Sunday, February 24, 2013

Westlake Restaurant

Today's the last day of the Chinese New Year festivities, and also the last day of the weekend - two reasons to be sad today! Haha but I did spend my day quite happily. We had a combined sound-check rehearsal at the Singapore Conference Hall (SCH) with Presbyterian High as well as Clementi Town. As it was a Sunday, church-goers were allowed to report directly at SCH at 2 pm while others had to report in school at 10.30am. Perks of being in God's family! Haha I'm just kidding.

Had a lazy breakfast at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (lol don't judge) and headed to church after that. Accidentally ordered my coffee with sugar so I had no choice but to gulp down a whole cup of sugared coffee...*shudders*

After church, we went to Maxwell Food Center where I queued almost half an hour for my fish meat noodles! Even my parents, who ordered the famous Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice were done with their meal by the time I got my food. Nonetheless, it was reeeeally good fish meat noodles and worth every single calorie (I opted for fried fish, oops). I wanted to get Lao Ban tau huey for my section but decided against it as there was probably little time to eat it anyway and tau huey tastes terrible when lukewarm!

Jin Hua Fish Head Bee Hoon
Worth every single calorie/minute/penny.

We did not really do much at the sound-check, other than the obvious, which is to listen and play. Haha. Okay that wasn't even funny. I sounded terrible as my reed was dying and was too soft and hard to control. Playing softly and in tune with musical expression on a soft, dying reed is an absolute nightmare. Mezraq said we played well though. LOL, don't know if he was just being nice or I'm a really harsh critic. (cough)

After dismissal from band, I met my family at Westlake restaurant near school for our last reunion dinner! We ordered the signature braised pork buns, yam ring, Westlake tofu combination as well as the red bean pancake that my mother could not stop singing praises of. The restaurant was so full and busy that we were fortunate to get a seat outside! Well, there was a nice breeze blowing so it was still a rather nice ambiance - laid-back and 'lax. The total bill came up to about $68 but it was worth every penny. I guess I save my stomach (and money) throughout the week for treats during the weekends. ^_^

Braised Pork with Bun
 Westlake's Signature Braised Pork with Buns
$14 for five
The buns were really thick and fluffy, but to me they were just an excess source of carbohydrates. The pork was tasty, meat interlaced by strips of fat. The fat is supposed to be eaten with the meat but there is only so much unhealthiness that I can take.

Westlake Tofu Combi
 Westlake Tofu Combination
I liked the "whiter" tofu better, but both tasted good. The "whiter" tofu has a sweeter taste to it, perhaps due to the sauce. The "darker" tofu is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, but has a little to much bean-taste for me.

Yam Basket
Yam Ring
My all-time favourite zi char dish! The yam was succulent and the chicken cubes were juicy and tender. The prawns were also tasty but nothing to scream about. After all, it's the yam that we're all after. ;-)

Red Bean Pancake
This pancake was so good. The red bean paste was so thick and they were really generous with the red bean to pancake ratio. I think the quality of the red bean is also different from the usual red bean paste items you can get elsewhere in Singapore from places such as Jollibean or Mr Bean. The pancake was thin on top and a little thicker on the bottom, but not too thick. The only gripe I have about this is the amount of oil. The pancake was so sinfully oily I felt so guilty after demolishing four pieces off in a sitting! Oh well, occasional indulgences are fine...I suppose.

I love weekends and school starts tomorrow boo hoo but all is well as Saturday will come again soon CYA

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Swee Choon Tim-Sum Restaurant III

Went out for supper with the family to Swee Choon last night after Bzb! I only had a few vegetables for dinner so I was starving. This time, as we did not have a lot of people to help demolish the food, we just ordered a few dishes that we either absolutely loved or have yet to try.

Salted egg yolk custard pau
The usual dim sum must-have item. Molten golden custard, soft white skin...'nuff said.

Red been pancake
Crispy pancake with red bean paste spread in between. The filling was not very generous and the skin too oily. I do not see how this can be a "star" item but perhaps it's just on this occasion that it fell short.


Layered pancake with egg and meat floss
This is by far my favourite item from Swee Choon! Yes, I love this even more than the egg tarts and har gows! The skin is thicker than the usual popiah skin or crepe skin, really much like a thin pancake. It's sort of like a Japanese maki, rolled with egg, meat floss and a cucumber. This was so good, I had about five of them! Who cares about calories when it comes to good food, right?

Mango and pomelo sago
My mother was craving for a chilled dessert hence the order. It almost gave me diabetes.

Despite not having a really "fixed" favourite dim sum item, I think the layered pancake dish stands a great chance. I wanted to have a lot more food but I was just spoilt for choice! The huge menu and order chit really can be intimidating. Nonetheless, I foresee many subsequent trips to Swee Choon, despite it's hard-to-reach location.

P.s. Service is great, too.

Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant
187/191 Jalan Besar
6294 5292
Monday – Saturday 6pm – 10am, Sunday & Public Holidays 6pm – 12pm

First SPA: far from relaxing

Yesterday was my first School-based Practical Assessment, affectionately known as the SPA. Yes, the O-Levels have officially started. As there are still people who have yet to take the paper...well just say that I put my trust in the Lord and He has a plan for me. :-)

I feel that the school should, aside from bombarding us with practicals week by week before the official assessment, give us a mock-assessment under full examination conditions so that we will have a better idea of what to expect during the actual examination and not freak out. Oh well, at least with this experience, I will be more ready for the subsequent few assessments. The perks of being a triple-science student...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Reunion with 叔叔

Today we had a mini reunion dinner with my uncle who has just came back from Hong Kong! We only get to see him about twice a year so these gatherings are great catch-up sessions. We went for dinner at the market near my house and indulged in greasy, fried, delicious hawker fare that he would never find in Hong Kong! It was a great dinner as we made plans for a family holiday later in the year. I'm so excited!

Oh yes, my uncle and grandparents came down from Chinatown and bought two boxes of egg tarts from the famed Tong Heng in Chinatown! I've heard so many raving reviews about it so I was glad to finally sink my teeth into a creamy egg tart that is deemed the best in Singapore.

The custard-y egg tart didn't disappoint, that's for sure! The custard egg filling was so smooth, it literally melted on my tongue into a runny yellow pool of eggy goodness. The tart was also unbelievably soft and crumbly, making it a daunting task to get the pastry into my mouth without crumbling over. There is another box of egg tarts waiting in pantry...tempting me...oh no. Everyone should definitely try this egg tart at least once in their lives. It's so worth every calorie.

Speaking of resisting temptations, today my church organized a potluck luncheon. There were so many trays of food and the queue lines were crazy long. Oblong sponsored 250 scoops of ice cream - yes, all for free!!! I was so so so tempted to get a cup of ice cream as Oblong's ice cream is seriously the best I've eaten. However, I just gave myself a treat the day before (cough buffet cough) and so I fought really really hard to stop my hand from reaching out into the freezer box to take a cup of my favourite ice cream. :'-(

For those who haven't tried Oblong's ice cream, I am not exaggerating it's delicious-ness. I dare say it's better than the ice cream from Ben and Jerry's or even Häagen Dazs! It's not over-bearingly sweet and does not give you the guilty feeling whenever you've indulged yourself with calorie-bombs. The shop is located in the basement of Balmoral Plaza, so do check it out!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Dining Room buffet

My family and I went to The Dining Room to celebrate Everyone's Birthday just now (today is 人日!) hahaha. (It's just an excuse to eat good food #don'tjudge) This would be my second dining experience there and it was so much better than the first!

This time, I did not stuff myself as much and thus did not get the really jialat feeling after eating. Also, the food was much better tonight! They even had a mini yusheng set for people who wanted to lo hei in the restaurant (no one did, of course).

While we were eating, there was a Malay wedding taking place in the conference hall above us! It was cool to see the long procession of drummers and gift-bearers trailing behind the happy couple. Quite a unique sight too, as most Malay weddings are held in void decks. I guess now society is really evolving huh. :-)

Anyway, the service was impeccable, and I recognized one of the waiters from my previous visit there! I took a lot of photos (of rather poor quality, I'm sorry) and shall let the pictures do the talking!

I went straight for the sashimi - salmon and tuna! The salmon was super good and tasted really fresh. The tuna, on the other hand...well I guess it's an acquired taste. My dad said the tuna was really good as well too though.

Top left, clockwise: Duck confit, clams, seafood jumbo, corn from the salad station, fish curry, cajun salmon and assorted sushi rolls.

The duck confit was my favourite dish of the entire buffet spread. Pity I only took a few slices and when I went back, the only pieces of duck left were fatty and limp. :'-(
The rest of the food were pretty average. I loved the salmon, but I think I went a little overboard with the salmon (you'll see from my next few pictures).

They have a frozen yogurt machine!!!

Durian pengat

Bread and butter pudding, just what I was craving for!

Chocolate pralines, designed with the Chinese New Year theme in mind. The white ones are filled with red bean filling! Delicious, but a little too sweet.

  I skipped the gelatin desserts. 

 Fortune fish agar! I tried a little bit of this and wasn't too impressed with the taste.

 I think this cake was there in lieu of Valentine's Day, hence the heart shape. The chocolate ganache on the sides was to die for, as well as the crunchy hazelnut praline base. The chocolate mouse was a little to rich though. I took two slices of cake and ate only the hazelnut layer and the chocolate ganache tee hee.

 Top left, clockwise: Cold prawns, mussels, tamago and squid from the sashimi station.

The prawns were fabulous, took lots and lots of it as the evening progressed. Ditto for the mussels. The tamago (egg) and squid were tasty, but I didn't gorge myself on those.

Roast beef - absolutely thumbs-up!!! I asked for a "not too raw" part so I got the corner of the meat, but it still tasted wonderful. I love love love beef.

Seafood dumpling: avoid at all costs.

I tried the frozen yogurt, and smothered it with Oreo crumbs (yes, they have that in a bowl!!!) and chocolate sauce. They actually provided a bowl of chocolate sauce knowing how messy it can get when diners try to ribbon chocolate from the chocolate fountain onto their desserts. How convenient! All buffet places should do this, as it makes chocolate-coating sweet treats so much easier! Also, there's the said piece of chocolate cake, as well as a square of cheesecake that was below average.

 The Dining Room also boasts a waffle-iron that produces warm waffle squares, mmm. They have an assortment of toppings such as vanilla sauce, raspberries et cetera. I chose the caramelized bananas and chocolate sauce! Oh, as well as a tiny scoop of Triple Chocolate Chip and Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. I loved the Mint Chocolate Chip flavor! I'm not really a mint person so this says heaps about the ice cream.

Top left, clockwise: Nonya kueh, durian pengat, chocolate cake, mint chocolate chip ice cream covered in Oreo crumbs!

The kueh was so oily and gross I didn't finish the entire piece. The durian pengat was not very fresh as well. Don't waste your calories on this. 

The top right corner is the duck confit. As I said earlier on, all that was left were a few straggly pieces of meat, sigh. :-(

A yummy bowl of corn and salmon to round off the meal! Strange but satisfying.

Overall, the bill came to about $204 for the four of us. There was a 15% discount for each adult do the math. For the amount of money we paid, I would say it's not cheap, but not expensive either.

The ambiance is very good - relaxing and posh. The marble walls, marble columns and sky-high ceiling certainly helped to achieve this laid-back atmosphere. The service staff were warm and friendly as well.

The food was more "hit" than "miss" so I would definitely consider this to be one of the better few buffets in Singapore that won't burn a huge hole in your pocket. However, I really need to stay away from buffets in the near future as buffets are terrible for people like me, who have almost negligible self-control when it comes to food...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Total Defence Day 2013

In commemoration of Total Defence Day yesterday, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Army came over to St. Margaret's! We got to see a real tank parked in the middle of our parade ground, smother one another's faces with camouflage cream as well as shoot empty shots with the enormous rifles. It was all great fun, but the most fun admittedly came from the taking of photos with friends, posing with the military weapons and goofy faces!

We also got to do a short workout led by a team of four soldiers, and our annual NAPFA was no match for that!

A soldier demonstrating an exercise.

That's Gen on the extreme right!