October, 2006

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Succulent sushi

Goma Salmon Don @ Sakae Sushi (Compass Point)

dining-109.JPGSingaporeans love Japanese food. I remember years ago when Japanese food first made its appearance in foodcourts, there was quite a bit of publicity going around it, with many locals remarking that they had good impressions of such fare: with many believing that the sushi in particular constituted healthy food.

Japanese food in Singapore today runs the range from Sushi takeouts at NTUC supermarkets, foodcourt stalls, buffets, expensive restaurants, and restaurant chains.

Sakae Sushi is, arguably, the largest of the Japanese restaurant chains in Singapore. It’s hard not to find a Sakae Sushi restaurant in every major shopping mall here. In fact, in terms of its presence in malls, it’s almost ubiquitous as say, McDonalds. At last count, there are 31 outlets around the island, with two pretty near Rivervale itself. There’s one in Rivervale Mall, and another in Compass Point.

Singaporeans for sure are big fans of this chain; the restaurant at Compass Point opened at 11:30 a.m., and within 20 minutes the restaurant had filled up, and a queue had formed at the entrance. Ling had some dining vouchers for the chain, so we went by the outlet in Compass Point over the weekend to make use of it.

dining-108.JPGLing thinks that the sushi served at Sakae is “very, very average”; me, I can’t tell the difference slightest. While we’re here, we tend to stick to the same favorites. There’ll usually be a plate of Kakiage – which is mixed shredded vegetables fried in tempura butter with sauce spread over it, and shown in the top picture; fresh salmon sushi, Salmon kama, and Fried toufu. We had to order $25 worth of food first to qualify for voucher usage. So, in order to get enough for $25, we settled on a Salmon Don set for myself, and another seven small plates of varied fare.

We were among the first to place orders for the day, so our orders came briskly enough. One thing I have to say about Japanese food in general, and it’s that presentation is always very good. Not like Chinese cusine – stir fry anyone? The Salmon don set was particularly appealing, as one can see from the picture above. Pretty good stuff too too, and filling enough at an average price of $8.90.

  • Food: 7 / 10
  • Value: 3.5 / 5
  • Overall: 3.5 / 5. I imagine Ling would have rated the ‘Food’ grade lower though, since her standards for good fare are higher than mine. Me, I’d happily eat most anything. :)

Having The Good Life

2006-Aquarium-PICT2330-filter-small.JPGBy that, I meant the fishes.:)Ling has been remarking that the fishes in our tanks really do enjoy a good life. How’s that? Well, they get a nicely planted playground to swim around in, a wooden cave to hide in – the little Corydoras catfishes love to do this in their new home – they get to enjoy well-filtered water from an oversized filter, and most of all, enjoy cool air-conditioning courtesy of large piece of equipment in the living hall; a chiller.

For those of us who’re hobbyists, a chiller is an equipment that takes in water from the tank, cools it down in the same way an air-conditioning unit does, then passes it back to the tank. An internal thermostat monitors the water temperature, and switches on and off when necessary to keep the temperature constant throughout.

How is water temperature important? Well, plants typically survive best at lower temperatures than what Singapore weather is normally. Specifically, water plants could start wiltering if they were left at water of around 30 to 31 degrees. Depending on the fishes one keeps, those little critters could be at some discomfort too, though just slightly higher water temperatures are rarely fatal.

Not all aquarium keepers invest in this equipment though, and that could be due to several reasons. The power usage for the device can be high, and the device is… huge.:) In our case, the chiller is placed beside the cabinet, and is pretty much hidden by the sofa altogether, fortunately. Otherwise, the chiller with its two huge water hoses would had been quite an eye-sore.

In any case, the above wasn’t that expensive an initial investment for us. We got it fairly cheaply at $400 – a Hailea HC-300A for those who know of these things – and it’s reputed to be a fairly reliable machine for the price we paid. The long-term running cost is of some concern though, but we figured we could live with about an additional $10 of electrical use per month. After all, what price for the well-being of flora and fauna?

My Favorite Little Things

blog-my-favourite-things.jpgI guess nobody was more worried, apart from myself, about the bold colour combination I had chosen for our new home a few weeks ago. Had the effects turned out as awful / bad taste, I wonder how well I could have handled my emotions and the remarks visitors might make.

After spending hours reading up on wall colours combination from library books and staring hard at Nippon and Dulux paint catalogs under various lightings, I finally decided on the combination for our home. Since darling dearest really preferred strong colours, and this coupled with the moods I’d like to create for various rooms, contrasting colours emerged as the ultimate theme for walls. In addition, I had to constantly bear in mind the choice of colours for curtains and furnishings in order to complement this colour theme.The greatest relief came when Yang’s mum complimented on my brave move in the choice of paint colours.

Personally, I also like what I saw – it was what I pictured in my head during the planning stage. My favourite wall is painted with Dulux’s pistachio green. That paint was out of stock in Singapore then. The Malaysian painter actually went back to his country to source for the colour I wanted.

I discovered just today that mopping marble floors with hot water and cotton towel does make the marble shine and feel smooth to the soles. Thanks to my colleague who made a passing remark and an online sharing. I had been using commercial marble detergent that contains various kinds of waxes for my family home’s marbled floors. It is quite good but I understand that the detergent can damage the sealant on the marble over time. Anyway, what a wonderful little discovery for myself today!

I like the planted tank too. Looking forward to the blossoms from Tiger Lotus! (The plant in the photo shows a new leaf from Tiger Lotus. It is a fast growing plant!)

As I look back, God was indeed very kind to us. Sure, we had our share of hiccups and disagreements in our wedding preparations, acquiring of an apartment we could build our love nest together, and renovating-cum-furnishing the love nest. Credits must also go to darling dearest for his meticulous planning and execution of different phases in wedding preparations and renovating-cum-furnishing the new home. I had been hearing that we should accept and give thanks for both the good and bad from the Lord. About the latter for example, I have been experiencing this frustration of getting through to a sales assistant at an electrical appliance shop. The sales assistant didn’t seem to regard me as a potential customer. The Lord’s will – let me be patient and wait.

I really like our little, humble love nest :)

A View to Thrill

One of those things that the two of us had been unsure of at The Rivervale was about the comparatively low floor of our apartment. The asking price for this unit was about what we could afford, so while we liked the view of Punggol Park and that the road our living hall faces is reasonably quiet, we’ve always been just a little worried if our place would still feel right and get a nice view.

Now that we’ve spent the weekend cleaning and furnishing up our place, our fears seem to be (mostly) unfounded. The place can be pretty windy, and even if we don’t get to see most of the park, we do still get a great view of tall trees.:)

Here’re two pictures of our living room, and the aquarium tank that we’ve just setup yesterday. The tank water is still rather cloudy, but it’ll clear up in a few weeks.


Aquarium 4.0

It’s interesting to think of how quickly one gets into a new hobby. In our case, it’s been our aquarium, and this new setup is the fourth aquarium project we’ve had this year.


While we were at the tank and cabinet manufacturer at the very ulu Sungei Tengah area the other weekend, Ling was asking if we should get a four feet instead of a three feet tank. After all, the larger the tank, the more comfortable those little critters will be, as is also the tolerance for any sort of mistakes that may come along the way. However, since the lion’s portion of the maintenance will ultimately be done by myself, I just can’t see myself handling one of those large tanks so we went back to my original intention of a 3 footer.

At the moment, the tank is still pretty messy, since neither of us have much sense in how to go about creating a really beautiful landscape. We do have quite a spectrum of plants though; and sometime later this week, I’ll have to go about cataloging the lot. More stuff to come on the tank for sure then.:)

Prata pleasures

Roti prata @ Banquet (Ang Mo Kio Central)

At the onset, I’ll note that the best, and most unique, prata I’ve had is the prata shop along Casaurina Road. Passerbys of Upper Thomson Road would have seen this shop before. It has a banner proudly claiming that its prata is “Singapore’s answer to the Croissant”. That said, there’re many other prata shops of varying quality. Most of them are situated at the hawker or corner coffee shops in the heartland area. More recently though, prata shops have made their appearance in air-conditioned foodmalls.

dining-088.JPGRoti prata, for the uninitiated, is a flat pancake made of fat, flour, and water; and depending on its variation, it may be mixed with eggs, onions, minced beef, strawberries, chocolate, cheese, chicken, bananas, even ice-cream. The cheapest ones are still the plain or “kosong” (Malay for ‘empty’) pratas. My personal favourites are the ones with eggs, although Ling prefers the “Kosong” ones. The pratas always are served with curry, which in itself could be one of many varieties.

The one at Casuarina Road is a pretty famous outlet; but my first entry on pratas comes from a fairly new foodcourt at Ang Mo Kio Central, called “Banquet“. From what I’ve observed, it’s really a halal eatery comprising many stalls manned by Malay muslims. As a result, the eatery is hugely popular with them, and we see Malays of all ages and families hitting the place. The eatery as we visited on Sunday evening saw a sizable number of Chinese too, all without doubt going there to enjoy the great food. There was even a group of police constables who joined in the long queue at the chicken rice stall.

On the food itself, that’s a plate of 3 pratas with egg, at a fairly low asking of $1.20 a piece. The pratas were of the common type (the Casuarina Road whips up crispy pratas), but the curry that came with the set sparkled and made the big difference. It was of the right viscosity – not too watery or too thick – and had a pleasant and very mildly sweet flavour to it.

  • Food: 7 / 10
  • Value: 4 / 5
  • Service: 3.5 / 5
  • Overall: 3.6 / 5. It’s unhealthy food, but heck, just sweat it out with a 20 minute jog later.