Thursday, December 31, 2015

Portico Restaurant @ 991B Alexandra Road (Opposite Alexandra Retail Centre & PSA Building)

Nothing's better than to end the year filled with food indulgences even though i am specifically referring to an entry in this blog rather than in reality as my visit to Portico was in fact earlier this month. 

This came on the back of a strong recommendation by Ms Tan who is way more into fine dining than me; i am a cheapo when it comes to food and always feels that food in restaurants has to be good for the price they charge! 

Lighting condition wasn't optimal for my amateur photography skill but i guess you can see from the photographs that the concept of the store wasn't to squeeze in as many diners as possible for a higher profit-per-square-feet ratio and i had a hard time eavesdropping the conversation at the next table.

Farmed Mushroom 3 Grain Risotto 
A must order for mushroom lovers, this was so delicious; i almost considered putting a chopper to the chef's neck so that he can pass me the recipe! 

The risotto was tastefully flavoured with the alluring essence of mushrooms and it gave a forceful punch that i have yet to encounter! For the price of S$28 a plate, it's well worth its value! 

Confit of Chicken
Nothing to scream about and i very much preferred duck instead of chicken.

Having indicated the above, i absolutely adored dipping a piece of the chicken in the lovely maple scented sweet potato puree and packaged it with the braised purple cabbage (tasted just like the tempting Sauerkraut)! 

Pulau Ubin Sea Bass Fish N Chips
Alex claimed to be the guru of fish and chips and i bet he has never had anything like this. Put it this way, just the freshness itself can be hard to attain as Portico sourced the fish directly from a kelong off the local Ubin Island! 

Aside from the totally juicy fried fish, i could not keep my fork off the apple wardorf salad. Guess i should really have attempted the chopper threat on the chef! 

Grilled Pork Sausage
Soft and tender was the pork sausage and i would not give any exceptional credit for the taste which was enhanced more by the mustard. However, i was taken by surprise by the texture of the bacon; it was cooked just right without being too hard for my teeth to chew through. 

Truffle Fries
After the article on The Straits Times that truffle oil isn't real truffles, i guess it has somewhat diminished the novelty of truffle fries. Nevertheless, the fries were as irresistible as they should be. 

Opera Delice 
This was on the house as one of our orders was forgotten! Instead of one serving to be shared among the five of us, the friendly waitress (Angie) was kind enough to offer us two! So sweet of her! 

It's a pity that i didn't enjoy them as much as my four female companions! My definition of desserts includes an important criterion for sweetness and this was overall more sourish, more bitter than sweet. 


991B, Alexandra Road, #01-10,

Operation Hours
Click here

Call 62767337

As above.


As above

Farmed Mushroom 3 Grain Risotto - S$28.00 
Confit of Chicken - S$28.00
Pulau Ubin Sea Bass Fish N Chips - S$28.00
Grilled Pork Sausage - S$9.00
Truffle Fries - S$15.00
Opera Delice - Complimentary
(Subject to Service Charge and GST)

Additional Information
Desserts section is available for those who insisted on having desserts after their meals. 

I would also like to express our appreciation to this particular waitress by the name of Angie who was cheerful, friendly and funny throughout our meal. Needless to say, she made it extremely memorable with her wonderful service. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Incredible Laser Pointers @ Yangshuo West Street [China]

As i was strolling back to the hotel after the night expedition at the touristy West Street in Yangshuo, it's hard not to notice the green laser beams shining towards us!

The shooting range was incredible and i was rather tempted to get one even though on second thought, i have absolutely no use for it and pointing it at airplanes would likely result in a visit to the court house where a fine and maybe even a jail term awaits.

When i was much younger, you don't get such good laser pointers unless it's some serious shit from the military. And of course, the price was astronomical!

Just when i was already in awe of the range, i noted another strong beam shining towards the row of shophouses where our hotel was, which was further away!

Want to buy a few at your own risk? Locate the vendor at the main entrance of West Street, Yangshuo Town! He roved around but it would be no difficult task to find him; just look out for the laser beams.


For the itinerary of the tour package (guaranteed no shopping stops) to Guilin via Chan Brothers, please check out the link here.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Yangshuo West Street at Night (夜晚阳朔西街) - Charming Yet Touristy @ Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region

Walking on well trodden ancient cobblestone is something i look forward to whenever i travel out to countries with centuries of history and for a place like China, it's a given that i would have my feet planted on at least one such street in my recent trip. 

My wish came true on the third day when we arrived at the quaint town of Yangshuo. Imagine how pleased i was to hear from the guide that our hotel for the next two days would be extremely close to one of the busiest streets in Guangxi province; West Street.

Notice the Chinese characters (neon red) on the right side of the above photograph; 萬麗花園大酒店? That's Elite Garden Hotel, where we stayed. Superbly close to West Street right?!

The late timing at 10pm didn't deter me from checking out the crowded, lively scene right ahead of me. Oh, i was as excited to find a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet! 

And i did! Lousy it was though; too much flour and there was hardly any flavour to them. Guess we were too pampered here in Singapore with too many fried chicken choices like Arnold's Chicken, 4Fingers etc etc. 

Let's continue with this pictorial post; a shop with ocarinas (陶笛) for sale! I would have bought a few if not for the memory of Jovyn breaking the one i got from Jiufen, Taiwan

From a herb and tea shop; packs of big black ants with the abilities to strengthen liver, kidney and even counter rheumatism! How true is that i am not sure. 

Street food vendors; our guide specifically warned us against buying the mutton skewers as he had heard quite a number of horrid stories pertaining the source of this popular snack! 

As our meals were covered throughout the street except for the last day, i didn't have stomach space to ingest a full meal anyway. And it's best i don't overindulge; at least not under the watchful eyes of my nagging father. 

An underground art gallery that counted illusion arts, 3D pictures, wax figurines as their attractions. 

The wax figurines were extremely realistic unlike those we often read about in newspapers. Those familiar with the China's dating show "if you are the one (非诚勿扰)", you would recognise this man. 

A 6D movie theatre next door; thought we have the same thing in Singapore Flyer. Tickets were priced much lower if i recollect correctly; the one in Singapore was definitely more than $10 a person! 

Cooler temperature before the start of winter and being surrounded by towering karst hills made my walk extremely comfortable and relaxing. 

Beer fish - the most famous dish to have in Yangshuo; we managed to have it as a dish during one of our meals and i didn't feel it to be exceptional.

Another signature local specialty; osmanthus walnut cake.

Makeshift vendors in the middle of the street, just like Taipei's Shilin Night Market! The street was much wider at Yangshuo and there was plenty of walking space for us. 

LED night lights at RMB 10; prices were said to be exorbitant in Yangshuo so do try to bargain. For all you know, you could get something similar at a fraction of the prices in

Frog cake?!?!?! By the sound of it, i would reject any offer of it straightaway but its name doesn't mean frog meat was used. Instead, the name draws reference from the shape of the cake which is frog like. Eating the frog cake (more like pastry) is a must do during the frog festival of the Zhuang minority tribe; it was believed that the frog goddess controls the weather and hence, honouring the frogs would bring good weather and harvest. 

Ox bone carving that would make interesting yet morbid accessories. Speaking of which, i thought diamonds made from ashes are totally cool. 

Main street - similar to Malacca's Jonker street, there are lanes branching off from the main street even though you would not find many belonging to traditional trades. 

Except for those selling traditional handmade snacks like osmanthus ginger sweet which i missed deeply! 

My first encounter with the sweet was in Lijiang (Yunnan province of China) and fell in love with it. Needless to say, i bought quite a few packs back and purposely requested fresh ones from the "pull" and "cut"! 

Another would be the hammered crispies (木锤酥) that were similar to our local Gong Tng. 

The shop operators welcomed tourists who are keen to hammer the crispies made from honey, osmanthus flowers, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and peanuts! Don't be shy to make a request! 

Loads of sampling! Bet my younger sister can have a satisfying meal just by loading herself with the available samples. And they were unusually fresh too! 

Quite a number of street vendors were selling the above fragrant beancurd although I was in fact looking around for stinky tofu!  

Banking on the culture of the minority tribes in the region, there were shops selling unique souvenirs. Point is, i wouldn't buy any as my house is not spacious enough to house them. Furthermore, there's a high chance the items would collect dust. 

There were times when i find it hard to resist; like these beautiful pinwheels! I have never seen anything like them elsewhere; prices were (thankfully) a bit steep in my opinion.

Seemed like a side road leading to hostels. As i probably have mentioned before, so long you are not that picky with accommodations, you can definitely find a place to rest in China. Criterion is that the place must be popular with tourists, regardless of whether they are locals or foreigners. 

Would you dare to hang these up on your walls? Not for me. 

Dad rarely buys anything when he travels; there's only one exception and you can see him spending precious time searching and then pondering if he should get it.  

Answer: Photo books showcasing local scenery! This was originally priced at RMB 65 and he bargained it to RMB 35! Good job although we realised a few days later that we could get it cheaper at RMB 20 in Guilin City. 

Those who read Chinese might enjoy shopping at this shop better; for example, laugh at funny signs like " we are still 99 years away from being a hundred year old shop" etc that were up for sale. 

A 9D experience?! Next time, it would be 15D one although i am unsure how it would turn out to be. 

RMB 50 for one painting! That's quite a deal and might help to adorn the likely plain white walls in my new house. However, i think i prefer the Thailand art style which is more modern.

Drums that can be used to play along with the music CD. I was more attracted by their operating hours sign; if cannot sleep, the shop opens at 7am, if cannot wake up in time, it will open at noon. If the operator isn't too hungry, closing time is at 11pm but if the person is famished, it shall be moved forward to 7pm! haha.

T-shirts that would make good gifts for your enemies - you can find Chinese words like liar, freak, pervert, beast etc printed on them. Pity they don't have one with the equivalence of "bitch".

The shorty's pastry (矮子馅饼) with three key selling points; no sweetener / coloring that would ironically aid in a kid's growth, no animal oils and not oily which would not result in weight gain, remains fluffy whether it's hot / cold and even the elderly with no teeth love them! 

Craving for German hot dogs? 

Caricatures drawing is so passe; with just a photo image of you, this gentleman can carve out a splitting image of you! That's amazing and says a lot on the skill!!! Price: 80 RMB.

Another instance where human skill matters; the drawing of portrait on a tee shirt even though i could not want to be caught using a tee shirt with my image on it; so narcissistic! 

Tired of walking; soak your feet in water and let the dead skin eating fishes have their fill. 

While convenience stores are aplenty in other places, i chanced upon this towards the end of the street! Frankly, it would be a matter of time before someone buys this shop over and converts it to an establishment that can earn better profits from the tourists.

Beside restaurants offering local cuisines, there were a number offering Western cuisines as well with alfresco seating. It's not hard to notice that local food triumphed over "imported" food. 

Temporary air brush tattoos so that you would not regret your decision! The issue is more with the preset designs which means there's hardly any uniqueness from the others. 

Flower based cigarettes said to be made purely from flowers; i might have given it a try if dad wasn't with me. Unbeknownst to some of you, i used to smoke when i was younger but kicked the habit after i started working as a dental assistant during my national service. 

Another stall selling drums and CDs of original music which i presume to have a strong minorities tribal element. It was quite relaxing to hit the drum according to the music beats even though i have a strong feeling my neighbours would not welcome it. 

Those who love to club or listen to people singing might enjoy the numerous watering holes along the street and its branch offs. You may refer to the pictures above. 

Their design and concept can be pretty eclectic but you have to admit they do catch your attention! Since dad and i don't drink, we steered clear from their paths.

I am a boring person; a simple cafe was more my cup of tea.

As a person who enjoys taking pictures, i am always on a lookout for an elevated position for a better shot. Having WiFi access would be a bonus obviously. 

Shot the above picture from the Riverside Cafe! I was actually all alone as dad was tired and i told him to go back to the hotel first. I am a big boy and can bloody take care of myself! 

Random pictures for your viewing pleasure! 

Do not focus on the main street only as there's plenty to see at the sides as well; lighting conditions were not great and i made a mental note to return the next morning. 

We did note a piece of Singapore here in Yangshuo; there's a Ya Kun here! 

I have absolutely no idea how this survived given its deserted location! As with the convenience stall, there's a high risk of redevelopment and my bet would be a bed and breakfast inn. 

You have a good voice and would like to serenade to the general public? Make use of the portable karaoke system by paying a small fee (i have no idea how much since i am not prone to public display of my tone-deaf singing).

I would very much prefer to listen to the experts; in this case, an older man who would blow you over with his melodious flute performances. 

- End- 


Yangshuo Town, Guilin City,
Guangxi, China

This post covered the two nights that i visited West Street which was otherwise also known as Foreigners Street. This above photo was taken on the second night, on a Saturday.