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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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Table Manners

A friend gave two thumbs up to this place a couple of months ago. But because going to the extreme east and west of Singapore is a little of a chore by public transport (I coincidentally did both this week), it took me a while to drag myself to Table Manners. When we arrived at 1230 pm on a Sunday afternoon, we were the only ones inside. The crowd slowly trickled in thereafter. 

I love the furnishing and concept of this place. A clean touch but lots of quirky elements in it. The "table mat" was interesting and as part of the tips printed at the side, it states "Use your handphone at the table when you have a boring lunch partner". Other quotes are put in frames and hung on the walls.

When we were first seated, we were told by the waitress about the add-ons which included a soup, a dessert and a drink for $4.80. Later, we realised that this didn't apply during weekend lunch. But the supervisor was very gracious about it and offered to put it on the company's tab. More about the service later.

There are many methods of cooking Mushroom Soup (putting Campbell's into a pot does not count) and my favourite type is that which is thick and has lots of little mushrooms hidden within it. This was not dilute but wasn't as thick as I would like the mushroom soup to be- matter of personal preference. Other than that, the soup was filled with mushroomy goodness although it might be a little salty.

I got a Set B ($13.50) where you can choose two fibre and one protein. Other options include Set A (three fibre) ($9.50), Set C (one fibre + two protein) ($16.50) and Set D (two fibre and two protein) ($19). I opted for Herb Spiced Potato Wedges, Sauteed Mushrooms and Cajun styled Marinated Whole Chicken Leg.

The mushrooms were sauteed to perfection such that the juices were locked within the mushrooms. Unfortunately, although I took my first bite of the mushrooms when they first arrived, they were barely warm. The wedges were crispy on the outside and soft in the inside and had just the right amount of seasoning on it.

The star of this dish was the Cajun style Chicken. The Cajun Chicken I will remember for the rest of my life was this Cajun style Chicken Sandwich which was sold in a nondescript cafe in San Diego. But boy, it was one of the most delightful sandwiches I had ever eaten. After some googling, I guess I now have a very superficial understanding of what Cajun cuisine entails, but I still can't really grasp what its essence really is. In any case, this chicken was very tender and the meat shredded off easily. I'm not sure where the Cajun flavour came in but at least the sauce went well with the chicken.

The dessert of the day was Lemon Meringue. I have never been a fan of meringues because it's exceedingly sweet. Yet paired with the sourness of the lemon curd, strawberries and orange zest, I suppose this will still appeal to those with a sweet tooth as the sourness can neutralise the cloying sweetness.

As mentioned above about the mix-up, the supervisor offered to put the add-ons on the company's tab. We didn't want to take advantage of this mix-up and offered to pay the original price of the add-ons but the supervisor was very kind about it and insisted that we should not pay for the add-ons. The waitress who was confused about the add-ons also remained chirpy throughout  Only glitch in the service was that the waitress serving us didn't seem to have the same enthusiasm as the other girl who had made a mistake.

That said, if I were in the area again, I would drop by again. It's not that the food is superb- it's decent. It's just the combination of the vibe, the music, the furniture, the decent food, the friendly service and the overall concept that makes me want to visit this place again.

Table Manners
Changi City Point (opposite Expo)
5 Changi Business Park Central 1
Tel No: 6 604 7669 

Wreck-It Ralph

I have a lot of movies I want to catch up on but for today, I stuck to Wreck-It Ralph. It's always a little awkward when you are the only adult surrounded by other adults who are accompanying their little children. It's as though the rating of this movie says "Children only, adults allowed only if accompanied by children."

An extremely short summary first. It's about Wreck-It Ralph who plays the villian in an arcade game but who really wants to be a good guy. To read more about the plot, please click here

Here's the trailer.

The movie was admittedly slow going at the beginning but gained pace towards the middle. Unlike the usual Disney princess productions that we are used to, here's one exploring a pretty innovative theme- life of video game characters. However, the underlying themes remain largely the same, about finding true friends in adversity, self-discovery etc. Another really captivating aspect of this film was the burst of colours, especially in the game Sugar Rush. It might also make some adult viewers feel nostalgic about the arcade games they used to play decades ago!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ramen Keisuke Tori King

I went to Tonkotsu King more than a year ago. Seeing how many reviews there were about the new Tori King selling ramen with chicken thigh in chicken broth, I decided to hop by. This is the third restaurant by Keisuke Takeda in Singapore. 

We didn't take very long to get in, but that was probably because we were kiasu and went rather early.

Interesting Japanese posters and newspaper articles around the restaurant. I liked the beansprouts because they did not taste raw and were rather appetising. As for the spicy sauce which was apparently "very hot", it barely made the mark of being spicy in the first place.

I had the Tori King Ramen with Flavoured Egg ($13.90). It was a large piece of chicken thigh with meat that shredded off easily. The thigh is simmered in soy sauce overnight for the flavour. Once again, the stock was too salty for me, just like the one at Tonkotsu King. The flavoured egg was made to perfection, with it being half runny yet staying mostly intact.

It makes a lot of sense for you to write your name on the slips of paper given so that your orders would not be mixed up. Servers were friendly. Overall, I liked the ramen minus the stock which was too salty for me. Might not have queued up for it if the queues were long!

Ramen Keisuke Tori King 
100 AM
100 Tras Street

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tiong Bahru Bakery (Raffles City)

Every time I go out with this particular friend of mine, I think of how lucky I am to have known her. It's been exactly a decade since we knew each other! Another mutual close friend of ours is coming back from Australia next month after a few years of not being back in Singapore and I can't wait for our meetup. 

We went to Tiong Bahru Bakery at the Raffles City outlet which is strangely not as crowded as the Tiong Bahru one. This is probably due to the large seating capacity at this branch. 

I always get slightly stressed whenever I have to stand at the counter to order because I'm always paranoid that I will hold the queue up behind me. And this is precisely such a place. 

I decided to go with the Ham and Mozzarella Focaccia ($8). I kind of overestimated my appetite and thought one would not be enough. But this was absolutely filling for me. This focaccia was chewy and dense, unlike the one at Paris Baguette. The focaccia at Paris Baguette was one of the worst I had ever eaten. I like how the focaccia here has a mild herb taste. The first half of the meal was good but I got incredibly tired of eating it midway, perhaps because of the combined saltiness of the ham and the mozzarella cheese. 

Being the gullible patrons we were, we readily agreed to have the Kouign Aman ($3.50) when the girl at the counter recommended it to us, saying it was "freshly out of the oven". At first glance, I actually saw the words "Kofi Annan" instead. My eyesight, my eyesight. After some googling, I realise that it is of French origin and is pronounced as "queen a-mahn".

I was too full to truly enjoy this pastry which is made of salted butter and caramel. It had a flaky and crispy exterior and the caramel was a little sweet but still acceptable.

Food was decent although slightly overpriced. Nonetheless, we had a good time chilling the afternoon away.

Tiong Bahru Bakery (Raffles City)
Raffles City Shopping Centre
252 North Bridge Road
Tel: 6333 4160 

The Square (Novotel) (Bangkok)

It's quite amazing what a few hours of non-stop shopping can do to you. That was precisely what happened and being so lazy, we decided to dine in our hotel. Of all the meals we had, this had the best ambience and the worst food. The restaurant was empty throughout our dinner and this is probably indicative of the quality of the food. 

We opted for the Thai Set Menu which was 450++ Baht for 2 people. You had a choice of starters, soup, main course and a dessert. 

We chose the Grilled Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and the Deep Fried Vegetables Spring Roll. All the dishes are for two to share. The satay was less flavourful than those we are used to although it's tender. The spring roll tastes rather standard.

This Tom Yum Goong was an absolute disappointment. Couldn't imagine a Thai restaurant not doing this right since it's such a popular dish. It was so salty that I didn't finish the soup.

The Sweet & Sour Fish went perfectly well with the Jasmine Rice. I think it's fascinating how different cuisines have their special brand of rice. India and basmati rice, Japan and their short grain, sticky rice, Thailand and their fragrant Jasmine rice etc.

The Sauteed Mixed Vegetables with Oyster Sauce was a very meh dish and not worth a mention.

The Steamed Sea Bass with Lemon & Chilli Sauce was small in portion. Nonetheless, the fish meat was very smooth and was accompanied by a sour, sweet and slightly spicy sauce. Isn't that always the best combination for an appetising sauce?

We ate Mango Sticky Rice all three days we spent at Bangkok. It's not possible to get this dish wrong.

The food took quite long to be served. Servers were friendly. Food was so-so. Do yourself a favour by dragging yourself out to eat instead of staying in the hotel!

The Square
Hotel Novotel Bangkok Platinum
220 Petchaburi Road

Nam Sing (Bangkok)

After dinner at T&K Seafood, we made our way to the nearby Nam Sing. It's apparently famous for bird's nest and sharks' fin. 

The restaurant was really empty at dinner time although not too far away, diners had to beat throngs of people to get a seat at the seafood restaurants.

While deciding which bird's nest to get, we were served complimentary chrysanthemum tea.

We decided to get White Bird's Nest (Third Class) (300 Baht). While I'm not sure how to differentiate different classes of bird's nest, I probably wasted half the bowl because there were lots of little feathers floating around. Not sure if it's the same for the first class bird's nest. Taste wise was okay as it was not too sweet. I especially liked the dried longans- we bought back a few packets of them. Make a trip to 合记林真香 if you want to get some!

Nam Sing Bird's Nest Shark Fin Restaurant
39-47 Soi Texas
Phadung Dao Road
Yaowaraj, Bangkok

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Platinum Mall Food Court (Bangkok)

Thanks to Daniel's Food Diary and Memoirs of Food, it made it easier to decide what food to try at the Platinum Mall Food Court. We had three meals at the food court and all three times, it was very crowded. 

A few of us ordered the Rice with Stewed Pork Limb (40 Baht). I didn't have it because I wasn't in a mood for rice. But those who had it said that it was not bad but not that filling.

This stall had the longest queue and it isn't surprising given that it housed many popular dishes.

We ordered a Fried Oyster (75 Baht) and it was good! Crispy sides with lots of fresh oysters.

From this stall, I also ordered a Seafood Pad Thai (75 Baht). It's sweeter than the Singapore versions I have tried so far and you could decide how much spring onion, chilli, sugar and ground peanut you wanted.

Before leaving Bangkok, I decided to try the Glass Noodles version instead. However, the prawns weren't as fresh as the first time I tried the Pad Thai.

We had Mango Sticky Rice (80 Baht) all three times we went to Platinum Mall Food Court. How can you not get it when the mango is so incredibly sweet? Granted, one of the days it wasn't as sweet but that is not a good reason to give this dessert a miss. 

We tried to hunt for a stall that sold Tom Yam but the only stall that sold it was selling it at a higher price tag compared to many other food items. We decided to go to the noodle stall and got a bowl of Fishball Noodles with Tom Yam instead. The dish was so-so although there were plenty of ingredients.

Another dessert that we liked was the Crepe with Ice Cream. If you are craving for some kind of dessert, you may want to consider this! The chocolate ice cream was surprisingly of a considerably good quality.

Platinum Fashion Mall Food Court
222 (Pratunum) Petchaburi Road
Ratchathevee, Bangkok
6th Floor

Sunday, December 16, 2012

T&K Seafood (Bangkok)

We decided to visit T&K Seafood since it seemed like a really popular seafood place in Chinatown. We reached around 6 plus pm which was a good timing because it got really crowded soon after. 

We had the option of sitting outside or inside. We chose to sit inside because of the sweltering heat. On hindsight, this was a bad decision because the poor service of the guy serving our floor totally ruined our dining experience. 

The Grilled Prawns had a nice smokey flavour to it but was unfortunately a little dry.

After the Steamed Fish arrived, they lit the burner below it. The meat quality of the fish was good but was lacking in flavour probably because the sauces did not manage to seep into the fish. 

I read some blog that said that the Stir Fried Water Morning Glory was a must order. Wondering what was so special about the vegetables, we decided to get a plate, only to realise that it was in fact kang kong. Fried with lots of garlic, this plate of vegetables was pretty ordinary. 

We also got a plate of Fried Rice which I thought was pretty good despite having minimal ingredients. The eggy flavour complete with wok hei and clearly separated bits of rice made it delightful.

Unlike the Grilled Prawns which had nice prawn juices despite being slightly dry, the Grilled Squid was completely lacking in flavour.

The Crab Tang Hoon was quite worth it. Lots of crab parts provided (not shown in picture) although they are not the crabs with plump succulent meat that you can find at the East Coast seafood restaurants. The tanghoon was sweet and moist. Overall, this was a pretty good dish. 

The Tom Yam Soup was quite spicy and had fish, squid, prawns and mushrooms in it.

The bill came up to around $11 per person which is quite a steal considering the amount of food. Another good thing about this place is that the food was served really quickly so that you don't have to remain famished for that long. However, the service was thoroughly lacking as the guy who served the third floor had a really bad attitude. The people at the outdoor tables seemed a lot friendlier.

T&K Seafood 
49-51 Soi Phadung Dao
Chinatown, Bangkok

Novotel Hotel (Platinum) (Bangkok)

Although this is a very new establishment, most aspects of the hotel met our expectations. 

1) Location: Shopping  
If your main purpose of going to Bangkok is to shop, this location is perfect. We were told by the lady at the check-in counter that 99% of the people staying in the hotel are Singaporeans. It's located above the new wing of Platinum Fashion Mall and right next to the old wing of Platinum Fashion Mall (where we spent most of our time and money at). Really loved the location because we could drop our bags or take a short rest then resume shopping. 

Note that this is a VERY busy district and there are bad jams regardless of the time of the day. 

Besides Platinum Fashion Mall, it's also within a 5 minute walk to Pantip (selling computer-related stuff), Pratunum Market (open-air market), Central World (modern shopping centre with lots of eateries), Big C (a hypermarket), the Erawan Shrine (the four-faced Buddha) and Siam Paragon (shopping centre with IMAX). 

In the direction of Central World and Big C, you will see lots of roadside food stalls and stalls selling everything from clothes to accessories to toys. If you go to Central World at night, there seems to be some drinking fest every night with live performances. 

2) Location: Everywhere else
The hotel is far from the few tourist attractions we wanted to visit, including the temples and Chinatown. We opted for a cab everywhere from the hotel- more about this later. 

3) Room 
I loved everything about the room. Comfortable beds, good working wifi, many TV channels including my favourite Asian Food Channel and we could see Central World and the never-ending jam from our room. As mentioned above, the live music performances go on till quite late at night so we basically heard the pounding music every night. For those who have trouble sleeping, you might want to request for ear plugs or see if there are rooms that might not be affected by the performances. 

Interesting toilet design where the toilet has a separate door from the rest of the bathroom. Good for those who like to hog the toilet. There are no locks to the toilet door- might not be the perfect design if the two people sharing the room do not know each other very well.

Note the darkened screen. It's transparent (i.e. whoever's in the room can see you bathing and you can see the room when you're bathing) unless you press a button and the screen comes down. You have to hold onto the button for some time before it will come down. Love the shower. 

4) Breakfast 
Breakfast was good. There was a selection of bread and danish pastries, hot food such as roast potatoes, fried rice, noodle station, egg station, fruits, a wide fruit juice selection, yummy pancakes etc. 

5) Rest of the food
We had dinner in the hotel once but I'll blog about it another time. Suffice to say that we preferred the food at Platinum food court.

6) Amenities 
Some people commented that this was like the pool at MBS but sorry, this doesn't make the cut because it's a small pool. The gym looked good enough for travelling purposes. Free computer usage at the 6th floor which I thought was a plus point for those who don't bring their laptops and don't want to squint at their phone screens.

7) Service
I'm not sure why I'm leaving the worst for the last but I'll do it anyway. 

Pete's Place

This place should be called Peter's Place instead of Pete's Place. Remember Peter Rabbit? It's mainly rabbit food here if you don't order the mains. 

There are two options for buffet lunch: 1) salad buffet + soup + mains + dessert ($28++) or 2) salad buffet + soup + dessert ($22++). We were contemplating whether to get the mains and decided not to, since the standard of the mains would probably be the same as the standard that we had encountered so far- ordinary food with nothing impressionable. We probably missed the whole point of this place by getting the salad buffet because apparently this place serves really good Italian fare.

We started off with soup: Mushroom soup and minestrone soup. I had a few servings of the hearty, delicious soup but things started going downhill from here. 

There's a fair selection of bread. Probably left there for quite some time, the bread was cold and unappetising. I know of some who love the bread selection here but I don't share their sentiments. The focaccia bread, one of my favourite breads, tasted rather flat. 

This is the counter where you could select your mains such as pasta etc. You do not need to decide whether you want the mains at the beginning of your meal. Take a look at the mains first before deciding whether to pay more for the mains!

This is the salad section. I thought there was a very limited choice of ingredients for the salad. Noting the price of the salad buffet, I might be better off going to a salad shop getting better and more interesting ingredients.

Dessert is always the part I look forward to. There was once again, a very limited range of dessert- tiramisu, chestnut cakes and chocolate pudding with brandy. I only tried the tiramisu and didn't really like it because there was too much cream in proportion to the sponge fingers- matter of personal preference. 

Overall, the salad buffet was a disappointment. Very overpriced considering that the food range was limited and there were no premium ingredients to justify the price.  Service was efficient and polite.

Pete's Place 
Grand Hyatt Singapore
10 Scotts Road
Tel: 6 681 6689