Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Change of Habits

I have put on weight since starting on my current job about 18 months ago.

It's quite shocking really and I have a few dresses that I can't wear anymore.

That's really saying something because I'm not someone who buys tightly fitted clothes. My dresses are well fitting but usually not tight.

And most of them I bought less than 18 months ago!

So... I really do have to go on a diet because I still want to wear some of those clothes! But I usually suck at diets. I love eating too much... *sheepish smile

For this diet to work, I think I have to be realistic and change my habits rather than just do things differently for a couple of weeks.

So these are just a few things I will be doing from now onwards:

1) Drink a glass of water or eat a fruit before lunch and dinner
2) Climb the steps on my way to work in the subway instead of taking the elevators
3) Stretch when watching TV
4) Cut down on all sweet drinks
5) Eat a lot less carbs (I'm so inspired by Ting and Petunia - I don't think I can do without carbs, but I'm trying to only take brown rice and wholemeal bread)

Hopefully these small steps help! I'd be updating all again with my progress...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wimbly Lu's Waffles

I have been forgetting to bring my camera along with me during the weekends, which means I don't have pretty photos to show of this new, quaint little place I've found. All photos in this post were taken with my iPhone.

This cafe is pretty near to our place, and a stone's throw away from our church.

I picked Wimbly Lu as a place for tea with a few friends because I couldn't bear driving into town for tea on a Saturday afternoon (the crowds!) and frankly, just couldn't think of any other place.

This place opened very recently - this month or last, I think!

You can't miss the cafe, with its signature red-and-white vintage Beetle outside!

This cafe specialises in chocolates and what I like about it is that it is really very homey - mismatch chairs, extremely old decking, beautiful-but-mismatch plates, red brick walls, glass ceilings that lets in lots of lights and lets you see the rain. It's the kind of place you know you can be comfortable in with a few good friends for the afternoon.

The drinks at Wimbly Lu were nothing to shout about. The desserts were all pretty good though.

The black-out cake my friend ordered looked dry but it was very moist and not-too-sweet. The slice of cake was a real tiny one though. The Husband was very put of by it as he believes that you should always cut 1/8th of the cake to serve. "You can charge more but you can't give less" - is something he strongly believes in.

The Husband ordered Eton Mess, something we have never seen in a menu in Singapore. I thought it would be overwhelmingly sweet but I must say it was really quite good. I'm really impressed with the meringue - crispy on the outside with a marshmellowy center, yet not too sweet at all! The meringue went perfectly well with the whipped cream and very tart raspberry sauce.

The Eton Mess was unexpectedly good

I ordered the waffles with homemade chocolate truffle ice-cream and chocolate sauce, based on recommendations from this blog. I have been having cravings for waffles of late and this was the ANSWER to my cravings. The waffle is pretty light and crispy, not unlike the ones you get at A&W in Batam, but slightly more substantial. The homemade ice-cream looked rather melted and unappetizing but it was surprisingly rich and good!

Good waffles - I'm so glad this place is near my home!

The homemade truffles at Wimbly Lu were good too. Not particularly pretty and refined looking but they tasted good, which is what is important at the end of the day. I tried a few flavours and my favourites are the dark chocolate and baileys truffles.

I like looking at the rain fall on the glass ceilings

They serve good-old root beer float too!

Wimbly Lu
Address: 15-2 Jalan Riang
Tel: +65 6289 1489

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Korean Seafood Pancake

Inspired by Dainty Bites, I decided to make some Korean pancakes for dinner tonight. I had some instant pancake mix which I bought from a Korean supermarket, so I didn't follow the reccomended Mark Bittman's recipe.

The pancakes turned out pretty well, I was very pleased with how crispy, yet chewy the pancakes were.

One thing I've learnt about Korean pancakes - it's important to cook them with lots and lots of patience.

I put the non-stick pan on high heat, pour in a couple of tablespoon of oil and when the oil is hot, turn the heat down to medium and ladle in the mixture.

And only when the bottom is nice and brown do I turn it over to the other side. Pressing the pancake down with the back of my spatula helps to make the other side of pancake nice and crispy as well. If the pan isn't oily enough, turn the heat up and add a little oil from around the sides of the pan. (Somehow though, the second side never turns out as pretty as the first side that heats the pan.)

Then keep doing the same for every single pancake. It's a true test of patience, I tell you!

I don't have a pretty picture of the pancake for some reason but 
these were yummy enough for a compliment from my younger brother!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Days, Simple Days

Recently, work has been busy and stressful.

"Life shouldn't be so difficult." So says the optimist in me.

After careful considerations, I think the optimist is right.

I may face tough and difficult days now and then, but overall, I tend to have more happy days than tough ones.

Happy days usually do not require too much.

A well-baked cake, a warm sunny day, a great movie, meeting up with old friends, a stroll in the park after the rain, an encouraging comment on my blog, a facebook message from an old friend.

These are all things that can make my day brighter, happier.



A delicious glass of ice-blended watermelon with 
lime can really make my day too!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Show Flats

 A beautiful shelf in the bathroom of the show flat

I like visiting show flats.

I find listening to the sales people pretty interesting.

Since I'm not really buying any apartment or house, I try not to waste too much of their time. But listening to what they have to say, even if I know it's biased because they are trying to sell, is interesting. Sometimes, they tell you of some rumours or developments in the housing market, sometimes change in government policies, sometimes it's what they say about the development of certain regions.. and sometimes, it's the things they have to say about a particular unit.

I listen and take everything with a pinch of salt, thinking one of these days, if I'm out of a job, I can probably try to be a real estate agent too!

Another reason why I like show flats is because I find that I can pick up really clever interior design ideas from show flats.

In recent years, apartments in Singapore have been shrinking.

I recently went to see a show flat of an apartment not too far from where our place is. The show flat is, like most show flat, very beautiful. I was very impressed with all the quality furnishings and the overall interior design. The apartment also felt pretty spacious so I was very amazed to learn that it was the show flat for a 650sqf apartment.

"But this apartment feels so spacious! And the toilets are huge!"

The salesman explained that that is because a lot of unnecessary space have been taken out of the apartment. "The kitchen is open concept, there is no unnecessary yard area and the developer has also taken out the bomb shelter and store room - spaces that are usually wasted in an apartment."

I also noted that as part of the design, the interior designer also knocked down the wall separating the living room and a room, replacing with a glass wall and a TV rack that can be flipped around so that you can watch TV from either the small room or the living room. What a brilliant idea!

The glass wall that separated the living room from a small room. 
I like the fact that the TV can be flipped 180deg to face the other side

The small room is also separated by the corridor by a glass shelf 
and sliding glass door so the whole house is full of light

I went away from the show flat rather impressed with this apartment.

However, on second thoughts..

If there are no storerooms, where do you store your stuff? In the room that is separated from the living room by a glass wall?

And where do you air your laundry if there is no yard space? In the living room?

The "unneccessary" spaces that he was referring to are all spaces that we use every day!

Looks like sales people can sometimes make the weaknesses of some apartments sound like strengths! Maybe I will not be a good real estate agent after all.

Sometimes, show flats make use of visuals to make spaces look bigger too! 
Technically, there should be a glass door separating the balcony from the living room. 
The lack of these doors also make the room look a lot bigger!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Very Rainy Day

It is a really rainy day today.

It feels as if the weather system that flooded Bangkok has moved down south to Singapore. The rain is coming down like it's being poured out of a huge bucket from the sky.

This is the perfect weather to read a favourite novel and laze around in bed.

Yet I didn't manage to do that today.

I tripped and fell during lunch on Friday, as I was crossing the road and I have been having a backache since.

When I was young, I always think that one will grow out of clumsiness as one ages. But it doesn't seem to have turn out that way for me at all. This is my third accident of the year - after spraining my ankle in London and bruising my legs badly in Bangkok by walking into a short divider in a restaurant.

The rain on my balcony

Sandaime-Bunji - Grilled Beef Tongue

The best beef tongue I've ever had was in Sendai, at a restaurant called Rikyu at the Sendai JR Station.

Even now, I can remember how springy yet juicy and succulent those slices of grilled beef tongue were. And how they went perfectly with the tororo and mugimeshi (rice mixed with barley) rice. And the clear oxtail soup was flavourful and went perfectly with the thin slices of leek. Yum yum!

So I was really happy to know there is a place in Singapore that serves grilled beef tongue Sendai-style.

Sandai-Bunji is opened by Abezen Shoten Co Ltd, a major Kamaboko (Fish Cake) manufacturer from the Miyagi Prefecture of Japan (of which Sendai is the capital of).

So it isn't surprising that the restaurant specialises in oden. However, oden AND beef tongue is a pretty odd combination.

We ordered a gyu-dan (beef tongue) set (about $26) and a lunch set of the day (on the day we were there - it was a stir-fried beef set at just $9). We also added a 3 piece oden set.

The best dish of the day was stir-fried beef. It was perfectly seasoned and tasted really good. At $9 instead of its usual $23, this was a steal.

The gyu-dan wasn't close to what we had in Sendai. But it wasn't bad. It was pretty well flavoured, I just thought it was a little too thin and slightly overcooked.

The oden had a clean clear broth which I immediately liked. However, I didn't fancy the 3 oden pieces we had.

Overall however, I would visit this piece again, for the familiar taste of Sendai.

Sandai Bunji
Millenia Walk (facing the Hotel Conrad Centennial)
9 Raffles Boulevard #01-14

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh

Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh (黄亚细肉骨茶) is one of the most famous Bak Kut Teh store in Singapore.

Bak Kut Teh literally translates to "meat bone tea". It is actually a soup dish that consist of meaty pork ribs cooked together for hours with garlic, herbs and spices.

Ng Ah Sio serve Singapore styled Bak Kut Teh, which is a clear and peppery version of this pork rib soup. Ng Ah Sio used to be run in a very traditional manner.

One of the reasons why this store got so famous was because they used to only open at selected hours and supposedly rejected Hong Kong's Chief Executive, Donald Tsang's request to visit during the afternoon simply because he requested to visit during their break. (To be fair, it's probably not his request but one of his assistant's request)

All my relatives from Hong Kong know this as the bak kut teh store that rejected the Chief Executive.

Nowadays, Ng Ah Sio is run in a modern, corporate manner, with much longer operating hours, a whole host of newer staff. Thankfully, the food remains as good as ever.

The soup base of Ng Ah Sio's Bak Kut Teh is peppery hot whilst the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. I think bak kut teh goes best with some fried dough fritters, which you can use to dip in the soup to soak up the dough fritters before popping into your mouth, where you get a burst of hot soup and then the flavour of the fried dough fritters.

A true bak kut teh experience is never complete without the traditional chinese tea, which is what the "teh" (tea) in bak kut teh is all about. The slightly bitter Chinese tea cleanses your palate and washes down every thing just nicely.

This is one of my favourite places to bring friends from overseas to.

A bowl of peppery hot bak kut teh, with the taste of garlic in the background

Traditional Chinese tea, also called Kung-Fu tea, is a must to go with Bak Kut Teh

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Tourist in Singapore

The Husband and I decided we'd go to the Titanic Exhibition at the Art Science Museum at Marina Bay Sands, based on Petunia's recommendation.

I felt like a tourist in Singapore because everywhere we went today were not familiar to me. We had lunch in a Japanese restaurant we have never visited at the Millenia Walk, then went to the museum which I've never been to. The Titanic Exhibition was an interesting one, but what was more interesting to me was the view outside - a view of Singapore's financial district and key landmarks from a totally new angle.

After the exhibition, we went for tea at the Marina Bay Shopping Centre (The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands). I was surprised to find an ice-skating ring and a mini-canal (like those you see in Venice) in the mall! I didn't know you find these things in Singapore!

On my way home, I decided that I should start 'exploring' Singapore a bit more. There are still lots of places in this small island I've yet to visit.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chamomile Tea from Teapigs

I am rather particular when it comes to tea.

Hence, we have a huge collection of tea leaves and bags at home.

We have pu-er tea that we bought from this very old shop in Kowloon City in Hong Kong. A very treasured box of white tea leaves from an ex-colleague of mine from China. Matcha and a whole lot of various green teas we picked up during our trips to Japan. A good but often neglected tin of oolong tea leaves from Taiwan.

For the more "western" type of teas, I like the No. 14 Tea from Harrods, French Earl Grey from Singapore's TWG and Tetley tea.

Apart from tea leaves and bags, we also have quite a bit of those stuff that you can't strictly call tea - yuzu jam for Yuzu tea, dried lemongrass for lemongrass tea and various types of dried flowers for floral tea.

Even with all those teas in my tea cupboard, I still often find myself replenishing the supplies for my top favourites.

Teapigs is a brand I discovered this year during my business trip to London. This company considers themselves "tea evangelists" and claim that they only sell teas of the highest quality. I have tried a number of their teas and I think their teas are pretty good. All there teas contain whole tea leafs.. and their floral teas whole flowers.

My favourite tea from Teapigs is their chamomile flowers. In the triangular tea bags (which they call tea temples), you can actually see whole flowers.

The tea is very fragrant. My colleague sitting next to me often comment on this tea whenever I make it, saying she can smell it distinctly from where she sits. The taste is also surprisingly sweet, with not one bit of bitter aftertaste.

This particular tea puts me in a very calm and relaxed mood after drinking, which is good.

I find myself asking friends or colleagues going to the UK to buy this for me, to replenish my tea cupboard. It's good to know that there is now a shop in Singapore at Takashimaya that stocks this particular brand as well.

I like the pretty looking flowers in the bag and the colour of the tea!

Hainanese Pork Chop

Hainanese (Chinese from the Southern Chinese island known as the Hainan Island) people in Singapore are known for their ability to cook.

Hainanese chicken rice is famous all over the world and is something any non-vegetarian visitor to Singapore wouldn't and shouldn't miss.

One of my favourite Hainanese chicken rice store is from Tian Tian. The branch at Joo Chiat has better operating hours and is air-conditioned, making it my favourite place for chicken rice. Tian Tian also has another killer dish - Hainanese Pork Chop.

A thin slice of pork is tenderised, coated with breadcrumbs and then deep fried until golden and crispy. The savoury, sourish-sweet sauce on top comes with peas and onions and nicely coats the pork chop.

I don't usually like pork, but this is really tender, crispy, sour and sweet all at the same time and I just couldn't stop eating it.

Writing this post made me feel like paying Tian Tian another visit soon. Nom Nom!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Internet Kimchi

I do my fair share of internet shopping - mostly books, beauty products, fun accessories and clothes..

I never thought that I'd buy food from online.

Well but I did.

I bought some kimchi from a shop on GMarket. I've always find it hard to get good quality kimchi. When I do, I find them a bit too pricey. A friend of mine had friends who tried out the kimchi ordered from online and recommended I try them.

So I went and ordered 1 kg of cabbage kimchi, some seasoned Korean pickles and kimchi dumplings (also known as mandu). Including the delivery, they cost $30.

We tried the pickles and kimchi tonight for dinner. They were crunchy and tasted good!

Now, I have lots of kimchi to make kimchi jigae (kimchi soup) and kimchi fried rice.

But then... 1 kg.. is really a lot for the 2 of us!

I really liked these seasoned pickles

Cabbage kimchi is my favourite. These ones are pretty good.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rush Hour

I've just moved to a new office at One Raffles Quay. One Raffles Quay is an office building located right at the edge of Raffles Place, near the new Marina Bay Financial Centre.

And this is the view that I see out of the window everyday.

Photo taken with iPhone... 
Hm... it was a little gloomy when I took this picture, huh?

Beautiful, isn't it?

Sadly, that's about all I like about my new office.

Great views but getting to and from work, as well as having lunch, is erm... for lack of a better word, quite scary.

You see, Raffles Place is at the heart of the downtown business and financial district of Singapore. Throngs and throngs of people work in Raffles Place. Getting to work in the morning is like struggling your way through a somewhat aggressive and desperate crowd during the post-Christmas sales.

The walk from the subway station to One Raffles Quay is a pretty long one.. and every morning, I feel like I'm part of a march to war, with the loud clacking of high heels almost like a rhythmic march to the battle fields. I sometimes almost think that they will blasting military songs through the long tunnel I make my way through to work.

Lunch is an equally frantic affair. There are queues everyone and people seem to be jostling their ways out of the offices to invade into all the food courts and restaurants nearby. It reminds me sometimes of a documentary that I saw where a swamp of locusts landed on a field and ate up everything in its path. Sends a chill down my spine at times.

It's pretty much the same after work, except in a way, the crowd is a lot less scary in the evenings. Maybe it is because everyone is feeling fatigued and drained by work.. Maybe it's because I do leave rather late compared to your normal office worker. I'm not quite sure. But the trains are still rather crowded, although not fully packed. And everything seems less frantic than in the day.

In any case, I have to get used to the rush hour crowd now, there is no escape really.

Although a bit late, but I now really appreciate my previous office location at the Marina Square/ Suntec area - with all the shopping and restaurants nearby.. and a calmer, more amiable crowd in the weekdays.