About Grace Tan

Grace owns the award-winning business and lifestyle blog, WorkingWithGrace.wordpress.com. She is also the author of the best-selling book 'Blogging For A Living'.

Book Review: ‘Unqualified’ by Anna Faris (Foreword by Chris Pratt)

anna faris unqualified book review

What a great memoir this is! πŸ™‚ Almost ‘unputdownable’, and I say ‘almost’ because I think those pages with input from Anna’s Facebook fans and podcast listeners seem to be fillers. And I might be wrong, but it appears this book was launched around the time Anna and Chris split? So, why oh why, does it not spill the beans on the reason(s) for the split, instead of just gushing about what a unicorn Chris is and how much they love and will sacrifice for their son? Hmm. Before picking up this book, I actually had no idea who Anna Faris is (and yup, I’ll probably pronounce her name wrongly too, just like you would – it’s supposed to be something like Ah-nah, not Ann-na). But after reading this book, I now know (just about) everything from when she lost her virginity to the time she got breast implants. Let’s just say this book is a tell-all, except about the part regarding the divorce. I’m guessing it’s somewhere in pre-nuptial agreements to keep certain things private? πŸ˜‰ So, props to them for somehow still being able to remain friends after a divorce.

It all seems so weird to me, how these angmohs can get divorced and have new partners and everyone can get to meet / know each other. It’s like they kind of accept that no one gets marriage right the first time, so it’s ok to call it quits (“till death do us part” hahahaa) and then stay pals with exes and even befriend their ex-spouse’s new love interests. (>_<)

Anna has this popular podcast called ‘Anna Faris is Unqualified’ and I really do love this word – ‘Unqualified’. She can say whatever she wants, and you can’t fault her, ‘cos she has already stated that she is unqualified and who asked you to believe what she says? πŸ˜€ In this book, she shares lots of relationship advice too, and ultimately I feel a little sympathetic towards these high-profile celebrity romances. If you’re a celeb, it makes sense to date / marry another celeb; someone who will understand the demands of your job and also not kick up a fuss if you have kissing scenes, etc, with another hot celeb. BUT the pressures of keeping up a facade of being in a marriage that is #relationshipgoals (thanks, social media) and having to deal with the press who’d happily plaster a picture of your sole, sad self along the beach alongside one of your husband laughing with his hot co-star… that can certainly take its toll. And when there’s a comparison of who’s more famous than whom? Sigh.

On page 194, Anna shares about the time she uttered “Don’t you know who I am?” in 2002 when the manager of a bowling alley bar wanted to kick her out of the place for getting (slightly) drunk. Reminds me of the time that our own local celebrity, Rui En, did the same. I suppose fame gets to your head, ya? Even a self-deprecating, funny, and lovable character like Anna also falls prey to it.

Read this book if you’d like to know Anna Faris a little better. She does share some interesting nuggets about Chris Pratt (which make him seem REALLY desirable) but don’t expect it to tell you (not even a hint!) about the reasons why they got a divorce.

Review: Dining In The Garden @ Ang Mo Kio Library

Dining in the garden ang mo kio libraryLocated within the Ang Mo Kio Library is this quaint little cafe called Dining In The Garden. I think it’s a really good place for brunch. And the fact that you can borrow books from the library and head in here for meal is a HUGE plus! Especially since we visited yesterday, when it was raining heavily outside. I believe this place is pretty deserted on weekday mornings, except during the school holidays! πŸ˜›

*Interestingly enough, the lady at the cashier yesterday appeared to be Korean. So don’t speak in Mandarin to her. πŸ˜€

As the two of us were feeling rather peckish, we ordered a third main course to share. Which turned out to be a wise decision. The All-day Breakfast ($10.90 nett) was supposed to be the ‘sharing platter’ and it was the best thing we ordered that day.

dining in the garden all day breakfast

I love that there are fries and sauteed mushrooms! The scrambled egg was creamy but lacked some seasoning. I love, too, how their baked beans came in a plastic cup instead of being dumped onto the plate itself and making the toast damp. The mayonnaise should not be on the salad greens though… ‘cos it makes me not want to eat the tomato and cucumber slices like I usually would.

dining in the garden mushroom tomato baked rice

He ordered the mushroom tomato baked rice ($8.90 nett). It was served rather charred on top but the portion was just right – there’s not too much rice. πŸ˜€ I seriously thought the mushroom nestled among the rice and cheese looked like oysters in an oyster omelette! Got me a little excited. But mushrooms are yummy too, I guess. πŸ˜‰

dining in the garden seafood marinara

The seafood marinara ($9.90 nett) tastes like something I can cook myself at home. The only difference is that they added TWO scallops, which usually isn’t found in this dish. I still think it could do with some chili padi for extra kick. Now I think chili padi should be added to most pasta dishes. I blame Pizza Hut for that – they have a Spicy Seafood Parchment dish that is AMAZING!

Here’s the menu and pricing for Dining in the Garden:

dining in the garden menu

dining in the garden prices

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If you book via Eatigo (<- clickable link), the meal costs just 7 bucks per pax. Yup, there’s no GST and service charge. So it’s as affordable as if you’re dining in JB, without having to endure any traffic jams along the Causeway!

I’ll be back, for sure. πŸ˜€

Recommended: Ah Lim Mee Pok @ Simpang Bedok

ah lim mee pok

I don’t usually pop by Simpang Bedok for meals so I didn’t know what to try when we went there for dinner over the weekend. I spotted a signboard for Ah Lim Mee Pok and decided that the caricature looked cute enough, and the mee pok must be quite good to warrant such a signboard and business name. True enough, it was a more-than-decent meal. For $5, you’d get a small bowl of noodles (if you are a big eater, get the *cough cough* $16 bowl with extra noodles and ingredients). For 5 bucks, there’ll be one prawn, one fishball, one meatball and some fishcake slices. A $5 bowl of mee pok here won’t get you feeling very full, which is great because it means you can have dessert (waffles?!) after. πŸ˜€

The Pork Spare Ribs Rice ($6) was surprisingly good. Very meaty, very tasty, with a generous helping of sesame seeds on top. As for that egg, you’ve already noticed the gooey center, haven’t you? πŸ˜‰ Ask for some green chili and be mindblown. $6? Cheap!

ah lim mee pok review

They don’t serve coffee and tea after 5pm, I think. So we simply drank from our water bottles. Remember, I blogged about Lotus Thai earlier and how they told us we couldn’t drink water we’d brought? No such issue here.

Here’s the menu and pricing for Ah Lim Mee Pok:

ah lim mee pok menu

ah lim mee pok price

Such a cute signboard, no? The decor inside is really pretty too! But who cares about the decor when the food’s so good. No GST and service charge as well! Really worth a visit! πŸ˜€ I’d totally come back here again for meals.

ah lim mee pok simpang bedok

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Ah Lim Mee Pok a.k.a. Thunder Fishball Mee πŸ˜€

Lotus Thai Restaurant @ Paya Lebar Square: Highly Recommended Tom Yam Soup!

lotus thai restaurant stuffed chicken wings

He’d made a reservation for lunch yesterday at Paya Lebar Square’s Lotus Thai Restaurant and right outside the restaurant, I said “Oh no, there’s nobody” and was about to suggest we eat elsewhere because I tend to think that a deserted restaurant at mealtimes would suggest that either the food is not good or it’s just way too pricey. Am I making sense to you? πŸ˜€ Since he had a craving for Thai food, I decided to go along even though I’m not sure if I’ll like this particular restaurant. Service was pleasant enough, but the wait for the food was a little long.

I’d expected the appetizers, the Stuffed Chicken Wings ($9.80++ for 3 pieces) would be served up first but they were the last item sent to our table. πŸ˜€ It’s crispy, yes, but too dry on the inside. They didn’t manage to seal in the juices before cooking the chicken. I appreciate the slicing of the chicken wings in half so it’s easier to eat. But it could also be that the chef wanted to check if it’s cooked through within. Haha! πŸ˜€ I wouldn’t order this dish again.

What I absolutely love here is the Tom Yam Seafood Soup (RED). It’s $10.80++ and tastes heavenly. A good mix of sweet, tangy and spicy. I just need this and rice and I’m happy. There are mushrooms, prawns, fish slices, sotong, etc, inside.

lotus thai restaurant paya lebar square

The dish that was served up first was the Seafood Phad Thai ($8.80++). I’d wisely avoided the chili flakes ‘cos I prefer eating the noodles in sweet sauce only. Plus, there’d be tom yam soup coming up so there’s no point setting my tongue ‘on fire’ first. He thought it’d be harmless chili flakes like those on pizza so he ate way too much and regretted later. πŸ˜€ The phad thai is decent. Nothing to shout about but decent.

lotus thai restaurant review

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I think we would have walked away very satisfied with this place if not for the female cashier’s final parting shot. She said we weren’t supposed to drink from our own water bottles, even though they contained water and nothing else. We HAD TO BUY drinks from them.

I mean, it’s lousy enough if you don’t serve up complimentary water (and tissues!) but to chide your customers for bringing their own water bottles? What rubbish is this?

I think she must either be having a very depressing weekend or the business is really poor for her to resort to telling us off at the cashier’s (why not ask us to get drinks earlier?) instead of asking if we enjoyed the food and if there’s any room for improvement.

Would I be back again? I think not. Would I recommend you visit? Yes! Just tabao the seafood (red) tom yum soup and enjoy your meal at home! πŸ˜€

Book Review: ‘Operation Playboy’ by Kathryn Bonella

operation playboy book by kathryn bonella

This book, ‘Operation Playboy’, is about the true story of “playboy surfers turned international drug lords’. It’s a hundred times better than ‘Billion Dollar Whale‘, in my humble opinion. πŸ˜‰ It’s a real page-turner and it’s obvious the writer did countless interviews with the people involved (caught or still at-large) and the cops who caught them. The result is a book which opened my eyes to a portion of the international drug trade starting from Brazil and leading to other parts of the world, such as Amsterdam and Bali. It reveals the lives these drug lords lead, dripping in cash, and their eventual downfall which could involve 12-man firing squads. Also, there is a shocking and damning account of the justice system in Brazil, where cops, prosecutors and judges can be bribed all too easily.

“…if a judge gets convicted for crimes, even if he worked only 3,4,5 years, he’s going to be dismissed of his judiciary power, they are going to say you are not a judge anymore but you are going to receive your paycheck every month… it’s almost an invitation to sell some sentences, to get money off some guys being accused. Give it a try, man. What’s the worst [that] can happen? You don’t have to work for the next 30 years and you’re going to receive pay as if you’re working.” – Chief CaieronΒ 

Sometimes I wonder how drugs land in Singapore, what with our strict laws and all the customs checks. Then there’s this book about how these surfer drug lords have ‘horses’ (read: drug mules) working for them, and they have drugs hidden in the lining of bags, parachutes even, and also within specially made surfboards just for this purpose. There’s carbon paper packaging to counter all those x-ray checks and anti-dog scents to get dogs off their (drug) trail. It all sounds so easy, unless dumb things happen, such as sending a horse who looks like the exact opposite of a surfer, or when the guy making these surfboards isn’t paid promptly and he decides to cut corners this time.

This book succeeds, beyond any doubt, in drawing readers into the world of the playboys, with its free flow of drugs, cash, booze, women, luxury hotels and first-class travel. You might begin to wonder why you’re working so hard and making so little, when these guys are getting others to be their horses and they’re just flying in after them and getting loads of cash without much risk. Then, towards the end of the book, you’ll find executions, jail time and sometimes ridiculous outcomes such as when a “well-known horse and boss” becomes a police officer in Brazil. (>_<) Someone should make a movie out of this book!

Waterway Point’s Fans Weekend Carnival 2018

waterway point fans weekend carnival

Waterway Point has a Fans Weekend Carnival happening right now, and I went to check it out earlier this afternoon. πŸ™‚ Folks who had spent a minimum of $60 got to redeem two Carnival tickets which includes free drinks coupons and carousel / train ride coupons. Balloons, candy floss and popcorn were given out free to everyone. I think Waterway Point is a really family friendly mall. It’s one of those rare times I feel like I should have a kid too so I can hop onto the choo choo train or carousel with a kiddo. πŸ˜€

We went ahead and redeemed the free drinks (bandung and teh) and I gave the rides coupons to a Malay guy who was hanging around the area with his little one (the boy’s “one year and ten days” old). πŸ˜€

waterway point carnival 2018

There was a long, long line of people queuing up for the free ‘walking’ animal balloons.

waterway point fans weekend carnival 2018

As I don’t eat popcorn, I went straight for the candy floss. πŸ˜€ Yum!

waterway point family friendly mall

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I think I may be a little biased – I think Waterway Point’s the best mall for people with kids. Also another reason why I tend to avoid WWP on weekends ‘cos there are so many families out and about, and you should count yourself lucky if you manage to avoid any collisions with prams .

And oh, I forgot to add that spending $60 at the mall got me not just the Carnival tickets but also a $20 Home-Fix voucher. It’s a cash voucher with no minimum spending required. So basically you spend $60 and get one-third of your expenditure back to spend over at Home-Fix. Such an awesome promotion, don’t you think? πŸ˜€

I can’t wait for Christmas already. πŸ˜‰

Book Review: ‘9th Of August’ by Andre Yeo

9th of August book by Andre Yeo

This is a book that was just waiting to be written, really. I’m surprised it wasn’t written / published earlier. It’s a no-brainer: Singapore’s a shiny target for the terrorists, and what better time to cause maximum damage than on National Day? So this book by Andre Yeo is about how six suicide bombers have slipped into Singapore, planning to blow themselves up on SG’s 55th birthday in the year 2020.

I like how the author has woven in other stories, about Tun, about Inspector Rahim, and even about Henry. Gosh. Henry’s wife’s last words to him are so shocking when they are finally revealed towards the end of the book. You got me there, Andre! Good one!

I found this book an exceedingly enjoyable read, no doubt due to the author’s astute observations about Singaporeans. It’s totally true how a suspicious-looking character on a train would get zero attention whatsoever. And since a good portion of our train network is underground, if timed perfectly, a suicide bomber on a train could cause a lot of damage when the detonation happens right under a densely-populated area such as Raffles Place during office hours.

One of the suicide bombers even heads to Waterway Point! I certainly sat up a little straighter when reading that bit. Why a terrorist would want to head to a mall in ulu little Punggol, I don’t know. But seriously, guys, don’t come here ok? πŸ˜› I think the author might even have done a little shopping in Waterway Point before since he states on page 195 that the suicide bomber codenamed “Number Two” headed to “level one of the East Wing of Waterway Point” where he saw “several [people] struggling with plastic bags filled with produce from the supermarket”. *Fact-checking!* The author knows there’s an East Wing, but the truth is… the supermarket is actually located in the West Wing, at Basement 2. If you go to Level 1 of the East Wing, you might actually be looking at the Customer Service counter after you head past the cafe. Having said that, please don’t come to the West Wing either! There’s toys ‘r’ us, Daiso, PizzaHut, Times bookstore, McDonald’s! Most of my favorite stores are in the West Wing. Seriously. Why not an Orchard Road Mall though? Oh wait… ‘cos people don’t visit Orchard. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

What I’m not too fond of is how the author paints such a rosy picture of Singaporeans coming together after the terrorist attacks, united as one, looking out for each other, etc. The book almost became a tearjerker. But wait… we aren’t the Japanese, you know? I think the book doesn’t do enough justice to our kiasu, kiasi spirit.

I would think that people would lock themselves in their homes, like they usually do already. And they would stock up on essentials (you may think it’s rice and biscuits and water, right? But it’ll also include things like powerbanks, duh!) Possibly people might even pretend they aren’t home when neighbors come asking for some infant formula or water or food. We even pretend we are asleep on the trains when pregnant ladies and elderly folk come on board! So don’t put it past us.

And if the authorities let slip that they’ve received intel regarding a possible attack on National Day, wahahaha, people will definitely be trying to flee the country before 9th August. If they are crazy rich, they’ll jet off. Or cruise. Most of us will be trying to get onto a flight out of the country (especially folks like me who have no bosses to report to). And just about everyone will try to get to JB. We’ll walk over if there’s no other mode of transport available.

And I really don’t think the suicide bombers should target the PM. ‘Cos I want to see how he handles such a crisis. πŸ˜›

What an exciting topic for a book. And yet how difficult it must be to write this book. There must still be a “National Education” sort of message about how we stand together united as one. The author is the Deputy News Editor at TNP so yah, I don’t blame him for including an NE message. But if you were to ask me what I really think, it’ll be that we’re more likely to die in a stampede while trying to get over the Causeway to JB before the terrorists even set foot in Singapore.

If the nation is made aware of the fact that an attack is imminent (based on highly reliable intel), I think all hell will break loose. So, will they tell us? That’s something to think about.

Ice Edge Cafe & Bar: Outlet At Downtown East Sorely Disappoints!

ice edge cafe and bar

After that fantastic meal at Ice Edge Cafe in Kovan not too long ago, I was SO excited we were going to dine at Ice Edge Cafe & Bar in Downtown East today! Alas! It was a major disappointment. Service was slightly better overall, and the decor really made the place look and feel very homely. But the food needs to be better, seriously. And I’m glad I have all the pictures to show you the difference between Ice Edge Cafe & Bar in Downtown East and Ice Edge Cafe in Kovan…

First up,

Tom Yam Seafood Linguine… this ‘soupy’ version is from Downtown East:

ice edge cafe and bar review

Compare that with this absolutely gorgeous presentation at the outlet in Kovan:

ice edge cafe pasta

Same dish! Entirely different presentation and taste! The one in Pasir Ris is a disaster. No other way to describe it. A soupy mess that not only doesn’t look palatable, but simply tastes oily, and little else. The version from Kovan looks delightful and tastes amazing. Ridiculous how different they can be, ya?

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Now for the Prawn Mentaiko Pizza. This one is what we had today at Downtown East:

what to eat at downtown east

Don’t see anything weird about it? How about if I tell you to take a closer look at the prawn toppings, and see how little there is?

Here’s the version at Kovan…

ice edge cafe pizza

I’ll probably need to illustrate so you get a clearer picture. Compare these two slices of pizza from the Downtown East outlet. One slice has FIVE pieces of prawn. The other has ONE miserable piece. Imagine if you’re sharing this pizza with friends, and you suay suay kena that one slice with one tiny piece of prawn. I’d probably want to speak with the manager…

ice edge cafe and bar downtown east

And there’s way more mentaiko in that pizza from Kovan. I’m not sure what’s up with the chef(s) at Downtown East.

The lamb shank penne was O…K. Nothing to shout about. And I won’t order this again either.

ice edge cafe and bar pasir ris

So, long story short: I’m not returning to this outlet at Downtown East. My goodness. There are so many other F&B establishments there that I should spend my money at. My meal here was devastating. Thankfully, no one came by to ask “How’s the food? Did you enjoy the meal?” or I’d have given the person an entire lecture. Haha!

I have to say, though, that their Indian staff (I think his name is Randeep?) was an absolute sweetheart. Very cheery, polite, and friendly. The female wait staff just kept asking us to get a beer. And after clearing my plate when I was done with the linguine, she asked if I wanted dessert. And I had to tell her I’m still waiting for the pizza. Hello? (We were there around 4.30pm so the place wasn’t crowded, and yet she didn’t pay attention to what was and wasn’t served to us).

The gelato selection is also smaller over at Pasir Ris.

To avoid disappointment, just take my advice and visit Ice Edge in Kovan. The outlet at Downtown East is not worth the time and money, unless you want to watch football there – they have 2 screens which, in my humble opinion, are way too small.

Teck Ghee Square Food Centre: Fish Soup Plus Awesome Pastries!

Teck Ghee Square food centre

Makansutra says the gems at Teck Ghee are the mee siam, carrot cake and old school drinks stalls. I think the dude should add Long Xing Fish Soup and Bread Line to his list. Maybe he didn’t get to try everything at the food centre. I haven’t either, but I’m really good at spotting queue lines and joining them. Hahaha! So today, we had the fish soup plus bought pastries (again) from Bread Line.

I’ve always been a fan of one very popular fish soup stall at Amoy but I have to tell you that it’s not the long queues which put me off. It’s the attitude of the hawkers – rude, arrogant and I would even say condescending. It’s clear they don’t need your business at all, ‘cos their business is so damn good. No customer is made to feel special unless you happen to be a “ε°ι²œθ‚‰” (good-looking, young chap), in which case the aunties will be very nice to you indeed.

This Long Xing Fish Soup also draws the crowd. But of course, there aren’t as many office workers at Ang Mo Kio as there are near Amoy. The fish slices are thinner than the ones at Amoy but they are wider slices and taste just as good, if not better! And it’s just $4!

I’ll be back! πŸ˜€

long xing fish soup teck ghee

Comes with some tofu and tomato too! You’ll never get that over at Amoy. I like the sincerity here. πŸ™‚ Add some of that chili padi provided and this is one delicious meal.

And just a few units away on the left is Bread Line, which sells really good buns (3 for $3 only!) and I love the Taiwanese Pineapple pastries they bake. I won’t call them pineapple tarts ‘cos they are big, like mooncakes. Thin flaky crust all round, and SO MUCH pineapple in the middle. Sweet pineapple, not the tart kind which is so off-putting.

bread line teck ghee food centre

I’ve just bought 6 of them today. Calories be damned.

As for drinks, the stall next to Long Xing Fish Soup also sells sugarcane juice (at $1.70 per cup) but I found there’s way too much ice in it. The other stall a few units away on the right (Victory Sugarcane Juice #01-08) has sweeter sugarcane and the dude is friendlier too. Same price though.

If you’re ever in the Ang Mo Kio area, do pop by Teck Ghee Square. The food centre has a number of very popular stalls. And I like that at the market area, there’s this small, makeshift stall that sells vegetables at a very low price (50 cents, $1). I bought some to cook for dinner tonight! πŸ˜€

Har Cheong Gai Chicken Chop @ The Chef’s Place in Punggol

chef's place har cheong kai chicken chop

Sis told me her colleague has been raving about The Chef’s Place, and has been willing to travel from Bukit Panjang to Punggol just to dine here. I think that’s a little crazy. I wouldn’t travel all the way to BP just to eat something, no matter how cheap or how awesome it supposedly is. Would you? Anyway, since it’s in our hood, we had to pop by and see if it lives up to its reputation.

Located within a ‘Food Paradise’ kopitiam along the Waterway, The Chef’s Place was manned by two guys; one wearing a black chef’s uniform. Both looked a little glum but I don’t blame them. The F&B business is a tough one and hanging around a stove all day can be a little depressing, for me at least.

I ordered the Har Cheong Gai Chicken Chop ‘cos it sounds really interesting while Sis went for the Mushroom Grill Chicken.

the chef's place punggol

the chef's place menu singapore

chef's place har cheong kai chicken chop

Verdict: OK, not too bad. Sis LOVED the har cheong gai chicken chop but I thought it’s not something I’d travel across the island for. The zichar stall next door might serve better har cheong gai (with actual chicken wings). πŸ˜€ And you can’t go wrong with the mushrooms and curly fries, obviously.

Sis’s order came with a missing portion of mushrooms. See that pink arrow? That portion of mushrooms was only given when she went back to ask the chef about the empty space on the plate. πŸ˜€ On that slab of chicken was just a miserable portion of mushrooms. She liked the mac n cheese though.

the chef's place punggol review

Overall, I’d say the stall and the chef looks legit. πŸ˜€ Food is OK, but I’d probably not ask you to travel across the island for this. Service could have been a little better. But, of course, it’s tough being a hawker. If you manage to find a kopitiam stall with good food and even better service, well, you must be really lucky, ya? πŸ˜‰