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, December 31, 2013

Our Best Brunch Places of The Year in KL & PJ!

On the very last day of the new year, we're looking back on the one food that we enjoyed the most in the past year, and we think it would have to be brunch!

This year, we've seen the brunch culture take over our food trail (and many of your food trails too) by storm. I can't place my finger on it, but there's just something about a thoughtfully assembled hearty brunch platter, thick fluffy French toast drizzled with syrup, or a wobbly egg, poached to perfection, that threatens to explode with sunny yellow goodness at the slightest prod of a fork. Having any one of those is an instant pick-me-up, and it almost ensures we have a good day after that.

Here's our favourite go-to breakfast/brunch places of 2013 in KL and PJ, in no particular order:

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Nutmeg, Bangsar Village II


Nutmeg Big Breakfast (RM 28)
Southern Fried Breakfast (RM 26)
Nutmeg was a love-at-first-bite affair for us. The moment we took a bite of their scrambled eggs, and had a taste of their Southern Fried Chicken, we were absolutely hooked with no going back. The desserts are also very inviting - our favourite was having a tall slice of their OMG Chocolate Cake (yes, it's that good).

Pros: Excellent scrambled eggs. And, for once, fried chicken for breakfast? Hell, yes!
Cons: We thought the portions had shrunk on our second visit, hopefully it's been sorted out now.

Click here for our full post on Nutmeg.

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S.Wine, Publika


French Toast with Grilled Bananas (RM 22)

English Fry-Up (RM 39)

While we were less impressed by dinner at S.Wine their brunch has always been on my to-try list because many have written odes to their signature French Toast with Grilled Bananas - a sinful, naughty dish that includes streaky bacon, bananas, peanut butter, fluffy French Toast and maple syrup. Needless to say, we were S.Wine converts after that! The pork sausage and thick slice of pork ham in their Fry Up were also very good.

Pros: Excellent porky breakfasts, especially that French toast! To. Die. For.
Cons: The price isn't too friendly on our wallets, unfortunately. Easily the most expensive one on this list.

Click here for our full post on brunch at S.Wine.

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Yeast Bistronomy, Bangsar


Croissant aux Thon et Mayonnaise (RM 10)

Toasted Brioche Bread (RM 6)

For something off the beaten brunch path, we visit Yeast Bistronomy along Jalan Telawi to change it up a little sometimes. It doesn't always have to be about sausages or poached eggs every weekend; instead, why not breathe a little charm into your mornings with some adeptly prepared pastry or freshly baked bread? If your answer is a resounding yes, we highly recommend Yeast.

Pros: The tuna croissant is one of, if not the best, that we have tasted in a long time!
Cons: Yeast has rather limited dining space, with half its space being taken up by the bar and open kitchen. 

Click here for the full post on Yeast Bistronomy.

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BreadFruits Fruit & Bakery, Desa Sri Hartamas

SatisFry Up (RM 23.80)

Smoked Salmon Avocado Sandwich (RM 18.80)

BreadFruits is a little bakery-cum-fruit shop-cum-cafe in Desa Sri Hartamas that commits itself towards offering nutritious, wholesome meals. Forget the oil and deep-frying, and start off your day with some fresh juice and awesome fresh bread here. The sandwiches (and basicially just anything with their bread) are definitely worth a try. We also enjoyed their SatisFry Up, less sinful that our usual brunches, but not any less satisfying!

Pros: A big thumbs up for preparing the healthiest, wholesome brunches in town, and a double thumbs up because they can make healthy taste so good. :)
Cons: Parking is narrow and scarce around Desa Sri Hartamas... you gotta be prepared.

Click here for the full post on BreadFruits.

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The Red Beanbag, Publika

RBB Signature Breakfast (RM 19.90)

French Toast (RM 13.90)

The Red Beanbag was actually our final post for 2012 and after a year later, it finds itself in our final post for 2013 too. We have a fond spot for RBB in our foodie hearts because it was established at a time, in our opinions, where the brunch scene was lacking (besides the likes of Antipodean, of course). In entered RBB, with a new fun take on brunch dishes. Their French Toast coasted with almonds, although simple, remains one of my favourite interpretations of this classic dish.

Pros: You know exactly what you're getting at RBB, no pretenses and no teething problems to work through. Just awesome, dependable brunches to start your day, on the right foot.
Cons: The crowd is just insane. RBB has its own legion of dedicated fans and so, it makes it difficult to secure a table here during peak hours.

Click here for our full post on The Red Beanbag.

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The Good Batch, Damansara Uptown


The Angmoh (RM 25.90)

The Norwegian (RM 20.90)

Having just only managed to see (or rather, taste!) the hype about The Good Batch for ourselves recently, it manages to sneak right into our list at year-end! We like The Good Batch because their menu is well thought-out and it stands out amongst all the other brunch players, despite its recent beginnings. They also seem to have a way with eggs; we enjoyed both the scrambled and poached eggs - lots of sunny, yolk goodness.

Pros: Brunch is part of their all-day main menu; plus, there's an all day bar! And, they make seriously kick-ass poached eggs. Like, seriously.
Cons: We're not a big fans of the fact that smoking is allowed indoors.

Click here for our full post on The Good Batch.

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Besides those we've tried and tested, there's also other popular brunch places we've yet to try, but will most definitely be part of our brunch adventures in 2014 - places like That Latte Place, Nosh, Podgy and the Banker, Mr & Ms - so many places, but so little time!

How about you, which ones are your favourite brunch places of 2013? We'd really like to know! :)




And also, here's wishing all you readers a very Happy New Year from both Adam & I... may your new year ahead be filled with lots of surprises, special moments and sweetness! :)






Friday, December 27, 2013

Food: The Good Batch @ Damansara Uptown, PJ


We've heard about The Good Batch for awhile now, having seen lots about it on blogs and on Instagrams, but the legendary parking situation at Damansara Uptown had always put us off. Finally, one sunny Sunday afternoon, we steeled our resolve, gritted our teeth, and decided to scour the scary streets of Uptown for a parking spot -- just so we could try it out!

The Good Batch, thankfully, is located at one of the sleepier streets of Uptown, and parking was slightly easier. Along the same row are also Wondermilk and Fat Spoon, in case you were wondering where exactly it's located.



The seating process - for a 2pm on a Sunday - was relatively fast. Staff will direct you outside and jot your name down on the wait-list and once your table is ready, you'll be called. A really warm and chirpy lady attended to me - I suspect, the ladyboss - and she was so happy and energetic that it was infectious! Off to a good start.

I liked The Good Batch the moment I stepped in - lots of natural sunlight streaming in & the usual unfinished, almost industrial-like look that we've come to expect of new cafes born in 2013. The sunlight means that it can get very hot or very bright in the afternoons, so if you're not that kind of person, head to the back of the cafe, which was where we were seated. It's far dimmer there, as you can see from the rest of the photos to follow. :D



As always, we gravitated towards the most substantial sounding "brunch food" there was on the menu - which was The Angmoh (RM 25.90). Our tummies were rumbling before we even ordered, so the arrival of this on our table was a welcome sight indeed. Who can say no to scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, mushroom, pan fried potatoes and baked beans on Sunday afternoon? Certainly not us. 



I loved how sunny and golden yellow the scrambled eggs were, and thankfully, they tasted as good as they looked - creamy, moreish, well-seasoned, and a texture that we found to be just right. The other thing that I really adored was the baked Portobello mushroom that was so juicy and full of flavour. The streaky bacon was enjoyable, but we couldn't help but wish that the sausage had more substance to it. It felt a tad run-of-the-mill. 



Looking back at the pictures I snapped of the menu now, there are actually many interesting concoctions at The Good Batch, but somehow we managed to pick the two most conventional dishes of the lot (in our defense, hungry people, they can't really think straight...) So for our other main, we predictably had the Norwegian (RM 20.90), two poached eggs on bread with smoked salmon, capsicum & onion topped with their house lemon Hollandaise sauce.



The description on the menu says that this comes with "perfectly poached eggs" which is a tall statement to make, but we're proud to report that they really were the perfect, runny poached eggs. I enjoyed the addition of the capsicum and onion confit because they lent a nice sweetness to the dish, but I think Adam thought otherwise 'cause... veggies are veggies. -_- The one thing we both agreed on though, was there was a overpowering fishiness to the smoked salmon, not one that was entirely pleasant. They graciously accepted our feedback and said they would check with the chef, so that's good enough for us.



Adam ordered the Corn Dogs (RM 14.90), served with Gula Melaka mustard, without really realizing that corn dogs come with a layer of deep fried corn meal batter, which makes it very filling. (Not to mention that he actually doesn't like corn dogs all that much, so he ate one or two after scraping off the batter and left the rest to me, meh.) If you're a corn dog fan, I'd say The Good Batch does a pretty good corn dog. Served golden brown, the outer corn batter was fluffy and had good texture to it.



I was really looking forward to the special-sounding Gula Melaka mustard dip that the corn dogs were served with, but unfortunately, I couldn't taste any palm sugar in the mustard dip. The mustard was milder though, so perhaps the Gula Melaka was just to take some of the edge off. 



The Banana Nutella (RM 15.90) was the instant choice for dessert. 



This was something special in our books, having flaky, crunchy puffs instead of always having cake. We may not always crave for it, but the combination of hot, decadent Nutella with banana and the crunchy pastry was definitely a welcome change. 20 minutes of baking time needs to be allowed for this dish, so do time your order properly!


A batch of The Good Iced Tea (RM 8) - good for a hot day

Hot Chocolate - RM 9
Nothing much to say on the drinks - certainly not the highlight here for us. (I've seen The Good Batch pop up on some coffee-places-list but we're no experts on coffee, so we'll let you do the testing yourselves. :p)



The Good Batch also has an open bar all day long (!), so if cocktails with brunch is your fancy, here's where you'll get your fix. One thing I'm not wild about though, is that smoking is permitted indoors, but to each his own.



Would we return to The Good Batch again? I'd say so, there's a lot of other interesting, fusion-y dishes on the menu I'd like to try, including one Portobello Road, poached eggs with breaded portobellos, that I keep on hearing people raving about! What have been your favourite brunch places of the year so far?



The Good Batch | Facebook
No. 53, SS21/1A,
Damansara Uptown,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: +6 03 7733 2303
Email: thegoodbatchkl@gmail.com

Opening Hours:
Tues-Thurs, 11am-12 midnight
Fri, 11am-1am
Sat, 10am-1am
Sun & PH, 10am-11pm
Closed on Mondays


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Travel: Taiwan - Hotel QUOTE Taipei, a highly recommended boutique hotel by us!

This post is part of our A Tale of Taiwan: 109N Taiwan Itinerary! For the itinerary, click here.



When traveling, there are always 2 important things to look for in a hotel. 1) A central location, and 2) Comfortable rooms!

Most of us tend to sacrifice more of (2) to get more of (1) under the pretense that (2) isn't such a big deal. But let's face it; given a choice, who wouldn't want to stay in a luxury hotel in the heart of town right?! We thought it'd take us another 10 years before we could think of affording such a treat, but thanks to the generosity of Hotel QUOTE, we've crossed this off our bucket list at the tender age of 25. =D



There are many 5 star hotels in Taipei, but Hotel Quote manages to distinguish itself among the rest. Besides being part of the exclusive club of Small Luxury Hotels, it is also the a TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice winner for 2012 and 2013! If you trust TripAdvisor (which I'm sure you do), then you can trust that Hotel Quote is really something special to win this award 2 years in a row. =D




Step through the doors of Hotel Quote and be instantly transported out of the hustle and bustle of Taipei street traffic into the calm lobby and bar of Hotel Quote. Intricate designs line the walls of the bar where business really takes off on weekend nights. A really nice place for entertaining or impressing dates and friends. =D



After going through a painless check-in process, a kind staff will be assigned to lead you to your room. I loved the numbering design of the room doors; reminds me of Tron! 


And just, wow. What a sight to be greeted with after a long day on our feet!




Hotel Quote has several room types, and the one we stayed in was the U Room (rooms are named after each alphabet in QUOTE) - a 25 sq. meter room with a king size bed. It may not sound spacious, but it was more than enough for us because it made up for it in luxury.


The desk/work area

Once inside, the staff will give a brief run-through of all the things available in the room, and how to use them. If you're wondering how important that can be, you'd be surprised. For example...



....maybe you need assistance with the Bose digital stereo system with iPod dock...



...or maybe you don't know how to work the complicated phone with lots of menus and buttons and services....(trust me even we needed an introduction to the phone)...




...or perhaps you're wondering how to make use of the Nespresso coffeemaker? And oh by the way, is the coffee free? Why, yes sir it is! Capsules are refilled each morning. :D




...in fact, everything that is edible in the room is covered in the room charge, and is replenished on a daily basis. No worrying about hidden or extra charges, thanks to all the free snacks & drinks in the minibar! Awesome feeling, I tell you. 




Wooden sliding doors enclose the toilet area from the room. 



Thankfully, the toilet seat was heated. Such a godsend because we were there as it was nearly winter and it got pretty cold at night. TOTO Washlets toilets are also installed in Hotel Quote complete with washing & drying facilities.


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The shower walls are fully made from glass, but right after the sink, there is a thick curtain that closes off the entire washroom from the rest of the room for privacy. Only pity was that there was no rain shower, but we can do without that.



The Damana Organic products are used in Hotel Quote - Wendy certainly enjoyed using the lotions provided. 



The rest of the room is what you'd expect from a boutique establishment too. From bathrobes to umbrellas, and flashlights, safety deposit box. You need it, they got it covered. In fact, we even read in their room service guide that you could request for an OSIM massager from the front desk!



There's even a DVD player tucked away in a nook inside the table, perfect for a night of chilling in the room. =D


Awesome vintage feel at the lift lobbies with this house phone


But enough about the room. Let's go to the most awesome-est part of Hotel Quote - The Level 2 H.Q. Lounge area!



This is every insomniac's dream hideout. It's stocked with plenty of sweets, snacks and biscuits, or fruit if that's your thing. Cold drinks and juice are in the fridge too. All available on a take-all-you-can, around-the-clock basis for guests. It almost feels like stepping into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.. =D



Goodies are not just limited to the table. More sweets fill up jars lined up against the wall. Even hotel items like soap, sewing kits, shower caps, and more lollies are up for grabs from these glass vases at the lounge. Bliss!




And for entertainment, there are 2 Mac computers, a few TVs with CNN playing, and a vast variety of international magazines and newspapers to keep occupied. With all those goodies, is it any wonder we tried to spend as much time here as possible? Oh and the best part is, the lounge stays open for 24 hours a day. Hence why I think it's the perfect hideaway for insomniacs =D

Snacks, drinks and more snacks!


Really... a dream come true, this H.Q. Lounge. We spent quite a fair amount of time here, surfing the net to plan our next destination, enjoying some of the snacks, and relaxing.



For business travellers, there's also a small conference area in the lounge that can be corded off with some thick curtains, making it a neat discussion area that fits 6.




Every morning, the sweets are cleared away to make space for the breakfast buffet. It's not a very big spread, but there's enough variety between Asian and Western to satisfy everyone. Slightly disappointed with the bread rolls and croissants though, as they weren't not the freshest. But other than that everything was good.




So for the 2 nights that we stayed at Hotel Quote, we must have spent 60-70% of it in our room or the lounge, and I hope from all our pictures you can see why!

It was a great experience, and one we wouldn't have had without the generosity of Hotel Quote, so a big shoutout to them again. My one tiny regret? I didn't buy the Hotel Quote deer for a souvenir. =(  (Not the big one mind you, I mean the smaller ones in the basket. =P)

If you're looking for a central place to stay, and don't mind splurging a bit, we will highly recommend Hotel Quote. Maybe one day even we will be back there again. *fingers crossed*


For more pictures of the lovely Hotel QUOTE, do visit our Facebook album here.


Hotel QUOTE Taipei Site
5 minute walk from Nanjing East Rd MRT station
No. 333, Nan-Jing E.Road, Sec. 3
Songshan District, Taipei City 105, Taiwan
Tel: +886-2-2175-5588
Fax: +886-2-2175-5599
Reservation Direct Line: +886-2-2175-5589
Email: servicecenter@hotel-quote.com



This post is part of our A Tale of Taiwan: 109N Taiwan Itinerary! For the itinerary, click here.


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