Kek Lok Si Penang Chinese New Year

Kek Lok Si Temple Penang, one of the "must go" place in Penang Island, where I have been to numerous times in recent years with friends and family. Now have you been to Kek Lok Si during Chinese New Year? This is when the temple transforms into a scenery of lights while thousands throng the area every night. I took the opportunity to visit Kek Lok Si during this Chinese New Year, and it was beautiful to say the least. 

Kek Lok Si Penang Chinese New Year
Kek Lok Si in an Ocean of Lights

Event: Display of Lights at Kek Lok Si Temple
Date: 19th January to 19th February 2012
Location: Kek Lok Si Temple, Air Itam, Penang
Phone: 04-8283317

"The Kek Lok Si Temple is a Buddhist temple situated in Air Itam in Penang and is one of the best known temples on the island. It is the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia."

"In 1930, the seven storey main pagoda of the temple or the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas, was completed. This pagoda combines a Chinese octagonal base with a middle tier of Thai design, and a Burmese crown; reflecting the temple's embrace of both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism."
Source: Wikipedia

Kek Lok Si Penang
It was a beautiful sight that night

Hopping on my father's motorbike, which I chose instead of my car to beat the horrendous traffic jam up Kek Lok Si, we reached the temple at around 9pm and the crowd was still going strong. Kek Lok Si Temple opens until late at night during this festival season to allow everyone to visit this beautiful Penang landmark. Now Kek Lok Si is a place of worship hence most who were here came bearing joss stick, prayers, and an open heart.  

"Approximately 230,000 light bulbs and 10,000 lanterns light up the temple every night in conjunction with Chinese New Year. "

Kek Lok Si Penang Chinese New Year
Various shots of the temple's surrounding

"In 2002, a 30.2m bronze statue of the Kuan Yin was completed and opened to public. It replaced the previous white plaster Kuan Yin statue which was damaged due to a fire a few years earlier. The bronze statue is located on the hillside above the pagoda while the head of the previous statue which survived the fire is preserved and placed on the right hand corner of the new statue."

"From 2005 to 2009 an ornate shelter for the Kuan Yin statue was constructed. 16 carved dragon pillars were built, carrying the top of three concentric octogonals roof. This most recent construction was inaugurated on 6 December 2009."

Kek Lok Si Penang Chinese New Year
The huge statue of Guan Yin with her even larger shelter
Kek Lok Si Penang Chinese New Year
One of the smaller statues beside Guan Yin

Now I found Kuan Yin's large bronze statue really cool because of the hugeness of the whole structure. We were like really small compared to the structure and all. Walking around the area, I was awestruck by the statue, and also the crowd. Check out some photos I took below.

Kek Lok Si Penang Chinese New Year
Amazing Structures which must have cost a lot.
Kek Lok Si Penang Chinese New Year
You could get some of these wishing ribbons to tie up at Kek Lok Si for wishes to come true!

Most people come here to pray to Kuan Yin and seek her blessings as she is after all the Goddess of Mercy. It was an experience indeed coming up to Kek Lok Si at night during Chinese New Year. Try not to drive here though, as the traffic jam is horrendous. While walking around the compound, we even found our birth animal statues, Janice with her Rat Statue, while I went over to hug my Rooster Statue.

Janice Soon
Janice, born in the year of the rat
Isaac Tan the great!
Isaac, with his rooster cock-a-doodling away
Kek Lok Si Penang Chinese New Year
Display of Lights at Kek Lok Si Temple

The lights symbolizing peace, luck and prosperity will be lit up at Kek Lok Si Penang throughout Chinese New Year up until 19th of February 2012. If you happen to be in Penang, or plan to visit Penang soon, don't forget to drop by Kek Lok Si Penang and enjoy the beautiful Display Of Lights.

Andes BYO Aman Suria

Today's the 7th day of Chinese New Year, when a bunch of us decided to gather for some pork burgers over at Andes BYO in Aman Suria. I've heard a lot of the pork burgers here, but did not really get a chance to drop by until today. My first impression of the place was pretty good, nice environment with good burgers, but the service was really lacking in various aspects.

Andes BYO Aman Suria Pork Burger
#1 Andes Pork Burger - RM13.90

Andes BYO
Address: (Same row as Cha Cha Pan Mee)
K-G-11, Jalan PJU1/43
Aman Suria, 
47301 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Mobile Phone: Andy – 0122200530
Other Phone: 03- 78083292

Business Hour:
Monday to Friday :12pm to 3pm & 5pm to 10pm
Saturday & Sunday : 6pm to 10pm

Andes BYO Aman Suria
The Interior

Located along the stretch of food eateries along Jalan PJU1/43 in Aman Suria PJ, Andes BYO wasn't that hard to find. Reaching the restaurant at 7.30pm, I was pleased to see familiar faces already seated at the table. There were a total of 11 of us that evening, all seated on this long table ready to dig into our dishes. Check out what we had below.

5 Sea Pasta Meal
#2 5 Sea Pasta - RM17.90
Pork Bolognaise
#3 Pork Blognaise - RM18.90
Potato Salad
#4 Potato Salad - RM11.90

Janice had the 5 Sea Pasta which consisted of seafood primarily, that tasted pretty good. The prawns weren't as fresh as I expected though. I was told the reason it's called 5 Sea Pasta was because there were actually 5 different seafood inside which includes mussels, oyster, prawns and fish. The Pork Bolognaise came looking rather messy, but messy can be very tasty in a good way.

Aussie Burger
#5 Aussie Burger - RM13.90
Pork Bacon Burger Wrap
#6 Pork Bacon Burger Wrap - RM16.90

Now the pork burgers at Andes BYO were the main attractions, which the majority of us ordered. Pictured above was their signature burgers, the Aussie Burger, and the Pork Bacon Burger Wrap which was basically their Pork Burger with 2 extra slices of bacon.

The Aussie Burger was a combination of pork and beef all rolled into one huge chunk of meat patty which came out really well. I really liked the taste of the burgers which were home made, unlike the run of the mill burger patties. With some serving of fries that comes in the set of Pork Bacon Burger Wrap, I was apprehensive at first on whether it will be filling enough but after going through my huge Pork Burger with the bacon, it filled up my stomach pretty well.

KL Bloggers Gathering
Happy faces waiting to dig into some good burgers

Overall, Andes BYO served some really nice tasting burgers. Now if only the staffs smiled a bit more, and put more spirit into their work, it would have been a really good evening. The service was pretty disappointing especially when we requested for some items, which never appeared nor come as expected. That aside, I was really glad to be able to dine with some really good friends this Chinese New Year. The burgers made the experience even better.

Savory Bistro Mont Kiara

Savory Bistro is this restaurant serving western fare ranging from homemade pancakes, pasta, specialty steaks, tapas, vegetarian-friendly fare and a selection of wines. Located over in Mont Kiara area, the bar-like restaurant was rather hidden, tucked away on the first floor of a condominium block at the end of Jalan Kiara 1. I had the opportunity to sample some of their dishes the other day along with friends, and it wasn't bad at all.

Savory Bistro Mont Kiara
Savory Bistro Mont Kiara
Savory Bistro
The Fare, 10 Mont Kiara, 
Jalan Kiara 1
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Telephone:  +60 3 6211 5100

Savory Bistro Mont Kiara
Dimly lit classy decor of Savory Bistro
Savory Bistro Mont Kiara
The Restaurant menu

Aptly named Savory Bistro, we were served with some rather savory dishes which did tingle our senses. Arriving just in time for dinner, my stomach was ready for all the good food. Even though the location for this restaurant was a bit secluded, I felt it was a hidden gem of sorts, something you find hidden away but really good. Do check out what we had that evening. 

Cream of Pumpkin Soup
#1 Cream of Pumpkin Soup - RM13
Spaghetti Marinara
#2 Spaghetti Marinara - RM 32

We kicked off the meal with some wholesome Cream of Pumpkin Soup, which at RM13 was enough to whet the appetite of at least 2 diners. It comes with scallops and goes really well with the garlic croutons. The next dish that arrived was a seafood dish, the Spaghetti Marinara consisting of prawns, seafood and chili. I'm more of a meat person, but Janice who had this dish did mention it was good, especially the sauce. I guess a good Marinara has to have a good sauce to douse the ingredients in. 

Savory's Cheese Burger
#3 Savory's Cheese Burger - RM28

Next up was a meaty dish, one which I appreciate especially when it comes in the form of a 200gm beef patty and cheddar cheese. Served with huge chunks of steak fries, I would say Savory's Cheese Burger can fill up at least 3 stomachs. It was huge, with juicy beef patty to satiate my carnivorous appetite. Of course, my favourite would be the next dish that arrived.

Fillet Mignon Steak
#4 Fillet Mignon Steak (Tenderloin) - RM50
Fillet Mignon Steak (Tenderloin)
Medium done

Personally, I think I have been having a tad too many steaks in recent weeks, but my stomach will never say no to some good tender rib eyes, or tenderloins cut. The meat for this Fillet Mignon Steak (Tenderloin) was medium done, with every bite I could feel the juices which was a pretty good feeling. Served with Savory Bistro's brown sauce, mashed potatos and assorted vegetables, I truly enjoyed this dish, which at RM50 was rather appropriately priced.

Overall the food at Savory Bistro was good, a hidden gem amidst all the other restaurants and cafes in the vicinity of Mont Kiara. With Publika - Solaris Dutamas a stone throws away, do drop by Savory Bistro should you happen to be around Mont Kiara.

Aria Restaurant Italian Dining Bukit Damansara

Just before the Chinese New Year holidays last week, I had the opportunity to dine in this really cosy Aria Restaurant offering Italian cuisine. Located in Bukit Damansara, Aria introduces itself as a neighbourhood restaurant offering a warm and intimate setting for delighting in good food with family and friends. 

Aria Restaurant Traditional Italian Dining
Aria Restaurant & Bar

Aria Restaurant & Bar
Traditional Italian Dining
44G&44M, Plaza Damansara, 
Jalan Medan Setia 2, Bukit Damansara, KL.
Opening hours: 12pm-12am Mon-Fri, 5pm till late on Saturdays.
Tel: 03-20950016

Aria Restaurant Traditional Italian Dining
Traditional Italian Dining

Arriving at Aria Restaurant around 7pm, we were greeted by the owner, who with a warm welcome brought us around the restaurant while introducing to us the signature dishes which they offered in their menu. I found the restaurant to be really homely, which was exactly what Aria Restaurant wanted to portray, a place for families and friends to unwind and relax. The interior did remind me of home, with the sofas and all. 

Aria Restaurant Traditional Italian Dining
The Interior

With a capacity of 40 seating downstairs and 30 seating upstairs, Aria does make a good hosting whether it's for a weekday dinner, Sunday brunch, gatherings with family and friends of small business meetings. Fully air conditioned, comfortable would be an understatement. 

Aria Restaurant do provide a special lunch menu which includes a salad bar buffet for RM12.90+ for the lunch crowd. We were there to sample their dinner menu though, so do check out what we had that night as below.

Lamb Kebab with Aria's Special Mint Sauce
#1 Lamb Kebab with Aria's Special Mint Sauce - RM28
 Antipasto De La Casa
#2 Antipasto De La Casa - RM68

The first dish that came out was the Lamb Kebab which was moist enough to fully savor the lamb meat to be taken with Aria's special Spicy Mint Sauce. The Antipasto De La Casa which arrived next though was a huge platter of starter dishes consisting of salmon, beef carpaccio, mushroom bruschetta, marinated portobello, fried calamari and a whole lot more. If it wasn't shared between the bunch of us, I would have been full just after having this dish. 
Aglio-olio Smoke Duck Pasta
#3 Aglio-olio Smoke Duck Pasta - RM36
Tonnarelli Di Aria
#4 Tonnarelli Di Aria - RM52
Black Spaghetti from Tonnarelli Di Aria
Black Spaghetti from Tonnarelli Di Aria
The Aglio-olio Smoke Duck Pasta was suitable for my palette, something which I found was good since the last few duck meat I've taken elsewhere weren't as good. Aria Restaurant managed to cook the duck meat in a way that the strong duck meat odor wasn't too overwhelming. 

I found the Tonnarelli Di Aria dish really unique, as not many restaurants provide black spaghetti which was really nicely done, infused with squid's ink. Together with the giant scallop meat, tiger prawns, mussels, and mushroom, this dish makes for a delightful seafood meal.

Grilled Grass-Fed Prime Ribs
#5 Grilled Grass-Fed Prime Ribs - RM80
Grilled Grass-Fed Prime Ribs
Nicely done
Merluzzo Canadese Atlantico
#6 Merluzzo Canadese Atlantico - RM 65

My favourite dish for the night would be this Prime Ribs. Seasoned with spices and salt, and served with a choice of garlic rosemary, black pepper or brown sauce, I just couldn't get enough of it. The meat portion was really large and juicy. It was pretty nice that Janice do not take beef, so I could have her share as well.

Another unique dish would be the Merluzzo Canadese Atlantico which was basically the canadian cod fish on a plate. As far as I know, the Cod Fish doesn't come cheap, and has to be prepared while its really fresh or risk the fish turning jelly like and stick together. The cod fish flakes from Aria Restaurant could be separated just by a flick of the fork, which was pretty cool.

Apple Strudel with Custard Sauce
#7 Apple Strudel with Custard Sauce - RM23
Chocolate Volcano
#8 Chocolate Volcano (Larva) - RM22

We ended the night with some sinfully sweet desserts in the form of the Apple Strudel and Chocolate Volcano. No matter which restaurant I'm in, I always look out for their "volcano" dessert as I am absolutely in love with this dessert. The one in Aria Restaurant wasn't bad at all, with the warm chocolate trickling out just right upon cutting the cake.

Overall, it was a good night out, we left the restaurant filled to the brim with good Italian based food. As quoted from the owner of Aria Restaurant "Growing up in a country renowned as a culinary paradise, Malaysians can discern good food from a young age. Food brings us together on various occasions, creating opporunities to build and strengthen bonds" which I agree whole heartedly. Do drop by Aria Restaurant should you be in the vicinity of Bukit Damansara and want some wholesome Italian food.

Chinese New Year Steamboat Reunion Dinner

Chinese New Year 2012 is upon us, this time it's the year of the dragon, and what better way to kick off the new year than with some fiery tomyam steamboat dinner. That was exactly what we had for our family's reunion dinner the night before Chinese New Year. Due to some turn of events, my family decided to have our reunion dinner with my in-laws this year and it was pretty good.

Chinese New Year Steamboat Reunion Dinner
Our simple Tomyam Steamboat

Now, the Tomyam Steamboat that we had that evening was really spicy, though I'm not sure exactly what paste was put in. According to Janice, the Tomyam paste was bought from Thailand. Towards the end of the dinner, most of us were already scrambling for some cold water to quench the fire. 

Chinese New Year Steamboat Reunion Dinner
Happy Family Group Shot

So there we were taking in so much seafood, meat and various mushrooms until I felt my stomach would explode. The thing about homemade steamboat dinner was that we could customize our own ingredients, and customize we did. I personally preferred meat, hence most of the meat ingredients ended up in my stomach. Check out what we had for our reunion dinner.

Chinese New Year Steamboat Reunion Dinner
We had lots of these..
Chinese New Year Steamboat Reunion Dinner
.. and these..
Chinese New Year Steamboat Reunion Dinner
Not forgetting these ..

The Tomyam Steamboat was good, and towards the end of the session, the soup had absorbed most of the flavor from the prawns, fish and meat and tasted even better than when we started. Reunion dinners are a time for fellowship, to sit together in one big table and just enjoy a good dinner. 

Chinese New Year Steamboat Reunion Dinner
Reunion Dinner With The Family

It was my first year having my reunion dinner with my in-laws, and after that night, I know it wouldn't be the last. Good times indeed, and with family, it makes everything doubly better! Gong Xi Fa Cai and Happy Chinese New Year to all!

Philea Resort & Spa Melaka

The recent Honda Insight Test Drive event gave me the opportunity to stay over at this really nice lodging, Philea Resort & Spa Melaka. The first impression of mine when first reaching the hotel was that it reminded me of those nature themed chalet styled resort on some island. Located just after passing the Malacca toll, Philea Resort was an excellent place to stay at, with wooden interior rooms, with an overall "back to nature feel" to the whole place.

Philea Resort & Spa Melaka
Philea Resort & Spa Melaka

Philea Resort & Spa Malacca
Lot 2940 – 1, Jalan Ayer Keroh, 
Off Jalan Plaza Tol 
75450 Melaka 
Phone: +6 06 2333399
Fax: +6 06 2332299

"The accommodation at Philea Resort and Spa captures the nostalgic elegance of an age where quality and care were a way of life. Bespoke furniture merges with the beauty of finest quality pine log and railway sleepers that pave the way to create an environment that is both beautiful and comfortable. Surround yourself and relax against a backdrop of rolling hills and lush green forest."

Philea Resort & Spa Melaka
Each building houses 4 rooms

With 180 Pavilion rooms, 19 Philea Suites, and 2 Royal Suites, the surrounding area of Philea Resort was filled with greenness and nicely done landscape. We were allocated 1 Pavilion typed room each which was more than large enough to accommodate one person. In fact, I felt the room size could fit a small family comfortably. Some of the buildings were located a distance down the road, but walking down the pathways were an experience in itself.

Philea Resort & Spa Melaka
Beautiful pathways amidst natural green trees

A few minutes were spent collecting our key cards, and off we went to our rooms. Now the keycards were rather unique, as every room in Philea Resort did not require a physical key, but utilizes keyless entries via these keycards.

Philea Resort & Spa Melaka
My keycard holders to my room in Philea Resort & Spa
Philea Resort & Spa Melaka
Room 3007

Philea Resort & Spa Melaka provided me with my own personal room, a rather large spaced lodging with 2 single beds, a bathtub, LCD TV, air-conditioned, and minibar. It would have been great if it was a queen sized bed instead of 2 single beds though. The room itself had was wood themed, with almost everything made out of wood, and dimly lit to provide a really romantic ambiance. Check out the photo of the interior of my room.

Philea Resort & Spa Melaka
My dimly lit and cozy room at Philea Resort

After a good night's rest over in Philea Resort & Spa Melaka, I took the opportunity to catch their buffet breakfast as well. The buffet spread was rather extensive, ranging from local fares such as Nasi Lemak and porridge, to western dishes and breakfast sets. It was a good start to the morning indeed. 

Philea Resort & Spa Melaka
My first plate of many
Philea Resort & Spa Melaka
A nicely done and rolled omelette

Overall it was a wonderful stay at Philea Resort & Spa Melaka, a resort I would recommend to anybody who wishes to have a really nice place to stay, living with nature. The price of each room starts from RM880 though, but I guess for a great holiday, it's worth it.