Sunday, December 3, 2017

Review: Cha Cha Moon ★

Kuchingites have been clamouring over themselves for a spot at the new restaurant in Roxy hotel and I'm here to tell you if it's worth the hype.

It is a kind of fusion restaurant, with a quirky menu served on unusual crockeries (literally had spaghetti served in half a vase in an attempt to be unique with no rhyme or reason). Being up on the 7th floor, it gives us a new perspective to view the city from. It is a perfect venue for an intimate dinner or a party.

However, I'm sure you've noticed the one star rating I gave this promising new establishment. It is simply because the service was incredibly off putting. The waitstaff needs to undergo strenuous retraining or be replaced. 

Case number one: We double confirmed our booking to include a baby chair but upon arrival, there wasn't one at the table. No big deal. We'll just inform them we need one. Unfortunately, some guy came to explain the situation to us - without an introduction to tell us who he is, no smiles or apologies - telling us that the one they had reserved for us was "taken by another customer" and "we only have four baby chairs" and "there is nothing we can do". I told him off by saying we double confirmed the booking and dismissed him with some sarcasm. I'm not proud of the way I handled it but the baby chair wasn't for me and I get very protective over the people I care about. If you need someone to step up for you, I'll be front and centre and ten times as pissed.

Case number two: Our grilled ribeye showed up less than rare. I'll let the photo speak for itself below but you know, I don't expect some obscure restaurant to show up with Masterchef skills but at least don't take the returned steak back to the kitchen, slice it open and try to convince us that, "the middle is cooked". No. You do not handle a customer's food in that manner. Furthermore, the waitress who took our order never even asked us how we would like the steak.

Having a successful restaurant relies heavily on two things: food is king but service matters. If your food is magnificent, your service can be shit because there'll still be people who will put up with your attitude for an awesome meal. If your food is sub par and your service is great, you might get a few returning customers because hey your food ain't half bad, and the warmth is a plus! However, if your food is shit and you have the best service in the world, sorry my friend but nobody can save you.

In this instance though, the food ranged from awful to not bad, but the service was so horrendous I wouldn't even recommend the place to someone I disliked. Bye, bye then. You've lost not only a customer, but the patronage of my friends and our families. What I kinda feel bad about is that my father is a friend to the founder but he has a background in food and beverage, so...

Now that I've gotten my gripes with the place out of the way, on to the food! Shall we?

After more than an hour of waiting, we got our first pasta: Mushroom Aglio Olio @ RM23
It was surprisingly tasty but I thought aglio olio is supposed to be served warm, if not hot? Because this tasted as though it's been sitting out for an hour!

The next dish was: Cured Salmon & Poached Egg Pasta @ RM35
This was hot and yummy! But... It kinda tasted similar to the dish before, except this has runny egg yolk all over it.

The Teriyaki Chicken came at @ RM28, served with a side of bland quinoa.
What is it with pretentious fine dining establishments and their tendency to undercook their chicken? It tasted alright, but quite frankly I'd rather go to Chef At Home for some chicken chop instead.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Red Chilli Crab Pasta @ RM34
Finally a pasta that doesn't taste pretty much the same. It's an interesting flavour, but if you're not keen on new tastes, you should definitely steer clear.

The next pasta to follow through was the Sichuan Spicy Chicken Pasta @ RM26
We were pretty sick of the same tasting pasta by this point, and the sichuan pasta was no different from the mushroom aglio or the one served with the cured salmon. To top it off, the chicken tasted of Maggi sauce and was hard as a rock.

The last two that arrived were disasters: Grilled Ribeye @ RM70 and Margherita Pizza @ RM31
The margherita pizza was... A fail. The base was so soft there is no chance of you picking it up and eating like an actual slice of pizza... It was more like a thin sheet of lagsana skin smothered in cheese and served on a block of wood.

The ribeye was even worse, as mentioned above. And! It was served with a dollop of ICE CREAM. We made them take it back for being pretty much raw and it's a relief they had the foresight to cancel it from the bill.

Guys, a little humility would work wonders for your poor food or inexperienced waitstaff... In light of the rudeness, I have no choice but to chalk it up as careless management.

Now, they say pictures speak a thousand words, but what about a video?

We ended the night on a good note though, drinks at Barber coupled with Junk's delicious cheese pizza.

Friday, December 1, 2017

10 unique and scenic stays in Kuching!

We have a wonderful city, bordered by rainforests and beaches. If it weren't so tropical and hot, it'd be paradise. But sometimes we want a reprieve from the mundane; even a breathtaking view will turn boring if you look at it everyday. 

So, for a change of scenery, check out these top 10 luxurious stays not too far from home...

You'll be surprised to find a mini-Santorini in Santubong called COVE55
Pristine, serene and classy. It is a place with minimalist but bold decor that will impress even the pickiest. 

When I was there back in 2015, we got a personal tour from the hotelier and it looked like the dreamiest place to have a wedding in this sleepy city. 

At that time, the beach was off limits but it's had a major renovation and is set to reopen on the 28th of Dec with a new infinity pool, restaurant and bar. According to a representative, the rates start from RM560 for rooms overlooking the South China Sea.  

Some prefer something more basic and native, there's THE VILLAGE HOUSE 
Also located in Santubong, the pool is a hotspot for photographs, not to mention it does look like a homelier version of the most instagrammed pool in the world.
It is also for the more zen folk as children under 12 are not permitted onto the premise, and neither is rowdiness allowed after 10PM. 

According to Booking, rates start from RM334 for Village Double Room, featuring a four poster bed! If you don't mind sleeping in a dorm, you can have a bed for RM123 per night. 

For a little in between, there's the new and elusive BASAGA HOLIDAY RESORT LUNDU
Opened 3 months ago, it's been packed almost every weekend. It will be well worth it when you finally grab a room at this resort!

Not only does it have panoramic ocean views, it is part of a wildlife conservation organization so you'll be raising funds for wildlife while enjoying a private outdoor bath or a soak in the salt water pool.

Rates are RM229 for the villas, but add just RM50 to make it a family villa! Check Airbnb for the listings. 

What you need when city lights get too loud is... MENDUNG ESCAPE
You can't get closer to nature than this. Truly an escape from the humidity, being so far up amongst the clouds. The best bed is on the balcony, with the stars for a ceiling and the cool air instead of a whirring airconditioner.

Be warned that it is a 700 meter hike up to the place. According to Airbnb, rates are RM201 per night for couples but groups start at RM250.

If you prefer falling asleep to the sound of running water and waking up to a fresh water river, check out their new cabin, Pinggir Siak

Want the mountains and a pool? Greedy you, say hello to BOYAN HIGHTS
Tucked away in Kampung Git Borneo Heights, this little-known gem also boasts a salt water pool with a scenic view. A great spot for large groups and BBQ!

But the more adventurous might want to look into canoeing and hiking or exploring the nearby caves.

They have three rooms, all listed on Airbnb for RM201 per night.

A place that doesn't get enough love is BORNEO HIGHLANDS RESORT 
For the golfing couple or one that appreciates a good hike and a good view. It has a lovely little waterfall halfway up and the grounds are beautiful for exploring and photoshoots.

Prices start at RM340 on Expedia for a Standard Double but follow their Facebook page for promotions! 

If you're not willing to go that far and is happy to just hideaway whilst still being in Kuching, here are some other options! 

Situated just a stone's throw away from civilization, we have SECRET SANCTUARY 
As the name suggests, the place is like a rustic secret sanctuary, filled with interesting nooks and crannies.

It is a nice little place to chill with friends or a loved one, for extra quality time. The hammocks that line the walkways are wonderful for alone time too!

According to Cyril on Airbnb, where it's known as Bohemian Paradise Holistic Retreat, it's RM80 per person a night for large groups up to 30 pax. For couples, feel free to take on his RM139 suite

There's a place taking Kuching by storm as a whimsical wedding venue: UCSI HOTEL 
Sunsets over carefully decorated rooftops go together like peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. Bonnie and Clyde. You get the idea. 

That's why this spot is gaining popularity, and fast! Weddings, fashion shows and such events have made their mark at this lovely hotel. 

Rates start at RM203 per night, according to their website.

Disappear right into the heart of shopping and entertainment under your feet at LOFT @ VIVACITY
Personally, I like how the pool and gardens are hidden from view by hulking apartments on either side. It feels like a secret Eden, built atop the largest mall in Sarawak!

After a day of activities, it's nice to retire from the hustle and bustle by just taking an elevator up.

The host has two rooms, so you might want to check them both out before deciding on one because they have a different feel to them. Loft is RM188 and Loft II is RM176!

Here's one you probably haven't heard of yet... DE'LOFT KUCHING @ GREENWICH
Situated in a deceivingly quiet housing area with greens all around, this place is not too far from town and within walking distance to Sunny Hill Ice Cream which is an old favorite that locals love.

Designed by an architect, you'll definitely enjoy the tasteful aesthetic. It's RM237 per night for the entire place.

Which is your favorite? Leave a comment below! If you run a sweet staycation spot, use the form on the right to get in touch! 

Monday, November 20, 2017

ITINERARY | Kch foodie's Sibu roadtrip [2D1N]

We took a roadtrip over the weekend from Kuching to Sibu for some food and I thought I'd share what I always go back for.

Depart Kuching at 7AM, have some famous 17 mile chai kueh and make way to Sarikei in time for lunch!

Glory Cafe (Rong Guan Cha Shi) or just watch out for a huge coconut pudding banner.
Must try: Zhao Chai Fen Gan with Shao Rou + Coconut Pudding

Then, if you still have room for some dessert or a snack, you can try the roti bakar at Aik Seng. Apparently, Kuchingites travel there to have their Sardine Special but we just stuck with the classic kaya and butter.

Moving on to Sibu, about an hour's drive. Rest up and head out for Pelicana (THEY ARE OPENING A BRANCH IN SIBU WEI I AM SO HAPPY) and order their original chicken + rice! Otherwise, if you're there during the weekend like us... We hope you're hungry, cos the market awaits with all these...

photo cred // ida tang
The thing in the metal plate is a MUST TRY. I have it every year.

Now it's time to chill for a little bit. Head over to Eiffel Bar for some draught 1664 Blanc before turning in.

If you are an extreme foodie like us, set your alarm for 3AM because you're about to go on a kampua experience!

Feng Sheng Cafe on Jalan Tiong Hua
Must try: Black Kampua!

If you get the chance to order Liver Soup, do it! It was sold out when we got there just before 4AM!

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, since I'm up I might as well head back to Kuching, right? NO.

Go back, catch up on your ZZZs because there's more food for you later in the morning! We woke up around 10AM, because it's still Sunday and Sundays are made for sleeping in. Check out, and let's get going to the last few stops before going home!

Chop Hing Huong 
Must try: Ding Bian Hu

Xiu Long Confectionery
Must try: Ji Dan Gao

Kedai Kopi Cinta Sayang 
Must try: Dry Black Kiaw (also known as Pian Nuek in Foochow)

I call these three the holy trinity cos they are literally a triangle of good food. You'll know what I mean once you see it. Now it's time to bring some goodies back.

There are three stores. I'll list them in order of preference. If you're pressed for time, 1 & 3 are nearer to each other.

1. Tiang Chuon 
2. Sheng Kee 63 Confectionery 
3. Meng Sheng Kee Confectionery 

Once you've got all the kuih kuihs you want (the most popular ones are called "Ju Nong Piang") and the home made instant kampuas, you're ready to leave!

Btw, there is a duck noodle place in Lanchau that most people like to stop at but since I hate duck, we skipped it.

If you need some visual aid, keep your eyes peeled for my youtube video or like my facebook page to stay updated! Let me know if you have any favorites in the comments <3

Monday, October 9, 2017

Become an entrepreneur with Shopee | #ShopeeDayOut

Who doesn't want to make close to RM1 million from their side hustle? With Shopee, you can. A mother won Seller of the Year award by selling baby products and she made her first million in less than two years.

Shopee is dedicated to shaping Malaysians who are passionate about succeeding in their businesses and who have the drive to see it through, into business professionals.

This year, they organized the first East Malaysia Entrepreneur Challenge, where Janet Wong (Shopee ID: Rejoice 123) bagged the first prize of RM3000 for her Home & Living specialty online store. She was hand picked out of 60 participants who have attended Shopee University - a free entrepreneurial workshop that helps sellers set up their online businesses. If you too would like to dip your hand into the honey jar, you should get the app so you don't miss out on anything!

During Shopee's Day Out Carnival last weekend in Kuching where they also presented RM1500 to Nur Farhidda Asmadi (Shopee ID: Nurfa247) who placed second in the challenge and RM500 to Judy Hii (Shopee ID: Little Hut) who was the final runner up. I also learnt that Shopee has FREE shipping. That's heaven to online shopping enthusiasts because there's nothing worse than adding all kinds of things to your cart only to realize it isn't worth it after you add postage 

The carnival included fun and games for all Shopeeholics present. I had fun there with a couple of my babes. We tried our hand at shooting and guess who killed it?

There were lucky draws and other mini contests such as the kite decorating one, but we decided to pass it on as we aren't particularly artistically inclined. We ended the day at Favour by Happy because they had delicious mini Watermelon Strawberry Cakes and we are in love with them!

Monday, September 4, 2017

you me + the highway

Tonight we are lost and camped by a beach where he is doing his assignment and I'm writing. That's what I do, that's what I wish I could always do. Write and write and write. Stories, poems, letters and heartfelt blogs. I wish I could type money out the same way.

One of my first ambitions was to be a writer but I wrote it off because I knew who I was. I could not put enough thought together to see a story through. I have so many unfinished ideas and scrapped plots. I never knew how to end them. But with age comes experience, and with experience comes skill. I have learnt to plan, to go from point A to Z. Laboriously, of course, because nothing worthy ever comes easy.

Of course, getting publish will not be some small feat either. And maybe that's why I've never pursued it. I know that's why he pushes me to go into journalism instead. He calls my writing a talent. It is far more validation than I've ever received from him.

Who would have known that something as stressful as a roadtrip will bring us closer together? I had expected fights at every turn (literally) about my poor navigational skills and exasperation when things don't go according to plan. But it has shown me how much teamwork and patience we have, enduring every hiccup and devising new solutions together. And that is both exciting and comforting to me, knowing that we are able to work hand in hand without driving the other mad.

When morning comes, we'll skip down to the beach and enjoy the clear waters, the peace, the beauty.

Then we will say a silent goodbye before hitting the roads once more.

I have always loved roadtrips but now I think I'm obsessed with them. I want to move away, buy a van and make it a home.