Laksania

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Had always passed by laksania@ bugis+ and often thought of trying the food. It looks like an interesting way to modernize laksa into interesting western and Asian dishes.

On the same floor, this cafe was quite empty compared to poulet which is having a super long queue.

From the menu, my safest choice was Singapore Laksa. The food turned out ok until I had a bite of the prawns. The prawns tasted terrible, which was due to it being pre-cooked and frozen.

The laksa fried rice wasn’t my cup of tea. The same thing happened with the prawns there!!

I decided that I would probably not return for a second trip.

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More discoveries @ Down Under

We said it too early that we would not return to Perth any time soon. We were wrong! ¬†About 4 months after our visit in May, we were back again. The last trip was rather a let-down as we fell ill soon after we arrived [check out “Unwinding in Down Under” in this blog!] So we were back this time with a “vengeance”; and we had another family on the same road trip that promised fun for a 6D5N relaxing and fruitful journey ūüôā

We decided to self drive and got an X-Trail. Hertz did not have the RAV 4 that we wanted. Never mind. Equipped with the GPS and 150MB-a-day WIFI, we headed to Margaret River immediately after I touched down from a midnight flight.

1st pit stop: Mandurah.  We decided to stop for a break at the peaceful town, watching the seagulls as we sipped our soup and coffee. Not bad at all Рthe clear blue sky, the sea and the cooling weather under 20deg.

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A friend told me Margaret River (MR) is the gem of Perth, and I agree with him. Though we were not particularly knowledgeable in the art of wine tasting, we appreciated the tranquillity of the wineries.  I also loved the lush greeneries that laid all over South Perth.

Thanks to L who did research and booked our stay for this trip, we got a cosy room at Yelverton Brooks Eco Spa for 2 nights. My very 1st time being so up close and personal with lively kangaroos, parrots, woollies and possums. The animals must have felt so loved by L’s family cos they kept going to her cottage for carrots, bananas and apples. Yeah, L bought 5kg worth of carrots just to feed them! They were obviously happy with their food, so did we! We had BBQ chix wings, beef fillets, broccoli and sausages for dinner ūüôā

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Day 2 was another fulfilling day. The owner recommended that we visit the Farmers’ Market for fresh produce, and so we did. But after checking it out, we only bought oranges, hee. We then proceeded to the Berry Farm, Chocolate factory, Betteney’s wine and nougat for more shopping before heading to the Voyager Estate for high tea. The sales at Berry Farm was amused we bought 18 jars of jam, lol. The Voyager Estate is ranked 3rd in MR and we were indeed impressed by its vast vineyard, classy settings and certainly, the food. Yummy!¬† Dinner was L’s specialty – spaghetti. We also had the oranges from Farmers’ Market and sparkling strawberry wine from Berry Farm to wrap our 2nd night in MR.

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Farmers’ Market

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(from left) Berry Farm; Chocolate Factory

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High Tea @ Voyager Estate

On our 3rd morning, we were pleasantly greeted by the Roos family who waited patiently for us to cut the carrots and apples before feeding them. After a breakfast of toasts, we bided goodbye to MR. ¬†En route to Pemberton, we dropped by beautiful Knotting Hill winery for photo op and bought a bottle of white wine. ¬†We loved the ambience at Voyager so much that we decided to return for lunch ūüôā Thereafter, our long road trip began…into and through the woods.

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By evening after 2+hrs of continuous driving, we finally checked into Forest Lodge. Yeah, Pemberton is full of National Parks and forests. L & Y made dinner for us again…spaghetti, veg, pan fried chicken fillets, corn and minestrone soup. As usual, we capped the night with the award-winning Semillon Sauvignon Blanc – cheers!

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Pemberton has more colourful birds and Roos. A decent spread of flakes, fruits and hot breakfast, coupled with birds chirping really made a wonderful morning. We had a leisure walk after brekkie to check out the property and yes, more photo ops with the tranquil surroundings. We missed the timing for the tram ride and decided to visit the Gloucester National Park. For A$11 per car, we could visit ALL the parks in the area! Too bad, we only had time for one. Unanimously, we thought it wd be better if we could spend another night’s stay here. After attempting to climb up the tallest Gloucester Tree in the park, we took a leisure 800m trail around the park and got closer to Mother Nature.

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Leisure walk around Forest Lodge

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800m trail around Gloucester National Park

Busselton Jetty was our next pit stop for photo op, feeding seagulls and lunch before we parted ways with L n family. It was the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. I really loved the chilly breeze, clear blue sky, tall trees and the seagulls! We fed them one big loaf of bread (made by the Yelverton Eco Spa owner, hee). The seagulls enjoyed their food, so did we with the joy of feeding them.

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For our last 2 nights, we bunked in with J & N who are staying at Langford. It was nice seeing them, esp. Bb Al again ūüôā Gosh, she’s grown so much during the last 4 months! J had made popiah (akin to Vietnamese spring rolls) for dinner.¬† City was really different from the suburbs. So we did what most people would do in city – shopping at the huge Harbour Town Factory Outlet. Didn’t expect we stayed there for about 5hrs, with quite a few shopping bags ūüôā¬† We treated J & N to the Chinese Restaurant at Chinatown. The snow crab was really fantastic, no wonder K & Y came here a few times for dinner and dim sum the week before L & I arrived. At Y’s suggestion, we met up for dim sum there on our last morning before departing to the airport.

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We loved the relaxing pace (including the vehicles on the road) in Perth. K was even contemplating returning next time, contrary to what he remarked during our last trip (his first) here in May, that there’s nothing much to do in Perth. I think we have grown to love to appreciate nature more and it’s always good to do that, seeking serenity away from the bustling and bursting Singapore.

Agree? :p

[Movie] Ilo Ilo

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IMdb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2901736/

This is one of the better locally produced movies in recent memory. The backdrop of the story is in the 90s, where dual working parents are becoming a norm and foreign domestic helpers are being brought in to help take care of kids and the household. While it may seem like an ideal arrangement – parents get help while domestic helper gets employment – it is far from problem free. This movie seeks to explore the issues that arise in a typical household with domestic helper, while economic downturn hits the region.

The 4 main characters (husband, wife, maid, child) are given roughly equal screentime, which helps the viewer time to connect and emphathize with them. Both female leads delivered strong performances in their respective roles as wife, working-mum and maid, caregiver. Jiale (his real name) and Chen Tian Wen also put in commendable performances as the latchkey child and a down-and-out husband.

Ultimately, there’s no fairy-tale ending – and I applaud the director for not copping out like some Jack Neo movies. I like this show for its realistic portrayal and unpretentious storytelling. The occassional humour also helps to lift the mood amidst the seriousness. All in all, a very good effort and a well deserved Camera d’Or win.

Overall ratings: 4.5/5

Hai Di Lao: One Pot, Endless Smiles

When J first brought it up to our attention that there’s this amazing steamboat place at Clarke Quay, we ¬†thought it was more an amusement than anything. ¬†We even questioned with some scepticism – “Free finger food and manicure services while waiting in the queue?”…”La Mian flying ard you?”…”Plastic bags to protect your mobile phones and wipes for your glasses?”…”Free apron to protect your clothes?”

When it was my turn to choose a venue to celebrate my bday ( a tradition amongst ourselves by now), I thought, why not just explore Hai Di Lao?  Making a reservation is quite challenging, according to other friends, due to its popularity.  Okies, we decided to go for the 5pm slot; else 8pm might be too late.

It is not difficult to associate HDL with JPot at Vivocity as both subscribe to the free-n-easy style of choosing and concocting your own sauce to go with the steamboat dishes.  But personally, I think they have different styles and JPot seems to be at a higher end in terms of ambience and cost.

HDL is easy to locate. ¬†Once you crossed the¬†Cavenagh Bridge, you will spot the signboard. ¬†You need to take a lift to Level 2. ¬†I’m amused by its decoration – mainly red….and MORE red. ¬†The restaurant is big and immediately, we were led to a table that’s near to the side bar where you help yourselves to the generous spread of dressings and side dishes. ¬†A wait staff, like our butler, passed us an iPad. ¬†Since J has been there before, we looked up to him to place our order using the gadget. ¬†According to J, the tomato soup is good. So we had that plus a laksa soup. ¬†Indeed, we loved the tomato soup – thumbs up!!

Since we heard so much about the entertaining La Mian performance, how can we not order La Mian? ¬†After quite a long wait, the Master of La Mian finally came to our table. ¬†We rationalised that he is the one and only in the whole place and highly sought after. ¬†That explained the long wait but for only less than 3 minutes of flour flying here and there, over and around our heads. ¬†Yes, it’s quite entertaining but who should eat the flour after it went “over and around the heads”? We had a short debate on this.

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As we walked out of the restaurant, I then noticed the much-hyped manicure services and spread of finger food at the entrance of the restaurant. What a sight indeed!

HDL is value for money.  Next time you need a manicure, can consider doing it at HDL to save time :O

*BURPz!

A Simple but Costly Lunch For 2

Mdm Kwan’s – Cafe. Cuisine. Nasi Lemak

There’s been much hype when it first opened the big outlet at Vivocity. ¬†As per Singaporean norm, long queues are always formed outside something new. ¬†As a local, I am also curious as to what really is the pull factor in there.

First encounter: ¬†A Sat morning and slightly 15 mins before its opening hour. ¬†Staff were busy preparing for the opening. ¬†When we approached the staff by its opening hour, we were curtly told that we need to wait for another 15 to 30 mins. ¬†Maybe it’s me. I just don’t like his smirk (I would like to think it’s a smirk) and walked off….a bit pissed off by the poor attitude.

Second encounter: ¬†A Sat afternoon and it was already slightly past lunch time. ¬†Perhaps that’s why the place was rather empty (I would like to think most people will only come here once to test the food; slapped with reality that it’s not worth the price & that’s it). ¬†Upon stepping inside, the impression I had was that the place has a very “canteen” ambience with lotsa “kling-klangs” from the noise produced by the handling of cutleries. ¬†Food was served rather fast, prob ‘cos the lemaks are already pre-prepared.

Known for its lemak, we ordered the normal Nasi Lemak ($13.90) and another Nasi Bojari ($18.90) and 2 Teh Tarik. ¬†$45 or thereabout. Woohoo! That’s our simple-but-not-quite-cheap lunch!

Didn’t expect the chickens to come with gravy though. But I must say the lemak is really fragrant.

<From left:  Nasi Bojari; Nasi Lemak>

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Will I come back again? Hmmm…..

*(Attaz) Burps!

Who’s your BFF?

“Everyone wants a BFF, either Best Friend Forever or Best Family Forever.”

– BFF

To me, “BFF” naturally means “best friends forever”. ¬†Lately, I just got to know another BFF. ¬†Indeed, this little friend, along 89 East Coast Road, is THE place for BFFs to meet over tasty desserts and simply have fun together.

I just love everything about this new BFF of mine –¬†Batter Fluffy Flaps – its cute decoration within the cafe, the attractive ‘mascot’ outside the cafe, the lovely menu and even its website! ¬†Check them out!

Isn’t this cute lil’ fluff such an inviting creature into the cafe?

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Not just a MENU but an interesting read ūüôā

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And yes, the FOOD, essentially PANCAKES of all sorts, didn’t disappoint us at all. ¬†The latest invention is the Curry Chicken pancake. ¬†But after a heavy dinner, we were in for something sweet. So we ordered two pancakes – one with strawberry ice cream and the berries; and another with vanilla ice cream and walnut & banana. ¬†YUMMY!!

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We left with our tongues still lingering with tinge of sweetness ūüôā This is one place I’ll like to come back again for more!

*BURPz!

[Movie] Elysium

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IMDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1535108/
Date/venue: 24 Aug 2013 @ 112 Katong

Elysium has an interesting premise – one in which overpopulation becomes so severe on Earth that the very rich has gone on to build themselves a paradise away from Earth in the form of an orbiting space station. Short of a widespread disaster like war or epidemic, overpopulation does look to be one of the imminent outcome as humans live longer and mortality rate falls. So it’s interesting to examine the issues of such a scenario.

Matt Damon’s character, Max, is a child who grew up in such a dystopian world, and he aspires to be able to bring his childhood love to Elysium one day. Unfortunately he encounters an accident at work and is fatally contaminated with radiation. His only chance of survival is to somehow find a way into Elysium and use the medical pod to cure himself. The audience has to suspend disbelief here as the medical pod is almost magical in what it can do, but it’s a necessary plot device in order to advance the story.

Matt Damon and Jodie Foster gave their usual strong performances here. The story is interesting, the action is there, the sets are suitably well-designed, but somehow something feels lacking. It may be too much to ask, but perhaps given the director’s fame and stellar cast one hopes for something more.

Overall rating: 3.5/5