Ending A Fine Chinese Dinner With Canned Longans Anyone? @ Toh Yuen, Hilton Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Visit:  September 18 2013

Toh Yuen is the in-house Chinese restaurant in Hilton Kuching.  I am guessing this restaurant is very popular with the business set (expensive) and had won quite a few tourism awards judging from the certificate it displayed very prominently on table at the entrance foyer.

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Toh Yuen’s Signage

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Entrance: Wall paper in Chinese calligaphy and little Chinese figurines flanking an tourism award certificate

Not a fan of dark dimly-lit restaurants, I worried that I might trip over uneven carpeting (again) – as I am still nursing my cut knee and ‘bruised wound’ of my ripped 3.1 Phillip Lim sandals that I’ve only worn for under 5 minutes  from the fall I suffered the other day (wounding more for sandals though).  Squinting my eyes to evaluate the interior design of the restaurant, I see red fabrics busily draped from the ceiling to the walls.    Some may call it ‘Chinoiserie-chic‘, but for the more imaginative – imagine a fabric-dye factory straight out a scene in a Chinese kung-fu movie where a swordsman come flying out from nowhere.   To further enhance the Chinoiserie-chic experience, lanterns with tassles and calligraphy-patterned wall-covering are used.

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Interior of main restaurant

Thank goodness we had a private room for dinner.   A brightly-lit festive room with a huge table with lazy-suzy, underneath a huge red lantern and calligraphy-patterned wall-covering for uniformity with the rest of the restaurant.  Even the red napkins and place setting evokes festivity in the room.  I instantly perked up.

On the table are the usual condiments of freshly chopped garlic and assorted chopped chili- red chili,  vinegared green chili, chili-padis.  We are also given sweet cooked soy sauce peanuts to snack on while waiting for the others to arrive.

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Place setting

First up, a Combination Platter of jellyfish, ham, rolled squid in beancurd skin, a salad of seafood mixed with melon topped with mayonnaise.  I am allergic to shell-fish so did not try the salad, not a big deal for me since I don’t like mayonnaise.  The things that I enjoyed most in the platter are the crunchy jellyfish and fresh cucumbers.

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Combination Platter

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Close-up of a few pickings from the assorted Combination Platter

We also had Chicken Soup with a few tough chicken pieces, red dates, fungus and ginseng.  It came piping hot and very tasty.   Something is telling me that this dinner is going to be very healthy… so let’s wait out!

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Chicken Soup

Steamed Cod in light soy sauce came next.  Our host asked whether we want rice to accompany our dinner.  None of us wanted any, and it seems that everyone is on a low-carb diet nowadays!  (Even older gentlemen! 😈 )

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Steamed Cod in light soy sauce

We also had Asparagus with whole garlics and fish jerky, which continued the health-vibe of our dinner.

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Asparagus with whole garlics and fish jerky.

Unfortunately for me, I could not try the Signature Buttermilk Prawns.  These are prawn balls deep-fried in buttermilk and very delicious I was told.  I did take a bite of the deep-fried basket the prawn balls came in to taste, let’s just say it’s for decoration.

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Buttermilk Prawns

Since dinner started late, at 8pm, we were very relieved when the dessert arrived.  Wait for it – Canned Longans in syrup added with coconut strips and fungus!  I find it very puzzling for a fine dining restaurant to be serving canned fruits.  Then again, I presume canned longans and canned lychees are made very popular  in Malaysia where the climate here is not inclined to producing these exotic fruits.

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Canned Longan

We also picked up a Hilton Kuching Red Bean Mooncake (RM24++).   A pretty pair of gold-fish embossed on salty baked skin infilled with sweet red bean paste and melon seeds.  It was ‘moreish’ – well, we were at Kuching airport, the Starbucks there didn’t cut it and we were hungry…

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Hilton Kuching Moon cake

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X-section: Hilton Kuching Moon cake

Meeting (or Rather ‘Staking Out’) The King and Queen of Malaysia @ Hilton Kuching, Malaysia

Date: September 17 2013

I spy, I spy with my little beady eyes (actually my eyes ain’t too small, only saying for dramatics), from the corners of my eyes I saw police outriders in their monstrous vintage motorcycles with sirens blaring, followed by a Silver Maybach coming to a halt in front of my hotel… and who’d pop out, but Their Majesties, The King of Malaysia and his Queen!

So thus began my 2 hours of stake-out on Their Majesties the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Raja Permaisuri Agong of Malaysia, at Caffe Cino on the ground floor of Hilton Kuching (err, yes… I’m on a work meeting, but the next one doesn’t start until late so…) To while the time away, I had Iced Blended Coffee (Viennese, I believe with the generous serve of whipped cream on top), without sugar, which costed me an arm-and-a-leg at RM15++. Considering I just had lunch here for only RM17 . Nice Illy coffee by the way, a bit weak but no complaints.

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Iced Blended Coffee

I saw the famous white-haired guy with white whiskers and his young chesty wife (who gave me a little wave – thrilled 😄 ). They don’t need any introduction, so me no takey pictures.

And also this couple, Yang di-Pertua Negari Sarawak (TYT) and his wife. TYT is the Governor of Sarawak, appointed by The King.

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TYT and Wife

But I really wanted to snap a picture of Their Majesties. I checked with securities if I can take pictures of Their Majesties. The securities gave me some ‘do and don’ts’, then told me to stand at the bend of the red carpet, for the perfect ‘direct line view’ of Their Majesties as they emerge from the lift! After hanging around for 2 hours, I finally captured my Lumix moment!

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Their Majesties (in the middle) flanked by TY and his Wife

They were a lovely down-to-earth couples who shook hands with everyone! All you do is line on the the right if you want to shake hands with them or line up to the left if you want to take pictures of them! I chose to take pictures as momentos for my blog.

Since I am staying at Hilton Kuching, I might give a little run-down about the hotel. I got a room with river view

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Sarawak River

The rooms were a bit tired: Nice hard bed, not lumpy, I slept well. Air conditioning worked. Desk was spacious to scatter all my docs. Mini bar was empty. Tea, coffee and 2 bottles of waters provided. No slippers in room. No turndown service. Bathrooms old and needed refurb. No free wifi, broadband internet access costs RM35++ per day, very expensive (Digi Global Roaming is only RM33++!!) House-keeping have to keep up with vacuuming, I spotted a used candy wrapper on the floor.

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Twin Beds, brown colour scheme – macho-honcho

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Concentrate on your work, mama says ‘No TV watching while working!”

Nothing for the commoner to harp home about, still if The Majesties dropped by, that’s a implied royal seal of approval, right? 😈

Something’s Amiss @ Steakhouse, Hilton Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Visit: July 11 2013

Not sure whether I am alone on this – but, do you get a mixed feeling of guilt + depression – when you stay sedentary the whole day, only shuffling between meetings and eating?   I often do.  And I have been eating sugar-laden food for 2 days in a row! (here and here)

Despite a more than filling lunch  at Bangkok Thai Seafood Restaurant less than 5 hours ago, we still have ample time for dinner since our flight back to The Boo is at 8:20pm.

Our meeting concluded at the Hilton, naturally we thought of having a quick bite  at the hotel’s cafe.  Unfortunately, but the cafe will only open at 6:30pm for the iftar buffet.  So we tried our luck at the Steakhouse, upon enquiry the kitchen was willing to accommodate us for an early dinner at 6pm.  I am pleasantly surprised to find that Steakhouse has been nominated one of Malaysia’s Best Restaurants for 3 years running, from the displays of their awards near the entrance.

This is a small restaurant modestly done.  Clean, no food smell along with  attentive service from the wait staff who made sure that our glasses are never empty.

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Interior

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Awards

First we were given drinks and then offered  complimentary brioche presented in a cup. A perfect break from eating the white spongy ‘mantaos’ from Breadsense which I am getting rather fond of in The Boo.

Speaking of which, I am wanting to cut out all things sweet, white and processed but it is proving to be very hard, especially since sugar creeps up on you – even in their most natural forms in fruits and vegetables.

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Brioche

For my main, I was deciding between a Oven Roasted Barramundi (RM49) or Grilled Salmon (RM57), in the end the fennel salad that was to accompany the salmon won me over.  As I was tucking in my perfectly grilled salmon which  was still pick inside, I thought that something was amiss, I pondered then remembered that there was supposed to be a fennel salad.  I then realised that the kitchen had very cleverly  masqueraded bits of celeries as fennels hidden under the orange segments and olives.  Not wanting to kick a fuss, I sucked up in finishing my course.  The salmon itself was not bad, the bits of oranges, olives and celery imparted a tangy sweetness and earthly taste to the fish.

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Grilled Salmon

While waiting for our bill, we were served house-made petit fours made of corn flakes, white chocolate and coconut butter.

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Petit Fours

The Steakhouse has a good priced $105 4-course set menu which I hope to try in my next visit.

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Set Menu

Opposite the hotel is a waterfront esplanade which is perfect for an evening stroll.

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Esplanade

Before I sign off this post, this is an aerial shot of Kuching before our plane landed this morning.  Kuching is a lovely quaint town, far superior than The Boo in terms of facilities and infrastructure – clean and rather pretty even the lawns by the roadside are manicured!   Since Kuching is only 40mins away, I must plan my next getaway to visit the Bako National Park and Damai Beach.

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Aerial View of Kuching