Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The New Has Come (Tai Thong Mooncakes) and the Old On the Way Out (XO and Tawa Durians)

Tawa Durians

I intend to have a last dance with my beloved durians before they ride into the sunset. Hmmm.... I am going to miss them until the next season.

The Tawa was sweet, bitter, gummy and the smell, mind you it is corrossive and pungent. It is extremely dangerous for the uninitiated. I guess many full-blooded Malaysians fell in love with the durian's smell first even before tasting it.

The XO has a tinge of Cognac and also a slight numbing/biting effect on the tongue. Recommended to be eaten last. Besides, it has all these common denominators that mark the best durians out: Strong smell, bitter, sweet and gummy.
The XO
The Coming Attraction. As for seasonal foods, it is like re-discovering a long lost love. The diminishing returns even while eating it everyday take a slow gradual dip. I will stop when the the sweetness of the cakes turn bitter. That's an overdose! Time to stop until the season returns.

Tai Thong Mooncakes at RM10.50 per piece.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Excellent Customer Service Experience - Giordano HKG

Giordano Macau - near to ruins of the Church St. Paul.

As I was running a post on HK, I remember how efficient the island state is and my trips there had always been pleasant and worth remembering. In fact at one point I considered relocating here. One of the fringe benefits is that HK has great International Schools for young minds and where fees were reasonable in comparison to the inflated ones in Malaysia. My mentor at that time was a Hong Konger.

I remembered the food, sites and the shopping. But most of all I learned not to dilly-dally with Hong Kongers as they have no time to spare. They work fast and think fast. Those from a laid-back culture would not be able to survive here. Misinterpreting this work ethics as rude, brusque and abrupt will not help. The word to describe this characteristic is "Song Fai". "Make it quick" may be the best English equivalent.

HK do have many aspiring international brands. One of them is Giordano. Being international is not just having alot of shops overseas. It is not just the seen but also the unseen: the subtle and sub-conscious interaction a customer has with the brand. Their perception of value and good experience will build customers' loyalty.

I owed this one to HK Giordano for an excellent customer service experience I had had with them a few years ago. It was over a defective jacket I bought in HK but make good with a replacement sent to me by DHL from HK to my KL address. Superb!

--------------------------------------------------
My Letter of Complaint to Giordano
--------------------------------------------------
25th Feb

To: Feed Back
Subject: Defective Jacket

Dear Sir

I bought a jacket from HK052 Capitol and found it defective. The inner pocket base was not sown properly and the bottom of the pocket is torn thus unable to store anything. Stuff will drop to the bottom of the jacket.

Details of my purchase:

Invoice: ____
Date: ____
Time: 19th Feb
Model:___

I expect your esteemed company to correct the situation.

My Name and Address:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Within a week I received a reply and with a few more mails within the day I have everything wrapped-up.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3rd March

Subject: RE: Defective Jacket

Dear Mr. Chin,

Thanks for your message.

We are sorry for the defects on the jacket. Please excuse for any inconvenience caused.

Regarding the jacket you mentioned, I have already got a new one for your exchange. However, would you come back to Hong Kong in the coming future? I hope to find the best method for this exchange.

I look forward to hear from you. Thanks so much!

Regards,
FC
Sales Operation
Giordano Limited
Direct Line:
E-mail:

------------------------------------------
Within the same day I replied
------------------------------------------
Dear Ms FC

I will not be back to HKG until Oct. What do you propose? Can I exchange it in Kuala Lumpur?

Sincerely
Chin

---------------------------------------------
Within the same day FC replied
---------------------------------------------
Dear Chin,

I would send the new jacket to you directly. So, I send to address as below:
__________
__________

Could you also leave us your contact number in Malaysia for me to arrange DHL?

Thanks a lot!

Regards,
FC

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I wrote in with my office phone for the courier service and she promised to alert the purchasing team on this for improvement. On the 5th (Friday) she informed me that the jacket was DHL to me! Got it by the following week.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monday, July 27, 2009

Restoran Seafood Muncourt - Regalia Business Centre, USJ 1, Subang Jaya

Yat Wok Sook
This was one hot and muggy afternoon to enjoy a piping hot dish. The weather and haze were in such rotten shape that could send me into a state of stupor and malaise. Still we needed to eat! A good way to share a good dining experience is to take someone there! I was the recipient of this kind gesture.

The star at this Muncourt Seafood is their Yat Wok Sook (one pot cook all). It uses the steamboat paraphernalia. The contents were fresh grouper fish pieces (plus head) plus seaweeds, yam and some pickle vegetables. The staff will cook and dish out for the customers. The soup was dense: salted with seaweed, a bit of tart from pickled vegetables and given body and density by the yam. How can I described this dish: saltiness which I did not mind and with strong flavours cramped in and I couldn't stop scooping up the soup and digging into the fresh grouper meat. It was very very good! Fortunately Muncourt do have air-conditioning. But still the sweat came but I felt good after that. The soup awakened all my senses.

Yam Bowl was ordinary as it was undercooked rendering the 'bowl' a bit soft
. The contents were well flavoured and tasty.
Curry Pork. Taste Indian with some tart possibly from yogurt or vinegar. I would have enjoyed this dish very much if the cook is less heavy-handed with the salt.
Sweet Potatoes Leaves. Done and sauced just right.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hong Kong and Macau - 5days/4nights Family Holiday

Our customary Dim Sum. What I enjoyed most is they have beefy goodness on their menu.
Hong Kong is pretty familiar to me as I have enjoyed this place over 6-7 occasions. and off course Macau was just a short hop away. My first trip was with my wife in 1995 and later again with wife and son in 2004 while attending a wedding of a colleague in HKG. My son after enjoying the efficiency of the best mass rapid transit in the world and the food of HKG shocked me when he blurted out during a lull while waiting for the MTR, "This is a nice place to live." Once a while he still ask me to take him to HKG for dim sum.

Parking the bodies at the right spot helps. If you are willing to spent RM350 per night you can get a good room otherwise expect very small rooms. Hopefully you don't have to forward and reverse into the bathroom. Meaning no turning around space, albeit some exaggeration on my part here. For those who have children try Novotel. It has a generous child (up till 15) policy. YMCA Hotel is also good - 4 stars. Good size room.

Usually upon arrival I will get an Octopus card at airport counter. Normally just plunked in HKG3-400 then board the train and head to MTR station nearest hotel. Something like our Touch n Go but with plenty more usage. Can reload and pay almost anywhere even mini-markets. Get a refund for unused amount at the airport. Use taxis for shorter trips if you have a more than 2 pax. Make sure you call the driver "see kei kor kor" direct translation "driver big brother." Be careful not to use taxis for cross channel route. You may inadvertently summon a taxi and not understanding the route do a very damaging trip on the pocket.

If shopping and experiencing HKG life-style day and night, I suggests Yau Ma Tei / Nathan Road area. Shop till you drop at Ladies' Market(Tung Choi St.), Temple Street Night Market and some of the toys street.
Early breakfast at any one of their char chan teng.
A kind of kueh kak but using CCF rolls?Walk their streets and shop. My goodness get ready the plastic. Some malls have great bargains. Overall I find that they are customer service oriented and polite.Or dinner at the famous Yung Kee at Wellington Street.Next day make a trip to Aberdeen. Get a boat and mingle with the boat people.Buy a tour if not familiar. The floating Jumbo Restaurant is nearby.Fancy leaving in a boat. Sleeping on a water bed!Repulse Bay - haven for pirates in the 19th century. Well kept place.Head off to Golden Bauhinia Square - historical spot, where HKG was returned to China in 1997.And as the sun sets wait for the lowering of the HKG SAR flag.End the night by spending some time with the stars at the Avenue of Stars. It is patterned after Hollywood Walk of Fame. This pair of hands imprint belong to Jackie Chan.Head out to Macau by ferry and see the famous facade of the Portuguese - Ruins of the Church of St. Paul. More Chinese and Portuguese food. Buy some almond biscuits and shop around the many offers just nearby.Finally the Peak experience. After breakfast take a tram up the peak. A funicular experience.
Many stalagmites rises from the ground. Such is the common scenery in and around HKG. Be prepared to pay HK15,000 (RM7,500) rental per month for a 700+ sq ft apartment built around a MTR station but far from the CBD.
The iconic half oval building that houses Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum and Madam Tussaud's wax figures. You can stay the whole day here with kids around. Esp. good during Dec- Feb cool months.Take a shot with your favourite personality at Madam Tussaud's.One of the richest man in the world with USD26.5 bil. Self-made and ranks number 11th in Forbe's 2008 list of billionaires. Everyone in HKG including children will know and recognised him.Genting's Ripley's may be better than this one!Peak at night!Postscript: For those who like seafood, do not forget to go to Lei Yue Mun Fishing Village. Live seafood in standing and floor aquaria. It may not be a costly outing when one exercise self-control. For those who want to go to Disneyland HKG add an additional day and off course more money.
These photos were put together over the many trips author has made to HKG and Macau. It is doable.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Palace for a Queen - Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, India

This beautiful white marble edifice was built from 1906 - 1921 as a memorial to Queen Victoria of U.K. (1837 - 1901) and Empress of India (1876 - 1901). Now it serves as a museum. It is a top tourist draw as can be seen by the long line of paying patrons. I was lining with the locals until I was spotted by the staff and invited straight into the museum.
This little boy of school-going age was out begging for a living around Victoria Memorial. Starts early and finishes around 4-5 pm. I asked him through an interpreter how much he earns a day. Paraphrasing him, "In one day I can rake (very confidently) in RM5.00. By evening I will be happily home with my family." I found out that home is a small ramshackle hut built with flimsy materials using a wall by the roadside as its back and plastic sheets as its roof.

Thank God that Kolkata has another famous lady. If Queen Victoria was borne to rule, Mother Teresa dedicated herself to serve. She found her calling here in the gutters. I saw an infant being breast-fed by the mother in the five-foot way with their meager belongings in a open space called home. Though she is gone, she had left behind many pairs of hands in the Missionaries of Charity.
Howrah Bridge. Opened in 1943, it was an engineering marvel when it was built across Hooghly River. 450m long with no pylons in the river. It was fully suspended. During peak hours it takes 45 mins to cross the bridge.
View from the bridge. Rivers play an important role in the life of Indians.
And flowers too.
It a simple eatery serving hot naan, prata, and enticing curries. I ate here a few times.
A very quiet morning!
Wholesale market in the suburbs. A huge cauliflower costs less than USD0.10.
Prata anyone? Innovative cooking! Prata placed on the bottom side of the wok to cook:-) I called this "Thinking out of the wok."
Radish by the tri-cycle load.
Mustard seeds. Check out the pods. Once pods are dried, open it up for the mustard seeds, the peculiar tasting and smelling like it or hate it Indian spice.
Potato Patch
Wheat Field
Postscript: Selba came closest in her guess work. Said it was an Indian building! This Victorian-styled building incorporated Mughal (Islamic) features.