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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Kin Kin Ban Mian in KL vs Kin Kin Ban Mian in Singapore

Having tried the Dried Ban Mian in Restoran Kin Kin in Kuala Lumpur (KL) two years ago, and still remembering how nice it was, I was glad when Kin Kin came to Singapore. However, it took me a while to finally decide to drop by to try it, because when it first opened, the queue could take 2 hours (including waiting time) so I wasn't about to do that for any food at all.

I finally got to try it today anyway, and would be writing about the Dried Ban Mian (handmade noodles) at the KL's Kin Kin and the local Kin Kin.

Well, here comes the verdict:

Kuala Lumpur's Restoran Kin Kin
40 Jalan Sultan Sulaiman, Kampong Baru, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, 
Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +601 163728069

It came in a big bowl with pale, spaghetti-like noodles, Ikan bilis (anchovies), chilli paste, spring onions and a poached egg - a very simple getup of a meal. It was my first time trying out dried version of Ban Mian (usually it is cooked in soup), so we were told by our KL friend to toss them together and dig in.

The first bite was incredible - it was delicious despite the simple ingredients. The noodles were springy and the noodles mixed in the homemade chilli paste were very spicy and delicious - the taste stayed in my mind for months, and it was hard not to crave it.

Price-wise, it was RM6.00 (around SGD$2.50 as of today), meaning to say that it was a very affordable price as a meal. The only drawback was the setting - an old, non-airconditioned coffee shop but when the food is so good, what's forgoing 30 minutes of comfort?

Singapore's Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee
534 MacPherson Road, Singapore 368220
Tel: 6743 1372

The Singapore's version ... oh well, there is a more extensive menu, for one. It came in a big bowl with a side bowl of vegetable soup on the side - something which I appreciated, and deemed as rather thoughtful. Of course, the price of one bowl of Signature Dry Chilli Ban Mian here cost SGD$5.00 here.

The noodles were served with a little chilli, ikan bilis (anchovies), meat balls, a poached egg and shallot in lieu of spring onion.

I began to toss the noodles with the other ingredients (always get a thrill of poking the egg yolk and watching it flowing luxuriously over my food). Upon taking the first bite, I found it to be rather bland in flavor - there was not much hint of spiciness, nothing like the one I had in KL. I tried a second bite, and came up with the same verdict. Maybe they are trying to tailor the taste to suit locals' tastebud (cannot be too spicy).

Then I spotted the "Pan Mee Chilli" on the tabletop and that made all the difference. I slowly added chilli powder in dollop after dollop - after about 5 full dollops (I love spicy food by the way), the taste was finally adjusted to a close resemblance of the one I had in KL. Now my noodles was spicy and crispy with the anchovies, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

The addition of meatballs was another nice touch. Lastly, the restaurant is air-conditioned so it was comfortable eating here, even during lunch hours.

I enjoy both the noodles in KL and Singapore - but ambience wise I would choose Singapore for sure, as well as for the soup that balances the dryness of the noodles well.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Lunch at The Provision Shop @ Everton Park

Block 3 Everton Park #01-79 Singapore 080003
Tel: 6225 9931

The Provision Shop is a cosy, below-the-block cafe located at Everton Park, and is one of the many fabulous businesses under the Unlisted Collection establishment.

It is a small cafe, usually filled with diners from the offices and government workers nearby, as well as some cafe-hopping hipsters. The outdoors consist of vintage-Chinese tables and colorful schoolchildren chairs, and the indoors boost backless wooden seats that are comfortable enough for chilling out.  I appreciate that despite the space of this cafe, the tables are rather well spaced-out.

*Sidney and I checked out the menu and array of pastries on display, taking some time to make up our mind because everything looked good. They have the daily Set Lunch at SGD$14.00 - consisting of half a sandwich, and a hot drink, very value for money.

We began with a Belinda's Perogis (SGD$6.90) - traditional hot Polish dumplings filled with mashed potatoes and Ricotta cheese, topped with bacon bits, onion and sour cream. The huge dumpling was creamy in texture but rather nondescript in taste  - we could not taste the cheese flavor, so I needed to eat it with the saltish bacon bits.

For mains, *Sidney had the Reuben Sandwich (SGD$14.00), consisting of corned beef, Sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese. The slice of corned beef was rather thin, like ham, with a chewy texture that went well with the soft bread.  Other than that, we thought the sandwich was pretty all right (*Sidney commented that standard had somewhat dropped from his last visit - he had the same dish, and it was a lot better).

My choice of mains was the Corned Beef Hash (SGD$14.00) - comprising of potatoes, corned beef, onions, poached egg, asparagus and a dollop of sour cream. I requested to add Smoked Salmon and it was granted (additional charges but I don't know how much because I did not pay the bill).  This dish contains ALL my favorite things - crispy edged potato cubes, corned beef (though the tender version would have been more superb), sweet crunchy asparagus and a large poached egg sitting atop. It was delicious for sure, a very satisfying lunch.

Dessert time came next - not that we were still hungry, but curiosity killed the control, so we shared a slice of Cheesecake (SGD$6.90) that contained of three layers. The cheese flavor was gentle but the texture was rather coarse and hard.

What's a cafe visit without coffee? The coffee art at this place is unique and utterly beautiful!  *Sidney had a Mocha (SGD$5.00).

I chose a Cuppaccino (SGD$5.00) which came with lovely outlook and was the right amount of bittersweet-ness that I liked, so it made for a good caffeine boost.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Farewell, Founding Father of the Little Red Dot

Singapore has formed a human chain,
Looped around where you now lay far too still,
Braving the weather rain or shine, or giving up sleep,
Muttering not a word of complaint,
As we walk towards you, baby steps towards you,
With only our respect, time and tears to spare.

Can you see the unity of your people in this picture,
The people that you took great care of -
Men and women with white hair and toothy grins,
Young and old regardless of race - 
Joined by people of the globe, in awe,
Edging towards your force - so strong even in death.

You portray a stern and hard facade to the public -
Even ruthless, heartless, even Machiavellian,
Yet your people digress, painting the softer side
Of you, as a great leader, patient and friend;
Yet the love you have shown for your family
And wife, greatly moves us in silence.

A mystery - that is what you are -
Firm in certain values, yet keeping an open mind;
Like the father whose care runs deeper than words,
Like the builder who explored unchartered territories-
Opening up possibilities for a muddy piece of land,
Now cemented firmly in prosperity's paths.

And your name, your name is Light and Glory,
High standards to live up to - but you attained,
By leading a country so poor and polluted (corrupt)
To where peace, prosperity and potential await;
The men who fought alongside with you -
Were never un-mentioned, though some may have left.

Possesive, were you, guarding the nation protectively-
As if it were your very own - but it indeed is yours,
This tiny red dot we have come to call our own,
Built and crafted by your lifetime of brilliance,
Sweat, efforts, energies and concerns,
Even in sickness your thoughts were never on yourself.

Haters may hate your guts, liars may deny you credit,
Hardening your heart to rid all that post threats;
The dirt and pain of politics are lined in gray, raining
Upon you but you shouldered all of them,
With only one goal in mind - bringing Singapore up,
Developing and grooming it was all that mattered.

Now as you go gently into the good night, Sir,
Thank you for your dedication and diligence;
Though we may never again see your familiar face,
In live recordings of parliament meets or NDP,
You have left your marks in all that we dwell upon,
The inspirations, the legacy, that comfort you planted.
copyright © thearcticstar 2015. 

Singaporeans - and many foreigners, for that matter, have not uttered a word of complaint as the queue continues to form day after day, hour after hour, and inspite of the weather conditions.  This is contrary to the accusations that we are a complaining lot.

For that matter, there are / were many volunteers who have generously offered their monetary resources, time and energies to give out refreshments, meals, drinks, umbrellas etc to those who took pains to stay in the hours of queue - which contravenes the accusations of us being "selfish".

These are your people, Sir LKY - the ones you have watched over in life. Whether you may choose to continue watching over us in spirit now, we know not - and we are saddened by the loss of you - but rest in peace, rest well in the arms of your beloved wife Mrs Lee, if you will.

Deepest condolences to the family of Sir Lee as well - take good care of yourself so you may be able to take good care of your (father's) people....

Friday, 27 March 2015

Paying Last Respects to Sir (Harry) Lee Kuan Yew

1 Old Parliament Lane, Parliament House, Singapore 179429

Occasion:  Sir Lee Kuan Yew's lying in state
Date: 25 March 2015 - 29 March 2015

Prior to my post here (about whether Sir Lee would pull through), the heartbreaking news have been released - he left us on 23 March 2015 at 3.18am in the morning. We know that he is not immortal hence death is inevitable, but the demise still brought about grief.

Source: unknown - being circulated, depicting the queue on the first day of Sir Lee's lying-in-state

After a private ceremony for his family at Sri Temasek (Istana), Sir Lee's body was transported by gun cannon to the Parliament House. He was being accorded the highest State honour, and his body would lie in state for about 5 days before the cremation. The public could go and pay their last respects to the Founding Father of the Nation - I guess no one expected the crowd to be so overwhelming (see picture above) - the first men to enter the Parliament House began queuing at 11.00pm the night before. 

The original 10.00am - 8.00pm "visiting hours" were extended to 24 hours, with train and bus services accommodating the same hours (some nights, for trains) so as to facilitate the visitors' home-going after midnight.

We joined the queue on 26 March 2015 (Thursday) at 3.30pm under the sweltering hot sun. It was my first time queuing for anything at all - I never queued for Hello Kitty (don't fancy them), never for IT or travel fairs, never for Tim Ho Wan or Din Tai Fung restaurants, never for H&M's Alexander McQueen collaboration launch, and certainly not for Apple Iphones.

But this was different - this was the last chance to "see" the man who helped Singapore become what it is today, who shaped and built a nation under his very hands - a living legend whose legacy shall never waver. I shall share my experience of the 5-hours long Queue herein.

We reached the Padang (photos with the green grass patch) after joining a long queue that formed at St. Andrew's Cathedral, City Hall. It was sunny, around 33 Degrees Celsius, and we were still looking relatively fresh, all hyped up and determined to stick it out (trust me when I say, by the end of the queue we looked a hundred times worse).  Everyone was appropriately donned in shades of black, grey, white and blue - dull, solemn colours.

The wait was arduous given the weather conditions, but we were grateful that weather was clear (the alternative would have been unthinkable). People of all nationalities, ages and races formed the line, with priority given to the elderly and pregnant ladies.  Some were carrying flowers or handmade cards / posters while others were carrying their umbrellas so low they nearly poked some eyeballs out.

At The Padang, there were at least some tents for shelter. Overall, the entire walk from City Hall to Padang (and at Padang itself) was rather orderly, with military / governmental personnel directing the flow along the way. It was very gratifying to have the unsung heroes distributing mineral water, packet drinks, canned herbals tea, croissants, burgers, bread, crackers etc along the way - all out of their own volition and precious time.

Was also grateful that the entire lot of people was rather civilised and non-rowdy, so there was no risk of being stampeded or trampled over. The small discomfort were some sore feet, being jostled / bumped against by some impatient souls here and there, as well as having to battle some cooties-like lifeforms at the junction between Parliament House & Cricket Club. Because of the crowd and heat, the atmosphere could get rather stifling as well, and it is not uncommon to feel a little bout or two of dizziness at times. These minor annoyances were nothing - absolutely nothing at all - you could not even call these "sacrifices" compared to what Sir Lee had given up for us as a whole.

Mobile lavatories were available at the roadside in case anyone needed to answer to Nature's calls along the way.

Once we entered the White Tents set up along Parliament House, we knew the wait would be over soon. After they scanned our belongings and us, we were finally in the last lap of the journey. From being extremely chatty to waning of high spirits, the mood became heavier with each step that brought us closer to the hall containing Sir Lee's mortal shell.

We finally entered the cool, air-conditioned hall that bore all the air of regal formality. It was here that the pent-up sadness felt free to let loose and everyone became a little emotional, especially when we were faced with his framed photograph with the elegant casket looking so imposing in the centre.  After a couple of bows, muttering thank-yous and good-byes, we exited. That was it - 5 hours of queuing for 3 minutes of fame.

Photosource: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/681233/lee-kuan-yew-lies-in-state-as-singaporeans-bid-farewell

It was over. This man who gave Singapore its name, its rankings in the world, its life - who shaped, built and molded the "tiny red dot" into a prosperous nation, has finally decided to relinquish his kingdom. He has set a very good foundation - would the future generations be able to upkeep the standards, improvise upon it, or at least maintain? 

I suddenly realize that I would no longer be able to watch him live on TV again, giving one of his many powerful and insightful speeches, looking through the society with sharp eyes; neither would I be able to see him waving to us during National Day Parades again. 

His mortal shell may have been gone, but everything that remains bears his brilliant touch. The well-maintained buildings, the even roads, the potable water we enjoy the moment we turn on the taps, the thriving economy and the safe streets - no, they did not spring out of eggshells or magic. Thank you, Mr. Lee.

Photosource: http://www.ghettosingapore.com/a-chinatown-reminiscent-of-the-old/

Photosource: http://learntechconf.com/delegate-information/about-singapore/

Politics aside, and accusations of his "ruthlessness", :"heartlessness" etc aside - his achievements were certainly no easy feat. It took a lot of brilliance, dedication and efforts to turn this country into what it is today. Sir Lee took up the challenge and the responsibility of that, guarding the country till the day he took his last breath.

No, I am not brain-washed by the Men in White (and never would be); I have my own political preferences. But people need to be rational and understand that a political party is a political party - what someone has done for everyone, is a separate matter.  

It irks me especially upon reading comments from those who suggested "let's celebrate" or "the dictator has finally died" etc - PLS GROW UP! You don't have to say very nice things if you don't wish to, but there is no need for such comments because one day you would be the one lying in the long brown box too. If you are so disgruntled, you don't need to turn on the taps and drink the potable water he has arranged for the nation; you don't have to fly out from the airport he has placed on the top of the charts, and you don't have to live here where his vision (and hard work) has taken us.

Photosource: http://www.iproperty.com.sg/news/3215/Should-Lee-Kuan-Yew's-home-be-demolished?

His own living room looks like this - one of the other discoveries about him that I thought was very moving (besides the strong and deep love he has for his wife Mdm Kwa). I always imagined his home to be filled with expensive oak and rosewood furniture, with sophisticated armoire and heavyset tables; and that everytime they enjoyed a meal in the beautiful settings it would be a rather formal affair.  I never expected this simplicity, this untouched vintage set of furniture that exhibits his frugality towards himself.

If there are things I could learn from this giant of a man, it would be:
(i) his determination to make good his word
(ii) his unwavering diligence, even during the moments before his surgery
(iii) despite being overwhelmed by work and responsibility, he held great love for his partner
(iv) his dedication to his posts
(v) his high adaptability in ever-changing times

Thank you, Sir Harry Lee KY-  as you go gently into the good night, I would like to give you this quote, by Albert Pike "what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for others and the world remains, and is immortal"....

Rest in peace.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Review on Lancome's La Base Pro Pore Eraser (base / primer)

I received a sample for Lancome's La Base PRO Pore Eraser, which is both a pore minimiser as well as a makeup base / primer. This sample was a godsend from the Lancome counter, during my last purchase of another product. It is 5ml and comes with a really pretty pearl-white tube as well as silver box.

This pore eraser is oil-free, has a mattifying effect upon application, and is suitable for sensitive skin.  It is lightweight as well as light-reflecting, leaving skin feeling velvety the entire day. It claims to give an airbrushed, poreless look by applying just a pea-sized amount.

At retail counters in Singapore, the full-sized product at 20ml would cost SGD$68.00.  Anyway, I have used it on my face and yes, it feels and looks exactly as described in reviews and product description-  it shrinks pores dramatically, seeming to close up all the pores on the face. It feels incredibly velvety smooth as well, blending well with makeup and staying on for at least 8 hours.

In this demonstration, you can feel free to check my porous (back of) the hand out.

So, I squeeze a little bit of the precious pore eraser cream / gel onto my fingers out. The product glides on to the skin easily.

After rubbing it gently over the back of both hands, ensuring to spread it evenly, this is the result.  You can compare the effect against the 3rd photo in this post (as above), or note the amazing contrast between the back of my hand and the wrist area. The skin on the back of hand looks smoother, brighter and the pores have nearly been "sealed" over, leaving smooth satiny lovely, ready for foundation to glide on beautifully.

My sample is nearly finished, hence I will definitely purchase this pore eraser for daily use.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lunch at Lingzhi Vegetarian Restaurant

238 Thomson Road #03-09 / 10  Velocity@ Novena Square, Singapore 307683
Tel: 6538 2992

LingZhi Vegetarian Restaurant is the vegetarian arm under Tung Lok Group, serving gourmet non-meat fine dining cuisine. There are two outlets currently, one at Liat Towers and the other at Velocity at Novena Square - we chose the latter for lunch.

I have been wanting to try a fine dining vegetarian meal for a long time, so I was glad to finally be able to get *Zachary to go with me.

From its exterior to the interior, the Chinese Vegetarian restaurant maintains a clean-cut and neat appearance, with a touch of understated elegance. The tables inside are well-spaced apart  as well.

One could choose to have buffet-styled lunch or order a la carte from the menu. The buffet items include soup, some fried items, mock meat items, vegetables etc.

We chose the latter, and their menu does consist of many tempting looking, innovative dishes. We ordered some dishes to share and try. There was also a pot of Chinese Tea (SGD$3.00 for 2 pax).

The first selected dish was the Golden Delight Soup (SGD$15.00) - basically shark's fin melon with lily bulbs, bird's nest and golden mushrooms in a clear broth. It was surprisingly tasty even without the presence of meat, having been infused with the stronger flavor of the mushrooms. The lily bulb added crunch to the soup, and the shark's fin melon looked exactly like shark's fin in its shredded form.

Curiosity piqued us to try the Vegetarian Satay (SGD$16.00) - 4 thick skewers of chestnut, mushrooms, green pepper and what seemed like fried flour or dried beancurd (taupok), all drenched in the dense coating of satay peanut sauce. It was a little spicy, but very delicious. The usuage of the fried flour / taupok as well as chestnuts gave the skewers a good bite as well.

We had a bowl of Udon Noodles (SGD$7.00) in a light tomato soup alongside some mushrooms and vegetables. The noodles were smooth and the light broth was tasty in a healthy manner.

Next, the Deep Fried Lotus Root Rolls (SGD$18.00) which had actually been named as "seafood rolls" or something on the a la carte menu, and that was the only reason I had ordered it (to try mock seafood). Turned out that it was all deep fried lotus rolls with a crispy exterior and sticky interior, stuffed with some vegetables. The taste was rather bland, and this dish was very filling.

Finally, the Claypot Eggplant which was cooked with potatoes and mushrooms in a viscous, spicy gravy. The eggplant were stuffed with tofu, giving it an extra touch of silkiness, but also making the dish more filling than it already is. The four fried buns served on the side are for dipping the thick gravy, and it was a good complement.

Overall, the dining experience at Lingzhi Vegetarian Restaurant was good. The food items were delicious despite the absence of any meat, and portions were rather generous. The only thumbs down would probably be that the ingredients were mainly using flour or carbo, so for those carbo-freaks, you might find these dishes a little too heavy.