Monday, July 30, 2007

Venice Part Deux

aka. J the Chocoholic's trip to Italy Part 4B - Venice! (Note: Very photo heavy post)

Well, the weekend went by quickly again... In fact, it flew by much more quickly this time seeing as I slept most of it away, doped up with flu medicine....
*sigh*
Anyway, when I did manage to awaken from my slumber I decided to take some time to load up some more photos from the Venice leg of my Italy trip to share with you all:
:)

Fourth stop - VENICE (continued)!
1) Venice by day (from far):

It was nice seeing Venice island from afar..... It was nice because it's so different from KL - No tall modern skyscrapers in sight at all (I suppose the island would sink quickly if they built any there lah)


2) Venice by day (up close):


Venice has so many lovely buildings that are very well maintained by the government there (both to keep their heritage alive and also to keep the tourists coming to visit, I guess).....


3) Rialto Bridge:
Here's the famous Rialto Bridge in the main Venice island area..... As it was the midst of the Carnivale time, there were so SO many people around....


3) Gondola ride!:


Any visit to Venice is not complete without a gondola ride, right?....
:)


4) Shopping!:

Plenty to see, buy and also eat in Venice (Good luck to your wallet though - it's about 4.5 Ringgit for 1 Euro) ....


There.
(Another round of desktop escapism for you to enjoy)
Hope you liked it.
:)


Hugs,
J

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

48 Hour Flu?

This really bites.
I work hard the whole week and when it's finally the weekend - I fall sick!

I bet with all the medicine and rest, I'll probably get well just in time for work on Monday.
*sigh*
:(

Well, I hope the rest of you are having more fun than me this weekend anyway.
:)


Hugs,
J

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bernard's

Quick post on a veteran bistro in Centrepoint Shopping Centre....

Bernard's Bistro and Restaurant has been opened in Centrepoint Shopping Centre for around 9 years but I had never tried the food there... It's always a good indicator if a food venue has remained opened for such a long time as it shows that the food is consistently good (or conversely, that it is consistently used as a money laundering facility) so me and P made it point to go try it out last weekend.

The Lunch

Walking into the bright yellow walled interior of Bernard's, I had an impression that it's really more a drinking hole than a restaurant. The layout seems to center around the bar area and also, there was a hint of that musty smoke/ alcohol smell that just wouldn't go away....
(It's not really that bad but non-smokers like me will definately notice it):

Interior of Bernards

(Oh, I was also very amused by their selection of music - all the oldies like My Way, etc, which added to that "uncle bar" atmosphere)

The menu seemed interesting as there is a good range of local and Western dishes served there. The prices seemed to be a bit on the high side for the local dishes and the drinks though... eg. RM6.50++ for a glass of teh tarik! O_o

Anyway, P decided to try out the Chicken Rice (about RM16++), which was recommended by the waiter as one of their specialties:

Chicken Rice

Although the price is a bit expensive if you compare to the coffeeshops (how not to compare?), the Chicken Rice set was pretty good:
- The chicken was tender and tasty (not super tender but it was pretty good),
- The taugeh (beansprouts) were fresh and delicious,
- The rice was fragrant and had achieved that precarious balance of being moist but firm, and
- The soup (salted vegetable and tofu) was full flavoured without being too salty.
(The chili sauce was also not bad - comparable to the ones found at some of the more famous coffeeshop chicken rices)

As for me, I decided to try out the Spicy Prawn Olio Spaghetti (about RM22++):

The Spicy Prawn Olio


I really enjoyed the dish as the pasta was al dente and the prawns (so many!) were wonderfully fresh and tasty. Also, I liked that simple taste of the olive oil sauce was accentuated with the addition of the chili flakes and herbs.
(Would definately order this again!)

Those of you who can't really eat spicy food (or just don't enjoy it) should ask the waiter to hold back on the chili flakes though - it really builds up and you'll feel your tongue and lips start to tingle after the 4th or 5th bite.

I didn't have any space in my tummy for starters or desserts but will definately try those out the next time I go to Bernards.
:)

[ BEGIN EDIT ]
(August 2007)

I went back recently to Bernard's and was very disappointed with some of the food I tried:
- the Oxtail Soup (It turned out to be watery and lacking "oomph"... It also tasted a little sweet which is totally against the robust savoury oxtail soup that I like)
- the Spaghetti Marinara (There was a faint "fishy" taste and the sauce was sweet and tasted like it was adapted from tomato ketchup)
(Sorry - forgot to bring my camera that day so no photos but BE WARNED!: Please avoid these particular dishes unless you actually like your soups and pastas unnaturally sweet)

Oh, and they have no desserts available!
:(

Anyway, I've shaved a point off the original rating.....
(Look, it's not to say that it's so terrible that you should not try this place out - just be very careful what you order)

[ END EDIT ]


So it's: Simple setting with friendly staff, good range of local and Western food and BUT a bit pricey considering serving size (for the local dishes and drinks), no desserts, some bombs on the menu and no designated non-smoking section!.


Restaurant Review
Summary Sheet:


Bernard's @ Centrepoint Shopping Centre, Bandar Utama

Taste: 6 5
Ambience : 5.5
Service : 6
Price** : RM 40/++ per person
Parking: OK (BTW, it's free if you only park in Centrepoint for less than an hour)

** Approximation - 3 course meal, excluding drinks
Telephone No.: 03-7710 3188
Opening Hours: 12noon till late

NO PORK SERVED



OTHER REVIEWS:
- KY Eats
- Back Street Gluttons
- The Lab


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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stretched Out

It's only Tuesday and I already feel so tired.
Oh well, if it were calm at work every day then life would be boring, right?

(I promise I'll update on food soon.... or as soon as I can, anyway)

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Bad Cork

Following last week's successful wine saving attempt, I've been trying to slowly consume my family's badly maintained wine collection to "save" the rest of the bottles.

I was hoping to get lucky again and find that the 1999 bottle of Aussie Shiraz was still drinkable but... *sigh*... you can't win all the time, I guess.

How bad was it?
Well, if you look closely at the tip of the cork, you can see that it has started to rot:

Being a typical Malaysian, I thought to myself: "Not good to waste it lah! - How bad can it possibly taste?"... So, not taking heed of this red flag, I decided to try a glass of this wine (and lived to regret it).

The wine itself had not oxidised (since the top half of the cork is still well intact) but because the cork had begun to disintegrate into the wine, it tastes very corky (for lack of a better word).... Imagine drinking water that has a strong taste of paper and a teeny hint of grapes - yeah, it was not a very pleasant experience.

So, sorry Mr Yeringa Ridge Shiraz 1999 - you were supposed to have tasted lovely with firm tannins and a strong bouquet of fruit pleasantly balanced with hints of spice and plum but obviously, we had not taken good enough care of you...
(... on the other hand, it could just be that the cork was faulty - it happens)

Anyway, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the next bottle of wine I open will still be ok.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Groovy!

Funky sushi in the new wing of One Utama Shopping Centre....

While my mum and I were on our monthly shopping trip in One Utama shopping centre, we decided to stop by the new Japanese restaurant there called Sushi Groove. It's located on the Ground Floor of the New Wing (Oval section) and is pretty easy to find (near the main escalators).

The Lunch:

The theme at Sushi Groove is modern and funky - dark wood, sleek fittings and an interesting feature wall with what looked like lit up Morse code. I liked the overall setting there but found the remix/ borderline techno music they were playing to be a bit too loud and quite a fair bit annoying.
(Or maybe I'm just too getting too old for all this "feng tau" music)

The traditional Japanese restaurant of "Irasshaimase" (welcome) has also been thrown out the window in the effort to be different. Here, you'll be greeted by a chirpy chorus of "GROOVY!" by the waiters and waitresses instead:
Interior of Sushi Groove...

There was a good range of reasonably priced and interesting starters and sushi rolls. Of course, there are some classics like the Agedashi Tofu and range of sashimi but there are definately a lot of unusual things that you won't find at other Japanese retaurants. Some of them, like the Flying Geisha Roll - deepfried inari (beancurd skin) stuffed with spicy tuna and cream cheese - sound yummy but unhealthy though!

We decided to try out the Yakuza Crisy Beef (about RM7++) as a starter:
The Yakuza Beef

The battered strips of deep fried beef came topped with some yummy onions that had been stirfried in a slightly spicy sauce. The beef wasn't really THAT crispy or tender but I think it tasted pretty good overall.
(I found the savoury and slightly spicy taste very appetising)

Then, for the mains we tried the Baby Dragon Roll (about RM13++) and the Curry Fried Rice BiBimbap (about RM 11++):

The Baby Dragon Roll (top) and the Curry Fried Rice BiBimBap (bottom)

The Dragon Roll was quite nice - a good medley of texture and taste with the tempura prawn, crab salad, cucumbers, avocado and tiny bit of unagi.
(My favourite Dragon Roll is still at Umaiya... which costs 2 times more but tastes about 2 times better)

The Curry Fried Rice BiBimBap was also pretty interesting - the rice had a bit of a sticky texture and a lovely fragrance of curry powder (not very spicy though). It came served in a stone bowl and was mixed with raw egg and bits of tempura batter, tender chicken pieces and bonito flakes. Unfortunately, the serving is a bit too big for the average person so you may feel a little "jelak" (queasy?) after you get about halfway through.

As for dessert, we capped it off with a serving of Black Sesame Ice Cream (about RM6++):
The Black Sesame Ice Cream

I would definately order this again - it was creamy and bursting with black sesame flavour but thankfully not too sweet... I would even say that it tastes better (and so much better value) than most of the black sesame ice creams I've tasted at other Japanese restaurants around town (even the ones at some top KL hotels).

So it's: Funky, modern setting with friendly staff, good range of interesting sushi (as well as a few rice and noodle dishes) and reasonable prices BUT limited desserts and irritating (to me) techno-ish music.

Restaurant Review
Summary Sheet:


Sushi Groove @ One Utama Shopping Centre

Taste: 6
Ambience : 5.5*
Service : 7
Price** : RM 27/++ per person
Parking: Difficult on weekends

* Nice decor but the music irritated me so less points here
** Approximation - 3 course meal, excluding drinks
Telephone No.: 03-7725 3733
Opening Hours: 11am till late

NO PORK SERVED




OTHER REVIEWS:
- Masak-Masak
- Bitch::About::Food
- ~Brought up 2 SharE~
- My Passion, My Life v2.0
- Omoshiroi.org


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Monday, July 16, 2007

Pain

Great.
I finally go to the gym and after a short run on the treadmill, a few reps of weights and a couple of sit-ups : My every waking hour is filled with PAIN.
:(

Otherwise, my weekend was pretty good:
1) Baby cousin's full moon party
Wow... one month already!
The party was simple but fun - the only thing that irritated me is my mum and aunts ganging up on me and hinting very indiscretely that it's about time I popped one out of the oven already.
(I am NOT a baby machine lah....)

2) Kat's birthday celebration
It was a nice laidback party by the poolside with lots of food and booze provided by Kat and her co-birthday celebrator, Jin Nee.


3) Not very relaxing back massage
I am now very scared of going for traditional Chinese massages - I swear the lady was trying to kill me with her knuckles and elbows.
(Ouch)


... and now, it's Monday.
So, back to work!
:)

(Will update on food soon - promise!)

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wine Saviour

My personal highlight of the week?
*drum roll*
Saving a bottle of wine from certain death.
:)

See!:

From the looks of it, there was probably just a few more months/ one year tops before the wine would had gone bad and turned into vinegar....
(The fact that the purple marks are so close to the tip of the cork is a pretty good indicator)

It's not that it was an expensive bottle of wine - just a normal Spanish wine given to my family as a present - but still, it would have been a pity to waste it.

The wine turned out to be nice though - robust and fruity but just a tad too sweet... Also, although the taste was pretty full flavored, it didn't have a very strong finish.
Anyway, overall : Not bad.
:)

I'm definately not a wine expert - just starting to dabble in it (or more accurately, starting to experiment with the wines that I can afford) so don't put too much weight into this "review", ok? Some online reviews like this one have given this winemaker a pretty good rating though.
(However, most of they have a vested interest because they are selling the stuff)

Anyway, it's fun to try new wines.
Hope you like it if you ever try out this particular wine.
(Another decent and affordable Spanish wine that I've tried lately is the Torres Coronas Tempranillo - tastes ok and costs under 60 bucks at the supermarket)


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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Uncle Ho's

More pork in Mid Valley Megamall....

[ BEGIN EDIT ]
(Nov 2009)

Hmmm. Looks like the outlet at Midvalley is closed. :(
... Still, the outlet in Bangsar Shopping Center is open... will try to go there soon to check out whether it's still nice....

Cheers,
J

[ END EDIT ]

The Dinner

Uncle Ho's had started off in Bangsar Shopping Centre (BSC) as a Gourmet Delicatessen specialising in non-Halal items but eventually expanded to 2 restaurant outlets - one in BSC and another in Midvalley.

Their Midvalley outlet is tucked away in the South corner (LG floor) of the big shopping centre, in between the Burger King and Manhattan Fish Market. It has been open for a couple of years now and the decor is starting to look a bit worn out and dated already.... Still, it's comfortable enough as a place for casual/ simple everyday dining:
Interior of Uncle Ho's, Midvalley Megamall...


There is a pretty fair menu of Western dishes, mainly focusing on pork, as well as a few Asian dishes that seems a little out of place.
(Curry Laksa? Strange - it's marked as one of the signature dishes though....)

Anyway, we weren't feeling very hungry that night so we decided to jump straight to the mains:
The Crispy Pork Knuckles

The Crispy Pork Knuckles (half serving) is supposed to be one of the specialties here at Uncle Ho's. Unfortunately, we weren't that impressed - the meat wasn't quite tender enough and the vegetables were overcooked and had obviously been drenched with butter. Still, the Pork Knuckle skin was nice and crispy and it was pretty decently priced at RM28++ for a good sized serving so I found it "OK", overall.

We also tried the Uncle Ho's Mixed Grill that night:
The Mixed Grill

The Mixed Grill was pretty hefty! - it comes with a generous serving of lamb chops, pork chops, pork sausage and a teeny piece of pork ribs with seasonal vegetables and some sauce on the side. I wouldn't mind ordering this again if I feel carnivorous - all the dishes were pretty good (flavourful, with medium tenderness) and really worth it for RM26++.
(My favourite was the ribs, although they were so teeny, which was served with a slightly Asian tasting sweet and sour sauce)

As for dessert we chose tried out the Deep Fried Banana Fritters:


The Deep Fried Banana Fritter

This dessert turned out to be simple yet satisfying - the banana was moist and the batter was crispy. I did find the batter just a bit too dense/ a tad starchy and there was too much honey drizzled on (which made it a bit too sweet), but overall it was ok considering it only costs around RM6.

So it's: Simple, comfortable setting with friendly staff, fair range of Western food (as well as a few Asian dishes) and reasonable prices BUT only tastes OK.

Restaurant Review
Summary Sheet:


Uncle Ho's Fine Foods @ Mid Valley Megamall (next to Burger King)

Taste: 6
Ambience : 5
Service : 6
Price** : RM 40/++ per person
Parking: Difficult on weekends

** Approximation - 3 course meal, excluding drinks
Telephone No.: 03-2284 1330 (Bangsar Shopping Centre outlet : 03-2095 8867
Opening Hours: 12noon till late

NOT HALAL



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Monday, July 09, 2007

Evil Great Malaysian Sale

I am so smart.
*sigh*

I went out shopping to look for a new pair of black work pants (seeing as it's the Great Malaysia Sale now), but instead I ended up with:
a) 2 pairs of shoes,
b) 2 shirts,
c) 1 jacket, and
d) 1 skirt.

*lol*
Talk about total lack of focus and self control.

Looks like my credit card and I will just have to take it easy and avoid shopping centres totally for a while till we both recover (or I learn how to effectively curb my shopaholic syndrome, whichever comes first).

Anyway, I hope you all had great weekends too.
:)


Hugs,
J

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Viva Le Carnivale!

aka. J the Chocoholic's trip to Italy Part 4A - Venice! (Note: Very photo heavy post)

This is a bit delayed considering that my trip to Italy was well over 3 months ago but there's nothing wrong with sharing some pretty pictures, right?
:)

Fourth stop - VENICE!
1) Venice by night:



We had arrived in Venice at night at decided to brave the chilly weather to have a look around at night.....


2) Water "taxi" to Venice:


Big vehicles are not allowed on Venice island (as it is sinking fast enough as it is, without the extra weight from all the tour busses) so we took a scenic boat ride over.....


3) Carnivale!:
It was the time of the annual Carnivale so there was a lively festive feeling with.....

.... many little stalls,....

.... live shows (although I didn't understand a single word) and face-painting,....


... as well as many people walking around in elaborate costumes!


That's about all I had time to load onto my online photo album.
I hope you enjoyed it....


Hugs,
J

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