Christmas Eve.

Spent Christmas eve and part of Christmas day in Hong Kong. I shall just let the pictures do the talking, most of it anyway, because I am lazy to write. ūüôā

Met the cousin early for local breakfast near his apartment. This is the Hong Kong milk tea, which I find is so much nicer than what we have locally, i.e. teh-c.

The standard breakfast fare, to me at least – soupy instant noodles topped with some ingredients like pork / chicken chop, sausages, eggs, or the likes. Or maybe everything! Order a noodle and add-on the other stuff you fancy, sunny-side up, sausages…
Yummy.
Problem with Hong Kong’s local cafes is that they don’t usually do bread the way I like it. Mostly, when I order a sandwich or toast, it is just 2 slices of plain white bread that is of the soft variety, totally not how I like my bread to be. Even when this is toasted, at an additional charge (!), it still doesn’t cut anywhere close. The smooth, creamy scrambled eggs help to make it a bit better though, but then the processed meat in the form of ham probably isn’t too great an idea.
After we had the milk tea and the breakfast, we still went for the next round of caffeine at a hole-in-the-wall cafe near Jaffe Street. ¬†After parting with my cousin, I went to meet my friend and we decided to check out this soft-serve that was highly-recommended by the cousin. I really love this, because the matcha flavour was very distinctive and strong! And best of all is that it doesn’t feel like it’s too sweet. They have a few outlets, but we went to the one at Fashion Walk. There’s one in the basement food hall of SOGO at Causeway Bay too and if I’m not wrong, near City Super in Harbour City in TST.
Went to meet another friend thereafter, who halted her gym-time to accompany me for the Christmas eve afternoon. We popped into a random cafe where she decided to have lunch, and I ordered a salad which was a total disappointment. Where’s the ‘salad’? This looks more like dessert than salad. ¬†It’s actually a few slices of apple cooked in some sauce I presume, topped with egg mayo and¬†a sprinkling of some powder (don’t ask me what because I forgot), plus 2 sticks of¬†buttered toast, very lightly-toasted might I add. I was then busy scraping away the egg yolk and mayo obviously, and left it in a mess.
After the decidedly-unsatisfying meal (for me at least), we proceeded to Lee Gardens’ Starbucks, which was also very crowded despite that the mall was almost devoid of other customers. Either everyone is out and about in their last minute rush for Christmas gifts, or this mall is just too high-classed to see many patrons. We dropped by the supermarket at Hysan Place first though, to get ourselves a pot of yogurt each to go with our coffee (my third caffeine for the day). Love the variety that is available overseas but again, I’d think this is from the vantage point of being a foreigner and seeing things with a fresh pair of eyes. ¬†Last year, when I met my friend in Hong Kong, we ordered the Christmas orange cranberry loaf cake/bread and since they have it this year again, we ordered it again! We enjoyed this because it’s more bread than cake, meaning it’s a bit drier and crumblier,and not so oily to boot. Wished they had this on our local menu too but so far, it has only made an appearance in 2014.
Headed back for a short run at the gym thereafter, before heading out for Christmas eve dinner. We settled in at an Italian eatery in SOHO, which somehow felt like we were obligated to dine at, because the host-cum-owner was rather pushy and we felt bad walking away after reading the menu. It was probably a wrong choice, because we ended up not ordering the huge Christmas meal that came with 6 courses per person (at quite a reasonable price actually). We didn’t think we could have finished all that food so we opted for a-la-carte, which to them meant ‘budget menu’, and we were being treated as ‘budget customers’. They changed the table setting, removing the napkin and replacing it with a paper serviette!? It wasn’t even like the eatery was some fine-dining place because each table was within an elbow’s width away, even if you are paying for the so-called Christmas set menu. Bleah. What a big downer.

The food was pretty decent though, to be fair to them. It’s just that service sucks, or rather it’s dependent on how much you pay for your food.
  After dinner, we took a short walk to PMQ, where most shops were already packing up. But they had pretty interesting Christmas decor, including a holographic Christmas tree instead of a real physical tree.
¬†¬†And finished off the evening with dessert near our hotel, sweet soup with lotus seeds! ūüôā

Ben & Jerry’s, Dempsey Hill

Went to Dempsey Hill one afternoon for lunch. It was a tad warm but with a balmy breeze blowing so it wasn’t too bad. Weekday afternoons are fairly quiet at Dempsey, even if the F&B outlets are not devoid of people. There are still people who drive there for lunch, but maybe the warm mid-day sun bearing down kind of slowed the pace down a few notches so it just felt kind of lazy and quiet.

Headed to the Ranch, home to Ben & Jerry’s and CA*California. Originally, we thought they were closed, because the sign posted on the door of the outlet displayed a forbidding CLOSED, yet when we peeked in we saw that it wasn’t the case. So we popped in, perhaps to the chagrin of the wait staff who probably thought not flipping the sign to OPEN would mean they could spend the afternoon languishing in the cool comfort of the eatery.

So anyway in we went and created quite a bit of noise. We asked about the menu, which was misrepresented to us in terms of the breadth of items available. We were told when we just entered they only had the finger food, which was shown on a page of the menu, but then it was afterwards upon further probing and clarification that we understood that everything else could also be ordered. Hmm.

Anyway, it’s standard typical bistro food, nothing special to rave about and no big complains either. We were there for the ice-cream to be fair, and this was one of the orders. A waffle with a couple of scoops of their yummy ice cream. I cannot now remember what flavours these were, but one of them supposedly contained potato chips. Isn’t that interesting, ice cream flavours these days are getting more and more unusual and out of the ordinary.

IMG_0040.JPGAnd for lunch, besides all that bar-grub type of food like truffle fries, chicken wings and deep-fried cuttlefish balls or whatever, this is the healthier amongst the lot, a great mixture of rockets, walnuts, strawberries, raisins and peaches. I really enjoyed this salad, much more than anything else, which can be a good or bad thing, since our intent on visiting was the ice-cream.IMG_0038.JPGTo be fair, I am not so much an ice cream person these days. Besides, our grouse with the ice cream was that it melted way too fast. Even upon presentation of the waffle to us, which was when the picture was taken, it was already melting. By the end of it, I guesstimated that the amount of ice cream that was actually eaten was probably just a little over 50% per scoop since the rest of it had already liquified.

Little Prince Cafe, Somme Road, Singapore

Unfortunately, this outlet will be closing its doors for good in a few days’ time on September 27 due to some problems of the landlord. But the good news is that it’s not the end of the road for Little Prince Cafe, as they have another outlet in Toa Payoh! Not surprisingly, I am totally clueless about this place, even though I don’t stay very far away from it, just like how there is the well-known Creamier that is so hyped but I have never tried it once. I have heard that it is perennially packed with people and it would be kind of strange to buy a waffle with ice-cream for takeaway, as I can imagine that in the heat of our little island, by the time I get home, there will be just waffles and cream, no more ice.

So anyway, those are another story for another day. I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years, finally connecting again. That is called making the effort. We decided to go check out Little Prince Cafe as my friend’s suggestion and it was a nice, quiet afternoon, albeit a tad humid towards a certain point especially since we took a fairly long hike from the MRT station to the cafe. Along the way, we actually passed by a couple other places, one of them being the Tiramisu Hero and Window Sill Pies, the latter being totally packed with a queue forming outside. I’d wanted to try Window Sill but have not had the chance, yet.

So, Little Prince was quite quiet, with us being the only other set of customers. But it is a cosy shop with few tables, so it was good for catching-up.

We ordered a waffle to share, and two scoops of ice-cream, a Thai Milk Tea scoop and an Earl Grey Tea scoop. We didn’t opt for savoury waffles which they had started offering on the menu too. The waffle is quite yummy and freshly made in store, I think. As for the ice-cream, I found the Thai Milk Tea to be a tad too creamy and sweet. Earl Grey was fine but somehow it still loses out a little to Fauchon. I don’t know, perhaps they don’t really differ much but somehow Fauchon has set the bar at a level that sub-consciously I might have already deemed it as the best, none too creamy but still with a distinct scent and aroma of earl grey. IMG_0032.JPG

IMG_0031.JPGI ordered a coffee as well to go with the waffle but it was quite a small cup, though that was not the highlight I suppose. Anyway, coffee or waffle are secondary, the meet-up was the main dish for the day!

Caffe Bene, Seoul

Continuing with my Seoul food¬†indulgences, one of the places that I never fail to visit at least once (usually only once haha) would be Caffe Bene.¬†It’s a cafe that an ex-colleague recommended and the first time I tried it, I was sold to their waffles. They are made in the Belgian style, or at least that is what I call it Belgian style, different from the (almost) perfectly-formed round waffles that we often get from our local cafes. These waffles come with raw edges and tend to be¬†slightly thicker, and if baked/toasted long enough, the edges are nice and crispy.

I liked their waffles so much because I recalled on the various occasions when I ate them, there seemed to be some nuts included in the waffle batter,¬†that¬†provided some kind of¬†variation in¬†chewing¬†it. Unfortunately, this time round,¬†I was disappointed; perhaps I have held high expectations of what I would be getting. First things first,¬†my usual order is¬†a Blueberry Yogurt Waffle but I didn’t see it anywhere on the menu so I thought I would just try something else. I ordered a waffle with ice cream, and chose¬†a scoop of Pistachio Almond ice cream.¬†20140703-075107-28267571.jpg

The ice cream was pretty nice because of the mix of crushed pistachios and almonds in it, but because it was a relatively warm day out in the city, especially at about 2pm in the afternoon, even whilst enjoying my dessert-lunch in the air-conditioned cafe, the ice cream was losing its form to the heat quickly so I didn’t have the luxury to savour it even if it was that nice. But the cool sensation of the nutty ice cream without an overwhelming sweetness was still good. That was the saving grace for the dessert because I really didn’t like the waffle as much. It didn’t contain any of the nutty bits that I remembered and loved it for, so it was bland and boring eating it, and the inside felt too flour-y. I ate what I liked from the slightly-burnt edges and some more of the inside that cemented my lack of enjoyment of it, and left the rest of half of it¬†untouched.

The serviette was interesting though. Even if I haven’t the slightest idea what’s written in Korean.20140703-075107-28267461.jpg

It does look decent and nice from the picture, but maybe the waffle that I enjoyed back then was a special type and not the usual ordinary plain waffles that are served together with ice-cream, I don’t know. Unless¬†I can figure out¬†if there is a difference, I guess the next time when I pass by another Caffe Bene, I won’t drop in for their waffles. Perhaps their ice creams are worth a go still, but definitely not the plain waffles. There are way more other waffle places that¬†I could check out the next time Seoul beckons!¬†20140703-075107-28267526.jpg

The Chop House, Vivocity

For my friend and I, every year we would treat each other to a nice birthday dinner. It doesn’t always have to be somewhere expensive or fancy, but just somewhere we thought we might like to check out. This year, my friend actually wanted to check out Jamie’s Italian at Vivocity, but unfortunately, reservations were very limited and filled months in advance, and walking in, although available, meant waiting in line for perhaps a duration that we weren’t exactly prepared to do. Hopefully, we can come back another time when there is no/less queue. Who knows, as Singaporeans tend to be fickle when it comes to thronging new eateries, a good example being Tin Ho Wan in Plaza Singapura. I will reserve my opinions for that until such time when I actually get to try it right here.

So we went to The Chop House instead, an eatery that looked promising when we walked past on the way to Jamie’s. My friend thought the decor of this place reminded her of The Skinny Pizza, with its simple and clean lines with a¬†touch of industrial-chic (that is my opinion). But it’s actually from this Wooloomooloo Group (you can read more about it here), a grill house¬†that hails from Hong Kong.¬† 20130926-083512.jpg

The grill house struck me more of a Mexican place, based on their offerings on the menu (mainly just the quesadillas and fajitas haha). If we had more people in our party, we could probably order more stuff to try, like the soups and starters. We were really hungry and just jumped straight to the mains, because from what we eyed on the tables of other patrons, portions seemed pretty large.

I chose the chicken Fajitas, sauteed with onions, bell peppers and¬†chillies, and were served with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and tortillas! It’s a self-wrap¬†kind of¬†dish, which really made me think of the trip I made to Mexico City, eating tacos that I wrapped myself, and the yummy guacamole and salsa¬†spreads.¬† 20130926-083525.jpg

There were four tortillas, but I think the chicken meat isn’t enough to go round all four pieces, and I didn’t want to have so much tortillas anyway, so I just had three. Besides these sauces that were served with the Fajitas, there were also a rack of three other spreads provided, one that contained beetroot, another which was chilli mustard and the last being sweet onion relish (or something like that). I love the grilled chicken, which is tender and not losing its juiciness; they are good even on their own without the spreads.20130926-083532.jpg

My friend had the BBQ Beef, Bacon and¬†Cheddar Burger that was served with tater tots (bite-sized hash browns). It was huge but it certainly looked extremely appetising for the hungry us. I almost wished I had ordered this instead but I knew I¬†wouldn’t have been able to finish it at the end. Maybe the next time if I were to visit again, I’ll order a burger too!¬†20130926-083539.jpg

They had some sides too that I was tempted to order too, like Sweet Potato Fries and Roasted Aubergine, Zucchini and Tomato,¬†but for two persons it was definitely¬†going to be a challenge finishing all that food if we had. Their menu¬†isn’t extremely extensive, but I would say they have quite a good mix of items, chops and burgers and the likes. The table next to us ordered a Mixed Grill Platter (for two) that looked really good too!

Since it is a birthday meal, of course how can we go without dessert. The selection was small but this was the only picture on the menu and we saw the actual item on another table, which looked just as good. The Apple Strudel in tortilla with Vanilla Ice-cream:  20130926-083546.jpg

It is interesting to wrap the apple slices in tortillas before deep-frying them (not baked¬†otherwise the skin wouldn’t be crispy), and the vanilla ice-cream was nicely fragrant. I took a mouthful of it and it was good. Apple strudels or apple crumbles are something that I quite enjoy if they are not too sweet; I don’t have too many expectations or requirements of these, heh.

The Chop House has¬†a whole menu¬†of drinks for you to choose from too, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and¬†the service was pretty good. It was a weekend so maybe with the expectation of crowds, they had¬†kept a¬†sizeable staff strength who made sure that diners aren’t kept waiting too long¬†to be attended to. It’s a place worth¬†checking out besides the usual raved-about places that everyone¬†scrambles to queue up just to¬†have dinner. Thumbs up!

spring is here…?

How is it that the weekend passes so quickly, before I can even pause to take a breather?

And it is already March!¬†As I¬†suppose that some other parts of the world welcomes spring and bids adieu to¬†the cold wintry climate, we are dreading the onset of hot humid climate¬†here in Singapore. Over the last week, the¬†temperatures¬†have gotten gradually higher as is the humidity level. Although there are still bouts of¬†storms, the atmosphere isn’t as cool as¬†during December and January for sure. Even most part of February was pretty awesome, except that I hate to be commuting when it’s raining cats and dogs because¬†even with an umbrella, you are bound to get really wet when¬†it rains here.

Again, the weekend saw me being extremely busy, which explains why I don’t usually blog. It isn’t like I have hordes of people to meet, but I just keep myself occupied, gainfully, during the weekend. I did meet up with some friends, some I haven’t seen in more than a year I believe (omg, it has been that long!), and went for Turkish food at Sofra at Shaw Towers. Honestly, I cannot remember its name, because I know it is Shaw-something, but I always cannot recall what’s behind, since in Orchard, there is a Shaw Centre and Shaw Plaza somewhere? The last time I visited Sofra was years ago, although I believe I have been there perhaps at most twice.¬†For it to still be there after so many years, it has¬†to be of a certain standard I gather. We ordered some¬†food to share, including my friend’s highly-demanded hummus and the sesame bread that comes¬†in a big poofy¬†serving. The food¬†that we had, sorry no pictures because it was pretty¬†dimly-lit in the restaurant, which comprised a pide (Turkish pizza), chef’s plate (various mixes of¬†kebab¬†meat), a dish of potato gratin and lamb (cannot recall its name, sultan’s plate or something)¬†and a¬†salad platter (which also had hummus,¬†grilled brinjal amongst¬†others). There was this yogurt drink that my friend ordered, which we were forewarned would be a little salty but my friend didn’t catch that comment, so we were surprised at its taste, like yogurt laced with taste of olives. Weird.

After dinner, we proceeded to Tom’s Palette on the ground floor for ice-cream. It’s a busy store, with people streaming in non-stop in groups. One of my friends mentioned it has grown in size, from a tiny hole-in-the-wall shop to its current size that can accommodate bigger groups of people with proper tables and chairs. They have very interesting ice-cream flavours, including a salted egg yolk (of course I didn’t try it, it is just really weird to have savoury ice-cream don’t you think). I just ordered straight off the look and name of the flavours without testing which is better. They come in sizes of small, medium and large and for each, you can mix up to a maximum of two flavours. I got a small cup for S$3.40 and mixed Earl Grey tea and Rum & Raisin. The Earl Grey is pretty strong, and I got it because I missed Fauchon’s earl grey ice-cream so much, and this came quite close but towards the end it just felt a little much, like it is just strong and intense but nothing else. The Rum & Raisin is good, with very obvious traces of alcohol in it. Most of us stuck to safe flavours, and there was someone who tried an apple rosemary flavour which was not really creamy enough, i.e. it felt more crumbly than creamy. Overall, we think the ice-cream wasn’t too bad but don’t get what the hype about it is about. For S$3.40 for a small cup that is probably just a little more than a scoop of ice-cream, I thought it’s quite pricey, or have I been too out of touch with ice-cream?

Anyway, I got a chocolate gift last Friday! Will try it someday soon I hope, there is still a lot of chocolate lingering in my fridge, most of which I think have already gone past their expiry dates. But where chocolates are concerned, and especially refrigerated ones, I think it is fine to eat them even when expired.¬†Someday if¬†I develop some condition for eating expired food, you all know what’s the cause. ¬†20130304-110628.jpg