Friday, August 28, 2015

[Review] Kajak-Kajak Korean BBQ Restaurant @ Kuchai Lama, Malaysia

Photo By: Elin Chow
Address: No. 2G, Jalan Kuchai Lama Maju 8, Off Jalan Kuchai Lama, 58200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tucked in a corner of Kuchai Lama streets, you will find a relatively new Korean BBQ restaurant called "Kajak-Kajak". The restaurant offers a wide selection of authentic Korean dishes, including soups, stews, side dishes, noodles, seafood and a variety of marinated and non-marinated meat for BBQ for patrons to choose from.

After hearing and reading all the rave reviews on the internet, my colleagues and I decided to try this restaurant for dinner last weekend. This is not my attempt to review this restaurant, but rather, I am just sharing my dining experience at Kajak-Kajak.

The restaurant features the famous "Locks of Love" at Namsan Seoul Tower with fences for patrons to lock their love locks with their significant half or leave a message for their loved ones.

If you are interested, you might want to grab some wooden plaques and locks from the restaurant's counter. But I am not sure whether they are available for free or for sale.

The restaurant has both outdoor and indoor seating. It is spacious and clean, with grills at each table.

We arrived around 6 pm and was glad that the restaurant was not packed with people. However, it does get very crowded after 7 pm. I would suggest anyone to visit before 7 pm to avoid a long wait.

Upon stepping into the restaurant, we were greeted and seated promptly with menus to scan. We took a long time to finalize our order, but the server was very patient while we scanned through the menu page by page.

Fruit Soju - RM 39.00

There are Fruit Soju, specially made by the restaurant and are available in three different flavors - Ginseng, Apple and Lemon. We did not get to try any of these since no one is interested in Soju. 

We ordered a few dishes from the menu and shared it among the 8 of us. It was fun to try varieties and we were glad that most of the food we ordered was delicious and satisfying. 

While waiting for our order,  free appetizers are served. Unlike most of the Korean restaurants, the restaurant does not offer much side dishes. However, the appetizers are delicious and are refillable for free.

Roll Pork - RM 2.90
Our order was served to us promptly without delay. The first dish that came to our table was roll pork. A single portion (5 slices) of roll pork is not enough to satisfy one person. We ordered 7 portions of roll pork to share among the group of us.

After delivering the meat to the table, a server will come to grill and cut them into smaller pieces for you. The server was very attentive, making sure that the meat will not be left on the grill for a long period of time.

None of our meat was overcooked. They were slightly crispy on the outside but chewy and juicy on the inside. The meat were fresh and did not have an unpleasant smell.

It feels great to be able to enjoy other dishes while waiting for our meat to be served to us. I believe this might be a reason why we did not leave the restaurant smelling like BBQ meat.

Along with the meat, a big bowl of lettuce was also brought to our table. The lettuce was meant to make little wraps with the BBQ meat. We wrapped the meat with lettuce, kimchi and ssamjang sauce and ate it in one bite. It was incredibly fun and delicious!

Chicken BBQ - RM 11.90

Other than Roll Pork, we also ordered Chicken marinated in BBQ sauce. The Chicken BBQ was however, not nothing impressive at all. It was a little sweet, but not salty enough. We actually prefer Roll Pork to Chicken BBQ.

Kimchi Stew - RM 14.90

Kimchi Stew (also known as Kimchi Jijgae in Korean) is a spicy Korean stew made primarily with Kimchi whereby sliced Kimchi is put into a pot with tofu, onions, garlic, egg and are boiled together with water or anchovy stock. The soup is seasoned with Korean Chili pepper paste (known as Gochujang in Korean), which contribute to its distinctive red color.

Served piping hot in a stone pot with a bowl of rice, the taste of the stew is milder than I thought. The soup was bland and not spicy at all. It was nothing like what I have expected or tasted. I actually expected more saltiness and spiciness.

Green Onion Pancake - RM 18.90

Green Onion Pancake (known as Pajeon in Korean) is made from a batter of eggs, wheat flour, rice flour and green onions. A widely loved snack in Korea, the pancake is one of my favorite dish in this restaurant.

The pancake was freshly made and served hot with dipping sauce. I love the smell, texture and taste of the pancake. It was crispy on the outside and chewy in the inside. The taste is just right, savory, but not too salty or greasy. While the size of the pancake is not overly large, it was actually very filling and more than enough to satisfy most appetite.

Special Bacon Wrapped Rice - RM 16.90

Special Bacon Wrapped Rice is a  very popular Korean appetizer whereby pieces of grilled bacon were wrapped around Korean rice and served hot on a toothpick. This is one of the best seller and by far, my most favorite dish in the restaurant too.

Crispy, chewy and soft at the same time, Special Bacon Wrapped Rice is sure to delight most bacon lovers and satisfy anyone's taste buds.

Ginseng Chicken Soup (Samgyetang) - RM 26.90

We also ordered Ginseng Chicken Soup (also known as Samgyetang), which was unfortunately disappointing. Ginseng Chicken Soup is a type of stew whereby a spring chicken is stuffed with sweet rice, ginseng, Korean dates and other medicinal herbs and boiled in a broth until the soup is white in color. Usually a whole chicken is served for one person.

I took a sip of the soup and I was not impressed. The soup was very bland and does not have a strong taste of ginseng. In fact, we did not taste much of the ginseng at all. The taste was simply unappealing for me and definitely not worth the high price we have paid.

It was nothing like what I have tasted before. Some of the Korean restaurants provide a small cup of ginseng wine that can be added to the soup for stronger flavor. Perhaps Kajak-Kajak could consider doing the same too.

Although the soup was appealing, the meat was not too tough or dry to eat. The meat was surprisingly tender and come off the bones easily. So, eating it was not a hassle.

For drinks, we actually ordered Demi Soda to try, which comes in four different fruit flavors - apple, peach, orange and lemon. Among the four, I prefer the orange one. It was a little fizzy and fruity, but not too sweet for my liking.

Outside of the restaurant, there are several hand-painted wall murals which you can take a few photos with.

Set in a very cozy and relaxed open-air ambiance, the restaurant is very suitable for large family and friends gathering. The staffs were very attentive and promptly attended to our needs and requests.

The food choices were overwhelming, portions were acceptable and price was relatively affordable. Our bill came to RM 200 + that night, which we shared among the 8 of us. We have a very satisfying and enjoyable dinner at the restaurant.

In my opinion, Kajak-Kajak Korean BBQ Restaurant is a must-visit, especially for budget-minded Korean BBQ lovers. I will definitely dine in this restaurant again if I have the chance to.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Trip To Taiwan 台湾: Kenting 垦丁 - Shadao Ecological Reserve / Sand Island 砂岛

Photo By: Elin Chow
Address: No. 224, Shadao Rd, Hengchun Township, Pingtung, Taiwan 恒春镇鹅銮里砂岛路224号

Leaving Sail Rock Scenic Area 船帆石, we set off once again to visit the Shadao Ecological Reserve (also known as Sand Island) 砂岛, one of the eight shell beaches along the coast of Kenting. 

Shadao Ecological Reserve / Sand Island 砂岛

Shadao Ecological Reserve ( also known as Sand Island) 砂岛 is an unspoiled environmental protection area containing the highest proportion of shell sand among the eight shell sand beaches in Kenting. The 220 meters long beach is composed of 98% sea shell sand, formed naturally from the debris of seashell, corals and forams caused by powerful waves and erosion over a long period of time.

At the first sight, Shadao looks just like any other ordinary beaches in Kenting. Although the attraction is named the ''Sand Island", it is not actually an island, but rather a small bay area filled with sea shell sand that are so fine that it resembles sand.  

Shadao is one of the many of the many Ecological Protection Areas in Kenting National Park 垦丁国家公园. The beach has been declared as a specially protected area in Kenting and is off-limits to the general public.

Before Shadao was environmentally protected, the sand on the shore was exploited for building materials. A large amount of sand was evacuated by merchants and are used to make jewelries and other decorative items for export to countries like Japan and Hawaii, causing severe damages to the natural environment.

One side of the beach is also a breeding ground for the critically endangered Hawksbill turtles. As a result, many local fishermen illegally lay their fixed net around this area to catch the turtles and other reef species. In order to protect the shore filled with shell sand and the endangered marine species , a large stretch of the beach has been cordoned off and closed off to the public.

It is disappointing that we are not allowed on the beach. We could only enjoy its beauty from afar. There is also a small shell beach exhibition hall located next to the protected area. That is where you will get to learn more about the island, particularly on the formation and preservation of the shell sand. You may visit the exhibition hall if you wish to see and feel the shell sand with your own hands.

The rest of the coral beach next to Shadao is still open to the public. Under the waves, the area is blessed with beautiful coral reefs and rich marine life. The waters is crystal clear and the visibility is excellent, making it an ideal location for a shore dive.

During the day, it is not a surprise to see some people fishing off the rocks. Rock fishing can be particularly dangerous due to the unpredictable nature of the ocean and the rocks. Be careful and mindful as you walk as some of the rocks can be slippery, wet, uneven and often sharp. Falling on the rocks can cause one to suffer from serious injuries.

Shadao is said to be the most beautiful beach in Kenting. Free from footprints and littering, the sand on the island is shiny and smooth.

Hot and humid air, warm sea and the scorching sun. This is how I would describe the weather in Kenting at the time we visited. So, do not forget to apply sufficient amount of sunscreen, wear a hat and drink plenty of water to avoid getting sunburnt and dehydration. 

We visited on a weekday morning and was delighted to see that there was no crowds. The beach is seemingly clean and almost litter-free, which was very appealing. So, please remember bring all of your trash with you before you leave this place. We all have a part to play in protecting and preserving the beauty of our natural environment.

We spent about 20 minutes taking photo and admiring the beauty and quietness of the beach. It was a nice place to stop by if you are on your way to Eluanbi Park 鹅銮鼻公园 in Kenting. With its unspoiled coast and ocean teeming with marine life, Shadao is a really a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of Kenting.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 11D10N round island tour itinerary for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 11 days in Taiwan. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 11 days adventures in Taiwan!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Trip To Taiwan 台湾: Kenting 垦丁 - Sail Rock 船帆石

Photo By: Elin Chow
Address: No.600, Chuanfan Road, Hengchun, Pingtung Country 屏东县恒春镇船帆路600号

Rise and shine! We started the fifth day of our 11D10N Taiwan Trip early this morning. After a simple breakfast, we checked out of Kenting An B&B 垦丁An民宿 in Kenting and set off for our first destination of the day -  Sail Rock Scenic Area 船帆石风景区.

Sail Rock 船帆石

The Sail Rock (also known as Chuanfanshih or Chuanfan Rock) 船帆石  is basically a huge piece of coral reef rock standing a few meters of the shore. From a distance, the 18 meters tall huge rock looks like a sailboat with its sail raised, ready to set off on an adventure. Thus, it is named the "Sail Rock". 

A famous landmark in Kenting National Park, the Sail Rock is the result of a large piece of rock that has broken off from the coastal cliff nearby. The rock has remained standing in the water because it is harder and more solid than the other neighboring coral reef rock. Thus it is able to withstand longer period of marine erosion caused by destructive waves on the sea.

From certain angle, the rock is said to resemble the profile of former US President, Richard Nixon, hence it is also known as "Nixon Head".

We descended a few stoned steps down to the bottom leading to a huge treacherous coral rock formation.

The rocks are sharp, uneven, sometimes damp, and thus, very slippery to walk on. You may sustain serious injuries from slipping or falling on rocks. Thus, please be extra careful and mindful while walking across the rock formations. It will be best to equip yourself with the appropriate footwear too. You certainly would not want to walk your way across in slippers, sandals or even heels.

Small children and people with mobility problems will find walking on the rocks extremely challenging and impossible. 

The weather in Kenting is hot and humid due to tropical climate. Spending a long period of time in the sun can lead to sunburn and dehydration. In order to avoid the dangers of the sun, please remember to apply sufficient amount of sunscreen on your skin, wear a hat and most importantly, drink plenty of water.

Situated next to the Sail Rock, there is also a small and white sandy beach offering a wide range of water sport activities. The beach is a popular snorkeling site as the coral reefs under the shore is rich of aquatic life

For those who are not interested in snorkeling, you can laze and relax around at the beach or take a swim in the warm water. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to visit the beach. Hopefully, we could be back visiting Kenting again soon!

The rolling rock formations, clear blue skies and turquoise sea makes a perfect backdrop for photo shooting. Photo enthusiastic will instantly fall in love with the scenery and enjoy most of their day taking tons of photos at this place.

We also stopped by and bought some fresh fruits from a fruit-drink stand along the road. It was nice to have some ice-cold fruits under the scorching hot sun.

It was sad and frustrating to see the shore littered with non-biodegradable waste, even though there are plenty of rubbish bins around. I guess most people are just too lazy and inconsiderate to care. Please remember to bring all your trash with you before you leave. It is very important for us to keep the seas and oceans clean.

There are plenty of accommodation and dining options across the street from the attraction. Staying in one of these hotels along the street offers stunning views of the sea. The accommodation in this area is similarly priced to hotels found in Kenting Main street. But I believe there are cheaper options if you search around. 

We visited on a weekday and was glad that the attraction was not crowded with local and international visitors. However, the place might be crowded if you are visiting on a weekend. Occasionally, a few tour buses stop briefly to let visitors alight off, snap a shot or two before continuing down the road.

We spent about 20 minutes taking photos around, admiring the beauty and peacefulness of the place. It is a lovely little place to enjoy the sea if you have some spare time.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 11D10N round island tour itinerary for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 11 days in Taiwan. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 11 days adventures in Taiwan!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Trip To Taiwan 台湾: Kenting 垦丁 - Kenting Night Market 垦丁大街

Photo By: Elin Chow

A trip to Kenting is never complete without a visit to Kenting night market (also known as Kenting Shopping Street or Pingtung Tourist Night Market) 垦丁大街夜市. So, after checking into my room at Kenting An B&B 垦丁An民宿, we decided to visit the Kenting Night Market to fill our stomach before turning in for the night.

Kenting Night Market 垦丁大街 

Located on the main road of Kenting, Kenting Night Market is known to be the largest night market in Pingtung City 屏东县, only second to Feng Jia Night Night Market 逢甲夜市 in Taichung City 台中.  The 2 kilometers long street starts from Kenting National Park 垦丁国家公园 and ends somewhere around Caesar Park Hotel 垦丁凯撒大饭店 .

A busy and normal city streets in the day, the Kenting Strip transform into a vibrant night market in the evening. There are plenty of stores and vendors selling the usual tourist souvenirs and accessories, food stalls and restaurants serving a wide array of local and international cuisines catering to all tastes and preferences.

Just like Feng Jia Night Market, Kenting Night Market usually opens around evening time and continues until wee hours in the morning. The entire street bustles into life after sunset with both locals and international tourists, all of whom are eager to try on traditional snacks.

The night market stretches along both side of Kenting road, with hundred of stalls and vendors offering a large selection of local specialties, souvenirs and accessories for visitors to choose from. 

Lined on both side of the street are numerous of stalls selling a range of local snacks, restaurants offering a variety of cuisines - Thai, Chinese, Italian, Korean and European - to satisfy visitors from all over the world, hotels providing different accommodation options, as well as shops selling souvenirs, beach wear, surfing equipment and accessories.

There are also various themed bars and pubs which play loud music across the street. You could simply pick one that suit your taste to have a drink.

Although the hotels located along the street offer convenient access to Kenting Night Market, it can get very noisy at night. Be prepared not to sleep if you are planning to stay in one of these hotels as noise can be a big problem, especially if your room faces the street.

The night market can be especially crowded on weekend and public holidays. We visited on a Tuesday night and thought that being a weekday, it would be less crowded. But we were surprised to see thousands of people swarmed the street of Kenting on a weekday night. 

The night market tends to get more crowded as night falls. Thus, visiting early on a weekday is the best way to avoid the crowds. 

Even though the night market is bustling with both local and international tourists, motor vehicles were seen buzzing away within the packed street, so watch out for traffic. We have constantly watch out for motor vehicles (especially scooters) coming in from both direction while we eat our way down the street. It was annoying, but also a very interesting experience.

Be prepare to queue for good food at the popular stores during peak hours. But I believe good food is always worth waiting for. 

Being a seaside town, the main highlight of Kenting night market is seafood. Simply pick whatever you want to eat and have it cooked fresh on the spot. A few of the local specialties of this market include grilled squids, oysters, clams, soft-shelled crabs, sweet potatoes mini balls and many more. 

However, comparing with Feng Jia Night Market, prices of food are slightly more expensive here. Even so, Kenting Night market is still a great place to try some delicious local snacks at a relatively affordable price.

It takes us about 30 minutes to walk through the night market in one direction, and then back. We spent about 2 hours walking up and down the night market, buying and trying out various local street food.

Just in case the numerous roadside food stalls does not satisfy your cravings, the 24-hour 7-eleven and Family Mart convenience stores located along the street are great places for late night snacks.

Be sure check out Kenting Night Market if you are in Kenting City. This night market is certainly worth a visit and will not disappoint you.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 11D10N round island tour itinerary for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 11 days in Taiwan. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 11 days adventures in Taiwan!