Staycation in Chinatown, Singapore

Everyone needs pampering once in a while. Since I started my new job last month, I had been working till late almost every day and was really looking forward to the SG50 National Day long weekend. Since I was unable to fly off for a short getaway, the next best thing was to do what Singaporeans love best – staycation.
The lovely thing about a staycation is learning how to be a tourist in your own backyard and rediscovering your own city. For these reasons, we decided to check out the newly opened Thai restaurant in Telok Ayer Street followed by an overnight stay at Hotel 1929.
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Recently opened in late July 2015, Cha Thai is the second concept restaurant by Loaves Me Group. Cha Thai simply means Thai tea, you know, the popular sweetened iced tea (teh peng) that we would usually buy from a cafe or street vendor in Bangkok. I don’t know why the owners named the restaurant as such but I am guessing they want to introduce a fusion concept of toast & tea to us. Think of it as Toast Box, or Ya Kun but Thai style – the take-away counter forms only one part of the restaurant.
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But today I want to share more about it’s main restaurant and it’s menu. Before I continue further, I have to remind you that this blog post is about pampering myself. So Cha Thai is considered expensive if you are comparing to Thai restaurants in Golden Mile but it definitely gives Thai Express a run for their money, cos Cha Thai offers premium Thai cuisine at an affordable price in a casual, relaxing setting.
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Creamy Crab Roll ($15) – Deep fried spring roll sticks served with crab cream sauce

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[Front] Tom Yum Soup (Thick) $28 -Thick soup base created with variety of herbs with tiger prawns, mussels, fish balls and mushrooms. [Back] Tom Yum Soup (Clear) $28 – Clear soup base herbs and basil leaves with tiger prawns, mussels, fish balls and mushroom.

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Baked Pineapple Rice ($18) – Curry spiced baked rice with chicken, pineapples, cashew nuts, sweet pepper bells, and raisins

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[Left] Steam Giant Sea Bass Fillet ($35) – Ocean seabass fillet boneless steamed with chili, garlic, herbs and lime sauce. [Drinks] Butterfly Pea Juice and Lemongrass Tea (both at $3.90 each)

What makes me love Cha Thai is that they use premium ingredients. For our appetizer, the spring roll sticks, it is served with real crab meat inside the cream sauce. For soup, I recommend the Clear Tom Yum Soup as it is lighter in content comparing to the Thick Soup, but equally spicy. Chopped Chinese sausage was topped onto the Pineapple rice, making it an perfect fragrant combination. The steamed Sea Bass was fresh and without the ‘fishy smell’. To round it off, we ordered the toast cubes. Try the Cha Thai version of kaya (coco jam), a refreshing taste to pair with the golden brown toast cubes.

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Cha Thai Toast ($8) – Golden brown toasted cubes with choice of pandan or Cha Thai (Thai tea) flavor

After our meal, we took a 10-minute walk from Telok Ayer Street to Hotel 1929 in Keong Saik Road via New Bridge Road. The walk was also a good way for us to burn off some fats and digest our food. It’s been a while since I stayed at a boutique hotel, the last time was in Malacca.
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Hotel 1929 is a boutique hotel in Singapore’s Chinatown. Hotel 1929 beckons with a whimsical mix of old world architecture and a chic interior. The boutique hotel consists of five conservation shop-houses built in 1929, and features 32 individually designed rooms decked in a mix of classic designer and retro vintage furniture. 1929 is conveniently located along the fringe of Chinatown, a 5 minute walk from Outram Park MRT Station.

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After check-in, we proceed to head up to the top floor. We walked past through the narrow corridor along the 4th storey  and were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by our small suite. At the first glance, it looked like a pigeon hole and reminded me of some hotels in Hong Kong that I had stayed at before. After the rain had stopped, we discovered the roof top terrace that was part of the Terrace Suite, it provided a great hang out spot for four of us.
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The indoor blue mosaic-tiled shower room is fairly small too. There is no partition between shower area and toilet bowl so be careful not to wet your toilet seat. But what the guestrooms lack in size, they make up for in amenities. There is premium coffee-making machine with Nespresso capsules, handy smartphone (I didn’t get a chance to test it out), outdoor bath tub, mini bar with coke and juices. If you consider the terrace area, it’s really comfortable initmate retreat.
We spent a lot time and fun, taking turns on the rocking chair. Overall Hotell 1929 is a designer concept with artsy decor centered around different types of chairs. For example, there were various vintage barber chairs in the lobby, and special theme for every room.
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For dinner, we went for the set dinner at Restaurant Ember. Priced at $88++ per person, it might seemed expensive but the 4-course dinner was definitely worth every dollar for the experience. I chose to add on the wine pairing at $30++ for delightful dinner.
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The bread is freshly baked. It’s so delicious that we asked for a second helping.

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1st Appetizer – Carpaccio of Hokkaido Scallops, Daikon, Arugula, Ginger & Rice Water Vinaigrette

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2nd Course – Pan-seared Foie Gras, Slow-cooked Eggs, Unagi & Truffle Sauce

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Main Course – 60-hour Slow-cooked Angus Short Ribs, Burnt Onion Puree, Tomato Confit & Beef jus

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Dessert – Champagne Jelly, Macerated Stawberries & Yogurt Sorbet

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Complimentary dessert from Restaurant Ember

After dinner, we took a walk around the neighbourhood. Located at the uptown part of Chinatown, the hotel is away from the usual crowd. During the day it is an area where small business and offices are located. When night falls, the mixture of cafes and eateries come to live.

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In the morning, I tried bathing at the outdoor shower. Honestly, it can be a very liberating experience, something for you to check off your bucket list. But the weather was not in my favour, the sky soon turned dark and there was light rain. The curtains kept flying – either sticking onto my soapy back or semi-exposed my naked butt. I really won’t recommend to use it during a windy day but people with outdoorsy fetish or exhibitionist will definitely enjoy it.
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After showering, we went downstairs for breakfast. For breakfast, Restaurant Ember serves breakfast set with choice of scramble, soft/hard boiled or sunny side up eggs. Every set comes with baked potato, beans, bacon and sausage. We help ourselves to the table of toasts, croissants, fruits, cereal and porridge. The croissants were very yummy even though we didn’t toast it. After we were done with our meal, the staff served us yogurt while we were enjoying some fruits.
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Overall, Hotel 1929 is an awesome experience for a 1 or 2 nights stay. I wish we have more time to enjoy the alfresco area as it was raining when we were staying there. I would definitely recommended it for tourists and local staycations. One thing to note is that there is no swimming pool and gym at Hotel 1929 but hotel guests can use the facilities at New Majestic Hotel at Bukit Pasoh Road just further down.
Hotel 1929 is located at 50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089154 (nearest MRT station: Outram Park – NE3/EW16). Visit their website for more information and reservation.
Cha Thai is located at 80 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 048466 (nearest MRT station: Downtown – DT17). Visit their Facebook page for more information or call 6636 3696 to make a reservation. Open daily from 8am to 10pm.
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Must-go Places to Eat in KL – Recommended by a Smart Local

Singaporeans are no stranger to Malaysia’s capital city. From hi-tea to buffet, gourmet burger joint to street food, Kuala Lumpur (or KL as it’s commonly called) has it all. On my recent trips to visit a friend who stays in Jalan Ampang, I’m rediscovering the city through my stomach and beginning to fall in love with it once again. Here are some of our favorite food places to visit in KL.

[Read on till the end or scroll down all the way to read about my misadventure in KL and learn how to avoid tourist trap at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).]

1. My Burger Lab 

I confess that I am not a burger person. In my 20-plus years of memory, burgers are junk food to me. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the goodness of premium ground beef patty sandwiched between two slices of charcoal bun. My Burger Lab is the latest craze in KL’s gourmet burger industry. In my friend’s words, “If you haven’t been to My Burger Lab, you haven’t been to KL. It’s beter than the burger I had at Four Seasons Hotel in New York!”

Started in 2012, My Burger Lab currently has two outlets. When we arrived at the newer outlet at Taman OUG around 8pm, it was almost full house. My friend waited in line for 15-20 minutes before they could take our orders. While he was waiting, my eyes were scouting for a table for us. The interior decoration was minimalist with Ikea-style lighting hanging from the ceiling, but everyone seemed to be having a good time digging in and busy eating. Sometimes, this place sold out their patties by 9pm.

We had The Hulk burger – ground beef patty, fried avocado, green salsa sauce, fried egg at RM18.50 each. The Hulk set meal with fries and a drink is at Rm24.50. I couldn’t believe my friend upsized my big burger meal by ordering an extra beef patty (RM5.50) for me. According to my friend, the fries are hand-cut and fried in olive oil. The dinner crowd usually starts from 5pm onwards till closing. The other outlet at Petaling Jaya is much more crowded than this OUG outlet.

I stared hard at the strange combination of seaweed sauce, fried cheddar cheese, fried avocado with the ground beef patty. I shut my eyes and sank my teeth into the charcoal burger. Without a doubt, it was one of the best I had ever tried, probably better than Fergburger in Queenstown, New Zealand. But you really have to be a burger lover to soak in all the extra calories. Sign up for their VIP card and enjoy 15% discount on purchases. Burgers starts from RM 11 onwards, chicken and vegetarian opinion are available. And yes, they are Muslim-friendly too.

My Burger Lab (OUG Lab) is located at 8, Jalan Awan Hijau, 58200, Kuala Lumpur. The other outlet (Seapark Lab) is located 4, Jalan 21/22, 46300, Petaling Jaya. Visit their Facebook or website MyBurgerLab.com for more information. You can also spy cam and check the crowd-situation before heading down.

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2. Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang (Imbi Market) Dewan Bandaeaya Kuala Lumpur 

In my humble opinion, the best things to eat in KL is not just colonial style western burger but the open-air hawker places in town. A short drive from Jalan Ampang is the popular place in town for lunch among the locals.

Unfortunately, like the Lavender Food Court in Singapore, this heritage hawker place is making way for commercial development. In its place, Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) will take over. I always think that only in a land scare country like Singapore will face such problem, but looks like our neighbour up north is also losing food heritage thanks to modernisation.

That afternoon, I slurped up the Wanton Mee with much gusto. They used cabbage instead of spinach. And the char siew was done just right – tender yet tasty. As usual, my friend loved to put extra meat in my order. I also tried the Curry Laksa Noodle from the same stall while he ate his special order of Veg & Chicken Kway Teow. Ah Weng Koh’s Hainan Tea is highly recommended to complement the meal, it’s blended with coffee power, and tastes like Yuanyang (mixture of coffee & tea).

 Pasar Bukit Bintang, otherwise known as Imbi Market is located at Jalan Melati, 55100 Kuala Lumpur. Here is a Google Map of its location. Hurry and go before the rustic place is demolished!

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3. Restoran Bak Kut Teh Yik See Ho

En route to Changi Airport, when the taxi driver found out that I was going to KL, he said to me, “When you are in KL, remember to eat their Bak Kut Teh, they are the best in Malaysia. Very famous, every time uncle goes there, sure will eat one.” Thanks to his heads up, I asked my friend to bring me to his favorite venue for the regular meat-bone-tea (Bak Kut Teh) fix.

Our big bowl of Bak Kut Teh came in a clay pot, topped with fried beancurd skin, vegetables and tender pork. I scooped a mouthful of soup and savored the awesomeness. It tasted almost as good as the famous Yu Kee Bak Kut Teh I had in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah many years ago.

A bowl of Bak Kut Teh starts from RM8.00. We had the Bak Kut Teh in Claypot at RM18.oo, and ordered various side dishes to complement it. One of my favorite ways of eating Bak Kut Teh is to drink the soup, bite off the meat, dip and soak Youtiao (You Zha Gui) into the soup to finish off the broth.

Restoran Bak Kut Teh Yik See Ho is located at No. 20, Jalan Landak, off Jalan Pasar, Kuala Lumpur. For enquiries, please call Calvin Wong at +601 2789 2293. Opening hours from 12pm to 1am, closed on Monday. 

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4. Restoran Win Heng Seng (Hokkien Mee)

I used to patronize Jalan Alor for hawker food when I stayed around Jalan Bukit Bintang area. But recently I discovered this coffeeshop that served yummy zhi char near the shopping belt of KL. I love it so much that I requested for my friend to bring me there again on another evening before watching movie at Berjaya Times Square.

We ate the Hokkien Mee and shared a plate of Braised Yee Mee together with two other friends. 1 person serving is priced at only RM8.50 and two-person sharing portion starts from RM16.00. We also ordered the barbecued chicken wings from across the street to complement our dinner. Do come early to secure a seat for dinner. I also heard that their fish-skin wonton noodle soup and egg tarts are very popular items for breakfast and lunch.

Restoran Win Heng Seng is located at 183 Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur. It is at the cross-road corner of Jalan Barat and Jalan Imbi, opposite Honda showroom, right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Walking distance from Pavilion shopping mall and Berjaya Times Square.

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5. Alexis Bistro & Wine Bar

Looking for a place to chill or a dessert venue? Alexis Bistro & Wine Bar (Ampang) located at Great Eastern Mall is my recommendation. Known for their popular weekend lunches, firewood oven pizza, weekend jazz performances showcasing local and international talents every Friday and Saturday. We headed over to Alexis Ampang on a weekday evening after our dinner to enjoy their dessert with a pot of hot tea. There’re 5 outlets (including Sino – The Bar Upstairs) spread across Kuala Lumpur. Alexis Gardens at Mid Valley City has always been the post-work out temptation for my friend.

As a dessert connoisseur, the no. 1 recommendation I have for you will be their Tiramisu – the best in town. Cognac and coffee soaked layers with the fluffiest cream topped with sweet, crunchy, caramelised pecans, served with a “bloody” puddle of strawberry sauce by the side. I kissed my diet plan good-bye as I sinked my teeth into this sinful-icious treat. Served best with a pot of lemon grass tea or a glass of dry white wine to accompany Jazz performance on a Friday or Saturday night. May it be a sweet dream for you tonight.

Alexis Ampang is located at Lot 10 & 11 Great Eastern Mall, 303 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur. Call them at +603 4260 2288 to make a reservation. Visit their website www.alexis.com.my to find out the locations of their other outlets or to view the schedule of the upcoming live performances.

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6. NOOK’s Buffet Dinner at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral

KL Sentral is indeed the main transport hub of Kuala Lumpur. As a leisure traveller, I prefer to arrive early at KL Sentral to avoid the evening rush hour jam and to enjoy a scrumptious spread of delicacies before embarking on my way to the airport. Walking into Nook at Aloft KL Sentral Hotel, I felt that I was transported to the future with its futuristic white pods and the green and white interior decoration. It was minimalistic yet chic. The green decoration reminded me of pandan leaves and kaffir lime.

Nook’s menu is created by Executive Chef Steven Seow and his team. It is a combination of local flavours and international delights, mixed with texture and freshness. Among the buffet favourites are smoked salmon, fresh prawns and mussels, charcoal-grilled satays, and the wide smorgasbord of colourful desserts made for a happy ending.

Nook at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral is located at No 5 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur 50470. Call them at +603 2723 1188 for reservation, or visit their website and Facebook for more details. Buffet dinner is from 6.30pm to 10.30pm at RM70.00 nett per adult.

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Tourist Trap Alert – Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT)

Unfortunately it’s not always a happy ending. I love KL for most of its glory but there are always people out there who are dishonest to tourists. During one of my recent visit, I was traveling back from Penang to LCCT by AirAsia. Normally I would take the shuttle bus from LCCT to KL Sentral, which cost less than RM10.

But being a late night flight, my friend and I decided to hop on to the taxi. First, there wasn’t any clear signage. When we reached the taxi queue, we were told to purchase a ticket from the counter. I searched the arrival hall, only to realise the small counter was tucked inside the arrival gate. Hence I had to run back to get my passport and back to the arrival hall to explain to the custom officer to allow me back to the arrival gate.

It didn’t help that the custom officer was showing attitude when I mentioned why couldn’t the taxi counter be outside the arrival gate. She stared at me and shouted, “What’s your problem?” Besides her horrible service attitude, the bus counter lady charged me more than RM120 for a trip for two adults with one luggage from LCCT to Jalan Ampang. According to my friend, he usually pays around RM70-80 when he takes a cab from KLIA. He told me that Jalan Ampang was a long road and the counter lady should have asked exactly where I was going, instead of charging us the maximum rate.

My two-cent worth, if possible, hop on to the shuttle bus (traveling to KL Sentral) to save some cash, then take a taxi or train from KL Sentral and transfer to your hotel. Otherwise, be clear to mention where you are going, cos there are always dishonest people in this world who are out there to cheat tourists. Stay smart!

Penang Food Trail: Best Places to Eat as Recommended by Locals

I’m proud to be a Singaporean and I hate to admit defeated to our cousin from The Straits Settlement – Penang has once again been voted as the no. 1 haven for street food in Asia. Lonely Planet names Penang the top culinary spot for 2014. Fellow foodies embarked on this gastronomical journey with me as I explore Pulau Pinang with my tummy.

This blog post will be a recollection of my recent trip to the island, covering the popular Penang street food – Chicken Rice, Char Kway Teow, Assam Laksa, Chee Cheong Fun, Hokkien Mee, as well as cool cafes and restaurants around Georgetown and near Gurney Drive.

I was with my friend, a Malaysian who grew up in Penang. He had spent years working overseas and we’re on this trip to visit his parents and to re-discover Penang. The best way to travel Penang is self-drive. We got our car from Big Thumb car rental. The next best option would be to rent bicycles. But Penang, being much bigger than Malacca, means that you can only cover limited places on two wheels. 

1. Fatty Loh Chicken Rice (21 Jalan Fettes, opposite Kuil Sri Sakthi Vinayagar Hindu temple)

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It was lunch time and we’re on the hunt for food when we came across Fatty Loh’s  chicken rice shop. My friend recommended it since it was a famous spot for tourist. To be honest, I never thought that Penang could be famous for chicken rice. And I wasn’t too wrong about it. We ordered a plate of Steamed Chicken (for 2 pax), BBQ Pork  (char siew as commonly called in Singapore), a bowl of Peanut & Pork Soup and 2 cups of Longgan Tangkuah (longan & winter melon) drink for RM22. We were also served a complimentary small plate of fried pork chop.

The food was good but not excellent. I was reading this Time Out review and realised that if I would have ordered their roasted chicken with rice, I would probably have given them more points. What I loved was the feeling of dining in a museum at Fatty Loh’s. The place was like a warehouse of antiques and artifacts.

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2. Kedai Kopi Sin Hwa (opposite Pulau Tikus police station in Burma Road)

This was my 3rd trip to Penang, and it turned out to be a food hunt every time. After our meal at Fatty Loh’s, my friend drove us to his favorite Assam Laksa stall. Guess what, this coffeeshop even have their own Facebook page! As we had just finished eating at Fatty Loh’s, we ordered the Assam Laksa without noodles. According to a Malaysia food website, this Assam Laksa is somewhat different in taste as it’s cooked with tamarind juice instead of tamarind peels. We ordered one large bowl and one small bowl and it costed RM8.50. This coffeeshop is also well-known for their Char Kway Teow.

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3. Kafe Goodall (opposite Penang Chinese Girls’ School)

We headed back to our hotel for a short rest before driving to Kafe Goodall for dinner. There are a few Goodall Food Court, we went to the one opposite the famous Penang Chinese Girls’ School. What is highly recommend is the Chicken Satay. Unlike the ones I tried in Singapore, this one was specially tender and the chicken bits were chunkier. We also had Char Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee and Char Hor Fun to share among four of us. Something unique about the Hokkien Mee and Char Hor Fun (we simply called it Hor Fun in Singapore) is that they mixed bee hoon (rice vermicelli) with the noodles. Naturally the bee hoon would soaked up the gravy making the taste more wholesome.

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4. Taman Emas Kopitiam (opposite Penang Chinese Girls’ School)

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Here’s a secret you need to know – Penangites don’t eat lunch. Most street food places are open for business only at night. And you can also find a lot of good places for breakfast. But when it comes to noon, a lot of food places are closed. A stone throw away from Kafe Goodall is Taman Emas Kopitiam, this place closes on Monday so please plan your itinerary properly. The Assam Laksa here is famous and extremely popular on weekends. It has also won northern Malaysia best hawker award in 2011.

The broth is made from fresh fish meat blended into the assam soup. Remember to order the popiah to complement the broth. The locals will dip the popiah into the broth. In my opinion, this is the best Assam Laksa I had tried in Penang, it was better than the famous Assam Laksa at the foothill of Kek Lok Si temple. We also managed to try the Char Kway Teow and Chee Cheong Fun there. The Chee Cheong Fun was really soft and it simply melted in my mouth. I gave a double thumbs up for this.

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5. Chinahouse (153 & 155 Beach Street and 183B Victoria Street)

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Enter from Beach St and gain immediate access to The Canteen – an inviting artsy warehouse that holds live music from indie stars from Thursday to Sunday

I wonder why I haven’t been to this place earlier. Chinahouse is one of those places whose charms captivate you to keep beckoning back for more. Lonely Planet said it’s Penang’s best.. Cake-tastic cafe, restaurant and bar complex spanning a whole block. Chinahouse is a mammoth of 3 heritage buildings situated right in the middle of the core zone of Georgetown. Enter from either Beach Street or Victoria Street and you will be greeted with 14 unique spaces comprising of souvenir shop, cafe, restaurant, art gallery, live music and bakery all round into one.

This longest cafe in Penang is the perfect example of how Georgetown has moved on with time. Chinahouse is modeled on a lane way concept with one path from Beach Street to Victoria Street, while some outlets go off this lane, the lane passes through others. This juxtaposed cafe provided free wifi and paper with crayons for you to doodle on the table tops. Some of the artworks by patrons turn into display in their street gallery.

We’re there the after diner night before and we love it so much that we returned the next day for afternoon. I had a pot of Lemon Ginger Mint tea (RM12) and my friend tried their Blueberry Mango Coconut Smoothies. The place gets crowded every night, so for better service, come when there’s daylight.

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By day, The Canteen serves the best Bento Box, a mix of Western and Asian flavours – a rice-based menu with tasty mains and morsels. Don’t miss out on Comedy Night every first Thursday night of the month!

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On Saturday, the bakery (on the left) sells an average of 450 slices of cake. The bakery is 10 chefs-strong, and they have to try out 10 new recipes a week (if they don’t try new recipes a week, they get fired).

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Pardon my ridiculous expression as I’m mesmerized by this poolside dining concept of the Courtyard Cafe. Order and pay from the different cafes / restaurants inside and bring your food out to enjoy the breeze under these lucky trees.

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Vine and Single offers a tasting of 8 different red wines by the glass. The best cocktails in town at Mr. B’s Martini Bar – the popular choices are mojitos, margaritas and long island teas.

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Reading Room offers a space for talk-fest with friends. Or simply grab the books from the shelves for a quiet afternoon. The owners also encourage you to “accidentally-on-purpose” leave your books behind to become inspiration for others.

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Chinahouse aims to be an arts platform supported by interesting other concepts. Besides Art Spaces in 153 & 155 Beach Street, and performance at The Canteen, feel free to art-jam on their table tops.

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Baked fresh daily – Chef Jo Jie and her team of 10 talented bakers serve up delicious cakes, brownies, tortes, slices, biscuits, breads and pies to suit any craving.

6. Macalister Mansion (228 Macalister Road)

Located along the historic Macalister Road and designed around the idea of an old English Mansion, this beautifully restored boutique hotel offers 8 unique rooms for comfort accommodation. Even if you’re not staying there, Macalister Mansion offers 5 venues to relax and unwind. We checked-in to The Living Room for afternoon tea. The afternoon tea set for 2 with TWG tea costs only RM69, available from 3-6pm.

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7. Gurney Paragon & Plaza Gurney (along Persiaran Gurney / Gurney Drive)

Built around and inspired by the former St. Joseph’s Novitiate, the relatively new mall along the promenade features stylish restaurants and cafes, and a good place for shopping.  We spent our afternoon indulging sinful sweets like the Famous French Toast (RM16.80), Vanilla Souffle (RM16.80), Matcha Parfait (RM16.80) with Matcha Latte (RM10.80) and hot tea at Miam Miam. It’s a good dessert place but if you prefer coffee, then head over to Ben’s which in also located within St Jo’s.

I was craving for contemporary Peranakan food and my friend suggested heading over to Plaza Gurney’s Basement 1 for The Little Nyonya Cuisine. Previously I had been to The Little Nyonya restaurant located at Queensbay Mall, and being rushed for time, we ordered two sets of Nasi Lemak Special (RM17.60 each) and Nyanya Curry Chicken (RM15) for sharing. The food is good if you’re not a fussy eater who likes home-cooked style Peranakan food.

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8. Auntie Gaik Lean’s (No. 1 Bishop Street, Georgetown)

For dinner, my friend brought us to Auntie Gaik Lean’s old school eatery. This quintessential decorated restaurant is the best kept foodie secret for Peranakan cuisine. It’s a pity that Auntie Gaik Lean is too busy stirring the woks in the kitchen and there was no official website or Facebook. This place relies on the age old word-of-mouth marketing and the various media exposures to spread the word, but it is always full house on weekends.

Located right in the core zone of Georgetown, Auntie Gaik Lean explained to us that Penang’s Peranakan food is very different from Malacca, as the latter is influenced heavily by the Portuguese culture. Having been to Nancy’s Kitchen in Melaka, I would definitely give Auntie Gaik Lean double thumbs up.

On our table top that night was Nyonya Chicken Rendang (RM25) – dry curry chicken with coconut milk, Gulai Tumis (depending on market price) – tamarind fish curry served with ladies fingers, Jiew Hu Char (RM22/32) – traditional nyonya mixed julienne vegetables & shredded dried cuttle fish serve with lettuce. My favorite dish would be Jiew Hu Char. Scoop a spoonful of shredded dried cuttle fish onto the lettuce and wrap it be like a spring roll – it’s crisp, fragrant, and simply delicious.

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What are some of your favorite places for food or afternoon tea in Penang? Please share and comment below to let me know. Follow my Twitter and Instagram @MalcolmSunny for more travel and food reviews. 

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Splurge or Save: 6 Ways to Spend the Ultimate Weekend in Singapore

It’s official, Singapore overtakes Tokyo and is now the world’s most expensive city to live in, according to a report by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). These days, weekends are no longer fun anymore. A weekend trip out with your partner / friends / family can easily cost more than S$100 per person. I hunt down the latest buzz for you to enjoy at a dime, but wait, there’re also options for special treats!

Weekend is the best day of the week for sleeping in. Usually I will spend Saturday hanging out with friends and keep my Sunday to laze around. After all, it definitely cost less to enjoy beer at home than a meal outside. (Read on to find out how to win FREE F&B vouchers GIVEAWAY!)

Suggested Itinerary / Recommended Program

1. Brunch @ MEDZ 

There’s a new brunch in town packed with culturally diverse flavours happening at MEDZ  – the casual dining restaurant for Mediterranean food. Recently launched on 22 February, I ditched my nasi lemak and kaya toast to choose from the wide range of cuisines from France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

SAVE: Experience one of the largest range of brunch items with prices from just $12.90 to $14.90. All brunch items come with free coffee. Go in a group of 5-6 and order 4-5 items for sharing. Remember to leave some room for the delightful dessert – The Berry Lust Pancake!

Le Jolly Monsieur (French) - Ham, bacon, Bechemel sauce, cheese, scramble egg & pork bratwurst ($13.90)

Le Jolly Monsieur (French) – Ham, bacon, Bechemel sauce, cheese, scramble egg & pork bratwurst ($13.90)

Stacked Brunch Torte (Italian) - Puff pastry, eggs, ham, mushroom, spinach, cheese & bell pepper ($14.90)

Stacked Brunch Torte (Italian) – Puff pastry, eggs, ham, mushroom, spinach, cheese & bell pepper ($14.90)

Bouncy Benedict (MEDZ style) - Home-cured salmon, baked tomato, rosti potato, English muffin & salad ($14.90)

Bouncy Benedict (MEDZ style) – Home-cured salmon, baked tomato, rosti potato, English muffin & salad ($14.90)

Toasty Tortilla (Spanish) - Scrambled egg, stewed beans with chorizo & Brioche toast ($14.90)

Toasty Tortilla (Spanish) – Scrambled egg, stewed beans with chorizo & Brioche toast ($14.90)

Poseidon's Wrap (Greek) - Prawn, fish, squid, tomato, lettuce, scramble egg, tzatziki & Greek salad ($14.90)

Poseidon’s Wrap (Greek) – Prawn, fish, squid, tomato, lettuce, scramble egg, tzatziki & Greek salad ($14.90)

A Berry Pancake Gala (dessert) - Fresh berries, summer berries, topping cream ($12.90)

A Berry Pancake Gala (dessert) – Fresh berries, summer berries, topping cream ($12.90)

Locations: MEDZ currently has two locations – Orchard Central #B2-01 to 03 / #B2-30 to 43, and Millenia Walk #01-46/47/55/56. Brunch available from 11am onwards at Orchard Central, and from 11.30am onwards at Millenia Walk out. For more information, check out their Facebook.

2. Teo Heng KTV Studio

After a hearty meal, hop on to the MRT and alight at Bras Basah station (Circle Line) or Dhoby Ghaut station (North-South / North-east Line) . A stone throw away is Teo Heng KTV Studio where you can sing your heart out without bursting the seams. For those who are not aware, this budget karaoke studio has a new outlet at Rendezvous Hotel.

SAVE: Happy Hours start from 12pm to 7pm. Medium size room costs only $10 per hour, can accommodate up to 5-6 persons. If you and 4 of your friends sing for 3 hours, that’s only $6 per person! It’s a no-frills concept but drinks available at $1 onwards.

I had a good 3-hour of singing with my UniSIM school mates after our exams

I had a good 3-hour of singing with my UniSIM school mates after our exams

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Photo credit: http://michellelujj.com

Location: Teo Heng KTV studio is located at 9 Bras Basah Road, Rendezvous Hotel Gallery #02-03. Remember to call the outlet at 6338 0603 to make reservations at least 1-2 weeks in advance. They have other outlets spread across the island, check out their website for more information.

3. Platinum Movie Suite @ The Cathay

If you croak like a frog or just tired from singing, take a walk down Orchard Road to The Cathay. Golden Village has its version of Gold Class and Cathay Cineplexes has its Platinum Movie Suite. I was fortunate to enjoy the experience as my friend, Min Lee had a free pair of tickets to RoboCop (2014) from her boss. We were treated to spacious airline first class style couch with butler service and a welcome drink. The butler on duty would tuck us in a comfortable duvet before the start of the movie.

SPLURGE:  This is for one of those special occasions. Perhaps it’s your first date, anniversary or celebration, get a pair of platinum movie ticket at $28 each. Dining & Movie Experience package is at $76 per person (Priority Cardholder: $69). For the budget conscious, there is the 1-for-1 student deal every Monday & Tuesday for screen before 6pm, and discount on popcorn and F&B menu.

Image from Popspoken.com

Image from Popspoken.com

Locations: Cathay Platinum Movie Suites are located at The Cathay, level 5 (2 Handy Road), Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, level 4 (8 Grange Road) and JEM, level 5 (50 Jurong Gateway Road). Visit their website for more information.

4. Ramen Kagetsu Arashi 

After movie at The Cathay, go down Basement 1 for a mouthwatering ramen treat to end the day! Ranked one of Japan’s top 3 ramen chains with more than 290 outlets worldwide, within 6 months, Ramen Kagetsu Arashi has already opened 3 outlets in Singapore. My personal recommendations are their gyoza and the two new exclusive dishes – Ginjiro ramen and Itameshi dry curry rice.

SAVE: Gourmet ramen and tasty curry rice can be affortable. A bowl of Ginjiro ramen is priced at only $13.90 (definitely tastier than any of Ramen Champion’s ramen) and Itameshi Dry Curry Rice, priced at $12.90, gives Pepper Lunch a run for its money. Ramen Kagetsu Arashi provides freshly crushed garlic, special in-house seasoned chives (prepared daily), specially imported black pepper and their chef’s secret recipe soy sauce to accompany your meal.

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Complement the flavours by adding freshly crushed garlic using the unique garlic press tool provided

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I added seasoned chives and a dash black pepper to accentuate the flavours of the signature soup base

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Even those who cannot take spicy food will like the brand new dry curry rice

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No ramen meal is complete without gyoza (5-pc for $6.00)

Locations: Choose from 3 locations – The Cathay #B1-01/02/03, The Star Vista #01-41, or Tampines 1 #02-09/10. Their Facebook page contains more information on contact number and opening hours.

Off the beaten track – Hidden Cafes in the heartland

If a day in town is not your thing, why not try these quiet corners for cafe in Singapore? Forget about heading to shopping malls, I have enough of Starbucks and ToastBox. Here are 2 of my personal choice when it comes to the pastries, moreover, you don’t have to look far as they are probably your neighbourhood.

5. The Audacious Cakery 

Everton Park is slowly evolving into an enclave of vibrant food scene with the addition of The Audacious Cakery being the new kid on the block. Located a short walk away from Outram MRT station, this cozy, vintage theme cafe is hidden from the main road. Though a small seating area for about 10 persons, this unique cakery offers mini cakes, tarts, cupcakes and macarons. Some of my favorites include Lemon Meringue Tart and the Matcha (green tea) Cupcake.

SPLURGE: Come to The Audacious Cakery because it offers a selection of alcohol-infused pastries. I confessed I’m alcoholic hence my choice of these premium cakes. I simply can’t get enough of their Foret Noir ($9.80) and Monet ($9.80) cakes. Two distinctively flavours – one with Kirsh soaked cherries and Kirsh Cream on a dark Vairhona chocolate genoise, and the other contains orange mousse with champagne, served with a tart raspberry compote on a Cointreau soaked sponge studded with red currants.

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Foret Noir (Black Forest) – $9.80 for the petit gateau servers 1-2 persons, warning it’s alcoholic

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Quintessential vintage style environment greets you as you walk into The Audacious Cakery

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Mini cakes start from $6.80 to $9.80 each. Cupcakes at $3.50 each (addition $1.00 for alcoholic cupcakes – Irish Cream, White Russian and Strawberry Daiquiri)

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Order your cuppa to enjoy with the delectable tarts from $5.80 to $8.80 each

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I had a good time with Sophie and Mariana. Alcoholic pastry treats are best enjoyed with your Down Under buddies.

Location: The Audacious Cakery is located at 2 Everton Park, #01-61, Singapore 081002. Opening hours is from 8am to 7pm (closed on Sunday & public holidays). For more information, please visit their website or Facebook.

6. fRoZ Bakery

If splurging on pastries burns a hole in your hole, try these treats from fRoZ Bakery. I guarantee that you will soon be burning calories due to these irresistible muffins, cheesecakes and brownies at affordable prices.  Originally located at 128 Bedok North Street 2, fRoZ Bakery made a business decision to relocate. It’s now located near Dunman Secondary School and All Saints Home. I managed to chance upon it while attending Mr Baey Yam Keng’s monthly Kopi Talk.  Check out the review by Priscilla (Pingerrain.com) and Michelle (Michhysaurous)

SAVE: Muffins are priced at $1.30 each, brownies at $1.70 per piece and miniature cheesecake from $3.50 onwards. My all-time favorite is the Banana Walnut Muffin (only $1.30), consumed when freshly baked is a heavenly treat. Now they also have premium flavour selection muffins at $1.50 each. They have several set promotions like 6-piece Value Box consisting of 2 muffins, 2 brownies and 2 mini cheesecake at only $10.80 (usual price $14.00). Take your time and have your choice.

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12 different flavours to choose from. A box of 6 muffins at $6.80. Ala carte at $1.30 per piece. Premium flavours available at additional $0.20 per piece.

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6-piece Value Box with 2 muffins, 2 cheesecakes and 2 brownies at only $10.80. Let’s call for a tea party!

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Food styling by http://www.pingerrain.com

Location: fRoZ Bakery is tucked in a corner on the eastern shore of the island at Blk 476, Tampines Street 44, #01-175B, Singapore 520476. For details, please visit their Facebook page or website. Opens daily from 9am, except every Thursday (closed).

FREE food vouchers for GIVEAWAY!

I’m doing a Rafflecopter giveaway (10 sets of $25 vouchers to be given away), simply click on the link and follow the instructions.

1. Follow @MalcolmSunny on Twitter

2. Comment on any of my blog posts

3. Follow @MalcolmSunny on Instagram

Giveaway ends on 31 March 2014. Applicable for only residents in Singapore. Good luck! 

“Save time, pay less, travel more – Get cheaper air tickets and hotel rooms with Wego.com“.

Ways to Reduce Waste: Action for Earth – Global Youth Summit

Last month, I was fortunate enough to be invited by Hemispheres Foundation to the inaugural Actions for Earth – Global Youth Summit 2014. Although gone are my days as Young Environment Envoy with the National Environment Agency and Young ChangeMakers with National Youth Council, my attendance at  the closing ceremony had sparkled off my spirit of environment protection and youth activism once again.

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Held on 15-18 January 2014, the theme for the Global Youth Summit  was “Take Action for Earth, Waste No”. I’m highly impressed by the turn out with close to 450 participants from more than 65 institutions in 13 countries. Apart from Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia sent the most delegates. And there were even participants from Oman present at the youth camp.

Environmental youth activists aged 12 to 21 years old were given an intensive four-day programme with field trips to Singapore’s leading facilities – NEWater plant, Marina Barrage, Semakau Landfill and Incineration Plant.

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The highlight of the Summit was the announcement of the prize winners. Attended by Guest-of-Honour, Member of Parliament, Tampines GRC & Chairman of MCCY Government Parliamentary Committee, Mr Baey Yam Keng.  The top prize in the senior category of City Developments Limited (CDL) – Actions for Earth Award goes to the team “Once Upon A Cow” from Vietnam.

Team leader 18-year-old Dang Minh Hang’s proposal to use empty milk cartons to repair leaking roofs in Vietnam won the heart of the judges for being practical and innovative solution to the problems of overflowing landfills and leaking roofs long endured by the poor living in her country’s rural areas.

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Most roofs in rural Vietnam are made from non-durable materials such as zinc, alabaster slabs or attap. Tetra Pak packaging has an aluminum coating, being waterproof, makes it the best solution for patching leaking roofs.

The next Action for Earth – Global Youth Summit is planned to be held in August 2014. Interested youth activists and schools may contact Hemispheres Foundation for more information.

Passionate youths committed to the goal of sustainable development in their institutional and personal capacities, may contact National Environment Agency (NEA) to find out more about the Youth Environment Envoys (YEEs) programme.

The Young ChangeMakers (YCM) grant supports youth-initiated projects that benefit the Singapore community and society. It also helps to empower youth as decision makers to evaluate projects and mentor project applicants. Find out how you can take actions today, here.

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Cat Cafe Singapore Review: Neko no Niwa

Since it’s opening in December 2013, Neko no Niwa or popularly known as Cat Café Singapore, has attracted a lot of buzz. Curiosity kills the cat, which is why we decided to venture for feline therapy on a weekday night.

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Centrally located in downtown Singapore along Boat Quay stretch facing the river, the cafe has a long list of bookings (especially on weekends) and usually not possible for walk-ins. My advise is to make reservation at least two weeks prior and go on a weekday evening.

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The cafe is divided into two areas – one for food and drinks, the other is a lounge area to interact with the cats. There is  a cover charge or as they called it – a “cuddle fee” of $12 for the first hour. Subsequent charge is at $5 for every 30 minutes.

According to their website, they have to impose the rate.. “to keep our cats happy and healthy, a time-based fee will be charged to cover the cost of their lodging, regular grooming and medical. Some cats take time to warm up to people and therefore a minimum stay of 1 hour is necessary to fully appreciate the environment we have created.”

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When you enter Neko no Niwa, the staff will direct you to sterilise your hands. After which, they will pass you a guide book  follow by a short briefing. Basically they will highlight to you the 6 main rules, which are: No pulling of cat’s tail, No waking up of sleeping cats, No holding or hugging of cats, No flash photography, No cats are allowed to drink from your cup, No loud chats.

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For me personally, there wasn’t much opportunities for interactive with the cats. The cats there don’t like to be petted. There is a staff around who will warn you not to get too close to take photographs in case cats scratch you. I feel that they focus too much on safety and there’s the ‘Big Brother’ mentality that doesn’t treat us as mature adults that know how to handle cats. It’s not a bad thing though ‘cos Singaporeans tend to be difficult customers who complaints a lot.

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My friend, Ming Li shared their experience at two cat cafes in Taipei, “Both locations are easily accessible, about 25 minutes train ride from Taipei central follow by 5 min walk from the train station.” One cafe has no cover charge, just need to pay for drinks starting from $4 or select from the meals available. It’s like a normal cafe where cats roam freely around. At the second cafe I visited, customers are required to purchase a drink or dessert plus an entry charge of $10. The second cafe is similiar to Neko no Niwa in the sense that  the food area is separated from the cat area.”

In contrast, there is no time limit. It’s true that cats need to get used to your human presence. Once they are comfortable, they will come to you. The cat cafes in Taiwan are also more spacious. There are few benches and no space-consuming sofa. Most importantly they have several breeds of Pedigree cats.

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My other friend, Kate who had been to cat cafes in Korea, agreed with Ming Li, and added that, “There is minimal rule, just no flash photography. There is no one there to ‘guard’ you. Customers feel at ease and relax.” Ming Li said that the Taipei ones are better because there is no time limit, more trust (as no one is there to watch over you) and patrons are allowed to hug cats.

Perhaps the cat cafe in Singapore has just been newly set up and the cats there are still not used to being petted, so the staff are more cautious and safety is always a main concern in this republic. As a paying customer, I don’t agree with the time limit rule and feel that the place is too small. But as a business, they need to make money, and retail leasing in Singapore is high, so it’s understandable. I hope that can consider a second outlet in the heartland and charge a lower rate.

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Generally, I enjoy the cosy feel of the place as if I am at the living room of a friend’s house who own cats. My two cents worth is this: Go only if you are a cat lover. But even as a cat lover, I feel that $12 for an hour is pricey, and you don’t get much interaction as the cats are either shy or aloof. I would rather spend the money on cat food to feed strays below my block.

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Neko no Niwa is located at 54A Boat Quay (level 2, river-facing side), Singapore 049843. Reservation is recommended and you can ring them at (+65) 6536 5319. Check out their website on the opening hours and their Facebook for updates.

Cuddle fee : $12 for 1st hour, $5 for subsequent 30 mins there after. No service charge for food & drinks. Cash payment only.

Alternatively, you can hug a cat with these animal welfare organisations:

Cat Welfare Society – regularly organises Adoptation where you can bring a former stray cat home

SPCA Singapore – they have a cat area there you can go in and interact with cats, for free.

Noah’s Ark Natural Animal Sanctuary (NANAS) – located in Johor, this “mini zoo” run by volunteers houses various stray and rescued animals.

Do you know of any other cat cafe to recommend? Please commend below. 🙂

“Save time, pay less, travel more – Get cheaper air tickets and hotel rooms with Wego.com“.

Facial Review: Sylvia Skin Atelier

Tucked in a corner of East Coast Road, nested atop a shophouse in the heritage neighbourhood, lies a luxe but cozy skin parlour. Take the lift to level 4 and be greeted with a lounge that represents a SOHO style living room. I was greeted by Miss Sylvia Yeo, owner of Sylvia Skin Atelier and her friendly staff.

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Sylvia has been in the skin and beauty industry as early as her late teens. Started with importing and exporting of skin care products from Japan, she also co-founded a new, self-made facial mask formula in conjunction with Hada Labo. She was a feature writer for Seventeen magazine and appeared on TV as a Celebrity Beauty Consultant for “Watsons Beauty Unveiled II” and “My Fair Ladies  小女人,大视界”.

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Recently, Sylvia Skin Atelier is partnering with Institut Esthederm from Paris to customize skin care treatment for the local market needs. Although I was initially hesitant, after all, I’m not that sort of metrosexual male who religious embarks on skin care regime. But my sensitive skin problem has been haunting me since my early 20s and it’s always a constant uphill battle for clear, smooth skin for me.

I  believe that these days skin care is not longer the exclusive rights of women. As men, we do not use make up to conceal blemish spots, I feel that all the most we need to go for facial and use good skin care to ensure our face is free of blemishes. This is especially so for us in customer service, sales and marketing whose “face” is part of good grooming habits.

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Institut Esthederm is a high-tech beauty and health brand. As the name suggests, Institut Esthederm strives to be an authority (institute) in the science of beauty (esthetique) with products targeting at promoting youthful looking skin (dermatology).  Prior to my facial treatment with Institut Esthederm, I was given a one-to-one comprehensive consultation with skin care professional at Sylvia Skin Atelier to assess my current skin condition. Unlike most salons that use a standard formula, the consultant asks about my beauty goal and advices what treatment and products I can use. At least for me, there isn’t any hard-selling which I’m thankful for.

Before first treatment

Before first treatment

After first treatment

After first treatment

After second treatment

After second treatment

After third treatment

After third treatment

Before first treatment

Before first treatment

After first treatment

After first treatment

After second treatment

After second treatment

After third treatment

After third treatment

Before first treatment: My skin is oily and I suffer from acne outbreak and redness. Being a blogger despite my busy full-time work means that often I need to work late through the night to complete articles, late nights are not good for our skin as our body needs to rejuvenate. My blemishes are focus mainly on both sides of my temple and the sides of my chin.

After second treatment: My skin is visibly better, especially my left side. You can see that it is smoother compare to my original condition.

After third treatment: Strangely I found a few pimples popping out. I was worried and rang up Sylvia who advised me that it’s part of the nature treatment process of Institut Esthederm. As I’m using the Pure Care treatment system, it helps to plunge out the toxic and hence causing the outbreak to clear the excess oil from the skin. I also notice that although I have one or two extra pimples, my skin has transformed from shiny, oily look to matte, non-oily look. Usually by noon time, my face will have a nature shine but these days my skin is less glossy.

Sylvia Skin Atelier regularly conducts skin care workshops for public to understand more about Institut Esthederm’s treatment. Here’s an upcoming session on 17 January 2014. To find out more about their exclusive partner, you can also check out Institut Esthederm’s website.

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Sylvia Skin Atelier is located at 131 East Coast Road, #04-01, Singapore 428816.

Tel: 6344 7333

Website: www.sylviaskinatelier.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SylviaSkinAtelier

Facial treatment services at Slyvia Skin Atelier starts from $220. I highly recommend the 75 minutes Sensitive Skin – Full Defence or the Acne – So Pure package.

Tiffany’s Birthday at Domino’s Pizza New Outlet – Arab Street

Thanks to Yuki Ng for initiating the gathering, I had a chance to catch up with other bloggers and share with each other the updates on our lives and blogging career while we eat da yummy Chocolate Lava Cake and celebrated Tiffany Yong‘s birthday at Domino’s Pizza latest store at Arab Street. DSC01890 Actually, it was my idea to go Domino’s Pizza for dinner, since they recently opened a new store in the city centre. With this new shop strategically located at Arab Street, people who live and/or work near the City Hall, Bugis and Lavender can get to enjoy Domino’s service and their on-going 2 Pizza Deals. DSC01894 I love Domino’s Pizza because all their items on the menu are baked not fried. We ordered the Portofino Prawn Pizza with Cheesy Crust. And the Hawaiian Paradise with Crunchy Thin Crust.  I know it sounds like a lot of calories, which is why between 6 of us, we only ordered two regular pizzas plus 1 serving of Golden Roasted Chicken (6 pieces) and BBQ wings (5 pieces). DSC01895 DSC01893 IMG_8237 It was a busy Friday day and customers kept steaming in to buy take-away and phone delivery line kept ringing. The new store doesn’t offer much seating, there was two tables for 2, one table for 4, and one table for 6. Total seating capacity is only 14. But most people either call for delivery or order take-away. Just in case you are planning to dine in, like us, it’s better to go early. DSC01891 We were fortunate to get the table for 6, but we waited for more than 15 minutes for our food and were given a coupon in compensation to exchange for a personal pan. DSC01896 Since we dined in and were still hungry after sharing 2 regular pizzas, we used the coupon to exchange for Classic Pepperoni personal pan pizza. But in order to utilize the coupon, we had to make a purchase. Being a fan of their dessert, we ordered a Chocolate Lava Cake to share. The staff at the friendly were friendly and they allowed us to store Yuki‘s homemade tarts in the kitchen. Yuki‘s tarts were the cherry on the cake. Food Blogger Michelle (Michhysaurous), Travel Blogger Priscilla (Pingerrain), Mommy Blogger Susan Wong and I were all very impressed by her baking. (Click on their names to check out the “behind the scene” Instagram and also see Michhysaurous’ Instavideo.)  DSC01897 DSC01898 DSC01892 I had a good time that night. The best way to wind down a week is to gather with pals, enjoy a hearty dinner with lots of laughter. I felt bad that our loud chat and laughter would probably have bring the house down. LOL. The only wish that I could have that night would be to hope that the new outlet wasn’t so busy and our order could have been  served faster. But the place will definitely be another great hangout place, given its proximity to town and its serene location along Arab Street. Once again, Happy Birthday Tiffany Yong! May you live long, take more wacky photos and #InstaDaily! IMG_8232 Domino’s Pizza new store is located at 146 Arab Street, next to The White Panda Massage. It’s at the junction of  Victoria Street, and near Raffles Hospital. Nearest MRT Station is Bugis. Check out www.dominos.com.sg or call 6222 6333 for Domino’s pizza delivery. 

Happy New Year!

Year 2013 ended with a bang, thanks to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay for the special arrangement to allow Michelle (Michhysaurous) and I to view the fireworks from the rooftop of Esplanade.

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Michhysaurous and I met around 7.30pm on 31 December 2013, perhaps due to the rain, Raffles City and Marina Square were packed with diners and party-goers. Thankfully we managed to find empty seats in Yoshinoya and settle for a quick dinner before meeting the organizer to collect our media passes.

When we reached Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, local band Singapore Char Siew Baos was already entertaining the Colosseum of merry-makers. The amphitheatre was full to the brim with an overflow of audience standing at the back. We managed to elbow through the crowd and find a space large enough for two of us to squeeze in. Michhysaurous loved the band’s version of What Does the Fox Say? and Roar, you can check out their catchy tunes via her Instagram.

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The other performing group, Cat Ong & Sheila De Niro sang the jazz version of popular songs such as When You Believe, You to Me Are Everything, I Will Always Love You, etc. Unfortunately, Tiffany was unable to join us that day due to road blocks. (Here’s a word of caution for next year’s countdown: please arrive at Marina Bay before 9pm.)

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At 10.30pm, we headed up to Esplanade rooftop. Orgo Bar & Lab was having a private event but we were privilege to be given the prime viewing spot as our media corner. The highlight for the night was the 8-minute long fireworks display, here’s a clip from URA:

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After the mesmerizing fireworks display, I bumped into my friend, Ron who was a staff of Esplanade. For the good of the community, he was on duty to help usher the party goers to the nearest exit. A salute to all the unsung heroes who had to work on New Year Eve to ensure that the masses got to enjoy this special joyous occasion.

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However, the journey back to the MRT station was met with lots of road blocks and detours. This was also my greatest fear when attending such mass events. To make matter worse, the security officers were not communicating with each other, we were made to go up the escalator to be told that the exit was blocked. But we managed to make it to City Hall MRT station after 30 minutes of jolting with the crowd. Thankfully the train was not as crowded as we thought it would be.

Did you manage to snap an awesome photo of the countdown festivities at Marina Bay? Send in your photo and you may win the top prize worth S$5,488 from OSIM! For more information about Marina Bay Countdown 2014 Photo Competition, check out the link here. Submission deadline is 6 January 2014 extended to 10 January 2014, so hurry and act now!

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Also remember to vote for me and to check out the coverage by the rest of the official bloggers here.

I’m going Esplanade for Countdown 2014!

Initially, I was skeptical. In fact, it took me awhile before agreeing to be one of the five official blogger ambassadors for Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2014. To be honest, I prefer spending New Year eve away from crowd but with the comfort of my bed, my sparkling Moscato and telly set.

In all true of the matter, I’m a laid-back guy and being with the big crowd gives me claustrophobia. Sometimes I see myself as a hermit, preferring to spend same major festivals like New Year at home, chilling with friends over wine.

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Esplanade is the best place to visit the fireworks and light display for Marina Bay Countdown 2014

But my exclusive invitation to preview the light installation on Sunday night at Esplanade had turned this non-believer into an evangelist. Standing the roof top of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay at 11.30pm to get a glimpse of the rehearsal of the light display for the celebration is a magical feeling. Someone must have sparkle mystical powder over those amazing lights which make me fell in love.

This 31st Dec 2013, I will be heading to Esplanade for the countdown celebration. Are you joining me?

Lead by event host, Vivien Tan, come join Cat Ong & Sheila De Niro and the Singapore Char Siew Baos as they use their powerful vocal harmonies and positive tunes to help us reflect on 2013 and usher in the new year.

Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, 7pm to 1am

7.00pm – 7.40pm: Cat Ong & Sheila De Niro

7.40pm – 8.05pm: Short Film – Beautiful Life

8.05pm – 8.45pm: Singapore Char Siew Baos

8.45pm – 9.10pm: Short Film – Beautiful Life

9.10pm – 9.50pm: Cat Ong & Sheila De Niro

9.50pm – 10.15pm: Short Film – Beautiful Life

10.15pm – 10.55pm: Singapore Char Siew Baos

10.55pm – 11.20pm: Short Film – Beautiful Life

11.20pm – 11.50pm: Singapore Char Siew Baos

11.50pm – 12.00am: Lead up to Countdown

12.00am – 12.10am: Fireworks + Music

12.10am – 1.00 am: Singapore Char Siew Baos

Programme may be subjected to change. For more information: Visit Esplanade’s page here or Marina Bay Countdown 2014 page here.

I saw a familiar name and realized that my friend, Jacob Teo is actually a Char Siew Bao! I mean part of the local band, Singapore Char Siew Baos. I hope I get a chance to catch up with him on New Year eve.

The highlight of this year’s celebration is the 40-second LED countdown display on the façade of the Ocean Financial Centre. If Time Square in New York can have their mega LED display, so can we right? After all, we are Singapore and we always can find our own way of doing an international gig in a local fashion.

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Ocean Financial Centre – the building with the red LED lights will be transformed into a large countdown timer for the celebration at Marina Bay

Warning! Please take note the road closure on 31 December 2013.

Lane Closures

Raffles Avenue, extreme left and right lane (from Temasek Avenue Junction to Esplanade Drive Junction) – From 6pm to 2am.

Road Closures

Esplanade Drive (Both carriageways) – From 11.30pm to 1.30am.

Connaught Drive (All lanes closed) – From 11.30pm to 1.30am.

Raffles Avenue (All lanes closed) – From 11.30pm to 1.30am.

Esplanade’s Vehicular Access Advisory

Esplanade’s Basement Carpark entrances and exits will be closed from 11.30pm to 1.30am.

Esplanade’s Waterfront Carpark will be closed from 27 December to 1 Jan 2014.

Esplanade Mall’s driveway entry and exit will be closed from 6pm to 2am.

Taxi Stand at Esplanade’s Mall Driveway will be closed from 6pm to 2am.

For a more detailed advisory on road closure around Marina Bay, please refer to this site.

Those attending Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2014 need not worry about how to get home as SMRT trains and bus services will be extended. Yeah!

Last trains towards Joo Koon, Pasir Ris and Jurong East will depart City Hall Station at 2.15am, and the last train towards Marina Bay at 2.01am.

Those heading towards HarbourFront and Dhoby Ghaut can catch the last trains at Circle Line terminals at 1.38am.

Tiffany Yong and Michhysaurous will be joining me for the countdown. What say you?

Happy New Year! See you in 2014.