30 July 2014

Smoked salmon for days: Breakfast

To start my day the right way....

I made breakfast and poached an egg for the first time! Smoked salmon with a poached egg on toast. 
Topped with rocket salad and black pepper... and a hint of lime. Mm.

Good morning. 

I love mornings in this house because when everyone's up I hear noises in the background that isn't the sound of me chopping my own mushrooms, or me making a smoothie. I hear my dad flipping through the papers or my mum sorting out the groceries instead. It's nice being around family. I guess I'm at that age where I understand the meaning of "your parents aren't getting any younger".

On another note, we're heading home in about three weeks(!!) everything we've been avoiding the past few months is just around the corner, about to smack us right in the face. We've been looking at different neighbourhoods to next reside in and the daydreamer in me has been pretty preoccupied dreaming of walks by the beach and the likes ;)  Helloooo responsibility and house hunting and monthly health insurance that I more-often-than-not-forget-to-pay-for. You know you're getting old when supermarket chains play an important role in deciding where you want to live.

26 July 2014

Hong Kong!



Hello! Last weekend, we flew to Hong Kong with my family. The city was sooo much better than I remembered it to be! Hong Kong yer a beauty, and we will be back.

I know it's //just hong kong// to most people,but this trip will mean more to me than it would to some, for a couple of reasons. Jw has never been to Hong Kong before so showing him (and knowing more than him for once!!) was pretty exciting, Also, Jw. Family. Holiday. Together! We usually go to Hong Kong to shop, but this year, with a closet about to burst, a desire to start living simply and half an Asian Studies degree, we went sightseeing instead.
Pictures taken with a Canon Rebel T3i, or otherwise an iPhone (sorry), edited with VSCOcam or Afterlight.

I have a lottttt of pictures, but I'll promise to keep this post not-so-lengthy.
So....
FOPs, I guess. And by that I mean fresh off the plane. 

We stayed around the Jordan area in Kowloon, which was really convenient because we were surrounded by everything required for basic first world human survival: the subway station, Mcdonalds, and drinking water (by that I mean a supermarket.)

I don't know how to explain this, but the buildings and colours in Hong Kong are unique. Like, you look at a picture online and see a brick orange apartment complex or a forest green gate and you think, ah! That's Hong kong. I love it.

We had dinner at BB Cow, which was just around the corner from where we were staying. I had pork trotters in red bean sauce.  I wish we could have gone back once more, but we didn't and I will always dream of this meal. 

He had beef brisket noodles.


At night we went to Temple Street, where you can find things like phone cases, HK memorabilia,  childrens toys and crafts for cheap. The stretch wasn't as long (or interesting) as I hoped it would be, unfortunately, but it was something different, walking under neon signs and catching a glimpse of the lives of different people: some were trying to make it through the day, others seemed resigned to their everyday routine, and a handful of people were cheerful as ever. It was rather fascinating, for lack of a better word.




This is my favourite shot of the signboards! I think it's because they look like they're floaaaating. ^^ 

This father and son deal was kind of cute and awww-worthy when I first saw them. 

My favourite dessert in the history of EVER is mango pudding, by the way. I had mango pudding almost every day (the best one I had was in Canton Deli in Harbour City.)  We bought this on discount from a bakery around the corner of Temple Street to cool down because the weather was sooo warm.

Spoons are redundant and inconvenient so we slurped it up instead.


THIS WAS SUCH A CUTE SIGHT. BIG KITTY SMALL BOX. MUCH CUTE. 

At midnight we went for egg custard at the Australia Dairy Company.  I read a lot of good reviews about this place beforehand, so stumbling upon the place (seriously, we never planned to go) was a pleasant surprise. We didn't have to queue for an hour like most reviews said, in fact, we barely queued at all, but they do hurry you and hand you the bill immediately when they see you're done. This was the first time I had egg custard so I can't really say much about it, but I do know that it was yummy to me at least! People around me were eating some sort of spam and soup pasta, but I only noticed it when we were leaving :( their menus aren't written in English either so egg custard was pretty much the only thing I could have because I ordered whatever my dad ordered.

( i have too many pictures and i don't like clutter, so click to read more. ) 

25 July 2014

Toasty

Went through my old blog(s) tonight. Blogs are pretty awesome, huh. Sometimes you read about things you completely forgot about. Like going to a music festival with a friend just to watch New Found Glory, and leaving after, only to return because she forgot to buy merch. Or you find the 453987354 selfies you took. You know like the ones you thought you looked good in because you had the camera angled downwards and your bangs were kind of covering your eyes? Yeah.  The silver lining in combing through a slew of rants and pictures that I should be ashamed of was finding a bunch of pictures that mean the world to me, including those of Toasty, my very first cat friend. (pictures here are circa 2007, taken with a **hardy Nokia**... so basically expect bad composition and bad hair and bad everything, ha)

He was that small when I got him :') a friend of a friend found a litter of kittens with no mommy, and on my fifteenth birthday i opened a box and found an orange kitten. so began my friendship with toasty.

 

And there's Booboo, our rottie. This is us introducing Toasty to him! (also, I really love that Swatch). They became really good friends fast. They'd chase each other about and sometimes Toasty would cling on to his hind legs for a joyride of sorts :3


 




Finding these pictures was a good thing, but they stirred up that achey pain in my heart again. I miss you, Toasty. You were the best x 

23 July 2014

iPhone-a-decoratin' with washi tape

Hello! I'm feeling kind of upbeat today because my week has been fulfilling for the most part. I've started getting busy in the kitchen again–which means lots of experimenting, and I managed to get my flight back home settled: I was set to leave on the 3rd of August and two days ago I realised it meant that I had twelve days left in this island city...and I wasn't ready to leave! No mom or dad or brother? I haven't even had my fill of curry puffs and bak chor mee! Heading back to Vancouver meant being responsible again and paying my own bills. So we tried to change my flight, but every flight in August was full, unless I wanted to pay 3800 USD to be rebooked on a different flight. on economy class, mind you. I was upset. And Jw wasn't even going to be there until the 20th of August, which meant house hunting and moving and cleaning alone. Still, I put on a brave face (seriously. I was <--this close--> to tears. I know, I'm a brat.) and found myself accommodation, arranged to get Dumpling the hog and even tried to make plans to go to Alberta. Then last night, my mum worked her mummy magic and got me my ticket changed, literally after five hours worth of phone calls spread over two days. And being disconnected twice. And everything bad you can possibly imagine about customer service. Thanks mum! I'm a little bummed about Alberta, but she can wait for a bit.

Anyhoo little problems aside, in light of my productive week, today I decorated my iPhone with washi tape and also went grocery shopping. I love washi tape!  They tear off like a dream, I really don't like sticker residue because they are horrible to touch and they turn grey eventually. Plus they look real pretty when you write over them sometimes ;)
Before I left for Canada, I had a collection of washi tape. I brought 12 bags to Canada and three boxes of stationary along with me, but not my tape. Great job, Sarah! So today when I passed by a washi pop up store I was all sorts of excited and ended up leaving with a few to kickstart my collection again.

I set off to conquer great lands! (lands, surfaces. you know)

Tools of the trade ^^ 

Decorating my iPhone was an easy quest. I returned home victorious. 

 I used my mom's phone to take this picture of this and it isn't very clear.. which is strange because she uses a better phone than me, haha. Anyway I simply cut and stuck tape on the back of my iphone. I don't think anyone would expect much from the title of this post..? I mean I taped some vertically and the others horizontally, but that's pretty much all the creativity I can offer for the time being. Hi, Stitch. I somehow thought adding him to the picture would be a good idea, but I'm kind of regretting it now. Hashtag styling hashtag not




Washi tape is supposedly waterproof so you don't really have to worry about leaving your phone on wet surfaces, but if you're worried about that or your tape getting torn out, I suggest using a clear iPhone case over it. (Again, no points for creativity on this one).

These tapes are from MtTape, but I've visited wishywashi sporadically over the last couple of months and they carry the cutest designs!

p/s: say hello to my new moniker! i never really liked tajaux, tajo.com was taken, and tajo.net would set me back $1000... so the next-best was a .co. I'm quite pleased.

17 July 2014

Singapore food: Part 3

Good morning! Here are some food shots from the past week or so, thereby immortalizing our trails around Singapore yet again. Over the weekend we made a trip to Hong Kong, but I'll blog about that another time.  So, our week in tableware:



About a week ago my mom waited for me while I went in to the office quickly, and it rained very heavily after, so when I was done, I brought her to Reedz Cafe at NUS to have lunch (Since driving from one point of Singapore to the other in tropical torrential rain is no joke. Thanks mama!) She had the turkey bacon aglio olio and I had the seafood aglio olio, which was perfect as always: garlicky, spicy, and full of olive oil. It wasn't as al dente as I'd have liked, but that plate of pasta only cost me $5.80,  so I shouldn't complain so much.


Jw and I went back the next day because he wanted their fish and chips very badly. I had cheese fries and a caramel macchiato! 




A dame blanche at the Hollandse Club.


Jw wanted Korean food, so we tried Hansang Family Restaurant in Square 2.  We had ginseng chicken soup and jajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce). The soup was great but they added too much MSG in the jajangmyeon and we ended up feeling really sleepy and bloated after our overpriced meal. No bueno. What was bueno though, was Neolive Hair Make located one floor above the restaurant. According to him,  they cut his hair well and are prettyyyy decently priced. They were nice to me, too :) 


Last week, some family friends from Toronto were in town and we had lunch with them at Yum Cha Restaurant . Jw and I had so much fun playing with his youngest kid! He really liked playing the game of concentration and chopsticks so we spent most of our time playing with him, and following his rules ;) The kids really loved the spring rolls and fried silverfish. His dad is a pretty awesome man, by the way. He hitch hiked his way from Toronto to Alberta when he was 30 and visited Jasper and Banff (you have no idea how impressed/jealous we were.) Then he hitch hiked once more to British Columbia and Seattle.


I met Tingshan/Toasting for lunch at La Nonna in Holland Village. It was nice seeing her after such a long time. La Nonna has this awesome lunch promotion where you get a 1-for-1 main on weekdays between 12-230 so I was pretty happy that I got my smoked salmon pizza for less! Their lasagna was pretty good as well and I ended up bringing my friend there two days later for more smoked salmon pizza. Jw and my brother tried the pizza as well and they liked it too! This is a WIN-WIN LUNCH DEAL GUYS.
 
  

After that we walked to Chip Bee Gardens for ice cream at the Daily Scoop! Their Kahlua Krunch is super awesome.


Jw craves for Korean food p2: this time we went to Bibigo. We didn't think it was going to be anything special, but when the food was served, Jw was pretty impressed so I guess that says a lot. I tried goldonmyeon which was buckwheat noodles in a kind of sauce that reminded me of wafu dressing, and I loved it! We also had chicken stew (which was also awesome by the way, such a shame we couldn't finish it) and assorted kimchi.


Assorted kimchi! I love love love kimchi. 

That's it for now,  I have to head in to the office soon so I take my leave!
Read more of our food trails in Singapore:  Part 2 / Part 1

 


7 July 2014

Cooking for the family: Spicy beef bulgogi / hobakjeon (zucchini pancakes) recipe.

Hello! On Saturday, Jw made dinner for my family. My mom has never tried Korean food before, and she's not very adventurous with new dishes but she ended up liking everything she ate (she doesn't eat beef). I guess I'll squeeze in here and claim some credit in playing a teeny tiny role in helping him with the cooking, because I cut  / coated / washed stuff. Heh! Anyway, I'm really glad my family enjoyed what he cooked.
It took him about 1 and a half hours to make 4 dishes. He made bulgogi, japchae, doenjang-jjigae (soybean paste soup), and everyone's favourite, hobakjeon.(aka squash pancakes, but we only used zucchini.) .  
Top L-R: Doenjang-jjigae, bulgolgi
Bottom: hobakjeon, japchae.

I know I should have taken a better picture of the food, but everyone was starving and to get the 'perfect shot' i think i'd have to stand on the chairs (which is a no-no for my mom)... yeah i know, excuses. I should really get the camera fixed.

Some of our ingredients! 

We needed some Korean ingredients so we had to do some shopping at our usual supermarket for things like produce / meat, and we got our Korean seasoning from SolMart in Square 2.  We also found sauce from Bibigo and used their stuff, too :)

Marinating the bulgolgi and mushrooms. 
The bulgogi he made was essentially spicy pork bulgogi replaced with beef. 

For desserts we got ggul teok (sticky honey rice balls), and MANGOSTEENS!!!!! which are definitely my favourite fruits, along with mangoes and strawberries.  My mom also got durians, but my brother, Jw and I aren't fans so my parents got to enjoy all of that, yay for them.


I am only putting up the recipes for the zucchini pancakes and the bulgogi because the soup and japchae are a little more difficult to make – according to him, it's "all about timing", but it's tricky! Perhaps another time when I try it :) 

Hobakjeon / zucchini pancakes
serves 5

ingredients:
3 eggs, beaten
a pinch of salt
1.5 zucchini, sliced thinly
1 small bowl of Korean pancake mix (can be substituted with flour and salt)

directions:
  1. coat each slice of zucchini in the pancake mix
  2. add salt into the beaten eggs
  3. dip the slices into the egg mix 
  4. place them in a frying pan with vegetable or olive oil that has been heated up.
  5. press the slices down with a spatula 
  6. when it they are golden brown, flip them over to the other side.
  7. wait for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown. 



Spicy Beef Bulgolgi 
 serves 5

ingredients:500g beef (chuck cut), thinly sliced.
200g oyster mushrooms, sliced, stem removed

marinade:
100ml gochujang (red chilli paste)
1 teaspoon sugar
0.5 teaspoon soysauce
2 cloves garlic
0.5 teaspoon sesame oil

directions:
  1. mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in a large bowl. 
  2. place the meat in, mix with your hand and ensure that they are nicely coated and separated
  3. cover and leave it for half an hour (refrigerate it if possible)
  4. after half an hour, add the mushrooms in, cover and leave for another half an hour.
  5. in a pan or wok, heat some olive or vegetable oil up, and cook the meat on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. (be careful as if the beef overheats, it will become tough! you want it nice and tender.)



This post took me quite a while to write, and I have a long day ahead tomorrow so I have to sleep soon. I'm going to leave this here before I go off:


^^^^^^ Before we went to get the ingredients for this meal, we found a playground and he was so happy! This is one of my favorite pictures of him, hehe. ^^^^^^

5 July 2014

Cheat Day

Some time last week I had one of those cheat days where I consumed all the sugar and grease that my body could allow. It started out great until I had a Mcwing around midnight (just one wing, mind you, not the whole box), saw the thick coat of grease under the fried skin, and completely stopped.



Our first stop was KFC, because in Canada we crave for KFC at least once a month in Canada and the nearest one is an hour away, and is usually closed whenever we want it. Can I take a minute to appreciate cheese fries. I love how most restaurants here serve cheese fries (and truffle fries!!) Nothing goes with potatoes better than sour cream and cheese, i tell you. fried, baked, mashed.. you should try it some time!


 SO HAPPY WITH MY ORIGINAL DRUMSTICK (we sent this picture to his mom and she said the same thing) 


Then I brought bubble tea / boba home! Drinktea is one of my favourite bubble tea stores. I like milk tea that isn't too milky or sweet, and has that nice tea-ish aftertaste. (I usually drink my bubble tea with 25-30% sugar. )

And because one cup of bubble tea wasn't enough, i got another one (KOI!!!!) to go with my Mcdonalds meal (not pictured because I couldn't make it look blog-worthy). 
i don't like koi as much as i like Drinktea, but Drinktea was closed by then.  Also, they ran out of pearls so it was just plain milk tea, basically. i'm not complaining though. Milk tea is in abundance everywhere here in Singapore, and it costs a fraction of what i'd pay in Vancouver!! (I'm not a hater, 'Couver. I'm sorry, I miss you every day).

... Last of all, a celebratory picture of the bubble tea I got from **DRINK TEA** with **PEARLS**  yesterday. Another drink I tried there that was nice was their Yakult Peach drink :) 


All in all, it was a very good and rewarding day for sugar and fast food, My 5 favourite bubble tea stores in Singapore: 
  1. Drink tea
  2. Gong Cha (here I replace pearls with herbal jelly!)
  3. Each a Cup 
  4. Koi
  5. Sharetea 
Yesterday, Jw and I made Korean food for my parents and I will blog about that as soon as I get the recipes right. Thanks for reading!

2 July 2014

Singapore food: Part 2

Hello hello! We've been hopping about the island filling our tummies with food, and trying very much to avoid the 'coffee art and eggs benedict brunch culture' that seems to envelop people our age here. It isn't a bad thing, but we get lots of that kind of stuff in Vancouver, so we figured that it was better to eat whatever's hard to find there (and save some ching!) Kind of. We haven't been very good at that lately, though.


 Today my parents picked us up from work and brought us to Sapore Italiano, which was pretty decent (and reasonable!) I had smoked salmon tagliatelle and I loved it. They gave a huge serving so I was pretty much stuffed when I was halfway through the dish, but I still managed to shovel many more spoonfuls of that into my mouth because I live for salmon. My mom had a carbonara which was perfectly al dente. I love the feeling of biting into al dente pasta, I never want to stop chewing once I start.

The restaurant is located in the university here so for the most part of the drive in I kept asking my dad where the beaches, golf course, and magic forest were, because UBC has all of those and  comparing our alma maters is kind of a thing between my dad and I. (He obviously wins at being the intelligentsia because NUS ranks higher than UBC now,  and he went on to an even better university after his undergrad there. But I win at categories like, clean air and liquor store and more beautiful city.)


Then we for coffee at Donguri in the Japanese association! I even got a little cinnamon stick to stir my cappuccino with. I've never seen a cinnamon stick served with coffee, so I spent a long time wondering why they served a cigar with my coffee.



I am so happy that Paris Baguette opened in Singapore!! i love love love love love their pudding, and I adore the little bottles they serve them in. I'm going to bring a bunch of those bottles back to decorate the new house with. I also really like their pastries and I don't know which one's my favourite because they're all so yummy. I think i'll go with berry berry buttons because i've had at least one of that each time i've gone. Jw loves their ice shavings with condensed milk but he says the one in Korea is much better (he is really very loyal to anything Korean, guys. I've had really bad heat rash recently and he is convinced that the best way to treat it is with a Korean gel. Which kind of works but also really stings)


This is literally the best wanton noodles I've had in my life. Pontian / Grafitti cafe can step aside! This is in Eng's Noodle House on 287 Tanjong Katong Road. The noodles are springy, and their fried wantons are extra crunchy. I think it's because they steam them before they fry it.


 Jw and I went to Nex the other day to run some errands, and we found Prata Wala. It was near closing time so many things were sold out. In the end we just settled for plain prata and whatever curry that came with it, because we were so tired and hungry. I tell you, the feeling of the first bite of something that you haven't had in two years is indescribable. It's like, you kind of grin and your eyes widen and you try to force it down your gullet but you're also smiling at the same time... yeah. That was pretty much what something so simple felt like. *Happy camper*

Other things we've eaten that were awesome, but never got pictures of: 
Zha Jiang Mian at the Asian Kitchen
Paus from the food hall at Tangs in Orchard
Hot stone bibimbap with kimchi fried rice in the food republic outlet at Shaw 
Fish and chips, cheese fries and seafood pasta from Reedz cafe 
Some awesome french-fry coated hotdog from Dong Dae Mun in Vivocity 

That's it for now! You can read part one of our food adventures in Singapore here