Kuju Flower Park「久住花公園」

I love seeing big open fields full of flowers and I was glad that I had the opportunity to visit Kuju Flower Park「久住花公園」, which is located at the southern base of the Kuju Mountains and has about three million plants of more than 500 different varieties. Different flowers bloom during the different seasons during most of the year, except in winter. Do check the flowering schedule on the park’s website before your visit, so that you’ll know what you can expect to see there.

Entrance to Kuju Flower Park.

I just had to take that customary photo by posing at the “official photo spot”! LOL!!

Unfortunately it was a rainy day during my visit and the skies were rather foggy. However, I felt that it gave a “mysterious” feel to my pictures.

Here’s one of me getting lost in the sea of flowers.

Ahhh…the patches of purple and white were such a lovely sight to behold….

Making my way around the park, I came across a field of Marigolds.

Here’s another one of me trying to “blend in” with the flowers again! Haha…

As the various species of flowers take turns to bloom, do note that some may not be in full bloom during your visit, but you can imagine how lovely the scene will be when the flowers are all out.

We then found a different section of the park with lots of colourful flowers. Unfortunately the names of the flowers were all displayed in Japanese, so I didn’t know what their names were in English.

I then visited the Rose Garden, but wasn’t sure if the season for roses was already over.

Thankfully there were still some roses in bloom and I managed to see them!

There are also quite a few side paths where you can stroll along and admire the different views at the park.

Found a little pond surrounded by some autumn colours. If you look carefully, you can spot some ducks at the far end.

Duck feed is available for purchase and you can buy some to feed the ducks. They will come swimming towards you if they know that you have food for them!

Families with young children may want to note that there is a playground in the park, in case your kids aren’t interested in admiring the flowers.

If all that walking about has made you famished, there is a buffet restaurant No No Yasai「野のやさい」, which is located at the second floor of this building.

There is also a gift shop on the ground floor and I stumbled upon Mr Bear seated at the cafe next door but he looked rather sad, so I was trying to cheer him up!

Anyway, I went upstairs for my meal and here are some pictures of the buffet spread…

There’s even a separate section with a lady preparing tempura so that they are freshly fried when you go over to get some (yes, it’s also part of the buffet spread).

The dessert and beverage section.

Here’s my pick from the buffet spread! ^_^

Before leaving this flower park, you may want to stop by the Rose de Mal shop to purchase some dried flowers.

Souvenir ink stamps found at the park:


Address:

Kuju Flower Park「久住花公園」
4050 Oaza Kuju, Kuju-machi, Taketa, Oita, Kyushu, Japan.
[Map]

Opening Hours: 8:30 to 17:30
Closed December to February. Check their website for their latest updates.

Admission Fees:
Adults ¥1,300
Senior Citizens (70 years and above) ¥1,100
Children (5-12 years) ¥500

Getting There:
Kuju Flower Park is located about 10km off the Yamanami Highway which leads through the Kuju Mountains. It is difficult to reach there by public transport. The closest train station is Bungo-Taketa Station and it takes about 30min to get there by taxi (about ¥5,500). A cheaper alternative is to take a bus bound for Nagayu Onsen from the train station to Kuju-machi (¥510, 25 minutes), then take a taxi to the park (about ¥2000).

Categories: Japan, Kyushu (九州), Oita Prefecture (大分県), Taketa City (竹田市), Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring DRUM TAO’s Home Base “Grandioso”, ending with a Private Performance!

After watching Drum TAO’S performance at Okajo Castle the night before, we had the opportunity to visit them at their home base “Grandioso” 「TAOの里」 the next morning!

Yet again it was a rainy day and just before arriving at our destination, we were told that they would be putting up a special performance for us, with some acts that they originally wanted to perform at the castle site but couldn’t because of the rain. The drums are extremely sensitive to humidity and will be damaged if they get wet!

Upon arrival, we took in the view of the wide open space and the fresh air at this place which is located in the Aso Kuju National Park.

We were then taken on a brief tour of the grounds. (yes, I was posing for this photo in the rain!)

Main Studio

2nd Studio

The juniors’ lodgings are located behind the 2nd Studio.

Seniors’ lodgings are at the top of the slope, with another building which houses an onsen.

We learnt that Drum Tao has their training sessions from 5am-8am daily and a lot of hard work goes into their practice sessions! New apprentices have to be mentally prepared for a tough time during their initial 1-2 years there and some who cannot make the cut will be asked to leave. Perhaps some of the newbies may try to run away if they personally feel that they cannot endure the rigorous training, but as this location is in a rather remote area, it’s quite difficult for anyone to simply “run away” as it is an extremely long walk to get to the main road and public transportation is scarce in these parts!  Haha…it sounded very much like being stuck at some Chinese martial arts school hidden in the secluded mountains!

Finally, we were ushered into the Main Studio and there were several drums in the hall. We were thrilled to be at this venue and started taking pictures whilst waiting for the performance to start.

I caught a glimpse of some members of the cast waiting backstage! Ooh…the anticipation started to build at this point!

As we weren’t allowed to photograph or videotape the performance, here are some pictures from WilzWorkz, who was there on an official blogger invite (I was there as a “contest winner” and “tour tester”, so I could sit back and enjoy the show!)

There were some round straw cushions on the floor as well as proper chairs and we were told that you will get a better experience if seated on the floor (i.e. front row). We soon understood what they meant as when the drums were being hit, you can feel the vibrations ripple across the entire floor and it amplified the innermost heartbeat of the drums! I was content sitting on a chair at the back row as at such close proximity, the sound was quite loud! The vibrations could still be felt where I was seated and also in clear view were the facial expressions of the performers and we could even see the sweat glistening on the well-toned bodies of the men!!

This private show beautifully showcased the drums incorporating dance, flags and various other instruments.

They play the Koto too!

Dance segment:

Performing with Flags:

This next pose is a good exercise for your stomach muscles! A senior was being “mean” and made them hold this pose for several minutes and some of them were grimacing and a few started shaking a little.

There was a merchandise corner in the room and various Drum Tao merchandise were being sold, some of which are exclusive to Japan only.

I bought a DVD…

…but due to time constraints, we only managed to get one autograph.

At this venue, we definitely had much better seats than the ones we had the previous night at Okajo Castle! I mean – how often do you get a chance to be at such close proximity to the performers? We even had an opportunity to take a group photo with them!

Wow and Double Wow!!… It’s definitely an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime!

Categories: Japan, Kyushu (九州), Oita Prefecture (大分県), Taketa City (竹田市), Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DRUM TAO Premium LIVE at Okajo Castle「岡城 プレミアムLIVE」

Okajo Castle Premium LIVE「岡城 プレミアムLIVE」 was a project by the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee, to measure Olympic and Paralympic basic policy promotion.

This was a special outdoor performance by Drum Tao at the Oka Castle Ruins, also known as Oka Castle or Okajo Castle (actually “jo” itself means “castle” in Japanese but somehow the typical English translations for places tend to have the same words repeated twice!).

Even though Okajo Castle is now in ruins, it still retains a special charm and is a popular spot to visit to see cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.

Tickets for the show can’t be purchased and Drum Tao had invited the public to apply for tickets to the event. There were a total of over 6000 applications but only 900 people successfully obtained the tickets.

This was my pass to the event and I made sure that I held on to it tightly!

Unfortunately, on that day the sky was merciless and brought forth heavy showers. However, Drum Tao had assured on their Facebook page that rain or shine, the show would still go on. They had even setup a tent on the stage during the day, in the event that the sky didn’t let up that evening.

We had to walk uphill to the main castle site where the performance was being held and this path can be quite slippery and muddy when it is wet.

Daylight was soon fading and the atmosphere at this location was starting to head toward the mysterious…

We were told there would be 2 stages at this venue and we were then systematically ushered by groups to the first stage at the castle’s turret, where we were allowed to use our cameras.

The drum beats brightened up the atmosphere and it felt as though they were welcoming us to this place.

Here’s a look at what took place whilst we were all standing in the rain at about 5:10pm. (Can you spot me? Haha…)




Watch the video of the performance:

After this brief segment, we were then ushered towards the main stage at the Honmaru「本丸」, which is the palace in the inner-most circle of defense, but were told that both photography and videography weren’t allowed here, unless you are from the official media.

Rain rain go away… unfortunately, it continued to pour whilst we took our seats!

The use of umbrellas wasn’t allowed as they would obstruct the view of those seated around you, thus everyone was expected to wear raincoats and watch the show in the rain!

A bit of trivia……. Okajo Castle is well known as the location for the famous Japanese song Kōjō no Tsuki「荒城の月」, which was composed by Rentarō Taki「滝 廉太郎」in 1901. The name of the song literally translates to “The Moon over the Ruined Castle”. I still remember this to be one of the first songs taught to me by my guitar instructor some 20+ years ago!

The music of this song was inspired by the ruins of Okajo Castle and its lyrics, written by Bansui Doi, were inspired by the ruins of Aoba Castle and Aizuwakamatsu Castle.

It was truly a befitting tribute to the venue that the show opened to the haunting strains of the flute playing Kōjō no Tsuki「荒城の月」. Forget the heavy rain, soggy ground and wet clothes – although it was too cloudy to be able to see the moon, the audience were mesmerized as it was an extremely beautiful and magical moment!

Here’s some excerpts from the show at the main stage (posted by Taketa City):

Curtain call:

Although the rain didn’t relent, our spirits were not dampened and judging from the response from the audience, everyone had a great time as the performance was amazing and all the members of Drum Tao were so talented! I was also extremely impressed with their sound system as everything sounded perfect even though this was an outdoor venue! Well done Drum Tao!!

(We also paid a visit to Drum Tao’s home base the next day <- click to find out more)

Categories: Japan, Kyushu (九州), Oita Prefecture (大分県), Taketa City (竹田市), Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Media Preview] Halloween Horror Nights 6 at Universal Studios Singapore (2016)

**WARNING**  This post contains some visually disturbing and gruesome photos.
Please DO NOT continue reading if you are uncomfortable with nightmarish scenes.
We bear no responsibility on the repercussions suffered as a result.
**********************************************************

Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) is back! This will be Universal Studios Singapore’s sixth edition of the event and it promises to be scarier than the previous years! A record number of haunted houses will be showcased and the first-ever theatrical procession, March of the Dead, will make its rounds through the park at scheduled timings during the night.

This year’s event runs for 16 nights from 30 September to 31 October 2016 and features five haunted houses, two scare zones and two live shows.

If you want a breather between the scares, selected rides like TRANSFORMERS The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle, Revenge Of The Mummy, Battlestar Galactica: HUMAN and Battlestar Galactica: CYLON, will be open throughout the night.

If you don’t have time to read through this entire post, here’s a quick summary of the event…

…otherwise, read on…


OPENING SCAREMONY


HHN usually doesn’t start until the Opening Scaremony is held. This starts at 7:30pm during the HHN event nights, so don’t be late if you want to catch it!

We are introduced to all the characters who represent their respective haunted houses, with the exception of Jack, the infamous clown who is making a comeback this year with his circus.

If you are standing at the front, do note that pyrotechnics and flame throwers are used and you will feel the heat!

A gigantic head appears from the stage. Do try to see if you can spot the various faces that appear. Here are some of them…

In case you haven’t noticed by now, Mel’s Drive-In has been changed to Mel’s Die-In!!

If you don’t manage to get a spot in front of the crowd, there is a screen located in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard that will give you a glimpse of the action.

Otherwise, you can always watch this video:


Now for the main highlights…

Map compiled by rwsentosablog.com


HAUNTED HOUSES


(listed in the sequence that you’ll encounter them if you start by turning right at the end of Hollywood Boulevard into New York)

HAWKER CENTRE MASSACRE (小贩中心食人宴)

Oh, how I hate love that they come up with such local themes, which make it seem closer to home! This is one nightmarish hawker centre that you hope you’ll never ever have to step into in real life! Welcome to Ulu Pandan Hawker Centre…

Customers fall victim to radioactive food poisoning, which transforms them into savage, flesh-eating creatures! Beware, that chicken rice auntie may not be as nice and friendly as you think she is!

Claustrophobics, do note that there are many tight corners in this haunted house and you really have nowhere to run hide!

I loved that they even have a clothing stall here!

Stay alert – there could be something lurking between the rack of clothes!! ^_^

Take a look at some of the scenes here:

Universal Studios Singapore has really outdone themselves with this one – besides the sights, sounds and frights, one thing that stood out were the SMELLS! Ughh…venture in and find out for yourself!


SALEM WITCH HOUSE (塞勒姆女巫之家)


Here you’ll meet the coven of DeFeo Witches who were thought to have disappeared after the townspeople of Salem tried to burn down their house–along with them–in 1692. However, modern-day witchcraft enthusiasts have brought them back and the witches are out for revenge!

One of the townsfolk telling us to get away from this place!

The most beautiful scene (one of my favourites!) is the Witch’s Realm, which has a snowy setting, much like in Narnia.

Apologies, we got too carried away in here as it’s one of the must-visit haunted houses, plus it was quite dark in there and so I don’t have that many photos to share. Make sure that you don’t miss this one!!

Some of the scenes from this haunted house can be seen in the first video starting from 0:24.


HU LI’S INN (狐姬客栈)


Step back in time into the world of Old Shanghai’s cabaret in the 1930s.

As you approach, a man (pimp?) will usher you into the nightclub.

Upon stepping in, we see Hu Li singing on stage.

Hubby was so enchanted by her that he took another picture! Make sure you stay long enough in this room to see what happens when the light flickers!

Another lady at the cabaret. Hmm…

Look at all the pictures of the beautiful women!

However, things are not always as they appear to be!…

Masters of disguises, these seductive temptresses are demonic shape shifters who are after your souls!

To all the Chee Ko Peks (Hokkien/Teochew slang for “pervert” or “dirty old man”) out there, be warned! This is how you will meet your end if you visit this cabaret…

My favourite scene in this place:

Overall, I loved the concept of this haunted house and it really made me feel as though I’ve stepped into Old Shanghai!

Some of the scenes from this haunted house can be seen in the first video starting from 0:05.


OLD CHANGI HOSPITAL (旧樟宜阴魂)


Another haunted house based on places in Singapore – the actual hospital in Changi was built in 1935 by the British government and its location was used as a prison camp during the Japanese occupation where it was reportedly used as a torture chamber. The hospital ceased operations in 1997 and is said to be one of the most haunted places in the world!

Graffiti on the walls.

As you head towards the hospital gates, a sarong-clad Malay pakcik will approach you, shouting some warnings and that made me start to regret what I was doing here!…

Meet the doctor and his lovely nurse…

Beware of the many dark corners and you’ll never know who you’ll encounter along the passageways! There’s so much to take in and I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

  

There was even a half-naked guy in the bathroom and I thought he looked kind of cute! LOL!

Beware – there are many sudden surprises and unexpected encounters in this house!


BODIES OF WORK (血尸秘展)

Entrance to the haunted house.

Artist Damien Shipman takes fans on a heinous trip down memory lane as he unveils his controversial exhibition titled Bodies of Work.

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Apparently his family perished tragically in a fire and this is his homage to them.

If you look closely, you’ll see a carousel in this photo which is displayed at the start and visitors will also get to see an actual one at the end of this exhibition.

Most of the exhibits are displayed in a macabre fashion.

   

Call me a sadist but this girl whose lower body went into the grinder is probably my favourite scene in this haunted house!

We get to meet other strange characters…

  

…and finally the artist himself! (i.e. if you can spot him in the dark!) I didn’t manage to take a good photo of Damien Shipman but you can see him at the end of my video:

Loved that there’s a carousel in this haunted house!


SCARE ZONES


SUICIDE FOREST (自杀森林)

This is a foreboding forest filled with desperate cries and a sinister presence that lures unsuspecting victims to their deaths.

The following warning sign is displayed outside:

After entering the forest, we came across this vehicle – oh no…what exactly happened here?!!

You can find creepy characters…

…as well as a “cute” life-size walking rag doll.

There is a sinister looking tunnel that you can walk through – thankfully I didn’t encounter any strange beings in there!

Ohh…I just love the dramatic lighting effects in this forest!

Be careful not to bump into this headless person when you walk through a cloud of smoke!

Finally, a short clip to summarize this place.


MARCH OF THE DEAD (死神降世祭典)


This is the less intimidating of the two scare zones. Stroll through this area to check out the festivities of the Day of the Dead (Día De Los Muertos).

Here’s a walk-through of the scare zone:

March of the Dead Procession
There’s also a Death March procession with a supposedly carnival-like atmosphere, but it reminded me more of a funeral procession!

Look out for Lady Death (死亡女神), perched atop the leading float.

The lights on the float actually change colour.

For a change, it was nice to see a night parade being held at the park!

Procession timings for 30-Sept: 8:15pm, 9:45pm and 11:15pm (schedule may vary on other dates – check at the venue on the day of your visit)


SHOWS


There are 2 shows that will be staged as part of HHN6 but unfortunately they weren’t available during the media preview.

March of the Dead show
This action-packed live show begins at the end of March of the Dead procession.

Show timings for 30-Sept: 8:45pm, 10:15pm and 11:45pm (schedule may vary on other dates – check at the venue on the day of your visit)

Stage area (at the New York Library):

Jack’s Recurring Nightmare Circus (杰克重返噩梦马戏团)
Synopsis: “Back by popular demand, Jack the Clown will steal the show once again in Jack’s Recurring Nightmare Circus at the Pantages Hollywood Theater. Together with his deranged disciples, he will hunt for killer acts from a live casting call featuring world-class aerialists, acrobats, contortionists and other freaky friends.”

Show timings for 30-Sept: 7:45pm, 9:15pm, 10:45pm and 12:15am (schedule may vary on other dates – check at the venue on the day of your visit)


MERCHANDISE


All the HHN6 memorabilia seems to be centred around Jack!

 


If I have to list the haunted houses in the order of my preference, they would be:

1) Hu Li’s Inn
2) Salem Witch House
3) Old Changi Hospital
4) Bodies of Work
5) Hawker Centre Massacre (because of the smell! LOL!)


Many thanks to Resorts World Singapore for the media invite to HHN6!


Event Details:

Halloween Horror Nights 6 (HHN6) is held on Select Nights from 30 Sept to 31 Oct 2016.

Dates, Opening Hours and Ticket Prices:
Entry on 30 Sep, 6, 13, 20, 27, 30, 31 Oct 2016. Time: 7:30pm – 12:30am.
General Admission Ticket: S$65
RWS Invites / RWS Invites Attractions Members: S$50

Entry on 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29 Oct 2016. Time: 7:30pm – 1:30am.
General Admission Ticket: S$69
RWS Invites / RWS Invites Attractions Members: S$59

Check the HHN6 website for more ticketing details, including the Frequent Fear Pass, R.I.P. Tours and other promotional packages.


Source: RWScoop

Categories: Resorts World Sentosa, Theme Parks, Universal Studios | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

SAVOUR Wines 2016

For the uninitiated, SAVOUR is Asia’s premier gourmet festival which features the finest food and drink, live demonstrations and culinary shopping, all in one special purpose-built location. This second event in 2016 is held from 9-11 September and has its focus on wines.

DBS Treasures held a private event for their clients (before the event opens to the public) and each person was allowed to bring a friend along. I was glad to have the opportunity to check out the event’s offerings a day earlier and went to check fill my tummy with food first before going on to sample the wines. A doctor friend who was there said “why waste time on food when the wines are so good?” but I live to eat and I guess she loves alcohol more than food!


GOURMET VILLAGE

The two photos below were taken about 5mins before the event closed as I was too pre-occupied earlier with the lovely food and wine, so I didn’t take many shots of the venue, especially with the crowds.

Wandering past the various food stalls, everything looked good but I couldn’t possibly eat them all in one night and so I had to prioritise and only select the dishes which “called out” to me.

These were some of the dishes that my hubby and I had tried…

RESTAURANT EMBER – by Chefs Pan Sihui & Alex Phan
Sakura Ebi Pasta ($12)
Sakura Ebi Pasta with Konbu, Chilli and Crustacean Oil

This was a lovely start to my dinner and I enjoyed the crunch of the Sakura shrimps, mixed with the other flavours in the pasta.


Foie Gras ($12)

Foie Gras with Chinese 5-Spice Caramel and Market Fruits

The foie gras was cooked perfectly and I thought it was a refreshing touch to have it served with jambu slices.


XPERIENCE RESTAURANT, SO SOFITEL – by Chef Trevor Paulo

Beef Short Rib ($12)
Onion Puree, Broccollini, Onion ‘Paper’, Shallot Jus

This seemed to be one of the crowd favourites and the beef was very tender and easy to slice! The various accompaniments and seasonings in this dish seemed to revolve around onions but I couldn’t even tell that THAT piece of crispy “paper” is made using onion! Interesting!


MITZO – by Chefs Nicky Ng & Ben Yapp

Truffle Noodles with Prawn Ball & Lobster Claw ($12)

There was a crazy queue at this booth and I guess everyone must have ordered this dish!! It was served piping hot and the taste of truffle was well balanced and did not overpower the dish, which came with a prawn and a lovely piece of lobster claw. Ohh…the indulgence!


RABBIT STASH – by Chefs Matthew Mok & Soon Teck (Skydy)

48hrs Slow Cook Wagyu Beef with Trompette Stew, 58 Degrees 1st Born Egg and Crispy Brown Rice ($12)
French-Singaporean inspired dish with an Oriental Marinated Beef slow-cooked for 2 Days

This was another booth which had extremely long queues, in both the ordering queue as well as the collection queue. Loved the flavours in the beef, which was served with mixed greens on a croissant-like pastry that you can use to clean up the plate especially if the egg yolk has broken and oozed out all over the plate. The crispy brown rice added an extra crunch to the dish.


ANGELA MAY FOOD CHAPTERS – by Chefs Tee Lee Hing & Angela May

Lobster and Crab Roll with Salted Egg, White Wine and Kabocha Squash
+ Locally Grown Curly Leaf Kale Salad and Pomegranate Seeds
+ 1 Dark Chocolate Cream Choux with Toasted Marshmallow Topping
($26)

This was one of my initial picks for food but I ran out of food coupons and was saving the last two for dessert! There was a lady showing us a sample of the dish, so I asked if I could take a picture of it. Apologies, but I can’t tell you how it tasted.

Anyway, it was time for dessert!…

BIRD BIRD – by Chefs Fiona Ting & Bjorn Shen
Durian Softie Pie ($12)
Durian pudding, almond pie crust, caramelised white chocolate, gula melaka caramel, brown butter soft serve

I was drawn to this dessert as it sounded interesting with all the varied ingredients! Wow! There were so many flavours and textures in this dessert – it was creamy, yet crunchy and sweet but also with a hint of saltiness. The best part was when you got to the durian pudding, which actually contains real durian flesh!


There’s also an Oyster Bar and Cheese Room, which is located next to the Wine Market.

I found popcorn here…

…as well as oysters.


WINE MARKET

Go on a wine tasting journey where there are hundreds of specially curated wine labels from all around the world to choose from!

Access to the Wine Market is limited to Wine Tasting Card holders only (max 700 per session).

The Wine Tasting Card (Single) – $15 (online pre-event price) includes the following:

1 x Wrist Band for single person access into the Wine Market
1 x Wine Tasting Card with 10 Tastings
1 x Badoit Sparkling Water (330ml)
1 x Limited Edition SAVOUR Wine Glass

Here’s an idea of what you’ll get, minus the wrist band and the fact that my wine tasting card has been used up.

I had initially started tasting wines from the booths which seemed to be more popular with the crowds but as I am not a wine connoisseur and my preference is for sweet wines (yes, I love dessert wines!), so after about 3-4 tastings, I decided to switch focus and hunt down only sweet wines! ^_^

My favourites of the night were…

De Bortoli Emeri Pink Moscato NV (Australia)


Little Eden Moscato (Australia)


Balan Viola Moscato NV (Italy)

Even if you are not a wine lover or you don’t drink alcohol, you can still come to SAVOUR Wines 2016 and check out the food!


SAVOUR Wines runs from 9-11 September 2016

9th (Friday): 6pm – 11pm
10th (Saturday): 11am – 4pm & 6pm – 11pm
11th (Sunday): 11am – 4pm & 6pm – 11pm

Location: Bayfront Avenue, next to the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre

Entry to the Gourmet Village is complimentary to all visitors. However, the purchase of dishes and drinks are on a consumption basis.

Access to the Wine Market is ticketed and limited to 700 guests per session, so if you’re a wine buff or are looking to learn more, it is to best pre-purchase your wine tasting card to avoid any disappointment! I hear that they are selling out fast…

Categories: Eating in Singapore | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Set Lunch at Janice Wong Singapore

Janice Wong is a Singaporean pastry chef who is known for her creative desserts. When I heard that she had opened a restaurant which serves other food apart from desserts, I was curious and went to have a try…

The interior of the restaurant has an interesting piece of art which looks like something edible.

Looking at the menu, the prices aren’t cheap and we didn’t want to spend too much for lunch, so we decided on the set lunch (SGD$28++), which comprised of three courses.

Before our food arrived, we were given 4 types of sauces/accompaniments to go with our dishes.

Clockwise from Top Left: Ginger slivers in vinegar, chilli sauce, XO scallop sauce and a truffle infused minced garlic paste. No instructions were given as to pair them with which dishes, so I guess we had to get creative ourselves.

The first course was a choice between Hot Explosion XLB (Whisky Pork or Truffle Cheese Chicken) or Whimsical Buns (Liquid Egg or Minced Vegetables).

We ordered the Truffle Cheese Chicken flavoured XLB (i.e. Xiao Long Bao), which was black in colour and came in 2 pieces, but was a bit boring to photograph, so we decided to place it together with the Liquid Egg Whimsical Bun, that we had also ordered, for the shot below. ^_^

Surprisingly the combination of truffle, cheese and chicken worked in the XLB and it was tasty! The Liquid Egg Whimsical Bun on the other hand, tasted like the liu sha baos that can be found at other restaurants.

The second course was a choice between two different noodle dishes and we ordered one of each.

Corn Noodles (Sous Vide Chicken, Peanut Broth) – my hubby liked it but I thought it tasted a bit on the light side.

BlackRed Duple Noodles (Braised Beef, Fried Mushroom Stems) – the soup was quite tasty but the visually striking noodles were a little limp in texture.

The third and final course was of course dessert and we were given a choice of Tiramisu, Chocolate Praline Cake or a Selection of Mochi. We chose the first two as I’m not really a fan of mochi.

Tiramisu (Mascarpone, Coffee Sponge, Expresso Ice Cream) – the flavours were true to how we expect the dessert to taste, but probably a bit stronger than the ones that you’ll find elsewhere.

Chocolate Praline Cake (Poprocks, Vanilla) – very chocolatey cake which seemed to have been soaked in some alcohol. The peanut butter was smooth and cleverly hid a fair quantity of pop rocks. Everything on the plate amazingly worked well together, with the pop rocks giving a pleasant surprise in your mouth!

Overall, I felt that the desserts fared a notch better than the food. I’d probably come back again to try their high tea which has some dim sum items but more desserts.

On the other side of the restaurant is a sweets boutique, where you can find many interesting and colourful creations!

All of them look too pretty to be eaten! I like the ones that look like Lego bricks!


Janice Wong Singapore

Address: 93 Stamford Road, National Museum Singapore, 01-06, Singapore 178897.
[Map]

Opening Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 11am – 11pm (last order 10:30pm)
Sunday: 11am – 6pm (last order 5pm)

Telephone: +65 97125338

Email: info@janicewong.com.sg

Categories: Eating in Singapore, Fusion | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Hop Yik Tai (合益泰小食) – an unassuming Michelin-recommended eatery

Sham Shui Po has too many small eateries that diners are spoilt for choice and these dining places could be difficult to spot from afar with the crowds of people out and about the bustling side streets!

Hop Yik Tai (合益泰小食) is a typical local Hong Kong eatery, which serves simple fare that can be considered as comfort food to some.

I like cheong fun (steamed rice rolls) and when I heard about Hop Yip Tai, I decided to go check it out and have cheong fun for dinner! (for those who are unfamiliar with this dish, most people would typically have this for breakfast instead of lunch/dinner)

Upon arriving, I found a long queue of people outside but they were in the takeaway line.

Inside the shop, all seats were already taken and we had to wait about 10-15min before any seats were vacated. Note that as this is a typical local Hong Kong eatery, you are expected to share your table with strangers when you dine here. It was too congested inside this small shop, with waiting staff busy walking to and fro either serving food or clearing the dishes, so I didn’t take any pictures of the interior apart from the menu on the wall!

Looking across the room, I noted that most people ordered the cheong fun with some side dishes like radish, pig’s skin and curry fishballs.

We’re not hugh fans of fishballs and so we ended up ordering cheong fun (6 rolls) and a bowl of radish with pig’s skin.

The cheong fun was slippery smooth and was served with soy sauce and sesame oil, to which diners can add sweet sauce and chilli sauce to their liking. In addition, the pig’s skin was cooked just right and went very well with the radish, which was sweet and stewed to the level of softness that I like.

I have to say that this place certainly has cheap and good eats and is a good place to dine for those who are on a tight budget.


Address:
Hop Yik Tai (合益泰小食)
G/F, 121 Kweilin Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon.
深水埗桂林街121號地下

[Map]

Getting There: 1-min walk from Exit C2, Sham Shui Po MTR Station

Opening Hours: Daily 6:30am to 8:30pm

Categories: Eating in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Givres – the place to go for Rose Gelato

When I saw pictures of pretty rose shaped ice cream, complete with petals, I knew I had to hunt down the shop to try it for myself!

Givres specialises in both artisanal coffee and rose gelato and it is conveniently located at the Wan Chai district on Hong Kong Island.

We had just finished lunch and thus dropped in for dessert. There are some counter seats at the shop, but do note that seating is limited to about 6-7 high stools.

You can choose to have up to three flavours in your rose gelato and I thought one was a bit boring, whilst three could be a bit too much and thus I went with two.

After a tough decision on which flavours to pick, I went with the combination of White Peach and Rose Petals.

My hubby on the other hand opted for Chocolate and Vanilla (boring!). We watched the staff piece together the rose gelatos petal by petal and the end results were very pretty, but my only grouse was that they melted too quickly! (probably also due to the summer heat)

Side view:

Top view:

It’s definitely a place worth checking out if you are in Hong Kong! ^_^


Address:

Givres
G38, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.
灣仔皇后大道東200號利東街地下G38號舖
[Map]

Getting There:
Take either exit B2 or A3 from Wan Chai MTR Station.

Tel: 9659 0816

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 11:30am to 9pm
Friday to Sunday: 11:30am to 10pm

Categories: Eating in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Yuen Kee Dessert (源記甜品專家)

It was one of those days when you’ve had too much to eat during the day and thus wasn’t feeling that hungry at dinnertime, so I decided to have dessert instead!

Yuen Kee Dessert (源記甜品專家) is a traditional Chinese dessert shop, known for their almond cream (杏仁露), walnut cream (合桃露) and (桑寄生). All desserts can be paired with lotus seeds and/or egg.

The menu can be found sandwiched between the tables and their glass tops.

I decided to have walnut cream with lotus seeds 合桃露(加蓮子) and it was smooth and had just the right amount of sweetness (i.e. not overly sweet). My hubby on the other hand had almond cream with a raw egg 杏仁露(加蛋)!! He said it made the dessert smoother! Erm…I don’t think I will ever try that as I don’t like eating raw eggs.

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Overall, we were both satisfied with what we ordered that night. ^_^


Address:

Yuen Kee Dessert (源記甜品專家)
G/F, 32 Centre Street, Sai Ying Pun, Western District, Hong Kong.
西環西營盤正街32號地下
[Map]

Getting There:
2-min walk from Exit B1, Sai Ying Pun MTR Station.

Telephone: +852 2548 8687

Opening Hours: Daily 12:00-23:30

Payment Method: Cash

Categories: Eating in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neko Atsume「ねこあつめ」 Pop-Up Event at Harbour City

I was thrilled that my recent trip to Hong Kong coincided with the Neko Atsume「ねこあつめ」 summer pop-up event at LCX in Harbour City, Kowloon, which ends on 31st August 2016, so I caught it just in time! Those who aren’t familiar with Neko Atsume, it is a relatively simple cat collection game.

Filled with anticipation, I went to check out the event venue first thing the next morning as my flight had gotten in late in the evening.

There were several photo spots scattered along the entire floor and even though my visit was towards the tail end of the event, I found that it was still extremely popular with the crowds. The main displays were found at this section were…

Pumpkin (しろちゃとらさん Shirochatora-san) with Bolt (きじとらさん Kijitora-san) in the background:


Gold and Silver Fish – if only I could add this into my game inventory! LOL!


Ms. Fortune (こいこいさん Koikoi-san)


Tubbs (まんぞくさん Manzoku-san):


Snowball (しろねこさん Shironeko-san):


Conductor Whiskers (えきちょうさん Ekichou-san), with Dottie (しろみけさん Shiromike-san) hiding in the pink macaron:

I had to hunt across the same floor of the mall to locate the rest of the photo spots, which were mostly standalone.


Guy Furry (びすとろさん Bistro-san):


Sassy Fran (かふぇさん Café-san) and her cafe:


Other photo spots:


In addition, there was a stamp rally at this event where you can redeem some souvenirs if you complete the entire card but unfortunately the gifts were all fully redeemed during my visit (as expected since it was already almost the end of the event!), but the stamps were still available to souvenir hunters.


“Cheapskate” souvenir hunters could also pick up a cardboard fan and a postcard…

…but note that both items have advertisements on the other side.

My colleague had asked me to purchase some Tubbs merchandise if I saw any at the event, which has a pop-up store too. The shop was selling various memorabilia from the game and it even had a giant Tubbs stuffed toy on display (not for sale)!

I guess I was probably too excited by the sight of the gigantic Tubbs that I forgot to take a photo of the pop-up store!! LOL!

In shopping mode, I then helped my colleague to purchase this Tubbs cushion (HKD$140) and a Tubbs embossed cardholder with lanyard (HKD$90). That souvenir bag can be purchased for an additional HKD$1 if your total purchases exceed HKD$100.

As I’m not a fan of Tubbs, I got myself some mementos of Peaches (くりーむさん; Cream-san) instead. ^_^

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Overall, it was good fun (plus shopping!) away from the summer heat!


Event Details:
LCX x Neko Atsume Japanese Summer Festival Exhibition
Date: 1 Jul – 31 Aug 2016
Time: 10am to 10pm
Venue: LCX, Level 3, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Categories: Hong Kong, Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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