Welcome to WorkingWithGrace! :)

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Hi! I’m Grace. Welcome to my blog, WorkingWithGrace. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have interviewed a number of inspiring people for my blog, many of whom are celebrities, millionaires and entrepreneurs. Here’s one of them…

Meet Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.ย Peter was one of my former interviewees, and here’s a quick clip for those who have never met him before:

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Since 2013, this blog has received awards and recognition from many brands. I’ve been blessed with awards such as these ones:

2013 Best Individual Blog WINNER at the annual Singapore Blog Awards
2013 Aries Gold Watches’ Blogger Contest WINNER
2013 Zespri Blogger Challenge WINNER
2013 StarHub Blogger Challenge WINNER
2014 BRANDS’ Blogger Challenge WINNER
2014 Influr Blogger Challenge WINNER
2014 rolleyes x Panasonic Blogger Challenge WINNER
2015 SingSaver Blogger Contest WINNER

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I’ve been blogging since 2010 (that seems like such a long time now) ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ll be tagging some of my favorite 2017 blogposts here. Just scroll on to read the latest posts…

#1: CNY Floral Arrangement @ Bright Hill Evergreen Home

Bright Hill Evergreen nursing home

Continue scrolling to read more of my latest blogposts! ๐Ÿ˜€

Lazada’s 3rd Birthday: 18% Discount Code + Up To 90% Off Deals

Lazada Singapore Discount Code

Lazada is celebrating its 3rd birthday starting tomorrow, from 21st to 23rd March, and there will be discounts of up to 90%, with over 300 flash deals! But best of all, there’llย be surprise boxes comprising items from brands like Laneige, Neutrogena, Philips, 3M, Nivea, Maybelline, etc. Those boxes will contain items worth $100 from one particular brand but will be sold at a very low price, just like Japanese fukubukuro grab bags. I’ve gotten a preview of the 3M x Lazada box, which will be launched on 21st March, at 8am. As I’ve been purchasing 3M products on the Lazada Singapore website, and am aย 3M fan, Lazada reached out to me with a referral link plus discount code, and invited me to blog about the items I like…

There are a total of 17 items in the 3M x Lazada box, with 14 different products. I can easily pick out my favorites since I’ve been using 3M products to clean my home.

I’ve been recommending folks to get these 2 products:

(1) 3M Scotch-Brite Aloe Vera Coated Gloves

3M Scotch-Brite Aloe Vera Coated Gloves

Thumbs up for this product! ๐Ÿ™‚

These gloves come in 3 sizes (S,M,L). And I’ve discovered that the M and L sizes fit my hands nicely – I can buy one size when the other is out of stock (and they usually are!) What this means is the gloves are *not* designed for men to use. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I do wonder why. Although it’s not something which can be felt, per se, I’m still glad to note that the gloves have an internal coating of aloe vera gel as some of the household cleaning detergents we use can be rather harsh on our skin.

I have been using these gloves mainly when washing clothes and when I’m cleaning the floor, and discovered that they are pretty durable. There was once, though, when I’d needed a new pair of 3M aloe vera gloves to use when cleaning the kitchen sink but they were sold out online so I bought a pair from another brand. There’s not a huge difference in price ($2.95 vs. $2), but there’s a noticeable difference in quality. I’d happily pay the extra 95 cents for the 3M ones.

(2) 3M Scotch-Brite Clean Rinse No Scratch Scrubber

3M Scotch-Brite Clean Rinse No Scratch Scrubber

I’d first bought these a long time back because of that irresistible tagline: “Even Rice, Eggs & Cheese Won’t Stick”. If you have pots and pans at home that come with non-stick coatings, you’ll want to get one of these amazing scrubbers. I use it for my rice cooker, of course, and to get the oil and grime off pans.

It’s dual-sided so use the firmer surface for the heavy duty cleaning work, and the softer surface for items like cups or kettles.

No Scratch Scrubber

The softer side for gentle cleaning ๐Ÿ™‚

A pack of 2 costs $6.60 (promo price) on Lazada. I believe every kitchen will need one of these. And you don’t need to change them often either, unlike the regular kitchen sponges which tend to trap a lot of food and grime.

And this nextย product is my new favorite:

(3) 3M Scotch-Brite High Performance Bathroom Cloth

3M Scotch-Brite High Performance Bathroom Cloth

It’s extremely wasteful, I have to admit, but I’m used to cleaning mirrors at home with wet tissues as I’m afraid of getting scratches on the mirrors when using regular cleaning cloths. However, this 3M bathroom cloth is “lint and scratch free” and can be used to cleanย all types of bathroom surfaces, such as your mirrors and taps!

A 3-pc bundle costs $15 (promo price) on Lazada SG.

All 3 items listed above can be found in the 3M x Lazada box that’s retailing at $29. The entire box of 3M goodies is worth $100, so getting it at $29 is truly a steal. ๐Ÿ™‚

THIS BOX OF GOODIES CAN BE YOURS:

Lazada Discount Code

GET IT HERE FROM 21st MARCH!

Grab one of these boxes of 3M cleaning supplies and you’re all set for the rest of the year!

New customers can get 18% off with my voucher code: WOWGRACE18 (valid from 21st to 23rd March, capped at $8). This means the already-heavily-discounted surprise box can be yours at just $23.78 after the discount!

–> Click here to be directed to Lazada Singapore’s websiteย <–

Happy Shopping!

*Update: If you’re using a Citibank Credit Card, use code CITILAZ20 instead for 20% discount. My personal code WOWGRACE18 gives you 18% discount. I’d like you to save more money even if it means I get less/no referral earnings ๐Ÿ™‚

Excuse Me, Are You An Insurance Agent?

insurance agent

It’s the school holidays, and everywhere I go, it seems I’ll run into some insurance agents. I couldn’t even go get a new laptop at the IT fair happening at Suntec (‘cos my old laptop died) without getting approached 3 times. I believe theirs is a REALLY tough job because how does one approach a stranger in public and convince them to listen to a spiel about insurance without (1) pretending to do a survey, (2) giving out some freebies in exchange for that completed “survey” form and (3) telling some half-truths or outright lies (such as how that survey will take “only 1 minute”)?

After all, “Hi! Would you like to get an insurance policy?” is not going to cut it with most, if not all, Singaporeans.

When I’m not in a hurry to head elsewhere, I’ll usually sit and chat with them. Can’t help if they want to give me freebies like portable chargers and shopping vouchers. Trust me, I’ll put those to good use.

I do think some (rookie) agents say the funniest things. One agent I met was going all out to impress me. First, he said his company has “tied up with POSB” to offer POSB account holders (ONLY!) the chance to ‘upgrade’ their accounts so they can get 3% interest rate, instead of the 0.05% they are getting now. Oh cool. I wonder why no POSB staff told me that the last time I was in their bank, which was just last week. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then he said his company is “backed by the Government and MAS in offering this (savings) plan” so I need not worry. Everything is safe… and “guaranteed” (against what, I wonder?) And whom exactly is he referring to when he says “the Government” is backing this. A particular Minister, maybe? I’d hazard a guess that it’s the Finance Minister. ๐Ÿ˜›

It’s good that he made all these wild claims because it was a clear signal to me that I shouldn’t believe a word he’s saying. Insurance companies NEED to send their agents for more (and better quality) training that’s, hopefully, backed by the Government. ‘Cos if the G’s name is going to be used, then the G had better have some say regarding how it’s being used.

Obviously, there will be rookie agents saying the most fantastic things, and there are honest and capable agents out there. So HOW does one spot the difference? And is it easy to spot the difference, IF the rookie agents have been told by their managers to memorize some script beforehand?

This list isn’t exhaustive, but is just a rough guide:

(1) Questions that are extremely intrusive – At two separate roadshows, I got asked what the exact sums in my OA, SA, MA accounts were (referring to my CPF monies, in case you were wondering), how much I earn every month, how much I spend every month, how much I have as savings in my bank account, how many bank accounts I have, etc. It’s kind of like asking a girl (on the first date) her bra size and whether she’s had multiple sex partners. It’s highly inappropriate. The more tactful and experienced agents will probably ask about housing type (without asking for too many details, e.g. price) and the holidays I’ve been on recently (which would indicate, roughly, the amount of disposable income).

(2)ย Forcing you to sign the documents immediately – You’ll get really fantastic lies: “The freebies will be gone by the time you return the next time”, “I just need your IC now to generate the documents so I can tell the company to reserve one of each freebie for you; you can decide later on which plan you want”, “You can sign up as policyholder first, and it’s easy to switch the policy to your sister later”, etc. When you meet someone like that, be willing to get up and leave. If you don’t want to cause a scene, then explain you’re really uncomfortable with making a snap decision like that so you have to think about it first. Remind the agent that his/her company will allow for a free-look period anyway, so the paperwork would be done in vain if you simply change your mind tomorrow. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(3) Needing reinforcements – This one is rather obvious: the agent will be accompanied by another agent or his/her manager. It’s one of the worst pressure tactics. 2 versus 1. If one person makes a snide remark regarding your inability to pay for something, for instance, and the other simply watches to see how you’ll respond, you might be tempted to say “Of course I can afford this. Here you go, take my money.” If your agent needs reinforcements, then you really have to wonder who will be your servicing agent should you need to make a claim, for instance. The manager will obviously not see you as his/her client. And the rookie, well, might be too inexperienced to help you out. So, basically, you’re on your own.

What should WE, as consumers, do to help the insurance industry weed out the story-spinners and less-than-honest agents?ย 

Firstly, we need to refer our family members and friends to the agents we trust and value. If we don’t do this, our loved ones might end up falling prey to unscrupulous salespeople. And the worst thing that can happen to us is if our decent agent leaves the industry because it’s getting harder and harder to get new clients (who have been scared off by the nasty ones) and a new agent takes over all our servicing issues. Oh dear.

Secondly, we need to educate ourselves and learn to ask the tough questions. Don’t buy a plan just to “support” someone, especially if it’s way out of your budget. A good financial planner will help you work through the sums and only recommend what is feasible, necessary and most suitable (after comparing similar plans across the various insurance companies).

Thirdly, we need to keep our own GREED in check. It’s especially tough when we’re told something is 100% safe, and guaranteed, AND we get Apple Store gift cards or shopping vouchers worth $250 or more, simply by agreeing that our money needs to earn us 3% interest instead of 0.05%. Free gifts are never “free”. You’re paying for them the minute you sign on the dotted line. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But what if you don’t know of any decent insurance agents even though you believe in the importance of being insured?

(1) Ask a trusted friend. I feel flattered when friends turn to me for recommendations. I’m pretty straightforward in that if there’s no one I feel comfortable risking my reputation for, I’ll not make any referrals. The people I refer (whether they be insurance agents, speakers/trainers, facial therapists, etc) are really good. And even though I don’t earn a cent from the referral, I don’t lose any sleep or worry that my friends will get any less than what I got.

(2) Speak to many agents before committing to one. There are insurance roadshows happening at just about every busy MRT station and shopping mall. The more people you talk to, the better you’ll get at identifying the sort of salespeople who resonate with you. Take as long as you need to think things through before committing to one. Don’t let their claims of freebies running out force you into making a decision on the spot. Always remember: once you decide to sign, you can still say ‘no’ if they don’t hand over the freebie first. To close the deal, you’ll definitely get your freebie, on your own terms. So don’t fall prey to pressure tactics.

(3) Get yearly reviews and don’t buy too much at once. An agent sold my parents a plan (that’s for me) when I was a wee lil kid, and while I received birthday cards every year from her company (it’s all auto-generated), I never saw her again. Not even once. So, buy one plan first (remember: it must be well within your budget), then ask the agent to meet you for a review the following year. If he/she hems and haws, or ignores you totally, then pat yourself on the back for not placing all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. But if you sense that the person is sincere, go ahead and ask what else needs to be done to secure the future for yourself as well as that of your loved ones.

I believe every industry has good people, some bad eggs, some rookies worth retaining, and some rookies who should look for jobs elsewhere. So don’t feel bad about not supporting a rookie who’s not a good fit for the industry. Perhaps his/her manager has put in more effort in recruitment than in training newbies.

So the next time someone approaches you to ask “Excuse me, are you currently studying or working?”, you can ask “Are you an insurance agent? How long have you worked in this company?” ๐Ÿ˜‰ I suspect it’ll totally catch them by surprise.

Just 1 Day! Nature’s Farm Supplements At An Incredible $3.80 ONLY!

Nature's Farm Singapore

When I first found out that Nature’s Farm was celebrating International Women’s Day (8th March) today with a special 1-day-only offer on their supplements – pay just $3.80 PER BOTTLE – I found it a bitter pill to swallow. I’d just bought a batch of supplements from them, before the news of this great offer came out. So there was only one thing left to do: go and buy more of the heavily discounted supplements. ๐Ÿ˜€

Besides the $3.80 vitamin C supplements for children, you can also pay $3.80 for any these ones:

  1. Evening Primrose Oil 1000 (60 softgels) – usual price: $28.50
  2. Spirulina 1000 (60 tablets) – usual price: $35.80
  3. Milk Thistle Extract (60 capsules) – usual price: $43.80

The best part is there’s no minimum spending required and the offer is open to members AND non-members. Of course,ย it’s all while stocks last. So head there early (I definitely did) and stock up. ๐Ÿ™‚ $3.80 is really too good a deal to miss.

*To avoid disappointment, CALL your preferred outlet before heading over. The supplements are definitely flying off the shelves. The popular kids’ vitamins might already be sold out in some stores!

(This post was *not* done in collaboration with Nature’s Farm. I do actually take these supplements. That said, please check with your doctor or the staff at Nature’s Farm before purchasing or consuming any of these supplements. I take no responsibility for your health – good or otherwise – and this post is purely for the purpose of sharing a good deal.)

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I do also know that Padeve is offering a buy-1-get-1-free promo on their herbal sanitary pads and liners. There’s free shipping for customers in Singapore, and like Nature’s Farm, no minimum spending required. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have not actually tried the pads from this brand, but I soon will (with this promo). If you need to stock up on sanitary pads, head to padeve.com.

Need Help With Your Website Or Blog? :)

blogging coach singapore

There’s nothing quite like a lovely testimonial to brighten up my day. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been very fortunate to have some really cool students from all walks of life, who allow me to coach them in setting up their blogs and/or websites. And Natalie’s one of them. She’d initially approached me saying she’s a “tech-phobic doctor” but I’ve known all along that just about anyone can learn to get comfortable with WordPress. In the past, I’ve struggled with learning how to blog and trying to set up a website (the horror!) and so I want to take the pain out of the learning for the people I meet. I wished I had a guide back then, but I didn’t, so the best thing for me right now is to condense the years of learning and picking stuff up on my own, and transferring that knowledge to my students in a matter of hours.

In this post, I’ve put together some tips for people who have signed up for classes or coaching regarding blogging or website creation (it doesn’t even have to be with me), so we can all maximize the time spent learning and get the most out of each session:

(1) STRUGGLE BUT DON’T PROCRASTINATE

And don’t simply struggle with the ‘idea’ of creating a blog or website. Actually do something. You might want to start with wordpress.com as it’s free! Natalie spent some years thinking about starting her own site but happily contributed articles to various publications. The number of backlinks she could have gotten is astounding. And if you’re going to invest in a domain name, web hosting, etc, you might also want to invest in hiring a coach to help you get up to speed quickly. There are few things more frustrating than spending money on a site and not knowing how to use it.

(2) MAKE SURE IT’S ALL HANDS-ON LEARNING

Doesn’t matter if you’re learning about Blogging or about Internet Marketing, it has to be hands-on, and you have to be given the opportunity to repeat each step multiple times until you get it. I detest demo-only cooking classes, which I find to be of no use to me. When I get home, I don’t know how to ‘fold the dough’ or judge if it’s of the right consistency. Similarly, if you attend a class, and head home with only a thick manual, of what good will that be? You HAVE TO get your site up and running during the class, not after.

(3) TAKE THE INITIATIVE, DO MORE THAN EXPECTED

Natalie truly impressed me with the prep work she did beforehand, in ensuring she had three drafts so we could post them immediately during the session, after a few tweaks. Because she had done the work, we were able to work on aspects like SEO, photo uploads and (basic) editing, among others.

(4) STAY IN TOUCH, CONTINUE THE LEARNING

Be persistent, not pesky. Stay in touch with your coach or trainer. Email is best so people can reply at their convenience. Phone messaging can get a little intrusive at times. But if you keep in touch, the learning never stops. I’m both a coach and a student. So each time I learn something new, I can pass on the knowledge.

If you need help with a new blog or website, feel free to contact me via the form below:

VLV Singapore: Luxurious Lunch Sets Without Hefty Price Tags

My pals brought me to Hide Yamamoto at MBS recently, where I realized (to my absolute amazement) that it’s possible to enjoy an eat-all-you-can sushi buffet for just $30++ in Marina Bay Sands! I returned the favor by taking them to VLV Restaurant at Clarke Quay where we savored an 8-course lunch at just $34.50++ per person! Good food at great prices, and with awesome company. What more can anyone ask for? ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, perhaps excellent service, which VLV Restaurant provides as well. If you’re entertaining guests at lunchtime in the Clarke Quay area, VLV is definitely where you should head to.

I love having my friend, Steven, around as he’s super friendly and can chat with anyone, whether you’re an intern or a CEO, and in so doing, he helps suss out all theย information I need without me having to talk to anyone. ๐Ÿ˜€ Some days, I’m ratherย kaypohย (a taxi driver once asked if I’m with the CID) and on other days, I just want to eat in peace, enjoying the banter among my pals. And in a restaurant like VLV, where I think taitais probably hang out, you’ll enjoy the tranquility, the fantastic decor, and the bubbly (definitely the bubbly). *wink*

VLV Restaurant can seat around 120 diners. And they can accommodate up to 50 guests in their private dining area…

VLV Restaurant Clarke Quay

vlv restaurant

As my forever-slim photographer pal from Hearted Moments was dining with us (and he’s also responsible for all the wonderful pictures in this blogpost), I had no objections to having more food apart from that 8-course ‘Signatures’ Lunch Set which I brought my pals for. Haven’t you heard that if you have trouble slimming down, you can simply make your friends fat? I live by that (highly questionable) mantra. ๐Ÿ˜€

Here’s what we ate:

For the amuse-bouche (the complimentary dish), we had hakka suan pan zi (็ฎ—็›˜ๅญ). It was very tasty – the dried shrimp made it so delicious. We were told that sometimes the chef serves up hainanese chicken rice balls as the amuse-bouche too.

VLV Singapore Amuse Bouche Suan Pan Zi

vlv singapore

The fried seafood fritter comes with the chef’s special blend of sambal and just the right level of saltiness:

VLV Singapore Dim Sum

With the Peking duck wrap comes the foie gras truffle sauce (apart from the usual hoisin sauce) and also avocado slices, among other ingredients…

vlv peking duck wrap

My favorites are right here:

VLV Singapore Working With Grace

I took these 2 pictures ๐Ÿ˜€ I hope they make you hungry ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜›

I love the Chili crab buns and the siew mai. Instead of having chili crab and mantou to go along with it, it’s all fused into one bun that you just can’t get enough of. The great thing about ordering dimsum at VLV is that you can decide on the number of items in each bamboo basket – it’s not a fixed number so more guests, more dim sum. I’d take 5 of those chili crab buns the next time I’m here, thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€

*You can order the ‘Creations’ Lunch Set which is priced at $48++ per person. It comes with “a trilogy of Chef’s signature Dim Sum dishes – with succulent Prawn Dumpling ‘Ha Gao’, Fish and Mushroom dumpling and VLV’s specialty Singapore Chilli Crab Bun“. That’s followed by the Chrysanthemum Tofu Soup, Baked Chilean Seabass with Black Olive & White Wine Butter Sauce, ‘Char Siew’ Spring Onion Noodles, and Almond Cream with Egg White & Black Sesame Dumplings.

And here, finally, is the 8-course lunch we came for:

Aburi Kagoshima Kurobuta Roll

(Above) The Aburi Kagoshima Kurobuta Roll is refreshing. I tasted mainly the gingery notes and cucumber, which I love. ๐Ÿ™‚

I liked the calamari as well. Very few restaurants get calamari just right. Here at VLV, it’s not tough and rubbery. You can bite through a piece without getting jaw fatigue #IfYouKnowWhatIMean.

vlv singapore calamari rings

The green soup, however, throws me off, somewhat. It’s a crab meat spinach soup. Like, why would anyone make a green soup?ย Unless it’s pea soup, maybe? But that’s not terribly popular here in Singapore.ย So… I have to say that it’s a little hard to love this soup, especially since it got me feeling thirsty halfway through.

vlv singapore crab meat spinach soup

coral trout head and belly

(Above) That was the Steamed Coral Trout Head & Belly with Black Garlic & Black Bean. We were told that the black beans are from a farm in Taichung, Taiwan. I was avoiding all the black pieces till I heard that they are not salty (and in fact, are almost sweet) that I ate one and was suitably impressed!

VLV Singapore Claypot Prawns

(Above) The Claypot Prawn with Ginger, Scallion and Dried Chili. The prawns were lovely… it’s just that the shells kept getting in the way. If they had been removed, top marks. ๐Ÿ™‚

VLV Singapore Roasted Crispy Duck

I’m not a big fan of duck dishes. Though I love London Fat Duck. VLV Restaurant served up a 45-day-old duck (from a farm in Malaysia). Chef wanted to limit the amount of fat in the duck which, while probably good for the health-conscious diner, did not quite appeal to me as I’m used to the fatty, meaty duck at London Fat Duck. Oops! ๐Ÿ˜€

VLV Singapore Kimchi Seafood Fried Rice

And it’s now all the rage: prick the poached egg, then snap as many pictures as you possibly can. LOL! I found the Kimchi Seafood Fried Rice delicious, though I have to say that it was served at the wrong time – just when I’m about to collapse from the amount I’ve eaten. The rice was flavorful – spicy, salty, charred – and would have gone so well with the duck. ๐Ÿ™‚

And a fitting finale…

vlv singapore roselle flower osmanthus jelly

After the whole range of flavors we’d been treated to, this jelly came as a welcome conclusion to the meal. It was not sweet at all. Stamp, checked. Chinese blessing, checked. Diabetic-friendly dessert, checked. It was truly impressive. I think all parents and grandparents will love this dessert!

*I might try the ‘Tasting’ Lunch Set next time. It’s priced at $98++ for 4 people. It comes with the Prawn Dumpling ‘Ha Gao’ and Pan-fried Carrot Cake, Nutritious Herbal Soup, Sweet & Sour Chilean Seabass, Crispy Roasted Chicken, Poached Hong Kong Choy Sum, Braised Noodles with Enoki Mushroom and Beansprouts, and the same Roselle Flower Osmanthus Jelly dessert.

ย ~

More pictures of the gorgeous venue:

vlv clarke quay

And not to forget the bubbly… Charles Heidsieck:

VLV Singapore Charles Heidsieck champagne

vlv club lounge

Once again, I have to thank my pal Jiahe from Hearted Moments Photography for taking stunning photographs every single time. My pal, Steven, asked if the iPhone might be able to replace DSLRs in future. And while it may be an odd question to ask a photographer, I’d say, no, a professional photographer will be able to shoot (and edit) stunning photographs that no iPhone user can match in quality and composition of the shot. *wink*

*As an aside: Go ahead and check out all 4 zones of VLV yourself. There’s the Restaurant, Courtyard, Club Lounge, and Riverside Dining, covering some 20,000 square feet!

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The 3 lunch sets mentioned in this post are available on weekdays (12 noon to 3pm)

Reservations: +65 6661 0197

3A River Valley Road #01-02 Singapore 179020 (*within walking distance from Clarke Quay MRT station)

Combat Zone: New Team-building Activity With Nerf Blasters

Combat Zone Singapore

As I don’t work in an office now, I don’t get the opportunity to participate in team-building or team-bonding (or call it whatever you will) activities. So it was a lot of fun joining my pals from a financial advisory firm in their post-branch-meeting game time at Combat Zone Singapore, located at the third floor of *SCAPE. There were 9 of us, but our facilitator gamely (pun fully intended) joined in so we had 5 players on each team.

It might seem odd that adults are engaging in play, with foam darts no less. But hasn’t it been said that “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”? And it’s true. ๐Ÿ™‚ Someone would ignore instructions and cross the ‘line’, someone would bravely step into the line of fire while everyone else hides behind boxes, someone would stock up on lots of ammunition before the game begins, and there will be a few who have to win at all costs.ย And you can tell everyone that head shots aren’t allowed, but you’ll still get foam darts grazing your cheek during battle. No harm done though, since getting hit by foam darts is painless. But you just might want to wear the goggles provided to protect your eyes, just in case.

And the best part is that if there’s a colleague you’ve always wanted to shoot (foam darts) at, well, now you can. ๐Ÿ˜€

The good thing about this business is that the set-up is relatively inexpensive. I’d think it’s pretty easy to set up shop just about anywhere in Singapore. You’ll just need the boxes (likely collapsible), nerf blasters and ammo, and netting or some other fence to keep the darts from flying out of the game area.

nerf war singapore

Combat Zone allows for up to 10 pax per game. We completed 2 ‘missions’. The first entailed shooting down the cans located on barrels behind the opposing team. *It was rather amusing to note how we were all hiding behind boxes and firing at the cans but since we weren’t aiming at the other players, there was no real need to hide in the first place ๐Ÿ˜€ The second mission involved shooting the foam darts at the players on the opposing team, and getting all of them out of the game for 20 seconds (once they got hit) so we could retrieve the vests on their side and win the game. Tough but we managed to accomplish it. My team won both times. ๐Ÿ˜€

The aftermath:

indoor team building singapore

Halfway through the game, I was already feeling hot and sweaty – it’s a good workout! It can get quite frustrating when the foam darts get ‘jammed’ within the blaster. I can deal with paper jams, but when my nerf blaster’s jammed during ‘battle’, URGH, it’s awful. I didn’t know how delicate these nerf guns are. And the foam darts need to be handled gently as well because the foam tears quite easily.

We got to play with only the Retaliator nerf blasters as the Mega guns came with only 3 foam darts each (which wouldn’t be of much use in our missions). And we didn’t see any available Rampage or Zeus blasters there.

*Right now, Combat Zone doesn’t allow customers to bring their own blasters. And kids have to be at least 12 years old in order to play here.

*To find out more about pricing and other matters, head to combatzone.sg.

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I’m surprised Combat Zone chose to set up shop in *SCAPE. I don’t know if there’s enough of a crowd there, especially during weekdays, for the business to be sustainable. I would think an on-demand sort of business model would bring in more money, like how some companies supply bouncy castles for birthday parties and other events. Combat Zone could provide the facilitators and equipment for off-site team-building activities. Also, I suspect these ‘missions’ would be popular in malls such as Tampines Mall, on a weekend.

But it’s great for small groups, such as with my pals from the financial advisory firm. After the gameplay with nerf blasters, the group can even head over to Manekineko for a good KTV session. So, hopefully, Combat Zone continuesย doing well and brings in even more awesome nerf blasters so the next time we play there, it’ll be even more fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

Nonya Delights @ Waterway Point’s Foodcourt

nonya laksa

I spotted a new ‘Nonya Delights’ stall at Waterway Point‘s foodcourt recently, and immediately orderedย their Nonya Laksa’. Then went back again the same week to try their Ayam Rendang, Ngoh Hiang, Otah, etc. ๐Ÿ˜€ Waterway Point’s foodcourt is notoriously difficult to find, but if you do manage to locate it, then make sure you pop by this stall. If Peranakan food isn’t your thing, then I’d recommend you try Lam’s Signatureย instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Nonya Laksa ($4.50) you see in the picture above was delicious. The chap chye (which I ordered as an add-on item for $1.50) was a little too salty for my liking. It would have gone perfectly with some rice though.

Waterway Point foodcourt Nonya Delights

The Ayam Rendang was slightly disappointing. The chicken drumstick was rather ‘skinny’. (The pictures are a little misleading, because of the ‘zoom in’ function, and the angle at which the pictures were taken) I love the accompanying chili and ikan bilis though.

Ayam Rendang Rice

The Ayam Keluak Rice didn’t come with half an egg, unlike the Ayam Rendang set. Taste-wise, nothing to shout about as well. I’ll definitely stick with ordering the laksa next time. ๐Ÿ™‚

ayam keluak rice

We’d also ordered the ‘add-ons’ of ngoh hiang and otah. They came with a special chili paste that’s different from the ones with the rice sets. Only grouse: the wait for the defrosting and frying of these items was pretty long.

Ngoh Hiang and Otah-otah

I don’t know why the staff don’t ask if we want any of these add-ons. You’ll have to spot the poster yourself as there is no up-selling here. Perhaps business is too good. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Waterway Point foodcourt nonya

For all the kueh-kueh lovers…

Waterway Point kueh

ย To get to Waterway Point’s foodcourt, go to the West Wing of the mall and take the escalators all the way up to the 2nd floor. It’s really near Times bookstore, so once you spot the Koufu foodcourt, just head right in – the entrance to the foodcourt is quite small but the seating area within is huge.

Waku Waku Box: Get Hello Kitty Items Direct From Japan!

Waku Waku Box

The Japanese phrase “Waku Waku” can be loosely translated to mean ‘excited’, ‘thrilled’ or anticipation of something fun that’s about to happen. And I guess that’s exactly the case with Waku Waku Box. I first came across the Waku Waku Box account on Instagram and I thought it was absolutely brilliant! There’s a new Waku Waku Box every month, and each has 15 specially curated Hello Kitty items from Japan. Each box costs $38 and is shipped worldwide via Japan Post Airmail. I think that’s a really small price to pay for a box of Hello Kitty goodies!

For this month (February 2017), there are 15 items including a tote bag, cookie mold, make up bag, bamboo chopsticks, bread mold, cup, etc.

Delivered to you for just $38!

hello kitty products online shop

There are a couple of reasons why I think this (small) business is brilliant:

#1: Anyone Could Have Done It, But This Individual Did

If you’re living in Japan (i.e. land of Hello Kitty), you get access to tons of Kitty items that Kitty lovers all around the world are craving for. What’s more – you get them cheaply. There are Kitty items in Daiso and the 100-yen shops, so picking 15 good items and packaging them for sale to Kitty collectors the world over is such a brilliant idea. You simply put together one sample box, post a picture and list of items online, take orders, then fulfill them. No need for inventory, no need to liaise with sponsors or suppliers, and best of all, you can reach out to customers ALL OVER THE WORLD.

This makes me wonder what people elsewhere could want from Singapore. Tiger Balm? Bengawan Solo’s pandan cakes? Nah. I really don’t know. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ #TakeMeToJapan

#2: Not A Subscription Service

I’m wary of businesses which want me to ‘purchase’ 6 months or 12 months’ worth of ‘boxes’ right away. The boxes for the first two months may be great, but what if the rest are lousy? I’ve already handed over my credit card details and it’s too late. And I end up with so many boxes of ‘stuff’.

I’d long suspected that those beauty subscription boxes won’t do too well. And many seem to have died a natural death. Same for those fruit-and-nut supplies boxes.

With Waku Waku Box, you place an order for a box that you want, and you’ll only get that month’s box of 15 items. Perfect! It also keeps the business owner on the lookout for great items every month. ‘Cos if this month’s box has less-desirable items, then sales will suffer as a result. As a consumer, I love when business owners are kept on their toes and do not become complacent after having gotten my money upfront. ๐Ÿ˜€ Same reason why I don’t sign up for facial, hair or any other packages.

#3: The Price Is Right

I like that the box costs just $38 for 15 items. If we take it that you pay $2 for each item (total of $30) and just $8 for shipping (airmail with a decent box so items inside don’t get damaged), you’ll be left wondering what the business owner makes. So I think one has to be really savvy in order to sniff out the best Kitty items that can be acquired at a low price, so as to earn a tidy sum from the sale of each box. ๐Ÿ™‚

Marketing is also simple, especially on Instagram where there are so many Kitty lovers. The latter might also get in touch if they need a certain Hello Kitty item from Japan. Instead of waiting for someone on Airfrov to get it for them, they might want to get in touch with Waku Waku Box too.

Tempted?

Hello Kitty Online Store

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When getting a Waku Waku Box, quote my name ‘GRACE‘ and you *might* get a special surprise with your box *WINK WINK* ๐Ÿ™‚ Head over to www.inselly.com/wakuwakubox now!

*Pictures courtesy of Waku Waku Box*

Rochor Beancurd House: Where Celebrities Go For Tau Huay

Rochor Beancurd House boss

Many hawkers lament the fact that their offspring are unwilling to ‘inherit’ the family business, preferring to focus on their own choice of career. At Rochor Beancurd House, though, it’s heartening to note how Jason quit his high-paying job as a systems engineer to run the family business – a tau huay chain with many regular customers who are celebrities.

Rochor Beancurd House (not to be confused with another beancurd business of a similar name, that’s run by a relative) has three outlets. You’ll find them at Geylang, Balestier, and Upper Thomson Road.

Judging by their photo wall with pictures of celebrities who’ve dined there – just about every Mediacorp celebrity I’ve seen on TV – there must be something they are doing right.ย I spoke with Jason Koh, the 3rd generation owner of the business, to find out the secret for Rochor Beancurd House’s success. Also, I asked if there’s indeed business ‘rivalry’ within the extended family, why traditional beancurd remains an evergreen item when chilled beancurd was a ‘flash in the pan’, and why (as the middle child, with two sisters) he decided to take over the reins of the business when he could have easily said ‘no’.

Rochor Beancurd House

Isn’t it interesting how a humble bowl of (now S$1.50) tau huay done well can give rise to 3 shops? ๐Ÿ™‚

#1: What would you say is the secret for Rochor Beancurd House’s success?

I think the secret (if any) is in our belief regarding ‘Right People, Right Food’.

Apart from our emphasis on quality control and knowing where our ingredients come from, I am selective about the people I hire. To be able to hire the right people, I have to first be upfront and honest with them about how this is a tough job with long hours – our shop is open till 1am at Upper Thomson Road, and runs for 24 hours at Geylang, for instance. Also, my staff must know that once they join us, they are considered family. That’s why I’m in the shop most of the time, on “standby” in case anyone falls sick, so I can take over their duties promptly.

To provide the right food, it all starts with the selection of soy beans. We use fresh non-GMO beans from Canada. The beancurd is prepared in a golden ration with other ingredients (let’s keep that a secret, shall we), and the right temperature is crucial too (100 degrees Celsius and above to get rid of the ‘raw’ taste of the beans). We do still use the traditional grinding stone. However, we now use a Japanese boiler instead of the previous wood stove which required much stirring to prevent charring. Quality control is important to us, and it starts at our centralized kitchen at Geylang Road near to Geylang Serai.

Previously we served only beancurd, soya milk and grass jelly. After I joined the business, I introduced youtiao (dough fritters) to our menu; we make the dough fritters ourselves and we fry them on demand. Now, we delight our customers with new menu items such as the Golden Squid (using squid from Argentina) and tofu fries which are healthier than french fries as tofu contains protein. These actually complement our signature products. After you’ve eaten fried foods (which are believed to be “heaty”), cool down with our tau huay and grass jelly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Rochor Beancurd House Tofu Fries

For a healthier alternative, swap your french fries for tofu fries ๐Ÿ™‚

Rochor Beancurd House chicken chop

“For our chicken chop, we use the drumstick portion so it’s juicy and tender. We don’t use breast meat which is drier. We bought the recipe and do the marination ourselves.” – Jason

With our philosophy of ‘Right People, Right Food’, we seek to provide good service and even better food. I believe this is why customers keep returning, and bringing their friends here too.

#2: You treat your staff like family. What about your extended family; the relatives who are in the same line with similar-sounding shop names? Is there business rivalry?

Here’s a condensed version of how the business started: My father (Mr Xu Kun Ming) came to Singapore with my grandparents from Pulau Tekong, and they started the beancurd business at Rochor Road. There’s about a 15-year age difference between my father and his siblings. While my dad’s siblings got to study, my dad did not and simply sold tau huay. Once you become the chef, really, you’re stuck in the kitchen.

Later on, my second uncle brought my grandma to register the company in his’ and my grandma’s name. My dad thus became the ’employee’. However, my dad knew that if he left, the company won’t surviveย as he’s the only chef. So he stayed on for 30 years.

I think my father deserves to be a boss, hence we started our first outlet at Geylang Lorong 39. There was a tussle over the Rochor Beancurd name but my grandma supported us. We later registered the trademarks for our company, not toย find trouble with our relatives but to protect ourselves from any potential legal suits.

Was it tough in the beginning? Yes. For instance, to attract customers, we served up larger portions of tau huay. That did not go down well with our relatives. That said, it’s not in my interest to have their business go downhill. If anything happens to them (e.g. a customer has a less-than-pleasant dining experience there and tells a friend), it will affect me too as it spoils the Rochor Beancurd name after all.

No matter what, I believe we are still family.We should always look forward, not backward. We do not meet up regularly but we will sit down and have a chit-chat when we bump into one another. If you ask me, I think many people take ‘family’ for granted. They feel they do not need family around them but the truth is, our family is one reason why life is meaningful. We do our best to keep the family together as we really cherish family ties.

#3: You’ve turned a lot of empty wall space into a photo wall with pictures of celebrities who’ve dined at Rochor Beancurd House. Have they told you why they like dining here?

Rochor Beancurd 24 hours

Everyone from director Jack Neo to the pretty-and-talented Sharon Au have dined at Rochor Beancurd House. (Just one portion of the ‘photo wall’)

All these celebrities are friendly and they don’t put on airs. They really like our beancurd and have told us that our beancurd reminds them of ๅฐๆ—ถๅŽ็š„ๅ‘ณ้“ (the taste they remember from their childhood). My father was the original chef for ‘Rochor beancurd’ after all. Many celebrities also make bulk purchases of our beancurd for their filming team because they believe good, healthy food should be shared.

When we started our business in Geylang, people didn’t know us at all, then we happened to be featured on Coffee Talk and Hawker Woks, Channel 5 and people found outย about us and came to try our food. Then we were discovered by Channel U, Channel 8, Suria, etc. The quality of the food is the main reason, and how it’s our heritage. All these pictures help enforce our branding. When you bring a friend to dine here, he/she might notice these photos and think, wow, this is the same beancurd that celebrities enjoy.

I think our philosophy of ‘Right People, Right Food’ makes an impact on all our diners, and this quote by Maya Angelou effectively sums it up:

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โ€œI’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.โ€

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#4: You’ve mentioned that you use non-GMO soya beans to make the beancurd. How can consumers really know whether GMO or non-GMO soya beans are used? Is there, for instance, some form of certification such as when products are certified ‘organic’?

The traditional method we use to prepare our beancurd does not allow genetically modified material to be present. The beancurd will not be formed due to the GMO, and that is why we can only use non-GMO beans, apart from health concerns.

There is no certification but we do our due diligence by avoiding GMO crops as stated in this list on AVA’s website: http://www.ava.gov.sg/docs/default-source/tools-and-resources/resources-for-businesses/listofapprovedgmcropswebsitever2.pdf?sfvrsn=2

We want to serve up only the freshest and healthiest beancurd, so we will never consider GMO.

#5: You offer reuseable bowls for dine-in customers when they order tau huay instead of using 100% plastic disposables in your shop. Is this because of cost or to be a bit more environmentally friendly?

We believe in environmental friendliness. And our customers tell us that they prefer ‘traditional bowls’ when dining in. Using plastic is convenient but we need to consider our impact on the environment.

Rochor Beancurd House Menu

It’s possible to have quite a spread at Rochor Beancurd House. Even if your friends don’t like tau huay, they can get a taro bowl or any of those fried goodies that are sure to be a hit.

#6: I was at a popular soya bean drink outlet recently and overheard a customer wanting to order soya milk with 5% sugar level. Staff told him he can choose either 0% or 25%, but there’s no 5% option. If that same customer came to your shop, what sort of response would he get from your staff or yourself?

We will usually put the requested estimated amount of syrup into the cup or container, and show it to the customer for his/her approval before we proceed with fulfilling the order.

Simply let our staff know, and you can have less salt, less sugar, less chili, etc with your order of beancurd or anything else on our menu.

#7: Rochor Beancurd House has its own in-house delivery service, instead of relying on food delivery companies like FoodPanda and Deliveroo. Is it due to how ‘fragile’ the beancurd is?

Yes. We’ll only deliver for large orders. These usually come from corporations, universities and churches. We accept only bulk orders of $100 and above. You can come and collect the beancurd yourself and ask for a discount. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our profit margins aren’t high because our labor costs and rent are very high. Plus, there is really no way you can cut corners with the ingredients when you want to serve up only the best-tasting tau huay. We don’t want to hurt the business by letting others handle the deliveries so we deliver all orders ourselves.

Because of the trend that started some time back, we did our own R&D and made the chilled soy pudding ourselves. Our local universities (NUS and NTU) order the puddings in bulk! ๐Ÿ™‚

#8: Three out of four millennials want to run their own business. What is your advice to them?

It is important to have the mindset of taking care of our parents / family. Our parents took care of us when we were young. When they grow old, it is our turn to care for them. We should take care of our parents, knowing that our offspring are watching us lead by example.

We have many young people working for us at Rochor Beancurd House. We are willing to impart our skills to them. We try to understand what they really want, and we work on assisting them to achieve their dreams. Some do want to run their own businesses someday. We teach them how we run the business and things like how to work with elderly people. For instance, we allow our staff to sit down, unlike in shopping centres where they usually have to stand. We also stagger their work timings so they can have a work-life balance.

Rochor Beancurd House Golden Squid

The Golden Squid made using squid from Argentina. A must-try! ๐Ÿ™‚ Jason told me that pretentious names like ‘Flying Dragon’ are a no-no as customers won’t be able to tell what it’s about simply by hearing the name. Picking a good name for items on the menu is just as important as getting the right recipe (he declined to share how much he paid for the recipe from a hawker in Taiwan) ๐Ÿ˜€

There’s an occupational hazard in this line too. As ours is a food business, we don’t go hungry. Whenever you feel hungry, food is definitely within reach. You’ll have to fight the temptation every day! ๐Ÿ˜€ To make matters worse, due to the manpower crunch, I’ve not been able to go to the gym in 6 months!

My two sisters work in the corporate world. It is not recommended for women to run hawker stalls because of the long hours.

I feel life should be meaningful. Understand what you really want and have an end in mind. When I started, I felt that I wanted to restore my dad’s “status”. I feel he should be recognized as a boss, instead of as an employee. I started working here at age 24 because I wanted to let my parents retire. Now they take care of the grandchildren. Because I’m in the business, it gives them peace of mind.

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 Best Beancurd in Singapore

Jason (in the blue shirt) attending to the customers who are filling his shop on a weekday afternoon.

Rochor Beancurd Delivery

My pal, Steven, and I got to meet Jason on our second visit to Rochor Beancurd House. Thumbs up for their beancurd! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve visited Rochor Beancurd House twice and it’s clear to me that Jason is a very hands-on boss. If he wasn’t in the shop so often, he wouldn’t be ‘featured’ in every picture with those celebrities. What I find most commendable is his insistence that there will be no badmouthing of any business competitor, whether they are family or not. He’s on good terms with the other F&B business owners in the vicinity of his shop and can easily rattle off names and shops I should visit.

While chilled beancurd was sort of a fad (remember the long queues at Old Airport Road hawker centre?), once the trend is over, you realize that only traditional beancurd is here to stay as it’s that taste from our childhood that we remember and relish, just as those celebrities do. And if you pop by Rochor Beancurd House and have the pleasure of speaking to the friendly boss, Jason, he’ll be happy to tell you how he maintains 6-pack abs even while missing gym sessions (hint: it’s got to do with the beancurd :D) and introduce the various menu items that he thinks you should try. After all, he does make frequent trips to countries like Taiwan, to find the best and tastiest food items, and bring those recipes back to delight fans of Rochor Beancurd House. I guess herein lies the secret: serving up traditional tau huay of consistent, good quality, and introducing new menu items that continually tantalize the tastebuds of fickle consumers and have them keep coming back for more.

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Go ahead and visit Rochor Beancurd House at these locations:

745 Geylang Road Lor 39 S389653 (24 HRS)

432 Balestier Road #01-436 S329813
(1pm – 1.30am)

232 UPPER THOMSON ROAD S574363
(1pm – 2am)

Subway’s New Pineapple Cookie: Here’s ‘Huat’ I Think

Subway Pineapple Cookie

I was about to say “Double Chocolate Chip Cookie, please!” at Subway when I spotted a teeny weeny sticker regarding the NEW Pineapple cookie. It’s the first time I’ve seen a pineapple cookie in Singapore. Pineapple tarts, yes. Golf ball pineapple tarts, yes. Pineapple ‘cake’ from Taiwan, yes. But pineapple cookie? And is it a good cookie?

Well, it has the qualities of a good cookie, or at least a cookie that I appreciate: It’s soft, chewy and moist. You know some cookies have gone stale when they’re hard and dry. So this one I most definitely like.

It doesn’t taste like pineapple tarts. And that’s great too as I’ve eaten SO MANY pineapple tarts this Chinese New Year. It does taste a little bit like the pineapple ‘cakes’ (or rather, pastry) from Taiwan. Similar, but not exactly alike. So I think it’s great for when I have a pineapple tart or cake craving but I don’t want to go out and purchase an entire box of them. A Subway cookie would do. ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t know if it’s a permanent addition to their cookie offerings, but I sure hope it stays. Go try it if you haven’t already done so. And tell me ‘huat’ you think about it k!

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Subway currently has some $5.90 combos which come with a sub, cookie and drink. My personal fav isย the BBQ Chicken Strips sub. ๐Ÿ˜€