Monday, 13 March 2017

Something just like this

"Where'd you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I'm not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts
Some superhero
Some fairytale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can miss"

Somebody who will accompany me to send my phone into the Samsung service centre, somebody who will treat me to dinner on Friday because I just spent $470 on my screen, (bloody hell, I didn't know LCD screens were so expensive until today), somebody whose brother lent me a spare phone (yay, thanks LG!), and somebody who will meet me after work to pick up my phone on a Monday night sans car. 

Painful expensive lesson to learn that curved screens are extremely vulnerable. But glad that I have someone to whine to :)

The Bakehouse by Carpenter & Cook

There are times when Zg and I have no movies we would like to watch, no window shopping we would like to do, and no particular place we would like to visit. Those are the times we would drive to Ikea and roam around randomly, dreaming up the design of our future home. We really enjoyed doing this even before we secured a place of our own, and those were the days when we lamented our BTO queue number (or more accurately the lack thereof), and built castles in the air.

We usually eat at the hawker centre nearby (the charsiew rice and avocado milkshake are extremely yums), or at the atas coffeeshop (also known as Salut Coffeeshop). But one fine day we discovered that the Bakehouse was on the Entertainer App! Hurray to discounted food!

The Bakehouse by Carpenter & Cook was quiet when we entered during dinner time. A few tables were occupied but it was pretty easy to get a table. We settled down and studied the menu (i.e. find out what were the mains that qualified for the one-for-one).

Truffle fries ($8). Good and fragrant. I do prefer thicker fries so this worked for me, but Zg preferred thin fries. But generally, still a good bowl of delicious fries.

Crabmeat Linguine ($22). I am generally very fond of crabmeat pasta and this was a pretty good one. Definitely not as generous as Habitat Coffee in terms of the serving of crabmeat, but still presentable.

Pasta di Mare ($25). The usual seafood pasta which was good too. Fresh seafood, al dente pasta. But I prefer the crabmeat linguine because of... my inherent bias towards crabmeat pasta!

A good place to drop by for a meal after shopping for furniture or household items at Ikea!

321 Alexandra Rd #01-14, 
Alexandra Central Mall, 159971
6250 0040
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 10 pm
Saturday: 9 am to 10 pm
Sunday: 9 am to 9 pm

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Cherry Blossom Viewing in Osaka, Japan

We stayed in Hotel Monterey Osaka which was where I stayed the last time I visited Osaka with my family. Loved the location of the hotel, and all the food outlets and shopping centres within walking distance. We also enjoyed the European design in our hotel grounds and snapped some lovely photos!

Osaka is a great place for food and some shopping, but not really the best for cherry blossom viewing. We found a great spot at Tempozan but that was about it. That said, we had a great time eating lots of tako balls and okonomiyaki, and exploring Dotonburi together!

Osaka Castle

Not a spectacular site for cherry blossom viewing and, while I liked the place, I would not recommend it as a top cherry blossom viewing spot in Osaka. But Osaka Castle is a must-visit in Osaka anyway, so just drop by and snap some pictures. 

Tempozan Park

A completely spontaneous find. We were in the area for Legoland when Zg pointed out that there was a park nearby with cherry blossoms so we walked around and searched for the place. We were so happy when we found it because it was simply amazing. The best part of Tempozan Park had to be that it was completely empty when we reached in the late afternoon. Most of the cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka were so crowded by mid-day that we had to make plans to wake up at the crack of dawn to avoid the crowd. Yet here it was, a park with beautiful cherry blossoms and not a soul in sight! I love the view of the cherry blossoms in front of the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel. 

3-2 Chikko, Minato-kuOsaka 552-0021Osaka Prefecture

The trip with Zg to view the cherry blossoms in Japan was an incredible one. We ate so much yummy food, took a million pictures, and had so many lovely memories together. Am also starting to see the perks of sleeping and waking early to avoid the crowd and enjoy the beautiful sights without having to jostle with a bunch of other tourists. It also allowed me to be so much more well-rested during this trip. 

Will never forget all the happy moments oooo-ing and ahhh-ing at the cherry blossoms together! :)

For our cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo and Kyoto, click on the links. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Omakase at Bistro Du Le Pin

Made a reservation for dinner at Bistro Du Le Pin for an omakase dinner with Zg, Stef and King. It was our first time there and we were surprised to find that the place was tucked away in a quiet corner in Orchard Plaza. It was a very small and cozy restaurant, and we settled down into our seats along the counter.

Potato salad with mentaiko. 

Burrata cheese with tomato.

Crab cake. I really liked this dish because it was full of fresh crab meat.

Fresh oysters.

Cannot remember what this was so I guess it must have been rather forgettable (oops).

Parma ham carved off the leg sitting at the other end of the counter.

Asparagus, corn, scallop, uni and ikura. This was simple but really delicious.

Fish on a bed of greens.

Prawns in a thick creamy sauce. I had no idea what the sauce was, but it made me want to lick the bowl. 

Beef. Zg, Stef and King were very happy with the beef.

I had pork on the other hand and it was SUPERB. Just the right amount of juicy fats without being too oily. I also liked the sauteed mushrooms!

Vongole for 2 pax. Very generous with the clams and the pasta, but oh my goodness, this was definitely an overkill. We were so full from the earlier courses that we could hardly finish the pasta. 

A delicious omakase dinner with great company in a nice cozy restaurant. I think this is a place you would enjoy if you like a small, no frills restaurant serving wonderful food at affordable prices.

150 Orchard Road
Orchard Plaza

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.

For cherry blossom viewing in Osaka, visit here.