Monday, June 30, 2014

Salisbury 2014

 The last time I went for a proper holiday was not too long ago (even though it feels like eons) but the last longish (>3 days) holiday I had was last year.

So I went to London for a miserable 4.5 days and very nearly died when I came home and started work immediately. But it cured my jet lag instantly and my sleep cycle was right back to Singapore time the next day.
 Quaint little towns (this is near Manor House, which I will blog about later)
Salisbury Cathedral
 Salisbury Cathedral, where one of the four existing copies of the Magna Carta
We went for part of the cathedral floor tour - only thing that I remember was that they were really practical - when the stained glass made the place too dark, they knocked it out so it would be brighter.
 Another view of the cathedral. Whenever I go to all these places, I will invariably associate it with Game of Thrones (since its the only TV show I watch now, as a recovered TV and movie addict).
 Awesome scenery and weather (I was told it was lousy weather the whole week before I came), and it was much hotter than I expected.
I've done one driving trip (Malaysia is not counted) prior to this. The only tips I have is to invest in a good car (seriously! You'll be driving it the whole time for more than 3/4 of the day) and a good GPS (we used Tomtom, which has the map for the whole of Europe too). Anyway, since this was like super short 3 day 2 night trip out of London with the main aim of seeing the Stonehenge, it wasn't too much more expensive to get a relatively nicer car (and bigger boot space for my huge luggage).
So we saw the Stonehenge, which is the main thing that we wanted to see, and it was darn cloudy when I took this picture.

According to my mum, when we visited like 26 years ago, there was no visitors centre, no barriers etc etc so we went all the way up right next to the stones and took a photo (need to rummage around to find the photo, which I will upload when I find it). 
The clouds cleared when we went to Avebury stone circle, which is an extension of the Stonehenge
 And of course it was perfect weather when we went to see the Woodhenge.
 This sheep is super cute chilling under the shade (cos its so hot!) There's lots of sheep droppings and sheep fluff around the whole field.
 More sheep and rocks
 Awesome driving conditions and lots of fresh air. (I'm hiding in my air-conditioned room as I write this).
We stayed at this charming little B&B called Cricket Field House. Which has a nice garden, pond, 2 dogs and a lot of ducks. 
This was the day we checked in, super cloudy but it cleared up soon after. And this is the cricket field that the B&B overlooks (taken from my room window). 
Breakfast included 
Choice of cereals, preserved fruit, nuts and berries.  
The breakfast cereal spread

And a traditional English breakfast (including black sausage, see 11 o'clock)
Smoked salmon and eggs. The mushrooms here are fantastic - super fresh and tasty
 Little flower garden where the rooms are.

 This is Snoopy who is one of the most affectionate dogs I've ever met - the owners saved him from a premature death when he was just a puppy, and he thinks he's a human so he sits on the chair at the reception to welcome guests.
More posts on the food later!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Platypus Food Bar - NUS Science

I was back in NUS for 2 weeks for a course, and discovered Platypus Food Bar. It now occupies the same spot that Megabytes used to be. They have a small concise menu, and most people come here for their salads.
Platypus Food Bar specialises in salads for the non vegetarian salad eater. It's a simple concept - where you choose your bowl size - $5.50 for a small bowl, $7.50 for a medium bowl (with 2 premium meats and 1 regular meat) or a large bowl for $9.50. I ate the medium bowl every time I went there cos it was just the right size (for me at least).

The salad base is a mixture of salad leaves (not just your plain old butterhead/romaine/iceberg, but a proper mix of different leaves), and then you choose your dressing - I like the honey miso so I stuck with it throughout being the unadventurous person I am, but apparently the tokyo sesame was pretty good too. The other choices are sweet lemon and seville orange, both of which I do not eat.
]They also have toppings for the salad - usually its' marinated tomato and pasta (of which, you can request for more at no additional charge). I like their tomatoes a lot cos they're marinated and aren't sour at all.
You then have a choice of premium meats - some choices would be poached salmon, chorizo, meatballs (either chicken or beef), new potatoes etc. The choices change daily so it's always interesting.

The regular meats are usually chorizo sausage, chicken breast, turkey with beans etc.
I usually go for the salmon x2 servings and for the chicken or sausage if it's available.

They should totally open a branch at my workplace, it's in dire need of better food!

Platypus Food Bar
NUS Science Canteen

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ma Maison Tonkatsu

I'm not the most enlightened person when it comes to Tonkatsu (Japanese pork cutlets), but I'm pretty sure that Ma Maison Tonkatsu ranks highly on everyone's list  (hah! I checked trip advisor that's why I know). Prior to this, I've been going to Tampopo (which I haven't been to for the last few years cos it somehow fell off my radar) and to Saboten once. 
There's another branch at Mandarin Gallery, but the one I went to was at JEM. I even went 2x in one month so that I could try different cuts of the pork and compare, and the food quality was consistent both times. 
The menu is really fuss free and simple to choose from - since they specialise in pork cutlets, there isn't much else to choose (just like how I go to eat fish in some fancy beef restaurant lol).

The pork cutlet set comes with rice (choice of white or brown), pickles, soup and cabbage. The rice, soup and cabbage are refillable. Special mention about the soup - not your ordinary miso soup but a robust soup full of daikon, carrots, onions, minced pork etc. Every time I go there I will drink at least 2 bowls cos it's so tasty (but it's rather salty too).
The photos look the same but actually, they are not! The Kurobuta was the most tender of the lot, but for the $10 price difference, I would be hard pressed to get it again. I personally think their average classic pork chop would suffice. But if your calories are extremely precious, don't sting and go for the best!

Condiments for the pork chop - choice of either spicy or normal tonkotsu sauce, and there's sesame salad dressing in the background. There's also sesame seeds to bring out the flavour of the pork chop.
 Mielle Feuille pork cutlet with cheese($23.80++) which had lots of melted cheese inside.
 Stringy cheese that's Japan Hour worthy. I personally prefer biting down into a juicy pork chop so I didn't order this after the first time, but for those people who like something softer, do try the mielle feuille pork.
 We tried the crab croquette once, but it wasn't particularly remarkable and I think the pork cutlets already overshot our fried food quota for the month.
 Plum wine jelly to complete the meal

Service here is really good - twice I went on a Saturday for lunch, and even though they were severely understaffed, they were very efficient, quick and cheerful.

Tonkatsu by Ma Maison
JEM Mall

Friday, June 20, 2014

Chop House

Had free tickets to watch X-men DOFP so we hurried down after work to grab a bite to eat. We weren't very inspired by the food choices at Vivo, so we decided to try Chop House, because there was no queue, was relatively empty, and had affordable prices.

It's opened by the same company as Wooloomoolo, and serves steaks (not that I've tried, but my friends say it's pretty good).
 The chicken tortillas - which was really quite good (or perhaps I was hungry) - well marinated minced chicken stuffed in a piping hot tortilla with accompanying sour cream, salsa and guacamole.
 I had the chicken guacamole burger, which was really quite decent for the price and the portion. Toasted buttered sesame bun, a good serving of guacamole, oozy cheese and grilled chicken. The tater tots are really addictive.
If I'm not wrong, this was the pork burger - it's not bad but it was made from minced pork, as compared to the chicken burger, which is made from a whole chicken breast.
Ugly BBQ chicken burger, but tastes good
The burgers all came with a trio of condiments - there was sweet onion relish, beetroot and some other sauce ( I think it was mustard?), and I really liked the onion and beetroot. The burgers are around the low $20s each. But I think if you're on a tight budget, skip this and go to Carl's Junior for a fraction of the price. 
Will definitely consider Chop House when I'm in a rush for dinner the next time I'm at Vivocity.

The Chop House
VivoCity #01-161-162
Tel 63769262

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Abe's Diner

I saw lots of good reviews online about Abe's Diner so I was really excited to try it. It was supposed to be a really authentic small and cosy Japanese restaurant with reasonable prices. Well, I don't know that other online sources mean by 'reasonable prices' but it looks like Abe's diner has been hit by inflation, cos I didn't think the meal was particularly cheap or exceptionally good in terms of quality of food, but then again, I might be biased cos of the crappy service.

There were a few dinner sets to choose from and we went with the cod and the chicken karaage sets, which cost around $60-$70.
 Green tea, which was charged quite a ridiculous sum (I'm pretty sure that it was >$2 for this)

Trio of appetisers - the boiled octopus was average, the spinach with sesame sauce good cos the sauce was thick and had a strong sesame aroma and taste, and some preserved vegetable thingy which was forgettable.
 Sashimi - which had absolutely no quality control - 3 of our plates came with sword fish and one with salmon. When we enquired about this, they just brushed us off and said that it depends on the chef??? What kind of retarded explanation is that?
 We also got an additional sashimi salad, which was not bad, but it wasn't very cheap either.
 Some cooked fish dish, which was average.
 Tempura - prawn, fish , and vegetables
The main dish - which was grilled cod. The rice was good - short grained, glossy and sticky. Miso soup above average. The cod was rather small. I think this cost about $60-70 before taxes and before my ridiculously expensive green tea. 

The service here is really disappointing - instead of a nice homey diner that I was expecting, the service was so damn rushed that I felt that I was eating at Tim Ho Wan instead of a Japanese restaurant. Seriously, save yourself some money and go somewhere else. The food's average but the service is disgusting - they can't seem to wait for you to finish before clearing off the plates - and it was not like there was a queue outside. 

 Couldn't wait to get out of the restaurant, so we went over to Drips for desserts, which we could finally eat at our own leisurely pace. The chocolate banana tart is packed full of ripe bananas, with a super gao chocolate base
 We had the cherry tart and the almond tart - cherry tart is pretty good!
Sticky cinnamon roll - it isn't as good as Cinnabon, but since there's no Cinnabon here, this would suffice whenever I have a cinnamon roll craving.

Abe's Diner
42 Eng Hoon Street 
Singapore 169785

Drips Bakery Cafe
82 Tiong Poh Road
Singapore 160082