Kinder Joy: Toys For Girls vs Toys For Boys

kinder joy chocolate

You must have tried one of these Kinder Joy eggs before, or at least the Kinder Surprise ones before them. The difference between the two? The Kinder Joy ones can be pulled apart: chocolate on one side, toy on the other. The Kinder Surprise ones come with a whole chocolate egg and a plastic capsule within that contains the toy. And you might not know this: the chocolate eggs are banned in the U.S. as the toy is hidden within the ‘candy confection’ and might be a choking hazard. Don’t ask me why. I’ve never tried eating the chocolate egg whole before. 😛

This time round, I’m more concerned about what’s within the Kinder Joy egg since they’ve clearly been labelled as being “For Girls” or “For Boys”. Would I like the toys that are supposedly for girls, or would I prefer those deemed to be for boys? 😉

I’ve only got 6 Kinder Joy eggs so I’m fully aware that these toys represent just a small fraction of their toy offerings but here goes…

Out of 3 “For Girls” eggs, I got 2 toys from the same range, just in different colors. And they don’t really work very well as they aren’t very springy. But I guess if you just want to throw something at someone, these could still do the trick. 😛 I really do like that jigsaw-like ‘ball’? Simply fit the 6 pieces together and you get a ball. I think all kids (whether boy or girl) would have fun piecing them together.

kinder joy singapore

Now for the “boys” toys…

There’s a sheep that’s supposed to bounce as well but it’s not not very entertaining. There’s the red bike (is it a Harley?) that’s decent – just give it a little push and it can travel quite a distance. Better than expected since it came out of a chocolate egg. And finally there’s that yellow lion with a purple-and-blue chat box. It’s TOO COOL.

kinder joy toys

Use the lion’s tail as you would a pen and you can scribble out messages or draw on the little screen. It’s obviously more suited to little fingers. 😀 Flip the switch at the back of the ‘screen’ and your message gets magically erased.

kinder joy

I guess you can tell which toys I prefer more. I’d say the ones for boys are more interesting at this point. 😀

That said, I wonder why there is a need to demarcate which toys are for boys and which are for girls. After all, if you have a daughter and a son at home, it’s not as if they won’t be snatching (and playing with) each other’s toys. 😛

Motorino: Wood Fired Pizzas at Resorts World Genting

Motorino Resorts World Genting

[ This post is the final one in the 3-part series on my makan adventures in Resorts World Genting. Read part one here, and part two here. ]

Motorino Pizza genting

If you’re craving for some pizza when you’re at Resorts World Genting, you might find yourself strolling right into Motorino. After all, the fact that the chefs make the pizzas from scratch in front of the restaurant’s Italian windows means people are often drawn to aforementioned windows simply to gawk. And… how’s the food?

motorino malaysia

In a restaurant famous for its pizzas, I’d say skip the meatballs. I tried them and didn’t like them. They tasted like boiled meatballs (which desperately needed some seasoning) served with an uninspiring sauce.

motorino genting menu

The chicken wings could do with a little spice, but overall, the texture’s pretty good.

As for the pizzas, we tried 4 different flavors while we were at Resorts World Genting, and I only have 1 favorite.

Motorino Malaysia menu

Their Pepperoni pizza is tasty enough; there just weren’t any surprises. The Margherita seemed like it lacked something, maybe more toppings? The Cherry Stone Clam pizza was so-so; not something I’d order a second time. BUT… the Amatriciana pizza was something truly special.

The Amatriciana pizza has minced chicken, scallions, pecorino (a type of hard Italian cheese) and fresh chili on top, among other things. It’s slightly spicy and SO delicious.

Of course, you can go crazy with the additional toppings for your pizza. If I were dining alone, and unlikely to embarrass anyone except myself, I’d probably get 10 toppings with one pizza. 😀 (Motorino offers over 20 toppings such as brussel sprouts, anchovies, buffalo mozzarella, turkey, etc)

Things to note when dining at Motorino:

#1: The pizzas can get pretty stiff when they turn cold. So FORGET about getting the perfect picture of your pizza. Eat it and then go get an X-ray taken. 😛 As you have already noticed, I didn’t bother with lighting or 1,000 shots for this blogpost. Haha!

#2: Even if you’re not a fan of cheese, no worries, the cheese on the pizzas here aren’t the stringy kind. It’s not heavy on the palate either.

#3: Grab some wine or beer to go along with your pizza. We didn’t order any. Had to keep sober for nighttime adventures… i.e. the kind with music, flashing lights, something spinning, and ka-ching!

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Motorino is located at Lvl 1, Sky Avenue. The restaurant is open from 10 am to 10pm (Sun to Thurs) and from 10am to 12 midnight (Fri, Sat, PH and eve of PH). Call 03-6101-1118 or visit rwgenting.com for more information.

April’s Bakery: Famous Thai Pastries, Now In Singapore :D

April's Bakery Singapore

This is one example of Facebook ads paying off for the advertiser: I spotted the ad by April’s Bakery on Sunday morning, and popped by their store at Tampines MRT in the afternoon. Only because it was the final day of their Buy-1-Get-1-Free promotion. (They really should bring it back soon) From checking out their Facebook page, I realized they had an earlier promotion during an event and it was ‘Buy-6-Free-1’, which is considerably less attractive! I like to try multiple flavors during these promotions because it’s less painful if a certain flavor turns out to be one I immediately dislike. 😀

If you don’t already know, April’s Bakery has some 60 outlets in Thailand, and their Hong Kong-inspired pastries come in flavors like taro, soybean, black sesame, pumpkin and purple sweet potato. Their pies are free from butter, lard and preservatives (which means you have to consume them within 3 days *keep them refrigerated too*) The company (in Thailand) was started by former flight attendant, Nathanaporn Euawanthanakhun (her English name for her flying days was ‘April’ as she’s born in April). Apparently, her business got off to a rough start and it was a struggle getting it to take off, whether it be selling her luxury bags or turning to family members for loans. (Pardon the puns; I just couldn’t resist)

I like how April’s Bakery is generous with the filling in their pies. I do believe these are handmade as pies of the same flavor can be noticeably different in size (just like how no two Famous Amos cookies look exactly the same)… and the crust is not quite even. Take this Thai Tea Pie, for instance:

April's Bakery Thai Tea Pie

The flaky crust on top of the Thai Tea Pie is delightful, but the bottom is slightly thicker in certain areas. If the base is more even, it’d be better. That said, I had expected the filling to be sweet (or even, REALLY sweet) but it wasn’t. It’s just mildly sweet so it makes a great gift for older folks.

I should have known even before ordering anything that their red bean pie would be my favorite, as I really do love red bean. 😀 Their Purple Sweet Potato Pie (pictured below) was hard and dry though. Even my very chin chye partner felt it’s not yummy.

April's Bakery Purple Sweet Potato Pie

You just might have to buy 1 of every flavor in order to discover your favorite. While we were in the store, we noted that their samples (pies cut into really tiny pieces) were not accompanied by toothpicks. <- Picking up food using uncleaned fingers is so unsanitary that I really didn’t want to try any.

And so, we bought quite a few:

April's Bakery Tampines

April's Bakery Singapore

The outlet in Singapore is currently using the boxes from Thailand (with Thai contact details, etc). There’s no doubt that the boxes are pretty (like the Laduree ones for macarons) but they just might want to get the Singapore version ones soon, eh?

April’s Bakery is located at #01-31 Tampines MRT Station

Contact number: 8122 7604

*The brand also sells pineapple cakes, which I didn’t buy as they weren’t included in the promotion that day 😀

Bee’s Knees at Singapore Botanic Gardens: Good Food, Even Better Dessert

Bee's Knees Singapore Botanic Gardens

Brought my pals to the Botanic Gardens on Good Friday to visit the Orchid Garden and we dined at this bistro called ‘Bee’s Knees’ which we haven’t visited before. I hesitate to call it a restaurant because it’s all free seating here and there wasn’t much in terms of customer service from the very young staff. (There’s no ‘service charge’ either, so I’m really not complaining :P) It’s a little strange that there’s a greeter at the entrance, but you have to locate a table yourself, just as if you’re dining at McDonald’s. In any case, I really enjoyed the dessert and I do believe that if the dessert is good, diners can easily ‘forget’ any imperfections earlier on in the meal.

*Bee’s Knees is located pretty close to the Botanic Gardens’ Circle Line exit so it’s convenient to get there by train.

Brown Wagyu (salad) $18

the garage botanic garden

Prawn Pasta $18

bee's knees botanic gardens singapore

I ordered the prawn pasta ‘cos it’s called Tiger Prawn Pasta, or something like that on the menu, and for some reason it sounds impressive. Turned out to be so-so though.

And since the LOML asked me to pick something for him too, I chose the Beef Cheek Pasta (YUM). Actually, beef cheek anything would taste good, no?

Beef Cheek Pasta $16

bee's knees singapore

My pal, Steven, ordered the waffles for lunch, instead of a main course. I’ve known all along that he likes waffles. I just didn’t realize he liked them this much. 😀

Apples Waffle $14

bee's knees menu

LOML ordered this after I said I wanted dessert and OMG that’s possibly the best chocolate-y creation I’ve eaten this year… and I don’t even know what it’s called!

bees knees singapore menu

If you’re at Bee’s Knees and you see this item (in the picture above), you HAVE TO order it. You can thank me after.

We spent about 80-odd dollars for 4 pax, which is reasonable. I love that there’s self-serve free iced water too.

My only grouse, if there be one, is that people who are waiting for a table will happily stand next to yours and stare at you, hoping to get you to finish up and leave fast. I don’t really like this arrangement. It makes me feel as if I’m eating at a food court during the busy lunch hour.

Final note: Bee’s Knees doesn’t take reservations.

Cafés Richard: The Best Coffee From France, Now At Resorts World Genting

Cafés Richard resorts world genting

[This post is the second in a 3-part series on my makan adventures in Resorts World Genting. Read part one here]

According to staff at Cafés Richard at Resorts World Genting, Cafés Richard is the #1 coffee roaster in France, with some 80% of the market share there. Wow! And I wasn’t surprised after tasting their beverages and savoring their high tea set.

I ordered their ‘Sun King’s Delight’ while he had the ‘Jamaica Blue Mountain’ coffee which costs RM62 per cup (expensive taste, this one).

Cafes Richard Malaysia

Sun King’s Delight (and it really was delightful)

Because I don’t drink coffee, I ordered their ‘Sun King’s Delight’ which turned out to be (possibly) the best iced tea I’ve ever had. It was fruity, refreshing, and just what I needed after a walk around Sky Avenue (gosh the place is huge!)

Cafes Richard Genting

The ‘atas’ Jamaica Blue Mountain

I like how the staff at Cafés Richard, Resorts World Genting, are chatty and accommodating. This dude, for instance, told us a joke (or was it a riddle?)…

“What makes salt… SALTY?” he asked…

Cafes Richard Sky Avenue

I figured it couldn’t be too hard to answer since he’s not a scientist in a lab coat… so I said… “the Y”. Bingo! 😀

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And this is their high tea set for 2 to 4 pax, with drinks. Each item is SO DELICIOUS but SO TINY. Good grief. 4 pax? I can eat all of these myself, thank you very much!  And in the bottom drawer is a chocolate macaron (a really tiny one, or petit as the French would say) which I happily popped into my mouth – it was so good. WHY, oh why, did I not get a box of say, 100, to bring back to Singapore?!

Cafes Richard menu

If you’re wondering, the high tea set with drinks costs RM 138. 🙂 I love how the current exchange rate makes everything seem so affordable.

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Fans of slow coffee methods such as the French press, chemex, syphon or cold drip should definitely pop by Cafés Richard. There’s also a special drink (which I’ve heard is very good) called ‘French Genting’. It was specially concocted for Resorts World Genting, and is a combination of French orange liqueur, espresso and local Bentong ginger.

If you’re craving for some high tea / coffee when you’re at Resorts World Genting, I’d highly recommend you pop by Cafés Richard. 🙂

And if you happen to have a craving for lobsters or burgers… there’s Burger & Lobster too!~

Burger & Lobster @ Resorts World Genting

Burger and Lobster Resorts World Genting

[This post is the first in a 3-part series on my makan adventures in Resorts World Genting]

Located at Resorts World Genting’s Sky Avenue, Burger & Lobster draws long queues at mealtimes, with many hoping to try the famed Nova Scotian lobsters. While the restaurant’s interior will receive a mention on many food and/or lifestyle blogs, I’m more concerned about the taste of their culinary offerings. 😀

I was only distracted by their Paul Twohill-lookalike Assistant Manager there. 😀 If you remember fondly Paul Twohill from Singapore Idol, you’ll find that the Burger & Lobster Assistant Manager reminds you of him. 😀 He even came over to our table to chat! One of the things Paul’s ‘doppelgänger’ shared with us was that the lobsters (flown in from Canada) arrive every Thursday / Friday. So the next time I pop by will definitely be during a Friday or Saturday, so I can be certain their lobsters aren’t all sold out! It seems the restaurant has been reviewed by a couple of (famous) food bloggers so I won’t be surprised if more and more Singaporeans pop by Genting not just for a game of blackjack or to try their hand at the jackpot machines. They’ll be coming by for the famed lobsters! Simply ‘cos many Singaporeans are foodies. Anyway it’s much cheaper heading to Genting, instead of going all the way to the UK. 😀

Burger and Lobster Menu

The Chili Lobster which I ordered is a menu item exclusive to Malaysia (and not available anywhere else in the world). It was truly delightful, served in a huge claypot and with just the right amount of spice. I really didn’t want to share…

Burger and Lobster Resorts World Genting

Drinks served in plastic bags (kopitiam-style) and suspended from banana stands (likely from Daiso; I’ve bought one there before), the chili lobster in a claypot, LOML holding up a live lobster, and the restaurant’s famous lobster roll (which I didn’t eat)

What the LOML ordered was their B&L, which came with a finger-sized portion of lobster meat within the burger bun. He wanted to share. (>_<)

Burger and Lobster

[Picture courtesy of Resorts World Genting]

The burgers here are made with 100% Australian beef without fillers. Within the sesame seed brioche buns are the beef bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, “in-house pickles” and a signature (read: secret) sauce. Choose from one of these:

  1. The Mayfair (168 grams), served with chips
  2. The Original (224 grams), also with chips
  3. B&L (224 grams), with lobster meat, chips and a salad

I was rather disappointed that the fries had turned cold. I should not have been surprised as I had seen the number of orders sitting in the ‘window’, waiting to be sent out to the diners within the restaurant. The burger itself was unremarkable, with the patty rather dry and with little flavor, and that small sliver of lobster was a tad tough. Slightly disappointing burger but I was very happy with my order of their Chili Lobster so it didn’t bother me (haha!)

If you’re not a fan of burgers too, you can also order their lobsters steamed or grilled with clarified butter or their famous lemon and garlic butter. I NEED to try these next time!

During this visit, we didn’t manage to try many items on the menu. We’ll definitely have to head back again for the lobster rolls (apparently delicious) and their interesting dessert items such as the durian tempura (wow!) or their guanduja (chocolate) or stacciatella ice creams.

A good time to visit would be after the Twentieth Century Fox World theme park opens, as Burger & Lobster will (apparently) remove one of the walls so the restaurant can offer a nice view of the theme park, with alfresco seating. Also, their seating capacity will be expanded from the current 150 to 170. Sweet.

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Burger and Lobster Malaysia

[Picture courtesy of Resorts World Genting]

Burger & Lobster is located at Level 1, Sky Avenue. Open daily from 11am to 10pm (weekdays) and 11am to 11.30pm (weekends). The restaurant doesn’t take reservations but if you have any questions (only), call 03-6101 1118 or visit http://www.rwgenting.com.

The Western Co: Try Their Delicious Chicken Wings

The Western Co review

We took this picture for Steven before actually tasting the food and it’s apt because I really love the chicken wings at The Western Co. The LOML bought yet another Groupon (this one’s a gem) and we took Steven out for dinner on Friday. I’d never heard of The Western Co. before this but liked that it’s just a short walk from City Square Mall so you don’t even have to drive here (parking can be troublesome) – just take the train! Not too bad for a Friday date night. 😀 (*Before I forget, the BEST part of dining here: No GST, no service charge)

Here’s what the exterior looks like:

The Western Co

There’s also Happy Hour before 7pm so head there early and get beer and wine at a good discount! 🙂 There are 16 tables, each with either a red or blue tablecloth (so pretty) and a plastic rose and an electric candle. I was wondering why we need electric candles here… and in the middle of the meal, poof!, the lights went out and the fans stopped working too. I resorted to using the light from my handphone ‘cos everyone else’s electric candle worked, except for ours. What sorcery is this?!

The Western Co decor

Anyway, they got it fixed within a minute and we resumed our meal. I was totally blown away by their pasta. SO CHEESY! The cheese actually comes from a gigantic block of cheese, and you can actually watch the very sweet lady prepare the food. I’m definitely heading back here again.

The Western Co pasta

Once again, the LOML orders something that has the word “Combo” in it. He hates ordering just 1 item on its own. This is the Signature Ying Yang Combo ($15.90) which comes with bamboo charcoal battered fish and classic battered fish served with homemade salted yolk sauce and chilli “crab” sauce. And you can also pick 2 sides. Choose from homemade coleslaw, premium fries, mash potato and a fresh green salad.

The Western Co YingYang Combo

I’m not a big fan of their fries. I love MOS Burger’s thick fries. These ones are even thinner than McD’s which makes them quite a marvel actually.

Steven ordered the Mogu Burger which comes with a too-yummy portobello mushroom that is so juicy. Once again, there’s lots of cheese:

The Western Co Mogu burger

The highlight of the meal (for me, at least) was the basket of Honey Paprika Wings ($9.90) that are so delicious. Probably the best chicken wings I’ve eaten this year, except for those cooked by Mom (of course).

I’m not sure if the Groupon for The Western Co is still available but if you see it, do purchase it. And DEFINITELY try those chicken wings!

Anyway, there’s a lunch menu for Tuesdays to Fridays (12pm to 4pm). For just $7.90 nett, you can enjoy a Green Salad as a starter, then pick a main (Grilled Chicken Pasta, Panko Breaded Fish Pasta, Crispy Chicken Burger & Fries, Crispy Fish Burger & Fries) and get a drink of either hot or cold Citron Tea. Just $7.90 nett!

The Western Co is closed on Mondays (so don’t head there today). Their usual opening hours are from 12pm to 10pm Tuesdays to Sundays.

Address: 35 Tyrwhitt Road S(207536)

*Only just Googled ‘The Western Co’ to see if any reviews had been done by the famous food bloggers in SG, and wow, so there was this whole fiasco in 2016 that I totally forgot about. I think it’s all water under the bridge now, though, as service was really good when we visited. There’s this middle-aged lady who’s so friendly that I won’t hesitate to come by for makan again when I’m in the area. 🙂 Give these folks another chance!

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? 🙂 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 the information I need without me having to talk to anyone. 😀 Some days, I’m rather kaypoh (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. 😀

Here’s what we ate:

For the amuse-bouche (the complimentary dish), we had hakka suan pan zi (算盘子). 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 😀 I hope they make you hungry 😀 😉 😛

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! 😀

*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. 🙂

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? Unless it’s pea soup, maybe? But that’s not terribly popular here in Singapore. 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. 🙂

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! 😀

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. 🙂

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.

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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)

Nonya Delights @ Waterway Point’s Foodcourt

nonya laksa

I spotted a new ‘Nonya Delights’ stall at Waterway Point‘s foodcourt recently, and immediately ordered their Nonya Laksa’. Then went back again the same week to try their Ayam Rendang, Ngoh Hiang, Otah, etc. 😀 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 Signature instead. 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 😉

Waterway Point foodcourt nonya

For all the kueh-kueh lovers…

Waterway Point kueh

 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.

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. 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? 🙂

#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. 😉

Rochor Beancurd House Tofu Fries

For a healthier alternative, swap your french fries for tofu fries 🙂

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 survive 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 to 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 小时后的味道 (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 out 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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“I’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.”

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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. 🙂

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! 🙂

#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! 🙂 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) 😀

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! 😀 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! 🙂

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)