Sunday, 22 January 2017

Restoran Genting Palace @Genting Grand, Resorts World Genting

Visitors to Genting Highlands seeking a Chinese New Year getaway may want to complete their festive celebration at Restoran Genting Palace. This grand Chinese restaurant offers their exclusive CNY Menu from 27 January 2017 to 12 February 2017. Prices start from RM568.00 nett for a minimum of 4 paxs. The location maybe a little obscure but once you follow the signboard that leads you to Genting Grand Hotel, the restaurant would be easily located.
At first glance, the Chinese New Year menu at Genting Palace offers the usual-run-of-the-meal fare but once the dishes are served, it is easy to see, why and how their food are a notch and more above other contemporary restaurant's.
This been the year of the Rooster, the Prosperous Japanese Tuna Yee Sang is appropriately shaped like the bird. The moment it was presented, everybody ooh-ed and aah-ed over the beautiful presentation. It also impresses with the freshness and generosity of the tuna portion. Tossed to perfection with the colorful greens and reds of the vegetable signify prosperity, this salad is the perfect start to the rest of the sumptuous banquet. Note: Yee Sang is already available from 14 January 2017 - 11 February 2017
Double-boiled Dried Seafood and Abalone Treasure Pottage. Each mini pot reveals a large piece of abalone and a generous amount of tender succulent sea cucumbers, scallops and chicken meat enough to satisfy the most hearty eater. The clear beautiful broth set well on my tongue and did not leave a cloying after-taste. 
Marinated Royal Mountain Chicken in Fine Soy Sauce. I am not a fan of chicken brest meat and their only so many pieces of drumsticks and wings to go around the table. However much to my surprise, even the less favored parts were not the dreaded dried and tasteless meat. The flesh was tender, juicy and delicious. The taste of the soy sauce permeates to the skin onto the flesh, making this a wonderful savory dish.
Stewed Sea Cucumber with Goose Feet. Thick chunky sea cucumber open up to contain scallops, roast porks, mushrooms, mini sweet corns and carrot, topped by a generous sprinkling of pork floss.  Lined up at the both sides are goose feet and the Hong Kong Pak Choy. The sea cucumber was springy and tender, evident of the good pre-cooking process. While the goose feet was not very well received at first by everyone at the table, the few who liked to eat fowls' feet assured us that it was gelatinous and smooth, a great source of collagen for the skin.

Steamed River Marble Goby with Crispy Ginger. One dig into the tender yet firm fresh of the Goby fish with the chopsticks is instant confirmation of its freshness, something that we all know by the past experience is not guarantee in every restaurants. The contrasting combination of crispy slivers of ginger and fresh coriander go well with every melting-moment morsel of fish.
Pan-fried Marmite Prawns. Beautifully embellished with radish and carrot decorations, the prawns were a visual feast for the eyes. 

Golden Sweet Corn Fried Rice with Waxed Meat. 3 different types of waxed meat from various parts of a pig together with a waxed duck leg are steamed and cooked in a bed of glutinous rice. The result is a heavenly aromatic combination when the softened and rather salty meat is stirred in and mixed with the fragrant rice. Even though I was already very full by then, I could not resist taking as much as I could.

Lotus Seed and Lily Bulb with Tai Hai Nam. Tai Hai Nam is in Cantonese, in Mandarin would be known as Pang Da Hai. For easy understanding in English, it is called Malva Nut or Boat-Fruited Sterculia Seed. It is a seed but it will magically swells into a spongy-like when being treated with water. The main functions are to clear heat from the lungs to resolve phlegm and to relieves sore throat. After all the greasy, oily and fatty dishes, you would really want a bowl of this dessert to soothe your throat and calming your taste bud. Not too sweet and not too fancy. Just nicely done.

Pineapple Tarts - Once your taste bud was cleared, the best taste to remain on your taste bud and memories before you leave will be this seductive golden pineapple tarts. The restaurant picked a perfect choice of dessert to make us remember the pineapple tarts as the taste sits well in our taste bud. The crust is soft with rich of buttery taste but that's not the best part. The pineapple gooey is sweet but you would know it is definitely not an artificial sweetness made from sugar. It is the sweetness from the pineapple fruit itself. So sweet enough to make you smile before you leave the table. Mark my word, you would definitely ask a waiter/waitress if you could buy a box of pineapple tarts. I can save your trouble from asking, it is available for sale but only for a limited time only which is from 2 January 2017 - 11 February 2017. It is reasonably priced at RM28.00 nett (12 pieces) and RM39.00 nett (20 pieces)

By the way, Restoran Genting Palace does serve a wide range of excellent Pu Er Tea. My wife is from Yunnan, Pu Er city who owns a field of tea trees to produce her own Pu Er tea. She acknowledged that the tea served in this restaurant is a top-notch quality Pu Er Tea. If you are a big fan of Pu Er, do drop by to have a quiet and peaceful moment with their tea and accompany with their delicious pineapple tarts. I can assure you this would be a heavenly experience that you wouldn't want to miss. 

For us being a Chinese ethnic, we know that nothing more important than having a meal with all your family members together on the same table especially during Chinese New Year. If you are celebrating this Chinese's biggest festive day in Genting Highlands, Restoran Genting Palace is the best choice for a family dine-in compare with 6 other Chinese restaurants that are available in Genting Highlands. Please do book early to avoid disappointment.
Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Food Serving Speed: Moderate
Recommended?: Yes

Restoran Genting Palace
Level 2, Genting Grand Hotel,
Resorts World Genting,
Genting Highlands Resorts,
69000 Bentong
Tel: 03-6101 1118
Business Hours: 12.00pm - 2.30pm; 6.00pm - 9.30pm (daily)

Friday, 20 January 2017

Cafés Richard @ Sky Avenue, Resort World Genting

Most of us usually associate France with champagne or wine. However a trip to Cafes Richard will change this perception forever. Step into a world of understated elegance. Welcoming you warmly into Cafes Richard is K Bidi Thibault, a charming French speaking Outlet Ambassador. Gilded round tables with black and white monochrome chairs form a back drop for alfresco dining where one can sip any of their wide range of beverages and liquors while watching the world go by.  Indoor dining furniture is comfortable and tasteful. 
And what a wide array of coffee await the coffee connoisseur. This cafe, we were assured, imports nothing but the best coffee beans from around the world such as Sumatra “Orang Utan” Coffee, Ethiopian Moka Yrgacheffe, Costa Rica Tarrazu and the premium Jamaica Blue Mountain for customers with deep pockets. The true coffee lover would be glad to be offered French Press or Chemex or Syphon or Cold Drip.

What makes Cafés Richard extra special compared to the usual cafes is they serve a variety of liquor coffee which is also their signature drinks in their menu. I tried the aptly-named French Genting which is a unique recipe created to celebrate Resort World Genting’s 50th anniversary. Malaysia meets France in this combination of traditional French orange liqueur “Grand Marnier”, espresso and local Bentong ginger, blended to perfection! The smooth creamy concoction was beautifully contrasted with its dark matte glass with a slice of ginger perched cheekily on the side. The immediate taste at my first sip is the strong aromatic ginger; once the ginger taste disappeared, then the alcohol kicks in which is testament of their generous amount. This was then followed by a hint of the caffeine. It a perfect drink for those who are the adventurous and like the unusual. However, I am not a fan of ginger, I much preferred my second drink that I was offered.
It is known as Coffee In the Cloud, inspired by the classic White Russian, this soothing and smooth cocktail combines their homemade Cafes Richard coffee liqueur with vodka and a “nuege de lait”. A real dessert treat! Let the ball made of ice rolls in the glass before you take a sip from it. The strong milky alcohol taste will be the first to greet you with a generous amount of coffee taste in it. I like the balance between the alcohol and the coffee in this drink instead of either each one of them taking over the whole drink.
They still do serve the hugely popular Frappes and Lattes which starts from RM11.00 (member)/RM13.00 (non-member).
Non coffee drinkers need not fret because Cafes Richard also carry a huge range of teas to satisfy the most discerning tea drinker such as organic herbal tea, rooibos tea, green tea and etc from around the world.
This is the Perison High Tea Set by Cafes Richard which comes in four tiers, available from 2.30pm - 5.30pm at the price of RM128 (member)/RM143 (non-member) for two, includes coffee or tea. Looking far too pretty to be eaten, the delectable range of sweet and savoury canapes comprise top quality ingredients that are a fist to the eye. Fancy tucking into Crab Meat Avocado Mascarpone in Cone, Blini with Smoked Salmon and Chive Dressing, Smokes Duck with Melon, Salted Beef on French Toast, Foie Gras Mousse on Vol-Au-Vent & Cranberry Dressing, Wild Mushroom Quiche. Inside the mysterious looking 3 mini drawers are the sweet- mini eclair, profiteroles, Cheese Cake, Fruit Tart, Assorted Macaroons, Pistachio Financier, Creme Brulee. 

The visitors to Genting Highlands may find it worthwhile to spend an idyllic afternoon enjoying the ambiance while savoring its fare. The old world charm and hospitality that has served this family business well since 1892 have also helped to spread its wings beyond French soils and thus, this is the first branch in Malaysia.
Ambiance: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Food Serving Speed: Fast
Recommended?: Yes

Cafés Richard
Level 1, Sky Avenue,
Resorts World Genting,
Bentong 69000
Tel: 03-6105 9197
Business Hours: 10.00am - 12.00am (daily)

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Sports Shooting Club Hatyai (SSC)

Most of people think if you travel to Hatyai and not visiting their temples, you are just wasting your time at Hatyai. As for my personal opinion, if you come to Hatyai and did not go to Sports Shooting Club (SSC) Hatyai to experience the shooting experience with a real gun, I think you are not just wasting your time at Hatyai but you are wasting your time being a human. You only live once and there is no better way to understand these guns than coming over to SSC.  
Their gun selections are enough to satisfy your urge. From rifle, pistols, revolvers to shotguns. You would be surprised that their rifle is the cheapest. The price is stated from 890 baht nett for a 15 rounds. 
I have tried the rifle, beretta and this Smith and Wesson 4506 .45 ACP. This 45 is my favorite among all with 50m shooting range and 8+1 capacity. One of the most expensive gun to rent here.
Basically you are shooting at the target paper like this. You can adjust the range of the target to your preferred range.
I have been to Malaysia's shooting gallery like this before. I need to spend more than an hour in the class to listen about the safety and a lot of paper works to do which is really waste of time when you are coming here for a holiday and you definitely got no time for class. 
Some people might think it is compulsory to educate newbie like me with the necessary safety knowledge. However, I believe the short safety briefing done by the SSC is enough to create the safety awareness to us. 
Smith and Wesson 4506 got a stronger inertia force than a Berretta M9A1C 9mm. For girls, it is suitable to use a Berretta because it is lighter. They do not have a Glock 19 which is much more lighter.
Shooting is easy but the hard part is the aiming. You never know your hand is so shaky and you can't keep the crosshair on the target you desired. 
We had a great time at SSC and enjoyed their hospitality very much. We got to bring back our target back home as souvenir.
I felt so much power when holding these weapon of destruction. It is indeed a dangerous weapon but through this experience, at least I understand how to deal with it when time comes. I hope it never comes but at least I am equipped with the basic knowledge.

This place is not really far from the Hatyai city. It is about 15 minutes car ride to this place. You will just spent around 30 minutes to 1 hour here depending the number of rounds you are signing up for. I will definitely be back again for the shotgun and revolver.
Total Damage: 3470 baht
Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Recommended?: Yes
Freakout Level?: 4/5

Sports Shooting Club Hatyai (SSC)
29 Soi 11 Poonnakan Rd., 
Korhong Hatyai Songkhla 90110
Tel: +66(0)87-771-8888
Business Hours: 9.00am - 6.00pm (daily)

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Aroii Thai @Shaftsbury Square

Thai Boat Noodles is a trendy authentic Boat Noodles originated in Bangkok Kwan Riam Floating Market located between Soi Saereethai 60 and Soi Ramkhamhaeng 187 where the vendors cook food in the little boats. It gains popularity not only with the locals but the tourist alike due to its sophisticated aroma riched soup based with sultry smooth Thai glass noodle that consists of more than 10 ingredients to prepare a piping hot bowl of comfort food. Aroi Thai Boat Noodles will target both Thai food lovers as well as casual diners looking for good food in a fascinating Thai atmosphere. Recently there is an interesting Thai restaurant which is known as Aroii Thai opened at Shaftsbury Square at Cyberjaya. The interesting part is all their food and drinks are only RM1.90++/each. I am not joking and I thought it was a gimmick too when I first heard of this. So I decided to drop by all the to Cyberjaya for a visit. 
Aroii in Thai means delicious. This delicious eatery is always packed with people especially during lunch time and dinner time. I came as early as 11.30am to avoid the crowd but I have already seen some who are way earlier than me. When the time I almost finished my food, the restaurant was already full house. The restaurant is quite stuffy because there is no air-con provided and only a few ceiling fans that are available. The owner is cutting off his expenses to provide a cheap food.
As you can see from the menu, anything you order is going to cost you RM1.90++ each. The only gimmick is the portion is very small which is good in a sense that you are able to try the whole Thai popular dishes in one meal. It is a good relief especially when you are into Thai food indulgence on that particular day. The most not worth it is their beverages which is cost RM1.90++/each as well. I only managed to eat as much as I could as below.
Classic Pad Thai
Thai Green Curry Chicken with Rice
Traditional Pandan Chicken
Thai-style Omelette with minced Chicken
Tom Yam Glass Noodle Soup
Chicken Glass Noodle Soup
Thai Basil Chicken with Rice
Thai-style Chicken Fried Rice
Mango Sticky Rice
You able to pile them up like a sushi plate. So how many can you eat? Dare to challenge me? Haha...
Overall, the food is not bad for just RM1.90++/bowl. I felt as if I have tried the whole menu in a Thai restaurant. It is truly satisfying. Among all the food I tried, the Thai-style Chicken Fried Rice was the worst. I do advice to skip that one. Their tom yam is spicy but delicious. However, the most spicy food among all was the Thai Basil Chicken with Rice. Do drop by to Aroii Thai to try a cheap Thai food at a dirt cheap price.
Total Damage: RM26.45
Ambiance: 2/5
Service: 3/5
Food Serving Speed: Moderate
Recommended?: Yes

Aroii Thai Boat Noodle & Street Food
Unit P1-31, 2350, 
Shaftsbury Square, 
Persiaran Multimedia, 
Cyberjaya 6, Selangor
Business Hours: 11.30am - 9.30pm (daily)

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Diving at Lombok

More than 50% of the tourists coming to Lombok just for diving. Do not need to debate to realize how beautiful is the marine life at Lombok where it is pincer by Alas Strait and Lombok Strait. Gili Islands is the most popular place for diving in Lombok. The dive sites available here are just too attractive and a lot.
This is the dive boat that is used in Lombok. The amount of dive centers in just Gili Trawangan alone is outrageous. There will always a dive center just a stone throw away so you are truly pampered with the choices you have got here, Since there are so many dive centers, there are some information you should know to pick the right dive center to make a perfect holiday for yourself.
Here are the things you should know about diving at Lombok:
  1. At Gili Islands, all the dive centers have an agreement which is to fix their dive price. So you do not have to go around and survey for the best price. All the prices are the same. While at the mainland, the prices will be vary among dive centers.
  2. At Gili Islands, there is a one time charge which is known as "Reef Tax"which is used to protect the reef around the island. You just need to pay once and you do not have to pay again if you plan to change another dive center on the Gili Islands. While at the mainland, there is no such charges.The reef tax is cost IDR50,000/pax.
  3. The prices are usually include full set of equipment except dive computer. There might be other surcharge if you opting for a dive sites which is too far away from the location
  4. The more dive you do the more discount you will get. Discount will starts from 5 dives and above.
"Since there are so many dive centers and all the prices are the same, how to pick the right one?" This is a millionaire question. Based on my experience, here are my suggestion for you.
  1. If you are going for a course, just make sure they have an instructor that is speaking the language you understand and also make sure the class is small. Best would be a maximum of 2 to 1 instructor.
  2. It would be more complicated for fun dive because we are there for fun and not being lectured. So first of all, do some homework online on the dive sites available at Lombok. List down those dive sites that you are interested to explore. Some dive center will give you a brief description about the dive sites, maximum depth and types of marine life that you would be expecting to see.
  3. Once you have selected your desired dive sites, choose the dive center that is willing to take you to those dive sites. Dive centers that do not have trip to your desired dive sites will say something bad about the dive sites you chose to make you give up on it. Sometimes they are sincere, sometimes they might just want to get customer. It is up to you to judge and decide.
  4. Once you have narrow down the dive centers, pick the dive center that have a local dive master which speaks fluent English. A local dive master will always know where to find the marine life for you to see. Usually the freelance foreign dive master has only 1-2 years experience on the dive sites around the island which is not enough to spot you something amazing under the sea.
  5. Lastly, pick the dive center that doesn't need you to install your own equipment or carry your own equipment to the boat. You are there to have fun and not to help them to do their job.
I had my first dive at Simon's Reef. This reef is about 30 meters deep and I had a good 46 minutes under the water exploring the marine life around. I would say this dive site is not as good as expected to be because there are not much sea creatures to expect except shrimp, lionfish, scorpion fish and a huge sea turtle which is the only highlight of the dive.
Next was Shark's Point. There is a new artificial wreck of a speedboat has been sunk here 6 months ago. Not much corals build on it yet so nothing much to see in this wreck.
Luckily, I had a nitrox tank for this dive so I got to enjoy longer dive time at a deeper depth which is at 30 meters deep for 40 minutes bottom time. I got to see a giant lobster hidden under a huge rock. It was amazing.
This is a closer look on the lobster. Looking at it makes me feel so hungry under the water.
Sea turtles are quite common here at Lombok. You will always get to see one in every dive sites especially at Gili Islands. This is because they have a turtle conservation center at Gili Trawangan.
Shark's point is one of the best dive sites at Gili Islands which you shouldn't miss it. It is worth for you to dive more than two times here. You will get to experience so many kinds of marine life here.
Even blue spotted stingrays are common at this dive sites and their size is quite big too.
It is called shark's point for a reason. Yes, there are sharks at this dive site and it is a white tip shark. I saw a pregnant shark and two juvenile sharks at the same spot here lying on the sand.
I have done a few night dives before which were so disappointed until I almost wanted to give up for anymore future night dive. I am so glad that Lombok has changed my perception about night dive and make me fall in love once again. It was an amazing experience which is truly unforgettable. 

The dive site for my night dive was at Turtle's Heaven and it is truly a turtle's heaven with lots of turtles with different sizes lying on the rock or coral. 
There are not just turtle only to be expected here. There are scorpion fish, cleaner shrimp, white-eyed moray eel, cuttle fish and even this rare finding hermit crab!
I do enjoyed flashing my torchlight towards the cuttlefish. They just love the light and swimming towards it. It was fun playing with them.
Japanese World War II wreck which is sunk in 1945. This dive is for the little bit more experienced diver as it is a decompression dive. Only two dive centers provide such a dive which are Blue Marlin Dive and Trawangan Dive. The Wreck is a Japanese WW-II patrol boat in 45m water which is fully intact sitting perfectly upright in the sand, even the original bullets are still there. It is located in a protected bay off of the coast of Lombok and there is no coral reef around the boat. The boat is about 25m long and is covered in corals and surrounded by wildlife. 
This is my first time saw a Leaf Scorpion fish. But I do not have much luck to see schools of Tuna or Barracuda around here as we are expected to see some.
It is just more scorpion fish on the wreck. This was my first experience to go 45m deep and exploring around a historical wreck which is more than 71 years old of age.
More scorpion fish but this one is white in color. The visibility was quite alright since I dived too deep. Luckily no current to spoil my dive. It is still a good dive spot for those who likes deep water dive. Preferably to have more than 100 dives and with AOW nitrox certificate. There is a surcharge to dive here since the boat is travelling longer to reach this dive site. It cost about IDR600,000.
As I was trying to look for a good muk dive as my last dive on the Gili Islands, I was recommended to go to Halik which in the end was quite disappointing. Just a few nudibranches to be spotted here and it was a pretty common nudibranches.
A few cleaning shrimp and sea turtles which have become commonly seen in the previous dive.
Overall, I still love this island very much because it brings the fun of night dive for me once again which I almost gave up on it. I will definitely be back to Lombok but not on Gili Islands anymore. I might check out other spots such as Blongas, Sekotong Barat and Sambelia. Last but not least, please enjoy my video compilation of my dive trip below.