Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Point at Medan Damansara

A really good meal makes you really happy, said hubby after a great meal last night, and we were very happy on our walk home after dinner! You see, we tend to eat in a lot since it's not only healthier and cheaper, but sometimes tastier! which is really disappointing especially if it's a pricey meal. Last night's dinner however, far exceeded our expectation and though it had some imperfection, it was still probably the best meal we've had since Hokkaido! 

Having read good reviews about The Point, we've always wanted to go try but never got around to it, until last night. It was probably the Oysters promo that did the trick, well, sort of.

*Photos courtesy of hubby... and his phone :)
 Pretty good oysters for RM 5++ a piece.
The only other lot besides us on a Saturday night. They should probably consider moving to somewhere on a street level.
Foie Gras, Blackberry Reduction, Brioche, Pistachios (RM 48) - The foie gras was cooked and seasoned to perfection! The brioche unfortunately tasted more like white toast, the black berry reduction was nice but did the Foie need it? Nope. And the pistachios would be better off the plate entirely.
Slow roasted Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Fried Quinoa, French Bean, Curry Leaf Infused Butter Sauce (RM 40) - A roast chicken is normally just a roast chicken, and despite its elaborate description, the roast chicken was just that, nice but just a roast chicken. The breast could use some seasoning unlike the thigh piece which seemed to have soaked up all the flavor in this dish. The beans were a little too al dente for my liking, but the potatoes were crispy and beautiful! The quinoa... a bit pointless really, and while the sauce was good, we could not detect any hint of curry leaf to be honest.
Australian Miso Marinated Lamb Rack, Smoked Eggplant Puree, Capsicum Piperade, Okonomiyaki Pancake in Plum sauce (RM 55) - It was the most tender pieces of lamb we've ever had. The okonomiyaki with bonito shaving was DELICIOUS! Crispy on the outside, creamy inside, well seasoned, the smoked eggplant wonderful... in fact, every single component on the plate was perfect! Hands down The dish of the night for me!

Ok, time to go cook dinner for hubby.

 The Point - Non Halal

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Thaipusam at Batu Caves

A very simple introduction to Thaipusam: It is a Hindu festival celebrated mainly by the Tamil community during the fullmoon on the tenth month of the Hindu calendar. Pots of milk are offered to Lord Murugan, the god of war, to give thanks for his blessings. Some devotees also shave their heads, carry the Kavadi or pierce their bodies as a way to seek blessings from Lord Murugan.

After years of thinking about going but being put off last minute by stories about how busy it gets with more than a million visitors yearly, warnings about pick pockets etc. we were so glad that we've finally made it there this year!

The best way to get there is by KTM Komuter train. It takes about half an hour from KL Sentral station, stops right beside Batu Caves and costs an affordable RM 2:60 one way. Much better than braving the horrendous traffic and not even sure where to park if we were to drive there.

We had planned to go as early as the first available train, which we thought was at 6.54am, but we found out (not on their website  ) that the Komuter trains operates round the clock the entire weekend during festival. Anyway, we got the 6.25am train and enjoyed watching the sky slowly turn bright as we approach the caves.

The first thing that greeted us as we got of the train was the loud music! There were rows of stalls set up selling food, clothing and even an amusement park complete with bumper cars and scary rides! While we struggled to find the connection between that and the festival itself, the kids and the young at heart probably loved those extra bits after their prayers.

Thanks to tips from a friend, we did not go up the stairs to the temple in the cave since it was really busy and we didn't want to get into any accidents with the kavadis being carried up and down the 272 steps.

Instead, we made our way out to the river across the other side of the railway track to witness devotees getting ready to have their face/body pierced and to carry their Kavadi or pots of milk offerings up to the caves.

One of the many stalls set up for head shaving.

This guy's rope is attached to the hooks pierced on the other guy's back! Looks painful, but he's in a trance and doesn't feel the pain. One of the videos taken by hubby:
Really loud drums and very similar to the ones used in the cremation ceremony that we've seen in
Bali! The sights and sounds were so incredible, we felt as if we were in a National Geographic video.

We could be anywhere in India!

Preparing the Kavadi.
Prayers before carrying the milk offering up to the caves. 
 Spotted this.

If you're planning to go for next year's celebration:
1. Take the train, and if you have the time, go to KL Sentral on the day before to check out the train timetable.
2. Going early means getting the nice morning breeze, less crowd and getting to see the devotees preparing themselves for their march to the caves.
3. The procession of the silver chariot that carries the statue of Lord Muruga to Batu Caves starts off from Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Chinatown the evening of 2 days before if you'd like to see that.
4. Preparation for the kavadi carriers takes place by the river nearby, just cross the pedestrian bridge over the railway track and follow the crowd there.
5. We were told to not carry bags and valuables. While we did not carry much valuables except for our cameras, we felt that it was pretty safe (early in the morning anyway) but I did put my sling bag to the front and kept an eye on it at all times.
6. Take it all in with an open mind.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Santorini Day 5 - Oia / Fira / Firostefani

It was our last day in Santorini but it feels like there's still so much to do that we could have easily spent another week or so exploring the island. Our last day was spent pretty much just chilling and wandering places for one last time, until our next visit someday, of course.
Prewedding photography: We've seen quite a few of these during our stay. How they kept cool or not drenched in sweat while in their finest threads under the scorching sun, I would never know. My spaghetti straps are soaked within 10 minutes of walking around in that heat.

We read about this restaurant named Aktaion in Firostefani being the oldest restaurant in Santorini and were looking forward to try it, but it was closed the first time we went there. So we went back again on our last day hoping to catch its opening hours.

We were the 2nd last guests that afternoon, and were very glad we made it! We had The dish of the trip during that lunch - Octopus in Ouzo. We mopped up every single drop of that orange coloured sauce. It was SO good! The moussaka next to it was pretty awesome too!
After our late lunch, we manage to fit in one last gyros from Obelix before making our way back to Oia to join the crowd for a bit of sunset cheer on our last evening there.

Santorini is definitely all that we've heard about and probably more! Someone commented on Tripadvisor that it is a must see if this is your first time to Greece. We couldn't agree more!
See you again Santorini! 

Ate: Aktaion

Santorini Day 4 - Oia / Fira / Perissa Beach / Ancient Thera

Oia can get really busy but with an early start, before 9 am I'd say, you can have the whole place almost to yourselves. That's what we did, got up really early (by vacation standards anyway) and wander around before the busloads of tourists arrive.
Peaceful, empty streets in Oia. Lovely!

Hardly anyone at the sunset lookout point at this hour.
This old couple is celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and and their daughter has taken them to Santorini for a DIY wedding photoshoot.

We had to move out of oyr hoyse to the one upstairs for the last 2 nights. It was peak period and the other villa was pretty sweet, so it was alright. A worthy mention: Our Bulgarian porter, Vasillis, who helped us with our check in and out, and carrying our bags up and down millions of steps!
If you're interested in staying here, please note that the bedroom is a loft and you need to climb up a flight of stairs to get to it. Also, I don't think the bedroom has aircon.
The best thing about the villa was probably the balcony. We loved the hours spent out here having breakfast, evening drinks and nibbles or just enjoying the view.
Took a bus to Fira town after moving to our new villa. I highly recommend taking buses when in Santorini. They can get really packed but they are convenient, cheap and the bus conductors are pretty entertaining!

A colleague recommended Lucky's Souvlaki for gyros before coming here which is located on the main street in Fira - on the left in this photo. The gyros was pretty good, but we would soon discover that Obelix, somewhere inside Fira town was even better!
Lunch stop at Restaurant Nikolas, located in the heart of Fira.
Friendly staff and good food. Beers we've had so far: Mythos, Alfa, Fix Hellas... all good!
Strong, garlicky, delicious! This is how I like my Tzatziki now!
Looking for another excursion around the island after lunch.
Got the bus to Perissa beach. It is a black pebbled beach with nice cool water.
Located a walking distance from the beach is Ancient Thera archeological site that sits on top  Mesa Vouno mountain. We only made it to halfway since the path up was very windy and flip flops were not the best footwear to climb a mountain.

Back to Fira for sunset.

Dinner time at Obelix.
Really good gyros and pork on skewers! We're still dreaming of this now!

Ate: Restaurant Nikolas and Obelix in Fira
Stay: Pori House Oia Villas