Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Anderson Junior College Symphonic Band: Limelight 2014

Went for Anderson JC band's Limelight yesterday with a bunch of 4/6 people. Funny story how I got invited to this...so one day, out of the blue, Rebecca texted me "Jin-wen! So I order ticket for u k! ;)" and yup that pretty much sealed the deal hahahaha. Anyway I guess I would've gone to support her even if she didn't force me to go hut hur.

As usual, we were almost late for the concert. :-( Everyone must have totally been judging us, this group of uniform-clad girls running (flying) through the Esplanade link way place all the way to the concert hall! Also, we were all in different uniforms so it must have looked pretty strange.

The first half of the concert was more interesting, in my opinion. I can't really remember what pieces they played (no programme booklet sobbity sob) but it was the kind that makes your heart pound hahaha. Their alumni band was pretty good too! Time really flies during band concerts because pretty soon it was intermission a.k.a. photo-taking time.


Victoria!!! Really miss having her around in band hahaha this noob almost came to RI!!! :-( Sigh pie





ClaRE!!!





I like how disorganised this photo is




GOT TO SEE MY MAIN BAE REGI!!! I was really happy to see her haha the last time we met was like last December?!?! Miss her so so so much :')


I swear Hansol is obsessed with these kiss-cringe photos




The second half of the concert was so-so haha not really astounding or anything but not that bad either. They played mainly pop songs which...well I guess it caters to a different demographic of the audience. (Frozen is really over-rated please let it go!!!) Watching Mr A conduct again brought back so many SMSB memories :'-) Thanks AJCSB for the great music!

We waited about 45 minutes for Rebecca to come out and get her flowers and balloons but sadly the bus went off before we could see her!!! Was pretty annoyed but at least we managed to catch a train back home.


We were so tired that we didn't even try to look decent.

IT WAS A GREAT DAY WITH GREAT FRIENDS AND GREAT EYEBROWS!!!111!!!!1!

Gearing up for the band concert season wheeeeEEEeeEEe!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

#Jinsol

Met up with Hansol on Good Friday morning for breakfast at Food For Thought because she was craving for the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes we had the last time we were there.

We arrived around 9.30am and the restaurant was literally bursting with people! It was so noisy and crowded and rather warm since there were so many people radiating heat...(miss doing physics hahaha) Despite the crowd, our food came in about 10 minutes! Thumbs up for efficient service. :-)

We stayed there until 11.30am-ish talking about our JC lives and just catching up on each other. I really miss my best friend in class :-( Glad to see that she is doing well in ACJC though!


We ordered the same thing hahaha I felt a bit !@#$ (you know that tugging feeling you get when you don't know if you made the right choice?!) ordering the exact same thing but all's good because it was really yumzA. :-)




"You're still my favourite person to touch" HAHAHAHA

(Yeah Hansol is quite strange)



Apparently her eyes are too big to do a proper eye-roll...#jealousmax



SELFIE WITH PEOPLE USING THE SELFIE-STICK HUR HUR HUR



We look like we are lying on the grass but no we were actually doing some intense ab workout





Walked from the Nassim Gate of Botanic Gardens all the way back to the MRT in the sweltering heat and hobo-ed around the MRT station before parting ways.

This will definitely not be the last time we see each other!!!111!1!!1!1

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Choupinette with Clare

Met Clare for dinner on Tuesday after what was literally ages. We actually planned to go to The Missing Pan for dinner as we were keen to try out their highly-raved brunch items, but turns out, they don't serve brunch items after 6pm. :-( I felt so cheated of a whole days' excitement (I even called to make a reservation and got mocked by my "friends"?!?! ((jk love you guys))) but yeah I guess its not really their fault we didn't check properly haha. So we headed down to Choupinette instead.



(10/10 for ambiance!!! It's super vintage-y and pretty and English :) )

It was about 6pm by the time we got there, and Choupinette closed at 7pm. It was empty except for the both of us! The waiter very vexedly warned us that he would kick us out (well words to that extent, anyway) at 7pm sharp and glared at us, not failing to pointedly remind us that he has since closed to coffee machines and was about to close the kitchens. So much for service! Anyway, the service was really, really bad. I don't usually complain about service but this is a new low, even for me!



Clare ordered the Eggs Royale set ($23) while I had the toast set ($25) (forgot the French name hehe oops). Hers was basically an Eggs Benedict except with smoked salmon in place of ham, and mine was a croque-monsieur with chicken in place of ham.

I tried a bit of her Eggs Royale and it was pretty yummy! She finished everything really quickly too hehe so that should be an indication of how good it was/hungry she was hut hur. My sandwich was yumz too! I liked the cheesy top, though the chicken bits were pretty dry. :-(



My set came with a dessert of choice (Creme brûlée, chocolate mousse or 4 macaroons). I chose the chocolate mousse and we shared it! If ordered a la carte, it would've set us back $7.50. In my opinion, it isn't event worth a dollar (Ikea's chocolate mousse is so much better and only $1.50?!) There was water-y fluid near the bottom of the shot glass and the mousse was just so meh. Maybe the macaroons would've been a better choice. :-(

All in all, the food is still quite all right! Portions were rather small though, and I felt it wasn't really worth the hefty price tag. :-( Also, I realised I feel really uncomfortable wasting so much money unnecessarily on food haha so I guess this would be my last indulgent meal in a while. :(

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, 'twas a great catch up with Clare and I really hope I can keep up with these Tuesday-dinner-date-catch-ups-with-friends :-)



Sunday, April 06, 2014

Café-hopping: Selfish Gene Café, Grin Affair, Strangers' Reunion, Tsujiri

Today I went café-hopping with Clare! We have been planning this for ages, waaay before the O-Levels and finally got to realise our plans today. We decided to stay around the Tanjong Pagar/Outram area and just walk around to each café on our list. For your reference,
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We found Department of Caffeine after walking past it once but sadly, they were closed on Wednesdays. :-( Unfazed, we marched on to Selfish Gene Café, which has a somewhat odd name.
Stepping into the café, the air-con hit us with a breath of cool air, and it felt so good. Especially after a (not so) long walk in the scorching sun. There were only two other tables occupied when we entered so we pretty much had the flexibility of sitting anywhere we wanted. The café had a really indie vibe and everything felt retro (to me). Bordering on pretentious, but not exactly there yet.
After doing a quick search on HGW, we decided on the Valerie ($12) as well as a slice of Banana cake ($6). Both of us had yet to have breakfast so whatever we would eat was brunch.
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The Valerie (Scrambled eggs, Berry compote and Cream Cheese on a thick slice of brioché) and the Banana cake, with peanut butter drizzled across it.
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The Valerie was amazing. The toast was delightfully thick and soft, while still being crisp on the outsides. I felt the berry compote and cream cheese kind of marred the taste of the bread. The scrambled eggs were good too - delightfully runny.
The Banana cake was so moist and dense, I can see why it's highly raved about. It tastes the same as other banana cakes, but yet is different from the rest. Obviously I am not very good in putting senses into words. :-(
Afterwards, we walked on over to Everton Park, where Grin Affair was located. Just like Creamier, it was a small little shop at the void deck of a HDB flat. Extremely unpretentious and literally in a "cosy corner". The decor in Grin Affair screams vintage, as seem from the little cutesy banners and woody furniture.
"Quaint little café nestled in the heart of a quiet neighbourhood" would be most apt to describe Grin Affair.
We ordered the Strawberry cake and Durian cake ($11.50 for both). The cakes could only be eaten after "thawing" at room temperature for around five minutes. After what seemed like five minutes, we dug the spoon into the jar and it was rock-hard. After lots of chit-chat and well, time, the cake softened and became spongey and creamy.
The cake is not outstanding but the idea is a novel one. The presentation is also extremely appealing so I guess that's the formula for their success. We loved this little shop so much! We were the only customers there and had the whole cosy teahouse to ourselves. It was really enjoyable, to sit there and just talk, with cake on our side and pretty furniture all around.
We got to bring home the jars, and topped up $0.40 for a pretty metal cover for the jar.
After a considerable amount of time, we headed to Strangers' Reunion for their famous buttermilk waffles.
What a pity that Strangers' Reunion was extremely crowded. It was around 1pm, so it would be lunchtime for the working people around the CBD. Like Mr Alvin would have said, it was packed like sardines in there. The tables adjacent to us were barely five inches away! It goes without saying that the café was terribly noisy and it was hard to make comfortable conversation. Nonetheless, we were there for the food.
Buttermilk waffle with Berry compote and Greek yoghurt ($14.90) was really good! The waffle smelt heavenly and was so crisp that when I cut through it, it felt like cutting through ice. (Strange metaphor but, well,)
 The berry compote was better than Selfish Gene's (IMO) as the berries were big and juicy. The compote complemented the Greek yoghurt very well, but I would have preferred having the delightful waffle on its own, au natural.
After finishing our waffle, we left hastily, eager to leave this over-crowded little café. The lady seated at the table next to us upset her latte and it spilt all over the sofa, floor, table and possibly herself. It was really messy and awkward for us because on one hand, we should help, but on the other, we had no means of helping! Our serviettes were dirtied already so we couldn't do anything but look away and feign ignorance...I felt quite bad about it but c'est la vie. :-(
Thereafter, we walked to Outram MRT station and took a train down to Somerset, where we ended our food hunt with green tea (or matcha, if you prefer) ice-cream from the legan-wait for it-dary Tsujiri Tea House.
Suffice to say it did not disappoint.
We happily ate our ice-creams and walked around 313@Somerset, Orchard Central and Centrepoint shopping for cute useless stuff as well as Christmas cards.
Ooh, we went to Scape Underground as well to "look look see see" and found this shop which sold really cute badges! As they were on promotion, we bought a handful of them as gifts or for ourselves.
I especially like the donut badge! It would complement my new school bag (heh heh).
Going home, it started to rain, no, POUR very heavily and I got completely drenched. It was terrible. My umbrella got inverted by the gusty winds and I literally had to use both hands to grasp the handle of the umbrella or it would have flown right out of my hands.
What a day.
So, this concludes my first ever café-hop (? sounds strange when not used as a verb)! I really enjoyed myself though felt slightly bad because I haven't exercised for a week already...oh well.

Guide to Bukit Timah Food Centre

Since I live a stone's throw away from Bukit Timah Food Centre, I thought it'd be useful for ~people~ to have a "veteran's" guide to the food center. I realized that there are a lot of stalls selling more or less the same foods, so it can be confusing for the unfamiliar patron to tell which serves the "better" dish. However, it is also useful to see which stall has the longer queue to gauge its cook's skill.
Carrot cake
There are a few (4?) stalls selling carrot cake here. I mean the Chinese version, of course, not the American dessert. Only one stall sells the black version of carrot cake, so if you're a fan of that, you don't have much choice. For fans of the white carrot cake, however, you will find that He Zhong Carrot Cake serves a pretty good one. The stall is constantly busy, with many orders to fill and many assistants running about serving plates of carrot cake. The stall is easy to identify, with numerous newspaper clippings adorned on it's display wall. I prefer He Zhong as they fry the egg on top of the radish, and are extremely generous with the chye poh. Again, taste is subjective, so I cannot say with absolute certainty that He Zhong has the best carrot cake in this market. However, I am confident that it is one of the best. The other carrot cake which is good enough to pose sufficient threat to He Zhong would be Seng Kee Carrot Cake, which is just a few stalls down from He Zhong (in the same aisle).
The carrot cake pictured is from He Zhong Carrot Cake
He Zhong Carrot Cake: #02-185
Seng Kee Carrot Cake: #02-182
134 Carrot Cake: #02-134 (the black version)
(Another review on He Zhong Carrot Cake: ieatishootipost)
Hokkien mee
There are two stalls selling Hokkien mee in Bukit Timah Food Centre. One of them has a persistently long queue in front of the stall, while the other has virtually to customers waiting in line. Yet, the latter serves up the better Hokkien mee of the two. Perhaps it is the speed of cooking that explains the lack of a queue, then. That aside, I find that this stall, Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee (yes, how original) serves one of the best Hokkien mee I've ever tasted. You can choose to have it served on either a simple black plate or on an opal leaf, for an extre cost. Recently, the owner has started scrimping on ingredients, however. Instead of three juicy big prawns, now there are only one big prawn and two smaller prawns in a small plate of Hokkien mee. :-( Though unfortunate, this means that the price remains the same ($3.50). The other rival stall (Xie Kee Hokkien Mee) is located in the middle of the hawker centre, and uses green plates (that's the best description I can offer). There is always a queue there and so many mistake that to be the "best" Hokkien mee stall. However, I find the noodles there soggy and the yellow noodle they use is the flat kind. It's more of personal taste I suppose, but the noodles also tasted very yellow, if you get what I mean. Hence, I would definitely choose Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee's Hokkien mee over the other any time, any day.
Hokkien Mee
(Image credits: Ladyironchef)
Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee: #02-145
Xie Kee Hokkien Mee: #02-174
Satay Bee Hoon
There is only one stall selling satay bee hoon, and that is Sin Chew Satay Bee Hoon. They only open on certain days of the week, so do check if they are open on the day you are planning to visit (if you are eyeing the satay bee hoon). I personally don't fancy satay bee hoon but judging from the perennial long queue in front of the stall, it is safe to say that their satay bee hoon is delicious. Be prepared to queue around ten to fifteen minutes for your food!
Sin Chew Satay Bee Hoon: #02-162
Tasty Thai Hut
This is the only Thai stall in Bukit Timah Food Center, and is one of the best hawker Thai stalls I've tried. The lady owner is Thai so this ensures that her customers get an authentic plate/bowl of Thai goodness. Every thing here is $5 so it is easier to collect/count money (I think) and there is not much variety. What this means, though, is that the quality of each dish would be much better. After all, who would want to be a Jack of all trades, if he is the master of none?
Anyway, what I highly recommend is the Basil Chicken rice with Egg. Yes, the Pad Thai, Tom Yam, Pineapple rice and Green Curry with Chicken is delicious, but if I could only choose one dish? It would be the Basil Chicken without any hesitation at all. It is actually a very simple dish, but what makes this yummilicious is the gravy that the chicken is cooked in. It's not exactly a gravy per se, but it is absorbed by the rice and gives a wonderful flavour to the otherwise bland rice.
Pad Thai
Basil Chicken rice // Green curry with chicken
Tom Yam Seafood soup
Pineapple rice (look at that huge mound of pork floss!)
Tasty Thai Hut: #02-159
Braised duck
This stall, named Boneless Braised Duck, serves delicious...what else, but braised duck! It always has a long queue, especially on weekends. It also sells out its ducks by early evening, so don't expect it to be open during dinner-time. The duck is tender, and the sauce has a hint of sweetness to it. There are a sprinkling of other stalls in the food centre that sell braised duck as well, but it is my view that this is the best.
Boneless Braised Duck: #02-164
Fishball noodles
Sheng Cheng has the best fishball noodles in Bukit TImah Food Centre, and there's little doubt about that. There are one or two other fishball noodle stalls here, but Sheng Cheng reigns above them all. All right, I may be over-dramatizing things here a little. Evidence of its popularity is that it is only open in the morning, and on a weekend, expect to wait around half an hour for your bowl of noodles! The secret to it's tastiness would be the sauce that is mixed with the noodles in the dry version. It just makes one feel so...good. Hahaha this is a really inadequate description but it is all I can offer. Really. It is literally out of this world/too intangible to be captured in mere words.
Sheng Cheng Fishball Noodle: #02-165
Sugarcane juice
There are many sugarcane juice-sellers in Bukit Timah Food Centre, but the best is definitely stall #02-124 (100% Pure Sugarcane Juice). The stall owner clearly chose a unique and impressive stall name. Then again, it's a hawker centre - keep it simple and clear. The sugarcane juice is far from diluted, yet is not overly concentrated either. It's is just the right mix of sweetness, and is definitely thirst-quenching. Or, it can also be a huge relief to your burning tongue if you ate a bit too much sambal (which is not uncommon here).
100% Pure Sugarcane Juice: #02-122
Traditional Singaporean breakfast
There are countless drinks stalls that also serve the iconic kaya-butter-toast-with-eggs set for breakfast, but only one stall has a snaking queue in front of it even before the crack of dawn. Hup Cheong Coffee Shop is its name. The toast is toasted using the old-fashioned grill, and the bread is sourced from those old-school bakeries, crust-less. The eggs are always perfectly done, with the yolk oozing out pure gold. The coffee is good too, as it is very gao. This may not appeal to some, because again, it is a case of each individual's personal preference. This stall opens only in the morning, though.
Hup Cheong Coffee Shop: #02-173
Wu Xiang
Zhong Zhong Fine Spice is quite an unusual name for a stall selling a variety of fried foods. This is basically like a deep-friend version of your yong tau foo. A plate of bee hoon costs just $0.50, and is a lovely addition to your fried platter. The squid and water chestnut is especially delicious. However, it can be pretty expensive, for a meal that is not exactly very filling. Also, health-conscious people should stay as far away from this as possible. The bee hoon literally drips with oil. The fried foods, though, aren't that oily as they are deep-fried (oh, the irony of this statement). Anyway, this is good for a once-in-a-while treat or cheat meal.
Zhong Zhong Fine Spice: #02-149
Barbecued foods/Tze char
There are about three stalls selling barbecued foods/tze char items here. Ah Poh BBQ Seafood has one of the better ones. The Sambal Sting-ray is absolutely delicious, and is the most popular item there. The rest are pretty ordinary actually, with the usual cereal prawns and la la. However, do give them a try for the Sambal Sting-ray. The sambal is shiok-er than the other stalls, and that's what gives the dish its kick!
Ah Poh BBQ Seafood: #02-119/120
Popiah
There are two popiah stalls in Bukit Timah Food Centre, one selling both popiah and rojak and the other selling only popiah. It should be quite obvious which is the better stall (the one selling only popiah, duh!). It is called Xiang Ji Popiah. Its signboard says it also sells nasi lemak etc. but it doesn't, really. Oh, it sells kueh pie tee too but seeing as its practically like popiah and both stalls sell it, that isn't a big factor here. I prefer Xiang Ji popiah over the other stall as it does not use garlic, for one. Garlic causes you to have terrible breath afterward and is also not very pleasant to chew on (IMO). Also, Xiang Ji's popiah skin is much thinner and has the feeling of a Vietnamese spring roll, unlike the other stall's tortilla-wrap-like popiah skin.
popiah-3.jpg
Xiang Ji : #02-167
Ann Le Xiang Rojak: #02-152 (the rival stall) ((that its name is "rojak" should ring warning bells already))
Char Kway Tiao (Fried rice noodles)
There are stalls selling both the Singaporean version and the Penang version of the fried rice noodles. I personally prefer the Penang version as it is less sweet and less oily. However, if you crave the Singaporean rendition of it, I recommend you to try . As for the Penang version, 133 Penang Authentic is the stall to go to. They sell prawn noodles as well, but their char kway tiao is much, much better. It is not dry, without being wet and soggy as well. The cook is generous with his ingredients, and you may find a handful of cockles and prawns in your plate of char kway tiao, all for less than $5!
Penang char kway tiao
133 Penang Authentic: #02-193
Kway Chap
This is more of a breakfast item, as the stall selling the best kway chap here is only open for business in the mornings, and sometimes during lunch hour. Expect long queues in the morning, particularly on weekends. I am not a fan of any animal organ-related foods, but my parents love it, and there is always a long queue in front of the stall, so I will trust that this stall has the better kway chap of the few in the same market.
kway-chup.jpg
138 Kway Chap Porridge: #02-138
Fish soup
With newspaper cuttings all over, one fish soup stall certainly stands out from the others. It does not help that the other stalls are all tucked in obscure corners of the market, whilst this one is facing the main road, in full view of all patrons. This "superstar" stall is Quan Xiang Fish Porridge. Yes, they did use to serve really delicious fish soup, and they still do! However, now they are cutting costs like never before. Each bowl of fish soup contains five to ten small slivers of sliced fish, which is barely enough to satisfy a person. Thus, I would not recommend you to try the fish soup at Quan Xiang, unless you have a small appetite or enjoy getting ripped off. The other fish soup stalls serve a decent bowl of fish soup as well, with chock full of fish in it, so my advice would be to give them a try instead!
Quan Xiang Fish Porridge: #02-146
Leng Kee: #02-192 (pretty good fish soup as well)
Soon Heng: #02-139
Beef noodles
There is only one stall which sells beef noodles here, as far as I know. And by "selling beef noodles", I mean full-fledged dedication to beef. Tip Top Beef Brisket is run by an elderly lady who shows care and concern to every one of her customers, telling them to "be careful" or "remember to carry an umbrella" in a gentle, grandmotherly tone. How nice. :-) Her beef brisket is excellent to boot. It contains little fat and tendon, unlike most other beef briskets. The soup stock is also flavourful, thanks to the chunks of beef being slow-broiled in it. I love that it doesn't feel too jelat but also makes for a healthy meal!
Tip Top Beef Brisket: #02-140
So, that's all for now! These are the few stalls that are really worth the attention when visiting Bukit Timah Food Centre. It can be very confusing and intimidation for the uninitiated, since there are food stalls everywhere claiming to sell the most delicious (___)! I hope this guide will help you navigate your way through the food centre to discover the gems of Bukit Timah Food Centre. :-) If you have any comments/feedback/suggestions of places I may have missed out or given an unfair review to, do leave a reply to this post! (it's right at the top of the post, hehe)