Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Circles.Life Top 5 Leaderboard and Prizes

Whoa, I made it to the Circles.Life Top 5 Leaderboard...but just very briefly. Last month I broke in at no.5 and it was sweet for a few days. Then all throughout January, I've been popping on and off the board. The top 3 guys never change but at the bottom, it's a neck-and-neck race. Interesting.

Well, I never even dreamed I'd make it to the leaderboard but I want to thank everybody who has used my OBWAN referral code. I'm going to give that a rest for now and ask that you use MHPYK instead. Please share it with anyone who needs $20 off the registration fee and loves the power of the Force.

But hey, being on the leaderboard is just pixels on the screen. What's more rewarding is the tangible prizes Circles gives for accumulating bonus data.

Yes, I got my iTunes $20 card and GV Gold Class tickets in the mail today.

Chalking up bonus data is fairly easy with Circles. There are a few ways, like referring your friends.

I particularly like that they reward loyalty: 500 MB each month of Bonus Data will be added every 6 months you stay on the Circles network. This lasts as long as you’re on the network.

My previous providers gave me nothing despite years of staying with them, and tied me to long contracts. And they cost me a lot more!

I now have 23.4GB data (and counting!) on my Circles account for $28 a month. It's almost surreal (and so freeing) how I can binge watch videos and not have to worry about wifi-hunting. Connectivity can sometimes be a bit slow in some areas but at this price and value, it's hard to beat.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Oasia Residence: Long Stay Apartments in Singapore

My family and I recently got to enjoy a short stay at Oasia Residence, a serviced residence located near West Coast Plaza, within close proximity to the business parks and education institutions in the area. Doesn't it just look wonderfully homey and welcoming? We really liked the spacious lobby and the little treats it had.

This is Oasia's third launch of 2016, adding another 140 rooms to the stable of properties. The Oasia brand includes hotels (Oasia Hotel Downtown, and Oasia Hotel Novena) and hybrid models (Oasia Suites Kuala Lumpur).

Oasia Residence is a little different. It's like having your own fully furnished apartment on the West side of Singapore.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Chinese New Year Menu: Golden Peony at Conrad Centennial Singapore

Golden Peony at the Conrad Centennial Singapore has always been a quietly elegant space for fine Cantonese dining. I remember some pretty good dim sum here a few years back.

Every lunar new year, Executive Chinese Chef Ku Keung introduces new dishes that will be on the main menu for rest of the year (see link for details). You'll see some of these below, but first let's take a look at their MEGA yusheng offering which easily feeds 30 or more! It's great if you need to cater for a large extended family or company lunch.

Fortune 3D Fiery Rooster Yu Sheng with Kanpachi, Abalone, Salmon and Crispy Fish Skin (S$888++, for 30 pax and above)
The yusheng is so huge, it needs to be laid out on several tables. The rooster figurines are edible chocolate containing more edible goodies (ingots) and treasures. You get toy mallets to smash the rooster, which just adds to the fun of lo-hei.

Not surprisingly, you'll need to reserve this at least one day in advance.

The Kanpachi, Abalone, and Salmon comes in a beautiful rosette anointed with gold leaf.

And the kicker? Crispy fish skin! I live for the crunchy elements in yusheng. It's the only truly savoury part of this big sweet salad.

Signature Roast London Duck (S$80++ whole duck)
This is a crowd favourite and it's easy to see why. The duck is beautifully roasted and its juicy flesh is topped with a lusciously gleaming crackling skin. It's also available for takeaway at S$98+.

Braised Sea Cucumber stuffed with Minced Shrimp and Pork, served with Abalone
This was really good. The full-flavoured braising sauce is a lovely reduction, silky and thick. The sea cucumber had a nice tensile bite to it, while the mince patty provided delicious bulk.

A photo posted by Catherine Ling (@camemberu) on

The "Bi Feng Tang" Golden Half-Lobster with Spiced Almond Flakes (S$38++ per person) features a light crispy batter and tender flesh. All the fried garlic and chili just makes this so delectably savoury.

Chef Ku also does a different style of roast suckling pig each year. In previous years, he has played with various kinds of glutinous rice stuffing. He likes to innovate with new ingredients, so this year, the piglet is stuffed with...*drum roll*...California maki.

Whole Roast Suckling Pig with California Maki (S$338++)
The suckling pig itself is gorgeous, but I have to say the Japanese maki, although unusual, was a strange match. There was also too much rice. Maybe if it had more ingredients in it, it might work but I reckon it's not easy to stuff a full roll into the piglet.

Stir-fried Broccoli topped with Scallop and Egg White 
This is absolutely exquisite. Fluffy egg white with scallops is always a delightful pairing with broccoli, and the crispy yam bracelet is a treat.
Note that what's shown is a tasting portion; the actual one feeds 2-4 pax (S$38++).

Golden Egg Bird's Nest Jelly (S$28++) 
They got decidedly creative with dessert: a jelly egg filled with bird's nest ensconced in a nest made of cotton candy floss, and embellished with golden spun sugar. You can't help but be wowed. Theme-wise, it's perfect for the Year of the Rooster.


Level 3 Conrad Centennial Singapore
2 Temasek Boulevard
Singapore 038983
Tel: +65 6432-7482
Email: sinci.goldenpeony@conradhotels.com

Open daily
Monday to Saturday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Sunday 10:30am - 2:30pm
Monday to Sunday
6:30pm - 10:30pm

Thanks to Golden Peony and Conrad Centennial Singapore for the invitation

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Golden Duck Salted Egg Yolk Fish Skin and Potato Chips

The salted egg yolk treatment may have been done to death, but I have to say I still can't get enough of it sometimes.

The Golden Duck's handcrafted salted egg yolk snacks now come in a beautiful shimmery gold (huat ah!) but the best thing has got to be the TGD's Salted Egg Yolk Fish Skin (lower row in collage above). Add this to your yusheng and instantly add delicious crunch to your salad. These are really addictive. The only thing I wish they would do is a spicy version - add some sliced chili padi to the mix! Goes well with the curry leaves.

The potato chips are a little too sweet for my liking. It's likely because the chips are so thin, so the ratio of salted egg yolk seasoning to potato is way too high.

TGD CNY 2017 Gold Coin Rush

Good news: 888 TGD coins have been hidden in the golden packs sold between January 11 and February 11 (fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year). Each coin entitles you to a prize exchange. Prizes include a trip to The Maldives, a staycation for two at the Pan Pacific Singapore, and an Apple watch!

The packs are priced at $7 each, and can be purchased from http://order.tgdsingapore.com/ or at the stores listed in http://thegoldenduck.co/store-locator/.

Thanks to TGD for sending the samples. First photo from TGD's Facebook page.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Steamboat Ingredients with CP Foods

CP Foods has introduced new products just in time for Chinese New Year. Some of these look perfect for the annual family reunion steamboat right at home.

There are some festive offers exclusively available at NTUC:
  • 40-pc Wonton festive pack - S$12.90 (U.P S$17.30)
  • 800gm Chicken Gyoza festive pack - S$8.80 (U.P S$11.80)
  • Clear Chicken Broth concentrate – Buy 1 Get 1 Free (Jan) and Buy 2 Get 1 Free (Feb) (U.P S$2.50) 
There's also the 8-pc Jumbo Wonton - S$6.80 (U.P S$8.90) which you can enjoy without needing to first thaw the product. Just add it frozen into the soup and it’ll be cooked in a jiffy.

6-pc White Fungus Soup with Lotus Seed in Rock Candy festive pack - S$9.95 (promo exclusively at NTUC, U.P S$15.00)

This is the first time I've seen CP come up with a dessert product. White fungus soup that's ready to eat in disposable cups. There's a foldable spoon conveniently inside too. The only drawback with such pre-cooked white fungus is that they tend to lose the natural crunch (really the main reason I love white fungus). What you get is a gooey and gummy product.

You can now also shop for CP Food products online - http://cpshopz.sg - it looks like the promos are all there too.

Thanks to CP Foods for sending the kit.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Where to Eat this CNY 2017

Chinese New Year (CNY) usually brings with it the biggest family feast of the year for many of us who are celebrating. It's way less stressful to eat out, and everyone can have a good time. Let's take a look at some of the more interesting choices out there:


A buffet would make sense if you have a large extended family or loved ones with different tastebuds who would not be easily satisfied with a fixed menu.

Seasonal Tastes at The Westin Singapore is rolling out Lunar New Year favourites for reunion dinner. On the eve, enjoy the classic Mini Buddha Jumps Over The Wall, a double-boiled fish maw and crab meat broth with generous amounts of prosperous ingredients such as abalone, fish maw, mushroom, chicken and Chinese cabbage. The rest of the CNY season features Yu Sheng alongside a host of salmon treats – Traditional Smoked Salmon, Thai Smoked Salmon with Coriander Crust, and Beetroot Salmon Crust with Candied Walnuts – and the traditional Four Treasure Fortune Pot (photo above), Braised Pork Belly, and Drunken Fresh Prawns with XO Brandy, among others.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Sakae Sushi Lunar New Year Festive Combo Sets - Yusheng, Sushi and More

Sakae Sushi is offering festive combos for the lunar new year! I got to try the Festive Combo B ($168, photo above) which easily serves 8-10 people and comes with a Salmon Rong Yu Longevity Set, Classic Sushi Platter, Agemono Platter, and Chinmi Platter. To add a touch of luxury to the yu sheng, feel free to top up for the Australian Jumbo Abalone Yu Sheng for $13.

There's another lower priced Festive A (S$116) which serves 6-8 people and comprises the Salmon Rong Yu Sheng Longevity Set featuring Norwegian Salmon, and a Classic Sushi Platter.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Birds of a Feather: Modern Sichuan In Cosy Cafe-Bar

Birds of a Feather is a jewel of a retreat at Amoy Street. It's one of my favourite discoveries of 2016. The all-day dining cafe and bar is a haven of greenery and cosy serene space that's perfect for friends and kindred souls to flock to, as would birds of a feather.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Recipe: Multi-grain Rice with Mushrooms Using Tefal Advanced Spherical Pot Rice Cooker

Happy new year! We are kicking off 2017 with a (somewhat) healthy recipe: brown rice with multi-grains, chestnuts and mushrooms. I cooked this with the new Tefal Advanced Spherical Pot Rice Cooker (model RK8115) and I love how every grain came out perfectly cooked, separate and without any mush. It was al dente with a nice balance of yield vs bite. Best of all, nothing stuck to the pot, unlike my other rice cookers!

The RK8115 rice cooker is a beauty with its metallic and maroon exterior. It's compact and fits into a small kitchen. On top of that, it's super efficient machine that cooks more than just rice. Ten cooking programs include: White Rice, Brown Rice, Glutinous Rice, Congee, Porridge, Claypot, Steam, Soup, Reheat and Keep Warm. The capacity is 1L and you can cook six cups of rice - just right for a small family, or 1-8 individuals.

But what is really innovative is the spherical pot.
The design is inspired by traditional methods of cooking rice over fire. Doesn't it make sense? Tefal's spherical pot is orbed at a 62 degree angle at the brim and bottom to encourage even heat circulation.

With 2D spherical heating technology that emits heat from the pot's sides and bottom, the rice grains are heated evenly by swirling circularly instead of vertically. You get homogenous and deliciously cooked rice.

So here's the recipe for the Multi-grain Mushroom Rice (modified slightly from the original recipe that Tefal provided):


3 cups brown rice
30g multi-grains for rice (I used Hakubaku 16 grains)
50g roasted chestnuts
3 caps dried mushrooms
10g dried dashi (available in sachets)
2 tbsp soy sauce*
1tbsp sugar

*you can be creative and use any soy-based gravy; I tried using kway chap sauce and roast pork dark gravy (and omitted sugar)

1. Mix soy sauce, sugar, and 1/4 cup water.
2. Soak mushrooms til soft and slice. Set aside the soaking water.
3. Add the (rinsed) brown rice and soaking water into the Tefal rice cooker. Add more water to the mark that reads 3 cup rice.
4. Add multi-grains, chestnuts and dashi. Close lid, set to brown rice mode and leave it to cook.
5. When ready, fluff the rice and serve with favourite dishes.

We like it on its own too; it's a one pot meal, and is especially tasty with some spicy chili sauce.

I have to say I'm really pleased with the results.

The Tefal rice cooker comes with a cookbook with recipes for claypot rice, Cantonese boat congee, stirfries, steamed dishes, soups, and even desserts. Yes, you can make chocolate cake with this cooker.

The Tefal Advanced Spherical Pot Rice Cooker RK8115 is priced at S$179 and is available at leading electrical and department stores. Visit the Tefal website and Facebook page for more information.

Thanks to Tefal for providing the rice cooker for review.

Update: We have been included in the most recent article on by the international educational publisher Twinkl - you can read more here.

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