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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Lunch at Hinode Izakaya (日の出) Japanese Restaurant @ Telok Ayer

Photosource: http://www.hinode.com.sg/place

122 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068591
Tel: 6336 3366

Photosource: http://www.hinode.com.sg

A Japanese Izakaya concept restaurant serving a range of Japanese dishes, with a dim interior, excellent staff crew who are very attentive to your needs (refilling of green tea, clearing plates, greeting people etc) - Hinode Izakaya nestles among a row of shophouses along Telok Ayer. "Hinode" means sunrise by the way, which motto of "fresh produce first of day" the restaurant adopts.

It was relatively quiet on weekday lunchtime.

I started with Sashimi (SGD$5.00) special promotional price - 5 slices of mid-sized, fresh and juicy raw salmon with generous dose of wasabi on the side.

Then the main set came (I didn't know it was a set so it was huge, for a small eater like myself) -  a set of Ika Teppan Set (SGD$14.80), aka Grilled Squid. The entire set comprised of a bowl of Miso Soup, some small sides such as ginger slices, marinated chicken, a bowl of pearl rice, whole grilled squid and the most delicious slice of Matcha (green tea) layered cake.

The squid was smokey tinged with sweetness, but I thought the flesh was a little tough. However, the garlic butter sauce was delicious.

I would definitely like to be back here for lunch - first for the quiet ambiance, and then for the very value-for-money sets. And I might buy the cakes on their own as well (SGD$5.50 per slice) that also comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors.

[Poem] Lost

Drinking you in, 
Letting you settle at 
The pit of my core, 
Feeling the nerves 
Coming alive 
At your piercing touch; 
So why does it still 
Feel like I've already lost? 
Lost to you, lost in you, 
And simply losing you....

Copyright © thearcticstar 2016

Monday, 28 November 2016

The Honeymoon Series [iv] - Rome, Italy

Back in The Honeymoon Series [iii], where we discussed preparations for the honeymoon (click here to read), it seems a dream now that it is over, so surreal, and we enjoyed our honeymoon tremendously.  So we boarded our Emirates Flight from Changi Airport Terminal 1, flew for around 6.5 hours to transit in Dubai International Airport (1.5 hours transit), and then flew another 7 hours to Rome, Italy.


Rome is a beautiful place with romantic history, so be expected to find many beautifully-structured historical buildings and sculptures strewn around the city itself.

Piazza del Colosso, 1, 00184, Roma, Italy
Website: http://www.the-colosseum.net/around/visit.htm

Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, this concrete and sand building used to be the fighting grounds for gladiators and audience would sit around the circular amphitheatre cheering or jeering them on. It costs only 12 euros to enter the building, where you can stand on the inside to admire the building, as well as view other exhibitions in galleries.

Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma, Italy

Named after the Cardinal Venezia, Piazza Venezia is the central hub / square of Rome, Italy. Located at the heart of Italy, this square is where 4 major roads meet and several thoroughfares intersect.

Piazza di Trevi, 00187, Roma, Italy
Website:  http://www.trevifountain.net

Trevi Fountain is an intrinsic work of art, a Baroque sculpture of stone and flowing water, designed by Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci.

The waters are usually flowing gently, beautifully, glistening in their clear aqua-marine hues. However, today when we visited, they were unfortunately doing their cleaning, so waters were too still. But still, toss a coin in and make a wish!

MVSEI VATICANI (Vatican Museums)
Viale Vaticano, 00165, Roma, Italy
Website: http://www.museivaticani.va

Located in the breathtaking Vatican City, the Vatican Museum was founded in the early 16th century by Pop Julius II, with stunning ceilings decorated by Michelango himself. Ticket prices are 16 euros and the museum opens from 9.00am to 4.00pm daily. There are a total of 54 galleries within, some of the more iconic ones being the Sistine Chapel, Chariot Room and works by Raphael.

Piazza San Pietro 00120 Citta del Vaticano, Vatican City
Website: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_pietro/index_it.htm

St. Peter's Basilica, also known as Papal Basilica in Italy, is the largest church in the world, its imposing Renaissance architecture was built over a hundred years ago. One could climb up to the dome aka viewing tower to see the beautiful city of Rome from the top.


Italy is famous for its pasta and pizza, as well as coffee and gelato - so eat your hearts out. Here is a list of restaurants and cafes we dropped in for our meals and desserts. In Italy, some of the cafes are pretty interesting -  you pay anything from 1.5.euros to 4 euros for a good coffee if you takeaway, or sit at the bar counter. If you wish to sit inside at the dining area, you have to pay a higher price or order something else.

Piazza di Trevi 99 Fontana di Trevi, Roma 187

Their brightly-hued, colorful pastries and pleasant service made the cafe experience lovely. We enjoyed tasty cups of Espresso (1 euro) and Cappuccino (2.5 euros) at very low price, and the Italian roast was quite lovely, especially in freezing weather in the Winter.

So we bought this at a shop at Trevi Piazza, near the fountain area, but lost the photo that showed the shop name. If anyone reading this blog recognizes the geleto display or cup they are using, please be so kind as to inform me as to the gelato shop's name.

They were very friendly on service, letting us try many flavours of gelato before making a decision. They also have many types of flavours to select from. We enjoyed the Pistachio flavour and Tiramisu flavour very much.

Large Dino Frisullo, Roma, Italy
Website: http://www.stazionediposta.eu

A beautiful restaurant located within a ranch-like area, with lots of vegetable plots and vast greenery. The interior was pretty with different types of seating - conventional rectangle tables or couches.  Service was rather attentive and drinking water was served. We had their homemade Bread, a delicious Cream of Broccoli with Mussels, palatable Provencal Cheese & Tomato Risotto, some Seabass dish as well as dessert of Poached Pear and Chocolate.

Via dei Monti di Pietralata 26, 00157, Roma, Italy
Website: http://www.darbottarolo.it

A casual Italian restaurant with a laid-back, homely feel, good for eating and drinking. Their pizzas were simple, in either Red base or White base - we shared 3 pizzas among 6 of us - Prosciutto, Onion and Funghi. Not bad, the pizza slabs had thin, crispy base and little ingredients but flavours were good. Each of us only spent around 15 euros, including drinks.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Rome, which was suggested to be a 3.5 to 4-star hotel. It is located near Vatican Forum, St. Peter's Basilica for tourist attractions, and this hotel was our "home" for 2 nights. The rate per night is around SGD$100.00

Via della Pisana, 374 Rome, RM 00163, Italy
Website: https://goo.gl/KiCQx8

A comfortable, low-rise hotel near to the touristy spots and has rather good service. The only drawback was a too-tiny bathroom area. The hotel itself houses 2 restaurants, has wi-fi in rooms, concierge service, wakeup call service, doctors on call, etc. While there are only residential buildings in its immediately surroundings, one may take a 15-minute walk to where there are convenience stores, restaurants and petrol stations to get some shopping done or have their meals.

We loved Rome overall, but were constantly reminded to guard our belongings very closely.

[Poem] The Price of Fame

You could take me to the top, 
Bask in the glory of my hard work, 
Taking all credit under your name, 
But you will not break me. 
You could paint your own picture, 
But everyone sees through the canvas, 
What reality a little gold can buy, 
I am not paying the price for fame.

Copyright © thearcticstar 2016

Saturday, 26 November 2016

New Year's Eve Dinner at Chicken Up Korean Fried Chicken @ Tanjong Pagar (Revisit)

48 Tanjong Pagar Road #01-01, Singapore 088469
Tel: 6327 1203

By the time I post this review, I realize that nearly a year is up, and it would soon be time to post another New Year's eve review. For review on my previous visit to Chicken Up, check it out here. We came on New Year's Eve, just in time to welcome brand new 2016. By then, Chicken Up has expanded by quite a fair bit, with some "fast-food" concept outlets serving mainly fried chicken without any alcoholic drinks - we had initially went to the Jurong East outlet and discovered that, so popped down to its flagship Tanjong Pagar branch.

During my second visit, it was mainly to bring The Beau to try Korean Fried Chicken and Watermelon Soju. We were seated upstairs this time round.

Watermelon Soju (SGD$38.00) came first, working up our appetite for food and quenching thirst throughout and after the meal. It was sweet, cooling and alcohol content was fairly robust, which was what I liked.

Bulgogi Fries (SGD$18.00) - shoestring fries loaded with delicious soy-marinated beef and a load of other homemade ingredients, like your Western beef fries but varying in taste.

Finally, the next main reason for being here - Korean Fried Chicken Wings (SGD$12.00 for 4 pieces). We ordered 2 different flavours, being the "Ganjang" aka soy and "Yangnyum" - the latter being a sweetish chilli sauce. The Deep-fried Chicken Wings were crispy and deeply immersed in flavours, yet still manage to retain moisture. Needless to say, both of us enjoyed them very much.

Not bad, thumbs up for Chicken Up once again. On a sidenote, wonder what happened to its garlic flavour?

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Dinner at Kushi Dining Bar @ MacPherson (Revisit)

526 MacPherson Road, Singapore 368216
Tel: 6285 6525

I visited Kushi Dining Bar twice when it was at Windsor Hotel, MacPherson (review here), and then it moved to Hotel Royal. It seems that lately, it has relocated back to MacPherson area - hopefully business is better for them back in that area.

Kushi Dining Bar is helmed by a Chef with more than 20 years of experience, and serves up a wide variety of Kushiyaki items as well as fresh items from the famous Tsukuji Market in Tokyo, Japan. The dining concept here is mainly ala carte buffet style beginning with hot pot, sashimi, sushi and tempura dishes, etc. Decor is lavish and authentic Japanese, and service is attentive.

They now have 3 different types of buffet and pricings as follows:
Classic Buffet Lunch:  SGD$41.90 (weekdays) / SGD$44.90 (weekends)
Classic Buffet Dinner: SGD$49.90 (weekdays) / SGD$52.90 (weekends)
Premium Buffet Lunch: SGD$61.90 (weekdays) / SGD$64.90 (weekends)
Premium Buffet Dinner: SGD$69.90 (weekdays) / SGD$72.90 (weekends)
Gourmet Buffet Lunch: SGD$118.00 
Gourmet Buffet Dinner: SGD$128.00

Chawanmushi was steaming hot and loaded with delicious shitake mushroom, chicken and gingko nuts within the egg custard itself.

A platter of Fresh Oysters with gentle seasoning pleased the palate immensely, with the smooth, tasty flesh sliding down our throats deliciously.

Next, an assortment of very fresh, almost-bouncy fleshed Sashimi slices awaited us with its saccharine tenderness, putting our palates to an unbearable pleasure of taste paradise. Raw fish lovers would love this treat, and we had a second helping thereafter. See how thick the slices of quality Sashimi are?

Following that, Hotpot consisting of Seafood items, vegetables and Beef. The luscious broth was made tastier by the prawns and meats tossed in, a good balance of meats and vegetables, tofu, as well as liquid diet for us. Mind you, this pot of goodness was addictive but filling.

Afterwards, we succumbed to the prowess of some Sushi and more thick-wedged Sashimi. The Aburi Salmon Sushi had us yearning for more, its melty texture so delicious, but our bellies were protesting against more food.

Last but not least, some Tempura, just because we had to try them here. It would not feel complete without these deep-fried favorites, as a part of Japanese buffet dining. Soft-shelled Crab was palatable, and the Ebi Tempura (prawn) had a light, crackling batter.

Finally, we concluded the savoury meal with some desserts - Matcha (green tea) Ice-cream with Azuki (red bean) toppings. The creamy texture and distinctive green tea aroma of the ice-cream rounded up the meal beautifully.

I love Kushi Bar's Japanese buffet, and would return soon again for more. It is still one of the best I have had so far.

For  more Japanese Buffet reviews, click below:

(i)  Sushi Kanazawa at International Building
(ii) Irodori Japanese Restaurant at Furama Riverfront
(iii)  Ikoi Japanese Restaurant at Miramir Hotel
(iv) Shin Minori Japanese Restaurant at UE Square
(v)  Shinkei Japanese Restaurant at Toa Payoh
(vi) Z'en Japanese Restaurant at UE Square
(vii) Chiso Zanmai Japanese Restaurant at The Central
(viii)  Mitsuba Japanese Restaurant @ The Central
(ix)  Senki Japanese Restaurant at Somerset

[Poem] Swing of Things

Take a swig, 
To get into the swing of things. 
Fret not, At the winds of change, 
The turn of the tides, 
Fear is replaced by numbness. 

Copyright © thearcticstar 2016

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Review on Facial Treatment at Victoria Facelift @ Plaza Singapura

68 Orchard Road #04-58 Plaza Singapura, Singapore 238839
Tel: 6684 3232

Victoria Facelift provides non-invasive facelift treatments for its clientele, as well as a range of other facial services such as facial contouring, moisturizing facial etc.

Claimed to be founded by a British doctor named Victoria with no last name, this beauty / skincare establishment has been around in Kuala Lumpur for 4 years, but only penetrated Singapore in 2015. Since then, it already has 7 outlets across the island! Decor is pretty, mostly mint green hues with elaborate lighting and plush grey chairs - kind of Victorian style too.

One can be expected to be served by professionals (even though they could sound pretty pushy over the phone - kept pushing for earlier appointments even though I already selected a suitable date), friendly crew with good service, those that care to speak softly throughout treatments instead of loud chatter or hard-sell singsong.

I was invited here for their Non-invasive Facelift Treatment (worth SGD$388.00). Registration, declaration of health and skin conditions, as well as facial scans were all conducted in the Consultation Room. Instead of talking merely about saggy skin and fine lines (which was expected), my therapist Rene also touched on moisture level of skin and clogged pores issues. That was when I realized they were more than just a facelift centre.

Then I was brought to the neat but well-kept Treatment Room, where I changed into a mint green robe.

My makeup was removed and skin was cleansed by Rene. She was very detailed and informative, explaining each step gently and taking care that I was kept comfortable and warm in the super cold room.

Geranium Oil was then rubbed over my shoulder blades and a soothing shoulder and head massage took place - the perfect thing I need for a stressful week.

Then photos were taken of my face, noting the shape and skin condition. Next, a  Mask Sheet was lain over my face to moisturize and soften the skin, so that impurities can be removed and pores unclogged. She explained that moisturization is the best way to free the pores, preventing oil glands from producing more oil if skin is dry. She also mentioned that solutions are customized for each individual client here.

Another mask sheet was placed over my face next, serving similar effects I think, but containing a pleasant floral fragrance. I believe she explained but I was comfortably drifting in and out of sleep.

Cold Nutrients Gel and Treatment Gel were spread across my face thickly next, and then Rene used the machine to go around my face in a massaging motion. This would help to tone and lift the skin. It didn't hurt or anything, just a touch of warmth felt.

Following that, she covered my eyes and mouth, and sprayed some "B-lift" (sp) onto my face. I was left alone for a few minutes so my skin could absorb the lifting spray, before she applied moisturizer and eye gel for me.

Another round of photographs were taken. We returned to the Consultation Room where I enjoyed a Marine Collagen drink while Rene scanned my face and explained the differences. Yes, skin felt more firm,  hydrated, soothed, and blackheads were cleared.

Thank you Victoria Facelift and Rene for pampering my skin, as well as the excellent service provided!