Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Interview with Japanese rocker Miyavi aka Samurai Guitarist

Japanese rock musician Miyavi, also known as the samurai guitarist, was recently in town for his Miyaki Live in Kuala Lumpur 2012 concert tomorrow.
Rock on!

This is Miyavi’s first time not only in Malaysia and but also the Southeast Asia region.
Fans of Miyavi, please don't be mad but I have to come clean and admit that I haven't heard of him until last week when I was informed about his concert and interview.
So I google-d him and when I checked out Google Images, I was surprised to see an androgynous-looking guy.
I was expecting an androgynous guy with braids and piercings, smoky-eyed, and wearing a kimono like the album cover of his 2008 This Iz the Japanese Kabuki Rock but what appeared before us at the press conference was a somewhat normal-looking guy with tattoos over his arms and chest.
Er...what happen to the braids and makeup?
“Each project, I have a different concept. In the previous project, I was trying to express Japanese culture and modern style, hence the look.
“Now I’m going for a more sophisticated and simplified look as a solo guitarist or ‘samurai guitarist’ as some people call me. So now onstage, I don’t wear a kimono, only naked,” he said.
I'm sooo jealous of his fair skin! I forgot to ask him what's up with the shades? Was he going for the cool rocker look or was it to cover his dark-circles?
Miyavi sure has a cheeky side to him. At the start of the press conference, when the floor is open for questions, he said, “You can ask me anything but the colour of my undies. It's pink btw."
When asked about his relationship with his guitar, he said, “It’s an illegal relationship. I’m married, with two daughters but the relationship with my guitar is deep and sensual.
“I just play my guitar, I feel like I can reach out to the people and I feel like I can support them through my music. Just playing my guitar, that’s my identity.
But the samurai guitarist is all seriousness when talking about music.
What do you think about about the declining of the popularity of Japanese pop or rock due to the rise of Korean pop? 
"It's a good thing," he said, without skipping a beat. Wow, I didn't expect this answer.
“Now people can realise how we must be responsible to keep rock in the world.
“Only in a moment, it can be ruined in the near future and that’s what happening right now.”
“Of course it’s not really a good thing that it (Jpop, Jrock) is declining.
It serves as a wake-up call. They are still sleeping, I’m not bad mouthing anyone in particular but we should not be satisfied with just the domestic market.

"Just putting on makeup, just smiling and saying ‘I love you’, doesn’t work as a musician.
“Of course we are entertaining on stage, putting up makeup and dressing up is important
“But the most important things are music, message, philosophy and attitude. Without any of that, it doesn’t work,” he said.

 Miyavi (right) exchanging albums with Malaysian violinist Dennis Lau.

Miyavi has three world tours under his belt, which totals over 150 shows in 30 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
The J-rocker was in Morocco two weeks ago and will be performing in Russia next month.
“I would like to go to Dubai, India and the African continent.
“I wonder if I have fans in the northern-most and southernmost places (Arctic and Antartic), I would love to play the guitar while clad in a thick jacket,” he said.
His latest album "What's My Name?", released October 2010, consists of songs traversing genres of rock, punk, hiphop, and dance, all composed with only the guitar and drums.
Last year, he collaborated with other “samurai” artistes on the “Samurai Session World Series” project.
“The message of these tracks is something I want to say to the world after last year’s catastrophe (2011 Tohoku earth quake)
“We received many support from other countries, including Malaysia.
“We can enjoy night time because we know that daybreak is coming. I used a bunch of negative words like contamination and destruction; but I’m going to blow them away, the light is coming our way.
“As long as we know we are on the right path, we can be strong,” he said.

Fans can expect something “More raw but strong, powerful and energetic” in his upcoming album, scheduled to be released next year.
“French electronic deejay-producer Yuksek, whom I collaborated with for my recent single ‘Day 1’ will be the co-producer or remixer for the new album.
 “Stronger beats, faster (guitar) slaps, and scream faster; these three are the core basis to describe my new album,” he said.
He added, “I want to make something new, new experiments.
“That is the only reason I want to make music if I do something that everyone already know of, it is meaningless.”

He will be celebrating his elder daughter’s three-year-old birthday soon and being a father has also changed his perceptions.
“It takes forever to leave the house now, my daughters wouldn’t let me leave the house!
“As a father, I feel more responsible towards the future and I’m concerned about environmental issues on this earth,” he said.
He added, “My friends are doing a demonstration against the nuclear power. It is not a 100% right choice but we need to be more responsible
“We have to be concerned about people working in nuclear power plants and other issues about the environment like pollution.”

His KL concert was also in conjunction with Pavilion Kuala Lumpur’s Tokyo Street first anniversary celebration.
Here's a vid on what to expect for tomorrow's concert, enjoy!
notes: It's so nice that he actually asked for your name before the interview (great PR) as most of the time, we just jump straight into the interview. I was really impressed with this rock star as he is so quotable, unlike some who give very general statements. I'm now a fan. Rock on!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Miyavi Live in KL

Catch J-rocker Miyavi Live in KL!
Date:  July 25, 2012
Time: 8pm
Venue: The Stage, Avenue K, KL
For info,  visit http://a-creations.biz/a_creations/miyavi_live_in_kl_2012.html
I'll be posting the interview, photos, and video soon. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Popcorn time: Ice Age 4 Continental Drift

The story:
So the Scrat, the acorn-loving squirrel, was the cause for the once whole continent to split into how it is today?
Thanks to him, Manny (Ray Romano) is separated with his family during the continental drift. Along with him, Diego (Denis Leary), Sid (John Leguizamo) and his granny (Wanda Sykes) drifts across the sea on an iceberg.
As they try to find their way back home, they are captured by pirates lead by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage).

The review:
It's er...ok. Not as funny as I expected it, a lil' cheesy at times.
The animation is good though, the slippery ice surfaces look realistic.
I couldn't really catch the lyrics of the pirate song to appreciate it.
The ice is melting, will there even be an Ice Age 5?

Popcorn time: Madagascar 3 Europe's Most Wanted

Voices: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, etc.
The story:
The movie continues from Madagascar 2 where Alex the lion (Stiller), Marty the zebra (Rock), Melman the Giraffe (Schwimmer) and his girlfriend Gloria the hippo (Smith) are in Africa.
Fearing that they are wasting their life away there, Alex suggests that they go to Monte Carlo and get the penguins to get them back to New York city.
There they crossed paths with Monte Carlo Animal Control officer Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand) who sets her eyes on having their heads mounted on her wall.
To escape Dubois, they pretended to be circus animals so that they can board the circus train with Stefano the sea lion (Martin Short), Gia the jaguar (Jessica Chastain), and Vitaly the tiger (Bryan Craston).
Meanwhile, King Julien (Cohen)  falls in love with Sonya the bear (Frank Welker).

With Dubois in hot pursuit of the animals, will they make it back to New York in one piece?

The review:
It's a fun movie for both kids and adults, totally entertaining! Kudos to the scriptwriters for the witty lines and   jokes that will have you roaring with laughter. I would love to watch it again. 
To be frank, I thought nothing of Katy Perry's Firework prior to watching this animation but the song was really apt for the circus performance scene. Love it!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's for dinner? Breaking fast at Kitchen Art Brasseries @ Empire Hotel

Feast on an array of traditional and special kampung-style dishes from the Northern, Southern and Eastern states at Empire Hotel’s Kitchen Art Brasseries this Ramadan.
The Seenak Warisan Ibunda promo will feature delicacies from different regions every week, namely Perak (July 21 till 30), Kelantan (July 31 till Aug 8) and Negeri Sembilan (August 9 till 18).
There will be more than 50 exciting buffet items to choose from.
One of the highlights is the Sup Gear Box, a specialty of Chef Hazif Ramli and it is available daily during this period. 
This dish is cooked for about six hours to bring out the taste and also to soften the flesh off the huge chunk of bone. Diners can use the straw to slurp up the bone marrow together with the rich soup.
I can't say how it tastes like because I do not eat beef.
There is an assortment of kerabu such as Kerabu Mangga Muda, Som Tam, Kerabu Ikan Keli, and Kerabu Kacang Botol. 
Sadly not all food items were labelled during the review so I did not know what was what.
Apart from the buffet spread, you can find grilled whole lamb, chicken and lamb kebab, bubur lambuk, ikan bakar, and roti John at the stalls. 
For dessert, there is Malay kuih, tapai pulut, pandan sago gula Melaka, pastries and cakes.
My favourite? the Ayam Goreng Berempah, which could be enjoyed on its on or with Nasi Minyak; as well as the ikan bakar that was grilled to how I like it: it was not over-grilled and the natural sweetness of the fish was retained.
Guests will be entertained with a ghazal performance daily and a fashion show by Styleicious Boutique at the Emperor Ballroom every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8pm onwards.

The buffet dinner can be enjoyed daily from July 21 till Aug 18 from 7pm to 10pm. 
It is priced at RM86++ per person (adults) and RM50++ per person (children and senior citizens). 
Buy eight and get one free if you come in a group or purchase the early bird promotion which is buy one, get one voucher, available from June 22 onwards. Drop your name card upon arrival for daily lucky draws and all diners will receive a complimentary takeaway Chicken Cornish.
Located at the hotel’s lobby level, the Kitchen Art Brasserie is divided into indoor and outdoor dining. The indoor dining hall showcases ala minute cooking by chefs alongside the buffet counter whereas, the outdoor dining area provides diners a view of the greenery across the highway.
Empire Hotel has 198 tastefully appointed rooms with the latest amenities is the newest hotel in the Subang Jaya area. The hotel also has Di Wei Chinese Cuisine Restaurant and Shout (bar). There are three function rooms and one Emperor Ballroom to cater to all your meeting needs. Empire Hotel Subang sits majestically on top of the integrated Empire Shopping Gallery which is strategically located at the side of the Federal Highway.

Empire Hotel Subang Jaya, 
Level 2, Jalan SS16/1,
SS16, Subang Jaya, Selangor, 

Tel: 03–5565 1388
Website: www.empirehotel.com.my 

p/s: We were not pleased to see that diners have made their way to the food before we arrived. Don't get me wrong, I'm ok with people eating before me but I'm not okay with the foods being messed up. All the foods, especially desserts (the cakes were cut up here and there, so not nice for pics) were disfigured before we managed to take photos. I hope other restaurants can let us know ahead of time so we can come before the crowd for a photo-taking session.

ok, fine, here are the photos:

Someone got to em before I took this pic, oh well.

Love the chocolate dessert :)

What's for dinner? Breaking fast at Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur

Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur's Planters’ Inn offers its Semarak Ramadan buffet from July 21 to Aug 18.

Executive chef Mohd Ridzuan Abd Malek said they aim to provide freshness and variety for diners as well as healthier choices this Ramadan with minimal wastage.
“Olive oil is used for grilling and salad dressing and we offer low fat yoghurt and mayonnaise.
“We use rock sugar for the bubur and it is less sweet but we have a bowl of sugar next to it and you can adjust the sweetness accordingly,” he said.
I'm glad to hear that they strive to avoid wasting by
offering smaller portions (ie: cutting kuih into smaller pieces). You are welcome to take more if you like it after sampling it.
According to the chef, there is an increase from 200 items to 350 choices in the buffet menu.
New items this year are tempura at the Japanese section, Mongolian barbecue by the Chinese kitchen and Nasi Kandar.
Take your pick from items like Sliced Chicken Breast, Sliced Gizzard, Sliced Lamb, Sliced Red Snapper, Sliced Salmon, Flower Crab, Fresh Prawn (Butterfly), Squid, and Green Mussel at the Mongolian barbeque section and the chef will cook it up for you.
The Warung Nasi Kandar offers Beef Massala, Lamb Dalcha, Vegetables Dalcha, Fried Fish Roe with Tumeric & Onion, Fish Head Curry with Okra & Brinjal, Stir Fried Bendi with Dried Shrimp, Egg Foo Yung and Ayam Madu.
A chef from India for this month to man the Tandoori section and kebab.

So with all that on the buffet spread, what did I go for first? Desserts of course:

 I went for crepe with custard cream filling. It was great that the crepe was made on the spot as I do not fancy cold crepe; the warm crepe paired with ice-cream was certainly a delightful combination.

Chocolate lovers can dip their favourite condiments such as marshmallow and fruits at the Chocolate Fountain Bar.
Kuih: Tepung Talam, Keria, Tepung Pelita, Ketayap, Seri Muka, Lepat, Kuih Talam, Bingka Pisang, Kuih Badak, and Putu Piring.
Drinks: there is Tongkat Ali Teh Tarik and Kacip Fatimah Coffee, a variety of refreshing drinks such as mango and kiwi juices and a special mixture of lychee and green tea.
Bubur (sweet porridge)  Kacang Hijau and Durian, Pengat Ubi and Sago, Pulut Hitam, Bubur Cha Cha, Pengat Labu, Pengat Pisang Bersago, Bubur Gandum, Bubur Jagung, Pengat Ubi Keledek, and Serawa Durian.

Enough text, let's check out the photos:
An assortment of crunchies
At the seafood bar, you can find Chillean and New Zealand mussels

Seafood items waiting to be grilled. I love the grilled fish.
A variety of noodles

I know I could easily get these fried snacks at food stalls but I just couldn't resist fried jackfruit.

Malaysian kuih
more kuih...
egg tarts. So-so lah

Just a random shot of pickles

Veggie wraps, best paired with sweet & sour chilli sauce
Ais Kacang
A buka puasa must-have---ketupat & lemang

Crème brûlée?


The salad was supposed to be stuffed into the sharwarma, but I enjoyed it on its own, love the fact that the mayonnaise was just the right amount. I do not fancy salad drowning in dressing.

Planters’ Inn will provide Terawih prayers by an Imam, collection of Zakat and Ghazal live band performance.

I was about to leave when I saw that they have brought out the macaroons. It was chewy and yummy, love it! Wished that I had more space in my tummy to fit more ;)

The Semarak Ramadan buffet is available at RM108++ per person. Children four to 12-years-old dine at 50% off.
Alternatively, you can experience a Kampung Bazaar-style buka puasa at the hotel’s outdoor Garden Terrace on level 30 at RM110++ per person from July 21 to Aug 20. For reservations, call 03-2146 3807, 3879, 3885 or catering@cpmkl.com.

Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
(Tel: 03-2146 3820/3821).
Website: www.crowneplazakl.com.
Business hours: 6.30am-11pm;
Ramadan buffet is available from 7pm to 10pm.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What's for dinner? Breaking fast at Putrajaya Marriott Hotel &Spa

Ramadan special: Putrajaya Marriott Hotel & Spa

The holy month of Ramadan is just around the corner and restaurants are offering Ramadan promotions. For starters, let's take a look at what Putrajaya Marriott Hotel & Spa has to offer.
As its name indicates, the Ratusan Resipi Ramadan at Zest in Putrajaya Marriott Hotel & Spa will offer diners hundreds of selections in the buffet spread from July 23 to Aug 15, 2012.
The buffet is spread out and it seemed rather spacious; so for example if there's a long queue at the seafood section, you could always go to the Mexican corner.

The affable Hotel Malay Chef Zulkifli Mohammad took us through the buffet spread, introducing the various items offered for diners. 

One of the highlights is Putrajaya Marriott’s signature Ramadan buffet specialty-- Tujuh Kawah which consists of Kari Kepala Ikan, Ayam Kerutup, Daging Gulai Kawah, Ikan Assam Pedas, Perut Lembu Masak Cili Padi, Kambing Kuzi, and Dalca Tulang Rawan.

New additions to the menu include the calf of cow and the all new Dusun Buah with a selection of local fruits such as durian, nangka (jackfruit), rambutan, mangosteen, and cempedak.

Check out the salad options.

Grilled seafood items like grilled squid, prawns, crabs, stingrays, and otak-otak.

Cold cuts

Chefs from other restaurants in the hotel also chip in for the buffet at Zest.
For example, Midori chef Uramoto Katsuyuki lends a hand to the Japanese section that offers maki sushi (rolled sushi), California maki rolls, and salmon slices. 

 I appreciate a good selection of breads. Pity I couldn't try all during the review.

 The cheese platter.

For those who love seafood:

 A big fish is served daily during the Ramadan promo.

For me, what sets Zest apart from other Ramadan buffet is its Mexican station as most restaurants usually offer Malay, Japanese, Indian and Chinese cuisine. 

Here you will find with tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas, and various salsa sauces.

And now, my favourite part of every buffet---desserts:
I was quite stuffed by the time I got to desserts so I only managed to try a few yummy selections. Note-to-self (and fellow dessert fans), go for desserts first!

Kuih-muih, cakes, tarts, sweet porridges, etc...the list is endless.

I recommend the  Teppanyaki Ice Cream. Just choose your fave flavour and the chef will whip up a Teppanyaki ice-cream. It's a simple yet lovely treat.

 Malaysian kuih (to know what kuih is, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuih)

Choose your favourite toppings at the Ais Kacang section

Strawberry desserts ^^

I like the fact that this choc cake is cut into bite-sizes.

  Verrine (confection served in small glass). I just love the gorgeous colors.

Ok, by now you could tell that I really LOVE desserts ;)

Other items:
A chef from Mumbai was invited to helm the Tandoor station that serves North and South Indian food such as murtabak, roti canai, curries and chutneys.
Nasi Briyani, Nasi Kerabu, Bubur Lambuk, steamed and deep-fired dim sum, and roast lamb.
Fried items: chicken wings, Ikan Basung, and seafood items on skewers. 
Noodle station: Curry Mee, Assam Laksa, Prawn Mee, Mee Siam, and Mee Goreng Mamak.
Rojak: Rojak Pasembur, Rojak Sotong Kangkung, Rojak Buah, and Rojak Singapore.
The usual satay, ketupat and serunding.
...and many more.

During the media preview, we were told that this was only 40% of the actual buffet so you could imagine the variety of foods. If you are a moderate eater like me, you would need to go there at least 5 times to be able to sample every item.

  • The Ratusan Resipi Ramadan Buka Puasa Buffet is priced at RM105++ per adult and RM63++ per child. It is available from July 23 to Aug 15.
  • Surau rooms are available for Muslim guests.
  • Aside from the buka puasa buffet, Zest also have regular buffet dinner during Ramadan on July 21, 22 and Aug 16, 17, 18; priced at RM88++ per adult and RM53++ per child.
  • The Hari Raya Hi-Tea Buffet, priced at RM68++ per adult and RM41++ per child offers local and international dishes like Serunding Daging and Ketupat, Rendang, Wajik, Ais Kacang, Roti Jala and Satay.
  • You can also enjoy Sahur Buffet from July 21 to Aug 18 from 3am till Subuh. Priced at RM52++ per adult and RM31++ per child, Sahur Buffet is interchangeable for guests who are entitled for the regular breakfast buffet.
  • You can enjoy the Sahur In-Room Dining in the comforts of your room with five rotating menus after midnight to before Subuh from July 20 to Aug 18. Priced at RM52++, it is exchangeable for breakfast buffet for all in-house guests that are entitled to breakfast with room.
  • Other food outlets in the hotel also offer special buka puasa meals such as the Ramadan All-you-can-eat Dinner in Summer Palace, Ramadan Special Bento Set in Japanese restaurant Midori, and Ramadan Special Italian Set Dinner in Italian restaurant Tuscany.
Zest in Putrajaya Marriott Hotel & Spa is located in IOI Resort City, Sepang Utara. 
Ramadan hotline: 03-8949 8888 ext 1330 or 1965. 
Business hours: 6.30am to 10.30pm daily.