Saturday, August 27, 2016

Punggol SAFRA Manekineko Karaoke - Differences from Bugis Plus @ Singapore (Next to Sam Kee LRT Station)

I wasn't intending to take out my DSLR at the Manekineko Karaoke branch at Punggol Safra since the karaoke chain had already appeared in this blog and i figured the respective branches would not deviate much.

Obviously, i was wrong as the Bugis Plus branch seemed to lack a lot of things; either that or my mind was alert enough to notice the anomalies at the Punggol Safra outlet. To make it easier for you, do read the post on Bugis Plus before you proceed further as it contained vital information, especially on the use of phone app to choose and select the songs to sing. Click here.

First deviation from Bugis Plus - i was greeted cheerfully by the Malay staff (the lady at Bugis + wasn't rude, just stone-faced without expression) and you know what, it does make a difference early in the morning.

Cute displays of fortune-beckoning cat statues at the counter - as i erroneously thought and had henceforth corrected, Manekineko wasn't a unique concept by KBox. According to the straits times article, KBox was in fact bought over by one of Japan's biggest KTV chain!

There wasn't a prize but you can still take the props available next to the counter and pose with them! Tag #manekinekosg for the fun for it. As the company is still new to the Singapore operations, there could be surprises waiting for you!

To strike a pose, you need more than just the props; just go to the walls as some of them already had gigantic stickers of the smiley felines.

As mentioned in the Bugis Plus post, i felt that the Manekineko KTV's concept was more family oriented and entry for kids was allowed as evidenced by the above; kids below 90 centimeters sing for free! Disclaimer for viewer discretion was pasted on the wall as some music videos, like Wrecking Ball, may be too raunchy for young children.

Drink Bar - again, this was different from Bugis Plus. Aside from the usual drinks and snacks, you have a soft serve ice cream machine that dispensed vanilla ice cream (no toppings though)! Furthermore, there's a sink to wash my mug in case i want to switch from coke to hot green tea!

That's not all; there's even a healthy drink dispenser that offered customers free flow organic soya drink, yam soya beverage and macha latte!

Room 3 - for the three of us; spacious to the max! At one point, Joyce was literally lying on the couch while straining to hit the pitches of a song.

Remember i was complaining about the distance of the charging point? This was at the couch which was convenient and not only that; you can actually borrow the charger from the counter staff using your identity card. In case you feel cold and forgot to bring a sweater, blankets can also be signed out from the counter.

Floor plan - i was looking at this and noticed that Room 1 and 2 didn't seem the same as the rest. As Room 3 was just right opposite, i popped in to Room 1 out of curiosity.

Right side wouldn't have surprised me but the left side was another story as it was clearly segregated with an item that was the norm in my house when Jovyn was staying with us at my parents' place.

Foam mats for the safety of your young kids and it came with a bowling set and LEGO-type tiles! Pity Manekineko didn't have a slide and ball pool; if they have, i would gladly pay for Jovyn and Jerald (both are above 90 cm) to join us!

You know what's another advantage of Safra Punggol Manekineko? Safra / HomeTeam members get an additional 15% discount; do note that it is not applicable on public holidays and eve of public holidays.

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Location
9 Sentul Crescent,
#05-02, Punggol Safra,
Singapore 828654

Map
As above.

Nearest MRT / BTS Station
Take to Punggol MRT station and transfer to Sam Kee station. Punggol Safra is just right across the road. As there is no shelter, bring along a brolly. If bad luck is on your side, dash across the road (please be careful of traffic on the road) as the distance isn't far! 

Reservation
Call +6563873113

Facebook Page


Website


Price List
As above. Pricing was almost the same; for daytime (11am to 7pm) on Saturdays and Sundays, the rate per person was S$20 NETT. At Bugis Plus, the same slot would cost S$23 NETT! Another reason why i should continue to patron the Punggol SAFRA branch! 

An Evening Walk along Cannon Street and Street of Harmony @ George Town, Penang [Malaysia]

7.30pm - the street lights were already switched on yet the sky had not gone back to its daily slumber. This, however, couldn't hide the fact that we were hungry and the most straightforward way for us to get to the Esplanade hawker centre, according to the map, was up Lebuh Cannon!

Right opposite the street was the Acheen Street Malay Mosque (Masjid Melayu Lebuh Acheh) - built in 1808 by an Acehnese merchant prince, i just read from the information plaque that it houses a cemetery too!

Drawn on a wall next to the mosque - this amateur pencil drawing in the likeness of the mosque's minaret might likely be considered as vandalism in Singapore, an offense that will result in cane and / or jail. My personal take is that it adds to the charm of the area.

To draw comparison, i like that pencil drawing a whole lot more than the above purpose-built cat made of likely recycled materials.

Cannon street - the origin of the name wasn't because there's a famous ang moh with the family name of Cannon. It was named because cannons were fired to suppress a riot; resulting in a big hole (no thank to the cannon) in the middle of the street.

Here we go; down the street that's less than a hundred meters long! From the above photograph, in the middle, you should be able to see a red signage; that's where the cannon street ends.

Despite its unimpressive length, this was the place where i caught my first street art in Penang and there were ample photo opportunities along the street!

An ice ball would be boring compared to the dragon ice ball! The shop was already closed for the day but i would have gone for its signature ice ball with ice cream inside.

Cat n Dog shop - guess this would either be a pet shop or a shop that sells accessories with the images of dogs / cats for crazy dog / cat lovers.

Owl shop - closed too as we were rather late in our walk; i can only imagine so much on what's within although i doubt it would be an owl cafe with live owls.

Like the tongue-in-cheek use of outstanding and the painting of the owls! The cat n dog shop next door had the image of an adorable cat on a real dangling swing.

Cafe on number 1, cannon street; it didn't appear to be Halal and variety was limited; hence, we gave it a miss. I am curious about the skewered fruits with prawn paste unless the prawn paste refers to those used in rojak.

We have come to the end of Cannon Street; those interested in street art should check out the Armenian Street to the right of Cannon Street. As our stomachs were in need of energy, i guess i have to give it a miss for the day.

Yap Temple (Choo Chay Keong aka 慈濟宮) - standing in stark contrast to western-style building next day, this temple honours the yap clan patron deity. To read more, visit here.

Humongous squirrel peering from a hole in the wall - thankfully, this is only a painting although i couldn't help noticing how sharp the nails were! Can you imagine if something that has been small all your life turns big all of a sudden? It's a reverse of a role between a predator and prey.

Masjid Kapitan Keling - a mosque for the Muslim Indians that was built in the early 19th century; noted the use of Keling which is now considered an offensive term to label an Indian.

Some Indians may be Hindu and there's of course a Hindu temple!

Stalls selling flower garlands for the deities. The strange thing is that even though the shops are rather near the Hindi temple, their location is still not as close.

Right next to the row of flower stalls is the Kuan Im Teng, said to be the busiest temple at Georgetown with a history that spans a few centuries. Typically, we don't offer flower garlands in Chinese temples but there's no way for me to confirm as the temple was closed, as expected.

St. George's Church - built in 1819 (the year that Singapore is founded by Sir Stamford Raffles), this falls under the Anglican denomination and was a radiant beauty at night!

In this post, after my mention on Cannon Street, there were two Chinese temples, one Indian temple, one mosque and a church; comprising four major religions of Malaysia. The road is therefore also known by another name; the Street of Harmony.

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Location
Within George Town,
Penang Island, Malaysia

Map
As above


Friday, August 26, 2016

Penang Style Fruit Rojak @ 101 Rojak (舊關仔角美食廣場 / Kompleks Makanan Medan Renong Padang Kota Lama) [Penang, Malaysia]

Singaporeans would feel totally at ease in this hawker centre known as a mouthful Kompleks Makanan Medan Renong Padang Kota Lama as it reminded me so much of the ones we have back home! 

There were plenty of stalls but i wasn't THAT hungry and hence, decided to go with the one selling Chinese salad, also known as rojak! p.s. the word salad was loosely used here as the dish definitely wouldn't help you in your weight loss. 

Now, Penang rojak was famous for its high ratio of fruits and even though this might increase its marks in the "healthy" category, the corresponding higher ratio in sourness might not be suitable for everyone. I am a classic example as i have always believed that "healthy" food is seldom mind-blowing good. 

It didn't take too long for the stall owner to prepare the rojak - ingredients were prepared beforehand and they just need to put them on the plate and instead of mixing (usually the case in Singapore), the sauce was just poured over the ingredients and topped further with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts! 

Verdict - it was okay and the sauce was actually quite palatable; albeit on the sweet rather than aromatic, robust side. The crullers (youtiao) appeared to be double fried; super crispy which means it couldn't absorb the rojak sauce! Love the addition of squid though! 

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Location
Kompleks Makanan Medan Renong Padang Kota Lama,
Near War Memorial at Esplanade, Penang

Price
Rojak - RM 8
(Price ranges from RM 3 - 15)


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Little Vietnam Restaurant and Cafe @ Grandlink Square (Near Paya Lebar MRT Station) [Singapore]

Drive along Guillemard Road towards Paya Lebar Road in the evening from Tuesdays to Sundays and you will not miss the Grandlink Square building, with alfresco seating, on your left.

I wanted to try the Little Vietnam Restaurant and Cafe on quite a number of occasions as i did notice it was often packed with people but other familiar restaurants like Mini Star Stinky Tofu, Arnolds Chicken, Putu Piring etc often drew me away!

It's procrastination no more! For those who prefer air-conditioned seating can opt for the indoor seating although we chose the alfresco seating as it was rather windy that evening. Don't worry too much about the ordering so long you command a bit of Mandarin as the waitresses there spoke fantastic Mandarin!

Cha Gio
Food time and never ask me the pronunciation; i already have difficulty with English and i bet i wouldn't perform too well in other languages. Anyway, i prefer Chinese deep fried spring rolls over the Vietnamese version as the "skin" tends to be thinner. The filling encased (marinated chicken and vegetables) within was okay tasting and would benefit from a dip (thai chilli sauce dip for example).

Tamarind Juice
This unique drink was expectedly sourish with peanut bits that added a nice nutty crunch; do remember to give it a stir but the many pieces of ice would likely make it difficult to thoroughly mix the content.

Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong
The dry noodles i would order every time i am having Vietnamese cuisine; for this particular dish, it's listed on the menu as grilled pork chop and fried spring rolls on fresh vegetables and rice vermicelli.

Down the sauce that accompanied the noodles, give the noodles a few good flips and they are ready for the stomach! Bad thing first; the grilled pork was too tough for my liking and i could only thank the fats surrounding the meat for adding delectable juice that improved the flavour. My taste buds can discern a strong dosage of fish sauce although it served only to intensify the robustness of the blended sauce!

In all, this wasn't as delicious as the ones i had from Wrap & Roll; however, i can sense its authenticity that has no doubt attracted scores of Vietnamese living in Singapore to make a beeline for the food at Little Vietnam. Another factor was of course the attractive pricing that was much lower than its competitors in the little red dot.  

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Location
511 Guillemard Road, #01-25,
Grandlink Square, Singapore 399849

Map
As above (near Paya Lebar MRT station and next to City Plaza)

Opening Hours
12pm to 11.30pm (last order at 10.30pm)
Closed on Mondays

Facebook Page

Pricing
Cha Gio - S$5.00
Tamarind Juice - Forgot to take picture of menu! 
Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong - S$7.00
(No GST, No Service Charge, Cash Only)

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