March 27, 2014

Holiday Inn Melaka: Back for Another Cool Weekend Getaway!

Great to be Back at Holiday Inn Melaka…

The journey of life is a circle. We wake up, we do our daily routine of work or school, we come home in the evening to rest before we hit the bed and repeat what we do all over again. Then comes weekend where some of us get some time off from our week day routines. Now normally, weekend is filled with household chores and errands among other duty calls. With all these constantly moving, sometimes we need a break from our daily circle. That’s when vacation calls… long or short, vacations are always much welcome!

Back in 2012, I had a fabulous short weekend stay at the Holiday Inn Melaka. I still remembered vividly how I love the bed and my stay there. A few weekends ago, my family and I head back for another weekend stay. This time, we went with my foodie BFF, Choi Yen and her family. It was a blast since we both had kids around the same age and my D gets along very well with her Sam. Our ride there was all jolly and smooth. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and everything was near perfect except for the hot and humid air.

We arrive and were greeted by much coolness upon stepping into the Holiday Inn Melaka. Set by the waterfront of the Straits of Malacca, there was a light wind together with the sunny weather. Right away, we were handed glasses of chilled drinks. Such a small gesture but makes us feel so welcome and happy right away. A quick wait for check in and another staff offered us a tray filled with chocolate muffins. The kids loved it and I also had one, which was still warm. Our check in was fast and easy and our rooms were ready.

When we were last here 2 years ago, D was much younger but now he is 5 years old and loving every minute of any getaways we do.

As soon as we were done with check-in, we made our way to our rooms. My Standard bedroom was just how it was, like my prior visit. The hotel room is very well kept and everything looks neat and well maintained.

If you have read in my previous visit here, I love the bed and pillows here. You get a choice of soft or firm plump pillows with a firm and plush mattress. This round we got a king-sized bed. My little one was ecstatic. He jumps right on it and started his chill out…

I am reminded how I love the music flowing throughout the room when I turn my television on. Holiday Inn Melaka features a soothing instrumental music on the hotel’s channel and I just love it so much simply because it certainly adds a beautiful touch to my getaway. The room is filled with lots of natural light as our face the waterfront. We get a view of the sea and blue sky plus the long jetty stretching out to the waters.

Our room is equipped with usual television with cable channels, work desk with lamp, electrical outlets, wifi access and phone.

Other room amenities are mini fridge and a mini bar with coffee maker, complimentary water, coffee and tea. I am a fan of Pickwick teas and I was happy to see that the hotel still serves these.

Besides the above, the hanging closet has iron and ironing board, thick waffled bathrobes, hair dryer, mini safe and hotel slippers.

The bathroom features a shower room and the usual bathroom amenities of shampoo, hair conditioner, liquid body soap, body lotion, toothbrush, shower cap, soap, sewing kit and towels. The bathroom is spacious and even has a little glass window between the bathroom and bedroom.

After settling down, we head downstairs for Hi-Tea at Essence Kitchen. The restaurant was pack that day but we had a lovely afternoon savoring yummy BBQ meat and seafood with an array of local and international dishes. I really enjoyed the Satay and Fried Radish Cake here while the Curry Noodles was yummy too.

We head out for a stroll around the hotel and were happy to say that everything looks exactly how it was before. The gym and Tea Tree Spa remains immaculate and well kept. The Tea Tree Spa is spacious and is designed with a serene Zen nature. As I walked through the spa, a sense of familiarity swept over me.

Our spa rooms are in little Balinese inspired huts and despite the sunny hot weather, the room was cool and peaceful. After a leisure massage, we sipped on potent hot ginger tea to sooth our body. I highly recommend a spa session in any vacation. It really makes a big difference… blissfully relax!

We head back to the room for a quick nap on our comfy bed before dinner.

Dinner was at one of my favorite Italian restaurant, Sirocco. Together with a few other guests we had a feast that night. I shall feature our dinner in my next post together with our little escapade to Taming Sari and Melaka River Cruise since it would be too long in this one.

A quick peek in the evening from our window… the scenery was just breathless!

The next morning, we dined at Essence Kitchen again and enjoy their breakfast spread. Essence Kitchen features a wide spread of breakfast such as local must-have Nasi Lemak, Mee Goreng, Porridge, noodles, Roti Canai and more. Western spread was equally lovely with hot crispy hash browns, hotdogs, baked beans, and egg station. Enjoy lots of pastries and bread or simply enjoy fresh fruits with yoghurt and cereals. My little one enjoyed his half-boiled egg and all the juices provided.

As soon as breakfast was done, D just couldn’t wait to get into the pool. Who could blame him? Gorgeous blue sky with bits of fluffy clouds blends in beautifully with the blue waters of the pool. We met up with Choi Yen and her family there and the kids had an awesome time. The rectangle pool is designed to showcase the illusion of an infinity view spanning all the way to meet the horizon of the blue sea water. It’s just pure mesmerizing at any time of the day…

While our kids and other half enjoy the waters, me and Choi Yen… we just put up our feet and enjoy this view! Isn’t it gorgeous?

As usual, we hesitated on checking out… our weekend getaway is just too short. We plan to come back for a longer one. I do have to say I am very pleased at how well Holiday Inn Melaka maintains the overall hotel and service. After two years, everything remains just as it was before. Recently, Holiday Inn Melaka was also awarded The Best 4-Star City Hotel in Malaysia by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia for 2-consecutive years in a row and 2014 Travelers’ Choice award by Well-deserved awards as the hotel staff was always full of smiles when I was there!

Stay tune for my Sirocco dinner coming right up…

Holiday Inn Melaka
Jalan Syed Ab. Aziz
75000, Melaka
Toll Free: 1 800 801 881
Tel: +606 285 9000
Fax: +606 285 9111

*More photos available in my Facebook: Chasing Food Dreams

March 19, 2014

Paradise Dynasty, Bangsar Village 2: Back for Fortune Pot and 8 Flavours of Xiao Long Bao!

The Opulent Poon Choi is now Available All-Year Round!

It’s a much talk-about one glorious lavish pot of ingredients, used to be savored only if not probably once a year. Today, it’s different due to the demand of foodies that this glamorous pot of land and sea treasures be made available. Not many restaurants offer this fortune pot all year but when one is craving for this, at least one doesn’t have to wait a whole year to enjoy this now.  After all, we celebrate precious moments every day and as Malaysians, what better way to celebrate any occasion than to indulge in our favorite pastime of eating?

I am glad to be back at Paradise Dynasty, a restaurant famous for their signature 8 flavours Xiao Long Bao under the Paradise Group. The restaurant is one of my favorite places to satisfy my likings of dumplings, pastries and La Mian. Read about my first visit here. Recently, Paradise Dynasty opens its second outlet in Bangsar Village 2. Echoing its original outlet, the second outlet oozes with the same exquisiteness and elegance of its original.

I always feel the open kitchen upfront of a restaurant is a brilliant concept. It never fails to entice my appetite when I see food being whipped up in front of me, especially when I am not even hungry. The Oriental themed interior exudes Zen ambience the moment one walks in. The interior is dressed in a lot of dark wood but cleverly incorporates glass and half globe crystals to bring in a beautiful edge to the Oriental cum contemporary ambience. Gray terracotta tiles, wood panels and soft glow of lights etching a design around the restaurant are harmonious and tastefully executed. This outlet also has two private dining rooms for private functions.

We are here on a mission, a Fortune Pot mission. Paradise Dynasty had been offering their Poon Choi or Paradise Fortune Pot during the Chinese New Year festive with many enjoying it at the restaurant or as takeaway. With much demand, the Paradise Fortune Pot is now available all year through with a pre-booking of 2 days in advance due to the complexity of the ingredients and preparation. Available in two sizes, regular feeds 4 -6 pax while large feeds 8 – 10 pax.

Our Paradise Fortune Pot is filled with 16 ingredients. Ranging from the highly prized Abalone to Scallops, Goose Feet, Sea Cucumber, Crystal Prawns, Fish Maw, Dried Oysters, Chicken and more, it is a feast fit for a king’s ransom. Almost all the ingredients are braised in the savory rich brown sauce. The sauce has a refine flavor and is not overwhelming. The ingredients are nicely braised with some lending a nice firm texture while others are soft and silky smooth.

If you’re looking for a feast with a conversation piece, the Fortune Pot is it. Hearty, lavish, luscious and pampering, it’s a dish to impress anyone. Another great part of the Fortune Pot, sharing it with lots of company… great food is always meant to be shared!

In the Fortune Pot lies all the luscious gravy and it is recommended to order the Steamed or Deep Fried Silver Buns to mop up the sauce in all its full glory.

Besides the Poon Choi, we must have some signatures of Paradise Dynasty. And there is no better way than to indulge in Paradise Dynasty’s all-star 8 flavour Xiao Long Bao. For those who had not had a taste yet, Paradise Dynasty serves up 7 twists on the original Xiao Long Bao. The dumplings are just so pretty to look at and the consistency is there as I have had this many times at the restaurant. The subtle hints of Foie Gras, Black Truffle, Cheese, Garlic, Szechuan, Ginseng and Crab Roe makes it an enjoyable and exciting experience while the original will always be an all-time favorite.

A little sliver of fresh ginger, a dash of black vinegar with soy sauce completes the famous Shanghainese dumpling. Some of the flavours do not even need it as the vinegar may overpower it. I like the dainty 18-folds on each dumpling, all hand crafted in the open kitchen.

Soup, as always, is a must in a Chinese meal. Our Wantan Soup with Bamboo Shoot & Vegetable sounds fairly simple but flavours are really delicious. The restaurant makes great broths with beautiful flavours and that alone is already a winning one. That said, the plump wantan is good with the crisp bamboo pith and tender bok choy.

Poached Chicken in Szechuan Style is a gutsy dish with bold flavours. The Chinese name for this dish is literally translated to Saliva Chicken, aiming to make diners salivate upon a taste of the spicy tongue-numbing sauce in the dish. Chilled tender poached chicken is pumped up with the unctuous and heady spicy sauce with a liberal sprinkling of crushed peanuts and scallion. It’s a great dish to whet one’s appetite.

Another classic Szechuan dish is the Deep Fried Chicken in Szechuan Style. Though not as spicy as the earlier one, this one still packs loads of punchy spicy notes. Crispy boneless chicken is perfumed with lots of dried chili to give it its aromatic distinctive Szechuan flavour. Love this and I can never get enough of this…

We also enjoyed Sauteed Beef with Assorted Mushroom. Tender thin slice beef makes a lovely meal with mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and leeks. The black bean sauce is savory and goes really well with a bowl of white rice.

I had raved about the Radish Pastry before and I will rave about it again here. Yes, some may think I have gone berserk as it’s a pastry encasing radish but this is so perfectly executed that I order it whenever I am at Paradise Dynasty. The pastry is just so buttery and flaky, melting at the very first contact of my mouth. The sweet julienned radish is cooked till juicy and luscious, making a perfect balance of sweetness and savory in the pastry.

I am selfish when it comes to this dish… I am reluctant to share this dish…

We were told it will be on the menu soon, Baked Water Prawns with Garlic & Butter, artistically arranged to represent the feathers of a peacock. Large fresh water prawns are cooked beautifully with a creamy butter and garlicky sauce. Its aromatic, its juicy, its succulent and it is so buttery.

The garlic is not overpowering but is very well controlled to give one enough garlic essence. The prawns are just so sweet and the head of the prawns are an ultimate sin on its own with the presence of creamy roes. This dish stole the hearts of many that night. To be safe, you may want to check in advance if they have it or order it in advance. Crustacean lovers, you do not want to miss this dish.

The night had to end and it did with desserts. Paradise Dynasty showcases their classics of Pan Fried Pumpkin Pastry, Souffle Egg White with Red Bean & Banana, Almond and Mango Pudding.

The Pan Fried Pumpkin Pastry resembles the classic sticky chewy Nian Gao but with a nice sweet pumpkin flavour. The Souffle Egg White with Red Bean & Banana is very light and sweet, perfect for a light ending.

I like puddings, especially when they are well made. While the Almond if enjoyable, the Mango Pudding is my favorite with its creamy milky and sweet ripe mango flavour.

A feast indeed, Paradise Dynasty lives up to its name for a food paradise with a touch of elegance.

Lot2F-17, Level 2,
Bangsar Village 2
Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2201 7022

*More photos available at my Facebook: Chasing Food Dreams