Sunday, November 24, 2013

Amazing Race Johor Singapore (Weekend 2)

Sofia and I flew to Singapore (AGAIN!) last weekend because I got invited to go to Hello Kitty Town and Little Big Club so that I could blog about it. Hahaha, if you only know how kilig it made me feel to write that! 

I was willing to fly to Singapore on my own pocket, as long as several things worked out and they did, ie we were able to find cheap tickets for both of us on short notice, Tim was free to host us and come with us to Malaysia, and the coordination went well with the travel agent that invited us.

I was also only willing to fly in if the schedule worked for a late Friday night flight from Manila (arriving in Singapore past midnight) and if we could take the past-midnight flight back from Singapore to Manila (arriving at 4am or 5am) just in time for a power nap before I dragged myself to work.

Friday night traffic was so bad, it took us close to 2 hours to get from the office
to the airport. Good thing we had enough time for dinner at the lounge.
I love the Arroz Caldo topped with Adobo and garlic.
I love travelling with Sofia. She's big enough to (mostly) take care of herself.
Carrying her bag/luggage + shopping included.
It's just the "Mom, I need to poop" part we need to work on. Hahaha.

The flight was a little bit delayed with traffic on the runway, it also took some time before we could take off. We arrived in Singapore at 2:00am. It was a good thing, I had the brilliant idea of asking Tim to buy some dinner (Chicken Rice for Fi, Taiwanese Chicken Chops for me) so we didn't have to step out anymore, so we were in bed by 3am. I don't think we were able to catch much ZZZZzzzzzs as our pick-up for the next day was arranged for 7:45am. I just had enough time to go down for take-away kopi and to get both of the sleepyheads ready.
The travel agent arranged our pick-up for SG$30 per person,
return with pick-up and drop-off at your doorstep.
It was a spacious mini-van, so it was very convenient.
However, I just realized that if you arrange to go to Johor Bahru (JB) with private transport, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll get there faster. There are also long queues to get through immigration (by car), but you're much more comfortable because you don't need to get down from the car. You just need to show your face at both borders. It roughly takes around the same time (a little over 2 hours), so we got to Hello Kitty Town around 1130am.

Hello Kitty Town and The Little Big Club are both in the Puteri Harbor Complex. Without a ticket, you can only access Red Bow (Hello Kitty) Cafe and the Sanrio and Little Big Club store.

Since it was taking some time to get our Blogger Visitor passes and Sofia's ticket organized, we decided to have some lunch first.
I was so happy to see that right across Hello Kitty Town,
they had Shilin my favorite Taiwanese Snack place.
The theme parks are all open until 6:00pm. We were able to quickly visit both of the theme parks but I will write about that in a separate post.
Hello Kitty Town Adventure
You get to meet a lot of the Sanrio mascots.
We also visited Little Big Club and we got to meet Pingu.
The Little Big Club has activity areas for all these characters,
but Thomas gets a whole floor to himself and his friends.
We were able to get a chance to also go back to Legoland. It's less than 10 minutes away by taxi (less than MYR20 fare), or you can take the Causeway Link Bus which passes every hour. I think we paid MYR5 for 2 adults and 1 child.
This was our 4th visit to Legoland this year so we were so happy
at the ROI on our annual passes. Will write about this separately. 
After Legoland,  we headed back to Puteri Harbor so we could do some shopping in the Sanrio shop before heading back home with the group.

We were so tired and hungry when they dropped us off that I was really thankful for the Coffee Shop (Hawker Style) just under Tim's flat. I just placed our order (over-ordering as usual) on our way up, then I just sent Tim back down to pay for it.
The Salted Egg Pork Rib was surprisingly so good.
We also ordered Cereal Prawn and Shrimp Paste Wings for Sofia,
and Sambal Kang Kong for our veggies.
We were so tired, we actually fell asleep around 10pm while Tim when out to meet some of his friends, so the next day, Fi and I were back at the Coffee Shop downstairs, so Tim could sleep longer.
 Traditional Kopi and Kaya Toast date in our PJs.
Unfortunately, traditional means the butter is NOT thicker than the bread. Boo.

When Tim finally surfaced, we we went to ion for Brunch (though technically, it would be more of a late lunch). We planned to eat at Jones the Grocer, an Australian deli - open restaurant type. However, when we were seated, our server asked if we wanted to try Becasse, Jones' newly opened French sister just in front, so I took a look at the menu and I convinced Tim to try that instead.
Jones the Grocer is beside Paradise Dynasty on the 4th Floor of Ion Orchard
Becasse is right in front of it, in the center of the mall.
I wanted to try it because I was originally planning to order the Wagyu Burger from Jones the Grocer, but when I looked at the menu of the other place, I saw that they were serving the Wagyu Burger with foie gras. It was an easy call.
The Wagyu Foie Gras burger was good, but some dishes were exceptionally bad.
More in a separate post.
Sof and I shopped a bit and did some errands, but she loved the static entertainment in the malls.
Picture with Ninong Tim and Van Gogh's ghost.
Super heroes unite!!!
Someone looks like he's running low on patience. Hahaha.
I originally wanted to eat at Din Tai Fung for dinner because I was craving for their Pork Chop Rice and Xiao Long Baos, but since I was too tired to walk to another mall for that we decided to try Ginza Bairin instead.
Sof and I really enjoyed the food, especially the Speacial Black Pig Tonkatsu.
 More in another post.
It's right across the yummy Takoyaki place, so Tim also bought some to share
before our food was delivered.
We just had enough time to pack when we got home, then it was almost time to go back to the airport again.
Grocery one side, Sanrio on the other. We didn't even need to use the
check-in baggage allocation we bought.
The good thing about Singapore now is there no longer is a budget terminal, all the budget carriers now fly out of Terminal 2.
Sofia posing and pretending to swim in the glass bottom thing.
Sponge Bob and Friends with Mr. MM Pilot.
That was such a fun weekend, though we really came home dead tired, I was very impressed by how Sofia (at 6 years old) could keep up and carry her own weight. Till my next Bloggin' Trip!  just saying.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Steak Eggs Ben for Brunch at Spruce

I love brunch.

And whenever we visit Tim, his place always feels like we've entered a time space warp where we only start to surface around noon (at the earliest), so by default, our first meal is always brunch. 

Singapore has a lot of places with Weekend Brunch menus (it's harder to find brunch on a weekday). Since this time around we actually got to brunch at 2pm (yes, that was our first meal! Sofia was starving!), we wanted something substantial, like steak + my fave brunch food, eggs ben, so we ended up at Spruce. We even called for a reservation because if you don't,  wait time can last an hour. 

Spruce is at the Tanglin area. It feels similar to PS Cafe in Dempsey.
They were very disorganized. Even with our reservation,  we had to wait quite a while even when we could see a few empty tables because the receptionist was also busy serving.

They have indoor and outdoor seating.
Outside is nicer if you don't mind the mosquitoes. 
They also have a playground for the kids.

Because we were starving, I think we over ordered.
The three of us ordered the Spruce Signature Steak Benny SG$31.
You really can't go wrong with Steak and Eggs but the dish seemed lacking
on the Benny part. It tasted more like Steak and Poached Eggs.
Red and yellow go so well together.
We ordered Banana Pancakes with Blueberries and honeycomb SG$14
for Sofia but she didn't like the tartness of the berries so she ate just one.
We shared the rest, it made a good dessert. 
Tim and Ady also ordered the Spruce Signature Prawn Pasta SG$22
It was very tasty but you need to eat it with something else because it's so rich.

Despite our over ordering, and the little help from Fi (I had to buy her Chicken Rice at the mall), we actually almost finished all our food!

Thanks for treating us to brunch Timsum! I love steak and eggs... even if it was short on the benny! just saying.

Spruce at Phoenix Park
320 Tanglin Road 
+65 6836 5528 reservations recommended

Friday, November 15, 2013

Eating our way through Singapore (Weekend 1)

Last week, Sofia, Ady and I went to Singapore for the long weekend. It was mainly so we could go back to Legoland, so we could maximize our Annual Passes, which I calculated we could get ROI from with at least two visits in a year. You can read about our first visit here.

We were in Singapore for five days, but we weren't clear if we wanted to spend one or two days in Johor Bahru, we just knew we wanted to go to Legoland, visit the newly opened Legoland water park and make a quick visit to Johor Premium Outlets if convenient.

We ended up spending our first day shopping in our favorite haunts Ikea and Anchorpoint Shopping Mall.
No visit to IKEA is complete without having Swedish meatballs with
Lingonberry jam, now served with mashed not boiled potatoes.
Sofia still loves the nuggets kid's meal and playing in the showroom. 
This is Sofia when we just moved to Singapore in 2010.
She was just 2 years old and she convinced us to leave her in the
 IKEA playground, and they called us to pick her up after 15mins.
Sofia is now big enough to fill in the playground form by herself.

Anchorpoint is normally one of our first stops in Singapore because we normally check-out the stuff on sale in Charles and Keith, Cotton-on, Cotton-on Kids, etc before we shop in their regular outlets. It's sad that Cotton-on Kids finally closed in Anchorpoint Mall. I personally spent a lot of money there. Hahaha.
Looking at the bright side,  there's a newly opened Typo Outlet Store.
We love, love, love, looking through their stuff.
You always find something you didn't realize you need.
Typo has everything from office supplies, kitschy things for the home
and eyeglasses in all colors.

After our IKEA and Anchorpoint run, we made our way to Orchard to snack at the recently opened Tim Ho Wan, so we had time to digest it while shopping before we met up with some friends for dinner.
Tim Ho Wan recently opened a branch in Plaza Singapura.
They are known for their Baked BBQ Pork buns but we really
loved their Carrot (or Radish) Cake.
We also ordered Harkaw (shrimp dumplings) and SioMai (pork dumplings).
I didn't think it was anything special, but I'll save my views for a THW post.
Sof was happy to eat what we ordered until she realized that we were just snacking,  and we were heading to dinner right after we did some shopping. 

Our next stop was Ion Orchard because we met up with Sofia's friend for a playdate since we planned to be in Singapore at the same time.
Dinner was our favorite foie gras and black truffle xiao long bao
from Paradise Dynasty. 
It was also some sort of reunion for us because
Candice,  Pat and I used to be teammates.
Mia and Fi enjoyed their brief play time together.
They've been friends since birth, and now they go to the same school.
We went to the Ion's food court in Basement 4 to look for dessert.
We had the layered crepe cakes from First Love Patisserie.
I think they'd be better when eaten at home because it was served frozen.

Next day, we attempted to get up bright and early because we were going to Legoland. Unfortunately, we were still at home by noon, so we finally decided we would sleep over so that we could do everything we wanted spread over two days.
Tim knew we'd need energy to go to JB by bus so he prepared
Waffles with Bananas and Dulce de Leche for brunch.

We went to Legoland on the first and second day. Yay! That makes 3 visits on the annual pass. Hooray for a great ROI.

It was such a cloudy (and rainy) weekend, that it was actually cooler
walking around the theme park, except for when it started to pour.
Good thing, the umbrellas were on sale.
But we only made it to the water park on the second day.
To be blogged about separately.
We were also able to make it to Johor Premium Outlets.
I was able to buy 6 pair of shoes from Vincci (VNC)
for less than the price of one pair.
Food wise, we had dinner at Shilin Taiwanese Snacks, where we enjoyed the
 Oyster Misua, XXL Crispy Chicken and Pork Floss Crepes.

We were dead tired when we got to Singapore, but because we finally worked out the easiest way to come and go by bus, you can read about it here, we made it back in time to have dinner at Irvin's.
Irvin's has the best salted egg sauce I have ever tasted.
It doesn't matter what protein you order it with because it's that good,
We also ordered Cereal Prawns so Fi would have something to eat.

When we got home, Tim being a doting Ninong,  threw Sofia a Belated Chocolate Fondue Birthday Party.

Sof even had a Princess Hat.

On Sunday,  we did our usual Singapore weekend thing, and we went out for a good brunch.
Tim treated us to Steak Benny at Spruce in Phoenix Park.
More of Spruce in a separate post.
After brunch, we went shopping with Tim and Sof for Sofia's gift.
Ady and I got tired waiting for them to finish so we snacked
on this decadent Chocolate from PS Cafe in Paragon while waiting. 
Since we thought we weren't hungry,  we headed for dinner at Saveur in Far East Plaza because we remembered their servings to be French (stingy) sized.
We were pleased to be wrong.
The food was good, and the servings were generous.
You can read more on Saveur here.
When we got home, Sof got Ninong Tim to play with everything they bought.
Twister Challenge

The following day, it was our last day in Singapore,  so we decided to go with Tim to shop at Changi City Point Mall which was near his office. I blogged about Changi City Point last time I went there (I thought it was a Fail!) and nothing has really changed, we still had a hard time finding something to buy.
The only good thing about the Changi City Point Mall is their
Water Play Area outside the 4th level food court.
Just bring swimwear and your kid should be good to go.
We met up with Tim for lunch, so Ady and Fi got their fix of Chicken Rice from the Basement1 Food Court, while Tim and I had more Taiwanese Snacks.
Sofia really loves Chicken Rice.
Because we weren't really able to shop, we made our way to shop in Orchard Road so we could buy our last minute shopping.
Sof snacked on her favorite McWings while I had a Moccachino.
We decided to just go back home after that, so we could nap before a late dinner,  since we were catching the 1.30am flight back to Manila.

We ended up having dinner at 126 Dimsum, you can read about them here. We had our fill of dimsum, and everything we ordered (drinks included) was less than SG$50.
We had two orders each of hakaw, siomai, vegetable rolls and congee.
And two orders of yam balls (taro puffs) and one carrot cake.

Our Singapore (and JB) trip was so much fun. It just felt like I had a hangover for the next few days because I went straight to work after we arrived and I was just so tired. I thought we would go back to Singapore after another year or so, but it was only once we got back to Manila that things started to fall in place for another weekend trip to Singapore just two weeks after. So, see you again SG! I hope we get to eat in our other favorite places. just saying.