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, February 25, 2013

Travel: Bandung Day #1 - Massage at Mariaty's & Dinner at Paskal Food Market

Previous post on Bandung: Factory outlet hopping and street food!

After covering factory outlet after factory outlet for most part of the day, our feet and backs were crying out to us, telling us that they needed a break. Thankfully, we had earlier in the day, conveyed this SOS to our driver, Pak Dodi, and he brought us here:

Mariaty's Spa & Gallery is a small quaint spa located in a lot along Jl. Setiabudi that came highly recommended by Pak Dodi. He called the place some time in the afternoon to book places for the eight of us, and so there was no wait.

The decor outside of Mariaty's

Besides providing spa treatments like massages, facials and ear candling, Mariaty's also doubles up as a somewhat of a fashion gallery, selling interesting looking pieces of jewellery. Bags and clothes were also available.

What should we have?

We decided what we wanted at the counter, which you can imagine, took awfully long for eight people, and finally everyone decided on the same thing, a foot massage costing Rp. 95,000 (approximately RM 30 / USD 10).

Since we were a big group, we got separated into our own little rooms. Adam and I got ushered into the tiny room above, dimly lit. Our masseuses came in quickly and got started. I have to say the massage was better than I had expected. For a foot massage, they also pay some attention to your back and shoulders at the end of the 60 minutes. This, I thought they were very good at. Felt so relaxed after! They were pretty attentive as well, checking to see if they were applying too much pressure, and if the room was too warm for our liking.

After our massage ended, they let us rest for a little while, and then brought in refreshments! We were served some warm ginger tea, and two small plain buns, of pancake texture dusted with icing sugar. I asked them what it was and I think it sounded like 'profiterole', but it didn't taste anything like the ones we had at the Profiteroles Cafe in Solaris Dutamas. The ginger tea was very potent, quite comforting after being prodded and pressed. :p

Waiting for Pak Dodi
After our massages, we waited awhile for Pak Dodi to arrive, and we discovered... free wi-fi at Mariaty's too. Big plus point for a bunch of data-hungry people. :D

Picture source: Paskal Hypersquare website

Pak Dodi had planned to bring us to Paskal Food Market that night, a large open-aired food court located in Paskal Hypersquare on Jl. Pasirkaliki which seemed like a mixed development with shopping, service apartments offices and facilities available. The development seems pretty central to Bandung, because we passed by it several times throughout our whole stay.

However, the rest of the development seemed extremely quiet in the night, with only the food market bustling with patrons. The entire Paskal Food Market is maybe a little larger than the Ming Tien food court in Taman Megah and has a vast array of Indonesian specialities.

Even Western and Italian varieties are available. (I think I spotted a Malaysian nasi goreng too?)

Much must be said of the nice environment that the Paskal Food Market has prepared for its diners though. The place is nicely lit up with yellow bulbs placed in white birdcages and on tall candlestands as well. It truly can be quite romantic if you're on a budget... can imagine that lots of young Bandung couples come here once in awhile.

The system at Paskal Food Market is a bit messy. The stall gives you a number which you bring back to your table. Payment has to be made at the main counters scattered around the huge food court, similar to some other food courts. The problem was that the payment queues were always so long, and so the food was delivered first, without us having a payment receipt to show them on several occasions :S

I decided to give the Lotek a try - a traditional Sundanese dish akin to gado-gado. Surprisingly, it wasn't served to in peanut sauce like most gado-gado, and instead was in a thin tumeric (kunyit) broth similar to the lontong we have over here. Not my kind of thing, our lontong in KL is far thicker and tastier.

We also tried another Batagor, but the one we had along the street on Jl. Dago was far more superior. Guess nothing can beat street food! :D

The Indonesian otak-otak (Rp. 15,000 / RM 5 for 5 pcs) is very different from our spicy version. It tasted very much like keropok lekor textured (for those who have not tried this Malaysian delicacy, it's a springy mackerel fish paste), only grilled instead of deep-fried. Quite interesting, but must be eaten with the chilli sauce for more flavour.

The best dishes, we felt, came from the Ayam Cobek Langganan stall. Adam and I had been walking up and down the stalls trying to find some grilled or fried chicken, ayam penyet style, and finally found this stall.

The Ikan Lele Bakar Cobek (IDR 14,000) was surprisingly fleshy for approximately RM 4 after conversion. The flesh was firm yet flavourful, having being nicely grilled and glazed to perfection, slightly sweetish as a result. I liked the accompanying chillies in dark sauce for an extra kick.

We also had the Ayam Kriuk (IDR 14,000). If the fish was fleshy, then this was absolutely frail in comparison! If there's one thing we learnt in our time in Bandung, is that spring chicken (or even duck for that matter) is served all over Bandung. This didn't satisfy Adam at all, but at least the crunchy bits (the kriuk, as they call it) were quite enjoyable with what little chicken flesh there was.

I ordered some Kue Serabi, a recommended street food I saw on some food blogs, but the only stall I found selling it was here in Paskal Food Market.

Kue Serabi is a small flour pancake, shaped like a disc and slightly chewy in texture. The pancake itself doesn't have much flavour, just a hint of salt, but the trick is in the toppings. Toppings from sausages to cheese, chocolate to banana are available.

I opted for a simple one with grated cheese and chocolate rice. It surprisingly went better with the cheese than the chocolate, but I found the pancake too thick and filling.

I also bought some Kue Ape (crudely also called kue tetek because it sort of resembles the female chest wtf -__-) to try, very similar to our apom here. Made out of wheat flour batter, this pancake was thin and crispy around the edges and thick and fluffy in the middle. Very enjoyable snack when still hot more so than the Kue Serabi above, with a slight hint of pandan, likely where its green tinge came from. Rp. 8,000 (RM 2.50) for 15 pieces.

Clockwise from right:
1. Visitors are encouraged to toss coins through the hoop the statue is holding. I failed miserably :(
2. An acoustic band!
3. Lovely fountain and lights near the main entrance/exit

What I really enjoyed was that there was a band towards the end of the night, playing some acoustic numbers. We didn't necessarily know the words they were singing, but it added to the lovely atmosphere. 

The verdict of Paskal Food Market overall? Not the best food, you'll have better luck finding better on the streets, but wide selection if you have limited time in Bandung and want to try a large variety of local favourites. Great ambiance, though.

And so, our "romantic" dinner under Bandung skies marked the end of Day 1. Satisfied and tired, we headed back to our hotel for a hot shower (some local Bintang beer and snacks after, of course :p) and an early morning the next day.

Day 1 shopping tally:

Got some really gorgeous kebaya material, for about RM 30 a set. These were from Pasar Baru earlier that morning.

Half mine and half Adam's! You won't get the trendiest stuff in Bandung, but we got some functional pieces like polo tees and simple dresses. 

Next up: Witnessing Tangkuban Perahu up close!

Mariaty's Spa & Gallery | Facebook
Jl. Setiabudi, No. 38,
Bandung 40181, Indonesia
Tel: +62 22 2035928
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-9pm

Paskal Food Market | Site
Jl. Pasirkaliki, No. 25-27
Bandung 40161, Indonesia.
Tel: +622 8606 0788
Fax: +622 8606 0789

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Food: Little Heritage House Straits Chinese Kitchen @ Section 17, PJ

There aren't many good Nyonya places around town these days. I find that a shame, because I always feel Nyonya food is also something that's very uniquely traditional Malaysian, and generally undiluted by the influence of the East and West. But now we have Little Heritage House in Section 17 to spice up the market again! =D

Step into Little Heritage House, and you'll be immediately struck by the array of traditional Baba Nyonya household items on display! There's all sorts of things ranging from an old ice kacang shaver machine to a fireplace. I do get the feeling that it's a bit cluttered for a restaurant, but most would find all of it charming and interesting. =)

Food-wise, a glance through the menu reveals many familiar Nyonya dishes, such as the Jiew Hu Char (RM 25). A dish consisting mainly of turnip, it's usually wrapped in lettuce into bite size pieces, or eaten on it's own for those who like it that way. This was a nice, comforting dish though I expected the flavours to be stronger. In fact that was how the rest of the night roughly progressed; in the right direction, but not in a major way. 

More familiarity accompanies the Acar Rampai (RM 18), a plate of pickled vegetables. The vegetables had a good crunch to them and was adequately sour enough for most of our liking. My mum proclaimed it a little too sweet for her palate, however. Wendy liked the smattering of sesame seeds that gave it a bit more fragrance.

There's also special soups available, like this Kiam Chye Arc (salted vegetables with duck), a small serving for RM 28 - larger servings for bigger families also available. It had a nice salty-sour tang to it but sadly, we were left unimpressed by the lukewarm temperature of the soup when served. We believe soup should always be served steaming hot, and any soup that is not, is a definite indication of slack on the chef's part. 

A favourite of the night was the Grilled Sambal Brinjal (RM 22) which was done exceptionally well, with a distinct and exciting tangy flavour, just slightly spicy. Though there was mention of sambal, rest assured we didn't break a sweat over this (or any other spicy dish for that matter!). This went very well with rice.

Another dish that we quite liked was the Inchi Kabin (RM 28). Though it might just look like fried chicken, true Inchi Kabin, which is nyonya styled fried chicken, is supposed to pack a lot more flavour that sets it apart. Preparation includes marinating it with lots of spices and coconut milk before deep frying the chicken twice. The chicken was juicy, crispy and most enjoyable - good fried chicken, but perhaps not the best Inchi Kabin.

The Curry Capitan Chicken (RM 28) which was a special that day, was more disappointing. The gravy was very runny and had hardly much flavour, the herbs on top notwithstanding - not something we are used to in a curry capitan. Again, this dish wasn't served very hot, perhaps indicating it had been warmed up. And nothing makes us grimace more than food that has obviously been heated up. =/

The Steamed Ladies Fingers (RM 22) were large (in fact far larger than the usual ones we get!) and fresh but Wendy found the them a tad overcooked, losing some of that nice crunch.

As is our practice when we're at a new restaurant, we try to order all the specialties so we know whether to come back again! We gave the Curry Tumis Bawal Hitam (RM 35) a try, which again like everything else, was also served in a tiffin carrier. That was a bit strange, since obviously a whole fish cannot fit into a round tiffin carrier, so the fish is broken in a few parts. This had slight assam flavour, with a slight fragrance from the bunga kantan (ginger flower). Nothing too spicy.

The Asam Prawns (RM 33) fared better than the fish in our opinion. Though the prawns were rather small, the asam jawa (tamarind) gravy was good; tangy & appetizing.

We did enjoy the sambal provided though - quite potent and tongue tingling enough for us.

The cendol and the sago in the background

After all that food, we couldn't leave without trying dessert! We gave all their three recommendations a try, the Sago Gula Melaka, Traditional Cendol, and the Pengat.

Our verdict? Go for the Sago Gula Melaka, the sago pearls were boiled to perfection (not soggy or anything) and their gula melaka (palm sugar) really is top notch.

The Pengat was interesting, but not so much to our liking. This is one only for the very sweet-toothed. The yam and sweet potatoes were still rather firm, we would much prefer it to be boiled till soft. Not sure if this is the Nyonya style? Nevertheless, worth a try, but do share this due to the high sugar content.

If the gula melaka used is is good, then by extension that means the Traditional Cendol was nice too. It was, but we were a little surprised to see tube ice used as a replacement to shaved ice. I suppose they may not want to invest in an ice shaver, or at least, not just yet. On the plus side, there was no red bean (which I don't like), so I was happy about that. =D

If we had a grouse, it would be the prices. The sago and cendol were served in very small bowls, but each were RM 5. The pengat was in a slightly larger bowl and was RM 10, which is still pricey in our opinion.

Air Sirap Bandung (RM 5), and their recommended drink, the Nutmeg Cooler (RM 8)
Drinks are also quite steeply priced. Again, glasses are small. Their recommended Nutmeg Cooler came with a price tag of RM 8. Though quite refreshing and fizzy, we find the price a tad hefty.

While we had high hopes for Little Heritage House, we came away a tad disappointed. Despite the usage of tiffin carriers, most of the food was served lukewarm with the exception of just a few. Teething issues in the kitchen, perhaps? With the prices charged, we thought it proper to expect something of higher quality or at least of larger portions. However, we're told they have set lunches which may be of more value. 

Little Heritage House
(same row as Decanter)
Ground & 1st Floor,
No. 23, Jalan 17/56,
Section 17, Petaling Jaya
Tel: +6 03 7932 1810
Opening Hours: Daily, 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10pm

*Note: All photos taken with iPhone5

Friday, February 15, 2013

Food: Sarpino's Pizza Delivery from Bangsar Lucky Garden

On a rainy or lazy evening, sometimes the last thing we want to do is brave the traffic and go food hunting, despite how much we love unearthing new places to eat. Or perhaps you're all cooked out from CNY this weekend and just want some delivery? When this happens, it usually entails a quick perusal of the Domino's website and a 30 minute wait for our pizza pies to arrive.

In recent years however, we finally have more variety other than the "mainstream" pizza chains like Pizza Hut and Domino's. Skippy's Pizza was one we tried, and more recently, Sarpino's Pizzeria as well.

The one downside of ordering from a smaller chain is that delivery time can take more than 30 minutes. Sometimes, even up to an hour. Sarpino's transparently told us this over the phone before we placed our orders which we appreciated. Since we weren't on the verge of starvation yet, we decided to wait it out. After about 45 minutes, our pizza arrived, tied up in a cute bundle.

There was an excellent Buy 1 Free 1 deal on their website, which was a no brainer for us - we chose two regulars (10 inch pies, RM 37.90 for 1), so we each get to choose one flavour and keep any leftovers to reheat for another day. I'm quite a fan of pineapples in my pizza, so The Aloha it was! I was pleasantly surprised at the generosity of the toppings - a healthy sprinkling of turkey bacon and lots of pineapples topped with a substantial amount of cheese. We have had too many sparsely made pizzas when dining out of late, so this Sarpino's pizza was thoroughly appreciated. Loved this because the pineapples were very sweet and juicy.

We don't usually order the thick crust option but Sarpino's doesn't do any thin varieties. Surprisingly, I found myself enjoying the soft and fluffy dough. The crusts at the edges also had a good bite to it, crisp yet not greasy. To my surprise, I found myself finishing the whole slice (a bad habit of mine is leaving the hard edge behind) because the dough got a bit addictive. carb overload :p

Like the carnivore he is, Adam naturally gravitated towards The Butcher, a red meat massacre of beef salami and lean ground beef lovingly swathed with lots of mozzarella.

Again, we were impressed with the sheer amount of beef there was - especially seeing as this was a Buy 1 Free 1 promotion. No short changing on Sarpino's part here. This was an extremely meaty combination, with lots of ground beef in every bite! It got a bit too much for me, but I think Adam was quite pleased.

We also ordered the Oven Baked BBQ Chicken (RM 12.90) as a side, advertised as containing some of their special ingredients. It was just all right, in our opinion. Tasty and meaty wings, but not award-winning.

We also ordered some Onion Rings (RM 4.90) to share, fried in olive oil. A nice snack, but unfortunately already soggy when our pizza arrived. Unavoidable, we understand. Still, wouldn't it be nice if someone figured out how to deliver fries and onion rings still crispy one day? /wishful thinking

A change away from our usual Domino's turned out well - Sarpino's seems to have the pizza basics down pat; a good pie dough, tasty homemade tomato pizza sauce and abundant toppings. Create your own pizzas are also available according to their website. Wouldn't mind ordering some Sarpino's again soon to try some of their other combinations!

Sarpino's | Site
Note: We called the branch closest to us, but there are also other branches listed here
No. 21A, Persiaran Ara Kiri,
Lucky Garden, Bangsar,
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: + 6 03 2094 4577
Email: [email protected]

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Food: icook italian gastronomia & @ 3Two Square, Petaling Jaya

Taking this opportunity to wish all readers a very Happy Chinese New Year and happy holidays! May your days be filled with good food, good laughter and good adventures. :)

Adam & Wendy


Note: This is our second post on icook. You can read our first post here.

We usually don't review restaurants more than once, because we like to talk about something fresh and new each time. Unless of course there are major changes to the place like closing down, revamped menu, etc., then we will amend our original post to the best of our knowledge.

We first visited icook about a year ago, and we're happy to see it doing well and growing over the months! On our recent visit there, we noticed a lot of new items on the menu, as well as a slightly different layout, so we thought it warranted a second a post. =D

In the beginning, it was the policy at icook to line the table fully with large sheets of brown mahjong paper (or what looks like brown mahjong paper) to ensure best hygiene standards. While we thought it was a thoughtful gesture, we did think it got in the way of the meal. Now, the paper is cut up into squares like a place mat, showing off the black table underneath, which contrasts with the black and white chairs. 

Besides a new layout, there's also plenty new stuff on the menu! These days burgers are all the rage, no thanks to the myBurgerLabs, Fat Boys, Burger Junkyards, and a host of other burger joints sprouting around town. Well not to be outdone, icook has its own burger menu too -!

There are around 18 different options on the burger menu, each sounding different and Italian-esque in their own way. Prices are also extremely reasonable, with prices all below RM 20. Don't expect to find anything ordinary combination here, instead look for inclusions of roasted zucchini, eggplant, goat's cheese, olive pate, basil and lots more to go along with the Australian beef patties!

But amongst all those choices, one must stand out. For us, that was the Treviso (RM 17.90), an enticing mix of a ground beef medallion, cheddar cheese, fried egg, caramelized onion, garlic mayo sauce and parmesan cheese. Each burger comes with a very small serving of chips crispy around the edges and soft on the inside.

However, while the chips were nothing to rave about, the rightful star here is the burger. While the new burger upstarts around town have a claim to the new and wacky recipes (even colourful buns?), icook's forte is in using common ingredients found in Italian food, and use of top notch ingredients.

We were very satisfied with this Treviso. Though it won't be the largest patty around town, it was sufficiently juicy and meaty and the twin cheeses of parmesan and cheddar with garlic mayo made this a sloppily satisfying! The sweetness from the caramelized onions was excellent as well, being the icing on top. We will definitely return again to try more of their burgers.

Ah, but I've gotten ahead of myself. Bread is always the starter that is provided at every table. During our previous visit, it was accompanied with the signature tomato dip which we grew less fond of, especially when it was used in everything else from pasta to pizzas. Now it's been changed to a more conventional olive oil and balsamic vinegar with extra herbs thrown in for flavour; we have to sing it's praises! We like this combination a lot better. The bread too has never been questioned at icook, as it's always thick yet light and fluffy inside.

The first thing we did when we reached was to ask Chef Nicola what his recommendations were, since we noticed the menu had expanded. He didn't hesitate to recommend this stew! The Tuscan Recipe Fish Stew is a rich tomato broth made up of sea bass, prawns, calamari and mussels, served with foccacia. 

With all that seafood, there was hardly any more space for the soup itself! We ordered the starter size (RM 34.90 while the main course size costs RM 48.90), which held just enough broth for one person but had enough seafood for 2 to share. The tomato broth was had a nice tummy-warming kick to it and the seafood was excellent and fresh, making this a tasty, albeit expensive starter to the meal. If anything, I think we wished a bit more broth to this stew because we were both lapping it up.

For me, I could never truly get the Roast Chicken at icook out of my head. So on this trip there, I resisted temptation from other new creations, and stuck to the good old quarter roast chicken with potatoes. There were certainly no regrets, as the chicken remained tender and juicy, with crispy skin perfectly marinated with spices. After the complete flop of beer roasted chicken at Estate that we had just a few weeks back, I nearly shed tears of joy having found a good roast chicken again. No joke. =D

After a good meal, we're always enticed to order dessert. Alas, we seem to have this jinx of getting bad dessert when the main meal is good. icook continued the pattern, with this creme brulee turning out to be slightly disappointing no thanks to the overburnt sugar on top, giving it a noticeably bitter aftertaste.

Thankfully, the insides were top notch though, so I'd wouldn't mind returning to give it another go. 

So after more than a year of opening, it's great to see icook going strong. The adjoining space which they also occupy has now been turned into an open kitchen, where cooking classes are held on a weekly basis. If you're ever looking for something different to do on a Saturday morning, give this a thought! We'd certainly vouch for the professionalism of Chef Nicola, and guarantee you won't come away empty-handed.

*All photos taken with an iPhone and some shaky hands.

icook italian gastronomia & | Facebook
B-06-01, Dataran 3 Two
Jalan 19/1, 46300 Petaling Jaya,
Tel: +6 03 7960 1691
Email: [email protected]
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-9:30pm; Sat, 12pm-10:30pm

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