Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Yet Con Restaurant & Their Famous Chicken Rice @ 25 Purvis Street [Near Raffles Hotel]

Yet Con - honestly, the first thought that came to mind was whether this would be a Vietnamese restaurant although the display of yellow-skinned steamed chicken was testimony that this place serves one out of a few national dishes in Singapore; chicken rice!

With a history spanning close to seventy-five years and its unabashedly claim as "famous chicken rice", i chanced upon this eatery in 2012 when i had a satisfying meal at its opposite neighbour (Saveur) and was quite charmed by its stuck-in-past presence! 

Only the existence of air-conditioning reminded us that we were not brought back to the past when most coffee shops have similar setup. I didn't quite dare to take pictures of the counter (the old man manning it did appear a bit threatening) where there was an ancient looking box!

Anyway, here's the food (with free flow chilli and garlic)! 

Rice
Served in a bowl, it did give off an impression that this would be good. Sadly, it wasn't the case and there was none of that chicken rice fragrance that often makes it irresistible not to order a second helping. 

Kailan in Oyster Sauce
Pretty good crunch even though i didn't have great expectation for this normal dish which wasn't that hard to master to begin with. Having said that, i think i can still make a mess out of it if i am the one cooking!

Braised Tofu
I was anticipating tofu dressed in a different form; the star wasn't so much the tofu. I actually preferred the vegetables that were served in a saucy concoction similar to the type of mui fan my mom used to prepare for us! 

Sweet and Sour Pork
Once again, normal!!! Wait, on second thought, i think i didn't really like it. I like my gu la rou to have a crunchier texture yet oozing with fattening juice when you sink your teeth in. This was a bit too soft for my liking and i can pick up subtle traces of that porky taste. 

Chicken 
One word - oily! Texture of the chicken meat can be compared to Tian Tian chicken rice but it lost in the category of flavour which simply wasn't as tasty as Tian Tian. Another thing i took issue with were the reddish, bloody parts near the bones.

I like my chicken fully cooked. 

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Location
25 Purvis Street [Near Raffles Hotel]

Price
The old school, handwritten receipt didn't have itemised pricing even though it might help to note that we paid around S$55 for the above, inclusive of five bowls of rice and five drinks (4 barley, 1 lime juice).

Menu
As above! Many people were having the steamboat! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Formosa Chang Lu Rou Fan (also known as Hu Xu Zhang) 鬍鬚張魯肉飯 @ Wufenpu (五分埔), Taipei, Taiwan

One of the must-eats in Taiwan, i heard, is luroufan (otherwise known as braised pork rice) and the Singapore veteran who has tried many reputable stalls / restaurants in Taiwan is actually our Mr Kon! 

I don't share his diehard conviction although i did ask him to share a few notable ones to prove that i did visit Taiwan. Formosa Chang isn't top on his list but given its fame among overseas visitors on the online realm, he suggested giving it a try. 

There were many items on the menu; didn't help that we had a few servings of smelly tofu before this and we could not bear to see any more food! In a way, i am thankful the portion for Taiwan's luroufan is never big to begin with and i could mentally count it as a sampler. 

Literally meatless and totally fattening!! Now i know why a facebook friend, Frederick, commented on my post for a luroufan i had in Singapore as unauthentic as he remembered it quite differently! 

Nevertheless, even i am surprised that such a sinful dish didn't manage to impress my taste buds. Weirdly, i found the overall meat taste to have a savouriness similar to bak zhang when i was expecting it to be flavoured like kong bak (扣肉)! 

Sauce was tasty (again, not on the level of kong bak) and sufficient enough to moisturise the rice for added palatability.  

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Location
533, Youji Road, Taipei

Map
As above (very near to Houshanpi MRT Station). Travellers might want to consider giving Huxuzhang a try before popping by Wufenpi (the wholesale shopping district) to digest the food. 

Price
Luroufan - NT$33

Additional Information
Should you happen to like huxuzhang luroufan a lot, you can consider buying these take-away packets and give them away as souvenirs to friends. It doesn't come cheap (at least NT$165) even though i believe the portion seems good enough for a few persons. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cingjing Farm - Green Green Grasslands & Mountain View Pastoral Areas (清境農場青青草原觀山牧區) @ Nantou County [Taiwan]

You know how things work when a certain spot gains fame; the entire area would have an unofficial name change. That's what happened in the case of Cingjing Farm. 

The area it sits on is actually the Ren'ai Township and the facilities they managed are not in one big land parcel. They are distributed across the district which included the Small Swiss Garden and a recreation centre that are quite a distance away from the main attraction; the green green grasslands!

Which happens to be my topic today although i have added Mountain View Pastoral Areas to the subject since the full ticket comprised of both areas. For the sake of smooth walking, enter via the entrance next to the above chateau.

Ticket price differs depending on the days you visit and whether you are a student, child, resident, senior citizen etc. We paid NT$160 a person for weekday (adult).

Sadly, the whole area was shrouded in clouds and even though this was an impressive, mystical sight for us who were physically there, the photographs i took turned out grey and drappy.

Note! There would be a few tables with rubber stamps and ink-pads. Stamp yourself on the arm before you proceed as entry to Mountain View Pastoral Areas would be dependent on it. 

The first meh meh we chanced upon! Remember, the sheep here were free roaming and no physical fence existed to keep humans away from them. Therefore, please don't startle them! 

Gloomy grasslands; we smelt sausages and hurriedly walked over to get a stick. It wasn't fantastic but still managed to warm our hearts as we sat on a bench overlooking the vast, misty grassland. 

Even this feline appeared to be taking things slow! 

Kikuyugrass - this is the type of grass that made up the grasslands we see today at Cingjing. Originated from East Africa and imported from Philippines, it was eventually chosen for its hardiness and ability to conserve the soil. 

Cingjing Sheep Castle (清境绵羊城堡) - a much clearer view! 

Don't expect flocks of sheep residing within the castle! It was primarily used as a retail shop where you can buy products made from sheep ingredients like sheep milk candies etc and placements of information panels on sheep. 

You can, however, find some lambs kept outside the building, behind fences. Be careful, they were a hungry bunch and can be very enthusiastic when you feed them the pellets (you can separately purchase them from a machine)! 

Weather has cleared somewhat and we continued our way. There were different paths we can take but the lack of sleep and all that walking (which included the exhausting climb up to our room in Misty Villa) before Green Green Grassland meant we conveniently followed the crowd and hoped they were right! 

Road that brought us to the farm; it's funny that i didn't really quite notice the grasslands on my way up via the free shuttle service provided by the villa

I wasn't prepared for this impressive view of the grasslands! 

From the pictures, it might not look much but when you are physically there, it was an expansive scene of magnificent rolling hills where bandits in the past would lie in ambush while the trade caravans carefully made their ways to prosperous towns. 

To say Alex was amazed of the scenery was an understatement. 
He was truly blow away by the view!

On weekends, this place would be filled with visitors and many of them would be crowding the open air amphitheater in the above picture. 

Weekdays are a different story since the signature sheep show is only scheduled on weekends and public holidays! Heard from a friend that i would not be missing much; hence, it didn't quite bother me.

I don't enjoy crowded places anyway (that quite explained why i always prefer the cemeteries and crematoriums) and would prefer to have more space to play around with the miniature horse that was brought out. p.s. prefer the mini over the full-sized stallions. 

Those resident sheep didn't really care about the humans and would trot towards us confidently. Oh well, it was THEIR home and we were just mere guests. 

Having said that, their poo can be found anywhere and everywhere! Do walk with your eyes wide open; you would not want to have a stinky pair of shit-caked shoes! 

Finally, an even clearer view! Grass wasn't as green as i have seen on the brochures although i have to keep in mind that these are real grass, not synthetic lawn grass! 

Don't you just love front facing camera phones?! :P

Not all the slopes were as gentle as the one above and i believe you would have enough common sense to gauge your ability on climbing it. If you have kids, keep them close to you; leash them if need be! Despite the warning signs, i thought this hill would be a great for hill sledding! 

Out of Green Grass Grasslands! This would be the market place (草原南端商圈) where you can have an authentic local meal and buy your souvenirs (mostly food related)! 

I made the mistake of buying them far too early in the first retail shop i came upon. The smaller pack of sheep milk candy was only NT$100 while the bigger pack had a price of only NT$350. My personal recommendation would be the charcoal peanuts (Mom loves them) which cost NT$150!

Once again, i bought too soon. The above shop, nearer to the entrance of Mountain View Pastoral Areas, was selling most items at one for one! Argh!!!!! *frustrated*

As loyal readers would have known, this would be the place where you can buy honey and pollen! For those who miss my blog post, you may refer to the link here

Time to enter Mountain View Pastoral Areas (清境農場觀山牧區); i wasn't that excited as i was carrying far too many items and yet, i had to be careful not to step onto those "bombs"! 

See if you can spotted them from the photographs above! By the way, free and easy travellers should note that they must be prepared to walk like nobody business in Taiwan; judging from the way i ate, i am surprised i didn't gain as much weight as i should!

I could not confirm what this is; i suspect its function should be similar to a scratching pole for the roaming sheep. 

Q&A - what's the difference between goat and sheep?! Appearance wise, it is not hard to differentiate both but what about taste differences? Would you be able to identify which is goat and which is sheep? 

Craziness knows no limit; i actually agreed to Alex's suggestion to climb the stairs up to a viewing platform! Oh ya, i did pass him half my load! Hahaha

This would be an ideal place to take in the entire scenery of the whole farm and the effort to climb up was totally worth it. We practically had the whole place to ourselves! 

God damn beautiful right?!?!!? Almost like we were in a magical kingdom high up in the sky!

Alex started monkeying around at this point.

Until the 30 years old bugger realised there were piles of sheep shit hidden in the grass. Oops! Luckily, he didn't get them onto his clothes / shoes! Like any kind of poo, sheep poo stinks as well! 

Remember this place? The castle and the amphitheater! 

Any idea what this water enclosure is used for? Bathing for the sheep? Regardless of its use, there were many sheep congregating in that area. 

Having rested (and played) enough with our lungs filled with fresh mountainous air, it's time to walk down. 

The pretty windmill that everyone was clamouring to have as their picture backdrop! We shrugged, took a few pictures and left for that area with loads of sheep.

Nice woah; many sheep were nonchalantly grazing the kikuyugrass within this small plot of grassland. I had an evil thought; it would be quite fun to herd them! 

Alex went to test the water. Turned out they didn't even give him a second look! The puny me would have been embarrassed if i have proceeded with my evil scheme. 

First time seeing an alpaca even though i am aware of their existence since i started playing the computer game, Simcity, two decades ago! 

The path always seemed endless! We heard that a horse show would be taking place somewhere further down and hastened our pace! My feet....

Final look of the sheep-filled grasslands; didn't know what happen to make all of them rushed towards one direction. Maybe it's makan time! 

Do as the sign advises. 

Horse show! Since the sheep show is a no-go on weekdays, most visitors would try to make it for this horse show which is scheduled daily on 10.45am and 3.45pm. 

Spotted the Singapore flag?! 

In all, the performers from Mongolia would pull all sorts of stunts centering around their majestic steeds but the twenty-minute show was a tad too long in my opinion. Running round and round had a really therapeutic effect and i was truthfully about to doze off towards the end. 

You can take pictures with the performers and the horses at the end of the show. Our exhaustion reached a new high after watching the performance and decided to give it a miss. 

Leaving the pastoral areas for the Shoushan Ecological Park; i didn't put it down as we didn't really explore the park given our tired state and was just using it as a shortcut to get to our minsu.

What we saw along the way was pretty dismal as i am aware there should be a nature theatre; a compound filled with hutches didn't have any animal and it was in a serious state of dilapidation. 

The same condition goes for these glass enclosures. 

For that short moment, i was quite excited to find bugs and beetles residing inside, only to realise they were all dead and attached to very noticeable metal wires.

It was all so sad! I can only hope that the theater has some interactive activities on weekends as it would be quite disturbing for the many visitors who go through this way, expecting a place full of happy living animals.

With a sign showing the direction of the "nature washroom", i was curious to find out more.

The facade looked pretty normal though; however, the same goes for most washrooms as well, even for the ones in Singapore Zoo where the washroom interiors were the surprises. 

=_=
Disappointment to the max! 

-the end-
yes, walking again.

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Map of Green Green Grasslands, Mountain View Pastoral Areas and Shoushan Ecological Park.


For an overview of my 9 Days, 8 Nights Taiwan Trip [Cingjing (清境) - Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) - Taichung (臺中) - Taipei (臺 北)], click HERE.

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