Our Secret Santa Xmas at Betty’s!

I’ve always heard of people doing Secret Santa gift exchanges during Christmas, but I’ve never had the chance to do it myself! I thought it’s a really fun idea, to buy something nice for a friend without his knowledge! :) So, I took the chance this year to organize one with my fellow tweeples. :) It started with a FB message to everyone in the gang, just to test water, but it turned out that everyone was game!

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Picture of piggies at Betty’s Midwest Kitchen

It was quite simple: I just had to enter everyone’s email address in SecretSanta.com, and an invitation would be sent out. The attendees had to RSVP and after that, I just needed to click a button to ask SecretSanta.com to match the Secret Santas to the recipients randomly. It will automatically send an email to all the attendees, informing them who their Secret recipient is. This way, no one, including myself, would know who is buying for who! Plus, we all could write down our wish list, in the hopes that our Secret Santa would be generous enough to grant us our wish! *LOL*

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Welcome to Betty’s Midwest Kitchen

On that day, we all gathered at Betty’s Midwest Kitchen for our early Christmas lunch and Secret Santa exchange event! All our gifts were placed under the Christmas tree. :)

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Our gifts under the tree

Before we did the gift exchange, we had a hearty lunch! Most of us ordered the Lemonade for our drinks. It was slightly sour and refreshing, nice on a hot afternoon.

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Homemade Lemonade (RM2.50)

While everyone was looking at the menu and deciding what to eat, look at what Ethan was doing! Digging his nose while playing with Iphone! That’s what I call multitasking! *LOL*

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Multitasking

Saucer and Foong ordered the same dish of Classic Meatloaf, which I thought was juicy and tender. Loved the sweet taste of carrots bits which was infused within the meatloaf!

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Classic Meatloaf (RM16.50)

William ordered the Beer Batter Fish. I didn’t get to try this, I wonder if there was really beer inside. *LOL*

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Beer Batter Fish (RM22)

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Pork Chop with Apples (RM23) ordered by Erika

The star dish though, was the Pork Belly ordered by Grey! Just look at it! Crispy, slightly charred edges and golden brown skin! It had the right balance of fatty and lean meat, and it was so good! I only had the lean meat which would usually be a dry but this wasn’t at all. It was tender, moist and flavourful! I wish I had ordered this for myself.

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Pork Belly (RM27.50)

Ethan and Merryn had the Bacon Tomato Spaghetti which was not bad. These days, I seldom find tomato spaghetti that impresses me because I’ve cooked and eaten too much of it at home! *LOL* OK, I’m not bragging here but when you cook and experiment too many times, you generally set a much higher standard for that particular dish.

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Bacon Tomato Spaghetti (RM15.00)

As for me, I ordered the Pork Chop with Country Gravy, which was quite disappointing. For starters, the pork chop was tough, dry and perhaps overcooked. It was also bland if not for the gravy on top. The only saving grace for this dish was really the gravy. It was a little buttery, creamy and was pretty delicious.

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Pork Chop with Country Gravy (RM23)

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Pulled Pork Burger (RM12)

Last but not least, I ordered a plate of ‘Dog Food‘ to be shared. It was a glorious plate of fries, drenched with gravy and cheese, baked in oven. Just look at the amount of cheese and gravy on top! It was really cheesy and delicious. I wish I had ordered this earlier because by the time they arrived, I was already full from my meal. Still, it was such a delight to eat these with friends.

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Dog Food (RM9)

Now, after pictures of food, it’s time for some pictures of the gang! Look, Ethan is picking his nose here AGAIN. :P

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Merryn, William and Ethan

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Witch and Saucer

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Adrian and witch

Couldn’t stop laughing at Foong’s shirt, which said “I’m with Stupid” with a finger pointing to his left. So lucky that I didn’t sit beside him! :P

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Foong’s T-shirt

Guess who was the ‘stupid’ one? Served Quachee right for he was the latest to arrive! Almost 2 hours late ok! So he had to be the one sitting next to Foong. :P

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Quachee acting ‘stupid’ :P

Look, both Foong and Quachee were pointing at each other to be the ‘stupid’ one. :P

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Who’s stupid?

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Grey, Erika and Eric

Then it was time for Secret Santa exchange! First off to get the present was Adrian. We’re supposed to guess our Secret Santa but it seemed that his Santa was leaving quite a prominent ‘hint’! Look at the small Panda symbol there! Now there’s no need to guess who his Santa was. :P

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Adrian’s gift from his Secret Santa

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A set of cards and Doraemon robot!

As for Foong himself, he got a his head finally! Ever wonder why he always didn’t appear in our pictures? Because of his missing head! Now with his Panda head back into possession, he can now take pictures with us all the time. Thanks to his Secret Santa Eric. :)

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Foong and his Christmas gift

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Grey’s present

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A Bali Spa CD from Erika

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Saucer’s gift

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A whole bag of NIPS!

Carol was part of our Christmas exchange but since she couldn’t be there, Eric accepted her gift on her behalf, while describing it to her on the phone. :)

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Eric with Carol’s present

In return, Carol’s gift is for Erika! It was a nice feather hair band, which I forgot to snap a picture of. :(

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Erika’s gift

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Eric’s gift was from Quachee – a book!

As for me, my Secret Santa was Adrian! The kind magician gave ma  Starbucks tumbler! Now I can get RM2 off whenever I order from Starbucks! Yay! :)

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witch and her Starbucks Tumbler

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Ethan’s gift from Grey

As for my secret recipient, he’s no other than Quachee!

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Quachee and his gift

And I got him a cheeky T-shirt! He didn’t want anything that’s not practical so I got him a shirt, something that he can wear everyday. But with a twist of course! :P

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The T-shirt for Quachee

But he looked good in it! Don’t you think so? :P

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Secret Santa and the Secret Recipient

Before we left, a group picture of all of us! Would have been perfect if Carol was here.

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Merry Christmas from all of us!

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Funny picture for the album!

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Betty’s Midwest Kitchen

What are your plans for Christmas?

Betty’s Midwest Kitchen
A-G-40, Jalan PJU 1/43,
Aman Suria Damansara,
47410 Petaling Jaya,
Malaysia.
Tel no.: +603-7880 0196
Opening hours: Tue – Sun (11.30am – 3pm, 5.30pm – 10pm) Closed on Monday
GPS Coordinates: N3 07.314, E101 35.703
Website: http://midwestkitchen.com.my

Al-Amar Express Opens its Doors

It’s no secret that I love Lebanese food. I fell in love with it during my first visit early this year and I even went back there again to celebrate my birthday later. So when I heard that Al-Amar Express is opening its doors at the prime location of Jalan Bukit Bintang, Saucer and I immediately went to pay them a visit, on the second day of operations itself! Located just outside Fahrenheit88, the huge signboard in red is hard to miss, and will definitely be a prominent landmark in the future.

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The grand Al-Amar Express signboard in red

Initially, I had thought of Al-Amar Express to be a booth by the roadside, selling takeaway items just like those Kebab stalls in the shopping malls. The term ‘express’ led me to believe that, but boy, was I wrong! Even though it’s termed ‘Express’, it’s nothing short of a full-fledged restaurant! It occupies quite a huge space, with 3 different dining areas – an outdoor area with couches for drinks/shisha, an indoor air-conditioned area and another outdoor dining area. It was really impressive! The whole building was made of glass walls, giving it a very classy and elegant outlook. We dined outdoors the whole night while watching cars driving by the busy Jalan Bukit Bintang. :)

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Al-Amar Express interior

Of course, being an Express restaurant, the items sold here are quite different from the restaurant in Pavilion. Most of the items sold here are bread or pastry-based, something that can be prepared in a jiffy, suitable for the hectic lifestyle of working people in the heart of KL.

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The menu

While waiting for the others to arrive, I ordered a bottle of cold Almaza beer for myself. I drank that during my first visit and I didn’t mind drinking that again. Even though I’m not a beer person, this was light, smooth and very refreshing! And it’s cheaper than Heineken. :P

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Almaza beer (RM20)

As usual, appetizers in Al-Amar started with some bread and Hommos. The bread is complimentary, but the Hommos is not. :) The bread served here is slightly different from the one at Pavilion, in the sense that it wasn’t baked into fluffiness before serving. I guess it’s understandable, as baking them would take time hence reducing the speed of their express servings.

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Complimentary bread

Combining the bread with Hommos (mashed chickpeas mixed with sesame seed paste and a dash of lemon juice, topped with olive oil) is always a sure-win thing. I love the thick but smooth paste of the mashed chickpeas, not unlike mashed potatoes, but with a fragrant, savoury and creamy texture. I could really eat just bread and hommos for a meal!

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Hommos (RM12)

The rest of the items that we tried were mostly new, starting with Tawouk Salad, which was  chicken tawouk with baby spinach, rocket, tomato and walnuts with aioli dressing. I don’t know how they did it but the chicken was aromatic with a tender and moist interior. The slightly charred skin gave it not only an aesthetic appeal, but a nice bite! I could definitely see myself eating this for lunch, a healthy one that is.

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Tawouk Salad (RM20)

If you can’t live without carb, perhaps the Chicken Baguette would be a better choice. I wonder where they sourced the baguettes for they were really good! Toasted on the surface with a crispy skin but soft and warm interior. Not to mention it’s quite sizable too! It had some roasted chicken, garlic sauce and pickles within. Some really sour pickles, I might add! I have to say I don’t really fancy sour stuff, so I would ask them to omit the pickles on my next visit. ;)

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Chicken baguette (RM16)

When the next dish came, we were surprised as we didn’t know there were Lebanese pizzas! The Zaatar & Cheese Manakeesh was a thin crusted pastry of Lebanese cheese topped with thyme and sesame seeds. It was not overly cheesy and the thin crust really did the trick for me.

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Zaatar & Cheese Manakeesh (RM12)

In fact, the Spinach Fatayer had a stronger cheese smell compared to the above, in addition to baby spinach, onions and a zest of lemon. I found it a tad too rich but cheese lovers might love this.

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Spinach Fatayer (RM12)

My favourite pizza would be Kafta with Cheese Manakeesh, delicious grilled lamb mix topped with tomato slices, cheese and mayo. The lamb slices were generous! They were nicely grilled, with a strong aroma that was sure to tease anyone’s taste buds! And the best part was? It’s portion is good enough for sharing! Where can you get a lamb pizza for 2 at only RM16 in the heart of KL right?

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Kafta with Cheese Manakeesh (RM16)

As mentioned earlier, most of the items served at the Express outlet are pastry or bread-based. So we had the Sandwich, the Pizza and now we had Wraps! The Falafel Sandwich was  a wrap with fried beans and chick pea paste, turnip, pickles, parsley, lettuce and sesame paste. I’ve always liked Falafel for its crispy skin and its filling mixed with spices. It was moreish and went well with the wrap. Again, no pickles for me next time. :P

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Falafel (RM12)

Another wrap was the Kafta Halabi, seasoned minced lamb wrapped with hommos, parsley, onions and pickles. I think Al-Amar really knows how to make its lamb delicious and tender! Add that with hommos, what’s not to like? Eat them just out of the oven for that crispy bite on the wrap. I even packed this back for breakfast the next morning. Yummy!

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Kafta Halabi (RM15)

The next dish was something quite special. Dubbed as Eggcellence, it’s actually a clay pot of baked eggs! 3 eggs, to be exact! And they’re baked to a runny finish on the hot pot, to be eaten with the warm Lebanese bread. I guess we took too much time in taking pictures and eating other dishes that when we ate these eggs, they were more solid than runny. *LOL* So next time, remember to eat this once it’s served for the best effect!

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Baked Sunny Side Up (RM15)

One more dish before desserts! A Half-Roasted Chicken served with fries and Lebanese bread. I was incredibly full at this point of time and did not have a bite of this. It did look golden brown and had a nice aroma to it.

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Half-roasted Chicken (RM22)

Finally, it was time for desserts! We had a few types, starting with the Creme Caramel. I have to say, this was huge! Definitely meant for sharing, especially after having a hearty meal. The texture of this was firm and bouncy but smooth. It was rather sweet, but that’s what desserts are supposed to be, no?

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Creme Caramel (RM12)

The Homemade Ice-cream was delicious and smooth, but I’d prefer for it to not melt that fast.

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Homemade Ice-cream (RM6/scoop)

Last but not least, a huge piece of Cheese Cake, which turned out to be my favourite that night. It was not overly rich, very smooth and the addition of the slightly sourish berry sauce made it all the more appealing in taste! Absolutely loved this!

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Cheese Cake (RM15)

Of course, dinner wouldn’t be complete without company from amazing friends! That’s the reason why I love dining with a group of friends, we could order more, try more and laugh more! :)

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witch and the gorgeous Farena

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Esther darling and witch <3

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witch and Joseph

So when you’re around Jalan Bukit Bintang, hungry and wondering what to eat, do look out for the unmistakable red sign board and drop by for a visit that wouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket! ;)

Al-Amar Express
Fahrenheit88
Lot G44, Ground Floor,
179, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia.
Tel no: +603-2141 3814
Opening hours: 8am to 3am Daily (24 hours on weekends starting in 2011)
Email: info@al-amar.com
Website: http://www.al-amar.com/
Join their Facebook Page here!

Year End Poolside Party with a View

It’s that time of the year again where everyone’s mood is jolly, relaxed and festive! Year end not only indicates Christmas and New Year for some, it also means holidays and partayyy! I attended one myself at the recent Year End Party by Sirens Media at the prestigious KL Hilton! The party was held at the recently refurbished poolside restaurant called The Boardwalk, located at Level 8 of KL Hilton. It was my first time there and I must say I was really impressed with the place!

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Part of the lounge at Boardwalk

Boardwalk was recently renovated and had extended its area, making it appear more spacious and comfortable. There was even an enclosed glass room with air-conditioner just next to the poolside! Talk about comfort with style. I loved the concept of having classy dinner tables by the poolside, just perfect for a cozy dinner with close family and friends.

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View of the city from Boardwalk

The whole area is surrounded by a glass balcony, enabling patrons to have the full city view even when they’re kicking back with a drink or two. Not to forget the in-house DJ playing music all night long, this is definitely the place to chill out!

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Kick back and relax with a view

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Comfortable couches next to the balcony

The place could get a bit windy at night so it was really cool sitting out there, literally. :) Of course, if you’re up to something more fun, you could go with a bikini or swimming trunk and jump in for a swim at the pool! Just look at how gorgeous the pool is!

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Swimming pool at KL Hilton

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Pool at KL Hilton

Soon, our dinner started and we were all seated at the table inside the glass room.

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Elegant table within the glass room

We were served an array of finger food with lots of choices!

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Tom Yam Gung (Chicken and Coconut soup)

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Lobster Summer Roll and Crabmeat, Fennel and Apple Salad in Rock Glass

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Smoked Salmon Pizzette

The mains:

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Mini Trattoria Burger

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Lamb with Carrot Puree, Mushroom Ravioli and Jus

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Shrimp and Soft Polenta, Poached Quail Egg and Beef Bacon

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Grilled Flat Iron Steak, Vanilla Parsnip Puree and Asparagus

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Thai Fried Chicken Wing on Glass Noodles, Hot and Sour sauce with Salted Mango

Last but not least, the desserts!

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Chocolate Fudge Mint Cream

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Lemon Banana Caramel Meringue Pie

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Orange Jivara Espuma topped with Macadamia Vanilla Crumble

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Mixed Berries Creme Brulee with Almond Croustillant

It was a fun night out, to be able to see new people and experience the new place. I’m happy to say that the party has just begun and there is more to come before the end of the year! :)

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KL Hilton

Hilton Kuala Lumpur Hotel
3 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia
Tel: 60-3-2264-2264
Fax: 60-3-2264-2266
Website: www.hilton.com.my

Christmas Cheers with the Boys from Agathians Shelter Home

Even though we always look forward to Christmas as a season of joy and merriment, there are always some people at some corner of the world who are not as lucky as we are. One such group of people are the boys from Agathians Shelter Home in PJ. This is a welfare home that cares for not only orphans, but also for abandoned, neglected or abused children. Therefore, when I found out that Prince Hotel KL is hosting a Christmas Brunch for these boys, I immediately agreed to tag along.

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witch at Prince Hotel

The Christmas brunch started at 12pm, but before I show you those cute boys, let me show you the glorious spread of food that they had!

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Mixed vegetables

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Grilled chicken

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Steamed fish

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Lamb

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Seafood lasagna

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The boys’ favourite – Noodles!

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Satay

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Spring rolls

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Mini hot dogs

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Baked fish

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Fried chicken

The spread of desserts was also massive!

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Gingerbread house :)

But my favourite dessert of all was this warm chocolate cake with ice-cream! It was gorgeous! The chocolate cake was kept warm with a steamer, while the ice-cream was fresh from the box. Combining the two of them together was the bomb!

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Warm chocolate cake and vanilla ice-cream

I had a great time walking around and taking candid pictures of these kids while they were eating. They were really cute and friendly! Some of them saw me and offered to shake my hand! So polite! :) And they had such wonderful smiles, they melted my heart. <3

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Busy kids eating

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Nom nom nom

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Hello!

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<3

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Hehe.. the case of wearing a hat larger than your head :P

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The Clown!

The Prince Residents’ Ladies and former residents of the Prince Serviced Apartment led by Mrs Pilar Palma-Pezar also kindly prepared X’mas gifts to each child from the home. They started preparation about a month earlier to ensure that each child received a special and personalized X’mas gift. So sweet and thoughtful of them!

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X’mas gifts for the kids

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Merry Christmas from Tim :)

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Smile!

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Another happy recipient

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Love this kid!

Prince Hotel also presented a cheque as donation to the Agathians Shelter, led by Mr Bala. I have to say that I was really impressed with Mr Bala, who single-handedly controlled a group of 30 over kids! Definitely not an easy task when everyone was excited and loud. :)

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Cheque from Prince Hotel to Agathians Shelter Home

After that, the kids had fun decorating gingerbread man, led by the Head Chef DJ of Prince Hotel. This is him demonstrating how to decorate a gingerbread man. :)

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Chef DJ demonstrating

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Tadaa!

And the kids followed suit. Fast learners, I tell you!

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So serious!

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Look at the happy crowd!

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witch with the kids

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Say cheese!

Last but not least, a happy group picture of the kids with the staff of Prince Hotel. Bravo to the hotel for organizing such a meaningful community event. :)

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Group Picture

The Christmas Day Brunch featured above is available on Christmas Day from 12pm to 4pm, at RM108++ per person. It includes 1 complimentary glass of house wine or soft drink. If you’d like to offer your help to these less fortunate kids, do head on over to their website here.

Prince Hotel and Residence Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Conlay,
50450 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia.
Tel: +603-2170 8888
Website: www.princehotelkl.com

Best Fish Head Noodles, I Finally Found You!

Lunch time is always something that I look forward to, especially with my gang of adventurous colleagues. Every few days, we venture to somewhere new and exciting! This time, a colleague suggested a restaurant hidden in the unassuming shop lots in Kuchai Lama, supposedly selling amazing fish head noodles. “Unassuming”, I would say, because the restaurant is the only one serving food in the row of shops mostly servicing cars. Also, the surroundings are generally abandoned or old flats. But when you see the rows and rows of cars parking or even double parking around the area, you’d start wondering what are all these Mercedes, BMWs and Camrys doing here? And then you spot Goon Wah, a rather old restaurant with a faded signboard that is filled to the brim with people!

NOTE: Pictures taken with iPhone 3GS

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Winter Melon Longan Dessert

We started by ordering their famous dishes. If you’re in doubt, just look at the pictures on the wall and start pointing. It’s hard to be wrong. :) I ordered their dessert of the day for my drink, Winter Melon Longan. It was packed with ingredients, especially longan, which is my favourite! Definitely refreshing to the body on a hot afternoon.

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Winter Melon Longan picture taken with Instagram :)

My colleague raved about the XO Fish Head Noodles here so we simply had to order a pot! It arrived in a claypot, steaming hot with a frothy top! I liked the look of it already! :) It was served with thick vermicelli, with a smooth and slightly chewy texture, which was a delight to slurp!

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Claypot XO fish head noodles

The amount of fish meat given was so generous, this pot was definitely meant to be shared. I was expecting to get only fish head with lots of bones but to my surprise, there were plenty of fresh meaty parts in it. The fish was flaky and firm, with a slightly crisp edge due to deep frying before that. The star of the day though, was the soup! Not overly thick or creamy, it had just the right balance of flavours – sour, salty, gingery, sweet and a little tangy from the tomatoes and lime. Love love LOVE it to bits! Needless to say, the pot was polished right to the very last drop! :)

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Generous amount of fish meat in the clay pot

Our next order was also one of the signature, Claypot Lou Shu Fun, or they called it as Claypot Short Noodles with Pork. The presentation of the dish was already a sight to behold, with blaring hot fire underneath the charcoal black pot. It doesn’t get anymore authentic than this! Served with lots of minced pork, scallions, chilli and shallots on top, the waitress asked us to stir it well upon serving. And so, stir it we did!

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Claypot Lou Shu Fun

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Stirring it good and well

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Blaring hot fire at the bottom

While stirring, one can’t help but drool with the pleasant aroma emitting from the clay pot. I was that close to dripping my saliva onto the pot! *LOL* But the wait was worth it! The noodles ended up to be a nice concoction of all the ingredients, each piece of noodle well coated and bursting with flavour. Oh, be careful while eating this or you might end up burning your tongue. I loved the combination of savoury and spicy taste that the noodles had. Very appetizing and delicious!

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Well-mixed claypot lou shu fun

From what the other tables order, we couldn’t help but notice this plate of Special Sauce Chicken Wings, which I later found out to be cooked with Stout! Each piece of wing was not overly oily, and the meat was so tender it fell off the bones! Although they claimed to have stout in the sauce, I could barely taste it. It was more like a sweet and sour sauce, with a thicker texture like that of the honey. Still, I had no complaints on the wings.

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Chicken Wings

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Another shot by Instagram – which one do you prefer?

And to satisfy the carb cravings of the guys, we had the Fried Rice and Fried Glass Noodles. Perhaps all the dishes were really tasty, that when I took a bite of the fried rice, I thought it was a little on the bland side? Or, it could also have to do with the fact that we asked them not to use pork in the fried rice since one of us didn’t eat pork. Either way, I thought the fried rice was pretty average.

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Fried rice

The Fried Glass Noodles though, was another of my favourite! Gosh, I’ve never had so many favourites in one shop! :P The noodles were light and not oily, but really tasty! I know how hard it is to fry a plate of glass noodles, they always tend to clump or end up being too crumbly. But look at what a splendid job they did! If I had it my way, I would have eaten this all by myself. Oh, but that would apply to the Fish Head Noodles and the Claypot Lou Shu Fun as well. Ah, if only I had a bigger stomach.

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Fried Glass Noodles

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Short working hours!

With such amazing food, it was no wonder the surroundings of the shop were filled with cars! And the interior of it filled with people. Even before we finished our food, there were other people standing by waiting for tables. Business was really brisk! Guess what? Their working hours are even shorter than mine! Only opened from 9.30am to 3.30pm and off on Saturday and Sunday! My goodness! Just shows how good their business is to thrive with such short working hours, right?

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Full house restaurant

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Goon Wah Restaurant

I really enjoyed my lunch here, but my only gripe is that they should open for dinner as well! Ah, that pot of steaming hot fish head noodles and the claypot lou shu fun, wouldn’t that be a delight to eat during cold nights? Oh well. By the way, the above dishes were for 4 persons, and bill came up to only RM13/person!

map

Goon Wah Restaurant
G13, Jalan 3/115C, Block KP2,
Taman Kuchai Jaya,
Off Jalan Kuchai Lama,
58200 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-79820048/79840722
Fax: 03-79820163
Business Hours: 9.30am – 3.30pm, Off on Sat and Sun