Sunday, June 28, 2009

KL Marathon 2009 (& carbo lunch at Bar Italia)

I did it! I really did it! The past several weeks leading up to the event I was filled with self doubt. Two weeks before and I still hadn't done a full 10km. Then there was also the problem with registration. Hunky's colleagues who were suppose to drop out decided that they were running the race after all. How bloody inconsiderate. I had almost abandoned hope. On Thursday, I suddenly remembered Facebook! Within half an hour, a friend called up to say she was dropping out and I could take her place (Thanks Shireen! Get well soon!). On Friday, battling rain and KL traffic, I arrived at Dataran Merdeka to get my race pack only to find hundreds of people stuck in a queue that was not moving. The rain had caused some power failure which caused the organiser's system to fail blah, blah, blah... It took me close to 2 freaking hours to get my bloody bib. Some woman in the next queue even fainted. Dramanya. Well, I knew for sure that I would run the race faster than it took me to get my race pack!

Last night I slept fairly well and woke up to the sound of rain at 5am and Hunky trying to convince me not to run. "Its raining you know, I don't think we should go". My reply, "We're going". I think we repeated this conversation about 4 times before he gave up and got out of bed. We were very early but the place was already buzzing with activity. By 6:45am, all the kiasu people were lined up to go. FBB, AC, CS, Hunky and I were practically the last ones. The atmosphere was amazing and the sun was just barely out. I wish I had brought my camera with me to snap some pictures. Ignorance is truly bliss. I had no idea what I was in for. Hell, I didn't even know that the race had started because it took us a while to get past the starting line. When we crossed the start, it was already 7:05. It was amazing for me to see the mass of what looked like white ants slowly marching up the ramp towards Jalan Tun Sambanthan. Soon after, I had lost sight of AC, CS and FBB. I was not quite prepared for the steady upward incline of the run. Thank God I've been running on a incline at the gym. Still, this one felt like it was going on forever. At the halfway point, the soles of my feet were starting to hurt. Annoyingly, Hunky was barely breaking a sweat while I was puffing and panting in a very unladylike way! At this point, all conversation had ceased. All that could be heard was the steady thumping of weary feet on the tarmac and the incessant beeping of my heart rate monitor. I insist on wearing it because I tend to push myself too far. By the 7th km, everything was starting to hurt. My knees, my back, even my abs. Abs? What abs? Never knew I had them. The last 3km stretch was misleading. I thought we were home free on Jalan Raja Laut as I could see the runners just on the other side on Jalan TAR. Unfortunately, the earlier turn was for the 21km runners. I just remember thinking "Awwwwwmannnnnnnn!!!". We carried on until we hit Sultan Ismail before turning onto Jalan TAR. That was probably when I picked up the pace. Clocked in at 7:25am. 1 hour 20 minutes or so. My first (very mini) marathon!

We met up with Lyrical Lemongrass was still waiting for Bald Eagle to complete his 42km. (Well done Bald Eagle!). It was great to see Nigel and Allan of Just Heavenly waiting at the tent too and they were thoughtful enough to nourish us with water and bananas. Thank Heavenly because the queue for the drinks was impossibly long! No sign of Cumi and Ciki while I was there. Hope you guys had a great run!

I was feeling sore but energetic which I came to realise was just the adrenalin still pumping away. Once I got home and had a shower, I was suddenly very tired. I resisted the urge to nap even though Hunky had dozed off in front of the tv. Shortly after, we met up with Rafs and Dween at Bar Italia for some much need carb overload. After all, according to my HRM, I burned 890 calories today! I ordered the orecchiete pasta with cream, pepper and grilled ham. It was hearty, simple and exactly what I needed. Hunky ordered a ham and cheese panini which was rather small and expensive at RM32+. Are they nuts?! Service was also pretty erratic despite us being the only ones there. Rafs and Dween did not get their food until we were 80% done with ours. And we are not fast eaters let me tell you. Dween's aglio olio was so-so. Rafs wolfed down her spaghetti with courgettes and prawns in tomato sauce so I'm guessing it was good. The ice cream is homemade here and bloody fantastic. The large portion which is a hefty 2-3 scoops is RM26+. We tried the coffee and hazelnut. Both equally as moreish. I would not recommend coming here just yet as they have many issues to iron out still. There are some lovely things on offer at the menu but just be prepared to to fork out money and wait for food and service.

Bar Italia is located at 29 Jalan Berangan. Get more details from A Whiff Of Lemongrass

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Meng Kee

Don't mess with Aunty with the cleaver. Look how well seasoned that chopping board is.

Its been a long time since I've indulged in a bit of char siu. By that I mean about three months I reckon. Ever since I moved to my new place finding good Chinese food here is like looking for a straight man in a gay bar. So when my good friends Ding & Dong wanted to have char siu I was only too happy to oblige. Meng Kee is not my usual char siu place. I usually frequent Aunty at Jalan Angsoka/Bedara because she has a small but good selection of vegetables to go with the greasy, artery-clogging stuff. This place is heaving at lunch time so its really best to dodge the boss and head off for lunch before noon. And then there are the louts who "assist" with parking spaces. Hard to dodge those. At the end of the day its all worth it. The char siu is just as tender and moist as I remember, with just the right amount of caramelised bits around the edges. However you don't get much bang for your buck these days. Its RM8 for a portion of char siu rice and really, there is hardly any char siu. I'm going to make a guesstimation and say its about 100g worth. But then again, you can't really put a price on good char siu can you? If you haven't been to Meng Kee, you must've been living under a rock. Old post on char siu

Meng Kee - open for lunch, Mon to Sat. Jalan Tengkat Tong Shin, opposite Number Eight Guestohouse.

Marathon Update: I can't believe its almost here! 3 weeks away and I've only broken 5km. My knees are not making it any easier. Do or die, I want to complete 7km sometime this week. And thanks to Hunky, we didn't get to register in time! So now we'll be masquerading as his colleagues who have dropped out. Do I look like a Richard or a Fuad?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Take A Bow - Al Nafourah

Hotel restaurants are often overlooked when looking for places to eat. Unless of course it happens to be:
  1. A Japanese restaurant (extra woohoo for weekend buffets)
  2. Wedding banquet at Chinese restaurant
  3. Ramadan buffet (packed with 80% non-Muslims!)
  4. If you've purchased a priviledge card that comes packed with dining discounts
So it was No.4 that brought Lyrical Lemongrass and I for lunch at Al Nafourah (Le Meridien Hotel). Judging from how full the restaurant was, LL was just one of many who needed to take full advantage of the free dining voucher before it expired. Our free Al-Jabal set lunch consisted of a chicken pate-like starter with pita bread and a butter fish stew with heavily spiced cous cous. The combination of the cous cous and light broth was incredibly appetising. The only thing we were disappointed with was the dessert. It was a strange concoction of 10% apricot and citrus tasting jelly topped with 90% cream that had been infused with dessicated coconut. I looked around the restaurant and we were the only 2 who didn't like it. Every other table had emptied their glass. Huh, guess we're just spoiled by the Peanut Feuillantine Cake! Al Nafourah is a funny old place. Everyone I know has said how much they like it, especially the ambience in the evenings and the vivacious belly dancers is always a bonus. However, it is always forgotten compared to its sister restaurant Prime. It is probably for this reason that Al Nafourah will be closed sometime in early 2010. A spanking new restaurant will be taking its place. To prepare for the closure, the sumptuous semi-buffet and belly dancers are no longer. What a shame. Guess I am going to take Hunky there solely for its romantic setting and ala carte menu.

Al Nafourah is closed on Sunday and Monday. For more information and to download their menu, click here

Monday, June 01, 2009

Sushi Tei

I dream of blue skies and wide open space. Tree lined streets which have proper pavements. I dream of beautiful designs where form meet function. I dream of street lamps which do not sprout plastic mouldings of hibiscus on top. Driving around KL last week, I am continually rocked by bad design, bad planning and over developed suburbs. The once exclusive Damansara seems to have stretched virtually into Sungai Buloh while Mont Kiara spills over to Kepong like Nigella's overflowing bosom. Its not like we have a shortage of space, so why are we building upwards and cramped so tight that we have no space to fart without your neighbour in the next development hearing you. 

I don't hang out much in the 'burbs but the great thing about it is that there are always hidden gems in the form of family owned restaurants, second hand shops, etc... Recently I found myself in Tropicana City Mall with Rafs looking to try this dreamy croquette that she and Cuz had been raving about. We had to do a couple of u-turns and detours as the access is so badly planned. It was about 7pm when we arrived at Sushi Tei. It was a pleasant looking Japanese restaurant with a sushi conveyor belt. The manager came round and offered us a complimentary glass of wine each. Cuz who arrived late did not get a glass so we very graciously gave her our share. Secretly we were plying her with drinks so that she did not notice we already started eating without her! 

I was please to see that they had hiyashi chuka on the menu but unfortunately it was nowhere as nice as Dontakus. The faux ham was disgusting. Kinda like chewing on salty cardboard.  The portion of agedashi tofu was pretty standard, I am yet to taste bad agedashi. Sashimi was fresh and tasted so sweet that I was convinced they had washed it with sugar. I'm sure they didn't, it just tasted that way thats all. By the time Cuz arrived, we had already polished off the tofu, sashimi, some sort of fritter that looked and tasted a lot like cucur udang and soft shell crab maki. Then it was down to the good stuff. The pièce de résistance - creamy corn croquette. I am told that one portion used to have two pieces. Now its the same price but only a single piece. Well, got to make money somehow. I am super fussy about eating "deep fried" food. A tiny whiff of stale oil is enough to put me off eating it. I am pleased to say, the croquette here passed the test. It was super crispy outside and ooey and gooey on the inside. Definitely moreish! Cuz also ordered some unagi wrapped in egg. Nice, tad sweet but pleasant enough. She also ordered some beef teriyaki and beef roulade stuffed with enoki mushrooms. The beef teriyaki was tender but am surprised that they did not fry the thick slices of garlic. I am told that the beef roulade was tender and delicious but I did not try any because at this stage my pants were cutting off my blood circulation. I blame the expanding croquette. Dinner came up to just under RM50 each. 

For more information and location of Sushi Tei restaurants, click here