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Category: Asia and Australia (page 1 of 4)

What do you do when you have two hours in Tokyo?

Go to only ONE place. Don’t be greedy and think you can conquer half of Tokyo. Focus on one place. In a recent work trip, I have about two hours to walk around Tokyo before my flight home. The place I chose was Isetan at Shinjuku.

Isetan food hall is legendary. Each time I step into the food hall, I am always overwhelmed by the numbers of stalls, the food choices, and so many new things to see which send my head spinning. And the folks at the food hall are super friendly and generous. There was a lady giving out S$80 melon sample. I rejected the sample as I have no intention to buy but she insisted that I try. The melon was of course delicious, and she didn’t push me to buy it. She just continued giving out sample to the rest of the shoppers.

And the fruit lady was not the last to shove samples in my face. There were so many things to see and so many people asking you to try their food. There were crackers, Japanese sweets and chocolates that you can buy, and they were all beautifully package–great as gifts. There were cooked food–croquettes (totally regret not buying one before I left), bento sets, tempura and I can go on and on.

While I was in Tokyo, it was summer and momo (peach) season. I was told one momo would cost around ¥400-¥800 (S$4.50-S$9). I was luck out–Isetan was having sales and I managed to get a tray of four peaches at ¥1,000 (S$12)! I also grabbed a tray of figs (S$8) which looked plump and irresistible. The cashier at Isetan was really thoughtful–he bubble-wrapped the peaches and figs, and placed them carefully in the paper bag (and I did not even tell him I am bringing them on a flight).

After the mini fruity shopping spree, I hopped off to my last stop – Sadaharu Aoki to pick up some pastries. With all the deliciousness in my bag, I very reluctantly left the food hall and made my way to the airport.

Isetan Shinjuku (website is in Japanese)
3-14-1, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku,

oink’s guide to … Perth! Jus Burgers’ onion rings are to-die-for

During my trip to Perth last May (yes, time flies), on one of the nights I needed to stay in and finish some work. My buddies from university saved me from hunger and brought me dinner from Jus Burgers. I had a classic cheeseburger (with blue cheese) (A$12.50) which was juicy and delicious. But what blew me away was their onion rings (A$6.00). They were the good onion rings – they were crisp, sweet and heavily salted. If I stayed in Perth, these would be my go-to snacks (thank god I don’t stay in Australia).

Jus Burgers
Shop 11/189 William St Northbridge, 6003 Perth
Opening hours: 11.30am – 10.00pm (Daily except Mon and Sun, they close at 9.00pm)

oink’s cafe guide to … Perth! Coffee at Gino’s

One of my favourite things to do in Perth is to plant myself at Gino’s (located at Fremantle’s cappuccino stretch), enjoy a cuppa and watch people (and birds) pass by. Going on holiday does not mean fighting against time, rushing from one place to another. Sometimes, all you need to do is sit down and enjoy what is front of you.

Cafe 1-5 South Terrace, Fremantle, Western Australia
Opening hours: 6am till late (daily)

oink’s guide to … Perth! Lunch at Kailis’


When I was in university, I was told one of the must-eats in Perth was fish and chips. Perth (apparently) has the best fish and chips in Australia and the place to go was Cicerello’s. I don’t recall much about that meal – all I remembered was the portion was huge and I had to pay for ketchup (yes I am that cheapskate). So for old time sake, I decided to drop by the Fremantle Harbour and have a fish and chips lunch.

One can choose to go to the touristy Cicerello’s which seems to remain a favourite among both the tourists and the locals. However I much prefer the quieter Kailis’ where they were just crowned “Best Fish and Chips” by SBS Feast magazine (2012). They were also famed for creating fish and chip gelato.

Seafood delight

I decided to be greedy and ordered the Seafood Delight which consisted of fish, scallop, calamari and chips. To help me wash the meal down, I opt for my favourite Aussie’s soda – Solo.

I chose to alfresco dining which later turned out to be rather stressful. Eating outdoor at the harbour was almost like being in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Every bite you take was under the watchful eyes of the sea birds who were hoping that you might drop or thrown them a chip. Some of the nasty ones even purposely swooped down near diners and ready to attack.

Despite the not too pleasant environment, it was a beautiful day. It was cool and breezy and the condition was perfect for chowing down a plate of hot fried food. Though everything on the plate was piping hot, somehow the batter went soft (the same go for the chips but I love soggy chips). Still the seafood was really fresh. I especially enjoyed the scallops which were plump and juicy.

Dining at the harbour is not for everyone (especially for those who are squeamish about birds). With Singapore’s hot and humid weather, I rarely dine outdoor. I will savour every opportunity – birds or no birds.

Kailis’ Fish Market
46 Mews Road, Fremantle, Western Australia
Opening hours: 8.00am till late (daily)

oink’s guide to … Perth! City Farm cafe

For as long as I know The Food Pornographer (TFP), she has always been taunting me with pictures of muffins, sandwiches from City Farm cafe. And it doesn’t help when you are hungry in the train, and reading her tweets. So for this trip to Perth, City Farm cafe was on top of my list.

I made a date with TFP and her sister, Juji (who is the genius behind Juji Chews) for breakfast at City Farm cafe. The cafe is located in East Perth which was easily accessible via the Yellow Cat bus from the city. It was a wet and cold morning and I cannot wait to tuck into breakfast.

How do you know it’s TFP’s brekkie? Bacon!

Both TFP and Juji ordered the scrambled eggs which came with two slices of sourdough toast. And of course TFP could not resist ordering a side of bacon. For me, I got myself the scrambled egg with aged cheddar and chives.

My plate of happiness

As some of you might know, I am not a big fan of egg. But the Tasmanian Mersey Valley’s aged cheddar in the scrambled egg was so delicious – it was creamy and savoury. I liked to have the egg with the sourdough toast (and butter) – it gave a bit of crunch and also cut through the richness of the cheddar. The coffee at City Farm was fabulous too. My flat white was aromatic and not too bitter (I usually have my coffee without sugar).

While we were having breakfast and chatting, I cannot help but notice that the staff started to bring out the muffins and sweets. There were spinach feta muffin, brownies, cookies. I want them all.

City Farm cafe is a delightful joint and I can totally understand why TFP patronised the cafe so often. I would too.

City Farm Cafe
1 City Farm Place East Perth WA 6004 Australia
(Accessible via Claisebrook train station or City Yellow Cat bus)
Opening hours: 7.00am-3.00pm (Mon-Fri), 8.00am-12.00pm (Sat) (closed on Sun)

oink’s guide to … Perth! Fremantle Market

Fremantle, or the locals lovingly called it Freo holds a special place in my heart. When I was studying in Perth, my rented apartment was a 5-minute train ride from Freo. Every weekend, with a basket, I trottered my way to Freo. I always maintained the routine – coffee at Gino’s, book browsing at New Edition and the last stop is Fremantle Market.

Hello Freo

Freo Market might be considered as a tourist spot, still I like to shop there. The market not just housed shops selling souvenirs and fresh produces, it actually had a few good food stalls. One of the must-go for me is Bodrum Kebabs. It is comfort food at its best. Imagine on Friday night, you had a few beers with your friends, and on Saturday morning, you have yet to sober up. And then you were presented with this Lebanese bread stuffed with grilled chicken, fresh vegetables and topped with rich sour cream. It was warm, cold and crunchy all at the same time. At Bodrum, they don’t just slice the meat off the rotating spit and stuff them into the wrap. They would pan-fry the meat on the grill to get them crisp. There are heaps of condiments to make your döner kebab complete (I always go for sour cream). And the döner kebab is huge. Till now, I can never finish one on my own.

Reunited with my favourite kebab

Often after shopping at Freo, I would need an afternoon snack to replenish my energy (yes, shopping can be quite exhausting). Without a doubt, I would run to Michele Crepes Suzette. They have a board full of all sorts of crepes you can get. If you are into savoury, you would love the mushroom and cheese. And if you in the mood for something sweet (like I was when I visited them during my trip), I would go for the nutella crepe. The crepe is thin, crisp and a bit chewy and they are not stingy on nutella. It hits right on the sweet spot.

Nutella crepe

Bodrum Kebabsand Michele Crepes Suzette are my all-time favourites at Freo market. During my trip, I spotted some new eats like Maison Saint Honore and Jus Burgers. Unfortunately I only have one stomach so I have to give them a miss.

I think the biggest reason why I love Freo is it’s a bit rustic, hippie, nor too commercial. You can park yourself at any cafes along the cappuccino stretch and spend hours reading or people watching. There is no stress, no fuss, just sit back and relax.

Fremantle Market
Corner South Terrace & Henderson Street, Fremantle, Western Australia
Opening hours: 9.00am–8.00pm (Fri), 9.00am–6.00pm (Sat and Sun)
Bodrum Kebabs (stall #5) and Michele Crepes Suzette (stall #4) are both located at the Hall.

oink’s guide to … Perth! Koko Black

Started in Melbourne, Koko Black is a delightful chocolatier which recently made its way to Perth. Besides the wonderful array of chocolate treats, Koko Black’s salon also featured delicious tea-time snacks.

Koko Black

Though it was not the first time I dined in Koko Black, I went there with a purpose – to meet my webby friend and fellow food blogger – The Food Pornographer (TFP). TFP and I have been exchanging conversation via twitter and emails for almost a year. Her website always left me hungry, and made me miss Perth very much. We bonded over our love for instant mee (specifically Mee Sedaap), and we graduated from the same university and she is one of those few people who will understand when I start to blabber about semiotics and discourse. The biggest reason why I am such a big fan of TFP is her approach towards food – besides overwhelming her readers with a lot of food shots, she is brutally honest about her gastronomical experience.

I arrived early and struggled to find a seat. I was unclear of the seating system – the signage said “wait to be served” while the waitress told me to just grab any table which was available. After a while, I managed to find an empty table. While waiting for TFP and her partner Jac to arrive, I studied the menu and knew what I want – Alice lamington. Lamingtons, originated from Australia, are essentially butter sponge cakes, coated with chocolate icing and desiccated coconut. You can eat it on its own or filled it with cream.

Iced chocolate (A$7.90)

Once TFP and Jac arrived, we quickly ordered our drinks and food. Beside the Alice lamington, I also got myself the famous iced chocolate. It was huge and it was topped with two big scoops of ice cream. It was every chocolate-holic’s dream. As it was my third cup of liquid chocolate of the day, I did not manage to finish my drink – I am such a failure.

Alice lamington (A$4)

The Alice lamington was everything I wanted – it was not too sweet, the cream was delicious and it had a good dollop of sour cherry jam which cut through the richness. Thanks to TFP, I have been dreaming about Alice lamington and I was so happy to finally sink my teeth in one.

Queen of Hearts (A$39)

TFP and Jac shared “Queen of Hearts” which comprised of sandwiches, sweet and savoury tarts and of course Alice lamington. They both generously shared their tea snacks with me but I was stuffed from my lunch and the iced chocolate. Judging from their faces, I think it was safe to say everything on the plate was delicious.

Jac had to leave early for her weekly netball hockey game, and TFP and I stayed at Koko Black to chat. I thought it was pretty amazing that we both chatted like we were old friends. Our conversation was not just about food, but also our daily lives. I was glad to make this last minute trip to Perth and catch up with a wonderful (new) friend.

Koko Black
Claremont Quarter, 23 St Quentin Avenue Claremont WA 6010
Opening hours: 9.00am–6.00pm (Mon), 9.00am-10.00pm (Tue-Thu), 9.00am-11.00pm (Fri, Sat), 10.30am-6.00pm (Sun)

oink’s guide to … Perth! A bed and a simple toast.

A few weeks before I started my new job, I decided to take a last minute trip to Perth. As much as I like to take a couple of weeks to travel, however work commitment and budget means I can only afford a one-week holiday. In the end, I chose Perth. I haven’t been back there for seven years and I was very excited about the trip.

I knew this trip back to Perth was going to be awesome. The day I want to purchase the air ticket, for whatever reason I decided to postpone it. A few days later, Qantas had a sales and I managed to save S$100. Even for the hotel, I managed to score some cheap deal.

Love the decor

So happy to see the bed at 7am

View from the window

Pensione’s Hotel (used to be known as Aaron’s Hotel) is my go-to hotel in Perth. I absolutely love the location. It is only a mere five minutes walk to the city. Opposite the hotel, there is a small Miss Maud’s cafe where you can get coffee and pastry for breakfast. Recently Aaron’s was bought over by the 8Hotels Group (hence the rename) and went through a far bit of refurbishment. I have stayed in 8Hotels Group’s hotel (Cosmopolitan, Melbourne) and I know the room will be reasonably priced and everything will be spanking new and pretty. I was right. They have a weekend special. I had some problems booking the room online and I wrote to the hotel. The staff responded to my email pretty fast and they even offered to extend the weekend special for the duration of my stay.

I arrived in Perth around 5am and reached the hotel around 7am. I was all prepared to leave my luggage at the hotel and roam the streets of Perth. To my pleasant surprise, they allowed me to do an early check-in, and I managed to sneak in a couple of hours of sleep before meeting my friends.

Once I woke up, I was really hungry, yet I do not want to spoil my appetite for lunch. I popped over to one of my favourite cafes in Perth – Merchant Tea and Coffee – for some light brunch. Oh before I forget, the weather in Perth was awesome! It was 22oC, it was cool (not freezing cold), and I can finally wear scarf without feeling pretentious.

Hot chocolate #2

While I was ordering my breakfast, I was sad to find out that my favourite vanilla tea is off the menu. I was stunned for a couple seconds and simply ordered a hot chocolate (it was my second hot chocolate of the day). I don’t know what’s in Australia’s chocolate and milk, it tasted so delicious. Especially on a cool day, a cup of hot chocolate was perfect for my sleepy head.

Fruit toast

I also ordered some fruit toast. In Singapore, I would not pay A$5 for fruit toast. Though I found it expensive, these were really good toast – slightly charred on the edges, evenly browned, crispy on the outside and chewy inside. With butter, it was the perfect food for me. So far, Perth was treating me well.

Pensione’s Hotel
70 Pier Street, CBD Perth, WA

Merchant Tea and Coffee
183 Murray Street, Perth, WA

oink’s guide to … Kuala Lumpur! Madam Kwan’s

On our last day in KL, I once again dragged Agnes to one of my favourite haunts – Madam’s Kwan. For me, a trip to KL is not complete without eating Madam Kwan’s famous nasi lemak. I know it is commercial and perhaps not the best nasi lemak in KL but hey it is good enough for my tummy.

We were both famished as we didn’t have any breakfast. And this meant we kind of over-ordered. I went for the classic nasi lemak and Agnes chose the nasi bojari. We also got an extra serving of chicken curry and stir-fry eggplant.

Hellooo Madam Kwan!

We started our meal with a cup of warm teh tarik. It was frothy and comforting. Nothing extraordinary but it was a great way to start a meal.

This is what happened when you are super hungry

Nasi lemak

Tiny plate of happiness

Our food came pretty fast. Unlike the nasi lemak we get in Singapore, Madam Kwan served up chicken curry (not fried chicken). The chicken curry was lemak (translate: rich and “coconutish”) and savoury. I also loved the nasi (rice) – equally lemak and very moreish. Oh and not forgetting the side plate of achar (pickled vegetable) which was sweet and sour, and refreshing, especially wonderful when eating such a heavy meal.

Nasi bojari

Agnes’ nasi bojari was pretty spectacular. It featured a piece of fried chicken (chicken thigh somemore!), beef rendang and sambal udang (prawn). I picked on bit and pieces. The fried chicken was well fried without drying or undercooking the meat. I love the beef rendang – tender and flavourful. I didn’t touch the sambal udang but Agnes did complain it was a bit spicy for her palate.

Barely finished the chicken curry

Stir-fry eggplant

One of the side dishes that we ordered was a simple garlic stir-fry eggplant. We thought we should have some sort of vegetables (okay technically eggplant is a fruit). The stir-fry was delicious. We actually had pretty low expectation of the dish but it turned out to be a delight – perfectly cooked and even had a hint of “wok hei”.

Madam Kwan may be your upmarket street food but it does not mean it is not good. I think it is a great place to start anyone who is afraid of street food and let them have an understanding of local delights. Oh did I mention the food at Madam Kwan keep my tummy very happy?

Madam’s Kwan (they have outlets around KL)
The Pavillion, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang,
Lot No. : 1.16.00, Level 1, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

oink’s guide to … Kuala Lumpur! Ramly burger

I am blessed with friends who indulged in my silly quests for food. And Amy is one of them. Every time she made a trip to Singapore, I always ask if she could bring me a ramly burger which of course she said “No”. However for this trip to Kuala Lumpur, that girl makes sure I eat one before I leave.

Guess what are in the bag?

When Agnes and I were in Kuala Lumpur, it was pouring. When there is rain, chances are the ramly burger stalls will be closed (the stalls are usually standalone and outdoor). On our last night, we had dinner with Agnes’ cousin Janet and it was still raining very heavily. At that point, I knew my chances of eating a ramly burger was nearly impossible.

After dinner, the heavy downpour became drizzle. Janet dropped us at a nearby mall so that Amy and Terence (Amy’s partner) can pick us up. Amy called and told me she might be delayed as she was trying to see if the ramly burger stall near her house was open. When our ride arrived, the smell of ramly burger welcomed me.

Hello RB, we meet again

Do not disturb while I eating

Ramly burger is like a cross between a sloppy joe and a hamburger. Though I am not a fan of egg, I often ordered the “special” ramly burger which is a chicken or beef patty wrapped in egg omelette and doused with mayo and some mystery sauce.  I was stuffed from our dinner with Janet, still I will always have room for ramly burger.

Once we reached our hotel room, I immediately took one and refused to talk to anyone untill I finished the burger. It was a freaking good burger. It was still warm and it did not get too soggy. We do have ramly burger in Singapore but it is just not as good as the ones in Malaysia. I don’t know is it the patty or the cooking method. The ramly burgers in Malaysia are simply awesome.

I think Amy can tell how much I love ramly burger, she even offered me Terence’s share. Unless I want my stomach to explode on the spot, I had to say “No”. I am utterly grateful I have friends like Amy who make sure my food cravings are satisfied. I am one lucky round belly child.

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