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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Monday, December 31, 2012

Food: The Red Beanbag @ Solaris Dutamas, Mont Kiara

Indeed, stairs worth climbing.

For our final post in 2012, we thought it fitting that it should go to a place that has truly been one of the breakout locations this year. After much thought, The Red Beanbag won out. Because let's face it, who hasn't heard of The Red Beanbag in Solaris Dutamas sometime during this year of 2012 eh? :D

What makes it even more noteworthy is the fact that The Red Beanbag has been in operation for just a couple weeks over a year at this point of posting! If there was an award for the restaurant which has had the most stellar year in 2012, The Red Beanbag would definitely be in the nominee list. :)

If you haven't been here and don't know where it is, don't bother with addresses, since addresses don't help much in Publika / Solaris Dutamas. Directions are easier; get to Fat Boy's The Burger Bar or San Francisco Coffee at the Square then cross the road to the shops opposite and walk up the staircase. Yes, the staircase is the fastest way to The Red Beanbag. That's fine though; everyone should work up an appetite before visiting! There might be a lift for when it rains, but it's quite far away. 

Come on any weekend, especially a Sunday, and expect to find throngs of hungry stomachs crowding the place from the morning! The Red Beanbag specialises in breakfast / brunch / lunch menus (though they've also launched a dinner menu along the way), so expect lots of friends and families coming to hang out on weekends. 

Since they specialize in breakfast menus, obviously they must have some good breakfast items. If you're having trouble deciding, why not just have everything? The hearty RBB Signature Breakfast (RM 19.90) will keep you covered, coming with a choice of poached, sunnyside up or scrambled eggs with toast, sautéed wild mushrooms with beef bacon or turkey ham, baked beans, hash brown and another choice of beef or chicken sausage.

I enjoyed the generous serving of mushrooms here; they were extremely juicy and succulent. The scrambled eggs were pretty good too, fluffy and well-seasoned. I particularly enjoyed the lightly buttered crusty toast they served!

Of course, Adam believes that any self-respectable breakfast-serving cafe should have good quality sausages and so, we also put the lamb bratwurst (additional pricey add-on of RM 8) at The Red Beanbag to the test. Unfortunately, we weren't completely bowled over. While the lamb sausage was peppered with lots of flavourful spices, they were simply too greasy for us.

The Eggs Benedict (RM 15.90) was an easy choice to make, with the promise of runny eggs luring us in. We were a little caught off guard when it arrived, not expecting it to be a such a large portion. Two whole poached eggs atop more mushrooms and streaky bacon with lots and lots of buttery-yellow hollandaise sauce... heaven!

One egg was poached to a runny perfection, the other not so, but that didn't stop us from mopping up all the yolk and hollandaise goodness with the toast. I couldn't get enough of the mushrooms from the breakfast platter, so they made for a good companion with all that rich, creamy sauce.

The Traditional Beef Burger with The Lot (RM 22) was a burger to behold. The moment it arrived on a wooden board, almost toppling over due to its sheer size, we knew we were gonna have a good time. :D

Straightened out the burger so it didn't fall over

This was a sloppy mess, but a fine one at that. The substantial burger patty was thick and extremely juicy, and I liked how the fried egg, bacon rashers (completely hidden by the egg) and rocket leaves added their own distinct flavours to each beefy bite. We were stuffed, but we still wiped this out completely... 

On our next visit, we decided to order The RBB Hot Chocolate (RM 8.50). This was very good; smooth and rich with a nice layer of froth up top. Not too sweet either, which we appreciated.

Pretty art for our hot chocolate - deserves another pic, I say!

Chocolate is available in a sinful iced version (Ice ChoccyRM 9) too, with thick chocolate drippings running down the inner edges of the glass. Something less rich - Bundaberg Root Beer (RM 6) - is also a pretty good thirst quencher for a scorching day. Coffee is supposed to be good here, but neither of us can appreciate it all that much so we shall not pretend we can

We had read lots of good things about their Specialty Baked Eggs (RM 17.90) and I was determined to give this mashup of chicken, beef AND lamb bratwurst, sundried tomatoes, potatoes, eggs and cheese a go. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the rich, flavourful taste of this (possibly thanks to the various meaty sausages), but the entire dish was a bit too over-baked to enjoy it the way I had imagined. We ended up scooping up spoonfuls of the firm mixture and balancing them on our toast, as opposed to dipping the toast into a pool of runny yolk, cheese and sauce... Maybe we will have better luck next time. 

Thankfully, the other recommendation turned out excellent - The Red Beanbag's interpretation of the classic French Toast (RM 13.90), a thick slab of toast lovingly coated in slivered almonds.

This is my favourite of The Red Beanbag thus far. The toast was incredibly fluffy, with the golden almond coating providing a welcome crunch and a pleasant nutty aroma. Drizzle with some maple syrup, and accompany with the seasonal fruits on the side (we got strawberries and some lovely pitted cherries) for a perfect finish. Now, if only there had been more toast to go around! :p

The ambiance at The Red Beanbag is quite charming, lots of natural sunlight streaming in and comfy pillows, which is why everyone generally hangs around chatting and chilling, cuppa after cuppa. Don't be fooled though, Red Beanbag is scarcely so empty, the above picture was taken at around 4pm, long after the brunch crowd had left.

To sum it up, food at The Red Beanbag is generally pretty good, though they can be a bit inconsistent (like our poached eggs) especially when the orders start coming in at the peak of lunch. Come early to avoid disappointment, we were told once that the waiting time would take about 45 minutes (!!!) and note that their breakfast menu ceases by 3pm (we also found this out the hard way on a day I was really craving French Toast lol).

*For the full set of photos, visit our Red Beanbag album here.

And that wraps up this post, as well our year of blogging in 2012. We really hope you enjoyed our food adventures this year, and we hope to continue bringing you more new places to seek contentment in 2013! :D Here's to a great year ahead for all of us... Happy New Year!

The Red Beanbag | Facebook
Lot A4-1-08, Level 1, (overlooking The Square)
Solaris Dutamas, Mont Kiara
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03-6211 5116
Email: [email protected]
Opening Hours: Tue-Fri, 10am-10pm; Sat & Sun 9:30am-10pm, closed on Mondays

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Food: Ante Kitchen & Bar @ Solaris Dutamas

As 2012 draws to a close, we begin thinking about and summing up all the different places we've visited over the year.  By now, chances are probably low that we'd find another place making it into our top places of 2012. But as the saying goes, it ain't over till the fat lady sings! =D

Just when we thought we'd had enough of pork for the year, in comes Ante Kitchen and Bar, an unassuming restaurant located in the jungle (sorry, we still can't get used to the layout!) that is Publika / Solaris Dutamas.

Recently opened by a group of 6 friends, Ante Kitchen & Bar has so far managed to rise above the crowd with it's better-than-average food, comfortable ambiance and wide range of alcohol and beer available on tap. When we ate here recently, a surprise was in store for me when I found out most of the owners come from my high school! But that's another story. =P

If the food seems familiar, that's because the chef comes from the now-defunct Mayfair English Kitchen & Bar, one of our first few reviews on this blog. We were really sad to see that place go, but at least now we have his cooking at a more convenient location! Fans of Mayfair will find comfort in dishes like the Ante Caesar Salad (RM 18), topped with a sprinkling of minced bacon. Serving as a perfect light start to the meal, we thoroughly enjoyed the fresh romaine leaves and croutons generously swathed in cheese and their special house dressing. We don't think this is a salad for the healthy-eaters, but it is definitely a repeat order on our next visit!

No one can say Ante doesn't have creativity when it comes to names for it's near impossible to guess what the Flying Drunk Squad (RM 12) is all about! Read the fine print though and all is revealed - a bucket of beer-marinated chicken wings! 

The wings looked good, the presentation looked good, and it tasted good as well! The skin was perfectly crispy without a hint of fat underneath. The consistent brown hue that is proof of perfect deep frying is made all the more attractive with a sprinkling of pepper. Our only concern is some might find these wings too salty, as it was already bordering on saltiness for us. These wings are also a little on the smallish side.

Calling something as the real deal takes a lot of guts, especially when it implies that there are real ones and fake ones. The Real Bacon Carbonara (RM 26) is certainly a daring name to use, since there so many different versions of carbonara around, and most people would believe cooking is up to individual interpretation.

On the outset, what goes into this carbonara doesn't make it any more "real" than others; generous servings of pasta, pork bacon, juicy mushrooms, and onions are certainly nothing new in a standard carbonara. 

But what really sets this carbonara apart from others, and why we think the "Real" name can be justified, is the blending of all the ingredients to create a perfect mix of flavours. Everything is done just right - the sauce is not too watery or thick, creamy with a bold flavour only pork bacon can provide; the onions are perfectly juicy but not too overpowering, nor is the pasta under or overcooked - all of which are common perils faced by the carbonaras in other restaurants. Instead, Ante's version is generous with the ingredients and is an excellent mix of flavours, with the fragrance of pork bacon being gloriously dominant. Wendy has returned to Ante with her family, and each time the carbonara turned out excellent. Honestly, if all this isn't the real deal, we don't know what is. =D

But in the end, the most famous thing at Ante isn't even the carbonara. Instead it's their Up The Ante Pork Burger (RM 35) that really grabs everyone's attention! Upping the ante usually means raising the bar or standard on something, so we were excited to see if Ante really has raised the bar on the widely available pork burger. 

At first glance, the Up The Ante Pork Burger certainly seems to be taking the challenge seriously! There's only one patty, but that single patty is a very special patty, well-seasoned and very juicy with just enough meatiness to satisfy. No over-processing of the pork mince here! The only negative point we noted was the egg, which didn't have a runny centre. We certainly hope the chef learns how to perfect the consistency of a sunny side up egg. That would really perfect this burger all around.

But the best thing about the burger isn't the patty or the bacon. Instead, we were both bowled over by the raisin bun that sandwiches the whole burger together. Honestly, I'm not joking when I say it's one of the best innovations we've seen this year as far as burgers are concerned. I'm not a big fan of raisins, but even I have to admit the slightly sweet flavour of the bread is an ingenious addition that gives balance to the savory taste of the burger. Normally, we don't bother finishing the buns, but this was a rare moment where we actually finished the bread. It was a real treat till the last bite. =D

Oh, a special mention must be made or the tea served at Ante too. I did say the place serves alcohol, but their tea is also worth having for a lazy Sunday afternoon. We had Vanilla Sencha (RM 10, pot for two) that afternoon, which is vanilla flavoured green tea with a hint of osmanthus. The price is reasonable, since the staff will gladly refill your pot as many times as you like. We enjoyed it so much that we had to ask for the brand of tea they use (which now I have promptly forgotten). =D

So, Ante has gotten a lot of reviews across the blogosphere by now, with admittedly mixed opinions. But honestly, if you're looking for a new restaurant, somewhere cool and chic to take your friends or impress that date, or if you're just looking for a simple Western meal, Ante will be one of the first names on the tip of our tongue. Give it a try; we promise you won't regret it. =D

*For the full set of tantalizing food pics at Ante, you can visit our Facebook page here!

Ante Kitchen & Bar | Site
(one floor down from the escalator near GNC Live Well)
A2-G1-09, Solaris Dutamas
Jalan Dutamas 1, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 6206 3364
Opening Hours: Daily, 11am-1am

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Food: Nosh @ Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar

It's rare that Dad is around for dinner on weekdays. It's even rarer that he has a suggestion on a new place to eat! But that's exactly what happened a few weeks back, when he remembered there was a new place called Nosh around the Bangsar Telawi area. 

On the night we went, the place was quite quiet. Nosh hadn't been open for very long at that time, and renovations were still being carried out. It's a quaint little place, reminding us more of a simple coffee house rather than a full-fledged restaurant.

The menu is also short and simple, making it easy to narrow down the choices. Wendy went for the Lamb Meatballs (RM 31) pasta, with penne being used. About half of the already-short menu is dedicated to pastas, so we zeroed in on that. We do like our pasta al dente as much as the next person, but the pasta that night felt underdone, nearly a chore to chew on. Hopefully just an opening glitch.

Sadly, the bigger disappointment were in the texture of the meatballs, which were extremely mushy. There was the unmistakeable flavour of lamb, but sadly the texture didn't do wonders.

Dad had the Smoked Duck and Gorgonzola (RM 31) pasta. Again, the spaghetti was extremely firm, making us slightly uncomfortable. For a pasta dish dependant on olive oil, we wish the kitchen had put in just a dash more olive oil. Dry and firm pasta didn't turn out to be a good combo. The taste of the duck was average, nothing we would rave about. 

Spot the coffee beans!

By now you must think our dinner was an utter disappointment! There was one saving grace however, and that was my plate of Braised Beef Cheeks (RM 39). The serving of beef was rather substatial, and extremely tender, coming apart at the slightest touch. The good chef at Nosh wasn't joking when he put down "coffee-infused" on the menu, as the gravy had a distinct coffee taste. There's even some small coffee beans sprinkled for added effect. The beef came with mash potato and some vegetables, which were unremarkable. The mash had quite a lot of butter, and it did go well with the gravy at least. =D

We also had some sides (named Noshlettes!) to share, like this Percik Chicken Bites (RM 14). It sounded very interesting and fancy, but it turned out to be just fried chicken cubes with the percik sauce on the side. The cubes of chicken were also quite tough, adding to the dismay. At least the sauce did have the recognizable percik flavour reminiscent of Buka Puasa bazaars! I didn't mind it, but Wendy wasn't impressed.

Also on the menu is Kakiage (RM 12) - a plate of mixed vegetables fried tempura style. What can I say? The name says it all. This wasn't very memorable either.

Normally when dinner is unsatisfying, we don't bother sticking around for dessert. But dad had heard some good things about the dessert at Nosh, so we stuck around to give their best dessert a try! At RM32, you'd be forgiven for being hesitant at parting with so much money for an untried dessert. So we'll do the testing for you. =P

Thankfully, the grand entrance of the Valhrona Heaven turned our whole dinner at Nosh back around. We daresay this was one of the best desserts we had all year. 

On the left is a dense and rich chocolate ice cream, on a field of chocolate crumble. The texture of this was excellent, smooth like satin yet so thick you could cut through it with a knife. It melted very slowly, to our amazement. In the middle, an excellent molten chocolate cake, threatening to burst open at the slightest touch. The last is a shiny, sleek tart au chocolat. The pastry was lovely, and the consistency of the dark chocolate filling was perfect. I polished this off though I'm not a fan of dark chocolate.

A platter of 3 different creations, all made from chocolate yet each with its own distinct texture and flavours. Brilliant combination. 

In the end, a disappointing meal ended with a silver lining in the form of a wonderful dessert. We think Nosh will probably have a small loyal following, but we find it hard to recommend the pasta here so far, but the Braised Beef Cheeks and dessert were excellent. May return for the mains, though. Breakfast menu also available. Do give it a try (definitely have the dessert!) and tell us what you think? =)

Nosh | Site
No. 7, Jalan Telawi 3,
Bangsar Baru,
59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +6 03 2201 3548
Email: [email protected]
Opening Hours: Tue-Fri, 11:30am-11pm; weekends 9:30am-11pm, closed on Mondays

Friday, December 14, 2012

Food: Cupcakes by JOW Creations

Jo Weng, or more commonly known affectionately to us as Jow, is a good friend that I've known for a long time. However, since September this year, Jow no long becomes a name that only we use, for he has starting sharing his cupcake passion with everyone else, under the moniker Cupcakes by JOW Creations.

Leaving a cushy job at an investment bank to pursue this dream of his, Jow now operates from home and bakes cupcakes upon order at his website, Besides his 8 signature flavours (more on those later!), he also does a lot of cupcake R&D to perfect his craft, coming up with fresh new flavours each month. This month, we got a delivery of his two December specials to try!

Meet the Orange Toffee and the Red Velvet.

The Orange Toffee cupcake is perfect for someone looking for a zesty affair. The citrus tang in the tall heaped cream cheese topping will hit you first, leaving a pleasant lingering orange-y taste behind as you chow down on the rest of the cupcake. 

When I bit into it, I was pleasantly surprised to find a toffee filling in the body of this cupcake. The frosting, coupled together with its runny toffee core, is an intense combination of flavours. I say, great for any holiday dos!

Next comes the Red Velvet, in a shade of deep sexy chocolatey red, not in the very least frightful (unlike some garish red velvet cake for sale these days). 

If you're looking for something milder yet still festive enough, then you'd probably love this. Less sweet than the Orange Toffee, the Red Velvet is delightfully moist and pairs perfectly with its velvety cream cheese crown. A nice touch are the hawaiian coconut shavings on top, adding a bite of crunch (and also a bit of a tropical feel!) to the whole experience.

I suppose what makes Jow stand out as a cupcake connoisseur (or as we now jokingly call him, the cupcake tycoon) in his own right is his own trademark recipes. He's been baking for us since our secondary school days and many successes and mishaps (which I shall not share :p) later, has gotten the science of cupcakery, mastered.

I like that his cupcakes are bite-sized and fluffy without being dry, moist without being too dense - something I personally find rather rare. No preservatives are added, and cupcakes are baked fresh daily. And if you've noticed, in my review above, he also uses cream cheese frosting for all his cupcakes, instead of butter icing.

Cupcakes for my mom's birthday last month!
Out of his 8 original flavours, my favourites are the Lemon & Pineapple (citrusy and delightful) and surprisingly, the Lavender (refreshing without being too pungent nor overpowering). Other flavours range from chocolate, fruit-based and alcohol-laced ones... I daresay you'll find one flavour you really like!

Last shot before the cupcakes all went missing... into my mouth.

The Orange Toffee and Red Velvet cupcakes above are going for RM 40 per half dozen (only available for this month of December) and the original flavours start from RM 24 per half dozen. Delivery can be arranged with some additional charge. Click here to order!

(Note: In case you were wondering, Jow is pronounced just the same way you would pronounce 'joe', and not any other way like jao, as his website points out!)


Cupcakes by JOW Creations | Site | Facebook
How to buy:
1. Email your orders to [email protected]
2. Call Jow at +6 011 - 1224 35873.
3. Fill up the order form here

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