Friday, September 28, 2007

Potter mania over

From Savage Chickens.

I have officially finished reading the entire Harry Potter series...hoorah! Lordy the characters, they were dropping dead like flies in this book! Rowling obviously has no regard for the rules of fiction when it comes to killing off characters. Overall, it was quite a good end to the series, although I found the epilogue kind of lame.

And now I need to buy the the Half Blood Prince and read it again because I couldn't remember what happened previously.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

London eats

Not a bite of fish & chips or typical English food!


First dinner in London, and I have...chicken ramen. In my defence, I wasn't looking for something fancy, but wanted something at a reasonable price, and it had been pointed out to me as a place that was fairly popular with the people in my office. Plus I didn't want to stay out too late as I had only just arrived and wanted to get an early night in.

Wagamama appears to be a chain of noodle restaurants, and while I like how it's done up quite trendily, I wasn't too impressed with what I picked. The soup was way too salty, and not very tasty. Actually, I had forgotten there was a Gourmet Burger Kitchen a little further down the road; I should have gone there instead.

10 Red Lion St, Richmond
The people in the London office love this restaurant, so every time they get visitors, they use it as an excuse to go to Matsuba for lunch. Hooray company accounts! My colleague thinks it's the best Japanese restaurant in London. It would have been nice to have tried some typical pub fare, but I'll never say no to Japanese food! We picked the special bento box, which consisted of sashimi, sushi, teriyaki chicken, tempura along with the usual accoutrements of a fresh salad, miso soup, rice, pickles, and finished off with some slices of orange. It was very substantial and yummy!

Four Seasons
84 Queensway, W2 3RL

I'd long heard of Four Seasons before going to London, and here I show my 'suaku-ness' by stating that when I heard people talk about the divine Four Seasons duck, I had always thought they meant the Four Seasons hotel. Quite obviously, it is not.

At first, I thought, "I'm not going all the way to London to eat Chinese food!" But my dad was so insistent about me going to try it, that he devoted one whole email giving me detailed directions on how to get there and describing the duck, that I felt I couldn't very well let his efforts go to waste. Having heard that there are always long queues to get a table, I made a booking. I have heard that making a booking doesn't guarantee you'll get your table straightaway, so was pleasantly surprised to find that we waited barely 5 min before we were ushered to our table.

Since there was only 2 of us and we couldn't eat too much, we got individual portions of the duck, some kai lan and deep friend prawns coated in a 'ham dan' (salted egg) batter, a recommendation from the waitress. I am so glad I went to Four Seasons because the duck was really all that - tender, juicy and swimming in a wonderfully tasty sauce - in a word, absolutely 'shiok'. I can see why people da-pao the duck back home to S'pore. The prawns were also fantastic, crunchy and with the nice salty taste to it. I just wish there were more of us so we could order more dishes.

Total: about 32 pounds

Chez Gerard
8 Charlotte St
This restaurant claims to have the "best steak frites this side of Paris", and while I can't say whether that is true, I can say it was a pleasure dining there. T and I got a cosy booth in the corner near the doorway and were tended to by a cute French waiter.We started off with a very satisfying warm goat cheese salad and for mains, I had the steak frites in the feather blade cut. The steak was good, but the frites unfortunately were what is best described as ‘nua’ – limp and stodgy, as if they had been sitting out of the fryer for a long time. Oh well, it can't be all perfect.

Shanghai Blues
193-197 High Holborn St
The only reason why I ate at this chi-chi looking Chinese restaurant is because T works here. She said dinner wasn't really worth eating at, since it was really just typical 'tze char' at exorbitant prices, but she highly recommended the dim sum. So for my last meal in London, I had dim sum for lunch.

To me, the test of a good dim sum place is the har gau (prawn dumpling). The skin cannot be too thick and the prawn must be crunchy and fresh. Shanghai Blues certainly demonstrated that it isn't just some gimmicky stylish Chinese restaurant with poor interpretations of Chinese food. We also had:
  • Supreme Shanghai seafood dumplings, a very refined version of xiao long pau, with a fantastic broth
  • Char siew pau
  • Seafood rolls with mango dipping sauce, highly recommended
  • Mooli croissant, absolutely divine turnip puff pastry which melted in the mouth
  • King prawn and Chinese chive cheung fun, a bit of a disappointment given the quality of the other dishes, but not altogether bad
  • Mini egg tarts, bite-sized and came with cubes of raspberry jelly rolled in coconut
...and all washed down with a light and delicate Longjing tea served in very genteel tiny Chinese cups.

Total spent: about 10 pounds per person

I also recommend going to Shanghai Blues for a drink. There's a bar area you can sit at and order cocktails. When I went there on Fri night to meet T after she got off work, I was given a mangosteen & lychee mojito to try. Yumminess!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This September, I am into...

Collaging is harder than it looks!

Eating: Macarons from Laduree bought at Harrods, mooncake, mooncake and more mooncake (especially those from Raffles Hotel!)
Listening: Pink Martini, Dean Martin, Stacey Kent
Reading (or re-reading): Vanity Fair, Nehemiah, Great interviews of the 20th century
Wearing: Long white cardigan, silver glitter flats from Vincci
Playing:, Facebook
Travelling: London, KL

On another note, I've been beeesy as a bee, hence the big gap in between posts.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pigging out in KL

Before I gabble on about London, I'm going to show some places I ate at during my little weekend jaunt to KL a couple of weekends ago. Going to KL always means 2 things for me (apart from visiting my dad): eating and shopping. I have a little list of die-die-must-go places, which include Oversea restaurant at Jln Imbi and Cilantro. This time round, I opted to try some new places, as well as mix in the oldies but goodies.

Market Place Restaurant & Lounge
4A Lorong Yap Kwan Seng, Off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

This is a place I would never have found if my dad hadn't brought me. It's a bar/restaurant in a spacious bungalow tucked in a little corner not too far from KLCC. It's a relatively new place, having been around for about 9 months, and unfortunately it doesn't seem like it's doing too well. On a Friday night, my dad and I looked like the only patrons, and when we left, we only saw another couple at the bar. The place is really big, with a new garden for the bbq and a nice upstairs area. Actually, I think it's the perfect party place.

For starters, we had the mushroom soup, which although delicious, was a tad salty and came in such a teeny little portion. Mains was steak and chicken from the bbq menu, and while we thought the steak was lovely and tender, the chicken was quite a disappointment, since it was the manager's recommendation. I liked that we could help ourselves to the salad, which was located outside next to the bbq grill, and I could help myself to as much greens, potato salad and pasta salad as I wanted.

While I was really impressed by the service (we each got a copy of a lounge music CD!) and had a saxophonist serenade us and really like the atmosphere of the place, I really can't in all honesty say the food is anything special. It's not bad, but not fantastic either. That's why for dessert, we headed over to...

Alexis Bistro & Wine Bar
Great Eastern Mall, 303 Jln Ampang

My dad's quite a regular at this place, and he likes to come here for dessert, some drinks and listen to the live jazz. (He says the food at the bistro is so-so). They had a very nice display of cakes, and it took me a while to select the tiramisu cake. I loved it! It had all the textures: crunchy, creamy, spongy, chocolatey and wasn't as heavy as a traditional tiramisu. The raspberry puree at the side was an interesting touch, and actually went quite well with the cake. It was the perfect end to the night, what with a yummy cake in my tummy, and the grooves of Marvin Gaye and Eric Clapton played by a visiting Brit band.

Ah Koong's Seafood
Jln Pudu, behind Berjaya Times Square

This is one of my must-go places when I visit KL. I guess it's best described as a yong tau foo kind of place, where you pick up a bowl and select your noodles, (I always pick bee tai mak, or loh shee fun), seafood like fresh prawns, pomfret, oysters, hum, abalone, and other goodies like deep-fried fishcake, eggplant, fresh tofu, stuffed ladies fingers and more. My eyes are always bigger than my stomach and I always tend to pick more than I can eat. They then serve it up in a tasty broth with fishballs, garlic chips and chinese parsley. The combination of fresh oysters, pomfret and abalone are to die for! As a bonus, the place is air-conditioned as well, so you don't have to sweat it out while sitting along the roadside.

Ming Room
Bangsar Shopping Centre

The whole purpose of my going to KL was to attend a friend's wedding. The main ceremony was held in Australia, but since I couldn't make it there, I decided to attend their second dinner. I'd heard quite a lot about Ming Room and how good the food was, so was pleased that I'd finally get to try it. The food definitely didn't disappoint; almost everything we had was delicious! I'm definitely going back there next time I visit KL.

As for shopping, there wasn't much time for that, but I did manage to go to Bangsar Village II, which I've heard is the new 'it' place to go. The shopping there is pretty good, and there are a few little boutiques with nice things, and I was very happy to discover a 'high-class' Vincci, where I bought 2 pairs of shoes. Whee!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

London calling

In case you're wondering whether I've disappeared off the face of this earth, I haven't. I'm just in another continent - in London, land of tea. The trip was made quite hurriedly, and I didn't have much time to plan things to do, but I guess it doesn't really matter as it's a really short one. I got in early Wed morning (London time) and will be leaving Sat evening.

This trip is being sponsored by our London office, and I'm really impressed how generous they're being. They flew me in on Business class on BA, and are putting me up at this gorgeous hotel.

The view of the River Thames from the breakfast room

I think I came at the right time too. The weather is mild and pleasant and it's been sunny the last 2 days I've been here (fingers crossed it'll keep until I leave!). The area where the office is located is in a beautiful part of London, situated right by the river Thames. It feels like I'm in the country!

It's like being out in the country!

The only downside is that I'm quite far from central London, which means a 1 hour tube ride. I'm supposed to meet T and P tomorrow to go out parteeing, and I'm still trying to decide if I should bunk over either of them or take the last tube or night bus back to my hotel. I'd prefer to go back, only cos I get to have breakfast overlooking the marvellous view, and also I don't have to worry about rushing back to make the 12 noon checkout time. Hmm decisions decisions.

In the meantime, I'm setting up my tummy for dinner tonight. We're going to eat the famour Four Seasons duck! :)