Happy 58th Birthday, Malaysia!

Of late, Malaysia has been surrounded by negative publicity – from the aviation disasters that  happened last year (2014) to our political fiasco. Despite all that, Malaysia is still our homeland, our tanah air. It has been 58 years since the first Merdeka was shouted and despite the ups and downs, deep inside, we all Malaysians still do call Malaysia home.

When I was in Singapore recently, I was overwhelmed by the nations’s enthusiasm in celebrating their 50th birthday. This year, it was a far cry from what we are experiencing here in Malaysia. The minute I stepped out on Orchard Road, Singaporeans were happily waving Singapore flag and I swear I could  see  smugness in some of their faces – the faces of proud Singaporeans.

Then I turned on TV to watch their National Day speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong.  He spoke with so much articulation and pride of how much Singapore has come along the way. Indeed, it is a proud moment for Singaporeans, having progress from a third world country to a first world country. Their National Day parade was nothing short of spectacular. It was packed at the Padang where the main parade was carried out. The fireworks represent Singapore’s ego and future. It was colourful, bright and majestic. Having brought up in Johor, I grew up watching Singapore channels – namely Channel 5 & 8. I have always thought it was a privilege to have that access to their stations (since that is where I learnt my chinese). So, most naturally, I know how to sing their national anthem and even their pledge.

“We the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language and religion to build a democratic society…”

So, yes, when I see and read the news daily regarding the problems our country is in, I simply cannot help but to feel dishearten.

Taking all the negativity aside, we Malaysians are indeed very blessed to be showered with so much resources – from cocoa, palm oil, coconut and what not. We are a country so rich with not only commodities but pristine island, high country (such as Genting, Fraser Hills, Cameron Highlands) and of course, our lush rainforest.

Being in the industry of experiences, we are constantly on the look out to find new experiences to satisfy the insatiable appetite of our buyers – be it our retail or corporate customers. With over two thousands experiences across Malaysia ( and we are still adding new experience by the day), we should be very proud of our ‘tanah air’.

We may not be Maldives, Bali, Koh Samui or Phuket – but I am pretty our our Pulau Langkawi, Pulau Redang, Pulau Kapas and the list goes on and on and on will be on par, someday.

So to commemorate this 58th birthday, and to celebrate Malaysia, we decided to pull out our top 10 fav picks for the long weekend. With the weakening ringgit, you can still go for holidays – and we call it cuti-cuti Malaysia!

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A French Rendeavous 

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Wild River Tubing 

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Magical River Trekking 

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A Serene East Coast Getaway 

Honeymoon Bliss at the Bunga Raya Island Resort

Survivor Island Adventure 

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Sea Cliff Chalet Getaway 

For more ideas on what you can do around Malaysia this upcoming long weekend in lieu with our National Day, visit http://www.redribbondays.com.my or drop us an email at info (a) redribbondays.com.my and we can help you customise a quick and hassle free getaway for you and your whole family!

MH17- You will not be forgotten

The thoughts of MH370 are still fresh in many Malaysians’ minds. As a nation, we have yet to fully recover from the tragedies of that fateful flight and now; yet another flight has gone down. This isolated incident has shaken the country’s foundations once more but their loss will only serve to strengthen the bonds of every Malaysian. Set aside all the petty differences, this is a time that we not only mourn as one but also rise as one to be accounted for. Let us honour their memories by striving to live in peace and harmony together for they have shown us just how fickle life can be. Our hearts goes out to the families of those who were loss and know that the entire world prays for your families. We will forever remember those who were loss and the lessons it taught us. Let us all pray for #MH17

Dining in the dark

Imagine eating in total darkness, with not even a hint of light to guide you. As the door to darkness open, you will be ushered in by the gentle and polite waiting staff. Do not be alarmed when they say to you “Please put your hands on my shoulder and follow my instructions as we walk in”. This is only a normal procedure as the waiting staffs who will be serving you for the entire duration of your experience are all visually impaired.

We being the advocates of experiences, were absolutely thrilled when this experience finally hits home. Dining in the dark has become an instant hit the minute it was being introduced in the US. Though a lot of people in Malaysia are still not aware of this experience, we believe it will be very soon!

While waiting for our experience to commence, we were served a welcome drink and a little game to whet our appetite.

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We were given a box of rice and then were told to blindfold ourselves and search for 4 paper clips in the box of rice. Who would have thought looking for paper clips without eye sight could proved to be quite a challenge?

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I completed my given task in under 5 minutes, so I’m quite pleased. Once we are done with that, we were told to keep all our belongings in an assigned locker. Ladies, if you are using a Birkin or Kelly may I suggest you to use something smaller the night of your experience so that your bag can be squeeze into the locker (without much heartache) as you will not be allowed to bring in your bags or handphones in the dining space.

So obediently, I took out both my mobile phones ( darn! there goes my social life!) and lock it in. In a split second, the door in front of me lit up and our usherette uttered a brief “Enjoy the experience”

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As the door open, out popped a friendly looking chap, clad in black. He introduced himself and politely asked if we were ready to go in. I, was as nervous as a kid on their first visit to the dentist! The door closed behind me as we were guided into the darkness. Do not expect even the slightest hint of light. (well, my watch kinda glow in the dark, so that was assuring – but I was told later on to remove it as it would hinder the experience).I couldn’t remove it as I have no bags or pocket with me, so I just kinda turn it around so the glowing lights would not be evident in the dark.

I safely made it to my seat. Our waiter was absolutely pleasant. He made a quick introduction of himself, and the menu that we will be feasting on. He came back and asked if we would like to pour our own water. Sure, why not? I slowly reached out for the glass on the table, and poured the water from the bottle slowly, putting my finger in the cup so I know when to stop pouring.

Once everyone is settled down, we were quickly informed that soup will be served to kick start the experience!

Two types of soups were served ; hot & cold

  • Cold Soup: Watermelon Gazpacho flavoured with pineapple and tomato
  • Hot Soup : Green of lettuce soup with dash of nutmeg

I quite fancy the cold soup – refreshing and lightl. As for the hot soup, I thought it was a bit too diluted.

Entree was quickly served. A quick introduction of the dishes was presented by our waiting staff. My two other dIning companion could not stop giggling and talked so loud that I actually find it annoying. Maybe my hearing senses heighten since I was not able to use my eye sight in the darkness – so everything seems incredibly loud to me. Whilst everyone around me was busy talking, I could distinctively hear the chatter and whispering of those nearby as well as the clinking sound of utensils on the plates.

I decided to eat with my fingers, since I was told that it will make the whole experience better, as you can feel the texture of your food. I did and indeed it was. It was quite liberating since you really don’t have any idea of what is being served until you dip your fingers into the dishes and put them into your mouth. Of course, everyone was busy discussing what the dish was and whether it was a yay or nay. I actually spoke less in this dining experience, and begin to truly enjoy the moments in darkness and every scoop of food I devour.

Entree was made up of 4 different small bites.

  • Grilled eggplant topped with spring onion in chinese vinegar, garlic and red chilli dressing
  • Devilled eggs with tobiko
  • Poached mussels (though I strongly believed it was cockles!), pomelo & carrot salad in thai style sauce perfumed with coriander, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves
  • Espuma of smoked tomato mousse infused with basil on mashed avocado

I took about 15 minutes to savour the food, pairing it slowly with a glass of cabernet sauvignon. Simply delightful!

The waiter seems to know when we are done with our food as he quickly made his presence known by asking if we are done with our entree and ready to move on to the next course. Main course was quickly served. I was really impressed by how professional they were. Though visually impaired, they were able to place each course in front of us without making the slightest hint of noise. They didn’t even knock on our chair, tables or accidentally moved our utensils. Made me wonder, how come then in a normal restaurant served by perfectly adequate people, they can accidentally knock you on your table, chairs and even sometimes spill your food when serving? Are we less inclined to put into full good use of our “vision” despite being totally adequate?

For mains, we were served:

  • Deep fried John Dory fillet with curry sauce topped with fried curry leaves and tomatoes
  • Five spice duck breast with braised white radish in rosemary cranberry jus
  • Macaroni with seafood Bolognese in bisque cream

My favourite has to be the deep fried dory fillet followed by the duck breast. I was on a low carb diet, so I nibbled at the macaroni.

To end the night, dessert were whipped out quickly.

For dessert, we had :

  • Lemongrass & lime sorbet with kaffir lime leaves
  • French vanilla bavarian cream
  • Deconstructed apple crumble
  • Apricot & pistachio rice pudding
  • Mixed berries jelly flavoured with mint

What a satisfying meal ! We completed our dining experience in under 2 hours, and when I saw the first hint of light after being in darkness, I was ever so grateful for everything I have in life. It made me wonder how often we human beings lament about our life and are seldom thankful for what we have been bestowed. The experience has been such an amazing one for me and I was glad this dining experience is now available in KL.

Menu changes every month, so you won’t be dining on the same menu as what I had – so there is definitely no spoiler in terms of the dishes that you will be indulging on!

Go ahead, give this experience a try and we reckon this would be one hell of a gift for someone for their birthday!

PS/ Sorry there isn’t any picture of the food that was served as it was total darkness. This is what I see for the whole 2 hours.

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Enjoy the experience & Bon Apetit!

A Degustation Dinner @ Madisons

Wine matching degustation dinner is not very common in KL. Where I came from before( in Australia) , degustation dinner is always a 7 course or even a 16 course meal paired deliciously with different range of alcoholic beverages ( champagne, white wine, red wine, dessert wine). I am a big foodie and I definitely love a good long meal – one filled with dishes that satiates your palate one after another one and each dish is beautifully paired with an alcoholic beverage that is absolutely divine. 

When we have this experience on board, I was delighted. 

First, the chef (Chef Kel Daleney) hails from Australia and has years of experience in the F&B industry in Adelaide. So that was a good sign. Secondly, it is a wine pairing degustation meal – what’s there not to like about wine pairing? Save me the hassle of deciding what to order for drinks! 

I arrived on time at 7.30pm as confirmed in my reservation. Love the location, I must say. Located in Jalan Bangkung, I have no reason to worry about traffic jam or what not. 

Note:  We have a very strict policy that all experiences sold on our website MUST be tried and tested. Hence, when it comes to food, I have no qualms to offer my services. 

So I was sat down on my table without much fuss. Booking was attended to perfectly. They were aware of our arrangement. See when it comes to “making reservation or bookings” with some of our suppliers, sometimes this can get really tricky. Sometimes, we have customers that arrived at a location, with confused looking staff, unsure of what the deal is all about. So in order to prevent this, we need to “test” out the 1st booking on our end – to make sure that there is no confusion in bookings made on our end, our customers are well attended too  (and not treated like some customers of discounted sites), and most importantly, the experience is worthy being called “an experience gift”. 

Madisons has an open kitchen concept, which is really very common in Australia. From where we were seated, we get a very good view of the entire kitchen and we even get to see Chef Kel in action herself! 

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Let’s cut to the chase and here’s the menu of what is in the 4-course degustation dinner at Madisons:- 

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Entree: 

  • Pate: Tuft duck and chicken liver pate, red wine jelly, compressed pears 
  • Cream of Cauliflower soup 
  • Beetroot : Fig crostini, whipped goats cheese, pickled beets, micro herbs

Served with a glass of pinot grigio 

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Pasta: 

  • Filed with slow roasted chicken, prune & sage, carrot puree, red wine 

Served with a glass of Merlot 

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Mains :

  • Beef Cheeks: Slow cooked with potato puree, roasted cherry tomato, horseradish cream 
  • Seared Dory Fillet : Pan seared, parsnip puree, house made cured sausages, beetroot chips 

Served with a glass of shiraz 

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Dessert: 

  • Chef selection of house made dessrts 

Served with a glass of Rose Prosecco 

The meal was really quite satisfying. Each dish was very well presented and taste was exquisite. It was well paired except I would personally prefers the prosecco to be paired with the entree dishes rather than with the dessert. A dessert wine like a port or moscato would be perfect! 

Oh and did I mention that the bread was really quite good too ? I love my bread warm and crusty – and Madisons did it just right. 

So if you are looking for a cosy, unpretentious venue for your a dinner date with your partner, I would highly recommend this experience. They are rather generous with the wine served during the pairing dinner, so go easy on it if you are driving. 

Find out more on how to get this dining experience as a gift

Ladies & Gentlemen, start your engines…

It is the time of the year again! Formula One (F1) is here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and we are already feeling the heat with the arrivals of the drivers. (we have spotted quite a few of the drivers at events- ooh la la!) 

Anyways, most of us will most probably will never ever get to drive one (F1 car) so a F1 car simulator would be the next best thing, no? I am the biggest fan of Schumacher (but have been deeply affected by his skiing incident) and would love to possess such driving skills! These simulators are located in our iconic KL Tower – so for those of you who has never ever been up there, do yourself some justice, take this opportunity to go up there, enjoy the scenic view and of course, have some revving engine fun! 

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Or if you are not a big fan, I am pretty sure one of your friend is. So definitely a perfect gift for that car/F1 junkie! 

 

A little piece of Italy on the sky

Most of us (Malaysians) by now would have heard of the Troika Sky Dining. For those who have not been to Troika, you ought to make your way there and try out the many great selection of dining establishment within the building. To name a few, Kampachi, ACME and Cantaloupe. For those who loves their pizzas and pastas, Strato is an Italian restaurant tucked above the building. Seats a cosy pax of 30 people, you can expect the restaurant to be constantly full and buzzing with conversations.

I decided to check out the venue and try out the dishes of course, being a big fan of Italian food. I’m a regular to Troika – dined once at Cantaloupe and this will be my first time at Strato. Please be reminded that this building is not very accessible for people on wheelchair – as Strato is located one floor above cantaloupe and you will need to climb a viral stair case to go up to the restaurant. A service lift is there should you require, so it would be good to inform our Pleasure Team Consultant when doing a booking. Mind you, this is a service lift, so do not have any expectation that this lift is going to be 5-star.

Service was great – we were very warmly greeted by the waiter and were quickly shown to our seats. There were 6 of us, so deciding on what to eat was easy. We could order a variety ! I quickly ordered a bottle of Laurent Perrier champagne to kick start the dining experience. Choosing dishes to pair with the bubbly then becomes easier.

Without much further ado, let me introduce you to our starters:-

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Greens with truffle oil dressing. Interesting

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Can’t really remember the schmancy-fancy name, but pretty much it is baby octopus dish. Not bad.

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Ahh, my favourite. Mussels in Arrabbiata sauce. I even had to asked for extra serving of bread to dip the sauce with! Definitely a must have!

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Beef Carpacio. Standard.

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Bruschetta with duck meat, if I’m not mistaken. Interesting combustion of flavours.

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Like a meat ball, but it is not. But I was told it is one of the chef’s recommendation so we tried. The texture of this “meat ball” tasted like octopus meat. Recommended.

We quickly moved on to our mains which consist of a selection of pizzas and pastas.

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This has to be my favourite pizza – prawns with rockets and pine-nuts !

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Seafood wrap.

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Crab meat linguine – to my disappointment, it was a tad too salty for my liking

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Risotto – thumbs up! Great flavour, great texture. Perfect!

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Another pasta – but was also a tad bit too salty.

All in all, it was a great dining experience. Ambience is casual – not intimidating. Service crew is amazing. They are very helpful and even offered us complimentary dessert when they noticed how little we touched our pastas.

It would be a great venue to host a small party – be it a birthday, hens or stag night. Food is pretty stellar I must say, however, you don’t really get much of the KLCC view. However, if you are looking for a romantic dining experience, we would strongly encourage you to try out Cantaloupe instead. Strato is perfect if you are looking for a simple, no-fuss dining experience with your family and friends.

Buy this dining experience as a gift ! 

8th March 2014 : The Day Our Heart Died A Little

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When our national carrier MH370 went missing in the wee hours of 8th March 2014, we can’t help it but to feel sad, distraught and frustrated. As minutes turned to hours, and hours to days – the whereabouts of the passengers and crews on board MH370 is still unknown. Whilst there is nothing much for us to do, we can only pray and hope fervently that everything will be alright. As we are writing this blog, we can’t help but to shed a tear or two – and of course like many, we rummage through our thoughts on what might have happened to MH370. Many speculations were made in time of crisis as such, but we hope this will only keep Malaysians united as ONE and pray together as one nation for the safe return of MH370. We believe in miracles – and miracle do happen. 

#prayformh370 

Omakase : “I’ll let the Chef decide”

As mentioned in my previous post, Kuriya has definitely won a spot in my tummy. Food there is not only fresh but quite simply amazing. I love omakase dining – because I do not need to think of what to order. The Chef knows better – since he is clearly aware of what is fresh for the day and what most importantly, what he feels like cooking on the day!

So I went for yet another dining at Kuriya on New Year’s Eve. (yes, I was there for xmas eve and I’m there again for NY’s eve) This time I invited few good friends to join me in this omakase discovery journey. After all, it is through omakase dining that you know how good the chef really is.

Without much further a due, please allow me to tantalise your palate with these divine, scrumptious dishes that I had to bid 2013 goodbye and usher in 2014.

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My personal favourite? It has to be the tempura-styled Alaskan King Crab. I’m never a big fan of tempura-based dishes, but this, holy-moly is simply to die for! The meat is soft and extremely sweet that I remember digging out every last bit of the meat.

The wagyu beef shabu-shabu – another must try dish. Don’t be tricked by the clear brown broth in front of you – for when it comes to a boil with all the vegetables and the beef – the soup is OH-LA-LA! Now, don’t take my words for real. Go try it – buy this dining experience for yourself or get someone else to be the guinea pig (and ask them about their dining later!)

Writer’s Rating:

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Buy this experience for someone as a gift! 

No Turkey, please!

Christmas came and went. We are well into 2014 and bade 2013 farewell. Unlike many other christmas, this year, I decided not to have any turkey for my christmas eve dinner. Turkey are so over-rated (even though it is a norm to have them during xmas – but I beg to be different and I can have my turkey any other time I want to and not on the xmas of 2013).

So when Frankie called up and proposed this xmas omakase meal to us, I was intrigue. Japanese meal for xmas eve dinner. This is going to be interesting, I thought. So without much qualms or thougths, I agreed to spend my xmas eve with Kuriya. Located on the 3rd floor of BSC (okay, anything within the Bangsar vicinity, always gets a bonus point from me, since I loathe getting stuck in traffic and Bangsar is conveniently 20 minutes away from where I stay, so it’s perfect!) next to Twenty-One is a Japanese restaurant by the name of Kuriya. “Kuriya” also means ‘aristocratic kitchen’  – a kind of kitchen found only in the homes of the nobles; a place where dishes are prepared exclusively for important guests.

Kuriya in-house chef, a pleasant down-to-earth guy, Mr Nakagawa Takashiro, whom I am pleased to make acquaintance with at the later part of my dining experience. Freshness is of absolute importance to the restaurant so fresh produce are flown in twice a week from Japan. For oyster lovers, the gigantic Miyagi oysters are to die for! They are almost as big as my palm ( no kidding!) and they need to be chewed at least 5-6 times before it is ready to be digested, unlike your normal oysters, which are pretty much small enough to be swallowed immediately once it enters your mouth.

I arrived with an open mind – not expecting anything christmas-sy for my xmas dinner – but yet, I’m pretty darn sure that turkey will not be in the menu tonight. Service is always top-notch, especially with Frankie around. He is this tall 4-eyed chinese guy,  (now, please do not go harass him) and he is always eager to serve and explain to you each course in detail.

So, here’s the list of dishes that made it to my tummy on that fateful 2013 xmas eve night :-

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Rather impressive presentation with a hint of xmas.

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Wowser ! Yet another winning dish!

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This ladies & gentlemen, is to die for!

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Ahh…always love a bow!

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Another 3 serves of this yummy dessert please! Dragonfruit custard w caramelised honey ?

Kuriya has made it to my top 5 restaurant for the year of 2013. And perhaps 2014 too.

If you know of anyone that loves to eat, especially Japanese food, why not send them this dining experience as gifts? At least you don’t have to worry about getting them the wrong, inappropriate gift or another useless down-the-rubbish-chute or hand-it-down gift!

Writer’s rating: 4 ribbons

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Buy a dining experience from Kuriya as a gift!