Category Archives: Food Reviews – Singapore

BoxGreen: Delicious and Healthy Snacking

[*SPONSORED POST] Mothering is hard work and I often find myself starved of time for a proper meal. It’s non-stop action from daybreak in this home and I often have to wolf down a slice of plain bread and a glass of water whilst trying to stop my incredibly active toddler from diving off the high chair at breakfast, and then have pathetic morsels of lunch whilst carry out the same heroic act of saving said toddler from potential injury. The only time when I can really sit down in peace is after E has gone to bed. That’s when I have dinner with my preschooler, F, who is quite good at staying put during mealtimes, and my husband, M. It comes as no surprise that I have been eating the less healthy way, as I load up on disproportionately larger dinner portions than that for breakfast and lunch.

Owing to a lack of fuel from pathetic breakfasts and lunches, I usually am famished by the time the clock strikes three. That’s also when E is done napping by my side (yes, little one can’t nap without me), and when we need to leave home to pick F up from school, so I only have time to manage a few sips of water and wolf down some individually wrapped pieces of chocolate or biscuits. Nope, I don’t like to have fruits on a near-empty stomach as I tend to feel nauseated and gassy after that, so I only munch on fruits at dinner. And the lack of solid meals in the earlier part of the day has left me craving for sinful foods.

Often times, I dream of having a good tea break. I know it will get me through the day in a much better mood to last until the kids’ bedtimes, but there just isn’t any time to stop for a breather, lack alone for some healthy grub. I know the sugar from biscuits or chocolates doesn’t help in stabilising my glucose levels, but they are the most convenient AND yummy snacks I have!


When BoxGreen contacted me to try out their healthy, portion-controlled snacks, I agreed, more for my husband than for myself though, because I thought they would be blander than the sinful stuff I like to munch on. Who knew that I wound up liking the snacks so much that I told my husband off for finishing everything that came in my subscription box?!
BoxGreen2 Each subscription box (for individuals; $19.90 per box) comes with 4 types of snacks made with natural ingredients, with 3 controlled, nutritionist-approved portions each. All packs are sealed for the snacks to stay fresh, and they are super handy to bring around. One can choose from over 3o types of snacks (they really do sound delicious; I wish I could have tried When Life Gives You Yuzu, Smoky BBQ Crunch, Rocky Pecan Brittle, just to name a few) and can opt to have the box delivered to you once a week, once every fortnight, or once a month! Here’s a rundown of what I received:


1. Quirky Quinoa Puffs & Friends (Organic quinoa puff, honey sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, baked almond; 30g ; 154.0 cal): These taste like rice crispies but are obviously healthier as the puffs are made from protein-rich quinoa. I love, love the slightly salted honey sunflower seeds which add good flavour to the toasty bits.

2. Raspberry Choco Rhapsody (Freeze dried raspberry, baked almond, white chocolate; 25g ; 139.4 cal): I absolutely love this! The slightly tart raspberries tempers the sweet white chocolate, bitter cocoa and nutty almonds. An exploration of flavours was what this was! The chocolate-coated freeze-dried raspberries were melty, and provides a lovely textural contrast to the crunchy almonds. Thumbs up for this one.

3. The Amazing Amaranth Cluster (Puffed amaranth, raisin, raw sugar, gum Arabic; 20g; 68.2 cal): To be honest,  I am little skeptical about this as I don’t appreciate the flavour of amaranth and I am not a fan of raisins, but the textural contrast between brittle amaranth clusters and nougaty raisin is its saving grace. But husband and kids love this, and the biggest of the lot says it tastes good with yogurt. The youn rugrats were fighting over the last clusters. Well, not for me.


4. Twilight Cherry Express (Freeze dried cherry, dark chocolate; 30g; 156.6 cal): The cherries are wonderfully tart and the freeze-dried texture encased in melty dark chocolate is right up my alley. I can’t decide if I like this more than Raspberry Choco Rhapsody!

The portions are nutritionist-approved and controlled for. They are on the smaller side for someone who eats with wild abandon like me, so I’d imagine pairing them with yogurt would work better for me until I get used to having smaller snack portions.

For people who are looking for convenient and healthy ways to snack, whilst taking the brainwork out of going through what is actually healthy in the market, I reckon the BoxGreen subscription box service will work wonderfully. It is inexpensive, and one can control the frequency of subscription. It doesn’t hurt, at all, that the snacks are actually delicious and that they are far, far removed from tasting like hamster feed. BoxGreen has convinced me that healthy snacking can be delicious too, and that we don’t have to succumb to sugary or sinful treats to satiate our appetite for tasty food! You would be glad to know that with every BoxGreen sold, the company donates a meal equivalent to Willing Hearts, a soup kitchen that helps out the less privileged in Singapore. Double win! You can also pool your resources with your colleagues or friends and get the BoxGreen Team Box; it can be a group or custom one, and everyone can get snacking together!

If you would like to give BoxGreen a try, use my code pleasuremonger to get 30% off your first subscription box. This code does not ever expire and applies only for your first box, and if you are getting the individual subscription, your first box only amounts to $13.93 for 12 packs of snacks. Seems like a pretty good and wholesome deal to me!

*I was gifted a BoxGreen subscription box for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.


A Seductive Lunch at Catalunya

Have I told you lately that I miss my life in London? The lifestyle, entertainment and numerous gateways to the rest of Europe. The freedom to live, breathe, drink and taste whatever we wanted at affordable prices. The broad spectrum of everything that Europe has to offer. Oh yes, I sorely miss that part of my life and have been whining to my husband about how I may never make it to that part of the world again, especially since the baby will be arriving soon. I whined again on Saturday night before falling asleep. After waking up to the blistering heat of Singapore the next morning, I casually flipped the local papers over breakfast and was pleasantly gripped by a review on the newest restaurant to hit the dining scene in Singapore. Something about some place called Catalunya, helmed by Chef Alain Devahive Tolosa who spent a decade in the kitchens of El Bulli. My eyes glazed over at the words Catalunya and El Bulli. Before I knew it, my eyes were skimming over the treats Catalunya has to offer, and it was fastest fingers first on my mobile to make a reservation. You see, my biggest regret in the foodie part of my life was having missed the opportunity to dine at El Bulli. I’ve already got Fat Duck under my belt, but *wails* what about El Bulli?! Ever since it closed, I knew I would die a regretful woman but no, I couldn’t possibly let that slide, could I?

I wasted no time in getting a table for two at Catalunya. We were there a swift two days later for lunch…talk about being efficient. What can I say? When it comes to food, nothing stands in my way, not even the nearing due date of a certain baby or the aches and pains that prevent me from getting off the bed, let alone out of the house.

It was a blazing hot afternoon. We got a little lost looking for The Fullerton Pavilion which houses Catalunya and had to make a huge detour just to park our car rightfully at One Fullerton. The pavilion was merely a short walk away but the heat was rather offensive and I couldn’t wait to get to the restaurant. On arrival, we were greeted by no less than five ladies at the door and were promptly ushered to our seats. Catalunya was about 70% full on a weekday lunch service, not bad for a two-week old restaurant with the office crowd, the occasional businessmen and ladies of leisure. The decor was decent (it didn’t wow me though) and I can see its potential for dinner service, as the pavilion overlooks the bay onto MBS and the night views are bound to dazzle. I did like the way natural light streamed into the pavilion – I kinda enjoy looking at my food when I eat. Catalunya did disappoint in one aspect – it was way too stuffy in the restaurant. It was much cooler and way more pleasant in the bar area closer to the entrance, but the double-volume space in the restaurant area hampers sufficient ventilation and both M and I found ourselves feeling rather hot under the collar ten minutes in.

The food, however, was more than enough to make up for our stuffy afternoon at Catalunya. I might be biased but I have long been enamoured by Basque and Catalan cuisines. My favourite holidays were spent in San Sebastián and Barcelona (yet to blog about) and really, I would kill to relive those times. Catalunya managed to bring these memories back to me. It didn’t wow me as much as I would have been (I reckon) if I had the chance to dine at El Bulli, but the chefs did enough to get me excited. We ordered a good mix of dishes that showcased the prowess of molecular gastronomy and those that sealed the deal that was traditional Catalan cuisine.

The tomato tartar confit and deconstructed tortilla were delightful glimpses into what-might-have-been over at El Bulli’s. The confit was pleasantly tart, surprisingly beefy (even though it’s probably only finely chopped roasted tomatoes) and nicely tampered with a touch of crushed capers, salt, pepper and olive oil. It made for a very refreshing start to a meal, and paired nicely with the wafer-thin toasts. The deconstructed tortilla has the Spanish omelette taken apart down to a T – a layer of sweet onion purée is topped with a dollop of smooth and rich egg yolk sabayon and finished with potato foam. It was a playful appetiser that I really enjoyed, although I would have added a touch of chorizo as I am partial to having that in the tortillas I make at home, but that’s just my personal preference (and my way is probably not very authentic in terms of flavours).

The croquettes were worth fighting bulls over. What’s not to love about piping hot croquettes with an incredibly crisp and light batter encasing a creamy, dreamy bechamel filling of my favourite jamón, smooth cheese and butter? I could have had more of these if they didn’t cost $12 for 4 pieces. The canelón was recommended by the server and we had no regrets chomping it down. The portion was a little small at $19 (I would have expected at least two pieces for that price), but I have to say the roasted pork was subtly divine and meaty, even in that small quantity, underneath that thin pasta.

We moved on to share the veal fricandó, which was a tad disappointing in terms of portion size and flavour. A new dish on the menu (it debuted for the second day when we were there), there was something lacking in the fricandó that would have made it a very hearty, flawless dish. Whilst it was savoury and rich, I thought it would have been better if the sweetness of carrots and caramelised shallots came through a little more. The veal was tender, but not quite as tender as the braised beef cheek I had at Bistro Du Vin recently (I know I shouldn’t compare as these are different types of dishes, but I prefer the meats in stews to fall apart when I tuck into it). The whole shallots were undercooked and hence too hard. For $55, I would have expected more veal than tripe, mushrooms and shallots. The real winner was the smoked mashed potatoes though. Smooth, creamy, rich and lightly smoked with what I suspect was the flavour of bacon, it was the perfect accompaniment (and saviour) to the veal.

We couldn’t leave without having dessert; after all, Catalunya is steered by chefs coming from all sorts of wonderful restaurants including Sketch in London, which is famed for its sweets. We had the torrija with smoked milk ice cream to share. Torrija, which means fried milk bread, is a divine piece of work. Soft, achingly tender, moist and wonderfully infused with a good dose of citrus, it went perfectly well with the crumble and milk ice cream, which has interestingly been smoked with charcoal. Eaten alone, the milk ice cream was a little too ‘charred’ and weird for me, but it worked as the perfect companion to the citrusy fried milk bread and caramelised orange peel. I would have this again in a heartbeat.

It’s a shame that we didn’t quite have the budget to go for more tapas and to try the Catalan creme for dessert. Even though the prices are comparable to what we were used to paying for a good meal in London, we have been a little more cautious about spending on food as we tend to be able to get cheap and good grub in different corners of Singapore. We probably need a shove in our mindset about paying ‘London prices’ for food in Singapore but for now, Catalunya will remain a once-in-a-while-special-occasion kinda place to dine at. I hope to visit again, this time for dinner, to enjoy a decent slice of Catalan against the breathtaking backdrop of the glittery bay.

*Updated: This post is featured on Tastespotting. Check out my profile on  Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

Photolog: Singapore Eating Spree

[Food Photolog that is not suitable for viewing if you’re, well, ferociously hungry.]

I have been eating lots, but I have also been suffering from tummy upsets. It’s probably a sign that I should stop eating – but other than the 2-day hiatus I took earlier this week because I was ill, I’ve been packing the calories in since. I’m eating like I would never eat again, and it’s truly getting a little disturbing. Oh well, I’m a Singaporean and our national hobby is eating, so I’m not to blame! Besides, we can’t get all this in London; even if we do, the local food is just not in the same league. Right, I’m running out of excuses as to why I’m putting on weight, the food in Singapore is just too good to miss out. I’ll show you why.

[Some photos were taken with my DSLR, others with the iPhone because I have been rather self-conscious about whipping my DSLR out. I’ve invited odd stares and/or feel that my family and friends shouldn’t have to put up with my ‘don’t touch the food until I photographed it’ ways…for now at least, until I return for good. So yes, this wasn’t all that I ate! =p]

We’re back in time for the onslaught of mooncakes since mid-Autumn festival is just around the corner – dropped by Raffles Hotel to pick up the very delectable champagne truffle (top) and durian (bottom) snowskin mooncakes. I also got some baked mooncakes which I honestly think are done better elsewhere. The mooncakes are rather expensive at Raffles Hotel (I splurged an obscene amount, even the staff were amused) but thumbs up for the super soft snowskin and I reckon these made for perfect gifts! I’ve been eating too much so I’m abstaining from the superb durian snowskin mooncakes from Peony Jade this year, all for the sake of the ones from Raffles Hotel! *exasperated*

After weeks of planning, I finally met up with the lovely ladies, Yann of Yannisms, Sherie of Maameemoomoo, Z of Scribbles and Snapshots  and  J of Lady J’s musings who also kindly played host to us! We made ondeh ondeh with Sherie’s guidance – check out how perky they look! I gobbled 5 of these in one sitting, and mind you, they were huge! We also feasted on mooncakes, chocolates, and Sherie’s homemade sweet potato tarts – this was right before a massive family dinner. *burps*

I wandered round Chinatown yesterday (bought nothing from Sia Huat, can you believe it?!), and stopped by Maxwell for some snacks – good ol’ Rojak and Popiah – both of which were superbly done! We had this about 2 hours before the epic dinner I tweeted about yesterday.

We chanced upon Ah Balling peanut and black sesame dumplings in Chinatown, and also had these right about 2 hours before dinner.

Moving on to Thomson Road to meet our newlywed friends, we couldn’t resist sharing youtiao (dough fritters) and Rochor soya beancurd half an hour before dinner with them.

Have I also mentioned that I was munching on Garrett Popcorn on our way to Thomson?

FYI, this was just 80% of our epic dinner yesterday at Mellben Seafood (top to bottom: Chilli crabs, crab bee hoon soup, Penang durians, mangosteens).

Salivating yet? Right, shan’t torture you with more blown-up photos. Click on the gallery below, at your own risk!

Check out my other food adventures!

Singapore Takeout (and Lady Gaga (S)takeout)

This morning, I woke up with a hangover from an overdose of gastronomic delights that I’ve had this week. What am I talking about? There is no such thing as an overdose of good food! Okay, scratch that and let me sober up so we can start over.

I was invited to the media luncheon for the Singapore Takeout which was held at London’s Southbank yesterday. Every fibre of my being was wriggling with excitement as the days led up to this event; I don’t want to go too much into the details but you would know why I feel this way if you’ve come across this post. As I got out of Waterloo station, the sky looked ominous. One wrong turn and a huge detour later, I found myself hugging my bag (which held my precious camera and extra lens) for dear life, battling my arthritic umbrella and willing it to workdammit, so I could get to the Takeout without actually having to swim in the Thames. It seemed like a bad way to start, and I was half-wishing that I should not have turned up.

But the day got infinitely better, the minute I stepped into the gazebo where Singapore Takeout was at. I shook off the rain, was offered a drink, whipped out my camera and got into the groove of meeting fellow bloggers and journalists. Things started to get into action, quite literally so, when we were treated to the unveiling of the shipping-container-turned-pop-up-kitchen, all this as we licked some wickedly creamy Chilli Chocolate Corals (inspired by the dead corals she saw when she was working with the Arzaks in San Sebastián and also by Singaporean’s love of chillithat Chef Janice Wong (owner and chef of 2am:dessertbar in Singapore) had prepared off our spoons! You could obviously tell that I was quivering with excitement from the blurred photo of the corals…There was no better way to kick off this event in the rain, with some velvety smooth dark chocolate cream and some pleasant heat that comes through at the back of your throat. I was duly impressed by Janice’s opening act.

Introductions by Chef Janice and Chef Peter Gordon (owner and chef of The Providores & Tapa Room) were in order, both of whom have created the 9-course menu that made for a very sumptuous lunch. Stories flew from kitchen to floor, the most memorable of which was how Chef Janice went through 72 hours of voluntary blindness to explore her palette and to take her imagination beyond. She even showed us how she printed her favourite poem using transfer sheets on to the laksa broth paper which made an appearance on our main course (excellent by the way, more on that later)! This young woman is indeed serious about the food that she creates and I couldn’t be more curious on what she was going to serve up.

After the food demonstration by Janice, we were ushered to our seats at the table for a meal that will soon make me so proud of Singapore. Granted, the menu wasn’t completely Singaporean; the dishes were created with the flavours of Singapore as a springboard; you could see that both chefs had given a modern interpretation to what Singaporean grub is. Having lived in London for a few years now, I haven’t been able to see how Singaporean cuisine evolved in recent years and I was just delighted to be able to witness this in the presence of esteemed, most unassuming and motivated chefs.

Take Janice for example, she told us how she laid awake till 3am the night before (as she had too much coffee) and jumped out of bed dreaming of serving a four-cheese laksa as an amuse bouche for this luncheon. How crazy is that? By the way, it worked brilliantly. I was a little skeptical when she told us about it, but one mouthful was all it took to convince me that her caffeinated instinct was spot-on! I wish we had more of the those.

To start, Peter served up an interesting twist to our street food favourite (oyster omelette), in the form of a green chilli omelette with a poached oyster, crab, mango, crispy shallots and coriander. This was refreshing on the palette, although a slightly wayward for me as it hinted more of Thai than Singaporean influences.

Janice then took us back to Chinese New Year, a festival that is most well-associated with copious amounts of food, with her clean and floral take on Yu Sheng. She had just returned from a stint at the Noma lab, and we were given a real treat when she served up cured tangy sashimi with delightfully fragrant herbs and flowers she foraged with the team at Noma. The plating was pretty as a picture and showcased her flair for creating visual dynamic and equally delish cuisine.

For our main course, Peter treated us to some five-spice infused pork belly (that was brined for 24 hours, steamed, baked, pressed and chilled before being deep-fried) and peanuts with rice, cucumber and chilli roasted pineapple. The pineapple was slightly reminiscent of the achar (pickled vegetables). This dish also reminded me of the strong, deep and fragrant Nonya flavours that I have come to miss.

After this, a refreshing sorbet that was made from rice infused with lemongrass was served as a palette cleanser. White and incredibly pristine, it looked every bit as light as it looked. I really loved this and again, wished we could have more of it. This is another of Janice’s creations by the way (what can’t she create, honestly?!).

Janice wow-ed us further with her lemongrass infused laksa dumplings with handmade noodles for our second main. Some have warned us that this wasn’t a traditional take on the usual laksa we are accustomed to, but I didn’t care, because this was miles better. Janice packed a tonne of pleasant heat and lemongrass into the laksa broth, which turned out to be quite the perfect soup to me. The poem-printed laksa paper was a fun and thoughtful touch as it brought more flavour to the dish in an unexpected form. I also loved that she added chive flowers to the laksa, which were not only pretty, but lent a good kick to the broth. This was easily my favourite dish of the day. Janice did joke about how relieved she was as she brought on the dessert course, but hey Janice, if you’re reading this, you have nothing to worry about because you did a fantastic job on the savoury courses!

Now I was really looking forward to dessert after the main courses, we’ve seen plenty of flair in the dishes before and since I am an aspiring home pastry ‘chef’, I was very, very keen on what followed. Peter spoke of his love for chendol and created the Pandan Ginger Tapioca with Sherry Agar Jelly, Lychees, Strawberries and Almond Coconut Cream for this. I really liked the tapioca pearls which were richly flavoured with pandan and boasted distinct ginger notes, although I thought it could have done without the lychees and strawberries to keep the flavours simple. I will be bookmarking the pandan and ginger combination, however, for future recipes in my kitchen.

Since Janice is a pastry chef, I could hardly wait for her creations. Her take on Popcorn Nostalgia (first picture in this entry) was spot-on and incredibly fun with the duo of sweet and salty popcorn ice cream served with yuzu parfait and salted caramel. I cleaned off my plate very quickly once I tucked in, although I could hardly bare to destroy the work of art she has created on the plate before I picked up my dessert spoon. She also put a spin to the sticky toffee pudding by making it with gula melaka and serving it up with a dab of vanilla-rish kaya – very rich, very deep and my only complaint was the portion was too small!

As I mentioned to one of the PR consultants, I came away from the luncheon feeling very proud of Singapore. Our flavours have transcended boundaries and made its way into the global scene, and I feel confident enough to say that we are good at what we whip up, whether its street food or modern Singaporean cuisine. People are excited at exploring the tastes and textures of Singapore street food, and many renowned chefs that I’ve spoken to over the last year, such as Jason Atherton and Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, are inspired by our flavours. I can’t wait to return to Singapore to properly witness the old and new coming together in our culinary history.

But for now, I shall say to you that the Singapore Takeout in London is only here for one more day (today!), you might be able to make it for lunch now, or dinner (admission is free and you get two complimentary dishes, whilst stocks last), so head down if I’ve got you curious! I urge you to do so!

Swing by at:

London’s South Bank, The Riverside Walkway (by Gabriel’s Wharf), South Bank, London SE1 9PP

Admission times are:

11th June 2011: 12.15pm – 3pm, or 5.30pm to 7.45pm

Singapore Takeout will be travelling to Paris next, and 7 other countries after that, so check out the Singapore Eats Facebook page for more details!

I leave you with a picture of three manly butts that I spotted after the event. Lady Gaga was recording a show at the ITV studio, which was behind the Singapore Takeout venue, and I was merely (s)taking out the Lady Gaga (s)takeout! Now I wonder if Lady Gaga stopped by for the laksa….she might get her claws out for that!

*Updated: This post has been featured on Foodgawker. Check out my profile on Foodgawker to see my other featured posts!

Also check out my other food adventures!

Fundraising for Japan – A Success, And Yes, We Have A Winner!

Thanks to your generous donations, The Pleasure Monger’s fundraising event for Japan was a success! We may have fell short of the £2000 target, but we did raise a whopping £1510, which amounts to 76% of our target! To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anyone would donate when I organised this, but a number of you did; the funds that we’ve raised together are so much more than I could ever give on my own. I’m grateful for your support and I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The fundraising page that I’ve set up on JustGiving will run till 2016, so please continue to drop a pound or two to help the victims of the earthquake in Japan. I’m sure everyone knows that the people in Japan are still suffering from the aftermath. For people like us who can’t be there to deliver aid, we can help in other ways. Yesterday evening, I was just thinking how wonderful it would be if everyone who stops by this blog could give a pound or spare some change; we could very well raise £20000 in a month! And then we have other bloggers who are trying their best to raise funds (read the updates at the bottom of this post for more details on how you can get involved), bloggers who are way more popular, prolific and well-known than I am, and if every reader of theirs give a pound for every post they read, they could raise so much more. That £1 makes such little difference to us, but for the victims, every penny counts and the success of the fundraiser thus far proves that we can pool our resources together and make a HUGE difference. So please continue to give, within your means, to any of the avenues that are most accessible to you.

Now, let’s realise the promise I made. When I organised the fundraiser, I said that I would pledge a USD100 Amazon gift card to one lucky donor so long as he/she donates before 31 March 2011 (GMT2359h). So today, I used the random integer generator on to pick a winner and the gift card goes to…….


I’ll be in touch in the next few minutes with an Amazon email containing the gift card. Congratulations and thank you for your donation!



Fundraising for Japan

Dear readers,

In light of the recent events that hit Japan, I have started a fundraising page on JustGiving to raise some money for the disaster relief efforts. My nominated charity is ShelterBox, which is rallying resources to help the people in Japan. Temporary shelters are getting increasingly overcrowded right now, and if you’ve read the news, many have died in the bitter cold. The Japanese authorities are requesting ShelterBox to deliver emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to the north of Japan. Thousands of boxes of such supplies are either in Japan or ready to be mobilised now, and we can help to deliver to the needs of the homeless in Japan. Please, let’s not leave them out in the freezing temperatures, and let’s work to give them a home and some warmth, literally and figuratively.

Anyone can donate, you only need a debit or credit card to do so. I can’t make a difference on my own, so instead of donating the money directly to charity, I am pledging a USD100 Amazon gift card to this fundraising event. I will randomly select the gift card recipient (using from the list of people who donate on my fundraising page before 31 March 2011 (2359h GMT). By giving a little incentive, I hope that this will boost numbers a little and make the event worthwhile.  The gift card can be used on and I will email it to you before 10 April 2011. I will also announce the winner on this blog.

Please note that whilst I am not allowed to publicise this gift card raffle on my JustGiving page (as I am bound by terms and conditions), anyone who donates on my page, with a valid email address, will be eligible for this raffle. In order for me to contact you, please make sure you make your email address available to me on the JustGiving fundraising page.

Thank you for your help. Please also spread the word around, the success of this fundraising event relies on our collective effort.

Updated: I would also like to bring your attention to other avenues of donation. Some of my food blogger friends have set up an initiative called Bento4Japan, they have very generously put up some bento-related items up for auction on eBay. Please visit this site and start bidding! Or you can visit meemalee’s kitchen to have a look, she has written a nice summary of how you can help the people in Japan. Chika of the very beautiful blog, She Who Eats, is also giving away sakura ingredients to raise funds for Japan.

P/S: The fundraising page will be active till 2016, but only donors who contributed to this page before 31 March 2011 (2359h GMT) will be considered for the raffle. I am doing this because I am trying to encourage as many people to donate soon as the relief efforts are ongoing and urgently needed – WE HAVE A WINNER!


The Highs and Lows of Marina Bay Sands

During our holidays in Singapore, I was without a passport and we were unable to go on trips to neighbouring countries. I am a sucker for hotel stays (no need to clean up after myself, soft white sheets to sleep on, luxurious bathrooms to preen in) so we took the opportunity and pulled some strings to get ourselves a room, rather cheaply, at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), one of the two integrated resorts in Singapore. I was pretty psyched up, even though it was merely a night’s stay at the resort, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers; it was the only kind of holiday we were entitled to without a passport in hand.

I had high hopes, but unfortunately, our mini-vacation was peppered with hits and misses. Perhaps we were clueless in the Bayfront Avenue area, but we thought the signage for the hotel carpark was rather misleading. We ended up in the carpark for The Shoppes, and took the longest walk through the mall to get to MBS. When we finally got to MBS, I had no idea that I was in for the worst check-in of my life. We were ushered to the private check-in area away from the reception at the lobby. We stepped into the office and were courteously told to sit in the waiting area just outside the office, as the two receptionists were busy with other hotel guests. This was fine by us. We were also told that we would be served next. Then three big and burly men with flashy gold Rolexes marched straight into the office, and the minute the hotel guests in the office left, this group of men was served. Seeing that our queue was cut, we walked in and told the receptionist that we were next in line, and that we should be served first. Guess what the receptionist said? ‘Oh but you were waiting OUTSIDE the office, these men were IN the office when the previous guests left’. And then we said, ‘But you told us to wait OUTSIDE.’ You would have expected an apology next, but no, we were rudely ignored, and she went back to checking the men in instead. I was choked with anger. We left in a huff and checked in at the reception instead, and mind you, that was WAY quicker than if we were to wait in the private check-in area. If anyone from MBS is reading this, please kindly revise the kind of customer service you’re providing.

I was determined not to let the check-in issue ruin my stay, so we quickly went upstairs to our room and settled down. I was happy that the room is incredibly spacious and clean with two huge beds and an unobstructed view of the city skyline. The photo doesn’t look it but I practically whistled at the size of the bathroom; there was a private shower area, an enclosed toilet stall, and a bathtub right in the middle of the bathroom complete with his-and-hers sinks. Call me a country bumpkin, but hey, we don’t get this in European hotels unless we go bankrupt living in suites! The room also comes well-stocked with TWG Tea, which by the way, is really good and even better than some varieties of tea we have in the UK.

Not to waste another minute of our stay, we ventured out to The Shoppes. Many boutiques were still under renovation, but we were pleased that The Shoppes was not crowded. Having braved the packs at ION and Takashimaya, I was beginning to develop a fear for human beings, and it was nice to be able to browse through shops without bodily contact. I was particularly happy with Sephora and also picked up two pairs of shoes from Pazzion. We also swung by the food court to have a look (really expensive) and popped into the celebrity chefs’ restaurants to have a look at the menus. Exhausted from shopping, we returned to the hotel in the evening to meet my folks, bought some macarons from Sweetspot (which were really disappointing, they were more like sandwiched cookies than macarons), and went up to the Skypark pool to have a look. The view was nice-ish, and it was pleasantly cool up there. But it was a wee bit crowded and we left soon after for dinner at db Bistro Moderne at The Shoppes.

Some of you who have been following my blog for sometime might remember that I was in NYC during Christmas in 2009 and we, too, dined at db Bistro Moderne. I was less than impressed with the famed foie gras burger then but was otherwise quite happy with the other dishes we had. This time in Singapore (sorry no photos, because they turned out pretty badly in the dimly lit restaurant), I tried the coq au vin and was quite enamoured with the deep sticky sauce that smothered the tender chicken. My dad and brother tried the burger, which is surprisingly priced dollar-for-dollar; it was USD35 in NYC and costs only S$35 in Singapore. The burger however failed to impress again but the shoestring fries delighted all. Mum had the barramundi, which was pretty delish but the bouillabaisse that M ordered failed to please. With a 50% rate for hits and misses, I don’t think I would go back for the food (unless they get the Nantucket scallops in…..), but the service was very attentive, polite and professional. Thumbs up for that!

We ambled back to the hotel room for tea and macarons, admired the view for a bit (which is really more stunning from the room than from the Skypark), and said goodbye to my folks. I had a very good night’s sleep in the comfy bed, soaked excessively in bubble baths, and took a dip in the Skypark pool as well. Be warned though, the pool is insanely crowded and really quite cold! I didn’t last 15 minutes, and much preferred lounging in the room, reading a book on the chaise longue whilst admiring the view. That, and shopping at Sephora.

One more thing, if you are a hotel guest at MBS, and you parked at its carpark, remember to go to the valet service counter, tell them your room number and get a parking ticket for S$6 (per day). Remove your cashcard from the unit, slot this ticket in at the barrier, otherwise you will be in for a rude shock when you get out. This was something that the staff didn’t tell us about (can you believe that?), we knew about this only because my in-laws stayed over at MBS a while ago.

I would say that it was a mediocre stay. The room was great, and housekeeping was fabulous, but the check-in problem and the fact that no one told us about the carpark were both huge letdowns. When I asked the receptionists about the carpark rate for hotel guests and how I should redeem the ticket, no one seemed to know what I was talking about. They stared blankly at me and said they weren’t sure. I had to figure it out myself and hopped over to the valet service counter. The customer service leaves much to be desired, seeing as to how locals and tourists alike are flocking to the integrated resorts, these problems need to be rectified soon. Our resorts have got to be worth the hype. All I can say is MBS has been around for a while…even teething babies stop crying, so I can’t think of any excuses. Oh well, till the next stay then.

Read about eats I’ve had in Singapore.

Also check out my other food excursions and adventures around the world!



The Fat Dinner: Fried Chicken and Milkshake

When we were back in Singapore for Christmas, our itineraries were fraud with all sorts of food excursions, the types that are dangerous to our waistlines. Breakfast was typically a sumptuous hawker spread – Hokkien mee, char koay teow, chwee kuen, fried carrot cake, you name it, we had it. In short, some sort of hawker food permutation featured on our breakfast menu Lunch was either another round of hawker fare or a disproportionately huge one at some restaurant. Before we had time to even feel hungry, dinner came round with another massive onslaught of insanely good food that family and friends insisted on feeding us deprived souls. You would think that we had just returned from a famine-hit town, but no, we just ate like we returned from one. As a result, I put on 3kg over the holidays. M even dragged us both fatty bums up Bt Timah Hill in a bid to make us feel better about the next meal. Whilst I’m glad to have shed the pounds with regular gym and a healthier diet since, I am still recovering from the kind of food trauma that one could only get if he or she were in our shoes. Yes, I am still a little demented.

You would now go on to say that I should have exercised a little more self-control. And I will say to you that I could have (hmm, by the way this type of exercise doesn’t burn calories..), but you do know that there are some foods that you can’t say no to, right? In some countries, it’s rude to point at somebody. It others, it’s rude to not gesture furiously when you’re talking. To me, it’s just rude to wag my fingers at potentially good food. How can I ever deny my jelly belly *pats tum* a good meal? Diet and exercise can wait till the hols are over!

So of course we jumped up in excitement, wobbling tummies in tow, when my sister-in-law took us to Tras Street for a spot of finger-licking Korean fried chicken. We couldn’t say no to the promised land of crispy wings…

Said to be a popular lunch venue for the working crowd at Tanjong Pagar, we arrived at a rather empty restaurant on a Sunday night, thank goodness. Some of the diners were red-faced with some really aggressive slurping (hotpot, that is…). And some were just chilling with beer and a heap of fried chicken wings. We were clearly there to join the latter. Hands washed, food ordered, and some general banter later…this arrived.

Behold the Soy Garlic Chicken Wings. The sight of this alone made my salivary glands go into a state of unprecedented frenzy. I dived in like a piranha and emerged, declaring that it was some mind-blowing chicken. The skin was fried to a delicate crisp, generously coated with a sweet and savoury syrup, and gave way to the most succulent and moist chicken. The wings did get a little salty after a while, but there’s nothing like ice-cold refreshments to lighten that up. Besides it was nice to just chill, eat with our hands, lick our fingers and have an easy, casual, yet delicious dinner. We also ordered the kimchi pancake and the sweet and spicy wings. These didn’t impress me as much. The pancake was tasty but arrived slightly soggy at our table. The sweet and spicy wings were a little too tasty for me but I hear that this is a favourite with many diners. The chicken wings aren’t cheap, but the soy and garlic ones are worth a trip, if you ask me.

For dessert, us bottomless pits wandered over to Once Upon A Milkshake for a creamy afterthought. The stroll did well to digest ’em wings, and by the time we arrived, I was ready for a mini peanut butter milkshake. Excellent stuff, really, and this is coming from someone who has had really good milkshakes in NYC and London. It’s creamy, luscious, thick and chock full of peanut butter goodness, just the way I like my favourite milkshake.

We must have put on a kilo after this meal, but oh well, we’re talking about a fat dinner of fried chicken and milkshake, HOW TO RESIST?!! You tell me!

P/S:  I really hate not bringing the DSLR with me, all my food review pics are just hopeless. Bear with me until I find the courage to draw unnecessary attention to myself when I whip out the DSLR in restaurants…

Read about other eats I’ve had in Singapore.

Also check out my other food adventures around the world!

Kko Kko Nara Korean Restaurant is located at:

57 Tras Street #01-01 Singapore

Once Upon A Milkshake is located at:

Maxwell Chambers, 32 Maxwell Road #01-08, Singapore

Of Chocolates and Chips

On some days, I can’t make up my mind on what to have. You know how it feels, being painfully torn between two, sometimes three or even more types of food. But I think I’ve found the solution to commit the perfect food adultery, thanks to M&I again. Now we can all have the best of both worlds, and not feel like we’ve let anyone down.

Royce Potato Chip Chocolate

Behold potato chips that are drenched in chocolate from the ingenious people at ROYCE. I don’t know how long this has been around, and I don’t really care if I’m the only one left on earth who doesn’t know about this treat. I think they are so good, that they deserve some sort of a prose devoted to them on my blog.

Royce Potato Chip Chocolate

Sweet and salty, this fatal combination keeps me hot and bothered, and makes me clamour for more. The only two things that stop me are the costs, and the size of my jelly belly. It’s a good thing as well, I’m over the hill and it’s time to cut back on snacks. You know, survive on blandness for a bit (ewww). But once in a while, I still hope to enjoy these chocolate-covered chips, with style, grace and a few extra calories.

This, my dears, also marks the end of my food journey in Singapore. For now. I thoroughly enjoyed most things I ate when I was back. Till the next food trail on home ground, I’ll pester you with my incessant baking, cooking, and other food adventures in UK and beyond. That and my occasional têteà-tête.

Check out my other food adventures!

ROYCE Chocolate can be found at these locations.

A Tasty Piece of Home With Me

The Cookie Museum

Thanks to my sister-in-law and her boyfriend (M&I), I have a new favourite snack that I would like to bring back to London from Singapore, a snack that reminds me of home through and through. I might be slow in blogging about this, and everyone on the island has probably heard about it, but that isn’t going to stop me from singing praises about my personal favourite Tasty Piece of Home. And that is none other than the Hae Bee Hiam Cookies from The Cookie Museum.

For those of you who are not in the know, Hae Bee Hiam is the Hokkien dialect name for dried prawn sambal, a delicious, spicy and pungent condiment that Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese love. We usually throw it on all sorts of savoury dishes, and even eat it as a snack (wrapped in kind of a filo pastry) during Chinese New Year. The Cookie Museum has given a  new twist Hae Bee Hiam, and came up with the ingenious of incorporating it in cookies. Yes, cookies!

Now, we’re all very used to cookies being sweet. I was, admittedly, very skeptical when I heard about the Hae Bee Hiam cookies. But coming from M&I, who are foodies as much as I am, I knew this stuff had to be good for them to give it to us as a farewell present. So I went with my gut, ripped the pretty packaging off the minute I got into my London home and took a deep whiff. Ahhhhhh, this smells really mouthwatering. I took a bite, and oh gosh, it was so painful, because it was so good, so addictive, that I didn’t want to stop having another. There lies the contradiction of incredible demand and limited supply.

The cookie crumbles, actually it almost melts in the mouth, with a slight sweetness giving way to a true-blue Hae Bee Hiam kick. There is a slight hint of coconut, that marries the savouriness and sweetness perfectly. The verdict? I love it! I really, really do! If only the cookies are sold here, I wouldn’t miss the spices and smells of home as much.

Check out my other food adventures!

The Cookie Museum is located at:

Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue, Unit 01-02/04, Singapore 039802