Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Jitches Adventure in Malacca: Hotel Courtyard @ Heeren and Asam Laksa at Jonker 88

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Hello! This week has been extremely busy at work, as I'm covering a colleague who's off to serve the nation. Well, at least I survived the week! In an attempt to reward myself, I think I should ask Leecher to cook my fave Korean soup for dinner tonight, lol! Before I head off to for another ep of drama, I figured that I should continue on the jitches' adventure in Malacca, so I can strike another item off my to-do list :)
After the massage, we continued on our journey and arrived at the hotel. Fling got us a lovely room at hotel courtyard @ heeren. We dropped Fling at the front before following the staff to the back of the hotel to park the car. Complimentary parking is available for guests. Since we 走后门, this was the first view that greeted us.
We lugged all our barangs, which was pretty amazing at how much girls need to pack for a weekend trip, to the lobby where Fling was waiting for us. She had already done the check-in & was finished her welcome drink, lol! 
A glass of refreshing fruit punch to quench the thirst. Malacca was really extremely hot and humid, so this served as an awesome drink.
The friendly staff who made our stay enjoyable :)
We headed upstairs to check out our bedroom first.  
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Tadah! Our lovely room for the night, 2 X queen sized bed to accommodate the 4 of us. Each room design combines the Peranakan style with modern elements. The room was cleaned and fully furnished with the basic necessities. I really adored the peranakan-style floor tiles that we couldn't resist a pic with our weathered pumps/slippers.
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We lazed around in bed - which was so comfortable that I almost fell asleep - with the air-con at full blast as it was really hot outside. When our stomachs started to protest, we had to pull ourselves out from the comfort zone and headed out in search for food. 
Conveniently located in the heart of Malacca, this boutique hotel was transformed from a shop-house where Chinese & Peranakan merchants built their homes. I fell in love with this place at first sight - not only because of its superb location, but also due to the juxtaposition of old and modern elements in this little place. I will be returning for a 2nd visit as I refused to stay anywhere in Malacca apart from here, haha! 
A pic before heading out to hunt for food ;)
Finally, a view from the front door. I didn't know that Qian took this until she uploaded it to the whatsapp chat. She said this is very VictoriaBeckham-ish, lol! If only I'm as successful as her!
Courtyard @ Heeren
91 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock,
75200, Melaka, Malaysia
Tel: +606 281 0088
The #1 thing to do is to head for a bowl of Asam Laksa at Jonker 88. This place needs no further introduction to those who frequent Malacca. The place is bustling with people from the time their doors open in the morning till closing.
Check out the prying eyes looking for a vacant seat/table. Haha, this reminded me of the "waiting" queue for table during lunch hours for CDB. It was all about strategy and instinct, and to a little extent, luck. Both the ordering and waiting queue were pretty long, so we headed off in 2 groups to get the mission done.
The order counter used to be in front of the shop, but they have since moved it inside. While most customers will order the combi: asam laksa with a bowl of chendol, we chose to order just asam laksa instead.
Tadah! The prized bowl of asam laksa that we all craved :) It used to be overspilling with ingredients. Now portion seemed to have reduced quite a bit. Well, times are bad and it seemed to show subtly everywhere. 
Jonker 88 ( 大寶小食)
88 Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker Street)
75200, Malacca, Malaysia 
 Read our Malacca adventures here:

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Jitches: Journey to Malacca

On a random day via our whatsapp chat, the Sisters decided that we should embark on our first solo trip. After a quick look through on our availability, we decided on the date & destination. So, this was the starting point of our road trip to Malacca. Fling managed to got us a lovely room at a boutique hotel within a short notice. As I'm typing this entry, I just got "activated" for another Malacca trip with the in-laws later this year ;) 
We debated on the various mode of transport - taking coach/self-drive a rented car etc. Thankfully for us, a kind friend of Fling offered to loan us his car over the weekend for our road trip! 爱死你了;) Thus, Miao & Fling collected the car on the day of departure while Qian & I headed towards Woodlands station for pick up. Clearing the customs was relatively fast - we expected jam of 2h but managed to clear it within 1h. A great start to our trip! We then headed to Fling's place to pick up her barang-barang. 
Goofing around while waiting for Fling to get ready. We bought identical aviators, but mine didn't survive the Korea trip so I had to make do with another one. A short 15 min wait spanned to over 1h at the lobby. We tried means and ways to contact her as we couldn't access her floor without an access card. Just when we decided to shout out her name, Fling appeared and turned out that she had a minor crisis with her contact lens, lol! 
Fling took over as the driver and drove us all to Malacca. Before that, we need to top up on fuel for our tummies, as well as the car. We stocked up on snacks and drinks at the petrol kiosk for our journey to Malacca. We even assigned roles for this trip, lol! Qian will be the auditor for taking charge of expenses used on the car. Fling & Miao are the appointed drivers while I'm in charge of our kitty fund + taking pictures. Once the car had its fill, we made a pit stop at Ah Hong Kopitiam for breakfast.
We were all famished and immediately placed our orders! Check out our "hunger" faces, lol :)
I ordered a set which came with mee siam, with otah and chicken wings + drink at RM11.90. The mee siam was quite dry and plain that I had to mix in lots of chilli to get the kick. Nevertheless, I love the crispy chicken wings. We spent around RM46 for breakfast, which worked out to SGD$4.50 per pax.
Ah Hong Kopitiam
60, Jalan Sutera Tanjung 8/4
Taman Sutera Utama 81300
Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Tel: +60 12 771 9600
After our breakfast, we were ready to hit the roads. The back-seat passengers (Qian & I) started distributing drinks and snacks to the drivers group. We gossiped for a long while before the sleeping bug took charge. Qian & I concussed at the back while the drivers brought us safely to Malacca. Good job girls, love you *muacks*
We arrived at Topic Healthcare Centre for our massage. Qian & Miao headed for full body massage while Fling & I opted for foot massage. I always find massages are relatively expensive in Singapore, thus I'll head for a massage whenever I'm in BKK/Bali/JB. I love Balinese massages the most ;) The foot massage package that I had was around RM$50 (if I recall correctly). Fling & I chatted for the whole duration that time just flew by us without us knowing it.
Topic Healthcare Centre
177 & 177A, Jalan Merdeka
Taman Melaka Raya, 75000
Melaka, Malaysia
Tel: +60 6281 6957

Monday, May 11, 2015

Leecher's Birthday 2015: NOX, Dine in the Dark

Since we had japanese omakase dinner for Leecher's pre-birthday celebration, I decided that we should try something different for his actual birthday. Thus, we headed to Nox, Dine in the Dark for Leecher's actual birthday celebration. As the name suggested, patrons basically dine in the dark relying on the other senses - taste, touch, smell and touch - on the culinary journey. 
Upon arriving, we were ushered to a table in the main hall. I ordered a Rubus Pink cocktail, which was an exquisite combination of raspberry, vanilla and the aroms of rosemary. Leecher went for wine-pairing menu instead, where he get to enjoy 3 selected wines to match every course of his dinner. We opted for the drinks to be served upstairs during dinner.
 That was the only amuse bouche that you can see before adjourning to the dining hall. Before heading upstairs, there are a couple of items to take note:
  1. All personal belongings are to be kept inside the locker. 
  2. (if you like) Pay a visit to the toilet first. 
  3. It is totally pitch dark in the dining room, apart from a tiny red source that comes from the security camera.
  4. Always follow the instructions of the server.
  5. Call for the server if help is required. 
In short, stay put at the table and don't move around unless necessary. When we were ready, our server appeared at the door leading up a flight of stairs. He is visually impaired but he acted as our eyes in total darkness. I put my hands on his shoulders, with Leecher behind me, as he guided us up the stairs and into total darkness. He moved about swiftly and I had a hard time catching up. He led us to our table and guided us to the chairs. It was pitch dark, akin to 伸手不见五指. Our server gave a short introduction on what was on the table - fork/spoon on the left and right, plate in the middle etc. When the dishes were served, we had to eat in a clock-wise direction starting from 6'0 clock. Initially, I had my eyes opened but decided that I should probably close it since I can't see a thing anyway.

We had a mystery 3 course meal which came with 4 small tapas sized dishes for each course. It felt like going through a blind test. We had to guess what we were eating for all the 12 dishes presented. I told Leecher jokingly that the chef don't have to worry about plating; just cook, put into plates and served. I basically scrapped my food off the plates, as I wasn't sure if I'm missing out any food that could be "hidden" at a corner, lol! 

After the meal, the server will led you back to the main hall where you will regain your sight. My eyes took a while to adjust after being in total darkness for some time. Then, a questionnaire will be given where you have to write down what you think you had earlier before they reveal the pictures of the dishes on the tablet.
Birthday cake for the birthday boy. This tiny cake costs me $20 as I couldn't bring my own cake into the restaurant.
Rather grainy pictures as the camera doesn't work well in dark environment. Nevertheless, happy birthday my love. Another year older, so make sure you are one year wiser!
Thanks for the wonderful experience, Nox! 
Nox, Dine in the Dark
269 Beach Road
Singapore 199546
Tel: +65 6298 0708

Friday, May 1, 2015

Leecher's Birthday 2015: Koji Sushi Bar 米花

The initial plan to revamp the wardrobe halted when my taobao loots didn't arrive in time. That pretty much freed up the time allocated to this project. Thus, before I get started on another K-drama, which will probably be our focus for the next couple of weekends, I decided to channel the time to blog #solittletimesomuchtodo
Leecher kicked off his first wave of birthday celebration at 米花 Koji Sushi Bar. Located at China Sq Central, Koji Sushi Bar is helmed by Chef Benny Cheong who works at Shunjuu Izakaya (another Japanese eatery along Robertson Quay). This was our virgin visit to this place, even though we worked around the area. 
 The menu placed outside the restaurant. Their best selling item is the donburi rice bowls (starting from $17), where they added crispy tempura bits into the rice for that extra punch. Besides rice bowls, they also offer sushi set (of 5 pieces), ala carte items and omakase dinner  where advance reservation is required. 
Dressed in blue even though it wasn't Monday :) That morning, I stood in front of the wardrobe thinking of what to wear. Then, I decided to grab for something from the back of the wardrobe and this dress appeared in my hand. Guess that it must be fate, since it was a match with the bag that I was carrying.
 A penny for your thoughts, my dear?
Birthday boy also wants a pic in front of the shop, heh! #copycat
Indoor & outdoor seating are available. We were ushered indoors to our seats as we came for omakase dinner. Our first omakase experience was at Teppei, which won my heart & soul. I was looking forward to be wowed again by the chef's creations, just like how it was at Teppei.
 Japanese ornaments decorating the place.
Ready to kick off the evening?
 Before that, drinks first! We get to pick our own sake cup. Birthday boy Leecher got to pick first and he picked the cup that I was aiming for :( So, I settled for the white cup instead. 
Round 1 of sake for the birthday boy! Kanpai かんぱい
I'm not a fan of sake, so I let Leecher have my share after 2 rounds of  かんぱい. This sake was quite smooth, with a tinge of sweetness and easy to drink.
My alternative drink - Calpis shochu. Leecher initially confused it with korean Soju 소주, ha! Well, I think he is not entirely wrong as shochu and soju are made from barley and sweet potatoes. Shochu originated from southern Japan and it is consumed on ice, with hot water or mixed with fruit juices or tea. Soju, on the other hand, comes from Korea and is usually consumed neat. Though shochu has an alcohol percentage of 25%, I couldn't taste any in my drink as it was very much watered down by calpis.
Couple (dinner) date on a Friday.
As the sake warmed our stomach, we were ready to begin our omakase dinner. First dish: tofu with century egg and roe. A weird combination? No, I was amazed at how everything tasted fantastic! It was a great start for dinner :) 
  A platter of 3 different dishes appeared. Thumbs up for presentation, don't you feel that spring is here? Yes, the flower was edible (we asked the chef!). Truffle with sea urchin, seaweed, topshell with seasoned garlic.
Building pyramid with plates, interesting. These plates of salads were stacked right in front of me, so I couldn't resist a shot .... or more ;) It acted as a shield between me and the chefs, depriving me of a chance to catch the chefs in action. This was a pity as I wanted to learn a few tricks from the masters. 
A colourful plate of salad with light dressing to whet the appetite. Nothing spectacular to shout about. P2279327
 Sashimi consisted of kampachi belly, toro, salmon, swordfish, seabream and sweet shrimp. So fresh and tender, yums. 
Yellow tail cheek served with a slice of lemon, topped with japanese escargot. The fish was very tender and juicy, but rem to look out for bones. The piece that I had came with some small bones, which meant I had to be really careful with it.
Sea urchin, but I don't recall any dishes that came with it.
Halfway through dinner, I spotted the prized bottle - crispy tempura bits. The chefs were busy preparing for donburi for takeways, ranging from their popular sashimi rice bowls to pork cheek rice bowls. In fact, I went back 2 weeks later to dabao their rice bowls for dinner & I really loved the tempura bits. It added the extra crunchiness in the rice, which can get pretty addictive.
Wagyu beef sukiyaki! We each had our individual pots with 7 slices of wagyu beef.
 The agony of waiting, lol! So we spent our time beating the eggs as we waited for it to be ready.
 As I opened the lid, I noticed a tiny insect crawling on the bed of vegetables. I signaled for the waitress to come over and pointed it out to her. A new pot came immediately, but to my disappointment, it came only with 3 slices of beef. From 7 to 3, hmm .... it doesn't add up, right? The above pic was taken from Leecher's pot, which had 7 slices of beef.
After waiting for an eternity, we were ready to tuck in! The soup was tasty, but there wasn't much ingredients for me to eat, since it was mostly filled with vegetables. 
We got 2 sushi - scallop and fatty tuna (if I rem correctly). We also get to brush the soy sauce onto the sushi ourselves. Well, I almost choke on the wasabi that was hidden beneath the slices. Dessert came in the form of pudding with okinawa kuromitsu, topped with strawberries at the side. Given my level of (high) tolerance towards sweet stuff, this pudding was way too sweet for my liking. #disappointment
Thanks Kaiwei for the birthday treat ;)
The aftermath of 2 very full people, who can't walk 10 steps without taking a break, hee! As for my verdict - endure the long reservation wait and head for Teppei for a satisfying omakase meal. Alternatively, Koji's donburi is your best bet.   
Koji Sushi Bar
3 Pickering Street, China Sq Central
#01-42 Singapore 048660
Tel: +65 6225 6125
Opening Hours: 11.30am till 3pm, 5pm till 10pm (Mon-Sat)
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