Friday, February 27, 2009

After Six Chillout @ Sanctuary Bar

Sanctuary Bar is one of the place I frequent most for drinking (and clubbing). The name Sanctuary is pretty apt as it provides an avenue for people to relax, destress and have a good time after a tough week at work or school.

Sanctuary Bar establish itself with a concept of '1 Place, 4 Themes' or in coffee terms, we'll call it the '4-in-1' mix. Many clubs and bars are following suit, most recently Quattro @ Avenue K which plays around the 4 seasons- Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn.

The 4 concepts that builds around Sanctuary Bar, the umbrella name for the whole premise in The Curve creates a complete F&B outlet,
  • 'Sutra', the Thai restaurant;
  • 'Bar Cocoon', the clubbing floor;
  • 'Bar Papillon', the al fresco bar;
  • 'Ice Bar', a -15 degrees bar.

My friends and I would normally be at Bar Cocoon, for a night of intoxication and exercise but we didn't feel like getting high and sweaty that Valentine's evening (also because Laundry Bar was full). We went to the next and closest bar, which would be the al fresco side of Sanctuary, Bar Papillon.

Bar Papillon offers the usual mix of cocktails, wines, and selection of liquors. Prices are pretty standard as well, ranging from the cheapest about RM25 for a cocktail to a few hundred for a bottle of liquor and wine. Plus, the size of the drinks were pretty generous. I was on an alcohol abstinence that night (in fact I still am, haven't had a drop of alcohol after the free flow at Pernod Ricard's dinner), so I opted for the much cheaper and healthier option of Fruit Punch (RM10).

The ambience was ok. We were seated at the walkway to the club, so we could see and observe quite alot. It's interesting to just observe the crowd, from the way they dress to the people around them, level of drunkenness, behaviour, level of good looking-ness etc. There was an incident that we witnessed and we found it so appaling and I have to blog about it.

It was about 1am that night, there were still many hanging around the dance floor and outside the walkway when we spotted a family of mid aged aunties (really aunty kinda aunties), an ang moh man and 3 kids (look less than 8 yrs old) arriving outside the club, maybe just after a romantic Valentine's family dinner. Then the aunties and ang moh proceeded to the club leaving the 3 kids at the guidance of 2 other adults. About an hour later (2am), the aunties came out and the couple looking after the 3 kids left, bringing 2 of the kids along, leaving a little girl behind, no more than 6 yrs old. Aunties United and Mr Ang Moh then was seen puffing in front of said little girl hesitating whether to bring the little girl into the club.

/cue for WTF in unison

It seemed everybody wants to have fun and nobody wants to take responsibility of the little girl. Later we saw Aunties United negotiating with the bouncers to bring in the girl to the club. Bouncers initially said no but later gave the ok sign, much to the dismay of another stranger patron who protested the move. Plan failed and later one of the aunties stayed behind while Aunties United and Mr Ang Moh went in to continue having fun. By now all of us watching the whole scene were already WTF-ing. Poor little girl was yawning and looked so lost, and it was already wayyyy past her bedtime.

Eh, but I digressed. The above is Bar Cocoon. And that distinctive head is Param, my night out kaki who left me for Tasmania. Hello Param! :DDDDDD

To get into Bar Cocoon, there's no cover charge but you'll have to open a bottle to get yourselves a table or just buy drinks. Since there's no way the bouncers can identify paying and non-paying patrons, one can always try to sneak in when it's crowded!

The Ice Bar, if I'm not mistaken is the first of its kind in Malaysia. It is tied up with Smirnoff Vodka, with the tagline of "Bringing Russia to You". I read that there are a few ice bars like this (only bigger, better and colder) in Russia, and some European countries. I've always wanted to pay a visit here and I did! In fact, I've been in the Ice Bar twice :)

To enter the Ice Bar, you'll have to purchase either a neat shot (comes in test tube form, RM20 per shot) which will entitle you 10 minutes in the bar or open a bottle which entitles you for 40 mins. A bottle can also admit 4 other friends with you. Smoking is obviously not allowed. And the club provides winter jacket but trust me it's just as cold. Brrrrrr...

The Ice Bar claims to be have a temperature of -15 degrees. I felt like a piece of ais krim potong after 5 minutes. The shot of vodka didn't help at all!

As you can see from the pictures, everything is made out from ice. It's so cool (pun intended). But I feel the bar should provide those hot water packs to keep your hands warm because after 5 minutes my fingers were freezing no matter where you try to hide them!

Overall, I think Sanctuary is a valued place to go if you're too lazy to go all the way to KL and/or looking for an after party place to hang out. What I really like about Bar Cocoon is the DJ spinning pop and R&B genre. Also, drinks at Bar Papillon come in big glasses. The Ice Bar provides that unique icy experience for most of us who dream of drinking in a winter environment.

The only area we have not been to would be the restaurant, Sutra. I promise I'll make a visit there soon and update on this review.


The Sanctuary
Lot 151 & 151A,
1st Floor, The Curve,
Mutiara Damansara.

[disclaimer: Live to Eat or Eat to Live does not promote heavy drinking and regular night outs. If everyone knows their limits and have some sense of responsibility, the night scene would be a much safer place for all. Party hard but drink responsibly, kthxbye!]

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Land Below The Wind

If there is anything to describe Kota Kinabalu, it is the beautiful skies in the evening.

Somewhere out there is the famous Mt. Kinabalu...

When I first arrived in KK, which was also my maiden trip to the East Coast, I was surprised at how early the sun rises and how early the sun sets as well. If the normal timing for the sun to rise in the West is (about) 7.30am, in the East, 6am looks exactly like 7.30am. And in the evenings, 6pm looks like it's 8pm. I remember very well that I got a timing shock and thought either the sky was acting funnily or my watch has gone bonkers.

Shots of these beautiful skies were captured one fine evening when I was working in the airport and I didn't really notice that the sun was already setting when Angie called me over and said I should take some pictures as it was very beautiful.

I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw the skies from the waiting lounge. The above pictures are in its original colors with a little bit adjustment on the exposure. I have never quite seen a sky in that color! And the plane, the hangar and the runway makes the whole picture oh so apt.

If there's anything I miss about Kota Kinabalu, it would certainly be the clouds and the skies. And perhaps the airport. There is just something that charms me to loving the airports. Perhaps the rush, the mixed emotions of people in the airport, the smiles on people's faces at the arrival hall and the sad farewells at the departure lounge, the dutyfree shopping, people pulling their luggages and trolleys, the uniformed immigration officers, the aeroplanes, flight attendants strutting down the walkway, pilots and their first officers swaggering down the hall, excited tourists... the list is endless.

There is just too much to observe in the airport.

I can be sitting in the holding lounge for hours just looking at aeroplanes landing in and flying out.

While I can't tell when I'll be back to this land of beautiful skies, but one thing's for sure...

I will definitely miss it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fusion Haven Cafe & Restaurant

Last Saturday night, I had a date.

Aloha Cocktail Chicken- RM11.90

This date of mine is currently doing her internship in KL and is staying put at Sri Petaling. To make things easier for everyone and to pretend to be a gracious host slash old friend slash food blogger that I am, I suggested having our dinner at Fusion Haven which is kinda like a hidden gem in this Commonwealth town. Besides my date has always been bugging me to take her out to try new food.

It was raining very heavily that night but people still came in scores to the cafe for dinner. The cafe champions on its 'fusion' concept so it is not surprising to find the furnitures and decos fitting the concept, though in my honest opinion, contemporary colourful Ikea tables and chairs would make the cafe nicer rather than Chinese inspired marbled tabletops and chairs. The English themed wallpaper is a nice touch though ;)

Unagi Rice Noodle- RM9.90

For appetizers, we had the Aloha Chicken Cocktail (RM11.90) and Unagi Rice Noodle (RM9.90) as recommended by Ho Jiak! and a few other blog reviews. The dishes arrived not too long after, great because it was pouring out there and our stomachs were growling. I quite like the Unagi Rice Noodle, there are shredded carrots and rice noodles wrapped with seaweed, deep fried and topped with a dollop of mayo and some ikura. Nice! There's no real unagi though, I suppose it's just a name to depict the dish as it looks like unagi.

I did not enjoy the Aloha Chicken Cocktail much as it was a little bit spicy for me. Later I found out the spicyness came from the use of tobasco sauce as an ingredient. However, you gotta give credits for the presentation! Very nice!

English Herbs Butter Baked Lamb Chop- RM16.90

My date went for the English Herbs Butter Baked Lamb Chop (RM16.90). The lamb didn't have a pungent taste, perhaps being overpowered by the baked garlic. While I am not a fan of garlic per se, I quite like golden brown baked garlic like this. The lamb was pretty tender as well.

Pan Fried Dory Tower- RM18.90

I opted for the Pan Fried Dory Tower (RM18.90) as it is their signature dish. It's also recommended in Ho Jiak! The dish came beautifully presented, layer by layer to form a tower. The foundation is made of rice, a little bit like sushi rice but I find it rather tasteless, perhaps due to the lack of sauce. Alternating between dory fillets are 2 pieces of biscuits, similar to cream crackers but with a darker hue and bigger in size compared to your Jacob's cream crackers. I suppose this is the fusion part where I don't quite understand... biscuits with pan fried dory?? Hmmm... The dory fillets were nicely done though. The decorations are entirely edible as well, there's a piece of tempura'ed leaf, pastry stick, onion ring, deep fried lotus, potatoes and brocollies.

Hi, meet my date for the night, Khian. My childhood friend, we used to write old fashioned snail mails to each other after I moved schools and states. I remember she would update me on all the big and little things happening in and out of school (ie. my source of updates of all kinds). She still keeps me updated till now cos I'm kinda out of touch with most of the Ipoh girls I used to know :/ I call her the "Menteri Perhubungan"!! Hehe.

Map to Fusion Haven

Fusion Haven is definitely one hidden gem yet to be uncovered. Price point, the dishes are very affordable with its lunch menu from RM 5.90 to RM14.90. Other ala carte items are less than RM20. I really like the effort of the people behind Fusion Haven trying to offer fine dining food for normal cafe price. It's just what we need in these times where "cost-cutting, global economy crisis, no money..." are the most commonly used vocabulary in our daily lives.

Fusion Haven

No.45, Jalan Radin Anum Satu,
Sri Petaling,
57000 KL.
Tel: 012-2006736 (Danny)
Business Hours: 12-3pm, 6-11pm (Monday-Sunday)

[disclaimer: the opinions expressed here are based on my personal views, tastebuds and preference and may vary for others. please dont sue me, i dont have money. kthxbye.]

Sunday, February 22, 2009

COCA Steamboat Restaurant

Earlier of the month, HB asked if I would be interested to join him in a sponsored food review by COCA Steamboat Restaurant, I accepted the invitation. Hence, this will be my FIRST sponsored review.

COCA is a old and familiar name, majoring in steamboats. Perhaps the logo explains it all, "Established in 1957". That's before most of you and I were born. The review was scheduled at the COCA outlet in 1 Utama (Old wing, opposite Jusco Home Centre). We were greeted by the affable Andrea, Marketing Manager of COCA Malaysia. She later explained that the Subang Parade outlet would be a better choice for the wholesome COCA dining experience as the outlet is more spacious and has live aquariums, so your seafood is guaranteed fresh.

Roselle Flowers d'Juice with Soda- RM12.90

I opted for the Roselle Flowers d'Juice with Soda (RM12.90) as it reminds me of the younger times where a bottle of concentrated Roselle juice was a rare luxury at home and my sisters and I will make our own Iced Roselle drinks... especially shiiiok! on a hot sunny afternoon. A perfect thirst quencher it was. (Maybe I can make some Roselle cocktails too with my newly acquired Absolut Raspberri! Should show you guys my full Absolut Dream Team collection soon) HB went for a jug of beer instead.

COCA Stuffed Prawns- RM9 per pc
COCA special deep fried fresh water prawn

Pandan Chicken- RM8.80 for 2 pcs
Marinated chicken fillet wrapped in pandan leaf

Before we went straight to the steamboat, Andrea treated us with some COCA's signature appetizers- the COCA Stuffed Prawns (RM9 per pc) and Pandan Chicken (RM8.80 for 2 pcs).

The Stuffed Prawns were stuffed with prawn and fish paste, bits of mushrooms and subsequently deep fried. Though I would love to say I like this dish, the process of eating it can be alittle messy as the stuffings don't detach easily from the shells. It will take more than just a fork to eat this, I suggest to use your fingers like we did.

The Pandan Chicken was a lovely surprise. I like this as it is boneless and contains the aromatic flavours of pandan.

Next, it was Steamboat Time!

We were treated to their current Steamboat Promotion:

Set Menu A priced at RM98++ for 2 persons

Deep Fried Fish Paste x 2 nos

Steamboat Ingredients
Tiger Prawns (200g) x 1 plate
Jelly Fish x 1 plate
Stuffed Squid x 1 plate
Chicken Ball x 1 plate
Chicken Fillet x 1 plate
Fish Glue x 1 plate
COCA Foo Chuk x 1 plate
House Special Dumpling x 1 plate
Chinese Cabbage x 1 plate
Morning Glory x 1 plate
Tofu x 1 plate
Green Noodles x 1 plate
Egg x 2 nos

To taste the best of both worlds, we chose to have the Yin Yang- the clear and Tom Yum broth.

There is even a waiter to help us as we sat back and enjoy the food. The above picture shows the waiter showing how the fish paste should be scraped from the plate into the boiling soup.

Apparently I have read from many places that the fish paste sticks on to the plate and the only way to scrape it out is to run some boiling broth over it and scrape them out part by part.

The Tom Yum broth is quite distinctive as I notice that it is more concentrated unlike many steamboat joints out there. It also guarantees giving you a spicy kick. The clear broth however fails to shine in my humble tastebud opinion, maybe because I had the Tom Yum first.

The spinach noodles certainly caught my eyes as they're green! I supposed it should be famous so eventhough I was stuffed, I had to try it. I especially like the fried garlics though, it went well with the noodles and clear broth. I have found a new liking for fried garlics, fried onions, fried anchovies and fried dried baby shrimps. One thing they all have in common is they go so well with noodles!! Yumm yummm.

I know it's really weird that many times when we're already so stuffed, we still somehow have space for desserts!

Fresh Mango with Glutinous Rice (RM21.90)

A meal at a Thai place is never complete without the Fresh Mango with Glutinous Rice (RM21.90). This is one dessert which is packed on calories and carbs but I can't be bothered to care as it is OhSoGooood. Best part is the glutinous rice was still warm and fluffy.

Durian Puree

Andrea recommended the durian puree to go with the glutinous rice as well. This is actually another dessert on its own called Fresh Mango Pulut with Durian (RM23.90) but the durian puree was served in a different cup because some people don't take durian. The durian puree was really good, even on its own. Sinful, sinful but wonderful!

Water Chestnut with Coconut Milk- RM7.50

Sago in Coconut Milk- RM7.50

The Water Chestnut with Coconut Milk is also commonly known as Tab Tim Grob (or Red Rubies). This well-known uniquely Thai dessert fared better than the Sago in Coconut Milk. Again, perhaps I had the more strong flavour durian puree earlier on, the Sago in Coconut Milk tasted pretty bland in comparison.

p/s: The drinks & desserts are not included in the set promotion :)

COCA Restaurant is also running a buffet promotion where unlimited appetizers are available for your consumption. Do check out my flickr set for more photos of the appetizers available.

Note: I gathered from Andrea that the pricing for COCA is slightly above average due to the freshness of their ingredients (ie. the kitchen makes all the meatballs and fish glues from fresh with strictly NO preservatives).

Thanks HB and Andrea for the hospitality and invite.

Read HB's review here.

COCA Subang Parade
Lot G28, Level G,
Subang Parade,
5, Jalan SS16/1, Subang Jaya.
Tel: 03-5632 8766

COCA 1 Utama
Lot G38 & F40,
1 Utama Shopping Centre,
1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama.
Tel: 03-7727 3180

[disclaimer: the opinions expressed here are based on my personal views, tastebuds and preference and may vary for others. please dont sue me, i dont have money. kthxbye.]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Chinese New Year Statistics Report

I know Chinese New Year is long gone but I am sure you do the same thing too after the 15-days festive celebration- COUNT ANG PAOs!!

(p/s: This post is intended to bring back the CNY mood in the midst of a very busy week at work)

Every year I do the same, in fact there's no particular ritual for me (some people tell me that they don't open their red packets till after the 15th, some tell me they don't open the ones given by their parents, some say they keep it in their wallets for blessings etc), I for one open my ang pao right after the person who gave it away looks the other way! *sniggers* :DDDDD

Here, I have compiled information and tabulate statictics charts and shall give you a report on my CNY revenue collection. I'm telling you I have been doing so much reports for the past week that drawing up a chart has become my forte at work these days...

Total Ang Pao collected this year would be 36 packets. Most of which are from relatives and a few from colleagues and boss. I wish I did a statistics report last year and the previous years so that the accountant in me knows whether this year's quantity collection has improved or eitherwise. I shall do that next year!

Of all colored ang paos ever manufactured, I like GOLD ze best! Gold packets always give me an impression that the amount given will justify the color. Most of the time it's just red inside but I've been pretty lucky this year as all gold packets I received is valued RM30 and above! Woohoo!

Before I reveal which ang pao packet is my favourite and will deserve the BEST LOOKING ANG PAO OF THE YEAR Award, allow me to show you some statistics first......

Banks love to give out ang pao packets during CNY and people love to use ang pao packets by banks on CNY, so it's not surprising that I received the most bank-sponsored ang paos, 25 out of 40 or 62.5%.

There were also some red packets from big corporations like Genting, CSM, SP Setia and Sunshine Supermarket (I remember very well it's from my Penang aunt as she gives out Sunshine Supermarket ang pao every single year and Penang is the only place with SS?). Then there were quite a few from Magnum, Sports Toto and Da Ma Cai (grrr, still geram with my 'so near yet so far' of hitting jackpot encounter).

Also, from the liquor companies, there's 2 from DOM Benedictine (by Bacardi Martini) and 2 from Martell (by Pernod Ricard). DOM's ang pao was quite bad quality, Martell's was much nicer :) There's also one from Hennesy (Gold Packets picture, 2nd from left).

The BEST LOOKING ANG PAO OF THE YEAR Award goes to.............

The Royal Bank of Scotland! This was given by Ms Koh, former Student Affairs Manager at our college. She always give very special looking ang paos and this year is of no exception! Besides being gold (my fav!), the design is very special, opens up like a paper wallet, very simple but creative!

The BEST BANK-SPONSORED ANG PAO Award goes to.......

OCBC Bank! I actually received 2 from OCBC Bank, one is red and the other is peachy pink. I think they produced a few designs, like a set- collect all 4 designs or something! For a relatively unpopular bank, OCBC did a good job here unlike the very boring designs by other banks. HSBC's ang paos are equally good too, as you can see above (the gold packets picture).

Ok, here comes the TOP REVENUE CONTRIBUTORS Award........

My Parents of course!!!

Here's the revenue statistics......

Top contributor would be my parents, followed by C's mom, my boss, Ms Koh and E's music teacher (who sells the most awesome kai see hor fun in the world)..... I did not put in the RM10 and RM5 contributors as there were too many and I can't possibly remember.

Looks quite a lot of money but I can assure you 3/4 of it is gone now, mainly to petrol and toll, mobile phone reloads, losing some to the friendly card games, my daily lunch money, financing my Perth trip in March, February household contribution etc.

You can also read Z's Ang Pao Awards here.
template by