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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, June 2, 2019

The Terminal Cafe

I wanted to dine near Seletar Aerospace and came across The Terminal Cafe, which was not located within the Seletar Aerospace Park (where all the hip food places are). 

It is located in the Airbus Training Centre. Scandinavian decor, with lots of natural light flooding in. 

We were surprised to find out that only two tables were occupied on a weekend- while the rest of the eateries in Singapore were packed to the brim, here we were on a Saturday afternoon, taking a leisurely and quiet lunch. A rare find! True to its location, there is a table shaped like a plane wing- how cool is that. 


Their menu offers European / Asian food and based on what the cafe uploads on Facebook, the menu seems to frequently change, which means that the people who dine there pretty often will not be bored with the choices available.

The Handmade Tagliatelle with Wild Mushroom in Truffle Sauce ($18) was cooked al dente and the truffle sauce was fragrant, without being overpowering. There was a homely Italian feel to this dish.


We were rather intrigued by the Linguine in Chermoula Sauce & Prawn ($18) and had to google what chermoula sauce was. It turns out that it is a popular sauce in Morocco. The sauce was like a breath of fresh air (because we never tried this before) and the generous portion of prawns was fresh and bouncy.


We also ordered a muffin and a scoop of ice cream thereafter, both of which were decent.

While our initial thoughts were that the prices were a little steep for an office cafeteria, we realised that the standard of the food here was far superior to your usual office cafeteria- this is a serious cafe with serious food and their prices reflect the quality of the food. If you want good food in a relaxing environment without the craze of the usual Saturday lunch crowd, this is for you.

The Terminal Cafe 
12 Seletar Aerospace Crescent
Singapore 797566
Tel No: 6262 5038 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tian Wei Signature

I first encountered Tian Wei Signature at a baby fair. They were giving out samples of their food and to be honest, I was not too impressed then- the food was cold and looked pretty unappetising. 

After 4 weeks of confinement, I had to look after the baby myself and did not want to cook. Despite the initial encounter with Tian Wei, I decided to order another 14 days of food as they had really good reviews. No regrets for doing so. 

1. Taste 

After eating 28 days of food cooked by the confinement nanny, these food tasted a lot more palatable. Not too bland but not too heavy to taste as though a whole bottle of sesame oil and a whole jar of ginger had just been poured into it. 

My favourites include some of the fusion food (see next section), the Sweet and Sour Fish Slices and Stir Fried Pork Rib in Sweet Bean Sauce. They even have desserts for some meals, like Red Bean Puree with Orange Peel and Snow Fungus Peach Resin Hashima.  



2. Variety 

Tian Wei really stood out for their variety of food- 45 soups, 44 meat dishes and 42 vegetable dishes. I can't emphasise how important variety is- I really dreaded the repeated ginger dishes that my confinement nanny cooked. And when they put "Better variety, better mood", they got it absolutely right. I looked forward to every meal because it was tasty and not repetitive. 

They have your traditional confinement food such as Braised Pork Trotter


There was also fusion confinement food. 

The Mediterranean Signatures- Seared Salmon with Cauliflower Cream and Tri Colour Grains and Tian Wei Signature Coq Au Vin were a nice break from the traditional dishes and they were surprisingly good. The chicken in the Coq Au Vin, in particular, was juicy and flavourful. 



Other delicious Western food included the Basil Pumpkin Salmon, Black Pepper Fish Fillet with Basil and Chicken Chop with Basil & Pumpkin Sauce


 

They also did not stick to only white rice. There were so many types of rice- barley millet rice, toasted oats millet mixed rice, black barley mixed rice etc. Ideally, the white rice should be replaced with a healthier alternative such as brown rice. There were also noodle dishes such as Trio Mushroom Ee-Fu Noodles and Stir Fried Pork Liver with White Beehoon and Kailan

3. Portion 

The portion was generous for one person but not sufficient for two to share, in case you were thinking of sharing. There were some meals where the portion was bigger and some where it was only good for one. 

For example, the Dong Po Braised Pork and Fortune Herbal Chicken were good for two, whereas the Western meals were typically good for one. 



4. Quality and price 

I won't pretend that the confinement meal comes cheap. At $30 per meal, I consider the price rather steep. However, it is undeniable that the portions are generous, and they really use premium ingredients and are not shy to show them- the soup is always loaded with these ingredients, for example, ginseng, cordyceps etc. 

5. Flexibility and customer service 

One thing that really impressed me was Tian Wei's flexibility. These are the ways in which they have demonstrated their flexibility to cater to me, the fussy customer:

- Replaced ingredients which I did not like (no celery, pork liver etc.)
- Agreed not to deliver meals to me on weekends and replaced these with weekday meals instead. 
- When I suggested that I did not need two red dates longan drinks at night (did not want to waste), without any prompting on my end, they suggested replacing 4 red dates longan drinks with dessert, which I gladly accepted. 

It was also very easy to order meals and contact them. If you do not like calling in general, you can always use their online support. Their customer service was polite (although one of them did not understand my requirements initially, luckily another customer service officer explained things clearly subsequently). 

6. Delivery 

Their delivery times are between 10 am and 1 pm, and for dinner, between 4 pm and 7 pm. Their deliveries always came between these timings. The meals were delivered in a warmer bag and that was helpful since you may not consume the food immediately when it arrives. 

The delivery men were also very courteous and friendly. I liked how they do not make a fuss about deliveries- they will just leave the warmer bag on my gate handle if no one answers the door bell / their knocks. 

7. Areas for improvement 

As mentioned above, it may be possible to offer the option of white rice / brown rice to customers. 

The only food item that I remember feeling that it was not really appropriate was the Baked Fillet Fish with Ginger Mirin Sauce. It was good that they put a sticker on the outside of the box saying that the fish contained bones. To me, I felt like fish with bones should not be part of the confinement meal, as far as possible, because the last thing a busy mother wants is to slowly pick away at the bones when the baby is crying. 

Also, all the food were contained in plastic boxes which can accumulate to a lot of plastic waste.

Overall, the experience with Tian Wei Signature is very good, and I recommend it especially for those who do not have confinement nannies.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Yoga School: Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga is said to have a whole host of benefits and I wanted to remain somewhat flexible during pregnancy. The last thing I wanted was to be an immobile couch potato.

After looking around for a yoga studio, I decided on The Yoga School. The class timing was great because it was after work (they have a few timings throughout the week). The location was even better because it is in the CBD area and walking distance from my office.

Space 

The Yoga School is located on the 39th floor of OCBC Centre. The view from the studio is beautiful- I couldn't think of a studio which has better views. I would always choose the mat by the window because it is so relaxing to wind down looking at the night view of the city.

Credit: The Yoga School Facebook
Class

I enjoyed attending Lay Peng's class. Her class strikes a balance between having a sufficiently intense workout, yet not too difficult or taxing on the students. She also takes the time to walk around and correct incorrect poses. If there are some poses that you are unable to do, she will suggest alternative poses. You were also free to voice out any pains / problems you have during the pregnancy, and she will see if there are any poses that could help alleviate the pain. I had leg cramps and she suggested some poses to help with the leg cramps.

She was also clearly knowledgable and would share some pregnancy-related information during class. While my initial plan was to see if taking prenatal yoga classes would eliminate the use of epidural (didn't work for me), I think the classes made me fit / flexible enough through the pregnancy.

She also took the effort to remember the names of the students in the class- this was really quite exceptional as many teachers will just go through the motion without remembering their students' names.

Amenities

There were lockers and showers. All equipment that you require for class (e.g. mat, blocks etc.) are also provided so you do not need to lug them to class.

There is also an area where you could chill out and have some water while waiting for class. A very comfortable and tastefully decorated studio.

Credit: The Yoga School Facebook
Booking 

Booking a mat is fuss free and straightforward. You just need a username and password to login to their online system to book a mat.

Price 

I would have thought that attending yoga at The Yoga School would cost an arm and a leg because it is in the CBD area. However, it turned out to be affordable, all things considered.

One class costs $38, 5 classes cost $180 (valid for 3 months from date of first class) and 10 classes cost $280 (valid for 6 months from date of first class). I signed up for the 10 classes package because it made sense- that's $28 per lesson. I also liked the period of validity for their packages as many studios have much shorter validities. When I signed up for the package, I could also choose from a free water bottle or EZ link card- not that I fancied either, but hey, it was free!

Conclusion 

For the location, teacher and place, I think it was the right choice to attend prenatal yoga at The Yoga School.

The Yoga School 
OCBC Centre
65 Chulia Street
#39-01
Tel: 6532 8228 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Masses

I had wanted to eat at The Masses for the longest time and ended up going there twice in a month. After the Saveur group was sold to their silent partner, co-founder Dylan Ong went on to set up The Masses. 


As starters, I ordered the C&C&C&C Pasta ($10.90 for starter and $15.90 as a main) to share. This interestingly named starter is named as such because it contains crab meat, caviar, clams and chorizo. You also had the option of adding an additional C- the "C" urchin. Served cold (if you want it served hot, just let the waiter know), this C&C&C&C Pasta was a breath of fresh air. The C's were placed separately and the angel hair pasta was swimming in the slightly salty but flavourful lobster bisque. The crunchy texture of the chorizo added some texture to this dish.


I also ordered A Bowl of Dylan's Memories ($17.90). This is essentially premium hainanese pork chop rice. When the dish was served, the waiter introduced each component of the dish and said that it was all meant to be mixed together. My individual preference was, however, to keep them separate, so that the crispy iberico pork chop wouldn't become soggy. The iberico pork chop was crispy and had just the right amount of fats to prevent it from being too dry. It also came with some spicy bacon jam, pickled mushroom, 64 degrees egg and braised savoy. While these were interesting additions to the dish, the star was no doubt the pork chop.


The food here is good. The only problem is that we had to wait rather long for our food both times we were here. Also, if you want to get a seat in the restaurant, do call early to reserve as there was once we reserved too late and ended up sitting outside in the heat.

The Masses 
85 Beach Road
#01-02
Singapore 189694
Tel No: 6266 0061 

Monday, December 31, 2018

In an Instant: Polaroid At the Intersection of Art and Technology

I recently met up with a good friend whose boyfriend was very into polaroids. I always had the impression that polaroids were the same as instaxes but had this misconception roundly thrown into the bin. He showed us his polaroid cameras (and how to use them) and they were fascinating.

To learn more about polaroids, we headed to the National Museum. It costs $12.50 for adults (Singapore citizens and PRs)- more price categories available at the link above.

1. Edwin Land- Scientist, Inventor, Visionary

The first part of the exhibition introduced Edwin Land, an American scientist and inventor, who is best known as the co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation.

As to how the Polaroid came about, the story goes that he was on vacation with his family in Santa Fe, when he took along his camera to take a few pictures. His 3-year-old daughter asked, "Why can't I see the picture now?" And that was the inspiration behind Land's invention.

You would also come across the Polaroid Cinema: The Fishbowl Experiment.


When you first enter the room, you will see that the screen is white. However, once you put on a pair of Polaroid sunglasses, the images on the screen magically appear. The Fishbowl is a short movie about how Edwin Land fine tunes his invention, the polarizing filter.


2. Polaroid: Art and Technology at Play

Besides exhibiting a range of Polaroid cameras (and some prototypes as well), you will also get to see Polaroid artworks produced during the height of the Polaroid's popularity.


3. The New Instant

The last part of the exhibition is where the curator tries to tie in the Polaroid theme with something relatable- that of the experience of Singapore social influencers navigating through this digital world of instant feeds, uploads and hashtags.


Thoughts about the exhibition 

While the premise of the exhibition is interesting, I felt that it did not live up to its full potential. Granted that there were polaroids taken by superstars like Andy Warhol, I didn't feel like I got much information out of most of the polaroids.

While the last part of the exhibition involves interviews with social influencers, I felt that the link was rather tenuous. Yes, I see the link between the two- the instantaneous factor. But I wished the interviews could be with people who had a closer connection to Polaroids.

At the end of the exhibition, you can go into a photobooth where you get to take pictures with Polaroid sunglasses and send these pictures to your email. You can also get a physical picture taken at a token sum. If you are interested in the Polaroid eyewear or wish to buy a book about Polaroids, they are also available at the museum shop.

In an Instant: Polaroid at the Intersection of Art and Technology 
National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Road
Singapore 178897 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Garlic bread

I love garlic bread. In fact, sometimes I order soup and get excited waiting for the bread.

I have tried plenty of bad / average garlic bread and a few good ones. The worst garlic breads are definitely those that use garlic spread. I am guilty of buying a bottle of garlic spread and that was a bad mistake- threw it away and resolved never to buy another bottle of garlic spread.

I recently tried a recipe from Ina Garten of Food Network and it's definitely a keeper.

Credit: Food Network
Ingredients 

- 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F.

2. Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until minced. Add the parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse twice.

3. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan and add the garlic mixture. Remove the pan from the heat.

4. Slice the ciabatta bread in half horizontally, and spread the butter on 1 half. Spread the garlic mixture on the other half of the bread, and put the halves together. Wrap the bread in aluminium foil.

5. Place the bread in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Open the foil and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes.

Comments about Recipe 
- I did not add fresh oregano leaves as the supermarket didn't sell them. It still worked well though.
- 1/2 cup olive oil seems a tad too much and you may want to reduce it slightly.
- I replaced the ciabatta bread with French baguette because the bakery didn't sell ciabatta.
- Instead of using a food processor, I used manual labour (i.e. hand and arm strength) to mince the ingredients. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ding Tele 鼎特乐

We visited Ding Tele 鼎特乐 when it first opened and have been back numerous times ever since. There can be a quite a queue on weekends so do come early. There is not much ambience to speak of in the restaurant and the tables are closely packed together. But it is definitely worth a trip. 


We started off with the Appetising Platter ($9) where you could choose 4 side dishes. We went for the Original Shanghainese Drunken Chicken Wing, Coriander with Bean Products, Wheat Gluten and Shiitake Mushrooms and Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs. This is probably good for 2-3 people to share. While these dishes were decent, they were nothing to shout about.


Ordering the Signature Steamed Pork & Soup Bun ($5.40) is always a no brainer. We saw a table of 4 have at least 6 of these bamboo baskets stacked up. It is difficult not to compare these to the benchmark of Din Tai Fung and these little dumplings certainly hold their own weight.


I find that the Signature Pan-Fried Crispy Pork Soup Buns ($5.40 for 4 pieces) are one of the best, if not, the best in Singapore. They are so good that I can't resist sinking my teeth into these little goodies once they arrive at our table, despite knowing that they will probably burn my tongue if I don't exercise some patience.

Five out of five times, I burn my tongue, each time knowing that this is the consequence of greed. Besides the fact that the soup inside the buns is incredibly hot, there is a lot of soup in each bun- be careful not to spill the soup on yourself. What I like about these soup buns is how they manage to be chewy at the top and crispy at the bottom, with generous pork fillings and soup, all at the same time. The soup is a little too salty for my liking, but it does not negate how delicious these pork buns are. We could each easily eat 3 pork buns each, even with other dishes.


We rounded off the meal with Crispy Rice Dumpling with Red Bean Paste ($4). After the fantastic sheng jian baos, these were again, decent but nothing extraordinary.


Value for money, and definitely come here for the sheng jian baos.

Ding Tele 
949 Upper Serangoon Road
Singapore 534713
Tel No: 6282 4380 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mui Kee Congee

We thought that the infamous queues at Mui Kee would have cleared by 8+ pm on a rainy day. However, we could not have misjudged the situation more, as there were still around 10 people ahead of us when we reached the restaurant. Thank goodness, the turnover was quite fast and we got a table within 15-20 minutes. 


Mui Kee was bustling on a Saturday evening despite the rain. It started off in Hong Kong in 1979 and the shop today is helmed by the founder's grandson. The seating was a little tight and many had to share tables, but I guess it's better than waiting outside for a seat.


I went for the basic Homemade Pork Meatballs Congee ($9.80). Raw rice grains are mixed with century eggs, and pork and fish stocks added thereafter. I enjoyed the smooth and clean porridge. There was a generous portion of meatballs in the porridge as well. We shared some very crispy Youtiao (Dough fritter) ($2) to go along with the porridge. While the porridge was served quickly, the youtiao took some time to come as they were probably prepared in batches.


We also ordered the Fried Bean Curd Skin ($6), which was crispy on the outside and had distinct layers of bean curd skin within, accompanied by a mayo dip.


To end off the meal, we shared a Soursop & Passionfruit Shaved Ice ($5). This was certainly enough for 2 to share, and could even be shared by 3 for the smaller eaters. This was certainly worth it, compared to Korean bingsu which always charged an arm and a leg. It was a refreshing and cooling end to the otherwise piping hot meal.


Service was prompt and friendly. I recommend this place as it is value for money and serves good food. The only thing that would prevent me from coming back frequently is the time spent waiting to get a seat in the restaurant.

Mui Kee Congee 
Shaw Centre
1 Scotts Road
#01-12
Tel No: 6737 2422 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

W Singapore Sentosa Cove

Every time I receive a wedding invitation from friends who are throwing a banquet at W Hotel, a part of me is reluctant due to the hefty angbao that I have to give, yet another part of me looks forward to the scrumptious food at the banquet. 

This time, thanks to my husband, we managed to get a one night free stay at W Singapore Sentosa Cove

1. Location

Honestly, unless you intend to hang out at Sentosa all the time, I wouldn't see why anyone would choose to stay at W Hotel, because it is far from the main attractions and even within Sentosa, it is rather far in. A taxi ride (without all the surcharge and all) to Vivo City costs around $7. 

2. Hotel 

The hotel exudes a hip and funky vibe, and this extends from the lobby to the rooms to the pool.



3. Room 

The room was spacious and trendy. At the bedside, there were several switches with different labels, one of which stated "Flirt"- if you switched that on, pinkish purple / purplish pink (whatever) lights would switch on.

We also enjoyed good views of the quay and the private yachts docked there- one can only imagine the lives of people who live at Sentosa Cove!


Very comfortable bed, such that my husband could not wake up the next morning and said that the bed simply sucked him in. The pillows were a little too soft for my liking- I had the option of choosing my pillow (there is a pillow menu) but I was too lazy to request for harder pillows.


4. Toilet 

There is a bathtub in the toilet. The panes could slide so that one could see the room from the toilet (and vice versa). Not sure why anyone slide the panes open though because you would almost certainly catch a cold.


There was a bottle of Evian in the toilet and it costs $5, so unless you really like Evian and don't mind splurging on it (in the toilet), by all means. Otherwise, you can drink the complimentary bottles of water in the room.


I loved these packaging which were simply shouting- "I'm too cool for you!" Even the colour of the toothbrush was neon, consistent with the vibe of the hotel.


Strong water pressure. The only issue I had was that I didn't want to use the rain shower, yet quite a bit of water continued to spray from the rain shower despite me using the handheld showerhead.


One could really fall in love with the citrusy bath products from Bliss. I love citrus bath products because they instantly make me feel fresher!


5. Breakfast 

I am glad I managed to wake my husband up, threatening him that if he didn't wake up, there will be no more food for him at breakfast. We ended up spending more than an hour at The Kitchen Table.

There were two sections- one offered Western food (think baked goods, cereal etc.) and the other side had Indian food, Chinese food, etc.

We started off with some baked goods and were mindful not to stuff ourselves with too much food in the beginning just in case we couldn't try the other food offered.

The pancakes were ridiculously cute- look at the smiley face, how can anyone resist those beautiful pancakes! That said, they weren't the most delicious pancakes around- a little too buttery for my liking. 

There was Christmas-coloured bread, a variety of jams and spreads, cereal etc. I liked the fact that there was soya milk offered as well, although it was a little salty.


At the other section, there was a small selection of smoked salmon, ham, cheese etc., and an egg station. Then, there are your usual suspects- mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, bacon etc. There was also Indian food, fruits and desserts. The desserts selection was quite small (and wasn't great) but I guess you shouldn't be eating too much dessert for breakfast anyway!


There was a Chinese food station, with porridge, dim sum, and assorted noodles cooked on the spot. One thing I didn't understand was why the dim sum wasn't available for all to take but had to be served by the chef.


We were so full after breakfast that we skipped lunch. 

The food at the buffet was more than sufficient and decent. The only issue was that it seemed like it was really crowded, and people had to wait to get their breakfast fix. Hint: The early bird gets the worm! 

6. Amenities 

To aid in the digestion of our heavy breakfast, we walked around the compound and visited the swimming pool. The swimming pool was rather big and lots of families were enjoying the pool facilities.  



We also visited the gym which was surprisingly empty. It was either because people who stay at W Hotel do not visit the gym (because they are at Sentosa) or because they are all stuck at breakfast!


It looked like a well-equipped gym.


7. Service

Service was pleasant and one felt like the hotel really wanted to go the extra mile. In the afternoon when we were just lazing around, a staff knocked on the door and offered us a box of chocolates- it was a nice mid-day surprise! Another staff came back later in the day and asked if we required any more water or shower products, which was a nice touch. I especially liked the fact that the room had 6 bottles of water- enough to keep you hydrated all day long.

8. Getting around 

Besides your usual suspects like taxi, one option getting around is to take the shuttle bus to and from Vivo City. Timings and routes available here. You would see that the frequency isn't great. For example, there is one shuttle bus at 5:30 pm and the next is 2 hours later. There is also the option of taking Sentosa Bus B.

W Singapore Sentosa Cove 
21 Ocean Way
Sentosa Island
Singapore 098374