Wednesday, December 25

Food Review: Riders Cafe

Cuisine: Western
Price: $30 per person
Location: 51 Fairways Drive, 286965 

Riders Cafe is located away from the bustle of most of Singapore. Its location is a major asset to the dining experience, as its one of the few places in Singapore where you can escape the pervasive hustle and bustle of the city state. Getting there can be a pain without a car, as it will take upward of 30 minutes of walking to arrive from the nearest bus stop. Don't let that discourage you, because working up an appetite is exactly what you should do before you reach Riders Cafe! 

The menu features breakfast up 'till 11 am and a seperate lunch/dinner menu. The menu is simple, but with a diverse range such as risotto, salads and meat heavier dishes. I ordered the Riders Burger with rocket, brie, relish, bacon, onions and seasoned fries and Death By Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

When the Riders Burger arrived the first thing that struck me was the extremely generous portion.The patty was thick and accompanied by a large serving of fries. The fries were crispy on the outside, while retaining a fluffy inside. I ordered the burger medium rare which was exactly how it was cooked. The patty was also extremely juicy. The mix of bacon, cheese and onions worked well to provide a delicious mouthful every time. The riders burger was a simple dish, but it was done to perfection and I was utterly satisfied.

Originally we were going to order 2 desserts but our server warned us that Death ByChocolate would be a mouthful...he was right! Again we were served a large portion; chocolate cake with ladle of dark chocolate sauce and a large scoop of ice cream. The sauce was extremely rich, and I become totally engorged with only a few mouthfuls. The vanilla ice cream served to lighten the dish. I really struggled to finish this after the burger, and because of how cloying the chocolate sauce was. This was a chocoholics dream but after the large burger I couldn't fully enjoy the dessert. It was incredibly rich, incredibly good and could feed a single person for hours!

Riders Cafes picturesque setting is a rare find in Singapore and one that adds a unique atmosphere to the restaurant. The food is simple, but expertly prepared, with more than generous portions. Undoubtedly one of my favourite places in Singapore for a more casual meal.


Monday, December 23

Not A Food Review: NaNa Thai

Cuisine: Thai
Price: $40 for 2 mains and a starter
Location: #04-22, Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road, 228213
Website: N/A

Not A Food Review is an informal first impression of a restaurant I've eaten at, in which I did not taste enough of the dishes to form a definitive opinion of the establishment.

Its been a really long time since I ate here (blog post long overdue!) so here are the cliff notes!

Beef clay pot: Tasty!

Spring rolls: Tasty!


Sunday, December 15

Food Review: Halia (At Raffles Hotel)

Cuisine: Asian, Western, Fusion
Price: $85 per person
Location: #01-22/23, Raffles Hotel Arcade, Seah Street

The Halia is situated in the classy Raffles Hotel Arcade, so before you even walk into the restaurant there is a great ambience. Between 5:30 - 7:00 pm a set menu is available, but we arrived afterwards so went with the a la carte. We ordered a few dishes; wagyu beef carpccio for starter, Halia chilli crab and Chilean sea bass en papillote for main, home made Christmas pudding and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. For drinks we ordered the Heavenly Halia and Turkish apple tea. Throughout the meal the service was fantastic, with the staff attentive and extremely friendly.

The slices of beef were delicious but I didn't particularly like the mayonnaise based sauce. I felt it overpowered the taste of the meat. A tasty introduction to the meal and the best was yet to come.

Monday, December 9

Thursday, December 5

Food Review: Chikuwa Tei

Cuisine: Japanese
Price: $55 per person
Location: 9 Mohamed Sultan Road, 238959
Website: N/A

Chikuwa Tei isn't much of a looker when you go inside, its simple but welcoming. Thankfully the food outdoes the décor. The menu had a wide range of reasonable dishes, typically under $25 for soup and sushi sets.

We ordered the chirashi set, soup dish and some of the house sake (I made the mistake of not writing down what we ordered!). The chirashi set started with a massive bowl of sashimi (seen above), some slices of watermelon, some pickles and miso soup. The sashimi was extremely satisfying and was a meal in of itself. The fish was very fresh and the rice was cooked perfectly. However some fish were unavailable, due to it being Friday, so they were substituted with prawn and scallops. After I'd finished the dish the hostess offered to fry the prawn head. I wasn't entirely sure what to do with the head when she served it to me, but I bit into it and discovered a crunchy treat!

The 2nd part of the chirashi set was this, erm... thing (forgot the name!). It seemed to be composed of egg, mushrooms and prawn. The texture was a bit slimy from the set egg. It was a bit odd and I didn't particularly like it or dislike it.

The soup came in a generous portions and had a really distinctive taste, which was totally unique for me. It had a hint of sweetness to it.

Finally the warm sake was a great addition to the meal.

Chikuwa Tei served some incredibly fresh and distinct tasting dishes, with a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere. Definitely worth a visit if you love your sashimi!


Monday, December 2

10 Things I'm Thankful For

The video is a bit retarded, but it gets the point across.

I've read a couple of times now that people who are happier, tend to be satisfied and appreciate with what they have where as unhappy people are always looking for the panacea that will solve all their problems; a boyfriend, a car, more money etc

Either way there have been a few experiments that show that people who express their appreciation experience numerous benefits (see links at the bottom). One way this can be put into practice is to simply list down 10 things which you are grateful for. They don't have to be major things, just whatever comes into your head. Here's my list reflecting my appreciation and thankfulness, in no particular order:

  1. My loving and sexy girlfriend whom I can spend all day with and not get bored. 
  2. A functional umbrella that kept me dry!
  3. Receiving an Christmas email from my 8 year old brother.
  4. Living in a city with great food like Wild Honey or Coastal Settlement!
  5. My grandma's maid for the delicious fried rice she makes every week day.
  6. A secure roof over my head.
  7. A gaming laptop so I can play the latest and greatest!
  8. Finding a welcoming and friendly community in Brazilian Ju Jitsu.
  9. Being taller than 90% of people in Singapore, lol.
  10. Working with my boss David, who has really empowered me and treated me as full time staff.

Who and what are you thankful for?

Not A Game Review: The Lord of the Rings: War In The North

Genre: Adventure/RPG
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Release date: 1/11/11
Developer: Snowblind Studios

In Not A Review I won't be delivering my final verdict, only my limited impressions of the game. Why? Because I grew bored of the game before I completed it.

The Lord of the Rings: War In The North attempts to tell a new story, with new heroes set during the War of the Ring. You will briefly encounter several of Lord of the Rings (LotR) cast including Gandalf and Legolas, with the initial events of the game running parallel to book/film. The game features co op and a light weight RPG system. If you think that sounds interesting, well it isn't.

The game starts with an elf, a dwarf and a human roaming Bree. Such companionship is incredibly rare in Middle Earth, but annoyingly its never explained how such a team came about. You quickly meet Aragorn and are off into the wilderness to aid him in distracting the Enemy. The town of Bree serves as a introductory hub, of which there are several throughout the game. You'll find vendors selling weapons and armour, some optional dialogue and side quests. Its all very basic and by the books.

Friday, November 29

Food Review: Ssikkek Korean BBQ

Cuisine: Korean Barbecue
Price: $27 per person
Location: #01-01, Oriental Plaza, 291 New Bridge Road, 088756
Website: N/A

There's a few Korean barbecues around Singapore which offer buffet style meals. I went to Ssikkek after seeing it highly recommended on There was a queue outside the restaurant but since we were 2 people, we go a table right away.The interior was bland but serviceable.

Once you sit down you are free to choose whatever you want from the food table. There are a varieties of cuts of raw meat including pork loin, chicken, bacon and beef steak. Seafood is limited to whole prawns and squid, which I noticed was frozen. This lead me to believe the meat is likely frozen as well. There was also quite a few vegetables offered, including lettuce (though I noticed a lot of the leaves were wilted and close to becoming rotten).There were a few pre cooked options including something similar to savoury pancake, a noodle dish (which was great) and some chicken in a sweet sauce. Dessert was limited to watermelon and orange. Free refills of drinks of soft drinks and iced tea were included in the price. Finally there were a variety of condiments such as chilli and oil to add some flavour.

Monday, November 25

Food Review: Octapas

Cuisine: Spanish tapas
Price: $50+ per person
Location: 3D River Valley Rd, 179023

Octapas is situated at the gaudy Clarke Quay, with the restaurant overlooking the river. It's a nice location to whittle away the hours with good company. We ordered several dishes; the iberico and cheese platter, sautéed potatoes with chorizo, beef and pork meatballs in tomato sauce, deep fried battered squid rings and churros with chocolate sauce. We also ordered 2 sangrias and a beer.

When the dishes came I raised an eyebrow at how tiny the portions were. Yes, it is tapas so they will never be large dishes, but $14 for 5 small meatballs is ridiculous. The cheese platter had 3 types of cured meat, some slices of cheese and some olives and walnuts as garnish. It was the highlight of the meal. Both the meat and cheese tasted great and were likely imported. The rest of the meal could only be describe as okay. The meatballs were under seasoned, the chorizo and potato was okay, the calamari was okay, the churros was okay. At the end of the meal we were still hungry, but I lost the appetite for more Octapas.

Over priced, mediocre food, with what some may consider a beautiful view of Clarke Quay river front.


Thursday, November 21

Food Review: The Coastal Settlement

Cuisine: Western, Asian 
Price: $45+ per person
Location: 200 Netheravon Road, 508529

The Coastal Settlement is situated out of the way, with no public transport nearby. This has the obvious benefit of being one of the few quiet locations in Singapore, one of the few locations where you can sit outdoors and feel at ease. The inside of the restaurant is filled with old memorabilia and the outside is beautiful, surrounded by plants.

The menu has a varied selection of Western and local dishes including burgers, laksa and calamari. After speaking to the friendly waiter he dissuaded me from the laksa and instead recommended the curry chicken with rice (also orderable with bread). We also ordered the pepper beef, sambal kai-lan and chocolate bread and butter pudding for dessert. As a drink we ordered the chocolate martini.

The chicken curry came in a generous portion and I was quickly impressed. The curry was thick and extremely rich in flavour. It was a fatty curry, but thats the way I like 'em. The chicken portions were drumstick and wing, with drumstick being my favourite. The potatos were cooked perfectly as well. I was extremely happy with this dish and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Tuesday, November 19

Cheese Cake Review: Mezza9 (Grand Hyatt)

Price: Under $15
Location: Grand Hyatt Singapore Hotel, 10 Scotts Road, 228211 

The strawberries were fresh and sweet, though they were covered in a sugary gelatinous layer which I didn't feel added to the dessert. The cheese was rich and moist without being overly sweet or cloying. The base was crumbly and a little bit crunchy, adding some nice texture contrast. 

Absolutely fabulous!


Cheese Cake Review: Dr. Cafe Coffee

I love cheese cake and whenever I've had the chance, I've eaten cheese cake while I'm in Singapore. However I've been extremely lazy recording my experiences. Aside from the mention in the Mezza9 review I haven't written at all! This is me trying to make things right!

Price: Under $7
Location: #03-86 to 88, Plaza Singapura

The cheese cake itself was soft and mushy, like it had been steamed. The base was also soft. The cheese was incredibly sweet. The strawberry jam on top made things even worse, sweet jam + sweet cheese cake.

The worst I've had in Singapore, eat at your own risk! 


A Retrospective On My Elder Scrolls Experience: Oblivion

It wasn't long ago that Bethesda's, The Elder Scrolls series existed in relative obscurity. Morrowind was certainly popular with PC gamers, but then PC gaming didn't represent mainstream gaming culture, let alone mainstream culture. It was the release of the The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, on consoles, that the series started to gather some main stream recognition. It was finally with Skyrim that Bethesda entered the big leagues. My experience with The Elder Scrolls was slightly usual. I started with Oblivion around 2007, then played Morrowind in around 2009 and played Skyrim on release. I've never touched the other games such as Arena and Daggerfall and do not have any motivation to play them now. To my eyes they simply look awful. So in this series of posts I'll be recounted my experience of The Elder Scrolls, not chronologically, but in the order I played them.

As mentioned Oblivion as the first Elder Scrolls game I played and with it I developed a real love/hate relationship. In my first play through I was blown away. Cyrodil was larger than I could comprehend, there were hundreds of NPCs with their own little lives, you could improve countless skills and most important was the level of freedom you had over your progression. Up until Oblivion I'd mainly been playing Japanese role playing games (e.g. Tales of Symphonia and Golden Sun); games in which the narrative, questing, item progression etc. is extremely linear. You went where the story told you and you could rarely go anywhere else. You bought items at stores along this narrative path, you could rarely get gear beyond the structured acquisition from dungeons and shops. Playing Oblivion opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. Almost from the start of the game you could go anywhere you wanted to. You could go after powerful loot or encounter dangerous creatures. All of this blew me away. In fact even the start of the game was a totally unique experience for me; I was able to decide upon the physical aesthetics of my character, as well as choosing what skills to focus on.

Thursday, November 7

Game Review: DmC: Devil May Cry

Genre: Hack and Slash
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Release date: 15/01/2013 
Developer: Ninja Theory

DmC launched early this year year after much vitriol from fans of the Devil May Cry franchise, a series which started life on the PS2. DmC marked a reboot for the series and rather than being developed by Capcom, the reins were handed to Ninja Theory. This decision perplexed me. Ninja Theory had released 2 games Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. In these games the story, characters and location were extremely unique and interesting, and in particularly in the case of Enslaved, the characters were well written. However were Ninja Theory faltered was with gameplay, in particular combat. Heavenly Rain featured a lack of intelligent combat, where you could mostly button mash your way through the game even on harder difficulty settings. Enslaved used a slightly better combat system, but it was plodding and slow and enemies had far too much health. So what would be the product of a franchise were the gameplay is combat centred, when the developer's weakness is combat?

Like its fore-bearers DmC is extremely combat heavy, the majority of your play time spent battling demon spawn. The rest of your time will be spent exploring and watching cut scenes. In this sense Ninja Theory have stayed true to the series, there is no grand overhaul of the core components of the Devil May Cry series. But where the game fumbles in its in the combat, Ninja Theory's consistently weakest point. Your main attack consists of using your sword and using directional input and button timing to generate a variety of devastating attacks and combos. Your secondary attack fires your guns and you have access to additional melee weapons; one which delivers slow powerful attacks, and the other fast, sweeping attacks. Enemy attacks are negated with by dodging or deflecting attacks by timed weapon strikes. At first glance the combat is similar to previous Devil May Cry games, however there are a few differences which aficionados will immediately pick up on, if not revile. For instance High Roller has been remapped to a single button press and renamed 'High Time'.

And Now For Something Completetly Different

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” - Neil Gaiman

I read this quote on Timothy Ferris's blog, who is the closest thing I have to an idol. He's a cool dude with several great books. 

Anyway on this blog I've deliberately shied away from writing things of a personal nature. Arguably such posts are useless. Almost everything I've written so far has been informative; reviews. But recently my head has been fucked up and why not write out down for others to read? Apparently some people find it cathartic and I've found that writing my thoughts down on pen and paper is helpful. I'll try and make this as non ranting as possible and as comprehensive so you won't have to read too much of this shit.

  • When I was a teenager I developed bad speech habits; mumbling, talking too fast and poor pronunciation. Whenever I dared to speak people wouldn't understand me, I'd feel even worse and not want to talk again. I more or less fixed the problem over the years by learning to speak clearer. Now in Singapore I'm having a similar problem; people can't understand my accent. My grandma can barely understand me which makes expressing more than a sentence impossible. Its compounded when I mess up my speech e.g. stutter. Its extremely mentally tiring to constantly talk slowly with exaggerated enunciation. I try so hard but some people still miss 20%+ of what I say the first time.  I hate it and there is nothing I can do, it makes me not want to talk at all.

Wednesday, November 6

Food Review: Cold Stone Creamery

Cuisine: Ice Cream
Price: $7
Location: #01-09/10, 181 Orchard Central Road, 238896

Although I'd like to think I eat healthy (though we all think that), I frequently find myself eating ice cream, especially flavours or varieties I've never had. This is how I found myself at Cold Stone Creamery on a Thursday night.

I'd eaten at Cold Stone Creamery once before and had found the ice cream itself pretty bland. It tasted generic, the type of ice cream you would find in any super market tub. So this time I went for one of their signature creations; Coffee Lovers Only. It was a mix of coffee ice cream, roasted almonds, caramel chocolate bar and caramel at a reasonable $6-8 (including the waffer).

When I dug in I was pleasantly surprised, it was delicious! The mix of crunchy nuts and coffee ice cream were great and the caramel wasn't overpowering. What's more the serving of ice cream was very generous, as were the quantity of nuts! I did notice a lack of chocolate though.

While I don't suggest you go to Cold Stone Creamery for plain ice cream, the signature creations are definitely worth a try, I will surely find myself there again!                


Thursday, October 31

Food Review: Mezza9 (Grand Hyatt)

Cuisine: Western, Asian 
Price: $90+ per person
Location: Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Road, 228211 

Recently I was lucky enough to grace Mezza9 for dinner. Situated inside the Grand Hyatt, it certainly fits in with the rest of this prestigious hotel. The spacious restaurant has a lovely décor, with several open air kitchen stations were you can watch the chefs at work. Upon sitting we were presented with a surprisingly large menu. There was a lot of choice with Japanese, South East Asia and European food. Burgers, sushi, curries and roasts were all on the menu, we were certainly spoiled for choice. The drink selection was also comprehensive with fresh juices, cocktails and milkshakes. I settled on the $97 set meal which included starter, main, dessert and tea or coffee. The set menu features at least half a dozen dishes per course, all of which sounded fantastic. I eventually settled on the Thai pomelo salad with chicken (yam som o), steamed sea bass fillet with ginger paste, orange peel and steamed rice and farm cheese with fruit bread. I also ordered some cheese cake to take home.

The Thai pomelo salad came in what I felt was a small portion. Naturally it tasted pretty good. Simple, refreshing flavours. The chilli's on top added some nice heat, though while I had dried chili I noticed my grandma had pickled chilli. Not sure why there was a difference. The pomelo salad was tasty, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Wednesday, October 16

Food Review: Ah Loy Thai

Cuisine: Thai
Price: $40+ per person
Location: #01-39/40 Shaw Towers, 100 Beach Road, 189702
Website: N/A

Sweet and sour fish and tom yam soup

In my search for great Thai food, Ah Loy Thai was one that was mentioned more than once. It seemed a must visit and while I'm not sure it lived up to the hype, it was still an enjoyable dining experience.

When we arrived at Ah Loy Thai for the first time, it was just past 8 pm on Friday. The waitress told us that they were closing soon and we'd have to come back another time. What? Closing before 9 pm?! Insane right? So we came back a couple of weeks later earlier, at around 7 pm. We were greeted by a large queue and told that they would stop taking orders soon. For some reason the waitress seemed confused. She told us we could continue to queue, the queue length was around 30 minutes, and they would stop taking orders before that, so in other words we might as well go home. Yet she didn't understand it was impossible for us to order food. Utterly confusing. Thankfully the waitress who we met last week was extremely generous and allowed us to skip the queue!

The menu has a lot of variety, with over 20 dishes to choose from. There is surprisingly little curry and the dishes do not come with rice as standard. We ordered a good selection of items to try; mango salad, fried sweet potato leaves, tom yum seafood, stir fried white basil leaf with pork, sweet sour sauce fish and romitt (Thai chendol). Most dishes were under $8 each. The food arrived haphazardly, whenever it was cooked. At one point we had to remind a waitress of our order. I should also mention that a waitress managed to spill food on my bag, which I didn't notice until later. Whichever waitress was responsible never apologised. We were also had to rush the final portion of the meal because the restaurant closes after 8 pm. At least the uncle was not rude, in fact quite gracious about it. All in all I have to say the service is terrible, as is the restaurant's early closing time.

Now enough about service, lets talk about food! 

Food Review: Crystal Jade Kitchen

Cuisine: Chinese
Price: $20+ per person
Location: No.2 Lor Mambong, Holland Village,  277671

In my last visit to Singapore in 2008, I was left disappointed by the quality of dim sum available. At least 2 restaurants in Glasgow served better and at a lower price. This is especially surprising when Glasgow is thousands of kilometres from China/Hong Kong, whereas Singapore is within 4 hours flight. So during this visit I've been somewhat hesitant to eat dim sum, in case its yet another disappointment. However I found myself at Crystal Jade, the same restaurant I had decided was mediocre 5 years ago. This time  it was quite a different experience. 

The menu had a wide variety of dim sum, more than 20 items at around $6 each. We ordered several types of dim sum and dishes: har gow, shaomai, char siu bau, carrot cake, red bean cake, egg fried rice and kai-lan in oyster sauce. The char siu bau was slightly disappointed, considering it took the longest to arrive. The shaomai and har gow were fantastic though. Succulent with a nice deep, prawny, flavour. The vegetables were simply but well cooked; still retaining their crunch with the sauce complimenting the dish. I ended the meal full and completely satisfied. 

Despite my early misgivings Crystal Jade managed to provide a fulfilling meal. I would definitely recommend it for a light lunch.


Food Review: Creation

Cuisine: Western 
Price: $15+ per person
Location: #01-43 Shaw Tower, 100 Beach Road, 189702
Website: N/A

On my first attempt to eat at Ah Loy Thai we were turned away because the place had already finished orders (it closes at an early 8 pm!). We settled on a nearby restaurant, the choice was Japanese or Western. Against by better judgement I chose the Western restaurant; Creation. The menu was simple enough, various pasta dishes, pizza and other items; generic Western with a moderate price tag.

I chose fish and chips, a dish which should be hard to get wrong. The fish had a reasonable taste but the batter was over fried, to the point it was brittle. Some kind of undistinguishable mayonnaise/tartar sauce accompanied, which tasted like neither and was too sweet. The dish came with salad covered with what looked like store bought dressing. The potato wedges were perhaps the only part done well.

My friend had spaghetti Neapolitan. The sauce was lacking in taste. It was under salted and most importantly lacked a savoury depth, it tasted mostly like tomato water. It seemed clear the sauce had been cooked for an extremely short duration because the slices of onion in the sauce were still semi raw. The pasta was nice and al dente however.

The meal was edible, but when I can cook better food at home, then why am I paying good money to eat mediocrity on some stools! It cemented my opinion to avoid Western food in Asia! Avoid unless you haven't eaten in 3 days.


Monday, October 14

Game Review: The Wolf Among Us (Episode 1: Faith)

Genre: Point and Click
Developer: Telltale Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, iOS, Mac
Release date: 12/10/2013 

The Wolf Among Us is Telltale's newest game, based of the comic book series Fables. The Wolf Among Us takes place in Fabletown, New York. Fabletown is the primary abode of famous figures from folklore such as Beast, Snow White, Grendel and our protagonist Bigby Wolf (The Big Bad Wolf). If you’re wondering what such fairy tale characters are doing in New York, you’ll find out through scraps of back story throughout the game. As mentioned the player takes the role of Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of Fabletown. Bigby is trying to put his notorious past to rest whiling doing the town some good by serving as lawman. After a less than mundane encounter with the Woodsman (of Little Red Riding Hood fame) Bigby bears witness to something horrifying and so events of the narrative are set in motion.

One of the great appeals of The Wolf Among Us is the incredibly interesting world, which can't help but pique my curiosity. What would happen if fairy tales were real and these characters happened to live in a city in New York? How would they keep their existence a secret, how would they govern themselves etc? One of the commonalities between video games I love is when I'm introduced to new and intriguing worlds. The Wolf Among Us is one such world and I'm really looking forward to diving into more of the lore in future episodes. 

Thursday, October 10

Food Review: Danro Japanese Hot Pot

Cuisine: Japanese
Price: $18+ per person
Location: #02-04/06, NEX, Serangoon

I feel like a bit of a miser writing this one, because in Googling for an accompanying photo (I didn't bother to take one myself), other bloggers seemed to enjoy the restaurant. Also I don't remember the food names which means this review isn't as informative as it could be. Not me. Danro is the worst Japanese restaurant I've eaten at and while I'm certainly not a connoisseur of Japanese food (or any food), I've eaten in Japan, and at several restaurants in Europe.

The reason you'll going to Danro is for the Japanese style steamboat/hot pot and buffet (with unlimited refills of soda!), there is no a la carte. For those unfamiliar with steamboat; essentially you have a boiling pot of soup in which you put in raw meat, seafood, veggies and other assorted goodies. You let them cook and then eat communally. When you sit down in Danro the first thing you'll notice is a large menu offering 8 types of soup, of which you choose 2. The second thing you'll notice is the loud, awful J-Pop. Thankfully my ears drowned out the horrible background noise, but I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to play this loud Japanese music.

I was with my work colleagues, and due to a Muslim in the group, we settled on the chicken broth and clear broth (i.e. no pork). As the soup warmed up we went to check out what food was on offer. In the back of the restaurant you'll find an area full of the ingredients for the hot pot. The selection of meats, various fish balls, seafood and vegetable was quite impressive. There is also a small selection of pre cooked food from the buffet.

From the buffet I choose fried chicken, crab stick sushi (the only sushi on offer), a mushroom soya/tofu blob and some sort of fried pastry (looked like a spring roll). The fried chicken was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The crab stick sushi was horribly sweet and creamy, due to the inclusion of mayonnaise. The tofu blob was tasteless. The spring roll seemed to be filled with crab paste, whatever it was made me want to spit it out due to its rancid fish taste. I ended up wasting most of the food on my plate, which I felt guilty about. After the dismal 'starter' came the main event, hot pot!

Wednesday, October 9

Oh My God I Want The Wind Waker HD!

The Legend of Zelda is perhaps my gaming franchise with Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, A Link To The Past, Minish Cap and The Wind Waker all being great games. The Wind Waker was originally released for the Gamecube in the West in 2003. It featured a beautiful cel shaded art style and some brave gameplay changes and additions. Despite some changes the game still exuded the same Zelda charm as it predecessors.When I got my hands on the game I fell in love. I played through it about 4 times over the years I owned a Gamecube and Wii.

10 years later Nintendo have released The Wind Waker HD for the ailing Wii U. What's interesting is that the HD re-remake features a host of improvements such as better quality music and new items. Just watching GiantBomb's Quicklook has made me desperately want to reply this game. While the Wii U, quite frankly is crap, I am seriously considering buying a Wii U just to play The Wind Waker HD. Arghhhh nostalgia!

For a full list of changes you can refer to this helpful list on NeoGaf.

Tuesday, October 8

There's No Such Thing As Too Cheesy

I am writing to you because I want to express how much you mean to me. Sometimes I can be rather gruff and distant but that’s just my nature, it doesn't mean I don’t care about you. I will always care deeply about you.

We've only know each other a few short months but already I feel you’re a part of me. When we first met I knew there was something different about you. It’d never spend so long with one person, when we’d had no established relationship before. Yet those 8 hours we spend walking around Gardens By the Bay and Esplanade were lovely, even when you were criticising Indians!

Monday, October 7

Food Review: The Original Katong Laksa (Janggut Laksa)

Cuisine: Laksa
Price: $7 per person
Location: #1-59, Queensway Shopping Centre, 1 Queensay
Website: N/A

Laksa is a one of the stand out dishes of Singapore. It's composed of a prawn-coconut milk broth, noodles, prawns and assorted other ingredients. For me laksa is a truly a unique and mouth watering dish, especially when its your grandma's home cooked recipe! The dish has many variations and one of them is katong laksa. In katong laksa the noodles are cut into short strips, so the entire dish can be eaten with just a spoon. One of the unintended (or perhaps intended) benefits is that there is almost no chance of splashing your white shirt with laksa gravy, something I appreciate very much!

Apparently there are only two franchises/outlets that can claim to have the ‘original’ katong laksa. The Original Katong Laksa (Janggut Laksa) and Roxy Laksa. I ate at the former where it was pleasantly busy on a weekday evening. Prices were extremely reasonable at $3-5 for a bowl. I got a large bowl of laksa and some otak. It was my first taste of otak, which is a mix of cooked fish and spices. It was nice and savoury, though I felt it didn't really compliment the meal. The laksa was delicious, the gravy rich and creamy, with a good helping of noodles and prawns. My main complaint is that the portion sizes was too small for me, even when I ordered a large bowl. I think with 2 bowls I might be able to appreciate the taste better!

Definitely worth a visit if you love laksa, I recommend bringing an empty stomach so you have room for multiple servings!


Wednesday, October 2

Game Review: 400 Days (The Walking Dead DLC)

Genre: Point and Click
Developer: Telltale Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, iOS, Mac, PS Vita
Release date: 02/07/2013 

One of my favourite games last year was one that crept up on me suddenly. I wasn't a particular fan of Telltale Games or the comic/TV series 'The Walking Dead', so the game was not on my radar at all. I was oblivious to its existence and even if I was aware, I wouldn't have cared. Zombie games didn't have much appeal to me. I only took an interest once other people had started talking about it so positively. After reading some reviews and having played a small amount of Telltale's previous games, I bought the game during the Steam holiday sale. Boy was that a great decision. The Walking Dead turned out to a fantastic game, emotionally hooking me and provide a satisfying and meaty cast of characters.

Recently DLC was released for The Walking Dead; 400 Days. As opposed to the events of the main game, which plays out through the actions of a single character, the DLC features 5 different characters in a nonlinear story. Each character’s episode starts at a different time during the zombie outbreak. The diverse range of characters include a lone wanderer who meets a stranger on the road, a sibling who finds herself and her sister in ever increasingly isolationist community, an older hippy and his friend being chased at gun point and 2 others. The episodes intersect each other, and if you’re paying attention you’ll notice the consequences of other characters stories.

Monday, September 23

Food Narrative: Yoshimaru Ramen Challenge

This post doesn't fully fall into review, as I barely had time to savour the food, since I was desperately trying to maintain my pride and save myself $40 for a single meal. This oddity was the Yoshimaru Ramen Challenge, in which you must finish a bowl of ramen in 15 minutes. Simple right?

Cuisine: Japanese
Price: $20 per person
Location: 31 Lorong Liput, Holland Village, 277742

I'm smiling at the absurdity of it all
My interest in Yoshimaru, a chain of Japanese ramen bars, was aroused when I saw a banner advertising an eating contest. Finish a bowl of ramen and you eat it for free. So a couple of weeks after seeing that poster I found myself in the restaurant signing a contract, which among other things required me not to sue if I ended up seriously hurt, or dead. The posters made the bowl of ramen seem tiny, but when the bowl I was served was anything but. It was wider than my chest (as you can see in the picture), filled with rich broth, lots of noodles, 6 pieces of fatty pork, 3 eggs (cut in half) and some seaweed. I had 15 minutes to eat it, all of it, every single drop of soup, and I couldn't spill anything. I thought it would take me an hour to eat the entire thing, simply to prevent myself throwing up. If I lost then I'd have to fork over $40 for the bowl. The pressure was on.

Sunday, September 22

Food Review: Durian Lingers

So every now and then I’ll be posting food reviews. Not necessarily restaurant reviews, as there is plenty of great food in Singapore which you won’t find in a wine and dine setting. Additionally when it comes to food I care very little for décor, ambience or presentation. I've been too many fine dining restaurants which served mediocre food, at exorbitant prices, for me to care about that any more. Obviously these features can add to the overall experience, but it’s the icing on the cake per se. At the end of the day I'm focused on the taste. So without further or do, here is the first 'review'.

Cuisine: Fruit
Price: $20 per person
Location: 833 Bukit Timah Road, Royal Ville, 279887
Website: N/A

If you haven’t heard of durian then a primer is order. Durian is a fruit native to South East Asia (Malaysia primarily). The skin is covered in thick spikes with the edible portion; the flesh, surrounding large seeds.It has an extremely pungent smell, to the point that it is often banned from public transport and taxis. To some the smell and taste is delectable, to others it reminds them of animal shit. It’s a love or hate it fruit.

So despite Singapore’s proximity to the largest producer of durian in the world, it can be rather hard to purchase and find yourself eating durian at home. Enter Durian Lingers, a fruit shop that specialises in durian, which you can eat right on the premises  They have at least half a dozen varieties ranging from $20-40/kg. I chose one on the cheaper side, which came to $30. Outside the shop itself are a few stools and tables. Its not fancy but it was serviceable  As we sat on some stools outside the shop, the owner cleaved the fruit and left us to eat it.

I was suitably impressed. Obviously I'm one of those that loves durian. It has a delicious creamy texture with an indescribably sweet and inviting smell. I ate it like a child, getting durian flesh all over my hands and face. I could quite happily eat 2-3 durians. Expensive but something I would love to do more often. 

While the 'dining' environment was as basic as you could get, the durian itself was excellent as was the stores other range of fruits. If you are struggling to find a place to eat fresh durian, this is the place to go.


Monday, September 16

My Top 4 Travel Destinations In South East Asia

I'm going to be in Singapore for a while and one of the things that attracted me in the first place was its close proximity to amazing locations. So here's my most sought after travel destinations.

4. China (Hong Kong)

Hong Kong seems like the more culturally rich version of Singapore; with unique Chinese food, bustling city life and attractions like Victoria Mountain. I can’t forget to mention foods like dim sum which is famous in Hong Kong. This city is also the perfect place to get an introduction to Chinese culture.

Monday, September 9

Journey Into Modelling - Part 5

As we arrived on the fateful day we were treated to make up by Roland and hair styling by Easa. We had a long time before the show started; we arrived at 10:30 am for it to start at 2:00 pm. So we practiced the routine for one final time and then got lunch. It was a good opportunity to spend some more time talking to the guys, some of us exchanged numbers. Despite the impending show, we all seemed pretty relaxed.

We returned from lunch to prepare for the show. The first act was the simple group catwalk which was performed well, no mistakes. Next came group poses. Jude wanted us to take off our shirts if we were slim enough. I said I wasn't, I had about three kgs of fat too many for me to look good topless. Between acts we were all desperately trying to change outfits before the next act began. We felt extremely rushed because if you didn't get dressed in time you couldn't go on stage, and the transition times were extremely short. Despite this potential pitfall we were all able to get dressed in time. The solo catwalk came next and I messed it up slightly. I was so focused on smiling at the judges that I was walking too fast. Half way through the catwalk I realised this and slowed down. Finally the dreaded TvC was approaching.

Friday, September 6

Journey Into Modelling - Part 4

When it came to the upcoming show one of the biggest challenges would be changing fast enough between acts. We would have one lesson to learn the routine, one lesson to practice and then the real run the following week. The real run would have an audience as well as experienced models as judges. We were all focusing intently during the lesson. We were only shown the routine a couple of times then expected to remember it.  There was a lot of confusion and hesitation at first, but everybody seemed to have picked up the routines reasonably well by the end. I was still dreading doing the TvC but luckily we didn't have to perform it that lesson, though it would be a required part of the final show.

Sunday, September 1

My Amazing Room Concept Sketch

Edit: I was threatened with legal action and anal violation since I apparently did not own the picture. Here is a picture of my foot instead.

Friday, August 30

Top 4 Most Anticipated Games of 2013

Despite the impending release of the PS4 and Xbox One, there are still a slew of great games to be released on current consoles and PC this year. Here’s a list of my top 4 most anticipated games:

Total War: Rome II
Total War is a long running series distinguished by its mix of RTS and turned based strategy. The latest incarnation is set in the Mediterranean when Rome was at its peaks.  Despite the games title there are diverse factions like the Spartans and Egyptians to play. The Total War series features spectacular battles which you can view from the sky, or get right into the action at an individual level. The period and geographic setting in Rome II has me extremely excited, Creative Assembly have an eye for authenticity which will only add to the atmosphere. I can’t wait to see Roman Legionnaires face off against war elephants.

Thursday, August 29

Modelling: Bitchiness And Me

During my short, and shallow, incursion into the modelling world one thing struck me: how vain, bitchy and superficial some of the people were. Shock! Horror! Who would have thought an industry centred on beauty could be like that! Here are the highlights I encountered while at Shine:
  • You’re fat: On of the first day I arrived at Shine, my recruiter Chad, told me that maybe I should go running. At the end of one my classes the instructor Roland said “Either its that shirt or you've gotten fatter this week”. When another model was measuring my waist, he exclaimed “Wow, quite big.”.Towards the end of my lessons one female model directly told me to lose 1-2kg. 
  • lol@u: Aforementioned female model started laughing at me and gossiping to Chad in Chinese as I stood nearby. They were about a foot away. When I looked at them and asked “What?” they just ignored me and she continue to giggle and glance at me. 
  • Your face is all wrong: Director Jude and teacher Roland would often be quite direct in their criticisms of you. Things like “You have a nice face but when you open your mouth, I go, EH! Who is that? Not nice voice!”. One guy was told his default smile was bad; his eyes were too slanty and he had to open them more. 
  • Full femme: After not turning up to class one week, I was scolded by a model through SMS. I returned the following week and said hi to him. He glanced and me and ‘harrumphed’. The rest of the lesson he would ‘absent mindedly’ touch and caress me, while avoiding eye contact. 
  • White is so not in right now: When the haze in June was at its highest I was talking to Chad about the respirator masks people were wearing. He pulled out a black, leather mask. I asked him whether or not it was actually effective. He laughed and said no, and that he wouldn't wear the medical ones because they were too ugly. 
I don’t bear any ill will or dislike for these people, some of them were quite nice and friendly. However every so often I would be reminded about what industry/lifestyle these guys were in.

Wednesday, August 28

Journey Into Modelling - Part 3

The time had come to repeat TvC but I was really dreading the moment. Additionally I’d finally found a job as a business analyst intern. Part of my initial motivation with modelling was “finally, something I can try to excel at and focus on!”. This evaporated after I got a position at a respectable company. I was terrified of doing another TvC and had lost most of my initial motivation, so I started to think I’d just drop the modelling lessons permanently. On Friday night I was still undecided whether I should skip class. After getting drunk with a friend I decided “Fuck it” and slept in. I was very close to not turning up to any more classes after that. Finally, after feeling very ambivalent, I decide to stick with the lessons. For one thing I had paid money for them, thus I should remain so I got what I paid for. Additionally if I wanted to get modelling auditions I would need to show Shine my dedication. Another reason was I had made a commitment of sorts to see the modelling through, and my word is gold. Though I technically never said I would attend all lessons, I felt I had implied it enough to keep going. Finally even if I didn't enjoy it any more, it was a way for me to grow and gain experience. So I continued to attend lessons. Perhaps my perseverance paid of because I got an interesting opportunity.

Tuesday, August 27

Journey Into Modelling - Part 2

I'll never live this down

Soon I was to attend my photo shoot. I was told to bring all my clothes, so I did. Our teacher created four outfits from what clothes I'd brought. The photographers guided me through each segment. We went through several poses with each outfit, more than a dozen poses with many photos taken. The session lasted over an hour. I felt pretty absurd in some of them (picture related) but I feel I got my money worth. When the photos were printed the Shine models were gushing over how good I looked.

Over the following weeks we learned a variety of modelling skills. One week we learnt how to introduce ourselves to casting agents, another on what to do once you get a job; everything from what to bring to what not to say. Both the most interesting and hardest lesson for me was television commercials (TvC). We were told to present a reading from a short script which was as follows (it is still burned into my memory): “Are you ready to shop to your heart’s desire? Eight weeks of fabulous offers await you at thousands of stores all over Singapore! This is the Singapore Great Sale 2012. The sale worth waiting for.”. For my initial reading I wasn't very nervous. However after performing I was told I read it like a news anchor. So we were tasked with creating a scenario or situation in which to present it. For instance as a character like a football player, a Thai tourist or a guy watching TV. I was racking my brains trying to think of something interesting.

Sunday, August 25

Movie Review: Elysium

I’m a fan of sci fi so when I saw the poster of Elysium and the words “Matt Damon”, “Jodie Foster” and “Director of Disctrict 9” I knew I had to watch it. Especially with the last phrase! District 9 is one of my favourite films of the last few years. The film had a brilliant dirty, and grounded, feel to it and featured a compellingly flawed protagonist. Jodie Foster and Matt Damon were also draws. Damon was great in the Bourne trilogy and I’ve always admired Jodie Foster for films like Silence of the Lambs and Taxi Driver. She also speaks French fluently, which is awesome.
I always try and mediate my expectations, but it was hard for me to feel anything but excited for Elysium. Unfortunately expectations didn’t match reality and I left the theatre with ambivalence.

Wednesday, August 21

Journey Into Modelling - Part 1

C'est moi.

During my first month in Singapore I was at Orchard, trying to meet a girl for a date. After some miscommunication, and rushing to the wrong MRT station, I ended up waiting at the Mandarin Gallery. It was here that two well-dressed guys approached me and asked if I was lost. They introduced themselves as Chad and Earnest (the whitest names I ever heard). So ensued an awkward conversation, where they engaged me in small talk and I tried to work out what they were trying to sell me. It turns out they wanted to recruit me as a model for Shine Models and bring me to their office to discuss it more in detail. I was hesitant in case it was a scam but there was no talk of exchanging money.

So that weekend I turned up at their offices. I was already very cynical and was alert for signs of falsity. As I walked into their office space my first impression was one of modesty. It was one medium sized room with a few tables and chairs squeezed in. Chad sat me down and asked me some questions before instructing me to perform a video introduction, as well as displaying a few facial expressions. He left for a short while, returning saying the director had looked at my photos and said I had good expressions. My bullshit detector was tingling but I continued to listen. Chad told me that I would be joining some modelling classes for $180 SGD and he wanted me to get a photo shoot to build a portfolio. The modelling class would be once a Saturday for 3 hours. He explained that I could get a photo-shoot done by myself or I could use their preferred partner for $350 SGD. Not wanting to throw my money away, I left and decided to research the legitimacy of Shine Models and whether I was being scammed.

Sunday, August 18

Primer On Video Game Reviews

Although I haven’t posted many reviews so far, I feel that it’s necessary to clarify how I rate games. As opposed to rating a game on its quality, or production values, at the end of the day I rate a game on how much I enjoyed playing it. Thus there are certain genres and games that I’ll struggle to enjoy or justify spending money on, even when millions of people love them, or they are critically acclaimed. Take for instance the Street Fighter series. I played some of Street Fighter 2 on the SNES and I certainly enjoyed it. At the time Street Fighter was a cult classic, spawned a film and cultural references as well as having droves of passionate fans. But it was never a game I played very often, or for very long, I far preferred games like Super Mario Bros. 3, A Link to the Past or Super Metroid. The fighting game genre just isn’t one I enjoy very much.

Thursday, August 8

Singapore: Memories Versus Reality

Photo stolen from kindly Yee Lee Wong
In an earlier post I mentioned I had an idolised view of Singapore. This fantasy was generated from visits to Singapore, which I experienced as a child. While I can’t say I idolise Singapore any more, I still retain the memories and experiences of why I felt that way in the first place.

One such memory I have is when I was around 8 years old. It’s a hot and humid day, the sky is clear, I had just left a play park. The scenery is green, filled with luscious plants, contrasting the grey roads and pavements. I am walking parallel to a drainage ditch, babbling with flowing water. The air is still and quiet. I'm feeling euphoric and free, I'm wondering at the simple and organic beauty. In a way I feel at home, this is were I belong. In another memory I remember very little. I'm in my grand parents house watching Biker Mice From Mars on a tiny television. I feel safe and secure.

I remember very little from when I was younger, but none the less, the feeling still remained; Singapore was a wondrous place. So when I got off the plane in June 2013, after being away for years, part of me still expected and hoped Singapore would be like that.