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Lake Toya, Japan

Spot of Tranquility.

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Little India, Singapore

Spices, gold and splashes of colour!

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Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay

Garden City, City in a Garden.

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Bryce Canyon, USA

Thor's Hammer

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Chocolate Test, Singapore

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

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant (Upper Dickson Road)

We went on a Little India trail and decided to visit Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant to try some Indian and vegetarian fare. It was pretty crowded during weekday lunchtime. 

We first got served some Papadum (I'm assuming it's papadum, please correct me if I'm wrong!) as appetiser, free of charge. This reminded me of my school days when classmates would order a whole plastic bag full of this from the uncle selling Indian food. This staved off some of our hunger while waiting for the food! It was such a kind gesture.

We ordered the Hyderbad Dum Briyani ($10) which is basically Hyderabadi style basmati rice with masala soya chunks. For those who are as clueless as me when it comes to Indian food, the Hyderabadi Birayni was created as a result a blending of Mughlai and Andhra Pradesh cuisines in the kitchens of the ruler of the historic Hyderabad State.

I like basmati rice because there is a kind of fragrance to it. I didn't fancy the soya chunks very much although the masala sauce went really well with the rice.

We also got a Chicken Kurma ($9) which is vegetarian chicken cooked in creamy Indian gravy. The texture was really like chicken until you got to the core when you finally realise that, hey this is actually not chicken! As with most cream dishes, the cream was tasty with the chicken initially but more than halfway through  it started getting a little gelat.

To accompany the cream sauce, I got a Plain Nann ($2). It's something that I always have to get when I go to a Indian restaurant. Not too charred, this nann was just as I liked it.

While the food might not be wonderful (but good enough for me), I recommend this place for vegetarian food. Big portions and affordable. The thing that makes this place so distinct is the extensive menu and the excellent service. The menu covers all kinds of Vegetarian food, from Indian food to Chinese food to Western food. You will be spoilt for choice, trust me.

The service was also very good. Weirdly, there's NO service charge. Sometimes, I have to pay service charge for really atrocious service yet when there's good service, I do not need to pay service charge.

Life works in mysterious ways.

Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant (Upper Dickson Road) 
19 Upper Dickson Road
Tel: 6396 7769 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuckshop Cafe

Safely tucked in an industrial building, Tuckshop is a place where you wouldn't really go to unless you knew that it existed. If you are thinking old-school tuckshop, then you can't be more wrong.

There are furniture samples in the shop. If you are interested, you could buy them or ask to get a new piece done for you.

Here's the menu for your reference, although I forgot to take another picture of the dessert menu on the flip side.

I ordered Fish and Chips ($10.90). Personally, I felt that the portions were a little small. But that might be because I'm a big eater. The fish and chips does not taste greasy and is exceptionally smooth inside. Glad they provided salad greens instead of the standard coleslaw as well. I'm not clear what batter this was and any form of enlightenment is welcome. It looks and tastes different from the normal beer battered fish though.

My friend ordered Four Cheese Sandwich ($7.80). I didn't try it but according to him, it tasted pretty good.

To round of the meal, we decided to go for an Apple Crumble ($6.90). My idea of a good apple crumble is where the inside is gooey and filled with chunky apples and yet not too sweet, and lastly topped off with lots of crumbs. This particular apple crumble (besides it being rather small) satisfied the gooey and not too sweet criteria but did not impress me with the crumbles.

Overall, this is a cool hangout place with nice music. Familiar tunes from the Beatles or Frank Sinatra were played. Friendly servers. Pity they don't serve water. Food is pretty good, except that I felt that the portions were too small.

Tuckshop Cafe 
178 Paya Lebar Road
Tel No: 97373971/6748 9308

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Victor's Kitchen

The queue stretched on for quite a bit during weekend lunch. While waiting, patrons read the various newspaper/magazine clippings plastered on the glass window. 

Be prepared to share tables because there simply is not enough space in the shop.

The Phoenix Porrdige ($4) was good for 2 to share. The consistency of the porridge was smooth.

The King Prawn with Vegetable Cheong Fun ($4) was pretty good. The thing about Victor's Kitchen is that their prawn dishes are fresh. It's not really king prawn as the name suggests though.

I didn't try the Golden Egg Yolk Lava Bun ($4) but I've heard about its fame. Indeed, the yellow custard started oozing out of the bun the moment it was peeled apart.

As mentioned earlier, the Victor's King Prawn Dumpling ($5) was one of their better dishes as the skin was thin and the prawns were big and fresh.

The Tasty Queen Size Siew Mai ($4) tasted a little more "porky" than usual but other than that, it was pretty good.

The Crispy Fried Shrimp Dumpling ($5) was served in smaller sizes than normal. I felt that it was a little over deep fried but nonetheless, crispy and again, since it's prawn, good.

This is supposed to be one of their famous dishes: Scallop, Sausage Carrot Cake with XO Sauce ($4) Honestly, this didn't strike me as being an unforgettable dish. Of those who ate this dish, most felt that there was nothing special. In fact, some thought that it tasted weird. For me, I think we are not used to its mushy consistency. The scallop and sausage also did not feature prominently in this dish.

Together with Chicken & Sausage in Glutinous Rice ($5) (which was a little too dry) and drinks, it worked out to be about $16 per person. This place deserves an award- but not for its food. Its food is average or at best, slightly above average. For this price (actually less), I could easily get something better at Dragon Phoenix (provided they have their 50% promotion). Whoever says this place is cheap is clearly mistaken. You are paying restaurant prices for non-restaurant quality, non-restaurant ambience and non-restaurant service.

This place deserves an award for Worst Service. Furthermore, we weren't provided with a receipt at the end of the meal and were just told simply to pay.

Victor's Kitchen 
Sunshine Plaza
91 Bencoolen Street
Tel: 9838 2851 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health Food

Upon seeing an extremely high rating on hungrygowhere for Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health Food, I decided to go there for dinner. Who doesn't want to feel super healthy once in a while?

Menu is extremely limited and apparently you can call them to check out what their menu for the day is. The day we went, there was Brown Rice Set, vegetarian Kuey Chap, some vegetarian wrap and Lotus Soup.

We opted for the Brown Rice Set ($5.50). It's no doubt, homely. If after chalking up 100 hours a week in office and eating a lot of junk food to make yourself feel happier, you could come here to get yourself a healthy fix. But other than that, this is not something I would pay $5.50 over if I can easily have it at home. Homely, to me, means not oily, not salty and no MSG. 

If you are thinking of having a vegetarian and healthy meal, here's an option. But I'd prefer a place which offers more variety and something more out of the box.

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health Food
8 Smith Street
Tel No: 6225 9026 

Sunday, September 16, 2012


This is a tagline that is worth believing- Amazing french roast chicken.

I seldom go to a same eatery more than once, simply because I like trying a variety of food. So, when I visit a place more than once, it really means something. And I've been here twice in the span of a week or so.

The Mushroom soup ($5.80) has tiny chunks of mushroom and a creamy texture to it. Together with the croutons, it made a slurp-worthy soup.

The Escargot De Bourgogne ($8.80) was seasoned with tomato fondue and almond garlic butter. Wait for it to cool off a little because it's very hot when served. I'm not a fan of escargots but I felt that the combination of the seasoning made it very flavourful.

Here's the star of the show. You can't go to Poulet without ordering their famous Poulet Roti ($15.80). The chicken is brined for a full day and then placed in the rotisserie for a slow roast. The Mushroom Chardonnay Sauce also complemented the chicken perfectly. The chicken has a slightly crisp skin with a sweet glaze over it. The meat tears apart easily and it's juicy. The Mushroom Chardonnay Sauce could be an overkill if you try to mop up all the sauce but as a light accompaniment, it's perfect with the little bits of mushrooms. 

This is the Tiramisu ($7.80) which I raved about to a friend because I haven't tasted decent tiramisu in ages.  Some tiramisus are too hard, some tiramisus have too cheesy a taste, some are too sweet. But this is one of the best tiramisus I have eaten in the last couple of years. It's enough for 2/3 to share. In there, it's a whole glob of mess, unlike some tiramisus which are layered nicely. But everything about this tiramisu is good- the right proportion of cream and sponge fingers, it's not too sweet, the coffee taste comes through nicely as well.

Service here is good as well. If you go in the evenings, try to go early because the queues can get pretty long. We went at 7.30 pm and ended queuing for around 45 minutes.

201 Victoria Street
Tel: 6509 9411

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trail #4: Balestier Trail

Before I embarked on the Balestier Trail, I was absolutely clueless about what was in Balestier. But a mini exploration through the roads and lanes of Balestier opened my eyes to the charms of this place- intricate carvings on preserved shophouses, tau sar piah shops, lots of shops selling lights and bathroom fittings and Bak Kut Teh shops.

For a start, Balestier Road was named after Joseph Balestier, the first American Consul to Singapore and the owner of a large sugar cane estate in the area. Other nicknames for it include Recreation Road, Or Kio ("Black Bridge" in Hokkien), Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Koai, Thannir Kampam ("water village" in Tamil) and Kebun Limau (Citrus Garden in Malay). Now, how's that for a multi racial society.

Balestier Trail 
I did a Balestier 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. Art Deco Shophouses (230 & 246 Balestier Road) 
This pair of buildings were built in the 1950s, in Art Deco style. Other buildings which are influenced by this style include the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center. Honestly, I was underwhelmed by this because I'm not a fan of architecture but those who are interested might find such buildings interesting. 

B. Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple 
"Goh Chor" is the Hokken transliteration of Rochore, the name of the surrounding area in the mid 19th century. Tua Pek Kong is a Taoist deity. One interesting feature of this temple is the wayang stage where Teochew and Hokkien operas are still performed here during important festivals.  

Even if you are not interested in visiting this place, if you are a fan of durians, THIS IS FOR YOU. I've heard of Combat Durian countless of times as it's high recommended by many people.

C. Whampoa Makan Place 
Out of the top ten hawker centres listed on ieatishootipost, this is the only one that I haven't been to before! Naturally, we had to try some of the food here. Lots of famous food at both blocks- take your pick before continuing with your journey!

D. Sim Kwong Ho Shophouses (292-312 Balestier Road)
Different shophouses have their own little charms. For these shophouses, it's the European glazed floral tiles and the various carved animals on the shophouses. These include flowers, birds and bats. Apparently, there was a centre-piece in the form of a dog but it's no longer there and people don't know where it has gone to. 

E. Balestier Point 
These are supposed to resemble "an assembly of colourful Lego bricks". It didn't really strike me as that but I thought it was pretty fascinating that somebody could have thought of such a building design- literally thinking out of the box! Each apartment has its own private terrace and garden. It received an Honourable Mention Award from the Singapore Institute of Architects in 1987.

F. Traditional Bakeries (10/12 Kim Keat Lane)
If you walk down Kim Keat Road and turn right into Kim Keat Lane, you will be greeted by this factory-looking bread shop. Next to it is a traditional bakery known as Sweetlands Confectionery. You can buy  bread and buns from the shop. Give it a try! We didn't try it because we were too full from Whampoa Makan Place. But the aunty at the shop was still very friendly. 

G. Water Kiosk (Corner of Boon Teck Road)
This is something pretty random at the corner of the road but it serves as a reminder on how small acts of kindness count. This cart used to offer water and tea to passers-by in a time where clean drinking water was not easily available. Although we read that this service continues to be provided by Thong Teck Sian Tong Lian Sin Sia, we tried opening the taps and nothing came out so I suppose it's no longer available! 

H. Maha Sasana Ramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple 
This temple was founded in 1878. It contains many Burmese influences, including woodcarvings made from Burmese teak. There are some Burmese cultural and religious artifacts displayed on the third floor. There is also a Bodhi tree in the temple grounds.

I. Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall 
This two-story villa is apparently fairly typical of Chinese bungalows in the colonial area. A beautiful place to be so take your time to walk around the compound. Click here to read more about this!

J. Tau Sar Piah stalls 
By now, you might be hungry from the walk. You can walk through this stretch where you can find Loong Fatt Eating House and Confectionery (639 Balestier Road) and House of Tau Sar Piah (529 Balestier Road). If you are looking for a vegetarian option, go for House of Tau Sar Piah! Don't go too late though because they run out of flavours!

One thing that really struck me during this trail is that we should really take the time to note our surroundings and not wait for things to be torn down before we start flocking to look at the buildings. Live in the moment and appreciate the little things in your life, no matter how trivial they may be! 

Eng's Noodles House

The one thing that people never fail to talk about when mentioning Eng's Noodles House, is its super fiery, super scary and super shiok chilli sauce. More about that later. I never had the chance to try this stall when it was at Dunman Road Hawker Centre but I'm not complaining since I don't need to queue after it has moved. 

The shop was completely packed at dinner. It's not air-conditioned but the ventilation is pretty okay. 

Here's the chilli sauce I was talking about. At least they have it in bottles. Normally, when you queue up for food, the aunty or uncle just asks, "Want chilli?" and a generous portion of chilli goes into it. Had this system been in place here, there would be no trace of doubt that I would be making many toilet trips. They are even kind enough to put a sticker on the bottle. I have a pretty okay tolerance for chilli but a squirt of this was enough to let me taste the prowess of this deceptively plain chilli sauce. 

The Wonton Noodles ($4) was served pretty quickly. $4 is a good price to pay for the amount of food as they don't skimp on the ingredients. The char siew is not dry, which is the case in many other stalls. I'm not a fan of eggy noodles although I've to say its texture is good and springy. The bite-sized wontons hidden snugly at the bottom of the bowl were flavourful and went well with the sauce.

The service was good and fast and the lady who served us was friendly. Try not to takeaway the food and eat it on the spot!

Eng's Noodles House
287 Tanjong Katong Road
Tel No: 8688 2727 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ice Cream Gallery (Tanjong Katong)

Girls always have a secret compartment in their stomachs for dessert, no matter how full they may be. 

We headed to Ice Cream Gallery since they hung a large banner outside the shop claiming that they were the winner of an ice cream showdown. We read the Straits Times article stuck on the glass panels which stated, "The white, pulpy flesh of the prickly green fruit is usually more sweet than is sour." Somehow, I speed read through it and actually assumed it was referring to durian, instead of soursop. 

Only one table was occupied when we first entered but it slowly filled up till there were no more seats.  

We got a double scoop ($5.50 + $1 for Mao Shan Wang flavour). After a while, all the famous ice cream shops seem to be rather uniform- generally good ice cream flavours with a good mix of local flavour (durian, soursop etc.) The range of ice cream here seems to be more limited though. The Belgian Chocolate ice cream was good although the Mao Shan Wang was a tad too sweet. 

All things being equal, I would encourage you to visit Tom's Palette instead, simply because it's more flexible by allowing you to have two flavours for one small cup ($3.20) plus student discounts are available throughout the day. 

Service was below-average to average- cashier looked like she wasn't interested and the girl who scooped the ice cream looked rather impatient. There's another ice cream shop just a few shops down and I might try it another time.

Ice Cream Gallery
242C Tanjong Katong Road
Tel No: 6348 6535 

Saizeriya Ristorante E Caffe (Liang Court)

Saizeriya was a place I wanted to try because it has supposedly super cheap food. But ever heard of the Singlish adage, Good things no cheap, cheap things no good? 

The Seafood Pizza ($7.90) had an utter lack of tomato base. It was just a thin layer of tomato sauce spread over the pizza. That reminded me of a frozen pizza base which is thawed and then sprinkled with random seafood. To be fair, however, the seafood was fresh.

Service was efficient and you had to press a bell at your table to call for their attention. Water is provided at the side of the restaurant at no costs. This is a good option for those who want a fairly decent meal but don't wish to pay too much for it. Basically, you get what you pay for. 

Saizeriya Ristorante E Caffe (Liang Court)
Liang Court Shopping Centre
177 River Valley Road
Tel No: 6 337 9001 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall 孙中山南洋纪念馆

Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall is a place you probably won't go unless you have either finished touring the rest of the more touristy attractions in Singapore and no longer have places to visit (is that even possible?) or you are particularly interested in the stories of Sun Yat Sen. 

Located in a serene premise, the villa is believed to be built by a businessman to house his mistress (debunked by the Asia Paranormal Investigators) and later used as headquarters for Sun Yat Sen's revolutionary activities to overthrow the Qing Dynasty. During the Japanese occupation, the villa was used as a communications hub by the Japanese. It was gazetted as a national monument in 1994 and reopened recently (October 2011) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution.

The memorial hall is very well maintained and there are two stories of exhibitions. On the day we went, there was an activity held for children, where the children were introduced to history in a fun and interactive manner (albeit with screaming and some running around).

The manner of the exhibition is diverse. It includes a collection of paintings, calligraphy works, a bronze mural depicting Singapore's history from the 1840s to the 1940s and videos explaining Sun Yat Sen's revolutionary work. Most of the exhibits are in English and Chinese.

When we visited, there was a temporary exhibition titled: The Nanyang Journey: Inspiring Generations of Esteemed Ladies. This is in line with Nanyang Girls' High School's 95th Anniversary. The founders of the school had played a significant role in the 1911 Revolution and old Nanyang girls told their stories in the videos. Please check here for current exhibitions.

I think this is one of the museums in Singapore that is easily overlooked because 1) it is not in town area 2) it has an extremely specialised theme. Despite this, I think that exhibition at the Memorial Hall was very informative and will be interesting for those who have vaguely heard about Sun Yat Sen, who are interested about Chinese history or who would like to see a different kind of museum.

Please click here for admission charges and availability of guided tours.

Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall 
12 Tai Gin Road
Singapore 327874
Opening Hours: 10 am to 5pm
Tuesday to Sunday (Closed on Monday)