Sunday, April 12, 2015

Nepal Part 1 - Kathmandu

Mega long break - cos I've been busy with frivolous and not-so-frivolous things, but have been commandeered by some people to update my blog.

So after I went to Sikkim last year, I was super enthu about visiting more of the Himalayan countries. Managed to coordinate leave (nearly couldn't due to logistic issues but in the end can! win!) Went to Nepal for a non-hard core semi-trekking trip.

We could see the Himalayan mountain range from the plane window - little did we know we weren't going to see it for the next 5 days after due to bad weather!

Staying in Kathmandu must have been the most stressful part of the trip.
The fragile valley has been subjected to rapid urbanisation, and there's quite a big issue with pollution and the traffic here is really impossible. Think tiny windy roads which are not meant to accommodate huge tour buses - it's a recipe for a massive jam every day. The roads are really dusty (not sure why, because they aren't dirt roads) and when we had to wash our clothes (more about that later) the water would turn brown. I don't want to think how my lungs look like...

I was really happy to go over to Pokhara, which is really more laid back and relaxed, and most importantly (for me at least), not polluted so I can breathe lots of fresh air.
If you look past the dust (which irritated my eyes to no end) as well as the traffic (and block out the noise too), Kathmandu can be really fascinating.
Multiple modern buildings juxtaposed against temples and shrines, and the narrow roads zig-zagging all around them.
Ecofriendly leaf bowls in assorted sizes. They also have a dried version of these leaf bowls.

We also visited Durbar Square, which is located in front of the previous Royal Palace. The buildings here are built by Newari craftsmen and the intricate architecture is really amazing.
I cannot imagine the amount of time it takes to carve all the wooden screens and stone blocks (also I cannot imagine what it would be like having to clean each hole in the wooden screen everyday)
Inside the Kumari Ga, which is where the Virgin Goddess lives. Spent the time in Nepal reading lots of books (the bookstores here are amazing - extremely affordable print - I read more books here than I read in the last whole year...). I bought this book, which is a autobiography of Rashmila Shakya, one of the ex-Kumaris. It's a really easy and entertaining read, and explains the intricacies of being a Kumari, which was previously shrouded in mystery. 

The Nyatapola temple is a 5 storied pagoda. The statues on the staircase up are arranged according to strength - with man at eh bottom, followed by an elephant, gorilla etc It's a steep climb up, which wasn't made any easier as there were lots of tourists and some goats

Potter at the pottery square in Bhaktapur. This is a manually spun pottery wheel - the potter uses a stick to spin the wheel, and subsequently make his money bank.

Of course being touristy, my friend was very happy to try her hand at making a ash tray (after that she needed lots of wet wipes).
The finished product - a money bank, drying in the sun.
The multiple lines of pots/bowls lined in the sun to dry, before they are transferred to the oven. 
Lots of craftmen (and women)selling their ware
The open oven, where the pots are place in and covered with lots of straw and heated.

I can't remember which temple this was - saw so many until I was confused.
There's a portion of Durbar square that is overpopulated with its and lots of pigeons. I don't know why people keep feeding them - I'm sure that there would be an outbreak of some avian-bourne disease soon.
The other side of the pigeon-infested square
Strawberries - lots and lots of them. I didn't get a chance to buy them though cos we weren't going back to the hotel and I didn't want to drag them around the whole day.
We also visited the Bouddhanath Stupa which is one of the largest stupas in the world. The dome of the stupa has a lily pattern, and there are many multicolour prayer flags hanging from it, which makes for nice photos.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Nirai Kanai - Okinawan food at Liang Court

 Okinawa is a place in Japan which has been on my to-visit list for the longest time, especially cos I want to see the aquarium (I love looking at animals but don't like being out in the sun, so aquariums are perfect). I must say that I have never really eaten Okinawan food  before, so I was pretty glad that someone suggested this restaurant. Of course, while waiting for everyone to arrive, we spoilt our appetites eating cream puffs from the restaurant directly opposite the diner, as well as giving into temptation and eating Japanese curry rice from the food court in Mediya :/
The quintessential Okinawan dish - Champon which consists of bitter gourd and tofu, stir fried with pork belly. I found the dish slightly too salty for my taste (though I do understand that the Japanese like their food salty). It was well executed - hardly any bitterness from the bitter gourd and very tasty.
 The tomato salad was very refreshing - lots of sweet cherry tomatoes lightly dressed and lots of salad leaves.
 Eggplant and minced meat stew - most of us found the eggplant slightly undercooked, and were not used to it cos the usual eggplant we get locally are usually cooked to death and mushy. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be like that?
 I think this was the skewered chicken thigh which was really delicious. I think someone was full so I got to eat double my portion ;D
 The star dish of the day - was the roasted pork ribs with cartilage. Can you imagine the cartilage cooked until it was oozingly soft just like jelly. Plus it was well marinated and slightly charred. Mmmm I will go back just to have this dish!
Stewed pork belly - not a fan of pork belly. The sauce is slightly sweetish and the carrots are stewed until soft. Everyone else loved this so I think I'm just an anomaly. 

 We had to eat some carbs, so this chilled ramen was perfect for sharing and ending off the meal.

Even though we ate so much, I think the bill was about $30 per person (without alcohol), which I think is a very very decent price considering what we ate. Will definitely come back.
We adjourned to the desert store above for some Bandung and green tea chiffon cake. Perhaps it was diminishing returns but then I didn't find either cake particularly mindblowing. Though I must confess that I was super stuffed from dinner and my pre dinner snack...

Nirai Kani 
177 River Valley Road
Singaproe 179030
Tel 6339 4811
I would highly recommend you to call and make a booking - the restaurant initially looked empty but it was really full by the time we left at about 830pm

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Saveur Art

Ok long hiatus again. I'm still drafting my other posts so I've decided to post a new place worth of mentioning. Most people will be familiar with the Saveur group, which is well known for its affordable French food, as well as Concertto, the sister restaurant which serves Italian food. 

Saveur Art is the more atas version of that. It serves a 4 course dinner for $59++
Do note that I went a few months back, and they have changed their menu 
Starter - I can't really remember what this was but it was some cracker with squid ink.
The table setting
Second starter - some mushroom soup which was not bad
Added a foie gras - comes with pickled pink radishes, and radish broth
Pretty average - I prefer my foie gras pan seared.
Egg Confit with roasted macadamia nuts and brown butter
Very creamy and delicious! I really liked the different textures of the crispy stuff and the light foam and the creamy eggs.
Slow cooked cod in olive  with fresh baby squids, artichoke and paprika foam
It's a tiny piece of cod, but it's well done and I liked all the other bits of stuff on the plate.
Asian spiced braised short ribs with rosemary crumbs, apples and organic baby carrots which I did not eat (choose either this or the pigeon for the main)
Roasted French Pigeon with beetroot and pickled morel mushrooms
Tiny pigeon - I think without the starters and the additional cheese platter, I might not be full
Chocolate and pistachio - Guanaja Fondant, Tanariva mousse, Ivory espuma, Araguani chips and pistachio ice cream.
I think this should have a little blurb with an explanation of all the things I cannot pronounce. I'm not a big fan of chocolate desserts, so I wasn't particularly crazy over this dish.
 For cheese lovers - I will highly recommend that you top up $14 for an extra cheese platter. Their usual ala carte price is $24 so you're saving $10 bucks/ And the cheese is pretty darn good!

For the number of dishes, it is pretty affordable, but I would have much preferred it if there were slightly larger portions. Other than that, no issues with the reservation/service/food quality.

Saveur Art 
Ion Orchard
Tel 66341141

Saturday, March 7, 2015


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sushi Mitsuya Lunch

I've had the pleasure of dining at Sushi Mitsuya quite a few times since they first opened. Having lunch there  is really exciting as I always get to try new fish that I've never had before. Usually, I'll try to go during different seasons, so that I can try different kinds of fish. I usually go for the Ichie (entry level lunch set at about $70) because I'm feel too poor to indulge in anything else, and eating lunch there is an indulgence by itself already... Being the last minute person I am, I tried to book lunch on the day itself and to my horror it was nearly full! Managed to snag the last lunch seats there. Whew!

 Vegetables marinated in tofu and sesame sauce
 Short goldfish memory - can't remember what this was if I'm not wrong it's pickled sardine?
 Sea goby
 Scallop with black salt
 Baby snapper - it's called Hime Kodai in Japanese
Bland tasting whitefish
 Glass fish - I thought this was really interesting - it's similar to the baby fish that we usual fry in the egg, slightly slimy and a bit crunchy (I'm guessing the crunch comes from the skull or eyeballs here) and lightly marinated. I liked the way that it was moulded into a little mound on top of the sushi rice.
 Big prawn that has been marinated in egg yolk and vinegar - just noticed for the first time that they slice it into two if you're female and leave it as a whole if you're male (sneakily peeping at what other people around me are eating hehe)
 I think this was Aji (but I'm not too sure, I didn't write it down and can't remember now!:/)
 Akame (lean tuna) which was lightly brushed with sauce
 Their signature Osaka style bo sea eel  sushi
Light clear broth to end the meal
 6 pieces of assorted maki - with pickles and cucumber
 Dessert was red bean cake and pomelo
The lunch will not make you feel uncomfortably full - most of the time if I'm not exceptionally famished, this will leave me feeling about 80% full (which is supposed to be the correct level of fullness) but since lunches are rare, I usually fill the extra 20% of stomach space with dessert.

Of course, dessert is Tsujiri at the nearby 100am mall.

You can check out my other posts where I got to try different kinds of fish :
Barachirashi set lunch
4th November 2013
26th November 2013 

Hmm I actually went a few more times in between then and now but I think I was too lazy to blog... Can't remember what I ate anymore T-T

Sushi Mitsuya
60 Tras Street
#01-10 Singapore 078999
Tel 64382608
*Do call for reservations as seating is limited