Friday, 19 August 2016

Tolido's Espresso Nook

With the Entertainer App, I love heading to Tolido's Espresso Nook after our weekly gym sessions because it is near my hood, super convenient, and not that crowded on Sundays. So after being a hamster on the treadmill for a bit, pumping some iron, rolling around on the mat, we shower and make our way to Tolido's rather often. We also found out that they have wifi for those who need to catch up on work! 

The menu. This is an outdated version and I haven't been earnest enough to take pics of the newer menu. But the gist is there. I think?


Here are some of the dishes we tried. We are creatures of habit so we tend to gravitate back to the same items over and over again.

Prawn Laksa Pasta ($16.90). I love laksa pasta! I always say this but I really do love laksa pasta. The thick laksa sauce just goes so well with pasta and fresh crunchy prawns. It can get quite heavy and creamy after a while, so the best thing to do is to share this!


The boyfriend's favourite: Spaghetti Vongole ($16.90). Very fresh clams, al dente pasta, and a very light white wine base.


Flat white because I need my coffee.


Mushroom Aglio Olio with Seafood ($16.90). The seafood was very fresh in this one and the pasta was al dente. But the Aglio Olio style of pasta at Tolido's was a little bland for me and could probably do with more condiments. Good for those with a light palate.


I enjoy being in Tolido's because it feels like part of a neighborhood that I grew up in and am familiar with. I studied in the primary school adjacent to the block where Tolido's is before the school moved to Bendemeer. This hood will always have a fond place in my heart. That said, do come for a laid-back comfortable brunch or lunch over the weekend. This is one of the few cafes where I really feel very comfortable in and can just lounge around for a long while.

463 Crawford Lane
#01-63
9 am to 6:30 pm (closed on Mondays)
66480178

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Sanpoutei, Shaw Centre

The boyfriend and I had been craving for good tsukemen since our return from Japan, the land of wonderful tsukemen. Heard that Sanpouttei does pretty good tsukemen so we dropped by for dinner one evening after shopping in Orchard. Or more accurately, window-shopping in Orchard since we usually just stroll around, check out new shops, but hardly ever buy anything. Shopping is best done online, unless there is a sale!


The thick broth was good, very robust with bits of sardine inside. The noodles were done al dente as well and was delicious when dipped into the broth. I was, however, really quite surprised that there was no char siew in this tsukemen. I guess I should have read the description in detail and stop assuming that tsukemen here will be served like its counterpart in Japan with thick slabs of marbly pork. But still, I was rather disappointed. Even though the bits of sardine in the broth was sweet, I missed having some marbly pork to go with my noodles.

Expectations! When can I finally learn that I am usually disappointed only because I have expectations which are not aligned with reality? That said, the broth here is really good. And I shouldn't be whining because I came back again a few weeks later to have the tsukemen again. Without the pork. ;)

Shaw House
350 Orchard Road
#B1-04/05 
68364644

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

USA Itinerary (Orlando) Day 11 - A horrible experience with Dollar Car Rental but the day was saved by good shopping at premium outlets

We arrived at Port Canaveral in the morning, had breakfast, and disembarked into sunny Orlando. We took forever to reach the Dollar car rental shop because the shuttle service took 45 minutes to arrive. The lady driving the shuttle bus was friendly and nice, but appeared severely overworked, and we were completely clueless as to why the shuttle bus took 45 minutes to get to Port Canaveral from the Dollar shop which was about a 10 minute drive away.

Anyway when we reached the Dollar car rental shop we were in for a rude shock. The queue was omfg long, we waited for an hour before it was our turn, and found out that they did not have the full size car which we reserved (and paid for) prior to our trip!

WTF.

Their attitude was horrible, they were completely unapologetic about the screw up, and absolutely flippant about not being able to provide the car we reserved. Offered an extremely small hatchback and told us in no uncertain terms that it was literally take it or leave it. Amazing. If we were going to settle for any shit car that you are going to provide, what was the whole point of reserving and paying for the vehicle before our trip?! It's like making us pay for a scallop and eventually serving us clams and telling us that it was as good as it gets.

Anyhow, so we managed to squeeze all our luggage into the miserable boot of our small hatchback since we desperately wanted to get moving. We asked for the toll-free package (i.e. we paid a flat fee for tolls and need not go through the toll booths and pay separately) and were told it was included, so in the mess and confusion we left, thinking we are finally done with this horrid place. When we arrived back in Singapore, Zg received a rude shock when Dollar billed him for the tolls PLUS a fine for each toll booth we ostensibly skipped.

WTF AGAIN.

It was quite a large sum and I was so furious, I think I could have hit the roof. We wrote to them and filed so many complaints but Dollar simply ignored every single one of them. So I checked all the consumer tribunals in Orlando (lawyer instinct) which was no good because we were literally miles away. Thankfully social media has no boundary, and after a handful of posts on Dollar's Facebook page they refunded the amount and we only had to pay for the tolls. At least there was some justice there. And thank god we can write in English. I can totally imagine being forced to swallow the fine if there was no way to communicate anything to Dollar.



So after a rocky start, we went to the Orlando Premium Outlets (Vineland Premium Outlet and Orlando International) for some retail therapy where we scooped up some awesome purchases. If you visit the premium outlets in US, do remember to drop by the information center for a booklet of discount vouchers that give further discounts on top of the good prices. Had Five Guys for dinner which was good, but my heart belongs to Shake Shack!


Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4, Day 5Day 6Day 7Day 8Day 9, Day 10.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Meatsmith, Telok Ayer

The first post on Meatsmith is so long overdue that I actually managed to return for a second time.

FIRST TRIP

After a run from the office to Marina Bay and a slow jog/walk back, I replenished my body with all the calories burnt during the run at Meatsmith. Meatsmith was on the Entertainer App so we had 1 for 1 on the mains which was perfect! We ordered some sides and dessert which was honestly way too much for both of us but well, we were greedy. 

Crispy pork rinds. Omg this was so sinful but SO GOOD. Crispy, delicious, not oily, not greasy and so fragrant!


Pulled Pork Sandwich ($17). This was recommended by a friend and I found it good, but not incredible. 


I can't remember what this was called anymore, but I vaguely remember that it tasted pretty much like sausages with salsa on a bed of mash. Good but not fantastic either. 


The Garlic Bread ($6) was very yums! Thick, fragrant and very savoury.


Had the apple crumble for dessert. The apple crumble was very unique because it came like a pastry in a bowl with a thick crust on top and chunks of sweet apple soaked in sweet syrup below. I prefer my apple crumble with crunchier apple bits but Meatsmith's apple crumble came with soft mushy apple slices (which is probably how everybody likes it). It was served very very hot though which meant my ice cream melted extremely quickly. 


SECOND TRIP

I could be dreaming but the menu looks a little different.


Went for the pork rinds again!


1/2 Smoked Chicken ($22). Pretty decent, but still a weak competitor to the ribs.


1/2 Pork Spare Ribs ($25) were absolutely awesome. They were totally fall-off-the-bone tender! Also ordered Cauliflower ($11) which was a delightful mix of grilled cauliflower and Bacon Mac & Cheese ($10). 


A Brownie with Coconut Ice Cream ($8) to end off the meal!



167/168 Telok Ayer Street
+65 6221 2262
Monday to Saturdays: 830 am till late
Closed on Sundays

Sunday, 24 July 2016

USA Itinerary Day 10 - Bahamas on Royal Carribean cruise: Cococay, Bahamas

Took the tender boat to Cococay, Bahamas which is Royal Carribean's private island. Cococay was incredibly beautiful. Powdery white sands, extremely clear waters, strong gusts of wind, and watching stingrays! Such a lovely enjoyable day in Cococay.

After getting off the tender boat, we were greeted by Cococay's version of Straw Market, just that this was a colourful assortment of outdoor stalls selling shirts, hats, swim wear and a bunch of random stuff.



The first section of the beach nearest the tender boats was very crowded. I guess nobody wanted to venture far and just wanted to settle down at the nearest beach chair. 


We decided to walk on some more and after rounding a bend, we finally reached the Bare Foot Beach where there was less people, the water was clearer and the sand was a perfect powdery white. The water was calm and peaceful so we could walk out slowly and watch stingrays. There was hardly any waves, unlike the rough waters at Cabbage Beach in Paradise Island. I could soak peacefully in the waters and enjoy the sun on my face. 




Lunch was barbecued and grilled meats near the tender boats and food was pretty good. After lunch, we settled down on the stretch of beach closest to the tender boats and I started to read while Zg had a nap. Stef and King went to swim. It was obvious which was the more active couple haha!

Returned to the cruise at around 4 pm and had a short nap. The service crew and chef did a little performance during dinner and they totally deserved our applause for the wonderful food and service every night at the dining room! Drank our bottle of red wine and went to sleep as the ship rocked crazily on the way back to Port Canaveral. 



Thursday, 21 July 2016

Top 1 Hand Made Noodle, Beauty World

Amanda's strong recommendation and totally worth my while trudging here on our spanking new Downtown Line! I tried this ban mian store a long while ago but soon forgot about it because, seriously, Upper Bukit Timah is way too far for me. But things changed with the new Downtown Line and finally I get some accessible public transport to this area. 

Top 1 Hand Made Noodle is located at the hawker centre on the 4th floor of Beauty World Centre. I tried the dry la mian with abalone slices on my first trip. This was super yummy and I love the dark sauce! Even though I know that a crazy amount of unhealthy dark sauce went into the noodles, I dug in happily because it was just so yummy. The la mian was also the right amount of QQ.


Had another opportunity to eat Top 1 again the next week because I had a meeting in the area. This time I had the soup mee hoon kueh with abalone slices and meat balls. I really really like the soup! Their mee hoon kueh was thinly sliced, almost like the kway in kway chap, and could be slurped down easily. Totally unlike the usual thick slabs in ban mian stores. 


So awesome. My first bowl was over lunch on a Saturday afternoon and the queue was quite long. We ordered, paid, took a queue number, and found a table nearby. When our number flashed on the digital board, we went over to pick up our bowls of delicious noodles. My second bowl was over dinner on a dreary weekday evening. The queue was much shorter and I did not have to take a queue number. I ordered, paid, and just stood around until my bowl was ready. Some types of noodles were selling out fast and I was lucky enough to get the second to last bowl of mee hoon kueh! The uncle behind me had to settle for ban mian oops.

#04-44 Beauty World Centre
144 Upper Bukit Timah Road
588177
+6584488450




Friday, 15 July 2016

USA Itinerary Day 9 - Bahamas, Nassau on Royal Caribbean cruise: Senor Frogs,Junkanoo Beach, Cabbage Beach

It was a bright sunny day with clear blue skies and strong winds. We docked at Nassau, Bahamas and realised immediately that the difference between Caribbean beaches and Asian beaches was that the former lacked the humidity which characterized the latter. The sea breeze in Bahamas was cold and we did not feel sweaty or sticky on the beach. 

We left the cruise to explore Nassau, Bahamas. We did some research before our trip and read that Nassau had a pretty scary reputation, especially in the Over-the-Hill areas where violent crimes happened frequently. The general advice for tourists was to stick to areas near the port or travel across the bridge into Paradise Island. 


We spent the afternoon at Senor Frogs which served awesome cocktails and had an infectious happy party vibe. Certainly no better way to enjoy the perfect weather than with a delicious cocktail and catchy music!





After all the drinks and snacks, we continued walking into the downtown area along the coast. We explored the Straw Market which resembled an indoor pasar malam with little stores selling various handcrafted goods. It was dark inside, warm and surprisingly humid. I read some online stories about how tourists could be robbed inside the Straw Market but we were thankfully safe. These handcrafted goods were extraordinarily expensive though, totally targeting the American tourists, so we left after strolling through the market without buying any. After exiting, we went down the road towards Junkanoo Beach and popped by various souvenir shops along the way. 

I also observed a number of rather odd things in this part of Nassau. I did not see many locals along the street, aside from the ones in the shops and Straw Market. The street was pretty isolated and only a handful of vehicles went around. The whole place was geared towards the tourists from the cruise and the shops were shuttered once tourists began returning to the cruise. Many shops were selling Cuban cigars and lots of touts were prowling the street pestering tourists to buy the cigars. And by pestering, I really mean that. A young tout followed us for like 5 minutes asking us to buy cigars and refused to leave.



Junkanoo Beach was crowded with tourists so we hopped onto a taxi and headed to Cabbage Beach in Paradise Island. Cabbage Beach was nice with its powdery white sand and the long stretch of sand meant that tourists were evenly distributed and not lumped together as with Junkanoo. Waves were very strong here though and I was repeatedly washed ashore when I attempted to soak in the waters. We eventually gave up and decided to rest on the sand, listening to our ipod and drifting off to sleep. I read a little, wrote some post cards, and had a fantastic relaxing late afternoon. 


Took the taxi ($4 per pax) back to the port and ran up to the top deck of the cruise just in time for this magnificent sunset. The only other sunset which could rival this was in Boracay. Nowhere else comes close.


We washed up and headed to the main dining room for formal night, basically a night where everybody dressed up and ate yummy food. We obviously did not have enough space in our luggage to bring nice dresses or suits so we did the best we could, but everybody else was dressed to kill. The food was great as usual.

After our dinner, we went back to our room to drink our moscato (we were allowed to bring two bottles of wine on the cruise each) before checking out the poolside party. The poolside party was incredibly tame and child-friendly, not the clubbing sort, and everybody was line dancing to pop music under the starry night. Ok not our cup of tea, so we left for the Viking Crown Lounge hoping for some clubbing atmosphere but nope, it was dead, there were only 10 people in there and the dance floor was empty. 

Eventually we brought our Pinot to the poolside to enjoy the relatively better music and played ping pong. Playing ping pong with alcohol in our systems had to be the most hilarious thing on earth. It was so exciting because the ball flew everywhere and we could hardly get it across the net to the other side and I recall the guys did a lot of running to retrieve the balls. Party music ended at 1 am so we returned to our room, went over to Stef and King's side to drink prosecco, watch anime, laugh loudly at ridiculous things, and listen to ipod music. Woohoo! Was a great time.