Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Sunshine After the Haze

Finally, after 5 days of hazy skyline in Mont Kiara, we witnessed sunny skies! It felt so good to finally open the windows and balconies at our condominium. I totally loved the weather we had today -- sunny blue skies and fresh air. A reminder to all of us that the important things in life cannot be bought. The beautiful skies brought good vibes and kept us in good spirits all day. 

I hope the sunny, bright skies and fresh air are here to stay.

Mont Kiara Skyline

Before and After Photos of the Haze at Mont Kiara

Affordable Way to Get to Manila

I can sense the growing interest of people from Malaysia to travel to my home country, the Philippines. Perhaps it's because of the increasingly growing economy (thanks to the new President, which I hope will deliver more than the previous ones). Or perhaps the increasing coverage of its islands like Boracay and Palawan. Maybe because of its campaign called "More Fun In the Philippines"?

Anyway, whatever the reasons are, the cheapest way to get to Manila is via Cebu Pacific. I am aware that there is the Air Asia option, however, unless Air Asia starts flying directly into NAIA (the airport at the heart of Manila), I will never take that route. Air Asia currently lands directly into Clark, which is a pain, if you want to get to Manila. Did I mention the hell traffic in Manila, you wouldn't want to get caught up in that!

Meanwhile, I wanted to share a little piece of information. If you plan your trip well, you could get cheap tickets to Manila via Cebu Pacific airline. In my experience for the past 6 years living in KL, this has been an "okay" airline delivering decent service at a good price.

I received a notification on their seat sale, which can get very, very interesting.

Another option is to take Malaysian Airlines or Philippine Airlines. Though most of the time it can be pricey. I heard from a friend that occasionally they do seat sales, but not as often as Cebu Pacific.

Cebu Pacific site:

Sample of one of the Seat Sale alerts from Cebu Pacific

Wendy's and Haze

Trying our best to combat the haze that has engulfed Kuala Lumpur
The past four days have been bummer because of the terrible haze enveloping Malaysia. I felt like a prisoner in my own home, unable to open windows and had to stay indoors. It started on Saturday June 22, 2013 and got worse when we woke up on Monday morning. My daughter didn't go to school. We could see the thick haze from outside our window and balcony. The Mont Kiara buildings and skyline were blurry and foggy-like.

By Wednesday June 26, my daughter had fever. I don't associate that to the haze, I suspect it was because of the flu. We decided to drive to the doctor's office. After a trip to the doctor, my daughter wanted her cheesy pasta treat so we passed by Wendy's at Mont Kiara. As you already know, my daughter loves the Wendy's Cheese Mushroom melt pasta. I am amazed at how she can finish one order of that... while for other food she usually eats slow. After days being trapped at home, we decided to just eat there inside Wendy's, for a different ambience!

As always, I was quite satisfied with their hamburger, which in my view is better than McDonald's. Meanwhile daughter was happy with her pasta. As we were half way through the meal, the waiter walked by and gave us three face masks.  What a great initiative by Wendy's which is much appreciated especially during these times!

Wendy's Mont Kiara gave away face masks to all its patrons
A thoughtful gesture

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reliable Japanese Cuisine: Rakuzen

Since we arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 2006, one name synonymous to reliable Japanese cuisine is Rakuzen (and the Rakuzen group). For people who have seen the long queues of Sushi Zanmai, well, it is from the same group. Reliability has its attractiveness, because one of the worst things that could happen is to walk into a Japanese restaurant, get overcharged or served below quality food. This has happened to us numerous times, and because of that, when we want reliable Japanese food that is predictable, we go to Rakuzen.

We are happy that there is a Rakuzen nearby our area. In the past, there was only the Plaza Damas branch (Hartamas Shopping Centre). I find that place a bit old and because of the design of the place, it is hard to get the attention (and good service) from the waiters. Despite that, many people still go to Rakuzen there. Recently, they opened Rakuzen in Publika which was a welcome site. We frequented the place, and even spent one new year's eve dinner there (which was near their grand opening date).

Today, we were spending a lazy Sunday at home, hiding out from the haze. However, my daughter was looking for some Japanese food so we thought of popping by our reliable choice at Publika, and we were not disappointed. In fact, the place was packed and we had our lunch at 2:00pm!

One of our regular orders in Rakuzen would be the Teppanyaki Zen which consist of beef cubes served with garlic rice. At lunch time, their sets are cheaper. Dinner time menu is slightly pricier.

Rating for Rakuzen Publika:

Ambience: 9/10 good seats, different type of rooms and have small function rooms

Service: 9/10 today's service very attentive, they have a call button on the table, came to refill the tea without being called

Food quality: 10/10  Food quality and consistency is very good

Price: 9/10 Decent pricing especially for lunch set

Kid-friendly: 9/10 They have children plates and high-chair available

Teppanyaki Zen set - beef cubes served with garlic rice

Bill for 2 adults and 1 toddler

Lunch Set Menu

The other lunch set menu available

Full page of the lunch set menu at Rakuzen

Publika Solaris Dutamas,
1 Jalan Dutamas 1,
50480 Kuala Lumpur. 

TEL : 03 6411 0822 / 012 386 1700
FAX : 03 6411 0833 

Daily 12.00pm - 3.00 & 6.00pm - 11.00pm 

Lavender Bakery Yummy Bread & Fast Service

One of the nice bakeries inside the mall is called Lavender. They have a very nice large shop at One Utama newly renovated wing (close to Isetan on the ground floor). They even have a dine-in area for that branch.

We like buying some bread and pasties from this shop before we go home (when we are in the mall). The quality is pretty good and the service is good -- they pack the bread very fast and they are efficient at the cashier area.

The other Lavender branches we have been to : Pavilion (at the basement, very close to the escalator and near Pepper Lunch), plus the other one in Mid Valley (which is close to Carrefour, also at the basement).

Lavender Bakery at Pavilion
Affordable and nice bread & pastries
Cheese Sausage Roll
Mexican King bread - nice for breakfast
Lavender Bread and Pastries

Watching Movies in KL

Since we had our little one, we don't watch movies as often as we did in the past. Hence, when there are special movies that are on, we prefer to watch at a nice place like Gardens Mall. I believe the ticket price is slightly more than the regular movie cinemas, however you will appreciate the comfortable seats and premium feel of the place.

We did try the Gold Class once and you will fall in love with their lazy boy seats. It is really comfortable and comes with a "waiter" service and call button. Your drinks and food will be delivered to your lazy boy seats (equipped with a table of course).

Our regular movie watching will usually be at the Premiere seats. For 3 people I paid RM87 -- this is when we watched the recent Monster University with my little one. She totally enjoyed the experience. I was afraid that 1 hour and 50 minutes for a cartoons movie will be too long for a 3-year old, but I was proven wrong and she enjoyed it. One of her fond memories of it is eating popcorn while watching.

GSC Gardens Cinema ticket pricing HERE

Movie at the Gardens GSC Cinema
Love the seats at the Premiere because it is segregated two-by-two. This is the small Cinema 4.
RM87 for 3 people in GSC Cinema at the Gardens
Slightly higher price than other places, but worth it.

Gold Class seats at Gardens. Each seat comes with a blanket to ensure comfort!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Haze in Mont Kiara Kuala Lumpur

We woke up to a hazy skyline on a Saturday morning. I rushed off to my French class in Bangsar, and that was the time it hit me. I could smell the scent of "burning" which was unpleasant and was causing me to cough. It's bad enough I caught this cough sickness for the past week (thanks to my daughter) and now it is aggravated by the haze. After my class I walked towards Bangsar Village and you could really, really smell the haze.

As we drove back home from Bangsar to Mont Kiara, you will immediately notice the haze. Usually from the vantage point of the highway (elevated part), one could see the high-rise buildings of Mont Kiara. 

I really feel bad for the Singaporeans who suffered a week of haze. I saw all the Facebook updates of friends living there and it was worse than what we are experiencing. Someone even posted about how their Malaysian friends were buying off a number of air purifiers and sending it to Singapore (because they ran out). 

How I wish we could put a stop to this silliness which Indonesia is guilty off. However, every year we suffer the same thing. When will all this stop? When the trees are finished and no more land can be cultivated? 

Not sure if the Malaysian government is doing anything about it. Sigh.


Update: Sunday June 23 morning, we woke up to an even hazier atmosphere. The haze is worse than yesterday. We went to Publika for a late lunch, and though hazy, there were many people out and about doing their weekend thing.

Today is horrible and many people on Facebook posting their hazy skyline photos. I wonder when this will end.

Usually from this point I could see the buildings of Mont Kiara very well.
Today, June 22, it was hazy!
Hazy skyline and blurry atmosphere
Turning towards the exit of Mont Kiara, you can barely see the buildings behind

Seafood Spree: Fish & Co. Is The Place to Be

I classify myself as more of a meat eater than anything else. Though I admit as we get older, we tend to cut down on the meat and focus on other stuff -- like vegetables and seafood. I have often been disappointed with seafood meals around Kuala Lumpur, except when we dine in our usual Japanese restaurant of choice. Even the Japanese restaurants have different "grades" where the occasional hit-and-miss still happens (and we walk away so disappointed). Which meant that for our seafood fix, I would go to TTDI market and buy it there then cook at home. The stuff I usually buy would be fish & shrimp. However, the downside of buying and cooking it yourself: you kind of get tired of it after a while because I cook it in the few different ways that I know.

Very original "fishy" wood table mat ... creates a more premium ambience

Now, I am glad and happy that there is a place we can go to for a decent seafood meal (sans being ripped off by quality or price).

The Fish & Co. at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is definitely a welcome sight to seafood lovers. The ambience, as you walk into the restaurant, left me astonished because the place was huge! They had all sorts of different seating styles to suit your taste: from blue-and-white navy themed seats, to wooden seats like in a ship, comfortable lounges, booth-style seats and a VIP area. Quite impressive in terms of seating capacity and choice of seats.

Here's a rundown on the GOOD (and BAD) POINTS of our visit on a Saturday lunch time:

  • Parents will love this place. I did. They are very child-friendly. They have a paper menu which doubles up as an activity sheet. They provide color pencils and had some sea-themed hat to keep the little one entertained while parents order. Daughter enjoyed the Creamy Penne Pasta and the presentation was interesting for the little one
  • Premium Feel: I am not a fan of places like TGIF Fridays or places like that sort simply because I find that the food is not of good quality. Initially I had that view of Fish & Co. (though I have never been there, more like just an inkling of what it is) and I was so wrong. You could immediately feel the nice ambience and the effort that was put behind making the place look more upscale and classy. Wood fish-design placemats, nice metal pan-style plates, printed tissue and nice utensils are just some of the things that make the overall ambience much more pleasant.
  • Good and friendly service especially from the Filipino staff. Proactive in telling me that we could change some of the chips/fries into rice... which I think Asians would appreciate.
  • FOOD: the fish and chips we tried were both very good. Definitely the place to go to for those looking for a good "batter" and quality. The Starter Platter was nice to kick-off the meal with very tender calamari. And of course if dining for 2 people: a wise choice would be to share a Seafood Platter for variety. The paella rice was a highlight for us: enjoyed eating it with the seafood, and it had some bits of raisins for a touch of sweetness. 
  • DESSERT: Hot Fudge Chocolate Cake that came with Vanilla ice cream was the winner. The chocolate was not too sweet, and coupled with the ice cream it tasted like heaven. Best taken with a cup of latte -- which to my delight, they had decaffeinated version!  A good place for pregnant women like me.

  • VIP seating area was freezing cold. Perhaps need to be adjusted according to how much people are in the restaurant.
  • The Soup of the Day (fish chowder) was nice, however we would have enjoyed it more if it was served piping hot.
  • Salmon teriyaki tasted nice. However I do feel that it was actually smaller than what I saw from the picture on the menu. The beautiful picture in the menu raised my expectation on the salmon teriyaki size.

Overall: I would give it a score 9/10 for the overall package it brings : food, price, ambience and child-friendliness.

Would we go back? Yes, definitely. Especially on seafood craving days.

Fish & Co.
4th Floor Connection Precinct (right beside Morganfields, same floor as Ippudo Ramen)
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

Happy girl received a nice Fish & Co. folder from the nice manager

Nice tissue design

VIP area at the far end of Fish & Co. in Pavilion KL
Very impressive furniture and ambience
Love the whole look & premium feel. Nice for parties and private functions
Clams with curry butter sauce - different from the traditional clams
I am glad it was not spicy!

Pink Passion and Deep Love drinks - fancy & icy
Love the menu. At first I thought it was a magazine... in fact it was the menu.
Big, with lots of pictures in it. Easy to make your choice!
Entrance of the Fish & Co. in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
Impressive entrance. Huge place. I was told it can hold 250 pax
VIP area has nice ambience with the blue and red color theme.
Warning though: it can get a bit too cold. Good thing we brought light jackets.
Hubby had to use my shawl just to stay warm.
One of the best things about this place: the kids' menu!
My daughter loved the pasta with double cream sauce.
Plus the menu acts a coloring & activity paper (when you flip it over)
They provide color pencils to keep your little one busy while you order!
Very kid-friendly in my opinion.
Soup of the day - it was nice and creamy.
However, we would have preferred it served extra warm.
Not sure if it was not warm in the first place, or the VIP sitting area was just too freezing cold
I like my soup very warm. Would have enjoyed more if it was piping hot.
Beautiful finishing on the VIP seats. Love the color and details
VIP seats were very comfy and tasteful
Blue & white "navy color" seats as you enter. 
Another type of seating for those who prefer something closer to the window
The bar area where they mix up the drinks
Salmon Teriyaki was tasty.
Was happy that they had the option to change the mashed potatoes to the paella rice.
Daughter loved the "crown" hat that they gave.
It made her feel like a princess.
Italian Fish and Chips was surprisingly very good.
There were some cheese inside. My friend commented that the batter was well done.
She said it tasted as good as the fish and chips she had in New Zealand.
One of the highlights in our opinion. Fish and Chips worth ordering it here in Fish & Co.  
Swiss Fish and Chips
This one had the lemon butter sauce and cheese combination. It was also very good,
Definitely recommended for fish and chip lovers.
Seafood Platter Good for 2 people
RM52.95 (before tax)
Pretty good deal for seafood lovers who want to have a seafood spree!
We loved the paella rice that came with it.
Look who enjoyed the meal at Fish & Co.
Definitely a kid-friendly place.
Was very happy to see my daughter eating away (which she doesn't usually do)
Plus she gave it a thumbs up!
What did she like??? The Penne Creamy Pasta and the Shrimp from the Starter Platter

Starter Platter: the calamari were soft and crunchy at the same time. I don't usually order calamari
but this one was good in my opinion. 
Daughter's Penne Cream Pasta came in a nice little pan.
She almost finished the whole thing.
Red Velvet Cheesecake - creamy... though the dessert winner for
me personally is the Hot Fudge Chocolate Cake

Pecan Cluster Cake - hubby enjoyed it though this is very much on the sweet side

Hot Fudge Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
For the dessert lovers who prefer their choco cake not too sweet.
This is the dessert winner for us!

The bill for 4 adults and 1 child.
This is on over-eating mode, with starters, mains, dessert and coffee.
I must note however that today was extra special as we were treated to the meal.
We would definitely come back for a revisit with my little one.
Nespresso latte for my friend
Served with Nespresso Latte Cup & Saucer
and some yummy biscotti
Capuccino with Nespresso cup and teaspoon
Just like how I remember it when I went to the Parisian
Nespresso shop
Nespresso Latte - they have decaf version
for pregnant women like me... yayy!
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