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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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Food: The Courtyard Garden @ Damansara Heights


Back when I first started working, my office was the Public Bank branch in Bukit Damansara. It was an ill-fated job that didn't last very long, but in those few short-lived months I had friends come and visit for lunch. One such occasion was when Robyn suggested we have lunch together with Mel and Kenneth at Courtyard Garden, around 5 minutes drive from work back then.



That was about 2 years ago. I had a good experience there, so I always wanted to take Wendy there too. Unfortunately it never happened until recently when I saw a MyDeal offer for this restaurant which I promptly bought, but didn't use until nearly the last week of its offer period, which was many months later (typical us!). 




Courtyard Garden may not look very big from the outside, but inside it immediately becomes clear there's more than meets the eye. There aren't many tables inside with air-conditioning, but there are a lot of tables outside to enjoy the cool breeze and quiet atmosphere. There's even a large sofa area like in the picture above; perfect for a chill-out session with the old gang of friends. 



For this deal we had 2 options for starters and main course, so obviously we took one of each to give everything a try. First option for starters was a Caesar Salad with Smoked Salmon. I don't like to eat my vegetables, but I make exception for a good caesar salad. Unfortunately this wasn't a salad that I would make another exception for; it was far too salty, the smoked salmon didn't taste particularly fresh and the lettuce felt old and tough. We weren't left feeling very impressed.




The other choice of starter was the Deep Fried Buffalo Mozzarella which was served with some tomato salsa and greens. While the Caesar Salad was unspectacular, this Buffalo Mozzarella went a long way in making up for it! If you're a cheese lover like me, you'll definitely appreciate these 2 triangular pieces of fried mozzarella cheese. It was one of those dishes that when finished, left me feeling like more.. =)



For our main course we also had 2 choices, so again we took both. This here is the Chicken Roulade, which was oven roasted chicken leg rolled with turkey ham (and I think I tasted some apricot or some fruit or another in the stuffing as well) and accompanied with butter green asparagus and garlic mousseline on some tumeric ginger sauce. Overall, I found this to be quite unique, but not suited to my taste buds. Partly because of the sauce which was reminiscent of curries, thanks to the tumeric ginger; interesting and nice yet strange at the same time. Partly also because I'm not a fan of "stuffed" food or the attempt at combining 2 meats in 1 (and the apricot!). This may not have been my cup of tea, but I do think it will be more agreeable with someone else. Wendy did think it was rather nice. But then again, this was heavenly compared to the other main course...



...the Rare Seared Tuna Collar which was blackened quick seared tuna collar with apple balsamic glaze on a bed of mushroom risotto and mesclun salad. We had an experience like never before with this tuna, and it was not a good one!




Since this got put in front of Wendy, she started on this dish first. But the moment she took the first bite of the fish, she complained of her mouth getting itchy. Curious, I decided to take over and try some. The effect wasn't so instantaneous with me, but I did feel what she was describing. Wendy had a bit more before passing the plate over to me, so she described the itchiness in stronger detail and also started feeling a bit of numbness. Realizing this to be quite strange, I googled about itchiness when eating tuna, and boy were we shocked to discover that it happens when the fish has eaten something poisonous! Obviously we had no more appetite for the fish after that, and we duly pushed it to one side. The creepiest encounter we've ever had in all our food journeys so far!




At this point dinner was turning out to be a rather sad affair. There was only one choice for dessert - the Kataifi Chocolate Avocado Mango; crispy kataifi filo (very much like those you get at some dim sum restaurants) with dark chocolate, fresh avocado and mango, topped with vanilla ice cream. Thankfully, dessert turned out to be very tame compared to the tuna experience. The kataifi filo was indeed very crispy, and the deep-fried batter housing fresh mango and creamy avocado was a good combination with the ice cream on top. But while Wendy liked this quite a bit, I wasn't as won over. Possibly because of the sight of avocado which I promptly dug out.. =P 


Drinks for the night - Ice Lemon Tea

So the long-awaited moment of taking Wendy to eat at Courtyard Garden fell kind of flat in the end. Neither of us were particularly satisfied with the meal, and we were left to bemoan the wasted calories we had spent on this dinner. We even contemplated heading for some Ah Wah Chicken Wings down town! The tuna collar was by far the biggest damper of the whole dinner, and I truly hope it was a one-off affair. If you have had a different experience, do let us know!




Courtyard Garden Restaurant | Site
No. 10, Lorong Dungun,
Damansara Heights,
50490 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 2093 9331 / 2093 3986
Opening Hours : Mon-Fri, 12pm-3pm & 5pm-12am; Sat, 5pm-12am; closed on Sundays


Monday, August 29, 2011

Food: Vintry @ Bukit Damansara

It was that yearly dilemma all over again. The girlfriend's birthday. Every year boyfriends are faced with the difficult task of outdoing last year's celebration, which is quite hard considering the previous year is usually deemed "perfect". Just like a football player, in the first match no one knows what to expect, in the second people wonder if he can replicate his performance in the first, and by the third people start to expect the same level of performance as in the first and second!


This being the 3rd year we celebrated Wendy's birthday as a couple (time does fly doesn't it?), the expectation was high to plan a wonderful evening. Girls will always say it doesn't matter but Guys, we know better don't we! =P 


Truth be told I really had no idea where to take her. Initially I was thinking of Japanese, but I was still recovering from food poisoning so wasn't too keen on raw food. Then I remembered Vintry, and the dilemma was solved! I made reservations while waiting in the car (which turned out to be not really necessary) for her to get ready, and not long after we were off to Bukit Damansara for a nice quiet evening.


When we reached the area we got a bit confused. We walked in the first restaurant thinking it was the right one, but later found out it was Ribs by Vintry and they didn't have my reservation. Instead we were sent to Vintry a few doors down. A tad confusing for first-timers, but staff are friendly and ready to help. =)

Wendy: That vision in red is Adam photo-bombing my shot -_-

Vintry is known as a wine bar, and it lives up to its reputation by having a wide range of wine from different continents to satisfy any picky customer. We're not wine connoisseurs, so we won't try and act like experts. Food is our main passion, and luckily food from Ribs by Vintry can also be ordered from Vintry, thus ensuring we get the best of both menus. 


For starters we tried this Caramelized Roast Pork (RM 18), which was roast pork wok-fried with soy sauce and sugar, the non-spicy version. It was either this or a simple portion of Roast Pork, which were both chef recommendations on the menu. This looked more interesting so we picked this.

Upon first bite, we were immediately struck by how crunchy the pork was - it really had been fried to a crackly crisp! It was a great feeling, but afterward the saltiness kicks in, and suddenly everything isn't as it seems. The first few pieces were nice, but take a few more and it gets a bit too much. In the end Wendy still could say she enjoyed it, but I felt this would have been nice at a Chinese restaurant with rice. The table next to us had 2 guys, and they didn't even finish the same plate of pork, so go figure. This is tasty but not too much; it might not be for everyone.



For mains, we had the Pan Fried Pork Belly Steak (RM 45) served with mash potatoes, some greens and apple puree. The apple puree is on top of the pork; while the creamy blob you see in the bottom of the picture is mash potato. 


We found this to be a bit too tough for our liking. Since it was a slice of pork belly, we really were expecting the meat to be more tender than how it came out. From the picture it's also clear that the meat was a bit dry. For a piece of pork belly, it certainly deviated quite a bit from our expectations. The apple puree gave a different twist to the overall flavour - it was sweet and creamy and Wendy felt it went well with the meat but I preferred the meat sans any accompaniment. Overall it was nice, but not to-die-for. The other main course was better....


....Which was the BBQ Pork Ribs (RM 52 for a large portion)! It was a simple-sounding item amongst the other more fancy choices in the menu, but sometimes simple can be best! I can't say whether other things in the menu are just as nice, but these ribs were just delightful. There were about 5 ribs in total, and each rib was quite meaty. It was also very tender, more so compared to the pork belly mentioned previously. But it was the barbecue sauce that really completed the whole package! If we found the pork belly to be slightly on the dry side, the same could not be said about the ribs. The sauce blended in perfectly and made everything just nice. =)


So although the belly wasn't a real winner, the ribs knocked the meal out of the ballpark. It's definitely something we will go back for. Just looking at the pictures makes me want to go now! Haha.

Me very happy with finished ribs =p
But of course we couldn't just finish our meal without some dessert! Stuffed as we were, we had to make space for a bit more...


So to round up the night, we had the Chocolate Brownie (RM 14). I'll admit we had some high expectations for this, partly because of where we were and partly because of the price. Unfortunately we thought it was just very average, unable to surpass our number 1 favourite chocolate cake and ice-cream at Delicious. But still, it was a nice end to a romantic evening. =)



It being a special occasion, we even opted to have some wine! The waitress recommended white wine to go with pork, but being beginners we took one red and one white to try out the difference. Those were our 2 glasses of house pouring wine for the night.


And that concludes the 23rd birthday celebration dinner for Wendy! Now I get to sit back and relax for another 11 months until the same date rolls around again next year.. =D




Vintry | Site
No. 120, Jalan Kasah,
Taman Bukit Damansara,
50490 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 2096 1645
Opening Hours: Daily, 12pm till late


Friday, August 26, 2011

Food: San Francisco Steakhouse @ Tropicana City Mall

Update 2/4/2012: Unfortunately, San Francisco Steakhouse is no long open at Tropicana City Mall




San Francisco Steakhouse was one of the earliest places I can remember (after Victoria Station and The Ship) that my family would think about for steak, growing up. Of course, the F&B scene has evolved so much in the past 10 years or so, that now for me, San Francisco is often more associated with coffee instead of steak.

Since Tropicana City Mall opened, there's now a San Francisco Steakhouse closer to home, and when we saw a Mydeal group deal for it, we thought, why not give it a go?

We finally made reservations for a weekday, and made our way there after work. At about 8pm, the place was about two-thirds occupied, which is great news for them.



We started off with the Soup of the Day (RM 7.90). I'm couldn't really figure out what it was, a cross between chicken and mushroom, perhaps? The taste wasn't strong enough, and was neither here nor there, with no bits in the soup either.



The soup came served with french loaf slices and garlic butter. The french loaf slices were warm, but untoasted (which Adam didn't like) and I enjoyed the garlic butter very much; freshly chopped garlic well mixed into in a blob of creamy butter.



I chose the BBQ Apple Beef Ribs (originally RM 49.90 for a half slab) on a bed of fries. These beef ribs were certainly bigger ones as compared to Tony Roma's, but not superior taste-wise. The sauce coating the ribs was nicely sweet, yet no hint of apple. The meat was tender, but surprisingly very fatty for ribs, and toward the end as it cooled down, I soon realized it was just too oily to finish. 



Adam had the Rib Eye Steak (originally RM 51.90). The steak was a little below expectations; it tasted good and being done medium, retained the original tenderness of the meat, but it was also a little too thin and again, contained quite a lot of fat, which didn't leave Adam with much meat. If you ask me, there are certainly better places for steak.






For our dessert, we chose the Coit Tower Cookie Sundae (RM 14.90) which was homemade chocolate chip cookie topped with 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream. The cookie was warm and chewy in the beginning (similar to cookies from Subway, if there are any Subway regulars reading), but hardened towards the end, presumably from all the chill from the ice cream. It because hard to cut through even though I tried to let the ice cream melt into it to soften it up. Adam loved it though, due to the generosity with the ice cream. :p





We weren't entirely pleased with the food as you can tell, but we did see the rest of the crowd dining happily away. Maybe we were ordering the wrong items off of the menu, but for a steakhouse, we do think they need to step it up with the rib-eye. All in all it was a nice visit, although it remains to be seen if we will venture back for another foray there.


San Francisco Steakhouse
Lot G-40, Ground Floor, Tropicana City Mall,
No. 3, Jalan SS20/27,
47400 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor.
Tel: 03-7728 8010
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-10pm


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Food: Nadeje Patisserie Cafe @ Plaza Mahkota, Melaka (Takeaway)


This photo courtesy of tarts-and-pies.blogspot.com!

During the first week of August, I was away in Melaka (I prefer the Malay spelling; so sue me =p) for work. That's why you all had to go through one full week of Wendy's writing and not mine! Unfortunately I couldn't enjoy a whole week of Melaka food because I came down with food poisoning on my second night there! That totally floored me and confined me to a diet of bread and water for the next few days. Thankfully I still had the chance to drop by Nadeje (pronounced nah-jhey, according to the staff) before we made our way home. 



I knew about this place because Wendy had done some searching on crepe cakes and found out that Nadeje apparently does one of the best in Malaysia. Making that kind of statement is no small matter, so she made it my mission to conduct a sample test on their cakes to see if it's really worth all that hype. 



Upon walking through the door, I was immediately greeted by the usual cake display. But this one was only filled with crepe cakes! You'd be forgiven if you had thought you just walked into mille crepe heaven. So far in my limited exposure to mille crepe, I've only seen 2-3 on display at a time, sharing space with other cakes. So to see the wide range like Nadeje had was really cool. It left me in that same kind of amazed state as the time I went to Babycakes Sweet Shoppe for the first time and saw all those macarons..hehe.




In total I think there were about 12 different flavours to choose from. Prices are all about RM9.90 per slice (A review done in 2010 put the price at RM8.50. Guess prices have gone up!). There are also whole cakes on display for about RM70 each. For those who come from outstation and wonder how long the cakes can last, never fear: Nadeje also sells cooler bags for RM5 each that can fit a maximum of 6 slices, or 1 whole cake. The cooler bag is packed with ice and is recommended for about 3-4 hours. A word of caution: Nadeje uses normal ice, so it will start melting after a couple of hours. After a while water will start dripping from the bag, as we learnt the hard way. Therefore don't expect to carry the bag for too long. =P

Of course, since one cooler bag can fit 6 slices, naturally I bought 6!


This slice here is called Double Chocolate. As the name suggests, it has a very strong chocolate flavour. I thought this would be more Wendy's thing, but I ended up liking it more than her. She preferred the Cheese flavour, which is...



...This! It's ironic, because I thought I would like the Cheese and Wendy would prefer the Chocolate, but it turned out the other way around. The cheese used was rich and very smooth, although I found the cheese to be a bit too rich for me, that's why I preferred the chocolate.



Finally, a slice of Mango Yogurt. I chose this one because Wendy likes mango, so I thought no harm giving this a try. This was pleasant; sweet because of the cream, yet a little bit sour because of the mango. It was an interesting combination that tasted a bit like the cheese flavour and yet was still distinctively different. We both liked this too, although I wouldn't put it on par with the Double Chocolate

I mentioned earlier I bought 6 slices, but unfortunately we only managed to snap pictures of these 3! Epic Fail.

The other 3 flavours I bought were Original, Melaka, and...erm...oh crap...forgot. LOL.

Anyway in a nutshell everything we tried from Nadeje really did live up to its reputation, and Wendy is already demanding to know when we're going to make a trip to Melaka for cake! So the next time you decide to make a trip to Melaka to pig out, do spare some space in your tummies for mille crepe from Nadeje! =D


(Oh btw, it's called Melaka flavour because there's Gula Melaka inside..or so I was told. =D)

Nadeje Patisserie Cafe | Facebook
G-23 & 25, Jln PM4,
Plaza Mahkota,
75000 Melaka.
Tel: +6 06 283 8750
Closed on Mondays

Monday, August 22, 2011

Food: Delicious @ Dua Residency, Jalan Tun Razak

Delicious started as a small yet extremely cozy eating spot in 1Utama back in 2004. Back then, we reserved the location for special occasions only because allowances (contrary to its name) didn't allow us to eat there. However, my girlfriends and I discovered the bliss that was the Classic Chocolate Cake and soon we only went there for dessert, because that was lighter on the wallet.

But besides being a stellar gossip location many a laughing fit with the girls, Delicious is also pretty dear to me for other reasons.

Fast forward four years after its inception, in the final year of uni, Adam and I had dinner there on what was to be our first date. We were on a mission, to hunt for a mutual friend's birthday gift (Mel, that's you!) and that mission was high on my priority for the night, but low on his, as I later learnt.


The food was good, the conversation better, and one shared Classic Chocolate Cake later, he insisted on paying. Only then did I realize something was up.


The receipt from that dinner, 29th September 2008. :)

Me: "Eh we haven't bought Mel's present yet lah!" (panicked)
Him: "Aiyah, today is not about the present also. Today have to buy you dinner."
Me: "..." (really confused)
But anyway, I guess as they say it, the rest is history. :)


Delicious at Dua Residency
We've been to other Delicious branches since, but there was just something about this particular branch at Dua Residency that made me feel particularly nostalgic about the first time we had dinner at Delicious.




I reckon it's the lovely ambience, cozy and ideal for a simple yet romantic get-together but also perfect for large gatherings. Delicious branches are usually packed to the brim with people, and buzzing with activity. The branch at Dua Residency had its fair share of people, but because it was so big, I actually felt  comfortable and relaxed despite most of the other tables being filled.



I also loved (Adam would probably rephrase this into "Wendy is also a sucker for...") the charming decor that has become a signature of Delicious, the white branches and rustic bird cages, swathed in warm yellow lighting. To contribute to the ambience, there was also a great live band playing to my surprise, led by a lady with a beautiful jazzy voice.

Basking in the environment.

I was feeling extremely ravenous that night because we only set off to dinner at about 9pm by which my stomach was already protesting violently (Plus we initially wanted Indian food, but Bombay Palace down the road was packed to the max with a queue! At 9ish pm! Note to future selves: Go early to Bombay Palace to avoid disappointment).

Feeling like I could down an entire horse by myself by the time we reached Delicious, and further egged on by the lovely surroundings, I happily ordered lots! :D



I ordered the Iced Peach Tea (RM 9.90), fuelled by nostalgia as it was what Adam ordered on our first date (he couldn't decide between lemon or peach then, so I suggested peach, which led him to telling the waiter that he'd just have to trust me -_-) and Adam went for the Strawberry Milkshake (also RM 9.90). I really liked the Peach Tea, though; the peaches were blended and mixed into the iced tea, making it refreshing yet fruity. The Strawberry Milkshake, on the other hand, was thick and creamy, but much too sweet for my liking and even Adam's.



I wanted something that would come quick to stop my tummy-rumbles, so I went for the Chunky Chips with Thailicious Mayo (RM 9.90). Good snack to start off with, heartily sliced chips served with very special thai chilli mayo dip. Perfect with a little bit of mayo and a little bit of chilli sauce.



Adam really likes the Smoked Salmon Angelhair tossed in Cream, served with Caviar & Parsley (RM 27.90) here and that was exactly what he chose that night, without much hesistation. Creamy and rich, with a generous helping of the smoky, salty salmon to balance things out. I thought Delicious at Dua Residency was particularly generous with the smoked salmon that night and Adam agreed too. There was nicely enough of the salmon to go with the twirls of angel-hair pasta. 



I chose one of my favourites at Delicious as well, the Classic Beef Lasagne (RM 19.90). A large generous piece of layered perfection, alternating between soft lasagna sheets, lots of oozing cheese and tasty minced beef.


This lasagna loses points with Adam the Carnivore because their hearty and robust beef filling is also cooked with finely chopped carrots and onions, but that's all right by me, because I reckon it makes it all the more flavourful and textured. To further balance out the cheesy sin, a small serving of greens is provided.



But besides mains, Delicious has also managed to make quite a name for itself for a wide, yet scrumptious range of delectable desserts and remains one of my go-to places for desserts when I'm craving a cake or two due to it's accessibility.




And like two over years ago, we had to have the pièce de résistance - a Classic Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream (RM 11.90) to share. You might turn up your nose at such a simple sounding name against all the other more fanciful desserts Delicious' menu has to offer, but this is by far my favourite. :)



The combination Delicious puts together here is heavenly - a block of warmed moist chocolate cake swimming in a pool of hot decadent chocolate sauce and topped with a quickly melting scoop of vanilla ice cream in the heat from the cake. The lush cake, the smooth chocolate sauce and the mingling hot and cold flavours. Everything here is good on its own, but great when eaten together. Definitely not one you should attempt alone, because it's more fun shared. :)


Satisfied after the cake.





For obvious reasons, Delicious is a pretty special place to us. However, meals at Delicious don't usually disappoint and as we witness more and more branches mushrooming around Klang Valley and elsewhere as well, it's clear that others feel the same way too. I will say, however, for a better Delicious experience, try out this branch at Dua Residency for the lovely ambience.


Delicious @ Dua Residency | Site
Lot 1.1, Ground Floor, Dua Annexe,
No. 211, Jalan Tun Razak,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 2166 2066
Fax: +6 03 2161 7937
Operating Hours:
Mon-Fri, 11am-12am (no breakfast menu)
Sat, Sun & PH, 8am-12am (breakfast menu available till 12pm)



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