SFO-SIN inaugural in coach; BRT; Wine Do

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  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA 560 IAD SFO 1452 1750 739 3A
    was
    1594 DCA IAH 1223 1454 73G 2A
    1594 IAH SFO 1604 1825 320 2A

    I got to experience clubs both at DCA and IAD, in this wise:
    so everything was hunky-dory until boarding time for 1594,
    when at the gate we got the news that owing to a malfunction
    in the radar system we were going to be boarding, the gate
    agent estimated, 15 minutes late. He had already boarded a
    wheelchair passenger, but as one eagle-eyed person in our
    line pointed out, he'd then gone ahead and deboarded the
    person. Okay, my spider sense said go to the RCC and change
    my ticket; the helpful agent put me on the IAD nonstop, a
    loss of 400 qualifying miles, not that I need these, and
    gave me a voucher for taxi fare. Out back on the economy,
    where I found a pleasant Ethiopian guy who accepted the
    $77 voucher for an $85 fare (he got a decent tip). We
    spent a pleasant hour gabbing about the role of China
    in the African and American economies, and pretty soon
    I was back inside security with half an hour to taste the
    club's garden vegetable soup (based on a pretty tasty
    tomato broth) and an interesting new soybean and corn
    salad in a very garlicky Italian dressing.

    I wonder why the occasional United flight is stuck way
    far off from all its sister flights. Anyhow, that's the
    way it was, and by the time I'd limped over to D21,
    boarding was half done or more.

    Situated myself in my semi-comfy seat and tried to stay
    awake so I'd be sufficiently fatigued to sleep in coach
    on my longhaul.

    Warm nuts, mostly salty cashew shards and a few squeaky
    almonds.

    A salad with edamame and dried tomatoes, not bad.

    The meal. Shanghai noodles with vegetable pot stickers -
    the noodles were dreadful, gummy, sweet-salty, tasting
    of somewhat over the hill mixed veg. The dumplings,
    filled with cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and tofu,
    were better but ruined by a sweet metallic sauce.

    The other choices were chicken with garlic polenta
    and salmon with rice. I neither saw nor smelled these,
    which meant that they couldn't have been worse than
    what I had attempted to eat.

    A cookie for afters.

    Service was very agreeable, and there were several
    opportunities for Courvoisier, some of which I took.

    The club at the 60s gates was very crowded. Soups
    were loaded baked potato and mushroom brie, both of
    which I've had suboptimal encounters with before. A
    tray of cheese cubes and another of mortadella and a
    kind of chorizo that was quite paprikaful and a bit
    putrid but in a good way.
     
  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Over to the international departures, where I learned
    that there was going to be a party starting around 9.

    The club at the 90s gates offered the usual run of
    cheeses, prosciutto, and some genoalike substance,
    along with loaded potato and mushroom brie soups,
    which I'd had previous run-ins with and so didn't
    bother rousing.

    I found a nice desk to hang out in next to some guy
    dovening in the corner, quietly at least.

    There were these pie things: I had a half piece of
    pecan, which was pretty decent. The others appeared
    to be Key lime, apple, and some chocolate stroozly
    substance.

    Time to go to the gate to see what was what. There
    was already a sizable crowd, largely much better
    dressed than I and with a dignitarylike aspect (I
    figured that's why the front cabin had been zeroed
    out since the flight came up for sale in January.)

    Festive snacks: curry puffs, which I overheard the
    server telling someone was vegetarian; I found a
    nice big piece of chicken skin in mine, good for
    me, perhaps not so for vegetarians; and surprisingly
    juicy chicken satays with a peanut sauce that had
    been unadvertisedly zinged up with mustard.

    Desserts included green tea cake and mango pudding,
    the former not charming enough for me to try, the
    latter undone by tiny perfect dice of crunchy
    underripe fruit.

    Many speeches - dignitaries included the consul
    general of Singapore, the ambassador of Singapore,
    the mayor's office director of tourism, and various
    United and airport officials. I didn't pay any
    attention to any of these.

    We boarded up around five minutes early, each of
    us being issueed a United/Star Alliance billfold
    for the occasion.

    UA 1 SFO SIN 2325 0645 789 27C +2

    This was the inaugural trip of the longest 787
    flight, the longest passenger flight by an
    American-flag carrier, the second longest ever
    flight by an American-flag carrier (Delta had
    Mumbai to Atlanta, 64 miles more, for a while),
    the third longest flight period, and the seventh
    longest flight in history. And with me in coach.
    At least it was reputed to be a good coach seat.

    At each seat: a colorful certificate that
    congratulated us for being passengers on the
    historic trip, adorned with Oscar's grainy
    scanned signature.

    My seatmates were a Chinese kid and this
    middle-aged 6'9 guy who spilled out of his seat
    in every direction - I felt kind of sorry for
    him, as he admitted that uncomfy as this
    appeared to be, it was the best seat for him,
    even business class beds being sheer torture
    for him.

    For me, the seat was perfectly okay, though I
    kept being bumped (mostly accidentally I think)
    by people in the aisle going past. There were
    moments when I wished I'd chosen the window
    seat, and next time I'm in coach on this kind of
    aircraft, maybe I'll do that. The first row of
    Economy Plus on the aisle might be a good
    choice as well from the look of it.

    I didn't take the proffered meal, which was
    announced in the usual curt way, "chicken or
    pasta," instead settling for three glasses of
    red plonk, after which I slept for a good long
    time, totalling 10 out of the 16 hour flight.

    Breakfast came all too soon: noodles or eggs.
    I chose wrong; probably anything I chose would
    have been wrong. The noodles tasted like dirt
    smells and were topped by undercooked frozen
    succotash and a few edamame put there probably
    because the dietician in charge reminded the
    caterers that some protein was necessary. A
    roll whose toughness could be felt through
    its plastic wrap and a fairly standard almond
    cookie, which was undoubtedly the best thing
    on the tray and provided most of my calories.

    In general the service was nothing to complain
    about - the crew did their job efficiently and
    with good humor. They seemed to give a modestly
    preferential treatment to old people, and I did
    get my three glasses (a cup each, so a whole
    bottle total) of wine.

    We landed about on time, got a water salute,
    and parked halfway down the F50-60 pier I
    think it was. There to greet us were assorted
    local officials, a person prancing around in a
    dragon suit, and an animated Max airplane (I
    didn't get close enough to see if it was an
    animatronic or a human in a costume.
     
  3. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Home away from home
    There was no point going in town, as I had
    noplace to go for a good long time, so I had
    the choice of waiting until noon (5 hours -
    but this is not a bad airport to wait) for
    the Cocktail Festival to start up at the
    Duty-Free in Terminal 3 or go early to the
    hotel, where from experience I knew that
    they'd let me use the lounge before checkin
    (and after checkout as well), but my room
    wouldn't be ready until 3 or 4.

    The Cocktail Festival it was. I snoozed (the
    quiet area was not totally full) and did the
    e-mail and dreamed of trying Veuve Cliquot
    Rich, the sponsor of this day. So around
    quarter past 12 I moseyed up to the Long Bar,
    where the cocktail tasting was supposed to be,
    only to find that there was nobody there. A
    not-too-friendly sales agent told me that the
    people hadn't arrived yet and probably
    wouldn't be there until evening! Well, I
    thought, might as well go downtown and find
    someplace for lunch and then take advantage
    of the Conrad lounge, where, as I recalled,
    wine flowed free day and night.

    So off to Ippudo, see below, and then to the
    hotel, which has long been a favorite of mine,
    despite something going peculiarly (but
    amusingly and fixably) wrong almost every
    time. This time, nothing went wrong.

    My room, a corner on the second-to-top floor,
    wasn't ready, so I settled for relatively
    modest digs 6 floors below, because I really
    needed to crash. Okay, it was an American-size
    room. quite big by Asian or European standards,
    nothing to complain about at all, with a nice
    view of the Fountain of Wealth (they seem to
    think I'm a businessman and usually give me a
    room on this side of the hotel, though last
    time with lili I'd got one on the Pan Pacific
    side, maybe because the rooms on the
    businessman side have only one bed). Oh,
    yeah, though the rubber ducky is still the
    same, the Conrad bear has gone from being
    that cute robust cuddly toy to a sad skinny
    fabric one.

    Sad news about the executive lounge for my
    alcoholic friends. It's no longer free booze
    on demand. You get free-flow alcohol only
    between 5:30 and 8. Nonetheless, they gave
    me my obligatory Tiger beer on check-in,
    though they giggled nervously and acted as if
    I were being extremely bold and iconoclastic.
    I've since compared notes with various other
    travelers, and the consensus is that in the
    last year or two both Singapore and Malaysia
    have become substantially more puritanical,
    perhaps Islamist.

    Oscar's breakfast. I had originally been given
    the erroneous news by a young concierge that
    breakfast was to be at the executive lounge,
    rather than the way it used to be, with a
    choice among three locations - the lounge,
    Oscar's, or at the pool level. Further inquiry
    yielded that the same options are still
    available, but as it cost more for them to do
    the more elaborate spread at Oscar's, they were
    not telling anyone about it.

    The lounge breakfast is pretty basic - one or
    two kinds of dim sum, one kind of eggs (though I
    am told you can special order other egg dishes,
    and they'll be brought up from downstairs),
    chicken sausage, bacon, baked beans, a fairly
    good assortment of pastries and fruit.

    At Oscar's you get all of these plus Indian
    and Chinese breakfasts, lots more kinds of
    fruit and fruit juices, plus the famous waffles
    and pancakes and ice cream. I will admit that
    once I took advantaage of this last with a
    scoop each of Swiss chocolate (pretty good,
    what in the states we call chocolate chocolate
    chip) and espresso croquant. Notes: the Indian
    things are pretty decent - I've written about
    how Indian food tends to be a good bet on
    buffets, because it reheats really well, and
    the yellow dal makhni I think it was was almost
    sufficiently spicy. I turnip my nose at the
    Chinese stuff; the one time I had the turnip
    cake it was bland beyond bland. The best things
    I had were smoked salmon (an ugly and careless
    presentation compared to years past), a bland
    but extremely high quality braised tofu in soy,
    and pink grapefruit juice. The worst, chicken
    sausage, chicken siu mai, and gummy vegetarian
    noodles (not as bad as United Airlines coach or
    domestic first noodles, but worse than United
    Airlines business noodles).
     
  4. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Fast food in Singapore
    Things eaten in Singapore. Aside from the hotel
    food, which was abundant, accessible, and free
    (so I had the majority of my calories there), I
    ate at chains about once a day to keep the
    Singapore economy going but not so much. Here
    are three that I hit - all Asian chains, the
    first two having in the range of 50-100 outlets,
    the third I'm not so sure, because its Website
    is hacked and the location link takes me to a
    lonely hearts site, but it's not quite so big.
    Also, all the meals I had had a pasta base, as
    I was cheap, having splurged on the Conrad for
    $125 + 25000 points a night (essentially $250
    a night, but I'm relatively points rich and
    dollars poor); and for protein I relied on the
    breakfast at Oscar's and evening hors d'oeuvres
    at the executive lounge.

    Tai Hing [Changi] is a pretty well thought of
    Hong Kong chain, known for its roast meats and
    noodly things. Accordingly I had noodle soup
    with a side of roast duck. The soup tasted
    like dishwater, but the noodles were though I
    think from frozen pretty decent. The duck,
    a quarter less maybe a couple slices for the
    cook, was inexpertly cut, raggedy, limp-skinned,
    but extremely good tasting, almost competing
    with Yan Toh Heen in Hong Kong last month. I
    seem to recall reading that there are 85
    locations. I'd probably go back, because I
    got very tasty poultry for a moderate price.

    Ippudo Ramen - a Japanese-based chain with 65
    restaurants in Japan and a bunch elsewhere,
    including Sydney, New York, San Fran, Bangkok,
    Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and here. Their standard
    is a pork-bone broth in the Hakata style. I
    discovered that here chashu costs extra -
    what's ramen without roast pork? so I got a
    serving, 4 smallish slices of pork belly (the
    equivalent of 2 thick-cut slices of bacon) for
    $2 extra. The ramen was done hard, but the
    soup was really hot, so by the end of the
    bowl, the noodles were just right. The broth
    had a lot of MSG in it so tasted pretty good
    and cried out for beer, which is kind of
    expensive in Singapore, so I got a Coke (also
    expensive - $2 for a maybe 250 ml can). The
    chashu was decent, nothing to write home about,
    not enough of a fatty layer and a little on
    the fibrous side; it did taste good and was
    necessary to the bowl's integrity. Speaking
    of which, I was going to add a shake of sesame
    seeds to the bowl but discovered that the cook
    had had it his way - premixed in were scallions,
    pickled ginger, pickled vegetable, and way too
    many sesame seeds. If I went back, I'd specify
    what I did and didn't want for mix-ins.
     
  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Tim Ho Wan is said to be the cheapest Michelin-
    starred restaurant in the world [note - as of
    July 2016, that's not so anymore]. It's for sure
    cheap, but Michelin-starred, that is up for
    discussion. For one thing, the stars get given
    and taken away with some regularity - the three
    Hong Kong locations have had a checkered history.
    The original got a star. Then a second opened,
    and it got a star. Then a third opened and got
    its star, but the second one lost its. Then the
    original went out of business (the landlord
    wanted to renegotiate the lease at apparently
    exorbitant rates). Then the little chain started
    to expand, and now it is represented in 10 or
    more countries (SF and NYC in the US) with
    multiple locations in some cities. I went to
    the most convenient one for me, accessible even
    in foul weather without going outside through a
    half-mile of mazy over- and underground passages.
    This one is really unprepossessing, being in a
    strip mall that lines the corridor connecting
    two subway stations, Esplanade and City Hall.
    When I saw it I thought of chickening out and
    taking the tube to another location, but I
    stuck it out and was glad I did. There are
    about 25 items on the menu, plus half a dozen
    drinks, plus beer, which costs more than at
    the hotel. Four of the dishes, pork liver
    vermicelli roll, steamed egg cake, turnip
    cake, and pork buns, are given the monicker
    Big Four Heavenly Kings, which to me translates
    as Big Four Heavenly Profits; nonetheless, who
    can resist pork liver vermicelli roll? So I got
    an order - three medium-size blobs of the usual
    sort with a much more delicate wrapper than I am
    used to, filled with all these little maybe half
    inch bits of liver, each cooked perfectly medium
    rare like little tiny steaks - truly artfully
    done. The sauce was an extremely savory soy-and-
    broth-based thing. I could live on this; it
    was one of the most amazing things I've ever
    eaten; and to think it was found in a corridor
    between two train stations.

    Spinach dumplings with shrimp sounded good;
    when they came, the wrappers were also
    extraordinarily delicate, almost too delicate,
    as their stickiness made it hard to separate
    them from the paper lining of the steamer.
    Inside - odd bits of ground protein that I
    couldn't figure out but decided were tofu,
    pretty delicious steamed spinach, in a
    largish mass, lots and lots of garlic, and
    a small shrimp or perhaps a piece of a
    larger shrimp. Incredible texture and
    substantial satisfyingness.

    One of the specials of the month was lychee
    custard puff: I was expecting maybe a riff on
    the Hong Kong egg tart with bits of lychee or
    maybe just lychee flavoring. What came -
    fresh lychees with the stones replaced by
    egg custard, the whole coated in a very
    light batter and deep-fried. The first,
    piping hot, was a revelation. The second,
    now that I knew what to expect, merely very
    good. The last, having started to cool off,
    pretty decent. I recommend ordering this
    only if you have a party of three! Sadly, I
    discovered later that each city has a
    different set of specials of the month.

    As beer was quite expensive, I had the
    homemade longan drink, which tasted like
    diluted prune juice but was not bad for
    that. It was dark like prune juice, so
    it must have been made either from
    overripe longans or dried ones.

    I was going to hit Din Tai Fung (there
    are 19 of these in Singapore) but was too
    cheap and figured I could get my fix in
    Kuala Lumpur for half the price, and the
    Tim Ho Wan experience was too good to
    forget, and I thought that that even
    the biggest name in dim sum wouldn't be
    able to come close.
     
  6. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    So Din Tai Fung is twice as expensive in Singapore as Malaysia (as is often the case)? Too bad.
    I found a Tim Ho Wan one level above the comp hotel buses in Hong Kong station once when I had just missed a bus and had a two hour wait. Tiny hole in the wall shop that was always full. Good, but not as mind altering as your experience,
     
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  7. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    off to KL

    From the hotel to the airport by MRT
    is 45 minutes and a couple bucks. I
    think the bus is about the same price.
    The taxi, marginally faster at best,
    costs 10 times as much.

    MH 614 SIN KUL 1105 1250 738 2A

    The Malaysia counters were chockablock;
    there's a bank of check-in machines by them;
    wondering why nobody was using them, I
    wandered over the 6 feet to see what was what.
    Turns out that despite the Singapore desks
    being in another aisle altogether, the only
    machine check-in possibilities were Singapore
    or SilkAir. While I was puzzling over this
    Singaporean silliness, speaking of which,
    some SATS guy came up and asked me what
    airline I was flying. I answered in my most
    clear enunciation, Ma-lay-see-an, in the
    Malaysian way. He went, what, what, I didn't
    understand you. So I repeated myself. So he
    repeated himself louder. Eventually I said,
    MH, and he sneered, oh, Malayshan (in the
    Singaporean way) and pointed me to the
    business counter, where I waited five for
    the girl to serve a couple of relatively
    confused customers and then received my
    boarding pass in moments. I think he was
    disappointed that I didn't get kicked out of
    that line, and when I went back to "thank"
    him, he hung his head and wouldn't look at me.
    It was amusing but almost irritating enough to
    complain to SATS about. Makes me wonder what
    other shibboleths I am ignorant of, not that
    I should really care.

    Emigration: two minutes flat counting the line.

    One turns right at the shuttered Golden Lounge
    to get to its replacement, the SATS lounge. I
    was kind of sad, but in truth it's a perfectly
    respectable facility.

    The red wine on offer was Pierre-Jean Cabernet-
    Merlot (Vallee de l'Aude) 15 - it tasted rather
    cheap, and the best I can say for it is that it
    went nicely with Coke. Luckily on my next trip,
    I thought, I will have access to the Silver Kris,
    where the wine might be a tad better.

    With my laksa, below, I tried Michel Torino
    Chardonnay (Calchaqui Valley) 15, which despite
    being over-tropical-fruited was pleasantly crisp
    and went pretty well.

    The signature laksa smelled like sotong busuk,
    but I gave it a try. It tasted pretty good,
    ginger, lime leaves, garlic, a whole lot of chile.

    "Indian delights sambar," tamarind lentil soup,
    was also pretty spicy, a little sour, decent.

    As I had allowed only two hours or so between
    the hotel and the flight, I didn't spend an
    enormous amount of time, and soon I had to
    hustle to the gate, where by the time I got
    there, the security line was pretty long but
    was quick enough.

    The cabin was half full - 6 of 12 (or 16?).

    On the flight, pleasant service, attentive
    but not too attentive. Seats, pretty standard
    - I remember back in the olden days when these
    planes had footstools; the built-in mechanical
    ones nowadays don't have that charm but I
    guess must be deemed safer. The seats
    themselves are fine, and the entertainment
    system, well, I'd thought my headphones had
    gone defective when I'd tried to use
    them on United, but they were fine here.

    The snack was chicken satay, tender but with a
    baking sodaed texture, served with quite good
    peanut sauce that I lapped up rapidly.

    No alcohol, so I had guava juice, which was
    almost as good.
     
  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    As we'd come in on time, there was again no
    reason to hurry, so I spent a whopping MYR10
    ($2.50) for the hour bus ride to Sentral
    instead of MYR60 or so for the 40-min train
    trip to the same place. An easy transfer to
    the #5 Gombak light rail line (MYR 2.70, 67c
    more), and in about 20 I was at Ampang Park
    (Google overestimates the time by double or
    so), where I followed the sign for the
    Doubletree. Guess what? It points in the
    wrong direction, and I had to ask at a
    stall how to get there. They are apparently
    used to this question.

    The Doubletree Kuala Lumpur is the gem of the
    Intermark shopping center, whose construction
    is probably the final nail in the coffin for
    the Ampang Park shopping center, which is more
    a collection of little mom and pop shops, each
    of which now sports a pathetic sign that says
    "PLEASE SAVE AMPANG PARK." Kind of sad. It
    calls itself a five-star hotel, and though I
    was a little sceptical, experience says to me,
    four at least, not quite at the level of the
    big guns in town or around the world, but very
    nice. Plus with the buy four get one free on
    miles you can get five nights at an undeniably
    superior place for the price of one night at,
    say, the Hampton Inn Logan Airport. As I type,
    I have only a few hours left here, but I'll
    certainly be back.

    I was invited to check in at the lounge on 34;
    the pleasant desk agent escorted me up there
    and handed me over to a very suave young lady
    who after some checking said that my room was
    not ready owing to a late checkout, so I hung
    around the lounge a couple hours! drinking
    them out of Schweppes bitter lemon, alcohol
    not being available until 5:30.

    Was the room worth the wait? I guess. Smaller
    than the one at the Conrad but more modernly
    and perhaps more nicely appointed and 1/6 the
    price in points. And, as the concierge pointed
    out, only 100 feet from breakfast and cocktails.

    I was settling in when some guy knocked to offer
    a fruit plate and a pastry plate. The fruit -
    two apples, an orange, and an Asian pear - were
    like rocks and remained inedible for at least
    two and in some cases three days. The pastries
    included a relatively salty and unsweet banana
    cake with 38 layers, I counted them. I can see
    32 or maybe 36, but why 38? It was densely
    spongy, like one of those miracle wipers that
    is thin thin until you wet it, and then it
    puffs up according to how much water you add.
    This was maybe half watered.

    Star anise cookies in the shape of a butterfly
    were also salty and unsweetish and tasted like
    a Chinese grocery store smells.

    There was also a strange coconut digestive
    biscuit that I actually liked.

    After resting and freshening up I toddled over
    for the last half of happy hour. The place was
    chockablock, and it was a while before I found
    a place to sit, near an amusing couple, Allan
    and Mary, Midlanders relocated to India or
    somesuch place. I had my fill of red wine,
    Roberts Rock South African Cabernet-Merlot,
    which I stuck with for the week as it was
    inoffensive and the kind of thing one gets
    used to.
     
  9. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    It's what the market will bear, as my more entrepreneurial
    friends are fond of telling me. And a reason why the
    SIN Do, if you remember those, tried to relocate to KL
    last year (I was happy with this, but apparently the
    noble experiment failed, and it is back to Singapore
    next time).

    More to come on dim sum. Spoiler: Tim Ho Wan in
    KL wasn't very good. Repeat visits to both locations
    are in order to determine which if either was the
    aberration.
     
  10. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    Ah SIN Do, what fond memories :)
    THW is becoming a bit like MacDonalds I fear. seems to be one in every large shopping mall everywhere I turn (just recently ran across one in Bangkok) and DTF also seems to be invading lots of countries. Not a bad thing, but hard to believe that quality control can really be managed with such rapid expansion.
     
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  11. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    My thoughts exactly.
     
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  12. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Over the days I investigated, various snacks,
    some rather odd, that kept changing:

    prawn paste fried in shredded wheat, okay;

    sort of mystery meat in mystery pastry,
    okay minus;

    other Chinese-influenced but modest-tasting
    dim-summy fried or baked pastries, okay to
    good;

    very dense beef meatballs in a brownish sauce
    with some interesting name, but the taste was
    not particularly, okay minus;

    various kinds of samosas, good;

    bao with kaya, quite good and a
    counterexample to my hypothesis that there
    wasn't a steamer upstairs;

    "beef bolognese lasagne" in a cup - quite
    good, actually;

    various kinds of chicken wings, on one
    occasion what appeared to be plain fried,
    on another "barbecued," actually very good
    and reminiscent of the sauce I had at some
    place in Wheaton Plaza, Maryland in the late
    1950s or early 1960s, on yet anoter something
    with a fancy Malay name but tasted like plain
    fried;

    some fishy things, one a day, all of which
    smelled bad to me;

    fruits, of which the watermelon was excellent;
    I was hoping for something more typical, but
    the most native I could find was papaya that
    wasn't as smelly as it should have been; lots
    of rather too hard melon;

    finger sandwiches, not for me;

    various tofu preparations cuted up in Chinese
    spoons - I had one on the first day and found
    it okay but not going well with the wine;

    beef rendang pie, of which I took one and on
    a flyer decided to open up and look at: three
    chunks, two of a good though underspiced chuck
    beef stew, the third a piece of purest white
    suet. I ate the fat.

    Also sweets of native and European styles,
    which I resisted fairly easily, though the
    wild berry panna cotta and the classic
    tiramisu, their words, were tempting, and I
    might have tried one of each if they hadn't
    run out of dessert spoons.

    Not everything every day; though, except
    on Saturday night, when the place was
    overrun by lots of families with lots of
    hungry children, there was plenty of
    choice and plenty of food. Some days I
    didn't partake, depending on the timing
    of my heavy meal out.

    For the first day of Ramadan, an assortment
    of dried fruit, including three kinds of
    dates - one small and round, gooey sweet,
    very freestone; one medium-size, more
    elongated, a little starchy, freestone;
    and the third large and boxy-shaped,
    gooey, less freestone.

    On my last day: pandan pudding, nicely
    scented with that vanilla-like fragrance,
    topped with tiny tapioca balls, and a
    creme caramel that was weirdly bitter
    with crunchy bits of grass jelly-like
    substance on top but eggy enough for that
    to be forgiven. No spoons, so I was
    forward this time and asked one of the
    actually quite accommodating attendants
    for one.

    Booze: Captain Morgan alternating with
    Havana Club, various white spirits
    including I think Beefeater, and
    Ballantine's alternating with Jack
    black. Tiger beer and the
    aforementioned Roberts Rock.
     
  13. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Breakfast could be had either at the
    lounge just a hundred feet from my room
    or down at the famed Makan Kitchen on the
    11th floor. I chose downstairs every time
    because of the variety, and the stuff
    upstairs had no doubt been dumbwaitered
    up from there anyway.

    Stations: Malay, healthy, European, cereal,
    pastry, yogurt, cheese and cold cuts,
    noodle, omelette, soup, cured meat, Indian,
    and Chinese.

    Focusing on the first day, subsequent
    things mostly the same, and I'll mention
    them as I think of them.

    From the Malay offerings there was a fish
    and chile sambal, very strong and salty
    and just the thing to liven up a diet of
    rice upon rice, and a chicken rendang that
    was scrumptious, though light on the
    coconut and on the chile. Coconut rice.

    From the healthy station, some nice ripe
    smelly papaya (there are varieties that
    exude a durianlike odor) and a juice bar
    (orange, apple, guava, and something else).
    Other fruits that I never got around to trying.

    The cheese and cold cut station had only one
    set of tongs for the whole thing, so when I
    tried the duck ham, it ended up smelling of
    but not tasting of blue cheese, not my
    favorite thing. This obtained every day,
    so I avoided it since.

    Beef ham from the sausage and cured meat
    section was ok but not to be repeated.
    There were also chicken and veal bangers;
    I didn't bother.

    As people never tire of saying in their
    Internet reviews, the Indian chef is the
    best of the lot. I believe actually that
    he is the head chef. Recurring: tomato
    chutney, very good. Coconut chutney, even
    more good. Pappadums in the shape of Fritos,
    very good. Spiced uttapams, a bit lumpen and
    starchy, also cold; nonetheless, very good
    slathered with the chutneys. The one-off
    coconut drop doughnuts, I don't know what
    they're called, were pretty good. The first
    day there was a weird spaghetti with tomato
    fish sauce that the jury's still out on. It
    didn't reappear. Each day a potato dish, the
    first masala-ed, probably the best I've ever
    had, but a little salty. Later some goopy
    underseasoned things I didn't bother with or
    didn't note; and a varuval that was pretty
    nice. Sambar, quite good, very lentilly and
    not so sour; I remained unconvinced by the
    big chunks of al dente carrots, green pepper,
    and - horrors - luffa. Chicken curry - very
    good, very spicy. A fish curry that smelled
    unpromising.

    The Chinese section, which is in another room
    altogether, didn't look all that interesting
    except for the carrot cake that was offered on
    the first day. I figured that as it's cheap and
    easy to make, I'd try it another time, having
    gorged myself on the Malay and Indian food
    before finding the Chinese department. Wrong
    choice - it was a one-off. At the counter there
    was a sign advertising roast duck, but there
    wasn't any - the sign must have been leftover
    from dinner. Congee with interesting additives
    - I did try some of these, a mixed pickled
    vegetable, a thin-stemmed kind of cabbage, or
    so the sign said, what was characterized as
    olive leaves, and a pickled parsnip-like root.
    These were salty, very salty, exceedingly salty,
    and sweet and salty respectively. I figure
    they're offered because of some putative
    medicinal value rather than flavor. More
    starches - a fried rice and a noodle dish,
    changing daily, none particularly appetizing.
    On one day a silken tofu with chicken mince and
    scallions - very good.
     
  14. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    There are two restaurants in Ampang Park with
    similar names - Cozy Corner and Cozy House -
    apparently it's the old story - two brothers
    don't see eye to eye, they split, their
    restaurants have similar names and are down
    the block from each other, people get confused.
    I was vaguely interested in this little drama
    and to see what the results were, so I went to
    the Ampang Park Shopping Center (across the
    pedestrian walkway from the Intermark) and
    poked my head into both. Sad to say, the smells
    and the atmosphere at either did not encourage
    me to stay, though the air conditioning was
    working at one of them, I forget which.

    Some say New Shanghai Legend has some of the
    best dim sum around, so my original plan to
    check out the KL branches of Din Tai Fung and
    Tim Ho Wan were put on hold. It was Sunday noon,
    a time when the places in my experience are
    filled with happy families, but this restaurant
    was totally empty, a bad sign.

    I walked past it two or three times and wondered
    if I should instead eat spag Bol at the place
    down the way, but I decided to stick to my plan.

    The hostess who eagerly accosted me on my last
    pass through spoke decent English with a
    charming accent, which clinched the deal.

    Inside it was a little musty and had a touch of
    that sour mildewy smell that you got before the
    advent of air conditioning, even though the
    dining room was cool enough.

    I ordered four of my favorites.

    They let you order the oatmeal prawn by the
    each (just over US$1), so I got one to see
    what it would be like. Turned out to be a
    fried croquette whose flavor was between a
    cereal prawn and that famous weird Hong Kong
    dish fried shrimp with mayonnaise and fruit
    cocktail. The croquette had about 4 or 5
    small shrimp in a creamy sauce with a crunchy
    cereal coating. My first bite was heaven, but
    the rich whiteness dictated that it palled
    quickly. There were also white and red cubes
    in there as well, and I thought that they had
    cleverly incorporated the fruit cocktail into
    the croquette, but when I actually tasted
    them, it turned out they were surimi, a
    sizable disappointment. Not what I had
    envisioned, which would have been a riff on
    the Singaporean cereal prawn - a whole
    creature rolled in the cereal of the day and
    cooked in a hot wok; if it's made with
    butter, it's called (duh) butter prawn.

    Here an order of xiao long bao comes as a
    measly two, and they are relatively expensive.
    They are steamed in Chinese spoons, a cute
    idea, and you eat each one right off the
    spoon (hothothot) and slurp the juice. Well.
    For starters, it's a good thing there were
    those spoons, because one of them was
    pre-busted, so it might as well have been
    wonton in soup. The juice was okay, not very
    rich, the filling rather coarse, without
    enough fat, and underseasoned. Not the best
    rendition ever, despite what the Internet
    says. This came with a spoon of ginger
    slivers and soy sauce.

    Har gow had a stronger than usual sesame
    scent but were otherwise standard, which
    is to say pretty good. The shrimp inside
    were fresh and crisp, the dough translucent
    enough but bordering on the too firm. I'd
    have liked a drop or two of soy for this,
    too, but no. And there was none at table,
    either.

    A fried taro ball was unlike the usual - of
    course I am used to it being filled with a
    tablespoon of ground pork in a sauce
    flavored with anise; this was of course
    filled with little dice of stewed beef
    round in soy, which was fine. The coating was
    pretty standard, which is to say very good.

    This all came to just over RM30; a Tiger
    beer added RM15 plus tax, so my final outlay
    came to just over US$12.

    Maybe I should have had another beer. Ramadan
    is coming up (Google says it's starting right
    in an hour or two; other sources say tomorrow).
    [contemporarily written report]
     
  15. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    So those chain restaurants of a higher order
    that I was talking about.

    I was so impressed by the Tim Ho Wan in the
    mall between City Hall and Esplanade that I
    checked to see if there was one in KL, and it
    seems there are in fact two, and there are five
    Din Tai Fungs here as well. In fact, there is a
    big fancy mall complex called Mid-Valley that
    has one of each, and, wonder of wonders, one
    can get to this wondrous place by public
    transport with only one change.

    Tim Ho Wan is between two malls that are
    essentially one, Mid-Valley and The Garden, on
    the ground floor, technically I think in The
    Garden. It was hopping at lunchtime, and a
    table for one was grudgingly given. Service
    was pretty swift and unsmiling, as one might
    expect. I ordered that same vermicelli sheet
    with pig liver, and it was hugely different.
    The one in Singapore was one of the better
    things I've ever eaten; this was merely
    average at best, the ineffable texture over
    there replaced by a very ordinary wrapper such
    as you can get for a buck at a million hawker
    stalls throughout the world. The main
    disappointment was the filling - there,
    innumerable little medium-rare liver steaks,
    here, shrivelled overcooked bits that could
    have come out of a scrapple but in a bad
    sense. Bitter, gamy, altogether not right.

    Har gow were pretty good, but again average
    and easily gettable for a quarter the price
    elsewhere.

    I decided to get the famous steamed egg cake;
    it was actually quite good, a moist airy
    texture with distinct brown sugar flavor;
    the egginess that the reviewers refer to
    and that I was looking forward to was a
    mere whisper, though.

    At the next table I watched a comfortable
    young couple work their way through the
    menu; while I was there they went through
    at least 15 dishes. I shouldn't say anything
    - when I was their age I probably could have
    done the same.

    Price: half what the one in Singapore had
    been.

    Quality: less than half what the one in
    Singapore had been. I might go back to
    see if it was just an off-day but at this
    point do not recommend.
     
  16. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Went back south to check out the Din Tai
    Fung to see if it measured up to the other
    outlets I've been to or to its local
    competition. This is in the basement that
    connects the two malls, at the Garden end,
    next to a roast duck place that I want to
    try someday. I was welcomed pleasantly and
    given a pretty nice table.

    I wanted one of everything, and luckily
    there was a "prestige set menu" offering
    a large number of tastes for MYR55.

    The appetizer of the day (by all reports,
    it seems to be every day) a salad of
    slivered bean curd, bean sprouts, seaweed,
    and bean threads in a sesame, sugar, and
    vinegar dressing. I was beginning to tuck
    into this when other things that I
    preferred started rolling in, and the
    result was that this got pushed aside
    and aside as my table got fuller and fuller.
    It was mostly still there at the end of the
    meal, the least (but not bad) of the things
    to eat. So it went orphaned forever.

    Then came a really peculiar version of zha
    jiang mien, noodles usually in a dark
    sweetish bean sauce with ground pork. I
    make it myself this way, with scallions
    on top. This came with bean curd dice and
    steamed soybeans, which is the usual
    vegetarianized substitution, but it also
    had ground pork. What made it really
    strange was the addition of bits of
    tomato that had been marinated in soy
    sauce - I suspect a case of Monsieur
    Michelin strikes again. The noodles were
    quite good, with nice flavor though done
    just a tad past al dente.

    Stir-fried pea shoots in garlic sauce were
    the best I've ever had - tiny baby pea
    shoots in a delicate sauce that was done
    just so you barely noticed but did notice
    the garlic in every bite from start to
    finish.

    Crab xiao long bao - a disappointment as
    the crab really doesn't add anything but a
    modest fishiness and a stringy texture.
    Luckily you get only one of them.

    Pork xiao long bao - a good version, not as
    delicate as at DTF Singapore or Taipei, but
    unlike most I've had, in that ballpark. You
    get two of these.

    Chicken soup - could have been the whole
    meal - a whole drumstick chopped into bits
    and simmered along with other assorted
    chicken trimmings (also ladeled into the
    bowl) to make a delicate and rather
    delicious broth. I left some of the
    chicken, gnawing off the skin and
    gelatinous bits and rejecting the
    flesh, out of which all the goodness
    had been leached anyway.

    For afters, mango pudding - a pretty
    hard but tasty interpretation, topped
    with a fan of ripe fruit slices and
    (boo) a splash of milk.

    I got out for US$15 including tax,
    service, and 33c for tap water.

    A note on the Mid-Valley complex - it
    consists of two malls connected by an
    underground mostly food court as described,
    which boasts American names such as Tony
    Roma's and KFC, former American names such
    as Kenny Rogers Roasters, would-be American
    names such as Texas Chicken, Manhattan Fish
    Market, and NY Steak Shack, international big
    shots like Sushi Tei and the aforementioned
    DTF, and local luminaries such as Village
    Duck. The food mostly smells pretty good.
    Next time maybe I'll forgo the hotel chain
    loyalty thing and stay at one of the hotels
    on premises. I could have eaten here all week.
     
  17. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Last breakfast. I didn't feel like it but
    decided to give it a shot anyway and was glad
    I did. At the Malay station they had lamb
    curry (not rendang - this was in a lightish
    brown sauce with turmeric and chiles) was
    very nice but boneless and fatless, sad to
    say; it was also not hot enough, something
    one could remedy using the minced hot
    peppers or the fish-based sambals that
    were available.

    The Indian things were

    pulisadham, a lentil and rice concoction
    flavored with tamarind and cumin, pretty plain
    but good;

    vadai, lentil flour fritters, which strangely
    dissolved in the mouth to yield an okra-like
    texture and even flavor;

    potatoes varuval, a curry tinged red with
    pepper powder and possibly a bit of tomato,
    pretty good, especially as I had shamelessly
    mined the dish for lots of extra onion;

    the chicken and fish curries were there as
    they were every day - I'm guessing they
    don't rotate in different dishes until these
    are gone. The chicken had gotten even spicier,
    and the fish didn't smell as bad, so I took a
    small piece - it was actually pretty decent.

    I finally decided to check out the western
    foods table. Everything looked pretty average
    and boring except for two things, which I
    tasted. Mac and cheese, in big blocks - I
    took a slice off one and discovered it to
    be bland, starchy, not very cheesy or
    anythingy. Confetti corn which in addition
    to the usual tiny dice of green and red
    pepper had a bit of hot pepper added, which
    made the combination quite nice. I had a big
    mound of this and ate every kernel. Oh, yeah,
    it was cut fresh off the cob, not previously
    frozen.

    Chinese
    For my departure there was radish cake, this
    time coated in dried onions and chile flakes
    - delicious to the taste but had suffered
    from perhaps several reheatings, so the
    texture was kind of grainy and odd.

    I tried a vegetable spring roll, which was
    meh, also having suffered from overaging.

    Three of those custard buns today.

    Juices included pink guava as well as green
    guava - they taste the same, but I hit the
    jackpot with mango juice replacing the apple.

    Feeling the need for a modest kick in the
    pants, I had a mug of teh tarik. How do you
    tarik (pull) tea from a samovar? I held my
    mug as far from the spout as possible to
    help the milk proteins foam up; semi-success.
     
  18. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Departure day: I stuck around way too long,
    not having any energy to brave the
    thunderstorms, which I could hear starting
    about 10 (they weren't supposed to start
    until 12:30). And I didn't have the stomach
    space to hit another dim sum place, having
    eaten copiously and relatively well at the
    hotel, so my original plan of taking the
    free shuttle bus to Paragon gave way to
    a lethargic nothing. They let me hang out
    in the lounge as long as I wanted, a nice
    gesture that cost them pretty much nothing.

    Off to the airport. I had tons of time and
    just sort of moseyed to Sentral and instead
    of taking Ekspres did the bus again. It was
    the same bus, of which I recall having made
    the same ominous noises as on the way out.
    No traffic, and it got us there in 45 min.

    Again, formalities took mere moments.

    Last time, my friends and I decided that
    the regional Golden Lounge is nicer than
    the fancy big one, so that was my choice
    today. It was pretty busy when I arrived,
    but by the time it was time to go, it had
    cleared out considerably.

    Cotes de Blaignan is the house red pour,
    and it's pretty respectable, certainly
    better than tomorrow's business class wine.

    Things I tasted.

    Rasam was spicy and delicious - a creamy
    tomato lentil soup served with those
    frito-shaped pappadums;

    mackerel cake that was oily and fishy
    but not bad;

    some kind of mystery meat pastry;

    curry puff with way too much anise in it;

    and an odd vinegary hummus.

    Things I didn't taste.

    Spaghetti with tomato sauce, some rather
    fishy fish in white sauce, curried bony
    bits of chicken, and biryani rice; a
    salad bar, breads, and a cheese board.

    I spent much of my time at the work
    tables overlooking the bank of 738s at
    the B gates, because that was where the
    outlets are. Eventually I wised up and
    sat me down in a more comfy chair and
    snoozed for two hours, then, as I was
    ready to eat, tried the chicken curry,
    really all a bunch of odd trimmings,
    fine with me, as there was a lot of skin,
    in a mildly spicy rather delicious sauce.
    The rice was terrible with a strange bitter
    taste. I ended with a dessert plate of
    pistachio nuts and a couple dates that
    had been put there so people could break
    their Ramadan fast. There were also other
    fruits and some Western desserts available.

    MH 609 KUL SIN 2305 0005 738 2A

    This flight was full of mainland tourists
    who though rowdy were mostly not much of a
    problem (despite the cutting in line issue,
    which is not unique to the mainland), but
    one particularly screechy lady who was not
    afraid to pound on things and her fellow
    travelers I feared might cause a delay,
    but eventually she was calmed down by her
    compatriots. The front cabin was again
    half full; the back was pretty packed.

    Attentive service from both male and
    female attendants.

    For the snack, shepherd's pie or dim sum.
    I maybe should have chosen the former just
    to see what it would be like. I chickened
    out and went with the dim sum, which were
    three deep-fried shumai (made with mystery
    meat instead of pork and mystery fish that
    might have been shrimp) and a yellow bean
    bao. On the side those strangely crunchy
    peanuts in a packet and a Lindt ball.
    With this I had the steward keep the guava
    juice coming.

    We landed five minutes or so early, just
    before 12.
     
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  19. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Thank goodness the Silver Kris lounge is
    open all night. The buffet goes down at
    0100, but the cook comes around to give
    everyone last call, a most civilized touch.
    I actually declined the kind offer to check
    it out.

    Planning to snooze a bit, I scoped out the
    sleep aid situation. Offerings included
    Ch. Loudenne, Charles Heidsieck brut reserve,
    Courvoisier XO, Jack Daniel's, and Dalmore 15,
    not a bad lineup at all, especially for
    Cognac lovers.

    I want to talk about David Beckham's Haig Club.
    It's a "single grain" whisky, supposed to
    bridge the gap between the brown liquor
    drinkers and the white liquor drinkers. In
    essence, I'd say much more white than brown.

    An unpromising nose of cherry soda and
    solvent (hence the white), and it really
    went belly up on the palate - I looked in
    vain for any of that black pepper and posh
    spice that some reviewers find. Oak, water,
    and death on the finish. One man's smooth is
    another's watery; I am suspecting the
    reviewer who found smoothness is being paid
    off by Diageo.

    So the Edinburgh Whisky Blog referred to
    Becks in this way: "I like Beckham as much
    as the next man - we all remember THAT goal
    from the half way line, and the brilliant
    interview with Ali G," so I looked up that
    interview. Takeaways: 1. Sacha Baron Cohen
    is in fact pretty funny; he's funnier than
    Victoria Beckham is pretty; but I believe
    that his unbelievable rudeness in character
    probably betrays something about him out
    of character - of course, he went to
    Cambridge, which is sort of like going to
    Yale. 2. Victoria Beckham is cute, but not
    more alluring, I think, than several women
    I managed to get dates with in my youth.
    What is notable about her, though, is her
    fiery brightness and what comes across as
    a fierce loyalty to friends and family.
    3. About David - from the comment about
    brilliance I expected something like
    Muhammad Ali's repeated reaming of Howard
    Cosell or Sylvester Stallone's gentle
    chidings of Oprah Winfrey. What I got was
    a disarming smile and a few embarrassed
    asides that if he were not so pretty might
    have been interpreted as simplemindedness;
    of course given it has a half billion quid
    behind it it is seen as something else.

    From which I went on to review Muhammad Ali's
    career, which was really amusing, especially
    the Dick Cavett and Michael Parkinson vs. Joe
    Frazier and Ali interview, which lasted about
    12 rounds and a split decision. Those 43
    minutes helped the time along considerably,
    and I eventually decided not to try to sleep
    this night. United Business isn't that much
    to be awake for anyway.

    Around 5 an investigation of the showers
    found them fine, but I preferred the United
    ones in Tokyo and even the Thai ones in
    Hong Kong.

    Around 6, breakfast called. It had been put
    out about an hour before, but I resisted the
    clarion until I remembered that there was
    Chinese food.

    A charsiu bao was average, but given it was
    in the airport, and given it was free, I'd
    give it a B+.

    Fried radish (also known as turnip, also
    known as carrot) cake was gummy and
    tasteless, and no way does it get a pass.

    Chee kueh (steamed rice flour cake) with
    chye poh (preserved radish) was also kind
    of average, the cake fine though a little
    hard and the radish I thought a bit too
    sweet. B given the situation.

    Shaped noodles with Szechwan chili oil was
    nicely al dente but in no way spicy enough.
    Luckily there were dishes of minced big and
    little Thai chiles nearby. I used the latter,
    and the resulting piquancy made for an A-;
    the thing that could have elevated this dish
    would have been a sizzle in pig fat. There
    are departures to Indonesia and such places
    from this terminal, so that's not going to
    happen.

    Har gow were nasty - a filling of shrimp
    ground to a paste with some godawful starch
    binder. F. F! F!!!

    Luckily there were a lot of shrimp in the
    shrimp laksa noodles, presented sensibly
    as separate components. The shrimp were
    quite nicely boiled; the laksa gravy was
    pretty nice. My use for the shrimp was to
    eat them in bites with the har gow and
    pretend they were a unitary dish.
     
  20. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    Not sure what lounge you used, but the one by H gates has a laksa (and wonton) made to order bar with quite good laksa ;)
    I also found out when I had an overnight connection that the First Class lounge (C gates) has individual sleep rooms! But leaving early the First dining room wasn't open, however, the business side has some good Indian (and other) food - since I was jet lagged wanted food earlier than usual so being able to eat in the lounge and skip the plane food was quite nice.


     
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  21. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Off to the gate.

    The hotel-printed boarding pass that I'd
    used to get through security had a little
    notation in fine print that said that it
    had to be exchanged for another boarding
    pass - something I didn't tumble to until
    fairly late in the game. I duly presented
    myself at the transfer desk by the United
    gate, where a not impolite Singapore agent
    told me that in fact United, not being so
    chummy with SQ as it might once have been,
    had been relegated to the other transfer
    desk a half mile down the corridor. So off
    I trundled, my heart beating rather fast and
    shallow as I came up to the desk. Panting a
    bit, I gasped my request to the bored young
    man, who told me that I had to go to the
    security desk, a folding music stand ten
    feet away that had been folded up in
    anticipation of an early escape for the
    staff. The music stand had to be reunfolded,
    painstakingly, and then the security girl
    also painstakingly and either reluctantly
    or semi-illiterately tried to find my name on
    the list. This took a while, but eventually I
    was allowed to reapproach the desk and get
    my new boarding pass, which said the same
    things as my old one had. At this point, my
    ankle (cardiacly swollen) was really killing
    me, so I asked the fellow to call an electric
    cart for me, which he did; I think he did,
    anyhow, but as I didn't understand the Canto-
    language he was speaking, he could just as
    well have been calling his girlfriend. Anyhow,
    he reported that no electric carts were to be
    had at such short notice, and I should just
    walk slowly, as there was plenty of time to
    make the flight, as it was delayed.

    So I did, pausing to wince every hundred yards
    or so. During my journey, an electric cart
    with empty seats whizzed by every three minutes
    or so. I cursed.

    UA 2 SIN SFO 0845 0915 789 3D

    When I arrived, there was still a security line,
    so the young man had not lied to me about that
    at least, and after that, we had still a bit of
    a wait: we ended up leaving half an hour late
    and landed either 5 late or 45 early, depending
    whether you believe the company's filed plan or
    the public schedule. Turns out we were lucky -
    according to flightaware.com, the flight averaged
    an hour late taking off, with two cancellations
    in the recent week.

    The seat-bed was hard and narrow but reasonably
    comfy, with enough space to store a bag in the
    footwell.

    The flight attendants were fine, though, strangely,
    they pressed me to overeat and overdrink.

    TO BEGIN
    Chilled appetizer - chicken roulade with spicy garlic
    sauce and South Asian pickles

    Fresh seasonal greens - zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes,
    Kalamata olives, fennel and sunflower seeds with your
    choice of Caesar or Asian-style dressing

    The chicken was a boneless drumstick, the sauce
    Sriracha, and the pickles gari and something else
    uninteresting, I forget.

    Reasonably unwilted greens, okay extras (I put the
    zucchini aside), a very sweet dressing that tasted
    of garlic and a little ginger and soy but mostly
    of some kind of sugar.

    MAIN COURSE
    Braised beef cheek - braised sauce, polenta, grilled
    red capsicum and zucchini

    Bacon and sage stuffed chicken breast - bacon-sage
    jus, roasted potatoes and braised cabbage

    Sauteed prawns - pumpkin and salted egg cream sauce
    and egg noodles with shredded vegetables

    Vegetarian kofta - onion and tomato masala, okra
    poriyal and dill and sultana pulao

    Executive dining - if you prefer more time to work
    or relax, ask a flight attendant about our executive
    dining service. At your request, we will present your
    main meal followed by dessert based on your schedule.
     
  22. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    I told the young Asian guy that I sort of preferred
    the meat but would accept the prawns as a second
    choice; he put his hand on my shoulder (he did this
    several times during the flight, and I don't know if
    it was cute or creepy) and gazed into my eyes and
    intoned, sir, you WILL GET your first choice. After
    eating I wondered if I'd made the right choice. When
    it was piping hot, the beef cheek had an acceptable
    texture, but as it cooled, the gelatins solidified
    a bit, so the last bites were almost as firm as the
    cold five-spice beef shin you get on appetizer plates.
    The demi-glace-ish sauce was okay, very gooey, as
    you'd expect, and not too salty. I didn't have the
    guts to try the polenta or the vegetables.

    TO FINISH
    International cheese selection - grapes and crackers
    served with Port

    A Brie-ish white-rinded thing, a bluish blue, and
    Cabot clothbound Cheddar - I had a thin slice of the
    last, which was pretty decently sharp and tasty.

    Dessert - ice cream with your choice of toppings

    I said no, thank you very much, but the FA asked
    flirtatiously if I was sure, so I acceded to a scoop
    of rather ordinary vanilla with another glass of that
    Port, thank you very much. And then went to sleep
    for maybe five hours.

    MID-FLIGHT SNACK
    Singapore-style soup - noodles, shredded chicken and
    mixed vegetables in spiced broth

    The broth was okay, but the noodles were both hard
    and gummy at the same time - how do you do that?,
    and the chicken could just as well have been
    excelsior. A baby bok choy and a rather nice doong
    goo mushroom completed the ensemble.

    Fruit and light snacks are available at any time
    following the meal service. Please help yourself or
    ask a flight attendant for today's selection.

    PRIOR TO ARRIVAL
    Cheddar and three-pepper frittata - tomato and white
    bean stew, bacon and sauteed spinach

    Congee - traditional Chinese-style porridge with
    minced chicken

    Cereal and banana - served with milk

    Fresh fruit appetizer, yogurt or savory congee
    garnish and breakfast breads.

    The flight attendant who took my order had said
    "congee, right?" so even had I wanted eggs (which
    I might have, for the white beans and bacon), it
    might have been difficult to overcome that (though
    friendly) stereotype. I was fine with the congee,
    which was as before pretty tasty, the chicken
    substituting for ground pork, the garnishes being
    little you tiao slices, scallions, and shreds of
    ginger. Okay I guess.

    We landed I guess you'd say early.

    Immigration took moments, and PreCheck security ten
    or twelve minutes, and I was soon on my way to the
    club to check up on what had happened in the last
    15 hours. Nothing had, thank goodness.

    UA 309 SFO IAD 1053 1905 320 7A

    I trundled to the gate just a hair early and checked
    to find I was 4 on the waitlist. Eh, the bulkhead is
    okay, and this aircraft had a cutout to put my bag into.

    The flight was fine, with my proximate seatmate having
    bought the Economy Plus seat and grateful for the extra
    room and thus being pretty jolly. I used my 1K privilege
    and got a Courvoisier and was spontaneously offered a
    snack box (I declined); after a bit of small talk with
    my seatmate I fell asleep for the remainder of the
    flight, waking up a minute or maybe less before landing,
    which was actually early, so we were lucky again.
    Flightaware says that this flight averages half an hour
    late, with the previous day's having been diverted to
    Harrisburg.
     
  23. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    The bus to Wiehle was adequately fast, and the Silver
    Line was nowhere as bad as I had been led to believe,
    so I got the second to last bus home so got to change
    out clothes and pick up some wine and in bed by midnight.

    2V 84 WAS NYP 1110 1430

    I no longer need to ride in business class, as I get
    to preboard as an elderly person, and business class
    offers offsetting advantages and disadvantages vis-a-vis
    the quiet car. So the quiet car it was, for a quite
    pleasant trip. On-time arrival, and the five-block
    walk to the hotel was quick, and I was pretty hungry,
    having sacrificed dinner for earlier arrival at the
    house. On the corner of 39th and 8th, I smelled good
    smells emanating from NYC Fried Chicken, so I ordered
    a couple thighs. These came in a few minutes, piping
    hot, fried very hard in a salty coating with a touch
    of garlic. The chicken had not been brined, so the
    saltiness was not objectionable. Of the two pieces,
    one was large and juicy and tender, and the other
    reasonably tasty but with none of those other
    characteristics.

    A tripadvisor review that gives you the idea:
    NYC Fried Chicken reminds me of Crown Fried Chicken
    (my absolute favorite), but 10x more ghetto.

    My friend Dave has some cautionary things to say about
    Crown. If it were even 2x more ghetto than that, I
    would not have survived to write this trip report.

    Another long block to the Hampton Inn Manhattan
    Times Square South, where a very friendly (in New
    York!) desk clerk issued me keys for a nice little
    room on the second to top floor, with a view, as
    I believe all the rooms have, of another high-rise
    building; whatever. One doesn't generally choose
    one's midtown hotel for the views.

    Dinner at Szechuan Gourmet, a bib gourmand place
    that competes with Lan Sheng across the street,
    which used to have a star but lost it and much
    of its credibility in a quick two-year dive
    starting not so long ago. It's a sizable menu,
    and half the things are things I want to eat; as
    I was alone, I just had the famous crispy lamb
    fillets with chili and cumin - very tasty but
    deep-fried and not all that spicy. I had to eat
    all the 20 or so chiles (you're supposed to leave
    them) to get the appropriate zing. I was burping
    cumin and garlic and picking out chile and cumin
    seeds from between my teeth for half a day after.
    Luckily there was no nether effect from the hot
    peppers. Service was okay bordering on brusque.

    Back to the hotel for a very good night's sleep
    and a not-so-good hotel breakfast, of which I
    had a banana and some orange juice and then
    decided to take fuller advantage and made me a
    waffle, which was actually okay.
     
  24. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

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    UA (non) customer service strikes again!

     
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  25. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Also UA IT.
     

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