Friday, 31 October 2014

HTC One M8: 5 reasons why I won't be switching to the iPhone 6

So the past month has been all about the iPhone 6, which is for the first time ever having a bigger screen size due to pressures from other manufacturers who have gone from big to gigantic. Even though I felt my heart twitch a beat when I saw how gorgeous the curves are on the 6, this time round I am strangely not compelled at all to go out and get it, mainly because I already have a smartphone, the HTC One (M8) that I am very happy about. Let me tell you why.



1. The screen
It's slightly bigger than the 6, but its not really about the size (though it helps) but the quality of it. It has a 1920px by 1080px resolution, which means there's more pixels cramped in this small 5" screen than there is on my 20" monitor (1440 x 900px) at home. How crazy is that? I really enjoy looking at things on it because it's so clear and big. And the screen is strangely fingerprint-repellent, by the way. I don't know why but I really liked that it does that, by some sorcery disguised as technological innovation not doubt.

2. Android OS without all the junk
I realize even though I use Macbooks at work and home, I'm not forcibly "tied into the system" because I really didn't like the updates they have been doing lately to the iOS design and all the interconnectedness between phone and computer is really not necessary for me. What I realize is that I am however using Google products every day, from Chrome to Gmail, Maps and YouTube. All of which works seamlessly on the Android OS (install the Google keyboard on your HTC One to get a better typing experience too! This is very important!) and pre-installed. Another good thing is that beyond a few native apps, HTC does not install junk apps on your phone that you do not need (and cannot delete).

3. The sound and camera
I love watching the odd YouTube video now and then, especially at night before bed and I want to unwind. Instead of getting my iPad out, I now just use my HTC one, which comes with two front-facing speakers with Beats audio that has crystal clear and more importantly, loud sound.

For camera, I love the uFocus feature that's unique to the HTC, where after you take the photo you can select which part to focus on, and the rest gets blurred out. Read more about it on fonearena.com.



4. Little nifty gestures
Again, this might not seem much at first, but it's just so intelligent. You can pick up a call by just lifting it to your ear - there's no need to tap on "answer". You can reject a call by flipping the phone onto it's front. The ringtone volume can also soften as you pick it up towards you, when you receive a call. You can also switch between cameras by swiping the camera screen to the left or right (yes, iPhone does that too), which I learnt from stooffi, a fellow HTC user. 

5. Battery life
Any iPhone user will agree that battery life on the Apple phones are not the best. I often find my iPhone 5 not lasting beyond 3/4 of a day before it gets to 5%, which is when I start to panic. When I got the HTC, I can leave my house with 100%, and still have 35% left when I am home after dinner. That's pretty impressive if you consider how much of a social media and IM user I am! Its not just me too -- battery tests by tech magazines concur.

Source: phonearena.com


So there you go! The five reasons why I am sticking to the HTC One M8, and why you should be getting one too! Check out their price plans at your local telcos (such as StarHub) and be pleasantly surprised at how good it is.



Thanks to HTC for sending across the review unit! This article is 100% my own opinion and not a paid advertorial.

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Japanese Teppanyaki Buffet Lunch at Shima, Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221

In case you are wondering if teppanyaki from Shima at Goodwood Park Hotel any good, let me save you the time and research and just give you the answer now. YES. If there is one teppanyaki restaurant you want to go to this year or the next, make that Shima. 

是吗?是, 是。(haha sorry I couldn't resist it).

Having recently renovated, this institution of a restaurant has been around since 1980, which makes it probably the oldest teppanyaki restaurant in Singapore! The interior has been updated, but they have kept the 1-inch thick cast iron griddles that has been around since the beginning because those things just get better with age and can spread and maintain heat like no other.

The teppanyaki lunch buffets are really value for money. It's

- $49.90++/pax on weekdays
- $59.90++/pax on weekends and public holidays (selection offers a few more dishes)

Because this is a buffet, it means you can order from the menu items as much as you like. FREE FLOW sashimi and everything!



We had the pleasure of having Sous Chef Victor Yok to prepare the teppanyaki for us. He was with Shima since 1984, and we could all tell how experienced he is in making the food. He also shared some tales with us of weird requests from customers over the years, including making full-vegetarian teppanyaki, and custom-making oyster omelette (he might do it for you if you ask nicely!)


The salmon sashimi was so fresh, so omega, so delicious. 

The prawn tempura was also a classic execution.

What we all liked quite a fair bit was the poached salmon in secret sauce ($25). Chef placed these well-portioned Norwegian salmon on aluminium containers, poured some home made sauce in, and let it sizzle for a quick beat. We could see the salmon turning color and smell it while it was cooking - that's the beauty of teppanyaki!

We also had some prawns, which was also good.

Followed by oysters, cooked on the griddle too! They are from Hokkaido. I've never had oysters prepared this way before. It was coated with a mix of garlic and seasoning, that mixes well with the small but flavorful oysters.

We also had teriyaki chicken, and no fault can be found with it.

The highlight of the meal was the beef. While Australian Tenderloin will typically be served on the buffet menu, we had the chance to try the US Tenderloin (available on ala carte menu, $45 for 120g). I'm sure any beef cooked by chef will taste amazing though.


Look at that! We all had our cameras ready to snap this fiery performance. It was over in a flash.

Resulting in perfection on a plate, like so. 
It tasted as good as you'd imagine (and how it'd looked).

We ended with some garlic butter fried rice (a bit too bitter for me. I'll recommend you to skip the rice and go for more salmon sashimi or beef if you are not a garlic rice fan).

There was also ice cream (sesame and matcha) as well as fruits for dessert, as we adjourned to another area away from the griddle to digest and chat. Actually I really liked the ice creams - they were creamy and smooth, so do look out for it and don't skip it thinking it's some average ice cream!


SHIMA at Goodwood Park is really THE place to go for teppanyaki, so do make a mental note to put down a weekend buffet lunch with family or friends. Otherwise it is also worth going for their ala carte dinner menu if you are a small but picky eater looking for some high quality Japanese teppanyaki.
SHIMA
Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221
Tel: +65 6734 6281
Open daily, lunch from 12noon to 3pm, dinner from 6pm to 10pm
Reservations for the lunch buffet are highly recommended to avoid any disappointment.

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Monday, 27 October 2014

Italian Dining: Trattoria Gallo D'Oro at Central Mall, #01-03 7 Magazine Rd, Singapore 059570

I might have possibly found Singapore's best Italian restaurant. It is also probably one of the best kept secret in Singapore only because it is tucked away at the gigantic maze that is Central Mall (not Central at Eu Tong Sen/MRT, mind you) on Magazine Road, which took about 15 minutes to walk to from Clarke Quay MRT. The invite for Trattoria Gallo D'Oro also only came by because of the beer pairing collaboration with Wunderbar, which is a Bavarian beer that is being imported here by a lovely Singaporean couple. 

Walk to Block 7, and find this entrance. Gallo D'oro means the Golden Rooster. Very auspicious name for a restaurant, don't you think?


The interior is rustic, authentic and very comfortable. It's no fine dining, but more of an unpretentious place for friends to gather and have a good time.

The man behind this restaurant is Executive Chef and owner Silvio Morelli, who hailed from Italy but speaks fluent French. He had a background in Fine Arts and Industrial Design, but chose instead to go into the culinary arts after graduation, to work all over the world including with a 3-star Michelin Chef in France! Despite being a chef, he continued to dabble in art and you could see many of his artwork on display in the restaurant. What a talented genius.

We started with a glass of campari & prosecco plus the amuse bouche, which is just a small but carefully put together bruschetta. That definitely whetted my appetite for what's to come, which looking at the tasting menu that day, seemed to be quite a feast. 


The first appetizer was the Crispy Scallops with Ricotta Cheese and White Truffle ($36). Can you already tell how skillful the chef is, from the plating alone? The scallops were not too big, but very fresh and juicy. It was complemented by the lightly perfumed white truffle slices. The foie gras pate below it was actually not necessary, though it did add a touch of creaminess.


One of the my favorite dishes of all time had to be pumpkin or tomato soup. Here, the Tomato Soup with Anchovies ($14) was served with a crispy baguette, which I used to dip and mop up the tangy tomato soup.

To start off the beer pairing, we had the Wild Pork Cold Cuts with Lardo de Colonnata. Essentially a big delicious plate of cold cuts, just like what you'll have in Europe. I missed this! It is the perfect accompaniment to beer, being salty, cold and meaty all at once.

Speaking of beer, we had the wonderful opportunity to try 3 different types of Wunderbar beers, poured fresh from the mobile draft beer stand. The guys behind Wunderbar also brought in these ABK Bavarian Beers in 3 flavours, which we brought home to try too. 

I am no beer expert, so I'll say first that all the beers we tried went really well with the dishes -- plus they were quite easy to drink too! The alcohol content is not too high, so you can down them smoothly. Other than supplying to craft beer shops, Wunderbar draft beers are also available for events - they will transport their custom beer draft stand to your event and even help you pour if you don't want to yourself (it's easy!). Idea for a company barbecue party, anyone? Contact them now!


The highlight of the dinner that night (other than the beers) was the Ba vettine Pasta with Lobster & White Truffle of Alba. That really just blew me away completely. I don't think it is on the menu, but you could try calling to request when you reserve your seats? What's funny was the chef swept into the room a few minutes after the pasta was served and told us to eat the pasta quickly because "when it is cold you can throw it away!". Of course cameras were put aside. The pasta was thick cut, but al dente, and the sauce was this unbelievable seafoody sweet but tangy (tomato) taste. It will engulf your senses in umami heaven. Don't fight the feeling, just enjoy it!

We also had the Roasted Pork with Potatoes and Rosemary, Tuscany-style ($32). Again, this was superbly done. This is a special cut of the pig, according to chef. I actually only half-listened to him talk because I was so engrossed with the pork which was melting in my mouth in a combination of crispy skin, herbs, fats and meat. It felt like the "3-layered pork / sio bak" that we have, but in a much thicker and juicier cut. The mash bed went very well with this rustic rendition of roasted pork - I have a feeling this is probably as authentic as it gets.

We had another Wunderbar beer to go with our mains. We had fun trying to do the pour ourselves. Here's my dining partner and BFF Roxanne (from LacedIvory) pouring a pint for herself!


By then we were suitably stuffed, so it's time for desserts! Another surprise laid in the store for us, in the form of french Macarons ($16)! Chef Morelli was really proud of his macarons, and he should be because they are DIVINE. Sorry Laduree Singapore, and all the French patisserie shops out there. An Italian chef is making these little babies way better than anyone of you.. though it's rather pricey in comparison, it is worth splurging on. They are not overly sweet - you can taste the berries, lemon and chocolate in them.

We had to eat them with our hands, in 1 bite, according to Chef. With pleasure. Look at how pretty they are on the plate! What's really innovative is those yellow strips there - they are actually dried mango strips! That gave the dessert a touch of tropical delight.

To go with dessert, we had the Rosé beer - probably my favorite among all the beers, because I like them to be slightly sweet. This was an excellent pairing with the macarons and also helped us digest (very much needed). We had so much fun just chatting with our hosts, the Chef, and among ourselves.


I had the most lovely dinner at Trattoria Gallo D'Oro, which I am convinced is one of the best Italian restaurants in Singapore. I don't say this lightly - every dish there is made with passion, topped with perfection, and served with pleasure. I highly recommend everyone to put this on your must-try list. I know it is now going to be my default Italian restaurant of choice!


Trattoria Gallo D'Oro
#01-03, 7 Magazine Road, Singapore 059570
+65 64388131
reservation@gallodoro.com.sg or Chope
Lunch: 12pm-3pm (Last Order: 2.30pm)
Dinner: 6.30pm- 11pm (Last Order: 10.30pm)
Closed on Sundays

Thanks to Wunderbar for the invite!

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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Dinner Review: Sopra Cucina & Bar at Pan Pacific Orchard, Singapore 229540

Nestled at the corner of Orchard Road, not far off from Orchard Towers is the cosy and well-made Italian Sopra Cucina & Bar at the understated Pan Pacific Orchard Hotel (not to be confused with the one at Marina Square). 

As you can see it's a spacious and comfortable restaurant that can seat more than 250 people. There were also some authentic Italian artifacts sprinkled around the place for decoration, which lent gravitas to the atmosphere. 



For our tasting that night we had the Octopus Salad for a start. It is made of slow-cooked fresh octopus, pine nuts, chopped basil, celery, olives and house made dressing. Very refreshing and light, with the octopus being of the right texture (not too chewy or tough).

For mains, their pastas are hearty, with an almost home-cooked feel to it. 
The duck risotto had a very comforting taste to it. 

We also tried the Malloreddus alla campidanese which is traditional sardinian gnocchi with pork and rosemary sauce. We had fun eating this because the gnocchi looked so much like yummy maggots :)

The grilled beef tenderloin with black pepper sauce and roasted garlic and herb potato mash is a classic. I loved the mash and couldn't stop eating it! Steak was fine, juicy and tender (yes, I said tender).

The highlight of the meal was definitely those desserts though! Kudos to the chef for coming up with these delicious treats, each one more wonderful than the next!

There's the delightful Tiramisu. The layers were defined and you could taste the infusion of coffee liqueur, mixed with cream and cocoa powder.

The vanilla bean panna cotta was fantastic. Order this if you decide to visit Sopra, and get one dessert from their menu! 

We also had some ice cream, super yummy as well. This glob was finished in seconds.

Lastly, something from the dessert trolley - the seasonal earl grey dome. Very light, delicate and yet packs a punch in taste. It was the perfect ending to the meal.

** CHRISTMAS PROMOTION **

Starting from 1st December 2014, patrons will be able to enjoy brand new dishes from the carefully developed menu. 

Sopra will be offering their signature Porchetta - slow cooked pork belly with crackling and balsamic glace and beloved Christmas classics like Roast Turkey Breast stuffed with herbed polenta, from $35 for a two course meal and $45 for three courses.

Available exclusively for dinner on Christmas Eve and brunch on Christmas day, the buffet features a seafood station which includes freshly shucked French Oysters from just $98. Opt to enjoy free flow of alcoholic gold like Bottega Prosecco and Paulaner beers at an additional $50. 

Book by 10th December and enjoy an early bird 10% discount off your food bill.

Sopra Cucina & Bar
#01-02, Pan Pacific Hotel, 10 Claymore Road, Singapore 229540
Mondays: 5pm - 12 midnight
Tuesdays - Sundays: 11.30am - 12 midnight

Thanks to Sopra for the invite!

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Review: McDonald's Twilight Burgers Light Up The Night

By the time you're reading this, the new Twilight menu (no, not the ones featuring glittery vampires) from McDonald's Singapore might have already stopped as I understood that it is a limited edition run, but I wanted to share a review of the two special burgers I tried when they came to our shores in selected stores (mostly around outskirts of town), which I tried on Tuesday evening!



We started with the Grand Twilight Burger which is a big mac configuration with two patties and an extra middle bun. Instead of lettuce and tomatoes, this has steak sauce on the patty, onions and a tamago! The steak sauce was what's intriguing - it didn't taste too salty or artificial. Instead it was slightly smokey and bitter and rather light on actual taste. It went well with the indulgent egg which is also the same one used in the current Beef/Chicken Tamago burgers.

The Classic Twilight was the preferred burger of the two though. It was made with the Quarter Pounder patty, with lettuce, tomato, slivered onions, nacho cheese sauce and two pieces of turkey bacon added, just in case you are very hungry. It's dinner after all! The serving is definitely huge.


I liked the crunch of the veggies, mixed with the generous layer of  nacho cheese sauce that held all the ingredients together. It was really satisfying! I suppose you can do a Special Order now in stores for dinner by adding lettuce and tomatoes to your Quarter Pounder Burger!


Lastly we topped it off with dessert! We had the Sunset Dream - apple pie with butterscotch sauce drizzled on them and soft serve vanilla, which was pretty average and something you can make on your own any time you like.

It was the Midnight Delightdeep fried brownies with vanilla soft serve that was rather special. The brownies are really really fried, to the point where its a sweet black ball of crispy flour. While a novelty, I still prefer my brownies moist and dense so I don't think it's that big of a loss that we're not having this (until perhaps they decide to bring it back for McCafe? Who knows?). What I realized, is that soft serve goes very well with brownies. So I might just pop by McDs next time to get some soft serve to go with brownies that my sister could make :D


I really had fun trying the new Twilight menu from McDonalds Singapore! I hope you've enjoyed reading about this, and do keep your eyes peeled next time something new comes in!

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