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Lake Toya, Japan

Spot of Tranquility.

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Little India, Singapore

Spices, gold and splashes of colour!

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Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay

Garden City, City in a Garden.

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Bryce Canyon, USA

Thor's Hammer

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Chocolate Test, Singapore

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." -Charles M Schulz

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Poison Ivy Bistro

After walking around the farm in Bollywood Veggies, it is only right that you visit Poison Ivy Bistro. The menu (which changes on weekends) is on a chalkboard.


We had the Vegetarian Platter ($15) which was sufficient for 2 people. We initially wanted to order more food but the waiter advised against doing so because he said it might be too much. Good effort for minimising food wastage!

The Moringa Tempura was dangerously addictive. You just keep reaching in for one more because it was not oily and was very crispy. Plus there was this disillusion that it's healthier than other forms of chips.

There was also Papaya Salad, Mixed Vegetables, Samosa, Tofu, Spring Rolls etc in the Vegetarian Platter. They tasted pretty average. After all, these dishes are very common and it would take some effort to do these badly.


We also ordered the famous Kueh Kosui ($2.50). It was smooth, not overly sticky and had a chewy bite to it. This was accompanied by fresh grated coconut.


When we were there, they also had The Chairman's Stall where the owner of this place would be cooking something. On the day we were there, he was grilling some satay. 


If you are looking for a place where food can be served quickly, this isn't the place to be. We had to wait around 25 minutes for our kueh kosui- reason being, "we take around 2 minutes to prepare each dessert. Since there are 10 other dessert orders, just multiply." One waiter was also not sure what was on the menu- he had to check with someone else, who would go to the chalkboard to check.

Besides that, this place serves affordable, reasonably-priced and healthy food. Definitely worth a try if you are in the area.

Poison Ivy Bistro
100 Neo Tiew Road
Tel No: 6 898 5001

Bollywood Veggies

Bollywood Veggies is somewhere I would definitely call ulu. It is not a place I would want to go by public transport because it will take more than 1.5 hour to reach there. 

We were lucky to reach there in the morning because by noon, the haze had started to creep up. 


You will see references to "the Gentle Warrior" littered all around the compound. What exactly does "gentle warrior" refer to? It turns out that it refers to Ivy Singh-Lim, the owner of this place. Ivy's father's ancestry descends from the warrior class. Together with her husband, they run this farm tucked at Kranji.


Bollywood Veggies is an ideal place to spend an idle weekend or to bring your kids for an educational trip.


Besides different kinds of farm produce (where no pesticides are used), there are random objects of interest around. For example, there are two swings hanging from the trees, little tree stumps for you to step on to have a good view of the entire farm premises.


Oregano, papaya, chilli, orchids etc. Get to know how the food we eat looks like in its original form!


After visiting the farm, it will be a crime not to visit their in-house bistro, Poison Ivy!

Bollywood Veggies
100 Neo Tiew Road
Open: Wednesday to Friday (9:30 am to 6:30 pm)
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: (8 am to 6:30 pm) 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dancing Crab

Yet another of those dining experiences this year that make me go "Wow, I need to start telling people how good the food here is." Make your reservations way in advance because this place fills up very quickly. 


Dancing Crab serves country-style Cajun seafood. Cajuns are an ethnic group mainly living in Louisiana, USA. Based on what limited supposed Cajun cuisine I have tried so far, it seems that a trip to New Orleans is absolutely necessary to the happiness of my stomach.


Instead of the mantous that we are used to in Chinese restaurants, we ordered some Grilled Butter Rolls ($2 per piece). These lightly buttered rolls were perfect to mop up the goodness of the sauce for the seafood- regardless of whether it's Western style or Chinese style crabs, it is a waste to leave any kind of sauce in the plate!


These Garlic Soy Sauce Wings ($9) were as good as or better than the highly raved 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken. Very crispy chicken coated with a sweet, salty and addictive garlic soy sauce.


The star of the show had to be the Combo Bag ($80). Supposedly for 2 people to share, we shared it amongst 3-4 people. It consisted of a Sri Lankan Crab, prawns, clams, potatoes, corn and sausages.

Here, you get to return to human's caveman instincts and just eat with your hands. I am a person who, as far as possible, tears a prawn apart using utensils because I am too lazy to wash my hands and do not like my hands reeking of seafood. But here, it's hard not to think "Aiya, whatever, eat with hands then eat with hands la." For the avoidance of doubt, the smell of the sauce lingered on after many hand washes until the next day. 

You could choose from different sauces- Dancing Crab Signature (Mild, Spicy or Extra Spicy), Herb Butter, Beurre Blanc and Tangy Garlic Butter. We got the Dancing Crab Signature. The sauce had a tomato base, with garlic and other herbs and seasoning. It tasted like tomato pasta sauce, but a more refined version of it. 

Seafood- fresh. Corn- juicy. Experience- wonderful. 


Don't come here if you don't want people to judge you for eating messily. But besides that, there is no reason why you should skip this place if you love seafood.

Service- server who took our orders had an extremely indifferent and bored face. They were also short handed.

Dancing Crab
The Granstand
200 Turf Club Road
#01-20/21
Tel No: 6 466 3303 

Monday, October 6, 2014

China Mania!: The Global Passion for Porcelain @ Asian Civilisations Museum

Has it already been 3 years since I last visited this museum? The last time I came here, the museum had the exhibition on Terracotta Warriors which I thoroughly enjoyed. We were in the area deciding what to do when our legs brought us here. Free admission for Singapore Citizens and PRs. 


The main thing we really took away from this exhibition was how porcelain was being exported around the world, how Chinese porcelain inspired competition (read: imitation) and how the distinct influences from different countries are apparent from the design of the porcelain.

Porcelain is made with a clay rich in silicates, called kaolin. When Marco Polo saw porcelain being made in China, he called it porcellana (Italian for a type of white seashell).

During the reign of the Ming emperor, overseas trade was banned and exports of porcelain dropped. Potters from Thailand and Vietnam then started making their own porcelain.



Kendi is a pouring vessel with a spout on the side, without a handle.


Kendi in the shapes of animals were mass-produced. Animals such as elephants, cockerels, phoenixes, and ducks were considered auspicious emblems.


The exhibition text was in English only. Click here to select your Gallery Guides, in English, Chinese Malay or Tamil.

The interactivity level of this exhibition was low but that was fine. If you are interested in porcelain or just want to visit a museum for free, make a trip here!

Asian Civilisations Museum
1 Empress Place
Singapore 179555

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Kusu Island

Many things in life don't go according to plan. But as long as we are fine with going with the flow, who knows what we may find? 

Initially, we wanted to go to Lazarus Island. But things didn't go according to plan as there weren't ferries to Lazarus Island during the Kusu Island pilgrimage month. 

We proceeded to Kusu Island then- on a ferry where we were the youngest passengers on a weekday morning. 


For $16, you get a return ticket to Kusu Island. Get to Marina South Pier first and then get to the Singapore Island Cruise booth. Check out the ferry schedule before you leave as well.


It was a 20 minute boat ride to Kusu Island. 


Kusu Island means "Tortoise Island". It is a legend that a magical tortoise turned itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors. Every year during the ninth lunar month, devotees will go to Kusu Island.


On the way to the Tua Pek Kong temple.



Besides a temple and a Keramat, you will also get to enjoy some beautiful views- look at how clear the waters are (at least compared to say, East Coast Park)! You can swim, fish, have a picnic (which we did, and it was fantastic) or just have a stroll.


We left the ferry terminal at 10 plus and reached back mainland at around 2 p.m. If you are looking for somewhere where you can still get internet connection yet get away from the bustle of city life, why not make a trip to Kusu Island?


Sunday, September 28, 2014

JBM Coffee & Dining

I always appreciate places in CBD that open till late because if I'm working late, at least I won't be starving. One Raffles Place re-opened recently and one night, we decided to pop by JBM Coffee & Dining


I didn't have much expectations for this place, and expected it to serve average food.


There was a 1-for-1 promotion and since we didn't mind eating duck, we got the JBM Ling Duck ($19). I enjoyed this dish thoroughly- beautifully cooked slices of duck,  juicy mushrooms and a tangy rose sauce to accompany the linguine.


We also got the Chocolate Tart ($4.50). In an area where overpriced desserts are the norm, the decently priced tart with its smooth chocolate piled on a pie crust was value for money.


If the quality of all the items on the menu are like what I have eaten, I will be looking forward to more trips to this restaurant. Service was also polite.

JBM Coffee & Dining
One Raffles Place
1 Raffles Place
#03-23/24/25
Tel No: 6 536 1047 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Au Petit Salut

To celebrate a birthday, we went to Au Petit Salut. At Sin$38++ for set lunch, I guess it's considered decently priced given that the eateries at Dempsey are generally pricier. 


For starters, we got the Baked Burgundy Snails. I seldom eat snails but everytime I eat them, I can't help but think about the snails that are always on the pavement after the rain. Almost like eating mussels or clams, the snails were chewy and soaked in the the piping hot tomato fondue and herb garlic butter. After the richness of the tomato and garlic butter falls away, there is a slightly unpleasant taste of snails though.


For mains, I got a Risotto with Prawns, Baby Scallops, Squid, Arugula and Parmesan. I am not someone who enjoys cheese. Unfortunately, this was very cheesy (I should have read the menu more carefully). Ignoring the cheese aspect, there was plenty of fresh seafood in this dish.


For desserts, I got the Valrhona Dark Guanaja 70% Chocolate Gataux, Coffee ice cream. For this dessert, you had to pay an extra Sin$6. Anytime a dessert has cocoa content of 70% and above, I would definitely be having it. This dessert didn't disappoint and was an exploration of textures. The smoothness of the coffee ice cream which rested on a bed of crunchy crumbs, together with the luscious chocolate cake was a definite treat.


The food was more than what I would usually pay for a meal. In terms of value, I would say that it's only worth spending this amount for the ambience. Food was good but it wasn't worth its price. Service was attentive.

Au Petit Salut 
40C Harding Road
Tel No: 6475 1976

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Mulia (Nusa Dua, Bali)

1. Room

Everything about the room was great. The bed and pillows were very comfortable, the room was well equipped, there were 65 channels on TV, and the most fascinating of all (although not strictly necessary), the toilet seat is automated so that it opens and closes without you lifting a finger! 


I love places with orchids because they just seem to make everything look so elegant.


 2) Location 

Located around an hour away from Seminyak, we spent US$25 to get a hotel car to get the 6 of us to Potato Head at Seminyak.

The hotel is by the beach. There are plenty of seats near the beach so just grab a book and spend your afternoon in the perfect setting.

Besides these, there really isn't anything much in the vicinity.


3) Amenities 

I don't usually talk about pools in a hotel but the number of pools here is just fascinating.




Besides pools, there is a fitness centre, a tennis court, spa etc. What differentiates this fitness centre from others is that they provide free lessons like yoga and have free personal trainers as well. Keeping you healthy before you indulge in a good meal!

4) Restaurants 

The Cafe 

We had a lunch buffet at The Cafe. There were many stations, including Western food, Chinese food, Indian food, Japanese food, Korean food etc. The variety was just massive. But what really seriously took buffets to a whole new level was the Dessert Room. Or rather, dessert roomS. You enter into one dessert room and then this leads to another dessert room. There is just so much excitement a man's heart can take.

The Deli 

The Deli was a convenient place for us to take away some food. Serving cakes, chocolates, salad and sandwiches, this was a good option for those who want something light and quick.

From The Mulia
Table8 

There were mixed reviews about Table8. I liked the breakfast that was served though- an assortment of dim sum, porridge, Chinese desserts etc.

6) Service 
Service here was polite and not intrusive. There were many staff around the compound so when you got lost, you could just ask them how to get around.

Summary 

If you are looking for a quiet place to spend your time and would rather enjoy good facilities, food and service within the hotel compound, this hotel is for you.

The Mulia
Jalan Raya Nusa Dua Selatan
Kawasan Sawangan
Nusa Dua
Bali, Indonesia 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Medan Town

On its website, Medan Town describes itself as a "quaint 50-seater restaurant". Not sure what's so quaint about this place. It's simply a no-frills restaurant with good food. The owners of these restaurant are from Medan. 


As starters, we ordered the Tahu Goreng ($4.50). This is the first time I'm having crackers on top of tahu goreng. An addictive appetiser, the crunchy peanuts, beansprouts and the fried tofu rested on a bed of sweet and spicy sauce.


I had the Kwetiauw Bebek Dry ($6.80). Duck is a difficult meat to handle- cook it for too long and it becomes very dry. This slow-cooked duck easily shredded and was a very comforting dish with the springy kwetiauw and the duck herbal soup. I am not usually a fan of herbal soups because the taste can be rather overwhelming. I ordered it dry so that I could decide how much soup to add to the noodles. Surprisingly, the soup was light with just a mild herbal taste.


If you are looking for cheap and good food in the East, this is for you!

Medan Town 
253 Tanjong Katong Road
Tel No: 6348 9227 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

National Orchid Garden

I last visited National Orchid Garden in 2011 (click here for blog entry). Classes had just ended then and I thought it will be nice to take a walk in the orchid garden. 3 years down the road, I am back again. 

Botanic Gardens is one of my favourite places in Singapore- it's not crowded, it's spacious, it's beautiful. 


No matter which part of the Orchid Garden you are in, there is an opportunity for good photographs and the explosion of colours will be a feast for your eyes.


The VIP Orchid Garden was styled as an English Backyard. Here, you will get to see the orchid hybrids of the Gardens' orchid programme. Many state visitors and VIPs have orchids named after them.

Besides this, there are also attractions such as the Tan Hoon Siang Mist House, the Cool House etc. The Cool House is meant to look like a tropical forest where there is cool air and mist. To imagine what the Cool House is like, it is something like the Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay, but many times smaller.


One of my favourite orchids is the Golden Shower or the Dancing Lady Orchid. If you look closely at the orchid, it looks like a lady in a ballroom dress dancing.


Here are some of the photographs of the orchids that we saw in the garden.


Japan has beautiful lavender farms, the Netherlands has beautiful tulip farms. and Singapore has a beautiful orchid garden! At an inexpensive price of $5, you could probably spend 2 hours in there just enjoying the wonders of nature. Word of caution though- sunblock, cap and water are essential!