Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blog Photographs used for 'Yuan' - A Publication by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations

An A4-sized mailer was addressed to me yesterday by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations. Now, i hardly read Chinese nowadays (except for the evening tabloid) so i absentmindedly thought it must be something i accidentally signed up for when answering a survey. 

Upon tearing the envelope apart, i saw the cover page was showing a topic (Getai) related to a subject i am interested in; the Chinese ghost month! Woah, my luck was not bad; SOMEONE actually knew and sent the publication to me! 

While flipping through the pages, the above photograph caught my attention; the picture of a typical getai audience setup where the front row is always empty looked kind of familiar.... 

Next page - damn, i confirmed i snapped this photograph too! I even mentioned in this very blog that Liu Ling Ling looked very unflattering in that outfit! You may check out the post here

I am credited!!! *happy* Honestly, i have never been convinced of my photo-taking skills but this is indeed a boost to my confidence! 

Thanks for sending the publication to me, Corine! :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Resurfacing of THE Black Carrot Cake [旺記四炒] at Block 156, Yishun Street 11 [Singapore]

I have always lamented the closure of my favourite carrot cake stall at this particular kopitiam in Yishun, especially when my continuous search for one of a comparable standard has been largely unsuccessful.

Hence, you can imagine how delighted i was when i saw the empty stall being taken up once again! It was not managed by the same couple but i figured it was a good omen to have it at the same location on a nice Saturday morning! And given my recent disappointments with black carrot cake, i doubt it can get any worse.

Visually, this is the exact kind of black carrot cake i am always referring too; the darker infusion of black sweet sauce, the oilier shine, the gooey texture and the appearance of little charred bits.

Two things can be improved; uniformity with the dicing (i have always enjoyed smaller pieces) and to be more generous with the eggs (this is easily remedied by requesting for extra eggs; chargeable of course)! 

The feeling i got as i took a spoonful was similar to finding something precious that i lost a long time ago; the sweeter delicious initiation followed by the heavier wok hei flavour that concluded with tiny bursts of salty chai po! 

It wasn't 100% the same as the previous stall even though i can confidently say that as far as flavour is concerned, it was hovering above a comfortable 75%, which is way better than the ones i had in recent times! 

I am so going to have a plate all for myself this Saturday! 

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Location
Block 156, Yishun Street 11,
Within 156 Eating House

Price
Minimum S$2.50 a plate

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Naughty Jovyn!

Complaints from me of my adorable little niece have escalated in recent months; no doubt the effects of her moving along the line to the Monster Three's phase. 

Although i am relentless in my complaints, i am also aware that the balance to my grouches is that i can take a whole bunch of photographs which succinctly reflect the quiet, moody and dark side of Jovyn who is otherwise known to be a jovial kid. 

Her naughtiness can no longer be tolerated! And who else is more suitable but the daddy to act as the absolute disciplinarian!

She expressed her stubborn defiance (the glare by the way, was inherited from her mother) yet at the same time, Jovyn didn't dare to make any movement that could potentially aggravate the situation. 

Thankfully (for her, not us), the stalemate didn't drag for too long.

Awwww so sweet right? However, we must nip her naughtiness in the bud before it grows into a bigger problem as she grows older. Guess it's time to hit the many books i have on canine discipline. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Xue Hua Fei Cheng Tng (雪花飞清汤) @ Chinatown Complex Hawker Centre

Back when i was working in the Agency for Integrated Care at Tanjong Pagar, i was literally pampered with cheap and supposedly good food that was merely a short five-minute walk from my workplace (MND building that is)! 

But, the convenience of such close proximity to the two notable food centres (Maxwell and Amoy for that matter) didn't stop me from venturing further into the Chinatown district where i frequently had lunches at Chinatown Complex hawker centre. 

Two particular stalls had that mystical hold over me; a hold so strong, so addictive that i found it very uneasy if i didn't patronise it at least once a week. One of them was Xue Hua Fei (雪花飞) that has been in operation since 1954; in mandarin, the name is translated as flying snowflakes! 

My walks to Chinatown Complex were mainly conducted under the merciless hot sun for which a sweat-soaked shirt would be the unwanted reward. Hence, what other dessert would be more suitable than a simple bowl of heat-soothing cheng tng!?

By the way (in case you are wondering), the "curse to visit at least once a week" was eventually broken when i resigned and moved out of MND. I went cold turkey for more than a month before driving all the way there to indulge again, together with my dearest mom! 

Just the sheer appearance of ice was already sufficient to cool me down by 49.49%! The broth was a traditional combination of what goes into Cheng Tng and resulted was a clear soup served with only two purposes in mind; to quench your thirst and cool your body.

Made up of typical traditional ingredients (think lotus seeds, white fungus, dried longans), this lacked the luxuries that some other Cheng Tng stalls have offered. Nonetheless, it was purely because of its uncomplicated plainness (and unexcessive sweetness) that got me hooked to it!

This was also one of the rare instances where i am actually loving the flavourful "liao" more than the "tng", especially the burst of good old sweetness whenever i bit into the lotus seeds! The above was the hot version for mom (included so that you can see the ingredients clearer).

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Location
Block 335, Smith Street, 
#02-19, Chinatown Complex Food Centre

Map of the Food Centre
The hawker centre is huge; please refer to the map diligently.

Price
Cheng Tng - S$1.50 a bowl

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Black Carrot Cake from Fu Ming Cooked Food [福明熟食] @ Block 85 Redhill Food Centre

What would you expect when even the grand old master of food blogging, Dr Leslie Tay from ieatishootipost.sg, gave his strong endorsement to this particular carrot cake stall at Redhill Food Centre; noting specifically that the "black carrot cake glistens with a sexy dark appeal"?

Frankly, i expected a lot and was looking forward to breaking my recent bad cycle of hardly impressive black carrot cake from numerous stalls in Singapore. While waiting for the carrot cake to be ready, i had to keep swallowing my saliva; would this be "the one"? 

No, i am afraid it's not. =_=|||

It was comparable with what i had at Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Hawker Centre except that it was saltier and likely to appeal to the elderly generation that makes up a significant population in the redhill estate. Other than that, i am sure this is hardly deserving of the 4.5/5 rating.

Of course, as i have always emphasised, taste differs from one person to another and there's still the remote chance that things would just screw up occasionally. 

As for the "glistening with a sexy dark appeal", i think a picture says a thousand words. I have included two above and you shall make the necessary judgment call.

Thanks.

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Location
Block 85, Redhill Lane,
#01-49, Redhill Food Centre 

Price
Minimum S$2 a serving
I ordered for S$3

Additional Information
Although Fu Ming has the support from ieatishootipost.sg, it was another carrot cake stall within the same food centre that had a longer queue. Guess i have to be back again to try out this 'delicious fried carrot cake'! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saizeriya Restorante E Caffe - As Good As I Remember @ City Square Mall [Singapore]

Craving for specific stuff does encourage me to travel to certain places even though the location might be inconvenient. Without being my usual naggy self, i was actually craving for the mee siam at Royals Cafe last week. 

The branch is no longer there. 
=_=

Mom wasn't that keen to try Italian fusion cuisine at first but was eventually persuaded to enter Saizeriya after walking around the entire shopping mall without any decisive decision! 

It was lunch time yet the restaurant was less than half filled; an uncomfortable scenario that always makes me missed a beat or two. What if the quality has deteriorated and mom would not have enjoyed the food as much as i did in the past?

Thankfully, that was definitely not the case

Baby Octopus Arrabiata 
I have no idea how to eat this as there was no bread, nor pasta or rice in it. And as a soup, it was overly savoury and rich for our palates! It was a pity as the submerged baby octopuses did a great job in releasing their delicious seafoody flavour into the tomato-based soup. A tad too spicy but still manageable for me. 

Paella
Order this plainly because this is most related to the Asian cuisine mom is generally comfortable with and most importantly, she enjoys seafood! 

The taste was a bit too bland for paella and i thought it would be more appropriate for it to be tagged as a cheese baked rice. Nonetheless, mom quite liked the paella despite the cheese (she finds it fattening!) and for only S$6.90 nett; the chef sure was generous with the seafood ingredients! 

US Sirloin
A steak?! Shouldn't i go with more interesting Italian food like risotto, spaghetti etc?! I did mention at the beginning of the post that when the craving starts, i can hardly control my action. 

Served medium cooked, it was a straightforward slab of delicious beef steak that oozed natural meat juices without excessive fanfare. 

And I absolutely love it! 

Chocolate Fondant
If i am eating alone, i might have given this a miss even though i am a slave when it comes to sinful desserts! 

But, mom was with me to share the sin (and the fats)! The chocolate sponge cake was served piping hot, an essential criterion to truly enjoy fondant and was a delightful dessert to go with plain vanilla ice cream! 

Sadly, the melted chocolate in the middle didn't gush out like lava of a volcano. Having said that, it was as sweet, as creamy and as satisfying as it should. 

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Location
180 Kitchener Road,
#B2-55/56, City Square Mall

Website

Price
Baby Octopus Arrabiata - S$5.90
Paella - S$6.90
US Sirloin - S$11.90
Chocolate Fondant - S$5.90
[INCLUSIVE of GST and Service Charge]

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jovyn - The Ultra Cutie Pie

My top ten blog posts consist mainly of food entries and that's predictable given how passionate many people are towards their food! 

However, as far as facebook 'likes' are concerned, pictures of Jovyn have a much higher hit! Hence, this post would be esspecially dedicated to her; once again. 

That's the amazing thing about children; they grow so fast and develop a different look, a different character (for better or for worse) in just a few months and it's never that boring to show their progress pictorially!

She's getting more mischievous but on the good side, she is the little happy fruit in the family and never ceases to make us laugh even after a tiring day at work (that's her putting a ball underneath her t-shirt). 

Her energy is amazing and i can truthfully understand why men would mature so much after having kids! The way that bundle of energy works us can be physically more tiring than working a 12-hour shift.

Mentally though; my life has never felt so rich before.
And no, i am not in a rush to get my own kids!

Unless it is shot gun! 
Wahahahahaha. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Graves of Tan Tock Seng (Singapore's Pionner), his Daughter-in-Law and Granddaughter-in-Law @ Outram [near Tiong Bahru]

Drive, ride or even walk along this stretch of road and i bet most of you would not be observant enough to detect something that is out of sync with the entire surrounding.

For food lovers, there's a higher likelihood of noticing the famous Tiong Bahru Pau and Snack and wondering why is there a queue in such a rundown shop!

The rich history of Tiong Bahru and Outram is known to many (there's even a Tiong Bahru heritage trail) but what's more astonishing was finding the graves of arguably Singapore's most famous pioneer and that of his daughter in law and granddaughter in law in the area. 

A SLA (Singapore Land Authority) sign along the barred road leading to the graves mentioned that it is state land and no trespassing is allowed. Bloody conflicting messages by the government agencies; if i cannot enter, then what's point of having a trail in the first place endorsed by National Heritage Board?!

Only the sight of intimidating fence with barbed wire would discourage me from venturing further. In this case, the lack of those structures means i am free to 'get lost and find my way around'.

And damn was i shocked to see this humongous grave; imagine the loss of government revenue from selling this piece of prime land!

You can find many such graves in Bukit Brown although a size of this magnitude is still considered pretty rare in the century-old cemetery.  Notice the pool of water in that round cavity?

I found these eggs like stuff floating on top! Are they frog eggs which will transform into cute tadpoles or something that are of grave concern to the authorities recently? What was that something? The dengue-causing aedes mosquitoes!

Talking about mosquitoes, the ones in the graves vicinity were vicious in their blood hunt and in my opinion, placed second to the chasing types at Sungei Buloh wetland reserve.

My legs have never been that "red" from scratching for a long time. Moral of the story : always keep a packet of insect repellent sticker in my bag!!!! And wear long jeans!!!

Coming back, this is not the headstone for Tan Tock Seng (陈笃生)! The grave contained the remains of Tan Tock Seng's daughter-in-law and granddaughter-in-law; Madams Chua Seah Neo and Wuing Neo . Why daughter in laws and not his blood related children? Beats me even though the original intention was to have the land as a family burial plot! :(

Burial mound for the two ladies - the fengshui implication for this mound is more pronounced than the generic ones in Lim Chu Kang cemetery. The moat surrounding the mound would have ensured water flowing smoothly from the back of the tomb to the front when it rains; a sign of prosperity for the descendents of the deceased. 

Four stone lions fronted the grave as esteemed guardians of the tomb. Personally, they appeared to be lion hybrids with traits of dragons, fish and qilin; auspicious animals anyway. 

This puzzles me; it's common to reserve a space for the earth deity by the side of Chinese tombs but the Chinese characters are translated as mountain spirit instead. Why? It could be the custom at that time or that the praying for earth deity was not as widespread then; we have to keep in mind that this grave was dated year 1882.

Let's proceed to Tan Tock Seng's grave! I was hesitant in the beginning as i could still recollect the bad experience i had at Lim Chu Kang during the exploration of the jetty house! 

It's hardly comforting when i had to pray that no snake would suddenly slither towards me or drop from the towering trees around me! Adding to the fear factor was that i am very much alone! 

Oh.... That's small and barely reflective for the man who has contributed so much to Singapore's society; one of which is Tan Tan Seng hospital, the lion city's busiest! 

The stone lions were chubbier and cuter though. 

A laminated notice informed visitors to keep the premises clean. As you can see, the grave was situated on an elevated terrain facing a busy and confusing three-road intersection. 

Like his daughter and granddaughter-in-laws; it was once again the use of mountain spirit in place of earth deity. Of course, Tan Tock Seng passed much earlier. 

This great man died during the reign of Emperor Daoguang of the Qing Dynasty in 1850 when he was only 52 years old! Interestingly, he was originally buried somewhere else and moved to the current location around 1882. This move is quite fascinating as grave exhumation is a big taboo for Chinese unless there are strong reasons to do so. 

What will constitute as strong reasons? The mystic art of Fengshui is always the reason, especially when the move can help to improve the luck and fortune for the descendents. The dead can't say anything so the living shall decide.

More historical facts on the philanthropist can be found in this metal plaque. See, what's the point of having a no trespassing sign at the entrance when effort was made to install the information plaques for visitors?!

Awwwww.... so cute right?

Walking back as i cannot withstand the mosquitoes' siege anymore and maintaining a cautious stand as there was still the risk of encountering those slithering creatures! 

I felt there are more than meet the eyes to the stairs; they must have lead to somewhere in their heydays and it's unfortunate i could not travel back in time! 

Following on the above sentence, i could be right; notice the road up the slope? It used to lead to a school known as Gongshan School that was demolished back in 1988. As there was a bend at the corner, the steps by the side of the grave would have continued to the entrance of the school.

Exploration complete! Let's get a can of ice cold coke from the Shell Petrol Station right across the pedestrian bridge to quench the thirst and get some air-con!

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Location
Well, it is along Outram Road and super near to bus stop. 

Darn, it's hard to describe the exact location! Kindly refer to the above map as a better alternative. 

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