Sunday, March 31, 2013

Views from the OCBC Skyway

Best time to board the OCBC Skyway might be 7:45pm or 8:30pm (last admission time) when the entire Supertree Grove lights up in a music and light program named the OCBC Garden Rhapsody. Then you'll be engulfed by the floods of enchanting lights as you stood in their midst!

But we were physically exhausted after just one round of touring the conservatories and couldn't wait for the later hours. Even our plans to re-enter the conservatories in the lighted dusk were scrapped.

Still, this early hour gave us a far view of the surroundings on this cloudy evening. 

Some feels that the OCBC Skyway, suspended at a limited height of just 22m above ground wouldn't provide any breathtaking scenery. True. But somehow, you just have to get up here when given the chance.

The 128m long walkway connects two 25m tall Supertrees, and gives you a different sense of the gardens against our skyscraping cityscape - The bustle of the city highways striking high contrast to the peaceable gardens.

Feel it and take this stroll.

Gardens by the Bay - Cloud Forest

Time your entrance into the Cloud Forest at designated timings (9am, 11am, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm or 8pm) to be enshrouded in the thick white mist that was released!

We entered at 4pm and were immediately enveloped in the misty fog while still recovering from our excitement of watching the world's tallest indoor waterfall; raining loud and hard on us. It was fantastic.

And we wowed at the colorful vegetation that covers the 35m tall mountain; busy taking photos amidst the haze; trying to identify each and every flora that was densely planted on the vertical wall.

It was like a mysterious world that we had entered.

Ascending on the mountaintop by elevator, more exotic plants await. There is a good mix of unique orchids, ferns and colorful epiphytic plants that you wouldn't have in other gardens on this tropical island.

Descending the mountain via the majestic canopy walk while looking out to the aerial view of the outdoor gardens and mountainside below, you'll not fail to stop in your trail by extraordinary wild orchids and the unfamiliar flowering greens.

Enjoy your walk in the clouds.

Gardens by the Bay - Flower Dome

It's hard to decide which is worth the visit - the Flower Dome (cool-dry biomes) or Cloud Forest (cool-moist biomes), the 2 cooled conservatories of Gardens by the Bay. You have to visit them both for the contrasting experience.

The flower dome is the larger of the two at 1.2 hectares while the cloud forest stands tall on 0.8 hectares of land.

Since young, we read of greenhouses in story books and on TVs; the flower dome offers us a chance to be in a giant glasshouse where we 'enter a world of perpetual spring'. And in spring, flowers bloom wondrously! Even the rarely seen blossoming of many cacti!

More photos from their website here.

There are many exotic flowers which we know not their names; so do they have the more common English roses, some with variations - Try locating one that smell of both rose and lemongrass! It was a giant bloom planted in pot at an obscure corner! Such are the quiet working of our horticulturists.

With our group of devoted grower from National Parks Board, i am looking forward to seeing our garden further embellished as it matures over time. Can't wait.

Before we exit to visit the Cloud Forest, don't miss the Olive Grove that houses the batch of Olive trees from Spain; some are over 1,000 years old!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Peranakan Lady's Finger

Many years back, i used to watch this cooking series by a Perankan lady aired on Ch 5 during lunch time. She made all her cooking looked effortless and delicious that i was tempted to jot down her instructions after each episode; and had kept the little notes till today. Here's one, with fresh Okra from our garden

1. Soak dried prawns in water to soften. Remove and set aside the water.
2. Pound dried prawns, 1 garlic, 1 red chili, 1 onion/ or shallots.
3. Fry pound in oil, followed by adding in the lady's finger.
4. Sprinkle water to create steam.
5. Add light soya sauce to taste.

Prawns may also be added to enrich this simple dish.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Himalaya Herbals Mud Pack

Himalaya Purifying Mud Pack, 150ml ($6.90)

Mud mask has always been marketed for oily skin. But i like the product for its cleansing and skin tightening properties and has been using it in moderation for my normal skin type. While applying, the skin tightens as the mask dries; it felt good, and after washing, the skin brightens up, imparting a natural glow! and felt really smooth without the dead cells. Pity it doesn't remove blackheads as claimed. 

But, i thought my face felt slimmer. And for the many days after, the skin felt smooth to touch. This modest product from Himalaya Drug Company, Bangalore (founded in 1930) seems to work well.

For my weekly cleansing, only a dollop of twenty-cent coin size was used with water dilution on my wet skin. After which, standard moisturizing must be followed to phase out the drying feel.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

1 Market by Chef Wan

All photos courtesy of 1 Market.

Sorry for the lack of actual photos here, for the lunch was impromptu. Still i am excited to make a small review of this halal buffet at level 4 of Plaza Singapura new extension.

The entire dining experience was pleasant and inviting as we step into the airy and soothing lighted restaurant. The buffet hall was carnival-like as the many first-time guests hopped about the spacious food counters, comparing food, picking them up curiously and happily walked away to other sections. Most food counters were stationed with their smiley serving staffs, ready to offer assistance.

Hits and misses with the final product of cooked food, but it was an overall way above average if we are comparing with Sakura Buffet who sets the average standard. Meticulous food presentations help whets the appetite, and when you finally sat down with your plate for tasting, you ain't disappointed.

I see this place as the next up and coming buffet joint that is overtaking Sakura; everything here adds up to make the dinning experience a very enjoyable one.

Ingredients adopted by 1 Market are fresh and green; the vegetables are crisp, seafood sashimi beautifully sliced - supported by a group of diligent kitchen staffs who are constantly whipping up warm cooked food, baked desserts, grilled items and chilled seafood.

While the buffet tries to cover cuisine from Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and you are guaranteed to find many food that delights; there's 1 item everyone in our group have and have repeat servings of - their deep pocket Waffles topped with ice-cream! Freshly baked, of course. So remember not to leave the buffet without having it.

See their buffet price list here or check up their FB for updates.
Our weekday lunch was at 23.80++ per pax.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Muchos Mexican Bar & Restaurant

Muchos Mexican Bar & Restaurant at the new wing of Plaza Singapura is a cozy watering hole and i could well imagine how charming the place would be by nightfall.

My earliest memory of the vibrant cuisine was at a Mexican restaurant in Westin Stamford some 20 years back and 10 years ago at Margarita's (Faber Drive). So it's been ages since i last indulge in being Mexican; got to improve on that.

I see Mexican food as being fun, healthy and sexy. As a good news for Vegetarians, majority of their food choices can be all greens. Every of their dishes encourage me to be spontaneous; eating heartily with bare hands, in big mouthfuls, heaping on generously with their tangy salsa roja.

In so doing, i thought i was closer to their culture - warm and free spirited! And we had quite a time today.

 Street Food (Taqueria): Tostadas, pan fried Vegetables ($9.90++)

2 pieces tostadas (corn tortilla fried crispy) layered with your choice of fillings (shredded Chicken $11.90 
or grilled Seafood $12.90), refried beans, lettuce, cheese topped with pico de gallo, sour cream and salsa roja.

Street Food (Taqueria): Quesadillas, grilled Beef ($13.90++)

4 wedges of flour tortillas filled with cheese, bell peppers, onions and your choice of fillings 
(grilled Chicken $12.90, Vegetarian $11.90), grilled to perfection.

Main Course: Chimichangas, grilled Chicken ($13.90++)

2 pieces 10" flour tortillas stuffed with your choice of fillings (grilled Beef $15.90 or pan fried Vegetable $11.90) 
and fried till golden brown, topped with melted cheese and jalapeno.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Barbecue Chicken Wings

7 Chicken Wings
1/4 whole Onion, Diced
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
100ml bottled BBQ Sauce


1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Place chicken wings on pan and roast for 20mins.

2. While chicken is roasting, heat a little oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 5 mins, taking care not to burn them. Reduce heat to low. Add in BBQ sauce and allow simmering while the chicken roasts.

3. After 20 mins of roasting, broil the chicken for another 5 mins to get a little color on the wings.

4. Remove chicken wings from oven. Dip each wings into the sauce prepared earlier, submerge completely. Place back onto the pan. After all the chicken is coated, return pan to oven for 5 mins, or until hot and sizzling.

5. Remove from oven. Brush generously with remaining sauce. Allow chicken to sit a few minutes before serving.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sasatinnie Face Mask

Gold Foil Tightening Mask, 30ml ($8.90, 6pcs per box)

The central air-conditioned unit at my new office is much drier and i am working hard to take care of the facial skin. Let's see if i persevere a weekly face mask routine. This week i have Sasatinnie face mask, from Sasa outlets. Made in Taiwan.

The mask is interesting that it contains gold foil and nano-gold molecules which promises anti-oxidizing power to strengthen moisture-holding, tightening skin and smooths wrinkle. It also has 2 extra ear hooks (on both sides of mask) to further promote the lifting effect.

I find the mask satisfactory. It smells light, and isn't too rich that it becomes uncomfortably sticky. Lots of gold foil wafting in its extra essence; and these are evident on the foil residues that stick to your face after removing the paper. Quite literally "to stick gold on face". But i didn't attach the 2 ear hooks as i thought it looked quite silly. I snipped them and applied them on my arms instead.

In conclusion, if you ain't bothered by heavy face mask, the Korean, the Face Shop which i had on last week was more effective and had a longer lasting effect that was obvious. Sasatinnie is good enough for an average mask that moisturised the skin easily, but without the wows.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Singapore Night Safari Park - isn't how it used to be anymore...

Entrance to Night Safari Park

It's been more than 6 years since i last visited the Singapore Night Safari. The tram ride into the thickly dense rain forest was dark and mysterious while everybody whispered excitingly as the guide introduced us to the animals that came into sight, over a low volume speaker. The tram was small, decorated with little twinkling lights; the roads a little bumpy, yet it was all so real. It was like a prelude to the Africa wildlife!

6 years later, i was sad and indignant by the Night Safari experience.

Amphitheatre for 'Creatures of the Night Show'

On this weekday night, the place was filled to the brim with visitors! And that certainly made us proud as Singaporeans. The show starts and ended that i noted lesser animals involved in the display? It was only later that i realized what might have scares the animals off the show.

Flashlights. Flashes from cameras.

There are people who refuse to take flashes off their cameras. Things got worse when we board the sightseeing tram. The trams were big and long, loaded with rowdy tourists who were trying to compete with the narrating guide; then in many instances, there were stolen flashes here and there. When the guide protests politely, some of these tourists answered back. Oh, what barbarianism!

These misbehaving lots spoil the designed Safari experience. Many other tourists were equally bothered by these crude behaviors. And i ended up feeling sorry for these animals in captivity; and against zoo keeping. It felt helpless that the culture of our small island is changing from a very polite space to one that's much culturally diverse.

Things wane down after 9:30 pm. The trams were now sparsely scheduled with less than half filled seats; flashlight still fires away; broadcast speakers on the tram sounded distinctively loud. I wondered when the lions sleep tonight.

Things would have been perfect without these external factors and changes. And i am missing it.

Capricciosa Pasta & Pizza

Seafood Linguine ($14.90++)

Smoked Salmon Pizza, personal 9" ($9.90++)

How much are you willing to fork out for the Italian foods above?

Today, we found Capricciosa at J-cube who serves some tasty Italian recipe, warm from their open kitchen. The pasta was doused in thick cream sauce, lots of seafood (mussels, clams, calamari) while the fresh dough pizza drips healthy olive oil. It's pretty scrumptious.

Fettuccine with Eggplant & Streaky Beef ($12.90++)

How about their fresh handmade pasta that they boasted, "One bite and you'll know the difference, the texture and taste is out of this world!" Well... it has the look of thick Mee Pok noodles and tasted similar but more doughy than the China handmade Ban Mian. One try of this is just enough.

These were from their weekday set lunch selections that are priced from $5.90 to $14.90, include 1 day soup. We are having an early dinner, and if you could make your order before 5pm; like us, you enjoy the lunch deal for dinner too.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Irish Cream Smoothie

On some days, the summer heat grew unbearably sweltering! 
That made me dream of ice-cream... ... frozen ice-cream.

Without dehydrating ourselves too much with alcohol in this hot weather, i poured Original Baileys onto scoops of Chocolate ice-cream. And Voila! The fusion of bitter alcohol with sweet ice-cream! Superb! I don blend them up; preferred to keep their individual taste separately and my ice-cream still frozen; like how it's like for a cold and hot dessert.

If you like something sophisticated, try the below recipe for an Irish cream smoothie with Vodka! 

90ml Bailey's Irish Cream
3 big scoop(s) Ice Cream Chocolate
30ml Vodka

Blend ice-cream until smooth. Add the Vodka and the Baileys while blending. Pour into a large wine glass with whip cream and grated chocolate as garnishes.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Face Shop - Real Nature Sheet Mask

Real Nature Mask Series, 20ml (Retail locally, 4 for $10)
Lemon, Aloe Vera, Pomegranate and Red Ginseng (clockwise)

I feel repulsive towards thick, sticky face mask. With slimy residue that has to be washed off in the morning as it couldn't be absorbed by the skin. Some comes with strong, artificial sense that sent shudders down the spine.

Sweet smelling (rather strong) face mask from The Face Shop is quite unlike those inferior products. I too was skeptical at first - as i peeled open the thick slimy paper, kept it on for 30 mins and remove without rinsing away the rich essence that stayed on the face. Just before falling to sleep, i feel the skin had slightly dried up but still feels damp. "Oh well, another slimy wash in the morning..." i had thought.

But no, it wasn't. Just a pretty normal wash; if i didn't remind myself of the application the night before. And my cheek feels and looked 'pumped up'! Seriously. Even the extra essence in the packing which i had coated on my arms makes the skin feels tight and hydrated.

The 'good feel' lasted 2 days, and i'm looking forward to another evening of face-masking. I have now regained some confidence in heavy face mask.

Many thanks to Nic and wife for buying these gifts for us on their Korea trip.

Ramen Kings - Keishoken VS Honda

Komi Toridashi Ramen (foreground), Special Ramen (background)

Just for this weekend, there is a 50% promotion at Ebisboshi Shotengai, Great World City for 2 of their selected ramen. Namely, the Special Ramen by Keishoken and Komi Toridashi Ramen by Yuki Honda.

And that prompted us to make a special trip down for lunch today. I so wished they have a polling box for us to vote our preferred ramen, but they don't. That would have been interesting right? Anyway, i silently note down our preference.

Special Ramen (Usual: $15++)

Presentation: Simple and classic ramen presentation with seas of aromatic scallion, onions, bean sprouts heaped on the front and Chashu standing tall by the background. Promises to whet the appetite.
Soup: Pork-based stock, robust, salty
Toppings: Scallion (negi), spring onions, bean sprouts (moyashi), boiled egg.
Noodle Texture: Round and very chewy, with a good bite.
Chashu: Typical ramen braised meat with fats, melt-in-the-mouth (3 sliced pieces).

Overall Taste: The all-time familiar and popular pork-based stock with soft chewy ramen might just win my repeat visit. But for something faddish, take the Toridashi Ramen instead.

Komi Toridashi Ramen (Usual: $15++)

Presentation: The towering Nori seaweed never fails to deliver that majestic look. Simple yet classy.
Soup: Chicken-based stock, uniquely full flavor of chicken essence, salty.
Toppings: Nori seaweed, spring onion, leek, pickled bamboo shoots, green veggies, boiled egg.
Noodle Texture: Firm, less chewy.
Chashu: Flavorsome and juicy, seems to have been roasted before braising (2 thick pieces).

Overall Taste: Winning chashu recipe but noodle texture matters a lot for ramen. And thus the bowl lose out to the Special Ramen as an overall. But this is a ramen creation that's of character.

Ramen Kings in Town, Promotion Poster

Thursday, March 14, 2013

东興, Tong Heng Egg Tarts

Tong Heng Original Egg Tarts ($1.50, 5 pieces for $7)

Friends told me, "If you like egg tarts, you gotten try Tong Heng!" Yes, i like egg tarts. And respected food blogger, read here, does similar recommendation. So we try.

And i had wished we didn't.

This is like a revolution of egg tarts; the thin crust was overdone and designed to become crisp like biscuits? With baked pastries, i desired to taste some fluffy soft flour but this is biscuits, which i already have plenty in my drawers. However, some absolutely adores it this way.

The egg custard so soft, it's on the verge of collapse if we don't hold it carefully. That didn't matters. What matters was that it is less rich and less eggier than how we had like ours.