Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Food For Thought: Brunch in The Original Gardens



I guess the latest hype in town should be the opening of Gardens By The Bay. I have been there once and thought the man-made landscaping was pretty impressive. The gardens is also sure to be a dining hotspot with the opening of new eateries. But while we awe at the new attraction, let's not forget about the original Botanic Gardens and its equally charming cafe, Food For Thought.




Located at the basement of Tanglin Gate's Vistor Centre, Food For Thought reminded much of IKEA's cafeteria with its long, open kitchen, self service counters and frills-free furnishing. There's even a nice outdoor playground for the kids to play at. Since one doesn't pay for service charge, you will have to find your own seat and order at the counter. Still, they are nice enough to deliver your orders to your table.



Stewarts Root Beer (Part of Burger Set), Latte ($4.50)

The bottled drink was part of the set meal and we rather liked its bubbly, ginger taste. No fancy artwork on the latte, but still my preferred cup of caffeine in the morning.



Pulled Pork Burger Set ($13.00), Brunch Set ($8.00)

Although the pork shreds were a little tough and dry, the flavourful BBQ sauce gained much brownie points from me. Paired with caramelized onions, refreshing greens and a side of fluffy chips, it was still a pretty good Sunday burger.

The brunch set was very customizable as you could mix and match three items from an entire list. We liked our creamy Scrambled Eggs and juicy Garlic Mushrooms, but felt that the Chunky Sausages were a tad salty and felt processed.


Additional Toast ($3.00)

Leave some space for their toasts! Served with a choice of spread (Homemade Dragonfruit Jam for the adventurous!), these were nicely browned at the edges, soft in the middle and gave off a wonderful buttery aroma. Simple pleasures.

Bill for two was $28.50 with GST inclusive. With its reasonably-priced menu, Food For Thought is surely a place to consider for casual gatherings or for a fuss-free brunch session. Taking a slow, digesting stroll in the gardens makes a great after-meal activity too!

Food For Thought
1 Cluny Road, Tanglin Gate
#B1-00 Singapore Botanic Gardens
Tel: 6338 4848

Taken with Nikon D70
Thursday, July 26, 2012

Convocation!


Apologies for the lack of updates! Been a little busy with work and spending time preparing for what should be highlight of my undergraduate life: Convocation!

Ceremony's later in the afternoon, great to meet up with friends whom I have not seen in a while. To the class of 2012, congratulations and all the best in your career path!

Write later!
Friday, July 20, 2012

Baan K: Chic Apartments in Bangkok's CBD



I don't know about you guys, but I sure love to hotel-hop. Although the packing/unpacking process can be cumbersome, I'm always excited to move to a new place and explore its amenities. And so, the girlfriend and I hopped over to Baan K for our last two nights in bangkok.



Located at the heart of Bangkok's business district, Baan K is a serviced apartment-styled hotel surrounded by plenty of bank offices and within walking distance to Lumpini Park and Banyan Tree Bangkok (Vertigo Skybar!). The hotel also has a complimentary tuktuk service to Saladaeng BTS Station.

With no in-house restaurants and swimming pools, the gym is nonetheless pretty well equipped and the buffet breakfast serves simple sandwiches with jam and coffee.




Having booked a One-bedroom Superior for slightly above SGD100 a night, I am pretty impressed with what I got. The 50sqm apartment's white, minimalist decor is stylish and sleek, close to what I will like my own house to look like. Upon entering, the small but fully equipped kitchenette comes with induction stoves even and has a simple but sufficient dining table.




The cosy living room has a 40" LCD television with cable channels, and a decent sound system for tuning in to movies at night.




Bedroom-wise, it extends the clean look of the living room without looking overly-empty. In fact, I am quite sure that the whole place can double up as a IKEA showroom.


No bathtub in the toilet, but at least they have the popular rain-shower system.



Now although there are no restaurants in Baan K, this glossy magazine made in-room dining very exciting. Compiling a whole list of restaurants and their menus with all types of cuisines, prices for each dish is reasonable (~฿120 for a Phad Thai) and clearly stated. Delivery charges are at a flat rate of ฿60 to ฿100, depending on your location. How awesome is that!




Arriving in about an hour after I put down the phone, my orders are served in a cute pizza box-like holder with the dishes and condiments neatly packed. Grab a bottle of beer from the 7-11 5 minutes walk away and feast on!

With keycard security and complimentary wifi, Baan K is an excellent place to stay in regardless of business or leisure, and might actually tempt me to not go out and merely laze around watching tv and ordering deliveries. Very bookmark-worthy!

And with that, I have wrapped up my Bangkok Trip 2012 but wait, I'm not quite done with Thailand yet. Phuket coming right up!

Baan K Serviced Residences
12/1 Soi Saladaeng North Sathorn Road
Silom Bangrak Bangkok 10500 Thailand
Tel: +66(0)2633 9911
Chcek their website for more information and book via reliable third parties like Agoda and Booking.com!

Taken with Nikon D70
Monday, July 16, 2012

Aspen Suites Bangkok: A Spacious Stay



In Bangkok, hotels come in all shapes and sizes. On the high end, you have the international brands that guarantee poshness, while at the other end you have budget stays that are still clean and safe to spend nights in. As for me, I like to source for in-the-middle local brands that don't flatten the wallet (too much) while still providing a certain level of comfort. That's how we ended up at Aspen Suites for the first three nights.




Located rather deep inside Sukhumvit Soi 2, the hotel is about 10 minutes walk from the main road and another 5 minutes away from Nana or Phloen Chit BTS Station. As you can see by now, I booked a Junior Suite which has a spacious living room and fully-equipped kitchenette. At less than SGD100 a night, I thought it was pretty worth the money as it gave a welcoming cozy feel after a long day.



Nothing fancy about the toilet, but served its purpose well being bright and clean.




The bedroom too, is another large room with comfy Queen-sized bed, working table, another 32" LCD television and a huge wardrobe. Rested pretty well for the three nights!



Hotel facilities were rather limited though. With only a narrow stretch of swimming pool and a small gym, the lobby cafe also didn't provide much of a variance for breakfast. Basic toasts and coffee to start the day.




Room service food turned out to be sub-par too, as our phad thai was pretty bland and watery, and the tom yum soup was merely fiery with little flavour.

If you are not picky on supplementary services, Aspen Suites is an affordable choice for spacious stays and good sleeps. Recharge and off to explore the city again!

Aspen Suites
65/1 Sukhumvit soi 2, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
T +66 2 638 1888
Check out their website for prices!

Taken with Nikon D70
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

T&K Seafood II: Back For More Cheap Treats



I will not count a Bangkok trip complete without a visit to Chinatown. Although the main road is pretty short, it is nonetheless a very vibrant stretch with plenty of sights, whiffs and flavours. And of course, I'm back for more seafood goodies at T&K restaurant.




Still the most popular one among the three colour-coded restaurants, T&K was very crowded with diners almost spilling onto the main road. Knowing that they have an air-conditioned indoor area, we headed right in and surprise surprise, I was shown to the exact same table and served by the exact same lady as per my very memorable reunion dinner here last year. Affinity eh.


Fresh Coconut, Bottled Guava Juice

Juices to cool yourself down! The all-natural coconut juice is always welcoming with its plump white meat, while the guava juice's raw taste wasn't quite to our liking.



Baked Stuffed Crab, Prawn Tanghoon

Oh yes, how much I miss these. At less than SGD5 a pop, the mixture of crabmeat, minced chicken and vermicilli was absolutely a steal. The tanghoon remained as good as it did in my memory with the moistness and rich flavours, served together with huge crunchy prawns.



Fried Kangkong, Oyster Omelette

While the greens were just, you know, greens, the oyster omelette was again among the best of its kind with a fluffy texture and crispy edge. Oh man, its good to be back!



Stir-fried Fish Slices, Crabmeat Fried Rice

A new attempt for this trip, this was rather disappointing with rubbery fish meat. If you have the capacity, go for the whole steamed fishes instead, much fresher and value for money. Fried rice, on the other hand, was very nicely done as each grain was non-oily and brimming with wok-hei, fried with generous amount of crabmeat.

Again, I didn't keep the receipt but the bill for two was less than SGD40. Good food at cheap prices, what more can I ask for? A must-visit for every bangkok trip!

T&K Seafood
49-51 Soi Phadung Dao
Chinatown, Bangkok
Tel: 02 223 4519
Directions: Located at a major junction and near the start of Chinatown, you can't missed it with all the employees wearing green uniform. Out of reach from any MRT/BTS station, a taxi ride from downtown will cost about ฿80.

Taken with Nikon D70
Saturday, July 07, 2012

Vertigo: Drinking with Bangkok's Skyline



While the girlfriend and I have avoided Bangkok's nightclubs and Agogo bars (Duh!), we did keep one night for a good bout of drinks. We were sure that such a metropolis would have a rooftop bar somewhere and so after some research, we found ourselves at Vertigo.



Located on the 61th floor of Banyan Tree Bangkok, Vertigo was highly recommended on the Internet and chosen over the other hotspot Sirocco due to 2 reasons:

1. Tables are available even if you go there solely for drinks, while Sirocco is a standing-only bar.
2. Sirocco has an odd no-photography policy, citing safety concerns that you might drop your camera all the way down.

Taking a gamble, we were lucky to walk-in smoothly on a weekday night without prior reservations. Still, there was quite a crowd at the bar served by friendly staff.


Complimentary Snackers

Much better than boring peanuts! I guess the dried bananas were more of an Asian thing.



Vertigo Sunset, Bottled Heineken

Asking for cocktail recommendations, we were told that the signature Vertigo Sunset is a favourite among ladies. Using a mix of Malibu, Pineapple Juice, Cranberry Juice, and Lime Juice, the refreshing concoction suited the girlfriend just fine.

As for me, beer always go well with nuts!



Lost the receipt, but I remember the bill being pretty reasonable by Singapore standards. Ideally, you should come here for dinner before sunset and drink into the night to fully appreciate Bangkok's skyline. That's something KIV for me next time!

Vertigo and Moon Bar
21/100 South Sathon Road
Sathon, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Banyan Tree Bangkok
Tel: +66 2679 1200
Directions: Nearest MRT should be Lumpini Park Station. But as always, get a cab to minimise confusion.

Taken with Nikon D70
Tuesday, July 03, 2012

10 at Claymore II: Aussie Meat Galore!

This is an invited session



I might be under-qualified to say this, but I do really think that I'm getting too old for buffets. Long gone were the days when Sakae Sushi staff would groan when we entered for student buffet and when hotpot operators would sheepishly announced that they ran out of enoki mushrooms because of us (I'm dead serious).

So when I do go for buffets these days, its not the variety, but rather the quality of a few single items that will attract me for encores. 10 at Claymore fits such bill exactly.



As Pan Pacific Orchard undergoes a major facelift, 10 at Claymore has been temporarily relocated to the ex-club lounge area. While the buffet line seem to have shrunk from what I previously remembered, I'm glad that certain old favourites remained alongside new surprises. Of course, the restaurant's signature a-la minute dishes are a must and for the tasting session, we tried the latest "Pleasure of Oz" selections.



Gippsland Organic Angus Beef Tenderloin, Gippsland Organic Slow Roasted Angus Beef Striploin

With the separate menu focusing on organic, free-range meat from Australia, beef lovers will be spoilt for choice with the different cuts available. These two each have their strengths, as the tenderloin had a beefy chew to it and paired with (slightly) truffled mash potatoes, while the striploin was pink and juicy, topped with good ol mushrooms.


Australian Free-Range Volcanic Grilled Lamb T-Bone

Previously, I was all-praise for the chefs' handling of lamb and I'm glad to reaffirm that impression. No doubt that the gamey taste was still detectable in fats, but the use of citrus balsamic reduction had neutralized most of it, leaving the tender meat with slightly charred surface a pleasure to eat with pumpkin puree. Definitely up for seconds!



Gippsland Organic Teppan-Style Angus Beef Rib-Eye, Australian 8-Hour Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly

With expectations building, the last two dishes didn't quite hold up as well. The first one attempted a fusion with Japanese cooking as the sauce turned out a tad too sweet for our liking, while the other one was just as "Kong Ba Pao" as it could get. Nothing destructive really, but perhaps one should reverse the order and try these two first.

Next up, the buffet line!



Cheese Selections

Now this was an overhaul that I fancied much. I always appreciate a good cheese spread as I find it difficult to buy and finish different blocks of cheese on my own. While my favourite Camembert was available, it had to give way to the Cranberry Cheese that was slightly sweet with an ice-cream like texture. Very good stuff.



Oyster Selections

Shuckled upon request, I would prefer the US Pacific Oysters among the three for its plump, creamy flavour.



Cold Food Selections

Yes, the huge Boston Lobsters were still there and I'm still loving the chunky meat and rich roes. Poor thing to be a fresh sashimi here eh, having to play second fiddle to the crustaceans.


Hot Food Selections

Among the hot mains, I found my favourite to be the Braised Oxtails that were very tender and flavourful. There were also the usual fish and vegetable options but I have to say meat definitely stole the show.



Save some space for desserts, would ya?




I'm a fan of Bread and Butter Pudding, so the hot, eggy rendition here suited me just fine. The live crepe station is always a joy to visit, mixing and matching your favourite fruits and ice cream flavours together. The Durian one is really potent!

At $55++ for dinner and $58++ for Sunday Brunch (Has even more live stations!), I stood by my previous thoughts that 10 at Claymore offers a very value-for-money buffet experience. The Pleasures of Oz creations are available till the end of the month, so better make a booking fast to satisfy that meat craving!

Special thanks to Givany and Kin Seng of Pan Pacific for the invite!

10 at Claymore
10 Claymore Road, Lobby Level
Pan Pacific Orchard
Tel: 6831 6686

Taken with Nikon D70