Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Koh Grill & Sushi Bar

The last place you would expect to find a Japanese restaurant is beside a food court. Koh Grill & Sushi Bar is located just beside (or some would say inside) Food Republic at Wisma Atria. The much raved about dish at this place has got to be the Shiok Maki, which has been reviewed and given a thumbs up by many food critics.

My partner insisted on the Pitan Tofu which i found mediocre (even though she liked it) as i am guessing the tofu wasn't homemade. The sauce wasn't bursting with the taste of century egg like what i expected it to be like and the only plus point was the generous amount of fish roe topped on the dish.

There was nothing to fuss over the yakitori as well. In my opinion, the mushrooms were a tad over-grilled and too dry, and i did not understand the black sauce which tasted like dark soya sauce drizzled over it. The pork belly skewers and cherry tomatoes wrapped in pork belly were slightly better.

The Cha Soba however, didn't make the mark. The noodles were slightly overcooked and the dipping sauce was not salty enough to my liking. I normally enjoy slurping my noodles even though it is such a simple dish but i found myself not enjoying this as much as i normally do in other restaurants.

The much raved about Shiok Maki certainly lived up to expectations. There was a generous amount of fish roe topped on the maki filled with unagi and wrapped with salmon. There was a lot of texture, and the sauce (which i couldn't figure out what is was) paired nicely with the duo, making it my favorite dish at the restaurant.

We decided to be adventurous and ordered the Foie Gras Maki with Swordfish (you can also opt for beef if you prefer). The whole maki had a smoky taste but i felt that there wasn't enough foie gras in the maki to justify the price tag of the dish. It was good (foie gras is normally good), but not worth the price nor the stomach space. I would gladly do with another serving of the Shiok Maki if given a choice, which also happens to be about half the price of the Foie Gras Maki.

While Koh Grill & Sushi Bar is located just beside a food court, don't expect to be paying food court prices. Prices range from SGD 2 (Yakitori) to SGD 28 (Foie Gras Maki). And if you are wondering what to order, you should know by now - Shiok Maki.

Koh Grill & Sushi Bar
435 Orchard Road 
#04-21, Wisma Atria
+65 9180 3805

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hada Labo : Perfect x Simple

After looking at the title of this post, most of you will be able to guess what it is all about. Yes, Hada Labo. This brand clearly needs no introduction if you have been a frequent reader, or if you are a television addict. I have raved about Hada Labo products twice (and am constantly raving about in on Twitter), making this the third - good stuff should always constantly be shared.

Hada Labo originates from Japan, and with the " Perfect x Simple" philosophy, they use only the purest ingredients that are beneficial to the skin, with no unnecessary additives. Which is also why i always recommend Hada Labo to my friends, because their products (if i may say) are 100% harmless to your skin. You know the part about some products that may cause an outbreak? None of the people i have recommended Hada Labo products to have experienced that. 

Also, pardon me because i am a guy, and hardly pose with products (unlike girl bloggers). But i can assure you that all the reviews i make are based on how i feel and are not biased. 

I like the fact that Hada Labo is constantly trying to improve. I've been using the Hada Labo SHA Hydrating Lotion for nearly a year now. The 170ml bottle goes a long way despite me using it daily. I use it twice a day (a few drops each time) and it instantly hydrates my skin. Another plus point which i have highlighted before is that it absorbs into your skin very quickly. And with the new formula with triple hyaluronic acid, this product from Hada Labo just gets better and better.

The other essential to my daily skin care regime is the Hada Labo UV Moist Emulsion. I swear by using this everyday without fail because of the harmful rays that can potentially harm your skin. With SPF 50+ included in the milky emulsion, that also leaves your skin matte and absorbs very quickly, it is no wonder each time i pass by the Hada Labo counter, it is always left with a few, or sometimes even sold out. 


For those workaholics or night owls that stay up late to do work or study, the Hada Labo SHA Hydrating Eye Cream is next on the list as your BFF (Best Friend Forever). I've been using this product for two weeks now (once daily, every night) and it has definitely lightened the eye bags by quite a visible bit. Containing three different types of hyluronic acid and jojoba oil that smoothes fine lines around the eye area, people of any age group would be able to find this product useful. 

This for now, has got to be one of my favorite products from Hada Labo. The Hada Labo SHA Hydrating Cream has a thicker consistency than the milk lotion. I apply this daily (every night) and do not wash my face with any cleanser at all the next morning. Instead, what i get is soft, supple and glowy (i would say shiny but people might mistake it as oily). I've raved about this product on Twitter a few times and i still stand by what i said - this product is amazing. No more need for night cream, this does the trick. Leave it on, go straight to sleep and wake up with healthy radiant looking skin.

With so many affordable and different products to offer, Hada Labo really caters to everyone, no matter what kind of skin type you have. Like i mentioned earlier, their products (in my opinion) are absolutely harmless. And if you are still skeptical, you can head over to their Facebook page, hit the "like" button and request for a free sample mailed to you. Trust me, it's just a few clicks and your skin will be absolutely thankful to you for the introduction.

This is a sponsored product review. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Omy.sg - Social Media Opportunist

The procrastination over this whole issue has been long over-due. They say it's never too late, so i am hoping it isn't. It all started out with two tweets i tweeted on the way to work one morning due to a bad traffic jam that caused the entire expressway to be blocked off. I normally leave my house on time and can reach work on time, but for that day, i was actually late for two hours. Mind you, two hours, not twenty minutes - who wouldn't be pissed?

I've yet to remove and delete those tweets, in case you were wondering. To begin with, the tweets do not contain any racist or political remarks. In fact, people pass off such tweets as "angry tweets", which do not actually make any sense or relevance to anyone, unless you too were stuck in the same jam as me. But Omy.sg decided it was an "opportunity" for them. Why opportunity? Read on.

Within hours, the story was highly publicized on the front page of their website, and titled in chinese, which i will kindly translate for you - KJE accident causes a bad traffic jam, cold blooded male curses "hope someone die". 

I am not at all affected by the article they posted because i clearly tweeted those stuff, but after reading the whole article, i couldn't help but realize a few details. 

Quoted (and translated) from the article posted on Omy.sg, it stated :

"Blogger Jerome Lim posted the information on Facebook and a lot of netizens criticized this cold blooded male"

These were the exact comments posted on the post Jerome Lim posted on Facebook. Point to note also, Omy.sg linked Jerome Lim's post on their website. Some of you may ask, who is Jerome Lim? I have no clue either. With more than 3000 followers on my Twitter, he might just be one of them. 

This is Jerome "Kaypoh" Lim, or if you want to put it in a nicer term - Jerome "Ah Pek" Lim. My advice for Jerome is to spend the time going to the gym getting rid of his gut before poking his nose into social media which do not concern or affect him. I decided to search for his blog and since Google is everyone's best friend, it didn't take much effort. 

"The Long and Winding Road", just like how i described him to be - only an uncle his age would come out with such a lousy tag line for his blog. And guess what else i found - Blog Awards from Omy.sg on his side bar. Bingo, he happens to be an Omy.sg blogger (which is also why i don't know of his existence because they have all the half past six bloggers). I don't want to name drop but if Omy.sg was THAT GOOD, why isn't Singapore's Top Bloggers with them? 

That was not all. I mean, i know some of you guys are already convinced that Omy.sg was trying to use my tweets as an opportunity to publicize their blogger (Jerome Lim), but i thought it would be more convincing if i had more to reveal. 

Again, quoted from the same article :

"Netizen Aussie Pete said : "Unbelievable!! Wonder if he has heard of Karma?"

The above is Aussie Pete's blog, and again on the side bar we see a banner with the words "Singapore Blog Awards, organized by Omy.sg". Are you already thinking what i am thinking? I don't even think this "ang moh" understands chinese, or any single word in that Omy.sg article about me. But of course, i am sure he knows he was being quoted, which was probably part of the deal with Omy.sg to publicize him. 

Let's take a look at the last person they quoted :

Female netizen Ai Sakura exclaimed : "pretty insensitive in the light of recent happenings".

Dear Ai Sakura (if to begin with is your real name), i don't understand your comment towards this whole issue. If your concern was about the recent accident at Tampines which took away the lives of two boys, then i think we are on different wavelengths here. This accident caused a massive jam, which caused the tweets. The Tampines accident did not. 

That is Ai Sakura's blog (also known as Sakura Haruka). I am already confused by how someone can have so many different names online - remembering names of different sashimi at a Japanese restaurant is much easier. And of course, again, we have *drumrolls* the Omy.sg Singapore Blog Awards on her side bar. 

Dear Omy.sg, out of all the people who commented on the Facebook post, why these three? And if so, why do they ALL happen to be Omy.sg bloggers, if i may ask? Coincidence, or an opportunity for you to jump at to market your "bloggers"?

They also gave me a quarter page mainstream publicity on the second page of Wanbao on the same day, but failed to mention my name on the article. And if you ask me why Wanbao, it's because both Omy.sg and Wanbao are owned by the same company - Singapore Press Holdings. I reckon it was slow news day for Wanbao so they needed "help" to fill up the pages. 

But looking at the statistics that are public, i clearly understand why Omy.sg is trying so hard. I mean, social media is after all about numbers, right? But they should have played their cards a little better because this plot was clearly too obvious that even an idiot could have spotted it. Don't use news as an opportunity, it makes you look desperate. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Days Hotel Singapore

Smack in the middle of Singapore's food heaven, Balestier, Days Hotel is one of the newest addition to hospitalities that have been coming up in the vicinity. Days Hotel, located along Jalan Rajah Road, is also situated beside Zhongshan Park.


The hospitality has 405 rooms featuring park views and city views, depending on your preference. I would recommend the park view given Singapore is a never ending growing city and your view of the city is most likely to be blocked by other buildings around the area. 

The warm shade of orange walls in the room paired with the white sheets gave the room a very simple yet beach feel. You know, the thing about orange and the beach going together. And of course i was very happy to know that there were enough pillows on the bed. 

I also like how they play with space and have a desk, as well as a window seat, where you can look out and enjoy the view (like i mentioned earlier, i suggest the park view) if you really like sunlight coming through the window and a unobstructed view of surroundings.

Besides the necessities, their rooms are also equipped with an Apple dock that allows you to play your music, a LED TV for your entertainment purposes, as well as free Wi-Fi throughout your stay, which i thought was very essential - after all, what is life without the internet and social media these days? The room also features a wardrobe for your convenience, as well as an iron and a safety deposit box.

The bathroom, although a little small, has the basics one will need. This includes a full mirror big enough for two to use without fighting, as well as a shower with an opaque glass panel, just in case you are not staying with your partner.

After a good night's rest in the comfy sheets, head down to 21 on Rajah for breakfast (they also open for lunch and dinner) with a variety of breakfast items that features local cuisine, as well as international. And if all that is too much for you to digest, you can take a stroll at Zhongshan Park, which happens to be linked to the restaurant. 

While there isn't any swimming pool at Days Hotel, they do have a full equipped gym on the second floor. Also, there is a shuttle bus that transfers hotel guests from the hotel to the nearby train station. And adding to the point that it is a stone throw away from all the good eateries, as well as affordable room rates, there really isn't anything to fuss about Days Hotel. 

Days Hotel Singapore 
1 Jalan Rajah
Singapore 329133
+65 6808 6838

This was an invited media session.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

49 Seats

This new establishment on Kreta Ayer Road is a place one would probably miss without taking a closer look. To me, the food at 49 Seats is understatedly good, and that obviously calls for a bit of recognition. As tacky as it may sound, the name "49 Seats" also mean 49 seats, nothing more nothing less, unless you decide to bring your own foldable chairs. And yes, located at 49 Kreta Ayer Road (yes, the number 49 again), it is no wonder the name "49 Seats" was chosen by its owner. Which makes me wonder why didn't i count if they actually also have 49 different items on their menu.

Beer is aplenty at 49 Seats, ranging from Corona to Hoegaarden, just in case guys need to know where to quench their thirst after work. It helps that they are also located near the office buildings (CBD), and open in the evening, which is a perfect time for those who are working office hours.

It is a one man (or women in this case) show kitchen ran by the most humble chef i have met - Chef Meribel. Having grown up in the Philippines, she was a nurse before deciding to explore her passion for cooking in Hong Kong, and recently decided to come to Singapore in the past year. I have great admiration for people like her, who choose to pursue their passion.

The simple Chicken Chop was good enough to win me over. The chicken was tender with crisp golden skin and char-grilled taste, paired with the mushroom sauce with a generous amount of shiitake mushrooms. Each main comes with two side dishes of your choice, and besides the plain old boring fries (which are highly addictive), the pasta salad has a pretty unique lemon dressing which most people will like. If you do not take mushrooms, you have a choice of black pepper or brown sauce as well.

I normally stray away from fish items but this Pan Fried Fish with Al Scampi Sauce blew me away. The sauce, cooked from white wine and seafood paired perfectly with the pan fried dory fish which had a crispy outside. The sauce consists of prawns, mussels and clams and i ended up dumping the whole serving of it on the fish before polishing it off the plate. Like all mains, the dish comes with two side dishes, and if you like your western meal to be hearty, opt for the mash potatoes, which comes with very good homemade brown sauce.

The love for the sauce didn't stop there, so we decided to try the Sirloin Al Scampi but was a little disappointed when the steak came a tad too overdone. Thankfully, the sauce saved the day (i wish i could have a whole bottle of sauce to myself). If you want a healthier option, the garden salad is also one of the side dishes you can choose from when ordering the mains.

The most raved about dish online from 49 Seats - Tom Yum Seafood Pasta. With bits of clams, prawns and mussels, this dish certainly got a thumbs up for innovation. It resembled eating a thick version of laksa more than tom yum, and was a tad too spicy for me, although i still ended up slurping it up. The pasta was cooked al dente and the sauce was the right consistency - not too thick nor watery. The only thing i wished for was more seafood in the dish.

And if all that isn't enough to convince you the food is great at 49 Seats, you should check out their Cheese Fries with a massive load of cheese and mayo on the top. Even towards the bottom of the basket, there was still enough cheese. Nothing really can beat crispy hot piping shoe string fries with a load of cheese.

No meal is complete without dessert. The Waffles with Ice Cream drizzled with maple syrup and chocolate sauce didn't really hit the spot for me, even though the waffles were made fresh on the spot. Either that or we were too bloated from the mains, so much so that we couldn't savor this.

In all, 49 Seats serves up great affordable food. The portions are realistically big for the prices, which are very reasonable in my opinion. There is also no GST or service charge. And because there are 49 seats, i suggest you ring them up to check or make a reservation to avoid disappointment. I am, of course, definitely going back.

49 Seats
49 Kreta Ayer Road
Singapore 089007
+65 6225 4332

This was an invited media tasting.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

21 on Rajah

21 on Rajah serves up Mediterranean food at the lobby of Days Hotel. I normally find the mainstream international buffets, Japanese restaurants, or Chinese restaurants at hotels so Mediterranean was a bit of a change.

The number 21 from their name represents the 21 Mediterranean countries, which is also where most of their inspiration comes from to create their dishes. The decor of white and blue also resembles the theme of the restaurant, which i thought to be simple and minimalistic. 

We were off to a pleasant start with the Crostini of Smoked Eel. The toasted crostini went well with the  smoked eel and zucchini and were addictive because they fit into your mouth perfectly. 

The Foie Gras with Pear was also surprisingly good. I would have however preferred the portion of the foie gras to be a little bigger because the sweetness from the caramelized pear flavor overpowered the foie gras, which also defeats the purpose since anyone having this would probably be a foie gras fan. 

Moving on to the other starters, i find the Grilled Chicken Satay in Balinese Spices mediocre. I am a fan of pork satay because of the fatty meat from the pork. The chicken was tender, but i felt that the chicken wasn't charred enough to bring out the barbeque flavor. The sauce however, was light yet rich at the same time, which kind of made up for the chicken. 

The last of the starters was the Prawn and Bacon Roll - prawn wrapped in bacon and coated with egg white. The crisp golden light batter from the egg white certainly got a thumbs up, topped with zucchini and with a semi salty and sweet inside from the prawn and bacon - it was oily but sinfully good. 

I couldn't resist ordering the Mushroom and Tomato Soup after briefly scanning through the menu. Mushroom soup normally do not come with tomatoes, so i was guessing if the soup was going to come brownish-grey (like how normal mushroom soup looks like), or red. Drizzled with olive oil (i was hoping truffle oil) and with chunks of tomatoes inside, the soup had a good consistency and wasn't overly thick. It was a pretty generous serving for soup so i recommend this to share. 

If mushroom and tomatoes is a little too mild for your taste, and you want something more Mediterranean, go for the Marseilles Seafood Bouillabaisse, which tasted like lobster bisque, except that you find slices of fresh fish, squid, prawns and scallop in it. The only downside was that it got a little too overpowering towards the end and the prawns were slightly overcooked. 

Cooked in a casserole, the Stewed Fillet of Danish Cold Water Halibut was simple yet flavorful. Tomatoes, potatoes, slices of fish and topped with olives. The natural sweetness from the fish, alongside the tanginess from the tomatoes gave this dish a very healthy feel. 

If simple is not your thing, the Jumbo Prawns with Dill and Saffron Paella is a pan bursting with colors and flavors. The paella was done well, but the main star of the dish was a bit of a disappointment - the prawn was overcooked.

Another flavorful dish would be the Moroccan Harira with Chicken and Garbanzo Beans, which tasted a bit like the spices from the Indian Briyani Chicken. Again, the main star of the dish was disappointing - the chicken breast was dry but the tangy and spicy sauce full of spices made up for it.

Something healthy to consider is the Braised Chicken Breast, served with chorizo and tomato confit. Unlike the chicken in the Moroccan Harira, the meat here was much more tender with the correct moisture sealed within. And plated with the correct amount of carbs (potatoes), this makes for a simple healthy dish.

If Mediterranean and seafood does not work, you'll be glad to know they also serve French food, such as the Braised Citrus Duck Leg. The duck meat fell off the bone effortlessly and it was served with a generous amount of mushrooms, which i thought complimented the duck very well.

And if you are a true Singaporean who enjoys spicy and "heavy" food, the serving of the Singapore Laksa here is massive. The bowl size was of a basin and within the rich and thick gravy you find prawns, fishcake, chicken shreds and bean curd skin. Doing it with a twist, they added pesto instead of laksa leaves on top, which brings the whole dish to a entire new level.

Crabmeat pasta is common on most restaurant menus, but at 21 on Rajah, you get lasagna with it. The Lasagna of Spinach is already something different, but with a generous amount of fresh crabmeat, the dish couldn't get better. I however felt the whole thing needed cheese, but nevertheless it was still creamy and good.

For desserts, we had the Pannetonne Bread and Butter Pudding with dates. It had a golden crusty top but lacked dates. Also, the inside of the pudding was moist and the sauce wasn't overly sweet. I like my desserts not too sweet so this certainly got a green light, except that it needed more dates or raisins. 

If you are a chocolate fan and need to end off your meal with something chocolatey, try the Dark Chocolate Fondant with Raspberry Coulis. I could tell that the chocolate cake was flour-less within the first mouthful because it was light, which was a plus point. The only thing i didn't understand was the marshmallow on top of it, which were slightly artificial in taste. Overall, chocolate lovers will still love this because of the rich chocolate flavor.

My favorite of the lot has to be the Pumpkin Creme Brulee, which was served at the right temperature and had bits of pumpkin fibre within the creamy custard. I have high standards for my favorite dessert but this really did make the mark.

Mediterranean food isn't that easy to find in Singapore, but at 21 at Rajah, you'll probably be able to settle that craving with the variety of different dishes offered on their menu. And if you are a seafood lover, you'll be glad to know most of their dishes have seafood in it.

21 on Rajah 
Days Hotel Singapore 
1 Jalan Rajah
Singapore 329133
+65 68086868

This was an invited media tasting.