Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tony Roma's Unforgettable Carolina Honeys Ribs @ Orchard Central [Singapore]

My mum had been to Tony Roma's twice whereas her gluttonous son (as in me) had never stepped foot into the international establishment famous for its ribs until two weeks ago!

Don't ask me why i took so long because i seriously have no idea; the motivation to patronise Tony Roma's wasn't strong then. Anyway, special thanks to my younger sister who finally allowed me to tag along for dinner together with my mom (yes, her third visit) at Orchard Central.

After our orders were taken by an extremely accommodating waitress, a complimentary serving of butter and freshly toasted French loaf was placed on our table; just right as i was in severe need for some food.

Tony Sampler
If i couldn't decide what to have for appetiser as everything looks good, i would opt for a sampler if it is available and in this case, they were the spicy BBQ Boneless Bites, Spinach Artichoke Dip and Half Onion Loaf!

Boneless bites were too spicy for me and reminded me of buffalo wings; albeit a less memorable version. The onion loaf was amazingly nice; a thin, light batter encapsulated each piece of onion ring and the natural sweetness of onions burst as my teeth sank through its crispy skin.

The spinach artichoke dip came with nacho chips and despite its vomit-like appearance, was a surprise hit on our table! It was cheesy, it was creamy and excellent with nacho chips; this is coming from a guy who has no affection for nachos!

And i think we managed to clean up the entire dip!

The Roma Feast
Dishes with more variety usually attract my attention and there's a higher chance i might place an order for it. This was no exception and the Roma Feast consisted of Carolina Honeys Ribs, Grilled Sausage, BBQ Chicken, Coleslaw and Corn on the Cob.

Chicken was tender even though it could benefit from a sweeter marination while the sausage was grilled just right for that soft, yummy texture! Coleslaw had a special favour that seemed familiar yet i couldn't pinpoint what it was! Blame it on ageing!

For something so simple, the corn cob was a major disappointment; they had too much water content, resulting in soft and mushy corns that were almost tasteless.

The star of the show - the char-grilled ribs were so, so good. There was a sweet, smokey tinge to the meat that slipped off easily from the bone and the marination was simply put, perfect. Don't you think that in many restaurants, BBQ ribs were over-marinated and the taste eventually got too overbearing! Whatever the case, how i wish i could exchange the corn cobs for a bigger serving of Caroline Honeys Ribs!


181 Orchard Road, #07-03,
Orchard Central, Singapore 238896

As above.


Tony Sampler - S$28.90
The Roma Feast - S$60.90
(Subject to GST and Service Charge)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Halfway Down Love Lane @ Penang Georgetown [Malaysia]

Faced with over a hundred pictures to cover day two of the penang trip, i made the decision to break it up into smaller, bite-sized postings so that it's less tedious for me to blog; i did notice that once there were too many photographs, i did tend to share lesser information towards the end as i am just too tired! 

Anyway, this is one of the mini-entries and the reason for putting this out is because i was intrigued with the name of the street that's known officially as Love Lane.

Images of romantic looking houses, beautiful parks and couples walking hand-in-hand came into picture and i couldn't wait to see what lies further down the lane. 

I was mistaken and sorely disappointed; colonial shophouses lined the street as with many other lanes / lebuhs at the UNESCO site and this made me wonder how the name "love name" came about.

Apparently, it was filled with brothels in the past although i read from a blog here that another likelihood was that it's named after a British officer with a family name "love". Sometimes in life, the origins of street / place names can never be confirmed; just like Ang Mo Kio in Singapore. 

Nowadays, Love Lane is better known as the place for B&Bs and heritage themed boutique hotels and there were quite a number along the short street.

This one, called simply by its address of 23 Love Lane, was the most noticeable for its walled compound that made you wonder if it used to house some wealthy merchants or big shot officials. 

Likely a high ranked official. According from the website of 23 Love Lane, it was originally a private residence owned by a European and the buildings were constructed starting from the 1800s! 

Want a cheaper place? Consider the Wan Hai Hotel but do be mindful of this harrowing experience by a female traveller. Click here to check it out!  

Since we already had a hotel to sleep in, it was mostly a look-see-look-see walk for us and we were keener in getting to see the street art supposed to be dotted all over the place at Georgetown heritage district. The above wasn't the straightforward street art i expected. 

The ballet lady dancing on top of the passageway would be the kind of street art we were looking for. For more street art, do check out Armenian Street instead! 


Monday, October 17, 2016

Kusu Island 2016 - An Annual Pilgrimage Visit [龟屿进香] @ Singapore

"Oh ya, this month is the annual pilgrimage to Kusu Island" - a casual sentence made to my mom eventually resulted in me bringing her to the island yesterday, together with Louise and the two brats! 

Took the MRT this time as i no longer have a car! Why? Because i don't have sufficient cash and a favourable debt ratio to service even the certificate of entitlement just to own a bloody car.

Anyway, the pilgrimage this year is until 30 October and you still have two more weekends to play with! If your parents have not been there for a long time, do make an effort to bring them during this period of time as the ferry schedule is much more frequent at an interval of about 30 minutes.

Furthermore, the Marina South Pier is now conveniently served by an MRT station right to its doorstep; like literally as seen in the above picture that was taken when i walked out of Exit B of Marine South Pier MRT station

A dedicated ticketing booth was set up just for the pilgrimage as i believe this is the only season that the tiny isle would experience a spike in visitors! 

Do keep in mind the above; during pilgrimage period, the ferry would not serve Saint John's Island and the stopover at Saint John's Island would be suspended until 30 October when the pilgrimage ends. Want to know what's in St John's Island? Click here

Tickets - S$18 an adult (weekend pricing; weekday pricing is S$16) and S$12 per child. For those who wish to beat the crowd, the earliest ferry departure is from 7.00 am on weekdays and 6.30 am on weekends. Last ferry departs from Marina South Pier at 5.00 pm.

This was taken at 10.00 am and seeing that the queue was still manageable (about one ferry load), we decided to hit the toilets first just in case high tide were to hit us in the bobbling vessel. 

Female washroom had such a long queue; i figured i might be able to squeeze out some time to check out the third level of Marina South Pier where there's a small playground and a deck overlooking the sea.

The number of passengers ballooned when we got back to the queue and this was taken when i am already at the front. Mum was complaining that we should have met at 7 or 8.00 am; hello, it will take a tremendous load of effort for me to wake up so early on a weekend!

Here comes the ferry! 

Uneventful yet boring boat ride that took about twenty minutes and there wasn't an upper deck for me take some decent photographs of Singapore's skyline. 

Now, i am not going to regurgitate everything that i had mentioned back in my 2013 posting on Kusu Island. Hence, if you are looking into more on the history of the island, kindly read this entry here before you proceed any further. 

Done with the 2013 blog post? From this moment on, it shall be picture after picture and maybe peppered with sentences comparing now with three years ago! 

You would have noticed similar backgrounds, photographs but back then, i was using a Nikon D5000 and have since upgraded to D7100; a notch higher though and nowhere near the standard of a full frame camera. 

The wishing well that has that uncanny attraction for young kids who know how to read; how the hell did we know?

Both kids insisted to have coins to throw into the well and you know what the best thing was!? Wishing was the last thing in their minds and in order to make my coins worth their sacrifice, i told them to wish that i would win the TOTO tonight! Just checked; i won not a single cent.

Pictures of the temple; not much change from my 2013 visit

The souvenirs and trinkets stall; this was a much scaled down version compared to 2013 when stalls flanked the passage leading towards to food centre!

There wasn't much to buy in my opinion and you get a better variety in Chinatown. I was however on a lookout for the golden piggy bank i chanced upon three years ago.

Didn't find the pigs even though you can buy TOTO or 4D tickets! This is quite a common practice in Taoist temples and for all you know, the blessing of the deities might just bring you luck! 

The kids were more interested with the "toys" section; as a stingy person, i insisted on not forking out money for overpriced toys / gadgets!  

While my mom busied herself with the prayers in the main temple, we brought the kids to the unprotected Tortoise Sanctuary! One thing i noticed; the number appeared to have dropped and there wasn't even any big-sized tortoise around. 

Jovyn and Jerald are scaredy cats; hence, i don't foresee them getting near to the tortoises. The kids i saw in the Tortoise Sanctuary were pretty well-behaved; no attempt was made to mishandle the tortoises. 

Photograph of the kids with the backdrop of the Singapore's skyline! Now, if you have read through my visit to the island in 2013, you should have noticed a much younger Jovyn in a photo at the same location!

Jovyn has lost some of her chubbiness even though her cuteness and cheerfulness remain. As you can see, she has a bad influence on her brother! 

Mom wasn't done so we proceeded for a climb up to Datok Kong for the Muslim kramats! More information on the kramats can be found here

Reached the top in less than five minutes! 

Stone painted in yellow and with numbers written on it; Chinese are really insane about gambling and 4D is ranked as the most popular lottery in Singapore.

This structure never fails to strike fear in my heart as it just feels structurally unstable and i can dream of myself toppling down the hill should i be unfortunate enough to stand on it when it falls apart.

Ongoing prayers - i am skeptical when it comes to unproven rituals although the Chinese blood in me tells me there's always a what-if and payment, if any, is likely quite nominal. 

But, some things need to work hard for; doubt i can get 5As for my O levels simply by scribbling across the yellow painted rocks!  

I think this devotee must have bought a high stake for the number 2403; if not, why so many incense sticks at an obscure area?! The last time the 4 numbers appeared on 4D was in 2008; got chance got chance! 

One of two lagoons at Kusu Island. I actually brought along a change of clothing but the tide was a bit high and i don't think i can see anything in the water. 

More interested in getting breakfast for my tummy!

There were sufficient tables and chairs and we didn't take long to find an empty one for the five of us. At this time, mom also rejoined us after completing her prayers. 

Price list of the available food and drinks in the food centre for your reference. Prices were on the high side although not at the range for those served in the air conditioned food courts.

As usual, i shall pick the stall with the longest queue!

The one with char kway teow and fried oyster; i was nearing the line when i realised they were two separate stalls and i can actually order fried oyster first. Do try the fried chicken wings; they were delicious with the taste of the irresistible turmeric! 

Like this picture even though i honestly couldn't stand the red / white canopy sheltering the food centre; most photographs turned out to have a reddish tinge that i couldn't remove even with Photoshop.

Fried oyster was nothing to shout about; portion was small for S$5 and the taste was more egg and batter rather than being infused with the natural flavour of oyster.

Char kway teow was another story altogether and i regret for not being able to take a more appetizing photo. It was an old school taste with a decent wok hei that both mum and myself totally enjoyed and it felt like we were brought back to the nostalgic 80s where we had a favourite char kway teow stall at Chong Pang. 

Mum needed time with her hot kopi O and i dragged the kids out for more photo taking! It's rare for me to bring them out nowadays as i no longer have a car and am more satisfied staying at home! 

No, she didn't dare step in! 

More pictures of the kids before they grow up and refuse to be my unpaid models! Kids grow up so fast and in relation, time passes so quickly for us adults! 

Louise tried and failed to get the tortoises to take a bite of the water spinach on her hands! The bunch of water spinach was passed to her by another lady whom i guess didn't have much luck enticing the tortoises too. 

I finally managed to coax her to get into the Tortoise Sanctuary! As the evil uncle, taking a photograph of Jovyn's desperate expression to leave the sanctuary was more important than getting her out. 

This riled me up; purposely taking a tortoise out of the sanctuary and holding it in place so that they can take better photographers! That's no difference from those so-called nature photographers who trapped birds in order to get a clearer shot. I should be ashamed too as i didn't stop them immediately. 

Time to go back and this time, we shall be going into the temple! 

Iconic three-tortoise statue! There were a number of selfie whores and this was the best shot i can get without manhandling those blocking my view. I am, i guess, an ethical photographer. 

Child-bearing tree; not that this tree will bear any kid but for those childless couple, it might be worth a try. Remember the local short form saying: "never try, never know".

More on the temple that honours two main deities; Tua Pek Kong and Guanyin Bodhisattva. Even though belonging to two different religions, such a combination is not uncommon in Singapore. 

On our way again after a toilet break in the temple! 

Kids playing with the bubble wand; nope, i am not so kind to buy the wands from them as I can get one for S$2 at Daiso and this one cost S$5. They focused their efforts on the more generous auntie, my sister Louise.

Queuing at the pier! 

You know how our parents used to tell us to behave before the police catch us? Well, i am doing the same thing to the two brats too even though the fear for the police was nowhere near our level when we were kids!

Sailing off after spending about ninety minutes on Kusu Island; mom's intention was to get out as soon as possible before the queue builds up as she had a massage appointment to keep. *roll eyes*

Last look of Kusu Island. Guess i will only be back a year later! 

Singapore's skyline; the island with the pavilion on the left side is Lazarus Island (connected to Saint John's Island). Close by is also the beach claimed to be the best in Singapore

Pictures of the Singapore's skyline! 

Open deck seating with the kids! It was hot as hell but the sea breeze was comforting enough. Sadly, the kids couldn't stand the heat and left for the air-conditioned seats shortly.

Before then, let's have another Jovyn's comical expression! She's rather good in her exaggerated facial expressions and i wonder who she learned them from....

Surprisingly, no one was smoking. Has there been a rule change or did i confuse myself with my ferry rides to Batam or Bintan Island where i had to inhale second hand smoke on the open deck? 

Massive tanker right next to us! 

Humongous kites at a location i believe to be Marina Barrage; look at that buaya (crocodile) kite that was almost as long as a bus! Maybe i can bring the kids sometimes. On second thought, maybe not as they prefer air-conditioning premises than open spaces. 

Spotted along the seaside; a bunch of friends congregating for a picnic on a weekend. My family used to do that in the past but we figure going out for a meal at a restaurant would be less of a hassle for everyone! 

In just a few moments, we would be stepping on Singapore's mainland. For those who are wondering if you need a passport to access Kusu Island (there were indeed such questions posed to me before), the island belongs to Singapore and just like going to Sentosa Island, you don't need to bring your passport. 


South of Mainland Singapore

Map of Kusu Island
As above.

Easiest Way to Get There
Take the MRT to Marina South Pier MRT station, take Exit B and the Pier would be right in front of you. Parking is available at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre but the charges are exorbitant and you would either need to take a shuttle to Marina South Pier or walk there.

Pilgrimage Season
01 October until 30 October

Pricing Until 30 October 2016
S$18 per adult (weekend / public holiday)
S$16 per adult (weekday)
S$12 per child (age 1 to 12)

Additional Information
For my posting on the pilgrimage made in 2013, please click here

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