Monday, December 31, 2012

Wild Honey @ Scotts Square, Singapore

My foodie friends have been raving about this particular restaurant - "Wild Honey", for quite some time. As always opened to suggestions for good food, I decided to do brunch with girlfriend on a Saturday afternoon. It was approximately 3pm - the both of us have some troubles waking up from our comfortable nest, but who cares, as brunch in Wild Honey is an all-day affair.
 
It turned out that skipping the peak hours was a good choice, as we were being ushered to our table within minutes. A salt-and-pepper haired caucasian in his mid 40s, who seems to be one of the managing staff, was brimming with enthusiasm and all smiles when handing us the menus and explaining bits and pieces of it that we couldn't comprehend - a plus point for service. Ambience-wise, Wild Honey does not lose out as well. It is cozy and intimate, equipped with trendy wooden furnitures lined with cute cushion covers, all placed across a floor of beautiful kaleidoscopic tiles. Lovely.
 
Serving time usually takes more than a while, so it is ideal to enjoy a cup of your favourite brew while waiting for the main courses to arrive, which for my case - it is definitely gonna be good ol Cuppucinno (S$6.00) with a dash of cocoa powder. The froth was thick enough for my liking and just able to leave a foamy moustache every time I sipped it. Opposite from yours truly, Girlfriend doesn't drink coffee, but is a lover of good tea. A pot of Lemon Verbena (S$6.00) served with honey was her choice. But again, maybe that what makes us attract - opposites.
 
 
Soon enough, our sides arrived. The lightly salted Breakfast Potatoes (S$3.50) was a delight to our empty stomach, while the imported Smoked Sturgeon (S$10.00) was probably one of the best seafood dishes I had. Despite the sheer serving size, every single bit of meat presented was well-seasoned, fresh and tasteful.


For the main course, we shared the English Breakfast (S$24.00). Big portions, a good mix of flavours and, playful colours that would brighten anyone's day up - that is how breakfast should be. What more can I ask for with a breakfast like this, which includes slices of brioche, (more) potatoes, streaky bacons, chunky pork sausage, juicy sauteed mushrooms, baked beans, grilled tomato and not to even mention, the basis of breakfast - eggs. No breakfast should be called breakfast without eggs. They are like a compulsary item for breakfast, and for Wild Honey's case, they did it so damn well with their signature fluffy scrambled eggs, that were so full of flavour and eggy goodness.


The total bill comes close to $60, but this is money well-spent. Wild Honey is definitely a place that I see myself coming back again. For your information, they do have another branch located at Madarin Gallery (Orchard) as well.




Wild Honey

Tel: 6636 1816

Operating Hours
Mon - Fri: 09:00 - 22:30
Sat - Sun: 08:00 - 22:30

6 Scotts Rd
#03-01
Scotts Square

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reviewing 2012

While the days and months passed-by so quickly that I barely took notice, especially the month of December - it was quite a hectic month for myself, and soon enough, another year is coming to a close soon. For some people, 2012 meant the Mayan's forecast to the end of time, which fortunately did not occur, obviously. And for some, this year has proved to be another abundance-filled and fruitful one, whether you graduated, got a job promotion, found your significant other or even, did something that you wanted to do for a long time, yet did not have the chance (and the list goes on and on..)
 
And, I thought it was high time to review back some highlights of my year.
 
1. TheNomsaurus
 
About 4 months back in late August, I had this idea of sharing reviews of food that I have came across, coupled with my travel journals and occasional recipes, and soon after - this food blog titled "TheNomsaurus" came to life. To be honest, little did I expect it to garner so many views. Although I do humbly know that 8,400 (as of 30 Dec) is nothing to "wow" about, it was indeed an achievement to myself and I will continue to strive for higher viewerships and goals, well.. one step at a time. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers for the support. You have no idea how important you are to the development of this humble blog.
 
 
My Top 3 Blog Posts
 
 
 
2. Travelling
 
Despite gotten my compulsory vocation as a full-time soldier, I have had the chance to travel around a fair bit this year. In the month of March, I visited my Malaysian relatives at Kuala Lumpur for the first time in many years. After which, we played host when they came over just recently. 
 
 
 
In July, some friends and I embarked on a relaxing journey to Tioman, far away from our hectic lifestyles. Together with girlfriend's family, I visited Kuala Lumpur (and Genting) again in early October. Do check out my itinerary for Tioman under the Index tab.


Last but not least, the long awaited Taiwan trip was finally checked-off the list in mid-November. Do check out my itinerary for Taiwan under the Index tab.
 
 
3. Giving Back to Society
 
Recently, I have been volunteering in Toa-Payoh/Bishan's Youth Executive Committee (YEC). Although residing in the West area in Clementi, I might consider giving their committee a try. I always wanted to participate in charity or volunteering works, but constantly finding lame excuses to postpone them till furthur dates, well.. I decided it's time to give back to the society. Partially, thanks to my good friend - Jin Kiat, a YEC grassroot leader who continues to encourage me to participate.
 
 
4. Digital Doodles
 
One of my favourite past-times is drawing, and earlier this year, I took up digital art. For your information, I did my diploma in digital media (3D animation major), but planning on taking a bachelor in psychology instead. My drawing  skills are still far from standard, but here are some samples, for more drawings and art pieces (photography and 3D), please do visit my online portfolio at: http://thomaschancw.wix.com/portfolio
 
 
(clockwise from top left): Jayesslee, Seduction of O Adam, My Friend as Wonderwoman, Portman
 
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Once again, I look forward in welcoming you onboard to embark on this gastronomy journey. May 2013 be a more exciting and fruitful year, yet.

Thank you and God bless.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Batter Fluffy Flaps @ East Coast Rd, Singapore

"Jack flips buttered flaps with battered fluffy bats." Be greeted with adorable sheep cartoons and quirky tongue twisters such as that, when you stepped into this cozy pancake cafe located opposite Katong I12. Batter Fluffy Flaps, or better known as BFF (not to be confused with "Best Fries Forever") boasts not just their all-day fluffy pancakes, but also a place to chill out with your BFF (Best Friends/Family Forever).

BFF Special (S$39.00) which consists of  2 pancake meals, a side and 2 beverages, is an ideal promotion set if you're eating with a friend or two (we shared it among four for a light lunch). Prices listed below is as of individual pricing, without discounts nor promotions.

Truffle Ruffles (S$8.00) - Crispy fries tossed with truffle oil, garnished with a little grated Parmesan and parsley. This side dish tasted not much different from your usual fries, as with the faint, or rather - no trace of truffle aroma.


Who says pancakes are only for breakfast? We had the Breakfast Mambo Combo (S$14.00) at 'bout 4pm, it comes in a set of ham, bacon, poached eggs, chipolata sausages, together with two fluffly pancakes. Aside from the regular sidekicks, I expected the pancakes to be hot from the pan, but it was only lukewarm. Nevertheless, they are still properly moist and soft on the inside, and it forms back to shape slowly when gently pressed using a finger.


For me, I prefer good ol pancakes paired with cold ice cream, it's like an unbeatable and fail-proof dessert that would melt anyone's heart, such as their Strawberry Cheesecake Flakes (S$12.00). Two pancakes layered with house-made cream cheese and strawberries, sprinkled with buttered digestive crumbs and, topped with a scoop of strawberry ice cream and sauce.


Besides all the pancake sets, you can create your own pancakes (S$14.00), by choosing a selection of flaps, fruits, toppings, ice cream and sauces. They do serve home-made blends and alcoholic beverages as well.

BFFs - Jesline and Victor

To be awfully honest, Batter Fluffy Flaps does have a long way to go if they still stay true to "giving the best pancake experience", but if you happened to be there (maybe after a cycle at the nearby East Coast Park), why not give them a try too? For more information such as the full menu and a customized party, do visit their main site at: http://www.batterfluffyflaps.com/




Batter Fluffy Flaps

Tel: 6440 7071

Opening Hours
Mon - Thurs: 11am to 10pm
Fri: 11am to 11pm
Sat: 9am to 11pm
Sun: 9am to 10pm

89 East Coast Road
#01-01

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Suki-Ya @ Marina Square, Singapore

With the restaurant motto of 'Eat all you can Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu', Suki-Ya (which translates into "House of Hot Pot") aims to offer a heart-warming dining experience at affordable prices. We happened to be at Marina Square on Christmas night, and thought that a hot pot dinner was an ideallic option for a cold season like this. (Okay, not exactly cold - Singapore has no seasons other than summer.)
 
The Eat-All-You-Can/buffet prices are as such:

Mondays-Thursdays
Lunch @ $16.90++ // Dinner @ $20.90++

Fridays-Sundays, Eve of and Public Holidays
Add $2 to usual price

Children (4-9 Years Old)
Minus 25% off Adult Price

Diners get to enjoy unlimited, quality paper-thin beef and pork slices, as well as chicken, on top of the buffet bar where a wide variety of vegetables and meatballs are served. There are a total of four options for the broth - Shabu shabu, kimchi, sukiyaki and spicy miso, which is only available on weekends, eve of and public holidays. For buffet option, you get to enjoy free flow of green tea too.
 

Besides the buffet items included, you can order a la carte items, such as edamame, gyoza, ebi tempura and my personal favourite - unagi kebayaki. Alcoholic and other drink options are available as well.
 
Please do note that food wastage is heavily charged at 20% of total bill.
 
 
Prior to this, I've done some online research on Suki-Ya and found quite a handful of bloggers/diners complaining about their unsatisfactory services. However, I find no problems with the service staff (or is it because of the merry festive?), but they could definitely improve on their food variety, perhaps by including some of the a la carte items into the buffet.
 
For more information and menu, do visit their main website at:
 
 
 
 
Suki-Ya
 
Tel: 6337 9969
 
Opening Hours
Mon - Fri: 11:30 - 22:30
Sat - Sun: 11:30 - 23:00
 
6 Raffles Boulevard
#02-13F/G
Marina Square

Saturday, December 22, 2012

5D4N Taiwan Trip Itinerary: Day 5 - National Palace Museum

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Day 5
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Activity 1: National Palace Museum

The National Palace Museum is an art museum in Taipei City, Taiwan. It is the national museum of the Republic of China, and has a permanent collection of 693,507 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest in the world. The collection encompasses over 8,000 years of Chinese history from the Neolithic age to the late Qing Dynasty. Most of the collection are high quality pieces collected by China's ancient emperors.

The National Palace Museum and Palace Museum, located inside the Forbidden City in the People's Republic of China, share the same original roots, which was split in two as a result of the Chinese Civil War. In English, the institution in Taipei is distinguished from the one in Beijing by the additional "National" designation. In common usage in Chinese, the institution in Taipei is known as the "Taipei Gugong" (臺北故宮), while that in Beijing is known as the "Beijing Gugong" (北京故宮).

-Extracted from Wikipedia

Directions to National Palace Museum

1. From Shilin MRT Station, take bus Red30, 255 or 304 to the museum.


The exhibitions are vast and it took us no less than 2 whole hours to browse through everything. For your information, photography (as well as videography) and haversacks are prohibited, hence you would have to deposit your items at the counter if you have any.

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If time allows, do revisit any of the places such as departmental stores or night markets to do any last-minute shopping. Just a friendly reminder: Do not miss your flight back home!

I do hope you have enjoyed my different segments of 5D4N Taiwan Trip Itinerary, and that it gives you a rough idea of what would your itinerary consists of, for more information or enquiries, please kindly drop me a mail (info at "About" tab).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

5D4N Taiwan Trip Itinerary: Day 4 - Fu Hang Dou Jiang + Taipei 101 + Ximending + Shida + Ningxia Night Market

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Day 4
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If you are looking an authentic and traditional Taiwanese breakfast, fried dough fritters (油條) accompanied by a good cup of soy bean milk (豆漿) is your best bet. While hundreds, if not thousands of eateries in Taipei sells these Chinese delights, Fu Hang Dou Jiang 阜杭豆漿 dominates the rest of them.


Located at Huashan Market, Fu Hang Dou Jiang is not only well-known for its food, but also for its insane, long queues as well. According to my internet research beforehand, one can easy wait up to an hour before ordering on a good weekend. Prior to this, we decided to head out early on a Wednesday morning and was no less surprised that it already has at least a 40-person queue. By the moment I joined the queue, I was at the staircase. That's how long it is and there is even a queue diagram on how to line up!


Activity 2: Taipei 101

Formally known as the Taipei World Financial Center, the iconic Taipei 101 (台北101) is officially the tallest and largest green building in the world as of July 2011. It comprises of 101 stories and 5 floors underground, with 6 stories dedicated to shopping. The 509m building features a 660 metric-ton damper which reduces up to 40% of swaying movement and is built to withstand strong winds and earthquake tremors.


Besides holding a world record as one of the tallest building, Taipei 101 is also equipped with the fastest elevators built with state-of-art technology, which goes up to the 89th floor in just 37 seconds - that's a whopping vertical speed of 3314 ft per minute!

(from left) World's fastest elevator, one of Taipei 101's damper character

Activity 3: Ximending

Widely known as the "Harajuku of Taipei", Xi Men Ding is the place to head for modern fashion, good eats and culture, that is partially influenced by the Japanese. With several departmental stores such as Wanguo and Eslite, bookstores, pubs and individual vendors selling a wide variety of clothes, accessories, souvenirs and local eats, Xi Men Ding attracts shoppers and tourists of different age groups and cultures. Based on Wikipedia, it attracts more than 3 million visitors in a month!


The streets and alleys of Xi Men Ding are so vast and filled with excitement in every single corner. One night or even an entire day of exploration is definitely not enough, that we realized. Similarly to night markets, some items sold are repetitive, therefore putting on your determination and exploration spirit might just find you a better deal elsewhere.


Activity 4: Shida Night Market

There is some rumours that Shida  (師大夜市) has been closed down, but I would like to clarify that it is up and running (as of Nov 2012). Maybe a portion of it has been downed, but Shida Night Market still hold its vibrance. It is located near a couple of universities, so do expect no less than crowded streets flocked by university students.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

5D4N Taiwan Trip Itinerary: Day 3 - Yang Ming Shan + Danshui + Xinbeitou Hotsprings + Ningxia Night Market

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Day 3
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Formally established in 1985, Yang Ming Shan is one of the seven national parks in Taiwan that boasts various mountain formations, cherry blossoms and hot springs during the different seasons, making it one of the most visited tourist attractions. Located within an hour's reach from Taipei city, why not head there to enjoy some sight-seeing and witness the beauty of God's creations.


For more information on Yang Ming Shan National Park, do check out their official website (english):
http://www.ymsnp.gov.tw/HTML/ENG/INDEX.ASP


Danshui (淡水, or commonly known as "Danshuei"/"Tamshui") is a small fishing city located at the northern tip of Taiwan. Surrounded by peace and transquility, this beautiful paradise is often filled with foreign and local travellers, especially lovey-dovey couples who came to watch the romantic sunset and stroll along the prominent Lover's Bridge. Strongly recommended by my friends, I see no reasons not to visit this particular quainty side of Taipei.


Affectionally named by former president, Chen Shui Bian, the Lover's Bridge is approximately 196 metres and takes 2-3 minutes to walk from one point to the other. This "cable-stayed" bridge is probably the star attraction of the whole of Danshui, so do not ever say you have been here unless you've walked the bridge.


If you managed to stay till late evening, when the night falls, you will witness a spectrum of colours that lit up the Lover's Bridge. The colours of the bridge change every minute or so, representing the different elements of love (I guess.)



If you are looking for authentic Taiwanese street snacks, old school arcade games or souvenirs to bring home, Danshui Old Street is the place that you want to slot into your itinerary. Located alongside the shore of Northern Taiwan, this charming old street is always bustling with crowds, both young and old who came to chill out amidst the nicely preserved Japanese colonial buildings.


Besides the gastronomic part of this journey, why not drop by the Museum of the Strange which is located near the mouth (from MRT station) of Danshui Old Street? It is hard to miss with its huge signage and quirky entrance. Admission fee is priced at only NT$70 per person.


Activity 4: Xinbeitou Hotsprings

Wash your tiredness away with a relaxing bath at one of Taiwan's favourite hotspring spots - Xin Beitou. Prior to research, we chose Sweetme Hotspring Resort, which is located approximately 3-minute walk from Xin Beitou MRT station. There are a lot other private hotsprings (such as Spring City, Beauty Age Hotel etc) as well, so remember to do your research.


For NT$1100, we have a spacious and private room to ourselves, with two baths providing hot, cold and spring water. The room is also equipped with basic toiletries, towels and hair-dryer etc.


If you are looking for public baths, it is advisable to come during mornings or afternoons, as they close when the skies turn dark. Moreover, if you visit Beitou in the day, do make a trip down to their thermal valley, public library and hotsprings museum as well.


Besides the famous Shilin Night Market, do give a visit to the minor and less "advertised" ones such as Ningxia night market (寧夏夜市) where nearly 90% of the crowd is made up of its local people. Although not as decorated and crowded with tourists, it does however offers an array of delicious street snacks, souvenirs and classic carnival games. On top of that, Ningxia was one of the cleanest and organized night market I had observed in Taipei.


Monday, December 17, 2012

5D4N Taiwan Trip Itinerary: Day 2 - Jin Gua Shi + Jiufen Old Street + Shifen

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Day 2
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On the second day of the trip, we will be venturing outside Taipei to visit the Gold Ecological Park at Jinguashi, the buzzling Jiufen Old Street as well as the rural beauty of Shifen. Fortunately, these 3 places are easily accessible by taking the Taiwan Railway Adminstration (TRA) at Taipei Main Station. Just approach any counters, or if you are familiar with the ticketing system, skip the queue and use the self-service machines. The friendly staff (donned with blue vests) are there if you have any purchasing enquiries. For Jinguashi/Jiufen, buy a ticket heading eastward towards Ruifang Station.

TRA counters in Taipei Main Station

Getting a TRA bento box (NT$100) is recommended if you haven't had breakfast, as the train ride would take approximately 40 minutes. They can be consumed at the train stations, as well as inside the train. Anyway, the bento box which consists of chicken cutlet, vegetables, pickles and braised egg was really good.


Upon reaching Ruifang station, head towards the bus stop which is located just outside Wellcome mart (see picture below) and take a bus heading to Keelung. Again, do not hesitate to ask the bus driver if you are unsure.

Note: Jin Gua Shi is located AFTER Jiufen Old Street.



Located within the mountains in the Rueifang District, and once a flourished gold and copper mining town, Jin Gua Shi was named a potential World Heritage site in 2002 for its rich historical, cultural and natural resources. It is opened to public since 2004.


Known as Kinkaseki in Japanese, Jin Gua Shi is used as a prisoners-of-war (POWs) camp during the world war. Although the minerals have been depleted, this nostalgic old town still attracts vistors from all around the world to experience a journey back to its former glory.


Take the similar buses back towards Jiufen Old Street.

Activity 2: Jiufen Old Street

Originally housed with only nine families in the 1800s, the villagers would purchased nine pieces of the same item in one reservation (hence the name, meaning nine parts/pieces) as roads were not built yet and materials were brought in mainly by ships. Located only minutes away from Jin Gua Shi (金瓜石), it was not long before someone struck gold at this rural village. Words leaked out and the village was soon swarmed with thousands of prospectors hoping to strike rich. The gold mines eventually exhausted and like its faded counterpart, Jiufen suffered the same fate.


Time passes and today, Jiufen is one of the most popular tourist attraction visited by travellers from all over the world to experience its former glory and well, its current glory of being a prosperous old street which offers nostalgic teahouses and the best Taiwanese cuisine, such as popular yam dishes, glutionous rice balls (粉圆), beef noodles, fish balls, herbal eggs, sun cakes (太陽餅) and the list goes on infinitely.



Activity 3: Shifen

From Ruifang station, purchase a train ticket heading to Shifen. Train ride takes about 15-20 minutes.

Located amidst the moutains of Taiwan, and similar to how Jiufen derives its name, Shifen is a scenic rural town built by ten families a long time ago and is most well-known for the railway tracks and the majestic Shifen Waterfall 十分瀑布.


Shifen is also famous for its traditional sky lanterns, which wishes are written on it and sent into the high heavens. The best time to launch the sky lanterns is at dusk or during the sky lantern festival, but you can see people sending their wishes as early as in the morning.



Additional Notes:

If you are visiting Shifen in late autumn or winter season, it is strongly advisable to do so during the morning or afternoons as the entrance to the waterfall closes at about 5pm.