Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Korea Trip, Nov 2015 - Short Trip to Seoul

Star Wars Exhibit at Changi Airport T3
For a period of time, the force is everywhere!

Your thoughts become things! - Rhonda Byrne

I wanted to go back to Seoul this year for a shopping holiday in November, but I shelved the plan because of a few other plans. Anyway, Bro had a work trip to Seoul in November and he can always help me fulfill my shopping list. 

In a interesting turn of event, I was on the plane to Seoul for a last minute work trip and Bro decided a few weeks earlier to cancel his travel plans (same day, same flight timing, same airline).

As things turn out, in less than 48 hours after my tickets had been issued, I am in Seoul Incheon Airport, drinking banana milk I got from GS25 while waiting for my airport limousine bus to Gangnam. 

Some local dishes that I've tried and took pictures of. 

Pumpkin Soup
I forget about my love for pumpkin soup until I saw the dish in the hotel breakfast selection. I had 2 bowls of which and therefore there's lesser pity when the hotel menu switched to corn soup and cauliflower soup (seriously?) for the next 2 days. Yums!

Bulgogi Stew
I think the portions in Korea are big! 

Traditional Korean dessert at Hanmiri at Gangnam Financial Center
Ok, I'm proven wrong. The fine dining portions are still small. 

The center part is marinated raw beef but taste oh-so-good. 

More Bimbibap & Pancakes

Tosokchon Sangyetang
This is a famous Sangyetang restaurant near Changdeokgong / Insadong located inside a traditional Korean house where we seat on wooden heated floors for our meal. I found the roads vaguely familiar and turn out its because I walked through them in my last trip. The ginseng wine with the Sangyetang is good!

Yellow Chicken Korean Fried Chicken & Beer
According to the Koreans, BBQ meat and everything goes well with Soju, Korean pancakes goes well with Makkoli and fried chicken goes well with beer. I will say - when in Rome do as locals do. Yes! Happy Birthday to me!

Shop over Food
The 2 hour shopping is the highlight of my trip since I didn't flew in earlier or extend my trip. Grabbed a macaron ice cream sandwich from Paris Baguette, and shopping commence! So I conquer Olive Young, Aritaumn, Tool Cool for School, Banila Co and Face Shop, Daiso, Gangnam underground shopping area and convenient stores and celebrated my spree with another round of fried chicken and beer for supper. Fantastic evening! 

Snacks Grab
Daiso in Korea is surprisingly find for snacks, other than that convenient stores. I had originally intended to recce but found myself drawn to the snack section. The teokbokki crackers that I like is not found in convenient stores near the hotel I stayed in and I couldn't find the time to go to Lotte Mart. 

Myeong Dong
Just the same view from Myeongdong subway station Exit 6 as I remembered. 

Osulloc (Myeong Dong Exit 6, approx 200m beside McDonald)
On my last morning, I managed a 40 min break to re-visit and enjoy my favourite green tea freeze with ice cream and green tea tiramisu at Osulloc. They are just as good as I remember! Seriously. The green tea freeze is one of the best I've tried so far, and it's richly flavoured and not sweet at all. Highly recommended! In fact, I spotted tourists buying cartons of their best selling Wedding green tea back. 

Osulloc Almond Green Tea Sable and Wedding Tea

The almond green tea cookies are very nice! They couldn't be kept for long though. And in the middle is a pack of their Wedding Tea.

Not in Pics
Just as memorable and not in pictures are the cafe visits after each meal (Koreans love their coffee fix), Recognising Samsung HQ in Suwon while waiting with my coffee (my FYP thesis is on Samsung and I thought vaguely that the buildings looks like Samsung Innovation Center and turn out it is), a traffic congestion and therefore some more info on Han River, Seoul educational system - Seouldae, Edae, Yongdae, Hongdae etc, electrical cars, and property and car prices in Seoul.  

Caffe Bene
I reached the boarding gate <5 mins before the scheduled flight departure time and it turns out that the flight was slightly delayed for 15 mins due to some radar reception problem in Incheon airport and hence afforded me my last cup of green tea latte at Caffe Bene which is a only a minute walk away. I heard that Caffe Bene is now available in SG at Vivocity too.  

Red Carpet Cheesecake Ice Cream
My trip end exceptionally well because of this ice cream. I thought it's discontinued as I can't find it in Singapore or Seoul but looks like it's not. Yeah! 

Seoul, I'll be back soon! 

P/S: Be Merry, folks!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

London Fat Duck at Scotts Square

I always thank my lucky stars for many good folks in my life - and one high up in my list is the sweetest BFF.

You know a BFF is for keeps where she unconditionally support me in all my endeavors and planned out pampering sessions when she knows I'm busy. And we reward ourselves with good food after which.  

London Fat Duck
London Fat Duck is a Hong Kong style eatery specializing in roasted meat (especially their signature duck dish). I got to know of this place thanks to my cute colleague F who constantly shares all the latest and good food eateries with me. F complains relentlessly about the lousy customer service she received during her last visit to London Fat Duck for a gathering but still tell me to give it a try at least once. And so the rest is history, and documented in this blog post.  Haha! 

Hong Kong Cracking Pork Belly
I wasn't usually a pork belly fan but decided to try it because it's cracking - according to its name on the menu. The verdict? The skin is crispy and and the whole piece of pork belly really cracks with each bite. Not bad!

Century Egg with Minced Meat Congee
This is (surprise) major love for us - we simply love the smooth silky congee where not a single grain of rice can be seen. Taste wise it's the perfect balance in my opinion - not too bland nor too salty. It looks deceivingly healthy but taste extremely good. In fact I highly recommend it. (According to F, she ordered the congee the week before but find the grain were coarse and taste were weak and bland - perhaps the cook was in bad shape then?).

Shrimp Wanton Soup
We ordered the shrimp wanton soup with much higher expectations. To be honest, it's quite average and probably an alternative if you want some soupy dish. I'll say just skip this calories altogether and you won't miss anything. Or try the wonton noodles because everyone else seem to be ordering that.

Signature London Fat Duck
How can we not try their speciality roasted duck? The duck skin is thin and crispy while the meat is tender n juicy. Highly recommended.  

Custard Salted Egg Yolk Bun
I really like this. The bun is soft n fluffy and custard salted egg yolk filling just ooze out with every single bite. The best part is the salted egg yolk doesn't overwhelm the taste and texture of the smooth custard filling. Yum! Highly recommended!

Overall, I think London Fat Duck is still very much worth the calories for a try if you are near the area. The customer service is nothing to shout about and the dishes were cleared the moment the last piece was taken from the plate but the servers are never unpleasant - in fact they are very apologetic when a fellow customer in wheelchair accidentally knocked into my chair during my meal. 

London Fat Duck is located at Scotts Square Basement 1.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Taiwan Trip, May 2015 - Wu Chang Temple, JiJi Train Station & Che Cheng Station

After Monster Village, our driver drop by Wuchang Temple on the way to JiJi train station (集集火車站). It wasn't in our original itinerary but since it's around the area, we drop by for a look. 

Wuchang Temple (武昌宮) in Jiji, Nantou
Wuchang temple collapsed in the 921 Earthquake in 1999 and the temple was kept in the state after the earthquake as a monument to reminder (and tourist attraction) of the devastating earthquake where 2,415 people were killed, over 11,000 injured and damages over billion dollars loss to the country. 

Beautiful Ruins
The temple look surprisingly new for its age. It is interesting how the roof remained somewhat intact considering that most of the walls and beams had collapsed from the effect of the 7.3 Richter scale earthquake. 

So off we went to the  JiJi train station! 

JiJi Train Station, Nantou
JiJi is located in the west of Nantou, characterized by Japanese era train architecture in its small town and bananas. Everything is slow and peaceful here.   

According to Wiki, cycling is a popular tourist activity in Jiji, probably explaining the number of bicycle rental shops in the town. We did not see alot of cylist though. 

JiJi Windmill Garden
There's a small old school entertainment park in JiJi. Old school is the word - because this is definitely something we don't see in Singapore. 

Old School Fun
The cute plush caught the attention of my nephew who insisted on playing multiple rounds. My niece looks pretty worried though. Haha!

Carton King
There's Carton King shop in the town too. We didn't drop by, having visited their main theme parks and other branches in previous trips.

Going Banana!
Banana is one of the local produce there and there's a few stores selling handmade banana egg rolls. Their egg roll is pretty fragrant and tasty!

And off we go to CheCheng (車埕)!

CheCheng Wood Museum
To be honest, there's nothing much in the museum. For more information please read up on Tripadvisor. Haha! P/S: I do appreciate the Lavender Cottage shop in this area. 

CheCheng Train Station
The area around the train station is quite beautiful. Think railway tracks along lovely lavender bloom. It's great for a stroll after lunch!

Loving the Lavender Blooms

And it's time for Taichung City for our apartment for the night and Feng Jia Night Market.

Grano House

Good Night All!