Since magic wok (aka Jack, aka Darren) already brought it up, I might as well spill the beans. I also went to Botak Jones for their famed triple patty burger. Ben and Gen had been talking it up for ages, but I hadn't quite felt up to it.
Botak Jones was set up by resident bald american, Bernie Utchenik, and serves good ol' american grub. The interesting thing is that its actually a hawker stall chain with all its branches in HDB (Public Housing) heartlands!
After spending part of the evening exploring Mustafa Departmental Store (Singapore's very own 24 hour departmental store that literally sells EVERYTHING and ANYTHING under the sun and moon), I decided tonight was the night! Sometimes you just have a craving for hamburgers, and oh yes, I had the craving, I felt I was going to ravage the burger, and leave a trail of destruction in my path.
Off we went, to Block 608, Ang Mo Kio, Avenue 5. When we got there, it was packed! And we were told it would be an hours wait for our food! Unfazed, we set about deciding what to order. I was ready to obliterate a cow, and so were my foodie group. We ordered, between the 5 of us, a salad, 5 triple patty burgers, and a cheese hot dog wrapped in bacon.
Just the sight of the thing was worth the wait. I mean I was there for the experience as much as the food. Here was an american food stall in the heartlands that even sold merchandise like caps and T-shirts bearing their motto, "Damn good food at a damn good price!" The paradox of capitalism in a somewhat socialist setting. Look at that beast .... ...
It was all systems go ... ready to rock and roll ...
A side note on darren. The first time I got to know magic wok (his bowling callsign) was over supper in london. At something like 2AM in the morning, he systematically dismantled two steamed crabs! (I thought to myself, who eats crabs at 2AM!!???) The common thread in our friendship has got to be a willingness to travel anywhere for food, with the shortest of notices, and the minimum planning. I've got to give it to him, look at how neatly and systematically he approached his burger. It's no mean feat I assure you. We took a while figuring out how we were going to do it.
I ... am ... a messy burger eater ... but hey look ... I finished mine! All of it! Dummm deee dummm.... don't bother straining your eyes ... it's just fries on the plate.
What's the verdict? Well, I liked the burger. You could definitely taste the quality of the patty, the shitake mushrooms were beautiful, and the runny egg, exquisite! Ben and Gen thought the sentosa burger was better, and I might be inclined to agree with them, but for the salt content in Donna's creations! At the end of the day though, it was the experience of eating proper american food in the heartlands, with entertaining and enthusiastic servers like Irya here that did it for me.
Yeah ... I'll be back ... and not just to prove that I can actually finish the burger (Darren, just you wait!)
As if indulging in a rich italian meal was not enough, on Saturday night, I had to go for hot pot! I had arranged a mini-reunion with some of my friends from LSE, and they happened to choose what is only my favourite restaurant in the whole wide world. The magic of chong qing hot pot! YUUMMMMMMMMMYYY!!!!
For the un-initiated, thats mala huo guo, or mala hot pot. The hot pot originated from Chong Qing, and you get to choose between a chicken based soup, or a red hot spicy option.
The magic of chong qing hot pot which is located on the fourth floor of Tanglin Shopping Centre is the orginal mala huo guo. Don't bother with the copy cats and cheap imitators at beach road, this is the place it all began (I've been patronising for about a decade)!
Lunchtime is where you get the most bang for your buck. For something like 16.90+++, you get an all you can eat buffet which is expansive to say the least. The best thing is its an ala carte style buffet, and the ingridients are really fresh. Ahhh the streaky baconnn .... thats great heart attack food right there ....
They call this place the "magic of chong qing hot pot" for a reason. There is a distinct hurt so good feeling you'll go through in the morning that'll make it ALLLL worth it. Yes I lurvee this place so much, if you're a good friend of mine, it's like baptising our friendship to come here .... hehe .... :-P
The eating din't stop there! On sunday night, off it was to Denka's place for BBQ. Seriously, 63 Branksome Road, is definitely BBQ central. We've had countless BBQ parties since I got back, and it's always a great opportunity to catch up.
Notably, one of our friends (I'm so privileged to know him), Ray was recently featured as a "modale" on FHM. Yes, suave, sexy ray juan of portugese and philippino descent, CEO of JR concepts, counts amongst his many talents, male modelling. Girls, did I mention he drives a beemerrr? When he first got it, he pulled up into the driveway of Far East Plaza, with his cap, music blaring out, nodded to us, twinkle in his eye and all, and drove offf!!!
We got a signed copy! Yayyy!
TO offset the eating, I did do sommee excercise .... KTV!!!! Yes, that is the second thing Denka's parties are good for. He's got an excellent on-demand system with all the latest songs, and I was well up for it, having not gone for a good number of months.
KTV is about singing as much as it is about listening to other people sing. There are all kinds, people who don't exactly sound like andy lau but have a great time singing it (Amos Kwok) to singers who execute a song so flawlessly, you wonder how much time they've spent practicing!
Ezann is of the latter company. She sings with such ease and exuberance, I offered in jest to produce her album should she want to quit acting. Here she is gamely posing whilst singing. Yes, she is a natural in front of the camera. The next sun yan zi! Chase your dreams!
A weekend of non stop eating was capped by an evening of song and laughter. I may have taken a step back in my quest for hunky dory ming, but hey, it was all worth it.
p.s. I learnt of a new song during KTV. Really nice. Check it out. The imagery and power of chinese songs simply cannot be outdone by english ones.
If you feel it in your heart, and you understand me. Stop right where you are, everybody sing along with me!
Not everything goes according to plan. After my last blog entry, I lost discipline and went on a three night eating spree. It wasn't my fault I swear!
On friday night, I had dinner with my dear friend Lynn, to celebrate her birthday which had just passed. Its amazing how hard it is to get a table at a good restaurant these days. I was feeling italian, and thought she might enjoy it, so I called up three separate restaurants, in the afternoon, and ALL said they were full for the night. I was actually quite eager to try out this place called OSO Ristorante, which I had heard rave reviews about, and my eagerness was enhanced by the italian accent that greeted me when I called up. It was the boss himself!!! "Yesss mistreee tonng, I am afraid we can only give you a table at seven thirrrty." That's a picture of Mr OSO below. Funny guy.
Lynn is the operations manager of a spa chain. I checked back to see if we could make it in time, and I thought it would be cutting it a little fine, so I called back with my mock italian accent, all ready. You can imagine my dissapointment then, when a singaporean picked up instead, "Hullo mr tong ah ... orrhh ok ... will tell my boss" truly anti climatic.
Running out of ideas, I called up my brother for recommendations. My brother is officially the food guru of Singapore. He has set up what is undoubtedly Singapore's premier restaurant resource on the web. It's called blurbme. Its a site that mixes peer reviews and social networking. So the reviews that you get off the site are real people talking about real experiences. It's a brilliant idea really, and one that I'm sure will take off.
He recommended this place called il-lido to me, citing the ambience as being top notch and food comparable to OSO. If you go to Il-Lido, try to get a slot just when dusk is settling in, and get a table on the outside.
We were relegated to the inside. Which is also quite nice lah huh.
The prices at il lido are actually quite reasonable. A main goes for between 30-50 sing, and an appetiser between 15-25. If you're famished though, you might want to try the 250 bucks set menu. Hehehe, lucky lynn wasnt feeling that hungry! Otherwise, I would have lost alot of weight (from the sweat) ... Anyway, we had an order of clamari for starters, and for the main course Lynn chose a mushroom rissotto, while I chose a lobster linguini. Yes, I know, we are boring people!
It was a good meal. Lynn loved her risotto, the creamier the better according to her (She eats alot, and she loves fried chicken wings). My lobster linguni hit the right notes too. They say the trick to a great pasta is in the tomato base, and this was pretty decent.
Its funny how we've all grown up and matured. Not too long ago, the only question we'd ask ourselves was "How are we going to have fun today?" Literally, every day passed and I would call Lynn out and say, want to do this? Or that? 9 out of 10 times, she would be game, and we'd set off on our little adventure together. Nowadays, busy bee lynn is always on the phone when we go out! And her little black organiser follows her everywhere! Tonight was no exception, but I found myself, smiling at the thought of it, and when I got a phone call from my business partner tiam amidst dinner, I realised I had grown too.
One of our past adventures I remember, was sampling every Tiramisu singapore had to offer. We'd go EVERWHERE, walk into random cafes and say, do you have tiramisu, all in a bid to find the best. We thought we'd keep a little tradition alive and so it was a straight forward choice what desert we were sharing (We were absoloutely stuffed).
The verdict? Pretty darnnn good! The dark chocolate shavings on top were glorious (I lurvee dark chocolate). Overall, I've got to give the thumbs up to this place. The food from start to end was close to flawless (although we had been very safe in our choices). The service was attentive although not overly so, even though we practically had our own waiter! And the ambience is settling.
When I got the bill, I also found out about another service the restaurant was promoting. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the high seas, on board a luxury yacht! For 800 bucks, you get the yacht for 6 hours, and of course, you'd have to pay for the cost of your meal too. Both lynn and I were pretty excited about the prospect, and since we've matured, perhaps our adventures should mature too ... hehehe. Tiam, I say we charge it to the netccentric corporate card!!! Letss gooo!!! Sun tan, caviar, and dom!
The evening was capped off, with drinks with ben and gen, at the RC hotel. I'd chosen the place wanting some jazz. Instead we were treated to an old man band and a hotel guest who decided to indulge us ... ... hehe. A consolation though was that the last song of the evening was my favourite song of all time. Save the last dance for me. This song is theee bommbbb! Definitely on my wedding song playlist!
Oh I know that the music's fine Like sparklin' wine,go and have your fun Laugh and sing,but while we're apart Don't give your heart to anyone But don't forget who's takin' you home And in whose arms you're gonna be So darlin' save the last dance for me
When you are so confident that you can let the one you love go, and she'll return to you for the last dance (The only one that truly matters), thats when you know. So don't forget who's taking you home and in who's arms you're gonna be, so darling save the last dance for me!
Back in the day, I used to swim competitively for Tanglin Club and my school, ACS. I would train day and night, swim a thousand laps a week (No, really), all in anticipation of district and national finals. Swimming, like most other sports is a mental battle as much as a physical one. The endless laps are meant to condition your body and perfect your techniques, but doing that alone will never win you races. I mean, everybody trained just as hard, and yet only a select few ever come up tops. I believe I know what did it for me, those times I won. It is this.
You've seen jaws the movie right? Well, I always imagined, the guy swimming behind was coming after me, closing in, and if I looked back, or stopped for even a split second, I would be swallowed up, and would lose. The competitions I won, I raced for my life, every ounce of energy going into every purposeful stroke. I din't look back, I din't stop kicking or stroking, heck sometimes I din't even breathe, I just swam, all the way till my fingers touched the end of the pool. Only then, did I look up. The thrill to know you have come in first, and have decimated the competition is something I truly miss.
In any case, all this has a point. Recently, I've found myself a new obsession. Bodybuilding. Nooo ... I'm not going to be one of those vein popping freaks that scare the pants out of your grandmother. But, damn, look at Vicent Ng's Abs ....
Yes that is what I'm talking about. It is purely insane how he has built up that body. But guess what??? I'm a man on a mission!!! Vincent says ten weeks, I say eight! By January next year, I'm going to be hunky dory Ming (Maybe not as hunky as him lahhhh)!
My motivation??? One determined bull of an ex swimmer, Mr Benjamin Chan. My dear friend decided to embark on a little competition with me. I dunno when it happened, but after I had started going to the gym for a while, he started his own routine, and has been going for three days straight!!! My sources also tell me, he's hired himself a personal trainer, and cut down on his diet too. I feel the presence of this guy close behind me, and I'm going to kick and stroke with all my life to ensure I win the race!
After eating fried chicken with Arya and Gen today (The woman had casting vote, her fault!), I went to my favourite store, Kinokuniya, and discovered there the one advantage I have over you my friend. Booksss! Ah ben really does not see the advantages of reading books, and can't comprehend why I spend so much money on them. Mwahahahaha, that will be your downfall!
For anyone thinking of getting Vincent Ng's book, "Ten", I highly recommend it. It only costs 25 bucks, and after having scanned the book, comes with many useful nuggets of information.
For example, by the first chaper, I had discovered how to calculate my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Basically speaking, god's gift to all of us. It's the energy we burn by living our daily lives. I burn approximately 2317 calories a day.
For men: It's 67 + (13.728 x weight in kg) + (508 x height in metres) - (6.9 x age)
For women: It's 661 + (9.636 x weight in kg) + (175.2 x height in metres) - (4.7 x age)
Yes, apparently the heavier you are! The more you burn! YAYYYYYYYYYY!!!! Or not ....
Anyway, in addition to vincent's book, my favourite magazine has now switched from "Nuts" (which sadly I cannot get in singapore) to "Men's health"!
Bye bye to great title pullers like "Saucy Undies" and "Cheeky Fishnets" ... sigh ...
It's all about "Six Pack Abs in 5 easy steps"! ... mwahahahahhaah ...
Hey ... wait a minute, what's this article about phone sex doing in here? Hmmnnnn .... oh really ... uh huh .... ohhh so thats how you do it ....
I think I could get used to this new life of mine after all ....
With our itch for adventure, satisfied tummies, a rudimentary map and no clue, we set off for a "car ride". We thought about it for a while, and then concluded hiking up a waterfall could be quite a cool way to spend the rest of the afternoon. Remembering vaguely, that as a child, my parents had brought me to this place called Kotta Tinggi, we set off in the general direction, following the very informative road signs. Malaysia Boleh!!!
The Malaysian road network has got to be one of the most confusing in the world. The road signs would point to Kotta Tingi, we would follow it, there would then follow a very noticeable lack of signage, by which time we would find ourselves back where we started. The road map that I had wasn't helping either. It was actually a simple map of the state of johor with the major trunk roads shown, but little else. As a result, we had to rely on instinct and my general knowledge of the area, which Darren found amusing to dispute.
Ming- Err magic wok (his bowling nickname) .... I hate to tell you this, but we're going in the wrong direction. Darren- What makes you say that? I've got a feeling we are going in the right direction. This feels right. Ming- Err, well, we passed the carrefour on the left, and the malaysia telekom building is on the right. Therefore, that way is north. We're supposed to be going east. Darren- No no no, we are actually south of carrefour ... therefore we are going in the right direction (He conveniently changes the geography to suit his needs) After 15 minutes a sign pops out ... Darren- Oh ok ... (makes a u turn) The able navigator, takes a sweet out of the glove compartment and rewards himself ... mwahahahah ...
We must have wasted about a good hour plus trying to get on ther right road, but we finally did. Ah, this looks more like it, the scenic route.
Long before the North-South highway appeared, I remember travelling up roads like these to KL. Bumpy as hell, but the fruit stalls, vegetable farmers (carrying baskets on their shoulders), and natural lavatories made it an experience I remember fondly. We used to go up in convoys of 5 cars, family friends, kids and all. We went all over. To KL, Ipoh, Genting, Cameron Highlands., Penang. This happened almost every year, and we would do lots of stuff like jungle trekking, horse riding, shit like that. These two girls, Karen and Michelle (Below at a recent dinner at my place), my sister and me even formed a club ... ... we called it the mickey mouse club .... yes I know ... I was a sad sad kid! Hahahahahahah ... my brother was way too cool to join.
Anyway, after travelling along that country road for about an hour and a half, we came to a crossroads. To the left, the sign pointed to Kota Tinggi, to the right Desaru. Not sure which one the waterfall was, I chose Desaru, thinking it rang more of a bell.
Malaysians will know I was wrong (Darren insisted I spit out the sweet as a punishment, but it was long gone). Desaru, is a stretch of 22KM long beach. After having spent quite alot of my time on sentosa's beaches, you would think I'd be sick of it. But no ... this is quite something else. The expanse of the beach is quite amazing. The sand is soft, and the waveeess! There were people surfing on them. I really did have half a mind of joining them, but realised I hadnt brought my beachwear.
It's a sad story that is repeated all throughout malaysia. Desaru is a natural beauty that Singapore never had and will probably never rival, and yet the potential of the place is just neglected to such a degree. Tanjung, siloso and Palawan beach, being manmade beaches could never compare to the raw beauty of Desaru. But add in amenities like resort style toilets, foodcourts, bars, landscaped walkways, piped bose music, and what a place it becomes. Desaru's public facilities on the other hand ... are far from desirable.
I had to pay 30 sen to get into this toilet! Which very frankly, was nothing short of skank, and the kind of place I'd go to film my horror movie (I'm making a movie someday soon btw).
And check out the "BBQ pit" ... ...
Depressed by the state of public facilities, we decided to head down the road to a resort we had seen on the way in for some respite.
Now, that's more like it!
Over a drink of pink guava, I poured through the brochure and room rates and started planning my own GREAT MALAYSIAN ROAD TRIP! Yes, yes, recruitment begins soon, I'm going to get a bunch of people, load them up into three or four cars, and off we go around the east coast, then back down the west ...! WHO's WITH ME!!??? Dun lidat lah! Malaysia Boleh leh!
Anyway, it was getting late, and I had promised my mum to join the family at my favourite restaurant in Singapore for dinner! CHONG QING HOT POT! Gooood ol' ass burning fun. On the way back, all these songs from our high school era started playing over the radio.
Me and darren started reminiscing AC days when we would call up 98.7FM, and request a song. Like "Hullo, I'd like to dedicate this song to all my classmates in sec 2B1, study hard for prelims, good luck, and also to my girlfriend, I heart you long long" ... hahahahahaha ... shit, those were the days. Days which held simple joys and expectations. Days not very different from today. Thank god we started out the day without a plan!