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Bintan, Indonesia: a whirlwind getaway

About two weeks ago, Tdy and I were itching to go somewhere over the 1 July weekend. As tickets to Bangkok were astronomical, we settled on Bintan which was a mere 45min ferry ride away. We booked the cheapest room at Angsana Bintan, and counted down the days to our trip.

While we booked our stay at the Angsana, it was the Banyan Tree (sister property of Angsana) which captured our hearts, and we ended up spending most of our time there. Angsana feels like a holiday chalet where parents would take their kids to, while Banyan Tree seems to cater more to couples looking for some eat, pray, love and quiet moments with each other. Rooms in Angsana are corridor-style and are within one gigantic block while Banyan Tree comprises individual villas, most overlooking the sea. 

At this juncture I’m going to come clean and admit I didn’t take any pictures of the Angsana because it was kind of uninspiring and was more like a family chalet. 

Day 1

We arrived at around 10ish on a Saturday morning and the transfer to Angsana was seamless. On arrival we were presented with cold towels and a ginger-lemongrass shot. As our rooms weren’t ready, we deposited our luggages with the concierge and went off to explore the property. 

..and we found ourselves at Banyan Tree. The pool was gorgeous and loads quieter than the Angsana, and the deck chairs all thoughtfully laid out in corners and in tiers (as opposed to simply being laid around the Angsana pool). Btw, guests in Banyan Tree travel everywhere by buggies! 

At 12pm, we caught the free shuttle to Plaza Lagoi for lunch. As Angsana does not provide full board for meals, you are generally trapped in the resort and are limited to the restaurants in the two resorts unless you venture out of the resorts. (Edit: Angsana does provide full board at S$110 per person, but it does not include the beach BBQ below.) We had lunch at Warung Yeah!, which would be the most economic meal that we would have that weekend. (A quick review of Warung Yeah! to follow later if not this post would be longer than it already is).

We decided to go for the Saturday night beach BBQ even though it was incredibly pricey. Gotta admit that we both didn’t regret it though. Here’s why:

We got an incredible seat right beside the water so no complaints. The food, while not mind blowing, was good. I mean, who doesn’t love a barbecue when someone does the barbecuing for you?! The grilled crayfish and prawns were excellent, with a nice char and great smokiness. I liked the snapper satay a lot – never had grilled cubed fish on a stick which only needed some lime as a condiment. 


We were absolutely stuffed by the end of the meal. While we didn’t get the alcohol upgrade, we did think the bottomless alcohol could possibly have been quite good value at the cost of an extra sgd 30.

Day 2

The morning breakfast buffet at the Angsana’s Lotus Cafe was so insipid and uninspiring – nothing worth taking a photo of. The poached eggs came fully cooked through, the noodle soup, extremely tasteless. My favourite item was the multigrain toast with peanut butter. 

Our breakfast sorted, and after haggling for a late check out (which we got only after calling the manager – story below) we set off for banyan tree!


This was the gorgeous infinity pool beside tree tops where we went our morning lounging – in the pool on our borrowed donut float (thanks Sarah/Davin) and on the deck chairs. Okay, gotta admit right here that we weren’t explicitly told that we could not use Banyan Tree’s facilities (you do have free access to it though) and we didn’t bother asking I guess, just walked in and used it. So… at your own risk really!


Lunch at tree tops – the above cost us S$80 in total, and we were completely stuffed after. While it is very pricey, it was a great meal. Prawn and fish crackers with 6 different types of chilli was served as a complimentary starter with an amuse bouche of mini deep fried prawn rolls – I LOVED IT. The mango chilli was more refreshing than spicy and went brilliant with prawn crackers! We also had BBQ fish with chilli and deep fried chicken, their signature dishes (the fish wasn’t very spicy, it’s scarier than it looks! so good.) and struggled to finish it. We carried food babies all the way back to the Angsana.

The reception (temporary I think) at the Banyan Tree – with an infinity pool overlooking the beach. So, so gorgeous. 
So yes, the story why we won’t go back to Angsana in the future – throughout the trip, we couldn’t help but feel like something was missing from the Angsana. Don’t get me wrong: the service is good; everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful. It’s just that I expect more from a resort which prides itself on its service as we were made to wait until the official check in time of 3pm despite them telling us that our room would be ready before 3pm and they would inform us immediately when the room was ready (they did not until we went to find them at 3pm). We were also flat out denied a late check out at the reception as they ‘needed the room back’. It was only after a call to the manager and 20 minutes later that we were granted the check out of 3pm. Rolling my eyes right here. 

This trip was a really great break from the city but it’s more expensive than I imagined and being trapped in the resorts really does limit the food options. I may return to Bintan for a quick getaway in the future, but having calculated the costs, a staycation at a good hotel in Singapore is probably cheaper. Though I have to admit the idea of escaping the city is such a draw, it is really at a premium.

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Perth, Australia: eats / hits

4 words: It’s been a while. Since I’ve been to Perth, that is. However, I really don’t want to forget the wonderful time I had in Perth and the beautiful pictures I took must be shared with the World Wide Web. Here goes nothing!

Perth has always been the quieter cousin of buzzy cities like Melbourne or Sydney. I LOVE IT. it’s quiet so you can always hear your thoughts and the drive throughout is always pleasant – few humans, few cars. What a win. Probably the only gripe I have is how far apart everything is but it’s nothing a car rental cannot solve.

1) Chu Bakery


This is on everybody’s Perth to-eat list, foodie or not. The Chu puffs are worth the A$5.90 price because they are put together exquisitely and the best part – there’s a layer of jelly within, which makes the puff so much more interesting. The raspberry Chu puff came came with a lychee jelly and the matcha puff, a yuzu jelly.

2) Threecoins Italian Trattoria

Celebrated my birthday here, and as usual, I overordered. Shared a pasta, a pizza, two sides and we needed a bigger table because our food couldn’t fit on our table. LOVE having problems like this.

We had the pumpkin and taleggio ravioli which was super cheesy (I know! And I had it…) but the pumpkin was so sweet and I’m a sucker for fresh made pasta! We also ordered a huge ciccona pizza to share – tomato, red onion, mozzarella, spicy salami, ham and sausage. The crust is thin and crispy and the ingredients, top notch. We also got a mussel stew with grilled bread and a broccolini to share. They were both spectacular. I wouldn’t mind spending my next birthday here either.

3) Flora and Fauna

Yup, this is a vegan cafe. We had the mushroom bagel with avocado which was probably the best bagel I’ve eaten? Flora and Fauna used two types of pesto in this bagel and portions were huge. We also added on a spiced scrambled eggs on the side and we left completely stuffed, having only shared 1 main, 1 side and a coffee. Portions are huge, food is healthy, yummy and instagrammable – the best, really.

4) Gusto Gelato

This is way better than Chicho Gelato, imo. While the flavours at Chicho were probably more innovative (I had rice gelato!), Gusto wins in terms of taste and texture. I had the strawberry chocolate chip, it is one of their bestselling flavours and it deserves all the mentions it gets online or on print magazines. The strawberry flavour is not too sweet nor artificial and is generously studded with chocolate chips. Exactly how I would imagine strawberries and cream in ice cream form to taste like.

5) Moana Coffee

  Located on the second floor of an old building, Moana is a rare find in the CBD. Opt for the seats at the balcony where you can look out at the shopping streets below. Plus there’s lots of sun, which makes perfect lighting for pictures! The food is decent – we had a bagel and a wrap with the best sun dried tomato accompaniment – but the space is something special. A perfect place to laze the day away.

It has really been a while since Perth (I went in November 2016) but better late than never, I guess? Can’t wait to go back!

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Osaka: Sutoraikuken (ストライク軒)

We were starving and it was about 8.30pm when our Shinkansen pulled into Shin-Osaka. It was a mad scramble to find a hearty ramen joint to fill our rumbly tummies and a quick search on Instagram (yes, instagram!) unearthed this gem.

It has a non-descript, unassuming front which we passed by before doubling back. Pushing aside the plastic blinds, we were greeted with…a vending machine which we had to make our orders, completely in Japanese. Without the help of a fellow customer I think we would have spent about another 15 minutes deciphering the Japanese.

There are only two choices; shoyu or shio (salt). Both KYW and I have never been fans of either, but there were two of us and two types to try, so a bowl each we ordered. We got the ‘mini’ size, with an add on egg each.

It’s difficult to describe the taste of the shoyu – how something so simple can have a lot of depth is beyond me. It was comforting and exactly what I needed after a long day of traveling. I loved the bamboo accompaniment!

On the other hand, the shio came with slices of tender poached chicken and some clams. It was a lovely mix of seafood and chicken shio broth, and was reminiscent of a tonkotsu broth in that it was creamy, but the difference being that this was much lighter, and a lot more unique – both of us had never had anything like that! I think it was lighter on the palete than the shoyu and if I really had to pick one, I’d go with this shio though I’d recommend going with a friend to try both.

On the way out we spotted a sign on the wall where Sutoraikuken was awarded 373th out of 38,000 in Tabelog’s list of best ramen-ya. Didn’t even realise they were in the top 1% but they truly deserve this award. I’m definitely coming back the next time I’m in Osaka.

Address: 5-8-8 Tenjinbashi Kita-ku, Osaka

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Shinkansen Eats

On the Shinkansen right now and this is the spread KYW and I got to share. While most people would get an ekiben, we decided that more is more, and bought a bit of everything to try.

Let me first start with the juices: fresh peach, fresh tomato and fig. I’ve never had fresh tomato juice and I have terribly limited vocab when it comes to describing juice but it literally felt like eating the respective fruit / vegetables but in liquid form. The taste of the fig was not distinctive BUT the tomato juice had a really nice sweet end to it, probably due to the fig. Super refreshing in this heat! The peach juice wasn’t too sweet as well.

Pardon my stubby fingers!! Having heard so much about Maisen (aka the best tonkatsu in Tokyo) we both decided we had to have these sandwiches. LOOK AT THAT MEAT. This box of 3 mini sandwiches is a perfect snack size. The ratio of bread to meat to sauce is also perfect. Not too greasy despite being made hours ahead, this is one helluva sandwich that makes all the previous tonkatsu sandwiches I’ve had a waste of calories.

I wish I had a better pictures of the croquettes but KYW and I got through them too quickly. It is difficult to say which is better because they are both satisfying: the crab croquette manages to satisfy a seafood craving without being overly fishy; the beef is just hearty and packs lots of flavour. Japanese croquettes are always good because they are never over fried or too oily.

Chirashi was a bit of a letdown because the rice was clumpy. Other than that, no complaints because the fish was fresh!! Food comaing right now so the reviews of the marron sandwiches will come later and I’m falling asleep..

All food was purchased at Shinagawa station.

Bangkok: Inter

I really liked Inter. If Thais had a cha chain teng equivalent, I think Inter would fit the bill. It seemed like a very local joint (well… as local as you can get – they have English menus) with people coming in to takeaway food. Well, I can understand – the pad thai is possibly the best rendition of the dish I’ve had! It just the right combination of sweet, sticky and charred flavours, with more ingredients than rice noodles. Kind of how I like it. The wok hei (charred bits, for the uninitiated) would give some of the best hawkers a run for their money. Best part: the delicate rice noodles were not overcooked and retained some bite.

Slightly more unphotogenic was the green curry with catfish, a rendition which I’ve never had. Would recommend this instead of the old boring chicken / beef green curry that most restaurants offer. The catfish was firm and did not flake easily. We also had stir fried morning glory (it really does taste better in Bangkok) and tom yum soup which hit the spot. Between Krau Apsorn and Inter, I preferred Inter although I think Krau Apsorn had the better tom yum soup.

 Make a visit to Mango Tango opposite the road when you’re done with lunch! This was the only mango sticky rice I had all trip… it was a cute dessert in a cup, and great to take on the go. The sticky rice was utterly addictive & the mango ice cream on top was really the icing on the cake. A great end to lunch (105 baht, ~S$4, ~£2).

Address: 432/1-2 Siam Square 9, 10330, Thailand (Inter), Siam Square Soi 5 (Mango Tango takeaway stand – look out for Som Tam, the restaurant opposite which is famous for… yup, som tam.)

Bangkok: Krau Apsorn

Hello from Bangkok, aka every Singaporean’s go to destination for food and shopping. It’s been 22 years since I’ve been here (yes I was 2 when my parents first brought me, and I haven’t returned since) and I had great expectations for all the food I was gonna eat! Early dinner at Krau Apsorn did not disappoint. Quite fitting that it was my first meal in Bangkok because I found it to be homely and comforting: it’s as though Bangkok was welcoming me back, twenty two years on.

 Crab fried rice. To be honest, not mindblowing, but it would have cost a bomb to add crab to your fried rice in Singapore so this is a steal! I was nursing a blocked nose so I really couldn’t taste the crab.. Nonetheless, this is a solid, decent plate of fried rice and it was cooked beautifully – the grains did not clump together.   TOM YUM SOUP!!! Being chickens, we obviously asked for less spicy.. And it came, just right for us. I find that Nakhon at home is too spicy for my tastebuds, so much that I can’t even enjoy my meal. This wasn’t the case. It was spicy but the spicy came at the end.. And the sourness really kicked in! best part: there were ten prawns in the soup. TEN. It also cost 150 baht (~S$6, or £3). My favourite tom yum soup by far (I’ve had about 3), full of mushrooms and prawns and so tangy & punchy! Crab omelette. Like the crab fried rice, the taste of the crab was lost in here. That aside, it is an excellent omelette – so incredibly fluffy, and it was better than my breakfast omelette at the Renaissance.

Stir fried Chinese greens with deep fried pork – never have been a fan of crispy pork skin but I demolished this! The ratio of pork to crispy skin was perfect for me and made my supposedly healthiest dish for the night into well, something sinful. NO REGRETS THOUGH.

In all, a wonderful start to the trip. If I lived in Bangkok, this would be my neighbourhood tze char joint.

Address: 169 Dinso Road, Wat Bowon Niwet, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

Macau: the meal that made the trip

I’ve left this in my written drafts for so long I think it’s time to finally complete and publish it…

Well, Macau. Prior to this trip I had never been to Macau despite having been to Hong Kong a couple of times. This joint that Hysan brought us to was situated at the second storey of a local market and we had to walk through rows of butchers to turn into a canteen where this place was located. Even with its obscure location, this was incredibly popular and we had to wait a good 20 minutes before we were seated!!

How it works: you tell the bosslady what you feel like eating, she goes downstairs to the seafood stalls to shop for whatever’s fresh, comes back and shows you the goods (she literally shows you what’s in the bags, yes), and then magic happens.

This, my friends, is the greatest crab porridge in the history of mankind. I could totally do without the crab but man, the porridge!! How they managed to get the right mix of the taste of the crab & the sea & not overwhelm with fishiness is really remarkable. Hands down, best thing I ate of the trip (bake cheese tarts are second).


How lucky were we to get the last plate of 鱼饼 for the day! The closest phrase to describe it in English would be ‘fish pancakes’ but that makes it sound so unappetising. This was crack, and I suppose if deep fried beancurd skin and fish cake had a baby, this would be it. Sarah could not get enough of this!

img_3235Speaking of Sarah, she was craving sweet and sour fish (time away from home etc etc) that very day and had requested for the bosslady to make the dish. Bosslady was reluctant at first as she didn’t want to deep-fry stuff in her stall. HOWEVER, after finding out that we were from Singapore, but mostly due to Hysan being a total aunty-killer, bosslady was so excited and promptly made an exception for us!!! She was also very impressed by Singapore’s cleanliness. But I digress – this sweet and sour fish was not your typical neon orange sauce coated deep fried gunk. The sauce was sweet (not really sour), and I was really impressed by how bosslady and the bossman came up with this sauce from scratch. This was a surprise, unexpected favourite. The fish was soft (I think it was steamed as opposed to deep fried) and with the magic sauce, I think this was interesting, in a great way. I am just very impressed by how bosslady and bossman have no menu and customers can request roughly what they feel like having and bosslady and bossman both decide how to make the best out of the ingredients of the day.

img_3226img_3234 I suppose this is nothing special – steamed scallops with plenty of garlic and glass noodles but it’s been ages since I had it. I am a garlic fiend so I liked this too. Let’s just say I could have warded off an army of vampires after.

img_3232Between the 5 of us we paid about S$40 each per person, which is relatively pricey, objectively speaking – but I think the experience, interaction plus cost of ingredients was well worth the trip to Macau AND the price of the food (and I’ve yet to factor in the labour cost). Plus, I would go back just purely for that crab porridge.

Bosslady had told us that we should have called ahead to make reservations so that she could reserve the best seafood for us. Now we know. I would highly recommend this place – canteen-style seats, in the middle of a wet market, but so much heart poured into the food. It doesn’t get more local / authentic than this.

Thanks for the great day out, Onyee, Hysan & Sarah. Can’t wait to see everyone again!

中国名粥
Address:  1/F., Patane Temporary Market, Avenida Marginal do Patane, Macau

P.S. All these people on Openrice cannot be wrong.