Paved in luxury

7 11 2014

Luxury gleams on the world’s best shopping streetSOME SAY that luxury has lost its luster.  But all you need here in the Lion City is take a leisurely day of shopping on Orchard Road to see that it – luxury – has in fact lost none of its charms.

The façade of ION on Orchard.  I hear the word "ION" and my senses are arrested by thoughts of a positive charge powering and energizing Orchard Road.  So apt.

The façade of ION on Orchard. I hear the word “ION” and my senses are arrested by thoughts of a positive charge powering and energizing Orchard Road. So apt.

Leisurely’ is the operative word to guide the pace of shopping on this famed street.  While the sheer number of shopping options that dot the whole stretch may prove to be dizzyingly daunting to the faint of heart, the lineup of 22 shopping malls – the best of which house under one roof an eclectic mix that juxtaposes world-famous mainstream luxury brands with labels that have yet to garner the same global attention – and six departments stores could very well be the playground of the tasteful rich.  Think Aspen minus the snow.

This claim was all the more put to fore after Presence Mystery Shopping, a Paris-based marketing consultancy firm, revealed in 2012 that Singapore’s Orchard Road came out in first place on the list of the world’s best shopping streets.  The more seasoned in retail therapy would be quick to zoom in on the ranking and would be quite surprised to see that of the 29 other iconic shopping destinations on the short list, Orchard Road beat Paris’s Champs Elysées, 16th place, and New York’s 5th Avenue, 26th, by a wide margin.

ION Orchard on 2 Orchard Turn is “where it all comes together.”  Imposing at daylight when the rays of the sun hit the award-winning architectural latticework and more captivating at night time when the multi-sensory multi-media façade comes to life, ION Orchard has come to be the flagship of the Singapore shopping experience.  The play of lights and virtual short films on display perfectly set off a veritable marquee of who’s who in the world of fashion and style – Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior, Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.  You can step into its cavernous space – eight levels of covetable brands – and instantly feel that if appearances alone make for the best shopping street, you could not be at any better place.  But then again, the street offers plenty of equally tempting choices.  So off you go.

Who again wears Prada?!

Who again wears Prada?!

 

A beanie by Louis Vuitton.  I love how the Louis Vuitton logo is composed of the colors of the Philippine flag.

A beanie by Louis Vuitton. I love how the Louis Vuitton logo is composed of the colors of the Philippine flag.

 

Like slices of medium rare lamb strewn atop mesclun greens, contemporary pieces of art are scattered all over ION on Orchard.  And it has to be said, beautifully so.  This one is the "BA PANDA", a painted bronze sculpture, by Julien Marinetti.

Like slices of medium rare lamb strewn atop mesclun greens, contemporary pieces of art are scattered all over ION on Orchard. And it has to be said, beautifully so. This one is the “BA PANDA“, a painted bronze sculpture, by Julien Marinetti.

Across the street from ION is Wisma Atria, fresh from a facelift in 2012 that welcomed the Tag Heuer flagship store to its fold.  Sharing equal billing on this strip is the eponymous fashion label Tory Burch, a name synonymous to preppy-bohemian chic, business savvy and philanthropy.  But before these brands bannered the new and improved Wisma Atria, it has long been anchored by one of its top tenants leading Japanese department store Isetan, the GAP, and Nike on two levels of athletic shoes and apparel love.  These and about a hundred other specialty stores are Wisma Atria’s claim to fashionista heaven – and haven – fame.

Blue is the warmest color.  And it has always been synonymous with Wisma Atria.

Blue is the warmest color. And it has always been synonymous with Wisma Atria.

 

The façade of the Wisma Atria store of Tory Burch's eponymous label.  There's no better address for one of the world's most powerful women.

The façade of the Wisma Atria store of Tory Burch‘s eponymous label. There’s no better address for one of the world’s most powerful women.

 

So, Matthew McConaughey is wearing HAMILTON in his latest movie INTERSTELLAR.

So, Matthew McConaughey is wearing HAMILTON in his latest movie INTERSTELLAR.

Further down Orchard Road is Ngee Ann City, the place where there is “something for everyone” beginning with the lovers of two of the most iconic names in the world of style and merchandising – Chanel and Takashimaya Department Store.  In keeping with the times, Chanel has just recently undergone a sprucing up and has come out fiercer in their window displays that marry the traditional (those quilted 2.55s will never go out of style) with the cutting edge (have you seen their mix of materials and the cute backpack?).  It has always been on a par with fellow tenant Louis Vuitton which in recent memory has enticed with their aviator-themed displays and collaboration with renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.  But still it is Takashimaya that anchors Ngee Ann City in its rightful place as a staple on the world’s best shopping avenue.

This photo doesn't convey how compelling or I guess, inviting, the façade of Ngee Ann City is at night time.  But I've come to love this snapshot as it shows how the trappings of luxury and modernity marry harmoniously with nature, quite evident with the number of trees that dot Orchard Road.

This photo doesn’t convey how compelling or I guess, inviting, the façade of Ngee Ann City is at night time. But I’ve come to love this snapshot as it shows how the trappings of luxury and modernity marry harmoniously with nature, quite evident with the number of trees that dot Orchard Road.

 

This leather bag sit unassumingly at the display window, until closer inspection reveals the impeccable craftsmanship that can only be Hermès.

This leather bag sit unassumingly at the display window, until closer inspection reveals the impeccable craftsmanship that can only be Hermès.

 

Louis Vuitton has always had amazing window displays.  They are a spectacle all their own.  Tells you that luxury is (should be) synonymous with high quality and work of art.

Louis Vuitton has always had amazing window displays. They are a spectacle all their own. Tells you that luxury is (should be) synonymous with high quality and work of art.

If it’s another layer of sophistication you’re after, then the Mandarin Gallery may just be the place for you.  Home to Bell & Ross and Montblanc, the place can surely remind you that there is a time for indulgence after all.  And it could very well be a handsome timepiece on your wrist, just what you need to time your pace as you check out the sartorial offerings at Paul Smith, Emporio Armani, Marc Jacobs and Y–3, just a few of the undoubtedly well-curated selections at this “gallery.”  If you feel like you’re starting to lug around more than you had initially hoped, a sturdy and well-crafted Mulberry might just be the bag you need – to carry your loot in style, as well as your daily essentials.

Mandarin Gallery, with all its lighting treatment, is always a visual feast.

Mandarin Gallery, with all its lighting treatment, is always a visual feast.

 

Coming from ION on Orchard, Mandarin Gallery is an array of namedroppables, beginning with EMPORIO ARMANI.

Coming from ION on Orchard, Mandarin Gallery is an array of namedroppables, beginning with EMPORIO ARMANI.

The attention-grabbing storeys-high LED screens that have shaped the Orchard Road skyline echo the recent influx of high-end mass-market labels to this center of luxury.  Abercrombie & Fitch and H&M – both of which opened to much fanfare and queuing frenzy – hog one of the belt’s busiest intersections, on the way to 313@somerset, the address Forever 21’s flagship store calls home.  At this mall, style of European provenance – Zara – stands vis-à-vis the fashion sensibility and multifarious offerings from the land of cherry blossoms – Uniqlo.

Crossing the street to our next stop!

Crossing the street to our next stop!

 

Where there is H&M, there is a crowd.  No matter what time of day.

Where there is H&M, there is a crowd. No matter what time of day.

 

The walk to 313@somerset on its own is paved in luxury of the gastronomique nature.

The walk to 313@somerset on its own is paved in luxury of the gastronomique nature.

From the convergence of purveyors of style basics, it’s back to upmarket choices at luxury central Paragon Mall.  Mirroring the enticing sight that is ION Orchard, Paragon shimmers amidst this seeming paradise with its lit-up Miu Miu storefront, opposite from the virtually gilded Gucci façade that makes a case for that oft-spoken line “all that glitters is gold.”  Inside, its rather unassuming interiors belie the affluent choices that are bubbling to the surface, waiting to be consumed.  You see it in the perfect tailoring at Alfred Dunhill, and the exceptional pieces at Salvatore Ferragamo and Bulgari.

Paragon Mall is dressing up for the holidays!  I see this and couldn't help but burst into song.  Though the weather outside is frightful...  Hahaha!

Paragon Mall is dressing up for the holidays! I see this and couldn’t help but burst into song. Though the weather outside is frightful… Hahaha!

 

Paragon Mall is framed by Miu Miu on one side...

Paragon Mall is framed by Miu Miu on one side…

 

...and by Gucci on the other.

…and by Gucci on the other.

 

The ROBINSONS Department Store building is a requisite stop too!

The ROBINSONS Department Store building is a requisite stop too!

Appearances do seem to make for what the world calls as the best shopping street.  But with its wide open spaces, clean pavements and service staff with a ready, welcoming smile, Orchard Road clearly has one up against any other world-famous shopping haunt.

Here in the Lion City, these shopping malls fling their doors wide open to welcome you for the ultimate in luxury retail experience.  But while the images of multi-media wall screens and well-lit windows from the outside haven’t fully left your cerebellum convolutions, you soon realize that in their place is inching your own smile – brought about by a usual day at the mall turned into a pleasant multi-sensory jolt – that best speaks of the luxury that has not lost its luster.

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

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You can curry love

8 05 2012

Pretty strong words on a first time – “seductive” photos. Clearly, the art of seduction in my book involves gastronomic pleasures foremost.

AND APPARENTLY, you don’t really have to wait.  I know I’m making it sound like love does come easy – no fussing over that give and take thing.  But in the case of my latest personal find, it was.  I was in and out the door in about 20 minutes.

All it took was looking up the very moment I stepped out of a long afternoon at 313@somerset.  As if breathing life to the motto of this university I passed by everyday on my way to mine – “Look up, young man, look up!” – there is reward to reap when you, sort of, aim high.  No matter how actually serendipitous this particular one is.  And, how literally “high” the aim was – the billboard of CoCo ICHIBANYA Curry House on the wall just right outside ZARA.

You know how very capable I am to wax lyrical, poetic, romantic, and if needed, nostalgic, about my gastronomic adventures.  But for this one, I will let the photos do most of the talking.  As you will see, I love filling out feedback forms.  Haha!

I can curry love.  I don’t have to wait.  And I’ve actually gone back and back and back.

A line that came to me while filling out his feedback form inspired the title of this blog post. “You can curry love!” Haha!

I love how restaurants of Japanese provenance have this display of their menu in some kind of plastic material. Close to the real things.

The image of the dish that got my heart racing and my feet racing back inside 313@somerset. Something about paper-thin slices of meat and julienned white onions smothered in dark sauce. Hmmm…

This is the House of Curry, not the House of Chanel. Haha!

CoCo ICHIBANYA is the House of Japanese Curry.

It’s practically all over Asia… except where I come from. Hahaha!

I loved it that their menu has a step-by-step guide on how to place an order. I thought to myself, less chances for me to look like a stupid newbie. But alas, there’s a part where I could demand how much rice I want. And when faced with the possibility of gorging all the rice I could, I turn crazy and stupid.

I’ve barely finished snapping phots of the menu and the surroundings when this makes it to the table. It’s now a current obssession.

On my next visit, which was on the very next evening (haha!), I had the extra rice served separately. I have to say, whoever makes the rice at CoCo ICHIBANYA at 313@somerset can charge for a class on it and I would show up and pay the tuition. This is just perfectly cooked Japanese rice. The BEST.

I went for the “+2 Items” option and that meant getting this mini-salad as a side. On my first night there, it came dressed in what I could surmise to be an almost-light balsamic glaze.

The second time around, it came in what I thought was a raspberry cream vinaigrette. My only complaint about the salads? They’re really mini. Haha! I ate them in a glacial pace, almost as if rationing out each piece with dramatic effect, wondering if the last bite would be a kernel of corn or a shard of ice-cold crisp greens.

When the drink came and the wait staff was putting down this iced tea on my table, my knee-jerk reaction was to (overly) enunciate my order – “Iced M-I-L-K tea”. I know, it sounds pathetic, more so if you’d know that furrowing of the brows and pursing of the lips could’ve been involved. I was impressed that the lady just smiled back before making me realize my own stupidity when she laid down these two miniature, almost demitasse-like cups – one for sugar syrup… and one for milk! Haha! I got initiated.

 

I can never be around a mirror and not snap a shot! Eyebags (haha!) and all.

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Time off

20 10 2011

I KNOW exactly the point when I’ve become friends with someone.

I know it, when, upon bidding the cashier and cook at Formosa Delights a fond farewell right after devouring yet another bowl of their signature Tomato Noodle Soup (U-Mian), I had to tell them that they wouldn’t be seeing much of me for the next few days as I’m flying home for a few days’ respite.

The guy at the adjacent Fried Prawn Noodles stall couldn’t help but overhear our conversation that sounded very much like the kind between friends.  The cashier looked at him and said, “He’s my friend.”

She didn’t actually have to declare that in my presence or within my earshot.  I’ve known it all along.  I knew it from the very first time she called me “Darling” when I showed up at the end of the line at their storefront.

She can call me darling any time.  Anybody who shares with me great food and heartwarming conversation can call me darling any time.

Quite obviously, a bowl of my favorite Tomato Noodle Soup by Formosa Delights.

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Two princes and a pauper

16 10 2011

Two Princes! The TISSOT Heritage Prince I – the "Swirl" and the "Classic".

FROM THE moment I first laid eyes upon its face, I knew all my defenses had melted.  All it took was love at first sight, a one-stop train ride, and an overnight shipment to Eastern Watch at 313@somerset, for me to get my hands on the Tissot Heritage Prince I.

Tissot Heritage Prince I, the first dial design that I fell in love with.

Since then, whenever I would find myself in front of a Tissot counter at fine wristwatch stores, I would ask if I could look at the Heritage Prince I, coy about my intentions to buy.  I knew I wouldn’t end up in a compromising situation (wherein I would have to buy) because the watch model is not one that distributors have put on display.  It’s not one of their more popular styles.  But me, I love the curved body and the bold numbers on the dial.

I love the curved body and the bold numerals!

So when one finally did turn up to be “in store,” I had to tell my beating heart to be still.  One look at the face – this one has the numbers all in a “swirl” – and I knew I would lose sleep over making the decision to buy or not to buy.

The second dial design that I saw... and yes, loved too!

 

Lean on me...

I took my sweet time thinking.  But fascination and infatuation did win in the end.  If I had even the slightest iota of indecision – or the portent of the faintest hint of regret looming in the horizon – I would’ve surely pulled back my outstretched card-bearing hand.  I searched deep inside me for the words, “Sorry, but I changed my mind,” and the mortification that never came.

This wristwatch was first released in 1916.  In 1991, it was issued as a “re-edition” and called Tissot Classic Prince.  Now, it has incarnated to be the Tissot Heritage Prince I.

I'm definitely stacking these two on my wrist.

 

...And I did! My new Tissot Heritage Prince I debuted today.

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Creature of habit

18 09 2011

Tomato Noodle Soup, Formosa Delights, foodrepublic, Nex Mall

 

“I LOVE this so much I could have it everyday!”

Sometimes we say things we don’t really mean, especially at the height of passion.  When the palate is tickled by interesting flavor sensations and the curiosity is piqued, we could profess fierce loyalty to just one dish only to realize later – like, the morning after – that it was a promise too hard to keep.

Like, as I opened, when you tell yourself you loved something so much that you could have it everyday.  It’s hard to keep.  But it’s something that, apparently, I could.

I’ve always been drawn to the allure of hand-pulled noodles.  Something about the twisting, stretching, folding, and pulling of the dough have made me gain a deeper level of appreciation for the skill required to make this edible work of art.  Quite artisanal and quite tasty.

Formosa Delights Handmade Noodles, 313@somerset

 

U-Mian, my noodle of choice!

That was the first thing I looked for when I went to the first foodrepublic I’ve ever been to here in Singapore.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t any.  But fortunately, there was Formosa Delights Handmade Noodles!  And when I saw that their wide variety offers “Tomato Noodle Soup” – the first time I ever did see a tomato-based broth in any Taiwanese or Chinese food outlet – I knew I would be hooked.  Tomato and noodles, two of my most favorite things in this world, together in one dish of Asian provenance.  What’s not to love?

Obviously, for me, nothing.  I’ve been having at least one huge bowl of this dish every single day for the past month and a half.  How much do I love it?  I’ve come to the point of re-arranging my “life” around it.  I would work my schedule out to allow me time to sneak to either Nex Mall in Serangoon or 313@somerset just so I could have my bowl of Tomato Noodle Soup.  If language were not a major barrier – I couldn’t speak an iota of Mandarin to save my life – I would definitely be on first name basis with the crew at both branches by now.  But they know me already.  They could spot me from a mile away and they would prepare my steaming hot bowl like clockwork.  I wouldn’t cut the long line but they sure save me time from having to actually place an order.

See how close my Tomato Noodle Soup is to the brim? I feel so loved.

 

I devour my steaming hot bowl of noodles with these condiments – the soy sauce with tons of chopped bird's eye chilies, and the crispy fried anchovy fillets (these are extra, they would put a couple heaping tablespoons directly in to my bowl!).

 

The achovy fillets look yummy, I wouldn't be surprised if I could finish them off as is!

Armed with a pair of chopsticks on my right hand, and a Chinese soup spoon on my left, I attack my bowl of noodles with so much passion just a tad shy of a raging animal’s.  The first that I concentrate on is the noodles, perfectly “half-cooked” every single time.  Then, I’d carefully pick the leafy greens together with the noodles for the next layer of flavor and texture sensation.  Slowly, I add in the crispy fried anchovy fillets and the rustic balls of minced pork meat.  I always save the huge wedges of tomato for last.  I let them soak – not just dip – in the fiery hot dipping sauce made of soy and bird’s eye chilies.

Beads of perspiration forming at my temples couldn’t belie the immense sense of satiation happening within.

I would always be careful not to get lost in the moment and slurp like crazy.  Lest I don’t care that a splatter of tomato broth would stain my shirt and give away that – yes – I have just had my Tomato Noodle Soup.  My gone-in-fifteen-minutes fix.

 

My bowl runneth over...

 

Sometimes, my work schedule isn't as easy to arrange. So it's still a challenge to make it to their stores before the 10:00 PM closing time. Last night, I made it, with six minutes to spare. Fierce loyalty can make people turn on the burner and turn over pots that have already been washed and set to dry. All the others who lined up after me had to be turned away. Sorry. By the time I settled on to my seat, foodrepublic was already almost empty.

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.