Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Taiwanese Luroufan & Stinky Tofu @ Food Loft in Ang Mo Kio Central (Next to Djitsun Mall) [Singapore]

"Wah, this coffee shop has your favourite stinky tofu"! A simple yet impactful comment from my sister jolted me out from my train of thought on where to settle our early dinner.

I took a closer look at the stall she was referring to and the signboard indicated it's a mixed vegetable stall, with options for BBQ seafood and signature Taiwanese snacks. Now, pivoting is quite common among business nowadays but this mix-and-match when it comes to food points to a lack of focus.

Nevertheless, the temptation proved too strong; how could I even resist stinky tofu, especially when it's not commonly see in Singapore! The moment the chef took out the tofu cubes and threw them into the boiling oil. I caught a whiff of the unmistakable aroma@! Mmmmmm, I can't wait to take a bite!

Taiwanese Luroufan - given my love for luroufan, I think I might as well order the "traditional Taiwanese luroufan" from the stall too. I didn't beautify the words; they were directly quoted and translated from the Chinese words on the notice.

Issue was; the braised meat didn't look at all like the traditional luroufan I had in Taiwan. Served on what looked like Rubee's old food bowl, the pieces of meat were too big and appeared to be chopped up braised pork belly; a common dish in Singapore's mixed vegetable rice stalls. 

To say I felt cheated was an understatement as this serving of "traditional Taiwanese luroufan" cost S$6.80 and I bet it would cost less than half if I were to order via the mixed-vegetable mode with rice, topped with one slice of braised pork belly, two stalks of bok choy and one braised hardboiled egg. 

Stinky Tofu - well, at least for this, my nose did pick up their pungency earlier and they were highly unlikely to be just normal, fried tofu sold at mixed vegetable stalls! Strangely, the stench was non-existent until I sank my teeth in!

The iconic stinkiness dispersed in my mouth and I slowly savoured the flavour! To be frank, while a thicker piece signifies greater satisfaction; it wasn't as crispy, the texture of the filling was on the mushy side and for any stinky tofu lover, the 'stench' could have been stronger! 

Pickles wise, they were average tasting despite having that crunchy bite. Overall not as good as Mini Star in Geylang but would make do to curb a smelly tofu craving given that Any Mo Kio is a lot closer to where I stay. At S$5.80, it's not cheap as I could have two plates of wanton mee by topping up 20 cents more at the nearby hawker centre

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Might return for the stinky tofu but definitely not for the luroufan! 

Address 
Block 721 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8, 
#01-2823, Food Loft,
Singapore 560721

Map
As above.

Pricing
Taiwanese Luroufan - S$6.80
Stinky Tofu - S$5.80

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Alley Wei (弄子里) - Taiwanese Breakfast Favorites @ Northpoint City Mall [Singapore]

Since its expansion, Northpoint City Mall in Yishun is now better known for its sheer number of dining establishment in the northern region of Singapore and this is good news for me as I stay only about a 6-7 minutes' walk away! 

In April 2021, I noticed a new eatery that took over the former premises of Kanshoku Ramen Bar; Alley Wei (弄子里) which sells traditional Taiwanese breakfast favourites like soybean milk, scallion pancake, youtiao etc. 

Now, youtiao (chinese cruellers) with soybean milk is a combination that I would occasionally crave for and I was so looking forward to trying this comfort-food pair at Alley Wei! However, the always-long queue was a bummer and then, phase 2 heightened alert kicked in, which disallowed dining in for five weeks.

In the same week the alert was downgraded (from 21 June 2021) and dining in was finally allowed for a maximum of two persons, I made a trip down for lunch! The seemingly simple menu had other items like dumplings, beef noodle soup and that's bad for me as I didn't know what else I should have! 

Collected my trays of food once the pager beeped; it was nostalgic to see the bowls being used for the dumplings, beancurd and soybean but I didn't see the point of having the youtiao and scallion pancake wrapped with paper as I didn't ask for takeaway. 

Before we start with the food, do note that the sauces / condiments for your food can be found behind a column, stored in ceramic pots. You can choose from sambal chilli, chilli sauce, vinegar, sugar syrup, white sugar and soy sauce. 

Only frustration - the serving spoon provided had too small a capacity and I took about 3 scoops fill up only half the saucer! There wasn't a lot of customers then; can't imagine the stress when it is full house.  

Hot Sweet Beancurd - I didn't tried the beancurd when I was in Taiwan and honestly, could only compare with the ones I had in Singapore; e.g. Rochor Original Beancurd, Mr Bean, Selegie Soyabean.

Real happy to see the silky smoothness of the beancurd, yet there was a distinctive, funny taste in the sugar syrup that both Alex and I didn't like. Maybe it was the kind that Taiwanese might be more accustomed to although I can't really confirm since I didn't check it out back in 2014.

Youtiao
- a chunky piece, most people would think fried doughstick is generally the same as the ingredients are quite simple. But, I have my own standard for the ones I dip into the soybean milk. 

It must be hot and crispy, with enough fluffiness to soak up the cold soybean milk!  Honestly, this could have been better if the external texture were crispier, and just a tad less oily. Maybe I should buy home and air-fry myself.

Soybean Milk - not the type I am used to drinking in Singapore. There wasn't that aromatic soybean sensation when I took a gulp but what's worse was once again the weird-tasting sugar syrup. I can still stomach it; not Alex though; he literally condemned the entire bowl. 

Scallion Pancake with Egg - my first thought after taking a bite; it's like roti prata without the fluffiness, and tasted dense with dough yet devoid of much crisp. Our dear Alex termed it as fake prata. 

Steamed Dumplings - among all that I had, these were the best although at most, above average in taste. Meat content was generous and they went perfectly well with the vinegar; I was hoping for some thinly-sliced ginger though. 
 
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Address
930 Yishun Ave 2, Northpoint City
#B1-151 (South Wing Makan Town),
Singapore 769098

Menu
As above.

Pricing
Hot Sweet Beancurd - S$2.50
Youtiao - S$1.80
Soybean Milk - S$2.20
Scallion Pancake with Egg - S$4.80
Steamed Dumplings - S$4.80
(No GST, No Service Charge)

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Pisang Goreng (Fried Banana) & Cempedak Goreng @ Mr Teh Tarik Eating House (Ang Mo Kio Central) [Singapore]

I was too early for my hair treatment appointment and decided to spend that 45 minutes by walking around Ang Mo Kio central, and identifying potential eateries to settle my dinner later that day.

The variety and sheer amount of fried snacks in the glass display stopped me in my tracks; darn, they were alluring and I can't help imaging if they were to taste as good as they look. The temptation was unstoppable and I asked my sister; want to share? 

She was agreeable! As the fried bananas and cempedak (a type of jackfruit found in southeast Asia) were sold at four pieces for S$2.00, the kind Malay auntie allowed me to buy two of each! Four of each would have been disastrous for my diet! 

Fried Banana - at just 50 cents apiece, I think this was real worth it as it's actually one whole banana! For some stalls selling Chinese-style banana fritters, I have ever seen fried banana smaller than this yet cost about S$1.50 apiece! 

Taste wise, the one I took was quite sweet even though not to the standard of king raja bananas. Again, why should I even complain for the price I paid?! Batter that was used to fry the bananas didn't result in a crisp, fluffy texture but I think it's still acceptable for the price.

Fried Cempedak - reasonable size at 50 cents each and using the same batter. I am happy with what I popped into my mouth; flesh was firm and sweet enough. Craving satisfied! Next time, I would try the rest of their fried snacks; kueh keria looked delicious! 

=====

Address
728 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6, #01-4200,  
Mr Teh Tarik Eating House,
Singapore 560728

Map
As above.

Menu
As above. 

Pricing
Fried Bananas - S$2.00 for 4 pieces.
Fried Cempedak - S$2.00 for 4 pieces.

Friday, June 25, 2021

World's Longest Elevated Swimming Pool - The Infinity Pool (Day & Night) @ Marina Bay Sands [Singapore]

One can get real trigger happy when one is on top of the "world’s longest elevated swimming pool"; I personally faced that situation in my staycation at my dream hotel, 
Marina Bay Sands

With over 50 photographs taken, the infinity pool rightfully deserved a dedicated post! Let's start from the beginning; register for a swimming slot either when you check in or via the queue registration system as informed in the above pamphlet.

Night
My first visit was scheduled at the last available slot at 11.00 pm; I was a bit tired but the fact that I could finally check out this ultra-instagrammable spot kept me excited as I scanned my temperature, tapped my room card, and checked in at the pool's entrance.

Given that users of the previous 10.00 pm slot had yet to exit, we were asked to wait at the side. 

The night was cool with the Singapore Straits illuminated by the numerous ships and even as far away as the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan. There were hot jacuzzi tubs but demand was high and with safe distancing in place, supply was limited. 

Finally, we were allowed into the 1.2 meter deep pool! 

It was a spectacularly beautiful sight; Singapore's skyline is incredible and right ahead of us was literally the whole societal fabric of the nation. From the towering skyscrapers in the business district, to the preserved monuments at the waterfront, the bustling orchard road, Singapore's tallest hill, and even pockets of public housing that a majority of Singaporeans lives in.   

So surreal yet so pretty, and feel so proud to be Singaporean.
My photography skill doesn't do it justice though.

Showing you both ends of this 146-meter long infinity pool; Marina Bay Sands had three towers and the pool was carved into three sections to allow better segregation given the COVID-19 situation. 

Alex prefers to relax and would have enjoyed better if the kitchen was still operational. Pity, our visit was timed too late and the menu only had soft beverages and mocktails.

Menu as above. No thanks to the COVID-19 safe management measures; alcohol can't be served beyond 10.30 pm and I couldn't  even get a serving of cocktail to wind down the day. My bad, I forgot about the restriction. 

Time to leave! Do note that access to the pool is limited to a maximum of one hour per room per day and that's still subject to availability. I have friends who got to stay in the hotel yet didn't manage to get an infinity pool slot. 

Day
Call us crazy but our appointment slot the next day was at 9.00 am! Honestly, I don't sleep much nowadays and I think 9.00 am was just about right for us to play with water and relax a bit in the hotel room before checking out. 

Again, we were brought to this area facing the Singapore Straits. Those who can't stand waiting in the sun can sit in the comfort of shelter at the pool's entrance.

Hot jacuzzi tubs were not popular for one simple reason; it may be morning but the sun was already relentless in shooting out high temperature rays! 

That didn't stop Alex from plonking himself in the hot tub and dragging me along! Boy, it's like double whammy given the heat from both the sun and the water! Needless to say, I was out of the tub in no time.

Those who just want to check out the view comfortably but still under the hot sun can help themselves to outdoor sofas and chairs. Hm.... it would be nice to have an umbrella right? 

Although I had already soaked in the scenery the night before, daytime is a different ball game altogether. For one, visibility is definitely better and we can look further and secondly, photo taking would be way better.

The swimming pool was like a floating oasis and gave one the visual impression that one might just fall over the edge of the pool and plummet the 191-meters down! 

Thanks god for the good weather, and in a way have to be glad for COVID-19 since the mandatory safe management measures have resulted in reduced capacity and it's not in pre-COVID times when the pool was literally stuffed with guests!

Reserving a deck chair literally inches from the pool. I am not game for the middle one surrounded by water though as a table would be necessary for some finger food and beverages! 

More photographs for your viewing pleasure. 

In case some of you are still thinking we could drop over the edge, it wouldn't happen that easily as there's a ledge and further away is a drain bordering the pool and then, another access pathway known as the catwalk. 

Someone just wanted to sleep. 

A panorama from the pool side; even though there's some fish-eye effect, the infinity pool had actually a bit of a curvature angle. Don't you just love the top of the world feeling?

There were a few restaurants on top of Marina Bay Sands; this is CÉ LA VI restaurant which is adjacent to The SkyPark Observation Deck on the far end. Guests are allowed free access to the observation deck and as expected, I would have a separate post in this blog, soon.

Food and beverage menu for your reference! 

For me, nothing starts the day better than a cocktail and the above was pina colada, which contained rum, malibu, coconut milk and pineapple. Loving it and I guess the next time I visit; I should go for the interestingly named "peace on earth".

Always nice to take zoomed-in photos for a bird's eye view; that's the former supreme court, victoria theatre, the current supreme court with the round disc for its roof and fort canning hill right behind.

Our beloved vomiting Merlion and the Anderson Bridge on the top left; as mentioned in my posting on "The Jog from Parkroyal Collection Pickering Hotel (Chinatown)", "the severed heads of criminals were hung on Anderson Bridge as a warning to discourage citizens from breaking the law" during the Japanese occupation!

The green Chinese pagoda roofed building was a clear hint on this area; that was the Tang Plaza which also housed the Singapore Marriott hotel. Area is Orchard Road.

Another beloved icon; the durians (officially known as The Esplanade)! To stay at Marina Bay Sands had always been a dream; maybe I should consider Hotel Swissôtel The Stamford next? At one time, it was the world's tallest hotel at 226 meters.

Yes, I can see the skyline of Johore Bahru from here! 

Singapore's Central Business District where a lot of skyscrapers take residence given its high property value. Despite our diminutive size, we were only ranked 12 in the world for cities with the most skyscrapers (buildings above 150 meters).

One Raffles Place - main focus was on the top of the building; 1-Altitude Rooftop Bar & Lounge, the world's highest al fresco bar! Check out my review of the place here

Sunlight was bouncing off from the top of this building in the middle, that also appeared to be the tallest in the area. I don't recognize what building it was until I checked with Alex. It's ION Orchard

Pictures for both ends of the infinity pool. 

Taking our leave; those not keen in swimming or sunbathing yet want to soak in the views can consider dining at a few of Marina Bay Sands; rooftop restaurants. The one we walked past was Spago by Wolfgang Puck. 

Note: remember to return the used towels! 

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Location
Infinity Pool, 
Singapore

Additional Information
Forgot to bring along your swimsuit or sunscreen? You can get them from the Infinity Swim Shop located at Tower 1 pool entrance.

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