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Throughout the years I’ve had the chance to own quite a number of mobile phones, and gotten my hands to try on even more. The one feature that has always interests me is the camera.

Ever since I had my very first “camera phone”, the next phone I looked at has always been the one with a superior camera. So when I had a chance to give the Huawei P9 a test drive, I was pretty excited.

Huawei P9, sleek design, USB C, Leica dual lenses
Huawei P9, sleek design, USB C, Leica dual lenses

You see, the P9 isn’t just any regular Android phone with a camera. It is the first that comes with a dual-camera sensor designed by Leica. For the uninitiated, Leica makes the most legendary cameras & lenses and almost every photographer would love to own a Leica in their arsenal, including myself. By having Huawei tapping into over 100 years of Leica photography expertise to design & optimize, the expectation of its performance is rather high.

The dual sensor set up at the rear is rather unique, one to pick up RGB (color) information, while the other monochrome (B&W) sensor picks up details. Information from both sensors are then combined using Leica’s merging algorithm to create an output that has the best of both worlds.

swiping left, right, or bottom up on camera reveals different options
swiping left, right, or bottom up on camera reveals different options

That is the technical aspect of the camera, two 12 megapixel sensors working together, but what really impressed me more was the user interface of the camera.

Most Android phones utilizes very simple camera UI, with some having a few modes or features accessible in the menu. What Huawei has done with P9’s camera UI is very sleek. Swiping left, right, up, and down reveals different sets of features/short cuts that allows anyone to take pictures just the way they want without having to fiddle with different settings which may require in depth photography knowledge.

film/filter mode, and pro mode
film/filter mode, and pro mode

Swiping to the right brings out the different shooting modes, such as monochrome, night shot, HDR, video, slow-mo, time lapse, and even Huawei’s signature “light painting”.

Swiping left shows the different camera settings, including adjustments for resolution, photo grid, GPS tag, different film modes, and so forth.

Bottom up brings out the PRO mode. This is a feature every serious photographer would appreciate. Here you can adjust shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, and even focusing mode. These are features that used to only available on a semi-pro SLR set up.

On top of the camera UI screen have yet a few more short cuts allowing access to wide aperture effect (my favorite), flash settings, slow-mo video, and swapping for front camera.

wide aperture effect is one of my favorites
wide aperture effect is one of my favorites

traffic at night, Huawei P9

sunset on Federal Highway, Huawei P9
works very well in low light condition too

In all, these make for very fast operation in getting to what you want the camera to do. There’s no fiddling with multiple levels within the menu to adjust one setting. Everything is available within a swipe and a click or two, to me this is the strongest point of the phone, one which I learned to really appreciate.

impactful B&W mode is great for street photography
Impact B&W mode is great for street photography

The photo quality from limited shots I took were pretty good, my favorite features of the camera were the “impact monochrome” and the “wide aperture” mode. The monochrome is very useful taking street photography while the latter allows simulated “bokeh” effect that can make a subject really standout in a photo, similar to one taken with expensive fast professional lenses on an SLR.

egg benedict, close up
close up shots are very good too

Since this is actually a phone and not just a camera, several other important specification you may be interested in are as follow:

  • Screen: 5.2″ 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Battery: 3000 mAh, fast charging
  • OS: Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
  • CPU: Quad-core 2.5 GHz Cortex-A72 & quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53
  • Storage: 32 GB, microSD slot
  • Connectivity: USB-C, NFC, GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Sensors: fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass

 

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If you’re at Sabah traveling from Kota Kinabalu to the Kinabalu Park or Kundasang, the only sane ground road to get there involves driving a long stretch of winding hilly road that is a dream to any motorcyclist (especially those who’re stuck driving a beat up rental Perodua Viva).

On this road you’ll come across a few road side stalls that is really, really smokey, and that’s where you’ll find one of the must-try indigenous Dusun food for those who consume non-halal food – Sinalau Bakas.

Sinalau Bakas along AH 150 Highway in Sabah
Sinalau Bakas along AH 150 Highway in Sabah

In the local language, Sinalau Bakas translate to smoked wild boar, and the dish is simple as it sounds – slabs of marinated wild boar meat smoked on an open BBQ pit, with the operator usually flipping those glorious meat while squinting or seated on a small “bangku” fanning the wood fire below.

smoked wild boar sure is done with plenty of smoke
smoked wild boar sure is done with plenty of smoke

The meat is usually only transferred to direct heat for cooking once you make your order, which means you’ll get it freshly prepared, and that usually involves some wait time of 10-15 minutes or longer.

As some say – if you wait for the food, it’s gonna be great, if the food waits for you, well…

this was our ten Ringgit's worth of wild boar meat
this was our ten Ringgit’s worth of wild boar meat

The meat is very spicy in a traditional herbal way while not overly tough like you’d expect from wild boar. Get chunks with a fattier cut if you like it more tender. Sinalau Bakas is also served with traditional chili sauce that gives it a bit more kick. I actually found it overall to be rather tasty and we finished everything despite having a slightly leaner cut.

KY & Haze enjoying some wholesome wild boar meat
KY & Haze enjoying some wholesome wild boar meat

There’s no actual address for this place, but the GPS location below should help. You’re in better luck than me when I was asking Elfie the Sabahan girl where I could find these stalls!

P/S: and yes, I will be writing the long overdue Kinabalu Mountain Climbing post soon.

map to Sinalau Bakas stalls

Address:
Sinalau Bakas stalls
Along AH 150 Highway,
about half way from Tuaran to Kinabalu Park

GPS6.107336, 116.367638
Hours: late morning to after lunch, not regular

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Let’s get back on the project of trying as many bak kut teh as possible in the birth land of this amazing dish – Klang. Today we take a look at one of the small guys – an unassuming small corner restaurant near Klang Parade by the name of Restoran Xin Lai Hing.

Xin Lai Hing bak kut teh, near Klang Parade
Xin Lai Hing bak kut teh, near Klang Parade

We chanced upon this relative newcomer to the bkt scene in Klang while visiting one of our regular Vietnamese kopitiam at the area and thought to give it a try. Interestingly, in addition to bak kut teh, they actually also serve a small selection of Vietnamese dishes here, though we did not have an opportunity to sample those.

kahwan and intestine for 1.5 portion
kahwan and intestine for 1.5 portion

For the two of us, we ordered a 1.5 portion of clay pot bak kut teh with a mixture of kahwan (around the ankle) and intestine. The dish comes with piping hot soup that is pretty strong in herbal aroma with a slight bitter note which I find quite pleasing. There isn’t much peppery note which may or may not suit individual taste but I do find it pretty good.

The meat is probably softer and more tender than most I had, and you can definitely cut it with a spoon, quite delightful as the fatty bit melts in your mouth. I also like the fact that the small intestine is stuffed with even more intestine, perfect for offal lovers.

There’s some tofu skin and a bit of tofu pok as well as few leaves of fresh vege in the soup, enough to give it a false sense of balanced meal, who cares?

stuffed intestine is good, the meat super tender as well
stuffed intestine is good, the meat super tender as well

If you’re up to some really soft and tender pork, this is one that won’t disappoint.

map to Xin Lai Hing bak kut teh, Klang

Address:
Xin Lai Hing Bak Kut Teh
Jalan Pekan Baru 35

Kawasan 17, 41150 Klang, Selangor
GPS3.064019, 101.455200
Hours: noon till dinner

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I make it a habit to try to start most working days with a good breakfast, and this is achieved by riding to work, which allows me to have quite a bit of freedom in choosing breakfast spots before heading to the office in the morning. See, when you’re stuck in the traffic, I’m having my noms, life’s good.

another breakfast stop for me
another breakfast stop for me

I was chatting with one of my colleagues just the other day and he mentioned that one of his favorite kopitiam around PJ where his old folks reside was Golden Kim Wah at Damansara Kim. The very next day, I made the slight de-tour and stop by to grab one of his favorite dishes from the place – Robert’s Char Kuih Teow.

I made the order like how I usually do for CKT – in classic beautiful Penang Hokkien, and to my delight, Mr. Robert answered in the very same dialect, which is always good news for a place that offers Penang dishes.

Robert Char Kuih Teow, legit
Robert Char Kuih Teow, legit

The RM 6 plate of char kuih teow from Robert was indeed up to expectation. Good amount of “wok hei” with those tiny charred bits, properly moist and yet not too wet, it also comes with prawns, lap cheong, bean sprouts, chives, and even a few bits of lard.

I’m putting this down as one of the few char kuih teow places worth eating in Klang Valley.

map to Golden Kim Wah kopitiam, damansara Kim

Address:
Golden Kim Wah Restaurant,
Jalan SS 20/10, Damansara Kim,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS:

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We Malaysians love buffets, but more often than not, most buffets around Klang Valley offers a variety of many different cuisines, much like the cultural make up of the country, which allows us to sample many varying dishes at the same time. Now that’s not a bad thing, but sometimes, you just want to concentrate on (mostly) one single cuisine, and you want it buffet style.

If that’s your calling and your choice of cuisine happens to be Japanese food, then Tatsu’s Saturday dinner buffet may just be something you want to check out.

Authentic Japanese Buffet at Tatsu
Authentic Japanese Buffet at Tatsu

The Saturday dinner buffet featuring authentic Japanese cuisine started at on the 6th of August and will run through 26 November 2016. We were among the few fortunate invitees to be sampling the spread on the first day of its offering at Intercontinental Hotel.

The all-you-can-eat deal is priced at RM 118 nett per adult and RM 69 nett for children between age 5-11 years.

Sushi or Sashimi anyone?
Sushi or Sashimi anyone?

The spread is concocted by Assistant Chef Tommy Kuan and comprises of some 75 items, and obviously, we got the night started at the raw bar with some sushi & sashimi.

Here you find a selection of salmon, tuna, and butter fish sashimi in pretty generous cuts. There’s ebi, tamago, inari, sake, and maguro sushi as well as some sushi rolls to pick from. Quality are more than decent, though lacking some of the more premium ingredients like amaebi or otoro, this is to be expected at this price point I suppose.

onsen egg, baby octopus, and other small dishes
onsen egg, baby octopus, and other small dishes

Other dishes from the “appetizer” bar includes those perfectly prepared Onsen eggs, salad, baby octopus, and a selection of small Japanese vegetable dishes which I really enjoy.

some pre-cooked Japanese dishes too
some pre-cooked Japanese dishes too

For those who likes pre-cooked items, there are a few selections too. Udon, soup, chawamushi, edamame, spicy tofu, miso soup, and even Japanese curry. To be honest, these aren’t my usual dishes to go for in a buffet such as this, because what I really enjoy more is up next…

made to order teppanyaki dishes
made to order teppanyaki dishes

The live teppanyaki cooking!

Here you pick the ingredients (salmon, prawns, squid, butter fish, chicken, beef, mushroom, vege etc) and have the chef cook on the spot. They’re usually ready in 5-10 minutes and then you can enjoy the piping hot teppanyaki dishes. I thought their chicken teppanyaki was particularly delicious.

"ala minute" dishes - ebi tempura, saba, kaki furai, sawara teriyaki
“ala minute” dishes – ebi tempura, saba, kaki furai, sawara teriyaki

In addition to teppanyaki, there are also a selection of “ala minute” dishes you can order to be served to your table. These includes ebi tempura hand roll, California hand roll, salmon teriyaki, saba shioyaki, sanma shioyaki, chicken teriyaki, sawara teriyaki, tempura moraiwase, and kaki furai.

Some of these dishes tend to get tepid & tired looking on a buffet spread if they’ve been left there for a while, so having them freshly made to order is a great idea.

beautifully crafted desserts
beautifully crafted desserts

Then of course, there’s Japanese desserts such as shiratama zenzai (red bean soup with mochi), manju (traditional Japanese confection), and assortments of ice cream, including one of my favorites – black sesame flavor.

fruits, black sesame ice cream, onsen eggs, Haze & KY
fresh fruits, black sesame ice cream, onsen eggs, Haze & KY

I really enjoyed the buffet spread, and though it offers pretty decent value for the price at a up class hotel restaurant in the heart of KL. If you’re up to some authentic Japanese buffet, do not that the last day to enjoy this at Tatsu is at the end of November 2016, don’t miss out.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Tatsu Japanese Cuisine
Intercontinental Hotel

165 Jalan Ampang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.159767, 101.718045
Tel03-2161 1111
Webwww.intercontinental.com