Friday, May 31, 2013

Modena Putuo: Loft-Style Living

Not everyone likes hotel hopping with all the packing and shifting but I certainly enjoys so, as I find exploring different properties an element of making holidays all the more memorable. So for the second part of our Shanghai trip, we checked out of Renaissance Putuo, crossed a little street and checked right into Modena Putuo.

Ran by the Frasers Hospitality group, Modena is an uber-modern boutique hotel with a very interesting twist in their rooms: Yes, every "room" is a loft-style apartment with kitchenette, living area and bed area. At about SGD100 a night, it was too tempting to be missed and a pleasant coincidental surprise to be located just opposite Renaissance Putuo, saving us travelling time as well. Checking in at the chic lobby was a breeze, collecting our keycards and pretty excited to explore our loft.

We opened the door and found ourselves looking at a miniture but fully functional kitchenette, completed with bar stools/table, induction stove, microwave oven and two full set of plates, cutlery and WMF-branded pots in the drawers. No problem at all if you decide to cook in!

Up the stairs and you will be facing the living area with a comfy sofa, 32" LCD TV and a funky wall art. Oh yes, there's a small balcony too but nothing much to fancy as it faced other condos in the area.

Making a U-Turn and up a few flights to reach the bed area with a work desk cleverly hinging on the wall to make use of space. A slight pity that we couldn't do TV in bed here, and that the wardrobe was a little small to be utilized beyond a couple of days.

The toilet too, was pretty compact with simplistic standing shower and basin, hardly enough space for me to take a good shot frankly.

With buffet breakfast included, we headed down to the residential cafe daily that had a decent selection of western and chinese staples. There was also an ala-minute counter that rotated noodle dishes daily, in which we had tried the pretty good wanton noodles and laksa.

With its competitive pricing and interesting concept, Modena would provide an out-of-the-norm experience from what we commonly know of hotels. Wonders how it feels like to stay in a loft? Here you go!

Modena Putuo Shanghai
58弄1号 Tongchuan Rd, Putuo
Shanghai, China, 200333
Rates from seems to be the most competitive!
Directions: Similar to Renaissance Putuo, take line 7 to Langao Road Station and head for the road surface. Not too hard to find from the main road.

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, May 24, 2013

Marriot Renaissance Putuo: Outer City Luxury

Hotels come in all shapes, sizes and most importantly prices in Shanghai. While doing our research on accommodation, we were lucky enough to come across Marriot's 3 for the price of 2 promotion, in which their Renaissance Putuo property costed only an average of SGD130 for each of the three nights. Miss out on the good deal, we will not.

Located in the relatively new town of Putuo, the hotel had a direct entrance to a underground shopping mall which leads you to LanGao Road MRT Station, which is about another 30 minutes away from the bustling city centre. Well-connected enough I would say.

Hotel lobby was pretty spacious and impressive with a gorgeous chandelier over the bar area. We arrived really early at the hotel (8am, to be precise), so we checked-in with the courteous staff, left our luggage there and headed out before coming back after lunch.

And boy, do we love our room! Modern and posh-looking, the toilet left us wow-ing with its plus-size bathtub and sliding side-wall concept. Watching tv while taking a hot soak? Entirely do-able.

While the window view was nothing to shout about (The problem of building a sparkling town in a old neighbourhood, if you can imagine), the room was definitely welcoming after a full day out as you laze on the sofa lounge and tuck into a good night on a comfy bed and pillows. A good place to stay while in Shanghai, and definitely value for money for us.

Marriot Renaissance Putuo
50 Tongchuan Road, Shanghai, China, 200333
Tel: +86 800 468 3571
Check out their website for ongoing promotions!
Directions: Alight at Langao Road Station (Line 7), walk towards the underground mall and follow the overhead sign leading to the hotel.

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, May 17, 2013

New Heights: A Snowy Dinner on The Bund

The biggest highlight (and surprise) of our Shanghai trip was no doubt the sheer luck of encountering snow on one of the nights. Being a mountain turtle who have never seen real flakes drifting down from the sky, we were pretty ecstatic and spent a good amount of time jumping around like kids. When we were finally tired and shivering, it was time to head for our only fine dining meal of the trip at New Heights.

Housed in one of the historical buildings along the Bund, New Heights is one of the many restaurants in the cluster which offered a brilliant view of the Bund and Pudong. Well fine dining for the mainly western menu (they have a south east asian section with laksa and chicken rice!) is kind of an overstatement actually, as the vibe was pretty casual with almost Ikea-like furnishings. It also had a batch of standing lamps which is by far the prettiest I have seen.

The main dining hall had a really good view of the Bund which was made even more awesome with the furious snow outside, no one could resist a picture eh? Further inside is the restaurant is the bar area which should show the galore of Pudong.

Complimentary Bread

Nothing particularly fantastic, but the warmed ones were pretty comfy for the stomach.

Delica-sea (RMB258 ~ SGD51.60 ), The French gratin (RMB45 ~ SGD9.00)

We weren't very hungry after having Haagen Dazs a while ago (Yes, while it was snowing) so we went for the Cocotte for Two which had chunks of Monkfish, Clams and Greens simmered in a creamy sauce, perfect for dipping with the bread.

The baked macaroni sounded particularly inviting in such weather, and we were both satisfied by the mix of pasta and hot, gooey cheese.

Bill for two was RMB393 ~ SGD78.60 after taxes. While we didn't eat much really, the mood for the night was perfect as we enjoyed a slow, relaxing dinner with a fantastic snowing scenery. Very worth a visit while in Shanghai!

New Heights
Zhongshan East 1st Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China
Tel: +86 21 6321 0909
Directions: Facing the iconic clock tower of the Bund, walk towards your left and the building entrance is at the junction of Zhongshan East Road and Guangdong Road.

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, May 10, 2013

The Baker's Story: Feast on Brownies

This is an invited writeup

I'm not exactly a desserts person, though there are the rare occasions that I will crave for a chunk of thick chocolate fudge cake, or a slice of creamy American cheesecake. So when these two come together in the form of brownies at The Baker's Story, I have even lesser reasons to say no.

As a homegrown bakery with its first outlet at Sin Ming Center and a (more conveniently-located) second one at Orchid Hotel, Chef/Owner Eric has been building a fanbase with his selection of cheese brownies. Having received a a sample box of assorted flavours earlier this week, I was spoiled for choice and solved the dilemma by trying a bit of everything.

Front: Cheese Brownie ($2.20), Back: Mint Cheese Brownie ($2.30)

Their original signature, this one had a smooth, creamy layer of swirling marble cheese on top and a thick, moist block of chocolate brownie below. Very pleasing and with a size just right for one.

The other brownies basically had the same chocolate base, varying only in terms of toppings. I was never a fan of mint, so the second one was just touch and go for me.

Front: Walnut Chocolate Brownie ($2.30), Back: Banana Brownie ($2.20)

As one of the two non-cheese choices in the box, this was pretty good with a mix of walnut bits and crispy chocolate balls. The banana creation was without surprises really.

Front: Orange Cheese Brownie ($2.80), Back: Crunchy Cheese Brownie ($2.80)

While pretty to look at, the flavour was too artificial for my liking. Thankfully, we summed up with another decent one as the layer of chocolate biscuit provided more texture to the brownie, reminding me much of Rive Gauche's signature Guanaja actually.

If you are in the mood for some quality brownies, popping by The Baker's Story might be just what you want to do. Or when the usual birthday cake won't make the cut, a whole block of brownie might be a pretty good alternative too.

The Baker's Story

No. 8 Sin Ming Road,
#01-05, Sin Ming Centre,
Singapore 575628
Tel: +65 6452 0265

No. 1 Tras Link.
#01-09, Orchid Hotel,
Singapore 078867
Tel: +65 6604 9929

Special thanks to Ivy of FoodNews for the samples!

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, May 03, 2013

上海姥姥: A Taste of Shanghainese Homecooked Meal

Growing up with a Shanghainese mum who whip up excellent meals means that I never really had a craving for Shanghainese food outside of home; don't even get me started on the many nonsense you find in Singapore. But since we were in Shanghai and the girlfriend haven't eaten as much local food as I did, we headed to the much recommended 上海姥姥 for a good ol fashioned dinner.

Located conveniently near the Bund, 上海姥姥 has been mentioned by several friends for its cheap and delicious Shanghainese food. With its double storey layout and relatively modest decor, we walked in to a full house on a late weekday night, thankfully having only to wait for less than 15 minutes for a table for two upstairs.

凤鹅笋厚百叶干锅, 地三鲜

With the chilling wind outside, a hot wok of soup was just what we need. And it was a real tasty one too; the broth being very flavourful simmered in specialty salted goose meat, paired with crunchy bamboo shoots and balanced with thick beancurd skin.

The vegetable stir fry was a pretty simple dish, with Brinjal, Potato and Capsicum being given a good toss in the wok, but nonetheless appetizing for our dinner.

农家烧豆腐, 八宝辣酱

Another simple homecooked tofu dish, but it was simplicity at its best as the bowl of Beancurd, Black Fungus and Chilli was very comfort stuff. The other one, a good mix of Peanuts, Diced Pork, Bamboo Shoots and Grean Peas in a thick, sweetened bean paste goes really well with rice. Well, all of our choices were excellent rice partners actually.

I can't remember the exact price, but a meal for two cost less than SGD30. While I wasn't particularly excited before and after the meal, this is solely because of the environment I was brought up in. If you are hankering for a good meal that a Shanghainese grandma will serve at home, then this is definitely the place to bookmark.

Besides, a stroll along the Bund after a heavy meal is always pleasing!

Tel: +86 21 6321 6613
Directions: With a little bit of direction sense, the restaurant isn't that hard to find if you walk along the Bund and turn into Fuzhou Street.

Taken with Nikon D70