Friday, September 30, 2005

Tea Talk Time 2: Introduction to Matcha

A pleasant encounter with matcha.
Matcha from Fukujuen

The bright algae green. You do not drink from glass (this is to show the colour shades) but from tea cups. No doubt matcha is used in tea ceremony. But an introductory course will not go beyond mentioning tea ceremony, which is complicated enough, deserving a full course solely on it.

Health benefits is definetely worthy to be mentioned:
In addition to providing trace minerals and vitamins, matcha is rich in catechin polyphenols - compounds with high antioxidant activity. These compounds offer protection against many kinds of cancer, help prevent cardiovascular disease and slow the aging process. They also reduce harmful cholesterol in the blood, stabilize blood sugar levels, help reduce high blood pressure and enhance the resistance of the body to many toxins. Matcha has a significant amount of dietary fiber and practically no calories.
Andrew Weil

Never mind about the precise, detailed steps and the expensive handmade gadgets of tea ceremony. Good taste and many health benefits is the killer combination.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Gastroliterary 17: Asian ii

Teochew Restaurant Huat Kee
General Information:
Location: Amoy Street
The restaurant was packed despite of its location. The place around the restaurant are relatively deserted because it was a weekend night in the business district.

Food: 7
The 'ngo hiong', crispy 5 spices roll is recommended. The dessert, ór ni', yam paste is also a famous, delectable treat not to be missed by Teochew food fans. Other dishes tasted include cold crabs, steam fish, stew vegetables in fragrant sesame sauce and sea cucumber with minced meat were of considerably average in standard. Overall, it has to be noted that most of the dishes were considered oily, although not salty. Even the recommended dishes prove a little unhealthy to the modern Singaporean; it leaves a sickly after-feeling.

Service: 7.5
No service charge is imposed here. However, the service was still quite acceptable given that the restaurant was full and dishes was served with promptness.

Ambience: 7.5
A renovated shophouse that still tries to retain the flavours of the olden days, not forgetting the nostalgic long stairway. The atmosphere and settings, the cutlery and the decor were quite well-done. However, improvements should be made on the aspect on temperature for there was an operating fan that caused much discomfort despite the place was already air-conditioned.

An above average place for Teochew cuisine. Prices were quite reasonable, amounting to around $30 per person. Ordering luxurious dishes like shark fins or abalone can easily cost one $60 though.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Durian Daily 15: Clinton Condoms

Unimaginable, but yes, this former politician has got himself associated with the unglamorous.

A rubber company in China has begun marketing condoms under the brand names Clinton and Lewinsky, apparently seeking to exploit the White House affair that led to the impeachment of America's 42nd president.

Spokesman Liu Wenhua of the Guangzhou Rubber Group said the company was handing out 100,000 free Clinton and Lewinsky condoms as part of a promotion to raise consumer awareness of its new products.

He said that after the promotion ends, the Clinton condoms will go on sale in southern China for 29.8 Yuan ($6.20) for a box of 12, while the Lewinsky model will be priced at 18.8 Yuan for the same quantity.

"The Clinton condom will be the top of our line," he said. "The Lewinsky condom is not quite as good."

Liu said the company had chosen to use the Clinton name because consumers viewed the former president as a responsible person, who would want to stress safe sex as an effective way to prevent the spread of the HIV virus.

"The names we chose are symbols of people who are responsible and dedicated to their jobs," he said. "I believe Bill Clinton cannot be unhappy about this because he's a very generous man."

Liu said the company did not believe using the Clinton and Lewinsky names constituted a violation of copyright or other laws.

We have received full approval from the local Industrial and Commercial Bureau to start production," he said.

Clinton has campaigned aggressively for heightened AIDS awareness in China, where the disease is spreading rapidly.

In impeachment proceedings conducted by the US Senate in 1999, he was acquitted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. The charges stemmed from denials he made about a sexual relationship he maintained with Lewinsky, a former White House intern.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Durian Daily 14: Commuters Alert

Bus, taxi fare cheats could end up in jail
By Christopher Tan Sept 20, 2005
The Straits Times

Commuters who cheat on bus and taxi fares could end up behind bars under proposed legislation to stamp out a problem that has dogged Singaporean transport operators for years.
Bus companies, for example, lose an estimated $9 million a year to fare cheats.
The penalties aimed at protecting bus firms and cabbies against cheats are similar to those provided by the Rapid Transit Systems Act for rail operators.

Typically, a dishonest commuter taps his ez-link card on the exit reader well before his intended stop. This way, he is charged a lower fare.
Under proposed amendments to the Public Transport Council Act introduced in Parliament yesterday, bus commuters found by council-appointed inspectors to have paid incorrect fares will face a penalty charge.

Those who fail to pay this yet-to-be-determined charge face fines of up to $1,000. Repeat offenders face up to $2,000 in fines and risk a jail term of up to six months.
SBS Transit spokesman Tammy Tan said: 'The proposed changes take into account the fact that our drivers get cheated, whether intentionally or not. While the majority of our customers do not cheat, there is a small proportion who do, and they are penalising those who pay the full fare.'

Currently, those caught underpaying bus fares will only be required to make up the difference, said Ms Tan, who hopes the proposed changes 'will deter incidences of fare misuse'.
Those who cheat cabbies will be dealt with more swiftly.
They immediately face a fine of $1,000 for the first offence, and $2,000 or a jail term of up to six months for subsequent offences.
Full Story

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Durian Daily 13: Change is Inevitable

Conspiracy Theory is finally at its wits end since its opening back in June. The press has been declared backrupt with mounting debts from several charges and poor circulation. It is now taken over by the more reputable Durian Daily. The society requires constant changes so that it can meet the challenges of the ever-changing world; change is inevitable.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Gastroliterary 16: Japanese Cuisine ii

Images from here.

Good Place, Very Good Sushi
Sakae Sushi lunch buffet.
$16 for student, $18.50 for adults.

19/09/2005: Sushi buffet at $16 seems to be a good deal although at the odd timing of 1500 to 1800. I had the great opportunity to patronise one of the 26 outlets at Parkway Parade. I felt quite welcomed as I stepped into the restaurant for the waitress seemed to be quite well-trained.

The gobbling started with ease as the sushi plates cruised by on the innovative conveyer belt. However, care have to be taken to pick those sushi that have not been left spinning around the restaurant for too long; plastic cover with much condensation. Items not on the menu can be ordered. Overall, the chawanmushi was the best and most recommended. The raw items, I disapproved them for being less than 'supermarket standard'. Other more appealing dishes were the toufu and fried items. I thought things like noodles, the sushi rice and tea could certainly be improved further. The variety wise was quite satisfactory, though much temptation had to be resisted from picking the 'premium' sushi plates, which are not complementary to their buffet. Picking the $5.90 per red plate will no longer allow the buffet to be deemed as cheap anymore.

Score board (Food, Service, Ambience, Overall) from a buffet perspective:

Considering the a la carte perspective; the items taken from the conveyer belt are the same for both buffet and a la carte.

The overall buffet standard, with consideration of the price of $16 was pretty average. Eating a la carte, however, I think one is better off picking up sushi from some supermarket counters instead. "Very good sushi"? Sakae can really undermine the good word well.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Gastroliterary 15: Korean Fans?

Catching the Korean fever? How about some Korean kimchi instant noodles supper while watching your favourite Korean drama?

But do take extreme care at the details.

This breed of instant noodles is easily available in the Singapore market.

Yes, it reads 'MADE IN CHINA'. There is really wrong or right nothing with 'MADE IN CHINA', but a true avid Korean fan should accept no substitutes.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I Love Globalisation 4: Taipei Ceases to Exist.

A photo excerpt from

On 28th of July, 2005, one of the article reads:
中国台北. A new name.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 12: Why I love Singapore

I have seen cartoons depicting foreign govermental officials in local newspaper, often in unglamorous situations and belittling drawings. Singapore media, therefore, can be said to be quite critical on situation outside tiny Singapore.

Photos: Lianhe Zaobao

Friday, September 09, 2005

Gastroliterary 14: HL, A New Chapter?

Does the average milk fan notice the change of packaging for HL milk? Known for its high calcium, high protein and low fat content, it is hailed by health-conscious nuts. Even the seemingly fake milky taste does not turn off one's delight in it.

However, this recent change is too much to take. Besides the obvious packaging change, the taste which originally lacks the creamy, smoothness of fresh, real milk, now has the newly added creamy taste; a sickly buttery texture. I wonder what chemicals did the manufacturer add? Why don't you try it and tell me?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Gastroliterary 13: Asian Wonders

General Information
Premier Thai Traditions Restaurant
Location: Novena Area
The restaurant was totally empty and was still empty when the lunch was completed. It is a Sunday afternoon, and a restaurant have only one table to serve is really unfortunate.

Food: 6.5
The tom yam soup was great. Seafood with fragrant soup although the intensity cannot be compared with Thailand itself. The fishcake was pretty well. Overall, dishes include fish, vegetables, and the taste was slightly salty and oily that is quite overwhelming. Other than that, the food was acceptable.

Service: 7.5
I am unable to judge their service in the most objective manner for there was only one table of guest. Being the only centre of attention with four waitresses, they cannot have much excuse to give mediocre service. However, they were not too attentive enough, perhaps due to the lack of business that dampened their moods.

Ambience: 6
The music was the most irritating part of the lunch experience. Bells playing popular songs was being played, I rather they spared me with silence instead. The interior designs and comfort were pretty average.

Overall: 6.5
The bill amounted to about $20 per head although shark fins and other expensive delicacies were not ordered. This restaurant has no 'wow' factor and needs considerations when attempting to visit them again.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Tea Talk Time 1: Canned Green Tea In View

Tea Talk Time launches! This is to share the wonders of tea drinking, the joy of tea making and all things tea to the audience. Most importantly, bringing 'tea' to greater heights of appreciation.

Green tea is consumed without sugar in most cases. However, in the case of canned drinks, many brands featuring green tea, will add in a large amounts of sugar. The reason being that the manufacturers use inferior tea leaves to produce their drink and have to add in a lot of sugar, so that the second-rated tea taste can be masked by the sugary sweetness.
Thus, in this episode, non-sugar added canned green tea are choosen, since sweet green tea drinks are less worthy of being explored. The big question. Which green tea is worth buying?

Bought at IMM, Daiso
Price: $2
Place of Origin: Japan

Packaging: 7
This comes with a metallic bottle; unique packaging, with colourful designs as photographed.

Quality: 6
Slightly bitter with a tinge of rice aroma. The aftertaste leave behind a bittersweet frangrace.

Major Supermarkets, in this case, NTUC
Price: $0.70
Place of Origin: Singapore

Packaging: 6 A nice bright green to attract customers. A Japanese brand but a made in Singapore product.

Quality: 3.5
Reminds people of sugar cane juice, without the sugar. Although the tea gives the darkest colour, it suprisingly has the mildest taste of all the 3 brands. Besides the feeling of drinking liquid, the taste buds have to work hard in order to feel something. The aftertaste leaves behind nothing at all. It is a wonder when you considered that they indicate 'Premium Tea Leaves', leaving one to wonder whether they have lost their sense of taste.

Certain Supermarkets, like Takashimaya
Price: $0.90
Place of Origin: Japan

Packaging: 8
Clear indications on how to open the can is available. It comes to me as a surprise that the can has several Japanese poems written, with the authors name and age indicated. They are arranged according to the respective ages of the authors. One is able to enjoy poetry while sipping tea, that is, if one is able to comprehend Japanese.

Quality: 8
This can drink can weaken the perception that can drinks are second-rated. The taste is wonderfully robust, although with a hint of tea-bitterness, it goes down the throat smoothly, leaving behind sweet-smelling fragrant tea aroma.

The Pokka is the most easily available while Sangaria and Itoen are much harder to get your hands on. Considering price, quality and taste, Itoen emerge as the best choice, clearly winning Pokka and beats Sangaria by a margin. (Tea Talk Time had conducted a test and interviewed 5 different parties whose opinions were taken into much considerations in determining the results.)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Spa Online 5: The Art of Acting

Just like a spa treatment, learning the art of acting is good for everyone.

Uses of acting:
A career
Survival skill

A career:
Needless to say, having a great acting skills may assure one exciting career as an actor or for theatre works. However, this is not the main the focus of Spa Online.

Survival skill:
Now attention is giving way to surival skills using the art of acting. Inevitably, everyone needs at least a small amount of acting skills in order to survive in this rapid-paced society. In other words, if one is alive reading this Spa Online article, one has at least some acting skills. However, it is the duty of Spa Online to highlight this particular phenomenon and make it a conscious knowledge.

How is acting skills use in life?
For example, when being interviewed for a television program, one has to present one's best image and give the right answers (not necessary the answer that you think), so as not to be accused of slandering or be at risked of being sued. By doing so, some form of acting comes into place.

For example, in making business, like a telemarketing, one has to look for opportunities by engaging with others. Therefore, behaviours such as calling up a 'long-lost friend' and pretending to be concern with his current situation (although his mind only cares about making his business). This requires a considerable amount of acting skills so that the wolf's tailis well-hidden.

For example, one has to pretend to enjoy a conversation and engage it actively (although one of the party is not interested) so that he will not be seen as unsociable, haughty or unfriendly. Thus, acting skill comes into handy when dealing with socialising occasions as well. And socialising is an important activity that directly affects one's business deals, one's reputation, one's safety. In short, one's survival rate.

How to improve on acting skills:
Joining an acting class may be quite useful. Acquiring the art of acting during national service may save one from doing extra duties. However. experiencing life and learning from others as well as mistakes may be even more importatn.

Acting skills are important. Whether it is (as listed above), avoiding difficult situation, or making a business deal or even socialising with fellow human creatures, acting skills are essential tools to ensure survival. Thus, Spa Online advises everyone to keep on acting and increase the probability of surviving in this society.

Image from here.

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