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Last of 2014

As I enter into the last week of 2014 and start reflecting what had happened in the past 360 odd days, I can't help but feel temporarily overwhelmed by how quickly the year has past.  I thought it would be good to remember what I had taken away from the year and pen them down.  So many events had come and past, and everything had become blur. What I could remember to pen would somewhat be the more significant events amongst all, wouldn't they?  Here goes:




Jan/Feb 2014 - busy with last minute arrangements for the wedding. So many iterations of our wedding invitation cards!




28 Feb - frantically still trying to decorate the church halls, and then the dinner seating arrangements. Slept past 1am :(




1 March 2014 - the day I got married to my better half. I feel extremely blessed to be able to have so many of my friends and family come together to celebrate my new life milestone. Marriage has also definitely changed my life. Not so much physically as we saw each other practically ev…

Kondo Tempra, Tokyo

I wanted the Man to try an authentic tempura restaurant when we were in Tokyo and after some research, I decided on Kondo Tempra located in Ginza.
As Lunch was more within our budget so we went for the two sets available.  He opted for the more expensive set, which had an extra vegetable and also a kakiage with the rice.  Tea is included in the set and free flow of grated daikon to be eaten with the tempura or mixed with the sauce.
Without further ado and going into the details, we enjoyed the meal a lot, though I have to admit I don't believe the Man quite get the hype even after the meal.  
The tempura had a common denominator - a thin batter, crispy on the outside, yet tender on the insides.  The vegetables were fresh and of the highest quality I would guess as they had good flavour and possessed a natural sweetness. The fish were freshly prepared (gutted and split in front of us). His two assistants prepared the ingredients and passed them on to the master Kondo-san.  With …

Cappadocia, Land of beautiful horses

Just back from a recent trip to Cappadocia, Turkey, and I would like to pen down a few thoughts for anyone considering to visit this region. 
1) you must try the hotair balloon. If you have to scrimp and save up for this activity, do it. We booked our ride through our innkeeper and the balloon company is "Turkiye". It was €140 per person by cash and €10 more for credit card payment. 
Typically the trip would start with balloon company picking you up at your hotel around 5:15am, bringing you to their office for a simple breakfast and making payments. Then you are transported to the site where the balloon is being set up. 
You will get to see how the skilled staff would raise the balloon up. 

The ride goes for 1 hour in the air. The basket can take up to 24 people (!) and the guide will transport you up very high (we went up to 1800m) and very low, hanging near the valleys. 
The sunrise will change the skies throughout the flight. Many other balloons in the air will make a po…

35 Steps Bistro

A small izakaya near Shibuya was recommended by Tripadvisor. Since we would be in the area and needed dinner, we decided to ask our hotel concierge to make us a reservation.  It was off the main streets and relatively quiet but safe nonetheless.
Walking down 35 steps, we reached the entrance of the restaurant.  Do note that you have to take off our shoes before heading into the restaurant proper. 
Service was boisterous and friendly.  There was an English menu and we ordered from it. There weren't a lot of food but we could easily pick out a few dishes that would fill our tummies. 
Most of the dishes were quite good, more standing were the grilled shimesaba seared at your table and the tuna tartar with garlic butter toast. They were so good the Man kept trying to guess what was in the seasonings.  

The only "off" item was the tofu with honey. We found the honey to be overpowering and dominated all the flavors. We didn't order the house salad, but it was served to us anyw…

Double Celebrations at The Chop House

So my mom and brother share the same birthday (thanks to c-sect) and we went to The Chop House at Vivocity on request of the mother's craving for steak. 
The restaurant was pretty empty on Sunday lunch time but that was good for we were a rowdy table of 7 with all sorta of requests. 
The mussels we ordered were fresh but unfortunately the wine sauce tasted pretty watered down with not much flavor and just extremely salty. 
The calamari was ok. It had a light coating of mealy batter. Not my favorite way of preparation.  

The grandma had a pork patty burger served with gherkins and tater tots. I didn't taste it but it looked a little dry but easily rectified with their beetroot chutney and caramelized onion jam (no pictures but please eat them! SO GOOD!)

Mom's Australian ribeye (200g) that was cooked to a perfect medium. 


I loved Dad's order of braised beef short ribs ($42/ serves 2). Extra points for already deboning the meat and there were 3 generous rib portions. As expecte…

Tsukiji, I'll miss you when you are gone

Does anyone know the peripheral market will move alongside with the fish auction market? It will be too sad and so weird to visit Tokyo without the ubiquitous Tsukiji pitstop. 
Though many times for me to Tokyo and Tsukiji, this marked the first trip with the Man and I still managed to try a couple of new food stalls. 
First up, a maguro dealer which was totally a random find. You see, it is not a proper food stall per se, more like a maguro seller. But we chanced upon a man receiving a bowl similar to the picture below, with various cuts of tuna freshly sliced from a bigger piece. It was kinda funny how we saw the bowl, looked at each other and then with a knowing look, I asked the maguro seller "kore wa, ikura desuka?" ("how much was that bowl?"). 
¥1000 sealed the deal :)
It was a small bowl of sushi rice, topped with a sprinkle of toasted sesame and crispy nori. Then, the man proceeded to slice our tuna. There was generous portions of sliced tuna, akami and chutoro…

Recipe: Pidan Tofu

I'm slightly embarrassed to be calling this a recipe actually. To be more accurate, it's putting a few ingredients together but here goes the "recipe" for a popular cold dish in Taiwan. 
Ingredients : 2 century eggs, peeled and rough chopped and set aside 1-2 stalks spring onions, chopped finely 1 box of silken tofu (300 grams)
Sauce: 3 tablespoons premium oyster sauce 1 teaspoon sesame oil 2-3teaspoons water
First you prepare all the ingredients that needs to be chopped, peeled etc. I try to get the century eggs with a more molten yolk. 
Then you prepare the sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients together. Start with 2 teaspoons of water and add more if you prefer a more watery/less salty sauce. 
Finally, you assemble. 
First, remove tofu from the packaging, onto a serving dish. I like to slice the tofu into 4 so as to allow the dressing to seep through later. 
Scoop the egg over the tops of the tofu and drizzle all the sauce over everything. You can chill the dish in the fri…

Uoshins @ Shibuya Tokyo

Uoshins is a chain of izakaya in Tokyo that is apparently quite popular. The Shibuya location is just a little off the main junction and on a smaller side street.  It is a small place, seating about 12-14 at the counters and another 16-20 at the tables. Even on a workday, the restaurant was fully packed. I had the hotel make a reservation for me on the same day and was given a 8pm slot.
We were greeted with huge heavy rain that evening but that didn't seem to have deterred any of the hungry diners as we entered into a full bustling izakaya.  
The regular menu is on the table but it's very limited because most of their dishes are seasonal and handwritten on a separate sheet of paper.   I could not understand all the menu items so after deciding that I wanted the sashimi platter and a grilled fish (I asked for saba because the Man would not eat bony fishes i.e. sanma), I had to ask the server for some other recommendations. To the best of his English speaking abilities, he reco…

Great Value at Hanare

Efforts to try and secure dinner reservations at Teppei had been futile so far and I have since given up.  I figured from a few friends' reviews that Teppei's omakase is simply super value for money and great fun with Teppei-san's personality. But food wise, nothing too spectacular. 
But I wanted to try the chirashi-don though and was glad when Hanare came about because the most instagrammed (in my view :) chirashi-don now could be had without a queue!
The chirashi was brimming to the top with fresh mixed sashimi. I loved that there were loads of my favourite hamachi and salmon belly. But what I didn't like was the chopped spring onions that were too sharp in flavour and killed the taste buds for tasting the fish properly.  Additionally, the rice that night was a little gummy and not seasoned sufficiently (i.e. tasted like gummy, white rice). The only advantage to that is that I didn't need to stop myself from devouring all the rice :).  But the bottle of tasty fu…

Wishing it was different - Sunday Market

I loved that the cafés are sprouting out in suburban neighborhoods and Sunday Market is right near my parents place and near church. Gives us another option to hang. 


But unfortunately, the food and drinks failed to impress so far. 


I don't want to be so quick to judge but I guess that really awful coffee that reminded me of soap just killed it for me.  The Man enjoyed the red velvet cake thoroughly. It was huge but more importantly, moist and quite unique with layer of chocolate in between the cake, lending another dimension of texture and taste.







We also got a salad which was average.  The Man also tried the chicken waffle in an earlier visit and commented the combination was good in theory but poorly executed as the dish was dry and the waffle quickly went soft and tough.




I won't likely return on my own accord but will give it another go if someone suggests to meet up here.


Sunday Market
22 Lim Tua Tow Road
Singapore 547772
Open everyday

Tolido's Espresso Nook

It has been too long since I last caught up with ex-colleague J. She loves checking out new cafés as well so we both went to Tolido's espresso nook for the first time. 
Great to listen to her recent stories from travels to Iceland and other parts of Europe. And she is doing so well as well work-wise. So happy for her!
On the cafe...Coffee was great; my latte was quite creamy despite having the skinny version and the coffee was quite flavorful with a hint of chocolate. An easy drink for non classic coffee drinkers but could be a little too milky for those who generally like the piccolo latte. A double shot might do the trick though. 

J had their specialty 'salted caramel latte' that she proclaimed delicious as well. 
On food, the menu is small but ample. Prices are pretty decent / some low in comparison to other cafés but don't expect frills. 
For some odd reason, I wanted and so ordered a waffle. It looked plain and rather heavy at first sight. After taking a bite, I realiz…

Ikki Izakaya Bar at the Metropolis

The Man has been working on a new project via the form of a Japanese casual bar and restaurant called IKKI.

IKKI is located at the newish office building, The Metropolis, just right at the doorstep of Buona Vista MRT.  On weekdays, lunch is mainly serving sets  of Japanese staple food, fit for the hungry office crowd. Come evening time, the bar stools are set up outside for smokers and the food menu also gets more extensive, serving not just a range of dons but also loads of small dishes and grilled sticks,izakaya style, good for sharing and drinking.

They have a few signature items like the Ikki Maki (seared salmon belly, cream cheese, ebiko, special sauce anyone?) and some of the Man's other favorites are the yakitori sticks with mentaiko sauce, stewed pork belly with leeks, barachirashi and cold udon.
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Additionally, a different live band plays every weekday night, so overall quite a relax and chill feel. As this part of SG is just so quiet on weekday nights and weekends, it …

Lessons from little girls

D and I were in church yesterday and shared a table with two girls, one primary 3 and the other primary 4. They were given a bunch of confectionary and snacks from a prior birthday celebration and talking between themselves about stuff.



At some point, they were struggling with opening a package of Oreo cookies and I offered to do so for them. I said, "Come let auntie help you open that."


Said Pri 3 girl gave me a bewildered look, replying, "Huh, you mean you are married??"  (So now you know how a Pri 3 person defines "Auntie".  Hahhaa. So tickled!)


I replied, "Yes, I am and this is my husband (pointing to D beside me)." The girls stared at each other, giving the disbelieving look.  I was starting to feel flattered. LOL.


The girls started to dunk their Oreos into a cup of milk.  After a little while, Pri 3 girl started whispering something to Pri 4 girl and obviously talking about me as she kept stealing glances over my side. I wanted to contin…

Catching up at Sushi Kuu

One of the newer ("new" is all relative eh) sushi places that I tried is Sushi Kuu at Palai Renaissance. Both times I had the kaisen chirashi. I wanted to try something else but I don't think I could find something else that I would have probably enjoyed more. The lunch set comes with udon soup and dessert as well, making it a better deal. But then again, the chirashi is already so satisfying on its own I didn't really need anything else. I made a mental note to bring the Man to try the beef don. It looked darn good!
I like that Sushi Kuu offers a good variety of main staples; lots of options for the fuss-free eating.  It is a little notch pricier but the quality is pretty decent. Just another option if you do like your Japanese food :)

Shinji with the Man

It seems that once upon a time, I had been so eager to try out as many new restaurants or cafes as possible. It made me feel so "happening". Alas, with age, and maturity, I know that is silly. Besides, I can no longer eat all I want. My stomach seems to have shrunk and I put on weight more easily if I don't make an effort to work out or watch my diet. Most importantly though, with ongoing major milestones in my life as a thirty-something, newly married female, going out and indulgences have definitely taken a step backward in priority.

Nevertheless, special occasions do re-spark my interest to try new experiences, as if to commemorate the events. Most recently, as a treat to the Man and also to mark our first quarter together as a married couple, I brought him to Shinji at Raffles Hotel. It was the Man's first time at a proper sushi restaurant and needless to say, he was astounded first by the prices. You see, he is a typical man who eats to live. My pleasure is to…

Of BBQ and birthdays

The Man absolutely loves BBQ'ing his meat (ok, beef actually) and rounded up a bunch of our friends for a BBQ session in the name of celebrating May birthdays as well. 
It was great session, too much food, and too much jokes and laughs. Exactly what a good weekend should be. 
I got a birthday cake from Prima Deli, primarily out of convenience. I didn't expect to see a more premium range available. I asked the aunties what the differences between the regular chocolate cake versus the premium.  Sadly the aunties can't really tell me but they pointed me to the cake descriptors in a folder and I read that the premium chocolate uses Valhrona!  At $48.90/kg, it was still nowhere expensive so I went for it. Most of the friends thought the cake was actually really decent and surprised to learn it was from Prima Deli. For me, I'm just glad to see this familiar local brand upgrading to cater to new demands of today's consumers. Constant improvement through understanding the ev…

Catchin Up at Revolution Coffee

So happy to have an extra day off in the week, and managed to tie down the girlfriend for a quick catch up. She has been busy lately, new job, new boyfriend, etc. Time is precious at this stage in life. We were in the vicinity of Buona Vista  and she, the cafe-chaser and coffee junkie, suggested we go pay Revolution Coffee a visit. I didn't know that the place had existed since more than a year ago!



Located in the secluded part of Portsdown Road, once you see a standalone building called Infinite Studios, you are at the right place. Revolution Coffee looks quite like many other indie coffee joints, industrial look, lots of upcycling, etc. Their own house coffee bean that day was a single origin, and the taste, hopefully in a simple to understand explanation, leans towards the Papa Palheta type, which is quite easy and smooth, light fragrance. They also offer a blend by Smitten Coffee, which we didn't try. Apparently they have a famous banana cake but we weren't in the moo…

Inspired by Second Charm

Thanks to my dear friend Y, I was introduced to the world of Second Charm, a furniture shop that specializes in vintage furniture and mid-century style furniture. I went to visit the little corner they had gotten at the last Public Garden, followed quickly by a visit to the shop at Kallang proper. 

I promptly fell in love with almost everything in sight, and I had to peel myself away, knowing that I cannot make any purchases until the house renovation is sorted out proper at the end of the year :(

Check out their website and you will know what I mean!

Second Charm
 




Blind Date at Jamie's Oliver

No, not a blind date for me, but we organised one for our mutual friends over dinner at Jamie's Italian.  The food was pretty decent, didn't have to queue because we made a reservation in advance. But it was fairly easy to get a table via walk-in on that Sunday night. 
Because I had read so many bad reviews online, I made sure to research on what were mentioned to be good. In the appetizers, we got the calamari, fried cauliflower and baked mushrooms. The first two were very good, the mushrooms were a little dried out, maybe they were sliced a little too thinly? I don't know, but I just wished they were meatier and juicier.  While the tastes were good, be aware the portions are puny. Really a 1 for 1 person portion. 


I got the whole snapper for my mains. I loved it and it didn't taste like Teochew steam fish as one blogger complained in his/her blog. The fish was super fresh and the capers, olives and tomatos made a lovely slightly tangy sauce that complemented the fis…

Banana Leaf Apolo

I often head straight to Samy's Curry whenever I crave a curry fish head fix. I like the atmosphere there as compared to Little India where I feel it could be more chaotic. But the MIL didn't really like the curry there, complaining the curry wasn't fragrant enough.

My next other choice would be Banana Leaf Apolo. But I prefer to view the two restaurants' fish head curry as different, both equally delicious with different twists but where most importantly, fish was fresh and not overcooked. Anyway, the next time MIL came along for fish head, we made sure to go to Banana Leaf Apolo. 
There is a big public parking lot just across the street, so that was pretty convenient. Once in, we found a spot amongst the big communal tables that could seat the eight of us, and proceeded to order our food. We ordered a large fish head, and a serving of free-flowing rice and vegetables each, to accompany the different curries we added on. It would be my first time having dishes at Ban…

Meals at Club 124

Growing up in a household where my mom would put out dinner by hook or crook, I knew I wanted to be able to provide the same for my own family. Starting easy now with just the Man, even then I realized very quickly, it isn't easy for a working person. 
After work and putting in some gym time, we often reach home at the earliest, 8pm or mostly, nearly 9pm. I struggled to put together a meal most times, mainly due to self-induced stress to provide variety for the Man (while I'm generally happy eating the same things just to live). More often than I would prefer, a lot of the meals feature many instant or processed food products put together. 
But I have since realized, so what if I can't make everything from scratch? So long there's good effort to try to make the meal healthy and satisfying, my objective is achieved, no matter. 
So, I want to introduce two of my favorite go-to meals when time is short. 
1. Wraps
There didn't used to be many available, but now, you can get…

Catching up at Sun with Moon

It was another overdue catch up with Y and I was grateful for a slower week at work that allowed me to take leave and Y's schedule permitted us to meet for a short lunch.

I decided on Sun with Moon Japanese restaurant at Wheelock, remembering their good value and quality set lunches. Both of us haven't been there in ages! The restaurant was packed to the brim but service was still good. Orders were taken quickly and food arrived in about 10-15 minutes.

I was feeling super hungry and ordered the saba and seafood kimchi pot set. The saba fish used to be much bigger and juicier though this smaller version isn't too bad as well.  That meal filled me much without much of that 3-4pm hunger pangs.


Y and I talked about everything from the wedding to home decor. She alerted me to the Crate and Barrel Store ( I forgot it existed!), to Public Garden happening that weekend at National Design Center, and also to a furniture shop called Second Charm. I went to both Public Garden (my f…

Double Date at Da Luca

It has been a while since we last visited Da Luca and recently, the Man and I had a double date there. We were reminded of the hearty portions and big flavors once again. Between the four of us, we ordered five starters and then a main each. But really, we should have shared!
While everything we had was good, what was outstanding was the special starter of cold angel hair pasta with scallops and truffle oil. We didn't ask the price and it was slightly above our expectations at $48. But the dish was indeed very good. 
We also ordered the eggplant parmigiana and cream of pumpkin soup (soup of the day), both of which were competent. The only one I didn't really like was the octopus carpaccio (another daily special). It was leaning towards being too salty, but not only that, they were quite chewy without much other flavor.


For mains, I got the vongole spaghetti. The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente and the whole dish was perfectly seasoned. I could use with more heat, but …