Friday, 10 February 2017

Tonkatsu Agedoki, Suntec City

This place is really jialat. I try not to slip into Singlish on my blog because, you know, keeping up the pretense of good English is necessary for running a blog. Or so I would like to think. But frankly, there is no English equivalent to what I would describe this place.

Apparently, Tonkatsu Agedoki is run by the same people behind the wildly popular Tendon Kohaku which is situated just next door. Tendon Kohaku is good, not worth the one hour queue, but worth a 20 minute queue kind of good. But omg, just how, how, could standards differ so greatly??

Granted, the first time I visited when they just opened, the tonkatsu was really good. I was so happy with my meal that I decided I would bring my family over one weekend. That was when disaster happened (to be elaborated below).

But first, some introduction.

Both times I ordered the Pork Loin Cutlet Set Meal ($21.50). 

This was taken the first time I visited Agedoki when the batter was crisp and light, the pork juicy and fresh. I was completely sold and told everybody who was willing to hear that omg, I found a fantastic tonkatsu place!

Good things must share right? So share I did with my family one Sunday evening. And WOW, look at this. What a huge difference a few weeks made! What is with that uneven clumps of batter? And that reddish seemingly uncooked pork inside? Not to mention some parts of the pork was really stringy.

What a huge disappointment. Bring back the chef who cooked the tonkatsu the first time I visited, please?

3 Temasek Boulevard, 
#03-311 Eat At Seven, 
Suntec City Mall Tower One, 
Singapore 038983

Friday, 3 February 2017

Tempura Kohaku, Suntec City

My current favourite place for tempura! Tempura Kohaku is beside Tokyo Sundubu and Menya Takechi in Suntec City. I find myself returning to this cluster of restaurants often because there is always something yummy to eat here and Suntec City is (thankfully) not as crowded as the other malls on a weekend. 

Be prepared to queue if you want to try Tempura Kohaku. The line at the door can be frightening and a great test of your patience if you arrive during the peak hours. I find that the lunch crowd is generally more manageable than the dinner crowd, and I queued for roughly 20 minutes for my lunch at Tempura Kohaku both times I visited. 

I realised that Tempura Kohaku was open on CNY Day 1 this year (thanks Stef!) so my family and I came down to have our dinner here. So happy because there was no queue at all! Perfect.

Look at the crispy batter! The generous ingredients! The light tempura sauce drizzled on the tendon! Ok, I need to calm down. They are really generous with the ingredients. Each bowl comes with 2 prawns, some vegetables, a mushroom, a crab meat stick, and a large piece of chicken. I loved the chicken. I kind of expected it to be a dry and bland slab of meat so I left it for the last. But omg, I was so pleasantly surprised! The batter was crispy, and the meat was so juicy and tasty within.

They serve only cold green tea which was not a problem for me, although I thought that a cup of hot green tea might have helped after a meal of fried food. 

7 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec Tower One, 038987
11:30 AM to 4 PM, 5 PM to 10 PM

Monday, 30 January 2017

Cherry Blossom Viewing in Kyoto, Japan

We stayed in the Sakura Terrace in Kyoto and it was one of the best decisions ever. It was within walking distance to the main Kyoto Station (10 minutes walk from the Hajicho West exit) so we could travel around easily on public transport. If you do not wish to walk that far, you could take the subway and alight at Kujo Subway Station (exit 2) and you will find yourself right in front of Sakura Terrace.

This place is definitely not a posh and luxurious hotel but it was amazing for the price we paid. It was much bigger than the Tokyo hotels and comes with a free drink every night so we could enjoy a glass of wine, cocktail or beer every night at the hotel bar after a long day outside. The room was clean and well-maintained, and there were convenience stores along the road leading to the Kyoto Station. We visited these convenience stores every night to buy drinks and random snacks. I am totally in love with the convenience stores in Japan!

Before I start on the cherry blossom viewing spots in Kyoto, I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the days we spent in Kyoto. Kyoto was a lot less busy as compared to Tokyo and Osaka, and we could take long slow walks anywhere and just enjoy each other's company. I remember us walking hand in hand to AEON Mall near our hotel for dinner one night. The street was completely quiet, it was starting to get a little chilly, and he wrapped his arms around me. We walked in silence for a long while, not saying a word, and it was such a happy blissful moment. We broke the silence eventually by saying something funny and I remember our laughter ringing loud in that quiet night. :)

Gion District

This whole area looked like something out of a postcard. There were cherry trees everywhere and I am not even exaggerating. But there was one particular street with traditional wooden houses on both sides accompanied by a row of cherry blossoms in full bloom. This was where all the tourists flocked to for that perfect shot, and was also where we found ourselves pushed and shoved as the crowd surged ahead.

Japan, 〒605-0085 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Motoyoshichō, 京都府京都市東山区末吉町大和大路通四条上る

Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park was a short walk away from Gion and located right behind the Yasaka Shrine. I visited Maruyama Park in winter previously and it was one of my favourite spots because it was so quiet and peaceful. Fast forward to the hanami season and I was in for a huge shock. Maruyama Park was crazy crowded. There were tourists everywhere, there were tourists plucking cherry blossoms off the branches and stuffing them into plastic bags (wtf?), and there were tourists shaking the branches for the effect of falling petals.

Japan, 〒605-0071 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Maruyamacho, 473他

The famous weeping cherry tree in Maruyama Park. 

But Maruyama Park was truly beautiful if you could get away from the crowd which was what we did. We found a small path which led to the top of a little hill where a lone pavilion stood among the blooming cherry trees. No rowdy crowds, no shouting, no madness. Just lots of greenery, cherry trees and fresh air. We stopped for a short break here and enjoyed the fresh air, the tranquility, and the peace. It was perfect. 


By the time we reached Kiyomizudera, I had accepted the fact that it would be crowded at all the cherry blossom viewing spots in Kyoto so I was less surprised by the throngs of tourists when I reached Kiyomizudera. The scenery was beautiful at Kiyomizudera but I could not find a quiet spot at all. If anybody knows of  a good spot in this area to just enjoy the cherry blossoms quietly, do drop me a message!

294 Kiyomizu 1-chōme, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0862, Japan

I did not really enjoy my time at Kiyomizudera but I enjoyed the walk from Kiyomizudera back to the train station. A quiet road with cherry trees on one side. 

Togetsukyo Bridge

My favourite cherry blossom viewing spot in Kyoto. We made it to the Togetsukyo Bridge at dawn so the crowd had not arrived yet. I heard it could get crazy crowded in the day so I was very happy that we were able to enjoy some quiet moments here together. The park beside the Togetsukyo Bridge was filled with cherry trees and it was such a pretty sight! There were only a handful of visitors that early in the morning so we had so much space to roam around freely without having to jostle with the crowd. I seriously think waking up early to visit parks and touristy places might really be a good thing. Have to thank the boyfriend for dragging me out of bed so early in the morning to catch this beautiful sight!

Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0000, Japan

For what to do (in addition to enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms) and eat in Kyoto, visit here.

For cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo, visit here.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Naughty Nuri's, Capitol Piazza

Ordered the set for 4 even though there were only 3 of us. Stuffed ourselves silly to make up for the sad day we were going through. Sometimes I feel this is a vicious cycle. We feel sad about something that happened (usually at work), we indulge in lots of food to make ourselves feel better, we spend some money and gain some weight at the food outlet, we join a gym or some yoga studio to burn the fats away, and then we bemoan that we need to work harder to sustain the lifestyle of eating and exercising at these nice places. 

But ok, that is not entirely true because, guess what? I would be eating regardless of whether I was sad, happy, annoyed, frustrated, joyous or blah blah blah. I honestly don't think it would have made a difference so I better get moving on my work.

I digress. Back to Naughty Nuri's. I love the set even though we always struggle to finish it. I love the sotong, I love the drumlets, I love the ribs (omg so tender!), I love the mash potatoes with pork scratchings, I love the prawns. I honestly cannot find one item in that platter that I did not like. OH maybe the corn, I don't think I would prioritize the corn in that platter because I was so busy digging into the rest!

01-84 Capitol Piazza, 
11 Stamford Rd, 01-84 Capitol Piazza, 
Singapore 178884

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Cherry Blossom Viewing in Tokyo, Japan

Zg and I made the trip to Japan during the cherry blossom (sakura) season in 2016 to experience our very first hanami (also translated as "flower viewing"). It was really one of the best experiences ever and I could not stop marveling at the beautiful blooms.

We stayed at Sotetsu Fresa Inn Tokyo Kyobashi because we wanted somewhere near the Tokyo Station this time and Sotetsu Fresa Inn was one of those near enough yet still reasonably priced. It was about a 10-minutes walk from the Yaesu South Exit which we found using GPS from our Global Advanced Wifi Router. There was also a much closer subway station (Kyobashi) which was just right across the hotel. The room was small (as with all the hotel rooms in Tokyo) but clean and comfortable. They also gave each of us a small bag filled with packets of shampoo, shower foam and cotton pad, a shower cap, and a hair band, which I thought was really sweet. The convenience store was just round the corner and we headed there every night to stock up on snacks and bottled water. 

Another perk about staying near Tokyo Station was that we were near the Yaesu Ramen Street and could indulge in our favourite tsukemen at Rokurinsha!

Tokyo Station, 東京駅一番街 B1 東京ラーメンストリート内 1-9-1 Marunouchi, 千代田区 Tokyo 100-0005, Japan

Back to cherry blossom viewing. We visited two places to view the cherry blossoms in Tokyo.

Chidorigafuchi Park. 

We took the subway to Kudanshita Station and took a short walk to the Chidorigafuchi park. We were blessed with beautiful weather that day! The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and it was so amazing looking at a whole row of cherry blossoms on both sides of the moat. Come early because the park fills up quickly and soon you will find yourself jostling with many others for a good spot to take pictures. 

The best part about cherry blossom viewing in Chidorigafuchi was rowing a little boat around the moat and getting close to the low hanging branches of the lovely cherry blossoms. So the sign in the picture below states that the operating hours start at 11 am. But we did our research before going and read on a forum somewhere that we could start rowing at 930 am so that was when we arrived. However, despite being somewhat on time, we realised that a long queue had already formed even before the start of the operating hours! We joined the queue and managed to get into a little boat within 30 minutes. 

Rowing the boat was hard work and I have to thank my boyfriend for shouldering that responsibility. For a long moment, it felt like there was a cluster of boats near the boathouse and everybody was unable to move because we were all just stuck. We also spotted a pair of Chinese tourists who attempted to stand while being in the boat and rocking the boat so violently that they almost fell overboard. 

So anyway, after some furious rowing and trying to get away from the rocks at the side, my awesome boyfriend found a spot away from the crowd and proposed to me! Such a sweet happy surprise <3 

It was really very romantic and I would suggest this as a potential proposal spot for all the gentlemen reading my blog. Everything was just so beautiful and it felt so right. The blue cloudless sky, the sunshine on my face, beautiful blooms everywhere, and my boyfriend working his arms off to row the boat to the perfect spot. 

I wish I could stop there and leave you with this romanticized idea of his proposal but we are a very real couple so here's the other side of the story. First, our boat could not stop spinning. We could not figure out why but the boat started spinning away happily the moment he put down the oars to fish the ring box out of his pocket. Second, we were so afraid we would drop the ring into the water (now that would not have been funny) so we were ultra careful with sticking the metal band on my finger. Third, neither of us could remember which hand the engagement ring should go so we froze for a moment and tried to recall. Fourth, I could not stop laughing once the ring was on my finger! I laughed and laughed like a mad woman for a long long time in a spinning boat. Guess I was really happy. Last, my stomach started to ache after all that laughing and I realised I needed to use the restroom so I nagged him to return to the boathouse asap. There is nothing as real in a relationship as having to run to the loo right after your boyfriend (now fiance) planted an engagement ring on your finger! I also had to be annoying and demanded that we find a clean restroom ("No, I'm not using the one in the park! It's so dirty!") so we circled around the area until we found a large hotel that we could enter and use the restroom ;)

Shinjuku Gyoen. 

With an entrance fee of 200 yen and loads of tourists by the time we entered, we kind of expected Shinjuku Gyoen to suck. But Shinjuku Gyoen was large enough to accommodate the large crowd streaming through the gates and the cherry blossoms were everywhere! We entered through the Shinjuku Gate which was the nearest to the Shinjuku Station but you could also enter through the other gates if those are nearer to your station. We wanted to have our own little picnic under the cherry blossoms too but we left our picnic mat in the hotel so we decided to enjoy Shinjuku Gyoen by walking around the park (our legs were so tired by the end of the afternoon!). If you would like to take a little break and enjoy a snack under the beautiful cherry blossoms, remember to pack a disposable mat in your bag when you head to Shinjuku Gyoen!

For cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto, visit here.

For my post on what to eat and do in Tokyo, visit here and here.

If you would like to read my day-to-day posts in Tokyo, you can find them here.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Captain K Seafood Tower

This was super popular a while back so I decided to wait for the hype to die down a bit before bringing my parents here to celebrate Father's and Mother's Day last year. Yupp, you read that right, last year. I cannot believe I am writing this almost a year later. I am so swamped that I don't even know where my time has gone anymore. Anyway, glad that Zg could join us! I made a reservation before turning up but there was some mix-up in the reservations so we almost didn't get our table. Thankfully they rectified it quickly enough and we were soon seated.

You can choose the number of tiers you wish to have for your seafood tower based on the number of people having the meal. Since there were 5 of us at the dinner, we chose 7 tiers. The last tier was a soup base and we picked the kimchi soup base.

Our 7-tier seafood tower arrived!

The clams were really fresh and sweet. I'm not really a fan of mussels so I can't really comment on them.

I felt there were too few prawns but they were also very fresh and sweet.

I had great difficulty shucking the oysters and struggled to pry the shell apart. I wished they shucked the oysters for us before placing them in the tower!

Rice stuffed in the squid.

Mini crayfish. This was another tier which was terribly difficult to eat because it was just so hard to remove the shell from the small crayfish.

Finally, my favourite tier! Scallops with garlic and vermicelli. Love the fresh scallops and fragrant garlic.

The essence of the seafood from all the tiers flowed into the kimchi soup base at the bottom. The kimchi soup was so sweet! We picked various items from the back of the restaurant (instant noodles, pork slices, cabbage, golden mushroom, random balls) and placed them into the kimchi soup. Soon, we had a bubbling pot of delicious kimchi steamboat!

The seafood at Captain K was fresh and sweet and I really liked the kimchi soup base. But I felt it was quite pricey and the food we received did not really justify the hefty price tag. Will be back if they reduced their price. Or maybe I would visit a cheaper alternative to see whether Captain K truly deserves its price tag.

#01-02 Income@Prinsep
30 Prinsep Street

Monday, 2 January 2017

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

Early 2016 was great. I got engaged to my awesome boyfriend during a lovely holiday admiring the beautiful cherry blossoms in Japan, managed to secure a unit with him in Treasure Crest (after failing at the BTO ballot repeatedly), and finally set in motion the "groundwork" of settling down. 

But work had been exhausting, especially in the last few months of 2016, and I was really wondering what on earth I was doing by the time November came around. I had no idea where I was headed, what was going on, why things were the way they were, and I really needed sleep. But I had no idea why I was so tired and I felt like a loser for a very long while. I was trying my best but my best was always insufficient. I had been at this for years but it felt like, maybe my time was up. I had lost my spark (actually, maybe I never had the spark) and I was just desperately trying to get things together. 

I managed to take time off in December to go for a family trip to Eastern Europe and the trip allowed me to get some rest (thank god it was a package tour so I did not have to plan anything at all). I also watched a movie (Me Before You) on the long haul flight which gave me a new perspective. You know, having possibilities is indeed a luxury. I was so absorbed in my own shit for such a long time that I forgot this important fact. I have an inherent worth. It does not matter if somebody else thinks I am stupid or I am a loser. So what? Nobody can make me feel like shit unless I allow myself to feel like shit and for the longest time I allowed that to happen. And it is wrong. Dead wrong. I still have the luxury of possibilities and I just need to have the courage to look at these possibilities. 

Feeling grateful for the important things in life though - like my family, Zg and my dear friends. You guys are still the best :)

Here's to 2017 and all the possibilities this year would bring. I am stronger than this and I always would be. 

Hugs to myself.