The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Monday, 5 October 2015

Clam chowder bread bowl and Italian seafood @ Louie Linguini, Monterey (California, USA)

Going back to our California trip, after a fabulous morning with our friends and a short visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we were hungry for some Monterey-style chowder for lunch. I usually do my research and have a list of food places to eat at whenever we travel, but this particular day was not planned until the night before (due to us getting into Monterey much later than expected and having to postpone our meeting with our friends until the next morning), so I had nothing planned for lunch. Before our friends left us for their camping trip, they advised us to look out for pots of chowder outside restaurants offering free samples so that we could try-before-we-buy. We didn't walk very far from the Aquarium on Cannery Row before encountering a girl serving up samples of hot chowder from Louie Linguini's. We've learnt to make quick decisions whenever we go out with our two kids, as we no longer have the luxury of 'shopping around'. When hubby and I agreed that we liked the chowder, we took a quick look at the menu next to the girl to confirm the availability of variety that were not too expensive, and we promptly entered the restaurant. Louie Linguini had a large dining area, with some outdoor tables, and the harbour views were lovely. The service was great, the menu offered a wide range of dishes, and serving sizes were generous. It was a bit of a novelty eating clam chowder from a bread bowl, but it wasn't our first experience, and while Louie Linguini's clam chowder was tasty, we had a better one the next day (you'll just have to wait for the review for that one). Overall it is a family-friendly restaurant conveniently close to the Aquarium, serving tasty seafood and a good version of clam chowder in a bread bowl.

View of a small part of the restaurant towards the entryway and bar - it looks like there is another dining room over yonder:

Some crusty bread with whipped butter:

Fish & Fries (US$8.95), from the special kids' menu - the 6-year-old loved it:

Hubby ordered the Scampi Linguini (US$20.95), expecting langoustines, but was a bit disappointed when served jumbo shrimps instead. Apparently "scampi" in the US refers to the style of preparation:

Clam Chowder Bread Bowl (US$12.95) - lots of delicious sourdough bread to soak up the yummy chowder:

I needed a caffeine hit by mid-afternoon (still severely sleep-deprived and a little bit jet-lagged), and the cappuccino was so pretty:

I'm glad that Louie Linguini turned out to be not a bad choice.

[Prices above do not include additional taxes and tips.]

Louie Linguini's
Steinbeck Plaza
660 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940
United States
+1 831-648-8500

Louie Linguini's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Seafood galore @ Welcome Seafood Restaurant [Asia City], Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia)

A few months ago, we travelled to Kota Kinabalu for the weekend to attend my cousin's wedding, and on the night after the wedding, my cousin held a dinner for family members at Welcome Seafood Restaurant. This place was massive! The restaurant looked like it occupied the whole ground floor of the building, with a halal section for the Muslims (which has blue tables and chairs) and a non-halal dining area with red tables and chairs for everyone else. Clearly this is a very popular eating establishment, as every single table were taken on that Sunday night, and the red-capped staff were kept very busy. Our group filled up three tables, and I must say that I was quite impressed with how efficiently the place was run, considering its capacity. The dining area was kept fairly clean, and there were sinks equipped with hand soaps stationed at regular intervals for customers' use. The seafood was good - there are water tanks filled with live seafood for you to pick and then you choose how the seafood is cooked. The seafood was fresh and preparation was good. There are also non-seafood items on the menu, and the chicken dish my cousin ordered was pretty good. I cannot comment on the price as I didn't order or pay, but gathering from the reviews online, Welcome Seafood Restaurant is reasonably priced for the quality of seafood and the location of the restaurant. The original restaurant is located in Bundusan, about 10km from the KK city centre, and it is apparently cheaper and less crowded there with better seafood. I wonder if we will have the opportunity to try it out. Anyway, this larger branch is good for big, informal gatherings of seafood lovers, like my extended family.

The large non-halal dining area - looking in one direction:

And the other view of the non-halal area:

Refreshing young coconut juice:

Scallops, in a sweet and savoury sauce:

Sambal kangkung - my all-time favourite leafy greens, and something I always order if I see it on the menu:

I believe this is the Kam Heong Crab, meaning Golden Fragrant Crab, a signature Malaysian-style of stir-frying that incorporates Malay, Chinese and Indian ingredients to impart a 'fragrance' to the crabs. Personally I think fresh seafood does not need spices or heavy sauce which can overpower the subtle flavours of seafood, but this is an often-requested style of cooking seafood in Malaysia:

Steamed Sea Snails - not bad, but not remarkable either:

Fried Calamari - favourite with our boy:

Steamed Prawns:

Welcome Seafood Restaurant
Ground Floor, G-15 - G-18
Kompleks Asia City Phase 2a
Jalan Jalan Asia City,
88300 Kota Kinabalu
Sabah, Malaysia
Tel: +60 88 447 866

Monday, 21 September 2015

Sunday brunch @ Cafe Deco (The Peak, Hong Kong)

A couple of months ago, a friend's father was visiting Hong Kong for a short week, so we took the opportunity to have lunch with my friend Steph, her hubby and her dad at a nice scenic spot in HK: Cafe Deco at The Peak. I first met Uncle C a few years ago, and he has become such a great family friend. He and his family showed us awesome hospitality when we first visited California in 2012, and he did the same again when we went to California again earlier this year to attend Steph's wedding. He visits his daughter often in HK, at least once a year, and we always make it a point to meet up with him whenever he is over in our part of the world. I think it is important to spend more time with older people - be they the parents, older relatives or friends - as we can glean a lot of wisdom from them.

The buffet dishes were spread along one side of the dining room:

We had been to Cafe Deco once before with family, so we knew that it is a good choice for delicious food and fantastic views of HK. Cafe Deco offers only brunch buffet on Sundays, for HK$488 per adult and HK$198 for children over 3. In addition to the buffet spread, we could also order a made-to-order special dish from a selection of seven choices. To be honest, we probably would have booked elsewhere if we had known that there was no a-la-carte option on Sunday. However, the Sunday brunch buffet worked out well, as it gave our group plenty of choices to suit our various requirements and preferences. Cafe Deco is very family friendly, with a nice play area for the young ones and an entertainer on Sundays to do fun stuff with the kiddies. When I was booking our table over the phone, I was asked if I wanted a table near the play area; I chose a window table instead since we would have an overseas visitor in our group. Our kids got to enjoy the play area after they were finished with lunch.

The cold seafood table is always a big draw at any buffet. I loved the oysters:

Some sushi, sashimi and Japanese-style salads:

Hubby's round one:

Sliced baguette, naan, smoked salmon roll and quiche:

One of the made-to-order dishes - traditional chicken congee:

Also from the made-to-order menu, the creamy scrambled eggs on toasted English muffin featured Canadian sustainable sea urchin:

Uni ikura donburi (Alaskan salmon caviar on Japanese rice with sea urchin) looked very pretty:

Some of the dessert spread:

Waffles and pastries with various toppings. Each guest got an ice cream voucher to use at the ice cream parlour, and the ice cream would make a great topping for the waffles:

The play area with the hired entertainer:

There are of course better options for brunch and buffet elsewhere in HK, but Cafe Deco provides a nice dining option at the Peak with gorgeous views of Hong Kong - perfect for bringing overseas guests.

[Prices quoted above do not include the 10% service charge.]

Cafe Deco
Level 1-2, Peak Galleria
118 Peak Road
The Peak, Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2849 5111

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Beauty of Monterey Bay Part 1: harbour seals, the Aquarium, and Dennis the Menace Playground

How I miss the Californian sunshine and blue skies! On our road trip earlier this year from Los Angeles to San Francisco, we stopped for a few days in Monterey to attend a friend's wedding, and also for some sight-seeing around the area. We managed to also meet up with another friend who was our neighbour in countryside Japan for a whole year, and he and his lovely wife were great hosts in the two hours we had together before they had to leave for their camping trip. Alex is a very outgoing person, and clearly rather popular as he was often stopped for small chats with passersby who know him and his family. He hooked us up with a couple of surreys at the local bike rental shop, and we went for a quick ride down the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail to a little cove near Point Cabrillo to check out the harbour seals sunbathing. It was only a short distance (about 1km) but it was enough to enjoy the beautiful air, blue skies and lovely sunshine. Then our friends brought us to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where they are members, so they got us in for free on their guest passes and we only had to pay for one child ticket! Alex and his family then had to leave us on their camping trip, and we are so grateful for their kind hospitality and generosity. The kids were mesmerised by everything they saw at the aquarium, and we wished we could have stayed longer. On our way back to our lodging for the night, we stopped by the Dennis the Menace Playground for the kids to burn off their energy. This playground was awesome! So many fun equipment - a hedge maze, a suspension bridge, and a huge roller slide. A must visit for anyone with kids of all ages!

Riding down the Monterey Bay Coastal Train in a surrey (that's our baby girl's helmet at the bottom of the shot). Alex kindly took on our 6-year-old boy in his surrey along with his 3-year-old girl, while his wife walked along side carrying their baby - we felt bad with this arrangemnet, but she insisted:

This little cove is favoured by the harbour seals for sunbathing:

Beautiful harbour seals:

Walking down Cannery Row to the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

The 28-foot-tall Kelp Forest is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world!

The breathtaking ocean view at the Aquarium:

There is something so therapeutically relaxing about watching jellyfish swim:

The huge Dennis the Menace Playground:

So many kinds of slides:

The playground is part of the El Estero Park complex, which includes the El Estero Lake: