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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Restoran Ban Heong Seng 萬香城餐館

We all heard about the Beggar Chicken 乞丐鸡 / 叫化鸡 in Johor Bahru but there were many times when we tried to locate the place, we could not really make ourselves there due to unknown address on Google Map. Moreover, through words of mouth, we learnt that 1 Day advance booking is required. Since then, going there has never come across our mind as our trip to Johor is always a last minute decision nowadays.

Restoran Ban Heong Seng
However, recently I learnt that they have got a new place and decided to try our luck if we could go there. It was a last minute decision and although we know that we have to call in 1 Day in Advance to make booking, I tried our luck through Whatsapp (+60-16757-1887). Fortunately, the boss managed to reserve one chicken for us even no advance booking was made. To ease our journey to their place, he had also sent the link on google map and we followed it accordingly.

When we reached there, we were quite shocked as the place was empty with no other customers seen during dinner time on a Sunday night.

What's outstanding about the Beggar Chicken? I would say its the traditional way of preparing this delicacy. The chicken was stuffed with assorted herbs and being wrap with layers of grease paper and earth clay. There then, it was placed in a bed of charcoal to bake for 8 hours.

Beggar Chicken 叫化鸡 - RM 42.00
How does this Beggar Chicken come about? Apparently this dish is very popular in China. During the ancient time, it was said that a beggar stole a chicken from the farm and in order to prevent getting caught, he covered the chicken with lotus leave and packed clay / mud over it and buried to cook it, avoiding smoke that attract others.

The chicken was indeed very tender and fall off the bone easily with little effort. We dissected the chicken and was impressed by the herbs inside: Wolfberries, red dates, danggui etc. It was packed full of luscious herbal taste though it might be a tad bitter for some.

Herbal Stuffing in the Chicken
Pairing the chicken with Tung Hoon. I will agree that this plate of Tung Hoon gave us a good reminiscent of childhood taste. Ingredients were generous, consisting of mushroom slices, vegetables, prawns, meat and the use of dried shrimp had definitely elevated the taste. 

Tung Hoon 冬粉 - RM 16.00 (Medium)
I wanted to order this as I knew the soup will come in the melon. Melon was elongated and this gave a good depth to contain a few bowls of melon soup.

Melon Soup 冬瓜汤 - RM 28.00
This is also one of their signature dishes. It was steamed for hours with ingredients like wolf-berries, chicken meat, white fungus and red dates. The taste was quite subtle with little or no winter melon taste.

Winter Melon
Remember to scrape the side of the melon wall to get some cooling winter melon flesh.

Up in a bowl
I knew at least the hype of Beggar chicken had died down in me even though many had raved about it. Though meat was fork tender but it kind of lack the herbal taste in it. Given their Signature dishes as the beggar chicken with traditional method of cooking, we still prefer the usual herbal chicken that has got herbal infused.

Rating: 3 / 5

Ban Heong Seng 萬香城餐館
Location:  113, Jalan Impian Emas 59, Taman Impian Emas, 81300 Skudai, Johor, Malaysia

Friday, November 2, 2018

Hard Rock Hotel - Desaru Coast

Being an avid Hard Rock Fan for many years, it was my first experience staying in Hard Rock Hotel. If not for my anniversary, perhaps this chance of getting a stay in the newly launch hotel may not had happened.

Hard Rock Hotel
We reached there an hour or 2 before the formal check in timing and our rooms were not ready. Thus we loitered around the hotel and try to get familiar with the place ourselves.

The reception area is an opened space and looking out of the area, we got to see enjoyable moments in the Adventure Park.

Lobby Area
While exploring around, we saw that there were shuttle buses coming in. However we asked around and realized that those buses were catered for their staff.

Hard Rock Hotel
As the place was relatively new, quite a portion of the hotel were not really in operation, like the coffee lounge and we can see some parts of the rooms were still under renovation. Even the surroundings, its hard to get around without transport.

Adventure Park Behind Check In Counter
We sat around the Lobby and Bar Area, people watching while sipping some coolers waiting for time to pass by. The area was breezy and bright.

We checked a few rounds with the counter and finally our room was ready for check-in.

Waiting at the Lounge
A slight disappointment we had received as the hotel rooms facing the water theme park were all fully occupied thus we were told that we will get hotel facing the sea. However things are still under construction and do not expect the usual sea view we had in mind.

Hotel Facing Sea - My View from the Balcony :(
The lift level were confusing. Lift number doesn't tally the actual level indicated.

Colorful shades while waiting for Lift
We had the Deluxe King Room which is about 42 sq metres / 452 sqft with an attached balcony. As this is their soft launch period, facilities and hotel interior are still very new. The crew that showed us to the room was friendly and explained the usage of the room.

Into the Room
We were welcomed by the pair of Swans on the king bed (pre-arranged with the hotel staff). The room as well as the bed was spacious.

Swans on Bed
Love the comfort level in the hotel room, with such environment, it just make us felt relax and not stepping out of the room. Moreover it was a gloomy and cold weather. Awww... even the firmness of the bed felt so right at the correct moment.

Pillow Case with Guitar
I love the part on their entertainment system in the hotel room. With their flat screen TV and On-demand movies, I guess I can be a couch potato. Not to mention about the free Wi-Fi provided too. There is sound woofer system too. Connections like HDMI, RGB, VGA and USB were all provided.

They have this function that if the balcony sliding door is open, the air conditioning will be automatically switched off.

Door to Balcony

It was a good move by the hotel to go in line with the Recycling Practice. Instead of serving plastic bottles of complimentary mineral water, they had water coolers at every level for us to refill. These bottles were sanitized and each come with a carrier for convenient.

Reuse Refill Return
The Water Filling Station dispenses the water automatically when you placed your bottle at the indicated area and there is a number counter to indicate how many bottles have been saved.

Water Filling Station
Another worthy part to mention will be their mini bar, their snacks and tibits are all free of charge. Not sure if its just for its soft launch.

Mini Bar Area
Thanks to the crews that took efforts in presenting macaroons at our doorsteps instead of Cake and flowers as requested earlier. They did call up before approaching our room and if it was supposed to be a surprise to me, just too bad that I have picked up the call and they had revealed this little token from them.

From the Hotel
Breakfast at the Sessions. It looks quite empty to us as the seats were not fully occupied.


Dining Area at the Sessions
We were not every early for breakfast and not many people there. A good point was that we did not have to squeeze with others and queue for food.

Food Counters
Varieties of food were relatively enough with Western, Chinese, Indian and Malay Breakfast. A staple dish that won't go missing from every hotel's breakfast in Malaysia would be their Nasi Lemak.

Breakfast Area
The egg station looked a little different to me from all the hotels I had visited. They had built a shelving in between and created a "barrier" between the cook and the diners. It brought a little inconvenience that we need to raise ourselves up to collect the eggs. In normal hotel, it would have been "barrier" free. 

Where we get our eggs served
Food items were well organised and kept warm in individual pots. 

Buffet Breakfast
The pots were of quality and popular brand. Some strength will be required while lifting the pots cover up.

Beef Sausages

My Breakfast
We were also free to choose our seating and I love the round table seat.

Seating in the Sessions
Overall, I would comment that their service and hospitality is really great. The only regret I had is that the weather were not too good and we miss out the free entrance into the adventure park. 

Hard Rock hotel
It will be great to return again once the area have been developed with a few launch of hotel. Perhaps another 1 to 2 years time.

Still developing
Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast
Location: Jalan Pantai 3, Desaru Coast, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Naked Finn

As a first timer in The Naked Finn, we are recommended to take the set. There are 2 sets to choose from with difference of $20. The set meal is priced per pax and the rule is that everybody on the same table must order the same set. We went ahead for the $68 per pax meal which consist of 6 dishes.

The Naked Fin
After we took our order, we were given a saucer where by there are 3 types of Asian Sauce that gave a good taste to the dishes we had.

As we gave our main focus to the food in The Naked Finn, we had only ordered 2 bottles of sparkling water throughout our dining session.

Sparkling Water
Water Spinach aka Kang Kong was our first dish. It was a sharing portion served chilled, blanched and tossed in kalamansi juice. It gave a different dimension to the usual Kang Kong we had. It was succulent, also crunchy and flavorfully served in dried shrimp and fried shallot oil.

Water Spinach
We ordered additional Lobster bisque and asked them to divide equally between 2 bowls. The American Lobster bisque was available during then while European lobster was unavailable. The taste from the bisque was out of my expectation for it wasn't the creamy kind that we had from the day to day Western Cuisine. Instead it was more towards the Style of Chinese Prawn Mee Soup but don't get me wrong saying that it's not of quality. The bisque was made up of roasted lobster (head & roe), skate stock, tomato puree and brandy.

Lobster Bisque - $22
I'm not really a fan of such baby squids but it had thrown me a surprise as they were delectable. They were grilled on cast iron griddle with grapeseed oil. Simply love its smoky flavours from the grill, moreover they were not oily and were chewy. I would say that the freshness of the squid was apparent.

Wild-caught 'baby' Indian squid
Never know "Bee Hoon" can be prepared in a nice way like this. Totally remarkable! They were blanched, tossed in special sauces and topped with eye catching Sakura Ebi in contrast of the white strands of vermicelli. Flavours could be enhanced with the citrus juice from the lime.

Piquant vermicelli
Each of us was served 4 pieces of flambeed in white wine. I think I have a soft spot for these. They were awesomely prepared , drizzled with fish sauce and fried shallot oil. Fragrant!

Wild-caught New Zealand littleneck
Fillet was pan fried in grapeseed oil, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. Cant imagine that its skin was crispy while the meat was moist tender and smooth.

Locally-farmed barramundi
Total of 6 pieces of Giant Prawns were served to us. They were grilled with sea salt on cast iron grill.

Farmed Giant Tiger Prawn
Slices of Iberico Pork were yummy. They were service with sea salt and dried sole fish.

Secreto Iberico Pork - 180g - $30
As a whole, I think I'm spoilt. I'm please with every dishes served. Love the fact that they are understated and never failed leaving a good impression to us. It really illustrated the effect of  having less is more. From their dishes, I had also understood that simplest preparation of food with minimal use of sauce can taste great too.

Environment is good and most importantly, food was satisfying. Glad that I had make a good choice dining in this laid back vibe for a birthday dinner.


4 / 5

The Naked Finn
Location: 39 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks, 109442