Saturday, 12 August 2017

Hanoi - 4 Days 3 Night Adventure (Part 1)

This is an exciting experience as it is Chubby Botak Koala and Little Devil first visit to Vietnam. We picked Hanoi since it comes highly recommended from our Vietnamese friends. The city itself is more than 1,000 years old, so you can expect a vibrant and charming historical city.

Slik Air travel twice daily to and from Hanoi

Our first trip to Hanoi, we decided to travel with Silk Air @ S$250 per person. For a full-service airlines, the price is pretty good. Silk Air flight 2 times per day to Hanoi. Flight time Singapore to Hanoi is about 3 hours and 25 minutes.

Day 1. Arrival & Dinner.

We reach Hanoi around 6pm. Comparing to the other ASEAN countries, Noi Bai International Airport is very clean and modern , and the process through immigration was also breeze. As we booked our package through travel agent in Hanoi, recommended by a friend, which include Airport pick up and drop off.

You can purchase SIM Card in Noi Bai International Airport. We bought SIM VINA GCS for US$15.00. It has 8GB of data, 80 mins of local call, 80 local SMS, and 50 mins of IDD. The speed is very good and sufficient to cover the data for our stay in Hanoi and for 2 person to share. Please note that there is no special roaming package for Singapore SIM Card here.

Nhat Tan Bridge at night
 Image credit Phillips /

Old Quarters. The heartbeat of the historical city of Hanoi. The area that is alive during day and night, without a doubt one of the best place to stay to have a good feel of the vibrant of Hanoi. Travel time from Noi Bai International Airport is about 30 minutes. We were fortunate to arrive in the evening, as we passed by the beautifully lighted Nhat Tan Bridge. 

Accomodation is L'Heritage Hotel. (39-41 Hang Ga Street, Hoan Kiem District HANOI)
This hotel seems to get one of the highest ratings in the hotel website and located within the vicinity of old quarters. We secure it for US$71 per night for Executive Double Room, with a city view. Nice Hotel with friendly price and it also came with a jacuzzi.

L'Heritage Hotel at Old Quarters Hanoi

Dinner, Cha Ca Thang Long. One of the signature dish in Hanoi and was named one of the dishes that you must eat before you die. Also known as the rite of passage if you ever visit Hanoi. It is a catfish dish, marinated with turmeric and cooked with spring onion and dill. The meat is fatty and flaky, absent of traces of mud due to the turmeric marination. This dish is to be eaten with rice noodle, fresh leaves of mint, basil and coriander, peanut and fish sauce. Absolutely delicious and a must try dish in Hanoi. There are other restaurants that sell this dish, but this one seems to be one of the best in Hanoi plus it is the most reasonably priced.

The Marinated Catfish

Spring Onion & Dill added, cooked on the table

The condiments to eat the dish with

Ready to Eat

Cha Ca Thang Long
19,21,31,2D Duong Thanh
Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
T: +844 3 8286007

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Jiakpalang – Zi Char Inspired Modern Singapore Cuisine [MEDIA INVITE]

Jiakpalang is a Hokkien word referring to a person that ate to his fill. Not a Hokkien myself, I just find the restaurant name to be catchy.

Jiakpalang Eating House - Storefront

Jiakpalang Eating House is the latest venture by Executive Chef Nixon Low. A home-grown Singaporean Chef who has cut his teeth in the top fine dining restaurants and elevate the reputation of Portico Group. The first time I saw Chef Nixon Low, I compare him to Chef Robert Irvine from Food Network due to his muscular build.

The buzzing drink counter

Inspired by the local flavours he grew up with and enjoy, Jiakpalang is showcasing Chef Nixon creativity in blending local flavours with modern cooking technique. Known as Modern Singapore cuisine.

Thai Ice Lemon Tea

In the afternoon, Jiakpalang served a one bowl meal like Signature Sesame Soy chicken ($6.90). It is brown rice topped with sous vide chicken breast, with sesame soy dressing and woodear mushrooms. Well to make it more 'atas' there is fresh pomegranate, an onsen egg and steamed vegetables, to sum it up deliciously healthy version of Singapore “Chap Chye Peng” mixed vegtable rice. It is definitely value for money and no wonder the office crowd flocking Jiakpalang during their lunch hour.

Signature Sesame Soy chicken

From 1st week of August, Jiakpalang has commenced their dinner service. We sampled the Appetizers of Silken Tofu, Century Egg Sauce, Tobiko ($7) and Sour Plum Vine Tomatoes, Seaweed (v)($7). The chilled silken tofu is smooth and creamy, topped with creamy finely chopped century egg sauce. Tobiko adds crunchy popping texture with salty flavour to this dish. The chopped pickled ginger balance this dish nicely and remove any jelakness that you can have with the century egg.

Silken Tofu, Century Egg Sauce, Tobiko

Sour Plum Vine Tomatoes are marinated for 24 hours with tomatoes, sour plum, sugar, salt and pepper. This marination seems to intensify the flavour of the tomato. Since the dish is served chilled with seaweed salad and roasted sesame sauce, it tasted tangy and refreshing at the same time. A good dish that wakes up your appetite in anticipation of what comes next.

Sour Plum Vine Tomatoes, Seaweed

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

True Malaysian Hospitality through Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines
Image Credit:

A winner of Skytrax World Airline Award as a 5-star airline in 2012 and 2013 as well as the World’s Best Cabin Staff Award also by Skytrax 7 out of 11 times since 2001, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has always been a darling of many travellers.

Not just for the comfortable aircraft and mouth-watering food onboard but for their exemplary service and hospitality which is now famously known all around the world as “Malaysian Hospitality” - a play on the MH code of the national carrier.

Malaysia Airlines’ main goal is to create memorable experiences that goes beyond airline travel for everyone and to inspire them to see the world differently.

Let me share my take on Malaysian Hospitality during my flight to Melbourne from Kuala Lumpur last month which was booked via Traveloka Malaysia. Fun tip, you can get a pretty good MAS online promotion with Traveloka.

Warm Welcome
Nothing reassured me more on my 8-hour flight than the genuine smiles plastered across the faces of the cabin crew as passengers were boarding. The warm “Welcome Aboard” or in the local Malay greeting, “Selamat Datang” filled up the cabin during boarding.  

Malaysia Airlines Cabin Crew
Image Credit:

Tickets were checked one-by-one at the door for the crew to direct passengers to their respective seats. The elderly and adults with infants were given significant attention as they were escorted and assisted by the crew to their seats. A common sight to be smiled upon over and over while travelling with Malaysia Airlines.

Excellent Service
I was seated in the Economy class and the meal service began its course. Children and those with special meal request were given priority to be served first. I admired how the crew interacted with children from my observation at the row next to it, giving the little ones a sense of comfort in the flight.

Economy Seat
Image Credit: Malaysia Airlines

Moments later, the serving steward was ready to serve my row and he read out the available meals for the day. I didn’t quite catch the menu and had to ask him to repeat. I honestly felt bad for wasting his time to repeat but he gladly did it with a smile.

After meal, the crew made a quick second round of drinks. When a particular drink on the cart ran out, they would immediately rush to the galley or had their colleagues to help replenish so that passengers were able get what they wanted. At the same time, crew were also collecting finished trays as quickly to allow passengers to unwind.

The Extra Mile
The lights slowly dimmed and seats were being reclined. I didn’t take my rest immediately but instead, indulged in some movies on the inflight entertainment system.  

Business Class Seat
Image Credit: Malaysia Airlines

Moments later, the serving steward was ready to serve my row and he read out the available meals for the day. I didn’t quite catch the menu and had to ask him to repeat. I honestly felt bad for wasting his time to repeat but he gladly did it with a smile.

After meal, the crew made a quick second round of drinks. When a particular drink on the cart ran out, they would immediately rush to the galley or had their colleagues to help replenish so that passengers were able get what they wanted. At the same time, crew were also collecting finished trays as quickly to allow passengers to unwind.

The Extra Mile
The lights slowly dimmed and seats were being reclined. I didn’t take my rest immediately but instead, indulged in some movies on the inflight entertainment system.

As a stewardess was making her rounds to check on passengers, she noticed I was still awake. She approached me and asked if I wanted any more drinks or peanuts. I told her I was all good.

A few good minutes later, I was taken completely by surprise when she returned with a few packets of peanuts and a cup of orange juice. To quote the pleasant stewardess, “in case you feel like munching on something while enjoying your X-Men movie.” I was touched with the thoughtful gesture and gave her a heartfelt thank you.

The crew took turns in making their rounds to make sure all passengers including children and infants were feeling cosy in their seats. Children who were still awake could get bored easily so the crew handed them some activity books or games to keep them occupied.

I was still awake when I noticed a steward assisting an elderly man (who I assumed was travelling alone) to get up to go to the lavatory. The steward kindly led the man all the way and even waited for the man to finish then led him back to his seat, reassured the man that the crew was just a button away if he needs any assistance.

The crew also went the extra mile to ask mothers with infants if they needed help although they weren’t travelling alone, which I thought was extremely courteous.

These were the faces of Malaysia Airlines who went to great lengths to ensure passengers like me had a safe and smooth-sailing journey to my final destination.

This post is brought to you by Robert Lee

Monday, 31 July 2017

Gu Cheng – Penang's Food Family Recipe [MEDIA INVITE]

Gu Cheng Singapore

Penang, Malaysia, a heritage city renowned for its delicious local food. When you ask the local where to “jiak” in Penang, the list will more likely to be a mile long. My multiple visits to Penang also never absent of a good chow there. So when there is a tasting of Penang Food, I did not hesitate to say YES.

Prawn Paste Chicken

Gu Cheng is a new family cafe serving Penang food recently open at Crawford Lane, across Textile Centre. The recipes are based on the Cindy's (the owner) family recipe. To ensure the kitchen churned out the home flavours, Cindy's Mother is the appointed Chief Quality Controller.

Crispy Tofu

We started with Penang Laksa ($7.80) & Penang Hokkien Mee ($8.80). Penang Laksa is also known as Asam Laksa. It is a combination of tangy and spicy flavours that perk up this dish. The broth of the laksa has that touch of spiciness and tanginess, which entice your appetite. Gu Cheng's recipe uses combination of mackerel and sardine, so you can taste two different flavours in the fish. They are not stingy with the fish, so you can taste it in every scoop of the broth. I only wish that there is more “heh ko sauce” (sweetened prawn paste) to give it more Omph!!

Penang Laksa

Penang Laksa
Hand Model: Purple Taste

Friday, 28 July 2017

AquaMarine – Celebrating Singapore 52th Birthday [MEDIA INVITE]

Roasted Whole Lamb Leg

Marina Mandarin Singapore is celebrating Singapore's 52nd Birthday by bringing you the contemporary local favourites, with a twist. This special dishes will be available from 1st August to 9th August 2017.

Highlights of the sumptuous Halal-certified buffet spread are:

Singapore Chilli Softshell Crab. This is one type of Chilli Crab where your hands will remain clean after eating it. The sauce is tangy, creamy with a subtle kick of spiciness. The softshell crab has a crispy exterior with juicy flesh. Don't miss out on the fried bun, this will help you to polish up the delicious sauce.

Singapore Chilli Softshell Crab

Wagyu Beef Short Rib ‘Satay’. Wagyu Beef Short Rib marinated with satay seasoning, sous vide, then into the oven. It is tender and succulent, with a slight chewiness from the tendon around the short rib. Top it up with the homemade peanut gravy, you have the luxurious version of beef satay.

Wagyu Beef Short Rib ‘Satay’

Wagyu Beef Short Rib ‘Satay’

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Cafe De Hong Kong – Original Hong Kong Flavours in Singapore

Cafe De Hong Kong

Cafe De Hong Kong ('CDHK') is a hidden restaurant along Balestier Road in Singapore that served Hong Kong style Ci Zhar. The cuisine here represent the items that you can find in any typical restaurants in Hong Kong. In case you are thinking of Xin Wang or other HongKong cafe, they served different types of food.

LD and I have patronised CDHK regularly and it has become our must go-to restaurant if we are looking for comfort food. It is those dishes that we had in Melbourne during our uni days.

Deep Fried Luncheon Meat Chip

Soup is basically a must have for Cantonese and Hong Kong cuisine. In CDHK you should not miss out on their double-boiled soup of the day. Our last visit here, we had their Winter Melon Soup ($35). A good portion good for 6 to 8 pax. The soup is double boiled inside the winter melon. The broth is sweet and robust, good to warm up your stomach. They also have a smaller portion, just check with the service staff.

Winter Melon Soup 

Winter Melon Soup 

Roasted Chicken ($34) is one of the signature dishes here. It is tender, succulent and the best part is the skin. It is paper thin and crisp. Absolutely delicious. To save on cooking time, you might want to order this during reservation.

Roast Chicken

If you prefer something more traditional, order the Claypot Chicken with Salted Fish and Tofu ($18 for Large). This dish is not on the menu however you can place the order with the boss, Francis. The combination of salted fish and au jus of the chicken will whet your appetite, while the tofu just absorbs the flavour nicely. A good dish to go with rice.

Claypot Chicken with Salted Fish and Tofu

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Jamie's Italian Forum – An Evening at Jamie

Looking for kids friendly dining destination for a group of 18 pax is definitely not an easy task. If you do have this dilemma, you definitely must consider Jamie's Italian at Forum.

The Front of Jamie's Italian at Forum

In case you have been living under a rock or somewhere in the jungle of Borneo, Jamie Oliver might sound alien to you. In summary, he is a British Celebrity Chef, author of numerous cook books, plus TV shows, activist who loved Italian Food. Jamie's restaurants always focused on natural and healthy ingredients, with simple cooking method. Jamie's Italian at Forum is the second franchise in Singapore.

Table Setting with Mango & Orange Fresh Smoothies ($8.50)

While waiting for the everyone to arrive, LD and I ordered Salumi Crostini ($15). Salumi means different type of salami / Italian cured meat. Crispy bread with buffalo ricotta, crispy salumi and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Crispy, creamy, sweet, with subtle acidity just make a perfect entrée. A good start to tease the palate.

Salumi Crostini

If you are an olive fan, you might want to try their World's Best Olive ($8.50). Consist of large green olives, with black olives and sun-dried tomatoes tapenade & crispy music bread. I am definitely not a fan of black olive, but I discover green olive is easy to like. Crunchy, refreshing with a touch of delicate sourness almost like a gherkin.

World's Best Olive

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Singaporean Florist That Changed the Game

It seems impossible to make blooms more beautiful than they already are, in their sole existence as such, but it actually is. A Better Florist is a florist in Singapore that have taken the floristry scene seriously and they are producing some real attention-grabbers in their flower shop.

They are the perfect combination of skills and talent, which they have mastered to the core, and their flower designs are a clear reflection of that. As you would expect from their name, they offer flowers that stand out, are always fresh and their bouquets and arrangements are on a whole other level of creativity.

The standards are high, but the prices are low, which plays a significant role, as once you set your eyes on these blooms, you’ll want to have them in your possession as often as possible.

A Better Florists designs indeed stand out, but if their selection isn’t enough for you, you’re also able to request custom-designed bouquets, that are going to be crafted with ‘you’ in mind only. Her Flowers is another flower shop, owned by the same team that has a different variety of bouquets and arrangements making sure that you’re good to go, no matter what your flower preferences are.

They are ideal for any occasion and not just Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. Their philosophy promotes gifting flowers for no reason at all, which I applaud. This means, you’re spreading happiness and positivity with flowers, which is what flowers are really about.

A Better Florist delivers all around Singapore, but recently their flowers have reached larger distances. In fact, they know have flower shops in Hong Kong and Dubai as well. After the huge success in Singapore, it was only a matter of time when the rest of the world would want a piece of them for themselves. After they’ve made it to the list of ten best florists in Singapore, it was no surprise that they were able to make the list of top ten florists in Hong Kong as well.

The website is really easy to use, as you’re able to make a purchase via your computer or mobile phone, within only a few clicks. Perfect for everyone who’s on the go, but still wants a special token of appreciation for their loved ones. They even deliver flowers within 90 minutes, on the same day, which is quite impressive.

Overall, A Better Florist is definitively a game-changer and worth looking into. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you step into their bloom world. 

This post is brought to you by Elma Humpries

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Teppan Bar Q – Scintillating Teppanyaki Experience [MEDIA INVITE]

Teppan Bar Q

Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cooking using iron griddle. Having Teppanyaki is not just about the food, it is about the experience being entertained by Teppanyaki Master Chef. Seating in front of the iron griddle, looking straight at the Chef preparing your food, is one of the most memorable Chef's table experience you can have.

The Centre Stage

Teppan Bar Q by Torikin is originated from Hakata, also known as the birth place of Ramen. In Hakata, Teppan Bar Q has many sister restaurants specialising in different type of Japanese cuisine. To ensure Teppan Bar Q quality remain up to standard, Chef Ishida visits Singapore regularly and we have the pleasure to taste his cooking that night.

The Wall Decor

Squid with Pesto ($12) kick start the evening. Serve in small plate like Japanese version of Tapas. Springy yet succulent squid, served with creamy mild pesto sauce. The salty and sour taste of the olives provided contrasting flavour in this dish. Hidden under the squid is grilled potatoes to add starch or carbo to this dish. A good start to the meal.

Squid with Pesto

Tonpei Yaki ($17). Tonpei Yaki is Japanese omelet filled with cabbage and pork. It is bold combination of sweet and savoury, topped with bonito flakes. Though the fillings are juicy and succulent, the sauce just covered the original taste of the ingredients. An interesting dish, but not to my liking.

Tonpei Yaki

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Kwee Zeen – French Rotisserie Buffet Nights [MEDIA INVITE]

Kwee Zeen @ Sofitel Singapore Sentosa

Sofitel Singapore Sentosa is one of the resorts located on Sentosa Island. Blending intricate French design with Singapore's colonial heritage plus the panoramic view of South China Sea, you can look forward to memorable stay in this resort.

Pool View from Outdoor Seating

Kwee Zeen is one of the four dining choices in Sofitel Sentosa Singapore. It focuses on pan-Asian specialities and classic French cuisine. Kwee Zeen opens 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. From Monday to Wednesday, it is ala carte. Thursday is ala carte plus the option of Cheese Rendezvous. Friday to Sunday will feature the French Rotisserie Buffet.

Traditional Coffee Machine

Check out the video below for the highlights of the French Rotisserie Buffet.