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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, 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 

After You (Bangkok)

Everyone who goes to Bangkok tells me that I have to try After You and their Shibuya  Honey Toast. 

We decided to drop by their branch at Siam Paragon. After getting lost in a maze of food stalls, we finally found the shop (located next to the supermarket). 


The cafe had a ready stream of customers coming in but luckily, we didn't have to wait for a table.


When standing at the counter, my friend told the waiter, "One Shibuya Honey Toast please." I said, "Huh one only ah, okay." Thank goodness my friend had more common sense than I did or we will be walking out of the cafe twice our sizes.


The highly raved Shibuya Honey Toast (165 Baht) came with a block of bread neatly cut into 9 pieces. The exterior crust was crispy and in between that fluffy interior, was a layer of melted butter spread on the bread. Saltiness of the butter coupled with the sweetness of the ice cream. On first bite, it was like eating Crunchie (the chocolate bar with a honeycomb centre). Then as it went on, I was thankful that we ordered one instead of two shibuya toasts.


This is a dessert best consumed in small quantities before the gelatness starts to kick in.

After You
Siam Paragon Ground Floor
991 Rama 1 Road
Khet Pathumwan
Bangkok, Thailand 

Sukhumvit Chic, Keyne Residence (Bangkok)

This is the first time I am staying in an accommodation on airbnb and it was a very pleasant experience. 

1. Location 
The location is not in the shopping district. However, this place is just 1 or 2 minutes away from the Thong Lo BTS station. It takes around 15-20 minutes to reach the shopping area (e.g. Siam). It is also a short walk to convenience stores if you want to stock up on food / water. 

Just a couple of minutes down the road, at soi 38, there is a famous food street where we tried crab wanton noodles and mango sticky rice. 

2. Interior 
This place is basically a condominium, with good security. The doors to the units are electronically locked. 


3. Room
The apartment had everything we needed- many power sockets, comfortable bed, wardrobe with hangers, sitting area etc.


Tastefully decorated.


The TV has cable channels, so if you have nothing to do (how could it be), it will be nice to just spend your time on the couch channel surfing.


Towels, packets of shampoo and soap bars are also provided.


4. How to get here
You may wish to get here by taxi or if you have the time to spare and the strength to carry your luggage around, taking the train is also an option. From the airport, take the train to Phaya Thai, buy another ticket and continue to Thong Lo. This will take more than an hour.

5. Amenities 
There is a swimming pool and gym, if you wish to work off those fats from eating too much.


5. Conclusion 
While this place does not offer services that hotels provide, this is a really good option if you want somewhere safe, clean and convenient. The price is also very reasonable (around Sin$70 per night).

Keyne Residence
Sukhumvit Road between soi 36 and 34
Bangkok, Thailand 

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