“FREE” Bubble Tea @ PlayMade Today

If you don’t already know, there’s free bubble tea at PlayMade today. It’s available at all outlets but, of course, I made my way to PlayMade at Waterway Point since it’s the most accessible for me. 😀 The exact opening hours of PlayMade at Punggol are a bit fuzzy – Google says 11am while the company’s own Facebook Page states 10.30am. Anyway, I reached at around 10.47am and this was the sight…

“Wow, no queue?!”

Apparently, those people sitting there are the early birds. The outlet’s opening hours have changed – they do indeed open for business at 11am. Since I was early, I went to do some grocery shopping first. Was an unplanned trip hence I didn’t have a reusable tote with me. Took a plastic bag from NTUC lor. (@_@)

Then I made my way to PlayMade, reaching the outlet at 10.59am where there was a horrendously long queue awaiting. (@_@)(@_@) By the time I reached the counter, half an hour had passed. I was #46.

And if you’re wondering why PlayMade is suddenly so generous, giving out 500 cups of bubble tea (with topping!) PER outlet (they have 5) today? Well, it’s actually sponsored by a company called Love Beauty And Planet. And there was a lady from LBAP handing out little cards to people standing in line…

There’s a QR code on the card right? I scanned it with my phone… and got directed to their website where… the products and the pricing doesn’t show up. After clicking around the website and getting frustrated, I gave up. When the lady came by again, I told her the website has an issue and her immediate reaction was disbelief. So I showed her. And… horrified, she calls a colleague who’s probably back in the office, and asks if there’s a bug.

Well, I hope they learn that they’d better ensure all kinks are ironed out when doing a marketing stunt like this. EVEN IF PlayMade charges them only $1 per cup given out, that’s $2,500 in marketing dollars, not counting the printing of posters, cards with QR codes, Facebook ads, etc.

Anyway that’s the boss / co-founder of PlayMade in white:

I’m glad she’s around. Service is probably 10 times better when the bosses are around. I’ve actually made a complaint before regarding lousy service but the company’s response was disappointing.

**BY THE WAY, if you want to redeem your free M-sized bubble tea, make sure you bring your own cup, FOLLOW LBAP on Instagram, and show your phone to PlayMade staff so they can verify that you’ve followed the sponsor.


Since it’s Earth Day, I feel like I should share about how awesome it is to bring your own cup or bottle. There are advantages, of course. Haven’t you seen how sometimes staff at bubble tea joints (e.g. KOI) prepare your drink, and then pour away the excess because the cup’s already full and a little allowance is needed so the plastic seal can be fitted onto the cup nicely? And you die a little inside because they poured away so much excess drink when you’re SO thirsty?

Well, if you bring your own bottle, I think they’ll happily give you everything they’ve prepared. No more wastage! 😀

However, it is ridiculously difficult to enjoy bubble tea out of a bottle or cup without a straw! You won’t get pearls in every mouthful, and towards the end, you’ll be at risk of choking on too many pearls. 😛 (So yes, go get yourself a metal straw that’s wide enough for bubble tea pearls)

Meanwhile, excuse me while I go wash out my bottle. (@_@”‘)

Half Price! Citrus Bistro @ Sengkang Swimming Complex

Today’s an awesome day. 😀 Managed to go for a swim (plus a brief soak in the jacuzzi) and then lunch with my pal. It’d be terribly difficult to convince me to trade this lifestyle for a 9-to-5 office job. Also, these crazy hours when (almost) everyone’s at work is when you get 50% discount via Eatigo. Citrus Bistro is located at Sengkang Swimming Complex. I believe I’ve blogged about it at least twice before. I do always order their Tom Yam Seafood Pasta. And this time, my pal had the Da Burger Bomb. We also shared the Lava Cake with ice cream. And the whole meal (after all the discounts via Eatigo) cost just $14.30. 😀

I like ordering the same food all the time because (1) I’ve already ascertained that it’s something I like, and (2) I don’t like taking risks and ending up with something unpalatable. Unfortunately, the dish was a little too sour today, so I’m guessing they make this tom yam from scratch in-house? 😀 No one asked for feedback, so I didn’t give them any either.

But I love the wedges and the burger actually tastes pretty good, thanks to my pal who kindly let me try a little of the Da Bomb Burger. I don’t usually order burgers because they make me feel so full… like I can skip dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast too.

[*blogging interrupted by a call*]

*Was just interrupted by a marketing call from a beauty company. And my number’s on the Do-Not-Call list. The lady (a “Wendy” *cough cough*) tried to push the blame to my telco (though she cannot tell me which telco) for providing my number to her and not checking if I’ve registered with DNC. Since she didn’t want to take responsibility then fine… a complaint has been lodged.

Guys, do register your number with the DNC Registry. You will receive fewer of these calls. In fact, I told Wendy that she was the only person to call me for marketing purposes out of the blue in about… a year? And since she interrupted my train of thought while I’m blogging, and didn’t want to take responsibility for not having checked the DNC list, I lodged a complaint. Too bad, so sad.

Now, back to the food. Dessert was awesome, as dessert should be. Citrus Bistro provided a HUGE serving of vanilla ice cream (you can choose from Vanilla, Chocolate and Cookies & Cream). I LOVE THIS TO BITS.

Thankfully, my skinny pal was there to help share the calories. Or else I’d have to go for a run like… right about now.

If you can’t be persuaded to download the Eatigo app, well, just know that Citrus Bistro also has 1-for-1 lunch deals from 12pm to 3pm, Mondays to Fridays. *Of course, the lower-priced item will be the ‘free’ one. And you can only choose from the mains. No dessert ya! That’s why I pick Eatigo. Cos I can get 50% off the dessert too! (But not the drinks)

If you don’t, or can’t, swim, you can still dine at Citrus Bistro. Just give them a call so they can pick you up at the entrance and lead you to their eatery. 🙂

Interview with Rita Yeo, Founder of Stradivari Strings

With more than 25 years of business experience, Rita is a strategic and hands-on entrepreneur. The spectrum of her experience ranges from strategy, negotiation, marketing, merchandising, retail, to operations.

She has a thirst for learning and is always on the look-out for uncharted, niche business opportunities. She also has an innate ability to adapt and reinvent businesses creatively to capture market share.

After 14 years honing her skills with DFS Group Ltd, Rita took on the challenge of building up 2 consulting entities located in Singapore and Malaysia. These entities focused on helping international brands establish their presence in both countries.

She is the Founding Director of Stradivari Strings, a business specializing in fine hand-crafted bowed strings instruments, as well as a music school.

1) “Rainmaker, Strategist, Entrepreneur, Luxury Brand Management” are what people see when they visit your LinkedIn profile. Anything else you would like people to know about who Rita Yeo is, besides the fact that she is a very successful business strategist and entrepreneur?

I believe it is important to incorporate exercise into one’s daily routine. Exercise not only
strengthens one’s body, it also clears the mind giving it extra capacity to be creative and
solve problems. My exercise routine alternates between Bikram hot yoga as well as spinning class at my gym.

Bikram hot yoga is 90 minutes of yoga practice in a studio heated to 42 degrees Celsius, consisting of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Bikram yoga practitioners acquire keen listening skills as the entire 90-minute class is taught by the master via a spoken rhetoric. Yoga practice also guides me to be a good listener in life.

I have an unusual reply whenever I am asked to share my hobby — it is to collect people. I enjoy building my social capital of circles and network. When the opportunity arises, I leverage on my social capital to link up my connections to help them to advance.

My parents are 90 years old, retired and healthy. My four older brothers are in very diverse lines – food and beverage, performing arts, real estate and education. My second brother, Yeo Teow Meng, is a violinist with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Masterclass with our violin teacher, Mr Yeo Teow Meng

2) You got a job at DFS Group Ltd right after graduating from NUS with a degree in Sociology. Would you say your degree was relevant or helpful in your career at DFS and after? What else do you think graduates these days need in order to survive and thrive at work?

I pursued a general university degree versus a specialized one. There is a difference between the two.

Sociology, like other subjects offered in the Arts and Social Sciences, requires the understanding and application of concepts. A lot of thinking and originality in application, is required to do well for an honours degree. Specialized degrees on the other hand, usually have fixed answers for topics one will be tested on. Some topics may be very difficult to comprehend. However, once learnt, it is with you and the answers do not vary.

In short, a specialized degree in areas such as law, accountancy or medicine would be helpful (in fact, essential) if one were to pursue a career in these specialized fields. A general university degree helps one to get a foothold in a job but to succeed and thrive at work, other traits are more important.

I joined DFS Group Ltd as a management trainee after university. There were hundreds of applications for four management trainee positions. A basic university degree was a prerequisite then, but does not guarantee that one will get the position. One has to stand out and demonstrate that one has the traits to thrive in the environment of the company. Being street smart and creative supersedes book smarts.

My career with DFS Group Ltd spanned 14 years. During this time frame, my portfolio and job scope changed every 18 months as I moved up the ranks. I believe that to succeed and thrive at work, new graduates need to have the thirst to learn and the courage to take on projects and responsibilities outside of one’s job scope.

3) As the Founder and MD of Stradivari Strings, can you elaborate on your business?

Stradivari Strings is a specialist retail shop which deals in fine, hand-crafted violin, viola, cello and bows. We source these from all over the world. Aside from a wide range from contemporary makers, we also have a comprehensive range of antique music instruments – the age range is from 90 to 280 years old!

Stradivari Strings is also a music school with 25 teachers who coach the violin, viola, cello, double bass, saxophone, flute, guitar, ukulele, piano and keyboard. We focus on one-to-one coaching by music teachers who are passionate about imparting their skills to motivated students. Our students can choose to go the leisure route or exam-based route in their music education. We also have maestro level coaches who conduct master classes to refine performance techniques.

Radio interview with 93.8 Now, on 19th March 2019

4) What is the typical profile of your students?

My students come from all walks of life. Typically they are busy professionals who are managers or directors, bankers, medical professionals, airline professionals, educators, accountants. In short, anyone who is interested to unleash their musical talent can be my student.

70% of my students are adults age 30 and above. In fact, our oldest student started violin lessons for beginners at age 61. During my consultation with him, he shared that he wanted to start violin class as he is near retiring age and plans to spend his golden years fruitfully acquiring this skill. He is a senior pilot with one of the major airlines who keeps to the European time zone as he flies to the European cities. Despite his hectic schedule, he is progressing very well and enjoying violin lessons for adults.

Most of my adult students have very busy schedules with work, business travel and family commitments. This hectic lifestyle can be stressful at times. So music is an outlet for them to de-stress and normalize.

5) Can you share with us the typical experience of a student who contacts you for a consultation to select a violin or cello?

The violin/ cello selection process usually takes 2 hours. Before the selection process starts, I will ask the student a series of questions to ascertain their motivation level as well as understand their music background (if any). Based on this, I will curate 8 to 10 different violin / cello and guide the student to play on the range. Midway through the selection process, we would have identified the student’s favourite 3 violin/cello. The second half of the session will focus on violin bow/ cello bow pairing.

Every student who goes through this process finds the session very educational as I share a lot of information specific to the characteristics which define a good bowed strings instrument. This helps them to make an informed decision and zoom in on the violin / cello which suits them.

6) What questions do adults typically ask you when they enquire about music lessons?

(1) Am I too old to start violin lessons or cello lessons? (2) How fast can I pick up playing techniques? (3) How much time do I need to practise to improve?

7) What questions do you ask an adult student who comes to you looking to start violin or cello lessons?

There are 3 main questions I ask. (1) How motivated are you, on a scale of 1 to 10? (2) How long have you been thinking of starting music lessons? (3) Are you a beginner level student in the violin or cello? Do you have any music background in other music instruments?

The question about motivation level is important as this allows me to gauge an adult student’s commitment level. I can then advise which coach will be suitable, and also zoom in on the type of violin or cello they should select to start their music journey.

Why I ask how long a student has been thinking of starting violin or cello lessons is, the longer one has been thinking or desiring to learn, the more likely that person is going to persevere and succeed in their musical journey as an adult. There are many adult students who were deprived of a chance to learn the violin or the cello as a kid. This desire has been latent in them for decades! So when they start work, they have the means to pick up the skill.

Someone with music background will progress faster than someone without music background.

8) Stradivari Strings is 9 years old now. What would you say have been the greatest challenges and joys in running this business?

Students who join Stradivari Strings typically have a very strong desire to learn the music instrument. My vision is to nurture this interest and cultivate in our students, the love of music. As such, the music coach’s ability to do so is very important. The greatest challenge is to build a team of music coaches who are not only qualified, but also passionate about imparting the love and appreciation of music to our students. This took a lot of time and effort and I am happy to say that I have an awesome team in place.

Music is the only medicine the heart and soul needs. The greatest joy is to see our students enriching their lives through learning to play a music instrument. Also, seeing the joy on our students’ faces when they have found a violin or cello which calls out to them, at Stradivari Strings.

9) What’s next for you? Business plans in the pipeline?

I am exploring technology to create a smart sensor which monitors accuracy in playing
techniques. In other words, the equivalent of a golf swing simulator for bowed strings instrument players.


Visit https://www.stradivaristrings.com/ for more. 🙂

Soi Thai Soi Nice @ Seletar Mall: The Lunch Offers Are Worth A Try!

At the entrance to Seletar Mall is a Thai eatery called Soi Thai Soi Nice. Their lunch promos (from $5.90++ onwards) are pretty attractive so we decided to dine there today. If you head there before 5pm, you’ll still get to enjoy the “lunch” prices. Say yes to early dinners! 😀 The only downside is you’ll probably be hungry by about 7.30pm, as I am now. Hahaha!

I ordered the Braised Chicken Leg Noodle ($6.90++) you see in the picture above. It’s good value-for-money as it also comes with half an egg, two mushrooms, some (yummy) herbal soup, and springy noodles. Yum! I’d totally order this again.

My darling ordered the Seafood Tom Yum Kway Teow Soup ($12.90++) you see below. Actually it looked A LOT better on the menu. 😀 I thought something smelled a little fishy when I had the first mouthful of soup but after a while, the spiciness was all we could taste…

The prawns are firm and fresh. The noodles are delicious – the very thin kind of kway teow. I thought the sotong could have been cleaned a little better; there were still some remnants of innards (?) within, which I flagged to the staff when she came over to ask if everything is ok. We’d probably not order this dish again. Will try the Grilled Pork Neck Noodles ($5.90++) next time.

I like how they allow you to add your desired amount of chili flakes, crushed peanuts, sugar and pickled green chili. There’s also complimentary iced water, which was served without our asking…

The poster which first attracted our attention:

This looks promising too:


Soi Thai Soi Nice is at #01-29/30 of Seletar Mall, right at the entrance when you head over from the LRT station. 😉

Jewel Changi Airport: I Skipped A&W for Bak Kut Teh

I’m sure you already know – Jewel Changi Airport’s Day 1 of previews happened yesterday. And boy, I sure underestimated the size of the crowd. Crowd control was brilliant though, as you can expect from the world’s best airport. While waiting for my photographer pal outside Din Tai Fung, I spotted a group of aunties crowding around a concierge or customer service desk where, apparently, guides to Jewel plus bottles of water were being handed out. You can also grab as many candies as you’d like. The picture above shows you what I got. 😀

While some people were tempted by the F&B offerings, most people wanted pictures of the Rain Vortex. And as I was with my photog pal, he told me where I should take the picture from if I want the Changi Control Tower to be right in the center. Honestly, I can’t care less. Maybe I’m bochup about these things or I prefer artistic expression. Haha!

Confirm not in the center but doesn’t the control tower look like a rocket about to take off? 😀

And below… people offering up their mobile phones to the Almighty…

I hope their wishes are granted.


As for food, my ‘battle plan’ for the day was to head down the various levels and avoid the crowd. Anywhere we could find a seat was a good place to eat.

Certainly not A&W. I don’t even want to pretend I haven’t been getting my A&W fix in Malaysia and Batam…

We actually went past KFC, which was ‘full house’ and then noticed there were available tables at Song Fa Bak Kut Teh. Perfect! Even managed to meet an ex-colleague from almost a decade ago! Jeff from AK is currently L&D Manager at Song Fa. How cool is that?

I’d recommend you dine here because Song Fa (this outlet at least) has taken a leaf out of Hai Di Lao’s book. They offer splash-proof cloths to cover your bags (I’m not sure why either? Got flying pieces of pork rib, meh?) And they also have notices on the tables to inform you that you can approach their staff for “a zip lock bag / cloth to protect your personal belongings”. Service was excellent – staff remembered I’d requested for chili padi when placing our order, soup refills were provided without our asking, and they even handed out little sampler cups of some new beverage they’re putting on their menu (I cannot remember the name of the drink though). I think the only little thing I can pick out – if I were to nitpick – is that the server’s thumb did end up in my bowl of soup as she was transferring the bowl from her tray to our table. 😉 I didn’t mention it though, as I’d thought it was just an honest mistake. So there is a little room for improvement. I guess they’ll do fine, since they’ve Jeff working for them.

Here are some F&B outlets in Jewel that are the ‘FIRST IN SINGAPORE’:

Yun Nans

Yu’s Kitchen

TONITO Latin American Kitchen

Tiger Street Lab

Shang Social

Shake Shack


Burger & Lobster

Xiao Bin Lou

Elfuego by Collin’s

A&W (*)


Laderach Chocolatier Suisse


I’m so looking forward to dropping by Jewel again soon when, hopefully, the crowd’s abated.

Here’s some carpark information:

Short-term parking at B2M and B2: First 90mins at 4 cents per minute, then $5 for 30mins for subsequent 30 mins or part thereof.

General parking from B3 to B5 is at 4 cents per minute.

Motorcycles and scooters: $1.30 per day (7am to 6.59am on the next day)

Guardian: My Favorite Health & Beauty Store :)

I went to the Guardian outlet at Waterway Point this week because I wanted to stock up on mosquito patches. I ended up buying BRAND’S products because there was a too-good-to-miss promotion happening. But the reason for the mosquito patches? Two days ago, I killed two mosquitoes (the kind which explode in a bloody mess on your palms) within 5 minutes of getting out of bed. I figured the mozzie problem is getting serious, no thanks to construction sites nearby. Also, there’s been a sharp increase in the number of dengue cases this year, so it’s time to fight back. I’ve been using a lemongrass room spray scent from Mt Sapola (now called Hysses) every night since, right before bedtime. I spray it at entry/exit points of our home such as the bedroom windows, toilet windows, etc. And I haven’t spotted a mosquito since.

Now, as for the BRAND’S promotion, I saw that apart from the discounted prices for BRAND’S products, there’s also a further $8 off if you purchase more than 1 item. So I picked out two BRAND’S items.

Essence of Chicken 12 x 68ml bottles (which come with 2 x 60ml bottles of Lutein essence) $31.80 (*It’s $37.90 on BRAND’S Online Store and doesn’t even come with free Lutein Essence)

Berry Essence 12 x 42ml bottles $22.80 (It’s $26.90 on BRAND’S Online Store)

And because I picked 2 BRAND’S items, there’s a further $16 (2 x $8) off!

Impossible not to buy them, right? So I did. 😀 I really don’t know if the promotion is still ongoing. But you’re welcome to pop by your nearest Guardian store to find out.

The Guardian BuzzAway anti-bugs patches cost $5.15 for a pack of 24 pcs while the Eagle Brand Citronella Oil (30ml) costs just $2.60.

Do consider getting some mosquito patches or sprays to protect yourself and your loved ones. I’ve not gotten dengue fever before but I know of friends who have and it’s not something I’m keen on experiencing for myself. Hence, no plants at home! 😀

Le Cordon Bleu Masterclass @ Republic Polytechnic

It was such a treat to have a Master Chef from Le Cordon Bleu Paris fly in to conduct a series of masterclasses. Even more amazing was the fact that the classes – 6 sessions conducted between 19 and 22 March – were free-of-charge for Singapore citizens and PRs! Organized by Patisserie G and e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), the sessions offered the rare opportunity to interact with and learn from Chef Jean-Francois Deguignet. The cake you see in the picture above was made from scratch right before our eyes. And the taste was out-of-this-world. Yes, I may even be tempted to get a Diploma from Le Cordon Bleu at some point, just like actress Jeanette Aw. 😀

I found out that e2i, together with Patisserie G, brought the Chef to Singapore so as to educate and equip the current trade professionals as well as students (in Republic Polytechnic and SHATEC) with the technical skills to become ‘Worker 4.0’.

“… the ‘Worker 4.0’ concept describes a working person that possesses a combination of adaptive skills (ability to navigate and influence change and solve complex problems), technology skills (knowledge and mastery of digital systems and programmes) and technical skills (job-specific knowledge and skills)..”

As you probably already know, Le Cordon Bleu has the largest network of culinary and hospitality schools in the world with more than 35 institutes in 20 countries, and trains over 20,000 students of over 100 nationalities every year.

And over 150 individuals benefited from the complimentary 6 days of masterclasses here in Singapore! 😀

Both companies and individuals should explore the different training initiatives and get support from e2i to enhance their employability and/or upskill to transform into Worker 4.0.

After the class, we were also presented certificates. 😉

At the masterclass I attended, the Chef provided a demonstration of how to make the ‘Chocolate, tonka bean and berry prestige’. We were given the recipe and the instruction sheet but, of course, the devil is in the details. We were not allowed to film the master, as you can imagine. So, to perfect every single step, you’d have to make your way to the nearest (or furthest) Le Cordon Bleu campus of your choice.

Chef Jean-Francois Deguignet at work:

(I’ve always wondered how cakes are glazed. Apparently, you just elevate them, pour the glaze over and let gravity do its job. I should have known. :D)

I found the cake to be sweet but not cloying, with a perfect crispy base and delightful layers of chocolate mousse. It takes you straight to dessert heaven and you will simply want to have one more serving.

I do think that pastry chefs in Singapore who intend to up their game should go to a culinary school like Le Cordon Bleu and master the art of making all these lovely confections. At the masterclass I attended, one lady in the class asked the Chef if it was possible to substitute the icing sugar used for this cake with regular sugar. And you’ve probably guessed what his response was. No, obviously. As the texture of the cake will be affected! I think the attention to detail and not deviating from what works is key to replicating the recipes perfected by Le Cordon Bleu Chefs.

If you’re interested in the culinary arts or in hospitality management, Le Cordon Bleu has 35 campuses in 20 countries. Visit www.cordonbleu.edu for more information. 🙂

Other upcoming events to look forward to in Singapore include the Junior Baker Symposium, Sprout, Escoffier Symposium, NYP L’Fiesta with more masterclasses and knowledge sharing by industry experts. Head over to www.e2i.com.sg and find out more now.

VeganBurg, OKG & Unsatisfied Food and Beverage Cravings (@_@)

Today’s just one of those super weird days when many of the things I want to buy to eat or drink just aren’t available. So it started with Waterway Point… at LiHo, I found out that there’s no longer the $2 promo for Earl Grey Milk Tea. Now it’s just Milk Tea, and for the same price, I’d feel shortchanged somehow if I were to order it. So I walked over to ZTP for some Honey Aloe Vera. And they don’t have it chilled, though they usually always do. Honey Aloe Vera at room temperature would just taste super weird, no? Thus thwarted in my attempts to quench my thirst, I headed over to Serangoon NEX where, thankfully, OKG still has that awesome Lychee Tea. However, as you can see in the picture above, while at VeganBurg in Eunos, I missed out on having a brownie to go with my ice cream ‘cos they are out of brownies today (WHATTTTT??!!!)

I know I raved about OKG Express previously. The deal on Fave is really good, and is still available! My meal of curry chicken with rice plus lychee tea today cost $10.10. The Fave deal FOR TWO costs $14.90 and includes 2 bowls of their Signature Dry-Stirred Noodles with Scallop and 2 x Lychee Tea. (@_@)

I ordered the Curry Chicken because someone I’d recently met, while dining at Seoul Garden, told me that OKG’s curry chicken is good. So I tried it today and, erm, it’s not as mindblowing as I’d thought it would be. The gravy’s pretty thick, and the potato’s soft so your metal spoon will cut through it like a hot knife through butter. But they don’t give you two chicken wings. It’s just three parts – I received two drumlets and one mid joint. It’s like one-and-a-half chicken wing. Why not just make it two? Sigh.

But the chili sauce which you can help yourself to is very good – spicy, sour and will certainly whet your appetite.

As for VeganBurg, the Chocolate ice cream was served in such a tiny paper cup I believe I even said (out loud) “Oh that’s really small, isn’t it?” but the staff ignored me. XD For $4.90, you’ll easily get a bigger serving of ice cream elsewhere. And if you order the Seasonal Chillers at $2.80, you get a cup to help yourself to one of three drinks: Ginger Lemonade, Orange or Lemon Barley. I picked Ginger Lemonade as it was the closest to the cashier AND looked like it was the most popular. Turns out to be bleah… But the ambiance of the place is great for a chill out session or a catch-up session with girlfriends.

Such a weird day today. I just hope I get to eat sushi tomorrow, like I’ve planned to. 😀


And if you’re wondering, no, there’s no point to this post. Just a record (for me) so I know what to order next time at VeganBurg and OKG. 😀

Seoul Garden’s Transformation: Benefiting Employees & Customers

If, like me, you haven’t been to Seoul Garden in a while, boy, are you in for a treat! Seoul Garden even serves sashimi now, apart from the upgraded buffet selection. And after partnering with e2i (the Employment and Employability Institute), various initiatives have made Seoul Garden not just a better company for workers but also one which offers a lot more to customers as well.

(In the foreground of this picture, you see Mr Gilbert Tan, CEO of e2i, in white, and Mr Garry Lam, GM of Seoul Garden, in the black polo shirt. And at the back are (in black) Mr Andrew Lee, CEO of Seoul Garden, and Mr Gary Goh, DyCEO of e2i.)

I had the opportunity to meet the GM, Garry Lam, who shared his truly remarkable story of coming back from Hong Kong, landing an entry-level job at Seoul Garden and then quickly proving his worth to achieve rapid promotions.

Garry has undergone the Place-and-Train programme by Seoul Garden, with support from e2i. Joining the company as a trainee in September 2017, Garry quickly rose through the ranks to become the Operations Manager, then Head of Operations, and now, he is GM of the company. It is testimony to the success of e2i’s Place-and-Train initiative. Garry, age 50, had initially returned from Hong Kong to help out in his mother’s restaurant business here but times were really bad, and the business had to be sold. He then joined Seoul Garden and spent some six months serving diners, and he admitted that this required him to ‘lower his ego’.

Where e2i is concerned, there are three kinds of skillsets. The first would be Employability Skills. For instance, Garry had to have the right mindset when doing his mid-career switch and be willing to join the rank and file employees at Seoul Garden. Then, there are Vocational Skills, which would be the skills F&B staff need to have in the restaurant business. Finally, there’s the Workplace Skills, which Garry had to demonstrate his competency in, when handling equipment and the various processes. In Garry’s own words, being GM means you are “in charge of everything except finance”.

As Mr Gilbert Tan, CEO of e2i, rightly puts it, workers these days need to be attracted and retained. Businesses need to look at offering “a more exciting package”. Remuneration packages have to be reviewed to reflect the profile of our workforce. Workers doing mid-career switches like Garry need to be given the opportunities to reskill and upskill, and also make full use of their past experience and expertise to benefit their current company. Meanwhile, workers also have to be able to ‘value add’ to the company, such as going beyond just compiling reports to being able to analyse data.

One of the Place-and-Train Programmes in Seoul Garden is a 6-month compressed training programme which equips local workers with the necessary skills for roles such as Assistant Restaurant Manager. Getting upskilled has many benefits, such as a wage increment.

The company is also constantly improving the workplace for their employees and also, their customers.

Under the WorkPro Job Redesign initiative, Seoul Garden has implemented the Smokeless Grill System with non-stick grilling plates. This greatly reduces the frequency of having to change the grilling plates for customers, washing is made less tedious, and customers get to enjoy the buffet without the smoke. Likewise, when getting the raw food from the buffet selection, you’ll realize that there are no longer any ice shavings on the ice bed as Seoul Garden now has a new chiller and buffet system. This proprietary temperature control system allows for workers to place more food, compared to the amounts previously, and they do not have to constant add ice shavings to the ice bed.

Other hiring initiatives by Seoul Garden include the offering of more career opportunities for mature workers and those with partial disabilities. The company does this by creating a better work environment for these workers who could have, for instance, autism, and may be in their 40s, 50s or even 60s!

When you next step into a Seoul Garden restaurant, I’m sure you’ll be amazed at the transformation. Even the iced water served is no longer simply iced water. It might be a ‘Sugar-free infused detox drink”…

Rocky Master @ 18 Tai Seng

Rocky Master is this nice chill-out eatery at 18 Tai Seng. If you’re looking for a quiet and cosy place for dinner on a weekend, this would be it. We tried a few of the ‘Recommended’ items on their menu yesterday and the result was surprising: I didn’t think I’d enjoy the lasagne the most, but I did! 😀 In the picture you see above, there’s their Pan-Fried Carrot Cake ($8+) which comes with 3 prawns and lots of fried shallots. Without the chili though, it’d wouldn’t taste as good.

The Baked Beef Lasagne ($13+) was our favorite dish. A super generous helping of cheese on top, and the best part is this dish doesn’t make you feel jelat. You can also pair it with the chili from the carrot cake for a very interesting combination. 😉

I ordered the Iced Yuzu Lemon ($5.60+ for a large cup). I’ll likely not order this again since it doesn’t seem to offer much value for money. The cup was smaller than I’d thought it would be (just get bubble tea at Liho downstairs!) and didn’t taste all that good either. If you’d like some warm water, apparently it’s at 30cents per cup.

The Trio Mini Burger comes with a choice of 3 kinds of patty: veggie, beef and chicken. We ordered 2 beef and 1 chicken, but as it turned out, the chicken’s actually the better one. I think there’s a nice combination of herbs which went into making the patty, so it’s fragrant and all round delightful. We did the $2 upgrade from normal to truffle fries. The fries are good (no doubt), just a pity that they were dripping in oil so those at the bottom were almost a soggy mess.

Here’s a look at their menu:


There’s no service charge here so go ahead and grab your own cutlery and condiments at the little counter by the side. I do enjoy the chillax vibe so I’ll be happy to be back. 🙂

Rocky Master is at #01-28 of 18 Tai Seng. It’s located outside the mall, so don’t go looking for it within the mall, ya! 🙂