Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More whisky at Auld Alliance @ Singapore

This is my revisit of Auld Alliance in Chijmes Singapore (1st post here). This is one place for serious whisky drinkers and you'll NEVER EVER get bored with the selection of whisky here because there is just too much for me to comprehend! And everytime I visit Emmanuel, there's always a new bottle somewhere on the bar top...

Joining me at the bar is Ervin from Taberna Wine Bar who loves whisky too besides his wines. This time, I was there in my sober self and was able to try more whiskies unlike the last time when I've already had some wines before adjourning to Auld Alliance. The first bottle that I wanted to try is none other than Basil Hayden's, which is an American Bourbon on my 101 Whisky to Drink list!

This bottle is actually part of the Beam Global Spirits & Wine family of whiskies. This is a singular bourbon that bridges the flavor of rye whiskies and small batch bourbons together. Aged 8 years at a relatively mild 80 proof, you can actually taste a hint of peppermint, notes of pepper complimented by slight citrus overtones, and a spicy finish. It's dry and delicate. Basil Hayden's can be enjoyed alone or in cocktails such as a Juicy Basil and Basil Bubbly.

The 2nd bottle of the 101 list is actually Crown Royal, which is a blended Canadian whisky. This brand is under Diageo and at 80 proof, 40% alcohol, it's said to be the best selling Canadian whisky in US. Hmm... When I was at Charles De Gaulle Airport, I saw this bottle and was tempted to buy it but I already had 3 other bottles in my bag! Oh well, lucky I didn't carry this bottle all the way as the effort wasn't paid off in taste. I didn't really like it. There's some caramel and oak with a very mellow palate. It would be better if it's drank with Coke! haha...

A very interesting whisky is the Rosebank 1991 from Gordon and Macphail's Connoiseurs Range. The Connoisseurs Choice is a series of malt whiskies from various Scottish distilleries many of which are no longer producing whisky. The Distillery was closed in 1993 despite being widely recognized as one of the premier distilleries Taketsuru 21 was crowned World's Best Blended Malt Whisky at the 2010 World Whiskies the lowland region. Only through independent bottlers, we still can taste the whisky which was once produced at Rosebank. This is a laid back style of lowland whisky which was triple distilled for extra smoothness. Don't be fooled by the light hue as it is very smooth, crisp and has some spicy and floral notes with a long finish.

This bottle of Nikka Taketsuru 21 was crowned World's Best Blended Malt Whisky at the 2010 World Whiskies Awards. Labeled as a “pure malt”, in this context it seemed to mean a “vatted malt.” Vatted whiskey is similar to blended whiskey, except that there's no grain alcohol in the mix and it's made from all single malts. And single malts are just a single malt whiskey, from a single distillery. Thus the Taketsuru Pure Malt is a vatting of different Nikka single malts.

It comes in three standard ages: 12, 17, and 21 years old. We’re here to drink the 21yo as I've already tried the 17yo. On the nose, there were a plenty of oak influence with notes of prunes and cocoa, espresso beans, slight touch of anise. There were some spicy notes with black pepper and orange peel on the palate. Definitely a long, good oaky grip finish! Simply divine...

So once you've started on Japanese whisky, you can't stop! I've been dying to try the Karuizawa series and tonight's the night! The more famous Japanese whisky distillery are Suntory and Nikka but that night I wanted my maiden taste of Karuizawa!

The Karuizawa "Noh" series was recommended by Emmanuel as I want to try one Karuizawa on every visit. This is a sherry butt from the 1995 vintage, bottled in 2008 at a staggering 63% ABV at 13 years old. When you sip the amber liquid, you can feel a burning sensation down the throat! I can take it neat all the way and thus settled for an ice ball for the rest of the whisky after a few sips neat. It's quite on the oaky side with some tangerine notes. I really recommend water to go with this or else you might need a fire extinguisher after downing the whole glass!

After I declared that I have enough for the night, Emmanuel pulled out this bottle and insisted that we drink a shot of this before I crawl out of this place! Since it was on him, I would be glad to try out the Solstice Benriach 15. Honestly, I think I had too much to drink and I really couldn't remember how it tasted like! Oops...

As you can see, I did have quite a number of glasses. Was actually quite spoilt as there were some whiskies I didn't like and I didn't finish them. But lucky, Ervin was there to drink everything! So none whisky was wasted in the process.

This is really a wonderful place to go if you're really into whisky. But even if you're not, it's still a wonderful place to hang out with vintage-leather sofas and a room for some cigars! You know what I really love about the bar?!! They serve roasted sheets of seaweed to go with the whisky and oh boy, the taste of seaweed compliments the whisky so wonderfully well!

Auld Alliance
Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street,
#01-08, 187996
Tel: +65 6337 2201

Monday, June 27, 2011

Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2011

Just some updates on the run that I did yesterday at the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2011. It was my first time taking part in a run and before this, I never truly understand the joy of running or even a marathon. Every year, I'll be wondering what's the fuss over a marathon and why so many people are so enthusiastic to run?!!

We were there as early at 6am!

Occasionally I used to go for a morning walk or a little run with my dear friend Emily. I've only started to take running a little more seriously 2 months ago when my colleague managed to "con"-vinced me into taking part in the SC Marathon which was held on 26th July 2011. After paying for the registration fees, I've decided to train more seriously to make sure that I'm now throwing RM70 into the drain. I've to make sure that I will at least collect my 1st medal by making it to the finish line in one piece.

The race started in Jalan Parlimen and it was hell trying to find a place to park the car as the roads were closed as early as 6am sharp. I woke up at 4.30am! Lucky we all have a colleague who drove and he managed to find a place to park and join us in time for the run. There were altogether 22000 participants this year and it looks like the number of runners are ever increasing.

It was quite a challenge for me to finish the 10km as I've always been doing either 5km or 7km. Last Thursday was my 1st ever attempt to complete 10km in my neighbourhood which translates to 15 rounds around the place I'm staying. It took me almost 1 hour and 25 minutes to finish and I think I finished almost the same time in the run yesterday.

10km! Woot!

Everyone had fun!

I felt so good after the race. It's like an adrenaline rush and looks like I'll be registering in the coming Penang Bridge 10km run! Hopefully after a few more of 10km, I can be fit enough for a half marathon next time!

After that, we had a hearty breakfast at Petaling Street, starting with some comfort food of Hon Kee Porridge. To celebrate my 1st run, at night my friend invited me to a Japanese restaurant (which I would be writing about it soon) and we had some Krug champange, followed by some nice Japanese whisky and sake! Cheers... (my legs were in pain today!)

And the results are out....

I managed to finish at 1 hour and 24 minutes, ranked 530 out of the 3910 runners in the Open Women 10km Category.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Communication is Key!

Q: What do you call a relationship that can be measured with miles?
A: A long distance relationship!

Lame I know... I made that up. But anyways, back to the topic of having a long distance relationship, my views are pretty bleak at first. I used to think that this type of relationship doesn't work in reality. Keeping a relationship alive across the miles is no easy task and romance would probably be the last thing one should expect out of it.

There are a lot of sacrifices tied to a long distance relationship. Imagine the times where you can be there for the other partner when he or she needs you. There will be no hugs, cuddling, kisses and hands holding when both are miles apart. The distance would dampened the romance. I've always thought that the physical bonding aspect in a relationship is vital but I might be wrong. There were many relationships I've seen that is able to withstand time and distance and I finally knew what kept them going.

Despite what the world has always been telling us, that the world is getting smaller, however the miles apart from our loved ones is still a challenge to the relationship!

I was told that COMMUNICATION is the key to keeping the relationship alive! A telephone call is all what is needed to connect the hearts apart. Couples always overlooked the importance of a healthy conversation and many arguments are created due to lacked of effective communication. Texts are good for a short message but sometimes they could be misleading and it's always better to hear the voice rather than the click of the keypad.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Garuda Padang @ Orchard Central Singapore

I haven't been really adventurous when it comes to Indonesian cuisine and the ones that I've always been having is the ayam penyet and gado-gado. Recently when I'm in Singapore, I have a chance to try Garuda Padang, which is a apparently a popular place for some Padang cuisine in the republic.

Padang cuisine in general is the cuisine of the Minangkabau people and they are usually the spicy dishes. The way the padang cuisine is served is that all the dishes are on display and you choose whatever dishes you like and they will serve you the rice to go with it. Usually the dishes are in small portions, depending on the number of people having it.

Garuda Padang was started in Medan and the outlets in Singapore are the only franchises outside of Indonesia. The first restaurant is opened in 1976 and the business has definitely expanded as this is really a popular joint for some comfort food! The deco is pretty similar in all outlets as the main theme is white. I must say that I really like the bright ambiance and it makes all the dishes looked so good!

You can always start with the Jus Alpokat ($6) which is a popular Indonesian fruit - Avocado, blended and added with chocolate! Or you can opt for a refreshing Jus Serai Bermadu ($5) which is a lemongrass juice. The Avocado juice is really not my kinda drink as I find it a bit too thick and rich!

One of the must try in my opinion is this Ayam Goreng Bumbu ($5.30/pc). This is a very good piece of fried chicken served with heaps of fried blue ginger floss which goes so well with white rice! It's fragrant and the best thing was - the meat wasn't dry.

The other dishes that I managed to try that day includes the Tahu Goreng Bumbu Nenas which is fried tofu served with pineapples and peanut sauce. It's like a salad with lots of vege but the peanut sauce gives it a savoury flavour. The Pergedil Daging Sapi or potato croquette with minced beef is also recommended as it is fried to a crispy outer layer and it tastes like our chinese version of a fried dim sum dumpling.

What I really like is the Rendang Daging Sapi which is a Beef Rendang. I love the succulent and tender beef pieces and the wonderful aroma of the spices. Although it looks a little oily, the cholesterol was really worth it! The morning glory with sambal is also very good.

The grilled squid was done very well too as it wasn't overcooked and it's still succulent and tender unlike some that makes you chew like it's a piece of gum. I had a feeling that a bulk of the bill will come from this dish, the same scenario when we have our Nasi Kandar here in KL. haha...

I really don't have any complaints for the lunch I had that day although it hurts the pocket as this meal for two came up to about $70+. It's not cheap but I was really happy with the food served here. According to my friend who frequents Indonesia often, the Garuda Padang there is even much better! The funny thing is - I don't really see local Singaporeans frequenting this outlet and most of them here are usually Indonesians. Hmm...

Garuda Padang - Orchard Central

Orchard Central #07-07/08
181 Orchard Road
Singapore 238896
(Opposite Centrepoint)

Tel : +65 6735 4111
Fax : +65 6735 4222

Daily Opening Hours
11:30AM - 10:00PM (Last order: 9:30PM)
(Including Chinese New Year & Public Holidays)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pork Cracklings : R Lapid's Chicharon @ Philippines

Pork Cracklings is one of my favourite snacks besides the usual potato chips. And recently when I was in the Philippines and while waiting for the driver, I saw this kiosk outside the S&R supermarket selling pork cracklings or Chicharon (the way they called there) and my colleague told me that this R. Lapid's is really popular.

R. Lapid’s is one of the largest manufacturer of Chicharon in the Philippines and they even offer franchising for these kiosks. It was started in 1974 by a Filipino entrepreneur with a notable name and long years of experience in the Chicharon and Barbeque industry.

The pork cracklings looked really crispy and tempting and thus I bought two packets. The biggest pack is selling at 65 pesos which is about RM4+. It's not very cheap but it's difficult to come across these snacks in KL and thus I have to buy it!

The pork cracklings as I have expected was really crispy! And there is a packet of vinegar provided to compliment the pork cracklings as they may taste quite bland by itself.

I also couldn't resist buying a packet of these fried pork intestines. Eating them by itself is kinda weird as I prefer them to go with my porridge. It's a bit too salty for my liking.

I'm really happy with the pork cracklings as they are really good! If you happen to be in Philippines, do look out for this R Lapid's Chicharon kiosks and buy a packet to try. You can view the list of stores here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roam, Roam Roammmmm....

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I'm so busy!!

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Taiwan (101) Restaurant @ Jalan Imbi KL

Somehow I had a feeling that people will be asking me that why I'm still having Taiwanese cuisine despite the recent news of the ban of Taiwanese food products tainted with toxic chemicals such as di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) and di-isononyl phthalate (DINP). Oh well, look at it this way, I've been consuming helluva other toxic products that I might not have realised and this one meal is not going to kill me instantly right?!!

This Taiwan 101 Restaurant is not to be mistaken with the other Taiwanese Restaurant called Fong Lye on Jalan Imbi which is just a few doors away. Located on the same road, this restaurant is just right after Overseas Restaurant with a green signboard.

Taiwan 101 Restaurant

This place looks rather empty and I must say that in KL or everywhere else, an empty restaurant is always not a good sign. Either the food is not good or it's too expensive. Therefore I went in without any expectations. The owner cum chef, James Wang greeted us. He's a Taiwanese and this restaurant has been there for 2 years which I've never realised! haha...

Chateau Barde-Haut 2008

One downside of this place is that they do not have wine glasses but they have these petite beer glasses that are so cute! We used it to drink the red wine my friend bought that night and it was a new experience. The Chateau Barde Haut 2008 is a sexy wine. It's soft, elegant, and full of pleasure. You can taste the black fruits, licorice and coffee. This wine is full bodied, long palate and has black fruit filled aftertaste.

The owner speaks only Mandarin and lucky I was able to converse with him with my "average" mandarin vocabulary and he was quite shocked that I can't read in chinese! haha... But don't worry as the menu has English translation too. What you'll missed out is the conversation with the owner to know more about his cuisine and restaurant.

The appetisers

These are the standard appetisers consisting of braised pig ears, braised egg, cold beancurd and seaweed. The pig ears are surprisingly tender and very addictive. According to James, his restaurant serves really authentic Taiwanese cuisine because the chef is Taiwanese and most of the ingredients are imported directly from Taiwan unlike other restaurants which uses local ingredients and hire local chefs.

The highlight would be this "San Pei Ji" which is literally translated to 3 cups chicken because there are 3 main ingredients involved in cooking this dish. When the dish came, the sweet fragrance from the basil leaves filled the room. There were not much saltiness in this dish compared to the same dish elsewhere. According to James, the secret lies in the soya sauce that they used. It was imported fron Taiwan and he showed my friends and I the bottle and it did smell different! This is a must try!

This is the restaurant's Special Beancurd. As explained to me, they make this fresh and even the soya beans are grinded by themselves and thus this dish will take sometime to prepare. The special thing about this beancurd is that there is no preservatives used and thus the rough texture. The specialty lies in the sauce. If you eat the beancurd as it is, it's bland but if you have it with the sauce, it has a rich stock and some saltiness taste. The level of saltiness depends on the amount of sauce you take it with.

This is the popular Taiwanese Minced Pork Rice. It was very good as the minced pork were really fragrant. The lacking in quality is the rice as they couldn't import any rice from taiwan and thus they have to make do with the Thailand Fragrant Rice. The way to eat this is to mix the rice and minced pork well.

I forgot the name of this vege but it was recommended by James and it was really delicious. It was really crunchy and just look at the beautiful greens!

The last one was the dessert. It's a herbal jelly (not guilin gao) but it's a different type served with milk and hasma. At first I declined to have dessert but after some persuasion, I tried and I love it! I even had two of this. If you order this before the meal, it'll be RM6 but if you order after the meal it'll be RM8!

I'm quite surprised with the food as I didn't expect it to turn out so well. It's really a different experience I had among so many Taiwanese restaurant in KL and I must say that this place is worth another visit!

Taiwan 101 Restaurant
No.80, Jalan Imbi,
55100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +603-2144 9158

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eggs anyone? @ Philippines

My flight to Manila this time was really interesting. Firstly, I had a guy suddenly walk up to me at boarding gate and lifted my luggage from the back to be pushed through the scanner. I was quite surprised because in the first place, I didn't need any help. Maybe he was just being a gentleman. but he kept on asking which hotel I'm staying at. Then I was surprised that no one sat in between of me and another passenger though I was told the flight is full. Then, suddenly the air steward came and asked me if I mind a gentleman came and sat beside me and it happened to be the guy who lifted my bag. Scary! During the whole journey, I just read my Times magazine and sleep so that I don't need to have any conversations with him.

I had to wait in line to use the lavatory and at the galley, stood a very good looking air steward with a well-built body frame. Just before my turn, he went in and clean up the lavatory for me to use. It was a very nice and professional act. Then, I requested for a copy of The Star newspaper. The same good looking air steward came back and he whispered to me, "Sorry mdm, I couldn't get you the star but I got you The Star newspapers!" Lol.. I was speechless. Yes, cheesy but I'm happy. hahah....

There, I was served a plate of eggs....

Ok... I think I knew what those eggs were! I would love to try the balut when in the philippines. And they go "huh?!! really?!!" and I said yeah! And these eggs on the table that greeted me were indeed balut eggs. Well, in a nutshell, balut is a boiled, fertilized egg, a popular food in the Philippines which is sold by the street vendors and it's only 7 pesos each. Apparently, the balut is taken as an aphrodisiac especially for men!

I was quite hungry actually. And I can't wait for the meeting to be over to eat some eggs! We used some hot water to warm up the eggs as the eggs are already cooked.

To eat it, you'll have to knock the rounded end of the egg and start peeling from there. You're also supposed to sip the broth around the embryo as you start peeling the shell. The broth tasted like chicken stock. I didn't feel any unpleasantness from it.

Wait till you finish peeling the whole egg. There are actually 3 parts of the fertilized egg. There's the egg part that looks like hard boiled egg yolk (with veins) and the stone part which has an unappetizing cartilaginous toughness. I did not take it due to the hardy texture. The main part is where the young chick is. It's soft and slippery.

I must say that eating the young chick part was quite a challenge as you can see the intestines and feathers that surrounded that part of the egg. Well, I must say that I've been quite brave to eat it in 3 bites. Even some people dare not do it as they will usually eat the whole thing in one bite. The texture is gooey like how an offal would taste like. And the taste is something like a hard-boiled egg yolk except that it's jelly-like. You can also eat it with salt and vinegar.

The tip for 1st time eating it is to not look at the egg when you eat it so that it doesn't look that disgusting. When you start looking hard, you'll find the beak, the eyes and the head! Then you won't want to eat at all!

Enjoy the video. That is my 2nd egg. I'm glad I wasn't scared to eat it and I have gotten over the fear factor! But now I doubt anyone would want to kiss me now...

And I think I'm overdose on eggs that day. I had scrambled eggs at the lounge for breakfast, I had eggs in the plane, and then I had another 2 baluts. My cholesterol must be on the highest level!


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