Saturday, 16 September 2017

Galloping Into Cowboy Village

        Teachers in Sam Tet, both primary and secondary, have been feted annually. In conjunction with the Teachers' Day celebration, the Parents & Teachers Association as well as the Board of Governors have always treated us to 8 to 10 course dinners. It is a heartfelt gesture to show appreciation to the hard work that we teachers put in all year round.
        This year, the Sam Tet Alumni collaborated with the two bodies to organise an even more memorable celebration --- the Founder's Day & Teachers' Day Dinner. And the theme for last night's dinner was Cowboy Night!
        Sam Tet was transformed into Cowboy Village for a night. Images of a typical street in a cowboy town, complete with straw bales and Wanted Person standees, had been put up, offering plenty of photo-taking opportunities. Guests arrived decked in their Wild Wild West attire and were proffered a cowboy hat each. We had tons of fun imagining ourselves as cowboys and cowgirls. 
        It was indeed a very enjoyable and entertaining evening, one that will be long remembered. Yee-haw!
Wanted for being sexy???


With Lee Yuen Keong, notorious for his "crimes" in school!

With a ferocious Red Indian

Trying (and failing miserably) to look like a cowgirl who means business!

Cowboys and cowgirls for a night

With Adeline Fong, the prettiest cowgirl ever!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Succumbing To Sinful Pleasures

      Taking advantage that tomorrow's a holiday for my school and hubby had a dinner appointment with his colleagues, I made a date with my partner in crime. We were enticed to succumb to a sinful meal at one of Ipoh's latest eateries...a restrobar with a name that conjures up scenes of immorality --- Opëam.
      Fans of Patisserie Boutique in Old Town will be lured to Opëam because they are both owned by Nicole Gan, who is also behind all the luscious dishes and desserts. Opëam operates from a corner lot house opposite DeGarden and lots of parking spaces are available behind the restrobar.
       Learning from a past experience, I made the reservation a week earlier. True enough, even though it was a weeknight, it was a full house. There were not many tables available but it was a cozy dining ambience. Service was fast and most importantly, the food was delicious. As I had such high expectations of Nicole's culinary skills, I was rather worried that I might leave disappointed. My worries were unfounded.
       My partner in crime had previously been to Opëam with her hubby. She must have enjoyed her choice that time around because she ordered the same dish again today --- Giant Scallops & Smoked Salmon Pasta (RM55). One may balk at the price but one look at the humongous scallops, one will know it's worth the price. 
Angeline's choice of Giant Scallops & Smoked Salmon Pasta

        I have always been partial to pesto sauce, so when I saw it being paired with sea tiger prawns (another love of mine), I was drawn to it. The pasta was cooked al-dente, the pesto sauce had the perfect consistency and was not too oily, they were generous with the sea tiger prawns and I adore the pine nuts that were tossed with the pasta. I would not hesitate to order this Sea Tiger Prawn Pesto (RM42) again.
My utterly scrumptious Sea Tiger Prawn Pesto

       Opëam does not have an extensive dessert selection but it's an interesting one. I was torn between the Salted Egg Croissant (RM16) and the Black Cherry Liquour Tiramisu (RM26). Finally, I decided on the latter as I was keen to compare it with my favourite tiramisu at Indulgence. It was definitely a much bigger slice than the one at Indulgence and the taste of liquour was unmistakable. But I prefer the texture of Indulgence's tiramisu, where there's more of the ladyfingers to sink your teeth in, as opposed to the mousse-like mascarpone cheese.
The very decadent Black Cherry Liquour Tiramisu

        Thoughts of the calories that I've packed in were fleeting as the dinner was most enjoyable, because of the company as well as the food. Hmm...perhaps I should work out at the gym for another hour tomorrow after my regular zumba session.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Introducing The Noodles Of Sabah

        My previous post on having Sarawak's kolo mee gave impetus to this post, which is on its lesser known cousin. Many are familiar with both the kampua and kolo mee of Sarawak, and fans are delighted to find them at many places in Peninsular Malaysia. My first taste of a reddish kolo mee was at a coffee shop in Penang, and I have also spotted it sold at a Tanjung Sepat shop that caters to tourists.
     Both kampua and kolo mee are basically springy egg noodles that are made without the use of any alkaline water. Both are traditionally eaten dry, tossed well with lard and sauce. In fact, both the names kampua and kolo mean "dry tossed".  The differences lie in the thickness and texture of the noodles, as well as how they're served.
      As the focus of this post is not on Sarawak's pride and joy, I shall not elaborate on the difference. I would like to introduce their lesser known cousin, the kolo mee of Sabah. From my four-year stay in the Land Below The Wind, I know Sabahans love their noodles and can boast of many different varieties, but have chosen to remain low-profile. Hence, not many people know of the different ways kolo mee is served in Sabah.
      The simple egg noodles are treated differently in different towns in Sabah. Visitors to Sabah are encouraged to try the famous Tuaran mee. The handmade noodles are made using only egg yolks. They are first toasted in oil in the wok to prevent them from clumping together, then blanched to reduce the stiff crunchy texture, before finally stir-fried to a dry finish with eggs, vegetables, and meat or seafood. On our recent trip to Sabah, I took hubby to the town of Tuaran to try its famous specialty.



      Tamparuli, a town that is 12 minutes away from Tuaran, has also garnered fame from its Tamparuli mee. It's very similar to Tuaran's version, but the noodles that are made in Tamparuli are rounder, slightly larger and has a springier texture.  The location of Tamparuli, which is along the route to Mount Kinabalu, has ensured that the Tamparuli mee has its own loyal fans.
Picture of Tamparuli mee is taken from the Internet

       During my four-year stay in the Cowboy Town of Kota Belud, I often visited an unassuming stall hidden behind the UMNO building. It was run by a student's parents. Their version of the kolo mee is tossed with dark soya sauce, served with chicken meat or char siew (which, by the way, is often referred to as sasau in Sabah), a bowl of chicken broth and a small helping of fried shallots on the side. Passing by Kota Belud during our recent drive from Simpang Mengayau to Kundasang, I was busy showing hubby Kota Belud's Tamu, the school where I taught, the church that I attended
My first posting was at this school
St. Edmund's Church, where I was baptised
and the house that I rented. By the time we decided to have lunch, it was rather late and the kolo mee stall had closed for the day.
Photo of Kota Belud's kolo mee is taken from the Internet


Photo of this bustling kolo mee stall in Kota Belud is also taken from the Internet

        Fortunately, I had another chance to revive my memories of Sabah's kolo mee and this was in the sleepy town of Kuala Penyu. I personally think Kuala Penyu's kolo mee cannot hold a candle to Kota Belud's kolo mee. I chose to have my kolo mee with sasau instead of sauyuk (roast pork), while hubby ordered a bowl of Kuala Penyu's egg noodles with seafood in soup, which he enjoyed very much.
Kuala Penyu's sasau kolo mee and seafood mee in soup

       I've been told that other towns like Beaufort and Tawau also dish up different renditions of kolo mee. I guess if one decides to try all the different ways Sabahans enjoy their egg noodles, a visit to almost every town in Sabah would be necessary.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Having The Best Of Two Worlds

        It was a blow to hubby when his favourite wanton mee shop took the Hakka braised pork wanton mee off its menu. Taking pity on the poor man, I decided to replicate this for one weekday dinner. 
      During the weekend, I had cooked the Hakka braised pork with black fungus (for the recipe, visit http://irenechanal.blogspot.my/2015/10/dishing-up-hakka-meal.html) with an extra portion stashed in the freezer. Then upon returning home from work on a weeknight, I heated up the meat. A colleague had earlier given me some dried kolo mee from Sibu, so I decided to have that instead of wanton mee.
      I guess the aroma of the steaming hot Hakka braised pork with black fungus poured onto the kolo mee that had been tossed with sesame seed oil, dark soya sauce and oyster sauce must have wafted upstairs. Hubby commented, "What's that nice smell?", to which I answered, "Come down for dinner, darling."
      True blue Sarawakians may take offence on how their prized kolo mee is cooked in my kitchen. After all, kolo mee is supposedly tossed with lard and served with minced pork and char siew. But I believe a wee bit of ingenuity goes a long way. It's like having the best of two worlds : a much-loved Hakka dish with Sarawak's pride and joy. And most importantly, hubby is all smiles.
Hakka braised pork with black fungus kolo mee

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Lavishing on Lobsters in Genting Highlands

       
Located at Level 1 of the new SkyAvenue Mall
        A name that has been generating a buzz in Genting Highlands is Burger & Lobster, a restaurant that was established in London back in 2011. It is the brainchild of 4 schoolmates and was conceived on a rooftop in London. Their plan was to just focus on one or two main ingredients (burger and lobster) and dish up perfect renditions of them. 

        With branches worldwide, in Stockholm, New York, Dubai and others, we Malaysians can  hold our heads high that Burger & Lobster chose Genting Highlands to be the location of its first outlet in South East Asia. Their lobsters are flown in live from Nova Scotia while their burgers are made from supreme halal-grade beef from Australia. 
        A comparison with their London restaurant menu shows that Burger & Lobster, Genting Highlands, has creatively tweaked their menu to suit local tastebuds. Their one-page menu offers 3 types of burgers, 3 different ways of indulging in the lobsters, a selection of 3 lobster rolls, and a choice of 3 desserts to end your meal. For each, there are 2 different prices as the lower price is for GentingRewards members.
This is displayed at the front of the restaurant where the queue is formed. There is also a Chinese version, probably to cater to the many Mainland China tourists.

        On our 2nd night in Genting Highlands, hubby and I joined the 12-minute queue to dine here. Hubby chose to have The Original grilled lobster with lemon and garlic butter. As he's an expert in digging into crabs, ravishing their crustacean cousin was not a mean task for hubby. After all, Burger & Lobster also provides patrons with a lobster cracker and a lobster pick. And oh, by the way, a lobster bib is also handed out so that clothes do not get soiled even when hands get dirtied. I decided to cheat - to have my lobster and yet not having to patiently dig for the meat. Therefore, my choice was the Seven Samurai Lobster Roll.
The crowd at Burger & Lobster


Hubby is poised to feast on his grilled lobster

Can't wait to sink my teeth into my lobster roll

        I usually delight in watching hubby devour his crabs, but that night, I was too enthralled by my own meal. My toasted brioche roll was bursting with the chilled lobster meat that had been tossed well with the seven spices sauce. It was so yummy, and I would not hesitate to order this again on a subsequent visit. When hubby tasted my food, he too agreed it was finger-licking good. He enjoyed his grilled lobster, but conceded that mine was a better deal. 😃
        It was indeed a lavish dinner but most importantly, we both enjoyed it very much. And life is meant to be enjoyed. La Bonne Vie!
Hubby made me pose like this...his pet rabbit, apparently!  😜



        

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Going Porky in Genting Highlands

                  Besides shopping, our recent Genting Highlands trip enabled us to delight in some good food. My blogger friend, Claire, raved about Go Noodle House and its legendary Chinese Imperial noodles. So I cajoled hubby into having a go.
         As with all the good eateries, there was a queue to gain entry into Go Noodle House, located on Level 4 of the new SkyAvenue Mall. To order your food, firstly, you choose your noodles. There are only two types of noodles to choose from : Yunnan style mi xian (米 線) or meehoon (米粉). Next, you pick your soup. You can opt for either superior soup (三鲜汤) or homemade spicy soup (秘制辣香汤). Finally, you select your treasures (pork balls, pork belly slices, clams, scallops, prawns, fish, etc.).
          Treasures for oink oink lovers like hubby and I would naturally be pork. I ordered the Bursting Meat Ball mi xian in superior soup (RM14.50) while hubby went for Pork Belly Slices mi xian in superior soup (RM16.90), adding another portion of pork belly slices for RM8.50. My Bursting Meat Balls have hot fillings in them, just like Fuzhou fish balls, which are also available here at Go Noodle House.
My Bursting Meat Balls mi xian in superior soup


Hubby's Pork Belly Slices mi xian in superior soup

Our choices must be good as they are featured in the menu

          One bite into the silky smooth noodles, which are completely different from the usual mi xian that you buy from grocery shops or from Sitiawan, and we were both hooked. The flavourful fish-based soup with a hint of Chinese wine was so good that hubby kept slurping it up, long after he had finished his noodles and pork belly slices. Hubby and I often practise barter trade, whereby I offer him some of my food in exchange for some of his. In that way, we can sample more variety. So he had one of my Bursting Meat Balls, which he agreed were really tasty. And I had a huge slice of his pork belly, which was tender and juicy.
           We were excited to note that Go Noodle House has its tentacles at many places, including 1Utama, Pavilion, Avenue K, Mid Valley Megamall, Gurney Plaza and Queensbay Mall. Hopefully, a branch will be opened in Ipoh soon.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Conquering the Genting Highlands Premium Outlets

       Our visit to Genting Highlands after a lapse of around eight years was mainly to see the storm of hype surrounding the Genting Highlands Premium Outlets. Being South East Asia's first hilltop premium outlets centre, the Genting Highlands Premium Outlets is run by the Simon Property Group, which is the name behind Arundel Mills, Chicago Premium Outlets, Napa Premium Outlets, San Francisco Premium Outlets, Johor Premium Outlets and many others.
     
    The Genting Highlands Premium Outlets, which opened its doors to the public on 15 June 2017, features many brand names that caught our attention. Hubby and I were keen to pick up more sportswear so our main focus was on Skechers and Adidas.
     
Whee! Zipping over and past many buildings in Genting Highlands


The cable cars of Awana Skyway
     From our hotel, we made our way through the new SkyAvenue shopping mall to reach the Awana Skyway station. Taking the 10-minute 2.8-kilometre long cable car ride down to the Genting Highlands Premium Outlets was another new experience as the Awana Skyway was only open last year. Previous visits to Genting Highlands involved travelling on the Genting Skyway, which is 3.4 kilometres long. The Awana Skyway has 99 gondolas, 10 of which are fitted with glass floors. We noticed that USB ports are available in the gondolas for charging of smartphones and other devices. The ticket is priced at RM8 for a one-way journey.
     Thanks to my premium outlets-savvy friend, I had earlier downloaded the Simon application onto my phone, registered as a member and received an e-mail verifying my registration. By flashing the e-mail at the Information Centre, I was given a Savings Passport, which entitled me to more discounts at certain outlets.
It's just a leaflet but does offer some good additional discounts.

     Our first stop was at Adidas, which was having a grand sale. So there was a queue to enter the outlet. In spite of the crowd, we managed to find what we wanted. We then turned our attention to Skechers as I needed a second pair of sports shoes. Hubby too was captivated and converted (I still remember how he scoffed at me buying my first pair of Skechers last year). 
     We explored all three levels of the Genting Highlands Premium Outlets, named as High Street, Middle Street and Low Street. It was truly a day of fruitful shopping and we had spent almost 6 hours there!
First day's haul!
The final purchase was an unexpected one. I had not planned on even entering the Coach outlet as there was, predictably, a long queue outside. But hubby literally dragged me to join the queue and we finally left the outlet with a Blake 25 in red bubble leather.
Hubby chose this for me

     Before calling it a day at the Genting Highlands Premium Outlets, I dropped by at the Information Centre again to collect a total of 10 free cable car tickets. Being kiasu, we descended there again the next day but left empty-handed. Hubby had his sights on a Tumi backpack for work and after checking out of our hotel on the third day, we utilised our free tickets to visit the Genting Highland Premium Outlets for the third time to make the purchase.
     All in all, we went (came), we saw, we conquered!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Trying Out The New Kid On The Block

          Our two-night stay at the whimsical Hotel on the Park, Genting Highlands, was comfortable and fun. The 271-room hotel is the new kid on the block as it only made its debut on 22 July, ahead of the opening of the Twentieth Century Fox World Theme Park.
Welcome to the brand new Hotel on the Park!

          Hotel on the Park used to be the Theme Park Hotel, located right at the doorsteps of the Outdoor Theme Park and the Arena Of Stars. It underwent a complete refurbishment and is now incorporated with an Alice In Wonderland theme at the hotel's public areas. Hotel guests, especially those who are shutter happy, will be delighted with the floor-to-ceiling pillar of stacked oversized tea cups (which reminds me of Alice's garden tea party), a bright pink giant bench (which makes me understand exactly how a shrunken Alice would have felt) and the trick mirrors (which reinforces the world of illusion that dear Alice had gotten herself into after falling down the Rabbit Hole). 
It was not easy to clamber up this giant bench at the lobby.


Spiderwoman caught in the act!

Food and drinks to ease the hunger pangs

          Check-in was a breeze, staff was friendly and I was pleasantly surprised to find that our room was ready for us although we had arrived 5 hours ahead of check-in time. We were there at peak season too! Although my room had already been paid in full via Agoda (RM333 per night), a deposit of RM200 was still required.
          Pleasant surprises continued to abound as we made our way to our room. Line art, cartoons, handwritten signage and bright purple coloured-lit corridor led us to our room.
The coloured light gives the illusion that you are entering a tunnel of mystery.


Handwritten signs to point you in the right direction

Colourful and quirky vending machines outside the rooms

It was an eye-opener to find the room number written on the ground!

And inside, there were more oohs and aahs. We had gotten ourselves a Sixers Room as it was the only one available on our dates. It is furnished with 3 queen-sized beds, 2 of which are on a tatami-styled raised platform and 1 more is on a bunk bed over the platform. Design is minimalistic yet functional. For example, in place of a wardrobe and tv console, coloured knobs are placed all over the wall for hanging of clothes and the tv is held by brackets with artwork surrounding it. There are lots of hand-painted signs and drawings in the room, and even on the blackout roller blinds. The washroom area is spacious and is divided into 2 separate cubicles ... 1 for the toilet and 1 for the shower. They are generous with the toiletries too and I was pleased to see the ultra-important hair-dryer. Being able to enjoy a strong wi-fi signal in the room made our stay even better. I later found that even after 3 hours post-check out, I was still connected to the wi-fi on the second floor, where our room was. And that is a big thumb's up!

The Sixers Room is such a cute room, which you will fall in love with!

Playful me could not resist testing out the bunk bed.

The washroom area with 2 huge sinks, lots of knobs for hanging stuff, ample toiletries, separate loo and shower plus the ultra important hairdryer

Pretend I'm there

Use me for your clothes

To remind you of journeys in life

I light up your world

Watch me!

Power up!


Kettle with a difference
A telephone that looks more like a weighing scale
Happy Feet stayed here!

          Hubby and I really enjoyed our stay at this new and quirky Hotel on the Park, which will be an even bigger hit when the new theme park opens later this year. Their Quads and Sixers rooms are a very clever concept as families visiting the theme park will be able to all camp in the same room. I would say Resorts World Genting has done an extremely good job with this new kid on the block.