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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

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Genesis Vegan Restaurant

We had tried a few vegetarian / vegan restaurants and none had disappointed so far. However, this place which is apparently very popular turned out to be rather disappointing. 



The lady boss (I presume) kept pushing for us to try the Turkey Special ($15.90). She said that it was a December special and strongly recommended it. Although nearly twice the price of other mains, I agreed since it came with a corn chowder soup as well.

Turned out that the Turkey Special tasted really awkward. The supposed vegan turkey comprised of a thick beancurd skin with ingredients like millet with a slightly nutty taste. Dry and unappetising. There was a small portion of quinoa and was probably sufficient to feed my 7-year-old self. Only the cranberry sauce tasted decent.


Not value for money.

Genesis Vegan Restaurant 
1 Lorong Telok
Tel No: 6438 7118 

Boomarang Bistro & Bar (Circular Road)

We had an unsatisfying lunch along Circular Road on a Sunday afternoon where 3/4 of the shops were closed. 

Since the meal wasn't great, we decided to go for some desserts to cure the lunch-wasn't-great syndrome 

Not feeling very confident on how the desserts here were (since we have never tried it), we decided to go ahead anyway since we already had a not-so-good lunch. 

We popped in and decided to have the Housemade Dessert ($8). The staff told us that it was a cappuccino slice served with vanilla ice cream. Sure, cappuccino and ice cream, guess it can't be that bad! We also requested to change the vanilla ice cream to chocolate ice cream instead. 

Turned out, eating the Cappuccino Slice was like skipping on rainbows and breathing in sunlight. Alternating between layers of cappuccino ice cream, chocolate and cake, this was a much better version of Swensen's ice cream cake. Couple that brain freeze with more Haagen Daaz chocolate ice cream, this ice cream combination was sinful and decadent. 


Boomarang Bistro & Bar 
52 Circular Road
Singapore 049407

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Carousel

I haven't gone to any buffets that made me go, "WOW" for a really long time. And a visit to Carousel didn't change that.

We went for the buffet lunch on Saturday ($55++) which was from 12 pm to 2 pm. 


The food stations were spread out and this forces you to walk in between all that eating.


We started off with appetisers and salads.


There were some Assorted Grilled Vegetables which is an interesting (and relatively healthy) addition to the buffet spread.


The Japanese food selection had fresh sashimi. 


The Chilled Seafood section had prawns, crayfish, mussels, oysters etc. However, both my friend and I noted that the crayfish had a rather mushy texture to it and thought that it didn't taste fresh. The rest of the seafood were fine.


 Get to choose your bread to accompany your soup- I chose the Zuppa Di Vongole (Clam Soup) which tasted a little foreign to me. It didn't taste like the typical clam chowder that we are used to.


The selection of Indian food was pretty good- however, the naan was too oily and tasted more like roti prata instead.


We didn't waste our stomach space eating the Chinese food because nothing stood out in particular.


Three dessert fondues- that's a rare sight! However, as I am not a fan of fondue, I didn't try any of these. I tried the ice cream next to it instead- you really can't go wrong with ice cream!


After ice cream, I headed straight to the dessert section which turned out to be a real disappointment. Despite the variety of desserts, there was a sore lack of chocolate desserts. Of course, not everybody enjoys chocolate, but you definitely need some of those on the dessert table! The desserts were also not the most tastefully plated and were not replenished. Less of those desserts in shot glasses and real desserts please!


The yoghurt station is also one novel station that is seldom seen at other buffet places.


There was also a cheese section which really appealed to my cheese-loving friend.

The good thing about this place is that it is Halal certified. Their service is also exceptional- they clear your plates once you leave the seat. The waiters and waitresses are also very friendly. When we were there, they were doing some sort of jingle for those having their birthdays. A very nice gesture. Besides that, while there is quantity in the buffet here, quality is somewhat lacking.

Carousel
Royal Plaza on Scotts
25 Scotts Road
Lobby Level 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Library @ Orchard

One of my earliest childhood memories was going down the Old National Library Building at Stamford Road. Those were the days you had to queue up and the librarian would stamp the due dates on a sheet of paper glued in the book. The thing I remembered most about the library was the distinct red bricks. Then, it got torn down. 

As I grew up, I slowly realised that with all that school work, a 3 weeks due date wasn't going to be practical. I bought books when they were on discount at Borders and it was a true joy to be flipping through those books and deciding the ones worth spending on. Then, Borders closed down.

Nowadays,  I do my shopping for books online on bookdepository.com or fishpond.com. When Kinokuniya holds their sales, I would go down and buy a few books as well. 

Going to Library @ Orchard didn't give me the nostalgic feel of visiting the library in my younger days. Instead, all I could think of was, things have really changed! Funky design concepts, endless racks of new magazines, it's really many notches up from the good old libraries. 


With the emphasis on personal space nowadays, there are nooks and crannies for people to enjoy the peace of being in a library.


A huge premium is placed on design here. The National Library worked with students and lecturers from the Singapore Polytechnic Design-Thinking Team to develop the spaces and features for the library. The shelves, bamboo floors and chairs were also from a home-grown furniture shop.


Two floors worth of books- I didn't really spend time looking at the catalogue because the design fascinated me way more.


I really like this space- it seems like it would be a good cosy venue for some performance of sorts.


They made use of the space below the stairs to store these disks. Overheard a wife telling her husband, "Please ah, you don't think all these very nice ah. All these collect a lot of dust ah. I am not going to clean all these shelves for you." Singaporeans' practicality at its best.


The magazine collection was also displayed in a reader-friendly fashion- you get to look at all the past issues by opening the cupboards and seeing what was available. Pity though, all the magazines I wanted to read about food and travel were mostly empty!


This place is a more than a library. This place is a design success and a chic place for people to hang out.

With this, libraries are no longer just for the nerds. 

Arteastiq Boutique Tea House

A day in a life of a tai tai- I will never get to know.

The next best substitute would be going for high tea, sip on some high grade tea and nibble on some dainty food.


Surprisingly, on a weekend afternoon, it wasn't crowded. The place had lots of natural light flooding in and made this place feel cheery.


We got the High Tea Set ($48++).

On the top tier, there are the Crispy Wraps (probiotic prata) and Apple Cake. We opted for chicken filling in the crispy wraps- interesting concept to use prata as the "wrap". The chicken was a tad try. The apple cake was moist and had hints of cinnamon- ultimate comfort food!

On the second tier, there is Atlantic Smoked Salmon, Crab Salad in Volvants and Smoked Turkey Ham. The turkey ham and smoked salmon were pretty run-of-the-mill. We pretty much liked the Crab Salad though.


I choose a Lychee Tea. The lychee taste wasn't strong although the cold tea was a good afternoon thirst quencher.


While it has good ambience, this place really isn't worth the money. If you consider the ingredients used, they are pretty much low-cost items.

Arteastiq Boutique Tea House
Mandarin Gallery
#04-14/15
333A Orchard Road
Tel No: 6235 8370 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Loving Hut

Walking down the streets of Joo Chiat is always an interesting affair- you get to see all the old establishments, see the new cafes, and see the more seedy side of Joo Chiat. We passed by Loving Hut on one of our walking expeditions and decided to try the food.


All the dishes here are vegan.


A casual laid-back vibe in the restaurant. There are interesting posters on the wall. If you have large gatherings, you may want to consider this place as well!


As starters, I got the Onion Rings ($6.90).  The batter was a little too thick but at least, it was hot and crispy.


I can't resist any form of portabello mushrooms, so I got the Papa's Portobello Burger ($14.90). And their description of this dish hit the nail on the head, "But maybe you just can't turn your back on the classics. That's ok. We understand change can be hard." Exactly.

A grilled, juicy portabello with an onion ring on it, sandwiched between two buns. With portabello burgers, it's really difficult to say that it's outstanding because they are almost always executed well. This was accompanied by salad with balsamic vinegar reduction and some seasoned fries.


As desserts, we got the Banana Boat ($8.90).  Typically, you get to choose 3 flavours but we decided to just get 3 scoops of chocolate ice cream. What I really don't get, is how you make ice cream with brown rice.

That said, the ice cream was obviously lacking the richness of milk (who am I to kid that it tastes like good, wholesome, fat ice cream)? Nonetheless, it was really a good substitute for those seeking a vegan option. Dark chocolatey taste was still present.


I would definitely go back to this place because it is reasonably priced and the food is good.

Service was friendly although it takes some time for the food to be served as it can get pretty busy during weekend lunchtime.

Loving Hut
229 Joo Chiat Road #01-01
Tel No: 6348 6318 

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