Monday, November 5, 2018

Get ready for 11.11 with ShopBack Cashback Buddy

The biggest online shopping season is starting soon! Many shops have begun having their own 11.11 sale, and I already know people who have carts pre-filled with stuff ready to go.

Lower prices are one thing, but smarter shoppers will get cashback on top of that. I came across ShopBack from a friend's recommendation two years ago. They aggregate cashback opportunities from over 500 online stores. If you're using that, you should know about their ShopBack Browser Extension.

Here is what the Cashback Buddy is about:

- It serves as a notification if you happen to be browsing an online store that you can earn Cashback from ShopBack.

- Saves you from missing out on Cashback if you happen to forget doing a clickthrough from ShopBack (The extension will have pop-up appear and the Cashback button will start blinking to notify you.

- You can discover new stores that you never knew you can earn Cashback from.

- If you are doing a search for things online, for example, a product, you can even find out if there are stores you can earn Cashback from via the search engine. Like this:

- If you’re familiar with shopping on Taobao with ShopBack you’ll know that shopping on Taobao on ShopBack involves having to use the search bar on the ShopBack website for every product you would like to add to cart. And since Singles Day is around the corner, it also makes it easier for you to earn cashback as the search bar that users previously have to use in the ShopBack website is now embedded in the extension.

There'll be more new features available in the future to help shoppers make smart shopping decisions.

I have it installed on my Chrome browser and it's pretty useful in alerting me to the stores that offer cashback and how much I can get. The little red icon flashes with a green border when that alert happens.

Happy shopping and happy saving!


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Alma by Juan Amador: One-Michelin Star Restaurant at Goodwood Park Hotel

In the blink of an eye, Alma by Juan Amador is three years old. The restaurant has plenty to celebrate; it's not only held on to its one Michelin star for three consecutive years, but its Executive Chef Haikal Johari who was paralysed from the neck down three years ago has made extraordinary recovery.

Chef Haikal Johari of Alma by Juan Amador
It was phenomenal watching Chef Haikal walk out on crutches to greet us. He had been so badly injured in that motorbike accident that he couldn't even talk and needed a ventilator to breathe. See his journey of determination here:

Alma which means "soul" in Spanish has rolled out new dinner menus to touch the soul. Chef Haikal marries his training in European cuisine with Asian flavours to create dishes that bring both new yet familiar tastes. You'll also find a strong nod to Japanese ingredients and cuisine.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Håakon Superfoods & Juice: Delicious, Natural and Nourishing

In recent years, I've had a secret yearning to escape to Scandinavia. I joked about moving to a tiny cabin in Norway (maybe north of Tromsø) when I was shifting house. Aside from the cold climes which would be a relief from this blasted heat, I love the Nordic design aesthetics, social structures, and work-life balance. These countries have got it right - it's all about paring everything down to essentials: people you love and the quality of your daily life.


Friday, June 22, 2018

FOC PIM PAM: Spanish Tapas Bar & Restaurant at Orchard

Good Spanish food is hard to find in Singapore. No matter what you say, it just isn't the same as eating in the country itself. The produce, the vibe, and the service: it's best experienced in Spain. But with places like FOC PIM PAM, we can get a taste of Barcelonan bodega buzz.

Starting with the food!

Witness the magnificent Ibérico Secreto Pork & Mushroom Paella (above, S$33). Let me first say that I am not a fan of European rice dishes. But this paella blew me away. It's the richly infused flavours of mushrooms (ceps, button and oyster) and whatever magical stock they've conjured up using chicken and pork trotters; like a spell, it pulls you in and just makes you reach for more. The special cut Ibérico pork topping the rice is marvellously tender too.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Visiting Penang for the first time? Must-See Attractions!

Many Singaporeans love traveling to exotic and far-flung locales, so much so that we sometimes forget the gems nearby. For instance, the laid back yet culturally bustling island of Penang, Malaysia. Besides being a food paradise, this island is full of places to explore and must-see attractions. If you've never been to Penang, here are some places and activities you can see and do that are perfect for all ages.

Enjoy the beautiful view at Penang Hill

Being the first colonial hill station developed in Peninsular Malaysia, this hill compromises Western Hill, Bukit Laksamana, Tiger Hill, Flagstaff Hill and Government Hill. Penang Hill is set 891m above Penang’s capital and it is generally 5 degrees cooler than Georgetown. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the island’s breeze on this hill. Not only that, you also get a panoramic view of the northern coast and Georgetown City.

Pray at Kek Lok Si Temple

Kek Lok Si Temple is jaw-droppingly awesome. This massive complex, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, totally requires time to explore. With Georgetown city as the backdrop, this temple is every photographer’s dream, thanks to its unique architecture. Do make sure you go up there on foot so you don’t miss the tortoise pond.

Enjoy Nature at Penang National Park

Everyone knows that Penang is a food heaven, but once you are done eating, visiting the Penang National Park is the great way to burn calories and to view Penang from the sea. All the way from Monkey beach to the lighthouse and Pantai Kerachut, there are many stops along the way for you to catch your breath and enjoy the beautiful view. If you are looking for a quiet beach to just relax without the noise from the crowd, you should totally visit Pantai Kerachut, one of the hidden gems in Penang.

Explore the fascinating street art

When you are in Penang, make sure you check out all the hidden murals in Armenian Street. From murals of cats to kids on a bicycle, do ensure you find all. Easier way for you to move around the street is to rent a bicycle and ride around this heritage site for the perfect photo opportunity. You can get a map of each mural’s location for the shops nearby.

Enjoying the sunset at Chew Jetty

Chew Jetty is among the last of floating villages in Penang. Wandering along the Chew Jetty is really interesting. The residents have turned it into a little shopping area which is very enterprising given the space or lack of it. When the sunset comes, this jetty becomes a beautiful picturesque view. A must see when visiting Penang.

Dare yourself at The Top at Komtar

If you love an adrenaline rush, check out the new attractions at THE TOP at Komtar. Get your heart racing at the Rainbow Skywalk, a semi-circle glass path that is built just several meters out of the building. The Open Deck will leave you amazed while you enjoy a spectacular view and experience of being amongst the clouds.

Apart from the things above, there are many more activities that can be done in Penang, making this your trip of a lifetime. Don’t miss out your chance to visit Penang when you visit Malaysia. For cheaper flight deals, you can always check out Traveloka Malaysia. They have great deals for flights from Singapore to Penang and to everywhere else you would like to go. Make sure to check them out.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Shabu EN Taki Nabe Hotpot: Miyazaki Wagyu and Iberico Pork

Is there a sight more alluring than marbled meat all laid out for your enjoyment? This is certified A5 Miyazaki wagyu and Iberico pork belly sliced thinly and placed around a shabu-shabu hotpot almost volcano style.

This is Kyushu Taki Nabe from Shabu EN, the fourth dining concept from EN Group (which also operates EN Sakaba, EN Japanese Dining Bar and Monster Curry). This Japanese wagyu and Spanish pork combo (S$38.80) feeds two and makes a pleasant, interactive shared meal.

The fact that is Japanese wagyu makes all the difference. You know how Australian and other wagyu doesn't quite taste the same, even if they try to breed or cross-breed the same kind of cattle. There is an aromatic sweetness that is unmistakably the essence that makes wagyu the prized meat it is.

Taki Nabe at Shabu EN

The Taki Nabe features a 40cm hotpot and introduces a new way of enjoying the steamboat dish. The wagyu and pork are layered over cabbage and garnished with spring onions, circling the pot of boiling stock. Simply push in a stack of ingredients, swish them around for a couple of seconds and enjoy!

Shabu EN
There are three different broths to choose from. The Dashi Bonito and Kobu soup, which is the best for making porridge with at the very end. Head Chef Tatsuya Nakayama has also created a Paitan Collagen Chicken soup and a Spicy Kara Miso soup using spices from Okinawa.

Shabu EN

There are three dipping sauces:

  • a ponzu (above) enlivened with shiquasa or shikuwasa limes from Okinawa (it's super citrusy and really cut through the fat): I really liked this one although some may find it a little too tangy
  • goma-dare: the sesame staple with soy and vinegar
  • chili sauce: Monster Curry's spicy and garlicky chili given a touch of sake and ponzu

Shabu EN
You can add on more meat. This is Iberico pork collar (S$7.80). You can get more pork belly (S$6.80) or more wagyu (S$16.80) too.

Shabu EN
They also have Premium Beef (S$8.80) which turned out to be pretty good.

Shabu EN
Big slices of beefy goodness. This beef would suit those who prefer something lean but still tender.

Shabu EN
See that umami broth brimming with flavoursome wagyu and Iberico fat at the end? You simply MUST finish off with a porridge add-on (S$2.50). The friendly wait staff very kindly helped us cook and stir the porridge. Takes about 15-20 minutes but it is so WORTH waiting for!

Shabu EN
The other highlight we found is their Jyubako (or "treasure box") Black Box Bento and I'm referring specifically to the Miyazaki Aburi Wagyu Don Set (an absolute steal at S$22.80) which gives you torched Miyazaki wagyu with sweet soy steak sauce. You can choose your preferred level of doneness, but you can also trust the staff to get the perfect slightly rare grill level. This set is so good, you'll want another one almost immediately.

The bentos come with miso soup, a supremely delicate ikura chawanmushi, salad and dessert (we got a purple sweet potato ball coated with sesame seeds). Kyushu is well-known for its sweet potatoes.

Other options for the bento include Unatama (grilled eel), pork belly shogayaki, wakatori teriyaki, premium beef yakiniku, chicken/pork katsu tama, and tendon. Prices range from S$13.80 to S$15.80 for these sets. They are also available at Monster Curry Downtown Gallery.

Shabu EN
I'm so lucky Shabu EN started this first outlet at Parkway Parade just across from Monster Curry. We are regulars there and the staff already know us well, so we always get fabulous service. My girls and I love hotpot, so we'll definitely be back for this and the Jyubako Aburi Wagyu!

Meanwhile, there's a promo going on: get a free plate of Iberico pork belly with every Taki Nabe hotpot (prices start from S$28.80).

#01-11 Parkway Parade
80 Marine Parade Road
Singapore 449269
tel: +65 6348 6171
Open daily 11am – 10pm

Thank you, Shabu EN for the the invitation and hospitality!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday Brunch Buffet at JW Marriott's Beach Road Kitchen

Ahh...nothing quite sums up the joy of Sunday brunch like a kid with ice cream. The pure head-on enjoyment is what the Sunday indulgence ought to be like.


Friday, April 27, 2018

Beauty in The Pot at OneKM Mall: New Bigger Branch On Third Floor

Beauty in a Pot is one of my foodie gangs' favourite hotpot haunts. The collagen broth is something not many places can match, and the ingredients and service never fail to disappoint. While they have a branch at Centrepoint, the original one at OneKM Mall is still better. However, reservations at OneKM Mall are almost impossible and long queues are an everyday sight. So when we heard that they expanded upstairs with a huge 7,600 square feet outlet, this could only be good news.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018 Healthy, Tasty, Singapore-wide Food Delivery Under 45 Mins

I've liked ever since its young but talented team started the venture four years ago to feed people better. Grain creates and delivers nutritious and well-balanced meal boxes. These are cooked by professional chefs and not only look amazing but taste good enough that you might find yourself wanting seconds or maybe the very same meal the next day. I like the the meals are well thought out and sophisticated enough to keep interest going. And they're certified halal!

I particularly appreciate the detailed nutritional breakdown you get with each meal box - calories and macro breakdowns - which are so essential for planning your daily intake.

They used to only serve the CBD (using technology and apps to swiftly deliver orders in 15 minutes) but now deliver islandwide within 45 minutes.

I got a sample of four different dishes, and they are all so beautifully packaged. Here are the official descriptions and my verdict.

Roasted Thai Chicken with Sautéed Greens ($12.95)

This dish was so popular that it was brought back in 2018 with a healthy makeover. This Thai-inspired twist on a classic Sunday roast turns up the heat and delivers on flavour. Roasted chicken thigh is served on a bed of antioxidant-rich sweet potatoes and sweet purple potatoes. We've also added spinach to our version 2.0 – a powerhouse of nutrients. Still as tasty as ever, this dish is just what you need after party season.

VERDICT: This was my favourite of the lot! The richly marinated chicken yielded beautifully aromatic flavours and the sauteed greens were just crunchy and gorgeous. Pour on the dressing for an intense tangy effect.

Beef Brisket Rendang on Butterfly Pea Rice with coconut flakes and long bean achar ($12.95)

This striking dish takes inspiration from Nasi Kerabu, a North Malaysian specialty. Chunks of beef brisket are cooked low and slow in a thick velvety sauce with star anise, cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric. This is paired with fragrant basmati rice enriched with freekeh, a nutritious whole grain. The brilliant blue colour of the rice comes from the petals of the butterfly-pea flower. Achar, spicy Malaysian pickled vegetables, brings all the elements together with a perfect balance of spicy, sour and sweet flavours.

VERDICT: This is quite appetising eaten with the achar, and the rendang spice mix is not too overpowering (it didn't even need the rice). I found myself wishing there was more beef (I was sharing) but the portion was just nice for one actually. Do make sure you eat this within two hours as the rich coconut in this may spoil easily especially at room temperature.

Tofu-Powered Tabbouleh with aubergine, roasted pumpkin and bulgur ($9.50)

This plant-powered dish will put a spring in your step, even for meat-lovers. The meatiness of aubergine contrasts with creamy roasted pumpkin and nutty bulgur wheat, a hearty Middle Eastern grain. Silken tofu carries the Japanese flavours of soy and mirin, with a delicate citrus note. This dish is all about the interplay of textures and naturally vibrant ingredients.

VERDICT: This is vegan but oh so delicious! It's chilled and refreshing; the combination of ingredients just works. I also like how the soy-ponzu dressing ties everything together. This pack is also the lowest calorie one among the four I got. 

Pan‑seared Norwegian Salmon with citrus vinaigrette on pasta ($14.50)

This vibrantly hued dish is a real feast for the senses. Norwegian salmon is slow-cooked for a buttery texture and seared in a sizzling pan. A zesty citrus vinaigrette keeps things fresh along with crunchy edamame beans, cherry tomatoes and fusilli pasta. Super-satisfying and packed with omega-3 fatty acids, it’s as good for you as it looks.

VERDICT: What seems to be a simple salmon pasta is elevated by an unusual dressing. It's a little on the sweet side, but the fruity accent is interesting. The fish is fresh and cooked perfectly - not dry at all. 

Check out their easy-to-use app.

Use my code RF40460 

and we’ll both get $5 towards good eats!

Meanwhile, Grain is launching a subscription plan, Grain Up, that is currently in its pre-release phase. For a monthly fee, subscribers will enjoy unlimited free delivery and savings up to 25%, depending on which plan they choose. The Mid and Premium plans come with meal credits which can be used to purchase meal boxes, and any unused meal credits will be carried over to the next month. If you are interested, you may email the team at to register your interest.

Many thanks to for the meal boxes. Good luck with the new plan!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Morton's S$98 Sunday Lunch Menu Has New Dishes

Morton's has introduced new dishes to its Sunday lunch which it started two years ago. For S$98, you get a three course lunch of starter, main and dessert. From the mains, you can choose from the 8.5oz Filet Mignon above, served with asparagus and mash potato. New items include Short Rib Tacos and their Crab Cake BLT. A la carte options are still available.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Shermay Lee Peranakan Signatures at The Dining Room Buffet at The Sheraton

If you love indulging in a good Peranakan spread, you might like to check out The Dining Room and Shermay Lee's collaboration. This sixth generation Nyonya needs no introduction but she's probably most well-known for her award-winning cookbooks featuring recipes from her Peranakan grandmother.

Shermay has curated 20 heritage favourites for Sheraton Towers' The Dining Room x Shermay Lee's Kuehtessentially Peranakan showcase. It happens every on weekends in April (7 to 29). These are some of the dishes you can look forward to.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

March 21: World Down Syndrome Day

I couldn't resist sharing this photo. She's the cutest baby I've seen in a long time.

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day. Folks are wearing #LotsOfSocks today, and indeed odd socks because chromosomes are shaped like socks and people with Down Syndrome have an extra one (three copies of the 21st chromosome).

As some of you may know, I am blessed with Nadine who has Down Syndrome and taught me so much about joy, tenacity, love and creativity. Yes, she tests my patience too, like any other kid, and is sometimes a little too good at problem-solving for her own good (getting to food hidden high up, opening doors and locks, designing wacky hairstyles, finding horror game videos on YouTube). She's also better than I ever will be at Minecraft and Goat Simulator.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

IZA at Siglap: Your Local Izakaya Bar

Siglap got its own edgy izakaya bar when IZA opened there last December. It's got some creative Japanese-inspired dishes married with local flavour as well as grilled skewers in its collaboration with TSB (The Skewer Bar).

You can even get a window seat to the grilling action. This was our favourite part - watching the food caramelising is totally ups the anticipation of the dishes to come.


Friday, March 9, 2018

March 21: Goût de France (Good France) with Air France Celebrates French Food Worldwide

Ah, France...we have such romantic visions of the country, its people and its feted cuisine. Little wonder it is the world’s most visited country (nearly 89 million visitors in 2017) and a third of these tourists come for the outstanding culinary heritage.

But it's not merely the food itself that the French have elevated.

The French treasure dining so much that the act of enjoying a gourmet meal in good company – the French répas or gastronomic meal – is now protected as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage.

In the spirit of living to eat and drink, the French are celebrating the best of their cuisine globally with Goût de France or @good_france on 21 March, the first day of spring.

The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and chef Alain Ducasse are organising this event involving 3,000 restaurants in over 150 countries all offering French menus on that day. French embassies and chefs will be collaborating for the world's largest dinner reception. Singapore has 10 restaurants participating:
  • Brasserie Gavroche
  • Entre-nous Creperie
  • Ginett Restaurant & Wine Bar
  • Le Bistrot du Sommelier
  • Mad About Sucre
  • Racines
  • Saint Pierre
  • Wine Connection Bistro Capital Square
  • Winestone
  • Xperience Restaurant
They will each offer a menu with an aperitif with finger food, a starter, one or two main course(s), a cheese platter and a dessert, accompanied by French wines and champagnes.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Fixing Four Common Living Room Mistakes

You guys may have seen that I'm selling my house. I'm really looking forward to doing up my next house, and have been reading up on interior decor and design.

This is a piece contributed by Masons Home Décor with some useful tips.

photo from Skitterphoto

Fixing Four Common Living Room Mistakes  

The living room is often the most lived-in room in the home. In Singapore, it is also the room that often suffers from common design mistakes with regard to the arrangement of your furniture.

Keep reading to identify the mistakes you may be making, why what you’re doing doesn’t work and how to make some effective changes. Most of these problems are fairly easy to fix, and a few tweaks can make all the difference.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Starbucks Sakura! Japanese Cherry Blossom Spring Merch

I am such a sucker for sakura designs. The ethereal Japanese cherry blossom is the symbol of transient life and appreciation of the moment.

Starbucks has just released drinkware in blooming pink with watercolour-like prints. They are so pretty.

Tumblers and bottles in the Petal Rain series, from left to right:
12oz: S$25.90
12oz: S$22.90
16oz: S$22.90
16oz: S$21.90

Photo courtesy of Starbucks
Left, 16oz: S$36.90
Right, 16oz: S$42.90

Photo courtesy of Starbucks
Blossom Rain
Both designs, 16oz: S$29.90 each
Pouch (comes with fabric marker): S$9.90

Photo courtesy of Starbucks
Tumbler 16oz: S$29.90

Photo courtesy of Starbucks
Green Tea Blossom Cake
Light, fluffy green tea sponge cake sitting between layers of luscious cherry blossom flavored cream. A sprinkle of dried rose petals completes the gorgeous cake.

Photo courtesy of Starbucks

NEW! Spring Season Blend (250gm, S$16.90)
Starbucks® has also introduced its Spring Season Blend celebrating a time of year marked by new beginnings and renewal. It's got dark cherry notes and a big syrupy body, also available in VIA and Origami formats.

This seasonal blend combines Ethiopian sun-dried beans with a striking flourish of dark cherry; aged Sumatra, loved for its syrupy body and cedary spice notes; juicy herbal and complex coffees from Papua New Guinea; and Colombian coffee, bright, balanced and nutty.

Also launching as part of the Starbucks® Single Origin Series is the Papua New Guinea Highlands roasty sweet with subtle spice and herbal complexity.

I never drink Starbucks coffee but the Spring Season Blend has me curious. If any of you like it, do let me know!

All photos courtesy of Starbucks

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Andre Chiang: The Future after Restaurant Andre

This was a difficult post for me to write. Last week on the 14th of February 2018, we saw the last day of service of Restaurant Andre in Singapore. Andre Chiang and his wife Pam held a cosy family-style meal for a small group of media. My heart broke as I watched Pam sob uncontrollably on a friend's shoulder. This was not an easy decision for them on many fronts.

We huddled and watched a breathtakingly poignant movie (see above) on why he is leaving and what he wants to delve into next. It's an homage to the perfection he seeks and that the team has achieved; there are gorgeous scenes of Taiwan, his homeland; and how the end is a beginning. He's going back to his roots. When people ask him where he's from and what's over there, he's often at a loss for words. So he's going to explore and discover, share and educate.

Restaurant Andre last day family meal

We are undoubtedly sad at losing what many consider the best or most groundbreaking restaurant in Singapore. Andre is a culinary artist whose mastery of flavours has put us on the world map of fine-dining. But there's also lots more to look forward to. Asia on the whole will certainly benefit. In the media Q&A, Andre gave us some insight into the next 5-10 years.

He's spot on about food education in Asia. Those who want to be professional chefs usually have to seek formal training at culinary schools in the West. What about learning our own history and cuisines first?

Meanwhile, Andre will still have a presence in Singapore. While he will be spending half his time at RAW in Taipei, he will also focus on managing the seven (soon to be 10) concepts under his restaurant group. In Singapore, he has Bincho, Burnt Ends, Meatsmith and Restaurant Andre, which will be redeveloped into a new and never-before-seen fine-dining concept by end of the year. He also has one restaurant each in Paris, Taipei and Chengdu. Three more are coming up in be revealed in due time.

Restaurant Andre last day family meal

How is he going to attain perfection while spreading himself over so many projects? His answer has piercing minimalist clarity. "What I does for each project is not to add more things to the cuisine, but to take out what is unnecessary. Just go straight to the DNA. That's really what I do."

"It's just like painters," he had said earlier. "It doesn't matter what you paint, as long as you understand colour. Ingredients are my colours. Doesn't matter if it's French or Chinese. I understand the chemicals between ingredients and formulas of taste."

"I like challenges; I like doing different things. I want to try completely different categories I've never tried before. Maybe beverages or pop-ups," he says. He doesn't mean bars or alcohol. They had developed 16 different fermented juices at Restaurant Andre. "Why not fermented juices? Why not tea? I think we can apply something from a chef's perspective. It could be cool."

As for RAW, which he has asked to be excluded from Michelin Guide consideration, he says it's a unique platform to showcase Taiwan's best.

"I have nothing more to prove. I want to keep it simple. I want people to just enjoy it. People say how can you open such a restaurant with such quality and setting and only sell US$60-70 a night for everything? It's not about how much money you make; it's a gift."

Chef @andrechiang_sg’s Taiwan beef noodles are mindblowingly phenomenal. If I have to go to Taipei to eat this again, I will! . . . . #andrechiang #restaurantandre #taiwanese #beefnoodles . . . . . #sgfood #sgfoodporn #igfood #sglife #exploresingapore #wh
Meanwhile, I am hoping his joke about doing pop-up street food stalls, "maybe selling beef noodles!" will actually come true. Seriously, his beef noodles are exactly my fantasy of how they should actually taste! All those "famous" places in Taiwan no matter how good, were always just short of wow. This version blows everything out of the water.

Perhaps with this new beginning, back in his homeland, Andre is finally completing his circle.

“What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.”
T. S. Elliot

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