Friday, December 24, 2010

The Red Victorian Bar/Bistro

Situated just around the corner from Havana on Changkat Butik Bintang,opposite the Chinese Temple,The Red Victorian has been open for a couple of weeks now.
It's a Bar/Bistro with a rustic/simple feel to it.
It's always good to see new places opening-and even if I don't like them,I always wish them well.
The Red Victorian (yes,it is painted red) is going to need to do something a bit special in order to attract a good crowd and I'm not really sure what that will be.
The only draft beer they sell is that disgusting Starker/Jaz. I don't think I need tell you how bad that is.
Bottled Beers are available at around RM15.
The food menu is nothing to shout about and is a bit "so what"..It's also fairly limited in choice.
There is the compulsory Pasta section that every restaurant in KL seems to offer and then one beef dish.a chicken and a fish etc etc...
It's like they're offering something of everything but don't really have an identity or uniqueness.
I think they're trying to recreate a relaxed,casual atmosphere.The furniture is functional but the outside seats are those horrid Starbucks style steel chairs that cut-off blood circulation to your legs.
And because there is so much competition on the street they will have to do something a bit special to get bums-on-seats.
At the moment it looks like only the owners friends go there...maybe that will change over time.
As I said,I wish them well but I don't see a reason to spend any money here yet.

UPDATE 20/3/11
The Red Victorian is now under new management.
The people at Gypsy Bar have now assumed the managerial role at the Red Victorian.
Gone is that disgusting Starker Beer to be replaced with a mug of Tiger at RM 10 net-probably the best value for money around Chankgat Bukit Bintang at the moment.
There have been changes to the menu, it's still fairly limited but has a few interesting items (Spanish Sausage and stuff like that).
When I dropped-by it was still fairly quite but seemed to be picking-up a little.
Knowing how successful Gypsy Bar has become,compared to what was there before (Hemingways) then maybe in a few months Red Victorian will be full!
Anyway, Good Luck to them!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Xmas Lights at Pavilion Shopping Mall (part II)

I had to go back to Pavilion at night to see what the Xmas lights looked like....not as impressive or tacky as I thought they would be....But...
What has happened to Bukit Bintang?
I've always thought it was a bit tacky at night with all the foot-massage places,pimps and taxi-drivers touting for business as I've mentioned before but take a walk between Pavilion and Lot 10 on the side of the street with all the Middle Eastern restaurants and you'd be amazed at how grubby,tasteless and depressing it has become...there's a row of of Middle Eastern beggars with their children and a few touts selling fake and/or stolen watches.handphones and's like a mini-thieves market.
Now,as all this happens on Kuala Lumpur's main shopping street right next to the Millennium Hotel I can only assume that the authorities are aware of it and let it carry-on to provide a service to tourists,as they think that it's what tourists want to see....

You get that real third-world experience on Bukit Bintang of finding High-end expensive fashion like Gucci and Hermes shops right next to a guy sitting on the pavement selling fake watches.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nyonya Curry Laksa @ Precious Restaurant,Central Market Kuala Lumpur

I have generally avoided noodle-soup type dishes in the past,not because I don't like them but because I can't eat the bloody things as my chopstick skills are not sufficiently developed to grasp the slippery noodles.
I end up wearing more food than I've eaten and get really sulky and ratty!
However,on a recent visit to the tacky Central Market I stumbled across Precious Nyonya Restaurant,on the first floor at the front of the building and for a change I ordered a bowl of Nonya Curry Laksa.
It was gorgeous!
And I ditched the twig-technology of chopsticks and used a fairly modern invention of a fork and spoon and was able to eat the dish and not wear it.
The restaurant was a real discovery for me...There are very,very few places in town where you can get good Malay or Nyonya food ( a sort of hybrid Malay/Chinese cuisine) and to find this restaurant right in the heart of the tourist belt was surprising in that a) The food was great and b) It was patronised by many locals,so you knew it was not just serving bland crappy food to tourists who don't know any better.
The decor was interesting with old antique furniture,the service was average,the prices were OK but the food....yeah! the food was great!
A good friend of mine used to rave about Curry Laksa in Singapore and I never tried it because I knew I couldn't master the skills to eat it's taken me 10 years to try it....what a waste...Nyonya Curry Laksa is a bowl of coconut flavoured curry soup with noodles,bean sprouts,tofu, fish balls,prawns and a hard-boiled egg and a few green beans floating on top.
What makes it fantastic is the flavour and smell of the curry sauce.
I can't recommend this highly enough and I want another bowl...right now....
You can find many Laksa dishes in the foodcourts of most shopping malls....but it will not taste anywhere near as good as this.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show 2010

The last time KL held a Motor Show was about 5 years ago...I can remember being amazed by the way the public were allowed to get up close and personal to the cars on show and how many cars were covered in greasy,sticky finger-prints....and how many guys pretended to take a snap of a car but accidentally pan left and take a picture of the glamour-model posing next to the car instead.
So,five years later,what's changed is that most cars were displayed behind red-rope and you had to ask to sit in them...It was a little more sedate and well-behaved than previous and although the newspaper said that 28.000 people attended on the opening day,it didn't feel like it.
The show was mainly a vehicle(pun intended) for local companies and their international marques....there was no Alfa,Bentley,Bugatti,BMW,Citroen,Ford,Jaguar,Land Rover,Mercedes,Porsche,Renault,Volvo or even Volkswagen present...Indeed Volkswagen chose to launch their new cars at a street party on Changkat Bukit Bintang a month earlier rather than attend an International Motor Show.
What you got was Proton and their Lotus offshoots and Perodua,Hyundai,Kia,Honda and Toyota as well as Naza and their branded Peugeot's and their exotic brands of Maserati,Ferrari,Aston Martin and the only new Rolls Royce Silver Cloud in the country,a really ugly brute of a car by the way,as well as their bike-brands of Harley Davidson,Ducati,Apprila and Vespa(!)
Interesting to note that although there were some hot,cute and even elegant female models posing with the cars that Naza's exotic and expensive section had a a guy standing there,as if to say "We don't want to lower our brand by having girls drape themselves over it"
Admission was RM15 and it took about 90 minutes to slowly wander around the 4 exhibition halls.
It was a bit disappointing,I was expecting more marques but it was OK-ish
Of the 100 or so cars on display I would think that at least half of them were not real....they were design concepts or Work-in-Progress-not yet available,like the new Lotus Elite.
It would have been nice to see a few racing cars and some classic/vintage models.
If you want to drop-by,it's held at the PWTC
until 12th Dec.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Healy Macs Changkat Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur

Healy Macs has been open for about a year and I must say that when it first opened I was fairly non-plussed about it....yet another Irish Bar in KL....It was all a bit predictable and delivered exactly what you would expect...
I'd drop by on a very infrequent basis,mainly to watch late-night F1 races (Canada and Brazil) or some very disappointing World Cup clashes (England v Germany;which surprisingly my German friend rather enjoyed-can't think why....)
However,I've got to say that after spending a very enjoyable Monday night there that I'm quite impressed with the place!
And not just because the quiz team I was with won 10 free beers-although that was a bonus!
I think that the secret to Healy Macs is that, pure-and-simple.. it's an honest-to-goodness Pub.
Not pretentious in any way. Not full of posers or wanna-be gangstas.
Just full of people enjoying the beer,the food and the atmosphere,or "craig" as it's called in Ireland.
The staff are friendly,well-trained and attentive without being pushy and you don't have to shout for service.
I still think that the beer is a bit pricey at RM 11.50 ++ for a mug of Tiger but at least it's now the same price all night.
They also have lots of deals and special offers going on, so look at all the blackboards before you order,for example 2 pints of Tiger at RM 25 or a bucket of 5 Tiger Crystal at RM 55 nett is pretty good.
Other nights it's "buy 2 get 1 free"...or some other promotion.
It always gets a good crowd and can get very lively indeed,the later it gets.
What I also like is that their website (click the title above to link) publishes all the prices-a nice touch.
Guinness drinkers say that they pour a perfect pint.
The food is pretty good as well,with big portions on offer.
Healy Macs has been so successful within it's first year that I was informed that they will be opening bars in:
Kertih,Penang,Malacca,JB,Sri Hartamas and Kota Kinabalu.
And Good Luck to 'em!
Now have to revise for next Monday's Quiz Nite.....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can? or Cannot!

I always find things like this quite amusing....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Xmas at Pavilion Shopping Mall, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

I always enjoy Christmas in Malaysia and bearing in mind that only about 20% of the population actually celebrate any religious connection to Xmas it's great that almost the entire population seem to join-in and get behind it and all the retail opportunities that occur.
The Xmas Decorations are something to behold!
 Taking tackiness to a new level are the completely over-the-top Christmas decorations at the Pavilion Shopping Mall.
It looks like they've just pulled-out everything from their storage and just thrown it all together with a shovel.
Most Shopping Malls here try to stick with a theme such as Trees or Santa and to limit their choice of colours to just a couple.
Mid Valley usually does the best display,KLCC uses the same huge tree that I've seen every year for the last 8 years and Lot 10 usually has blue and white tastefully decorated trees and then go and spoil it by adding way too much other stuff....
Most Shopping Malls and shops at least try to keep their display a bit tasteful-even understated.
Not Pavilion.
All the themes and all of the colours.
In all of the sizes.
First up were the white wire Xmas trees.These are quite good in themselves and they light-up at night.
But rather than leave it there someone from Pavilion's management must have thought "Hey.we've still got loads of stuff from previous years,lets just throw it out and see what happens".
So,out comes the "life-like" reindeer and sleigh.
But it clashes with the wire sleigh so they decide to put it inside.
And then someone says "what about these really big balls? They don't go with anything but at least they're new"
"And they will be a talking-point."
So, into the display they go.
Then they add green and red trees to the centre console....
with gold gazebo like cages.
I'll have to take a walk there at see what it looks like.
And,there's still 6 weeks to go before Christmas.
So they're bound to add even more tat.
It's so gloriously over-the-top that it takes tackiness to a new low....

UPDATE 8/12/10
I knew they couldn't leave it alone...they have now added some gold and red wire circles,which I think are supposed to be snowflakes to the top of the white wire xmas trees.....which is nice!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tiger Tim's Pub, Tengkat Tong Shin, Kuala Lumpur

Not so much of a new bar but more of a relocation.
But still,it's good to see something open on Tengkat Tong Shin that isn't a Backpacker's Hostel, Foot-Massage Place or a bloody Convenience Store.
Tiger Tim's Pub is the new location for that hole-in-the-wall place "Uptown Bar" aka "Billie's Bar" that has been going for years on the less fashionable part of Changkat Bukit Bintang; close to Jalan Alor-next to the Dry Cleaners.
They've moved it lock,stock and barrel (even the tacky wagon-wheel bench) to just around the corner in Tengkat Tong Shin, between Carrefour and Mutiara Ville, if you're interested.
Which I'm not.
I never liked Uptown Bar...and Tiger Tim's looks the same dark,dingy,grubby and over-priced dump that it's predecessor was.
A mug of Tiger at Happy Hour until 9pm is RM12. and about RM15 thereafter.
And, there's nothing happy about that is there? as you can get it for RM10 just around the corner along Changkat Bukit Bintang.
I guess it's a place you'll either like or hate and some people hang-out in places like this to relax, shoot some pool and flirt with the grubby looking girls that occasionally drop-by.
Ah well, having said that, I guess for a change,it might be OK for a beer or two.....
It's certainly non pretentious and non-posy.
Apologies if you met your future wife in a place like this but I just can't see the attraction here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Street Party, Changkat Bukit Bintang 30/10/10

You see what people can do if they put their mind to it?
After the pathetic VW event at Elixir a few weeks back-those clever people at VW must have read my blog and arranged for the street to be closed to traffic so that they could have a "proper' launch of their overpriced cars.
We had international and local entertainment,fireworks and a great party-atmosphere all along Changkat Bukit Bintang and the later it got,the more people turned-up.
It was really good.
Firstly there was a local "Mat Rock" band-all loud guitars and drums,then a rather uninteresting rap act followed by Aussie girl pop-punk band "The Veronicas" who were surprisingly good,followed by warbler Leonna Lewis (nice girl,great voice but the songs all sound the same).
There were probably about 500 people watching the main event-and then it just got busier and busier.
And busier.
Now,it may be a bit embarrassing to say that the last live music I saw was Leonna Lewis but my point is that when Changkat Bukit Bintang is closed to traffic-everybody wins.
Customers can walk without fear of injury to one place and another whilst the Landlords and Owners enjoy the increased crowds and revenues.
I understand that DBKL aren't interested in closing the road (wonder why? maybe they don't want to see unemployed Parking Jockeys roaming the street) so maybe the Owners and Landlords should petition Tourism Malaysia.
It just needs a few floodlights in the car parks at the top of the street-the diversion streets already exist and have been tried and tested many times as, to my memory Changkat Bukit Bintang has been closed to traffic  4 or 5 times already.
So what if a few high-rollers have to actually walk to their venue of choice rather than just park outside?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fake Cops On The Prowl....

Taken from "The Star"....

Published: Thursday October 28, 2010 MYT 6:45:00 AM

Updated: Thursday October 28, 2010 MYT 11:00:25 AM

Kiwi tourists robbed by a couple of ‘cops’

TWO New Zealanders lost RM10,000 to a couple posing as police officers, reported Harian Metro.
The two victims in their early thirties were walking along Jalan Tong Shin in Kuala Lumpur around 5pm on Oct 26 when they were approached by the couple in a car.
According to a source, the suspects in their early 20s came out from the car and told the Kiwis that they were police officers and wanted to see their passports.
“The ‘police officers’ seized their passports and their wallets, got into the car and sped off,” said the source.
The victims made a police report at the Dang Wangi police station.

The exact same thing happened to a friend of mine at 3am on a Wednesday the week before when he was walking home...
He had the the presence of mind to ask for their ID and the "cops" got a bit more aggressive and threatening but he walked slowly on and manged to contact the real police who swooped-in with a vengeance (5 police cars in total) and nabbed the two impostors.
He said that the impostors were a bit thick,slow and stupid as they let him make a phone call-and let him keep walking.
The police had been alerted earlier as the impostors had also demanded a free massage from one of the foot-massage places along Tengkat Tong Shin.
The only downside was he then spent a few hours at a police station giving a statement-but he did the right thing.
He said that the real police were very polite and friendly.(which surprised him!) but rather unorganised and chaotic at the Police Station (which didn't)

I know that some people here think that a tourist/foreigner must carry their passport with them at all times (locals carry ID cards) but I have never read this in any official documentation and certainly new arrivals are not told this at the immigration desk.
My friend needed to take his passport to the police station as part of the procedure for making a statement but he didn't have it on him...and the real police weren't bothered-they just drove him home to get it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Walking along Changkat Bukit Bintang,Kuala Lumpur

I had to laugh over this.
A perfect example of how *not* to hold a product launch/event.
I've written before about how clogged the pavement/sidewalk gets along this street;what with all the jockey-parking,cars parked on pavements,banners, plants and posters placed on the pavement and now,lots of places put tables and chairs outside as well.
These have proved to be very popular with everyone,except when you need to walk along the pavement because,well you can't.You have to walk in the street and hope that none of the cars,buses or coaches that constantly swarm up and down the street will hit you.
Bars that can't put tables and chairs on the pavement have resorted to putting up barriers outside their venue so that cars don't park on the pavement and in some cases these bars have added stools to the barriers to provide a little outdoor seating.Fish and Chip,Sutra and Baan 26 have done this.
Anyway...back to my point.
Volkswagen held a promo at Elixir last night.
Nothing wrong with that you might say.
And,indeed it made a change to listen to lots of different local amateur bands thrashing out their stuff instead of the usual boring and utterly predictable mind-numbing 80's retro music that most places in KL are in love with. How come there is no 90's retro? or 00's retro come to that.
And we all know that the 70's produced the best music.Ever.
So,outside Elixir were a couple of new VW Polo's (yours for only RM 108,888) and a succession of bands playing on the pavement.That's right,on the pavement. No stage.And you guessed it,you had to walk in the busy road to get past.
So where were the crowd?
Standing on the other side of the road in front of Healy Macs,Yoko's and Sutra.
With cars and buses and taxis going past in a constant stream blocking the view.
It just looked so bizarre,a band playing to the traffic.
The sooner they make Changkat Bukit Bintang a pedestrian only street and close it to traffic the better it will be for everyone.(except the car jockeys, lazy people and posers who can't walk a few yards to their chosen venue)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day Trip to Sunway Lagoon Theme Park

I guess it's a pretty good way to use an old abandoned gravel pit.
Sunway Lagoon Theme park is one of Kuala Lumpur's most popular outdoor destinations.
In true local style,it's way over-the-top and far too big and over-developed.
It's also very tacky.
But,who cares?
It's packed on weekends and school holidays but if you go midweek you can have it virtually to yourself.
But don't go on a Tuesday because it will be shut.
Sunway Lagoon Theme Park is split into 5 different areas or "experiences"
1.Extreme.This means riding ATV's and  rope rides such as flying foxes and a bit of Paintball. There used to be a go-kart track but I couldn't find it....
2.Amusement. This includes the usual roller-coasters and other spinning,rotating and falling devices designed to seperate you from your lunch.
3.Water.Lots of different water slides,a wave pool and a surfing machine.Great!
4.Wildlife. A petting zoo and a few pathetic sunbears,snakes and birds.
5.Scream. Horror rides incorporating the latest audio and imaging systems.

It's a hell of a lot to pack into one day.My suggestion would be to just go the waterpark as it's muh more fun than all the others but if you want to experience a bit more....
RM 80 will cover you for enterance and unlimited rides in any 3 of the above whilst RM 100 will cover all 5 areas.Locals only pay RM 75 for some reason.
You cannot bring your own food or drinks into the park and you have to buy  the slightly overpriced and bland restaurant food or eat snacks from kiosks conveniently located all over the place.
I don't think they will search you too thoroughly as I did spot a group with a bottle of scotch.
Beer is available.
I think it's pretty expensive for a day trip-especially if you go as a family but as I said,it gets mobbed on weekends and if you're 14 years old it's a good places for members of the opposite sexes to ogle each other in swimsuits.
You'll probably have much more fun if you're with a couple of kids as it's a great excuse to be silly and act like one yourself.
If you don't have children of your own try and borrow some for the day (always ask first)
Sunway Lagoon is  about 45 minutes by taxi from central KL.There seems to be about 5 different ways to get there and 25 ways to come back. The roads around here are so bloody confusing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Trip to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Sabah you should jump at the chance.
The last time I was in Kota kinabalu was nearly 20 years ago so when I was recently given a chance to go back I was quite excited at the thought.
Sabah is an outdoor/adventure holiday destination.
Most tourists spend a few nights in KK before heading into the interior for a spot of mountain climbing,trekking,rafting or they head to the coast for some scuba fun.
I couldn't do that as I only had a couple of days but even as a two-day break it's a good destination.
Although it's an expensive flight from KL to KK ,my ticket on MAS was RM1,600-Air Asia are about RM 800-1,000 it's well worth it for the 1,000 mile journey.
Kota Kinabalu town itself is pretty ugly,a bit smelly and lacks any sort of charm and yet for some reason, it's a very likeable place.
Although the days of colourfully dressed tribes- people wandering around town are long-gone it still has a frontier feel to it.
The town center is fairly compact, a bit run-down and grotty and easy to navigate but there are few real attractions.
Some parts of town are squatter slums and I've been told that you should keep your wits about you when wandering about.
There are quite a few street kids eager to find out what's in your pockets, these kids have been denied an education due to their somewhat shady legal status so begging and hustling is really their only opportunity.
The city is not very "wide" if you know what I mean;walk 4 or 5 blocks back from the coastal strip and you're starting to climb up into the hills.
This means that the city sprawls in a line along the coast.
For a small city there are a surprising and annoying number of new shopping malls popping-up everywhere but there doesn't seem to be enough shoppers to fill them.
I stayed at the Merridien,a rather large,impersonal and indifferent hotel on the waterfront-a  room will set you back about RM300- RM500 but there are lots of cheaper options around town.
Daytime activities are limited to hanging about by the pool or having a walk up to Signal Hill past the clock-tower to get a view of the city.There is a museum and other attractions but you need a taxi to take you there.

There is a national park offshore,about a 45 minute speedboat ride where 3 islands are accessible for diving or snorkeling and they have some nice beaches.

Kota Kinabalu is noted for it's fine seafood and there are lots of eating venues to choose from.
At night there is a strip of bars and restaurants opposite the Meridien called,rather imaginatively "The
Waterfront" a sort-of mini version of Singapore's Boat Quay/Clarke Quay  that seems to be the place to hang-out.It's pricey and full of tourists,with younger locals going out later hitting places like The Loft and Bed.
A bit more relaxed is a Bar callled Upperstar, next to The Hyatt where two big bottles of Carlsberg are sold for RM 18. Which is very good value for money.So good in fact that I had to go back again.and again.
A nice place to chill and watch the sunset....I'm just trying to work out why I like it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Celsius Bar @Fahrenheit 88

Did you see what they did there?
The imaginatively named Celsius Bar has recently opened in the as yet unfinished Fahrenheit 88 shopping mall.
Located on Bukit Bintang,opposite Pavilion,it's a refurbishment of the old and decrepid Berjaya building.
They shouldn't really have bothered.
The mall has no anchor-tenant,no big names and is a hotch-potch of shops with no grouping or themes.
It's also at least half empty and freezing cold .
But...what might be good is the bar Celsius located at the back of the building.
There are so few bars on this street so Celsius is a welcome addition, whether it's any good only time will tell.
I'm not sure if it would ever become a destination in itself but if you're working or staying nearby it may be a welcome sight.
Or if you're a Chinese wanna-be gangster you may have a beer here before heading into Bintang Palace night club.
Celsius is currently having a promotion-selling 2 pints of Tiger at RM 26 and whilst this is not exactly "wow" factor it is pretty reasonable.
It looks fairly predictable in an almost tacky way and has yet to really take-off.
It also smells a bit of cement dust as there are still some building works going on in the vicinity.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beer Promotion at Inner Circle Bar,Lot 10

Although it feels like you're drinking in front of a shop window (well, you are)
Inner Circle has a good value-for-money promotion on buckets of Tiger Crystal Beer.
Unfortunately,it's only on Monday's.
It's along the side of Lot 10 shopping mall,just underneath the footbridge to Sungai Wang.
So,if you don't mind sitting in front of Isetan's shop windows you can enjoy watching people eat at the newly opened Nasi Lemak stall opposite while you slowly sip your ice cold beer.

UPDATE 10/3/11
I walked past the other's closed.
Always sorry to see bars close..but it was a crap location!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This Should Help....

Some people never learn.
One of the big problems facing Kuala Lumpur and the whole of Malaysia is the problem of litter.
People just drop rubbish everywhere.
If you take a walk along Bukit Bintang you will notice that there are litter-bins every few yards and yet ignorant idiots still just throw their rubbish anywhere.
Sure,the bins look horrible as people stub their cigarettes out on the tops and burn into the plastic but at least you can deposit your trash in them and walk away.
At least Bukit Bintank is swept and cleaned every day-take a walk along the side streets and it's even worse as pink plastic bags and foam food containers are strewn everywhere and block-up the drains.
So,to try and combat this menace the local council have spent a few hundred thousand Ringgit erecting signs telling people to keep the city clean.
The signs assume that only people who can read  Bahasa Malay cause the problem.
So,all the old and ignorant Chinese and Indian guys who walk along the pavement spitting and throwing their cigarette butts on the ground can carry-on.
Tourists never drop any litter,do they?
All the young shop workers and foot-massage touts who "carefully" place their used lunch containers in the gutter can carry-on, for the sign doesn't mean them does it?
After all,they're in a rush and well,someone will come and clear-up the mess won't they?
Why deprive them of a job?
People here drop litter because either they know no better-or they do but they just don't bloody care!
Now,call me a cynic but putting-up signs telling people not to drop litter won't work as the idiots who drop the rubbish are too stupid,thick and ignorant to read the signs and act upon them.
There are a few litter-free places in Malaysia,places like Kuala Terengganu and Kota Baru on the East Coast come to mind so it is possible to achieve and maintain a clean,litter free city but most people in KL just don't seem to care....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Best Hokkien Mee Hoon Mee in Town at Heritage Food Court Lot 10

It's quite sad that a lot of the Chinese-style coffee shops in my part of Kuala Lumpur are fast disappearing, to be turned into 7-Elevens, Showrooms or foot-massage places.Or stand empty as the greedy landlord awaits new and perhaps gullible tenants.
This is happening all over town as rents rise and the new generation of potential cooks don't want to run a food-stall (a lot of food stall operators are at least middle age/entering old aged and have made enough money to send their children overseas to study)
This creates a problem as it becomes more and more difficult to find favourite foods.....
I can't be the only person to think like this as those crafty capitalists who own Lot 10 Shopping Mall on Bukit Bintang have opened the "Heritage Food Court" in the basement.
What they seem to have done is rack their brains and try to remember where you can find the best types of Chinese food in KL.
They have then "persuaded" the stall owners to open/licence a branch in their basement.
Although where a German Restaurant fits into this is anyone's guess (I have written about this before under the title The Only Bacon Sandwich in KL?)
So, in The Heritage Food Court you can find all sorts of food stalls  such as Imbi Road Pork Noodles, Teow Cheow Porridge,Mai Chai deserts-and my favourite Kim Lian Kee-who specialise in Hokkien Mee.
I prefer the Mee Hoon Mee which  is a great dish consisting of fat,yellow noodles and thin vermicelli-style noodles fried in lard with a few prawns,bits of squid,pork and cabbage thrown in and all mixed in a rich,heavy black sauce.
It's probably quite unhealthy as it's fried in pig fat but boy does it taste good!
This particular food stall is located right in front of the escalator going down inside Lot 10.
You can't miss it and you can also hear the loud, rhythmic clash and banging of the woks as the chefs do their stuff and queue of people waiting for their order.
It's a bit pricey at RM 9.35 but well worth it.
And,yeah I know, you're eating in a bloody noisy and cold  food court but there aren't many places in town that serve this great dish.
And,if you're lucky you may even get a few "crispy-bits" of fried lard!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sungai Tua,Selangor State Park (Ulu Yam)

All this hiking must be doing me good.
And,it is great to get out of the city every now and then.
Sungai Tua Park is about a half-hour drive out of KL heading towards and then behind Batu Caves.
It consists of a stretch of river,close to the road with various car-parks and access points along the road.
It's really nothing special but as I said, it makes a break from the concrete jungle of KL to see some proper greenery.
It's also a lot cooler,which goes to show that cities like KL are hotter because there are no trees.
Like most places worthy of a visit there is no public transport to get here so you will need to drive or charter a taxi.
The journey there is "interesting" as you get to learn how confusing and poorly sign-posted directions are in Malaysia.
Head towards Batu Caves and then follow the signs to Ulu Yam.
Go past Batu Dam and the multiple park enterances are on the right about 8km before you arrive in Ulu Yam.
The road is a pleasure to drive and the long,sweeping bends and ever-changing gradients make this a favourite for sports car drivers and superbikes.
Park at the top-most car park,No.3 and follow the very steep descent down the valley sides via  concrete steps to reach a suspension bridge and once you cross there are a few picnic areas that allow easy access to the very cold water.
There are no impressive waterfalls but a series of cascades over boulders with waist-deep water.More for splashing about rather than actual swimming.
If you get bored here,jump in the car and drive down to the main park entrance where it's easier to access the river as there are no steep stairs to climb but still lots of small cascades.
The main park enterance is being "developed" which here can mean "ruined" by building a food-court and retail opportunities so it's probably best to head for Car Park 3 which remains relatively unspoiled.
The park is popular weekends and unfortunately many locations are strewn with litter which spoils the whole experience.
How wet you get is up to you.
Oh,and watch-out for leeches.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Best Fried Kway Teow in Kuala Lumpur

OK-quite a strong statement but I'm prepared to stand by it-The Best Fried Kway Teow in Kuala Lumpur and possibly the world can be found at Restoran Hing Ang on Jalan Thambipillay in Brickfields.
Now,you may know Brickfields as being very "Indian" and true,you can get some good curries,saris and blackmarket booze but there is also a small but thriving (and mainly aged) Chinese community.
Fried Kway Teow is a dish of fried rice cake strips with ingredients that include soy sauce,chili,belachan,prawns,cockles,beansprouts and Chinese sausage all fried in pork fat with crispy croutons of lard.
Heart Attack on a plate!
But it's gorgeous.
Originally a dish for Chinese labourers it can be found all over South East Asia but the "Penang Style" served at Hing Ang is the best.
You can feel your arteries clogging-up as you eat it so it's best to only eat once every couple of months or so to give your body time to remove all the fat and cholesteral.
Restoren Hing Ang is opposite the Chinese Temple on Jalan Thambipillay.
It's a typical local cheap restaurant with lots of stalls catering to different tastes that all share a common seating area.
Soft drinks are about RM 2 and a small bottle of beer about RM 8.
It looks crap from the outside-and the inside is not much better either.
If you sit near to the front it can get very hot from all the cooking but they have a back area that is a little cooler but a bit more stuffy.
To get there from central KL either drive towards KL Sentral on Jalan Tun Sambanthan,turn left when forced to by the ridiculous one-way traffic system begins at the Mobil station and park at the YMCA.Then walk across the road to the usually empty and big Old Town White Coffee, past the imaginatively named Hotel Mexico and keep going. The restaurant is on the left opposite the Chinese Temple.
If the new and baffling one-way system seems a bit too much of a challenge,take the monorail and alight at the KL Sentral stop,come down the escalator and Jalan Thampibillay is the street right behind you.
Penang style Fried Kway Teow is served as small,medium or large servings-and costs RM 4,5,or 6, although I don't think the cook can be bothered with small anymore.
Remember to ask for extra lard crispy-bits!

Update 13/5/2011
He's moved! again! you can now find him on the corner of  Jalan Thambipillay,opposite Old Town White Coffee,underneath the Lido Hotel.
As it's a corner shop,it gets a bit more of a breeze so it's not as stuffy as before...but it's smaller and a lunchtime gets packed.
Nice atmosphere though.....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lobby Restaurant & Lounge,One Residency,Jalan Negasari,Kuala Lumpur

If you begin to tire of the mayhem that can be Changkat Bukit Bintang there are a few more relaxed places opening-up on the streets that run parallel.
Walk past Werners at the bottom of Changkat Bukit Bintang, go past Barkita on Jalan Berangan and just around the corner are Albion and Bar Italia,two restaurants/bars that have both been up and running for a while now and offer a more laid back environment.
I find them a bit too pricey.Others rave about the good food and nice ambiance.
On Jalan Negasari, the next street down you can find Palette-Palate restaurant and the jazz club No Black Tie, whilst opposite in the ridiculously named new office block cum condo "One Residency" there are a few places recently opened-with probably more to follow.
Delucca is yet another Italian Restaurant with a jazzy feel to it and has live music weekends whilst next to it is Lobby,a Thai (ish) restaurant cum bar.
All of the places I've mentioned above seem to appeal to exactly the same type of customer, one who is looking for a place that doesn't get too crowded,has good food and is more of a chill-out lounge type place.
Lobby has cheaper beer prices than Delucca (which is why I went there)
Draught Tiger is RM 9++
Sitting inside at the bar was tolerable and the staff were friendly, it wasn't busy at all and I think that the management want it that way,although perhaps they need a few more bums on seats to pay the rent.
I haven't sat "inside" for ages as I usually go for the outdoor areas wherever I go but it was a hot night and outside there were no fans...a big drawback.
So,sitting inside was chilly as the aircon was at full blast,the place was empty and  reeked of stale cigarette smoke-not nice.
The flashing disco lights were rather annoying and distracting.
The menu is limited to 5 main dishes and from what I saw the food seemed to be very good, the Barrumandi with tempura vegetables and rice cakes was certainly tasty and cost around rm 35++ and a jug of Tiger was  RM 36++, although I picked-up a leaflet saying it was on promotion at at RM 29++ so I'm a bit confused as to the pricing/promotional activity....
They have various lunch time and afternoon tea promotions-although at RM 19++ for an executive lunch,it's a bit expensive.
I believe it's run by the same people who have the excellent Baan 26 Thai restaurant on Changkat Bukit Bintang-so the food should be very good indeed.
I'm just not sure I'd bother to go back.
Delucca looked to be a bit more happening and has an inviting open front-concept but I've just got a bit tired of all the Italian restaurants in town.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jellyfish Problem in Langkawi

I came across this article in "The Star" 1/9/10
I've never really rated Langkawi as to me it symbolises just about everything wrong with Malaysian beach holidays and the poor planning and the abandoned developments make the place look ugly and most of the resorts are either miles from anywhere self-contained upmarket "let's charge whatever we can get away with now that they're here" type places-or "lets build an A-frame chalet,throw in some red or white plastic chairs and call it a resort" type place...The beaches are not great and the water quality is poor...
On the plus side,beer is duty-free and some people who go there fall in love with the place.

Last year there was a report in the foreign press that a Swedish tourist died after being stung by a box-jellyfish whilst skinny-dipping at night.
This was never reported by the local media as it might be "bad' for the image.
A few people commented on the story and didn't disagree with the author....and the local medics on the island were not surprised....
Now,I'm not saying that the current Jellyfish plague is caused by the same species but perhaps it highlights a bigger problem...
Anyway,the report is quoted in full below:  

LANGKAWI: Improper dumping of sewage and the disappearance of turtles has caused an explosion in the jellyfish population which is threatening tourism here.

In the first 21 days of July alone, 185 cases of jellyfish attacks on tourists and residents including fishermen were recorded and this is becoming a cause of concern to the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada).
The authority is seeking Malaysia Nature Society’s help to reduce the number of jellyfish.
Lada’s economic affairs assistant officer Shajiddeen Shaari said the best way to curb the number of jellyfish would be to prevent marine pollution.
However, he said they faced problems in increasing the number of turtles, which feed on jellyfish, because of pollution along the beaches.
“Turtles mistake plastic bags for food as to they look like floating jellyfish to the turtles,” said Shajiddeen.
He said jellyfish are also reducing the fish population as they eat fish eggs.
Veteran nature guide Othman Ayeb said rising water temperatures due to pollution also contributed to the jellyfish boom.
He said that in the past, the jellyfish were usually found some 5km to 10km away from the shoreline.
“However, due to the improper management of sewage from resorts and hotels, the jellyfish started to breed along the shore,” he said.
Othman added that Pantai Cenang has the highest number of jellyfish because of the bad water quality.
“However, we have yet to ascertain the jellyfish species,” he said, adding that samples will be sent to Universiti Sains Malaysia for proper identification.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hiking The Crystal Ridge/Bukit Tabur,Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur

Another amazing adventure just half an hour drive from KLCC.
The Crystal Ridge of Bukit Tabur is a massive quartz ridge that stretches for miles around the north west of Kuala Lumpur.You can't miss it as it's about a 1.000 feet high cliff-face.
Bukit Tabur is located about 20km from the city centre. There is no public transport to the starting point so you need  your own transport or a friendly taxi driver who will not only take you there but collect you four hours later-so swap Handphone numbers! (and yes,there is reception at the summit)
Follow the main road to the Zoo and take the exit after to Taman Melawati
- next round-about 9 o'clock
- next round-about 12 o'clock
- at T-junction turn right and follow the road along the hill until you get to the Water treatment plant..
The trail starts just after a small concrete wall just before the  gate to the water treatment plant and is a hard-uphill slog.
There are no facilities.
And no safety ropes or equipment of any kind...You're on your own and if you get into any difficulty only you and your hiking buddies can get you out of it.
The trail is marked quite well.
Once you make it up to the Ridge you can see the spectacular Klang Gates reservoir and have a good view of KL.
But make no mistake,it's hard going.
Probably the most demanding and exhausting thing I've done since climbing Mount Kinabalu years ago-and that was when it was much taller!
It's dangerous.
People have died on this ridge-so be aware and take care.
The rocks are sharp and unforgiving and would be treacherous when wet.
The climb itself involves some scrambling over sharp, jagged rocks at times at an 80 degree angle for 20 feet or so at a time.
There are also some areas where the trail is on a knife-edge with a vertical drop of about 500 feet straight down.
My biggest fear was falling off the damn thing,my second fear was falling down the damn thing and bouncing all the way to the bottom.Third fear was getting caught in a thunderstorm.
You may be able to tell I didn''t really enjoy it that much but that's probably more a reflection of my own lack of fitness-I was puffing and gasping after the first 5 minutes....
The hike took us about 4 hours in total, 2 hours up and 2 hours to get back down.
We halted just before the highest point which is marked by a red-flag in the trees.To go on from here  involves descent and ascent of a couple of ropes on sheer vertical stretches of rock face and I didn't think I had the strength to continue.
Most accidents happen at these ropes when you're tired.
We went down the same way we came which is the safest way to go.
But-going down was even more taxing and exhausting than going up.
It's easier to stumble and miss your footholds.
Finally we made it down in one piece-but as I said,bloody hard work.

We went there during a week-day and we were the only ones there!
I hear that on weekends it can be a bit of a mad scramble and there will always be faster climbers behind you and slower climbers ahead of you so you may be constantly making-way for people or trying to pass them-and on a narrow ridge that can be disastrous.
The ridge is quite exposed so you'll be at the mercy of the elements.Take a hat, wear sturdy shoes pack some mosquito repellent and a whole lot of water.And a bit more.
Some food would also be a good idea-but try and get someone else to carry it as you don't want to be weighed down too much.
I would also recommend going with a couple of fit women who can offer encouragement and carry your backpack when you no longer can.
And,when you really need to stop and take a breather it's a good idea to pretend you're admiring the view instead of just catching your breath.

You know that sense of achievement you get when you reach a summit or attain a goal?
Well, I'm still waiting for mine.
I must have drank at least a litre of water but was so dehydrated that it took me a day to fully recover.
My pee was the same colour as a WAG's fake tan.
And my arms and legs were a bit sore for a couple of days.
So,was it worth it? Yeah probably....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Great Banana Leaf Indian Food at Nirwana Magic Restoren,Jalan Telawi 3 Bangsar,Kuala Lumpur

I'm not quite sure where heaven is but there's a little bit of it hovering around Nirwana Magic Restoren on Jalan Telawi 3 in Bangsar.
Banana Leaf cuisine means that instead of a plate,you eat from a Banana Leaf-and it's without a  doubt gorgeous and one of the best things you will ever eat.
It's mainly vegetarian but meat/fish dishes are available.
Perfect for a huge lunch-time blow-out,The Nirwana is always packed and you'll have to wait maybe 10 minutes for a table.
Sitting inside has the benefit of being a little cooler but it's a bit noisier whilst outside is pleasant but can get a bit too hot.
The waiter starts by serving you with 2 or 3 gigantic scoops of rice and then you're served some veggie dishes including a nice and crunchy deep-fried bitter gourd (that has thankfully lost it's bitterness) and some sweet-corn,melon,green bean mix and some chopped-up fruity things.
Add some chilli's, lime pickles and a poppadom and then pour either dhall,fish or chicken gravy on your rice.
Then,you may add other dishes depending on how hungry you are.
Personal favourites are the Potato Massalla,Fried Squid and Mutton Massalla.
If your eyes are bigger than your stomach you'll struggle to finish.
Price wise,add in a drink and all the above should cost no more than about RM 12.
Service is always pretty good.

There are other Banana Leaf restaurants in Kuala Lumpur but frankly this is the best.
It's situated along the same road that has "The Social" and is opposite the new wing of Bangsar Shopping Village.

As I said,perfect for a truly big feed.