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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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Food: Yeast Bistronomy @ Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar

After a bit of a disappointing experience at Milk and Butter, I decided that our next stop for brunch would be at Yeast Bistronomy, a small French boulangerie-cum-bistro located nearby. We've heard good things about the food at Yeast, but didn't expect it a full house crowd on a hazy Sunday afternoon.



While we waited for a few minutes to be seated, I was immediately attracted to the display of pastries on hand at the front of the shop. None of the overly glossy, patterned stuff you see at bakeries these days, but large, rustic, hearty looking pastries and croissants. Now, I've never been to France, but now, this is what I imagine bakeries over there to look like! Anyone wanna set my expectations back on the right track? Haha.



The place isn't big, with a large portion of it devoted to an open kitchen where customers can choose to sit on bar-level chairs and observe the chefs in action. Tables are also placed very close to each other, much like the setting at Antipodean.



We pored over their menu for awhile (all in French names, though dutifully translated, of course) and probably mispronounced all our orders to the waiter. I think I'll just stick to pointing next time :p



We naturally gravitated towards the croissants, obviously. The Croissant aux Thon et Mayonnaise (RM 10), a croissant jam packed with a generous serving of tuna mayonnaise did not disappoint at all.



In fact, it was so yummy that Adam decided to take one away for his lunch at work the next day! The croissant was excellent; pillowy, buttery layers and a nice flaky top, while the tuna was very nicely made. No hints of unpleasant canned fishy-ness, and just the right amount of mayo, keeping it from overpowering the tuna. There's also a Egg Mayo Croissant available, which I imagine, should be pretty good as well.



The simple Toasted Brioche Bread (RM 6) was also good, in our opinion. The thick slabs of bread were fluffy and aromatic with the rich scent of butter. To make things more sinful, it's served with more premium French butter. *gulp* It went along very nicely with the Bonne Maman berry & apricot preserves too, leaving me indecisive on whether to enjoy the bread on its own with a tinge of butter, or to have it with the fruit preserve. Choices, choices.




Unfortunately I don't think we've been having much luck lately with all-round satisfaction with eateries. For every two dishes, we always hit a bum note with the last dish, and that day, it was the Oeufs Poches Benedictine (RM 18), Yeast's rendition of the fan-favourite Eggs Benedict



Disappointingly, the poached eggs were served very firm with the yolk barely runny. We also weren't fans of the béarnaise sauce used, which is essentially a herbed-up version of hollandaise sauce. There was a pungent addition in the sauce here (that tasted much like capers to me, but I can't be sure) that we didn't fancy. Not something we would order again.



The hot chocolate - Valhrona Chocolate Chaud (RM 10) - quickly became my favourite hot chocolate in town after the first sip. Love at first sip? Certainly. The hot chocolate was luxurious and smooth, with the decadent aroma of Valhrona chocolate. So, so satisfying!



Adam's Hazelnut Latte (RM 11) was also not too bad, the sweetness being just right.



Not resisting temptation, I also took away two pastries. Nobody at them, so I ended up bringing both to work the next day.



The Brioche Chocolat (RM 5.50), a brioche bun with white chocolate chips didn't hold up too well because the dough was starting to get pretty dry by lunch time the next day. They were very generous with the white choc chips though.



I recommend the pastries as a better choice to take away as opposed to the buns. This Pain Chocolat Armandes (RM 7) - chocolate almond pastry - still tasted very good the next day, especially heated up for a quick while in the microwave so that the chocolate gets all hot and runny. :D 



Freshly baked loaves are also available for sale. Everything looked so good, I honestly would have brought it all home if I could! Could never resist the smell of baking bread.


The bar, which seems to be open all day long. Croissants & champagne anyone?


Yeast Bistronomy is most definitely worth a visit, especially for the pastries and bread. We wouldn't have the Eggs Benedict again, but that's not going to stop us from sampling more of what they have to offer. I have my eye on their French toast ;)


Yeast Bistronomy | Site
No. 24G, Jalan Telawi 2,
Bangsar Baru,
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 2282 0118
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun, 8am till late


View Drops of Contentment Food Trail in a larger map

Our other reviews on brunch offerings in the Telawi area:
1. Antipodean Cafe, Jalan Telawi 2 | Review
2. Milk and Butter, Jalan Telawi 2 | Review
3. Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, Bangsar Village | Review

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Travel: Hanoi Day #1 - Thăng Long Water Puppet Show & sampling local Vietnamese dessert, Chè


After our heavy dinner, we decided to start making our way to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre on foot to walk off some of the calories as well as kill some time before our show.

Old Quarter at night is quite a different experience, because there are far more cars and motorcyclists at night... criss-crossing each other, honks everywhere!


One of those crazy scenes we just can't get our heads around: many balloon peddlers, with all the different types of balloons you can imagine, just casually walking around a roundabout while motorcyclists whizz around them and in between them. Some motorists even stop to chit-chat with them! o_O



There are also some mightily creative and talented crafts people in Hanoi, because beautiful crafted pop-up cards are easily available by the streets. I especially loved the traditional pop-ups, like the Vietnamese girl on her bike, or the red pagoda. Would make lovely souvenirs!



We also walked back to Hoàn Kiếm Lake (the water puppet theatre is just beside the lake) and saw the Ngọc Sơn Temple all lit up. The reflections are a bit of an eerie sight from afar because the water is so still.

Entrance to the closed Ngoc Son Temple, brightly lit up at night.


The temple closes at 5pm daily but I think the these majestic dragon marble cravings are more impressive at night. Somehow they look more lively with all the lighting. 



We also walked past further down Hang Dau Street at the northeast corner of Hoan Kiem lake (away from where the Ngoc Son Temple is), where it's shoes and shoes galore. In our exploring Old Quarter post we explained how the different trades centralize on certain streets, easily giving shoppers an abundance of choices in one location. This one's clearly for all shoe-shopaholics!



Craving some dessert after all that meat at Bun Cha Dac Kim, we decided to stop by this small, brightly-lit shop selling chè (pronounced chair).

Chè basically refers to Vietnamese dessert, like a sweet dessert soup that is a little similar to our Malaysian ais kacang only sans the ice. You can't miss chè stalls; you'll see lots of bowls containing different (and usually multi-coloured) items that are layered and mixed to make up different dessert variations.



I tried the Chè thập cẩm, a common mixed version of chè consisting of lots and lots of ingredients like banana, mung bean, lotus, taro, jellies, lotus seeds, and syrup, amongst many others. This was a nice treat that I enjoyed, with lots of different textures and flavours. 



We also tried the Chè đậu xanh with its base ingredient of sweetened ground mung bean (see the thick yellow layer?), and a version with black grass jelly (cincau). I liked the Chè đậu xanh too, mainly because I like the earthy flavour of mung beans. It wasn't ground too finely, so there was an enjoyable texture to it. Adam, who doesn't like red/green beans in general, wasn't a fan. The three cups of chè cost us 60,000 VND (approximately RM 9 / USD 3).


I was just generally very awestruck of the crazy wiring! I think you might see a pic like this in each Hanoi post...


After satisfying our sweet cravings, we made our way back to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, where the crowd for the 8pm show was already starting to form.



We paid 100,000 VND (RM 15 / USD 5) per ticket with an additional 20,000 VND for a camera pass, which is common practice in Hanoi. There are also cheaper tickets for the seats further back.


Waiting for the show to begin


The water stage, about four meters wide, is merely modest and rickety-looking, but befitting of the traditional folk tales the puppets were about to tell.


A pretty narrator brings you through each act in Vietnamese with the English text is flashed on screen before the puppets start the show.



The puppets are made out of lacquered wood and attached to long bamboo wooden sticks which are actually manipulated by puppeteers backstage. According to the narration, this used to be practiced by the farmers in water-logged paddy fields and is an art that is passed down from generation to generation. 

The show is made out of about 10-15 different acts with each act showcasing a part of Vietnamese mythology, culture or day-to-day lifestyle. The Vietnamese folk music that accompanies each act is actually played by a live ensemble hidden behind the narrator.



There was a particularly adorable act on young Vietnamese who are courting, where the girl puppet has a gaily coloured umbrella and the boy and girl puppet sort of do a bashful dance around each other. Very cute, almost Bollywood. Haha.



Everyone recommends this as one of the cultural must-dos in Hanoi and I guess I am somewhat inclined to agree. Some of the upbeat traditional music is quite enjoyable but the puppet movements will feel very limited and repetitive a few acts into the show. At just under an hour I spotted people leaving and soon after I heard snoring from my left too (no points for guessing who :p). The English narration is also a bit small and difficult to read.

We visited the Vietnamese Museum of Ethnology on our last day in Hanoi, and it helped us relate back to this water puppet performance in a few ways, so you might want to consider spending a day at the museum before watching the water puppet show.

Here's a short video I took so that you can imagine the show better:



The puppeteers coming out into the waist-deep water at the end


After the show, you can walk around and check out some of the puppets up close. 

And that's a wrap on Day 1 of our holiday in Hanoi. More adventures coming up!

But before I end this post, I want to show you this video! No Hanoi travelogue is complete without a video of the crazy traffic in Hanoi. 



How do you suppose I crossed that roundabout? Eyes closed, clutching my bag and camera closely, holding Adam's hand tightly... and lots of faith, of course! :D


Next up: A day at the Vietnamese Military History Museum in Ba Dinh!


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Quán Chè Ngon Pho Co
No. 8, Cầu Gỗ Street
Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Thăng Long Water Puppet Theatre | Site
(Beside Hoan Kiem Lake)
No. 57b, Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street,
Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Tel: +84 4 3936 4335 / 4334
Fax: +84 4 3824 5117
Email: thanglong.wpt@fpt.vn
Showtimes: 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 6:30pm, 8pm, 9pm daily, with additional 9am show on Sunday
Ticket Prices: 60,000 or 100,000 VND, camera pass for additional 20,000 VND

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Other Hanoi-related posts:


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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Food: Kampachi by Equatorial, Plaza@Jaya 33, Petaling Jaya


I know many mourned when Hotel Equatorial closed its doors for redevelopment last year, because with it went the original Kampachi and its greatly-loved weekend buffet. Well, thankfully, we now have reasons to rejoice again with new Kampachi outlets making themselves very comfortable at the Troika and more recently, at Plaza 33 in Petaling Jaya.



We dropped by not long after their opening, on a Sunday. Immediately, we liked the sleek bar that greeted us as we walked in, looking well-stocked and classy in the night. Adam even commented he wouldn't mind returning for drinks at the bar -- it hasn't happened yet, but perhaps soon?


Your choice of liquid for the night?


On the right next to the bar, are these ingenious cocoon-like seatings. Each is a round table with cushioned booth seats, but the surrounding "wall" can be rotated to block your table off for more privacy. That makes these pods very nice for small gatherings.



Past the bar is where most of the crowd is (although this picture was taken after our dinner when most had already left); mostly tables for two and four but larger crowds can easily be accommodated, up to a total capacity of 198 pax.

We spent quite a lot time oohing and aahing over the menu, but in the end we thought the bento sets were pretty value-for-money and went with two of those for our party of four.



This was the Tokyo Bento (RM 50), a hearty set of rolled beef, prawn tempura, grilled mackerel and assorted sashimi. No complaints here, the seafood and sashimi were top notch and everything was executed very well, from the crispy tempura, right down to the fluffy grains of garlic fried rice, becoming a very hearty, filling meal for one.



Another set which I thoroughly enjoyed was the Unadon & Shake Sashimi (RM 58), grilled eel on rice with salmon sashimi.



To my delight, the unagi was sublime! :D The flesh was tender with a nice melt-in-your-mouth gelatinous texture and had absorbed the sweet marinade so well. Some days, I really really crave for the unagi here.



The cuts of sashimi we got with the set were also great; the slices were thick and fresh -- really the ultimate satisfaction.



Adam couldn't resist the promise of beef and teppanyaki, so he got the Sirloin Beef (RM 110 for 250g) served with your of sauces. Quite a fancy array of interesting sauces available, such as Shichimi Miso, Ponzu, Shouga Fuzi & Goma, but the latter two were recommended to complement the seafood teppanyaki instead. \


We ended up picking the Kampachi Truffle, a signature sauce from a mixture of shoyu and mushroom broth with hints of black truffle & olive oil. It made for quite a rich, earthy dipping sauce but we're inclined to say that the sirloin tasted just as good on its own. It was perfectly grilled, retaining a cheery pink centre of which we enjoyed every mouthful of. Bliss. :) 



The Nabeyaki Udon (RM 32) hotpot noodles was a standard, satisfying affair. Nothing too special here, but we appreciated how the prawn tempura had been thoughtfully served separately, away from the noodles and soup. Nothing irks me more than soggy food that's supposed to be crispy -- I think more places should start doing this!



We only decided to have one sushi roll that night and went for the Soft Kani Maki (RM 50), a huge rice roll with deep fried soft shell crab, fish roe and cucumber, for the four of us to share.



We didn't try any of the other rolls, but I think if you have to only order one, make it this one. Soft shell crab is always a must order for us, but it's more often than not that you get less flesh and more batter in your rolls.

This is definitely not the case here! The roll was a delightful combination of flavours and textures; fleshy soft-shell crab with a crispy outer shell, crunchy cucumber, popping roe, and a hint of creamy mayo.  Really yummy, and really filling, since they're so large. 


Cutely shaped wasabi



We also had the Saba Shioyaki (RM 32) to share, a chunk of salt-grilled mackerel. The flesh was firm and flaky; I'm not really a mackerel fan so I won't comment much, but Adam enjoyed this.



Because it was Mother's Day, the ladies at the table got a scoop of Matcha Ice Cream on the house (yes, that's exactly how long this review has been sitting in our drafts! *embarassed*). This surprisingly fell short, creamy, but not sweet enough for me. It wasn't very smooth either, you could taste the ice in it which for me is a no-no.



Not to be outdone, Adam decided to order the Goma Ice Cream (RM 14) to try ('cause no free ice cream for him hahaha). This was a far better choice! Creamy and dense, and full of flavour.



Food here will put a dent in your wallet (well, for us anyway - if it doesn't dent yours maybe you can bring us here too :p), but you can be most definitely be assured of the quality of food here. Service is attentive and prompt as well. Would love to return here for the Sunday Lunch Buffet soon - priced at RM 118++ for adults and RM 68++ for children.


Kampachi by Equatorial | Site 
1st Floor, Plaza@Jaya33,
No. 1 Jalan Kemajuan, Seksyen 13,
46100 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor
Tel: +6 03 7931 6938
Fax: +6 03 7931 8294
Email: kampachi-jaya33@equatorial.com
Opening Hours: Daily, 12pm-3pm & 6pm-11pm (the Sunday Lunch Buffet runs till 2:30pm though)


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