Sunday, July 29, 2012

Feasting at BCCK Ramadan Buffet ...

So many things to eat, so little time...

And when you're being invited to a free dinner with an all-you-can-eat menu, always remember not to starve yourself the whole day because you tend to get full prematurely, and you tend to overeat, and then regret them later. Best to go for the main course first because if you follow the exact serving protocol, you'll get yourself stuffed with appetizers way before the first course is even served.  (We're Asians... our portions of each course aren't exactly small ...)

Anyway.

I had the priviledge of being invited as part of Sarawak Bloggers, to a food tasting by Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) last week, to their Ramadan Buffet. Shall I give you a fair warning to start off? Firstly, I don't fast so my food tasting experience should fairly differ from those who actually do. Secondly, I'm not much of a food reviewer ha ha ha but then again, since taste is solely subjective, who cares anyway. And lastly, I might get very wordy so if you get bored, just look at the pictures. :p

Lamb! Whole roast lamb! Yep... always go straight for the main course. No point wasting time. Can't miss it. There it was in the exact spot just as I remembered last year, the freshly roasted whole lamb. Not even embarassed about asking for more cuts and carved lamb meat from the carver who stood ready by its side. Actually, if I had it my way, I would prefer him to keep cutting away, put slabs and slabs of them on a big plate by the side so I could just help myself to it instead of waiting with outstretched hand holding an empty plate while the queue keeps getting longer behind me. It was amazingly slighly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Too bad they didn't have black pepper sauce then, it would've been surreal. Sigh...

With mint sauce. That time they didnt have black pepper sauce...

Ever tried ayam pansuh (chicken cooked in bamboo)? Mike Cheng from BCCK swore that it was cooked using bamboo, I guess I had to take his words for it. It was just nicely done, although if they had used ayam kampung, it would've been much much better. And with the country-bred chicken (ayam kampung), they should use more tepus, more tapioca leaves, and more lengkuas (galangal)... THEN it would've been just as nice as how my mother used to cook it back when she still visited the kitchen.

 Ayam pansuh...

There was a delightful surprise waiting at the appetizer table... Fried Tempoyak or fermented durian! I know many maybe are not fans of durian, but a fermented durian is another thing altogether. It's not even as smelly as durian. And to even say it's smelly, well, it's an acquired smell, need I say anything more? I'm a huge fan of this stuff, and to me, it's THE appetizer, so... tada! Normally when I fry this stuff, I'd want to make it sweet instead of sour. Even thinking about it now makes my mouth water...

 Fried tempoyak... with just enough chillie...

Also tried the poached prawn on egg. It was a bit plain for me though, but that's the idea, isn't it? It does look really eye-catching by the appetizers table looking all reddish and glistening. Dip them in mustard sauce or thousand island and voila...

 Poached prawn on ice...

There were also mussels with cheese and some other stuffs they put on top. It was reportedly the quickest dish to finish and one that keeps getting replenished. It's not oysters people, it will probably give you only one-third of the desired effect. Ha ha. I tried just one and Ok no comment... just that I never tried it being prepared like that.

Mussels...

I actually went round and round looking for the satay and was almost disappointed I didn't see it, until I braved myself asking an elderly gentleman holding a generous amount of satay sticks on his plate where he got those. He looked at his plate, laughed and pointed to a corner by the side corner. Oh God be praised! But hey, they should be sitting next to the grilled lamb so people like me could easily find them. But haiya... after taking a bite with some difficulties, I had to declare that I was disappointed. It was kind of hard to chew, not tender enough, and I actually struggled to bite them off the sticks. Too much excitement and anticipation of meeting the satay? Haha... probably. I hope by now they have done some major improvement to the satay like they said they would. Maybe my next round will be so much better...

Beef satay ...

This tiny little folded heaven is called shawarma and I'm newly acquainted with it. One word: Delicious. Healthy stuff too.

 
 Shawarma...

Fermented kedondong anyone? They're very addictive... take a bite and you will want another and another and another... You can eat them just like that, or with rice. And if you're the adventurous type, can also dip them in sambal belacan and take with freshly steamed rice out of the pot. Oh Lord... salivating now.

 
 Fermented 'kedondong' or ambra as they're called in some region...

And for the desserts... kids would normally head for the choc fondue, dip-twist-and-turn all kinds of stuff in that choc sauce... but I thought it was a little juvenile for me. Not much of a fan of chocolate and dipping my sliced fruits in them? oh No No... But don't let me stop you! To each his own. I did try the other desserts though and those little individual servings of cocktail dishes. (By now, I would be kind of guilty of mixing and matching the appetizers with the desserts... ha ha ha...)

desserts, choc fondue... assorted pastries...

And there's ABC! There was this friendly server girl behind the ABC counter who responded with an honest reply of ''You're welcome" to every Thank Yous she received just for preparing guests with the creamy iced dessert. Wow... such professionalism and sincerety. I know... I was sixth in the long queue and her smile never wavered the whole time.


Air Batu Cendol...

And finally... what's a night without coffee huh? They served a real mean strong cappucino here, just the way I like it. The barista made sure all brew was perfectly done and if it didn't come out quite as perfect, he would start with a fresh one. Weh... I saw him redoing a cuppa for the couple before me... and I was totally impressed! I even had the right amount of bubble!

A cup of hot cappucino... Let's call it a night?

The feasting experience at BCCK was one heck of a food adventure by itself. All that food... you'll be spoilt for choice! For RM72 nett per person for an adult and if you're bringing kids between 5 to 12 years old, you'll only be paying RM28 nett for each of them -- I'd say it's totally worth it. 

I must come back the second time to try out what else I didn't manage to err... eat. What are you waiting for? It's only until 14th of August, so make your reservations now! Jangan menyesal tak try wei... Ramadan hanya sekali setahun. ;p

To make reservations, call 082-392889.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises ...

One word: INTENSE.
Two more words: MUST WATCH.


Always did like Christian Bale. And I'm a little biased when I say that He is THE Batman of the century. Try comparing him in that caped suit with the previous Batmans... and see who wears it better, both in stature and size, facial expression, and not forgetting the muscles. The rest of him and the whole storyline just fit like a glove.

The 3rd installment of the Dark Knight this time is hell-bent on being awesome compared to the previous two, but then again, it's expected because this is where the buildup is, the drawn conclusion of the first two in the trilogy. I swear I didn't even feel the 2 hours and 44 minutes runtime. Yes it was that long, and although I didnt watch it in 2D nor 3D, it didn't matter because the storyline and the twist was so brilliant. The part where the terrorist Bane began the revolution seemed so real I kept thinking what if the End of the World began in the same way, with ruthless lawlessness and unthinkable violence, would we even survive it? Where would we run for sanctuary? Who would protect us? That kind of mental images are hard to shake... Oo Tom Hardy makes a really mean terrorist... if you ignore the beautiful beguiling eyes behind the mask that is.

Google the storyline yourself, if you don't already know. But if you want to be able to follow the plot and some of the past characters that emerged, you better first watch Batman Begins and The Dark Knight to know how this became that and why he became thus or why they became that way.

I know that this is the epic so-called closure, but how it ended just gave some hope that there will be a spin-off or a 4th movie because there's the discovery of Robin. Which reminds me, hey, when did Joseph Gordon-Levitt got all deep-voiced and sexy? Last I saw him in 500th Day of Summer he was stuck between adolescent and adulthood! (sorry JGL fans...) Ohhhh there should be a Batman and Robin. And I hope Bale will still be the caped crusader. The two of them looked good teamed up together.

Officer Blake: Need a ride, Mr Wayne?

Playing NOW people! Catch it in the cinema closest to you! And no, I dont get get paid for this review... Hahaha. This is not even a review. 


P/s: Suddenly datang rajin update blog. Must be a lucky month this July... why aa?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fasting Month is here again ...

Sometimes too much thoughts of food scares me... why do I begin to eat a lot lately? My appetite is really crazy, and yet I don't eat all that much. I just think about food a lot. Like, right now. Sometimes when I feel it's too much, I just skip dinner, and compensate it the morning after with a bit of heavy breakfast. And lately I've been skipping lunch and go full blast on dinner. Some diet plan huh. It's probably work related. But let's not dwell on that...

Do you know it's almost Fasting Month? Starting this Saturday, in fact, even as you're reading this. I'm not telling you, I'm actually telling myself that because I've lost all track of time since coming back from Sabah and my work schedule has been really crazy with lots of catching and following up to do ...

Which is why, like most food lovers with low metabolism rate, I actually look forward to the Fasting Month because believe it or not, it's the best time to exercise healthy eating. What? Are you laughing at my feeble attemptat dieting? 

Go ahead, laugh. But I promise you, I'll have the last laugh because you know what? I've been given the honour to attend a Food Tasting at BCCK, which offers one of the best -- and by my standard, I can count how many 'best' on one hand alone yo -- Ramadan Buffet in town. Tada!


A whole group of us from the office were there last year, courtesy of one of our licensee company, who saw fit to treat us to a feast after sealing a good deal. And I can tell you now, it was one heck of a feasting experience! All those rows of food ... the perfectly grilled lamb, the moist steamed chicken, the laksa Sarawak, the pastries, the salad, the choc fondue, and especially the SATAY!! Wait, there's more! Those little individual servings of cocktail dishes, and the ice cream! Sigh ...

What impressed me most was the systematic way BCCK deployed in getting guests properly registered and ushered. I mean, with all those hungry crowd flocking the entrance close to breaking-of-fast time, you've gotta be mentally and professionally prepared for all kinds of drama. You must remember, a good customer service goes a looooong way, which is why, a good first impression always count. Which is also why I can't wait to go indulge myself at their Ramadan Buffet this Saturday! (I heard tell they have extra menu this year... what, I'll have to find out myself soon).

So if you're looking for a Sungkei venue with your family, your colleague, your loved ones, your whoever lah... why not try out BCCK Ramadan Buffet? Affordable and yet more value for money, I say. You've got to taste it for yourself to believe it.

Don't forget to make your reservations! Here's wishing all my Muslim friends:

HAPPY FASTING!!






Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Funny how ...

... close our paths keep winding up but they never crossed
... varying opportunities to bump but it never occurred
... many excuses were given out that were all just coverups
... the possibilities were constantly shrugged off
... other people could get to the conclusion point faster
... often circumstances make way for self-ruin but it didn't
... skeptics like me were constantly proven wrong 
... so close and yet so far it has been
... a little timing can give a huge difference
... all this while I thought my life was falling apart ...

Until that one little message many midnights ago, that sparked everything to life. Since then the silver lining that peeked in the sky gradually shows itself in steady brightness. I feel a cliche coming, but it's the one bright spot I look forward to day after day.

Sometimes things may look like they are falling apart, but they may actually be falling into place. Who would've thought it?

Source: www.spiritualinspiration.tumblr.com

Somewhere in my soul, I felt this wondrous divine whisper, "Do you doubt me now, my child?"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Kinabalu Summit Adventure ...

Ok ok I'm back! Here to finish what I started... although it's been almost two weeks due. My apology, I have been remiss yet again.

Anyway...

If I had to start from the beginning, this adventure recount will never finish because there is so much to tell. Let's just begin by saying I've always wanted to conquer Kinabalu Summit and I have been saying that for ages... but between the financial meltdown, the emotional semi-breakdown, and the disappointment of having the plans continuously ruined years back, it kind of felt like one wish-list slowly going down the drain and me losing the heart to ever do it. Until my boss -- bless his heart -- invited and might I say also add pre-arranged for him and me to be included in an expedition organised by our Sabahan counterparts. He has been noting that few FB status I keep putting up about wanting to climb the mountain but having no one to do it with, and so here I go thanking him virtually for not giving me any chance or time to back out of the deal. Knowing me, thinking too much about it will result in me not going ever. And knowing my boss, giving it out as an order will ensure that I agree and therefore go. Besides, it was CHEAP!

 The whole 20-strong team... can spot me?

Too wordy for an introduction? Brace yourself.

That was one heck of an adventure! Considering that I didn't do any proper training (like climbing, hiking the smaller bukit etc) beforehand, and me not exactly in tip-top condition with the extra curves recently gained, I would have to say I did very well for myself. Very well indeed. My training consisted of a whole 2 months of evening after-work jogs (only when it didn't rain), weekend jogathon with the nieces, and constant stairs climbing routine. And breathing exercise, kinda like that pre-labour breathing method.

Impressively reliable brand... last minute Adidas

My other time were spent getting the gears ready... and boy they were all new! Hiking shoes, hiking bag, headlamp, gloves, windbreaker, and band aids. The only items I recycled from the previous botched up climbing plan 4 years ago was a snow cap, a pair of cargo pants, and a pair of sports bra. They finally saw some action. On top of that, I borrowed from my ardent emotional supporter -- a sports water bottle which came out very handy during the trip, and a digital camera. Thanks baby.

See? We're good to go! The rest were all emotional readiness and some mighty prayers to help me through the whole trip.

My guide weighing my bag... all 6kg of it...RM8 per kg one way

It was an 8.7km distance climb all the way up, with a height of 4095.2 metre above sea level, and a temperature of 0 degree and below. It was breezy all the way, sunny at some points, but the weather was perfect, clear skies all around, and not a spot of rain. Halleluyah! The mountain used to be higher, but recent survey by the responsible agencies noted that the mountain is lower and slowly depleting. Check your recent Climbing Certificates the last 3-4 years to see what the height was then.

Here, chronicling every kilometer I stepped foot on:

The boss insisted I modelled at every km i conquered...
and ...

7km onwards was scaled at pre-dawn...

The first 6km up to Laban Rata was a breeze. I was the first four from my group to arrive at Laban Rata, where we would be staying the night before the dawn climb. Wait... Let me rephrase that. It wasn't really a breeze walk per se... there was some instance where I kept stopping to catch my breath and sometimes used every opportunity to look for an excuse to stop. Oh did I mention we hired a porter to carry our stuffs? That probably explained the 'breeze walk'.

Chilling out with the two regional bosses at Laban Rata ...

And part of the reason was because there were mobile phone coverage all the way up! Haha... talk about constant communication with the one who holds your affection, that's enough distraction to actually forget your cramp muscles and out-of-breathness!

Sigh... what would we do without technology? Can you spot me?

I shall not brag too soon because by the second part, all 2.7km more to the Summit, I almost cried. The early morning climb at 2.30am was something I was told over and over again to get mentally ready for, but I didn't take it seriously until I found out why. First of all, I couldn't get any sleep prior to that, what's with the cold and the tired muscles that just screamed for attention. It was so cold up there where we stayed (Gunting Laganan, I think it was called) that all I could do was wash my face and gurgle instead of brushing my teeth. Nobody even showered I bet.

My guide, Joe, accompanying me while I took a breather coming down...

Secondly, I slept on the top bunk of the hostel that I shared with my boss and the other boss (yes, it's sharing basis, so if you're particular about sharing rooms with males, don't bother. People do it all the time up here.) I dont sleep on the top bunk all that well... I kept getting a feeling that I'm so high I might fall down. Plus, my roommate below me kept twisting and fidgeting, and the tremor... oh well.

And thirdly, a normal body is conditioned to be resting and sleeping at 2.30am, not scaling the summit! So imagine exercising that early, your body would be revolting and your mind would be screaming mutiny! Of course you're bound to suffer some sort of crazy emotional crap meltdown telling you that you can't do it. I half cried and almost gave up. We were walking in pitch darkness in tandem, with only our individual headlamps as guide. Steep all the way. I had running nose although I didn't have flu. My fingers were numb from the cold, so were my nose and tongue.

It was a miracle of prayers that I managed to reach the Summit by sunrise and by 7am sharp, I touched the Peak of Mount Kinabalu. Wohoooo!

Watching the awesome sunrise unfolding before my eyes ...

And you know what the biggest challenge was? GOING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN... I said I almost cried and survived climbing up. Well, this is the part where I should say I almost weep and broke my knees climbing down! It was the worth sort of little hell... because although it was fast and it wasn't tiring at all, but it was taking a horrible toll on the feet, the leg muscles, the knees, the joints, and especially the toes. Every time I saw stairs I cringed. The gaps between the steps were big and high -- funny I didn't notice them when I was climbing up -- sometimes I braced myself jumping down. And each time I saw flat land ahead, I whooped with uncontainable joy. It was really painful to watch. Hahaha.

 "Oh God, THAT's what I've been climbing this early morning??"

There were some ahmois behind me who kept saying "I hate stairs, I hate stairs. If I see another stairs, I will scream!" Me on the other hand, kept thinking, "Oh God I'm developing my Beyonce legs!" Thank God for my porter and my guide (that we hired individually) were always beside me to cheer me on. Cute some more those two, small-sized and strong, and kept me distracted with small talks and conversation on telecommunication towers and community broadband centres and such. Apparently that little climb was nothing to them.

And after reaching ground level, I was awarded a Colored Certificate! (Which I cant show you here) as proof of my endeavor.

An hour later and for the next few days, I suffered facial skin breakout, nose skin exfoliating, sunburns, a pair of crampy legs, and walking around Kota Kinabalu town like an 80-year-old woman on crutches. I bet she -- whoever she is -- could walk faster than me up and down the stairs.

And so... Summing it up! There you have it... One Wish List checked off!

One for the album! Boss and I braved the cold weather to show off our office jersey...
 .
NEXT WISH LISH COMING UP!
 
P/s: picture of Blackberry and Sony Digicam quality only. And in random order.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

To Mount Kinabalu and back!

Pssst... On my way back to Kuching and blogging from Kinabalu airport, after being purposely deprived of Internet for days.

This is just a very short note to duly inform that on the 27th of June, 2012, at 7am, 5 minutes to sunrise, yours truly has reached the summit of Mount Kinabalu in one piece! Wohoooo!! Don't believe me? Well mister, I've got proof! I said I will DO IT... and I DID!

 Tada! Peace from -4 degree celcius!

And 4 days later, I still walk like an 80-year old woman with cracked facial skin, but it was ALL worth it baby!

I promise I will blog about it later when I get home to faster Internet and the comfort of home and extra tender loving care. In the meantime, if you're ever here in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah next time, don't forget to try their Mihun Tom Yam! It's allegedly the best in Borneo, although I would say that it's distinctively Sabahan's.

Mihun Tom Yam KK style... RM8 perbowl at Seng Hin Coffee Shop

Summit below temperature Adventure, cute porter, handsome guide, steep survival tips, tenom coffee, post climbing blues, i-hate-stairs, blissful seafood... DON'T GO AWAY!

WOHOO!