“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.

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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. 🙂

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:

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

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. 😀

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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:

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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! 🙂

Get $18 Worth Of Free Food With The Grab Food App

Grab Food Promo Code

I spotted an ad for Grab Food while playing a mobile game and it was offering $18 off my first Grab Food meal. I was initially a bit skeptical but figured there’s no harm in downloading a Grab Food app since I have the Grab app in my phone. Already had my dinner but I’m always up for dessert so Selegie Soyabean was my pick. To my surprise, gosh, it’s truly a free meal if your bill is $18 or under! Wahaha! Delivery was free as well so… THANK YOU FOR THE DESSERT, Grab!

I bought 4 bowls of beancurd (with toppings such as red bean, gingko nut and pearls), a cup of soymilk with pearls and 3 egg tarts. And the bill came up to exactly $18. So there was no need to input any credit card details. 😀 The last time I used my card for transport, somehow there were fraudulent transactions originating from another part of the world – I don’t even know how it happened but that’s a story for another time. So these days I pay only in cash for transport and food.

I like that Grab Food also sends SMSes to let you know when (1) your order has been picked up by the driver, and (2) when the driver is almost reaching your location. The order arrived on time and I can only say I’m really impressed. 🙂

If you’d like to claim $18 worth of free food too, just go download the Grab Food app, make your food selection then key in ‘FREEFOOD’ as the promo code when you check out. *Make sure this is your first order with Grab Food, ya! And don’t ask me when this promo code will expire ‘cos I really have no idea.

Bon Appétit!

Menya Musashi: Possibly The Best Ramen Place in Punggol

menya musashi waterway point

I know Menya Musashi has been at Waterway Point for some time, but I’ve never dined there. Somehow it gives me the feel that the food might be so-so only. But as I had $10 Fave cashback to utilize, I thought *argh* why not just redeem for Menya Musashi’s deal at Waterway Point as it’s near to my home. For $12.90, you get a Shabu Shabu Pork Suki Ramen Set Meal w/ Gyoza and Lychee Tea. (And there are 6 locations for redemption, so you don’t even have to come to Punggol if it’s too far) I’ve read a user review on Fave that says their Black (Garlic & Onion) soup base is good, and they serve lychee tea (which is one of my favorite beverages), so I thought it shouldn’t be too bad an experience. 😀 And as you can see in the picture above, they provide a generous helping of shabu shabu pork so it’s well worth the price.

Also, it’s actually lychee lemon tea, which is delicious! Comes with two lychees too. 😀 The drinks are served without straws as part of the restaurant’s bid to help reduce plastic waste. 🙂

I picked the thin ramen noodles today and I’ll probably try the thick ones next time. The thin ones were so-so; nothing to shout about. But the soup base is really good! And I don’t think there’s any/much MSG as I didn’t feel exceedingly thirsty after finishing up almost all the soup. Sis and I went to a crab place not too long ago and just the dipping sauce alone left us with a raging thirst after. I’ll blog about that in a bit.

The gyoza is also surprisingly good… the skin is paper-thin with a nice char on the outside. Not your regular sub-par gyoza at ramen places.

menya musashi review

When you’re almost done with the meal, you’ll finally realize what the guys are doing with those swords. Hahaha!

menya musashi punggol

Actually the Fave deal doesn’t offer incredible value, unless you dine here at dinnertime. Menya Musashi has a lunch special that is even cheaper – $10.90 Tsukemen Set w/side dish and houji tea (*free noodle upsize too!), $11.90 Cha Shu Ramen Set w/side dish and houji tea, plus rice sets from $11.90.

I like that the staff are friendly and polite. They seem like poly students doing an internship but I didn’t ask. 🙂 Also, the restaurant provides hardcopy menus as well as the digital ordering system so you can pick your favorite mode of ordering and also check out more pictures and descriptions to help you decide what to select.

The downside of dining here is that the space is really being maximized, i.e. it feels rather cramped unless you are super skinny. I’ll certainly drop by again on a weekday for a quick lunch.

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#01-24 of Waterway Point, near Din Tai Fung.

Tsuta Soba Noodles @ Tai Seng: A Michelin-Starred Disappointment, Really

Tsuta Ramen Michelin Star

I was so excited about dining at Tsuta yesterday. This ramen place at Tai Seng looks very atas, and I believe I’ve seen the lunchtime queue outside the eatery before. Michelin star or not, Tsuta gives the impression that they serve very good ramen here. And you know what they say about the greater the expectation, the greater the disappointment, right? I’ve never felt so let down by a ramen place in SG before. Gosh. We popped by around the time they opened for dinner service (around 5-ish) and the place was empty. So the staff could take their time preparing the food for us. And it was finished off with a flourish – the way they added the toppings was almost like they were putting on a show for us. I was expecting the food to taste REALLY good.

We ordered the Ajitama Miso Soba and the Ajitama Teriyaki Chicken Spicy Soba. The two bowls of noodles cost us a total of S$33.60. There’s complimentary iced water though. 😉

I tasted the broth before even starting on the noodles and I was shocked. I can describe the broth in one word: weak. I was trying really hard to conjure up that great taste I thought it would have but no… Even the noodles tasted so-so. They’re not very generous with the toppings either. But the egg was really good… as can be expected.

Tsuta Tai Seng

Just 20 seats. Hence you’ll have to queue up outside if you pop by during lunch hour on weekdays, I guess. Doesn’t exactly mean the food’s to die for. The staff aren’t Japanese either. They are either locals or Malaysians, but I didn’t ask.

The bean sprouts come with the ‘tail’ attached. And I even got a misshapen one:

Tsuta review

Utterly disappointing.

Though Tsuta doesn’t charge 10% service charge like most of the other F&B places, their prices aren’t exactly low to begin with. If you’re looking for a value-for-money bowl of ramen, may I recommend Takagi Ramen Shop instead.

If you want to visit Tsuta anyway, there’s a touchscreen self-ordering kiosk near the entrance. You have to pay before the food is prepared…

Tsuta price

Because I was still feeling a little hungry after dining at Tsuta, we headed downstairs for nomvnom – just truffle fries and a glass of cold-pressed orange juice (total: $11.80).

nomvnom tai seng

There are lots of stuffed toys at nomvnom. I can’t imagine why.

nomvnom tai seng review

They serve up stubby fries which are glistening with oil. Both of us agreed that MOS Burger fries are more enjoyable. 😀 However, that was a delicious glass of orange juice. I’ll certainly return for the juice and a burger or salad next time. 😀

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Tsuta is at #01-01 of 18 Tai Seng while nomvnom is at #B1-02.