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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Food Review - Jogoya @ Starhill

Over-priced, Over-rated & free-range cockroaches thrown in for extra zing!

Name
Jogoya @ Starhill
FoodJapanese
LocationStarhill Gallery 5th Floor


Getting thereOnce you are in the Starhill Gallery, make your way to the 5th floor but if you are using the lift, you need to identify and map the floor numbers to the themed names they had given to them. So the 5th floor was named Relish.
Parking
Either the park within Starhill or in the vicinity of the mall.



ServiceI was fairly upset that after having taken the trouble to make reservations and then was refused a date change request but they still allowed walk-ins when we were queuing to pay for entry. This is quite an unusual practice especially for such a supposedly “up-market” establishment. I have never seen a place where diners have to pay the entrance fees before dining.

Food was also a challenge to obtain as there are layers of un-necessary complexity. They use tokens (each table has 3 such tokens), VIP dishes and the normal buffet grab-n-go systems. The tokens waste time as you may only order 3 items and have to wait for the food to arrive and token to return at your table. The VIP system allows diners to choose special dishes where normal people cannot access. To spite us, they display these dishes at the Food Islands prominently only to be told we cannot have them. VIPs become so by spending over RM1000 prior. Lastly, the buffet system is the simplest but then we forgot that we were in Malaysia and thus, most of the food items we want, weren’t there except for the empty containers and food tags indicating their existence. So even common items like Chawan Mushi, Cod Sashimi, Tako

What really irked me to no end was that I had made a complaint about the roach (please see pix) running around freely at my table, presumably at many other tables in there. The Non-Chinese staff who first heard my complaint just shrugged it off. So I made my complaint to another staff who was Chinese but she said I needed to refer this to Management. However, as we were rushed out of the place like so much prodded cattle when time was up, the entire staff was too busy with the crowd that was rushing to come in for the next round of buffet. I tried making the complaint on-line but their web-site is totally in Chinese.


AmbienceNamed as “one of the (if not “the”) grandest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur” & a place to provide “a gallery of rich experiences”, one would expect Jogoya to fit the criteria for such a description, or at worst, slightly below the mark, but would still be quite an experience. Alas, no, our experience there was unfortunately VERY FAR from it.

The place is huge and it takes a while before you can orientate yourself to its maze-like layout. The lighting was also quite dim. Against the mainly dark-wood and cement finish of the d├ęcor, the place is quite dark.

It has islands of food counters that serve different categories of food – Tempura, Sashimi, Desert, etc. Additionally, the dining tables are also segregated into dining rooms or segments. You can almost literally get lost in there. The dining room segment where we were at had a hand washing basin and hence the staff also used the basin after they bussed the tables. There was a slight stench where we were.
TasteThere was nothing outstanding that I could recall except for the coconut drink. The food was not bad either, just not great. Of course, they had free-flow of Haagen-Dazs ice-cream but at any time, there were just too many diners waiting in line for it, and the fact that the tubs were frozen extremely hard (almost rock-hard) made it almost impossible for ladies to get any. As one very experienced in scooping ice-cream from frozen tubs, I pride myself to be quite adept at doing that but here, even I had trouble getting a single scoop until they had a couple of other tubs. That meant we were only able to try 2 flavors although there were more.

PresentationI have to admit that some of the items were very nicely designed in terms of the presentation. However, on the Sushi and Sashimi, Zenri does a much better job (http://jmerb.blogspot.com/2009/03/food-review-xenri-dgarden-terrace.html).

VarietyThere are a lot of items at first glance (that was what brought us there) but upon closer inspection, there really weren’t that many items worthy of mention.
The unusual part is that they also serve free flow alcohol in the form of red & white wines and cocktails like AK-47 (but in plastic cups…>.<). Value for Money Well, it we the food was really available and didn’t have so many complicated systems and diners really had time to eat, I would not have labeled this place as over-priced. Alas, ½ of our time there was used up waiting for food to be either replenished or delivered. So mostly, our table didn’t really have much food there and when it did, dear old Coach Roach (and perhaps his good friends) was there as well.
Overall
Over-rated. I seriously don’t know what the fuss about this place is. Ambience was far from the image conjured by the description and image Starhill projects. Staff didn’t really bother eventho’ I told them of the roach problem (perhaps it’s been a common feature for some time now).

Food Review - Restoran Soo Kee (Shredded Chicken Meat Noodles)


Name
Restoran Soo Kee
FoodShredded Chicken Meat Noodles
Location
Paramount Garden PJ

Getting thereComing from the direction of Section 19 towards Paramount, you will see the Shell Station on your right just before the KFC outlet at the traffic lights junction. Make a right turn immediately after Shell Station. The shop is on the left, just before the street junction where the Rojak/Cendol stall is. (http://jmerb.blogspot.com/2009/05/food-review-hasans-rojak-cendol.html)

ParkingIn the vicinity of the Shell Station and the shop-lots there, there’s ample parking.

ServiceBusiness there is brisk as it is always buzzing with activity. This place is run by a family.
Ambience
This place has been operating here for a number of years now and has many loyal customers. Altho’ it is a typical Chinese styles coffee shop, it is well maintained – clean and well-ventilated.

On the day I visited, the shop didn’t turn on the lights within, but it was still well enough lit for lunch without being distracting. Well, we all need to do our bit to help Mummy Terra Dearest before she gets in serious trouble like in Battle for Terra (http://jmerb.blogspot.com/2009/05/movie-review-battle-for-terra.html).

TasteGreat tasting Ipoh-Style Gai See Hor Fun (Shredded Chicken Meat Noodles). For first timers, the soupy version is recommended. Plus, the noodles are topped with thinly sliced mid-sized shrimps (2 inch variety)

PresentationServed in red plastic bowls. Very presentable but it would’ve been better if they had used porcelain ones instead.

VarietyThey would serve the noodles either in soup or dry. We went for the original soupy variety altho’ I have a strong affinity towards dry noodles. They also serve excellent shrimp Wan Tan as side orders.

Value for MoneyGood value for the food but the portion was quite dainty in size and would prove to be insufficient, especially not if it tastes so good. So be prepared for seconds when you eat there.

Overall
Very good food at reasonable prices but you would not get full on standard sized orders.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Food Review - Hasan’s Rojak & Cendol (Paramount Garden)

,

Name
Hasan’s Rojak & Cendol
Food
Hmmm, I wonder…
Location
Paramount Garden PJ

Getting there
Coming from the direction of Section 19 towards Paramount, you will see the Shell Station on your right just before the KFC outlet at the traffic lights junction. Make a right turn immediately after Shell Station. The stall (van) is right at the end of the street junction.

Parking
In the vicinity of the Shell Station and the shop-lots there, there’s ample parking.

Service
Quick and fuss free – the way we like it. There is always a queue at this stall. We walked past it when we headed for lunch nearby and when we returned for desert, there were still people waiting to take-away their orders.

Ambience
It’s a van under the sun, with a few plastic chairs at the corner of a street next to an open drain. However, I have to say the place is surprisingly clean and free from any odor eventho’ from my description, the place may seem a little unsavory.

Taste
The Rojak tastes short of heaven. It’s pretty good but there are others that are better. The sauce is thick and the color & aroma from it makes the dish almost impossible to resist. Slightly sweet and not too spicy – Yummy. I had mine with sotong (cuttlefish) and requested for the tentacles. The sotong did not really add much to the experience and is not a must unless you are a sotong fan.

The Cendol here is served with, oddly enough, corn. Hence, this Cendol incarnation slightly resembles more ABC than other incarnations. However, as incongruent as it may seem, it didn’t take away our enjoyment of the desert. The shaved ice was not as distracting as the one in Mayang (http://jmerb.blogspot.com/2009/03/food-review-rojak-cendol-penang-in.html), eventho’ it’s also fairly coarse here.

Presentation
The Rojak looks divine (check out the pix). The thing that took me by surprise was the “branding” that appeared after you finish the dish (see pic). It’s reminiscent of the time when we were kids and when we finish our food, Ultra-man or Mickey Mouse would appear at the bottom of our bowl/plate.

The Cendol however, were served in Styrofoam bowls (I would have preferred if they were served in the more common stainless steel bowls).


Variety
Typical of stalls of this nature, they serve Indian Rojak & Cendol. While some stalls also serve ABC, it was not on the menu here.

Value for Money
Pretty standard for both the Rojak and Cendol.

Overall
Much, much better than the one at Mayang. I would definitely return for more. I would recommend a try.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Movie Review - Battle for Terra


Movie Title
Battle for Terra
Year
2009
Genre
Animation, Sci-Fi

Story
A seemingly peaceful highly cultured alien planet called Terra is suddenly attacked by extremely hostile spaceships. We soon learn that the hostile forces are none other than the same universal pests from various movies – Humans! They seemed to randomly abduct Terrians in their first mission. One of the attack ships piloted by Lt Jim Stanton (Luke Wilson) was downed in the first mission and against her better judgment, Mala (Evan Rachel Wood), a native of Terra, captures him, nurses him back to health with the condition that he helps her find her abducted father – Roven (Dennis Quaid) aboard the Earthforce mother-ship. Of course, no animated movie would be complete without the comic relief character, which came in the form of Giddy (David Cross), a robot (like R2D2) assigned to serve Lt Jim Stanton faithfully.

We soon learn that the humans had destroyed Earth and its 2 neighboring planets: Mars & Venus. They now only had 1 last ship that was tasked to not only take care of all the surviving humans but also to look for another habitable planet for them. The Earthforce mother-ship came with a single Terraformer with the capacity to terra-form an entire planet for human habitation, even at the expense of local inhabitants.

Once Lt Jim Stanton gets back to the Earthforce mother-ship with Mala & Giddy, General Hemmer (Brian Cox - General William Stryker from X-Men 2) assigns him to lead the final assault on Terra as the Earthforce mother-ship could sustain human life for only 20 more days. Lt Jim Stanton now begins to see the ruthlessness of humans when it comes to survival but reluctantly does his duty for his race and also his brother. Here, we get to see his true character when he is put in a position to choose life either for the humans or the Terrians.

Acting
I was trying to associate the voices of the big names to the characters of the movie but I didn’t get very far. The voices were believable, but still maintained that “cartoon voice” element where you can basically tell who the good guys were without looking at the screen because they sound like good or bad guys.

Overall
I really hated the design of the Terrians because everything else in the movie was so well done that the Terrians looked very incongruent (as they looked too cartoonish while everything else looked believable) and made the experience of watching the movie significantly less enjoyable and seamless.

It also drove home the point many other movies (like the Matrix) were trying to say – that humans are destructive, good for nothing and are universal pests that need to be destroyed. Quite thought provoking for an animated movie that’s not from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Order your DVD copy here: http://astore.amazon.com/eareotbi-20/detail/B002FVPFUC

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review - Night at the Museum 2

Movie Title
Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian
Year
2009
Genre
Adventure, Comedy

Story
Several years have passed since the events from the first Night at the Museum movie. Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is now a successful entrepreneur, the owner of Daley Devices – manufacturer of innovative household products. One day, he passes the Museum of Natural History and noticed that it was closed for upgrades and renovations with most of the existing museum artifacts (ie: his friends from the first movie) being moved to the Federal Archives at the Smithsonian the very next day. He tries his best to use his position to influence the powers that be to reverse the decision but to no avail. This meant that his friends will no longer come alive at night because the Egyptian tablet that brings them to life would remain at the Museum of Natural History. However, the mischievous monkey from hell, Dexter, stole the tablet before they were shipped out to the Smithsonian in Washington, resulting in the .Smithsonian artifacts coming to life, and not all of them are friendly!
Larry springs into action to rescue his friends once he discovers their plight. Watching how he gains access to the Smithsonian Archives was amusing to say the least. He gets help in the form of Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams from Enchanted) and General George Armstrong Custer (Bill Hader who looked very suspiciously like a heavily made-up Ryan Seacrest, but thankfully isn’t.) against the bad guys, called the Axis of Evil, led by Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria – who also played The Thinker & Abe Lincoln in the movie). The members in the Axis of Evil included Al Capone (Jon Bernthal), Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest) and Napoleon Bonaparte (Alain Chabat).
Of course the movie is predictable and the good guys win in the end, but the journey there is enjoyable.

Acting
Fans would know that Azaria is the super-talented and extremely funny man behind many of the voices in the Simpsons cartoon. Here, he also plays multiple characters but watching him play Kahmunrah’s role was the main highlight of the movie.

Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart makes a good pairing for Larry as both his adventuring partner and love interest. Her innocence from an age long gone mixed with her energy cum enthusiasm (or “moxie” as she called it) makes her a joy to watch here.

The monkey(s?) that played Dexter and Able (the first monkey to go to space) were also extremely funny. I suspect some of the actions and expressions were CGI.

Overall
Funny and cute. Giant octopuses, space ships, abstract art and bobble-head Einsteins. Spoofs, Cameos, Romance, Suspense, Action, Magic, Cheesy Boy-band music, this movie has something for everyone.

Good way to spend 2 hours away from the harsh realities of life and have a good laugh. Go watch it (but watch part 1 first)!

Order your copy here:http://astore.amazon.com/eareotbi-20/detail/B002GJTYIW
Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Movie Review - Marley & Me


Movie Title
Marley & Me
Year
2009
Genre
Comedy, Drama

Story
This film is based on the best-selling autobiographical book by columnist John Grogan.

Newlywed newspaper writers John (Owen Wilson) and Jennifer Grogan (Jennifer Aniston) move to Florida to start the new chapter of their lives. When Jennifer hints at starting a family, John gets an idea from his close buddy Sebastian (Eric Dane) to get her a puppy as a substitute instead because John felt he wasn’t ready to do so just yet. John gets Jennifer a dog (Marley) as a birthday present and in no time, Marley has become an inseparable part of their lives.

Although Marley had been more than a handful for them from the very moment he was brought home, Marley eventually became the source of much amusing material for his newspaper column and garnered him a large and faithful readership.

Soon, after they inevitably start their family, Marley is still very much considered a family member by all (including their 3 children). The movie shows much of the Labrador’s antics (audiences will love these scenes) that earned Marley the notorious reputation (affectionately conferred) as the “worst dog in the world” and also how the Grogans coped with the eventual death of Marley.

Acting
I have never really taken Jennifer Aniston as a serious actor but there were moments in this movie that changed my mind. She can act quite well.

As the movie used 22 different dogs for filming, there were scenes where the different dogs used were easily spotted. Some of the dogs exhibited noticeably more Mojo & spunk than others.
Overall
Anyone, especially dog lovers would enjoy this movie, which tugged at my heart-strings numerous times throughout the movie. However, the last segment of the movie that dealt with Marley’s eventual death is quite gut-wrenching and can prove to be extremely emotional for some.

I am certain sales of Labradors all over the world would definitely increase after a movie like this.
Order your DVD copy here: http://astore.amazon.com/eareotbi-20/detail/B001REZM6K
Rating: 6.5/10