Adventures, Lifestyle

Why I Changed My Mind About Sentosa – Vanessa Tai

If you think Sentosa is just a tourist trap, you probably haven’t checked out all the exciting attractions the island has to offer. Vanessa Tai tells you which ones to zoom in on.

As a child, going to Sentosa was such a treat for my brother and I. We would constantly bug our parents to take us to the beach, to Fantasy Island, to the wax museum, and so on. Even as a teenager, my friends and I were there almost every other weekend to perfect our tans. However, as I got older and busier, somehow going to Sentosa didn’t seem as appealing anymore. There always seemed to be another more entertaining option elsewhere.

However, I completely changed my view of Sentosa during a recent visit with fellow co-founders Deborah and Lili. As you may know, the island recently underwent a marketing campaign where they’ve branded themselves as “The State of Fun.” And truly, there are so many different attractions and entertainment options available on the island now, one day doesn’t seem like enough. From high-octane activities like the Megazip or iFly to something more sedate like unwinding with a piña colada at Coastes, you’ll surely find something that hits that sweet spot.

Here are 4 activities you should check out:

If you’re with a date, Megazip

Picture this: You’re strapped to a harness and hoisted to a zip-line, 75m above ground. Within seconds, you’re whizzing along at 60km/h for 450m, feeling the wind in your face and hair as the scenery races past you. How thrilling is that!? This is why I highly recommend doing this with a date. It’s fun and exciting, and gives you a heady rush of adrenaline. Studies have shown that during the attraction phase of love, adrenaline is one of those powerful neurotransmitters that contribute to that lovey-dovey feeling. So, no harm having an additional shot of adrenaline to keep those feel-good feelings alive, eh?

Still need convincing? Check out this video of Deborah, Lili and I going on the “flight of our lives!”


If you’re with friends, Luge

material world_luge

A luge is sort of a hybrid of a sled and a go-kart, and comes with three wheels. It’s pretty simple to maneuver – you push the handlebars forward to accelerate and backwards to slow down. However, I’m actually a bit of a coward when it comes to operating any form of vehicle (my dismal go-karting performance is a running family joke) so I felt a familiar nervousness when I entered the luge.

My fears were unfounded once I actually started my descent down the hill. While you can control how fast you can go, the maximum speed is nothing too scary, even when you’re going downhill, and I soon found myself enjoying this leisurely ride down. In fact, I wished there were more people around me so I could race them! This is why I reckon it’ll be plenty of fun to go with a group of friends so you can race each other down the hill.

If you’re with your family, Sentosa 4D Adventure + Wings of Time 

photo 1

Have plenty of young cousins or nephews and nieces? Round them up and surprise them with a trip to the Sentosa 4D Adventure. There are four different simulator rides available here. Rock, bounce, and bump your way through various scenarios – from being a part of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island to the climactic fight scene between Green Lantern and an evil alien force.

material world_green lantern 4d

The younger ones  will also be enthralled by the Wings of Time, which is a mesmerising display of water, fire, and laser effects. Personally, I found the first part of the show – where real-life actors were singing and rallying the crowd – a little too overwhelming. But when the lights dimmed and the multimedia effects kicked in, I soon found myself enjoying the multi-sensorial experience, especially the (spoiler alert) fireworks at the end.

If you’re with your gal pals, Stand Up Paddleboarding

Having had so much fun at Sentosa the previous weekend, the three of us decided to return the following week to try our hand at Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP). Prior to this first lesson, I’ve never tried SUP before but soon discovered it’s like a combination of rowing and surfing. Our instructor Isabelle, who’s also the owner of Stand Up Paddling School, was friendly and patient, offering helpful tips throughout the lesson. I was nursing a hangover on the day of the lesson so I was admittedly not the best student, but Deborah thoroughly enjoyed herself.

If you and your girlfriends are tired of your gym or yoga routine and are looking for a new way to keep fit together, I reckon SUP is great for building overall balance and strength. Plus, you’re sure to get a gorgeous sun-kissed glow!

photo 3

These are just several suggestions of what The State Of Fun has to offer; there are so many other little nooks and crannies yet to be explored. I’m sure we’ll be back soon!

While we were there, we saw a banner that said “The land of eternal sunshine”. Of course, cynics may dismiss this by saying, “But it rains all the time in Singapore!” However, I choose to believe this is actually referring to the sunshine in your heart, because after each exhilarating visit to the island, you leave feeling lighter and more carefree.

Material World was invited by Sentosa to review some of its attractions. This post was neither paid for nor advised by Sentosa. All opinions are the author’s own. 

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

Standard
Food News, Lifestyle

4 Food and Drinks You’re Consuming Wrongly – Denise Li

Probably the most eye-opening article you will read today. By Denise Li

Having visited Japan and Europe this year, I learnt quite a few things about eating and drinking the following things and quite frankly, I was #mindblown.

1. Belgian beer … or any other kind of craft beer, really

20140826_185007

You can live your entire life drinking a different Belgian beer every day (starting from when you turn a legal age to do so, of course) without sampling all the beers that Belgium has to offer. That’s cos they have at least 90,000 breweries in the country alone, and most brands produce more than one type of beer. Having just spent a lot of my time on my recent trip to Belgium in bars, I learnt a lot about how to pour the perfect beer and, as it turns out, a lot of us (even bartenders here in Singapore) have been doing it wrong all along. As it’s a rather complicated process (who knew?), it’d be easier to break it down in point form.

(i) The glass: You’ll notice that there is a variety of glassware for beers in Belgium. Some are shaped like goblets, others are shaped like chalices, and yet others are tulip-shaped. These serve more than just an aesthetic or branding purposes; they’re actually the result of careful research and experimentation by the beer brewers to find out which shape best brings out the taste of the beer. So the next time you’re having a Belgian craft beer at a bar, be sure to reject any glass that’s not the same brand as the beer you’re drinking.

(ii) The pour: Bartenders in Belgium would wet the glass with cold water before tapping or pouring beer into it. Not only is this practice in the best interests of hygiene (it gets rid of any dust or dishwasher residue), it also ensures a better pour. Pouring beer into a dry glass causes more carbon dioxide to come out of the beer and create unnecessary foam.

(iii) The head: Don’t complain if you see Belgian bartenders serving you beer with a large head. That, too, serves a useful purpose. Not only does a large head mean that your beer will continue to release its aromatics as you sip your beer, it also prevents your beer from oxidising too quickly and changing its taste.

2. Xiao long bao

XLB

From a food tasting at Din Tai Fung some time back, I learnt that there is a “right” way to eat xiao long bao as well. Before that day, I tended to just dip it in vinegar. But for a more balanced flavour, the management actually recommended that the dipping sauce be mixed in a 60/40 vinegar to soya sauce ratio. Since I started mixing soya sauce in my vinegar, I found that I could better taste the meaty broth in the XLB. Also, for many of us, eating XLB is a messy affair because when we first bite into it, the soup spurts out onto the spoon and we often find ourselves just shoving the whole thing into our mouths. The right way to eat it, apparently, is to first bite off the top of the XLB and slurping up the broth before proceeding to eat the rest of it.

2. Sushi

mmmsushi

Every time you mix the wasabi into the soya sauce, then proceed to drunk the rice part of the sushi into the mix, rest assured that there is a Japanese person observing you and cringing on the inside. When you eat sushi at higher end Japanese restaurants, the sushi chef would have already placed some wasabi in between the fish and the rice so it’s unnecessary to pile more on top of it (it’s akin to smothering an expensive, well-prepared steak in ketchup). And you’re not supposed to dip the sushi rice side down into the soya sauce because it will absorb too much of the sauce, resulting in the sushi being too salty and soggy. Instead, dip the sushi fish side down in the soy sauce, and put the whole thing in your mouth – don’t bite off half the sushi. Also, the ginger slices are NOT to be eaten with sushi but between different pieces of sushi to function as a palate cleanser.

4. The bread basket at French restaurants

bread

I was in Paris recently and it didn’t matter whether I was dining at a casual bistro or a more formal restaurant, if there was one thing I could be sure of, it was that a basket of bread would appear on the table with my wine. Italian and French restaurants in Singapore do it too, and I always assumed it was a starter – why else would it arrive with my drink? When I was eating in Paris though, I noticed I was the only one munching on the bread before my food arrived. Turns out, the bread is supposed to function more as an accompaniment to your meal. For instance, you could spread your steak tartare on it and enjoy it that way or, if your dish is sauced-based, you can use the bread to mop it up you’ve finished your meal.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys training in MMA, and doing conditioning workouts. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets and Instagram @smackeral83.

Standard
Adventures, Lifestyle

Why You Need To Start Saving For a Trip to Iceland NOW – Denise Li

Iceland has more than the Northern Lights and volcanoes … although those are pretty spectacular too, says Denise Li.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say “Iceland”? I’m guessing Bjork, Sigur Ros, the Northern Lights, that volcano with an unpronounceable name (Eyjafjallajokull) that caused aviation havoc when it erupted in 2010, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In fact, it was after watching that particular movie that my fiance Alain and I decided to look for cheap flights to Reykjavik during my recent European sojourn.

We were there for just four days … way too short to experience even a fraction of what Iceland has to offer, so I’m definitely going to start an “Iceland fund” just so I have a chance to visit it again in the future. Iceland is not exactly what you’d call budget-friendly, but the experiences are one-of-a-kind and definitely worth blowing your yearly bonus on.

Admittedly, our trip was pretty spontaneous, so we didn’t plan for it as well as we should (nor did we allocate a big enough of a budget to do some truly adventurous things), but I’ve gleaned a clearer idea of what I would like to do on my next trip. Without further ado, I present to you, what I think are truly compelling reasons to visit the land of ice and fire.

1. It has a low population density

Iceland has a population of just 320,000 (just 6 percent of Singapore’s current population!), despite being the size of Hungary and Portugal combined, and it’s also the most sparsely populated country in Europe. If, like me, you travel to get away from urban living and hordes of people, Iceland is the perfect destination. In fact, with just a 10 minute drive out of Reyjavik, you will find yourself driving for awhile without seeing another car on the road.

2. It’s a great place for self-guided tours

Driving was easy – what we did was to buy an Iceland sim card so we had access to Google Maps, planned our route the night before with all the stops we wanted to make, and off we went. For the more adventurous and experienced drivers among you, you might want to consider hiring a four-wheel drive so you can really go off-road and explore.

3. The friendly people

I once visited a beautiful country in the Asian region. Rich in history and with beautiful landscapes and destinations, my experience of it was marred by numerous encounters with rude locals and being ripped off at every turn. The people living in the country can really make or break your experience of visiting it, but all the Icelanders we spoke to were friendly and helpful, and had a dry sense of humour that Alain and I really appreciated.

4. The myriad opportunities for hiking

If you’re an avid hiker, you’ll find yourself in paradise when you set foot in Iceland. Where else would you have the opportunity to trek up volcanoes and on glaciers? For beginner hikers, there are lots of lowland trails for you to walk on as well. Mount Esja, around the Reykjavik area, is a popular hiking area. Just drive out, park your car somewhere and, well, walk. There are lots of clearly marked trails everywhere for you to follow.

5. The beautiful landscape

Iceland is, simply, a place of indescribable beauty, and since it’s indescribable, I think these pictures will better do a better job at showcasing what I saw.

Clearly marked hiking trails

Clearly marked hiking trails

The majestic Gulfoss waterfall

The majestic Gulfoss waterfall

Vik i Myrdal - a black sand beach

Vik i Myrdal – a black sand beach

Kerio Crater

Kerio Crater

What we were disappointed by …

Our whale-watching experience: This is something you can do straight from Reykjavik – all you need to do is walk to the port and sign up just before the boat sets sail. Although tour operators claim that there is a 90 percent chance you will see a whale on their tour, sadly, no whales were sighted although Alain and I went out to sea TWICE. We did, however, see a couple of dolphins during our second attempt. If whale-watching is a priority on your travel agenda, try your luck in Husavik, located in the northern region of Iceland – this is supposedly the best area to spot these magnificent creatures.

Blue Lagoon: The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located close to Reykjavik that you can bathe in. It’s pretty, but Alain and I we were put off by the pricey entry fees and the hordes of tourists. If you really need a soak, go to the tourist information office (there are many in Reykjavik) for recommendations on less crowded/touristy ones to visit.

If you have to chance to stay longer than 4 days in Iceland as we did – and I reckon that you’ll need at least 10 days to really explore what this amazing country has to offer – here are some of the other activities you can consider doing …

1. Snorkel or dive at Silfra

Located in the Thingvellir National Park (about a 45-minute drive from Reykjavik). Silfra is known as being one of the top dive sites in the world. Not only does it have underwater visibility of 100m (with water so pristine you can even drink it!), it’s also located between the North American and Eurasian continents. You can dive IN BETWEEN the two tectonic plates!

2. Visit the Vatnajokull National Park

The park covers 13 percent of Iceland and is the largest glacier in the world outside of the Arctics. Here, you’ll have many opportunities to see seals, wild reindeer, and exotic birds with your own two eyes. You can also drive a snowmobile and learn more about the unique geographical features – volcanoes and glaciers – of the region.

For flights to Iceland from Singapore, check out Finnair or KLM.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys training in MMA, and doing conditioning workouts. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets and Instagram @smackeral83.

Standard
Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

8 Awesome Airbnb Stays You May Not Know About – Deborah Tan

When traveling, we all want to fly cheap and stay at affordable, fabulous places with oodles of personality and character. These places, listed on Airbnb, are what you’ll want to check out for that getaway coming right up after this F1 weekend.

Magical places don’t have to be located in Europe or Africa. Asia is home to lots of interesting apartments, villas and houses too. With over 40,000 visitors set to descend upon Singapore for the F1, perhaps you can consider a short getaway during or after the F1 season? Below, 8 awesome listings on Airbnb you cannot miss.

Penang
75 minutes by plane

1.The Shophouse studio in George Town
penang01Housed in a 100+ year townhouse, this ground floor suite is newly renovated and comes with ensuite bathroom, kitchen and dining area. You get a queen-sized  bed and a convertible sofa so this studio can comfortably house 3 people. A stone’s throw away from delicious Penang hawker food, the owner will provide a food map for your eating convenience too!

2. Heritage Zone Chinese Shop House
penang02Beautifully renovated Chinese shophouse, the ground floor is a designer jewellery shop currently used by the owner’s friend. Plenty of restaurants and bars around the area, the property is just round the corner from famed cafe China House The listing states that the room comes with a bathroom with rain shower, 600 DVDs, cookbooks for those who want to try their hands at whipping up a meal, books, board games and a Mac.

Kuala Lumpur
55 minutes by plane

1. Luxe 1 Bedroom Next To Twin Towers at KLCC
kl01
This stylish apartment is situated right next to the Petronas Twin Towers as well as the 50-acre KLCC Park. It’s a spacious 1-bedroom at 60sq ft and comes with a fully-equipped kitchen and separate living area. Staying at this apartment also gives you access to the gym, tennis court, BBQ pit, sauna, etc.

Bangkok
135 minutes by plane

1. Room Near MRT Pharam 9+Wifi Pocket
bangkok01Although the listing says “room”, you actually get the entire apartment to yourself. It’s a 1-bedroom with a queen-sized bed and 1 sofa bed. The apartment is tastefully decorated! The Phra Ram 9 station is just 8 minutes’ walk away and the apartment building has  a convenience store that opens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Bali
150 minutes by plane

1. Villa Zaina 3-bedroom Seminyak-Bali
bali01
Located a minute’s walk from Legian, this villa has 3 bedrooms and houses up to 6 people (although you have to pay an extra $42/night after the 4th guest). It has its own private pool. All bedrooms come with their own ensuite bathrooms and queen-sized beds. The villa has its own kitchen with a gas cook top and has a dining area with an extendable table.

2. Private 2-bedroom villa in Sanur
bali02
Accommodates up to 4 guests with no extra charges for extra guest, Villa Sapa is located in Sanur, known for its sandy white beaches and for being a quiet, relaxed village. Each bathroom has an outdoor shower. The villa also has an outdoor shower where you can wash the sand away before entering the property. Guests are given a mobile phone so they can easily contact the manager to arrange for stuff like taxis and tours.

Jakarta
95 minutes by plane

1. The Bonty – Your Home in Jakarta
jakarta01Located within walking distance of Kemang (a trendy part of Jakarta), this listing is a room in a house for rent. The room has a king-sized bed and has its own bathroom. The house is part of a walled residential complex of about 20 houses and has a garden, pool, security and service. Dog-lovers will love this listing since the owner has 2 dogs – a golden retriever (loves!) and a Beagle mix.

Hong Kong
3 hours 42 minutes by plane

1. Tong Lau Tree House Old Hong Kong
hk01
A property located in a Chinese tenement buidling in Kowloon, this apartment presents a photo opportunity everywhere you turn. Comes with a queen-sized bed, the listing states that it is possible to house up to 6 people (extra charges for any guests after the first 2). The apartment also has a 1.4m 4-legged bathtub along with a whole range of organic bath products.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She can’t wait to go to Bali again! Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Standard
Home & Design, Lifestyle, Self-Improvement

6 Floral Arrangement Hacks For Newbies – Vanessa Tai

Floral arrangement is no longer an old-fashioned pastime for housewives or “aunties”. According to Jaclyn Lim, founder & florist of Bloomroom.sg, more young and house-proud Singaporeans are buying flowers to display in their homes. Intrigued? Consider this your cheat sheet. By Vanessa Tai

In the past, Singaporeans will only think of buying flowers on special occasions such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries or Valentine’s Day. “However,” says Jaclyn, “lifestyle habits have since evolved and now young professionals (mostly women) are buying flowers to spruce up their home or simply to banish Monday blues.”

Contrary to popular belief, floral arrangement is not that expensive a hobby. Jaclyn explains, “Flowers are not exactly cheap in Singapore as most varieties are imported. But it is possible to mix expensive flowers like hydrangeas with more affordable blooms like baby’s breath or sweet william to achieve your desired effect.”

Oh, and if you think floral arrangement sounds like too much of a hassle, just give it a try and you may find yourself reaping its therapeutic benefits! Jaclyn says, “I think anyone can do flowers, even if they don’t feel particularly creative. For example, I noticed students who were easily stressed out started by holding on to flowers tightly, which created tightly bunched arrangements. However, over time, they loosened up and let go of their grip. The floral arrangements started to look more natural and were in fact, very lovely. So, any personality type can work with flowers … in fact, working with flowers may actually shape your personality!”

bloomroom1

Getting Started

You can pick-up floral arranging tips from your regular florist, YouTube videos, and floral arrangement books. Then, start by buying fresh flowers to experiment with at home. For flowers such as lilies, roses, gerberas, chrysanthemums, and sunflowers, you can find them at your wet markets or supermarkets. To get more premium blooms such as dahlias, peonies, ranunculuses, and alstroemerias, you’ll need to visit an established florist.

Choosing Your Flowers

For a complete floral arrangement, you’ll need the following:

  1. Focal flowers: These are largest blooms in your arrangement and are often the centre of attraction. Examples include roses, gerberas, sunflowers, and tulips.
  2. Filler flowers: Typically, these are smaller than the focal flowers and are usually in clusters. Examples include sweet william, baby’s breath, and wildflowers.
  3. Textural flowers: For variations in height, directions or textures, you can add these to your arrangement. Examples include hypericum berries, billy buttons, matthiolas, and lotus pods.
  4. Foliage: The greens to provide support for your flowers, for example, eucalyptus leaves or ruscus leaves.

Prepping Your Flowers

  1. Remove flowers from packaging/cellophane wrapping.
  2. Clean your lower stems of thorns and leaves that fall below the water line. Submerged leaves will rot and cause bacteria to form. However, if you keep the water in the vase clear, your flowers will last longer.
  3. Cut stems at a sharp angle to create more surface areas on the stem. This increases water absorption, and again keep flowers fresh longer.

Floral Arrangement: Decoded

  1. Have an idea of what you are planning to create. For example, have a shape of the intended arrangement in mind, know what vase you’re planning to use, and the flowers that complement it.
  2. Work with only one type of flower at a time. Start with the biggest (more dominant) flowers because they can help to create the basic shape of the arrangement/bouquet, before going on to the filler flowers (smaller clusters of flowers) to fill up the arrangement. From there, you can continue filling up the “holes” in the arrangement with some greens.
  3. Try not to use even number of flowers (2, 4, 6) because the bouquet/arrangement can end up overly traditional/symmetrical. 3 or 5 are great to work with for a livelier bouquet.
  4. Always take a step back. When you’re busy adding flowers, you may be obsessed with the task at hand and forget about looking at the arrangement as a whole. You need take a step back, breathe, and judge the composition.
  5. Know when to stop. Sometimes, it can be tempting to keep adding flowers. One way to know when to stop is when there are no more obvious holes exposing the floral foam in the arrangement. Remember, it doesn’t have to be PERFECT. As long as you like it and it makes you happy, that’s enough.
  6. Go with the flow. By experimenting with different styles, you’ll get to learn how different flowers work within an arrangement. From there, you’ll also develop your own style.

bloomroom3

Tools: 

  1. Sharp florist shears (MOST IMPORTANT): A sharp edge is desirable, not only because it is easier to cut the materials, but a sharp, even cut will allow water to enter the flower stems. A ragged, crushed cut edge may inhibit water and food absorption, causing your flowers to fade faster.
  2. Pruners: These are useful to cut woodier branches, like large eucalyptus leaves or wax flowers.
  3. Floral foam (optional): If you’re planning to create an actual flower arrangement in a wide-mouthed container, like a colander, you need to cut the floral foam to size, lay it in the container and use sticky tape to hold it in place. Available at florists.
  4. Floral tape (optional): This is great for making a tape grid to keep flowers in place.
  5. Plant Food (optional)

How to keep fresh blooms longer: 

  1. Change water every other day to ensure the flowers get fresh water that is devoid of any bacteria growth. Be sure to re-cut the stems at a 45-degree angle to ensure maximum absorption of water.
  2. ​Place the flowers in the coolest corner of the room, out of direct sunlight. They will last longer.
  3. Dissolve a pack of commercial flower food in the water to help cut flowers last longer. Chrysal packs are readily available in Singapore.

Get fresh flowers delivered right to your doorstep!

 

There’s something immediately calming and charming about having fresh blooms in the house. If you’ll like to have fresh flowers delivered to your home each week, register your interest here!

Current delivery areas:

  • Monday evenings: Tampines/Pasir Ris/Simei
  • Tuesday evenings: Serangoon/Braddell/Toa Payoh
  • Wednesday evenings: Hougang
  • Thursday evenings:  Sengkang/Punggol/Yio Chu Kang
  • Saturday afternoons: Joo Chiat/Marine Parade/Siglap/Telok Kurau

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

Standard
Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

8 Secrets Taipei Is Hiding From You – Deborah Tan

Chances are, you’ve been to Taipei and have your own list of favorite haunts to hit up for food and shopping. But the city is still worth discovering. Deborah Tan, a seven-time visitor, recently visited the city (again) and found some new surprises.

I love Taipei. I love the night markets because of the insane amount AND VARIETY of street food available. I love how the people there are always so friendly and, most importantly, I love how everyone makes such an effort in preserving the city’s heritage and keeping it clean and green.

Did you know that when it comes to recycling efforts in the world Taiwan tops the list?

Admittedly, I am not the most adventurous of travelers. Whenever I find myself back in a familiar city, I would stick to what I know and make very little effort to explore beyond my favorite haunts … that is unless someone else drags me around. So for my visit this time around, I’m glad I was placed in the good hands of EVA Air, Taiwan Visitors Association (TVA) and friendly fellow writers.

Here are some spots I strongly recommend you check out the next time you’re in the city … don’t say never share!

1. Check Inn
Super chic, uber cool boutique hostel

CHECKINN-118Inspired by the boutique hotels and loft apartments of New York, the owners of Check Inn wanted to create an affordable, yet stylish, stay for travelers who want to stay somewhere between an upmarket hotel and a back-to-basics backpackers hostel. Check Inn’s rooms, currently, are all twin-beds only. You’ll be impressed by the attention to detail despite the minimalist interior – the hostel uses its own Ecocert scent for its toiletries.

Check Inn is located at 253 Songjiang Road. www.checkinn.com.tw

2. Mandarin Oriental Taipei
If Paradise had a holiday address in Taiwan

MOTPE City Suite Bedroom 都會套房臥室If you’re looking to splash out, then be sure you book yourself a stay at Mandarin Oriental Taipei. Get ready to be blown away by grandeur and luxury the moment you step into the lobby. The hotel knows how to make an impression. Guests are greeted by a 1,400kg chandelier made from 50,000 pieces of crystal beads and crystal drops. The hotel is a veritable art museum as well, featuring some 1,700 pieces of art, antiques and sculptures by award-winning artists. Even the most basic suite is huge, complete with a walk-in closet and bathtub. Even if you can’t afford to stay here, be sure to at least have lunch, tea or dinner at one of Mandarin Oriental Taipei’s awesome restaurants and cake shop.

Mandarin Oriental Taipei is located at 158 Dunhua Road. www.mandarinoriental.com/taipei

3. Good Cho
Yummy bagels and awesome rusk ice cream

Good Cho Taipei Good Cho Taipei BagelsA lifestyle store cum cafe, Good Cho may seem like any upmarket hipster establishment. But hunting it down proved to be a lot of fun. Located on the former site of a military family village, Good Cho reputedly sells the best bagels in town. And it’s true. On our visit there, we tried a black pepper and cheese bagel and a brown sugar with sweet potato bagel – both had just the right amount of bite and flavor. Good Cho can also be found at Maji Square (see below) but this one located at Songqin Street is a much better hangout.

Good Cho is located at 54 Songqin Street.

4. Maji Square
Like Pasarbella … only bigger and with more food

majisquare (2)Nestled in the Taipei Expo Park’s Yuanshan Park Area, Maji Square is a project by well-known Taiwanese artiste Harlem Yu and designer Eugene Yeh. A lifestyle market featuring a street food fair, a creative bazaar, specialty shops and a performance space, the area is a hive of activity for both locals and tourists alike. I chanced upon a store selling beauty products made with organic ginger from Taichong and found myself falling in love with the scents and textures so much, I walked out with 3 hand creams.

Maji Square is located at 1 Yumen Street. www.facebook.com/majisquare

5. Fujin Street
Charming street filled with charming shops

fujintreecafe (2)A neighborhood reminiscent of New York’s Soho district, this 800m long street is home to numerous cafes, designer studios and home decor shops. The most popular cafe on this street has got to be Fujin Tree 353 Cafe. Known for its brown sugar latte, the cafe also features an in-store florist that, according to the staff, gets crazy-busy during special occasions like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

6. Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Every heritage project’s wet dream

huashan1914 (2)A former sake distillery, the area is now a heritage project that attracts art and literary giants to it. It aims to be a place where art and creativity can organically grow. Many of the activities and workshops hosted at Huashan 1914 are free to attend because the organization hopes to create a windowless classroom. At Huashan 1914, you can find cafes, restaurants, bars and shops by Taipei’s creative set.

Huashan 1914 Creative Park is located at 1 Bade Road. www.huashan1914.com

7. Taipei Fish Market
Seafood lovers, you’re in for a treat!

Taipei Fish MarketThere are many ways you can tuck into the fresh seafood here: at a restaurant, at the outdoor area or buy an attractively priced bento or sashimi set from the food market and dig in at any of the standing tables. Go hungry and be prepared for a crowd, though. No one can resist the lure of fresh, attractively priced gourmet-standard seafood.

Taipei Fish Market is located at 18 Minzu East Road.

8. Songshan Cultural Park
A fun place to explore whether you’re into art, food or shopping

Songshan Cultural ParkSimilar to Huashan 1914 Creative Park, the Songshan Cultural Park occupies the site of a former tobacco factory. The sprawling grounds include a Baroque Garden, an exhibition hall, and a shopping mall anchored by Taiwanese bookstore giant Eslite called Eslite Spectrum. On the weekend we were there, food trucks could be found on the grounds selling light bites and coffee. The area is also set to welcome the opening of a boutique hotel by Eslite at the end of 2014.

Songshan Cultural Park is located at 133 Guangfu South Road. www.songshanculturalpark.org

So if you want to take a break from checking out the night markets and Wufenpu (clothes wholesale market), these 8 recommendations are definitely worth your time and camera’s disk space!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She really likes smelly toufu. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Standard
Arts & Events, Beauty & Shopping, Drinks & Parties, Food News, Lifestyle, Makeup, Malls & Boutiques, Skincare

26 Things To Put On Your September Watchlist

From Mid-Autumn Festival and free champagne to plenty of new skincare products, looks like September is going to be one exciting month!

A is for All-Day Sun Protection

A

When you live in sunny Singapore, good sun protection is an absolute must-have. Daylong is a range of sun protection products from Switzerland, with a formulation that’s gentle enough for children (Cate Blanchett uses them on her kids!) yet offers you all-round protection from both UV rays and infrared radiation. We like its lightweight, non-greasy formula and how it doesn’t leave any whitish residue upon application. We also appreciate how it’s formulated without additional preservatives or perfumes, and is hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, making it suitable for all skin types.

Daylong is available in selected pharmacies from mid-September 2014.

B is for Beauty Cleanse’s Candyfloss Nutmylk series

B

If you’re looking for a quick, tasty, and nutritious meal replacement, you can’t go wrong with these nutmilks from Beauty Cleanse. It comes in a package of six bottles in the following flavours: Original, matcha (green tea), cocoa, coffee (decaf), black sesame and “marshmallow” (thought it tastes like marshmallow, it’s actually an ingenious blend of fruit and veggies!). All ingredients used are organic, plant-based, vegan, and raw. Dairy-free, they are great for those who are lactose-intolerant.

A package of six bottles is priced at $95. To order, visit www.beauty-cleanse.com.

C is for Crabtree & Evelyn Nail Lacquers

C

The best thing about these is that they are formulated without the toxic chemicals commonly associated with nail lacquers. Available in 12 shades from neutrals, to brights and darker shades. Each nail lacquer retails for $13 each.

For a full listing of Crabtree & Evelyn stores in Singapore, click here.

D is for Skin Destiny 

SK-II’s Skin Destiny Study is definitely giving a lot of us hope. This landmark study discovered an intrinsic link between long-term usage of SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and skin quality. It was found that users who started on the Essence in their 20s enjoyed better skin in their 30s and 40s. Long-term users also displayed no increase in major visible aging signs after age 50. At $99 for a 75ml bottle, we say this is as good a beauty investment as money can buy.

SK-II counters can be found at major department stores such as TANGS.

E is for Ecommerce 

With a whole slew of ecommerce sites launching these days, the days of running errands could well and truly be over. Serial entrepreneur Chris Chong has recently launched not one, but TWO ecommerce sites! The first GoFresh.com.sg is an online grocery service for those who want their meats, seafoods and fresh produce delivered right to their doorsteps. The second is AirClick.co, set up to help customers find and book photographers. What’s next? Personal chefs? Oh … that’s been done already.

F is for Free Champagne!

Print

You are going to love HI-SO Ladies Night at Sofitel So Singapore! Ladies will be treated to a free first glass of Ruinart Champagne between 6pm and 9pm, after which, each glass of Champagne will be at $10 nett. So for a bubbly good time with your girlfriends, swing by one of Singapore’s most beautiful hotels every Wednesday.

G is for Gourmet Escape

Fancy a trip to Western Australia where you get to enjoy the finest dining and wine experiences? Well, you can! From 12 September to 11 October, guests who dine on specially-created Western Australian dishes from either Bedrock Bar & Grill or The Pelican will stand a chance to win a trip to Perth to experience the Margaret River Gourmet Escape. This 3-day event is a foodie’s dream come true with tastings and demonstrations of some of the region’s freshest produce and fine wines.

For reservations at Bedrock Bar & Grill, call 6238 0054; for reservations at The Pelican, call 6438 0400.  

H is for Hada Labo Lotion

H

According to findings by Hada Labo, just 3 out of 10 women in Singapore use lotions as part of their skincare regime. This compared to 10 out of 10 women in Japan. The secret to dewy, fresh skin could lie in your next bottle of Hada Labo Lotion. Featuring a new generation of 4 Interlocked Hyaluronic Acids, the new lotion promises to keep your skin supercharged with hydration, even in the hard-to-reach bottom skin layer.

Hada Labo is available at Watsons islandwide. 

I is for Ioma Cell Protector SPF 50+ PA+++

I

Not only does this sunscreen provide the highest possible protection against UVA and UVB rays, it’s also formulated with the active ingredient Desoxine. Desoxine is a powerful antioxidative shield and offers three benefits: (1) Detoxifies by eliminating free radicals (2) Stimulates skin’s natural antioxidant defences, and (3) Protects cells from free radical damage. Retails for $85.

Ioma counters are located at Robinsons Orchard and Isetan Scotts.

J is for Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner

J

These two Js will be starring opposite Marion Cotillard in The Immigrant, a story set in NYC in 1921. Joaquin plays Bruno, a pimp who thrusts Marion’s character Ewa into a world of prostitution, while Jeremy plays Orlando, a stage magician and Bruno’s cousin, who becomes Ewa’s only hope of a better future. Directed by yet another J (James Gray), this period drama is definitely one to watch – it’s received several accolades at international film festivals, including Best Actress at the International Cinephile Society Awards.

The Immigrant opens Sep 14 in cinemas islandwide.

K is for Kérastase

K

If you’ve been struggling with brittle or falling strands, what you probably need is proper scalp care. At Kérastase, they believe that strong and healthy hair always starts at the scalp. This is why the brand-new Kérastase Densifique range comes fortified with a combination of B Vitamins to regulate the production of sebum on the scalp and give it the nourishment it needs for healthy, beautiful hair.

The Kérastase Densifique range is available at all Kérastase consultant salons. Call 6738 3113 for salon listings.

L is for Laneige Time Freeze Intensive Cream

L

Laneige’s adds two more products to its Time Freeze anti-ageing line: Time Freeze Intensive Cream, and Eye Serum. The line works on the principle of restoring skin’s weakened collagen structure; its Dynamic Collagen_EX technology breaks down and “upcycles” old collagen into young and healthy collagen. The line’s other active ingredient, hyaluronic acid, helps improve the appearance of wrinkles.

Laneige Time Freeze Intensive Cream and Eye Cream retail for $95 and $69 respectively. For a full store listing, click here.

M is for Mooncakes

Bliss Collection at Bakerzin

Bliss Collection at Bakerzin

Enter any shopping mall in the month of September, and you’re bound to see bright lights and plenty of vendors selling a wide variety of mooncakes at the atrium. Here are some of our choice picks this Mid-Autumn Festival:

Peony Jade

Each year, Peony Jade never fails to impress us with their spectacular mooncake offerings. We love how they always manage to come up with new and exciting flavours such as the Honey Williams pears with organic apricot and raspberries as well as Valrhona chocolate with bananas, salted caramel and walnuts.

Bakerzin

Bakerzin has rolled out three new snow skin mooncake collections – Bliss, Joy and Lush – to add to their existing range. The Bliss and Lush collections consist of slightly more unique flavours and fillings and contain alcohol (flavours include Frangelico Hazelnut Truffle Snow Skin, Whisky Truffle SNow Skin, Lychee Snow Skin and Yuzu Snow Skin), while Joy is made up of classic fillings (they include Pandan Lotus Snow Skin and Purple Sweet Potato). Founder Lili is not usually a fan of snow skin mooncakes, but she vouches for the tastiness of these new ones from Bakerzin! From $52 for box of 8, available at all Bakerzin outlets and participating booths until Sep 8.

Goodwood Park Hotel

There’s no doubt that Goodwood Park Hotel is the first hotel to come to mind when you mention the word “durian”. This year, they will be bringing back the Premium Durian Snowskin Combo, which consists of four mooncakes filled with the fresh pulp of four types of durians. There will be some new flavours inspired by tropical fruits as well – Calamansi, Kumquat and Sour Plum Snowskin Mooncakes. From $28 for 2 pieces, available at Goodwood Park Hotel Deli until Sep 8.

Yan Ting at The St. Regis Singapore

You can count on the acclaimed Cantonese restaurant for some of the most decadent mooncakes available, such as the all-new Chocolate Royal Liqueur Truffle, the popular Pure ‘Mao Shan Wang’ Durian Indulgence, as well as baked traditional mooncakes like Reduced Sugar White Lotus Paste with Macadamia Nuts. From $68 for 4 mooncakes, available at Yan Ting restaurant at level 1U, The St. Regis Singapore, until Sep 8.

N is for Night Owls Feasting

N

We are always looking for interesting places to check out for supper. Well, this month, why not check out Fish & Co.’s Supper Catch menu at Changi Airport Terminal 2? This menu is available between 11pm and 3am and features popular items like Seafood Platter for Two and Fish & Chips!

The Supper Catch menu is available at Fish & Co. at Changi Airport Terminal 2, Departure Hall, #036-058.

O is for Organic Shampoo

O

If you’re starting to notice that your hair’s thinning, the first thing you should look into is changing your shampoo. Dr Jones Organic Shampoo and Conditioner – which were developed by Canadian physician Dr Robert Jones – are free from synthetic, chemical and petroleum-derived ingredients – all of which are believed to play a part in hair loss. We liked how the shampoo cleansed well without over-drying the scalp, and it was also able to deal effectively with the problem of an itchy, sensitive scalp.

Dr Jones Organic Shampoo and Conditioner retail for $26.80 each (or $50 for a set) and are available here

P is for Personalised Monopoly

P

Revive Board Games Sundays with the latest from Monopoly! Called My Monopoly, the classic property trading game now comes with a customisable board, where you can personalise the tiles, game tokens, Chance Cards and Community Chest Cards via the My Monopoly app.

My Monopoly retails at $46.90 at all Toys “R” Us and major department stores.

Q is for Qatar Airways

Been itching to travel to far-flung destinations? This might be the chance to feed your wanderlust. Qatar Airways is having an exclusive promotion to Europe and America, with special rates from just $890! The promotion ends 2359hrs on Sep 12 (travel validity period: Aug 18 – Mar 21, 2015). Bookings can be made online, here.

R is for Rays

R

In case you missed it, a quarter of the world’s sharks and rays – including the majestic manta rays – are now at risk of extinction. To raise awareness on marine life and conservation, RWS has dedicated the month of September to highlight manta rays in their S.E.A. Aquarium’s SEAA Wonders series. Some activities include sharing sessions with underwater photography experts and conservationists, diving with manta rays, and witnessing the feeding of manta rays.

For the month of September, you can purchase 2 adult one-day admission passed to S.E.A. Aquarium at a discounted price of $50. For more information, click here. To make reservations, click here or call 6577 8899.

S is for Shima

S

Even though renowned Teppanyaki restaurant Shima recently reopened sporting a brand new look after a month-long renovation, the restaurant still retains the one-inch thick cast-iron griddles that have been in use since 34 years ago, when Shima was established – a launch that revolutionised Japanese dining in Singapore as it marks the first-ever fine-dining Teppanyaki restaurant. According to Executive Chef Michael Koh, their well-seasoned griddles not only enhance the flavours of the food but also allow for even cooking. Besides Teppanyaki, Shima also serves up sushi, sashimi, Shabu Shabu as well as Yakiniku.

Shima is located at Level 1, Goodwood Park Hotel. For reservations, call 6734 6281.

T is for Tsubaki Hair Oil

TSUBAKI - Hair Oil

Been searching for the ultimate hair oil that works to moisturise and smoothen your hair, without costing you a bomb? Look no further. Tsubaki Hair Oil is formulated with a high concentration of camellia oil, which is extracted by pressing carefully curated camellia seeds in Nagasaki, Japan. Camellia oil is highly lauded for its nourishing benefits – it prevents cuticle damage to smoothen hair strands, protects hair from UV rays, and penetrates hair quickly to add a healthy shine without leaving behind any grease.

Tsubaki Hair Oil retails for $26.90 from Sep 11, available exclusively at Watsons.

U is for Uniqlo: Now available online!

Uniqlo stores are pretty ubiquitous these days with 18 stores in Singapore alone. But just in case you’ve given up brick-and-mortar shopping altogether, you’ll be happy to know that you can now shop for your Uniqlo essentials online (desktop and mobile). To celebrate the launch of its e-commerce platform, the store will be offering exclusive online promotions for the first 11 days of September; keep a lookout for special offers on 11 different items daily.

For more information, log onto www.uniqlo.com/sg.

V is for Value-For-Money Set Meals

V - Baby Pork Back Ribs

If you work somewhere in Orchard Road, you gotta make a beeline for this brand new restaurant, SET. As the name suggests, they only serve set lunches and set dinners here. The five-course set lunch is priced at $28.80++ and the six-course set dinner, $38.80++, which is incredibly good value considering the type of dishes you’ll get. For appetisers, you’ll get inventive twists on classics such as the Mushroom Soup with Peanut Butter. It sounds weird, but the peanut butter actually lends a chunkier, more layered texture to the soup. For mains, we liked the Baby Pork Back Ribs, where the meat is painstakingly steamed then boiled with star anise and cinnamon before being roasted and slathered with Chinese BBQ sauce. For desserts, we were impressed by the Pistachio Panna Cotta, which was smooth, light and silky, almost like a tofu milk pudding.

SET is located at #02-01 Pomo, Tel: 6337 7644

W is for What A Feast!

The annual Epicurean Market at Marina Bay Sands is back! From 12 to 14 September, eat your way through award-winning nosh from celebrity chef restaurants, participate in masterclasses and bring home gourmet wines and produce from the Fresh Food Market. Epicurean Market will be held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Basement 2, Hall D & E. For more information, click here.

X is for X-cite Your Senses

Don’t you love how art is getting more and more interactive, and not just people passively looking at a piece of artwork anymore? Sensorium 360°: Contemporary Art and the Sensed World is an interactive exhibition of contemporary art that explores all aspects of the human senses. The Singapore Art Museum has put together a series of workshops — from tea-tasting to perfume-making and even to learning Braille — all to give us a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

For more details, visit the Singapore Art Museum website here.

Y is for Triangles Of Youth 

Y

There are 2 triangles of youth around each eye – the upper triangle and the lower triangle. The former refers to immediate area next to the outer corner and is where crow’s feet and droopy eyelids form. The latter is the area under your eye and is where eye bags and dark eye circles become more obvious with age. To address these problems, Clarins has launched a complete solution for your eye area to help it regain its youthful and firm appearance. Clinical evaluation shows that Clarins Extra-Firming Eye Cream can help reduce dark circles and eye bags by 7% and 13% respectively.

Visit Clarins counters at TANGS, Robinsons or Metro Paragon to find out more about this new eye cream!  

Z is for Zen’Ga

Z

If you’re looking to take your Pilates practice to the next level, check out Breathe Pilates’ newest class, Zen’Ga. This is a new form of Pilates that combines the the latest discoveries in fascia fitness techniques with Yoga flow movements. Fascia is the term used to describe the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Regular practice of Zen’Ga is said to help improve overall strength and flexibility, and giving you smoother, more fluid movement in your day-to-day life.

Breathe Pilates is located at #09-33 Novena Medical Center, 10 Sinaran Drive (8 participants); and #13-02 Parkway Centre, 1 Marine Parade Central. For more information or to make an appointment, call 9835 5683, email info@breathepilates.com.sg, or visit http://www.breathepilates.com.sg.

Standard
Arts & Events, Food News, Lifestyle

Cafe Fest 6 and 7 September 2014 : You Going?

Love your cafes? Then make sure you check out Cafe Fest next weekend! Below, Material World gives you more details about who’s participating and what awesome stuff you can expect to find.

CafeFest_Logo

Cafe-lovers, hate that there are just so many cafes to check and so little time? If so, welcome to the world’s first-ever cafe-hopping event: Cafe Fest! Conceived by public relations professionals Gabriel Tan and Sarah Lek, the event is expected to host over 4,000 cafe enthusiasts by The Waterfront Promenade. Starting at 10am on Saturday and Sunday, attendees can look forward to live performances by bands like 53A, The Sessionists and many more.

Maison Ikkoku (Photo credit: Cafe Fest)

Maison Ikkoku (Photo credit: Cafe Fest)

Participating Cafes:
(Details extracted from http://www.cafefest.sg and provided by organizers)

Speculoos Apple Crumble Tart by Bloomsbury Bakers (Photo credit: Cafe Fest)

Speculoos Apple Crumble Tart by Bloomsbury Bakers (Photo credit: Cafe Fest)

1. JIMMY MONKEY
Jimmy Monkey Cafe & Bar is an Australian-style cafe with a fully integrated bar and lounge. The cafe lives up its name, the staff are as mischievous and somewhat, wild, as the Monkey in its name. At this festival, Jimmy Monkey will be offering a new blend from his brand new hand built Slayer Machine, and this blend will be off-the-menu.

2. OZ SPECIALTY COFFEE
The cafe is also the first to directly import coffee from Pacamara Roasters in Bangkok, Thailand, which is found to have the most perfect body, flavour and aroma suit for the local palate. There will be specially created coffee brews from Oz Specialty’s bottle cold brews (with & without milk) for $4.

3. MAISON IKKOKU
Maison Ikkoku offers a menu of gastronomic delights which include an all day breakfast, gourmet sandwiches and specialty coffee. At the festival, Maison Ikkoku will be introducing new blends.

4. I AM …
I AM … is a Muslim-owned café helmed by three brothers. They are located just before the entrance of Haji Lane and impossible to miss, especially with the large black-and-white mural of one of the many bridges and canals in bicycle-friendly Amsterdam. This Amsterdam-themed café serves up nutritious European Halal cuisine.

5. TOBY’S ESTATE
Toby’s Estate started in the coffee plantations of Brazil, Guatemala and Colombia, where founder, Toby Smith learnt to grow, roast and cup coffee at the source. Want something unexpected? Then you have to try its 等一個人咖啡.

Other participating establishments include Bloomsbury Bakers (who will be selling a Speculoos Apple Crumble Tart), Cake Love, Smitten Cafe, Common Man Coffee Roasters, Tiong Bahru Bakery, The Providore and Hatter Street Bakehouse & Cafe.

A two-day cafe-hopping pass costs $20 (limited time flash sale) and $26 (VIP pass which gives you extra goodies). You may purchase your tickets here.

 

Standard
Drinks & Parties, Food News, Lifestyle

Nobody At Marina Bay Financial Centre Knows What A Good Lunch Place This Is! – Deborah Tan

It was not crowded, the food was awesome AND this place is located at Marina Bay Link Mall. We say go have lunch at Harry’s before everyone finds out! By Deborah Tan 

Harry's - Marina Bay Link Mall (interior2)

While cocktail bars in Singapore are steadily serving up critically acclaimed “bar bites”, their beer-fronted counterparts, sadly, haven’t quite distinguished themselves in the food arena. Mention “pub grub” and many will think deep-fried chicken wings, fries drowned in a tsunami of orange, cheese-flavored sauce, and oil-sodden, sorry-looking pieces of samosas.

Love Me Tandoor

Love Me Tandoor

But Harry’s is determined to change all that. Yes, it still wants to serve up grub that goes well with a mug of frothy ice-cold beer, yes, it is still a casual, fun and unpretentious place to hang out at … but it also wants to be taken seriously for food – like proper, meal-worthy, sit-down-at-a-table-with-a-fork-and-a-knife food.

And this is where the renowned Chef-Founder of The Disgruntled Chef, Daniel Sia, and his team come in. Since taking helm as Harry’s Culinary Director last year, Chef Daniel and his team have been busy updating the menu with tweaks to the old favorites and adding a couple of new creations. The updated menu will be introduced in phases to all Harry’s islandwide but if you want to sample the new dishes now, make your way to Harry’s at Marina Bay Link Mall (it’s the one at Marina Bay Financial Centre, just round the corner from Paradise Pavilion). We did our tasting there last week at lunchtime and found the place uncrowded, which means, the office crowd there has yet to stumble upon this gem of a lunch-place, yet.

Small Plates, Big Plates, Platters, Desserts
Harry’s updated menu comprises of Small Plates, Big Plates, Platters and Desserts. Small Plates refer to appetizers and finger foods, Big Plates are your main courses and salads, and Platters are larger servings of food meant to be shared among friends.

Long-time favorites Harry’s Wingmen and Love Me Tandoor have been updated in terms of the marinade and spices used. We found the chicken wings juicy on the inside with a mildly spicy batter that remained crispy even after they’ve been left out for 15 minutes. Love Me Tandoor’s yoghurt-marinated chicken skewers features tender, succulent meat packed with flavor.

Moving onto the Big Plates, we tried new-to-the-menu offerings such as Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Curried Lamb Shank and Prawn Star Pasta. The dish that made an impression on me was the Curried Lamb Shank, even though I have never been a fan of lamb shank, preferring the full-bodied flavor a rack of lamb gives instead. The curry sauce, a recipe of Chef Daniel’s, is robust without being too spicy. You get to experience the heady flavors of the curry spices played out on your palate without the searing heat of too much chilli. Together with its side of rice pilaf and raisins, this makes for a hearty, comforting lunch on a rainy afternoon.

Curried Lamb Shank

Curried Lamb Shank

From the Platters section, we sampled the Mushroom and Truffle Oil Flatbread which will remind you of crisp, thin-crust pizzas. A great alternative for those looking for something more satisfying than finger food but do not want to tuck into a full meal, the flatbreads come with a choice of toppings and are baked a-la-minute.

Flatbread with Mushroom and Truffle Oil

Flatbread with Mushroom and Truffle Oil

I don’t say this often but do leave space for desserts. Chef Daniel’s team have created 2 new desserts that are guaranteed to brighten up your workday blues. The Black Forest Sundae is a deconstruction of the classic Black Forest Cake. Its bite-size brownie squares make it a dessert that is easy to share (so you don’t feel so “guilty” after). My personal favorite, however, is the Apple & Pear Crumble – the buttery crumble crust melts in your mouth and is a perfect accompaniment to the soft, moreish cooked apple and pear chunks.

Black Forest Sundae

Black Forest Sundae

Because everyone is still pretty unaware that Harry’s at Marina Bay Link Mall is an awesome lunch venue, we suggest you head there before the secret is out.

Harry’s is located at Marina Bay Link Mall, 8A Marina Boulevard, #01-03, Ground Plaza. Tel: 6634 6318. Reservations email: reserve@harrys.com.sg .

Material World was invited to a tasting by Harry’s. This post was neither paid for nor advised by Harry’s. All opinions are the author’s own.

 

Standard
Adventures, Lifestyle

3 Ways To Go On Vacation Without Leaving The Country – Vanessa Tai

Short of going for a full-fledged staycation, are there ways to declutter your mind and experience the benefits of a vacation? Yes, says Vanessa Tai. You just need a little ingénue. 

Living in Singapore can be highly stressful. That’s part and parcel of living in a densely-populated, highly competitive city like ours. In a 2013 poll conducted by the Health Promotion Board, one in four workers admitted to being “highly stressed”. While it would be dreamy to book a flight and go for a short getaway whenever the stress levels get too high, we all know that’s not always financially viable. The next best option would be a staycation but even that can be expensive, especially on weekends.

So how can you feel like you’re on holiday while still in Singapore?

material world_relax

Here are three suggestions:

1. Check out obscure cafes or attractions in the suburbs

A few days before your “vacation”, post a status update on Facebook asking your friends to recommend cool or lesser-known cafes in their neighbourhood. Apart from the usual hipster districts like Tiong Bahru or Ann Siang Hill, there are actually plenty of hidden gems dotted all around the island. For example, Denise and her fiance once managed to entertain themselves for an entire weekend in the unassuming Jalan Besar neighbourhood!

2. Go for a photography or hiking trail

This is one of the best ways to go off the beaten track. Because aspiring shutterbugs and trekkers alike are always on the lookout for new and exciting places to explore, you may just find yourself in previously undiscovered settings. Deborah, Lili, and I used to go for regular night hikes where we ventured into muggy forests, monsoon drains, abandoned railway tracks … all in the dead of the night! Check out Meetup.com to find likeminded individuals.

3. Have a picnic

Sounds simple, but when was the last time you actually packed a picnic basket and whiled away an entire afternoon? To make things a bit more fun, don’t cop out and just get takeaway fast food. Plan ahead and pack a basketful of fruit, bread, sandwich meats and of course, a good bottle of wine. From there, all you need is a picnic mat and an iPod full of your favourite tunes, and you’re set. To avoid the crowds that tend to throng the beach or places like Marina Barrage on weekends, see if you can take a weekday afternoon off. Then, simply enjoy that brief but sweet respite.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to temporarily escape the madness of the rat race? Tell me in the Comments section below!

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

Standard
Lifestyle, Vacations & Staycations

[Press Trip] Hello Kitty Themed Flights Are Coming To Singapore! – Deborah Tan

This is a story of Material World’s resident “I wear only black” girl Deborah Tan’s recent trip to Taipei to check out EVA Air’s Hello Kitty planes.

eva air hello kitty 1

There’s no doubting the immense popularity of Hello Kitty themed experiences and products. The famous kitty has graced several international brands with her face over the years, each one a goldmine every brand owner would love to tap into. Some of the brands that have worked with Hello Kitty are McDonald’s, M.A.C Cosmetics, Tokidoki, and homegrown bakery BreadTalk.

Great in small doses, definitely, but what about a Hello Kitty themed flight to countries like Los Angeles, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul or Guam? Imagine flying on a plane painted with Hello Kitty, where everything – from the headrest covers to barf bags, from the inflight meals to the amenities in the toilet – are decorated with motifs of the famous cat. Is that an experience of a lifetime every Kitty fan would pay to have?

Bored? Entertain yourself with these exclusive playing cards!

Bored? Entertain yourself with these exclusive playing cards!

Apparently, the folks at EVA Air think so. It’s not just a one-off limited-time-only experience we are talking about here. The airline has 6 specially commissioned jets for Kitty fans who have been known to plan their journey so they’d end up on one of these planes – yep, some travelers also unwittingly book themselves on Kitty flights, their classic reactions can be found on Instagram.

Found on Instagram! A traveler's reaction when he realizes he has been booked onto a Hello Kitty flight!

Found on Instagram! A traveler’s reaction when he realizes he has been booked onto a Hello Kitty flight!

How Much Hello Kitty Can You Take?
If you’re departing from Taipei, your EVA Air x Hello Kitty experience begins at a dedicated check-in counter that has been pimped out to the max with Hello Kitty motifs. In here, you can also get a sneak peek at the in-flight amenities exclusive to the Hello Kitty jets and the souvenirs you can buy. Passengers taking these Hello Kitty flights will also be given their very own Kitty boarding passes.

A dedicated check-in area for passengers flying on EVA Air's Hello Kitty planes.

A dedicated check-in area for passengers flying on EVA Air’s Hello Kitty planes.

This machine checks you in AND prints out a specially designed Hello Kitty boarding pass for you.

This machine checks you in AND prints out a specially designed Hello Kitty boarding pass for you.

Boarding pass and barf bag

Boarding pass and barf bag

Once you clear Immigration, a walk down the duty-free shopping area will present sights (and photo opportunities) such as a Hello Kitty nursing room, a Hello Kitty public payphone, and finally a Hello Kitty departure lounge.

Even a non-fan like me found myself squealing with delight whenever I spotted a Hello Kitty “thing”. “Aaaah! A Hello Kitty playground! How cuuuuute!

Destination: Kawaii!
Onboard the plane, the experience becomes absolutely mind-blowing. The attention to detail is spectacular. You know it’s a Hello Kitty themed flight but every time you see something that you didn’t think will have the cat and it does, you will go, “AAAAHHH!” I won’t be surprised if people start challenging each other to a Spot The Kitty contest to see how many Kitty-marked things they can find.

Even the safety videos star Hello Kitty!

Even the safety videos star Hello Kitty!

Besides the soap dispenser, the toilet paper is printed with Hello Kitty toooooo ... AAAHH!

Besides the soap dispenser, the toilet paper is printed with Hello Kitty toooooo … AAAHH!

There are Kitty-themed meals for both adults and kids. The meal for adults has subtler (although I’m not sure if that’s even possible) Hello Kitty themed dishes while the kids meal is more “full-on”, containing a rice dumpling shaped like Kitty’s head. You could, when booking your flight, put in a request to be served a kids’ meal.

Too cute to consume!

Too cute to consume!

Even non-Kitty fans will appreciate the attention to detail paid by EVA Air to make these flights an awesome experience!

Even non-Kitty fans will appreciate the attention to detail paid by EVA Air to make these flights an awesome experience!

Here's a shot of me with an attendant wearing a Hello Kitty apron. I feel a bit like Maleficent standing next to her.

Here’s a shot of me with an attendant wearing a Hello Kitty apron. I feel a bit like Maleficent standing next to her.

Coming To Singapore In December
Ready to sign up for a Hello Kitty flight? Normally, you can fly with EVA Air to destinations like Guam and Seoul, then do a transfer at Taipei to get onto one of these flights. But come this December, EVA Air will be bringing specially chartered Hello Kitty flights to Singapore for a limited period of time. These flights will be packaged as part of full board tour packages with selected tour agents. Package information and ticket sales are now available.

The dates for the Hello Kitty flights are:
1) 4 – 6 December 2014
2) 11 – 13 December 2014
3) 18 – 20 December 2014

And the agents to check in with are:
1) Chan Brothers Travel
2) CS Travel
3) CTC Travel
4) Dynasty Travel
5) Green Holidays
6) New Shan Travel

So start planning your getaways now, you Kitty fans!

There are 6 designs in all for these Hello Kitty flights.

There are 6 designs in all for these Hello Kitty flights.

Material World was invited by EVA Air to Taipei to check out its Hello Kitty themed jets. All opinions are the author’s own. For more on EVA Air’s Hello Kitty flights, you may also visit this website.

 

Standard
Food News, Lifestyle

Food Review: Fish & Co. Under 500 Calories Menu – Matthew Fam

Enjoying the same great recipes from Fish & Co. without bursting your calorie budget? This is totally possible with the restaurant’s new Under 500 Calories Menu. 

It’s no secret that we love to dine out. According to a 2010 health survey, 60% of Singaporeans eat out at least 4 times a week. However, dining out doesn’t always mean eating healthily. Firstly, it’s hard to gauge how many calories you’re consuming when your meal is presented on a large platter. We tend to finish whatever is on our plates, as we psychologically feel full only after its been cleared. This gives way to consuming excess calories.

How then, can we strike a balance with maintaining our calorie intake while still enjoying our favourite restaurant meals? Enter the new Under 500 Calories Menu by Fish & Co.

Healthier Portions of the Same Recipes You Love

Fish & Co.'s Under 500 Calories Menu contains 11 portioned dishes so you don't burst your calorie budget.

Fish & Co.’s Under 500 Calories Menu contains 11 portioned dishes so you don’t burst your calorie budget.

Fish & Co. partners with the Health Promotion Board to offer portioned-controlled meals that are less than 500 calories. The restaurant’s Under 500 Calories Menu features 11 favourite Fish & Co. dishes that have been re-portioned to cater to healthier diets.

You are even given a choice on how you wish to have the dish served. Sides are interchangeable- so you can opt for a serving of steamed vegetables in place of rice, for instance, while still keeping the dish below the set calorie amount.

Plus, these portion-controlled dishes are priced at 40% off their standard counterparts. Set from $7.95 to $11.95, you can do away with the misconception of paying more for healthier food, and enjoy them at reasonable prices.

Clinical dietician, Jaclyn Reutens explaining the importance of portion control.

Clinical dietician Jaclyn Reutens explaining the importance of portion control.

Why 500 Calories?

Clinical dietician Jaclyn Reutens, was at the event to share how this magical number came into play. She tells us that the recommended intake of calories for females is pitched at approximately 1700 calories. Sounds manageable? A single food court meal can go up to 800 calories per serving. And that’s not inclusive of the desserts we usually enjoy after! With this set target of 500 calories per meal, you can easily fit three within each day and sneak in a snack- all while keeping within your calorie allowance.

The Taste Test

Seafood Spaghetti, 376kcal.

Seafood Spaghetti, 471kcal. $10.95.

 

When I first ordered the Seafood Spaghetti, I thought having smaller portions meant measly smatterings of seafood chunks. But instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find my plate dressed with ample servings of prawn, squid, and mussels.

Moreover, with the option of having whole wheat pasta, one serving of this dish gives you 7g of fibre (out of a daily recommendation of 20g). I liked how its tomato-base sauce had the right amount of tang to compliment the seafood.

 

Grilled Salmon Cajun, 443 kcal.

Grilled Salmon Cajun, 443 kcal. $11.95.

 

I was also pleased to know that the same great taste of my favourite Fish & Co. dish (the Grilled Salmon Cajun) was not compromised, even though its portion had been reduced. The fillet wasn’t overcooked and remained succulent on the inside.

Even though I didn’t finish one serving feeling completely filled, the portions are adequate. Fish & Co.’s Under 500 Calories Menu isn’t designed to be a feast of epic proportions, but is instead a sensible way to enjoy the restaurant’s tasty dishes without breaking the calorie bank. Be it an outing with family, friends or dates, these portioned servings will satisfy your cravings and keep waistlines in check.

 

Material World was invited for a tasting at Fish & Co. and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own.

About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and contributing beauty assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines. Follow him on Instagram at @mattjfam.

 

 

Standard