Saturday, May 20, 2017

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Nanjing is one of the nation's most important cities for more than a thousand years and is recognised as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Nanjing had been the world's largest city for hundreds of years. 

Inspired by the travel variety shows and the interest in Chinese history, we booked a 3-day trip to explore Nanjing, China. 

Arrived in late afternoon, we checked into a serviced apartment in XinJieKou district (新街口). XinJieKou is the Times Square of Nanjing with a shopping belt of luxury goods and great food choices. After we settled down, we went to Deji Plaza for dinner.
Originally, we wanted to try a restaurant called 南京大排档 or Nanjing Impressions, which was recommended by the Taiwanese chef-cum-TV presenter, 詹姆士. But the restaurant was already full and we had to wait at least an hour to get a table. 

Instead, we dined at another restaurant, 南京精菜馆 or Nanjing Jing Restaurant. Dressed in a Tuxedo with tails, the service staff was very professional and ushered us to our table. The interior had an old fashioned decor, bringing diners back in time. Sitting facing the stairway of the restaurant, we had a full view of a violinist playing live music to bring up the mood.

After dinner, we explored the shopping belt of Nanjing. There were lots of neon lights that were similar to Times Square. 

Day 2

We headed back to Deji Plaza for 南京大排档 or Nanjing Impressions. Opens at 11am, we arrived at 10.30am and the restaurant was already three-quarters filled with diners. Decorated like the ancient Chinese restaurant or 客站, we felt as if we were back in ancient China. The ambience was like a time capsule and every minute detail was taken into consideration, ensuring that diners had the nice cosy experience. We were amazed how delicious the dishes were. Recommended dishes include Strata Layer Steamed Cake, Osmanthus-Scented Steamed Sponge, Jinling Noodles in Light Soy Sauce Broth, Jinling Signature Salted Duck, Celestial Roast Duck Dumplings, etc.

From XinJieKou, we took a 2-hour leisure walk to the Ming City Wall, one of Nanjing's key historical and cultural remains of Ming Dynasty under state protection. Designed by Ming Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, after he founded the Ming Dynasty, is a masterpiece of China's ancient architecture.

The wall is an important cultural relic for the inscriptions on the bricks. The inscriptions on the bricks come in two forms - one is from the intellect (scholars and officials) and the other is from the artisan and folk people. From the inscriptions, we can see how Chinese characters developed, allowing us to understand the multiculturalism of the Ming Dynasty.  The characters record the changes of the wall over dynasties.

Beyond the Ming City Walls stood Xuanwu Imperial Gardens

Next stop, we went to Confucius Temple (孔子庙). At Confucius Temple pedestrian street lies a long stretch of shops and native foods.  This pedestrian street is similar to Hangzhou's HeFangJie (河坊街). Along the pedestrian streets stood the China National Museum of Imperial Examinations, a 800-year-old building to commemorate Confucius. There were at least 1,000 exhibits, showcasing the procedures and history of the imperial exams system. The imperial examination system was founded in 605 and abolished in 1905.

 
 The wall inscriptions were taken from a book by Confucius. 

 The top scholar's answer script

The museum was located underground using bamboo

The legendary Confucius Temple where many locals and tourists go and seek divinity for their children.

Within Confucius Temple Pedestrian Street, you will find a confectionery shop, selling the local cakes. They were many shapes, sizes and colours. Unable to decide, we bought every variety. Note that every variety comes in pairs. I loved the green ball with red bean paste. It was savoury and sweet at the same time. There are many tourists buying the confectionery too. 

We waited until the sky turned dark to enjoy the beautiful lightings along Qinhuai River (秦淮河).

Day 3
After visiting the key places in Nanjing, we ended our trip with a good meal at Deji Plaza again. This time, we had Hangzhou cuisine - Gui Man Lou (桂满楼南京德基广场店) which seemed to be extremely popular. People were already waiting in queue at 11am when they opened and the restaurant was already crowded. 

The restaurant has a very nice rustic interior setting that brings diners back to the ancient Chinese history. The interior gave a nice cosy feeling and their staff were extremely fast and efficient.  

Afterthoughts: Nanjing is indeed a beautiful place, rich in history and culture. I will love to visit and learn more about the beautiful city. This is the first time that I have ever explored the city. Previously, I went with a tour group to visit a few cities in China. Before I could immerse myself into the beautiful city and its wonders, I had to move to another city. Nanjing, I will see you again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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It was just two weeks ago we dined at the restaurant in Nanjing. Two weeks after, we were at Nanjing Impressions (南京大排档) at Plaza Singapura, Singapore. Opened in December 2016, the restaurant interior at Plaza Singapura is a replicate of the restaurants in Nanjing.

The restaurant offers mainly Huaiyang Cuisine (淮扬菜). I share the comparison between the two restaurants in terms of taste, texture, etc.

1. Osmanthus Rice Cake (桂花拉糕)

Nanjing: The Osmanthus rice cake has a nice flower fragrance. Placed on the leaf, the rice cake was soft and chewy. It has a nice chewy texture that is extremely delectable. Better!

Singapore: The Osmanthus rice cake has the same presentation as the one in Nanjing. The fragrance were still there but the texture was harder. I think the cake from Nanjing tasted better. 

2. Jinling Yong Chun Noodles with Soy Sauce Broth (金陵阳春面)

Nanjing: We were amazed how this simple noodle dish could be so delicious. First of all, we loved the springy, chewy texture of the noodles. The chef cooked it to prefection, the al dente style. The soy sauce broth with chopped spring onions was so simple, yet it had a nice fragrance and aroma. Better! (Food rating: 4.5/5)

Singapore: The texture of the noodles were a little soft. The soy sauce broth was identical to the one in Nanjing. I wish the noodles were chewy as the one in Nanjing. (Food rating: 3.5/5)

3. Huaiyang Sweet Strata Cake (淮扬千层油糕)

Nanjing: The Huaiyang Sweet Strata Cake was made of layers and layers of sweet strata cake. Similar to the millie-feuille, the layers were vivid and the sheets were easy to tear. Better! (Food rating: 4/5)

Singapore: Although the taste of the sweet steamed cake was similar to the one in Nanjing, the quality was so-so. Instead of enjoying the multi-layered steamed cake, the steamed cake came in thicker layers. It would be prepared with higher quality. (Food rating: 3/5)

 4. Celestial Roast Duck Dumpling (天王烤鸭包)

Nanjing: The dumpling skin was thin with at least 21 folds. Instead of minced meat, the dumplings used roast duck for its fillings. The roast duck fillings were too sweet for my liking but the meat was tender. (Food rating: 4/5)

Singapore: The dumplings seemed to have fewer folds. The skin was thick but dry. The roast duck filling could be less sweet than the Nanjing's. This is too sweet to my liking.

5. Interior

Nanjing: The interior had a nice rustic old Nanjing ambience and furniture. The staff were also donned in the clothing in the old times. It was nostalgia and beautiful.

Singapore: An exact mould from Nanjing with the same fittings and decor. 


Address (Nanjing): Deji Shopping Mall Phase 1, Level 7, No. 18, Zhongshan Road, Xuanwu District, Nanjing, China

Address (Singapore): Plaza Singapore, #04-46, 68 Orchard Road, Singapore 238839

Saturday, May 06, 2017

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Located along Upper Serangoon Road, minutes away from the Kovan MRT station, there are many shops still open after midnight. If you think that it is a quiet and sleeping neighbourhood after midnight, you are definitely wrong. Instead, the shops are crowded with people enjoying a hearty supper with their friends and loved ones.
 
After taking my leisure walks, I will stop at my regular pit stops to rest and perhaps treat myself with something good.

Poh Kee Satay

Poh Kee Satay was an established household name for its satay. The meat were grilled until it was lightly charred but retained its moisture and tenderness. The peanut with pineapple gravy was the best gravy I had ever had.

Address: 1014 Upper Serangoon Rd, Singapore 534752
Price: $
Rating: 4/5

Heng Long Teochew Porridge

A popular supper joint for porridge cooked in Teochew-style, Heng Long Teochew Porridge offers a wide variety of side dishes for you to choose from. For Teochew porridge, ordering steamed fish is definitely a must.

Address: 1006, Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534744
Price: $
Rating: 4/5

Ponggol Nasi Lemak

The Ponggol Nasi Lemak is a reputable household name for coconut rice. Even as late as after midnight, there is always a long queue of people waiting patiently to give their food orders to the servers. Self-serve, the diners will order their items of their preference, pay for the food and then carry the plate of wholesome food to their tables.

Address: 965 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534721
Price: $
Rating: 3/5

Qi Xiang Chicken Hot Pot

Follow the nice rich aroma to Qi Xiang Chicken Hot Pot. Located next to Ponggol Nasi Lemak, the shop offers Chicken Hot Pot. Pick up the ingredients you wish to cook in the hot pot and start eating. The hot pot served with chicken with thick dark sauce.

Address: 973 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534725
Price: $
Rating: 4/5

Yi Ji Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee

Cooked in rich prawn broth, Yi Ji Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee is a choice for wholesome goodness. The belacan chilli was so spicy that burns your mouth and stomach. For me, it was worth it. Paired with the noodles, the dish was ambrosial.

Address: 965 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534721
Price:$
Rating: 4/5

Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe
 
Located just above the Kovan MRT Station, Xin Wan Hong Kong Cafe opens until 3am. The restaurant remains crowded even after midnight. The food was satiable.

Address: 209 Hougang Street 21, Heartland Mall, Singapore 530209
Price: $
Rating: 2.5/5

AMK Hainanese Abalone Minced Meat Noodles

Located within Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre, you will find AMK Hainanese Abalone Minced Meat noodles.

Address: 965 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534721
Price: $
Rating: 2/5
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After a 8km leisure walk, we went to one of our rest stops at Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe along Upper Serangoon Road. The cafe opens until 3am in the morning. 

I ordered a serving of soft-boiled eggs that went well with dark soy sauce and pepper. I broke the eggs, drizzled the condiments and stirred the mixture evenly. The eggs had runny and curd-like white and the yolk was runny. The texture was superb. (Food rating: 3/5)


Chicken Macaroni Soup was quite a disappointment. Expecting the noodle soup would taste better than instant noodles but it was identical to instant noodles with ingredients. The ingredients were good but the broth tasted as if it was made from chicken stock cube. I could not finish the noodles. (Food rating: 1.5/5)


Egg noodles with Luncheon Meat and Fried Egg was ordinary and served as a good staple. As for the taste, I felt that it is just okay. (Food rating: 2.5/5)


Prawn Paste Chicken was chicken cubes coated with prawn paste and flour being they were deep fried to reddish brown colour. The dish came with a bowl of sweet and sour chilli sauce. I would recommend sharing the food as I got queasy after the second piece. It was too salty and oily for my liking. (Food rating: 2.5/5)


Of course, not forgetting the beverage and dessert. The Milk Tea was too sweet for my liking, however, there was a nice buttery milky aroma in the tea. I had to add water into the beverage so that I can enjoy the beverage. The Mango Shaved Ice on the other hand was huge. The taste was so-so. The mango bits were small topped with mango flavoured ice cream. The mango syrup was so-so as well. (Food rating: 2/5)





Address: 209 Hougang Street 21, Heartland Mall, Singapore 530209
Price: $
Rating: 2.5/5
Stuffness Level (How full you are): 4.5/5
Recommended dishes: soft boiled eggs.
Ambience: The restaurant was crowded with diners even after midnight. The noise level could be deafening.

Friday, May 05, 2017

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Located in Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre, there is a stall selling Hainanese Abalone Minced Meat Noodles. I used to order a bowl of yellow flat noodles with spicy chilli for supper every time I went for my night walks. 

Recently, I started walking again and made a pit stop at Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre. It was already late in the night and the food centre was already crowded with people. 

Like always, I ordered a bowl of noodles, dry with chilli. However, I became disappointed. 

The noodles were a little sloggy and the sauces were a little off. The lean meat were freshly cooked. I wished it was a good as before. I was really disappointed. For noodles like this, apart of fresh ingredients, the texture of the noodles, the sauces both plays a pivotal role in making the dish a success or a failure.



Address: 965 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534721
Price: $
Rating: 2/5 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

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It was almost 9.30pm when I was famished after working late. Tenderfresh was still serving customers and close as late as 11pm on weekdays. I ordered myself a Honey Glazed BBQ Whole Spring Chicken served with chips (French Fries) and garden salad. 

I must say that the chicken was grilled perfectly, giving the carcass a very nice sweet aroma and tender juicy meat. Every part of the chicken was easily torn apart and every piece of meat were dripping with juice. As for the French Fries, the thickness and size were just nice, especially when every strip were evenly coated with salt. The salad was equally good with fresh greens and nice salad sauce. (Food rating: 3.5/5)

Apart from dining at Tenderfresh, ordering takeouts are getting more and more convenient. Now, we have three main food delivery companies that served my district. I could order food with a click of a button. 

I have ordered other dishes as well. This include the French Style Whole Spring Chicken, Grilled White Snapper with Mushroom Cream Sauce and a plain Aglio Olio. It was a pity that I was busy with the food that I have forgotten to take pictures. 

Compared to the Honey Glazed Whole Spring Chicken, the French Style Whole Spring Chicken somehow lost an edge. The meat was still tender and juicy but the marinade was just not there. (Food rating: 2.5/5)

The Grilled White Snapper with Mushroom Cream Sauce, on the other hand, caught my attention. The fish was fresh and nicely grilled, giving a nice golden brown colour. The mushroom cream sauce was nice and it helped to mask any fishy smell and taste, if there is. (Food rating: 3.5/5)

The Plain Aglio Olio was amazing. A simple dish served with spaghetti cooked in al dente style and seasoning. The spaghetti had a nice 'springy' texture that was superb. (Food rating: 3.5/5)


Address: Waterway Point, #B2-04, 83 Punggol Central, Singapore 828761
Rating: 3.5/5
Price: $
Recommended dishes include Honey Glazed Whole Spring Chicken, Plain Aglio Olio and Grilled White Snapper with Mushroom Cream Sauce.
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Flame Grilled Chicken (above), priced at $9.50, was extremely affordable. What I love about this dish was that the chicken were charboiled, making it tender and juicy. The chicken paired with the brown Chicken gravy were a delight. We should also not forget the blanched carrots lightly drizzled with salt and pepper. They were very good. (Food rating: 4.5/5)

Grilled Pepper Chicken, priced at $9.50, were charboiled and grilled, giving a tender, juicy chicken meat with nice BBQ aroma. The hot pepper sauce was served with a small cup. To be frank, I love to eat the tender fresh chicken on its own. (Food rating: 4.5/5)

The sizzling hot Macaroni and Cheese was surely a recommended dish. The macaroni cooked with the restaurant's signature cheese sauce tasted so good. The macaroni were cooked in al dente style, leaving it chewy and retaining its texture. The cheese sauce was velvety, rich and flavourful. Together, they were a great combination. As for the price, it is affordable at $6.50. (Food rating: 5/5)

The traditional Caesar Salad, priced at $6.90, were one of our favourite starters at Buddy Hoagies. The Romaine Lettuce were fresh and crunchy, the salad sauce was just nice and the croutons were crunchy and crispy. Overall, the salad was delicious. (Food rating: 4/5)

Read more about other postings on Buddy Hoagies.

Address: Waterway Point, #02-22, 83 Punggol Central, Singapore 828761
Price: $
Rating: 4.5/5
Ambience: A simple dining restaurant suitable for family dinners and gatherings.
Recommended dishes include Caesar Salad, Macaroni and Cheese, Flame Grilled Chicken, Grilled Pepper Chicken, Pan Fried Fish Fillet, Ribeye Steak and Rosti and Grilled Sausage.

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