tanjong jara take two.

20 Sep 2012 § Leave a comment

After spending a wonderful weekend at Tanjong Jara back in February, we decided to head back for another trip during the Malaysia Day weekend with the little one in tow, together with another family and their two kids. An early morning flight saw us yawning all the way to the airport, only to be greeted by the unusual sight of a long queue snaking all around the domestic check-in counters at KLIA – at least half of KL must have decided to fly off for a short holiday! Lucky for us, we arrived just as the gate was closing – this meant that we could skip the queue and head straight to a dedicated counter for late check-ins and family traveling with kids!

The 55 minute flight to the Sultan Mahmood airport at Kuala Terengganu was pretty uneventful – the little girl had travelled on a plane before so she had no problems with seatbelts, take-off and landing. We’d earlier decided against booking the airport transfer service from the hotel (which costs RM300 per car per way, gasp!) and hired a cab from the airport instead (RM100 per cab). The one hour drive took us through small towns and gave us a glimpse of the charming East Coast beach, though my girl was more engrossed with reading e-books on my phone rather than the picturesque scenery outside as we journeyed to the resort.

We were greeted with a warm welcome upon arrival at Tanjong Jara, and personally greeted by Ms. Wai Gin, the guest liaison manager that we met during our first visit. Check-in was quick and easy, accompanied with cold towels and a refreshing cup of roselle juice which had my girl insisting that it was Ribena, heh! I had put in a request when I booked the trip for adjoining rooms located near the swimming pool as we were traveling with young kids and not too keen on the long meandering walk from one end of the resort to the other. However, those rooms were also situated near an area that was undergoing construction and apparently, my previous comments in the guest survey regarding ongoing construction after we’d stayed at Gaya Island had been duly noted as we were given an upgrade from the Bumbung rooms I’d originally booked to bigger Serambi rooms which was located away from the noise, and had a connecting door between the rooms. I thought this was a really nice gesture, and I’m impressed that YTL does take their guests’ feedback and requests into account even amongst their resorts. Thank you, YTL!

The resort was running at full occupancy due to the long weekend, but to be honest, I hardly saw other guests except at the pool and during meal times when we were greeted with the sight of a fully packed restaurant. Here’s a tip if you decide to visit during peak periods: do pre-book your table at Di Atas Sungei for dinner – in the words of Chef Ann, the resident menu master, “What’s important is that you get a table!”

The breakfast buffet had a really good spread of food – pastries were baked fresh on-site (do try the croissants), and I happily satiated my cravings for nasi lemak on both days with a huge plate of coconut rice, anchovies, sambal and pickled cucumbers. We could also order off the breakfast menu, and I highly recommend the pancakes with bananas – it’s oh-so-fluffy and light and tastes delightful with the caramelized bananas. My daughter enjoyed it so much she had the same dish two days in a row. As for dinner, rest assured that the food quality was not compromised despite the crowd. The food arrived promptly and the portions were so generous that we could hardly find room for dessert! We had two types of starters and a veritable variety of dishes for our mains. The men enjoyed the butter milk prawns so much that we ordered a double helping on the second night, and other notable dishes were the ‘foo yong’ egg, deep fried calamari (which was served as a starter), sizzling Japanese tofu as well as the chocolate lava cake and deep fried banana fritters with ice cream.

We arrived on Saturday which meant we could bring the kids to take part in the ‘Kampung Life’ activities that was set-up just a few steps away from our rooms. We indulged in coconut juice and delicious ‘apam balik’ while the kids watched in fascination as the monkey climbed the coconut tree to pluck fresh coconuts and tried playing congkak before we headed off to the beach.

The beach is perfect in the evenings as it isn’t too hot and there’s plenty of space for the little ones to run around. There were plenty of little seashells scattered all over the beach, more than enough to keep my girl happy as she went off ‘treasure hunting’ – burying and digging out her little treasures.

I’d also brought along a kite and the weather was just perfect for kite-flying – no effort was needed as the kite was immediately swept up by the strong winds! My daughter was squealing in delight as she watched the kite flutter and fly in the breeze and couldn’t wait to have a go.

On the second day, we headed down to the pool next to Nelayan restaurant. Mummies should take note that there isn’t much shade at the pool side if you go in the afternoons, and it can get quite hot if there isn’t any breeze. I slathered on sunscreen on both myself and my girl and kept her properly covered up. As she was recovering from a cough, I only let her paddle in the baby pool for a short while. She probably found the weather too hot as well as she soon asked if we could go back to the room. The restaurant staff kindly packed our lunch for us and we ended up enjoying a picnic on the daybed in the cool relief of the room instead.

After dinner that night, the staff helped to set up a projector at an open area located near our rooms that looks like it was built for a ‘cinema-under-the-stars’ experience – there were chairs and a raised platform for us to sit on, and we happily munched on snacks that I’d brought along as we watched Shrek 4 – it felt like a personalized experience as we were the only two families there.

The other activity that the kids truly enjoyed was being able to feed the fishes that resided in the big pond located next to the reception. “Mommy, I want to feed the fishes” became an oft-repeated phrase and it was delightful to see them excitedly clutching cups of fish food and exclaiming in excitement whenever the fishes gobbled up the pellets.

The weekend passed too quickly and before we knew it, Monday morning dawned and it was time to pack up after a short early morning, post-breakfast jaunt to the beach. I knew my girl definitely had a good time when she kept on asking me if we could stay on longer when I told her that it was time to go home. As we had to leave the resort by 1.30pm, we didn’t have time to eat lunch and the F&B staff kindly helped me to pack some cheese sandwiches for the kids to eat during the journey from the resort to the airport. We had a wonderful send-off – everyone came out to wave us off – as well as an unexpected gift that was presented to us right before we left: two copies of a photo – one for each family – that the resort photographer had taken of us during the kampung life activity. What a lovely personalized touch!

It was an lovely weekend away, and more importantly, I managed to spend lots of quality time with my little one. We’re already planning another trip back to Tanjong Jara once the upcoming monsoon season has passed; the hospitality that we’ve experienced here surpasses all the resorts and hotels that I’ve visited thus far…without doubt, Tanjong Jara’s charm has truly found a permanent place in our hearts.

[fifty shades of] forty licks.

7 Sep 2012 § Leave a comment

I first heard about Forty Licks from one of my go-to food blogs, Eat Drink KL. If you’re interested, you can find out more about how 26-year-old Tat Wei ended up churning ice cream by reading Eat Drink KL’s blog post (and another one by Pure Glutton on how the name was derived) coz I’m gonna dive straight into a review on the ice cream!

Forty Licks’s current ice cream flavors consists of 2 categories: Normal @ RM25/pint and Premium @ RM30/pint. There’s a choice of Salted Caramel, Pistachio, Earl Grey, Thai Tea, Green Tea and Bandung (a special Hari Raya flavor) under the normal category, while the premium category consists of Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter, Honey with Caramel Swirls and Macadamia, Honey with Dark Chocolate, Caramelised White Chocolate which is a comfortable variety that should satisfy a range of sweet-toothed customers.

Love the pretty, retro-ish logo!

Considering how I always declare that salted caramel anything is good, it was definitely my top choice when I decided to place an order. Forty Licks also sells a sampler pack @ RM40, consisting of 6 random flavors, and I decided to order that as well so that I could try some of the other flavors that the bloggers have been raving about (was keeping my fingers crossed that I would get the Honey with Dark Chocolate flavor!).

Placing an order was easy – I did it via a message through Facebook – and two days later, Tat Wei kindly met me outside my parents’ apartment to pass me the ice cream.

Before I move on with the review, I should add that I’m not a big fan of overly sweet ice cream (if I had my way, all chocolate ice cream would be dark chocolate and dark chocolate only, heh!) so do keep that in mind.

After tasting all seven flavors, I have to say that Forty Licks Ice Cream can easily give store-bought ice cream a run for its money. The ice cream is very smooth and undoubtedly creamy, and there’s a rich decadence to some of the flavors that can only be found in home made ice cream.

Now on to a flavor-by-flavor review:

Salted Caramel: It tasted exactly like how I imagined it would be. Yes, it was just slightly on the sweet side (for me), and after a few spoonfuls, I think I would’ve liked it to have abit more of the caramelized, smoky taste to balance the sweetness but that’s just a personal preference. Overall, it has all the facets of salted caramel – the sweetness and the slight savoury aftertaste. Besides, my little girl sampled some and you know you can’t go wrong when a kid goes ‘mmmm’….

Honey with Dark Chocolate: This was surprisingly NOT on the sweet side. The taste of the honey was very light, almost fleeting, as the ice cream melts pretty fast to leave pieces of dark chocolate melting in your mouth. To be honest, it took me a few spoonfuls to get used to it. Again, personal preference, but I would’ve preferred the dark chocolate to be in slightly smaller chunks as the bigger pieces kinda overpowered the ice cream.

Dark Chocolate: Absolutely delicious. And I’m not just saying that because I love dark chocolate! It’s creamy, yet not heavily so (for example, the chocolate ice-cream at Baskin Robbins is extremely heavy and ‘sticky’, I can hardly finish a scoop without feeling the need to reach for a cup of water), making it easy to devour a whole cup before you realize the damage that’s gonna hit your hips in the days to come…

Pistachio: I’m not a pistachio fan. I honestly find pistachio anything weird, except when it’s in the nut form. This ice cream flavor was a surprise to me – I was initially hesitant to try it, but the more I ate, the more I found myself liking it. There were generous pieces of pistachios in every mouthful I took and the taste definitely grew on me.

Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter: I found this way too sweet for my liking, but then again, milk chocolate is far down on my list when it comes to chocolate so I moved on to other flavors after taking only one spoonful.

Bandung: This is a nice, light flavor with a slight tinge of rose aftertaste that’s not too overpowering. Nice, but probably one of those flavors I would try just once. After all, there are just so many other flavors clamoring to be eaten! (Do note that this is a special flavor for Hari Raya)

Earl Grey: Another lovely flavor – the aroma and taste of the tea were apparent but not overtly so, and it leaves a pleasant aftertaste in your mouth. Very light and refreshing – probably a flavor I would choose after a heavy dinner.

My top three picks after sampling seven flavors? Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate and Pistachio!

Forty Licks will be making its debut at the Plaza Mont Kiara Market on 9 September 2012, so head on over this Sunday to say hello to Tat Wei and sample some of his ice cream!

Alternatively, you can place your order through Facebook: Forty Licks Ice Cream. Go on then, you know you want to…

Edit: After publishing the post, I was asked by a few people: what’s up with the fifty shades part in the title? Well, it’s coz I don’t like vanilla (ice-cream!), heh.

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