Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

Follow our 6 day, 6 night adventure in these lands of amazing food, awesome culture and astounding sights. See how we ate, shopped and laughed our way through Macau and Hong Kong! :)

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Plaster Fun House @ Empire Shopping Gallery

Warning:  There are a lot of pictures in this post, which is why we only show a preview first. To read the whole post, just click the "show/hide" button. Don't worry - it's not another link. It just expands the existing post in the same page =)

It's been a long time since our first "game" review (LeX Flight Simulator), and this time we have again headed to Empire Shopping Gallery for another non food review, this time at Plaster Fun House

We actually noticed this place the same day we went to LeX, but never had the chance to go back and try it till now. Wendy was always eager but I was less enthusiastic about it because, let's face it, painting and me aren't friends. In fact it doesn't even run in the family! I've always known that since I was in primary school, when I couldn't differentiate my primary colours from secondary. But finally I couldn't put it off any longer, and so I resigned myself to an afternoon of paintbrushes and watercolours.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Food: Ibunda Malay Fine Dining @ Jalan Bukit Bintang

A few months ago (see: last year) we bought a discount voucher for Ibunda, advertised as a Malay fine dining buffet. We sat on it for a few months thinking there was no rush to use it, and like typical Malaysians we ended up using it only on the last week of the deal. Thank goodness it didn't go to waste!

Ibunda is located along Jalan Bukit Bintang, just off Jalan Tun Razak and round the corner from Prince Court Medical Centre. It's one of the few remaining bungalow house-converted-to-restaurant with a huge front lawn, and that makes it very attractive from the outside while also distancing itself enough from the main road and all its noise.

The inside looks modern enough and not too traditional. Calling it "fine dining" might be stretching it a bit though; I'm sure the fine dining purists will thumb their noses at Ibunda. I thought the settings were nice and comfortable, but service was a bit slow at times even though business wasn't roaring. That might have been because of the food...

What follows is just going to be a series of pictures of the dishes available. There'll be some descriptions for those we thought worth mentioning.

A variety of starters save for the picture in the bottom right corner, which is some pumpkin dessert. Mainly cold dishes, so we didn't give all of them a try. Names are on the leaves =)

This was the Ikan Tenggiri Gulai Kampung. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The rarely replenished Betis Kambing Bakar - infused with a lovely citrusy undertone, but probably too overcooked.

One of the clear winners of the night, the Ayam Goreng Peha Kicap; fried with spices and very fragrant, evidently well marinated. These were definitely one of our favourites for the night - I think I ate 4 drumsticks alone! Was quite amazed at how many drumsticks they could bring out though. It felt like chickens were only wanted for their legs and I kept imagining leg-less chickens running around..=S

A slight fail here because we didn't get the name of this beef dish. Ironically this also happens to be our favourite dish of the night! We loved it because the beef was surprisingly extremely tender, and though it looks quite spicy, it was actually not hot at all. Presentation was an issue of course, because the whole bowl of meat looked like it had been out there since the morning. But after digging into it there was no going back!

Here we just had to show how tender the meat was! Perfectly pinky on the inside..what more could you ask for? =)

A snap of the remaining dishes. Top right is some mixed vegetables, or Sayur Campuran. That was really just bland in our opinion. Top left was Sotong Sambal Petai. Despite the name, there was no hint of petai taste. It was spicy though! I took a piece of squid to try and lit my mouth on fire, so that was the end of that. And in front are 2 pieces of stuffed tofu. Also quite bland.

Besides the food available inside, there were also a couple of things to pick from outside. 

There was Grilled Fish wrapped in pandan leaf. This was okay, but again, nothing special. Each piece was very small, like 2 mouthfuls, but even for a big eater like me one piece was enough just to taste it. Wasn't worth going back for any more. 

Laksa was also available, but we didn't give it a go. The bowls of ingredients were left sitting outside without any cover, so that put us off a bit.

One saving grace is there was Ice Kacang! There was icecream inside too with about 4 flavours to pick from (I remember durian and sweetcorn). The ice-cream on top is extra customization we did ourselves. Outside the waiter just shaves you the ice and makes you a typical bowl of ice kacang. Can't really go wrong with that to me. =)

There is a BIG bowl of Sirap Bandung! When we arrived at about 7pm the bowl was about full! I must have drank a quarter of it. Although it doesn't look very appealing, it was actually totally awesome! Ibunda gives quite big glasses for water and smaller ones for sirap, but I was innovative and used my to water glass to fill with bandung again and again. I definitely got my money's worth of bandung! I did think it was very unhygienic leaving it out in the open air like that though. But what the heck, it tasted great. One of the night's saving graces.

The only word I could use to describe the dessert? Disappointing. 

So although we wanted very much to like Ibunda, we just couldn't find enough reasons to justify another trip back, let alone at normal price. Perhaps during this month of Ramadan there will be special buka puasa food being served. I sure hope so, because it would be sad to see Ibunda having to carry on the way it is doing now! 

Ibunda Malay Fine Dining | Site
No. 251, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel : +603 2148 8488
Dining Reservation / Enquiry Email : [email protected]
Operating Hours: Mon-Sat; 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:30pm-10:30pm. Closed on Sun & PH (except Group Bookings)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Movie Review: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2

And so, the moment that everyone had been waiting for finally arrived. The final installment of Harry Potter opened in cinemas, and already at this time of writing it has broken box office records for the amount of money it has earned.

 When the first Potter movie came out 10 years ago, I was 14 years old in Form 2. The stars like Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe were something like 11 years old. Today I'm 24 and working, and they are about 21-22 and millionaires. Hands up if you think life isn't fair! *hands up*

Multimillionaires. Sigh.
But I digress. The point is the Potter franchise has finally come full circle after appearing in our lives nearly every year for the last 10 years. I have to admit though that I have never been a fan of the movies; I've always thought the script is too rushed, and the plot never picks up enough key points from the books. There are even some movies that I didn't bother watching! But this being the final, FINAL episode, no way we were going to miss it right? =P

Voldemort smirks.

For those who can remember, Part 1 of The Deathly Hallows follow Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they embark on their secret journey to find and destroy the Horcruxes of Lord Voldemort. This proves to be a difficult task, since not only do they have no idea what form the Horcrux might be in, but they also had no idea how to destroy it. Along the way they discover the existence of The Deathly Hallows, 3 extremely powerful magical items which consists of the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Invisibility Cloak (which Harry already had). Part 1 ends after Lord Voldemort finally finds the Elder Wand in Dumbledore's tomb, and so the stakes are raised in Part 2, to see if Harry can truly defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Does he succeed? Does he survive the ordeal? Does anyone else die in the process? All answers finally answered in the final installment of Harry Potter!

The final epic battle!


Of course, if you have read the book then you'll already know how everything ends lah. And so for the many legions of fans who have devoured the books years ago, watching the movies is more like an exercise of monitoring how closely the movie follows the book, as opposed to watching something new. In that sense, splitting the final movie was a very good move, since it allowed the director much more time to show more of subplots from the book.

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, the Boy Who Lived

The beautiful Emma Watson as Hermione

Rupert Grint as the ginger-haired Ron

The three work brilliantly together

From the acting point of view, there is really that sense of satisfaction to see Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) grow and mature into the actors they are today. I have to say that the 3 of them have come a long way since those first movies, and I can definitely see them all having a good career in the movie industry, if they choose to stay in it. Radcliffe said in an interview that he felt this episode showed some of his best acting, and I have to agree with that observation.

Harry going head to head with Voldemort

But good acting isn't just limited to the 3 main stars! Alan Rickman who plays Severus Snape, stands out as he plays the pretend-villain role so well. His timing in delivery is impeccable - the audience can nearly feel the loathe/fear/pity in his voice as he drawls through his lines. The most memorable scene for this was when Snape addressed the pupils as Hogwarts as their new headmaster (since that was also probably the most lines he's had to say at one go in the entire series -__-").

The seemingly bad Snape played by a solid Alan Rickman 

The other baddies in the movie once again deliver - Ralph Fiennes at his best once again, terrorizes on-screen as Lord Voldemort; the mightily quirky Helena Bonham Carter as the demented Bellatrix Lestrange (and in a scene where Hermione takes some polyjuice potion to morph into Bellatrix, Carter displayed some fine comedic timing) and Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy.

He Who Must Not Be Named, played wonderfully by Ralph Fiennes

Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix (well, as Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix :D)

Tom Felton (centre) as Draco, Harry's nemesis

Of course, the contributions of the other actors can't be discounted either, but the list is too long to mention them all here! It was wonderful to see as Maggie Smith as the tough Professor McGonagall again, and not forgetting Warwick Davis as Professor Flitwick (in a dual role as Griphook the greedy goblin from Gringotts too!) too.

One of the favourite characters throughout the movie installments - Prof. McGonagall!
Some of the best scenes of the movie takes place in the final half an hour at Hogwarts where most of the cast is reunited

I won't go into storyline details, since nearly everyone has read the book. One part that I want to highlight though is the final scene, 19 years later. It was one of the most anticipated scenes for me, and I wanted to see how close they would stick to the book. My verdict? It was good, but could have been better. The final dialogue was woefully lacking, and I found myself wishing for just another "Hey, Hermione" or "You okay, Ron?" to wrap up the whole experience. But no, the ending focused on the exchange between Harry and his son, which I guess must have been done that way to focus on some artistic interpretation.

Oh and I cannot leave out "The Kiss"! Legions of Ron/Hermione fans (Wendy included!) have waited literally years just to see that monumental moment in the series played out on the big screen! And how was it? Well, it was quick and simple, and they were both wet. Sadly, it all looked a bit too shy and awkward between them, like as if they knew millions of people would be watching them snog on screen. Reminded me a bit of William and Kate's kiss, minus the real affection.

So all in all, was Part 2 worth watching? For the simple fact that it IS part 2, then yes, there's no way around this movie - it has to be watched at least once. 

One of the memorable scenes of the movie

One of the movie's most compelling scenes - Hogwarts under siege

The train tracks into Hogwarts crumble under fire.

Voldemort keeping us on the edge of our seats.

Was it memorable? Aside from some fine cinematography and solid acting shown above, it strangely wasn't as memorable as we had expected. In fact 2 weeks since we did the marathon, both Wendy and I find ourselves remembering more of Part 1 than Part 2! But again, you can't watch a beginning without the end. So on that note, I'll end by saying this is the end that all Potter fans and movie-goers must watch to have some closure in their lives......



(Obviously, Lord Voldemort ain't too happy about the closure.)

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