T30 Kungfu Teahouse

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T30 Kungfu Teahouse
30 Temple St S(058575)

This quaint little teahouse is definitely one of those hidden gems for tea lovers. My boyfriend stumbled upon this place and decided that we should give it a try since both of us enjoy drinking tea, and the ambience was more than perfect for a relaxing afternoon.

Upon walking into the teahouse, there’s a Zen-ish sort of feeling that falls over you. There’s soft music playing in the background, accompanied with soft natural lighting (if you visit in the day). The tables are few and well spread out so each customer wouldn’t be disturbing the other. The chairs are plushy and comfortable, and the staff (only one present during our visit) was extremely kind. It would be a wonderful experience for anyone looking to unwind or to do some thinking.

promo-menu t30

We went for the afternoon lunch set, and got the ginseng oolong tea. The food wasn’t great, so I’m guessing people visit for the ambience and the tea, cause that’s what I would come here for.

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The brewing of the tea is the cool part cause you get to do everything yourself, from boiling of the water to steeping the tea in a small cup, filtering the tea, and drinking out of the cute tiny traditional cups. If you’re unsure of how the process goes, the staff will be more than willing to demonstrate, but you should definitely try brewing the tea by yourself at least once or you’ll just be missing out on all the fun!

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Here’s a picture of the tea set which I think is super cute! I especially love drinking out of little teacups because it reminds me of the kungfu masters in Chinese/HK TV shows, where they sit around all day, stroking their beards, laughing along with each other and downing their tea in such small cups. It’s very… traditional, I would think.

And of course, the main thing would be the tea, which I believe many customers come here for. Many patrons in the teahouse looked like returning customers, and seemed very knowledgeable about the different Chinese teas and brewing methods. We chose the ginseng oolong.  It was good, and I felt that there was a sweet aftertaste to the tea, which was very pleasant, but as much as I like drinking tea, I’m nowhere close to being an expert in distinguishing their tastes.

There are lots of teas to choose from, and if you are spoilt for choice, you could get the staff to recommend some to you, based on your preferences.

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Here’s the dim sum set, which like I said, wasn’t all that spectacular.  The items were pretty dry and the custard in the custard bun had dried up, so it wasn’t a good experience biting into that one. However, the osmanthus jelly was really really good. It had a slightly chewy texture and a very refreshing taste. I really liked that.

So, that’s all for this teahouse! I would recommend coming here for the quality teas and wonderfully relaxing ambience, but if you’re looking for some good dim sum, this wouldn’t be the place for you. However, you could always come here after your meal to chill!

Geylang Lorong 29 Fried Hokkien Mee

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Geylang Lorong 29 Fried Hokkien Mee
396 East Coast Road, Singapore 428994

Fried Hokkien Mee is one of Singapore’s most famous and well-liked dishes, and it is something that I rarely get tired of. This joint in East Coast is one of my favourite places for me to have my Hokkien Mee fix. I found out about this place after walking past it to get to Penny University. After deciding to try it out one day, I discovered how good the Hokkien Mee here was. After this chance encounter, I went online to search for it, and found it to be on many ‘Top Hokkien Mees in Singapore’ lists. What fate!

Fried Hokkien Mee (Small) - $4
Fried Hokkien Mee (Small) – $4

There are many different styles of Hokkien Mee – some like theirs wet, and some dry. I prefer mine to be wetter, but not the kind where the sauce is so thinned out it looks like my noodles are drowning in soup. In my opinion, the dish here is perfectly executed. The sauce is thick, and just enough to cover the noodles, but not to drown them. The chef uses traditional charcoal fire which explains the superb smokey flavour of the noodles. The ingredients are very generous too. I don’t eat squid, but always marvel at the heap of them that I pass over to my boyfriend. Also, on all occasions that I’ve visited, the prawns are extremely fresh, crisp, juicy and the best part – they don’t use small prawns (but please don’t expect giant ones).

I also really love the ambience of the renovated coffee shop. The coffee shop is very clean, very breezy, and usually not too crowded. I love my hawker fare, but there are certain days that I would love to get to eat without having to squeeze with the crowd and having the smell of smoke cling to my clothes for the entire day. That’s the charm about this coffee shop, great food, great environment, great prices. Best of all worlds! It’s also highly accessible with many buses, however, one downside is that there aren’t any MRT stations nearby.

Do check this place out and let me know what you think!

Cafe Hopping – Lola’s Cafe / Ciel Patisserie / Wimbly Lu / Penny University

It’s Week 9 in SMU; the week after recess week. Why does recess week only seem like half a week compared to the other weeks in the school semester? It seemed like recess week practically flew by, how annoying. Nevertheless, I had an extremely fulfilling break week (read: sleepovers, catching up on movies, going on food trails etc.), and I’m ready to write about a wonderful day I spent cafehopping. This list doesn’t include all the cafes that I visited, but these should be sufficient to sum up how delightful an experience I had.

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Lola’s Cafe
5 Simon Rd S(545893)

I couldn’t wait to try out this cafe after seeing the cafe’s name pop up everywhere when searching for Eggs Benedict (the item I always stick to when visiting cafes/restaurants that serve all-day breakfasts), or basically, just brunch places in general. You get the drift. It’s a very popular place. The place was convenient to get to, and I didn’t have to wait long to get a seat, so that’s a plus for me. They also have an electronic system for you to leave your contact number in case there were too many people and you don’t want to wait around in front of the store. But, honestly, I don’t really know if there could be a more interesting place to walk to in that ulu-ish area. Maybe you could find out.

We ordered the Eggs Benedict ($15), no surprise there, and an Iced Latte ($5.5) – both to share, because it was a food trail and we didn’t want to gorge ourselves too early on. I thought the dish was pretty decent; perfectly cooked poached eggs with flowy centres and the buttery brioche with pureed avocado paste and ham were well suited for each other. However, there was nothing that wow-ed us. It was normal. I wished I had more and maybe just cause the croissant with scrambled eggs at the next table looked way better than what I ordered (would make a mental note to get that one the next time round). The latte was pleasantly smooth and refreshing for a hot day, and there wasn’t any GST or Service Charge, so the total bill was pretty ok.

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Ciel Patisserie
124 Hougang Ave 1, #01-1444 S(530124)

My ultimate favourite place to go for cakes cause their stuff is da bomb. Really really good! I would definitely frequent this cute little cafe more often if only it didn’t take me ages to get there. I always get the Bombe ($5.8/slice), which their website describes to be “A sprinkling of fresh blueberries hidden within a rich chocolate mousse bombe, with a crispy hazelnut feulletine base”. Super chocolatey, rich and moist. Probably extremely sinful, but so worth every single calorie. Get the teas to go with the cake if you want to balance out your palate. There are quite a few choices of teas, and they only cost $2.5/cup, if I remember it right.

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Wimbly Lu Chocolates
15-2 Jalan Riang, S(358987)

This cafe probably needs no introduction as well. They’re famous for their waffles and root beer cake with ice cream. There are savoury items on the menu as well, so you can definitely visit to get a substantial meal with desserts after. Since I had already tried the root beer cake previously, I ordered the waffles with ice cream this time ($8.5 with a scoop of ice cream). Their ice creams are handmade, and come in a great variety of flavours. I got the honey cinnamon flavour, which I loved, and thought went extremely well with the fluffy waffle. I definitely prefer this over the root beer cake ($6), which I don’t remember liking very much, but do check both out for yourself!

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Penny University
402 East Coast Rd, S(428997)

I frequent this cafe very often, so I thought I’d talk about some of the cakes I’ve gotten the past few times, together with what I had today. The cakes range from around $6 – 8/slice. To be honest, I don’t think that their cakes are out-of-the-world good, but I still get them anyway, because usually after a meal, I always crave for something sweet. That aside, I do think that the cakes are better than your average ones, and make for a good ending to your meal. The cake I got this time round was the toffee apple cheesecake (above). Amongst the other cakes, I would recommend getting this (if you enjoy cheesecakes, of course), together with their muddy espresso ($5.5). The cake is dense and creamy with a crust at the bottom, just how I like it with my cheesecakes.

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I had the above 2 cakes on different occasions, and they are also my top picks. I love the banana loaf! Especially right after it’s being warmed up. The cake is flavourful and moist, and it’s one of the cheapest dessert items.

So that’s all for my recess week cafe hopping adventures! For those who are planning to visit these cafes, I hope I’ve been useful. Have fun eating!

Holiday Destinations in Asia

It hasn’t been long since I’ve been back from Europe and I know haven’t even started writing about the places I’ve visited in Europe even though I promised myself I would, but I am already itching to go on another holiday. I would love to explore Asia, because of my absolute love for Asian food and well, it is considerably cheaper than anywhere else. Honestly, I know that this is a long shot because my parents never let me go on a holiday alone, ever. Nonetheless, I have in mind a list of places in Asia that I would love to visit and the prices of airline tickets checked, just in case my parents change their minds.

1. Bangkok

Bangkok
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Bangkok was one of the first places that I looked up upon because it met so many of the criterias I had for a short summer trip. Bangkok is often known as the Land of Smiles because the people there are extremely accommodating and welcoming to tourists. Many people from Singapore have been to Bangkok because the plane tickets are cheap, choosing the right accommodation will not kill your budget and most importantly, the food there is cheap and amazing. That’s something I am really looking forward to, and well of course, the cheap shopping too.

2. Hong Kong

Hong Kong
http://www.tropicalisland.de/HKG%20Hong%20Kong%20Advertising.jpg

Hong Kong is an extremely vibrant and beautiful city. I have the pleasure of visiting the city at least once a year due to my parents’ work. This city offers great food, shopping, attractions and nightlife. It does hold many dear memories of my childhood and it is a place that I definitely miss whenever I leave, but now that I’m older, I would love to explore Hong Kong with my friends in the form of a holiday and to absorb every detail of this city to the fullest, without having to depend on my parents.

3. Japan

http://img0.mxstatic.com/wallpapers/048e08177236ed789791b7cd0ec32cd1_large.jpeg
http://img0.mxstatic.com/wallpapers/048e08177236ed789791b7cd0ec32cd1_large.jpeg

Japan needs no introduction, even to our Western or European counterparts. Japan showcases the four different seasons so perfectly and the scenery here is just incredible. I’ve heard so much about Japan and I’m really itching to jump on that plane to go. If only the tickets weren’t so expensive… Hopefully my plans to go to Japan for my grad trip will come true! Crabs, sashimi, ramen, sushi, Harry Potter theme park, wait for me!

4. Korea

http://andiartawisata.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/tol-haruebang-statues.jpg
http://andiartawisata.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/tol-haruebang-statues.jpg

Yup, I admit it. I’m a fan. I love Korea! I’ve only been to Korea once, and that was when I was about 10 so I’m not able to remember much of the place, maybe except for the ubiquitous kimchi I suppose. Ever since having taken a Korean Language module in school, I am always excited at the thought of going to Korea where I can use some of my newly learnt language knowledge (which honestly, is already kind of ebbing away). Korea is filled with so many sights to see, clothes to buy, and don’t even get me started on the food

5. Taiwan

http://previews.123rf.com/images/paulwongkwan/paulwongkwan1301/paulwongkwan130100102/17435802-JIUFEN-TAIWAN-JAN-07-2013-Jiufen-old-street-rainning-on-Jan-07-2013-in-Jiufen-Taiwan-Jiufen-is-local-Stock-Photo.jpg
http://previews.123rf.com/images/paulwongkwan/paulwongkwan1301/paulwongkwan130100102/17435802-JIUFEN-TAIWAN-JAN-07-2013-Jiufen-old-street-rainning-on-Jan-07-2013-in-Jiufen-Taiwan-Jiufen-is-local-Stock-Photo.jpg

I’ve been to Taiwan just two years ago, and I love it! One thing great is that I am able to converse with shopkeepers and waiters/waitresses in restaurants and to read road signs because sometimes, language barriers are really just a pain. I love Chinese food and actually right now, I would do anything to have a bite of that fried squid thing from the ShiLin night market, or well, at least almost anything.

6. Vietnam

http://andiartawisata.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/tol-haruebang-statues.jpg
http://andiartawisata.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/tol-haruebang-statues.jpg

I had read somewhere that Vietnam is one of the safest Asian countries to visit, even for females travelling alone. Since I’m not even going to be travelling alone, it should be even safer, right? Vietnam has been a pretty understated country, but recently, more people have been putting Vietnam on their to-visit list. It may be because of those lush greeneries, mighty towering mountains and sparkling turquoise water, but I’m thinking more along the lines of that delicious steaming bowl of pho.

7. Philippines

https://ariannewashere.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/471958_380625951980892_100001004707898_1080520_2144782295_o.jpg
https://ariannewashere.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/471958_380625951980892_100001004707898_1080520_2144782295_o.jpg

Did you know that Philippines is made up of more than 7000 islands? I am so fascinated by all the traveller posts on island-hopping in Philippines; it sounds just like that in Greece, but in Asia! The pictures of various islands in Philippines that I found online are breathtakingly beautiful with the waters so clear and the scenery so serene. Consider me hooked! …although I am honestly quite worried about getting stung by a jellyfish or whatnot in these open waters.

So, you see, maybe I am a true Asian gal who loves her Asian countries and their respective delicious Asian food, because right now, I’m practically hopping with excitement at the thought of visiting these places! But now for the biggest obstacle of all – how to ask for permission to go… sigh.

Back Home

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Back in Singapore, where you can almost always count on the weather to be warm and humid.

It is a strange feeling, really, to feel the familiar comforts of being at home and yet to miss a place so far away that I called home for 5 months. Half of me wants to bury myself in this familiar environment and never get back up, but the other part of me just wishes I were back in Europe, or just anywhere apart from home.

I haven’t been updating this blog as often as I would have liked during my exchange, and even that is an understatement because I only have 3 posts so far, but I am trying and will try again from now. At the start of my exchange, I had penned a post about what are the things I would have loved to achieve from studying and travelling abroad, but honestly, I did not feel the impact travelling had on me, till I got back.

We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.

– Jonah Lehrer

Midway into my exchange, I Googled what travelling meant to people, and why they travel (Yes, I Google stuff like that…) and I came across this article by John Lehrer in The Guardian. He tried explaining why people travelled, and his last sentence, or last three actually, really struck me deeply and I copied it down into my computer. I did not really understand it then, but now that I’m home after my first big trip, I think I do. Or at least I try to.

It is a strange feeling to come home to a place where everything remains unchanged, the people still act the same, and the buildings are the same; it’s like you were never gone! But somehow, I feel different. However, being at home in such a familiar environment scares me too, because I can feel the independence that I have accumulated through the months slowly slipping away in the form of dependence on the house help, on my parents etc., and this is one thing I really want to keep.

There are some things, of course, that need some time for me to adjust back to. Firstly, the weather! Even sitting on the couch in the living room to watch TV makes me perspire. I did not remember Singapore to be of this temperature… SIGH. And next, the price of the groceries. Went to the grocery store with my parents earlier this evening, and the prices of the produce and some items were really expensive. Well, obviously not everything in France is considered cheap, but things like fruits, vegetables and yogurt are so much more expensive here than in France! I was really surprised. To think I still proudly told my bro that I bet I could buy groceries for a week (for 1) with under 20 dollars. Maybe not; especially since the tub of yogurt that costs a maximum of 2 euros in France, costs 10 dollars here. And lastly, the time. In Europe, at 930pm, the sky is still bright. I walked out of the grocery store this evening and the sky was dark. At 7pm. Well, that needed some getting used to. I especially loved how long the days were in the other side of the world. Also, my sleep cycle. It’s 330am here and I am awake typing this. This should mean something as I don’t usually sleep past 12, save for the occasional 1 or 2ams here and there. Well, goodnight and I hope my sleep cycle returns to normal soon.

Paris – Holybelly

HolyBelly.

Even though I have been in France for more than 2 months, I haven’t actually been to many cafes, or actually, none at all. Holybelly is not typically French, but it probably is one of the more bustling cafes around in Paris; I waited for about 45 mins for my table. Most who frequent Holybelly belong to the younger crowd and there’s a relaxed and hip vibe you can definitely feel upon stepping into the cafe.

I really love the interior of the place! It was warm and inviting, with friendly chatter all around. Upon entering, I couldn’t decide which I liked more – the beautiful and cozy interior, the smell of the food or the aroma of the coffee.

HolyBelly does not have an overly extensive menu, but it still did leave me spoilt for choice. They are very famous for their pancakes, however, since I wasn’t a fan of pancakes, that was out for me. Instead, I got the Eggs and Sides. They also have special weekend menus, which we ordered as well.

Eugeny 2015

Their Eggs and Sides. You can choose your style of eggs – poached, fried or scrambled, and two sides. I got the poached eggs, the housemade sausage patty and baked goat cheese. The homemade sausage was really good because it wasn’t too salty and was made with real minced meat. As for the goat cheese, I think I would have very much preferred the baked beans or mushrooms.

Eugeny 2015

The weekend special. When deciding what to order, the next table overheard us asking the waitress for recommendations, and they swore by the weekend special. IT WAS SO GOOD. I’m really not exaggerating. For this week, the menu came with baked camembert cheese, eggs (of your choice), toast and fresh salad. The baked camembert was SO GOOD. I do not know what went on it, but I’m guessing that it was topped with honey and hazelnuts. The cheese had melted on the inside so it was somewhat like a cheese fondue, and the cheese rind was crispy and sweet because of the honey. It was especially good when we dipped the toast into the melted cheese.

Eugeny 2015

Cafe Latte. This tasted pretty decent, but then again, I’m not really a coffee expert, so most lattes taste about the same to me. There were quite a number of people getting coffee so it’s probably above average, but don’t take my word for it. Maybe you could try it for yourself 🙂

There are no desserts in the menu, but there are a number of cakes displayed on the counter which you can pick and choose from. I did not try any desserts since I was already full, but the carrot cupcakes looked really good.

Eugeny 2015

By Paris standards, the prices at Holybelly are not too steep, considering the quality of the food. It was a good Saturday brunch. I really did enjoy myself, and I’m sure you will too.

Address: 

Holybelly, 19 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Paris, France

Hours:

Mon: 08:00 – 18:00

Tue-Fri: 08:00 – 18:00

Sat-Sun: 10:00 – 18:00

Places to visit in Europe

As I was planning my next few trips earlier today, it suddenly struck me that I did not know what i actually wanted from travelling around to different places. Do I actually want to see for myself the landmarks in each city that I always see in pictures? Or do I want to immerse myself in the culture of the city by visiting museums and learning about the places’ history? Or do I want to go around trying various cuisines? I do not know. And maybe that is why thus far, all that I have visited seems pretty much the same to me. Don’t get me wrong; I love to travel, but, I probably should find out what I look for when travelling to make my travels a little (or rather a lot) more meaningful.

Meanwhile, here’s a list of places that I would love to visit. It definitely isn’t realistic to be able to travel to all these places during exchange, but hopefully one day, I will be able to tick off all the places on this list.

1. Paris, France

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/budget-travel/4-great-tips-for-visiting_b_5086377.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/budget-travel/4-great-tips-for-visiting_b_5086377.html

2. London, United Kingdom

http://www.desktopwallpapers4.me/world/london-18477/

3. Venice, Italy

http://distancecities.com/countries/italy/venice/
http://distancecities.com/countries/italy/venice/

4. Rome, Italy

http://flat-club.com/rome-tips-from-locals
http://flat-club.com/rome-tips-from-locals

5. Brussels, Belgium 

http://www.ticketsoc.co.uk/media/event_images/185/grand_palace_brussels_city_wallpapers-wide.jpg
http://www.ticketsoc.co.uk/media/event_images/185/grand_palace_brussels_city_wallpapers-wide.jpg

6. Reykjavik, Iceland 

http://www.iceland24blog.com/2014/01/itinerary-ideas-winter-visit-itinerary.html
http://www.iceland24blog.com/2014/01/itinerary-ideas-winter-visit-itinerary.html

7. Santorini, Greece 

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http://chinesetouristagency.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Santorini-Greece-5.jpg

8. Salzburg, Austria

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http://www.soundofsalzburg.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Salzburg-Stadtsicht-Tag.jpg

9. Prague, Czech Republic 

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http://img0.svstatic.com/wallpapers/b61f7d87e44f162726256b469acdcf3d_large.jpeg

10. Edinburgh, Scotland 

http://distancecities.com/countries/scotland/edinburgh/
http://distancecities.com/countries/scotland/edinburgh/

This list will definitely get longer and longer because there are just so many beautiful places in the world to visit. I hope that through my travels, I can find out what visiting each city means to me, and what I search for when embarking on a new journey. Till then, let’s hope my travellers’ dreams will never be dampened by the lack of time or MONEY.