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California dreamin’ (Part 2) – Disneyland!

In all honesty, the main point of this trip was to go to Disneyland to celebrate my birthday – it’s been a while since I’ve visited the Anaheim one (the last time I went was 11 years ago) and I thought the original Disneyland would be a good first Disneyland for Tdy, who has never been. YES, I HAVE MADE IT MY LIFE’S MISSION TO ENSURE TDY LOVES DISNEY AS MUCH AS I DO.

We decided to drive down to Anaheim the day before and to stay the night to be able to enjoy a full day at the park. We stayed at Hampton Inn which I would highly recommend! It was very reasonably priced and the room was massive, the daily breakfast, decent. Guests at the Disneyland hotels get an hour’s worth of playtime in the park before general admission ticket holders are allowed in – this obviously makes reaching the park prior to the rope drop absolutely essential, if you don’t want to be stuck in snaking queues all day long. That, and planning your Disney route strategically.

We started the day getting a fastpass at Space Mountain, then queued for Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, a simulation ride that has been updated with new Star Wars characters. I won’t spoil it, but it is a massive upgrade! While Star Tours has been a reliable favourite of mine, the new upgrade cements it as one of the best rides in the park (if you’re a Star Wars fan). Also, we noticed throughout the day that this was a 25-35 min wait. We waited for 15 minutes. This was also Tdy’s favourite ride, because well, Star Wars.

Being on holiday… I… had… soft serve at 10am in the morning. No regrets there – I only regret not ordering the dole whip float later in the day as I decided to exercise self control (Why do I even bother). Dole whip is a Disneyland classic pineapple soft serve. Even pineapple haters should give this a chance.  Nick, Tess and I had it for the first time when we visited Disney World four years ago, and we keep talking about it ever since.

Also, had to make a stop at Starbucks because ‘murica. Once we got past the insanely long queues, there’s actually quite an array of drinks to choose from. I got a peach white tea infusion which was yummy (i.e. not too sweet) and erm, instagrammable. We also got the Disneyland classic corn dog to share. It’s expensive at about US$7 per pop but it did live up to its hype. Freshly fried doughy goodness – am with the disney food blogs on this one!

Another favourite of ours this trip was also Haunted Mansion Holiday, a standalone ride in a mansion which had been revamped for Christmas. The attention to detail was incredible, and it really isn’t as scary as it sounds; it’s more amusing than anything. Absolutely loved it.

We left the Disney parks early to return to freshen up for my birthday dinner at Napa Rose.

Napa Rose serves up American cooking, omakase style. Diners are asked three questions before dining. 1) Any allergies; 2) What food does the diner dislike?; 3) How would the diner like their steak done (assuming that there is a steak course). Tdy responded with no raw food, and no fermented foods (like kimchi) for (2) and I responded with no cheese, lamb and peas for (2). And now, to sit back and see what the chef decided for us!! Behold:

Pinot noir grape juice (absolutely delicious) – this is grape juice before it’s turned into wine.

The amazing bread basket, which we had to control ourselves from consuming it all. The cheese cracker and the sun dried tomato buns were excellent.

Amuse bouche: endive spear with beetroot, goat’s cheese (for Tdy), and crushed pistachio. Tdy told me the goat’s cheese was a wonderful addition to the amuse bouche.

First course: fish soup with san marzano tomato broth, calamari and mussels for Tdy, trout with brussels sprouts for me. I slightly preferred his dish to mine but I’m generally a very broth-y person.  My fish was cooked perfectly, still pink, flaky and not dried out. This was a good start, though I did wish that there was more broth!Second Course: Cured hamachi salad with avocado for Teddy; Double tiger salad with beef and lobster fritter, sriracha for me. We were surprised that Teddy got the cured fish dish while I got the beef salad because he did say he didn’t like sashimi. That said, he really enjoyed the cured hamachi with avocado and says he would eat it again. As would I. It wasn’t very special though – it’s like a reinterpretation of ceviche. My tiger salad was very Vietnamese (I think stir fried beef in salad is always a winner – reminds me of the hot salads I had in uni), and I enjoyed it. Not a fan of the lobster fritter as it was too oily.Third course: duck breast with butternut spaetzle for Tdy, some kind of pasta with pork and mushrooms for me (Lol I was falling asleep at this point in my meal tbh)Fourth course: pork for teddy, tenderloin with huckleberry reduction for me. Unfortunately, the beef was overcooked and tough and I was, by this point, too sleepy to raise it to them. What we both really liked was the grilled persimmon though – we both had not had anything like that before.

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We both ended with a peanut butter slice. Not bad but it’s not something I would eat again. The entire meal was US$100 per person (excluding drinks, tip and tax). If you consider the amount of food you can get from this, I think it’s quite good value but the extras do add up. Would I come back? Maybe. While I think it’s nice for a special occasion / date, and there just aren’t that many “special occasion” places in Anaheim, I really can’t say when I’d be back in Aneheim. The Star Wars themed land is slated to open in Disneyland in 2019 and that sounds really exciting, but as of now, the rest of the park seemed a bit.. tired. It was definitely a far cry from the Tokyo parks (which are, by far, the best Disney parks in the world; Disney Sea being number 1 and Tokyo Disneyland being number 2). Judging by the wait times in Anaheim however, I may be one of the rare few that feel this way.

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California dreamin’ (Part 1)

Trying to get this post in before the year ends because as usual, life has gotten the better of me and I haven’t been the best at posting. About a month ago, Tdy and I went to California and did a road trip from LA to San Francisco. We were incredibly fortunate to have experienced the beautiful sites the Pacific Coast Highway offered and got to eat some pretty good grub along the way. Most importantly, we were lucky to have also missed the outbreak of the fires in Ventura, which we passed by on our way to San Francisco.

We took the SIN-ICN-LAX flight into Los Angeles International. We picked up our car at the Hertz centre off site from LAX with no huge issues – pro tip: sign up for gold membership (it’s free!) before making your booking. Makes picking up the car super seamless.

I’m going to be writing about this trip in chronological order so it’ll be easier to track the direction in which we are travelling. This first part deals with:

LA – Santa Monica – Anaheim – LA – Santa Monica

My favourite city this trip has got to be Santa Monica! Free parking for the first 1.5 hours, easy walkable distance to shops and the beach, and generally, a beautiful, quaint beach-side city. Truly could not ask for more. Prior to driving down to Anaheim, we had lunch at a really good local institution in Santa Monica – Gjelina (pronounced “Jelina“).

We shared a chorizo pizza – housemade chorizo, tomato, cream, fennel, basil and chili and a braised spigarello with crispy guanciale, confit leeks and calabrian chilli. Both were excellent. Gjelina’s vegetable menu is one of the most extensive we would see all trip and I would most definitely return to try more things. Everything on the menu sounded interesting, and unlike anything we’d get from a casual bistro here in Singapore.

My birthday was spent in Disneyland, and Teddy (with Liv, my cousin) had specially arranged for a surprise birthday dinner for me at Napa Rose – which I plan to write as a separate Disneyland entry.

The day we returned to LA from Anaheim, we stopped by Huntington Beach and Seal Beach, both of which were absolutely gorgeous – clear blue cloudless skies and lots of palm trees (see above), the only thing was was missing was a hammock and a coconut, really.

We got into LA around noon and set off to Sqirl for lunch (Tess had insisted it was extremely innovative – it was). At 1 pm on Friday, there was a line outside the door at Sqirl – no joke. We got the sorrel pesto rice with the works, and a long-cooked chicken and rice porridge as well as a persimmon scone with house-made jam to share.

I’ve never tasted anything quite like the sorrel pesto rice. It really is quite delicious and it grows on you. The add ons really made the dish pretty epic – the avocado added some creaminess and cut through the tang of the kale, the bacon made for more texturally fun eating and the egg added a lot of flavour. My favourite on the plate were the pickles, which are usually too sour for me but this was not overly crunchy or sour and helped to balance the flavours on the plate. The chicken porridge was reminiscient of a Malay-style chicken soup with rice porridge, so while it was bold on flavour, it really wasn’t very special for me because it was easily found at home in sunny Singapore. Would recommend the persimmon scone with jam though (it was also great without)! It’s the perfect end to the meal, and I loved that it was not too dry.

We visited one of the nicest outdoor malls around – the Americana at Glendale – and it was all decked out in its Christmas finest. Really could feel the festivity in the air right there, and the fact that I was on vacation truly sank in there… We headed for the Griffith Observatory and the Angel’s stairway on a La La Land tour (it’s one of Tdy’s favourite movies!) after. Watching the sunset at Griffith was pretty magical, and brings new meaning to the term paddle pop skies. Definitely don’t miss out on the Griffith – the sunset and the exhibits inside. I will definitely return to explore the Griffith again.

We then adjourned for dinner with Liv. I had booked Bestia about 2 months in advance, and when we arrived, it was completely PACKED. Bestia is located in the gentrifying arts/theatre district in DTLA (hope I got this right!) and I would recommend paying $8 for valet parking as the surroundings are a bit sketchy with very little street lighting.

Everything at Bestia was good, but not everything was great – my favourite dish that night was the roasted heirloom cauliflower with smoked paprika aioli, dill, mint and lime zest. Other than being presented so beautifully, it was an excellent veggie dish that we didn’t find anywhere else on the trip. This was reminiscent, just vaguely, of Sin Lee Foods’ roasted broccoli. We were given the tortellini di mortadella (brown butter, lentils, spinach, pistachios and fresh thyme) on the house as we had to wait a while longer for our spaghetti rustichella (dungeness crab, citrus, calabrian chili, thai basil, onion seed) and the tortellini ended up second favourite dish of the night – I’m a massive brown butter fan. But I should stop rambling, because I think the pictures show for themselves how bloody amazing the meal was.

We left LA the next day. Before we left, we ate at Huckleberry, a fave spot of my Aunt E and Liv. We got in just before 10am, and managed to snag the last seat in the house. Free parking out back as well, so don’t feed the meter!

We got the green eggs and ham, which is two fried eggs with house made pesto and lots of rocket – the house made pesto was excellent, and had no cheesy aftertaste which I absolutely abhor, and the rocket just covered the entire plate. A really neat way to eat your greens. We also got a kouign amann cup and monkey bread to share. The kouign amann cup was buttery and flaky and just had the right amount of blueberry jam. It was a real treat and was a good size. There’s a normal sized kouign amann but it would have been too much for breakfast. The monkey bread was just alright, but I liked the one I had at Stanford better.

And… it’s goodbye to LA and Santa Monica for now. I’m convinced that Santa Monica is where food dreams come true, and the next few cities on the trip would have a lot to live up to.

Next stop: Malibu!

Hong Kong: What I ate while waiting for my next meal

Taking a leaf out of YY’s book to write on the commute to work – anyway it’s been a super long time since I’ve updated, so I might as well.

Hong Kong, as always, is a great city to eat through. I’ve always liked Hong Kong for its efficiency and the food it has to offer. Japanese chains always seem to make Hong Kong one of their first outposts outside Japan, and I obviously made a beeline for them…

1) Bake Cheese Tart

This is everything I expected it to taste like – and more. Most people who have eaten with me would know that I don’t take cheese, but I really can’t get enough of these tarts!!! for cheese haters (like yours truly), this tart is more of a ‘sweet’ than ‘savoury’. It tastes like a Japanese cheesecake baked in a tart. And a pretty damn good cheesecake at that. So light and rich, yet not too rich that one tart is too much. I had it semi warm from the store, which is perfectly fine by me (and yes it is molten!) but I prefer it cold(er) rather than warm. The hype is real people, go get your hands on a cheese tart! Or pay someone to buy you one.

2) Omotesando Koffee

Tokyo’s favourite touristy coffee spot opens in Hong Kong! Situated in the middle of Wan Chai, this space is way bigger than the house they used to operate out of in Omotesando. Coffee’s still the same. Most people get the iced mocha (pictured) but I’m a hot coffee kinda person. Plus when you get a hot coffee you get to pick your beans. The coffee’s still good, strong enough to give a buzz. The kashi which was sold out in Omotesando previously when I went, was in stock this time!

The kashi is a very fancy (read: expensive) square shaped canele. Good though. Also the coffee really cost a bomb: hkd 45-60 if I recall correctly.

3) Oddies Foodies 

Fans of Oddies, rejoice. Our new favourite joint is now easily accessible at Gough Street in Sheung Wan! After a comforting bowl of ngau lam e meen at Kau Kee, swing by for a comforting scoop of gelato. Yes, this is the Oddies that I would not shut up about previously.  The usual suspects like night wolf and the mob are available, but what I got this time round was just a scoop of its bikini wax: lychee / black sesame paste / coconut macaroon icecream. I loved it. Lychee was bold and didn’t get lost like it usually does in the flavours. And black sesame!!! they go so well together.


I’d recommend that people try the drama cones. At hkd 88 per cone, you really do get a massive cone with crazy, incredible flavour pairings – does yogurt gelato, oatmeal raisin cookies, hojicha semifreddo, sesame crumble, and blueberry coulis sound good? I thought so too.

4) Elephant Grounds


I have been eyeing this place since I saw their icecream sandwiches on instagram about a year plus ago. Finally, finally made it here after a long day getting completely soaked in Macau (thanks, typhoon) and having to buy a cardigan in the Venetian because it was freezing  – though I think it turned out to be the best buy of the trip. Anyway, when we got back to HK it was about 8pm and we immediately dashed to Elephant Grounds as the Gough Street branch closes at 9. We made it, with 8 minutes to spare!

Roasted hojicha icecream sandwich with digestive cookies and chocolate popping candy for hkd 60. Kind of wish the hojicha was a bit more pronounced and less milky, but I gotta admit the sandwich was held together quite well. Everything complemented and the popping candy was fun to eat! My only gripe is that it melts too fast (just have to eat faster I suppose!) Available on weekends only at Gough Street & Causeway Bay.

 5) Under Vacuum

Getting here required us to walk about the entire Tsim Sha Tsui underground – it’s really close to TST East MTR station. In the middle of the park, I’d imagine it’d be really pleasant to hang around outdoors in cooler autumn nights.
I had the sous vide beef sandwich with an extra side of scrambled eggs. This sandwich is MESSY, but UV helpfully provides plastic gloves for eating! It’s been ages since I last had an epic sandwich and this was truly worth the hkd 53. Scrambled egg + mustard + beef = can’t go wrong. The beef was the star of the sandwich, as it should be. There were other interesting things on its menu, such as french toast stuffed with nutella and marshmallow, and deep fried stuffed waffles with green tea paste. 10/10 would recommend!

Addresses of everywhere:

Bake Cheese Tart: B2-16,B2, SOGO, 555, 555 Hennessy Rd, Causeway Bay
Omotesando Koffee: Shop no24-25,G/F., No.200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Lee Tung St
Oddies Foodies: 45 Gough St, Central
Elephant Grounds:
11 Gough Street, Central/Sheung Wan.
Under Vacuum
: Kiosk, Centenary Garden, 63 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East (Exit P2).

Hong Kong: Oddies Foodies

Ok so this is about 3 months late but Tess said I should write chronologically and so I think my entry about Tokyo should be coming to my loyal readers (er probably about 2 people at this point) maybe in Dec 2015, if we’re lucky.

The #1 thing about HK right now and that I miss SO MUCH – BEHOLD (NSFW! FOODPORN AHEAD!!):

Night Wolf: soft serve italian gelato with 66% chocolate swirl, banana icecream, passion fruit pannacotta, brownie, crunchy cereals, chocolate chip egg waffle.
ohh tea!: italian low fat soft gelato served on a bed of earl grey bergamot panna cotta, caramel apple, butter crumbs, organic jasmine tea sorbet, hibiscus tea espuma, strawberry tea caramel popcorn and a chocolate dipped tea bag

UM?????? LIKE??????? EXPLOSIONS IN MY MOUTH PLEASE. After having this I felt like my heart was exploding with mini fireworks and afterwards it started doing somersaults. It’s one of the biggest party in my mouths I’ve had all year and just WOW. I swear as I had it my head was going OMGOMG??????OMG??????? Banana + chocolate – everyone knows it works, but the passionfruit pannacotta really cut through and the citrus zing was a v pleasant end to a combination which would likely be quite heavy on the palate. ohh tea! was v different from night wolf – flavours were all subtle and very complementary; a perfect after dinner guilt-free snack (ok IT IS ANYTHING BUT GUILT FREE but it’s so light that it’s guilt free ok??). For me, I am in love with the idea that Winnie, the owner of Oddies, took a leap of faith and decided to run an icecream shop instead of going into pastry like most of her fellow Le Cordon Bleu counterparts. She runs this small tiny stall in Wan Chai by herself daily with one or two helpers. So much respect for this lady. Follow oddies on Instagram for their monthly update – Ohh Tea! is no longer available (soz). HERE!!

This is a place that is so off the charts that it really deserves a short entry of its own. This place is very very special and I cannot recommend it more – anyone travelling to Hong Kong should carve out some time to visit Oddies and savour Winnie’s magical creations, and of course, marvel at her little set up and like me, get all excited because she sure has a bright, shiny future ahead. Also, please bring someone along so you can try everything. Preferably someone with a HUGE APPETITE so you don’t feel fat when you order everything off her menu because everything is likely to be pretty damn delicious.

Oddies
灣仔道149號地鋪F號 Shop F, G/F,
149 Wan Chai Rd, Wan Chai.
Tues-Sun 12pm-10pm.

P.S. I know the picture links for some of the older entries are not working, I will get around to fixing them… sometime soon.

Sydney

TUTORIALS ARE OVER FOR THE WEEK. YES (but omg 3 next week the thought of it is just exhausting…). So I’m back to continue where I left off from Melbourne.

We went to Sydney for four days (but really had only a grand total of three days) and I kind of wish we spent more time there? Would have loved to visit Manly… and Bondi (er. Kind of forgot to go to Bondi because I was eating……. I know nobody is surprised by this.). And supposedly the Blue Mountains are gorgeous! AND I DIDN’T GET TO EAT MY WATERMELON CAKE 😦 Elaine’s food recommendations were completely spot on (thank you Elaine!!); if only I had the time and tummy space to conquer Sydney. Honestly though, while I preferred Melbourne as a city to Sydney, I think the culinary highs from the trip came from Sydney.

SYDNEY MUST-EATS:

1) Breakfast with the Sakuma’s, Devon Cafe

5452Miso grilled king salmon, 63 degree egg, smoked eel croquette, petit radish salad, kewpie mayo and a sprinkle of furikake – this is probably the most well thought out and put together dish I’ve had this year. It goes down in history as one of the most memorable dishes I’ve had & I want to fly back to Sydney just to have this. Asian fusion to me has always seemed a bit dodgy but I think this dish really took what I loved from Japanese cuisine and one of my favourite meals of the day and made it work – it is truly light on the palate but enough to wake your senses up with the umami bombs. AMA-FRKN-ZING. Whoever thought of adding furikake deserves a huge huge prize.

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I also think Devon’s rendition of Eggs Royale was spectacular!!! Instead of English muffin/bagel/rye/insert bread here, Devon uses blinis for its Eggs Blini. It didn’t look huge, but the portion was just right. The best part? The Eggs Royale was topped with ikura (salmon roe). So incredibly special. (PLUS THEY USE BROCCOLINI. I LOVE BROCCOLINI.)

I didn’t particularly enjoy my Little Lost Bread – pb&j brioche french toast, grilled banana, nutella, jam and pb icecream! I wish the banana taste were stronger because I felt like it was like separate components being slapped onto a plate, even though I have to say, the pb&j went well like… pb&j. It was like pb&j had a party and the grilled banana crashed it. Man!!! (Also, it was too sweet.)

I think Devon’s menu had other interesting things that I would have loved to try – the Korean Fried Chicken burger with gochujang & kimchi slaw sounded amazing on paper as well; except by then I had burger fatigue so, it was a no go. Their takeaway chicken salad also looked pretty yummy on display! Devon is a must go if you’re in Sydney.

2) Bourke Street Bakery

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The problem with Bourke Street Bakery is that everything looks too yummy. Um, limited stomach space here? I thought I had my eye on the chocolate tart in front of the store (and I’m not even that big a chocolate fan!!!) but once I entered and saw lemon curd and ginger creme brulee.. sorry chocolate. The lemon curd tart was my favourite, and edges ginger creme brulee out by 0.1 – purely because it is very very difficult to find lemon curd that is tart enough. I feel like lemon curd is one of those things where everyone has a different standard on – some like it sweet and others like it tart. This lemon tart is second only to Jacques Genin’s lemon tart!! And at A$5, it is such a bargain!! BUY MORE. The ginger creme brulee, however wins points for originality – cos I mean, a creme brulee tart????? LIKE WAAAOOOOOW RIGHT. I’ve never had one, and who would’ve though it would work?! Biting into a burnt sugar top is truly one of the littlest (??? little? small?) joys in life. I wish I brought back a dozen of each.

3) The Grounds of Alexandria

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The Grounds is a really genius idea. Take a huge lot in an industrial area and transform it into a grounds of sorts – a cafe on one end, and a miniature farm, a flower shop (SUPER GORGEOUS) and plenty of space for people to sit around and order take out from push carts. It really sounds like a kind of place I’d want to spend my weekends at, minus the screaming kids; but yes, it is a great place for a family to spend time together on weekends. We waited an hour for a table at the cafe – and while waiting, we…. started eating. Had a grilled corn on the cob and a green juice of kale, apple and mint to start off with! I wanted to take a picture with Kevin Bacon (the resident pig) EXCEPT I felt like the poor pig was already having its privacy invaded by the hordes of humans ): Poor pig.

I suppose the highlight of the Grounds would be its dessert table??????? The problem as always is just choosing ONE. I was torn between the passionfruit cheesecake (how unique really, PASSIONFRUIT!!!!) and the pear tart but was recommended it so I went for the pear. I mean, it was a good pear tart, but it didn’t make me go ‘!!!!!’. I had forest mushroom salad that came with a gooey egg encased in a panko batter. HOLY GUACAMOLE, THIS IS EGGYOLK PORN AT ITS FINEST!!!!!!!!! And it really did taste as good as it looked. As silly as it sounds, the house chips at the Grounds was really great – NO SOGGY FRIES AT ALL (I cannot stand soggy fries) and a beautiful chilli aioli that had a great garlic punch without being overwhelming. Since my description and vocabulary is limited: the grounds is simply Pinterest in REAL LIFE.

Honourable Mention: The Paramount Coffee Project.

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This was the first place we ate at when we touched down in Sydney. It is a gorgeous open space, with ceiling to floor windows (ALWAYS AWESOME!) and beside it is a proper mini cinema! The cafe is in front and at the back, all decked out in industrial grunge is a bicycle (and handmade goods??) store. Yep. This takes hpstr to a whole new level, except the food is anything but pretentious.

We had the crab po’boy and a cola braised pork with waffle. I preferred this to Hammer & Tong’s personally but Nick felt that there was no difference cos they were both AWESOME. This is a lot messier because there’re more sauces but I love it when a burger is messy because that is how it’s supposed to be! Don’t bother paying extra for the onion rings. The waffle meanwhile… was an acquired taste for me. It was creative and unique, but while I didn’t agree with the taste, Nick loved it. I do believe that this flavour combination is worth a try though!!

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I think I’ve been spoilt by the brunch options available in Melbourne and Sydney that brunch in Singapore will never (ok maybe not a long while) live up to anything I’ve had. I suppose with brunch being very ‘in’ and fashionable, the challenge is coming up with an excitable brunch menu. Nearly every place we went to in Melbourne and Sydney had their own flair. Though they may be serving an eggs benedict/royale/florentine, most cafes/places always have their own interpretations of these brunch classics. That really differentiates each place and gives them their individuality. & I think this is what keeps people coming back! The fact that menus change according to what is in season is also something I really respect.

I feel like I wasn’t in Sydney long enough to actually see half of it. Totally regret not going to Bondi/Manly – I mean which losers go to Sydney and then don’t visit one of the most popular attractions?!?? BUT AT LEAST WE MADE IT TO THE OPERA HOUSE AND HARBOUR BRIDGE. The greatest thing I’m taking away from my trip to Australia is probably just the niceness of Australians. PEOPLE ARE JUST SO FRKN NICE. We met the nicest airbnb hosts (Martina & Gavin!) and people on the streets were friendly and always keen to help with directions (I can’t read maps..). I really can’t wait to go back.

Till next time, super travellers!

Melbourne

Alright, it’s been more than a year, and what a difference a year makes. So what inspired this – basically ET asked me to update and today Trish asked me about Melbourne AND about Tummytay in lecture and during lunch. So why not? And also, I feel like I may never have such satisfying meals for a while since almost every meal was an epic meal in Melbourne and Sydney.

Plus it helps that I have to watch a video in preparation for mediation tomorrow. Obviously I should write a hugeass long post about food instead of preparing for it.. #priorities.

Without further ado, I present:

MUST EATS IN MELBOURNE

1) Coconut-Pandan gelato at Spring Street Grocer
And I thought I tasted the mother of all gelatos in Italy. I was wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. This was *magical*, the pandan and coconut were like pb & jam, yknow? THEY GO SO WELL TOGETHER. Like Britney and Justin. (They are still my OTP. Do not judge.) It was incredibly smooth, with NO ICE CRYSTALS AT ALL – don’t you hate icecream that is icy? AND IT IS SO HARD TO ACHIEVE THAT FEAT. Gelatos for the win. Who needs iceream or any other gelato flavour anyway? This gelato spoilt the market for the other gelatos I had in Melbourne, and none of the others I tried even came close to this. Not even the famous Messina.

2) Fried Brioche at The Hardware Societe

I think I loved this mainly because it was an infusion of all the flavours I enjoyed – rosewater/earl grey panna cotta/fresh raspberries – that reminded me of Pierre Herme’s famous ispahan. Prior to visiting Melbourne I had heard so much about THS (OMG SAME INITIALS AS ME?????) and I was not disappointed at all. The portions are huge, and because the flavours are quite complex, and the brioche is fried, it does get a bit heavy. But no problemo, it just means that you have to eat two dishes so as to alternate between that and the fried brioche. Which brings me to….

BAKED EGGS DEUX at THS.
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This was beautiful. I love baked eggs but I find sometimes the problem with brunch food/eggs is that I can easily replicate it at home. NOT THIS I CAN’T. three baked eggs sitting pretty in a pot full of warm tomato stew, silvered almonds and hidden spinach at the bottom. This really warmed us up on a blustery winter morning.

3) Grilled lemongrass banh mi at Ba’get

One thing I really missed about western nations: their sandwiches. Alright, banh mi is asian… but wowowow. Perhaps it was because Nick and I were RAVENOUS after trekking half of the CBD to get here (so much for me saying “it’s really nearby”. No one should ever trust my direction sense. More to come later). The baguettes were crisp and provided a REALLY satisfying crunch when we bit into em. I also enjoy pickled vegetables so this sandwich really ticked the right boxes for me. The best part: $6.95 for each banh mi. SAY WHAT???? It also stays fresh for a long time because I brought half a banh mi onto the plane home. It was still as great 6 hours later. Dammit sometimes I wish Willy Wonka’s TV were real then I’d be able to reach through my screen and grab whatever food I want and EAT IT.

4) Soft shell crab burger at Hammer & Tong 412
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Hammer & Tong’s logo is reminiscent of the CCCP for some reason (Communist Party), and that’s another reason why I like it. The soft shell crab burger has been talked about so much by the online food community (thank you urbanspoon.) that I think one of the stupidiest decisions I made in Melbourne was to share the burger with Nick. It should not be shared. Period. CRISP SOFT SHELL CRAB, PILLOWY BRIOCHE, and forgettable greens. It was also very light!!! Deepfrying a soft shell crab is not that easy ok??? Alright, maybe the Bill Murray at Lucky Chip has a greater wow factor (hellooooo wasabi mayo + secret sauce, how not to win!?) BUT THIS WAS A GREAT BURGER ON ITS OWN MERIT. Tummytay approves.

5) Original beef burger with the works at Andrew’s Hamburgers

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RLY ANNOYED BECAUSE I WAS SO FULL SO I COULDN’T FINISH MY HALF. Any burger with bacon and egg is also a winner in my books. And honestly? Andrew’s is better than The Royale Brothers whom we made the trek out to Middle Brighton to search out. Don’t know how to describe just how awesome (see, running out of adjectives) this burger is, so please just look above for the gorgeous cross section. Dammit why aren’t burgers this accessible in Singapore? WHY? (Answer: we don’t grow our own cows, that’s why.)

6) Spaghetti Scoglio & Lobster tail tagliatelle at Villa Romana Trattoria
2767No trip to Melbourne is complete without a trip to Lygon Street, even though food has been said to be a hit and miss, cos yknow as places become touristy, food standards just plummet ): But!!! THIS! WAS! SO! WOW! Alright, so the Scoglio was a bit dry for my liking and I felt there should have been a bit more white wine – yes yes I know the irony of this statement considering how alcohol and I are not friends – so as to create a nice vongole type sauce. But hey, I’m not the italian so.. ohwel. Other than it being a bitttt too dry (not ‘moist’ enough. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) it was A GREAT HEARTY DISH OF CARBS AND SEAFOOD IN A HUGE PAN. I would highly recommend this dish; it is pasta done simply and done well. The lobster tail tagliatelle was also for two, but there was a creamy sauce instead, just right to coat the pasta without it being too cloying. We loved it. Maybe a bit more than the Scoglio… but just a tiny bit.

7) HONOURABLE MENTION: Vegie Bar (no pictures though. OOPS.)
Vegie Bar is the kind of place I think Adele and I would frequent if we lived in Melbourne. It is completely vegetarian but in Singapore there tends to be this stereotype that vegetarian food = tasteless rabbit food and that there is a sense of being ripped off paying the same price for a dish that has no meat. I regret not taking pictures of the wonderful place but its menu is quirky and innovative, and EVERYTHING SOUNDED YUMMY – baked mushroom with quinoa!! vermicelli and soba salads, omg. The serving plates were also bigger than my face. Though the interior was dark, and lighting was a bit sleep inducing, I enjoyed the bar concept of it (neon lights! YAY!) and how they have managed to make vegetarian food cool.

8) ONE OF A KIND LOCATION: MART 130


So there was this day we were supposed to meet Ray at this lovely brunch spot in the middle of nowhere (HPSTR ALERT!), called Mart 130. Mart because it’s tram spelled backwards and it is literally right at the tram stop. Like when we stepped off the tram, crossed the tram tracks – I LOVE CROSSING TRAM TRACKS. “You are waiting for a train…” (DOES ANYONE GET THIS REFERENCE) – and there it stands, on the other side of the platform. Alright, silly me didn’t think to capture a picture of it on a digital medium – I have it in film. I think everyone should pay this a visit, I have never seen anything like it before. Just don’t make the same mistake as me and take the tram in the wrong direction (THE TRAM IS NOT TOWARDS EAST BRUNSWICK.) only to realise that we’ve gone in the wrong direction at the tram’s second last stop. #winner

9) COFFEE!

3730Another thing I really enjoyed about Melbourne was the availability of great coffee. I love how serious the coffee culture is and as much as I try to pretend I’m into the whole thing, I only describe coffee as whether it is ‘gao’ enough. The best part is waking up at 10ish everyday and making a pilgrimage to a new coffee spot while Nick sleeps in (what a pig.). I enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with sitting at a coffee joint alone with my coffee and kindle. It is quite a thing to be in a city but yet be able to stay grounded and not lose yourself in it. I love it. My favourite coffee spot was a little bird told me… possibly because it was the nearest to us (ha!!) but also of it’s non-cramped space and open interiors. Brother Baba Budan‘s interior decor was incredibly quirky – a ceiling full of chairs!! but it was a bit dark for and cramped for my liking. Maybe now Singaporean hipsters will be inspired to adorn their cafes with chairs instead of just BICYCLES. Bicycles are so 2012.

Next up: Sydney!!!

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Traipsing through Chinatown

If you haven’t seen this already, the above is a video done by my friend Wong Renjie (GalleryxSpace and Gallery X) who’s a mad cool photographer. This video was made on our day out to Chinatown back when I was on holiday in Singapore! There was so much food that we ate that day – Koi Honey Milk Tea, Dimsum at Yan Palace Restaurant (one of the most authentic dim sum in Singapore; love going to places where it’s filled with old people eating dimsum :D), Cake at K Ki at Ann Siang, barbequed squid at a roadside stall, and then Crystal Jade for dinner! I really grew fatter that day 😦

Anyway on to the review! Renjie and I shared the Emily cake at K Ki. I love K Ki. It’s so quaint. Tucked away at the corner of Ann Siang Hill, you kind of need to go round the corner to find it because the door isn’t on the main road, which is what adds to the tranquility of it, I suppose. It shares a space with The Little Drom Store, which has the largest Polaroid 600 collection I’ve seen ever. (Not that I’ve seen many). I love how the space is white and very, very clean, letting light stream through the glass windows.


This is Emily, a champagne-strawberry light sponge cake. I hesitate to call it a cake because the cake layer is really really thin. It’s more of a pudding-cake. And when you lift your fork to cut a small piece of that cake, the entire thing wobbles. That’s how delicate it is. The champagne and strawberry do complement each other well I have to say – Renjie loved the combination very much. As for me.. I like cakes that are uhm, more cake-y and less mousse-y. Athena would love this because she loves light cakes. Even for me who likes light cakes – Japanese cheesecake and Lana Chocolate Cake, anyone? – this was pushing it. It was more pudding than cake which I really didn’t like. And it cost $8. I guess you pay for ambience and art. Overall, I still think K Ki is worth a visit, just to try the rest of the cakes and the coconut sables which they were baking when we were there. Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked goods.

K Ki
7 Ann Siang Hill
Singapore 069791