Try these Kuala Lumpur restaurants

Try these Kuala Lumpur restaurants

These are Kuala Lumpur restaurants I would return to a second time (and especially to Lai Po Heen, pictured above, at the Mandarin Oriental hotel). This will depend on whether they can maintain a consistent standard of service.

Dumplings, food, Asia, Kuala Lumpur, restaurant
HoMinSan black truffle pork dumplings

The choice of KL restaurants and cafes at the Pavilion mall (Bukit Bintang) can be overwhelming. So, it’s good to have at least one go to, reasonably priced place. HoMinSan is one such place for me (for an early lunch).

I think I’m getting slightly obsessed about a couple of their dishes in particular: try the deliciously delicate black truffle pork dim sum (poking a chopstick into it makes the juices spurt and splatter out, so watch your clothes). And the goose too, with it’s addictive fat that melts into the meat and mouth. Those two together with chrysanthemum tea cost under £10.

Chicken, food, restaurant, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, travel, eat
ChoCha’s herb stuffed chicken

This is where I had my first taste of the nutty-tasting black rice, coupled with a tender herb stuffed chicken. They need to do some work on their selection of wines (by the glass) and, apparently, their duck, but apart from those things, well worth the visit for a calm place away from the city bustle, offering good Asian fusion food. Average meal for one with wine around £20.

By the way, you must visit the hipster cocktail bar upstairs, Mrs Jones Parlour. It specialises in hand-crafted and global gin concoctions. My own drink choice was the not-too-sweet but lovely gin, jasmine and tarragon combo at just under £8.

Cocktails, gin, botanicals, restaurant, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, food, travel
Mrs Jones’ Parlour

Mixed reviews on Tripadvisor, not helped by the duck salad I had (way too many bones), but get past that and here’s somewhere for a healthy lunch at the busy Suria/KLCC mall. Despite the disappointing duck, the Asia beef salad was plentiful and fresh, not overpowered by the dressing, while the crispy fries lightly sprinkled with paprika did work. No alcohol but good choice of alternative drinks.

Get here at the right time and you can bag a prime seat to watch the fountain light show while enjoying a good meal and drink. I’ve only ever had the flavoursome beef rendang both times I’ve visited, plus a nice glass of pinot noir.

Light show performance viewed from Mama San

I’ve saved the best of this list for last. If you are yearning for a delicious roast duck and plum sauce fix, complete with good quality wines, then look no further. If you are staying at this beautiful hotel where the service is excellent without being fusty, then even better.

Fine dining, Mandarin Oriental, duck, food, travel, luxury, restaurant, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Delicious duck at Lai Po Heen
Poolside at the Mandarin Oriental hotel

Click here for more about my trips to Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong

Hobbits, Tolkien, Oxford and Writing

 

Tolkien sign

I decided to hot foot it over to Oxford for a dose of literary inspiration, where the Bodleian/Weston Library hosts the J.R.R. Tolkien exhibition until October. The Financial Times published a pre-exhibition review that tells it far better than I can – you can read it here.

Hobbit cover
Tolkien illustrated the cover to his now-famous book

Writers’ craft

But I learned some valuable ‘writers’ lessons from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings creator.

  1. Lord of the Rings, sequel to The Hobbit, took Tolkien a long twelve years to finish, ‘squeezing his writing into late nights’ after teaching and family activities.
  2. He pursued his creative endeavors (drawing, illustrations, writing) alongside his academic day job and family.
  3. But he had a ‘room of his own’ where he not only wrote his masterpieces but also met with his students, marked essays and carried out his professor duties. In addition, it was a hub for entertaining his children with evening stories.
  4. His illustrations are quite beautiful and complement his writing perfectly. How I wish I could draw! Never mind, at least I can work on my photography.
  5. Tolkien was actually quite an extrovert. He formed a writers’ group with his mates, which served as an excuse and a ‘safe space’ to down beers, and read their written stories to each other.
  6. Nonetheless, he had a literary best mate, CS Lewis.

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth is at the Bodleian/Weston Library, Oxford

June 1- October 28 – tolkien.bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Oxford's dreaming spires
Oxford’s dreaming spires

Trinity College, Oxford
Trinity College, Oxford

Tolkien illustration

 

 

Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong

 

Changi, Singapore - overlooking the South China Sea
Changi, Singapore, overlooking the South China Sea

I’m starting to prefer staying in the suburban outskirts of a city. Apart from getting more reasonably priced accommodation, it’s nice to be able to retreat from the frenetic centres to somewhere more quiet, if not totally peaceful. As long as there’s accessible transport to ferry me across to the centre when I want then that’s fine by me.

Changi Village in Singapore is a case in point. Just a few kilometres from the airport my hotel was about a five-minute walk from the South China Sea beach side. Nothing amazing about the hotel itself – but (on the whole) it was clean and quiet. Food there was horribly expensive without the quality to match, in my opinion. But, that only galvanised me to sample the nearby local restaurants, where prices were low and the quality significantly higher.

Changi, Singapore.jpg
Changi, Singapore

Quiet(er) Melaka (or Malacca) in next door Malaysia is a pleasant two-hour coach drive from Singapore (I used the bus company KKKL which I do recommend). And even in Kuala Lumpur, I stayed at Airbnb apartments that just skirted the flashy main centres, though with easy transport to shopping malls for sheltering from the heat.

KL during the day

 

KL at night
Kuala Lumpur (or ‘KL’) during the day and at night

 

Mojo Nomad Aberdeen Harbour
In Hong Kong, I stayed at the Mojo Nomad hotel, with this Aberdeen Harbour view from my window. Nice.

 

Hong Kong cafe.jpg
G4 Space cafe is just down the road from the Mojo Nomad hotel and worth checking out

 

Read my other Asia posts here:

Travels through Asia – dining in Kolkata

Travels through Asia

 

 

 

Travels through Asia – dining in Kolkata

Kolkata Yauatcha

I had to visit the Michelin-starred Yauatcha in Kolkata’s high-end Quest Mall. Prices are around a third what you would pay at its twin/sister restaurant in London. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and still on the look-out wherever I go for the champagne/rose tea served there.

Special shout out also goes to the Bohemian Restaurant at 2/4, Old Ballygunge Place, 1st Lane, Kolkata. It’s a cab ride away from the mall. The menu includes enticing sounding dishes such as mutton and baby potatoes simmered with green mango and okra; prawn and crabmeat dumplings stewed in spicy Noler Gur reduction; jumbo prawns stewed with field grown herbs; mutton simmered with baby cabbage and fresh fennel served with steam rice and wilted greens; shall I continue? Main dishes are around 500 rupees (USD$8).

Kolkata Bohemian 2
The Bohemian restaurant. Kolkata, India

Kolkata Bohemian 3
Paraphernalia at The Bohemian restaurant.

Their home designed signature cocktails aren’t bad either, including the pictured Just Bohemian made up of Nolen Gur (Bengal date palm jaggery), ginger and dark rum. Cost around 230 rupees (USD$3.5). At this price, it’s tempting to go for more than one – but they are potent, you have been warned.

Kolkata Bohemian
The Bohemian

Travels through Asia

Miu's Coffee House, Hanoi, Old Quarter
Miu’s Coffee House. Hanoi, Vietnam

At the start of 2017 I said that I wanted to travel to Asia and Asia-Pacific that year. From May I got to work in reporting and public information for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (or, more simply, OCHA) in South Asia (Pakistan and Bangladesh).

At the beginning of December and following these busy assignments I decided to make my way around India, Australia and Thailand for the first time visiting Kolkata, Sydney and Bangkok. Three weeks later I was back in London spending a lovely Christmas break with my 84-year-old Mum, my brother and his family.

Sydney breakfast
Sydney breakfast
Sydney Opera House.jpg
No prizes for guessing where this is
Bangkok night market 1
Bangkok night market
Bangkok boat
Bangkok

Then I hit the road again in the first week of 2018, taking in Phu Quoc, Ho Chi Min and Hanoi in Vietnam; Colombo and Galle in Sri Lanka; and Bali, Indonesia where I am now. It’s actually cheaper to be here than expensive London, whilst waiting for my next assignment, plus I get to miss all that city’s tiresome cold winter.

Acoustics bar, Hanoi, Old Quarter
Getting ready to perform at The Acoustics Bar. Hanoi, Vietnam

I like the song that blasts out from the Vietjet flight on landing in Vietnam (the link below will take you to the YouTube video).

Galle, Sri Lanka.jpg
Fishermen. Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle, Sri Lanka snake
Rather him than me. Galle, Sri Lanka
A funeral procession in Zadar, Indonesia
A funeral procession in Sanur, Indonesia
Breakfast in Kuta - tender buttermilk chicken, spinach and poached egg
Breakfast in Kuta, Indonesia – tender buttermilk chicken, spinach and poached egg