1Utama was the chosen shopping centre for today’s designated day of shopping.
1Utama, like is the case with many of the other places I last visited 6 years ago, is one of those places which went from walkable, to absolutely friggen huge. The old part of 1Utama is still there, parts of it I even remember, but together with the new extension, a whole day is needed for a half decent shop, but probably a day or three for a more thorough session.
Julia, as you can imagine, was in her element at just the thought of this shopping paradise.
Anticipating the full day ahead of us, we got up at a fairly respectable time. We took a taxi that dropped us near the old end of the mall. This suited us fine. I had pre-warned Julia about my urgent need for food, as I could feel an onset of grumpy, to which the only antidote is food.
However, the moment we stepped in the door, she started shopping. By the 3rd shop I could stave off grumpy no longer, and a sudden attack of grumpy brought to Julia’s attention the urgency of my need for food. After a brief exploration we settled on The Laksa Shack for breakfast.
We ordered our food to rush, and I gambled on a cup of white coffee from some or other state, but I lost badly. It was no better than a Nescafe 3-in-1 – in fact, recalling it now, it was much worse and won the award for the worst cup of coffee in Kuala Lumpur. The Asam Laksa was only so-so and not quite what I expected from a place calling itself Laksa Shack.
After breakfast our journey continued and we meandered through the new parts of 1Utama, going from shop to shop and finding loads of interesting little things. It wasn’t too long after breakfast when we passed a Rotiboy, and Julia was overwhelmed with nostalgia and insisted on trying one of their sweet pastries. Stuffed from breakfast I told her that she was on her own on this.
Rotiboy is one of those businesses in dire need of a copywriter with a firm grasp of English. On their wall they had painted the following:
To all the hungry people in the world…
I am here and you are there
But for you I always care
To know how you feel
How you fare and how I wish
I’m always there “roti”
I sort of see where they’re going with this, but if, like they did, you’re going to slap this larger than life on the wall of your store, surely you would want to make the message and language of your marketing effort painlessly clear and easy to understand. I weighed this against what I had read on the box of J. Co Donuts, and decided that J. Co remained undefeated in the Absurd Marketing Copy category.
A good strategy that 1Utama implements is having loads and loads of eateries in their shopping centre. It’s equivalent of Shell wanting to have a petrol station every kilometer (in KK at least), because you never know when you’re going to run out of fuel. In 1Utama it’s exactly like that – you’re bulldozing ahead, working your way from floor to floor when*wham*, low blood sugar strikes and you have to replenish your energy in order to continue.
While Julia shopped with the earnest of the last dinosaur on earth looking for a mate, I stumbled from pit-stop to pit-stop, constantly looking for ways to keep my energy levels up. It’s painfully clear that men were not designed for shopping marathons.
Literally. Juice Works is the health conscious’ Starbucks and they actually saved my ass in quiet a few malls. They have a varied selection of juices which are crated right in front of your very eyes, so you know the ingredients are fresh and healthy and almost instantly gets the sugar level and the energy back up.
On several occasions we had a wheat grass shot – the marketing blurb claims that 1 shot of wheat grass is the equivalently of 1kg of vegetables. Not sure about that, but it was novel, because it sure wasn’t delicious. It came on a small tray, one shot of wheat grass with a slice of orange, which I thought was kind of cute. At RM2 it’s difficult to say no – especially with the perceived benefits.
In 1Utama they again saved my life when after taking about 90 minutes to finish off one floor, I was nearly dead on my feet, I stumbled past a Juice Works and grabbed the hopping and skipping Julia, forcing her to take a break. I had a juice mix cleverly called Energy Booster and immediately felt better after finishing it.
On our exploration we had seen people sit down at this mall-side cafe and had some flaming and smoking things going on the table. Julia had previously been here, so she suggested it for lunch.
The place is called Charmed, a quasi Vietnamese influenced menu had all sorts of things on it, but Julia recommended we take the self-BBQ lamb for it’s novelty value. I once again ordered a coffee, which tasted virtually the same as at the Laksa Hut, only the coffee was much, much stronger. I hated every sip.
The self-BBQ lamb redeemed Charmed from damnation though and it certainly was a novelty. Piled with a heap of pre-cooked lamb, the little BBQ allows you to grill the meat to taste. There were some seriously large chunks of fat on some of the chops so I left them hanging over the small fire and with the dripping fat, created quite a large fire.
As the flames crackled and the smoke filled the air, I looked up at the smoke detectors and fire sprinklers high up against the ceiling and wondered how the management ever gave approval for this menu item. The lamb that I didn’t burn to an absolute crisp were in fact quite yummy, although the flammable jelly they used in lieu of charcoal, did give it a strange after taste.
Our lunch was fairly sedate (by now we realised how much we’d been eating), so we finished up in good time and continued our exploration. I was well tired and Julia and I agreed that she would zoom off on her own whilst I hang around and do my own thing.
As I discovered more of the mall and realised that the entire Kuala Lumpur take their Christmas decorations very seriously, and that 1Utama was no exception. In the centre court they had a huge Nutcracker theme going with giagantic figurines from the story. While I ooh-ed and ah-ed Julia discovered a few sales and I was roped in to broaden my clothing horizon.
We were done shopping around 6pm, which was well timed, as that is about the time that Julia’s brother finishes work. We had planned to go for a steamboat dinner in Section 22, so he was on his way over to fetch us. Whilst we waited, Julia did some last last minute shopping whilst I nodded off in a particularly comfortable couch that I found in a common area.
Julia’s bro picked us up and whisked us away to Section 22 where we were going to sample the steamboat they had on offer. It was conveniently close to the cheap beer place we ended up in one of our earlier nights.