Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Coffee Hive - Coffee Kaya Toast Set @ Novena Square 2 [Singapore]

It dawned on me that whenever i go out with my mum, we would eventually end up having a cup of kopi and this particular day was no exception.

Louise recommended Coffee Hive not because she had tried it before; she remembered a long queue at its order counter at lunch every single time she was in the vicinity and assumed the stuff must be pretty good. 

Knowing that my family members can help to share the fats, i went with the coffee kaya toast set that came with two half boiled eggs, coffee / tea (kopi for me) and two slices of cut toast with option for butter / butter sugar / kaya / peanut butter spread. 

My kopi was slightly on the bitter side which didn't quite meet my cut but my sister was happy with her teh c. Soft boiled eggs were perfect; put it this way, there's a high chance Alex would be having a second serving if he were there.

Verdict was split on the kaya butter toast. Kaya wasn't cloyingly sweet with butter adding a creamier touch and the bread was toasted just right; featuring a soft-crisp texture that was charred nicely. My issue was on the thickness; either thin down the toast or double the kaya and butter! 

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Location
10 Sinaran Drive,
#B1-88, Novena Square 2,
Singapore 307506 

Map
As above

Operating Hours
7.00am to 9.30pm (Daily)

Website

Menu
As above. The menu was extensive and Louise gathered that the other items might have resulted in the long queue. Nevertheless, she stands by her teh c.

Price
Coffee Toast Set - S$4.20

Monday, July 25, 2016

So Pho - Halal Vietnamese Cuisine @ Nex Shopping Mall [Singapore]

I have decided - Vietnam is a country i would add to my wanderlust list before the end of 2017. For someone who had an initial bad impression of Vietnamese cuisine, i am pleased to announce (to fans of Vietnamese food) that the craving for Vietnamese food has been on the recent rise.

It just made perfect sense for me to plan a trip to Vietnam (either Hanoi or Saigon) but before then, i shall have to make do with Singapore-based Vietnamese restaurant; for example, So Pho! 

With seven branches in Singapore, i don't understand why it took me so long to pay my first visit and even then, this patronage was totally unplanned as we simply didn't know what to eat Nex and just happened to stroll past So Pho.

Hunger had resulted in the stomachs putting up a protest and i thought we
ordered quite a lot for just two persons; especially with the fact that Alex is hardly a big eater.

Homemade Lemongrass Tea
I have had better one; this was too lightly flavoured and i admit i am a sucker for sweeter and thicker lemongrass tea that bursts with therapeutic aroma. 

Mixed Appetiser 
Consisted of notable Vietnamese appetisers (prawn cake, summer roll and fried spring roll), this mixed appetiser would be the one to order if you want variety. 

Summer roll (that translucent wraps) was not popular with us as the minty taste can be a major turn-off as it did to the both of us. Fried spring rolls contained vermicelli and minced meat; however, i very much prefer the local vegetarian spring rolls with turnips! 

Note - these are not drumsticks.

'Bone' was actually sugar cane which added a delectable sweetness to the prawn cake that was like a rich prawn-based fish cake. Very satisfying as our teeth tore off the 'meat' from the 'bone'.

Noodle with Grilled Chicken and Spring Roll
I absolutely adore the dry noodles in Vietnamese cuisine even though the soup-based pho was the one attracting much higher attention. Time to mix everything up! 

The overall feel i gathered was that the dish was on the sour side with a strong nutty after flavour that veered towards a slight bitterness towards the end. The lemongrass chicken, sadly, would have been better if the infusion of lemongrass was intensified. 

Mango with Glutinous Rice 
Thought for a moment that the waitress had wrongly passed me the wrong dessert as the cut pieces on top did appear to be more beancurd like than mango cubes. 

Served warm, it was the highlight of our meal although the mango could have been sweeter. Key selling point was definitely the green glutinous sticky rice drenched in a pool of creamy milk and sweet gula melaka that culminated in a delicious dessert i find irresistible! 

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Location
23 Serangoon Central, 
#B1-15, NEX Mall,
Singapore 556083

Map

As above.

Website

Menu
As appended above.

Price
Homemade Lemongrass Tea - $3.20
Mixed Appetiser - $10.80
Noodle with Grilled Chicken and Spring Roll - S$9.80
Mango with Glutinous Rice - S$4.50
(Subject to GST and Service Charge)

Additional Information 
It's halal, my Muslim friends! 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Relaxing Six Days, Five Nights Bangkok Trip - Day Five!



As part of my usual work routine, i am usually up at 6.30am but when i am on vacations, it's quite rare to find me awake before 6.30 in the morning unless there's a plane to catch or i am restricted by the itinerary of a tour package.

Today's different as i am already out by 7am which means i likely woke up at 6! At this moment, we were purchasing bread as our plan that day might result in a late breakfast. I am alright with skipping the most important meal but not Alex.

Taking the BTS; our favourite mode of transport in Bangkok this trip as our hotel, Park Plaza Sukhumvit, was less than 200 meters away.

Know Bangkok well? We were back at Saphan Taksin BTS station!

It's not even 8am and the street was already buzzing with activity. Guess the target was on the tourist crowd as Saphan Takin, aside from being the gateway to Asiatique the Riverfront Night Market, is also the place to take the ferries traversing Mekong River.

My intention was to take the Chao Phraya tourist boat but it only runs the service from 9.30am! Argh! Can only blame myself for not checking in advance even though this was planned only the night before.

Snapshot of the route - i wasn't keen in checking out all the landmarks as my objective for this trip remained clear; shopping even though the Wang Lang market looked promising. Oh well, no point talking about this as we didn't have the patience to wait another 90 minutes.

We joined the queue despite not knowing where the local service would be bringing us to! That's the point of having an overseas trip; some excitement due to unplanned, spontaneous decisions!

Another ferry had arrived; in Bangkok, the locals relied heavily on the water ferries as roads can be terribly congested. I can vouch for it as i once took it with my mum and travelled from Chinatown to somewhere near Platinum; cheap and fast!

A ticket conductor on the ferry! Now i am excited as i didn't know then how much the rate would be although i doubt i would be scammed. Worse come to worse, i shall jump into the water.

She used the metal container to keep the money and ticket stubs; it's quite interesting to see her going through the process which was accurate and speedy!

Our tickets; think it's 14 baht each.

Ferry going the opposite direction; Mekong River at this Bangkok juncture is actually rather wide and from what i understand, there's a mix of both salt and freshwater as Bangkok is rather near the sea.

Sight along the way - while the side we came from was developed with towering commercial buildings, the other side exuded an aura of nostalgia; it's like a different world altogether.

I told myself that the next time i go Bangkok, i shall TRY to explore the other side and one motivating factor should be the temple above.

Honouring the Chinese God of War, Guan Yu, on the second level, it's a unique structure to behold along the river! Other saints / gods include the Jade Emperor and maybe Zheng He. Well, i cannot confirm until i am physically there.

Wat Kalayanamit - famous for a humongous seated Buddha statue within the main hall. It was built around the same period that Singapore was found; six years later.

The other side again.

Main reason for taking the ferry so early in the morning - to pay Wat Arun a visit! And imagine the crestfallen look on my face when i saw the construction work going on.

We alighted right opposite Wat Arun as i remember this jetty to be close to Wat Pho, which was another iconic temple in Bangkok that we could probably visit now that Wat Arun was closed.

Sad................

It was too early; give it another few more hours and you would a hive of activity in this compound as shops would be open, selling touristy trinkets and mementos to overseas visitors.

The outdoors would also be filled with food carts offering delicious, local snacks and meals. At least that's what i remember from my first trip to Bangkok which was in year 2007.

Hopped into a Gloria Jean's Coffee outlet as it was air conditioned and there's free Wi-Fi! Breakfast was sucky and i think by this time, i cooked better tasting omelettes than the one here.

Wat Pho - unfortunately, our dear Alex wasn't keen and as i had been to Wat Pho on quite a few occasions, i was actually pretty pleased to follow his direction.

Only issue was "where should we go next"?

I thought of the nearby Khao San road, a place that has eluded me in the past! As it didn't look too far on the map, i suggested walking. Wrong decision since Alex has the tendency to get increasingly grouchy under the hot sun.

Praying that luck was on my side, i tried to point out notable landmarks in Bangkok's old city; like the Ministry of Defence building.

Lak Mueang - the name means city pillar and i honestly didn't know this shrine housing the city pillar was so highly revered in Thailand! The pillar was erected in 1782 when King Rama I moved the capital to Bangkok.

The shrine was built first while the grand palace right across was constructed later as the city pillar should always be the "first building".

Pigeons along the way.

Street puppy sucking the milk from a stray dog; dogs are common in Bangkok and i can only count my blessings that i didn't step on any dog shit in the six days i was there!

I would not have given a look to yet again another Thai shrine but this was different as the statue was female and her action was somewhat different.

Mother Earth Squeezing Her Hair - this was constructed in 1917 and the deity was quite a common goddess in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos. To read more, click here

My navigation had always been good but recently, i realised it was no longer as accurate and i tend to go into a different lane. Don't know if i should blame the map or myself.

Although there was a market, it didn't seem like the same one i often saw on websites, newspapers or even on the television which was much more crowded and congested. 

Pedigree dogs on the roadside. 

Things for sale were generally second handed goods and Thai amulets; both of which failed to attract our attention. Alex, at this point, had gotten grouchy.

Oh well, guess luck wasn't on our side and it's a fact that the sun was getting a bit too warm for our weakling. Poor chap didn't get to see much and i was feeling guilty. 

I hailed a cab and upon boarding, i told the cab driver "Dusit Zoo". Alex was elated as he always like the zoo although the cab driver didn't know what the heck i meant! We had to hail another cab and thankfully, the cab driver knew exactly where to send us.

The sufferer was me at Dusit Zoo as i was exhausted after close to three hours! To read more on Thailand's oldest zoo, please check out the page here

Lunch beckoned and i was anticipating the next item on my pre-planned itinerary! First thing, take a cab from Dusit Zoo to Phaya Thai BTS; p.s. i did try to show the cab driver where i wanted to go but he didn't seem to understand. I should honestly take a course on the Thai language.

Taking the tuk tuk was another consideration; however, the proud persona in me cannot stand the fact that my navigation could be bad and opted instead to figure my way to the restaurant! 

One possible route was through a side lane on the train track even though i couldn't be too sure if there's indeed an opening; hence, i decided to play safe.

The eventual route i took was quite confusing but i got our asses to Pee Aor for its yummy lobster tom yam noodles! For my review and a much better direction on how to get to Pee-Aor, click here

Took the BTS after the meal as i wanted to go to Big C (the one opposite Centralworld) for its supermarket that's the must-visit if you want to get Thai snacks / grocery! The above photo shows a food truck event outside Amarin Plaza.

Walking past the Erawan Shrine; in case you have not heard, there's another calamity at the shrine two days ago when a person drove into the shrine and there were seven injured parties, two of whom are Singaporeans. 

Didn't take any photo in Big C although we were carrying bags of goodies on our hands as we made our way back on the BTS. I should have taken a taxi since traffic on the road was relatively smooth. 

Rested for a while at Park Plaza (it had been a long, tiring day) and it's time to travel to Asiatique the Riverfront Night Market, again! There were things i am interesting in purchasing and given that this was the last night in Bangkok, i better get my butt going! 

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Postings for the Day (click to read more)
  1. Tiger Zone @ Dusit Zoo
  2. Reptile Terrarium House @ Dusit Zoo
  3. Feeding Catfish & Monitors @ Dusit Zoo
  4. World War II Air Raid Shelter @ Dusit Zoo
  5. Cleaning The Crocodiles' Den @ Dusit Zoo
  6. Koalas Exhibit @ Dusit Zoo
  7. Dusit Zoo - Photo Entry
  8. Pe Aor Lobster Tom Yum Goong Noodles


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