Archive for January, 2013

天命庵 (Destiny) (Taiwan – Taipei)

Okay….for the 1st time ever, I shall be posting food reviews of restaurants that only have Chinese names! Google Translate has been my best friend this past 2 weeks. It translated 天命庵 into Destiny Um. Ummmm, I have no idea what Um is, so I have shortened it to Destiny. Not to worry, I have also translated the address into English so that you can still find Destiny!

The first thing that strikes you about 天命庵 is that it is a very tiny little place. You feel as if you’re entering a Japanese home, that just happened to have lots of tables and chairs. A well known architect Ye Yuqing was tasked to reproduce the Japanese elements of the place and it is deliberately small to keep the crowd numbers down.

Destiny Eatery (2)

For my 1st evening in Taipei, I was glad to be able to huddle up near to my two fellow diners and to get to know them better.

Destiny Eatery - (2)

These are the prices of the dishes on offer. If you want the skewered meats, they are mostly NT100, which is equivalent to about SGD$5. We stuck to mainly the skewered stuff even though there are rice or noodle sets as we wanted to try out all the different types of meats. If you’ve been to an Izakaya, you’ll know how it’s like.

Destiny Eatery - Skewered Meats (2)

The first of our skewered meats to arrive. If you ask me, 天命庵 is like Innards Palace! I have absolutely no problems eating any sort of innards and off parts, but really, the one that stumped us all was GUMS. Pig’s gums!! Like literally the gums that hold the teeth, or used to hold the pig’s teeth in this case. That’s the very elegant sounding 天梯, for when you need to order it in Chinese.

The gums are the two leftmost skewers. Actually, they didn’t have that much of a taste, but they had an extremely tough and rubbery texture. But I would definitely recommend anyone to try it just so that you can say you’ve eaten GUMS.

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Whirlwind 5D4N trip to Taiwan

If you have been following me on Twitter or Instagram, you would probably have realised that I was missing in action last week in the Blogosphere and was instead very active on Twitter and Instagram!

To cut the long story short, I was invited by the Isee Taiwan Foundation to visit Taiwan and blog all about it. Actually, when I first received the email from the Isee Taiwan Foundation, my first reaction was….”Is this a spam??” The entire email was in Chinese, and TRADITIONAL CHINESE for that matter! Reading simplified Chinese characters is already a monumentous task for me, what more TRADITIONAL CHINESE. I asked a few of my friends to help me translate, and more than one told me to be careful.

In the end, it all turned out to be totally fine. The 5 Day 4 Night Taiwan trip was very well planned to the extent that even a tour guide was hired to accompany us to almost all the places that we had to visit! We visited numerous restaurants and eateries ranging from skewered innards to intricately presented Ma La Hot Pot to atas Zha Jiang Mian. In Taichung, we also tried our hand at roasting our own coffee beans all the way to brewing them; and making our very own Taiwanese Bubble Tea. We got to speak with numerous proprietors who shared with us their vision in setting up their own businesses. We even traversed from Taipei to Yilan, braved a 4 Wheel drive up a steep hill to visit the Bulao Buluo Aborigine Tribe.

It was definitely a trip to be remembered and for the 1st few days upon returning to Singapore, I actually kinda missed Taiwan a little! For some reason, I had this huge urge to try GongCha or Koi again, just to consume something of Taiwanese origins! Prior to this, I had never stepped foot in Taiwan, and I made an effort not to read up on Taiwan either, so as to be able to be totally surprised when there.

And indeed, if there’s one thing that amazed me the most there, it’s that there are SO MANY cafes and eateries all over the place, down back alleys and in almost every corner that you turn to! And for this, I hope to return again soon with more time to spare to sample more of the cafes around Taipei and Taichung!

Watch this space for more updates on what I did in Taiwan!

Grand Park Cityhall Park Palace Restaurant

Special Promotion below….scroll down!!!

Last week, I was invited to sample Grand Park City Hall’s Chinese Restaurant the Park Palace Restaurant’s Chinese New Year festive menu. I had actually been to Park Palace on two other occasions over the years, for department Chinese New Year lunch as my old office used to be within walking distance. But that was at least 3 years ago so I was quite keen to go back again to sample the new menu.

Park Palace Restaurant is on the 2nd floor and has numerous floor to ceiling windows which makes dining here a cheery affair. You know how some Chinese restaurants can be, they give you the very serious and sombre feeling. Besides, natural lighting always makes for better food photography.

Golden Shunde Yellowtail Yu Sheng (3)

Golden Shunde Yellowtail Yu Sheng

First up, the Yu Sheng dish! If you will look at the picture closely, you will notice that this is no ordinary Yu Sheng! Instead of vegetable bits as the main base ingredient, crispy fried vermicelli is used. Well you know how everyone likes the “golden crispy ingots”, in this case, practically the whole dish was crispy! Instead of the usual sweet and sticky sauce, the Yu Sheng was tossed in a special concoction of fragrant peanut oil and premium soya sauce that imparted a delicate flavour. Even the yellowtail (from the Shunde region) was a refreshing change to salmon.

I have to say, this is easily one of the best Yu Sheng I have ever eaten! This creative breakaway from the traditional Yu Sheng works! Many restaurants throw in lots of frills and fireworks, but basically, you still end up fishing out the expensive ingredients. This was one Yu Sheng where everybody cleaned their plates!

Grand Park Hotel CNY - Imperial Suckling Pig (First Course) (3)

 Imperial Suckling Pig (First Course)

Next up, everyone’s favourite suckling pig. Sorry for showing you the pig’s butt, but I thought the tail looked kinda cute, and how often do you get to see sucking pig pictures from this angle?

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OH! Open House

I was invited to go for the OH! Open House this year and when I saw that it involved the opportunity to step into various corporate offices like Deutsche Bank and Google in the Shenton Way district, I quickly signed up for it. Well it’s not that I am hard up to see what these offices look like, I’ll admit that I am a bit curious about the environs that other people work in, but it was an opportunity for me to get a bird’s eye view of Shenton Way and Marina Bay from up above. The last time I was working in Shenton Way was quite some years ago and the views have completely changed.

Here’s a sneak peek of what I saw on the tour. Won’t post up too many pictures or it’ll spoil the plot.

OH! Open House

This is the 20 year old artist that came up with this artwork

OH! Open House (11)

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Wedding Candybar

For a good part of the wedding, I’d been cracking my brains to come up with something creative yet still wedding worthy if you know what I mean. Didn’t really want a live band or singers because seriously, you spend a bomb and people hardly even notice that they’re there. Those who do happen to sit near the stage and I know of people who have complained of the noise!

I wanted something a little whimsical, to sort of make me feel better that I didn’t get to have a garden wedding. A garden wedding is something that is so pretty, and I think most brides would consider it, but to be realistic, most guests hate garden weddings thanks to the Singapore weather! And trust me, as a bride, you don’t want to be worrying about whether it’s going to rain either. I made the decision not to have a garden wedding, but I still wanted to have my cake and eat it.

And that’s when I thought of having a candy bar! It doesn’t seem such a common thing for now, and I hope I’m one of the first few to set the trend going! One of the best parts about preparing for my wedding were the parts where I was researching on candy bars. So many whimsical and eye popping candy bars pictures out there!! With all manner of variations from the types of candy to whether you want biscuits, macarons, cupcakes, canapes and what have you!

JOandJARS (11)

I was so lucky to be able to get a sponsor JOandJARS to come set up a Candy Bar for my wedding! Check out the little goodies they provided!

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