Thursday, September 18, 2008

Follow-Up to The Cake Looks Different (Praline Cheesecake from Coffee Bean)

Just to keep all of you updated; Before i posted the blog entry dated Wednesday, September 17, 2008, i have in fact sent a feedback letter to our dear customer service in Coffeebean.

And they were really customer-centric; since e Production Director (PD) gave me a call personally this afternoon, during my well-deserved lunch break. I am impressed by this kind gesture since i did not really expect a reply at all.

However, even though PD gave me a full explanation of what "might" have inspired the disappointing experience, i am not altogether accepting his version. You may read further for the full rebuttal.

1) PD explained that cheesecakes have always been difficult to cut and it would be recommended to wet the knife with hot water before proceed.

Rebuttal = I have cut cheesecakes before; it was definitely not the first time and many of those present would attest to the difficulty level. But well, i appreciate the suggestion.

2) PD reasoned that there would always be slight difference between picture and the actual thing; he used the example of McMuffin, which is bigger in the advertisement but smaller in fact

Rebuttal = I understand and seriously dun mind slight difference but i think the difference is pretty obvious (please look to my previous post for explaination). Of coz, the decoration (those thingies on the cake) was an additional beautifying difference.

3) PD further dissuaded me from posting the pictures up on the website for comments as he believed it would be detrimental to the reputation.

Rebuttal = For one, it is freedom of speech (with no racial or political elements) and secondly, my purpose is not to destroy the reputation of Coffee Bean but to let the production team understand that they have to deliver what they promise on the website.

4) PD further explained that my photos are of an amateur nature and hence, it would definitely look poor compared to a well-taken one (like the one posted on their website)

Rebuttal = Nil, since i have to admit i am indeed an amateur. But i am hurt.

5) PD offered me a cake in exchange.

Rebuttal = Nil since PD was really sincere in asking me to try out their cakes again and not to let this bad experience affects future patronising. Personally, i dun really approve this gesture; it seems to imply that customers who feedback/complain would always get something in return, which is not encouraging in the customer service industry. I used to be in customer service and can truly attest to the attitudes of "you-must-give-me-something-in-return"

6) The one that really made my day 'hot'. PD explained that pictures may differ from actual cakes; he recommended that i VISIT the outlets first before ordering the cakes.

Rebuttal = Seriously, if staff undertake the view above, then please; do not allow your customers the 'opoorunity' to order your cakes online. CLOSE the website and ask all your customers to order personally at your outlets or via phone (where they cannot see the cake and hence, will not be disappointed with the appearance). Alternatively, do not provide any photos or pictures of those cakes. It would save the company and the consumers some unnecessary troubles and inconvenience, if any.

Overall, i still feel honored that CoffeeBean took the trouble to call a disgruntled customer (me). But i wonder if the whole conversation could be better managed if it was handled by a designated customer service officer. Not to say that i felt insulted, since PD was really apologetic (albeit with unnnecessary and sometimes contradicting excuses).

The last i checked my email; PD had sent me the voucher for a free replacement. Sweet but not necessary. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Cake Looks Different (Praline Cheesecake from Coffee Bean)

Look at the picture above; what is your first impression on it? Looks good right? Not only is the praline oh-my-goodness thick, the side of the cake looks so lusciously creamy! Overall, it looks like a cake to die for!

Thats EXACTLY wat i thought when i saw the cake of the month (Praline Cheesecake) in the website of Coffee Bean.

Hence, i made a suggestion to my colleagues; why don't we order this out-of-the-heaven cake for the monthly birthday babies? Of course its a YES~! A resounding YES!

Fast forward to the date of collection; I remember the exact scene on 12 September 2008 at around 9am in Coffee Bean Holland Village branch. The male staff opened the box; i looked at it; i looked at him and i looked at the cake sitting in the box again.

I exclaimed :"It looks different from the website!". The male staff looked at the cake sitting idly in the box and looked at me. "You ordered for praline cheesecake right". I looked at him and then looked irritating at the cake :"Yes i did but the cake in the website looks very different".

"But this is praline cheesecake" he replied. My brain was thinking "you dun visit your company website right?" Anyway, to keep the story short; i saw in the display, another praline cheesecake and it LOOKED exactly the same as the one im collecting.

Disappointment was an under-statement of how i was feeling then. I felt betrayed, i felt embarassed (becoz i suggested the cake) and i felt frustrated (celebration to begin in an hour time)!

Sighz......... What to do; its not exactly the guy's fault and everyone knows what a nice, understanding guy i am. Who knows, maybe the cake would taste suprisingly great!

As a good story goes, i am wrong........... again.

Although i have no complaint on the taste, the supposedly solid-looking praline was actually flakes of them and the cake was so difficult to cut! Chunks of it dropped out the moment the knife (provided with the cake) cut through. Not only that, the cake had a tendency to stick themselves to the knife! It improved slightly after i used a fork to stabilise the whole procedure (please do inform me for a demonstration, if you are interested).

I might not have cut a lot of cakes but this is the most challenging one (and hopefully the last) i have and would ever cut.

On a final note, we shall always keep in mind this : "'The cakes might not look as good as they are in the website".

Period

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lost – FBOFW (For Better or For Worse)

I am a bit lost today.
My favorite comic strip has come to an end.

I have been faithfully following this comic strip since polytechnic days, initially reading the copies available in National Library, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and subsequently the daily updates at http://www.fbofw.com/. Without fail, I would check the daily scoop everyday (with the exception of overseas trips), savoring the satires/ironies of life and those things we take for granted.

One simple reason why I prefer this comic compared to others; the characters follow the cycle of life. The characters grow old, some passed away, some succeed through pure perseverance and luck, and one is even gay!

It is almost a true life story (almost, some of which are fictitious) of the author (Lynn Johnston), unfolding slowly every day, providing with useful, entertaining insight of life and thought provoking lessons that you and I have experienced before, one way or another.

There was a scare (at least for me) a few months ago when I realized that the comic seemed to re-use past strips for its daily scoops. I was commenting to a colleague that the author might be ill or has run out of ideas. Worse still, she might have passed away since she is 50+ and we all know how ‘accidents’ can happen! Luckily new content surfaced and my heart was put to ease.

That is, until the comic strip for 30 August 2008 appears at http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/003335.php. I thought I was mistaken and it could be a joke (like the one kennysia had fabricated before); until I read today's scoop which i have attached below.

ITS CONFRIMED!

For Better or For Worse has ended its run. My daily addiction with this comic is forced to cease and I am bound to suffer from withdrawal symptom, constantly thinking of the characters; granny Marian passing, Farley’s heroic rescue, Elly’s bookstore, Deanna’s accident and many, many more.....

And yes, I am SAD.

Although I believe the reason may seem obsessive to many or even ridiculous to some, there will always be a minority (maybe majority) who will understand my feeling now.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Review - Money No Enough 2

Like books and food, movie reviews are always subject to individual tastes and preferences. I have always been mindful of Straits Times' movie reviews, starting from Mr Kelvin Tong, who has done a great job with movie directorship (I love The Maid) although i beg to differ on his movie reviews.

I learnt that movies with ratings above average by him werev not really my cup of tea. However, i did enjoy one show rated just 1 star (or is it 1/5?) by Mr Tong. I stopped believing in his reviews although i did take a more objective and trustable outlook for other reviewers. That was, until i saw the review for Money No Enough 2; a pathetic 1.5 upon 5!

Rubbing my eyes, i tot i needed a new prescription for my glasses.

It was unbelievable because i really enjoyed the first Money No Enough and tot it to be realistic and entertaining. I was even intending to break the promise to watch the new instalment with my mom (since 12 Lotus is coming up and im a poor guy). With a heavy and somewhat suspicious heart, i procrasinated for a week before finally watching it on a Wednesday!

Half-filled with aunties and uncles at around 6.20pm, the theatre is crowded for a weekday movie before 7pm. Curtain rolls and the first scene of ERP (or EPR) gantries were abit unnerving for me, since i drive. Luckily, mine is a weekend car. Hahaha.

As the story flowed, i felt scenes of happines, sadness, realism, past events etc. I can associated myself with the characters; with the love that the mother has for her 3 sons; with the faith that the wives has for the husbands; with the greed that everyone seems to be so obscessed with; with the dilemma of who to take care of the old ones; with the cruelty (but helplessness) acts that the sons have performed.

It was DIFFERENT from the first movie!

Everything in the movie was part and parcel of life. Sooner or later, we have to go through it (not all, but at least some). Maybe we are even going through it now. The movie tugged our heart strings; laughter ringed frequently, and tears just cannot stopped themselves from accumulating and dropping. There was also this extremely fabulous and meaningful hokkien song by 江蕙 - 家后.

It is a GREAT movie.

I was commenting to my mom after the movie. Maybe we should consider sponsoring tickets to some of our "dearest" relatives


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Imagine Prawns, Crabs, Fishes, Clams.................... @ Seafoood Paradise (Defu Lane)

It's been a long period of procrasination after procrasination! So many things swirling in my brain mass; eateries that i have tried, things that i have done, products i have bought, dramas i have watched, interesting events etc etc etc. Most humans are like that (procrasination that is); i would like to believe it that way and i am a mere human like many others. Hahaha.

So one question; what brings me to my desktop, typing on my filthy keyboard? One word; free. I am too free today! So currently, im squeezing my brain juice on the topic!

Hmmmmm....................

Hm...............................

!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, let's start with the usual; FOOD!

I have been eating (as part of a normal human activity and basic needs) and a colleague recommended this place called Seafood Paradise. I was supposed to eat with my fellow, dearest colleagues but concidentally, my dearest friend, Korny, invited me for a dinner session there as well (it's his birthday!).

I did a check (google; my favourite!) on this place and was surprised to see that it is highly acclaimed! To the extent that reviewers preferred it to Mellben; which, by the way, is THE place i go to for crabs and pork ribs. I was surprised to know that SUCH a gem actually existed, and for a moment, i was quite embarassed that i dunno anything about it!

ME, a guy who loves to eat, and i dunno about SEAFOOD PARADISE (SP) !!!

One word = Disappointing!

To make myself better, i promised to savour the food slowly, take some pictures and give a concise and obviously personal review about this place. Here goes!

1) Location
Located within the Defu industrial estate with ample parking spaces INSIDE and OUTSIDE the restaurant. It would be recommended to park within the premises of the restaurant, which is at the ground level of a 6 levels or so building. Parking wardens are usually on standby OUTSIDE the building, with their hawk eyes darting around for free loaders drivers.

2) Ambience
The decor is definitely better than Mellben or Uncle Leong, which is basically in a coffeeshop. Seafood Paradise looks more than a restaurant and im sitting at the non-aircon area! Cannot imagine how the aircon area will look like though.

3) Service
Fabulous! Although orders were taken swiftly, we waited a long long time for the crabs. One key point, they changed your plates every now and then; which is important and really helpful. You may also ask for plain water; refillable! A bowl of lime water is available for you to clean your hands; one feature seriously lacking in the others.

4) Price
Since ambience is better and service was fabulous, maybe price is the determinant. We ordered 7 dishes (crabs are medium sized) and i find them to be quite reasonably priced. We paid around $150-160 i think; so think it through, would you try them?

5) Food
Finally finally, the key feature of any restaurants. A restaurant/eatery has to serve good food no matter how much they charge! My common grouch is when i paid a high price to eat and the standard was appalling; hence i prefer to eat cheaper food (plus the fact im a poor man)

a) Tofu

I have never eaten tofu like this; with vegetables, prawns and pork floss. Taste was quite unique, especially with the pork floss. But i guess anything with pork floss will taste quite good!
Rating 4/5

b) Golden Dragon Chicken
 
This is supposed to be highly recommended; supposedly tastes like suckling pig, which i adore and always look forward to in any wedding banquets. Notice the word supposed. Because it did not taste anything like that! Even the sauce failed in delivering a somewhat similar taste! I had tasted better ones in Malaysia and there were no associating them with suckling pig! To be fair, i  admitted that the skin was crispy, the chips were savoury. But unfrotunately, disappointment played a big part here.
Rating 3/5

c) Cereal Prawns

The cereal flakes were fabulous!!! I dun really care about the prawns since prawns deep fried did not difer from each other after you shelled them. But the cereals flakes were unforgettable!! It's been a week but my tongue can still reminise about it!! You had the impression the cereals have just been fried; fresh, hot and oh, so tasty!
Rating 4.5/5

d) Honey-Pepper Ribs

Usually, i dun take pepper stuff and i stay away from black pepper crabs because i think black pepper covers the original sweet taste of crabs. But this variation of ribs tasted quite good. The honey sweet taste with just a tinge of pepperness, which was surprisingly appetising to me. My friends preferred the coffee ribs in Mellben though, but i felt that they were both good in their individual ways.
Rating 4/5

e) Crabs in Broth with Vermicelli

Not my cup of tea. My friends liked it better but likewise to black peper crabs, i think the broth actually covered the crab taste, instead of complementing it.
Rating 3.5/5

f) Butter Crabs

I love to compare the standards of different eateries on this dish. Because the first time i ate it (in Mellben), i was so fasinated with it that i ordered extra rice to pour the yellow thick savoury butter on it. The butter crabs in SP was good but just not comparable to the first time i ate the dish. The butter in SP's version was much lighter and thinner in texture; not to mention that it seemed to be the golden sand variation (which has butter but dryer). I was a bit disappointed but felt that it was still a good dish.
Rating 4/5

g) Man Tou

Bet most of you dunno how the word Man Tou comes about. Kindly google it and do some reading! Man Tou in SP was crispy outside, soft inside. Warm on the surface but streams of "smoke" swirls out the moment you teared it open. The taste was sweet but not "over". A dip with the butter (from the butter crabs) brought out a fabulous combination of senses.
Rating 4.75/5

The above is based on my personal viewpoint
You might like what i don't; likewise, you might hate what i like.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Comforting Myself @ Arnolds Chicken (City Plaza)

PISSED!

It is rare that anyone would see me so pissed off! At the very least, I am so humongously angry that I decided to update my blog. Okay, a bit of an anti-climax but i am seriously, sincerely pissed.

PERIOD.

Since im here, I might as well share a recent GEM (obviously food) that was introduced by a likewise foodie (as usual, our beloved Mr Kon).

The name of that GEM is called Arnolds.

Does anyone of you still remember the old KFC? Those in their late 20s and older would remember the good, old days; chicken served on plates, coupled with shiny, shimmering cutlery and well dressed, polite attendants.

Well, Arnolds is just like that, minus the cutlery and attendants.

To put it plainly, fast food outlets ARE fast food outlets; Orders are machine gunned to the customers to attain the best efficiency. But to fry a good piece of chicken was not easy. Our dear old colonel had done a good job but quality is dwindling fast (except for their ice lemon tea);




1. It is a well known fact that the KFC chickens are delivered frozen.
2. Taste of the chicken has lacked the ever important tenderness!
3. The skin is not fat but has super duper oil-dripping fats (note: plural)
4. Some bones are black-reddish in color. I believe they have been abused.

Serious!

So what is so GOOD about Arnolds? It has only one full branch (there is an express outlet in Pasir Ris) since 1984. It is in an obscure place called City Plaza (how many people actually know where it is?). Instead of placing itself at level 1 or basement (like most fast food), it is located at level 2! The answers shall be as followed;

1) Chicken
This is obviously the most important factor to compare with KFC. Served on a usable plastic plate, the chicken was served hot; piping, searing, deliciously hot. No, the bones were not abused (it is proudly stated in their website that the chickens are delivered fresh to their shop DAILY!) but the deciding factor that triumphed KFC was the skin. Thin with just a slight hint of fat. A bite of that highly memorable deep fried skin exuded a taste that served to remind us what we missed out all these years!
Rating 4.7/5.0
 
2) Coleslaw
The coleslaw was not laden with mayonnaise like its competitor. It was mixed to a consistency (ball shaped ok!) that is just right and did not make me gee-lat! If only they can introduce the vegetable salad that KFC used to serve.
Rating 4.0/5.0

3) BunStill remember the soft bun that accompanied the chicken? Although long deemed to be a small player (so small until it was not commonly seen nowadays), it imprinted a long lasting impression on me. THIS one in Arnolds was also a small player but so AAAAAaaaaaaah!!!
Rating 4.5/5.0

4) French Fries
I still like KFC fries but my friends prefer the ones in Arnold. It had the same thickness as MOS burgers and for people who love to taste the REAL thing (potatoes), it is a good choice.
Rating 3.5/5.0

5) Squid Rings
I have a thing for Squids also known as Sotongs. Especially when they are deep fried like in Old Chang Kee. Arnolds served deep fried squids that had the springiness of rubber bands but the price was a bit steep for my liking (at $4.20 for 6 pieces). However, it is worth a try (quote: never try, never know).
Rating 4.1/5.0

Beside the above mentioned, Arnolds also served Fish and Chips, the aptly named Fish and Squid, Criss-Cut Fries, Natural Chips, Ice Kacang. Yes, they served the local favorites too! Attendants would also serve you with no 10% service charge!

Oh! Be prepared for long queues at times!
I waited for half an hour on Sunday!

Friday, February 08, 2008

My Nephew - First Time Uncle!


I know it has been a long time since i stepped into the realm of blogging but as most of you would have known, im busy with work, ds lite, books, meals and most importantly, my family. And my family has become bigger in the past few months, with the addition of the new born brat, Jerald!


Yes, i know im officially an UNCLE and to tell you the scary truth, im dying to be called uncle. No, not by any tom, dick, harry, nor any mary, jane, neither by those noisy, unreasonable, spoilt little brats (boys and girls alike) that i saw on the MRT but only reserved for my dear chubby nephew!! Of course, i know he is currently gabbling in some foreign language that only he seems to understand but well, i am willing to wait for just an happy, jubilant "Uncle"!


To be consistent, i love kids in general! As long as they dun shit, dun cry, dun shout, dun go into mischief and are always smiling innocently. My mum says those kinda kids only appear in fairy tales, not in real life and its impossible for anyone not to shit!! My nephew shits, cries, shouts, screams, vomits milk, salivates excessively but i still love him.

BIG QUESTION: WHY??

I dunno whether all uncles feel like that but my family is a close knit family and you can see me frequently going out with my family for shopping, holidays, makan trips etc etc. And i saw my sister going through the pregnancy, saw the baby 2 hours after he is borned, saw how he grew (horizontally and vertically) in the past few months


Even though i am only an uncle, my tear ducts almost started loosening when i saw him for the first time and his innocent young black eyes meet with the old, near-sighted eyes of mine. Added to that, he has two big, drooping, squeeze inducing mechanising apples at the sides of his face that are irresistible to all aunties and uncles alike. So people, how to not love him?!

Okay, the question is answered. Seriously, as i get older and older, i want to spend more time with my family. We only live a while so why not make it worth the while. SO! Let's;
  1. Gorge ourselves with food (which i strongly believe and practise)
  2. Enlarge our brains with ds lite (which i do even when i am having a "hard" time, albeit bombing, in the toilets) and,
  3. Make our hearts more alive by spending time with our families.
Hence, i would like to wish every family and of course everyone,

恭喜发财,
家家幸福,
合家欢乐,
全家团圆美满!

For those that dun understand Chinese, i have tried my very best in deciphering the characters but i appear to translate it like those restaurants in China. The overall meaning means happiness and prosperity for the whole family, period.


Just an addendum; I still run like mad when my nephew shits, when he vomits milk and my arms would be attacked with those numbing cramps after i carried him for like less than 5 minutes (He is heavy!).

"Shrugs"

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