Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reunion Dinner 2012 @ Kok Thai, Tasek

After years of eating in, my reunion dinner this year was held outside. I do understand that it is tedious work to prepare a feast but the cleaning up is the nightmare which follows. This is why Chinese restaurants took the advantage to earn big profits from this tradition. Previously these restaurants went a bit too much by slotting 3 different dinner sessions (say... 530, 7.00, 8.30pm) and it left a sour note to most dinners. Fortunately, they were a bit more reasonable this year by having 2 slots only.

We took the 6pm slot in Kok Thai Restaurant in Tasek. Both the ground and first floor were filled to the brim. On my estimation, it can fill about 150 tables on both floors. Now, can you imagine how much in sales they make in just one night?

Stories and customs aside. Let's have a slight review on the food. This is the Rainbow Salmon Yee Sang. I can't comment much as this is the second Yee Sang I had this year (The first at my company's Sau Gung Jau). Furthermore, I did not get a taste on my personal favourite from Tai Seng. Nevertheless, it managed to bear the symbolic meaning unlike "fishless" version (replaced with meat floss) of Yee Sang served in Yum Yum Restaurant. Unable to obtain "halal fish" is not an excuse because according to Islamic Laws, all aquatic animals are halal except poisonous and intoxicating ones.

We did our part in preserving the ecosystem by drinking Fish Lip Soup with Assorted Treasures instead of Sharks Fin. Next it was Beggars' Chicken Herbal Chicken. A lackluster version, I felt my mom's version prevailed without much judgment.

The steamed fish was served in less than a gap time of 10 minutes after the chicken. We were a bit annoyed by these gestures by the restaurant to "rush us away". Well, I guessed this is the downside of dining out. You can't really dine in peace. To make things worse, the food quality is not as good as it is on normal days. For example this fish. its supposed to be Garoupa (Sek Ban). But mom suspected that we were being served Siakap. Furthermore from the rough flesh texture, it was very obvious that this fish was poached before steaming to reduce the cooking time.

A "Fah Hoi Fu Kwai" (stir fried assorted vegetables with macadamia nuts) was served before giving way to panfried prawns in soya sauce. Prawns lacked the "ooomphhh".... perhaps it was cooked in a big batch. Or worst still, it was also cooked by poaching them because there were poached prawns in the other set menus.

The portions were not very big though. We only have 7 people feasting on a set menu enough to feed a table of 10. And yet, we polished up every single dish, except for the Glutinous Rice with Assorted Meat (waxed duck, pork sausages, liver sausages and stewed pork, which I suspect its the canned version ala "Gu Loong" brand). Dessert was Tang Yuan (filled with peanuts and sesame) in soya milk. Our dinner kick started around 6.15pm and ended slightly before 8pm. And before we left we saw many people already waiting impatiently for their seats for the 8pm session. I read from a friend's Facebook status update lamenting on the delay for the second session - seated at 8.45, 15 minutes without any tea/peanuts, and the first dish was only served at 9.20pm.

Personally, I felt the earlier session has more advantages. You can start your meal on time and service was quite good. The slight drawback is dishes were served on overdrive mode without much consistent time lapse between them. For the second session, you might think that you will get to enjoy a longer session because there are nobody else after you preying on your tables like vultures. That's if you go through a series of obstacles like finding parking (because the first session haven't finished their meal and leave yet), waiting for some not-so-punctual people from the session before you to finish up their meal, waiting for the waiters to clear up the tables, self service chinese tea and peanuts and last but not least, having to starve until 9pm+

But, the best is still home cooked dinner at home, at your own leisure and pace. So, back to the usual way next year. No more dining out for us! Happy Chinese New Year!

Monday, January 16, 2012

CuRRy nOOdLes, cUrRy nOoDLeS... and MORE curry noodles! =D

As I was writing this post on a cooling nite, I felt the cravings for a piping hot soupy bowl of home cooked curry noodles. Instant one would do the trick. If I could request a bit more, I would wanna have tau pok, char siu and also home made fish paste (yu wak) to go along with it, just like the photo above, which I cooked last week.

Even if I manage to surpress my cravings, I will succumb to it the next morning. Eventhough I only get to have a proper breakfast with my parents like once only in a week (5 1/2 working days, Sun got church, wat to do?!) sometimes I can still get bored of thinking what to have for breakfast on a non-working day. Dined at Kafe Tim one morning and had their version of curry noodles which incorporated shredded chicken, char siu (BBQ pork) and char yuk (fried pork belly instead of roasted pork - siu yoke) coupled with some tau fu pok in a thick dry curry gravy. Tastewise, just above average, but not too bad. I mean, what could you ask for nowadays for RM3.50 right? =p

Else, it would be like a typical weekend morning just like today. A rainy morning called for a soupy curry noodles to kick start the day! The fried yong liew to accompany it... in a place called K-10 Claypot Chicken Rice. Yes, they sell noodles during breakfast-lunch hour. Claypot chicken rice only operates at night.

Remember I mentioned "What else could you get for RM3.50" just now? Hehe... The curry noodles at Yat Yat Seng is RM5 per plate! However you really get back yout money worth with peeled small sized prawns, shredded chicken meat, Char Siu, Siu Yoke and pork skin. Portion is a bit small but should do the trick for ladies.... or those wanting a light lunch.

 It was N years ago since I last dined in Yat Yat Seng. Thanks to my church friends' suggestion for lunch, I finally made a simple coverage on this eatery. I would say most of the poeple come here is because of the curry noodles stall. Besides curry noodles, they also serve relatively good chicken rice. Not the best I have tasted, but the chicken flesh was smooth and tender, the skin almost jelly-like. The rice may be abit turn off at first sight due to the slightly excessive yellow colouring used (I doubt they really use so much Planta for it) which made it look like those Malay styled chicken rice. But the soya sauce worked wonders and complemented the fluffy "oil rice" ( I never opt for white rice when it comes to chicken rice). RM3.70 on a plate of chicken rice might be slighly above the average Ipoh price, but sometimes.... hawkers do have the right to put a higher charge if they are above the rest in terms of skilful cooking.

 There is also Kai Si Hor Fun served. Tasted the soup, which is quite "ching". A bit more fried shallots is needed. Oh yeah, pork balls sold seperately. Else, don't look in amazement as you are told to pay RM5 for the bowl in the picture above.

Surprisingly, besides the food, there are some supporting reasons to be here. They served caramel egg custard. My friends seems excited over it but I decided to let them order first (RM1.40 per serving, but its freaking small) so that I can have a look. Well, in the end, I ordered one for myself also despite the not-so-attractive first impression (seasoned foodies will know how to distinguish good ones by looking at the brownish layer at the top caused by the sugar caramel) Curiosity killed the cat as I was totally disappointed with the version here and it paled in comparison to the few caramel custards I tasted in Ipoh. The one in Thean Chun, Old Town still reigns supreme.

Well, at least their Green Coffee is something worthwhile for a try. If I'm not mistakan, green tea is used to get this FUSION "Cham Ice". It may turn out a bit sweet to certain people, thus eclipsing the coffee aroma. RM1.70 for this frothy iced coffee-tea concoction. I would recommend you to give it a try, at least once. So that wraps up my food hunt recently. Well, there are not many new eateries in Ipoh lately, isn't it? =) At least, I'm still commited to update my blog while looking at other blogrolls to have "months" and "years" as the measurement for their last update.....

Monday, January 9, 2012

Laser Battle - First Indoor Laser Tag Game in Ipoh

 Opened a few weeks ago, news of a new hotspot for youngster in Ipoh has been spreading widely in Facebook. The publicity was great and I even got flyers at my house mailbox. After watching a few friends photos in FB, finally the wait is over and I get to try out the latest craze in the sleepy town of Ipoh. Laser Battle is situated on the second floor of Glamour Square Building in Bercham.

 One game of Laser Tag is RM18 but there are currently having a promotion of RM13 a game. Otherwise you can always opt for value pack packages which is currently going for RM23 for 2 games. They are currently promoting another package of 5 games for RM50 (can be carried forward as long as you keep the game coupon on your next visit)

 Else, their standard price is RM18 per game after promotional period. They have 2 private rooms for small gatherings. You can bring your own light snacks/beverages along. For RM38, you get 3 games plus usage of the private rooms.

 The exterior of the place are all decorated with wallpapers which brings the futuristic feel. More like a space craft or some science facilities. These doors are the entrance to the battle arena.

 What is laser tag, you might ask. Laser Tag is actually a high-tech game/sport where players wearing computerized vests and handheld "phasers" (guns) attempt to achieve a winning score by zapping opponent players, base stations, and other targets within a playing arena or maze. Having said that, there are a lot of games available like Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, Free For All Standard Solo/Team battles, Eliminations, Zone Collectors, Friend or Foe and many others (The list goes up to 40 types)

Every pack has sensors on the front, back and shoulders of the vest as well as for the phaser. Zapping these areas will award points and your target's pack is deactivated for a short period. Take this time of around 4-5 seconds to run and "respawn" in another place before your pack becomes active again. Your phaser gun displays basic information like your ID, current score and ranking, current status (active or shutdown), name of the opponent who tagged (shot) you.

One game/mission last for 10 minutes. This is the area where you get your packs. It can be customized to a few colours if you are playing in teams. Before moving in, we will get a briefing on the game we are supposed to play. Since most of us are new here, we went for Standard Solo for the first round and Standard Team for the second. Basically, not much strategy was needed except for basic "surviving skills" and how to watch your back.

 The arena is well lit with UV blacklights. Usage of fluorescent paints and materials in the arena walls, drums and barricades causes them to glow in the dark so that you don't bump into them. Furthermore, every player is wearing a lighted vest with their guns. You wont have any trouble missing your target. However, dark coloured clothes does play a slight advantage. Or rather, wearing white will just make you easily traceable although your vest is without lights temporarily when you are "dead".

 Look at the glow from my white shoe laces. As mentioned, wearing dark coloured shirt will be an advantage. Well, since there are 11 of us in the arena, the first round, being free for all, was crazy as it was every man for himself!

 Luckily I did not embarass myself. Out of 14 players, I finished 7th in the first game. There were 3 party crashers whom comprised the workers of this place and their close friends (honestly, I do not feel comfortable playing with strangers, especially pros which cause the game to be IMBA) which topped the list. So if I exclude them, I actually was ranked 4th among 11 players from my group. Not too bad for a first timer. =)

 My team lost the second round by a small score margin despite having 6 players against 5. Overall, I think I was 4th in terms of score. I find team battles less chaotic and you have more time to catch your breath. Trust me, when you are waiting for your turn to play, you will go like "Wow, the other groups are out. 10 mins already ar?" But when you are inside the arena, I bet you will change to "Wow, not yet 10 minutes mer?" *gasp gasp*

Seriously, you will be catching your breath in no time after all the sprinting and adrenaline rush. Highly recommended if you do some light warming up before the game. You may be good in computer games like Modern Warfare, but sprinting in real life is a different talk. Minus the pain. Plus the air cond. Laser tagging might be your cup of tea if you do not really fancy paintball. Now who's up for another game soon?