New Year’s Dinner at ‘New York, New York’ at CityLink Mall

We were running behind when it came time for the fireworks show so we had to haul ass down to the Esplanade area without stopping on the way for dinner. Luckily, there’s a ‘New York, New York’ restaurant in CityLink Mall, which you walk through to get to the Esplanade area.

The last time we ate at ‘New York, New York’ it was the DownTown East location and it left something to be desired. I guess it was just what we chose to eat that time though, because our New Year’s Eve dinner was EXCELLENT.

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We started off with an appetizer of dry-spiced spare ribs.

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Then we moved on to our main course! We both had fajitas. My wife had beef and I got the chicken and beef combo (pictured above). They tasted great, and they even came with guacamole. I hadn’t had guacamole in quite a while so that was a nice treat and the strips of beef tasted great!

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Unfortunately we let our eyes get bigger than our stomachs and we weren’t able to finish everything, but hey, it was New Year’s Eve so what the hell? Gotta be a little decadent sometimes right?

The place was packed. We had to wait on a table when we got there. Even so, we managed to get in and out in about an hour. At 10:15 PM we started heading for the Esplanade. It was madness. You’ll see it in the next post. I’m just waiting on the video to finish uploading to YouTube. I recorded the entire fireworks show so it’s taking a bit of time.

Another New Mall, 313 @ Somerset

While my wife and I were walking down Orchard Road over the weekend we noticed that there was another new mall open.  It amazes me how often a new mall opens in Singapore.  I lived in Columbus, Georgia for a while and still have family there.  We also used to go there to visit family when I was really young.  From as early as I can remember up to today, there have only been 3 malls there.  There was Columbus Square Mall.  After that Peachtree Mall opened and after a while Columbus Square Mall shut down due to lack of business.  A few years ago a new strip mall opened up.  I can’t think of the name of it because I’ve only been there three times since then.  It’s a horrible mall anyway.  The store fronts are all outdoors.  You can’t walk around and enjoy yourself and window shop because you’re either in the heat, cold or rain.  That’s beside the point, but I’m pretty sure that design disaster is why Peachtree Mall is still open for business, instead of closing down like Columbus Square did.

Singapore on the other hand opens new malls constantly.  In the year and a half that I’ve been here, four malls have opened: Tampines 1, Orchard Central, Orchard Ion and now 313 @ Somerset.  Those are just the ones I know of.  There have probably been more.  Three of these new malls were designed beautifully.  They’re fun to go to just for the sights and sounds.  They’re interesting to explore.  That’s good, because it entices people to come into the mall and then maybe see something they want to purchase.

313 @ Somerset isn’t one of those malls.  It’s design is boring.  Bland even.  It’s an up and down mall with ugly carpeting and no imagination.  It’s not without merits though.  It sits on top of the Somerset MRT station, so it’s guaranteed to receive high traffic, at least on the ground floor.  The restaurants there look great too.  I saw a burger place I’m interested in trying out.  There’s also Trattoria on the ground floor, which I’ll review tomorrow.

The food court on the top floor is huge, spacious-feeling and packed with food choices.  It’s not as stunning as Ion’s food court, but it’s more appealing, since it feels more cozy, relaxed, and not as crowded.  From now on we’ll be going there, rather than to Ion’s food court.  Eating in Ion is a headache.

We did get to see something really surprising while we were in the food court.  We were walking past their Christmas tree when I smelled something familiar.  It was the sweet scent of evergreen.  I stopped and walked up to the tree and then looked into the branches.  They actually have a real evergreen tree up there!  I leaned in close and took a deep breath.  It reminded me of the woods in Georgia and of Christmases from when I was young.  It was nostalgic I guess.  I was the last thing I expected to find in the food court of 313 @ Somerset.

Kuala Lumpur Trip: Day 2

Our second day in Kuala Lumpur was very fun, but also very tiring.

Our first stop of the day was the Batu Caves.  The Batu Caves are a Hindu temple that has been in use since the 1890s and is still a major tourist attraction today.  It is also still used for worship, especially during the holy festival of [insert festival name here] at the end of January.  This celebration draws about a million visitors over the course of three days.

When you approach the Batu Caves the first thing you’ll notice, likely before you even notice the entry arch decorated with Hindu gods, is the giant golden statue that stands at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the caves.  The thing is huge!

After that you might notice the monkeys.  When we first walked up to the stairs we saw a few hanging off the bars and walking on the concrete because people were feeding them.  As we began to ascend the stairs we realized that there were monkeys everywhere.  Some were fighting, some were begging, a few were playing, and we even saw one pair having wild monkey sex on the staircase handrail.  Ya, really.  Later, on the way down we also saw a monkey snatch a lady’s bag away from her to get the food inside.  They can be pretty mean when you have food and don’t give it to them.

The caves themselves are fairly impressive.  The statues weren’t anything we hadn’t seen already, except for the huge one out front, so we were mostly there to see the caves themselves.  When you get to the top of the stairs (there are 272) you’ll be at the entrance to the first cave.  You descend a short flight of stairs into the first chamber and then, when you’re done looking around, you walk up another flight of steps to the next area.  I wouldn’t quite call the next spot a cave since it’s completely open to the air on top.  It’s very cool to look at though.

What disappointed me about the Batu Caves is that they’re in a serious state of disrepair.  I’m not sure what’s going on in there, but the edges were all littered with garbage.  The lower portions of the walls were also covered with graffiti.  I also noticed that a lot of the small stalagmites within arm’s reach were broken off.  I wonder if they were broken into pieces and sold to pilgrims in the past?  Regardless, it makes the lower portions of the caves look really cheap and filthy.  Don’t let that discourage you from going though.  The upper portions are still really nice.  Click through on the photos for a better look.

Oh, and be careful on your way down!  The stairs are very small and steep!

After leaving the Batu Caves we went back to the guest house we were staying at and relaxed for a while.  Those stairs are tiring!  It had started raining too, and who wants to walk around in that?

After a few hours we got back up and went to Bukit Bintang.  We had no clue what was there, but saw it listed as a place tourists should visit so we stopped to check it out.  It was only a few stops away from Chow Kit on the monorail.  It looks like a small version of Singapore’s Orchard Road.

Across the street from where you exit the monorail is a very posh mall called Lot 10, which was almost completely deserted.  The place didn’t seem all that popular.  I wasn’t surprised.  The stores there all seemed to carry very high end items that most people wouldn’t want to be bothered with anyway.

The one cool place we did see there was Jackie Chan’s tea and coffee cafe.  Jackie Chan must like his tea and coffee with a little kick because there were bottles of Grey Goose vodka lining one side of the bar.  Other than the fact that the place had Jackie Chan’s name on it, the couches you sit on are incredibly luxurious.  The bottom portion is very long, so you remove your shoes, climb up, lean back and relax.  Each sitting area has a set of small tables that swivel so you can arrange them the way that’s comfortable for you.

The mall across the street, called Suleng Wang (sp?) was jam packed with people.  It’s huge too.  You wouldn’t be able to tell from the outside but there are hallways running off from the central area that seem to go on forever.  It was definitely the more popular of the two malls and it was so packed it was hard to walk around without having to constantly sidestep people.  I got the impression it was a popular hangout location.

By the way, what’s up with KFC in Malaysia?  There was a KFC in Suleng Wang mall that was huge and it seemed like there was a KFC at every monorail stop.

On the bottom floor of the main area there was a small manga event for what seemed to be local artists.  There were black dividers set up with manga storyboards on display.  There was a stage with figure cutouts, a case with manga style swords, and booths selling manga and merchandise.  I’ll post more about it tomorrow, including photos of girls in maid cosplay!

We spent about 4 hours wandering around the Bukit Bintang area.  It seems to be a major shopping hub.  We saw another mall that I can’t remember the name of that was full of electronics stores.  If you’re from Singapore, think Sim Lim but with the looks of Tampines 1.

After that, it was about 10pm so we took the monorail back to Chow Kit station where we kicked back and relaxed in the guest house for a while.  We wound up going back out at around midnight for more satay!

More tomorrow!

Banana Caramel Crème Crêpes

Not much to say here.  I just wanted to share the photos and make you drool!

On Saturday night (yes, that was a busy day for us!) our last stop before heading home was Plaza Singapura (another mall).  On the bottom floor there was a small Japanese Food Fair set up.  Well, that’s what the signs called it, but in reality it was just two stalls.  One was selling sushi and one was selling crêpes.

After eating the sushi (which came with free green tea by the way) I had an urge for something sweet and we tried out one of the Banana Caramel Crème Crêpes.  I took some photos while it was being prepared:

What’s missing from these photos is that the batter was first poored onto a flat black metal pan.  I call it a pan but it had no sides.  Perhaps a reader can give a name for it?  After the ingredients were added it was rolled up into a paper and handed to me like an ice cream cone.

The flavor wasn’t overpowering.  I mean, the crème wasn’t exceptionally sweet.  The flavors all augmented each other well and the final product was delicious!  I could’ve eaten another one by myself after the one we shared!