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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Food Review - Inn of 4 Seasons

Inn of 4 Seasons, Holiday Villa
FoodHalal Chinese Dim Sum
Subang Jaya

Getting there
Located at almost the end of the road where the Subang Jaya Medical Centre (now known as the Sime Darby Medical Centre) is situated, just before the entrance of the neighboring gated community, the Holiday Villa has been a major landmark for the area for many years.

ParkingThere are ample parking spaces within the hotel or even at the public parking bays right outside the hotel.

ServiceAs the place is ALWAYS running a full house for the buffet Dim Sum, the staff are always busy either bringing the freshly steamed Dim Sum to diners or clearing the tables. Surprisingly (or maybe not so much to some), most of the wait staff are non-locals but they do provide very good service and honestly try hard to please the guests.

AmbienceSituated on the ground floor within the hotel, the entrance is a little inconspicuous. As the hotel is fairly aged, you will find its ambience similar to Chinese Restaurants of its class (ie: PJ Hilton and Federal Hotel spring to mind) – clearly old but well maintained – Reminiscent of the fine dining of our parents’ generation. The garden, visible thru the full-height windows from the dining area provides a good view and really enhances the place.

TasteI always and still maintain that Pork-Free Dim Sum cannot be compared with the non-Halal variety. However, I have to say that most of the items here are very good. I can hardly recall which item really disappointed me (well, the most obvious candidates will have to be the Char Siew Pau & Lor Mai Kai ‘coz there is simply no Char Siew in there). Otherwise, I really thought it to be worthy of a return trip.
PresentationI have to say the individual Dim Sum items are done really well in terms of their presentation. Just don’t bother looking at the buffet counters. This is because we are in Malaysia and as the place is usually running at full house, the food is haphazardly hoarded onto their plates and thus, leaving the buffet table in a mess with most of the food dishes either empty or half-empty.

VarietyThe major Dim Sum items (eg: Siew Mai, Har Gow, Jue Cheong Fun, Lor Mai Kai, Porridge, Fried Fujok, “Char Siew Pau”,etc) are all there. You may not get them the moment you are seated but you will eventually get them when you dine there. They even serve desserts like Lychee and Sea Coconut.

Value for MoneyAt buffet prices, this is a really good deal. Good food at very affordable prices.

Except for the fact that it is pork-free and that you may need to wait a little for the food, I have no complaints about the place or the food. It’s not fine dining (Can buffet meals ever be considered Fine Dining?). Go try it and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Movie Review - Facing the Giants

Movie Title
Facing the Giants
Sports, Drama
The movie is about a Christian high school football coach who uses his undying faith to battle the giants of fear and failure. In six years of coaching, Grant Taylor has never led his Shiloh Eagles to a winning season. After learning that he and his wife Brooke face infertility, Grant discovers that a group of fathers are secretly organizing to have him dismissed as head coach. Devastated by his circumstances, he cries out to God in desperation. When Grant receives a message from an unexpected visitor, he searches for a stronger purpose for his football team. He dares to challenge his players to believe God for the impossible on and off the field. When faced with unbelievable odds, the Eagles must step up to their greatest test of strength and courage. What transpires is a dynamic story of the fight between faith and fear. Facing the Giants is a powerful experience for the whole family inspiring viewers to live with faith, hope, and love!
Since the movie was filmed and produced by Sherwood Pictures of Sherwood Baptist Church, the actors were not famous film-stars but lesser known ones - mostly church members with the associate Pastor playing Grant Taylor - the leading role. Considering that fact, acting was surprisingly good. Most of the characters spoke with a real Southern accent that initially sounded weird and needed some getting use to. Some of the minor actors had blank expressions and rather 'stale' acting but other than that it was okay.
This movie wasn't released in Malaysia and even in the States, it wasn't widely publisized due to its religious elements and considerably small production company. Of the few times I watched this movie, it never failed to move me. There were many notable quotes that were worth reflecting on. But what I like most about the show is all the lessons it teaches. Just watching how faith played such an important role that inspired victories in both Shiloh Eagles and Grant's personal life moved me. Of course, there were quite a number of hilarious moments too; not all drama. Also, the movie has a really nice soundtrack; songs by famous Christian artistes. Good movies are those that challenge you to think and see how it can apply to your life; whether famous or not. With that being said, this is definitely an inspiring movie to watch and one to remember.

Rating: 8/10
Guest Reviewer: Serene Chua

Friday, February 12, 2010

Food Review - Petaling Street Noodles

NamePetaling Street Noodles
Assam Laksa, Curry Noodles, Clear Soup Noodles
LocationPetaling Street (China Town) – adjacent to the fame Madras Lane

Getting there
Located in one of the side lanes tucked in the middle of the famous Petaling Street Night Market, diagonally across from the Swiss Inn Hotel.

ParkingParking spaces at the night market vicinity is scarce but there are many parking lots in either the buildings or open car-parks of the surrounding areas,

ServiceThe stall is manned by several elderly ladies and from time to time, an elderly man who I assume to be the spouse to one of them. The ladies are quick with their service even though they are elderly and serve approximately 15 tables that are usually packed.

AmbienceThe place has been around for much longer than many of you who may be reading this and hence the ambience reflects the age. For a place that old, although not under direct sunlight but exposed as it is, one can expect the place to be pretty run down and is not a place to be bringing your foreign guests for a meal unless they are fairly adventurous.

“Clean” would not be a good word to describe the place as it has not been well maintained and one would not be surprised if a cat sized rat were seen to be running around. However, I HAVE SEEN foreigners eating there and they had to take pictures of their culinary adventure there (elements of Fear Factor?)!
TasteAdmittedly, the way the whole place looks doesn’t really encourage or entice you to eat there but if you were to close your eyes and smell the food, you’d be pleasantly surprised. Trust your olfactory senses because the food really is good!

Each table comes with 2 metal containers – one has the prawn paste (for the Assam Laksa) and the other has the sambal/chili paste (for the other noodles).
Served in the standard pasar malam* hawker colored 6” bowls.

* Night Market

VarietyThe serve Assam Laksa, Curry Noodles, Clear Soup Noodles and Dry Noodles. Customers may choose from all the varieties of noodles from the standard Yellow Mee, Mee Hoon, Kuey Teow to the less common Loh Shue Fun & Lai Fun. Customers have the option to customize their order with additional items like:
- Fu Jok
- Fish Balls
- Pork Balls
- Fish chunks (from the Assam Laksa)

Value for MoneyAt only RM4 per small bowl and RM4.50 for large, the food here is really good value.

OverallGet your tissues ready for a face full of sweat after a satisfying meal! Good tasty food at good prices if you don’t mind sitting at a table at a side lane of an old street.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Movie Review - 9

Movie Title
Animation, Fantasy
Set some time in the future. Powered by a human invention known as the Great Machine, the world’s sentient machines have turned against their human creators and decimated the entire human race before it was somehow shut down.

In the wake of the collapse of our world, 9 (Elijah Wood), a 12-inch stitchpunk* doll-like creature (robot?) awakes in what appears to be a decimated science lab without voice, finds & brings with him a strange mechanical object from the debris. As he explores the world outside, 9 is attacked by a cat-like machine called the Beast but he is saved by another similar looking doll called 2 (Martin Landau) who eventually helped fix his voice. 2 soon leads 9 to a group of similar looking creatures. We eventually learn that they were given life by a dying scientist and they continue to exist with the sole mission to salvage the legacy of human civilization. With only 9 (hence the title) of them against a cadre of menacing post-apocalyptic techno-mechanical monstrosities, they soon find their numbers dwindling as one-by-one, they are captured by these monsters. The cool bird-beaked headgear garbed 7 (Jennifer Connelly) & 9 soon go against the leadership of 1 (Christopher Plummer) in a bid to rescue their captured comrades and heads off to enemy territory to confront the nightmarish machine called the Brain – which seemed to control the other monsters. However, only the ominous message left by their human creator within the strange artifact could help them uncover the secret to face the Beast.

* Stitch-Doll & Steam-Punk
The voice acting all blends together very well and none of it seems forced or out of place.

The movie boasts of sophisticated visual brilliance similar to, even surpassing, high-end computer games. Some of the monstrosities encountered are brilliantly brought to horrific life by CGI. I must say the terrifying visuals are not meant for kiddies as even I got a quite a fright looking at them. Case in point is the Snake Doll, a doll-headed snake ''seamstress'' that mechanically sews a victim up within its belly – so hideous it looks almost demonic.

The doll design was very cute & endearing. I’m a little surprised this did not make it to the Malaysian cinemas. Also that there aren’t any toys based on this movie.
My only gripe is that the ending was a little ambiguous though and viewers may be left wondering what the ending meant.
Rating: 7/10
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