dal.komm and Descendants of the Sun (DOTS)Lands in Singapore!

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You met your Oppa, Unni, Hyung and Noona on screen there. You have friends who had been there and shared their pictures on Facebook, Instagram, SNS, LINE, Kakao Talk etc. You passed by there when you were in South Korea for holiday. Or, you had even been there in person.

I done all of the above, except been there myself in South Korea, sipping iced coffee and look out for my fave unni. In fact, the only one I been was at Kuala Lumpur during business trips in the past.

Fret not! dal.komm had landed in Singapore! Smack right at  the very front corner of The Centrepoint, you cant miss it.

cymera_20161208_094844cymera_20161208_095014cymera_20161208_100800I was the first customer this morning (early bird catches the best seats, best views, take the best pics bla bla bla). Warmly greeted by the barista, I ordered the signature Cube – I ordered Espresso, as well as an Earl Grey cheesecake.

cymera_20161208_100140cymera_20161208_095940cymera_20161208_100039cymera_20161208_100123While waiting for the barista to prepare my order, I proceeded to snap pictures around. The area is big, 3,000 square feet! Sparsely spaced, there is room for everyone. The cool part is the section for Open Mic (you see a lot of speakers), as well as a hidden section towards the back (come and find it yourself!) Currently, the hidden section has a Xmas decoration theme, so don’t miss it!

cymera_20161208_110918cymera_20161208_110849cymera_20161208_100021cymera_20161208_095956The wall decorations are nice, and have different feel at different places, depends on where you sit.

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cymera_20161208_094942Of course, who can resist taking pictures with the plushies? They have big and small plushies on sale. Now, who are these plushies? I am sure if you had watched Korean drama ‘Descendants of the Sun’ (DOTS),  you know what I am talking about…

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The food selection wise is small for now, which I am sure they will increase in time to come.

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The signature Cube (Espresso), is nice and refreshing. I had a similar espresso cube experience in Bangkok at Roast. The only difference is the dal.komm edition is lighter, without the espresso bitterness. I guess this is due to they use K1 for the espresso.

For their coffee. they have different grading for their Arabica coffee, K1 being the mild verison, K3 the full body version.

cymera_20161208_100723cymera_20161208_100736The Earl Grey cheesecake was rather unusual. Porcelain white, with black dots, served on an equally porcelain white square tile,  one may mistaken this for a black sesame cheesecake. Taste wise, you will taste hints of earl grey, a tint of saltiness and sourness.

Looks like I will have to make another trip back here again to savor other drinks and the interesting Cherry Tomato Bingsu.

This café is worth to go, for something different from your usual coffee chains such as Starbucks. Expect to pay a bit more though.

dal.komm COFFEE

176 Orchard Road #01-01/06 and #01-102/103

The Centrepoint, Singapore 238843

Opening Hours:-

10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

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Journey to DJournal – My First Coffee Journey in Indonesia

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I had been drinking coffee since I was 10. I grew up drinking the ‘sock brew’ at the traditional coffee shops in Singapore and Malaysia, then the typical 3 in 1 coffee from virtually anywhere when I travel for holiday or work. To my recent years, more types of brewing methodologies were coming in to Singapore, and I studied them, from French press to Aeropress to V60 to Syphon to Chemex.

I had heard much about awesome coffee in Indonesia. From the exotic Luwak coffee almost every Indonesian I meet tells me to try at least once a lifetime, to other coffee variants  like Gayo coffee from Aceh, Toraja coffee from Sulawesi to Mandheling coffee from Sumatra.

And there was one i missed out. I didn’t know it existed till I stumbled upon a cafe in Jakarta.

I was on business trip to Jarkata for 2 days. Most of my client meetings were in Plaza Indonesia and Grand Indonesia Mall, so I had the luxury of time and venue within various cafes on both sides.

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Djournal. An interesting name. What haven’t I come across this one before, not to mention if this is a hidden cafe none of my Indonesian pals asked me to visit?

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Anyway, I cannot resist a last cuppa brew before I headed to the mad traffic to the airport.

So…. the missing piece to the puzzle is Papua coffee, also known as Wamena coffee. What makes Wamena coffee so special, that it was coined as the ‘prima-donna of coffee’ among coffee lovers, was the area where it was cultivated. Grown on Baliem Valley, an area in Jayawijaya mountain with a 1,600 metres height above the sea level an a cooling temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. The result – a light bodied coffee with delicious strong scent, and low in acidity.

Another interesting characteristic about Wamena coffee is that the coffee plants has to be grown shaded by surrounding shade trees, such as Laliandara, Abizia and Erytrhina. Best of all, this coffee species grows in natural environments, hence 100% organic.

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Back to Djournal. Pretty impressed by the cool decor, and the scent of fresh coffee brewing, I lined up to order my fresh brew. Since Wamena was the one I craved for, I ordered it, brewed and filtered via pour over method.

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Tasting verdict – A smooth cup of coffee,  light bodied, mild bitterness as well as hints of fruity notes.

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As I only have time to have a cuppa brew, I bought a pack of Toraja beans back home to brew. Will tell you more after I sampled it.

Djournal Coffee

Grand Indonesia, Grand Indonesia Shopping Town West Mall Ground Floor, Lobby Pandawa M.H NO 1, JL.M.H Tharmin, Kebon Melati, Central Jarkata CIty, Special Capital Region of Jarkata 10310, Indonesia

Starbucks 1st Branch in Singapore Celebrates 20th Birthday!

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Starbucks Liat Tower celebrates her 20th birthday today. This is the very first Starbucks branch in Singapore, opened on 14 December 1996.

I was there this morning, joining the queue to see whats the buzz.

Was ushered to queue to get a personalised reusable Starbucks Cup. I was told that only 2,000 personalised cups will be drawn, so make sure you join the queue quick today!

 

Also, I was given a big portion of the Starbucks birthday cake and samples on Teavana mocktail made on the spot.

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Kiss92 DJs Desiree Lai, Charmaine Yee, and Loretta Lopez, will be broadcasting LIVE, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

Don’t miss these activities as well

  • Sip on Singapore-inspired Frappuccinos* specially created for the day
  • Leave your well-wishes or  Starbucks memories on the store wall
  • Capture Instagram-worthy pictures and pick up your insta-print simply by tagging #StarbucksSG #sbsg20

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Artists at work…

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Look! My personalised cup done by the artists!

Starbucks Liat Towers

541 Orchard Road, #01-01A Liat Towers, B1-01 Wheelock Place, 238881

The event is from 11 a.m to 8 p.m. today!

 

 

Japan Rail Café – Savor the Taste of Japan, Retail and JR Pass Ticketing

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When one thinks of Japan Rail, one will think of Shinkansen, which one may have seen in Japanese dramas or movies. Or just something everyone knows as a ‘Bullet Train.’

Now, if I were to tell you, you need not head all the way to Japan to buy the train tickets when you are having your holidays, not knowing which train or the Japanese language barrier to go to your holiday destination, and you can get them right in Singapore, will you be happier? If I were to tell you, you need not head to Japan or envy your friends travelling there to buy some nice yummy food, souvenirs, and get to savor ‘Western Japanese cuisine’ using the finest seasonal ingredients, will you be thrilled?

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Enter Japan Rail Café, a one stop shop where you can get all JR Rail tickets to all JR lines (JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR West, JR Central, JR Shikoku and JR Kyushu), as well as Japan Sim card, retail (‘Eki Naka’ which means ‘in station shopping’, savor freshly baked pastries from Asanoya Bakery, and the main draw, the café.

This is the first overseas café opened by East Japan Railway Co., with an eye of setting up more of such cafes in Southeast Asia such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur in the near future.

It is very convenient to get to Japan Rail Café, which is located at the newly opened Tanjong Pagar Centre, right on top of the MRT station.

Sunday was the soft opening, but I went to find out more on Tuesday instead.

I was there at 11.30 a.m. Went to the entrance of the JR Rail pass and retail section to have a look. I was warmly greeted by the staff at the retail shop. It is not a very big shop, but you can find many interesting items such as seasonal foods, snacks, drinks, clothing, handkerchiefs, and handmade bags.

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One of the staff, Ray (a kawaii Japanese lady) introduced some of the unique seasonal produce from Aomori. Apple pickle, apple stick snacks, interesting pasta such as ‘Jellyfish Dream Pasta’ (real jellyfish is the main ingredient), Snow Flake Pasta (snowflake shaped), pasta sauce and others.

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Also, a special section on Noriyo Ozawa’s Basket Selection, where the baskets are all hand made with wild grape wine and bamboo. The baskets remind me of my grandparents time, the rattan style baskets. Pretty vintage stuff.

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What attracts me most is the selection of Japanese handkerchiefs; a myriad of colors, shapes and designs which will make you want to by one for yourself or your loved ones. There are couple of gift set handkerchiefs for sale as well.

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As Japan Rail Café is newly opened (soft opening on 4th Dec), the menu selection is limited for now, and the ingredients used are from Tohoku region, which is the north eastern part of Honshu. The six prefectures under Tohoku are Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata.

NOTE: For December 2016, the café is only opened from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., serving 30 diners max daily.

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At 11.50 am., I was told to queue to get a seat for lunch at the café. I was the second customer, so I need not wait long before I was ushered to a table. I was given a hand phone strap souvenir with Tohoku Japan labelled on it. Quite an interesting souvenir.

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The menu itself was designed like a newspaper, with information about Tohoku and the menu selection. For now, the main menu is limited to 3 types, Watashino Curry Rice + Drink, Kaisen Avocado Don + Drink and Beauty Salad + Drink.

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I chose Watashino Curry Rice + Drink. For now, there is a choice of any drink that goes with the set lunch, I chose Uji-Maccha Latte.

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Uji-Maccha Latte came first, and I took a sip. It was refreshing, without too much of the ‘thickness’ of the usual maccha drink. It taste a bit like the Thai styled milk green tea; only much better.

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My main course arrived. I had chosen fried oysters and Aomori scallops. I was expecting the usual Japanese curry rice flavor, but how wrong I was! The curry sauce wasn’t that sweet as the normal Japanese sweet curry, with hints of fruit,  in the curry. Also, there was minced meat, which I verified with the waiter as minced beef. 4 fried oysters and 4 Aomori scallops were placed on top of the rice, accompanied by salad.

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The fried oysters were very well breaded. Fried on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside.

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The stir-fried butter scallops were delightful, not too chewy, and very tender. By the way, Aomori is renowned for their great seafood, produce, especially scallops.

It was overall a very enjoyable experience at Japan Rail Café, and I will want to come back to savor their other dishes in time to come!

Japan Rail Café

5 Wallich Street, #01-20/21 Tanjong pagar Centre

Singapore 078883

Opening hours:

Mon to Sat (11 a.m. to 9 p.m.)

Sun (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gem -the twenty cavan (T20C) Not your usual fusion restaurant

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Thursday night. Had my monthly dinner gathering with ex colleagues at Lavender area. I was there earlier, so I went for a walk while waiting for the gang to arrive. Partially in mind looking for a new food exploration venue on Sunday,  I came across this restaurant/bistro bar on Cavan Road.

Looks interesting. Smack right on the ground floor of Hiap Huat Kee Pte Ltd, a small restaurant/bistro bar was found. At an unconventional location which is not really near the main road where most of the popular cafes and eateries are found, it is a hidden gem waiting to be polished.  Recee done. Suggested this place, and was given the nod of approval by partner in crime, Miss Korea.

Sunday. Drove to the area, and parked right outside Jalan Besar Stadium. A short walk to Cavan Road, and we were there.

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Miss Korea was amazed there was a restaurant hidden here. Red Steak Smokehouse on the other side of Cavan Road was packed. However, the.twenty.cavan. was empty when we walked in! Both of us were caught off guard as I expected it to be crowded, especially when we were there at 1.30p.m.

Anyway, the waitress welcomed us, and allowed us to choose any table. Since the whole place was empty, we could sit anywhere. We picked a table near the entrance, where there was ample light from outside and inside.cymera_20161127_131412

The menu was just 2 pages long; one for the drinks section, the other for food.  After 5 minutes, we ordered a starter dish, which comprises of 3 items. We chose Quad Seafood, Deep Fried Softshell Crab and Mushroom. For the main course, we ordered Stir Fried Pork Belly with Blueberry Sauce.

While waiting for the food to arrive, we had a look at the ambience and decorations. The wall of lights on a ‘incomplete, rustic and unfurnished’ brickwall was the key attraction. We cannot resist touching the wall and took pictures of the decoration. Also, rather than the western music played in this fusion restaurant setting, Chinese pop music was played. A bit unusual for Singapore context.

Starters arrived. Viola! A long rectangle granite platter of food was served to our table, and we were amazed by the food presentation. If the waitress had not told us which is the mushroom, or the deep fried soft shell crab, we could have mistaken vice versa from first look!

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Seafood Quad is easy to identify; with ample sized scallops, prawns, top-shell, baby octupus and jellyfish served in hot bean sauce.The seafood tasted fresh and not too tough for chewing, pretty well prepared.

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Deep fried soft shell crab is in the middle, chopped into chunks, which looked more like smaller pieces of fish and chips. The chicken floss, which is used as the topping, is curry flavored. Very unique taste without being too overpowering. A splash of curry mayo tasting sauce is spotted as well.

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The surprise one is the mushroom on skewers, which you can’t see the mushroom. Chopped chunks of mushroom, bell pepper were skewered and deep fried on a ball of batter, served with Chinese hot sauce, which makes the dish look like fried fish on skewers. Taste wise, it is pretty normal though.

Next up was the main course, Stir Fried Pork Belly with Blueberry Sauce. An eye opener.  The pork belly  (served with the likes of sweet and sour pork) took centre stage, accompanied by fresh blueberry, cous cous, served with tossed sesame, wolfberries and blueberry sauce. I pretty much liked this dish, though Miss Korea complained there is a little pork smell, which I did sense a bit.

Overall, I feel this dish can be improved, by serving a full piece of pork belly, rather than sweet and sour pork pieces, which is misleading.

We were too full for desserts, but I guess I will be back again soon for desserts and beer!

The address of the twenty cavan:-

20 Cavan Road

Singapore 209851

Opening Hours:-

11 a.m to 11 p.m. daily, except Mondays

 

 

 

 

Will you be a herbivore after visiting this restaurant?

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An ex-colleague, Kieran, whom I worked at the cable network with a couple of years back, called me last week and told me that he was clearing leave and would like to bring me to a nice vegetarian restaurant. Previously, we had food explorations to many vegetarian places across Singapore from the vegetarian restaurants in Coronation Plaza to Buddha Relic Temple…. What’s next?

Met up and walked to Fortune Centre, a place renowned for many vegetarian food places in the building. Kieran led the way and we stopped in front of a Japanese looking restaurant. “Japanese Vegetarian?” I asked. “Yes, something different”, he replied.

Cool! Japanese vegetarian cuisine didn’t exist in my culinary dictionary… till today.

We were welcomed in by a waitress and led to a table. Next, Kieran started scanning the menu from the IPad, and ordered 4 dishes in lightning speed as well hot fragrant Osmanthus tea.

First up, came the Baked Cheese Shiitake. On a long white platter, came 6 big, succulent juicy shiitake mushrooms, topped with melted cheese, teriyaki and ketchup sauce.

Taste –  When I bit into the shiitake mushroom, the essence and juiciness of the shiitake mushroom came bursting out with a myriad of flavors, which I will describe as wonderful and well balanced. I will recommend this dish, even to people who do not like mushrooms.

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Next, a simple dish of Stir Fried Asparagus. Simplicity at its best. Chopped asparagus, carrots, yellow and red bell peppers in thin strips and mushrooms. No garlic or onion in this dish! Usually diced garlic or onion will be the first to be cooked before adding other vegetables. But that will usually leave a strong aftertaste.

Taste – This dish is refreshing, succulent and crunchy. A must have for vegetable lovers.

The third dish arrived in no time. Bacon Sushi Roll. In normal sushi context, Japanese rice rolls will be wrapped by seaweed, vice versa.  For this dish, mock bacon was the hero. Also to note, the sushi rolls are stacked in layers of 2, rather than the usual way, The fillings were unique as well; for the head, its asparagus and strips of carrots, the body each topped with wakame strips, served with half a cherry tomato and a blob of vegetarian thousand island dressing. On the side is the usual shredded carrot, red ginger and wasabi.

Taste – it tasted just like a sushi roll, with crunchy vegetables and a refreshing crunch of wakame and cherry tomato. The mock bacon adds on with a nice flavor of saltiness, but not overpowering, An interesting dish to savour on, aside from the very ‘Zen’ looking granite stone presentation.

Lastly, how can one not have a sashimi dish? Sashimi? Vegetarian style? Yes, you heard it right. Sashimi Mori. 5 types of mock sashimi wonderfully created from Konnyaku (a Japanese food product made from yam). Sake (Salmon), Maguro (Tuna), Kajiki (Swordfish), Mirugai (Pacific Clam) and Ikura (Salmon Roe) were created for this mock sashimi dish.

Taste –  Taste almost exactly like the real fishes and roe you will expect from the real seafood. Dip with soy sauce and wasabi for taste to have the exact replication of the Japanese sashimi experience.

An interesting fact about Konnyaku – Konnyaku is a traditional Japanese jelly-like health food made from a kind of potato called “Konnyaku potato” and calcium hydroxide or oxide calcium extracted from eggshells. The Konnyaku potato is native to Indonesia and is a kind of herbaceous perennial plant called “Amorphophallus Konjac”(K. Koch). Konnyaku potatoes are cultivated for food only in Japan, but wild forms grow naturally in Southeast Asia and China.

Interesting fact about Konnyaku

Konntyaku was originally introduced to Japan as a medicine in the sixth Century and has been eaten for almost 1500 years. 97% of Konnyaku is water and 3% is Glucomannan, also known as dietary fibre.

Glucomannan is a dietary fibre and it is extremely difficult for humans to digest. Therefore, Konnyaku usually just goes through your body and sweeps your intestines. That is why it has been regarded as a no calorie food for a long time in Japan. Konnyaku does have calories, however, the calories would be so few in the normal quantities that they are negligible in number.

If you would like to try something different food (the usual stable of bee hoon, noodles, kuey teow, fried tofu skin, mock char siew, curry vegetables), this will be a unique dining experience to savour.

The address to this wonderful place: –

Herbivore Vegetarian Restaurant

190 Middle Road, #01-13/14, Fortune Centre

Singapore 188973

Opening Hours:

Mon to Fri – 1130 to 1500; 1700 to 2200

Sat and Sun – 1130 to 2200

Agaves are dangerous! My collection..

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My agave collection so far…… some are common, some are rare…. just an amateur collector looking to have more in time to come!

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Agave Leopoldii (Hybrid filifera) marginata Yellow variegated

Cute and spiky….. will be a magnificent specimen when this gets bigger.

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Agave Angustifolia

The big boy, tall, long leaves, sharp edges, handle with care! In adult form, this will be a ball full of spiky long leaves!

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Agave Americana var. marginata

Another cool looking monster that will wow you when it grows big…with the usual sharp edges as evident in most agaves.. a stunner. ^^

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Agave Victoria Reginae

A slow-growing and popular plant among collectors. Tough, compact and not overly spiky as compared to its counterparts. This version has longer leaves as compared to the usual species of the same family; a rare cultivation.

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Agave Pumila

The baby of  Agaves, super small, super slow-growing, a little fragile, but a joy to grow and look at. I had 5 baby offsets that were less than .05cm each in diameter, now they were almost 1 cm in diameter after tender care for 6 months, though losing one baby due to acclimatization. Pretty rare, but if you do get one of this… you will love it. ^^ An interesting fact is that no one has ever seen this species flower before…. hmmm….

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Agave Isthmensis ‘Ohi Raijin Fukuron Nishiki’

One of the super rare ones, a must for any collector. This plant is compact, with fat leaves and pointy edge. It is like an art piece that one will grow to appreciate in time to come. There are over 10 versions in this Agave isthmesis family, so happy finding and collecting!