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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / taasha

When I was very young my late dad told me about this place where they build model of cities with LEGO called LEGOLAND. I thought that must be the most awesome thing ever. I mean, the whole place full of real LEGO? I thought my imitation pasar malam Lego pieces were pretty sweet, but a LEGOLAND? That must be something!

we got our tickets, here we go, LEGOLAND!
we got our tickets, here we go, LEGOLAND!

Fast forward almost 30  years later, here we are, we have LEGOLAND Malaysia in our own backyard (sort of) at Johor.

I went there twice in the span of 4 weeks, first with a bunch of jokers averaging some 30 years of age, and the second time with my sister, brother, my niece, Haze, and my cousin’s son.

Fun fact: did you know that our first visit would not  be possible in some countries which denotes that adults must be accompanied by children? LEGOLAND at Toronto is one such place, read the news about a 63 year old man passed away without being able to realize his dream of visiting LEGOLAND.

He should have travelled to Johor!

you don't need to act your age when at LEGOLAND
you don’t need to act your age when at LEGOLAND (pics from Winnie)

Getting into the park isn’t exactly cheap. On our first visit we paid RM 300 for 2 pax with a free one night hotel stay at Grand Sentosa in JB from some group buying sites.

If you’re paying normal entrance price, it’ll come to RM 120 per MyKard holder, while Malaysian kids pay RM 90. You do get RM 10 worth of food voucher for every ticket.

Foreigners will have to fork out RM 140 & RM 110 for adults & kids respectively, no food voucher for them. I’m not complaining.

Miniland is the bomb! I think they were shooting Bollywood film
Miniland is the bomb! I think they were shooting Bollywood film

LEGOLAND Malaysia is separated into a few areas, all of which has direct access to the all important MINILAND in the middle. This was what my dad told me when I was a little boy, cities built with Lego bricks!

There were scenes of supposedly famous places from 17 Asian countries. I recognised KLCC and KL downtown area, the Merdeka Square, Taj Mahal (there was couple Bollywood shooting on our second visit!), Merlion statue, Angkor Wat, and more.

more Miniland buildings, I love the way they use bonsai as trees
more Miniland buildings, I love the way they use bonsai as trees

The MINILAND was indeed impressive, I particularly love the fact that they use bonsai as miniature trees too.

There were also train tracks with miniature LEGO train that’s supposed to go around the different cities, but they didn’t seem to be operating when we were there. I sure hope this is not the norm. Malaysia has a reputation of not having good upkeep on our theme parks, but this is supposedly an international brand.

On a sunny day, this area stupifyingly hot. We were lucky that it was a cloudy day on our second visit and hence was able to spend a lot more time there. My advice? Bring an umbrella or a large hat, and ample sun screen too.

Dino Island ride, prepared to get wet
Dino Island ride, prepared to get wet

What my dad didn’t tell me was that LEGOLAND is more than just MINILAND, there are rides!

While not overly thrilling like those you find at more extreme and adult oriented theme parks such as six flags or King’s Island, LEGOLAND strikes a pretty good balance on their offering with decent amount of rides just for kids and others for adults as well as children.

The Dino Island ride is perfect right after going to MINILAND, for this is where you will definitely get pretty wet. I also suggest that you bring a bottle of water and pour it on your friend’s head while going down the big drop for extra kick.

Dragon and Project X roller coasters, thrills!
Dragon and Project X roller coasters, thrills!

There are three roller coasters at LEGOLAND, Project X, one very mild The Dragon for kids, and another for children and adult.

Access to the main Dragon ride goes through the castle, and it was my favorite ride. Due to the children centric nature of the park, these rides are also some of the shortest in wait time, while other milder rides usually have much longer queue.

If you love to be thrilled, don’t miss out on these two rides. My very naughty and rather annoying cousin’s son was pale and all quiet after the rides, it was awesome.

Lego Train, Taasha on Royal Joust, and I scored 40000 on Lost Kingdom Adventure!
Lego Train, Taasha on Royal Joust, and I scored 40000 on Lost Kingdom Adventure!

Another one of my favorites is the Lost Kingdom Adventure, which is basically a laser tag type of ride where you sit and shoot at targets, similar to the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster in Disneyland Hong Kong.

If you want to get higher score, make sure you sit at the front row of the 4 seater cart, otherwise your big friends right in front might block some of your shots.

with my brother, sister, Haze, niece, and my cousin's son
with my brother, sister, Haze, niece, and my cousin’s son

Other attractions at the theme park includes many other rides that are quite mild, driving school for kids and toddlers, boating school thing (always a damn long line), observational tower, kids power tower (pull yourself up, very tiring), fire fighting game, Mindstorm classes (never had the time to do this), and more.

Joyce, Haze, Suan, Winnie, Gary, Shiang & friend
Joyce, Haze, Suan, Winnie, Gary, Shiang & friend

While it is not exactly on the same par with Disneyland (I’ve been to HK Disneyland & Tokyo’s DisneySea), LEGOLAND is still a pretty sweet place to visit and you can easily spend better part of a day there. I imagine the place would look pretty cool at night too, both our visits ended by late afternoon.

If I stay in Johor or Singapore, I’d probably get an annual pass.

websitelegoland.com.my

P/S: Don’t eat the burger there, it tasted like cardboard soaked in meat sauce, I threw more than half of it away despite the fact that I was starving.

This is another one of my go-to curry mee places whenever I’m back to Penang visiting mom. If you love unadulterated Penang curry mee, you would enjoy this one.

kedai kopi new cathay has a pretty good curry mee stall
kedai kopi new cathay has a pretty good curry mee stall

The kopitiam is located by the intersection of Jalan Burma and Lorong Kucing, offering many of your usual suspects when it comes to hawker foods from Penang – laksa, curry mee, char kuih teow, chicken rice and so forth. Parking isn’t usually a huge hassle thanks to the commercial centers right next door, but the shop can be quite a bit busy during breakfast/brunch hours.

yum yum, coagulated blood, loved by my niece too :D
yum yum, coagulated blood, loved by my niece too :D

For only RM 3.50 per bowl, the curry mee comes with cockles, one prawn, tofu pok, coagulated blood (my favorite, of course), a fish ball, and cuttle fish. You get to choose your favorite mee/meehun combination, and have as much of those fragrant and spicy sambal as you want.

I enjoy their almost mee-goreng style cuttle fish as well, brings a slightly different taste to the normal cuttle fish preparation. The prawn’s a bit smallish but hey, it’s RM 3.50.

Overall taste is superb and I’d have it any day. The only thing missing is a couple mint leaves, but I guess you can’t have it all every time.

good old fashion apom, get them fresh and warm here
good old fashion apom, get them fresh and warm here

And since hawker dishes in Penang are usually only 70% of what you get in KL in terms of portions, it make perfect sense to add some apom to the meal while you’re at it. The stall claims to be offering the best apom manis in town and will happily trade 6 steamy hot apom for RM 3.00. These too are yummy especially when consumed piping hot, slightly crispy on the outer layer, and sweet, creamy inside. Try it!

Oh, the steamed otak otak here is not too shabby either. If you’re in Penang, this kopitiam sure is a pretty decent place to visit for breakfast or lunch.

New Cathay kopitiam at pulau tikus, map

Address:
Kedai Kopi New Cathay
Lorong Kucing off Jalan Burma
10350, Pulau Tikus, Penang
GPS: 5.432376, 100.309504

As promised on the Taman Desa Japanese BBQ post, here’s how you spend less than 1/4 the money and DIY some pork bbq goodness at home. An awesome BBQ chicken wing recipe is thrown in as well.

This BBQ was done several weeks ago when my sister and my niece were in KL to get their visa application finalised. They have moved to the states now.

pork, chicken wings, vege, we have it all
pork, chicken wings, vege, we have it all. Kerol & FA working on the grill

pork belly BBQ:

  • buy pork belly from the market, I paid RM 25 for about 15 portions of what you’d get from Taman Desa BBQ place, cut them in squares
  • marinate with half a cup of cooking sake, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 tablespoon vinegar
  • as for sauce, add chopped garlic to Japanese salad dressing (wafu dressing, shoyu vinegar)
  • BBQ on medium heat till cooked
pro tip: soak the satey sticks in water for 5-10 minutes before BBQ to prevent burning
pro tip 2: don’t mix vege in between meat, they have different cooking time
p/s: Haze came up with the recipe and marinated the pork, everyone loved it, need to make more next time

my sister & niece, with a few friends & ex housemates
my sister & niece, with a few friends & ex housemates

awesome chicken wing BBQ:

  • marinated chicken wings (together with drummets) with 3 parts oyster sauce, 2 parts soya sauce, and 1 part dark soya sauce
  • add some pepper to the marinate
  • let it marinate for at least half an hour in the fridge, longer = better
  • BBQ over medium fire, poke the drummet – no juice coming out = cooked

instax pic with my sister, the niece, and me. =D
instax pic with my sister, the niece, and me. =D

Vegetable BBQ:

  • er.. just put them on stick and burn away!
  • add some salt to serve

That’s it, simple and yummy BBQ. The experiment was a success, will have a bigger BBQ party next time!

Asam laksa and curry mee are just two of Penang’s signature hawker dishes. You can find them almost anywhere on the island, and most of the time they would be of pretty decent qualities.

Here is another place you could try if you find yourself on the Pearl of Orient – at Mount Erskine hawker center.

my niece is an asam laksa addict, just like Haze
my niece is an asam laksa addict, just like Haze

The hawker center is situated at the end of Mt. Erskine road, the road most famous for having plenty of graves (hence super congested during cheng beng weekends). Here you will find a dozen or so hawker stalls offering everything from char kuih teow, kuih teow soup, mee goreng, curry mee, asam laksa, oyster porridge, mixed rice, and so on.

penang asam laksa from Mt. Erskine hawker center
Penang asam laksa from Mt. Erskine hawker center

The laksa here is manned by two white haired aunties who certainly knows to keep things the traditional way. The laksa is laden with plenty of vegetable, chili, fish broth, prawn paste, and of course, topped with ginger flower (bungan kantan). It tastes as good as any, and passed my niece’s taste test.

A bowl costs RM 3.50 (but that was over Chinese new year, normal price was RM 3.00 I think)

Penang curry mee, this one with yummy fish ball too
Penang curry mee, this one with yummy fish ball too

When I’m there, I almost always order the curry mee (previous blog post from 2006). Other than the usual ingredients of cockles, prawns, coagulated blood, and tofu, they also throw in a couple home made fish balls into it.

While fish balls is a nice touch that gives the curry mee an extra dimension, the real deal here is their soup and chili paste. Fresh coconut milk based soup (the reason it appears white) with that aroma and kick from the slightly charred chili. Super yum! RM 4 or so. Try it!

map of Mount Eskin, Penang
here’s how you get to mount eskin in Penang

Address:
Jalan Mt. Erskine,
Tg. Tokong, Penang
GPS: 5.450560, 100.302064
Operating Hours: 11am to 4pm 

Nyonya laksa

Seoul Garden at Sunrise Tower is probably one of the very first Korean restaurants in Penang. I remember the restaurant being there as far back as my memory could remember.

In the back of my mind, I had always thought that dining at this type of place would be rather expensive, and at the time, something that my RM 2.20/hr McDonald’s job would never allow me to afford. I was just look at people going in and out while I was flipping burger in the same building.

Seoul Garden, banchan
plenty of banchan (side dishes) as usual

I made it a point that I would visit this place eventually, but little did I know that it actually took over one and a half decade before that happened. Together with Mellissa and my family last weekend, we had dinner at Seoul Garden.

As it turned out, Seoul Garden is just like most of the Korean restaurants I’ve visited in KL. A stove in the middle for grilling meat, a menu that includes all the usual suspects like beef bulgogi, kalbi, sam gye tang (ginseng chicken soup), kimchi soup, pork belly, and so on.

ox tongue, pork belly, and pork bulgogi
ox tongue, pork belly, and pork bulgogi

My brother and sister are both pretty adventurous when it comes to food, but tragically, my mom is a bit too conservative in the same department. Since this is the first time mom stepped into a Korean restaurant, I ordered something that would be a bit more familiar for her, sam giap sal (pork belly, RM 22), pork bulgogi (RM 25), and sam gye tang (ginseng chicken soup). I also ordered so hyeo gui (ox tongue RM 35) for good measure.

sam gye tang korean ginseng chicken soup
Korean ginseng chicken soup

There were about 6-7 types of banchan (side dishes) served with the main dishes we ordered. There was the customary kimchi which was rather potent and tasted pretty good, bean sprouts, vegetable, jelly thingy, green chili, and radish. I thought the banchan tasted just alright, nothing spectacular, but not bad either.

Our first grilled item was the ox tongue. Thinly sliced (about a dozen slices) without any marinate, the grilled ox tasted wonderful. The slight springy texture and the unaltered taste goes very well with just a touch of oil and salt. The pork belly was not overly fatty and came in 5 big slices, I think we had slightly overcooked it as it was a bit too dry by the time we hauled the pieces out of the grilled. Could have been tastier otherwise.

mom, brother, sister, niece, mellissa, and KY
mom, brother, KY, Mell, sister, niece (Ryan, you have a challenger)

Pork bulgogi was pretty good, flavorful though a little salty. However, it does go very well with steamed rice. I always love Korean rice with it’s stickier texture and stronger aroma. The ginseng chicken soup too was a very good dish, the soup had a very strong ginseng taste and the chicken meat cooked to a very soft and tender texture. Mom liked the soup quite a bit.

map to seoul garden at gurney drive

Total bill came to about RM 160. Pretty good deal for 5 adults and a little girl (whom is cute enough to steal some lime light from suan‘s nephew – Ryan), say hello to Taasha! The same meal in KL would easily cost twice as much, though the portion might be 30-40% bigger.

Address:
Seoul Garden
1st Floor, Sunrise Tower,
Gurney Drive
Penang, Malaysia

GPS: 5.439805,100.30815
Tel: 04-229 8705

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