Thursday, November 30, 2017

Shimbashi Soba - Warm Soup Noodle & Chilled Noodle @ Great World City Shopping Mall [Singapore]

Ever since i had my first slurp of soba (on my return flight back from Hokkaido), i have been craving for the next bite! The opportunity came when i was at Great World City recently and Shimbashi Soba restaurant caught my attention.

My lack of dining experience with soba means i know nuts about the buckwheat noodle; i had to rely on the menu for information on this "functional food" like its low-calorie count and its claim of anti-ageing benefits. 

Strict adherence to the 3 core principles ensure the freshness of Shimbashi Soba - the buckwheat seeds were milled daily, freshly made and freshly cooked. If you are particular about the original of the buckwheat seeds, they hailed from Tasmania and were grown pesticide free. 

Buckwheat - the more the merrier, especially when a hot cup of soba cha only cost S$0.30; in comparison, a glass of plain water can set me back by S$0.50 at some restaurants. 

Soba Cha - interestingly good; it was just like drinking roasted green tea and biting into bits of soggy rice crispies which were of course buckwheat seeds. I think my mom would love it! 

Shimbashi Combi Soba - since i couldn't decide whether to try the warm soup soba or go with the common chilled soba, i guess the combi soba with tempura would be the best choice for me. 

The vegetable and prawn tempura were not memorable and i attributed it to the tendons i have been facing in recent months (last of which was Akimitsu Tendon). Warm soup soba was similar to eating a bowl of plain ramen without the savouriness of meat; not my cup of tea. 

Chilled soba was still the best; refreshing and totally addictive! I had such a great time slurping my noodles after dipping them into the light sauce. They were gone in no time! Thankfully, Alex couldn't finish his portion and i happily helped myself to them.

Honestly, i couldn't fathom why i had such a strong prejudice against soba in the past. What have i been missing out all these years?!?! You know when's the best thing to eat soba? Summer and Singapore is literally summer all year round! 


1 Kim Seng Promenade,
Great World City, #B1-01,
Singapore 237994

Soba Cha - S$0.30
Shimbashi Combi Soba - S$20.80
(Subject to GST and Service Charge)

Additional Information
The soba cha is available for package although i find the pricing of S$10.80 to be on the high side; in essence, i could have 36 cups of soba cha in the restaurant if it continues to be sold at S$0.30 each. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Greenhouse beside Hanabito Field @ Furano Farm Tomita [Hokkaido, Japan]

A standalone greenhouse right behind a field filled with blooming flowers of vivid colors - it just had that special draw for you to take a closer look. 

Which we did after having a slice of Furano melon

Frankly, i don't understand the need for a greenhouse at Farm Tomita when the view outside was way more spectacular. In comparison, taking photos in the greenhouse didn't quite elicit that much of ane excitement. 

Lawson cypress, airplane plant, geranium flowers; be honest with me, did they wow you? In all fairness, they were beautiful but i doubt they make your eyes twinkle. 

Even the passion flower plant was devoid of flower. 

And there are only so many flowers i would want to take close up. Should i do that at Farm Tomita or even at Shikisai-No-Oka (四季彩の丘), i will need a lot more time! 

Nevertheless, a customary shot would still be nice and i had our usual model, Alex, standing at the wooden stake bearing the Farm Tomita name with tiny clusters of lavender flowers in front of him. 

There's a reason why i have the greenhouse as a separate post and it's not just to lament how boring it was; instead, the location of the greenhouse should be remembered by all who would be visiting the farm. 

Its location provides an amazing view of the Hanabito field with the backdrop of the towering trees, the Hanabito House and the mountains. Don't believe me?

Take a look at the above! 

Angle of the lens plays a very important part; contrast the above with the picture before it and you would have noticed that the lavender portion appeared a lot denser in the second one. I didn't photoshop anything; i merely bent a little lower and zoomed in closer to give the false impression that the family of four was buried in the midst of lavender flowers.

Last pic - butterfly collecting nectar from the lavender flowers.


Kisen Kita 15-go, Nakafurano-cho, 
Sorachi-gun, Hokkaido 071-0704, 

Location Map 
Check out my google map here

Operating Hours for Greenhouse
8.30 am to 6 pm


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Otaru Music Box Museum - The Main One @ Hokkaido [Japan]

It was said that a virgin visit to Otaru, the nostalgic port city of Hokkaido, is never complete unless you have covered the two key attractions; Otaru canal (also known as the big drain for many) and the music box museum!

Today, we shall step into the music box museum and although i didn't manage to cover everything, the following pictures would give you a rough idea on what to expect; note, the museum component is not huge in scale.

Before entering the built-in-1912 building, you would have noticed this 5.5-meter clock tower outside the entrance. Known as the steam clock, this chimed hourly and played a melody every 15 minutes! 

Inside the building - covering two floors, you would find tons of music boxes! Most were for sale and they came in all shapes and sizes. I bet you can find something you like; only issue was the pricing. 

With the technological jump for musical devices in the past few decades, it should have accelerated the demise for music boxes. However, even though sales might not be as spectacular as before, i believe the crisp melody from a music box still appeals to many people.

Old European design; they wouldn't look out of place at Buckingham palace or any of the ancient palaces in Europe. 

Not sure if the items placed within the cabinet are music boxes. In front of the cabinet was a small panel that mentioned 九谷焼 which is a Japanese style porcelain known as Kutani. 

Music box from my era when i was a kid; i remember my mum had the same one with a dancer that rotated on the tiny dance floor when the box was opened. 

Like a gigantic cake, you are looking at hundreds of musical boxes stacked on top of each other which reminded me; be careful when you have hyperactive kids! Rein them in! If need be, leave them outside! 

Dolphin-themed with dolphins of various colors.

Wood-based music boxes; those collecting musical boxes would likely go crazy here. I am so glad my hobby is collecting absolut vodka bottles and piggy banks; p.s. not just any piggy bank (click here for more information). 

There's a second and third floor (as can be seen from the above picture); shall share the map of the building at the end of the post.

Beautiful glass angels - honestly, i shouldn't term them as music boxes as it's technically not boxed up the usual way. Nevertheless, there was a box and it's hidden underneath the angelic dress.

Various colours just like the dolphins; personally, some appeared really weird in other colours and even though it offers a wider variety, it gave a layman consumer like i the impression that there's a lack of creativity.

Amusement park theme! 

Going up to the second floor; compared to the noisy crowd on the first level, it got much quieter as i climbed up the stairs. Maybe because there was so much to see; many people simply didn't have sufficient time to check out the upper floors!

A pity though as there were way more unique stuff on the second level; like the above wall mounted cats and owls. They had a string in the middle; pull it and the melody will start.

Same concept as the hanging music toy we get for infants! They don't come cheap; the copperplate one above was priced at 5,940 yen (about S$73)! 

This was cheaper at 4,536 yen; still above S$50 though.

Other as cute hanging musical boxes - there were so many to choose from; i was literally bedazzled despite thinking of buying a few as decorations for my sparse flat.

Humongous bear - couldn't find any knob to turn it on. 

View of the ground floor; guess it's human nature. We got so overwhelmed by what we see in front of us; we forgot that there might be more waiting to be explored. Oh well, i am not complaining since i don't have to jostle for space. 

Some items were made in China; hence, do check carefully as you could likely get the made-in-china at a huge discount on shopping sites like
Made in Hokkaido - Otaru is also well known for its glassware and it made perfect sense to have music boxes using Otaru glass to ornament them. 

Not everything sold at the music box museum belongs to the music box theme; like these light weighted displays of mainly felines.

Glass paper weights! 

Cute charcoal display that helps to remove odors in your cupboard; don't bother placing them in your living room as the size is too small. If you need one for a room, get a big bag of charcoal; it works better.

Big music box! I forgot to take a photo of the information plaque in front of it; hence, i am unsure if it is indeed a musical box as there were organ pipes in the middle, right behind the wooden mannequin. 

Officially the museum section where there was a showcase of antique musical devices that came after music boxes; for example, the gramophones, the radios and the CRT televisions! 

Equally interesting was the area on the development of mechanical musical instruments from 1600s to the early years of the 20th century. For goodness sake, I was borne in the 20th century! 

Aside from helpful translations (in English, Chinese and Korean), a visual 3D mock-up of the respective eras was also appealing to those who prefer to see than to read.

Traditionally plain music box with an eye-popping price; 91,800 yen (over S$1,100 each)! Almost got a heart attack.

I am a cheapo (nothing more than S$20) when it comes to gifts unless i am sure the receiver will like it or it's a present that warrants an important occasion. This one above cost 3,780 yen (S$46).

LED lighted musical box - priced at 3,240 yen (S$40), there's hardly any workmanship to justify the price! I would be better off getting a similar look-a-like alarm clock at less than S$15. 

Some of the range allowed you to choose the melody for the music box; it could be the classic auld lang syne or even the popular Let It Go. 

Beckoning Japanese geisha music box.

Clown doll musical box - with the movie "IT" being a big hit on the screen recently, i am wondering if there will be a corresponding drop in the sales of clown-related merchandise. 

Kaleidoscopes fascinates me when i was younger as there could be countless beautiful patterns down that tiny little scope! I would have gotten if i was ten years younger. Now that i am older, i know this would be dumped at one corner.

Didn't help as well when i noticed the price; 6,048 yen (close to S$75)! I can definitely spend that kind of money on a few more piggy banks.

Hm..... i don't think i need to be taught on how to use the music box. 


4-1 Sumiyoshicho, 
Otaru 047-0015, 
Hokkaido, Japan
(entrance / exit of Sakaimachi Street)

Operation Hours
9am to 6pm


Store Map
As above.