Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Boat Noodle @ Empire Damansara

9 New Dishes to Tempt You!

Our culinary industry has really been boosted by many international cuisine around the world in this era. With many being able to travel and with let’s not forget the speed and power of social media, the choices of cuisine available in our country is really mind-boggling. I am not complaining, in fact, I am happy as can be as one really need not travel far to get a taste of other cuisines in the world.

When Boat Noodle hit the F&B scene, the founder Mr. Tony Lim, also Executive Director, didn’t expect such a big welcome by Malaysians’ taking a huge interest in boat noodles or kuai tiao ruea. It is certainly not new to our country as these noodles are a national dish in our neighboring country Thailand.

The Thais also shares the same passion as we Malaysians in the food scene. Said to be have been served since 1942 according to Wikipedia, these noodles were served from vendors who lives along the Bangkok canals and uses their boat as their vehicle to travel. It is indeed a challenging task to sell noodles in a boat but I think the Thais have years of practice and has mastered the art of single handedly maneuvering the river currents and whipping up bowls after bowls of noodles.

Getting back to Boat Noodle, the menu started with basics of the boat noodles served in mini proportions. The concept to dare Malaysians on how many bowls of noodles one can eat seemed to have taken the nation by storm. Eager foodies like me would queue in long queues when Boat Noodles first open its first outlet Empire Damansara. As one waited in queue, the aromatic spices of meaty soups are tempting foodies and convincing them it’s worth the wait.

After more than a year, Boat Noodle still has it going for many. Visiting the original outlet in Empire Damansara, the place was still packed. Though the queue is not as long as before, business is still really buzzing. Wait staff scurrying around balancing trays of boat noodles as many are seen eagerly waiting and chatting. The air in the restaurant smells wonderfully comforting. We were here for a taste of their new menu. After months of sorting out the operations of Boat Noodles, this eatery has now grown to a staggering 9 outlets within a year’s operations and is also now able to offer diners more choices of Thai dishes.

As Boat Noodle import quite a fair ingredients from Thailand for authenticity, I was told that quite a few items were not available in their drink menu. I was still pleased though as there is a new beverage of Iced Blended Coconut added to the menu recently. The icy creamy smoothie is pretty amazing with its rich aromatic coconut flavour. It can be filling but I am not complaining… yum!

Before we hit the new dishes, we savored the signature boat noodles of course! Basically there are four variations of boat noodles served with two main soup broths of Pathumthani and Ayutthaya.

If asked to choose between beef or chicken, I seemed to gravitate more towards the beef for its richer and robust beef notes of the beef and its spices. I also prefer the Ayutthaya for its extra creaminess in the broth. I don’t mind the rest as I think they were all good on their own flavours.

A bowl of noodle is barely two mouthfuls but it is indeed fun to see how many bowls can one slurp up! I heard the record of the most bowls of noodles consumed at one go was 77 bowls for men and 74 bowls for women. That’s insane… especially for the women… whoever you both may be, my utter respect and salute to you!

The Pathumthani Beef Thai Rice Noodle (RM1.90) and Ayutthaya Beef Thai Rice Noodle (RM1.90) is a bowl bursting with earthy rich notes of beefy flavours spiced up. The broths are both laced with aromatics such as star anise and cinnamon and one is creamy while the other is not. There is an edge of tangy flavours in the broth as well. The noodles are thin and smooth so slurping them is delicious. There bits of minced beef and half a beef ball in the noodles too. Chopped water spinach stalks and fried garlic added textures.

The Pathumthani Chicken Thai Rice Noodle (RM1.90) and Ayutthaya Chicken Thai Rice Noodle (RM1.90) was also good but the broth was lighter since its chicken. It still has got a good kick of the spices. There are some shredded chicken meat on the noodles together with the water spinach stalks and fried garlic.

Besides slurping bowls after bowls of noodles, one can now order other new dishes such as Thai Popeye’s Tempura (RM6.90), its water spinach leaves or kangkung in a light tempura batter fried till golden and served with Soot-Yot dip. Soot-Yot means awesome and indeed the sauce is pretty fabulous. It’s got a good hit of heat and is lightly tangy and moreish. I love the sauce so much I actually put it on my other dishes.

Next up, Kra-Pow Chicken Rice (RM11.90) is my all-time-favorite Thai comfort food. Its minced chicken stir fried with Thai Basil leaves and is served with rice and fried egg. It’s very common and can be seen almost everywhere in the streets of Thailand. The version here is pretty yum. It has a nice balance of savory flavours but it is the unique basil leaves that makes this dish unique.

I like simplicity in food because flavours tend to be more distinctive from its ingredients. Do try the Bangkok Ommelette with Sood Yot Sauce Rice (RM11.90) as it is a basic dish of fluffy golden ommelette enveloping steamed rice and served with the fabulous spicy piquant Soot-Yot sauce again. Simple but satisfying for me…

The skinny Chicken Wings (RM4.90) that arrive may look a bit sad in portion but it is delicious in flavours. It is well-seasoned and crispy. I didn’t think it needed any sauce and this is great for snacking… now give me 10 bowls of this lah…

Grilled Beef Meat Ball (RM5.90) and Grilled Chicken Meatball (RM4.90) are decent but nothing to shout about. Its good as fillers and great for those who loves meatballs.

Yum Mama (RM8.50), Yum Woon Sen (RM13.00) and Yum Meatball (RM8.90) are three new Thai salads introduced recently. Yum Mama features the classic Thai instant noodles salad studded with chicken sausage, crab sticks, onions and green vegetables dressing in lime dressing. Yum Woon Sen very spicy and has vermicelli noodles tossed with shrimp, crab stick, lots of onions and vegetable in the similar tangy dressing. Yum Meatball has meatball as the main ingredient of the salad in the same tangy dressing.

I really love their Thai Fruit Salad (RM6.90). The fruit salad is super spicy and is a vibrant bowl of fresh fruity flavours. Grapes, cherry tomatoes, corn and peanuts are some of the ingredients in the salad. It was so good, we had to order a second bowl!

If you are hankering for something sweet and light then the new dish of Sangkaya may be your cake. Steamed fluffy bread is served with Boat Noodle’s kaya, a thinner consistency egg custard that the Thais enjoy.

Another Thai dessert available at Boat Noodle is Ka Num Tuay (RM1 for 2 pieces), a lightly sweet and cream custard made from rice flour, coconut milk, pandan leaves and sugar.

It’s a nice touch to introduce more dishes to Boat Noodle fans as I am sure many will appreciate the more variety concept here. Malaysians do love varieties and the more choices the better for us I guess.

Boat Noodle has 9 locations now in Empire Damansara, The School at Jaya One, Ikon Cheras, Berjaya Times Square, Publika, Sutera Mall (JB), Gamuda Walk (Kota Kemuning), Klang Parade and D’Pulze Cyberjaya.

G3A, Heritage Lane,
Empire Damansara,
Damansara Perdana,
47820 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +6019-477 3119 / +6016-330 4762 / +6019-675 6138

Business Hours:
Daily 11.00am till 9.00pm

Monday, May 25, 2015

Dining Hall Western Cuisine @ Bandar Menjalara, Kepong

Hearty Western Fare by Dining Hall

Tucked in an area filled with Chinese cuisine, Dining Hall caught my attention on regular basis since I often pass Bandar Menjalara area frequently. The restaurant is a simple no frill one serving up a mix of western cuisine. Located in a shop lot in the heavy populated business area of Menjalara, Dining Hall caters to Western cuisine lovers from the menu filled with lots of Western classics from salads, pasta to seafood, pork dishes, steaks and more. They also have a full list of beverages from coffee, juices, smoothies and beer.

The restaurant interior is simple and spacious. It is designed with minimal décor and offers diners options to dine in big or small parties. Choose indoor seating or al fresco seating. The restaurant has neat white walls with wood panels on one side and white brick wall on the other side. There are banquette seating and regular seating too. Half globes of yellow lighting are hung over the tables, giving the restaurant a warm and soothing ambience. At the end of the restaurant, one can catch a glimpse of the slight open kitchen space with a big chalkboard showing specials of the day.

I have been to Dining Hall before to celebrate my son’s birthday. The restaurant is quite a popular choice for many diners as each time I pass by, there seems to be a good crowd enjoying their meals there. My earlier visit was also a pleasant one and we love their pork chop and pasta dishes a lot. Service was pleasant that day despite the crowd.

Our drinks of Hot Honey Lemon (RM7.30) and Japanese Cucumber with Sour Plum (RM9.40) arrived. Since there was a light drizzle that evening, the Hot Honey Lemon was perfect to warm me up while the Japanese Cucumber with Sour Plum was refreshing and lightly savory from the sour plums.

We started with Dining Hall Salad (RM17.90), a medley of juicy grilled chicken thigh served with mix greens, radish, cherry tomatoes, konyaku bundles, pine nuts and finished with a plum whole grain mustard dressing. I really enjoyed this salad. The dressing is tangy, lightly sweet and flavourful. Everything worked really well together from the nicely chargrilled chicken thigh to the nuts and even konyaku bundles which added an interesting texture to the salad.

Seafood Marinara (RM30.60) proved to be a good choice with its abundance of prawns, mussels, squid and clam meat cooked in homemade tomato sauce. The tomato sauce is surprisingly fresh with a light heat. I would love it to be more robust and tangy but it’s pretty minor as it’s just my preference. The noodles would be better if it was more al dente but the seafood was fresh and yummy. The dish still marked pretty well for its value as it has a good portion of seafood.

We also had the Char Grilled Norwegian Salmon Steak (RM34.85) and was pretty happy when we saw a nice portion of the fillet beautifully char grilled. Now I am very picky with fish and have always love my salmon cooked medium. I was happy when this one was cooked to my liking. It was still tender and medium cooked and the teriyaki sauce goes really well with the salmon. The tomato salsa served was average only as I would have preferred something more filling if I were to order this main dish. If you love salmon, make sure to order this as it is very good and cooked to my likings.

Grilled Premium Pork Belly Chop (RM38.15 – medium) was definitely the star of the night. I had this before during my son’s birthday celebration and this round was cooked consistently as the last time I had it. The pork belly chop comes in three sizes from small to medium and large so diners can choose the portions to their likings. Obviously it is a signature dish at Dining Hall.

The pork belly chop is beautifully grilled with a nice smoky note. It is super delicious, moist, sweet, and tender with a good bite. It is also beautifully layered with fat and lean meat. The pork is served with pepper sauce for extra heat and with mashed potato and apple salad. A Must-order dish at Dining Hall!

I like the hearty menu at Dining Hall. Two dining experiences there and I was pleased with both. Food is value for money with its quality and portion. Beverage price is slightly above average though. Ambience is simple and casual, perfect for casual dining. I would definitely returned for their Grilled Premium Pork Belly Chop!

No. 53, Jalan 3/62A,
Bandar Menjalara,
52200 Kepong, KL.
Tel: 603 6279 0112

Business Hours: Daily 12noon to 11pm

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Club Med Cherating @ Kuantan, Pahang

Great Family Getaway Part 1 – Room & Board

It’s been a while since I had a getaway, especially with my family. We do occasionally have short day trips but I haven’t had a vacation at somewhere I have never been for a while. Though I love going abroad for vacations, I do always try to discover my own country as much as I can. After all, Malaysia is my home and there is lots of Malaysia to be appreciated and enjoyed. We do often take for granted our own roots and the land we grew up on. I have always heard about Club Med vacations. The closest one to me is Club Med Cherating Beach at Kuantan, Pahang.

Club Med, an international premium all-inclusive holiday resort, is famous for their unforgettable travel experience all over the world. It is the perfect getaway for all as it is a one-stop destination where everything is taken care off and one can simply relax and enjoy all the activities and indulgences available at Club Med. With 80 resorts worldwide, it is a haven getaway perfect for families or couples and friends or solo. Discover some of the most beautiful destinations worldwide with the Club Med Premium All-Inclusive holiday packages available.

The three of us had a short weekend getaway to Club Med Cherating Beach at Kuantan a few weeks ago and the 3D2N trip turned out unexpectedly awesome. Holidays or getaways don’t have to be long, it just has to be enjoyable and well-spent with families. I was excited. It’s my first time visiting Club Med and I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I was aware that they have lots of fun things to do for everyone… from adults to children. 

So early Friday morning, the three of us got up early to catch our flight to Kuantan. Landing at the tiny airport on time but weather was a little gloomy. We were greeted by our road transporter from Club Med which greeted us right away with a smile. A quick load up in the van and we were handed bottles of water immediately. Our journey from the airport to Club Med was estimated about 45 minutes and since there was a light drizzle, it was a pretty nice and cooling leisure ride. My son was excited as I had told him that he was in for a treat at Club Med.

As soon as we reached Club Med Cherating Beach, the weather started to brighten up. Gosh, it was endless acres of greenery. Nature is just gorgeous. As we drive into Club Med, the view of the majestic main building of the locally-inspired architecture was glorious. The building, set with a backdrop of nature greens and blue sky, stood tall and proudly built.

As the sun had started to come out, the sky turns a bright shade of blue and fluffy white clouds are seen floating all over. We arrived and were immediately greeted by a G.O. (Gentil Organisateur), Dany. G.O. is the ambassador of Club Med and he or she is what makes up the spirit of every Club Med. More about the super friendly G.Os to come...

Dany welcomed us warmly and had us seated as he served us our welcome Mocktail drink, iced water and a chilled wet towel. Lovely way to start…

After check-in, we were taken to our room 214 in the Harimau section which is a suite facing the China Sea.

Now prior to going, I was told by friends that the rooms are not as new as other hotels. But then again, Club Med Cherating Beach is one of the oldest Club Med in Asia opened in 1979. When I walked into my room, it was really pretty in an old charm way. It may not be new but it is certainly well-kept and maintained nicely.

The suite is spacious with the living room and bedroom separated by a short section filled with facilities. The living room is nicely decorated with lots of wood and rattan. It exuded a comfy neutral ambience that encouraged guests to relax and unwind. We actually spent more time outside having fun though.

There is also a desk for some work and a little corner table with Nespresso machine for coffee.

There is tv and some board games for entertainment during evenings.

The middle hall space has mini fridge with full stock up mini bar that is complimentary and refillable at all times. There is also tea kettle, extra towels, umbrella, mosquito repellent, robes, slippers, ironing board and iron, mini in-room safe and hair dryer. The free mini bar is such a great inclusion as it feels great to know that we can snack anytime in our room with lots of treats like instant noodles, nuts, chips and sodas.

There are two separate toilets too in this suite.

The bedroom is a four poster king sized bed. What thrilled my little one was the super adorable elephant towel on the bed with some petals nicely arranged on the bed. Since we had a little one, an additional bed can be added.

The bed is nicely firm and comfortable while the pillows are plush and soft. I slept like a baby during my visit there. The room is also very cool with the air-condition system. Despite the heat and humidity outside, our room remained very cool during our stay.

Look who's a happy camper as soon as he saw the bed with the cute elephant!

Our suite main bathroom has a long bath and shower room. Set in neutral colors, the bathroom also has a large mirror. I do have to thank the housekeeping for their efforts in decorating the bathroom with petals and leaves. It certainly brightened up the room and added such a pretty touch to the ambience.

The bathroom amenities include branded toiletries of shampoos, hair conditioner, body shower gel, body lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, shower cap, soap and more.

Walking out to the patio facing the sea, it was a lovely place for some R&R. With constant breeze all day, the sight of plush green lawn and blue azure sea, I find myself lounging there with a book while my little one had his own fun times with my other half.

We took a stroll about the hotel and there were plenty of gorgeous sights of Mother Nature all around.

A hot spot in any Club Med has to be the bar. We found ourselves constantly visiting the bar for free flow juices, sodas, mocktails, cocktails and alcohol. Yes, certain alcohol is complimentary!

Club Med Cherating Beach has two swimming facilities with one general for everyone at the hotel and another one for adults only at Pantai Beach which is only a few minutes away by train. More about the gorgeous swimming pools to come in my next post…

In case one runs out of clothing or certain basic necessities, then visit the Club Med shop to shop. I took a sneak peek at the shop and saw that it was filled with lots of fashion wear and swim wear. The fashion wear consisted of lots of t-shirts and casual designs.

One particular note was the clothes all have the numbers 45 or 88 on them. Further checkings reveals that Club Med celebrated their 45th anniversary back in 1995 and a jersey with the number was designed and well-received by many, hence the 45 number remained throughout the years till now. The number 88 was more geared towards Chinese beliefs as the number 8 signifies wealth.

Beside the shop, there is a casual library filled with books that guests may want to read or simply to laze around.

Walking in further, we saw Club Med’s wellness center manned by Mandara Spa. Beautifully segregated from the main building and it is connected with a long wooden bridge, this is where many can opt for their various wellness spa sessions.

Club Med Cherating Beach has 2 main restaurants Mutiara and Rembulan plus a smaller casual dining Noodle Bar. We dine at Mutiara and the Noodle Bar a lot while we were there as Rembulan was closed for renovations. Find out more about the delicious spread in my next post!

During the first day, we just relax and hang out around the pool. Then we had a lovely dinner buffet and joined the night entertainment at the theater with themed shows performed by the G.Os.

As we headed back into our rooms, our beds were already turned down and the room was already nicely lite up. It was a very good day indeed as we had a good experience enjoying what Club Med Cherating Beach is all about…

Club Med Cherating Beach, tropical paradise set within 80 hectares of protected rainforest, is certified with Green Globe and Earthcheck Silver for Sustainable Tourism. We like how eco-friendly this place is and also found out that Club Med Cherating Beach was named Best Family Resort in Asia by Trip Advisor.

Visit www.clubmed.com.my or www.facebook.com/clubmedmalaysia, or call 03-20531888 (9am-8pm, Mon-Sat including public holidays) for more information.

Stay tune for my next post…

Club Med Packages for May to July 2015

Summer Holiday Specials
4D3N package for Adults from RM1,165, Kids from RM639
Booking Period: 1 May to 30 June 2015
Travel Period: 1 May 2015 to 30 April 2016
Resorts: Cherating Beach, Phuket, Bali, Bintan Island, Guilin, Kani
Note: For Kani, promotion applicable for adults only
(Minimum stay of 3 nights)

Kids Stay Free
4D3N package for Adults from RM1,876
Booking Period: 1 May to 30 June 2015
Travel Period: 1 May 2015 to 30 April 2016
Resorts: Bali, Cherating Beach, Phuket, Bintan Island
(Minimum stay of 3 nights)

Club Med Cherating Beach – Family Nature Fun Event
Event Period: 1 June to 30 July 2015
Book by: 30th June 2015

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