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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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Good Heart (Santorini)

The folks at Villa Maria recommended The Good Heart for a meal and it did not disappoint. 

We were first given some complimentary bread with different kinds of spreads and different wines to try.

We ordered Mushrooms Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Peppers and Cheese (7 Euros). Juicy portabello mushrooms coupled with the sour and appetising sun-dried tomatoes was a promising start to our meal.

The Spaghetti With Seafood (14 Euros) came in a large portion, with generous and fresh seafood. We had a tough time trying to finish this plate but hey, who's complaining when the food is so delicious! The spaghetti was coated with fresh tomato sauce with a seafood taste to it, with a hint of garlic. The seafood was plump, fresh and succulent.

We also got the Barbuda (16 Euros). This is the first time I tried such a fish. Deep fried with a thin batter, the lightly seasoned fish was fresh and delightful.

To round off the meal, they gave us complimentary ice cream in unusual flavours- one was grape and the other banana.

Warm and friendly service.

After we left the restaurant, we went next door to have a look at the products that they were selling. The lady inside, pointed at herself and said "Mama Anna". She was extremely warm and friendly and kept stuffing samples at us.

When we asked what was grown in their farm, she said tomatoes, eggplants, rabbits etc. While we bought some figs and sundried tomatoes, we later realised that the price of the loukoumis were significantly higher than those elsewhere. While you may want to buy some of the products that are produced in their farm, you may wish to buy the more common products at supermarkets.

The Good Heart 
Akrotiri, Santorini
(between Kambia and Mesa Pegadia)
Tel: +30 22860 82247 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mani Mani (Athens)

We loved this restaurant so much that we had lunch and dinner there on one day and wanted to go back a third time on the way to the airport but decided not to due to the busy roads in Athens. 

Sleek and clean interiors. From Monday to Friday, until 6 p.m., there is an option for you to pay half price for half the portion, a wonderful option for customers to try a bit of everything.

I got the Orzo with four kinds of different mushrooms (half portion) (6 Euros). The broth was very clean tasting, and the mushroom flavour really shone through. Couple that with the four different juicy mushrooms and the subtle truffle oil, I was really tempted to order a second portion.

The Tsouhtes (11 Euros) did not come in half portions. The pasta was accompanied with roasted sour mizithra cheese, mushrooms, siglino (smoked pork) and a fried egg. They are very generous with their ingredients and the ingredients came together really well.

I seldom say that any food item is a MUST ORDER because well, there are so many choices on the menu, what makes something a must order?

But no, this Crispy Orange Pie (5.50 Euros) is a MUST ORDER. After we took two bites of these, all we could say was "Oh my gosh, this is good, this is too good."

Crispy orange pie, three simple words. Yet, it evokes such feelings when eating it. The first few bites, you taste the sweet and sour flavours of the orange cake. The next few bites, you realise how different the texture this cake is from other cakes- it is not a cakey texture, nor a sponge cake. It has little pockets in the cake to retain all that orange goodness. The cake is then sealed with a lightly torched crispy layer. Topped off with a yoghurt ice cream and crunchy biscuit base. A seemingly simple dessert but so much depth.

Because lunch was so good, we immediately made reservations for dinner that night. The food was still good although we preferred the items that we ordered for lunch.

I ordered a Fish Fillet (15.50 Euros). Aesthetically pleasing to the eye, the pan fried fish fillet went well with the bean puree in orange sauce.

Dessert was a Walnut Pie (5 Euros). It was moist but a little too sweet. Order the orange cake instead.

Service was warm and friendly.

Mani Mani 
10 Falirou Str
Acropolis, Athens
Tel No: +30 210 9218180 

Villa Maria Rooms & Apartments (Santorini)

When deciding where to stay in Santorini, the places were either too expensive, or were not attractive. I felt like I hit jackpot when I came across Villa Maria

1) Location 

Villa Maria is located at Akrotiri, which is around a 10-15 minute drive to Fira. With a car, this means that you can be close to all the action in Fira and Oia (Santorini is pretty small) while enjoying the peacefulness of this location. 

There are good food options all less than a 10 minute drive away, for example, at The Good Heart. The Red Beach is also located around a 5 minute drive away. 

The views are amazing as well. I wake up, open the door and see the Aegean Sea.

2) Room

Santorini is super sandy such that even though the housekeeping cleans up the room, the sand just keeps coming in. Not that it's much of a big deal though. I love the simple white and blue of this room.

The toilet was fine as well, just that the bathing area was a little dark.

3) Amenities

Free wifi. 

For those who love this place so much that they don't even want to step out of the villa, there is a swimming pool where you can take a dip instead of squeezing with the crowds. 

4) Breakfast 

I look forward to their breakfast spread every morning. Even though it is 95% the same food every morning, their beautiful dining area just makes me feel like I am going to have a great day ahead.

Delicious traditional greek pastries, cereal, ham, cheese, fruits, eggs, yoghurt and beverages.

5) Service 

Most importantly, their service is top notch. After an exhausting ferry ride from Athens (I do not recommend taking the ferry), we arrived at the port to realise that the car we rented did not arrive. It was near 11 p.m. by the time we reached Villa Maria. It was only then that we realised that we had forgot to inform them of our arrival time, and yet they were really nice about it and waited for us to arrive. 

Knowing it was our honeymoon, they also got us two bottles of dessert wine, which was a very kind gesture. 

All of them at Villa Maria were always ready with a smile and prepared to assist, with some really good recommendations. 

For 110 Euros a night, we had a really good and enjoyable time at Villa Maria. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Gin Khao (One Raffles Place)

This is yet another Thai food place you can go on the weekends without having to jostle with the crowds. It is nearly always crowded on weekdays but empty on weekends (because it's located at CBD). 

As there were only two of us and the portions here are big, we ordered a Tom Yum Talay ($13.80) to share. It is the kind of tom yum I like- sufficiently sour and spicy.  Some places have such muted Tom Yum it sorely lacks the oomph factor. The spiciness in this bowl will make you break out into a sweat or two. They were very generous with the seafood.

I have come here on a number of occasions and never managed to finish my food because the portion is maybe too much for one person. We shared the Pineapple Fried Rice ($13.80). We smelt the fragrance of it even before seeing the dish served to us. Again, very generous with the seafood and the fragrance hits us each time we deliver the food into our mouths.

Gin Khao
One Raffles Place
1 Raffles Place #04-29
Tel No: 6532 2387 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Franz Josef Holiday House (New Zealand)

It would be remiss of me if I didn't continue to blog about New Zealand, a place where the scenery is simply breathtaking. 

The Franz Josef Holiday House (booked on Airbnb) was one of my favourite places to stay at during the New Zealand trip.

After our walk at the Franz Josef Glacier (which was a little underwhelming during summer), we drove to this place which could accommodate 5 of us.  

It looked pretty ordinary on the outside but never judge a book from its cover, or for this matter, a house from its exterior. 

A comfortable living room, where the owner had thoughtfully provided board games and dvds.

The kitchen was fully equipped. Toaster, oven, fridge etc. You will see a folder which the host has kindly provided on what you could do in the area.

The rooms were comfortable and extremely pleasing to the eye. Though the rooms were a tad small, they exuded a cottage feel and it was nice to be surrounded by nature.

As with some of the places we stayed at in New Zealand, the toilet was separate from the bath area.

Free and strong Wifi was available here. You would be surprised how many places in New Zealand charged for Wifi. It was also a very short drive to the town centre, where we had an enjoyable meal at Snake Bite

Smoothie House (One Raffles Place)

Smoothie House is a popular shaved ice store that originates from Taiwan. It is located next to my favourite vegetarian place in Raffles Place- Green Dot, which is very packed during lunch time. 

Smoothie House has a few branches in Singapore and One Raffles Place is your safest bet on a weekend to enjoy your dessert in complete peace because human traffic is very low on weekends. 

We ordered a Tiramisu & Red Beans Snowflake Ice with Panna Cotta ($12.90). The combination of tiramisu and red beans might strike one as being a strange one, but it turned out to be an enjoyable dessert. The soft-like-snow ice had tiramisu flavour, and there were abundant pieces of lady fingers (although they were dry, instead of the usual ones in your tiramisu which are soaked in coffee liquor) and little bits of chewy mochi. Mop that up together with the red bean and it will be the perfect way to round off a meal. I would recommend sharing the dessert because it's a rather large portion.

Smoothie House 
One Raffles Place
Singapore 048616
Tel No: 6582 1025

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Dutch Baby Cafe

What a name. 

Dutch Baby Cafe serves Dutch Baby pancakes, which are sometimes called a German pancake or a Dutch puff. The pancake is baked in a cast iron or metal pan.

This place was cosy and was the type of place where you could have tea and chat about life.

I got the Pork Cutlet Curry Rice ($17.80). I initially considered whether to get one for myself or share. The portion of pork cutlet is just nice for one person (with too much rice though). Nothing to complain about the rather standard Japanese curry rice.

However, if you don't care about the ambience and just want some good Japanese curry rice, I highly recommend Udon Goen at Wisma Atria's food court. They serve delicious curry rice at half the price.

We also got the Mixed Berries Pancake ($13.80). Eating this gave me mixed feelings. It tasted of the kueh lapis that my mum used to bake, which didn't taste like the usual kueh lapis at all. This is different from the typical pancake, it is more chewy and buttery, with slightly crispy sides.

Wouldn't come back for the curry rice, better off at Udon Goen.

Dutch Baby Cafe 
The Paragon
290 Orchard Road
Tel No: 68369488 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Lola's Cafe

It's been two years since I last visited Lola's for their main menu items.

They have since taken over the shop space next to theirs and still doing a roaring business. 

I ordered the Smoked Pulled Pork Sanger ($15). I was first exposed to pulled pork in the US and never looked back since. Generous chunks of pulled pork dunked in BBQ sauce were sandwiched between the lightly buttered and fluffy brioche bread. The thinly sliced potato fries were also crispy and addictive- better than McDonald's (I think McDonald's fries are pretty legit).

I always get the Honey Parprika Crispy Wings ($10) when I come to Lola's. It's almost a crime not to get these beautifully deep fried wings. Crispy, yet not oily. With each bite oozes chicken juiciness, paired beautifully with the layer of honey glaze on the chicken. A must order.

Lola's Cafe 
5 and 7 Simon Road
Tel No: 6284 0349 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Ayam Penyet President (Kallang Wave Mall)

Eating ayam penyet always makes me feel like I have to spend a week at the gym. All that deep fried chicken, coupled with more deep fried crispy bits. After collecting our race packs for a run, we decided to head to Ayam Penyet President for lunch. It was packed but we managed to get a seat for 2 very quickly. 

You place your order and pay at the counter.

I ordered an Ayam Penyet ($6.80). You had to order the rice separately. The chilli was tasty, not mind-numbingly spicy like that at Ayam Penyet Ria. The chicken had a crisp skin, topped with crispy bits (more of that please!)

We also shared a Tahu Telor ($6.50). The beancurd tower was enveloped with a crispy layer of omelette. Douse a bit of the sweet peanut sauce over the tahu and there is only one word- shiok!

While service is nearly non-existent, the speed at which the food is served was incredibly fast. If you are looking for a quick, value for money meal, you may consider Ayam Penyet President.

Ayam Penyet President
Kallang Wave Mall
1 Stadium Place
Tel No: 6384 6356 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

132 Traditional Teochew Noodle

One weekend, we decided to track down 132 Traditional Teochew Noodle, the store that has reportedly changed its location 5 times but die-hard fans manage to find it all the same.

It took so long to wait for our meal, and the 30-40 minutes wait had better be worth it. We subsequently found out that the long waiting time was not due to the number of people queuing- it was just that it took very long for each customer to be served. 

What was the "wow" factor with this bowl of Mee Pok ($4)? Yes, it is worth it for the price given that there were fresh prawns, little fish dumplings, and springy noodles. But, no, it is really not worth the wait for half an hour as I could get something pretty close for less than half the waiting time.

132 Traditional Teochew Noodle 
59 Marine Terrace

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Naughty Nuri's

Naughty Nuri's originated in Ubud, Bali. Too bad we missed it the last time we went to Ubud. Now they have brought Naughty Nuri's to us. 

Reservations are a must here. Once, we reached here at 8 p.m. on a Friday night and were told that they were full. On another occasion, we reached at around 12 p.m. and a couple who came at around 12.30 p.m. were told that they were full.

We ordered a St Louis Half Rack ($18.80). The ribs are marinated in balinese spices and glazed on charcoal with an "Asian BBQ sauce". Slightly spicy, the sauce was appetising - just that sauce and rice will make a great dinner. The meat was tender and fell off the bone easily. It is one of the better ribs I have tried in my recent memory.

The Nasi Goreng ($11.80) came with a generous portion of fried rice, with a mixture of healthy brown rice. The chicken satay was moist and was coated with a layer of sweet sauce that tasted like that used for the ribs. The only thing that was a let down in this dish was the prawns which were a little tasteless.

Naughty Nuri's 
Capitol Singapore
15 Stamford Road
Tel No: 6384 7966