Saturday, 29 May 2010

Hort Park - The Gardening Hub

"HortPark - 园艺园林" is a 23-hectare park located in the South-Western part of Singapore. It is also serves as a park connector that allows visitors to travel around Kent Ridge Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park with ease and convenience through the elevated walkways and connecting bridges.

Near the entrance of the park on the right hand side you will find the Lifestyle Corner which is sponsored by Ikea which will probably be your first stop upon arrival at HortPark. Further in, you will see a patch of green grass which enhance the surrounding view of the nearby cafe.

Along the walk you will discovered a lot of interesting theme gardens with their unique setup that attract visitors attention. For example:- The Recycling Garden which is a place for recycling ideas in gardening where it display how those old and defunct items can find a second life as re-usable decorative items in the garden. Or you can explore the Fantasy Garden that consists of characters from "The Wizard of Oz" if you and your family are Fans of them. For those who love aroma therapy perhaps you would like to infused yourself in the Herb and Spice Garden.

Floral Walk is a welcoming gateway to HortPark where it consists a lot of beautiful walkaway that is full of different varieties of exotic flowers. I guess it will be great to sit under a shady tree and have a cup of tea/coffee together with good storybook for a great sunday morning/afternoon past time.

Towards the end of the walk at the HortPark , you’ll see about six glasshouses that serve as research stations for the upcoming Gardens at the Bay. Inside the glasshouses you will see a lot of potted plants that is store in the air conditioning rooms.

There is a link way gate at the rear end of the park right after the glasshouses with a pathway leading you up towards Kent Ridge park where the tree top canopy walk resides.

While walking backward to the main entrance of the Hort Park, we discover the HortMart that enable visitors to shop for all kinds of gardening-related products and potted plants. It is also a one-stop garden center that aims to provide a comprehensive shopping experience for visitors.

Look at all these beautiful potted plants and herbs which you can choose and bring it home from the HortMart at a reasonable price. Hort Park open daily from 6.00am to 10.00pm and there it is NO Admission Fee too :) So maybe you can consider to pop by with your kids or love one one of these day during June school holiday.Posted by Picasa



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Friday, 28 May 2010

2010 Taiwan Trip - Local Food

This post will round off my final write-up on our recent Taiwan Trip whereby I would like to summarized some of the interesting food and local products that we have encounter and tried.

On the 1st day upon arrival, we get to try this Black Sesame Green Tea Chiffon Cake with Black Sesame Green Tea Latte at their local Starbuck Cafe. This combination is origin from Taiwan where they used the premium oven baked black sesame seeds that are being grind into powder form together with good grade tea-green from Japan. Every sip and mouthful of the drink and cake are heavenly infused with the aroma of the black sesame fragrance.

This is something interesting that caught our attention too. It is known as "Guan Dong Zhu - 关东煮" which is often available in most of their 7-11 stores. According to them, this is origin from Japan, Kanto where they get the name from. To us this is similar to our local "Yong Tau Fu - 酿豆腐" where we get to choose our desire ingredients and eat with either noodle/steam rice. But from the photo, you can see that their ingredients are far more different from what we have here.

Before we went to Taiwan, a few friends and relatives have being sharing with us that it's a must that we must tried the Taiwan style "Braised Meat - 鲁肉" which can be commonly found in street stall, food center or restaurants. I was surprised to see their range of Braised item which consists more varieties compare to what we have in Singapore and also we find that the taste and texture of their items are much more fragrance and nicer too.

As from the left side of the photo above, you can see different sizes of "Tea Leaf Eggs - 茶叶蛋" where the biggest among them is the "Goose Egg". Most of their tea leaf eggs consists extra ingredients such as Dried Shittake Mushroom or Ling Zhi which add more flavour to the end products.

Jiu Fen - 九份 is a very beautiful mountain town located in one of the Taipei Country area. Although the roads that lead there are mostly steep, curving and narrow but it has never stop those visitors from coming to this beautiful town that is full of their local eateries.

Here I am going to share with you some of their "Must-try" items if you are planning for a Taiwan trip. Jiu Fen Yu Yuan - 九份芋圆 is a very yummy local dessert that can be served in either cold or hot version. Their colourful & chewy signature Yu Yuan - 芋圆 is made from Purple Yam, Taro and Orange Sweet Potato. These cooked Yu Yuan will be mixed together with other side ingredients such as cooked red/green bean, lotus seeds, peanut, tapioca pearl and etc to form a bowl of yummy dessert.

A few stalls away from the Yu Yuan, you will find this traditional Handmade Fishballs stall where they have this famous Assorted Fishball Soup for NT$40. It consists of Huge "Fu Zhou Fishball - 福州鱼丸", "Squid Ball" and "Meatballs". The soup is fragrance and together with it light and sweet flavour it makes a great company with those assort fishballs.

Along the stretch of food street, you will be able to find a lot of interesting stalls that will capture your taste buds. Above are the "Hong Zao Rou Yuan - 红糟肉圆" which I think we can't find any stalls selling in Singapore. The filling is made with minced pork that are cooked with Hong Zao - 红糟 and wrapped with a layer of rice flour skin.

I find that Taiwanese seems to love grill food such as mushrooms, meat, seafood and even shellfish. Look at the grill mushrooms, even a simple snack like this will taste great as a street food. (Read more on - Day 2 Trip)

Rei Suei Leisure Farm - 瑞穗牧场 is another lovely place for family with kids to visit. They has an open air cafe that sell their very own homemade milk ice-cream, cheesecake and steam milk bun which is one of their signature item. Not far from the cafe, there is also a souvenir store that sell all kinds of products with cow prints or design. (Read more on - Day 3 Trip)

When you visit Taiwan, there are so many "Must-try" items that perhaps you might lost count of which one to choose first. But most important, remember to try their famous "Mango Ice" dessert which is so fragrance and full of nature sweetness. This is sure worth the price comparing to those that you have in Singapore which is contains mostly added artificial colour/flavour.

We loves these..... love their taste, texture and sweetness. It is so different from what we have in Singapore where we can only find the Orange or White Flesh(from Japan) sweet potato. This golden sweet potato from Taiwan.

Yes!!!! This is my son's favourite McDonald which we can't easily find it in Taiwan. Or let's put it in a way that, in Taiwan they have much lesser fast food resturants like McDonald or KFC compare to what we have in Singapore. Perhaps it is due to those yummy food that they have over there.

Fong Jia Night Market - 逢甲夜市" is a night market which is near the Feng Chia University. It is sort of like a square junctions whereby there are a lot of local food stalls, shops and etc. During evening time, the street will be crowded with tourists or students who has finished their classes.

This is the "Sausage with Glutinous Rice Wrap - 大肠包小肠" stall where you can see a lot of different varities of sausage on display. We bought one of this rice roll which is a must try items from our Taiwan Food Searching list. This is indeed a very nice finger food which they grill the sausage and cooked glutinous rice then wrapped them together with some cucumbers and vegetables that make it look like a sausage burger.

"Smelly Beancurd - 臭豆腐" which makes you either hates it or loves it. There is this stall along the road side of the night market selling all kinds of vegetarian food such as "Rice Noodle - 面线", "Kimchi - 泡菜" and "Smelly Beancurd - 臭豆腐". So upon seeing so many people queuing, we decided to join in and we bought a box of vegetarian smelly beancurd which served with some kimchi and special chilli sauce. To our surprised although it really stinks while waiting for them to fried the beancurd but the smell is not that bad when we eat it. Rather the outer layer was very crispy and inside is so soft and juicy with the combination of kimchi and sauce.

Other than Feng Jia Night Market, there is another two famous night hangout such as "Shilin Night Market - 士林夜市" where it is divided into food centre and night market area. There are so many food stalls available inside the Shilin market ranging from snacks, drinks, noodles, hotplate and etc. We love to drink their special “White Jade Bitter Gourd Juice - 白玉苦瓜汁” which is surprisingly sweet rather than bitter when “bitter gourd” is mentioned.

Talk about "Shilin Night Market - 士林夜市", I am sure you will drool by thinking their "Large Fried Chicken - 豪大大雞排" from Hot Star stall where you will always see a long queue even during rainy days. The chicken is very crispy on the outside and yet tender and juicy when bite.

"Oyster Mian Xian - 蚵仔面线" and "Oyster Omelette - 蚵仔煎" is also another two types of their famous street food. But these hawker treats don't really taste like what we have over here. So must be prepared when you try this, it's either you love it or you don't.

Around the corner of the main entrance, there is a Sichuan style "Wanton Noodle - 云吞面" stall. Their noodle is very "Q" and the broth is full of flavour which make is a very tasty Wanton Noodle Soup. One special thing about their wanton noodle is they use "Sha Cha Sauce - 沙茶酱" instead of the chili paste, tomato sauce and etc that we have in Singapore.

While exploring the fashion district area around "Wu Fen Pu Wholesale Centre - 五份铺" we saw this wonderful dessert stall the corner of the road junction known as "Ku Cha Zhi Jia - 苦茶之家". Other than selling all kinds of herbal tea and herbal jelly(Guilingao), they also have a few interesting sweet dessert soup. We ordered their "Yam & Lotus Seeds" and "Red Bean with Lily Bulb", although they are kind of too sweet to our taste but overall it taste delicious.

The 3rd Night Market area other than Feng Jia and Shilin will be at "Xi Men Ding - 西门町" where all the youngster get around and shop for their fashion. At a street in Ximending, there is a very unique restaurant known as "Modern Toilet - 便所主题餐厅" where all the food are served in toilet bowl design cups/plates. You can read more about this at my post "Here".

There are a few famous food stalls in Ximending, just as junction of the main road, there is a stall selling Braised Goose Meat and Noodles which is known as "Ya Rou Bian - 鸭肉扁". According to the story, the boss of the shop was known as "Ah Bian - 阿扁" and since he was selling "Duck Meat Noodles - 鸭肉面" at road side stall most of his customer known him as "鸭肉扁" which comes about his name. I am sure those who has visited Ximending would have tried these before.

Yeah! For those who heard about this famous "Ay Chung Rice Noodle - 阿宗面线" from friends or TV program which introduce Taiwan street food. This the famous Mian Xian - 面线 with Big Intestines - 大肠. This place is always crowded with customers whereby you have to stand and eat or sit on stools without tables.

These are some of the Taiwan tibits and snacks that we have bought. My favourite is the Pineapple Tart which is very different from our version too. So far until now I still have not tried their "Tie Dan - 铁蛋" which is hard-boiled egg that has being cooked in spices for a very long hours till it is harden and chewy.

We also get some of their assorted flavour mochi, custard apple cake, fresh royal jelly too.......

Lastly, for food blogger like me who love to cook and bake. Taiwan is a great place to source for their recipe books which is so much cheaper compare to what we get from local bookstores. So must stay tune regularly at my recipe page for more new updates on Taiwan cuisine :p Posted by Picasa



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Thursday, 27 May 2010

Kaiten Shabu Shabu @ Sakae Orchard Central

Look at these!!!!!! I am sure you can find something you like in there, are you drooling over at your PC while wondering which item to pick for your Shabu Shabu treat :) The great new is..... You can have all of these and other extra more items at an Special Promotion price of S$28.00++ now.........

Recently Sakae is having a very good deal promotion on this Kaiten Shabu Shabu (Japanese Style A La Carte Steamboat) plus Sushi Buffet at two of their selected outlet whereby you can pick your choice of ingredients from the great varieties of list and a choice of broth from 3 of their premium soup base.

We took a while to decide whether to go for a Kimchi(which is spicy) or Chicken Broth base and in the end we settle our choice on their chicken Broth base which is full of flavour even before adding those ingredients. I am admit we did make a good choice on the broth which eventually will act as a important factor for those ingredients that we are going to add in.

The Shabu Shabu A La Carte Menu consists of a few columns such as assorted vegetables, mushrooms, meatballs, seafood, meat, noodles and etc. You can select any or all items from those columns but except only 1 type of broth. Look at all these ingredients; we are so shock to see that they are so generous on the servings which is meant for 2 person.

The ingredients are arranged nicely in two well presentable trays whereby they separated the vegetables, meat and seafood accordingly. We have some lobster meatballs, cuttlefish balls, tofu, assorted mushroom and vegetables, udon and etc.

Overall we are delighted with their prompt services as well as their seafood selection which was relatively good and fresh. We ordered the huge clams, half shell scallops(with roe), flower crabs, mussels, oyster, salmon, prawns and etc. Most of it are great except the prawn and flower crabs which don't seems to have any "meats" but they do act as an extra flavour to sweeten the broth.

For meats, we ordered some chicken and beef shabu shabu slices. I love their beef slices which is so tender and fresh with no odour and with a very nice colour texture of red and fat. And don't forget other than all those fabulous food above, we are also entitled to enjoy all the normal colour plates from the Sushi Buffet(except for the pink and red plates). Posted by Picasa



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Saturday, 22 May 2010

Local Nonya Kueh

Nonya(Peranakan) Kueh is one of the famous tea-time snacks that are available throughout the day at most of the coffee shop stalls or food stalls at shopping area. Usually most of the kueh are made from grated coconut, coconut cream, rice flour and gula melaka. Sometime tapioca flour and green bean four are used to give the kueh a distinctive soft, pudding like but firm texture.

Above are some of my favourite Nonya such as(description starts from top down) :-

1. Kueh Salat - This is made of two layer whereby the cooked glutinous rice is at the base and topped with a layer of eggs and coconut milk custard. You can read more on one of my recipe Here.

2. Getuk Ubi - Is sort of "Mashed Steam Tapioca" that is topped with grated coconut that is infused with red sugar/gula melaka. There are two Steam Tapioca Kueh recipes which I would like to share with you at:-
~ Steam Tapioca Cake
~ Steam Ubi Kayu

3. Pulut inti - Blue Glutinous rice topped with caramelised grated coconut and wrapped in a cut banana leaf/plastic wrapper to resemble a square pyramid.

Are you familiar with these two??? Lapis Sagu(rainbow layer kueh) and Kueh Dadar(pancake wrapped with grated coconut) which I am you can get it at most of the stalls near you. I remember I used to love Lapis Sagu where I will peel it layer by layer before eating. Posted by Picasa



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Siam Kitchen

Siam Kitchen is a modern restaurant that served causal Thia cuisine with several branches around different parts of Singapore such as Bugis, Jurong, Suntec, Causeway point and etc. Their menu range from Appetizers(Deep Fried Chicken in Pandan Leaf, Lemongrass Chicken Wings), Salad(Green Mango Salad), Savoury Thai Soups(Tom Yum, Thick Fish Maw Crabmeat Soup) and many others including dessert such as Fresh Mango Slices with Sweet Sticky Rice.

Green Curry - Chicken (Gang Keaw Wan) is Green Curry cooked with chicken, baby eggplant and sweet basil leaves. The portions of the ingredients seems generous with a lot of Thai green eggplants but the chicken pieces seems to be a little miserable less. And we also find that the curry sauce is kind of salty too.

Other than the Green Curry we also ordered the "Clear Seafood Tom Yum Soup" which is a clear sour soup which is flavored with fresh lemon grass and kaffir lime leaf that consists of fish, squid, prawn, tofu and etc. Posted by Picasa



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