Friday, September 22, 2017

Peaceful Cuisine: Most Therapeutic YouTube Cooking Channel

Do you feel that too many videos these days are too loud, talk too much and pile on the hyper-energetic vibe in order to be interesting? Then you'll really find Peaceful Cuisine a pleasant change. Hypnotic food porn meditation with just the sounds of cooking and minimal talking. Some of the videos have a version that come without music. The sounds are so crisp and soothing, they practically qualify as ASMR.

I just stumbled upon Peaceful Cuisine when YouTube recommended me this video:

Making a Kohiki plate? Who is this young man and why does he have 1 million subscribers? Wow, turns out Ryoya Takashima doesn't just make pottery, he has a whole channel - Peaceful Cuisine - dedicated to beautiful cooking and baking recipes. OMG 250 of these videos? I've found my new binge channel.

Peaceful Cuisine is my favourite cooking channel now

He's got a message behind his delicious-looking dishes. "Eat foods that are good for all people, all creatures and the environment. World peace through the food choices we make."

Wow, the food looked so good, I didn't realise they were all vegan at first.

OK, so peace through veganism. He's not pushy or preachy in the videos, and it helps that his recipes are really tempting. While I'll never be full-on vegan or even vegetarian, I do think it helps to consider reducing meat consumption for the sake of the planet.

On his own personal channel, he shares aspects of his life, experimental projects and what he eats. Like soba.

I thought he was gonna cook soba from a packet and garnish it like a pro. But noooo, of course he's making soba noddles from scratch. Oh but it's so therapeutic to watch.

He also travels (actually he's in Norway right now as we speak; go see his travel vlogs) and does amazing timelapse videos.

Go view this in full screen. Nao.

You should also see how he built his own kitchen. Check out his house tour. He built all the shelving!

He also plays the cello and ukelele. How is it that one person can be so dedicated to perfecting so many skills? This comes from a reverence for craft that the Japanese are so good at. Taking pride in what you do -- that's in short supply these days, sometimes.

A post shared by Ryoya Takashima (@peaceful_cuisine) on
And of course he dives with dolphins. Yes, follow. Subscribe. Go, watch, binge. Like.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

iPhone 8 or Samsung 8? Contract or No Contract? See Comparisons, Circles.Life Pricing and Referral Code

It's the battle of the eights. Which will you choose? iPhone 8/8 Plus or Samsung Galaxy s8/s8+/Note 8? Which telco will give you the best savings? Should you tie yourself to a two-year contract in order to enjoy a low upfront price on your new phone?

I'm only looking at Circles' pricing for now, because I know there aren't any real "discounts" on phones. The phone cost is already worked into the contract. In fact, it can cost more with a contract.

Is A Phone Cheaper with A Contract?

Let's say you're buying a 64Gb iPhone 8. Here's a comparison of Circles' base plan (6 Gb data for S$28) against similar plans from other telcos that offer contracts and "discounts" (you can guess who's who from the colour):

Just for the basic 6GB data plan, you can see that the two-year contract plans will cost you more in the long run. Double that for two-year contracts, and you'll see how much extra you're forking out.

The price of the phone may seem cheap upfront but you're better off paying instalments sans contract.

And this one is for the "upsized" plan, with the S$20 for 20Gb add-on:

The savings you get with Circles is even more evident. And these figures don't count GST yet, so the final savings tally could be even higher.

I know, it's ironic that a two-year contract can cost more than a no-contract arrangement that gives you the freedom to walk away anytime.

And yes, while some telcos are now re-offering the unlimited data bundles, I'm happy with my 80+Gb free extra data from Circles, which is almost like unlimited data.

Wanna know how I got 80+Gb free bonus data? Circles rewards you for referrals, loyalty and even for porting your number. It's insane how much you can accumulate. I've stopped using my referral code OBWAN (which I got to customise and think that's super cool), and started helping other people get more.

Referral Codes

Here are two codes you can use to get S$20 off registration fee:

1. QOCLO (spelt with two letter "O"s not zeros)
This belongs to my friend Eunice of TravelerFolio, whose baby girl is using up all her data.

2. U3J5I (spelt with a letter "I" at the end)
This belongs to Jolie, my daughter. Here she is, with me, in a photobombed shot.

A post shared by Catherine Ling (@camemberu) on

Circles Phone Pricing

Anyway, let's take a look at handset pricing under Circles. Basically, you can stretch out the payment up to 24 months using a credit card.

Wow, the prices are TEH SAME!!!

For Galaxy Note S8 and S8+, it's just a little more.

Kinda similar to the iPhone 8+, so there really isn't much of a difference in price. It will boil down to which operating system you prefer, and the individual phone features.

Well, I got my iPhone 7 Plus from Circles last year. Still happy with it. But everyone I know who has seen the iPhone X likes the brightness of the new OLED screen, the FaceID and animoji (possibly the only feature that hasn't been leaked).

Meanwhile, check out my other posts on Circles if you want to find out more:

$20 for 20Gb

12 Reasons to Switch

Price plan comparison tables courtesy of Circles

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mooncakes 2017 (Mid-Autumn Festival Singapore): Best & Favourites

Mooncake season is unseasonally late this year in October, thanks to a leap month in the lunar calendar. So if you still haven't bought your mooncakes, all is not lost. There's still plenty of choices this year, and here are some of my favourites, and my totally arbitrary awards (just for fun).

Most Fabulous Presentation

Gloriously golden and gleamingly glamourous! Anyone who lays their eyes on this stunning mooncake box from Yan Ting (of St Regis Singapore) will certainly be glowing.  Their snowskin flavours include a heady Champagne Truffle with Chocolate Paste; a Six Coarse Grains Paste with earthy multigrain goodness; and a deliciously healthy Reduced Sugar Green Apple Paste with Macadamia Nuts - this one won favour all round in my family even though we didn't recognise the green apple at first. It was just so lovely, and the macadamia nuts added luxurious crunch.

Best Baked Mooncakes

Most people I know prefer the snowskin variety but I like baked mooncakes. And Li Bai has one of the smoothest and silkiest pastes wrapped in evenly thin skin. It's also not too sweet (a big plus in my books).

Best Snowskin Flavour

Fullerton Hotel's snowskin mooncakes by Jade restaurant boast one of the smoothest and creamiest textures of all the mooncakes. There are so many winners among the flavours too. We loved the Tangerine Lemon as well as the Kopi with Salted Hokkaido Milk.

Best Wholegrain Flavour

There's a trend towards mooncakes with multigrain fillings. Some do them well, others not so. I liked Ritz-Carlton's version. It has the right balance and mix of grains, nuts and smooth paste to make it easy to eat.

Prettiest Chinoiserie Motifs

Shangri-La Singapore mooncakes
I've always liked the mooncake boxes from Shangri-La. This year, they come in tower form, with very pretty motifs on the side and on the mooncake boxes themselves. The drawers have a pretty pearl clasp handle. I didn't get to taste the mooncakes but I do love the boxes.

Most Elegant Shape

When you get tired of square or round mooncakes, these peach-shaped babies should certainly please. The snowskin flavours are also exquisite, with the Imperial Yuzu one being most memorable.

Best Salty Mooncake

Antoinette_Salted Yolk Chicken Floss Mooncake (photo courtesy of Antoinette)
Photo courtesy of Antoinette
Chef Pang of Antoinette has cleverly fused chicken floss with salted egg yolk for his 2017 mooncakes. And we all know how good his salted egg yolk items are. Imagine them boosted with savoury floss.

Most Eggy Mooncake

Xin's Signature Mini Egg Custard with Yolk (photo courtesy of Xin)
Xin's Mini Custard with Egg Yolk is one of the more unusual and interesting renditions of mini mooncakes - custard with salted egg yolks. It's egg in egg - eggception?

Most Epic Mooncake Box

When it comes to wow factor, I think few can beat Concorde Hotel's mirrored box with bejewelled swans, LED lights and bling. Worth getting just for the box alone!

Most "Teochew" Mooncake

Thye Moh Chan mooncakes (photo courtesy of Thye Moh Chan)
Photo courtesy of Thye Moh Chan
I was surprised to see that Thye Moh Chan has also jumped on the bandwagon, offering their Teochew pastries as a mooncake alternative or variety. These have been upgraded with ingredients like XO Sauce, and Mao Shan Wang durian. Prices are slightly lower than traditional mooncakes but the presentation is no less impressive.

So there you go for 10 mooncakes this year. Which ones are your favourite so far? I do love the yam paste flaky pastry ones, but haven't been able to get any. Must remedy that!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

La Brasserie at Fullerton Bay Hotel: French Restaurant with Marina Bay Views

La Brasserie at Fullerton Bay Hotel has refurbished its salons. Gone is the heavy masculine decor; in its place is a new light Herringbone floor and colour scheme centred on a grey, burnt orange and ivory theme, with redesigned furnishings and drapery by Jim Thompson giving it a more lively contemporary ambience.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Sudio REGENT Wireless Bluetooth Headphones: Quick Review

These Sudio REGENT wireless Bluetooth headphones from Sweden are a real beauty. The simple yet stylish headphones feature 24+ hours of battery life, a full-leather composition, and nice booming bass. It even allows you to change the caps at the side to personalise your headphones in six different styles.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summerlong at Robertson Quay: Brunch with Mediterranean Beach Vibes

Fancy a posh casual eatery with Mediterranean beachside vibes? The team behind Neon Pigeon, Fat Prince and The Ottoman Room have dreamt up a new concept, Summerlong, at The Quayside at Robertson Quay.

The open kitchen, helmed by Chef Justin Hammond (of Neon Pigeon), serves up a mix of snacks, dips, grilled items and shared dishes to nibble on, which are meant for communal enjoyment with family and friends.

Summerlong at Robertson Quay

Summerlong does embody the bright and breezy beachside style that is reminiscent of summer seaside vacations. While there is no beach in sight, the riverside location does help lend a relaxing feel to the white-washed space.

This "city beach" cafe and bar does aim to offer fresh and healthy food and drinks inspired by the Eastern Mediterranean. Brunch here seems to echo that theme. My favourite part was the side counter with dishes that are almost as good as mains.

Dishes on the Side Counter
These are mainly vegetarian, to cater to as wide a group as possible.

Mix of dishes from side counter
The chef was kind enough to let me try a little bit of everything. My favourite is the Cauliflower and Beef (first photo). Nadine liked the Roasted Pumpkin. The Kale Tart was well-made too. Only the roasted carrots were a little tough.

From the a la carte menu, there is a nice variety of starters, mains, snacks, side salads, more side dishes and desserts.

Almond Yoghurt and Granola, Buckwheat, Poached Pear, Nuts (S$15)
Almond Yoghurt and Granola, Buckwheat, Poached Pear, Nuts (S$15)
The almond yoghurt turned out quite differently from what we expected. It was light-bodied and tremendously sweet without any yoghurt-like tang. There wasn't much granola or buckwheat, so it didn't feel substantial. It really feels more like a dessert, like melted ice cream. This is a palm-sized portion (that's a teaspoon in there for size comparison), which for S$15 is really small. But it's meant as a starter.

Smoked Salmon, Sous Vide Egg, Capers, Pickled Shallots, Rye (S$20)
Smoked Salmon, Sous Vide Egg, Capers, Pickled Shallots, Rye (S$20)
I liked this much better. It's a fool-proof ensemble of salmon, capers, pickles on rye with runny eggs pulling it all together. But it's not really big enough to share.

I hear the Blueberry Pancakes, served with lemon butterscotch maple syrup and marscapone ($18), are highly recommended but our order never came. It was fine; we were already full from the dishes we had.

Savoury items include the Falafel Scotch Egg, avocado, preserved lemon, cardamom ($22) and the signature Persian Fried Chicken & Egg, sweet potato corn hash, herbs (S$22). Or you could splash out for the Turkish Breakfast - labneh, olives, mushrooms, beans, sausage, tomato, cucumber, salad, tangerine, sour cherry jam, bread (S$32).

I totally missed the Soft Serve Ice Cream (S$4) counter, where kids and adults alike can load up on the good stuff with a myriad of toppings ranging from chocolate to candy to fruit (S$1 per topping).

The Summerlong menu also has pitchers for sharing such as the Summerlong Spritz, a riff on the classic Aperol spritz, made with Aperol, Cava, grapefruit and soda ($50). It comes in a jug which is probably good for three glasses. I only took one glass. It's really easy to drink, and not too heavy on the alcohol.

The group’s Bar Manager, Symphony Loo, is behind their creative cocktails program. For a light afternoon tipple, the Medius Terra Fizz made with rosehip gin, lemongrass, ginger, soda ($15) makes for easy drinking in the tropics. A hardier libation with the vacation beach vibe is the 3 Continents, made with three rums, pineapple and passionfruit, served in a coconut shell (S$21). For a frozen option, the Greek Elixir uses ouzo, lime and herbs (S$19).

Summerlong's wine list consists of hand-picked selections from Mediterranean vineyards including France, Italy, Spain and Turkey. Beer and cider is available on tap as well as by the bottle. For craft beer lovers, Desecutes “Fresh Squeeze” IPA (S$14) is on tap, and for a lighter beer option, there is a Greek lager, Mythos (S$14) served by the bottle and by the Bucket (S$55 for six).

The guys from “A Stimulant by SARNIES” are behind the coffee and serve the traditional favourites, plus some new introductions like Bullet Proof Coffee (S$6) for those looking for a serious caffeine kick.

Summerlong was packed when we visited; it looks like the place is popular with well-heeled expats, young couples and tourists. Service was friendly enough, and the bright, well-decorated, open-air space certainly has its charm.

60 Robertson Quay #01-04
Singapore 238252
Tel: +65 6235-1225
Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday - 5PM to Midnight
Saturday & Sunday - 11:30AM to Midnight
Closed on Monday

Many thanks to Summerlong for the invitation.
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