Monday, 30 March 2015

#RememberingLKY: With emotions

Repost from my personal Facebook:

What made LKY's passing once in a lifetime for me wasn't the fact that a great man died, but that for once, there was an immense outpouring of emotions from Singaporeans.

Public displays of crying, of singing, standing in the rain, queuing 8 hours.. All of which are abnormal. The old wept for the loss of a generation, the middle aged read about his quotable quotes and Western media stories, and the young simply followed. It was easy to get swept up by the river of tears, and join in.

I had thought we are a stoic bunch. We were the perfect result of traditional Asian parenting and a unique law ruling system. Emotions are never the first response. We are ruled by our head - practical and realistic.

Yet I've never felt more love and passion for the country that we live in than now. That is something a nationwide birthday celebration, even of 50 years, will never achieve. We have been numb to the yearly parades and fireworks -- just like eating moon cakes or dumplings, it comes and goes. But now, it's almost as if all the previous celebrations, all the heart maps and writing of your Singapore stories were a dry run for the past week's affairs.

The old man must have foreseen this. But I bet he would have wished to have seen it. A nation united, One Singapore. Only in his death did our songs ring true.

I wish we could all remember this sentiment, his love for the nation that we must carry on. I wish we can continue to make him proud. The tears should not be shed in vain for they are rare - we Singaporeans are typically a stoic bunch.

Remembering LKY in his own tears after LKY's cortege drove pass.#RememberLKY #AhKongLKY
Posted by Chia Aik Beng on Saturday, March 28, 2015

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Friday, 27 March 2015

Refreshed: Morton's Singapore at Mandarin Oriental, 4th Floor, Singapore 039797

After 16 years of providing quality steaks and stiff drinks, Morton's at Mandarin Oriental has been renovated to present a brighter and lighter atmosphere. I'm sure most of you would have heard about Morton's, or frequented it before. My department in my current company used to have this tradition where we'll celebrate a colleague's birthday with Morton's MORTinis and steak sandwiches at 5pm (we'll shut down our laptops and leave by 4.15 to grab seats). It was great fun. I'm happy to see that it's been renovated now - looks good!

Here's how it looks in the day - perfect for business lunches! Visit their website to look at their extensive lunch, dinners and private dining menus.

The main upgrade from the renovation came from the removal of the partition between Bar 12.21 and the main dining room, to give it a bigger sense of space. There's also new wall-to-wall windows that stretch the length of the main dining room and French windows around the bar so you can look in as you walk past the place on level 4 of Mandarin Oriental.

Bar 12.21 beside the restaurant does really great classic drinks and offers over 60 types of whiskies, in case you're wondering. 

My favorite would be the Lychee Mortini ($15.95), available from Mon to Sun, 5-7pm with free flow steak sandwiches.

We of course had the famous free flow Steak Sandwiches. 
So simple, so good.

Their bar bites in general are excellent. Very generous and tasty; not something they just heat up with a microwave. You can just tell. After steak sandwiches, my fav would be the Chicken Goujonettes ($16) with mustard mayonnaise. The mini crab cakes BLTs ($37) were really delicious too.

We had a look at the bar/lounge that's in the middle of the hotel as well (on the fourth floor). Changes are minimal since you can't do much structurally, but new carpets and furniture was placed. I liked the bar here because it feels so cosy and intimate!

Well now I feel like having an Appletini. I'll definitely recommend anyone looking for a quality bar or restaurant to check out the new Morton's.
Morton's The Steakhouse
Mandarin Oriental Singapore
Fourth Storey, 5 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039797
+65 63393740
Bar: Monday - Saturday 5pm - 11pm, Sunday 5pm - 10pm
Dining Room: Monday - Saturday 5:30pm - 11pm, Sunday 5pm - 10pm

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Monday, 23 March 2015

The only influencer that mattered. #thankyouLKY

I was tagged by Alvin to tell #MyLeeKuanYewStory, but unfortunately I never had the chance to meet the man. All I had was accounts, stories and tributes from others. So I don't have a story, but here's something else.

Back in the day and up till now, Lee Kuan Yew was the only influencer that mattered

The only one who brought a nation to where it is today, with his unwavering beliefs and hard truths.

He did not influence just Singaporeans and their future, but international leaders and our position on the world map.

He had his views and stuck by them, no matter what other people said, because he believed in it.

He spoke, he cried, and a nation watched and cried along with him. That, is influence.

He has lived a good long life. 91 years was plenty. And I got a feeling that if anyone got the chance the ask, the man would smile and go on to say that he had no regrets.

I'll raise a metaphorical glass to that, and say, let us celebrate his life.

Thank you Ah Gong for everything you gave to us.


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Saturday, 21 March 2015

Cafe Hangout: Paddy Hills at 38 South Buona Vista Road, Singapore 118164

Paddy Hills at 38 South Buona Vista Road is a three-week old cafe and bistro that has exploded on social media for their instagrammability, and in real for being one of the few F&B joints in a landed housing estate. I paid the cafe a visit last Saturday afternoon and like what DanielFoodDiary said, take your OOTD at the wall outside, and then go in for a cuppa. It was packed to almost full house at that time, so if you are hungry you might not want to wait for food there. Coffee is just fine. They must have spent a lot on the reno including investing in a Slayer, and it sure looked good! Hopefully they will be able to stay on.

Food is actually pretty pricey for what you get, - drinks start from $5.50 for a latte, to 11 for a milkshake. There's a huge selection available, which might not be the best thing for the kitchen (nor profitability). I rather have a simple but good menu. (Click to expand menu)

Have not really tried their dinner menu, but was pretty impressed that the kitchen is able to do morning, noon and evening service. No break! There's yakitori, food for sharing and single portion Lu Rou Fan which looked interesting. Paddy Hills seem to be leaning towards the Asian fusion style.

 The decor is really comfortable, New York loft type of style with chipboard and brick walls, plants and chrome piping. I am happy to report that there is zero grease smell even though the air con didn't seem strong enough for a bit at the beginning. Ventilation was well-done!

 We had the chance to sit by the window, where there's plenty of light for photos :)

 I already had coffee that day, so I didn't order one, but my brother did and got a swan!

I had the "Tastes Like Purple" ($7) cooler instead, which would be so much better with some alcohol. At $7 a glass, it also wasn't really worth it, even if the berry fruit juice was quite refreshing.

For food, we ordered two dishes, which took 1 hour and 15 mins to arrive. I kid you not. But we were warned when we ordered that it will take an hour, because the kitchen makes each portion when ordered. Still, I thought it was pretty long for something which could be assembled. 

The Golden Man Tou Sliders was $23 - but only had 3 sliders and some sweet potato chips (too oily). While the mantous themselves were nice and fluffy, we all can't help but feel that the sweetness from the buns overwhelmed the taste of the steak patty inside. Would I eat it again if it is free? Yes. Would I pay and wait for it again? No.

Then came the most instagrammable dessert in Singapore - the Berry Ricotta Hotcake ($19). Yes it looked pretty and fresh, it was, but... well firstly the portion was odd-sized. It simply cannot be just for two people because it's a lot. The hotcake itself tasted exactly like a flatted corn muffin (just less rough) but it was slightly on the dry side. Unfortunately, no ice cream around -- while the ricotta cheese was pleasant and creamy, it wasn't the best combination. Like I said on Instagram, I would probably only recommend it if it costs $9.50, is half the size, and comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Otherwise, rest assured that you won't be missing out.

Overall I would definitely recommend any self-respecting hipster to check Paddy Hills out but just don't have any high expectations for the food, and be sure to have a wallet full of cash. Oh, and charge your phone/camera so you can take plenty of instagram #foodporn photos and OOTDs. I might go back for coffee and more photos, but probably unlikely due to its location and price.
Paddy Hills
38 South Buona Vista Road, Singapore 118164
Tel: +65 6479 0800
8.30am – 10pm daily (no food orders from 5-6pm)

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Monday, 16 March 2015

Travel Eats: The Hilltop Aonang at Krabi, Thailand for best sunset and food

Do you know that AsiaOne recently recommended Krabi as the top destination for the best sunsets? I couldn't agree more. Especially when one is at The Hilltop, a restaurant/bar perched high above Krabi, enjoying an authentic Thai Massaman curry. They won TripAdvisor's Traveller Choice Award 2014, and is co-owned by a Singaporean so you'll expect nothing but the best level of service and quality if you decide to take the buggy ride up! Just wait at a nice pavilion along the main Ao Nang road (centrally located) after you've made your reservation (recommended).

The Hilltop is a must-visit for any traveller seeking a warm experience with friends, family. It is also great for engagement or marriage ceremonies.

Try their Massaman Curry definitely, and order up your favorite Thai dishes without fear because the seafood's fresh, the food's clean and everything is just the right level of spice.

I can't think of a more perfect way to end a day in Krabi than going to The Hilltop. For the upcoming holidays be sure to make your reservations soon! 

The Hilltop
99 Moo 3, Ao Nang, Krabi, 81000, Thailand
Phone: +66 75 637195

Here are couple more shots of the lovely sunset from down the hill, on the beach. Took my breath away.

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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Food Review: Two Men Bagel House at ICON Village, 16 Enggor Street, Singapore 079717

I don't know about you, but I love bagels. I fell in love when I first tried it in San Francisco at Peets -- It was toasty warm on the outside, cut in half and smeared with cream cheese, and when you bite into it it was chewy, soft and slightly sweet. It's like tasting heaven. Since then I've also tried bagels in New York and loved it. But I've never found any good, proper bagels in Singapore. The ones you get at the grocery store are the worst, and coffeehouses like Starbucks was a semblance of a bagel. That's why when I heard that Two Men Bagels are in town to offer up some freshly made bagels I had to go check it out. 

Located in the ICON Village extension along a stretch of eateries catering to the office lunch crowd, Two Men Bagels is a small 20-people shop that probably does quite a lot of take aways. They are open on weekends, and offer savoury and sweet bagels. Prices range from $2.60 for a plain to $13.50 for the Moo.

So among the three of us that visited we tried 3 savoury bagels and 1 sweet bagel! I think it was the Hog ($12.90) which has pork cheek, and Porky ($8.90) that my companions had.

I had the Lox ($11.90), a classic rendition of smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill, capers and red onions and pickled beets. In this photo it's the one that looked really pink, in the foreground.

Verdict? Very good attempt - just a couple of cm short of the gold standard. I liked how the ingredients are very much generous and fresh, but the bagels themselves still lack a bit of oomph, even if it is already a notch above the rest in Singapore (if any). They are definitely on track though - I found them to be decent in terms of taste but the texture could be a bit more chewy and 'alkaline' instead of hard.

Just to be sure, we ordered a plain bagel ($2.60) with cream cheese and berries ($4.5) to try so we do not get distracted by the ingredients. Again, I wished it was softer overall, and more chewy. Perhaps if it was piping hot it might achieve that, but then again, I don't like my food to be hot! Still this makes for a really good breakfast or brunch -- if only I worked around ICON village that I can swing by for some in the mornings.

Despite not reaching the gold standard in my books, I still found Two Men Bagel House to be of decent quality, and will warrant repeat visits from me. I'll love to go back and try more of their other savoury bagels and flavours. It's definitely commendable for the owners to try and bring freshly baked bagels to Singapore and I hope more people will know how to eat them!

Two Men Bagel House
16 Enggor Street, #01-12 Icon Village Altez (new extension), Singapore 079717
+65 65094125
8am-8pm (Mon-Fri), 8am-6pm (Sat-Sun)

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

For A Golden Home - You can help the needy elderly in Singapore

How many of us hope to retire comfortably in our golden years? But there are many elderly (35k living alone) in Singapore who do not have that chance. This is why I am heartened by a fundraising campaign called For A Golden Home, which aims to help the needy elderly community by raising $25,000. Funds will enable volunteers to reach out to them in partnership with Project HomeWorks, an on-the-ground initiative that assesses and cleans up their homes to restore basic living conditions.

In the month of March the organizers have lined up a series of exciting events from partners like Mean Bean and Wicked Grind, and The Yoga Co. 

You can also donate money on the website and 100% of the funds will go towards the campaign with 2.5 times tax exemption.

Every share of this video post on their Facebook Page also donates $5, up to $5000!

Let's all build a better life for the needy elderly among us shall we?

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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Event Report: Singapore Cocktail Week Tour of Bar Stories, Long Bar, Anti:Dote and Tippling Club

4 bars, many drinks, 1 Alexis and friends. That's what happened last night on the Singapore Cocktail Week tour as I joined some new friends and familiar faces to visit a few bars to try out their special concoctions, available for 1 week only for only $14++ (with wristbands purchased). You can also take part in the Cocktail Tours that's ongoing every night -- visit for more info.

1st stop: Bar Stories. This was the bar that named a drink after me 2 years ago (apparently they do that sometimes for anyone, not very special). I had a really refreshing Yuzu (the salt really added depth to the tangy note) and an edible Pina Colada. All 5 of the drinks were really interesting.

2nd stop: Long Bar. Even though it is the birthplace of of the iconic Singapore Sling, they don't just do that well. We got to try 4 other different cocktails as well. The crowd favorite was definitely the Moodiques cocktail that's served in a lightbulb-shaped glass.

Here's me, with the Sling in hand. Do you know that they make about 100+ Slings a day?

And here's Zach, ambassador of Monkey's Shoulder whiskey who was leading the tour, trying out the Tiffing (and holding it the proper way).

3rd stop: Anti:Dote. Tom Hogan just won the Best Male Bartender of the Year award, so we are covered in terms of getting some award-winning drinks!

We had a lovely Cucumber cocktail, followed by a medicinal aperitif (Instapic here) to try.

Here's the gang, still looking pretty sober. 

Final stop, Tippling Club, which just made No. 36 on Asia's Top 50 Restaurant List! Congrats. I tried the Czeh the Monkey drink (from a lovely stranger) and it was absolutely delish. I would say that's probably my favorite drink of the night.

Here's Roman Foltan, who's guest starring at Tippling.

And finally, some of the buddies at Tippling. I had great fun thanks for FIJI Water (official water sponsor) and FoodNews PR. Don't miss out on all these bars and drinks! 4 more days left.

A photo posted by alexis cheong (@alexischeong) on
Public Announcement: Win a trip to The Black Pearl in Melbourne with #SGCocktailWeek. Simply follow @SGCocktailWeek on Instagram and upload images (from 7 to 14 March) of your #SGCocktailWeek experience with hashtags #SGCocktailWeek #FlyScoot #WinATriptoMelbourne. Best photo and caption as selected by #SGCocktailWeek wins!

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