Monday, 31 January 2011

Buys – Watch The Rabbit

How can we not feature such a cute must-have? It may not be luxe, but this bunny watch by Fossil, launched to herald in the Year of the Rabbit, tops our list of fun breakfast bling! All red and sparkly with a Chinese paper cutting style rabbit, it also sports the Chinese character ‘Fu’ for prosperity and costs just S$175. Listed under the ‘sports’ category, methinks it'll make such a whimsical statement at the gym! We definitely want! The guy’s version in black is priced at $215…but it’s just not so fun, is it?

- Ee Waun

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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Besotted – Buy A Holiday Home in Niseko

Step aside, Bali. Despite Japan’s strong yen, Singaporeans are flocking off to the powdered slopes of Niseko every year end these days to ski and après ski in style. No need for Aspen, Chamonix or Whistler, Niseko, with its light, dry ‘champagne powder’ snow, is ranked No. 2 in the world and it’s just a seven-plus hour flight from our tropical doorstep!

Come the holiday peak season, this snow resort in buzzing with holidaymakers from Singapore and you’re bound to bump into people you know from home.

In fact, one of my girlfriends was just talking about wanting to buy a property there. Then voila! Look what news fell on my dainty lap!

Summit Properties (based in Hong Kong) has just launched the first phase of The Rocks Niseko Resort, a ‘condominium hotel’ development with townhouses and penthouses for sale. This initial phase, The Rocks Edge, in the centre of the alpine village of Hirafu, is due for completion by the end 2011. This sets it amid a lively vibe of restaurants, bars and cafes.

Pick from three-bedroom 169 sqm townhouses, and four-bedroom penthouses of 259 sqm and 286 sqm. Including roof terrace, the top floor penthouse spreads over 440 sqm.

Master planning, architecture and interior design is led by Riccardo Tossani Architecture, and Japan’s landscape architects ‘studio on site’, known for avant garde planning and design of luxury resorts, is part of its design team.

Expect units to offer floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views of Mount Niseko Annupuri, Mount Yotei and adjacent ski fields; large rooms, open fireplaces, balconies, gardens, broad terraces and top-of-the-range fixtures and finishings.

Beyond divine good looks, the property is green and responsible too, with natural energy generation and thermal performance initiatives, like large solar panel ‘farms’ on the roofs of all buildings, generating electricity sold back to the local grid. Natural volcanic hot springs pumping into onsen baths and private rotenburos also contribute to geothermal power generation used for heating rooms, pathways and plazas and driveways.

Subsequent phases will incorporate a Kid’s Club, onsen, modern spa, gym, restaurants, bar, deli, café and ski concierge. Eventually, in the plans are full access to the on-the-snow facilities at the ski-in ski-out Upper Village development including onsen, ski concierge and storage, boot lockers and owner storage cupboards and parking.

- Ee Waun

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Binge - One Last Blast To CNY

One final week before CNY descends. If you haven’t finished your prep, here’s a quick run through of goodies you can still get your hands on, or head to without missing a beat.

For “Yan Yat”, or ‘Everybody’s Birthday’ on the 7th day of CNY, bring home Hilton Singapore’s Organic Yu Sheng which is a lot more exciting and luxe than it sounds. Wild caught salmon strips, shaved truffles, truffle oil dressing, golden persimmons, fresh seaweed and lemon-apple compote and lemon leaves make this a dish with a difference. On top of that, strawberries, honeydew and beetroot tossed in make this even more unique. Very pretty and lovely. It gets my vote! $288++ for 10 pple. 3 days advance order required.

Tel: 6730 3392

Who says you have to toil over the stove if you want Reunion Dinner at home? All you languid lovelies who want your cake and eat it can turn to Chef Yong Bing Ngen who’s done up a full takeaway set menu from Jing Restaurant. You get salmon yu sheng, a small poon choy (with stewed with abalone, fish maw, japanese mushroom, dried oyster, prawn, black moss and sea asparagus, etc), chilli crabs with golden buns, and fried rice with Chinese sausage and pineapple. $318 for 4-6 people. Pick up from the restaurant and just buy dessert.

1 Fullerton Road
Tel: 6224 0088 for details

Talking about dessert, the mandarin mousse cake from Swissotel Merchant Court is quite a find! So the hotel may be a little off the central drag, but it’s got some lovely offerings well worth a drop-in. The said mousse cake is a long rectangular confection, nicely glazed with mandarin jelly at the top and a delightfully light, smooth and fragrant mousse underneath. Decorated with two mini ‘mandarins’ and for added luck, two tiny koi fish made from white chocolate, it’s all too cute to eat! Good to serve guests as hostess with the moistest, for its high ‘awwww’ impact!

Also worth mentioning, they’re offering a Cantonese poon choy for takeaway. A nice old fashioned vat of waxed duck, prawns, Chinese sausage, mushrooms, and sea cucumbers braised in fragrant rice. ($168 for 6 people; $288 for 10). Sometimes, you really just want something nice and traditional. Final orders on 4 February.

Tel: 62381848 or email:
20 Merchant Road
If you’re looking for a place to dine in, Majestic Restaurant’s 10 CNY set menus look tempting, I must say! They aren’t the usual run of the mill dishes, and it won’t totally disseminate your bank account either. For instance, at $480 for 4 people, you get 8 dishes including toro lohei, sea treasures soup with sharks fin and truffle, Peking duck with foie gras, baked Boston lobster with superior soup, braised abalone with beancurd, eight treasures brown rice with prawns, scallops, etc, walnut cream with glutinous rice dumpling and nian gao. Not bad, no? Set menus start from $98 for two. Nice little prezzies for pick up here too, including a nice jar of XO dried scallop chilli sauce ($18.80) and yuan yang nian gao, which combines white radish and yam nian gao with preserved meats and Chinese sausage ($20.80).

31-37 Bukit Pasoh Road
Tel: 6511 4718
For a really nice CNY prezzie, I like Marina Mandarin Singapore’s Fortune Gold Coin Nian Gao ($68), from its Chinese restaurant, Peach Blossoms. It’s a real treat featuring four small puddings: Radish Cake with Preserved Meat, Yam Cake with Japanese Sweet Potato, Kumquat and “Shanxi” Red Dates and a huge, wonderfully made traditional Nian Gao with Coconut Milk. Having tasted them, I can say the radish and yam cakes were particularly good – very flavourful and smooth; and the nian gao was excellent – smooth and tender, but not adhesive like some can be! The huge pink and green box this gift set is packed in makes a fantastic looking gift – only for Mum or a favourite aunt!

Good to know, too, Peach Blossom is also serving luxury CNY dim sum this year, like Steamed Pork Dumpling with Diced Abalone, Steamed Xiao Long Bao with Foie Gras, Steamed Prawn Dumpling with Shark’s Fin. These are available on their a la carte menu.

Tel: 6845 1111

If you need to get a few more gifts, get hold of Hong Kong Mei-Xin Almond Fingers ($4.90 per pack), light as air confections which netizens from China and Taiwan voted as one of the best gifts to get. Incredibly crisp, light and lovely, these really stand out among the hoardes of cookies and confections available out there. It may not be ‘freshly baked’ over the counter, but it certainly tastes that way. Really top notch. I like the original flavour almond fingers, though there are also chocolate and coffee flavours. Apart from these, you can also get your hands on their Walnut Cookie with Almond (very delicious; $4.20 per pack), Walnut Cookie with Cashew, Sesame and Walnut Cookie, Macadamia Nuts Cookie and Walnut Corn Flakes Cookie . Alternatively there’s also a gift box of assorted flavours at $26. Cheap and exceedingly good!

Tel: 6862 2166 or
Log into for details and to order
Or available at Takashimaya and Great World City until 1 Feb
- Ee Waun
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Monday, 24 January 2011

Binge - Impress-Your-Guests Chinese New Year Takeaways

Xin Cuisine's yu sheng with gold leaf

Put on the brakes! CNY is coming upon us too soon and I had just spent yesterday morning in Chinatown picking up all the necessarily red and gold paraphernalia to ring in the season. I am now suitably armed with pussy willows, my ‘ang chye’ or red cloth door banner, plastic ‘ong lai’ and all other CNY essentials. Just brought a good friend to Glory Catering at 139 East Coast Road, where you can find a really massive range of CNY confections including nostalgic cookies and stuff you don’t often see these days such as those golden agar rabbits and karas karas. It’s definitely worth a go.

Man Fu Yuan's glutinous rice stuffed chicken

For the formal dinners, though, I have been trawling through the high end offerings ‘cos I’m not in the mood to cook. Some are pretty quirky, others have impact, and most are creative traditional dishes which, at the end of the day, will probably prove the most popular. See what I saw as potential picks for your reunion dinner….

Min Jiang, at Goodwood Park Hotel
The Golden Fortune Treasures Egg (S$198 for 6, left) sounds interesting if you want a central focus for the meal with a memorable ‘wow’ factor. ‘Give-face’ ingredients like pork knuckles, whole abalones, dried scallops, dried oysters, black moss and black mushrooms are wrapped up in lotus leaves, encased in an egg-shaped salt crust, and oven-baked for four hours. I guess you’ll have to knock real hard to hatch it. I love duck, so must mention the Prosperity ‘Fa Cai’ 8 Treasures Duck (S$168 for 8-10). This boneless bird is stuffed with ‘eight treasures’ of fresh mushrooms, sea cucumber, dried scallops, lotus seeds, fox nuts, black moss, chestnuts and water chestnuts, and braised. Both available for dine-in and take-away at Min Jiang and Min Jiang at One-North with one day advance order. If you have a dentally challenged relative for dins, or wanna give her some nice goodies, pick the steamed Carrot Cake with Preserved Meat and Steamed Yam Cake with Dried Shrimp set (S$50.80, feeds 20; or sold separately at S$28.80 for 10 people; takeaway only).

Min Jiang Tel: 67301704
Min Jiang One-North Tel: 6774 0122

Man Fu Yuan, InterContinental Singapore
The bestseller here, I am advised, is the Deluxe Treasure Pot, or poon choy, featuring eels, sea kelp, sharks fin, among the layers of 20-plus fancy ingredients. Fork out the $318 and they’ll also give you a plate of yu sheng for good measure. Regulars also go for their glutinous rice stuffed chicken ($88), the unique yam cake with chunks of roast duck ($13.80) and double boiled sharks cartilage soup with five head abalone ($318 for 5 people, right). What’s cute too is their takeaway sets so you pick up a whole package for an entire meal – like the double boiled Buddha jump over the wall, wok fried glutinous rice and yu sheng ($688 for 5).

80 Middle Road
Tel: 6825 1062

Xin Cuisine, Holiday Inn Atrium
Not in the most fashionable parts of town, nor perhaps the prettiest hotel either, but Holiday Inn Atrium has Xin Cuisine, a stalwart of a Chinese restaurant that has consistently served up good and innovative foods quietly and steadily. It always felt it deserves more recognition than it enjoys. Good to get from here are its roasted suckling pigs ($298) – a nice change from the usual abundance of rich seafood – and its yu sheng with gold leaf, which comes with Japanese Sweet Prawn, Geoduck, Salmon, Japanese Cobia or Tuna (from $59). If I was going to give away a poon choy (from $238, above), theirs come prettily plated and packed in a silk bag. And the best thing is, they prices are very attractive. They too offer a luxurious takeaway set menu: poon choy, salmon yu sheng, sucking pig and nian gao at $800. My guess is, you can probably feed 8-10 exceedingly well with that!

317 Outram Road

Tel: 6731 7173

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Binge - Fireworks and HK Lunar New Year Feasts

What’s being served on gourmet tables in Hong Kong during the Lunar New Year and how does it differ from what you see in Singapore? For one, the Chefs in Hong Kong are definitely ultra creative and have a penchant for exotic ingredients or lets just say dishes with a slight twist. Couple that with a breathtaking view of the fireworks over the Victoria harbour which most of the restaurants below have.. eating out here in Hong Kong will definitely mean that your year will get off to a crackling start..
What’s different, you ask? Well, how would you like to try a Lamb Lo Hei? The award-winning Hutong(28F, One Peking, 1 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui T:+852 3428 8342) well known for its spicy Northern Chinese fare, has given this traditional dish a twist and you can try their Shangahinese style Lamb as the main ingredient tossed with fresh and dried seafood, diced cucumber and carrot drizzled with a sesame dressing. Serves 4 to 6 persons at HK$788. For the New Year from 4 Feb, also try their 11 course banquet that features signatures such as their Crispy de-boned lamb ribs served with Chinese pancakes, Scallops tossed with pomelo segments and a lovelyMandarin sorbet with crispy apple rolls for dessert.
Then there is Ostrich Meat with Chestnut, Goose Web in Oyster Sauce or Baked Crab Shell stuffed with Bird’s Nest and  you can savour these atKwan Cheuk Heen (+852 21212691) on the 5th floor of the Harbour Grand Hong Kong Hotel where an 8 course menu starts at HK$688 per person.

For Barbecued Suckling Pig, Baked Stuffed Crab shell, Fried Lobster with Black Bean and Chilli, Traditional Baked Chicken in Rock Salt and Braised Fresh Crabmeat Soup with Velvet Winter Melon, we recommend Guo Fu Lou (31st Floor at iSqaure, 64 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, T:+852 2487 3788). A feast for 12 here starts at HK$10,800 and comes complete with a special pairing of Champagne, a magnum of “Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 1998” Champagne, one of the most esteemed names in Champagne that has impressed even the toughest of critics.
If you like your Chinese cuisine with some Japanese inspiration stirred in, then maybe a main course of Hokkaido King Crab Leg with seaweed and Inaniwa Udon will be the thing served alongside Braised Conpoy with Turnip, Wok-seared Sun-dried Oyster, Double-boiled Superior Shark’s Fin Soup with Bamboo Piths and Fungus, Braised Whole Fresh Abalone and Garoupa Fillet with Oyster Jus, Wagyu Beef in Spicy Salt and Diced Shrimp served in a Golden Wheat Flour Basket. Steamed Chicken with Yunnan Ham and Morel Mushrooms and Sweetened Rice Dumplings in Walnut Cream and a Crispy Sesame Dumpling with Red Bean Paste for dessert . The pice tag? HK$1,588 per person at the Intercontinental Hong Kong Hotel’s Yan Toh Heen. There are also several other set menus available such as the “Fat Choy” menu  at HK$988 per person from 3 to 19 Feb and two Auspicious Spring Menus at HK$10,888 and HK$13,888 available from 1 to 28 February respectively.
The thing that I find in Hong Kong but hardly in Singapore are the sublime Puddings which I find rather hard to resist.  Head to T’ang Court at The Langham Hotel, Hong Kong(T:852 23751133 ext 2250) from now till 2 February where there are three delicious homemade puddings for 2011: the New Year Pudding, Turnip Pudding and Taro Puddingat HK$138 per box.
The Ming Court at Langham Place Hotel in Mongkok T: +852 3552 3300 also serves up Chinese New Year puddings with ingredients like pork, cheese and trufflesTry the stir-fried Golden pudding with diced wagyu beef in chocolate sauce at HK$288 and the baked Shanghainese pudding with pumpkin, cheese and black truffle at HK$168.
Learn to make your own Pudding? Yes you can! Master Chef Lau Yiu Fai and his team at Yan Toh Heen will show you how to make a Savoury Kagoshima Daikon Pudding and Peanut and Sesame Dumplings on Sunday, 30 January from 10.30am to 1pm at the Yan Toh Heen Private Dining Room at HK$688 per person. Take home gifts include a Savoury Kagoshima Daikon Pudding, traditional Peanut and Sesame Dumplings, Yan Toh Heen Homemade X.O. Chili Sauce and a Yan Toh Heen apron. Call the Hot Line at  Tel: +852 2313 2323
How about having bubbly with everything?
The Chefs at One Harbour Road (8/F Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Hong Kong. T: +852 2584 7722) are serving up three premium Krug champagnes all through January including the Krug Grande Cuvee N.V, Krug Vintage 1998 and Krug Rose with a specially paired Chinese menu of Steamed Egg White with Crab Meat and Wolfberry Seeds, Simmered Fillet of Garoupa with Superior Fish Soup, Wok-fried King Prawns with Black Fungus, Stir-fried Diced Pigeon with Bamboo Shoots, Preserved Vegetables and Pine Nuts and Stewed Northern Rice with Baby Abalone in Stone Nest. Dessert is a Flambe of Pear with Red dates and Cointreau Butter served with Almond Sherbet at HK$900 per person.
If you are on the Kowloon end watching the Fireworks, then book a table at Loong Toh Yuen (The Hullet House, T: +852 3988 0107). They are serving a glass of champagne with their Fireworks 8 Course set dinner menu at HK$1,188 per person (on 4 Feb) that  includes Steamed Fresh Garoupa with Chinese Wine “Fa Dew”, Braised Whole Abalone and Duck Feet with seasonal vegetables, Crispy Chicken with Black Truffle, to name a few.  Seasonal and Lunar New Year specialties are available from 1 to 28 February.
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Friday, 21 January 2011

Besotted – Drop Dead Gorgeousness at Six Senses Con Dao Resort!

Oh, chihuahua!! What a drop-dead, over-the-moon, gorgeous beach! Don’t we just have to pack our bags and shuffle there as quickly as our flat feet can take us?!

Drink in the view, girls! This is the Six Senses Con Dao resort in Vietnam which was just opened just last month. Huh? Where? Con Dao is part of a cluster of 16 islands 100-odd miles off the south east coast of mainland Vietnam about an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City. It’s the only five star resort in the archipelago so if you’re going out to embrace nature here, this is the only place to stay.

Check into one of their 50 villa, laze on the mile-long stretch of pristine beach, go to the spa, swim at the pool and eat at their three restaurants including one serving local Vietnamese food. The archipelago is 80% a national park which includes a marine reserve, so go explore Mother Nature and see hawksbill turtles, dugongs, black haired goats, wild pigs and macaques. For sea activities, ride on the Vietnamese, round ‘basket’ boats, snorkeling around the best coral reef in Vietnam, take boat rides to other islands Turtle, Bird and best of all, wait for cocktails served by waiters on beach bikes. Cool!

If you're planning to potter off for CNY, they are offering a promo package. Three nights start from US$1550 per villa, and five nights from US$2550 for Ocean Front Villa. This includes brekkie for two. Kids are 6 eat for free while those 12 and under are charged $15. This package is available from now til end February 2011.  

Tel : +84 64 3831 222

E-mail :
- Ee Waun
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Babies - Is there such a thing as a Mother Superior? AMY CHUA in person!

If you have been following the latest discussions on WSJ on Amy Chua's style of parenting then you will love this one.  Watch Amy Chua on CNN

The 'Tiger' Mum shares her views in person. In our humble opinion, there is one logical conclusion, for sure .. and that is that Chinese or not, she is definitely pretty good at selling books. LOL and enjoy! 

- Elaine

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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

By The Way - One-Of-A-Kind Stores in Hong Kong!

Here's the real deal on Retail Therapy and interesting (read 'quirky') Retail formats in Hong Kong.  

BACKSEAT SHOPPING - We hopped into a cab last week in Hong Kong and the friendly driver (and Hong Kong Taxi Drivers are rarely friendly) tried to sell us these. I guess, like the rest of space starved Hong Kong, he was fully maximising whatever selling space he had, even if it was behind his back (LOL). Can't blame the guy for trying!

BROLLY VENDING MACHINE- How about this one below - I wanted a drink at the MTR station in one of the Malls so I approached the vending machine and got an umbrella instead at HK$68. 

BOX STORE - Then there was this one (below) - people who want to sell small stuff but have no space can rent a box space in someone's store on someone's shelf. How's that for sizing down on the psf rental. 

Or this one - the STORE ON WHEELS. No longer just for ice cream, optometrists, bloodbanks and dental clinics... now the commercial folk, think Wedding Photography studios, Bridal gown shops and Skin care brands alike have been driving themselves to high traffic locations all about Hong Kong. Now that's what I call ... reaching the customer! 

- Elaine
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By The Way - Yum Seng Gifts for the Taipan!

So you want to get your top client or Boss, a status gift ... fit for an Emperor ...

Chivas Regal is no longer the "ah pek's" choice. Unveiled this week, the brand has a new design called The Chivas Regal 18 Limited Edition that ropes in iconic French fashion designer Christian Lacroix. The design which features a the whisky packaged in a luxurious gold stamped brocade box mirrors the rich, indulgent taste of the brand's whisky. Available in Hong Kong at Voila and City Super for HK$5,400. Only 30 bottles are reserved for the connoisseurs in Hong Kong, while 3,000 limited quantity offered in worldwide.

If he is a cigar afficianado, then perhaps Martell would do nicely as they have just launched a Cohiba cognac which comes in an elegant bottle with a silk screen print of a typical Cuban tobacco field landscape. The wooden box is open in front, and features a carousel that allows the design and artwork to be viewed in its entirety.  The cognac itself has a distinct character with an opening sensation that is rounded, smooth and almost sweet and a taste that leads into subtlety and finesse of the old Grande Champagne region. A touch of liquorice with a slight nutty note are found in the long and gentle finish. Available at HK$5,000 at Voila and major liquor stores in January, 2011.

- Elaine
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Monday, 17 January 2011

Binge – Chinese New Year Takeaways, Poon Choy and the Return of the Rabbit

Szechuan Court's Lucky Bunny Yu Sheng - too cute to eat!

Are we frantically working out ahead of the Lunar New Year feast-fest? I am, but perhaps to little avail, and I see myself hurtling into a whirl of intensive eating, snacking and drinking come 2 Feb when the Reunion Dinner is served, marking the Chinese New Year, and the Return of the Rabbit.

This year has added significance for me ‘cos my daughter has reached her first full cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Yup, she’s a bunny baby, and it’s been 12 years since I had her. So on that note, I am quite prepared to celebrate a little harder this Chinese New Year with even more goodies.

At the same time, the onslaught of CNY always presents the issue of getting all the CNY gifts – or ‘nian huo’ – for family and friends, particularly aunties. Every year, being the filial niece, I potter out to pick up all manner of traditional food gifts which I think the aunts would appreciate – dried longans, bak kwa, dried scallops, eight treasure tea, dried shitake mushrooms, waxed meats…yes, the usual traditional items. But that is pretty time consuming and this year, I've decided to make life easier and buy each a single gift from the swanky takeaway counters and be done with it.

Don't you just wanna take them dinky things home?
These lucky lavender koi nian gao are from Szechuan Court, too.

And while we’re talking about making life easier, I have finally seen the light and appreciate poon choy. My rather cynical mother had commented before that this huge vat packed tightly with braised foods seemed a little vulgar and crude and it never featured at her table. But when I ate it not too long ago, it dawned on me – okay, rather belatedly, but the scales took time to fall from my eyes – that cooked well, it is very indulgent in its richness. All you really need was one huge vat to feed a dozen hungry guests, add in a large yu sheng for fortune and fibre, a nice nian gao for dessert and you have all the essentials for a CNY feast.

So on that varied and wandering note, here’s what caught my eye for CNY goodies around town.

Szechuan Court's poon choy with a bunny that's not that lucky. It just got eaten!

The Fairmont Singapore can always be trusted to dish out novel yu sheng dishes. This year, its ‘Lucky Rabbit’ yu sheng (top) is, like my daughter said, too cute to eat. The white radish forms the shape of a bunny, and features beetroot and pomegranate. If you can stomach eating the luckiest animal in the zodiac, Szechuan Court is serving up a Spicy Sichuan Soup Pot with 18 Treasures and rabbit meat (from $198; above). Apart from eating the golden goose – or shall I say, the golden rabbit – the dish also serves up house-smoked abalone, beef tendon, fish belly, fish fillets, fish maw, fish cartilage, shredded fish lips, dried scallops, clam topshell, oysters, meatballs. I say, give me everything, just hold the bunny. If you want something really pretty for a gift, pick up their lavender-infused nian gao ($8 each) which also sports a sprinkling of coconut. See the lovely fishes? Aren't they just irresistible?!  

Available 17 Jan - 17 Feb
Tel: +65 6431 6156 or email:

Chef Hiew's unusual take on nian gao was inspired by a favourite
snack of one of China's famous Sung sisters.  

If I were having the Reunion Dinner out, I’d make a reservation at Mandarin Oriental Singapore’s Cherry Garden. The classy restaurant is always so refined and its relatively small capacity keeps it intimate and elegant. Plus of course, the fact that it’s Chinese chef Hiew Gun Khong is very creative and talented. On the CNY menus, must have’s are the yu sheng with salmon and crispy fish skin, wok-fried spare ribs with mandarin orange and chocolate sauce, mini Buddha Jumps Over the Wall with cordyceps, and whole five-head abalone in traditional style, and end with snowskin nian gao dumplings with macadamia nut and coconut crumbs or the black glutinous rice with coconut crunch ice and mango.

Cherry Garden's so refined Treasure Pot isn't too expensive, surprisingly! 

Set menus for a minimum of two persons begin at $118 per person, while set menus for a minimum of four persons are priced from $88 per pax – pretty good value compared to prices at fine western restaurants. Our internal sources reveal that many buy their reunion dinner in its entirety here, and bring it home. If you’re not planning to cook, make an order for the Cherry Garden Treasure Pot (S$238) featuring 13 ingredients, and the casserole-cooked jasmine rice with waxed meat and sausages (S$98). An intriguing gift is the Royal Steamed Red Bean and Nian Gao Layer Cake (S$26), Chef Hiew’s version of a favourite dessert of one of China’s famous Sung sisters.

Tel: 6885 3538 or e-mail

How cool and stylish can 'nian-huo' get?
This gold and black seasame nian gao from Mandarin Court
is as gorgeous as it is yummilicious.

You’ll find some unusual nian gao at Mandarin Orchard’s Chinese restaurant Mandarin Court this year, in particular Chef Sunny Kong’s brow-raising bak kwa nian gao ($38,80) which is an odd combination of sweet and savoury, and which proved a hit and miss. You either like it or loathe it. What was really good though in looks and taste were the black sesame nian gao (above), a controversial black, smooth confection with gold flakes and rich with the flavour of nutty black sesame, and the fragrant green tea and osmanthus nian gao ($33), all sweet and delicate.

The new chef has also rolled out a really fabulous poon choy. For $338, you get the Fortune Pot (left)  packed with 20 delectably braised ‘treasures’ – fish maw, baby abalone, sea cucumber, prawns, clams, goose web, roast duck, etc. At $468, you get a poon choy with five-head abalone. Both serve up to 8 people and all these items are available for takeaway too.

Tel: 6831 6320

- Ee Waun
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Friday, 14 January 2011

Breakaway - Fantastic Feasts in Thailand

Yesterday. the Hubs asked me what I wanted for my upcoming birthday. Nothing came to mind, really. No material object, at least, like a watch or bag or book….not even – horrors! – a spot of bling! I find that as the years go by, what I’d rather pull out all the stops on are experiences rather than material things; I’m happier spending on a luxury holiday (the only way to travel!), exquisite meals, a party with close friends and family. If I could spare the time, I’d travel to eat as well – short little getaways in Asia to experience great food, like these which I would jump on a plane right now for!

First thing I wanna experience is the Treepod Dining at the Thai resort of Soneva Kiri by Six Senses, in Koh Kood on the east coast of Thailand. Eating in comfort up in the canopy of the trees, this definitely ranks high up on my list of dinners with a difference! You first get into the rattan ‘bird’s nest’ at the bottom of the tree and as you settle into the deep cushions, the pod, with you and your guests, is slowly hoisted up the 16 feet into the native massang trees, opening up a view of the sea and rocky shore below. Dinner is served by your host, Khun Lek, who gets to you via a zip line, and is always on hand whenever you need to add to your order. Lunch and breakfast can be served here too, but one can imagine how absolutely gorgeous a sunset dinner in candlelight there can be. Plans are afoot to enable guests to travel by zip line to the pod as well.

Tel: +66 (0) 2631 9777

At luxe resort, Napasai in Koh Samui, six chefs from as many regional Orient-Express hotels and resorts are getting together between 23-25 February for a three-day gastronomic event in support for charity. Serving up their interpretation of regional cuisines are Napasai’s French Executive Chef Gilles Galli, Alexis Voisin of La Residence d'Angkor, Cambodia; Nicolas Reynard of La Residence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang, Laos; Iain Murray of The Governor's Residence, Yangon, Myanmar; Bansani Nawisamphan of Ubud Hanging Gardens, Ubud, Bali; and Michele Greggio of Jimbaran Puri Bali, Bali.

The programme starts on 23 Feb with a five-course dinner of Asian specialties by the chefs, followed by one of the most diverse South-East Asian buffets ever served in Koh Samui, and ends with a gala dinner on the final evening. Prices of these events are surprisingly inexpensive – from US$37 for dinner, and US$56 for the gala dinner! Profits go to Thailand's Foundation for Slum Child Care, under the Royal Patronage of HRH Princess Galyani. The Foundation supports almost 2,000 disadvantaged children through daycare centres, homes and community outreach to slum babies and infants. A three night stay at Napasai in a Seaview Villa starts from approximately US$406 per villa per night, including tax and daily breakfast for two.

Tel: 66 7742 9200

Over in the capital, two-Michelin star Chef Koji Shimomura of French restaurant, Édition Koji Shimomura is coming to The Sukothai Bangkok from 9-12 March to spread some culinary love. He’s known for sophisticated, modern and light French cuisine, which combines a little Japanese philosophy. It promises to be a really unique experience, as his menu – if any – doesn’t list any dishes. He picks the best ingredients he comes across each day, and customizes it for every diner, so you’ll end up with different dishes for each person across the restaurants. This is the specialised form of 'haute couture cuisine' he is known for. Fun, huh? His signature dish is ‘matodai fritter’. Light, crispy Kadaif, a fine spaghetti-like pastry, is used as a coating for the fritter, with broccoli cream and lemon jam underneath. Reservations essential!

Tel: 66 (0) 2344 8888

- Ee Waun

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Monday, 10 January 2011

Beauty - OPI's Funky New Nail Colours

Badly needed one super sleek ultra-pampering manicure and pedicure for the New Year? Before you go to the salon, drop by Watsons in Hong Kong or Singapore and pick up Nicole by OPI, the range of hottest and funkiest nail colours to hit the shelves.
Free of DBP, Toluene, and Formaldehyde, the brand stays green by using only recyclable glass packaging in their nail polish bottles. Check out  over 85 nail sticks and lacquers with funky and daring names such as ‘Indigo-go!’, ‘Carpool Mama’, ‘Stolen Kisses’, ‘Ink a Dink Pink’ and ‘Razzle Dazzler’. Opt for Nicole by OPI nail sticks for quick touch-ups on-the-go, with colours packaged in handy nail polish pens.
Your star struck tween will be happy to know that Justin Bieber has collaborated to design a new collection of nail polishes, the Justin Bieber ‘One Less Lonely Girl’collection which will come in dark blue, bright red and lavender, among other shades. Recommendations include ‘One Less Lonely Glitter’, ‘Make U Smile’, ‘I’ve Got Bieber Fever’ and ‘Eenie Meanie Marry Me’. To think that Justin Bieber knows anything about  nail polish except for the colour green, really goes past me …!
- Elaine
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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Start The Year With A Treat

The year has started and it’s back to the grind after two weeks of partying, feasting and hopefully, some thoughtful reflection. So I suggest we start the year with a treat. There is a strong case for this. One – we deserve a reward for working towards world peace and familial harmony last year; and two – we’ll be working hard again this year putting all the resolutions we’ve planned into motion, grooming our nest, nurturing quality children and bringing home our share of the bacon. With so much on our plates, what better way than to start 2011 on a motivating note! We should….

Go shopping in Hong Kong!

A weekend would be perfect! Elaine will vouch for the high quality of retail therapy available there. And while there, you might as well take advantage of Metropark Hotel Wanchai Hong Kong’s newly launched Ladies Only Floor, called ‘She by Metropark’ (pictured above and top). So it’s not super duper luxe, but it is very comfy and pretty, with all the comforts particularly catered to the girls. Pretty, feminine rooms come with pillow menu, feminine accessories and design, complimentary broadband internet access and spa toiletries by THANN. Without a doubt, such a floor also gives women travellers a greater level of security. What’s best though is its great location smack bang in the heart of the city, near shops like Pacific Place, and foodie hubs like Lan Kwai Fong. To mark its launch, the hotel is offering an introductory package of HK$900 per room per night, excluding a 10% service charge, and late check-out at 3pm.

41-49 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel:+852 2863-7399

Buy A Ring
Friendship ring, engagement ring, wedding ring, eternity ring…these little trinkets have a way of marking time, don’t they? So why not buy yourself a new year bling? I have been buying one for myself every year for the last few years already, and it’s a fun way to remember the passing time….especially when they are fun, whimsical pieces. It was a ladybird and flower pendant with black diamonds in 2009, an onyx and diamond lizard in 2010, wonder what it’ll be this year? If I had to choose one now, it’ll be a funky, edgy stud ring from GoldHeart. Not exactly Cartier, but I just love how easy these are to buy….! Only S$868.

Goldheart Boutiques islandwide in Singapore

Toast The Year
Before things heat up and get you too busy, catch up with old friends and toast the year. Two great places for sundowners, especially when the weather is still cool and breezy here, are Octapas Spanish Tapas Bar and Tomo Izakaya, two great watering holes with gourmet nibbles in Clarke Quay.

I like that Octapas is just by the riverside where you can while away a leisurely evening, grazing, drinking and talking. Run by the people who used to do Tapas Tree, it offers a good range of sangria and Spanish tapas. I like their traditional red wine based sangria (S$14 ) better than the white wine version with apple juice. You must have the grilled squid with balsamic vinegar reduction ($15.50), beef tenderloin ($17) comprising cubes of grilled tender, flavourful meat, and paella marisco which, though a little soft, is pretty pleasant with their richly braised vegetables. Reservations only up til 7pm weekdays.

From Spain to Japan, Tomo Izakaya, round the corner, offers a good range of sake (ask for the sparkling variety) and light Japanese eats, enough of which can make a meal. What I really liked was the kobacha ni, simmered pumpkin which though simple, was excellent; hijiki and simmered soybean salad ($9, above), Nasu Agebitashi or deepfried eggplant with soup stock and Ginger (S$7.30) and ebiten tama chazuke, a porridge with deep fried prawns($9.50).

Octapas Spanish Tapas Bar - Blk D #01-08 Clarke Quay Tel: 68372938
Tomo Izakaya - Blk 3A #01-04 Clarke Quay Tel: 6333 0100

Drink Good Coffee
Everybody’s raving about it, sipping it and buying it. Even though I have a Jura at home, I will admit Nespresso does a mean caffeine kick. Since our calorie intake is limited, don’t waste it on imbibing anything less than the best you can buy and get one of these sleek machines onto your kitchen counter. It’s latest models are the retro-stylish Nespresso CitiZ Metal, automatic single-headed espresso machine (S$598, left) and the Nespresso CitiZ and Milk Metal with built-in milk frother (S$728). It’s a great way to start off the remaining 359 mornings of 2011, no?

- Ee Waun

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