Gong Xi Fa Cai!

12 02 2013
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Michele, Kuya, and eNTeNG, Chinese New Year’s Eve Festivities, Chinatown, Singapore

WHAT BEST can two Italians and one Filipino do to welcome the Chinese New Year?  Well, go to where the action is – Chinatown.  And, having been told by the locals just how crazy it could get – my friends and I attempted last year and found ourselves turning back the moment we alighted from the train at Chinatown station – we decided that it would be best to just walk from Clarke Quay.

And walking meant we should be first sufficiently fueled up.  A lot of the restaurants were closed.  Jumbo, a long–time favorite, was open but was only serving their reunion dinner menu.  The smallest spread was good for four persons.  Between me and the two Italians, I am the only big eater.  So we had to go somewhere else.

Chili’s proved to be the best alternative.  We started with the Triple Dipper of appetizers, with each of us contributing one item – Kuya chose the mini-burgers, I opted for the boneless Buffalo chicken wings, and Michele, in a fleeting flight of fancy and a moment of indecisiveness, closed his eyes and pointed on an item.  So, Southwestern egg rolls it was!  The mini-burgers were moist and juicy.  The buffalo chicken wings were a tad too sour for my palate.  The egg rolls…  Let’s just say I have had better.

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Good thing Chili’s was open! In two years in Singapore, it was my first time at Chili’s. Haha!

 

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I was sold with the description of the Chili’s Cheesesteak!

 

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The Triple Dipper!

 

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Of course we said thanks!

For the entrées, Kuya had the New York Strip steak, medium, with steamed broccoli and corn on the cob on the side.   Michele decided on the Fajitas Trio, his own DIY meal of chicken, shrimp and beef to slap at will on hot soft corn tortilla, with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo to sweeten – or shall I say, spice up – the mix.  My option was straightforward and safe – the Chili’s cheesesteak.

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They served the cheesesteak open-faced, allowing for the use of a knife and fork at will. The sight of the cheese-covered wedge of capsicum was just too much to bear.

 

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I just couldn’t take the image of cheese melting and sliding down hot vegetable off of my head. This was such a treat.

 

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The cheesesteak had a generous serving of meat, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and capsicums. And of, the cheese. The cheese!

 

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Come one, let’s take a peek…

 

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Kuya made his own vegetarian taco with one of Michele’s soft corn tortilla, the guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream.

 

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“Yes, Compa’, it’s delicious!”

 

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Fries… not really my kind of thing.

With tummies filled and raring to celebrate, we began the walk on North Bridge Road to the center of all the action.  As expected, it was a lot of people.  And practically all nations of the United Nations – and then some – were well-represented.

It was a lot of people and it was a lot of waiting.  To survive the Chinese New Year celebrations, one doesn’t have to have the festive spirit alone, but a whole lot of patience.  Patience in such abundance that to call it a virtue would be such understatement.

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Michele beams aginst the backdrop of the huge Year of the Snake decor that ran the length of North Bridge Road.

 

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A rather serious-looking Kuya

 

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Michele is quite the shutterbug. He brings along his backpack to carry his Nikon and all the accessories he needs.

 

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Michele and Michele!

 

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No doubt about it… it’s the Year of the (Water) Snake!

 

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Two Italians and one Filipino just kept snapping shots all around.

 

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Lanterns all over

 

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We passed by this restaurant, saw the huge fish steamed in XO sauce, and just had to agree and make a mental note to visit the place soon.

 

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Outside the Chinese Temple, Kuya watches a game of Chinese checkers.

 

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Michele capturing a red lantern in sharp, vivid detail.

 

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“Anybody for fresh sugarcane juice? My treat!”

 

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Kuya (playfully) negotiates with the seller after she informs him that there is a special New Lunar Year price, jacked up by a (Singaporean) dollar each.

 

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We continued walking and passed by this feng shui shop that specializes on ceramic figurines of the Lucky Cat “Maneki-neko”. This one is my favorite. The shop owner was so gracious as to turn the figurines around to face us and allow us to get snaps. You see, with the many people out and about, we decided to stay outside the store.

 

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Kuya’s wife, Assunta, likes cats. So he figures that this may be one of the ultimate presents he could bring back to Italy. He specially liked this one, because of the kitten held in one hand.

 

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Again, not an iota of doubt as to which animal reigns this new year.

 

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Finally, we reached the renowned Chinatown Food Street.

 

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This feng shui shop looked so much better in person, with all the red and the gold, and the lights. At least half of the people fussing about were just there to have their photos taken. Kuya was curious about the merchandise. When he turned around, I told him to hold his position. And I clicked away.

 

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Wherever there is a large crowd gathering, there is always an ambulance on standby.

 

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Gourmet Bakkwa (sliced cured pork) cooked in the open on one of the streets where this brand’s chain has one of its biggest stores. There was a long line for this specialty.

 

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Kuya’s (ever) growing “pasalubong” list for his loved ones back home.

 

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We all sure brought with us all the patience we could. With all the waiting, we obviously could still joke around. Haha!

The organizers closed the length of the street beginning with the huge decoration of a snake made out of lanterns that feature the animals of the Chinese zodiac, all the way to several blocks down to the Chinatown Food Street.  After a long long l–o–n–g walk, Kuya, Michele and I found a comfortable place to wait for the midnight celebrations.

Which turned out to be just a countdown that started at “5” – not even “10” – and fireworks.  I heard a lot of comments about how underwhelming the fireworks display was, but I have to say that all the five minutes I spent watching the show, I felt a sense of renewal awash all over me.  And a strengthened personal resolve to do something better and bigger this coming year.

I guess new years can do that to you.

 

 

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Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





To the flagship!

12 02 2013
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On my first visit to the Philip Stein Singapore Flagship Store on the third level, ION Orchard, Singapore.

AT 84 SQM. it is the biggest of its kind in Asia.  The Philip Stein Flagship Store that opened on the third level of ION Orchard in late January 2013 proves that sometimes, size does matter.

I paid it a visit for the first time in early February and marveled at the extent of merchandise on offer.  It is the flagship after all.  Framed by the entrance and bathed in warm lights, the vitrine that houses the brand’s automatic timepieces lured me in.  I quickly inspected the lineup, in search of the then “very first and only one of its kind” automatic movement Philip Stein that I had purchased from The Hour Glass at Takashimaya over a year ago.

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Wearing the then “first ever and one and only” automatic movement Philip Stein in Singapore, purchased at The Hour Glass, Takashimaya, Orchard Road, Singapore.

 

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The Entrance, Philip Stein Flagship Store, ION Orchard, Singapore

 

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The vitrine of automatic movement timepieces

I found it.  But my attention was soon snatched by this handsome beauty that is the All–Titanium Chronograph (13TI–WCG–TSS) from the Prestige Collection.  I held it in my hand and was right there and then ready to plead guilty to the charge of lust.  And David Guetta and Sia starting to play incessantly in my head didn’t help to appease the brewing, simmering passion for the tick-tocker that had since stapped itself on to my left wrist.

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The All–Titanium Chronograph (13TI–WCG–TSS) from the Prestige Collection

 

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The titanium timepiece is humongous beside my Signature Large!

 

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The thing about titanium timepieces is that even with their heft, they are surprisingly lightweight!

While I waited for my beating heart to be still, I glanced around me and found that the store offers the brands other well-being products, like the sleep bracelet and the wine wand.  And to my right, it didn’t escape me that they have expanded to include more jewelry pieces.

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I just had to admire this beauty against the backdrop of Philip Stein’s new jewelry line.

 

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If you look closely, you shall see that the automatic timepieces boast Swiss Made movements!

 

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On my second visit to the store

 

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Philip Stein has excellent customer service! I feel like a special guest at someone’s house.

 

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Their paper bag is in pristine white.

 

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Which is a sharp contrast to the Hublot paper bag!

I initially went there to have a couple of wristwatches serviced.  (Their customer service has always been excellent, even in the Philippines where I purchased the very first one I’ve ever owned.)  But I ended up leaving with a holistic experience that can only come from the promise of an overall ENHANCED QUALITY OF LIFE – something that has been shared with my family and with some of my closest friends who I have influenced to give Philip Stein a try.

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Two Philip Stein Signature Large timepieces

 

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The very first Philip Stein I ever did buy!

 

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“Arms raised in a V!” – a Philip Stein and a Technomarine!

 

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“Ebony and ivory, live together in perfect harmony…” – a Philip Stein and a TW Steel!

 

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Green with envy – a Philip Stein and a Nixon.

 

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One from Italia, one from Chicago – a Philip Stein and a Morellato!

 

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Three time zones on my wrist. Or are they? One for the Philippines, one for Singapore, and one for Shanghai.

 

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One Signature Large ready to be packed to go!

 

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An Oversized Signature Chronograph. This one is Brother’s.

 

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Philip Stein has a unique quick strap release mechanism that allows for the immediate interchangeability of straps without the need for any tools.

 

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Mine and Brother’s

 

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The Limited Edition Oprah 25th Anniversary Wristwatch!

 

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The Oprah and the eNTeNG on our coffee table with the stone inlay.

 

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Worn with a yellow string bracelet

 

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Worn with a stainless steel bracelet

 

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In the Philippines, one of the authorized agents for Philip Stein is Adora in Greenbelt 5. I’ve bought a number of straps from them.

 

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My Signature Large has the Art Deco feel that I’ve always loved. It’s right at home with my Tissot Heritage Prince I’s.

 

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I purchased the stainless steel bracelet separately for when I want to go with an all-metal look.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved