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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, May 31, 2014

Oscar's Cafe & Terrace (Conrad)

After my first visit here two years ago, I revisited Oscar's last week. The quality of the food was good but it seemed that the variety was lacking. 

The usual- salad bar. 

Huge slabs of sashimi were placed in the glass counters and would be cut upon your request. I requested for salmon and they cut a thick slice of the salmon which was succulent and very fresh.

If you like frozen seafood, they have scallops, prawns, mussels and crayfish for you to choose from. Surprisingly, the crayfish and prawns retained their juiciness.

There was a counter outside where you had your pick of prawn noodles, laksa, bak kut teh etc. I had such a kick out of eating this prawn noodle. Savoury but not too salty, the prawn noodles soup was balanced and the chilli raised the shiokness of the soup by one notch.

There were also stations for Indian food and Italian food. I didn't try the Indian food because nothing looked too attractive. The Italian food counter had roasted meats, pasta etc.

Desserts time! You must try the their signature Chocolate Royal Hazelnut Crust. Rich chocolate laid on a crunchy and fragrant hazelnut crust- it's a crime not to go for second servings.

On a side note, a few years back, I won a Christmas cake from Conrad for joining some competition- that was when my love-relationship began with Conrad. Sadly, I think they have stopped making the Christmas cake. Every Christmas, I still dream of the whirlwind romance I had with this dense chocolate cake laced with orange flavour.

There was also a waffle-making counter. The waffles were very dark at the bottom, suggesting that they were slightly burnt? But the lady manning the waffles counter said that they weren't. So I took it and asked for a scoop of ice cream on it. Clearly, the waffles were slightly burnt as it was bitter. Nonetheless, the ice cream made up for it, definitely serving good quality ice cream here!

There was a variety of chocolates to choose from- by then, my guilt index had shot up so much that I could no longer convince myself to take a piece of chocolate.

Ended the meal with a cup of cappuccino.

The buffet is definitely above average. At a price tag of $54++, the quality and freshness of the food justify the price, although variety can be improved. Service is also good and friendly.

Oscar's Café & Terrace 
Conrad Centennial
2 Temasek Boulevard, Lobby Level
Tel No: +65 6432 748

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mount Faber

Mount Faber was out of my radar for a long time, until someone spontaneously decided that we should go up just for the fun of it. We cheated, we drove up midway and walked the rest up. The last time I went up to Mount Faber, we took a bus, carried a few plastic bags of food from Giant (the supermarket at Vivo) and had a little picnic while enjoying the night scenery. Turns out that it is pretty interesting to walk up Mount Faber in the morning as well (sun block is a must)! 

It always seems that some kind of hill is always on my itinerary when I go overseas- most of the time it's free so why not. In Budapest, we went to Gellert Hill. In Prague, we went to Petrin Hill. In Montreal, we went to Mont Royal. In Penang, we went up Penang Hill

Mount Faber was known as Telok Blangah Hill initially but was later named after Captain Charles Edward Faber who carved a road up to the summit of the hill- these colonial references never seem to fade!  

One of my favourite childhood memories was sitting in the cable cars . I belonged to the era where they were in multiple colours- blue, green and yellow. The anxiety as you piled into the cable car before it sent you off on an aerial journey. Then it became the black ones with the transparent bottomed cabins. Then all these cable cars are now metallic black. The price is unfortunately prohibitive if you just wanted to sit in the cable car for the fun of it- $26 per person!

We walked further up and lo and behold we saw a Merlion. Many times smaller than the one at Sentosa, but still, it was an interesting encounter. Now, the question is, how many Merlion statues are there in Singapore? Officially, the answer is apparently 5- 2 at Merlion Park, 1 at Sentosa, 1 at Singapore Tourism Board and the last one at Mount Faber. That day, a tourist asked me for directions to the Merlion at Merlion Park. His exact words were, "You know, the dragon?" For the avoidance of doubt, the Merlion is a creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish.

At the peak- just suntanning and taking in the views- is there really anything better than this?

The one Singapore experience you will get out of this is seeing the places that Singaporeans live in. On one hand, there's Reflections at Keppel Bay for the rich.

On the other hand, 80+% of Singaporeans stay in public housing.

If anything, Mount Faber is a place for you to get away from all the high rise buildings in Singapore (and look at them from above instead), and just take in all the sights. Kind reminder: Water and sun block if you are going in the morning!

How to get there. I haven't tried it but you can try the Marang Trail as well. 

Tong Ah Eating House

The first time we went to Tong Ah, we tried their dinner, zichar style.

This time, we went for breakfast and it is a distinctly different feel. The hot morning air set the background for the eating experience while the server deftly carries plates of eggs, bread and coffee/tea freshly made to the tables where customers wait in anticipation for the first meal of the day.

I don't really drink coffee, so I ordered milo. I don't eat butter, so I asked for the bread without butter. In essence, I would make a person who loves the egg+bread+coffee combination shake his head wondering how much joy I would be missing out.

In any case, the bread was crispy yet fluffy in the inside. With a layer of kaya thinly spread over it, it felt just like a quintessential Singapore breakfast. Apparently they have this kaya toast known as the Grade A Kaya Toast where the bread has been toasted and re-toasted many times so that the bread is super crispy. If not, you can also ask for the steamed kaya bread.

Away from the crowded chains of air-conditioned Ya Kun, this is where you may want to find yourself on a weekend morning to enjoy a good and simple breakfast. Service might be a little slipshod when things start to get busy though.

Tong Ah Eating House 
35 Keong Saik Road
Tel No: 6 567 4000

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wheeler's Yard

The hipster quotient for this place just shot through the roof. When we first reached, one of us said, "Is this place open?" Turns out it was, just that the entrance was just round the corner. 

Situated in a factory, Wheeler's Yard sells bicycles and food- that's a combination that is probably the first in Singapore.

We went here after lunch so we decided to settle for drinks and desserts, which unfortunately fell flat of our expectations. 

We should have known since the cakes were left at one side of the counter and were not listed on the menu itself. 

The Lemon Tart here was average with the pie crust tasting like it was bought off the shelves of a supermarket. 

The Tiramisu had a proportion of lady fingers : cheese that I didn't like. For the same price, L'Atelier Tiramisu beats this hands down. The coffee taste was weak. A completely forgettable tiramisu.

Service is incredibly slow when they are operating at full capacity. Interesting place, but one visit is more than sufficient.

Wheeler's Yard
28 Lorong Ampas
Tel No: 6 254 9128 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Department of Caffeine

I'm not a caffeine person but ended up at Department of Caffeine anyway. 

On weekends, reservations are an absolutely must. Otherwise, be prepared to wait. 

I ordered a Fish Finger Sandwich ($14). This reminded me of the Fish Burger at Grub. Incredibly fluffy sandwich with a piece of deep fried (but not oily) fish in between. The texture of the fish was smooth and moist. To sum it up, this is a glam version of Fillet-O-Fish (costing several times the price of eating at Mcdonalds), but more moist, more satisfying and infinitely tastier.

I ordered a Latte ($5). Over the past few months, I have ordered coffee several times voluntarily, even though I still can't appreciate it. I have considered signing up for coffee-appreciation classes but decided that I wasn't going to allow myself to get potentially addicted to the caffeine. The smell of coffee lurking at every corner of CBD is honestly rather intoxicating. Friends tell me that sugar ruin the taste of coffee and I know lots of them who drink black coffee.

Million dollar question- what's the best way to really appreciate coffee?

Department of Caffeine
15 Duxton Road
Tel No. 6 223 3426 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Flor Patisserie (Duxton Hill)

One thing that stuck in my mind after reading Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything was how he made it his personal mission to try everything even if he didn't like it. 

I try very hard to appreciate Japanese pastries but beyond the aesthetic beauty of these desserts, I just can't find a reason for me to say "Wow, this blew my mind". Nobody goes to Le Tao in Hokkaido without being impressed by the cheesecakes- well, except me. 

So, take this review with a pinch of salt if you are into Japanese desserts. 

Located on Duxton Hill, Flor Pastesserie occupies a very small shop space.  

A whole row of cakes beckons- Earl Grey, Napoleon etc.

I tried the Chocolate Noir ($7.85) because it was a safe choice. The Chocolate Millefeuille was topped with the beautifully piped 70% Dark Chocolate. The cake was light and fluffy.

However, perhaps it was the difficulty of trying to eat all the layers at the same time or maybe I just ain't a fan of cream- whatever the case, it just didn't felt like I would come back here for a second serving of this at this price.

Flor Pastisserie (Duxton Hill)
2 Duxton Hill
Tel No: 6 223 8626