Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur 2014

Date: Early January 2014

Whoa! Long time no blog! I’ve seemed to have dropped out of  the blogosphere the past couple of weeks, but rest assured, there’s certainly no horsing around for me when I was in KL last, having accomplished what I had set out to do  – and willingly falling ‘victim’ to the ample carbohydrates-fueled yummies there!  😭

So let me present you in pictures (via my trusty iPhone 5s), how KL dressed up to herald the upcoming Chinese New Year on January 31st! 

First up, right in front of my proverbial doorsteps, the Pavilion Mall – as usual the best decorated mall in the whole of KL.  Lanterns, lanterns and MORE big garishly red Chinese lanterns in front of the Pavilion Mall – totally OTT!  HOT!

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The theme, as one can easily guess is HORSES GALORE!

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Horses in fariy-lights along Jalan Bukit Bintang.

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Street illumination

Of course, more horses in the the hotel lobby.

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JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur

A stallion galloping throughout the woods of cherry-blossoms in Suria KLCC.  For those single dudes and dudettes, the first thing you should do, when you wake up on CNY morning is to run around the cherry blossom trees a few times.  A centuries-old tradition to boost your luck in finding your Mr or Ms Right!  (Personal opinion, it doesn’t work – been doing it for AGES!  But still, am going to run a few laps this year. 😵 😵 😵)

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My first Lion Dance show of the year, performed by a bunch of school kids at Suria KLCC.  Pretty good, despite me waiting a good 40minutes for the short-lived 15minutes show to start… 😳

 

A British Affair @ Harrods Restaurant, Suria KLCC, Malaysia

Date of Visit:  Numerous times

Fancy a good solid Brit fare in Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC)? Well, do I have a recommendation for you!

Harrods is a fine dining establishment in Suria KLCC or the shopping mall under the famous Twin Towers. I first dined there when it opened in 2009 and saw that there was a chef from Harrods HQ in London and another expat manager.  A fair guess would be that the menus and fit-outs were all under the HQ’s specs, and the waiters all underwent silver-service training.

In the front is a retail section with a range of Harrods branded merchandises including dry foods, teas, coffees and the signature Harrods shopping bags and teddy bears.  There is also an impressive bar area for drinks. Since then, the store has added a bakery section selling cakes, pastries and macarons – business must be good, with Harrods expanding into Harrods Cafe on the ground floor, which I had done a review here.  

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Iconic Harrods Teddy standing guard outside Harrods in Suria KLCC

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The Harrods Bear attracts a lot of attention with people posing with it. The placard says: “Please do not touch me, I am at work” Funny!

The restaurant is at the back, modelled after the famous Georgian Restaurant in Harrods London.  It is very comfortable and relaxing i.e quiet and far from the maddening crowds in the mall.  The toilet is nice too.  Scented Harrods liquid soap, moisturiser and towels are provided.

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Interior shot of restaurant #1

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Interior shot of restaurant #2

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Fresh flowers

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Starched linen table-clothes and fresh flowers

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The walls of the salon are adorned with framed memories and iconic images from Harrods illustrious history.

Harrods serves traditional British fares.

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Leather-bound Menu

For lunch on weekdays, they serve Set Menu (Choice of Salad or Soup, Main and a Drink) which works out to be more cost-effective (cheaper).  Here is a sample:

Complimentary Bread and Butter

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Plain Butter and Sundried Tomato Butter – presented in traditional silverwares

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Soft Pretzel Roll

Drinks: Harrods do not serve water, they only serve bottled waters, that means you have to pay!

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Mango Slushy

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Carrot Slushy

Appetiser:  Soup of the Day

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Purple potato soup

Mains:  There are a couple to choose from which rotates daily

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Chicken Schnitzel

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Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding – Highly Recommended!!

A la Carte Includes:

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Steak Sandwich with sides of chips and pickles

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Chicken Caesar

Harrods also offers a British High Tea Set in the afternoons.  I have not tried it, perhaps you have and do let me know what you think!

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Views out to KLCC Park and the water fountain

Assam Laksa @ JP Teres, Grand Hyatt Hotel, KLCC

Date of Visit:  November 28 2013.

What’s the 7th best food in the world?   According to a CNN Poll conducted in 2011, it was Penang Assam Laksa!  Lusciously described as  “Poached, flaked mackerel, tamarind, chili, mint, lemongrass, onion, pineapple … one of Malaysia’s most popular dishes is an addictive spicy-sour fish broth with noodles (especially great when fused with ginger), that’ll have your nose running before the spoon even hits your lips”

Wow!  Assam Laksa even beat the world famous Thai spicy soup King –Tom Yum Goog – which came in at the 8th spot.

Admittedly, this is my first time eating a bowl of Assam Laksa, a basic street food in Malaysia of Peranakan origin – and the irony is that I am eating it in the up-market air-conditioned comfort of a 5-star hotel.  Nonetheless, with a tissue  in  hand, ready to wipe my runny nose,  let’s dig in!  

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Assam Laksa

My assam laksa arrived with fresh red chili peppers and a calamansi on top of the noodles.  Other toppings on the soup included the obligatory cilantro, shallots, fresh ginger, cucumbers and a  sliced hard-boiled egg.

Assam laksa is a chowder made from shredded mackerel in a lemongrass-infused broth thickened with tamarind and served with thick rice vermicelli noodles. The key ingredient of the soup is tamarind (or assam in Malay) which is used generously in the soup base.  Garlic, onion, ginger, pineapple and fish paste or belacan are also used in the broth as garnishes.

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Assam Laksa

The shredded mackerel was evident floating on top of the noodles as a mass of thick brown mass.  I mixed everything up in the bowl and after tasting the broth, which has a complex taste of a mixture of sour-citrusy-fishy, I added a squeeze of the calamansi and extra  fresh chillis, simply because I love my hot and spicy amped up with a bite!  The noodles itself, were very chewy – like udon noodles.

It was overall a very stout bowl of assam laksa.  The broth was as good as I have had, and well worth returning to – and I am definitely a return customer, my previous visit sampling other local fares here – another strong point about this broth is that it is NOT EVEN OILY!   😚

Ah yes, the tissue did come in handy!

Harrods Cafe, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit: July 19 2013

Getting a simple ala carte dinner during the Ramadan month is pretty hard to come by in most hotels. This is because Ramadan is time for the hoteliers to cash in on the all-you-can-eat-iftar-buffet. The iftar buffet is a lavish affair and very popular so advanced reservations are required. I gather that most companies are also using Ramadan as company dinners as well.

However, doesn’t this debase the religious purpose of fasting for spiritual purification into a simply indoctrinated practice of not eating during the day for fear of prosecution by the religious police turning into food-frenzy come sun-set? This is also not particularly healthy.

Moreover, I was unsettled by an article that a friend of mine sent me the other day. Non-Muslim students eating in the toilet? That is simply a no-no… Check out the link here for the complete story. In a seemingly peaceful multi-cultural country like Malaysia, one would expect harmony and tolerance but unfortunately tensions on the racial divides runs underneath.

Anyway, without digressing further, off to my Sundown Set-dinner at the Harrods Cafe in Suria KLCC. Among all the cafes in KLCC, I particularly like Harrods Cafe for the clean and bright ambience. There is a bit of a posh English expat touch to the interior from the white-washed timber panelling, tiled floors, cane chairs, quirky Harrods boater hats that the wait-staffs wear, down to the cutleries and china!

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Interior and server

Sundown Set Dinner @RM52 per person.

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Sundown Special Set Dinner

First to arrive were 2 types of juices – mango juice, orange juice and a mug of English Tea Teh Tarik. Apparently, this English Teh Tarik is only available in Malaysia! We were suprised that they all came at once. As usual, the drinks were overly sweet, however in the break fast context probably to give the much needed energy boost after a day of fasting, I presume. I like the ‘teh tarik’ (pulled tea) which has a frothy head, I particularly like the tannic vanillin tea taste.

A short wait later, our soup of the day, the pumpkin soup arrived with some toasted bread. The server very nicely cracked some black pepper over it.

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Top: Drinks
Bottom: Soup

Service was very slow that night, and I noticed the Muslims were all not eating. They were only drinking the 3 drinks and eating the dessert platter, which I found odd. Then at the stroke at 7:30pm, the in-house speaker piped in the evening prayers. From then on, the service caught up, and we got our mains.

My dining companions chose from the Western Delights, pictures below:

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Pan-fried Fillet Beef with Black Pepper Sauce

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Baked Perch Fillet with Butter Caper Sauce

I chose from the Local Flavours which came with biryani rice. My lukewarm perch fillet was accompanied by the tamarind vegetable curry, which was very ordinary. However, I like the dhal curry sauce in the small pot which has a strong nutmeg flavour in it.

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Baked Perch Fillet with Tamarind Curry

Ending our dinner, we have 2 courses of desserts! I don’t particularly like the local desserts. The melting chocolate mousse cake was a disappointment. The other 3 types of savoury-sweet local kuihs were an acquired taste.

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Left: Local desserts with dates
Right: Fruits

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Ramadan Decorations at Suria KLCC Mall

The Sundown Dinner was very ordinary, disappointing cafeteria-fare, however, since I am a regular at Harrod’s Cafe, here’s my recommendation:

The smallish Caesar Salad with anchovies and bruchetta.

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Caesar Salad

Burger with fried-egg, Malaysian-style

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Harrods Burger

Fish-fingers and Chips with tartare sauce and lemon

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Fish and Chips

Honest-to-goodness, old fashioned Strawberry Cheesecake which is very popular and tasted fantastic.

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Strawberry Cheesecake

Grossly Misrepresented! @ Tong Pak Fu, Suria KLCC

(I was going to title this post “False Advertising”, but that sounded too serious…)

It was a bloody hot arvo extrapolated by  a faulty air-con blowing 32 degree celsius wind  in my face.

Made worse, I can hear annoying jerky voices in my head screaming, “Shaved ice, Shaved ice, I want ’em now!”  To pacify my inner demons, I headed over to Tong Pak Fu (not to be confused with Stephen Chow’s movie with the same namesake).  Although I know that Tong Pak Fu is a Hong Kong franchise, I had never bothered to visit its HQ in HK.

See this?  This picture on the menu of Tracka Durian Shaved Ice got my attention and I ordered a regular (RM11.90)

HANG ON!!

What arrived at my table was this… Notice anything different from the photo menu?

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Tracka Durian Shaved Ice

Hmmm…something’s amiss.

Where are my Corn flakes?!

Why are the accompaniments are different too?!

I got a weird combo of spherified lychee bubbles, black, red and yellow grass-jellies which I left untouched.

STILL, the durian shaved ice was a velvety delight.  Smooth and creamy, which I no doubt will come back for more  (giving the condiments a miss).

Let me present you with the menu… if you are not inclined to durians, there are guava, orange and mango shaved ice flavours too.

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