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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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Food: Four Seasons London @ Empire Shopping Gallery, Subang Jaya

When Empire Shopping Gallery first opened, we used to go quite often. That's when we were writing about places like Opera (which has now closed - Tong Pak Fu has taken its spot), Serai, and even the Lex Firefly Flight Simulator and plaster painting at Plaster Fun House. But lately Empire has been just too out of the way for us, which is why we never even knew that there was this Four Seasons London that used to be tucked inside the supermarket area.

We say 'used to' though, because they have now expanded into their own shoplot, still located on the Lower Ground floor. 

Space doesn't abound here, but they make good use of whatever they have to put up nice decorations, with a very traditional yet slightly modern theme. Though the name is Four Seasons London, don't expect to see lots of Tower Bridges and London Bridges here.. =P

At Four Seasons, the specialty to try is the roast meat. Since there was only 2 of us, we had a Two Combination (RM 29) of Roast Duck and Crispy Roasted Pork (siu yuk). Other choices for the combination include Barbecued Pork (char siu), Roasted Chicken & Soy Sauce Chicken.

Portions here are markedly smaller than other chicken and duck rice stalls, but the emphasis here is on the quality. The evenly-sliced siu yuk had very crispy skin that crumbled sinfully in your mouth, and not a lot of fat; exactly what good roast pork should be like in my books. If the consistency of the roast pork can be maintained for every serving, we will definitely go out on a limb to recommend this roast pork.

On the other hand, the duck slices were really quite small, smaller than the average we're normally used to, though the flavour was all right. We enjoyed the duck, but found it a bit dry. The sweet duck sauce it was served with was great though, especially drizzled over rice. In the end, we still prefer the duck at Village Roast Duck in Bangsar Village, and wouldn't be coming all the way here just for the duck.

Other sauces are provided, but nothing we fancied with roast pork or duck. The ginger condiment was very good, but alas, we didn't order any chicken! In future we'd definitely order a portion of chicken just to have it with. It's that good. =D

Don't mind roast meat, but don't feel like partnering it with rice? Swap it out for some Plain Noodles (RM 5.80 - pricey for plain noodles, if you ask us) instead. These "wan tan" noodles had quite a nice and springy texture - obviously nothing like the ones in Hong Kong, but still, good enough, with just enough sauce. This is the kind of noodles that goes perfectly with roast meat!

We decided we wanted to try the wantan dumplings as well, so we got the Dry Noodles with Wantan, which gave us the noodles above with a small bowl of 4-5 wantans. We were not so impressed with these though, because their prawn and pork filling didn't mesh well together. Too much pork, we reckon. I like prawn wantans and I like pork dumplings, but if you can't do the mixture well - well then, that's not the same as 1 + 1 = 2! For us, it was more like 1 X 1 = 1; neither here nor there, turning out just so-so in the end. You can get a full bowl of these wantans for RM 10.80, but we wouldn't recommend them.

So, for a quick and simple meal at Empire Shopping Gallery, Four Seasons London is an option to keep in mind. There is a more substantial menu - stir-fried meats and vegetables, as well as a dim sum menu, but we would most probably return for their siu yuk, which we really liked. Since they've been able to expand into their own shoplot after just a couple of years, they must have a pretty strong following now. =)

Four Seasons London
Lot LG30, Lower Ground Floor,
Empire Shopping Gallery
Jalan SS16/1, 47500 Selangor
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-10pm

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Food: Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf @ Bangsar Village

The entrance into the big bad wolf's den... from Village Grocer.

I still remember the days when Bangsar Village was just Bangsar Village (without the 1 and 2), there was this little restaurant tucked in the corner which was accessible from the grocery store called Delicious. Now after what seems like just a blink of an eye, Delicious has become a household name, and a new place called Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf (or TLP for short) has taken it's place!

Though the name is rather long (and obviously taken from the well-known children tale), there is actually a purpose for it, as the afternoon session, 8 am - 6 pm has a slightly different menu compared to the after hours session from 6 pm - 11:30 pm. We like this amusing play on the names; it's the first time we've seen a restaurant actually make an effort to distinguish between their day & evening menus. =)

Although TLP appears to have quite a big lot from the outside of Bangsar Village, on a weekend you'd be hard pressed to get a seat, especially during those busy brunch hours! But if you're like us with just a party of 2, your chances of getting lucky are higher. =D

A hearty American breakfast seems to be all the rage these days, and customers seem to be more and more discerning in the quality of food as more outlets aim to please. Just the other day we were at Plan B where I had their big breakfast set, and although there was nothing wrong with it, it just lacked that little bit of extra 'oomph' that other places have. Couldn't quite place my finger on it. But anyway, back to TLP...

On the other hand, breakfast at TLP was a little better, though a little on the pricey side. One thing you'll notice about their I'm So Hungry I could Eat A Wolf! platter (RM 28), is you don't have to choose between a sausage or bacon strips - you get both! If there's one thing I can't stand about most big breakfasts around town, it's the lack of protein. I know bread and baked beans and eggs and mushrooms are all cheap, but would it really hurt to give an extra sausage? Or a bit more bacon? 

The other items on the plate were also nice. The eggs were done perfectly sunny side up with a very runny yolk while the mushrooms are very juicy and succulent. The sausage looked run-of-the-mill, but we were pleasantly surprised with its juiciness when we bit into it. My favourite routine? Break the runny egg yolk over the rye bread, take a bit of sausage, bacon, and mushroom, put it all on a fork and swallow in one mouthful! Breakfast at its best. =D Wendy still prefers the signature breakfast at Red Beanbag though.

As with all other non-halal restaurants, the ability to serve pork is an advantage that must exploited to its fullest! While there's nothing wrong with a spaghetti carbonara with turkey ham and chicken, it just isn't complete without the saltiness of pork bacon to enhance the flavour and balance the cheesy taste. 

Understanding this, TLP unabashedly ensures that they pack The Wolf's Favourite (RM 27) full of bacon strips and button mushrooms with the crowning glory of a poached egg for added effect. The combination of bacon & egg was great and we loved that they didn't scrimp on bacon. This is one of the best carbonaras we've had so far this year, on par with the one we get at Ante Kitchen & Bar on a good day

But if you think TLP only knows what to do with a pig, think again! Their cake range on display that day had Wendy intrigued (who had been craving cake... again). Thankfully, we were very impressed with our choice - this Pandan & Gula Melaka Cheesecake (RM 14), which layered yummy pandan sponge cake in between the cheese unlike traditional cheesecakes with a thick cheese centre and a minor biscuit bottom. The sponge was very well done, not dry at all, and we liked the light cheese tinged with gula melaka. Pandan and cheese don't sound like a good combo, but we did enjoy this for its light and fluffy texture. (On a side note, is it just us, or are cakes getting terribly pricey everywhere?)

Don't hope for much from the coffee art though. Perhaps, they were just extra busy that afternoon. Either way, we paid more attention to the coffee itself - the Caramel Latte (RM 11) may not have been the best in town, but was just right by my standards, milky and not too sweet.

TLP is definitely the kind of place that's here to stay. I've tried a little bit from the Wolf's dinner menu, and I can safely say it's just as good. Seems like TLP takes the advice from the three little pigs' mother very seriously; "The way to get along in the world is to do things as well as you can!"

Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf | Facebook
(accessible via entrance in Village Grocer)
Lot G1A, Ground Floor,
Bangsar Village, No. 1,
Jalan Telawi Satu, Bangsar Baru,
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 2283 2270
Opening Hours: Daily, 8am-11:30pm

Friday, April 19, 2013

Food: Potpourri Cafe @ Jaya One, Petaling Jaya

It's always exciting to see friends start business ventures. As we move through our 20s, more and more friends begin to shun the rat race for a road less traveled, trying to make it in the world on their own terms. Potpourri Cafe in Jaya One is opened by one such friend whom I met as a banker, and is now an entrepreneur. =)

Potpourri Cafe takes over what used to the Fireman steamboat restaurant, next to the entrance to the carpark and down the same row as Old Town White Coffee. We never went to Fireman, but we hear the furnishing is still a little similar, with a few extra tables here and there. 

Food here offers a mix between middle eastern fare and local fare. My friend's husband is Middle Eastern, which explains the influence on the food. We went on the 2nd day of opening so the menu was still a work in progress, but since then we hear there are a lot more choices in the menu! =D

For starters, I spotted there was Deep Fried Sotong (RM 12.80)  which I'm always a sucker for! The calamari here are fresh and juicy, with a mixture of squid rings and legs. I particularly like that there were squid legs, a tad more texture in my humble opinion, since a lot of places tend to only serve the rings. We were slightly disappointed with the portion size, which we were told would be changed over time. =)

For mains we tried a bit of both middle eastern and local, opting for the Potpourri Moroccan Lamb Stew (RM 24.80). This may not look like the most appealing dish in terms of presentation, but boy, was it tasty! The lamb tasted like a result of a good slow cook, leaving the flesh succulent and soft. The gravy was also extremely flavourful and appetizing, fragrant with a mixture of spices and sweetness. We would return to have this. 

For those not feeling so adventurous, there's always familiar names like the Beef Hor Fun (RM 10.80), slithery kuey teow noodles with beef, in a thick spring onion & ginger sauce. In case you were wondering, Potpourri is a halal restaurant, so Muslim friends can come here and enjoy simple Chinese-style cuisine as well. And I would recommend Potpourri for their Chinese food too, because this Hor Fun had plenty of flavour, it wasn't too salty or bland, and it didn't taste like a lot of MSG. The beef was also tender, leading us both to give this a stamp of approval. =D

Drinks at Potpourri deserve their own special mention. The bartender at Potpourri definitely has a creative flair, as he makes up his own recipes like this Summerino Ice Tea (RM 6.80). I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually liked this drink, since it was really very refreshing and fruity. Some may say it's a bit too sweet, but I put that down to the sweetness of the fruit rather than added sugar. 

Wendy on the other hand gave the After Eight Chocolate (RM 7.80) a go, and her gamble paid off. While iced chocolates can sometimes be thick and filling, the use of After Eight chocolates that have a minty centre ensure the drink turns out much more lighter and easier to drink, with a lovely lingering chill from the mint. This is one of those drinks that leaves a lasting impression on you, one that we haven't forgotten after over a month! =D

So with food that's simple, affordable and worth a second go, there's no reason not to make Potpourri a regular haunt. They have also inherited an upstairs portion, which has now been turned into a more relaxed dining and chill-out spot. An added bonus? There are extractor fans left in the restaurant since the previous owner served steamboat, but now instead of extracting steamboat steam, it now conveniently turns the upstairs area into a possible indoor shisha area. We think that's a really unique point of the place, that can definitely attract a crowd. =D

And yes, I did say shisha in the previous paragraph. So whether it's for a quick lunch meal, a more satisfying dinner meal, or just a quick hang out with friends, Potpourri has it all covered. We certainly wish them all the best in this new venture! =D

Potpourri Cafe | Facebook
(few doors away from Old Town Kopitiam, facing the main road)
Lot 43, LG2, Block C, Jaya One
No. 72A, Jalan Universiti
Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Food: Taste of Milan Menu @ Italiannies, Empire Shopping Gallery

Italiannies in KL has become synonymous with good Italian food, in portions that are very suitable for sharing! But sadly many KL-ites can only think of normal pizzas and pasta when asked to name different types of Italian food. So to address this, Italiannies launched a culinary discovery of Italian cuisine. This exploration has resulted in the Taste of Milan menu, showcasing a few dishes that incorporate some common ingredients found in the region. Also interesting is the fact that traditional Milanese cooking generally incorporates touches of yellow, which means that ingredients like saffron, butter and lemons are used.

And thanks to the kind people at Chaswood, we were given the opportunity to sample this promotional menu at the Italiannies in Empire Shopping Gallery. The outlet there is very big, with an outside balcony area for smokers and a live band that plays on Friday nights! 

The Taste of Milan menu is actually quite simple, consisting of 1 starter, 3 mains, and 1 dessert. The starter is the Funghi Gratinati con Crema di Polenta (RM 22.90). We thought this was not bad, although perhaps a little bit dry. The special part of this dish is the golden bed of cornmeal or polenta, which replaces the usually ever-present baked cheese. 

The porcini and button mushrooms hidden under the polenta are also very nice and juicy, since it's all made when ordered. I wasn't sold on the combination of bread and the corn, but individually it tasted nice! :D

And if you thought Italians don't know a thing about beef, think again! 1 of the 3 mains is the Constole di Manzo Glassata (RM 49.90) or simply, honey and mustard glazed short ribs. One look at these ribs will tell you there's no way one person can finish this portion! But though the ribs are so huge, the meat is extremely soft and falls apart easily. We attribute this to the 5 hours average cooking time that these ribs have to go through!

On the flip side, we did find this a bit dry towards the end, so eat it fast before it gets cold (read: spend less time taking pictures). Also the flavour of honey and mustard is only slight, but still noticeable, so don't worry about getting mustard up your nose. =D

Perhaps the most unique main out of the 3 is the Ossobuco d'Agnello (RM 52.90). It's clear a lot of thought went into this, and we're not just talking about the mashed sweet potatoes, which are very awesome BTW! I'm not a fan of sweet potato, but this mash was very nice and smooth, tempting me to take another spoonful...and another...and another.....

But besides the mashed potato, the lamb itself is worthy of praise, as it's tender and falls off the bone. There's plenty of flavour too, since it's infused with a host of tropical citrus and herb, like apple, oranges, lemons and even sage for a bit of a tangy taste. 

The lamb might be the most unique, but the favourite amongst customers is the Risotto con Pesce Bianco (RM 23.90), that has sea bass in the rice. Again, I'm normally not one to put risotto as my first choice at an Italian joint, usually because I find it very mushy soft. But to my surprise this risotto was looser and firmer, and not as clumpy! Later we discovered it was because the rice is only cooked up to about 50%, instead of the usual 80. That gives the rice a bit of a better bite, in our opinion.

And while risottos are usually quite wet or soupy, all 'wetness' in this dish is purely from the broth of the fresh sea bass, added with a dash of garlic. So when you try this and you wonder if the awesome taste is too good to be true, it isn't! you are truly enjoying the unadulterated taste of fish. =D

Last but not least, on the Taste of Milan menu is the Crostata di Mele con Crema di Mascarpone (RM 16.90), or just simply, Apple Pie! It's undoubtedly a simple recipe, with no surprises in between. My favourite part was the mascarpone cheese with lemon on top of the pie. My only wish was if there could have been more of it! The pie itself spares no expense, with chunks of apple peeking out once you dig a fork in. Wendy didn't fancy it as much because this Italian version holds no cinnamon, much unlike the American ones we're used to. All a matter of preference.

Really good grape smoothie! Never had one of these before...

So if you haven't been to Italiannies in awhile, now is your time to go! As if good food wasn't a reason enough, they are also running a competition that will send one lucky winner to Italy itself! Just order any of the above Passport to Italy mains and receive 2 contest forms to be in the running. You'll also receive 1 contest for every RM 50 you spend on their usual a'la carte menu. Versace perfumes are up for grabs for the weekly winners, but more importantly, one of the weekly winners will then be selected to be the grand prize winner... of a trip of Italy for two! It's that easy. Hurry though, because the promotion ends 15th April 2013 15. Yes, we know that doesn't give you much time. But hey, there are at least 3 meals in a day right? =D

If you read about it here and end up winning the grand prize... do remember to buy us a souvenir or two from Italy, okay? =P

Participating outlets for this promotion:
The Curve, Mutiara Damansara
The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley
Empire Shopping Gallery, Subang Jaya
Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya
Gurney Paragon, Penang

Italiannies | Site
G16, Empire Shopping Gallery,
Jalan SS16/1, 47500 Subang Jaya,
Selangor, Malaysia
Tel : +6 03 5637 7259
Opening Hours: 10am-10pm

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Food: Charms Cafe @ 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya

1Utama has seen a lot of changes over the last few years. From a foodie's perspective, it's been a wonderful boon as the New Wing in 1U has seen many new restaurants and snack joints opening up. Of course, business in any industry is unforgiving, especially in the F&B line, so it's no surprise to see such high turnover. But then there are places like Charms Cafe that have weathered the changing times and continue serving customers with their own special menu of food. =)

Charms occupies a small shoplot along the walkway that connects the Old Wing and New Wing (of course these days the once-old wing is now the newer wing... yeah, haven't figured out how to refer to either wing yet :p) and a spot in the middle with hanging swings and lanterns, which is the more popular area for diners.

We started coming here way in the beginning of our relationship, although we can't remember why exactly we chose to try Charms that fine day many years ago.

But since that day, we've always remembered Charms for it's one particular snack that both of us thoroughly enjoy. It's been our secret all these years, but now we're willing to share! How generous we are =P

And the secret is... the aptly named Charms Mini Mayo Dip (RM 8.50)  By all accounts it looks pretty plain and ordinary from the outside, but dig into it and the truth is revealed! 

It's hard to describe this snack. It's even harder to find something to compare it to. Imagine piping hot baked mayo, mixed with some egg and bits of what we think could be mushrooms and onions. Every time, we try to guess what actually goes in... but, I think we'll just ask the wait staff next time. Haha. It makes for a perfect, yet simple dip with some plain bread, which which is served with the dip. Be warned that it gets very filling though; there's actually a bigger version, but we usually can't finish this mini version between the both of us. Order the regular size dip for parties of at least 4. And make sure they are not small eaters. =D

Continuing the list of snacks, we also like the Cucur Bawang (RM 5.90) here at Charms. Charms' version of the common cucur bawang, loosely translated to be onion fruitters, was a very addictive snack. 

The batter holding the strips of onion and carrots together was light and extremely crunchy, and it went well with their special Charms' green chilli dip. Doesn't sound like much, but it's one of those once-start-can't-stop kind of snacks! =D

Want more meat? Have some Boxing Chicken! The Boxing Chicken was actually pretty typical of fried chicken drummets and wings served elsewhere, with nothing much setting it apart. Some days though, we just crave some fried chicken and that was one of those days. Slug this out with 2-3 others to claim the title of boxing champion. =D

Fried chicken may be common in KL restaurants, but what is definitely special is this Spicy Gizzie (RM 7.50)! Without any description on the menu, we had to make a uninformed guess on what it was, but I had a feeling it would be the chicken gizzard, and I was right! Of all the inner parts of a chicken, the gizzard is my favourite, perhaps the only part I will eat. (I don't like liver or heart.. =/) So, I was quite happy to have a whole plate of fried gizzard! It's tasty, with the batter spicy and appetizing, but definitely way too much for one person to finish. Make sure you bring a like-minded gizzard-loving friend along with you, or it's going to go to waste. =D

Charms also has a few special main dishes, but on this particular visit we only had one of the mains from their new menu, the Green Curry Spaghetti. Fusion food is all the rage these days, but a good five to six years ago, I probably would never have entertained the thought of trying green curry with spaghetti. As it turns out, it was pretty good, with a fragrant green curry sauce that's thick but not cloying, and a reasonable amount of chicken, prawns and squid. Again, it's not something I'd recommend for one person to finish, but it's more than enough for 2 to share. =)

Charms is a place we hold pretty close to our hearts. We're glad the Mayo Dip and their other dishes have remained consistent and tasty, just the way we remember, while maintaining reasonable prices in the myriad of (pricier) F&B outlets in 1 Utama. If you find yourself in 1 Utama, tired after a long day of shopping, or needing to kill time waiting for a movie to start, why not stop Charms for a snack?

*All photos taken by iPhone 5. For the full set of photos, click here.

Charms CafeSite
Situated near Factory Outlet Store
Lot S206, 2nd Floor,
1 Utama Shopping Centre,
Lebuh Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +6 03 7722 2206
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-10pm

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