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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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Food: House of Fishball @ PJ Old Town

One of the most recent bummers for me was that just before the long three-day Merdeka-Raya public holidays, I fell sick and fell down. Nursing a strained ankle, fever and tonsillitis wasn't much fun at all and there was very limited things that I could eat.



One of my few meals in that week was at the House of Fishball in PJ Old Town with Adam and his mum, one of their usual joints in PJ Old Town before church.

Naturally I didn't feel like eating at all, but Adam persuaded me to a snack just to fill my stomach up and I think he chose just the right dish.



The fishballs at House of Fishball (well, I suppose with a name like that, you'd have to serve freaking awesome fishballs :p) were exceptional; soft and bouncy, and served with clear, warm soothing broth for the stomach and throat.





Adam and his mum had a bowl of noodles each from the selection of House of Fishball - there was quite an array of noodles containing various forms of fishballs, even fish noodles and celery noodles! I didn't try any noodles, but I did try a little of the fish cake which was equally as good as the fishballs. The thick flesh was firmer than the fishballs, but still very springy despite its thinly fried exterior.

Tempted to try some Ice Floss!

The small area where the Ice Floss comes to life.
House of Fishball also serves that -25C Ice Floss that I see in a couple of places now, including the food court at The Gardens Mall. Thinking it might be a good thing to soothe the throat with something cold, we ordered one as well.


We ordered the Peach Miracle, and quickly dug it soon after it arrived. The flavoured ice is shaved so finely that it really does look like floss, and it melts almost as soon as it reaches your mouth. I loved the small white pearl-like balls on the side because they exploded with some syrup as soon as you bite into them! Quite a refreshing treat that melts quickly, so eat it fast!

The surroundings on a peaceful Tuesday night.
The place was rather quiet, and service fast - seems to be a good place for a quick, simple and affordable meal, especially if you're into clear soup noodles and more importantly, fishballs!



House of Fishball
No. 35, Jln 1/2,
46000 PJ Old Town,
Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Opening Hours: Daily, 8am-11:30pm

Friday, October 28, 2011

Food: Andes BYO @ Aman Suria


I don't think Andes needs an introduction. By now Aman Suria should be famous for these 2 outlets - Betty's Midwest Kitchen, and Andes BYO! It's taken us awhile to have our first time at Andes though even after hearing so much about it (we're slow food bloggers like that =P), but we finally made it! Special thanks to e2wen and Mich for recommending this place much earlier to us. Don't stop giving us suggestions ok! =)


Although Andes and Betty's are in different blocks altogether, but along nearly the same row of shoplots, I should think the size of the places are roughly the same. The interior of both restaurants are very different though, but Andes also has that homely feeling. In fact it felt so homely I really felt the drinks kitchen was my own kitchen at home. =P


Andes doesn't have many tables for large groups, but they do have this interesting long table with benches! It's a unique spot because it's the only table on a slightly raised platform. When we were there we saw a group of 10 friends huddled around the table. It looked slightly uncomfortable (especially if some guys are big size =p), so perhaps going to Andes is best in slightly smaller groups.


Everyone talks about Andes for their pork burgers, but we decided to start off our meal with some Pork Satay (RM 12.90)! Not since Melaka have we found anywhere else that sells pork satay, so even though the price seemed a bit steep we ordered it to try.

It turned out to be a good decision because it was tasty! Each stick had nice big chunks of flavourful meat on it without much fat. The meat, although tough in parts, had been well marinated. With 10 sticks in all, it was enough for both of us to share. The mild peanut sauce I suspect is homemade, and I gave it a miss because I didn't think it went very well with the satay. But that's okay because the pork satay tastes just fine on its own. =)

The Australian Bacon Burger Wrap
The satay is good, but of course everyone knows Andes is famous for the pork burgers! Wendy went for that, while I went for the Australian Bacon Burger Wrap (RM 16.90)

Besides the obvious strip of bacon on top of the Australian Beef Bacon Wrap burger, the beef patty is also stuffed with cheese that oozes out while working through the patty. Be warned though: the cheese can harden quickly. When that happens it becomes less fun to eat, so try to eat the burger quick! The beef and cheese surprisingly wasn't that impressive a combination. I would give this a miss next time we're there.

Other than that, the burgers actually look very similar. If you don't believe me, take a look at the next one.

Pork Burger!
That's the Pork Burger (RM 13.90). Can hardly tell the difference right? 



The simple yet humongous pork patty tasted good and hearty with the cheese and Wendy enjoyed it. There wasn't as much cheese in this patty compared to the beef, which meant you could enjoy the meat without having it overpowered.

Both patties do look really thick in pictures, which is also true in real life. Unfortunately just because a patty is thick doesn't mean it's the best. A few years or even months ago this might have been considered the best pork patty in town, but nowadays there are so many pork outlets sprouting everywhere it's impossible not to compare. 



Because I have been spoilt by other pork burgers in recent months, on a scale of 1 to 5 I have to score this a 3 out of 5. An extra 0.5 is given because the price is really cheap relative to other pork burgers out there, but then quality is compromised slightly.

Our drinks - watermelon (RM 5.90) and ice lemon tea (RM 3.50).
All in all, Andes isn't a bad place for a simple meal. At about RM20 per person (without the satay sticks), this is filed under one of the cheap & tasty places for dinner on weeknights. Many other writers have recommended Andes, and now we're jumping on the bandwagon to tell you all to give Andes a try, at least once. =)



Andes BYO | Facebook
K-G-11, Jalan PJU1/43
Aman Suria,
47301 Petaling Jaya,
Malaysia
Tel: +6 03 7804 3732
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10pm; Weekends, 6pm-10pm



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Travel: Macau/HK Day #2 (cont.) - Taking the CotaiJet, Wan Chai Apartment

After stuffing ourselves silly with glorious, hot egg tarts in the morning, we went back to Best Western Taipa Hotel to check out and start making our way over to Hong Kong!

Ferry seems to be the preferred mode of transport for locals and tourists alike to get from Macau to Hong Kong and vice versa, judging by the frequency of these ferries. It's definitely cheaper compared to flying, and if you add up immigration and baggage time to the actual time of the flight, I daresay the ferry's heaps faster too! :D

Best Western provides shuttle service to the two terminals in Macau - the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal (more commonly known as the Taipa Temporary Ferry Terminal) located in Taipa and the Macau Outer Harbour Terminal located in the Peninsula. The hotel shuttle service leaves every hour on the hour in the day, and not as frequent in the evenings.



A bit of caution is necessary whilst taking ferries, because both Macau terminals operate to different stops in Hong Kong respectively. So, take time to research on which ferry terminal you would like to stop at in Hong Kong because there are different locations i.e. to stop on Hong Kong Island itself (the one in purple in the map above), or on the Kowloon side (yellow).

The ferry awaiting its passengers at the docks.
For us, our Hong Kong accommodation was in Wan Chai, which is in Hong Kong Island so we took the CotaiJet ferry from the Taipa Terminal, which would stop us at the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal at the Shun Tak Commercial Centre in Sheung Wan. From there, the Sheung Wan MTR station is just a few escalator rides down. Really convenient :)

The roomy and comfy CotaiJet interior!
I actually quite enjoyed the ferry ride (costing us MOP 153) - it's very spacious and the seats are pretty plush, making it a far more enjoyable ride than AirAsia (no offense :p)! However, the ride can get a bit choppy, so if you're prone to getting seasick, stock up on those travel sickness pills and maybe try to get some shut-eye on the hour-long ride.

We'd also read on Travel Wiki on how there might be charges for baggage check-in, but we didn't encounter anything like that. The ferry wasn't full (probably due to a CotaiJet ferry leaving every half hour) and it has ample baggage areas as well as overhead compartments like a plane so there was no need for baggage check in of any sort for us. :)

An hour later, we reached Hong Kong, excited and ready for the next part of our adventure! The initial plan was to alight at the terminal and catch a train and walk to the apartment we booked, but there was too much baggage in between the five of us and so we decided to just take a cab from the terminal to our apartment on Wan Chai Road.

Busy midday roads in Hong Kong Island and the cool trams!
Most, if not all cabs in Hong Kong take 5 passengers excluding the driver, but we thought we'd have to take two cabs, no thanks to all the bags we had with us (my bag in particular was very big and heavy :p *shy*). 
To our surprise, the first driver we flagged down agreed to take us all! It was quite a funny sight because the boot wouldn't shut so it was tied down, with one in the front and four of us in the back with all our hand carries on our laps. It's a miracle the cab could move! Definitely a memory for keeps, that one :)

A cramped joyride later, we finally made it to Wan Chai Road, taking about 15-20 minutes in the midday traffic. Finding the apartment was really easy, the cab driver took the address from us and needed no additional directions.



Now, you must be wondering, what apartment?

The exterior of our apartment block, looks old outside, but our unit was awesomely cozy on the inside.
Well, a little after we booked our flights to Macau on quite a whim in the middle of AirAsia's zero fare madness, we spent a lot of time fretting about how much exactly accommodation was going to cost us.

Staying for four nights in the heart of Hong Kong wouldn't have been cheap. In a flash of brilliance by Adam (and his  pal, Google :p) he chanced upon this website run by a friendly American named Bill who lists down short vacation stays all over Hong Kong on his website. Adam even emailed him to ask about the Wan Chai apartment before we booked it, and he promptly replied. (So, thanks Bill! :))

We got a true taste of living in a pigeon-hole. =D
There had been no reviews on this Wan Chai apartment we were interested in, but the pictures of the apartment looked legitimate and clean, albeit being a little small. Adam emailed the owner, Andy, and within the course of a few emails, managed to book the place - costing us only about RM 60-70 per person per night. :)


I grew up watching TVB so I really enjoyed the authentic, old-school charm of our apartment block. The lift had no open/close buttons on the inside! After you get in, the doors will stay open unless you press a floor, or someone else in the building calls for the lift. :p

Each room has enough space for the bed and
not much else!

Just big enough for two, but no blankets!
Although the building exterior looks worn and old, the inside of the unit was very clean and well-lit. A one-time fee of USD50 is charged for professional cleaners to come before the stay, so that keeps everything spick and span!

(P/S - Ample clean towels are provided, but there are NO blankets or quilts! It's definitely advisable to bring your own, or if it's too bulky then buy one in Hong Kong. Trust us - you don't want to endure so many nights of freezing air-con without a blanket!)



Cooking is allowed, but we didn't do any of that during our trip, save for a few bowls of instant noodles at the end of our trip. =D


Although advertised to sleep 6 people, we think 4-5 is the best number for this apartment. That's because each room can only fit 2 people at most, and others will have to sleep outside.The sofa bed is best for 1 person, so anyone else will be on the floor. Not a big deal for those who don't mind roughing it out; just something to be aware of. The best part: free wi-fi! Lots of tweeting / whatsapping / facebooking / googling going on. :D

It worked out great for us; it was a more economical option compared to hotels (which cost quite a bit in Hong Kong) plus, it was nice to be staying together instead of being holed up in individual rooms. Good cheap short term vacation apartment if you're wondering where to stay in Hong Kong during your holiday.

(P/S - This being a private apartment, you won't find it on normal hotel or travel websites. This is actually listed on Craigslist before Bill linked it in his website. If you would like to get in touch with the owner directly, drop us an email and we'll pass you his contact details.

After loitering around the apartment and catching our breath going through the afternoon's itinerary, it was time to begin the great HK adventure! But that's a story for another day... :)

*

CotaiJet | Site


Visiting Hong Kong Website | Site
Great list of short term vacation apartments

Monday, October 24, 2011

Food: Village Roast Duck @ Bangsar Village


Bangsar is famed for housing many well-established eateries from different cultures, but it's slightly ironic that there hasn't been a good Chinese restaurant in the area. There is Reunion in Bangsar Village 2, but apart from that choices of Chinese food are few and far between. That has changed a little bit now with Village Roast Duck in Bangsar Village 1!


We usually pass by poor BV1 in favour of the larger and newer BV2. But mother had been going on and on about how good the duck was at this place that we finally came to try it one Sunday evening. The shop-lot isn't very big or spacious so there aren't many tables. Expect a bit of waiting time if you come during peak hours without reservations.


Space is precious in Village Roast Duck, but they still manage to afford a few partitions to create a slightly more private ambiance for large groups.


Our meal started with complimentary watercress soup that was served while waiting for all the dishes to arrive. A simple yet very special and nice gesture that kept our tummies warm while we waited for more food. =)


Being a fan of beancurd, we had the House Special 'Pei Pa' Bean Curd. The beancurd was soft and silky, and the gravy packed a mean, fiery punch (play spot the chillies in the picture above)! Went great with rice. 


Coming up next, was the Stir Fried String Bean with Minced Pork (RM 18.80). Juicy string beans, fried well with a good amount of 'wok hei'. Not too spicy, so this was a crowd-pleaser all round the table of 4. =D


To finish up the vegetables before I move on to 'meatier' matters; Village Roast Duck also serves some claypot brinjals. Brinjals are undoubtedly one of Wendy's favourite vegetables so if there's one that looks good we usually have it it! I found this Braised Aubergine with Minced Pork in Hot Pot (RM 16.80)  just okay though because the brinjals were a bit too soft and the sauce was a bit too sweet. Nothing to really complain about this, but I can't rave about it either. You can get better versions elsewhere.


On to the meat! To balance out all the duck we were having, we had the Peking Spare Ribs (RM 22.80) too. These were quite good; Wendy detected some fruity hints in the rib glaze so it was on the sweet side as expected. The meat wasn't chosen very well though; some had lots of meat while other pieces were mostly bone. Overall, another okay dish to have.


And of course, their Special Boneless Roast Duck (RM 34 for half a duck)! Prices of duck at Village Roast Duck aren't cheap by any standards, which is understandable considering the location. Is it worth it? I think it's definitely worth a try! The meat is tender, and the skin is undeniably, unhealthily good. There's a lot of sauce in the picture and yes, that's how it is in real life too. Definitely good for those who like lots of sauce with their duck rice! Finally, good quality duck that can be found in a nice restaurant instead of from the back of a van. =D


Oh, we also had a a dish of Fried Rice, but this was hardly remarkable. A shame really, considering the high price it cost, it certainly wasn't justified with the morsels of seafood inside. If ever you visit this restaurant, give this a miss and just go for white rice. Save $$ and have a better time mixing white rice with lots of duck sauce. =D


But that was not the end! Halfway through dinner we decided we still had space for more food, so we settled on some Crispy Aromatic Duck with Pancakes (RM 18.80)! Although this is common back in London, over here it somehow hasn't caught on very well. For those who are unfamiliar, crispy aromatic duck consists of duck meat that is stripped off the bone.....


.....spring onions and cucumbers that are also cut up into strips.......



.....and a flat pancake to roll everything in! There is also sweet sauce provided to spread on the pancake, an absolute necessity for this dish. Spread the sauce on the pancake like butter on bread, allocate your personal ratio of duck:cucumber:spring onion (my percentage is 75:25:0.. =P), roll it up like popiah and pop into mouth! A delightful and filling dish that is usually had before the main meal, but we did things a bit differently this time. =P


So that concludes our maiden trip to Village Roast Duck. We didn't come away awe-struck by the food, but it did well enough for us to consider a second visit, especially with other interesting-looking dishes too. =)




*

Village Roast Duck
Lot F8, 1st Floor,
Bangsar Village Shopping Centre,
No. 1, Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru,
59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +6 03 2287 4128
Opening Hours: Daily, 11am-10pm

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Food: Ben's @ KLCC

Adam: "It's not often that Wendy comes down to KL to have lunch with me. It usually happens about 3 times a year - when Selangor has a holiday and FT doesn't! To compensate for the unfairness of it all, she'll come over and meet me during lunch break on those days. =D"

Yes, because I'm such a doting girlfriend. No, but really, I do quite enjoy the times where I get to have lunch with Adam because I get to prowl KLCC after that :p

Anyway, on the most recent public holiday for Selangor-not-for-KL, I made my way to meet Adam for lunch, When this happens, we'll usually try to go to a place that isn't found in our usual spots. So, Ben's it was.


As we soon learnt, Ben's is actually a pretty popular place for the working crowd to have lunch. We spotted at least three departmental lunches (or so I'm assuming because there were 10 or more people at the table) and many casual lunches between smartly dressed colleagues.

(I was beginning to feel out of place in my cardi and shorts; thankfully there was also another table of girls in secondary school uniforms there. Which brings me ask, how come they can afford Ben's! I'm a young working adult who still feels the pain in the wallet when I eat at Ben's! Lucky kids :S But, before I go off-tangent...)



I was impressed at how large it actually was inside and really liked the high windows that allowed natural sunlight in. These people at BIG (management of Plan b, Ben's General Food Store, Canoodling, etc) certainly know how to make full use of their space without having it seem very cramped. Still cramped, but not extremely, over-the-top cramped.


Despite the crowd, I have to appreciate their efficiency. We were quickly ushered to our seats and given a menu each to peruse. They do quite a wide selection of pastas, and a slightly smaller mains menu, but good enough to satisfy the majority of cravings.

Fun table cards to get the conversation flowing.


Being the nacho lovers we are, we ordered the Nacho Libre (RM 14.90) - a messy, sticky but oh-so-satisfying concoction of sour cream, avocado mash, jalapenos and  melting cheese over a bed of nachos. This was one of the best nachos I've tasted of late; most open a bag of Chachos and sprinkle a tiny bit of cheese on top and call it done. Ben's version was anything but! I especially liked the avocado which had a bit of lime juice in it to even out the rich, earthy avocado taste.


I went for the Crispy Duck Confit Spaghettini (RM 22.90). I don't usually go for pastas that have little sauce but that day, I decided try something new. And I was promptly rewarded! /pats self on back


The pasta was lightly tossed in olive oil and served with strips of tender and tasty duck, crispy in all the right places. I loved the rocket and the whole sundried tomatoes in this dish too, it gave it that extra dimension of fresh green flavour, and sweet tangy taste respectively.


Adam had the Beef Lasagne (RM 18.90), hearty minced beef bolognaise sandwiched in between layers of pasta and cheese.


It looked huge when it arrived and I think even Adam had a bit of trouble with it, slowing down towards the end. There was lots of well-flavoured minced beef mixed with some chopped carrots and onions, making it satisfying, and lots of cheese on top and within, making it a plate of sin (for the thighs, that is).


After we left, the lunch crowd had also somewhat thinned, and I managed to take a better look around. Ben's also houses several lounge-like areas like this, looks like a nice spot to have a cakes and coffee. None for us as we were far too stuffed! :)


Ben's was a great and satisfying lunch of good quality and efficient service. It's a bit hefty on the wallet for an everyday meal for me, but it will appeal to the same target crowd that adores Delicious so much. Hope they open one nearer to us soon!


Ben's | Site (opposite Harrods)
Lot 140, 1st Floor,
Suria KLCC
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur. 
Tel: +6 03 2163 1655
Opening Hours: 10am-11pm


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