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Restaurant Mei Six Hin (美食轩) is a newly opened Chinese restaurant located at Prima Sri Gombak in Batu Caves and the result of many years of hard work by Chef Steven Cheng and his wife.

Chef Steven Cheng brings his passion of cooking back to the tables with many years of vast experience from various top Chinese restaurants. Even celebrities from Hong Kong like Eric Tsang (曾志偉) had quietly made a table reservation for Chef Steven's private cooking.

First to arrive was a large hotpot casserole Poon Choi (盆菜, RM 168 for small / RM 268 for large) and we were gripped with excitement as we opened the lid.

Poon choi, pun choi, poon choy) is a traditional communal banquet dish served in a huge tub and often eaten during festivals. Preparing poon choi is a tedious process; from steaming to deep frying, pan grilling, poaching, roasting, braising and then carefully layered to achieve the synergy between the layers of ingredients.

This wonderful one-pot feast is stuffed with chock-full of decadent treasures such as roast pork, roast duck, steamed chicken, scallops, sweet and spicy prawns, sea cucumbers, fish maw, dried oysters, pork trotters, mushrooms and "abalone" slices. For those who prefers a more lavish ingredients with real abalone, it will be RM 250 for small or RM 500 for large.

We asked for white rice as the glorified gravy was simply irresistible!

A definite must-have dish from Chef Steven, the Shanghai Style Dried Chili Chicken (RM 15/20/30, 上海辣子鸡). These delicious deep-fried chicken pieces melded with the intense aroma of the wok and the spicy heat from the dried chilies. It was so good that we had to order another plate as the first one was polished off within minutes!

Pork Ribs with Italian Sauce (RM 18/30/45, 香草排骨), the slices of pork ribs were surprisingly tender and coated with a balance of sweet and sour sauce seasoned with fragrant Italian herbs.

Garoupa Rolls in Supreme Broth (RM 18/30, 麒麟斑片), steamed thick garoupa slices wrapped with crunchy snow peas and dressed with a golden supreme broth. Generally, fresh deep sea garoupa fish has a firm meaty texture and delicate flavor. The nicely thickened supreme broth was not overpowering but a little mild for my preference.

A newly created dish from Chef Steven, the Steamed Lotus Leaf with Chicken and Chinese Ham (RM 18, 荷叶云腿鸡). The lotus leaf helps in preserving the moist and flavors of the wrapped marinated chicken, mushroom and Jin Hua ham (金華火腿). Besides that, it imbues an earthy aroma and imparts it to the wrapped chicken.

The moment the wrapped leaf was opened, we could almost "see" the flavors rising up. According to Chef Steven, a thin slice of expensive Jinhua ham was used to lend a faint smoky saltiness to the wrapped ingredients. It's like the Chinese's version of jamón ibérico ham from Spain!

Stir Fried Asparagus with Lily Bulb, Pine Nuts and Macadamia (RM 12/18/25, 佛门正果), it was a vibrant medley of flavors with a splash of crunchy nutty taste.

Yet another signature dish from Chef Steven, the Salt Baked Tilapia Fish (RM 25) or also known as "Suet San Fei Wu" (雪山飞狐, The Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain) as the fish was covered with salt resembling a white snowy mountain. It was funny, shouldn't it be "Suet San Fei Yu" (雪山飞鱼, The Flying Fish of Snowy Mountain) instead?

The salt absorbs the heat and turns into a hard crust that seals in the flavor and moisture without making the fish tastes overly salty. It took about 45 minutes to bake this fish over the wok with slow heat till perfection.

The fish was also stuffed with chopped chili, ginger, shallot, garlic and some dong quai to give a delightful fragrant to the fish. It was the best salt baked fish we've ever eaten!

During meals, we toasted almost continuously with glasses being clanked to shouts of ganbei. Instead of the usual Western wines that get all the attention these days, we opted for traditional Chinese wines that are often neglected. Chinese food with Chinese wines, that's the way it should be!

Aged Shaoxing Rice Wine (绍兴花雕酒) is one of the oldest Chinese wine with a history of over 2,400 years from China. For several thousand years this has been the preferred alcoholic beverage of the Chinese and widely used in Chinese cuisine. This amber-colored wine with 16.5% alcohol content emits an enchanting aroma that warms up our stomach and invigorates blood circulation. I became "red" instantly.

The next wine we had was Kuei Hua Chen Chiew (桂花陈酒). Made from well-chosen flowers in bud, it was sweet, light and refreshing. This will be particularly popular with young adults and women.

Meal hats off and compliments to Chef Steven Cheng and his wife, Winnie. They are such humble and fantastic host!

Verdict: Restaurant Mei Six Hin is a hidden treasure for those seeking for scrumptious classy Chinese cuisine. Most of his dishes were well executed and we're definitely going back to Chef Steven Cheng for more of his creations soon!

G-62, Jalan Prima SG 3/1,
Prima Sri Gombak,
68100 Selangor
Tel: 012-359 3109 (Steven) / 017-279 9927 (Winnie)
Business Hours: Opens daily for lunches and dinners. Close every fortnight Monday.
Pork Free: No
GPS: 3.238211, 101.701179

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Gyeongbokgung (경복궁), also known as Gyeongbok Palace, is a royal palace located in central district (Jongno-gu) of Seoul. It is the main and largest palace of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the Joseon Dynasty. The name of the palace, Gyeongbokgung, translates in English as the "Palace of Shining Happiness."

Gyeongbokgung is easily accessible by Subway Line #3 - Gyeongbokgung Station (Exit #5) and Subway Line #5 - Ganghwamun Station (400m walk from Exit #2).

The admission fee for adults (age 19 - 64) is KRW 3,000 (RM 8.55), youths (age 7 - 18) is KRW 1,500 (RM 4.28) and age 6 or below is free of charge. Gyeongbokgung operates from 9:00am - 6:00pm (March - October) / 9:00am - 5:00pm (November - February) and is closed every Tuesday.

Heungnyemun Gate

Gyeongbokgung was originally constructed in 1394 by King Taejo, the first king and the founder of the Joseon Dynasty.

The majority of the palace was razed to the ground during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598) and the palace site was left in ruins for the next three centuries. Only in 1867, the palace buildings were reconstructed and Gyeongbokgung again became an iconic symbol for the Korean nation and the Korean royal family.

Once again in 1911 during the Japanese occupation of Korea, the Japanese government systematically destroyed most of the buildings within Gyeongbokgung and only few survived. Only from 1989, the South Korean government started a 40-years initiative to rebuild the structures that were destroyed.

One of the highlight of Gyeongbokgung had to be the change of the guards ceremony every hourly from 10am - 4pm in front of the Gwanghwamun Gate (광화문, the Main and South Gate of Gyeongbokgung) and Heungnyemun Gate (흥례문, the Second Inner Gate).

This ceremony first took place in 1469 and it is re-enacted with the guards dressed in bright traditional uniforms of red, yellow and blue, complete with weapons; and they "change" to the sound of drums.

The royal guards marching out from the Gwanghwamun gate with their colorful flags.

You can get up close with the guards for photo taking but we're not too sure about touching them. We wouldn't dare to. Especially standing next to them as they loomed over you with a weapon in their hand, it was best not to mess with them.

Free guided tours by Korean lady dressed in their traditional hanbok is available in front of the Information Office inside Heungnyemun Gate (the Second Inner Gate).

The tour takes approximately one hour and the schedule is as follows:

* English: 11:00, 13:30, 15:30
* Japanese: 10:00, 12:30, 14:30
* Chinese: 10:30, 13:00, 15:00

After entering Geunjeongmun (근정문, the Third Inner Gate), we arrived at Geunjeongjeon (근정전, the Throne Hall). Geunjeongjeon, is the throne hall where the king formally granted audiences to his officials, gave declarations of national importance, and greeted foreign envoys and ambassadors.

Inside the compound, there are these small stone pillars leading up towards Geunjeongjeon with numbers engraved on them. They are known as the "rank stones". When official events were held, the civil officials would line up according to rank behind the relevant stone.

On the ceiling above the Throne Hall, a lifelike dragon painting emphasizes the King's nobility.

We had a nice quiet walk within the inner chambers exploring every nook and cranny. Getting off this area, you have two directions to choose from. To the left from the Throne Hall, you have the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion (경회루, Royal Banquet Hall) sitting on an island of man-made lake. Sadly, we missed this out as we happily turned right to the museum pagoda.

The skyscraping pagoda resting atop the National Folk Museum of Korea can be seen from afar. Don't think we can visit the pagoda at all, it's probably just for display purposes.

Tickets for Gyeongbokgung are also valid for the National Folk Museum and the National Palace Museum (located near the main entrance of Gwanghwamun Gate). We couldn't visit the National Palace Museum as it was closed every Monday.

The National Folk Museum presents historical artifacts that were used in the daily lives of ordinary Korean people. Here you can fully immerse yourselves in the past domestic and agricultural lifestyles, and learn about Korea's cultural beliefs.

It might get a little boring after awhile especially if you're not the type who appreciates history.

How we wished to have a money printing factory and used these money with our faces on it!

A mini street located next to the pagoda museum is a recreation of vintage 70s Korean village complete with vintage boutique, coffee house, vintage music records store and comic book shop.

Then, we walked back out of the museum grounds into the main part of Gyeongbokgung heading towards the Hyangwonji Lake (향원지).

Hyangwonjeong Pavilion (향원정, "Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance"), is a small two-story hexagonal pavilion constructed on an artificial island of a lake named Hyangwonji and a bridge named Chwihyanggyo (취향교, "Bridge Intoxicated with Fragrance") connects it to the palace grounds.

Right up north to the lake is the private royal residence built by King Gojong known as Geoncheonggung (건청궁). In 1895, Empress Myeongseong, the wife of King Gojong, was brutally assassinated by the Japanese agents at Geoncheonggung. Her body was raped, cut, burned and buried near the residence. Haunted by the experiences of the incident, King Gojong left the palace and since then, the royal family never returned to Gyeongbokgung.

The next stop was Jibokjae (집옥재, "Hall of Collecting Jade"). Located next to Geoncheonggung Residence, Jibokjae is a two-story private library used by King Gojong. Jibokjae is flanked by Parujeong (팔우정) to the left, an octagonal two-story pavilion that was constructed to store books.

Reaching the end of our Gyeongbokgung journey, we arrived to the North Gate known as Sinmumun (신무문). Going through Sinmumun, we caught a glimpse of Cheongwadae (청와대) or also known as "The Blue House" with Mount Bukhansan (북한산) in the backdrop. Cheongwadae is the executive office and official residence of the President of the Republic of Korea.

To say that we were disappointed would have been an understatement, so don't put your expectations too high. Gyeongbokgung is very reminiscent of "The Forbidden City" in China, although on a much smaller scale and less grandeur. Still, this is the royal palace and it's definitely a must-visit in Seoul!

It's best to go early with the free one-hour tour guide because knowledge of the historical background will make the trip a lot more interesting than wandering off by yourself. We arrived late and missed out some. Hence, we weren't able to truly appreciate Gyeongbokgung's bygone era.

Only after researching and blogging about Gyeongbokgung, we've learnt so much and impressed with the efforts to protect the ground, culture and history of it! We hope to catch a different perspective Gyeongbokgung in the near future maybe during the fall season.


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