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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, 2018

In an Instant: Polaroid At the Intersection of Art and Technology

I recently met up with a good friend whose boyfriend was very into polaroids. I always had the impression that polaroids were the same as instaxes but had this misconception roundly thrown into the bin. He showed us his polaroid cameras (and how to use them) and they were fascinating.

To learn more about polaroids, we headed to the National Museum. It costs $12.50 for adults (Singapore citizens and PRs)- more price categories available at the link above.

1. Edwin Land- Scientist, Inventor, Visionary

The first part of the exhibition introduced Edwin Land, an American scientist and inventor, who is best known as the co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation.

As to how the Polaroid came about, the story goes that he was on vacation with his family in Santa Fe, when he took along his camera to take a few pictures. His 3-year-old daughter asked, "Why can't I see the picture now?" And that was the inspiration behind Land's invention.

You would also come across the Polaroid Cinema: The Fishbowl Experiment.

When you first enter the room, you will see that the screen is white. However, once you put on a pair of Polaroid sunglasses, the images on the screen magically appear. The Fishbowl is a short movie about how Edwin Land fine tunes his invention, the polarizing filter.

2. Polaroid: Art and Technology at Play

Besides exhibiting a range of Polaroid cameras (and some prototypes as well), you will also get to see Polaroid artworks produced during the height of the Polaroid's popularity.

3. The New Instant

The last part of the exhibition is where the curator tries to tie in the Polaroid theme with something relatable- that of the experience of Singapore social influencers navigating through this digital world of instant feeds, uploads and hashtags.

Thoughts about the exhibition 

While the premise of the exhibition is interesting, I felt that it did not live up to its full potential. Granted that there were polaroids taken by superstars like Andy Warhol, I didn't feel like I got much information out of most of the polaroids.

While the last part of the exhibition involves interviews with social influencers, I felt that the link was rather tenuous. Yes, I see the link between the two- the instantaneous factor. But I wished the interviews could be with people who had a closer connection to Polaroids.

At the end of the exhibition, you can go into a photobooth where you get to take pictures with Polaroid sunglasses and send these pictures to your email. You can also get a physical picture taken at a token sum. If you are interested in the Polaroid eyewear or wish to buy a book about Polaroids, they are also available at the museum shop.

In an Instant: Polaroid at the Intersection of Art and Technology 
National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Road
Singapore 178897 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Garlic bread

I love garlic bread. In fact, sometimes I order soup and get excited waiting for the bread.

I have tried plenty of bad / average garlic bread and a few good ones. The worst garlic breads are definitely those that use garlic spread. I am guilty of buying a bottle of garlic spread and that was a bad mistake- threw it away and resolved never to buy another bottle of garlic spread.

I recently tried a recipe from Ina Garten of Food Network and it's definitely a keeper.

Credit: Food Network

- 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


1. Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F.

2. Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until minced. Add the parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse twice.

3. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan and add the garlic mixture. Remove the pan from the heat.

4. Slice the ciabatta bread in half horizontally, and spread the butter on 1 half. Spread the garlic mixture on the other half of the bread, and put the halves together. Wrap the bread in aluminium foil.

5. Place the bread in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Open the foil and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes.

Comments about Recipe 
- I did not add fresh oregano leaves as the supermarket didn't sell them. It still worked well though.
- 1/2 cup olive oil seems a tad too much and you may want to reduce it slightly.
- I replaced the ciabatta bread with French baguette because the bakery didn't sell ciabatta.
- Instead of using a food processor, I used manual labour (i.e. hand and arm strength) to mince the ingredients. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ding Tele 鼎特乐

We visited Ding Tele 鼎特乐 when it first opened and have been back numerous times ever since. There can be a quite a queue on weekends so do come early. There is not much ambience to speak of in the restaurant and the tables are closely packed together. But it is definitely worth a trip. 

We started off with the Appetising Platter ($9) where you could choose 4 side dishes. We went for the Original Shanghainese Drunken Chicken Wing, Coriander with Bean Products, Wheat Gluten and Shiitake Mushrooms and Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs. This is probably good for 2-3 people to share. While these dishes were decent, they were nothing to shout about.

Ordering the Signature Steamed Pork & Soup Bun ($5.40) is always a no brainer. We saw a table of 4 have at least 6 of these bamboo baskets stacked up. It is difficult not to compare these to the benchmark of Din Tai Fung and these little dumplings certainly hold their own weight.

I find that the Signature Pan-Fried Crispy Pork Soup Buns ($5.40 for 4 pieces) are one of the best, if not, the best in Singapore. They are so good that I can't resist sinking my teeth into these little goodies once they arrive at our table, despite knowing that they will probably burn my tongue if I don't exercise some patience.

Five out of five times, I burn my tongue, each time knowing that this is the consequence of greed. Besides the fact that the soup inside the buns is incredibly hot, there is a lot of soup in each bun- be careful not to spill the soup on yourself. What I like about these soup buns is how they manage to be chewy at the top and crispy at the bottom, with generous pork fillings and soup, all at the same time. The soup is a little too salty for my liking, but it does not negate how delicious these pork buns are. We could each easily eat 3 pork buns each, even with other dishes.

We rounded off the meal with Crispy Rice Dumpling with Red Bean Paste ($4). After the fantastic sheng jian baos, these were again, decent but nothing extraordinary.

Value for money, and definitely come here for the sheng jian baos.

Ding Tele 
949 Upper Serangoon Road
Singapore 534713
Tel No: 6282 4380 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mui Kee Congee

We thought that the infamous queues at Mui Kee would have cleared by 8+ pm on a rainy day. However, we could not have misjudged the situation more, as there were still around 10 people ahead of us when we reached the restaurant. Thank goodness, the turnover was quite fast and we got a table within 15-20 minutes. 

Mui Kee was bustling on a Saturday evening despite the rain. It started off in Hong Kong in 1979 and the shop today is helmed by the founder's grandson. The seating was a little tight and many had to share tables, but I guess it's better than waiting outside for a seat.

I went for the basic Homemade Pork Meatballs Congee ($9.80). Raw rice grains are mixed with century eggs, and pork and fish stocks added thereafter. I enjoyed the smooth and clean porridge. There was a generous portion of meatballs in the porridge as well. We shared some very crispy Youtiao (Dough fritter) ($2) to go along with the porridge. While the porridge was served quickly, the youtiao took some time to come as they were probably prepared in batches.

We also ordered the Fried Bean Curd Skin ($6), which was crispy on the outside and had distinct layers of bean curd skin within, accompanied by a mayo dip.

To end off the meal, we shared a Soursop & Passionfruit Shaved Ice ($5). This was certainly enough for 2 to share, and could even be shared by 3 for the smaller eaters. This was certainly worth it, compared to Korean bingsu which always charged an arm and a leg. It was a refreshing and cooling end to the otherwise piping hot meal.

Service was prompt and friendly. I recommend this place as it is value for money and serves good food. The only thing that would prevent me from coming back frequently is the time spent waiting to get a seat in the restaurant.

Mui Kee Congee 
Shaw Centre
1 Scotts Road
Tel No: 6737 2422 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

W Singapore Sentosa Cove

Every time I receive a wedding invitation from friends who are throwing a banquet at W Hotel, a part of me is reluctant due to the hefty angbao that I have to give, yet another part of me looks forward to the scrumptious food at the banquet. 

This time, thanks to my husband, we managed to get a one night free stay at W Singapore Sentosa Cove

1. Location

Honestly, unless you intend to hang out at Sentosa all the time, I wouldn't see why anyone would choose to stay at W Hotel, because it is far from the main attractions and even within Sentosa, it is rather far in. A taxi ride (without all the surcharge and all) to Vivo City costs around $7. 

2. Hotel 

The hotel exudes a hip and funky vibe, and this extends from the lobby to the rooms to the pool.

3. Room 

The room was spacious and trendy. At the bedside, there were several switches with different labels, one of which stated "Flirt"- if you switched that on, pinkish purple / purplish pink (whatever) lights would switch on.

We also enjoyed good views of the quay and the private yachts docked there- one can only imagine the lives of people who live at Sentosa Cove!

Very comfortable bed, such that my husband could not wake up the next morning and said that the bed simply sucked him in. The pillows were a little too soft for my liking- I had the option of choosing my pillow (there is a pillow menu) but I was too lazy to request for harder pillows.

4. Toilet 

There is a bathtub in the toilet. The panes could slide so that one could see the room from the toilet (and vice versa). Not sure why anyone slide the panes open though because you would almost certainly catch a cold.

There was a bottle of Evian in the toilet and it costs $5, so unless you really like Evian and don't mind splurging on it (in the toilet), by all means. Otherwise, you can drink the complimentary bottles of water in the room.

I loved these packaging which were simply shouting- "I'm too cool for you!" Even the colour of the toothbrush was neon, consistent with the vibe of the hotel.

Strong water pressure. The only issue I had was that I didn't want to use the rain shower, yet quite a bit of water continued to spray from the rain shower despite me using the handheld showerhead.

One could really fall in love with the citrusy bath products from Bliss. I love citrus bath products because they instantly make me feel fresher!

5. Breakfast 

I am glad I managed to wake my husband up, threatening him that if he didn't wake up, there will be no more food for him at breakfast. We ended up spending more than an hour at The Kitchen Table.

There were two sections- one offered Western food (think baked goods, cereal etc.) and the other side had Indian food, Chinese food, etc.

We started off with some baked goods and were mindful not to stuff ourselves with too much food in the beginning just in case we couldn't try the other food offered.

The pancakes were ridiculously cute- look at the smiley face, how can anyone resist those beautiful pancakes! That said, they weren't the most delicious pancakes around- a little too buttery for my liking. 

There was Christmas-coloured bread, a variety of jams and spreads, cereal etc. I liked the fact that there was soya milk offered as well, although it was a little salty.

At the other section, there was a small selection of smoked salmon, ham, cheese etc., and an egg station. Then, there are your usual suspects- mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, bacon etc. There was also Indian food, fruits and desserts. The desserts selection was quite small (and wasn't great) but I guess you shouldn't be eating too much dessert for breakfast anyway!

There was a Chinese food station, with porridge, dim sum, and assorted noodles cooked on the spot. One thing I didn't understand was why the dim sum wasn't available for all to take but had to be served by the chef.

We were so full after breakfast that we skipped lunch. 

The food at the buffet was more than sufficient and decent. The only issue was that it seemed like it was really crowded, and people had to wait to get their breakfast fix. Hint: The early bird gets the worm! 

6. Amenities 

To aid in the digestion of our heavy breakfast, we walked around the compound and visited the swimming pool. The swimming pool was rather big and lots of families were enjoying the pool facilities.  

We also visited the gym which was surprisingly empty. It was either because people who stay at W Hotel do not visit the gym (because they are at Sentosa) or because they are all stuck at breakfast!

It looked like a well-equipped gym.

7. Service

Service was pleasant and one felt like the hotel really wanted to go the extra mile. In the afternoon when we were just lazing around, a staff knocked on the door and offered us a box of chocolates- it was a nice mid-day surprise! Another staff came back later in the day and asked if we required any more water or shower products, which was a nice touch. I especially liked the fact that the room had 6 bottles of water- enough to keep you hydrated all day long.

8. Getting around 

Besides your usual suspects like taxi, one option getting around is to take the shuttle bus to and from Vivo City. Timings and routes available here. You would see that the frequency isn't great. For example, there is one shuttle bus at 5:30 pm and the next is 2 hours later. There is also the option of taking Sentosa Bus B.

W Singapore Sentosa Cove 
21 Ocean Way
Sentosa Island
Singapore 098374 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Clifford Pier

More than a decade ago, whenever I took a bus to have lunch with my mother in the CBD, the bus used to stop near Clifford Pier. The Clifford Pier today, is a far cry from the Clifford Pier back then. 

Clifford Pier was built between 1927 and 1933 and was named after Sir Hugh Clifford, the former Governor of the Straits Settlements. It was a landing point for immigrants and other sea passengers. With the construction of the Marina Barrage, the Clifford Pier ceased operations on 1 April 2006. 

For my birthday celebration, we decided to try their Singapore Heritage Afternoon Tea.  From Monday to Friday, the high tea is between 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm, whereas on weekends and public holidays, the high tea is between 3 pm to 5 pm. 

Gorgeous setting, with high ceilings and colour tones alluding to the place's nautical origins. 

The Singapore Heritage Afternoon Tea ($48++ per adult on weekdays and $55++ per adult on weekends and public holidays), consists of one tea tray of sweet items, a buffet of savoury items and free flow of coffee / tea. The tea was from TWG.

It was interesting to observe the demographic of the people having tea here. They were either a group of well-dressed women (with a couple of groups organising hen parties for the brides-to-be), or reluctant men being dragged here by their girlfriends / wives. Women's money is always easier to earn! It followed that, a lot of the sweet items were left untouched by the women who of course were concerned with their waistlines.

The afternoon tea is not your usual Western high tea, but instead seeks to represent Singapore's culinary past and present. For the sweet items, there were Pandan Swiss Roll, Bandung Macaron, Honey and Mango Financier, Soft Centered Coconut Chocolate Cake, Mini Kopi & Almond Butter Buns, Bika Ambon, and Plain Scone with Jam.

Having the Pandan Swiss Roll and the Bika Ambon was like making a trip to Bengawan Solo, and the Mini Kopi & Almond Butter Buns were like those from local bread shops- the thought that popped up in my head was, why am I paying so much for food that I could buy from Bengawan Solo? Honestly, I could not tell much difference in terms of the taste. While decent, nothing in particular stood out.

There were also Plain Scone and Tropical Fruit Scone, which came with Passion Fruit and Mango Jam and Homemade Kaya. I am a sucker for scones and these suited me well. I especially liked the passion fruit and mango jam which was tart and gave a nice lift to the scones. My husband, however, found these little darlings not buttery enough.

Onto the savouries, there was a pretty interesting selection- more interesting than the sweets. There was the Chilli Bak Kwa Jam on Savory Egg Tart. While this was an interesting pairing, I did not particularly fancy the savoury egg tart, which tasted somewhat like egg quiche.

Deep fried food are always crowd pleasers, and here they have Calamari Ring (with a wasabi mayo dip) and Jalapeno Cheese.

These were the Cruffin with Masala Potato and Curry Leaves as well as Prawn Fritter. The cruffin was essentially a mini curry puff.

Other food items to look out for include the Chilli Crab Bao, which were mini mantous accompanied with Chilli Crab sauce. The Carrot Cake with X.O. Chilli and Scrambled Egg was so fragrant and delicious, we repeatedly topped up our plates with these . We did not have enough space for the Kurobota Pork Kong Bak Bao, but I think this is something certainly worth trying.

There was also a small salad section, which was pretty decent- seafood salad and smoked duck salad.

For drinks, there was a choice of soya bean milk or bandung, with sago, chinchow etc on the side. I particularly liked the soya bean milk as it did not have an artificial taste and was not too sweet.

There were also live stations dishing out food on the spot. There was one serving Kueh Pie Tee and Popiah- definitely get the Kueh Pie Tee as it is topped with crab meat. There was another station serving Prata and Roti Jala Wrap, accompanied with Nonya Chicken Curry. While the prata was not the most inspiring, the chicken curry is worth trying. There is also a station for making your own rojak and there was a wide variety of ingredients (apple, starfruit, jambu, guava, pineapple etc.) you could choose from.

There is definitely enough food at this high tea to fill you up. In fact, I was so full, I skipped dinner. However, I felt like I was paying more for the ambience than for the food. The food was decent, but I felt as though I could get more bang for my buck at a hotel's buffet instead. That said, this is still a decent choice for an afternoon tea.

Tip: Make your reservations a few weeks in advance (especially if you want to come by on a weekend), because the seats here fill up very quickly. We had to book 3 weeks in advance. Also, do ask about the available credit card discounts- there was a 15% discount for certain credit cards.

The Clifford Pier
The Fullerton Bay Hotel
80 Collyer Quay
Tel No: 6333 8388 

Friday, October 19, 2018

oHacorte Bakery (Okinawa)

Rated #1 bakery in Naha, pictures of oHacorte's fruit tarts lured me to the shop on Saturday at 9 a.m. 

The cafe was full and we had to put our names on the reservation list. However, it took barely a few minutes before we were brought to our seats. It had a very comfortable and relaxing ambience- perfect for lazing the day away. 

We didn't realise initially but later found out that their shop occupied several levels, each with a different concept. It was slightly disappointing that the fruit tart section did not open until 10:30 a.m. On the first floor, you could buy fresh produce, interesting wares such as biodegradable camping utensils, fresh bread from their bakery or you could simply enjoy the food in the cafe.

We ordered three pieces of their baked goods for breakfast the following day. Surprisingly enough, they all remained soft and fluffy!

I ordered the Deli Plate (1,150 yen). You can choose one soup and two delis. The choice of soup included pumpkin cream soup, minestrone and shrimp prawns bisque. The deli choices included german potato of herb sausage & yuzu pepper, garlic shrimp, cajun chicken, marinated mushroom etc.

I went for shrimp prawns bisque, accompanied by the german potato of herb sausage & yuzu pepper, as well as the cajun chicken. Our food took a long time to come and I was excited when it finally arrived. Alas, this excitement was not for long. The cajun chicken was served cold- if my food takes so long to come, I would have thought it was because they were cooking the food such that my food would come out piping hot. The german potato of herb sausage was neither here nor there- the amount of sausage was pathetic with absolutely no hint of yuzu pepper. The egg quiche was also served cold- are they lacking fire or heat in the kitchen? The shrimp bisque was also pedestrian. The only saving grace was the bread.

I would certainly recommend this place for their baked goods, but not so much for the meals. A pity we didn't get to try their famous fruit tarts! Also note that they have a policy that everyone at the table orders something from the menu.

oHacorte Bakery 
1-4-10 Izumisaki
1F Kina Bldg
Naha, Okinawa 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hotel Pesquera (Okinawa)

1. Location 

The location of the hotel is good. It is around a 15 minutes taxi ride to the airport (which will cost anywhere between 1200 yen to 1500 yen). While it is not right smack in the shopping district of Kokusaidori, it is around a 15-20 minutes walk. It is also around a 5 minutes walk to MaxValu (a supermarket) and a 7 minutes walk to Fukushu-en Garden (rated #5 on Tripadvisor but I didn't feel that it deserved such a high ranking). 

No parking is available on site and we parked overnight at a nearby carpark (within 1-2 minutes walk). 

2. Room

As long as you do not expect a 5* hotel room, this hotel should suffice for your basic needs. For around US$100 a night, this is probably as good as it gets. It is clean and the beds are comfortable.  Bedroom slippers are provided and you are instructed not to walk around the hotel room in your own shoes or you will have to pay. 

There are very limited channels on the TV and no international programmes are available.

3) Toilet 

The toilet bowl is located separately from the sink and bathtub. The toilet smelt a little weird probably due to the lack of ventilation.

Bath products such as shampoo and body wash are available. Temperature of the water was a little difficult to grasp.

Washing machine and dryer are available.

4) Service 

There is a small reception where there is one person who helps to check in. The reception is not manned 24 hours and you would therefore have to inform them in advance of your check in time. Depending on who is manning the counter, you may encounter someone who is fluent in English or someone who simply cannot speak English. The first night we encountered someone who spoke minimal English and decided to leave our questions for the next day, when a girl at the reception answered our questions fluently in English. 

Hotel Pesquera 
2-4-13 Wakasa
Naha 900-0031