Saturday, 30 August 2014

Smartphone Review: Nokia Lumia 635 affordable entry-level phone

Want to get a smartphone for your second line? Want to buy one for your parents so they can watch Youtube on the go? Your previous phone's lost/broken/old? Or sick of queuing for XiaoMi and realizing that it hangs on you when you try to multi-task? Then get the Nokia Lumia 635. Retailing for S$239 ONLY, it is probably one of the most affordable touchscreen color 4G smartphone that has all the components you'll need. A 5 megapixel camera, bluetooth, 8GB internal storage with additional storage option, and standby time of 648 hours! If you sign up with a telco, it is $0.

A #Lumia635 unit was sent for me to review, and I was really impressed by a few things.

1. It's incredibly affordable for that amount of technology.
2. It is very light yet not 'plasticky'
3. The design is awesome - both the neon orange cover, and the user interface and design.



I played around with it for a few days, and while I found the camera to be rather basic compared to what I'm used to (HTC One M8, iPhone), the rest of the phone delivers superbly especially on speed. Did not hang on me at all, and scrolling up and down was smooth.

I really liked playing around with the Windows Tile on the Nokia Lumia 635.




I also think the Windows Tile makes for a great user experience. The typing and navigation was really idiot-proof and easy to take up -- my dad took to it like fish to water.

Everything was thought of nicely. There's even a swipe down notification bar like all the other smartphones now for you to access shortcuts and etc.

There are also some great apps now on the Windows Apps+Games Marketplace that I've tried.

1. 6tag to surf and look at Instagram photos. Very nicely designed, so you don't miss the original version at all.


2. Nokia Glam Me to touch up your photos and make sure you look your best. Perfect for selfies!



3. Bing Health & Fitness to track your activity levels. Now you have no excuse not to do a few extra km when you jog!

If you are considering a new phone but not going to drop $900 to a k, consider the Nokia 635 at a fraction of the price. It is a simple, elegant and unassuming smartphone that does its job well.

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Friday, 29 August 2014

Healthier Food Review: Saybons Singapore 4-course Skinny Crepe Meals

If you’ve been to Plaza Singapura or Junction 8, you must have seen Saybons, the casual French dining café. They have been around for a while now, but did you know that a Singaporean couple started it? They are truly entrepreneurs in the F&B scene! All along I thought this was a franchise from overseas. In fact, the lady boss trained at Cordon Bleu but decided to strike it out on her own with soup and crepes creations inspired by the French, who are so known for their thin pancakes. I reckon how the name Saybons comes about is from the French phrase, “c’est bon”, which means, “it is good”! And I think Saybons is not just good, it's also good for you.


Their soups and crepes are already quite healthy right (all soups fall between 30-170 calories on their own) but Saybons has joined the Healthier Dining Programme officially as a partner and as such offers 10 Healthier Meal Combos that is made with 4 skinny crepes and 4 soups, plus a banana and water all for $11 nett. That’s a really good deal for a well-balanced meal with quality ingredients.


Order one of these meals and get a stamp on your Healthy Go Lucky card too!

The skinny crepes are healthier because they only have half the amount of cheese used in the regular ones, and includes fresh ingredients like lettuce, tomatoes & potatoes. I tasted all 4 soups and 2 skinny crepes during my visit.


I really enjoyed the mushroom cheese skinny crepe and found it to be no less satisfying compared to a regular crepe with more cheese! The sautéed mushrooms are prepared fresh every morning at the shops and gave the crispy thin crepes a savory mushroomy flavor. The other ingredients, like greens, are also very generously packed into the slightly sweet and light crepe. The packaging also makes for very convenient munching -- no mess. Apparently the mushroom and cheese crepe is a perennial best seller among customers. I'm not surprised. Singaporean tastebuds are easy to predict.

Here’s a photo of what a 4-course Skinny Crepe meal looks like, in the flesh.


We also tried the vegetarian Margarita skinny crepe that comes with cheese, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce and onions. While this is good on its own, I'll suggest you make it a meal by also having a mushroom soup or the thicker carrot coriander soup. This way I feel makes for a more flavourful experience of Saybons.



For soups, we found out that other than the mushroom (1st in pic from left) and tomato soup (4th), the carrot coriander soup (2nd) and carrot (3rd) also has no cream in it, which helps lighten the calorie count.



I can't decide which is my favorite -- I think it might well be a tie between the thick and strong flavored mushroom soup and the tangy and light tomato soup. But I always order pumpkin soup if I'm in a restaurant, and Saybons' pumpkin soup does match up to restaurants. My least favorite I guess would be the carrot coriander, which is too much of a purée for me. That has its merits though because the ingredients are so... clean and healthy. See what I mean by I can't choose? If I were you, I’ll just go with what I am feeling that day.

I love that Saybons is offering affordable, quick and fuss-free French fare that is now healthier for everyone to try. View their menu here. I’ll definitely recommend that you check it out next time you walk past them! You can find them at:

Plaza Singapura
68 Orchard Road #B2-32
Singapore 238839
Tel: 6884 9018
Open: 930am to 10pm (Mon-Sun)

Junction 8
9 Bishan Place #02-27A
(above McDonalds)
Singapore 579837
Tel: 6258 3138
Open 10am to 930pm (Mon-Fri), Open 930am to 930pm (Sat & Sun)

KK Women's & Children's Hospital 
100 Bukit Timah Road #01-17 Singapore 229899 Tel: 63417890
Open 830am to 730pm (Mon-Fri), Open 9am to 330pm (Sat)
Close on Sundays & Public Holidays

This post is brought to you by HPB’s Healthier Dining Programme. For more info, visit eathealthy.sg

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Challenge Accepted: 6 Viral Acts For Charity

Source: Bill Gates' Youtube
I'm sure everyone is by now familiar with the #icebucketchallenge -- your social newsfeed will be dominated by celebs, famous people and even your friends/family doing it. How it works: your friend tags you to dump ice water over yourself and film it. If you don't do the challenge you donate $100 to the ALS fund. Otherwise do it on video and tag 3 friends with the challenge.

Oh, the simplicity. I think it is a brilliant mechanic that worked to raise awareness and cash for the donation/cause of ALS in the States through the power of social videos. So far it has raised more than $15 million.

However, back in Singapore I think it has started to lose its original intention, since most people are doing it because it is simple, fun, you get to upload a video of yourself without feeling weird and you get to challenge others.

What donation? What ALS?

So here's what I'll like to propose. That we start our own viral acts for a Singaporean charity like the ST School Pocket Money Fund or Singapore Cancer Society. Or even the President's Charity.

Here are some viral acts you can challenge yourself and your friends with.

1. Get slapped by someone



2. Peg clips to your face, and pull them off with a string

Source: PopCrush
3. Eat a mouthful of really spicy chili padi.

Source: http://blognyapoppy.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/72/

4. Stuff your mouth with marshmellows and try to say "Chubby Bunny" until you can't.



6. Eat a really sour lemon or lime! These babies did, so can you. Remember to video it.



*Bonus Idea. If you are a StarHub mobile subscriber, SMS <OPT-IN> to 6904 to donate any unused 3G or talktime/SMS to charity #4Good.

Any other ideas? Otherwise let me know which one you'll challenge someone to do!

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Monday, 18 August 2014

PHILIPS Airfryer: Matcha Nutella Zebra Cake Recipe

So, I have a PHILIPS Airfryer. What do I do with it? That's the question on my mind. Sure I can fry stuff (with 80% less oil!) and even roast stuff (after all it works like an oven)... and then it led me to think, so can I bake with it? And that's when Steph suggested the Matcha Nutella Zebra cake, from a recipe she found online at Baking Taitai. I had a look at the recipe, and found it easy enough so I bought ingredients for it speedily, and experimented! 

The results were amazing and beyond my expectations.

I really just followed the recipe to the T, except I did not use fancy french butter and took 45-50 minutes to bake it at 160 degrees. Use a chopstick to poke it and if it comes out dry, it's ready. The timing will vary. 

Here are some 'behind the scenes' shots:

Layering the green and brown batter takes a bit of skill. My mum helped me with it!


And here's how it looks, from the PHILIPS Airfryer. I got my baking tin from FairPrice for $3.50? It's not a big one, but enough.


And the final product. Ain't it pretty? 


And I did it a second time, within ONE hour I had it made and baked.

And that concludes my experiment, proving that I AM A BAKING GODDESS.
SEE ME BAKE.

Thanks to the PHILIPS Airfryer of course. Anything is possible!

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Sunday, 17 August 2014

PHILIPS Airfryer: Make Alexia Sweet Potato Fries and Bacon Wrapped Avocados!

I experimented with the Airfryer quite a fair bit because it is just such a wonderful piece of equipment. For these 2 items, there isn't even a recipe! You just assemble if needed, put them into your PHILIPS Airfryer for about 10-15 minutes at 180 degrees, take it out, put it on a plate, and enjoy! Here's what I've made with it so far. 

1. Alexia Sweet Potato Fries


I quite liked the Sweet Potato fries from Alexia, which I bought from FairPrice. No oil needed! It was naturally sweet and already 'oiled', I think. I also bought some shoestring fries to pop into the Airfryer, which someone did not work as well (maybe because I did not add too much oil?)


2. Bacon wrapped avocados. 

I learned on that day how to cut out avocados, and I think most people do not think about using these in an Airfryer, but there's always a first for everything. It turned out really well -- the bacon sizzled and the oil was enough to cook it, and the avocado provided a nice creamy counterbalance to the saltish bacon.


Here it is. They were super easy to make and delicious to eat as a snack, or even for breakfast with some toast and eggs!


Hope you will also try and experiment with your Airfryer. It is so fun!

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Saturday, 16 August 2014

Restaurant Review: Salt grill and Sky bar at ION Orchard #55 & #56, Singapore 238801

Salt grill and Sky bar boasts of magnificent views, delicious food and lovely company. Why? Because when you have the first two, you are most likely to be in the company of people whom you enjoy. That's what I love about dining, really. It's often times more than just the food alone, but the person or people you eat it with. Since I can't be in front of you at the dinner table though, I'll have to just describe what's on it at Salt grill at ION Orchard.

Firstly, the location. You've to get to the ION Art Gallery before taking a lift up to the 55th floor in a superspeed lift. Then you'll get to see the restaurant in muted lights and voices perched high up our glittering city. The restaurant had undergone a recent renovation, and looks more contemporary and spacious.

Source: FoodNews PR

This was the view - see it in person for a higher resolution!


The food was prepared by Chef Mathew Leighton who hails from Sydney. He had trained under Luke Mangan (hence the plates with the name Luke). Here's a bit about him:
"Newly-minted as the Executive Chef at Salt grill & Sky bar, 27 year-old Mathew Leighton has been a longstanding part of celebrity chef Luke Mangan’s culinary brigade. The youngest Executive Chef within the group, Mathew’s last stint prior to joining Salt grill & Sky bar was as Executive Chef at Salt tapas & bar in Singapore."

We had some drinks to start with. For me, a Salt cooler (non alcoholic) made with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lychee, apple and cranberry juice, lemonade. ($14) It was refreshing, light and very summery. Plenty of anti-oxidants and vitamins too!


And then, the meal itself! 

First, the amuse bouche, which is a coconut broth with Sydney spice, reminiscent of green curry, actually! Sydney Spice is actually made with kaffir lime leaves, lemon myrtle, turmeric, ginger, galangal, chilli, garlic and salt. That's a lot of spices for a little cup of soup! Flavorsome and perfect to start the meal.


For starters -- I really enjoyed the sashimi of kingfish, ginger, eschalot & goats feta ($33). It's not easy to do kingfish well, and have it light and fresh without being fishy or stale. The ginger and eschalots really made a difference! 

We then had some baby vegetables, goats curd, ginger bread crumbs, dried black olives ($31). Honestly I will skip this if I ever do go back, because I didn't find it exceptional. It really was just vegetables put together.

You should instead focus all your energies on having this ‘Glass’ Sydney crab omelette ($33) instead. There's some enoki mushroom & herb salad on top of the fluffy and sweet omelette, which is surrounded by miso mustard broth. I think everyone agreed that this was really outstanding. And how very Australian, come to think of it!

Then something which was nice, but paled in comparison with the omelette -- the tea smoked quail ($31) with almond cream, prunes, grains, grilled shallot and sorrel. Quite forgettable. The tea taste was slightly lost, though the quail was done just right. Only if you have a hankering for quail should you order this, I suppose. 

What most people will aim for will be their 300-days grain fed Sirloin from Rangers Valley, New South Wales ($74). Diners will be shown a table of raw beef to admire the marbling of fats (I assume so, because that's what I did).

The steak was cooked medium rare, and came with some Moroccan spice, sauté spinach, eggplant puree, and red wine sauce. This was really good. There are no  words to describe a perfectly good steak, is there? If you are a steak lover, Salt Grill's one of the places to try. Steak's pricey, but worth it. I liked the solid yet tender bite, with beefy juices that runneth over.

Some mustards and etc to go with your steak is provided!

Lastly, to end of the deliciousness, a spot of dessert! We had Luke’s liquorice parfait ($18) that was surprisingly acceptable, seeing how apprehensive I was about liquorice. There was only a hint of it, and the lime jus provided a tangy contrast to the icy parfait.

And for cocktail lovers, don't forget to order some of their sweet creations. These will be perfect during sundown too. We had the oldie but goodie Grasshopper ($18) made with creme de menthe, creme de cacao white and milk and a decadent Chocolatini ($18) made with vodka, white chocolate sauce, green apple syrup and creme de cacao white. What can I say? There are more like liquid desserts, with the alcohol being quite strong but smooth within. These are really worth the price!


I enjoyed myself tremendously at Salt grill and Sky bar, and have also heard many good things about it from couples and friends looking to celebrate special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, promotions) who found the location and food to be just right for the occasion. If you're thinking of bringing someone special out for dinner, consider Salt Grill and Sky Bar for a romantic and gastronomic evening!

Also check out their Lunch Set Menu and Executive Lunch Set Menu. Perfect for corporate diners, the lunch set menus at Salt grill & Sky bar provide a convenient, fuss-free option with 2 or 3 courses available. The menu ranges from $45++ to $80++ per person and is available on weekdays from 11am to 2pm. 

Salt grill and Sky bar
2 Orchard Turn, #55-01 & #56-01 ION Orchard, 238801
+65 65925118
Lunch: 11.00 – 14.00, Afternoon Tea: 14:00-18:00, Dinner: 18.00 – 22.00
Friday- Saturday Dinners: 18.00 – 22.30
Sky bar: 11.00 – 23.30
Brunch (Weekends): 11:00-14:00
Website

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PHILIPS Airfryer Recipe: 10-minute Chicken Wings

Today I'm gonna share with you a recipe for glazed chicken wings, to be popped into the PHILIPS Airfryer.

You will need:

$5.50 worth of halved chicken wings (about 15 pieces)

1 hour marination with 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

10 minutes in the Philips Avance XL Airfryer at 180 degrees.

Ready to serve.

Is that the shortest recipe you've read or what?!?


Here's how it looks - BEFORE.


AFTER. Salivating? I know I am!


If I can cook you can too. Perfect for parties and gatherings.

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Friday, 15 August 2014

Healthier Food Review: QQRice Singapore now offers Healthier Choice items!

Asians love rice. And I'm no different. I'll probably feel really uneasy if I'm to eat bread or pasta for weeks on end (as people who've lived or live in Europe might have to do) because I need my bowl of rice, or a bowl of rice noodles in delicious steaming soup. That's why I think it's brilliant that there's a chain of stalls in Singapore called QQRice offering takeaway rice rolls and wraps for us busy Singaporeans. What’s even better is that they've joined the HPB's Healthier Dining Programme to come up with Healthier Choice Rice Rolls.

I found out that QQrice in Singapore is actually franchised from Taiwan, where all the different rice types and ingredients are also imported. When I visited the Tanjong Pagar MRT branch for lunch, there was a steady stream of customers buying takeaways. I was very impressed because I learned from my QQRice host that over the years, they have created a pool of loyal customers because of their insistence on maintaining a high quality standard in everything they do, be it in ingredients or the experience. The dedication to quality is probably the first ingredient to success in the F&B industry.


If you like, you can make your own rice roll combination! To order, choose a type of rice from 5 varieties: Mixed Grain Rice, Red Rice, Purple Rice, Brown Rice and Wheat Germ Brown Rice and pick 5 fillings from 24 vegetarian and 24 meat types. The staff will assemble and wrap it up for you with the steaming rice of choice. Did you know that instead of filling the rice cooker to the brim, it is only ¼ filled to ensure that the steam cooks the rice fully and not just at the sides?


I had the good fortune to try all 3 of their Healthier Choice Rice Rolls during my visit. The wraps already had the fillings figured out for you and are available at $5.20 each. I found that mixed grain rice is the default for the healthier choice rice rolls so they are not only less than 500 calories but wholegrain as well!



This is how the 3 rice rolls looked like when it came to me. Super cute, and portable to eat!


I found that even the wrapper is flown in from Japan. It is to keep the heat in but allow the customer to hold it comfortably to eat without scalding oneself.

Here they are, once cut open. The smell was so good, I had to stop myself from eating them before taking these photos.



What really surprised me was how flavorsome they were. I had expected it to be quite dry, bland and generally not so pleasant, but it turned out that these might very well outperform sandwiches with heavy dressings, by pure original flavor alone!

My favorite among the lot was the vegetarian Braised Tofu Rice Roll, which comes with sweet corn, emperor vegetables, braised peanuts and braised tofu. The bite was solid but the mix of textures in there with the soft tofu and crunchy sweet corn was really enjoyable.




The Gua Zai Meat (vegetarian) and Chai Fish Rice Rolls were really yummy too. The Gua Zai Meat Rice Roll had bits of broccoli inside that goes well with the flavorsome vegetarian floss, while the Chai Fish one had sweet corn and cucumber to balance out the saltish chai fish, which gave the rice all its flavor. The clever use of braised peanuts in both the Gua Zai and Braised Tofu wrap meant that there’s a savoury sweetness and fragrance to the fillings inside.



I think I just found another lunch option. I wish I could bring this to work and have it at my desk when it is raining or too hot to go out! Trust me when I say QQRice is one of the best places to get your rice fix from. No more mushy gloopy white rice, when you can have so many healthier alternatives!


Here are a list of QQRice outlets around Singapore to try out these delicious wraps and rolls.

Square 2 (with seats)
Tanjong Pagar MRT (with seats)
One Raffles Place
Alexandra Retail Centre
NEX
AMK Hub
HDB Hub
NUH
Woodlands MRT
Choa Chu Kang MRT
Jurong Point

This post is brought to you by HPB’s Healthier Dining Programme. For more info, visit eathealthy.sg

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Thursday, 7 August 2014

Macau Travel Must-See: House of Dancing Water Show, City of Dreams

If there's one show you need to watch when you visit Asia or Macau, it will be this. The House of Dancing Water show at City of Dreams, Macau. It's only later that I found out it's a HKD 2 billion dollar production. Tickets costs around SGD $125-$140 for adults on week days for the side seats, which was good enough, and the show is really worth every penny in my opinion. 

It started with a gang of pirates hanging around and jumping into the frothing water below. Later, I realized that the 'pool' was not what it seems. There's a rising modular platform in there which can dry out in seconds.


The acrobatic performers were really good, strong and they do this every day. What a job.


See what I mean with the platform? It has holes to spurt out water too. 

The story is a classic tale of good vs evil as the prince tries to save the princess from the evil stepmother. 

Here's an amazing dive from someone all the way at the top.


Into this.


And my favorite frame and scene would be the motorbike stunts towards the end of the show. They had ramps driven in onto the platform and these bikers flying across the arena, crossing each other in mid-air and twisting and lifting off from the bikes. Every since move looked so dangerous that I was squealing on their behalf. 

Who would have known that Macau has such an amazing show? 
Now you do! Hurry, book your tickets if you are planning to head there!

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