Thursday, 31 March 2011

R.I.P Mr Tng

It is my habit to scan the Obituary section of the papers every morning. So far, I've discovered that two of my school mates had died. Both were very outstanding individuals. One was a doctor who died of cancer while the other was a CEO who died while undergoing liposuction.

Today, I was shocked to see Mr Tng's face in the Obituary. He was one of the nicest men I've ever known. He was the form teacher of both my kids in primary school.

During the parent-teacher meetings, he had only good words to say about my kids. He was always so encouraging and understanding, all the kids in school liked him. He was my children's favourite teacher.

During the last 2 years, I bumped into him several times in our neighbouring food centre. He appeared to have lost quite a lot of weight but was still jolly as usual. I remember vividly how he was beaming with pride when he introduced his little baby son to me.

When I told my kids about his passing, they were both very shocked and sad. I feel especially sorry for his little son who has lost his father at such a tender age.

At 39, Mr Tng left the world too early but he had touched the lives of many young boys. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Ayam penyet dinner

I think I've found it! The restaurant in Lucky Plaza that serves the 'best' ayam penyet and tauhu telor, according to YK. He was supposed to bring me there last year, but our plan was ruined by a flood in Orchard Road.

Since I was at Lucky Plaza this evening, I decided to try my luck. When I saw the words "Ayam Penget" on the signboard of Resto Surabaya (unit #02-63), I was quite certain I had hit the jackpot. It was also the restaurant that was most crowded, so I can't be wrong.

Naturally I ordered the famous Ayam Penget Kremes Surabaya. It was the best I had ever eaten! The deep fried chicken was juicy, flavourful and tender. It was cook so well that the meat simply falls off the bone. It was served with fried toufu and tempeh (fermented soy bean cake). The really spicy chilli sauce is one of the highlights of the dish.

I enjoyed the meal so much, I wished that the serving was bigger. When I googled about the restaurant, I found a really good review by our local papers. I'm definitely going back for more.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Change is good

Afer driving my car for six whole years, I felt a little sorry to let it go. It had been my most loyal companion. The sadness vanished when I took over its shiny cousin, a younger and bigger used RAV4 that looks almost brand new inside and out.

I brought it home on Monday but didn't tell SK about it. As we were walking towards the car the next day, he said, "Somehow, your car logo looks different."


He likes the car, especially how nice and clean it is compared to our old one. I'm pleased with it as well. While it is not as agile as my old car, it offers a smoother ride.

Something else is happening. We're moving to a new office next month. Packing will begin soon. I'm quite excited about the move to a younger building. The office is further from my house but just a stone's throw away from my best friend's office. She will be my new lunch companion.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Fantastic night out

It is easy to understand why The Lion King Musical is a multiple award winning show. Everything about it is brilliant - from the costumes to the effects and music! We enjoyed every bit of it. The only grouse was our seats (ticket price $125) were too far away. For the best view, be prepared to pay for the $185 ticket!

Prior to the show, we had a bite at Korean burger chain, Kraze Burgers, at Marina Bay Sands. It was our first time eating at Kraze. Our friends, who frequent this chain in Korea, claim that the quality of food is far better in Korea.

They're famous for their burgers. The bun is baked in-house and the patty is made using the finest Australian whole chuck roll. It doesn't matter to me as I don't fancy beef.

We had the Chili fries, a mouth watering Texas Chili, blend of cheese and chopped onions over Crinkle cut Fries.

We shared a cajun chicken salad.

I ordered a club sandwich - grilled chicken, fried egg, bacon and greens between wholewheat bread, while the rest of my friends had a burger each.

After the musical, we stopped at Darcis for coffee. The owner Jean-Philippe Darcis, with a string of prestigious awards under his belt, is famous for his chocolate creations and dessert.

He wasn't there that night but he has trained his staff well. Just look at the coffee art!

The macaroons were a little disappointing. They were chewy and tough. We were told they were imported from Belgium. They might taste better if they were baked here.

The decor at Darcis is posh. I love the plush seats and cute wall covering.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Singapore's last kampong

We've heard so much about the last kampong still standing in land-scarce Singapore, and I've always wanted to visit before it disappears. We finally made the trip last Saturday.

Kampong Lorong Buangkok is a rustic village tucked away in a small corner near Hougang, surrounded by modern factory buildings, HDB flats and landed properties.

With chickens and dogs roaming freely along the dusty tracks leading to wooden houses with zinc roofs, the little kampong looks like a place that is trapped in time.

The visit brought back childhood memories of our village in Lim Chu Kang. Unlike the houses that are clustered together tightly here, most of us lived in a sprawling estate full of fruit trees, vegetable plots, wells and ponds. The houses were far apart yet everyone knew each other. The camaraderie was strong and we all looked out for each other. This is what the kampong life was all about.

Sadly, with urbanisation, the kampong spirit is no longer alive in Singapore. Well, except for Lorong Buangkok. Here, the villagers leave their main doors open though the houses are not fenced in or gated. This tightly knit community comprises 10 Malay and 18 Chinese households living in harmony.

I spotted two fengshui lions at the entrance of the village.

A cluster of laughing Buddhas near the entrance.

Track leading to the village.

Big bananas in someone's backyard.

A typical kampong house.

Boots drying in the sun.

Ferns growing on the roof of an abandoned house.

Rusty fence.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Young Rusty

Came across some old photos of young Rusty. He was cute as a button!

His fur used to be so white.

San luo hor fun

When Steph told me she was making ABC soup in my kitchen last week, I was expecting a pot of alphabet soup. Then I saw the ingredients - potatoes, tomatoes, onions, pineapple and lean pork - and wondered why ABC?

None of my friends knew the answer. Could the soup be rich in vitamins A, B and C? Perhaps it is so simple to put together, it's like as easy as ABC?

I heard it is readily available at our food centres yet how can I not know of its existence? Perhaps I don't eat out often enough.

Just two days ago, while I was out for dinner with my aunt, she was surprised that I had not heard of 'san luo hor fun'. We had it for dinner and I liked it so much, I recreated the dish at home tonight.

I couldn't find any recipes online, so I created my own. It's a very healthy and delicious dish.

Bean sprouts
Spring onions
Fish slices (I used snakehead, sheng yu)
Fresh prawns
Ginger (few slices)
Shallots (peeled and sliced)
Minced garlic
Flat rice noodles
Chicken stock
Dash of pepper
Light soy sauce
Corn starch
Vegetable oil

Heat a tablespoon of oil in pan. Fry (half) sliced shallots and garlic until fragrant. Add in noodles and fry for a few minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil in pan. Fry (the rest of) shallots and garlic until fragrant. Add in fish and prawns. Stir fry for a minute, then pour in chicken stock.

When the mixture is boiling, add in spring onions and bean sprouts. Stir in cornstarch to thicken the gravy. Season with pepper and soy sauce. To serve, dish over the pre-cooked noodles.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Rusty & friend

My friends were over at my house over the weekend. Rusty received loads of love from everyone, especially Kay. Here he is, looking quite helpless.

Life in the fast lane

I haven't been blogging much. Some friends thought I'm missing YK too much to blog. Well, not really.

We've been communicating via email. He worries about his marine fishes but otherwise, he's having a great time. He loves the cool weather and company of new friends. Food is cheap and plentiful around the campus. It's cherry blossom season and the trees are bursting with flowers. I wish I were there too!

We are having swimming lessons tonight. This will be our 3rd lesson. We are swimmers, so don't ask me why we're taking lessons! CH wishes to improve his strokes while I'm just there to accompany him. Our swimming instructor is tanned and good looking, except he's young enough to be my son. The rest of the students (all men) are beginners. The lessons are quite fun actually. The best part is, I get an hour of exercise in the pool.

Yesterday, I walked into a car showroom and got myself a car, exactly the same colour and model as my old one. I tend to be quite casual about buying cars. I see, I like and I buy. It has always been like that. It isn't exactly the best time to buy cars but my old one has been giving me problems lately, I don't want to risk getting stranded on the highway.

I haven't told anyone about the purchase yet. I'm waiting to see if SK can tell the difference when he sees the car in a day or two. I want to be discreet and hopes nobody notices I've changed my car.

My friends and I are going to see The Lion King (Musical) this Friday night. I was very impressed with the 30-minute version at Disneyland Hong Kong, so I'm sure the real deal will not disappoint. The fact that it is performing at Marina Bay Sands makes it even more exciting. This will be my first visit to Singapore's newest and most glamorous playgound!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

True Blue Cuisine

Our friend Chris loves Peranakan food. He has been to all the major Peranakan restaurants in Singapore except for this highly acclaimed and award-winning one called True Blue Cuisine.

During the week, excitement was building up as we exchanged emails about dining at True Blue on Friday. Alas, the restaurant was fully booked. Just as we were about to look elsewhere for our Peranakan fix, Chris called to say he managed to secure a booking at 6.30pm. It was a bit of a rush for everyone but I must say it was worth it.

The beautifully decorated restaurant with many awards adorning the wall was empty when we arrived, leaving us a little puzzled. Halfway through our meal, groups of important looking people in power suits started streaming in. They were attending dinner hosted by a bank. We felt like intruders in a private party. Can you see the bankers behind us?

We let Chris, the Peranakan foodie do the ordering. He over-ordered as usual, and we ate until we were bursting. Dinner for four came up to S$300. I was hoping the rich bankers behind could pick up the tab.

During dinner, he revealed that he first laid eyes on his wife during a company dinner at Blue Ginger Peranakan Restaurant some eight years ago. He was so captivated by her beauty, he couldn't take his eyes off her. When he discovered she was a colleague from Seoul, he set his heart on wooing her. As we all know, long-distance relationship can be very difficult but they're blissfully married now.

I think eating Peranakan food brings him happy memories of their courtship. They're a really sweet couple and we always enjoy sharing a meal with them.

In my opinion, True Blue at Armenian Street serves one of the best Peranakan (Straits Chinese) food in Singapore. Every dish that we ate was excellent, except for the Itek (duck) soup which was a little too bland for my liking. When I make this dish at home, I load it with ingredients so that the soup is robust and flavourful.

Then again, True Blue's light and refreshing version (below) was just right for that night, as an accompainment to the other rich dishes that we ordered.

Itek Soup (kiam chye duck).

The curry prawn was the most expensive dish that night. Each portion (one large shrimp) costs $15.

The robust ayam buah keluak curry served in a pretty pot was the best I have ever eaten. We also ordered beef rendang (in the background).

Luckily the ngoh hiang came in small portions.

The pomelo salad was delicious and refreshing! The succulent and sweet pulp went very well with the tangy dressing.

Banana blossom salad was another winner!

Sambal kang kong.

Spicy clams.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is one of our favourite hangouts. The mangroves remind me of my childhood home which incidentally, was located along the tributary just a few kilometres upstream.

I brought SK and his friend there last weekend. Thankfully the weather was cool and pleasant in the morning. It can get really humid and muggy in the reserve.

Here are some photos captured using my mobile phone. I'm quite impressed with the picture quality.

The tide was low that morning.

See the buildings in the background? That's Johor, Malaysia.

The boardwalk leading to the reserve.

Trees in the mangroves are able to grow in anaerobic, high salinity, waterlogged mud.

The reserve is home to an amazing diversity of plants and animals. Birdwatchers flock there to catch a glimpse of seabirds and shorebirds. We weren't too surprised to hear wings flapping just above our heads. It could be an eagle or egret.

When we realised it was a hornbill, we were so excited. We've seen the elusive otters here before but the hornbill sighting was a first for us.

It sat on the branches just metres away, preening its feathers for a long time while we watched, fascinated and awe-struck. SK managed to capture some photos using a proper camera.

Besides a large number of birds, we saw many huge monitor lizards.

A heavily bloated one. Might have just eaten a chicken or bird.

This lizard had some duckweed on its back.

Plenty of mudskippers here.

A large grasshopper.

The spider with 3 missing legs.

Tiny mangrove crab.

Flies resting beneath leaves.