March 28, 2013

Siam Reap - Eat, Drink, and be Merry

Even though I'm no food expert  I try to do some research before my travels for must-try food or restaurants. However, my trip to Cambodia during Chinese New Year break was a last minute decision and I was too busy to do any research. 

So when we arrived there, we were at the mercies of the tuk tuk drivers and advertisements :)

Our tuk tuk driver dropped up at the entrance of The Soup Dragon Vietnamese Restaurant. Cambodian, Vietnamese and Thais were very closely connected, evidence shown even in their local food. Located right at the entrance of Pub Street, corner lot; first impression was that it's definitely a tourist spot. However, the prices and the food changed our mind. Set up was cosy with lounges to make dining comfortable. And the huge fan blasting out cool air was perfect for hot dusty Cambodian weather. 

Pho cooked with beef, priced at 2 USD (price the same for most of the dishes), were quite similar to our Malaysian Chinese Kuey Teow soup. However, the soup itself had a blander taste. 

I ordered the dry pho (can't recall the exact name) which was very delicious, except that there was too much bean sprouts. Everybody like it that we order a second bowl. Priced at 2 USD. 

Vietnamese spring rolls. A little rubberish but I like it. Like our own chee cheung fan. Thin layers with mince beef and fried onions. Priced at 2.5 USD. 

Vietnamese Cofee and Pineapple shake. Perfect for thirst quenching. 

Khemer Kitchen Restaurant seem to be very popular with seats all filled and we had to wait our turn for a table. Food was good. Not super duper fantastic but just nice. 

Passion Juice. 1.50 USD.

Yoghurt Pineapple Shake. 1.50 USD

Khmer Curry with Chicken. 4 USD. 

Banana Blossom Salad. 4 USD

Fried Morning Glory. 3 USD

Deep Fried Prawn & Powder. 4 USD

Trey Prama Omellet & Pork. 4 USD. 

Another restaurant that the van driver brought us to was somewhere north of Siam Reap, directly opposite the Srah Srang, a baray (water reservior), which is opposite the east entrance of Banteay Kdei. The 'Srah Srang Restaurant', or so I coined it, is definitely a tourist restaurant. It has beautiful green plants all around, like an oasis in the middle of the dessert. We ordered Tom Yam, chicken and a salad. I can't recall the price but it was the most costly meal we had in Siam Reap. Food was good however. Maybe because we were too hungry after walking through temples the whole morning.

We satisfied our thirst with ice cold Cambodian tea and Strawberry smoothie. 

One night, Rockstar and I headed out towards the night market and chance upon this corner open-air restaurant, managed by a Cambodian Chinese man with an English name. What caught our attention was that they had steamboat for 2.50 USD per set. It came with rice, noodles, beef, squid, prawn, egg and vegetables. We ordered another grilled squid and stir-fried noodles. Hot, yummy, delicious. It was one of the best meal we had in Siam Reap. Total meal came up to 7.50 USD. Their fruit shakes are cheap and good. We had 2 cups each and came back for more the next night. Their dragon fruit juice is a must-try. We went for round 2 dinner the next night. 

We also had Amok twice. Amok is like a steamed Khmer curry. It comes with either fish, chicken or your choice of meat/seafood. However, fish was strongly recommended and I will say that its good. Thick and kinda mushy but very tasty. 

We also tried the Lok Lak, a mince stir fried beef dish, another popular Cambodian food. It was just right before we left and since my in-laws are not every adventurous with food,  I was the only one for ordered. It came with rice, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes and an egg. The meat was slightly dry but the sauce that came with it was tasty. 

We also managed to try the KFC one hot afternoon, just because it was air-conditioned. Everything is similar except they had beef noodle soup, which cost only 1 USD. My in-laws really like it. 

So yup, my food experience in Siam Reap, not very adventurous but at least I managed to try a few popular dishes. Just a few point to note, if you are heading that way :

1. Order & drink as many fruit juices, shakes, smoothies as you can. Its cheap and made from real fruits. 
2. Try as many curries as you can. They have so many variety, and each unique on its on. 
3. I know I shouldn't promote this but Drink! Alcohol is super cheap. Draft beer goes for 0.50 USD per glass. Go figure. 
4. Be adventurous  I got to say (even though I am Malaysian), Siam Reap is like a food heaven. So many restaurants and cafes to choose from and its all mostly concentrated in 1 area. 

Happy feasting!!

March 20, 2013

A night @ Empire Hotel Subang

I like short gateways. Its adds spice to life like water to a parched soul. -_-

 I was just housekeeping my photos when I found this folder of my not-so-recent but super short getaway. I was driving back home, way past midnight after my sister's birthday celebration when I received a call from Rockstar. He had just finish a gig at The Empire Hotel New Year Countdown Party. He told me, 'Pack your bag, we got a free room.' 

Mind you, this was almost 1+ in the morning on 1st January 2013. I know most girls would baulk at going at such a short notice because they have tons of things to pack. But I'm unlike most girls. :p  (Having ready packed toiletries helps.) All I needed was to get home, grab my ready-packed toiletries, pyjamas, a change of clothes and I am good to go. 

Here's what awaited me. 

The room was a surprised because of the layout. Perfect especially for business travellers who need a small work space away from the bed (or a place to have an overnight party). Upon entering, I found myself at a spacious area completed with sofa, desk and chair and wardrobe. Glass door hides the wardrobe from prying eyes. 

Walking further in, along a short walkway, I spotted the toilet, which also hides itself with just a slide of wooden panels. 

Toilet is big and airy and it has a rain shower. Yay! I am a sucker for rain showers. 

Bed area is a little small but the bed is size super single. My favourite part about staying in hotels are their beds. So soft and comfortable. It's especially nice when the air-con is on and I can snuggle under the warm blankets. 

Television is provided directly opposite the bed. Not sure what channels was available as we didn't use it. 

I also like the full-length glass mirror and the opposite side of the toilet, along the short walkway. 

Next morning (or just a few hours later), breakfast was satisfying. Fresh warm croissant, french toasts, pancakes, sausages, hash browns, slice bacon, omelette. That's what I had. There were others like local delights, porridge, pastries, cereal, etc. 

I love how the breakfast area/ restaurant is so bright and airy. Outside balcony faces the Federal Highway.

 This hotel is just perfect for a short weekend gateway  Why? Because Empire Shopping Gallery is just downstairs and Subang Parade is just across the road. How nice it will be to be able to shop and when you are tired, just take the lift up to rest, before continue shopping again. Bliss!

I wished I could stay longer and enjoy the hotel even more, but I had an early shopping appointment with the girls. I left the hotel reluctantly. 

March 14, 2013

Packing Tip : Small and Liquid Stuff

I consider myself quite a season traveller which is why something happened over the weekend that I couldn't forgive myself. I packed an overnight bag for my sister's wedding last Saturday and when I got home, I was too tired to unpack till late Sunday afternoon. Guess what? I found my entire 250ml bottle of shampoo, which I paid RM100+ for just 2 days before, emptied over half the content of my bag and soaked into the floor parquet. My heart was broken. RM100++ just when down the drain (and floor)

No. That's not my shampoo. It's just Monkey Balm that I got on my last trip to Cambodia. 

Anyway, the point is - I learn my lesson. (I hope). So here's some pointers if you are travelling or just overnighting:

1. Cap/ Seal all containers tightly before packing them.
2. Put ALL liquids into resealable plastic bags. 
3. Don't bring toiletries in their original big containers. Repack them into smaller ones. 
4. Unpack bag the soonest possible. The longer you leave in, the higher chance something might happen... or your bag will get stinkier from worn dirty clothes. 
5. Don't buy bring expensive products when you are travelling. Seriously. You'll stress less. 

Anyway, since I will be travelling tonight again. I thought it would be nice to show you how or what I packed. 

Firstly, I keep my travel toiletries all packed and ready. Since I travel quite often, its easier to just grab the whole bag and go. Secondly, I use clear resealable bags as I sometimes travel with just a hand-carry and its easier to go through customs that way.  Thirdly, I sort my toiletries into 3 different bags. 

No. 1. The Essentials. Just in case I need to freshen up on the road. Then I could just stuff this into my handbag instead of lugging my entire toiletries stash. Just simple necessary stuff like my toothbrush, toothpaste, contact lense and solution, shampoo, shower gel, deodorant, facial wash, toner & moisturiser. Of cos, essentials varies from individuals. But this is just my getup. 

No.2. The Everything Else. This is just additional toiletries that I require depending on where I visit. Things like conditioner, extra contact lenses, body lotion, mouth wash, face scrub, make-up remover, day & night cream, extra cotton pad, hairband and clips, nail file, extra tissue, a mask or two, etc. It really depends on where you travel. For eg, I am travelling outstation for my sister's wedding dinner. Since I need to dress up, I throw in a hairspray and hair oil. My last trip to Cambodia, I brought extra sunblock lotion and wet wipes. Customise it according to your destination.  

I like to put the smaller stuff into a smaller plastic bag so that it doesn't go missing in the big bag. And also, if anything ever spills, this will be an extra protection. 

No.3. The Ever Ready. Chessy? Yes. But this bag just became a staple part of my travels. I guess the older I got, the weaker my body gets. So I need pills and tablets sometimes to get me back on track, un-upset my weak stomach, and ready for the day. Normally i throw in some plasters and ointment for mozzie bites too. I got a vitamin case in Japan Daiso for only 100 yen. What I like about it is that, each case is removable. I can pack my vitamins depending on the no. of days I travel. 

Here's how I packed my jewelleries & accessories. I started doing this after one too many cases of broken accessories en route. Many lessons learn before I decided it has to stop. So here's what I do. For shorter trips, I got this tiny weave basket that fits perfectly. I planned my outfit before hand and sort my accessories according to outfit and just take them out when I dress up. If i have longer trips or carry bigger items, i currently use a box. It's not the best but its perfect for now. I don't have to worry about broken necklaces, or broken earrings, or broken headbands anymore.  

Bigger items are stash into separate bags to protect from getting tangled, broken, or scratches. My stuff has a longer life span and its easier to pack, unpack or search for when I need them. You can find them in Daiso or just sew them on your own.

Lastly, if I carry watches, I bring this slim case to protect them from scratches.

Of cos different types of traveling calls for different items to be pack, but this are some basic stuff. Sometimes, when i travel light, i just grab my jeans and t-shirts and leave my accessories and extras behind. So yup, here are my traveling tips for packing toiletries and accessories. Hope it helps. Happy traveling! :)

March 12, 2013

Last dinner @ Little Heritage House

Me twinnie got married last Saturday and we celebrated her last night of single-hood with a dinner - just the immediate Chew family without the husbands. It was great. Feels like we when back to yesteryear when none of us were married yet. 

Anyway, our choice was Decanter @ Sec 17 but just a few doors away, something caught out eyes. And we ended up having dinner at a quaint little place called Little Heritage House. 

The Heritage House is a family business. Started out in antiques before the younger ones decided to explore the restaurant business. Little Heritage House - Straits Chinese Kitchen - is a Timeline concept dining experience dedicated to the revival of the Straits Chinese culture. Inspired by the rich cultured of Nyonya Cuisine, their concept is Nyonya food which kitchen is headed by an authentic Nyonya from Penang. 

Small appetizer of nuts, crunchy ikan bilis marinated well with herbs and spices giving it a very unique taste with a hint of spiciness. Some of us like it, some didn't fancy it. 

We didn't have to wait long before our food arrived. Hot, steaming, smelling absolutely delicious - Nyonya Chicken Rendang. The hardness of the potatoes did not mar the delicious broth and the chicken was cooked  to perfection. Portion was big enough for our family of 7. At the end of dinner, we even had balance broth which we requested to tapau (packed) back and our request was kindly entertained without questions. Yay! Yummy rendang to dip bread in for breakfast. 

RM28 (small)   RM38 (large)
The Jiew Hu Char, a traditional nyonya food had a slight sour tinge to it but that was because of the shrimps and mushrooms. We wrapped them up with the lettuce leaf provided, add a little special chili sauce and we are good to go. Crunchy yet squishy, I had a hard time keeping the sauce from dribbling down my chin. 

RM25 (small)     RM38 (large)

We were recommended to take the Curry Tumis Siakap Fish which was the special of the day and it did not disappoint. We all loved the sauce. Very unique, a little like asam laksa but heavier and thicker. And the portion was so big that we also tapau (packed) the balance home. So yummy!

Estimate RM60++

The Asam Prawns/ Tamarind Fried was another favourite. Big prawns, well cleaned (I am fussy like that) and marinated well. I couldn't stop licking the sauce of the prawns and my fingers. What I like about it is that even after removing the shell, the prawn still had the tamarind taste on its flesh. I am definitely going back for this. 

RM33 (small)     RM48 (large)

Dad ended the dinner with a cup of coffee which was sadly a disappointment after the delicious dinner. 

We ordered desserts to share. Clockwise from top : Pulut Hitam with Mata Kuching, Sago Gula Melaka, and Traditional Cendol 2 Red Beans. My sisters like the Pulut Hitam and Cendol but my picked would be the Sago Gula Melaka. So sweet and tasty. 

RM5 (small)     RM8 (large)

One of the owners offered us to try their home-grown mini pineapple which we did. Sweet to the extend of being honey-like, it was good. However, my mum didn't like it. 

RM4 each

Leo, one of the owners, took us on a tour upstairs. Decorated in a traditional nyonya culture, it was beautiful yet eerie at the same time (or so my sister claims). I like it. It had a modern feel yet not giving up the heritage and heirlooms of bygone times. Like stepping back into my grandmother's time with a twist. They have much bigger tables that could even sit up to 22 people. Great for mini parties. 

We had a great time and we left with a satisfied tummy and a smile. Thanks to Leo, Apple and Jensen for exceptional service and for treating us like family. We will be back. Soon. :)

Little Heritage House
- Straits Chinese Kitchen -
No.23, Ground & 1st Floor,
Jalan 17/56,
46400 Petaling Jaya

Tel no. 03-79321810
Mobile: 012-4736181 (CK Leo)

Operation Hour :
12-3pm (Lunch)
6-10pm (Dinner)

p.s. All pictures taken with my iPad Mini.