July 31, 2011

Happy birthday in advance to me!

As I am flying off in a bit to do a site inspection trip to Jeju in Korea, we held an early birthday party for me this evening.

The in-laws came over and so did my folks. I had requested Mummy to make her mee siam which I hadn't had in ages, and my wish was granted.

Nick supplemented the food with popiah and chicken wings from Qiji. Swana supplied cake from Four Leaves and the kids had a ball blowing out the candles.

My top was a pressie from Ben and Wendy, Sasha wore a new jumpsuit and exclaimed 'wow' when she looked down at her outfit!

Am glad we got to take a family picture too, gotta do one every year!

It was a simple celebration but as one gets older, one is less inclined to celebrate. 33 in a few days, am I considered mid-thirties now or still early-thirties?

July 30, 2011

Riley's Fourth Fairy Firthday Farty

Riley turned 4 yesterday and to celebrate, her parents threw a fairy-themed party at Savannah CondoPark.

Dubbed Riley's Fourth Fairy Firthday Farty, we almost didn't make it because of the girls' constant pooping but they went less frequently today so we decided to go ahead.

Food was from Lerk Thai and super spicy! Riley got dressed all in white with wings etc, like a little fairy bride! Even Reagan sported wings...we left ours at home.

Jeanette organised some craft games which included wand-making and DIY bracelets. Nat had fun playing with the glitter glue, her wand was mostly my work.

Cake was a coconut and red velvet affair that Jeanette made, it was prettily decorated with butterflies.

Nat has requested a Hi-5 party for when she turns 4 but we'll see about that...

July 29, 2011

Catching up over crabs

The crab craving I have been harbouring for a while now has been momentarily satisfied, thanks to a Jumbo dinner with the SSC folks.

At the dinner were Wai Ling, Roger, Parames, Amy, Suhana and Jenny who was the one who initiated it to begin with. Jenny even brought the office pets!

Between us we had 2 chili crabs and 1 black pepper, 2 servings of salted egg yolk prawns, garlic fried chicken, kailan, scallop in mini yam baskets, you tiao, braised beancurd etc. Everything was good, can't go wrong with Jumbo!

It was great seeing everyone, especially to listen to SSC news and other stat board and ministerial gossip.

We adjourned to the next door Harry's for drinks, but I left after gulping my Shirley Temple as Nick came to pick me up to head to KKH. Nat has been having diarrhea and today was especially bad, he had already brought her in this morning but wanted to get a more instant cure.

In the end, we got as far as the triage. He changed his mind after the nurse assured him Nat was well enough.

Sasha's been pooping too, I think they both have some kind of rotavirus. But at least they are happy and playing still and hydrated.

July 25, 2011

N is for...

...No Menu.

Wait, you must be thinking what happened to 'M'? Well the boy was in my neighbourhood today and suggested lunch at the last minute.

After deliberating on what to eat and as we walked down Boon Tat Street towards a Bak Kut Teh stall, he mentioned there was a nice Italian restaurant next door, having been brought there by an agent.

I didn't hesitate in suggesting we eat there as an alphabet date instead and swop M for N first because No Menu has been on my list of places to try since it opened, and the dope had beaten me to it unknowingly!

Run by the Forlino family, where the head chef who was behind Forlino and Osvaldo left his namesakes to open a new restaurant with his daughters, No Menu is a cosy little restaurant which actually has a menu but their speciality is an 8-course degustation menu.

We didn't have much time and opted for the ala carte instead. He had a minestrone soup and fettuccine with salami and pepperoncino (looked like mee pok!) and I opted for pumpkin soup and one of the daily specials, linguine with king prawns.

I forgot to ask how much it was, turned out to be a whopping $48 which I found a tad pricey for 2 large prawns and tomato pasta, though they were good prawns!

Before the soups arrived, we were served an amuse bouche of polenta with amatriciana sauce, have to admit it was seriously tasty and I wouldn't have minded a main course out of it.

I think we have to go back for the degustation menu to try more dishes but then I am quite picky about certain foods and am not sure if everything will be palatable to me...will save it for a special occasion!

July 21, 2011

Racial Harmony Day

Today was Racial Harmony Day and I swung by the girls' school during my lunchtime to check out the tots in their traditional wear.

Gigi was too cute in her punjabi suit, I called her Gigi Kaur!

Nat wore a pink lengha and I think she fancied herself a princess!

They are settling well into school, no more tantrums about not wanting to go and I think they actually look forward to going each day, though Nat seems to be falling sick more often, but I expected that.

On a separate note, discovered a new place for lunch yesterday, called Urban Bites on Telok Ayer Street. My colleague had suggested a Middle Eastern place he heard about and so we went to check it out.

It was crowded, but the set meals were cheap and good. About $10-12 for kebabs, rice, soup, felafel, hummus and dessert. I think I will be back pretty often!

July 17, 2011

A Taste of Tokyo (Day 5, 16 July 2011)

Am back in Singapore and a little zonked, having landed just before 3am this morning.

We had a good last day in Tokyo yesterday, spending the morning walking to the Tsukiji Market where all the seafood is traded daily, and as the Japanese eat a lot of fish, you can imagine how busy the market must be at its peak times.

We got there after all the major action had taken place though, most vendors were packing up. Still saw some fish and on the way out, I saw an edamame plant which I was excited about!

From the market, we walked to the nearby Hamarikyu Gardens but decided against paying the admission to go in and continued on in search of food. We ended up in a business area within Shiodome, and managed to find our way back to Shimbashi to eat some ramen.

First we had to purchase the tickets from the vending machines, that took a while to figure out though! The noodles were alright, I was feeling to gastricky to enjoy them.

Then we went back to the hotel to check out and after dumping our bags, we walked to Ginza to do last minute shopping. We split up so we could each do our own thing, I went to H&M, Zara and Uniqlo and picked up a bunch of stuff. On Saturdays, the main road is closed so it was converted to a large pedestrian walkway, which was nice.

Had a quick lunch at a restaurant called Ginza Lion around the corner from our hotel and then it was off to the airport. Picked up some boxes of Royce and Tokyo Banana, plus a gift from Muji for Nick and then here we are...home sweet home!

July 15, 2011

A Taste of Tokyo (Day 4, 15 July 2011)

A fruitful day indeed!

Despite the runny nose and fever, I dragged myself on a half day city tour, spacing out during the bus rides! Joanne and I had signed up for a morning tour that took us to Tokyo Tower, Imperial Palace Plaza and Asakusa Temple.

We boarded a Hato bus from a little terminal in Hamamatsucho and our guide's name was Junko, who spoke with an American accent.

First stop was Tokyo Tower, not as pretty as the Eiffel and certainly the view is vastly different, but still good for a 360 perspective of Tokyo. Unfortunately it was too hazy to see Mt Fuji in the distance but the other important districts were pointed out to us.

Then it was off to the Imperial Palace but just from the outside, and a short 15 min stop. Frankly I can't remember what we were looking at, there were tales of the Edo era and shoguns and samurais and that's all I recall!

Last stop was Asakusa Temple, a large Buddhist monument in the Ueno area. We strolled along the numerous shops lining the temple entrance, it was freaking hot today! Took lots of pictures with the bright red lanterns and I offered some coins and made a wish. Interesting fact we found out was that Canon is named after the Goddess of Mercy Kannon in Japan, which is essentially Kuan Yin!

The bus drove through Akihabara on the way back, famous for electronic goods and girls dressed as maids, we spied a couple handing out fliers.

The drop off point was Tokyo Station and our plan was to catch a highway bus to the Gotemba Premium Outlet. Unfortunately the earliest ones were full and we had to wait for a 1.40pm one and so we had lunch in between at a nearby basement restaurant. Food was sucky though, maybe because I wasn't feeling well.

The ride to Gotemba took almost 2hrs, the things we do for shopping! Ray was pretty cranky on the bus, I pitied the other passengers! From the bus station that we got off, there was a shuttle to the outlet and we got there around 4pm and immediately booked places for a 7pm bus that went direct to Shinjuku and took 90mins.

With 3 hours to shop, we wasted no time going in and out of stores, picking up stuff from Gap, Burberry, Gucci and Fendi - well, I did anyway! Joanne was a bit more disciplined and only bought a couple of things.

All the big brand name boutiques had a presence, Bottega, Prada, YSL, Dior, Ferragamo, Tods etc. Prices are not that cheap, but still cheaper than retail.

What's nice about Gotemba is that it's near Mt Fuji, so we got a free view of the mountain but with the mist and haze, we mainly saw a silhouette.

Back in Shinjuku, it was a race against time to find the H&M outlet (with kids stuff) before they closed. Though we were starving, we shopped first as we only had an hour before it closed. From there, we took a train back to Ginza and had some fast food rice and noodles. My udon was unexpectedly the cold type, luckily I had rice too.

As we were tired, we took a cab back even though the hotel was within walking distance...turned out to be a 200m ride, ha ha!

July 14, 2011

A Taste of Tokyo (Day 3, 14 July 2011)

Uggh, I am sick. From out of nowhere I appear to have caught a flu bug, am all shivery with fever and my nose is dripping. Nat and Nick are sick at home too, so it must be linked.

Started off the day well enough, the event went smoothly...we got a number of leads. Had a simple lunch of teriyaki chicken and rice with my colleagues Reiko and Timothee, even tried konnyaku in a gel form, it was in my soup. Very rubbery and tasteless.

As the afternoon wore on, I felt cold and my head heavy but I stuck it out at the event nonetheless. My Japanese sales manager then invited the team to dinner and I felt it rude to decline so Nori-san, Wankyu, Timothee, Veronique and I went to a traditional tempura restaurant, near Nihombashi bridge.

Incidentally the bridge is the 0km point of Tokyo where distance is calculated, pity that it's covered by a highway overhead.

The dinner itself was an enjoyable affair, though I was freezing in the restaurant. There was just one cook and he prepared all the ingredients himself, dipping the seafood and vegetables in batter and deep-frying course by course, so it took quite a while to finish the meal.

I forgot to tell Nori I didn't eat unagi, and our appetizer was an eely concoction set in a soya-flavored jelly. I just ate the jelly!

The rest of the tempura dishes were safe for me, everything was fried to perfection and the batter was thin, unlike the flour-laden stuff we get here. Even tried a deep-fried fishbone that I at first thought was a seahorse!

I requested to take a photo with the chef after the meal, something to remember my experience by and then it was off into a cab so I could wallow in self pity in the room. Oooh, my nose...