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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, August 30, 2012

Liang Zhao Ji Duck Rice 梁照记

Located next to Hoover Rojak is the equally famous Liang Zhao Ji Duck Rice 梁照记. The difference between both of them is that the queue moves a lot slower for the duck rice. 

I ordered the $3 portion of Duck Rice. I have no clue what kind of rice this is- is this white rice soaked in braising sauce or is this yam rice? In any case, I really liked the flavour of the rice with the sauce. The portion was also rather generous. However, the duck was a little tough. The accompanying chilli sauce was very appetising though- slightly spicy and sour!

Liang Zhao Ji Duck Rice 梁照记
Whampoa Drive Food Centre
Blk 90 Whampoa Drive
Tel No: 9450 0893
Opening Hours:
Mon- Sun: 10.30 am - 6 pm
(Closed on Tues) 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hoover Rojak (Whampoa Drive)

If you are 1) not eating alone and 2) wish to try the popular stalls at Whampoa Drive Food Centre, I suggest you get one person into each queue because the queues can get a little long. The Balestier Road Hoover Rojak and the famous duck rice are just next to each other. 

I opted for the $3 Rojak. You could also order the $4 or $5 portion. First impression is that they give a lot of rojak sauce. If you request for chilli to be added, be mindful that the chilli sauce is a little spicier than usual. The sauce is one of the best rojak sauces i have tried. The addition of jellyfish was interesting but you had to make an effort to look through the sauce.

The utter letdown of this dish, however, was the fact that the taupok and the youtiao were not grilled on the spot. They were just left in a heap and served together with the sauce. This resulted in the dish being cold and a little soggy.

Hoover Rojak (Whampoa Drive)
Whampoa Drive Food Centre
Blk 90 Whampoa Drive
Tel: 021 4593 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Caffe Pralet

Trying to act like the young cool crowd who flock to Tiong Bahru, we decided to up the level of coolness by going to a place which is not as popular as places such as Tiong Bahru Bakery or Orange Thimble. Okay fine, it was because the rest were incredibly crowded. We arrived at Caffe Pralet which is a cafe opened by Chef Judy Koh, who conducts baking lessons as well. 

I got my hands on the  Signature Pralet Cake ($5.50). Here's a pricing guide which is not updated because the price of the cake has increased by a dollar. The cake is packed with chocolate goodness- rich chocolate mousse made from French dark chocolate, piled above a layer of crispy hazelnut waffle and lastly adorned with a piece of edible gold paper. 

I haven't found a person who doesn't like the texture of the crispy waffle. I know a few people who love the Coco Exotic from Four Leaves precisely because of the crispy layer. 

The only negative thing is that the richness gets into you after a while. It's a matter of personal preference, just like how people can eat nutella non-stop from the bottle itself. I think I would require medical attention if I did that. 

My friends also tried other cakes and they all agreed that the cakes here were good. Apparently, the Green Tea Grateau is also something that you shouldn't miss in this cafe. Service wise, exceptionally fast service. After ordering the cakes at the counter, the cakes get delivered even before you make your way back to your seats. To quote a friend, "Wah! The cakes just mysteriously popped up so quickly!" I think Caffe Pralet is a good place to hang out for some peace and if you want to avoid the crowds at the other Tiong Bahru cafes.

Caffe Pralet 
Eng Hoon Mansions
17 Eng Hoon Street
Tel No: 6223 5595 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nando's (Tanglin Mall)

I've always heard conflicting accounts on Nando's. Some people used to talk about Nando's as if I was missing out on the hottest food sensation in town. But subsequently, I heard people talk about the poor quality of food at Nando's. 

The Tanglin Mall branch was pretty empty at lunchtime.

I ordered a 1/4 Peri Peri Chicken with 2 sides (wedges and corn cob) ($13.90). Here's the menu for your reference. Peri Peri is also known as pili pili or piri piri. In plain English, it means African Birds Eye Chilli. Peri peri is the spelling of the name used in the Portugese language.

You get to choose from different levels of spiciness and I chose Hot. The wait for the chicken took some time. I haven't tried the sauce before and it tasted unique and rather delicious. Pity the chicken was a little tough. Also, the chicken meat tasted pretty much unmarinated.

It's not as bad as some people make it out to be, but it would be better if the chicken were more juicy! Service was acceptable, albeit a little slow. I read reviews on not being served water, but we were served iced water so I suppose the issue has been resolved.

Tanglin Mall
163 Tanglin Road
Tel: 62353555

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice

I don't eat chicken rice that often because of that long lasting taste that garlic leaves in my mouth. So, when I do, I make sure I go for good chicken rice. Today, I decided to try Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice. There was a queue which took about 15 minutes for me to reach the front. 

Seeing that everybody in front of me opted for the Steamed White Chicken Rice ($2.50, $3.50 option available), I decided to get that as well. Honestly, that isn't something that I would risk having garlicky breath over. The rice is passable and the meat is tender. The rather spicy chilli sauce complements the chicken well. However, I'm not accustomed to the taste of the soup.

Also, there's just something missing about the chicken- smoothness and chewiness factor. Compared to Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, I would opt for Tian Tian.

Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice
Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre
30 Seng Poh Road

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lian He Ben Ji Claypot 联合本记煲饭

Armed with a list of famous food to try in Chinatown Complex, we ended up at Lian He Ben Ji Claypot 联合本记煲饭 because it was the only one still open at 730 pm. The people seated at the tables near this stall seem to be eating only one thing- the Claypot Rice. You get to see claypots lined up and cooked over charcoal. 

Different kinds of claypot are available. We opted for the Sausage Claypot ($8, other options include $5, $10, $12 etc.) Honestly, what did I not like about this? Nothing, really nothing. The chicken was moist, the rice with sauce was fragrant, the sausage was sweet- nothing to fault. Scrapping the sides of the claypot is always the best part of eating claypot rice. Scrape the sides and you get a non-charred crispy layer of rice with a light burnt taste. Scrape the bottom of the claypot and you get a charred crispy layer.

If you are really famished, don't queue for this because there's a long wait (at least 30 minutes)- it takes time for the smoky taste to permeate the dish! Or you could order the BBQ seafood next door while waiting, it smells incredible too. Claypot rice is not on my radar normally, but I have to say this stall sells pretty amazing claypot. 

Lian He Ben Ji Clay Pot Rice 联合本记煲饭
Chinatown Complex Food Centre
335 Smith Street
Tel No: 6227 2470 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ma Maison Restaurant (The Central)

The table we were seated at Ma Maison had very good views of the Clarke Quay area. Another friend and I stopped talking because we got distracted by the lights of the G-Max Reverse Bungy. 

Nice ambience within the restaurant with a very cosy feel. I especially liked the table cloths- flower prints. Not your conventional mono-colour table cloths.

Having read reviews about the Cuttlefish Ink Spaghetti, I decided to have it!

Looking slightly unappetising, the Cuttlefish Ink Spaghetti ($15.90) was a first for me. The last time I ate anything remotely squid ink was at Skinny Pizza. Anyway, I found the squid ink too salty for my liking. It smelt really good though. At $15.90, I would have expected more ingredients, instead of the pittance of cuttlefish with some mushrooms in it. The spaghetti was cooked al dente. Note though, to wipe your mouth constantly and to have a cup of water, or you will be flashing black lips and black teeth.

Overall, the food isn't much to rave about. I have conflicting thoughts about the service. On one hand, there's this Japanese guy who's extremely friendly and helpful. On the other hand, there's this other guy who was pretty condescending. As I walked out, I told my friends, "Oh my goodness, that guy sure was, ... what's that word?" "Snobbish," my friend said. If you want to have a romantic date, here's a good place at a relatively affordable price.

Ma Maison Restaurant (The Central)
The Central @ Clarke Quay
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
Tel No: 6327 8122 

Night Festival 2012

Night Festival is back once again! Here's the link on the NHB website, where you can download the Festival Guide as well. Don't miss it!

Dates: Fri 24 and Sat 25 August
Fri 31 Aug and Sat 1 Sept
7pm- 2am
Free Admission 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jai Thai (East Coast)

I passed by Jai Thai when I went on a trail at Katong and decided to come back here yesterday (because the restaurant we wanted to eat at was closed). "Jai" means heart in Thai and Jai Thai has been in Singapore since 1999. 

It's a no-frills place, which reminded me somewhat of a Thai food restaurant in Boston, Nud Pob Thai cuisine, except that it's more spacious. If Singapore had winter, here's where I would head to for a relatively good and cheap fix of piping hot Thai food.

I chose the Tom Yum Noodle Set ($6.80, with 10% service charge). I was offered the choice of either clear broth or coconut milk base. I opted for the clear broth. Suitably spicy with lots of fresh seafood. The prawns were very bouncy and fresh, albeit a little salty. There was also sotong, fish and mushrooms in it. The fish were also fresh although I found them cooked for perhaps too long and too big a chunk.

My friend ordered the Pad Thai. This is what she says: "I think the phad thai at jai thai was a bit sour even without adding the lime, but the noodle was quite chewy. The jelly that came along with the set was really like agar agar, not something exceptional. Price wise it was really affordable. The only downside was the environment was quite noisy and i had to talk louder than them. Of course it may just be an once off occurrence and it just have to be the day i am there."

Our sets came with a drink and dessert of the day. I chose lime juice and the dessert of the day was konnyaku jelly with bits of nata de coco in it.

Service was decent, with the food being served pretty fast. It's not that often that I get to meet this very good friend of mine, so I was glad they didn't chase us away despite being there for 2 hours. But the best thing about this place is that it's really value for money! Jai Thai also has outlets at Clover Way and Purvis Street.

Jai Thai 
205 East Coast Road
Tel: 6346 4940 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

King Pot

Currently, there is a Groupon promotion going on for King Pot. We bought the groupon and had lunch at King Pot. Located at Big Splash (East Coast Park), it is one of the many eateries that is clamouring for the attention at Big Splash. 

Pretty chandeliers adorn the restaurants. It was pretty empty, save for a table of kids celebrating somebody's birthday.

The promotion prices do not apply if you use the Groupon. So we went for the Meatlover's Set ($39.90++) when their promotion price is $28.80 ++. You get to choose which sauces you want. I opted for the specialty sauce which was basically a lump of goodness-knows-what which you stir into the mix. Looks slighlty unappetizing and was a little too dilute for my liking. It tasted like McDonald's Curry sauce minus the oomph.

The Shabu Shabu Style Sliced Pork made me rather annoyed because there were small pieces of bones left in every piece of meat I took. It ruins the experience of being able to taste the tender pork without having to sort through the bones.

The vegetables came in a rather cute presentation. It looked like a little pot of plant. There are also mushrooms, in addition to the mushrooms in the Mushroom Soup I chose. (There are different soup bases you can choose from.)

Plated meticulously, it was a plate of food we commonly see, including Sliced Chicken Breast Thigh, Pork Ball, Beef Ball. Yong Tau Hu.

You also get to choose from coffee or tea.

The cake was the last to come. It has thick layer of cream, followed by one layer of solid chocolate, and a thin layer of chocolate cake. For those who don't mind the thick layer of cream above, the cake was quite good- I think the solid layer of chocolate had a large role to play.

Service wise- very friendly. But many inconsistencies in the way they serve and also make sure you get what your order. We had many mixed up orders, such as getting beef balls when we specifically requested not to have beef balls. They also served coffee right at the start of the meal whereas another table had it at the end of the meal. Also take note that you can choose the type of coffee you want because they didn't offer choices initially. They are very friendly and willing to cater to your needs but make sure you know what you want and what you don't. 

Food wise, if you look at what I just listed, it's food that you can easily get for much much cheaper. Unless you want somewhere with nice ambience, friendly service (not ensuring the quality of the service) and a personal hotpot, I won't really recommend it. 

Big Splash
902 Block B East Coast Parkway 
Tel No: 6348 7997

Sunday, August 12, 2012

328 Katong Laksa (51 East Coast Road)

In Singapore, you judge whether something has attained a certain level of fame by seeing whether there are Japanese words affixed to the name. Clearly, 328 Katong Laksa has attained a phenomenal level of fame. Step into their shop and you'll be overwhelmed by the number of photographs on the walls with famous politicians or artistes. 

It can get pretty busy during lunch time on weekends. You can either eat at the coffee shop side (no air condition) or at their air-conditioned shop. The moment we sat down, the server asked impatiently in Chinese, "How many?" Still reeling from the shock of the abrupt question, we answered "Two." "Cockles?" "No." "Otak?" "No." With that, our order was done. Only then did we peruse their menu pasted on the wall.

We paid $4 for Laksa (small). One thing you will notice is that the thick beehoon is cut so that it fits nicely into your spoon instead of you struggling to twirl it into the spoon. Other ingredients include sliced fishcake and prawns. I like the gravy because it's rich yet not overpowering and not too oily. For those who can't eat spicy stuff, this might suit you well because it isn't spicy. If you like it to be spicy, there is a can of chilli paste on the table. The prawns were also fresh. Only a spoon is served together with the bowl. But if you are not used to it, there are chopsticks available. 

The laksa here is good (not sure how it compares to the other katong laksa contenders). But it's not an understatement to say that service is scary. A man hollered to a group of people "No more seats!" while signalling them to go out, without even attempting to ask them to wait for a while before the next seat is vacant. They also looked like I owed them money, even though I paid them the money for my laksa and barley! There are some places where service can be fast yet polite. Here's definitely not one of them.

328 Katong Laksa (51 East Coast Road)
51 East Coast Road
Tel No: 9732 8163

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Trail #3: Katong/Joo Chiat

Since we had time on National Day, we decided to walk the Katong/Joo Chiat area. This isn't what you would consider a touristy area but it is pretty much a gem of its own, with a long heritage and well-preserved buildings. According to Wikipedia, Katong was "born out of Joo Chiat" and Mr Chew Joo Chiat was known as the King of Katong. And if you are Singaporean, you must know that this area is concentrated with lots of good eateries. 

If you're interested, here's a blog by Mr Chew's great-grandson. It's pretty admirable how people take the effort to document the history of places that hold a special place in their hearts. 

Katong/Joo Chiat Trail 
I did a Katong/Joo Chiat trail and here, I've marked the places on Google Map. If you are interested in retracing my footsteps, all you need to do is to print out the map and to follow it accordingly. Why I did this was because sometimes when I was travelling, I was often bothered by which sequence I should take in order to maximise my sightseeing.

View Larger Map

A. Katong Shopping Centre
The first air-conditioned mall in Singapore, Katong Shopping Centre was established in 1971. It's not a place where you would go to find your fashionable clothes and shoes, but rather a place where you can find photocopying companies, Teo Heng Karaoke (a relatively cheap karaoke place), lots of maid employment agencies and even a ghostbuster shop. Not sure how long it will still be there though because 80% of the owners have already given consent to the en-bloc sales. 

You can also walk into some of the sidelanes such as Ean Kiam Place or Marshall Road where you will see distinctive and interesting houses.

B. Sri Senpaga Vinyagar Temple 
The Hindu temple, Sri Senpaga Vinyagar Temple, was established in the mid-19th century by the Ceylonese Tamils from Sri Lanka. It is the second-oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. You can see the Chola style of architecture here. The Cholas were the greatest temple builders in the history of India. You can enter regardless of religion or race, but do take off your shoes and socks if you step into the main hall.

C. Carnival Beauty Salon
You seldom see hairdressing shops like this anymore. When we tried to peek into the salon, we realised we couldn't see anything.

D. Katong Laksa
What's a trip to Katong without trying the laksa? But with so many contenders for the real Katong Laksa, maybe you should just settle for one of the most popular at 328 Katong Laksa. You will see the walls plastered with pictures of the shopowner with lots of big shots, including ministers and actors.

E. Kim Choo Kueh Chang
Kim Choo Kueh Chang has been here for over 60 years. Madam Lee Kim Choo was 12 years old when she learnt the secret recipe to making traditional Nonya rice dumplings. Yet another story of a lady with steel grit, she set up a stall under a tree, with 5 kg of rice everyday. This remains a very popular and favourite shop for people to get dumplings.

F. 112 Katong
A very new shopping centre, this place houses many new eateries and is a worthy contender with the nearby Parkway Parade. It also introduced a Golden Village (movie theatre) with a Peranakan theme. It is a major transformation from the previous shopping centre occupying this piece of land. As Katong is not really accessible by MRT, you might want to consider the free shuttle bus from Paya Lebar MRT. 

F. Chin Mee Chin Coffee & Cake Shop
Chin Mee Chin is a place where many food bloggers rave about their kaya toasts. Apparently, everything about this place is original- using a charcoal fire to heat the coffee, baking their own buns etc. Nostalgia is the key here, but the food has to be good too. While I haven't eaten here yet, this will be on my to-eat list.

F. Katong Antique House
Besides Mr Chew Joo Chiat's great-grandson, Mr Peter Wee is another of those who strive to keep cultures and traditions alive. At this two-story shophouse,  if you make an appointment with Mr Wee, you will get to see the Peranakan costumes, crockery and furniture put on this display by this fourth generation Baba Peranakan.

G. Food in general
From traditional pastries to modern cupcakes, this area has it all. For those who crave for durian puffs but are not willing to fork out Goodwood Hotel's prices, Puteri Mas may offer you good durian puffs at a lower price. I don't really eat cupcakes  because some places make it too sweet but if you want to check them out, Hey Cupcakes! looked pretty attractive. And a shop that sells cookies, My Lovebites has been very popular with magazines and newspapers recently. Pity we were ignored when we entered the shop, which wasn't the best way to tempt us into buying cookies. Heard it's really yummy though. 

There is so much more you could do at Katong. Don't be lured away just by the food. Do take a moment to look at your surroundings. The colourful paint splashed on the buildings, the unique Pernakan floor tiles etc. Enjoy your time in this place where shophouses still dominate and where people care enough about their roots and heritage. Some things can stay the same even when everything else changes. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

National Day: Love Songs

A series of love songs for the nation. First one's the official, second one's done by a group of young people, and last one by mrbrown! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Saboten (Parco Marina Bay)

I have heard that Saboten has one of the best tonkatsu around. So one day we decided to hop down to Saboten to see if it's true! 

Located in the rather unhappening Millenia Walk, this place was rather empty when we went at around 1230 pm although it was subsequently full. 

There was a main menu and an additional menu, featuring the items on the Ebi Katsu Fair. 

We decided to go for the Loin Katsu Set (M) ($19++) only because the picture was featured so prominently in the menu. The set came with free flow of cabbage, rice and miso soup. The rice was good Japanese rice instead of those pseudo Japanese-rice-wannabe. The cabbage was also shredded finely and alleviates the guilt of eating some deep fried stuff later on.

The fun thing is that you can add dressing to the cabbage. Dressings include sesame sauce and the orange skin sauce. That's what the waiter said anyway. I preferred the sesame sauce with the cabbage. 

Then, it's grinding sesame seeds time! Later, this will be mixed with the plum sauce, to dip the pork in there! As you grind the sesame seeds, you can smell whiff after whiff of the sesame goodness!

Here's the star of the show. It was very crispy but strangely not greasy. There is a thin layer of fats surrounding the meat and the rest of the meat is pretty chewy.

Caution: For those who do not like to eat the chewier kinds of meat, go for the tenderloin instead. I found the loin a little too hard for my liking.

Lastly, there's green tea ice cream. It tasted pretty milky with the green tea tasted relegated to the background. Not my cup of tea (or scoop of ice cream, for that matter).

If you are someone who likes crispy stuff without it being greasy, then this is for you! While the price might appear a little steep, I think it's for all the free refills. If I ever go there again, I'll go for the tenderloin instead of the loin! Friendly service with efficient refills.

Millenia Walk
Parco Marina Bay
9 Raffles Boulevard
Tel No: 6 333 3432