Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Charm Thai: HI Resort's In-House Restaurant

While we were quite excited to explore beyond the grounds of Holiday Inn Resort, the fact was that we checked in at almost 9pm, famished and tired after the budget flight and airport procedures. As such, we had our first Phuket meal at the resort's Thai restaurant, Charm Thai.

Located near Busakorn Wing's lobby, the restaurant had a nice traditional vibe with its high roof and decor. While the lack of aircon would usually be an issue for us, it was reasonably cooling with the place's open design and the many fans installed abovehead. There were only one other occupied table that night, so service was pretty attentive with our orders arriving fairly fast.

The ever essential Thai condiments! I'm still very amazed with how particular the Thais are with these.

Tom Yam Goong (฿200 ~ S$8.00), Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab (฿195 ~ S$7.80)

We were actually a little disappointed at first sip, as it tasted watery and a tad too sour for our liking. Still, I have to say its better than most renditions in Singapore. As for the other one, the soft shell crab was buried under the pile of greens, but still crispy and delightfully meaty anyway.

Green Curry Chicken (฿180 ~ S$7.20), Phad Thai (฿220 ~ S$8.80)

Oh yes how much I miss these! The rich and creamy taste of the lightly spiced curry was so familiar and inviting that I easily polished off plates of rice (FOC and free-flow, by the way!) with it. The classic Thai noodle dish was served pretty in a crispy spring roll skin-like bowl, as the noodles itself was springy and full of sweet-savoury flavour. Very satisfying.

Total bill for two was ฿935.72 ~ S$37.50 after taxes. Yes it was probably very expensive by Thailand's standards, but I was eating in a resort restaurant after all. In fact, if we had more days in Phuket, I would try the resort's grill and Italian restaurants too as they seemed very promising. On the next trip, perhaps!

Charm Thai
Holiday Inn Phuket
52 Thaweewong Road, Patong Beach
Phuket, 83150

Taken with Nikon D70
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Holiday Inn Phuket: Home For a Short Getaway

Unlike most graduates who spent weeks on graduation trips right after their last paper, I chose to invest the time in job hunting. Not being one of those brilliant enough to secure a job way before graduation, I knew that I wouldn't be able to play wholeheartedly without something secured to look forward to.

So when I finally got an offer in May with a week to spare, I (almost) immediately booked tickets to Phuket for the girlfriend and myself. That was also our first and last time departing from Budget Terminal!

Taking Tiger Airways did have its fun of boarding without aerobridges, but that thrill came and gone as quickly as it took to takeoff. Scoot by SIA is something that I would want to try next!

After the close to 2 hours flight and another 1 hour taxi ride to Patong Beach from Phuket International Airport, we finally arrived at our haven for the next three nights, Holiday Inn Phuket. Since it was our first time in Phuket, we opted for a safer, more reputable choice as the resort seemed to get plenty of good reviews online.

After checking in at the chic, open-air lobby, we were led to our Superior Room that costed ฿3,600 (~SGD150) a night. Spacious yet cosy, the room had a King-sized bed and a lounge area with sofa and counter. Sadly, there wasn't much of a view from the our balcony.

No bathtub in the toilet, but all the equipment and utilities were clean, modern and working perfectly for a good shower.

Being a resort hotel, there's plenty of facilities to enjoy even before stepping out to explore Phuket. Besides a wide range of restaurants (more on that next time!), there were also two swimming pools to serve the Main Wing and the newer Busakorn Wing. Not forgetting about Patong Beach which is located just 2 minutes across the street.

Psst, make your welcome drink tickets worthwhile! Since those could be redeemed at any restaurants and bars in the resort, why not do so at the poolside bar for more fun!

Mango Smoothie, Mojito Mocktail

Lazing around the pool and having a sip of that ice cold smoothie was way awesome, but I didn't come all the way to Phuket for just that! Food adventures coming right up!

Holiday Inn Phuket
52 Thaweewong Road, Patong Beach
Phuket, 83150
Check out their website for more information!

Taken with Nikon D70
Saturday, August 18, 2012

Stellar II: Set Lunch With a View

Its no secret that the girlfriend loves to take random days off work (Her leaves are seemingly unlimited, really). What's even better is to spend the morning clearing urgent stuffs and then take the afternoon off for a long leisurely lunch in CBD. It was such a day in May, and to celebrate my job offer, that we made a lunch reservation at Stellar.

Having been here for dinner previously, I was keen on a revisit with the girlfriend for its splendid Marina Bay view. Coupled with the posh-looking decor, one would definitely be in for a visual feast. Booking for window seats was rather easy too, as the restaurant was sparsely filled at noon.

Complimentary Bread

Soft and fluffy, the multi-grain bread slice made a decent munch as we waited for our 3-course set lunch ($38.00++).

Rhubarb Jelly, Tuna Tataki

Arriving pretty in a mini tower stack, my appetizer was light, fruity and regrettably dessert-like with its absence of savoury flavours. For something stronger in taste, I thought that the thinly-sliced tuna would make a much better choice.

Barley Risotto, Grilled Chicken Roll

I don't usually eat barley, but to serve it risotto-style was simply too interesting to ignore. Served in a creamy, cheesy sauce, it fared pretty well as the grains were cooked just right with that chewy characteristic of barley. The other main was also plated nicely as the girlfriend enjoyed the juicy chicken chunks.

Sticky Date Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream, Mango Mousse Cake

Dessert-wise, the first one was rather decent with its moist texture and date fragrance, while the mousse cake was a bit of letdown with its artificial taste and mass-produced touch.

Latte ($4.50 each)

Since there's plenty of time, why not enjoy a cuppa too? Not sure if they take requests for specific animals, but you can try!

Bill for two was $100.10 after taxes. It might be just our luck that the monthly (I think) set lunch didn't impress immensely, but I would say it was relatively value for money if you were to compare it with restaurants of similar class (and height!). Encore? Probably not. There's too many places waiting to be explored on the next half day leave!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude
1 Raffles Place, Level 62
One Raffles Place
Tel: 6438 0410

Taken with HTC Sensation
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Changi Airport: Dining at Terminal 1

The following article is written for Changi Airport Group in conjunction with the reopening of Terminal 1, and can be found at its new Changi Rewards website. Special thanks to Ching Wern of CAG for the invite!

I think that Singapore is one of the few countries in the world where the airport is considered as a weekend destination. No, I don’t mean using Changi Airport as a gateway to the world, but really for Singaporeans to visit the terminals with family and friends.

That actually makes sense. You see, the spacious walkways and high hall ceilings are sharp contrasts to overcrowded malls, giving adults much leisure stroll opportunities and energetic children plenty of running space. Furthermore, with so many dining options at the three terminals, it isn’t hard to arrange a meal that will please everyone’s palate. And now with the completion of Terminal 1’s renovation, we are even more spoilt for choices!

After a $500 million, 4 years-long facelift, the 21 years old Terminal 1 is definitely looking much more vibrant with sleek, modern design and new ornaments (Check out the uber-cool Kinetic Rain at Departure Hall!). The list of dining options has been expanded too, as I was invited to try out dishes at 4 of the newer restaurants, namely Saboten, Pappa Mia, Paradise Inn and RuYi. Let’s see what they have to offer!


As one of the largest Tonkatsu chains in Japan, Saboten prides itself in deep-frying breaded pork cutlets for almost 50 years.

If you are unsure of what to try here, the Saboten Special Set ($25.00++) will make a perfect start. The set’s Loin Katsu and Mini Tenderloin are indeed very juicy and tender, while the Prawn Katsu and Crab Cream Croquette are also their hot favourites. All of these are coated in a light batter that gives a resounding crunch at every bite.

What’s even better to go with the fried items are the refreshing shredded lettuce and premium Japanese short grains, both refillable on demand. And remember to have a go at their sauces too! The sesame sauce, citrus sauce and tonkatsu sauce are all unique in their own ways, while I particularly like the mix of black and white sesames that is really fragrant upon grinding. Satisfying!

Pappa Mia

A relatively newcomer in the local dining scene, Pappa Mia brings the flavours of our neighbour, Malaysia, right to our doorsteps.

The Pappa Char Koay Teow ($7.90++) has a pleasant, charred flavour while not being overly sweet, and the Nyonya Chicken Marinated with Local Spices ($11.90++) has all the juices locked in nicely.

What steals the show for me is the Pappa Asam Laksa ($6.90++). The laksa’s specially-imported “Lai Fun” (A type of thick vermicelli) is very chewy and smooth, served in a sourish, spicy broth that becomes more addictive as you eat.

If you are still hankering for some Singaporean favourites, fret not! The Chicken Rice Set ($8.90++) is also very well done with guidance from chef Han Seng Fong, former executive sous chef at Meritus Mandarin.

Paradise Inn

Looking for chinese dishes with a twist? Head over to Paradise Inn then!

As a bistro-styled dining concept under Paradise Group, the eatery serves hearty, traditional double-boiled soups like the Black Chicken with Spare Ribs and Ginseng Soup ($17.90++), as well as innovative creations such as the Crisp-fried Crystal Prawn in Wasabi Mayo Sauce ($16.90++).

For a more meaty treat, don’t miss out the Stewed Pork Belly with Lotus Buns ($2.20++ per piece). Very well-marinated and stewed over a long period of time, the pork belly disappears easily on your tongue and makes a real good Chinese burger with the steamed buns.

The other memorable pork dish will be the Braised Vermicelli with Pork Trotters ($12.90++), as the seemingly simple dish has every noodle strand coated with the gelatinous gravy that should not be mistaken for greasiness. Good for the skin, ladies!


What if you don’t have the luxury of time and yet you still want something more than a fast food burger? Have a quick meal at RuYi then! The Chinese fast food chain is the brainchild of Tung Lok Group, aiming to provide meals that are served with speed, quality and consistency.

To achieve the goals, the group imported state-of-the-art kitchen equipment such as self-frying woks (Yes you read that right!), self-timed noodle boilers and intelligent rice cookers for precision.

The result is that your serving of Ruyi Fried Rice ($6.50), Ruyi Fried Noodles ($6.50) and Stewed Minced Pork Noodles ($6.90) will always taste the same no matter the time and place you order them. No more bad chef days!

With side dishes like Pan Fried Pork and Cabbage Gyoza ($3.50 for 4pc, $6.50 for 8pc) on the menu, do remember to save a little space for their Fresh Mango Pudding ($2.50), as the dessert’s rich flavour and creamy texture puts an excellent end to the meal.

From breaded cutlets to pork belly buns, Japanese set meals to chinese fast food, the diverse range of cuisines at the new Terminal 1 will be suitable for both curious travellers and seasoned Singaporeans alike. A trip to the airport just for food? Why not!

Taken with Nikon D70