Monday, September 29, 2014

Dell Inspiron 20 3000 All-In-One (AIO) Review: A Consumer's First Look

I used to be such a PC geek. I loved tinkering under the hood, upgrading the parts, adding more hard disk space, RAM or swapping out a better graphics card to satisfy the demands of a new game (gosh, I loved losing myself in games). But the bulky desktop tower was truly an eyesore, and the cables were a clutter monster.

When I got my iMac in early 2009, I just loved how everything was neatly incorporated within the display. I missed the ability to upgrade stuff (and the variety of games, arrgggh), but god, the iMac is a thing of beauty. Then recently Dell lent me their latest Inspiron 20 3000 Series All-in-One desktops. It's also an elegant, space-saving design, as the All-In-One name suggests. The thing it has over the iMac - it's a touchscreen! Well, some models are.

The fairly large 19.5" HD+ display makes it easy to toggle between multiple windows, show off vacation photos or provide an impromptu showing of a favorite movie. Games, videos and photo editing all get a boost with up to 1GB integrated graphics. Multi-tasking is a cinch - doing some invoicing spreadsheet while keeping an eye on social media, listening to music and uploading a movie at the same time.

You can choose from these processor configurations, and touchscreen options:
* Intel® Celeron® Processor (Dual Core) at S$499
* Intel(R) Pentium(R) Quad Core Processor N3530 at S$699
* Intel(R) Pentium(R) Quad Core Processor N3530 (Touchscreen model) at S$799

You get Windows 8.1 installed, and you can upgrade the trial Microsoft Office to a full license if you need it. A 500GB hard drive comes standard, along with 4GB 1600MHz DDR3L Memory. Sound comes alive with the technical GRAMMY® Award-winning Waves MaxxAudio® technology. The device is also very portable and easy to set up.

You do need to plug in to a power source, so it isn't quite like a giant tablet or iPad despite the touchscreen convenience. Mouse and keyboard are included as secondary input devices (you can also go wireless for even fewer cables).

There are lots of ports for easy connections: Connect your phone, printer, scanner or other devices with two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, plus an HDMI Out port.

In general, it worked well straight out of the box. I can't pry it away from the kids, who absolutely love the touchscreen feature. But at least they are also happy to do their homework on it, which frees up my computer for my own work.

Last photo courtesy of Dell. Thanks to Dell Singapore for the Inspiron AIO experience.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ki-Sho Japanese Restaurant - Delightful Seasonal Omakase from Chef Kazuhiro Hamamoto

The most decadent uni rice EVER!

In more than seven years of photographing and tasting food, I do get jaded but once in a while, you come across something that utterly wows you and restores your enthusiasm for culinary excellence.

Ki-Sho at 29 Scotts Road is one of those places.

Seasonal Sashimi

Gorgeous food, fabulous seasonal ingredients and an amazing interpretation of omakase.

Chef Kazuhiro Hamamoto at Ki-Sho

The extremely affable Kazuhiro Hamamoto helms this fine-dining restaurant as Chef de Cuisine. He has worked at some of the most celebrated dining outlets in Kyoto and Singapore, most notably Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands.

The food at Ki-Sho is a strong reflection of his personality but he tries to keep to Kyoto traditions.

Chef speaks pretty good English (he's been here since 2010), and he explained many of the ingredients to us.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chef Andre Chiang Opening RAW in Taiwan in Nov

It's wonderful to hear that Andre Chiang is opening his second overseas outlet - RAW in Taipei. This sees the talented chef returning full circle to his native roots, bringing a new interpretation of Taiwanese flavour and produce. Andre is intimately familiar with Taiwan's traditions, foods and seasons and he will use his global perspective to introduce these to the world stage.

In partnership with the Hasmore Group, RAW will feature a bistronomy approach - a total lifestyle experience through culinary artistry, decor and culture. It's a new casual fine dining philosophy. Quality cuisine with a stylish but relaxed ambience. I agree that's the way to go - most of us want good food but not the stuffy environment of fine-dining.

Photo courtesy of RAW

RAW will open on 19 November 2014. The grand opening will be highlighted by "The Celebration of Taiwanese flavour", comprising "A 3-day only Exclusive Menu" with Restaurant ANDRE from 20-22 Nov, and "A Symposium of Taiwanese Flavour" featuring cultural innovators in art, design, music and fashion.

The restaurant, located on the 1st floor of the new Hasmore Building in Dazhi will seat 56 and serve cutting edge lunch and dinner set menus in a modern atmosphere. Reservations now available via the official website ( or phone at 02-8501-5800. The address is No. 301, Le Qun Third Road, Taipei City, Taiwan.

Photo courtesy of RAW

I am a huge fan of Andre's culinary mastery. I can't wait to see what he will whip up over there in Taiwan, with the abundance of produce right at home!

Friday, September 12, 2014

St Regis Shares Mid-Autumn Festival Joy of Reunion, Giving to UNICEF Check Out for Children and NTUC Eldercare

Photo courtesy of St Regis Singapore

How were your mid-autumn celebrations this year? Hope everybody had fun!

We got to make mooncakes at the St Regis Singapore, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The St. Regis Singapore invited business partners and their families for A Cherished Mid-Autumn Fete, A Family Traditions at St. Regis Festivity. It was a family-oriented mooncake-making charity event on 30th August 2014.

With the aim of giving back to society during the Mid-Autumn Festival, The St. Regis Singapore made contributions to international aid organisation, UNICEF, Check Out for Children (COFC), a Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ adopted charity, as well as to more than 250 elderly at local beneficiary NTUC Eldercare Co-op Limited.

They raised a total of S$3,800 for COFC from the event, which was sponsored by business partners. Their families participated together with associates of the St Regis Singapore.

The Mid-Autumn Fete is one of the many projects that the St Regis Singapore has established to add to the Starwood Group's global efforts to benefit more than 9.3 million children in over 190 countries that are part of the COFC.

More than 500 pieces of mooncakes and other charitable gifts were donated to more than 250 elderly at one of the NTUC Eldercare Senior Activity Centres. The associates also joined the seniors for entertaining activities and games.

By the way, families that stay at the St Regis can enjoy welcome amenities and turndown rituals designed to showcase the uniqueness of Singapore: delectable treats, strollers, baby wipes, diapers, cribs and rollaway beds on request. It's part of the Family Traditions programme.

Guests below 13 receive a welcome gift bag that includes gifts like coloring books, board games, story books, caps at time of check-in.

Next time you feel like giving the family a big treat, consider the St Regis Suite (S$780++) or Caroline Astor Suite (S$930++) and get these inclusions:
+ St Regis Suite or Caroline Astor Suite
+ Welcome children's bag
+A treasured family experience (a picnic lunch and nature tour to Singapore Botanic Gardens: kids will love the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden with Tree House and Waterplay Area)
+ Legendary St Regis Butler service
+ Epicurean breakfast at Brasserie Les Saveurs
+ S$80 worth of F&B credit
+ Complimentary access to the wet lounge at Remede Spa and 24-hour fitness centre
+ Late check-out at 4pm
+ Wi-fi access

Here are some of the event photos of me and my girls. We had such fun making snowskin mooncakes for the first time. Somehow we managed to eke out 31 mooncakes! Obviously only fit for self-consumption, and not gifting!

Many thanks to Jackson Sim of St Regis Singapore for the invitation

First photo courtesy of St Regis Singapore

Other photos taken with the Canon 5D MkIII kindly loaned by Canon Singapore 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Spain's Quique Dacosta at Sofitel So Singapore for One Night Only!

Spain's hottest culinary genius Quique Dacosta will grace the Sofitel So Singapore for a one-night dinner on Thursday, 18 Sept 2014. His eponymous restaurant is three-Michelin starred and has been on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list for three years.

You won't need to fly to Valencia to try his "techno-emotional" cuisine. Dacosta has incredible flair for creating edible landscapes that evoke the aroma and texture of the environment. The specially designed five-course menu (S$538++) will be paired with fine wines from Spain's Castell d'Encus winery. There are only 100 seats for this dinner at Xperience. 

The dishes include:

The Haze – a dish that recreates the taste of humidity and warm of the earth after a storm – featuring pine nuts, raw peas, pig crackling crumble with mushrooms, black truffle and small flowers – paired with a Taleia 2012

Cuba Libre of Foie Gras – a Dacosta signature of melt-in-your-mouth foie gras with cream, veiled with coca-cola and rum and granita of lemon with brioche on the side – paired with Ekam 2012

The Hen of the Golden Eggs – a poached egg cooked at low temperature with a broth of chicken and vegetables, coffee and gold – served with Ascup 2011

Ashes Rice – soft senia rice with smoked black truffle, braised pigeon, chanterelle mushrooms, inspired by the rice of Valencia after harvesting and burning – paired with Quest 2011

Chocolate Sand – a signature delight of textures and tastes of chocolate – paired with Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Blanc 2006

Feted amongst legendary chefs including Ferran Adria and the Roca brothers, Da Costa is part-chef, part-botanist and designs dishes that are masterfully minimalistic while embracing bold flavours. He often focuses on two or three key ingredients, allowing for clarity of flavour to shine through. 

Dacosta spends months researching and perfecting his menus and is renowned for presenting plates that are avant-garde and artistic. 

It sounds like a phenomenal dinner! Tickets are selling fast. Call +65 6701-6800 to reserve your place.

Top photo courtesy of Sofitel So Singapore

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

See Egypt's Great Pyramids of Giza on Google Street View!

Wow, I have always wanted to see Egypt and its wonders. The Pyramids of Giza have stood for 5,000 years, a testament to the ingenuity of the people who built them.

Now I can see them without a plane ticket or pissing off some ISIL terrorist on the way!

Google Street View is now bringing us captivating images of the Great Pyramids of Giza, necropolis of Saqqara, the Citadel of Qaitbay, the Cairo Citadel, the Hanging Church and the ancient city of Abu Mena. Starting today, wherever you are, you can experience these ancient monuments!

This is from their press release, with direct links to the images:

"The Giza Necropolis is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, and is home to the last standing wonder of the ancient world: the Great Pyramid. Built as a tomb and a symbol of eternity for the Pharoah Khufu, it stands 139 meters high (the height of the world’s highest roller coaster!) and was the tallest man-made structure on Earth for 3,800 years. Beyond it to the west, and you’ll see the pyramids of Khafre and Menkaure, built by Khufu's son and grandson.

Now turn east to the Great Sphinx, the oldest and largest known monumental sculpture in the world. With the body of a lion and the head of a human, it measures a grand 73 meters long and 20 meters high. Literally translating to “Father of Dread,” this mythical creature is believed to resemble Pharaoh Khafre, who was the ruler at the time of construction.

In addition to the Giza Necropolis, you can explore The Pyramid of Djoser, the ancient site of the world’s very first Pyramid designed by the great Egyptian Architect Imhotep in the ancient burial ground of Saqqara.

It’s not just the Pyramids that are available now for the first time in Google Maps. Other sites that may pique your interest on this Egyptian virtual tour include Abu Mena, one of the oldest sites of Christianity in Egypt—the church, baptistry, basilicas and monasteries, the Hanging Church, one of the oldest Coptic Churches in the world, the Cairo Citadel, a medieval Islamic fortification and historic site, and the Citadel of Qaitbay, a 15th-century defensive fortress perched atop the Mediterranean coast.

If wandering through the imagery of these historical sites has piqued your interest in Egyptology, head over to the Google Cultural Institute, where you can explore the treasures of ancient Egypt through a series of drawings, historic photographs and artifacts from the famed sites."

Some other tidbits about Google Street View

·        Street View covers more than 7.2 million unique miles across more than 59 countries and a slice of Antarctica (featuring penguins!). This includes Burj Khalifa and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque last year.

·         They have driven more than 7.2 million unique miles of road since the project began in 2007.

·         Street View began in 2007 in 5 U.S. cities with 5 megapixel cameras. Now Street View is on every continent and uses 75 megapixel cameras.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

PAUL's set lunch and dinner deals

PAUL at Tanglin Mall also has a cosy tea salon
I must get out more often. I had not known that PAUL had opened in Tanglin Mall and Westgate. I had only been to the flagship outlet at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, and seen the one at Ocean Financial Centre.

We visited the Tanglin Mall outlet, and it's got a lovely section at the back fashioned like a library with plush red seating. Cosy place for tea with friends or an afternoon alone with coffee and favourite book.

PAUL at Tanglin Mall
There is also a restaurant section upfront decorated in a more masculine grey.

Affordable weekday lunch and dinner sets
But we were here to try the affordable S$13.90 lunch and S$18.90 dinner sets. You get a main course and complimentary coffee, tea or iced tea. Dinner gets you an extra course of soup (clear veggie, French onion, carrot or potato leek soup). These are available exclusively at the Tanglin Mall and Westgate outlets on weekdays except public holidays.

Lunch: Cuisse de Poulet Rotie
For lunch, the options include a hearty Cuisse de Poulet Rotie (roasted chicken leg served with salad and roast potato). It's fairly tender and moist, not overcooked.

Lunch: Salad Nicoise
Those who prefer a light salad for lunch can go for the Salad Nicoise (tuna salad with olives and eggs). The ingredients may seem simple but are quite refreshing, and the dressing is very light. Probably the most low-carb option.

Lunch/Dinner: Roulade de Daurade
The Roulade de Daurade is available for both lunch and dinner, and I can see why. Paprika-spiked Pacific Dory is pan-fried and rolled up, doused with a creamy tomato sauce. It's just a tad salty for my liking, but some may prefer it that way. My photo doesn't quite show it, but it is a really hefty chunk of fish.

Dinner: Saute de Poulet aux Champignons
Also for dinner: Saute de Poulet aux Champignons (roasted chicken chunks in a creamy sauteed mushroom sauce, served with generous slices of PAUL's country bread. It's quite rich but not too salty. I can imagine this going well with pasta too. The bread seems a bit too dry and cold by the time I finished taking pictures.

Dinner: Traditional Beef Stew in brown sauce
Dinner: Traditional Beef Stew in brown sauce comes in a huge portion, but it was the most bland of the main courses. Well, we tend to cook very savoury stews at home, so maybe we're not used to this. It might be good for kids or elderly who want something not too strong-flavoured. Nadine loved the bread somehow.

Coffee, tea or iced lemon tea to go with the lunch or dinner sets
Coffee, tea or iced lemon tea comes free with your set meal. That alone is worth about S$4-5.

The food in general is fairly decent, and the portions filling enough. At this price, nobody is expecting Joel Robuchon standards, but it's a nice option for a sit-down dinner in a cosy place.

The patisserie is probably the highlight at PAUL
But the main highlight at PAUL is probably the patisserie. Oh the delightful spread of tempting pastries, eclairs and tarts. The baskets of croissants too...mmmh.

Millefeuille Mango
We ponied up for a Millefeuille Mango (strawberry one sold out) and were not disappointed. The mango cream is decadent and yet light on the palate. It's set off by tangy slices of mango and crispy pastry.


#01-16/17 Tanglin Mall
163 Tanglin Road
Singapore 247933
Tel: +65 6736-3257

#01-05 Westgate
3 Gateway Drive
Singapore 065832
Tel: +65 6369-9080

Photos taken with the Canon 5D MkIII kindly loaned by Canon Singapore

Saturday, September 6, 2014

LEGOLAND Malaysia Launches Star Wars Miniland!

The Battle of Hoth saw the Imperial army eventually destroying the Rebel Alliance's power generators

LEGOLAND Malaysia today opened a brand new section - the Star Wars Miniland! Featuring seven beloved scenes from the Star Wars franchise, this RM6 million attraction is the first of its kind in Asia. It's got over 2,000 LEGO models for you to gawk at, from tiny Yoda to the largest LEGO model of the Millennium Falcon ever built.

With Master Jedi Azfaren Aznam, Entertainment Coordinator at LEGOLAND Malaysia

OK, it's official, I want to be a LEGO builder. I love spending insane hours fiddling with the tiny pieces. And to build Star Wars stuff? I'll never sleep!

Here I am with "Master Jedi" Azfaren Aznam, Entertainment Coordinator at LEGOLAND Malaysia. Gosh, they have such fun jobs!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

5 Best Cheap Noodle Lunches in Singapore with Coke

It's harder and harder to get a satisfying meal in Singapore at a song. Even casual cafes and bistros will ring up a tab of double digits, especially with a drink thrown in. That leaves us pretty much with hawker food, but a lot of which is deteriorating in quality and taste. Even though it's cheap, it doesn't feel like money's worth.

So here are my picks for the best tasty lunches at S$5 or less, including a drink (like calorie-free choices Coke light or Coke zero at about S$1.20 a can). Noodles are a great one-dish option, and there are so many varieties to pick from.

Fishball Story
Fishballs served with heart and soul. These are handmade daily, from 100% pure fresh yellow tail fish. Young hawker entrepreneur Douglas Ng uses his grandmother's recipe and the fishballs are gorgeously sweet, soft and bouncy - the way they really need to taste like. He also handmakes the chili-scallion fishcakes, the sambal, and the fried pork lard. The noodles are done just right - dry with a nice bite. A S$3.50 bowl of this hearty meepok will have you smiling all day.

#01-85 Golden Mile Hawker Centre
505 Beach Road
Singapore 199583
Open daily 10.30am-5pm

For the past 10 years, these Pork Rib Noodles were selling at an unbelievable S$2 at the Frontier (Science canteen) Noodles Stall. The thin QQ (bouncy with bite) noodles are topped generously with five chunky pieces of deliciously braised pork. All of this drenched in a lovely garlicky soy and sesame oil dressing. You could also have this with kway teow or bee tai mak. Prices have just recently increased by 30-50 cents but it's still the best S$2+ you will fork out.

Noodles Stall
Frontier (Science Faculty Canteen)
National University of Singapore
Open Mon-Fri 7.30am to 4pm*
Sat 7.30am to 3pm
*Some stalls are rostered to operate til 8pm during term time

Fabulous Mee Goreng

When you go for a heavy fried noodle, make sure the calories are worth it! Ajimer Sharif serves up a nice version with morsels of smoky mutton, crunchy beansprouts and cabbage, tegg, fresh green chili, peas and potato cubes. The yellow noodles have soaked up flavour and smoky aromas, but remain firm. A mere S$3.50 gets you a very large plate. But it's so tasty, you won't want to share it.

#01-251 Tekka Market Food Centre
665 Buffalo Road
Singapore 210665
Open 10am to 9pm daily

4. XIAO DI FRIED PRAWN NOODLE (photo is shared tasting portion, not full)

Another noteworthy young hawker Terence Chee, 24, has earned recognition for making a seriously good Hokkien fried prawn noodle. It is sumptuously gooey with rich stock gravy, topped with slices of cuttlefish, fresh prawns from Thailand, crispy pork lard, and roast pork. Terence who already has more than 8 years cooking experience, learnt his trade from masters who were willing to teach. And he is extremely particular about his stock. One mouthful and you can tell. A worthy treat from S$3.50 onwards.

Block 153, Serangoon North Avenue 1,
Guan Hock Tiong Eating House
Singapore 550153
Open 11am to 8pm daily (closed Mondays)

Mixed beef noodles soup

This comes from the historic Odeon beef noodle stall (Hwa Heng Hainanese Beef Noodles) that was opposite the old Odeon theatre at North Bridge Road in the 1970s. The stall is run by the younger of the two brothers who own the business. The stock is brewed for 5-6 hours with 10 herbs, so it comes out beautifully herbal, robust and fortifying. The dry version comes with a smooth dark gravy. You must try the chili sauce with cincalok for an unusual seafood dash to the flavours. Prices start from S$3.50.

Bendemeer Market Food Centre,
Block 29 Bendemeer Road, #01-01,
Singapore 330029.
Open Wed to Fri: 10.30am - 5.30pm
Sat and Sun: 10.30am - 2.30pm
Closed on Mon and Tues

This article is brought to you in partnership with Coca-Cola®
Check out @cokesg on Twitter to find out more about #cokewithfood
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