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, February 29, 2012

Food: FLAM'S - The Thin Crust Pizza @ Changkat Bukit Bintang


It was a typical Saturday evening as we thought about where to go for dinner. Since we couldn't conjure an exact answer (even after more than 30 min of yakking after bumping into Robyn!), we just drove down to KL. We still didn't have any clue after reaching KL, so I drove to the general area of Changkat Bukit Bintang. And when we STILL couldn't decide after I parked the car at Changkat, we took a walk up and down the street (much like how we did the time we ended up at El Cerdo.. =D). This time though, we settled on FLAM'S!



FLAM'S - The Thin Crust Pizza is next door to the sleek lounge club Elixir along the Changkat row, and it does look more like a restaurant than a pub though there's a bar inside. There's also no shortage of seating outside if you don't like to be indoors - high bar-height tables and a few couch areas. Lighting inside is dim and leans heavily on the red side (which made it hard to take pics!), but we're not sure if that was just for the Chinese New Year season (or what was left of it =P).



One thing I'll say about FLAM'S though - it's a good place to watch a footie game! If you want to catch the big game but need to take the missus / girlfriend out for a nice dinner, then kill 2 birds with 1 stone at FLAM'S! TV screens can be seen from anywhere you sit, so there's plenty of opportunity to steal a quick glance now and then. =D



Manchester United was playing Liverpool that night, but the food held our attention for the first half! We started with the Chicken Wing Basket (RM 12.80). My first thought was, "where's the basket??" These were just ordinary fried chicken wings; nothing special here. A good snack, and it went well with the Thai sweet chilli sauce too. Good snack to go with beer, but don't get this if you want something different. 



What IS special at FLAM'S is their 'thin crust pizza' - thin crust pizza that is similar yet still different from the normal thin crust pizzas in fast food joints because it's actually a variation of the tarte flambé, a traditional Alsatian (a region of France) pastry that looks very much like a pizza but with a firmer, denser dough and cream cheese as the sauce base.

We had the Pepperoni FLAM'S (RM 32.80) which consisted of cheese, basil, spicy pepperoni, oregano and egg on a tomato base. The cheese we tasted certainly tasted different; I'm not sure if it was cream cheese but it had a stronger flavour compared to the normal mozzarella cheese. There was also a wonderfully runny egg in the middle  that added an extra edge to the pizza. Easily the best pizza we have had in awhile!



Being the meat lover that I am, it would have been even more perfect if there was a bit more pepperoni topping, but overall the combination of the cheese and thin crust won us over hands down. =)



We weren't sure what else to have besides the pizza, and in the end we opted for this Chicken Shawarma Roll with sides (RM 16). It came out bigger than we expected, and thicker too. It was filled with sliced chicken and vegetables, not unlike the normal fillings in a kebab. 


We didn't know it when we ordered, but the wrap actually had a good dose of chilli sauce, which made the whole thing quite spicy! That was fine for us, but we weren't happy with the lukewarm chicken filling, or the cold bread used to wrap. I think FLAM'S could have done a better job of this, just not this time. 



As we were finishing dinner, the clouds opened up and the rain started to pour. Since the car was some distance away and Manchester United weren't done beating Liverpool yet (they did win in the end =P), we decided to try some dessert. 

We chose their Chocolate Fondant (RM 18.80) to keep us company while we waited the rain out. The fondant was nice, and the chocolate oozing out from the centre was heavenly, but I wasn't impressed with the tiny serving of ice-cream. (Wendy says the serving resembled an ice cream 'quenelle' which is a common  elegant way of serving ice cream amongst dessert chefs. I'm not sure if that's what they actually intended!). I would have eaten peace though had I not discovered a hard chunk of ice in the middle of the ice-cream scoop, which was quite a peeve! After showing the manager, he apologized and waived the cost of dessert, so at least FLAM'S showed they have good customer service. =)



Non-alcoholic drinks here are a bit pricey for our liking, and average tasting, but I think there are some good beer deals here. All in all, it was definitely a good experience at  FLAM'S, and we both walked out satisfied. Sadly, no regular pizza is going to be good enough for us now that we've had FLAM'S! They even have a dessert version of their signature flam base, but with apples, bananas or mangos. I'm already wondering when we'll be back again.. =D




FLAM'S - The Thin Crust PizzaSite
No. 41, Changkat Bukit Bintang,
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 2145 8111
Email: dining@flams.com
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun, 5pm-3am


Monday, February 27, 2012

Travel: Hotel Michael @ Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore

So during the recent long weekend (thanks to the twin celebration of Prophet's Muhammad's birthday and Thaipusam), Wendy and I headed down to Singapore for a 2 night stay at Resorts World Sentosa courtesy of her dad!


Thanks to Resorts World Genting, he frequently gets invitations and offers for free stays. This time Genting offered him 4 nights stay in Sentosa for his birthday, and he graciously offered us 2, which of course we didn't turn down. =P


The trip wasn't all fun in the sun though. Our journey to Singapore started at 4am on Sunday as we made our way to KL Sentral to catch the SkyBus to LCCT. From there, it was smooth sailing till we got on the plane (or as smooth as a 7.30am full flight can be lah..=/). But then trouble started!

After running through the usual safety procedures, the captain announced there was a fuel leak at engine 1 so all the passengers had to go back to the arrival hall. Anyone who has flown AirAsia from LCCT knows how notoriously long the walk is to board planes in LCCT. Imagine having to do the walk 3 times!

After a half hour wait again at the departure hall, we rolled our bags back to the same boarding gate to get on our replacement plane. By the time we took off, it was 8.30am.


When we reached Singapore we thought we might try our luck at finding some shuttle buses from the airport to Sentosa. We couldn't find any though, so after a short wait (and a trip each to the toilet..because of stomach ache =p) we decided to take the tried-and-tested method of train-ing down to Sentosa Island.

Taking the SMRT (Mass Rapid Transit) Trains in Singapore is extremely easy. The system map, with the colour coded train lines is easy to decipher. To get to Sentosa Island, you have to hop on the train from Changi Airport (the Changi Airport Branch Line extension of the green East West line) which terminates at Tanah Merah (EW4).


At Tanah Merah, we hopped off and got another train on the green line heading towards Joo Koon. The picture on top is there because Wendy was very fascinated and impressed with the safety features of their MRT on the platform. The doors only open when the train comes! =P (actually KL also has such systems, but not in every station laah..)


The train from the airport is convenient, but be prepared for a looooong ride! From Tanah Merah it took us about another 40 minutes to reach Outram Park (EW16/NE3) where we switched onto the purple North East line to reach our destination - HarbourFront (NE1/ CC29)! The one-way fare from Changi to Harbourfront cost us SGD 2.30 per person.



From HarbourFront there are a few ways to get into Sentosa Island. The easiest and the one we recommend is the Sentosa Express, a monorail service that departs from Level 3 of VivoCity, the adjoining mall to HarbourFront.

We didn't heed our own advice though, but instead took the RWS8 bus that goes into Sentosa Island to drop passengers off at the Resorts World Sentosa casino. There weren't many stops in between, but I think the monorail is still faster. The ride cost us SGD 2 each. A note of caution - buses in Singapore do not give out change, so try to make sure you have the exact amount before getting on. 


Upon reaching the casino, it was another long walk to find Hard Rock Hotel where Wendy's parents were waiting for us. We had an arrangement where they would wait for us to arrive, check out of their hotel, and check us in to our hotel. As luck would have it, the hotel was a good 15 minute walk from where we were dropped off. Hence, more walking! 


When we finally reached their hotel room, the last thing we wanted to do was walk all the way back again, but that's what we had to do because we had to check in at our hotel..zzz. At least we didn't leave before snapping a few shots of the room. =P

The Hard Rock Hotel theme colours are purple and dark grey, and it is liberally used all over the hotel. Pictures and posters are ever-present here, with plenty of memorabilia in showcases dotted throughout the place. It's a nicely designed place, but the dark colours may not suit everyone.We wanted to stay here at first, but got changed to Hotel Michael because Hard Rock was full on the dates we wanted. I'm actually pretty glad we got Hotel Michael in the end!

Through more research, we also found out that Hotel Michael waas one of the winners of TripAdvisor's Traveller's Choice 2012 Awards and also a Finalist in the HotelClub Hotel Awards 2011. Needless to say, we were really excited! 


Hotel Michael pays homage to the architect Michael Graves, a world-renowned professional who has designed buildings all over the world since the 1960s. (I actually thought he was an artist until I read his wiki page!). I don't know what his favourite theme is, but at Sentosa it seems to be wooden building blocks, and this can be seen from all the paintings in the hotel, right down to the designs of the bathroom!



Even the floor mats and door numbers are not spared his vision of block-ish font. =D




Inside the room, the layout is similar to those in the Hard Rock Hotel, but the wood theme made things feel a lot more classier and comfortable to stay. One of the advertised room amenities in Hotel Michael are duck feather pillows and the use of Simmons "Cool Max" beds! Do NOT underestimate the value of those 2 amenities. Believe me, even if we had to sleep without aircon and tv and had no hot water, it would be fine as long as we had those beds! They're really so comfortable, and we had the best sleep ever for a long time..lol.




The bathrooms are also carefully designed and crafted with mosaic tiles and patterns on the floor and walls. Let it not be said that Michael Graves was lazy in his design of his Hotel Michael, Sentosa! =D

Free toiletries/knick-knacks in the bathroom that got replenished everyday!


A nice touch that we loved about the room was the makeup table for the ladies, where the mirror can easily be folded down and hidden from view, together with the hairdryer, leaving behind a flat desk. (The picture of the blocks is actually a mirror reflection of the painting opposite. Cool eh? =D)



Other things that are hidden from view - the closets and the minibar! Hiding all the non-essentials creates a neat and minimalist look to the room, while freeing up more space at the same time. We loved it :)



But what's staying in a nice hotel without having a hearty buffet breakfast right? Our room didn't come with breakfast, but we paid about SGD 30 each to join the breakfast buffet line at Palio, the hotel cafe, for our last morning there.

The interior of the Palio Cafe.


The spread is like what can be found in other hotel breakfasts', but we did feel slightly letdown by the limited varieties on offer. Sure there was the regular sausages, eggs, and cereals, but instead of just one of each type we expected more variety of these common items. For SGD 60 in total, we could have had a far better slap up meal elsewhere for sure. This was probably our only food misstep during our short trip to Singapore!


So if we ever get the chance for free rooms again, rest assured we'll be heading to Hotel Michael! It's a wonderful place to go for a short trip and some good ol' R&R. When we enquired at the reception about rates, they mentioned that the member rate for a deluxe room per night is SGD 200-300, but it could go up to SGD 500 for non menbers, depending on the travel period.

The only thing we would change about the place is the name - Hotel Michael sounds like such a Malaysian name to us, we wish it could be something else like "The Michael Graves Hotel". That would bump it up a few cool points for sure! =D


Hotel MichaelSite
Resorts World Sentosa,
Sentosa, Singapore

For enquiries-
Tel: +65 6577 8888
Email: enquiries@rwsentosa.com

For reservations-
Tel: +65 6577 8899


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Food: Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant @ Mid Valley Megamall

I went to Brotzeit German Bier Bar with my girlfriends once, all because of the refreshing mango beer which they raved about. 

A good sizable dinner crowd for a Saturday night
Having heard that the food was supposed to be pretty good, I decided to suggest to Adam that we patron Brotzeit one Saturday night. He agreed, and off we went!


Of course we had to have the Affensaft, the mango beer I mentioned earlier, which is actually Weissbier with mango juice (RM 29 for 0.5l). You can also opt for your Weissbier to come with banana, but I don't like banana and Adam wasn't feeling adventurous so the mango it was. This was as good as the first time I tried it. The sweet mango juice takes the edge of the beer, and retains a slight beery aftertaste. Definitely not one for beer purists because adding mango juice to the original form of beer is likely to be a blasphemous act in their eyes :p





We headed straight for the Sausage Platter / Würstelplatte for 2 (RM 78) because Adam loves his gourmet sausages. We got quite a good mix with this platter at Brotzeit, I reckon - there were spicy chicken sausages, garlic pork ones, a cheesy pork one, Nürnburger pork sausages, and a huge Weisswurst which is traditionally made from finely minced pork and veal - and served with sauerkraut. All were meaty and juicy and went well with the tart, albeit a little dry, sauerkraut. Not much to fault if there would be one gripe, it would be the price; we couldn't help feeling like it was a tad too steep.



We also ordered a Crispy Chicken Salad / Backhendlsalat (RM 24 for a small one) besides the Sausage Platter above. The salad came with thin strips of deep fried chicken fillet on a bed of greens, sun-dried tomatoes, corn and potato salad. It sounded like a really yummy concoction when we read the description off the menu, but we weren't won over by the actual outcome. The chicken, although still crispy, was cold and tough, and while some might applaud the many flavours and textures in this salad, we weren't fans. I thought there was too much going on, and Adam is even harder to please when it comes to salad so this was left unfinished. Reviews elsewhere wax lyrical about this salad though, so perhaps Brotzeit was just having a bad night.

Saving grace - spotting a tall Kimi Raikonnen look alike behind the bar.

Adam and I left Brotzeit with a pretty big bill and feeling a little unsatisfied. Perhaps we might one day return for the more lauded dishes like the pork knuckle!


Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant | Site
G(E)-018, Ground External Floor,
Mid Valley Megamall,
Mid Valley City,
Lingkaran Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 2287 5516
Opening Hours: Mon-Thu, 11am-12midnight; Fri-Sat, 11am-1am; Sun, 11am-12am

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Food: Superdog @ Vivo City, Singapore - Great Hotdogs!

Over the recent long weekend, Wendy and I made a short trip down to sunny Sentosa Island in Singapore. It's a rather long story (which we will blog about soon) but by the time we finally made it to our hotel room and checked in, it was already close to 1pm as opposed to our previous estimated arrrival of 10am!

After a quick lunch with Wendy's parents, we hurriedly made our way over to VivoCity to meet my friend Pok, who had already been there for 2 hours shopping and waiting for us(!).



I wanted a less crowded place to sit down and have a drink, but it wasn't easy to find one on a Sunday afternoon! We figured the cheapest places would be on the lower floors, so we hunted around there. Finally we settled on Superdog, located just next to the food court. 


Superdog is a fast food chain specializing in, what else - hotdogs! Over here the only hotdog chain we have practically grown up with is 1901 Hotdogs. Superdog is different though, because they use good quality sausages. And most importantly, they have pork sausages!


When I say good quality, I mean quality. But it's not just the sausage; even the toppings are markedly different from the usual 1901. It makes things even more unhealthy than it already is, but hey, since when were the pleasures in life good for you eh? =D

Wendy: I never knew before this, but it's actually very difficult to photograph a hot dog without it looking obscene. Ahem.

The menu isn't too extensive, serving up different combinations of beef, pork, and chicken sausages with toppings. I decided to just go for the most expensive one - the Supreme Dog; a beef and pork bratwurst sausage sandwiched between sliced tomatoes on one side and bacon strips on the other, with grated cheese and onions on top, all placed neatly in a long bun!


One look at the hot dog and we instantly knew this was nothing like what we could get at home! The sausage was crunchy and bouncy at every bite, reminding us more of expensive sausage platters in German restaurants instead of cheap Ayamas sausages. And I had never thought of putting bacon into a hot dog, but now I wonder why I never thought of it before! It truly was a remarkable hot dog, and we were sad to see the end of it.


Like all fast food chains, Superdog has set menus that come with a drink and a side order. So for an additional SGD 2, my set came with a Root Beer - the brand was Mug which we've never seen before here - which was pretty tasty, less fizzy than what we get at A&W...


....and also Onion Rings! In KL the most common onion rings are probably those at Burger King or A&W. Both are nice, but I think they both lose out slightly to the ones at Superdog. For starters, Superdog onions taste freshly minced up, meaning there isn't the common problem of pulling out the whole onion ring with the first bite. Soft fragrant minced onions within its crispy coating!


Since my set meal turned out to be such a success, Wendy got tempted into ordering the fries. We thought this could be a better version of the chilli fries at Carl's Junior, but it was not to be. The sauce was not nearly as generously spread as those at Carl's Junior, nor did the grated cheese do much to enhance the flavour. Carl's Junior still wins in this department, or even perhaps even Ireland's Potato!


So even though we already had lunch, we really gorged ourselves mad at tea! It was all worth it though, because otherwise I would never have discovered these awesome hotdogs! Perhaps one day we'll see this super canine flying to our shores; one can hope, can't he? =P




Superdog | Site
40/41, Level B2,
VivoCity,
No. 1, Harbourfront Walk,
Singapore 098585
Opening Hours: Daily 10am-10:30pm



Monday, February 20, 2012

Travel: HK Day #5 - Shopping @ Causeway Bay & Central; Yung Kee Restaurant @ Wellington Street; Tai Cheong Bakery @ Lyndhurst Terrace

We're at Day 5 of our adventure through Hong Kong and Macau, and that means this long-winded story that we have written is coming to an end soon! 


So far we haven't made any mention of shopping in Hong Kong, but it's quite impossible to not shop there, especially when they have brands that have yet to reach our shores, and sales and trends that we can only wait patiently for!

After breakfast in Capital Cafe, we took the MTR to Causeway Bay, and alighted at Exit B to get to Causeway Bay Plaza because it sounded like a promising place to shop. As stupidity would have it, it was actually an office building and instead, we traipsed along the street to the huge building we saw up ahead... Times Square.

(If it's Times Square that you're going to, then the right exit would be Exit A, if anyone's wondering :p)


The best part of the morning was wasted wandering around Times Square because we hadn't made a clear plan on where to go for shopping, only that we wanted to check out Causeway Bay for shopping in the day and make our way over to Central for more shopping before dinner.

Times Square is a pretty huge mall (all of 9 storeys!); the more expensive stuff like Coach, YSL & Burberry are above ground level, whilst the more affordable stuff like G2000Bershka & The Body Shop can be found down at the basement levels. We started from the very top at the 9th floor (books, electronics, sporting gear) and worked our way down (apparels apparels and more apparels!) to the basement where we finally felt more at home :p

We saw some clearance sale on one of the exhibition halls there, so we spent awhile checking that out but didn't emerge with anything.


Further details of our shopping venture are forgotten on me... it was just a blur of waiting and more waiting! The boredom was boring me to pieces, just like this sliced picture of myself I managed to take against an escalator with reflective panels while the girls were in Zara behind me =P


From Causeway Bay, we took the MTR to Central where I think the girls had finally felt that the real shopping had started. We made our way from the top of Queen's Road Central at Longchamp where Wendy took forever to ponder over a bag she didn't buy and slowly worked out way down the road until we ended up at H&M

H&M is a clothing store not unlike Marks & Spencers, but we don't get H&M over here, so the two girls were going wild through the jungle that is the 4 floors of H&M. 2 out of the 4 are dedicated to women's clothes, so the girls were kept well occupied. 

This photo was taken because we lost Mel in the maze that was H&M and hence all the shopping bags were deposited here while we went off in search. :p
How well occupied you ask? See for yourself! All those bags belonged to the girls, except for the G2000 bag that was mine. And all that within a relatively short span of 2 hours? It wasn't even enough time for them to scour the whole building! Certainly a torturous time for any guy who doesn't have the patience of a stone. =D


But finally 7pm came and it was time to meet my second uncle for dinner (I had to message him to postpone dinner from 6pm to 7pm just so the girls could have more time to browse -_-)! We finally left H&M at 7pm and turned onto Wellington Street from Queen's Road Central for our dinner venue.

(On our way there we even got a taste of local paparazzi following a lady whom Wendy identified as HK actress Fala Chen on her way into Hublot for an event - so much camera flashing going on!)



The venue had already been decided in the morning when I cleverly asked him to take us to Yung Kee Restaurant for dinner (incidentally also one of the restaurants on our food list), for once taking advantage of the typical Chinese question "where do you want to eat? you suggest lah!" =P


Although, if I had known exactly how expensive the restaurant would be, I probably wouldn't have been so shameless! Yung Kee is one of the most famous restaurants in Hong Kong, especially because it serves roast goose all year round. The place occupies 3 floors, and the food and service is comparable to that of Chinese restaurants in 5 star hotels over here. It is said that many celebrities dine here too when they get the chance.


You know you're not in a typical Malaysian Chinese restaurant when the appetizer served isn't peanuts but Preserved Eggs and Pickled Ginger (特制皮蛋酸姜)! Apparently, people come from afar to pack these famous eggs home or give out as gifts. Wendy thought these were some of the best preserved eggs she had ever tasted, with the moss green yolk slightly runny and the translucent part springy. Sadly I don't think we young 'uns knew how to appreciate this fully. A real shame I know. =P


Uncle did all the ordering, since my friends were too shy to ask for anything in particular and I had no idea what else was good except goose. This was Egg "Fu Yong" which (I think) had added shrimp. No fault here, but nothing too special about this. 


We also had some Deep-fried Spare Ribs with Spicy Salt (椒盐肉排). Some would say this is too dry because there is no sauce, but I'm the type that doesn't mind long as the flavour is there. 



In the vein of our carnivorous meal, second uncle had ordered the Sauteed Sliced Beef with Spring Onion and Ginger (姜葱牛肉) too. This is a common dish that locals like to order here in KL, I think. In Yung Kee this was done very well, and I believe the quality of the beef distinguished this from the run-of-the-mill 'dai chow' beef. =D



A popular dish at Yung Kee is the Chicken Marinated in Dark Soya Sauce (桶子油鸡). Because uncle thought we didn't have enough to eat (which I know seems quite absurd looking at all our pictures!), we added on half a chicken as an afterthought. Again a dish that is commonly found in KL, but tender and well roasted, we wouldn't dare say many places in KL can do better. =P


Of course, it wasn't a total meat extravaganza. For veggies we had Stewed Chinese Spinach with Roasted Garlic Cloves. A simple, yet necessary dish.



We also had another chicken dish, with mushrooms and spring onions but this was nothing spectacular.




And not forgetting the star of the night, the aptly named Famous Roast Goose (金牌烧鹅)! Uncle only ordered half a portion, which I thought was little at first, but then after dinner I saw what the price was and I understood..haha. Even though Hong Kong is famous for roast goose, it is actually a seasonal item, and it wasn't actually in season when we went in September. Apparently during the goose season it's easy to find it around Hong Kong, but if not then it's only found in places like Yung Kee.

Roast Goose might look a lot like duck, but the taste is quite different.



We also had the Pork & Lotus Soup with Seaweed. Take a look at the colour of the soup - nearly as black as night! That's proof of the quality in the soup, unlike here at home where either less ingredients are used or it's boiled for a shorter period of time. The only other place to get soup like that is probably if your mother makes it home!

We don't know how much the individual dishes cost, but we racked up a bill of nearly HKD 1000 (roughly works out to about under RM 500, for that extravagant meal for 7 people.



After dinner, we took a (very long!) walk back to uncle's apartment. The streets of Hong Kong do come alive at night, even on a weekday. The roads can be tight and narrow, forcing pedestrians to squeeze more into the already-cramped pathways. 


Along the way, we passed  Tai Cheong Bakery 泰昌餅家 , another popular shop for egg tarts that have been featured online!



We were so full we could hardly stand the sight of food. Plus we had just come from Macau a few days ago where we gorged ourselves on so many egg tarts, so everyone wasn't keen on having anymore. We bought a few to try though, but we can't do a proper review of it because we forgot to eat them until breakfast the next day. =D


So while the afternoon of Day 5 didn't go exactly as we planned, a fantastic dinner courtesy of uncle certainly made up for it! We end the post with a shot of a personalized number plate that roughly translates from Malay into "My Boss". Sigh..why can't we do the same here? =)


*

Times Square Site
No. 1, Matheson Street,
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2118 8900

H&M | Site
No. 68, Queen's Road Central
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2110 9546

Yung Kee Restaurant 鏞記酒家 | Site
No. 32-40, Wellington Street,
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2522 1624
Fax: (852) 2840 0888
Email: info@yungkee.com.hk
Opening Hours: Daily, 11am-11:30pm

Tai Cheong Bakery 泰昌餅家 | Openrice
No. 35, Lyndhurst Terrace,
Central, Hong Kong
中環擺花街 35 號地下
Opening Hours: 7:30am-9pm
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