Gong Xi Fa Cai!

12 02 2013
CNY 2013 - Chinatown_42_Group

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.

 

CNY 2013 - Chinatown_18_Cat

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





A lesson in the arts and history at the price of a bowl of noodles and with the best one can find in his travels

19 11 2012

A snap shot of Bin, taking a snap shot of the very colorful Fire Station, Clarke Quay, Singapore

IT’S FUNNY how it takes hosting a visitor before I realize how much of Singapore I have been missing out on.  Don’t get me wrong, I mean, for over a year now I have had my palate tickled and my belly – protruding, I have to say – pleased by the many gustatory options on offer in the Lion City.  Even I, with my insatiable appetite that has become the stuff of legends, end a meal with a smile plastered on my face.  The insatiable satiated by the guile of mee kiajia mee kia.

So when my recent–visitor–now–very–good–friend Bin floated the idea of visiting museums, I grabbed the opportunity with the quiet fierce precision of a Miyagi-san showing Daniel-san how to imprison a fly into the grasp of the chopsticks.

After office hours on the last day of his weeks-long assignment, Bin and I went on a walking tour of the city that led us to the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) at 1 Empress Place, a five-minute walk from Raffles Place MRT Station.  Though we came on foot all the way from Clarke Quay.

Bin, on the last day of his recent short-term assignment here in Singapore, about to cross the street.

 

Bin by the Riverwalk

 

“eNTeNG, can you keep up?”

 

At the Parliament

 

“eNTeNG, put a step on it! You’re … so… slow.”

 

The lobby of the Asian Civilisations Museum at 1 Empress Place. The entrance is on the left. The front desk is to the right. That’s the gift shop you see straight ahead.

This was not Bin’s first time at a museum here in Singapore, national monuments and museums being within minutes from his hotel and within five to ten minutes walking distance from one another.  Actually, he has been to ACM before, only thing was, it was already about to close and the farthest he had gone was view the giant calligraphy work of the “dragon” that soon found its way (henna) tattooed on to his upper left arm.

 

Are you students?

 

I looked quizzically at the front desk personnel, felt my lips break into a half smile and turned to Bin, brows furrowed but still with a smile on.  I subtly shook my head but even before I could coyly respond with the truth but in a manner as if acknowledging an indirect compliment, Bin simply said,

 

No.  We’re not students.

Then the adult charge will apply.

 

I could’ve died in boisterous laughter at this point when I realized she didn’t really ask because I was probably young-looking.  She just wanted to make sure the right rates would be applied.  I tried very hard to keep the boisterous laughter inside, we were in a museum after all.  Haha!

 

But if you’re willing to wait another 32 minutes then you can avail of our half off special.

 

Well what do you know!  Half–off specials are no longer confined to happy hour at the bars or at some gourmet restaurant that still wants to attract the crowds late into the evening.

I couldn’t help but declare, in my admittedly booming voice sometimes,

 

People in the arts are really not into it for the money!  Such noble people!

 

Then just as quickly I realized I had to clarify one more thing lest I subject myself to be embarrassed during the museum tour.

 

May I take photos?

Yes, but no flash photography please.

Oh, that’s great…  I know… intense light…

 

I guess I must’ve embarrassed Bin a little – he turns red easily (Haha!) – that he motioned me to move away from the front desk already.  We turned around and there it was, the perfect place to burn 30 or so minutes – the museum gift shop, aptly called, the “MUSEUM LABEL.”

MUSEUM LABEL, in the tiny – okay, make that ‘cozy’ – space it occupies at the corner by the entrance, bursts in the seams with an eclectic mix of goods a lot of different people could snap up.  The many personalities that make me up wanted to snap up everything in sight.

But for my rather limited capacity to contribute to a little more altruism in this world, I decided to forego my own selfish lusting after the limited edition museum wristwatch and agreed with Bin to get a surprise and dare I say, perfectly suited present for someone.

We decided on this shirt as the perfect present for someone.

 

We signed the guest book at the shop. Of course!

 

We helped ourselves with the free brochures.

After helping ourselves to all the beautiful, well-made, free flyers and brochures on all things Singaporean museums and national heritage available on the wall opposite the shop, it was time to ring up our purchase of two half-off tickets.

We were told that the English language guided tour was about to start.  Bin and I joined and by the time we both passed by the giant dragon calligraphy, I knew we were being ushered into a world that would reveal to me Singapore’s diverse cultural roots and just how rich the island’s history is.

Armed with just my Blackberry Bold 9780, I began snapping shots and noticed that the participants in the guided tour were a veritable United Nations on its own.  I loved how the guide perked things up by throwing curve balls of questions here and there.  I could spot who were probably the A students during their time.  They could’ve raised their hands first before answering and I swear it would just be like high school all over again.

As for me, I contented myself with just soaking up all the art and the history that was surrounding me.  Though I have to admit, if the guide promised a 3 Musketeers or a Milky Way chocolate bar for every correct answer I would wrestle my through the crowd and scream at the top of my lungs.  Haha!  I have to keep reminding myself, “eNTeNG, you’re in a museum.  Show some respect!

We passed by the Southeast Asia Galleries 3. 4 & 4A and marveled at the sight of artifacts from the Philippines – the Sarimanok, the Buraq, and a set of armour.

I felt so at home.

A humongous bronze drum. “What do you think this is?” was the first of the guide’s questions.

 

 

 

I asked Bin if this is still observed in China and he said that it is.

 

The guided tour had us moving between floors. I saw this near the stairs landing and just had to have a shot. To me it has the makings of a movie poster. I’m thinking…

 

The Singapore Asian Civilisations Museum is proud of this piece. It is one of only five in existence in the world right now.

 

Bin taking a photo of the Buraq. It’s from the Philippines!

 

The Buraq

 

The Sarimanok

 

Explaining The Sarimanok

 

A set of armour in metal and other materials

 

Explaining the set of armour. I wondered, “who could have worn this?” The answer’s here.

 

By the time we finished – we closed the place that night – we took the flight of stairs all the way back to the lobby. At some point, I looked up and saw this amazing view of the Singaporean skyline through the museum windows. I couldn’t resist to take at least one shot.

 

 

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





Moët at Attica with the Stylish Guy

11 03 2012

Moët at Attica, Clarke Quay, Singapore

MY IDEA of a good time here in Singapore has always involved full meals.  Really solid, substantial food you really need to chow down.  I must eat so much noodles that people around me probably think all the belief I have in me is about long life.  A night out that involves a diet of only liquids hasn’t really appealed to me.

Well, not until I decided to join the party for one of the really good friends I have made at work – Wai Hon.  He is taking a new step in his life and career and I wanted to wish him all the best.  I thought I could start by showing up at his party at Moët at Attica in Clarke Quay.  One of my closest friends, DJ Raoul, was invited too and came along.

The man of the moment, Wai Hon, here with his lady love.

 

These cocktails in test tubes were served with a couple of sparklers. Quite a show, if you ask me.

 

Wai Hon and friends

Not a drinker at all myself, I left it all up to the DJ to get me sloshed with his highly recommended mix.  See, my friend isn’t only dependable when it comes to music or video mixes.  He can make a mean cocktail too.  (At one point I thought he was giving some pointers to the bartender on how to make our drinks.  Haha!)

We made it to Clarke Quay!

If I remember it correctly, he got me a couple or three (I lost count!) of vodka cranberry (his highly recommended drink), a vodka sprite, and Wai Hon and the very nice and lovely Audrey got me a couple of drinks that came in test tubes.  The music was so loud and so nice we had to just dance.  On that, I again got an impromptu lesson from the DJ, who at one point told me to stop spinning around the dance floor.  Hahaha!  (DJ Raoul knew every single song!  A few beats at the start or in between transitions and he knew what song was up next.  Yeah, quite impressive.)

Vodka Cranberry!

 

The DJ

 

The Emcee

 

We soon had to move outside for some photo-taking and, obviously, some more drinks.

 

eNTeNG & the Vodka Cranberry

 

The DJ and the Vodka Cranberry

 

The DJ and a couple of new friends

 

The DJ, Wai Hon and Audrey

 

Wai Hon & Audrey

 

eNTeNG, Audrey, Wai Hon, and Raoul

 

eNTeNG, Raoul and Wai Hon

 

One more group photo... Yeah!

 

Both the dance floors were full! This one is at Moët, on the second floor.

 

This one's the main dance floor on the first level.

 

Getting our last Vodka Cranberry before calling it a night!

 

At exactly this point, the DJ played "The Club Can't Handle Me"... I love that song! Haha! I forgot to snap a time stamp shot when they played Adele's "Rolling In The Deep"!

 

A stolen shot of the DJ. Obviously, he was surprised!

I could feel the alcohol in my system (so that’s how it feels!) that I had to ask to get something to bite before we had to call it a night.  Good thing Señor Taco Mexican Taqueria was right outside the bar.  I had two cheese only quesadillas and half of a beef quesadilla.  Tempting as the Mojito sounded – Attica doesn’t serve mojitos! – I had to settle for freshly squeezed lemonade.

Señor Taco Mexican Taqueria!

 

What lies beneath... inside a cheese only quesadilla!

 

Pork Quesadilla

 

A tight shot of the pork quesadilla

 

The DJ and The Emcee and some damn good tacos

Wai Hon, all the best to you man!  We should hang out again real soon!  You and Audrey have the moves.

Wai Hon... We all wish you only the best!

 

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





Three in place of one

10 12 2011

Beef Tenderloin Cubes sautéed in Olive Oil and Garlic, Octapas, Clarke Quay, Singapore

ONE OF the best things about being single and alone is that how I use my time is not at the mercy of somebody else.  Especially when my head is about to hit the bed – I don’t really use pillows – and suddenly I realize, “Gosh, I’m hungry.”

That’s the point when I would go fling the refrigerator door open.  Or, like this one Friday night, I would hop on the MRT and go where it would lead me.  This particular night, I had to realize Bak Kut Teh dreams that just wouldn’t let up.

But the realization had to be put off for another night.  Especially when I had the door literally shut on my face.  “It’s past 10:00 PM.  We’re closed.”  When they felt that I wasn’t moving from where I was standing, they had to send someone else out to tell me, “We’re closed.  No more soup.  No more pork ribs.”  I had to laugh a little and tell myself that that was one of the downsides of being single and alone, nobody tells you you’re late.  Hahaha!

Oh, Song Fa... Maybe next time.

 

“We’re closed. No more soup. No more pork ribs.”

 

Song Fa has another section that's air-conditioned. They'd ask you if you'd want to be seated there. I took a snap of this because the sign is right beside one that sounded so... haute couture.

 

The sign right above the air-conditioned seating area.

So to salvage what was fast becoming to be a total bust of an evening, I had to take snaps of Song Fa Bak Kut Teh.  At least I had to take back with me concrete reminders that most establishments close at 10:00 PM here in Singapore.

I turned around, ready to cross the street back to the MRT station when I saw the sign, “Riverwalk Tandoor.”  The night didn’t have to be a total bust after all.  I sure had the appetite that a dinner buffet spread could satiate.

Yes, could satiate.  “Could,” being the operative word.  Because the very moment I stood up, I didn’t feel as stuffed after two rounds of chicken tandoori, ketchup fish, saffron rice, naan, and dal.

A couple of rounds at Riverwalk Tandoor

 

Saffron Rice, Ketchup Fish, Chicken Tandoori.

 

Chicken Tandoori

 

Ketchup Fish

 

Saffron Rice

 

Naan

 

A tight shot of the yummy naan

 

Mango Pudding

I crossed the street and knew exactly where I wanted to go – Octapas in Clarke Quay.  Only on my second time at the place – Friendship introduced me to it – I’ve already made a veritable list of favorites.  Just the Sautéed Mushrooms in Sherry & Garlic, and Beef Tenderloin Cubes sautéed in Olive Oil and Garlic, actually.  And for an added kick to a sumptuous spread, I asked for Mamas Mojito.

Garlic Bread

 

Beef Tenderloin Cubes sautéed in Olive Oil and Garlic

 

Sautéed Mushrooms in Sherry & Garlic

 

Mamas Mojito, a concoction of fresh lime and mint leaves muddled with brown sugar and rum.

So the night wasn’t turning into a total bust after all.  And just for good measure, just to go into overdrive, I knew I had got to have dessert.  One turn, far from the maddening Clarke Quay crowd, and I found myself at The Coffee Club.  Their French Macarons and Blended Chocolate Hazelnut drink were – to borrow a new friend’s expression – the bomb!

French Macarons by The Coffee Club

 

I asked for this set just because of this one... the Hazelnut!

 

This one was so yummy.

 

Ice-blended Chocolate Hazelnut Drink

 

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