Kyspeaks.com

Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / nook

Whenever we think of vacations, we often think about sandy white sand, far-away foreign cities, beautiful old temples, or at a waterfall nested within a pristine jungle. Those are “traditional” and in a sense, more ideal vacations, but at the same time they also require a lot more planning, time, and often incur higher expenses.

Enter the recent trend of “staycation”, pick a nice hotel somewhere not far away and spend a couple nights enjoying the facilities, good food, while having someone else make sure everything is clean and tidy.

We spent an awesome 3 day 2 night stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur doing just that a couple weeks ago for a much welcomed de-stressing session. At the end of this post, you’ll find out how to win the same 3D2N de-stress getaway (for 3 winners.)

Aloft KL, lobby and quirky art
Aloft KL, lobby and quirky art

The decoration within Aloft KL is one that is pretty atypical. Lobby is a mixture of industrial presence dotted with quirky art works everywhere.

Right behind the check-in counter is a re:fuel counter that offers ready-to-eat foods such as sandwiches, salads, drinks, coffee, instant noodles, and many other snacks. If you want to have a quick bite, this is a good one-stop center.

To the far right of the lobby, you’ll find the W XYZ bar that offers a selection of draught beer, cocktails, juices, and more. There’re also live bands performing at the area. Have a drink, shoot some pools, enjoy the music.

Mai Bar and Re:Charge gym
Mai Bar and Re:Charge gym

On the top floor there’s a more “serious” bar with a great view of the city.

At night, MAI Bar is lit up by colorful LED lights and offers a full range of drinks and great live performances as well as DJs spinning latest tunes. This is a place to go to shake your booty.

For those who loves to sweat, Re:Charge gymnasium is well-stock with modern equipment. While isn’t exactly big gym by any stretch of imagination, it is well sufficient.

infinity pool on the top floor
infinity pool on the top floor

Then there’s my favorite part of the hotel – the infinity pool on the top floor, right next to Mai Bar.

The pool is some 25-30 meters in length and sufficiently wide enough to accomodate some 8-10 swimmers at the same time if they’re all doing laps. Furthermore, opening my eyes underwater did not sting, I suspect that this is probably due to the fact that they might be using salt water treatment instead of the more traditional chlorine.

In either case, this is a great place to chill.

our room for the weekends at Aloft KL
our room for the weekends at Aloft KL

All guest rooms are equipped with comfortable platform beds, iron, ironing board, bathrobes, coffee maker, 42″ flat screen TV, a sofa, mini fridge, safe, oversized shower, and a workstation. I also particularly like the floor to ceiling windows that takes up the entire wall for an uninterrupted view of the city.

Since we have Haze’s siblings staying with us over one of the nights, we also got the hotel to provide us with extra beds that came in a form of cute little tent thing and a bed with cute bed sheet.

On top of every headboard is also a piece of quirky art work, another nice touch.

breakfast buffet spread at Nook
breakfast buffet spread at Nook

The big restaurant at Aloft KL is Nook, and this is where most foods are served.

Breakfast comes in the form of buffet with pretty decent spread (complimentary for room guests). There’s salad, cold cuts, juices, cereal, espresso coffee, and many local dishes. My favorite was the laksa Sarawak, which had the same soup base with the high end version that was offered during MIGF at Nook.

evening buffet spread at Nook
evening buffet spread at Nook

At night, the buffet spread at Nook gets an upgrade. There’s good selection of seafood such as mussels, prawns, smokes almon, and even scallops. There’s also roast chicken, delicious salted beef that is served with kimchi, salad, soup, cheese, desserts, and many other local and Western dishes.

Nook provides a good selection of ala-carte menu too
Nook provides a good selection of ala carte menu too

Apart from buffet, there is a pretty decent selection on the ala carte menu as well, though you might have to wait a little bit before the food is served.

There’s mushroom soup, steak, cod fish, sandwiches, spaghetti, yee mee with tiger prawns, and many more dishes. These were mostly pretty delicious, though our experience with the steak wasn’t as good as other choices.

kids at play, Aloft KL
kids at play, Aloft KL

Over all, it was a very nice and relaxing stay over at Aloft KL. This whole “staycation” thing is something I can get used to, and hopefully will be doing more.

the ultimate de-stress gataway

OK now here’s a few steps you can do to stand a chance to win a 3D2N stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur

  • like MyStarJob Facebook page www.facebook.com/MyStarJob
  • go to MyStarJob Facebook  app Ultimate De-stress Getaway Contest
  • take a photo of how you de-stress in the office
  • Fill in your details and upload your own Ultimate De-stress Photo in office
  • Share and get your friends and family to vote for your photo
  • Vote for your photo. Participants can vote once per photo per day

how do you de-stress at work?
how do you de-stress at work?

3 pictures with highest votes will win a 3-days-2-nights stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, so start doing it and hopefully you’ll be the one who wins this “staycation” package! Contest ends on 15th January 2014, be quick!

Adress:
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, 
5, Jalan Stesen Sentral, 
50470 Kuala Lumpur. 
Tel03-2723 1188
GPS3.13295, 101.68619
Emailaloft.kualalumpur@alofthotels.com
Website: www.starwoodhotels.com/aloft
Facebookfb.com/AloftKualaLumpurSentral

Nook at Aloft KL is a pretty funky all-day dining restaurant that serves international and Asian cuisine.

The restaurant set up reminds me of those futuristic movies back in the 80s, little squarish pods that has a bench, chairs, and even come complete with artificial turf. Among the three Starwood hotels at KL Sentral area, this one is definitely the most hip.

Nook at Aloft, playful & hip
Nook at Aloft, playful & hip

Earlier this month, together with a couple other reviewers, we were invited to sample the MIGF (Malaysian International Gourmet Festival) menu at Nook.

MIGF is about bringing the best out of the world class chefs who are already working at the restaurant (instead of one off “import” from overseas). It is about paying a little extra to get a more pleasant fine dining experience with quality ingredients and first class service.

At Nook, Chef Steven Seow flexes his creative mind and came up with this very interesting set of dishes. The festival runs throughout the entire October, 2013 (yes, this blog post is way late.)

smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ
smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ

The starting dish is smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit with pomegranate and yogurt sphere. A two part dish that is served with the soya sauce on the little plastic drip thingy.

The sushi rice is coated with a fine layer of ebiko, and the scallop prepared with method inspired  by umai (a traditional Sarawakian seafood preparation method, I had it over Mabul/Sipadan trip thanks to Irene). Duck confit with yogurt sphere provided a different texture and savoury taste, I particularly liked the bit of fried duck skin on top.

We had Villa Maria Chardonnay from New Zealand to start the dinner. Lovely pairing.

Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde
Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde

Next up was the Sarawak lobster & abalone laksa with organic soba noodle. This was a dish unlike any I’ve tried, a sort of traditional hawker dish meet fine dining.

The soup is sourced all the way from Sarawak to ensure that it was authentic and just right. Lobster and abalone definitely provided a huge dose of luxury to this dish, and I thought the use of soba noodle was a clever touch to lighten up the dish a little bit too. Some of us asked for extra soup cos it was so delicious!

A glass of cold Leffe Blonde went well with this spicy dish.

p/s: the hawker version at Bangsar is one of my favourites.

wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia
wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia

Continuing with the same philosophy, the next dish was Wagyu beef cheek rendang with farm vegetables, archar jelatah, and turmeric coconut rice.

Last I had something similar to this dish was the big lunch box at EEST, Westin back in 2009, and this definitely brought back the memory. The beef cheek was superb and as per Wagyu standard, super tender and flavourful. The turmeric coconut rice carries a nice and not overly strong fragrance, with two quails egg sitting on top of some sambal should you want to spice it up a bit.

Red goes well with beef, so we had Madfish Chiraz from Australia to wash down the meat.

Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang
Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang

Concluding the dinner was another playful invention by Chef Steven Seow – the 8 treasure ice kacang. Basically shaved ice with 8 different ingredients such as lychee, blackberries, nangka, peanuts and so forth with 5 different syrup served on the side in syringes. Mix and match it the way you want and be responsible if you ruined your own dessert.

We had fun with this but my advice is to mix it up quick cos the ice tends to melt and create a hardened outer layer if you spend too much time taking photos.

me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL
me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL

The menu is priced at RM 280+ per set for what you see here. The version without alcohol is RM 180+ per person, and for those with smaller stomach, you can go light for RM 160+, which exclude the wagyu dish but does come with a glass of Chardonnay. Every set comes with coffee or tea too.

I’d want to check out Nook’s normal menu too.

Aloft KL map

Address:
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
No 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.13295, 101.68619
Tel: 03 2723 1188

I’ve always been a bit of a reader, from trivial wikipedia articles to ESPN sports analysis, and of course, books. This is how I spend my one hour or so LRT rides everyday.

Reading beats standing idle looking at strangers that slowly became nameless familiar faces over the months, reading also beats listening to music in the train unless a better way is found in to deal with my spontaneous dancing/karaoke sessions on public transport property.

Barnes and Noble Nook
my ebook reader – the Barnes and Noble Nook

I was one of the earliest adopters of ebook. In fact, back in 2003 I had a little Sony Clie PDA that I used to read on. The tiny screen displays pretty crisp colors, but suffers from the drawbacks of having relatively small memory, and rather miserable battery life. It was tough to find ebooks then too.

Then came the age of smart phones, I tried reading on my phones with mobipocket and so on but gave up eventually. The screens were too small, and LCD with back light was never kind to the eyes.

Many argues that physical book is best and that nothing beats the feel and smell and whatever, but I disagree. Book is good, but ebook readers with e-Ink technology are awesome. How about being able to store thousands of books in your hand, with built in dictionary, and weigh only as much as a typical book? Of course, there are more features too.

Barnes and Noble Nook, size comparison

Since most ebook readers use e-ink screens from the same company (and they are awesome, you can read under direct sun, battery life lasts over a week), choosing a reader for me became a slightly harder task.

After quite an extensive research, I narrowed down the choices to Kindle and Nook, and finally I got myself a Barnes and Noble Nook Wifi model, and this is why:

  • reads ePub (the most popular ebook format, lacking in Kindle), PDF, HTML, and graphics
  • has a webkit browser (like firefox/chrome) and wifi access
  • based on Android and has a community built firmware at Nookdev.com (with other open source apps too)
  • 2 screen design with color touch screen at the bottom for navigation
  • ability to add microSD card to extend the 2GB built in storage (Kindle doesn’t allow that)
  • plays MP3, comes with 3.5mm universal stereo phone jack
  • user replaceable battery
  • relatively light at 320 grams or so (less than half the weight of an iPad)
  • relatively low price at US $149

The only problem was well, Barnes and Noble doesn’t ship the Nook to Malaysia, and you can’t buy ebooks directly from B&N without some tricks. But fear not, there are many ways to skin this cat.

I got my nook from ipmart and paid some RM 800 including shipping and a nice leather sleeve. Alternatively, you can also get them via other shop/shipping sites like vshub or USunlocked. If you’re interested in buying ebooks from B&N directly, you can use a debit card with US billing address from services like the one from USunlocked (US $10 to get the card).

There are also free ebooks from the likes of Project Gutenberg as well as some other sources, use your imagination.

Believe it or not, the ebook readers sold at MPH are more expensive, and comes with quite a bit less features than the Nook, terrible.

I’ve had the Nook for about a month now, read half a dozen books on it and only had to charge it 3-4 times so far. The experience in fantastic, and I highly recommend anyone who love to read consider one of these e-ink readers seriously.