Sunday, August 28, 2005

Gastroliterary 12: European Experience ii

Corduroy & finch
Location: Bukit Timah

Food: 8.5

Tomato Soup: ($8)
This came to me as a shock. I think this is the best tomato soup I have ever experienced. Sweet and powerful, I would describe and yet not too creamy, unlike many other soups. This is the first time I experienced saffron- the most expensive spice of the world. I finally understood the reason of the craze behind this flower stalk spice. Just a very small amount of it, can touch and explode the senses of the tastebuds.
The restaurant do sell them, at a not too affordable price of $21 for a scrap of 2 grams.

Venison: ($29)
Special of the day. The plate comes hot in order to preserve the hear as far as possible. The venison is partially cooked and it is real tender. To complement it, mushrooms and onions are added to it. However, when the dish turns cold, the wilderness of the game is revealed in the taste. Not too pleasant.

Chicken Salad: ($15)
A fantastic salad that comes with fresh vegetables in their raw, original flavour. The chicken is smoked, smoky flavour and oil-less.

Dessert, Cherry Soup with Ice-Cream: ($10)
This dessert is a perfect reflection of the summer goodness with cherries which is being poached in red wine. The deep dark red of the cherry soup, is deeply aromatic, with bitterness of the wine, that is of great contrast to the fragrance of the vanilla ice-cream. Beautifully decorated, marvellous, yet not too sinful.

Service: 8.5

The staff generally provide good services. One of the waiter gave several recommendations (which turn out well), and even enquire about how satisfactory the food were. Friendly and polite, they deserve good remarks.

Ambience: 8.5

The nice cool atmosphere, with wonderful lighting created a nice and modern atmosphere. The restaurant boost a range of small kitchen appliances, fresh vegetables, and several cooking ingredients to heighten the dining experience. They even have truffle for sale which goes for $35 for one piece.
It is divided into 2 levels, where the first level is mainly for deli while the second level is more ideal as lounge.
However, the menu does not reflect the place too well for it is of printer quality. The choice of techno played created a disastrous effect.

Overall: 8

A fantastic experience. It may be a little pricey but for the quality, I think it is quite worth it. For a full course meal from the ala carte menu, it can amount to above $40. Otherwise, a satisfactory dinner would just be slightly more than $20. The restaurant in essence serves European cuisine. However, the range of dishes the restaurant provide is pretty limited. A potential candidate to make it into the 'Top Restuarant List'.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I Love Globalisation 3: Singapore's Best Friends

An unofficial poll by Schindiapore's journalist found out that:

In 1984, Singapore's best friends:

1. Malaysia
2. ***
3. *****

(The *s are places which are irrelevant.) In 1984, Singapore reserved a substantial portion of its local newspaper to report happenings about its best friend and its closest neighbour, Malaysia.

In 2005, however, Singapore's best friends:

1. China
2. India
3. Malaysia

As from evidence from the newspaper shows, Malaysia's column have decreased somewhat. Perhaps, it is the not the quality or quantity of the news that has decreased but the importance of Malaysia's function as Singapore best friend has decreased.
Obviously, China gains the top hot spot. From the 联合早报,there is a special section devoted to China, which is 早报中国. During weekend, it becomes 中国心跳. The large influx of information of China has totally replaced Malaysia's place that it held during most parts of the 20th century. Not forgetting, The Straits Times, there is also a page named specially for the usage of reporting China's news.
India is also gaining reputation fast. In The Straits Times, a section named 'India/Southasia' have emerged very recently.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Gastroliterary 11: Morinaga's Ottoto Salt

Product Information:

Name: Ottoto Salt
Manufacturer: Morinaga
Place of Origin: Tokyo

Nutritional Information:
(per pack, 28g)
Proteins: 1.7g
Fats: 3.6g
Carbohydrates: 19.6g

Quantity: 2 x 28g pack
Price: $2.50

Packaging: 6.5
The big cute red whale can be attractive to little kids. But to a conservationist, it will remind of how the Japanese persist on their continual hunt for whales despite much global protest.
The flap is lifted off easily and shows 2 packs lying inside ready to be munched on.

Taste: 6
It comes with different shapes. There is crab, starfish, fish, jellyfish, squid, pufferfish, prawn, octopus, sea urchin and not forgetting the main character, the whale. It reminds one of the beautiful island chain of Okinawa. However, even with such a great variety of shapes, they all taste exactly the same. It is, as the name suggests, salty with lots of air filling the centre portion. It is crunchy and a creamy buttery taste lingers on the tongue.

Overall: 6
Quite expensive. Suitable for kids who are starting to learn to identify shapes and name of seafood. Fun to eat, good to play with, but fails to make a lasting impression.

Visit morinaga's website ( and observe how much pride they have in their company and products.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 11: Short Summary for Singapore's national day Speech

At 6.45, the Singapore's Prime Minister will give his National Day speech to the whole of Singapore. In anticipation, I have instead come up with a short summary of the contends of the speech contains:

Singapore is doing very well, however, all Singaporeans will still have to continue to upgrade themselves.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 10: Stupidity Exists

From Lianhe Zaobao 12/8/2005

Unfortunately, for Singapore's superb education system, stupidity still exist.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 9: No Election, All Bad All Good

Singapore, yet again, have no election. This is bad because of the following reasons:
1. If there is voting, all locals will be spending their time of around 1 hour for voting. Being such a globalised country, the foreigners would be either mugging and slogging themselves, thus leaving the locals behind to try to do the catch-up only 1 hour later. From this point, the locals would be most likely not be performing as well as the foreigners, and the authorities will have even more reasons to be importing foreigners to replace locals who can do a much better job. Therefore, if there is voting, it will inevitably make Singapore the most globalised country ever!

2. Singaporeans will feel bad. They cannot get the chance to vote although they are told that they are living in a democratic society. They would be envious of the foreigners who not only can get to enjoy the perks and benefits of living in such a great country, Singapore, yet when there is an election in their own home country, they still are able to get the chance to do sacred act of voting. Thus, voting will make Singaporeans feel great and proud of themselves and continue to believe thay they live in a democratic and equal society.

This is all good due to the following factors:

1. If there is voting, papers and lots of papers will be used for voting. Not forgetting the labour cost of conducting a vote station setup, the security for the authorities think that Singapore is so worthy of being bombed, the meticulous counting over and over again because the authorities cannot believe the outcome of the voting results; all these will surely affect the economy of Singapore. Luckily for Singapore, there is no voting which will result to a greater economy growth for the next quarter and make all Singaporeans a happy citizen because the country is making so money, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for the nation.

2. There will be no queuing for the Singaporeans who cannot stay out in open air for more than 1 minute. Luckily there is no voting, Singaporeans will be able to stay at home or in the food court, while utilising the greatest invention for Singapore-the air-conditioned.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gastroliterary 10: Celebration

With 'Food Review' hitting the double digit issue, 'Food Review' shall change its monotonous souding name to 'Gastroliterary' officially! A heavenly match of gastronomy and literature. Perfect.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 8: Sense And Sensibility

Quoting from
The Straits Times, 5th August, Page 29
Titled: Minister's art of Sense and Sensibility

"Singapore was recently ranked 147th out of 167 countries on the press freedom index.
But it is not something that Dr Lee (Boon Yang) loses sleep over.
Singapore has developed a 'different model for its media'-one that 'worked well over the years'.
He is confident that Singaporeans find local media 'credible'.
'Singaporeans find the newspapers, whether it's The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao or Business Times or other newspapers, the Singapore newspapers are not credible, I don't see them being around for so long.
'Now, if Singaporeans do not trust our newspaper, don't forget we have in circulation in Singapore today 4,500 foreign publications. They will turn more and more to alternative sources.
'And yet Straits Times is able to preserve its readership amidst all this challenge and continues to grow. So I take it as a strong endorsement, as sign of its relevance and credibility to the society.'
Negative articles on the Government, on the other hand, are 'part of the democratic debate'. But it will be 'unhealthy for the media to embark on crusading journalism'
Whom do these curbs benefit?
'I'm saying it's for Singapore, not the ruling party alone, not for the Government. You're helping Singaporeans be better prepared for a world that is going to be more challenging."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Food Review 9: Japanese Cuisine i

General Information:

It is about time to give full credits to what gems this Japanese restaurant provides. Which restaurant would be visit more than twice? (I am specifically stating a restaurant.) Probably not many. This in fact, is the 8th time I visited them, so you can be sure that it has clinched a place in the 'Top Restaurant List'. Surely, it is very rare to find a restaurant that suit this kind of status.

Food: 8.5

Tempura Set ($15):
I have tasted one of the best tempura here. It is delicately covered with layers of flour, where it reveals the prawn. Fresh prawn, where the sweetness of the prawn not only provides a contrast from the crisp outer layer, but also show that fresh prawns are used. For those health conscious, I am pleased to say that it is not oily. Same goes to the vegetable tempura, where true freshness of the vegetables is not covered up.
The set comes with delectable hot miso soup, with rice that has the right texture and wonderful Japanese tofu.

Nigri Sushi ($25):
The sushi, for this kind of price cannot be expected to be of top quality. However, I believe that it is the top quality in the league of this price range. With about 13 pieces of skilfully made sushi, its freshness of ingredients is undoubtable. Skill and freshness, the killer combination, makes sushi out of this world.

Chawanmushi (ala carte at $6):
Egg dishes can hardly be this luxurious. The egg custard just melts in the mouth, oozing out a combination of sweetness and saltiness of the soup. Soothing, yet not overwhelming.

Service: 7
Perhaps being a young local, in the midst of Japanese businessmen, the service is not exactly friendly, although it is pretty good enough. The bald head Japanese chef will often chat with his fellow Japanese. One thing that needs improvement is that the waitress needs to be a little more polite over the phone, when making reservations.

Ambience: 8
It was recently renovated. The old congested restaurant, is replaced by a newer and more modern inner decor. Now, they boost a wider range to Japanese alcohols. Menus like pretty much the same, except with new lamination. Same restaurant that evokes a little cosiness.

Overall: 8.5
Considering that they serve the highest quality of food in this price range, it deserves my repeated visit over and over again. I have totally shunned local Japanese restaurant chains when I first visited this place. Reason being the chains charge similar prices yet present mediocre food.
There are many set meals to choose from with a chicken set of $12, to a full set consisting of tempura, sushi and sashimi of a very reasonable $25. However, ordering from the ala carte menu, may be a little pricey that can amount to above $30. But this is where one can taste different Japanese cuisine, other than the regular sushi or sashimi.
I think most of the prices remain the same after the renovation. However, now they charge a service charge, unlike before renovation. Well, it is a little price to pay for a better environment.
It is definitely on my wish list and I look forward to visit them again for they occupy a significant amount of time in my day dreaming activities.
Lesson learnt: Japanese know best, when it comes to food.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Spa Online 4: Mahjong (iv) Finale

Life is a precious thing and mahjong is such a great gift, created for the delights of everyone.
Indeed, worthy of comparing to a real-life spa treatment. Not just merely for the amusement for man, but more importantly, for the good and well-being of living in this society.

After your readings of the previous three series of Spa Online, here are some counters for countering the counter arguments that some may be countering on the wonderful benefits of mahjong.

Mahjong cannot be compared with life in a capitalist society.
Of course, mahjong cannot totally represent life, but is able to be a miniature model of life. Many qualities required in succeding in mahjong, is also needed for life. Thus be reflecting on what mahjong is about, one is able to understand life better.

Mahjong is a form of gambling and is wasting one's time.
As one has seen, mahjong resembles a huge part of life. Definitely, earning moneyor being successful requires amongst the numerous qualities; efficient, decisive, alert, some form of acting, schemes, plots. Mahjong requires them too, but perhaps to a lesser degree. In a sense, if you are to condone life in a capitalist society, you should also condone the game of mahjong.
If playing mahjong is a waste of time, then it means that learning how to survive in life or reflecting upon life is also a waste of time.

Mahjong cannot be enjoyable for all, especially for players on a losing streak. Playing mahjong solely for money is not an idea to be tolerated. Instead, it is the use of money, not just the winning of it, makes mahjong not only an exciting game but also a reflection of real life; life is hectic and so is playing mahjong. Not everyone is able to win or gain benefits. Whenever, there is a winner, there is bound to be a loser. This applies to life as in the case of mahjong as well. Losing and winning is part of life. So by accepting this in the small world of mahjong, you can be more sure of the challenges that lies in the big world of society. By seeing playing mahjong as soley a monetary exchange process, is not only myopic but also ignoring a greater part of mahjong that grows within the inner spirit.

Playing mahjong may strain relationships. There is no restraint on whom your opponents should be. However, by playing with friends, you and your friends are showing and teaching each other some survival tips of life. We live life and be successful in life with family, friends and family. Playing mahjong with family, friends and family is also similar.

We already have enough of a stressful life, we do not need mahjong to worsen it. Playing mahjong cannot be compared to life entirely. It is not only a preparation of how to tackle life but also teachers one to learn from their mistakes. The price to pay for learning from mistakes on the mahjong table is too small when compared to making a mistake in real life. I do not encourage a full-time participation in mahjong, instead it would be an occasional activity because mahjong cannot replace life totally.
Winners in the capitalist society are winners on the mahjong table. Not neccessary. Mahjong cannot substitute the capitalist society entirely. However, mahjong is a miniature reflection of how a capitalist society functions, although being successful on the mahjong can ensure better chances of success in life; it does not mean good chances of success.

Mahjong is good, but it is not widespread or acceptable in most case. Mahjong is still considered a form of gambling by many. Moreover, most cannot see the link between life and mahjong and how mahjong can be so useful.

Mahjong is good for you. And also for you.

Season Finale: The real purpose and benefits of mahjong had been introduced and dutifully explained. It is important to realise this fact, than to consider mahjong merely as a form of gambling. Mahjong is more than that. It is a reflection of how a capitalist society works, how people interact, influence each other and react to different scenarios in life. Generally, it can be said that those who do not accept the game of mahjong, are not able to see the real purpose of mahjong, or simply, cannot accept the facts of life and society. After realising the facts, start to play mahjong and be sure that the theory of 'Mahjong is good for you' holds true.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 7: Fees For Online ST


*Select your subscription package Buy six-month subscription for S$36 ($6 a month) Buy 12-month subscription for S$60 ($5 a month) We accept only Visa and MasterCard for subscriptions bought online. For payment using other credit cards, money order, cheque or cash, please call (65) 6388 3838 during office hours or email *If you are not a print subscriber but would like an online-only subscription, pick your package: Buy one-month subscription for S$15 Buy six-month subscription for S$72 ($12 a month) Buy 12-month subscription for S$120 ($10 a month) We accept only Visa and MasterCard for subscriptions bought online. For payment using other credit cards, money order, cheque or cash, please call (65) 6388 3838 during office hours or email

Singapore A government affiliate operates all four free television stations and 10 of some 20 radio stations. Of the independent radios, only the BBC is free of government control. Foreign broadcasts are available. Yet the government in the past has restricted distribution of Time, Far Eastern Economic Review, the Economist and other publications. The home ministry can scan some 200,000 computers, presumably to track hackers. Movies, television, video, music, and the Internet are subject to censorship.

1 Denmark 0,50 - Finland 0,50 - Iceland 0,50 - Ireland 0,50 - Netherlands 0,50 - Norway 0,50 - Slovakia 0,50 - Switzerland 0,50 9 New Zealand 0,67 10 Latvia 1,00 ............................... 144 Belarus 54,10 145 Djibouti 55,00 146 Bhutan 55,83 147 Singapore 57,00 148 Iraq 58,50 149 Côte d'Ivoire 60,38 150 Pakistan 61,75 151 Bangladesh 62,50 152 Tunisia 62,67 153 Laos 64,33 154 Libya 65,00 155 Syria 67,50 155 Zimbabwe 67,50 157 Maldives 69,17 158 Iran 78,30 159 Saudi Arabia 79,17 160 Nepal 84,00 161 Vietnam 86,88 162 China 92,33 163 Eritrea 93,25 164 Turkmenistan 99,83 165 Burma 103,63 166 Cuba 106,83 167 North Korea 107,50 Since The Straits Times is probably a third-rated newspaper, why do they charge a fee for reading their online articles?


Media in Singapore remain tightly regulated by the government. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and expression but also permits restrictions on these rights. Legal constraints on the press include strict censorship laws; the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, which allows authorities to restrict the circulation of any foreign periodical for news coverage that allegedly interferes in domestic politics; and the Internal Security Act (ISA). Although not used against the press in recent years, the ISA gives the government broadly defined powers to restrict publications that incite violence, arouse racial or religious tension, or threaten national interests, national security, or public order. The vast majority of print and broadcast media outlets, as well as Internet service providers and cable television services, are either owned or controlled by the state or by companies with close ties to the ruling party. For example, the government is legally mandated to approve the owners of key management shares in the privately held Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which owns all general-circulation newspapers. Faced with the influence of owners over editorial content as well as the government’s successful record of suing critics under harsh criminal defamation laws, journalists sometimes refrain from publishing stories about alleged government corruption and nepotism or the supposed compliance of the judiciary, or otherwise practice self-censorship. A number of independent Internet newsgroups provide a source of unfiltered news and opinion. However, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that new regulations passed in November would empower authorities to monitor the Internet more aggressively. International newspapers and magazines are available, although authorities have at times banned or censored foreign publications that carried articles the government found offensive. The circulations of some Western-owned publications, such as the Asian Wall Street Journal, are “gazetted,” or limited.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Food Review 8: European Experience ii

Date visited: 18/7/2005

General Information:
Name: The Olive
Location: Genting Hotel, Genting
A Western style restaurant.

Food: 8
Free bread is provided. Warm and handmade. Simply wonderful.
The mushroom and onion soup shall score an average rating given that the taste lacks deep flavour but sufficient as a starter.

The pizza has some charred edges. Given that the restaurant uses a charcoal oven to bake it, I shall consider the pizza beautiful. The edges are crispy and the centre is soften with tomato and cheese.
The sea bass taste ordinary and portion is slightly insufficient.
The chicken dish is more exciting one for the chicken is tender and well-marinated, with scallop and prawn to accompany.
The dessert is the most exciting part of the evening. Beautifully decorated designs on display, although it takes a lot of effort to consume slowly while trying not to destroy the whole piece of art too quickly. The taste matches well with the wonderful appearance. Creamy mascarpone that melts in the mouth is neutralised by the sweet and fresh strawberries. There is a small sign, made from white chocolate that reads 'The Olive. Thank you for dining with us'.
Just when one thought it ended, tea and coffee is being served. To make a perfect ending, a wholesome piece of chocolate brings it to a final landing, that not only sweetens the tongue but also the soul.

Service: 8
Excellent service. Slow and steady, no rushing through, when the waiters laid the food upon the table. Perhaps it is because the restaurant is not crowded at all. Although they are polite to the best that they can, they did not provide the 'Earlybird menu set', till requested, where cheaper set dinners are on a deal.

Ambience: 8
Music was a little off. However, temperature was perfect, the lighting was just right, even the cutlery was of good quality. The toilets are designer toilets and the indoor decorations are awesome. Modern and chic. The flooring in the toilet and the walkway, however, needs some changing.

Overall: 8
A memorable experience. An Earlybird dinner set cost at a reasonable of RM69. With no extras from taxes or service, it makes it more worthwhile to visit this restaurant. A decent meal from the a la carte menu, may cost well over RM100. With the Earlybird dinner that starts from 6pm to 7pm, it is definetely a must-go when visiting Genting.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

This Is Life 1: Up Money Mountain

This is the introductory of the series which brings in places visited, while providing an objective view from the tiny Singapore's eyes. With economic constraints, the progress of this series will be hindered and thus be updated on a rare occasion.

Genting, Malaysia:
Few have not been up this mountain of money. However, it is not common for someone to write on this place with an objective view in sight.

A view from Highland Hotel

Fees: $100 (Transport by bus, a 7 hour journey and 3 days and 2 nights in Highland Hotel) From 17th Aug to 19th Aug 2005.

It is called 'The City of Entertainment', where theme parks filled with fun and excitement are catered to both children and adults. Other treats include shopping, movies and eateries.
The mild weather throughout the year, is definetely another attractive point, where temperatures fluctuates around a cool 20 degrees Celsius.

The tour buses at Yong Peng

The usual stopover when travelling up north in Malaysia, will be a place called Yong Peng. It is crowded with travellers. The place, in Singapore standards, sub-standard; big flies, dirty toilets, expensive and mediocre food. Whilst Singapore is really proving itself to be an exciting place with an X-factor to the world, Malaysia's stagnanted standards seemed so unwelcoming.

The attitudes and politeness in many cases need to be improved, although the staff at 'The Body Shop' and 'The Olive' have shown that Malaysia is capable of providing good services to their customer. It reminded me of my Singapore. However, the toilets are dirty and many of the facilities are old. It is a contrast with tiny Singapore, where the authorities are always seeking to improve and upgrading facilities everywhere. Air over there is not exactly mountain-fresh, for they are construction works taking place and there are many vehicles around.

Changes in constuction and upgrading of facilities have been slow since my visit about 2 years ago. The theme is somehow the same since its opening, only adding a few new items over many years. Perhaps it is because I live in tiny Singapore where anything new is good. Well, of course, we cannot forget that most people make their pilgramage visit to Genting, the casino. The chinese make up more than 90% of the visitors while the handfuls left are the Indians.

Ignoring the casino, the overall experience to Genting is closed to plain. The casino however adds in most of the spice where the money making and lossing brings in the trill of a roller coaster ride. Besides gambling, it is perhaps a reflection of how money would function in one's life and how great a role, money works in determining what life is.

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