Merry (belated) Christmas!

This post concludes the series of posts of the Hong Kong trip, which spanned a week until Christmas day. I flew back in the afternoon, which usually wouldn’t be the case for HK because it doesn’t make sense if it were a 4D3N trip, but since this was a week and because I had originally thought that I would have shifted to a new place by December, I had planned to arrive in SIN in the early evening to allow myself time to… well, settle in and get home.

Anyway, short post with fewer pictures since there wasn’t as much eating done as compared to the past days.

Headed out early in the morning to get a box of biscuits from Kee Wah for mum, even though I know she isn’t that big on all those traditional biscuits. She finds them too sweet, and will usually complain that they are too much to finish (on her own). I guess that’s also where I inherited my calibrated sweet tooth from, because I admit that I have a sweet tooth, but it isn’t all sweet things that I like and can take. So I just bought a box of their 老婆饼, which she kept only 2 and gave the rest away to my aunt, which was really fine. I am trying to not sweat this; if it’s bought for her, she can decide who she wants to gift them to.

After buying the biscuits, I headed back to the hotel, and after our last minute packing, we went to a nearby local cafe for a last local breakfast. This was what my friend ordered, which seemed like the full works – macaroni soup with ham, luncheon meat, sausage, fried egg and spiced beef! Oh wow, this would have been perfect, though if I were ordering it would be instant CQYD noodles instead because I am not a macaroni fan.I think I ordered yuan-yang. But I can’t remember.
Close up of all that awesomeness in a bowl.

This was mine – which as an after-thought, reminds me of McDonald’s big breakfast. It’s a breakfast platter of sausage, ham, fried egg, sausage patty, and a slice of toasted thick toast. I LOVE this thick toast, because even though it’s white bread, it was pretty well toasted so that the bread was nicely-crisp and crunchy to the bite!
Not so keen on the sausage, ham and patty though. They are not bad, but just not ideal because I do hope to cut down on processed stuff. If I can!

That kind of concludes the eating in Hong Kong, for a week. On our flight back, since it’s Christmas day, SQ actually served up a mini log cake as part of the meal, a nice gesture! 

Christmas in Hong Kong

It isn’t the first time I’m taking a vacation in Hong Kong during the Christmas season, or for that matter, somewhere overseas. But maybe it is the simple knowledge of being on holiday that somehow injects a stronger Christmas vibe within me. At least I kind of felt the Christmas festivities more when I was in Hong Kong, which could be due partly to the fact that it was a temporary reprieve for me from the hustle of the renovation works.

Was it last year when I  visited Hong Kong, in early December, that I also saw similar Christmas decorations in SoHo?This year, Star Wars fever has struck everywhere, from Changi Airport replete with figurines and what-not, and also at Times Square in Causeway Bay, which held an exhibition of sorts of these pretty much life-sized mascots!
The Storm Troopers, up close.  The main reason why we were at Causeway Bay that very first day we landed in Hong Kong, was of course to have dinner! I brought my friend to the Matchbox Cafe, also known as Xi Xi. Last year, my friend brought me here and I so loved what I had that I had to return. Unfortunately, they again had run out of the char siew that I liked. It’s weird, I know, to go to a ‘cha-chan-teng’ for char siew, but cooked together with the CQYD noodles, it makes for really amazing comfort food.

However, even without the char siew, we went ahead to order. Their scrambled eggs and toast smeared with butter are also great, because the eggs are so creamy and flavourful and the toast reminded me somewhat of brioche. My friend had the lemon cola which she said was good, and for the trip, she commented that was the best lemon cola she had!
Closer look at the smooth scrambled eggs that also had strips of ham tossed into the mix. Just thinking of it makes me salivate. Haha.  And this was the bowl of noodles that I ordered! CQYD instant noodles with egg (yes, more eggs!) and a stalk of chye sim. I cannot remember if there were other stuff inside, but it was a serious overdose of eggs for me that night! Check out the super retro pair of small scissors that came with my order. Presumably, it’s for cutting the pack of sesame oil that gives CQYD noodles that familiar and addictive flavour. But it could also be for cutting the noodles so that they are more manageable? I don’t suppose it would be the latter, this being Hong Kong and most people should be quite adept with chop sticks!

the rabbit with an X for a mouth 

One of my favourite characters since some time ago has been Miffy, the rabbit that hails from the Netherlands, created by Nick Bruna, with an “X” for a mouth. At least it has a mouth, not like Hello Kitty, the cat without a mouth. Haha.

I remembered that since young, I have liked characters like Snoopy, the beagle without a mouth and speaks with thought balloons. Then there was Garfield, the fat lazy cat. No trend detected there.

So anyhow, I seem to have a fondness of rabbits, whether it’s Miffy or rabbit-print stuff. The only thing that I’m not that keen on would be probably real rabbits. I am not an animal person, or for that matter, pets person. It isn’t that I dislike animals but I just don’t fancy taking care of them or want to have the commitment of looking after them when I don’t know if I can even take care of myself. It could be a poor excuse for being commitment-phobic but oh well. We all have our preferences.So I got a Miffy toy for my birthday this year! Somehow, it looks a bit sad? Like how I generally feel these days perhaps. Or maybe because it was sitting beside the huge-ass slice of Apple Crumble but yet can’t have it!

Thanks for the thought and the gift. With some people, things just always feel the same despite a long bout of absence. I suppose it isn’t the frequency of meeting up that makes the difference, but the fact that we make the effort when we can.

The Clueless Goat, Novena

It had been a while since I discovered The Clueless Goat in the Novena area, one day while I was traipsing towards United Square from Novena Square / Velocity. It is located in the row of shop-houses next to the exit from the tunnel that leads from Novena MRT station, or rather behind it. The official address is 189, Thomson Road, but to me, Thomson sounds like somewhere far away, or maybe it’s just an impression.

Nevertheless, it is really within walking distance of Novena station! It is a fairly small and cosy cafe, probably seats 20-odd to 30 persons max, with a few small tables and one large communal table that can take about 8. I finally got myself to pop in one late Saturday morning for brunch, but I think it isn’t the best time to visit. It was quite packed with the brunch crowd, although I managed to find a seat, at a corner of the communal table no less. However, turnover was also brisk as some of the brunch crowd were really there for brunch and after eating, they promptly cleared off, mostly Caucasians living in the vicinity I suspect. With these brunch peeps, it also means families and young kids or toddlers. I actually do not have an issue with kids, even though I am not exactly fond of them. But if they are adorable and quiet, ok, as long as they are quiet, I don’t have a problem with them. But these kids were all screaming and crying, and that got me really annoyed as I was looking for a place where I could comfortably have brunch while reading a book or something. That was not to be, unfortunately, so I didn’t stay long too.

Anyway, this was what I ordered. The Granola (S$6) – Honey Nut Almond Granola with vanilla infused yogurt & fresh berries, and an add-on of Toast (S$1.50). If you would like to have some spreads, you could order Toast with Butter and Jam (S$4) but of course, for that you could choose Sourdough or Multi-grain bread although I am not sure if it’s also just a slice of toast cut in half like this. I don’t use spreads much so I opted for just plain Toast, and as it could get a little dry, I just plopped some yogurt on top. 🙂

The cashier suggested that the Granola was a rather small portion that wouldn’t be sufficient when I asked about its size, which was also why I ordered the add-on. Looking at its price, I also considered that which was why I asked in the first place. But I think it would have been enough for a small brunch, and for someone like me who feels peckish all the time, it might have been better for me to just order the Granola and have something else later on for tea-break!

Recently, I have been into ordering Yogurts with granola or muesli when I visit cafes, because I really like eating these, and I would like to think that they are a healthy option to have as compared to my usual muffin or cake. But granola or muesli are supposedly sugar-laden too, so I’m really a little unsure. I guess as long as we enjoy what we eat, that should be good enough, after all life is too short to worry so much! The fresh berries were actually one strawberry and perhaps 5 blueberries, haha.
Their coffee is supposed to be good, and I would say that it fits the criteria of gourmet coffee, from its acidity that is reminiscent of all the places that serve good coffee. Again, I would say that I have cheap taste buds because such good coffee to me is bitter, without any sugar or milk. It leaves a really bitter, sour after-taste at the back of my throat, so sometimes I don’t enjoy it as much. I probably have to really make myself go attend some coffee appreciation workshop to learn how to savour good coffee!  And the book that I was trying to read, recommended by a friend recently. I think I would roughly know the gist of the book from its synopsis, but I wonder if there’s any plot twists in it. Let’s find out as I read on when I make some spare time by detaching or disconnecting myself from the digital devices!

The Clueless Goat has quite an alright menu in terms of variety, but many of their brunch items feature eggs, though I suppose if you don’t fancy eggs you could always order their sandwiches, which actually look pretty good when I eyed what other customers were having. I’ll be back next time, but probably at a different timing so that I can have some respite in the cafe and stay a little longer. But take note that they are closed on Mondays and on Tuesdays to Thursdays and Sundays they open only until 6pm.

it’s all about the convenience of coffee 

It is no secret that I am a big fan of cafes. I wanted to say that I am a coffee fan but then again I think I can’t really lay claim to that because as a friend rightly pointed out one day, to my dismay, that despite me being a self-professed / so-called aficionado of coffee, I did not know the difference between an Americano and a Long Black. I now know the difference, thanks to that episode, so I shall just say that I love hanging out at cafes because they are convenient for the lone ranger who is out to seek some caffeine boost and nosh to keep the energy going.

Despite that there are tons of great cafes out there with a uniqueness that chains like Starbucks can’t ever emulate, I seldom check them out, whether locally or abroad. Locally, their locations frequently are prohibiting for me because I do not want to caught in a situation of taking a taxi all the way to some Ulu Sembawang place to look for a cafe only to find out that it’s full, with patrons not seemingly likely to leave anytime soon, or worse, that it is no longer in operation. The latter could be a very real predicament, considering that businesses in Singapore do come and go quite easily due to the competitiveness of the scene. Even overseas, there are times when I stick to the tried-and-tested places because I know I can hang around for a fair bit of time without being ‘chased’ out of a small cafe, and they are easy to locate for someone who might have been walking for hours and just need to get some sustenance.

So anyway, these were some of the ‘convenient’ places that I grabbed my daily coffee and bites at when I was in Tokyo recently.

Some of my friends are coffee snobs, and they turn their noses up at Starbucks’ coffee. Since I used to can’t tell an Americano or Long Black apart, it is also safe to assume that I can’t really distinguish between good or bad coffee. Wrong. If it’s very bad, I certainly can taste it, but my body is not accustomed to very good coffee, which I often associate with strong, acidic coffee that leaves a bit of a bitter/sour after taste at the back of my tongue. They also leave me feeling a little light-headed or high thereafter. So a tall or even grande sized brew coffee or Americano from Starbucks does the trick for me on days when I want to have more fluid in the cup rather than the usual smaller cup of coffee that I would otherwise get from these standalone small joints.
A short-sized Americano with some Cranberry Granola Toast. I don’t think the toast is that healthy, but then I love breads in several, scratch that, many forms, so this makes for a nice morning snack.  A short latte with a cup of Granola and Cranberry Yogurt, something I had just before I took the Airport Limousine Bus to the airport on my way home. These days, we are also starting to see Starbucks Singapore offer more of such options, but they already pre-mixed the granola or whatever else fruits or compote they have into the yogurt. I would have preferred if they were separate because otherwise the crunchy/crispy bits would have lost all the crunch and become too soggy.   On one drizzly evening, before I went for Bikram yoga class, I killed time at Excelsior Cafe with a cup of Americano and a slice of Sakura Tea Cake. Somehow, butter/tea cakes that come in plastic packaging like that creates a preconceived notion in me that the cake won’t be that great, as compared against buying tea cakes that are displayed in a sliced loaf, encased in a glass container. I know it’s weird, but I always get that kind of feeling, and have yet to ascertain the veracity, if those cakes are really not as nice. Who knows?  The weather in Tokyo during the week that I was there was on the overall, great. But there were still moments when the city was shrouded with drizzle. There was just one day when the weather was bad because it rained almost the whole day and made us feel lethargic and tired, but otherwise it was generally ok. I am always spoilt for choice whenever I pop into Dean & Deluca in Tokyo, where the array of pastries and breads available all scream at me to buy them. Their muffins are really good but they are huge, and I am quite wary of these sugar bombs even if I still do give in to the craving sometimes. But then again, this slice of Caramelized bread probably isn’t much better, except that the interior didn’t feel/taste as sweet as a muffin would, and I kind of tore off the sticky parts. :p And lastly, on my last morning in Tokyo, I finally found Mister Donut! I didn’t have this when I was in Bangkok last year because the donuts on display then looked kind of sad, so I made sure I went there to have my favourite Pon De Ring. But I was a little disappointed, and started to wonder if this was my usual because the glazed ring didn’t taste as good as I recalled. Perhaps the one I used to have wasn’t this variant.. Hmm. Oh well, at least I tried it and maybe the next time, I can give it a miss already.

喜喜, Hong Kong

A trip to Hong Kong would not be complete without visiting one of their 茶餐厅, which is loosely translated as Tea Restaurant. These are essentially Hong Kong-style coffee shops that sell a variety of local food including buns, toast, noodles, and so on, not forgetting the aromatic Hong Kong milk tea that I really enjoy. Of course, their menu items can get really extensive and most of these are open for long hours, some even operating 24 hours so they serve anything from breakfast, lunch, dinner to morning and afternoon teas.

I don’t normally have their full breakfasts because a lot of them tend to include macaroni as one of the breakfast items, part of a set of a beverage, bread that is lightly toasted or some variant of their well-known pineapple bun (菠萝包), and usually a serving of scrambled eggs. That is one huge breakfast, much more than our humble breakfast set at Yakun. So anyway, back to December last year, I finally had my fix of a local cafe one night and ordered what typically will be frowned upon at that time of the day/night.

20140205-220405.jpgOmelette (since I don’t think this counts as scrambled eggs) with ham and spring onions, which is honestly quite delicious and fried to the right perfection for me. Who cares if it might be oily for that hour? It was accompanied by buttered toast that again, though sinful, because of the butter smeared on it and toasted, had my resistance crumbling in its face.

Then there is the main draw for me, soupy instant noodles with barbeque pork (aka char siew)! I suspect that the green peas are included for the sake of faking some semblance of healthy eating (vegetables?) but entirely futile, even if I ate them all and I really do quite love green peas. The char siew was heavenly to me despite that I am having it at a 茶餐厅, or I was just too deprived of it for too long. It is not overly roasted or perhaps it being dunked in the soup base made it softer but generally I thought it was fairly tender yet not too soft even with the fatty bits.

20140205-220411.jpgNot pictured is the milk tea that came much later, because the waitress missed out my order. I really adore their version of milk tea, which our teh-c kosong (tea with evaporated milk and no sugar) doesn’t even come anywhere close to imitating. Somehow the tea we have here just isn’t as fragrant or the tea taste just isn’t really there.

I couldn’t seem to find out more about this particular place that I went to, called 喜喜, which my friend brought me to, in a quieter part of Causeway Bay away from the bustling activity of the Times Square or Sogo areas. But I’m pretty sure there are tonnes of such cafes everywhere in Hong Kong, and I can’t wait for my next trip there for more of the yummy Hong Kong food!

Salad, Toast

I can be so lazy at times, that despite having some available time on hand, and having lots of lofty ideas about checking out the growing list of cafes that I made a mental note to check out, I almost always settle back into familiar territory and not venture beyond Orchard area, or the town areas. Even if some of these cafes may be accessible by MRT, I am a little apprehensive, because of the lack of options in their vicinity, should there be say, no available seats, or if somehow what they have do not appeal to me. That said, I should still nevertheless, continue to aim to visit the new joints that seem to have mushroomed all over our little tiny island city state in recent years. I just hope they have sufficient business to keep them going before I have a chance to drop in!

So I went back to one of the places that I really liked, but do not have the opportunity to visit often. I love most things about Toast, from its deco to its display and of course, their food options! I have tried their salads and sandwiches, cupcakes and pastries and I cannot recall any instance where I have not enjoyed what I have ordered. The only downsides that I can possibly think of, are that it is quite small and have extremely limited seats, and the positioning of the cashier. The salad bar, together with the cake and pastries display, is what greets you when you enter the cafe, and the cashier is located all the way deep inside, but customers are required to place their orders at the cashier, instead of the easier option to let them order directly from the shop assistants manning the display counters before heading to settle the payment. I wanted to order a 2-combo salad and was asked to place my order at the cashier, and as I tried to recall the names of the 2 options I wanted, it was hard not being able to see the display. The cashier didn’t make things easier because he himself wasn’t sure of what each item was called. In the end, one item was wrongly given, but the auntie at the salad was nice to give me a scoop of what I had originally wanted, at no extra charge, on top of what was already given. After all, this 2-combo already costs S$8.

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I thought I’d try to be a little healthier with what I eat, so I picked the salad, but it seemed to still be not-so-healthy due to one item having a fair bit of dressing that was quite creamy. Otherwise, the ingredients all seemed to be good for the body! Broccoli, carrots, pumpkins, tofu, potatoes, veggies, etc. I was really lusting after the cakes in the display but unfortunately, I didn’t think I would have any space for them on top of the salad and coffee (again, yes I think it’s weird to have coffee with salad but this was my first coffee of the day and I was already experiencing caffeine-withdrawal at that time), so the cakes will have to wait until the next time, especially if I can find an accomplice to share them with! Anyone? 🙂20131011-091915.jpg

Goodness in a plate. Wish there were more of such options available island-wide, so that we can all strive towards healthy eating and living, at least on an occasional basis! I have been eating economic rice (Chinese “chye png”) on an almost daily basis at work, which besides the fact that is boring although I can be one who eats the same thing day-in-day-out, is not exactly healthy considering that most of the dishes, even the vegetables that I order, seem to be cooked in an abundance of oil with copious amounts of sodium added. I know there is always the choice to choose yong tau foo that can be healthy based on what I pick to go into the end-product but that stall has a long wait-time, and I am lazy to make and bring my own lunch to office.