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Lake Toya, Japan

Spot of Tranquility.

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Little India, Singapore

Spices, gold and splashes of colour!

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Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay

Garden City, City in a Garden.

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Bryce Canyon, USA

Thor's Hammer

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Chocolate Test, Singapore

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." -Charles M Schulz

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neptune Oyster (Boston)

Once upon a time in Little Italy of Boston, there was a mythical shop called the Neptune Oyster. Well-known for its lobster rolls, this place is thronged with people, partly also because the shop is pretty small. So, get your name on the reservation list before you go on exploring Little Italy, and hope for them to call you soon after.

I don't eat oysters because I've got something against raw things. But my friends ordered the oysters and they slurped it down and declared that it was fresh and juicy. The servers patiently explained what the different kinds of oysters were, so my friends ordered a few and decided to share it amongst themselves.

I agreed to go to Neptune Oyster only because everybody raves about their lobster roll. I decided to get myself the cold roll, instead of the hot buttered roll. They practically squished the roll to maximum capacity to get as much lobster as possible into that sandwich. There was a little mayo mixed with the lobster. I liked it, but not so much that I would dig deep into my pockets for a lobster roll - around USD $25. I didn't like the fries though- a little too charred for my liking. And I think I wasted a bit of fries, as I always do.

In my opinion, you'd be able to get the cold lobster roll at a slightly lower quality but at a much cheaper price elsewhere. (Maybe Quincy Market or something) But I heard that the hot butter lobster roll oozes so much happiness into your heart that you'll be hyponotised into paying for it. Then again, for those staying in Boston, there's always the option of Shaws. $12 for a whole lobster- make your own fresh lobster rolls.

63 Salem Street
Boston MA 02113
Tel: 617 742 3474

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sandrine's (Boston)

Given a choice, I would rather be eating, reading, watching movies, listening to music, cooking and attending random exhibitions. Unfortunately, in life, you can't have your cake and eat it too. And so, here I have to be, content with occasionally looking through photos taken once upon a time. Then, I think, "Oh goodness, I must have had the appetite of a cow!"

I bought the groupon for Sandrine's and it proved to be a great choice. The thing about Groupon is that you get to try food at a much cheaper price than they usually are. (But obviously, keep your eyes peeled and read your terms and conditions- valid till when, not valid on weekends etc.)

Sandrine's was one of those places that we would never have visited if we didn't have any form of discount.

The atmosphere was marvellous. The elderly server led us to a table right at the corner of the restaurant and said cheekily along the lines of us being able to enjoy the privacy better.

Anyway, we were first given some bread which obviously was warm and crusty. As usual, I have no clue what French food is like, except what is depicted on TV. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it always exudes a particular air of delicateness, even to the point of being regal. But all that side-tracking doesn't matter. Because ultimately, it's the taste that matters.

We ordered enough to chalk up $40. We ordered a salad which was nothing out of the ordinary.

For entrees, we had the Organic Roasted Herbes de Provence Half Chicken, which is essentially chicken. The chicken was roasted well and was a rather big portion. But somehow, it was missing the delicate touch. It was like "Here's Chicken, Here's Mash Potato. Say Hi." The mash potato was buttery, and the chicken was juicy.

Our dessert was the Chocolate Kougelhopf (now, how I pronounce that?). Well, I think I would be really insulting it if I dare compare it to the Chocolate Lava Cake that I made. But just as you wouldn't pay $5 for a chocolate lava cake I made, you similarly wouldn't want to pay $9 for this cake. It was good, but all that chocolate really doesn't add up to so much.

This place is a little overpriced. You're paying for the good ambience and attentive service. The food was good, but not over-the-top good.

8 Holyoke St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: 617 497 5300

Monday, September 26, 2011

Johnny English Reborn

I just had to insert this post about how hilarious Johnny English Reborn was and that, if you haven't watched it and need a much needed laugh, this is the show for you!

I'm nothing like a movie critic (or any critic, for that matter). But when there are movies that will make the cinema roar in laughter, clap their hands and slap their thighs- you know you have to watch it. So even if the newspapers or professional movie critics find this show not funny, resist your instincts to trust reviews (excluding mine) and go on and watch it. You just can't believe those jaded cynics all the time.

This show is full of slapstick humour and was entertaining. To quote a friend, "This show was super funny! I felt like my IQ went to rock bottom after the show!" Yes precisely how this show is. But Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) remains full of charm and his expressions are PRICELESS. Plus, another person to catch is the vacuum lady. She's a STAR. I can still hear her piercing laughter ringing through the air- freak factor.

At the end of day, I couldn't make sense of some of the stuff that happened in the movie. But what matters is that this show has given a run for my money.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sweet Dynasty (糖水吧)

Initially, I thought this place offered desserts. I mean, who wouldn't? But far from it, the focus of this place isn't the desserts.

But that doesn't matter the least bit. Because the place offers good food at low prices.

Originating from Johor, Sweet Dynasty offers a whole range of food, supposedly with Cantonese origins. But at the strong recommendations of my sister, we ended up ordering the curry with bread. Although there were advertisements on the walls showing how this particularly dish has been raved by other magazines and all, but we took a peek around the place and most of the people were eating the Western dishes instead. A wide choice for every palate, there's no reason you can't find something that will suit your tastebuds here.

More about the curry and bread ($5.50). This is the first time I've ever seen bread prepared like this. Bread obviously goes well with curry. But such a thick loaf of bread? Toasted to the right consistency, with an internal fluffiness it can compete with the clouds. Furthermore, you have the option of asking them to help slice the bread. They slice it thickly, so that you have maximum enjoyment (maximum surface area) dipping into the curry sauce.

The curry had chicken and potatoes in it. The chicken was tender and everything gelled well with the curry. You might think that the sauce is not spicy, but the more you ate the spicier it got. I was okay with the level of spiciness, although it might be a little spicy for others.

For desserts, I ordered a bowl of barley gingko ($2.80). Having been nagged by my mum my whole life of not mixing cold and hot food together, I decided to give the cold desserts a miss. The beancurd sheet in the dessert was very chopped up. Really depends on whether you like that kind of consistency, or the sheet or beancurd itself.

Service was great. First, you get told by the (i assume) lady boss that the "uncle" is coming to put summons on cars. Then, another older lady came by to give you more curry sauce (on the house) because she saw two people at our table sharing the bread. Then the boss (i assume again) came to ask us whether we wanted more gravy.

Cheap prices, great food- are you really expecting anything more?

Sweet Dynasty (糖水吧)
29 Keong Saik Road
Tel: +65 6223 0955

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kyo-Nichi Japanese Ramen

After attempting to find out what authentic ramen in Japan tastes like, by going to Tonkotsu King and Bario Ramen, I've reverted to my old ways to eating not-so-authentic ramen, like those in Ajisen. (Disclaimer: I like the ramen at Ajisen, so read any ramen posts with caution!)

So we arrive at this place Kyo-Nichi which my mum raves about. Sometimes, I just don't understand why my mum is more hip than me, trying all the food I've never tried before.

And here you have it, the Singaporean's favourite way to discern whether a place is good. If newspapers say it's good, it must be good right.

So we ordered the cha shu ramen. The pork broth is supposed to have collagen in it. But I'm a person who doesn't drink the broth of anything intentionally, because of the fats and all that stuff. But I did take a few spoonfuls of the soup and the soup were flavourful, but not salty.

There was a generous portion of cha shu which was pretty tender. You didn't need to lose the top of your teeth trying to grind the char siew up. Now, don't tell me you don't know of a place which has char siew so hard that you have to literally rip it. Noodles was average.

It was around $12 (i can't remember the exact figure) which is a decent price to pay for a bowl of ramen like this. Alas, it would have been more worth it if you called for the set. Here's where the dilemma sets in. The set requires you to order ramen worth below $11 in order to enjoy the set (with a can drink and a side dish) at $15.

It was totally empty when we entered today, maybe because there's is no lunchtime crowd to speak of. The waitresses hailed from Hainan and therefore, you might as well speak Mandarin to them since they will reply you in Mandarin anyway.

Kyo-Nichi Japanese Ramen
20 Cross Street
China Square Central
Tel: +65 6327 3919
(Closed on Sunday)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Charly T's

You can be sure that the chicken here lives up to whatever hype people have been giving it. Although I'm not too sure that the sides are that great.

About the chicken- it's moist and tender. I eat dry chicken meat all the time. But this is good- not over roasted so that it becomes parched and dry, but not under cooked such that there is still traces of blood.

You get to choose two dipping sauces and two sides. The sauces I chose were Kansas BBQ and Charly T's sauce. Well, the Kansas BBQ sauce tastes like BBQ sauce. The Charly T's sauce tasted a little weird.

As for the sides, the garden vegetable was overwhelmed by something which I can't put my finger to. But it wasn't a taste that I was particularly fond of. The potatoes were unfortunately too hard, would have been better if they were softer. My friend left practically the whole side alone because she didn't like it.

Overall, the chicken plus all these stuff costs $13, 10% off with Citibank card. This is somewhat a fast food restaurant, where you look at the menu at the counter and order there. The food came rather quickly. Service was not bad, but would have been better if they had a better knowledge of the ingredients in the sauces/sides.

Charly T's
20 Handy Road
Level 1 NOMU Building
Tel No: +65 6336 7789

Monday, September 19, 2011

Zhou's Kitchen (周庄)

It was dim sum day again. My verdict about Taste Paradise being one of the best dim sum places around remains. Dim sum may be everywhere, but it's not easy to make good dim sum.

When we entered Zhou's Kitchen, it was still pretty empty but the crowd started slowly trickling in.

The appetizer was unusual. They normally just serve nuts. Here it's beans plus ikan billis plus dou kan. It gets your gastric juices flowing because of the mild spiciness, the crunch of everything. However, just like how too many cooks spoil the broth, too many ikan bilis makes it too salty.

We ordered the usual suspects. The standard here is pretty erratic. Take for example, the siew mai and the har gow- don't order them. I know they are staples for dim sum, but wasting money over staples? The siew mai's stock was too salty, and the har gow skin was horrible. it was sticky and thick.

But thank goodness, they had their egg tarts to save them. I've a penchant for egg tarts and so I know the difference between good and bad egg tarts. The portion of porridge is incredibly huge so don't attempt to finish it on your own. The dumplings were cutely wrapped, with a fresh prawn wrapped in between. The char siew sou had a nice crispy crust to it.

Desserts wise, they were a little too sweet for my liking. We ordered a mango sago and a mango pudding.

Nothing fantastic but not too bad either. The service was good. The waiter changed our plates, even though it wasn't like particularly dirty or anything like that. And the waitresses were very nice about helping us dabao the food. The price range is something like $3 for a plate of 3 egg tarts, $4 for desserts and along those lines. Pretty standard I think!

Novena Square 2
10 Sinaran Drive
Tel: +65 6893 1123

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Portabello Mushroom Burger

Kids are getting increasily obese in this time and age where every corner you turn, you see a fast food restaurant. Perhaps if you were just a little cautious with your food, you would be astounded by the amount of calories that can be contained in a seemingly-innocuous burger.

But there are some food that can satisfy that junk food craving and yet be equally healthy as well. I know portabello mushrooms don't sound like they can replace your crunchy crispy chicken pieces. But they are gooood. I first tried it with some cynicism at Cheesecake Factory and was hooked ever since. The juiciness of it. Om nom nom.

But the calories for CCF is horrifically high. So why not do it at home, it's something that requires very little work (seriously, when I say very little, I really mean very little).

Ingredients (serving size: 4) (Adapted from allrecipes.com)
1) 4 portabello mushroom caps
2) 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3) 2 tablespoons olive oil
4) 1 tsp dried basil
4) 1 tsp dried oregano
5) salt and pepper (a dash)

1. Pre-heat the oven.
2. Place the mushroom caps, smooth side up in a baking pan.
3. Mix the vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
4. Pour half of the mixture over the mushrooms and put it in oven.
5. Ten minutes later, flip the mushroom and pour the remaining mixture.
6. Toast the bread of the burger with a little butter on it.

Hint for extremely lazy people like me: I tried the above the first time round and it was not bad. But here's a faster tip. Just place some small pieces of butter with some spices and pepper on the mushroom and flip it around in the oven once at 15 minutes and it'll be ready in around 25-30 minutes.

And voila! Juicy mushrooms at your fingertips! (Oh please add the nachos too, just so you don't feel like you've suddenly become vegetarian.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Full House

I don't know why I've been eating Korean food for the second time in less than a week given that I haven't eaten it in what must have been quite some time.

Today, we went to Full House because the reviews on it were pretty good. It was quite empty although it was was weekend noon. Anyway, we ordered a set lunch and the sides were free. There's a counter where you get a choice of what side dishes you want. They were pretty ordinarily tasting. While the variety was there, I preferred the one at Kim's. There's just some missing taste to it.

We ordered their dumplings as well. Crispy outer layer with some veggie and tang hoon in it.

This was the bibimbap. You got a soup to go along with it. You could choose from pork/octopus/vegetable. I chose pork. Well, you shouldn't choose this option if you're going healthy. They use the kind of fatty pork in your kong ba pao. It keeps the pork succulent, but at the same time, think of those fats. The rice was done nicely- a layer of hardened rice at the bottom but not charred. And the flavour of the sauce was a good accompaniment to the rice.

The set lunch is rather good value. Bibimap + soup + side dish = $10. The rest of the items might be slightly pricey though standard for Korean food I think.

336 Tanjong Katong Road
Tel No: +65 6344 6244

Friday, September 9, 2011

Maple Delights (Montreal)

The thing about guide books is that you really don't know how much trust to place in them. There is a tendency to flock to places which guide books place five stars on, but later you leave the place in disappointment.

This might just be one such place. I set foot at this place one rainy day in Montreal. An umbrella over my head, I was looking forward to entering this shop after hearing from friends that this place served pretty good food.

You have friendly servers to begin with. Thing is, I had problems communicating with one particular server. Because she couldn't understand English and I couldn't understand French- as simple as that. Therefore, I had to slowly enunciate my words, in the hope that she would get what I'm speaking. And my efforts didn't go to naught.

This place sold lots of maple products. Their gelato, peanuts, biscuits, maple syrup (surprise surprise), cosmetics were all maple products. They even had this little museum one floor down where you could see how they extract maple. (I bought a packet of maple nuts- and they weren't great at all.)

And so, this was what I ordered. Waffles with raspberry sorbet. Okay the thing is, I don't really have any gripe about this waffle. It's just that... it's far too ordinary and doesn't not match with the awesomeness that I had dreamed up from this shop. It was a satisfying eat (considering that it was raining outside), but I didn't feel like this maple stuff was anything out of the ordinary.

A little overhyped, I would think. But if you really need to lug a bag of Canadian maple products back to your home, by all means, visit this place.

84, St-Paul Street East
Montreal (Quebec)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kim's Family Restaurant

I'm a person who likes to look at food blogs with pictures. Therefore, it's nearly unacceptable that this post is devoid of pictures (didn't bring my camera along!). But if I were to compare having a blog post about food without pictures and not having any blog post, I'd rather the former.

I never knew that stretch of eateries existed next to Beauty World because I don't happen to live anywhere remotely near there. And it was because of my friends' major cravings for Kim's that we trooped down there.

Here's a video featuring the restaurant.

The first thing that greets you in a really strong smell in the shop, a smell that will stick with you after you leave the shop. I try as far as possible not to step foot in these kind of shops because I don't want to go around smelling like what I just ate.

That aside, we ordered some food to share- kimchi pancake, bibimbap and BBQ pork. We got promptly served with 10 complimentary side dishes. Yes, you got that right, TEN. Ikan bilis, some green chinese vegetable, kimchi, cucumber, cuttlefish, fishcake, mushrooms, cabbage or something similar, large beansprouts and potatoes. These side dishes are appetising, just that i didn't really like the Chinese vegetable because it was a little bitter. But the rest were a good start to an appetising meal.

The spicy pork was a heap of pork (four of us shared it). It's spicy and sweet, and goes really well with rice. Just that we had some minor problem with it cos it was a little minced and was a little difficult to pick up with the chopsticks.

The kimchi pancake was huge also. We couldn't finish it. The taste of the kimchi wasn't strong and the pancake wasn't oily. An image of 葱油饼 appears in my mind- I don't eat it because it normally oozes with oil. My friend is a big fan of the kimchi pancake here.

And the bibimbap was spammed with the red chilli sauce before mixing it up. I'm not accustomed to eating Korean food so I don't appreciate how bibimbap tastes "super awesome" according to my friend. Plus each of us just had a few chopsticks worth of rice because four of us shared on bibimbap!

The trip here was an eye-opener for a non-Korean food eater. The portions are big and relatively expensive ($20 for the BBQ pork). So do not try to order a BBQ pork and try to finish it on your own. It's better if you go in a group so that you guys can share the cost and the huge portions as well! Between the four of us, we paid $11.55, so share!

Kim's Family Restaurant
17 Lorong Kilat
#01-06 Kilat Court
Tel: +65 6465 0535

Saturday, September 3, 2011

House of Soon Tofu (Toronto)

Once upon a time, I ended up at a place which looked like Korea, felt like Korea and even tasted of Korea. But it was not Korea. Time and time again, I marvel at how the country can contain so many ethnic communities- Greektown, Koreatown, Little Italy, Chinatown etc. There were rows and rows of shops selling Korean stuff and a rather large Korean supermarket.

I went to House of Soon Tofu because reviews stated that it was cheap and delicious. Apparently, there's some kind of rivalry with Buk Chang Dong tofu somewhere nearby.

I went rather early, so there were still plenty of seats. By the time I left, the place was FULL of old korean ladies, catching up on their daily gossip. My indicator of whether a place serves true authentic food is whether people of the nationality go there for the food. If I were in any country and was served substandard Singaporean food, I'd rather not go.

So you get served with dishes of appetiser first. I love kimchi because of the sour taste. The tofu was a little too salty for me, but everything added up to be very appetising, all the gastric juices start to flow!

So here's the highlight of the show. The renowned tofu soup, served with a stone bowl of rice. I actually can't remember the taste now and therefore shall not cook up some review just to hoodwink people. But one thing I do remember, is that after eating it, I felt so warm. Might have been spicy, I can't remember. The rice is multi-grain by the way. Healthy food seems to be the focus here.

After I stepped out of the place, I was rubbing my hands in glee and feeling so good for a good meal. And this place is inexpensive, around 6-8 CAD (can't remember the exact figure) For that amount of food, plus good service plus feel good feeling after having a good meal, it makes me feel like life is complete with a bowl of hot soup in chilly weather!

p.s. Do yourself a favour by hopping over to Hodo Kwaja after that!

House of Soon Tofu
681 Bloor St W
Toronto, ON M6G 4B9