Monday, December 24, 2012
Discovered a nice eating place over the weekend and would like to share this place with readers ofthis blog.
Gastro Cafe is situated at SS15/4B of Subang Jaya. It’s just a short drive from the colleges like Taylor’s, INTI & ELS Language Centre. Those the signboard looks a bit old, don’t be deceived by it. The interior is tastefully furnished (at least, to my taste :-) ) It occupies 2 shoplots and and next to Ipoh Chicken Rice Restaurant. The 4 Chinese words on the signboard indicates that this restaurant serves Hainanese cooking.
We choose a table at the air-conditioned area which is also next to the non-airconditioned area. Service is fast, perhaps it’s a Sunday. I bet if you’re at this place during weekday, getting a parking place will be a challenge too. The cafe uses a wireless system to buzz for waiter/waitress if you need to be served.
Gastro Cafe – No. 4 Jalan SS 15/4B
We ordered the Hainanese chicken chop and Nasi Lemak with Chicken. For drinks, we had the Ice Lemon Tea, Herbal Tea and Barley. Topping it up, dessert were Cendol and ABC.
Malaysians’ All Time Favourite – Nasi Lemak
We waited for around 10 minutes for our orders to arrive. Since Nasi Lemak is usually a pre-cooked dish, it arrived to our table first. We found slices of ginger in the rice. It adds a nice aroma to the steamed rice. Standard condiments and side dishes came as one would expect from a Nasi Lemak. Gastro Cafe’s Nasi Lemak comes with a half soft boiled egg, some sambal, anchovies, peanuts and a few pieces of chicken. Mum like the Nasi Lemak. To me, most importantly, the anchovies should be fried crispy and not those left overnight with soft texture. Even though I didn’t taste the Nasi Lemak but from the feedback I got from both Mum and my Wife is that the Nasi Lemak is tasty.
Hainanese Chicken Chop – Yummy!! Must Try!
Next came my highly anticipated Hainanese Chicken Chop. I love Chicken Chop and Gastro Cafe’s Hainanese Chicken Chop is done in an authentic Hainanese style. The gravy comes in a generous serving and the chicken piece gets to be soaked in the gravy instead of having some miserable scoop of the gravy on the chicken piece. The gravy comes with peas, onions and slices of carrot. What surprises me is that Gastro Cafe serves its Chicken Chop with a slice of Hainanese steam bread. This is for the diner to dip the steam bread into the gravy and entranced with another gastronomic experience. Very thoughtful of Gastro Cafe. I have not come across another cafe that serves Hainanese Chicken Chop to offer a slice of steam bread to go along with the Chicken Chop. Even Mum commented that the Hainanese Chicken Chop tasted nice, like an original Hainanese Chicken Chop. ( You see, we’re Hainanese and Mum can really whip up a good Hainanese Chicken Chop! ) To get a credit from her on someone else’s Hainanese Chicken Chop is really a great compliment. Personally, I really enjoyed this Hainanese Chicken Chop myself. Love the gravy lots!!
ABC with finely shaved ice
My drink were a letdown though. My Herbal Tea tasted so bland that even my Sis didn’t finish hers. The Ice Lemon Tea was better, along with the Barley. I didn’t take any photo of the drinks as these are very standard servings in every cafe. After our main course, we asked for our desserts to be served. I ordered ABC. It comes with some basic serving without those overly coloured syrup, which is good for me. The ice is finely shaved and this makes the ABC taste good. My only grouse is that adding some gula melaka would enhance the taste of the ABC.
Gastro Cafe’s Cendol
The Cendol and ABC are basically the same thing except that in ABC, it’s topped with sweet corn while in Cendol, you guess it – Cendol strips, duh!
The price of the food serve in Gastro Cafe are reasonable considering that this place is of high catchment area that serves both college students as well as office workers. Will definitely re-visit this place for another round of Hainanese cooking……
Friday, December 21, 2012
Went to Bukit Merah Laketown Resort last weekend for a family gathering. It was easy to find along the North South Expressway. Directional signboards aplenty and the resort is just nearby, after exiting from Bukit Merah/Selama toll after Taiping.
Chose a wrong day to go there and the place was jam-packed to the maximum. Didn’t enjoy the trip a bit at all. Car park area was horendous. There are simply not enough of proper parking lots to cater for a big weekend / school holiday crowd. The resort operator should re-look into improving the parking area. Having an un-tarred, sharp rocks and dusty alternative parking area is giving the place a very bad impression even before entering the resort area.
The guest houses ie. the chalets, the service apartments are badly maintained. The 2 toilets in our Suria apartment unit are leaking water. One of our air con remote control is missing the cover at the battery compartment.
Buffet breakfast is also very disappointing. You have the local semi-“nasi lemak”. I named it this way as it has the rice cooked with the fragrant pandan leaves but what’s missing from the nasi lemak are the side dishes that make up a nasi lemak ie the fried anchovies, the peanuts, the cucumbers and the soft boiled eggs. Even the sambal with onions is missing. It only comes with a chicken curry where the chicken is as good as a rubber piece. It tasted like some badly cooked overnight chicken pieces. For those who like some western breakfast choices, brace yourself for toast bread, cereals and ham. No sausages even. I’m totally disappointed with the buffet line at Suria Apartment.
For a proper dinner, I would suggest that you venture outside. At least the road stalls outside the resort that serves tomyam and some local Malay cuisines look more appetising than the food in the resort.
I wouldn’t recommend this place for a family holiday.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Any visit to Penang spells fun to me irregardless whether it’s for business or leisure. No wonder Penang is also known as the Pearl of the Orient for its beauty and one of the more enchanting state in Malaysia. I had the opportunity to drop by Penang again last week for an overnight business trip.
Making a room reservation through booking.com is so easy that I managed to book 2 superior rooms with Hotel Royal Penang in a breeze. What’s more is that I am able to learn a fair bit of the hotel from booking.com’s website. Some of the deals in this website is quite attractive and allow you to cancel your booking within 3 days prior to the check-in date.
Though I’m not very much familiar with the roads in Penang, having a GPS comes in handy even though Penang is not that big and you always have the Komtar building as your “compass” or reference point.
Hotel Royal Penang is situated in the heart of Georgetown, Penang. It is about 20km from the Penang International Airport and from the Penang bridge, it takes you about 10-15 minutes to reach the hotel.
Checking into the hotel is made easy with the friendly receptionist manning the front desk. I managed to check into my hotel room and also for my colleague within minutes. While you’re waiting for check in, you may also log into web with the free wifi available at the lobby area of Hotel Royal Penang. The wireless broadband connection speed is pretty decent too during evening.
After being presented with the hotel keycard, I moved to the 10th floor of the hotel. There are 4 lifts taking the guests up to the respective floors, so you don’t have to wait that long.
Our rooms are the superior double which cost RM188.00 nett or about USD60/night. Pretty decent considering that it’s situated at a convenient location and not too far away from Gurney Drive. Upon entering the room, I did not detect any smoke smell or odour coming from the room. I stay in a non-smoking floor though.
Double bed with 4 pillows of various sizes
Wired LAN for the convenience of the hotel guest while in the room
After putting down my luggage bag, I surveyed the room for the facililties that it offered. Below are what I have discovered:-
1. Internet – wired LAN cable that provide FOC internet service. ( I didn’t use the LAN though as I didn’t bring my laptop with me for this overnight trip ).
2. Safe deposit box – previous guest mishandled the safe and an error message came out. I managed to get the front desk to resolve this for me and they came to my room within my desired time frame.
3. Mini fridge – a disappointment as it was empty.
4. Iron – Iron and iron board were in wardrobe compartment for the guest’s usage.
I do find the cable TV a letdown as the channels are all out of tune. I can’t tune in to a channel without those “snowy” effects, hindering a decent view of the TV programme.
Cable TV – a letdown
The bathroom comes with a speaker for those who enjoy some music or TV sound while soaking in the bathtub. However, you’re not able to tune the volume to your liking .
The extra roll of toilet paper comes in convenient for the guests to use but I do find the quality of the toilet paper a bit of a letdown, too thin and have a “cheapo” feeling.
Decent bathroom but toilet paper a bit “cheapo” feeling
The sofa seat by the side of the window is my favourite spot. Together with the stand lamp, it provides the best ambient for reading and relaxation. A good spot to wind down after a hard day’s work. However, I didn’t stay in my hotel room much for that night since we went food hunting after we finished work in the evening. In total, I spent less than 5 wake up hours in my hotel room to fully soak in to comfort the room has to provide.
One thing that I have to complain is that the tuner for the bedside lamp is spoilt when I wanted to adjust the lighting by the bedside. The knob came off when I turn to adjust the brightness of the lamp. Housekeeping should have detected the spoilt knob earlier as I don’t think the damage was recent.
Warm lighting illuminates the room
The view outside the hotel room is quite nice. Since I stayed at an end unit, I managed to have an uninhibited view from my room. Lots of greens surrounding the hotel room makes one don’t think of being in a concrete jungle. You can clearly see the tall and short buildings lining the roads around the hotel.
A view across the hotel room
Since this trip was not for sight-seeing, I didn’t bother to check the nearby tourist attractions but a quick check on the hotel’s website reveals the following nearby attractions:-
- Fort Cornwallis – 5 km
- UNESCO Heritage Cultural Site – 5 km
- Botanical Garden – 10 km
- Batu Feringgi Beach – 15 km
- Snake Temple – 20 km
For those who plan to make a trip to Penang, I would think Hotel Royal Penang is a decent place to stay and within the budget of most travellers who wanted a decent room without much fanfair. The other thing that disappointed me is that the gym is only available from 8am-8pm. The hotel should consider its guests who wake up early and wanted to start off the day with some exercise. Opening the gym only at 8am does not do justice to those early riser like me. Even the swimming pool was not available when I passed by before 7am. I do hope that the Management would consider making the gym available at an earlier time.
Before I sign off this post, I would like to share with you a picture of the “old” and “new” – where history and progress can co-habit at the same time at the Pearl of the Orient.
Penang – Pearl of the Orient
Hotel Royal Penang
No 3, Jalan Larut, 10050