Friday, May 07, 2021

Loyang Way Big Prawn Noodle (Soup & Bee Hoon) @ Hong Lim Food Centre [Chinatown, Singapore] #honglimhawkercentre

Hong Lim Food Centre is so full of delicious food that I have yet to complete trying all their popular stalls! My sister just told me of another stall with lip-smacking good char siew but today, my focus is on a prawn mee stall that came strongly recommended.

It's none other than Loyang Way Big Prawn Noodle! As the name suggests, it originates from the far eastern side of Singapore and this is its 3rd or 4th branch. The Great Kon was full of praise for it and I patronized with a tummy of excited anticipation. 

There wasn't a queue and I got my bowl of big prawn noodle with bee hoon without much delay. Standard noodle is the yellow noodle type which I generally don't fancy unless they are in char kway teow or hokkien mee.

Aside from two decent-sized prawns sliced into half, there were slices of pork, bean sprouts, an paltry amount of pork lard and a sprinkling of deep fried shallots. Seriously, the prawns shouldn't have been sliced half as it so reduced the satisfaction when one bites through.  

As can be seen, the soup was the clear kind; flavourful with a dash of spiciness and pepperiness. However, it didn't taste much of prawns and I personally feel the soup was more pork infused. Nevertheless, the bee hoon, with its ability to soak up the broth, was palatable and a joy to have! 

I went to Hong Lim Food Centre again today and Alex ordered the same prawn noodle again. Since it was in front of me, of course I had to steal a spoonful of soup. Turned out real different from my first try two weeks ago; the flavour of prawn was way more noticeable, even the colour of the soup (above) was a bit redder. 

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Address
531A Upper Cross St, 
Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, 
#01-64, Singapore 051531

Map
As above.

Menu
As above.

Pricing
Big Prawn Noodle (Soup) - S$5.00

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Champion Bolo Bun Cafe along Tanjong Pagar Road - Really the Best Bolo / Polo Buns in Singapore

S$2.80 for a polo bun?! That sentence came out from my sister's mouth when I told her of this pretty good polo bun from a brand that originated from Hong Kong. Irony is that this was the same sister keen to try a new cafe along Tanjong Pagar Road, that focuses only on polo bun and it's priced minimally SS$4.50 apiece. 

Operational only for a short period of time daily (12.00pm to 3.30pm), except for Mondays; both the line to order and wait were said to be long! But good things should be worth the wait, given the above information. 

I was lucky; no one was queuing to order although there were a quite a number of people waiting for their polo buns both inside and outside the store! After I indicated my order, it's my turn to wait for the pager to beep. 

Many were just lingering around on the first floor but with the safe distancing measures, seats were quite limited and I decided to check out the second floor, even though it was expected to be full.

Way more seating and more inline with the cafe setting, featuring a minimalism look! I was thinking why champion bolo bun is considered a cafe, given what I saw on the ground level and without any knowledge, then, of an upper floor.

There was even a third floor but from the notice on the door, it's only for invited guests. Nevertheless, I had then managed to secure a table with four seats on level two (lady luck hit me a second time) and was happy to stay put. 

After a wait of 25 minutes, I finally got my buns! As I thought I wouldn't be able to secure any table / chairs for a sit-down indulgence within the cafe, I had requested for takeaways. I would have to anyway since I got like 10 boxes of polo buns.

Offering four types of polo buns, I shall review three of them here; the classic, classic with butter and the mini of 4. You would have realized I kept writing polo buns, instead of bolo buns as the former is more commonly used to address the bun.

They looked almost the same from far but look closer and you would realize the mini of 4 was as described whereas the classic with butter would have the "butter" sticker on the plastic cover, and of course, the noticeable slab of butter in between the bun. 

Mini of 4
- shall start with this one; tore one piece off and bit half off. Oh my gosh; this was amazing and I was begging for more even though the remaining three were already in the hands / mouth of my family members.

Classic - proceeding to the next one since everyone's concentration was still with the mini. 

Once I chomped through, it's once again that soft touch of a fluffy bun tied in with an ultra delicious thick, biscuit-like crunch from the top. I don't know about you but when it comes to polo bun, the top crust is my favourite part! 

Classic with Butter - going to the third one. Well, there was an added buttery aroma and flavour although I am more than happy to stick with my classic, that cost 50 cents cheaper. 

Showing you the thickness of the crust, which can be easily separated from the bun; that's bad news for us as Jovyn only attacked the crispy part and left the bun alone! If you ask me, go for the classic for the amplified satisfaction but if you prefer to share, get the mini. 

A very important point to note: do eat the polo bun within 20 minutes! You can exchange it if it's not consumed within 20 minutes, with the original receipt. I am glad I did within minutes upon collection as the polo buns were so good; they were the best I ever had in Singapore. I did bring one home for Alex and taste, texture wise; really not as fantastic as what I had fresh out from the oven. 

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Address
92 Tanjong Pagar Road, 
Singapore 088513

Map
As above.

Menu
As above.

Pricing
Mini of 4 - S$4.50
Classic - S$4.50
Classic with Butter - S$5.00
(Subject to GST)

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Staycation at Parkroyal Collection Pickering Hotel (Chinatown) - Urban Room in Singapore #staycation

Parkroyal Collection Pickering may not sound familiar to some of you but the stunning structure, with greenery that seemed to take root from within, might ring a bell or two, especially if you have ever driven out of CTE through the Havelock Road exit!

Frankly, I am having a hard time deciding how to review this hotel as there were about a hundred pictures I would be sharing in this blog post. Whatever the case, I would just let the content flow naturally.

Some basic information about the hotel; it was completed in 2013, had a total of 367 rooms from level 6 to 15, and won the World's Leading Green City Hotel in 2020. Truly impressive to read that they had solar cells to power their sky gardens, saved enough water annually to fill up "32.5 Olympic-sized pools" etc. 

Reception area; you know what this reminded me of? With the high, layered ceiling and columns, it did seem that I was in a cave! It was most unusual and the only other time I felt the same way was the sandy lobby at Adaaran Club Rannalhi in Maldives

Plenty of seating on the lobby level that served different needs; from a casual chat with your family or friends to a discussion with a business associate. If you need a drink, there's a bar that served alcohol. 

Lime Restaurant - resident restaurant for Parkroyal Collection Pickering; I didn't manage to dine there as my staycation didn't include breakfast. There's no need to since Hong Lim Food Centre is right next door! 

Got our room cards - it's true that our room number is 1234 and Alex was shocked enough to decide it's not a mere coincidence and threw in S$50 to buy 4D, which we didn't win. Sad.

Care pack given by the hotel; hand sanitiser, surgical masks and disinfectant wipes. Nothing uncommon and I still have plenty of them at home; however, still a nice gesture amidst the pandemic.

Note: this QR code is essential for you to book the slots for the gym and pool. I find it so troublesome but we should all do our part to fight this unrelenting pandemic. Either that or you can choose not to visit the pool / gym; choice is yours.

Lift lobby beside the Lime Restaurant; the ceiling appeared even higher due to the mirror on top! Excited to check out my room; would I be given a view that faces the Singapore River and City Hall or the other side, where we can say good morning to occupants of a nearby residential block.

12th floor - walking through a sheltered yet outdoor corridor to room 1234. 

Immediate surroudnings; Chinatown area, including Pinnacle@Duxton, a 50-floor public housing with resale prices constantly breaking the million dollar mark! From certain angle, in between the two housing blocks, you can also see the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.

So this was the residential block that my sister's friend was complaining about. Keeping my fingers crossed as the direction to my room put us at a higher risk! 

Do remember to keep your belongings tight as your items may drop a few floors down. Alex had to keep reminding me to keep my mobile phone, knowing how clumsy I am.

Another thing; the passage can be dim at night as there wasn't sufficient lighting! The above photo was taken using my iPhone which would auto-compensate the lack of lighting; in reality, it was a lot darker. 

Urban Room - No 1234.

Floor to ceiling windows, a king sized bed that had pillows long enough to substitute as a bolster and an alcove which was strangely designed for people to face the bed. 

You got what I meant?

Bed was a bit too soft for my liking even though it was super comfortable just to lie on and laze around for a long period of time. On the television, it's a surprise that we switched on only once and even then, for just a short period of time. Contrast that to a few years ago when Alex would insist to sleep with the television switched on!

Complimentary bottled water that was purified in-house - despite its eco-friendliness, I prefer plastic bottles as they are way more convenient to bring out! Anyway, if you are keen to bring home the glass bottle, do note that it cost a hefty S$20 each. 

In-room safe, bath robes, ironing board, the iron (duh) and an umbrella. 

Electric kettle, mugs, wine glasses, free instant coffee / tea bags and a mini-fridge that I can't seem to open; not a big deal to me as I didn't have anything that require refrigeration. There was also a separate bin for recyclable materials (plastic, glass, paper). 

Ports available for use; I should have brought along my laptop and HDMI cable so that I can watch my running man! On second thought, it's okay as I am too lazy to lug my laptop. 

Thankfully, I didn't get the residential block view even though I didn't manage to secure the one facing Singapore river too. I believe those on the top level of Great Eastern building can see us clearly as the windows are "not tinted to allow maximum sunlight"! 

How did I know such nuggets of information? 
From this wooden cube on the table. 

In any case, blinds were available to protect our privacy. You would have the options for day / night binds and they can be automatically toggled instead of using the irritating cords. 

Night blinds down! 
p.s. not fully. 

Open concept bathroom with glass shower area which I wouldn't like if I were to stay with my parents; it would be so embarrassing right?! 

Rest assured that you can still close off the area! I actually didn't realize until Alex started moving the panels which were well hidden! 

As Parkroyal Collection Pickering is a relatively new hotel, I thought rainfall shower would have been the default provision, which wasn't the case. 

Standard toilet bowl, no bidet. I wonder if any hotels, save for those 5-star ones, in Singapore that actually install those high-tech Japanese toilet bowls which are basic fixtures in Japan. p.s. poor lighting in the toilet at night; bring your mobile phone and if need be, switch on the torchlight function. 

Packs of toiletries; they looked kind of familiar and it finally dawned on me. I saw the same things in my first staycation at Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Beach Road. Good, good since I super love the shower gel from METIS! p.s. there's also a hair dryer hidden in the drawer. 

Final look of the room before we proceeded to check out the swimming pool, the gymnasium and the garden walk that's said to be 300-meter long! 

Pity we didn't manage to get the rooms on this side. Those looking for rooms closer to greenery can consider requesting for rooms on the 6th, 10th and 14th floor.

Level five - these two photographs were taken on the second day as there was a solemnization ceremony at the terrace on day one and there were tables and chairs. Don't you just love the cabanas that appeared like bird cages when you were looking at Parkroyal Collection Pickering from the outside!

Staircase down to the 300-meter long Garden Walk.

It borders the swimming pool, and you are literally flanked on both sides by plants but, nothing quite impressed me, except for maybe the giant elephant ear plants and "water screens", as some newer HDB blocks had similar trails on their sky gardens. 

Quite funny to see tables, chairs, decorations, likely used for events on the terrace, being stored, in clear sight for those taking the garden walk. Would have expected privacy screens to shield such "backroom" props from guests. 

Walking to the gymnasium / swimming pool area; shall talk about the gym first as the infinity pool would be THE highlight given that I took a lot more photographs. 

Gymnasium - I thought this was fairly large for Singapore's standard and they did provide dedicated machines, other than the usual treadmills and dumbbells.  

Swimming Pool - honestly, what attracted me most wasn't the infinity pool as its location wasn't sky high and you would get a much better view if you are staying in the hotel rooms that are all located above the 5th floor.

The colourful cabanas, that looked like a cross between a vase and a bird cage, were the main draw for me. With chairs placed within, you can in fact use it as a private dining / socializing area. 

Pool menu as above! 

Most popular cabana had to be the red one that jut out from the infinity pool via an exclusive over-the-water bridge.  

I was lucky to claim itas there was no one inside; threw my belongings down and it's time to jump into the pool. As I brought along my DSLR, the cabana's exclusivity would help assure the safety of my stuff.

Looking out from the red cabana; the gymnasium was at the back and directly behind the hotel would be the blocks of public housing. To the left is actually the spa.

Garden Walk as seen right outside the red cabana.

More photographs for your viewing pleasure. 

Pool wasn't that long and pretty narrow; better for a soak rather than a swim, which I am more than happy to do. Soaking in water can be so therapeutic sometimes! 

The cityscape in front wasn't much, not when you look over the infinity pool. Yes, there's the pathway for the Garden Walk I shared earlier. The 300-meter walk covers the circumference for the entire fifth floor of the hotel.

Lookup view was mind-boggling; it's like we were surrounded by a towering cliff. Imagine a waterfall cascading down from the top floor!  

Enjoying the sunbathing with a cocktail; the magical nero; consists of hendrick's gin, elderflower syrup, black gum sugar, apple juice, lime infusion and mint leaves. 

It didn't escape me that there were quite a number of such holes on the ceiling and I wondered if there are any special reasons why they were there since as far as ventilation is concerned; it's not an issue. 

Looks like it was for illumination purpose.

A nice surprise awaited me when I returned to my room after lunch; desserts, a box of chocolates and a card. It was my birthday on the day of the check-in and the staff checking me in did notice the birth date on my identification card; she wished me happy birthday and I thought that's it. 

The card was attention to Mr Chiu though. Oh well, it wasn't a birthday card, more like a welcome card and addressing it to Alex sounds right since the reservation was under his name.

Let me share with you one funny incident that happened at the swimming pool the very first time I stepped in and it has to do with the above; I actually fell in while stepping backwards to take a photo! 

My shoes were drenched, my socks were wet and my short pants looked like I took a piss. It was exasperating alright but what's more embarrassing is that it has happened to me before and I should have been wiser not to make the same mistake for the second time! 

Sigh... and I needed the shoes for my jog later in the evening. My room doesn't face the setting sun and I knew for sure the shoes would dry in time. Guess what's my next best option? I bought a new pair! 


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Most important question; was it a good stay? It was, given the unique architecture of the hotel and its focus on going green. In addition, no complaint about the service, not when they already bribed me with the desserts and chocolates on my birthday! 

Jokes aside, Parkroyal Collection Pickering had the advantage of close proximity to Chinatown, within walking distance from Chinatown MRT station, and is a literal next door neighbour to Hong Lim Food Centre where you can find a couple of good food stalls like traditional toast, char kway teow, roast delights, muffins, pancakes etc. 

Address
3 Upper Pickering St, 
Singapore 058289

Map
As above.

Website

Pricing
Urban Room - S$211.86 a night via trip.com

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