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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, April 11, 2015

Anti:dote

This is definitely one of the more exciting dining experiences I have had so far. 


Reservations for the high tea ($45++) are a must here.


The afternoon tea menu is here.

There were two different menus. You could choose between the Anti:dote tea or the Oriental tea. The only difference is the starters. For the Anti:dote tea menu, there is the Anti:dote black truffle scrambled eggs whereas for the oriental tea menu there is a selection of steamed and fried Hong Kong dim sum.

For me, it was a no brainer to go for the Anti:dote black truffle scrambled eggs because I love the taste of anything with truffle (whether truffle or truffle oil which is essentially a chemical compound).

In any genre of music, the introduction matters a lot because it sets the stage for the entire piece. Make sure it's something original, refreshing and endearing and this will be the winning recipe for the piece. The Anti:dote black truffle scrambled egg was precisely this important introduction. Besides the fragrant smell of the truffle which hits you instantly, the deep fried breadsticks were a perfect accompaniment to the runny texture of the scrambled eggs. I scrapped every bit of the egg clean.


Next up was the drawer of food. Top layer contained the desserts, first drawer contained sandwiches, second drawer contained scones and the last drawers contained biscuits, together with the accompaniment to the scones.


Everything about this was picture perfect. Taste wise, I preferred the sandwiches more than the desserts. We decided that we needed a strategy when eating these beautiful dainty little things- alternating between sweet and savoury so that we won't get a sudden sugar rush.


The sandwiches were really the star of the show. While the waitress explained to us what these were individually, we didn't really listen attentively because we couldn't start feasting away. We started off the with Smoked salmon, lemon and dill cream cheese and ikura roe because it was probably considered the most conventional of the lot. Then we moved on to the Boston lobster roll with confit lemon and chervil.  Prior to trying this, I didn't know what chervil was. Chervil is a herb related to parseley which might have ruined my experience of eating this roll since I do not like parsley at all. But the juicy lobster served as a good distraction.

This was followed by the Iberico ham quiche, with mozarella and black truffle. I am partial towards anything with mozarella. The ham and mozarella was scented with truffle and laid onto a puff pastry. Then the Confit duck rillette with foie gras terrine with pickled onion- unfortunately, this tasted more like tuna to me. Of all the sandwiches, this appealed the least to me. We ended with the Coronation curried chicken with apple. This was a very interesting combination where even the pastry had curry powder added to it. However, the apple taste was non-existent.


The scones (raising and candied ginger) came together with your choice of strawberry jam, Devonshire clotted cream, lemon curd. If I didn't realise how much fats each scone contained, I wouldn't mind eating them all day long. Leaving aside the fat content of scones, every bite of the scone brings you a little closer to England. Imagine having scones on your patio on a lovely spring day.


If you are looking for high tea and somewhere refreshing, look no further!

Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
Tel No: 6431 5315 

Tosokchon

We came to the unanimous decision that this was the best meal we had in Seoul. Don't be mistaken though, we found every meal in Seoul great, just that this was the best. 

Don't be intimidated by the queues because this place works like a well-oiled machine. The turnover of the diners is high and we got a seat within 15 minutes of queuing. 


The compound here is pretty big. Servers can also speak Korea, English and Mandarin although it's not even necessary to speak because all you need is a finger to point at the picture.


We ordered the most basic on the menu which was the Samgyetang (W15,000). Before digging into the ginseng chicken soup, we happily feasted on the addictive kimchi, which in my mind tasted superior to any of the kimchi I've had in Singapore.

A few sips of the chicken broth will steal your heart. Intense yet light on the palate. Once you tear the tender chicken apart, the strong ginseng flavours will seep into the soup. Enveloped in the free range chicken are glutinous rice, a huge piece of ginseng, chestnut, red dates etc. Essentially, this is what you call a nourishing meal and best enjoyed in cold weather.


This should definitely be included in your itinerary to Seoul!

Tosokchon 
5 Jahamun-ro 5-gil
Jonno-gu
Seoul 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Euphoria. 

His arrival at what would be his final National Day Parade. 

Grief. 

His departure.

Heart.

Singapore and family.

*****

Back in university, we once had to do an assignment on this topic "Constitutional amendments in Singapore- To ensure good men or a tool of good men?" My opening statement in the essay quotes Mr Lee Kuan Yew, "To get a good government, you need good men in charge." A seemingly simple ideology but one which has served us well. 

It is clear that Mr Lee Kuan Yew was not a solo ranger, not one who thought he could change the world by himself. He knew that he needed a successful team under him to transform Singapore from a third world country to a first world country. In recognising this and while paying tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, let us not forget those who came before us, who have contributed to making this little red dot so prominent on the world map. 

*****

I have always been a fervent admirer of Mr Lee- his insights, his ideologies and his love for Singapore. His policies have shaped the way I have grown up in this country. I am effectively bilingual. I grew up knowing that as long as I work hard for what I want, there will be no barriers to hinder me, be it gender or race or religion. I take a pragmatic approach to life- if there's a problem, solve it.

Of all his policies, one that has impacted many Singaporeans is how Mr Lee had the vision to turn Singapore into a garden city. Everywhere we go, we see rain trees and angsana trees. When I walk along the roads, I sometimes walk on the side with more trees because of the shade. These trees could be a manifestation of his policy making- to provide shade for all Singaporeans. 

Taking the ECP to Changi Airport is always a very precious experience. Time and time again, despite the many times I have been to and returned from the airport, I always stop whatever I am doing to marvel at the pruned bougainvillaea by the roadside whenever I pass through that pretty stretch of the expressway.

My favourite flower is not the rose, lily nor the sunflower. These are beautiful flowers. But the flower that holds a special place in my heart is the orchid- it stands for love, strength and beauty. 

Credit: Mr Lee Hsien Loong's facebook

The best place to view orchids is at the Orchid Gardens located at Botanic Gardens. Singapore has submitted its bid for Botanic Gardens to be Singapore's first UNESCO site. While Mr Lee was not the person who sprang the idea of Botanic Gardens, he brought in people to redevelop the Botanic Gardens. This place holds many fond memories for me. I came here when I was in primary school - my first foray into the flora and fauna of Singapore. I came here during my dating days. I came here with my family to enjoy the immensely popular outdoor concerts. 

*****

Many tributes have flowed in the past few days. 

The tributes that struck me the most were not those about his policies, but rather those about his relationship with his wife. 

If there's anything we can learn from him, learn that in this time and age where everything is disposable, a married couple can last through thick and thin and still be in love at the very end. 

Credit: Mr Lee Hsien Loong's facebook

*****

A great man has passed. But Singapore will continue to progress. 

Somebody built a sand sculpture of Mr Lee at East Coast Park. 

Credit: Nparks
Water is what binds the sand together. But it is also water that will make the sand sculpture crumble. Whether or not the sand sculpture remains there, the world continues to spin and the waves continue to crash. 

Mr Lee made Singapore united. But Singapore will not become loose sand after his departure. 后浪推前浪-that must be what Mr Lee would have wanted. 

Majulah Singapura! 


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