volkswagen us

I caught up with the inaugural ‘Volkswagen On Tour‘ brand showcase that took place in Penang last week. We actually went twice coz it was so much fun! Admittedly, the first time was a bit of a short session coz I had to sort out my hotel and other things after I got stuck on the Penang Bridge after running out of gas. Haha!

bicycle popcorn

There is popcorn, test drives, and a play pen for the kids. This all comes at a rather reasonable admission fee – it’s free! Yup, it’s the classic Volkswagen hospitality in action here, which I’ve experienced to my delight on a trip to Germany last year.

polo r wrc
The Polo R WRC that just won the FIA World Rally Championships 2013

Volkswagen On Tour‘ will literally tour the entire nation – there are 13 stops all over Malaysia, so it’ll be coming to a place near you soon! It’s an invitation to everyone for an exclusive brand experience right at your doorstep.

volkswagen tour penang

It’s a lot of fun, I managed to catch the press conference where Ms Petra Schreiber (Director of Marketing & Communications, Volkswagen Malaysia) was holding court and fielding questions from the media.

driving gti simulator

I went back again the next day. I wanted to collect all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that forms a coaster. There are a lot of activities you can do at the ‘Volkswagen On Tour’ roadshow – my favorite being the Golf GTI simulator.

gti simulator

This isn’t something that you can get to see in arcades – the setup is so realistic that your *entire bucket seat* moves and you really get thrown around a bit if you drive into gravel beside the virtual track at high speeds. I know people who set up expensive steering wheel and pedal combos to play racing simulation games at home.

driving simulator

Prepared to be blown away! You’ve never seen anything like this. There are even pistons to move your seat around the 3-screen immersion Golf GTI simulator – you really get the exhilaration of driving on track that I actually flinched when I made a fast and tight corner. :)

gti puzzle

You get a piece of the puzzle that forms a coaster after you experience each station.

popcorn challenge

There is another interesting one called Popcorn Challenge which uses a clean source of energy (namely, you) to power a popcorn machine. A stationary bicycle is hooked up and your kinetic energy from pedaling the bike makes the corn pop.

popcorn

You can have the satisfaction of eating the popcorn that you’ve just made with your own energy after that too!

shout out loud

There is also an interactive station called Shout Out Loud where you can rally four (4) people to speak into each of the microphones at each corner of a model city to light it up. The louder you are, the more intense the blue light becomes.

think blue wall

It’s a brilliant way to showcase their ‘Think Blue.’ philosophy which is all about fuel efficiency and educating the public on carbon emissions for a sustainable future, as well as how Volkswagen is applying it to their award-winning automotive technology for a better tomorrow. Guess which one is the message we wrote?

ISOFIX

There are exhibits where you can familiarize yourself with Volkswagen’s advanced safety technology like their range of child safety seats and ISOFIX (child seat anchor). This would be of interest to parents with small children or people who’re planning to have kids!

kids station

There is a place for kids to learn and play too, which is great for parents with small children. The kids can have age-appropriate fun and learning while you get your own fun and learning in…test driving the latest Volkswagen models!

test drive

It’s the most popular station so remember to sign up early while you wait your turn.

volkswagen test drive

There’s also a ‘Volkswagen On Tour’ photo contest where you can snap a photo of yourself with a complete coaster puzzle.

interactive stations

You can get each piece of the puzzle by going to each of the stations (Popcorn Challenge, Test Drive etc) and after you’ve completed it, the redemption counter will give you a free gift for completing all the stations.

Volkswagen On Tour

You just need to post a photo of yourself with the complete coaster with the #VolkswagenOnTour hastag on either Instagram or Facebook and tag @VolkswagenOnTour or the Volkswagen Malaysia Facebook page respectively (remember to follow the accounts first) and stand a chance to win one of nine prizes, including an extended two week test drive with any of your favorite Volkswagen models!

coaster puzzle

It’s really a lot of fun for the whole family and you get to experience the latest (and eat some popcorn you made with your own energy while you’re at it).

volkswagen tour schedule

We had a blast and we’re looking forward to the Selangor stop of the tour! ‘Volkswagen On Tour‘ will be heading to 13 locations nationwide between now till March 2014. Get more details about the stop nearest to you at www.volkswagenontour.com.my.

musang king tambun biscuit

This is probably one of the most interesting coffee I’ve ever had. It’s durian coffee and my dear got it for me on our trip to Penang last weekend. I’ve had kopi luwak (civet cat coffee) twice in Indonesia before but this 4-in-1 (the other being powdered durian) instant coffee appeals to me coz I love durians.

durian white coffee

It comes in gold foil packaging and has a wonderful nose. It’s like nothing I’ve ever had. The durian taste and flavor is so intense you can practically taste it. I guess that’s the point, eh? Haha! I can easily drink two cups of this, a wonderful find by my better half.

tau sar pneah

We also got lots of Tambun biscuits (heong pneah) and tau sar pneah for relatives and friends and one of the more interesting finds was one filled with Musang King durians.

musang king biscuits

It comes in a pack of 12 and retails for RM 7.20. This is supposed to be the first ever in Malaysia – Tambun biscuits double filled with Musang King durian pulp. It tastes really good, if you like durians.

white coffee biscuits

There’s also different flavored tau sar pneah (which I guess doesn’t make it tau sar pneah anymore, since “tau sar” translates to red bean). Coffee is one of my favorites. There’s a lot of manufacturers in Penang nowadays, the old school ones made with lard and the newer ones that’s halal to appeal to a broader market.

durian tambun biscuits

We made several trips to buy these and I pronounce them good! It’s been a while since we’ve had these! :)

1. Lorong Selamat Char Kueh Tiaw

lorong selamat

I had wanted my better half to try this, since she’s never had it before. It’s legendary for its 1 hour wait and when we were there the crowds were out in force!

crowd

There were no empty spots on tables and people had to stand in clumps beside diners to wait their turn.

plates queue

I was told that it’ll take longer than 1 hour based on the plates and there’s a rule about having to sit down before you can order. The price now has sky-rocketed to RM 10 per plate too! My dear didn’t want to wait and we went opposite the road to eat…

2. Curry Mee

curry mee

It’s RM 7 per plate and the guy told us he has run out of prawns so I think we paid RM 5. It’s still not too bad, loaded with pig’s coagulated blood and the broth is delicious! I wanted to go to the Lorong Seratus Tahun one but I couldn’t find it.

However, we did manage to find…

3. Sin Kim San banana pancake

banana pancake

I thought this was char kueh kak at first and ordered a plate (RM 6). It turned out that the stall sells banana pancakes.

chinese banana pancake

This was nothing special – just a Chinese interpretation of a pancake with lots of eggs and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. My dear makes *better* banana pancakes.

We did manage to eat CKT at the same place though.

4. Duck Egg Char Kueh Tiaw

I like the one near Pulau Tikus police station but since we’re here, we might as well satisfy the craving for Penang CKT. The duck egg version costs RM 4.50 – half the price of the overrated Lorong Selamat stalls.

duck egg

It was good, but slightly greasy. The prawns were fresh and succulent and there’s a huge helping of lap cheong (Chinese sausage) with it.

We were pretty much full at this point but managed to share a bowl of…

5. Ah Soon Kor Cham Lor

ah soon kor har mee

This is a distinctively Penang dish where you mix Lor Mee with Har Mee. The combination gravy is awesome! Ah Soon Kor is famous for their Har Mee (Prawn Mee) but my dear doesn’t really like it so we ordered the mixture instead.

cham lor

You can see the two different and distinct bases mixing together in the color of the gravy which makes it look like the yin yang symbol (if you squint hard enough ;)). It has lots of interesting goodies like deep fried shrimp and roasted pork belly and I thought it was good. We couldn’t finish it though coz we had so much food.

However, since we didn’t manage to eat the Lorong Selamat CKT I put as #1, here’s a bonus to fulfil the 5 dishes we ate in Penang.

Bonus: New World Ice Kacang Special

new world

I’ve eaten this a lot of times before. I like the tropical fruit mixture compared to the Penang Road cendol. It’s a very popular stall that serves drinks for the New World food court and their flagship costs RM 5.

ice kacang special

There’s atap chee, kidney beans, corn, papaya, bananas and lots of other fruits inside this shaved ice dessert, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

ling hb

It was a good weekend escape to Penang to relax and eat some food. We stayed at Traders Hotel, which cost us RM 800+ (more about that soon – there’s an interesting story behind it) and came back on Sunday rejuvenated.

Scratch that, we actually both caught the flu and fell sick but it’s a good vacation nonetheless! :)

out of gas

It happened just slightly after the toll. I felt the car slowly lose power…I had a sinking feeling that something has gone horribly wrong. I managed to cruise from the fast lane (on the right) across 3 lanes to the emergency lane. It felt like driving a car that was just running on momentum alone!

I realized that I had run completely out of gas. The car would not start at all. It just coughs. We had just passed the toll, maybe 500 meters or so and we’re stuck on the Penang Bridge!

stuck penang bridge

We had driven down from KL early in the morning and didn’t take any breaks except for toilet stops. I had stupidly thought that a tank of gas would be enough to get to Penang and I didn’t really look at the gauge so the massive traffic jam before the bridge was the final nail in the coffin.

I called the PLUS Highway emergency number and managed to get them to send a guy to meet us.

refill petrol

It took less than 5 minutes before a fellow on a motorcycle came up to me. He had a bottle of gasoline so he poured the minute amount (less than 500 ml is my guess) into my petrol tank and asked me to start.

I tried the ignition but the car won’t go – it seemed that there’s too little fuel for it to start.

low fuel

My better half intelligently told me to shut off the radio and air conditioning. I managed to start the car – just barely – after that. I know it wouldn’t last long and I’ll need to get to a gas station soon.

The PLUS representative charged me RM 40 for the petrol and after I willingly handed it over, asked for RM 10kang chi” (Hokkien for labor costs) making the total RM 50. What an opportunist!

8684

I didn’t really mind though coz it would have been worse to be stuck for hours on the Penang Bridge. We managed to use the GPS to find a nearby gas station and fill her up.

ron95

The PLUS dude said he’ll trail us. He never did. We were lucky to make it to the station on that little amount of gas. It was a bit of an adventure though, running out of gas. It’s something that we’ll be talking about down the years – “Hey remember the time we drove to Penang and we ran out of gas on the Penang Bridge?”.

It wasn’t the best start to our Penang trip but it sure was funny in hindsight and it’s a memorable start to our weekend holiday! :)

red prawn durian

This should be called The Hunt for Red October Prawn. Red Prawn or Udang Merah is known locally in Hokkien as “Ang Heh” – it’s a breed of durian only available in Penang – there’s too much local demand (and exports to countries like Singapore I imagine) for it to come down to Klang Valley.

Thus, after 4 meals before 12 pm we finally drove to Balik Pulau (it’s where the orchards for Ang Heh are) where I ran down to stall after stall only to be told the same thing:

There are no Red Prawn durians. The season just ended.

One stall sold his *very last* Red Prawn durian to a customer just before we came.

balik pulau durian stall

I had almost given up at this point when the next stall claimed to have Red Prawn. In fact, there were 4 of these luscious durians.

red prawn penang

Red Prawn is characterized by it’s red colored flesh and small seeds. It’s not bright red like the Sarawakian local ones, although some can have an orange hue, with just a tinge of red, or striped. I paid RM 45 for one durian – it’s RM 25/kg after a bit of bargaining.

ang heh durian

The durian only had 5 seeds!!!

red prawn

That works out to about RM 10 per seed. It was delicious though, definitely worth it for durian lovers. :)

Suanie got another one to take away, this has more seeds and it’s heavier, cost RM 50. There’s also various other Penang-only durians on offer – you can listen to the proprietor talking about it.

Koh Tsu Koon durian

Koh Tsu Koon is also another famous durian strain but I couldn’t afford to part with another RM 50 for a tiny durian, despite it being famed for having miniscule or no seeds at all, which is a running joke about the ex-Penang CM.

udang merah

All in all, it was a good durian hunt – I got to eat Red Prawn and even though it wasn’t as red as what I tasted on a previous excursion, it’s good. It tastes like Red Prawn.

durian udang merah

Sarawak also has a bright red colored durian (as does Penang, which has several). Red Prawn is pretty good, and at that price point, a bargain compared to overrated durian strains like Musang King.

eating red prawn durian

We sapu-ed two out of the four Red Prawn durians left – it was the end of season for that strain, D15 is still going strong though. :)

up wedding

I just came back from Penang! Tim and Aud had their Up themed wedding last night, on the 28th of July 2012 – a date I’m sure will be plenty significant to them for the rest of their lives. :)

up themed wedding

The wedding was held at Straits Quay Convention Center and the place was done up really nicely according to the theme. I really liked the floating house held up by balloons.

tiah couple

It’s actually pretty cool to have a theme like that – there were helium balloons everywhere like in the animated film Up.

tim aud wedding dinner

The food was catered from E&O Hotel and I found the first dish with the ostrich meat really good. Also on the wedding dinner menu is the signature E&O Pe Pa Duck. Gotta love the wedding favors – it’s a mini jar of honey that says “Meant to Bee Together”.

aud tim wedding

I really liked how the couple looks so happy in this photo while pouring champagne.

timothy audrey wedding penang

It’s pretty much like a fairytale wedding in that everything was fascinating and wondrous to behold, since there were bright colors everywhere.

tim aud hb

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Tiah! Here’s to an adventure of a lifetime and may you both grow old loving each other for a thousand years! ;)

meng curry fish head

I was in Penang a couple of days ago and met up with Cheryl and Kah Wheng for dinner. They brought me to Sin Kim San at Macalister Road for a really good curry fish head meal.

sin kim san

Sin Kim San Cafe is this sprawling coffee shop with a wide range of stalls offering everything from monitor lizard soup to peh pah duck. There’s another coffee shop beside it which you can order from too.

curry fish head penang

The curry fish head stall is rather well known among the locals. You can opt for fish slices instead of a fish head and there several other seafood items like squid, prawns and catfish on offer. It’s cooked Chinese style with a really spicy kick ass gravy.

bbq chicken wings sin kim san

We also had an order of the BBQ chicken wings. Cheryl mentioned that this stall used to be manned by a dude with Goku hair but that night, an elderly man took his place. No idea whether it’s the same owner – I put forth the theory that it could be the dad but then again I’m not from Penang so I wouldn’t know for sure. Heh.

bbq chicken wings

The BBQ chicken wings is pretty good too – it’s glazed with honey and the BBQ process doesn’t toughen the meat. In fact, it’s quite tender and juicy.

curry fish head

However, the curry fish head is the highlight of the meal. The prawns we added on came partially de-shelled and there’s also tomatoes and pieces of okra inside. It’s topped with mint leaves and what I really like about it is the fact that it doesn’t have tofu products or other nonsense like that. smirk

sin kim san curry fish head

It’s served in a plastic bowl and our combination costs RM 33 for two. I would prefer using a claypot so it retains the heat but other than that I have no complains. The gravy is superb – thick, sweet and flavorful to the point that you can eat an entire plate of rice with just that.

sin kim san dinner

Penang is wonderful – it’s really a place where good food can be found in every corner. I’ve been there a lot of times and I still haven’t eaten all it has to offer. Hell, I’m half tempted to move there. :)

ghee hiang tau sar pneah

Picture this. We just arrived in Penang and naturally, one of the things you get in Penang is Tau Sar Pneah (red bean baked pastries). I have no idea why it’s spelled pneah, I would have gone with the shorter phonetic pia. Anyway, that is not the point of this.

We followed the GPS to Ghee Hiang but when it cheerfully announced that we have arrived at our destination, all we saw was a brick building – with no entrance that the naked eye can see.

There were a couple of tour buses there though, so I thought we were in the right place. After parking, we realized that we have arrived at the factory itself. We walked in through the back of Ghee Hiang and thus caught a glimpse of how they make tau sar pneah:

tau sar pneah 1

tau sar pneah 2

tau sar pneah 3

tau sar pneah 4

ghee hiang

tau sar pneah 5

Ghee Hiang Tau Sar Pneah has only one small facade for doing commerce – the majority of the floor space is dedicated to actually making the pastries. I thought it was funny though, us waltzing in through the back door for employees and plodding the entire length of the considerable factory to the front to buy the acclaimed Penang delights. :)

penang bridge

I went to Penang over the weekend with Lainey bff to party in the final Freedom 360 in the series of 4 events all over Peninsula Malaysia! This is the obligatory Penang Bridge shot.

foh san ipoh

We headed up at 6 am in the morning – our plan was to have dim sum in Foh San dim sum in Ipoh before doing a slow leisurely drive up.

dim sum ipoh

Mmm…

northam all suites penang

We stayed at The Northam All Suites – an amazing hotel with a huge living area, couches everywhere, a dining table, full sized work desk, his/hers sinks in the bathroom, a jacuzzi and a king sized bed that can probably sleep 3 people easily!

fame penang

Freedom 360 was held at FAME in the famous clubbing district of Penang. I think the entire place is called The Warehouse, but I just call it the clubbing strip. I’ve been there before in ’09 – had a great chillax session at Slippery Senoritas and Cheryl brought us to Soi 11. :)

freedom cool

I remember getting the numbers of several girls though I never called. One of them texted me though. Heh. Other that that, I don’t really remember much from that night. I didn’t drink as prodigiously at Freedom 360 (despite the free flow beer) so I can recall the events a lot better. I remember camwhoring at the entrance coz I saw Lainey do it and it looked cool. I know, it looks crappy now but I swear it looked awesome on the LCD when she took it. T_T

freedom 360 party

FAME was absolutely packed with people during Freedom 360 and I was busting a move at our table so I didn’t take a lot of photos but I got some from the OP:

freedom penang us

freedom penang group

Thanks for an awesome night Angel! I can’t wait for the next round of Freedom 360! :)

agua restaurant straits quay

Agua restaurant is located at the new Straits Quay in Penang. It specializes in Mediterranean cuisine and the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue that well since it sounds like something else in Hokkien. Heh.

aqua restaurant straits quay

I remember the first authentic Mediterranean restaurant I’ve been to – Dion in Melbourne, a Greek establishment where we went to celebrate an ex-classmate’s birthday way back in early 2003. That’s some classic food review action going on there. ;)

agua hb cheryl

I was in Penang over the weekend and made plans to meet up with Cheryl. Straits Quay is a relatively upmarket place by the marina housing designer labels like Versace, but according to Cheryl most people go there for the food. We perused the F&B restaurants listed in the directory and decided to check out Agua.

agua interior

The interior of Agua is decked out really nicely – there are vintage looking paintings on the wall and a long bar to one side. You would expect prices to be exorbitant in a place like this but it’s really quite reasonable – they have express lunch sets starting from RM 22++ and more lavish three course meals for RM 45++.

Starters

pumpkin orange soup
Pumpkin and Orange Soup (RM 14.90)
This is an interesting interplay of flavors – you can literally taste both the sweet pumpkin and the tart citrus in the soup. I love the croutons as well – it’s crunchy and goes very well with the soup.

tomato soup
Spicy Sweet Pepper and Tomato (RM 14.90)
Cheryl opted for this soup so we can share the dishes we have. It’s very spicy and perfect as an appetizer!

hummus
Hummus (RM 14.90)
How can you go to a Mediterranean restaurant and not order hummus? Lainey had this one – it’s off the a la carte menu and the bread tastes very fresh. I like the hummus too – you can just see a sheen of olive oil on it but it’s really healthy stuff.

Mains

fish st tropez
Fish St. Tropez
I reckon this would go perfectly with the red wine I ordered. It’s poached fish in a white wine, cream and mushroom sauce. The fish is soft and a squeeze of lemon does wonders to the taste. I liked the sauce and the sprinkling of herbs on top of the fillets.

mediterranean pasta
Mediterranean pasta
Lainey opted for this one. I didn’t quite like the taste but I’ve never liked tomato based sauces anyway, I’m more of an alfredo kinda guy. It tastes pretty authentic though with just a pure and clean-on-the-palate mixture of tomatoes, onions and peppers.

mustard marinated beef
Mustard marinated roast beef
It is listed as marinated beef roasted and sliced thinly with salad and rosemary potatoes. Cheryl had this for her main dish and I was surprised when I tried it coz I didn’t expect much from the description. The thin slices of beef is very flavorful and slightly juicy. It’s served cold and I think I ended up eating a lot of Cheryl’s marinated roast beef. Tasty!

Dessert

agua desserts
Single scoop ice cream
The girls had a scoop of chocolate and strawberry ice cream. The serving sundae cups are frozen before the ice cream is put in – you don’t put hot food on a cold plate and you don’t put cold desserts in a room temperature cup. Agua understands that and it’s this attention to detail that I like.

figs brandy sauce
Figs in Brandy Syrup (RM 16.90)
I thought they served me the wrong dessert at first – I expected dry figs instead but this concoction topped with vanilla ice cream just hits the spot. The brandy syrup goes very well with the figs.

agua us

The bill came up to RM 156.50 for three and that’s pretty reasonable considering I had wine with my lunch. Agua gets a thumbs up from me – the service is impeccable and attentive and we were there for quite a while, just catching up, and you never feel like you’re obliged to leave. It was great meeting up with you again Cheryl! :)

Agua also has Iberico ham on the menu and their signature dish is the Valencia paella with seafood, chicken and pork. It takes too long to prepare though and we had to drive down to KL after, so we reluctantly opted out of that. However, Cheryl is coming down to KL soon and she was talking about eating at Sanbanto coz she’s heard so much about it.

sanbanto
RM23 instead of RM38.50 for a Double Decker Bacon Cheese Burger + Ice Lemon Tea at Sanbanto Cafe, Redeemable at 3 Locations. Limited Vouchers Available! NON HALAL [40% OFF]

Sanbanto has achieved almost a cult status among porcine lovers in KL. They have their own butchery and their menu is filled with pork delights. I was surfing MilkADeal and I came across this promotion for a Double Decker Bacon Cheese Burger. Sanbanto makes their own patties and it’s a coincidence that the redemption period for this is when Cheryl is coming down so I got one of the vouchers.

Let’s go and try all the legendary pork dishes in Sanbanto Cheryl! :D

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