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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Afternoon Tea at Big Street Reataurant @ Jalan Besar

104 - 106 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208828
Tel:  6100 2661 / 6100 8853 / 9229 2796

Eyes were riveted to the prominent Big Street  Restaurant sign from afar, so I had to cross over to the 3-storied unit along Jalan Besar shophouses for my afternoon tea, curious about what was in-store at this restaurant spanning across 2 units.

The first level has a few tables and a minimalist decor, with piped lights arranged artistically, and a prominent Udders ice-cream cart at the front. They choose to use Udders for ice-cream because it jibes best with Big Street's "very local" offerings.

Level 2 has a lovely retro European chic to it, mainly created due to the box windows which I so love. Thatched ceilings and a tiny loof area sit atop (I didn't get to visit the topmost loof) this rather elegantly-furnished restaurant, allowing sunlight to brighten up the interior.

Service at Big Street is personable, jovial and steadfast, the crew strive to maintain professionalism and warm hospitality even despite peak hours.  Erin was especially knowledgeable about the menu, and gave the term "hospitality" a brand new level. While I was informed that lunchtime and nighttime are more vibrant here, I appreciated the quaint quietness of the afternoon amongst the spacious settings.

Well-known for their Chilli Crab Prata Wrap (SGD$12.90) and Salted Egg Prata (SGD$6.00), Big Street is also home to a multi-cuisined dining haven. On their extensive menu are creative Prata Dishes (Indian cuisine) as well as Mushroom Soup (Western cuisine) with prata roll, Crab Fried Rice and Chicken Rice (Chinese cuisine) etc. A variety of coffees, teas, juiced, mocktails and alcoholic beverages are available as well, making this place perfect for groups of diners with different preferences to gather, and enjoy the best of all worlds.

A cool, tall glass of Iced Mint Green Tea (SGD$5.00) chased away the sweltering heat, as I sat by the window people watching, waiting for my next appointment. Loved the refreshing concoction sliding silkily down my parched throat.

The Salted Egg Prata (SGD$6.00) was served prettily with a wedge of fresh pineapple and whole maraschino cherry. I thought the big, round prata resembled a huge Tau Sar Piah (Chinese bean paste pastry), but a slit of the knife told me otherwise.

Prata was firm but yielded easily with knife and teeth. Thick salted egg yolk lava cascaded out like melted gold - sweet, with the standard 'grainy' texture amongst creaminess, and utterly delicious. Strangely I managed to polish off the entire dessert without feeling sick or "gelat" (overwhelmed by rich creaminess). That was a marvellous creation for certain.

Naturally, I lost track of time, relishing in my delightful drink and prata. I would certainly love to be back to try their Chilli Crab Prata and other local delicacy.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Time Management : why do I always seem to "not have time"?

The Scenario

Do you constantly find yourself strapped by work or chores, having no time to tidy up the house, meet a friend for dinner to unwind or find yourself telling people "I have no time / I am very busy"?

Are you avoiding meetings simply because you are really busy, are not interested in meeting up, or maybe financially-strapped?

If it is the first reason, unless you are managing multiple businesses, have 3 kids or travel extensively, then perhaps you are not managing your time right.

The Tried-and-tested
I wanted to try to feel "not having time", so that I could turn down more social meets. Ok, weak excuse. But anyway, let's see what I did these 2 weeks alone.

I currently hold a 9am-6pm full-time employment, by the way. Business development, yes, so like many of you, that's 8 hours of my day gone.

I have established partnerships for 3 products / services (thats for the side business I own), drafted a 21-pages business plan, worked out lists of prospects and venture capitalists for both streams respectively, completed a small advertising campaign for my food / beauty blog, and have spoken to various travel agencies as part research for my upcoming Europe tour. On top of that, I try to eat with my family at least twice a week, my husband's family around there, and meet a friend a week for catching up / exploring new restaurants.

Let me break it down further.

Today itself. I am on half-day leave so I could attend a business seminar at RELC. Wasnt aware that refreshments were provided so I chomped down a lousy sushi takeout lunch. In the large theater absorbing what the speakers were presenting (mainly repeating themselves), I sent out proposals to a few more VCs, generated a fresh list of potential clients, filled out a form for another upcoming seminar, made a small regular donation to charity of choice and coordinated 2 meetings with clients.

Those were the easier, happier aspects of the day. On the side, one of the business partners just sent me an email that I felt faint reading, and immediately I realised I had to meet him to iron out the discrepancies. So correspondences to attempt matching each other's schedules. Then a colleague and I were discussing solutions to an issue at work as well, so some brainstorming while I scribbled some notes from the current seminar I was sitting in. Finally, sent a chaser to our shortlisted tour agency of choice, to ask for the answers to our questions.  I am also hoping to get started on The Honeymoon Series for the blog (now that The Nuptial Series is over).

Is it lucrative?

I should think so. I managed to fulfill my duties for the dayjob and hit required results. The advertising campaign went through so now I can concentrate on the new product (thats the one for Partner C).  The 2 meetings fixed were for Partner B, so we could present a refreshing concept to spas. Finally, Partner A messaged to say 2 cases were sealed and I can start to prepare the invoice.

I almost never do things without a purpose, even though it might appear a leisurely event. How do I do it?

How do some people hold a full-time job and still scale mountains over the weekends? How do career moms juggle jobs together with the mommy's role? How could your average IT manager trade his stocks on the side and that pays more than his job? How does a marketing exec manage an online apparel shop well enough to have been able to sell it off for a handsome profit? Or simply put, how do full-time employees complete a Bachelor's or Masters in their free time?

Why can't you do it / why do you think you can't do it then?

8 Methods of Juggling Time Effectively:
1. Change Your Mindset
You'll need to get out of the fear or mentality that you cannot do it, cannot multi-task, cannot manage or will be tired / stressed out easily. We are all made up of the same soul and flesh - the only things that differ are really the minds. If you are determined to do it, you will be able to.

2 . Start Small / Practice Makes Perfect
You don't have to start with 5 or 6 activities at a go. Start with maybe 1 or 2 more, pace yourself, and then when you get better at handling them with more ease, add on 1 or 2 to the plate gradually.

3. Maximise your Time
Sometimes, our ongoing and pending tasks seem overwhelming because we set aside a fixed slot to do it, such as weekends or evenings. So it might look like, within a span of 3 hours on, say, Thursday evening, you have to finish the ironing, bought the groceries, finished reading the book on Investment for Dummies and finalized flight bookings for your family trip. Yeah, that looks a little trying.

Instead of cramping the to-do lists all into a day and appearing overly-ambitious, spread them out so that you can check your flight bookings over lunch, or while commuting between office and home. If you drive,  get the audio version of the Investment for Dummies learning series, so that you get to complete a chapter a day while on the road.

4.  Time Table
A good way of pacing yourself and organizing your to-do list would be to plot a time table. Sounds like the school days, yes, but we got all our learning done, didnt we?  A time table also allows you to fit in slots for me-time, family time and socialising, yet getting the important stuff done.

Now you just need to ensure that you conform to the schedule.

5. Set Reminders
In the event that you might miss an appointment or task, when you forget to refer to the time table, set reminders to self.

6. Breaking it Down
If a certain pending task is tedious or appear uninteresting, break it down into stages. For instance, if you are writing a business plan. Break it down so that you get to do market survey on one day, calculate the projected revenue for the next day, and source for potential investors 2 days later. That way, the assignments are more manageable and allow time for changes during each stage.

7.  Rewarding Yourself
No activities generate results or profits instantly - whether you are starting a small business, starting training to shed some pounds or taking up a new language course.  Set periodical rewards for yourself such a small purchase, a nice meal with friends or a visit to the long-awaited musical. This would give you something to look forward to, as long as you worked hard to complete what you set out to do.

8.  Get Started
This may sound easier than it seems, but believe me, it is easy. Many tasks or assignments "feel" boring, tiring, uninteresting, but once we take the first step to kickstart, it becomes easier gradually, enjoyable next, and rewarding eventually. This applies to anything from crafting the business plan to starting your evening jogs.

Try these tips out - you'll be amazed at the level of discipline instilled, and improvements to the results. All the best in your new ventures!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

[Media Invite] Dinner at Legend Seafood Restaurant (鸿宇海鲜馆) @ Bishan

Block 151 Bishan Street 11, #01-195, Singapore 570151
Tel: 9183 1580

Located in a bustling residential area a couple of streets away from Zion Bible Presbyterian Church and Bishan Home, is where Legend Seafood Restaurant stands. It is a coffee-shop styled Chinese zichar restaurant, boosting a varied menu consisting of innovative seafood items, meat items and vegetables etc.

Service crew are donned in the same uniform and provide good service to all, despite dinner's peaked patronage. I was honoured to be invited for a tasting session here with representatives from Hungrygowhere, as well as a couple of familiar food reviewers / bloggers.

The starter of the evening was Double Flavour Fish (SGD$60.00), giving us the best of both worlds, in the form of a Grouper prepared 2 ways. Loved the battered deep-fried side that's infused with Thai-style sweet chili sauce, but enjoyed the cereal -covered side even more. This one crackles with light hints of sweetness.

Next, Cheesy Crayfish Bee Hoon (SGD$18.00), comprising generous amounts of bouncy, juicy crayfish and a saccharine, creamy broth.  Hearty, and we were informed that it might even taste like the famous dish in your favorite Malacca restaurant - well, I'll let you decide on that.

Then it was Salted Egg Crab Mee Sua (SGD$32.00), served with fried buns. Enjoyed the springy sweetness of the crabs and smooth strands of meesua (vermicelli) but thought the salted egg's taste could have been a little more distinctive.

The Fried Clams with Soup (SGD$12.00) was one of our favorites of the night. Tasty, fleshy clams in a pool of flavourful clear broth - distinctiveness of Chinese wine within, as well as vegetables to give it a nice balance.

Following that, Crispy Homemade Tofu with Pork Floss  (SGD$12.00) - crispy rectangles of deep-fried beancurd stuffed with pork floss, this was a tasty, innovative local delicacy.

Barbecued Prawns (SGD$16.00) - smokey deliciousness of grilled prawns coated with a familiar savoury-sweet sauce. They were so crispy, you could eat these springy prawns with the shell.

Then there were Salted Egg Pork Ribs (SGD$12.00) - succulent ribs, well-doused with salted egg sauce to give it a richer flavour. I loved how tiny chilli and curry leaves were used to give the dish a subtle pierce.

Next, Deep-fried Egg with Oysters (SGD$10.00) served with sambal sauce. From the golden-brown edges to its entirety, the egg was crispy and simply irresistable. The plump, sumptuous oysters bursted in the palate like a dream, easily making this dish a personal favorite of many of us that evening.

The Butter-Corn Crayfish (SGD$28.00) was relished eagerly as well - sweet and creamy penetration to the bouncy flesh of the crayfish.  Loved how the juicy corn added crunch as well.

Last but not least, Salted Egg Battered Mushrooms, a good appetiser for whetting the appetite - earthly flavour blending well with the salted egg's own. Add on to that a crackling exterior, I don't see how one could stop munching on these.

Overall, we enjoyed dinner here very much - this is a place perfect for hearty local delicacies with friends or family, and the owner Jimson and team are constantly looking to get innovative about their dishes, in keeping up with ever-changing times / food trends.  Thank you Legend Seafood for hosting us, and thank you Hungrygowhere for the invite.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Honeymoon Series [i] - Selecting the Destination

So, with the ending of The Nuptial Series, we shall now see the birth of The Honeymoon Series, an essentiality after the wedding, for us to spend some quality time with each other without the interference of work or family.

Here's Part 1 of The Honeymoon Series, where we begin with firming up the period of travel, budget and venues.  This may also be your step-by-step guide on where and how to plan for the honeymoon without being too fussy or spoilt for choices. Read on.

Yes, a honeymoon, traditionally, should be enjoyed by two persons namely the newly-weds. But these days, with many overseas trips enjoyed way before the wedding already, it is not surprising to hear that some couples include their family members into their honeymoon. 

This is very important as it helps you to determine the places you can afford to visit, as well the length of the honeymoon.  It may also give you an idea of when you can finally go for the honeymoon.

Do you have surplus "earnings" from the wedding ceremonies or monetary wedding gifts you can set aside for honeymoon? Or have you already saved up for it, or intend to start saving up for the honeymoon after settling the wedding expenses? Or do you prefer a shorter honeymoon that does not strain you financially and physically?

How long a honeymoon we can take is very important, as it determines the locations we can then plan to visit, how many cities we can cover, as well as calculating the total costs. Also take into consideration if your company allows for the long leave you intend to apply, or if any other membership, activities, commitment may be affected by your long absence.

Then decide on the season you wish to travel. Are you looking to do a Winter vacation with picturesque snow-capped mountains, trying out skiing, visiting Christmas wonderlands etc? Then bear in mind too that you may need to forgo shopping as most malls would carry winter wear, which is not suitable for the weather back home (Singapore).

We wanted the start of Winter, so that the weather would be neither scorching nor too cold. White Christmas sounds tempting for me but by then it would be too cold and my skin cracks in extremely cold weathers so I would rather not spoil our honeymoon with bad mood each time my skin flakes. The ending of fall / beginning of Winter is just nice.

The first step is to decide on the venue. Somewhere far, somewhere we have not visited before, and wish to explore.

We have between the both of us covered most of Asia itself, including the Australasia regions. Therefore a honeymoon in these continents are out.

How about a nice beach resort, where we get exclusive privacy, be close to scenic waters and totally relax? Such as Bora-Bora, Maldives, Mauritius etc? We could live in resorts on stilts, dine over the waters, swim with the fish, and close our eyes to the sound of lapping waves.  We took that option out as well, as resort trips should be one of those usual trips for us, and we thought it was too un-exciting for a memorable honeymoon.

On my to-visit list are Europe, America, Alaska and Egypt.

We eliminated North America since it was never at the top of the list, and we had visited Vancouver 2 years back, the culture and places bearing close resemblences to the USA. Maybe another time, then. 

We decided against Egypt as well, because while I love the exoticness of it all - tents, deserts, tunnels and pyramids - it wasnt on The Beau's top priority.

We did ponder over Alaska, so that we could see my polar bears, visit the ice palaces, bars, museums etc, and most importantly see the Northern Lights (rumor has it that this is the last year until another decade later). We did some research, on Alaska and Iceland, but other than the Northern lights and ice buildings, we didn't find anything else of interest. 

So we settled on Central Europe, because it encompasses some of my favorite cities such as Paris, Fontainbleu, Venice, Rome, Florence, and UK and Switzerland. We hope to be able to work Santorini and Athens in too.  This should be the best time to visit Europe, so we could explore a few countries at a go.

Finally, at this stage, before you launch into the detailed research, it is vital to determine mode of travel. Are you thinking of going  by guided tours , so that there is safety in numbers and your land transport and accommodation are all taken care of? This would also be good if your honeymoon includes family members.

Or do you prefer to go Free and Easy, so that you are not subject to the brutal hours of the tour itineraries, and can roam anywhere, anytime as you please?

Once you have decided on all the above, it is now time to go into in-depth research of the chosen destinations, the travel agents (if applicable), the hotels and flights etc. Keep a lookout for Part 2 of The Honeymoon Series, where I will share with you on my research.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Dinner at BlissHouse Theme Restaurant at The Central

6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #03-21 Clarke Quay Central, Singapore 059817
Tel: 6225 5532

Having seen many dreamy photographs that my friends took in this themed restaurant, I decided to head over to have a look for myself. I was sufficiently dazzled, indeed.

Herein lies a charming love story of two lovers running away from persecution and into a Garden of Eden (which the restaurant is trying to simulate). Visit their website for the full story, so sweet and romantic - and the restaurant reflects exactly that. This could even make for a really lovely wedding photoshoot or celebration venue!.

Upon stepping in, we were greeted by friendly staff and the good service level persisted throughout the course of our meal. The menu here comprises mostly Western dishes, such as pasta, poultry and seafood, some with Asian twists.

The interior was breathtaking, like a fairyland literally. One could choose to sit by the windows if they wish. Carriages, swings, bridge, fountains and a table surrounded by big Teddies formed part of the beautiful decor, all sitting on faux grass carpeting. Candles lit up all the tables, giving it an almost enchanting quality.

Just so you know, inside the kitchen area (visible to us but probably out of bounds to step) lies a very huge faux fireplace in white as well, blazing with "flames", emanating visual warmth filled with beauty.

Chilli Crab Pasta (SGD$20.80) was robust in flavour -spicy tinged with sweetness, gravy thickened with the beaten egg. Pasta was relatively springy and soft shell crab portions were generous, tasty and crispy.

Sambal Snapper (SGD$20.80) was grilled and topped with sambal chilli, and served with vegetables on the side. Knifepoint slid through crackling skin and touched the snowy flesh which flaked off prettily, firm in texture. Sambal chilli could be more spicy in my opinion - I thought it tasted a little too sweet.

The only drawback was the unavailability of drinks (we were there on the Eve of a public holiday, and the restaurant wasn't very busy) - my Lychee Yogurt was not available so I ordered a pretty pot of Rose Tea (SGD$6.80), sitting on glass-and-candle holder.  *Anoushka wanted Almond Latte but that was not available as well so she settled for Ginger Ale.

Overall, we enjoyed ourselves at this quiet and stunning restaurant, befit for princesses. Yes, one does tend to feel blissful here. I would love to return, if only just for the cakes and more photos.