The Singapore Mint: 2018 Year Of The Dog Chinese Almanac Coin Series

year of the dog gold coin

Pic credit: singaporemint.com

I popped by The Singapore Mint’s roadshow at City Square Mall this week to collect my pre-ordered 2018 Year Of The Dog silver coins. ๐Ÿ˜€ On weekdays, the retail sales seem to be really weak but there was a constant stream of people coming to collect their pre-ordered items. And I think some of the freebies were very quickly fully redeemed!

Quiet on the retail front, brisk business over at pre-order collection:

Singapore Mint 2018 roadshow

If money is no issue (like if I’d won the recent $9.7m Toto draw), I’d get a couple of those gold medallions – they are so pretty!

2018 year of the dog gold coin

screenshot: singaporemint.com

These are the silver coins I bought:

2018 Year Of The Dog silver coin

Singapore Mint year of the dog coins

And I like the free red packets as well. Asked the lady at the collection counter for them and she gave me 1 pack. Then told me that if I wanted one more, I could get them at the Redemption counter. ๐Ÿ˜€ So I did.

The Singapore Mint 2018 Red Packets (Ang Pow)

5 red ones and 5 gold ones in EACH pack of 10.

ย ~

Were you born in the Year of the Dog? If so, you’re said to be honest, loyal, friendly and responsible. You’re also terribly stubborn, according to yourchineseastrology.com. Is this accurate?! ๐Ÿ˜€

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8 Chinese New Year Buffet Catering Options Under 18SGD Per Pax

2018 chinese new year buffet catering

screenshot: foodline.sg

I love buffets and since Chinese New Year is around the corner, I’m checking out buffet catering options via FoodLine’s ‘Chinese New Year Catering 2018‘ list. I don’t think we’ll do anything lavish, so our ‘party’ will involve a maximum of 30 people. I’ve narrowed down some options for caterers found on FoodLine.sg, which is probably Singapore’s #1 catering portal. I have to say that there are so many caterers to choose from that it’s mind-boggling. To add to everything that’s going on on that busy site, there’s Xiang Yun in the bottom left-hand corner! ๐Ÿ˜€ So read on for my top 8 picks for Chinese New Year buffet caterers offering buffets under S$18 per pax. Why 8? Because it’s 2018 and ‘8’ is a terribly auspicious number! ๐Ÿ˜›

chinese new year catering 2018

Spot their celebrity spokesperson, Xiang Yun ๐Ÿ˜€

In no particular order of awesomeness since I’ve not tried their offerings before:

#1: Jiale Buffet Services

cny yusheng buffet singapore

They have a ‘Continental Buffet / ๆ‹›่ดข่ฟ›ๅฎ (with Yu Sheng)’ forย $15.80 /Pax (19 Feb – 02 Mar 18) for a party of at least 30 people. There’s apparently no GST as well.

I like the sound of that ‘Crispy Butter Prawn ้ฆ™้…ฅ็‰›ๆฒน่™พ’, ‘Curry Chicken ๅ’–ๅ–ฑ้ธก’ (a MUST at any buffet), and ‘Sugarcane Shrimp Roll ่”—่™พๅท’.

#2: The Caterers

For a minimum of 30 pax, this HALAL buffet would be great if you’re celebrating with Muslim colleagues or neighbors. Everyone can join in for the feast! ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s $14.77/ pax with GST.

There are items like Shrimp Paste Crispy Chicken (one of the things I love),ย Stuffed You Tiao w/ Sotong Paste (it’s been a while and I miss you),ย Thai Cod Fish Tofu w/ Cucumber & Carrot,ย Sambal Sotong in Banana Leaf,ย Nonya Chap Chye (OMG I love Nonya Chap Chye!), among others.

#3: 338 Catering

cny buffet

This buffet will cost $16.88 /pax (before GST) and is great for small party sizes as they require only a minimum of 15 pax. However, do note that “all buffets of 338 Catering does NOT come with buffet setup”. <- Their words, not mine.

What I would order from them would be the ้ๅœฐ้ปƒ้‡‘ ้บฆ็‰‡ๅฅถ็š‡็‚’ๅคง่™พ็ขŒ Oat Battered Cream Prawn,ย ๅ–œ้นคไธด้—จ ไบบๅ‚่ฆ่ดขๅƒ้ธก 338 Fortune Herbal Chicken, and ไธ€ๅธ†้ขจ้ † ็‚ธ้ขๅŒ…่Ÿน Breaded Crab Claw. ๐Ÿ˜€

#4: Xin Yi Pin Catering

catering during cny

For this buffet, it’s $16.80 /pax (before GST) and requires at least 30 pax.

There’s the Oven Baked Cola Drumlet ๅฏไนๅฐ้ธก่…ฟ (that you see in the image above) that I’d love to try.

#5: ECreative Catering

chinese new year food order singapore

Their Happiness Menu A (with Yu Sheng) will cost justย $17.98 (w/GST). It’s HALAL!

I also found their menu very similar to Xin Yi Pin’s! So if one’s fully booked on the date you want your buffet, then order from the other caterer! ๐Ÿ˜€

#6: International Catering Pte Ltd

chinese new year buffet 2018

Yet another HALAL buffet, this one will cost $16.91 per pax (w/GST).

I would definitely order Curry Chicken ๅ’–ๅ–ฑ้ธก and Sugarcane Shrimp Roll ่”—่™พๅท if I’m hiring this caterer. ๐Ÿ˜€ Because I love curry chicken… and sugarcane and shrimp. ๐Ÿ˜€

#7: Tim Delight

Their ‘Economy CNY Buffet Menu A’ costs $13.70 per pax (w/GST), which is relatively cheap, BUT you’ll need a minimum of 80 pax. So if your company has lots of employees, this is the one to go for. It’s also a halal buffet.

I’d definitely order the ‘Traditional Nonya Style Chap Chai’, and I’m terribly curious about their ‘Roasted Baked Boneless Chicken with BBQ Sauce’ <- what’s that gonna taste like? Roasted AND baked AND with BBQ sauce? Interesting. ๐Ÿ˜‰

#8: Oh’s Farm Catering

Theย ‘Prosperity Delight’ buffet is vegetarian๏ผˆ็ด ๏ผ‰and costsย $16.91 per pax (w/GST). It’s also halal.

I would love to try the ‘Signature red curry chicken with baby potatoes ๆ‹›็‰Œๅ’–ๅ–ฑ้ธก๏ผŒๅœŸ่ฑ†’, ‘Crispy tofu skin roll ้‡‘่„†่…็šฎๅท’, and the ‘Longevity bailing mushroom concoction topped broccoli & cauliflower ็™พ็ต่‡่œ่Šฑ’.

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Head over to FoodLine.sg to book your CNY Buffet Catering for 2018! ๐Ÿ™‚

Twenty15 Restaurant Grill Bar review: Excellent Service, Good Food

Twenty15 RGB

Baked Chicken Thigh with Mozzarella Cheese ($18++ before discount)

Located at Big Box in Jurong East is Twenty15 (Restaurant, Grill, Bar) that’s tucked away into one corner and super easy to miss. And yet, within, they have a spacious restaurant that’s great for big groups dining in. We popped by yesterday for a (very) early dinner and made it for the 50% discount dining slot via Eatigo. As it was the restaurant’s off-peak period, we were the only diners and service was fabulous.

We ordered just two mains (Ribeye Steak and Chicken Thigh) along with their complimentary iced water, and they even provided a bread basket with two multi-grain buns and some butter and olive oil F.O.C too!

There are a couple of TV screens should you want to watch a football match:

Twenty15 RGB Big Box

I love the steak. It was served with a side of fries that’s HOT. It’s always a letdown when F&B outlets serve you cold fries with hot food, isn’t it? No complaints here. ๐Ÿ˜€

Twenty15 RGB review

Australian Grain-Fed Ribeye (220gm) $26++ before discount

While the ribeye steak was good, the chicken thigh did not impress. The side of veggies would have been tastier if served warm too.

I believe we’ll be back again the next time we decide to take the ‘Journey To The West’ (side of Singapore). ๐Ÿ˜€ And we’ll probably both go for the ribeye. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Twenty15 RBG is at #01-13 of Big Box. Tel:ย 6801 6513.

Customer Service RockSTAR at Isetan Serangoon NEX

Customer Service Isetan Singapore

It’s not often that I’ll stand outside a store sending feedback to the company and complimenting staff for good customer service. I did it today as I was afraid I’d forget her name: SH Yap.

(This will be a slightly long read as I need to give you the backstory of how I came to encounter the rockstar.)

Isn’t it true that it’s easy to get something from an insurance company (say, a policy) but when it’s time to make a claim, it seems like scaling a mountain would be easier? Today I received an email telling me that this (name withheld) insurance company was giving me a S$10 Isetan e-voucher which I could use in stores. (I think I completed their survey last month) And the email also stated that I should call their customer service hotline if there are any issues when redeeming the voucher. <- I think this is where they jinxed it all.

Happily, I went down to Isetan at Serangoon NEX and picked some of the cheapest snacks I could find – $3.90 per pack – and took three to the cashier at the Household department. That’s where my nightmare began…

Cashier #1 (H) scanned the items then tried to scan the barcode I’d presented via my mobile phone. Nope, it did not work. And immediately she tells me that it can’t be done. Really? She then asked for my Isetan member card (which I did not have on me). Stone-faced, she pronounced that no, without my member card, I would NOT be allowed to redeem the $10 evoucher. I pointed her back to the email which did not state ANYTHING about anyone needing to be a member before redeeming said voucher.

Cashier #2 (W) who happened to be standing behind H also looked over and with the air of a gangster chief, said something along the lines of “Come, I’ll show you. This doesn’t work”. And for good measure, she scanned the barcode once more and sure enough, nothing appeared on her POS system. What she could have said was “Sometimes these things happen. No worries. Let me walk you over to Customer Service where we can get this all sorted out.” And not go all gangster on me. Is Isetan not a Japanese department store? Where’s all that courtesy to customers? Instead of “The Customer Is Always Right”, now it’s “The Cashier Is Always Right”? And she also added that I had to produce my membership card. I told her I’d left it at home and asked if I could simply borrow a membership card from another customer. And she said no. But why? I’m just borrowing a card so YOU can scan the evoucher thereafter. There’s no discount or anything.

So I walked my own lonesome self over to Customer Service where… THERE WAS NO ONE!

I asked the cashier lady nearby if there was no one working at Customer Service today, and her reply was “No, she’s there”. And when she walked over with me, she could see there’s no one there at all. So she called out loudly and one young lady popped out of the office. She hardly said anything, and just took photos of what I showed her on my mobile phone screen.

Then… the ROCKSTAR appeared. I have no idea where she popped out from… but I’m guessing it’s the office where staff seem to congregate for some unknown reason.

With a big smile on her face, Ms SH Yap invited me to take a seat while she tried to sort it out for me. She made numerous phone calls, pulled out documents to check if there was a memo they had missed, and at some point, she even turned over to me and asked if it was ok if I waited for 10 more minutes because the issue was taking a little longer to resolve.

I told her that since I had been waiting for so long already, it didn’t really matter if I wait another 10 minutes. (By the way, the entire ordeal lasted over half an hour)

She kept apologizing and flashing me her sincere-looking smile that truth be told, I was no longer upset.

Eventually, she walked me back to the cashier at the Household department, and payment went through. WITH NO NEED FOR A MEMBERSHIP CARD. Take that, H and W! ๐Ÿ˜› (Yes I was pissed at the way I was treated by these two but I’ll not state their names here)

Before I left, I asked Ms SH Yap whether she was the manager or assistant manager. A little flustered, she said that she was neither; she’d just been in the office at that time (that I went by Customer Service) and so she decided to help out. *sob* This helpful, kind, generous, sincere soul. If there’s ANYONE who SHOULD be Manager at this store, it is Ms SH YAP!

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How Can Those Other Staff Be RockSTARs Too?

S: SMILE – My goodness! Instead of those glum faces, just smile!

T: Take Ownership Of The Issue – Your job position does not equate to your job scope! Just because you are a “cashier”, it does not mean that you are responsible only for collecting payment! You are the Customer Service person (greet the next shopper in line, apologize for a wait if any, ask if he/she is having a good day, etc), the Salesperson (you ask if the customer would like to buy wrapping materials if the item purchased is a gift for someone, you ask if they’d like another Purchase-With-Purchase item), and most importantly, you are the Ambassador for the company as it is likely that the customer’s only contact with staff in the store is with YOU! You can make or break your customer’s shopping experience!

A: Ask If You Are Unsure – Customers don’t expect you to know EVERYTHING. Can you not page for someone over at Customer Service or contact a manager or supervisor? Don’t just say something like “A membership card is needed or else no-can-do!” and then your colleague later proves that the solution needs no membership card, and you look silly, no?

R: Respect The Customer – I’m not going to elaborate. This is just basic stuff I wish the cashiers at Isetan NEX knew.

~

If you’re reading this, thank you again Ms SH Yap, for saving the day when your colleagues only knew how to say “NO!”, put up “roadblocks”, deflect responsibility and decide to be unhelpful. We need more RockSTARs like you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Neuroplanner GIVEAWAY | The Planner With Brain Hacks!

Neuroplanner

I’ve only recently gotten a copy of the Neuroplanner – supposedly the only planner in the world that comes with ‘brain hacks’! These hacks are said to help improve various aspects of your life (productivity, creativity, and happiness are a few of them). The Neuroplanner has been featured on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and each one is valued at over 50 USD. Watch this video I shot of the creator of the Neuroplanner, Kar Villard, and get a pro tip or two from her about how to use this planner:

My review: Firstly, I love the soft, buttery smooth cover of the planner. And while the weekly layouts look similar to regular planners, I love reading the bits about neuroscience and how we can effectively ‘hack’ our brain to bring us closer to our goals. If anything, I enjoyed writing down my goals for the year and breaking them down into smaller ‘chunks’ for each month and week. And I definitely enjoy planning a reward for the end of the week when I’m supposed to have completed certain goals. ๐Ÿ™‚

Want to win one? ๐Ÿ˜€ Head over to my Facebook pageย for the giveaway starting 5th Jan, 10am.

Review: Fusion Spoon at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Fusion Spoon review

Pic Credit: Kar ๐Ÿ™‚

After Food For Thought shut, Fusion Spoon took its place. And I think this new concept just might work. Fusion Spoon looks like a restaurant but there are no servers. You find a table, then head to the self-ordering kiosks, make payment, and wait for your order number to appear on the screen, at which point you head to the collection zones to pick up your food and beverage. My lunch companion had the rosemary chicken (which came with the most delicious-looking crispy skin) while I went for the chicken curry. As I’d brisk-walked from one end of the Botanic Gardens to the other end (where Fusion Spoon was located), I couldn’t care less about the number of calories ingested during lunch. ๐Ÿ˜€ *By the way, staff at the Botanic Gardens will tell you it takes about 45 minutes walking from one end of the Gardens to the other. But if you’re walking really fast, 25 minutes is possible too! ๐Ÿ˜€ You don’t have to take a taxi unless you’re really running (haha!) late.

Fusion Spoon Botanic Gardens review

I had the Nyonya chicken curry served with prata (instead of rice). The prata was SO good. It was thin and crispy and went so well with the curry! ๐Ÿ˜€ I would come back again just for this combination!

I found the mushroom soup oddly sour though, so I’ll not order it again. I didn’t even finish half of it. (>_<)

By some extraordinary stroke of luck, the weather stayed cool and there was good cloud cover, and it only rained when we were ready to head home. I even got to shoot some footage of the beautiful swans at Swan Lake. I’m in love with this place.

The gorgeous gazebo at the Botanic Gardens…

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Spotted this little furball (which looks like it’s wearing a bib) among the plants:

Singapore Botanic Gardens photography

If you’re popping by Fusion Spoon, it’s closest to the Tanglin gate of the Botanic Gardens. Head to where the Visitor Centre is and you’ll see a sign pointing you to Fusion Spoon at the basement. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hussain Muslim Food: Cheap and Good Nasi Padang in Kovan

Hussain Muslim Food review

If you’re looking for good nasi padang at a very affordable price, definitely pop by Hussain Muslim Food at the Kovan hawker centre. When we went by for lunch today, there was a pretty long queue, and it’s no wonder why. Those two plates of food you see above cost a total of just S$5. And with a cup of sugarcane juice we shared, this lunch-for-two cost under $7. Food in Singapore really can be as inexpensive or as pricey as you’d like.

And as the lady ahead of me in the queue shared, online reviews may not be accurate, and queues could be deceptive. I agreed with her. There’s this nasi lemak place that’s very famous and not too far from where I stay – the food was so bland and boring that I couldn’t believe we’d queued for so long. As for her point about online reviews, hmm, I’m so brutally honest especially with food reviews that if you don’t trust what I say, you shouldn’t even be reading this! ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, here’s a picture of the queue + the stall (the one with the red signboard). It’s near impossible to miss.

Hussain Muslim Food

It’s time to tighten our belts, really. The electricity bills are going up soon, right after water. And *cough* GST?

So, lots of thanks and love for stallholders like the folks at Hussain Muslim Food who keep prices low for all of us. *Truth be told, the quality of the bergedil can make or break my experience of nasi padang from any stall. And the ones here are soft enough for my liking. So… to quote someone famous, I’ll be back! ๐Ÿ˜€

One Place Bistro And Bar (Jalan Kayu) Review

One place bistro and bar review

One Place Bistro & Bar is a good chill out spot at Jalan Kayu for dinner and drinks, and for watching soccer matches! ๐Ÿ˜€ Due to a promotion on Fave, we went to try their skewer selection for one fixed price, and also got white rice to go along with them. I have to say that the first few mouthfuls were delicious. Maybe also because we had just gone prawning before dinner, and were therefore ready to fill our bellies.

If you ask me for a recommendation regarding which skewered meats (or otherwise) to order, I’d say go for the Garlic Pork Sausage and Shisamo. The sausage is meaty and juicy while the shisamo had roe within! In second place would be the quail eggs and shiitake mushroom skewers. The only drawback, really, is that EVERYTHING is coated with the same spice – that chili powder you’ll find dusted over your (Taiwanese-style) XXL chicken cutlet at some stalls in shopping malls. It gets quite jelat after a while. And spicy too!

one place jalan kayu

I found the grilled squid the least enjoyable as it’s mainly the tentacles that we got and it’s overcooked and therefore tough and (too) chewy.

one place bistro and bar

We’ve actually dined at this place with friends before. And we’d ordered their mains previously. Can’t remember what we ate though. Here’s the menu anyway:

One Place Bistro and Bar menu

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One Place Bistro & Bar is located at 273 Jalan Kayu. Tel: 6555 6539. They’re open in the evening till late. ๐Ÿ˜€

Waterway Point’s Santa Claus: Gifts Every Mon, Wed and Sat

Waterway Point Santa

[ Photo credit: Waterway Point ]

Not everyone shared my enthusiasm when Waterway Point first opened its doors to the public. I guess the far-flung location and parking woes did not endear it to non-Punggolians immediately. ๐Ÿ˜€ But apart from the horrendously long wait for a mall to call our own, folks like us who moved to “Punggol 21” when it was first launched and you can cross the road without checking if there are vehicles to your left or right (and there was just ONE bus service), have been waiting for that promised town hub for the longest time. And then… there was Waterway Point. ๐Ÿ˜€ So far, I have not been disappointed at all. There have been lots of promotional events, giveaways, family-friendly activities, etc. And for Christmas this year, Waterway Point’s Santa gave out presents every week (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays) from as early as 2nd December.

I tried to catch Santa as often as possible. ๐Ÿ˜€ To score a present, we’d just have to spend a minimum of $10 (retail only, as F&B and NTUC purchases don’t qualify), and we’d get to participate in a lucky dip and score an instant prize.

There were $10 Waterway Point giftcards, $5 NTUC vouchers, $10 KIYO vouchers (no minimum spending required), and products like this travel bag I won. ๐Ÿ˜€

Waterway Point Christmas Giveaway

Just some of what I’ve won…

There was one particular day when he and I spent about $10 each (I think it was at DAISO and the Valudollar shop) and we both won $10 Waterway Point giftcards in the lucky dip. So our shopping was ‘FREE’! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m not sure if there are other malls in Singapore which ran equally awesome giveaways. But so far I’m loving this one.

Thank you, Santa! ๐Ÿ™‚

Waterway Point Christmas Promotion

MILO Manufactured in Singapore vs Malaysia

MILO ACTIV-GO

Due to a cold, I’ve been craving for hot beverages to help me feel better when my nose is all stuffy. I try to avoid caffeinated drinks as caffeine keeps me awake at night, so MILO seems like a good alternative. I’m not willing to shell out good money for a tiny cup of MILO at the coffeeshops so I went to a supermarket and bought a pack of eighteen 3-in-1 MILO sachets, and it works out to be about $0.34 per cup at home.

Then while shopping at the ValuDollar store at Waterway Point, I found similar packs of 3-in-1 MILO. And this time, each cup of MILO would cost me just about 21 cents.

{ MILO at the supermarket costs $6.20 while at the ValuDollar store, it’s $3.95! }

What’s even more shocking is that the more expensive MILO is actually a lighter pack. Each sachet has just 27g of product while the ‘cheaper’ MILO has 33g of product. And I’ve tried both and found there’s no discernible difference in taste.

milo singapore price

So what gives?

The more expensive MILO was manufactured in Singapore, while the cheaper one came from… (guess where?)… Malaysia! We’re paying almost double for something made right here. It’s not that big a deal if you drink MILO only occasionally but if you have one cup a day, you’ll pay an additional $45 a year if you buy the more expensive product.

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It’s interesting how the packaging of the MILO product made in Singapore looks bigger (or at least, taller), but actually offers less of the product and costs almost twice as much. Thankfully, there are imported goods so there’s at least a choice. Apparently, there’s MILO from Australia too, and it’s a lot more expensive. So… which will you get? ๐Ÿ˜‰