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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, February 13, 2016

Monster Curry (Parkway Parade)

Previously housing Mad Jack, this unit has been taken over by Monster Curry


As gimmicky as this bright orange dinosaur may be, it solved our dilemma as to where to eat. We are the kind of consumers that advertisers like to target- ignorant and easily attracted by bright, weird looking things. We saw this dinosaur and decided to try Monster Curry. I like their website- very to the point and transparent- although they need to update it because prices have been revised very slightly.


We ordered the exotic sounding Green Apple Italian Juice ($3.50) which was essentially a small bottle of apple juice.


I have never seen such a big plate in my life- just look at how it compares to the utensils. Yet another gimmick but the food was pretty decent and extremely filling.

We ordered the Combo Curry ($25) which consisted of pork katsu, fried fish, pork shabu shabu, shrimp tempura and cheese, You could choose from 5 levels of spiciness- we chose level 2 flame which was "extra hot". It was spicy but I wouldn't call it extra hot.

I like curry, whether it is Japanese curry or Indian curry. Monster Curry's sauce contains up to 14 difference spices and vegetables and requires two days to cook. It was thick and a perfect accompaniment to the rice although it started getting gelat after a while, especially when it started turning cold.

This Combo Curry is enough for 2 big eaters / 3-4 females. Eat it fast because it is best eaten warm. The tempura consisted of a lot of flour probably just to make it look like super sized prawns. The fish was pretty much like the fish in fish and chips. I would have liked more shredded lettuce to balance this otherwise very deep fried meal. The katsu was deep fried to perfection, crispy with a layer of melted cheese over it. The shabu shabu felt a little out of place in this dish.


For hungry people, this is a decent meal which is value for money.

Monster Curry 
Parkway Parade
80 Marine Parade Road
#01-11
Tel No: 6348 6171 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Arbite

Thanks to the Entertainer app, we get to try new restaurants / cafes. 


Arbite was somewhere that I had always wanted to go but didn't because of its location. The stars aligned one day and I managed to get a ride to Arbite.


Arbite is a pun on the German / Danish word for work.


I ordered the Seafood Tagliatelle ($25) which consisted of handmade squid ink tagliatelle tossed with prawns, squid, salmon, mussels, chilli, spring onion, garlic and shallots. You could choose between tomato, white wine or aglio alio. I decided to go with aglio olio.

They were generous with the fresh seafood and I loved the fact that salmon was included, as salmon is typically not included in seafood pasta. The pasta was sufficiently moist and the garlic taste was not overpowering. A slight hint of chilli also upped the flavours of this dish.


No matter what, please get yourself a My Wife's Chocolate Cake ($8). I have eaten many chocolate cakes but few are impressionable- the last one I ate that left an impression was the Death by Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream at Rider's Cafe. If this is indeed the chocolate cake made by the owner's wife, the owner is a lucky man.

There was an unexpected explosion of flavours. First, it was the moist chocolate cake, which was good on its own- unpretentious cakes are the best. Then here is where it gets fun. The accompanying ice cream is not your usual vanilla ice cream but salted caramel ice cream- you see where we are getting as the flavours build up? Then lastly, you have this base of bitter, crunchy cocoa bits. This is a must-order if you go Arbite!


The food on its own merits a return visit, although I have to say that parking at Serangoon Gardens is a complete nightmare. 

Service here was exceptional as well- the server was friendly, warm and genuine, it made our dining experience so pleasant.

Arbite
66A Serangoon Garden Way
Tel No: 62870430 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Recurrent Corneal Erosion

The good thing about technology is that it allows you to obtain a lot of information and with an informed mind, filter the information that you require and those that you do not.

Especially with medical conditions, the internet can be a valuable resource and it was through this vault of information that I looked up a condition I was suffering from- recurrent corneal erosion. I wished more people had written about their experience with recurrent corneal erosion so that I knew what I was dealing with. 

This entry is therefore for those who suffer from recurrent corneal erosions and are looking at treatment options. 

Around mid last year, my colleagues were getting conjunctivitis one after the other. One morning, I woke up with a sharp sting in my eye and tears couldn't stop flowing. I had conjunctivitis before so I thought, it might just be another episode of conjunctivitis. However, my eyes were not red at all. It was just that the stinging pain didn't go away and my vision became a little blur.




After I visited a general practitioner, I was referred to an eye specialist and was diagnosed with recurrent corneal erosion. 

Recurrent corneal erosion is a condition where the cornea's epithelial cells fail to attach to the underlying basement membrane. The pain sets in when you are sleeping or upon wakening because when the eyes get dry at night, the eyelid can stick to the epithelium. When the epithelium is not firmly attached, the opening of lids can cause the epithelium to tear off. 

I was prescribed with Systane Ultra and Genteal. The doctor said that applying the eye drops and lubricant would typically solve the problem for most patients because it was supposed to keep the eyes moist. Alas, it was not meant to be. 

With every episode of recurrent corneal erosion, leaving aside my disrupted sleep which consisted of an extremely painful eye (imagine your eye being stabbed) and non stop tearing (it's the body's way of trying to heal itself), my vision would be blur for a few days.
Couple this with the fear of wondering when the next episode will be, this condition was potentially causing a drop in the quality of my life. When the episodes become particularly bad, there was once I had to ask my colleague to hold my arm and lead me to the taxi stand and then ask the concierge at the hospital to bring me up to the clinic. Another time, I was in a discussion with my boss when my tears started flowing involuntarily (I had just suffered an episode the day before) and my boss was shocked.


I became such a familiar sight at the clinic and the ophthalmologist would say, "Oh dear, not another episode?" With my swollen and teary eyes, I could only sigh and shrug, "Yes, again." 

As with many other conditions, surgery is often a last resort. Besides numerous rounds of eye drops and lubricants, the doctor once scrapped off a layer of epithelial cells, in the hope that it will help the epithelial cells be stronger. To put it in the words of my mother, it looked like he was taking out bird's nest. The pain after that was akin to a recurrent corneal erosion, maybe slightly worse.

Besides that, I was always hoping that the doctor would put bandage contact lens into my eye which was always a welcome relief. With bandage contact lens, you had to drip antibiotics because contact lens are after all a foreign body and not meant to be in your eyes for prolonged period of time. But I loved the relief when I wore bandage contact lens- I could sleep in peace and did not have to worry about having an episode. However,  it was not a long term solution because even after the cells healed, it was inadvertently tear again 2 weeks down the road after removing the lenses. 

After many false hopes thinking maybe this time it will finally work and countless of google searches, I decided it was time to just get surgery done to solve the problem. I just had Epi-lasik done on my eyes and crossing my fingers that this is a solution that finally works. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lake Tekapo (New Zealand)

Frankly, the only reason why I ended up choosing New Zealand as my travel destination was because I saw pictures of these plants floating online. I was hard pressed to find what these vegetation were and my google skills involved typing "purple flowers in New Zealand", only to find out that these were weeds, called lupins. 

The moment we got down from the car, the only thing that came out from my mouth was "Wow." Seeing the beautiful turquoise blue of the lake with these lupins in the foreground, it was as though I had just stepped into a painting. 


We walked across uneven pebbles and eventually reached the lake. We were so fortunate to enjoy such glorious weather.



After what seemed like eternity of taking countless shots of the lake, we went to the Church of the Good Shepherd which was a short walk from the lake. The Church was built in 1935 as a place of worship for the pioneer families of the Mackenzie country.


Despite the few hours drive right after touching down in New Zealand, the picturesque setting of Lake Tekapo took away any hints of fatigue. There has to be so much more to life than rushing about on a daily basis.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (New Zealand)

One of the things I dread the most when visiting national parks or outdoor places is bad weather. 

Bad weather makes people miserable- the scrambling around when the rain pours without warning. Bad weather makes photos look miserable. 

Before we left for Mount Cook, we checked the weather forecast and were dismayed to learn that there will be rain. But if we have to go, we have to go. 

We decided to go with the Hooker Valley Track which is supposed to be a 3 hour return hike. We took slightly longer than that, mostly because we were dealing with the rain and slippery ground. 

The landscape kept changing and it was a relatively easy trail for most part, except when we were going to reach the end of the trail when it started to get a little steeper and a bit narrower. 


There were 3 suspension bridges on this trail and everytime I got onto one and looked down, I'm thinking, "Oh gosh, I need some help to cross this bridge."



Good things come to those who wait. I am not saying that the scenery at the beginning was not beautiful. But if you gave up after half an hour, this scene of expansive mountain ranges and clear water will not greet you. 


At some point, I got really trigger happy despite the rain.


It was one of the rare occasions that I didn't feel like it was a wasted trip because of bad weather- the scenery is more than enough to compensate for the bad weather! 

Sufood

My mum told me that she and her colleagues really liked the food at Sufood. I have heard about Sufood for some time but only got about visiting this establishment which is meat-free and inspired by Italian cuisine. 


We ordered the Set ($29.80++) where you could choose from a variety of salads, soups, mains, desserts and drinks.

Our Sufood Appetiser consisted of a trio of poached Japanese yuca root drizzled with a blueberry coulis, a stack of oriental, white water snowflake greens and a cherry tomato jelly. The server told us that we should eat the appetiser from the right to left. I thought I would enjoy the cherry tomato jelly but it tasted like sour plums (which I do not eat).


Next up was the Rosemary Breadsticks which were soft and fresh.


I ordered the Mushroom Salad which came with button and shiitake mushrooms in a vinegar dressing. I liked how light and refreshing this salad was, with the vinegar to get your stomach juices flowing!


The soup was a Misto Mushroom Soup which was mixed mushrooms simmered in vegetable stock. The mushroom overdose was starting to kick in at this point in time. It was light and tasted a little flat.


This was my favourite dish of the lot and I am glad I ordered the Wild Mushroom Charcoal Tagliatelle. The tagliatelle, mixed with fragrant garlic and chilli, went well with the chewy king oyster mushrooms.


I ended off the meal with a Mango Frollino which is a cake with mango cubes, blueberry and custard sauce. This was decent with crispy strudel crust.


I had high expectations of this place because of the rave reviews that I had seen online. However, I found the food here, at the most, slightly above average. If I had craving for vegetarian food, unless I am looking for a place that looks presentable and has nice plating, this would not be my top choice. That said, this place has a fresh offering of vegetarian food that is not offered at usual vegetarian stalls. Service is also friendly. 

Sufood
Raffles City Shopping Centre
#02-19
Tel No: 63335338 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wanaka Lavender Farm (New Zealand)

I always had a soft spot for lavender. Not lavender oil or lavender essence, just lavender in its original state. It never fails to bring a sense of peace and calm and I enjoy looking at beautiful lavender fields.

The last time I visited a lavender field was in Furano, Hokkaido. This time, it is in Wanaka, New Zealand. Next stop will hopefully be Provence, France. 


While we were walking around the lavender fields, my mum asked, "Why is the song, Lavender's blue, dilly, dilly, lavender's green? But lavender is purple what." Beats me.


I could spend an entire morning here. For an entrance fee of NZ$2, you get to roam this 10 acres lavender field. When we went, most of the lavender had been harvested. But you still get to see the fruit trees, alpacas and sheep.


To keep the kids (and adults) entertained, there are also see-saws, swings, and other games. This brought me back to my childhood days where my favourite activity was sitting on swings!


Different flowers were also blooming across the fields.


Of course, a lavender farm is bound to peddle its products. Over here, there is a wide variety of products for you to choose from- including lavender oils, lavender lotion, dessert trays etc.


There was also a little cafe where we enjoyed a cup of lavender chocolate ice cream. I fell in love with the decor - so natural, so peaceful and so charming.


This farm was initially not on our radar- who goes to Wanaka to see a lavender farm? However, if you have time to spare and would like to see some lavender (check whether they are opened on their website, their shops are closed on certain months), give this place a go where you get to relax and unwind.

Wanaka Lavender Farm 
36 Morris Road
Wanaka 9382
New Zealand 

Hotel Michael

Described as an "art lover's dream come true", we went to Hotel Michael a couple of months back for a staycation. 

1) Room 

When checking in, we specifically told the lady at the reception that we wanted a non-smoking room. The moment we exited the lift, we could smell smoke and the smell intensified as we walked into the room. It was not a light whiff of smoke but as though someone had spent a couple of hours smoking in the room. We checked with one of the housekeeping team who happened to be around whether this was a non-smoking floor. 

She answered that although it was a non-smoking floor, some hotel guests still smoke in the room anyway. This completely marred our impression of the hotel.

The lady from the housekeeping team took the initiative to put an ioniser in the room and to spray air freshener. It did help slightly, but was not a permanent solution and we had to bear with the smell for the duration of our stay. 


You would see different art works in the room- this was novel but not something that I will pay a premium for.

There is no free wifi as well- they probably want you to venture out and spend money, whether in the casinos or Universal Studio.


2) Toilet

Interesting mosaic tiles lined the walls of the toilet. 



 3) Amenities

There is a gym and swimming pool in the hotel.

I advise that you give the swimming pool in the hotel a miss and go to the one at Hard Rock instead. You can use the swimming pool at Hard Rock even though you are staying at Hotel Michael.

Both adults and kids will be able to find something suitable. There is a lap pool, jacuzzi and even shallow pools filled with white sand for kids to play in.


4) Location 

We had wanted to go to Sentosa Cove and was informed that there was a bus stop outside where shuttle buses would stop. It was around a 5 minute walk to the shuttle bus stop. However, after 40 minutes of waiting, we gave up and took a cab instead.

Otherwise, it's pretty near the other Sentosa attractions.

Hotel Michael
8 Sentosa Gateway
Singapore

Snake Bite Brewery (New Zealand)

Due to a fire a couple of months ago, the original 88 Asian Fusion was closed for a while. They have now reopened as Snake Bite.


Snake Bite offers both Western and Asian fare on their menu so there's no need to worry that someone in the party does not eat a particular type of cuisine.


It was a cold day and I craved for some warm noodles. I ordered the Duck Noodle Soup ($18). The duck was tender and the portion was generous. The soup was sweet and you don't need to worry about legitimacy- the food here tastes as Asian as it gets. I only wished that it was served with the white noodles for pho.

Another in the party declared the Rendang as one of the best food in New Zealand he had eaten during the trip.


If you are looking for Asian food in the area, look no further!

Snake Bite Brewery
28 Main Road
Franz Josef Glacier
New Zealand 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fergburger (New Zealand)

I would have kicked myself in the foot if I went to Queenstown and did not get myself a burger from Fergburger. It's like stepping into Singapore and not getting yourself a plate of nasi lemak or chicken rice- it's a culinary crime.

No matter what time of the day it is, the queues outside are long and at dinner time, it took us a good 45 minutes before we managed to take away our food.


There are limited seats and I wouldn't count on waiting for a seat. 


May I proclaim that these are the best onion rings I have ever eaten. The Homemade Onion Rings with Aioli Sauce ($5.50) were juicy and sweet.  A thin deep fried batter surrounds the onion rings, giving maximum crunch for these absolutely delicious onion rings.


Not one for beef, I order The Codfather ($14.90). The size of the burgers at Fergburger are humongous- they are at least 2.5 times the size of a Macdonald's burger. They don't stinge on the ingredients and you can be assured that it will be a satisfying meal. I enjoyed the fish burger thoroughly as the fish was deep fried but not greasy. That, together with a pillowy bun, made a perfect value-for-money dinner.


Absolutely worth the trip here, and don't forget to get yourself some pastries and gelato next door!

Fergburger 
42 Shotover Street
Queenstown
New Zealand 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique S-Cafe

This is one of my favourite places that I dined at this year. 

Stuttgart is in Southwest Germany and is known for its automative industry. Both Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have their headquarters in Stuttgart. Blackforest is a large forested mountain range in Southwest Germany. 


I love the decor here- it's almost being teleported to another country!




As we ordered the platter, we were served with an enormous pile of mashed potato and sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is an acquired taste- I am fine with it in small doses but not too much please.


As part of the set, pieces of toasted garlic bread were served.


Here is the platter which is good for 8 people to share. If you can't decide what to get, I recommend that you get this- you get to try a bit of everything without having to be overwhelmed by too much of one thing.

The platter consisted of one Pork Knuckle, one Gockele Chicken, Speciality Sausages, and ham. The Pork Knuckle was, if I may describe it as such, ridiculously crispy and juicy. The Gockele Chicken was a spring chicken seasoned and roasted with herb butter. It didn't leave a strong impression on me. The sausages were firm and flavourful. Lastly, the thick slab was ham was chewy. It's a meat overdose but it's worth it!


There was no better way to round off the meal with the best blackforest cake I have eaten in Singapore. If you do not order a blackforest cake when you are here, you have wasted your trip. The Signature Black Forest Cake ($12) while a tad expensive was totally worth it- the robustness of the kirsch soaking the abundant cherries, together with the chocolately goodness, was simply divine.


I met a German friend recently, who was extremely kind and brought items from a Christmas Market in Germany to Singapore. A trip to Germany is certainly in order!

Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique S-Cafe 
9 Bras Basah Road
Rendezvous Hotel
Tel No: 6336 8675