Mikuni at Fairmont

What used to be called Inagiku many years ago changed its name, and perhaps concept, to Mikuni, which is located at level 3 of Fairmont hotel, accessible from a corner of Raffles City.

While it was still Inagiku, I visited it a couple of times, usually choosing to order their sashimi platters or shabu-shabu or sukiyaki sets. Food was good but pricey, and back then the decor of the restaurant was that of a typical Japanese restaurant of the old days, boasting homely colours of light ply wood (I think, something beigey-yellow) that just make me think of many of the eateries I have been to in Japan. When it underwent a renovation the interior got many shades darker, the walls became dark brown/black. I think it was meant to give the restaurant a more updated and modern vibe, or perhaps the change in name or management fuelled the need to overhaul its appearance, to give it a look that is more aligned with the pricing of the food.

I went there once after that and felt that the food quality dropped, or maybe it was just the ambience or somewhat that made the food taste a bit different. Anyhow, that was also where I went a couple of weeks ago for my birthday treat! This time round, I think the food was better, maybe the years in-between this and my prior visit gave them the chance to finetune and improve the culinary skills of the chefs, or maybe it was just how I felt on both occasions.

Their menu is pretty comprehensive but it makes the ordering difficult because if you would like to have a few items that includes sashimi, then you have to think about your budget too. Haha. My friend was able to get a discount off the food so it was well-worth it for us!

Complimentary appetiser. I cannot remember what this is but it’s thin and crispy and tasted like it contained prawn.

Instead of sashimi, we ordered the mixed sushi plate. I liked that the sushi is more fish than rice, and of course the ingredients were really fresh! But perhaps we had too much rice, because in addition to this platter we also had a maki plate.

But this was really good, avocado and I think yellow tail (one of my favourites). And with sushi/sashimi, the wasabi just makes it even better.

Being a big tempura fan, we also had a mixed tempura plate, which consists seafood (prawn and fish slices) and assoted vegetables.

There was an additional grilled or barbequed pork rib that we ordered, that we only had a bit of and were unable to finish because we were so full from all the rice stuff. So a tip for those who have small appetites, don’t take too much carbo, or maybe that’s not really a tip, we probably overestimated ourselves. :p

The pork rib was nicely done and not too oily but it had lots of fatty parts in it that I think most people would really enjoy; we packed that back home but I don’t know why I don’t have a photo of it here.

Since we were already bursting we decided to skip dessert but anyway there was a complimentary matcha mochi dessert, that also came with cubes of azuki sticky cake (rice cake maybe). This was good because it wasn’t sweet, the sweetness of the red bean was complemented well with the slight traces of bitterness from the matcha in perhaps its natural unsweetened form. Nice way to end the meal! And thanks for the treat, my friend!

le mois de juillet, le deuxième épisode

Happy first day of August!

I had been away the last few days baking in the sun, to quote a friend, on the sunny beaches of Phuket. Now it is back to reality. I will endeavour to keep up to speed with the posts so that Phuket doesn’t fast become a hazy memory.

If I have not already repeated myself enough, July is the birthday month of myself and many others. And since it is the birthday month I always tend to give myself the legitimate reason to indulge in shopping and eating. Met up with a friend for lunch one day and on my request we went to check out the Muffinry at Telok Ayer Street. I had read/heard about this place and being such a huge muffin fan I was really eager to try them out. More on that in a separate post, but these were the things I got to try, the Fig (and I think it was supposed to come with earl grey taste too but I can’t remember now) muffin and the lemon tart. As much as it would have been great with a birthday candle, it will look rather silly. But still this was the first birthday treat (that I demanded)!

I always have this warped idea about birthdays and cakes, so on another day that I went for a movie with fellow July baby, I thought to get a slice of cake to go with the coffee we had. The carrot cake I chose was disappointing, because it was really dry. And still no candle!

Finally stepped foot for the very first time into Loof, after so long and after they had a retrofitting sometime back. I kind of like the place because it feels cosy and nestled within several buildings yet it isn’t like the sky has been obscured entirely. Perhaps the fact that the night wasn’t too warm (yet) made it a little nicer. I tend to stay away from such rooftop bars because most of the time in Singapore it is just too hot to make alfresco dining/drinking impractical for someone with a low heat tolerance like me. Besides, when you consume alcohol it is only natural that your body temperature will as well go up, so bring on the air-conditioning already!

Finally, after catching the DKR (which I found was a nice wrap-up to the story from Christopher Nolan’s perspective but somehow seems to lack the excitement of the second part with the Joker in it), I got my other birthday treat at Mikuni. We didn’t order a lot but the food portions filled us up so much there was little room for dessert thereafter. So no cake.

So that concluded the treats and ‘celebrations’. But what are birthdays without presents!?

And of course, this, from myself.

Thanks for the birthday wishes, presents and treats! July hadn’t been too great because of some happenings that marred what was supposed to be a happy month for me. But the birthday meet-ups more than made up for those unpleasant moments that I hope to leave behind really soon.

happy birthday. alternative version.

Last few moments before the annual day of celebrating growing officially a year older and hopefully wiser. As time goes by, it has just become another day without anything to really look forward to. Usually it’s just birthday greetings that we get on Facebook, text or whatsapp messages. That’s all. I always see people posting heaps of photos of week-long, month-long celebrations with different groups of friends and family, it just feels like an alternate universe to me.

I don’t have that many social groups that I am part of, and even if we count many among the loose term of friends, these are just people who leave messages on your wall to shout out a Happy Birthday when they remember, and those who hop on the bandwagon because they see others wishing you, so they thought they’d just type a message too. It doesn’t take much effort at all to key in a few letters to compose a message on Facebook. I think messages that I receive close to the hour via whatsapp and the usual text, are people who I guess actually remembers when is the actual day that you were born on. Sometimes I will try to stay up till 12 just because I want to be the first to wish a friend happy birthday. Maybe it’s just a silly thing that I do and it doesn’t mean anything to the other person but that’s just what I do for some friends.

So as I have become more anti-social and lost more friends along the way, I don’t have birthday celebrations anymore. Not that many anyway. I always count on one friend who always remembers and always plan to take me to some nice place for my annual birthday treat and I think I’m really touched by all the effort and thought put into it. I don’t need fancy presents because things that I really want cost a lot of money to buy, and I don’t expect anyone to get me pricey gifts (even though I won’t say no if someone wants to), but it’s the whole remembering and bothering that really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks.

Last year I was in Mexico City on a job when I had my birthday. It was a coincidence that the colleagues on the team and the country knew about it, and they surprised me with a birthday cake and a Spanish birthday song no less. The entire office crowding around me singing me a birthday song, that’s something that takes a bit getting used to because it’s kind of embarrassing really but it was a really nice gesture from them.

This year it happened again that I was more or less away. I was due to fly back home on the eve of my birthday, so that by the time I reach home and taking into account time differences, my birthday is about over. The 10 or so days that I spent in the UK wasn’t the best overseas trip I had, in fact it counted as one of the worst. Except for meeting a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in a long while that were the highlight of the trip, and getting my birthday present, the rest of the trip was, to say the least, like a nightmare. Something happened that had me seething with fury, that the only thing I wanted was to just leave immediately.

So much for a happy birthday. It just made everything worse.

gula melaka pandan

Following the recent Apple Caramel cake that I got from Cedele for Mothers’ Day celebration, I have now added a fourth cake flavour that I have tried from Cedele. I decided to stick to the safe choice to buy a cake from Cedele (again I know) since it has been validated by the people at home.

Somehow it was another one of those days that I was rushing from place to place and trying to do as many things as possible while lugging a huge sack of things about town. Totally unglam and all, but well I don’t exactly have an image to maintain so to speak, so there is really nothing to lose, dressing sloppily to head to town and doing things that just exacerbate this less-than-stellar appearance. As long as I don’t run into my cousin and risk embarrassing her.

The Cedele outlet at Ngee Ann City is seriously understaffed, or the staff are just not adept to handling a slightly busier day. Despite there being numerous staff members behind the counter, and with just a few customers distracting them with different requests (to buy cake, to enquire about other stuff, etc.), they totally ignored me after telling me to check out the cake display counter. So I went to Wheelock Place instead and started panicking a little when I found out they didn’t have many selections available.

Of course the one recommended by them was the bestseller, i.e. the Carrot Walnut cake, however since this is again going to be something that people of different age groups are going to eat, I didn’t want to buy something that is too overwhelming since this was meant to be just dessert. They didn’t have the Blueberry cake available and although I thought of taking the Apricot Almond/Orange cake, the store manager (I assume) suggested the Gula Melaka Pandan cake.

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I was a bit iffy in picking this because gula melaka to me just connotes extreme sweetness, which is also not something I would like personally. But he assured me this was another popular choice among customers, and since there really was not much choice left, I settled for this eventually.

Conclusion, this is really not too bad! The pandan taste was evident but not too strong and overpowering, and surprisingly it really wasn’t that sweet! The outer coating of the cake was coconut if I remember correctly, however all the tastes did not drown out the tastes of the others and instead complimented one another rather well. All the rest who ate it felt it was ok too. So this choice was a successful one! Or maybe it’s just a conspiracy to have me being the official cake-buyer in future. Oh well, as long as they appear to enjoy it, I don’t mind being the one to buy it. I just need to have more ideas and suggestions where and what cakes to buy.

 

in the blink of an eye

 

 

Today is the final day of July. I was saying sometime ago that this month is going to pass really fast because the travelling took up about half of it already. And it being my birthday month meant too that with the travelling I wasn’t able to do a lot of the shopping that I’d intended with all those birthday specials mails that I got from some of the retailers that had my info. My mum and brother’s birthdays also came and went quietly, and also I have a number of friends who share the same birthday month and I don’t even think we had any proper celebration, with the exception of K.

The Mexican colleagues surprised me with a birthday cake complete with candle burning and a whole group of people gathering around me as they sang Happy Birthday first in English then in Spanish. I had not a clue what the second rendition was because it sounded nothing like the familiar Happy Birthday tune we all know, but since I’d heard it the day before on my actual birthday when someone else in the office was also celebrating his birthday, I think that should be it. I got another birthday cake just before I went on the trip, when my friend bought me a slice of green tea cake for a celebration. There was no candle though, not that I’d have wanted it anyway; it’s too conspicuous. The thought mattered and that’s all that counts.

Funnily, one of my friends asked if the hotel gave me a birthday cake since that’s what they usually might do for their guests. But nope, I didn’t get anything. They sent several sweet treats though, during the duration of my stay, on random days of the week. But it was something that I believe all if not most, hotel guests would receive since my colleagues got them as well.

All the same, it was pretty much a pleasant surprise when I return to the room at night after work to see something nice being placed on the desk. It’s not a great idea for me since in those 2 weeks I was still nursing a sore throat and cough that I’d brought trans-pacific from Singapore, but I couldn’t pass it up since chocolates are the best remedy for stress aren’t they? And some of these were coffee-flavoured, all the better for me who is a self-professed but still-not-quite-there coffee addict.

So this year’s birthday went by in a flash, not unlike most other years actually. But I did receive many wishes on Facebook, the way that most people send their birthday wishes to each other these days. And I got a few on the phone too, which was unusual but I guess, more personal. Thanks for all the birthday wishes! 🙂

parched

I wonder how long it’s gonna take this time, to recover. I hope it’s soon though otherwise I’m really not sure how I am going to survive the flight.

I got myself a new pair of earrings! Actually, I stopped buying earrings as fervently as I used to. In the past whenever I travel somewhere I will always try to return with some accessories, with earrings being the top item that I will buy because they are the things I wear on a daily basis. Recently I cut down on that a lot because I realised I have a lot of earrings that I don’t wear, not because I don’t like them anymore but because I am just lazy to have to dig them out from wherever I have kept them, so mostly I just wear whatever is within easy reach.

You can see how bad a state my camera is in, or maybe it’s just my lousy skills in photographing the gift. Anyhow, it’s a pair of custom-made earrings, a combination of black onyx and pink rubies, yellow sapphires and mandarin garnet. I only knew when my friend told me, that as I knew it with ruby being the birthstone for July, the traditional birthstone is actually onyx. She knows me well in thinking I probably am less inclined to wear a red stone on me on normal days and so I got the black onyx for the main stone for my earrings!

I haven’t worn it yet since as I mentioned before, am still being lazy even where accessorising is concerned. Which kind of also puts in the group of can’t-be-bothered people where fashion is concerned. My cousin has a fashion blog and she’s really into fashion and all, together with a lot of her family too, and sometimes when I read her site and various other fashion sites I feel a tad bad for always taking the easy way out where dressing-up/right is concerned. Maybe I just don’t have the fashion bug in me, since I already profess to have very potent travel and bag-shopping bugs in me, perhaps they leave little room for anything else. Ok, I know, excuses. I do think of trying on many occasions but I still found the courage to overcome discomfort (due to the sweating induced by our very unfriendly climate) from trying to walk the fashion way.

juillet

C’est juillet! Every year when July swings by, I always feel an extra bit of excitement because it’s the month of my birthday. Haha, self-absorbed much? Actually, it doesn’t matter if it’s my birthday or not because I don’t really celebrate it then or now, and more often than not it is just another occasion for me to have an excuse to shop for myself since no one will buy me those gifts that I want. :p

And it’s only natural that I note people around me who share the same birthday month. In my family including myself, 3 of 5 were born in July, how’s that for a majority? And in my group of friends who I still keep in touch with other than wishing them Happy Birthday on Facebook once a year, there is more than a handful who are July babies too. Over the years I have also discovered 3 other people whom I have met through the course of work or otherwise, who were born on the same day as me, with one having the exact birthdate. Yes, same year too!

So anyhow, that was just self-indulgence talk above, not that anything on my blog isn’t. I was just thinking back to the Taipei trip and thinking how low maintenance I can be when it comes to food (note the quick qualifier), because I can really just survive on cafe food anywhere. When I was in Brisbane last year for a 2-week trip and spent a week on my own, I could just have a coffee and sandwich for meals anytime. If there are convenience stores nearby, all the better because they become the best place for me to go to for food/snacks/anything.

Taipei was great because like a lot of other Asian cities, there is an abundance of convenience stores. Of course I think the best is Japan, where there seem to be at least one on every street, but even in this supposed not-so-centralised part of Taipei I was able to find at least 3 stores in the hotel vicinity. They always have a lot of promotions going on instore, so I’m always buying a lot of stuff from these shops. Taipei stores are rather into the environmental friendly regime because from years back when I visited I realised they charge you for the plastic bag for your purchases, so I will try to remember to bring along my own grocery bag or dump everything into my bag. Singapore stores should seriously consider making people pay for plastic bags so that we will be more disciplined to bring along a grocery bag each time.

There are a lot of interesting/cute stuff in the stores and I always spend an inordinate amount of time browsing through the food items and deciding on what I should get. Hello Kitty yogurt doesn’t necessarily taste better than other brands but I just thought the bottle looked cute and yes I am a closet cute-stuff-lover. I have a lot of cutesy stuff bought from overseas when I shop even though I don’t really use a lot of them; maybe I just love to shop and somehow being overseas justifies buying anything so long as they appeal to me at that moment (and provided they don’t cost an arm or a leg). 

The hotel that I stayed at gave me a plate of fruits (apple and kiwi) on the first day I checked in. I took the apple and left the kiwi because I didn’t have the necessary utensils/cutlery to cut/eat it. The next day they gave me a pack of Japanese crackers, which I found was so random, but it was good! They replaced it with an apple again the next day, and over the days I got another pack of crackers and a biscuit/cheese pack too. At the end of each day when I get back to the hotel, I’d check what they had left for me, haha.

Just a picture of a late dinner I had one night after coming back from the office and not knowing what I want to eat, I ordered the safest sandwich, i.e. Club Sandwich, from the cafe near the hotel, and I don’t know if they felt bad for making me wait too long while they prepared the sandwich but they gave me a complimentary cup of mushroom soup that went really well with the sandwich at the end of the meal. How do you eat Club sandwich if you do? I always dissect my sandwiches and eat them piece by piece, bread and fillings separate, because I don’t know how to take the whole thing and shove it into my mouth like how burgers are supposed to be eaten.

I thought it was going to rain when we went to Shilin Night Market on Saturday, as you would probably think from this picture.

I took the photo while my colleagues were queueing to buy the fried chicken chop, but it didn’t rain eventually and it was still extremely hot and humid without the sun that we were all sweating as we stood at a side and ate our food. I think mid-year is too warm to visit Taipei to properly have fun and do all the things like eating/shopping at night markets. I’d want to go back there again when the weather is better, so if anyone is keen do let me know! It’s no fun going to a night market alone because then I won’t get to eat a wide variety of food.

And if you’re a July baby, Happy Birthday to you, whether you are a Cancerian/Leo. 🙂