November 30, 2010

Sea Terrace, Melaka…a little pricey lip smackingly delicious portuguese seafood

This is a MUST GO place in Melaka for good old-fashioned good cooking. Delicious and fresh. The sambal (chili sauce) here is simply lip smackingly delicious, regardless if you cook fish, prawns, otah in it.

All the times I’ve been to this sea-side restaurant in the Portugese Settlement, it is always crowded and packed with people. So, the strategy is to go very early, like 6pm.

The prices were reasonable a couple of years ago but has moved up considerably nowadays. This is still the true truth because I am still saying it as it is…

November 23, 2010

Kedai Minuman Siang Chiang, Melaka…unforgettable best butter kaya toast I’ve had. Ever!

Filed under: Cafe, Food & Beverage, Malaysia — Tags: , , , , — PEr @ 4:32 pm

Kaya, a bread spread (caramelized coconut egg jam), on toast is practically a national breakfast in Malaysia and Singapore since time in memorial. Combination of butter and kaya spreads is known locally in Melaka as kahwin.

Siang Chiang is one of the authentic, heritage-feel kopitiams in Melaka. This place is very busy in the morning and getting a seat can be difficult but most diners think nothing of sharing their tables with newcomers.

The folks at Siang Chiang understands that kaya is best savored on freshly toasted bread, hence a generous amount of pleasantly sweet  kaya is slathered, along with thin mini-slabs of butter which is embedded at appropriate intervals to add  richness. The toast is so airy, light and crunchy and you can feel the kaya and butter oozing in your mouth with every bite.

Unforgettable best describes the kaya toast here. It is an icon. This is the true truth and I am still saying it as it is…

November 22, 2010

Hup Huat Restaurant, Melaka…delicious claypot porridge, steamed chicken and the addictive crispy deep-fried prawn wantons

This is my favorite place in Melaka for some simple and mouth-watering porridge which is generously filled with century egg, pig stomachs,dried squid & lean meat. The taste is just unbelievably delicious. The porridge is rich and thick, served in a heated claypot which kept it warm till the very last scoop.

It goes nicely with the steamed Chicken with Oyster Sauce and the deep-fried crispy prawn wantons. The steamed chicken’s texture was smooth and they are way better than those served at the overly commercialized and overrated chicken rice ball restaurants at Jonker Street. The House Specialty – the deep-fried crispy prawn wantons – the fresh sweetness of the whole prawn wrapped in wanton skin and deep fried to golden brown was evident with every bite. To me, this is certainly the creme de la creme. They are addictive, so be forewarned.

This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

November 21, 2010

IT Roo, Johor Baru…I’ve had better chicken chop

“The best Chicken Chop in town”  the tagline read. That’s arguable. I’ve had better ones.

This humble shop is a walk down memory lane for me with its cool traditional ambience. Simple chairs and tables placed near to each other creating a cramped feel. Very simple decor with pics of JB of old (1950’s-1970’s) hanging on the wall.

The Award-winning chicken chop (awarded by The Star 2003) was first on the extensive menu which offers a range of Western and local dishes. Owned by a Hainanese owner and operated by 4 Malay ladies, the food here are all halal. The succulent chicken fillet is well cooked, fresh and topped with either mushroom sauce or black pepper sauce. You have a choice of breaded or grilled chicken chop.

Footnote: there are some other great food in JB but if you are tired of them all or if you are dying for some western food, then check IT Roo out. This is the true truth because I say it as it is…

November 20, 2010

Kinnaree Gourmet Thai Restaurant & Bar, Bangkok…Gourmet? Fine dining? Humbug!

Their website says, “Kinnaree Gourmet Thai Restaurant and Bar is a fine dining experience of Modern Thai Cuisine”. I say, “Humbug!”

This is about the only “fine dining” restaurant that has no cutleries for some diners on the table. Someone must have forgotten to tell the chef that tom yum is a soup best served really hot! (not lukewarm). I think this restaurant is still learning customer service, but this does not make them a bad restaurant. You get a certain level of (lack of) attentiveness, though I have to admit that they were all very friendly and polite.

Most frustrating of all, was the agonizingly long wait times for our food to arrive. Time seems to pass at an excruciatingly slow pace when you’re hungry and waiting for your dinner.

Ambience is great though and food is nice but now “wow” nice. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

November 19, 2010

MK Restaurant, Bangkok…service is fast and food is cheap. You must try the roasted duck!

MK is a suki/hotpot chain of restaurants and it is my favourite. It is quite like Coca, but not as commercialised as Coca. Each time I visit Bangkok, I never miss going to MK. I am a huge fan.

The soup base is absolutely delicious. Service is fast (as you’re ordering, the waitress will be keying everything into her hand-held PDA, so the kitchen is already preparing your order) and the food is cheap. The chilli sauce used as dips is a special recipe of the restaurant and is awesome! You must try the roasted duck! Meat was tender and well seasoned. The sauce really complimented the dish. Not forgetting the green noodles – simply delicious!!!

When I had lunch at the Centara Central World outlet in last month, disco-like music was turned on all of a sudden and  all the staff came out dancing in between of the tables. I thought it was pretty amusing.

This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

November 17, 2010

Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok…elegant, resort-like

The Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok , which is adjacent to the Siam Paragon mall, is an elegant, resort-like hotel. Modern Thai aesthetics dominate the dramatic marble lobby which features two spiral staircases and a fountain. The rooms that I seen are contemporary and stylish and look onto large tropical landscaped gardens with extensive water features.

I had dinner at Brasserie Europa, their restaurant which offers pan-European dishes ( like the hearty homemade tagliatelle with porcini ragout and the duck leg confit) in ambient surroundings.

To top off this amazing building, the Director of Sales & Marketing, Jee Hoong, is an equally amazing personality, always ready-to-please and very customer-centric. This is the true truth because I say it as it is…

November 13, 2010

Ban Khun Mae, Bangkok…this is a gem

Ban Khun Mae, which means “My Mother’s House” serves excellent authentic Thai cuisine. This place is a very charming, medium-sized, traditional Thai restaurant with relatively low prices. The mood is peaceful and relaxed although it is very centred in the more bustling part of Siam Square, not too far from Siam Paragon and MBK.

The menu is extensive but I selected traditional Thai dishes to sample the true flavor of the restaurant. I was not disappointed. From the tom yam goong to the chicken in galangal coconut milk soup and khung sa oug (a plate of sweet and silky raw shrimp delightfully balanced with chili and garlic)  every dish was exceptional.

The service, too, was right on the money. This is a gem. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

November 12, 2010

Sheraton Frankfurt Hotel & Towers Conference Centre…5-star prices for a 2-star product

Filed under: Germany, hotel, Travel — Tags: , , , , , — PEr @ 8:43 pm

The hotel is located just over the pedestrian walkway from the airport which is great if you’re just there for an overnight layover like I was. It connects to the train station for a quick trip into town.

While it is conveniently located to the airport, which is a plus, the quality leaves a lot to be desired. The hotel is on the expensive side for the quality of the rooms and the hallways. I could not get the phone in the room to work and repeated calls for help were not answered. The room was very dated and the towels in the bathroom were probably placed in service 3 eternities ago. (see photo)

Due to its convenient location I can recommend it if you are tired and want to get to the hotel quickly. However, if you have the time a different hotel would be a lot better. This is still the true truth, because I am still saying it as it is…

November 7, 2010

Russian visa…have someone who reads Russian check your visa. Will save you money, stress and time.

I now have something in common with William Browder (CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, the largest foreign investor in the Russian stock market and the adviser to the award-winning Hermitage Fund), Michel Jean Legrand (French Oscar-winning composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist, famous for conducting the music for Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and the Dalai Lama (Tibet’s spiritual leader). We have all been refused entry into Russia.

If you’re traveling to Russia, you will most likely need a Russian visa. Many people think that it’s super complicated but it’s not true. However, when you get your visa it is necessary to check all information….even though everything is in Russian. You can’t imagine how much money, stress and time you can save by doing just that.

I got my Russian visa in the Russian consulate in Singapore. The error they made was they indicated my nationality as “Singaporean” on my Malaysian passport though I had completed the application form correctly.

I was denied entry when I arrived at passport control in Domodedovo airport in Moscow. They brought me to the consular office where the officer cancelled my visa and re-issued me a new one for US$10. The error he made was that he issued me a single-entry visa instead of a double-entry one which I had originally paid for and obtained in Singapore. Double-whammy. Once again, everything was written in  Russian and I couldn’t understand even if I checked.

A week later, when I boarded a  train in Helsinki at 6.30pm heading to Moscow. Four hours into the journey, when we’d passed the Russian border, customs and immigration officials came on board the train and found that my visa was not valid. Being a single-entry visa, meant that my visa had been used up when I left Moscow the week before. I was asked to disembark from the train at Vyborg, a Russian town, 38 kilometers south from the Russian border with Finland at 11.45pm near midnight. There I was instructed to wait for a taxi on the roadside and leave Russia.

I got into a taxi after almost an hour’s wait and was driven to the checkpoint on the Russian-Finnish frontier. I’ve got to be honest…the movie “Hostel” did flashed through my mind at this point as we shuttled down gravely silent, dark and deserted countryside road for over 40 minutes. The Russian officials at the checkpoint stopped a passing car and instructed the lone driver to fetch me to wherever he was going. I climbed into his car and went with him to Lappeenranta – a Finnish city some 25km from the checkpoint. The driver, Vesa is a big blond Finn who drives a Mercedes Benz ASF959, has a heart of gold. He dropped me at a hotel called Cumulus at 3.00am  and offered to pick me up the next day to Helsinki if I needed a ride.

However, I managed to get a flight on Air Baltic flight BT1384 from Lappenranta to Riga, Latvia at 0745hours and then onwards to Frankfurt on Air Baltic flight BT241 at 1305hours.

Those couple of errors on my visa, resulted in denial of my entry and totally screwed up my  plans. Therefore it is helpful to have someone who reads Russian check your visa prior to your departure from your home country.

Oh by the way, there apart from the visa lesson, a few other things I learned from this adventure:

1. Never again shall I train in this Orient Express (not. More like Ordeal Express)  from Helsinki to Moscow. The food is pathetic and the sleeping cabins are fully remote control….that is I can do everything from my bed (see photo)

2. I now know that Lappeenranta’s airport is the oldest airport in Finland.

This is the true truth and I say it as it is…

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