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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Friday, December 30, 2011

Food: Jake's Charbroil Steaks @ Medan Damansara


Having not been able to satisfy our beef cravings on 28 November, we were left with no choice but to be patient for the next weekend to roll around. Again we were left with no idea of where to go though, so in the end we decided to go somewhere that has truly been tried and tested - Jake's Charbroil Steaks!



I sincerely doubt Jake's need any introduction. Anyone who has lived in KL since the 90s would have either been to or heard of Jake's at some point! It has been like the great battle of steaks for the past decade - Victoria Station on one side, and Jake's on the other! Truth be told, back in the day I visited VS more, so this was my first time in Jake's small but cozy outlet (or at least as far as I remember!).



Steak was of course the main order of the day, and what we were there for. But we couldn't go without any starters, so we gave their Beef Nachos a try, and boy were we glad we did! If we thought we had tried good nachos before, these nachos taught us a real lesson!

With melted cheese and salsa literally spilling over the nachos and beef found in every mouthful, these were the most awesome-est nachos we had ever had. Granted it's not the typical type with sour cream or guacamole, but we absolutely Loved this, and actually mopped up the whole plate; not something we do usually with our nachos! 



After feeling extremely satisfied from the nachos (yet sad because there weren't anymore), the steak had high expectations to meet! Jake's is known for having a very good variety of steak on their menu, ranging from the cheapest grain-fed type, to the more expensive Wagyu steaks. With our tight budgets, we both had 200gm of simple grain-fed cow to satisfy our craving - the Australian Grain-Fed Rib Eye (RM 56.90) =)



It's actually quite uncommon for both of us to order the same dish, since we like to order different things to sample. We realized too late that we had actually ordered the same, the only difference being I swapped my veggies for more french fries, making my plate one filled with multiple shades of deep fried yellow...=D



We both had our steaks done medium, as usual. Any fears of the steak preparation not living up to the nachos were immediately put to rest when we cut into the meat - it was prepared to a pinky tone of near-perfection! My piece had a thicker layer of fat compared to Wendy's, but that was just trivial differences compared to the succulent taste and juiciness of the meat. By the end we were full and satisfied, with our greed whispering a soft "More, please?" in our ears.. =D



Wendy thought that since we were on such a good streak with food that night, we should round up the dinner with some dessert. I was hesitant, since I tend not to have desserts at a place that isn't very well known for it. But I thought it might be a risk worth taking after tasting the nachos and steak.

Unfortunately this Nutty Pecan Pie ala Mode (RM 14.90) brought everything hurtling back down to earth. The flavour was unremarkable, and the pie wasn't hot enough to go well with the ice-cream. On top of that the pastry tasted much like it had been microwaved, so that totally lost points for us.

Overall, it was an extremely satisfying meal at Jake's Charbroil Steaks, if not for the wasted dessert at the end. We still can't forget those awesome beef nachos...perhaps we'll make another trip soon just for that!

*

With this good steak recommendation, Drops of Contentment bids 2011 goodbye and wishes all our dear readers a Happy New Year! May the new year bring in lots of new places to chow down at and more satisfied stomachs (but smaller waistlines - hey, we can dream, can't we?) for all!


Jake's Charbroil Steaks | Site
No. 21, Jalan Setiapuspa,
Medan Damansara,
50490 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +6 03 2141 5290
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat, 12pm-3pm & 6pm-11pm; Sun, 6:30pm-10pm


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Food: El Cerdo @ Changkat Bukit Bintang


To round up our 3rd 28 November together, it was tough to think of a fitting place to go. We were actually craving beef because we had been having a lot of pork the past few days. 

A quick Google search didn't really help with appropriate places for beef, since the top in KL seem to comprise of Prime (way out of budget!) and Suzy's Corner (not right for the occasion!). S'mores' all-you-can-eat BBQ buffet was also fully booked, so feeling frustrated, we just decided to drive to Changkat Bukit Bintang and see what we could find. =D

And somehow in the middle of walking the street of Changkat, the quest for beef was forgotten as we made our way into El Cerdo...lol.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think El Cerdo can certainly take the title of Pork Pioneer in KL! Long before many of today's restaurants that specialize in pork opened, there was El Cerdo. I don't think they mind the extra competition though, because business is still as good as ever!


Probably one of the most ingenious dining gimmicks is still a tradition at El Cerdo - the use-blunt-plate-to-chop-tender-suckling-pig-and-then-break-plate-in-big-wooden-bucket! It's definitely one of those things that is perfect for impressing that friend from out of town who has never seen this before, and I think it's worth a try at least once. We had already tried it before though, so it wasn't on our menu that night. =)


Complimentary bread served before the main meal arrives. A very welcome sight for Wendy since she was starving by the time we decided on where to eat.. =D The bread wasn't warm, but the mince pork dip served with it was very nice and went well with the bread. 


We realized all too late that El Cerdo takes its pork very seriously, because there was no chicken or beef in the menu! That didn't stop me from having my favourite sausages though - a platter of 4 mini yet meaty beauties consisting of Farmer, Thuringer, German Pepper & Spicy Lyonner sausages, accompanied with a bed of sauerkraut (RM 24.50). The sausages were each distinct in their own tastes, but each had strong pork flavours. The sauerkraut was excellent; I usually don't fancy sauerkraut, but I ate quite a lot of it too. All I can say is I wish there was some mash potato as well...hehe.


The choice of sausages might have been a toss up, but the pork ribs was a definite choice! Our decision was between the Oven Roasted BBQ Glazed Ribs and the Smoky Whiskey Ribs, but we finally settled on the  Oven Roasted BBQ Glazed Ribs (RM 65) at our friendly waiter's recommendation.

Many new pork places have sprung up in 2011, but these ribs are the perfect example of why El Cerdo still keeps the customers coming back for more; with more than enough to feed 2, even we couldn't finish that plate of ribs. Each piece was tender and very well marinated, although we did feel really overpowered by the glaze towards the end. Thankfully, the stuffed tomatoes were an excellent addition to balance out the strong, flavoursome pork, and this still ranks as some of the best ribs we've had all year. Racks (another pork rib place few doors down) could definitely a lesson here in our honest opinions!


Besides El Cerdo's menu, you can also order items off El Cerdito's menu, which is the little brother of El Cerdo next door which does tapas. To add a bit of variety into the meal, we ordered the Champinones al Ajillo (RM 12) which is a classic Spanish tapa of mushrooms sauteed with garlic and olive oil. These were also very well prepared, the perfect juicy yet tasty side dish to munch with the main meal.. =D


Being a special occasion, I thought it would be nice to try a special drink, that's why we had the Romance d'étranger (RM 18), an interesting concoction of tea and white wine. It turned out to be a very satisfying thirst quenching drink, with just enough white wine to taste, yet not strong enough to do any real damage. A true winner and worthy of its price tag! =)


Before we knew it it was time for dessert, and despite our initial intentions to ward it off because we were so stuffed with ribs, we found it in ourselves to put in just a bit more to round off the night. =D (Wendy: It was the waiter's fault for charmingly recommending this!)

We had the Andreas Special “A Dream in Chocolate” (RM 22.50), which the waiter automatically offered to split into 2 glasses, seeing as I believe they are used to diners sharing desserts. Not something important for us, since we have no problems eating out of the same bowl, but yet another example of why El Cerdo has the experience to provide exemplary service every time. =)

This was also a new dessert for us and one we enjoyed thoroughly. The Andreas Special turned out to be layers of various textures and tastes beginning with cooked pear soaked in musky red wine at the bottom,  creamy vanilla ice cream, followed by bananas in a tart passion fruit sauce. All this was topped with a rich, dense milk chocolate mousse and crunchy chocolate crumble bits. Definitely a marriage of flavours to remember!


Oh and last but not least, the complimentary mouthwash to top off a wonderful dinner, an El Cerdo house special. We may not have satisfied our beef cravings, but we had definitely picked the right place for a perfect dinner for 2, never mind  that the place was packed and noisy with people. We certainly think El Cerdo has what it takes to stick around for a long while more, especially now that it holds some special memories for us. =)




I end with the obligatory camwhore photo. Happy 28 dear! =)))



El Cerdo | Site
No. 45, Changkat Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2145 0511
Fax: +603 2145 1375
Email: werner@elcerdokl.com
Opening Hours: Sun-Fri, lunch & dinner (closed between 3pm - 6:30pm); Sat, dinner only

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Food: A Post Devoted to Popcorn - Planet Popcorn @ Sunway Pyramid & Garrett Popcorn @ KLCC


So if bubble tea has been 'The' thing for 2011, I'm willing to wager that popcorn is going be 'It' for 2012! Gone are the days when all we were exposed to was regular cinema popcorn; today gourmet popcorn stalls  are 'popping' up (sorry I just had to =P) everywhere, leaving us spoilt for choice! The first and only time we've done a comparison post was when ChaTime and GongCha were all the rage. This time we're going to look at the 2 most popular popcorn players right now - Garrett Popcorn and Planet Popcorn!

Pictures taken with Wendy's old dropped-aplenty iPhone 3GS so please bear with the quality
Since Wendy works near Sunway Pyramid, she's pretty up-to-date on all the latest shops that open there. Truth be told Planet Popcorn has existed for awhile now, but it was during our recent popcorn craze that she decided to buy me a few packets to try.. =D


Whilst the Planet Popcorn in Sunway Pyramid occupies a centre stall upstairs near the Maxis Centre, the one in Times Square is on the Lower Ground floor near ChaTime and Nando's. Those are the only two shops so far in KL (according to their Facebook page), so it's not like as if it's gotten a big head start on Garrett even though it opened first.



The biggest difference between Planet and Garrett is the variety of flavours; while Garrett only has 3-4 choices which are quite conventional (coming up next), Planet Popcorn seems to make popcorn out of every flavour possible!  Check out the picture of the menu and you'll know I'm not joking.. =D

Cheese, Chocolate, Wasabi
I wasn't there when Wendy bought the Planet Popcorn, so the flavours were all her choosing. For our "taste test", she chose Caramel (RM 8.90), Chocolate (RM 10.90), Cheese (RM 10.90) and Wasabi (RM 9.90)! Prices for Planet range from around RM8 - RM11, making it cheaper than Garrett by 40-50%.

Big Difference No. 2 between Planet and Garrett is that Planet Popcorn comes in a resealable bag to preserve its freshness. These bags should not be underestimated - we didn't finish the popcorn for more than 2 weeks, and even then it was still good to eat! Since each bag of popcorn is so big, it's really handy for us to keep it for that long since the both of us can't finish so much popcorn at one go.




This is the Caramel...



The Cheese...


The Chocolate...


And this is the Wasabi.

Overall, I found the Caramel to be not very sweet, almost at the same level as cinema popcorn except with a slightly different flavour, less buttery.

The Chocolate and Wasabi definitely lived up to their names, especially the Wasabi! I usually shy away from wasabi, and I totally shied away from this after the first few kernels because of the familiar straight-to-the-nose feeling that comes with eating the green powder. For those looking for a totally new experience with popcorn, I highly recommend this. It's slightly sweet at first taste, and then the kick unassumingly creeps up on you and attacks your nose. Haha.

I didn't fancy the Cheese, but Wendy thought it was okay as a snack. It had a very artificial, Twisties-like flavour to it.

For those looking for a less dramatic adventure, just try the Chocolate. That turned out to be my favourite of the 4. =D

As for the texture of the kernels, Planet Popcorn is pretty consistent. All flavours have a light crisp to them on the outside, and a softer center.


While Planet Popcorn thrives in diversity, Garrett brings us familiar flavours, yet delivers it in a form far from what we are used to!


The first time I laid eyes and hands on Garrett was way back in June 2010 when we visited Universal Studios Singapore. For me, it was love at first kernel! I honestly did not know popcorn could taste so much better. Back then Garrett hadn't opened in Malaysia yet, and I was so enthusiastic about this awesome product that I seriously considered looking to start a franchise. Unfortunately their website said that they didn't entertain franchise requests, so that put a swift end to that dream. =(


Fast forward 6 months later, and Garrett has now opened it's first branch in KLCC! From Day 1 it's been obvious my business instinct about Garrett didn't fail me - there have been queues the length of Chatime  outside the shop since the place opened. Queues are obviously longer during lunch hours, so expect to wait about 10-15 minutes for your turn.

Takes a bit longer than 60, but it's close. =P
Garrett only offers 4 main flavours at different prices, instead of the wide range that Planet has.

 

This is the simple lightly buttered popcorn (RM9 for a small bag). You can also get a bag of plain popcorn for the same price.


And this is what Garrett stakes its name on - The Chicago Mix! A mixture of their CaramelCrisp and  popcorn. The price is RM16 for a small bag, the same price for which you can also get a bag of plain  CaramelCrisp or plain CheeseCorn if you don't like 'em mixed.














If you like nuts, Garrett also has a variation of their popular CaramelCrisp popcorn that comes with either macademias, roasted cashews or almonds.



A small bag of CaramelCrisp with nuts costs RM 19, and the small version of these nutty variations is a lot smaller than the usual "small" that they dish out for all the other normal popcorn flavours at Garrett.



Like I said earlier, while Planet Popcorn comes in resealable bags, Garrett Popcorn is dished out into simple paper bags and double-bagged in a brown bag to take-away. In Singapore the staff will staple the brown bag, but here it's just folded down. No way is it airtight, meaning there's no way this will keep fresh for more than a day.


Taste-wise, Garrett Popcorn is on a different level compared to everyone else. I am personally a big fan of Garrett so I'll try hard not to be bias, but honestly it's a simple fact that the kernels are simply bigger than cinema popcorn or even Planet Popcorn!

The caramel is also very, very sweet, significantly sweeter than regular popcorn. This is one of those love-it-hate-it things, where those like me will love it for the sweetness, while I've also heard many say it's too sweet for their liking. Well there's never right or wrong in personal preference, but it's something worth taking note of. =)


Truth be told, I do find the CaramelCrisp on its own to be a bit overwhelming, especially after a few large handfuls. That's why I think The Chicago Mix is really the best idea Garrett has come up with, because the savoury taste of cheddar cheese popcorn balances perfectly with the sweetness of caramel! Plus, the textures are like day and night - the CaramelCrisp is (like its name says) crispy and the CheeseCorn is soft and nearly melts in your mouth. 

Pop one of each in your mouth and you'll taste the same kind of yin and yang that comes with eating hot brownies with cold ice-cream. Definitely a perfect match! =D



Planet Popcorn is a pretty good contender in our local popcorn scene at the moment, for those who prefer milder flavours. However, for those who like all things extreme and sinful, Garrett will be your only go-to place for some popperific, top-quality popcorn! Now... if only we could have it more often, no thanks to its hefty price!




Planet Popcorn (near Maxis Centre) | Site
F1.100D, 1st Floor
Sunway Pyramid
No. 3 Jalan PJS11/15, Bandar Sunway,
46150 Petaling Jaya
Selangor


Garrett Popcorn | Site
Lot C151, Concourse Floor,
Suria KLCC,
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dessert: Crumbs @ Pavillion, KL

Before we went on our 6D6N adventure in Hong Kong & Macau, I had diligently scoured the internet for all the best places to eat there. In fact, my final recommended food list was so long that it was probably not even humanly possible to visit and eat at all those places... you might need two digestive systems or something. :p

Anyway, one of those places (and to which ZH's friend from Hong Kong, Tiffany agreed too) was Crumbs Frozen Yogurt. According to her, it was pretty good, and one of the popular places for frozen yogurt in Hong Kong, having opened in 2009.


That particular night in Hong Kong, we were feeling so stuffed after two dinners (yes, two!) that I decided to forego giving Crumbs a try. But, as fate would have it, Crumbs opened at our very own Pavillion soon after we returned! :D /thanks food gods

Crumbs is a dessert stand that specializes in frozen yogurt and freshly baked scones; a weird combination if you ask me, but hey, who's complaining?



Unlike Tutti Frutti with nearly every flavour under the sun, Crumbs only has an original yogurt flavour, but it is one you can load with many toppings, ranging from the healthy like fruits, and also the fun ones like gummy bears, marshmallows and even condensed milk!


They are however famous (and this is probably also where their name is derived from) for their House Crumbs topping, which is a crunchy cinnamon cookie crumble. We went for a large cup of original yogurt (RM 12.90), with two toppings of their recommendation, the house crumbs and the green tea mochi. 


I was really impressed with the frozen yogurt and so was Adam. The texture was smooth, dense and extremely creamy. This is not unlike the texture of Moo Cow's frozen yogurt, but what I prefer is that the tartness of flavour in the yogurt is milder at Crumbs. Moo Cow's original flavour is too sour for me in big doses, but still remains Adam's favourite.

What makes things yummier, is that that Crumbs doesn't just top your yogurt serving with a heap of crumbs, they carefully layer your yogurt with layers of crumbs too! This makes it all the more satisfying because then there's cinnamon crumbs to enjoy for throughout the entire height of the yogurt cup :p


A word of caution though, don't believe the guy behind the counter when he recommends the mochi, whether plain or green tea flavoured. These are essentially tasteless and felt like an awfully odd combination with the yogurt and house crumbs. Perhaps we'll try some fruits, or some other biscuit mix with our yogurt next time.


The scones smelt so good as we stood there, so much so that I greedily caved and decided to give them a try (our original plan was to just try the yogurt :S). Unfortunately, despite us cajoling the guy behind the counter, he wouldn't just sell us one scone to try so we had to buy the minimum purchase of 3 pieces - one scone with Raisins, Chocolate and Cheese each for RM 2.90 a piece.

It was one of those days when greed didn't pay off though. 


The Chocolate scone was okay, with bits of melted chocolate in between but yet not sweet enough for our liking.


The Cheese scone, containing bits of Parmesan cheese was also interesting at first bite, but too dry to finish in its entirety.


The Raisins scone was the best out of the three, in my opinion. The insides were slightly moister than the rest, and the plump, sweet raisins were a good addition.

We didn't fancy the scones all that much, maybe because we're too used to having our scones accompanied with some good jam and clotted cream. Maybe that's something Crumbs could take into consideration, selling some jam/cream/butter on the sides?


Scones and mochi aside, however, I really liked Crumbs' yogurt, especially with the house crumbs. I think I'll definitely return for those two whenever we're in Pavillion. :)

Crumbs | Site
P1.11.04, Level 1,
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
No. 168, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 2141 6020
Email: info@crumbs.com.my



Monday, December 19, 2011

Travel: HK Day #4 - Ocean Empire Food Shop 海皇粥店 @ Wan Chai

After a long day at Ngong Ping 360 and shopping at CityGate, we were all starting to wish for a little lie-in the next day. But we didn't have time for that because we had to head to our destination for the day, Ocean Park!


So once again we were up bright and early to make our way over to the Wan Chai MTR for further transit to Ocean Park. Along the way we stopped for our long awaited "ZH Brekkie", our code name for the breakfast that Zhen Han had promised to buy us before the trip! He knew of this place called Ocean Empire Food Shop (海皇粥店) that did good porridge and zhar leong (炸两 which is fried Chinese crullers wrapped in chee cheong fun or rice noodle sheets) according to him, so that's where we ended up. =)


As is the case with most restaurants in Hong Kong, Ocean Empire doesn't have much seating space because of it's small outlet. Thankfully we got there after the morning breakfast crowd had left, so we could eat in peace. 


Ordering at Ocean Empire is quite straight forward; usually everyone has the same stuff for breakfast. The Chinese name for Ocean Empire actually means porridge shop and not food shop, and that's exactly what we started with! We had the "Sam Pan" Congee, also known as teng zai juk (艇子粥, HKD 18.50) above and the Thousand-Year Egg & Shredded Pork Congee or pei dan sau yuk juk (皮蛋瘦肉粥, HKD 20.50) below.


It certainly didn't disappoint. I like my porridge slightly watery, but not until it's like drinking water. The porridge at Ocean Empire was exactly how I like it; these Hongkies just get me, you know what I mean? =D The consistency of the porridge was smooth and full of meat.


Another popular dish at Ocean Empire, the Turnip Pudding (萝卜糕, HKD 12.50) a block of steamed pudding made of shredded turnip and rice flour, served with soy sauce and sesame seeds. Wendy and the others really fancied because it was soft and bursting with natural turnip flavours. Not something I fancy however, as I'm not big on turnip.


We thought it good to try the Dried Shrimp Rice Sheet Roll or cheong fun with har mai (虾米肠粉, HKD 13.50) here as well. Another example of how cheong fun in Hong Kong is nothing like what we get here in Malaysia (just like what we got at Lin Heung Kui).

While we are more accustomed to lots of filling like big prawns or barbecued pork in our cheong fun, in HK they rely more on sauce and the original taste of the cheong fun to carry the dish. However, this dish was a little plain; the cheong fun was a little too thick and the sauce too salty for my liking.


But the real highlight at Ocean Empire is the zhar leong (炸两, HKD 15)! For some reason this is not a common dim sum dish in Malaysia although it seems so simple to prepare. What I had tried before in places like Canton-i wasn't as nice because the cheong fun was too thick. Here though the cheong fun was nearly thin as paper and really smooth, giving just a subtle addition of texture to the freshly fried, crispy yao zha guai. After dipping in black sauce for extra saltiness, it becomes the perfect breakfast snack that never seems to be enough..=D


For drinks, soya bean is the most popular. A cup of fresh soy milk (豆漿, HKD 8) will wash everything down perfectly.. =P

More fried treats to be taken away!
We do recommend you give Ocean Empire a try for their zhar leong and porridge if you're ever in Hong Kong. What's also really helpful is that their menu is bilingual so there will be no problems for English speaking visitors. A simple yet highly satisfying breakfast that recharged our batteries in preparation of the long day ahead at Ocean Park. =)





Ocean Empire Food Shop 海皇粥店 | Openrice
Basement & G/F, Simsons Comm. Building,
No. 137-139 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
灣仔莊士敦道137-139號地下及地庫


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