down to this! Hallelujah!

spider maki

At around half hour past 4PM, Georgia escorted me to the 3rd and last restaurant that I got to try from Starhill Gallery - the Starhill Tea Salon.

starhill tea salon
starhill tea salon
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As Malaysians like all English men love tea and scones and some other pastries, it’s not surprising that Starhill Gallery puts up its own Starhill Tea Salon where the very best collection of teas from most parts of the world are available. Almost stuffed, I was still prepared for some tea time! Bring it on! ;)

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tea cups starhill gallery
starhill jewel tea

We had two tea variants. First was STS’ signature tea called Starhill Jewel and the second one’s called, Grand Wedding. While the latter has a stronger flavor, I highly recommend the Starhill Jewel Tea! Its subtle floral aroma makes it a perfect pair with any slice of cake or pastry. Talking about sweets, a delightful feast must end with tempting desserts. The staff of Starhill Tea Salon walked us toward their cake counter. Everything’s mouthwatering and the difficult part was choosing. She had Chocolate Mousse …

chocolate mousse

while I tried a Fruity Cheesecake.

fruity cheesecake

Just before we ended our tea time, I’ve finally met the one responsible for my invite to Starhill Gallery Feast Village; I was grateful Ms. Rachel took a few minutes out of her busy schedule at work to see and meet me. I was glad to personally thanked her and Georgia of course, for everything. The afternoon was so surreal! They even gave me some special takeaway -a couple of exclusive Starhill Gallery magazines, a 100-ringgit voucher and a box of macarons that I all brought home to Tina and Gabby! Thank you so much, Starhill Gallery! I shall bring my family there soon!

macarons
macarons

Have I told you that Starhill Gallery consists of not only 3 but 16 food places –There’s the most beautiful bar that I’ve laid my eyes on -Village Bar (blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2012/11/17/village-bar-an-underground-fantasy/), Luk Yu Tea House, Shook!, Starhill Tea Salon, Gonbei San, Spice of India, Tarbush, Pak Loh Chiu Chow, Sentidos, Enak, Angus House, Ah Yip Herbal Soup, Kor Yo Won, Jogoya, Jake’s Charbroil Steaks and Fisherman’s Cove. Some of these restaurants I photographed…

Village Bar

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The Vietnamese restaurant I failed to get the name.

vietnamese restaurant

Then there’s that restaurant made of bamboos shaped like a gorgoues boat…

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fisherman's cove

It’s called Fisherman’s Cove where the famous Malaysian Chef Wan cooks his specialties. Most of them are freshest live fish from their aquarium.

fisherman cove feast village

Even the tandas or toilets in Feast Village is a must-see! :)

toilet

It was truly an unforgettable experience for me; certainly an extraordinary gastronomic and visual feasts! For the nth time that I’m mentioning in this blog post, I shall bring Tina and Gabby here soon! It’s all worth it!

feast village, starhill gallery, kuala lumpur

*This is a sponsored post. Special thanks goes to Ms. Rachel, Ms. Georgia and all the amazing staff of Feast Village in Starhill Gallery. Thank you so much! Terima Kasih! And as we say in Tagalog, MARAMING SALAMAT po! :)

STARHILL GALLERY |  181 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | www.starhillgallery.com

*This Luxurious Kuala Lumpur Blog Series includes :

*GOOD NEWS : To those who read & follow my blog, I’ll appreciate if you could drop a line or two about my blogging via ths link :http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1157/beyond-toxicity; this is in line with the BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARDS run by ExpatsBlog.com. Maraming salamat po! :)

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17
Nov
12

VILLAGE BAR : AN UNDERGROUND FANTASY

After I thanked Rachel who generously invited me and bid goodbye to Georgia, the fascinating and accomodating host who dined with me in more-than-two-hour-exclusive-food-tasting-tour that they arranged, I found my way down the basement of Starhill Gallery and set foot again in Feast Village. I laid my eyes once more on the impressive interiors of Village Bar.

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Who knew that while Petronas Twin Towers majestically lords the Kuala Lumpur skyline, a wonderful bar lies underneath the road of Bukit Bintang?

I was supposed to have a drink, sample their Mojito or one of their signatures and use the 100 ringgit-voucher that they gave me along with a box of delightful macarons but I thought of reserving everything to Tina and Gabby. After all, I’ll bring my family back to Kuala Lumpur in a month’s time so we’ll get to enjoy Starhill Gallery again. As I was still satiated with all the sampling of dishes from the most subtle to the most flavorful and rich plates, I became content with capturing the beauty of Village Bar with my lens.

An old woman whose wheelchair was being pushed slowly by a younger man suddenly told me,

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” 

Surprised, I looked at her and understood that she was describing Village Bar before us so I stopped clicking my cam for a while and replied to her,

“It’s lovely! I haven’t seen anything like it before.”

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A myriad of colorful Oriental and Mediterranean lamps adorn the ceiling of Village Bar (read : I’m a sucker for these lamps!). Fantastic pillars that are made of stacked empty bottles. A striking variety of seats and stools around the five-bars was so remarkable; one of the them was a set of ghost chairs from Philippe Starck. It’s a gorgeous hodgepodge of everything that seems dreamy; cleverly put together to create a sophisticated look of a place so perfect to unwind and have a drink or two.

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I noticed Village Bar was designed in such a way that guests would see each other’s faces to easily interact while chilling out.

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I could spend an entire evening in this place! And you?

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Amazing, isn’t it? I was in awe, I ran out of superlatives again!

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I’ll bring Tina and Gabby here next month and enjoy their menu. Kids would also appreciate Village Bar for they offer fruit juices and sodas too.

“Right in the heart of Feast Village is the meeting point for a business or leisure outing at Starhill Gallery. The Village Bar, with its iconic pillars of stacked bottles and colourful pendant lights hanging overhead, makes a welcoming spot to enjoy a drink.
A perfect place for winding down, five counters serve different drinks at the Village Bar. The beer bar stocks up on bottles of famous international beers while the hard liquor bar serves liquor, cocktails and mocktails.

The wine bar offers exclusive wines from a collection of 400 different labels whereas the rice wine bar serves premium Chinese and Japanese rice wines, including vintage rice wines from as long as 30 years ago. Teetotalers would not feel out of place at the Village Bar as juices and soft drinks are also available from the soft drinks bar. For a place to meet up with friends, to make new friends, or simply to unwind, head over to the Village Bar.”   -Sourced via www.starhillgallery.com

Village Bar at Feast Village in Starhill Gallery is one of the reasons why Kuala Lumpur is always a must-visit!

*This is a sponsored post. Special thanks goes to Ms. Rachel of Starhill Gallery and Ms. Georgia (I’ll post her photos on this blog soon!).

STARHILL GALLERY |  181 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | www.starhillgallery.com

*This Luxurious Kuala Lumpur Blog Series includes :

*GOOD NEWS : To those who read & follow my blog, I’ll appreciate if you could drop a line or two about my blogging via ths link :http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1157/beyond-toxicity; this is in line with the BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARDS run by ExpatsBlog.com. Maraming salamat po! :)

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11
Nov
12

WE GOT FREE BRUNCH @ CHINAHOUSE

10 November 2012. Saturday. Between Victoria and Beach Streets, George Town, Penang.

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Hats off and thank you very much to the 567 facebook buddies who voted for my photo entry at ChinaHouse Shoot and Win contest. Whether you clicked ‘like’ voluntarily or voted with force and coercion, hahaha!  it became one of the 8 finalists! Maraming Salamat po! :D Congratulations too to the 2 Chinese-Malaysian winners!

finalist, photo contest penang

Despite I didn’t win that Langkawi getaway, we devoured a FREE brunch at ChinaHouse and for that, I am so grateful!!!

chinahouse george town penang

It’s nice to indulge once in a while with your love ones and even nicer if it’s FREE!
Now, try to spot Gabby amidst that heavenly table…

chinahouse george town penang

Bingo! I felt I won the jackpot when I saw that spread again! Salivary glands and gastric acid secreting cells were all stimulated. Judgment on what to order was the biggest problem. It took us a while to decide from the menu.  So while waiting for our food and having difficulty of choosing desserts, I cannot get enough of it and snapped my camera a countless times on that table filled with cakes and pastries! Here’s a few of my captures of that mouthwatering ChinaHouse spread…

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chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang
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chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang

Is it not happiness? ;)

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We texted and called Tina who opted to stay in our apartment to get some extra hours of rest and do motherly and wifely duties at home (read : household chores).

I noticed it didn’t take a while for our choices to land on our table. Let the pig-out begin! :P

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Gabby ordered two plates. First was Toasted Banana Bread With Fresh Banana and Cream.

chinahouse george town penang

While I enjoyed the tasteful Homemade Beef Sausage & Scrambled Egg Muffin with Tomato Relish.

chinahouse george town penang

That tomato relish was the bomb! It complemented my breakfast plate so well that it made me forget about the importance of calorie counter. Got yah! I’m not on a dietary regimen (yet). In as much as I want to give importance to health as my license and profession dictate me to do so, indulgence ruled over those moments! I was too weak (again) to resist! Resistance is futile once more! LOL! :)

Gabby’s second plate was Yoghurt, Fresh Fruit Salad with Granola & Honey. Sugar and sweetness overload!

chinahouse george town penang

Our wonder boy didn’t finish everything he ordered; I guess like me, he was overwhelmed! No problem as it’s a part of my Daddy duties to finish the plate whenever needed *insert evil grin here*.

Before ordering desserts (yes, we still had room for sweet endings!), Gabby walked to the shelves and got some kiddie books. He initially browsed the very educational (kidding!) Pokemon!

chinahouse george town penang

then he shifted his pure and young attention to a more serious, morally uplifting hardbound, “Walter the Farting Dog”, LOL!

chinahouse george town penang

Not long after, our appetites were ready again! Gabby had few fork-dunks on Chocoholics’ Chocolate Cake; the rest of its slice was our takeaway for Tina.

chinahouse george town penang

Over and beyond those multiple cakes and pastries, I succumbed to the decision of having Tiramisu again. It’s really unforgettable the first time I had it, thus a repeat was a must!

chinahouse george town penang

ChinaHouse’s Tiramisu, now officially known as one of my kryptonites! ;)

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To wash everything down, I had Fresh Orange Juice while Gabby didn’t finish his glass of Strawberry Smoothies. Water in a cute capped tall bottle was provided free (FYI, other restaurants in Penang charge a few cents for iced water).
chinahouse george town penang

After our 112-ringgit-hearty-brunch, Gabby and I went to the first floor (yes, it’s ground floor first here in Malaysia) to see the art gallery of ChinaHouse.

chinahouse george town penang

Luckily, it’s opened as it was otherwise during my first visit. There’s an on-going-art-exhibits of various local artists of which one’s entitled, Circus, I think. Pardon me as I didn’t get the other titles of the show.

chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang

It’s almost past noon when we left ChinaHouse.

chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang

Gabby and I agreed that Tina will like ChinaHouse too. And with that, it’s a conclusion that it won’t be our last to dine-in at ChinaHouse; we shall be back one day with my loving wife.

chinahouse george town penang

Thank you so much, ChinaHouse! You’re one of our family’s best food finds in George Town, Penang! :)

*For my first blog post about ChinaHouse, click  THIS!!!

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CHINAHOUSE | 153 & 155 Beach Street & 183B Victoria Street, George Town, Penang.  http://chinahouse.com.my/

04
Nov
12

MY WIFE’S CULINARY PROWESS PART 2

For five years of this blog’s existence, few loyal readers have witnessed how the love for food binds my family and I together. Tina, Gabby and I certainly love to eat! And our tastebuds have the same preferences either dining out or just eating within the comforts of our home.  Although I know how to perk up some tasteful dishes too, the credit goes to my loving wife who devotes so much of her TIME and EFFORTS not only at work but at the kitchen department to fill up our tummies with not just mediocre cooking but feasts that we usually crave for!

Here are some of her masterpieces, at least for Gabby and me!

This dish has shrimps, green bell pepper in light and sweet soy sauce, if not oyster sauce. It’s too delicious, I forgot to ask her what it’s called! :D

shrimps in oyster sauce

Vanhouten, sometimes Cadbury Chocolate Chamorado at Tuyo is one of our comfort foods! Even Gabby became biased with Champorado at Tuyo!  Yes, our 8-year-old kiddo loves tuyo, he eats it also sans champorado but with rice and dips its shredded bits on vinegar!  Regardless of the weather -rainy days or even when the sun is out; for breakfast or as late afternoon snack, this combo remains a personal favorite!

champorado at tuyo

Ebi Tempura and Chicken Cordon Bleu. All.From.Scratch!

prawn tempura and chicken cordon bleu
ebi tempura
prawn tempura

This one needs no introduction. Pass the vinegar, please! And let’s eat with bare hands, c’mmon! ;)

crabs

Bistek Tagalog with Blanched Veggies. I’m salivating now.

beef steak and blanched veggies

Some photographed pasta dishes the past months include this Crispy Noodle…

crispy noodles

and the classic Creamy Carbonara with homemade Garlic Bread that she made for our birthdays (Gabby’s last October, and mine’s September). While Gabby dislikes bacon and only wants the pasta and the creamy cheesy buttery sauce, I love it up to its last bacon bits. LOL! :P

creamy carbonara with home made garlic bread

For dessert, Maja Blanca con Maiz

maja blanca maiz

For someone like Tina who doesn’t have formal background in culinary arts, and for Gabby and me, those dishes are already superb despite its few imperfections. As mentioned, hours are usually spent in preparing them. Time and efforts for the family are always priceless!

With those few compiled food photos, one of my suntok-sa-buwan-wishes of putting up our very own food place someday lives on. Let’s see if it will materialize someday. Who knows what destiny brings? I am only sure of the fact that we love food and we like to eat – a lot!!!

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Part 1 of this blog’s series here : My Wife’s Culinary Prowess

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09
Oct
12

CELEBRATORY FEAST : GABBY’S EIGHTH BIRTHDAY

It was already late evening of Friday, October 5th, 2012 when I got a chance to view the attached photos on my Inbox sent by Gabby’s teacher & school owner taken using her iphone. I smiled and I appreciated the concern, love and care expressed to our son by his generous and thoughtful Malaysian-Chinese teacher. Thank you so much, Ms. Jasmine! The photos showed Gabby and his teacher’s son eating burgers and fries in McDonald’s after school; a simple birthday treat yet so special to Gabby and to us!  Tina and I really found it so heartwarming!

OUR SON IS LOVED; WE’RE GRATEFUL! :)

gabby and ethan

Because his birthday falls on a weekday this year, Friday to be exact, we chose not to absent ourselves from work and school thus, another extraordinary weekend was brewed.

Little did we know that Gabby told his teacher the reason why he’s not having  that ceremonial birthday cake candle blowing over the usual birthday song singing with party hats, some pasta and loot bags in school like what he used to have back home (If you’ve been following this blog, you’re familiar with Gabby’s SPONGEBOB THEMED 5TH BIRTHDAY PARTY ) it’s because we planned to celebrate his 8th birthday the way we know how : BUFFET!!! :)

Long before his big day, we already talked and decided where to spend it; and among the hotels and restaurants we’ve tried, a unanimous decision was made : G Hotel at Gurney Drive, Penang!

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UNBIASED OPINION OF A NON-SPONSORED DINING

Among the few premier hotels and restaurants in Penang that my family and I have sampled, G Cafe in G Hotel has always been remarkably pleasant. We like its polite and quick service, great tasting dishes with a wide variety but not overwhelming, and its contemporary and edgy, elegant and sophisticated but non-intimidating ambiance. Not to forget its reasonable and affordable cost for an eat-all-you-want dining on lunch, high tea or dinner. They even made it more budget-friendly as we availed of the 15% discount offer that we got for being Rapid Penang Bus commuters. :) Best of all, G Cafe staff granted my request for a FREE birthday cake with a candle to blow for Gabby! They gave an instant nod without hesitation; many thanks to that! :D

There are other restaurants inside G Hotel and at G Cafe, there are two dining spots. It’s our third time to eat inside G Cafe’s airconditioned dining area and have not favored yet their open-air eating space.

So here’s where we sat and dined…
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And here’s a portion of their eat-all-you-want-spread that evening…
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I like their simple and minimalist display and fixtures that perfectly complemented the modern and somewhat masculine appeal of the entire all-day-dining-restaurant. I also think the use of BLUE tones in lighting and glasses excellent! It’s quite uncommon choice for restaurants yet so regal.

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G Cafe offers different themed dining every night and it was our second time to try their International Cuisine-BARBECUE NIGHT!
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There were grilled prawns, grilled lamb, grilled fish, and grilled squid…
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Roasted lamb, anyone?
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Tina and I tried a few slices from the carving station but honestly, we’re not fanatics of lamb unlike the others despite G Cafe’s version was tender.

Usually, it’s a toss between salad and soup for me, I went for the latter first and enjoyed every spoonful of sweet corn and chicken soup! It was thick and superb! Really tasteful!

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But then again, I thought I am just a mere mortal and very weak to pass up on these yummies! Tee hee!
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I did not! We did not pass up on the salads. We had a little bit of everything!
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We liked the Smoked Duck Salad even though I was telling Tina how I missed G Cafe’s Prawn Salad (told you, they’ve variety every night!), the fusion of the smoked duck meat cut into strips and those mango and veggies in julienne cuts were an absolute match made in Penang! ;)

How about Smoked Salmon Salad that beautifully blended with those avocado cubes?
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Irresistible! Then you see more Hors d’oeuvre like different chunks and slices of cheese and biscuits…
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And then there’s this crunchy and sweet and a bit spicy dried fish called IKAN BILIS ISTIMEWA which to me was one of the most appetizing appetizers I’ve ever tasted! Or is it an entree? Hahaha!  FYI, istimewa means special!  It reminded me of  a locally dried fish back home called, Danggit, although it’s all salty and crunchy when fried, this Ikan Bilis Istimewa came with flavors and texture that burst every bite! Sarap! Sedap! It’s really something you’ll crave for! Delicious sans vinegar! I wish I had more servings!
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Meanwhile, here’s my salad plate…
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Tina’s seafood plate…
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Everything was fine particularly the salmon sashimi except for the scallops; they were flat and disappointing!
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While the birthday boy was certain of his choices…
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Our palates savored the sushi rolls too! I always profess my fascination to Japanese dishes. It’s amazing that they’re both art and nourishment at the same time! My love affair with sushi and sashimi makes me wonder if I’m half blood Japanese, hahaha!
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Tina tried the Chicken Shawarma and Roasted Lamb. I tasted their version of Shawarma before and it didn’t impress my tastebuds. I’m still partial with similar Mediterranean favorite back home.
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Tina’s plate filled with grilled stuffs…
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And here are my plates…
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There were a lot more dishes on the spread and a noodle station that we failed to sample. Nonetheless, we made sure we reserved gastric space for desserts.

HYPERGLYCEMIA  : REDEFINED

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In our third time to dine at G Cafe in G Hotel in our more than two years of being expatriates in Penang, we’re loving the fact that we have experienced the evolution of dessert offerings. Let the photos do the talking. Sweet, sweeter, sweetest! :D

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Who knew my family and I could enjoy an eat-all-you-want Baskin Robbins ice cream? I don’t know about you, but for jologs like me, it’s a big deal already! A BIG PLUS for this buffet actually! ;)
So my sweet tooth became happier again with every scoop of Baskin Robbins included in the buffet spread. I had Mint Chocolate Chip and Vanilla which are two of my favorite flavors, I also had Strawberry Sherbet and Green Tea. I was content with just the scoops sans toppings and syrups. I’m a purist when it comes to ice cream or at least in this occasion.
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While Tina was in bliss with her gummies toppings over her Baskin Robbins…
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I wish all the sweets in the dessert spread had labels. Because there were none, I relied on my gustatory skills. These bite-sized cakes that tasted peanut butter at its creamiest earned my thumbs up!
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Another must-try at G Cafe’s dessert spread is this beautiful pastry. Believe it or not, the filling inside those dark chocolate cream icings is a tiny strawberry –just imagine the tug-o-war of bitter-sweet taste of the dark chocolate against the sour-sweet taste of strawberry. The combination’s brilliant! Then each was sandwiched by a light chocolate meringue. Wonderful! The toothsome flavors and luxurious textures were so amazing! I’ll bring back my family there for these!
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How about a munch-all-you-want macarons? Heavenly. Just heavenly.
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The birthday boy loves cheesecake…We all do!
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Mini Cupcakes, FTW!
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I’m now lost for superlatives to describe these…*drooling*
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One of Tina’s dessert plates… yes, one of them! :)
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While here’s a shameless display of mine…
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After a great and hearty meal, must have coffee.
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And before you forget it’s Gabby’s 8th birthday celebration, here’s the documentation of that special moment…
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G Cafe at G Hotel became uberly generous again in granting my request to provide a FREE birthday cake with a candle for Gabby to blow. Thank you so much, G Cafe! …And just so you know, Gabby held the bread knife to slice his birthday cake just like a CIRUJANO would do an incision; we didn’t coach him to do so. :)
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The necessary family portrait…
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Happy 8th Birthday, son! WE LOVE YOU VERY MUCH!

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*This is NOT a sponsored post for G Cafe at G Hotel, Penang. We wish! :D

 

22
Sep
12

OUR LEGOLAND MALAYSIA EXPERIENCE 2012

*This is another Beyond Toxicity’s long and photo-heavy blog post. Tips to visitors and tourists as well as suggestions to Legoland Malaysia’s officials are included in this entry. Enjoy! :)

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Of all the amusement and theme parks I’ve been to, Legoland Malaysia is the most colorful! Nothing compares to its vibrant bricks that directly inspire everyone’s imagination and creativity to build, build and build. I’ve been to some remarkable theme parks around the globe like Sea World in San Diego, Disneyland in Anaheim, Universal Studios in Los Angeles, California, Universal Studios SingaporeTokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySeaTokyo Sea Life ParkHong Kong Disneyland, Ocean Park in Hong Kong, Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter Underwater World  in Auckland, New Zealand, Genting Highlands  and Aquaria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, even our very own Enchanted Kingdom, Manila Ocean Park, Star City and Nayong Pilipino back home, thus, I have grown a personal appreciation and somehow I have defined my own standard. In so many ways, going to these kiddie places has been incredibly memorable when I became a family man and started sharing the wonderful experiences with my wife, Tina and our son, Gabby.

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Like most kids, I grew up playing Lego. And now that our son’s into Lego too, experiencing the theme park made entirely of these timeless bricks was beyond fantastic! I remember, Tina and I first saw Legoland Denmark on TV via The Amazing Race. Never did we imagine that we would enjoy the same Legoland here in Malaysia so soon! It was surreal actually!

THE INSIDE STORY

I am grateful to Legoland Malaysia for inviting me twice to their media events that I failed to attend to due to some reasons. If you must know, my name was included in the list of bloggers and media who were exclusively invited to Legoland Malaysia’s Media and Family event last September 1st; that’s 2 weeks before the park opened to the public officially. Then recently, they threw another event last September 14, 2012 and during its opening last September 15, 2012, but I was only able to bring my feet and my family to Nusajaya, Johor Bahru where the very first Legoland in Asia and the 6th in the world is raised, last Sunday, September 16, 2012.

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The Public Relations people who invited me on Legoland Malaysia’s behalf were gracious enough to still offer me via email a complimentary pass to the theme park for my personal review and blog feature. We only had to pay for Tina’s admission fee of RM140 (US$ 45+) and Gabby’s was waived because he was so fortunate and clever to spot a promosi on Munchy’s Captain Munch chocolate cookies at a popular grocery in Penang a few weeks back.

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DIRECTIONS WHERE TO GO ARE ALWAYS ESSENTIAL

I tried to reserve a Deluxe Room via email recommended by the PR people of Legoland Malaysia however, it was too late because most hotels were full due to the anticipated opening of this theme park. I ended up booking a budget hotel that wasn’t bad at all; I did it few minutes before we left our apartment in Penang to head to Johor Bahru.

From our budget hotel in Johor Bahru, we were brought to Legoland Malaysia by a blue taxi cab that we hired for the day for RM 100 (US$ 32+). Good thing that the local driver’s already familiar with the roads because we noticed flags of Legoland Malaysia were only visible a few kilometers from the park itself. I highly suggest for Legoland Malaysia’s officials to put more directional signs like flags long before the Coastal Highway; better put signages at Larkin and Kota Raya bus stations, Singapore-Malaysia exit and entry points and install brochures with map in hotels because not all drivers, visitors and tourists have GPS. We’re just so fortunate to meet the taxi driver who picked us up from the hotel before 8AM and after 20 minutes or so, my family and I arrived at the ticket counters of Legoland Malaysia. We’re too punctual for the park’s opening at 10AM.

Another thing that could guide patrons of Legoland Malaysia is installation of signages of where to queue to buy and/or collect tickets at the gate. Expectedly, signs should be put at the vast parking lot, drop off points and the main entrance to the park. It’s always comforting to see signages that say, “This way, please!” My family and I were second in line but to our disappointment there was no sign that could have directed us to go to the 2 counters after Counter 14; those were the only 2 ticket counters assigned to issue Day Passes/Tickets as Counter 1 to 14 served only those who availed of Annual Passes. There’s a single flat screen TV monitor that showed what counter to go to but it was only turned on few minutes before 10AM where people were already on the wrong queue.  Also, there were no labels of queues, just digital ticket counter numbers.

Toilet signs are in Malay, with no English or Mandarin translations.

Signs, signs and more signages please! We, the guests and visitors of Legoland Malaysia deserve to be informed. :)

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What nearly spoiled my day was when I learned that my complimentary pass wasn’t endorsed properly by the PR people to the ticketing office. I could have easily paid for my admission fee but I was promised via email of a free entrance. There was neither media ID nor media pass/ticket provided. I believe it was a non-communication on the part of the PR and the ticketing office of Legoland Malaysia. Some important things have to be organized here. Nonetheless, I have to admit that a certain Legoland Malaysia staff named Fara was so caring, generous and apologetic enough to attend to my concern and escorted us to the gates of the park sans waiting on queue. THANK YOU!

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Soon after we entered the park, we felt we stepped into one of a childhood’s dreams! The moment was euphoric! :D

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GASTRONOMIC TREATS IN LEGOLAND MALAYSIA

I know. One doesn’t go to a theme park to engage in a digestive feast or simply to sample their culinary offerings but then again, no one can deny the fact that enjoyment is incomplete when the stomach is half-content, worse, empty. Fret not for my family and I proved that Legoland Malaysia is more than meets the eye! This newest theme park in Asia can also satisfy the appetite and the usual cravings with the variety of food and beverage choices they have.

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Before you further escalate your excitement to know how Legoland Malaysia looks like, allow this blog to be different from the others that already featured Legoland Malaysia. I’m highlighting one of human necessities first prior visual pleasure. After all, this blog is all about giving reverence to my family, FOOD & fun! Behold, a shameless rundown of what filled our tummies the entire Sunday when we were there…

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We had brunch at Market Restaurant. The space was noteworthy, just like the wide array of delicious dishes available. Combo meals of a Half Roasted Chicken with either Barbecue or Black Pepper Sauce come with soda and mushroom soup cost around RM 23 (US$ 7.50+). The servings were huge to meet my big appetite, tasteful too! :)

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Tina had that British classic, Fish and Chips…

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While Gabby enjoyed the pasta that I topped with parmesan cheese generously and a large cup of Strawberry Smoothies (RM 10 or US$ 3.27). He doesn’t like beef balls that much, so his parents came in to the rescue ;)

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There were a lot more choices plus desserts like cakes available in slices too, however we can only consume as much.

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The not-so-light-afternoon snacks that we savored for hours inside that thank-goodness-airconditioned-restaurant consisted of Beef Lasagna, cups of Cappuccino, Oreo cupcake that’s to die for! Chocolate cupcake, Apple and Cinnamon pie and Turkey Sandwich in Focaccia bread and Hot Chocolate. Can you guess who-had-what? Anyway, it was all glorious!

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We only ate at The Market Restaurant and The Cafe; these are two of Legoland Malaysia’s restaurants  inside the park; there are others like Pizza Mania where pizza, pasta, soups and desserts are on the menu and the ones outside the gates like KFC and others.  We’re happy to know that Legoland Malaysia offers international cuisine! People who aspire to be global should take note. ;)

HYGIENE AND SANITATION : DEFINITELY A PRIORITY

Apparently, it’s not enough that food looks enticing and tasteful. Legoland Malaysia, like other theme parks around should also maintain hygiene and sanitation particularly in food handling. Flies and other insects should be kept away and controlled at all times.  We appreciate that the plates we had in Legoland Malaysia were prepared and served satisfactorily.

SOUVENIRS, SOUVENIRS, SOUVENIRS!!!

After we gained entrance to Legoland Malaysia, Gabby got hold of the map from the gate and we wasted no time; we all trooped to the very first gift shop.

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Look what Gabby, Tina and I came up with mix-and-matching Lego parts…

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Our very first souvenirs were a Gentleman, an Indian and a Punk! Gabby, Tina and I were delighted!

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Legoland Malaysia’s 76 acre-park has 7 themed areas with more than 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions. The 7 themed areas are The Beginning, Lego City, MiniLand, Land of Adventure, Imagination, Lego Kingdom and Lego Technic.

THE BEGINNING

Next stop : another Legoland Malaysia gift shop, The Big Shop that houses the largest selection of LEGO products in Asia!

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Did I tell you already how Gabby’s so into Lego Ninjago? He watches the animated series and gradually collects Lego Ninjago items.