Wednesday, February 6, 2013

When was the last time you ate Mango Sticky Rice?

1 in the North, 2 in the South, East and West. What am I saying? You can find outlets of Siam Kitchen and enjoy Thai Food, authentic, chefs all hired from Thailand itself they say! Siam (pronounced as Sai-am, or See-am), was the old name of Thailand 80 years ago. Siam Kitchen was opened 16 years ago in 1997 during Thailand's economic boom, and owned by a restaurant MNC S&P. From the name it can be literally translated into Thailand Kitchen, which is it! Using Siam instead of Thailand, for perhaps it tells in its name that it serves Thai Food, the traditional, most real way through the shops.

Dinner with the parents at Bugis, we chose Thai food eventually after walking pass a couple of restaurants and Dad said "always Sushi Tei", and Mum said "always Nydc", and I'm "anything, just want food". I've never been to Siam Kitchen and turns out, it was the right choice for the day. Outside we took a look at the menu and I was searching for the ultimate must-have Thai Food/ Dessert: the mouth-watering Mango Sticky Rice! Had it 6 months ago when I visited Bangkok night streets and it still stays on my taste buds. Surprisingly, you wont be able to find it at Thai Express.

The menu spoilt us and I thought we ordered too much food. The semi-hard crispy fried fish crackers, or Keropok, was fried to perfection as the sound bites be testament to it. Then we ordered Thai Pineapple Rice which was so delightfully cooked it seems like the rice was grown as pineapple rice to begin with. The Tom Yum Hor Fun, which I ordered was only ordinary- wasnt spicy and the soup was clear but slightly too starchy. I would have ordered Tom Yum Soup if I get to choose again! The Green Curry Chicken was thick and just the right spicy and you might want to order some rice to go with it. Lastly, the long awaited Mango Sticky Rice: this is the real perfection. The hot rice was hard and chewy, together with the just riped fresh soft mango meat which wasnt sweet nor sour. 10/10 for the dessert!

I recommend going for the dessert and soups here, skip starters if you're not particular! After a hearty meal, Siam Kitchen is on the list when I'm thinking of Thai Food in the future also because Ive yet to try their Tom Yum Soup! Wonder if it tastes as good as the other food I had....

XOXO always hungry Singapore Girl

Monday, February 4, 2013

"At Cali's"

California Fitness, or its hypocroism Cali,  is one of the more popular gyms in Singapore, next Fitness First and True Fitness. Some history here: It was established 17 years ago in 1996 by a Businessman who owns the world's biggest private gym empire "24 Hour Fitness" serving over 3 million members. Cali started first in Hong Kong and currently only have branches in Singapore China and HK, definitely a surprise, afterall it's known as California Fitness, not East Asia Fitness!

Saturday I made plans with mum to head to the gym, since I recently got a temporary membership there. Exercise is as important as work, no matter how busy you are, take time out to keep in shape and maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle. Especially for most of you doing sedentary work, its even more so that you take a walk or work out the oil you've accumulated from eating your favourite Carrot Cake craving! The temporary membership is for me to try out the gyms in Singapore for a good period of time and compare them! Which is the best and gym to sign up for in Singapore? Cali offers membership of $100 a month, excluding $200 registration fee, has full gym facilities, big place, 2 levels. Fitness First offers $160 a month, excluding $100 registration fee, has full gym facilities and SWIMMING POOLS at certain branches i.e. Raffles Place. But the fees seem to be bargain-able when the sales person spoke to me, she reduced my monthly fee and took away registration fee if i signed up. So, it really depends I guess- on how AUNTIE you are at bargaining?!

I realised from my facebook check in there are comments about the quick effects from going to the gym. I believe keeping trim requires most fundamentally a good diet , not merely signing up for Gym. For myself, I really just started gymming- this is only my 3rd time at a gym! Signing up is to keep fit and keep myself occupied during my free time and to chit chat and meet up with my beloved close girl friends (whom i signed up with), mostly.

If you notice, the ladies are mainly on ground floor and the men, working it out at second level. I spend most of the time at level 1 which approves of my lighter exercises, and then time for sauna of 2 types: hydrated steam and pure steam. The recommended duration not to exceed 10 minutes in the hot steam! Sauna is hidden at a corners of the Ladies Washroom behind the shower area, and thus, only for Ladies. I'm not sure, and kind of curious if the Men's Washroom have a Sauna as well? I suppose they should have, to ensure equity, but can someone let me know in the comments if you for sure know there is, just to kill that curiosity cat!

It's fun, if you have some free time,  take some time out and prioritize exercise if you havent been! Also, while they provide towels and shampoo, remember to bring along your own cute lock for the lockers provided or it's $1 per locker per use.

XOXO Singapore Girl

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Day 1 Fu Zhou, China

During Chinese New Year reunion, my aunt said "since you're not doing anything, come to Fu Zhou with us to attend a relatives wedding dinner." It was a random mention, as I've never travelled with my relatives before. Upon seeing my hesitation she said "travelling with us definitely will enjoy very much!". Well I can't say no to travelling on a free trip with my family members right!

It was to attend a wedding dinner of my distant relative who comes to Singapore frequently and has worked for us before. Fu Zhou, is province in the city of Fu Jian located at southeastern part of China. It also has a literal meaning of "blessed settlement". Native Singaporeans are actually immigrants from mainly China, Malaysia (Paranakans), Malaysia Malays and India. The first generation/ "MM Lee Kuan Yew Generation" since Singapore became a republic was our grandparents who came to Singapore to struggle for a living while Singapore was a fishing port and very undeveloped piece of land. Like all our grandparents, mine came from Fuzhou and its interesting to know after so many years, it's a reversal of travel happens; we're going back to visit our roots, where we came from. 

This was a 3D trip that seemed longer than that, and it was a refreshing, very enjoyable and eye opening trip at that! My few hundred photos that I took cannot fit into 1 posts, i shall follow it up with posts for each day!

Usually it was be at airport 2 hours before check in time. But this time we gathered at my grandma's place 3 hours before as they chartered a mini bus to fetch 7 of us to the airport! An extra hour to relax at the lounge of the privileged Asia Treasures members ( Changi Airport Terminal 2) only for the manicure and pedicure and fine buffet lunch that my aunt brought us in to. I don't have membership, if you're wondering. I wish I did! It was such a quiet private space that has corners for computers, a mounted to the walls, room cornered off for nail services, and mostly a dining place that hardly had anyone else around.

Had noodles, vegetables, 4 treasures soup, then it was time to catch the plane.   The other dishes looks  equally as flavorful and I made a mental note to be back here to try more!

It was almost an 8 hour flight to Fuzhou and had inflight dinner. By the time we  arrive there was night time, supper time  I had to bear walking in the cold of 10 degrees thanks to my bad habit of wearing short shorts to the airport!!! At 10 degrees, a normal dressing would be a thick winter coat, jeans and boots for Singaporean girls!

Once we arrived, our relatives were very warm and welcoming and drove 3 cars to send us back to our hotel. The hotel they booked for us is where the wedding dinner on the 3rd day will be held! Otherwise my aunt said "we would have booked Shangri -La Hotel Fuzhou, like the last time we came. Shangri-La is very good!". The hotel we stayed at Empark Grand Hotel, was in fact almost as good a hotel I say! Grand demeanor and comfortable luxurious rooms with full facilities.

Our relatives insisted on bringing us and treating us to our first night of supper at the resturant at basement of the hotel. The food pictures speak for themselves, it was sumptuous at its peak, overwhelming varieties and quantity of food and the freshness of the delicacies is uncomparable anywhere else. It was a night of laughter and chats with the relative i never knew I had. One of the most enjoyable supper nights I had overseas.

I would think that one has to come Fuzhou at least once in your life if you have the chance to. It helps if you have relatives in China, as you know Chinese may have a reputation for being too over aggressive and unsympathetic due to recent issues, having relatives here showed me a totally different side of China Chinese people I've never imagined. One supper night made me experience what it was like to be in china.  And I was definitely wondering what surprises and learning journeys the next 2 days here will bring me to.

XOXO Singapore Girl


JB: Johor Bahru, not Justin Bieber

Singapore is linked by a causeway to its nearest Neighbour country, Malaysia. From Singapore Woodlands, one reaches Johor Bahru (JB) in approximately 10 minutes, including time for queuing to pass the 2 customs passport checks of both countries. Lets be honest, Singaporeans love JB- for it's 3x cheaper petrol prices, 2x cheaper massage prices, 3x cheaper $4 car washes with vacuuming services, all night supper places, and cheap appetizing seafood! Time for a mini getaway.

It has become almost a frequent affair with my friends, our trip to JB. While they drive in for the primary purpose of filling their petrol, I'll be in the car thinking which Lok Lok i shall have today. It's always the SAME routine for them: meet at the petrol station (to pee), drive to abalone noodle supper place, pump petrol, and head home! This supper place, always almost full of people even at midnight is called Restoran Ah Piaw 阿標雲吞面 at Jalan Keris, Taman Sri Tebrau. Its a food paradise for also for those looking to come in in the afternoon or for a (zi char) dinner with a big group of friends because just the next street there is a hawker centre specializing in fresh seafood dishes served with rice.

For driving directions: after customs, drive straight and keep right to avoid going on the flyer to god-knows-where. Then turn right in when you see Shell Petrol Station.
Alternatively, one can also arrive here via a bus from woodlands terminal to JB and take a local taxi to this food location.

Our best-loved "abalone noodle place", also sells delicious tangy wanton noodles at SGD$2, shelled seafood, big Lok Lok (ingredients arranged in threes on a thin wooden "satay" stick) road-side stall with all kinds of food ready to be barbequed for you, and dont forget to order the new drink in town- iced honey lemon jelly drink! Its a moderately sweet with the tinge of pricky lemon taste, a healthy drink that helps if you have a sore throat and prevents it in time for one. Yummy. Period.

This is what we usually order: they will have wanton/ abalone noodles (well, not for me), cockles/clams, BBQ Lok Lok sticks of crispy kangkong greens*, juicy umbrella mushrooms, golden mushrooms with asparagus*, century egg*, chicken fillet*, pregnant fish*, more meat! * for my cant-do-without selections! If you havent tried, dont miss out because you should! I never knew BBQing ordinary ingredients which we love to boil or cook in chinese gravy taste so much different and better. For example BBQ century eggs have a crispy shell before your teeth sinks in gradually to the softness of the bouncy egg. Lok lok is ALL of the food having a crispy outer texture to it, cooked. I thought:  BBQ parties wouldnt have to go, we could all prepare our own Lok lok and enjoy a scrumptious meal in our own homes!

Just to add, there are people selling and flying the Taiwan's Sky Latern or Kong ming Lantern, where people write their wishes for the year on the latern and fire is lited to float the lantern up. Nevermind even if you missed the 15th day of the Lunar Calendar in time for the annual Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan, you can do the same here with your loved one if you're bored.

Enjoy a trip to JB, but remember to change for Ringgit before you go, and maybe be a little mentally prepared that ITS OKAY and it WORTH it to gain that few pounds after.

XOXO Singapore Girl