Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Restoran Apa Khabar (老北村家煲仔堂), Kepong Baru

Introducing another hidden gem spot in Kepong Baru which you need to drop by to have a taste of their authentic and delicious yet affordable Chinese food. This place has an interesting name which you can remember easily. It's called Restoran Apa Khabar or known as 老北村家煲仔in Chinese. I bet you can easily remember its name in alphabets - 'Apa Khabar' aka How Are You in English. 

This Chinese restaurant is located nearby Tai Thong Odeon Kepong - about 3 minutes walking distance away. It's a corner shop along Jalan Ambong Kiri 1 and parking is not a problem here in the evening. As it's the only eateries which operates along the road on the lovely evening which we were there; plenty of parking lots available right in front of the shop. You can spot this lively restaurant when you're turning into that road. Not many people knows about this place but it's definitely a must-try place on your bucket list. 

It's a clean and neat restaurant with indoor and outdoor tables available. You gotta drop by earlier as the restaurant was packed to the bream at about 8pm when we were there on a weekday. The interior of the restaurant focuses on a clean white tiles covering the wall with traditional round food cover hanging around -  which showcase a traditional Chinese home's setting. That giant round-shaped food cover in red are part and parcel in most traditional Chinese's home - I have them in my house too as well as all my relative's house which has been used for more than 10 years.  

Restoran Apa Khabar aka老北村家煲仔specialized in Chinese cuisine - particularly in claypot dishes. It has a super thick menu in the form of an photo album. Pretty straight forward; pictures of the dishes available with its name and price. Dish's name are only available in Chinese words but no worries - just point on the dish's picture to order; you can grasp the dish by looking at its pictures. 
Gotta thanks Eddy and the team at Gourmet Hunter KL for organizing the dinner as well as introducing this restaurant to us. My partner and I had a great moment with the delicious dishes served. It's now on our dinner places list too. 
We tried an array of dishes that was served that evening. I would say that it's like a complete 10-course Chinese dinner being served to us. We love Chinese dishes and we gave a double thumbs up to all the dishes served that evening in terms of quality, variety, taste as well as price. It's not easy to find good Chinese dishes at an affordable price around Klang Valley.

You might already updating your own to-order list while browsing through their menu. It's hard to select the finalist on your to-order list. No matter what your choice are, you gotta include their seafood dishes on the list. This restaurant is also famous for their Claypot fish dishes. Two most common fish served on their menu is the Tilapia and Catfish. As for me, I don't really eat Tilapia fish (depending on the cooking method) due to its smell but it's really famous here - do try them while you're here. 

Instead, we tried their Claypot Catfish dishes which we love them very much. All fishes are served on a big claypot with the perfectly cooked fish and a decent amount of broth. Best thing about the broth is that the amount served is enough for you to drizzle them on your rice for an extra flavors. You don't need to ask for more sauce or broth like you do when you eat steam fish at other shops which always ended with a black face on the serving crew. The broth which comes with the fishes are lovely that we drank them as if we're drinking soup. 

The first type of fish that were served is the Claypot Catfish with Preserved Radish (RM48) aka 金沙菜宝白须.You can identify this dish from the crispy chopped preserved radish aka choy poh in Cantonese and the fried garlic & ginger which was garnished on top of the fish. The preserved radish is being fried together with minced ginger and garlic to release its flavours before being cooked with the fish. Catfish is fresh and cooked perfectly! You can smell a hint of the Chinese wine which is being mixed together with it superior soy sauce that forms the basis of the sauce. Claypot dishes must be enjoyed when it's piping hot because it's the temperature that the food taste at its best. 

The second type of claypot fish which we tried is the Claypot Catfish with Spicy Bean Paste Broth (RM48) aka 香辣白须and it's also one of my top favorite fish that evening. The sauce is something like the bean paste steamed fish aka cheong jing fish that I had tried outside. However, the spicy bean paste broth which was served has a balance of savory and spicy element in it that goes really smooth with the catfish. You might feel that the spiciness is quite intent in your mouth but it does really gives a kick to your palate. I love them and not to forget the coriander which act as a garnishing too. Coriander always gives an extra mile to the dish.

The third type of claypot fish which was presented is the Claypot Catfish in Chinese Wine with Minced Garlic (RM48) 醇香白须公 where the catfish is surrounded by a strong Chinese wine base broth. There's also extra flavoring ingredients in the broth such as the lemongrass, chopped chillies, garlic, gingers and etc. The broth has a bit of tangy, spicy and savory taste and the sourish element is not that strong. Order more rice to go with them.

Next, we move on to their poultry dishes. Like the seafood dishes, they have a long list of poultry dishes too. If you're not into Claypot fishes; opt for their Claypot Chicken dishes instead. We tried this Claypot Salted Chicken in Chinese Wine Broth (RM35 - Half Chicken) aka 盐酒村. It's actually salted village chicken (Kampung chicken) with a Ginger based Chinese Rice Wine broth. This dish is good to dispel unwanted gas in your body as it brings the heat element to your body. The chicken is not overly cooked that there's still herby flavours retained in the chicken. Good to try it on a rainy day. 

We also tried the Nutty Buttermilk Chicken (RM18 for Small & RM25 for Big) aka沙皮. I would called it a buttermilk chicken but in Chinese; it's called Shar Pei Chicken which means sandy skin Chicken. It's basically a fried chicken cooked in a creamy and nutty buttermilk sauce with bites of nuts as a coating on its skin - where it gets its name as a sandy skin chicken in Chinese; where the nuts resemble the sand thing here. It's just a personification. It taste great with a strong and creamy nuts flavor sauce. Great for those who love buttermilk and nutty food. It might sounds like a peanut butter chicken to you - but it's more to the buttermilk chicken kind of taste. 

Up next is the porky dishes; an authentic Chinese cuisine is not complete without the porky dishes. We were quite excited with this Braised Pork Knuckle (RM68) aka 老北元when it was being served. The first thing that might come into your mind is that, it's full of fats and no meat. Fret not, once you cut open the enriched collagen layer, there's a huge chuck of succulent meat lying underneath it. I'm not a fan of the thick pork knuckle skin but if you do, it's a natural source of collagen to your body. The juicy meat lying beneath it is flavorful and the meat just fall off its bone kind of texture. Yum!

If you love the braised kind of strong flavors dishes; you will fall in love with this Stewed Pork Ribs (RM8/each) aka 老北香口骨(一块). It looks something like the Barbeque kind of dishes due to its colour. But yes, I presumed the ribs is being grilled or barbeque before it's being braised in the rich savory sauce. Unlike those super chewy pork ribs, the meat actually falls off from its bone too and there's a huge percentage in meaty part to bones ratio in this dish. 

If you're looking for something to snack or a crispy texture kind of dish; this Crispy Pork Belly Slices (RM20 for small & RM25 for big) aka香汁花is perfect for you. It's actually deep fried pork belly slices coated with a sourish-sweet sauce. The pork belly is thinly sliced and deep-fried to crispiness that it's like a piece of potato chips texture in your mouth. It's really that crispy! You might want to order a bigger portion of this because just like your bowl of chips, it finishes faster than you know it. 

This restaurant also offers a few types of soup to go with your rice. We tried this special Tom Yum Gong (Fish Maw and Squid) (RM20 for small & RM38 for big) aka 老北东炎公 (鱼鰾和sotong). Unlike the traditional Thai styled Tom Yum soup, this Tom Yum Soup at Restoran Apa Khabar comes with generous amount of fish maw, squid and vegetables. It's my first time trying a spicy tom yum soup with fish maw! It taste really good with a good source of collagen from the fish maw - I'm a huge fan of fish maw. If you don't really consume fish maw due to its fishy taste, you can try this soup because the strong flavors of tom yum helps to dispel the fishy fish maw taste. And yes, perfect soup on a rainy day!

Last but not least, we also had a plate of greens to balance up our meal. I quite love this Stir Fried Wild Fern (RM20) aka 柠香巴古菜. I personally love this young wild fern vegetable and it's quite hard to get the young shoots in the market - not all Chinese restaurants have this too. This young leafy wild fern is prepared in a Kerabu kind of style where it's mixed with a Thai styled sourish and spicy sauce as well as raw onions as a finishing. A must-try dish here and a serve as a great appetizer dish! 

The food served at Restoran Apa Khabar is great! I'm sure that you will order extra bowl of rice to go with them - guess what, my partner and I indeed order extra bowls of rice to paired it with the dishes served. This is a perfect Chinese claypot dishes stop for your meal. 

For more info about their amazingly dishes, visit their Facebook page at Restoran Apa Khabar. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Valley Agro Park (山寨谷休閒度假村), Bentong

About 2 hours drive away from the hectic lifestyle in Klang Valley ( I Do!), lies a beautiful town named Bentong. There are many hidden gems that you should explore in this town. Following my experience at Bilut Extreme Park (my previous post here, if you haven't read it yet), we continued our journey to another beautiful and must-visit destination in Bentong.

This must-visit place is called Valley Agro Park (山寨谷休閒度假)which is located about 15-20 minutes away from Bilut Extreme Park. It's not just an ordinary park for recreation but it's much more than that. I would call it a resort with tons of facilities. 

Located on a 18-acre piece of originally an oil palm plantation land which the founder, Mr. Sing inherited from his late father; it is built based on the Wu Xia setting from one of the Four Greatest Classical Novels of Chinese Literature called 水滸傳 aka Outlaws of the Marsh. The founder was inspired by this novel that he wanted to bring the stories to life. Therefore, you can call it a水滸傳 themed resort because its unique built-up here at Valley Agro Park are inspired from the water town in the novel. I did a bit of a Google-ing on the 水滸傳 to get a rough idea on how the town in the story would look like. According to the Discover Hangzhou site, the Meicheng (梅城古镇) water town has a deep connection with many famous Chinese classical novels including水滸傳. I would say that the founder, Mr. Sing did quite a great job in bringing the ancient town to live - you gotta stay tune till the end of this post to be mesmerized by the beautiful setting at Valley Agro Park.

From a glance of the resort's surrounding, you might thought that this entire resort aka park is built on a lake or river or something - as the building are located on a mini lake or river look-a-like setting.  However, it is originally an oil palm plantation. According to the team at Valley Agro Park, irrigation was created and the land was cleared during the construction period to improve the ecological cycle and air quality of the area. As this piece of land is situated quite near (within walking distance) to the nearby waterfalls, irrigation was created to allow the water from the waterfalls to also flow throughout - or underneath the resort. It creates a serene scenery which is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway from the city.

Valley Agro Park offers a unique accommodation experience whereby your rooms are built on a continuous water-flowing mini lake. Plus, the look and feel of the rooms (wooden attap huts) makes you feel as if you had travel back in time to the ancient Chinese dynasty setting. Rates are affordable and you can take lots of nostalgic feeling kind of photographs or selfies here. As this resort is surrounded by natural forest, you can listen to the sound of nature (it can be birds chirping, insects cricking, etc) at different times of the day while enjoying yourself (or a 'me' time) under a green landscape.

We did a tour around the rooms available and rooms are clean :) - one of the items I will put on my check-list when looking for an accommodation. There's also a unique room in this resort which you can see water-flowing (water from nearby waterfalls) underneath the room called水上間. The room's floor are made of wooden planks that you can see the water-flowing underneath it. This room does not requires air conditioned because the continuous water flowing underneath it cools the room naturally. You might want to be careful not to drop small items on the floor - hehe.

There's also an in-house restaurant which serves authentic and delicious home-styled Chinese cuisine; organic food and vegetables in particularly.

 Thanks to the team at Valley Agro Park, we were treated to a scrumptious lunch which I love it a lot - yes, all my favorite dishes are served - and more on their menu.

We had the Fresh Sugarcane Juice (with no sugar or water added) which is great to quench our thirst - it was a hot day. Satisfying with natural sweetener from the plant itself.

Valley Agro Park offers fresh river fish to its customers - thus you gotta order their seafood dishes here. Prices are affordable and you'll be putting your double thumbs up at the end of the meal. We had 2 types of fish based dishes; the Grilled Nyonya Style Tilapia in Foil Packets (金鳳娘惹燒) and Green Pepper Steamed Catfish (青椒白鬚公). The Nyonya fish is good - sourish spicy gravy with natural sweetness from the fish. I love the Green Pepper Steamed Catfish even more! Gravy is good, a bit of a spiciness (not the curry kind of spicy but from the pepper) to give a bit of kick and steamed to perfection - best part, my favorite parsley and ginger are presence on the dish.

If you're looking for a perfectly steamed kampung chicken, you gotta try it here at Valley Agro Park. The Yoke Lan Chicken (玉蘭) is basically Steamed Chicken with Kai Lan vegetable - minus the Chinese Ham from the original recipe because it's a pork free restaurant. Love the chicken - real and mature (not those 100 days and under) Kampung Chicken where the meat is moist and a bit more bites on the meat part as Kampung chicken runs around the farm - which means lots of exercise to its muscle. Their homemade dipping paste (fried onions, garlic and ginger paste in sesame oil - I guessed, just like how I cooked it at home) for the chicken is superb (would love to learn it from the chef - hehe). And I love the Chinese parsley - delicious chicken meat with perfectly homemade dipping and a drizzle of soy sauce from the chicken dish + Chinese parsley all in one bite - it's heavenly. I guess I took all the Chinese parsley from the dish, hehe. 

We also had the Pumpkin Beancurd (金瓜豆)where the sauce is great - lots of pumpkin puree being used without MSG. Scope lots of gravy and eat it with your rice. I had more than a bowl of rice during the lunch due to their delicious food. 

The next dish on the table is the Claypot Braised Eggplant with Fish Cakes (煲仔茄子燴魚).Delicious braised eggplant (aka brinjal) in a claypot - best to be served when it's sizzling hot. The fish cakes here (known as ) is the gluten type of fish cakes where fish paste is being mixed with accompanying ingredients such as garlic and etc and shaped into balls shape before being deep fried. It's one type of traditional Chinese styled fish cakes that you gotta try.    

Last but not least, it's my favorite Claypot Sweet Potato Leaves (瓦煲蕃薯) being served on the table. More of this please :)

You should include a meal at this lovely restaurant when you're staying here or even around the Bentong town. 

Other facilities around the resort includes Barbeque facility at only RM25/pax (area suits minimum 6 pax) and requires 3 days advanced booking, Karaoke, Conference facilities, Camping, Miniature Animal Park, Tree House activity, touring their own Vegetable garden, Fishing (catch and release at no charge and if you would like to bring your catch home, charges apply) and many more.

For more info on Valley Agro park, visit their official website here or message them through their Facebook page at Valley Agro Park.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

OSIM uLove launch Event

Osim Malaysia has recently launched its brand new massage chair which is guaranteed to capture your heart and become part your daily necessities items ( I proudly say yes to it!).

Introducing its latest technologically and brilliantly designed massage chair named OSIM uLove; your brand new prince charming at home. This massage chair is intelligent and highly intuitive that you can bid farewell to your body aches. 

For me, I’m not a fan of massage chairs myself because somehow or rather, it didn’t massage through the key points which I wanted it to be -  I tried them at those massage chair machine available at malls for a dollar or two. I usually prefer going to a spa or massage boutique shop for a relaxing moment because the pressure exerted can be varies (balanced). However, after trying this OSIM uLove, it changed my mind about massage chairs and that it can provide a pretty relaxing moment too. 

OSIM had a roadshow to unveil its OSIM uLove at 1 Utama Concourse Level recently and I grabbed this opportunity to try its brand new innovation. As part of its launch, guests experienced a 30 minutes relaxing moment on its brand new OSIM uLove. 

The event setup was pretty amazing! We were ushered into an area of darkness after given a hot towel to refresh our face and wipe our hands – it feels like you’re in a real spa centre. And there were the brand new OSIM uLove gracefully welcoming us to sit on it J. Covered my eyes with the eye masks given and put myself on it. The sofa backing is so comfortable that it fits my body well and placed my legs on the compartment too. And here we go with the start button!

Complete full body massage
This OSIM uLove works its magic from my head down to my butt as well as on my legs! It’s a pretty complete version of massage chair available in town. Well, I would say that it feels like I was having a massage at a spa centre when I’m on this OSIM uLove massage chair.

V-Hand with Roller Balls which resemble hand of a real masseuse
This is because the OSIM uLove comes with an innovative and clever V-Hand with 720 Roller Balls that resembles the hand-grip of a professional masseuse – which can relive deep seated knots as well as those along the odd contours of your body. This clever V-Hand works its magic on my head, neck and shoulder well that I almost fall asleep [I tried hard not to ;)]. And the best part, this super Roller Balls can rotate 360 in both horizontal and vertical directions to intimately roll along every part of the body.
Butt Cuddle
One thing I love about this OSIM uLove is that its massage track is extended to your butt too! You can’t get this butt massage on any other massage chair in town. This function is good for people like me who sits long hours in the office during working time. It relieves your body aches from sitting for prolong hours. You can select the ‘Butt Cuddle’ program on the massage control panel if you only want a butt pampering session or just click on their full body version as it does includes this butt massage session. This butt massage function is thanks to the detailed research of the OSIM team where they found that many people belief that they will have discomfort only if they are doing daily jobs which requires physical moment and strength. However, in reality; many of these aches are due to sitting on a chair all day during working hours because it takes a toll on the muscles in the glutes, lumbar (your back bone) and lower back.

Menu for the whole family
Besides this Butt Cuddle program, there are other programs designed to suit the needs of your whole family. If you’re looking for a complete pampering moment, choose the Full Body Relief one. Or if you’re in for a short one for your back bone, just pick the Lumbar Pamper. You’ll be sure to find one which suits you – it sounds like you’re in a spa centre picking either full or half body massage right? Hehe.

Personal music therapy
Another interesting thing to note is that you will listen to a soothing music throughout your massage session. Best part, other users around you can’t actually hear what you’re listening to. Haha. I thought it was the music aired in the area  - didn’t thought that it’s personalized to the user of the massage chair. This audio system creates an intimate cocoon to allow you to enter into a deep state of mental relaxation.

Other features
Other additional features on this brand new OSIM uLove includes the airbag massage on the arms, a self heating function to deliver soothing warmth on the entire back, calves, ankles and feet. Pretty amazing right?

This OSIM uLove is available in a few colours to suit different preferences. You can choose from a Dreamy White colour which is easily matched to the colour scheme in your home, a Gorgeous Teal for a soothing appeal, Handsome Brown for an additional touch of warm and a Dashing Copper for a contemporary look! Check out how this OSIM uLove fits into your home below. 

And guess who's the brand new OSIM uLove ambassador? It's no other than the celebrity cum beauty queen Fan Bing Bing. That's the tagline, 白马王子 comes into picture. It means your price charming and this OSIM uLove is our beauty queen's prince charming! So, have you found your prince charming yet?

The OSIM ULove is priced at RM16,888 and is available at all OSIM outlets in Malaysia. And as part of its Introductory Promotion, you can purchase it at only RM15,388 and get a FREE uMask Eye Massager worth RM118 – 0% Installment Plan up to 36 months is also available!

This OSIM uLove is a superb companion in every home!

For more info on this brand new OSIM uLove, visit OSIM Malaysia's Facebook page today.