Chongqing Grilled Fish: Murder by Numb-er

I love mala (spicy and numbing) dishes (at acceptable level) ever since my trip to Sichuan. My colleague have been raving about Chongqing Grilled Fish for the longest time, and only yesterday that finally we managed to try it!

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Liang Seah – packed with hungry people as usual

Apparently they have a lot of branches, but we picked one in Liang Seah Street. As it was Friday, expectedly the crowd was pretty insane, but lucky we had a reservation.

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A simple menu, full of delicious-sounding dishes!

We already discussed what to dishes to pick beforehand. Didn’t take us long to place our order. Besides, we all famished!

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Dry pot chicken – which seriously lacking in chicken meat

We saw someone ordering this when we were waiting, and we felt that we had to try it! …but I guess we missed out the fine print that dry pot chicken really meant dry pot chicken bone, because there was more bones than the meat itself 😐

There was also an old time favourite, dry fried string beans, which I did not take a picture of, and it was very well cooked!

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The star: Spicy Fragrant Grilled Fish!

We also ordered another fish in Fermented Black Bean broth, but I did not had a good picture of it.

And finally, the moment of truth! Is the dish worth the hype!?

Yep. it was pretty darned good!

Surprisingly though, it was not as spicy or numbing as I expected – I reckon I could try the highest level next time. The fish in fermented black bean broth was better grilled and was tastier, in my opinion. The soup in spicy fragrant broth was too runny, but the taste got richer eventually as time passed by (there were charcoal underneath that kept the fish heated), but by that time we already had all the fish in our tummy.

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Testament of deliciousness – TOTAL WIPE OUT!

We paid around S$22 each for the awesome meal. All in all, I think it was totally worth it – except for the dry pot chicken. $18 for chicken bones? No thanks! >:(

Dubai Day 2: Burj Means Tower and Mall Means Shopping

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Welcome to Al Barsha-1

We moved hotel on second day and it is right in front of the Sharaf DG Metro. Super convenient. I will highly recommend anyone to stay in Pride Hotel Apartments. Good rates, awesome room (has kitchens!!), awesome location. The only downside is that the walls are thin – we heard lots of chattering from the corridors from our room, but by nighttime it was pretty quiet.

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Do buy!

5 stations later we were in Dubai Mall Metro! A bit of a walk to Dubai Mall from the Metro to the mall itself through the overhead bridge. Lazy walkers fret not – there are travelators.

Funny story: a lady in high heels walking on foot was as fast as us on travelator 😐

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Sharks!!

Dubai Mall is supposedly one of the biggest (if not biggest) mall in the world. It has an indoor aquarium! You could walk into an aquarium tunnel, but you gotta pay for that. Me cheapo so I just took picture from outside.

We didn’t explore the whole mall (which was a shame – but seriously the place is HUGE). I could just spend whole day in the mall window shopping!

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Ferrari in black!

We had dinner to catch in Armani Hotel, which is located in the tallest building the world (as of this post) – Burj Khalifa. It is within walking distance from the mall. Many flashy cars in the vicinity – Alfa Romeos, Bentley, Ferrari…

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Obligatori Burj Khalifa

Yap, Burj means tower. This tower is named after the current President of UAE – Sheikh Khalifa, who helped Dubai to get through the economic crisis. I think its was to be named Burj Dubai previously – but I may be wrong.

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Armani doesn’t just make fashion items, apparently.

This was the first time I realised that Armani also have hotel chains. If I have to describe it in one word, it would be “Black”. I shall talk about the food in another post!

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Downright the most awesome fountain I have ever seen in my life so far.

If you eat in their restaurant, you get a complimentary VIP view of the Dubai Fountain from the balcony (and laugh at the puny mortals who need to push and squeeze in the crowd outside) – which to me was one of the highlight of my Dubai trip. It was so beautiful!

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From Armani Hotel lobby

We spent 3 hours inside the restaurant just chilling. We literally watched the table next to us being sat by 3 different batch of people. Hahaha! Then we just took random silly photos in the hotel lobby while waiting for our pumpkin carriage to carry us back away from the castle πŸ™

Dubai Day 1: Around Abu Dhabi (and Ferrari World) in Half a Day!

Abu Dhabi is just around 2 hour-ish drive from Dubai. We took a half a day sight-seeing tour around the city. Along the way we pass by quite a lot of buildings, one of them being Alder Headquarters.

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One of UAE’s many award-winning building.

My photo probably did not do the building any justice, since it did not capture what is so impressive about this building: it is round-shaped!

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‘Grand’ is an understatement.

One of the first stop we had is Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Conceived by the late emir of Abu Dhabi and president of UAE, Sheikh Zayed, this is truly one structure to behold. It is colossal and very well maintained for its size.

There is a strict rule for clothing upon entry, especially for ladies, but they do supply the visitors with burqa, so no fret even if you are wearing skimpy clothing (though in general you shouldn’t be if you are the UAE).

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Beautiful interior of the mosque.

The chandeliers are HUGE. And look expensive. I did not take a guided tour, as we are given a very short period to explore (45 minutes, which was hardly enough given the size of the mosque), hence I had very limited knowledge of the building.

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Tonnes of pillars in the mosque.

My traveling companion was intrigued by the shapes as well as the number of pillars. I am too!

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Guess what animal is in the emblem of UAE?

After the mosque we go to see some Sheikh’s palace (but no photography is allowed, boo hoo), then to some ‘atas’ souvenir shop (yawnfest). Saving grace is that it had a badass falcon statue outside.

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I see sea shells by the sea shore!

The Corniche was the #2 attraction in Abu Dhabi according to Tripadvisor. It’s bloody hot, so I can’t appreciate it much. It is basically a waterfront.

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How did the locals get water back then?

After some more random places (including passing by presidential palace where there is gunman on top of the car), we headed to our last stop, a “Heritage Village” (a.k.a. more souvenir shops, but more of cheap trinkets form this time). They also had a space where they show how the way of live before urbanisation and globalisation.

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Did I find my drive? Doubtful.

We capped our tour off with a visit to Ferrari World!

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I love it when they are creative with the toilet symbols.

Entry is AED235 (Around S$80). I am not sure if it was worth it – Universal Studios Singapore is slightly cheaper and more of the money worth, but that’s just my personal opinion.

A quick rundown of the attraction that I tried:

Bell’Italia
You ride a vintage miniature Ferrari car around miniature Italy. The queue is surprisingly long for such a monotonic ride. Great if you just want to chill after riding too many roller coasters.

Driving with Champions
Something equivalent to “Shrek” in Universal Studio Singapore. Moving chair, special effect, first person view projection.

Fiorano GT Challenge
A set of two roller coaster – one yellow and one black. I did not notice much difference between the two. It was an average roller coaster – the speed was not too high and the track was not steep.

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Was not much of red in the light play.

RED
Not sure what to say about this. It was a theatrical, circus-y performance. I felt that it could have been more ‘wow’.

Speed of Magic
A “4-D” (I hate this term) ride. It has a great concept, but there is something wrong about the whole thing. It was a very nauseating ride. I suspect it is because the 3D animation has funny physics or the projected animation did not sync well with the ride.

Formula Rossa
It’s the main attraction of the park: “the fastest roller coaster” in the world (peaking at 240km/h). So fast that it is over before you know it. If you like speed, this may be for you. If you want thrill, you won’t get much from this ride as it is consistently fast throughout the whole ride – no anticipation in uphill and downhill tracks.

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This fellow does funny things around the theme park.

There is a mime wandering in the park! He may catch you offguard and do funny things. Hilarious!

Overall, Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World was all right. We went back quite late at night (park closes at 8pm). Ferrari World was surprisingly not too crowded so lines for the attraction was not too bad. A Ferrari fan may be able to appreciate it more than I did.

To Dubai with Emirates

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We are off to Dubai!

I couldn’t possibly describe how much I anticipated this trip! I read blogs on people living in Dubai and Youtube-ed many videos on Dubai and fell in love immediately.

Great infrastructure? Check. Low crime rate? Check. Speaks English? Check.

…I’m totally sold.

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Last meal before our flight.

It’s only befitting that we fly to Dubai with Emirates. Funny story: I bought the tickets on the last day of the so-called promo period and the price drops by almost SGD200 the next day oTL

We had a 9.25pm flight and I rushed to airport straight from work. I was not too hungry and I made it a point to myself that I should not stuff myself just yet because one of my most anticipated moment in traveling is… eating airplane food!

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Fancy name, but essentially it was spaghetti napolitana… ish.

The menu choice was pretty standard: one is a Continental choice, another an Asian sounding food. In this case we had a choice between Hungarian chicken with paprika sauce or snapper fillets in oyster sauce. Naturally I chose the chicken – I’m not a big fan of oyster sauce.

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Cheesecake!!

I HAD to talk about the cheesecake – it was so yummy! It had the crushed-Oreo thing in the cheese on a chocolate cake base on a floor of strawberry (or raspberry?) coulis.

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Coca Cola in Arab!

Fun thing about globalisation is looking at how a multinational brand like Coca Cola is presented locally. What’s with the arrows!

Emirates Stewardess

Friendly-looking stewardess

Funny, the picture is a contrast of what I experienced in my flight. Can’t say Emirates had the most friendly stewardessess. They did their job, but most of the time they had a very intimidating look in their faces.

Our flight was an Airbus A380-800 (awesome). The seats were comfy, the entertainment selection was great. Managed to watch Warm Bodies (disappointingly boring), The Impostor (interesting), Perahu Kertas (suprisingly good).

Next post: DUBAI!

Claypot Rice @ Chinatown Complex

I knew my Mom had been dying to let me try this one Claypot Rice in Chinatown Complex and yesterday I took up the offer (finally?). I promised her I would leave the office on the dot so I could meet up with my parents early for dinner, but first of course I needed to rush home to pick up Alpheus (aka my camera).

BIG MISTAKE!! The jam was HORRID – the usual 15 minutes bus journey had turned into 45 minutes of hell. I am sure I am not exeggerating when I say we were moving at the rate of 5 meter/minute (or less!) for half the journey. I just hope Singapore is not about to turn into Jakarta!

Anywayyy, I guess was supposed to talk about food, not Singapore infrastructures.

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KOI! Do I need to say more?

While waiting for Dad to order, Mom has our favourite – Koi Bubble Milk Tea 50% sugar!

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Refreshing lime juice.

Mom said claypot rice goes well with lime juice, so we ordered one.

We were told that the order will be ready in (gasp) 30 minutes. What are we supposed to do inΒ  30 minutes? My Dad’s answer was simple: EAT OTHER THINGS!

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Definitely not a light appetiser.

I asked him what fish it was and he said he forgot. I did not try to find out either. It was all right, but there was something about the sambal that felt missing. It was not amazing, but was not bad either.

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The sambal is similar to one if BBQ fish but I think it was slightly better on the prawn.

I liked the prawn much better, though it was more troublesome to eat than the fish. Wasn’t in much mood to peel prawns.

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After a long wait – claypot rice! It’s HUGE.

After a long wait, it came! Mom was disappointed, though, saying it was not up to the usual flavour. It was just ‘okay’ for me, as I am not a big fan of claypot rice, anyway. She felt that the rice was not cooked well enough (as it did not stick that much to the pot). I was quite stuffed from all those fish and prawn so I only took a serving.

Compared to the claypot rice I had in the past, it did not stand out. The chicken was decent, the flavour was ok, but there wasn’t any ‘WOW’ factor to it. Since my Mom kept raving about this particular claypot rice in the past, I guess they are able to do better than this.

Until then, I am still categorising this claypot rice as “forgettable”!

Freshly-Flown Food!

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The glory of most unflattering shot of home meals!

Mom came which means my fridge is now filled with delicious (albeit unhealthy) goodness of hometown πŸ™‚ This one is from Suib, one of my favourite joint for delicious fried chicken, perkedel and sambaaaallll!

Hansang Korean Charcoal Barbecue

Bored outta my mind on Sunday! It was blazing hot during the day so I stayed in. By dinnertime I was itching to go out, so I called up a friend to have a dinner. He suggested Holland Village, since it’s in between two of us!

After a hard time deciding (which includes going in a restaurant, sitting and walking out again), we decided to go to… Hansang Korean Charcoal Barbecue! We were going for Gyukaku but it was fully booked for Mothers’ Day! Poor us who doesn’t have Mom around to spend it with!

Anywayyy here be the food!

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The range of banchan here is pretty good! Too bad there isn’t mashed potatoes…

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I FRICKEN LOVE JAP CHAE!! But this one isn’t that great… too dry and not flavourful enough…

There was a Kimchi pancake which I didn’t take picture of (but it was just average anyway).

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Marinated chicken… which I didn’t enjoy, but my dining companion did!

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Be it shabu shabu or BBQ, I just HAD TO have pork belly! Otherwise something felt missing…

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Best part of the evening (after eating): GRILLING!

It feels funny to grill with a metal plate! My benchmark for Korean Barbecue is Sydney Madang (which still stands as the best Korean BBQ EVER for me as of this date), where they use a hotplate rather than metal. I am not sure where we did wrong, as the meat (or speecifically, the pork belly) sticks onto the plate and they ended up being very tough!

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Our bill came up to S$77.70… I took it as a good sign!

I think it’s very pricey considering the satisfaction I had *coughSydneyMadangischeaperand1000xbettercough*. The only other Korean BBQ I had in Singapore is Hangooga, which was still better (and pricey-er) than this.

Looking forward to experiment more!

Tokyo 2012

How long has it been? 1 year? 2 years? 1.5 years?

When you first leap into “real world” and start being a corporate slave, you will be surprised how much it will swallow your life and desire to do anything meaningful in your spare time.

That said, I did went to some exciting places in the gap. One of them is… TOKYO!

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Tokyo is full of geometries.

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Obligatory Hachiko

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That crow perched there when we walked into the park, and was still there when we left.

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We be Daddy Long Legs!

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Balloons in the sky! Someone just got married!

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Took it in a moving train. Look at the huge carpark space!

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Post-sushi meal in Tsukiji.

All in all was a good trip! Aiming for Hokkaido next!

We love Free Comic Book Day 2007!

From the, uh, Digital Flier from Kinokuniya site:

Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is just what the name implies. Anybody who asks will be given a FREE comic book* – no purchase necessary! Now in its 6th year, Kinokuniya is proud to be a part of this international event to help celebrate the FUN of COMICS, the JOY of STORY and the ART of STORYTELLING! (*selected titles and while stocks last)

Yesterday (5th March) was Free Comic Book Day! Kinokuniya gives away one comic to each person. There are also some other fun stuff going on, such as cosplays (but only a few) and a panel session (like Q&A session) from people from comic book and film industry.

The Panel Session schedule:
12.30pm – Panel: Up, Up and Away
2.00pm – Panel: Power Of One or Strength In Numbers?
3.00pm – Guest of Honour – Panel: Brave New World

Didn’t go for the 12.30. I came in at around 3 o’clock (I was aiming for the 2 o’clock one but was late, but luckily, they must have started late too, luckily). There was Mark Sexton and Craig Phillips, comic book artists turn storyboarders. Mark’s style is more cartoony and Craig’s is more of ‘realistic’, type. I enjoyed the session very much, and regretted that I didn’t come earlier.

The one at 3 o’clock is Queenie-Chan, the mangaka of The Dreaming, but we didn’t start until 4 o’clock πŸ™‚ She takes us to the process of making of her manga. Her laptop’s not working, so she didn’t get to show us the digital toning stage, regrettably.

Oh the best part is the MC(?). He wore a Riddle (our favourite villain from Batman) costume. PRICELESS.

After the Panel Session, we head to the Free Comic Book counter. Me and my Bro got ourselves Ultimate Fantastic Four and Noble Causes. My choice was purely based on the cover… because they will end up as my drawing reference anyway. Heh heh. We are given stamp on our left hand to show that we’ve claimed our free comic.

Oh, and Japanese Mags are 50-80% off! And most of them are this year’s release! Those expensive bastards are reduced from $35-ish to just $6-7! I have been wanting to buy one of those guys! We picked up a street fashion magazine (Samurai), something called ‘B’sLog’, a seiyuu’s mag, and a gun magazine (hehe pardon the pun). I also got Yakitate!!Japan Volume 25 (Chinese version).

Unfortunately, I cannot concentrate of browsing the cheap magazine because I got a sudden acute stomachache (I blame Oporto, which we ate before going into Kinokuniya). We were going to King’s Comic (which was said to have a 20% off to all their Comics) but I gave in to the pain.

Anyway. It was a really fun day. I hope we will have something like this again next year! And I hope I will still be here next year, working my ass off. No, seriously.

(pictures coming soon!)