Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Will Smith's stirring moments - after successfully repaired a medical equipment by replacing damaged parts bought with money from selling blood. The equipment when sold would be their food expenses for a month.

We had heard the saying, "When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up". But that doesn't translate to real life when heart-wrenching true-life events of Chris Gardner (featured Will Smith) just seems to go under without seeing an end in his Pursuit of Happyness.

Yet pride and self esteem probably held him back from revealing his difficult circumstances to his co-workers and clients - he was homeless and penniless with a young child. He did not voiced excuses on the pretext of gaining sympathies or job leeways from anyone.

The show was not happy to watch. At one point, i thought the man would break. Often he was quiet, shedding silence tears in the night or in church. But never giving up, faithfully earnest in all that he does.

In a society where we expect one to be sympathetic or accommodating with our difficulties, Chris exposed our lameness and fairy-tale conjecture that success is a surety with hard work; especially after you had made some big sacrifices. Hard truth was, nobody owns you a living.

Go watch this 2006 American biographical film that may shed some lights in our pursuit of happiness. And yes, Chris did finally caught up his happiness.

Movie Poster

庚和, Kay Hua Roasted Specialist

Roast Duck + Roast Meat

庚和 at Bukit Merah View has such refine name for a roast meat stall; it clearly isn't so for their meaty fare that promises a hearty meal - each zealous mouthful was of greasy goodness!

Do indulge generously. We were biting off more than we could chew as we were rushing to the Comex IT Show in Suntec City, and it was great in a good way - our palates overflowing with meaty sweet juices of the roast duck!

Times like this, it pays to act less of a lady.

Roast Duck & Meat Combo for 2 pax ($11)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Bumblebee Cam

Pentax K-01, with 18-55mm kit lens ($799)

Beary, "Such a pretty thing!"
Ric, "They called Bumblebee. Like it?" Beary kept nodding.

I played with the Bee for a day and night, liking its very real sound of photo shutter, akin to old films loaded cameras. Auto focusing was tad noisy and a little slow despite its 81-points of autofocusing; the NEX-5N had but 25-points. A better choice of lens was thought to improve the situation.

Low light autofocusing was challenging; the LED assist lamp was the saving grace. And i was trying to keep my dirty fingers away from its attractive yellow body, of good feel rubbery grip.

This was an occasional fling, away from NEX.

阿仔, Ah-Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice

Chicken Rice ($2.50)

Tian Tian Chicken Rice devotees were island wide Singapore - and travel guides point you to them; not to miss the "Singapore's Chicken Rice" on your holiday here. 

Undoubtedly, Tian Tian rank high on my personal chart. Then things got interesting when there's the Chicken Rice War at Maxwell Food Centre between Tian Tian and their Chief Chef - Liang Tai. A dispute gave rise to Liang Tai setting up his own Chicken rice stall with competitive pricing to rival his former employer.

Ah-Tai Chicken rice is value-for-money, being really close to the former. Discerning customers however cited their less juicy chicken breast and the less fragrant rice. But one thing's for sure, when you want to save that extra pennies and Tian Tian is drawing a waiting queue, you would easily pop over to Ah-Tai.

I thoroughly enjoyed their plate.

Maxwell Teochew Porridge

Lunch for 2 ($8.20)

Another easy and comforting meal at Heng Heng Porridge, Maxwell. Besides our 'all-time must have', here is something for the first time - Steamed Baby Squids! Try it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Night is still young - Kite Flying!

You may have now realized how the once primitive sports of kite-flying had caught on with Singaporeans here. In gardens with open spaces that strong winds blew - the skies were littered with carefree lighted kites; a clawing spider here, a cobra there, a cyclist on bike and more random displayed racing lights. It's a carnival up there.

Gleeful onlookers like us, sat back taking in the sights.

We bought wine, and some burgers to celebrate the night with the crowd at the Marina Barrage. Else, buy a kite and be admired for your skillful steering.

Here, the night got younger during the weekends ;)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thomson Catering

My plate, with Indonesian Gado Gado * !

Boy! It makes me hungry again, looking at this photo.

The company has been a faithful customer of Thomson Catering for the past... 10+ years!? And thus we had surveyed their buffet range from those below $10 per pax High Tea reception to the more expensive $18, 11 courses Asian Fare - our catering package today. (* for dishes that were really quite good!)

The staffs and the management clearly have no complaint with Thomson's fairly low MSG cooking and unpretentious presentation that serves you the main course without too much cheap garnishing.

Today's platable buffet just brought to mind the Aji-No-Moto offensive by Mum's Kitchen Catering, we had 2 months back.

Malay Kampong Fried Rice w/Ikan Billis, Thomson's Mee Goreng Mamak *

Homemade Beancurd with Teriyaki Sauce & Chicken Floss *

Chicken Rendang *, "Har Jeong Kai" Shrimp Paste Chicken Wings

Braised Broccoli w/Mushrooms *, Thomson's Assam Fish *

Thursday, August 23, 2012

SONY 16-50mm, f2.8 !

Sony 16-50mm, f2.8 DT SSM ($1099)

Our latest camera lens!
Most expensive shooting arm to date. Let's hope the buyings end here.

Read for a technical reviews of this 72mm diameter len while we fill this space with pictures by our proudest and most reliable weaponry :)) Only grouses - this jolly good fellow is heavy.

Sugalight Factory

Rocky Chocolate and Dark Chocolate, 400ml ($10.50)

I thought it's great initiatives to create sweet tasting ice-cream for strict-diet diabetes patients - Sugalight made ice-cream without Cream, Sugar, Eggs for the occasional indulgence. Natural sweeteners like Xylitol and Maltitol guaranteed to give that absolute sweet caress.

But do not share the ice-cream with pets. "There are reported cases of dogs falling into hypoglycemia (low blood sugar condition) due to Xylitol consumption!"

The pint of Sugalight was taken with our other tub of traditional Chocolate ice-cream and the tongue could not tell which from which. It was richly chocolaty and finely creamy! You should however try finishing the ice-cream within a few takes, cause leaving them longer in the fridge had the dessert turned into somewhat sand-feel coarseness. Or was it residue at the lower portion of the tub?

Jalan Kayu, The Prata Cafe

Prata Buffet Menu

Continuing our Hari Raya celebration :) we utilise our coupons for a Prata & Naan ala-carte buffet from It was disappointing when the vendor handed us their specially crafted buffet menu that limits the initial offerings of 31 selections to just the 12 on the list.

Egg Onion Prata ($2.20), Cheese Egg Prata ($2.80)

For the love of roti prata, we still liked our meal. Even towards the end of the carbo-bloated feast, i wished to have more of their chewy prata - the plain ones. Cos apart from eggs and onions, the vendor clearly scrimped on ingredient like Cheese.

We hope this wasn't their practice on full-priced paying customers.

Mushroom Prata ($2.50)

Paper/ Tissue Prata ($2.50)

Paper Prata was a delight while we note that Naan play second fiddle to Prata here. Don stuff your stomach with the filling Naan for this buffet. Go on to enjoy the available prata choice.

Kashmiri Naan ($3.50), Garlic Naan ($2)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Selamat Hari Raya Aidifitri!

Having good Malay friends whom we joked and laughed together, we respect each others religion and sought out good Halal food outlets together. This was the joy to living in multi-racial Singapore.

We shared the festivities of the Hari Raya when Malay families don their best and visit relatives like we do during the Chinese New Year.

This year, i was grateful to receive this pretty platter of home-made goodies from our Malay compatriot!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Old School Chicken Chop

Chicken Chop ($3.80)

Sometimes we enjoyed reminiscing memories of eating that messy yet satisfying plate of chicken chop - our very first introduction to Western food, in school canteens. Food standards need not be first-class; the occasional treat of the rich food was an overjoyous event to the simple kid.

Likewise, our chicken chop from the new western food stall in NTU Canteen 14 wasn't exemplary but reminded us of the hearty campus fare with its familiar brown gravy and overdose of chili sauce. Only missing out was the favourite canned baked beans.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gardens by the Bay - Oh! Supertrees!

Chinese Garden in Heritage Gardens

It was a brief stop over at the Gardens by the Bay without plans to visit the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest yet.

I had thought never be fascinated by any concrete steel 'trees' but here I am, standing in awe of the towering Supertrees which were lavishly covered by plants and flowering climbers! Despite being a man-made garden, it made us proud of the clever development of this good 101 hectares land - not every acres of space were well-decorated but given time, we believe the plants shall mature superbly to grace the landscape.

If i had wishes for the garden, i wish we had our mediocre yet majestic Raintrees to shield away the blazing day sun! Looking skywards, air spaces looked somewhat bare without clouding from natural forest green.

And the 'Satay by the Bay' eatery could be the icing on the cake when it opens later this year, that's is, if its food offering stays 'locally hawker', tasty and affordable like our all-time popular tourist hawker centre - East Coast Lagoon Food Centre. Then we could truly manifest our unique hawker culture, an important part of Singaporeans lifestyle.

Outback Steakhouse

Outback Special, 8 oz. ($28.90++)

These 3 pictures well summaries our dismaying experience at Outback Steakhouse.

If i may quote from their website, "our attitude towards life is down-to-earth, laid-back, 'no worries'." Their attitude toward food is the same relax story. We do appreciate "big, bold flavors" but not when it was to salt away the short fall of quality in food ingredients.

We particularly felt cheated by the crumbly texture of their signature sirloin steak. It was seasoned and seared alright but the low-quality raw meat was a wreck.

It was a shame that the 3-course meal was negotiated by Groupon at a thriftless price of $24.90; with the Spritzer soda being the most outstanding item on the table.

Soup of the Day, Raspberry Spritzer

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Old Hong Kong Bruce Cafe - revised menu

Pan-fried Chives Dumpling in Beancurd Skin, 3 pcs ($3.20+)

Today's visit to Bruce at University Town found they had put up a new menu, with new pricing to facilitate their episodic buffet offerings. Our favourite 6 pieces Dim Sum Basket was also removed and replaced.

If you are planning to visit them for buffet, keep in mind that they do better with Dim Sum, cooked food is fairly average.

Cooked Food Menu

Dim Sum Menu

Steamed Chicken Glutinous Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaf, 3 pcs ($3.20+)

Steamed Barbecued Pork Buns, 3 pcs ($3.20+)

Perfect Match - Milk Tea & Coffee ($1.60+)

We would recommend you for a nice coffee and Dim Sum meal here. We too would forget about having their cooked food, just the Dim Sum.

Stew of Beef Curry with Rice ($6.50+)

Minced Meat Noodles with Bean Paste, dry ($4.80+)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gelateria Italia

3 Flavors Gelato cup, with toppings ($8.90)

I had passed by often, the Gelateria Italia's kiosk. Each time it was tantalizing to watch the varying colors of gelato and sorbets on display.

Celebrating their 1st anniversary in Singapore, the 50 years Italian dessert maker held a promotion for their 3-flavors gelato cup at 50% discount. Surely, it was challenging to make a choice from their attractive selections!

I had cursed myself for having the mediocre Vanilla, Pistachio and Rum Raisins :( Then, i couldn't resist not asking for a try of my fourth choice - the Whisky, and it was a frolic of bitter sweetness that gave an alcohol kick!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Giant Grasshopper!

Short-Horned Grasshopper

Grasshoppers, especially big sized ones like these, looms images of "God-send plague of locusts" on my mind and sent shivers down my spine, every time.

Although a search on the Internet proved this species not the one that swarm and destroy crops, their many pictures on the Internet were still creepy!

This palm-length fellow sat in my garden this evening; of a size that our common Sparrow and Myna will find hard to shallow. Eeeek!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Auriginal Australian 2001

Auriginal 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% vol.

After a good red wineing last week, i was much spurred on for another bottle. 

This bottle, flavored favourably to go with Abalone or freshly shucked Oysters really had us pining for the missing shellfish. I had thought only white wine goes with seafood; this red just does it.

Produced by Galafrey Winery & Vineyard in Western Australia, and I mported by our local Horse Brand Bird's Nest, the wine dazzled with an attractive earthy blackcurrant aftertaste. I really like it. 

But we did suffered a mild hangover of headache - something that's atypical of red wines.