Thursday, September 29, 2011

Secret Recipe Cake Promotions Again!

White Chocolate Macadamia ($52+)

I always find it hard to forgo Secret Recipe 1-for-1 cake promotions; this time they were at it again, in a joint exercise with the Diners Card. The catch was that you've got to pick up the cake from their Woodlands Terrace Factory.

And Ric had diligently driven down yesterday.

This was the White Chocolate Macadamia with chunks of roasted macadamia nuts, creamy vanilla filling and thick white chocolate coating. It was a delightfully light and healthy cake; i had it for breakfast on another morning.

Chilled Strawberry Cheese ($52+)

Sinful cheese cakes was what we loved best, especially those with tangy strawberries or blueberries. This frozen cream cheese blended with strawberry was what i had wanted for the longest time! Perfect.

Layered in the likes of Neapolitan ice cream, my favourite portion would have to be the pinky strawberry :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

宏源, Hong Guan Cooked Food

This is quite a popular cze char stall at level 3 of the Taman Jurong Market & Food Centre for their Claypot Assam Curry Fish Head. I always love to have it, but not today... for i was without the appetite; so just watching the many neighbouring tables ordering it.

Sambal Sweet Potato Leaves

But the sambal sweet potato leaves is also one of their must have. It is especially yummy when served hot and eaten with plain rice!

Sweet and Sour Pork

Bitter Gourd Omelette

I haven't much appetite today dues to my over-eating for the past few days, while Ric who had just recovered from his gastric pain, gorged himself contentedly. Total cost for the meal of 3 dishes was $19 only, with rice. Enjoy.

Assam Fish Head ($17)

We came back a month later, and finally have their Assam Fish Head with crisp fried Prawn roll. It was another ordinary yet satisfying lunch with Ric.

Five Spices Prawn Roll, "Hae Cho" ($5)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

正宗香港烧腊, Hong Kong Roast Duck!

Roasted Duck and Roasted Meat for 2 ($11)

Can we not talk but just tuck into the food?

I can't wait, my sweet roasted drumstick is bellowing...! This got to be one of my favourite places for Hong Kong roast! Try it!

The stall used to operate from a coffee shop in Bukit Batok West, Blk 109 but had since shifted into the Bukit Batok Community Club since last month.

If you are one of their faithful followers, end your search, you have found them ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Heng Heng Porridge & Rice

Heng Heng Porridge & Rice stall at Maxwell; and we were finally here after reading so much about their economical fare. Most importantly, we heard that they offered really value for money steamed fish - my fave!

Dishes with 3 bowls of Sweet Potato Porridge ($7.40)

But Ric wanted a simpler fare, often meaning one that doesn't take much effort or time to consume so he ordered the stir-fried mustard, 芥菜, preserved radish with egg, 菜浦蛋, fishcake and a steamed Pei Tor fish.

While these home-cooked fare was great, i unconsciously ogled at the steamed FISH HEAD from the uncle who was sharing our table... :'(

Steamed White-spotted rabbitfish Pei Tor, 白肚鱼 (white belly)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

We Din Start the Fire...!

It was great home coming to a BBQ family gathering at the Labrador Park. As each family was tasked to prepare some food items, i was especially happy to see all missions accomplished!

This was 4th uncle and 4th aunt vigorously fanning up the charcoal; they were such great fire-starter, not forgetting 4th uncle wife and Nic, my brother ;)

This tray of straw mushrooms with lean pork wrap prepared by Nic and wife was surprisingly very good; without seasonings!

The barbecued Tau Pok by yours truly; though Mum concoct its shrimp paste + lemon juice mixes.

I love the fried bee hoon by our "Bee Hoon Specialist", my eldest Aunt.

Gelatinous Stingray fillet by Mum!

And these giant prawns by 4th uncle! They cost $20 for a kg, were large and scrumptious!

More food was in tonight's menu but my hands were messy with busy barbecuing, serving and eating! Plus, the dark environment isn't all conducive for photo shoots.

There were squids, garlic bread, fish cake, chicken wings, fish otah, satay, sotong balls, sausages and even a big chocolate cake! Boy, i was stuffed!

This was the loving Nic couple who initiated tonight's get-together; thank you! And they were keeping the sweetest secret from us ;) Congratulations!

Zibibbo Rosa by Brown Brothers ($24.55)

We boozed sweet sparkling red wine from Brown Brothers while the young teens had non-alcoholic drink from the Wild Vines, Strawberry White Zinfandel to be exact.

Chilled Ribena blackcurrant syrup drink also, for those who wished to stay sober.

My greatest discovery for the night? Toasting Marshmallows over the bbq fire.

Young cousin taught me the know how; and i spend the rest of the night burning my face, watching the fire. It was fun and delicious stuff that i missed out during school days ;)

We reached home, 12 midnight.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Back to Civilization..

Quite literally, our first steps back to civilization as we embarked on the SIA, the flight which shall takes us home Singapore. Alas, the front wheel of the SIA flight had to be replaced resulting to full 2 hours delay; all in the safe hands of our National flight carrier, i screened 4 movies on their newly equipped large 10.6" LCDs, completing the "X-Men: First Class" on our 6 hours journey from Beijing :)

For the next few weeks, i shall post backdate about our 9 days trip, the transportation, food, culture and shopping while i sorted out the photographs (by Sony NEX-3) and thoughts. The only regrets for the trip? We had not a taste of the much acclaimed Peking Roast Duck.

Vacuum packed Peking Duck on racks of supermarket.

Our strenuous "free & easy" holiday toughen us much physically that a walk to 2 supermarkets today, with full shopping bags left me wanting more; it was a stroll in the park compared with the distances we covered a day in Beijing!

Peace and calm reigned as i surveyed Singapore familiar streets, uncluttered by China's numerous road signs, overhead cables for trolleybuses, competitive bike riders and jaywalkers. Not that China was a backward country, on the contrary, their fast pace in economic development left many envious and we particularly loves visiting but living in Singapore's orderly society was more of comfort.

It's good to be back while i feasted on our cheaply affordable fresh fruits; we had witnessed the often reported inflation in China and it is quite true in Beijing city now.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beijing D9 - Modern Architectural Buildings

Linked Hybrid Complex

On our taxi ride to the BCI Airport, i couldn't forget a building i caught sight of by the highways; a search on the Internet later revealed that it was the Linked Hybrid Complex.

Witnessing its eight residential towers linked by a ring of variant designed sky bridges at irregular intervals was astonishingly unforgettable!

IBM中国系统中心 at 亚运村

We saw the following 2 unique buildings when we were at the Beijing Olympic Park previously.

This was the IBM building beside the Pangu Plaza, 盘古大观 - another magnificent structure of the Pangu Residences and Pangu 7 Stars Hotel!

数字北京大厦, Digital Beijing

And the Digital Beijing, which served as the data center for the 2008 Olympics; designed to resemble integrated circuit board and bar code by their very own Chinese Architectural firm - Studio Pei-Zhu!

中国供销集团 at 宣武门外大街

It was the queer sloping roof of the China Co-op Group Co. Ltd. building at Xuanwumen street which caught our attentions. The company was one of the top 500 in China, based on companies' 2010 revenues; in fact, they are at No. 83!

An exemplary for its rich heritage of ancient architectural, these were accidental snapshots of Beijing's modern architectural buildings while we purposedly visited their CCTV Headquarters and the Beijing National Stadium and Aquatics Center. Bolder and newer structures are coming up and we hope to see them when we revisit the city in the near future.

It's 再见, for now ;)

Beijing D9 - Transport System & Fare Card

One of our morning agenda before flying out was to get a refund for our 一卡通, Yikatong Smartcard, a truly essential travelling tool in Beijing. A full refund of its deposit and all remaining amount will be made; unlike the Singapore transit fare card system where you pay a non-refundable S$5 for "card charge".

We bought our 一卡通 from the nearest Subway station for a deposit of ¥20, S$4 and topped up each card for another ¥20. While you could buy the cards from almost all Subway stations, refunding service was only available at certain Subway ticketing booth. Check here for more infor. or get an update from the train personnel when you are here.

The best convenience of having the bus card is the doing away of having to prepare small change for travelling fares. And, that you actually enjoy 60% discount off the already concession bus fare of ¥1 - however far you travel! The discount applies similarly to our Express Bus service to the Badaling Great Wall that would have normally cost ¥12!

Subway rides was also at a flat rate and at ¥2 that wouldn't be discounted by use of the card; but we soon find that travelling via the public buses was more convenient than trains.

Buses took us to the doorsteps of our destinations and there were always traffic marshals at the stations during the morning and afternoon peak to advise us on the bus routes!

Hence we made lot of savings on transport costs.

Beijing D9 - Street Eats and Snacks!

Good Morning Beijing!

When everybody was rushing for work, buying breakfasts from the street food stalls and chasing after transport buses, we followed suit - buying their favourite 灌饼, Egg Crepes with Lettuce (¥2, S$0.40) and Soybean milk (¥1, S$0.20). Both were nice!

Bounded for an afternoon flight back today, i woke up early to catch more of the city... Ric was feeling much better today :) 

Egg Crepes were prepared on such hot plate, similarly for this other variation of crepes - the only different lies in its ingredients used, and therefore was pricier.

紫米煎饼, Purple Rice Pan Crepe (¥4.50, S$0.90)

Looking pretty? We had this outside the Panjiayuan Market.

As in most developing cities, Beijing has its sizable share of innovative food vendors who came up with ideas for the most sellable food stuffs, making a living out of it. Some had even became the city staple food and part of its culture!

These were some that we came across.

Beijing 烧饼, Shaobing buns

The cakes, desserts and bread from the Beijing Halal food stall drawn as much crowd as the traditional Beijing baked buns, the Shaobing. Many locals packed bags of these home!  

肉夹馍, "Meat Sandwiched in Bun" (¥5, S$1)

BBQ Chicken and Lamb Drumsticks, Pan Fried Sausages

These were the food stalls at the foot of the Badaling Great Wall, and we bought the soft steamed buns stuffed with mutton and green pepper bell for our hunger pangs!

Melon fruit (¥1, S$0.20)

And the melon fruit hawker at the Panjiayuan Market whom we repeatedly bought from them after tasting sweet, juicy stick from their little trolley.

On the background, you see roasted sweet potatoes? Yes :)

These were what that really distracted us as we were trying to locate the routes to Niujie Mosque; gigantic Sunflowers for sales!!? No, they were actually Sunflower Seeds. And the hawker invited us to try!

Oh, how silly were we! Having only seen these seeds in nice packaging, i never knew its fundamental form. It tasted a tad raw cos we were used to the ones which underwent roasting process, these were just intriguing looking at!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beijing D8 - Prince Gong's Palace, 恭王府

Despite being weak even after resting for a long day, Ric struggled out of bed, accompanying me to the Prince Gong's Mansion to help kill my boredom... we have not went anywhere today... and i was getting restless just watching the TV programs, though they have lots of channels for my surfing :P

But i was regretful when Ric got uncomfortable and had to rest by the benches while i went round the place myself; so it was also done half-heartedly. Pardon my brief report here.

Touring the Prince Gong's could be conveniently done when there's a crew of pretty young guide volunteers (dressed in traditional Chinese embroidery pant suit) leading any formed group from the entrance for an overall tour of the ground; just follow any of them.

From this model of the Prince Gong's Mansion on displayed, i would think it more appropriately as the Prince Gong's 'Palace'; why do i constantly feel that it's a miniature of the Forbidden City!? Don't you think so?

Being the most exquisite and luxuriously built royal mansions in Beijing, layout of this residence heavily replicate that of the Forbidden City with its row of Gates and Halls in the centre, followed by some typical Siheyuan rooms at the side.

Then a spacious garden at the back of its compound!

But i would say living here was definitely a thousand times better than in the Forbidden City! No Walls! Try going to the Forbidden City and imagine living within the confinement of those tall red wall! :(((

I might just suffer serious Depression...

Blessing Culture, the 福 character

Last but not least, you would never miss out all the hype about the promotion of "福" blessing culture in Prince Kung's Mansion; the Chinese character was carved based on the calligraphy of  Emperor Kangxi, bestowed upon the Mansion and displayed in the garden.

I do find it meaningful to note that a single Chinese character of "Blessing" is actually symbolic of multiple blessings in having abundance of sons, lands, talents and longevity!

It's no wonder the "Fu" was held in such high regards in the Chinese culture.

Beijing D8 - Shoppings!

Intime Lotte @ Wangfujing Shopping Street

The itinerary for our last day in Beijing, that's today, was to shop till we drop at their 西单, Xidan Commercial shopping streets, akin to our Orchard Rd, but much larger in life... in fact, shopping malls in Beijing are often intimidatingly huge in scale! And 王府井, Wangfujing is surely an iconic shopping street that you've got to set foot in.

But Ric had taken quite ill today and had to be resting; so let's just talk about some of our shopping experiences and buys in the past few eventful days.

Original/ Copied Concert Dvds (¥15, S$3 per disc)

Starting with my last loot from 经典音像 DVDs today!

Ric had helped in some of these selections when we visited their distant outlet 7 days ago. This afternoon, i was bored in the hotel and sneaked down to their nearby shop, just downstairs! for more to feed my addiction. Here are their 4 locations in Beijing.

We have always bought concert DVDs from China for its excellent quality, especially the Blu-ray copied; but Beijing is exceptional for its large collection of Classical Symphony DVDs while concerts of Hong Kong/ Taiwanese artists were absent!?

In Singapore, such Classical Orchestra performing DVDs are expensive.

Hongqiao Pearl Market, 北京红桥珍珠市场

We had paid Hongqiao a repeat visit yesterday morning for some good quality product as souvenirs for families back home, and we were not buying the pearls ;)

Beijing's Hongqiao was like Shanghai's Xiangyang, infamous for their sales of pirated bags, wallets, clothes, belts and shoes of world's famous brands! If you like these dazzling brand logos, you could land some pleasing buys; we went for the good finishes product (that they were trying to imitate) but without the branding.

Best thing about here? You are welcome to bargain.
Remember to bargain down about 70% from the selling price. Excise your discretion, in cases where the selling price could be upped much more. But leave the seller some profit, and it'll be a win-win happy transaction :)

牛角梳, Ox Horn Combs and Massaging Horn Sticks (¥60, S$12) 

We were introduced to these China Cow horns by our China friends, when we start touring the country... some 8 years ago! Being of anti-static nature, the Buffalo's horn was said to improve hair luster too; our families loves the comb and we never fail to bring some home whenever we travel.

The product has its origins from Fujian, or the Xiamen and was not commonly found in Beijing. We were lucky to have these nice ones from a Panjiayuan Market stall.

Spectacles frame with lenses (About ¥180, S$36 per pair)

Within walking distance from the Panjiayuan Market is the 眼镜城, Panjiayuan Glasses Market! Select your frame, bargain the price, have your eyesight tested and you collect your spectacles in 20mins.

The price of owning at least 1 of these most fashionable pair is too little to resist!

可多, Kodo

The other night when we were at the Nanluoguxiang remember? I didn't mention the many souvenirs/ gifts shops here. They sell fun stuffs that are cute and pretty rather than a necessities ;)

Heart-shaped Measuring Spoons set (¥9, S$1.80)

I got these from Kodo that has heart-warming inscriptions like, "A pinch of joy.", "A dash of tenderness.", "A spoonful of affection.", "A heap of love."!!!

H&M black ankle socks x5 (¥49.90, S$10), belt (¥49.90, S$10)

And to Singaporeans who were queuing and jumping for joy when H&M opened their flagship store in Orchard Rd just this month, you should be here. H&M stores were easily located in all their shopping streets!

We stumbled on 1 at 崇文门, Chongwenmen shopping street while getting some local products and sweets from the opposite 新世界商城, New World Shopping Mall yesterday.

H&M are as ubiquitous as Uniqlo here.

Tongren Wuji Baifeng Wan, 6gm pills x6  (¥57.60, S$11.52)

And we never missed out on Beijing's many renowned pharmacies, the most prestigious of them all, the 同仁堂, Beijing Tong Ren Tang.

women's nourishing pills of Chinese medicine, i was wowed by its elaborated embroidered box! Perfect for a gift, yeah!