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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

Friday, March 20, 2015

Gurney Drive (Changi Airport)

We were looking for somewhere to satisfy our bellies before my friend flew off. For those who have been to Penang, you will definitely have heard of / visited Gurney Drive, located by a seaside promenade, with lots of stalls (and even more tourists). 


The place was surprisingly empty during lunchtime and we thought, "Is it because the food is bad?" Luckily, our fears were unfounded.


We decided to get the Premium Crab Meat Fried Koay Teow ($12.65). I was expecting a few shreds of crab meat. It was surprising that they were rather generous with the crab meat which added an interesting flavour to this otherwise generic dish. The Fried Koay Teow was not oily and had wok hei. The waiter also cautioned us prior to ordering the dish that it was spicy. Sure it was, but that just increased the shiokness of this dish!


The Gurney Nasi Lemak ($7.65) was pretty good as well. Distinctly separate and fragrant rice, coupled with the cannot-go-wrong deep fried chicken and the addictive ikan bilis landed my friend and I into a dilemma as to who should have which dish. As with all good things, share and you shall have the best of both worlds.


Value for money food.

Gurney Drive (various locations)
Terminal 3 Departure
Departure/Check-in Hall
Level 3 Mezz South #03-21
Tel No: 6441 1690 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Salted Caramel

I seldom go to Thomson area and since I went there to try the meepok at Meng Kitchen (which my friend swears is one of the best meepok around- he seldom resorts to superlatives), I decided to try Salted Caramel.


It is no secret that ice cream shops like to hire good-looking and friendly people to scoop ice cream. Everytime we are in the Bukit Timah area, some guy will always say, "Let's go to Island Creamery."

Some time back, a friend and I walked past a shop which had a notice pasted on its door seeking friendly and cheerful servers. I asked my friend if he thinks they will hire me. All he could offer was a hearty laughter coupled with a mildly apologetic look and that ended the conversation.


I had the Waffle with Raspberry Sorbet + Chocolate ($9.10). This is one of the better tasting waffles I have tried so far- not burnt, crispy sides with a fluffy interior. The ice cream was also delightful- especially the combination we picked- bitter, sweet and sour all at once. They also have a whole assortment of interesting flavours like Yuzu Ginger, Peanut Butter etc.


Seating was a little tight here but the waffle will be worth the wait.

Salted Caramel
246G Upper Thomson Road
Tel No: 6753 1718 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bunny and Pony

Here's an IQ question: 1, 2, 4, 8- what comes after that? 

Good. Now that you have got it, here's another IQ question. Dinner- what comes after that? Bingo! Dessert, of course! 

After dinner in the vicinity, we decided to get some dessert and chanced about this interesting cafe Bunny & Pony. 


Cosy interior with friendly servers.


The Waffle with a Scoop of Ice Cream ($8.40) was an utter disappointment. There is a thin line between creating a waffle with a crispy exterior and creating a burnt one. This was a case of the latter. Crispy, yes. But burnt, yes too. I didn't enjoy eating the waffles with a slightly burnt taste. The saving grace was the Coffee Oreo Ice Cream- rich and generous with chunks of Oreo.


Bunny & Pony 
Blk 1 Changi Village Road
#01-2000

The Tiramisu Hero

The Tiramisu Hero scores full marks for its novelty factor and instagrammable decor. Look at that sprightly artificial turf! 


Adorable pictures of Sir Antonio adorn the walls of the cafe. Who's Sir Antonio? A Roman street cat by birth. Went on a trip to Venice. Stumbled upon tiramisu. I was especially captivated by those gold lights- they add such a whimsical note to everything!


We got the Mommahero ($7.50). You can pick your flavours- Original, Strawberry, Lemon, Lemon Lavender, Cinnamon, Chocolate and Milo Horlicks Ovaltine. Being the boring people we were, we opted for the Original. Anything that is put in a mason jar just looks so pretty. However, I think the issue with having tiramisu in a jar is that you don't get even scoops of the soaked lady fingers due to the curvature of the mason jar. While it was decent, I think the one at L'Atelier Tiramisu was a lot more memorable. The coffee taste in this jar was slightly lacking.


121 Tyrwhitt Road 
Tel No: 6292 5271 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Windowsill Pies

I wanted to go to Windowsill Pies for the longest time but kept procrastinating because it was a little out of the way. Finally, we decided to cover a few eateries at Jalan Besar and needless to say, this was one of the stops. 


Whimsical interior with a dash of fairy tale elements. I wish I could move that Christmas tree home because it looked like it came right from a children story book! Their website is also incredibly simple with beautiful hand-drawn pictures of their pies.


We ordered the Strawberry Lemon Pie ($7). The lemon curd which was sour with a tinge of sweetness jolted me wide awake.  Just imagine yourself on a beach holiday overlooking the Pacific Ocean- a book in a hand and a fork in the other just to wipe up this tart which tastes like summer.


We seldom go back to a place unless we really like it. This, is one of those that we will revisit for its ambience and delicious tarts. Friendly service as well.

Windowsill Pies 
78 Horne Road
Tel: 9004 7827 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Noodle Place Restaurant

On a Friday night, Noodle Place Restaurant was packed. 


I can never resist Shrimp Wanton Noodle Soup ($8). The noodles were reminiscent of those at Mak's Noodles in Hong Kong (which I really like despite the puny portion)- Thin, eggy and springy. Only later did I found out that the executive chef was a former chef at Mak's. Prawn dumplings weren't exactly super fresh but good enough.


I actually preferred the Noodle Place Special Congee ($12.50) over the noodles, which was basically a bowl of smooth congee with a lot of ingredients- duck, cuttlefish, jellyfish, pig's liver, minced pork ball, and prawn etc. It's the kind of congee where you get some ingredient on your spoon with every scoop. Get this if you are feeling hungry.


The Roast Duck ($15) was tender and executed well.


Value for money, although service may be unable to keep up with the crowd.

Noodle Place Restaurant
277 Orchard Road
#01-17
Orchard Gateway
Tel No: 6733 3171 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lurline House (Blue Mountain)

Rated 5 stars on Tripadvisor. Reasonable price. Deal sealed. 

1) Location 

From Sydney, we took a train here where the journey took around 2 hours. The price of the train ticket was covered by the MyMulti3 pass. Before reaching, we informed Peter of our estimated time of arrival and met him at the taxi stand outside Katoomba station. Peter sent us to his B&B which was a 5 minutes drive away from the station.

Upon arrival, we told Peter that we hadn't really planned anything for the 1 day we were here. He swiftly took out maps and suggested what to do within that short span of time. He also helped us make a reservation at Pins at Lurline (which was a 2 minutes walk away) for dinner. 

From here to Echo Point, we took a slowly leisurely walk and reached there in around 15-20 minutes. After that, we went to Scenic World via bus, took all the rides and conveniently missed the last bus leaving Scenic World. Decided to walk back and it was surprisingly a short15-20 minutes walk back as well. 


Interesting decor all around the house.


2) Rooms 

The rooms were clean and there was free wifi. Packets of biscuits and chocolates were also left on the bed and table- a very thoughtful gesture for guests who are hungry after travelling!


A jacuzzi in the bathroom.


3) Breakfast 

The thing I really like about staying at B&Bs is how some B&Bs go all out to make sure that you have a delightful breakfast. The owners put some food outside to attract the birds, so it was quite a beautiful sight in the morning looking at the birds fly into the garden. There was also a water dispenser so you didn't need to worry about getting bottled water.


We were asked what we wanted for breakfast. I chose this combination and ate every morsel of it. It might appear quite scary to finish such a big portion for breakfast but it was really restaurant standard!


4) Service 
Both Peter and Suzanne were very helpful in suggesting things for us to do at Blue Mountain. They were also happy to let us check in early as we had reached on an earlier train. The other staff at Lurline House were also very friendly and always ready with a smile!

5) Conclusion 
Reasonable price- check. Good location- check. Good service- check.

Lurline House 
122 Lurline Street
Katoomba
New South Wales 2780, Australia 

JC Coffee Houzz

It was Sunday evening and only one table in this cafe was occupied. Now, I've got a real issue with the word "Houzz"- it sounds too secondary school to be used as part of a cafe name! Those days where "z" was added behind every single word. However, other than that, this is a place I hope will make it somehow. 


A very cosy interior with space big enough for to host gatherings. I may be biased, but I really liked this place also for the music that was playing. Once I heard the first few songs, I declared, WHOEVER CHOSE THE SONGS HAS THE SAME MUSIC TASTE AS ME. Field of Gold, Because of You, Close to You etc. That instantly bumped up my liking for this place.


We were there after dinner so we didn't try their main courses. This cafe offers a wide variety of food- dim sum, Western food etc.


We settled for a Waffle with Double Scoop Ice Cream ($10.80). The waffle was a little too hard and was lacking the eggy fragrance of good waffles. Lychee ice cream was a tad on the sweet side but the salted caramel was fine.
 

There is potential for this place to grow in this sleepy neighbourhood. And I hope it makes it. Going back one day to try the main courses!

JC Coffee Houzz
149 Joo Chiat Road
Singapore 427427
Tel No: 8161 0149

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Meriton Serviced Apartments Danks Street (Sydney)

It was the post-Christmas season and all the hotels were either too expensive or were no longer available. Thank goodness we chanced upon Meriton Serviced Apartments because this place is a real gem. 

1) Location 
Located just 10-15 minutes away from the airport, this place was a good base for our activities. 5 minutes away from a supermarket (Coles) and from a bus stop where there are buses which take you to the city (in around 10-15 minutes). A 10 minutes walk brings you to the famous Bourke Street Bakery. 


2) Room
Do not be misled by the old corridors leading you to the apartment.

The 2 bedroom apartment had everything we needed. A nice spacious living room ensured that there was plenty of running space for the kid travelling with us.


The kitchen was fully equipped. All the utensils were clean, plenty of different utensils for you to choose from. Really, unless you are a restaurant chef requiring some different tools for your trade, this kitchen will serve your needs well, regardless of what you intend to cook.


The beds and pillows were comfortable as well.


3) Toilet 
Toiletries and towels provided.


Happy to say, Meriton doesn't use standard hotel bath products. They have these specially commissioned range of bath products which smell so good. And they replenish these bottles everyday!


4) Amenities 
The swimming pool is apparently located 5 minutes away from the apartment. However, we didn't venture there so I can't comment about that.

Free wifi for up to 10 devices. Wifi was good on the second level although those staying on the first floor said that wifi was spotty.

5) Service
Service was great. Polite staff who were ever so willing to recommend what to do, answer queries and assist in whatever way they can. Housekeeping team was also fantastic in keeping the place tidy.

6) Conclusion 
If you have a big group travelling together and want to stay in a reasonably-priced apartment, look no further.

If there is really a complaint that I need to make, it's that we spotted a cockroach one night. Hopefully it's a one-off incident!

Meriton Serviced Apartments Danks Street, Waterloo
30 Danks Street
Waterloo, Sydney
New South Wales 2017, Australia
Tel No: +61 9277 1128 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Thip Samai Pad Thai (Bangkok)

If you want to know where to find the best pad thai in Bangkok, look no further. 

With a mouth full of food, I told my friend, "Wah! This pad thai really good sia." Not sure how much of it my friend actually understood or heard. Not that it matters, because all that matters is that the pad thai here is really good. 

We had a lesson in pronouncing thai words before we asked a tuk tuk driver to bring us to Pratu Phi Pad Thai. While asking someone else how to get there, it drew a blank stare and a puzzled look. Only after a while did that guy understand what we were talking about and he was obviously delighted when we finally pronounced it the correct way. 


This place works like a factory chain- each worker has their designated role and this is how they churn out plates and plates of delicious pad thai.


It was crowded and the queues just got longer through the night. As there were only two of us, we managed to secure a seat within 10 minutes.


Before entering the shop, you will see bottles of orange juice being sold outside. These were sold at market price, were sweet and an absolute thirst quencher.


The star of the show- the Superb Pad Thai (80 Baht). When served, the pad thai was sealed in the omelette. Upon slowly pulling the thin layer of eggy goodness apart, the hidden gem was revealed. Sweet and slightly moist pad thai, with the aromatic wok hei fragrance, with some big prawns. What differentiates this pad thai from other pad thai is the addition of egg and dried prawns. Do not underestimate what these ingredients can do. The dried prawns lent a slight tinge of saltiness as well as some crispness to this dish.


If there is anything you can't miss out on a trip to Bangkok, it is this.

Thip Samai Pad Thai 
313 Mahachai Road
Samranrat Phra Nakorn
Bangkok, Thailand 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Somtam Nua (Bangkok)

This was a a restaurant that was recommended by many and indeed, it didn't disappoint. 


Although it was lunch time, it was surprising that we didn't have to wait for long before we got a seat.


We ordered the Fried Chicken (150 Baht). This is one of those deep fried chicken that if I didn't have to care about my waistline or all that news on how there's a lot of stuff being injected through the wings, I could eat baskets and baskets of these finger licking goodness. These were not greasy, had juicy meat, with fragrant deep fried garlic sprinkled over it. 


How could we have left the restaurant without ordering a som tam? We chose the Som Tam with Dry Shrimp and Peanut (75 Baht) and it was an explosion of flavours and textures- the crunchiness and sourness of the papaya, the saltiness of the fish sauce, the nutty flavour and a little spice.


Definitely worth a try!

Somtam Nua
392/14 Siam Square Soi 5
Bangkok, Thailand 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Classic Kameo Hotel (Rayong)

I told a local Thai friend I was going to stay at Classic Kameo in Rayong and asked her whether that was a good choice- she said "That's the best hotel in Rayong!" 

We left Bangkok on the white van from Ekkamai and trying to ask the van driver to drop us at the hotel was a nightmare. He couldn't understand what we were saying and dropped us at some road and we had no idea where we were. There were no taxis, no tuk tuks. In the end, we paid 80 Baht to ride on a motorcycle which brought us here. 

1) Location 
Located near many eateries, you won't go hungry staying here. 

One thing though, we still haven't figured out how to reach here. 


2) Rooms 
The room was spacious and the cable channels were predominantly Japanese ones. I asked my friend whether many Japanese stayed here. Apparently, there are many Japanese factories in Rayong, which explains the prevalence of Japanese food for breakfast, Japanese TV channels and brochures written in Japanese language.


 It was like a mini apartment, complete with a cooking area.


3) Restaurant 
Breakfast was provided. 


Although the breakfast was spread across two tables, the amount of food we ate was actually quite little. It was predominantly cereal, a limited variety of bread, salad (lettuce leaves didn't look fresh), some fish (they labelled it fish and chips- but there were no chips), Japanese food like miso and an egg station. Our favourite part of the breakfast- the flavoured dried anchovies.


4) Service / Wifi 
While the room was great, and the breakfast was either average or slightly lower than average, what really pulled down the score of this place was the lack of free wifi in rooms. I know free wifi in rooms is not an entitlement but honestly, many places have free wifi in rooms nowadays, I don't see why they can't have it here too. It costs 150 baht for one device to have wifi in the room.

There is free wifi in public areas but you have to overcome numerous hurdles to get that free wifi. Firstly, wifi is spotty. Secondly, you have to get a piece of paper from the reception for the username and password. Thirdly, this username and password entitles you to login to one device at each time. Fourthly, this username and password is only valid for 24 hours and you have to get another piece of paper the next day.

Besides the lack of free wifi in rooms and the trouble we have to go through to get free wifi in public areas, service wasn't fantastic either. While the staff who made the rooms were polite, those at the reception didn't leave a good impression.

The receptionists either looked bored or didn't take any initiative. I asked one of the receptionists why my device said that it couldn't log in. He said, "Oh that's because the paper is only valid for 24 hours." And the conversation dropped dead there. Logically, the next step would have been for him to take the initiative to ask if I want another piece of paper to get wifi?

5) Conclusion
While the room was spacious and clean, the service, breakfast and wifi leaves much to be desired.

Classic Kameo Hotel & Serviced Apartments 
11 Soi 6 Ratbumrung Road
Tambon Nernpra
Ampur, Rayong, Thailand