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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Hair Services at Salon Vim @ Somerset 313

313 Orchard Road #04-07 / 08 / 09 Somerset 313, Singapore 238895
Tel: 6884 7757 / 6884 7767

I used to do my hair at the usual suspects - Kimage, Jantzen and more often than not, Reds Salons. Then I started hearing about friends and ex-colleagues talking about Salon Vim, and decided to give them a try.

It was time to do something about my long tresses. My hair grows really fast - let's see, at the beginning of the year I could cut it to chin-length, but by the end of the year my hair would be nearly to the waist! Not sure if it is a good or bad thing...

I booked an appointment for haircut with the director - they assigned Ms Jamie Seah to me. For director's hair cut for my hair - near waist length to the shoulder was about SGD$70.00. While Jamie is not the most friendly or chatty stylist around, she did her work with professionalism and quick efficiency, with rather good recommendations when I asked for opinions.

I believe the lady assisting her and doing my rebonding was Sue. Anyway, yes, I had the hair chopped to shoulder length, and the got it rebonded / straightened. "No soft rebonding" was my instructions - because soft rebonding was of no effect to my naturally straight hair. I wanted the good, old-fashioned rebonding - the straight, smooth kind that one could just wake up with and get out of the house in.

The usual beverages and crackers were offered, and I sat there browsing some issues of Cleo, Women's Weekly and Cosmopolitan magazines.  About three hours later, after a few washes and all, I could finally step out of the salon with my new shortened, straightened and sleek hair. I appreciated that they did not do any hard selling of more services or products. The rebonding cost SGD$250.00 for my hair length.

If you have a friend who is a member, you are entitled to 15% referral discount for first time visit. You can also join their membership with a deposit of SGD$50.00, which entitles you to 15% discount for all subsequent hair visits.  Overall, I rather enjoyed my experience at Salon Vim's.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Lunch at Rokeby Bistro Cafe

15-9 Jalan Riang, Singapore 358987
Tel: 9106 0437
Website: http://www.rokeby.com.sg

It was time for lunch with *Sidney again, and we discovered this neat Australian bistro cafe named Rokeby by chance (the one we'd initially came for was not opened yet).

So we succumbed to the warm hospitality and serene ambience of this laid-back cafe set in an austerely pretty area near Serangoon. The dim and polished interior made it perfect as a cafe by daya and bar by night. Everything looked good on the menu so we didn't know what to order for a while.

I started with a Soy Mocha (SGD$6.70) - the coffee was nutty, with hints of creaminess. The soy milk in this case didn't rise above the flavor of the chocolately coffee to bring out a fragrance of its own, like the soy mocha I had at Black Coffee , Loysels Toys Cafe and Forty Hands Cafe. It tasted more like a good cup of strong-flavored Mocha with a slight dash of milk - the bear art on my beverage was very adorable though.

*Sidney had his usual Skinny Latte (SGD$5.50)- a rich blend of milk, coffee and froth.

For mains, I ordered the Braised Ox Cheek Stew (SGD$20.90), being in the mood for beef cheeks, just nice. The beef cheek was stewed to a soft tenderness, retaining its bouncy texture against the rich juicy broth it was cast in. As it quivered in my mouth, I savoured the delicacy with satisfaction, and even pouring spoonfuls of the sauce over my otherwise-bland mashed potato.

*Sidney happened to choose another item that I was debating between - the Rokeby Chilli Mussels (SGD19.90) - it was awesome that they had different levels of spiciness for us to choose from, so we chose the mild (being a weekday and we had to continue working, so couldn't risk stomach upsets). The musels were pliable in its chewyness, the natural sweetness of mussels succint amongst the spicy coat of the broth. It was definitely a good choice - with or without the crispy toast slices it was served with.

We were glad we discovered this lovely place with its interesting menu.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Review: DHC Acerola Gel

This product caught my eye because a tiny tube of 40g gel claimed to contain 1700mg of Vitamin C, and it it sounded like a delicious treat for the skin. Hence I bought it without hesitation, and have been using it for two years now.

DHC's Acerola Gel is a refreshing, fragrance-free, colorless gel that when applied onto the skin, gives a soothing coolness, and gets absorbed into the skin very easily. As gel goes, it is not greasy at all, so suitable for combination or oily skin types to use. The skin stays rejuvenated throughout the day, and uplifted as well. It gives improvement to the apperance of skin, as well as moisturizes it so it looks radiant and supple even with makeup piled on.

Not to forget - one keeps thinking about the richness of natural Vitamin C nourishing the skin, so it puts one in a happy mood to know that the skin is in good hands too.

But I don't know - I realize that if I don't apply any makeup at all, the gel tends to make my face appear shiny (does not feel oily to the touch, but there is a sheen to the skin). So I usually this as part of skincare regime before bed or before makeup.

The tube form makes for hygienic and easy application, as well as compact enough to bring out. I also use the Vitamin-rich gel for other areas of my body, such as arms or legs at times. One tube of 40g gel costs SGD$53.00 and is easily available in most pharmacies.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Chillout at Wheelers' Yard Cafe (revisit)

28 Lorong Ampas, Singapore 328781
Tel: 6254 9128

Having been to Wheelers' Yard for brunch, tonight I decide to bring the Beau here for drinks. It was a pity we were still full from dinner - if not, I really enjoyed their desserts. Read about my previous brunch visit here.

Anyway, we decided to sit outdoors. I noticed there has been a revamp since my last visit about a month ago - the tables were replaced by some couches, vintage furniture and strange fixtures.

Nonetheless, we picked a seat and got comfortable. Since we were not eating, the lack of tables did not really faze us. Good music and friendly service were still unchanged, mercifully.

I had a glass of Merlot (SGD$10.00) - the price was really cheap, and there was no service charge. This was Queen's Bay from Chile.

So I had another glass of Merlot (SGD$14.00) - and this one went down the throat easier. This was Wild Rock from New Zealand.

The Beau had an Iced Mocha (SGD$7.00), since he was driving. I took a couple of sips - even though there was no visible chocolate / hot fudge sauce in the drink itself, the chocolate flavor was distinctive and the drink was lovely.

The bicycles and scooters on display are not just for display - patrons can ride around the vicinity in them (or purchase, I believe?).

Overall, it was a fun-loving and relaxing place for hanging out at or simply kicking one's heels back. It was a weekend, and there were a lot of young people as well as families and businessmen types all having fun here laughing, drinking and eating; it was a casual but happy environment . I will definitely be back to try more of their desserts.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Dinner at Founder Bak Kut Teh @ New Orchid Hotel, Balestier (发起人肉骨茶餐馆)

347 Balestier Road #01-347 New Orchid Hotel, Singapore 329777
Tel: 6352 6192

I seldom write about bak kut teh, a seemingly common everyday, homely dish.  And I have been to Founder Bak Kut Teh Restaurant so many times! But anyway, since it is one of my favorite bak kut teh restaurants - after the closure of Leong Kee (Klang) Bak Kut Teh at Beach Road, I decided to write about this as a recommendation.

If you wonder why there is a long line at the steps of this restaurant daily and nightly, and if you wonder why so many photographs of celebrities grace the wall of this simple little eatery, well then I suggest you give it a try.

Anyway, the Beau and I waited for about ten minutes, got a table inside, and placed our orders. The drinks of Aloe Vera drink (SGD$1.80) and Fresh Lime Juice (SGD$1.80) came first. The first was rather bland but the latter was refreshing and sour enough to tantalize.

Our Lettuce with Oyster Sauce (SGD$5.00) came first - a fresh dish of greens that acted as a balance for our meaty dish. I always will prefer my lettuce eaten raw in other circumstances.

Then my Braised Egg (SGD$1.00) was served - one of the flavorful must-haves for me in most meals where I could find them. This one did not dispapoint - in flavor but not presentation.

The Doughstick (you tiao) were served next - something that people love eating with Bak Kut Teh soup but I can never understand why. I prefer this with hot black coffee, plain white porridge or thick soy milk.

The Beau took the Founder Bak Kut Teh (SGD$8.00) that came with a bowl of white rice. The meat was tender enough, and the soup was piping hot and very tasteful with strong peppery overhaul - perfect for a rainy evening like the one we were enjoying.

I selected the Pig's Intestine's Soup (SGD$6.50) with no rice. Rest assured that it would also be served with the same delicious and distinctive white pepper stock soup - I rejected the first bowl because it was bloody literally (see the hints of red?)

They served me another bowl after a while, and I accepted this. The innards were all right - some chewy, some tender, some springy in texture, but all were good.

I had also eaten Bak Kut Teh here paired with vermicelli (SGD$2.00) or Salted Vegetables (SGD$3.00) or braised peanuts (SGD$3.00) - the usual ingredients that people eat bak kut teh with. Alternatively, give their Pig's Trotter (SGD$8.00) a try as well - tasty, tender  and sinfully good for a once-in-a-blue-moon indulgence.

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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Lunch at Laffio Cafe @ Bugis

337 Beach Road, Singapore 199565
Tel: 6635 6668
Website: https://www.facebook.com/laffio.sg

It was time for lunch and the colleagues wanted somewhere comfortable and not crowded, so we stumbled upon Laffio Cafe - Laff It Out - the set lunch promotion seemed enticing. The hipster cafe had its touches of elegance with the rock brick walls and silken drapes, so we grabbed two tables and began to order.

Four of them had the Set Lunch (SGD$12.99) that comprises of a Soup of the Day, Main Course and Dessert. The soup du jour was Cream of Mushroom, served in a large clay pot. It was an interesting crockery of choice, but the amount of soup looked almost piteous in this large pot. It was thick and rich with the aroma of shiitake mushrooms, but after a couple of spoonfuls it was almost unbearably salty. We thought that they should reduce the salt, add more water to the soup or provide some bread to neutralise the soup.

Their Fish & Chips came first - served on a metal board with the texture of a skillet. The criss-cross fries were great - crispy and tasty, just the way these waffle fries are supposed to be. The dainty pieces of fish was crispy on the outside as well, with crumbly flesh on the inside. The colleagues' comments were "so-so" and too small portioned.

I had the English Muffins with Shaved Ham (SGD$14.00) - toasted with homemade butter, 64 degrees eggs, Hollandaise and mesclun. I had ordered the one with Smoked Salmon in lieu of Shaved Ham, but they ordered the wrong thing. So I accepted it. The muffins were rather hard and tasted like the usual toast instead of English muffins (I've had softer English muffins at other restaurants / cafes). Other than that, the poached eggs and soft ham were pretty all right, with plenty of black pepper.

Dessert was Brownie with Ice-cream - the chocolatey, nutty piece of crunchy pasrty topped with vanilla ice cream was so far the one item all five of us had praises for. I loved the pairing of berries too, to add a dash of flavor to the sweet serenade.

Oh, my English Muffin was not a set meal, but the brownie was offered to me as a gesture of apology for taking the wrong order (serving me ham when I'd wanted salmon). Service here is good and hospitable, but the serving ware and portion could be improved on, in my humble opinion.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Madame Butterfly

Sun, the sun was overhead and burning hot,
The barriers were all melting under the heat;
Fast lanes, heart racing as the adrenalin rushed
To the point where hearts interwined.
Where mistakes, melancholy and misgivings
Are all cast aside, under the same glowing sun.

The garden was radiant, with bright flowers,
Wishing wells made up of four-leaved clovers;
Dreams high as towers permeated through dreams,
Infiltrating the most intimate of slumber's seams;
Never waking from the moment
The eyes first laid upon the creation so perfect.

I felt alive, more alive than I ever thought possible,
Perfunctory of thoughts that danced, like shadows,
Inflitrating my thoughts even in broad daylight,
Are so fleeting, fantasia, fantastic in their falseries;
And my love for you is pilgrimaged,
Marked by worlds we can never cross over.

Photosource: http://www.thesupercars.org/others/2009-bertone-mantide/

Yet I want to make love to you, to take you with me,
Into the lures of flesh, and souls, and minds,
Where the echoes of our moans cause
Angels to frown in utmost jealous envies;
Where the touches alone burn,
Like wax melting off candle's smooth skins.

But alas, we are from worlds so different,
Like the stars falling in love with Belladonnas,
Professing their feelings across acresof skies,
So vast, differences so wide, spaces so stark;
One rooted to the grounds, one to the skies,
And my wings are clipped like them, like butterflies.

And you slowly leave me, I watch your back receding,
I hear the roar over the throbbing of my wants;
I see your shadow diminishing in their sheerness,
And my tears appeared enlarged in your headlights,
Even as you slowly purr your way out of my home,
Racing your way out of my very humane touch...

copyright © ArcticStar 2014. All Rights Reserved

p.s.  you didn't get it wrong if you read that the author is writing about an inanimate object. In the U.S. there have been several cases of people falling in love (and even marrying) elevators, Ferris Wheels etc. In fact, dating back to the times of Greek mythologies, Pygmalion the sculptor was already falling in love with a statue..... *wink*

Thursday, 16 October 2014

[Media Invite] Dinner at 2The Pot Restaurant @ Joo Chiat

333 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427588
Tel: 6342 1007

It was my pleasure to receive an invite for food tasting by OpenRice at 2The Pot. I attended the event with representatives from OpenRice and five other reviewers / bloggers.

2The Pot is a new restaurant alongside Joo Chiat shophouses, encompassing an interesting combination of Thai Mookata and Chicken Hotpot under one roof. We thought it was a thoughtful concept - steamboat lovers can now have the best of both worlds in one setting.

The restaurant has two stories for dining - we went up the stairs (lovely photos of food on the wall along the ascend) and dined on level 2.

As one could see, 2The Pot adopts a very clean cut and neat style - black regular tables in two rows across the room across smooth polished wood floors and sleek white walls - no fuss, no muss, just a comfortable and soothing setting for diners to enjoy a good pot of soup for dinner.

They operate from dinnertime till midnight (12.00am) by the way.

We were given a tasting menu and it looked interesting, covering everything that this restaurant specialises in.

Drinks were served the moment we stepped in and introduced ourselves to each other. I chose the Thai Iced Milk Tea - light and refreshing, and not too sweet, just the perfect thirst quencher.

Just when we thought we'd grasped the Thai-Chinese fusion concept well, we were surprised once again by the delightful appetiser of Papadum (an Indian snack!). A couple of us thought that the Papadum here was a little on the salty side, but nonetheless, awesome when paired with the special homemade chilli served together.

The Thai Fishcakes were good - tasty fish-flour paste fried till a crispy golden brown on the exterior with a taut but still springy interior, rich in flavor.

We set the pots to boil now. All in all we had 5 pots for the 7 of us, sounds intimidating huh?  It was exciting though, whilst we waited to try the different flavored soup base and all. We had the Spicy Hotpot, Laksa Hotpot and Assam Hotpot as well as Tomyam Mookata and Chicken Soup Mookata - all to be described in greater detail hereinbelow.

First we started with the Spicy Chicken Hotpot. There were a lot of ingredients such as red chilli, green peppers, onions, chicken etc all tossed into a big pot of spicy (mala) soup base.  We waited for it to boil while constantly stirring it, and then had a small bowl each to start.

The soup was very thick, even a little on the sticky side, but it did not give the piercing numbing spiciness that one usually associates with mala soup. We did not know if that was the usual standard, or whether the restaurant played down on the level of spiciness to try to suit us. The chicken was tender enough, but we felt that the soup could do with a little less stickiness and a little more spiciness.

Next, we worked on the Laksa Chicken Pot. The ingredients looked good - the perfect ingredients for a good pot of authentic laksa seemingly- with the taupoks (dried beancurd), fishcake slices etc.

When it simmered, we took a small bowl each to try. The laksa gravy was good - thick without being too gooey, and the level of spiciness was just nice. The rich and distinctive flavor of laksa (spicy, with the sweet twist of coconut) was well noted; and the chicken was tender.  This was one of our best / favorite choices at the end of the night.

The last pot was Assam Chicken Pot. As far as assam goes, this pot lacked the sharp sour sting of assam (usually a spicy and sour gravy), but instead was very redolent in a sweet flavor I deduced to be coconut, perhaps?

For the Laksa Chicken Pot and Assam Chicken Pot, we had Fried Mini Buns served with them. The buns were lovely - crispy skin and fluffy sweet interior. They were a great accompaniment to the spicy soup bases in place of rice.

Now we come to the Mookata (note that this was not the sequence in which we had dined, of course). They had these lovely little golden Mookata pots - actually as compared to the Mookata or BBQ steamboat at other restaurants, the soup pot here were a little narrow, to the extent that even using a tablespoon to scoop the ingredients at time was a little challenging.

Nonetheless, let's begin with journey of Mookata dining.

We had Tom Yum Soup base and a Clear Chicken Soup base.  The soup base was poured from plastic water jugs into our pots and then we waited for them to boil.

Finally the tantalizing soup reached boiling point and we reached for the ingredients excitedly.

Our Mookata set comprised of this huge basketful of leafy greens, golden mushrooms, sweet corn, vermicelli and eggs.

For the meat, we had a very generous serving of prawns, squids, beef, chicken, pork, otah, fishballs, meatballs, crabstick, sausages and a packet of pork lard.

We kickstarted by greasing the pork lard over the BBQ dome of the Mookata pot, the usual practice it seems.

Then we began tossing items into the soup area of the Mookata pot to cook, distributing an equal split of vegetables and meatballs between the two different pots.

Now we spread the meat thin across the BBQ dome and continued flipping them till they were grilled to a slight crisp.

We cracked the eggs over the steaming pots of soup. Actually we cracked one of the eggs directly over the pot. For the other egg, one of the guys stirred it till a yellow pulp before we poured it over the sizzling pot - he mentioned it was the correct way they ate Mookata in Thailand.

Another bout of surprise came with these Marinated Beef and Korean Spice Pork Belly - yet another cuisine added to the family. Nonetheless, these were their specialities as well so we were honored to have a taste of it.

The Marinated Beef did not have much impact on flavor for me, though the beef was succulent.

The Korean Spicy Pork Belly was quite tasty - thin, crunchy slices of pork marinated with kimchi-tasting sauce. I enjoyed the chewy texture and slight tinge of hotness - I could see why this was a favorite here.

While enjoying a hearty feast at 2The Pot, one of the partners here, Shawn, (who also prepared our meal himself!) introduced the idea behind this interesting restaurant concept to us and mingled with us for some sharing and photo-taking.

Overall, the meal was rather enjoyable - bursts of flavors filling the palate, generous variety of fresh ingredients and very warm hospitality. However, I feel that the soup here tend to be very salty (concurred by some of the others) in taste. Also, while encumbering two cuisines under one roof may be a great idea, it might be nice to keep to just that instead of infusing in a little bit of Indian and Korean etc as well, if not it might confuse the diners overall. Just my two cents worth.

Anyway, was glad for the chance to meet other reviewers and bloggers - thank you 2The Pot and OpenRice for this sumptuous meetup!