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North Island, New Zealand Part II

So Part I was all about Lake Taupo, and Napier. Now the second part is about driving back from Napier to Auckland and stopping at Rotatua, spending a few days in Auckland and a few days in Bays of Island.

After Napier, we drove all the way to Auckland, it was about a 6 hour drive but we did stop in Roturua – we had originally going to stay overnight here but ‘The Mother’ decided against it and went straight to Napier. We sent to Polynesian Spa which I loved, however, Dragon, not so much! The water was WAY too hot for her and she said that it smelt like ‘poo poo’ LOL. We even got a private pool (only 30 mins) and we stayed at the Lake Spa for a bit. I would definitely have loved a massage, but ‘The Mother’ was eager to stop by a park (I can’t for the life remember the name) before Auckland. There were SO MUCH SPACE and GRASS!!!! LOVE!

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Where we stayed: a 4 bedroom house (found on air bnb by ‘The Mother’s aunt) which was nice and spacious. Only problem was the walls were so thin, we could hear a pin drop!

What we did: nothing much, we had a wedding at Abbeville Estate – it was a beautiful place for a wedding and Dragon again wore her favourite and BEST outfit for the day!

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What we ate – for breakfast we ate at home, and obviously a wonderful meal for the wedding and dim sum (yum cha) for the day after wedding. I did have a pretty good meal with one of my oldest and dearest friend in Auckland – Blue Breeze inn which serves a delicious Modern Chinese food.

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Chef Che Barrington is the chef behind Blue Breeze Inn and in 2011, he opened MooChowChow, Auckland’s first modern Thai restaurant. There were so many options on the menu. We started with the steamed bun of roasted pork belly and pickled cucumber (NZD10 each) – that crackle, it was sublime and the bun itself was soft and pillowy which was excellent.

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We also couldn’t go past the steamed bun of five-spiced tofu, kimchi, and coriander (NZD9 each) – I have to say, this was pretty good. I may have preferred this over the pork belly one and that says a lot!

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The bang bang chili chicken with black vinegar, sesame-chilli dressing (NZD18) was ‘bang bang’. The chili really gave it a nice kick! It was a little spicy for Dragon unfortunately but she definitely enjoyed my pork belly more.

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The beef unfortunately wasn’t as tender as I had hoped. It was a little on the tough side.

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For dessert, we ordered a couple of things to share. Mango, tapioca and lemon sorbet was refreshingly light and was a great palate cleanser!

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The taro dumplings were more on the heavier side but it’s not something I have eaten before. It was good but I definitely prefer the mango, tapioca and so did Dragon!

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Service was good and food was pretty good, especially the pork buns, shame about the beef though, as I was craving beef!

Before we left Auckland we had a quick lunch at Toru Café which is located in Ponsoby – I am really loving that area. It’s a little like Paddington, if you live in Sydney.

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‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the beef cheek, tomato, kasundi, carrot pie which was served with crinkle chips (NZD16.50) – oh how I fell in love with the crinkle chips! My my! It was crinkle potato chips, slightly fried, it was delicious. The pie itself wasn’t too bad either.

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I couldn’t go past the spiced chicken, halloumi, cous cous, raisin, harissa, date (NZD22.50) – I love cous cous, and not to mention squeaky cheese! Unfortunately Dragon wasn’t a huge fan of cous cous, nor the squeaky cheese, she did however, eat all my chicken.

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Service was polite and friendly, it’s a pretty cool little café, it was in the middle of a shopping arcade and was very relaxed. Food was good and everything on the menu sounded great! Those chips though – worth coming back for just a bowl of crinkle cut chips!

We were in Auckland for about 3 days, and then we drove up to Bays of Island. It was about a 2-3 hour drive, very scenic but lets be honest here, I spent most of it sleeping! Every opportunity I had, I was sleeping, I was SO TIRED and besides, cars and I – sleep! Who doesn’t? Come on?

Where we stayed: Waterfront Suite Paihia – Herritage Boutique Collection, 100 Marsden Road, Paihia, Bay of Islands, Paihia, New Zealand. We got the 2 bedroom apartments – don’t ask why but we definitely enjoyed the space! LOTS OF SPACE! And had a view of the ocean, which was beautiful!

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What we did: if it was summer or if Dragon was a little older, we could have gone swimming with the dolphins, go kayaking etc. But alas, our little Dragon is still 2.5 years old. We hung around town, there was a lovely grass area, and a piano where Dragon could not stop playing! I believe she has musical blood in her, just like her mama!

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What we ate:

We arrived early afternoon, and thought we would have an early dinner at Alongside which is situated over the water in the stunning bay of islands. It’s a very laid back place, very casual, we sat there drinking and eating whilst watching the sunset. It was a tad cold but it was still quite pleasant.

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I couldn’t go past the braised beef croquette – 4 generous size croquette with lots and lots of beef. The outside was slightly burnt but the inside, my my my… it was absolutely amazing!

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‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the soft shell fish tacos with our local catch, apple and mango salsa. He demolished this before I could even take a photo of it.

We also ordered a side of chunky street fries with rosemary salt and smoked aioli – they were demolished by the three of us! So good!

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They even had a kids menu for Dragon. Not pictured but for NZD10 – a bowl of Bolognese pasta and juice. She loves pasta so had no problems demolishing it.

It is really a nice way to spend the afternoon / evening. I can envisage many Sunday lazy afternoons sitting here, drinking and catching up with friends. It was really a very nice and pleasant area.

The next morning we had breakfast at Upper Deck, which was next door to our apartment. I ordered the big breakfast to share with Dragon – 2 fried eggs, bacon, sausage, mushroom and hash browns which was served with some brown toast. Pretty large serving, Dragon isn’t really a toast kind of girl for breakfast, she usually eats rice and leftovers for dinner. She loved the sausage and mushroom though, the toast she thought was a little hard.

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‘The Mother’ had something more simple – he was a little over big breakfasts (HOW COULD HE?) and opt for muesli, yogurt and fruit which was surprisingly good! Fresh fruit and the yogurt was surprisingly good!

We had dinner at one of the local pizza place near our apartments. The pizza wasn’t too bad, very big but it was for four of us. We ordered two of it and managed to finish it all!

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Overall, it was a great trip I love New Zealand, it’s such a beautiful place. However, the driving – the driving with Dragon almost killed me! Never again I think. We did have a good time, and would be keen to go to the South Island at some point.

Blue Breeze Inn

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

146 Ponsoby Road

Auckland, New Zealand, 1011

Ph: +64 9 360 0303

Toru

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

16 – 138 Ponsoby Road

Auckland, New Zealand, 1011

Ph: +64 9 555 1229

Alongside

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

69 Marsden Road,

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Ph: +64 9 402 6220

Upper Deck

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

76 Marsden Road

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Ph: +64 9402 8147

North Island, New Zealand Part 1

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and to lots more eating in 2015 – I certainly know there will be a lot of it happening! It’s been a while since I last blogged, we had a nice 2 weeks break, just hanging in Hong Kong. New resolution this year is to blog a little more, not nearly as much as pre-Dragon but definitely a little more than post-Dragon! Below is a family photo from our trip in New Zealand which I absolutely love!

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It seems like forever since our last trip to New Zealand (have yet to blog about Kaoshiung, and not to mention some eateries from Helsinki and Prague!), we were there just over a week. I have previously been to New Zealand, South Island to be exact – Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound and had a wonderful time. We did the awesome foursome which includes bungee jumping, white water rafting, canoeing and shotover jet. This time though, we were in the North Island, for a wedding in Auckland and thought we would check out the nearby towns. We stayed a couple of nights in Taupo, then Napier (my favourite!), Auckland and then Bay of Islands.

We arrived quite late to Auckland and ‘The Mother’ drove straight away to Lake Taupo, so by the time we got there it was quiet late, bed time for Dragon and we didn’t do much. We had something quick to eat on the way which I can’t even remember, either Mc Donalds or KFC!

Where we stayed: Hilton Lake Taupo, 80 – 100 Napier Road Taupo and we got the suite. It was very spacious, separate bedroom and living room. It was a shame we were there in Winter, would have loved to have gone swimming. The water was warm, but outside was freezing!

What we did: We had lunch and dinner at Lake Taupo town. We took photos in front of the lake and it was beautiful. Even our little photographer couldn’t wait to take photos of us and order us around!

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What we ate: We had breakfast twice at Dixie Browns, which was located on the shores of Lake Taupo. It has one of the largest fresh water lakes in the South Hemisphere and there was also the view of Mt Ruapehue, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.

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‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the hot chocolate

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With a large dollop of chocolate which I couldn’t help but eat on its own! YUM!

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I opt for the kiwi farmhouse breakfast (NZ19.90) – fried eggs, Kransky sausage, mushroom, hash browns, smokey bacon and grilled tomato served with hot buttered toast. It was a pretty large serving (bacon and tomato not on the same plate) and pretty decent.

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‘The Mother’ opt for a sweeter breakfast, truck stop pancake stack (NZD15.90) – blueberry pancake stack drizzled with maple syrup and cream. Oh my, it was good but sickly sweet in my opinion especially with hot chocolate, but ‘The Mother’ seemed to have enjoyed it.

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Service at the Dixie Browns was excellent and food was good, that we came again the next day to try out their lunch menu!

After brunch, we took a quick drive to Chateau Tongariro Hotel – it’s a BEAUTIFUL Chateau, ‘The Mother’ originally wanted to stay here, but I was against moving every single night as it wouldn’t be too relaxing.

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We went inside and had some afternoon tea, scones and tea and some bread for Dragon at the Ruapehu Lounge Bar.

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The scones were beautiful, I have missed good scones, I have tasted some horrid ones here in Hong Kong, guess I can just make my own?

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And we got some bread with dips for Dragon

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We went for a drive to the top of the mountain, and the views were spectacular. I love how there were still snow which was amazing and yes it was STILL VERY COLD!!!!

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For dinner, we ate at Taupo town centre, Plateau Restaurant & Bar. There was even a kids menu which was awesome – drink, food and dessert for NZD15! Dragon opt for the meatballs, tomato sauce with steamed rice (weird combo I thought but she seemed to have enjoyed it). And she of course enjoyed her ice cream sundae which we took some also.

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I was a tad greedy and ordered the 2 things – the crispy fried chicken with chipotle mayo (NZD12.50) – it was a little bigger than I anticipated. I was expecting drumsticks and wings, however, it was chicken breast fried, which was a little disappointing.

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The steamed pork bun, braised pork, coriander, hoisin sauce (NZD9.0) was a little dry, I liked the steamed bun but the braised pork was a little on the dry side which was a shame.

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‘The Mother’ opt for the fresh market fish with some saffron pasta which he utterly enjoyed.

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The next morning, we had brunch at Replete Café and store which was also located in the town centre.  It was a relatively busy when we rocked up,  you pay at the counter and food will be delivered to your table. I absolutely LOVED the banana smoothie – very creamy and had a pretty strong banana taste which I liked.

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For breakfast, I opt for the field mushrooms on megagrain farmhouse toast with sausage (NZD16.00). Dragon ate most of the sausage, as I was happy to just have the mushroom.

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‘The Mother’ opt for the complete Replete breakfast (NZD17.50) – eggs, chargrilled bacon, roasted field mushrooms, grilled focaccia and tomato relish. I stole some bacon but he pretty much demolished this on his own.

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We left for Napier just after lunch and arrived at about 4.30pm. Now have I mentioned how much I LOVE NAPIER? From memory it was about 4 hours drive from Lake Taupo. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Napier. It’s located in Hawke’s Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island.

Where we stayed: Art Deco Masonic Hotel, 2 Tennyson Street, Napier South, Napier 4110, New Zealand. It was a very ‘cool’ and funky hotel. There’s a pub downstairs and we got the pacific suite, again separate living and bedroom and overlooking the ocean – it was indeed beautiful!

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What we did: We arrived early afternoon, and we walked along the Marine Parade, again taking photos. This time jump shots which Dragon absolutely loved!

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We also went to the National Aquarium, it’s not a big aquarium but worth visiting, especially since it was raining. Dragon found this ride and didn’t want to leave! We walked around town, I wanted to do a bit of shopping but ran out of time. Definitely worth staying at Napier a bit longer. We also went for a drive, about 1 hour drive to a mountain, it was so windy that Dragon couldn’t stop laughing- she loves the cold weather! There were some jump shots also!

We had breakfast at the hotel both days as it came with the package, nothing too fancy but it was pretty good – eggs, bacon, toast, pastries, cereals and fruits.

For dinner on the first night, we ate at Emporium eatery and bar which is located at the Art Deco Masonic Hotel.

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We shared a couple of things, including a pizza – roast chicken, chorizo, brie, pesto mayo and rocket which Dragon thoroughly enjoyed. The crust was thin and there was a generous serving of chicken and chorizo.

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I loved the fried polenta, cauliflower puree, smoked tomato salsa and parmesan (NZD15) – ‘The Mother’ wasn’t a huge fan of polenta, which meant more for me!

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The pork, fennel and lemon meatballs, hummus and tzatziki (NZD16) was good but I still preferred the polenta.

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We were too full for dessert, and it was almost Dragon’s nap time, so we waddled upstairs and had a wonderful sleep!

The next day, we had lunch at Salt, which is also known as the ‘round house’, a Napier icon. It has a lovely view of the inner harbor of Ahuriri and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For lunch we had the lunch menu which was a great deal! I think for NZD20, you get soup or salad or garlic bread and a choice of main.

We had the cream of mushroom, which was deliciously creamy

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The garlic focaccia which Dragon demolished!

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‘The Mother’ opt for the steak, which was served with herb butter and chips! The steak wasn’t too bad for the price, and cooked just the way he likes it.

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I opt for the chicken and mango filo pastry with a side of salad. It was ok, the filing was quite rich, it was a little too creamy for my liking.

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Service was good, and pretty decent value. Pity my chicken filo pastry was a little on the rich side. There were a lot of seafood on the menu if you preferred (which is also their specialty!).

For dinner, we made reservations with Mister D and I have to say, it is one of the best food I have eaten in a while! Mister D is ‘a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, we believe in fresh, local produce delivered with great service but no fuss’.

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We started with some fresh bread which was hot and fresh – yum!

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The waiter suggested the potato gnocchi, cheese sauce and coffee (but without the coffee) (NZD13) for Dragon. It was a very cool presentation, gnocchi served on a stick, which creamy and cheesy sauce. Unfortunately Dragon didn’t take a liking to the gnocchi or cheese sauce – I should have known. She is not a big fan of potatoes and she hates cheesy food, cheese on its own she loves, but cheese on food, not so much!

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I couldn’t go past the bone marrow ravioli, beef juices, salsa verde (NZD24.50) – OMG! THE BEST! Even Dragon ate half of it (maybe more). The ravioli with bone marrow was just superb, tender and delivious and the beef juice – my my. I could have definitely eaten a second serving on my own!

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‘The Mother’ opt for fist in a bag, new potatoes, asparagus, Telegraph Hill smoked olives parlsey butter (NZD29.50) – it was quite a novelty. The fish was incredibly tender and ‘The Mother’ definitely enjoyed it.

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For dessert, we shared the ginger beer crème caramel, poached rhubarb and gingerbread (NZD15). Dragon ate most of the gingerbread on her own, she wasn’t a huge fan of the crème caramel but it’s probably due to texture. ‘The Mother’ and I fought for every single last piece – it was delicious!

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I really enjoyed my meal at Mister D and wished we came back the next day for breakfast! I heard the donut was too die for and always runs out!!!! Definitely worth going if you are in Napier, service and food was excellent!

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Next… Auckland and Bays of Islands

Dixie Browns – GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

38 Roberts St, Taupo 3330, New Zealand

Tlp:+64 7-378 8444

Dixie Browns on Urbanspoon

Chateau  Tongariro Hotel – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

State Highway 48, Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 7892 3809

Ruapehu Restaurant Chateau Tongariro on Urbanspoon

Plateau Restaurant & Bar – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

64 Tuwharetoa Street Taupo Town Centre, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 7377 2425

Plateau Restaurant & Bar, Taupo on Urbanspoon

Replete Café and store – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

45 Heu Heu St Taupo, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 7377 3011

Replete Cafe on Urbanspoon

Emporium eatery and bar – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Cnr of Tennyson Street & Marine Parade, Napier, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 6835 0013

Emporium Eatery & Bar on Urbanspoon

Salt – GA’s ratings: 6 / 10

10 West Quay Ahuriri, Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 6833 6035

Mister D – GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10

47 Tennyson Street Napier South, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 6835 5022

Mister D on Urbanspoon

Singapore Part II – Tiong Shian Porridge and an interesting soup

Wow, its certainly been a very long time since I last blogged! Things in the household has been quite busy actually. Work, Dragon, work, Dragon and getting sick, hence, there hasn’t been any time for much else. Thought I would go back to the Singapore post, My bro, F was craving some good congee. He took us to Tiong Shian Porridge which specialises in serving porridge / congee and clay pot frogs leg! I didn’t even know this place existed until he brought us there. Apparently one of his friends who lives in Singapore brought him here and he has been coming back ever since!

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The specialty is congee and we ordered 3 large bowls of congee – 2 fish and 1 chicken. To be honest, I am no expert in congee and I am not a huge fan as I only eat it when I am sick. I have to admit though, Dragon really enjoyed the chicken congee, it had the right consistency, not too watery like most places I have eaten.

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We noticed that a lot of people was ordering the braised bean curd. It was definitely tasty, silky smooth and soft. The sauce was a very wonderful complement to the dish and especially when eaten with congee, it even got the approval from Dragon! We also ordered a side of chicken wings, however, it wasn’t as tasty as from Chomp Chomp.

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The dried chili frog leg clay pot was delicious. The sauce had the right amount of sweetness and spiciness and it was surprisingly meaty! We also ordered the clay pot fish and this was everyone’s favourite. The fish had a slightly crisp to it and was extremely tender.

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I have to admit, I really enjoyed the congee, even Dragon couldn’t say no!

On a separate day, my dad was craving for some turtle soup. Now I was a little skeptical about turtle soup but I am always up for trying new things. Dad was craving it and F have heard about this place in Singapore called – Ser Seng Herbs Turtle Restaurant. I know what you might think, these turtles are endangered species, but I asked and these turtles are farmed just like cows and chickens.

The menu is quite limited, just steam turtle or mix turtle internal organ soup and steam black chicken soup. I ordered the smallest portion of the turtle soup and steam black chicken soup. I have to say, I wasn’t a huge fan, not something I would order again. The soup was quite herby and the meat, well I wasn’t sure what I was eating. I do enjoy the innards of chicken and what not, but this was a little weird for my liking.

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The rest of the crew definitely enjoyed it, and the steam black chicken soup – well, the soup was tasty but black chicken, I ate it after I gave birth to Dragon and till today, I still can not eat it!

One can not go to Singapore without eating an ice cream sandwich – I can’t remember if it’s the same dude, but he is on Orchard Road and he has been there for as long as I can remember. We had the durian one, and my my… BEST!

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Tiong Shian Porride

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

265 New Bridge Road, Ann Kway Building

Tlp: 6221 1596 / 6222 3911

Opening Hours: Daily 8am to 4am

Ser Seng Herbs Turtle Restaurant

GA’s ratings: 6 / 10

29 Lorong Bachok, Singapore 387791

Tlp:+65 6748 3953

 

Singapore Eats Part I – Tian Tian Chicken Rice and Chomp Chomp Food Centre

Sorry for the lack of post, it has been a crazy few weeks and I had the pleasure of going to Singapore for a few days for a wedding and see the family again which was really really nice! Dragon got to see her cousin again, and my goodness, I love how affectionate she is, she would kiss her niece every time she saw her! Sometimes too much that C would be scared of her, look at the expression on her face below – poor C!

Emma 28 Months

I haven’t been to Singapore for a very long time now, 6 – 7 years ago, ‘The Mother’ and I stayed in Singapore for 3 months to find a job, we both didn’t love Singapore and so decided to go back home to Sydney which was one of the best decisions we made! We had fun though in Singapore but I don’t think it is a city for us.

We were in Singapore for about 5 days, managed to stay at Marina Bay Sands for a couple of nights which was uber nice. We didn’t leave Marina Bay at all, even ate at the food court and Din Tai Fung. When the family came, we moved into a serviced apartment and that’s when all the eating started. My dad LOVES Hainan Chicken rice, so a visit to Tian Tian was a must!

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Tian Tian is located in Maxwell Road Hawker stall and they even have a restaurant at Joo Chiat Road. The hawker stall was packed when we arrived at 12.30, it took us a good 20 minutes to find a table, and even then it was shared but well worth it! Tian Tian Chicken Rice is one of the most famous chicken rice stalls and surprisingly my parents who come to Singapore frequently has not been. The queue for the chicken rice was horrendously long. We ordered a whole chicken and it was cooked to perfection – tender and succulent, even Dragon wanted more.

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The chicken rice was fragrant – it was indeed wonderful and satisfied my cravings. We also ordered a side of vegetables which was good but nothing special, the chicken is definitely my favourite!

Can you believe that I have never been to Chomp Chomp food centre which is located at Kensington Park Road, Serangoon Gardens (nearest MRT station is Serangoon and it is a 10-15 minutes bus ride to reach the food centre). We took a cab and it was only SGD12 if it’s not peak hour. There were so many stalls, we didn’t know where to start!

I ordered some chicken wings from Daily Fresh BBQ Chicken Wings. Each piece of chicken wings is about SGD1.2 and cooked to order. The chicken wings itself was tender and succulent, but felt that the aroma was not strong enough.

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I couldn’t go past the pork and chicken satay, minimum order of 10 and my goodness, they definitely satisfied the cravings. The meat was flavourful and tender and definitely one of the best satay I’ve had in a while.

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F wanted the bbq stingray, I loved the banana leaf’s fragrance, the skin was crispy and the meat itself was tender and succulent. Dad however thought it tasted like sardines and not sure if he liked it that much.

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Oyster omelette is a definite must and a favourite amongst the diners. Eggs, oysters, what’s there not to like?

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And also vegetables – the chili really gave it a nice kick!

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We enjoyed the meal at Chomp Chomp Food Centre, not sure if we would trek all the way there again though? Especially if Dad thought the stingray tasted like sardines! HAHAHA! They did go to Newtown Circus a few days later and thought the food was better there, I know it is more tourist-y but it was definitely easier to get too.

There’s definitely good food in Singapore and we certainly ate well! I would definitely go back to Tian Tian for that awesome chicken rice.

GA’s ratings Tian Tian Chicken: 8 / 10

Tian Tian Chicken Rice

Maxwell Road

#01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre

Tel: +65 9691 4852

Tue to Sun: 11am – 8pm

GA’s ratings Chomp Chomp Food Centre: 7.5 / 10

Daily Fresh BBQ Chicken Wings 鲜烧烤鸡翅膀 (Chomp Chomp Food Centre)

#01-03 Chomp Chomp Food Centre

20 Kensington Park Road, Serangoon

Singapore 557269

Ang Sa Lee Satay (Chomp Chomp Food Centre)

Stall 32, Chomp Chomp Food Centre

20 Kensington Park Road, Serangoon

Singapore 557269

Ang Sa Lee Fried Oyster (Chomp Chomp Food Centre)

Stall 26, Chomp Chomp Food Centre

20 Kensington Park Road, Serangoon

Singapore 557269

Lucy BBQ Seafood

Stall 5/6 Chomp Chomp Food Centre

20 Kensington Park Road, Serangoon

Singapore 557269

John Smith Cafe, Waterloo, Sydney

I’ve heard so many good things about John Smith, which is located in Waterloo in Sydney and was on my list of cafe’s to visit on my recent trip. My list pretty much consisted of cafes and good breakfast. The place however, is tiny, so get there early or in our case, we went during the weekdays just after the lunch time rush and didn’t have to wait for a booth at all.

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The menu vast which we love and who doesn’t love all day breakfast? We started with cold pressed juices – apple, pineapple and it was refreshingly good. Dragon drank most of it, that we had to order another glass for me!

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My brother really enjoyed their coffee – one of the best he said.

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My sis-in-law, O and I couldn’t go past the eggs Benedict with pulled pork – my goodness, it had my name all over it! The pulled pork was incredibly tender, even Dragon wanted more. The béarnaise sauce was excellent, wasn’t too rich and sickening and perfect with oozy egg! It was the perfect breakfast!

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I was pleasantly surprised when my brother, F, ordered the chicken salad with pesto. I thought he would have ordered a burger but he wanted something healthy and indeed it was surprisingly tasty. Everything was so fresh and we love pesto, so its as a win win for both of us.

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We thought we would share a cronut, and oh my my, it was sinfully good! I have heard wonderful things about Brewtown Newton’s cronut and this definitely did not disappoint!

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The staff was super duper friendly, and food excellent. We did have to wait a bit for our benedict as they ran out of béarnaise sauce but it was definitely worth the wait. I can’t wait to visit John Smith Cafe when I am back next!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

John Smith Cafe

1 John Street

Waterloo, 2017

NSW Sydney

Australia

Ph: +61 422 855 811

John Smith Cafe on Urbanspoon

Raya House, Phuket

As you may have recalled, ‘The Mother’, Dragon and I went for a quick getaway to meet the extended family in Phuket. It was one of those holidays where we didn’t leave the resort and just ate around there. Didn’t see much to be honest, just hung by the pool, slept, ate and took Dragon to the mall where she spent a few hours in this kids area – will post about that soon. I have been to Phuket many times now and have stayed at different places, however, this time, we stayed at the most tourist-y place – Patong, which was ok, I prefer to stay in a much quieter area and the resort we stayed was definitely NOT 5 star, it was a little old, room was ok and pretty noisy at night as there are markets near the mall.

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Anyhow, it was an ok holiday, unfortunately we didn’t eat as well as I had hoped, however, a good friend recommended that I go to Raya House and I am SO glad that we did! It was potentially the BEST meal we had in Phuket! HA! Raya House can be found in Phuket Town, a century year old house which has been converted into a restaurant – there’s a lot of character – rusting ceiling fans, vintage posters, very old photographs (which are cool) and the vibe is very down to earth and ‘rustic’.

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The menu is quite extensive, however, it is famous for its crabmeat coconut curry which is a MUST order and potentially one of the nicest curry we have had. Real chunks of crab meat pieces which are plump and generous, the curry is served with coconut milk and rice vermicelli. This was a hit amongst the diners.

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The salt and pepper squid was excellent, the batter was thin and not oily and the squid was tender.

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My favourite dish would have to be the pork belly – extremely tender, extremely succulent – it was phenomenal. It had the right amount of fat to meat ratio and one of the best dish I’ve had in Phuket! Even Dragon had a couple of pieces!

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The most disappointing would have to be the fried chicken which was topped with a mountain of fried garlic. The chicken pieces were small, and tough. I had meant to order this dish for Dragon but the chicken meat wGas so tough, Dragon couldn’t really chew it.

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The vegetables were also fantastic – a little on the spicy side for Dragon though.

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There weren’t a lot of options for dessert, however, we did manage to share grass jelly with longan topped with palm sugar – oh my my.. it was refreshing light and delicious. I probably should have ordered a serving for myself!

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Meal was excellent, shame about the chicken, but the pork belly and the crab curry was definitely a hit. Definitely worth visiting when you are in Phuket!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

48 New Debuk Cross Road,

Amphur Muang Phuket

Phuket, Thailand

Ph: +66 76 218 155

Lotte World, Seoul, Korea

Lotte World is Korean’s version of Disney Land. Good thing about Lotte World is that there is an indoor part as well as outdoor part, so if it’s raining, one can still go to Lotte World. It is not only for kids but for adults. I dragged the whole family here and they absolutely loved it. Tickets aren’t cheap but what fun parks have cheap tickets right? Adults who are over 65 pay child fare which isn’t too bad.

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The problem with going to amusement parks are the queues and crowds. The adults didn’t really go on many rides, Dragon and her cousin went on 5 rides maximum and they had a ball. Dragon especially loved the merry-go-around, she insisted that we go twice. I am not a big fan, going around in circles, it really does give me a headache but as long as she enjoyed it that’s the main thing.

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We arrived around lunch time and were all ravenous. Was recommended by one of the staff to try this restaurant called La Paloma, which is on the first floor in Adventure land and the restaurant serves various grilled and fried foods. Our family loves fried chicken, so we ordered two servings of this. Mum still thinks that this is the BEST fried chicken she had in Seoul! Big CALL but it was good. The chicken were cut into small pieces and was incredibly crispy. Meat was deliciously tender – I can see why she really enjoyed it but saying the BEST she ate in Seoul was definitely a big call.

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We ordered a couple servings of the pork cutlet which was served with fried rice and some macaroni salad which was interestingly nice.

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We also ordered a serving of the fried rice which went down so quickly that I didn’t even get to snap! Dragon definitely enjoyed the fried rice and the fried chicken. So grateful that she is quite an easy baby to feed – as long as there’s chicken she is one happy girl.

Outside, there is an ice-cream / ice block store which we kept coming back too called the ice factory. So many different flavours in different shapes.

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Dragon and I had two servings of the watermelon heart-shaped ice block – it was so refreshing and prefect for a hot day. As you can see from the picture below, Dragon couldn’t wait to dig in!!

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We had the panda – which was vanilla ice cream with chocolate through them – it was seriously good. The cookies and cream (can’t remember what shape it was) was also very good. Like Dragon, I could and would like to try every single one of them but.

We spent a good 7 hours in Lotte World, we were absolutely shattered but it was a great day with the kids and family. Will be back to Lotte World in October – yes we are visiting Seoul again! We seriously loved Korea, can’t wait to go back!

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