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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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

AM Bakery

I seldom gush about bakeries. There aren't many categories for bakeries- (1) cheap and good enough to fill your stomach (e.g. BreadTalk, Four Leaves), (2) not cheap and better than the first category (e.g. Cedele, Duke Bakery) and (3) slightly expensive and very delicious (e.g. East Manhattan, Bread Table). In life, you can't have everything, so quality is usually proportionate to price.

But at AM Bakery, no. You can have your bread and eat it too. It is cheap and really good. I have gone down a few times despite it being a 40 minute bus journey away, just to get my hands on these fresh bakes.

All the pictures are from their facebook page. The moment I step out of their shop, I sink my teeth into one of these goodies. Here are some of their bakes I have tried so far:

(1) Signature Banana & Pecan Bread ($3.80)

I like how healthy this bread tastes- a light banana flavour with crunchy pecans. It is not dry at all and with every bite, you get a whiff of banana.


(2) Tomato & Olive Focaccia ($1.80)

We are fans of focaccia because of the herby taste. The dried tomatoes adds a slightly sour edge to the bread.


(3) Almond Croissant ($2.50)

Hands down, my favourite from AM Bakery. If there is only one thing that you can buy from the bakery, make this your choice. There was once I entered the shop and bought one almond croissant. I finished one within 3 minutes from the time I left the shop. Before I knew it, I was walking back and getting myself another. At $2.50, this is incredible bang for the buck.

The buttery aroma, crispy and lightly sugar-coated on the exterior, containing beautifully light layers of almond-flavoured pastry. It feels like ... falling in love! Last week, I tried an almond croissant from a place that starts with D and ends with France, and knew that there was no way I could return to pre-AM Bakery-almond-croissant days.


(4) Orange & Lemon Brioche ($1.90)

This was one of the first pastries we bought from AM Bakery. Again, the citrus taste on a fluffy piece of bread with hidden bits of dried orange was simply refreshing.


(5) Signature Banana Cake ($8.80)

One of the items that customers regularly ask them to bake is their Signature Banana Cake. It is moist and dense, topped off with crumble. However, some might find this a little too sweet.


(6) Mango Cake ($33)

As I liked AM Bakery's bread so much, I decided to take a chance with them for my birthday cake. I have had more misses than hits with mango cake but wanted to see if they had equally high standards for their cakes.

I was impressed. Generous cubes of very sweet mangoes covered a sponge cake which had a light layer of cream spread over it. I do not like cream and always make an effort to remove all traces of it from cakes, but this cream was really light and easy on the palate. The sponge fingers also added some texture to the cake.


My favourite bakery in Singapore. It is a bonus that the people at the bakery are really friendly!

AM Bakery 
The Midtown
1187 Upper Serangoon Road
Tel: 6702 1163

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Meat n' Chill

I have a friend who is essentially a carnivore and he has been craving Meat n' Chill for the longest time because of the Value Lunch Platter, which is a meat platter comprising 200g New York strip, chicken chop stacks, fried fish, smoked pork and to make themselves appear as though they are not hard core meat guys, they throw in a token garden salad as well. That's exactly like me! I eat a lot and then decide to do nominal exercise just because it makes me feel better. But too bad my friend couldn't get to eat it because this promotion was only applicable during weekday lunch. 


The pork ribs here come with different combinations and if you like pork ribs, you will be able to find something. Being the boring old us, we stuck to the Signature Pork Ribs (Cajun) ($21). Each main came with 2 sides and we chose the garden salad and Southern biscuit. The well-marinated and juicy pork ribs were meaty and slid off the bone easily. 


We also ordered the Meat n' Chill Seafood Platter ($26)- looks amazing, tastes amazing as well. The calamari was coated with a thick crispy batter. The mussels were fresh but the star of the show has got to be the prawns- I caught a whiff of the smokey prawns before the prawns exploded in my mouth- it was so juicy! The thing about grilling food is that it often tends to dry the food out but this does not happen in this instance. The only issue I have with the prawn is that it is a little too salty. Other than that, this Seafood Platter is delicious and great for sharing.


We were surprised that food traffic was low on a Saturday afternoon. Chill environment with all that comfort (translate: unhealthy) food made for a great afternoon.

Meat n' Chill 
6th Avenue Centre #01-04
Tel No: 8812 4455 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Coconut Club

If our Prime Minister deems this a worthy place to bring the Philippines President for a meal, it must be really good right? So we headed down to The Coconut Club, some 10 months after their meal- patience is a virtue as we immediately had a seat on a weekend afternoon instead of having to deal with snaking lines. 


The interior was modern, with seating spaces both inside and outside of the shop.


The menu is not extensive but it didn't bother us because we were really only here for the Nasi Lemak ($12.80). If you compare this to the hawker centre nasi lemak, this may seem way too expensive. But these are the reasons why I think their price tag is justified:

1) The rental here is probably a lot higher.

2) The Ayam Goreng Berempah is not your usual deep fried chicken- the big piece of chicken leg was very tender, and marinated with ginger, turmeric, galangal and lemongrass, giving a new interpretation to the usual nasi lemak deep fried chicken. The crispy bits of marinade were addictive.

3) Everything was XL-portion (whether the chicken, the sambal, the nuts or the ikan bilis)- I felt so full after having the Nasi Lemak that I fell into a food coma for the rest of the afternoon.

4) They use premium ingredients, such as young kampong chicken, mawa coconuts from Perak to extract the coconut milk and old jasmine rice from Thailand. Even the ikan billis is sourced from Pangkor, with the insides gutted for a cleaner and lighter taste. 

The rice was fragrant, but didn't have an edge over the good nasi lemak stalls.


We also ordered the Otak-Otak ($10.50) to share. Again, is the price tag justified? I guess I would have been more willing to fork out $12.80 for the plate of nasi lemak than to pay $10.50 for the otak otak, simply because there are more "sides" in the nasi lemak. The otak otak which is made fresh daily and cooked over a charcoal grill came in a large and thick slab with visible fish meat (mackerel) in it (not your usual blended-until-cannot-see-any-fish kind of otak).


For those with small appetites, you may wish to consider ordering one plate of nasi lemak for both to share, so that you save enough stomach space for their famous chendol.

The Coconut Club 
No. 6 Ann Siang Hill
Tel No: 6635 2999 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Plant Story

I requested for a DIY terrarium kit for my birthday this year. As my husband was of the view that it will be easier for us to attend the workshop with people guiding us through the process, I ended up selecting a workshop at The Plant Story

The Plant Story has its own peaceful little corner, complete with greenery. 


It felt tranquil and for that afternoon, it was as though we stepped into a separate world, one where we were not required to keep up with the quick pace of the corporate world.


We chose the Miniature Garden Workshop ($80 per person). Another couple also attended the workshop. While the course technically lasts for an hour, we were given all the time we required to complete our terrariums.

Our instructor gave us an introduction on the various types of terrariums, including the rainforest garden, desert garden, air garden and water garden. She also told us what kind of care each garden requires- this is very important because I learnt that the water garden requires quite a bit of maintenance, something that I was not prepared for.


After going through an introduction on the types of gardens, the instructor also explained how to build your own garden and the ideal environment for different plants to thrive in.


Thereafter, it was hands on time! We first decided what kind of jars, gardens and plants we wanted. I chose the air garden while my husband chose the rainforest garden. If you choose the air garden, you would be done in no time because the air plant does not even require any soil, which means that your only responsibility is really to decorate the jar, without having to care about issues of drainage etc.

We had a few types of sand, gravel and pebbles to choose from. The instructor was also very helpful and would be ready to assist with any queries you may have. Other than that, your only restriction is your creativity. If you wish to add some decoration to your terrariums, you may choose from the selection below, and add an additional $5 per figurine. They were all so cute, I knew that I would end up getting one!


This is my final product! It's not Christmas but who said you can't have a snowman in your terrarium?


If you are craving some food after the fun terrarium workshop, you may want to order some food at the Garden Cafe.


After the workshop, we put the jars back into their original packaging and brought them home. I was in an extremely good mood that night because I felt that I had put my time to good use and had a restful afternoon after soaking in all that green energy. While $80 may seem a little pricey, for that crash course on how to build your own gardens and having easy access to materials, it did seem worth it afterall.

The Plant Story
Passion WaVe at Marina Bay
11 Rhu Cross
#02-03
Singapore 437440 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Otoko

I have been going to Hougang Midtown more frequently ever since I discovered AM Bakery. Before getting my bread fix, we dropped by Otoko as we heard about their curry rice. 


The lower floor is where they have the cashier and the kitchen. The upper floor is where they have the seating space. Seating space is quite limited- basically, what you see in the picture. You can choose whether to customise your meal or to go for Otoko's Donburi. I chose to build my own curry.

The first step is to choose whether you want curry rice or udon and the second is where you choose from a variety of sides. The lady at the counter told us that it is usual for people to choose around 3 sides. There is a range of mostly deep fried sides, such as pork cutlet, chicken cutlet, salmon fillet, bacon tomato, onion rings etc. 


I first got a Curry Rice ($2.80), added on a Chicken Cutlet ($2.80), a Shitake Mushroom ($1.80) and a Bacon Tomato ($1.80). That worked out to be a dish slightly under $10. If you were to compare to it to Udon Goen, I think Udon Goen is more value for money as you get a huge slab of cutlet for around $10 - $11. That said, the food here is more than decent- they were generous with the curry sauce which was spicier than normal Japanese curry, the deep fried items did not taste oily, and there were interesting items such as the Bacon Tomato which was both salty and sour at the same time (in a good way) and gave a fresh take on the usual deep fried items. Although each portion can be quite small, these can be quite substantial when added together- 3 servings should therefore be just nice or slightly more than enough.


Otoko
The Midtown
1187 Upper Serangoon Road
#01-20
Tel No: 9274 6542 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Spice Sutra

We went to Spice Sutra one Sunday evening for dinner. It was surprisingly empty for a weekend dinner, and there were at most two tables occupied at any one time, which was a pity given that the food was pretty good. 


We had a difficult time choosing what we wanted because the menu was rather extensive.


We ordered the Plain / Delhi Naan ($4) and Tandoori Rooti ($3.50). They were served piping hot and were a perfect accompaniment to our main dishes.


Being the boring old me, I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala ($17.90). In the menu, there were symbols showing whether the dish was spicy and if so, how spicy it was. Although there was no chilli sign next to this dish in the menu, this dish was spicy. The boneless grilled chicken was cooked in a rich tomatoes and cashew nut sauce. The chicken was very tender.


The food and service here is good. The person serving us could answer any questions we had about the menu, and was friendly.

Spice Sutra
Thomson Imperial Court
200 Upper Thomson Road
#01-03
Tel No: 6255 4730 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hai Di Lao (313@Somerset)

Hai Di Lao is one of those places where it is obvious that they want to win over customers not only through their food, but through the extra perks which are not available elsewhere. 


Founded in 1994 in China, Hai Di Lao serves mainly Sichuan style hotpot. While you are waiting for your turn, you get a free platter of snacks- both unhealthy and healthy. You can also arrange for a free manicure session. In my case, the screen cover on my phone was starting to have little bubbles and the staff helped to replace the sheet free of charge. Before and after the meal, the waitresses will also give you hot towels for you to freshen up.


The first thing to do is to order your soup base. In this case, we decided to go with the mushroom soup and the chicken soup ($18). I really liked their soup because of the rich flavour which didn't leave a lingering MSG taste.


We ordered half a portion of Black Pork ($9.50). Half portions are good because you can order a larger variety of food.


Of all things, the Sweet Corn ($6) was rather disappointing because it wasn't really sweet.


The Handmade Fishballs (half portion for $5) were nothing like the fishballs we are used to. Instead, it contained roe and was very bouncy. A must order.


The chicken (half portion for $6) was well marinated.


The food was definitely decent (although its price tag is on the higher side). What you are really paying for is the good service, the "freebies" and the theatric effects. We ordered the noodles ($4) and one of their staff came by and pulled the noodles before us, while attempting to "tease" us by swinging the noodles inches in front of your eyes. Next to us, there was a man who was celebrating his birthday and a waitress rolled a trolley with different fruits, LED lights of every colour and Chinese music blasting together with a trolley.  Needless to say, the staff topped this off with a loud birthday song.

Overall, an enjoyable experience although I would go to this place for special occasions because I can probably find the same quality of food at cheaper prices elsewhere.

Hai Di Lao 
313 @ Somerset
313 Orchard Road
#04-23/24
Tel No: 6835 7227 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Changi Point Boardwalk

Unless you live near Changi Village, reaching Changi Point Boardwalk by public transport is going to take you a long time. We got down the wrong bus stop and ended up at Changi Beach. Since we were already there, we walked through Changi Village and even bought a kite even though we had no use for it. Trekking here under the sweltering heat can be a pain, but the sea breeze will take this fatigue along with it. 




As some renovation works were ongoing, we could not access some parts of the boardwalk. Nothing lost though, as we had previously walked at the parts that were closed.

We walked along the Sailing Point Walk where we could see sailboats and yachts.


One can only be at peace while looking at the stationary sailboats bob up at down in the sea.



Visiting around sunset is a good time because it is not too hot and it offers great opportunities for taking sunset shoots too.


We then went onto the Kelong Walk. It is named so because it is built above water on kelong-like stilts. Anglers can be seen lining the walk, each waiting patiently for their catch. I can never be an angler because my level of patience is near zero. As I always tell my husband, of the many virtues that I do not have, patience is definitely one of them.




The walk is approximately 2.2 km, which takes an estimated walking time of around 45 minutes, accounting for a leisurely walking pace and time for taking pictures.

Click here for National Park's guide. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Nook & Cranny

One rainy evening, we headed to Nook & Cranny. The ambience is perfect for rainy days. People were just sitting around, using their laptops or doing their assignments. There was one teacher, who was visibly frustrated with the scripts that she was marking. The grief that we inflict upon our teachers. 


They have a seating area outside as well.


We ordered the Nook Wings ($8.50). Yes, these are decent crispy wings, but a little too salty for my liking. Plus, once I had tried Lola's Cafe's Honey Paprika Crispy Wings, these cannot really compare.


As I had over-eaten for the previous meal, I decided to get a simple and hard-to-get-wrong Aglio e Olio ($12.90). The addition of chilli gave the dish some needed punch. I had wished that fresh herbs were used instead of these dried herbs. It was otherwise, again, decent.


My husband got himself the Chicken Bleu ($15.50) which consisted of boneless chicken thigh stuffed with bacon and cheese, served with orzo. The chicken was very easy to tear apart and had a layer of cheese generously spread over it. The first time we ever had Orzo was in Greece. Although it is the size of short grained rice, it is soft and soaks up some of that cheese.


The food here is decent. But if anything, I would be here to spend an entire afternoon just chilling, rather than being here because of good food.

Nook & Cranny
Thomson V One
9 Sin Ming Road
Tel No: 6452 7449 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Redpan

Redpan is a collaboration between DP Architects and Grub. 


Taking into account the experience of an established homegrown architecture firm with that of a restaurant which knows how to dish out good casual fare, we had high hopes for this place.

The restaurant was spacious and beautifully designed- normal lights are too pedestrian so they got curvy lights instead.

When someone who has artistic genes sets up a restaurant, this is clearly evident, even from the layout of their website.


I know, I know. Truffle fries are just means to cheat people of their money since there is no truffle in truffle oil. But if I like the taste of truffle oil, why not? We ordered the Truffle Floss Fries ($9) - the generous portion of fries came with chicken floss- giving a spin on the otherwise boring truffle fries. Best to be shared by more than 3-4 people.


We ordered the Lup Cheong Iberico Chorizo Paella ($28). This was good enough for at least two to share. The Chinese element in this was the lup cheong which went well with the moist paella rice drizzled with garlic oil. This was in fact a rather genius combination because it was probably meant to taste like claypot rice (along with some slight charred rice). There was really nothing to complain about the dish, except, which is the Iberico chorizo? This was the question that everyone at the table had. Unless we all had issues with understanding what Iberico chorizo is (which we understand to be pork sausage), besides the lup cheong, all we saw and tasted were pieces of chicken.


We also tried the Prawn and Hae Bi Hiam Pasta ($19). The tagliatelle was tossed with a spicy shrimp paste, and accompanied by fresh prawns.


Redpan 
#02-03/04 Marina Square
6 Raffles Boulevard
Tel No: 6884 6884