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, January 17, 2011

Food: SanBanTo @ SS2, Petaling Jaya

In the previous post about Darabif Burgers, I talked about how Wendy and I are always lost for places to go for a late lunch on Sunday afternoons. This post will be about a place that solves a similar dilemma - Where to have dinner on weekdays after work??



To summarize briefly, Wendy stays in PJ and i stay in KL, so if I have to pick her up after work then dinner is usually somewhere in PJ or along the way back to my place. We try not to go too far away since the jam after work at about 7-8 is obviously a killer. But then that kinda limits the places we can go to as well since we're obviously looking for not-too-expensive places to have dinner!



Of course, once in awhile we must treat ourselves also laa! So when that feeling comes around every blue moon, we expand our list of permitted restaurants on a weekday night, which includes SanBanTo in SS2!

P.S - If there so happens to be any Muslim readers who drop by, please skip this post as it's going to be all about pork. No hard feelings yea? =)


All the tables in the restaurant. Yes, it's not very big.
Note the huge mirror on the right side. Not my thing at all. I'm not that vain!

Everyone can see what's happening in the kitchen!


History
SanBanTo opened in late 2009, but that doesn't mean they are new to the pork business. The company actually began more than a decade ago supplying pork to various restaurants, and now they have finally ventured into the service business too! Oh and to answer a burning question that I'm sure is at the tip of your tongue right now - SanBanTo actually means 3 Block Heads when directly translated from Mandarin. Don't ask me why they called themselves that, but that's what the chinese words mean. =D

The deli section where you can buy all sorts of parts of a pig!
Note some of the examples on the blackboard above.


Food
We have actually been to SanBanTo a couple of times before these pictures were taken, but unfortunately we didn't take any photos back then. But rest assured this place is worth coming back to, because We obviously do! On our most recent trip there, we tried out something new, and also went for something familiar.


Awesum Mash Potato with lots of Mushroom and Onions!

Beginning with one of our staples at SanBanTo, which is the Mashed Potatoes! For the average diner, it's quite rare to order SEPARATE servings of mash potato because there will usually be a little bit of mash or fries on the side of main courses. It's not to say that SanBanTo's mains don't have sides. It's because their mash is SO GOOD, that the first time we ever sunk our teeth into their mash potato, we just knew we had to have more of it. And since then we have always ordered an extra bowl of mash potato only. It only happens at SanBanTo. Trust me when I say it is THAT good.


Spaghetti Carbonara, SanBanTo style!

Next up we have the spaghetti carbonara. There are not that many choices of pasta at SanBanTo, but I personally *adore* anything to do with creamy sauce or cheese, so carbonara suits me just fine. The really unique thing about this particular carbonara that got us hooked is the distinct porky flavour of the cream sauce. Whilst normal carbonaras will have more cheese and cream taste, this one actually has the flavour of pork and bacon cooked into the sauce itself, giving it a much more distinct taste. It definitely lives up to the reputation of SanBanTo, which is meant to be a true pork-lover's dream!

Last but not least, we come to the last dish of the night, name the BBQ Pork Ribs! Actually I think the proper name is Rib..since there is only one. If you frequent pork restaurants often, you'll notice that there are always 2 common things on the menu - Pork Ribs, and Pork Knuckles. The first time we were in SanBanTo, we gave the knuckle a try and it was really good. Since then we had never found the chance to try the rib, but finally this time we did.


From the picture you can see one nice and plump pork rib, together with another helping of their amazing mash potato, some veggies, and some sauce on the side. As I'm sure you've noticed already, the sauce is drawn in the shape of a pig! I don't think they will bother drawing one every time someone orders to pork rib - the chef probably does it when he has a bit more free time, like in the case of that night when we were there. Doing a quick comparison with the picture provided on their website, even the sample pic there doesn't have the sauce drawn in a little piggy shape. So I guess we were quite fortunate. Certainly it earned 10/10 for presentation. =P

As for the meat itself, we thought it was generally a bit on the fatty side. From the pic it's possible to see a shiny layer resting closest to the mash, and all that is fat. So yes, if you are the type of person who doesn't like any fat on his meat, then this may not be for you. On the other hand, the meat was cooked till it was so tender that it just  fell off the bone! My style of eating ribs is to first cut off the meat from the bone, then tackle the meaty parts before moving to finish off the bone. It's also a good first test for me to see whether the meat has been under/over-cooked. In this case, I am happy to report that the meat just jumped apart from the bone like it had been pre-cut - that's how tender it was. =D

The meat that has been separated from the bone!

As for the taste, our opinion is it was a bit on the sweetish side. Put that together with above-average fatty pork, and you're in for a slightly rough ride if you don't like it from the get-go. Wendy gave up towards the end because of the sweetness and fat, so I was left to mop up the last bits. I still say it's worth a try though, just maybe don't attempt it alone. Always suggest to share the food here, so you can get a little taste of everything. =)

So that's just a small glimpse of SanBanTo. Remember to Like this post if you have been and like the food too ok? =D


Rating : Regular Joint - Definitely Back Again!



Thursday, January 13, 2011

Food: Sushi Tei @ Tropicana City Mall

This blog probably wouldn't be complete if we didn't write about our most frequented Japanese restaurant at least once. So, let's make way for a whole post devoted to... Sushi Tei. :)

Back when Tropicana City Mall was new (you'd be able to walk right up to the GSC counters and get good seats immediately on a weekend afternoon!), Adam and I innocently stumbled upon Sushi Tei one night - this was probably when we first started dating, I reckon? Anyway, the place was peaceful, the setting spacious, the service was rapid and most of all, the food was goooood. Good Japanese food without bending your credit card over too much is hard to come by these days.

That was then.

Now, Tropicana City Mall is a-buzzing even during weeknights with PJ residents, and Sushi Tei is no exception. I must commend them, however, despite the increase in crowd - we even have to queue sometimes - they still manage to serve up quickly, and serve up with quality, which is why we keep on going back.

(Although, with the latest branch opening in the Gardens Mall, they've revamped their menu and now most of the dishes cost RM 0.50 - RM 1.00 more >:( )

We tend to over-order quite a lot whenever we're at Sushi Tei because between the both of us, there are a lot of must-haves and just as many favourites we have off their menu.


My must-have everytime we hit a Jap restaurant.

First up, my absolute I-cannot-do-without - Salmon Sashimi. Five pieces of fresh salmon in acceptable thickness, served cold with a slice of lemon at RM 10.80. Over New Years' Eve, I was at the Sushi Tei branch at Pavillion KL and their sashimi was sliced with the grain instead of against the grain -- all wrong! :( The Tropicana City branch, however, never gets it wrong. Each bite, dunked in shoyu & wasabi, is like heaven in your mouth.



Tan Tan Ramen - our newfound love.

For some warm noodle soup, we usually go for the Nabeyaki Udon, but that night decided to go for something different. I randomly selected this Tan Tan Ramen (RM 15.00) and I daresay it overtakes the Nabeyaki Udon. The ramen noodles were cooked just nice, slightly springy to the bite. The soup was miso based and a tad sweet which I liked, and had bits of mince chicken to top it all off. Maybe just slightly overpriced for the amount of mince chicken that they provide, but there's also a Seafood version you can opt for which costs a little bit more.



Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab - Adam's vice.

I never had a taste of soft shell crab until Adam came along, and I'm now a soft shell crab convert. At RM 15.80, you get two crabs, deep fried to perfection - crispy on the outside, but the crab meat is still juicy on the inside. Much better than what you get at places like Pasta Zanmai. Adam doesn't take much of the sauce that accompanies it, but I love the taste of the fresh crab against the tangy soy sauce & lime concoction they make.


Tender beef steak cooked with teriyaki sauce.

Another one of our usuals, the Teriyaki Steak (RM 16.80) is always tender and succulent, and tastes well-marinated in advance with teriyaki sauce. That, and the fact that it is always served with a generous dousing of sauce makes it a perfect meat dish to go with Garlic Fried Rice, or even just plain rice. It was done medium on the night we were there, so if you're the type who only fancies your fish raw and not your beef, you might want to specify your tolerance level to the waiter.



Thick slices of unagi sitting prettily atop a sushi roll.

You can barely see any rice.

I've never seen places so generous with such thick pieces of unagi on their rolls. The Special Unagi Roll (RM 23.80) boasts of a huge piece of unagi, and beneath that, sushi rolled with cucumber & omelette in it. The unagi that night was a bit too bony for my liking, but the other time I've had it, the unagi was fresh and sweet, and glazed with a layer of sauce. Nothing like sinking your teeth through a thick piece of unagi. Adam doesn't eat much unagi, only a piece or two, so it's definitely a bit too much for me on my own. Order it to share.


Big piece of salmon topped with mentai

The Salmon Mentaiyaki (RM 16.80) is another must-try at Sushi Tei (or rather, anything to do with Mentai). Salmon Mentaiyaki is cooked salmon, topped with a generous layer of cod roe, and what tastes like mayo as well. The cod roe is super creamy and goes well against the salmon. You can't have too much of it though, it tends to get a little jelak after awhile. Eat while hot as it's not as good when it cools down. This dish is sinful maximum! Sushi Tei also does this cod roe topping on salmon sushi & the inari sushi as well. Definitely worth a try if you've never tasted it before.



The many colours of the Dai Dai Roll
Our favourite roll at Sushi Tei

I know I've used the word favourite a lot, and I don't profess to using it loosely, but the Dai Dai Roll (RM 13.80) is really something else. Fresh mango, wrapped in sushi rice & seaweed and then rolled once again in thin slices of salmon sashimi; it's topped off with dripping mayonnaise & wasabi mayonnaise and a dash of roe to complete. It's a gastronomic explosion of flavours - first you taste the fruity sweetness tangled with the rice, then the texture of the salmon and next the wasabi mayo kicks in. Ooh. You'll be going back for your seconds. I obviously like this because I take wasabi with my sushi, but Adam who doesn't, also likes this, so that might be a helpful tip.

All in all, every meal here is usually a satisfying one. Along the way we've of course had some hits and misses, but definitely more hits than not (Let me quickly say to steer clear of some chicky roll and baked tuna roll thingy, or something along those lines -- boy, we never had those again). Definitely way better than your run of the mill Sakae Sushis or Sushi Grooves, I daresay even Sushi Zanmai. Crowd is usually okay on weeknights, but I wouldn't be too sure about weekends. Reservations are possible, and there are even private rooms that you can book.

Stamp of approval! :)

*

Sushi Tei
Tropicana City Mall
Lot G-16, Ground Floor,
Jalan SS20/27,
Petaling Jaya 47400 Malaysia
Tel: +603 7728 9299
Fax: +603 7728 4299



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Music: Taylor Swift - Speak Now (Album)


Taylor Swift - Speak Now

Release Date: 25 October 2010

Track Listing:
1. "Mine" 3:51
2. "Sparks Fly" 4:22
3. "Back to December" 4:54
4. "Speak Now" 4:02
5. "Dear John" 6:44
6. "Mean" 3:56
7. "The Story of Us" 4:26
8. "Never Grow Up" 4:50
9. "Enchanted" 5:51
10. "Better Than Revenge" 3:38
11. "Innocent" 5:02
12. "Haunted" 4:02
13. "Last Kiss" 6:07
14. "Long Live" 5:17

In my books, you're not really a true artist unless you can carry a live performance. Taylor Swift's live singing always did leave much to be desired for, but what she lacks in vocal control prowess she more than makes up for in songwriting. In my opinion, she's a smart composer, cleverly weaving together tangible stories with lilting melodies in her tapestry of song. It works.

Speak Now is her third album to hit the charts, with 14 tracks, all of which were composed by her. And as at 4 January 2011, Speak Now is number one album of the Billboard 200. Each song is a story - of love, of heartbreak, of regret, of optimism. 

She doesn't use big words, but her storytelling is effective in her lyrics. In Dear John, the supposed ode to her nasty breakup with John Mayer, she knifes, "You are an expert at sorry and keeping lines blurry / Never impressed by me acing your tests / All the girls that you've run dry have tired, lifeless eyes / 'Cause you've burn them out". Or "The way you move is like a full-on rainstorm / And I'm a house of cards / You're the kind of reckless that should send me running / But I kinda know that I won't get far" in Sparks Fly.

And my personal favourite from Better Than Revenge "She's not a saint, and she's not what you think / She's an actress, whoa / She's better known for the things that she does / On the mattress, whoa". Heh.

The melodies are catchy, some instantly catching on like Back to December, Mine & Mean whilst others like the quirky title track Speak Now took awhile to catch on. She makes the move away from country and experiments with slightly rockier, heavier noises, and a lot more sass in this album.

You might also just want to listen for the hoo-haa surrounding some of the subjects of her songs - there's the abovementioned Dear John, Back to December which is apparently about Taylor Lautner, and Innocent about the whole Kanye West VMA I-snatch-your-mic incident.

Stand-out tracks include: Sparks Fly, Long Live, Haunted, Back to December

Listen if you believe in happy endings and fairy-tales. It's one of those feel good albums.




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