BFF Recommendation of Chinatown’s Best: Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice

Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice

Would you wait an hour or more for claypot rice on a weekend, in a (possibly hot and humid) Chinatown hawker centre? Well, this is exactly what customers do to get a taste of Lian He Ben Ji’s famous Claypot Rice. So this claypot rice should be even more awesome than Sylvia Lim’s “taste of Fengshan” orh luak, right? And yes, this was what we had for dinner tonight – BFF’s recommendation. :)

A group of us had planned a belated birthday surprise for BFF Steven. The cat (or rather, cake) would have been let out of the bag if we’d suggested Tung Lok Private Dining, for instance. So when Steven said he’d like to have claypot rice for dinner at Chinatown, heh heh, we went ahead with that. Awfully Chocolate’s banana chocolate cake in a Chinatown hawker centre. How’s that for memorable, eh?

Steven Lek

One of the best things that have happened to me since I embarked on my blogging journey is the number of amazing friendships forged. Steven is one of my students-turned-friends. He used to be a ‘big potato’ (an endearing term we use to refer to high-flyers, or ‘big shots’) in Singapore Airlines before he retired (check out his blogpost here and spot his pictures with the late President Wee, and even Princess Diana). There’s so much I admire and appreciate about this guy, but there are two main qualities I’d like to share with you: his Loyalty and his Humility (this one might seem strange if you are familiar with his jokes).

Steven’s a truly loyal friend – one I can count on always. And I don’t use this term “BFF” loosely, like many other people do. I do also think it is pretty amazing that a big potato would be a good friend of mine. Most big potatoes I’ve met are snotty, while Steven’s probably the friendliest big potato ever. While people of a certain social standing tend to “flock together” with others of the same kind, Steven loves making new friends and doesn’t conform to the norm. That’s as odd as having Awfully Chocolate cake in a hawker centre where there’s no air-conditioning. :D

And if you’re still curious about the Claypot Rice stall, its unit number is 02-199:

Chinatown Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice

I’d take frog leg porridge over claypot rice any day, but if claypot rice with salted fish is what will make the BFF’s day, then so be it. Ha! If you’re a fan of claypot rice, you should definitely pop by on a weekday when there are fewer diners and the wait is not too long.

The highlight of the meal (for me) was the steamed fish head. This one is super yummy. I believe it’s a fermented bean sauce (don’t quote me on this) and it is really delicious. And cheap – just S$13! You won’t find such great value in restaurants, for sure.

Steamed Fish Head in Hot Sauce

This stall was actually recommended by the drinks seller, when we went to get some sugar cane juice (the two stalls are next to each other). I’ll definitely be back again for this steamed fish head in hot sauce.

Since there were 6 of us, BFF also ordered another fish head from another stall. This second fish seems to be patin, but I’m not sure. It has that peculiar taste that the Chinese describe as being “muddy” that resembles that of the patin fish we’ve eaten in the past. I’m not a fan of this dish, and don’t know which stall it is from, which is just as well.

Chinatown Fish Head

It might be the BFF’s doing – I am now more fussy when it comes to food and am not easily impressed anymore. LOL. Steven’s the one who introduced me to Dancing Crab, Blue Lotus, and many more eating places.

Come back again soon to read about more of my BFF’s foodie recommendations. :D :D :D

BFF’s Recommendation: TungLok Teahouse at Far East Square

TungLok Teahouse mushroom pau

One BFF of mine turned 68 yesterday, and it was his idea to pop by TungLok Teahouse at Far East Square for an early lunch today. He said that the novelty mushroom pau is interesting and highly recommends the deep sea giant garoupa as well. As you see in the picture above, the mushroom-lookalikes are actually pau with mushroom filling. I have to commend the chefs – it must take quite a bit of effort to make the pau resemble shitake mushrooms. Taste-wise, it’s perhaps nothing to rave about as they could have been more generous with the filling. But these paus are so Instagrammable, right? :D

And the main dish that BFF Steven wanted to order again was this Deep Sea Giant Garoupa ($38). This portion comes from a huge 38kg fish and I did not know what to expect – would it be tough and dry? However, it turned out rather chewy, and doesn’t taste like garoupa I’m used to. Anyway, you can choose between two cooking methods for this dish: (1) Braised Giant Garoupa Belly with Roast Pork and Garlic or (2) Steamed Giant Garoupa with Black Fungus and Garlic. We had the steamed version:

TungLok Teahouse Deep Sea Giant Garoupa

We also ate a lot of dimsum that I did not take pictures of. The char siew pao is good, and so is their har gow. The deep-fried items all turned out well so go ahead and order those when you dine at TungLok Teahouse.

What I like most about this restaurant is the effort put into the decor – from the retro-looking chairs and tables, to the paintings on the walls:

TungLok Teahouse

TungLok Teahouse Far East Square

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7-13 Amoy Street, #01-01,
Singapore 049949
Tel: +65 6877 1123

Also at Square 2:

10 Sinaran Drive, #01-73,
Singapore 307506
Tel: +65 6893 1123

Park Hotel Alexandra: Meat Lovers Will Adore ‘The Carvery’ on Level 7

Park Hotel Alexandra The Carvery lunch

I enjoyed a lunch buffet at The Carvery during my staycation at Park Hotel Alexandra last weekend, and I have to say that the food’s pretty good! Unlike other buffet places which try to impress you with a staggering variety of food, The Carvery focuses on quality instead. :)

The first thing you see upon entering The Carvery is the 3-metre long meat carving station. During my visit, there was roast chicken, beef and lamb. We were bowled over by the well-seasoned, tender and juicy roast chicken that we had second helpings. :D

Park Hotel Alexandra meat carving station

Depending on when you visit, you might be treated to beef prime rib, pork knuckle, New Zealand roasted leg of lamb, etc all roasted and sliced before your eyes! I also spotted one diner happily slicing off a big chunk of the chicken when the chef had gone back into the kitchen for a bit, presumably to supervise the cooking going on inside. :D :D :D

After selecting the meats, you can then pair them with any of the 5 different fine salts, house-made Anchovy and Truffle butters (*available during dinner), and a myriad of sauces. It’s probably something unique to Park Hotel Alexandra, and The Carvery in particular – any one kind of food can come with a mind-boggling variety of sauces to go with it. Take mustard, for instance…

So many kinds!!!

 Park Hotel Alexandra mustards for meat

It’s the same with the salads: you get to choose from a range of extra virgin olive oils. Good luck finding your favorite! :D

Park Hotel Alexandra The Carvery salad dressing

And when you are back at your table, don’t forget to check out the custom-made designer Laguiole steak knives from France. At The Carvery, they take the meats they serve very seriously, it seems.

*Psst… The restaurant is next to the rooftop swimming pool and the sunset bar Aqua Luna so get a table with a nice view of the pool if you can. *wink*

Besides the meats served at The Carvery, there are side dishes which have been carefully selected to complement the meats: look out for Yorkshire pudding (*available during dinner), Lyonnaise potatoes, Vichy carrots, Sauerkraut, smoked eggplant, etc.

While there’s no sashimi (which is my favorite item at buffets), there’s some seafood on ice: chilled Tiger prawns and Canadian black mussels. You’ll also get shucked oysters at dinner…

Park Hotel Alexandra seafood on ice

For the pasta lovers, there’s a pasta station where you’ll get 3 choices of pasta (spaghetti, farfalle, or linguini) and 2 classic sauces (Pomodoro or Aglio Olio) and you’ll get your pasta cooked a la minute. I didn’t taste the pasta during my visit as it was cooked in large quantities to cater to the guests invited to someone’s birthday celebration hosted within the restaurant.

But you won’t want to miss the wood-fired pizza – the pizzas are all freshly made here. Pretty cool huh?

Park Hotel Alexandra wood-fired pizza station

As for dessert, there’s fresh fruit, brownies, blueberry cake, Crème brûlée, mango pudding, etc.

And to sum up my lunch buffet experience here, I have to say it was really satisfying and that I’ll definitely recommend it to meat lovers. Prices below if you’re interested :)

Park Hotel Alexandra The Carvery dessert

~ Prices ~

Lunch (daily) at S$38++, Dinner at S$52++ (Sun to Thurs), S$62++ (Fri & Sat)

Opening hours: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm

Seating Capacity: 100 indoor and 40 outdoor

Reservations: 6828 8880

Jamaica Blue @ The Star Vista: More Than Just Coffee :)

Jamaica Blue The Star Vista

I love cafes which serve all-day breakfast. You probably do too, no? :D And even though Jamaica Blue is at The Star Vista, where I go to for church services, I’ve never thought I’d step into a “coffee place” as I don’t drink coffee. But as I found out today, upon the fiancé’s invite, Jamaica Blue serves more than just coffee.

I ordered the Frittata Breakfast (S$8.90, before the add-ons) you see above. I’d actually selected two add-ons (mushrooms and avocado), otherwise it’d be a less crowded plate. :D I’m not a big fan of the Frittata – didn’t quite like the texture as the egg inside is kinda rubbery. But I have to say that I love the mushrooms – quite a generous serving of the tasty shrooms for just S$3.

As for him… he had the Classic Breakfast (S$15.90)

Jamaica Blue The Star Vista

Hashbrowns were ok, poached eggs could have done with a bit of seasoning, ham was too salty and tomatoes were alright. But we were famished after our mooncake workshop in the morning. So it was a most satisfying lunch at Jamaica Blue. Hehe!

The customer service was decent as well – this is important because bad attitudes can destroy even the best impressions of good food in a cafe or restaurant. I suspect I’ll be back here again soon! :D

1 Vista Exchange Green

#01-32 The Star Vista

Tel: 6694 4592

Interview with Feby from Febspantry

Febs Pantry

I’ve been very impressed with Feby’s creations since I got to know about the Febspantry instagram account after a fellow blogger posted a picture of a cupcake bouquet. Who knew that a simple cake could be ‘dressed up’ to look even prettier than an actual bouquet of flowers?! Here comes the problem: How does one cut up a cake that the baker spent 4 to 6 hours decorating? (@_@)

I’m hoping to order one from Feby soon, for my birthday (and his) :D Prices to follow below…

1) Your cake creations are absolutely gorgeous! Where do you get your inspiration for the cake designs e.g. the one with a seaside design or those popular floral ones?

For me, nature is the best inspiration. And of course, thanks to technology I can browse any information that I want to know about.

2) How long did you take to learn and perfect these designs, and how long do you take to hand-pipe those flowers for a whole cake now?

I think learning is long life process and there is always room for improvement. Every design is unique and beautiful in its own way. For flowers decoration, it takes about 4 – 6 hours (for single tier cake) – not including baking.

3) How did you get started with baking and do you have a full-time job now (or before this)?

Curiosity brought me into this passion. I’ve never learned professionally and this was not a hobby as well, just a curiosity at first and the more I explore, the more it became my passion.

Currently, I’m working for a non-profit organisation during the day.

4) What’s next for your business – Retail shop? Cookbook? Baking classes?

Professional Kitchen / Studio – I want to keep focusing on “made to order basis”.

5) What do you love most about baking?
I can express my wildest imagination and ideas into a cake and its decor, so I can deliver my edible artwork to my customers and inspire many.

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The ordering process:
1) Contact Feby via Whatsapp 85226822 [to consult about the date and cake details] *Tell Feby you read this blogpost :D
2) Receive confirmation of the order
3) Make full payment in advance via bank transfer

Self-collection or delivery [additional charges may apply]

Price range for these baked goodies:
Cookies $24 – $27/box – Seasonal
Cupcakes $60/dozen – $84/dozen
Cakes? $120 – $290* [depend on the size, flavour and design]
*price is for single tier 6″ and 8″ cake – upsize is available

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Update:

Febspantry Cupcakes

I’ve tried 2 cupcakes from Febspantry. In case you are wondering, the talented baker’s name, Feby, is pronounced just like ‘Phoebe’. *wink* And the buttercream used for those beautiful floral designs is very light and amazed me because I’d thought it’d be sweet, but it isn’t. The muffin at the bottom is moist and quite delicious.

You don’t have to be afraid of the cream being too dense and cloying, or overly sweet, because it’s none of that. To me, the cream seems… HEALTHY. :D No, seriously. Go try it. And if you’re one of those Instagram addicts, well, Feby’s creations are always Instagram-worthy.

Madame Patisserie: A Sweet “10% Off” Code Just For You :)

Madame Patisserie

Yes, #SG50 might be over but the good deals don’t stop coming! :) One of the businesses which supported my 50 for SG initiative is Madame Patisserie, a cafe at The GrandStand. I’ve not been to this cafe before, but I’ll certainly pop by the next time I head over to The GrandStand for some ‘Dancing Crab’. Who can resist desserts which look like that?! :)

Here’s a quick intro from the folks at Madame Patisserie, to tempt you into checking out their cafe when you next want to satisfy your craving for some sweets:

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If you are into decadent sweets and desserts or fanciful customised cakes, Madame Patisserie’s offerings will strike all the right notes with your taste buds. Located in The Grandstand at Turf City, the quaint and feminine café serves cakes, desserts, high tea and main courses.

The kitchen is helmed by the former pastry sous chef of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Miss Sherie Quek, who places her heart into making even basic items such as white sliced bread from scratch. She prides herself in producing nothing short of high quality pastries and delicious main course meals.

If you’re looking for cakes for your next event, do not hesitate to check out what Madame Patisserie has to offer! -> https://www.facebook.com/madamepatisserie <-

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Get 10% Off Your Total Dining Bill:

Simply quote my name ‘Grace’ for the discount :)

You’re welcome!~

Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh at Chui Huay Lim Club

I’m not a big fan of bak kut teh but it seems that the humble pork ribs soup is enjoying a revival and becoming… dare I say it… “hip”! In fact, my blogger pal from Penang came over recently and wanted to have bak kut teh instead of the usual chili crab or char kway teow or hainanese chicken rice!

What’s going on?

I visited Seletar Mall when it first opened and there was a long queue outside Song Fa. I was rather impressed that the humble bak kut teh could find its way into a brand-new shopping mall.

And upon the bf’s invite, I am now at Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh at Chui Huay Lim Club (near Newton MRT station and Newton Circus).

The walls are filled with framed photographs of the staff and owner(?) with celebrities – both local and from overseas. A sure sign that the food is delicious? *wink*

The signature spare ribs set ($11.80) seems to be good value for money.

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The soup is served almost blisteringly hot, and full of peppery hot spice. The you tiao is cut up into small bite-size pieces for one’s convenience and the preserved vegetables are surprisingly sweet.

The spare ribs are the highlight – a good balance between chewy and tender, with a good amount of fat. Oops.

The homemade barley drink’s rather diluted… though he liked his homemade luo han herbal tea.

Here’s the menu for your reference:

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Opening hours: 9.30am to 9.30pm daily
TEL: 6250 4537

Ng Ah Sio has other outlets at Rangoon Rd, MBS and Tanjong Katong Rd.

National Day 2015 Dinner With Seafood From Crab Towkay

Crab Towkay

[Pictures in this post are courtesy of Max Clyne, unless otherwise indicated]

I usually look forward to watching the National Day Parade on TV but this year’s was eclipsed by something special. I had a sumptuous seafood feast for dinner with my pals! :D We had fresh seafood sponsored by Crab Towkay and the meal was put together by my talented buddy, Steven Lek.

It was truly a celebration of what’s awesome about being in Singapore. We had seafood from different parts of the world: crabs from the Philippines, oysters from USA, lobsters from Canada and mussels from Australia!

And what’s more, three of my pals in this picture are from Malaysia:

National Day 2015 dinner

And this kiddo is super amusing. He makes the funniest faces in photos. LOL.

Admittedly, it was a rather long wait for our seafood to be delivered – it’s the Jubilee weekend, what to do? We had a prawn stir-fry with some potatoes and salad while waiting. Plus bak kwa too – ‘cos there’s 50% discount at Bee Cheng Hiang!!! :) I have to say that’s a pretty cool SG50 discount, ok.

And thankfully, the wait for the seafood was worth it…

There’s nothing quite like fresh oysters and lemon. YUM:

Crab Towkay

Shucked those oysters ourselves! *pat on the back* Fresh, meaty, and very yummy. (Blogging about this dinner is torturous)

And there were the mussels Steven cooked in a secret sauce… *wink*

Crab Towkay

The MasterChef behind our seafood meal is none other than Steven, my 67-year-young pal – the blogger behind retiredowhat.com and the Executive Director of NATAS:

Steven Lek

Crab Towkay

Interesting how we had prawns, crabs, and lobsters at the same meal, but every dish was yummy in its own way. Steven had a butter sauce prepared for these lobsters, the prawns were cooked in a special dark soy sauce while the crabs retained their natural sweetness after being steamed.

At the end of the meal, we had some fruit and this kopi luwak from Bali…

Kopi Luwak

I don’t drink coffee much so I can’t fully appreciate this premium coffee. Found it really ‘smooth’ though. The coffee drinkers agreed that it’s an acquired taste. Try it when in Bali, maybe?

Lotsa thanks to Crab Towkay for this awesome sponsorship, and to Steven and Mel for putting simple ingredients together and making it an awesome feast. :D

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Check out Crab Towkay for seafood deals. There’s one right now for 50 Oysters at S$168 with free delivery and free tabasco sauce. Those oysters are really good! *thumbs up*

Find Crab Towkay online via their website or facebook page :)

King Of Nests: Bird’s Nest Lovers, Get Your SG50 Promo Code Now :)

King Of Nests

If you’re a fan of bird’s nest goodies, well, you’re in luck! :) I have a special promo code for you from King Of Nests. :) Read on for their intro…

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We are an online bird nests specialty store in Singapore. We deliver Gifts of Love to your loved ones and help you nourish relationships and build lasting bonds.

Gifts of Love = Family Love + Food

We believe in family love and strong bonds, healthy gourmet dishes and super food. Our online store sells only premium white house bird’s nests from Indonesia. Our dried nests and freshly cooked nests are packed in lovely packages and jars, which are delivered to your doorstep for your convenience.

We create unique bird’s nests dishes in our own kitchen for our family at meal times so that we can have a hearty meal together and bond over the dining table. This recipe for sharing love has worked for 4 generations in our family and we want to pass it on to you as well.

So here’s an SG50 Promo code for you so you can get $10 off with a minimum spending of $30: WWGSG50

*Please note the following terms and conditions for usage of the code:
– Only valid for online purchases / pre-orders at www.KingOfNests.com.
– You must enter the coupon code at checkout.
– Coupon code is valid until 30 September 2015.
– Each individual can only use the coupon code once.
– Coupon code cannot be used in conjunction with other online voucher codes, privileges or discounts.
– King Of Nests reserves the right to amend/cancel the promotion at any time and without prior notice.
– Limited edition bird nests moon tarts on sale between 1 to 30 September 2015 at $18 per box. Pre-order starts online from 15 August 2015.

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*This post is part of my 50 for SG campaign – details HERE. Business owners who donate a minimum of S$50 to the Children’s Cancer Foundation will get a feature (at no cost) on my blog. :D

First Visit to Komtar JBCC (New Mall Beside JB City Square)

Since the time I interviewed Miss Lemonade for my blog, and found out that she goes on overseas “beauty trips” with her blog readers, I’ve wondered when it would be my turn to go on a trip with a blog reader too. :D And my wish was granted today! I’ll not name the person, and I’ll show you only what we ate. Ha! Still, I count it a real blessing that I had this #AchievementUnlocked moment today. I love finding out why people do what they do. And this reader is particularly intriguing – being voluntarily unemployed for the past two years, and enjoying each day, while heading to JB on a rather frequent basis for food and movies.

If you’re working hard and earning as much money as you can, so that you can have a leisurely life in future (like what those “financial freedom” gurus preach), you should really meet this blog reader of mine, who is already leading a simple and leisurely life right now. I’m wondering if we can strike a balance of sorts – work hard for the future while enjoying the present to the fullest. This person is living at one extreme end – no job, no stress, few(?) worries but will probably be bombarded with questions like “when are you going to look for a job?” every week. :D

Anyway, we had lunch at Azuma Japanese Restaurant (2nd floor, Komtar JBCC). I had this teriyaki salmon and fried oyster set:

Azuma Japanese Restaurant Komtar JBCC

The portions are really small, so don’t mind me, I won’t be heading back anytime soon. The staff were really polite though, and the food tastes ok. But just two oysters?!

We then went shopping at City Square before heading back for an early dinner at Fat Burger at Level 3 of Komtar JBCC. It was a really slow business day for them, and even for KFC next door. While City Square was buzzing with people, Komtar JBCC had few shoppers, and even fewer diners. So if you’re looking for a mall for a quiet date night/day, head to Komtar JBCC. I found the mall really cold though. The fiancé suggested that it might be because the air-con’s new! :D

Fat Burger Komtar JBCC

The Mushroom Plate:

Fat Burger Komtar JBCC

A fried egg on some rice, a patty with mushroom sauce, some lettuce and potato crisps. Kind of like Saizeriya, but not as yummy.

My blog reader pal ordered the Fat Burger (single) – there’s single, double, triple, quad. The presentation doesn’t look appetizing but the verdict of “better than average” meant that looks are probably deceiving. The fat fries though were pretty amazing. Pardon me… I’ll be heading back just for the fries. :D

Fat Burger Komtar JBCC

The fiancé had the Ranch Chicken Sandwich, which came with substantially fewer fries. Presentation is, once again, rather off-putting, like the burger was vomiting and its innards were spilling out. The taste was, however, not too bad.

Fat Burger Komtar JBCC

My favorite (fast food) fries in Singapore and Japan are those from MOS Burger. But now, my favorite in JB has to be these (unsalted) fat fries from Fat Burger. Really sinful though. Please go for a run after eating in JB. I sure did.

Perhaps in future I’ll be going on more trips with readers and to further places. *fingers crossed* :)