Saturday, July 31, 2021

Dong Fang Hong Sotong Ball Seafood Soup @ @ Hong Lim Food Centre [Singapore] #honglimhawkercentre

I had been delaying the publication of this post as Hong Lim Food Centre was closed for two weeks due to its identification as a cluster for COVID-19 infections. Anyway, it should be opened tomorrow and while I noted that we must remain vigilant to fight the pandemic, we should still support the hawkers, where possible, by maintaining safe distancing and wearing a mask.

Today's stall was one that's no stranger to me as I had noticed it the very first time I had the kaya butter toasts, coffee and half boiled eggs from Zheng Ming Drinks Stall (正明茶室). As you can see, it's hard not to notice when the stall is located just next door! 

Despite the full order from Zheng Ming Drinks Stall, I finally caved it and decided to order from Dong Fang Hong Sotong Ball Seafood Soup. Those trays of balls were literally beckoning me to check them out! 

Frankly, I thought this looked more like fish, rather than a seafood soup even though fish is technically under seafood. People who have eaten from notable seafood soup stalls like Yan Ji would know what I meant as the soup would usually appear cloudy, rather than clear; latter of which would be more associated with fish soup. 

Let's take a bite of the balls! Comprising a mix of sotong balls, fish balls and meat balls, the taste was above average with a firm, QQ texture, although not incredibly addictive. Sotong balls were, undoubtedly, the best of the lot with pieces of delectable squid meat mashed in.

Soup was, as expected, more fish soup like with a light flavour. In my opinion, it did feel a lot healthier drinking this kind of soup versus the typically more savoury and richer seafood soup. What I like most from the soup was the sprinklers of fried garlic that added bursts of sharp, aromatic flavour whenever I bit into them! 

I was way too full and had to waste the healthy soup.
I did manage to pick up all the fried garlic though. 

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Address
531A Upper Cross St, 
Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, 
#01-47, Singapore 051531

Map
As above.

Menu 
As above.

Pricing
Soup (Small)- S$5.00

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The 'Poison' from Don Don Donki in Singapore

I am a fan of Don Don Donki Singapore and there was this fan page I subscribed to on Facebook that would share interesting products sold in the Japanese discount chain store. 

Since circuit breaker last year, I recalled an increasing number of postings on a soufflé roll said to be so amazing; it was given an 'affectionate' nickname, Poison. The popularity skyrocketed and every time the cake was replenished, fans would quickly inform on the branch that it was found. 

Given the adoration by many, I was tempted to try and only managed to get my hands on one pack last week at the 100 AM branch, after a search lasting a few months! Actually, I did manage to secure the chocolate one but it didn't impress; hence the continuous search for the original, plain 'poison'.

At S$7.90, it's not cheap but you have to note its country of origin; Japan, and things imported from the country of the rising sun are never that cheap, except for those in Daiso (and even then, not everything is cheap)! Ingredient list as above in case anyone of you is interested. 

Apology for the torn 'skin' as I didn't realize it was that delicate, although I have never been explicitly known as a gentle person. So what was the first thing that stood out?

The incredibly amount of cream in the middle! How could there be so much cream?! To be honest, I bake pretty good swiss roll, which is similar to soufflé roll, and while it's visually appealing to fill up more regardless of whether it is buttercream, whipped cream, cream cheese); it can be cloying for the palate.

And my verdict after trying the 'poison'? Once is enough. True, the sponge cake was light, fluffy with a thick texture and an expected eggy flavour that tasted relatively nice. Cream was just too excessive even though it wasn't insanely sweet, which was a good thing.

I had to remove most of it as it was quite sickening to have so much cream swirling around in my mouth. In my humble opinion, I think the swiss rolls I baked were better, and I do enjoy cream cheese filling better. 😊😊😊

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Equarius Hotel - Staycation Away from the City, on Sentosa Island [Singapore]

For a person who initially didn't see the point of splurging on a local staycation; I am surprised that this shall be my 4th staycation review! This time round, though, we shall be out of the city and venture to Singapore's Island of Fun; Sentosa.  

While there are a number of hotels on the island, we narrowed down to those under Resort World Sentosa given the convenience and deals. Since Festive and Hard Rock Hotels were unavailable, we threw our lot with Equarius Hotel primarily because the room size was larger than Hotel Michael.

Checking in and collecting keycards  via the self-serviced kiosk! We arrived about two hours earlier even though our check-in, which we had to register in advance, was at noon. 

Once official check-in began, all the chairs were taken up. While safe distancing was in place, waiting can be such a frustrating affair! Hence, always good to be earlier. Even if I can't check in, I am happy to just deposit my belongings with the concierge so that I can continue my fun on the island.

Long corridor..... 

And to walk so far just to get to the lift. There's something enthralling about the round mirror; do be assured, nothing paranormal I had in mind.

Ice dispenser along the common corridor; due to the pandemic, it's not open for use given the risk of contamination. I am guessing you can call reception if you need any ice. 

Room
Our room - 428, located on the 4th floor. There was a sticker on the door, that I had removed, stating that the premises had been cleaned, sanitized and safe to use. Well, I would have expected no less, even before the pandemic. 

After giving a few knocks to signify our presence (check out Ten Taboos to Note When Staying In a Hotel), it's time to step in and check out the 51-square meter deluxe king room! 

It was spacious for Singapore's standard and definitely humongous if you compare to the 14-square meter room at Sapporo's UNIZO Inn

Out of the four staycations this year (Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Beach Road, Parkroyal Collection at Pickering and Marina Bay Sands), we had the best sleep at Equarius Hotel. The Simmons "Cool Max" luxe mattress was no doubt comfortable but I believe the key contributor, to the good sleep, was the heavy duvet.

Only complaint I had; the 42" plasma TV just didn't seem to match the size of the room and why was it facing the settee and not the bed?! Thought the purpose of having a large bed is to laze around and not wanting to get out of it?

Turned out the TV was mounted on a moveable bracket and we could just swerve it out. Okay, issue resolved and given the distance between the bed and the TV, the size of the TV was actually quite alright; I wouldn't mind a bigger television though.

The usual stuff - teabags were from the expensive TWG. Unlike Marina Bay Sands, there wasn't complimentary snacks or drinks other than water. Another thing to note, alkaline water was provided in carton form which wasn't as handy as bottled water, and they tasted weird. 

Shall we check out the balcony now? 

View; in front of us was actually Adventure Cove and it's funny that just the day before we checked in, I was at the waterpark with my dad and niece! Background of the view would be the city skyline of downtown Singapore. 

Night view; pretty nice from a distance even though it might be better if the lights at Adventure Cove was switched off as well. Bet they can't as the park also housed the ray bay, dolphin lagoon and right beneath would be the S.E.A Aquarium. 

Opportunity to take time lapsed videos! Alex loves the view so much; he insisted to keep the curtains. The thing is; I always find it eerie to be able to see outside and it didn't help that one of the lights in our room would flicker every now and then.  

Picture of the balcony; big enough with capacity for chairs and a table, unlike Marina Bay Sands. As you can see, there's no privacy between rooms and you have to remember not to step out in your undergarments! 

Now, the toilet. 

It's huge; to the extent I commented to my elder sister that it's bigger than Jovyn's room! There was a wasted space in front of the toilet bowl and I understand from a friend who stayed at Equarius Hotel a few weeks before me that there should be a bath tub! 

That's when it dawned on us; our room was for wheelchair guests! That explained the numerous safety grab bars in the toilet, the foldable shower seat and the double peepholes on the door. 

Toilet amenities - instead of small, disposable bottles of shower gel, shampoo and body lotion, Equarius Hotel provided 300-ml bottles from Vitaminspa. p.s. I am unsure if you could just cart them away in your suitcase when you check out. 

As part of the hotel's care kit, we were given two pieces of face masks and two cans of Monster energy drinks. As you can see from the flowery design of the face masks, it's not that suitable for men. We asked if there's a different design and the answer is a simple "we do not have". 

Gym
Unlike most hotels, the gym is not within the same building; you have to walk out of the main lobby, past the artificial lawn that fronted what appeared to be a function room. Strangely, the gym details were not accurately updated on the website, which listed the location as Hard Rock Hotel which was closed.

Towels and water right outside the gym, where the tracetogether check in counter was. Aligned with practices nowadays, thanks to the pandemic, do remember to register for a gym slot. I was encouraged to use their website but it's super unfriendly it kept referring me to the hotel check-in option! Do seek the help of the concierge in the main lobby if you face any issue.

A picture says a thousand words and a few pictures should mean a lot more words. One word describe the gym of Equarius Hotel; massive. Was this a function hall in the past? Maybe because I had the gym all for myself; it did feel a bit over spacious.

Photographs of a few pieces of gym equipment. I was keen to try out the rowing machine but didn't dare to as I am worried I would spoil it, given my butter fingers. 

Remember to return your used towel and sanitize your hands before leaving.  

Swimming Pool
As with the gym, you have to register for a slot for the outdoor swimming pool. I actually brought along my swimming attire but surprisingly, I felt no urge to get into the water.

Rules and regulations as above; with instructions on how to perform CPR and this life saving technique known as rescue breathing as lifeguards might not be on duty. 

Known as a free form swimming pool, it's connected to some of the beach villas and is different from the lap pool on level one of Equarius Hotel, which is only for guests of certain rooms. There are jacuzzi attached to the beach villa; do note that usage is only for villa guests, not hotel guests like me.  

Bridge that crossed the swimming pool; in the second photo, you can also see the sunbathing chairs placed randomly on the grass patch. 

Want to have a big overnight party with a few of your close peers? You can consider booking The Palace, two-storey building in the above photo that more than ten times bigger than my house at 731 square meters. It can comfortably sleep eight adults in four rooms and has its own lap pool, kitchen, massage and steam rooms! 

Decided to walk around the beach villas area; above photographs were taken on a path surrounding Adventure Cove and it provided much needed answers to the questions I had when I was at the water park.

Like the large water enclosure that seemed to be no longer functional, with water drained out and algae forming on the base.

It was connected to the dolphin lagoon and this side door offered the opportunities to interact with the dolphins for the well-heeled folks who could afford the rates of the Beach Villas. I guess their clientele is mainly from overseas as the borders have been closed for more than a year and maintaining this section might not be cost-effiicent.

Back gate for Adventure Cove.

With the above signage, I wondered if guests from the Beach Villas were offered complimentary entry in the past? If not, it would not have made sense to put up such signage right?

I recognize this place! It was where I queued for entry to the Rainbow Reef at Adventure Cove and it's in between the Rainbow Reef and Splashworks. To know more about Adventure Cove, click here

Miscellaneous
Equarius Hotel is located at the far quiet corner of the Resort World Sentosa cluster and to be honest, this didn't sit well for a hyperactive person who likes all the conveniences and amenities within reach. 

To get around, there's the complimentary shuttle service which goes on a loop service. We actually checked out the shuttle service a few months before our staycation and it was an air-conditioned mini bus.

During our vacation, however, buggies were also activated to ferry guests around. If weather is good, you can still choose to walk to the main activity area, at Hotel Michael; about 600 meters away.

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Address
8 Sentosa Gateway, 
Singapore 098269

Website
https://www.rwsentosa.com/en/hotels/equarius-hotel

Price
3D2N Tropical Nights (Deluxe Room) - S$496.58 
(Stay From 28 - 30 June 2021)

Bonus
While walking from Equarius Hotel to Hotel Michael, we noticed this pathway leading to another building. Thinking it was some special area for guests, we proceeded up the slippery path.

Turned out to be a treehouse! Now, my curiosity is piqued and noticing a functional lift, I goaded Alex to accompany me to take a look even though the entire place looked kind of deserted.

There were rooms on top and the television inside was switched on. Thinking there were hotel guests, we decided to leave. I researched about the place afterwards and understood it to be the TreeTop Lofts. Funny thing is; they are unavailable for booking so why was the television switched on? 

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