Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Restaurant: Max Gourmet - Gurney Plaza, Penang

I have eaten here a couple of times now prior to going to the cinema at Gurney as the restaurant is conveniently located opposite the cinema on the 6th floor. It is a cafe style place serving a spread of Chinese and Indian food with the emphasis on Hong Kong cuisine.

Most of the main course dishes are priced around the RM 10-12 mark and they also serve a variety of quick snacks at about half that price. There is also quite a good variety of soft-drinks on offer at around RM 5.

I ate there again yesterday and had a very tasty Indian style fish-fillet and vegetable curry with steamed rice. For RM 11 this was really very tasty indeed and very filling. Vegetables in the curry included okra, aubergine, green beans, onion and green peppers. The sauce was of the thinner Northern style but was rich and not too oily as some places can be.

The fish and vegetable curry.

This shot is from a previous meal with barbequeued pork and rice.....

... and a very nice chicken and vegetable noodle dish.

Max Gourmet is, as I have said, more of a cafe for a quick meal than a restaurant for romantic dinner for two or venue for a special celebration. If however you are catching a movie at Gurney or even out for a spree of shopping and fancy a pleasant enough quick meal it's well worth a visit and at RM 15 for a meal with a drink is about the same price as a large Starbucks Frapp!!

Event: Mean Machines - Auto City, Juru (15 & 16 October)

For lovers of motor shows and all things related this event is the biggest in the Northern region with a declared mission to "To create a platform for car lovers to gather and share their passion".

More information is available from their Facebook Pages here and here but will include:
  • Modified Car Competition
  • Antique Car Display
  • Supercar Showcase
  • Superbikes and Choppers Show
  • Airbrushed Scooter Competition
  • After-market Car Accessories and Performances Exhibition
  • New and Concept Car Showcase
  • Miss M2 Beauty Queen Search
  • Car Club Showcase
  • Drifting Demonstration

Promises to be a great event which I intend to go to. Kicks of around 12 mid-day and goes on until late. More information on their Facebook pages.

Mobile Phone: Local SIM / Locked handset

This is an addendum to a much earlier post and is in issue which I too faced upon arrival in the UAE but completely forgot about here.

Essentially, please bear in mind one thing. In certain countries mobile phones may well be sold/provided 'locked' to a network provider if bought with a plan or in some cases on Pay As You Go (PAYG). Not so in others and not so for some phones bought on PAYG. For instance, an iPhone sourced in France, the UAE or Belgium will be 'network unlocked'. If your phone is locked you will not be able to insert a local SIM into the phone and get it to work. An easy way to check if your phone is SIM locked before you arrive is to just pick up one of the countless PAYG SIMs that many countries and insert it in the phone. If it works, you are already unlocked.

In most cases your home country mobile service network provider will be able to provide you with a SIM unlock code if you explain that you are travelling overseas and need to use a local SIM. In many cases you also have the right to demand that code, especially if your phone is 'out of contract'. Bottom line, if you plan to use a local SIM in your mobile when you arrive, check it is unlocked before you come, and do it early as some providers take up to two weeks to provide the SIM unlock code.

Ordering Car (Toyota Vios): MM2H

This is a fairly short and simplistic post as I found the whole process, at least up to now, very simplistic also. As you can see from earlier posts I decided to opt for a Toyota Vios rather than something big and thirsty like the Honda CRV or Accord, cars I was seriously considering. Why? Usage. In Penang my needs will be very limited, runs to the malls, hawkers, Georgetown and maybe the odd beach trip. Rest of the time, sat on a car park. So I opted to spend less on the car, less on road tax, less on insurance and less on fuel when I use it. Another reason I opted for Toyota over Honda is the 10,000 km versus 5,000 km service intervals. YMMV.

I dealt primarily with Toyota in Penang, out at Sungai Penang (8 Jalan Jelutong, 11600 Georgetown), and their very helpful Mr Chin Soon Fatt (HP: 012 400 2288). The Toytoa showroom there is big and combines what looks like a very large service and repair centre. When I visited I was able to test drive any car I wished and the test drive of the Vios confirmed that it would do the job. Is it a big comfy limo? No. Does it do what I want? Yep.

The ordering process was a real piece of cake. Toyota Malaysia gave me Mr Chin's details when I contacted them saying that he was their MM2H specialist. It certainly seems to help to have a dealer that knows what they are doing with this from what I can gather as it makes the process somewhat easier. Basically Toyota will handle everything.

Mr Chin called at my home (I previously e-mailed him a PDF copy of my passport and my MM2H Conditional Letter of Acceptance (CLA)), I paid him an RM 500 deposit and that was it. Toyota also knocked a further RM 1,000 of the price as that was the 'deal' being offered in September. He said that if the 'deal' at the time of delivery was more, they would apply the extra. Total saving around RM 24,000. As soon as I collect the visa next week (been a bit busy and have had the flu) I will send him a PDF scan of the passport MM2H visa page and then they apply for the Stage 1 letter from Ministry (of Finance I believe) and the car gets called over. Anticipated delivery around 4-6 weeks.

For me a fairly painless process, at least so far. All I plan to do when the car is delivered to Toyota is get window tinting arranged (40% high quality tint) and also get a 'Smart TAG' (proximity) fitted to it (for the various mainland toll booths). The tint will cost around RM 2,000 and the tag maybe RM 150-200. I can thoroughly recommend this Toyota dealer based on my experience and also Mr Chin who was very friendly, helpful and professional.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Bagan Bar and Restaurant: Trio Menu & Farewell Parties!!!!!!! (Fri 30 Sept / Sat 1 Oct)

My favourite bar and restaurant in Penang closes it's doors in it's current location on Saturday 1st of October. On the both the Friday and the Saturday they are hosting a farewell party at the venue and both promise to be excellent nights.

The restaurant, with food by the excellent chef Lance (you really, really should try his 'Trio' menu before they close the doors if you haven't done so already - fine dining at it's best in Malaysia), will be open on both nights until 10:30pm. Some examples from the trio menu are shown below. These shots are quite rushed I'm afraid as this was a social evening I was out to enjoy rather than to take photos!!! We sampled a 5 course meal which was very reasonably priced (prices will vary depending on dishes selected).

Firstly, three of the starter 'Trio' plates including a selection of blinis (sour cream, lemon and caviar; foie gras and fig reduction; mushroom ragout), scallops (lemon caviar; truffle polenta; beurre-blanc with cream) and a duck salad.

Next up was a delightful chicken and potato dish which was mouth-wateringly good.

This was followed by the mains. Here is the first, a trio of duck, with both smoked and pan seared duck breast. All of it was good but the confit for me was the crowning glory, but I do love confit!!

The second 'Trio' mains selections, this one beef. Beef Wellington, pan seared beef with green bean-sprouts and rib-eye with roast potato. You can also choose lamb, chicken or sea-bass.

Finally, a selection of 'Trio' deserts, from top, clockwise: home made ice creams (the brown sugar one was lush!!!); crepes with orange sauce, ice-cream and mandarin; meringue plate.

Fortunately chef Lance will be at the new Bagan so all is not lost if you don't get to try the 'Trio' concept before Bagan closes but it's worth a visit (open every night except Sunday) if you get chance. After 10:30 on the party nights the focus will switch to the live entertainment from singer Rozz and band 'The Frequency" with the excellent DJ Jey playing the hot sounds of the moment between sessions. Many personal invitations have been sent out already the venue will still accept 'Walk-in' guests, at least so long as there is room!!!! I'm sure both nights will be a runaway success.

While it will be sad to see Bagan close it's doors it will be the start of a new era when the new venue opens at MacAlister Mansion, Georgetown, hopefully around the end of October (more details to follow). In the meantime, sister restaurant to Bagan, the Beach Blanket Babylon bar (Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Georgetown), which shares the same site as the excellent '32 at The Mansion', will host a disco every Friday and Saturday from 7 October, again with DJ Jey, until the new Bagan opens. This will also be very interesting given that Babylon in an outdoor venue, a refreshing change maybe with QEII being the main haunt that offers this semi-outdoor experience. Great when the weather is fine, which is fortunately, mostly!!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Grandeur of Beauty: Straits Quay (3)

Final day of the Grandeur of Beauty event at Straits Quay, hosted by top Malaysian event organisers Intrensionale. This was a big day at the show with the France Taipei bridal gown show with Amber Chia and models from the Amber Chia Academy and also Velvet Productions, a live interview with the lovely Leng Yein (Korean/Malaysian Ambassador for Lafa IPS Cosmetic Solutions) and an excellent make up event (including a superb fantasy element) from Style Flash Beauty and Image Centre. I had and made a number of good friends on this day so, like day one, this one turned out to be a lot more personal for me. It was also busier!!!! Hence the number of pics!!!!

First up, a shot of my friend the very lovely Leng Yein (centre pic), Korean/Malaysia ambassador for Lafa IPS Cosmetic Solutions, who opened the day with an hour-long live interview on stage. The hall was packed for this event which was very well received indeed!!

Having to get this close to beauties like Leng Yein for shots such as this can make for a tough life wink

The next event was the France TeiPei Bridal evening and bridal gowns show with the clothes showcased by stunning models from the Amber Chia Academy including the lovely Shyuan Tan. Let the show commence!!!

My friend and gorgeous model Melinda Lee (Velvet Productions / Amber Chia Academy) - evening gown.

Hot stuff!!! Another stunner from the Amber Chia academy Shapig Tan - evening gown.

Another one of the lovely Amber Chia academy models, Sofia Yeng, poses for the evening gown show.

Few can fail to recognise this shot of the girl herself, Asia's top super-model Amber Chia, here posing during the France Taipei Bridal Gown Show. Despite her status she remains a charming, friendly and sociable person. Other super-models take note ya!!!!

A closer shot of Amber Chia.

A stunning shot of the beautiful Melinda Lee - bridal gown.

Another shot from the bridal gown show - Sofia Yeng from the Amber Chia academy

Following the bridal and evening gown show the next event was the make up show featuring artists from Style Flash Beauty and Image Centre. Prior to the event I grabbed a few shots of the preparation stages. Here, the delightful model Celine Chin remains cheerful and friendly even during the hours of careful preparation.

Models from the Amber Chia academy relax between shoots. Looking like this 'off duty' it's easy to see why they are in demand. Nice people too!!! The girl in the black top facing the camera is Shyuan Tan.

Event organiser Andrew Chan from Intrenasionale presents guest judge for the make up event, Leng Yein, with a certificate.

The Make-Up event then commenced and comprised a fabulous 'Fantasy Creature' component. The talent and skill demonstrated for this event is outstanding. Here, my good friend and Catvoque dancer Inez Siow performs as 'The Headhunter' in the Fantasy Make-Up competition. Make up was by the very talented Evonne Lim.

Guest judge Leng Yein deliberating over the contestants for the fantasy make-up competition.

The gorgeous Celine Chin during the make-up show.

The beautiful Jaymee Lim poses during the make-up show. Stunning!!

The lovely Ambline Tan, another one of the fantasy make-up entrants.

Celine Chin was without doubt one of my favourites of this show. Very photogenic and very pleasant too!!!

Evonne Lim and Inez Siow are awarded 1st runner up in the Fantasy Creature make-up competition. A tough event and a great result!!!

The very talented make-up artist Evonne Lim with Inez Siow.

At the end of a loooong and tiring day a nice meal with even better company at Northam Food Court, Penang. Out with Leng Yein and her friends and colleagues from KL and Penang.

All of the models and artists are in demand here and if you wish to contact any of them for events and such like feel free to contact me by mail and I will sort out their preferred contact details for you. Many more original / publicity shots available on request.

Thank you to everyone for a great 3 days and a great event!!!!!!

Grandeur of Beauty: Straits Quay (2)

These shots are from the second day at the Grandeur of Beauty event. By this time I was starting to come down with the same nasty bug that seems to have affected a lot of people of late (and which was to really knock me for six on Sunday/Monday!!!). The lighting was very poor too, this was rectified the next day with the addition of spotlights for the shoots. A pre-event shot of one of the models from a bridal gown and make-up show.

The two models in this pre-event shot were great fun.

A casual shot of Amber Chia, Asia's top Super-Model, a very friendly and charming person too.

My favourite contestant of from this event, again, friendly and jovial too!!

Another of the contestants.

Final contestant shot.

A shot of the models and make up artists at the conclusion of the event.

Some of the cheerful and friendly models from the Amber Chia Modelling Academy, Penang.

Grandeur of Beauty Event: Straits Quay (1)

Been very hectic over the weekend as I was fortunate enough to be invited to a three day beauty event at Straits Quay Convention Centre between 16 - 18 September. What follows is three posts containing some of the hundreds of pictures I was able to get over the weekend. I also figured it was about time for a splash of glamour!!!!

The main even of day 1 for me was the MetroSexual Hair contest and I was with my good friends Janet Loh, Tommy Chuah, Samantha Wei, Lucas Ng and Caroline Chin. It was a great event with some very talented stylists and several great entries to the competition. The first shot is here the conclusion of hours of preparation for the event with Janet and Tommy putting in the finishing touches to their model Abdul Abrari Khan.

Here, Tommy Chua shows some of the techniques used during the Demonstration Phase.

Good friends from L to R, Caroline Chin, Samantha Wei and Janet Loh.

Events like these tend to attract some stylish and glamorous visitors. This was one of them.

And of course, stylish and glamorous competitors!!!

One of the stylists from I-Trenz and another of the entries to the competition. This team got the third prize.

Tommy Chua from Janet Loh's 'Hang's Place' in Sungai Petani win 2nd place in the competition. I think they should have
got first!!

This team got first place.

A final shot - "The A-Team" biggrin