Sentosa Bids Farewell to Songs of the Sea

Yesterday, Sentosa waved good-bye to Songs of the Sea with an impressive display of fireworks, zealous sing-alongs and emotional goodbyes from the cast. After a successful seven years and more than 5,000 shows, the world’s only night extravaganza set in the sea has captivated 8.5 million guests with an interesting blend of live cast, dramatic effects and dazzling pyrotechnics. Starting today, the show grounds will close in preparation for the new multimedia night spectacular – Wings of Time.

DSC03134 DSC03131

Sentosa-SOTS Closing - Cast and CEO in final celebratory jump - web

Wings of Time, produced by the award-winning events company ECA2, will unveil its majestic charm from 17 June 2014 onwards at the same outdoor theatre as Songs of the Sea. The show will present a never-seen-before ensemble of artistically choreographed multimedia effects, a talented live cast, and fun audience engagement. With a new 10-metre tall backdrop against Sentosa’s Siloso Beach’s picturesque scenery, the 25-min spectacular will take the audiences on a magical journey of regal proportions, with new robotic fountains, 3D video mapping and enhanced pyrotechnic effects. A talented cast will take audiences on a journey filled with adventure, courage and friendship in this family-friendly extravaganza.

It tells the story of a fantastic journey through time and space. A bird-like creature, Shahbaz, from prehistoric times goes on an adventure with two modern-day teenagers in search of home. Along the way, they discover the world by exploring wondrous locations around the world. As the teenagers assist their newfound friend to find his way home, they too must face a test of their courage and friendship. The decisions they make will eventually help them (or not) to find their own way home too.

Format_landscape

“Wings of Time will redefine history again, bringing together a breathtaking adventure with the latest multimedia effects and values we can identify with. We are confident that this will again push the boundaries of premium entertainment options for families, even after the sun sets,” said Mr Sam Lee, Director, Island Business, Sentosa Leisure Management.

With just weeks away before the new show launches, Sentosa and ECA2 are embarking on extensive renovations to overhaul the stage area and equipment within the show premise. State-of-the- art technology meets contemporary storytelling as Wings of Time showcases a new choreography of pyrotechnics and special effects tightly woven into the storyline. New equipment including robotic moving water jets with LED lights and coloured lasers will be installed, while existing infrastructure will be boosted with upgrades for a seamless integration to take every guest’s breath away. Casting calls for the new cast have been completed and they will undergo intensive training by Sentosa and ECA2.

Wings of Time will be a ticketed performance, with daily shows at 7.40pm and 8.40pm along Siloso Beach. Premium seats are available at S$23 per person, while standard seats are at S$18 (standard rate), and S$15 (for local residents). Advance tickets are available from 12 May onwards at store.sentosa.com.sg. For more information, please visit www.sentosa.com.sg or call 1800-SENTOSA (736 8672).

Sentosa’s new night show – Wings of Time

  • Date: Starting from 17 June
  • Show times: Daily, 7.40pm and 8.40pm
  • Venue: Siloso Beach at Sentosa Island
  • Nearest MRT station: Harbourfront MRT (take the Sentosa Express train from Sentosa Station located at VivoCity level 3 to Beach Station)
  • Show tickets: S$23 (premium seats), S$18 (standard seats), S$15 (standard seats for locals)
  • How to buy tickets: Available for purchase online from 12 May 2014 onwards at store.sentosa.com.sg

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.

DSC09175 DSC09174 DSC09167 DSC09170 DSC09171 DSC09172

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!

DSC09192 DSC09194 DSC09202 DSC09199 DSC09200 DSC09203 DSC09196 DSC09197

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. 

DSC09208 DSC09205 DSC09204 DSC09210

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.

DSC09554 DSC09555 DSC09553

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.

DSC09233 IMG_20140319_145439

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.

DSC09241 DSC09247 DSC09249 DSC09242 DSC09243 DSC09245 DSC09244

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!

Royal Treatment: 3 Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is just one month away. What will you be giving to mommy dearest this year? In our family, Mother’s Day is one of the significant occasion besides Chines New Year and birthdays. Whether you’re thinking of restaurant treat – Chinese or Western cuisine, or a facial spa, recently I checked out 3 great places (in no particular order) to recommend for the woman we love.

1. The Royal Mail – British cuisine for Her Highness, the Queen of the family

A fine dining British cuisine destination that serves interpretations of classics with a modern twist, where roasts and prime rib take centre stage. The Royal Mail transports guests back in time with a touch of Old World elegance.

If you have received your mid-year bonus from work, this is the place to bring the person you love – be it your mom or your significant other to, for causal fine dining western cuisine. I highly recommend a weekend brunch for mom, or after 6 dinner with your date.

Must try items are the Pan Seared Foie Gras, Sous Vide Half Maine Lobster, Beef Short Rib, Deboned Fish of the Day  (serves 2 pax), Lobster Linguine and Kurobuta Pork Chop, and their desserts!

Starters priced from $13 onwards, main courses range between $28-$68 per serving, sides from $8 onwards, desserts from $13-$$15 per person. For two persons sharing, the cost will be around $100 to $150. Order their starter – foie gras or lobster, select deboned fish and beef short ribs as main course, and share one of their sinfully yummy desserts.

The Royal Mail Restaurant & Bar is located at The Ascott Raffles Place Singapore, 2 Finlayson Green, Singapore 049247. Visit their Facebook or website www.theroyalmail.sg for more information. Call 6509 3589 for reservation. Open on Monday – Friday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Serves breakfast and dinner on Saturday, and only available for breakfast on Sunday & public holiday.

Pan Seared Foie Gras ($24), highly recommended

Pan Seared Foie Gras ($24), highly recommended

Lightly Seared Beef Tenderloin ($20), looks good but try it only when you want variety

Lightly Seared Beef Tenderloin ($20), looks good but try it only when you want variety

Sous Vide Half Maine Lobster ($24), recommended but my first choice is still the foie gras

Sous Vide Half Maine Lobster ($24), recommended but my first choice is still foie gras

Roasted Deboned Fish of the Day ($52), recommended and good pairing with a red meat

Roasted Deboned Fish of the Day ($52), recommended and good pairing to share with a red meat

Getting served the Deboned Fish of the Day

Getting served the Deboned Fish of the Day

Kurobuta Pork Chop ($48), recommended for pork lovers

Kurobuta Pork Chop ($48), recommended for pork lovers

Lobster Linguine ($28), very reasonably priced. The grey bubble-like is actually Squid Ink Espuma.

Lobster Linguine ($28), very reasonably priced. The grey bubble-like is actually Squid Ink Espuma.

Roast Prime Rib (Classic Cut, 280g) at $58. I would highly recommend the Braised Beef Short Rib ($36) instead, the latter is more tender. Photo not available.

Roast Prime Rib (Classic Cut, 280g) at $58. I would highly recommend the Braised Beef Short Rib ($36) instead, the latter is more tender. Photo not available.

Side dishes (from left clockwise) - Braised Green Lentil du Puy ($8), Sauteed Chestnut & Grapes ($12), Casserole of Mushrooms ($8), and Baked White bean Ragout Pot Pie ($10). Nothing particularly outstanding with the sides.

Side dishes (from left clockwise) – Braised Green Lentil du Puy ($8), Sauteed Chestnut & Grapes ($12), Casserole of Mushrooms ($8), and Baked White bean Ragout Pot Pie ($10). Nothing particularly outstanding with the sides.

Foreground - Banoffee Tart ($13). Background - Eton Mess ($15).

Foreground – Banoffee Tart ($13). Background – Eton Mess ($15).

Chocolate Fondant ($18)

Chocolate Fondant ($18)

Red House Seafood at Prinsep Street – Chinese seafood dinner for the Matriarch of your house

Maybe western dining is not your thing. Then, come to Red House where they’re celebrating their 38th Anniversary with new seafood creations and set menus. Its seafood are sourced from Scotland and flown in three times a week to maintain freshness.

Red House’s 38th Anniversary ‘Modern’ Anniversary Set Dinner offers seven courses at $388 for 6 persons. Inclusive of a bottle of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut champagne OR Domaine Leflaive Macon-Verze 2010 premium French white wine OR two jugs of Tiger Beer .Valid till 30 June 2014 at Prinsep Street outlet only.

There isn’t anything that I don’t like about their ‘modern’ set dinner. The Chilled Spicy Whelks, Scottish Blue Lobster Coated with Sweet Mayonnaise, Garlic Steamed Megrim Fish, Scottish Brown Crabs in White Pepper, and Oyster ‘Yuan Yang’ Hor Fun are worth the extra calories on my cheat day. I highly recommend the champagne or white wine which pairs very well with the seafood.

If you’re looking for a smaller affair, then try their new five-course set lunch at only $38 for two persons. Available daily, this super value for money set lunch comes with Dim Sum Basket of Siew Mai, Mixed Mushroom Dumpling, Scallop & Chives Dumping, Oven-Baked Char Siew Pau, Creamy Custard Prawns, Oyster ‘Yuan Yang’ Hor Fun, Fried Daily Greens and homemade Durian Mochi.

Red House’s flagship outlet is located at 68 Prinsep Street, Singapore 188661. Visit their website www.redhouseseafood.com for more information. Call 6336 6080 for reservations. Open for lunch & dinner from Monday to Friday, and all day-dining on Saturday, Sunday & public holiday.

Additional notes: They have two other outlets located at East Coast Seafood Centre and The Quayside. Red House is voted “Best Chili Crab 2008” by Time Out Singapore Magazine. Another must try is their new Chili Crab Baos, order them to complement your meal (not included in set lunch or dinner).

DSC09599 DSC09604

Chilled Spicy Whelks

Chilled Spicy Whelks ($35, ala carte)

Chili Crab Bao (3 for $8), available during lunch only

Chili Crab Bao (3 for $8), available during lunch only. Not included in set lunch. Highly recommended.

DSC09611

Garlic Steamed Megrim Fish ($100 per kg)

Garlic Steamed Megrim Fish ($100 per kg, ala carte)

DSC09615

Scottish Blue Lobster Coated with Sweet Mayonnaise ($148 per kg)

Scottish Blue Lobster Coated with Sweet Mayonnaise ($148 per kg, ala carte)

Scottish Brown Crabs in White Pepper ($58 per kg)

Scottish Brown Crabs in White Pepper ($58 per kg, ala carte)

Spicy Seafood Combination ($28 / $42 / $56)

Spicy Seafood Combination ($28 / $42 / $56, ala carte)

Oyster 'Yuan Yang' Hor Fun ($20)

Oyster ‘Yuan Yang’ Hor Fun ($20, ala carte)

DSC09632

Durian Mochi

Durian Mochi, made with REAL durian inside!

Lemongrass Jelly with sorbet

Chilled Lime Sherbet with Lemongrass Jelly ($6.80) and Chilled Mango Pomelo with Sago ($4.80)

LPG Treatment at Spa Elements (ION Orchard) for My Fair Lady and her anti-aging combat

With 30 years of skin expertise, LPG from France has created a revolutionary way to re-plump hallowed cheeks, firm up sagging skin or even detoxify skin with the Endermolift New Generation. I discovered this new technology at Beauty Asia 2014 and very impressed that it is a 100% natural solution and results are obvious after just 10-30 minutes of treatment.

At first I was skeptical, it took at least 3 treatments at Sylvia Skin Atelier to show some improvements on my face. I’m pleasantly surprised that within just 30 minutes of Emdermolift treatment my dark eye circles and acne are significantly reduced. There is no regret going for the detox treatment instead of anti-aging as recommended by Spa Elements’ consultant. With over 40 different treatments, there is a suitable solution to boost your tissue stimulation.

My mother will be very happy to know that Endermolift naturally stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid by 80%. Hyaluronic acid is produced naturally in our body. It has important action on hydration and volume and renowned for its anti-aging qualities.

LPG treatment starts from $200 for 10 minutes on target area treatment. I tried the LPG Classic 30.60 (Detox) which includes cleanse, steam, 30 minutes of LPG, premium mask, protection at $450 for 60 minutes. Spa Elements also have a couple room, so you can either bring your mommy and have facial together or have a relaxing time with your significant other.

Spa Elements at ION is located at 2 Orchard Turn, #B1-30 ION Orchard, Singapore 238 801. Visit their Facebook for updates or website www.elements.com.sg for more information. Call 6738 3788 or SMS 9059 8188 to make an appointment. Spa Elements is open daily. More information on LPG Endermolift treatment can be found at www.lpgsystems.com

Directions to Spa Elements ION: From level 1, take the lift next to Valentio and go to Basement 1. Spa Elements is located near Forever 21, Popeyes Chicken, Swensen’s above Orchard MRT Station.

DSC09250 DSC09251 DSC09262 DSC09260 DSC08129

Left face before detox

Left face before detox

Left face after detox

Left face after LPG Endermolift New Generation treatment

Right face before detox

Right face before detox

DSC09270

Right face after LPG Endermolift treatment

Coincidentally, I received this infographic from City Square Mall that contains interesting Mother’s Day stats you may never knew. For example, did you know, that the total amount of money spent on Mother’s Day cards annually is $671 million? 🙂

Mother's Day Stats

Free  F&B Giveaway!

4 sets of $30 ramen vouchers for giveaway! Treat your mommy dearest for free. Simply comment below and share what you will be doing for your mom on Mother’s Day. Remember to key in your email, Twitter / Instagram for me to contact you. Follow my Twitter or Instagram @MalcolmSunny, for extra $10 voucher if you win. Giveaway closes on 30 April 2014.

Hostel Review: 5footway.inn – Project Boat Quay

I hate to begin my blog post on a negative note, but Singapore IS getting more expensive. These days most hotels have increased their room rates by more than 20%, some even doubled the price compared to few years ago. With real estate price continuing to climb, most tourist class hotels are offering rooms at min. $200 per room per night.

As a member on Couchsurfing.org, I often get requests from overseas visitors asking if they can do a home-stay with me. But as I’m living still sponging under the roof of my folks, often I have to reject them and recommend some nice hostel choices for them.

IMG_0550a IMG_0553a

Located in the heart of downtown Singapore, Project Boat Quay is one of 5footway.inn‘s latest hostel. It’s only 5 minutes walk away to Raffles MRT station or 8 minutes walk to Clarke Quay MRT station. Neko no Niwa Cat CafeLONDON Bar, seafood restaurants, cafes, pubs, massage parlour, 24-hour convenient store, board games cafe and coffeeshops are all within 5 minutes radius.  From its balcony, I can have a good view of Marina Bay Sands!

Passing through the front door, Tiffany Yong and I are pleasantly surprised to find out that 5footway.inn Project Boat Quay is more than just a hostel. It is also an art gallery. The team has collaborated with award-winning Singaporean photographer, Edwin Koo to install Gallery 76 into the common spaces of the hostel.

IMG_0544IMG_0548aIMG_0626

The layout feels like a maze but there are proper signages to guide us. At the 3rd floor of this restored shophouse is The Terrace, a common area where there is a cosy TV lounge, alfresco dining area, pantry with refrigerator, water dispenser  and microwave oven. There is even a hot beverage dispenser machine which you can make a cup of milo or teh tarik (hot tea) and enjoy a decent conversation. Breakfast is provided. Free flow toast and cereal are available for breakfast.

IMG_0580a IMG_0570aIMG_0557IMG_0600aDSC09563IMG_0576a

Upon check-in, the staff leads us to our room. For this review, we are staying at a standard double room. We are given bath towels and a security card which allows as to access the main door, our room and also the lockers in the room. The whitewashed room is small but comfortable. Besides the bed, there is a side table, two lockers and a mirror. There are no TV or attached bathroom. For guys, the shared bathroom is located at level 3, and Ladies is located at level 2. Shower gel and shampoo are provided in the shared bathroom. I’m glad that the cleaner takes pride in ensuring cleanliness of the toilets.

IMG_0613IMG_0637IMG_0627

Bearing in mind, it’s a hostel, they try their best to make up for what is lacking. Free high-speed WiFi is available throughout the spaces and I have no problem accessing internet from the comfort of my room or at The Terrace at level 3. There are also 3 sets of Mac desktop available in the reception area. Cheap drinks and beer are available for purchase as well. They also provide laundry service at a small fee.

IMG_0567a IMG_0575

At night, there is live music coming from the nearby bar but the sound doesn’t penetrate to my room. However, as there is no attached toilet, I can hear people closing doors and footsteps as people make their way to the washroom to relieve themselves. I am a light sleeper and old shophouses are not built to be soundproofed, hence it was difficult for me to get rest at night. But hostel culture is communal living, so one cannot expect hotel standard and service when one is only paying a fiction of price. Overall, it is good for a roof over your head.

  • Location: 4 / 5
  • Ambience: 4 / 5
  • Facilites: 3 / 5
  • Amenities: 3.5 / 5
  • Price: 4.5 / 5
  • Overall: 4 / 5

Project Boat Quay is located at 76 Boat Quay, Singapore 049864. Price starts from S$28 for mixed dorm. Visit their website or Facebook for more information and booking.

IMG_0591

Started in September 2011, 5footway.inn is currently the largest hostel chain in Singapore with over 700 beds in 4 outlets located at key tourist heritage districts in Chinatown, Kampong Glam and Boat Quay. Opened in May 2013, Project Boat Quay is the newest and largest property. Situated along the Singapore River, facing the Parliament House and Asian Civilization Museum, it is a few minutes walk from the legendary Fullerton Hotel, Lau Pa Sat, Merlion Park, the Esplanade and Chinatown.

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

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)

DSC09452

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.

DSC09445DSC09450 DSC09453

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.

DSC09455 DSC09454 DSC09456

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.

DSC09480IMG-20140315-WA0047

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

DSC09467

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.

DSC09469DSC09473 DSC09477 DSC09468 DSC09476 DSC09475

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

IMG-20140315-WA0042

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.

DSC09516

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!

DSC09518

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).

IMG-20140315-WA0057

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.

IMG-20140315-WA0053

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.

DSC09523

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.

DSC09524

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.

IMG-20140315-WA0095

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.

DSC09485 DSC09489 DSC09490 DSC09493 DSC09495 DSC09501 DSC09503 IMG-20140316-WA0017 IMG-20140316-WA0024 IMG-20140316-WA0015 IMG-20140316-WA0026 DSC09507

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.

DSC09466 IMG-20140315-WA0075 DSC09464 DSC09514 DSC09513

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.

IMG-20140317-WA0031 IMG_20140317_1 IMG-20140318-WA0029 IMG-20140318-WA0030

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. 

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

Hotels Review: Where to Stay in Johor Bahru

I want to begin this blog post with a beautiful quote from Renaissance Hotel, “No matter where or why you travel, there’s always something wonderfully new to be found”. This sums up my travel experience in Johor recently. Under the invitation by Visit Malaysia 2014 to explore Johor, I’m honoured to experience two different types of accommodation across the causeway.

RENAISSANCE Johor Bahru Hotel

Launched in May 2013, this chic and spacious property boasts of its 345 modern contemporary rooms and 5-star service. Located near the industrial town, Pasir Gudang, RENAISSANCE is the lifestyle brand under Marriot International. When I enter the hotel, I’m greeted by a grand lobby. A short walk up level 2, there are several function rooms for meeting and seminar. The hotel has also set aside a lounge area with a mini bar at level 2 for guests to mingle and network during the seminar breaks.

Our tour continues to the Club Floor, where a lavish display of tapas is on offer. From the Club’s balcony, I can see the Straits of Johor, Senoko Power Station and Woodlands Industrial Park. My Malaysian media friends jokingly said that I’ve not really left my island. We move on to view the Presidential Suite before returning back to our own rooms to freshen up before dinner.

Lobby - the grand entry

Lobby – the grand entrance

DSC01005

Lobby – the view from level 2

DSC01009

Seminar Rooms – relax during the break

DSC01004

Seminar Rooms – mingle and network at the lounge

DSC00959

Club Floor – I can see Singapore from the balcony

DSC00971

Club Floor – relax with a cup of tea or coffee

DSC00963

Club Floor – please help yourself to the tapas on display

DSC00952

President Suite – bed for the king

DSC00954

President Suite – the glorious bathroom

DSC00949

President Suite – lounge and meeting area

DSC00982

Are you planning for a romantic night with your partner?

DSC00980

TokyoMilk Toiletries courtesy of Renaissance Hotel

Our comfortable cozy twin-sharing room for the night

Our comfortable cozy twin-sharing room for the night

The hotel is not short of recreational and entertainment facilities. The swimming pool and sauna opens from 6.30am to 9.30pm daily. There’s also 24-hour gym centre at level 6 besides the swimming pool. To encourage healthy living, Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel offers a gym membership at RM2,1oo nett per year, includes 20% discount on all F&B outlets in the hotel, complimentary car parking, usage of swimming pool & sauna, and access to 24-hour gym.

Need an excuse to exercise?

Need an excuse to exercise?

A fully equipped gym with lots of cardio machines.

A fully equipped gym with lots of cardio machines.

DSC00988

Come on, work it, work it!

DSC00978

Bird’s eye view of the swimming pools from clubhouse.

DSC00984

Sunset by the pool. It was raining heavily when I was there.

DSC00991

Guests staying at level 6 have the option of a poolside villa

After a quick shower, it’s time to indulge in indigenous dining at Cafe BLD. This all-day dining restaurant of the hotel serves local and fusion cuisine with international live cooking buffet. Breakfast buffet is at RM42++ per person, lunch is between RM55 to RM60++, and dinner at RM68-RM80++.

For those who crave for Chinese food, Wan Li Restaurant is located across the lobby from Cafe BLD. Both common dining area and private rooms are available for reservation. Wan Li Restaurant serves authentic chinese cuisine with assortment of dim sum delights from late morning to afternoon 3-pm. Wedding package from RM1399++ per table onwards.

Tired after a few day of meeting and conference? Rewind at RBar  with RLife Live – live music from the resident DJ. Enjoy intriguing drinks with Happy Hour from 4pm to 8pm. And the best deal? They serve premier wine by glass!

The giant platter of cooked prawn is really fresh

Cafe BLD – The giant platter of cooked prawn is really fresh

I have never seen so much sashimi in my life before!

Cafe BLD – I have never seen so much sashimi in my life before!

All-you-can-eat sushi

Cafe BLD – All-you-can-eat sushi

And their desserts are really good too.

Cafe BLD – And their desserts are really good too.

I wonder if those fishes are edible too?

Wan Li Restaurant – I wonder if those fishes are edible too?

There was a Ultimate Dim Sum Challenge when we were there. Finish 18 baskets of dim sum in 30 minutes and get the meal free.

Wan Li Restaurant – There was a Ultimate Dim Sum Challenge when we were there. Finish 18 baskets of dim sum in 30 minutes and get the meal free.

Chinese restaurant setting in the common area

Wan Li Restaurant – Chinese restaurant setting in the common area

They have private rooms for small wedding reception or better still book the entire restaurant for your wedding.

Wan Li Restaurant – They have private rooms for small wedding reception or better still book the entire restaurant for your wedding.

After a long day's work, it's time to rewind at RLife.

RBar – After a long day’s work, it’s time to rewind at RLife Live

I love the option to purchase premium wine by glass

RBar – I love the option to purchase premium wine by glass

  • Location: 4 / 5
  • Ambience & Service: 5 / 5
  • Facilities & Amenities: 5 / 5
  • Food & Beverage: 4.5 / 5
  • Price: 4 / 5
  • Overall: 4.5 / 5

Perfect for: Business travelers, romantic staycation, leisure travelers who seek comfort

Corporate room rate starts from RM 285 per room per night. Walk-in rate subject to change, please check their website or get more info at Marriott.com.

Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel is located at No. 2, Jalan Permas 11, Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, 81750, Johor, Malaysia. Visit their Facebook or corporate website www.RenaissanceHotels.com for more information. General line: +607-381-3333

Bayu Marina Resort

Converted from a private property, Bayu Marina Resort is a tourist class service apartment. Located in a quiet neighbourhood, it is “your far away home”. What I love is the free WiFi access, and accessibility to amenities within 8km include food establishments, shopping centre, karaoke lounge, massage centre, cinema and even bowling centre.

The rooms are spacious, decorated in simple home-styling. Those long-term guests will appreciate the pantry area where they can prepare home-cooked meals. The hotel has six large banquet rooms which are ideal for corporate retreats, workshops, church seminars, etc. Breakfast is included in the package. In the morning the cafe serves porridge, dim sum, nasi lemak and other local delights. For relaxation, simply change and jump in to enjoy the swimming pool with a view.

Studio Room - the room I was staying

Studio Room – the room I was staying

DSC01083

Studio Room – We stayed at a Studio Room, it’s big and spacious.

DSC01080

Studio Room – Sofa area to chill and watch TV

DSC01085

The Studio Room also comes with a pantry

DSC01277

Twin-sharing with double bed. The rooms are similar in design.

DSC01087

Located in the heart of a local neighbourhood

DSC01273

Enjoy your dip in the pool with a view of the lake

DSC01282

Banquet Rooms – 6 different sizes of room to choose from

DSC01284

Banquet Rooms – Seagull Room can accommodate up to 300 people in the theatre style set up

  • Location: 3 / 5
  • Ambience & Service: 3 / 5
  • Facilities & Amenities: 3 / 5
  • Food & Beverage: 3 / 5
  • Price: 4 / 5
  • Overall: 3 / 5

Perfect for: Self-drive, tour groups, family with young children, large families, church groups, seminar participants, corporate retreats

Room rates start from RM228 per room per night for studio room, includes breakfast for 2.

Bayu Marina Resort is located at No. 1, Jalan Bayu Puteri 2/1, Taman Bayu Puteri, 80150, Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Visit their Facebook or website www.BayuMarinaResort.com for more information. General line: +607-340-5555

DSC01073

Special thanks to Gaya Travel and Tourism Malaysia for arranging Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Johor trip. Go to Visit Malaysia 2014 for more exciting holiday ideas.

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

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

gvUkXyGRJdlllzv4ihUuhuaTmVMk3bZ3tmql94p3Be4

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.

DSC09056

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

DSC09066

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

DSC09064

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

DSC09069

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.

1797280_10201257816719291_848607682_n

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

DSC01907

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

1779514_10201257816759292_40847193_n

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)

DSC01913

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

DSC01917

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.

DSC08102

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.

DSC08103

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

DSC08106

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.

IMG_7940

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.

IMG_8016

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.

IMG_8011

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.

image001

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.

DSC01946

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.

DSC01968DSC01983

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.”

DSC01974

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.

DSC01941DSC01967 DSC01965

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.

DSC01935 DSC01970

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.

DSC01948

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.

DSC01961 DSC01953

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.

DSC01959

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“.

Just Enjoy Life with beautiful, affordable designer furniture

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Traditionally, Spring is the time where people get rid of the old and replace with new. Newly set up last year, Just Enjoy Life is an online furniture shop that specialises in affordable and attractive alternative for budget conscious buyers. Read on to find out how you can enjoy discount when you purchase during this festive period.

Just Enjoy Life with Lazy Bag from justenjoylife.com

Just Enjoy Life with Lazy Bag from justenjoylife.com

Set up by three friends with experience in sourcing, marketing and logistic. Jada, one of the co-founders, is a fashion designer and General Manager of a fashion retailer serving international markets. Her previous experience in furnishing her new place abroad made her realise that shopping for furniture could be a real headache, and constantly questioned, “Why can’t I get beautiful furniture with good quality at affordable prices?”

Leveraging on e-commerce technology that makes online shopping popular in Singapore, homemakers can now get designer furniture at the convenience of a click. The online model has also made it possible to offer prices 20-40% lower than other designer furniture brands by reducing overheads such as salesman commission, showroom and manpower costs, and by getting products directly from manufacturers.

Enjoying life on the Lazy Bag from justenjoylife.com

Enjoying life on the Lazy Bag from justenjoylife.com

Their warehouse at Woodlands is open almost every Saturday, from 8 am to 1 pm. Just give them a call at 9090 6658 or drop them a note at hello@justenjoylife.com to arrange to view the stock of their popular items. Just Enjoy Life offers FREE delivery islandwide and sends to your place within 2 to 4 weeks for most products.

I headed down to their warehouse for a tour and had fun with a few of my favorite pieces from Just Enjoy Life.

Life can look boring with nice furniture, hor?

Bover Sofa – Life can look boring with nice furniture, hor?

1495557_563470847062192_1078963695_n

Laurel Sofa – It’s so SPACIOUS!

1601460_563470863728857_730470583_n

Chillaxing on Laurel Sofa, I got to get one of these!

1545644_563471627062114_1996132643_n

Looking cool on the Wiki Sofa

1525255_563471643728779_793388089_n

#likeaboss on the Wiki Sofa

1551469_563472137062063_82556313_n

“I don’t know what to say!” Simply love this Lazy Tri Fold Bed

1554392_563472157062061_1046202965_n

Text, surf, read with ease on the Lazy Tri Fold Bed

1511657_563472237062053_2076241376_n

It’s not that heavy but I’m pretending to drag the Lazy Bag home

1528465_563472230395387_1969611449_n

For more Lazy Bags, check out justenjoylife.com

65111_563472233728720_675315143_n

Have fun, lots of fun, even Gangnam Style with the Lazy Bag

Let your friends and relatives marvel at your new furniture pieces! Just enter the promo code cnyhuatah during checkout to get a 20% discount, valid till end of Chinese New Year only.

Website: www.justenjoylife.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/justenjoylifehome

Look Book: www.dropbox.com/s/782lwxu88plf8b2/JEL-­‐Lookbook.pdf

Which is your favorite furniture from Just Enjoy Life? Let know me via the comments below.