Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mind booster

“If the road towards your goal is blocked
and you can’t change the situation...
Think about changing yourself."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (9)

Whenever I was at Alexandra area, I wouldn’t fail to drop by at Ikea, not for the furnitures but for the restaurant. A must- eat item here is the chicken wings. Just look around the restaurant, every table has at least a plate of chicken wings. They may look unhealthy and uninspiring but once you sink your teeth into the meat and get the chicken juice spurting out, you would know how finger lickin’ good they are! The skin was crispy and the meat tender and succulent. 2 pcs @ $2.90; 6 pcs @ $6.50. Rating: 7.5/10.

Of course, Ikea has its own all-time favourite Swedish dishes that has captured the stomachs of many Singaporeans.

left: poached salmon ($6.90)
centre: Swedish meatballs ($6.50)
right: broccoli-soup (can't remember how much)
Rating: 6.5/10

And “free parking” too, oophs… they are for the trolleys!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (8)

We had roti prata at about 10.30am. It must be at my favourite prata place, where else! Crispy prata with curry chicken and sambal squids – what a perfect match! Rating: 6/10.

This was supposed to be our breakfast cum lunch because we got a durian appointment at 4pm. We reserved two D100 yesterday so we wanted to keep our stomachs for the D100.

The time arrived. Finally, we got our D100 but we weren't a bit thrill.

First, the 2 "ugly-looking" durians just this size cost $28!

Second, 2 durians had only 4 seeds of flesh (one already in my stomach)! That means one seed costs $7!

Third, at a closer look, the flesh are greenish-yellow in colour (as though when you knocked your hand against something hard and the next day you find that area turned “dark green”. I thought I would be eating a wounded durian flesh.

But the moment I put the flesh into my mouth, my “curse and swear” were gone. Thick and super creamy flesh with slightly bitter taste! It was super shiok! Rating: 8.5/10.

D100 is relatively uncommon and because it’s a new cultivar, stocks are limited. You definitely need to make reservation if you want to try this new hybrid. Sure worth the wait but don't get "lui-lian-shock"!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (7)

Went for durians again. Can’t remember how many times I have eaten durian since the durian season started. Anyway, who cares? Louis, a psychologist, once told me – "it doesn’t matter how long we live, learn to enjoy what we like to do… life might not be quite the same again".

Supposed to eat D100, which is a new hybrid of durian (heard mao san wang was involved) which just hit the market. But no luck, D100 were sold out. The “tao chiu” (expert) offered us D24 which he said “bao jia” (guarantee good to eat) and "jiu gi" (small seed). Ok lor, since we were already there… might as well…

Uncle "boh sian" (didn't cheat) us. Look at the seeds! Before we left, we "chop" (reserved) 3 D100. We would be back 2more...
Location: Highland Centre. Rating: 7/10.

Good foods are to be shared (6)

Rojak, $2, Toa Payoh HDB Hub Basement Food Court. This is possibly the only stall in Singapore that has a queue number board, which make you feel as if you’re seeing a doctor. The elderly hawker takes his time to grill the tau pok and you char kueh, resulting in the 30-minute wait but you get a fabulously warm rojak. The tau pok is amazingly soft and chewy. Mixed with pineapple, cucumber, mang kwang, you char kueh, lime skin shreds, raw mangoes and thick and nice hay hor (prawn paste) to a perfect plate of rojak. The plate of rojak is served with a sprinkle of crushed peanuts. Rating: 7/10.

Fried Carrot Cake, $3, Bukit Timah Food Centre. If you want this version of fried carrot cake, you must tell the hawker “fried carrot cake white”. There is another version “fried carrot cake black ”. Well, I prefer the WHITE but occasionally I will ask for BLACK for a change! The hawker chops up the already steamed radish cake into tiny pieces and fried with oil and a lot of garlic. Then he adds chye poh (preserved turnip) and eggs and fried such that it becomes super crispy on one side while soft on the other. The crispy carrot cake is well fried such that you can vaguely taste the radish. Rating: 7/10.

Fried Hokkien Mee, $4, 396 East Coast Rd. The owner here emphasizes on charcoal fire which gives the noodles its smokiness and helps eliminate the “kee” smell of the noodles and the stench of raw seafood. This is one of the many “special weapons” passed down from his late father. His noodles are fried a notch more al-dente and he uses only the pricier grey prawns. His chilli sambal comes rough with a distinct texture and flavour of crushed hay bi (dried shrimps). The noodles are really shiok but can be a little oily. For take-away, he wraps it in traditional “opei” leaf. Rating: 7/10.

Pork ribs prawn noodle, $5, Zion Road Food Centre. The first thing that impressed me when I got my bowl of prawn noodle was the quality and size of the prawns. They were sliced into halves and there were about 6 halves, which means 3 middle sized prawns. Sadly, there was only 1 piece of pork rib. The flesh of the prawns was tender and sweet, the soup was very good too. I put both cut chilli and chilli powder into my noodle and it turned out to be simply SEDAP! Rating: 6/10.

Tau Suan, $1.20. Adam Road Food Centre. The best tau suan I have ever tried. The beans are so soft that they could just melt in your mouth. And because they wanted this kind of standard, the tow suan would only be available after 3pm. I was super glad that it wasn’t too sweet or starchy. One of the better tau suans around and definitely made everyone happy with the generous amount of you char kueh given. Rating: 7/10.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I run to complete, not to compete...

Good news for running enthusiasts, more runs coming up in the second half of the year.
* Mizuno Wave Run - 27 Jul 2008
* Run NUS 2008 - 17 Aug 2008
* Singapore Bay Run - 24 Aug 2008
* Human Race 2008 - 31 Aug 2008
* GE Women 10km - 26 Oct 2008
* Standard Chartered Marathon - 7 Dec 2008

All are opened to public. Online registrations available.

I started running at the age of 10, ‘hand-picked’ by my PE teacher. I competed at school level and inter-schools level. I love running but wasn’t blessed with a marathoner’s build, yet that didn’t stop me from running. During U time, studies and projects occupied most of my time, thus running became my early morning and evening activity, until now.

Some people said running is addictive, I couldn’t agree less. Whether it is the exhilaration of propelling your body through space, or the pounding on the ground that sends sensation up your bones all the way to the pleasure centre in your brain, or it could simply be the sheer satisfaction of having done something good for yourself. Once you catch the bug, you can never kick it. Ok, let’s view it as a "positive addiction," it is where you perform a repetitive activity without self-criticism or judgment that has a beneficial effect on your mind and body.

Some people asked me “do you run or do you jog”? What's the difference? Most people would say that jogging is just a slow form of running. The late Dr. George Sheehan, a best-selling author from the 1970s running boom, once wrote that the difference between a runner and a jogger was a signature on a race application. In other words, if you're motivated and enjoy running enough to train for an organized race, you're a runner -- regardless of your speed or experience in the sport. Even after running for years, I still don't consider myself a runner.

How to start running: Talk to fellow runners and learn how they got started.
Get a good pair of shoes: Tell the sales staff what you intend to use your shoes for and what kind of feet you have to avoid any pains later.
Start small: Try to run for 10-20 min. Finish the target time/distance set and gradually increase the time/distance run when you feel comfortable. It is better to have a good pace throughout the whole run rather than starting out fast and ending with a walk.
Listen to your body: If you are hurting, take a break. Running is meant to be fun, not painful. Remember to hydrate your body with water/isotonic drinks during and after exercise.
Stretching: Stretch for 10 min after you work out to relieve any tightness you might feel in your muscles. Stretching will help you relax, prevent injuries and also get you into better shape for your next workout.

Warning signs to watch out for:
If you experience any of the following, take a break or see a doctor if the symptoms do not subside:

Muscle pain which is not due to fatigue. This could be very sharp pain or pain that does not subside quickly. Watch out for pain in the calf and knees. Consult a GP or sports doctor if you experience pain.
Headache could be a symptom of dehydration.
Fatigue is one of the most overlooked symptoms.If you are new to running, the sudden increase in vigorous activity may be a shock to your body. The body needs time to recover as well.

Follow this simple training guide:
Start easy: Go for "base" - just getting used to the target distance you wish to achieve. If the distance is the furthest you have gone, try starting with half the distance or a total workout of 15-20 min. Once you are comfortable with the distance, increase both the distance and time of your workout while keeping the pace consistent. When you build up the base, you can run a given distance at a certain higher speed for a given number of times. Race at your pace.
Rest: We underestimate the amount of pressure we out on our body when we exercise vigorously. Be sure to plan at least one rest day for every day you workout. If you find that you cannot sit still, try to do less vigorous exercises such as swimming, which is easier on your joints, or even walking or yoga, which are easier on the cardiovascular system. This helps you enjoy the benefits of running for a longer period as you give your muscles time to heal, hence preventing injuries.

To me, running is the “cheapest exercise” yet the most beneficial form of exercise. You don’t need to buy expensive rackets, golf clubs or diving gears… You don’t need to book courts, golf course or pay for private club, membership or special courses… You don't need to wait till your friends are free because you can always run alone... All you need is a pair of good running shoes... Enjoy your run!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (5)

Ipoh Hor Fun, $5, Hong Lim Food Centre. I found the crayfish tough and tasetless compared to the nice succulent prawns. However, the presentation looked impressive with 2 half crayfish and some big prawns. The hor fun came in as a big mass which was quite disappointing as I expected hor fun to be soft and silky smooth. Maybe it was because the helper had already put the hor fun on plates waiting for the ingredients and gravy to be poured on it . When hor fun got cold, they sticked together. The gravy was quite bland, nothing to rave for. Rating: 4/10.

Laksa, $2, Jalan Berseh. They were the ones who made eating a bowl of laksa without chopsticks famous. Charcoal-cooked laksa, topped with fresh cockles (I counted at least 8/9 in my bowl) and slices of fishcakes, all these make up a good bowl of laksa. The soup is very fragrant and has the savoury sweetness of dried prawns which I enjoy. At S$2 a bowl, the portion is good for a small eater like me! Rating: 6/10.

Wanton Noodle, $3, Bukit Timah Food Centre. The owner wants anyone who eats his noodle to be happy thus he named his stall Happy Wanton Noodle! No wonder my 11-years-old niece is always so happy because she always order from this stall whenever we come to this food centre. So one day, I decided to try it out. I’ve eaten many other wanton noodle but not type of dark sauce wanton noodle and this was really an unexpected find. The texture of the noodles were excellent and very Q! The uncle is also very generous with the vegetable. Rating: 6/10.

Chicken rice, $3.50, Maxwell Hawker Centre. The chicken was tender and flavourful. The rice is not too oily with excellent texture and flavour. The chilli here is very shiok, very different from other stalls, taste of lime instead of vinegar! Queue starts as early as 11am every day but it’s worth the wait. Rating: 6/10.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shape Run 2008

Ready... On your mark... Get set... Go! Go! Go!

I didn't realise our skyline is so beautiful...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (4)...

Now you see it, now you don't... I mean the meat lah, they are now in my stomach! Yes you're right, this is one of the top 3 famous bak kut teh in Singapore. By looking at the rib bones, you should have guessed the location of this branch...
Rating: 8/10
Opening Hours: 12pm-2pm, 6pm-3am (closed on Tuesday). Come early, if not, you'll have to queue. After dinner, we strolled along Balestier Road and ended up at to our favourite durian stall!

Rating: 9/10
On the right is butter durian while the left is bitter jin feng. Though they cost much more than what we paid at JB yesterday but these 2 really worth the price. They are simply SEDAP!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (3) - 1 day in JB...

Gary and I went to JB to attend a project pre-tender briefing today. After the briefing, while mingling with the other tenderers (some of them locals), we understood that the country have had a abundant durian year! Many durians were going as cheap as RM1. Gary asked for the way to the place where the durians were sold and we decided to check it out.

We arrived at this place which was quite near to Carrefour. There were indeed lots of durians: mao san wang, hong xia, jin feng, xo, d1, d2, d13, d24, d101… You name it they have it. We got a D24 and jin feng. Hey, have you heard of "ai qin guo" durian? We haven't so we decided to it try out. Hmmm... "ai qin guo" tastes bitter-sweet but not fantastic.

Rating: 3.5/10
Later in the afternoon, we went for lunch at
Rating: 7/10

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (2)...

Besides enjoying good food, I also have a soft spot for local tang-shui (desserts) too. However, I'll make sure that each time after taking tang-shui, I'll try to mitigate it by exercising. Actually, I’m quite picky on the type of tang shui I take. Are they make with original ingredients? How they are prepared? So, I don't just settle for any 'tom, dick or harry' tang shui.

From left to right:
tang yuan in ginger soup, $2; Rating: 7/10

yuan yang- a combination of almond paste & black sesame paste, $2; Rating: 5/10

yam paste with ginkgo nut & pumpkin, $3; Rating: 7/10
peanut soup with you-char-kueh, $0.90; Rating: 4.5/10

barley with beancurd skin & ginkgo nut, $1.10; Rating: 4.5/10
mango sago with pomelo, S$3.50; Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Good foods are to be shared (1)...

Life is too short to have bad food but most good foods aren't healthy. I enjoy local hawker fare, Indian curry and sinful desserts. I make up for it with running at the stadium, sometime from one neighbour park to another. Oh yes, the latest running place is the 9km southern ridges. On Sundays, I will either go hiking at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve or roller-blading at east coast.

With all these good foods, it may be difficult to lose weight but I'll make sure I don't put on additional weight.

Nasi Lemak, $2.50, Tg Pagar Hawker Centre. My plate of nasi lemak came with a big chicken drumstick, fish, egg and otak. You can choose other items like crispy peanut & ikan bilis, chinese sausage, fish cake, fish fillet, vegetable, etc. Mix and match at a maximum of 4 items. The sambal chilli is great too. Rating: 5.5/10

Bak Chor Mee, $4, Blk 466 Crawford Lane. When I first patronized this stall many years ago, it was at the old Marina Square outdoor food court. The noodles are real Q, great chilli, fresh lard coupled with the black vinegar is enough to get your salivary gland working. There is a piece of crispy salted fish and a few very fresh liver and pork. His soup is from stock which made his Bak Chor Mee No.1. Rating: 8/10

Char Kway Teow, $2.50, Hong Lim Food Centre. I started patronizing this stall when it was at Outram Park. This char kway teow comprises bits of deep-fried lard, so crispy that they just melt into nothingness in the mouth. Each plate is freshly fried, so the bean sprouts stay crisp. The cockles are also not overcooked. He does not use any stock, merely relies on a very good frying technique. Rating: 7/10

Lor Mee, $2.50, Tg Pagar Hawker Centre. This is a Hokkien noodle dish with brown sticky gravy topped with ingredients like fish, braised pork and fried flour bits. Poured lots of vinegar into the gravy (a personal preference), it instantly becomes a delightful meal to me. Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Unusual food...

When you buy a duck, what do you normally do to the duck head, neck, tongue, heart, liver, legs and claws? Most of the time, these parts would end up in the bin. Whether you have a roasted duck or a braised duck, most of the time, we may not even eat these parts. Today, I bumped into a stall at People's Park Complex that sell these parts! They also have pig ears, intestines, etc. You may say I'm 'sua gu' (mountain turtle) but I think it's quite unusual.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Red Cliff...

I’m an idiot to Chinese History and have not read the ‘Romance of the 3 Kingdoms’. However, I have heard names like Cao Cao, Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu. In order to see my idol in the role of Zhou Yu, I went to watch “Red Cliff” today.

The movie started with a war to hype up those craving to see some good war battles. After the first war, you got to introduce to the characters slowly. After a slightly slow pace, you watched another war. I wasn’t bored at all despite that the movie was pretty long. They have great battle scenes and they managed to insert quite a few good lines to make people laugh.

Next, the actors portrayed their roles well, making the characters memorable and unique. Takeshi Kaneshiro took his role as Zhuge Liang very well, although I don't understand why the director got a 'Japanese+Taiwanese' for this role! Tony Leung as Zhou Yu was perfect as ever, and the rest were as entertaining. Overall I would say this movie lives up to its name with good stunts and good actings. The only lack is female scenes or important female roles. The much-anticipated Lin Chiling only acted in the bedroom with Tony but no steamy scene that would raise a hair.

Last, there is something most of us didn’t know. This movie is only part 1 and there will be a part 2! How come none of the newspapers or media mention this?
On the whole, I strongly recommend this movie to those who are not familiar with the ‘Romance of the 3 Kingdoms’, so that you won’t come out complaining that the movie distorts history and all that. After watching this movie, I have a sudden urge to read up ‘Romance of the 3 Kingdoms’.

What I loved most: scale of action and sound effects
What I really hated: incomplete story - force us to watch part 2