Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bad Ass Coffee

Badass Coffee is a pretty decent alternative to the likes of Starbucks or The Coffee Bean. At the time of writing, I've made three visits to the outlet in Tropicana City Mall. The café's mainstay to being a viable competitor to the aforementioned coffee giants in Malaysia appears to be their beans, known as Kona beans that hail from Hawaii. These beans are supposedly among the best in the world, and rare enough that the café sells 2 blends of it, the 100% Kona and the 10% Kona blend, with the latter's beans mixed in with normal imported beans (most likely from Brazil or Africa). 100% blend brews cost roughly twice as much as their 10% counterparts (e.g. espresso, au lait,  cappuccino, etc).

I've given the Au Lait (both 10% and 100%) and Latte a try (don't ask me why they have both on their menu, I thought they were supposed to mean the same thing in French and Italian). Although I'm pretty certain anyone who's had their taste of Melbournian coffee will find this nothing to shout about, I can say that the taste of the 100% blend is rather rich and smooth, albeit a bit bolder than I'd like. Add the fact that they used Australian milk (Farm House) with their brew, and it makes for a rather pleasing taste altogether. As for the 10% blend, I found it slightly too diluted (could be the fact that I had it iced), but it was fresh and free of that sour aftertaste I sometimes get from Starbucks coffees.

The latte didn't really taste much better than the 10% Au Lait, but it was probably better to me because it was hot, and again better than SB and TCB's offerings, probably just based on the milk used.

I haven't tried enough food here to be able give any sort of solid verdict, but I have had the Oxtail Soup on my first visit (which was unfortunately without my camera, thank God for mobile phone cams), which turned out to be pretty good, if a little starchy. I intend to give some of the pastries a try on my next visit.

The café's surroundings are softly lit and comfy with a choice of outdoor and indoor seating, and there's the standard free Wi-Fi connection for the regular netbooker who drops in. The staff are friendly and patient, ask them anything about Badass and Kona and they'll try their best to help you :)

*Those who visit 8 times or more will also be granted a VIP card that entitles them for discounts on stuff bought there, including merchandise.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sushi Tei

Dropped by Sushi Tei on recommendation from my brother one weekend, after his claims that food there was better than the currently (as of this post) ultra popular Sushi Zanmai. The outlet we visited was in Tropicana City Mall, PJ.

We had some of the monthly specials, as well as a couple of our common favourites. First off, the salmon moriawase, comprising a mix of select sashimi slices and lightly seared salmon meat. I found the sashimi here much fresher than Sushi Zanmai's offerings, and almost comparable to that of Kissaten's; excellent for its RM18 price tag.

Another item from their specialty menu I tried was the Spicy Chicken Karage roll. I personally don't consider chicken sushi one of my top choices, but the "Spicy" prefix attracted me, and at RM8, I felt it couldn't hurt. Turns out it's a surprisingly delicious dish, so good that I ended up ordering a 2nd one! The chicken was still warm from the pan, succulent and slightly crispy, and it all blended will with the sesame seed-peppered roll and spicy mayonnaise.

Carol ordered her usual Chicken Katsu Don, and according to her it was also slightly better than the one she had at Zanmai; great news for chicken katsu-don lovers :)

Apart from some sushi and various small dishes off the kaiten belt, I also tried the Chuka Ildari (Baby Octopus) and Chuka Wakame (Frozen Seaweed), which were both fresh and pretty tasty. The wakame was tossed with thin slices of 'cili padi', which I found a little strange, but I had no complaints there :)

Overall, I give Sushi Tei a thumbs-up, and recommend it as a great alternative to similarly-priced sushi hotspots like Zanmai and Sakae.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Kissaten Japanese Restaurant

I had dinner with the family at Kissaten Japanese Restaurant, seems their pork burgers are a hit. Since the restaurant has a fusion-esque theme to it, we decided to try a variety of dishes, from sashimi to pasta to steaks, and of course their renowned pork burger.

The sashimi turned out to be really fresh, something that's pretty rare among local Japanese restaurants - sweet, smooth, and doesn't feel like it was yanked out of a freezer and left to thaw. The miso ramen and gyoza turned out to be pretty standard stuff, taste and presentation-wise, a safe bet if you're not feeling particularly adventurous.

I had the Salted Pork Belly Spaghetti, which I'd say is a simple but nice fusion dish. The saltiness of the meat slices blended well with the lightly flavoured pasta, garnished with seaweed strips and a poached egg sandwiched under the meat. The Wafu Mushroom Burger was served in a manner more like a sizzling steak dinner, and the meat was juicy and tender, albeit slightly saltier than the salted pork pasta (?!) 

The pork burger was really quite good, juicy and tender, topped with egg, salad, cheese and a variety of japanese sauces. The top burger bun even had a Kissaten logo and name stamped on it!

Finished off with a cup of coffee, and it looks like they use illy beans in this resto. The coffee was smooth and not too bold, just the way I like it. My brother ordered a Banana Cheesecake for dessert. The texture was rather pasty, taste-wise it was pretty much like any good cheesecake, except that I couldn't make out any hint of banana! Give this a pass unless you're into plain ol' cheesecakes.

Service was good on the first visit, and the staff were friendly and helpful. This is an overall good restaurant to visit if Japanese fusion and pork dishes are your thing, and if you have a budget between RM30 - 80. I'll definitely be back for more.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rolling With The Semis

This is a little dated, but given the lack of time I've had to really mess around with my equipment, it's good enough I'm not writing an historic article :p

I decided to step up to a mid-range/semi-pro DSLR body after some months playing around with my 500D and learning as much as I could about creative photography. Personally, I don't think I've come to even 1% of the framing and composition skills of the true pros out there, but I'm really enjoying myself with this stuff :)
A big thanks in part to Daniel and Anthony, who've been my sources of advice and support. Dan was the one who introduced me to the world of "L" lenses, and after grabbing my first one on his advice, became infected with what Canon shooters have come to know as the "L-disease" (*chuckles*). I've made a wish-list of all the L-lenses I plan to get, which is, of course, based on the kind of shots I would be taking.

The 7D was an unexpected upgrade for me, as I'd been planning to grab a full-frame DSLR early next year, but I figured that lenses would prove to be a better initial investment, and I should have my next lens before my trip to Africa. Though not a full-framer, I think I can safely say the 7D is no pushover (Read heaps of reviews to back it up). It'll be my main camera for a good long time :) I've sold my 500D since, but I definitely miss it. It was, after all, my first step into the world of photography. I hope its new owner takes good care of it and enjoys using it as much as I did :)

500D - The Ol' Faithful

7D (right) beside her older sister

Sample shot (7D w/EF 85mm lens)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

85mm Pics

I finally got my hands on a Canon EF 85mm lens a few days back. I have to say that the 85cm MFD took some getting used to, but the quality of the shots taken was more than satisfactory in my opinion, for the price of the lens.. Some preliminary shots can be found below. I think this is one lens that'll stick with me for a good long time :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Washed out with hot water?

Uploading photos to the net seems pretty darn annoying when color reproduction accuracy goes all over the place during the file compression process. This is even more obvious on a color-calibrated display. Sigh..

See comparison below:

A photo image on iPhoto and the same one on Facebook. Notice any differences in color?

I thought JPEG compression worked by tossing information on redundant color information and the colors not perceivable to the naked eye (At least on the first level of compression). Annoying.

Stirring the dust

Hello, you familiar place.

I'm surprised Blogger didn't cancel my account after over a year of inactivity, but it looks like there's some cleaning up to do. There might be some purpose for this place yet. Updates will be in soon.

*dust* *dust*

*sweep* *sweep*