Saturday, 24 May 2014

Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class Review: London to Kuala Lumpur Trip Report

I'm not exactly done with my travelogue for my Euro 2013 trip but I can't help feeling more excited in writing this post before I forget the details. This is one of the exciting bits I'm looking forward to for my trip, although in other words, it also marks the end of my Euro 2013 vacation. Before I proceed further, please take note: this is going to be quite a long post filled with lots of photos!

On our last day in London, we took a cab to the airport. Malaysia Airlines relocated to Heathrow Terminal 4 since a couple of years back. Definitely missing the good duty free shopping in Terminal 3. The MAS check-in counters are located right at the end of the terminal. This time, we will be taking Business Class. Although it's my second time being on business class, but this is my first time being on Business Class for A380. The check-in counter was OK. I remembered when they were still in Terminal 3, they had a carpet on the floor that says "Business Class" or some sort, which gives one the feeling of being important, or at least that's how I felt back then.   

London sky at 8.55pm in May from MAS Golden Lounge

After security etc. we did some obligatory duty free shopping before proceeding to MAS Golden Lounge. The lounge looked modern, very well lit and has a moderate selection of food, which is good for anyone wanting to have some light meal before flying. In comparison, the previous lounge in Terminal 3 was quite dull. It had dim illumination and didn't boast a good view of the airport runway. So up till this stage, all is good.

We boarded the plane at 9.25pm. Once seated, refreshments were served within 5 minutes along with a warm towel. I chose Ruby Passion (the glass with red coloured drink in the photo above), which was the airline's signature drink concocted from tea flavoured with calamansi juice and tropical spices. The taste was special and refreshing. 

MAS 2013 Business Class Amenity Bag 

Some of the stuff I still keep from my MAS 2009 Business Class Amenity Bag. I doubt the toothpaste or cool mint can still be used!

Our plane took off at 10pm. Not long after take off, each of us were given a Tumi-branded Amenity Bag with lots of goodies from Clarins. Too bad, I'm not too fond of this brand. In comparison to the old one back in 2009, the 2013 bag had more products. In terms of quality, I preferred the 2009 version better. In fact, I'm still keeping the old comb in my handbag. The gold-beige tone used for the amenity bag, sleep mask and socks made the products looked more luxurious.

In terms of in-flight entertainment, the screen was massive! I can't even reach the screen no matter how much I stretch my hands from my seat. So that pretty much describes how spacious the seats were. On Boeing 747, they had touch screen in Business Class. I can't remember if they have in on A380. Never mind.

We had our orders for our mains taken at 10.55pm. Supper service started at 11.10pm. Before our meal, cold towels were handed out for us to freshen up. We also had one more round of drinks as well as a packet of premium mixed nuts (I preferred the salted peanuts from economy class though!). The orange juice served was proper fresh orange juice with pulp rather than those from concentrate. Not long after that, the flight attendant served us their Award-Winning Satay served with peanut sauce, cucumber and nasi himpit. They have chicken or beef option. I went for both. The meat from the skewers were very flavourful, probably from hours of marinating.   

Once we were done with our satay, we were handed a cold towel each before having another round of appetizer. This time we were served Smoked Salmon with salmon roe, radicchio, frisee and orange vinaigrette, accompanied by a garlic rosemary bread roll. The smoked salmon was one of the best, if not the best I've tasted so far. It was that good. The fish was very fresh and doesn't come with extra fishy aftertaste. I'm guessing these are how premium smoked salmon should taste like.

We had our mains served at 12.00am. Mum ordered Braised Chicken Thigh in Sweet Tomato Gravy served with tomato rice and stir fried mixed vegetables with turmeric and mustard seed. This dish was just mediocre at its best. It could have been better.

Dad ordered Pan Fried Salmon Fillet with crumbled potato cakes, broccoli, roasted vine tomatoes, horseradish cream and grain mustard sauce. Since he was seated quite far from me, I didn't get to try his dish. So I can't comment much. It does look yummy though. 

As for myself, I ordered Grilled Rib Eye of Beef with potato souffle, asparagus, roasted vine tomatoes and hollandaise sauce. The potato souffle tasted strange. It kind of reminded me of goats cheese for some reason. I think of all the mains, dad's salmon looked most promising.

MAS used to promote their Teh Tarik in the national newspaper some 10 odd years ago, which got me really intrigue because I love airline food even though most of the time they don't taste as good as I would have hoped for. I forgot to order this beverage the last time I was in Business Class. So I made sure that I remember this time. The Teh Tarik was rich, frothy, creamy, and most importantly, not overly sweet just like how I like it. Apart from the Fresh Fruits, the flight attendant also offered me a Banoffee Tart to end the supper. Being a dessert person, it was hard to say "No" although I was filled to the brim by then. The filling was good but the tart shell was a little soggy. 

Mood lighting after supper service

After the supper service ended, we were given another round of warm towel. Seemed like we were getting bottomless supply of warm towels. Haha...

The lights were dimmed by 12.35pm, which gives us this relaxing mood lighting, whilst enjoying the in-flight entertainment before snoozing off. 

Speaking of that, the seats were more comfortable than Boeing-747's simply because the flat bed seats could recline up to 180 degrees, whereas the latter were a little angled, thus giving one the feeling of falling forward whilst lying flat. Along with the feather filled pillow and comfy duvet, I slept very well throughout the journey, which also meant that I watched lesser movies than I normally would.  

When I woke up mid flight, the flight attendant offered me a glass of orange juice whist I was picking some snacks at the galley. He also recommended their Gourmet Sandwich which consisted of a baguette loaf filled with beef, mixed lettuce, gherkin and kalamata olive skewer. I didn't like the Gourmet Sandwich too much. I found the baguette and beef to be a tad chewy for my liking.  

After some more sleep and in-flight entertainment, the mood lighting came up when it was almost time for breakfast service. This time, it changed to orange hues to simulate the sunlight perhaps?

The flight attendant came round to take our orders at 8.38am (UK time). At 9.05am, breafast service commenced. Before that, we were given another round of hot towels. For starters, we were served Orange juice, Fresh fruits as well as a bowl of Muesli. I also had a Croissant which was served warm. 

For the mains, mum had Vanilla Pancakes with grilled pineapple, strawberry and maple syrup. It was okay but didn't make much of an impression. I think anyone can make this at home by themselves.

Dad had Stir Fried Chinese Noodles with beef strips,  carrot, braised siew pak choy and garlic oyster sauce. It looked quite dry and bland from the photo. Not sure if it tastes good. I doubt so.

As for myself, I had their signature Nasi Lemak with rice cooked in coconut milk served with spicy prawn sambal and traditional accompaniments. One can never go wrong with this Nasi Lemak dish.

To end the meal, I asked for Hot Honey Lemon drink. I thoroughly enjoyed the drink which was freshly made rather than coming out from a sachet. I was very impressed indeed. Mum had Hot Milo which she gave thumbs up as well. As a matter of fact, I think I enjoyed the drinks more than the mains for the entire flight journey. 

After a 12-hour journey from London Heathrow, we landed safely at KLIA. The flight attendant even joked that I have been shopping a lot as I was about the leave the flight with my bags. Overall, the MAS in-flight service was impeccable. I had a great time.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Eating Out in France (Part 4): Restaurant Le Tonnelet

We didn't want to risk missing our train back to Strasbourg from Colmar. So we decided to have dinner in Petite France. There were quite a large selection of places to eat in the area. We weren't sure of where to dine. Sometimes we pre-judge the restaurant by observing the number of patrons inside. However, we didn't have such privilege during this occasion as almost all the restaurants were quite empty even during dinner time, i.e. 6-ish pm, perhaps the French only have dinner after 7pm?  

After walking around for a while, we decided to settle for Restaurant Le Tonnelet since they have the Tarte Flambée which I wanted to try.

The interiors of the restaurant were okay, but perhaps a little tired looking?

Since we were still quite filled up from our meaty lunch, we had a light dinner. We ordered La Soupe de Poissons et sa Rouille (Fish soup with Rouille sauce) 9.50€ which was quite good. The fish soup reminded me of the bouillabaisse we had in Germany. The soup was hearty and doesn't have any fishy taste, which was good.

We also ordered the Tartes Flambée La Normale Lard et Oignons (Alsatian Bacon and Onion tart)  6.50€ which I had wanted to try. The tart resembled a thin crust pizza topped with crème fraîche, bacon and onion. It was a very simple dish, I preferred my tomato based pizza better.

Since I've only tried the Cordon Bleu dish outside France previously, it is only fair that I should try it at its country of origin. So the next dish we ordered was Le Courdon Bleu Pané (Breaded veal) 17.00€. I liked the cheese enveloped in the veal meat. The meat itself was tender.

The total bill came to 33.00€. Overall I found the food average and not memorable. So I would rate this place 3.0/5.0.

Restaurant Le Tonnelet
9 Müebleplan
67000 Strasbourg

Tel.: +33 3 88 22 08 14

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Eating Out in France (Part 3): Brasserie des Tanneurs

Come to lunch time, we came across this fancy looking restaurant in the middle of Colmar. I had the menu checked out at the entrance and they have all the regional dishes I have in my To-Eat list. So we proceeded into the restaurant.

Very cozy looking interiors

Once again everything was in French, including the menu. I requested for a plate in English by mistake and the waiter seemed confused. So I supposed in this part of France, it is best to know some French, or you might end up hungry. Haha...

Another cozy part of the restaurant. I can imagine how dreamy the place might look when it is covered in snow during the winter

For some reason, the place mat design reminded me of Ikea

When in France, you can't miss out on their wines. I'm definitely no wine connoisseur, just a very curious person. This time, I ordered another regional specialty, Riesling 3.40€, another variety of white wine.

As for the mains, we had Baeckeoffe 15.90€, which literally means Baker's Oven in the Alsatian dialect. More about the history of this dish here. The dish consists of pork, lamb, beef and potatoes marinated in wine and herbs, then baked in a ceramic casserole. The cuts of meat were very tender and juicy due to the long and slow baking process in the oven. It was a very hearty dish. I wouldn't hesitate to make this dish one of my favourite comfort food if I have access to all the ingredients.

We also ordered another Alsation specialty, which was the Choucroute Garnie aux 5 Viandes 16.90€, which basically mean sauerkraut served with 5 types of meat. This dish was made up of fermented cabbage, smoked bacon, salted cuts of pork, sausages from Strasbourg and Montbéliard as well as boiled potatoes. Typing this post now just reminded me how awesome this dish was. This is one of the rare occasions where I can't help but reminisce about the food I have tried/eaten.

We ended our meal with Kugelhopf Glacé 7.90€, which literally translates to Kugelhopf ice cream. Kugelhopf is a type of local bundt cake. In this ice cream version, what appeared to taste like rum and raisin ice cream to me was molded into the the shape of a Kugelhopf cake, then served with a generous amount of whipped cream and some type of liqueur.

The total bill came to 44.10€, which was very reasonable, compared to our dinner the day before in Strasbourg. I'm not sure if it was just me, but I was somehow given this impression that the food in Colmar is cheaper than Strasbourg. Overall, I would rate this place 4.5/5 for the excellent food.

Here's the address:
Brasserie des Tanneurs
12 Rue des Tanneurs
68000 Colmar

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Travelogue: Day 4: Colmar, France

After breakfast, we made our way to the train station, which was about 10 minutes away from the city centre. There was some light rain on that morning.

Initially, I wanted to buy our train tickets to Colmar from the automatic machines. For some reason, we can't figure out how to use it. So we ended up getting our tickets from the ticketing office, which was much faster and easier because we got directed to the right platform straight away. The journey to Colmar took 35 minutes on the regional train.

Cloudy day at Colmar Train Station

Once we got off at Colmar station, we took a local bus to the town centre, which was approximately 5-10 minutes away, getting down at Theatre bus stand (if memory serves me right).

We walked around the place for a while. What caught my attention was the display in this souvenir shop. The way the souvenirs were presented just reminded me of the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel. They were so pretty and eye catching.

Close up look at one of the shop's display

Actually, pretty much most of the shops in the area looked just as pretty with their well maintained display windows and half timbered buildings.

Maison Pfister

One of the famous buildings in Colmar was Maison Pfister which was situated along Rue des Marchands. The building was built in 1537 for a wealthy hatter called Ludwig Scherer. The paintings that decorate the facade represent the Germanic Emperors of the 16th century, the Evangelists, the Church Fathers, allegorical figures, and biblical characters and scenes. The current name of the building was named after the merchant, Francois-Xavier Pfister, who acquired it in 1841.

Petite Venise

We made our way to Petite Venise after lunch. A collection of Colmar's most colourful houses can be spotted in this area. The river was canalized to provide water for the tanners to allow farmers to barge their goods into town etc. in the past.  

Not far from Petite Venise was Marché Couvert, a covered market (a good place to stop by on a drizzly day) selling local produces.

I bought some local strawberries (not pictured here) from the market. To my disappointment, it was not sweet. I preferred UK's Jubilee strawberries best.

 Another pretty half timbered building around the area

I spotted this stork's nest on the roof of a church. Apparently, it is considered good luck having a stork chose your roof to nest upon. You can spot stork(s) in posters/postcards drawings. I supposed storks are quite symbolic in Alsace. 

One of the many shops with interesting hanging plaques (probably depicting a story) outside their buildings

Okay, I think I have posted more than enough photos in this post before anyone gets bored off. Above are the desserts from a bakery shop in Colmar to end the post sweetly.

Overall, I had a great time exploring Colmar on foot and thoroughly enjoyed its interesting and enchanting sights. However, I would still choose to stay in Strasbourg even for future visits as there are more to see and do around Strasbourg.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Eating Out in France (Part 2): Patisserie Winter

Before heading to another highlight of this trip, to be more specific, Colmar, we decided to have breakfast at Patisserie Winter which is situated just opposite Lafayette. I have been wanting to check this place out since the day before, all thanks to the beautiful cakes on display at the front of the shop.

Patisserie Winter

The cakes and pastries were so pretty. I so wanted to have them all! It's the sort of ideal bakery I have in mind (completely ignoring the fats gained as a result of overindulging of course).

Handmade chocolates

The cake themed table lamp. How awesome!

Loving the enchanted looking interiors, especially the chairs

We made our way into the restaurant's seating area after admiring the cakes and chocolates on display in the entrance. I was completely in love with the restaurant'a ambiance. It looks like one of those settings you see in fairy tale storybooks. 

Once seated, we were given a French menu. Thank goodness for my basic grasp in the language and my interest in French pastries, we got off easily. There were several breakfast options to choose from. We ordered Le Continental  8.55€, which consists of 2 types of pastries (croissant and one other kind of pastry), a baguette, as well as a glass of orange juice and a selection of either coffee, tea or hot chocolate. I went for the latter.

We also ordered Le Complete 11.40€, which came with 2 sunny side up eggs, smoked ham on top of the stuff we were served in the Le Continental set (minus the venoiserrie). 

The breakfast portions were massive. However, they were very ordinary, which was a bit of a let down despite the lovely ambience. The baguette was a tad hard for my liking. Never mind. Only regret I had was I didn't get to try their lovely cakes as I was filled to the brim by the time I was done with the breakfast set. 

The bill came to 19.95€. I would rate this place 3.0/5.0 based on the breakfast experience. I would love to try their cakes the next time I'm back in Strasbourg. 

Here's the address:
Patisserie Winter
25 Rue du 22 Novembre
67000 Strasbourg