The Chronicles of 2011

And yet another year has passed! I've not been blogging as regularly as I'm used to and I'm not proud of that... I'd blame it on the move down south that's been keeping me busy hehehe. 

The usual review of the year... It's been a year of extremes, it's been either really mundane or shooting off the charts, in short, a roller coaster ride.

On the highest peak of the ride, one that takes the cake with cherry on top has to be the move across the Causeway. It has not been a breeze and I am expecting more challenges.

The difference in environment is something I will have to learn to adapt, but don't get me wrong. I love living in Singapore, it's a great city! It's just so different from the tidak apa of my homeland. Here people do pay for the consequences if they are in the wrong. I miss my country, that's for sure but it's a small price to pay in my pursue for a better quality of life.

 I've also, finally, gotten my license to breathe underwater! It's something that I've been putting off for the longest time. And in fact, it wasn't supposed to happen this year at all, due to obvious procrastination, financial constraint la, work constraint la... The list goes on.

But I'm glad I went on the crash course (2 levels squashed in four days). It's opened up a whole new world, literally, to be explored. The experience and stillness of scuba diving is out of this world! On the downside, it's a freaking expensive hobby :s But that's where the higher exchange rate comes in eh, eh ngeh ngeh ngeh.

In terms of traveling, I've only covered one country! Well, two, including Singapore but that hardly counts, right? I've set higher goals for next year, fingers crossed, I'll be jet setting all over (a bit exaggerating). In fact, ideally I would love to be able to travel at least once every quarter.

In terms of family, I feel I've been putting in more effort to keep in touch. There are circumstances where I am pushed to my limits because of the insensitivity of a certain overweight party, but it is a case where there is not much I can do to change, only hope that realization will come and slap the other victimized and also overweight party with sense.

I try to put in time for my parents, whom I love dearly. There is no substitute for family love ;) It's been over a year now Ah Ma has moved on and I'm proud to say that everyone had moved on. We all still miss her but all the same, I'm just really glad to be able to have known her, tasted her cooking and able to take a part of her with me permanently in memory.....

Friends come and go but there are only a certain handful of friends that stick to you through thick and thin. I've learnt to recognize these people and appreciate their qualities, our similarities and even differences (at least that's what I would like to think).

Looking back through my blog, I realized that I've been going on a lot of makan sessions. I've got to try to get myself in more physical activities (ahem), with prioritization on enrolling to a gym here!! Also very interested to try out rowing...

I don't want to get too long-winded lah. I think I've pretty much covered the important aspects of life... Here's to a great year ahead! Happy new year 2012!

Signing off on the last post for 2011.

Turning Twenty Six

When you reach a phase in life when you have to joke about your age (Q: How old are you this birthday? A: 21! *shrill giggle), you know you're on the highway to the big 30.

Still, like they always say, age is just a number! Still so many things to do, so many place to go.

 MCC made birthday lam mee a couple of days before my birthday! And she made it without knowing my birthday is creeping up hehe. But the lam mee was superb! I especially loved the sambal (would you believe it's ready made, taken out from a jar purchased in Giant).

 I must say, I feel very loved indeed this year.... Didn't know so many people still remembered my birthday (gotta thank Facebook for that). Su En gave me a surprise which already gave itself out! I came back from work on the eve of my birthday and saw a huge cake box sitting in the fridge and occupying almost a whole shelf to itself. Lol. Don't  mean to be perasan but what else could it be for :S 

Thanks Kakak :D

 Dinner with SE, MCC and IKK @ Picotin Turf Club. Place recommended by MCC since I requested for a French dining. Those two husband-wife gang really cutthroat...

 I lav rose wine :D

 Our first appetizer! Pan-fried foie gras en croute, spiced pear chutney, old port emulsion. What can I say... eating foie gras is always so sinful... like eating pure fat (which in a way is also correct). And the foie gras goes surprisingly well with the pear chutney! Can not get enough of this yum yum.

 MCC's choice of  steamed clams, white wine, aromatic vegetables and fresh parsley. Being not much of a seafood person (I'm a meat person!) so the clams are pretty meh to me. It's like something you could order in a Chinese restaurant?

 Both SE and MCC were seated across each other and unknowingly to both, they ordered the duck confit and both IKK and I, seated opposite, ordered the beef bourguignon.

Duck leg confit, sausage and orange glaze. It was a meal of meat, meat and more meat.... Duck leg confit was sitting on bits of what MCC claims to be ham. It was really salty! Well seeing that duck confits are normally made using loads of salt (but usually not tasting very salty at all), probably it was really a bed of salt?

 My main of  'classic beef bourguignon, mushrooms, bacon, shallots braised in red wine and  mashed potatoes. Beef was really, really tender! But to be frank, the whole dish was really filling as well. It wasn't the bed of potatoes, but the culprit was the braised beef! As much as I liked it, I couldn't bring myself to finish it unfortunately :(

 Oh! We also ordered pizza (these people are gluttons in a whole new category), some more ordered already can't even finish! We ended up tapao-ing three-quarters of the pizza back. Still, pizza was good though.

 Su En insisted I take this shot, Notice anything funny? 

All of us were stuffed to the brim after our mains. But there always has got to be room for dessert right? So I placed an order for the creme brûlée... Then right.... suddenly it felt kinda warm and from the back a waiter carried a plate of cake with candle!

 Birthday song and all.... Yeay! Ice cream cake on the house. Initially we were stabbing the cake with forks and the surface was covered in chocolate with what appeared to be thick sponge cake underneath. After a series of stabbing, the waiter approached us and pointed out that he has also provided a knife to cut the cake with lol. Only when IKK did cut the cake through did we realize there's ice-cream under! LOL.

Focus a bit off cause I forgot to change the camera setting. It was on macro mode! :S

Creme brûlée with assorted berries and sorbet. 

 The mess from all that stabbing and selective feeding...

Phew..... another night of celebration... with great friends :)

Jo Lynn texted me whether I wanted to have Chinese, Mexican or Western. So I chose Mexican since it's been a while I've had good Tex-Mex food. 

 So JL brought us to this place in Holland Village called La Patio or something like that. It was a Wednesday so Sangria is only $7! Apa lagi.... hehehhe.

 My Texas Grill Fajitas... more meat on the menu ...

 And more cake! Lol... Heng Ving bought two little cakes, one for sharing and another one for me to tapao back LOL!

 Interior. By the way, I've concluded that my 4S sucks at taking night shots or any shots at all in a low light setting. My trusty old camera does a better work than the overrated 4s!

 Thanks guys!

Look at me... all red and flustered. After so much meat and booze, coupled with lack of sleep, all that could only mean one thing right?

Yaah.... got the suei-est present... fever! Crysanthemum tea in the office... lol!

So Cheap!

If there's one thing I enjoy about living in Singapore, it's gotta be the really affordable groceries.

See, every time I go grocery shopping in KL, the bill comes up to RM100+, easily. So far I haven't reached that record (thank god) here.

So there was one day when Su En and I went grocery shopping and we bought so many things, but!!! What's even more shocking was the bill!

I'll put the items into figures and you'll see what I mean... I'm going to put in an estimate of what I can get for the similar items in KL ;)

#01  Frozen fish fillets x 2             SGD  6.60         MYR 10.00
#02  4.4kg Dynamo detergent      SGD  9.85         MYR 22.00
#03  1.2L Body shampoo            SGD  2.95         MYR   7.50      
#04  Broccoli                              SGD  1.62         MYR   3.50
#05  Onions                                SGD  1.25         MYR   2.00
#06  Red chili padi                      SGD  0.80         MYR   1.20
#07  Spinach                               SGD  1.35         MYR   2.20
#08  Minced pork                       SGD  2.58         MYR   6.60 (pork is like super expo in Msia)
#09  Post Almond cereal             SGD  5.90         MYR  14.50 (my favourite cereal! Now so affordable!)
#10  Pancake mix                       SGD   4.55        MYR  8.90
#11  Vermicelli                           SGD   0.95        MYR  2.00
#12  Farmhouse milk                  SGD   2.65        MYR  8.50 (Farmhouse is like milk with gold bits in Msia)
#13  Blueberries                         SGD   5.90        MYR 15.00 (Yea you see that right!)
#14  Grapefruits                         SGD   1.25        MYR  2.00 (I dunno how much so I cincaily put one low price).
#15  Eggs                                  SGD   1.95         MYR  5.50
#16  Maggi mee Kari Letup       SGD   2.00         MYR  3.50
#17  Dole bananas                     SGD   1.41         MYR  4.50

Some more after that got added discounts from Fairprice cos got promotion..... you ready for the nett total??

Damage in MYR = 119.40 (See see, over RM100 d)

Damage in SGD = 49.80 !! (including GST!)

It's almost like a direct exchange rate. How come!! My favourite has to be the ultra cheap blueberries! It's like the good ol' Houston days when I would load on the blackberries (they are like USD2 for a small box) and pile them on with ice-cream. Bliss!!

Now I use them for smoothies ;)

Ippudo Ramen

I've been a huge slacker lately, I know! Haven't been updating as regularly as I should. But there just isn't time to lug out the laptop, transfer pictures, edit and compose :P 

Well, yeah, excuses.

So it's back to one of my passion - eating! Popo was asking around for recommendations on a belated birthday rendezvous and I've heard so much of this place - Ippudo-  from ex-colleagues and the blogosphere.

Dinner was supposed to be at 8, but here's what happened:

5:00pm - Text from Popo. Dinner arranged at 8pm.

6:30pm - Another text from Popo saying she will be late as Wei Kiang's flight is delayed. I proposed changing the appointed time to 8:30pm but no replies from her. Fine.

7:45pm - Made my way towards Orchard. Received text from Jo Lynn saying she will be 15 mins late.

8:00pm - Met up with a couple others, then waited for Jo Lynn. Received another text from Jo Lynn that Heng Ving will arrive later.

8:15pm - Received call from Heng Ving. He said he's only able to reach 30-40 minutes later.

8:20pm - Jo Lynn arrived and we decided to head towards Mandarin Gallery where Ippudo is located, which is about 10 minutes walk from Orchard MRT.

8:40pm - Located the restaurant and a long line was already formed.

8:50pm - Popo and Wei Kiang arrived (with luggage and all LOL). But we were still in mid-queue.
9:00pm - Finally got to the front of the line and one of the staff inquired for the number of people to be seated. 10 I said and we walked into the restaurant. Bloody hell! Still another line to queue indoors -.- Oh and Heng Ving arrived d.

9:10pm - One of the staff informed us that a VIP room was available but we are only able to have 50 minutes of dinner time. Fine with us!

9:15pm - Seated and ordered -___- Was starving like mad then.

 But service was pretty good and the waitress was funny and tolerated with our dumb jokes hahahah. Best part was we got to have a whole room to ourselves and thank goodness for that because we did make quite a ruckus.

Ippudo has a couple of branches in Singapore, outside of Japan and another one in the United States I think. They are hyped for their ramen noodles and broth, and also the fact that you could customize the level of 'done-ness' of your ramen noodles, such as chewy or really soft etc.

Ippudo came up with a few teaser dishes for their Grand Menu and these are the two we tried!

Bottom: ASPARA OHITASHI with ONSEN TAMAGO ($8 I think)
"This is a cold appetiser featuring chilled asparagus immersed in special soy sauce, served with hot spring egg."

Popo reckons that the asparagus were a bit too matured (as in fibrous) but I think mine was alright. I just loved the hot spring egg! I wish that the egg came in a bowl so you could sorta dip your asparagus in. Hmm...

"Deep-fried pork cutlet with egg and onions."

I didn't think it was really special or jaw-dropping but it was good in any case (which deep fried isn't??).

 The long awaited ramen! I ordered this Akamaru Kasaneaji.
 "Original recipe enhanced with Ippudo's special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil. Served with thin noodles, Buta Bara (pork belly), kikurage and spring onions, Ippudo's original refined modern style ramen."

Verdict: Unfortunately, falls a little short of expectation! I mean the noodles are great (I chose the chewiest texture of ramen) and the broth is simply packed with flavours and delicious, and all that but I think I may have tried a better one at Santouka in Tokyo Street Pavilion KL :S The one at Santouka was really simple, but the broth was crazily amazing.

At $15 plus $2 for additional Nitamago (flavoured egg), this is the costliest bowl of ramen I've ever had!

 Shiromaru Motoaji-
"Original recipe tonkotsu soup served with thin noodles. Rosu chashu (pork loin), cabbage, kikurage and spring onion. Smooth yet classic Hakata-style ramen."

Popo ordered this I tried hers. It's more alike the one I tried at Santouka hehehe.... Comparably, the ramen I had was richer, whereas the Shiromaru Motoaji was simpler. I'll be trying this bowl the next time I come here :D

 Gyoza!!! There were 5 of them in a plate and omg I love them! They are kind of small but it has the right amount of pork versus amount of vegetable or whatever that makes up a gyoza! Then when you put in the whole thing in your mouth right.... bliss! For some reason, Ippudo gyoza has a little soup filling, kind of like what you get from xiao long baos, but not as much as XLB, which I think is really good cause the gyozas I've tried before now seems too dry in comparison! lol.

 Springy noodles :D

 Interior of the restaurant. Very nice settings really but it's just too bad that you have to queue THAT long for  a bowl of ramen :s Darn it Singaporeans! :p

p/s Photos taken from my new iphone 4s ;) nice or not :D

Ippudo Singapore
333A Orchard Road
#04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery
Singapore 238897
Tel: 6235 2797

Pulau Ubin on Two Wheels

So Su En was trying to play the good host and one of the free Saturdays we had, we decided to head for Pulau Ubin - to cycle. 

Anyway weather is really crazy on this part of the world. It'd be really hot and humid one minute, then next thing you know, it's raining like a whole herd of cows were sacrificed to Rain God. On that particular Saturday morning, I was already up by 7am. It was cloudy out, but no signs of rain - yet. Then I received a text from Sue Wern. She said she'd just checked the weather forecast and there are hances of rain around Pulau Ubin. So she suggested we head for Bedok instead.

Su En pulak was determined to go ahead with Ubin anyways. In her words, if she's getting up so early, it's got to be to bring me to Ubin, cause she won't want to get up super early another time to do it again lol.

Took the risk and went on with Ubin anyways.

And guess what, weather was great! It was overcast, no direct sunlight. It was really pleasant and great for cycling. The boat ride from the jetty to the island took about 15minutes. Once we stepped foot on the island, we were greeted by rows and rows of bicycles for rental. 

Bicycles are rented between $8-10 for the whole day. Us girls were more interested in the 'pretty' two-wheelers than the functionality lol. Another friend from work, JL, took a mountain bike while the rest of us settled for the cute/pink/Ah Ma's pasar transport sort hehehe. I picked a light pink one, with a little basket in front and a bell that sounded like it had sore throat.

Who would have thought that Singapore holds such great nature?

I especially love this shot I took of SW. 

Su En brought us around and we finally reached the tallest point of the island. Huffing and puffing all the way up, the rewarding view -
 Nice eh? This shot doesn't do the view justice.... Love the cliff on the other side of the river... We also met a couple from Israel who were extremely surprised when we told them we know of Israel and where it is located haha. 

As usual, after a hard (somewhat debatable) workout, there's always extra calories to make up for the lost ones!

There was this huge seafood restaurant and thronged by the majority of the visitors. Su En led us right past the restaurant, and made a detour to a small little coffeeshop a couple of lots away.

Food was very good. We ordered stir-fry kailan, ginger chicken in dark sauce, omelette and also deep fried calamari rings :D In fact I had a shot of the calamari rings but it was blurry. Anyways, we were almost done with the three dishes in the picture before the calamari arrived. This uncle who brings out the plates from the kitchen was really blur. He kept bringing our food to another table! Then I think it was his wife who told him off and scolded him hehehehe poor uncle.

We only managed to cycle a part of the Ubin island, but Sue Wern and I were already planning to get here again and finish the other section!

Familiar Food in a Foreign Land

The others roped me in to cook for them :S

Tried out Mum's daun kaduk fried rice! Think Singapore doesn't have daun kaduk? Think again! They grow at the most unlikely of places, by the pavement outside my hotel, outside SE's place like a whole swamp!

Funny story is when we were trying to collect these leaves. We were walking past a walkway on the pavement when SE commented that she's seen those plants and asked us if those are daun kaduk. They sure looked like them, and I plucked one out, smells like one! 

So in order to pluck a whole bunch out without getting caught, three of us, MCC, SE and I pretended to stroll outside the hotel and later acted like we'd seen something interesting in the bushes. Then we started plucking whole bunches of the leaves. I think it would be downright ignorant of the passer-bys to not have noticed us as we were making quite a ruckus, giggling and all hahahah. There was this one apek who kept looking over at us and walking back and forth. Damn kepo ish.

We told Mum about our little act of thievery and she sent us an email, asking us to really make sure they are daun kaduk and edible if not we'll lose our voices lol.

Slaving in the kitchen one and a half hours later,


MCC's herbal soup on the left, then clockwise my yummy stir fried pork slices with taters, daun kaduk fried rice, cashew nuts garnishings and stir fried sawi :D

Everyone said the fried rice was yummy! Though there were a few ingredients from Mum's recipe I left out because I couldn't get them, it was still very fragrant and best suited for the Penang Nonya tastebuds.

This shall be the bane on those hungry nights! Potatoes practically melt in your mouth, the onions so sweet...bliss!

One and a half hour of preparation and cooking. Less than half hour to wipe all clean :S But home -cooked food is worth it!

Second round:

Steamed fish Thai style. Couldn't get bunga kantan though, so the fish lacks the oomph, but nonetheless, all gone....

Jiu hu char that Sien Ee cooked and left frozen. Wrapped in lettuce with spicy sambal belacan (superb and authentic, from a jar, if you can believe it!), steamed egg and pork meat.

Survival skills 101: Must know how to cook! Or else you'd die from cravings and lack of appetite. :D

The Georgian Adventure - Hike to Chalaadi Glacier

Our third, and last hike in Svaneti. There are so many more places to hike and explore around Georgia, it was a hard decision to premature...