Wednesday, January 04, 2006

An Overcrowded 1-Utama Shopping Centre

Monday was a public holiday in replacement of the 1st of January falling on Sunday. Mum and I decided to take a trip to our less venture part of the town – Bandar Utama. What’s in there? A multiple shopping mall with overcrowded shoppers, that’s what’s there. Thinking back, I wondered why we had chosen 1 Utama and to join the throng at the first place. From our house to Bandar Utama, I’ll need to take Middle Ring Road II passing Batu Caves on the way, after the toll near Ikea, we arrived Bandar Utama around 1pm, cars were seen lining up to get into this multi-complex, after queuing up for a while, I was lucky to be the last car allowed in to the parking lot when the parking attendance put up a sign indicating the parking space was full. From old-wing to new-wing, I’ve been circling the car park for more than an hour with others, can you believe it? ONE hour hunting for a space for my car and fending off bullies who were trying to ‘steal’ a space. Not to mention everywhere was chock-a-block with cars resulting impatient drivers honking and losing their temper. It was worst than going to Mid Valley. Instead of circling around getting myself dizzy and stuck in the line with other cars, I waited at one spot hoping for earlier shoppers to make their departure. There was still no sign of human being half an hour later. Frustrated, I drove around again, but a shopper was walking towards where I had parked for the last half and hour she was going to leave!!! And a car was tailing her!!!! Gosh… if only I’ve waited a little longer. Believe me, when I finally located a space, it was almost 3pm!!! My brother and his wife joined us later and they managed to find an outdoor parking space without a sweat, and it was only RM1!!!! For indoor parking, the first 6 hours cost RM1, and subsequently RM2 for every hour. Look how much time I’ve wasted.

Ok, enough of the nerve-wrecking car park incident. In this post, I’ve decided to write about everything that I’ve eaten and food that I’ve bought from 1 Utama on Monday. In each places that I’ve been to, I’d listed the stall numbers in case anyone is interested to give them a go.

The mall, new- or old-wing, were literally teeming with shoppers. Everyone was seen brushing shoulders while walking (perhaps squeezing) around and places to eat were almost full of diners. It’s incredible, I really wonder why so many people would choose to come here, besides things being rather expensive here than other malls, you can easily get lost in this gigantic mall. I often questioned myself if I’ve walked past here earlier or had I been wandering here repeatedly for the last couple of hours.

After hours of being stuck in the car, my mum and I were pretty dehydrated. We saw Juice Works and decided to try it out. The menu on the board offers all sort of smoothies and juices, although choices are incomparable to Juice It Up or Jamba Juice, I think Juice Works is doing pretty good since there aren’t many juice bars like this in the Klang Valley.

Staffs at Juice Works busy taking orders and making up the juices/smoothies

There was already a long line forming at the counter and it took us a while to get our orders.

On the left: Berry Licious Smoothie. On the right: Immune Kick

After perusing for a while, I ordered a large Berry Licious (RM6.95 for regular, RM7.95 for large) for myself, which has strawberry, blueberries, apple juice, and non-fat yoghurt, and an Immune Kick (RM6.95 for regular, RM7.95 for large) for mum, which is fresh squeezed juice of apple, orange and carrot.

The verdict for Berry Licious? It still has a long way to go taste-wise and size-wise compare to Juice It Up or Jamba Juice. My personal preference in Juice It Up was anything to do with berries, I’ve tried a couple of their smoothies and they tasted sweet and delicious. For the best smoothie I’ve tasted, I’ve got to give it to Freshen (in the cafeteria in UCR, Riverside). Their berry smoothie is so, so addictive. Berry Licious in Juice Works wasn’t what I’d expected, it was very sour. The sourness wasn’t from berries, I don’t think… perhaps it was from the lime? Wherever the lime comes from I don’t know. For a price of RM7.95, I expected a bigger serving too, but I guess that’s ‘Asian size’, so much smaller compared to those in America.

Mum’s Immune Kick wasn’t anything special too. She said she could have made her own fruit juice for less than RM5!

Juice Works Sdn Bhd
FK3b, 1st Floor, High Street

After walking around for a while, I started to get thirsty again. I spotted this banner outside the Arena Foodcourt selling Chinese herb drinks.

Since I’m a ‘herb’ person, I was attracted to the advertisement slogan: Ginseng Red Dates 100% Natural Herbal Tea. I made my way there and saw there were couples of selection in the cooler fridge.

Herbs drink such as Lin Chi Kang, white fungus soup with red dates, ginseng with red dates, Ginseng Cyrysanthemum, Ha Gu Sugarcane, and Luo Han Guo were seen. I chose white fungus soup with red dates (RM2.50), since I felt a little chilled from drinking the smoothie earlier, I asked for a warm one. The lady selling the drinks must have warm it up with an oven from somewhere, because she ran to somewhere, probably to the kitchen (God knows where) and came running back 15 minutes later. It wasn’t as delicious as those from Chinese hawker stalls, mum even suspected it wasn’t genuine Chinese herb drink, must have used the lowest grade of ingredients to make it or have been on the shelf for some time. The white fungus wasn’t crunchy, it was pretty soft, which indicated that it has been soaking in sugar water for a long time.

Arena Foodcourt
LG 230, Lower Ground, Promenade Tel: 03-77266266

I didn’t finish the drink, and while walking past Jusco supermarket, we came across Koong Woh Tong. Mum had wanted a cup of their herbal jelly since we arrive in 1-Utama, not knowing the mall well, I said there probably wouldn’t be any. But here it is, right in the middle of KFC and Delifrance. This tiny shop sells genuine herbal drinks and its famous herbal jelly, ‘gwai lin gou’. We both ordered a small herbal jelly (RM6 each) and chose a seat.

Since the place is pretty small and hasn’t got many seating, we shared with other diners. Koong Woh Tong has been around for ages and in the early days, the only outlet in Kuala Lumpur is at the corner of Petaling Street (Chinatown) facing the main street. Its popularity began to grow over the years and it can be seen in many shopping malls, even the younger generation indulge in this delicacy which was believed to relief body heat.

The herbal jelly is served in a ceramic bowl (I think that’s a bowl) with Chinese wordings. It also comes with a little pot of sugar syrup which you can add with the bitter jelly according to your taste. I like my herbal jelly plain (and bitter) so I ignored the sugar syrup. The herbal jelly wasn’t as bitter as I remembered, I’ve tried one in Mid Valley and boy, I thought I was going to faint from the bitterness. But this was okay, smooth and wasn’t too hard to swallow without the sugar.

Koong Woh Tong
G 51, Ground Floor, Centre Court
Tel: 03-77280899

While waiting for my brother and his wife to join us, my mum and I went into Jusco supermarket. We mostly do our groceries in Giant in Taman Permata or Carrefour in Wangsa Maju. So we thought we should have a look at what’s offered here in Jusco Supermarket.

Seen here with the mango (right) US BOSC pear. Isn't the mango in rainbow-colour pretty?

First thing caught my mum’s eye was the colourful mango on its entrance. These beautiful mangos were from Australia costing RM9.90 for one. Rather expensive, but compared to local mangoes, these are a lot bigger and colourful! We haven’t tasted the fruit yet, but when I was in Sydney few years ago, they were selling Australian mangoes similar to these and they were super sweet and lots of flesh. However, we were baffled on how to choose a nice mango. The different hues on every mango were the same, they were all nice and smooth on the surface and firm. So we just picked one randomly and hopefully it will taste good.

Around the fruits department, I spotted a basket of US BOSC pear. Now, when I was in New Zealand, I used to eat this pear every other day. They tastes so good and much sweeter and softer compare to normal pear. There wasn’t a lot of BOSC pear in supermarkets here in Kuala Lumpur, so I grabbed two (RM3.58) in no time! Though the surface of these two pears have darker hues, but I’m sure I can slice the dark spot off. Oh, I like to eat my fruits with it skin peeled, so I’m sure that a little dark spots on the skin won’t be too much a problem.

Mum is a tidbits person, she likes corners selling various type of tidbits and snacks. After trying out some snacks on the casing (which has notes indicating no testing!), she decided to have some fried seaweed (I think!). Mum scooped some into the plastic bag and held it to the weighing machine, it cost RM3.24, not too bad. She said the fried seaweed is crunchy and not too oily, it still has the seaweed taste on it.

Seaweed cracker

The seaweed were still clearly seen from these crackers after having them fried

Jaya Jusco Supermarket
G, Ground Floor, Centre Court

After a while, my brother and his wife came and we went into Jusco utensil department for a browse. I’ve wanted to get a small non-stick pan to cook pancake of my own. Remember how I was a little crazy over waffle and pancake and when Waffle World in Sri Petaling folded I was devastated? I found out that somewhere in this mall, there’s a Waffle World serving all those delicious pancake and waffle amongst other food!!! But I haven’t got a chance to dine in Waffle World yesterday, since I wasn’t alone, I have to accommodate others’ needs as well. I’ll definitely return to 1-Utama (no more weekends or public holidays) for their Waffle World. Anyway, my mum and I are novelist to kitchen utensils (she only has one stainless-steel wok!), my sister-in-law recommended TAM Chef.

We looked around a little and spotted this mini frying pan! It’s BOBO’s 12cm mini frypan (RM13.90), one of Teflon Classic ranges. Isn’t it adorable? Haven’t seen any pan so small before… mum thought it’s for kids to play ‘masak-masak’! Well it’s inexpensive, and since it’s going to be my first time making pancake, I can use this little pan to try it out first. I’d wept if I’ve bought an expensive pan and ruined it. Sister-in-law asked how I’m going to flip over the pancake with tiny pan like this, I thought perhaps using chopsticks would do. With the help of this.

A spatula from Freswood (RM3.90). My Sister-in-law has cautioned that if I were to use a non-stick pan, I’ll have to choose a wood spatula instead of the metal ones. It says on the wrapper that wood may be preferred in that small lapses in sanitary practices are not as dangerous on wood as on plastic. It also says it’s anti bacteria, user friendly, made of solid wood, hygienic, washable, durable and clean. Wow… all the plus points, huh?

Again, since it isn’t too expensive, it’ll be good for my experiment. I shall go into Carrefour tomorrow to get my ingredients so that I can start making my much-awaiting pancake!

By the time we were done shopping, we were in need of dinner! So we walked to the new-wing that offers more choices of foods. We contemplated on eating Chinese, either local style or Cantonese style. Finally we decided to dine in Chatterbox HK Cuisine.

It’s located sort of outdoorsy. You can reach there by using the exit passing Bread Story and Kluang Station. Chatterbox HK Cuisine is by the corner right after the exit and next to an organic shop-cum-café. The place wasn’t buzzing like as seen in Kim Gary’s, which normally would have diners waiting in line to be seated. The wait staffs weren’t aplenty and helpful as compared to most ‘Char Chan Teng’ (Hong Kong/Taiwan style cafes). It took a while for us to flag down one that was bothered to stop by and take our orders. At first brother was contemplating of getting the set-dinners, which is shared between two persons, but Fenni thought perhaps it’s better to order ala carte, so brother went for Friend Rice with XO sauce (RM11.50).

Lots of diners here either ordered fried rice or claypot dishes from Chatterbox, according to brother who’s a frequent patron here, the house’s fried rice (with variety of flavours to choose from) is the signature dish. The fried rice with XO sauce came in a huge plate, it wasn’t oily until brother added more red chilly that’s soaked in spicy oil. He finished the whole dish in a jiffy, claiming it to be delicious and has the ‘wok hei’ (the aroma from cooking in a wok with strong flame)! But we think he was too hungry and therefore the rice was gone in few seconds.

Pork Rib with Steam rice

Minced pork with steam rice

It took a while for theirs to arrive due to the time to steam the rice. It came in a small bowl surprisingly, because we thought they’d be served in a big plate just like brother’s. The meat and vegetables were all in the bowl of steam rice, if I’m not mistaken, the size of the bowl is similar to the bowl that serves herbal jelly in Koong Woh Tong!!! The Pork Rib was cooked with Taucu, or black minced bean paste (I think), at first they suspected it has some Chinese rice wine in it, but realized that it’s probably the taste of Taucu. Mum’s Mince Pork was like a piece of meat patty, it was meager and stingy in portion. By the time mum finished the meat, she still has abundance of white rice left in the bowl.

Well, since I don’t really eat meat besides a little of fish, I had a take-away from O’Briens which’s next to the organic shop-cum-restaurant.

I’ve tried O’Briens tuna sandwich before in The Weld and pretty like it then. Here, when you order a sandwich, you get to choose your choice of meat (one) and three choices of vegetables, either toasted or fresh on selected bread. I had a wholemeal tuna sandwich with cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce (RM8.90).

Normally when I order my sandwich from any sandwich bar, I’d specifically request my bread to be no butter and mayonnaise, but I guess I forgotten to do that last night and the slab some butter on it. The whole meal tuna sandwich is distinctly bigger in size compare to the one served in JJ’s Super Sandwiches, other than that, I’m pretty satisfied with the taste and the freshness of the vegetables.

O'Briens wholemeal bread seems to have more grains compare to other bakeries that offfer the same type of bread. Texture is a little dense too.

O’Briens also serves other health foods too, such as yoghurt with cereals, healthy sandwiches, fruits, etc.

Back to Chatterbox HK Cuisine, I ordered a cup of hot honey lemon (RM4.50) to eat with my sandwich.

I was contemplating ordering a drink that has lots of red bean in it, but found out that the drink is of milk and top with red bean, since I don’t drink milk, I ordered the honey lemon instead. It tastes pretty good, not too sour since honey was added, and I like it because it was served hot too.

Overall, Chatterbox HK Cuisine is pretty good a place to dine if you’re into Hong Kong style food and drinks. Sadly the sandwich choices here were limited, unlike other that have all sort of toasted bread with your choice of flavours. And if you wish to avoid the crowd in Kim Gary’s, perhaps you should try Chatterbox instead.

ChatterBox HK Cuisine
LG338, Lower Ground, Rainforest
Tel: 03-77108833

O’Briens Irish Sandwich Bar
LG 349, Lower Ground, Rainforest
Tel: 03-77268977

During the dinner, brother and Fenni had an urge to have currypuff from Kluang Station. They went to the café which’s next to Chatterbox for some, unfortunately they were sold out! They said the currypuff sold in Kluang Station was delicious! Very tasty and bigger in size compare to others. They were disappointed for not getting any this time, but probably will come back for it in near future.

Opposite Kluang Station was Bread Story bakery store. There are lots of bakery stores in 1-Utama, but Bread Story seems to pull it off quite well with the customers. There’s another bakery store namely Bread Talk (I don’t think there’s any in 1-Utama), now, I don’t know what’s the deal between Bread Talk and Bread Story, but these two bakeries almost shared a similar name, a similar concept which they have stories behind each bread and pastries, and they almost have similar design for all their concept shop!!! Unless they’re managed under the same management, I don’t see how two different bakeries can have so much similarity, perhaps the two rivalries are trying to outdo each other by copying each other’s concept and see who’ll come out first and do well than the other. I think they even offer similar bread and pastries!!!

When we dropped by Bread Story after dinner, as always there weren’t many left on the shelves. Almost every shelf were emptied and the ones that are left looked as though they’ve been sitting there the whole day and were left behind by customers. If you were lucky, sometimes they might bake some fresh pastries and bread and that’s when people shuffled to get the freshly made piece fresh out from the oven. At first mum wanted to get a banana cake, but since there wasn’t much left, she got this Blue Berry Muffin.

According to her, the muffin tasted pretty good, right texture, not too dry which would cause it to be rocking hard and not too sweet either. It has lots of blueberries in this muffin to complement the muffin, so she's pretty happy with it. Mum actually bought another pastry but she ate it in the middle of the night while I was asleep!

Getting pastries and bread in Bread Story probably cost more than other regular bakeries, but if you like designer pastries and like reading the stories behind them, and wouldn’t mind paying up more, perhaps you’ll love Bread Story, or Bread Talk, whatever.

Bread Story
LG333, Lower Ground, Rainforest
Tel: 03-77277155

On another occasion, I visited Bread Story in Mid Valley and bought this – Flower Power (RM2.00) for mum. The outer layer of the bread was full of seeds, different sort such as pumpkin seeds, black sesame seeds and some others that I don’t know the name of. It’s considered healthy bread I guess.

The aroma of the bread with combination of various seeds drifted into the air and easily make your mouth watered. But as always, look might be deceiving. After having a bite, mum said the bun has too much seeds and they were sort of stuck between her teeth! If you like healthy bread and is not allergic to seeds and nuts and wouldn’t mind using toothpick to dig every corner of your teeth, you may want to try this out.

Bread Story
G022, Ground Floor Mid ValleyTel: 03- 22825155


Blogger OORANOS said...

Have a good time

1:56 AM  
Blogger Bam said...

very very long post. heh, but flower power is one of my favourite breads, i like the nuts, looks like huge big kuacis.

12:32 AM  

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