Friday, December 31, 2021

Hougang Ming Ji Wanton Noodle @ Albert Centre Hawker Centre [Singapore]

Adventure isn't on my mind whenever I visit Bugis. There are just too many dining establishments and the boring me would go for my usual; maybe the Singapore Famous Rojak or Queen Street Goreng Pisang, or Temple Street Lei Cha for something more substantial.

The Great Kon is always on the lookout for new food and our recent makan gathering; he decided to check out Hougang Ming Ji Wanton Noodle, even though we already had a filling vegetarian Japanese meal, and sharing pig trotter rice (can't do without meat)! 

Let's begin with soup; I normally don't talk about the wanton soup or even the wantons as they are just not worth the trouble. Sometimes, I don't understand why it's called wanton noodle as the wantons never seem to be the star. 

While the soup was nothing to scream about; I think there were like 6-7 small wantons inside (Kon topped up S$1) and they tasted above average with soft dough skin and at least a pinky-sized amount of meat inside! 

Now on the wanton noodles; Kon with the signature which included pork ribs and chicken feet. Alex and I were more accustomed to plain, simple wanton mee with char siew so didn't try and can't comment much on both the ribs and feet.

One look and I knew the char siew wouldn't be my cup of tea. 
I have always prefer char siew that are fatty and more charred.

Noodles were great; springy and went perfectly with the tomato sauce, and yummy pork lard! You can also choose to have it with black soya sauce which would be the more Malaysian style. Not the best wanton mee but I would hit this stall again if the craving strikes and I happen to be in Bugis.

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Address 
270 Queen St, #01-60, 
Albert Centre Hawker Centre
Singapore 180270

Map
As above.

Menu
As above.

Pricing
Signature Wanton Noodle - S$5.50
Top up Wanton Soup - S$1.00

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Solarium - Only for Guests Aged 16 and Above @ Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas

To be honest, I thought the area beyond the above doors on deck 15 of  
Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas was restricted and didn't take a closer look until my travel mate commented that it's an area only accessible for guests 16 years and above!

Of course I had to step forward for a closer look even though the age restriction wasn't that much of a draw for me, given that there weren't that many kids onboard the ship for our cruise, and it wasn't at 100% capacity due to safe management measures. 

With sloping glass panels and a fantastic location at the front of the ship, I was in awe of the scene in front of me; like a relaxing green and blue oasis in a greenhouse.

The bubbly hot tubs were my favorite although they were less desirable on a hot day. I would recommend coming at night when the whirlpools (as they are named) work their way in relaxing your muscles, and mind. 

Prefer the shiokness of the cold on your skin? You can soak yourselves in the swimming pools. I hesitate to call them swimming pools as they were so tiny! Put it this way, I will laugh, hilariously, if someone attempts to swim competitively in the pools at Solarium.

Above two photographs would give you a perspective on the dimensions, which were three cascading pools right in the middle of the Solarium and in front of the Sunshine Bar.

Those with mobility issues and are interested to take a dip in the cool water would be pleased to know that there's
a motorized chair to bring them into the pool!  

A big headed sculpture known as "Anna B's World II" by Spanish artist, Jaume Plensa

There were a ton of sun loungers in the Solarium but Asians generally enjoy sun-tanning a lot lesser than Caucasians; hence, the ones with canopy were way higher in demand! Solarium is air-conditioned but the greenhouse effect meant it could still get pretty warm.

I would suggest getting a drink, maybe a cocktail from the Sunshine Bar. In my next cruise on Quantum of the Seas, I sure hope they could extend the operating hours of their bars. Sunshine Bar closed at the ungodly timing of 6pm! 

Looking down from at the front of the Solarium. I initially thought it's a helipad and was curious why it didn't have the iconic "H" symbol. Instead, there's a smiley face with the words, "winch only". A search on the web revealed that the helicopters nowadays are too big and the safer way is for the evacuees to be winched (pulled up) into a hovering helicopter instead. 

At each side of the Solarium, there was a door and not seeing a "no-entry" or "restricted" sign means I am free to check them out! Turned out there was a balcony / lookout point beyond the door.

From the balconies, you can also feel the full extent of the ship's length and if you are lucky, the north star 360-degree observation capsule, which rises 100 meters above sea level. 

Anyone knows what this is for? p.s. privacy might be an issue if you are in staterooms with balcony near the solarium. Well, just remember to wear something.

Don't think many people were aware of the balconies. 
Or people just didn't bother since there wasn't any shelter.

There was a bistro within the Solarium but it seemed closed with drawn curtains. I didn't bother asking as I thought it's more a specialty restaurant, until I just did a search and food seemed to be complimentary. I shall check it out again in February! 

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Suay (Bad Luck) Again

Alex requested I helped him pour a glass of boiling hot water since I am in the kitchen; not a difficult task, especially when I was also waiting to get myself a cup of tea.

The next thing I knew; the glass mug burst, resoundingly if I might add, into half, sending scalding hot water all over the kitchen floor! Shocked, I stood where I was for a few seconds, not knowing what I should do next as there could be glass splinters everywhere.

Strangely, there wasn't any. The supposedly hardy hard rock cafe glass mug was simply broken into half, with the heavy bottom severed from its top! An easy cleanup, thankfully. 

Aside from the 'demise' of the glass mug, another victim was my foot which was scalded by the hot water! Rescuer came in the form of baofulin (宝肤灵), the miracle cream that's my to-go for any burns. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Smitten Ice Cream Bar - Halal Certified @ Simpang Bedok [Singapore] #halal

Ever since I scrapped my car, I don't travel that much for food and it's thanks to the Great Kon that we got to check out Simpang Bedok recently, which had changed quite a bit over this past six, seven years.

Finally an ice cream parlor that isn't located in Yishun; Smitten Ice Cream Bar! Opened in 2020, it's halal certified; for sure, you wouldn't get any boozy ice cream. Not an issue for me given that I am not a fan except for maybe rum and raisin.

18 flavors to choose from; with interesting ones like purple yakult, ondeh ondeh, atas paddle pop etc. Once again, I need to vent that it's harder to make a decision without any sampling, that was stopped due to the pandemic! Damn the virus.

Root Beer Float & Lychee Float - I might have ordered my usual tea if I were sat indoors but the outdoor required a colder beverage! The lychee float tasted better as the ice cream thrown in was likely their refreshing lychee ice cream which intensified the fruit flavor.

In comparison, the root beer float was just normal; still as thirst quenching although I can't help noticing there was a lot more bubble foam than the actual root beer! 

Brownie with Two Scoops of Ice Cream - plating is important and I think it's a mistake to use such a large plate! Why didn't I opt for waffle? Because the wait was at least 30 minutes! 

Let's review the two scoops of ice cream; the Speculoos and the purple yakult! The former was rich and had delicious bits of biscoff cookies. Enjoyable.

Purple Yakult - the Yakult (a brand selling probiotic cultured milk drink) in Singapore has five flavors and my favorite is the purple (grape) one. Hence, it's a no brainer I would choose it. Sadly, it didn't elicit the wide-eyed expression I was hoping for. It was creamy alright but tasted like those super artificially grape-flavored sweet / cream. 

Heavenly Brownie - served warm, this wasn't too dense, pretty chocolatey and every bite guarantee a piece of the walnut. I have been waiting to try baking brownies but I am seriously all confused over the various types! 

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Would love to try the waffle next time.
And no purple yakult! 

Address
348 Bedok Rd, #01-11, 
Bedok Shopping Complex
Singapore 469560

Map
As above.

Website
https://www.smittenicecreambar.sg/

Menu
As above.

Pricing
Root Beer Float - S$5.80
Lychee Float - S$5.80
Heavenly Brownie - S$4.80
Two Scoops - S$7.20
Premium Flavor - Add S$0.60 each
(Nett)

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Rasa Istimewa Waterfront Restaurant - Halal Tze Char @ Woodlands Waterfront (With A View of JB Skyline) [Singapore] #halal

My last visit to Woodlands Waterfront Park was when I still had a car and that's almost six years ago! I remember it was a quiet place as there wasn't much development then. 

Things had changed for the better during this prolonged pandemic. In addition to throngs of cyclists making pit stops, many Malaysians who are unable to return home would also drop by to take a longing look at their homeland right across the Johore Strait.

My objective was simpler; it was for dinner and our destination would be an halal eatery that should claim to be the restaurant in Singapore that is closest to Malaysia! 

Rasa Istimewa Waterfront Restaurant; coincidentally, I understand from the Great Kon that the lady boss was our former colleague in Starhub although I personally don't know her, despite remembering how she looks like. 

The unassuming façade might give you the impression that the place would be non-air-conditioned but I would like to assure you that it was! Look at those air-conditioners spaced out every few meters! 

Without further ado, let's proceed with the order! The menu was extensive and covered tze char, western, BBQ and desserts; check them out here.

Cereal Prawn (S)
- this is one dish I love to order but were often left disappointed. In the best performing version, you would get good-sized, deep fried prawns that were infused with the irresistible soul of cereals. 

The ones here at Rasa Istimewa, seven prawns in total, were big and fresh and amazingly, with bits of crispy chicken skin camouflaged in the mountain of aromatic cereals. Sadly, the cereals failed to make any significant inroads into the prawns, rendering them as just simple, deep-fried prawns. 

BBQ Stingray (S) - when I was young, I knew this as BBQ fish, which was a direction translation from a Hokkien term, and didn't expect it to come from the beautiful rays! 

Nevertheless, I do enjoy eating them! Freshness is important for any seafood and for BBQ stingray, the deal-breaker is the sambal chilli slathered onto the ray! The above was appetizing, bouncing from sweetness, sourness and spiciness! p.s. a bit too hot for me.

Pineapple Seafood Fried Rice - while more famous in eateries serving Thai cuisine, the reason why we chose this over the rest is mainly due to the fact that it seemed more luxurious as versus to vegetarian, chicken, beef, salted fish.

Super delicious; the fried rice was full of flavor, captivating us with its chicken floss, raisins, pineapple and seafood like prawns, sotongs and large pieces of scallop (as pointed out from the finger of the Great Kon). The only thing left to perfect it would wok-hei, which was strangely lacking. 

Sedap! Marinated Sotong - the word "sedap", which means delicious in Malay, caught our attention and it's like a dare for us to give it a try. I mean, if it is not delicious, why have the word as part of the name of the dish!? Of course, we have had plenty of experience with restaurants / dishes with the word "famous" in their name / dish that didn't make the cut.

Thankfully, the meat of the sotong was tender, not rubbery. The soy based marination sauce was not bad but I think a sweeter flavor would appeal to me more. 

Chicken / Mutton Satay
- normally, you wouldn't see me ordering satay in restaurants as they are already pricey on the hawker center level. Honestly, I couldn't remember why we requested for satay. 

But I am glad we did; both chicken and mutton were well-marinated, with nice spices that put them a notch higher than many of their competitors. Chicken satays remained tender and not overly cooked whereas mutton satay, while harder, had crispy edges that were delightful! Peanut gravy was too watery though. 

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Burp! Even though not everything was prefect, it was an enjoyable meal with Alex and the Great Kon. Food as a whole was definitely above average and service was quick and prompt. The restaurant appeared popular despite its remote location and I will recommend making a reservation via here.

Address
6A Admiralty Road West,
Within Woodlands Waterfront Park,
Singapore 757445

Map
As above.

Website
https://www.rasaistimewa.sg/

Other Branches
As above. The Great Kon actually visited the branch at Safra Jurong recently and commented that the food tasted better. Give it a try if you live in the west! 

Pricing
Cereal Prawn (S) - S$30.00
BBQ Stingray (S) - S$14.00
Pineapple Seafood Fried Rice - S$9.00
Sedap! Marinated Sotong - S$16.00
Chicken / Mutton Satay - S$0.80 a stick
(Subject to Service Charge and GST)

Additional Information
After a full meal, have a good walk along the 400-meter long jetty and enjoy the sea breeze and the night view of Johor Bahru, state capital of Johore. The sunset view was said to be stunning there!  

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