Horin Ramen & Sake

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Horin Ramen + Sake opened on Robson along with all the other ramen shops late last year. They feature Fukuoka style ramen, which is the thin straight kind, and one of my favourites. When we arrived, the shop was not too busy on a Friday night. We were seated immediately, but the shop did have a bit of a wait as we finished our dinner. The interior is modern with the seats along a narrow space. However, seating is pretty comfortable compared to many other ramen shops.

 

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They have a paper placemat which describes the back story of the restaurant. Apparently, their secret recipe is based on adding spicy chili peppers in their pork based Tonkotsu soup. Also, their noodles are made fresh in store. You can even see the machine and the workers making the noodles at the front of the store.

 

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Their menu is very simple with only tonkotsu pork broth ramen available. The four variations are just customized with different toppings, but the broth is the exact same. Like many ramen shops, you can also customize your bowl with texture of noodles (soft, standard, firm), amount of dashi (less salty, standard, extra salty), amount of chili blend (less spicy, standard, extra spicy), and amount of lard (less fat, standard, extra fat).

 

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Ajitama Ramen

Both S and I got the Ajitama Ramen which is their original but comes with one whole soft-boiled egg cut in half. The noodles come with chashu and green onions. As S does not like spicy, he opted out of the housemade chili blend. The bowl was clean with the focus really on the broth and noodles.

 

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Ajitama Ramen

For myself, I also got the Ajitama Ramen but with a standard amount of housemade chili blend. I found this style of ramen with the chili very similar to Ramen Danbo and Ichiran but I prefer the latter two over Horin. I found the broth to be lighter and not as creamy. This might be more suitable for others though as many have said Ramen Danbo is too salty and heavy for them. The chashu was pretty good here though as the ratio of fat to meat was just right. I asked to have the noodles firm and they indeed met my expectations although I found they felt a little soft near the end. You really need to eat this quick! As for the chili blend, I much prefer the ones from Ramen Danbo or Ichiran as they have more kick to it. I found the flavours at Horin to be milder in general. However, given the line ups at Ramen Danbo can get a bit ridiculous during peak hours, this is a good alternative if you’re looking for a similar style of ramen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DAAN Korean Restaurant

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I’ve been going to DAAN Korean Restaurant many time since it’s opened because it’s close to home and also delicious! Located in the Garden City mall on Blundell and Garden City, the restaurant offers some simple but delicious Korean dishes.

 

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I love their banchan here because I eat all of it! I always hate it when there’s some banchan I’m just not a fan of. I’ve been here quite a few times so have noticed that the sweet potatoes and kimchi are always a staple. They seem to swap between the marinated bean sprouts and marinated broccoli, both of which I enjoy. My favourite is their kimchi though as it’s just the right amount of spice and the radish is extremely juicy. If you order take out, you will only get the kimchi and sweet potato. However, if you eat in, you can also get 1 free refill of all these items.

 

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Korean Style Fried Chicken Wings

After visiting many times, S and I have noticed we always seem to order the same items. S’s must orders are the Korean Style Fried Chicken Wings in the orginal flavour. You can also choose sweet and spicy or soy garlic. The wings are a decent size with the batter very crispy and chicken being juicy. Even when we ordered it for take out, it was still pretty crispy.

 

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Soy Garlic Boneless Korean Fried Chicken Balls

S love Korean chicken so he also loves getting the Soy Garlic Boneless Korean Fried Chicken Balls. I haven’t really seen this at other Korean restaurants, but essentially it’s chicken meat wrapped with some batter and deep fried. They are sticky on the exterior but juicy inside. The garlic flavour is very strong so make sure you’ve got some mints after!

 

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Soft Tofu Soup

My must order is the Soft Tofu Soup which is served with a side of rice. You can choose between seafood, beef, or mushroom and customize your level of spiciness. I always go for the milk with beef. The bowl comes sizzling hot and the broth is extremely flavourful.

 

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Japchae

We also tried their Japchae which is stir-fried potato noodles with beef and mixed vegetables. There are plenty of vegetables in the dish with the veggies giving the dish a nice crunch.

 

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Bossam

We also tried their Bossam which is a popular Korean dish featuring slow cooked miso braised pork belly. We got the small size which costs around $18 but the portion was extremely large for two. The meat was tender with the fat melting in your mouth. They give you some soy bean paste, spicy pickled radishes, jalapeno peppers and raw garlic. You can wrap all of this with the cabbage. We found that their cabbage pieces were all too tiny to wrap the meat easily though. However, the dish still tasted great and I would order this again if we have more friends with us.

DAAN also offers a variety of sizzling plates but we found the portions to be too large for two so haven’t tried them yet. Overall, I enjoy this neighbourhood gem and have been revisiting many times since.

Pros:
– Solid Korean dishes
– Prices are reasonable

Cons:
– May need to wait a bit during peak hours

Price Range: $15-20 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Free parking in the complex Overall: 4

 

 

Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba

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Niku Mazesoba

Last year, a new ramen restaurant opened up and it definitely found itself having long lines as expected. Kokoro Toyko Mazesoba is located just next to the Downtown BCIT campus which makes it a popular spot for all the students. If you come during peak lunch and dinner hours, expect to wait, although it is quite spacious and food comes out fast, so the turnover is quite quick. Mazesoba is essentially a mixed noodle or soupless ramen. I first tried something similar to this when I was in Tokyo.

I decided to try the Niku Mazesoba which seemed to be their most popular mazesoba. It features slow braised pork chashu, spicy minced pork, raw egg yolk, green onion, seaweed flakes, chives, minced garlic, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. Noodles sit below all the ingredients and you mix all the ingredients and noodles together while breaking the yolk. It reminds me of a dan dan noodle with each noodle strand being coated with some sauce. The noodles were toothsome with a nice al dente texture. They are right when they say not udon but also not ramen as it is really something in between.

 

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Shio Mazesoba

S didn’t really want that raw egg yolk so he got the Shio Mazesoba which featured slow braised pork chashu, bamboo shoot, green onion, spinach, seaweed flakes, minced garlic, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. Instead, he added a soft boiled egg on the side. His mazesoba was definitely less saucy without the egg so he actually did not have much sauce leftover. If you find the noodles a bit too heavy, you can also try adding vinegar to break the grease and saltiness. They also have chilli flakes on the table if you want to add some kick to your noodles.

 

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Although S’s bowl didn’t have much sauce left, my Niku bowl had plenty of sauce and ingredients left. The waiter will come by and ask if you’d like a free small bowl of rice which you can then drop into your leftover sauce and mix. It surprisingly tasted really good! But I could really only eat half the portion of rice after a whole bowl of noodles. If you’re hungry, then definitely go for the free rice!

 

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Mentaiko Cream Mazesoba

On another occasion, I came back during lunch hours to try their Mentaiko Cream Mazesoba. This featured mentaiko, slow braised pork chashu, raw egg yolk, seaweed flakes, spinach, green onion, minced garlic, japanese cream sauce, grinded saba fish, and multi-grain noodle made in house. I actually preferred this over the Niku Mazesoba as I found that the Niku was a bit heavy and salty for my liking. I found the mentaiko cream helped cut the grease a bit even before I added vinegar.

 

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Overall, I quite enjoyed the mazesobas but like ramen, it’s not something I can eat often as they are more on the heavy side. Plus, the prices are quite steep with most bowls going for $15-16 each. Definitely not a spot I could come for work lunch all the time. They do offer classic ramens with soup and a variety of appetizers and desserts, but I have yet to try those.

Pros:
– Mazesoba noodles are nice and chewy
– Extensive menu so there is something for everyone

Cons:
– Prices are steep for ramen
– Some of the bar seating isn’t very comfortable with the low backs

Price Range: $15-20 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Paid street parking/ paid BCIT parking lot Overall: 3.5

 

 

[Taiwan Series] Day 7 in Taipei: Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles 老王記牛肉麵 and Bingirl 冰果甜心

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We actually had Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles 老王記牛肉麵 twice during our time in Taipei. The last time we visited, we had tried Taoyuan Beef Noodles, which is also a nearby shop to Lao Wang Ji, but because it was closed, we ended up checking this spot out. It’s not too far from our hotel in Ximending – around a 10 minute walk, so it was no surprise we visited twice.

I think this might be my favourite beef noodle soup restaurant in Taipei. S got the Clear Broth Beef Noodle Soup which comes with loads of beef. The beef is thick but extremely tender and it falls apart! The noodles are cooked just right with a nice bite and the broth is clear but flavourful.

 

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The other option is to get the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup which is what I got. The spicy soup isn’t actually too spicy but I thought it was really flavourful! Just a touch of spice and I loved how the beef was soaking the soup in. On the table, there is also a bucket of preserved vegetables which you can add as much as you like. I do find that it tastes really great with the noodles! Overall, a must try in Taipei!

 

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Thirsty from lunch and the heat, we decided to get a Pudding Milk Tea from Ching Shin Fu Chuan 清心福全 which was in the Ximending area. Apparently they feature some healthier drinks and teas, but I don’t think this one was healthy! It was nice and creamy though. Not bad!

 

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After lunch, we decided to take the train to Taipei Main Station and do some shopping around the area. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi is one of the largest shopping malls with 4 buildings in total in the area. There is low end to high end shopping here.

 

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A nearby mall called Breeze also is worth stopping by. Especially if you like Line Friends! They have super picture worthy spots including this large bear!

 

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We also wandered to a nearby mall called ATT 4 FUN and on the top floors, they have tons of food and dessert shops. They even had a floor that was Peter Rabbit themed.

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We ended up trying a dessert shop called Bingirl 冰果甜心. We ended up sharing two desserts with the first being an Oreo Peanut Butter Pancake. The portions were pretty big but I found this to be a bit too sweet. The pancakes were okay but nothing special.

 

 

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I think the Mango Ice Cube is what they are really famous for though. There are a few other flavours but we chose mango and it is topped with kiwis and lots of aiyu jelly on the bottom. It is literally a giant ice cube of mango juice. Think of shaved ice texture but it’s been solidified! it’s also topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We definitely got a brain freeze from this and it’s a bit too much for two. I’d say two desserts would be good for sharing between 4 people.

 

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After dessert, we hung out with my friends for a bit at the arcade before looking for a quick dinner in the Ximending area. As we wanted something quick, we ended up getting some street food.

 

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Hot-Star has a large outlet in the Ximending area and always has crowds. They are famous for the large fried chicken and is one of S’s favourites. I cannot wait until they open the store in Vancouver!

 

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Other than the large fried chicken, they also have various deep fried snacks. We tried the cuttlefish balls and mushrooms before and they were both very good!

 

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A trip to Taipei also means checking out Ay Chung Rice Noodles 阿宗麵線. They are also located in Ximending but a bit away from the busier streets. There aren’t many chairs, so most people will just stand in front of the store to enjoy their food.

 

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The rice noodles are in a savoury broth mixed with intestines. We actually don’t eat the intestines just because we aren’t a huge fan, but the noodles and broth are absolutely delicious. To be honest, these intestines are also not bad as they don’t have any pungent taste to them. Just chewy, but the fact is I know what it is, so tend to stay away from them!

After our quick dinner, we headed back to our hotel to grab our luggage and headed to the airport. And that’s a wrap on our trip to Singapore and Taiwan! Until next time!

[Taiwan Series] Day 3 in Taichung: Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村, Miyahara 宮原眼科, and FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市

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Our time in Kaohsiung came to an end and we were off to the next city – Taichung 台中. Taichung is located right in the centre of Taiwan. Again, the most convenient way is to simply taking their Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) 台灣高鐵. We arrived back at Zuoying THSR station which is quite a large station actually.

 

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Finally got a picture of the bullet trains as well! They are quite similar to the ones in Japan.

 

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The seating on the trains are also very comfy and spacious. Lots of leg room and you can eat on the train. We arrived in Taichung in around 1.5 hours.

 

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There aren’t too many ways to get around in Taichung despite the city being 2nd largest city in Taiwan. They do not have a MRT other than the THSR, so getting around can be a bit difficult. You can take a bus but it’s not super tourist friendly so instead I suggest taking Uber or the taxi. Prices aren’t super cheap, but it’s still much cheaper than in North America. Especially if you have 4 people, then it’s definitely a better deal. So after we got to Taichung HSR Station, we caught a taxi to GOGO Hotel 富盛商旅. The hotel is pretty centarlly located, although you’ll probably still need to catch a taxi to get around, but it would be a short ride. Hotels in Taichung aren’t too expensive and we got ours for around $70 CAD a night. We booked through Booking.com and you can use my referral link if you wish to enjoy $25 CAD off on your booking!

 

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Upon entering our room, we already felt that it was much more spacious than the other hotels we have stayed at in Taiwan. Tons of space around our bed to open up our huge luggages.

 

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I also really liked how the bed was king size! I rarely see such big beds in Asia unless you request for them. However, I thought the interior was  a bit dated and they could use some renovations. Carpet could be cleaned up a lot more.

 

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The bathroom was actually pretty nice and modern though. Again, it was quite spacious.

 

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Shower is enclosed in a glass door. Overall, not a bad hotel for the price and location. I’d say it’s a typical business type hotel. Has all your basics and necessities but don’t expect anything fancy.

 

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One of the spots I really wanted to visit in Taichung was Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村. Unfortunately, getting here is a bit difficult as it’s not in the city centre but rather in the Nantun District. There isn’t much in this area so your only options are to take a bus (which requires transferring) or to take a taxi/Uber. We ended up going with Uber and it still took almost 20 minutes from our hotel. I imagine taking the bus would take much longer and the buses also do not come often so you might be waiting around in the heat for a while. When we arrived, we were greeted by the colourful paint everywhere from the walls to the floor!

 

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Rainbow Village is free to enter, although they appreciate it when you leave a donation or buy some of their souvenirs to keep things running. The area is open from 9am – 6pm everyday.

 

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The village actually used to be where veterans lived, but as the government began moving veterans to new homes, the plan was to demolish this area for new developments. However, there was one last veteran who stayed here, who is known as Rainbow Grandpa! He began to paint colourful pictures to stop demolition of the remaining houses. Local students ended up discovering this spot and decided to help save and preserve this village.

 

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Whether you enjoy art or not, I think this spot will bring a smile to your face with all the vibrant colours. And of course, this is the perfect spot to get your Instagram worthy pictures!

 

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They also opened up a small souvenir shop featuring Rainbow Grandpa’s artwork. You may also be able to meet the famous Rainbow Grandpa here if you’re lucky since he still lives here!

 

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S decided to get a souvenir coin by pressing some coins in a machine. Cute! We probably only spent around 30 minutes at the village because the area is honestly quite small. It just depends how long you spend taking pictures.

 

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As we were leaving, we noticed there weren’t done painting! There were men up on the roofs continuing to paint the tiles. I bet it will look different the next time I visit again! Be warned that when you look for a cab or Uber when you leave, it may cost more as there are rarely any cabs around this area. The ones that are here are mainly bringing tourists here, so they seem to charge a bit more to come to this area.

 

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Miyahara 宮原眼科 was next on our list so we ended up cabbing here from Rainbow Village. The shop is unique because it was actually an eye clinic built by a Japanese optometrist back when the Japanese occupied Taiwan. Today, it is a dessert shop famous for ice cream, pineapple cakes, and other pastries.

 

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The architecture of this building is modern with a historical ambiance. My immediate thought was it reminded me of some Harry Potter backdrop. High ceilings with wooden furniture and many bookshelves and cabinets.

 

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Looking up, you’ll find natural sunlight peeking in through the glass windows with something similar to stain art.

 

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If you wish, you can dine upstairs. Our goal was to try their ice cream, which is a shop just outside the building. However, when we arrived, the line up was extremely long. Instead, we decided to sit in the restaurant for convenience. I believe there is a minimum spend though, but it’s not too hard if you each order something.

 

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The interior upstairs is also very unique. It had velvet chairs and you felt like you were taken back in time.

 

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Even the napkin had the logo on it!

 

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I decided to get the Miyahara Milk Tea. I liked how the pearls and syrup come separately so you can add as much as you wish. In terms of the milk tea itself though, I thought it wasn’t as smooth as some of the other bubble tea shops. Especially given the higher price, I would probably skip it next time.

 

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S got the Chocolate Berry Slush which featured a dark chocolate and it came with a shot of what we believe is some sort of brandy syrup. We ended up not enjoying this drink too much because the alcohol made the drink quite bitter.

 

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Moving on, we ordered some of their famous ice cream. It should be noted that if you sit in the restaurant, you can’t try all their flavours which are A LOT in their ice cream shop. They have so many varieties of chocolate ice cream and many other flavours too. If you sit in the restaurant, there are only 10 flavours you can choose from. Anyways, when our ice cream arrived, they had a rotating platter of toppings. Never had ice cream with such an assortment of toppings! We ended up getting the pineapple cake, suncake, a cacao ball, almond cookie and the butterfly pastry.

 

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This is the Moon Pavillion Sundae we got and it comes with your choice of 4 ice creams and 5 toppings. The sundae isn’t cheap at $450 NTD so almost $20 CAD! We ended up getting the Irwin mango, Heiye lychee, Lugu green tea, and Vanuatu 44% milk chocolate. So many special flavours! The ice cream sits on top of a waffle cone and the toppings we chose sat on top. It was definitely a lot for two people. I think it’s more for 3 people but this was the only size they offered for ice cream if you sit in. I suggest going to the outdoor shop if the line up isn’t too long since there’s so many more flavours to choose from and I think it’s also slightly cheaper.

 

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After dessert, we walked around some nearby malls and even played some indoor basketball at one of the malls. Yes… random but it was fun! Anyways, getting hungry, we took an Uber to FengJia Night Market 逢甲夜市. I believe this is one of the largest night markets in Taiwan and I absolutely loved it! Definitely on the top of my list.

 

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It reminds me slightly of Dotonbori in Osaka with all the big in your face billboards for the restaurants. Love the atmosphere here. Ask your driver to drop you off at Fuxing Road 福星路 to be in the middle of the action.

 

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I know we’re not in Japan, but they had a large takoyaki stall and I was craving them.

 

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The Takoyakis weren’t bad but the ones in Japan are definitely better. I think these were a bit on the mushy side. Still, it satisfied my takoyaki craving!

 

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Of course, S had to get one of his favourite popcorn chicken from J&G Fried Chicken. We now have this in Vancouver but the ones in Taiwan still taste better. Perhaps it’s the chicken they use.

 

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We got a bag of the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken and it was piping hot and crispy on the outside.

 

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Getting thirsty, we looked behind us and found Bei Hui Papaya Milk which I heard is a famous chain.

 

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As their name says, they are famous for Papaya Milk, so of course got a cup of that. Wow – it was refreshing, creamy and not too sweet. I really enjoyed this after all the greasy food!

 

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We then walked further into some side streets. Fu Xing Road is their main road with tons of shops for clothing and food, but there are even more stalls if you walk into the side streets. These are smaller sized with less fancy advertising. There is also a section with tons of entertainment.

 

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As it was really hot that day, we ended up getting another drink and got a Brown Sugar Fresh Milk Tea. This was actually my first time trying a brown sugar drink, and now this hype is all over Vancouver. This drink was simple but delicious and I enjoyed the tinier pearls.

Overall, we had a great fun packed day in Taichung and I highly recommend checking FengJia Night Market out when you’re in Taichung. There is endless amounts to see and eat at this night market so I can see why it’s so popular!

 

 

Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Flyer

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Whenever we visit Singapore, we have the luxury to live at S’s aunt’s home so we never have to worry about the high cost of hotels in Singapore. This time around, we did the same, but I also wanted to check off something on my bucket list. Since the last time we visited Singapore, one of my regrets was not staying at the Marina Bay Sands. This time around, I made it a goal that we stay just one night! I think everyone should try to stay here one night during their trip in Singapore despite the high prices because it’s quite worth it!

 

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The hotel is architecturally amazing to look at from both the outside and inside. It is connected to a casino and the shopping mall, and also has a variety of restaurants inside. It’s also famous for the infinity pool which is now only open to hotel guests. In the past, you could pay a price to use the pool even if you didn’t stay at the hotel. Another reason why it’s worth the price!

 

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We decided to go with the Premier Room which I believe the only difference from the Deluxe Room is that it comes with an additional deep-soaking bathtub. After some price comparisons on different booking sites, I believe we booked it directly through Marina Bay Sand’s reservation system for $540 CAD for one night. Upon entering the room, there is a small hallway with lots of closet space. I was surprised at how spacious the room was!

 

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To the right was the bathroom. I loved the bathroom as it was so spacious with great lighting. Plus, the double sink is perfect for couples! The deep-soaking bathtub turned out to be great and I got to enjoy a bubble bath!

 

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As you can see, the room had plenty of space. There was no problem opening our two large suitcases and still having plenty of room to walk around.

 

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We opted for the King bed but you can also choose two single beds.

 

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Bedding and pillows were comfy and clean. No complaints!

 

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They also left a cute animal towel on our table.

 

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The room also came with a small desk with two sofa chairs. We enjoyed sitting here enjoying the view.

 

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We had requested for a higher level and they ended up giving us a city view which are available from the 19th to 39th floor. I was not disappointed in this view at all!

 

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We were also able to see the Esplanade and Art Science Museum from our room. The other side of the hotel would face the gardens.

 

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Look at the view during sunset! Just amazing!

 

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On our way to check out the Sands Skypark Infinity Pool, there is an area where you can see the view of Gardens by the Bay.

 

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You’ll need your hotel pass to get to this area because otherwise, you’ll need to pay to go to the Skypark Observation Deck. This costs $23 SGD and we did this the last time we visited. However, on the day we visited, it had a haze from a nearby fire so we could barely see anything. This time around, we could enjoy the views even without heading to the paid area since we had our hotel pass.

 

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Finally, we checked out the infinity pool to our left! Remember to bring your hotel pass to get in as each guest needs to bring their own. Honestly, the pool was breathtaking! It definitely tops one of the nicest pools I have ever been to. And I think the most impressive part is how long the pool is. It just stretched on for so long! I also liked how they had sections where it was adults only so we didn’t have to worry about kids.

 

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Up on the 57th floor, the view of the city is stunning. You can get the famous infinity pool picture here with the backdrop of the city. Towels are complimentary so it’s super hassle free to dry off or lounge around on the chairs. We’ve been to Sparkling Hill in Kelowna which also features an infinity pool, but the way this one is designed gives a much better infinity feel. It really looks like there is no ledge to the pool! I suggest using the pool both day and night to enjoy both views. It’s really a different experience although it can get a bit more busy during the evening. You can also order food and drinks here, but be warned that the prices are not cheap.

 

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After enjoying the pool in the afternoon, we decided to head to the Singapore Flyer. You can easily access it from a short walk from the hotel on this bridge. You can enjoy some scenic views of the Helix Bridge and Art Science Museum here!

 

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The Singapore Flyer is an observation wheel near the Marina Bay Sands which provides a 360 degree view of the city. The wheel will take you 165 metres above ground and takes around 30 minutes for a full cycle.

 

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The capsules are fully air conditioned which is a must in this heat! We were lucky because the Flyer was not very busy that day so we actually got to enjoy the capsule alone! Loved how we had the privacy to take as many pictures as we wanted. There are also benches in the middle for you to sit down and enjoy the view.

 

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Adult admission tickets are $33 SGD and despite the high price, I think it’s quite worth it on a sunny day. The views are quite spectacular from the city view to the gardens and the ocean. If you haven’t been to Gardens by the Bay, then I suggest purchasing the dual ticket on KLOOK as the two tickets only come to $52.50 SGD which is more than $10 SGD in discount.

 

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The view of the gardens from up top is truly magical! I can imagine the night time view to be just as good!

 

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Looking for a quick dinner, we decided to head over to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands which is connected to the hotel. Here, you will find all the top designer and luxury brands. Even if you don’t plan on spending here, it’s a nice mall to chcek out as the architecture and design is quite nice. You’ll even find a section that looks like Venice and you can take a gondola on the fake river.

 

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Unfortunately, most of the restaurants at the mall are also high end. You’ll find international brands here, but they also have a food court which sells a variety of cuisines. The food court is called Rasapura Masters and is in the basement floor. S got some Hainanese chicken, but since I hadn’t had any Indian food this time in Singapore, I decided to go for some Indian food at Indian Express. What a mistake… The food was honestly a bit underwhelming with the curries just sitting in the heat warmer and served lukewarm. Honestly, the taste didn’t even annoy me that much that night, but I ended up getting mild food poisoning that night. And that’s not what I anticipated for my stay at Marina Bay Sands. Also, food at this food court is definitely not as cheap as the hawker centres. It’s still cheap, but given the price for the quality of food, I’d much rather go to a hawker centre if it wasn’t for the convenience of being close to the hotel.

 

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After dinner, we rushed out of the mall towards the water as we wanted to watch the light and water show. As we walked out, we turned around to catch a glimpse of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It was all lit up and looked gorgeous!

 

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Towards the water, we saw the cool looking Louis Vuitton store and Art Science Museum. Also all lit up!

 

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And the city view all lit up night is truly breathtaking.

 

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Finally, Spectra – a Marina Bay Sands Light and Water Show began. The show features choreographed fountains, lava and mist effects and an orchestral soundtrack. It also features a 12 metre-high glass prism centerpiece that forms really interesting laser illusions! The show is free for the public so a must see!

 

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The show is at the Event Plaza on the first floor of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and lasts 15 minutes. It happens twice every night at 8pm and 9pm with an additional 10pm show on Fridays and Saturdays.

 

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We then quickly hurried over to the Gardens by the Bay to catch the Garden Rhapsody which happens every night at 7:45pm and 8:45pm for free. The supertrees are all lit up and it changes based on some live music. However, we had a hard time finding the right exit from the hotel to the gardens, so we ended up watching it from this observation deck that leads to the gardens. We found the music to be too quiet from this area and the view to be a bit underwhelming. After further research after the event, I learned that the best view to enjoy this show is actually right under the trees at the garden. Just find a spot to sit down and lean back a bit. Will have to try that next time!

 

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After all the shows, we headed back to the infinity pool for our last dip. Then we headed back to our room to enjoy the night view.

 

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Really can’t complain about the price with all the views and amenities this hotel offers. This was probably one of the highlights of the trip and I can’t wait to find an excuse to stay here again! A must try when you visit Singapore, even if it’s just a night! The perfect way to end our trip in Singapore as well.

 

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The next morning, we headed to the Changi Airport as we were flying out to our next destination, Taipei, Taiwan! The Changi Airport is a world class airport with many amenities and attractions. There are now 4 terminals in total, so if you arrive early or have a layover at the airport, it is definitely worth checking out all the different attractions!

 

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We decided to have some chicken rice at the airport as our last meal. I can’t quite remember the name of the stall but it is in the basement floor.

 

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Chicken was smooth and tender. Not bad for an airport stall but portions were a bit small. And that ended our trip in Singapore! Until next time! But now we move on to Taiwan!

 

 

Changi Village Hawker Centre and Jurong Bird Park

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Since it was my second time visiting Singapore, I wanted to visit some new places this time. S suggested we check out Changi Village so we headed to Changi Village Hawker Centre to have lunch. Apparently public transportation can be a bit difficult, but since S’s aunt drove us, it was no problem. She suggested we try the popular Nasi Lemak at International Muslim Nasi Lemak. The nearby stall Mizzy’s Corner is also famous for nasi lemak, but many often say it’s not as good. I got my nasi lemak with fried fish and otak which also came with a sunny side up egg, cucumbers, some fried anchovies and sambal chili sauce. The dish looked simple and messy, but this was delicious! The jasmine rice was fragrant and fluffy and delicious paired with the sweet and savoury chili. I did find the sambal to be quite spicy though but I normally don’t eat too spicy. I wasn’t a fan of the fried fish too much as I don’t normally like to eat a whole fish like that. Wasn’t really sure where to start to be honest. The otak which is a fish cake wrapped in a banana leaf was delicious and fragrant though. It also has quite the kick!

 

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S got the Nasi Lemak Chicken Set which comes coconut rice, fried anchovies, a sunny side up egg, cucumbers, sambal chili and a crispy chicken wing. The chicken wing is a favourite with a slight ginger flavour and light batter. A popular choice!

After lunch, we headed towards Changi Beach Park to take a stroll. This is a nice getaway from the busy city as the beach is quite quiet. However, I don’t think there’s much to do and doesn’t compare to the beaches in Vancouver. Still, it’s worth taking a quick stroll if you’re in the area already. You’ll also find Changi Point Ferry Terminal here where there are a bunch of junk boats parked ready to take you to Pulau Ubin, a nearby island, for just $3 SGD.

 

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After lunch, we decided to check out the Jurong Bird Park, but note that it is a bit far from the city and is all the way east. There are some buses that will take you to the entrance though. We were lucky enough to be driven there so it wasn’t too bad. Tickets aren’t exactly cheap. They’re $30 SGD for adults and if you want to take the tram to get around as well, it cost another $5 SGD. We bought it on KLOOK so only paid $30 SGD for the admission including the tram. The tram isn’t really necessary if you’re ready to walk and the weather is good. However, as we went on a rainy day, we thought the tram would be beneficial.

 

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I believe the bird park is one of the largest bird parks in Asia. It is well designed and very clean. With over 5,000+ bird with over 400 species, you’ll be surprised at how many types of birds there are! Many of the birds are actually roaming around free but of course the dangerous ones are caged. There are also many activities including bird feedings and we also got to watch the Birds of Prey where we saw some eagles flying around. It was a bit scary but the show was very impressive!

 

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You’ll find parrots, flamingos, toucans, pelicans, hawks and even penguins!

 

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I mean look at these cute penguins just roaming around!

 

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We also found a peacock just walking around when we visited the waterfall inside the park. This also unfortunately ended our picture taking because a monsoon arrived and the downpour of rain was unreal. We ended up having to sit around in a sheltered area for an hour before we could continue walking around. The tram therefore made it very convenient for us to catch up missed time and hit the spots we wanted to see. Even though the rain was unpleasant, the park itself had lots to see. Even as someone who isn’t big for birds, I found the park quite interesting. On a sunny day, this would be a great spot to bring the family.

 

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After visiting the bird park, we took the bus back out to the city center to meet up with S’s relatives. They took us to a hawker centre, but unfortunately I can’t remember which one. We enjoyed some soya sauce chicken.

 

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And also some delicious BBQ chicken wings!

 

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We also headed to the supermarket so I could purchase a bunch of food souvenirs. The aunt also suggested we try this durian cempedak which is a Malaysian fruit. It looks sort of like a durian but without all the spikes. Inside, there are many tiny bulbs of fruit which all have stone like seeds inside. The taste was closer to jackfruit and I quite enjoyed it! Worth giving some of these exotic fruits a try while you’re in Singapore!

 

 

Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh 亞華肉骨茶, McDonald’s Nasi Lemak Burger, Day 1 of Singapore Grand Prix Formula 1

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The main reason for visiting Singapore this time around was because S wanted to watch the Singapore Grand Prix Formula 1 race. The race itself doesn’t usually start until night time although there are some other non-Formula 1 races going on in the afternoon. Therefore, we made sure to grab some lunch before heading to see the afternoon races. We decided to go to a nearby shopping mall, Raffles City Shopping Centre and found Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh 亞華肉骨茶. They are known for their bak kut teh. I decided to go with the Prime Rib Cuts and you get a bowl of tea with two large prime ribs and a bowl of rice. The tea is refillable and they will come around to ask if you want more.The prime ribs were very tender and the meat fell off the bone. The tea itself was peppery which I quite enjoyed.

 

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S wasn’t really feeling bak kut teh so he chose to get the Mee Hua Soup with Minced Pork Balls and this was served with you tiao or Chinese donuts. The good thing about this restaurant is they serve other dishes other than bak kut teh. Nothing too special about this Mee Hua though, and it was a bit small for the price. Be warned that the prices here are slightly higher as it’s a full service restaurant in the mall. It also charges for the use of the wet wipes, so don’t use them if you have your own and remember to check your receipt.

 

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After lunch, we decided to head over to the F1 race to check out the area and see where our seats were. The Singapore race is typically in September and the 3 day event is from Friday to Sunday. However, the final race is on Sunday and you can choose to only purchase single day tickets. S is a huge fan so we got the 3 day grandstand package. S chose to purchase the Stamford Grandstand which has a view of Turn 7 which comes just after the racers go at their highest speed. If you are able to take advantage of the early bird price, you can get these tickets at $448 SGD (regular price at $498 SGD). Given the amount of entertainment and concerts the Singapore Grand Prix offers, it isn’t too bad of a deal.

 

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The nice thing about the Stamford Grandstand is it’s close to the Raffles City Shopping Centre and Suntec City Shopping Centre. Given it’s still burning hot and humid in September, you’re likely going to want to head into a shopping mall for some air conditioning during the breaks. It was also good for our year when it decided to rain a lot.

 

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The entire vicinity is actually really easy to access as well. There are tons of volunteers around the area to direct you and answer your questions, but the map they give you is also really easy to follow. During our breaks, we would walk around the area to check out other entertainment which is laid out across the track. The best part about the Singapore race is that it’s a night street race. The track is in the middle of the city centre, so you can check out all the tourist attractions during the day. We were able to get some great shots of the Marina Bay Sands as one of the grandstands is nearby.

 

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Throughout the afternoon, there are also roving acts which are entertainers that move around. They are stationed at different areas at different times so be sure to check the schedule to see which acts you want to see and plan accordingly. A great act we had during the 2017 race was the Acro-Chaps. They are acrobats with mustaches and they can do some crazy moves! I love how they also try to incorporate the crowds into their acts!

 

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Dining at the venue is not cheap but because the venue is in the city centre, it’s easy to step out to go to a shopping mall or nearby restaurant to grab some food. For dinner, we decided to head to the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and check out McDonalds! Yes, I love to check out McDonalds when I travel as there are often menu items you won’t find in Canada. During our time in Singapore, they had the the Nasi Lemak Burger which was available for a limited time. We got the whole limited edition meal which also came with Potato Wedges and Bandung McFizz. The Bandung McFizz is a fizzy rose syrup drink and was great to quench the spice, but I personally wouldn’t get it again. It tasted like a syrupy soda.

 

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The star of the show was definitely the Nasi Lemak Burger though. The coconut flavoured chicken is juicy and crispy and coated with a cornflakes for a nice crunch. It’s paired with a sweet, spicy sambal sauce and topped with a fried egg, caramelized onions and crunchy cucumber slices. It really did taste like eating nasi lemak! And the crispy chicken was absolutely delicious. If you like spicy chicken, you’ll enjoy this!

 

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The first night is for practice so this is the time when the racers can test out the track and get ready for the next two days. This was the view we had from the Stamford Grandstand. To our left is turn 7 where you’ll see the curve and cars coming out and then to our right is a short straight. At our stand, you can also see the live TV broadcasting the cars.

 

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The night race is definitely a cool experience but keep in mind that it’s a bit more difficult to take pictures, especially since the cars are already moving at high speed. Be sure to bring your best camera if you’re planning on taking some high quality pictures!

 

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At night time, you can also enjoy the beautiful night views of Singapore. I loved how the lights changed compared to usual. The red and blue lights were really spectacular!

 

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Each night, there is also a huge headliner concert to enjoy. This will usually begin just after the last race. The 2017 year had some top headliners including Calvin Harris, The Chainsmokers, Arriana Grande, and One Republic. The Singapore Grand Prix really knows who to invite for entertainment! Even for myself who is not a huge fan of the race, there was plenty to do and the ticket price was well worth the concerts I got to attend. Of course, if you are not a huge fan, I would suggest getting the walk-about tickets so you can just quickly check out the race and then head to the concerts. However, I wouldn’t suggest spending the whole day there as you’ll likely be tired and sunburned without a seat. The price is roughly $100 less than getting a seat. On the first night, we enjoyed One Republic!

 

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If you are a huge fan, I suggest arriving early as fans are already sitting on the grass an hour in advance to be as close to the singers as possible.

 

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However, remember that the concert is outdoor and Singapore is still hot and humid even in the evenings. We had never had such a sweaty concert before! It was not very enjoyable to be honest because we were standing shoulder to shoulder with people and everyone was sweating!

 

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But arriving early to secure a spot did mean we could get close up shots of the singer! If you’re not a diehard fan, then I suggest just standing in the back as there are two large screens broadcasting live anyways. Plus, the music is booming up front and almost too loud.

 

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I think the coolest part about the live concerts in Singapore is the skyline you get in the background. Super cool to see all the buildings lit up just off to the side! Anyways, we rushed out just before the concert ended in order to avoid line ups exiting and to get on the Metro quickly. Day 1 of Singapore’s Formula 1 done!